Sunday, June 28, 2009

The last few days of June

AOG, Madrid

What a week, what a week. A week for freedom in more ways than one.

First off the continuing struggle for freedom in Iran and the search for truth defies the will of the Ayatollahs.

As if that were not enough, shock horror, Farrah Fawcett died. My favourite Angel.

But, wonders did not cease, since a few hours later, Michael Jackson died too, trumping and obliterating any further mention of Ms. Fawcett’s struggle with cancer.

Both artists are, in their own way, free from the struggles their daily lives, according to the press, had become. I wish them happiness.

Come Sunday, Honduras stages a Coup, and president Manuel Zelaya is kidnapped by the Honduran Army and flown to Costa Rica, from where he stages a press conference and assures all and sundry that he will remain as President elect until next year.

Soon enough, Hugo Chávez and Cuba started their outpour of support.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MIchael Jackson

AOG, Madrid

In 1977 Elvis passed away. My family were living in Mexico. I still remember watching the news and not knowing who the "King" was.

I remember waiting for my mother to come home to tell her about it. She knew who he was. She was sad and surprised.

Yesterday, another king passed away.

His music has been in my life for as long as I can remember.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

Rock With You

These songs populated my childhood before I even knew who he was.

I remember the event that was Thriller. We were in Houston then. Everyone was talking about it. I remember thinking that the song was ok, but the video was something else. Here was a different scale.

A different magnitude associated with music and a performer.

And even more hits:

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
The Girl Is Mine
Beat It
Billie Jean
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)

These songs stood out in my mind. Their sound, their feel. I don’t know. Magic?

When Bad came out, we were living in San Antonio. More great sounds.

The Way You Make Me Feel

Another Part Of Me

Man In The Mirror

I Just Can't Stop Loving You

Dirty Diana

In 1991 my family had moved to London. Another great album- Dangerous -, yet my interest had begun to wane slightly. Obviously other things occupied my mind.

But there were still good songs to play as background music to my life:

Remember The Time

Heal The World

Black Or White

It was in London when the press first started to pick on him. Or at least it was there where I first became aware of it.

From then on, the albums just seemed to re-release old stuff. I don’t know what happened.

He became more farce than real. His life, his skin, his children, he himself grew out of all proportion.

Finally yesterday he passed away. I was not aware of it, but a small part of me passed away with him. I guess it is true what they say, you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.

Wherever he is, I hope he is happy. He left a great legacy behind.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Iran 2009

AOG, Madrid

The past few days have shown the less friendly face of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I have read testimony after testimony of the protesters in Iran regarding their Government. Many of them, perhaps most, are amazed at the actions of their Government. Some say that they cannot believe that an Iranian would ever harm another Iranian. Disbelief seemed to permeate the early stages of the, in my opinion, soon to be aborted Iranian version of the Orange Revolution.

Certainly the people in charge will ensure that they remain in charge for a long time to come. As with China and Tiananmen Square 20 years ago last month, so with Iran.

It everything points towards that being the ultimate outcome of this national happening, if that is the word that can be allowed to describe the recent events in that country.

Today it surfaces that president elect Ahmadineyad is asking the US for a formal apology, all the while the G8 condemns and threatens to isolate Iran even further.

My question is, how much can one isolate a country already isolated? And what purpose will this solve?

I wonder what kind of brainwashing must go on in authoritarian regimes that its own population seems to believe time and time and again that it is somehow impervious to the greater evils of its Government?

Time after time History has shown that authoritarian, as well as pariah, states are the first to turn their might against their own citizens. True, democracies are known to do this as well, but never like these countries do. Never on that scale.

So I wonder what it is that people get told to make them think that their form of Government is benign, when the rest of the planet seems to think otherwise.

Where is the criteria that allows people to understand that any state which calls for the destruction of another (like Iran and Israel and, lately, North Korea and the US), is far from benign. Far from just. And far from sane.

Perhaps it is a sign of weakness the fact that the Ayatollahs endeavour to harm their citizens so freely. However, as with China, I’m sure that just as they can fool people into thinking they are a force for the greater good, they can also fool them into thinking that they are still powerful. And that Iran will not withstand, under any circumstances, any more revolutions other than the 1978 Islamic one.

Nevertheless, according to French philosopher and writer Bernard Henri-Levy, "Whatever happens, the people know, from this point on, that they are the people and that there is not a regime on earth that can remain in power against the people", as he wrote for the Huffington Post in reference to Iran's situation.

I wish he were right, but then I think of China, Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and a host of authoritarian regimes intent of maintaining power no matter what, and I can't help but disagree.

PS: According to today's Guardian, Mousavi is
defying the Government's crackdown and accuses his opponents of an "evil conspiracy". Is there hope yet for change, positive change, in Iran?

Friday, June 19, 2009

French Wants To Study Burqa Wear, May Ban It In Public

AOG, Madrid

Should France ban the burka? Why not? When Western women move to Islamic countries they are required to observe their customs and often have to wear some sort of head covering in many (though not all) of them.

To ask people living in your country to observe your country's accepted way of dress, though in imposition, is not the worse thing you can be asked to do. Nowhere in the Koran does it state that women HAVE to wear a Burka.

It is a cultural, rather than a religious, custom. Is a woman any less Islamic for not wearing this type of dress? Obviously not, yet religious fanatics attach belief to cultural practice and sell it as dogma. This, of course, always in detriment of women.

I think it is plainly obvious that the main problem with Islamic fanaticism is its treatment of women rather than if women have a choice to wear the burka or not.

If you are the type of man who will not allow his wife to leave the house covered from head to toe, then Western society has a problem with your treatment of your wife, not with your religion, unless your religious views color your actions in regard to your wife.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, June 18, 2009


AOG, Madrid

Iran is on a knife-edge, with millions of voters taking to the streets in outrage as evidence mounts that the government may have massively rigged and stolen last Thursday's election.

The Islamic regime has cracked down brutally on the protesters and is imposing a blackout on Iranian society - shutting down domestic and international media, the internet and even text-messaging. For many, it the best thing that could have happened to Twitter.

The voice of Iranians may have been silenced at the polling booth, now the regime is attempting to silence them everywhere else.

Facing beatings and gunfire, the opposition, according to Western media, is organising mass demonstrations and a general strike.

This election is of international importance. Iran is a major regional power, and the international community is seeking diplomatic engagement that holds a key to peace in the Middle East.

The conservative Guardian Council, headed by a key Ahmadinejad ally, is reviewing the vote over the next 9 days.

According to some Western media, “There is a real possibility that democracy will prevail.”

However, just because a regime allows for elections, a voting booth, and an electoral list, this does not mean it is a democracy, nor that the elections are free.

Ultimate power in Iran lies with Ayatollah Khamenei, who may have backed the rigging - but he is hired and fired by the Assembly of Experts, chaired by ex-President Rafsanjani who has condemned vote-fixing.

If Rafsanjani and allies can get enough votes on the Assembly this week, they can press to re-open the results, even to remove Khamenei from power.

But will any of this happen?

The Islamic Revolution came into power back in the 1970s in a similar way, and the religious right took over the country.

Is the West not expecting too much in hoping that a recount, if it goes ahead, will show a true vote count?

Are we to think that the regime will welcome change peacefully?

Of course, it could also turn out that Ahmadineyad won the election fair and square.

But the current state of affairs in the country certainly points to a feeling of insatisfaction within the Iranian population.

Even if the election was not rigged, there is obviously a certain malaise in the country which the ruling oligarchy would do well to address. Sooner rather than later.

Here are some international sources:

1. The Guardian: "Iran's regime cracks down on opposition and media", 16 June 2009

2. Al-Jazeera: "Supreme Leader Under Pressure", 15 June 2009

3. "Evidence that the Iranian Presidential Election Was Stolen", Juan Cole, 13 June 2009

4. More detailed analysis by a polling expert of "fishy numbers" in the results announced by the interior ministry.

5. One of many active live-blogs.

6. #IranElections - live, unfiltered updates via Twitter from Iran and around the world

North Korea May Fire A Missile Toward Hawaii

AOG, Madrid

The struggle during the Cold War made for a, sort of, peaceful world (in its own radical and paranoid way) where tensions were drawn out through proxy countries, but what about today? It isn't just the "good" guys these days who have their finger on the button.

Yes, it is so cool that nowadays any tinpot little dictator can get his mittens on nuclear weapons and threaten the planet, just like the tinpot little democracies which invented the dammed thing in the first place.

Modernity so rules!

I wonder how long before we blow each other to pieces in the name of...wait, what was it again?
About North Korea
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Obama Shoe Photo Seen As "Insult" By Some Israelis

AOG, Madrid

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Is the sole of Obama's shoe such a major event that Israel can no longer go ahead with the peace plan?

Will Palestine no longer be a state because of this photograph?

I think this is all about trying to distract from the main issues. Fine. Whatever. Get a grip and get on with things. Peace awaits. Sole or no sole.
About Israel
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost