Archive for the ‘Rest of the world’ Category
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.
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, and being ranked dead last in the freedom index year after year.
We do not rejoice at death. But for all of the nonsensical Godwin’s Law invocation out there, Kim Jong-Il is one of the few who can be aptly compared to Hitler or Stalin without it seeming the least bit like hyperbole. If anything, the horrors of his rule are under-reported, because of how sealed off North Korea is from the world.
And while Kim Jong-un, his successor and son, appears to be cut from the same cloth, and North Korea’s dark days show no sign of ending anytime soon, I don’t think there’s anyone who could possibly argue that the world has suffered a loss with his passing.
The first person who writes a flowery obituary for this despot will make me want to puke. May he rot in hell.
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 attempted to load him into a vehicle, Jibril said, leaving Gadhafi with a wound to his right arm.
More shooting erupted as the vehicle drove away, and Gadhafi — who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years before rebel forces overthrew him in August — was hit in the head, Jibril said, Gadhafi died moments before arriving at a hospital in Misrata, Jibril said, citing the city’s coroner.
This is a symbolic milestone in Libya for those who were seeking an end to Gadhafi’s brutal regime.
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 her only breast milk.
After Louise died in March 2008, a post-mortem exam showed the child weighed just 5.7 kg (12.5 pounds) when she should have weighed about 8 kg (17.5 lbs).
The cause of death was listed as a pneumonia-related illness. But the autopsy also revealed the child suffered from a severe deficiency of vitamins A and B12, which may have left her susceptible to infection.
The vitamin B12 deficiency could be linked to the mother’s eating habits, since the only source of the vitamin is meat, dairy or vitamin supplements.
The couple reportedly did not follow their doctor’s advice to take their daughter to hospital when they went for her nine-month checkup and found she was suffering from bronchitis and was losing weight.
The court has heard that the parents chose instead to treat her with cabbage poultices, mustard, camphor and clay.
Good. They should pay for what they did to their innocent child. If this case sets a precedent and sparks a debate on the issue, even better.
If adults want to be stupid, fine. It pisses me off but it’s their decision. But don’t take your stupidity out on your kids – you’ve already saddled them with your genes; no need to make it worse.
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 has internationalized this crisis, and don’t think that he hasn’t calculated that into his plans. After all, every dictator needs some misdirection in the form of a foreign imperialist invader in the form of the United States or one of its “little Satan” allies. This could shift the whole tide and tone of this movement.
Obama, to his credit, doesn’t sound so eager to willingly take up that role. Action is needed in Libya, but Obama recognizes that there’s an optics problem if the US were to lead the charge. France and the UK sound tepidly on board, but support from elsewhere may be more moral than physical.
And with world attention still focused on Japan, everything else – Libya included – is taking a back seat. It’s hard to say who that benefits right now.
Of course, the question that nobody’s asking just yet is, what’s next? What happens after Qaddafi? What happens when any opposition movement gets tainted by the notion of being propped up by the Europeans or the Americans? Will whoever sends in troops be able to anticipate an exit date?
Stay tuned. This story isn’t getting any smaller.
Update: Canada is officially involved.
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 Mr. Galliano made anti-Semitic outbursts at a Paris bar.
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The video, posted on the Web site of the British tabloid The Sun, appears to show Mr. Galliano taunting other patrons at the bar, La Perle, declaring in a slurred voice that “I love Hitler” and that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.” It was unclear when the video was recorded.
Of course, the notion that these outbursts were caused by drunkedness is laughable. Being drunk makes you lose your filters; it doesn’t turn you into a racist.
I’m uncomfortable with hate speech laws in general, and even though Galliano was clearly off his rocker on the offensive scale, the criminal charges against him make me squirm. But Dior firing him seems like an eminently sensible decision from a business standpoint, especially with spokesperson and Oscar-winner Natalie Portman speaking out against him. And such opinions are sadly all-too-common in France, which does has these laws on the books for a reason. I highly doubt that “I was drunk” will hold up as an excuse in court.
Then again, maybe he should speak to Mel Gibson’s lawyer for some coaching.
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 to turn out well. I’m not saying he deseved to get hijacked or anything. But then, the Darwin Awards exist for a reason, don’t they?
Update: It now appears that Adam and his three compatriots have been killed by the pirates. Snarkiness aside, of course I would never wish that sort of fate on anyone. And it underscores the urgent need to do something about the situation in Somalia, which hasn’t had a functioning government since 1991, and whose chaotic anarchy has given rise to the piracy industry in the first place.
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, while the world ignores it and focuses on South Sudan.
“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 to kill gay people for no reason. Which, obviously, must make perfect sense to the vast majority of backwards, human rights-abusing, Israel-bashing, hyopcritical members of the corrupt-to-irrelevance UN. Anyone still taking them seriously at this point has got to be smoking something strong.