Monthly Archives: May 2007

Growing Iraq Refugee Crisis

Last year Sweden accepted 25,000 Iraqi refugees, and over a million others are encamped in Jordan and Syria. There is considerable discussion in the American media concerning terrorism and destabilized conditions existing within Iraq, but few newspapers or television programs focus on the reality that about 15% of Iraq’s prewar population has fled. Unlike most European nations, Sweden accepts about 91% of applications for refugee status.

The unintended consequence of Bush’s war is not merely widespread killings within Iraq, but the departure of at least two million people who are now clustered in refugee camps. There are at least 1.2 million in Syria and 750,000 in Jordan. Numbers, but numbers that fail to tell the entire story. Iraq refugees in Jordan now constitute 15% of the population of that nation. What does the future hold for the refugees?

Despite Arab rhetoric about the plight of Palestinian refugees who fled Israel, few nations have welcomed the refugees and given them economic, social, or political opportunities. The present fighting in Lebanon refugee camps pits one Palestinian faction against another. Arab nations deplore Israel’s refusal to accept the return of refugees, but these same nations will not provide significant opportunities to the refugees in their countries. In one sense, George Bush and Arab nations share one thing in common – both are partially responsible for the plight of refugees, the American invasion has created a catastrophic problem that will plague the Middle East for twenty years unless immediate steps are taken.

At present the United States accepts fewer than 1,000 Iraqi refugees. This figure must be raised to at least 100,000 a year. Remember, we found room for Hungarian refugees in 1956 when Russian troops entered their nation, and for the thousands of Cubans who fled Castro. We can at least open our doors to people who are refugees because of our action. However, we can at least learn from the mistakes of the Palestinian refugees. There must be coordinated economic programs put into action by the European Union and the United States to ensure Iraqi people don’t sink into a refugee mentality. Many of these people are educated and possess skills. Give them economic opportunities and avoid creation of refugee camps that ten years down the pike will become hotbeds of radical terrorists.
Information from Der Spiegel

Poles Struggle With Multiculturalism in England

There are numerous reports in English schools of Polish immigrant children having negative attitudes toward black students. Ania Heasley, who runs an employment center for Polish immigrants is repeatedly asked by immigrants for work or living situations in which they will not have contact with black skinned people.

A high percentage of immigrants from Eastern Europe are coming from rural areas that historically have been deeply prejudiced against Jews and people who are “different.” These rural immigrants are suddenly thrust into a multicultural, post-industrial world in which one must not merely interact with diverse people, but live with them and, perhaps, even wind up marrying them. Most of these immigrants simply do not grasp the multicultural dimensions of modern societies since they bring rural homogeneity with them on the long road toward economic opportunity.

I recall my father, who was raised in rural Russia at the turn of the century, telling me of his first encounter with a dark skinned person. He was on a ship sailing through the Dardanelles when he saw the dark skinned man on another ship. I asked him about his reactions and he said, “When I was a little boy if I did something wrong, my mother would say that far, far away there is a land in which people have black skins, and if you misbehave they will come and eat you. I never really believed such people existed, but, then I saw the man with a black skin.” It may well take a generation before children of these Polish immigrants adjust to the new realities of their lives in England.
Information from Manchester Guardian

Bad Joke:

Question submitted to Manchester Guardian:

Over the past few months I have often seen a lone ant walking across my kitchen table. Would it be the same ant, surviving on his own?

Response from John Belshaw, Nottingham, UK:
Have your told the Home Office? It’s probably an illegal immigr-ant.


Singapore is seeking lawyers due to a severe shortage.
Information from Straits Times

Uganda Abandons Plan to Bulldoze Rainforest

Plans by the Uganda government to convert thousands of acres of rainforest into a palm-oil plantation have been halted due to massive protests both from within and outside Uganda. The Kenyan company Bidco had applied for the land. “We are not interested in a forest reserve,” said Kody Rao, a manager of Bidco. “What we need from the government is land and we are still waiting for that land.”

Among the myths of many multiculturalists is the one about evil western businessmen exploiting virgin forests in Africa and South America. There are plenty of local businessmen seeking to do the bulldozing and they really don’t need American or European business help. The rainforests of Brazil are being destroyed by native Brazilian businessmen and inhabitants forced to flee or work for a pittance. People in the West simply don’t grasp that the power of modernization cuts across ethnic, cultural, and government lines. Avarice is alive and healthy in all parts of the world.
Information from Mail & Guardian, South Africa

China Rethinking Darfur Role

A few days after Amnesty International blasted China for refusing to assist efforts to halt and disarm Janjaweed militias that are wrecking havoc in Darfur, the Chinese government indicated a new willingness to take some positive action. China currently is a major customer for Sudan’s oil exports and is trying to increase flow of oil from that source. But Chinese envoy, Liu Guijin, said his government was prepared to play “a more constructive role in Darfur and to provide more humanitarian and development help for the Darfurian people.”

I suspect there is something behind this new willingness to play a “constructive role.” The reality is that while America is bogged down in Iraq, the Chinese have been actively establishing business and cultural connections all over Africa. But for the Chinese government, the Olympic games of 2008 is among its highest priorities. It hopes the Olympics will bring China into a central role in the world and show off its nation to millions of visitors. There have been recent rumblings by many people connected to the Olympic games concerning possibility of calling for a boycott to protect Chinese inaction in Darfur. The good news is that China will be cooperative for the coming year. After that, I suspect business will resume its role as number one in priorities.
Information from The Guardian, Nigeria

Most Insurgents Not From Iraq

In an intelligence report published last week, an Iraqi officer, General Rashid Fleih, concluded insurgents were being moved into Iraq from Syria where they obtain passports, necessary documents, and phone numbers to call upon arrival.

The Iraqi officer provides no evidence to back up his claim, but for the moment, let’s assume he is providing a valid argument. Ironically, his rather convoluted argument merely supports what Bush critics have been claiming for years – there were no insurgents inside Iraq until the American invasion brought them into the country. Prior to the American invasion of Iraq, the last country to help terrorists function inside that country would have been Syria, which had enough problems on its hands dealing with Lebanon. How is one able to make Bush supporters grasp the point that their mad invasion of Iraq has destabilized that nation as well as the entire Middle East? How is one to make gung-ho backers of Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney ideas that we had to invade Iraq to get rid of WMD, bring democracy, get rid of terrorists, kill them in Iraq before they killed us in America, and carry out God’s commandments was an invitation to terrorism? I suspect in the future, al Qaeda will make George Bush their patron saint because he provided them more supporters and military equipment than anyone else.
Information from Marine Corps Times

Defense Department Prison Policies Ferment Radicalism

Rolan Gunaratna, Director of International Political Violence and Terrorism at the University of Singapore, was asked by the Defense Department to study prison conditions. He concluded that American army prison politics made no sense and the end result was increasing the number of prisoners who became radical. As he put is so succinctly, “In our assessment, many of the detainees were radicalized in those facilities.” He also pointed out that invading Iraq brought al-Qaeda closer to Europe.

Anyone who has studied the history of crime and prisons knows that mixing violent criminals with the ordinary criminal has one logical result – non-violent criminals become more violent. The Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney/Gonzales thesis argues we must place in jail all terrorists whether we know the individual is one or not, because it is better to err on the side of caution. I have repeatedly heard this argument from supporters of Bush and the war in Iraq. There are several basic flaws in this argument including the one raised by Gunaratna, that only a small percentage of people at Guantanamo are violent terrorists, the majority are people who were foot soldiers in the Taliban, innocent villagers who got caught in an American or Afghan army sweep or some idealists who joined up due to hatred of the West. Incarcerating these non-violent individuals with radical Islamists invariably gets them a four-year education in how to become a radical Muslim. In the decision to “err on the side of caution” we have erred on the side of logic. We have provided radical Islamists an incredible opportunity to radicalize those who were not radicals. We also have radicalized them because being thrust into prison for reasons unknown to the individual must result in that person hating those who placed him in prison and moving him further along the road to becoming a full fledged radical.

The Gunaratna study makes even more important the necessity for placing people on trial, discovering who are the innocent, and dealing with radicals who are guilty of something. An increasing problem is uncovering exactly what was the crime of the radical. We are now years removed from a witness offering testimony a jury might believe, assuming the witness is still alive.
Information from National Defense Magazine

Job Prospects Rise for Elderly Australians

A recent study suggests that the Australian government has to reverse policies of early retirement and encourage the elderly to work longer. The study points out that many nations including America, Japan, and the European Union are shifting policies in order to encourage the elderly to continue working or to take up new careers after retiring from their initial occupation. The study noted that employment for those 55-64 in Australia was 26.3% and it should be moved up to at least 50%.

This study is one of many that deal with employment opportunities for the elderly. As a 76 year-old geezer I am particularly fascinated by the topic. On one hand, I hate the idea of ceasing to work, but I am also aware that many men and women spent their lives engaged in hard physical labor that may have impacted their health. I believe in such situations, people who have gone through such physical hardships are entitled to rest, if they so desire. Living in post-industrial society, I am aware how few people with whom I work have ever been compelled to engage in difficult physical labor. I have this tremendous admiration for those who work with their hands at back-breaking occupations, and believe when these people reach their fifties, justice requires they be granted excellent retirement benefits and they should be able to enjoy a life of rest. I suspect many of them are like me, who want to continue working. But, there are also people who are physically broken and they need time off.
Information from The Age, Australia

Figure This One Out:

A study by the World Health Organization concludes that 88% of men and women living in the Cook Islands are overweight. The island now ranks among the three lowest nations in the world of having such a high percentage of obese people. I’m confused. In my fantasies, living in the Cook Islands is being surrounded by trees bearing fruits and there are all sorts of delicious things to eat. I guess my fantasy was formed in an era before western foods hit the islands. I wonder if they have a McDonalds in the Cook Islands. Does anyone know?
Information from Cook Island News