The “D” Agenda

Elizabeth Taylor 1932 - 2011

If we ever bothered to stop and reflect upon life for a moment, we probably would agree that there are far more important things in the world than having: an artifact of a house; fame; a swanky car (or a fleet of them); an in-season wardrobe; absolute power; and a bottom-less pit of money. Elizabeth Taylor, Muammar Gaddafi, Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse, John Paul Getty III and Peter Falk, who all  passed away during 2011, had some of these trappings of success. But death knows no status.

Some of us think that the mark of success is material wealth. How many cars do you have? How many homes do you have? What kind of social circles do you move in? What private schools do your children attend? Do children of other high net worth individuals attend this school?  It really is an endless list.

Oftentimes, we fall helplessly in love – sometimes to the point of obsession – with the public persona of celebrities we know very little about. For instance, despite his laudable musical accomplishments and his global public fascination, Michael Jackson, like the rest of us, had his own personal problems.  As he couldn’t sleep naturally,  he was happy to pay a doctor $150,000 a month to help him achieve something that really should be natural and free.

Muammar Gaddafi 1942 - 2011

Some of us relish power. For whatever reason, we think we are the best person to eradicate the ills of the society we live in. But history has proved that in some instances, no sooner than ordinary power is attained, the pursuit of tyrannical power sometimes becomes an obsession.

Times change and so do sentiments. Even our own individual experiences would have taught us that nothing in life is permanent. It’s no state secret that the late Muammar Gaddafi wasn’t always the enemy of the West or disliked by his people. However, when he eventually lost his 42-year tight grip on Libya, even his material trappings couldn’t avert his sad and gruesome end.

Most of us have an inherent  dislike of death. But while this post isn’t meant to be an ode to death, or a dream-killer, it is a reminder that money, fame and other trappings of success aren’t everything.  There are more important things in life and thankfully they are free: good health, happiness, family, cuddles, trust, friends, children, relationships, God, air, water, sleep, fond memories and unconditional love, to name but a few.

May the souls of those mentioned in this post rest blissfully. Long life and good health to the rest of us.

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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…………………

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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