2011 - %3, August

Ohio Declines Federal Unemployment Funds for Battered Women

| Thu Aug. 25, 2011 11:16 AM PDT

I know I've mentioned this before, but Ohio governor John Kasich is really an asshole.

H/t JanieBT.

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False Report of Qaddafi's Son's Arrest Hurts ICC, Supposedly

| Tue Aug. 23, 2011 1:18 PM PDT

After the exciting news from International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam had been arrested, and the subsequent exciting-but-in-a-different-way news that he had actually NOT been arrested, the ICC is under fire. "It doesn't say very much, I'm afraid as someone who supports the international criminal court, for the credibility of that organisation that it should have apparently endorsed the information that the son had been taken into custody," analysts are saying. Or, "this is a terrible blow to the ICC’s credibility."

Here's my professional analysis, as a human rights reporter/ICC-feature writer/watcher: Meh.

Back in May, Moreno-Ocampo announced that he was requesting that the ICC issue arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif, and the head of military intelligence. In June, the warrants came through, making the three Libyans officially wanted for crimes against humanity for the systematic and widespread attack of civilians. At the time, Moreno-Ocampo was saying that Libyans should and could and, he believed, would make the arrests themselves. His announcement Monday that they'd arrested Saif was based on info from confidential sources, he told Reuters. Confidential sources who were evidently wrong.

It's true that the ICC exists to charge and prosecute war criminals, and that their charges are only as good as the reliable information they can get. But this mistake didn't happen in a courtroom or a legal brief. The efforts of hundreds of ICC researchers, some of whom I've met, go into those. It's not stunning that some misinformation was conveyed to Moreno-Ocampo in the midst of the shitshow that is revolution, going down in a shitshow like Libya. Certainly he wouldn't have announced it if he weren't pretty damn sure; he appears to not be responding to requests for comment about exactly how the mixup happened; he shouldn't have announced it in the heat of that moment, no doubt. I imagine there's a lot of unhappy scrambling going on in that drab International Criminal Court building since Saif started strolling around in front of the cameras. But this is not the thing that would destroy my faith in international justice.

We discuss some of the much bigger issues with international justice in my story in our current issue. Like if asking the ICC to issue arrest warrants for warmongering dictators just further entrenches them. Like if international justice only applies to the unpopular or smaller guys in the UN, with ICC warrants out so far only for Africans. As The Atlantic points out in this excellent post, it's the credibility of the Libyan rebels that might be most questionable after this particular incident. And that's no small concern, since pretty much everyone, not just the ICC, is relying on them for information. Not to mention hope for Libya's future.

Fun With Tax-Cut Comparisons

| Wed Aug. 17, 2011 3:59 PM PDT

In the process of putting together a feature about the great state of Ohio, where I was on assignment for a month this summer, I just re-came across a great chart. And by great, I mean for people who want to know just how fucked they got by the budget Republican governor John Kasich recently passed, which slashed funding to schools and local governments but kept a tax break that basically only benefits rich people. Take a look.

Unfriendly Fire

| Wed Aug. 17, 2011 3:16 PM PDT

This week, Guernica's got a feature up about the US military's flaming trash pits in Afghanistan. After all, "There are more than 100,000 troops currently deployed in Afghanistan—and thousands more private contractors—and the Department of Defense estimates that each soldier and contractor generates about ten pounds of solid waste per day," and they've got to do something with it. Who could possibly be harmed by burning it?

Early last year, MoJo did a story on how the toxic smoke from these conflagrations of everything from electronics to human feces could be killing otherwise perfectly healthy American soldiers. And as Guernica's thorough rundown of the environmental and human impacts shows, nothing has changed. It's heartbreaking, not just for the deaths and the senselessness, but for the Army's unwillingness or inability to deal with the longstanding problem. Sure, it's tough for a country to just pull out of a war, stop a war, fix all the problems a war caused. But it has somewhat more control over setting giant piles of poison on fire and making its soldiers and any nearby civilians breathe the fumes, no?

Quote of the Day, Ohio State Senator Edition

| Mon Aug. 15, 2011 3:49 PM PDT

"She got a little upset. Girls do that."

—Ohio state Senator Kris Jordan (R), to a deputy after his wife called 911 to request assistance because Jordan was pushing her around, drunk, for what she said was one of "numerous times" over the last two years. Last week, the city prosecutor announced he won't file charges. (H/t Plunderbund, which anyone interested in Ohio politics should follow.)