Monthly Archives: September 2007

Iranian University Heads Denouce Columbia University

Six presidents of universities in iran issued a harsh condemnation of President Lee Bollinger’s words and behavior toward President Ahmadinejad of Iran. “Your insult to president of a country,” they said, “with a population of 70 million and 7000 years of civilization and culture is an academic milieu is shameful.” Professor Kazem Jelai, who is also a member of Iran’s parliament, bluntly stated: “The rhetoric he used was not becoming an academic and a host.” The six presidents posed several questions to America including the following:

1. Why did the United States overthrow the government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953?
2. Why did the United States support Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran even though he had used chemical warfare against his own people?
3. Why doesn’t the United States recognize Hamas which won a democratic election?
4. What about the long term friendship between the Bush family and the Bin Laden family?

President Lee Bollinger won accolades from the American media, but it is doubtful if the world’s media had the same feeling. Bollinger invited a president of a nation and then proceeded to insult the person he invited. Many people in the world regard his behavior as in poor taste. It is doubtful if any American official will respond to questions posed by Iranian academics. That is a sad commentary.

Most Swedes Oppose Muslim Headscarves

Recent polls indicate nearly half of Swedes oppose Muslim women wearing headscarves. In 2005, 43% of Swedes rejected the idea of Muslim women being allowed to wear headscarves in public places like schools or government buildings, today, that figure is 49.8% of respondents. The questionnaire used the word “sloja” which literally means “veil” but apparently most Swedes use the word in referring to any form of head covering. Ironically, only 5% indicated they had negative views toward foreigners although about one-third believed they came to take advantage of Sweden’s social welfare opportunities.There apparently is something about Muslim women wearing head coverings which upsets many people in western nations. Why the passion about this relatively unimportant aspect of attire?

Pollution Cure Worse Than What Is Happening!

A team of researchers led by Nobel prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen discovered that biofuels emit up to 70% more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. They calculated emissions released by the growth or burning of such crops as maize and sugar cane to produce biofuels releases twice as much nitrous oxide(N20) as previously thought. They estimate 3%-5% of nitrogen in fertilizer is converted and emitted rather than previously thought 2%. Professor Keith Smith of the University of Edinburgh commented: “One wants rational decisions rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon because superficially something appears to reduce emissions.”There is also the factor as corn is turned into fuel prices rise causing poor people to suffer. We have to continue investigating ways to reduce greenhouse emissions without using biofuels.

Is The Taliban The Taliban?

Fighting continues in Afghanistan as coalition and Afghan forces clash with elements of the Taliban. Yesterday, in two separate fights, Coalition and Afghan forces called in air strikes which resulted in the death of 165 “supposed members of the Taliban.” We use quotation marks because most of the people killed who coalition forces claimed were members of the Taliban were killed by bombs dropped by planes. Karim Khan, who lived in one of the villages in which the Taliban were killed, claimed coalition and Afghan forces entered the village and “arrested innocent villagers from three homes and called them Taliban.”The Vietnam War taught many Americans how difficult it was to identify people killed by high flying bombers. A plane traveling hundreds of miles an hour drops bombs on individuals who someone on the ground identifies as the enemy. Of course, the Taliban frequently place themselves within a village to confuse coalition and Afghan forces. There is little doubt innocent civilians are killed and their deaths are placed in the category of “dead Taliban.”

Turkish Higher Education Leaders Seek Compromise

The Chair of Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YOK), Erdogan Tezic, met with President Gul in an effort to have proposed changes in the nation’s constitution include the ideas of many divergent voices. Tezic had quarreled with Prime Minister Erdogan about proposed changes which would end the ban on women wearing a headscarf and was told to mind his own business. Tezic urged President Gul to slow down the process and reach out to other voices in order to lessen the acrimonious atmosphere which is developing from bits and pieces of changes being disseminated to the public.Turkish higher education leaders are approaching a rather volatile situation in the correct calm manner. A constitution should not be changed by a single party, particularly one that only received 47% of the vote. There is need to make changes reflect consensus views if they are to avoid dividing the Turkish population.

Israel Moves Closer To Gaza Invasion

As dozens of Hamas inspired rockets fell on Israel soil, the Israel Defense Force, responded by firing missiles that killed at least four terrorists. They also fired shells which killed some innocent civilians. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak, hinted there might soon be a large scale attack on Islamic forces who are firing rockets. “We are moving closer,” he said, “to a broad and complex operation in Gaza.” It appears the Army of Islam has been firing the rockets without any real effort by Hamas to curtail such action.

At some point, Arab leaders have to cut off financial assistance to Hamas unless it agrees to halt rocket attacks. It is all well and good to hold a peace conference, but if rockets continue falling on Israel there will be a military response that most probably will result in the deaths of innocent Arabs.

Burma Military Junta Fires On Monks

Thousands of monks and nuns walked the streets of Rangoon and other Burmese cities in defiance of demands by the military junta which runs the country for them to cease their march. Reports indicate soldiers began firing on monks and reportedly killed at least five and wounded over a dozen. Unconfirmed reports indicate more than 300 monks were arrested by soldiers. Over 30,000 people have been marching with the monks and nuns to express their desire for a free Myanmar, but the thugs who run the country do not appear inclined to allow democracy to blossom. The military controls all weapons, and monks control the hearts of ordinary citizens.

Now is the time for nations to insist China use its leverage to force peace and cooperation between the military an citizens of Myanmar. The military junta depends on trade with China and would be impacted by a Chinese embargo. How about the world telling China to exert pressure or face a boycott of the 2008 Olympics!

China’s Three Gorges Dam An Enviroment Catastrophe

China’s construction of the Three Gorges Dam was hailed as an amazing feat in construction of dams even though millions of people were displaced due to the construction. New evidence now indicates in addition to the human cost of building the dam, there are new environmental problems. The sheer weight of water behind the dam has led to over 90 examples of the shoreline collapsing leading to landslides. The dam is also generating waves which have flooded areas near the shoreline.

China is embarked on a huge economic development which is pushing the nation into a modern economy. Coinciding with this economic push is increased pollution that has made China among the worst offenders in the world. Of course, America leads the world in emitting carbon into the atmosphere, but China is fast catching up in the pollution race.

Russian Hate Crimes Finally Punished

An ongoing legacy of the authoritarian ethnocentrism policies of the Putin administration is fostering hate crimes in Russia. Africans, Armenians, and members of other ethnic groups who come to large cities like Moscow encounter discrimination, hatred, and even death. A few months ago, a jury in the Moscow Region Court found a man innocent of murder even though witnesses saw him take out a knife on a crowded commuter train and shout, “Glory to Russia” as he plunged a knife into the heart of Artur Sardayan, an Armenian. A man prior to this trial another man was found innocent of killing an Armenian on a crowded metro station. Finally, the Russian Supreme Court threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial that hopefully will conclude in a conviction.

There is always a penalty when a nation is led by a man who considers himself an all-powerful ruler who is above the law. In Russia, Putin has projected this image while slowly dismantling democratic values. This has led to an increasing number of hate crimes.

Nigerian Senate Blasts US Congress

The Nigerian Senate reacted with anger toward passage in the United States Congress of a bill that would allow the American government to sue members of OPEC on grounds they were a monopoly that fixed prices. Many American legislators believe OPEC limits production and arranges prices to suit their own needs rather than allow free market factors to determine prices. A Nigerian senator accused Americans of having a “neo-colonialist” attitude” which makes them regard their interests as the only significant ones in the world.

There is scant doubt OPEC fixes prices, but that is a decision made by oil producers. America may not like their decision to fix prices, but we have no right to enforce our values or interests upon the world.