Monthly Archives: November 2011

Facebook Vanity

Morning has broken. You are ready to face the world with renewed  vigour –  surely today has to be better than yesterday on the productivity front. You settle down to breakfast, and in between mouthfuls you fire up the Facebook application on your smart phone.

“Let’s see if there’s anything creative on Facebook aside from the usual literary quotations everyone seems to be posting these days,” you say to yourself.

Facebook finally loads up and voilà! you have lost another five friends. Your friend tally has gone down from 999 yesterday to 994. Cupping your face in both hands you let out a sigh. Getting your friend tally up to 2000 is proving a lot more difficult than you ever anticipated and you are beginning to take this knock back quite personal. Vanitas, your “real life friend,” has already reached the Facebook friend limit of 5000 friends. Better still, she recently set up a Facebook fan page to accommodate the army of friends still trickling in.

You feel so dejected.  It doesn’t really matter to you that Vanitas doesn’t even know or communicate with the vast majority of her Facebook friends. As far as she’s concerned, Facebook friends aren’t like “real life friends.” You really don’t need to know them or network with them, you simply collect them like one would collect shoes or handbags. After all, having an army of Facebook friends does wonders for ones online credibility.

Get a grip of yourself buddy! People may “unfriend” you on Facebook for a variety of reasons. They may have decided that the friendship wasn’t worth maintaining or they may have shut down their account altogether.  Believe me, some people will even “unfriend” you simply because of your friendship with someone they aren’t  comfortable with (for instance, their ex partner).  Big deal? Vanity upon vanity equates to compounded vanity.

The advent of Facebook mirrors that of the mobile phone. Before its evolution, we didn’t think we needed it. But now that we have it, we almost cannot live without it. We even sometimes wonder how we ever coped without it in the first place.

Unless you use it to promote your business, Facebook and other social networks shouldn’t be taken too seriously. So what if your Facebook friend tally isn’t rapidly moving north? What’s this got to do with the price of crude oil?

You’re so vain, I bet you think this post is about you…………………

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The International Criminal Court V New Libya

Since his capture six days  ago, nearly every politician of repute, as well as so-called “political experts” on middle east affairs, have waded in with an opinion on where Saif Al Islam Gaddafi should stand trial.

Those calling for Saif to stand trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the Hague, point to the fairness of a ICC trial, the appropriateness of the ICC to hold war crimes trials, the current inadequate court system in Libya and the nonrecognition of the death penalty, as key decision factors.

On the other hand, there are those, including the Libyan authorities, who want Saif to stand trial in Libya, under Libyan law, for his alleged crimes against humanity among others.

Whichever way we choose to look at it, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Libya recognises the death penalty. The ICC doesn’t.

According to the Associated Press, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who met with Libyan authorities on Tuesday 22 November, “conceded the Libyans have the authority to try him at home but he wants judges from the Netherlands-based court to be involved.”

But then a more cautious Reuters report quotes Mr. Moreno-Ocampo as saying: “The issue of where the trials will be held has to be resolved through consultations with the court. In the end, the ICC judges will decide. There are legal standards which will have to be adhered to.”

So far, an official decision on where to try Saif Gaddafi has not been reached and it’s anyone’s guess  how long the legal wranglings between the ICC and the Libyan authorities will continue for.  What is, however, plausible is that the longer it takes for both sides to agree modalities, the more precarious Saif’s safety in captivity will become.

Strangely enough, I don’t particularly remember there being so much drama over where to try Saddam Hussein following his own capture in 2003, even though  he  was accused of far more heinous crimes against humanity than Saif ever will.  It was almost as if the West clamored for an Iraq-based trial for Saddam to exterminate him once and for all. Where was the ICC then? Taking a power nap….possibly?

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: New York’s Muslims Protest Against Police Surveillance

The Arab spring of protests has brought about a chain reaction of related and unrelated protests in key cities of the world, since it kicked off earlier this year. On Friday, 18 November, members of New York’s Muslim community came out to protest against police surveillance. According to the protesters, the constant spying on the Muslim community, by the New York Police Department, for approximately ten years has made them feel like “criminals.”

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Michael Jackson’s Death A Hoax?

Unsurprisingly, a number of conspiracy theories have floated around since Michael Jackson’s sudden death in 2009.  According to some conspiracy theories, the Illuminati is behind Michael’s death. Others hold a more outlandish view that Michael is simply manipulating the media with his disappearance, but he will be returning soon. Make what you will of this, conspiracy theories and hoaxes are as old as the hills and simply part of human nature.

In the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the conspiracy theory mill went into overdrive.  A few days ago, M7HE productions published a short documentary   (posted below) showing six procedural issues with the Dr. Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial, which it feels may suggest a possible death hoax.

For instance, a photograph of Michael taken at the time of autopsy erroneously had a date-stamp of 25 August 2009. The autopsy was actually conducted on 26 June 2009, the day after Michael died.

The documentary also highlighted concern with respect of the jury verdict form showing a wrong incident date of 6 June 2009 – Michael was still alive on this day. Although the form was later corrected by the jury foreman, according to the documentary,  a supplementary form should have been completed explaining the initial error, but this wasn’t done. Apparently, there is precedent for wrongly completed jury verdict forms resulting in tossed verdicts.

Other trial oddities shown in the documentary include the unconventional handcuffing procedures used to restrain Dr. Murray after he was found guilty, and court papers wrongly referring to Michael as “Michael Joseph  Jackson” instead of “Michael Joe Jackson.”

While the case for a Michael Jackson death hoax doesn’t hold weight and the various conspiracy theories are generally unfounded, it is evidently clear that  some aspects of the criminal trial were somewhat unusual.  Not being a lawyer myself, I wonder if the highlighted trial concerns provide sufficient basis for an appeal ? That is a matter for Dr. Murray’s defence team.

Anyway, when it’s all said, done and dusted, the bottom line remains that the evidence against Dr. Murray was overwhelming and by extension, supports a guilty verdict. As for Michael Jackson……. gone too soon.

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Please, Let’s Keep It Real

Watching the huge display of celebrations outside the courthouse in Los Angeles, after the announcement of the guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson manslaughter trial, I couldn’t help but wonder why we always have to find someone to blame when things go wrong. It was almost as if the fans outside the courthouse were ready to exert mob justice on Dr. Conrad Murray, who had just been officially held responsible for Michael Jackson’s death.

Arguably,  Michael Jackson was, if not the greatest entertainer ever, then one of the greatest. As a Michael fan myself, I think musically, it doesn’t get  any better than Billie Jean, off the wall, rock with you and human nature. But having said that, I think it takes a certain type of fan to camp outside the Los Angeles courthouse everyday for six weeks, all in the name of justice for Michael. I found it quite bizarre that some fans became quite emotional when the guilty verdict came down and others broke out into a frenzy of  Michael’s trademark moonwalk and electric slide dance routines. To me, these celebrations were a touch over the top considering the fact that most of these fans only knew Michael from afar.

I agree that the Jackson clan, and some of Michael’s fans, may find the verdict  somewhat therapeutic.  Nevertheless, it is important that we all keep things real for a number of reasons.

1) While the guilty verdict may help the Jackson clan and fans deal with their grief, it doesn’t bring Michael back from the dead.

2) Dr. Murray is held responsible for Michael Jackson’s death within the realm of law. Although Dr. Murray was evidently professionally negligent, there was clearly no intention on his part to kill Michael. The manner of Michael’s death, though tragic, was purely accidental.

There are times in life when things happen that we cannot unscramble. When faced with these situations, we should learn from them, accept them as fate and then move on. As I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t reincarnate Michael, but it helps put sad situations like this in perspective.  On a spiritual level, maybe we ought to also accept that no matter how short a life, it is indeed a life spent.

3) Michael Jackson was clearly addicted to controlled drugs and he engaged Dr. Murray to help him obtain them. If it hadn’t been Dr. Murray, it would have been someone else willing to oblige for money. When we view things from this angle, it’s hard not to conclude that Michael Jackson’s tragic death was, maybe, an accident waiting to happen.

Consequently, it is ironic that Dr. Murray’s “once in a lifetime opportunity” turned out to be his nemesis. However, his woe was self-inflicted by greed. Surely he must have known that in using controlled drugs in the way that he did, he was over-skirting the borders of medical ethics.

Dr. Murray deserves to lose his medical license and be held accountable, albeit as a scapegoat, for his greed-fuelled medical negligence. However, finally, I hope that the Jackson clan takes solace from the verdict and then find it in their hearts to withdraw their multiple civil lawsuits against him.  The man is financially ruined and professionally damaged as it is.  Isn’t this enough?