Splitsville for White Stripes

White Stripes have officially called it quits today. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to fans since Icky Thump was their last release in 2007 and since then Jack White has created and played music with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. The band did not give specific reasons for the official split but that it was for “a myriad of reasons… mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.” Which makes me respect them as musicians more then I already did.

Numerous bands are making a come back this year after a long break from the music scene. The Strokes are set to release “Angles”  in March and Foo Fighters have confirmed that they will release their new album in April. Pete Doherty has even discussed the possibility of the Libertines reuniting and performing. (Whether Doherty was sober when he made this statement is still in question)

My 16-year-old self is very excited about these new albums (and concert dates!) These bands should leave no room for disappointment since fans have been waiting for some years now for new material.

Leaving you all with a little tribute to the Stripes.

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The Fall and Rise

The headlines read captured “like a rat” in a hole. American and British troops had finally succeeded in finding former President Saddam Hussein hiding at the bottom of a hole about ten miles south of his hometown Tikrit.

The steps taken afterwards were crucial to the stability of the nation and to gain the people’s trust. The opposition parties stepped in to take power and maintain power in the country with the help of the American administration. Soon after the switch over happened with the government of Iraq, problems started to arise.

One of the biggest mistakes made by the American administrator was that he decided to eliminate the Military of Iraq. All these men were left without jobs or a stable income but full of anger towards the new administration so they began to rebel and join up with those who still practiced Saddam’s harsh regime.

The second mistake was that the American troops could not maintain any control or stability over the capital of Iraq, Baghdad. Terrorist groups began to rebel against the American troops by stealing money from banks, looting and breaking into offices and ministries. From that moment when the Americans showed weakness by not being able to maintain any sort of control, people saw leeway in the situation. They did not think there were any rules to follow nor were they under any dictatorship or fear. With that attitude they threw away any chance of quickly restoring peace in the Middle East.

On the other hand those who did see a brighter future for Iraq started to form a government that included Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish people so the country could be run democratically. With this idea in hand, things started to improve in 2005. The first democratic election in Iraq happened that year, with men and women voting. They selected a President, Prime Minister and various other ministers to handle other jobs.

In 2007, terrorist groups started growing with more members joining from abroad from various neighboring countries. That created a lot of problems for the infrastructure of the country. They were being reckless and bombing hydro towers, water plants and important buildings for the Government, which created a dangerous atmosphere.

The new administration, with the help of American troops began to fight back to regain control of the country. In March 2010, Iraq had the second democratic election with 325 new parliament members.

In 2010, the future of Iraq looks promising, with the new government working to rebuild the infrastructure that is so badly damaged from Saddam’s regime.

(From my previous blog, just tweaked some articles & wanted to share them here)

21st century: Iraq still struggling to deliver constant electricity to residents

Since the invasion of Kuwait by former dictator and President Saddam Hussein, Iraq could not import or export any goods to other countries. April 2003 marked one of the most important dates in the history of the Middle East; Hussein was removed from power by American and British troops.

During that time all existing electricity projects become very old. Companies were also very limited because they couldn’t import spare parts and new machines to get electricity to work properly.

In the years that passed after 2003, Northern Iraq became a stable community with hopes of a new government to run things properly. The government in the area began to build and develop new projects and had the opportunity to finally start importing new technology to improve electrical power. The government is now controlling and managing all the electricity projects plus there are some private companies that have started to operate small generators to distribute extra power to locals.

Each community has its own generator, when the government cuts power or when they have problems, the private company start supplying extra electricity to residents. The government supplies electricity starting in the evening until 7 a.m., then for about six hours the small companies jump in to supply power in the afternoon for residents, which they pay for. Most residents had a small generator to supply electricity for their household if the government was not generous with distributing power.

The root of the situation is that there is not enough power for every resident in Iraq so the government cannot keep the electricity going for 24 hours. They do not have enough power stations to supply the whole nation. This all relates back to the Gulf war and the embargo that was put on Iraq in 1991.

The government also has a lot to deal with, regarding the stability of the country and the safety of the people. The daily bombs set off by terrorists does not encourage foreign companies to come help and invest in re building the infrastructure of Iraq. That is why to this year the nation is still struggling to maintain constant power.

Last week I was reading through the National Post in class when I came across a little section about Justin Bieber’s new hair cut. Being a reader of the Post I decided to tweet about how insignificant this piece of news was to me, “There’s a section in the National post about justin bieber’s new hair cut I didn’t realize this was hard hitting news.” Skip to hours later when I checked Twitter that night, I notice that they had replied so I managed to have a mini-conversation with a staff member. Upon noticing the graphic of Jbieb’s new hair cut online I discovered that the Post has a Tumblr. With an online version of your paper, a Twitter with active staff members and a Tumblr to post your graphics on (which resulted in National Post getting mentioned by Anderson Cooper) You are one of the few newspapers that is up to speed with social media and how to use it to enhance the quality of your paper and expand your readership.

I understand the nostalgia the older generation (and some of mine) has towards print Journalism. I still enjoy picking up the paper everyday and seeing the headlines and stories because there is a difference when it comes to putting content online versus printing it on paper. I find that we tend to focus much on holding on to the way things are done in the past rather then focusing where the future of print, broadcast or radio Journalism is heading and embracing it with open arms.

The future of all those things do include Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogspot and whatever social media tool that has yet to be created. So why waste your time “jumping on the bandwagon”? It’s better to become an expert then get left behind completely unaware of what can’t be argued as a trend anymore, it is here to stay.

Holiday re-cap

The dreaded end of Christmas holidays is coming to an end and classes are starting back up on Monday. When I say the dreaded end it’s because Christmas is the one time of the year where you are allowed to eat, be lazy, go out, spend as much time (or little) with family and friends without feeling guilty. This year my family booked a last minute vacation to Punta Cana. It was a lovely time filled with eating and drinking too much and laying around in the sun (Don’t judge, I finished one book and halfway through another one, if that’s not productive then I don’t know what is). The beach was beautiful and came equipped with a bar, the pool had a swim up bar and a mini-snack buffet while the rest of the resort was filled with your typical palm trees scenery.Every night the bar staff had a creative drink on hand to keep us satisfied not to mention the endless drink menu that was available (personal favourite: Banana Mama and Coco Loco). My favourite thing about the trip? How relaxed and friendly the staff and locals were.

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Merry holidays?

The same question comes up year after year, what is the appropriate phrase to use to wish people a “happy holiday”? It is an ongoing debate between those who feel strongly about saying Merry Christmas and those who’d rather be addressed by the holiday they celebrate. But does uttering the words Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays really make a difference?

Canada more so Toronto seems to be the mecca of cultural differences with numerous ethnicities in the City it is always hard deciding which to say and with the desire of always being politically correct Canadians are always on their tip toes about which phrase to use.

For the sake of being courteous I usually just wish strangers that I interact with throughout my day Happy Holidays just to be on the safe side. Although if I didn’t celebrate Christmas I would not be the least bit offended if someone said Merry Christmas to me. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Eid, Kwanza or Christmas wishing someone Happy Holidays is wishing them wealth, happiness and prosperity so don’t take too much offence to it people, it’s the holidays after all so everyone… Happy December!

Book Review

Chain Of Command is Seymour M. Hersh’s eighth book. Hersh is well known for his ground breaking articles in The New Yorker that outraged the Bush Administration. In this book he expands on his findings and reveals information about the 9/11 attacks, the war on terror and the conditions in Abu Ghraib.

Hersh identifies the underlining struggle for power between the United States of American and the Middle East. He examines the reasons behind George W. Bush declaring war on Iraq and where the responsibility lies with what happened at Abu Ghraib.

Hersh started off his career working for the New Yorker. He was one of the first that broke the news of the My Lai massacre at Vietnam which he went on to win a Pulitzer Price for. His article gained so much attention and reduced public support for the war in Vietnam. He is recognized as one of the top investigative journalists in the business. His career has been nothing short of remarkable and successful while still maintaining the respect of his colleagues and readers. I had read his articles that he wrote for the New Yorker about Abu Ghriab way back in 2004 but other then that I was not aware of the amount of success he had reached in his career. Hersh has done countless other work on military and government scandals. He has questioned the administration and exploited many conservative topics.

Back in 2003 when former President George W. Bush announced that the war against Iraq had begun Americans seemed to have followed blindly into the administration’s biddings at the time. Hersh examines closely the war on terror starting from the Abu Ghraib prisoners that suffered under the hands of U.S intelligence. What I found interesting was some of the stories he had from different Army officers that knew about the abuses at the prison and the fact that those reports were ignored by the people that could make a difference. Hersh really emphasize the importance of the chain of command in this book. He demonstrates his understanding of the inner workings of the military and the government. Working in the chain of command means that you are assuming responsibility for your actions that you are expecting your superior to do the same. All the issues seem to have developed when that chain is broken. When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke no one was there to take responsibility for the military’s wrong doings. The commander knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. It is almost like what happened at Abu Ghraib was condoned. Hersh really points the finger as to who he thinks the responsibility lied with and how they failed to take action to fix this major problem that sparked the never ending feud.

Hersh then describes how the Bush administration manipulated intelligence and made the public think that there was a legitimate excuse to go to war. He exposes so many lies used by the administration. Bush also failed to address any of the problems including the lack of weapons of mass destruction, the causalities of Iraqis, Afghans and Americans. Not to mention the millions if not billions of dollars put in the war and the overall devastation of the state of the Middle East.

Your ultimate mix tape?

I was skimming through NME articles this morning and came across this video of The Strokes talking about their ultimate mix tape. I’m a 90s baby so I did grow up with cassette tapes and CDs more so CDs, I always remember my parents using cassette tapes in the car when I was younger. The Strokes reminisce over the years of when they made mix tapes and what songs were on them. I can only imagine the feeling of how authentic and how true one’s love for music feels now as opposed to ten years ago. They joke and describe what their walkmens looked like as well.

New technology and programs have allowed us to download music and make instant playlists. The thought of someone having a walkmen nowadays is as if you were living in the stone age. Purchasing CDs seems to be a thing of a past, why go out and buy something when you can download the whole album and then some free of charge? The mentality of many is that “if it’s an artist I actually like I’ll go out and buy their album.” I do have a large CD collection but I collected those in my teenage years. Now in my twenties, I haven’t bought a CD in about three or four years. I collect music from friends and stream them off websites like 8tracks and Stereo Mood.

I miss the feeling of anticipating the band’s album release now every album is usually leaked onto the internet for millions to download. The chances of us sitting by the radio waiting for them to play the song we want to put on our mix tape is not likely, there are so many outlets for the younger generation to get music from that mix tapes are a thing of a past. It will just be another story told to the younger generation who will never know the feeling of being passionate about a band or an artist enough to go out and purchase their CD.