*    when Israelis call their country “apartheid”, we’re in trouble

When Israelis call their country “apartheid”, we’re in trouble
31 Oct 2010

Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz:

Israel is quickly defining the borders of the Arab autonomy and through apartheid legislation it is granting the Arab minority a legal standing of enclaves with lesser rights; of a cultural-ethnic region which, because it is being expelled from the broader who, can also demand international recognition for its unique standing.


MSM commentator prays for Iran attack
31 Oct 2010

This is what a Serious columnist for the Washington Post, David Broder, wrote yesterday:

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.
I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

What other response than ridicule to such ignorant bollocks? Perhaps Broder would like to kill Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself.


Talking sense in the Sri Lankan media barely happens these days
31 Oct 2010

Behold a true rarity. This article in Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Leader shows that there are still a few voices of reason in that authoritarian state:

Contrary to the attempts to spin-doctor every excess of the current regime and its sins of omission by those whose names hardly need specifying to anyone familiar with the media in this country, Sri Lanka has very serious problems that stem, primarily, from the militarism, racism, triumphalism and brutality that appears to pervade society and is increasingly taken for granted, as a ‘fact of life,’ thanks to the seemingly never-ending barrage of propaganda from writers of this ilk and those who provide them with patronage.
The fact that most of this stems from nearly three decades of violent conflict, does not provide an excuse to pretend it isn’t a problem in the here and now.
Suffice it to say that the sycophantic voices are significant and their ranks swelling, thanks to the perks that accrue to such people for providing the cloak of concealment to a regime that it is increasingly short of raiment with which to cover its moral and ethical nakedness.
Sri Lankan governments past and present are guilty of generating and presiding over this tragic state of affairs. The constant fall back of the horde of apologists when confronted with these horrors is, “They did it first,” the “they” ranging from Atilla the Hun, the Visigoths, the leaders of the Inquisition, on to Hitler, Idi Amin and the governments that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of the last category, the very fact that their conduct was totally reprehensible and their subsequent behaviour hypocritical, does not give us the right to use them as stalking horses to visit misery on those we victimise.
And this is exactly the path that these apologists tread in their seemingly endless sycophantic posturing.

A simple phrase would describe the response of those of us who subscribe to a code of decency, morality or ethics of some description: “This is just not good enough.” Invoking the horrors of years and centuries past to justify the excesses of Sri Lanka today is just not acceptable.


Al Jazeera’s Listening Post on Wikileaks Iraq documents
31 Oct 2010

The Wikileaks Iraq files continue to cause robust discussion around the world.
Al-Jazeera’s weekly media show, Listening Post, examined the impact of the latest revelations and how some journalists preferred to focus on the personal life of Julian Assange rather than the fact that the US had turned a blind eye to Iraqi torture and murder.
The show asked me to briefly comment on the Wikileaks story and it starts below at 8.03. (My previous Al-Jazeera appearance, regarding the Wikileaks documents on Afghanistan, is here):

Is the Times too worried about upsetting its mates in Washington?
30 Oct 2010

New York Times‘ Public Editor looks at the ethical decisions made by the paper in accepting the Wikileaks documents over Afghanistan.
In the end, he argues that the paper made the right choice but there is one thing missing; the focus the paper took towards the US government. Was it too servile?

Mr. Bill Keller [Times editor] said no conditions were placed on the news organizations’ use of the material, except that they were obligated to synchronize publication with WikiLeaks’s publication online. The Times mapped out its own coverage.
“We chose the documents that struck us as most interesting,” Mr. Keller said in an e-mail message. “We did our own analysis of the material. We decided what to write. We did not discuss any of those matters with WikiLeaks, or give them an advance look at our stories.”
He emphasized, in other words, The Times’s independence from WikiLeaks. The issue emerged as a definitive one in my conversations with veteran journalists, a legal expert and a retired general.
Some say that what’s important is the material itself. Whether or not Julian Assange is a rogue with a political agenda, what matters most is that The Times authenticates the information.
“They did exactly the right thing to establish an arms-length distance,” said Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of the news organization ProPublica. “WikiLeaks is not the A.P.”
David Rudenstine, a Cardozo Law School professor and author of “The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case,” said, “If The Times makes the judgment that this is the real thing, I don’t think it matters much” who it is dealing with.
Another view holds that it is impossible to separate the legitimacy of the material from its source. In this situation, the challenge is compounded because The Times’s source, WikiLeaks, obtained the material from its own source — a leaker whose identity remains uncertain.
“Did the source select which documents to turn over?” asked Bill Kovach, of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in an e-mail message to me. “What was the nature of the transaction between WikiLeaks and the source(s)? Did WikiLeaks turn over only some documents and not others?”
Mr. Keller said the documents deserved attention, “whatever you think of WikiLeaks as an organization.” He added that Times staffers scrutinized the material to satisfy themselves that it had not been manipulated.


Prosecuting a child at Gitmo and calling it justice
30 Oct 2010

Obama’s America:

Everything about the last week’s events at Guantánamo has been deeply disturbing. On Monday, in defiance of international obligations requiring the rehabilitation of child prisoners, the US government — under President Obama — fulfilled the deepest wishes of the Bush administration, and persuaded Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen who was just 15 years old when he was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, to plead guilty to charges of murder in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder, spying, conspiracy, and providing material support to terrorism, in a plea deal that apparently involves an eight-year sentence, with Khadr serving one more year at Guantánamo before being returned to Canada.
At the heart of the plea deal is a 50-point “Stipulation of Fact” (PDF), signed by Khadr and stating that he “does not have any legal defense to any of the offenses to which he is pleading guilty,” in which, despite his previous protestations to the contrary, he accepted that he threw a grenade that killed Delta Force Sgt. Christopher Speer on the day of his capture, and, moreover, that he was, at the time, an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,” who did not have “any legal basis to commit any war-like acts” at all.
As part of the Bush administration’s apparently successful rewriting of international law — facilitated by President Obama and lawmakers in Congress — Khadr was therefore obliged not only to forego further complaints about his age at the time of his capture, and the responsibility of others for indoctrinating him, but also to accept that he had been captured in circumstances in which it was impossible for him to be a legitimate combatant.


Pulling the troops out of Afghanistan
30 Oct 2010

Who says hip-hop isn’t political?
How Stewart/Colbert mock Fox News America
30 Oct 2010

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