Thursday, December 29, 2005

My Name is Read

Internationally acclaimed author of, amongst others, the novel My Name Is Red, Orhan Pamuk of Turkey has been charged by the Turkish government with their version of treason. For what? For reminding Turks of their injustices against two significant minorities: the Armenians (remember that little ol' genocide thing from 1915?) and the Kurds. Mr Pamuk was charged months ago, but today the Turkish government, all the while being watched like a hawk by European Union observers who are looking for any reason to decline its EU membership, has decided to drop one of the two charges associated with Mr Pamuk's trips down memory lane: the charge against having insulted the Turkish armed forces. Nonetheless, the no doubt more serious charge of insulting "Turkishness" (a concept whose authorities dwell everywhere from southern Hungary to Western China) persists. "One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares talk about it," Pamuk said in a magazine interview earlier this year -- ushering in the very charge he's dealing with now. Perhaps Turkey's desperation to avoid blemishes on its application for the EU will save Mr Pamuk, but what will save Turkey from the growing aggregate of voices demanding recognition, acceptance and due justice for its crimes against humanity?


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Guide to the Plame CIA Leak Case

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson

Okay, for those of you who are confused about the latest case for impeachment against George W. Bush, this is a short and simple guide to the CIA LEAK CASE:

around 14 June 2003: Bob Woodward Informed of Plame's ID
according to his sworn testimony in the autumn of 2005, Woodward was informed of the identity of Valerie Plame a full month before her identity was disclosed. In any case, he did not go on to be the first to disclose it.

23 June 2003: "Journalist" Judith Miller Informed of Plame's ID
fact-manipulator and journalistic embarrassment Judith Miller of the New York Times claims that this is the date on which she was informed of Plame's identity. When weighing the considerable effort Miller undertook to sell the NYT's series of reports on Iraqi wmd's -- an effort that subsequently led to the White House quoting from her reports in its campaign to manipulate the American public and the world into believing what has now been proven as entirely false -- it makes sense that she decided not to further incriminate herself with such clearly provable treason as outing a secret service operative. The fact that her reports are leading to the mass deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, is, of course, irrelevant to her sense of journalistic integrity which she claimed she was upholding (see below).

6 July 2003: Joseph Wilson's Op-Ed Criticizes Bush Admin
retired U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IX publishes an op-ed in the New York Times titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa" in which he explained that (a) the Bush administration manipulated facts to sell the war in Iraq: "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat" and (b) on a February 2002 CIA-funded fact-verifying mission to Niger, Wilson determined that no sale of yellowcake uranium occurred between Iraq and Niger in the 1990's.

14 July 2003: Robert Novak's Op-Ed Outs Wilson's Wife as CIA Operative syndicated conservative columnist (and, as I know from personal experience, stage-shy lecturer!) Robert Novak (formerly of the Chicago Sun Times, more recently of nationally broadcast embarrassing outburst) published a column divulging the identity of a certain Valerie Plame as a CIA operative -- an apparently treasonous act which is not entirely devoid of deviousness either, considering Mrs. Plame is the wife of said former ambassador Wilson. Behold the incriminating sentence: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

mid-July 2003: Wilson Claims Retaliation, Bush Admin Claims Clarification
Wilson's immediate response to the Novak column was that his wife was outed as a retaliation over his non-compliance with the Bush Administration's need to maintain the story about how Iraq's wmd's were a serious threat and therefore a justification for war. The Bush administration claimed that the column was merely an attempt to clarify and discredit Wilson's inaccurate information and to contend that Plame must have played a role in Wilson's conclusions. Much of this, including a comment made by Dick-less Cheney that he was unaware of the Niger fact-finding mission, was later confirmed as baseless.

26 September 2003: Investigation Requested
the CIA requests that the Justice Department undertake an investigation into who leaked this secret national security information to the press.

30 September 2003: Bush Defends His Admin
"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. ... I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

2 October 2003: Karl Rove, aka Bush's Brain, Outed
In an article in the New York Times, Rove is outed as being involved in the leaking of Plame's identity. Former Attorney General Ashcroft is also implicated.

30 December 2003: Fitzgerald Named Special Counsel of Investigation
an investigation was undertaken by the Justice Department to find out who leaked the name and whether the whole thing involved any unconstitutional or treasonous activity. Former US Attorney for Northern Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed the Special Counsel in charge of the investigation.

July - September 2005: Miller Serves Sentence for Refusing Grand Jury
in the name of journalistic integrity (a concept she has proven herself entirely ignorant of), Miller went to jail to avoid revealing her sources surrounding the Plame affair. She revealed them shortly after departing jail (and landing a hefty book deal as a result of her little sophistic sojourn behind bars).
On a live CNN broadcast, in a discussion with James Carville about the Senate candidacy of Katherine Harris, Novak (possibly under the effect of medicants of some nature -- wink wink-- considering the tough week he'd just undergone with recent Plame revelations) lost control of his temper, exchanged a few angry words with Carville (who classically remained the bald-headed statue of cool he perfected in the Clinton era) then walked right off the set. He was suspended from CNN the next day.

6 October 2005 -- Bush's Brain, Karl Rove, Testifies for 4th Time
Rove, who clearly knows more than he's told the world about the Valerie Plame disclosure, was recalled for the 4th time in front of Fitzgerald's grand jury. This story will be continued into 2006 -- leaving just enough time for impeachment proceedings if the House is overtaken by Democrats, as predicted in the upcoming winter mid-term elections.

14 December 2005 -- Novak States that Bush Knows Who Done It
Novak's latest column indicates that he'd "be amazed" if Bush didn't know who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame. No doubt, this column will be used as evidence against El Prezidentay should the occasion arise.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Borat Can .KZ Off

It was always apparent that "comedian" Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat was a native of some former Soviet abode, but it appears that he is actually meant by Cohen (best known for his mockery of British Muslims with the character Ali G) to be a Kazakh. Authorities in Kazakhstan have taken exception to Cohen's stereotypical and arguably prejudiced depiction of Kazakhis and have now removed from their national internet domain. "We've done this so he can't badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name," Nurlan Isin, President of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies, says. "He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains." And there is no doubt that he will.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Tookie Was Killed Today

Some people never change. Not because they can't, but because they won't. That crabby ol' grandmother who's been miserable all her life and wants everyone around her to be miserable, too. That rude cashier at the grocer's who never smiles and never thanks you when you ask how he is. Your angry friend who never got over his childhood grievances. It's not easy to change who you've become, partially because it's hard to admit to yourself and partially because it takes a lot of effort to reverse years and years of being in a rut.

Deathrow inmate Tookie Williams was one of those people who really did change. From a 17-year-old gang member to a 25-year-old deathrow inmate to a 52-year-old executed by the law of Governor Arnold "My Dad's a Nazi and I'm not far behind" Schwarzenegger's land. (Maria Shriver be damned for soiling what was still an admirable Kennedy legacy.) What is the point of imprisoning a young person for 26 years, observing the positive changes in him and his contributions to society at large and then killing him at the very moment he has achieved the very reform your so-called justice system had apparently sought for him? Justice, like many significant and life-altering institutions in America, is like religion -- where blind faith is your passport and ignorance is your meal ticket as all the while you pray that your vessel, if no one else's, will safely reach the shores of victory. Trouble is, the prophets navigate according to their whims, not yours.

For anyone who marvels at the wonders of the American political system -- a system founded on truth, justice and equality -- the sad story of a lonely and troubled black boy's journey into a highly articulate and politically solvent deathrow inmate is the best example to date of how imperfect that system is. Justice is a notion defined by the pounding fist of power, its bruises sustained by the helpless many.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Journalists on Board

It's a strange coincidence that 40 of the 94 people on board the Iranian military plane which crashed today in Tehran were journalists. Yes, they were employees of the state-run broadcasting service, but still, it's fishy. The journalists were on their way to cover military manoeuvres on the coast when the accident occurred. Even President Ahmadinejad acknowledged the high proportion of journalist victims: "I learned of the catastrophe and the fact that members of the press have been martyred," he said, as he says so well. Surprisingly, it wasn't another ageing Russian aircraft. Unsurprisingly, it was another ageing U.S. aircraft. This is why Iran is called a "developing" and not a "developed" country: the basic act of upgrading public transport modules is about 30 years overdue.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Little White Jackos

It's been years of nonsense, obvious fibbery and Halloween masks on Easter Sundays, but finally, the truth has come out about Michael Jackson's blond-haired, blue-eyed children: they are 100% White. That's right, Jackson's ex-"wife," has come forward admitting the children were conceived courtesy of a sperm bank. No wonder he insisted they wear ridiculous face masks everytime they were out in public -- though, of course, the masks never managed to cover the kids' completely straight hair, and only attracted attention to Jackson's desperate need to hide something insidious about his catalogue of "facts" on his personal life.

Next up in Wacko news: yes, forty years after Malcolm X last tried to convert the Blackeratti (or in Jackson's case, the Used-to-be-Blackeratti) of America, Michael Jackson is on course to becoming a Muslim in his newly adopted country of Bahrain. His brother Jermaine converted years ago, though a little too late for his son who was Christianed with the unfortunate name of Jermajesty. Well, considering Jackson's dubious sexual preferences, and the recent incident where he was caught wearing hejab in a women's public toilet in the UAE, it seems only reasonable that he'd seek a religion where covering his hideous guise might be acceptable. Or not.