The Gringo Series

The Gringo SeriesLet’s call it de-gringo-ization, that penchant the United Statesians have for placing universal labels on things that are uniquely gringo. The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the World Series, the annual end-of-season baseball playoff in the United States. Insofar as there are no teams from other baseball-playing countries represented–neither Japan nor, God forbid, Cuba, for example–the so-called World Series is, in fact, the Gringo Series. And we of the Rest of the World would appreciate it if the United Statesians would start calling it by its proper name. Continue reading

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The Nuremberg Principles

Nuremberg trialsLast night we watched “Nuremberg” again. It’s the made-for-television film with Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessy and Brian Cox which presents a semi-documentary treatment of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg, the trial of the most important Nazi party members after World War II. Though it’s unremarkable as cinema, it’s historic content keeps it timely and relevant, now more than ever. The Nuremberg Principles were a set of guidelines elaborated by the American, British, French and Russian members of the tribunal for determining what constitutes a war crime. They are still considered binding in international law. I Googled “Nuremberg Principles” and they made a chill run down my spine. I could comment on them, but I prefer not to. They speak so eloquently for themselves. And you’re a discerning reader; you can connect today’s dots. Here’s what I found: Continue reading

Is Condi Rice Initiating Her Plea Bargaining Already?

Condoleeza RiceAll the British papers are up in arms because they’ve just found out that the United States’ “extraordinary renditioning” aircraft did touch down on British soil. Reporters from The Times, affirm:

British facilities were used by the US to transport terrorist suspects at least twice, despite repeated government denials – including by Tony Blair – that the UK had any involvement in extraordinary rendition flights.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, admitted that two US flights carrying terrorist suspects refuelled at the airbase on the British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia in 2002.

In a statement to the Commons he apologised to MPs for having to correct previous denials, blaming a US “administrative error” that had only just come to light. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, had expressed her “deep regret” at the error and had phoned him to apologise on Wednesday.

Mark Pallis of The Guardian, details how the Brits were, er, finessed back in 2005 when foreign secretary Jack Strawaffirmed before the British foreign affairs select committee in December of that year:

Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories, and that the officials are lying, I’m lying and that behind and that behind this there is some kind of secret state in league with some dark forces in the US, and we believe Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice is lying, there is simply no truth in claims that the UK has been involved in rendition.

Funny that Mr. Straw should have expressed it so eloquently and so explicitly, as that is exactly what we believed, though we have not been able to confirm it until now. Continue reading

Yo, United Statesians, Listen Up!

A Lesson in Linguistic Geography for the People of the United States

Map of North and South AmericaThe land mass properly called “America” extends from the northern tip of Greenland to Cape Horn (properly Cabo de Hornos) at the southern tip of Chile and, besides the United States and its territories, Greenland, and Chile, includes Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, The Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

None of these countries or territories arrogates to itself the right to call itself “America,” though all have the very same credentials as the United States to do so. To pretend that “America” or “American” refers exclusively or even principally to the United States, is gravely erroneous, and when the people of the United States do it it’s impolite. This is the most elementary geography and most everybody in the world is aware of it except the people of the United States themselves, who have seen fit to co-opt the common name for the peoples of two entire continents for their own private use. This belies a cocktail of ignorance and arrogance which is considered inappropriate in advanced democratic societies.

Continue reading

Is John McCain’s Memory Failing?

Presidential hopeful, John McCain

Is John McCain’s memory failing him, or is he trying to insult our intelligence again? Neither hypothesis says much in favor of the Republican front runner’s decency or competence.

In a recent interview with K. Brinkbäumer and M. Hujer for Der Spiegel, reported in Spain’s El País newspaper, when asked (my translation), “Would you agree to speak with someone like Mahmuid Ahmadineyad, the Irani president?” McCain replied:

As long as Iran continues to proclaim its intention to finish off the state of Israel and as long as they do not
cease the use of nuclear arms, I will continue to say that this is an unacceptable situation for us.

This gem is from a man who could plausibly be the next president of the United States of America. Let’s put him straight here, just for the record:

  • Iran has no nuclear weapons. Iran doesn’t even have any nuclear power plants.
  • The only Middle East country which has nuclear weapons is Israel, which possesses a formidable atomic arsenal–some analysts say the world’s fifth most important–including a submarine-based second-strike capability.
  • To pretend that this massive Israeli threat to its neighbors, whether tacit or explicit, is not a determining factor in all Middle East diplomacy is to be less than candid.

So, Mr. McCain, permit me respectfully to suggest that you desist from your campaign to become president of the United States. For one reason or another, you’re not up to the job.

Cuba Free of Castro’s Yoke: Steve Bell’s Take

Cuba Libre
The Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell on Castro’s resignation and President George W. Bush’s reaction.

 

 

All the News That’s Fit to… Ignore

For most of my adult lifetime the New York Times, the American newspaper of record, was practically an object of reverence for me. “All the news that’s fit to print…” proclaimed the masthead, and still does. I still read it online even though, over the years, it has lost some of its luster. To begin with, it’s take on the Iraq war seemed to me driven by the mass hysteria which gripped the less critical elements in the U.S.A. from the beginning. I really didn’t expect my beloved Times to go along with the baying crowd.

Recently I began to receive regular email publicity blurbs from the Times, plumping their most viewed feature stories over the previous week. Here’s the one which arrived a couple of days ago:

Top 5 Viewed Features on NTTimes.com
(Between Wednesday, Feb. 6-Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008