Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Loose Strings

Here at RiverRocks we try to be fair, even when totally unbalanced. So here are some random updates on previous rants/posts.

Humanitarian organization CARE Int’l has pulled out of Iraq following the abduction of their chief.

Chicago has found no more Frankenfish in their harbor, giving hope that they may have been spared the horror.

Those evil Europeans & their demonic CERN particle accelerator have taken up the critical question of Life, The Universe & Everything. Don’t expect Shrub to reconsider his particular answer to that question in light of any discoveries they make, however. You know how much he listens to the Europeans, let alone scientists.

Turns out the school district terrorism scare was, in fact harmless (or so they say…) The FBI is now claiming that the Iraqi man who downloaded the information was not tied to terrorists or insurgents as was originally reported. He did have ties to Saddam Hussein and the Baath party but they say “that’s true of most former community leaders”. So maybe it was something like my innocent hypothesis #2. Big surprise – more ‘be afraid, be very afraid’/ ‘oops, nevermind you’re perfectly safe’ chain-yanking.

And last, but not least – the Afghanistan elections did appear to go off without much violence, and only a slight hitch, contrary to all my doom & gloomer predictions. And the hitch isn’t even that bad. Sure, some funny business apparently went on but no more so than what’s been going on here in the U.S. of A. Shrub may even have veen right in stating during the last debate that a 19 yr old woman cast the first ballot in the election. But what he failed to mention was she cast that ballot in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad - and not in Afghanistan itself where women are still being intimidated by the Taliban and other fundamentalist factors into not participating. He also failed to mention how golden boy Karzai is not only continuing to turn a blind eye to the abuse of women’s rights in Afghanistan by fundamentalist Northern Alliance warlords (who he is now allied with); in many cases he is aiding and abetting them in their efforts. Snip:

“While much mileage has been squeezed out of the notion that the U.S. “liberated” Afghan women, only one dollar out of every $5,000 ($112,500 out of $650 million) of U.S. financial aid sent to Afghanistan in 2002 was actually given to women’s organizations. In 2003, according to Ritu Sharma, Executive Director of the Women’s Edge Coalition, that amount was reduced to $90,000. At the same time, women have increasingly been the targets of violence. New studies by groups like Amnesty International reveal that sexual violence has surged since the fall of the Taliban, and there has been a sharp rise in incidents of women’s self-immolation in Western Afghanistan. Amnesty International has documented an escalation in the number of girls and young women abducted and forced into marriage, with collusion from the state (those who resist are often imprisoned).”

“U.S. policy has empowered extreme fundamentalists who have further extended women’s oppression in a traditionally ultra-conservative society. In a public opinion survey conducted in Afghanistan this July by the Asia Foundation, 72% of respondents said that men should advise women on their voting choices and 87% of all Afghans interviewed said women would need their husband’s permission to vote. On International Women’s Day this year, Hamid Karzai only encouraged such attitudes. He implored men to allow their wives and sisters to register to vote, assuring them, “later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go [to register].”

Shrub holding up this election as a triumph for women's rights is like Jim Crow trying to claim former slaves were fully liberated and equal in 1920.

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