Monday, April 11, 2011 | Categories: The As It Happens Blog
by Jeff Douglas
As I eased my way into the week, nursing an espresso machiato, Carol was starting her Monday in an extensive interview with former UK PM/Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown .
I think I had the easier morning.
One of the things that never ceases to grab me here at AIH is personality. The information is great, sure, but since you are essentially on the telephone with these people, these global movers and shakers, you really get a good sense of their personalities.
In Mr.Brown's case, it's a strong one.
Carol talks to him about his weekend mea culpa, in which he admitted he'd failed to adequately regulate financial institutions in his role as Britain's chancellor of the exchequer.
Carol also quizzes him on the topic of his book Beyond the Crash: the wicked stumble the world's economies took back '08.
His comments on the morality, or lack thereof, of global financial institutions are particularly thought-provoking.
Mr. Brown is also critical of the remuneration/bonuses that robbed many of these institutions of capital that could have helped them stave off disaster. And he says that there are problems when you have an international financial community subject only to national levels of oversight.
I am nobody's financier - so I cannot do Mr. Brown justice: he knows his stuff.
Give it a listen, because he really does have a great way of capturing the big picture as to what has gone down in the past, how things stand today and where current decisions could lead us.
Today marks one full month since the earthquake and tsunami that rocked northeastern Japan. More than 27,000 people are dead or missing, 160,000 survivors are living in emergency centres or hotels turned to that purpose, and events are still in flux at Fukushima, with the evacuation zone being expanded amid fears for long-term health.
Here is an NHK (Japanese Public Broadcaster) English synopsis on the events of the past month.
Also, I came across some moving/striking/haunting images of Japan: one month later.
Refusing the Silence
If I am honest with myself, I know that, in the face of systemic oppression and brutality, I would keep my head down and toe the line. I would not make waves: I would survive. The courage of those who stand in the face of this kind of threat, of those who willingly forfeit their own safety for the good of others, is beyond debate. Those who do so are illustrations of the greatest potential of our spirit.
AIH spoke to such a person today.
Nabeel Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. He says that three peope have died in detention in Bahrain in the past ten days. The government suggests that two of the three died of Sickle Cell Anemia. Mr. Rajab says the state of their bodies cries torture. As proof of his claims, Mr. Rajab has posted photos of the battered bodies of the victims online and now stands accused of "fabricating" information.
As a result, he has been called in for an "interview" with military officials. Two weeks ago he was arrested, tortured and released.
He will not stop calling for justice. He will not give authorities the "silence" they seek. Regardless of the danger.
In the three months that I have been with AIH, we have seen and heard of many such heroes. I am inspired and saddened by their courage. Inspired that people are capable of such strength and thirst for justice. Saddened that others, people in positions of authority, have put them in a place where they must risk their lives fighting for the most basic of human rights: safety and liberty.
But I find myself also wondering if these horrible conditions - brutality, oppression, injustice - serve to highlight the heroes and give us shining examples of our potential.
Let Them Eat Toast
In news that is in no way related, I learned at our story meeting this morning that candidates in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu were promising goodies to their voters should they win. Real stuff! Not things like tax breaks. Things like blenders! Cars! Colour TVs! You know, the important things.
Made me think, though. This being an election year, maybe my wife and I should have held off on that toaster oven purchase.