Phil Burpee, Columnist, Pincher Creek Voice
On September 9, 2001, a film crew posing as Egyptian journalists sat down with Ahmad Shah Massoud at his stronghold in northern Afghanistan, ostensibly to do a documentary. Massoud, also known as the Lion of Panjshir, was a warlord of the Northern Alliance (United Islamic Front) and was, at the time, the man poised to defeat the reactionary forces of the Taliban who were attempting to consolidate total control of the country following the collapse of the PDPA (People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan) government in Kabul, a Soviet-era puppet regime. For those who saw the idiotic fun-time romp called 'Charlie Wilson's War', it will be remembered that this situation had been brought about in large part by the earlier supplying of Stinger shoulder-launched missiles to the Mujahideen by the Americans during the Soviet occupation (the same weapons that were later deployed to bring down US Marine Chinooks), which knocked hell out of the Russian helicopter gunship fleet. Moments later, however, Massoud was dead of a suicide bomb blast. This has been interpreted as the triggering event for what followed two days later.
On September 11, 2001, at 8:46:30AM, American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, entered the north face of the North Tower (1WTC) of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, penetrating virtually intact to the core of the building, severing all stair wells, and instantly igniting all its fuel and masses of combustibles dragged in with it. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03:02AM, United Airlines Flight 175, also a Boeing 767, with its Pratt and Whitney engines whining at full throttle, entered the south face of the South Tower (2WTC), again igniting into a fireball, and sending parts of the plane spewing up to six blocks away out the other side of the building. We wondered if it was World War 3. Within an hour and three quarters both buildings were collapsed into rubble, and 2,752 people were dead or dying. The stink of kerosene was everywhere.
On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein, with a strangely dignified composure, went to his Maker reciting his prayers.
On January 20, 2009, George W. Bush left the White House for the last time with a wise-crack and a jaunty wave.
On November 27, 2009, Mariano Abarca, leader of the 'Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining' (Spanish acronym REMA) was assassinated in front of his home. Calgary-based mining firm Blackfire Exploration had been operating a barite mine near the town of Chicomuselo Chiapas and locals were accusing the mine of squandering limited water resources and contaminating farms around the area. Following the temporary closure of the mine by authorities on December 7th in the wake of the killing of Mr. Abarca, Blackfire threatened Mexican officials with NAFTA Chapter 11 arbitration seeking close to US$800 million as compensation for what they considered to be the illegal closure of the mine. According to accounts, three men had been arrested in connection with the death of Mr. Abarca - one a current Blackfire employee and two former employees. Blackfire denied any connection to the killing.
In Canada, Bill C-300, 'An Act Respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil, or Gas Corporations in the Developing World', was introduced in the House of Commons by MP John McKay. It was designed to make Canadian companies working abroad in the extractive industries more accountable to both Parliament and to accepted international norms of ethical practice and jurisprudence. It was defeated under the government of Stephen Harper, citing its potential impact on the competitiveness of Canadian business. Mr. Harper was later to be heard lecturing the Chileans in the presence of President Michele Bachelet, a woman who had suffered detention and abuse under the junta of General Pinochet, on the merits of accountability, human rights and the rule of law.
On September 11, 2011, a young teen on a Reserve somewhere in Alberta, high on gas-sniffing and emptied of hope, contemplates suicide. Crocodile tears are shed on the 6:00 o'clock news. Flowers are laid at Ground Zero. Oh dear, oh dear.................
In whose name are acts of depravity, violence, avarice and hopelessness undertaken? In whose name is hatred made manifest in fireballs and sudden horror? In whose name are profits extracted in blood? In whose name is fear spread over a people like a sullen flood, silencing voices and crippling spirits? In whose name is loneliness and despair allowed to flourish in the hearts of the young? And in whose name is the monstrous made mundane?
September 11, 2011. Just another day on the planet.