Greg Prince's Blog

Musings and pontifications from a reality based progressive

Archive for the ‘International’ Category

The quest for happiness

Posted by Greg on January 21, 2011

Forbes magazine has an interesting article on the ten happiest countries, based on a recent survey.

They are, in order:

1. Norway

2. Denmark

3. Finland

4. Australia

5. New Zealand

6. Sweden

7. Canada

8. Switzerland

9. Netherlands

10. United States

I recommend reading the whole article, some interesting stuff both country by country and the overall analysis.

Posted in International | Leave a Comment »

Something to renew faith

Posted by Greg on January 9, 2011

It’s been an interesting weekend, following an exhausting week on many fronts.

Here’s a story from Egypt that brings a smile to my face, and goes far toward reminding us that humanity really is worth saving.

Remember this story next time a wingnut tries to tell you there is no such thing as moderate Muslims.

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular Muslim televangelist and preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

 

 

Posted in International, Religion | Leave a Comment »

Knowing the enemy

Posted by Greg on January 7, 2011

This isn’t exactly new news, but the book taking France by storm is a short (13 pages) call to arms against the real enemies of the day.

The Independent   reports:

Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon.

Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the “insolent, selfish” power of money and markets and by defending the social “values of modern democracy”.

It doesn’t exist in translation yet, I haven’t found it as an eBook, and thus far the only source I’ve found domestically is here.  But it sounds like it’ll be worth a read. 

I prefer to not read large quantities in French, and I’d prefer the electronic version, but lacking those options and at only 13 pages, I’m tempted to purchase sooner rather than later. 

You might like it as well.  If you don’t read French, it’s sure to be available in translation soon.

Posted in International, Politics in General | Leave a Comment »

A new appreciation

Posted by Greg on April 27, 2010

In the late eighties while in Milan I had the opportunity to go through an exhibit of photographs from Chernobyl – the meltdown was still raw, the human cost untallied, and the images were shocking and graphic.

Growing up in southern Utah I was always aware of the damage possible, that comes with the territory of being a downwinder, which is to say a person or descendant of people exposed to the radioactive fallout from the open air nuclear tests during the fifties and sixties.

Seeing the results of a real meltdown puts things into a different perspective.  The Independent has a photo sideshow showing Chernobyl 24 years later.  Very different images than the ones I saw over 20 years ago, but just as tragic and in a way just as disturbing.  The damage to human life will go on for generations.

Despite it all, I’m not anti nuclear per se – we have energy needs, and nuclear energy is used worldwide to provide power without the fossil fuel pollution we take for granted in so much of the US.  But safety protocols exist for a reason, and you can’t cheat them long term without mother nature coming back for payment.  And we in the US need to get a better handle on dealing with spent fuel.  Europe recycles.  So should we.

Posted in Environment, International | Leave a Comment »

Time doesn’t change the nature of the crime

Posted by Greg on September 29, 2009

I am sick to death of the glitterati and their silly defenses of child rape.  Yes, Roman Polanski has made a great film or two (and a lot of mediocre crap).  That doesn’t change the fact he’s a child rapist.

Kate Harding calls it well.

The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not — and at least in theory, does not — tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you’ve made.

*****

The reporting on Polanski’s arrest has been every bit as “bizarrely skewed,” if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

Posted in Culture War, International, Justice and the Courts | Leave a Comment »

Mental patient addresses UN

Posted by Greg on September 24, 2009

Another satire gem from the Borowitz Report:

An escaped mental patient broke into the United Nations yesterday, getting all the way to the General Assembly and delivering a ninety-minute speech.

A day after the stunning security breach, U.N. officials were still attempting to sort out how it was allowed to happen.

“We’re trying not to play the blame game here,” said U.N. spokesperson Carol Foyler. “The simple fact is, a legally insane man somehow got all the way to the podium, so how do we keep that from happening again?”

Theories abound as to how the mental patient made it to the U.N., with some suggesting that he may have escaped during a field trip to a county fair.

Reacting to the rambling and incoherent ninety-minute rant, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton echoed the feelings of many: “I was like, where’s Kanye when you need him?”

Posted in Humor, International | Leave a Comment »

Strong words in the parliament

Posted by Greg on March 25, 2009

Posted in International | Leave a Comment »

Saving dolphins, the do it yourself way

Posted by Greg on February 20, 2009

The linguist in me loves these clips just to hear the Newfie accent, but it’s real, real cool what the kids did here.

The locals rescued the animals, with a teenage boy actually getting in the frigid water to help one animal that was weakened by the ordeal.

Very cool.

Hat tip: Towleroad

Posted in International | Leave a Comment »

About that trip

Posted by Greg on February 19, 2009

Yglesias reminds us why Canada matters.

Posted in International, Obama Administration | Leave a Comment »

Sanity in banking

Posted by Greg on February 16, 2009

Alas, it’s in the UK.

The government yesterday publicly hardened its position on bank executive bonuses saying it will be “very, very robust” in clamping down on bonuses for 2008 in banks in which it holds shares. It will only allow modest payments for clerks earning around £20,000 a year.

It came as David Cameron said he would cap all 2008 bonuses at £2,000 for staff in banks owned or partly owned by the government. He also said the government should be willing to sue any bank executive who insisted their contract entitled them to a large bonus for the year.

Posted in Economics, International | 1 Comment »

Time to complete potty training…

Posted by Greg on February 12, 2009

It would appear the royals have had enough of Harry’s foot in mouth disease:

Britain’s Prince Harry has been sent on course on equality and diversity after a series of high profile racial gaffes have damaged the young royal’s reputation, it was reported Thursday.

Harry, an officer in the British Army, was formally disciplined by superiors after videos surfaced showing him using offensive language — referring to a fellow soldier as a “Paki” and another as looking “like a raghead.”

Now, according to the Daily Mirror newspaper, the 24-year-old has been ordered to attend lessons on how not to be racist and gain understanding of how offensive his comments are. …

The latest development follows a new claim that the prince, third in line to throne, told a black British comedian that he didn’t “sound like a black chap.”

In a 2005 gaffe, Harry apologized after he was photographed wearing a Nazi uniform at a party.

Hat tip: WKW@Shakesville

Posted in International, Media | Leave a Comment »

Speaking of surrender

Posted by Greg on January 26, 2009

This is almost funny:

Former French President Jacques Chirac was rushed to a hospital after being mauled by his pet dog who is being treated for depression, in a dramatic incident that rattled the ex-president’s wife.

The couple’s white Maltese poodle, called Sumo, has a history of frenzied fits and became increasingly prone to making “vicious, unprovoked attacks” despite receiving treatment with anti-depressants, Chirac’s wife Bernadette said.

Hat tip: Coyote Blog

Posted in International | Leave a Comment »

Speaking of medieval conditions

Posted by Greg on January 19, 2009

The Plague is back, this time attacking terrorists.

At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages.

The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. It came to light when security forces found a body by a roadside.

The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East.

It trains Muslim fighters to kill British and US troops.

Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells — or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Poetic justice?

Hat tip:  TMV

Posted in International, National Security | Leave a Comment »

Free speech in Iraq

Posted by Greg on December 14, 2008

Consider it an Iraqi upraised middle digit.

Posted in Bush Adminisration, International | Leave a Comment »

When history does not repeat itself

Posted by Greg on November 14, 2008

Who’d have thought Bush’s example would be used to broker peace?  Granted, it’s a textbook case in what not to do, but still:

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”

Mr Saakashvili, who was in Paris to meet Mr Sarkozy yesterday, laughed nervously when a French radio station read him the exchange. “I knew about this scene, but not all the details. It’s funny, all the same,” he said.

Funny indeed.

HT: The Debatable Land

Posted in International | Leave a Comment »