UN Concerns About the Trayvon Martin Shooting

I hadn’t thought that I would write anymore about this incident but it would seem that the United Nations has taken an interest in the matter, specifically if it has been properly investigated as a hate crime. I heard about this story courtesy of The Last Resistance.

3 September 2013 – A group of United Nations independent experts today called on the Government of the United States to finalize the ongoing review of the case involving the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, an African –American teenager who was shot in 2012 by a neighbourhood watchman in the state of Florida.

“We call upon the US Government to examine its laws that could have discriminatory impact on African Americans, and to ensure that such laws are in full compliance with the country’s international legal obligations and relevant standards,” said human rights expert Verene Shepherd, who currently heads the UN Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent.

The death of Trayvon Martin sparked a new debate about racial profiling in the United States after the unarmed black 17-year-old was shot and killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman. Mr. Zimmerman, who argued that he acted in self-defence and with justifiable use of deadly force, was found not guilty of all charges against him.

The US Department of Justice, the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently evaluating the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial, trying to establish potential civil rights charges linked to the case.

“The Trayvon Martin case has highlighted the importance of the need to review those existing laws and policies that can have a discriminatory effect on the basis of race, as African Americans become more vulnerable to such discrimination,” Ms. Shepherd said, recalling that the US has been party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since 1992, the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination since 1994, and many other international human rights law treaties.

“States are required to take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists,” said the Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere.

According to the 2011 US Department of Justice Hate Crime Statistics, 71.9 per cent of the total number of victims of hate crimes reported to the nation’s law enforcement agencies were victims of an offender’s anti-black bias. In a 2012 survey, the local non-governmental organization Malcolm X Grassroots Movement found that at least 136 unarmed African Americans were killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes over the course of a single year.

I wonder how many Whites were victims of an offender’s anti-white bias, or perhaps that doesn’t  count.

If you go through the roster of the 193 members of the United Nations, you will find few, if any, countries that have not discriminated against some group on the basis of race or ethnicity, as well as religious discrimination, discrimination against women, etc. In many places this is still very much an ongoing problem. You will also find that there are few countries that have made more of an effort to redress past and present discrimination than the United States. If the United Nations is really interested in fighting against discrimination and violations of basic human rights, there are many places where there efforts are more urgently needed than here in America They could, for instance, take up the problem of the Christians in the Middle East, the Kurds in Turkey, the Tibetans and others in the People’s Republic of China, etc. In other words, the US has one of the best human rights records in the world and we certainly do not need to be lectured to by a corrupt organization composed of dictators and kleptocrats.

International Observers

Because the United States has had such trouble transitioning to a democratic government with fair and free elections, there will be United Nations observers at polling places around the country. These observers will be drawn from such bastions of democracy as Serbia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as well as France, Germany and the Ukraine. Read the story at The Hill.

United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week. The intervention has drawn criticism from a prominent conservative-leaning group combating election fraud.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It’s part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries.

Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups, warned this month in a letter to Daan Everts, a senior official with OSCE, of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”

The request for foreign monitoring of election sites drew a strong rebuke from Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, a conservative-leaning group seeking to crack down on election fraud.

“These activist groups sought assistance not from American sources, but from the United Nations,” she said in a statement to The Hill. “The United Nations has no jurisdiction over American elections.”

Neil Simon, director of communications for the OSCE’s parliamentary assembly, agreed the U.N. does not have jurisdiction over U.S. elections but noted all OSCE member counties, which include the United States, have committed since 1990 to hold free and democratic elections and to allow one another to observe their elections.

The observers, from countries such as Germany, France, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, will observe voting at polling places and other political activity.

“They [will] observe the overall election process, not just the ballot casting,” said Giovanna Maiola, spokeswoman for OSCE. “They are focusing on a number of areas on the state level, including the legal system, election administration, the campaign, the campaign financing [and] new voting technologies used in the different states.”

I think that it is just terrible how all those Conservative are trying to suppress the Necro-American vote. I am sure observers from countries where the dead vote regularly will be able to help out.

I would not object to the concept of international observers, if I thought they would be unbiased and ready to pursue electoral irregularities from both sides. Since it seems that they will be looking out for Conservative attempts to suppress the minority vote, I have little confidence in their fairness, especially since it seems that many international organizations including the UN prefer Obama over Romney. I think we had better have people observing the observers.

It would seem that Liberals have no problem with the UN overseeing our elections. I do. Leaving aside the suspicions I have about the bias of such observers, it seems to me that an organization as corrupt as the UN doesn’t have the right to criticize anything about our elections.


Arms Trade Fact Check


I read this fact check article in the AP concerning the controversial Arms Trade Treaty. It would seem that we have nothing to worry about. If the US signs this treaty, it absolutely will not be used to enact gun control here.

Negotiators at the United Nations are working to put final touches on a treaty cracking down on the global, $60 billion business of illicit trading in small arms, a move aimed at curbing violence in some of the most troubled corners of the world. In the United States, gun activists denounce it as an end run around their constitutional right to bear arms.

“Without apology, the NRA wants no part of any treaty that infringes on the precious right of lawful Americans to keep and bear arms,” National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told the U.N. this month. “Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA’s greatest force of opposition.”


The Constitution’s Second Amendment offers broad protection for weapons ownership by civilians. As recently as 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed this when it struck down a ban on handguns in the District of Columbia, ruling that individuals have a constitutional right to keep guns for self-defense and other purposes. Period.

The court also has ruled separately that treaty obligations may not infringe on individual constitutional protections and rights within U.S. borders. This goes back at least to a 1920 ruling that a migratory bird treaty with Canada, which prohibited the hunting or capturing of certain birds, was an unconstitutional interference with states’ rights under the 10th Amendment.

Treaties are government-to-government agreements and do not subject citizens of one nation to laws of another or to those of an outside body.

Also, the U.N. resolution that authorized drafting of the small arms treaty recognizes the clear-cut right of nations “to regulate internal transfers of arms” and says nothing in the treaty that emerges will affect “constitutional protections on private ownership” of firearms.

Beyond that, there are many court rulings spelling out the limits of treaties. And if an act of Congress is inconsistent with a treaty obligation, the law passed by Congress prevails. Legal scholars say this has been well-established, including a long history of cases involving Indian treaties. Various international treaties with Indian tribes were abrogated by Congress – and courts ruled in favor of Congress, much to the displeasure of the tribes.

They are right, in that no treaty can override any law enacted by Congress and still less the constitution.  Somehow, given the Obama administration’s penchant for simply ignoring the law and the constitution, I feel less than reassured, especially when some Supreme Court Justices believe that foreign laws may be used to establish precedents here.


I actually have not paid very much attention to this issue and I can’t comment very much on it. I suspect that the fears of the NRA and others may be exaggerated. I have a feeling, though, that this treaty will be as effective at reducing the international trade in small arms as the Kellog-Briand treaty was in outlawing war.



Palestinians Submit Bid for Statehood to the UN

This is not going to end well, I am afraid

Defying U.S. and Israeli opposition, Palestinians asked the United Nations on Friday to accept them as a member state, sidestepping nearly two decades of failed negotiations in the hope this dramatic move on the world stage would reenergize their quest for an independent homeland.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by sustained applause and appreciative whistles from the delegations in the General Assembly hall as outlined his people’s hopes and dreams of becoming a full member of the United Nations. Some members of the Israeli delegation, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, left the hall as Abbas approached the podium.

In a scathing denunciation of Israel’s settlement policy, Abbas declared that negotiations with Israel “will be meaningless” as long as it continues building on lands the Palestinians claim for that state. Invoking what would be a nightmare for Israel, he went so far as to warn that his government could collapse if the construction persists.

“This policy is responsible for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process,” said Abbas, who has refused to negotiate until the construction stops. “This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence.”

To another round of applause, he held up a copy of the formal membership application and said he had asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to expedite deliberation of his request to have the United Nations recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Abbas neglected to mention certain aspects of recent history.

The speech papered over any Palestinian culpability for the negotiations stalemate, deadly violence against Israel, spurned peace offers and the internal rift that has produced dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza. It also ignored Jewish links to the Holy Land.

Abbas seemed to hold out an olive branch to Israel.

“We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking,” Abbas said. “Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between two neighboring states — Palestine and Israel — instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other,” he said.

I seem to have some trouble believing he is sincere. I am not sure why.

This will not result in a state for Palestine, since the US will veto the bid as soon as it comes before the Security Council. I suspect that that is not the point. Rather this is intended to be a propaganda coup to put pressure on Israel and bolster Abbas’s domestic position.

Abbas’ jubilant mood was matched by the exuberant celebration of thousands of Palestinians who thronged around outdoor screens in town squares across the West Bank on Friday to see their president submit his historic request for recognition of a state of Palestine to the United Nations.

“I am with the president,” said Muayad Taha, a 36-year-old physician, who brought his two children, ages 7 and 10, to witness the moment. “After the failure of all other methods (to win independence) we reached a stage of desperation. This is a good attempt to put the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people on the map. Everyone is here to stand behind the leadership.”

Yet by seeking approval at a world forum overwhelmingly sympathetic to their quest, Palestinians hope to make it harder for Israel to resist already heavy global pressure to negotiate the borders of a future Palestine based on lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967.

I have no idea what is going to happen next in that region but I am not optimistic.

Guess Who’s in New York

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran
Image via Wikipedia

It seems that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in New York yesterday to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly session. I wonder if Hitler ever attended any functions at the League of Nations.

This is a good reason why the UN needs to be located somewhere else. I propose Antarctica.


Roger Simon asks if we should kidnap him.

For years, I have read rumors that a young Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was among the kidnappers of the Americans at our Tehran embassy in 1980, back in the halcyon days of the Islamic revolution when Khomeini’s eager devotees scraped makeup from women’s faces with razor blades. (Oh, wait a minute. I guess they’re still doing it.)

I don’t know whether those rumors are true, but it’s hard to disbelieve them entirely, given the subsequent activities and pronouncements of the Iranian president. So it was with little surprise I read the news that the two American hikers on trial in Tehran have just been released in time for Ahmadinejad’s arrival in New York. Perhaps there was some fear (projection?) that we would snatch the Iranian despot before he had time to leave our shores and incarcerate him on Rikers Island or maybe reopen Alcatraz. (Gitmo would be out, I suppose, because Eric Holder has promised to shut it down before the election… assuming Obama doesn’t dump the AG first.)

Sounds good to me.

Bizarro World

I think that I must have entered Bizarro World.


You know, the strange planet in the Superman comics where they do everything the opposite the way it’s done on Earth. I get the impression from reading this article from USA Today.

WASHINGTON — The Palestine Liberation Organization‘s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews.

“After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated,” Maen Areikat, the PLO ambassador, said during a meeting with reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. He was responding to a question about the rights of minorities in a Palestine of the future.

Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.

And yet, somehow it is Israel that is the evil apartheid state, even though some 20% of Israel’s population are Arabs who have all the same rights as Israel’s Jewish population. And, the Palestinian Authority is somehow on the side of the angels, even though they are notoriously corrupt and undemocratic as this report from Freedom House makes clear.

Corruption remains a major problem in the West Bank, though Abbas has overseen some improvements. Prime Minister Salam Fayad, appointed by Abbas in 2007, is highly regarded for his commitment to transparent government, and has been credited with significantly reducing corruption at the higher levels of the PA.
The media are not free in the West Bank. Under a 1995 PA press law, journalists may be fined and jailed, and newspapers closed, for publishing “secret information” on PA security forces or news that might harm national unityor incite violence. Several small media outlets are routinely pressured to provide favorable coverage of the PA and Fatah. Journalists who criticize the PA or Fatah face arbitrary arrests, threats, and physical abuse. Since 2007, both the PA and Israeli forces have shut down Hamas-affiliated radio and television stations in the West Bank. In February 2010, a PA military court sentenced Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa television correspondent Tareq Abu Zaid to a year and a half in prison for “transferring information and money,” despite a Palestinian Supreme Court ruling calling for his release. In July, the PA Ministry of Communications issued notices to 19 radio and 25 television stations to stop broadcasting for one month and “correct their positions” or face permanent closure, according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA). International press freedom groups regularly criticize Israel for blocking journalists’ access to conflict zones, harming and sometimes killing reporters during battles, and harassing Palestinian journalists. Israel insists that reporters risk getting caught in crossfire but are not targeted deliberately. Both Palestinian and Israeli security forces were accused of assaulting and arbitrarily detaining several journalists in 2010.
The PA generally respects freedom of religion, though no law specifically protects religious expression. The Basic Law declares Islam to be the official religion of Palestine and also states that “respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions (Judaism and Christianity) shall be maintained.” Personal status law, which governs marriage and divorce, is based on religious law; for Muslims it is derived from Sharia (Islamic law), and for Christians it is governed by ecclesiastical courts. Some Palestinian Christians have experienced intimidation and harassment by radical Islamist groups and PA officials. In late October, blogger Waleed Hasayin was arrested on charges of defaming Islam and the Koran and violating the PA’s blasphemy laws; Hasayin was still being detained at year’s end while the PA investigated the allegations.
While Palestinian women are underrepresented in most professions and encounter discrimination in employment, they have full access to universities and to many professions. Palestinian laws and societal norms, derived in part from Sharia, put women at a disadvantage in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Rape, domestic abuse, and “honor killings,” in which women are murdered by relatives for perceived sexual or moral transgressions, are not uncommon. These murders often go unpunished.
So, how do I get back to a world that is rational?

Message from a Saudi Prince

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...
Image via Wikipedia

Prince Turki al-Faisal, former ambassador to the US has written an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Essentially he is saying that if we don’t allow the Palestinians to declare their statehood this month at the UN, then Saudi Arabia won’t be our friend anymore.

The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Considering that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were Saudi nationals and Saudi Arabia is still funding radical mosques and madrassas all over the world, and is one of the most oppressive nations on Earth, one would think that with a friend like that, we hardly need any enemies.

Israel should see the Palestinian bid for statehood not as a threat, but as a chance to return to the negotiating table and prevent further conflict. Recent polls show that up to 70 percent of Palestinians say they believe there will be a new intifada if the deadlock is not broken shortly; this should encourage Israel to seek peace with the moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

I can’t imagine why Israel would see a Palestinian state as a possible threat. Just because a majority of the Palestinians want to destroy Israel. Look at the map above. See how vulnerable Israel would be against a hostile Palestine.

The 2002 Arab Peace Plan must be the starting point for negotiations; a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders is the only realistic foundation on which to restart talks, seeing as how the Oslo Peace Process has proved fruitless.

Why has the peace process proved fruitless? Because the Palestinians don’t want peace or a two state solution. They want a one state solution with no Jews. I don’t really believe the Saudis are particularly sincere either.

Although Saudi Arabia is willing and able to chart a new and divergent course if America fails to act justly with regard to Palestine, the Middle East would be far better served by continuing cooperation and good will between these longstanding allies.

American support for Palestinian statehood is therefore crucial, and a veto will have profound negative consequences. In addition to causing substantial damage to American-Saudi relations and provoking uproar among Muslims worldwide, the United States would further undermine its relations with the Muslim world, empower Iran and threaten regional stability. Let us hope that the United States chooses the path of justice and peace.

A couple of questions:

1. If Prince Turki al-Faisal and Saudi Arabia are so concerned about justice in that part of the world, why don’t they take up the cause of the Kurds in Turkey, the Christians in Iraq and Egypt, or the Shiites in their own kingdom, all of which are being treated far worse than the Palestinians?

2. If the Palestinians want their own state, why don’t they show that they deserve one by learning to live at peace with their neighbors? This means openly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, renouncing the use of terrorism, even against “Zionists”, and taking out the anti-Semitic propaganda from their media and school curricula. Maybe after five or ten years with no incidents, the Israelis will feel secure enough to allow a Palestinian state.

3. By the way, why have the other Arab states in the region ever taken in the Palestinians? Has Saudi Arabia ever offered these refuges a home and a chance for a new life?

If I had to choose between having either Israel or Saudi Arabia for an ally, it really isn’t a difficult choice. I would go for the country that has religious freedom and doesn’t treat women as sub-humans. I hope President Obama feels likewise

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