Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: America

Michael Moore Honors Our Dark Side

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If you’ve visited Europe and lived with the locals like I have, you would have already realized that, in comparison to other countries, here there’s a big imbalance between the US Government and its people. You would watch Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next and understand that, yes, Europeans have a much healthier lifestyle than we do, thanks to their government. True they pay a little more taxes than we do, but they get the lifestyle fit for a human being not a working machine.

Americans work harder than people in most other countries, sometimes juggling two to three jobs, in order to meet their financial obligations. Europeans, on the other hand, get eight weeks paid vacations, two-hour lunch breaks, and countless other perks. Women get months of paid maternity leave.

When I visited Germany, my cousin’s wife told me that her baby would get a monthly allowance until she turned eighteen years old. For several months, this new mom even had a woman come into her home twice to three times a week to help with household chores, laundry and cooking.

As Moore points out in his documentary, we’re paying these higher taxes anyway – healthcare, college tuition, etc. He says, “We don’t call them taxes, but that’s what they are.”

Carrying the American flag, he “invades” various countries in order to bring back their ideas into our territories. These ideas include the Europeans’ view on work, education, healthcare, sex, equality, and food! It was difficult to watch French school children served gourmet food on china while our children, in the most powerful country in the world, get served— well, I don’t want to even think of it!

One Tunisian woman pointed out that Americans are lucky because they live in the most powerful nation in the world. She says, “But being the strongest stops them from being curious.”

I used to notice, after my trips abroad, how difficult, even insulting, it was for Americans who never set foot outside the United States, to consider incorporating what Moore is trying to do in his film – adopt positive ideas (rather than stealing resources) that would greatly improve our country.

Other things that were uncomfortable to watch because they were simply embarrassing:

  • Finland’s educational system is at #1 while the US is at #29
  • Portuguese prison guards who treat their prisoners with dignity and decency reminding us of what our forefathers wrote in the US Constitution, that we’re not to have “cruel and unusual punishment.”
  • Germans advising us that taking a little care of our neighbor benefits everyone, is “common sense” and in the long run, is cheaper on us
  • When stressed, a German can go stay at a spa for 3 weeks (paid by their insurance)
  • Norway prison guards using words, not weapons (they don’t carry any) to break up conflicts inside the prisons
  • American students going to Slovenia to attend colleges and universities for free
  • Germans advising us that taking a little care of our neighbor benefits everyone, is “common sense.”
  • Germans educating their youth about the sins of their forefathers in order that something like the Holocaust never happens again.

“In Germany, they don’t white wash what happened, or pretend it never happened,” said Moore. “Why do we hide from our sins when it’s the first step to recovery… We have to honor our dark side and make amends for it so we can be a better world.”

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the first female president both in Iceland and Europe believes that it will be women who will end up saving the world. “Women will do that, not with war, with words.”

Other Icelander women believe the same, because, they say, “Women think, What’s good for the whole? Men think, What’s in it for me?”

They feel that when men join women in embracing this peaceful concept to resolving conflict, then yes, we will be able to save the world.

The movie ended and the audience applauded (haven’t experienced that in years).

ISIS Continues Targeting Christians


My friend Nahren sent me the following report:

It is being reported by my journalist friends in Khabour that ISIS has started using the Assyrian Christian hostages as human shields including the children against the Syrian Military. It is confirmed that the amount of hostages right now are 217 and the difference from the original amount were hiding in red zone areas until they made their way back to their families and were identified. However, ISIS is requesting a ransom of $100,000 per Assyrian Christian hostage. The Sheikhs are trying to demand for their release through consistent communication and the sheiks claim that the 217 are still alive. Many Americans and non-Assyrians have attempted to drive into the Northern Part of Khabour which is under the Kurdish occupation. They were turned away even with permits from the KRG.

It is also reported by numerous sources that as some of the civilians made their ways back to their homes, they found that the Kurds completely have taken over their homes and properties. They were told that their homes did not belong to them anymore. Journalists and media are not permitted in the area anymore and witnesses have confirmed that they were allowing only Kurdish civilians to enter through the border. Furthermore, it is reported that the Kurds are already attempting to convert the Assyrian Christian village names into Kurdish names (it’s confirmed that 2 to 3 villages have already been changed).

I asked Nahren, who with other activists demands international protection, why the Iraqi minorities have not yet been helped. She explained part of the problem.

“Our own people are so divided in organizations, political parties, churches and so forth,” she said. “The day our people (Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs) will unite like we used to be, I promise that Nineveh will rise with an amazing power that will be distinguishable in the world.”

Which reminded me of the famous Pogo quote, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt


Protesters in some of America’s largest cities continued demonstrating their anger Sunday night at the acquittal of George Zimmerman. But here’s the thing – it is required that the jurors only hand a guilty verdict if the prosecutors showed evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

The evidence in the Zimmerman case did not prove that. That does not mean he did not act in haste and could have prevented the death of a young man (especially had he not been carrying a gun). But at the same time, everyday we watch television programs showing that if one man or woman in jail were to behave a little out of control, they are considered a threat and a team of 5 or more police officers approach them. These officers are decked from head to toe with armor and use strict methods to sedate one unarmed person.

It would be more worth the protestors’ time to focus on a crime which does show evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, such as the case of Robert Leone. Leone was stopped by Pennsylvania State Police after a low-speed chase for a traffic violation that apparently he did not commit. While Robert was attained he was nearly killed by the police. He suffered through 11 hours of multiple beatings. He was hog-tied and tasered at least 10 times. He was also chemically maced. He spent more than 2 ½ years in jail. Robert was charged with felony assault on a police officer because the officer broke his hand when he punched Robert in the head with his fist while he was being detained.

The dash cam video of the assault went viral and you can hear the state trooper saying, “Do you know who you’re messing with? This is the Pennsylvania State Police!”

Robert is heard screaming in pain and anguish. The trooper verbally abuses him and then angrily accuses him of spitting on him. Robert, who has been compliant and submissive, cries, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t spit on you, sir.” But the trooper thinks otherwise so Robert continues to be beaten.

When the ambulance came to take Robert to the hospital, the trooper with the broken hand took the ride instead and left Robert hog-tied in the back of the police car. Robert was carried into the hospital, where he begged the nurse, in a whisper, to save him from the cops’ brutality. One of the cops overheard him snitching on them, and he and his buddies returned into the room, kicked everyone out, and continued to beat and taser Robert, which was all caught on video. Neither in the video of the assault nor in the hospital reports was there any evidence that Robert did not cooperate.

The cops eventually lost their jobs, and someone in a post thread wondered why they were not prosecuted, but was glad that at least they didn’t get a promotion. Of course, no protests were held for this obvious crime which had mounds of evidence for a guilty verdict.

You can watch the video of the graphic beating in this website:

No-Touch Torture

I attended a presentation today pertaining to a landmark lawsuit case against CACI, a private U.S. contractor which systematically tortured Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. The lawsuit was filed by four Iraqis who say they suffered abusive and degrading treatment at the Abu Ghraib prison. The men were all released – one after four years – without ever being charged. These men were professionals, like a math teacher, a live stock trader, a construction worker and a journalist.

The military was largely protected from the suit, but not so with CACI. Earlier in the year, a $5-million settlement involving 71 detainees were reported. In March, Arlington-based CACI wanted a federal judge to toss out the case because they said CACI employees never even came in contact with the plaintiffs, much less abused them. The judge didn’t buy that, so someone – no one knows who – came up with a brilliant idea. Stop the Iraqi men suing CACI from coming to the United States.

Three of the four men (one is already in the United States) had their boarding passes on hand when they were pulled out of the line boarding the plane. Their passports were taken away from them and they have not been able to travel to the U.S. since. Whether or not they will be able to attend the trial determined to be in June is still to be seen. CACI has argued against a video deposition and request that their cases be dismissed because of their inability to come.

There are over 3,000 additional photos of the Abu Ghraib torture which Congress will not release because they are so graphic and for fear of what will happen to US soldiers overseas. Some of these photos include a father and son lying naked on top of each other and various rapes of detainees, including young boys.

The point is this – the selfish, careless and heartless decisions of our leaders will continue to haunt us for decades to come, whether we like it or not. It’s not as evident in American television. Just subscribe to Al Jazeera and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Coffee vs. Guns



In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and two years later, a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered.

One of the jurors said over the course of the trial he came to realize the case was about “callous disregard for the safety of the people.”Another juror said “the facts were so overwhelmingly against the company.”

Since the lawsuit, McDonald’s – and most other places – no longer serve coffee very hot.

In September 2012, the school system in Cranston, R.I., announced it is banning traditional father-daughter and mother-son activities, saying they are a violation of the state’s gender discrimination law. It decision was in response to a complaint from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) on behalf of a single mother who said her daughter was not able to attend a father-daughter-dance.

The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence reports that an average of 268 people are shot every day in America. That’s 97,820 per year. Yet despite decades of efforts, no one can make the NRA budge a little to help protect Americans let alone sue it the way the coffee drinker did with McDonald’s.

I guess third degree burns on one’s inner thighs and a single woman’s anger over her daughter not going to the daddy-daughter dance are worthy of more instantaneous legal response.