Monthly Archives: March 2009

Canada & South Africa: Scratching the Giants’ Prickly Backs

canada-drip

Two countries that one expects openness to most political and cultural views have shown a special narrow mindedness in the past few days.

Canada banned the British politician George Galloway and South Africa, surprise, surprise, refused a visa to the Dalai Lama.  Canadians are apparently angered by their government’s actions, and the State of Israel must be having a party.

south-africa-drip

South Africans still have no idea why their supposedly democratic ANC-led government claimed that the Dalai Lama would detract from the promotion of the 2010 Soccer.  I listened to the radio this morning and struggled to make sense of the sophomoric spin the spokesman for the current, temporary President was trying to mutter.  Guess who’s also having a party?

Canada and South Africa are scratching the prickly backs of giants.  It seems countries with atrocious human rights records against its own population and/or its neighbours need this special treatment.

One wonders what’s under the tables.

ps News just in:  the new Health Minister – much admired because of her progressive stance on health issues – who spoke against the ruling party’s decision to ban the Dalai Lama has been reprimanded.  Wonder what’s next.

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Closed Zone

Here is the writeup from YouTube on this interesting animation:

The new animated film created by Yoni Goodman, Director of Animation for the Academy Award-nominated film “Waltz with Bashir”, together with the human rights group Gisha. “Closed Zone” shows the closure of the Gaza Strip and its effects on the ability of 1.5 million human beings living there to fulfill their daily needs, as well as their dreams and aspirations. More details and videos at www.closedzone.com

-o-

I hope they release “Waltz with Bashir” in this country.


Mission Accomplished?

fear-woman

Do not let us go into that darkness with bare hands.
If you do, we shall claw our way out,
leave our nails on the back of the beast
that bears your face.

We know you and your caress
even as you pass
judgment upon our children
who are yet to know anger,

Grief with flailing arms,
solitude gone astray
among the ruined fabrics
of our homes.

When will you allow us
time and space to build
our own rooms of healing
that do not bear your name?

How can we, when every day you cast
the weight of your shadows on our lands,
bleed us of what lies beneath our feet,
speak to us with the language of corpses.

With eyes seared by your weapons
we stand
staring at all you have stolen
that can never be returned.

-o-


Remembering one of many invasions.


What We Always Suspected: Innocent Gitmo Prisoners

Taken for a ride: This award winning documentary needs to be seen again.

From a recent Associated Press report we find this:

Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday. “There are still innocent people there,” Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years.”

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a “mosaic” of intelligence.

“It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance,” Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather “sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.”

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said vetting on the battlefield during the early stages of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan was incompetent with no meaningful attempt to determine “who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”

-o-


Sorry, Mandela, I won’t be voting ANC

Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela

Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela

(NOTE:  Here I am pretending to be a political analyst, so please indulge my incompetence.  I am only one voter on a flimsy soapbox.)

The great Nelson Mandela was recently used as an onstage prop on the African National Congress’s campaign trail.  He was aided to get on stage and off.  He sat as if for a photo op.  One wonders what he really thought about the whole circus.

It used to be that any word from him would hit local and international headlines.  Now, nothing but silence.

Mandela has proven he can be brutally honest even to visiting dignitaries.  As in the case of the broadly smiling former US President Bill Clinton who was told years ago on nationwide television something not quite subtle.

“You can jump in the fucking river!  We will never abandon our friends!”

This was in reference to the US Government’s request that South Africa sever ties with Libya.  Well, he did say it in Afrikaans, and meant that Clinton could keep his two-faced smile throughout the whole stately proceedings.

But unlike in previous times, Mandela has not said anything about the current South African political situation.  Perhaps age has made him less able to speak his mind more freely nowadays?  Or has the ANC leadership decided not to hand him the microphone at all?

Mandela’s wise words could be just what we need right now in this country before the national elections in April.

In the historic free elections of 1994, Mandela and the ANC were admired the world over.  The ANC had not only the moral high ground but a set of policies that epitomized respect for human rights.

The years under Mandela’s leadership were not free of controversies and burning issues, but they were the first steps out of the dark times of apartheid.  Not everyone thought South Africa could truly make it, but it did.

Thabo Mbeki had a tough act to follow.  How many people can measure up to a living legend anyway?  But looking back to his years as president, Mbeki’s efforts improved the lives of many South Africans through sound social and economic policies – or so perhaps we have been made to believe.  And he had not a few critics, among them AIDS activists.

Mbeki was highly criticized for being too distant from the people he is supposed to serve.  Despite this, one could feel that he deserves your respect.

The orchestrated events that led to the unexpected removal of Thabo Mbeki from the nation’s seat of power, showed how boldly the ANC leadership had grown in paving the way for the crowning of its party leader, Jacob Zuma.  The ANC took Mbeki out of the equation unceremoniously but had the semi-decency to replace him for the meantime with Kgalema Motlanthe.

It seems that they wanted Zuma to “earn” the presidency with an expected majority vote for the ANC from the people of South Africa.

COPE logo

COPE logo

It might be beyond the belief of the ANC leadership that ordinary citizens could be outraged by this act.  Thus was born the breakaway group from the ANC, the Congress of the People (COPE).  Though new and untested in the amount of support it can garner in the coming elections, it is nonetheless one option for voters who crave for change and a move away from what Jacob Zuma and his supporters represent.

ANC President Jacob Zuma supporters already claim him as president-in-waiting of South Africa.   They will try everything and anything to derail all efforts by the National Prosecuting Authority to take him to court for numerous charges of corruption, money laundering, and bribery among others.

Disinformation tactics through “sms texts” and claims from “reliable NPA sources” hit the news a few days ago about the possible dropping of all legal charges against Zuma.  One can only guess the source of such actions.

The same Zuma supporters threw their noisy weight around the courts during his trial for the rape of a friend’s daughter.  This to the dismay of rights advocates.

Zapiros controversial cartoon

Zapiro's controversial cartoon

The ANC, with its countless dubious officials who have been found with their hands in various government funds time and again, likewise led the attack and subsequent demise of the high-level and very successful criminal investigation unit, The Scorpions.

The Independent Electoral Commission reported a huge turnout in voter registration, something unheard of since 1994.  Perhaps the ANC will get a big surprise on the 22nd of April.

I haven’t decided which political party to vote for.  But I am certain it won’t be for the ANC and Jacob Zuma.

-o-

Here is a very interesting article from the Mail and Guardian on the coming elections.


10 Marso 2009 / 10 March 2009

blur-upside-down-tree

10 Marso 2009

Ngayon sana ang iyong kaarawan, Daddy.
Isa pa sanang taon na mahahagkan ka
ni Mommy samantalang pinipisil ninyong kapwa
ang mga guhit ng inyong palad.

Umuulan ng tuyong dahon sa labas ng inyong silid.
Isang pares lamang ng mga matang
unti-unting lumalamlam
ang ngayo’y nakakapagmasid.

Isa man lamang
sa mga dahong iyon
ay may mga ugat
na salamin ng iyong palad

Na hindi na masasalat.

-o-

10 March 2009

Today would have been your birthday, Daddy.
It would have been one more year to make
a kiss linger with Mommy as you both pressed
the lines in each other’s palms.

Dry leaves rain down outside your bedroom.
Only one pair of slowly
dimming eyes
watch them cascade.

Perhaps but one
of those leaves
bears ghostlines
of your palms

Now beyond touch.

-o-

Memory and imagination.   Here they come together in place of absences and distances.  My father passed away when our kids were under a year old.  I was not there with him.


The Iron Giant Crushes Disney / Pagdurog ng Iron Giant sa Disney

The Iron Giant film by Brad Bird based on the book by Ted Hughes

The Iron Giant Crushes Disney

Our children have questions
that cannot be answered
by a Disney song
and dance sequence.

What is a bomb?

At five, both of them
will not be silenced
by lies, we know that.
So we struggle to tell them.

What does it do?

And a disturbing silence
settles in their eyes
for a while.

They watch the missile in the distance
the threat of an end
to every thing and every one living
in that small town.

Why do people use it?

They understand the Iron Giant chooses
not to be a gun,
but to be
a shield from destruction.

Why?

One day they will have another question,
I hope,
about the absence
of Iron Giants in this world.

But why?

-o-

Pagdurog ng Iron Giant sa Disney

May mga tanong ang aming mga anak
na hindi masasagot
ng mabulaklak na awit
at sayaw mula sa Disney.

Ano ang bomba?

Lilimang taon, pareho silang
hindi mapapatahimik
ng kasinungalingan, alam namin iyan.
Kaya mapipilitan kaming ipaliwanag sa kanila.

Ano ang ginagawa nito?

At may nakababagabag na katahimikang
lulukob sa kanilang mga mata
sa ilang sandali.

Papanoorin nila ang missile sa kalayuan
ang pangamba ng wakas
sa bawat bagay at bawat nilalang na nananahanan
sa bayan na iyong kay liit.

Bakit?

Isang araw may isa na naman silang tanong,
umaasa ako,
tungkol sa kawalan
ng mga Iron Giant sa mundo.

Pero bakit?