I hate to sound like Sean Penn, but

"Get out of the Falklands England. We will return." Anti-Brit graffiti in Argentina.

No really. I’m just as annoyed by celebrity ambassadors to whatever third world humanitarian tragedy is en vogue as the next person. His recent allegations of colonialism have sparked somewhat justifiable backlash from the British press, but I can’t say I don’t entirely disagree with him.

Yesterday the UK’s newly appointed defense secretary Phillip Hammond said that there was no “evidence of a credible military threat” to the Falkland Islands and the UK has no plans to increase military presence in the region.

This was in response to Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s appeal to the UN for intervention to stop what she calls “militarizing” of the South Atlantic. Britain had previously deployed the HMS Dauntless along with Prince William as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches.

David Cameron, like his predecessors, has refused to open discussions of sovereignty with Argentina, claiming to be protecting the desires of the 3,000 inhabitants of the islands to remain British citizens.

I think an adequate response to his reason for not negotiating would be my new favorite Irish (according to Urban Dictionary) phrase: “Oh what codswallop Mr. Prime Minister”.  Better still if accompanied with eye rolling and disgusted face contortions.

Codswallop, bologna, bullshit, nonsense, however you like to call it, is exactly what David Cameron is spewing. The real interest in Britain retaining its tight hold on the small archipelago could have something to do with the  current exploration of an oil field 80 miles off Falklands coast is coming back with promising results. Gas exploration company Rockhopper Exploration Plc is saying that it could recover as much as 430m barrels of oil. Some estimates even put it at 60bn barrels, overshadowing the 21bn barrels thought to be remaining in the UK’s share of the North Sea.

The former Mr. Madonna had a point when he said sending the Duke of Cambridge was unnecessary. I suspect rather than provocation, as Penn argues, it’s rather a show of confidence, similar to Hammond’s statement, that the UK is there to stay and Argentina can do nothing about it.

I don’t know how far each side is prepared to go in this round of the dispute, I hope not to the point of 30 years ago where 900 lives where lost in 11 weeks, but David Cameron needs to call a spade a spade and admit this has nothing to do with the 3,000 citizens of the Falkland Islands and everything to do with crude oil.

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Que Vergüenza

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón today was barred for 11 years after being found guilty  with no appeal for using illegal wire taps during a case involving the ruling Partido Popular.

Garzón gained international recognition when he used Spain’s doctrine of universal jurisdiction, which permits prosecution within the country of crimes committed elsewhere, to bring an inquiry against the Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet in 1998 for human rights violations.

During his time as a magistrate in Spain’s criminal court Juzgado Central de Instrucción No. 5 he also brought cases against terrorist groups and attempted to indict members of the Bush administration for justifying torture.

In 2008, Garzón broke nation-wide silence and opened an inquiry into the atrocities that took place in his own backyard: the crimes against humanity committed by the Nationalist government during and after the Spanish civil war.

Garzón’s actions were highly controversial because of an Amnesty set in 1977, two years after dictator Francisco Franco died, barring any investigations into criminal offenses before 1976.

Considering the current amount of crimes against humanity trials (Ratko Mladic, Khmer Rouge) and the UN’s condemnation of the ongoing atrocities in Syria, it is appalling that Spain refuses to recognize the killing that occurred for 30 years under Franco’s rule. Continue reading

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Freedom 2.0

The recent retraction by the Komen Foundation of funding cuts to Planned Parenthood is another example that online protest is powerful and here to stay. Captivating global audiences this time last year, the online communities that rallied together in the Arab Spring  showed for the first time just how crucial internet freedom is.

It’s too bad that the international media has given internet freedom the human face of people like Kim Dotcom or Julian Assange, focusing on their personal lives and histories ultimately overshadowing the larger issue of internet rights. Don’t get me wrong, Assange’s polemic motives certainly aided in the Wikileaks demise, but the ideology of the whistleblowing site was quickly bypassed to focus on the man behind it. Continue reading

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Better late than never

I feel about 10 years behind.

When the planes hit the Twin Towers in 2001 I was a month into my freshman year of college in Chicago. I woke up to my roommate’s mother calling from California to make sure we were okay and to tell us to stay away from downtown. I didn’t have a television so I went to the room down the hall to watch the now infamous images of the flames coming out of the north tower. Having lived through the media coverage of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in my home state of Oklahoma, this wasn’t the first time I’d experienced national tragedy through television images. But at first I didn’t grasp the extent of it all. I didn’t believe it when I overhead someone say the whole building collapsed as I brushed my teeth to get ready for class. Continue reading

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You’ll never pee alone

I was at a pub near Liverpool Street station last weekend having a pint. I went to the toilet and found an African woman surrounded by lollipops, perfume, mints, condoms, gum, Tic Tacs, mouth wash, tampons and cloth towels chatting away on her mobile phone. I’ve encountered bathroom attendants before but never in a pub on a Saturday afternoon and never one who seemed as intent on ignoring me as I was her. Continue reading

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Why (in England) I’m a Republican

It’s been a good year for the British monarchy in the US.  Somehow the life of a 1940’s stammering British king resonated with American audiences and Colin Firth stuttered his way into hearts. The Queen recently celebrated her birthday (85 years young!). The American press seem to be wooed,  most of them turning a blind eye to Prince Andrew’s questionable dealings with certain Arab businessman. But, of course, none of this compares to the delightful decadence of THE wedding.

Continue reading

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Opening the Doors to an Ethical Shakeup

The normally secretive Court of Protection has surprisingly opened their doors for the case of forced sterilisation of a young, pregnant woman “P” who has learning disabilities. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Human Rights, London | 1 Comment