August 17th, 2010


The Mosque near Ground Zero and the Memory of the victims

Seen from a friend:

According to a recent Siena Research Institute poll, 50% of New Yorkers think that the "Ground Zero Mosque" will promote racial and religious tolerance. Yet: 68% of Americans oppose it, despite the endorsements of New York City's mayor and the President of the United States of America. But that's not why you're wrong, America. This, however, is.

Via Tumblr editorial director TopherChris, here's a map of just how "Ground Zero" the "Ground Zero Mosque" is:

The point is, it isn't. What's more offensive: Having a....

  • "Ground Zero Burger King."
  • Memorial that's never happened because of hyper-capitalist conflicts.
  • Bunch of tacky souvenir tables.
  • Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia.
  • Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia when they're not selling fake Rolexes to the same Americans coming to New York, buying from them, going home, and telling New Yorkers where to put our Mosques.

or an Islamic Cultural Center with a 9/11 Memorial (more than what's actually been put to paper for an official 9/11 Memorial) two and a half blocks away?

Reminder: Muslims were victims of 9/11, too. Sorry, but it's true. And one was an NYPD cadet.

Maybe we'll care what you have to say when you stop bothering us for directions in the subway on how to get to Ground Zero so you can go there and buy some dumb, tacky knickknack you can take home and give to friends to let them know that you spent money on a shake-a-snow where a few thousand people died
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I'm sorry, but if the freedom to honor titty bars, awful food, and bad roadwork doesn't "desecrate" the sacred memory of 9/11, a mosque most certainly doesn't either. It just doesn't.

[chessdev]  There are already mosques in the neighborhood.  There are titty-bars.  AND we haven't even gotten the memorial up after what... NINE YEARS... but having something that has already been there (mosques) and pretending all members of a religion are the same as *zealots* is acceptable??  

Imagine if Japan didn't allow Americans to open a business over there because American soldiers committed a crime over there.  Imagine the outrage at people being held responsible for the choices of others...the outrage that would be felt by the same people leading the charge today.

This is the type of thinking that lead to the Japanese Internment camps...Is this really what we think
America is all about?


The cluster munitions treaty

Apologies for not separating the cited article from the initial post. Second try now. The international Convention on the use of cluster munitions was signed earlier this month, and more than 100 countries have joined in. The document bans the use of cluster bombs, one of the deadliest weapons in modern times, and most damaging in the long term. The problem with these weapons, and the reason they have been condemned as inhumane, is because they contain hundreds of small sub-explosives which are packed inside a bomb or a missile, and once this explodes in mid air, the multiple charges scatter all around the area destroying and killing indiscriminately. Some of these pieces fail to explode and remain in the earth for years, until someone steps on them and activates them. Estimates show that between 5 and 30% of these munitions do not explode after falling on the ground, and they poise a serious threat to the civil population long after the war has ended. 85% of the victims of incidents involving land mines and residue cluster explosives are civil, and 23% are children. Among the most severely affected countries are Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Laos and Vietnam. According to Handicap International, there are about 440 million unexploded cluster munitions worldwide, which in the worst case threatens the life of 440 million people.

The Convention was signed by a large number of countries from all continents, but with the notorious absence of the biggest producers and users of these munitions, the US, Russia, Pakistan and Israel. In what many call a historical document, it is stipulated that the countries included or any organisation or ammo producer from these countries should never produce, develop or use such weapons. It imposes strict regulations and guidelines about providing aid to victims of cluster bombs. Although it is an enormous step forward into the right direction, there are still some loopholes remaining in the document, most notably the possibility to retain a small number of cluster munitions for further use in military training missions.

But the most disturbing aspect is of course the refusal of the above four countries to join the Convention, which virtually renders it useless, because these are by far the most active users of cluster munitions. This puts the next question: are cluster munitions really that important for military success, or is it more a matter of geopolitical influence and demonstration of power (virtually the "I'm big and you cannot tell me what I should do" attitude on part of these countries)? And in fact, how is this act (or rather, non-act) supposed to reflect on the international image of these countries? The question also extends to other such major international treaties like the Kyoto protocol which has been very broadly disputed and has caused much controversy in the US, while being more or less subject to international consensus (with some other notable exceptions)... as well as a number of military treaties for non-proliferation of WMDs which have so far been solely resting on the good will of a remarkably large number of countries, while the most important "contributors" to the problem have remained outside of these agreements.

Please try not to turn this conversation into an "us vs them" game, but focus on the problem of the reasons for self-exclusion of these countries from what are considered to be largely consensus agreements worldwide, and how could these possibly be amended to become more inclusive. Because ultimately the purpose of this agreement is well intended but I understand that some interests might feel threatened by the form in which it is currently shaped.