Monthly Archives: October 2007

VA Hospitals Forced To Turn Away Patients!!

Two Tampa Bay veterans hospitals were forced to turn away ill patients because an overloaded system of care for our veterans prevented them from meeting the needs of those who have fought for their country. The James Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa and the Bay Pines VA medical Center in St. Petersburg are two of the busiest VA installations. Since 2000, Bay Pines has turned away patients about 13% of the time. Dr. George Van Buskkirk, chief of staff at Bay Pines, commented: “We’d rather send them out to a place that can take care of them than have them languish on a gurney in the hallway.”

A veteran, Dick Shockey, 77, who was turned away expressed the view, “it doesn’t seem right that a veterans hospital can ever be filled up. But veterans end up with a big surprise.” There is no doubt a crisis exists in America about treatment of veterans and as those who served in Vietnam grow older the crisis will increase. President Bush frequently has charged opponents with failing to “care about our fighting men.” Perhaps, the president might consider how he has failed to care about our veterans. His appointment of cronies to head the VA caused considerable problems which Congress now is attempting to remedy.

Kurds And Turks Battle– In Berlin, That Is!

The simmering conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan erupted not in the mountainous areas of the Turkish-Kurdistan border, but on the streets of Berlin where factions representing each group came to blows. An anti-PKK(Kurdish Workers Party) demonstration degenerated into violence between young Turks and Kurds. By evening, a threatening mass of nationalist Turks had gathered around a Kurdish cultural center. Turkish marchers were waving banners attacking the PKK when they encountered Kurds who expressed their displeasure. “Soon bottles and stones were flying everywhere,” said a policeman resulting in injury to 18 police officers and the arrest of a dozen demonstrators. It appears the conflict on the border of Turkey-Kurdistan is now spilling over to the streets of Europe since thousands of immigrants from those areas are now living in Germany. The police, in particular, blame the “Gray Wolves,” the unofficial arm of what used to be the National Movement Party which was banned in Turkey in the 1960s for their virulent nationalism. Police also noted that as the riot got underway, right wing German nationalist youths entered the fray.

The history of the United States also contains stories of riots between conflicting groups, but one may hypothesize the riots in Berlin go deeper than conflict between groups. They also reflect feelings on the part of many young immigrants from the Middle East that Germany is not their home because of failure to have them integrated within German society.

Stop Whining Arab World, Says Lebanon Daily Star, Move Forward!

In a biting editorial that pulled no punches, editors of the Lebanon Daily Star, said it’s time for the Arab world to cease complaining and assume responsibility for change. As one reviews the Middle East, the situation is a disaster. Egypt is ruled by an autocrat who throws people into jail for questioning his health or plans to install his son as the next leader of the nation, Algeria is again entering a civil war situation that already engulfs Iraq, Turkey is preparing an invasion of Kurdistan, Syria doesn’t know whether to remain in its state of inertia or join the path of economic development, Palestinians are attempting to have a united front in a nation divided into factions, Jordan is overwhelmed by Iraqi refugees, Somalia is in utter chaos and the world is well aware of the Sudan/Darfur disaster. What can be done?

Two recent developments offer signs of moving ahead rather than remaining stuck in the quagmire of anger. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is creating a billion dollar university geared to preparing Saudi Arabians for the 21st century. Religious authorities are banned from the university and women will have equal rights with males on college grounds. The Mohammad bin Rashid al-Mkton Foundation(named after the ruler of Dubai) is creating a $10 project to foster economic development, expand women’s rights, fund research, stimulate scientific education, and move youth into the world in which they must live. As the Daily Star notes: “The idea is to ensure that the next generation can do more than complain about problems.”

Child Adoption Scandal Rocks France And Chad

The French government is attempting to extricate itself from a growing fury in Africa over attempts by French citizens to adopt children from the nation of Chad. The French charity, Zoe’s Ark, was trying to fly 100 children out of the poverty of Chad to new homes in France. President Idris Deby Itno reacted with fury to the operation claiming the French were attempt to “kill them and remove their organs.” Nine French nationals including members of the charity organization, three journalists and Spanish flight crew members face charges of kidnapping. President Niclas Sarkozy telephoned the Chad leader to express his dismay over the botched operation, and said all involved would be subject to French law.Chad is an important link in UN troops fighting in Darfur and serves as transit point for supplies. Zoe’s Ark claims it was attempting to rescue children of Darfur refugees trapped in Chad from the horror of what awaits them in Darfur. France’s opposition leader, Francois Hollande, warned Sarkozy not to allow the Chad president to use this incident as a pretext to cover up his corruption and ineffectiveness by playing up an anti-French line.

This incident raises many questions pertaining to efforts by well meaning people to adopt children trapped in horrible situations. On one hand, the intent is honorable, on the other hand, it places parents in a difficult situation of giving up their children in hope a home far away will save their lives. Perhaps, another alternative is focusing on ways to improve conditions so parents can keep their children. Of course such an approach costs money.

Iran And Syria Back Turkey In Dispute With Iraq

The foreign ministers of Iran and Syria announced their nations were completely behind Turkey in its dispute with Iraq over attacks by Kurdish rebels upon Turkish military forces. “Iran condemns,” said Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, “use of northern Iraqi territory as a launch pad for terrorist operations against Turkey and is fully prepared to combat terrorism any place.” Mottaki and his Syrian counter part, Walid Moualem, both urged Iraq to cease aiding Kurdish rebels. They also confirmed Iran was building a pipeline to transport oil to both Syria and Turkey.

Six years ago, George Bush initiated a war against Iraq that in in his mind would be over in a few weeks and then peace would reign in the Middle East. Little did he realize what a chain of reaction he was setting in place that six years late would witness growing cooperation between Turkey and Iran. Syria, Turkey, and Iran each contain a minority Kurdish population that might be attracted to the idea of an independent Kurdistan. Thus, they share a commonality of interests which compel their nations to cooperate in order to crush the Kurdish Workers Party. Was this possibility ever discussed among Bush foreign policy experts? Did anyone in the Bush/Cheney administration ever grasp the most probable outcome of creating an independent Kurdistan without working closely with Turkey?

Myanmar Activists Use Internet To Fight For Freedom

The new world of Internet activism is being used by Burmese dissidents to fight Burma’s corrupt and oppressive military junta. A Tokyo based group of overseas Burmese belonging to Burma Democratic Union, is drawing upon telephone communication vie cell phones with their comrades in Myanmar to broadcast a true version of conditions in their nation. “This is an editor from ‘Maykha Internet Radio.’ Can I talk to you,?” asked Lay lay, one of the editors who was speaking to a spokesperson for the National League For Democracy in Burma. Each night the program provides interviews inter-mixed with hard news about conditions in their country. Hisao Tanabe, founder of the People’s Forum on Burma operating in Japan, notes how opposition organizations based in Japan are getting out information regarding what really is happening in Myanmar. These groups enable activists still in Burma to communicate reality since the military junta will not allow even the semblance of free press in their nation.

Each day, political leaders are becoming increasingly aware of how the Internet or MySpace or Facebook are altering the scope and function of communication in the 21st century world. It becomes increasingly difficult for governments to cut off communication as alternative sources sprout up throughout the world. Will information disseminated by Burmese activists in Tokyo change what will happen in Burma? Most probably their information will not lead to the overthrow of the junta, but it may cause them to pause in carrying out death and destruction.

Saudi King Claims Blair Knew About London Bombing!

King Abdullah, making the first visit to England in twenty years by a Saudi ruler, created a storm of controversy by claiming he sent information to Prime Minister Tony Blair before the tragic July 7, 2007 bombing in London. “We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain, but unfortunately no action was taken. And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy.” His rather dramatic comment raises questions as to why two years after the event this information is finally seeing the light of day. Some critics believe it is a pre-emptive strike by the Saudi King in order to divert attention from his own failures in extending human rights within the kingdom. Vince Cable, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he would boycott anything to do with King Abdullah due to the human rights failures in Saudi Arabia.

We can expect in the coming years other claims that Blair or Bush ignored warnings about potential terrorist attacks. In some cases, the speaker will be expressing solid information, in others, it may simply be a way to gain attention or, in the case of King Abdullah, to focus attention on British failures rather than his own civil rights record.

Trade-Abandon Right Of Refugee Return For 1967 Borders?

A Palestinian academic, Sari Nusselbeh, proposed that Arabs should consider the possibility of a compromise under which the new Palestinian nation would be given the existing borders of 1967, including east Jerusalem, in exchange for abandoning the right of refugees to return to Palestine. “Today, we have to choose between the two and that’s why we must decide which right we want to give priority to.” He argues the highest priority is gaining independence and creation of a Palestinian state. The president of Al-Quds university believes Abbas might be willing to consider such a compromise.

It is this type of thinking which can move both sides toward negotiation that produces a compromise which does not satisfy all goals of either group, but it leads to peace and further negotiations.

Iraq Leader Defiant-We Will Not Turn Over Kurds!

Iraq Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani defiantly told the world he would not give in to Turkish or American pressure about surrendering leaders of the Kurdish Workers Party. “I will not hand over any person in any regional state no matter what the cost. However, in truth, I will not allow any PKK official to use the Kurdistan region as a base or to be present here and threaten the security of Turkey.” Barzani said he was ready to defend his nation against any action by an outside power, including the United States. His statement came after talks in Ankara ended in a deadlock where Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said, “some of the proposals put forth by the Iraqi delegation were far from meeting our expectations while some were to provide results in the long run. …However, we expect the Iraqis to take immediate action.”

The winds of war grow stronger with each passing rhetorical outburst from the parties involved. The Kurds and Turks are walking gingerly down the road to war and apparently neither side understands how to halt their voyage to chaos and disorder.

Tonyt Blair Unbound-Story Of A Man Who Gave In To Fear

Anthony Seldon, in his new biography of Tony Blair, Blair Unbound, reveals that Colin Powell and Jack, Straw, the former foreign secretary, attempted to control the two leaders from their failed venture in Iraq. Powell told Seldon: “In the end Blair would always support the president. I found this very surprising. I never really understood why Blair seemed to be in such harmony with bush. I thought, well, the Brits haven’t been attacked on 9/11. How did he reach the point that he sees Saddam as such a threat? Jack and I would get him all pumped up about an issue, and he would be ready to say, ‘look here, George,’ but as soon as he saw the president he would lose all the steam.” Seldon claims two of Blair’s senior advisors, David Manning and Baroness Sally Morgan argued against the war. It appears Britain’s ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer also argued against entering the war.

The Seldon book is a sad commentary on the man, Tony Blair, and his failures in leadership. One can only wonder at what might have happened if Tony Blair had taken a decisive step to defend the world against the impulsiveness of George Bush.