Home > Uncategorized > “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

I have a confession to make: like most people in Washington, I too have a Google alert set for my name. I admit it’s a bit arrogant, but I like seeing where my name ends up.

And there have been some famously ridiculous and outrageous postings.

But this one is a real kick, and more proof that facts are irrelevant in internet media. According to the geniuses at The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – the current ruling political movement in Eritrea – I am a paid lobbyist of the Ethiopian government.

WOOHOO! More money I didn’t know about! I just wish someone would give me the account numbers to access all this cash!

The article is an attempt on the part of the Eritrean government – sanctioned by the United States as a severe violator of religious liberty and by the United Nations Security Council for its support of Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab the Islamist insurgency group in Somalia attempting to overthrow the government. A previous posting goes into some detail about the horrific human rights record of the Eritrean government and what is in essence a dictatorship by President Isaias Afworki.

Here is the section about me in the post:

Speaking of dictators and blood money, it should be recalled that Joseph Grieboski, a known associate of the minority regime in Ethiopia and a benefactor, to the tune of $250,000 from the US State Department was the author of the outlandish 8 December 2008 report “Iran deploys Troops, Ballistic Missiles to Eritrea”, posted on The Cutting Edge (Mark Saylor and Co.). That story was spun by various Israeli news sites and more. Just days before he authored that piece, Grieboski played host to various Ethiopian officials, including Meles Zenawi’s wife and the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States. He is also the same Joseph Griebosky, founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy who wrote the following letter on behalf of the genocidal minority regime in Ethiopia…

First off, nice to see the Government of Eritrea can’t spell my name right. In the same paragraph nonetheless.

Second, neither I nor THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy has ever received State Department funding, let alone $250,000. THE INSTITUTE’s 990 will show that we have never received funding from the government of the United States, or any other sovereign government, in keeping with our policy of taking no funds from any religion or government.

Third, Mark Saylor has nothing to do with The Cutting Edge News. It is edited by award-winning journalist Edwin Black and is a free service. Each of the editors and contributors is unpaid for their work.

Fourth, I have never met Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s wife, Azeb Mesfin. She was invited to address the 2008 Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom, but was unable to attend at the last minute due to a vote in parliament.

When I was president of THE INSTITUTE, we did host an off-the-record roundtable with Ethiopian President Girma Woldegiorgis in 2007. That meeting included religious leaders, religious and human rights activists, and others who asked some very strong questions of the president.

The Eritrean Government did get one thing right in the section referring to me: as President of THE INSTITUTE, I did oppose H.R.2003, Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007, on security grounds. And I did send a letter to House and Senate leaders opposing the bill.

I wish the Eritrean Government luck in its public relations campaign. They need all the help they can get. If they have to use fabrications like the State Department funds, incorrect information like my hosting the Prime Minister’s wife, I don’t blame them.

It’s tough to take the attention off the facts on the ground in Eritrea: detention of religious believers in boxes with no holes, food, or restroom facilities; systematic abuse of religious leaders and believers; the kidnapping of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church.

The opening paragraph of Human Rights Watch’s 2009 report on Eritrea says it all:

Eritrea remains a country in shackles. Arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, extrajudicial killings, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and worship, and forced labor are routine. Despite government efforts to veil abuses from scrutiny, Eritrean refugees provided consistent firsthand accounts of widespread abuses. Thousands of people fled the country in 2009 due to Eritrea’s serious human rights violations and indefinite military conscription.

Given the reality of life in Eritrea, it makes sense why the government has to concoct fantasy.

*A very grateful thanks to Albert Einstein for the title of this piece.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sophia Tesfamariam
    January 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Not in the habit of making statements that are cannot be substantiated-will respond to you in more detail on my own site…

    OMB Home
    White House Website

    Agency: Department of State
    Bureau: Administration of Foreign Affairs
    Account: Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs (19-0209)
    Certifying Official: Director, Resource Strategy & Liaison
    Contact Information: http://WWW.STATE.GOV 202-647-9606

    Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom

    1 recipient will receive $250,000. This is a first-time earmark. Year Enacted: 2005
    Code: n/a
    Description: Funding for the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom which is composed of members of national and supranational parliaments from around the globe. IPC allows members of parliaments to meet and address the issues of human rights and freedom of conscience with common understanding.

    Beneficiary/Recipient Amount ($K) Program Type Address
    Institute on Religion and Public Policy $250 Non-Profit 1620 I Street NW
    Suite LL10
    Washington, DC

    Citation
    Source: Appropriations Report Language – Conference
    Reference: PL 108-447/H.REPT 108-792
    Method: User entered excerpt
    Citation Excerpt: pg 826:’listed on table but no narrative

    Last Modified: 10-Jul-2007

    • January 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      What you pasted as a comment is an earmark request. An earmark request does not mean the earmark was filled or that the “recipient” was actually given any funds.

      In this case, we made a request for funds to carry out the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom. However, we never received a grant or the earmark from the State Department. It was denied by the Department. After that, we only once submitted another request for a grant from the State Department in response to a RFP in 2008. That grant request was also denied by the Department.

      But thank you for giving a concrete example to my title for this post…

  2. Sophia Tesfamariam
    January 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

    It says recipient received…anyway, I will be presenting a more detailed portfolio of your activities…you are nto fooling anyone but yourself. As for Eritrea, stick to the little you know…it’s Islamphobic guys like you that have misled the American people and created the hell that is the Middle East today. Stay out of Africa…

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