Articles: Some interesting articles from today's paper


 Work is quiet so I just spent the last hour reading through today's paper, looking for something to write about... I started off with one article and ended up with 5, so instead of writing multiple posts about each one, I thought it would make more sense to make one post and provide my own comments/opinions. Most articles come from the New York Times, but I've added other similar articles from other sources in some places. It's quite Middle East-heavy, but, then again, why wouldn't it be?

Afghan rape case is brought before the authorities (NYT article can be found HERE)
I've followed the plight of women in Afghanistan for many years now, long before 9/11 and the US invasion of the country. In the late 90's (I think) Marie Claire published an article about the treatment of women by the ruling Taliban power, something that most news outlets never bothered with, forcing the world to acknowledge there was a real problem in the country. Remember the recording of public execution that was released to world, taken via stealth, the camera concealed beneath a burqa by RAWA in 1999? That was some amazing investigative journalism - because if the reporter had been captured, he/she would probably have been executed in the same fashion. The video was sent to different press outlets at the time, none of which wanted to publish it because of it's ability to shock the world. However, when foreign forces invaded Afghanistan, all of a sudden it was all over the news. Yes, we went in to save these women that a year before we were turning a blind eye to. Nothing more than the usual hypocrisy of the world, another country's plight only becomes important to us when we actually have something to gain in said country. Anyway, this article is interesting because it portrays a few different points; one being that in certain places the laws haven't really changed, even if the Taliban has lost most of its stronghold. Another being that instead of following the unwritten law of the ages, the victim's family have decided to bring it to the public and gain their daughter's honour back by seeking justice via trial.
What we all tend to forget is that Afghanistan is a very unique country, where different ethnic groups/tribes live together, all with different rules of living, many unwritten. In many places, especially remote, rural areas, the honour of the family remains of most utter importance. To destroy or tarnish that honour means certain death, as death is the only way to rectify the balance, and restore the lost honour. To us this may sound backwards and horrific, but this is the way it works, and has worked for generations. I find it admirable that Lal Bibi is looking for her kidnappers and rapists to be brought to justice WITH the support of her family. I hope that they succeed, because if they don't, she will die, either at the hands of her family, or by her own hands (as seen in the article). What a brave, brave woman.

Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison (NYT article can be found HERE)
Life in prison for the deaths of the unarmed protesters last year, however, all charges of corruption were dropped. I'm honestly not really surprised at either ruling, although I think that it is interesting that the police commanders who gave the orders to shoot at the crowds were acquitted. Surely there were more than two people who were responsible for all of the deaths? In any case, I suppose at least some sort of justice has been done, even if the country is still without a democratically elected government (when will those promised elections ever take place?!), although how real this justice is will be seen if the ruling doesn't fall down on appeal. With all other charges having been revoked, if Mubarak wins on appeal he could walk away a free man.
What I found the most interesting about this article is the comment section. They go from right to left, zig-zagging through different opinions, some highly well thought-out and others just plain stupid and actually laughable. Yes, Mubarak was a US ally, but that doesn't make him a saint, does it? Let's all think back to the lovely Shah of Iran people and look at what the good that did to the world. Mubarak wasn't all evil, but he outstayed his welcome for more than a few presidential terms, and stole way too much money from the people he was supposed to be protecting to not be punished for it.
For those commenting on how the world is letting fundamentalists take the power in Egypt by the removal of Mubarak: if this happens, then it is what happens. The Egyptian people fought for change, and will probably stand up and fight again if they feel the government they elect is not acting in their best interest. In the end, we don't have a say what should happen in Egypt - it's up to the Egyptian people to decide what to do. The median age in Egypt is 24 years old, meaning that the population is young and will not stand for any further domination. I'm interested to see how it all plays out in this country. Read all those comments - it's highly entertaining to say the least.
BBC News articles on the same subject HERE.

Russia refuses intervention in Syria (NYT article can be found HERE)
Quelle surprise! Although I am completely against any type of outside military intervention in Syria, I do feel that more pressure should be put on Assad to stop the massacres that seem to be happening on a regular basis in Syria these days. Then again, I understand the plight: if he listens to the UN and withdraws his troops from the areas of uprising it will most definitely lead to civil war. I mean, he could stand down, and be replaced by a democratically elected president, haha, but we all know that is not going to happen. If he continues to let his troops massacre men, women and children in villages it will just create a louder uproar around the world. It appears that the bloodshed is not going to end too soon, and we may just have to sit back and watch it happen. Although, I have no doubt that the West is already smuggling weapons and agents into Syria, and helping the rebels.
Another article on the subject, BBC this time, can be found HERE.

Oh, by the way, there is renewed fighting in the North Kivu area of the DRC, strongly reminiscent of what happened in 2008, see the Al Jazeera article HERE. As always, no one really cares about what is happening in this country, even after years and years of civil war and millions of deaths. It breaks my heart that it is still happening.

Last, but not least, American nuns fight back against the Vatican criticism they face (NYT article can be found HERE).
Interesting how the Vatican plays down all of the child abuse allegations and insists on covering them up, while at the same time accuses a large group of American nuns of challenging "church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” So it's OK for priests to sexually abuse children, but it's not OK to promote free healthcare for all?! Because, oh no, this may promote the usage of birth control, and even worse, abortion! In essence this criticism goes completely against all of the real teachings of Christianity. My own thoughts on religion aside (having had a mix of Anglican, Catholic and free spirit education in my youth I decided to go with the latter, without scorning any of the former), I think this is highly despicable. Nuns dedicate their lives to educating and helping others, while giving up everything to live with their faith. The Vatican condemning them for promoting homosexuality and feminism is just plain old gender bigotry. It's time for the Vatican to get with the times and stop acting like they have the right to twist religion in a way that suits them best. Religious freedom means that we have the right to choose our religion and to live by it in the way we see fit. There is no place in this world anymore, or at least in the world I imagine, for men to dictate how women should live their lives. If these nuns are promoting radical feminism, then I really wonder what my views would be called! More radical than radical? I'm SO happy these nuns are taking a stand and continuing to promote what they believe in.



Companies apologising for their Nazi past & blatant hypocrisy

So now Hugo Boss are apologising for their Nazi past because a book is being published about it? See BBC News article HERE.
This is the second article I have read about fashion and Nazism this year (I am sure there were more, I just haven't read them). The first one was a few months ago, in regards to the book that was released "revealing" Coco Chanel's flirtation with Nazism (Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War by Hal Vaughan).
If I am not mistaken, Hugo Boss was tried and fined for his involvement after the war, and died not long after... I just don't really understand this need to apologise now, just because a new book is coming out. Sounds kind of like a hollow apology and highly hypocritical in my opinion.
In any case, this opens up a much larger debate. Any person who is slightly interested in this period of time and has a brain knows full well that there were many companies who collaborated with the Nazis. Some who were pressured to, and others who gladly ran to them with their business as soon as they came into power. Anti-semitism and totalitarianism were not born with Nazism, they just became somewhat tolerated as an existing regime. No one in power in countries outside of Nazi-occupied countries really knew or really cared about the extent of the atrocities committed during WW2 by the Nazis, until the war was over. And then, of course, no one had ever been a Nazi, a Nazi supporter, or had ever collaborated with the Nazis.
So, every time a book is going to come out about how a fashion designer/nuclear scientist/railway developer/foie gras provider used to collaborate with the Nazis, anyone associated with these people will feel the need to apologise?
Instead of a hypocritical apology, that is never going to wipe out whatever you or your ancestors may have done in the past, why not set up a fund or a charity that helps the victims of genocide and war today? Instead of just sweeping it under the carpet again, do something to help people suffering today.
Maybe Hugo Boss' war time victims appreciate the apology, and then that's good for them, but I think it's just another cop out. I don't think Coco Chanel ever apologised and her name and designs are still the most famous in the world. Goes to show how hypocritical this world really is, huh?

"Alternative" living= Utopia?

I was reading an article on the BBC News website about the Danish commune Christiania that was set up around 40 years ago as a squat and recently won the legal right to run itself. (See the article in question here: Denmark Christiania: New challenges for Copenhagen's hippy zone).
What seemed to have started off as a peaceful commune, where people looked to live in an alternative community, growing their own food, diverse, a place where artistic freedom is allowed to be let loose - basically your idea of a perfect, harmonious and happy way of life. Well for me, anyway. I lived on a kibbutz in Israel for months and loved it do much that I dream about going back and doing it again - forever.

But reading through this article, and through my own experiences on the kibbutz, and talking to others who have tried communal living on a grander scale than just sharing an apartment, there are always cracks in the veneer. I just think that human nature just doesn't always allow for things to run smoothly, especially when sharing with others is involved. Some humans are natural leaders and some a natural followers, and sometimes the natural leaders want more than everyone else. And however much of an idealist I may be, I am aware that a lot of humans are not "good" people ("good" meaning people who want to live their lives by helping and loving others), and that many are more than happy to stomp over others to feel better about themselves.

So, in the end, can these types of communes really work in our societies? In the case of Christiania, for example, it appears that organised crime and hardcore drug trafficking is taking over what used to be a hippiesque pot-selling area. So are these types of idealistic living situations just that? A nice utopic idea of peaceful living that just can't work out, however hard we try?

I think am going to still continue to dream about the community that I want to live in on an island by the warm sea some day.
Food for thought.

Netherlands calls for arrest of Nazi war criminal Faber

Netherlands calls for arrest of Nazi war criminal Faber

I can't believe this... The guy escaped prison for war crimes, ran off to Germany and has been PROTECTED there since 1952?! First of all, why has it taken all these decades to call for extradition? Second of all, why was he ever given German citizenship? Some things will just never, ever make sense to me.

Incredible.