Blog of Mass Distraction

Sunday, May 29, 2005

On dit Non!

Amnesty International released its annual report on human rights and there was a fair amount of attention given to US violations in places like Guantanamo and the other military prisons. The report condemned the US administration for holding people without charge, without communication and in miserable conditions including torturing them. The Nobel Prize winning NGO went as far as saying Guantanamo, and its ilk, is the Gulag of our times.1
The release of the report summarily brought a condemnation of AI. The inevitable comparisons between the US human rights record and that of horrid dictatorships (as an example of how decent and noble the US is), invoking September 11th, 2001 and the war on terror, and the dismissal of AI as an anti-American organization, all were brought up in the various articles and op-eds in the Toronto Star, Washington Post and New York Times.

In Canadian politics, a growing scandal is erupting over discussion between Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal and Liberal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh.2 Grewal alleges the Liberals were trying to bribe him into abstaining or voting with them during the recent confidence vote. Long discussion tapes were released where Dosanjh and a representative from the PMO carfully discussed what could/would happen if Grewal supported them or abstained in the vote. But for bribery there is likely as much chance that Grewal was asking as the Liberals were offering (which doesn't really say much for either of them).

The secret identity of Deep Throat was also confirmed to be Mark Felt. The former deputy chief of the FBI was on the short list of those suspected of being the famous informant that brought down the Nixon presidency. Felt, now in his early 90s and retired, as passed up by Nixon for chief of the FBI and was annoyed by the Whitehouse's interference in investigating the Watergate break in.

Finally, the French public has voted No on a referendum about accepting the EU constitution. The constitution was approved in the French parliament, but Chirac said there had to be a referendum and it was thrown back in his face. The unpopular president spent more time threatening the dangers of voting no than promoting the benefits of voting yes. In fact most parties across the spectrum were telling the French public to vote yes and they didn't listen, presumably in defiance of being told what to do. There was also the fear that the EU constitution is too free-market oriented (ironically, the English think the opposite). The Netherlands are going to have a similar referendum shortly and they are polling a No result as well. It's not really known if these rejections will cause revisions to the constitution or if they may just vote again on the same one.


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