Maurizio – Omnologos

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Archive for December 2007

The Uncomparable Life and Death of the Most Famous Pakistani Leader

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Whatever one could think of her and her many defects, there will undeniably be a time-before and a time-after the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

And that should be enough to establish that she wasn’t just “the daughter of <somebody>”.

Even her assassination has been a very special event. Gunshots followed by a bomb? Virtually unheard of. Al Qaeda it ain’t! As things stand now, it’s more likely that the bomb has been the tool used to “cancel the fingerprints” of whoever ordered the shooting.

Sadly, that means the Pakistani Government is the most likely culprit.

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One definitely wonders what has gone so wrong in the past 60 years, to make the inhabitants of the Land of the Pure so keen to kill each other.

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/27 at 21:47:34

Posted in History, Politics, Terrorism

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On Nuclear Hypocrisy

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Letter published on the International Herald Tribune, Dec 14, 2007

Regarding “Get Tehran inside the tent” by Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh (Views, Dec. 7): The one underlying issue that the writers do not mention, and that does not appear in the article by Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin (“In Tehran we trust?” Views, Dec. 7), is that Iran is alone in a sea of hostile neighbors.

Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb is as logical as Israel’s or Pakistan’s. For the current Iranian regime, and perhaps even for a hypothetical Iranian democracy, it would be extremely foolish to leave the fortunes of the state to the whims of the United States, Europe, Russia, or the Sunni Arab states, especially with troubled neighbors like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is obvious that the West needs a new policy for Iran. Perhaps once – just once – the powers that be will pay attention to the basic needs of Iran, starting by ruling out an invasion.

Isn’t it telling that Nasr and Takeyh repeat the old fairy tale that during the Cold War “confronting Communism meant promoting capitalism and democracy,” forgetting to mention an egregiously contrary example? In a most tragic decision 54 years ago, the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh was toppled and an autocratic monarch reintroduced, all in the name of fighting world Communism.

Maurizio Morabito, England

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/26 at 21:41:45

Death Penalty Moratorium: New York Times Editorial

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Newspapers are slowly waking up to the importance of the Moratorium against Death Penalty approved on Thursday, Dec 18 by the UN General Assembly. Here’s an important editorial A Pause from Death” from The New York Times (and Lining up against the death penalty” from the International Herald Tribune):

The United Nations General Assembly voted on Tuesday for a global moratorium on the death penalty. The resolution was nonbinding; its symbolic weight made barely a ripple in the news ocean of the United States, where governments’ right to kill a killer is enshrined in law and custom.

Go to The Board » But for those who have been trying to move the world away from lethal revenge as government policy, this was a milestone. The resolution failed repeatedly in the 1990s, but this time the vote was 104 to 54, with 29 nations abstaining. Progress has come in Europe and Africa. Nations like Senegal, Burundi, Gabon — even Rwanda, shamed by genocide — have decided to reject the death penalty, as official barbarism.

The United States, as usual, lined up on the other side, with Iran, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Iraq. Together this blood brotherhood accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s executions, according to Amnesty International. These countries’ devotion to their sovereignty is rigid, as is their perverse faith in execution as a criminal deterrent and an instrument of civilized justice. But out beyond Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Myanmar, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, there are growing numbers who expect better of humanity.

Many are not nations or states but groups of regular people, organizations like the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic movement begun in Italy whose advocacy did much to bring about this week’s successful vote in the General Assembly.

They are motivated by hope — and there is even some in the United States. The Supreme Court will soon hear debate on the cruelty of execution by lethal injection. On Monday, New Jersey became the first state in 40 years to abolish its death penalty.

That event, too, left much of this country underwhelmed. But overseas, the votes in Trenton and the United Nations were treated as glorious news. Rome continued a tradition to mark victories against capital punishment: it bathed the Colosseum, where Christians once were fed to lions, in golden light.

It is rather unfortunate that no mention has been given of the Transnational Radical Party and “Hands Off Cain“, the organizations that have initiated the whole process almost 14 years ago. But the fact that the NYT deemed it important enough to warrant an editorial, should be placate those claiming the Moratorium, as a nonbinding document, is a useless document or worse.

For other articles on the Moratorium:

(1) On the Los Angeles Times, an opinion piece “The UN’s Death Blow” by Louise Arbour, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

(2) On BBC News, a Special Report “UN votes for death penalty freeze” with words from the Singapore and Mexican ambassadors and the “detail” that only 51 nations still retain the right to use death penalty

(3) On Euronews (in French), an article “L’Italie s’est fortement impliquée en faveur d’un moratoire sur la peine de mort” with some background on those that have fought for the Moratorium

(4) On the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German), an article “Die guten Menschen von Rom” about the Community of Sant’Egidio mentioned by the New York Times’ editorial.

(5) On the Tagesenzeiger (Swiss, in German), an editorial “Ein Akt der Zivilisation” that makes the rather obvious points that dangerous criminals should be locked up, and the death penalty, whatever one thinks of it, is arrogant and archaic.

(6) The Argentinian El Mundo (in Spanish) hosts a commentary “Una victoria italiana contra la pena de muerte by the local Italian Ambassador, Stefano Ronca.

(7) In Diário Digital (in Portuguese) there is an exhaustively explanatory article “ONU: AG aprova apelo a moratória na aplicação pena de morte“, explaining the origin of the “Hands Off Cain” name.

And I am sure there’s lots more in other languages I an as yet unable to perform searches with…

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/21 at 21:33:53

A New Way for Politics

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Barack Obama is still an empty shell as far as I am concerned…

Still, David Brooks’ recent IHT article on what could make Obama a better President than Hillary Clinton can indicate a more hopeful way for politics to be conducted:

(a) Do not ratchet up hostilities; restrain them.

(b) Do not lash out at perceived enemies, but stay aloof from them.

(c) Learn from the pessimistic optimism of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln: detest anger as a motivating force, distrust easy dichotomies between the parties of good and evil, and believe instead that the crucial dichotomy runs between the good and bad within each individual (a Gandhian concept, actually)

(d) As per Isaiah Berlin’s essay “Political Judgment,” don’t think abstractly. Use powers of close observation.

(e) Step outside one’s own ego and look at reality in uninhibited and honest ways.

(f) Sympathize with and grasp the motivations of the rivals.

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/20 at 22:47:17

Posted in Politics, USA

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Capello’s First Point of Order

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Fabio Capello (pr. Kah-Per-Lo), the new England football manager, may or may not have serious intentions in getting the team with a trophy or another.

But if he does, there is one clear thing he needs to impose to change the squad’s attitude: a complete alcohol ban for any player willing to represent England.

Otherwise, Capello’s tenure will end up like Eriksson’s and any other manager’s this side of 1966.

England’s football system is large enough to guarantee that a team of 11 average alcohol-free players can be put together, and they will have an enormously higher chance to win than highly-paid drunks.

If Italy made it in 2006…

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I am not just saying players should stop drinking before matches, or during major competitions. Of course they should, and to do otherwise is a clear sign of foolishness.

But if I were Capello, I would ask for players to not drink any alcohol at all in any moment of their day. Ever.

A player’s career in the national team is usually short anyway, seldom lasting more than 4 or 6 years. If anybody cannot resist that short a time as an absolute teetotaller, in exchange for the possibility of winning the Cup in South Africa 2010, that person must have a serious alcoholism problem. And he should be sent for some basic detox, not to play for his Country.

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Of course there’s always another solution: change nothing, pretend it’s all about football schemes, play on, and just wait for next abysmal failure…

…while going from one rape allegation to another, of course!

ps Is it important for Capello to learn how to speakka goode Englisch? Maybe not. He’d better spend some money to buy a large amount of wild dogs, to unleash against any player showing signs of drunkeness (or just slacking).

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/19 at 21:10:11

Posted in England, Fabio Capello, Football, Sport

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Santa A Week Earlier: UN Approves Moratorium on Death Penalty

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104 States in favor, 54 against, 29 abstentions. We finally have a Moratorium on the Death Penalty, a moratorium that is approved by the United Nations General Assemply.

This is an extraordinary occasion indeed, the end of almost 14 years of efforts starring “Hands Off Cain“, the Transnational Radical Party and Italian Governments both from the Left and the Right.

The ecumenical impetus is so strong, even the Vatican has positively commented the results.

December 18 may go down in history as the largest Italian foreign policy victory in more than 140 years. And finally, one will be able to say that Italy has given something to international politics, something else than the the invention of Fascism.

A very Merry Christmas to everybody!

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/18 at 23:25:14

The Economist: Does Charlemagne Speak Any French?

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Perhaps it would be better for commentators in European matters to travel and live a bit more around Europe

Letter to The Economist:

Dear Editors

The author of the “Charlemagne” column makes quite a fuss about the alleged ability in EU documents for fish to “fish themselves” (“A fishy tale“, Dec 13).

The incipit and a lot of the sarcasm in the article are about “a daring, if grammatically correct, use of reflexive verbs, so that a ministerial statement blamed undersized hake that se pêchaient et se vendaient, suggesting the fish had fished and sold themselves.”

The actual ploy though appears to be based on “Charlemagne“‘s own challenged relationship with the French language.

Far from being “daring“, “passive impersonal” (or “passive reflexive”) is a very common construct in French and in other languages, with the reflexive pronoun “se” used to avoid the seldom-liked standard passive voice.

No French speaker, and nobody but a person with plenty of negative prejudices against the European Union, would have imagined that anybody had ever suggested that “the fish had fished and sold themselves“.

If you have something to criticise about the EU (and there is plenty of material in that respect!) could you please at least make an effort not to concoct baseless innuendos.

Written by omnologos

2007/Dec/17 at 22:18:58

Posted in Economics, Economist, EU, Letters

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