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7 August 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:55 pm

Controlympics: A Perfect Choice

Big news today, via The Los Angeles Times and the Telegraph (UK).  Let’s start with the LAT:

Lopez Lomong: US Olympic team appoint Darfur refugee to carry flag

Another stunning chapter was added to the incredible story of Lopez Lomong when his U.S. Olympic teammates chose the Sudanese refugee as the flag bearer in Friday’s opening ceremony at the 2008 Olympics.

Lomong, who made the Olympic track team by finishing second in the 1,500 meters at the U.S. track trials, spent a decade in a refugee camp in Kenya as one of the “Lost Boys of the Sudan.” He resettled in the United States as a teenager with a family in Syracuse, N.Y.

“This is the most exciting day ever in my life,” Lomong said. “It’s a great honor for me that my teammates chose to vote for me. I’m here as an ambassador of my country, and I will do everything I can to represent my country well.”

Lomong, 23, was 6 when he was abducted from a Sudanese church by militiamen trying to turn children into boy soldiers. He and three other boys escaped and walked several days until they were arrested by Kenyan police because they had unknowingly crossed the border into Kenya.

And now the Telegraph:

His first taste of the Olympics was when he paid five Kenyan shillings to watch Michael Johnson winning gold at Sydney 2000 on a fuzzy black and white TV set, an experience which he says ignited his own Olympic dream.  “The American flag means everything in my life - everything that describes me, coming from another country and going through all of the stages that I have to become a US citizen,” Lomong added.

What an amazing story:  a Sudanese Lost Boy** becomes an Olympic athlete and is chosen over thousands of his new countrymen and -women to carry their country’s flag into the Olympic Opening Ceremonies — which is hosted by a government notorious for its disregard for human rights and its sponsorship of the government of Sudan.

It’s nothing less than a Jesse Owens moment.  In the face of tremendous pressure by everyone from the ChiComs themselves to their craven corporate toadies to IOC Chairman Jacque Rogge and other obsequious IOC pond scum, Americans have stood up to to an odious dictatorship.

I guess I don’t have to worry anymore about our flagbearer dipping the flag when he passes ChiCom-in-Chief Hu “Is Lying Now” Juntao.

And it happens the day after the ChiComs denied a visa to Joey Cheek, the Olympic athlete and head of Team Darfur.  I don’t think that that was a coincidence.  The Times of London gets the contrast about right:

There are two pictures here. One comes slightly distorted and airbrushed and will be squeezed into a frame by the IOC and its Chinese hosts in Beijing. The other is a portrait of Lomong. Which would you rather have on the wall?

This is why I continue to be proud of this country, no matter what the Bush Administration does or who gets elected this fall.  It’s further proof that average Americans (take my word for it, even in this day and age, that’s what the vast majority of our athletes in Beijing are) care deeply about basic human rights and fundamental principles of justice.

And isn’t it nice to feel good about this country again?  And have it be not because we won an athletic competition, but because we stood up for what is right and decent?

Hooray for us.

Photo:  Associated Press via the Telegraph (UK).

**If you don’t know the remarkable story of the Lost Boys, do yourself a favor and go out and buy Dave Eggers most recent novel, What is the What, which is a fictionalized account of one of the Boys’ experiences.

| posted in foreign policy, globalization, pop culture, war & rumors of war, world at home | 0 Comments

30 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:56 pm

Thabo Mbeki Is So Bad….

…that he’s starting to make George W. Bush look good in comparison.  At least on Sudan.  From Reuters:

South Africa and Libya, backed by Russia and China, want to include a paragraph halting any ICC moves in a resolution to extend the mandate of a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which expires on Thursday.

But the United States, France and other Western countries made it clear that they wanted to keep two issues separate. As a result, The council failed to reach any agreement.

“We have a division in the council at this point,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters. He said there was no point in linking the UNAMID mandate to any possible future indictments by the ICC.

First the ChiComs, now the Americans.  If The Mbekster were a college student, he’d be hired by dorks to hang out with them so that they could look cool in comparison.

| posted in foreign policy, war & rumors of war | 0 Comments

27 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:15 am

Mbend It Like Mbeki

I bet that if Thabo Mbeki were to have a Facebook page, he would be one of those people who friends everybody, but who has almost everyone ignore the request.  Everyone except dictators, that is.

We already knew that the MBekster had a soft spot in his head heart for Zimbabwe President-for-Life-of-Misery Robert Mugabe.  It turns out, however that no dictator is safe from this guys warm embrace:

South Africa’s president has called on the International Criminal Court not to prosecute Sudan’s leader for war crimes in case it upsets Darfur’s peace talks.

Thabo Mbeki told South African TV that Omar al-Bashir’s continued presence as head of state was also needed to assist the country’s post-civil war security.

Maybe Radovan Karadzic can get Mbeki to put in a good word for him at his upcoming trial.  I understand that Mbeki feels he’s essential to peace and reconciliation in Bosnia.

UPDATE: So I just checked.  The MBekster does not have a Facebook page.  But here are some of the groups others have created to express their feelings about him:

  • South Africans Embarassed by Thabo Mbeki (233 members)
  • Leave Thabo Mbeki Aloooooooooone!! Alone He is the Best President Ever! (174 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki — Africa’s Newest Dictator (59 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki is on Mugabe’s Payroll (62 members)
  • I Hate Thabo Mbeki (43 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki Sucks…. (35 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki:  South Africa’s Downfall! (15 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki “I am Not Useless” (11 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki is a Coward and a Danger to South Africa (9 members)
  • Rein in Thabo Mbeki (7 members)
  • Remove Thabo Mbeki from Office Now! (7 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki Go to Hell (2 members)
  • Thabo Mbeki Is Spineless (2 members)

Come on, folks, how do you really feel?

| posted in foreign policy, war & rumors of war | 0 Comments

26 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:45 am

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

Let’s play compare and contrast for a moment, boys and girls.  Today’s topic is U.S. Government support for international justice.  See if you can find which of these things is not like the others.

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| posted in foreign policy, war & rumors of war, world at home | 0 Comments

26 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:56 am

The Arrest Everybody Missed

It’s been a good week for international justice, with the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb President indicted for genocide as a result of his actions during the seige of Sarajevo and the massacre in Srebrenica; the ICC’s indictment of Sudanese President Hassan al-Bashir for his role in Darfur; and the the UN Security Council’s decision to extend the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda through 2009.

Amidst these good tidings, another story got lost:  the arrest of Sylvere Ahorugeze, who is wanted in Rwanda for genocide.  From the AFP:

A Swedish court has ordered a Rwandan man suspected of taking part in the 1994 genocide remanded in custody pending a possible extradition request from Kigali, the judge said Friday. The man [was identified] as Sylvere Ahorugeze, aged 52.  According to public broadcaster Swedish Radio, Ahorugeze is suspected of murdering 25 Tutsis in a suburb of Kigali in April 1994.

Like Karadzic, he was hiding in plain sight.  He was arrested after going to the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm, where employees recognized him.

The number of people responsible for the genocide in Rwanda boggles the mind.  It runs to the tens of thousands, if not more.  How do you heal a society when so many are responsible for so much suffering?

I cannot help but think of Eleanor Roosevelt, who once said that human rights begin “in small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.”

Sometimes, the same is also true of genocide.

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21 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:40 pm

White House Responds to Karadzic Arrest

For once we don’t need the diplospeak translator:

We congratulate the Government of Serbia, and thank the people who conducted this operation for their professionalism and courage. This operation is an important demonstration of the Serbian Government’s determination to honor its commitment to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The timing of the arrest, only days after the commemoration of the massacre of over 7,000 Bosnians committed in Srebrenica, is particularly appropriate, as there is no better tribute to the victims of the war’s atrocities than bringing their perpetrators to justice.

Imagine the impact were the White House to say something similar about the ICC indictment of Bashir….

| posted in foreign policy, war & rumors of war | 0 Comments

21 July 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:18 pm

The Bush Administration’s Harry Mudd Moment

The Star Trek character, not the California college.

George Bush has long been on the record as hating opposing the International Criminal Court and its evil plan to feed American babies to wolves. Shortly after taking office, Bush announced that he was “unsigning” the treaty, an event that troglyoconservative John Bolton called “the happiest moment of my government service.”

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