Monthly Archives: February 2009

Suspects in Human Rights Activist Murder Freed

A jury acquitted three men who were charged with the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya which is not surprising given the manner in which justice is dispensed in Putin Russia. The 12 member jury’s decision was unanimous and it was greeted by cheers in the court room. It took the jury all of two hours to find the defendants really didn’t kill anyone and as they left the men shook the hand of the slain journalist’s son who was critical of the entire investigation of the murder. After the men left the courtroom, Ilya told reporters: “I believe these men are involved in the murder of my mother.”

A lawyer for the Politkovskaya family expressed concern that authorities had done a poor investigation and they were not interested in securing a conviction. This is Putin Russia and the quest for justice is never the highest priority of those in power. Several fighters for human rights have been murdered in recent years and it is rare for any of their killer to be convicted of anything.

Riots In The Streets?

A surprising poll taken in Great Britain reveals almost a third of respondents believe the British army within the coming years will be forced to deal with urban riots as the economic decline continues. Superintendent David Hartshorn of the London Metropolitan police believes radicals are planning a ‘summer of rage” to take advantage of social people angry at loss of jobs or loss of money caused by the growing recession. According to the poll, many believe there will be “serious social unrest in several British cities” in the coming months. A rather large majority believe young people who are without work should a year of national service working with the elderly or sick.

If the Depression is a model then government sponsored work programs for young people will be necessary if unemployment continues to increase. Unfortunately, the Gordon Brown government spouts cliches instead of coming up with interesting work programs for those who are without hope in the current work environment.

Will Any Aid Aid Zimbabwe?

The crisis in Zimbabwe which was caused by the inept policies of President Robert Mugabe now confronts a new crisis. Many donor nations are hesitating at giving economic assistance to the devastated country since there is scant confidence any government would be able to administer the money in an honest manner given the corrupt behavior of Mugabe when previously he received aid. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is pleading with donor nations to ignore the prior incompetence and give his government a chance to address economic issues. Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) argues, “this is a new administration. It’s a clean pair of hands.”

Unfortunately, it remains unclear as the role that will be played by Mugabe if economic assistance enters the nation. Will he repeat is previous corrupt behavior when his government was previously supplied aid by South Africa? Does one accept the reality of corruption on the part of the Mugabe government in order to get some aid to those who need it right now?

Will US Pressure Israel Over Peace?

There is growing concern in the Israel Defense Ministry that Barack Obama might threaten to reduce aid for military concerns in Israel unless its government was prepared to be serious about working for peace in the Middle East. A senior official in that ministry told the Jerusalem Post, “(George) Mitchell is a known opponent of teh outposts and the settlements. The Americans might try to use the military aid as a way of pressuring the new (Israel) government into dismantling and freezing construction in settlements.” Some members of the Israel government do not believe Obama would ever say there was a reduction caused by the West Bank settlements but he might cite America’s economic situation.

The tragedy of modern Israel is a failure in leadership. The electorate splitting into small parties has made it virtually impossible for those in the middle to govern with any degree of authority. Israel’s current problems stem from relying on the “wisdom” of George Bush rather than working with moderate Palestinians.

Th End Of Newspapers?

For at least two hundred years, newspapers have been an important factor in the rise of democratic societies and the creation of societies in which people could readily communicate information. The Philadelphia Inquirer, among America’s oldest newspapers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as advertising revenue declines, particularly from the impact of the current recession. The value of a share in The New York Times has declined to a few cents and newspaper after newspaper is moving toward bankruptcy and the end of their presence in American communities.

The Internet serves a purpose, but it will not readily replace a good newspaper which can offer columns and in depth information that is sadly lacking on most Internet websites. The end of newspapers will also be the end of the most significant factor in communication within societies. Will we be better or worse for their decline?

US Soldier– Hell No, I Won’t Go!

An American soldier who has served in Iraq, refused to leave the United States on Friday because he has come to believe the war in which he has fought is “an illegitimate, unnecessary campaign” and his country has broken the contract he signed. Spc. Kristoffer Walker of Green Bay, Wisconsin says he originally entered the service out of patriotism due to the 9/11 attack, but his tour of duty in Iraq has made him aware that his nation has been doing things which violate his conscience. “I feel absolutely justified in doing what I’m doing based on their breach of the initial contract” I signed when enlisting.

The ironic aspect of this case is that Walker did see a legitimate reason for fighting a war so he could not be classified as a conscientious objector. He is willing to be part of the military but he simply does not wish to be part of the Iraq operation which he has grown to intensely dislike.

This is a case in which a patriotic individual has come to believe that the disastrous campaign which George Bush has conducted in Iraq is morally wrong. An individual with such a strong moral belief should be allowed to serve in a non-combat role and once his enlistment ends, sent home. Any society needs people with such strong beliefs.

Cambodian Torturers Finally Brought To Justice

Most of those reading these words had yet to be born when the horror engulfed the people of Cambodia in a place far away at another time in history. ironically, the regime of the murderers and torturers came to power due to American interference in the affairs of a tiny nation by the 1970s equivalent of George Bush, the infamous Richard Nixon. Cambodia was neutral as war raged in Vietnam, but Nixon and his Secretary of State were obsessed by communists just as Bush could only think about terrorists. America launched an overthrow of the government of Cambodia that drove King Sihanouk from power. In the resulting civil war, a group that has come to be known as the Khmer Rouge gained power in 1975 and unleashed a reign of terror that eventually led to the death of 1.7 million Cambodians. The few remaining members of that murderous group are now standing trial in Cambodia.

The death of 1.7 million people did not register on Americans anymore than the death of thousands of innocent Iraqis has entered their consciousness. We listened to George Bush and never heard the anguished cries of those who died because his drive to kill “terrorists” and install “democracy” was supported by right wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh.

Will those who led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis ever be brought to justice? Will it take thirty years to finally get at the monstrosity that Bush created in Iraq?

France Accepts Holocaust Resposibility

Many nations in Europe continue to twist and dodge concerning their behavior during World War Ii when six million Jews were sent to their deaths by the Germans. It is often ignored that Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria were allies of Nazi Germany and participated in the war as active participants. The French people have always found themselves divided since it was clear there were many collaborators with the Nazis and the Vichy regime worked closely with Germans in rounding up and deporting Jews to death camps. France’s highest judicial body finally recognized the French government’s responsibility for the deportation of Jews and made clear the Vichy government was fully “responsible” for these actions. The decision also stated that those who were deported had been compensated and therefore the claimants request for compensation was denied.

The judicial council called for a “solemn recognition of the state’s responsibility and of collective prejudice suffered” by those who were deported.

Immigrant Children In Greece Left Behind

The European Union may take action against Greece unless it scraps a new law which forbids children of undocumented immigrants from applying for the coveted EU-wide longterm residence status– a permanent form of residence. Under a new Greek law, only the Greece-born children of immigrants may apply for this residence permit, provided they are 18 and their parents reside legally in the country. The European Union does permit children under the age of 18 to apply for permanent residency and there is concern the Greek law may be in violation of EU laws. Greek officials insist that if an immigrant came illegally and has not been able to legalize their position in Greece they will be deported and any children under 18 must accompany them.

Historically, the United States of America was among the few nations which grant citizenship automatically to anyone born in the country regardless of the status of their parents. Greece apparently claims a child’s citizenship follows the status of their parents. The American model is an inclusive one which recognizes that once born in the country, one will be regarded as a citizen.

Dutch Parliament Furious At UK Ban On Wilders

The vast majority of members of parliament in the Netherlands completely disagree with the anti-Muslim views of one of its members, Geert Wilders, but believe since he is a member of the legislature it was wrong for the United Kingdom to refuse him entry to their country. Wilders deliberately attempts to provoke conflict and hatred toward those of the Muslim faith, but he was invited to speak in Great Britain and is a duly elected government official. Gerdi Veebeet, chair of parliament expressed her dismay that Wilders was denied entry and the Dutch foreign ministry, told the British, “The Netherlands deeply regrets the fact that the United Kingdom did not revoke its decision to refuse Mr. Wilders entry into the country.

Wilders seeks to deny rights to people of the Muslim faith in the Netherlands so it is rather ironic that the United Kingdom is denying him the right to speak. If some people get upset at his words they can ignore him or they can publicly refute his nonsense, but to deny his right to speak plays into his crazy ideas that Muslims are being pampered.