19 November 2006

Stoned to death for adultery... in 2006

This story is nowhere to be found in the US press... which kind of stuns me, with the Islamophobia in this country.
Una vedova saudita, sei anni dopo la morte del marito, partorisce un figlio. Non essendo sposata, la donna ha "portato avanti una gravidanza illegittima": per la Shariyah islamica si tratta di adulterio.
In short, for you English-only folks: a Saudi widow had a baby, and since she was not married, she must be an adulteress. QED. By Sharia law, the punishment for adultery is death by stoning.
If this shit was happening in Iran, damn sure it would be on the cover of the New York Times. But the Saudis are George Bush's BFF, so it gets the silent treatment?

15 November 2006

"By the light of a burning bridge"

I share some of the feelings of this writer, who permanently emigrated to Venezuela from the US. I am not as convinced as he is that the "Rubicon" has yet been crossed... but I do acknowledge that it could happen quickly.

In their silence and acquiescence Americans have voted –- even if by abstention –- to stand on the shoulders of all drowning peoples in the vain hope that they will somehow be saved from a paradigm which they support and empower by obeying it; by endorsing it with their silence or knowingly impotent protests; by refusing to throw themselves against the gears of the machine. In this world, a protest which is allowed and encouraged, corralled into free-speech areas, and then policed by the ruling government only to be ignored by the media is, by definition, meaningless.

The US is a nation where the “non-negotiable” and unsustainable “American” way of life is propped up by global conflict, out-of-control military spending, massive and unsustainable debt, and an increasingly-aggressive fascist police state. It is a nation where all US citizens who do not resist and disconnect from this paradigm enjoy their ever-diminishing privileges with the guilty knowledge that somewhere else, hopefully in some “other” country, others are paying the price for it.

The world is now my country.

Ugh. I wish I could hurry my FOIA request along somehow.

14 November 2006

"Così la prof ci ha coinvolto nel gioco erotico"


My favourite part of the "tale of the Porno Prof" is where they say the supposedly abused boys 'si sentono un po' gli eroi del paese.'

That's Italia!

13 November 2006

The one-state solution

Something I have been saying and thinking for a while: one state in Israel-Palestine, with rights and protections for all... expressed much better than I ever could

South Africa seen as model for Palestine

By Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American, and the author of "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
November 12, 2006

As I watched the images last week of destruction from the Gaza Strip, where an Israeli shelling attack had killed an entire family, as a Palestinian I could understand the feelings of one survivor who said, "I cannot see a day when we will live in peace with them." But I also know there is no other choice.

When Israel was established, its founders said it would be an exemplary, moral state. For many Jews, it seemed like a miraculous redemption after so much suffering and loss in the Nazi Holocaust.

Palestinians experienced a different reality. Israel became a "Jewish state" in a country that had always been multicultural and multireligious. The expulsion and exclusion of Palestinians from their own homeland has led Israelis and Palestinians into an endless nightmare of mutual non-recognition and bloodshed.

For decades, the conventional wisdom has been that this conflict can only be resolved by partitioning the country into two states. Yet despite enormous political and diplomatic efforts to achieve this, the two peoples remain thoroughly if unhappily intertwined. Israel's project of establishing settler-colonies inside the territories where Palestinians wanted to create a state has rendered separation impossible.

At the same time, Israel finds itself in a conundrum. For the first time since the state was founded, Israeli Jews no longer form an absolute majority in the territory they control. Today there are roughly 5 million Jews and 5 million Palestinians living in the same land. The trends are incontestable. Within a few years, Palestinians will form the clear majority.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recognized in 2003 what this would mean: "We are approaching the point where more and more Palestinians will say, `There is no place for two states,'" in this country, and "`All we want is the right to vote.' The day they get it, we will lose everything." Warning that Israel could not remain both a Jewish state and a democracy if it held on to all of the occupied Palestinian territories, Olmert added, "I shudder to think that liberal Jewish organizations that shouldered the burden of struggle against apartheid, will lead the struggle against us."

Some Israeli extremists, like the new Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, believe this "demographic problem" can be solved by expelling non-Jews. Israel's chosen solution, which it calls "unilateral separation," walls Palestinians into impoverished ghettos Palestinians compare to the townships and Bantustans set up for blacks by the apartheid government of South Africa. The result of this approach, as we see in Gaza, is more hopelessness, resistance and defiance, and sure disaster for both peoples.

The two-state solution remains attractive and comforting in its apparent simplicity and finality. But in reality, it has proved unattainable because neither Palestinians nor Israelis are willing to give up enough of the country that they love. Faced with this impasse, a small but growing group of Israelis and Palestinians are tentatively exploring an old idea long dormant: Why not have a single state in which both peoples enjoy equal rights and protections and religious freedom? Many people dismiss this as utopian dreaming.

Allister Sparks, the legendary editor of the anti-apartheid Rand Daily Mail newspaper, observed that the conflict in South Africa most resembled those in Northern Ireland and Palestine-Israel, because each involved "two ethno-nationalisms" in a seemingly irreconcilable rivalry for the "same piece of territory." If the prospect of "one secular country shared by all" seems "unthinkable" in Palestine-Israel today, then it is possible to appreciate how unlikely such a solution once seemed in South Africa. But "that is what we did," Sparks says, "without any foreign negotiator [and] no handshakes on the White House lawn."

To be sure, Palestinians and Israelis would not simply be able to take the new South Africa as a blueprint. They would have to work out their own distinct constitution, including mechanisms for ethnic communities to have autonomy in matters that concern them, and to guarantee that no one group can dominate another. There would be hard work to heal the terrible wounds of the past. Such a solution offers the chance that Palestine-Israel could become for the first time ever the truly safe home where Israelis and Palestinians can accept each other. It may be an arduous path, but in the current impasse we cannot afford to ignore any ray of light.

04 November 2006

Real child abuse

I am under the effects of some weird chronic fatigue shit. Been feeling beat ever since I had a wicked asthma attack brought on by the Esperanza fire.

For now, I'm going to pass something along a propos of all this "Pastor Ted" drama. I have been increasingly drawn to cranky old Richard Dawkins, whose anti-religious views are far less controversial in Sane Europe than here. Courtesy of the always-impressive Arthur Silber, here's a quote... Dawkins writes:
I am persuaded that the phrase 'child abuse' is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshriven mortal sins in an eternal hell.

In the television documentary Root of All Evil? to which I have already referred, I interviewed a number of religious leaders and was criticized for picking on American extremists rather than respectable mainstreamers like archbishops. It sounds like a fair criticism -- except that, in early 21st-century America, what seems extreme to the outside world is actually mainstream. One of my interviewees who most appalled the British television audience, for example, was Pastor Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs. But, far from being extreme in Bush's America, 'Pastor Ted' is president of the thirty-million-strong National Association of Evangelicals, and he claims to be favoured with a telephone consultation with President Bush every Monday. If I had wanted to interview real extremists by modern American standards, I'd have gone for 'Reconstructionists' whose 'Dominion Theology' openly advocates a Christian theocracy in America.


Another of my television interviewees was Pastor Keenan Roberts, from the same state of Colorado as Pastor Ted. Pastor Roberts's particular brand of nuttiness takes the form of what he calls Hell Houses. A Hell House is a place where children are brought, by their parents or their Christian schools, to be scared witless over what might happen to them after they die. Actors play out fearsome tableaux of particular 'sins' like abortion and homosexuality, with a scarlet-clad devil in gloating attendance. These are a prelude to the piece de resistance, Hell Itself, complete with realistic sulphurous smell of burning brimstone and the agonized screams of the forever damned.

After watching a rehearsal, in which the devil was suitably diabolical in the hammed-up style of a villain of Victorian melodrama, I interviewed Pastor Roberts in the presence of his cast. He told me that the optimum age for a child to visit a Hell House is twelve. This shocked me somewhat, and I asked him whether it would worry him if a twelve-year-old child had nightmares after one of his performances. He replied, presumably honestly:
I would rather for them to understand that Hell is a place that they absolutely do not want to go. I would rather reach them with that message at twelve than to not reach them with that message and have them live a life of sin and to never find the Lord Jesus Christ. And if they end up having nightmares, as a result of experiencing this, I think there's a higher good that would ultimately be achieved and accomplished in their life than simply having nightmares.
I suppose that, if you really and truly believed what Pastor Roberts says he believes, you would feel it right to intimidate children too.

We cannot write off Pastor Roberts as an extremist wingnut. Like Ted Haggard, he is mainstream in today's America.

And I agree with Arthur that calling this child abuse is understating the matter. To bring it full circle... one of the reasons I am going dual is because of my fear of the America these kids will build. More soon...

02 November 2006