Thursday, February 24, 2005

Disparus en Irak - MIA in Iraq

Soutenez Florence Aubenas et Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi, Journaliste et traducteur de Liberation disparus en Irak.
Support Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi, Journalist and translator for Liberation, who dispeared in Iraq.

Please let someone know if you have information.
Priere informer quelqu'un si vous avez une quelconque information.

Dumb Laws of the United States

A bit of fun never hurts anyone. Here are the crazy laws still on the books in the United States.

From Artificial Blog:
Dumb Laws of the United States

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Study: Unlikely lobsters feel pain in boiling water - Feb 15, 2005 - Study: Unlikely lobsters�feel pain in boiling water - Feb 15, 2005

"Anyone who knows me remotely well, knows that I make it a point to be as cosmopolitan as it is humanly possible. But sometimes, in my time here in the US, there are things that just makes me laugh... in desperate agony. This is one of them. With all the drama and pain that goes on, in the planet - and in Africa and the Middle East in paricular, most of it a result (intended or not) of US and Western policies, the article above was on of THE MOST EMAILED articles on CNN!!!! Now, don't get me wrong, I feel for the animal world (though it does not stop me from eating them). But aren't people's priorities in the very very very wrong places? Maybe it's just me, but I believe a genocide in Darfur, the Tsunami, the War in Comgo, or the death of Rafiq Hariri are a bit more important... Call me crazy!"

Saturday, February 12, 2005

To My Republican Friends

Some Republicans have complained that Democrats are being sore losers, by calling them ignorant for their conservative beliefs. Our republican friends claim that we lost because we were out of touch with America's mainstream, and that our so called refusal to embrace God, and we couldn't stomach the loss, so we turn our anger gratuitously on them, launching a savage attack on their right to strongly hold their beliefs. Though I could definitely make an argument for Republicans being "sore winners" some times, all in all, I agree: ideally, we should not call people ignorant because of their beliefs - religious or otherwise, and I genuinely and sincerely try not to.

That said, as a black person, when people mistreat me in a restaurant because of my race, when I am refused the entrance of country clubs because of my race, when I can't date the woman I love because of my race, and an old white conservative tells me there is no more racism, that it's all in my mind, that I am just looking for ways to defame the country that his forefathers built, I call that ignorant (in the literal sense : people don't know what they are talking about). Plus we can argue exactly whose forefathers actually put in the sweat in building the country.

When, within the USA, the life of an American citizen becomes less valuable to the eyes of his own country's government because of his/her ancestry, and they are denied/restricted some of their constitutionally granted civil-rights (including the right to own guns, by the way!!!) - i.e:Arab Americans, African Americans, Latinos - I call that institutional bigotry.

When there are gay people beaten to death on the street because of their sexual orientation, in the name of so-called conservative principles of decency and Christianity, and they are not granted equal rights by the STATE, on the basis of the unilateral beliefs of one RELIGION, to me that is institutionalized religious bigotry. Unfortunately, it is the kind of things that - it seems to me, I may be wrong - the Republican party tends to support.

When the President of the United States cares LESS about the life of the VERY born people in Darfur, Somalia, Congo, Chiapas, etc than he cares about the "lives" of foetuses, I call that arrogant and reckless endangerment. This is the country that said ALL MEN - not all American men, but all men - ARE CREATED EQUAL! Liberals tend to understand that better, in my opinion. Republicans - it seems to me, I may be wrong - tend to make the call that an American life is more valuable to the World than other lives, because it belongs to some "shining city on a hill"...

The Republican party built itself on the principles of hard-work, and I respect that aspect of it very much, because hard-work is a value I also hold dear. But although not all Republicans are gun-totting bigotted racist WASPs, it is the pandering to the extreme right - and its corrolaries of racism and theocratic tendencies - that we have seen recently that concerns me. I know some people compared Bush to Hitler before, and it was excessive. Nevertheless, for those of us in the darker shades of the skin-color spectrum, we can't help but seeing that the ultra-conservatives power-houses tend to be white old men who do not always think of us as equals... and the current turn right seems awfully and dreadfully familiar... and that's what I fear.

See contrary to popular beliefs and myths, I am not a Liberal because I want Staline to take over the World, or "Communism to triumph". I am a Liberal - and by Liberal I just mean "on the left side of the political spectrum" - because I believe in tolerance, and in equality of rights regardless of races, genders, consensual adult lifestyles, religions or abilty. I am a Liberal because I believe in equal opportunity for all people, and the state's responsibility to guarantee it. I am a Liberal because I believe that those of us that could not fulfill the promises of opportunity should not be left to rot and die. I am a Liberal because I believe that a more equitable society will only come to fruition when justice and equity are taught to children as a higher values than dominance and survival of the fittest. I am a Liberal because I believe - that's the African in me - that the society as a whole is ultimately responsible for its members, and humanity is at its strongest when working, living, and growing as a social compact. I am a Liberal because I believe we need to ensure that this planet lasts for many generations to come. Finally I am Liberal because I believe that Freedom and Democracy are the aspirations of all people. I am a Liberal because I believe that though we have differences in opinions, our common humanity should and does matter more than everything else.

Friday, February 11, 2005

What can Africa learn from America

Club Afrika Blog : Lessons for African Governments

Above is an opinion piece by Jerry Okungu, on Club Afrika blog, reflecting on the lessons African government can draw from the rcent nomination process for Cabinet members here in the United States. It was a very insightful article, and my comment to it was follows:
I do not know how much I agree with what you said about Condi Rice, but I will definitely give you that there is a higher level of transparency, decorum, and a sense of purpose in he US government. Just how transparent they are might be in question sometimes, but it is definitely more open and principled than in DRCongo, or Rwanda, or CAR, or Cameroon. For having had the chance to attend Government meetings in my country (DRC), I know that the decorum shown after the fact (Press Conferences) are generally highly fictional, as they do not match what actually goes on indoors.

And that is problematic in an environment supposedly in charge of running the country. The levels of carelessness, self-absorption and egoticism in many of our leadership circles is quite appaling. So we do need to learn a sense of purpose in government.

But I take this chance to say that we must not make the mistake the US made of removing civics fron the education system. Because as much as there is decorum at the top, as much the general US population - outside of wartime - could care less about those values of purpose, decorum, and stately work, because the disconnect betwen Washington DC and the people is almost "taught" at school!!! We cannot, in Africa, afford that mistake. Being still in the formative stages of our countries, we must ensure that the next generations (my own, and the ones after mine) have a sense of duty, honor, and country. And I sharply disagree with the militaristic types who want to say that this can only be achieved by conscription: that just shows a lack of imagination.

So we the people have to learn duty, a more formal respect of country, continent and World. Our governments have to learn transparency, purpose, decorum, and the meaning of the word "civil SERVANT" - because right now what they often act like seems to be a bit more like "civil SERGEANT"! Finally, the US people can learn from us our oh! so African ability to overcome strife without losing our basic pinciples and values of charity, social networking, family.

Thank you for your insight.
Ali Mamina
The Salon of News and Thought

Wednesday, February 09, 2005