December 31, 2005

African Concerns Ignored Yet Again

A brutal and inexcusable attack by Egyptian police on a large group of Sudanese refugees protesting in Cairo led to the despicable murder of at least 26 refugees, including 7 children. Of course the actions of the Egyptian security officials is not suprising. Just a few weeks ago they unleashed their brutality on Egyptians wanting to...(omg)...VOTE!

As the Washington Post points out, this just another 'incident' in the trend of North African governments brutalizing African refugees who are fleeing civil strife, disease, and poverty, in response to European pressures:

"The European Union has pressured North African governments to curb the migrant traffic to its shores. Compliance commonly ends in brutality. In Libya, which until recently permitted sub-Saharan Africans to enter without a visa, reports of refugees disappearing without a trace after arrest are common.

On Thursday, seven migrants fled Morocco by clambering over a razor-wire fence into Spain's North African enclave of Melilla. In September and October, hundreds of African migrants stormed Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish possession in North Africa. In separate incidents, Moroccan and Spanish police shot at the crowds, killing 11."

The problem lies in the world's blatant disregard for the immense amount of suffering which the people of Africa face on a daily basis due to disturbing levels of poverty, people infected with HIV/AIDS, and the continuing inter and intra-state strife in various parts of the continent. Aid relief is just a small step towards the assistance of these millions of people, but it is not enough. Western countries, especially Western Europe, have an important responsibility to invest in the future of the continent because of the disturbing colonial history that is the source of such great conflict in Africa (Latine America and the Middle East) today.

December 28, 2005

Telling It Like It Isn't

Robert Fisk wrote a great op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on the abuse of terminology by American (and Western) journalists when reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This disturbing trend is noticeable in almost every article or news report on the main stream media. I’ve even noticed it on NPR (a good report on this preceived balance) and the BBC, two media sources which many of us hold in higher regard than the average mainstream media outlet. In this FAIR report, the author writes:

"During the six-month period studied, NPR reported the deaths of 62 Israelis and 51 Palestinians. While on the surface that may not appear to be hugely lopsided, during the same time period 77 Israelis and 148 Palestinians were killed in the conflict. That means there was an 81 percent likelihood that an Israeli death would be reported on NPR, but only a 34 percent likelihood that a Palestinian death would be."

Back to Fisk, who writes that the intent of these misnomers is to continuously obscure the truth of the conflict, especially with regards to the Palestinian side, and to make the actions of Palestinians appear barbaric, irrational, and without justification.

Illegal Jewish settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land are clearly "colonies," and we used to call them that …Similarly, "occupied" Palestinian land was softened in many American media reports into "disputed" Palestinian land …For Palestinians to object violently to any of these phenomena thus marks them as a generically vicious people. By our use of language, we condemn them.”

If Americans Knew has a few excellent studies of US and European media and their reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The findings are disturbing, to say the least. They conducted a study of the major news networks ABC, NBC, and CBS and another on the New York Times, among others.

This problem these days is lack of reporting at all on the current situation, except when an issue like Hamas' participation in the January elections attracts the attention of some journalists. However, the day to day struggles of Palestinians going through Israeli checkpoints, being caged into enclaves as a result of the contruction of the wall, curfews, economic suppression, and settler violence are easily overlooked, until a suicide bomber blows himself up in an Israeli town...

December 21, 2005

Spying and the Patriot Act

A radio news commentator said today, if the president thinks he can spy on people without permission, then why does he need the Patriot Act?!

Well, even if Bush doesn't need the Patriot Act, he still need some legitimacy because, well, he is the president... fortunately, he got a few nice blows today:

U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned in protest over the president's domestic spying program.

The Senate also refused to re-authorize some provisions of the soon-to-expire "anti-terror" law because of controversy over some key provisions which many believe are violating civil liberties, causing Bush to continue whining in front of cameras.

Finally, someone is standing up to Bush, including senators. It's really about time. I know that the Patriot Act will be passed again, but this filibuster and serious debate on the issue is really overdue now. The US Congress has been stalling for the past 4 years on various issues, and it has continuously yielded power to the White House on major policy issues including the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, among others. It about time that the "representatives" of the American people actually represent their constituents...but I won't hold my breath on this one.


so much for democracy promotion

Soon after his recovery from a mild stroke caused by his insatiable appetite for food among other things (occupation, settlements, oppression, torture, and the like), Israeli PM Ariel Sharon was back to working on making Palestinian lives miserable, what he does best. The Israeli prime minister's spokesman Raanan Gissin announced that Palestinians living in Jerusalem would not be allowed to vote in the upcoming January parliamentary elections because of fears that Hamas is gaining more power through such elections.

On the same topic, the
US and EU announced that

Interestingly enough,
50% of Israelis said they would support talks with Hamas if the need arose.

Any party should be allowed to participate if the elections are to be considered free and fair. If Hamas makes significant gains, then they will concentrate their efforts on bringing change through the political process, rather than armed resistance. This will be more effective for them, and will make their image more favorable in the eyes of the US and EU as long as they stay active within the system rather than resorting to violence. Preventing them from participating will only alienate them and encourage them to use other means to get their message across.

Labels: , , ,

December 13, 2005

another day in the war on terrorism

Secret CIA prisons in Europe were investigated by the Swiss on behalf of the Council of Europe. Nothing new here, secret detentions, rumors of torture, no oversight, prisoners in legal black holes...all administered by the US.
President Bush's PR team is just amazing. Can't wait for more info to emerge on this through the EU's investigation.


December 12, 2005

Racist Violence in Aussieland

Did I ever mention how much I love the media? of course, the US media has a special place in my heart, but the international media is getting close too. I love the way they twist things around and use vague or absolutely inaccurate language to portray events related to Muslims and Arabs. The dispicable attacks in Sydney on anyone who looks remotely Arab are being portrayed as a "reaction to" or "revenge for" an alleged attack of two lifeguards by Arabs in the area. Whether the riots were directly in response to that, or they were just waiting to explode and this gave them an excuse for it, there is no proportionality in this issue, and I hate when things are taken out of context and called retaliations.
i would like to see how far the affects of this drunken racist mob go around Australia and if this is a sign of simmering tensions, despite government rejections of that claim. an investigation on who is inciting this should reveal more information about the origins of this violence.


December 8, 2005

air marshalls

I found the story about the bi-polar man who was shot to death by a federal air marshall because he claimed to have a bomb very disturbing today. I realize and fully understand that these individuals are there to protect passengers, however, I cannot help but wonder if there are certain regulations that guide their actions in such circumstances... are they supposed to fire at anyone who claims they have a bomb? do they attempt to debilitate the person by shooting at his feet or any other location that might not be immediately fatal? I can only judge the situation based on what I am hearing from the news, and it's probably a much different situation when you are in charge of security and some man runs around saying he has a bomb. However, even this claim has not been independently corroborated by other passengers... they said his wife was running after him saying that he needed medication and was mentally ill. Should the marshalls have listened to her and risk that this could be some sort of fake scenario? But then again, assuming that they were terrorists who really had bombs, why would they act out something like that? I would assume they would just blow themselves up, without warning.

A "routine" investigation is being conducted, the White House said today. This even should be an eye opener for air marshalls and their trainers. A similar situation occurred in the summer when British police forces shot and killed a Brazilian man in the subway system after the 7/11 attacks in London. When this involves the loss of an innocent and sick man's life, I believe more than a "routine" investigation should be conducted, and one that is independent of government influence.


December 6, 2005


Finally, a hint of it. Former Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian was acquitted today on most terrorism-related charges after a grueling case launched by the feds. Two of his co-defendants were acquitted on all charges, and one more remains with some other charges which the jury is deadlocked on. Among the more than 200 charges between the four men, the jury has yet to find them guilty on any charge. The prosecution handed down countless pages of indictments, and frivolous charges, but the jury dismissed most of them due to "lack of evidence." This is a heavy blow to the prosecution which used the PATRIOT Act as the main tool for their witch hunt. Unfortunately, I did not think that the media picked up on it as it would've had it been a conviction. has been following the case since the arrest and beginning of the hearing, but when the acquittal came, it did not even put it on the homepage, US page, or even the front of the Law page. After 3 hours, they put it on the Law page. Washington Post, and NY Times put it on the front page, and even the BBC and Guardian picked up on it quickly. *Thank God* I don't have Fox News because I would just die to see what they are saying about this. They ripped him up when he was arrested, and now I bet their silence is deafening or they're probably in denial...
When I see a jury like this take these charges seriously and deliberate for 13 days, rather than 3 (like in the Abu Ali case), I begin to have more faith in the system...but that is not always the case. There are some people out there who have a conscience, who are not blinded by the rhetoric of Bush and Ashcroft, who are not blinded by their political and religious convictions like those who attack New York, Madrid, and Amman. And as long as they exist, and as long as people like Dr. Al-Arian continue to speak out against oppression, there is hope for this world.
My hope is grounded in my faith, not in a human judicial system, but my faith in a divine judicial system that will never go wrong. And this is just another sign.

Injustice will continue in many forms, throughout the world, but in the end, there will be justice. for all.

Labels: , ,