Air Travel Moves Further Back in Time

by bicyclemark

Turned on the TV this morning as I finished packing. I had left myself only an hour to take care of last minute things and head to the airport for my flight back to Amsterdam via Munich. I’ve been doing these types of flights for years and years, I’m pretty good with timing and predicting problems at the airport. But man oh man.. I was so angry when I watched the news this morning.

The annoying British accent-guy on CNN international was going on and on about how New Scotland Yard just foiled a terrorist plot. Bla bla blah…. flights to the US from the UK.. bla bla bla a legitimate threat. I paused during my packing to occasionally turn to the TV and tell him to go fuck himself, him and hus smug “I understand terrorism and airtravel” reporting.

It was too late to try and get to the airport earlier. Not enough time. When I arrived the lines were longer than I’d ever seen, and it seemed like no one understood what was going on. Guess they don’t have time for the news when they wake up.

The line for checkin is long and full of people being turned away for flights to the UK. The people are very annoyed, and slowly start to ask each other what is going on. My own flight leaves mysteriously on time, though I didn’t know it at the time as I was stuck on the line the simply wouldn’t move. I looked up and down the terminal and enjoyed the surreal moment; at every desk there was an airline employee on a phone… waiting.

As I got shuffled from line to line, counter to counter, seemed like no one wanted to give me an alternative flight to my darling Amsterdam. Finally I found someone and pleaded my case, determined not to pay any penalties just because allegedly New Scotlandyard caught some terrorist plot.

I had to stand there and wait for quite a long time. As I stood there I pictured the CNN guy, still babbling along about what a huge deal this is and what a huge threat the UK and the US face today, and how the whole world will suffer. What a bunch of heresay and bullshit.

Think about it. They come on television, the authorities backed by the reporters the repeat verbatim their ever word, and they tell us a terror threat has been averted. They even go on to say it is likely to be a affiliate of Al Qaeda. ( I love how AlQaeda is painted to be like a radio station, like NBC and its affiliates. ) We the viewers, the citizens, are supposed to believe it. Hell, we automatically believe it. If its in the news and its reported by our authorities, it has to be real. And as a result, we all have to be punished of course… longer lines, stricter requirements, etc. As if they finally figured out how to stop terror this time, they’ve finally got the formula. Who doesn’t understand by now that this war on terrorism is the most inexact science / guessing game the world has ever seen? It’s all about acting like they know what’s going on.. and the public believing them. They follows panic at the airports, further stress on citizens who already have to deal with their budget cuts, taxes for their crusades in the middle east and beyond, losing family members to manufactured wars, and no garuntee of any kind of pension after a lifetime of paying for it.

Oddly enough, as I’m waiting for my new flight, which has now been delayed for 2-3 hours, a security guy starts talking to me. He had just found out about the UK situation, he told me. I mentioned that it happened early this morning, but that the truth is we really have no idea if anything happened. His eyes open wider and he leans in with his terrible breath, “I tell you what I think, and I know people don’t like to hear it, but I believe the US government had something to do with 9/11, and they love having these situations to get more support from scared people.”

I looked around a little before responding, as it felt like a setup. In my mind’s eye I could picture me taking the bait and saying “yes, I think so” and then his security buddies jump me and I never make it back to home-sweet-home. – I didn’t see any other security people around, so I quickly responded, “It’s certainly possible, regardless if people agree with you, it would not be impossible.” And I added one more line before trying to get out of the path of his terrible coffee breath, “But really, it doesn’t matter who did it anymore. What matters is what people believe and how they write it in the history books.” With that he gave me a knowing secret-society nod and went back to yelling at frustrated passengers who dared to move the little designated area rope.

I guess I’ll make it to Amsterdam today. But I’m pretty fed up with air travel and global logic regarding terrorism. What’s the point if we can’t really fly as free humans anymore. We can’t carry our things anymore. We have to get on the plane naked. Actually I take it back, that would be interesting. But barring the charm of nudity, I don’t see how the terrorists haven’t in fact won. We may still be alive, but the question becomes, with all the lines, fearmongering, half-truths, and heresay.. how are we really living?

Less Reality For the News Reports

by bicyclemark

Back in action here in soggy and cool Amsterdam. As I catch up with my news feeds, I notice, especially in respectable sources like Germany’s Spiegel online, a dominance of world cup related stories. Where once they addressed issues regarding people’s lives around the world, since the world cup began it is endless “match reports” and photo shows of who lost against who. And while I realize my blog has had a little of that lately, I expect better from respected news sources that people depend on to know what is happening and why, in the world around them.

berlin0606211It actually reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend in Berlin who works for a very respected news radio network there. Normally my friend researches and records segments regarding the lives of immigrants in Germany and the issues that are of major concern in those communities. – An important line of reporting, needless to say, to give voice to the often voiceless.

Yet as I sat having lunch with my friend, I was told about how since the Cup began, her bosses have turned many of her pieces away. Making “room” for world cup related content, they told her. Nevermind which children’s school is in a state of chaos or dissaray, we need to hear more from fans who have painted their chests in black, yellow, and red.

I tried to console my friend by mentioning a little sign I saw in many extra-alternative cafes near the Kastanien Allee, which read: “world cup free zone”. These places looked empty, but admist all the obsession and ignoring of real things happening to suffering and struggling people everywhere, a world cup free zone might do us all some good.

An Excellent Way to Settle Disputes Between Iran and Israel

by bicyclemark

Let me just preface this post with one thing I want to be clear on: I’m not being sarcastic on this one. Matter of fact, remind me not to use sarcasm as a regular method of blogging, it’s a lazy cop out I occasionally fall into. I digress, here’s the headline from the BBC today:

A group of Israeli diplomats wants to sue Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide.

Incitement to genocide is what it sounds like. And under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, it is a crime. Nevermind the punishment, I’m not here to worry about that. What interests me is the method this group of Israeli’s have chosen to use to combat the statements and the potential implications of those statements by the Iranian president. This is what I called civilized. Not bombs or soldiers or threats, legal action on an international scale. It’s how it would work in my slightly more idealistic version of the world.

But this interests me for another reason. During my days as a masters student here in the Amsterdam, I had a professor who was very involved with the UN and particularly concerned about the role of media that incites genocide. Think Rwanda, for example, where radio was the tool used by Hutu extremists to first incite more and more hate and eventually culminating in violence which, if I recall correctly, was coordinated by use of radio programs as well.

So my professor had this idea for the creation of a monitor under the UN umbrella. It would be a media monitor, and its function would be to watch media (all types) to proactively detect if and when it is being used to incite genocide. Now, you might already be asking “then what” but like I said before, one step at a time; and it would be a very important step to be able to catch these things BEFORE they happen.

It has been some time since I sat and talked with that professor, and this is all reminding me of his plan. And although this situation with Israel and Iran is slightly different, and I don’t claim to know if the Iranian president is guilty or not-STILL- I have the utmost respect for any government or group of citizens who put together a case to be presented before the international court and before the eyes of the entire world, pointing out the violation of a very important treaty, and when a leader could be inciting violence on a mass scale.

So we’ll see what happens. And whatever happens, the symbolic value, the example such an action represents in the form of using non-people killing methods, is big in itself.