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Notes from the Otherground

Weblog regularly updated with contributions by writers, thinkers, people from all walks of life, the street, artists, etc. Often reality or history items, nothing directly to do with film or art necessarily. Updated and edited by DeZ Vylenz & Michael Damien.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Snow Surprise

Another week, another pound. More crisis in the news, as if nothing good is also happening. The snowfall made most of the UK ground to a halt, but really shows the incompetence of those in charge of the infrastructure. Not even salt on stairs or sidewalks when it started to melt. I guess that tax money everbody coughs up has to cover bonuses for the top dogs and finance building projects nobody needs. Talk about skimming off money, it's going on everywhere in the world.

A few images of families playing with their children, sleds drawn by dogs as if they were Poledogs. Now why is there not more of that positive coverage. When I grew up back in Suriname, there was always a kind of anecdotal item at the end of the 8 o'clock news.

After all the wars, economic pessimism and starvation on the box, something from around the world to show another angle, something uplifting.

This year we're hoping to launch this particular weblog as a place for everybody to send a little 2 minute item from all corners of the world. Notes From the Other Ground.

Feel free to send anything you think is not covered by the world media, as long as you keep it "civilized".

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Monday, March 24, 2008

Towards a more perfect Union

Over a week ago, old footage was shown in the US depicting reverend Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church in Chicago back in 2001, uttering statements like:

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye...and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost." Wright went on state: "Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that."

Being Barack Obama’s pastor and close friend, this put the senator in an awkward spot. Having been a close friend to the pastor, did he know and or share these views? If yes, why did he not distance himself from the man or his views? On march 18, Obama responded with the following speech:

I feel that no matter if one supports Obama or not, this speech has an everlasting truth to it, not only for the US, but for the whole world. I consider it one of his best speeches ever, if not the best ever and surely one of the best I’ve heard so far.

Posted by Michael Damien  

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Law Enforcement

As London's mayor Ken Livingstone announced proudly that he will put another 1,000 police officers in the street within the year to reduce crime. Giuliani's hard line Mayor tactics in New York seem to have inspired more government figures to flood the streets with more law enforcement to battle the symptoms of crime instead of fighting it at the source. Crime doesn't just materialise out of nothing and for sure won't be eradicated that easily.

Rather than tackling social conditions, lack of prospects or schooling, poverty in certain neighbourhoods, politicians always think they can just pump tax payers money into more uniforms.

Then there's more going on in Sweden, where the government has declared war on the oldest profession in the world:

So laws are like magic spells to politicians now, cast 'em quick and hard to exorcise the demons from our society, if you can't fix it, fuck it. So much for a realistic vision and real social awareness in the 21st century.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Prescription Drugs

On 22 January 2008, Heath Ledger died in Manhattan, New York City. Initially there was speculation of a drug overdose or suicide, but after autopsy it seemed that it was most likely an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

It's another reminder of how the generic word "drugs" is mostly used to denote "illegal drugs", especially hard drugs such as cocaine and heroine. At the same time legal drugs are considered relatively harmless, because there is a prescription or clear description to accompany it. If the government approved of it, then it probably is safe.

The dangers and incidents surrounding illegal drugs are far more publicised than those of legal concoctions churned out by the pharmaceutical industry. But even something readily available at the drugstore like Paracetamol can be lethal when the dose is double a few times too many.

Bottom line is: humanity has always used substances as pain relief, medicine, recreation or mind alteration, but the less chemical stuff goes into your body and the more research you can do as an individual what it actually is you're taking, the better.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mozzarella and the Mafia

Last week I read an article announcing the real possibility of a mozzarella cheese shortage. Like the sewage crisis, this could also be (partially) attributed to the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra. After seeing news reports about the garbage crisis in Naples, nothing surprises me anymore, but the Camorra and a mozzarella shortage?

The problem seems to be twofold. First, the mafia-controlled illegal dumping of waste around Naples has caused widespread pollution of streams and pastures. The region has become a cheap dumping site for industrial waste from all over Italy.

Mixed with household garbage, this toxic mix has been dumped all over the area by Camorra-infiltrated government and waste disposal companies and burned to conceal traces. Those involved in the business have been quoted that “the garbage turns into gold in our hands”, referring to the profits made by accepting millions of euros for disposing the (industrial) waste in a responsible way, but instead dumping it illegally, for free. The waste-disposal business, it seems, is less risky and has become more profitable for the Camorristi than the drug business.

The second problem is an infection of the buffalo-herd around Naples by bacteria known as brucellosis. Over the years, the infection as spread uncontrolled, infecting nearly a third of the herd and causing a rapid decline in mozzarella production. As the bacteria can also cause infection in humans when milk is not properly pasteurized, the whole herd has become suspect, its milk best avoided. The infection has been allowed to spread freely, because unlike in most countries no widespread culling has been implemented to contain it. After all, this is Camorra-country and the mafia-clans own some of the herds. Who would dare cull a buffalo herd owned by the mafia?

The answer is someone under police protection. Over the next weeks, strange scenes will play out in the Naples countryside, as government officials (probably not from around Naples) will start culling nearly 32.000 buffalo under heavy police escort. The pollution will however remain a problem in the foreseeable future. In 2004, an article in the Oncology Lancet referred to the region around Naples as the “Triangle of Death”, courtesy of heavy air, soil and water pollution caused by a toxic stew of cancer-causing waste dumped all over the area. Apparently this has already resulted in a noted increase in local mortality rates by various cancer-related illnesses.

So the next time I enjoy my pizza, I’ll appreciate the fact there’s still mozzarella on it, but at the same time hope it’s not from the “Triangle of Death”, or of made from milk supplied by one of the local Camorra clans.

Posted by Michael Damien  

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