Difficult Conversations – Special Edition

Earthquake, Oil Spill &
Dangerous War Secrets


A Short List of What Have Kept Us Awake in 2010,

and What We May Need to Awake From in the New Year.


1) July 26, December 19. The biggest story of the year, the two-punch WikiLeaks revelations about our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the startlingly dispirited diplomacy used to achieve them, had all the limitations of an attack led by drones: all fire, no eyesight.
What was far more revealing was the swift counter punch by the U.S. and its allies in reaction to them. Within days, a case of free speech was turned into a terrorist witch-hunt of the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, the Interpol was brought in and a personal misdeed in Sweden was quickly rolled in for good measure.
The effort to punish the messenger was enough to temporarily derail the essence of the allegations, force Assange to fight expatriation and jail term threats, and land Pvt Bradley Manning, his supposedly source, into an insalubrious location Continue reading

Stoning Iran

Sakineh Is Shown Again on

Iranian TV Admitting Guilt

JUST IN: In what looked like another staged guilty “confession,” Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was shown on the Iranian state TV, along with her son and lawyer. The highly suspicious broadcast was blurry and no identification of the faces of the three could be positively established. What looks like another farce follows a Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki declaration a few weeks ago that “the authorities of justice had not pronounced the final verdict in the affair concerning Sakineh.” That meant either Iran was once again backpedaling on its intention to hang her, or just trying to divert the world’s attention to her fate, as it did many times in the past, according to human rights activists. They vowed then, as now, to keep up the public vigil to prevent the issue from falling through the cracks and allowing Iran the undisturbed opportunity it’s apparently seeking to carry on Ashtiani’s death sentence.

Once again, the world’s bracing itself breathlessly in the face of horrible news that the Iranian state is ready to kill Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani very soon.  And once again, a global mobilization is apace to prevent this crime from happening. Human rights organizations are urging Iran’s authorities to free Ashtiani, who stands accused of a murder to which no proof has been provided by the prosecution.
Ashtiani was initially sentenced to death by stoning, a medieval form of capital punishment only Iran and a few other authoritarian regimes still carry. Faced with a huge wave of public outcry, the Iranian state commuted her sentence to death by hanging, insisting the 43-year old mother of two murdered her husband with a relative it said she was having an illicit affair. The proof for these charges have never been produced publicly and they wouldn’t be even considered by the strict but Continue reading