Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pakistan Blogs

"I was terribly sorry that the assassination denied the people of Pakistan their full range of choices in the scheduled election. Assassination is foul murder, and also a tragic crime against the voters, a form of the most serious treason against the nation."
The Pakistani Spectator :: Read the rest of the post HERE

"History has always been written by those who hang heroes"
Saady :: Read the rest of the post HERE

"This weekend was a truly sad one, not just because of a great politician and leader of our country being murdered but what her supporters and other elements did to Karachi in the name of mourning."
Deadpan Thoughts :: Read the rest of the post HERE (pictures)

"Benazir Bhutto has stayed with us enough to leave behind her vision of the future. Let us honour that vision. Her sacrifice has not weakened the federation, she has made the federation stronger. But we are not talking about a federation presided over by Musharraf. We are talking about a federation free of the army's involvement and Musharraf's presence."
Farrukh Khan Pitafi :: Read the rest of the post HERE

"Her murder is the murder of Pakistani nation."
The Pakistani Spectator :: Read the rest of the post HERE

"Also, the government suddenly realizes that Pakistan should be kept clean, so they wash the whole scene immediately after the incident."
Land of Pure :: Read the rest of the post HERE

"And then it sunk in. My country. My people. Me. What a loss. What a loss. I did not support Benazir but I think she was a great politician of Pakistan. What a loss."
Jalaluddin :: Read the rest of the post HERE

See what Pakistan Bloggers are saying today

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Making of a Modern Day Martyr

The world watched carefully as the drama of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination unfolded before us. Video of the incident shows a person beside Bhutto’s car shooting a handgun three times towards her, followed by a bomb blast. Immediately several first hand accounts – including doctors, American journalists, bystanders, Bhutto’s aides and even her husband - witnessed to the world the death of Bhutto from gunshot wounds.

The Pakistani Interior Ministry also confirmed that Bhutto had died - from a gunshot wound to the neck.

Then, in rapid succession, the Interior Ministry issued conflicting statements regarding Bhutto’s death. They first claimed that she was killed by shrapnel from the explosion rather than gunshot wounds and then that she died merely from a skull fracture suffered when she fell into the car - and not as a result of any attack. Finally, after all the explanations offered seemed to create some controversy, the Pakistani Interior Ministry stated simply "It is immaterial how she died."

However - it is precisely the importance of how and why she died that has created this desperate attempt to sow doubt and confusion around her death.

"They're trying to deny her a martyr's death" CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson said. "Her torch burns bright now forever. She's forever young; she's forever brave, challenging against all odds the party in power and challenging the military and Islamic extremism."

Bhutto's detractors, including members of the Pakistan government, would seemingly control that legacy if successful in minimizing the attacks role in her demise.

But Benazir Bhutto will become even more influential in her death than she was in life.

Silencing a living opponent might seem easy enough - but silencing a martyr?

Not likely.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"She Has Been Martyred”

Pakistani opposition leader and leading Prime Ministerial contender Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi today.

"I am not afraid, I am ready to die for my country."
- Benazir Bhutto (with Time Magazine)

Benazir Bhutto was many things in life – a well educated, charismatic, high profile world leader; a former prime minister; a promoter of democracy; an anti terrorism crusader; a courageous and brave human being... but more importantly, I think, she was a woman. The first woman to lead a modern Muslim country.

Democratically elected twice by her people, she was deposed and ousted both times amid alleged charges of "corruption" that appeared politically motivated by male dominated and militarily backed political rivals. She spent time in exile, under house arrest and years jailed in solitary confinement. Yet, despite this past treatment and intelligence reports indicating that Islamic militants would send suicide bombers after her, she returned to participate in the democratic election set for January 8th, bringing hope once again to the people of Pakistan.

With less than two weeks to go to that election, Bhutto’s campaign, struggle and life are finished in what is surely a tragedy for Pakistan, if not the world.

Peace Be Upon Her.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Seasons Greetings from
the Wojtaszek Family

Tracking Santa

Before Duncan and I head off to bed very early this Christmas Eve we have discovered that NORAD had updated their Santa Tracking site - they now have a cool addition where you can actually track Santa in 3-D through Google Earth. We are watching as Santa is warming up his reindeer at the North Pole. He leaves in a few minutes! First stop - Russia.

I've always loved this time of year - and even more so now as a parent. Let the magic begin!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We Are the Internet

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Winter Solstice Approacheth

The Dark of Midwinter

Today the sun didn't rise until 8:45am - it's 3:20pm and already the sun is going down. By the time the Solstice comes this year (Dec 22nd in 2007) the sun won't rise here before 8:49am and will set a mere seven hours and 27 minutes later. These next few days are the darkest days of our winter - time well spent in the comfort of celebration and hot chocolate!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dziekanski’s last words were plea for help

Dziekanski Memorial by Heart Industry.

"I want to get out, help me find the way...
Police! Police! Can't you help me?
- Robert Dziekanski, before being killed by the RCMP

The New Zealand Herald reported ("Man tasered to death was asking for help" Nov 16 2007) that a polish blogger had translated the last words of Robert Dziekanski (see above).

Immediate Restriction on Tasers

An interim report on Taser Use released by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) today has made 10 recommendations for immediate implementation.

Here are two important highlights:

Recommendation 1: RCMP immediately restrict the use of the Taser by classifying it as an "impact weapon" in the use of force model (allowing use only in those situations where an individual is behaving in a "combative" manner or posing a risk of "death or grievous bodily harm" to the officer, themselves or the general public.

Recommendation 2: In situations where an individual appears to be experiencing the condition(s) of excited delirium that the RCMP only use the Taser when the behaviour is also combative or poses a risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the officer, the individual or the general public.

Read the Executive Summary and the full recommendations online.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Like I'd Never Seen the Sky Before

Today is a special anniversary for Duncan and I, especially given our shared proclivity to the magic of the number seven...

This day marks 7 years since the day our destinies merged together and we found new meaning in life, together. It wasn't the easiest of beginnings - for anyone who has ever fallen in love with their best friend can attest to the confusion and problems this might create - but after a while it became apparent that neither of us could imagine a life or a world where we would not be together, come what may.

Since then the time has flown by, even too quickly perhaps (7 years already!!!). My days start snuggled into the man who doesn't want to let me go even though the day beckons him. When we are together we are hand in hand and full of smiles, debating some political issue or just enjoying what is going on around us. When we are apart my heart longs just enough for him to know I am missing him, and to rejoice when we are reunited again. We are always wanting to share something about our day with each other (which is what msn, text messages, faceboook, and email are for!), and we end our days much the same way we start them - falling asleep in each others arms. Life with Duncan is a gift I get to live every day, and in return I want to give him everything.

Happy 7 Years Duncan; I will love you until my dying day - and forever more.

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's Officially Christmas in Alberta!

Merry Christmas everyone!

You can see my other Christmas pictures here!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Her Father, Her Murderer…

"Self-professed mercy killer Robert Latimer denied day parole" Macleans Magazine, December 5, 2007.

On October 24th 1993 Robert Latimer murdered his 12 year old disabled daughter Tracy. A pre-meditated murder, he had considered options like giving her valium, shooting her in the head and then burning her body. Ultimately he decided to poison her by piping carbon monoxide into his truck, where he had previously secured her. He then watched her die - it took 30 minutes.

Latimer killed Tracy while her family was at church and then placed her body in bed for her mother to discover. For some time Latimer lied about killing his daughter - claiming that she had passed away in her sleep and even tried to have her body cremated before an autopsy could be preformed. He only confessed to her murder after the results of the autopsy showed carbon monoxide poisoning to be the cause of death.

Ironically, just twelve days before Tracy was killed, Latimer was offered a permanent placement for Tracy at a nearby facility - but he rejected it saying he had "other plans."

Is the law and this situation complicated? Perhaps. But Latimer was convicted twice and found unanimously guilty of second degree murder by all 24 jurors.

Even today Latimer remains unrepentant and sees himself as the real victim, believing that he did the right thing – meaning he would do it all over again given the opportunity. That's a dangerous precedent that puts him at a higher risk of re-offending or encouraging others to perpetrate like crimes.

Parole is not a guaranteed right of a criminal, but something they can earn through demonstration of appropriate behaviours. The parole board tries to determine if you have the potential to re-offend, usually this is based on an acknowledgement that you committed an offence and have demonstrated some kind of remorse because of it, yet the parole board said they were left with the feeling "Mr. Latimer has not developed sufficient insight and understanding of his actions." The fact that even years after Latimer murdered his daughter he is unable to show remorse for his crime demands that he be kept in prison.

Tracy suffered from a disability called Cerebral Palsy - a non-progressive, non- life threatening disorder that approx 50,000 other Canadians also live with – with a normal life expectancy. A person with the disorder can expect to improve somewhat during childhood if they receive the necessary care from specialists and their disabilities are properly managed. Latimer admitted to the parole board that he and his wife did not seek outside help or advice about Tracy. He also did not provide her with adequate pain relief medication – for reasons that were never made clear beyond Latimer believed that drugs beyond Tylenol would interfere with her anti-seizure medications.

We will never know the person that Tracy was becoming, but we know what she was like from testimony at the trials. Tracy could think independently and had attended school since she was 4 years old. She smiled, laughed, cried "very seldom," responded to affection, recognized and communicated with people, enjoyed horses like every other 12 year old girl, loved music and campfires. Laura Latimer, Tracy’s mom, testified that she was a "very happy, very happy little girl" and wrote in her own diary that Tracy was often happy and smiling. Tracy's surgeon was impressed with the progress she was making and testified that her quality of life was improving with each procedure. Tracy's teacher testified she was a "happy, loving person who did not show signs of extreme pain," even though she had a dislocated hip.

Tracy had only just returned home two weeks before her death. She had been living in a group home for four months and came home to prepare for her hip surgery, an operation that would have alleviated her pain.

"Some people were willing to agree his daughter's life was not worth living - it's extremely dangerous to vulnerable people with disabilities" said Jim Derksen (Council of Canadians with Disabilities).

Before you grant Latimer any credibility at all consider what that means for the safety of other vulnerable Canadians, including your future self. Able-bodied people can not and should not judge the "quality of life" of a disabled person. It is too simple and misinformed to dismiss this as a mercy killing or "a father putting his child out of her misery."

Many people live with the medical problems that Tracey had, and many other kinds too. Thousands of Canadians in this same situation take care of their children every day. Parents do not determine if their child deserves to live or die. Children are not property and they have a right to be protected by their parents and the law.

It is disturbing to me how some "able-bodied" people can talk so poorly of disabilities, saying thoughtless things like "If I ever become disabled, kill me." What does that say of our society? And what is a disability? After my Dad's first stroke he had dementia - a disability to be sure, but he still managed to really enjoy the next 20 years of his life. My sister recently had a disk out of place in her back and is now learning to walk again - she's only 40. Is her life now not worth living?

Latimer is NOT some hero that through an act of love compassionatly ended his daughter’s suffering. He planned her murder (rather than provide her the help she needed), lied to cover it up in order to get away with it AND still shows no remorse. If Latimer believes what he did was right, he can believe that it is worth rotting in prison for. Let him serve his sentence for it's the least he (and Tracy) deserve. Robert Latimer is where he belongs.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's In The Mail!

Canada, USA, Iceland, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, Portugal and Spain... all places recieving "Holiday Greeting" cards from me this year.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cultural Anthropology in Real Time

I am moved by how much this message speaks to who I have become and my (obviously not so unique) worries about it - and the impact of this is greater even for my children. The world we are thinking in today - the world we are thinking up - is not the same as the world we thought we would be growing up in.

See more discussion here and here.

Goodbye Summer...

How beautiful the leaves grow old.
- John Burroughs