Wednesday, May 02, 2012

News News: Crime and Punishment

Most mornings, I sit down with my cup of coffee and open up a long list of news sites. The news doesn't always affect my daily life or educate me about the world, but it does reliably fuel a daily two minutes of cathartic hate. In an ongoing effort to entertain inform my readers, I thought I'd highlight some of this week's past stories.

Also, the images are designed for display on the blog. If you're reading on an RSS feed, you can set your background color to #222222 and/or your radio frequency to 104.15 to view it properly. 

In The Hauge, former Liberian President and alleged Lord of War, Charles Taylor was finally found guilty by an international court on 11 counts of aiding war crimes, including charges of rape, torture, using child soldiers, and murder. 

In 1989, he began a rebellion in Liberia, taking control of most of the country within an year, and supporting a rebellion in neighboring Sierra Leone within the next. His services to the Sierra Leone rebels by supplying them with fighters and trafficking Sierra Leone diamonds. The court found his aid was rendered with knowledge of their war crimes, despite his claims that he tried to lead the rebels to a peace deal.

When shitbags like Slobodan Milosevic and Kenneth Lay dodge an open trial because even their hearts don't want to be near them any longer than necessary. When there's no trial that would expose their crimes and publicly label them as the criminals, then others see that there are no consequences for men of power who let their greed and ambition hurt others. Even Muammar Gaddafi and Osama Bin Laden got off easy with bullets to the face. The only development close to this one was the trial and hanging of Saddam Hussein, but I guess here in the States, we don't often equate hangings with justice.

Still though, awful lot of assholes going down these past ten years.

In Syria, 16 to 70 people died in a blast that was either part of a popular uprising, The Syrian Free Army, Islamist militants, or the Syrian government. People are being buried alive. People are being shot in the streets. Gunfights and shelling have continued. This is the UN-brokered cease fire.

Since January of 2011, the Syrian uprising against the al-Assad family (who've ruled the country since 1970) has been raging. It followed the same pattern as the rest of Arab Spring; protests followed with violent suppression, followed by public outrage and stronger protests. Elements of the Syrian armed forces have broken away and began firing on government forces. Citing NATO's overreach of the UN mandate on Libya and concerned over a civil war, Russia has blocked direct action in Syria, causing concerned countries to form Friends of Syria to collectively apply pressure to Bashar al-Assad outside of the UN, while the body count has rolled up to numbers ranging from 4,000 (government estimates, which reports that a third of those security forces) to 9,000 (UN estimates) with tens of thousands of prisoners and about a hundred thousand fleeing the country.

The conflict has continued for over a year and cost 4,000 to 9,000 lives. However, Syria is important because it shows the dangers of the international community's timidity or maybe it shows the wisdom of picking when and where we should intervene. Syria's going to end in one of two ways: Assad wins, continues propping up an oppressive regime, and everyone has to deal with him going forward or Assad flees the country in defeat and an orderly (if unjust) government is replaced by a populist one fashioned by political amateurs with no unifying ideology except hate for that last regime. Maybe Kofi Annan's peace plan will work, but the only real news that will come out of Syria is when it's finally played itself out.

Oh, and that people are dying every day.

The Norwegian asshole that killed 77 people (most of which were kids) and injured over 200 others is going to trial, and the Norwegians are singing him down like he's #*&$ing Darkseid. It might seem like hippy-dippy clapping to give faeries a healing surge, but culture wars aren't fought with bullets, muscles, and bombs. Culture wars are fought with hippy-dippy songs and open trials. Brevik and his counterparts across the world may not be smart enough to realize that, and I hope they never catch on.

But seriously Norway, what's the request process for getting composers deployed to train cultural warriors here in the States? We've got crazy hate-surgency.

All joking aside, first-world justice just isn't cathartic. Brevik's going to be convicted on most charges, maybe acquitted on a few others, and he'll quietly serve 21+ years in prison. There's not a lot of news here until the gavel (or whatever Norwegians use) comes down for the last time or until he gets out of prison.
You guys, China is still being dicks to dissidents, placing a blind guy under house arrest for revealing how authorities forced abortions and sterilizations to enforce China's one child policy. Since he slipped out of house arrest and made his way to the American embassy, his friends and allies have been systemically rounded up by the Chinese.

I'm baffled this is happening. I know we give folks sanctuary. I know China is dicks. I know people in China want to leave. I know these facts will inevitably come together. I wouldn't even know about the abuses Chen Guangcheng uncovered if it wasn't for this happening, so if his goal was to let people know what's going on--and to demonstrate it by getting his friends and family put under Beijing's thumb--then mission accomplished.

But I can't help asking--even if this makes China face its own actions and take another slow step up the stairs of addressing them--what we're going to do with a Chinese activist.


No comments: