“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Twitter, The Middle East And Racism in Italy.

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I find Twitter very useful for keeping up with events.

Of course, there is the danger of too much information and keeping track of things is sometimes hard. Still, certain issues deserve scrutiny, so here’s a selection of a few things I came across on Twitter recently.

Racism in Italy, or in any part of Europe is not new but the HRW’s documenting of it makes depressing reading, as if no lessons have been learnt:

“Instances of horrific racist violence in Italy have been widely reported on in the past several years. Some of the more notorious incidents include the October 2008 brutal beating of a Chinese man by a group of youngsters as he waited for a bus in Tor Bella Monaca, a district of Rome that has seen numerous attacks on immigrants. In this case, the attackers shouted racist insults, such as “shitty Chinaman.”[75] Seven teenagers were arrested hours after the incident.[76]

In February 2009, two adults and a 16-year-old attacked an Indian man in Nettuno, near Rome, beating him and then dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire.[77] All three were convicted without the aggravating circumstance of racial motivation.[78] In May 2009, a Senegalese actor named Mohamed Ba was knifed in the stomach as he waited for the tram in MIlan.[79] Ba’s aggressor has never been identified or apprehended, according to Ba and a close personal friend.[80]

The focus on of immigration issues for political ends in an increasingly diverse society has created an environment for open expression of racist and xenophobic sentiment. “A particular kind of language has been dusted off … making it so that openly racist expressions in everyday conversation don’t provoke any kind of concern,” according to Deputy Jean-Léonard Touadi.[81] Francesca Sorge, a lawyer in a firm that represents victims of discrimination and racist violence, agreed, saying that “phrases like, ‘You foreigners go away,’ are taken as part of the common lexicon of normal urban rudeness.”[82]”

Syria is going to change, hopefully, the Washington Post has more:

“On Wednesday, security forces launched a pre-dawn raid in the city in which dozens of people were killed, according to witnesses and activists. Precise estimates of the death toll range from 15 to 51.

On Thursday, witnesses said, thousands of people gathered in the city to bury the dead, chanting, “Syria! Freedom!”

The killings have prompted calls for larger anti-government demonstrations on Friday, testing both Assad’s determination to quell the spirit of revolt by any means necessary and the will of Syrians fearful of chaos and civil war.

Authorities in the capital, Damascus, are also trying softer measures to contain the unrest. They have released the detained children and referred to some of those killed by Syrian security forces as “martyrs.” At a news conference Thursday, Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Assad, announced a package of reforms that included opening up the media, allowing political parties and looking into lifting an emergency law in place since 1963.

State-run Syrian TV also announced that Assad had ordered the release of those detained in southern Syria in connection with the protests there. At least 92 people were detained in just the past week, according to the Syrian Human Rights League. Many others are in hiding.”

The proposal for an independent Palestinian state is intriguing and long overdue. The Palestinians deserve a state, security, jobs and to be able to cast off refugee status which has lasted over 60 years and is a terrible stigma upon them.

I wish them well, read more at the HuffPost, Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad: ‘An Independent Palestine Is in Israel’s Interest’

The PM programme in Australia covers how activists in Bahrain have been arrested and tortured.

Hussein Ibish, a highly informed political commentator on the Middle East, posts We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Conflict.

The NYT discusses Libya and a little known UN doctrine:

“This is also one of the few times in history when outside forces have intervened militarily to save the lives of citizens from their government. More commonly, we wring our hands for years as victims are massacred, and then, when it is too late, earnestly declare: “Never again.”

In 2005, the United Nations approved a new doctrine called the “responsibility to protect,” nicknamed R2P, declaring that world powers have the right and obligation to intervene when a dictator devours his people. The Libyan intervention is putting teeth into that fledgling concept, and here’s one definition of progress: The world took three-and-a-half years to respond forcefully to the slaughter in Bosnia, and about three-and-a-half weeks to respond in Libya.

Granted, intervention will be inconsistent. We’re more likely to intervene where there are also oil or security interests at stake. But just as it’s worthwhile to feed some starving children even if we can’t reach them all, it’s worth preventing some massacres or genocides even if we can’t intervene every time.”

In the US, some politicians are fiddling the figures to blame Muslims.

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