Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The blind leading the blind

This painting entitled 'The Blind Lead the Blind' was painted by Peter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569), a great Renaissance painter from Netherlands. Inspired by the tenets of Renaissance, with particular focus of reneging on the frozen scholasticism of the Middle Ages, Bruegel was trying to portray how blind were those clinging to ossified religious dogmas... The pogress of the Renaissance was not at all denying the existence of God, but uplifting the individual, the free homo sapiens, in charge/control of its destiny.

Positioning this painting in today's reality would seem not so apt. However, given how our society and the world in general are going in the wrong direction all the time, it seems the painting is still of strong contemporary value. Dogmas (not only religious!) persist and many people are simply attached to them, by virtue of upbringing, affiliations, culture, ethnicity, race, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, the blind are led by the blind all the time. We get what we deserve. At the very least, I would hope, the blind would be led and given direction by those who are not blind...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24th

This statue entitled 'Mother Armenia' was erected in Yerevan, Armenia in 1967. Today, in remembrance of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide, this statue should symbolize the determination of the humanity never again to repeat the history!!! The Mother will be a vigilant guard for our safety, dignity, and peace for all times...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Power and greatness

Character is tested in crisis. One arrives at power and greatness after many tests, after a long cataclysmic journey. Hillary Clinton is my hero because she has emerged as the true leader, real leader capable of filling the leadership vacuum present in America for many years. She has got the power! She has got the character and strength to withstand all those challenges awaiting this country, this century. I respected her even more when she stood up to the podium and claimed what has never been claimed by an American woman. I respected her even more when she refused to drop out of the race that was tilting towards her opponent and is still not over. She refused to waver. She refused to be weak on the face of constant bombardment, sexism, bias, hypocrisy. She has arrived at greatness...

None of her opponents and no one among today's political elites have the greatness, the power, the character, the strength of this woman! We want, we need a leader like her! If we, Americans, do not bestow her with the ultimate leadership role, we will lose for many generations to come...

Join us in support for Hillary Clinton!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Poverty-- violation of human rights

We, 'armchair spectators', talk a lot about human rights, how they are identified, limited, enforced. One thing, however, strikes me. We focus a lot on violence-- armed conflict, wars, etc. Of course, we should be greatly concerned with the degree of violence generated by humanity. But much too often we forget another important condition, as important as the level of violence in the world-- that is poverty. We view poverty as a product of unequal distribution of wealth and unfortunate consequence of market failure. We view the degree of poverty with less negativity and less condemnation than the oppression of civil liberties and violence. But in my opinion poverty is a violation of human rights as much as a genocide. Extreme poverty results in slow deterioration, degradation of human life, a real torture. While not specifically inflicted by another human being, starvation and hunger bring about slow death of a human being. Extreme levels of poverty, those we see in Africa, China, India and Indonesia are prime examples of human rights violations.

Reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we can gather that a human being has a right to life in dignity, to enjoy basic needs of life, such as food, shelter, health. Those are the most basic human rights. After those we have other more secondary rights. But basic human existence dictates some level of livelihood. While violence does negate that, so does extreme poverty, so does hunger. Under international law states are responsible to enforce human rights. Therefore a state that is not capable of eliminating extreme poverty is violating most basic human rights. We focus a lot on states, for example in the Middle East, that have militaristic tendencies. But we do not focus enough on states, those in Africa, that are completely incompetent in providing for their people. While violence and poverty are interconnected, the causal link is not always clear or projected. Does violence breed poverty, or the opposite is true?

Coining certain acts as violations of human rights as opposed to others is also a very political process. Africa will never be in the center of attention nearly as much as the Middle East. Iraq and Iran have received hundred times more attention in recent years than Sudan or Somalia. Of course, nobody even bothered to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 while Yugoslavia received bonuses of accelerated action.

I think, it is time for spectators to take account of certain pronounced disparities in the world arena and start a new identification system for human rights violations.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Freedom, Liberte, Свобода

Horses are free animals, not attached to anything or anyone. If you put the heavy bridle on them, they will run away and never come back... Remember that! Freedom, freedom, freedom is their essence... I think, we as humans are not very different from them. The Declaration of Independence and the French Revolutionary principles (Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite starting off first and foremost with Liberte) come to mind... Freedom of the individual, while not absolute, is a cherished right and should never be underestimated!
Click here for Vladimyr Vysotsky's 'Horses'

(Vysotsky, about whom I posted on this blog below, wrote and sang this song during the dark Soviet years, when his desperate struggle for freedom was doomed. He had to use metaphoric concept of horses to make his point about the repression/oppression of his times).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Moment of silence

April 24th is the Remembrance Day for the Armenian Genocide. Join me in this solemn duty not only for all Armenians all around the world, but for all of humanity!

A moment of silence is sometimes required to fill the halls of human conscience-- often slumbering and deaf...

Click here for Arthur Meschian

Diluted and trivialized

As a criminal defense attorney I am always frustrated with two things (among many others): 1) misinformation/fudging of truth in police reports, 2) confessions/admissions by my clients following their arrests. The interesting thing is that many of my clients perceive police officers as their 'friends', on their side, and they decide to tell their side of the story to them more readily than sometimes to their own lawyer. What is up with that? Even in court they decide to waive their rights and speak to the judge, for example. As soon as I see my client open his/her mouth in the court, I tell them very undiplomatically 'shut your mouth, please.' I lecture them for hours and hours not to talk to anyone about their case, no matter how innocent they think they are. They say, 'if everyone knows about my story, they will see how innocent I am.' Yeah, right.

Do me a favor, please, write this short statement on a card and keep it in your car, at home and treat it as your Bible:

My lawyer has instructed me not to talk to anyone about my case or anything else, and not to answer questions or reply to accusations. On advice of counsel and on the grounds of my rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, I shall talk to no one in the absence of counsel. I shall not give any consents or make any waivers of my legal rights. Any requests for information or for consent to conduct searches or seizures or investigations affecting my person, papers, property, or effects should be addressed to my lawyer: (name of your laywer and phone number). I want all communications with the authorities henceforth to be made only through my lawyer. I request that my lawyer be notified and allowed to be present if any identification confrontations, tests, examinations, or investigations of any sort are conducted in my case, and I do not consent to any such confrontations, tests, examinations, or investigations.

Lately, Miranda rights (and a host of other rights) have been trivialized and diluted. If only Justices Warren, Marshall and Brennan could have predicted all of this... So, unless you as an individual know your rights beforehand and invoke them, nobody will do that for you and believe me, no one will 'scrupulously honor' them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Three-party race?

The road to the White House has turned into a three-party race. Or at least that is the impression. Working class/lower middle class-- for Hillary Clinton. The elites/academia/professionals-- for Barack Obama. The rich and military-- for John McCain.

Democrat vs. Republican is not the point any longer. First, John McCain is not a traditional Republican. His record suggests pseudo-Republican ideology. At the very least he is a moderate Republican.
Hillary Clinton is a centrist, with a deep commitment to the middle class, specifically with a lifelong passion for health care reform. Even with her working-class platform, she is a centrist. The Republican whining that she is a 'socialist' is so off the point and totally ludicrous.

As for Barack Obama, he has issues that I cannot reconcile with. While he is running a pretty liberal platform, he often sounds like Reagan. In his quest to raise above partisan politics and refresh the ideological/dogmatic stalemate of our politics, he loses his identity and is lost in his own voice. In his quest to 'unify' and bring people together, he turns into a chameleon who changes his/her mind to please everyone at a given time. Or he simply tries to have a 'sophisticated' approach to everything, for example, to Affirmative Action. Too sophisticated! At a difficult moment, when a decision has to be made, you have to side with one theory over the other. I simply cannot get a straight answer from him on any issue. Sometimes he just looks like a law professor, using a Socratic method to confuse and berate a student. I do not think an ordinary individual is up for the Socratic method from a politician. It also looks a bit arrogant...

Three-party race? Pseudo-Republican, centrist, pseudo-Democrat... Huh...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

ASIL annual meeting

The ASIL is currently having its 102nd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. entitled the Politics of International Law. This is one of the most prominent international law societies in the United States. I wish, I could be there. See here for more information. I definitely recommend attending this meeting for international law fans.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Possible to eradicate poverty?

From the UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2007 I gathered that while the poorest in the world have become a little less poor, the gap between the rich and poor has increased in many places. The goals are not any different from year to year, but actions and level of awareness change from year to year...

A question is bothering many-- is it possible to eradicate poverty in the world? Many have offered quite plausible theories and proposed pretty good plans. But it seems poverty has become a simple by-product of human existence. Perhaps humans create it by virtue of their very existence... A dim observation to reckon with or to put up with.