Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 31, 2012: Human Rights Court Must Hear Haiti's Victims

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Once again, Haiti's lack of understanding of the rule of law has let down its people and the course of justice.

This time, the fault lies with Investigative Magistrate Carves Jean, who recommended that former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier be tried for corruption, but not for human rights abuses that include murder and torture.

Duvalier ruled from 1971-86, when he was driven from power and into exile in France. In the wake of the chaotic aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that destroyed so much infrastructure and government in Haiti, he returned last year.

The United Nations would like to see a trial for Duvalier. But so far, there has been a disappointing silence from the United States.

While one might suppose the U.S. is interested in Haiti's self-determination on all issues, the matter of the Duvalier regime's murder and abuse of thousands of Haitians transcends that.

If anything, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be taking the lead in calling for an international tribunal on the atrocities committed by the Duvalier regime. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights should hear this.

The victims of "Baby Doc" Duvalier's thuggery deserve their day in court.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday January 16, 2012: Occupy Folks Should Learn From Dr. King

By Sylvia Gurinsky

They've proved the first points by staying.

Now, the people representing the Occupy movement should try moving - specifically, marching.

All over the country, state legislatures are making moves that could be good - or not - for job and economic situations. That means the people's voice should be heard.

The Florida Legislature can hear those people more clearly if they're standing in front of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee, rather than sitting inside the tents next to the Miami-Dade County Government Center in Downtown Miami.

If the goal is to communicate the need for more jobs, for a more even playing field for American workers, for better opportunities and so forth, it's time to do so at the state level.

It's also time to do so by registering to vote - and by registering to run for office.

Today, the United States honors a man who was instrumental in encouraging both - marches and involvement in the political process - as ways Americans should use to make themselves heard.

"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy," Dr. Martin Luther King said in that famous August, 1963 speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Get out of those tents. Get involved.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tuesday January 10: Get Wise To Florida Legislature's Redistricting Games

By Sylvia Gurinsky

This was a bad time for a recall of Excedrin and Gas-X: The start of the Florida Legislature's 2012 session.

No doubt the Tallahassee gang will cause plenty of headaches and heartburn during the next two months - starting with redistricting.

Lawmakers are already trying to figure out how to get around the will of voters. In 2010, Floridians, of course, decided that the redistricting process should be de-politicized as much as possible, and that districts should be drawn without favor to political parties. It's already led to some pathetic scenes - doubtless the most pathetic being efforts by Republicans to give a "safe seat" to U.S. Rep. Allen West, who doesn't even live in the district he represents now.

Equally pathetic are the various paths Florida residents have to travel in cyberspace to access the proposed maps. The main website is http://www.floridaredistricting.org/ . Once you get there, see if it's possible to find the proposed redistricting maps in less than three steps. You already know the answer.

The real answer is that you have to go to the Florida House website at http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Redistricting/Redistricting2012.aspx
and click on the "Bills" section to see proposed maps.

Then go to the "Representatives" section at the top of the page, find your representative and make your voice heard on redistricting.

Because if that's what it takes simply to view a map, think of what the legislature is doing to mess with what the voters asked for in November, 2010.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday January 5: Israel's Wake-Up Call

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin didn't do it. But perhaps the harassment of an 8-year-old girl - and of various girls and women - has given Israel its wake-up call about the dangers of its extremists - and the complicity of its government in letting this behavior go on.

The level of observance of the thugs responsible for harassment, segregation of women on buses and other wrongdoings is less important than the fact that they're not acting like Jews at all. There is no derech eretz in their behavior.

There's only hypocrisy in the behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Many will never forget the anger of Leah Rabin at Netanyahu for his role in encouraging the atmosphere that led to her husband's murder. This time, in order to keep his seat, Netanyahu has made numerous deals with the devils - the right-wing parties - and allowed them to skip responsibilities to pay taxes, serve in the army and take on many other duties of being an Israeli citizen. Numerous people supported by those parties don't even believe in a state of Israel, and providing any government financial support to them makes no sense.

The Israeli Knesset should end such subsidies and start a true government reform process so prime ministers won't be held hostage by fringe parties.

Other political leaders have simply used the harassment issue for their own gain - most notably former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who blew chances last fall to be on the correct side of the economic inequality protests and the release of Gilad Shalit. She doesn't come off as a true believer, only an opportunistic one.

It's ridiculous that a country whose third prime minister was a woman (Golda Meir) should have moved so far backwards in the 38 years since her tenure ended.

Meir once said, "Whether women are better than men I cannot say - but I can say they are certainly no worse."

Many Israeli men and women have shown the better with their courage in fighting the extremists. It's up to them to lead their elected government to do the same.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday January 2, 2012: Iowa Campaign an Insult to Intelligence of State and Some Candidates

By Sylvia Gurinsky

After tonight, no doubt, the majority of Iowans will breathe a sigh of relief that they don't have to go through THAT again for another three-and-a-half years.

Regardless of the result, one thing is clear: The campaign leading up to tonight's caususes may not be the ugliest ever, but there is no glory about it.

That's because both the media and a number of the Republican presidential candidates did plenty of dumbing down and moving around on important policy issues.

With the exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, candidates in the category of "those who should know better" - namely former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich - have bent over backwards, forwards and sideways to appease right-wing voters in ways that compromise their views on issues.

Gingrich has so many positions on climate change that he may turn into a human weathervane. Romney - once the governor of the state with the best public television station (Boston's WGBH) in the country - reached the ludicrous last week with his wish to commercialize PBS. (A dishonorable mention goes to Romney's son Matt, who said his father would release his tax returns when President Barack Obama releases his birth certificate - a cheap shot, as well as undignified and probably not in the Mormon code of behavior).

As for the media, good luck getting anything from the Washington corps (That includes you Gwen Ifill and most of your "Washington Week" colleagues.) that's not their version of what ESPN does with the NFL playoff picture. Plenty about who's polling well, plenty about who wins and who doesn't. Almost nothing about what it means to the average voter.

Iowa residents and Americans in general have been insulted and trivialized. What they haven't gotten is any better idea of which of the Republicans might be best qualified for president.

Look out, Florida. They're heading here.