Monthly Archives: March 2009

Should Bush Officials Be Tried?

A Spanish court has agreed to review requests that a criminal case be instituted against several Bush officials including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. They are being charged with encouraging torture of prisoners at places like Guanatanamo. Human rights lawyers have brought the case to the attention of anti-terror judge, Baltasar Gonzalo Boye. Spanish law allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes. There were requests for a similar indictment against Israel officials, but the Spanish government made clear it would halt such proceedings.

Judge Boye is arguing that some of the prisoners who were tortured were Spanish citizens which thus allows his nation to intervene in such cases. The focus of the proposed indictment is not against those who actually conducted torture interrogators but against higher level officials who gave sanction to such behavior.

Most probably, the best manner of dealing with this issue is for creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States to get at the root of these charges.

Omar al-Bashir And Muslim Hypocrisy

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir who has been accused of war crimes against the people of Darfur was warmly greeted in Qatar where he arrived for a meeting of the Arab League. The 22 member Arab League said it would not enforce a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court since it does not believe the Sudan leader is guilty of any crimes. The Arab League issued a statement: “the leaders reject attempt to politicize the principles of international justice and using them to undermine the sovereignty and unity and stability of Sudan.” Of course, Muslim nations never hesitate to condemn the state of Israel for its actions, but apparently the murder of 300,000 people in Darfur by Omar al-Bashir is of no importance to these supposed fighters for human rights.

Those who fight for the rights of Palestinians and refuse to condemn the slaughter of 300,000 and rape of thousands of women only reveal themselves to be hypocrites. Apparently, for defenders of the rights of Palestinians there are two standards — one for Israel and none for Muslim societies which kill.

Trials And Tribulations Of Being British MP

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is engaged in a new conflict over expense reports she submitted which included films ordered by her husband. The interesting question is under which category of an expense report does a film fall? I assume it is entertainment which certainly is an important need for those who serve in the government. Of course, they could also secure access to entertainment if they spent a few more days in the halls of Parliament and listened to MPs discuss what exactly is the need for its members to include films they watch as part of their government expenses. Left wing MP, Harry Cohen, is under fire for having charged his “second home” to the tune of $550,000 over the past few decades. He insists that back in 1980, then Conservative Prime Minister John Moore told MP “go out boys and spend it” in reference to a new bill which authorized paying for expenses.

How about a really radical left wing suggestion– pay MPs and members of the US Congress a salary and that’s it! If you want to watch adult films or go to strip joints, you are on your own. If you want to spend time with your sister, as did Jacqui Smith, call it a visit, but don’t claim it is your second home. Pay them and then they are on their own! Now, Mr. Left Wing, Harry Cohen, that is what left wingers not only believe but live out in their lives. I hate to tell you this, Mr. Cohen, but when you go out and “spend it” the “it” is the money of working people.

South Africa Still Dealing With Dalai Lama Incident

Nearly a half century has passed since the Dalai Lama established a Tibetan government in exile, but the issue of where does Tibet stand in the eyes of China and the world continue to be an important issue. The Chinese government, despite its efforts to portray the Dalai Lama as a feudal lord continue to confront anger and violence from Tibetans. It announced a new holiday, “Serf Liberation Day” to signify the end of monk rule in Tibet. Yesterday, there were reports of violence in northwestern China and police arrested 93 monks from the monastery at Rabgya. In South Africa there is still anger among many human rights activists over denial of a visa to the Dalai Lama who was attempting to attend a peace conference.

The Chinese government insists there is no room for compromise with the Dalai Lama. Only one who lives in fantasy believes Tibetans can drive out the Chinese. It is time for a sensible compromise which allows return of the Dalai Lama, restrictions on the power of monks to revert back to their former control of society, and creation of freedom of religion. Time will tell if Tibetans seek to retain their belief in the rule of monks.

Spirit Of National Service Emerging In America?

During the past thirty years, Republicans have adhered to the ideas of their favorite president, Ronald Reagan, who embraced the concept that selfishness was the prime human directive. The Obama administration is attempting to rekindle a spirit of national service which is essential in order to restore a sense of community to the nation. The Senate approved a new Veterans Corps which would allow individuals to volunteer in order to assist the transition from military to civilian life of those who have served the nation in our armed forces. The success of HR 1388 will be measured by the number of veterans who are encouraged to attend college or helped in getting jobs or assisted to escape the ravages of homelessness.

The bill is simply one small measure of a broader need in America to end decades of encouraging narcissistic behavior in which the individual saw him or herself as the center of the universe with no thought of others. The Senate bill is one of several that enables people to volunteer in areas such as education and health.

South Africa Still Dealing With Dalai Lama Incident

Nearly a half century has passed since the Dalai Lama established a Tibetan government in exile, but the issue of where does Tibet stand in the eyes of China and the world continue to be an important issue. The Chinese government, despite its efforts to portray the Dalai Lama as a feudal lord continue to confront anger and violence from Tibetans. It announced a new holiday, “Serf Liberation Day” to signify the end of monk rule in Tibet. Yesterday, there were reports of violence in northwestern China and police arrested 93 monks from the monastery at Rabgya. In South Africa there is still anger among many human rights activists over denial of a visa to the Dalai Lama who was attempting to attend a peace conference.

The Chinese government insists there is no room for compromise with the Dalai Lama. Only one who lives in fantasy believes Tibetans can drive out the Chinese. It is time for a sensible compromise which allows return of the Dalai Lama, restrictions on the power of monks to revert back to their former control of society, and creation of freedom of religion. Time will tell if Tibetans seek to retain their belief in the rule of monks.

Czech Youth Lead Europe In Drug Use

A study reveals that Czech Republic youth lead the continent in the use of drugs. Almost one half of Czech 16 year-olds have tried an illegal drug and many of them have tried marijuana or hashish. According to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) the use of marijuana as well las hard drugs has doubled in the Czech republic since 1995. Its figures indicate an average of 23 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls have tried an illegal drug. Most European youth admit it is relatively easy to obtain illegal drugs. The Czech Republic also has the highest percentage of students who use marijuana on a daily basis.

The figures are quite clear — despite billions spent on trying to halt illegal drugs they are readily available and used by a high percent of young people. Does this suggest the current approach of “prohibition” is not working? If it isn’t working, isn’t it time for a new approach?

Do Europeans Believe In Anything?

Many frequently compare modern times with its economic dislocation to the events of the 1930s. Ironically, as the Depression rolled over the world there were competing ideologies and groups with rigid beliefs who thought themselves in possession of the truth. A recent survey in Hungary exemplified the lack of passionate belief in anything other than a sense of disillusionment with the prevailing government. The survey revealed 36% supported the current government and 12% supported the opposition, but no party had support from a majority of the electorate. Over half wanted the present parliament to be dissolved and 80% want a new election. But, there is no indication, based on what people tell interviewers, that a significant number of people want X or Y as their political party. It is akin to a “pox on all you politicians.”

The world is seeking answers at a time when virtually every ideology has lost favor with a majority of the population. It is as though ideas have disappeared in the vortex of time and there is simply a hole that goes on and on. Does the world need a new guru, and if that person arrived, would anyone pay attention?

Aussies Say Not To Afghanistan

President Barack Obama has based his new “initiative” in Afghanistan on the assumption other nations will join in the effort to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Recent polls in Australia which has contributed its armed forces to the struggle in Afghanistan suggest public opinion in that nation are turning against fighting in the hills of a a far off Asian land. Public opinion was narrowly divided over whether to support the fight in Afghanistan, but an overwhelming majority opposed sending any more Australian soldiers to fight. Sentiment against any further military involvement was stronger among women than men.

Barack Obama is an optimist to believe sending 17,000 more troops or 4,000 to train the Afghan army will work. If we learned anything from experiences in China during the 1940s and in Vietnam during the 1960s it was that only a government which enjoys the support of its people can defeat terrorism. There is need for an HONEST Afghan government led by men and women who are committed to ending corruption if “more troops” will be the magical solution to success. Sending 17,000 “more troops” to support the Karzai government is sending more money down the rat hole of corruption.

NOBODY ASKED ME BUT,

Each week, we offer the biased unproven views of a 28 year old mind trapped in a 78 year old body.

I can not hate a nation or a group. I don’t like Bernie Madoff, I’m sure some nice people worked for him.

A mother chatting with an older daughter at lunch invariably brings to her face a concerned look.

Sitting in a dentist waiting room is akin to waiting for the arrival of Death.

I know that I am in St. Louis when three pages of the sports section deal with wrestling.

What is the protocol for being in a single sex toilet-do you stand or have to sit?

The United States got defeated in the World Baseball Classic. I know this is not the era of Babe Ruth or Ted Williams.

If newspapers continue to fold it will be up to Jon Stewart to handle investigative reporting.

Few people exit a coffee shop with an empty mug.

I am not a hitch up the pants man, are you?

I saw two priests at lunch. I was surprised since it is now so rare to see a few priests together.

As women grow older, they seek out friends of the same weight, hair color and size.

I wonder if or when people will say, “Depression.”

I take a booth for privacy but have this unique ability to always select the one which is next to the loudest people in the place.

I passed two men seated in front of computers and holding hands as they prayed. It was a powerful sight.

In my youth, people wore the same style shoes. These days, the shoe fits the person and each person is different.

I sense a hardening of feeling into “us” versus “them.” How about “we?”

I never know how to dress when meeting someone for the first time since life has become much more informal.

A comfortable chair, solitude, and silence are what I frequently seek in life.

The shorter person usually precedes the taller.

Never forget, all Emperors on occasion go out without clothes.

We need a Nobel Peace Prize for the person who can invent a senior citizen friendly computer. It would end anger between grandparents and grandchildren.

The beginning of a week vacation has much more hope than its conclusion.

Hair has caused more anger in the world than that caused by feet.

Each day at exactly 8:45 a.m. my cell phone rings with a message inviting me to a Caribbean vacation. Now, if it would only ring with the money for it.

I feel guilty if my car is not exactly flush with the curb. I re-park until it is. Why?

I wonder if the distance between my Depression childhood and immigrant parents was wider than the distance between a 20 year old today and parents.