Monthly Archives: July 2007

Russia Backs Abbas Over Hamas

President Putin of Russia gave strong support to Palestinian President Abbas in his struggle to assert control over Palestine. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov bluntly said: “We firmly support you as the lawful leader of the entire Palestinian people.” However, Putin quietly let it be known he was willing to talk with Hamas leaders.

I sometimes with Putin was head of the United States. The man is clever and able to juggle several balls in the air without dropping a single one. If Bush threw one in the air he would drop it.

England Set to Give Equal Rights to Unmarried Couples

The Law Commission of the English Parliament is proposing changes which would allow a couple who have been living together for at least two years to obtain the same legal and financial rights as a married couple. The proposed legislation would obviously also apply to gay couples who are cohabiting.

This is a reform long overdue. Millions of couples are living together for one reason or another without getting married. It is about time they could, if they so desire, seek similar rights as those provided married couples. The key point in the proposed legislation is that the couple must desire to have the same rights.

Turkish General Warns Government

General Buyukanit, head of the Turkish army, warned the Muslim led government of the military’s determination to have a secular minded individual in the office of president of Turkey. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Erdogan won a strong majority in parliament last week and he is threatening to have a strong minded Muslim elected as president. A secular minded person has been president of the Muslim nation of Turkey for over 80 years and Erdogan’s threatened action may cause violence in his nation.

In essence, the military is asking the prime minister to avoid a confrontation and nominate someone from his party with good secular credentials to the office of president. Even better, they would prefer if he selected someone outside of his party for the office. If not, who knows what will happen.

US Strong Arms Germany on Iran

US Under Secretary of the Treasury, Stuart Levey, has been wandering around Germany threatening businessmen and bankers to cease having any business or financial ties with Iran or face the consequences. As one banker noted: It is “downright blackmail.” Levey threatens economic retaliation against any German business or bank engaging in trade with Iran.

Several German banks and business people have pointed out their country presently does over $5 billion worth of trade with Iran and ending this would force the firing of German workers. Since the US has no appreciable trade with Iran we lose nothing in ending what doesn’t exist.

An important issue being lost in American strong arm tactics is the future hope for peace in the Middle East. If Germany and other European nations develop trade relations with Iran it provides Iranian leaders a stronger incentive to cooperate and compromise. If all trade ceases, the Iranians will find outlets elsewhere and be less inclined to engage in negotiations.

US Strong Arms Germany on Iran

US Under Secretary of the Treasury, Stuart Levey, has been wandering around Germany threatening businessmen and bankers to cease having any business or financial ties with Iran or face the consequences. As one banker noted: It is “downright blackmail.” Levey threatens economic retaliation against any German business or bank engaging in trade with Iran.

Several German banks and business people have pointed out their country presently does over $5 billion worth of trade with Iran and ending this would force the firing of German workers. Since the US has no appreciable trade with Iran we lose nothing in ending what doesn’t exist.

An important issue being lost in American strong arm tactics is the future hope for peace in the Middle East. If Germany and other European nations develop trade relations with Iran it provides Iranian leaders a stronger incentive to cooperate and compromise. If all trade ceases, the Iranians will find outlets elsewhere and be less inclined to engage in negotiations.

Marines Mishandled

The continuing saga continues of mistreatment of US forces by the Bush administration. From eliminating video conferencing which allowed family members to actually see their loves ones to restrictions of use of the Internet, there has been limited concern for what matters most to our fighting men and women. Of course, the Bush people are not without some interest in Marines, they announced any Marine could get a zero interest loan of up to $500 if they run short before pay day. Of course, the reason for running short may be due to lack of money for their families.

Vacation Time– But Not For US Army

The Iraqi parliament took off on Monday for a month vacation in order to escape Baghdad’s heat. Their prevailing attitude was sitting in summer high temperatures would not be conducive to productive work. As Mahmoud Othman put it: “Even if we sit next month there’s no guarantee important business will be done.” I assume this means important business has been accomplished in the preceding months when it was less hot.

Iraq’s parliament will not return until September 4th, just 11 days prior to the deadline established by President Bush for a report on conditions. It is apparent the Iraqi parliament does not see any urgency in acting decisively in the next month. I often wonder what goes on in the minds of these parliamentarians concerning how Americans view their behavior.

Alberto — The All American Loser

There is something pathetic about Alberto Gonzales in his appearances before Senate committees. He rambles, he is careful about each word spoken and works hard to ensure that not a single word expressed could be construed as constituting anything illegal. He reminds me of a boy caught stealing whose eyes glance carefully at faces of adults questioning him in order to decipher if any of his words could be used against him at some future time. I often get the feeling he is trapped and confused. I suspect he often wonders how he ever got into the current dilemmas of his life.

In a sense, Gonzales is a metaphor for the entire Bush administration. They don’t necessarily commit crimes, but they hover just at the edge of doing something illegal. Some people act immorally without realizing the extent of their failure to adhere to higher ethical standards, but Gonzales and the crew know exactly what they are doing each step along the path of dissembling. I suspect, when alone, they gleefully exchange stories about how they tricked a senator or some prying newspaperman. For them, success is not getting caught rather than avoiding committing illegal or immoral acts.

I have difficulty getting angry at Gonzales. I sometimes wish I could take him aside for a quiet talk and let him know it is OK to admit mistakes and that as a good Christian one must act in accordance to higher laws than those of George Bush. Alberto Gonzales belonged in a small law firm where no one ever assigned him a complex case and simply allowed him to while away the years achieving small successes. I fear he will wind up the scapegoat, and that role eventually will result in him confronting being abandoned by his godfather, George Bush. Gonzales is headed for crucification and one can already hear his plaintive voice on the cross muttering, ‘Oh, George, why have you abandoned me?”

Gay-Lesbian Parade August 11 in Estonia

The nation of Estonia is rapidly moving rapidly to end its traditional hostility toward gays and lesbians. This year several members of the Estonian parliament will march in the August 11 parade in Tallinn. The police have promised to place extra officers on duty to avoid any violence.

This year’s march is in sharp contradiction to previous years in which gangs of hoodlums were verbally and physically abusive to the marchers.

Conflict Continues With Muslim Thais

A large scale series of raids conducted by Thai army and police units arrested over 50 suspected Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand. This area has been the scene for over a year of continual attacks by Muslims who believe themselves to be subjected to discrimination. There is some evidence more and more south Thai Muslims are getting involved in the political process.

The situation in south Thailand is nothing analogous to Iraq, but there is a noticeable difference. In this early stage of rebellion, the Thai government has finally realized the important of involving Muslims in the political process and addressing their issues. Hopefully, this will avoid worse problems down the line.