From the category archives:

Rest of the world

More than ten years after the BBC aired a devastating report about North Korean concentration camps, mass killings, torture, poison gas chambers and other horrific atrocities, the United Nations has finally come around to the view that yes, maybe, there were some crimes against humanity going on in the world’s least free nation:

“Testimony was given … in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried … It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” he said.

The world stood by and watched this all happen. We knew about it. We talked about it. We reported it. But in our broken moral compass of the 21st century, “Never Again” apparently means “Never Again.. except when China is on the Security Council and doesn’t want us looking too closely at its North Korean ally.”

This quote by an unnamed UN official has got to rank up there among the world’s most ironic quotes in all of history:

“We’ve collected all the testimony and can’t just stop and wait 10 years.”

Why not? Isn’t that what we’ve done already?


Update: Venezuelan election authorities have awarded Hugo Chavez the victory, with 54% of the vote, versus 44% for Capriles — a suspiciously high margin of victory. Sadly, it looks like the nightmare in Venezuela will continue.

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Venezuelans went to the polls today in an historic election that, for the first time in 14 years, provided some hope that the country would extract itself from the iron rule of Hugo Chavez.

The results are being watched worldwide. Venezuela is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and the Chavez regime has firmly allied itself with Cuba, Iran, Bolivia and against the USA. Obviously there are wider geo-political implications here.

And the world’s Jewish community is watching closely too. As Ben Cohen writes in Ha’aretz, Chavez’s opponent, Henrique Capriles, is a Catholic with Jewish lineage and a descendent of Holocaust survivors, and the antisemitism card was widely used by the Chavez camp during the election campaign:

Chavez’s strategy in dealing with the Capriles campaign has avoided actual policy debate. He has focused instead on demonizing his opponent as, variously, an “imperialist,” a “capitalist,” a “little bourgeois,” and – inevitably, given Capriles’ Jewish origins and Chavez’s historic willingness to deploy anti-Semitism for political purposes – a “Zionist.”

These attacks have highlighted the vulnerability of the Venezuelan Jewish community, whose numbers have declined from 30,000 – before Chavez came to power – to just 9,000 now. As a September study by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted, “recent years have witnessed a rise in anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.”

This election is about all Venezuelans, not just the small and besieged Jewish community, of course. People reportedly lined up for hours across the country, and transplanted citizens cast their ballots from around the world. The turnout is being reported at over 70%. And while some early exit polls are predicting a narrow Caprile victory, it’s bound to be close — raising questions about whether Chavez will respect the result in the event of a loss.


North Korean “Dear Leader” reported dead


News wires are reporting the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il at the age of 70. The “Dear Leader” of the People’s Democratic Republic of Death Camps can count, among his accomplishments, mass starvation, imprisonment in horrific gulags, and systematic murder in gas chambers of his own people, bringing nuclear weapons to his country, [...]

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Gadhafi confirmed dead


Libya’s long-standing dictator is no more: Muammar el-Gadhafi is confirmed killed after being captured and arrested by revolutionary forces: Gadhafi was captured alive and unharmed as troops from the National Transitional Council overran his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, Jibril said. But a gunbattle erupted between transitional council fighters and Gadhafi’s supporters as his captors [...]

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Did French vegans kill their baby?


A French couple has been charged in the death of their 11-month old baby, after allegedly feeding her an insufficient vegan diet and refusing to treat her illnesses, instead using “natural” (aka useless) remedies: The couple, Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou, are strict vegans who chose to feed their daughter, Louise, no solid food, giving [...]

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Qaddafi changes the game


The UN Security Council has approved military action in Libya. Now the question remains: who will follow through? So far, all of the uprisings across the Arab world have been domestic matters, deliberately so. By upping the ante against his own citizens to the point where the world had no choice but to intervene, Qaddafi [...]

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Antisemitism is now a side-effect of drunkedness?


Warning to those of you who like a few glasses of wine with your meal: Apparently, virulent antisemitic ranting is now a side-effect of alcohol consumption. First, Mel Gibson. Now John Galliano: The French fashion house Christian Dior said Tuesday that it had started procedures to dismiss its chief designer, John Galliano, following accusations that [...]

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Oh yeah, cause that always turns out well


If there’s such a thing as a recipe for disaster, this is it: A friend and former professor of a California man whose yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates said that Scott Adam wanted to combine his love of adventure with his faith by spreading Bibles around the world. Religious fanaticism and recklessness… that’s sure [...]

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South Sudanese vote for independence


The results are in: By an overwhelming majority of 99%, South Sudan has voted to split from the North and form its own country. When/if statehood is officially declared in July, the folks over at Sporcle are going to have a busy day. Meanwhile in Darfur (yeah, remember Darfur?), fighting has been escalating once again, [...]

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Quote of the day


“The United Nations is a wonderful idea in principle, except for the little problem of giving barbarians a vote.” That’s courtesy of PZ Myers, in a blog post WTFing the UN’s move to remove sexual orientation from a resolution that protects people from being summarily executed. In other words, according to the UN, it’s okay [...]

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