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Clinton Approves International Criminal Court
President Clinton has approved the signing of the U.N. treaty creating an International Criminal Court in spite of reservations about the form and procedures of the proposed court. The United States earlier voted against the proposed court, because the Pentagon feared our troops stationed in U.N. actions around the world could become targets of politically motivated charges. U.S. representatives to the conference attempted to pass an amendment which would force any proposed case to be approved by the Security Council, in essence allowing the U.S. to veto the prosecution of Americans, but it was overwhelmingly defeated by the assembly of delegates at the Rome convention.
Another serious concern is that the rights guaranteed U.S. citizens by the Bill of Rights (or the rights of citizens of other countries guaranteed under their laws) have no binding power over the prosecutors of the international court. National sovereignty in these matters will cease to exist.
There is no right to trial by jury. Appeals will be heard by the court's own appeals judges. There is no right to be free from testifying against one's self, right to a speedy trial, protection against cruel or unusual punishment, right to an attorney ... etc.
Currently the international "crimes" under the court's jurisdiction involve war crimes and things such a genocide. However, the jurisdiction of the court was deliberately left open-ended by the treaty, and it is the court itself that determines what comes under the realm of its jurisdiction. This means it can create new international "law" any time it wishes, thus making the court into lawmaker, judge, jury and appeals court all in one. In short, there is little any country will be able to do to protect its citizens.
Funding for the court and its 18 judges would come from assessments against the participating nations in a manner similar to the way U.N. dues are currently assessed. However, in addition, the court will be given the right to confiscate the property and assets of the accused, and to convert those assets for its own use upon conviction. The opportunities for corruption here are limitless.
Clinton rationalized that by signing the treaty the U.S. will have at least some influence over the makeup of the court, including the appointment of judges and writing of rules, even if the Senate never ratified the document.
Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to fight Senate ratification of the treaty. "By signing, the president has effectively given his approval to this unprecedented assault on American sovereignty," said Helms.
Internet Speech Under Global Fire
Sam Aurelius Milam III
In connection with the previous item regarding control of our use of the internet, I have a story of my own. I thought that it might be interesting (and lucrative) to accept the recent generous offer by Saddam Hussein of grants to poor Americans. I seem to qualify. However, when I tried to access the websites of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and of the Iraqi Presidency, I received a message notifying me that the attempt had failed.
Using addresses from the same index (CNN Interactive), I was able to access various other Middle East websites, including the following: Cyprus Home Page, Egypt State Information Service, Official Pakistan Page, CyberIran, Palestinian National Authority Official Website, The Office of the Prime Minister (Israel), Jordan Government (National Information Service), Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon On-Line, Libya Home Page, and Turkey Online. Each time that I tried to access the Iraqi websites, I received a message notifying me that the attempt had failed. I was able to access "general interest" Iraqi websites, but not the official websites. There were a lot of other websites listed. Some others that I could not access included: Voice of Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen.
Is my access being blocked by some agency of the U.S. government? I don't know. However, I'd be interested in knowing if any of my readers can successfully access the Iraqi websites. Here are their addresses.
I'd be even more interested in knowing if any of you can get one of those grants.
Liberty Video: Chicken Run
Reviewed by Don J. Cormier
Imagine what it would be like if chickens had human thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, imagine what it would be like if chickens KNEW they were being imprisoned by farmers, being exploited for their eggs, and being fattened for slaughter. How would chickens feel? What would chickens do? Wouldn't some of them decide to escape or, as they say, "make a run for it"? That is the premise of the hilarious animated feature Chicken Run.
Chicken Run brilliantly satirizes World War II prisoner films such as Stalag 17 and The Great Escape. All the cliches of Hogan's Heros are lovingly modified to fit chickens, but the film doesn't stop there. Throw in touches of Indiana Jones, Rocky, and The African Queen and the result is a paradox: a film that mocks old stereotypes while bringing them back to vibrant life.
I suppose that Chicken Run could be interpreted as pro-vegetarian propaganda, but that would be a mistake. The film's political message is really pro-freedom.
Ginger, the film's chicken heroine, is mystically driven to seek freedom despite nearly unending setbacks. This is contrasted with the mostly passive behavior and fearful, unfocused thinking of the other hens. There is a very significant scene in which Ginger tries to explain to the other fowl what it would be like to live as wild chickens. Because farm life is all the other chickens know, they raise all sorts of seemingly sensible objections to the idea. The more Ginger tries to explain, the more ridiculous her vision seems to the other hens — but we as the audience know that what she's proposing is in fact possible; that it's the way chickens lived prior to domestication. Any anarchist or libertarian who has tried to explain to conventional citizens that it's possible to live with little or no government will identify with Ginger's frustration!
In the film, the impasse is broken by the arrival of Rocky the Flying Rooster, an apparent living example of a free-range chicken. This gives the hens psychological energy. After numerous exciting adventures, the chickens end up living in a wilderness area, exactly as Ginger had described. The implication is that humans also can escape our un-free situations, with enough faith, perseverance, etc...
The film's animation technique must be singled out for praise. It appears to be clay stop-motion animation, but given today's computer programs, it might be partly or completely digital. Whatever it is, it's so beautifully done that, except for the deliberate use of comic distortion, one might almost mistake it for a live-action effort. Peter Lord and Nick Park, the creators of Chicken Run, deserve an Academy award for their work.
Buck Hunter Shoots Off His Mouth
What do you call a cowboy who looks for the worst bronco in the whole rodeo?
I don't know, but it had better not be a buck hunter.
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor