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Chavez's referendum fails

December 3, 2007 1 comment

Jay discusses at LitW and Mark has some (pre-results) analysis.

It looks like it’s good that he lost. The “dictator for life” label one of the chages is getting is kinda silly, but there are other authoritarian moves. Says HRW:

However, this proposal would still allow the president to suspend other fundamental due process guarantees, including the presumption of innocence, the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal, the right against self-incrimination, the right not to be convicted for a non-existent crime, and the right against double jeopardy. In addition, the proposal appears to allow for the suspension of the rights of a defendant to know the charges and have access to the evidence against him.

The suspension of the presumption of innocence, the right against self-incrimination, and other guarantees of a fair trial would be in violation of international law, which prohibits their suspension even in times of emergency or armed conflict.

The proposed changes would greatly enhance the president’s power to impose and maintain the states of emergency in which these basic rights could be suspended.

It would broaden the circumstances in which the president could impose states of emergency, to include not only “catastrophes,” “calamities” and “other similar situations,” but also cases where “a certain and imminent possibility exists for the occurrence of situations capable of originating catastrophes, public calamities and other similar situations.” This is of concern, because, as the UN Human Rights Committee has made clear, “not every disturbance or catastrophe qualifies as a public emergency which threatens the life of the nation” and would justify restrictions or suspension of protected rights.

The proposal would eliminate the existing time limits on states of emergency, leaving it entirely to the discretion of the president to determine when an “emergency” has ended. Under the proposed amendments, the president would still be required to seek congressional approval for an emergency decree (within an eight-day period), but would not need authorization to extend it. The proposal would also eliminate the power of the National Assembly to revoke the state of emergency.

Chavez seems to be constantly half a step away from claiming a U.S. coup is imminent and if he could convince the National Assembly to agree with his claims, he’d become essentially a dictator, with no constitutional way to stop him.

Mark seems pretty sure Chavez will be ousted in the near future. I’m not naive enough to think that’s not a possibility, but Chavez himself may beat us to it. He’s handling the loss well enough so far, but he does have an authoritarian streak. How much will he push and how much will the people of Venezuela take?

Certainly something to watch.

Categories: World news

Go Che!

October 9, 2007 8 comments

It’s apparently the anniversary of Che Guevara’s death. Or it was yesterday. The hero of half-witted leftists and t-shirt manufacturers everywhere is being honored. Hooray.

Then again, completely ineffective communists are the best kind, aren’t they?

Categories: World news

Things could be better

June 25, 2007 1 comment

For some reason, the current front page over at Hit & Run (I have resisted their libertarianism for at least a year and a half, which is a good sign) is loaded with interesting/depressing news. A British labor union endorsing Hugo Chavez, George Will’s shrill screed on a free speech case he happens to be on the right side of, Cathy Young’s article on Norman Finkelstein, Dave Barry’s run for president, and the “Bong hits 4 Jesus” case being decided the wrong way.

Also, did you know California is trying to outlaw mixed breed dogs? My head is going to explode.

Islam forever

May 30, 2007 Leave a comment

Can you leave Islam? In Malaysia, not so much.

Lina Joy, 42, had fought the decisions of Malaysia’s lower courts in an effort to have the word “Islam” removed from her identity card, arguing that the constitution guaranteed her religious freedom.

But the panel of three judges decided, in a majority verdict, that it had no power to intervene in cases of apostasy. These cases fall under the jurisdiction of Malaysia’s Sharia courts, which run in tandem with the country’s civil courts.

Man, that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Sharia courts running in tandem with civil courts? Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Who doesn’t want a court enforcing backwards laws from the 10th century? I mean, I know I’m all about submitting to a religion founded by a delusional pedophile. Aren’t you?

Two-hundred Muslim protesters who gathered in a prayer vigil outside the court yesterday greeted the verdict with cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).

Hooray! Let’s force people to officially be Muslim, but not actually be one! Do these people think they get points or something for keeping people Muslim in the eyes of a government? I’m at a loss to explain the celebration here.

Categories: Religion, World news

I'm excited

February 4, 2007 Leave a comment

This week is going to be fun. Not only is the project I’m on at work going to be largely complete, two days this week will consist of me doing nothing but learning Python from this guy. I don’t get to attend the third day of training, but it’ll still be fun.

In other news, Beryl is entertaining. Useful? No. Entertaining? Yes. Bending down the corner of a window to see behind it is endlessly amusing to me.

Also, which part of “free speech” does the EU not understand?

Categories: Personal, Tech, World news

It seemed like such a nice Eastern religion

January 24, 2007 Leave a comment

How could it all go so wrong:

The military regime in Burma is intent on wiping out Christianity in the country, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry. Entitled “Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma”, the incendiary memo contains point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state.

The text, which opens with the line “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised”, calls for anyone caught evangelising to be imprisoned. It advises: “The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilise its weakness.”

The document, shown to The Sunday Telegraph by human rights groups, may have been produced by a state-sponsored Buddhist group, but with the tacit approval of the military junta. The regime has denied authorship of the document – which also calls for teenagers to be prevented from wearing Western clothes – but has made no public attempt to refute or repudiate its contents.

Categories: Religion, World news

Tripoli Six

December 19, 2006 Leave a comment

I have a post on the issue over at Montana Netroots. Go read it if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Categories: Science, World news

The news is funny

July 5, 2006 2 comments

North Korea launches brutal assault on the Sea of Japan. Hundreds of fish killed. North Korea claims fish were hindering autonomy. (via Rebels Are We!)

Cindy Sheehan goes on a hunger strike with a few thousand of her friends. 2,700 people all on a hunger strike at the same time? What a statement! What’s that? They’re trading off day by day, with only one person striking at a time? What the hell kind of hunger strike is this? No one cares about hunger strikes until someone looks like those Ethiopian kids in National Geographic. When actors are sacrificing for movie roles more than you are for a political cause, it’s time to rethink your priorities. (via Dave Budge)

Did you know there’s a Christian fiction award called the Christy? No, it’s not Christ-y, but I still find it highly amusing.

Categories: Religion, The Left, World news

Silly comparisons

April 13, 2006 Leave a comment

I’d just like to point out that while Comedy Central shouldn’t have caved to fundamentalist assholes by not showing Mohammad in last night’s South Park, comparing that to Jesus shitting all over the place at the end of the show isn’t really valid. The way they showed Jesus is pretty simple gross out offensiveness, but a caricature of Mohammad is offensive to Muslims because it violates a tenet of their religion. So it’s pretty obviously more offensive. That doesn’t mean there’s any justification for censoring the caricature, but we’re clearly dealing with different levels of offensiveness.

Categories: Culture, Religion, World news

We're all so ignorant

February 12, 2006 1 comment

There’s a letter in the Chronicle today sort of defending the Muslim response to those cartoons:

Mr. Martens’s (Feb. 8th) letter about the Danish cartoons is an excellent example of the lack of knowledge and understanding in this country of Islam and the Arab culture. He sees no justification for the reaction to the cartoons. However, as an analogy, what would happen if Mr. Martens went into one of Bozeman’s livelier bars and started telling some of the patrons they were drunken bums. Quite likely he would suffer a good deal of violence to his face because Bozeman bar patrons have their own way of reacting to disparaging remarks.

So…all the Muslims rioting were drunk?

This brings up a distinction that some have missed, I think. Whether the response is unexpected or not is different from whether it is justified. Notably, it’s a distinction some conservatives have missed at times when some on the Left have claimed our foreign policy is responsible for terrorism. I’m not surprised that Muslims are rioting. I wouldn’t be surprised if the letter writer’s hypothetical bar provocation resulted in violence. In neither case is violence justified, however.

Still, what does this have to do with understanding Islam? We’re all aware now that graphical depictions of Muhammad are forbidden in Islam. However, there’s no way an understanding of Islam can lead us to excepting the rioters from the requirements of civil society.

Categories: Religion, World news
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