Archive for International Politics

Hitchens on Humanitarian Intervention

Debates and discussions about humanitarian intervention tend (for good reasons) to be about American intervention. They also tend to share the assumption that the United States can afford, or at any rate has the power, to take or leave the option to get involved. On some occasions, there may seem to be overwhelming moral grounds to quit the sidelines and intervene. On others, the imperatives are less clear-cut. In all instances, nothing exceptional should be contemplated unless it has at least some congruence with the national interest. This interest can be interpreted widely: Is it not to the United States’ advantage that, say, the charter of the United Nations be generally respected? Or the notion can be interpreted narrowly: If the United States had intervened in 1994 in the Francophone central African context of the genocide in Rwanda, then where would it not be asked to intervene?

Full piece at the Foreign Affairs blog, here.


Obama Accepts

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

No Shit? Creationist in GOP VP Slot!

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and GOP VP Nominee

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and GOP VP Nominee

Pro-life* (i.e. Anti-woman), Anti-Gay rights (i.e. Anti-human rights), Pro-drilling, Creationist whackjob, Sarah Palin** has been picked by John McCain (he of the temper) to be his VP running mate on the GOP 2008 ticket. Please Please Please let Obama win – this is the kind of moron that sets the development of the human race back 200 years.

*Why are GOP-ers so concerned for the rights of the unborn, then once you’re born – you’re on your own? Pre-natal, great. Pre-school, fuck you!

**No relation to Michael, I imagine – far too humourless by the looks of it.

Child Rape in Afghanistan

The Afghan’s are seeing a surge in sexual violence towards children according to this report in Time Magazine

It is not uncommon for criminals to bribe their way out of prison in Afghanistan. But in the north, where warlords still command private militias and enrich their armies by running lucrative smuggling routes, impunity is rife. Police often refuse to register cases against well-known criminals, for fear of retaliation and more often because they are on the take. When Amruddin’s 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped in Sar-i-pul province last year, he had to pay for the local police officer’s fuel in order to get the officer to visit the café where she had last been seen. The officer was no help. When Amruddin — who, like most poor farmers in Afghanistan, only has one name — finally found his daughter a week later, she identified the police officer as one of her eight rapists. Three other suspects worked for the village strongman. When their case came to the local prosecutor, he dismissed it, saying there wasn’t enough evidence. More likely, says Amruddin, there wasn’t enough of a bribe. Amruddin says that in order to raise enough money for all the necessary bribes, he sold his two other daughters, ages 9 and 11, for $5,000. “I had to sell them in order to pursue this case,” he says. “What else can I do? I am not a pimp, a coward, to let these men get away with what they did. I will sell all of my children if that is what it takes to get justice.”

Reasons to move to Sweden #694

The Swedish government have now followed through on plans to clamp down hard on the teaching of religious education in its Schools. It has now changed the law to ensure that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not taught at all and that proselytizing for any particular faith in RE classes has now become illegal. They have not gone as far as the Minister for Integration had planned, which was to ban outright “Faith Schools” – but this is still a good victory for sense. Now, if only we could get good old USA to look at this legislation!



Edger presents hard-hitting and reasoned news, views, and event promotion on issues pertaining to secularism, atheism, science, humanism, and the cosmos, and actively promotes and celebrates international freethought activism. Written in a youthful tone, but mature in content, Edger is sure to be a driving force in the new intellectual enlightenment.


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Congratulations on your acceptance to the International School of Highly Emotive Knee-Jerk Reactionary Hissy Fits and welcome to your first seminar, Criticizing Atheism 101! Today we will be talking about the most successful, tried-and-occasionally-true techniques for criticizing the “New Atheism” as deployed by such renowned reactionary hissy fit-throwers as David Berlinski, Scott Hahn, Alistair McGrath, and others! All of the important information for this course has been compiled below into a list of seven key points, which can easily be adapted for any critic of atheism to use in his or her particular tempter tantrum…


He Kexin

14 Years old? Abso-bloody-lutely.

More Olympic fakery, eh? Just gets better and better. They lied to get the games and now they have them they cheat to win.

Apparently the IOC are on the case. Looking forward to the whitewash. Political pressure and all that.

Olympic News

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, rips Jacques Rogge and new hole.

Jacques Rogge is so bought, so compromised, the president of the IOC doesn’t have the courage to criticize China for telling a decade of lies to land itself these Olympic Games.

All the promises made to get these Games — on Tibet, Darfur, pollution, worker safety, freedom of expression, dissident rights — turned out to be phony, perhaps as phony as the Chinese gymnasts’ birthdates Rogge was way too slow to investigate.

One of the most powerful men in sports turned the world away from his complicity. Instead, he has flexed his muscles by unloading on a powerless sprinter from a small island nation.

Rogge’s ripping of Usain Bolt’s supposed showboating in two of the most electrifying gold-medal performances of these Games has to be one of the most ill-timed and gutless acts in the modern history of the Olympics

Brilliant stuff. Do read the rest.

Activists Get 10 Day Jail Sentences

An update to this post of mine. It appears from reports that the activists in question have been given a ten day administrative detention by Chinese Police.


A Tibetan nun named Sonam Yungzom is reported to have been shot while shouting slogans in Kardze town, eastern Tibet (now part of Sichuan province) on August 10th. One source says she yelled out: “There are no human rights in China, there is brutal oppression in Tibet, still the Olympics go on in China.” She was hit by five to six bullets and then her body was thrown in a vehicle and taken away.


And these images are from Boing Boing:

Nice to see our PM has been sucking up to the Chinese Government:

“The 2008 Beijing Olympics have set a new standard for the Olympic Games, which we in London in 2012 will seek to follow,” he said.


Re-education through Labour (Chinese Style)

Wu Dianyuan & Wang Xiuying

Wu Dianyuan & Wang Xiuying

The two women, both in their late 70s, have never spoken out against China’s authoritarian government. Both walk with the help of a cane, and Ms. Wang is blind in one eye. Their grievance, receiving insufficient compensation when their homes were seized for redevelopment, is perhaps the most common complaint among Chinese displaced during the country’s long streak of fast economic growth.

But the Beijing police still sentenced the two women to an extrajudicial term of “re-education through labor” this week for applying to hold a legal protest in a designated area in Beijing, where officials promised that Chinese could hold demonstrations during the Olympic Games.

They became the most recent examples of people punished for submitting applications to protest. A few would-be demonstrators have simply disappeared, at least for the duration of the Games, squelching already diminished hopes that the influx of foreigners and the prestige of holding the Games would push China’s leaders to relax their tight grip on political expression.

“Can you imagine two old ladies in their 70s being re-educated through labor?” asked Li Xuehui, Ms. Wu’s son, who said the police told the two women that their sentence might remain in suspension if they stayed at home and stopped asking for permission to protest.

From the New York Times.

What complete Bastards. This is the real face of the Olympics – but with all the flag-waving, fireworks and pretty boys & (fake!)girls, you lot seem to have forgotten about it.

MCB Backtracks on Progressive Marriage Contract

Ed Husain in today’s Guardian.

When I met Amina she was still in love with this man but her father insisted she marry her cousin from Pakistan, who happened, rather conveniently, to be visiting England. Her father also had a heart condition and used his illness to emotionally blackmail her. Eventually Amina gave way. She sacrificed love to south Asian culture and married Mr Pakistan.

White, liberal eyes reading this article will be astounded to know these things happen in Britain. I am sorry, but they do. And it gets worse.

Amina was repeatedly raped by Mr Pakistan, but her mother told her that a Muslim man has such rights over his wife, and in Islam there is no such thing as marital rape.

Pro-Tibet Protest

Five pro-Tibet activists have been arrested in China for unfurling a light banner saying “Free Tibet” in both Chinese and English. This happened outside Beijing’s Olympic Park complex. As yet the whereabouts of the activists is unknown.

A little more information, here.

Via Boing Boing

UPDATE: Alive in Baghdad creator, Brian Conley is one of those detained, along with his friend Jeffrey Rae. Three other bloggers and activists, Jeff Goldin, Michael Liss, and Tom Grant, have also been missing since Tuesday morning. Conley, 28, Rae, 28, Goldin, 40, Liss, 35, Grant, 39 are all American citizens.

Bill Donohue: Fuckwit

After the Pharyngula debacle (more here) involving Catholic League President, all-round war mongering, fuck the poor, uber-conservative Bill Donohue – it seems Billy Boy now has someone else in his sights.

The latest missive from Chez Medieval is to demand that the Democratic Party should revoke Press credentials from “offensive” bloggers.  The wonderfully named Bitch PhD. says that, even as a very “crappy” Catholic she finds these items offensive.  Dependably idiotic Bill, has leapt straight on the bandwagon (going in the wrong direction) and criticised the blogger for daring to say that these “toys” are more offensive than the “desecration” of the Eucharist by PZ Myers – and that she has a picture of a child on her blog flipping someone the bird – a somewhat naughty, but nonetheless hilarious image, I might add.  Of course, there is still some ire left for the homosexuals as well.  Towleroad describes itself as ‘A Site with Homosexual Tendencies.’ Accordingly, it shows men in jock straps and underwear.  Whoppee fucking shit. First amendment Bill, first amendment.

Bill, you complete arse, I ‘ve said it before and I’ll say it again – and I’ll keep saying it – in a civil society, no one has the right to complain about being offended. Being offended, offendable and offensive is one of the things that sets us free. Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear. Ah, now, I see the problem – you don’t like that do you Billy? Freedom is a VERY. BAD. THING. Free people might just stop believing in the biggest bullshit tale ever sold to mankind – Religion. And we wouldn’t want that would we. Must advance the cause, eh Billy? Here’s a final thought Billy: Why don’t you fuck off and take your medieval misogynist racist homophobic sky-fairy tales with you. Honestly, do us a favour and disappear up your own arse.

Pro-Tibet Rally

Apparently, it’s been ruffling a few feathers. Tough Shit.

On China’s Poor


The bottom line is that the Olympics are not very important to the rural poor, who are unenthused by the prospect of glory for a country that has not done well by them. It’s telling that when recent polls have been done of Chinese satisfaction with their current life, the samples almost never include rural people. Rural Chinese women have one of the highest suicide rates in the world, while other polls of rural areas show high rates of anger at the high taxes and fees levied on rural people, essentially so that local officials can gorge themselves. “We don’t see the point of these Games,” one peasants’ activist told me last year, just after the police had thrown her out of her temporary house for the umpteenth time to stop her from protesting more. “We thought it might be good but it doesn’t help us”–sentiments echoed by nearly every other rural activist I’ve spoken with.

Some more on Mahmoud Darwish

Mourid Barghouti on Mahmoud Darwish in the Guardian

The story of the Palestinian people since their nakba is a story of unfulfilled desires: the desire for normal life, for justice, for national independence and freedom, but even Mahmoud had to come to this cheerless conclusion: “I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanise, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe. But now I think that poetry changes only the poet.”

And Sinan Antoon in the Al-Ahram Weekly (online)

In the latter phase of his work Darwish was free to roam all themes no matter how mundane or metaphysical. The anchored and fixed I of his early years was now scattered in pronouns as the self became a site severed by time and space and open to all its others, in the widest sense. Darwish and his work contained multitudes and vast horizons, at the heart of which was Palestine in and of itself, but also Palestine as a metaphor for love, exile, and the injustice and pain of our contemporary moment.

CNN Morons

Did this question actually need asking? Absolute fucking morons.

Say No to Terrorism

62,809,427 People can’t be wrong. Sign here.

Urgent Appeal: Iran

Stop the execution of teacher unionist Farzad Kamangar.

Farzad Kamangar, a 33-year old teacher and former trade unionist from the Kurdistan Province of Iran, is at risk of execution following the ruling issued at an unfair trial.

In recent weeks, EI has written to the Iranian Government to request a fair trial for Farzad Kamangar and other union activists who are under arrest. In spite of joint efforts from various national and international organisations to have death sentence of Farzad Kamangar communted, it was upheld by the Supreme Court on 11 July 2008. In addition, Iranian trade union colleagues and human rights activists who show solidarity with Farzad are being subjected to pervasive intimidation by the Iranian authorities.

The arrest, detention and condemnation of trade unionists because of their human and trade union activities are not only serious violations of trade union rights, but also create an atmosphere of fear prejudicial to trade union development in Iran.

What can you do….

Write to the Iranian authorities. You are invited to appeal the Iranian government to:

review the case of Farzad Kamangar and to give further clarification about the charges against him and other teacher trade unionists currently detained;

commute Farzad’s death sentence;

desist from the use of torture;

allow Farzad Kamangar to have unimpeded contact with his family and his lawyer;

stop the harassment against the relatives of Farzad Kamangar and members of the Committee to Stop Farzad Kamangar’s Death Sentence;

be open for a peaceful dialogue regarding the professional concerns of teachers in Iran.

Please send appeals to:

President Islamic Republic of Iran
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran 13168-43311
Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail: dr-ahmadinejad {at} president {dot} ir

Chief of State
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street,
Islamic Republic of Iran
E-Mail: info {at} leader {dot}ir / Fax: +98-21 649 5880 (unreliable)

Minister of Justice
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Office of the Head of Justice
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., South of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 13168-14737
Islamic Republic of Iran
E-Mail: info {at} dadgostary-tehran {dot} ir / Fax: +98-21 879 6671/640 4018 or 4019 (unreliable)

Please also copy your letter to the Iranian embassy in your country (in some countries, like the USA, the Embassy of Pakistan looks after the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran), as well as to EI (headoffice {at} ei-ie {dot} org or fax +32 2 224 0606)

You can also display a banner on your website, details are given at the link above.

Seamus Milne: Why?

He’s at it again, the Stalinist idiot. Why does the (once respectable) Guardian insist on publishing this boilerplate claptrap. It really is beyond me.

The good folks at Harry’s Place have him in their targets…

Update2:A good summary of events and implications at Stratfor

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