20 January 2007

Zeus, Armenian Assasination, and corruption in Genoa

Freedom of religion is more than just lip service. If we truly value ones ability to worship as they please, or not at all, we must enforce the rights of those of other faiths to follow the tenets of their faith (unless of course it oppresses its own members, damages surrounding communities, or harms our cities, land, or planet physically). An AP article carried by Yahoo! News reports that, "Zeus worshippers demand access to [the 1,800-year-old Temple of Olympian Zeus]. The Greek government is trying to bar them from their holiest of holy sites, claiming that is protecting it from potential damage, but it is really strict social pressure applied by the vast majority of the population, Greek Orthodox by faith. This is similar to the problems faced by many smaller religions across the world, such as Druidic pagans in the UK, native Americans in the Americas, Zoroastrians in Iran, and thousands of others.

Next, we have the assasination of an Armenian dissident in Turkey. Hrant Dink (link to Wikipedia) was a Turkish-Armenian editor, journalist and column writer who was well-known for writing controversial articles about the mass killing of Armenians by Turks during World War I. (BBC). He was "was shot dead in broad daylight outside his newspaper offices in Istanbul on Friday." The main suspect and others have been swiftly arrested, but the damage is already done. This is what happens to those that daree dissent in Muslim countries and is a key reason why Turkey cannot be permitted to join the EU. The cultural divide is simply too far.

Finally, in what comes as no shock to us on the left (as it has happened over and over for generations), Key evidence in the trial of 29 Italian police officers charged over violence during the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa has vanished BBC. For those who dont remember, this brutal suppression took place during peaceful anti-globalization protests in Genova, Italy during the G8 summit in the summer of 2001. Two Molotov cocktails allegedly planted by police in a school used as a base by anti-globalisation protesters mysteriously vanished from the heavily guarded evidence bunker, imagine that. A violent right wing instigated crackdown on a peaceful leftist protest followed by evidence vanishing. Face it, conservatives everywhere are crooks.

15 January 2007

Muslim Integration

Most nations around the globe are quite strict about immigration, not neccesarily from a racist standpoint, but rather from one of cultural harmony. As such a would be immigrant faces governmental and/or serious social pressure to fit in. As a world traveler, I try to be conscientious as to the local customs and laws, and though I would never sacrifice those values I hold most dear, small steps to adaptation go a long way in foreign lands. If I were to relocate to another nation, I would learn the language, dress the way they do, and fully integrate myself into my new homeland. Anyone should do this, it is quite simply basic respect and common sense.

There are a few nations in the world that readily take in floods of immigrants every year. Unfortunately, this is usually not done for such noble purposes as humanitarianism, sheltering political refugees, or creating a 'melting pot' of all the peoples of Earth. This massive immigration floods are caused by greedy corporations seeking cheap (almost slave) labor to fill lower tiered jobs. Many immigrants are happy to be working illegally for these wages, as they are much higher than in their homelands.

Unfortunately, this often creates an artificial division in society, where there are 2 distinct classes, such as the case with Latino immigrants (mostly Mexican) in the United States. This takes a deeper twist however in Europe, an immensely diverse subcontinent that is in the process of adopting the American model of increased economic gain via massive immigration.

European immigration flows in from all parts of the planet, but a majority of the influx emanates from Muslim countries. Starting with France a century ago and Germany following WWII, most of Europes nations are now becoming saturated. Many Europeans consider these immigrants as temporary guest workers, who hypothetically will leave someday. However, generations later, they persist, and just to tie this back into my original message, they have yet to significantly integrate themselves into their new cultures.

Don't misunderstand me, there is a degree of adaptation, but not nearly enough to not be a problem. Lets take Germany for instance with its estimated 4 million Turks (among millions of other muslims). They speak German, dress like Germans, yet retain a strict Islamic way of thinking, which is oppressive to women, intolerant to others in society, and inconsistent with Western customs of freedom of expression. When they are questioned, violent protests often erupt.

Thats why its a good idea for integration to take place. The BBC reports that, "Germany's interior minister has called for an EU-wide dialogue with Muslims in an effort to integrate them better.

The points I am trying to make are:
1. Massive population migrations cause social dischord and friction
2. Immigration numbers should be kept to a low, manageable number
3. Economies should not be dependent on cheap foreign labor
4. New citizens should be encouraged to integrate

13 January 2007

Political and Economic Force

Its rather ironic how the entire justification of the Cold War in the USA (and to a lesser degree Western Europe) was based on economic principle. Unfettered capitalism was held in the highest regard while any type of planned economy or society was portrayed as pure evil. The propaganda machine has such a persuasive effect on the human psyche and on common social values regardless of merit.

Now that the USSR has collapsed and capitalism been brought to the former communist lands, isn't it a bit strange how the US government quickly becomes critical when Russia starts to brew financial success? MoscowNews reports (I could not find this covered in the American press) that "U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte warned Thursday that Russia is becoming a regional energy superpower. Strange, wasn't the evil alliance between King George, his "neocon" (ie. religious right, ultra conservatives), and the energy industry the thing that initiated a 300% increase in petroleum prices to start with?

This unholy alliance manipulated the free market, creating the conditions that artificially elevated oil prices, screwing the average "consumer" in America and to a lesser degree Europe who is entirely dependent on fuel prices, and consequently allowing Russia to exercise it economic muscle. Who is to blame for their increased political influence? Its a matter of market competence, pure and simple.

This just goes to show that the US never wanted peace with the former Soviet Union, it wanted unconditional surrender. When the Cold War ended, both sides were supposed to disarm, letting the massive military budgets to flow into a newly prosperous economy, stringent laws to be eased, allowing societies to become more free, and the rhetoric to ease, ensuring peaceful relations to future generations in the West. Unfortunately, the conservatives in the USA thought Gorbachevs generosity was a weakness, and have exploited the former union ever since. Is this the USA, or just another greedy country only in the game for its own selfish interests?

12 January 2007

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives ..by Michael Moore

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.

Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.

Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans,

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.

Michael Moore

11 January 2007

Iraq fiasco heading in dark directions

King George just had his 'historic' speech in which he was suppose to set out in a new direction on Iraq. What he gave everyone was the same old shit. In the clearest sign yet that he doesn't have a clue about what the reality of the situation is (not public opinion, but whats going on on the ground and where things are heading).

The LA Times reports, "U.S. approaches falling short not only in Iraq, but in the entire Arab world. The BBC states that "Senior US legislators from both parties have attacked President George W Bush's plans to send more than 20,000 extra troops to Iraq." In perhaps the most stinging review, a piece in the International Herald Tribune states that the "war is already over. This last article is a must read.

What I find so infuriating about King Georges ignorance is that it is dangerously short sighted. There are times when we must go to war, there are times we need to sacrifice the lives of our young men and women, and there are times to stand alone. The situation in Iraq meets none of the criteria.

The worst part about this new plan is in the details. Over 20,000 American troops will flood into Baghdad, systematically sweep the neighborhoods, then stay stationed in those neighborhoods, presumably to keep the peace and order. What is going to happen however, is that these troops will be sitting ducks for any muslim fanatic with a truck bomb or insurgents with a moderately planned assault. Remember what happened in Beirut under Reagans disasterous Lebanon mission?

The civil war is already raging and all sides (except perhaps the Kurds) want us dead. If this isn't a clue its time to leave, what would be? Partition the damn country, let each side govern itself, and lets get our troops out ASAP.

ps. entertaining sidenote: make King George talk

Latin Americas move to the Left

Right wingers have always taken some sort of perverse pleasure in attacking good people on the left side of the political spectrum. From the dissapearings under Pinochet in Chile, to the violent repression during Francos rule in Spain, to the concentration camps in Germany under Hitler.

Daniel Ortega is a prime example of how people suffer persecution from conservatives. His rise to power followed a popular uprising against the brutal dictator, and American supported Samoza regime. He and the other revolutionaries quickly attempted to make life more fair for the poor, comprising a vast majority of the country, who had been systematically impoverished by Samoza and international corporations. His reward for trying to be a humanitarian...Ronald Reagan, a great speaker but incompetent leader, began to fuel illegal resources (money, weapons, and intel) to a newly formed rebel group, the Contras. The CIA smuggled drugs into the US to help fund them, and when the US Congress made financing them illegal, Reagan sold weapons to the Iranian government (who had just held US hostages a few years before) funneling the proceeds to the rebels in the Iran Contra affair. This heinous and immoral act was caught, but not punished (except for a public humiliation of Oliver North).

In any case, to make a long story short, this illegal activity coupled with an economic embargo and support for opposition groups eventually led to the tense days leading to the defeat of Ortega in democratic elections. Since 1990, he has continued to work for the benefit of the larger society, and partly as a result of the continued exploitation by international corporations and the resulting financial mess for the masses, Ortega was elected president of Nicaragua.

He joins other progressive leaders in most of Latin America, including Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Cuba. In fact, only Columbia, Mexico, Peru, and a handful of Central American nations have corrupt right wing leaders. The move of Latin America to the political left is very refreshing to see. The US has marched further and further into the arms of the irrational right since the 70s, the wrong direction for social justice and economic fairness. Congratulations Daniel Ortega, your victory brings hope to us all.

10 January 2007

Bush the anti-environmentalist

In the wake of foreign turmoil and a major speech, King George is set to once again appease his energy masters. By using the cover of the Iraqi castarophe and a major directional speech, Curious George is once again using political deceipt to grease the wheels of his major campaign contributors. He unilaterally opened Alaska's Bristol Bay and Lease Area 181 in the Gulf of Mexico to open drilling. Fuck the environmental and ecological consequences, the political speech on Iraq will give him cover.

This is the sad truth about the morality of the conservatives and the Republican party. They use foreign policy disasters to cover their tracks on domestic policy transgressions, all to benefit the rich, corporate interests that fund their re-election campaigns. This is what is known worldwide by the dirty word of corruption. Pure and simple, corruption.

Democracy? How much money does it cost? In King Georges version, democracy equals a voice for the rich only.

09 January 2007

US launches air strike in Somalia

US launches air strike in Somalia

This one probably did not come out of the oval 'orifice', but in a great stroke of military opportunism, the US military bombed Islamist fighters in southern Somalia today. This has been a long time coming, not as a tool of revenge for the debacle in Mogadishu a decade ago, but as a way of waging a real war on terror. Congratulations to whoever had the stones to authorize this, you are this blogs Hero of the Week.