Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to all readers

Happy New Year to all readers.

The days are getting longer, at least in this part of the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Who decides what's news?

Today in Dublin on four occasions people asked me for money.

It would seem there are more and more people begging in the Irish capital.

Not a word these days about the bond holders hovering as vultures over the skies of the still free PIGS.

Why is that? Who determines these things? Who decides what will be news?

Though Interesting to see how a call from Guido Westerwelle could make Hungary think again about its planned law on curtailing freedom of the press. Something positive about EU but would they have listened to Micheál Martin?

Friday, December 24, 2010

One of BBC's great broadcasters

The death of the BBC's Brian Hanrahan is for this blogger poignant.

He was special - everything about him - his words, his voice.

Started out studying maths, changing to politics.

On the demise of Hönecker, he said: He damned up his people, but in the end was damned by them.

Never wise to presume, but can one presume he was educated by the Jesuits?

He was born in March 1949.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas, Nollag shona duit, frohe Weihnachten, buon Natale, Roždestvom Khristovym, sinni kualoq, natale hilare

Happy and holy Christmas to all readers of this blog.

It is snowing heavily in Dublin 2. Does this mean that we never again want to hear a single word or song about a 'white Christmas'.

The usually simple way of getting to and from work every day has become a real drudge.

And this weather is more or less all over Europe

US soldier harshly treated - same old story

United States Private First Class Bradley Manning is in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia.

Manning is believed to have leaked the ‘collateral murder’ video of a US Apache helicopter killing 11 people in Baghdad in 2007, including two Reuters journalists.

Manning is kept in his cell for 23 hours each day, is barred from exercising in his cell on the grounds he might injure himself, and is under constant surveillance.

As a child it is reported he was teased for being gay.

The young man joined the US Army which at the time had a complete ban on gays. His father kicked him out of his house when he learned he was gay.

The story of Private First Class Bradley Manning is replicated in every seminary, in every place where young men are studying for priesthood.

Hopefully, church authorities and the Vatican will carefully examine the painful story of Bradely Manning and learn lessons from it.

The phenomenon of Bradley Manning is such a perfect fit for so many aspects of what is happening in the clerical state.

President Barack Obama has lifted the ban on gays joining the US Army.
That means the issue has the possibility of no longer being taboo, it need no longer be ‘covered up’, it need no longer be a secret.

It is that deathly secrecy that is doing so much harm to the church. And all the lies too. The cover ups and the terrible unhappiness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sixty nine years earlier 23 degrees colder

Ireland is experiencing the coldest weather in decades. Last night a temperature of minus 17 Celsius was recorded in the west.

This blog is read in the Russian cities of Moscow and Saratov.

In December 1941 the Soviet Army was fighting the Germans in temperatures of minus 40 Celsius.

In that weather and ill-prepared, the men and women of Stalingrad, now Volgograd, helped save the world from the barbarism of Nazi Germany.

A German infantryman wrote to his family, "Animals flee this burning hell of a city...the hardest stones do not last for long. Only men endure."

Chuikov sought to minimise the German advantage in firepower by instructing his men to close with the enemy and seek hand to hand combat at every opportunity. The Wehrmacht would then be unable to call in airstrikes or artillery without hitting their own men. The Blitzkrieg tactics which had enabled them to conquer much of Europe were useless, and the battle for the city was now reduced to hundreds of small unit actions.

Stalingrad and Kursk were defining moments in the defeat of Germany.

There is no central committee of truth

This column appears in today's IN&M regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane

Rathgar Road in Dublin, linking Rathmines with Rathgar, has to be one of the finest roads in the country’s capital. It is approximately two kilometres long and links the south side of the city with Terenure, Rathfranham, Tallaght and Ballyboden. Before the days of ring roads and motorways it was one of the roads out of Dublin to the south.

There are some fabulous houses on the road. It boasts a Catholic and Presbyterian church. And a long list of famous people have lived on or near the road.
I have been traversing the road for over 50 years and most of the time on a bicycle.
Last Thursday just as I was about to head up the road from the Rathmines end I noticed a young woman cycling in front of me. Her bicycle was clearly too small for her. It was in bad shape, no oil on the chain, a buckle in the back wheel. And yet she was going at great speed.

It was between 6 and 7pm and miserable weather to be out on a bike. As I was passing her I noticed she was not from these parts. Before we got as far as the Catholic church, which is half way up the road we were chatting away to each other.
She was from south east China, not too far away from Hong Kong.

Zhong Ping – not her real name - is studying accountancy in Dublin and has been in Ireland over five years. Except for the rain she loves the place and the people.
I asked her for her opinions on Liu Xiabobo, who was recently conferred with the Nobel peace prize.

We began a great political conversation. Her English is fluent. I was asking myself how many of our Government ministers speak Mandarin the way she speaks English. I can only guess.

I was somewhat slow to talk about anything political because on previous occasions I have found how Chinese people with whom I spoke were somewhat reticent to get involved.

Zhong Ping was delighted to talk politics. Nor was she afraid to speak her mind. And in her opinion over half the Chinese people are annoyed and irritated with the Chinese Government for not allowing Liu Xiaobo to attend the award winning ceremony in Oslo. She also expressed her annoyance with how the Chinese government does not permit freedom of speech.

“In Ireland you are allowed say what you like about your government and that’s great but something we cannot do in China,” Zhong stressed. And it is something that greatly annoys her.

I commented on the size of China with a population of 1.6 billon people. When I remarked that shortly it would be the greatest power on earth, she was proud to remind me of China’s old name – The Middle Kingdom.
And just as we arrived at the top of the road, close to the Presbyterian church, she was turning right and I was going on straight. But before we parted she gave me her email address and hoped that we would have more to say to one another about Chinese politics.

At the award winning ceremony in Oslo, actor Liv Ullmann read a speech of Liu Xiaobo. Here is a paragraph from the speech she read:
“Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity and suppress truth.”

It was easy for me cycling up Rathgar Road on a winter’s evening talking to an engaging Chinese student about what life can be like in a dictatorship. But just as Zhong turned right, it dawned on me how many of us in the western world speak our mind, how many of us really speak what we believe.

Of course we don’t. We are all the time watching out to make sure that we say and do is the right thing so as to please our masters and bosses. And that’s whether they are bosses or bishops.

True, we don’t have censorship, nor are we subject to the terror that is a reality in dictatorships but it would be naive to think that our world and our society epitomises freedom of thought and speech. Of course it doesn’t. Ask WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

We admire those who speak their minds, that is, provided it never upsets our little worlds. Once that happens we do all in our power to dismiss them as mavericks.
I am intrigued how there can be such a uniformity of thought in corporations and institutions.
In the church too, there can be a worrying homogeneity.

The job of the priest is to tease out the truth, but always in the context of the time and environment in which she or he lives.

Reality is not concretised in conformity, so how then can truth be subject to strict conformity? There never can be a central commmitte of truth.

The Chinese Communist Party argues that it knows best what is for the good of China and the Chinese people. But isn’t that what every boss and manager says. And isn’t there sometimes a culture within the churches that leaders and priests, not only claim to know what is best for the people but they might also claim they have a direct and exclusive link with God.

Leadership, whatever its form is bedevilled with difficulties.

Wherever in the world or whatever the ideology, there is no perfect way and we have to be on guard to keep the dictators at bay – whatever their creeds, styles or beliefs may be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Relativism helped expose nasty secrets

The latest chapter of the Murphy report paints a far more positive picture of Cardinal Desmond Connell than was said of him in the media in the past.

Cardinal Connell has always come across as an honest and good person, who suffered greatly.

By trade he was a philosopher and teacher. A man who was obviously liked by his students.

It is reported today that the pope is again linking the paedophilia issue with relativism. That is a most worrying and contentious issue. Paedophilia has been an issue in the clerical church long before the 1960s.

What the 1960s brought about was a greater openness, an openness, which in turn began to throw light on some of the dark secrets within the clerical church.

In chapter 19 of the Murphy report. Msgr Gerard Sheehy is reported to have written concerning a meeting where they were discussing Tony Walsh: "Bishop Walsh made the outrageous suggestion that the archbishop should inform the civil authorities about Fr Jovito's (Tony Walsh) homosexual orientation".

It is extremely doubtful that the late Gerard Sheehy was influenced by relativism.

It is also worrying to see how Gerard Sheehy is so ill-informed re paedophilia.

It is not in conformity with reality or the truth to link relativism with criminality.

It is also worrying to read reports that there are priests in senior positions who were first made aware of the crime through the media.

There are aspects of priesthood and sexuality that are constantly swept under the proverbial carpet.

The clerical church is still refusing to discuss in any sort of meaningful way. It still is a matter of 'hush', 'say nothing'.

Is it possible that the Irish 'cute hoor' syndrome has its origins in clericalism?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Instructions from the monsignors

This blog tries to avoid the first person of the personal pronoun.

This is exceptional.

Back in the early 1970s letters would arrive from Archbishop's House concerning clerical behaviour. Everything about the letters, from the address to the final signature was pompous, pretentious and arrogant.

I can recall reading one of those letters and asking who did the author think he was.

Back then I imagined. Now I know

I believe that style, that mind set has not changed, maybe getting worse.

The monsignors and tribunal men

The monsignors and canon lawyers being mentioned re all this horrible stuff are the same men who sit on church marriage tribunals. It is shocking and perverse.

And that mentality is not changing.

Hush, tell no-one, stay silent

In a news report on Tony Walsh the two words 'hush up' are used. Words and ideas, a style and philosophy that is so much part of our church. And still is.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jessie's welcome home is always infectious

This column appears in today's regional IN&M newspapers

By Michael Commane
The first thing I do when I arrive home is to say hello to Jessie. When I opened the door on Thursday of the big freeze I was horrified to see that she was limping and could not put her left foot on the ground.

She has been getting arthritic for the last 12 months or so and the cold spell hit her hard and affected her in such a way that she was not able to put her foot on the ground. Nevertheless, the moment she saw me her face lit up and she seemed to forget about her pain.

She has been finding it more and more difficult to walk. She is beginning to show her age. In October she was 13. Okay, you know now that Jessie is my labrador dog. And that night I arrived home, along with her face ‘lighting up’ she was frantically wagging her tale

It was the sort of night that you would not ‘put a dog out’ so I had no choice but to allow her stay indoors. And just as I had my back turned she was on the couch, cuddled up and heading for sleep. How could I ever try to get her off that couch?

Jessie arrived at my door 12 years ago. A young couple with small children decided she was probably too big and knew that I was looking for a dog. So in she came.

In the early years she got me into much trouble. In those days she was so gentle and placid but whenever she saw a cat, a hen, a rabbit or any small animal she was out of control. She sort of became notorious in the village. She killed a few hens, a pet rabbit and a guinea pig. At one stage it was so serious that the local sergeant gave me a warning. Naturally in every case I apologised to the victims, well not quite the victims – their owners. The victims were dead.

One or two people were cross with me and understandably so, but most saw the funny side to it and were gracious in their loss.

On one occasion when I was walking in unknown territory and she was off the lead she was suddenly gone and then I heard this terrible cry. She ran out of a yard with a hen in her mouth. What could I do? I eventually got the hen from her and before I could catch her she was back into the yard and another hen was gone. I tracked down owner Jamie Wrenn, who was amazingly understanding about it. I subsequently left a few bob in a local hostelry for him. It became known as ‘Commane’s blood money’.

The following summer I did reparation for the hen incident and went on the annual Jamie Wrenn walk from Castlegregory in West Kerry to Tralee. Proceeds went to the oncology unit at Kerry General Hospital. I did the walk twice and on both occasions Jessie accompanied me.

The late Jamie Wrenn, who had been diagnosed with cancer, did sterling work in collecting funds for the oncology unit at Kerry General Hospital.

I have to admit people have been very forgiving re her misdemeanours. I am even lucky enough that anytime I am away she is walked and dined.

The two of us have walked all over Ireland and we are still swimming in the Atlantic together but the days of long walks are over. And that’s terribly sad. She just does not have the energy or the inclination any longer and the idea of her assailing a rabbit or hen is now just a memory.

These days as I have no option but to think of her eventual demise I am amazed at how close a relationship one can have with a dog. It has also struck me how ‘wise’ and ‘knowledgeable’ a dog is. Okay we are told they cannot reason but I have a hunch my dog probably knows me better than I know myself. She plays all sorts of tricks on me. She knows exactly what psychological strings to pull so that I will pamper and spoil her. And is she loyal.

Her licence was due for the last month or so and last week I paid my €12.70 fee. Went to pay by cheque in a post office to be told cheques not accepted – either cash or an AIB laser card. Sort of bizarre. Right now my hope is that Jessie will get the full year out of her licence. Alas I’m not too sure.

In philosophy class we were told all animate beings have souls. Although French philosopher Descartes saw animals as machines and did not have souls. I have enough trouble coping with my own reality, existence and ‘mortal coil’ to ask any sort of deep questions about what happens dogs when they die.

Then in theology class we were told that what marks out the uniqueness of the human soul is its immortality. But I cannot help thinking that animals are far wiser and more knowledgeable than we could ever imagine. Jessie certainly is.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Private companies make a killing on the elderly

Irish television RTE last evening aired a programme on the work of caring for elderly people. The findings are shocking.

The carer's industry is not regulated. It was pointed out that if you want to set up a company to care for the elderly there is no regulator, whereas if you keep kennels that is regulated.

It would seem that the Minister for the Elderly, Áine Brady said last evening she believed that regulating the industry was not the solution. This morning on RTE Radio 1 she said the business needs regulation but did not know when her government would do this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nothing paradoxical about Maciel

Reading Peter Seewald one can't help but ask, in humility and respect, does Pope Benedict understand or perceive the reality and mentality of the Legionaries of Christ. He talks of Maciel as a mysterious figure. The pope says it was only in 2000 did they have any concrete clues. People were asking serious questons 35 years ago. Maciel has created a monster. There was nothing 'mysterious' about Maciel or his organisation.

Truth complements freedom

Freedom of Expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.

- Liu Xiaobo

Saturday, December 11, 2010

WikiLeaks takes oxygen from masks

Interesting how US intelligence and authorities know more about Irish church matters than the so-called People of God on the island of Ireland.

It is laughable and profoundly sad and annoying. But neither new nor surprising.

WikiLeaks are about to break a story on a US bank.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ellsberg says yes to WikiLeaks

Vietnam war hero Daniel Ellsberg has given his support to WikiLeaks. Vatican and Ireland in latest US embassy cables. A word or thought on it all from the Vatican?

Statues before police officers

What can one say about a prime minister who first speaks about the despoiling of a statue before injuries to members of the police? And so it was with the Eton educated David Cameron.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The apparel oft proclaim the man

Some months ago there was a picture of young Legionaries of Christ walking on a beach in Kerry. It was a contrived picture – young men down on the beach in touch with nature and yet they were dressed immaculately. I live close to the Atlantic and am often at the beach, either swimming or walking. I have never ever seen people dressed in such attire on that beach or any beach.

Polished shoes are not for those beaches and any man who wears such shiny shoes on a beach has to be screaming out some message that cannot be in kilter with the world with which most of us inhabit. How come the Legionaries of Christ all dress in uniform-style clothing? They are not police or army personnel.

At the time the picture appeared the founder of the Legionaries of Christ was hitting the headlines for all he wrong reasons - allegations of child sex abuse.

What is this link between fundamentalist/hard line conservatism – maybe pseudo conservatism - and immaculate grooming? It is not just a clothes thing, there is something else about it that is simply repulsive to observe.

Shakespeare talks of how ‘the apparel oft proclaim the man’.

Frankfurter Rundschau on Assange

Assange and freedom Comment in today's Frankfurter Rundschau

Die Festnahme des Wikileaks-Gründers Assange zeigt vor allem eines: Nicht die Regierung in Washington, sondern der kriminalisierte Julian Assange steht heute in einer großen amerikanischen Tradition: des unerschrockenen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Information.

Das Ansehen der USA hat Schaden genommen durch die von Wikileaks gesteuerten Veröffentlichungen vertraulicher Dokumente. Das ist wahr. Es begann im April mit dem obszönen Video der Hinrichtung unbewaffneter Männer in Bagdad. Es endete vorerst mit den offenherzigen Berichten der US-Botschafter.

Größeren Schaden aber nimmt das Ansehen der USA jetzt, da sie versuchen, Wikileaks und deren Kopf Julian Assange mundtot zu machen. Die USA verraten einen ihrer Gründungsmythen: die Freiheit der Information. Sie tun das in einem Moment, da sie erstmals seit dem Kalten Krieg die Herrschaft über die weltweite Information zu verlieren drohen. „Der erste ernsthafte Informationskrieg hat begonnen“, schreibt der US-Bürgerrechtler John-Perry Barlow. „Das Schlachtfeld ist Wikileaks.“

Mastercard und Visa haben Zahlungen an die Enthüllungsplattform Wikileaks gesperrt. Visa Europe habe alle Zahlungen ausgesetzt, um einen möglichen Verstoß gegen die Geschäftsbedingungen zu prüfen, erklärte die Firma am Dienstag. Ein Mastercard-Sprecher sagte, Grund für das Vorgehen sei die Regel, wonach Kunden gesperrt würden, die „illegale Handlungen direkt oder indirekt unterstützen oder erleichtern“.

Das Internet-Bezahlsystem Paypal hat ebenfalls Zahlungen an Wikileaks gesperrt. Wikileaks kann nun noch über Banküberweisungen oder auf dem altmodischen Postweg Geld erhalten.

Die Schweizer Bank Postfinance hatte am Montag ebenfalls die Schließung des Kontos von Wikileaks-Gründer Julian Assange bekanntgegeben. Als Grund nannte die Bank falsche Adressangaben. Hacker und Sympathisanten von Wiki-leaks-Gründer Julian Assange griffen daraufhin offenbar die Postfinance-Webseite an – diese war dadurch stark verlangsamt.

In Deutschland muss Wikileaks derzeit keine Einschränkungen fürchten. Ein Sprecher des Regierungspräsidiums in Kassel relativierte am Dienstag einen Bericht des Handelsblatts, dem zufolge der Wau-Holland-Stiftung als weltweit größtem Geldgeber von Wikileaks die Aberkennung ihres Steuerprivilegs drohe. Zwar sei an die Stiftung eine Mahnung wegen eines fehlenden Geschäftsberichts geschickt worden – dies habe aber nichts mit Wikileaks zu tun. Die Wau-Holland-Stiftung bezeichnet sich selbst als Stiftung im Umfeld des Chaos Computer Clubs. Sie soll laut Medienberichten rund 750000 Euro an Spendengeld eingenommen haben. Assange hat angeblich eine „Lebensversicherung“: Mehr als 100000 Unterstützer weltweit haben eine verschlüsselte Datei erhalten.

Laut Medienberichten ist „insurance.aes256“ 1,5 Gigabyte groß und enthält alle 25000 US-Depeschen. Demnach enthält das Paket die Original-Unterlagen ohne Auslassungen, darunter unveröffentlichte Dokumente zum US-Gefängnis Guantanamo. Auch explosive Papiere der Bank of America sollen dabei sein. Er hat recht. Mit der Doktrin des „Free Flow of Information“ haben die USA für Jahrzehnte die Informationsflüsse und einen großen Teil ihrer Inhalte dominiert. Sie besagt, dass jedermann das Recht hat, überall und ohne Einschränkung Nachrichten zu sammeln, zu übertragen und zu verbreiten. Das war eine famose Doktrin, solange allein US-Unternehmen die Macht, die Mittel und die Logistik hatten, diese Freiheit zu nutzen.

Das hat sich mit dem Internet schon tendenziell geändert. Julian Assange und Wikileaks aber sind die Ersten, die die Macht des Netzes gegen die USA einsetzen. Deshalb werden sie so gnadenlos verfolgt. Nicht die Regierung in Washington, sondern der kriminalisierte Julian Assange steht heute in einer großen amerikanischen Tradition: des unerschrockenen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Information.

The obfuscation, lies and bluster of elites

In yesterday's Guardian newspaper John Naughton writes, "Western political elites obfuscate, lie and bluster - and when the veil of secrecy is lifted, they try to kill the messenger."

The article deals with the WikiLeaks controversy. He concludes, " Our rulers have a choice to make: whether they learn to lives in a WikiLeakable world, with all that implies in terms of their future behaviour; or they shut down the internet. Over to them.

This is a fascinating controversy and it gets to the centre of so much nonsense that is touted about re confidentiality.

It certainly is a controversy that anyone who is serious about preaching the Gospel has to be aware of and have an opinion on.

The opening quote from Naughton applies so perfectly to so many organisations in different forms and shapes. Of course I am thinking of the hierarchical church and its total brilliance at obfuscation among the so-called 'elites'.

Wikileaks is an amazing paradigm of and for our times.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rafto award goes to Mexican Dominican bishop

Dominican bishop Jose Raul Vera Lopez from Mexico was presented in November with the Rafto Prize for 2010 in Bergen, Norway. This is a highly prestigious award, which is given each year to someone who has done outstanding work for justice in our world. Four previous winners later went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Below is Lopez's acceptance speech. A great sign of hope within the Dominican Order.

It was a great surprise to me to be informed of this acknowledgement, and I am conscious of the fact that this demands greater consistency and compromise on my part.

However, within me I find a mix of happiness and pain. The reason for this is simple: This award would not have been possible if Mexico was not lacerated by violence; by the impunity with which delinquency occurs; by an absence of law enforcement; and by complicity at different levels of government that, by action or omission, has led to this situation whereby my compatriots remain not only in utter poverty, but also face uncertainty as to whether there will be a tomorrow.

The absence of the judicial bodies in the persecution of crimes committed by criminal groups prevents the disruption of the framework of complicity that the members of these organisations have established with people in positions of power in the political sphere, be they executive, legislative or juridical; with functionaries of the administrative bodies of the juridical system and public security, with companies and financial groups that do their money laundering.

“Death”, “fear” and “impunity” are, unfortunately, three words that nowadays prevail in the vocabulary of Mexicans. The “war against organised crime” is a fight until death, where, in a mere four years of the current governing regime, the number of deaths officially recognised has reached almost 30 thousand.

This means that as the members of the criminal gangs are assassinated, be they senior bosses, middle ranks or armed wings, testimonies that might have been used against civil servants, businessmen and bankers, or those responsible for financial centres that are accomplices of the criminal underworld, go to the grave with the death of every one of them. This way, these people not only are not brought to trial, but also keep feeding the criminal potential of the groups that appear more powerful every day, encountering a Mexican State that we see as weaker and incapable of confronting them.

There is also another sort of impunity covered up by the government: “Pasta de Conchos”, the name of the mine that left 65 coal miners buried. The miners were working under terrible safety conditions. Five days after the accident, the company “Industrial Minera México” (IMMSA) of “Grupo México”, and the federal government, suspended the rescue operation. When it was resumed, two bodies were recovered with signs of asphyxia. The company once again stopped the rescue operation a mere one hundred fifty metres from where the workers were.
Not only the corpses, but also justice, was buried there. To hinder the rescue is to maintain impunity, to show insecurity and to demonstrate that they let them die.

Another case of impunity is the decision by the president of the Republic, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, to close the electrical power company “Luz y Fuerza del Centro”. This left forty-four thousand men and women unemployed, and was done illegally by presidential decree, with no recourse to the National Congress, and backed by the National Supreme Court of Justice. Even though the company belonged to the public sector, the State did not find a solution for the company, blaming it on the company’s alleged poor administration, when the real reason was that they wanted to eradicate the Mexican Union of Electricians (SME), an independent union.

The impunity with which actions are committed by organized crime has strengthened these delinquent groups, they have multiplied, and they have started to diversify the crimes they commit. One such diversification is the kidnapping of migrants. Most of the victims are people from Central America and some South American countries who cross the Republic of Mexico seeking to reach the United States, in search of work. The perpetrators of the kidnappings are members of organized crime cartel “Los Zetas”, people who earlier formed the armed wing of “Cartel del Golfo”. In just six months of the year two thousand nine, there were almost ten thousand (9,758 kidnappings of migrants recorded; also unpunished. This has now denounced as a “humanitarian tragedy”.

Voices continue to rise calling for the end of this fiction of the “war against
organised crime” to stop being fictional, and for the implementation of a strategy that attempts to let justice prevail over the warlike strategies. The families of the victims of violations of human rights by the hands of the army in this war, as well as the disappeared persons whose numbers grow at an alarming level every day, keep claiming for justice.

Through my work as a preacher in collaboration with groups that defend human rights, I have witnessed how the dignity of the people is attacked with impunity in different spheres and different geographical areas of Mexico: paramilitarisation of the indigenous regions of the country, institutionalized violence against the indigenous peoples of Mexico: in states like Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Chihuahua, amongst others. These people’s lives are constantly harmed and peace is constantly interrupted here. Among the members of the indigenous communities there are political prisoners, persecuted for defending the land, the water and the forests. Other activists in the country also suffer persecution, prison and even death. Freedom of speech is limited in Mexico and various journalists have paid with their lives for having upheld this liberty.

Torture as part of the legal process and in prisons is a constant in our country. In Coahuila, we have attended to women raped by members of the Mexican Army, as well as people from groups of diverse sexual orientations that have been segregated, assaulted and beaten.

Impunity is the current characteristic of the administration of justice in Mexico. Even in cases that are apparently solved for those seeking justice, reparation of the damage is non-existent, nor enforcement of judgments. International recommendations are not implemented, and there is no punishment for the violators of human rights in the State itself.

The Rafto Foundation could have been mistaken in choosing the right person for its 2010 Prize, but they were not wrong in choosing Mexico to denounce before the international community the terrible situation of systematic violations of human rights by the Government against men and women who are citizens of our country.

Thank you very much.

Terrible injustice meeted out to deserters

On Sunday evening German television station, Phoenix, aired a programme on soldiers who desert.

They gave short histories on the subject in the US, Soviet/Russian and German armies.

They showed a clip of Richard Nixon commenting on soldiers, who deserted during the Vietnam war. His words would make a person with any sense of moral standards simply sick in her or his stomach. Nixon was the criminal, the deserters the heroes.

But what seems beyond belief is the reality that it was only at the beginning of the 21st century that Germany offered an amnesty or pardon to soldiers who deserted from Hitler's Wehrmacht.

Is this really possible? And what has the world done about it? Nothing and if it has, it has kept amazingly quiet.

Isn't it another metaphor about how those in power and control play all the games according to their rules. And those who kowtow to it all smile their way through life, always on the side of the ruling elite. Whether in State or church.

To think that the brave men and women who refused to support Adolf Hitler were penalised by the Federal Republic of Germany until they were almost dead is appalling. And most of them by then were dead.

To think people who ran away in fear and turmoil from what they might have seen, whether in Stalingrad or at Auschwitz, were later punished. To think that drafted soldiers from Bochum or Dresden or wherever were treated as quasi criminals is simply unimaginable. It is extraordinary and deserves world comment.

The US are not far behind in their moral poverty. And of course we in the West have always been told about what happens/happened in the Soviet/Russian army.

Where have the churches been on this issue?

Why, can someone please explain why.

A butcher at the gates of Stalingrad was treated in a kinder way than the man who could not bear what he saw and ran away.

Does it mean that the deserters were denied German army pensions? Simply incredible.

And all the yes men, the ones who stand around and make sophisticated clever arguments to justify things. And I have seen them first hand within the hierarchical church. The stooges with their silly canon law and theological arguments packed neatly under their arms. Pathetic.

An official at the German embassy in Dublin has confirmed the veracity of the television programme. He was most pleasant and seemed upset and ashamed about it. He was born in the former GDR.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

God bless Julian and WikiLeaks

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has called for the execution or life imprisonment of Julian Assange for his WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has been made possible because of modern technology. This has to be an important moment in our history.

Of course the authorities would pull the trigger and say people’s lives are at stake. A former British diplomat commented yesterday that truth is never the problem, rather lies. Well said Mr Diplomat.

Anyone who has anything to do with truth should be out dancing on the streets celebrating WikiLeaks.

The nonsense, the bluff, the pseudo importance that characterises people with ‘secrets’.

How often have I heard, ‘You cannot be told the full story’ or some other humbug. That allows people hide behind their pathetic power. And they have elegant and sophisticated ways of putting one in her or his place if they persist in asking questions.

And WikiLeaks applies to preaching the Gospel too. I have often found myself sitting in pews and wondering long and hard whether or not the man talking the words actually believes what he is saying. I have seen too many men preach nonsense and lies covered in humbug.

The bluff and nonsense that can so easily be preached - and done in such a 'holy way'.

It is worth noting that Fox calls for Julian’s execution. Funny that because it always seems to me that it is the right wing brigade and fundamentalists of whatever hue, who speak out of both sides of their mouths.

WikiLeaks is the antidote. Long live WikiLeaks.