images-1
Böhmermann deliberately insulted the Turkish president.

Tübingen, Germany: When German comedian, Jan Böhmermann, did a satirical sketch on state run ZDF TV this month, accusing the Turkish president of “repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians” as well as suggesting he has “sex with sheep and goats,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan went ballistic and called for the satirist to be prosecuted under a little known German defamation law. The row has opened a Pandora’s box of troubles for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: should the law be scrapped; how far does free speech and satire go; what grip does the Turkish president have around the Chancellor’s throat?

BRAZZAVILLE: Boris Iloy Ibara, the News Director of Télé Congo, the state run TV, has a spacious office in the heavily guarded and half empty five-story structure built by the Chinese and inaugurated just six years ago. Boris says if the opposition is absent from his programs, it is because they don’t have the money to pay for the slot. He admits his reporters will take anywhere from $100 to $2000 dollars from the politicians they cover to do the story. However, he denies he has orders to censor the opposition.

The debate in France this week centers on Islamophobia and is sparked by the publishing of two books. The first by Charb (1), one of the artists killed in the January 7 Charlie Hebdo attack and the second by a Journalist, Caroline Fourest(2).

Both reject attempts to stifle debate on Islam by labeling any who criticize the religion of Mohammed as “Islamophobes.” They write that in reality, the crusade against Islamaphobia is an attempt to weaken secularism; to put religion above the laws of the land.

They came in their hundreds of thousands. Jews, Muslims (although fewer than hoped for), Christians and atheists: Students, workers, the unemployed and the bourgeoisie. They said “I am Charlie.” “I am Ahmed.” (the policeman executed at Charlie Hebdo). “I am a Jew.” Or, they just said nothing.

They were anarchists, communists and ultra nationalists, social democrats and conservatives. There were also islamophobes and anti-Semites. The one thing that united them all was their refusal to yield to fear and their desire to keep the freedom to think what they want and to be able to say it in public without facing obscurantist violence. This coming together of those who want the right to disagree with each is extraordinary. France, which gave us the enlightenment, 1789 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still Une Grande Nation.

The Israelis say Syria paid protesters to go to the Golan Sunday to protest the ongoing Israeli occupation of the heights as if this justifies using live fire against unarmed demonstrators in which as many as 25 people were killed and 350 wounded.  That the accusation rather than the killings gets the lede is insane.

It is amazing to see how those in the mainstream press simply ignore anybody who leaves the ‘official frame’ set by the ‘respected authorities’. The limits of debate are narrow and ‘official speak’ is full of new euphemisms and phraseology with meaningless content destined to join ‘collateral damage’ in the dustbin of used spin. Let us look at some examples.

The first lie is “pro-Ouatara forces captured Gbagbo”. Lets look at the events. On Saturday night and all day Sunday, French attack helicopters fired rockets at the Presidential compound in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1975 which gave a mandate for protecting civilians and not taking sides. Then on Monday morning, as reported by al Jazzeera, a column of thirty French armored vehicles and French special forces moved in on the residence. Fighting lasted the whole day. Now they tell us the Ivorians took Gbagbo.

To further underscore the lie, the video of Gbagbo’s arrest was released by the French! Maybe once the French took the compound they let Ouattara’s thugs in for the camera. Lets not forget that up until Saturday, Ouattara’s troops were being pushed back all over the city. A clear sign of the support Gbagbo has.

The Christmas underwear bombing attempt by a Nigerian Islamic Fundamentalist on a plane to Detroit has given Americans a chance to play their favorite game: scare themselves to death with practically non-existent threats to their lives.