And now, for a change: just some good news.
Almost two weeks ago we reported the sad case of Laurent Ghilain and Peter Meurrens, a Belgian couple that were caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. They wanted a child in their family and decided to use a surrogate in the Ukraine with Laurent as the donor. Their son Samuel was born two years ago but they have not been able to bring him home because the Beligian government has refused to issue a passport for the child. Even though the boy has a home waiting for him he has been stuck in a Ukrainian orphanage. The bureaucrats claim they have no regulations for this situation so they can't do anything because they don't know what to do. (A Facebook page for this case is here.)
Today Laurent sent out a notice:
The Belgian judge said YES, we just got the decision. The judge recognizes, after 2 years of waiting, the "lineage" (bond between father and son). Prosecutors still have 1.5 months as from 28/02 to appeal. We will demand a Belgian passport for Samuel at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs this week, and we cross our fingers that the response is immediate and that we do not hear of an appeal. If all goes well, it should go fast... let's hope."
This is damn good news and I'm thrilled for little Samuel and his fathers. Given the nature of bureaucrats, they aren't human, I still worry that more heartache will come to this family before final victory. But I believe they will eventually win, but they need the loving support of everyone.
More Justice, Well a Little Bit
Kelley Williams-Bolar is a mother who lied, and I applaud her for doing so. Kelly is a 40-year-old mother of two who is working on a teaching certificate and works with special needs kids at a local school. She lives in a housing project and the local government school is a pretty awful place to send children. Kelley's father lives in a a different school district and she registered her children in that school district using her father's address. Kelley would drive her daughters to a school bus stop, and after school they would walk to their grandfather's, who would watch them until Kelley got off work and could pick them up. For this "crime" she and her father were arrested.
When those damned bureaucrats (yet again) learned of this they demanded Kelley pay them $30,000 for tuition fees. When she was unable and unwilling to do so they put her on trial and she was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, reduced to 10 days, two years on probation and 80 of community service.
After hundreds of thousands of protests were lodged, the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, has asked the Ohio Parole Board to consider a pardon. Of course, that is a rather cowardly way for Kasich to deal with the situation since he could issue a pardon on his own. But he'd rather have a bureaucratic stamp of approval on it first. Kasich said: "Many people have shared their thoughts with me in letters, e-mail and phone calls and I appreciate their outreach." (Anyone want to bet he doesn't appreciate their outreach and finds this whole thing a headache?
The teacher's unions don't like cases like this as they don't want any attention drawn to the sorry state of public education, unless, of course, it is to find a reason to increase their salaries again. And the sad reality is that the public school system is now run for the benefit of the teacher's unions and not the students.
The best solution to the inequality situation is allowing parents to send their children to any school they wish, with the funding following the student. Yes, that would defund some schools—the shitty ones, who either have to get their act together or go under. But the unions want to protect those schools and those teachers at the expense of the children.
And, of course, Egypt
There is really good news in Egypt as well. As you no doubt know the entire Middle East is in turmoil after the Tunisian people successfully rid themselves of their dictatorial government. Then Egypt erupted in similar protests with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in amazingly peaceful demonstrations—in spite of violence being used by the government and their thugs. I was absolutely convinced these would succeed and that Mubarak would be ousted. It took a few days more than I thought it would, but he resigned.
The most recent marches in Egypt, however, were quite interesting. It was the police marching, telling the public they are sorry about how they treated them. I guess they realized that things have changed and they better apologize if they want to have employment, and with Mubarak out of power they aren't working for him anymore. Now, if we can just get the TSA employees to walk off their jobs and apologize to the American people for their groping, fondling, intrusive photos, abrupt and rude manners and flagrant disregard for the humanity of their victims.
More good news out of the Middle East is that the protests are spreading from one Arab dictatorship to another. Contrary to the hysteria pushed by the war lobby and Israeli lobby, a very large percentage of people in Muslim nations actually do want modern government that is democratic and, at the very least, respects a greater amount of individual rights than currently is the case. These sentiments are held down by an alliance between the dictatorial government and the radical Islamists—which in Iran is the same group.
Now hundreds of thousands of people are protesting, yet again, in Iran. The Islamist theocracy there has never been popular. It was put into power as the only real opposition to the tyrannical rule of the US-backed Shah of Iran. Had the US not backed the Shah I doubt that the Ayatollah's would have come to power and the modern Islamists political movement would be much less than what it is today. Truly, US foreign policy has created, as Jonathan Kwitny put it, "Endless Enemies."
Iran has always been one of the most Western Muslim nations in terms of culture. And with most the population being young people, who are not enamored with the moralistic rule of Iran's version of the Republican Party. There has been widespread hatred in Iran for their godly rulers. The one thing that would unify the people behind their government would be US intervention there. That is not likely so there is a chance that this time the people will topple the religious regime that is holding them down.
In many ways American ideals—even those now discarded by our own politicians—and culture still inspire those who seek freedom in other nations. Unfortunately our foreign policy has continually botched up our natural appeal by linking us to oppressive regimes. The US continually backed Mubarak as it backed the Shah of Iran, pushing the oppressed people into the arms of the very groups we say we are working against. American interventionist policy is the biggest boost the Islamic radicals have had. I do think the true sentiments of a large percentage of the Muslim world is what we are seeing in these protests. We could quite possibly be in the first stages of multiple revolutions across the Islamic world that will push them toward modern, liberal values.