D. Parvaz

A mysterious judicial system

From English AlJazeera, for which former P-I editorial writer Dorothy Parvaz now writes:

The rearrest and trial of Iranian human rights activist and journalist Shiva Nazar-Ahari adds another name and face to a long list of those targeted by the government there, charged with a list of extraordinary offences and subjected to an opaque justice system.

Hers is not an exceptional case, as the government continues to expand its crackdowns beyond the leaders of the opposition and those who follow them in protest marches. Women’s rights activist are also targeted, and such is the situation for women’s rights advocate and attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose home and office were raided…

Full story

Pentagon can’t track 95% of Iraq reconstruction funds. ‘It’s a heist’

A billion here, a billion there, before you know it, we’re talking about real money. The Associated Press reports:

A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.(more)

Ninety-five percent of the funds missing isn’t lax oversight. It’s a heist.

Add this to the long record of missing weapons, massive cost overruns for projects that go nowhere (in both Iraq and Afghanistan) and the billions in unaccounted for funds that may or may not have been paid to contractors — or Lord knows who — and you might see a pattern here.

Full story…

Tea Party: Mocking black people, but still totally *not* racist

I mean, why would anyone think that a guy who writes a letter in the voice of NAACP President Ben Jealous lamenting the end of slavery to President Lincoln, be considered a racist? I mean, does this sound like it came from the mind of a bigot?

No, no. This, written by Mark Williams of Tea Party Express/Birther fame. Can’t you see that he’s not racist, but just really clever and seriously funny (note the hilarious use of “cotton” in the passage above. Brilliant.). Why did Williams and his razor-sharp wit take aim at Jealous? Because Jealous challenged the Tea Party to “expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take full responsibility for all of their actions.” (more)

 

more at Something to Say

First Helen Thomas, now Octavia Nasr

TPM reports:

“Remember Octavia Nasr? She’s been the chief Middle East correspondent at CNN for twenty years. Or she was [until July 6th].

…She tweeted ‘Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.’

Doing a little sleuthing it seems like it may be slightly overstating things to say he was a member or leader of Hezbollah, more like a spiritual mentor or a cleric closely associated with the movement. In any case, given CNN’s record of running for the hills over a lot less, I can’t say I’m completely surprised at their decision. And I’m a little surprised she’d tweet that myself. And in the internal memo CNN circulated explaining her termination, a CNN VP wrote, ‘she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever.’

But a twenty year run down the tubes over 140 characters?”

Exactly. Now, if the opposite were the case, if Thomas and Nasr had made anti-Arab or anti-Muslim comments, would they have been fired? Uh, no. Perhaps they might’ve been forced to issue an apology. Or not even that, if they operate like Neal “It is perfectly safe to say all terrorists are Muslims” Boortz.
But, clearly, because CNN is terrified of freaking out the Hezbollah = Terrorist camp, Nasr had to go.

Hey, CNN, capitulate much?

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The Swiss protect Polanski. Of course they do

 

The Swiss protect Roman Polanski. Of course, they do

I guess we’re to take it that it’s somehow in Switzerland’s national interest to protect Roman Polanski. What, do they owe France a big ol’ favor? Because the French have been squarely in Polanski’s corner. Who knows what the French are thinking, like, they might be short a paedophile if Polanski is forced to do time in the U.S.?

Anyway.

Swiss officials base their decision on a technical loophole… (more)

 

more at Something to Say

Israel’s promise to ease blockades: when and how?

The Guardian reports that Israel’s vow, made last week, that it would relax its blockade of supplies to Gaza made Tony Blair and President Obama pretty happy. But that Gaza residents are taking a more wait-and-see approach.

“Hopes that Israel’s announcement last weekend of a relaxation of its blockade might lead to a recovery of Gaza’s shrivelled economy are rapidly evaporating among local businessmen and women – if, indeed, they ever rose.

“The practical consequences of the new policy are still opaque, but few in Gaza realistically expect even a trickle of the raw materials essential to revitalise factories(…)let alone a resumption of anything approaching normal import-export trade.”

If you’re reading this and maybe thinking, “Well, Israelis must keep these blockades in place to prevent terrorism,” read the whole Guardian story to get an idea of what sort of control the Israeli government is exerting on Gazans. Until last week, there were only 120 products allowed to enter the zone. It’s said that that number has now been increased to somewhere between 450 and 500.

Here’s a taste of what one factory is dealing with: (more)

 

more at Something to Say

On involuntarily sending folks back where they come from

Okay. Israelis have a right to statehood. And I get why they’re worked up over Helen Thomas saying they should head back to Poland, Germany and the U.S.. The first two countries have a profoundly dark meaning in Jewish history, although, certainly, they’re perfectly fine now, 60-some years after WWII. Still. An issue. Got it.

So, I’m wondering where the massive sense of outrage is at the fact that the European Union is deporting Iraqi refugees. Because, let’s face it:

A) Most of these folks probably no longer have a home — or a safe one anyway — in Iraq

and,

B)  That their country is basically unlivable in parts at the moment (before you argue this point, ask yourself, would you move there? I’m asking you, David do-you-have-any-Grey-Poupon Cameron. Would you pack your SamCam and your Saville Row suits and head to Baghdad? ) is not their fault. It’s ours. We’ve occupied their land and created all kinds of hell.

(more)

The oily stain of sponsored links: BP ‘manipulating search results’ on Google to aid image

Sorry, that’s a gross hed, but I couldn’t help it. Why? Check out this story:

 

 

I mean…buying search terms? Devious and ham-fisted at the same time. Bravo, BP!

 

Find more insights here at Something to Say, the blog of former P-I editorial writer D. Parvaz

 

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Is this a good idea… dealing with the Taliban as though it’s a legitimate party?

Can this really be a good idea?

Here’s the thing about freeing all those prisoners and dealing with the Taliban as though it’s a legitimate party…there’s a reason those people were locked up in the first place. And there’s a reason why there’s been an international and domestic effort to push the Taliban out of Afghanistan (the least of it being human rights). Of course, Karzai will deal with anyone who will keep him in power.

It’s hard to point to much in the way of progress in Afghanistan as it is. This move could well undermine what little has been achieved.

 

Find more insights here at Something to Say, the blog of former P-I editorial writer D. Parvaz

Israel rejects UN investigation into convoy killings

So, it’s unclear as to how many people, exactly, died during the Israeli attack on an aid convoy — 19? 9? 10? 15?

While that will surely be determined in due time, what’s interesting (though not shocking) is that the country is rejecting a call for a UN investigation into the incident. The Jerusalem Post reports:

(…)Israeli officials reportedly worked behind the scenes of the closed-door Security Council meeting to moderate the language of the final resolution.

Afterward, American officials said many questions remained about what happened leading up to, and during, the Israeli naval raid. But US diplomats expressed full confidence in Israel to investigate fully. (…)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev rejected calls for a UN investigation, stressing that it was standard operating procedure to investigate military incidents.


“These calls for an international UN investigation is simply holding Israel to a standard that no one else is held to,” he said, during a conference call organized by The Israel Project. “It’s a clear bias against my country that you see at the UN all too often.”

Well, he didn’t offer any examples of this unfair standard to which Israel is subjected, but it’s not hard for someone taking the opposite view to think of examples (nuclear weapons, for example) where the double standard seems to favor Israel.

Still, if Israeli officials are so sure that the facts will bear out, and that things happened as they say they did — that they were attacked by terrorists aboard the ships and that they did everything right — why not allow for a UN investigation? I could see the issue if, say, Turkey were running the investigation. But not the UN. The more Israel rejects such calls, the worse it looks. And given how bad things look already, that’s really saying something.

 

More blog posts here at Something to Say, the blog of former P-I editorial writer D. Parvaz