Taylor on Trial in the Hague

July 15, 2009

Charles Taylor is currently on trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. It seems the US press isn’t covering this story very much. However, it is significant. Taylor is the first African leader to be tried by the court. An article for the Liberian newspaper, The Inquiry, summarizes:

Lawyers for Charles Taylor, ex-president of Liberia, have told his trial for crimes against humanity that he tried to bring peace to the country. He denies 11 charges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, including murder, rape and torture.
Prosecutors say he controlled rebels who carried out atrocities during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. Mr Taylor is due to give evidence on Today. He is the first African leader to be tried by an international court.

It appears that Taylor began his trial with big time theatrics. Christian Science Monitor blogger Mathew Clark writes:

We’ve seen this movie before. You know, the one where the brutal dictator finally gets his day in court only to turn into a drama queen, angrily denouncing the court as a charade one minute, crying about being misunderstood the next. (”They just don’t understand me, your honor. I did everything for them.” Sniff, sniff … weep.)

This time it’s Liberia’s former leader and chief warlord, Charles Taylor. The first African head of state to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity “swaggered into the witness stand in the Hague to plead his innocence,” reports The Times of London.

The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone indicted Mr. Taylor in June 2003 on 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the 1991-2002 war in Sierra Leone but condensed the charges to 11 counts in 2006. The prosecution has closed it case after bringing in a range of witnesses to tell stories of violence, rape, and amputation. Now it’s Taylor’s turn to tell his side.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this trial. I am still looking forward to the day when all countries of the world, including the USA, take the court in the Hague more seriously. World leaders need to be aware that there will be serious consequences if their actions cause massive amounts of pain and suffering among people. Hopefull Bush and Cheney will be heading to the Hague next.

I read the book “a long way gone” about a child soldier in Sierra Leone during the civil war. It is a heart wrenching account. I hope justice is served to Mr. Taylor for his role the atrocities.


Yolla Bolly Trip

July 6, 2009

Hannah I went on a nice backpacking trip in the Middle Eel Wilderness of the Yolla Bollys last weekend.  It was nice to get away from the 4th of July madness.  A lot of the trail we chose ended up being burnt from last years fires.  It was interesting to walk through the burn zone but got a little depressing after a few miles.  The fire must have been massive and incredibly hot.  What made it hard was that there was no shade and the whether was quite hot.  These were natural fires started by lightning. Hannah and I discussed fires and how we as stewards should handle fire.  We didn’t really reach any conclusions, because we are not fire scientists.  I came acrross an interesting blog post on High Country News‘ blog.  This blogger believes that burn backs done by fire fighters are more damaging than good.  The trip got us thinking about fire and we have decided to make it the theme of this weeks radio show.  Typical fashion we forgot our camera. Despite the fire it was a wonderful trip. This photo reminded us of some dragon flies we had close encounters with.

Dare Devil Sea Lion

June 23, 2009

The San Jose Mercury News reports that a baby sea lion made it’s way onto the freeway early yesterday morning. The little guy was found on Interstate 880 in Oakland near the Collisium. I’m sure it will be a morning he remembers.

Interesting Times in Persia

June 16, 2009

Just been reading up a little on the political strife in Iran.  However, I still feel as though I don’t really know what is going on there.  Slate has an interesting piece proclaiming the Obama administration will need to change their stance in response to the rigged election and the brutal reaction to protesters.  The author, Fred Kaplan, writes:

Given the near-certainty that Iran’s election was fixed and the documented fact that protesters are being brutalized, there is no way that Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could go to Tehran and shake hands with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, much less to expect that any talks would be worthwhile.

The author goes on to discuss the potential outcome of the current unrest. Kamal states that it is likely that the protest will peter out as the government continues to respond with brutality. An interesting point he brings up is that no one really knows who is really controlling Iran. We know there are a group of Clerics who control the country but there has been rumor that there may be disagreement within this core elite. Another point made in the piece is that the country cannot afford to have blatantly corrupt elections and still claim to be a democracy.

One point I still believe there is missing information is the point that the election was rigged. How do we know that a minority of urban youth are not rebelling just because they did not win? The Slate article states that Ahmadinejad’s primary constituents are the rural populations. Maybe these outnumber the urban?

Willits Frustrations

June 8, 2009

Last Friday I was heading to Fort Bragg from Ukiah. I left town around 2:30PM and got to Willits about 3. The traffic was backed way up in town almost to the first traffic light. It took about 20 mins. just to get to the traffic light at Safeway. As the summer travel season picks up this bottle neck will get worse and worse. It’s a real problem. Willits needs a bypass ASAP! Unfortunately it doesn’t seem this is in the works for quite a few years.

20 Years Since Tiananmen Massacre

June 4, 2009

Today is the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square and the Chinese government has remained silent. I wonder how long it will take before this day becomes an official holiday in China and those who died in their struggle for a democracy are remembered and honored? Will I see it in my life time. I hope so. I have vague memories of when it happened in 1989, I was nine years old. I remember my father looking at the headlines at our local market, Murrishes, and shaking his head. I think he tried to explain some of it to me on the way home. I just started reading a novel by Ha Jin called A Free Life. Coincidentally the novel is set in the early 90s and about Chinese who immigrated to the US to escape being punished in China for their involvement in the movement. Magnum has a good series of photos remembering the movement and this day.

Sex Workers Take the Day Off

May 1, 2009

In accordance with May Day, the International Day recognizing labor and labor rights, sex workers are taking the day off in India. A writer for Bernama.com writes:

At the infamous and largest ‘red light’ area located in Sonagachi, Kolkata past midnight, about 10,000 people, including social workers, sex workers and politicians, held an eight-kilometre rally in conjunction with Labour Day.

“We are not working today, it’s our right. Sex workers are doing real work, we need some respect and dignity. It is our livehood,” Anisha (not her real name), a sex worker from the red light district, told Bernama in a telephone interview.

I find it very interesting how societies around the world treat prostitution. It seems that it will occur no matter how many restrictions are placed on the profession. It seems the Netherlands has treated the work the most rationally. There it is legal but regulated. They treat soft drugs similarly. In the US we force them onto the streets where they face all kinds of horrors. I wonder if this will ever change? Any thoughts?

The Naked Lunch

April 7, 2009

I’ve just begun reading William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. What a crazy piece of writing! I am enjoying it, although much of the time I have no idea what he is talking about. Some of the lines are hilarious and many of them utterly grotesque. My brother, who teaches this book in his English classes at the University of Iowa, describes the reading of this novel as watching a three ring circus. Reading it has made me want to look deeper into Burroughs life. I know he wrote the book over a period time as he was emerging from heroine addiction. Wikipedia begins its entry on Burroughs by writing:

William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997; pronounced /ˈbʌroʊz/) was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, drawn from his experiences as an opiate addict, a condition that marked the last fifty years of his life. A primary member of the Beat Generation, he was an avant-garde author who affected popular culture as well as literature. In 1984, he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

The Naked Lunch entry gives an explanation of the title:

Burroughs states in his introduction that Jack Kerouac suggested the title. “The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.” In a June 1960 letter Jack Kerouac wrote to Allen Ginsberg saying he was pleased that Burroughs had credited him with the title but had not recently heard from him.

I am a fan of the Beats, but Burroughs for some reason has escaped me. I wonder if all his work is as crazy and non-sensical as Naked Lunch. I am looking forward to making my way through the book.

Live Power Farm

April 4, 2009

A few days ago Hannah and I went to the general meeting for Live Power Community Farm. Live Power is Community Supported Farm (CSA) in Covelo that grows bio-dynamic food using all animal and solar power and delivers food baskets to town throughout the summer and fall. What is amazing is that their drop off point in Ukiah is right next door to my house. Last summer I enjoyed their fresh produce immensely. The farmers discussed associative economics and how by working in partnership with the farmer the “eater” is practicing a new kind of economic relationship. In an article entitled; Community Supported Agriculture and Associative Economics, Jeff Poppen writes:

People can associate economically in a cooperative manner;
excessive competition between buyers and sellers is not neces-
sary. After the economic turmoil following World War I, Rudolf
Steiner wondered how to set a price value on goods. Nature plus
labor creates goods with a value, such as farming some potatoes.
The true price of the crop is when we receive enough to enable
us to satisfy all our needs until it is time again to produce the
same product, another crop of potatoes.
Ideally, we need to be clear that we don’t get paid for our
labor or the potatoes, but simply to satisfy our needs until there
are more potatoes. When grandpa grows several bushels of pota-
toes for his family, we have an example of associative economics.
The family wouldn’t consider paying him, just as they wouldn’t
consider letting him go without something he needs.
tions as well.

veggiebasket Hannah and I are really getting into the local food movement. The potential seems to be vast.These guys are another farm that is practicing this style of agriculture. You can do a chicken share! Eat healthy, live long!

South African Shame

March 31, 2009

A meeting of major peace actavists and the Nobel Peace committee associated with the South African World Cup was postponed when the South African Government denied the Dalai Lama a visa. It is reported that due to presure China put on S. Africa the president decided to not allow his Holiness into the country. Many South African citizens are dismayed and upset.

The German publication DW-World writes:

The peace conference was meant to be a platform to discuss how to use soccer as a way to fight racism in the run up to the World Cup which will be held in South Africa in 2010.

The Dalai Lama’s chief negotiator, Lodi Gyari, said China had only damaged its own attempts at closer ties with Africa by pressuring South Africa into refusing to allow the Tibetan spiritual leader to enter the country.

It’s a real shame that political powers are preventing this peace meeting from taking place, espcially in a place with a history like S. Africa.

An editor and blogger from a S. African newspaper has an interesting post.

Here is a picture of Mandela and the Dalai Lama together in 1996.