September 10th, 2011

The threat

Interesting article in Scientific American. It opens with an interesting perspective.

The CIA notes the annual U.S. death rate is 8.38 fatalities per 1,000 citizens, below that of a country like Nigeria but above other places, such as Uzbekistan. The leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer and car accidents, which killed roughly 1.2 million Americans in 2007, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control—more than half of all fatalities in the country. For comparison, terrorists killed no one in the U.S. that year.

Something to think about when considering where money is best spend.

Disclaimer: While here in Europe, things are slightly more relaxed and not so “TSA-ish”, I have not doubt whatsoever, both the above numbers, the spending on mostly fake security as well as the outrageous invasion on privacy is at least comparable (and I am being kind here). Sigh.


September 23rd, 2009

The pilot

Argentina, 30 years ago, the Dirty War. The military junta has depending on who you believe between 9.000 and 30.000 people arrested, questioned, tortured and “disappear”. The preferred method of killing is to load these poor bastards, mostly trade-unionists, students and activists  in a plane or helicopter, fly out to sea a few hundreds and simply toss them overboard with some extra cement blocks attached. After a civilian administration took over, these crimes have been brought to trial, with mixed success.

Fast forward to yesterday. A Transavia Boeing 737 is about to leave the airport of Valencia (Spain) back home to Amsterdam. The long time Transavia pilot who has both a Dutch and an Argentinean passport is to carry out his last flight before pension. On request of the Argentinean justice department though he  is arrested. He is suspected of having carried out one or more of these flights of death. Sometimes you can run, but you can’t hide.

Nice detail: The Dutch secret service screens every individual who works at Amsterdam airport, including pilots.

Update: The news is all over the place now. Julio P. was already put on an international arrest order by Argentina on March of this year. The Netherlands did not arrest him as he is a Dutch citizen. The fact he was arrested by the Spanish police on his last flight fuels speculation the Dutch tipped off Spanish authorities, but also raises some eyebrows why this was not done earlier. Julio reportedly always defended the “war against left terrorists”, more or less bragged about him being one of these pilots to his colleagues and told them “the crazy mothers should not worry, these people were all drugged before they were dropped into the sea”.

Update: The pilots detention has been extended.

Update: Above mentioned screening by the secret service normally results in a so called “statement of no objection”. Such statements can and sometimes are withdrawn. Transavia has stated Julio P.’s statement of no objection has not been withdrawn.

Update Oct 31: Julio P will be sent to Argentina according to Argentinan newspaper ‘La Nacion’. Innocent until proven guilty, but this does not look good for him. The Spanish government OK-ed his extradition last Friday, but a judge is still to approve it. To avoid being sent to Argentina, his Dutch lawyer asked the Dutch government to also ask P’s extradition to the Netherlands. Interesting legal move, but I doubt if it’ll work.

June 22nd, 2009

Can’t have any of that going on

We’ll be heading down to the Anchorage Assembly meeting Tuesday night to participate in the Anti-Discrimination hearings. For those of you who don’t know, a local Baptist group has tried to xtian filibuster the proceedings with over 500 people giving testimony on why they hate gay people and thus we don’t need anti-discrimination ordinances.

So for Pastor Jerry, just a reminder of what the Bible says is a Traditional Marriage.

h/t Crooks&Liars

January 22nd, 2009

Obama’s first major blunder and he’s only been in office for how long?

Obama wants to appoint George Mitchel a long time Israeli apologist as Middle East envoy. Unless Mitchell has had some sort of religious (and foreign policy) epiphany since he last dealt with issues in the Middle East – we are in a heap of hurt. So it’s business as usual and nothing will be solved, but the U.S. Zionist lobby and my former neighbors in Brooklyn will be happy. Of course I can hope that Mitchel’s experience in Northern Ireland has changed his world view, but if I were betting in Vegas I’d bet against those odds. Too bad for us and the world.

I hope I am wrong!

Just to refresh your memory:

“In October 2000, when 14 out of 15 members of the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israel’s excessive force against civilians, it was the US alone that abstained. Then-US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke threatened to veto any further resolution. The Israeli government rejected any fact-finding commission that might be authorized by the UN, insisting it would be nothing but a “kangaroo court,” and instead demanded an investigation led by the US. Shortly thereafter, the parties agreed to accept a fact-finding commission led by former US Senator George Mitchell, not under UN auspices.”


August 6th, 2008

They got him, revisited

I will add here and there some news about the case against Radovan Karadzic in The Hague. and add that to the original post. When I do that, I will bump this one up as a reminder. Added Judge profile.

August 5th, 2008

The olympics

This is the best comment I read in ages.

There’s been questions coming our way about the olympics – are we going to promote it on The Pirate Bay or not. The answer is ‘No!’

First of all, sports are not that interesting! Politics however is. Helping out promoting a country like China is not in anyones interest besides their oppressive government. I’m quite surprised that the discussions about China versus human rights have been so quiet during the olympics. In my opinion the olympics should never be held in a country like that.

I feel a bit sick in my body when I see that journalists are upset that they would have to use a restricted Internet during their stay in China – and that they’re OK with going there anyhow, when the restrictions are lifted for them, personally. It’s sickening! Everybody needs to demand freedom for the people, not only freedom for some lucky ones. It’s spineless.

My emphasis. Peter is “Pirate Bay“. Thanks.

July 21st, 2008

They got him

Radovan Karadzic, one of the prime commanders in the Yugoslavian genocide is arrested. He’ll be here in The Hague soon, probably within 3 days. The camera crews are already stationed at the gate.

Prosecutor Serge Brammertz welcomes the arrest today of Radovan Karadži?, the war-time President of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was a fugitive from justice for almost 13 years – the first indictment against him was confirmed on 24 July 1995.

In relation to the arrest, Prosecutor Brammertz stated the following:

“I was informed by our colleagues in Belgrade about the successful operation which resulted in the arrest of Radovan Karadži?. On behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor, I would like to congratulate the Serbian authorities, especially the National Security Council, Serbia’s Action Team in charge of tracking fugitives and the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, on achieving this milestone in cooperation with the ICTY.

This is a very important day for the victims who have waited for this arrest for over a decade. It is also an important day for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the law and that sooner or later all fugitives will be brought to justice.”

The date of Radovan Karadži?’s transfer into the Tribunal’s custody will be determined in due course.

What this former psychologist is accused of:

  • Authorizing the 43 month siege and shelling of Sarajevo, killing 12.000
  • Architecting the raid on Srebrenica and the subsequent execution of 8.000 men and boys
  • Ordering the systematic arrest, torture, rape and killing of women and children

One down, two to go: Mladic and Hadzic.

Added July 30th: He’s been transported to The Hague (Den Haag).

Added August 1st: He has been brought to the court. He’s detained closby in the prison of Scheveningen (I will write about that later). You can see the opening session here (skip the Dutch introduction and start arounf 10:30 into the item). Here is the man we recognize again from the 90′s before he disappeared, not the beared thick glassed doctor we saw recently in the newspapers.

Added August 7th: If you watched that video mentioned above, you already good a good look on the preseding judge, Alphons Orie. While the International Court is located in The Hague, he is the only Dutchman in the courts 32 team of judges. You will also have noted while being very polite and nice, he will, as is far more custum in our legal system than in the Anglo-Saxon system, interrupt, ask questions and be part of the trial. A good and comprehensive profile can be found here.

June 22nd, 2008

The last ones

Of the last 4 on the suspect list of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, one, Stojan Zupljanin, was arrested 10 days ago near Belgrade. It took a while to get him to the UN prison in The Hague, as he claimed an identity mix up.

Župljanin, the most senior police officer in the so-called Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK) in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 conflict and later an advisor to fugitive Radovan Karadži?, stands accused of involvement in a campaign to eliminate and permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from the area between April and December 1992.

The prosecution holds him responsible for murder, persecution, torture and deportation of non-Serb civilians, as well as for wanton destruction of towns, villages and religious institutions in numerous municipalities.

According to the indictment, Župljanin had overall authority and responsibility for the functioning of the police within the region concerned and as such commanded the units which participated in the perpetration of the crimes.

And the list goes on. One down, three to go: Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic.

Just to be perfectly clear on this: these guys should and will get a fair trial (other than the thousands they organized to be killed and raped and the ten thousands who were driven from their territory). If found guilty, they will be locked away for a long, long time.

May 27th, 2008

The human rights failure

Amnesty calls out again (full report here), especially on the Western countries, including Europe, which is especially nailed against the wall for helping rendition (read: unlawful deportation of suspects).

“2007 was characterised by the impotence of Western governments and the ambivalence or reluctance of emerging powers to tackle some of the world’s worst human rights crises, ranging from entrenched conflicts to growing inequalities which are leaving millions of people behind,” said Ms Khan. (…)

“2008 presents an unprecedented opportunity for new leaders coming to power and countries emerging on the world stage to set a new direction and reject the myopic policies and practices that in recent years have made the world a more dangerous and divided place,” said Ms Khan.

Amnesty International challenged governments to set a new paradigm for collective leadership based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The most powerful must lead by example,” said Ms Khan.

  • China must live up to the human rights promises it made around the Olympic Games and allow free speech and freedom of the press and end “re-education through labour”.
  • The USA must close Guantánamo detention camp and secret detention centres, prosecute the detainees under fair trial standards or release them, and unequivocally reject the use of torture and ill-treatment.
  • Russia must show greater tolerance for political dissent, and none for impunity on human rights abuses in Chechnya.
  • The EU must investigate the complicity of its member states in “renditions” of terrorist suspects and set the same bar on human rights for its own members as it does for other countries.

Ms Khan warned: “World leaders are in a state of denial but their failure to act has a high cost. As Iraq and Afghanistan show, human rights problems are not isolated tragedies, but are like viruses that can infect and spread rapidly, endangering all of us.” (…)
“There is a growing demand from people for justice, freedom and equality.”

It’s about time isn’t it? It seems to boil down to: Western governments are both sitting on their hands when major human rights violations occur (yes, shouting while sitting on your hands is entirely possible), as well as undermine human rights within their own territory.

Europe remains a magnet for those seeking to escape persecution, violence or poverty, but still fails them with repressive approaches to irregular migration. Security is a paramount concern of states across the region, yet it is consistently undermined by those who privilege it over human rights in the name of counter-terrorism, or blatantly abuse it to stifle dissent or resist a challenge to the status quo.

The region is still unsafe territory for the countless victims of domestic violence.

It is also sadly true that this region, which regards itself as a beacon of human rights, still embraces a yawning gap between rhetoric and reality, standards and application, principles and performance.

States that entered voluntarily into the various commitments of the regional institutions, have equally voluntarily evaded their obligations – attacking and eroding human rights, and failing to find the political will needed to address key abuses.

Emphasis added. Read the full report here. No worries, ALL parts of the world get their fair share.

April 18th, 2008

The European Court of Human Rights

The ECHR is an interesting court. It is not an appeal court above national or even European institutes, as one might think. It is not part of the European Union, but an institute of the Council of Europe, of which 47 countries are member. It’s goal is to spread democracy and human rights.

The court only adheres to one single “law”, the The European Convention on Human Rights. The convention states ethical and human rights guidelines. Every citizen of the member states can individually appeal on this convention, first at the national courts, but appealing all the way up to the ECHR in Strassbourg (which is located in North-Eastern France). In fact the only defendant is ones own country.

The ECHR has a backlog of about 80.000 cases. A serious restructuring has to be done, but Russia is the only country blocking that. It is believed this is the result of convictions by the ECHR in several cases revolving issues in Chechen (Tsjetsjen).

(…) Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948;

Considering that this Declaration aims at securing the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared;

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is the achievement of greater unity between its members and that one of the methods by which that aim is to be pursued is the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Reaffirming their profound belief in those fundamental freedoms which are the foundation of justice and peace in the world and are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend;

Being resolved, as the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration, (…)