Friday, 28 July 2006

Another human rights condemnation? yawn

During my sometimes tedious days at work I frequently check Google news to get up-to-the-minute breaking news on everything that’s going on. The great thing about the site is it goes through publications all over the world and shows you what has been statistically written about the most in various categories. In that way, there’s no editorial filter and you get to see the raw news, with no one deciding what is important and what is not except the pure law of numbers, which thankfully also tends to show what is most important. Fortunately the pool only includes reputable news organizations (aside from the entertainment section) so you’re not getting literally what is most popular but rather what is most published.

One of the most interesting aspects of the site is that you can monitor how different areas of the world are covering the same news event. And one of the more frequent occurrences is that a story will get high-level play everywhere in the world except in the US.

Such was the case today when the UN human rights committee issued its most scathing critique yet on the human rights violations of the United States After a two-day hearing in Geneva last week into US compliance with the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the committee concluded that the United States is in serious violation of the treaty through its extensive secret interrogation and detention program for terror suspects. The document is probably the most critical and serious human rights report ever concluded by the UN about a Western nation.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

US continues support of Lebanon war

The Rome summit on the future of the Middle East has wrapped up, and it was a bit of a fiasco. Condoleezza Rice is trying to sell Arab nations on her theory of “creative chaos,” in which the blood being shed in the middle east is somehow for the greater good. This is a preposterous claim and everyone knows it, including Rice. But it is the only way to buy more time for Israel to achieve it’s objective.

One problem: its objective is impossible.

Israel has set it’s goal as the eradication of Hezbollah. Even in the best circumstances this goal is impossible to meet, and these have not been the best circumstances. Israel has been caught off guard by the ferocity of Hezbollah’s defense, and especially by their ability to fire rockets deep into Israeli territory. Their “surgical strikes” have seemed to be anything but. So far Israel has killed more than 400 Lebanese, of which only 12 are known to have been members of Hezbollah. All the while the group continues to fire rockets into Israel, showing it has barely been scratched.

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Turkey invading Iraq?

As if things in the Middle East weren't bad enough, today it was revealed that Turkey may take a page from the Israeli playbook and invade Northern Iraq, one of the disaster scenarios that was posited before the war began.

The North of Iraq, which is predominantly Kurdish and controlled as an autonomous zone, has been the most stable and nonviolent part of the country since the occupation. This has mainly been because Kurds are sitting back and watching Sunni and Shia Arabs kill each other, hoping that if they wait it out eventually the country will break apart and an independent Kurdestan will be formed.

It would not be in their interest right now to attack American or Iraqi troops (neither of which can be found in great number in the North anyway). But it is in their interest to antagonize Turkey, because many Kurds hope that an independent Kurdestan will also include the Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iran.

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Feeling up the German chancellor

Well as the world waits anxiously to see if the Lebanon crisis will lead to World War III, our president is busy feeling up the German chancellor.

This has got to be the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile. Meeting with leaders of the eight industrialized nations at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Bush strides into the room, make a bee-line for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and proceeds to massage her neck!

Watch the video, it’s hysterical. Merkel looks so creeped out, she at first recoils and makes this uncomfortable face, then she throws her hands back and pushes him off.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

So many hijackings

Last night my coworkers and I had a little office outing to Bryant Park for one of the HBO movie nights. They were showing Bullitt, made in 1968, apparently some kind of milestone in the action movie genre for its groundbreaking car chase. I found myself staring at the screen in bewilderment, wondering why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to this movie, but that’s just me. Action movies, not really my thing.

Anyway at one point in the movie the detective, played by Steve McQueen, has to arrest this guy on an airplane which is about to take off. The control tower tells the plane to return to the loading dock and have the passengers disembark. As they’re leaving the plane McQueen boards and heads toward the criminal. The criminal proceeds to stand up, run to the back of the plane, open the back door, jump out and run out onto the tarmac. McQueen gives pursuit, and the criminal pulls a gun out of his pocket and starts shooting at him. For some reason McQueen seems to have forgotten he has a gun, or chooses not to use it. He proceeds to chase the main through the airport, which seems to be operating normally even though there’s a gun-wielding maniac running around the tarmac.

Now by this point in the movie I was willing to suspend my disbelief. After all the whole thing made absolutely no sense. But this seemed ludicrous. How did he get on the plane with a gun? How was he able to open the back hatch? Why isn’t the airport being evacuated? Why are planes still taking off??