Portugal, facing an uncontrolable outbreak of forest and fires and a scorching heatwave, has appealed to NATO for assistance. This assistance would come in the form of air support and heavy equipment to help fight the fires. But what is baffling to this journalist and European, is why the hell does Portugal have to ask NATO for such things? Has it gotten so bad that the European Union can’t organize itself to assist its member states in the face of emergencies? How is it that Brussels hasn’t already dispatched assistance in its various forms to Portugal, France, Spain and any other nations facing this hurrendous crisis. By not providing its member states with the necessary aid, it helps legitimize the military-industrial dinosaur also known as NATO. An organization who’s charter expired with the cold war, and tries its best to be important in world affairs, and constantly undermind EU initiatives in the areas of defence and conflict resolution.

If Brussels has in fact taken action, it should do more and be quite public about it. Don’t force your poor children to go begging the nearest scumbag just waiting to be called upon.

And while on the subject of crisis and record breaking-destructive heat, how about that… still think Global Warming doesn’t exist? Oh wait.. the only ones who didnt are in the air-conditioned white house. Maybe someday they’ll actually notice the world going on around them.

Flag of Convenience

Well… the Spanish government, as usual, has been completely impotent do defend Galicia from the toxic black poison that has hit the shores all over that region. Aznar has proven once and for all, to be one of the worst prime ministers in Spain’s history… the man has no plans for anything except arresting people who don’t follow his politics.

Local governments have tried setting up those floating bueys that are supposed to block the oil, but the ocean is so rough that the waves are going right over these barriers. The slick is making its way into the Minho River in northern Portugal. The EU is unacceptably taking forever to respond! This is precisely when a rapid reaction military force could be put to use… send them instantly to stop the oil slick. with all the guns and bombs – all they know how to do is destroy, they are rarely used to protect and serve.

The boat was registered in Bahamas. The government of Bahamas will be one of the first to be taken to trial if there is any justice on this planet! An American company was the last to inspect the ship, that company is the second entity to be taken to court, they let that ship sail! The European Parliament balked on a bill to ban ships like the prestige from sailing because they didnt want to hurt oil prices, the ENTIRE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT must be taken before a world court, charged with endangering the planet and destroying the lives of EU citizens. This should be war… this is truely terror!

This will be a personal story… but its about people and the politics of identity.

Today, someone who I respect a great deal though I havent known them long, turned to me and said… “Really mark, you’re American…. right? I mean….. You’re American…”

So I naturally responded… “YES…. and I’m Portuguese” … a response that is quite automatic from me… people automatically assume by my perfect northeastern American english that I’m American. But they know little as to where Im from and what my past involves.

So the conversation continues…. he says to my comment about being Portuguese… “Yeah… but… YOu’re American… I mean… even in Portugal… (something to that effect) ” I responded, slightly bored – “Yes… and I’m Portuguese in America… I know about both cultures because both are mine.. I can talk politics, art, geography, history… family… as both a Portuguese person and an American.”

The conversation faded to something else after that… but I could help but be disappointed in this person and in general. This is not the first time or the last that I get the “But mark… you’re american” It’s disappointing that people feel the need to put me in a little box… so that they can categorize me and feel they understand all. You see… YOU CAN’T PUT ME IN A LITTLE BOX THAT SAYS “This kind of thing” BECAUSE I REFUSE TO FIT IN YOUR BOX! ITs true that I judge people sometimes.. and thats sad. But honestly, If I ever felt this need to put everyone in this box.. Im not sure how I’d go on in this life. Why do people get intimidated by my identity? It’s my dam identity! If you think its rare or impossible of false…. I have to wonder why you’re so worried about me… after all, I’m the one who has to live with this identity… and might I add… I quite enjoy who I am. I’m a very versitile and dynamic person… I hope and do my best to increase that.

I guess I should just relax… people just worry about my identity…. maybe I should be flattered.

So for those who didn’t know: There were elections in Kashmir this week. Not your typical: Go to the old grammar school, greet the old folks and vote type vote. No m’am. This was one of those get shot at, get bombed, barely make it to the polls alive elections. Something westerners would know very little about. (they tend not to go to the polls if it rains… imagine it raining bullets!!) Nevertheless 40% of registered voters did their thing… and on October 10th the count will be concluded… and one of the longest running/dangerous disputes in world history will open a new chapter. (or an old chapter with different illustrations and nicely bound)

For those who don’t know what or where Kashmir is… I refuse to explain. You’ve got the internet at your disposal… go to www.timesofindia.com, or www.bbc.co.uk and look for it.. you can’t miss it…

Belgium seems tempting this weekend. Chocolate, mussels and french fries will be eaten.

This just in: NEW DELHI: Dreaded mafia don Abu Salem has been arrested in Lisbon, Portugal, intelligence sources said here on Friday. The sources said Salem’s satellite phone was tracked down using GPS technology.

Dam those Lisbon secret police are good!

Prologue to a Blog

So why should one be into this fad of keeping a log? I haven’t the foggiest. It’s quite narcisistic (try spelling that) Regardless, it has begun.

In precisely 48 hours, bicyclemark will be in Belgium en route to Amsterdam, and Lisbon, Portugal will no longer be home, as it has been for the past 8 months. The bags are packed, the apartment is a mess (for the moment) and mentally he is ready to move into his new life in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Perhaps the sweetest punch is that he will once again be a university student… grad student to be exact. A life that values thought and creativity (perhaps) unlike the real world that frowns about such things if they don’t lead to the amassing of wealth. The Chinese proverb, “may you live in interesting times” comes to mind, though these “times” would qualify more as sickening and depressing than interesting… but theres a thin line between those.