Monthly Archives: July 2009

Copenhagen International Human Rights Conference

An international conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender human rights entitled “Love of Freedom, Freedom to Love,” is now going on in Copenhagen. Danish Socialist MP Kamal Hameed Qureshi, a heterosexual born in Pakistan, told the conference how he had to overcome prejudice and bigotry among family members and his community in order to speak out in favor of human rights for those whose sexual preferences did not fit normal ideas of Muslims. He emphasized the experience of growing up as a minority person in Denmark had sensitized him to issues of those who daily encounter bigotry and prejudice. Qureshi noted that while Denmark recognizes same-sex marriages the law dictates they can not take place in a church, let alone a mosque.

The Danish MP argued for an ombudsman who would deal with issues of sexual equality. Among the surprising aspects of his talk was discussion how there are already signs of change towards gays and lesbians in his conservative Muslim Pakistan community. Most probably, this arises from living in a multicultural society in which law supports the premise of equality for all members of the community.

HEADLINES FROM THE WORLD PRESS

Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Turkey, Hurriyet “Consumer Protests Fuel Prices”
Please stop the protests so we can avoid raising fuel prices.

Saudi Arabia, Saudi Gazette: “Sheikh Has Sale Of Limited Collection Of Villas”
Gee, I wonder what the entire collection contains.

New Zealand, New Zealand Herald: “Suicide Donkeys”
Let’s not make an ass of ourselves.

Australia, Sydney Morning Herald: “Pregnant Heroin Trafficker Sent Home”
It might be wise to check the little bundle she is carrying inside.

Denmark, Copenhagen Post: “Chicken Rides Again”
I assume in the United States Congress when they discuss health care.

South Africa, Argus: “Priest’s Son Caused Crash”
There is always a bit of a devil inside the child of every priest.

Canada, Toronto Star: “Biker-Don’t Pickles Grow On Trees?”
Actually, no, and even more shocking is there is no Santa Claus.

Romania, Nine O’Clock: “Human Egg Trafficking”
Cluck, cluck, cluck.

Australia, Brisbane Times: “Judge Sick Of Swine Flu Defense”
I would also get sick of having pigs in my court oinking all over the place.

UNUSUAL JOBS FOR PEOPLE

FOLLOWING ARE UNUSUAL JOBS FOR SOME PEOPLE:

COLIN POWELL — Head of the Republican National Committee.

SENATOR JIM DEMINT: Chief of Staff for Barack Obama.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: Entry into wheelchair derby.

PRIME MINISTER PUTIN: Head of Amnesty International.

GEORGE MITCHELL, ENVOY TO MIDDLE EAST: Head of the San Diego zoo.

SASHA COHEN: Bank teller.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Subway ticket dispenser.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Head of the Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa.

DIMITRY MEDVEDEV: President of Russia.

Let’s Crowley And Birthrite The Black Dude!

The Republican crazies are out in full force to prove Barack Obama is not a “real American” but some foreign import, you know, someone like Alexander Hamilton who came from Jamaica. Our young men and women are risking their lives to fight battles against those who show no respect for human life while here at home, loonies of the right would be willing to destroy any chance for a decent health care system or restoration of the economy because they still can’t get right with the idea some black dude is president of the nation. The Sgt. Crowley episode is a vivid example that right wingers instinctively come to the defense of anyone accused of racism because in their delusions the concept of racism does not exist in America. Of course, to be honest, they really believe white folk are victims of racism and it is necessary to defend the rights of millionaires before those who are poor or unemployed.

I have taught dozens of police in my course on the history of crime. Most policemen are decent, hard working, underpaid and under appreciated, but they do make mistakes because they are human. Anyone working in the public arena MUST make mistakes because there are too many variables simultaneously assaulting one’s senses. Sgt. Crowley’s account of the incident now conflicts with the one who made the original call, Lucia Whalen. Sg. Crowley is not lying, no one involved in the incident is lying. Each person saw and heard what they wanted to hear and see. Reality is that Sgt. Crowley has ignored Hundreds of incidents in which people raised their voices, he walked away without making an arrest. I have no idea why this decent individual lost his cool and made a “stupid arrest.” I have taught 15,000 students in my life and there have been dozens of examples when I simply lost my cool and did something that I later realized was stupid. As President Obama said, let’s move on from this incident.

As for the birth certificate madness, it is clear Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, and the idiot congresswomen from Minnesota are not interested in anything other than destroying the reputation of President Obama. If the nation has to go under, so be it in their view, the important thing is to ensure their voices of ignorance are heard. As Shakespeare put it centuries ago, their comments are “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Jihad In North Carolina!!

Homeland Security devotes extensive resources and energy in the struggle to prevent foreign born terrorists from entering the nation. Heck, we still take off our shoes in an airport because several years ago a terrorist on an airplane attempted to light his own. Yesterday, in the quaint terrorist locale of Raleigh, North Carolina, a man, his sons and four others were arrested on charges of planning a jihad here in America. Daniel Patrick Boyd. who two decades ago trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and went on to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan, converted to the Muslim religion and persuaded his sons to join him in a holy war against the infidels. The group is charged with providing material support to terrorism.

Boyd left his Raleigh mosque because it was too moderate and gathered around him a group that wanted to do strike a blow against those who represent the evil West. Boyd’s mother who lives in Maryland termed news about the jihad, “weird to me.” Most probably it is equally weird to neighbors and friends of the man who harbors anger at those who do not fit his definition of being a “good Muslim.”

Since we have to remove our shoes because of some nut case on a plane, does news about Boyd mean we no longer can travel to North Carolina?

Which Comes First –End Settlements Or Talk?

The Israel-Palestine conflict increasingly resembles an old vaudeville act in which each side insists the other make the first move toward peace. The current assessment in Jerusalem is serious negotiations will not resume until the Obama administration is able to work out an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the West Bank expansion of settlements issue. The US State Department has send invitations to various Arab leaders urging their support in order to foster a peace agreement in the Middle East. Mitchell is seeking some dramatic event from Arabs that would place Netanyahu in a situation in which he must take positive steps for peace.

A major problem is lack of visionary leadership from either Israel or Arab nations. Mundane leaders display mundane attitudes and are unable to make a move that captures attention of the world that sets in motion action toward peace.

Ides Of June Haunt President Ahmadinejad

It is nearly two months after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the Iran presidential election in a manner that resembled the old Chicago politics of Mayor Daley. He ordered the arrest of hundreds of innocent people and their imprisonment in jails where they have been beaten, tortured and even killed. Finally, even Iran’s real ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had to order the closure of the notorious Kahrizak prison in Tehran on grounds it “lacked the standards” to maintain rights of detainees. After members of Parliament inspected the Evin prison, at least 140 political detainees were released without comment. Among the 150 other political detainees still in prison, most are supporters of the defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi who has refused to cease complaining about brutal treatment accorded those who disagree with the Ahmadinejad government.

Concern about the condition of detainees rose to a new height of anger when it was revealed Mohsen Rouholaamini, son of a prominent scientist and regime leader, died while in prison. The most amazing aspect of the current protest movement is that it still is functioning despite attempts to silence those who want a democratic Iran. This suggests Ahmadinejad does not command all power and forces of both the right and left are merging in an effort to confront the leader over his actions.

We Don’t Want To Fight No More Say Britons!

The people of Great Britain believed their prime minister, Tony Blair was telling the truth concerning the need for their armed forces to fight in Afghanistan. Eight years have passed and the patience of most Britons has run out. A survey conducted by the newspaper, The Independent, reveals a majority of the country has concluded the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and their sons and daughters should be headed home. About 52% want the troops home right away and nearly two-thirds of women do not believe there is any such thing as “winning the Afghan war.” The vast majority of people are particularly upset at the poor level of equipment provided fighting men and women.

Gordon Brown insists the UK has accomplished important goals in securing areas in Afghanistan from Taliban control. Of course, the real question is whether those regions are really safe and secure. There is scant doubt after eight years Afghanistan is ruled by corrupt and inefficient leaders who are unable or unwilling to guarantee their people freedom and the basic components of a decent scale of living.

HEADLINES FROM THE WORLD PRESS

Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Romania, Seven Times.ro: “For Sale: Transylvania Castles”
Each comes with a resident Count Dracula.

UK, Guardian: “Archbishop Warns Against Gay Clergy”
OK, reverend, from now on I just go to unhappy clergy.

South Africa, Argus: “Man Dies After Shooting Himself”
This is one open and dead case.

Sweden, The Local: “Man Dies In Crash With Elk”
I’m sorry the happy couple died, but at least they were together.

Australia, Brisbane Times: “Woman Stuck In Toilet For Week”
This is one shitty story to report.

South Africa, Mail & Guardian: “I’m No Cannibal”
In fact, I only eat kosher meat.

Australia, Sydney Morning Herald: “Naked Cowboy Runs For NYC Mayor”
At least this is one candidate who will never cover anything up.

UK, The Independent: “Is Anti-Christ Any Good Or Just Pure Evil”
Excuse me, I will go ask Dick Cheney.

OBAMA– IT’S JOBS NOT JUST STIMULUS!

There is no doubt pundits of the right such as Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Lou Dobbs and the crowd are able to play upon fear in order to spread their discordant and divisive ideas in America. Yes, President Obama, your actions did halt an economic drift that threatened the entire economy, but as so often is the case, one wins the battle and loses the war. Latest figures in St. Louis reveal area school districts have literally cut in half the number of jobs available in education and indications are similar tallies are apparent all over the nation. We can add over a 100,000 jobless young teachers to the list of those without work. Even more ominous is growing evidence that even if the stimulus works as the president desires, it will NOT result in restoration of jobs to those who have been downsized or out right fired.

We are entering a new era in which new industries simply can not produce the number of middle class paying jobs necessary to avoid economic dislocation in this nation. A recent article in The New York Times suggests those involved in developing Artificial Intelligence assume the result will be more tasks for machines and fewer for humans. The shift in work is analogous to the shift from agriculture to industrial work, but this time around, machines are progressing at an ever increasing ability to supplant human labor.

Unless the Obama administration can create middle class jobs, the prospect for large Republican gains in 2010 Congressional races will come about. The only thing saving Obama is the lack of a coherent or intelligent Republican opposition. An historic shift can not be solved in a few years, but the Obama administration must address both short and long term consequences of historic changes in work.

We suggest for the immediate future:

1. Organize a 100,000 Teacher Corps who are paid by the Federal government. They would be available to school districts provided they do not replace existing teacher staffs. They could only be obtained from the Federal government if they are in addition to existing teacher staffs.
2. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton pushed through legislation for 100,000 additional police. We could well do with a similar effort in 2009.
3. Our national forests are desperately in need of help. We could organize a new National Conservation Corps to work restoring our forest heritage.
4. Hospitals and day care are in need of people. Why not day care available in business organizations with Federal subsidies?
5. FDR allocated money to establish theater groups, pay for symphony orchestras playing in places like Penn Station, subsidized authors to write about state histories, etc.. How about subsidizing writers to capture the lives of those who fought in WWII? They could capture the lives of those who participated in the Civil Rights movement. FDR did such acts in the midst of a worse crisis, and it was not wasted money.
6. How about funding small business who have interesting ideas for new products? No interest loans might generate these ideas and they could be reviewed by a panel of retired businessmen and scientists.

Add your own ideas, but let’s get people back to working.