Monthly Archives: January 2009

Egypt Claims Arms Smuggled Into Gaza From Israel!

In a surprising claim from Egyptian sources, its government charges that the majority of weapons being smuggled into Gaza comes from Israeli sources. Mukhis Qutb, of the Egyptian Council for Human Rights, told a newspaper that he has proof many of the weapons being smuggled into Gaza came from individuals who had Israel citizenship. He also alleged some members of the Israel Defense Force were involved in smuggling operations. However, he failed to provide any such evidence to support the claims. These charges undoubtedly are an attempt to prove that Israel actions in Gaza lacked any basis of validity. The overwhelming evidence is that rockets came from Arab sources and were part of the Iranian effort to supply Hamas.

After weeks of pounding Hamas tunnels, there is evidence many are back in operation. One wonders if Israel government officials have ever reconsidered their decision to impose an economic blockade on Gaza. What if no such blockade had ever been put into operation? Would Hamas have place such energy into constructing tunnels?

Once again, Prime Minister Olmert insists there may be more bombing of tunnels. Is his expectation that bombing of tunnels will go on and on forever? How about refocusing on peace and compromise?

Ongoing Idiocy of PM Silvio Berlusconi

The one certain prediction that can be made about the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is he will make another of his stupid and insensitive remarks before the week is over. After a recent series of rape attacks on women in Rome, Berlusconi came up with the solution– place “as many soldiers on the streets as there are pretty girls.” In defense, he argued the comment was simply made to praise the number of pretty girls in Italy. Of course, the idiot prime minister doesn’t know much about the crime of rape. It has nothing to do with the attractiveness of women, and every thing to do with the mental state of the rapist. There is no evidence rapists only single out attractive women.

Berlusconi is now talking about sending up to 30,000 troops onto the streets of Rome to prevent rape. Is it his assumption, the police of Rome for the indefinite future will be supported by thousands of troops? Rape is an act of violence, not an act deriving from seeking sex with an attractive woman. Perhaps, it is time to send Mr. Berlusconi to a psychiatrist and have him obtain information concerning rapists.

Sri Lanka-End Of War Or New Beginning?

Sri Lankan troops pushed into the center of the last stronghold held by the Tamil separatists in an effort to put a conclusion to twenty five years of fighting. If this proves to be a successful operation it would leave the Tamil insurgents with control of some villages and rural areas scattered across the island. Sri Lankan military believe the long civil war will be over by sometime this spring. Some analysts insist the insurgents can regroup in the forests and once again pose a threat to the security of the nation. Civilians continue being caught in the middle of this war and at least 100 were killed by artillery fire the past week.

We have not heard of any demonstrations in Europe or in Muslim nations about the death of civilians in Sri Lanka. Nor have we heard of any discussion about the need to respect the rights of Tamil separatists. In the modern world, there are “insurgents” who definitely are in the wrong, and there are insurgents who are definitely on the side of good. I guess it depends on which insurgent arouses sympathy in the world.

The Unheard Voice Of Paul Robeson

Amidst the celebration of Barack Obama’s inauguration as president numerous names of past heroes in the fight for African American rights have been cited, but, for some reason, the name of Paul Robeson has been ignored. Robeson towers over so many of those who fought for human rights because of the tremendous diversity of his career and his refusal to knuckle under to the forces of hate and discrimination. He was the first Negro All-American football player, a lawyer, a Shakespearian actor, a singer whose voice still remains among the greatest of the 20th century, an actor, and a nonstop fighter for human rights. He sang in over a dozen languages and was probably the first who sang the songs of the Chinese Communist soldiers. His voice can be heard singing in Yiddish the songs of concentration camp inmates, the songs of American freedom, and the songs of the fight for African American rights.

Robeson refused to sing before segregated audiences, and he would not take a hotel room in a segregated hotel. When he visited St. Louis he frequently stayed in the home of a friend of mine because Robeson preferred the company of social activists to the high and mighty of our land. He stood tall against the anti-Communist hysteria spawned by the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, and refused to name those who were in the Communist movement. Robeson for years was banned by the United States government from traveling around the world in an effort to stifle his songs of freedom.

This proud and brilliant man’s name was never mentioned on January 20, but his spirit was present and his struggles played a part in the ability of Barack Obama to become president of the United States.

German Wins Rendition Case Against CIA

The long nightmare for Americans will not be over for many years since it will require time to digest the Bush violation of Constitutional and international human rights. Khaled el-Masri, a Lebanese-born German national, was abducted by the CIA in Macedonia in 2004 and flown to Afghanistan to be interrogated on terrorism charges. The court awarded Masri nearly a million dollars in compensation for the abuse he endured. He was a victim of the CIA rendition program which resulted in him being beaten and bullied for nearly five months while being held in Afghanistan. CIA agents could not terrorize individuals in America so they were sent to foreign locales where people were not protected by constitutional procedures.

Mr. el-Masri also filed a lawsuit against the United States but the Supreme Court upheld the decision to reject the case on national security grounds. It is important for the soul of America to bring to justice all officials in the Bush government who created the rendition program and subject them to legal procedures as a warning to others that justice will triumph over those who violate the Constitution.

Jimmy Carter– Mbeki A Disaster On Zimbabwe

Former President Jimmy Carter blasted Thabo Mbeki, the ousted president of South Africa, for his failure to do anything other than spout nonsense concerning the tragedy in Zimbabwe. In theory, Mbeki was supposed to be a go between for the Southern African Development Community in the effort to resolve the conflict in Zimbabwe. Carter pulled no punches by saying, “I think he’s (Mbeki) always been in bed with Mugabe pretty much, and pretty timid about contradicting his old friend, who was one of the first revolutionary fighters who was successful in southern Africa.” But, today, the old revolutionary has become a new kleptomaniac who steals from his own people and rewards cronies and those in his government. What can one say about a man who claims to love his country, and has created a cholera epidemic which has taken 2,800 lives and left 50,000 infected?

Carter believes the only solution is for the Southern African Development Community to use its political and economic power to force Mugabe from office. Unfortunately, leaders of that group are a bunch of cowards who avoid hurting the feelings of the old revolutionary even if it means the current Zimbabwean population has to suffer.

Israel Goal–Destroy Hamas Or Destroy Gaza?

The Israel government is convinced its actions in Gaza were purely defensive and had no other goal than the destruction of Hamas military capability to send rockets from Gaza. However, latest reports indicate during the 22 days of assault and bombing, about 219 factories were destroyed or heavily damaged, 4,000 homes blown up, and more than 50,000 people left homeless. Gaza businessmen say much of the 3% of industry still functioning after the Israel economic blockade of Gaza has not been wiped out. Chris Gunness, of the UN Relief and Works Agency, said the IDF invasion was a strike at the heart of the peace process.

Gazans described examples of Israel soldiers destroying facilities that had not been hit by air strikes. According to Prime Ministe Ehud Olmert, “the state of Israel did everything in order to avoid hitting civilians.” Perhaps, it is time for an impartial Israel examination of the behavior of its troops in Gaza. There simply are too many sources reporting widespread destruction to palm it off as simply Muslim propaganda.

Indonesia Muslim Council Against Smoking And Yoga

I often wonder how religious groups decide what to support and what to oppose. One assumes their decisions to ban something is connected to a religious principle or to something a religious authority years ago declared to be part of the religion. Indonesia’s Ulema Council (MUI) has issued an edict which bans the use of yoga on the part of Muslims and also bans smoking on the part of pregnant women and children. An additional declaration by the group imposes a demand on the part of Muslims to vote in elections, of course, as long as they vote for someone who meets the criteria of “being Muslim, honest, brilliant and ready to fight for the people.” For some reason, the exact meaning of being “for the people” is not spelled out other than making certain no good Muslim is caught engaging in yoga.

Another edict imposed a ban on abortion unless the mother was a rape victim. Isn’t in human nature to resist edicts imposed by government institutions? How about an education campaign to convince people to vote, not to smoke, and to avoid yoga at any cost since it might be damaging to their religious principles. How about an edict against poverty or one in which any form of physical violence is deemed to be against the Muslim religion?

Death Of Russian Rights Activists

Hundreds of people in St. Petersburg protested the killing last week of Russian activists who were fighting for human rights and the establishment in Russia of a legal system predicated on law and due process. Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer who had taken on human rights cases and fought against neo-Nazi groups. Protestors held flowers, candles, and carried pictures not only of Markelov, but of the slain journalist Anastasia Baburova. Naturally, the police claimed those expressing support for human rights in Russia were interfering with the movement of pedestrians.

The tragedy of modern Putin Russia is the absence of a strong government commitment to civil rights and due process. Those who stand up against neo-Nazis groups in the country are harassed and denied basic rights of protest. In Putin Russia, silence is the official manner in which one can express protest about violations of human rights. Hopefully, one day, the Russian people will enjoy a democratic society in which the forces of civil rights dominate society.

Afghans Furious At US Air Strikes

There is little question the increasing confusion in Afghanistan concerning the correct military strategy to pursue has resulted in growing anger among the average people of that unfortunate land. President Hamid Karzai lashed out at the United States for the latest example of planes bombing suspected militant targets only to wind up killing innocent civilians. He charged at least 15 Afghan civilians died in an air strike, and emphasized such operations resulted in “strengthening the terrorists.” The Sunday attack came after a Saturday air strike the US claims killed 15 militants while the Afghans insist many civilians died. American military sources insist they have pictures which depict militants fighting, but refuse to release the photos for security reasons.

The basic problem with the Obama decision to dispatch 30,000 more troops and to continue the current bombing approach is the reality neither of these actions will result in ending the conflict. There is need to win the hearts of Afghan civilians and bombing from above is hardly the way to gain such results. Karzai is a corrupt leader, but air bombing is an unsuccessful approach to fighting a guerrilla war.