February 24th, 2011

The not-so revolution, let alone an Islamic revolution

In one of the new sources I follow, there was a review of “This is not an Islamic Revolution“. Allow me to be slightly lazy and copy here the fragments they choose too.

Our (read: Western) fear that any uprising in the middle east must resemble the devastating Iranian example is false.

Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation. For them, the great revolutionary movements of the 1970s and 1980s are ancient history, their parents’ affair. The members of this young generation aren’t interested in ideology: their slogans are pragmatic and concrete – “Erhal!” or “Go now!”. Unlike their predecessors in Algeria in the 1980s, they make no appeal to Islam; rather, they are rejecting corrupt dictatorships and calling for democracy. This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world.

There is no link with terrorist groups. This is all about fighting repression and corrupt regimes.

Indeed, global jihad is completely detached from social movements and national struggles. Al-Qaeda tries to present itself as the vanguard of the global Muslim “umma” in its battle against western oppression, but without success. Al-Qaeda recruits deracinated young jihadists who have cut themselves off entirely from their families and communities. It remains stuck in the logic of the “propaganda of the deed” and has never bothered to try to build political structures inside Muslim societies.

Even more, thinking that  repressive, secular regime will somehow protect “us” against Islamic fundamentalism is flawed.

It is also a mistake to see the dictatorships as defending secularism against religious fanaticism. With the exception of Tunisia, authoritarian regimes in the Arab world have not made their societies secular; on the contrary, they have reached an accommodation with a neofundamentalist form of re-Islamisation in which the imposition of sharia law is called for without any discussion of the nature of political power.

It is a VERY compelling read. Recommended.

February 9th, 2009

Live and let live

Tonight, around 8:10 PM CET, Eluana Anglaro passed away.

May she rest in eternal peace.

Previously: It’s 1992. Then 22 year Italian young woman Eluana Anglaro is caught in a deadly car crash. Her body refused to die, but she was deeply comatose, and in essence, well, dead. Her father decided she had to be let go. Sad detail is that a friend of Eluana also had gone into a deep coma and according to her father, she had told him that that wasn’t life, and she would never want to live live like that. Fast forward 2009. The now 38 year old Eluana’s body is still alive, and her father is still fighting to give her a respectful, caring, compassionate death. Last 10 years of the fight was before the highest justice body of Italy.

All that time, Rome, as in, the Catholic Church, has kept up a venomous and intense campaign to deny this woman her right to die. This of course stalled any lawmaking in unstable Italian politics. Finally, in November 2008 a few days ago, the highest court greenlighted her to be taken off artificial nutrition. Next hurdle was to find a clinic that would actually dared to do that. I think it would be fair to compare this situation with the abortion doctors in the US. A private clinic was found, and as far as I have understood, its doctors have now protection. She is off support as of yesterday morning and it should take another 3 to 4 days from now for her body to give up. But the craziness didn’t stop here.

The Italian administration (or cabinet as it’s called) yesterday met in a special meeting, to file a decree to forbid this to go through. Prime minister, now the right winged, 72 year old (remember, calling Obama “nicely suntanned” ?) womanizer and media moloch Silvio Berlusconi, had the insane, insulting and indecent brutality to state in public: “as a father, I will NOT take the responsibility for Eluana’s death”. He also stated the woman can still bear children “as she is still having her periods”, suggesting she can be cured. The Vatican immediately marked the decree as “a very courageous decision”. Now the president has to sign every law and decree, but you have to understand, a president in Italy is not a president of say the US: he has no executive powers. In this sense, the president is more like a head of state, a king. President Georgio Napolitano an hour and a half later refused to sign the decree, stating it is against the Italian constitution to file a decree that is going against the judgement of the highest court.

Don’t cheer yet, it’s not over. My prayers (in a non-religious sense) are with poor mr. Englaro. And mr. Napolitano has my deepest respect.

Latest (7-2): Italian parliament will gather Monday to debate. Not a good sign.

Latest (8-2): As expected: inspectors were sent to the clinic and they found “administrative irregularities”, and are trying to prove the clinic is not a sanatorium as spoken of in the last verdict. Pope Benedictus made strong hint in a Sunday speach. And one of the cardinals phoned Napolitano. And the church cheered parliament’s effort to ratify the decree on Monday. Told ya. In a response, Eluana’s father has publicly invited both Berlusconi and Napolitano to the clinic.

Latest (9-2): Police filed a request at the justice department to seize the room where Eluana is dying.

Latest (9-2): She passed away. I will refrain from posting, as well as commenting on the Vatican’s declaration.

Side note one: of course, dozens of people are “let go” of each year in Italy, but that is simply under the surface. One of my siblings is a chief anesthesiologist, say no more. It’s just a private, silence thing.

Side note two: it might seem I am on an anti-religion roll, just after yesterday’s post. I am not. Old men telling others what to live and die for is what gets me. Together with the Richardson drama, this is the fast lane to my disrespect.

February 6th, 2009


Admitted, this is a little bit of a shocker (to some). But then, look at where it came from: Richard Dawkins. Apart from the shock factor, I couldn’t agree more.

Science flies...

Disclaimer: This seems NOT to be the text ad ran by the Atheist Bus Campaign (their donations went 30 times what they asked for!), that ad actually says: “THERE IS PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE”. This pic is probably a photoshop.

Earlier on the nest: The God delusion.

May 1st, 2008

The temple

This is a straight rip from numina (NSFW).

This is my simple religion.
There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.
Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama

December 23rd, 2007

The bomb and the convicted

On October 12th 2002 a massive bomb exploded in the Eks Sari Club on Bali, Indonesia, killing 202 people, most young tourists from Australia. Four of my countrymen lost their lives in the blast too. Later, a total of 26 people were arrested, 3 of which were considered the leaders. They were sentenced to death. Yesterday, all possibilities of appeals were exhausted and the authorities said the 3 will be executed by the fire squad before the end of January.

This is one of those tough cases where initially one, yes, me too, wants to rip apart the lunatic religious fanatics killing so many youngsters just having fun in the dawn of their lives. But then, would it make us, the people, better? Would it really bring closure for the victim’s families? Would it restore tourism in the area? Would it calm the protesting crowds demanding their lives? Would it end the intense fanatical hatred? Would it end the injustice fueling that hate?

Earlier on the nest: The day against death penaltyThe killing, The killing revisited

October 13th, 2007

The wisdom of Ghandi

I never knew he said this. Kinda interesting. Don’t accuse me of Christianity-bashing please, I think this statement is very more interesting if you start swapping the belief-system.

October 8th, 2007

The fools

I truly defend the right for everybody to have their believe system or to speak freely (even if I wholeheartedly disagree), but remodeling a respected man’s work to one’s own and then presenting it as his, is beyond free speach. Fair use excerpt:

Censored versions of Sir David’s award winning programmes have been broadcast in Holland without any references to evolution, speciation, descent and timescales of millions of years, after being censored by Christian creationists who are opposed to Charles Darwin’s ideas.

“Instead of saying “70 million years ago, something happens,” they say “a very long time ago something happens”. They also omit paragraphs such as: “This is inherited from my warm-blooded ancestors,”" Sir David told the Telegraph. “I would much rather they kept to the letter, as far as that is possible, of what I said.”

The edits by the public broadcasting organisation Evangelische Omroep (EO, Evangelical Broadcasting) have triggered howls protests about “deviations and sins of omission” from Dutch scientists, led by Dr Gerdien de Jong, an evolutionary biologist at Utrecht University.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is my country too. Here’s a link of Sir David Attenborough letter to the protestors.

July 5th, 2007

The reverse view

As your foreign reporter (where are the locals?) it’s easy for me to comment on how American issues are viewed here. Now and then I get a mirror too. Fair use from a Boston Globe article.

“People in high political circles are saying it can’t be good to have a society so liberal that everything is allowed,” said Kranendonk, editor of Reformist Daily and an increasingly influential voice that resonates in the shifting mainstream of Dutch public opinion. “People are saying we should have values; people are asking for more and more rules in society.”

In cities across the Netherlands, mayors and town councils are closing down shops where marijuana is sold, rolled, and smoked. Municipalities are shuttering the brothels where prostitutes have been allowed to ply their trade legally. Parliament is considering a ban on the sale of hallucinogenic “magic mushrooms.”

Orthodox Christian members of Parliament have introduced a bill that would allow civil officials with moral objections to refuse to perform gay marriages. And Dutch authorities are trying to curtail the activities of an abortion-rights group that assists women in neighboring countries where abortions are illegal.

Yes folks, here too there is a shift to the administration doing the thinking for us.

February 20th, 2007

The Saudi’s

So. The Saudi’s, the worlds largest oil producers, are our friends, right? They pump us our oil, right? They kinda sorta share our value’s, right? RIGHT?

RIYAD – Saudi-Arabia publicly displayed the bodies of four decapitated Sri-Lankans. After the execution the bodies were tied to wooden bars on a square in a busy part of the capital. The “crucifiction” was meant to counter a wave of criminality by foreigners, according to local media. The convicted were violent gang members, but hadn’t killed anyone. (…) Human rights watchers accuse the kingdom of draconic and random punishment. Executioners decapitate muderers, rapists and drugs traficers in public with a sword.

Where the fuck is CNN??

Furthermore, the western-loyal, extremely loaded, royal family is violently holding the lid on a growing unrest, which is understandably spiced with let’s call it faith issues. Mark my words: they will be our friends for a while, until, suddenly, the gunpowder goes kaboom, and they are not our friends anymore. Hmmmmm, does that sound like Teheran (Iran), but then beefed up??

Added May 16th: by now, the Saudi’s have executed 77 people (by sword), against 37 in all 2006.

November 10th, 2006


I would hate foreigners interfere or even opinionize on our local politics (we can handle that, thank you very much), so I try to return the same service. But, as the US has such an immense influence on the things that go on in the world, good and bad, I think I am entitled to at least say: Congratulations. Congratulations for speaking out, and thank you for hopefully preventing us (again, what happens on your end is your own responsibility) from needing to fly in an orange overall only. Well, I hope.

My kudos today go to, yes, a Republican senator, named Lincoln Chafee, who refuses to vote along party lines on controversial legislation, now that he is defeated.

“The American people have spoken out against the president’s agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy,” the Rhode Island moderate told The Associated Press. “And at this late stage in my term, I’m not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against.”

B.T.W., this is about John Bolton’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.