Monday, February 02, 2009

"Cuba to attend Human Rights Council with head held high"

Psychologists have known since the work of LaPiere in the 1930s that there is often a very large gap between what people say and what they do. The report below from the official organ of the government of Cuba, however, must be one of the more amusing examples of such a gap

CUBA is to attend the Universal Periodic review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council with its head held high and a clean conscience, given its work in favor of human rights for all Cuban men and women, affirmed Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). He described as intense and genuinely participative the drafting of the island's national report to the UPR, the text of which is available on the Cubaminrex and Cubadebate websites and is to be published in tabloid format.

The process involved many state institutions and 200-plus of the island's NGO'S, as well as 150 from other countries, which submitted their contributions to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He explained that Cuba is taking on this exercise, scheduled for February 5, with all seriousness and a sense of responsibility, convinced that respectful dialogue, based on the principles of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectiveness, is the only way for international cooperation on human rights issues.

The foreign minister also referred to the anti-Cuba mandate imposed on the former Human Rights Commission, whose elimination, he stated, has made it possible to qualitatively intensify our cooperation with the mechanisms applied in this context on non-discriminatory bases; and which was an act of essential justice toward our people, as well as a recognition of the prestige and the work of the Revolution in protecting and promoting human rights for all.

Perez Roque also announced that, next week, Cuba is to extend an invitation to Manfred Novak, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as part of the country's disposition to continue relating to the Council's special procedures. In the same press conference the minister announced the upcoming ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, in a country in which "in the last 50 years, there has not even been one disappeared or tortured person, and not one extra-judicial execution," he noted.

Cuba is party to 41 of the most important human rights treaties or conventions, and last year signed the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, currently moving through the ordinary procedure of constitutional consultation. Cuba is sending reports to the Committees on the Rights of the Child and on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and is likewise working on its report to the Committee against Torture, which should be ready for submission at the end of March.



Another gross FEMA failure -- but it is not the President's fault this time

It's only the fault of the President if he is a Republican

Where is FEMA? That's the question rural southerners are asking. Or would be asking if their lips weren't frozen shut. At least 42 people have died, including 11 in Kentucky, and conditions are worsening in many places days after an ice storm knocked out power to 1.3 million customers from the Plains to the East Coast. About a million people were still without electric Friday, and with no hope that the lights will come back on soon, small communities are frantically struggling to help their residents.

The death toll may be higher already, Grayson County Emergency Management Director Randell Smith indicates there are many people they just haven't been able to get to. "We don't even know that they're alive," said Smith, who also indicated that the National Guard showed up without even chainsaws to clear fallen trees from the roads.

Across the stricken area, local officials are increasingly upset at the lack of assistance from the Federal Government. As Tim Blair puts it, "according to the Katrina template, this is all Obama's fault." Right, Kanye?

FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak said that some FEMA people are getting out into the state, but indicated that they are hampered by icy and dangerous conditions. So, just so we are clear Mary, the ice emergency is hard to help with because its all icy? The worst hit areas are poor rural counties. You know, the kind full of bitter people clinging to guns and religion. I reckon they're clinging to them right now. Facing freezing to death alone in the country no doubt puts one's mind to prayer. More from the AP:
Even for those who wanted to leave, it wasn't possible. The one gas station in Marion that was up and running was able to supply gasoline to emergency vehicles only until another delivery of gasoline arrived Friday. Only half of that gas was made available to the public, and there was a $10 limit. Linda Young, who is staying the town's shelter, said her car only had enough gas in it to get around Marion. Even if she had gas, there was nowhere to go - all of her relatives in other parts of Kentucky also were hit by the ice storm.

They are trapped, huddled in shelters, and wondering what's next. But hey, the governor said Obama called him and was all, you know, worried. So it's not like he's not doing anything. I wonder if the President told the Governor that Kentuckians should "toughen up"? Is "flinty" a synonym for grossly insensitive? It would, of course, be despicable to suggest the President isn't helping because of the race and income levels of the majority of the victims. Although as Jeff Emanuel notes, it's been known to happen.




How British. Huge rewards for huge incompetence: "Dozens of staff at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) have been offered early-release payoffs worth up to 240,000 pounds after a secret Whitehall report found its work was being undermined by alleged cronyism and incompetence. The SFO, which received 42m from the government last year to tackle Bernie Madoff-style fraud, has offered many of its lawyers and accountants gold-plated pensions and lump-sum payoffs, in some cases worth three times their salary. The move follows a confidential review of the agency by Jessica de Grazia, a former US prosecutor, who found a widespread perception of cronyism where staff believed the agency was "a bit of an old boy's club". The unpublished report, seen by The Sunday Times, said staff were promoted because they were "nice". Some employees felt this was because they were "friends of the [then] director". SFO officials said it was "like a rudderless ship [with] the blind leading the blind". John Lawson, head of Standard Life pensions, said the payoffs were "an offer to die for".

Britain's crooked Lords: "Peers who avoid tax or have criminal convictions - such as Lord Archer and Lord Black - are to be expelled from the House of Lords in the wake of the lords for hire scandal. The reforms are being drawn up by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, in an attempt to restore the Lords' battered reputation after last weekend's revelations in The Sunday Times. He plans to enact the legislation necessary to expel them before the general election, which has to be held by May next year. Peers who are "non-domiciled" or "non-resident" for tax purposes - there are thought to be at least seven - will lose their seats, as will those who have been convicted of a serious criminal offence. Our disclosures that Labour peers were prepared to amend laws in the Lords on behalf of businesses has lifted the lid on the frenetic business activity in the second chamber... Our inquiries have established that other peers are routinely attempting to change legislation that would favour companies and organisations which pay them. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Baroness Royall, Labour leader in the Lords, said the system was "bananas". [Most members are now political hacks appointed by the government so this was to be expected]

British police 'ran away' from jeering Muslim demonstrators: "Video footage posted on a website shows police officers running way from chanting demonstrators who took part in a violent protest in London against Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip. The ten-minute amateur film shows 30 officers being chased by a crowd of up to 3,000 people who broke away from an official protest march last month. The video, posted on YouTube, shows protesters chanting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and 'Fatwa', a death threat under Islamic law. As they walk past St James's Palace, demonstrators throw traffic cones and stones at the police, who are seen running away from the threat before turning to walk backwards. One demonstrator shouts: 'Run, run, you cowards. Run, you poof. Allahu Akbar.'"

More on the decay of British policing: "The anonymous blogging policeman records that officers are visiting areas with high vehicle crime and identifying vulnerable vehicles. They attach a sticker to the windscreen informing the owner that there is some kind of insecurity. They even tick a box telling the owner how the vehicle is insecure. This marks out the vulnerable cars for thieves and helpfully informs them how to proceed. As the blogger says: "This is quite the maddest scheme in British policing." I certainly hope so. I sadly suspect not."

The British car industry, the bailout and the taxpayer : "On Wednesday, UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson went some way in bailing out the carmakers by giving them credit, though you might think that it was too much credit that got us all into this mess in the first place, but put that aside for one moment. The real issue is where this cash is going to come from. Our leaders like to suggest that it's just some bookkeeping entry at the Bank, but every pound lent to a potential car customer has to come from somewhere. And indeed, it comes from taxpayers. Hairdressers in Harwich have to pay higher taxes so that Sloane Rangers can buy a new Jag or a new Lexus. Yes, that could save lots of jobs, possibly thousands, in carmaking. But only by putting jobs under threat everywhere else."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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