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2 January 2001

I sat pondering what to do in celebration of the New Year, or perhaps avoiding pondering by watching television, and I happened to see one of the network news’s year-in-review video montage.  It ended with a series of photographs of famous people who had died during the year – politicians, film and video stars, spouses of all of the above. 

I began to think about the people in my life who had died this year.  There was Hal, a gentle bear of a man who ran a motorcycle school and always greeted me with huge hugs when he saw me on the street.  Gary, who romanced a lover of mine while we were still together and then deserted his own lover of many years.  Sister Mae B. Hostel, who offered me pot on the way home from a fundraising event, while laughing about the looming closeness of her own death.  She died of a heart attack after performing backflips on a stage.  All three were suffering from HIV.  And there were others.

I have other friends who made it through this year, but their deterioration is visible and I find it likely that next year they will no longer be here.  Despite the drugs that have had such promise, they deteriorate, the drugs only serving to delay, but not avoid, the damage of the disease. 

Having been born to late to enjoy the first rush of gay liberation, but too early to avoid the aftermath of HIV, I sometimes I feel a little like the last person at a party.  Everyone else has left – going home to have sex or on to other celebrations, and I am standing in the middle of the room, only the paper streamers hanging limply and the plates of crumbs as evidence of the party that was here.  I arrived too late to really enjoy the party, but just in time to say goodbye to the guests as they go out the door.

And suddenly, having written this about my community, I realize I often feel the same way about my country and my planet. 

4 January 2001

While the stock market bounced around today, President Clinton was busy considering a treaty that would create a new international criminal court.  The court would have jurisdiction to prosecute criminals regardless of the country the country where their crimes were committed.  The idea, it was said, was so that humanitarian crimes would be easier to punish.  While Bill likes the treaty, he cautioned his successor, George, not to sign it until clauses effectively exempting the leadership of the United States were included.

Bill’s not stupid.  He doesn’t want to go to jail and he certainly doesn’t want to give an international body the power to put him there.

Under the treaty, leaders such as  Saddam, Fidel and the various Serbs accused of human rights violations would be tried by an international court and sentenced according to international law.  While in concept, the prosecution of human rights violations seems appealing, why is that Bill is so concerned about exempting the innocent United States?

While our news outlets shower the atrocities of the Middle East, the Baltics and other international hotspots with attention, they often neglect the human rights abuses of the nation watching. 

Our new President’s father was responsible for instituting sanctions against Iraq, which after over a decade have yet to visibly impact the government they were designed to topple, while every day human rights organizations report on thousands upon thousands of deaths caused by those various sanctions.  How would Americans feel if an international court found George Bush, Sr., and his successor, Bill Clinton guilty of human rights violations for the deaths directly related to the sanctions they enforce?

The United States has repeatedly used it’s military and economic power to undermine and topple foreign government and economies without regard as to the human toll or consequence.  Hardly a Presidential term passes without the invasion, attack or intervention of the US military in the affairs of other sovereign countries.

And Bill knows there are human rights violations here at home.  Video taped beatings, racial profiling, innocent people on death row all point to the reality of the situation. 

If government officials in the United States were held to the standard of conduct Bill Clinton proposes for foreign governments, we would have a different ruling class indeed.

14 January 2001

I used some of California's scarce power to finish the Reno by Rail travelogue. 

It's midnight on Saturday, and at least 25% of the lights in the federal building are on.  I find it difficult to believe federal employees are hard at work at this hour on a holiday weekend.  I guess they must be on a different power rate plan.

20 January 2001

I can't believe this clown is President.


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