Wednesday, February 27, 2008

'Hot seat' for women?

It is absolutely unacceptable how the media is treating Hillary Clinton. Debate after a debate I watch her being grilled, disrespected, interrupted, not allowed to finish. They are simply obnoxious to her. Even the Bush administration, responsible for all the crisis in this country, is not being treated like that. She is put in a 'hot seat' and frankly, Obama is enjoying cushions. You can search in this entire country and will find only a few other individuals as accomplished as Hillary Clinton. Yet she gets zero respect. What happened to the manners of these so-called 'gentlemen'? After all, a lady is sitting before them and not just an ordinary lady, but a First Lady of one of the most successful Presidents of this country! This is a woman whose name can righteously be placed in the list with the most accomplished American figures and as a President she would also find her place among Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. I think, at the very least she deserves some courteous treatment...

Is this sexism? You bet it is. Of course, they are afraid to attack Obama for fear of being named 'racist' and raising the unified anger of the African-American community. They have decided that it is worse to be called racist than sexist. Even in the news I hear deplorable comments about sexism being somehow more politically acceptable than racism. Since when did that happen? To me, discimination is discrimination, no matter what is the basis. All types are equally reprehensible. It is breaking my heart to see such blatant sexism in our society!

My question is this, is it a 'democracy' when the media and the elites have already unofficially decided that Obama should be the next President and are pushing that agenda at all costs. How are people going to vote when all they see in the newspapers is bad 'vibe' about Hillary and ecstacy for Obama?! If your definition of democracy means poisoning people into compliance with your agenda with the help of the TV box, your definition is not mine. Let them treat these two candidates equally and with equal respect and courtesy and then whoever wins, it is earned. I think this whole process and this entire contest is ridiculous, not real and unfair... It is a comedy, a farce!

The same will happen in November elections. Only that time the media and the elites will eulogize John McCain and will push their agenda on you. The same thing happened in 2000, 2004...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Elections' 2008 in Armenia

After fake and falsified elections-- similar to elections during the Soviet Union-- on February 19 there was an installment of a new Armenian President (full story). Sources are telling me that people were paid 5,000 in local money to elect the new President, Serzh Sarkisyan. This is a man loyalist to the previous President, Robert Kocharyan, who should be held responsible for a series of very obnoxious human rights violations and crimes during his Presidency.

Armenia currently similar to a Third World Country with some rare exceptions in rare categories is enmeshed in poverty, corruption and no real hope for any sort of uplifting. Justice has simply left this little country. While people are becoming more and more angry with the current situation-- protests and demonstrations in Yerevan are continuing-- there is no real chance for any type of democracy...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Human rights law

Learning international human rights law begins from learning about the core human rights treaties. These treaties are crucial because they provide the roadmap and structural basis for customary international law in this area. Then the next step is to read the case law of various international tribunals interpreting these treaties and how they relate to customary international law. And the case law is also interpreted by various international law scholars, publicists whose authoritative opinions make-up another major source of international law. The whole international law is a circle connecting treaties to practice, practice to case law, case law to scholarship and back to treaties... Of course, the whole circle is given light and energy by world politics.

For core international human rights treaties visit

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Terrorism-- crime against humanity

Recently there has been much scholarly discussion about the international law definition of terrorism and exceptions to it. While understanding the complexity of possible exceptions and exemptions, I have no difficulty of defining terrorism as a crime against humanity. And a crime against humanity is defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. I do not feel the need for another separate definition for an act of terror. I understand the scholars' concerns about the abuse of the term to include also acts of political dissidence or claims for self-determination. Guerrilla warfare used as a tool to defend one's country against 'occupiers' potentially is exempt. For example, I do not think the Palestinians fighting for their land or seeking self-determination are 'terrorists.' It would be absurd to claim that. But who is the target? That is the question. Essentially an act of terror is violence against civilians, not armed forces, therefore it is a crime against the whole humanity, not a particular nation. For example, the 9-11 was a crime against humanity and that is the reason that the whole world not only the US was shaken by it. The difficulty arises when during an armed conflict civilians also die because of deliberate lack of differentiation. How do you then draw the line? During the Lebanon-Israeli crisis last year the Human Rights Watch was disturbed by Israel's lack of differentiation resulting in many civilian deaths on the Lebanese side. Is that an act of terror or an unhappy by-product of war/armed conflict? After all, we all know that war means deaths not only of armed soldiers but unfortunately and most dreadfully of innocent civilians. The 9-11 and Benazir Bhutto's killing were classic acts of terror but other events are really harder to pin down. My issue is not how to define terrorism, but how to classify certain events under its column (related issues). Another problem is how to attribute terror acts to states? When certain states covertly assist various terrorist organizations by sponsoring, financing, giving them refuge on their territories, aren't they also responsible? But then isn't that a dangerous road to take? Then we would authorize ourselves to attack these states in 'preemptive self-defense'. How reasonable is that? Is that right? Should innocent civilians pay the heavy price of acts done by certain criminals?

Now another challenge is to find an appropriate international criminal forum for trying individuals/groups charged with this crime. Similar to ICTY and ICTR we need an impartial tribunal to try these folks. Then we would eliminate the whole problem/unlawfulness of Guantanamo-like detentions. I think we already have such a tribunal-- the ICC. The only problem is to convince the United States that ICC should be the appropriate place for trying these individuals. The next step for the United States is to ratify the Rome Statute and deliver these detainees to the Hague...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

'Health care-- fundamental human right!'

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

This potentially is interpreted to mean that everyone should have health care provided by the government. Yet the United States has been lagging behind in this. Countries like Sweden and Norway have pretty well-run universal health care systems (here) and (here).

The critics say that the quality of such a system would be diminished greatly. Well, currently, I do not think we have any quality in the health care system in the US. I dread visiting doctors foremost because I do not have health insurance and when I visit them once a year, I do not get to see a doctor. A nurse talks to me for 5 minutes and then I get a bill for a ridiculous amount without having gotten any medical advice. I am just hoping to remain healthy while worried about my parents. So to suggest that a government-subsidized program would lower the quality is simply nonsensical. There can be both quality and universal health care. Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who is offering universal health care. She fought hard for it passionately in the past and will continue fighting for it. Indeed when she says, 'health care is a fundamental human right,' she reminds me of Eleanor Roosevelt, who supplied the great spiritual power for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Perhaps we need a modern Eleanor Roosevelt like Hillary to fill the gap of needed reform...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Read an insightful article on why the US is in economic crisis due to its exorbitant military expenditures in Le Monde. Well, people should also read more about how really the Soviet Union collapsed-- its inability to withstand the crazy arms race. The US has not learned from the lessons of the Soviet Union and is dragging itself to the similar disaster. Unfortunately, the foremost Republican presidential candidate is not considering the situation when proposes continuation of the war in Iraq.

Turkey and EU

Turkey has long worked to join the European Union. It is a candidate country. But most Europeans, as suggested by studies and analysis, are not willing to embrace Turkey into their Union for a host of reasons. First, culture and religion. While Turkey strives to be a secular state, its Constitution is strongly cultural in enshrining extreme nationalism, Ata-Turk. Culture is the strongest link to religion. Given the recent wave of Islamic extremism, Europeans are expressing deep concerns over Turkey's cultural heritage. Second, very importantly, the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide and the historic battle with Greece over Cyprus is really disappointing to many Europeans, especially Austria, Germany and France (here). Jacques Chirac, the former French President, repeatedly mentioned this issue when faced with Turkey's bid for the membership. (here) While UK is the most optimistic, given US-Turkish relations and the NATO membership, most Europeans are simply pessimistic. Given Germany's full acknowledgment of its past atrocities and the Jewish Holocaust, Turkish denial seems so immoral to most conscientious Europeans.

The studies have in fact shown that Europeans are much more willing to embrace Russia into the EU, which is elevating and inspiring for many Russians, who for decades felt deprived of any good-will on part of Western European countries. The Cold War legacy and Western criticism of Putin's policies are still a challenge for this process. But Russians seem very optimistic that they will overcome those. (here)

Another issue must be mentioned. It is not only cultural and ideological concerns that dominate in the minds of Europeans. The influx of immigrants from Islamic countries and the economic recession in Europe make Europeans (like Americans) resist immigrants and any more members joining EU. After all, joining the EU would mean fully taking part of the economic advantages.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Seabirds-- Endangered Species

It is really heart-aching to watch how the recent oil spills and the global climate change have made seabirds endangered species along with many others. In the recent ecological disaster in the Black Sea an estimated 30,000 seabirds died (here). More of them died in the San Francisco oil spill. Six species of seabirds are proposed to be added to the long and not ending list of endangered species (here).

While the official list of world-wide endangered species does not seem to be long (here), it is really non-exclusive.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Failed vision

It is really pathetic to listen to the Republican presidential candidates. With all due respect, I fear they all have some sort of amnesia or basically play dumb to the American people. While Bush’s rating is the lowest imaginable, they push the same agenda of the Bush administration. Regarding the Iraq war, their message is the same, 'we won’t leave until we win.' They are feeding us with the recent temporary ‘success.’ First, we are not winning the war on Iraq. Turn off the TV and get online to read some European or other sources on what is really happening in Iraq—constant sectarian violence and insecurity. To suggest that because there has been some reduction of casualties, we are winning the war, is simply ridiculous. Second, contrary to the assertion of McCain, the American presence in Iraq is very much about casualties. He is stressing that it is the American casualties, not the American presence that we should worry the most about. How can he say that when the target of the extremists is the American soldier on the ground?!

While I agree with the Democrats that leaving without good planning and some sort of safety net for the friendly Iraqi government is wrong, Republicans are dead wrong in their vision on Iraq. I think they will lose the election with that message.

Second, again and again, these people are talking about permanent tax cuts for the few in the face of economic stagnation and poverty. How do they intend to finance their plans in Iraq when they do not want to get some revenues for the government by raising the taxes for the rich? Continue borrowing from China? They talk about cutting the spending of the federal government, but definitely not in the military, since they want to continue the catastrophic war. So, all they are saying, we will bankrupt this nation by a 100 year long commitment in the Middle Eastern mess without changing this administration’s failed policies and we will continue driving the middle class into poverty by cutting the federal government’s ability to do something. So, spending in defense will continue, tax cuts for the rich will continue, the deficit will continue, and the federal government will continue its impotent existence giving in to ‘states’ rights’. How honest are they when they claim Democrats are about 'big government' when their military defense spending exceeds any proportions proposed by Democrats. You need to understand that currently most of the federal money goes into defense and the Iraq war. So, their argument for reducing spending and continuing the war is fiction.

They are worried about the recession and praise the values of free markets and business without realizing that we are in recession precisely because of free unregulated market and predatory business acts. Shouldn’t they read more about how FDR took the country out of the Great Depression essentially by semi-socialist policies?

All they talk about is how Lincoln and Reagan were great Presidents without really understanding why. First, none of them has understood that Lincoln was really not a Republican. We all know of the great shift in American politics at the end of the 19th century. The Democrats of the South during the Civil War in fact became the Republicans of today and the Republicans of the Union are the Democrats of today. So, to suggest that Lincoln was Republican is simply nonsensical. He was Republican only in the name. While Reagan was a Republican, by the end of his Presidency, the economy was beginning to get into a recession.

A lot of people simply cannot understand that today Republicans have a failed vision on most issues affecting this country. How do they hope to win these elections—by misinformation, skewed reality and appealing to conservative ideals that dominate in many states and many portions of our society. In these elections, conservative or liberal, all should vote for Democrats because while Democrats can be conservative, Republicans never try to be liberal. I also would like to suggest that conservative versus liberal dichotomy does not perfectly coincide with the Democrat-Republican division.

My point is that even if you are conservative, you have to vote for Democrats if you want change from Bush.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Poverty Olympics

On February 3 Raise the Rates Coalition in Vancouver, Canada is hosting its 'Poverty Olympics.' The organizers have chosen the name to bring the attention not only of the Canadian government but also of the world on the number of homeless and extremely poor in Canada. As one of the organizers suggested in bitterness, people coming to Vancouver for 2010 Winter Olympics will only see beatiful hotels and resorts, having no idea that the number of homeless in Vancouver is many times more than the number of athletes visiting from all over the world. The Olympic games have an enormous influence in bringing people from all over the world together. And so it is precisely the time to come together against poverty and realize that we are all in it together. An apt analogy by the coalition.

read more here and here