Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Bang

"This is the way the world ends..."

While a thousand people are ringing in the new year in a high-class nightclub in Bangkok, a fire breaks out. Fifty-nine people die and about two hundred others get injured. "Most of the victims died from smoke inhalation or were trampled in a rush to get out of the club," according to CNN. "Thirty bodies have been identified: 29 Thai nationals and one Singaporean..."

In Colombia, five people die at a New Year's Party from a suspicious accidental grenade explosion.

Eighty African migrants attempt to escape into Spain's North African enclave of Melilla. Moroccan police fire warning shots, then kill one man.

Athens continues to reel from aftermath of the chaotic and violent December riots that lit the entire city on fire for two and a half weeks, and the rest of the Western world deals with a so-called fresh wave of anarchism and a new advent of networked protesting.

In the San Francisco Bay area, a lesbian is getting out of her car when she is struck on the head, then taunted by four men (only one of them is older than twenty-one). She is raped as she is verbally abused about her sexual orientation, say detectives, until one hears someone approaching. Then, according to the AP, "They forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building. She was raped again inside and outside the vehicle and left naked outside the building while the alleged assailants took her wallet and drove off in her car, police said." This afternoon, the men are arrested and authorities classify the case as a hate crime.

A 72-year-old man in Aspen, Colorado named James Chester Blanning uses cell phone parts and gasoline to make four bombs, two of which he sends to banks along with notes warnings of mass murder and blood, demands for $60,000, and criticisms about President Bush. Police believe that he then abandons his plan halfway through and leaves the other two bombs on a sled in an alleyway. New Years celebrations in downtown Aspen are halted as mass evacuations of sixteen blocks ensue. Later this afternoon, Blanning's body was found in his Jeep, along with a rifle and a will entitling the police to three of his properties.

Meanwhile, in the latest update on the Christmas weekend Gaza attacks, a Hamas leader is killed along with his family when his house is bombed by an Israeli airstrike. Recap: Hamas is the biggest Palestineine militant organization that operates in Gaza, on the West Bank, and within Israel. Mixing Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism, the group was elected in 2006, and their goals include the extermination of Israel because they don't believe that the two nations can peacefully co-exist. The also spend an estimated $70 million to fund schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues, none of which are services the Palestinian Authority provides to the people.

On December 27, the terrorist opposition group of Hamas fired rockets into Israel, resulting in an Israeli airstrike that some say violate Geneva Conventions by way of collective punishment; the airstrikes have been aimed at civilian-heavy areas, they have destroyed Gaza police and security offices as wells as killing and injuring civilians (one strike hit students going home from university), and humanitarian aid has been cut off by Israeli blockades, sealing off crucial food, fuel and medicine supplies.

Israel has violently and grotestquely overstepped its bounds by attacking millions of people to punish a smaller group. Some Israeli groups protest the strikes against Gaza while Bush and Obama remain nearly completely silent (Obama stating, according to a spokesperson, that there is only one president at a time).

Back in the States, U of U scientists continue to study something else that happened on the 27th: a swarm of the most intense earthquakes in many years hit Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. While scientists aren't issuing a volcano advisory any time soon, the swarms either indicate a short-lived phase of seismic activity that might continue for a few weeks, or a larger earthquake may be on its way.

"...This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."
-- T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

"And everything can change on a New Year's day..."
--Rage Against the Machine, "War Within A Breath"

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