Saturday, August 29, 2009


An activist received a sentence yesterday of 18 years for "insulting" Thailand's king. Thomas Fuller reports in today's The New York Times that a former journalist was adjudged guilty of damaging the reputation and honor of the king.

Reports Fuller:

"The three-judge panel ruled that even though she did not mention the king or queen by name in the speech, she had insinuated that they supported the coup. One of the ways she made her point, the judges said, was to refer to yellow and blue, the traditional Thai birth colors of the king and queen.

"Among those charged with lèse-majesté recently are a number of strong-willed activists in a country that has traditionally prized deference."

This is an egregious miscarriage of the law and of justice. Everyone in the world should be free to speak his mind, no matter if it offends the king or not. The whole country of Thailand is reduced to a state of ridicule on account of this conviction.

Remember when George W. Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer warned reporters to watch what they said or wrote. I am sure the Bush coterie would have liked nothing better than to arrest critics and commentators who opposed the War in Iraq and/or other policies of W. Fortunately, the courts in the U.S. would not allow it and Bush knew it, but he and Fleischer were trying to impose censorship and silence, nonetheless.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Sen. Ted Kennedy was one of the Democratic voices in the Senate totally opposed to the stupid War in Iraq. Thanks to his speaking out, and thanks to the others, especially Sen. Robert Byrd and VP Al Gore. But where were the others? Why did they go along with the hated Bush/Cheney war machine?

Sen. Barack Obama came out early in 2002 against the War. Yet he remained somewhat muted about it probably due to campaign pressures. But why does Obama now president push and prosecute the War in Afghanistan and even enlarge it?

Afghanistan is worse than Iraq for education, social services, hospitals, schools, roads, infrastructure. Nothing will be solved there by dropping cluster bombs and firing phosphorous or spent nuclear shells. To think that an Afghan farmer, with no primary schooling, with no television, with no radio, is going to be changed by American soldiers, renounce conservative Islam, or become a political progressive calls for a psychological examination. It will never happen.

So why does Obama persist in keeping U.S. troops there? Obama should be smarter than what his foolish military policy indicates. And all the while, U.S. troops fall as casualties in a needless and purposeless war.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Dick Cheney came out with a statement today insulting Pres. Barack Obama and saying that Obama was not able to manage the country's security concerns.

Mike Allen of Politico reports on Cheney's statement:

"Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in a statement Tuesday that the Obama administration's decision to name a prosecutor to look into Bush-era interrogations of suspected terrorists should foster "doubts about this administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.”

""The people involved deserve our gratitude," Cheney said. "They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions.""

In other words the CIA agents who actually carried out Cheney's mandate to torture should be heroes, not torturers, and certainly not prosecuted. They may too quicklty reveal that it was the Prince of Darkness himself, Dick Cheney, who gave the orders to use those techniques dating at least as far back as the Inquisition and probably from long before that.

One of the interesting but baseless assertions made by Cheney was that two CIA memos released yesterday prove that his methods of torture did work. But Amanda Terkel reports for ThinkProgress that the memos show no such proof. Writes Amanda Terkel:

"Cheney has since put out a carefully worded statement saying that “individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda.” However, the fact remains that there is still no public evidence that those techniques actually saved lives."

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Sen Jim DeMint, R-SC) does not think health care is a right, just a privilege. Thanks to Political Wire for pointing to the interview.

Robert Behre of the Charleston Post and Courier interviewed DeMint. Here's the reporter's question and DeMint's response:

"P&C: Do people have a right to health care? Describe where the government's obligation to provide a safety net ends and where a person's responsibility should begin.

"DeMint: I think health care is a privilege. I wouldn't call it a right. ... I do think in our country and in any civil society there should be a safety net for basic health and food and shelter, but that doesn't mean that the whole system should be designed around the belief that people can't make their own decisions, can't be responsible for themselves. ... What we do need to do is make sure everybody has access to policies they can afford, own and keep. We're not doing that. What we've done is set up the whole system to reward employers for offering health insurance, but we don't support people who don't get their insurance at work, and that's not fair."

Now it's hard to make sense of what DeMint is saying, but he clearly believes health care is a privilege and that no one in America has a right to it. So the people hit with catastrophic illnesses, the children paralyzed from accidents, the cancer patients, according to DeMint, none of them have a right to health care by virtue of being citizens of the United States.

So people still think like DeMint? If so, the United States is a dark place in which to dwell especially if you are sick. Is this what other Republicans think? Then the Republicans are meaner than I originally thought.

And what do these meanies make of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution? It says that the people make the Constitution "in order to . . . secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity." Surely we have here a basis to say that the "blessings of liberty" mean the freedom to not worry about securing adequate and affordable health care. If not, how does the government "promote the general welfare" and "establish justice?" I thus argue that health care is a right, not a mere privilege. Every citizen should be able to count on the government to provide medical treatment, cost of required prescription drugs, and hospital care.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I support Barack Obama as president and I will do almost anything to help him succeed in turning the country back from the brink of Bush and Cheney.

However, there are certain Obama administration actions that are troubling:

One. Why was it necessary to make an agreement with Colombia and its president Alvaro Uribe to send 800 more American troops to be stationed on Colombian soil? To say that the American soldiers are there to fight drug traffickers is ludicrous and beyond belief. Let Uribe fight his own war again drug cartels. To station American troops on Latin soil rankles the ordinary guy in the street from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo to Mexico City. And it does nothing to improve American relations with its Latin neighbors to the south. Obama created much good will, even with Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, when he attended a summit of leaders of the OAS several weeks ago in Costa Rica. Why did Obama blow it all on this ill-thought-out, ill conceived deal with Colombia? It says to me that Obama himself has absolutely no sensitivity to the desires and needs of Latin American countries and their peoples.

Second. Why did Obama name Janet Napolitano as head of Homeland Security? In her position, she is in charge of immigration policy and practices. But Napolitano is almost as anti-Latino and anti-immigrant as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, that racist from Phoenix. Napolitano has not only continued the mean and harsh policies of Julie Myers and Michael Chertoff when it comes to Spanish-speaking undocumented immigrants, she has made them even more stringent and cruel. Surely Obama could have picked someone more sympathetic with those Latinos who come to the U.S. solely for the purpose of achieving a better life for their families. Again, Obama's choice of Napolitano shows a lack of sensitivity to the plight of immigrants from Mexico and other Latin countries.

There are other decisions of Obama with which I disagree. I will leave them for subsequent posts. Obama is my candidate but his actions since taking office show his lack of awareness of issues that are important to Latinos. Someone needs to give him better advice in the future. I still hold hope that he will come to a better sense of correct policy towards Latin America.

Monday, August 17, 2009


There is a cruel campaign going on in Baghdad and probably throughout the rest of Iraq to kill anybody thought to be homosexual. Even family members are thought to kill off their siblings because they believe that homosexuality brings disgrace upon the family's reputation.

The BBC reports on findings of Human Rights Watch:

"It says hundreds of gay men have been targeted and killed in Iraq since 2004.

"So-called honour killings also account for deaths where families punish their own kin in order to avoid public shame."

So is this what Bush's war produced? A full scale pogrom against gays who exhibit homosexual ways and tendencies.

The campaign against homosexuals in Iraq is just as medieval and barbarous and the killing of albinos in Tanzania for their magical body parts or the campaign in Afghanistan that punishes girls for going to school and which restricts women in public to the burka.

Why must religion always try to regulate morality by the sword? I am sure that the Catholic Church approved the same harsh and cruel morality prior to being shamed into cessation by the Enlightenment in the 18th Century. And Christian churches nowadays know that they could never get away with imprisoning, torturing or executing people just because of their different morality, especially when it comes to sex.

The report of Human Rights Watch documents:

"[A] wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009. The killings began in the vast Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, and spread to many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen have promoted fears about the "third sex" and the "feminization" of Iraq men, and suggested that militia action was the remedy. Some people told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing."

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Peter Beaumont writes in today's The Guardian that Human Rights Watch accuses the Israeli Defense Forces of shooting 11 Palestinian civilians carrying white flags in Gaza during last January's offensive.

Reports Beaumont:

"The deaths – including those of five women and four children – took place in seven separate incidents across Gaza in areas controlled by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), where there was no fighting and no Palestinian fighters were nearby."

In the meantime, the IDF has issued a voluminous report that finds no violations of the rights of the Palestinians and no basis for charging Israel and its IDF with any war crimes.

Beaumont reports on some of the cases brought up by Human Rights Watch:

"In one case, the civilians were walking in a group on a street. In another, they were driving slowly on tractors and in cars, trying to leave the area with the wounded, according to the report.

""On the way we saw tanks and soldiers," said Omar Abu Halima, 18. "When we saw them [the Israeli soldiers] they told us to stop. After we stopped they fired at us. They killed my cousin Mattar. My cousin Muhammad was wounded and later died."

"In another case – also in al-Atatra – two women holding white flags stepped out of a house that the IDF was demolishing to tell the soldiers that civilians were inside. "We opened the door and a sniper fired at us from a house," said Zakiya al-Qanu, 55. "Ibtisam was hit and I turned to go back inside and another bullet grazed my back. Ibtisam died in the doorway.""

Israel's reaction has been something like, "the Palestinian terrorists were using white flags to deceive IDF soldiers and then shoot them."

But Beaumont reports:

"Human Rights Watch said it could find no evidence of misuse of white flags or the use of civilians as human shields in the cases detailed. "These casualties comprise a fraction of the Palestinian civilians wounded and killed," the report says.

""But they stand out because, in each case, the victims were standing, walking or in slowly moving vehicles with other unarmed civilians, and were trying to convey their non-combatant status by waving a white flag.""

Of course, there will be no formal charges against the IDF or any of its soldiers because the IDF said it could find no evidence of abuse or maltreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The only way that the world can condemn these Israeli war crimes is to publicize them and let the public know what really happened in Israel's three-week incursion into Gaza this past January.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Ellen Barry writes for The New York Times web page today that Vladimir Putin believes that European governments commonly blame Georgia for starting the war a year ago but are afraid to speak their convictions. I agree with Putin. It is clear to all who have followed the contretemps closely that Georgia and its president Mikheil Saakashvili deliberately started the shelling of South Ossetia and its capital Tskhinvali.

Writes Ellen Barry:

"Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Wednesday that Europeans increasingly hold Georgia responsible for last year’s war in the Caucasus but are afraid to admit it publicly because of pressure from the United States."

What surprises me is that Putin thinks that Europeans are under pressure from Obama and the U.S. not to publicly blame Georgia. I know that V.P. Joe Biden said some sill things last month during his visit with Saaakashvili, how the U.S. stands behind him and Georgia, but I just attributed Biden's comments to his habit of making mindless remarks that have not been cleared. Putin must believe that Bidens remarks were cleared by Obama beforehand.

Reports Barry:

"The war’s anniversary has revived mutual recriminations between Russia and Georgia over who was responsible for its outbreak, with both countries saying they acted defensively when they sent troops into South Ossetia. Both are waiting for a European Union fact-finding mission’s report on the war’s origins. The release was delayed from July until late September after new material became available.

"Mr. Putin said world opinion has turned in Russia’s favor since last year, and that “practically all of international society” has acknowledged that Georgia was the aggressor in the conflict."

The BBC did a multi-segment report several months ago on the Georgia/Russia war and found that there was no evidence of Russia's taking the first shot, even though there has been plenty of evidence that it was Georgia that started shelling South Ossetia. "Shelling South Ossetia" must be understood as indiscriminate firing of shells into the civilian areas of the capital. Again here, we have a sterling example of what is commonly recognized as a war crime, and evidence all points to the culpability of Saakashvili and Georgia.

Ellen Barry writes:

"Mr. Putin said world opinion has turned in Russia’s favor since last year, and that “practically all of international society” has acknowledged that Georgia was the aggressor in the conflict.

"“In the West, what is called the West, we have plenty of supporters,” he said, in remarks to Abkhaz journalists. “They are all under a certain pressure from NATO’s leading country, the United States. And, to put it bluntly, many of them don’t publicly state their positions, because they would then diverge from the U.S. position.”

"Mr. Putin said that American leaders, in the aftermath of the cold war, “came under the impression that they could act without any rules — as they wanted, as it pleased them.” But he said that time had passed, and that European countries were becoming gradually more willing to express their support for Russia."

Monday, August 10, 2009


There is a conference of heads of state of countries in the Americas beginning today in Quito, Ecuador. Unfortunately, Pres. Barack Obama will not be attending. He is meeting with Mexican president Felipe Calderone and Canadian PM Stephen Harper in Guadalajara, Mexico. It is a shame Obama thus won't be hearing the criticisms from most of the other Latin leaders in Quito about the ill-thought-out plan of the U.S. to station 800+ more American troops in bases in Colombia.

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe also won't be in attendance. He doesn't want to be castigated and/or disparaged by the other heads of state for allowing more U.S. troops to be stationed in a Latin country.

Many heads of state, like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia, believe that Colombia's welcoming of American soldiers will de-stabilize the area, and possibly lead to military skirmishes and even more serious events.

Who was the guy in the Obama administration who thought sending more Yanqui troops would be in the interest of the U.S.? And how and why did Obama even sign off on this bad idea? The whole agreement with Colombia and Uribe reeks of U.S. gunboat diplomacy and American desire for hegemony south of the border. The agreement never should have been considered, much less made.

I agree with those Latin heads of state who think that this agreement with Colombia will cause a lot of damage, not the least to the reputation of Barack Obama in the eyes and minds of almost all the Latin leaders.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Bolivian President Evo Morales terms the agreement by Colombian president Alvaro Uribe a sell-out of Latin countries to the United States. I totally agree.

The BBC reports:

"Mr Morales said that Bogota's plan was aimed at countering the efforts of left-wing governments like his.

"He said those governments were fighting for greater social justice."

There is no good reason why Barack Obama approved sending 800+ more U.S. troops to Colombia. The proffered reason is that the troops are going to help with anti-drug operations. This is patently pretextual and ingenuous.

The real reason, offered by Evo Morales, is that the U.S. wants to spy on and impede those countries that are putting social programs into effect to help their poor and indigenous.

Does Barack Obama know of the turmoil resulting from this silly and foolish U.S. plan to base hundreds of American soldiers in Colombia? If he does, he needs to explain why it is worth it given the anti-American sentiment naturally created in the souls of the street in every country in South and Central America.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Here are the 31 Republican Senators who voted against the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court:

John Barrasso, Bob Bennett, Sam Brownback, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Mike Crapo, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Mike Enzi, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchison, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Jon Kyl, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, John Thune, David Vitter, Roger Wicker.

They all except one are white males who can't stand the thought that a wise Latina female judge might be smarter and more capable than they themselves.

Arguments of Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett or Chuck Grassley that Sotomayor does not have the correct judicial mind set or uses "empathy" to analyze cases are clearly pretextual. The real reason apparent to many and especially to Latinos is that these Republicans are anti-Hispanic and anti-Puerto Rican and anti-female.

Latinos as a group are not going to forget or forgive the racist Republicans voting no on Sotomayor. Come election time, there will be Latino pay back.


For all the talk about stopping N. Korea and Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, it is important to remember that only one country ever used nuclear weapons, and that was the United States. Today is the 64th Anniversary of the dropping of an American atomic nuclear device on Hiroshima. President Harry Truman was without doubt a bloody war criminal whose order to drop the bombs directly caused the deaths of 100,000 souls in each city - Hiroshima and then in Nagasaki. Why no charges against Truman or the others who carried out his immoral and illegal nuclear crimes such as the pilot of the Enola Gay? Simple. There are never any charges of war crimes brought against the victors.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I saw and heard Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, this evening on the news broadcast of Univision claim that there was going to be a war in Latin America, and the instigator would be the United States.

Now there are many things that Hugo Chavez says and does to which I object, like trying to close radio and TV stations that don't agree with him politically. And I have strenuously objected in previous posts.

On the other hand, I totally agreed when Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush a threat to world peace, and Satan himself. I thought Chavez was spot on.

And I agree with him that the U.S. has done a stupid thing in agreeing with Alvaro Uribe president of Colombia to send some 800+ American troops to that country, together with spy planes and other deadly weapons. The whole of Latin America has been thrown in turmoil and confusion by this move.

Who in the Department of Defense advised Obama to send the Yanquis? I would like to know because this person has no sensitivity to the feelings and opinions of the ordinary citizen who hates the prospect of Yanqui troops based in a Latin country. The whole agreement smacks of "gunboat diplomacy" and Yanqui imperialism.

And to think that Obama is so clueless about the culture of Latin America that he went along with this dumb ass idea that could spark a war between Colombia and its neighbors such as Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Why don't we see a change in immigration policy from the time of George W. Bush to the administration of Barack Obama? It seems like the harsh policy of Bush/Chertoff/Julie Myers is still in effect - raiding work places, finding undocumented workers, arresting them, deporting them.

Julia Preston writes in today's The New York Times about the continuation of policy with Janet Napolitano as head of the Homeland Security Department:

"The administration recently undertook audits of employee paperwork at hundreds of businesses, expanded a program to verify worker immigration status that has been widely criticized as flawed, bolstered a program of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies, and rejected proposals for legally binding rules governing conditions in immigration detention centers.

"“We are expanding enforcement, but I think in the right way,” Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, said in an interview."

Why is Napolitano "expanding enforcement?" Undocumented immigrants have been locked up, separated from their children, forbidden to hold a job, deported to their original countries while their spouses and children become impoverished.

Instead of expanding enforcement Homeland Security needs to relax its iron fist and stop trying to deport hundreds and thousands. America needs to show some compassion and empathy to those undocumenteds who come to the U.S. to better the economic position of their families, to put bread on the table for their children.

Does Obama know what is happening? Does he approve of the "expanding enforcement?" Does he really want the policy of his administration to center on arrest, detention and deportation?


Which idiot in the Obama administration approved the sending of 1,000 additional U.S. soldiers to duty in Colombia? Whoever it was has no idea of the politics and feelings of the various Latin American countries which strongly oppose the presence of more Yanqui troops in a neighboring country. It would appear that Obama himself has no sense of what is happening in Central and South America, the move to the left and the quest for economic and social justice and equality. More seriously, Obama appears to be saying that he has no interest in cultivating serious ties with governments there.

It is not only Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Rafael Correa of Ecuador or Evo Morales of Bolivia who decries the invasion of the Yanquis into nearby Colombia. It is more centrist Lula da Silva of Brazil and Michelle Bachelet of Chile who also object.

The BBC reports that Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe will visit some of the Latin countries in an effort to quell the objections.

"Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is to tour other South American countries concerned about plans to increase the US military presence in Colombia.

"Bogota said he would visit this week Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and was planning trips to three other nations.

"Venezuela has expressed alarm at plans to relocate US anti-drug forces to bases in Colombia, and Brazilian officials also say they are concerned."

Frankly there is no good reason why Obama or one of his ignorant cabinet secretaries approved more U.S. troops to be stationed in Colombia. Ostensibly it is to fight the drug trade in Colombia. But this is only a patent pretext. The real purpose must be to spy on Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and other countries nearby where there are leftist governments that oppose American hegemony.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I was a supporter of Venezuelan Hugo Chavez when he said in his speech at the Untied Nations that he could smell the stench of the devil from George W. Bush. I also approved his social programs using Venezuelan oil revenues to build schools and grant pensions to the impoverished.

But now Mr. Chavez goes too far when he sends out police and paramilitaries to beat up people at the television station Globalvision.

Hugo Chavez could be the leader of Latin America but for his recklessness and foolishness in his campaign against TV and radio stations that criticize him and his policies.

Here's a report from the BBC on August 1st:

"Venezuelan opposition groups have protested against a decision to take 34 radio stations off the air, calling it an attack on freedom of speech.

"As the stations stopped broadcasting on Saturday, staff said the move was aimed at giving more space to media that support President Hugo Chavez.

"More than 200 other radio stations are expected to close in coming weeks."

Chavez is cracking down on free speech and revoking the broadcast licenses of stations that allow commentaries critical of his policies. This is not right.

I oppose Hugo Chavez for his campaign against critical political speech. I only hope that he lays off with his police and paramilitary. Venezuela is too sophisticated a society to allow him to get away with this.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Why must the Israeli government approve the eviction of nine Palestinian families from occupied East Jerusalem? Almost immediately after the eviction, Jewish families moved in. Is there any better example of "ethnic cleansing"?

The BBC reports:

""Israeli police have evicted nine Palestinian families living in two houses in occupied East Jerusalem.

"Jewish settlers moved into the houses almost immediately. The US has urged Israel to abandon plans for a building project in the area."

This portion of Jerusalem was seized during the 1967 War. International law prevents the victor, in this case Israel, from annexing the territory and considering it its own. Land seized during an armed conflict must be returned to the defeated peoples. So far Israel refuses to return the land to the Palestinians from whom it was taken. Now Israel is evicting Palestinians who live there.

Reports the BBC:

"The evictions were quickly condemned by the United Nations.

""I deplore today's totally unacceptable actions by Israel," the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H Serry said. "These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory.

""These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace," Mr Perry said.

"Palestinian negotiator Saed Erakat said: "Tonight, while these new settlers from abroad will be accommodating themselves and their belongings in these Palestinian houses, 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.""

Saturday, August 1, 2009


The Republic of Georgia and its hot-head president Saakashvili are again threatening South Ossetia. The Ossetians claim that two mortars were fired by the Georgians into Ossetia. Saakashvili is a dangerous player in the region, and this is the same guy for whom Biden recently expressed effusive admiration. Does anybody in Washington know the real story?

Philip P. Pan reports for The Washington Post in tomorrow's edition:

"Russia accused Georgia on Saturday of firing mortars and grenades into South Ossetia and warned that it would defend the separatist territory with "all available forces and means" as tensions mounted ahead of the anniversary of last year's war.

"Georgia condemned Russia's assertion as "groundless and misleading," saying it was aimed at "further destabilizing the situation and causing the unfolding of a dangerous scenario of events.""