Robert Wone

Somehow I came across a New York Times article about the reporting of the murder of Robert Wone. It was kind of meta, an article about the online vs paper reporting of the investigation of a grisly murder. I found the actual articles more interesting. It's a kind of fascinating case where it's entirely unclear if the DC police are trying to pin a crime on three men in an unconventional relationship or if a nice guy was killed in a fucked up creepy rape. Oh, there's a blog too.


From Robert Fisk today.
The footage of a brutal police force assaulting the political opposition on the streets of the capital has shocked the world. Rightly so, although no one has made comparison with police forces who batter demonstrators on the streets of Western Europe, who beat women with night-sticks, who have kicked over an innocent middle-aged man who immediately suffered a fatal heart attack, who have shot down an innocent passenger on the London Tube... There are special codes of morality to be applied to Middle East countries which definitely must not apply to us.

As far as I know Fisk is the only western journalist reporting out of Iran right now. If you're after reporting and informed commentary as instead of rumor-mill buckshot 140 characters at a time, please read what he's had to say.
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Minor update

So we've been on the road almost a week. Had a great visit in San Diego with Roz and CJ. Spent the past 5 days in campgrounds (plus one night at a motel-6). Sharon put some photos up here and I'll have more when I find a more reliable internet connection and uploader here.

The best thing I've learned: KOA campgrounds are awesome.

Traveling the world

Apparently I haven't really mentioned this on my LiveJournal, but dearanxiety and I are quitting our jobs and traveling for a little over a year, starting in a little over a week.

We're hoping to meet up with plenty of people along the way. Our itinerary looks kind of like this:
May: drive across the South of the US
June: hang out in Ohio, go to Bonnaroo, Sharon's sister's wedding
half of July: relax by the beach in New Jersey, minor east-coast visiting
mid July - mid November: visit friends, family and random places in Europe
last half of November: Sharon's brother's wedding, relax by the beach in Florida, thanksgiving
December - January: Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan
February: Ghana
March: Kenya / Uganda / Rwanda (including a gorilla safari)
April - June: Australia including Aaron and Nicola's wedding, Perth, Margaret River, WA road trip, Melbourne, Sydney
half of July: New Zealand

and then home, poor, skinny, unemployed.

Racism is bad... when you don't talk about it.

So the Obama administration has decided to boycott the UN racism forum and a bunch of other "western" countries have decided to follow suit. Their objection seems to be that a past conference described Zionism as racist. Duh. Of course it's racist. It's an ideology about defining a national identity around racial (or ethnic or religious or whatever) criteria. That doesn't mean that it's bad. Affirmative action / positive discrimination is also racist, but many people (including me) would argue that it's justified.

It's important to talk about these questions in open, inclusive forums. My gut reaction when people don't feel comfortable talking about this is that they don't believe in the morality of the policies, otherwise what's to fear?

How do you remember The Alamo?

So as part of our upcoming road trip through the south I was looking into what the whole Alamo thing was all about. Not growing up through the American education system my knowledge was limited. I'd learned the Davy Crocket song in French as a kid in Canada (Davy, Davy Crocket, l'homme qui n'a jamais eu peur) and I had the general sense that it was the story of American civilians trying to seize land from Mexico and getting roundly defeated.

There was of course a lot more to it. I read up a bunch about the Texas Revolution and the Battle of the Alamo on Wikipedia last night and there were a few things that stuck out.

First of all, the American settlers had been there for quite a while. They'd set up ranches and considered themselves to be native. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain there were a couple of changes that they made. First, they banned slavery in 1829, then they tried to centralize control from what had been a bunch of Spanish colonies into a single state. Neither of these sat well well with the Texians. The Alamo should fit nicely into the rest of our civil rights themed tour of the South.

Secondly the treatment of Americans who had come to fight on the side of the revolutionaries was harsh. They were considered under Mexican law as pirates. When captured they were treated as criminals not as prisoners of war. Today we would have called them illegal enemy combatants.

Remember the Alamo?

Economic downturn prevents child genital mutilation

From what I read in Newsweek:

Apparently states whose Medicaid don't pay for male genital mutilation at birth have a 24% lower rate than those that do. Doctors say that more and more parents don't want to pay the $300 to have their children's genitals sliced up now that it's not covered by the state. I can't imagine wanting to have that done to any children, regardless of price, but I guess we'll take all the progress we can get.

Hopefully eventually this will become a human rights or a health issue, not an economic one.


Today's coverage of the protests, counter-protests and police response in Umm al-Fahm reminded me of a question that's been popping up in my head for the past couple of years. All of the articles I've seen refer to one set of protesters as "Israeli Jews" and the other set of protesters as "Israeli Arabs". On one side we have a religious grouping on the other side a language grouping.

When we were in Israel we met an Israeli who is Jewish but also Arabic - his family is from Iraq, he speaks fluent Arabic and it's the language of his ancestors. Like Israelis of all religions he also speaks Hebrew fluently. But he's not one of the "Israeli Arabs" who were being protested in Umm al-Fahm this week. He's one of the 3.5 million Sephardim and Mizrahim who are linguistically and often culturally Arabic.

The real divide here is not language or culture or ethnicity it's religion. Why aren't we calling a spade a spade? Why don't the news stories talk about Israeli Christians and Israeli Muslims?