Backtalk, December 23, 2005

World Peace Forum Moves to Create International Peace Secretariat

Kudos to you for attending the Malaysian peace seminar. I missed it as I could not get a firm seat to get back home. I would have loved to have met you guys. Your Web site is great. Your thoughts are great, and it gives us hope in American values, which have been hijacked by a bunch of warmongers for their own agendas. It is for sure that people of the Middle East and Asians do not hate Americans per se, but they sure dislike your foreign policy. The actions of some Americans in this adventure have tainted the wider American image. Hence, it is most crucial that the good Americans show up in international media to distance themselves from the warmongers currently in the White House. It will do much for peace and unite the people of the world and naturally distance us just as equally from those who advocate terror as a form of retaliation against U.S. foreign policy in Middle East. Sadly, your press seems to ignore such peaceful gestures and toes the government’s policy line.

Indeed, blessed are the peacemakers.

With respect to all American families, merry Christmas from a humble Muslim in Bahrain,

~ Ahmed Asgher

Torture Ban May Have a Loophole

Dear William Fisher,

I think the title of your story should have been “The anti-torture ban law does have a large loophole.” There can be endless arguments about what makes a “reasonable” person; the definition will change according to circumstances. In this case, torture will still be allowed in many situations. The “reasonable person” defense should simply not be possible in this case.

There are already clear definitions of what constitutes torture in international law, several treaties and conventions. So torture should simply be banned.

Many people will say it is better than nothing, but it is not good enough. Many Americans simply do not understand how much respect their government has lost in this world.

~ Sam Bernstein, New Zealand

For the Jingo Who Has Everything

Nick & Tom:

I was smiling for the first few paragraphs – clicked on some of the links and had a laugh – but by the time I got to Gitmo, I don’t know, maybe it was just me, but I was having a manic-depressive moment – I lost that holiday spirit.

Not to be moralistic, but I guess it’s OK to make fun of ourselves. But to make fun of other’s suffering? Somehow that doesn’t square with the spirit of CHRISTmas.

I know your point was political, but it’s still sad.

~ Paul Lucic, Clinton IN

Rigoberto Alpizar, RIP

Why is Charley Reese one of the only national columnists writing about the murder of Mr. Alpizar? Since when does a central nervous system illness warrant a death sentence? The description I read of the man’s behavior sounded precisely like Reese describes it, an anxiety attack.

I worked in hospital-based mental-health units for three years; I also had a younger sister who suffered from severe schizophrenia for her entire adult lifetime. For individuals suffering from a variety of these central nervous system illnesses (mental illness in colloquial terms), reactions like Mr. Alpizar’s occur so commonly they are simply “taken for granted” by physicians and other mental-health workers.

In addition, what person who has traveled by air even a small amount has not also seen perfectly healthy individuals running like mad down terminal walkways, trying to catch flights for which they are late? It is appalling to me that, given this very routine behavior, these air marshals were obviously not trained to at least distinguish it from suspicious behavior; let alone not to shoot him repeatedly. These marshals committed murder, pure and simple.

That there has been no outraged reaction from the American Psychiatric Association, the American Neurological Society, and other physicians, is equally appalling. Ditto the lack of attention by the increasingly irrelevant major news media.

~ Dom Bellino


A few years ago, we used to meet with some Swiss friends who would tell us stories of their friends living behind the Berlin Wall in East Germany. The East German STASI were pretty good at their job. The public were only allowed to know of their government’s activities if the government wished them to know. Citizen spied on citizen, and the STASI spied on everybody, at home or abroad. Paranoia was in the air.

Between 1981 and 2005, we have witnessed the antidemocratic activities of four presidents and their entourage. We have watched current U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton in 1986 argue that the Iran Contra e-mail files were just “furniture” of an outgoing presidency. We saw Bill Clinton argue that the National Security Council was just a presidential arm, and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. And now we see current president Bush argue that since America is under attack, citizen must spy on citizen. A simple calculation shows that the number of graduates from CIA training is numbered in the thousands each year. Where do these people go and what are they all doing?

Could it be that the only difference between the East Germany that was and present-day America is simply that America is rich, and East Germany was poor?

If you think that is a stretch, bear in mind that since this e-mail is sent from outside the United States, it is, even before you read it, under analysis by the NSA. And so are all of your e-mails. So, who are the citizens, and who are the spies?

~ Peter Biddulph

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