05 November 2012

Outside the Surreality Bubble

People all around the world watch the circus of U.S. elections unfold with the understanding that the presidency of the United States affects their lives. Decisions about war and peace, whether or not to address climate change, crafting trade policies and ensuring the stability of financial institutions on the part of the “leader of the free world” reach far beyond the borders of the United States of America. But it is not a one-way relationship: conditions and events in the rest of the world also affect the lives of U.S. citizens. This is not just a result of recent “globalization.” It has long been a reality that has simply been overlooked by a contentedly self-absorbed society.

04 October 2012

Fundamentalism is the Enemy of Peace and Freedom

Well, Pam Geller has finally gained the attention she so very much desires with the billboards posted by New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, marketing fear of Islamic jihad and the dehumanization of all Muslims.

One billboard redefines Islamophobia as “Islamorealism” using an anonymous number of alleged “deadly Islamic attacks,” while others advocate support of the “civilized man” in the war against the “savage.” They are disturbing on multiple levels, beginning with the idea that any and all speech, even when it is overtly propagandistic, deeply offensive, and highly inflammatory, is sacred.

As a non-Muslim who supports the rights of the Palestinians to personhood and statehood, I find the existence of the billboards to be far more disconcerting than the ridiculous YouTube video [Innocence of Muslims] because Pam Geller actually took her case to court and won the right to post her inflammatory messages after the MTA had refused them.

16 September 2012

Islamophobia: Hate Destroys the Hater

All over the Muslim world, people are angry.

They have every right to express their anger

 as long as it is done nonviolently toward both persons and property and within the laws of the land

...just as the maker of a trailer of the fake movie has the First-Amendment right to express his opinion

 as long as it is not fraudulently harmful or willfully offensive within the limits of freedom of speech in the United States.

The laws in the United States strongly protect the freedom of speech

– to the point of the absurdity that money has been deemed a form of speech by the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

However, there are limits to freedom of speech that are based on the “harm principle” and the “offense principle,” i.e. limits on pornography, hate speech, and crying “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

In U.S. law, there is legal precedence for prohibiting “fighting words,” which cause those hearing the words to react with a “breach of the peace.” A stampede in a theater would qualify for that, as would an attack on an embassy, it would seem to me.

02 September 2012

Can President Santos Bring Peace to Colombia? or, Let the Wars be of Words

This week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that his government has begun engaging in peace talks with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolutionarias de Colombia (FARC). In a nationally televised speech on Monday, 27 August, he acknowledged that "exploratory talks" had been taking place since February in Cuba, and now, the stage is set for dialogue to be formally launched in Oslo in October that will continue in Havana. Reporting on Colombian media reports, Mercopress states:

The agenda of the dialogue will include issues such as “integral agrarian development policy”, “political participation”, “end of the conflict”, “solution to the problem of illicit drugs”, “victims” and “implementation, verification and ratification” of the agreement.

19 August 2012

Correa and Assange: Contradictions and Convolution as Antiheroes Align

Ah, the poignant poetry, the rich wrinkling, the incising irony, the heartbreaking hypocrisy, the contradictory clusterfuckery, the alluring alliteration!

Correa and Assange: a match made in someplace decidedly unheavenly, a place where hormones betray heroes and authoritarians rally righteously upon their duplicitous daises.

On their blog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) begins their analysis of this bizarre matchup like so:

08 August 2012

Ode To Gore Vidal: On The Archetypal Hero

A hero’s passing is one of life’s most difficult coincidences. These are people who are not everyday participants in one’s life – not in the same way that friends and family might be. Their reasons for being heroes, of course, will outlast their physical being far into the future, and this part of them might be a daily presence – comforting, inspiring, reminding us of what greatness looks like. But the passing of their person, or rather, the news of their passing, strikes a sustained and resonating tone, within the chamber of the heart, that sings of the mortality of more than life; it is the transience of ideas, of ways of perceiving, of bygone eras. The ending of someone who was bigger than life, by virtue of their effects on so many other lives, is calamitous to the collective soul of humanity.

21 May 2012

Egyptian Elections and Islamophobia

Egyptians will be going to the polls for the long-anticipated presidential elections on 23-24 May, with a runoff for the top two contenders scheduled for 16-17 June if no one achieves more than 50% of the vote. Some results are already coming in from Egyptian citizens living overseas. Partial results released on Friday, 18 May give the lead, with 26%, to Independent candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a physician and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) who was noted for his advocacy of opening the organization up to more tolerance and diversity. In second place, so far, with 20% is Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister and ex-Secretary General of the League of Arab States who is running as a secularist. The MB’s conservative Islamist candidate, Mohamed Morsi, representing their Freedom and Justice Party, is in third place with these voters.

06 May 2012

Keeping Tabs on the Situation in Afghanistan (because somebody oughta be doing it)

Kabul, Afghanistan (image via Wikipedia)
As reported by the The New York Times on 26 April 2012,
Acting at the behest of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, senior American officials told a California congressman last weekend that he was not welcome in Afghanistan because of concerns that his sharp criticism of Mr. Karzai would undermine Washington’s efforts to rebuild trust with the government and restart preliminary peace talks with the Taliban.

The congressman, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, has made little secret of his desire to alter the Obama administration’s policies there radically. He has joined Afghan opposition leaders and former warlords in calling for a revamp of the Afghan government into a decentralized, federal state.
Here’s the kicker: 
Mr. Rohrabacher contends his approach would create a more stable Afghanistan...

15 April 2012

Global Connections: Guinea-Bissau

The Sixth Summit of the Americas is currently being held in Cartagena, Colombia (after a bit of alleged pre-event partying that caused 11 U.S. secret service and five U. S. military personnel who were linked to the use of prostitutes to be sent home), and one of the most attention-grabbing issues, if not on the official agenda, is a serious discussion about changing the way that the War on Drugs is being fought, including debate about some level of decriminalization. For some great analysis, check out the excellent series that InSight Crime has presented on this proverbial Gorilla in the Room.

06 April 2012

Adrift in a Sea of Military Exportation

Rachel Maddow, via Wikipedia

In my previous post, I discovered the strange but true nature of the military mindset, that dreamy, quixotic, incurable optimism that has been perceived and discussed by such realists as Rory Stewart and Howard Zinn. What an amazing set of realizations – that it is members of the armed forces who are regularly deluding themselves about what can and cannot be, with Rory Stewart focusing on over-ambition and the failure-is-not-an-option determination, while Howard Zinn’s take pinpoints the inevitable overconfidence in the military’s ability to tame chaos and unpredictability.

18 March 2012

The Answer for Afghanistan

Gentle Giant - Rory Stewart
Well, how is one to be hopeful about Afghanistan now, after these horrific incidences – the accidental Koran burning, and then the insanity unleashed in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar Province on a dark, disastrous night last week, supposedly by an angry, possibly drunken soldier? Sixteen innocent civilians, mostly women and children killed – this goes beyond cultural insensitivity. It reveals the cancerous mass that has taken hold of the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan like Hugo Chávez’s bald head no longer allowing his secret truth to remain hidden from the public. But, as with cancer itself, the road forward is fraught with fear, the treatment, painful, the future, uncertain.

15 February 2012

The Nuclear Iranian Fear Factor

Astronomical Clock, Prague (image via Wikipedia)

Time, I am convinced, is not a linear dimension. Rather, I believe it is a mysterious force of cyclical motion, propelling events along the nearly imperceptible curve of reality. It is at those moments that stand out for their enduring personal impact that time’s cyclical nature reveals itself. And for me, such a time is when fears of war between the West and Iran are flamed.

29 January 2012

Give Afghanistan Peace a Chance!

Mujahideen crossing in from Pakistan border,
Afghanistan, 1985 (image via Wikipedia)

This is another article slamming the discombobulated way that members of the United States Congress have influence over the nation’s foreign policy (see my last diatribe here), and again, Dana Rohrabacher’s name appears – which means that something untoward is afoot.

10 January 2012

Circle Round the Sun

Harmonia Macrocosmica
As Planet Earth has once again passed the place in its orbit around the Sun that we have chosen to mark as the beginning of a new year, I am very happy to have arrived at a place in my life where I can devote time to this Connectively Speaking blog once again. As I hop back on this path that I had exited for a while just after the Austral Summer Solstice, here in the unforgiving glare of the Mendoza Sun, I am reminded of the invigorating New Year’s Day thunderstorm that I raced against a year ago in the green, green Valdivian forests of Patagonia. I spoke then of hope beginning anew because, through Eduardo Galeano, I had discovered the amazing Swedish writer, Stig Dagerman and was greatly inspired by his “visionary realism,” his concordance with my own ideas of how fear causes human beings to do strange things like accept unverifiable and inaccurate claims as truth and dispel basic respect for other human beings.

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