July 12, 2008
‘Sudan warns of ‘disastrous’ consequences if president is indicted’: Maybe They’ll Start A Slaughter In Darfur
July 12, 2008
CAIRO, Egypt – An indictment of Sudan’s president for war crimes in Darfur would be “disastrous” for the region and could affect humanitarian organizations working there, a Sudanese government spokesman said Saturday.
Mahjoub Fadul Badry told the Arabiyah news channel that if the International Criminal Court sought to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, it would be a violation of the country’s sovereignty and would have consequences.
“If an international organization or the organizations working in the humanitarian field are behind such an indictment of the head of state, our symbol of national sovereignty, then no-one should expect us to turn our left cheek,” said Badry.
He didn’t specify what actions might be taken but there are fears the charges could provoke reprisals against international aid workers and the UN-African Union peacekeepers that are already experiencing difficulties in doing their work.
The prosecutor of the ICC is expected to seek an arrest warrant Monday charging Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with orchestrating violence in Darfur that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead since 2003.
Sudan, meanwhile, has asked for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers ahead of the expected indictment, according to Arab League spokesman Abdel Aleem el-Abyad Saturday.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who is currently in Paris, is making phone calls to Arab foreign ministers set up the meeting. [Naturally, the Arab League members are beside themselves. The idea that Arab regimes and leaders might be held accountable for indiscriminate murders, racism and genocide is an intolerable notion- emp- SC&A]
The court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said the prosecutor will present evidence of war crimes in Darfur to judges Monday and one or more new suspects would be named.
Court officials refused to identify any of the potential new suspects.
The court’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, has clearly indicated that he’s aiming for the top leadership of the Sudanese government, accusing them of sponsoring the janjaweed militias who have unleashed a reign of terror on the country’s Darfur region.
Up to 300,000 people have died since the conflict began in early 2003.
Actually, over the last two and a half decades, there have been between 2-3 million killed. A deliberate policy of genocide against Christians has been most effective.
There are virtually none left in Sudan.
July 12, 2008
For my sister, Mary, who has lived in a Maryland institution for the mentally retarded since she was 8, there’s no hiding the fact that food is central. When she is eating, food appears to be the focus of her attention. She doesn’t like to be distracted from it by conversations, let alone by dramatic events. In anticipating the birthday lunches my parents planned for her on her yearly two-hour visits to their summer rental in Bronxville, N.Y., to which she was accompanied by an attendant, she would always reel off the menu she was expecting. This meal never varied throughout her teens and remained unchanged as she passed through her 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s: chicken salad, tomatoes, rolls with butter, iced tea, ice cream and cake. Each summer, she would mention the food within moments of arriving. Mary has a way of speaking that can almost be like singing or intoning, with each syllable given enormous weight. This menu always sounded particularly emphatic. During the chicken-salad course, she would mention a few times that ice cream and cake were coming.
Mary is 59. So am I. We are twins. These days, children with the degree of autism, mental retardation and elements of schizophrenia from which she suffers are more likely to live in a group home than to be institutionalized. Indeed, even the notion of “suffering” that I just suggested has come to look a bit suspect, since it implies that it is “best” for a person not to have certain “deficits.” And I am no longer certain that she suffers more than others, only that her distress can be more immediately obvious when it hits her, and harder to comprehend, because limited verbal communication is at the heart of what ails her.
I spent my early childhood trying to read her. So did my parents, who maintained that it would upset Mary to return to the Manhattan apartment where she spent her first eight years, if only for a two-hour lunch. Therefore even when my older brother and I had reached advanced middle age, our father had died and our mother’s health had declined to such an extent that she could no longer go to Bronxville, we held the yearly lunches in a private hotel dining room and had them replicate the exact menu we made for Mary in Bronxville.
By the summer of 2005, it was clear that our mother would not last much longer. At 99, she was unable to move her hands or legs or take care of herself in any way. She had not spoken for months, was hard of hearing and would only open her eyes for a few minutes at a time. Our friends Amy and Piergiorgio were now living with her and, along with an extraordinary woman named Marjorie, helping to take care of her. Piergiorgio prepared wonderful soft dishes for her, which she was fed while her eyes remained, for the most part, closed. In those last weeks, when Amy read to her, our mother, a journalist who had been a brilliantly verbal person, no longer gazed raptly up at her face as she used to do but remained curled up in sleep, in her darkness.
Together Amy, Piergiorgio, Marjorie, my brother, his girlfriend and I decided to organize a birthday lunch for Mary in the apartment. We were worried about whether she would be shocked to see her mother in such a debilitated state in her wheelchair — unable perhaps to recognize Mary, to hug or talk to her, and possibly remaining asleep the entire time — and we were equally concerned that Mary might explode in some kind of blind fury at the sight of the apartment. I racked my brain for the lunch items we needed — the exact type of rolls, for example. Amy reminded our mother about the coming lunch every day, whispering into her ear. I purchased a birthday cake and ice cream; my brother and his girlfriend bought presents; Marjorie brought balloons. At the last moment, in addition to the chicken salad and tomatoes and rolls prepared by Amy, Piergiorgio decided to produce an antipasto plate brimming with salami, prosciutto, mozzarella, Brie, olives and tomatoes with basil, while Marjorie prepared an elaborate salad and a huge watermelon with sliced fruit inside. These dishes looked as startling to me in this context as a pork loin at a Seder, but it was too late to worry.
Escorted by an aide, Mary arrived dressed in a snappy striped shirt and pink summer pants. She had a particularly comfortable, confident air. In fact, it was as if she knew her way around. Although she asked where the bathroom was, she walked to it as if from long-buried habit. Her ease in the apartment, and with our mother, was self-evident. But this was the least of the surprises. She ate her chicken salad and rolls and tomatoes, to be sure, but she was particularly taken with the antipasto, of which she asked for second and third helpings, while asking for more of everything by name. She dug into the watermelon and the unexpected salad with obvious delight and interest. More than once she said that she was having a wonderful time.
And all of this occurred in the presence of a miracle. From the moment our mother was brought into the room, her eyes remained open in unmistakable wonder and joy, as she looked from one of us to the other in astonishment and gratitude, galvanized, awakened, transfixed, radiantly fulfilled by the sight of her daughter. The occasion brought her back from a kind of somnolence that had lasted for months, as if encountering bright daylight after an age of darkness. Her eyes remained opened even after Mary left, and that night she barely slept.
It is amazing how much people contain that we never have a chance to know about, how vast and mysterious we all are. I thought back to this birthday lunch when, only a few months later, we were remembering our mother. How could I not cry when Piergiorgio recited these lines in Italian from a poem by Salvatore Quasimodo:
Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.
(Everyone stands alone on the heart of the earth
transfixed by a sun ray:
and suddenly it is evening.)
Allen Shawn, the composer and writer, teaches at Bennington College. He is the author of “Wish I Could Be There.”
July 12, 2008
John McCain suffered as a POW longer than Barack Obama has been a senator.
In fact, John McCain was a Prisoner of War 13 times longer than Barack Obama was a US senator before he decided to run for President.
From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United State Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the US Senate.
In contrast, John McCain has 26 years in Congress, 22 years of military service, and 1,966 days in captivity as a POW in Hanoi, via Cheri Jacobus.
This puts things into perspective.
But, Obama was a community service organizer and he did go to church.