Sunday, February 6, 2005

Ebb and Flow of Democracy

World History teaches that democracies come and go. Noble Savage tells of his days teaching English in Bangkok in 1992, where he almost got shot in the head, and what that day meant to him:

    "I was teaching English in Bangkok in 1992 when Thailand saw the bloody consequences of its last military coup. General Suchinda Kraprayoon had seized power and within a year had suspended the constitution and installed himself as Prime Minister. The normally complacent Thais, now tasting economic success and enjoying a growing middle class, decided not to stand for this brazen hijacking of power. In May of 1992, I went to Sanam Luang and watched as thousands of Thais protested in front of lines of soldiers. I stood at the fringe of the crowd and saw the soldiers lower their machine guns and, on command, open up with bursts of machine gun fire just over our heads. I remember running with the crowd as the bullets ricocheted off the surrounding buildings. Although it did not receive much international media coverage, those who were there will never forget the bravery of the Thais who had stood up to their illegitimate government."

Reality MSM, What a Mess

With hundreds of millions around the world looking to our MSM for their news and information, the state of our freedoms at home comes under scrutiny with a greater sense of urgency. This analysis focuses on what's really going on with Reality MSM:

    "George Monbiot correctly observed in his commentary, A Televisual Fantasy, Americans do not live in a free society, they live in a corporate society. Simply put, there can be no real democracy if information is controlled, manipulated and censored.

    The corporate decision to censor critical reporting is pushing millions of viewers off their TVs and on to their computers, which is ultimately bad for advertisers and business, and great for website owners, especially liberal website owners.

    Regimes are not necessarily defined by a single despot or dictator. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOXTV, CNN: what the CEOs of these media corporations refuse to acknowledge is that in the process of censoring watchdog reporting, regarding the Bush administration’s policies, they are turning at least fifty percent of the population off to their networks. Millions of people are disgusted with the media programs from news to entertainment.

    Large sectors of the population have had enough of the silly propaganda being aired as “news” over network channels. We’re not screaming from opened windows, “I’m not going to take it anymore!” as in the film, “Network,” instead, we’re just turning the TV off and using it only for viewing DVD movies. As for news, the fifty percent that voted for Kerry are turning more and more to the web for facts and critical analysis."

Looking for Holocaust Survivor

Per Esther's request at Outside the Blogway, if anyone out there knows of an Ellen Ackemann, 58-1460 Limberlot, London, Ontario, Canada, or relatives of Franciska Frieda Borchardt (nee Pasmantier) born 1888 in Warsaw, or Helmut Michael Borchardt, born 1923 in Berlin, please take a look a this request from Irene Liron, of Haifa, Israel, a Holocaust survivor, who is looking for a long-lost relative who may be her last surviving relative.


Addendum: Under the heading 'never forget and never give up,' comes this illustrative story and subject lesson:

"RISHON LEZION, Israel · Klara Bleier and Hana Katz thought each other dead, swallowed 61 years ago, like the rest of their family, in the maw of Auschwitz. The sisters were separated in October 1944 in the Budapest ghetto when Hana left one day to find work and food. She never returned.

But both came through the chaos of the end of the war against the Nazis, the death marches and the refugee camps; both came to Israel in 1948 and raised families, 45 miles apart. Both thought they were sole survivors.

In the years since, Bleier's son-in-law became obsessed with the missing family history. Katz's granddaughter did, too. Six years apart, they filed survivor testimonies with Yad Vashem, Israel's center for Holocaust studies and commemoration.

A new computerized archive matched the two testimonies, and on Thursday, a week after heads of state bowed their heads at Auschwitz on the 60th anniversary of its liberation, the two women were restored to each other, astounded, slightly frightened and unrecognizable, at least at first."

Abu Ghraib, Again

It will be a wonderful thing if the New Iraq does not copy all of our ideas about democracy:

    "Unqualified US military medics stationed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison carried out amputations, recycled used chest tubes and lacked medical supplies to treat the overcrowded jail's inmates after the fall of Baghdad, according to a report."

I'm sure I will hear from some that the enemy treated their prisoners no better. That may be so, but hundreds and more of these Iraqis were not our enemy, just Iraqis in our custody. These were the same Iraqis who voted, the same Iraqis for whom applause was loud, and the same Iraqis for whom Senators and Congresspeople had the 'courage' to dip their finger in ink and show them to the world at the State of the Union address in celebration of these Iraqis.

If the story is true, the conduct is beyond torture and beyond incivility; it is inhumane, intolerable, un-American and criminal. Hopefully, this time, the buck stops where it belongs.

Has the President Gone Crazy?

"(SNN) We have been told that democracy can cure all ills and that a leader elected with a majority of the popular vote can not go wrong. But now is the time to start to seriously question those deep seated beliefs, because many are beginning to believe that the President has gone crazy.

The current opinion of experts is that the President has become dangerous confused and radical. While rising to power though democracy and remaining popular, the President’s policies have become anything but democratic.

Even Fox News has been increasingly critical of the President. Fox quotes one political science professor named Anibal Romero to let us know that the President is a threat to the US. Romero called him "a dangerous fellow, a confused person who is deeply anti-American and is prepared to do terrible things."

Bargaining with Terrorists?

"Jewish blood will again flow in the streets of Israeli cities unless all jailed Palestinian Arab terrorists are set free, a senior PA minister threatened Sunday.

"If the prisoners aren't released, we will return to the cycle of violence,” PA Communications Minister Azzam al-Ahmed told reporters, attesting to terrorism’s place as a bargaining chip for the “Palestinians” in their negotiations with Israel.

That position is consistent with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s repeated pledge to following in the footsteps of deceased arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat." There.

Saturday, February 5, 2005

What Bin Laden Sees in Hiroshima

    "At a conference on the future of al Qaeda sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory last month, I posed a dark question to 60 or so nuclear weapons scientists and specialists on terrorism and radical Islam: How many of them believed that the probability of a nuclear fission bomb attack on U.S. soil during the next several decades was negligible -- say, less than 5 percent?

    At issue was the Big One -- a Hiroshima-or-larger explosion that could claim hundreds of thousands of American lives, as opposed to an easier-to-mount but less lethal radiological attack. Amid somber silence, three or four meek, iconoclastic hands went up. (More later on the minority optimists. They, too, deserve a hearing.)

    This grim view, echoed in other quarters of the national security bureaucracy in recent months, can't be dismissed as Bush administration scaremongering. "There has been increasing interest by terrorists in acquiring nuclear weapons," Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world's chief nuclear watchdog, said in a recent interview, excerpts of which were published in Outlook last Sunday. "I cannot say 100 percent that it hasn't happened" already, he added, almost as an afterthought. Worried yet?"

Then go here for the rest.

The secret is out: The Jews are in partnership with Osama bin Laden.

Much ado about Lt. Gen. John Mattis, a/k/a "Mad Dog Mattis," having said that "it's fun to shoot some people." Come on folks, the guy's name is Mad Dog, what do they expect? This one is a no brainer. I have no doubt that these are the kind of words that are the least of the crude, rude and tough as nails lingo used to psyche up our men and women about to risk their lives in a terror war. All Mad Dog was doing was repeating the kind of things that are used to exemplify how tough are military is. The criticism is childish.

"Women are less likely than men to receive recommendations from their doctors for preventive therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin therapy and cardiac rehabilitation to protect them against heart attacks and death, according to a study published in today's issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association." There for the treatment gap.

"Men between the ages of 65 and 75 who are or have been smokers should have a one-time ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Nearly 70 percent of men in this age group have smoked and would benefit from routine screening to check for aneurysms. The recommendation is published in the February 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine." There for the older guys.

Friday, February 4, 2005

Views from Iran

    "Iran was one neighbor who forcefully supported elections on schedule in Iraq – in hopes of seeing the rise of a Shi'ite government working in concert with Iran.

    The Iranian reformist daily Sharq wrote: "Vote counting in Iraq's parliamentary election will soon be completed. Iraqis took part in a general election for the first time in 50 years. The election was held in a healthy atmosphere, despite threats by terrorists to prevent it. The percentage of voters… was much higher than predicted. It is evident that Iraq is not a totally safe place now, but it is also obvious that the rule of a minority over the majority in that country has ended."

    By contrast, in the conservative daily Kayhan, Hussein Saffar-Harandi gave the credit for Iraq's elections to Iran's Islamic regime, and called on the Iraqis to "thank" the Iranians that election day coincided with the rise of the Khomeini regime in 1979. The daily maintained that the 1979 Islamic revolution and Iranian students' takeover of "the American spy nest, [i.e. the U.S. Embassy in Tehran] started a chain of events and processes that led to the Saddam's removal and the launching of the elections." Scroll down there.

"A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Justice Department (news - web sites) cannot seek $280 billion it alleges the tobacco industry earned through fraud, an enormous victory for American cigarette makers." There. I'm a'thinkin that Ashcroft never hired any of those so-called 'Trial Lawyers,' Bush rails against all the time. Maybe if they hired a few to do this job, Americans would be closer to that $280 billion.

"(SNN) [Yesterday], the Senate approved the nomination of Alberto Gonzales in a 60 to 36 vote. Gonzales was quickly sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney before anyone could change their minds. Democrats tended to vote against Gonzales, citing his weak position on civil rights, his record of hiding evidence in court cases and his support of torture. Republicans tend to like Gonzales because of his weak position on civil rights, his record of hiding evidence in court cases and his support of torture. It is not know whether Cheney wore his signature parka and boots." There.

"Less than a day after President Bush declared he was "working with European allies" to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would continue to rebuff European requests to participate directly in offering incentives for Iran to drop what is suspected of being a nuclear arms program." There.
"A peaceful student sit-in turned unruly at Manual High School, and school police used a chemical spray to disperse the crowd Thursday afternoon. Duncan Pat Pritchett, the Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent, said it appeared officers overreacted by using the spray. "Students do have First Amendment rights," he said." There.

"The sophistication of Iraqi insurgents was what stunned members of the 63rd Ordnance Battalion, the only active-duty battalion based at this Army Reserve post in Burlington County."

It's Good to be Free

Today, in a landmark, 62 page opinion, New York City trial judge (called Justice in NY) Doris Ling-Cohan, has ruled that, New York's constitution is violated by denying marriage certificates and the right to marry to same-sex couples. Her remedy? The word spouse shall substitute for the words "husband," "wife," "groom" and "bride," and ordered the City Clerk not to deny a marriage license to any couple based soley on the ground that couple is of the same sex.

The case cannot be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court as it has no jurisdiction. You can bet the Clerk will seek appellate review. No one can tell you what the Court of Appeals of New York will ultimately do, but the facts of the case and the analysis follow the analysis of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in the Goodridge case, which granted the same rights.

Not Good, Unless You're Iran

    "BAGHDAD, Iraq - A new, partial tally of votes Friday from Iraq (news - web sites)'s landmark elections showed a Shiite coalition whose leaders have close ties to Iran rolling up a strong lead over other tickets, including that of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

    The United Iraqi Alliance, which has the endorsement of Iraq's top Shiite clerics, won more than two-thirds of the 3.3 million votes counted so far, the election commission said. Allawi's ticket was running second with more than 579,700 votes." There. Debka's analysis here.

My post, Iran-Iraq, One in the Same?, addresses this nightmare scenerio:

    "Wiping out Saddam may be the final chapter to the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, which ended in a draw. At its roots, that war was waged over dominance of the Persian Gulf region. Iran had been alienated from the West (hostage crisis and the Shah being ousted), and it became a target of Saddam Hussein. The Iranian leadership, delivered by a Shi'ite Islamic revolution, sought to defeat Saddam Hussein, a secular leader, and export their revolution to Iraq bringing the Shi'ite majority in Iraq into power. Bush delivered to Iran, what Iran could not do itself. Now the race is on for what ideology will command the allegiance of Iraqis: Democracy or Islamism, Shi'ite style."

Flight Risk

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday he has not decided whether to attend an international security conference next week in Germany, where he might be subject to arrest on a war crimes complaint." There.

He should stand and defend, not run and hide. What's he afraid of? Millions voted in Iraq knowing they could be killed for it, yet they stood their ground. So should Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Heh, and some call Europeans cowards.