Friday, May 29, 2009
The Power of Culture vs. The Culture of Power
For the second time, the Israeli Army has tried to shut down the Palestine Festival of Literature, a "traveling cultural roadshow" touring the West Bank with internationally known Palestinian and European writers. After armed forces closed down opening night in East Jerusalem's Palestinian National Theater, the French came in to host the events; last night, the British did. "Talking about what literature is and what it means in a fraught political situation is the most honest thing we can do," said British writer Jeremy Harding. "They didn't like that."
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Still Criminally Clueless After All These Years, And Deaths
It's infuriating enough to see Bush back in the news , making glib speeches, a free man. Poor guy, he misses flying on Air Force One. But to hear him defend torture – "the information we got saved lives" – and talk of deriving solace from tearful meetings with the families of soldiers whose pointless deaths he caused – "it was very uplifting" – and cite "the fog of war" that these placid days he thinks about "at times" – it's too much. Which is worse: the crimes, or the obliviousness of them? It's a wonder he can sleep at night. And the ultimate injustice.
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Thursday, May 28, 2009
Gaza Is Alive
A report from Gaza, still and all vibrant. "It is not that the world's blockade of Gaza is not evident....But the essential spirit of the place seems unaltered by recent events. In fact, people tell you that they insist on being engaged with life so as to be able to imagine a different future than what is right in front of them."
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Abuse Photos
Suggesting it might appeal to the Supreme Court, the Obama administration asked a federal appeals court Thursday to stop the release of detainee abuse photos, citing redacted statements by two generals arguing they would incite violence in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The ACLU said the filing offered "no new arguments." "It's troubling to us that not only is the government withholding the photographs, but it's also withholding its arguments for withholding the photographs," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh.
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Very Weird, Or Maybe Not
Okay, I was trying to write something about the new ad by anti-gay lunatics NOM arguing their rights will no longer matter when gay people can get married, but when I tried to find them I got the homepage for the KKK: "Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America!" Where to begin?
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One Sure Way to Find Out
Today both the Pentagon and White House denied yesterday's report in the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph that photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib include what U.S. Army Major Antonio Taguba called "torture, abuse, rape and every indecency." So much tiptoeing around the pictures brings us no closer to the truth; seeing them would.
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When God's Justice Is Just Not Enough
At a sentencing hearing in Kentucky for Steven Dale Green – the former U.S. soldier convicted of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, killing her parents and six-year-old sister, and burning them all in their home – the relatives of Abeer al-Janabi sobbed, wailed and cursed Green as "a stigma on the United States." Despite Green's apology and claim he will face "God's justice" in prison, the family echoed many Iraqis' belief that Green should die for his crimes. “We do not accept your apology at all,” said Mahdi Al-Janabi.
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Not In Our Name
U.K. musicians from bands including Blur and Pink Floyd have launched a campaign demanding the far-right British National Party stop raising money by using their music on compilation CDs with titles like "Proud Heritage" and "Rule Britannia." The artists object to the BNP's "politics and morals." Currently, says Nigel McCune of the Musicians' Union, activist Billy Bragg could find his songs used "for something he has spent his entire musical life campaigning against."
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The Photos, The Stories, The Hard Truths
It must be said: the new reports on rape and sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib are stomach-churning. Truncheons, wire, utter degradation. The eyes turn away, the mind shuts down. But if we let it, we are lost. Elizabeth Cady Stanton : "Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon."
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Right And Cost-Cutting
Adding to the multiple reasons for universal health care – it's woefully needed, it's the right thing to do – is a report showing the costs of an estimated $116 billion in health care for the uninsured is borne, not just by them and government programs, but by higher premiums for those with insurance. Last year, that jump exceeded $1,000 per family.
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