Monthly Archives: December 2007

UNICEF Photo Of Year!

The UNICEF Photo Of The Year depicts an 11 year-old girl sitting quietly next to a 40 year old bearded man who is her fiance. We gaze at the picture for a moment, sigh, and then go on with our lives oblivious as to its meaning for each individual. The man will shortly be raping this girl after what purports to be a wedding ceremony because he is carrying out his cultural mores and values. The girl will be impregnated without love and he will never regard his actions as violent or disrespectful. The parents of the girl sold her because they “needed the money” and after all, “our men don’t need educated women,” they simply need girls who can bear children, hopefully, males.

Leon de Winter, a Dutch writer expressed the feelings many share. “I believe there are regressive cultures. In an era of political correctness, this is a tricky statement. But, there is no other statement that can be made about this image. We behold a regressive man who is taking what he has purchased.”

Kurdish Rebels Ready To End Insurgency-Amnesty Is Issue

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani claimed members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) were prepared to lay down their arms if the Turkish government promised a pardon and the right to return home to Turkey. As of this point, the Turkish government has only indicated a willingness to grant pardons to anyone who can prove he was not involved in violent actions against civilians or the Turkish military. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey told members of Parliament there were no plans on the part of his administration to grant pardons to Kurds who engaged in military action. President Talabani, who is a Kurd, noted, “the PKK says it will lay down arms if amnesty ensures that PKK members will return home safely. They say they are ready to hand over their guns to the US forces and even to the Iraqis provided that there is such an amnesty.” Talabani emphasized the alternative to an amnesty was continued fighting in mountainous areas. His support for amnesty diverted from the view of Massoud Barzani, leader of Kurdistan who is infuriated at Turkish air assaults on his territory and regarded them as an act of war which is killing innocent civilians.

At some point, the Turkish government has to confront a choice that many others have faced in attempting to end civil conflict– grant an amnesty and use the new opportunity to end issues that created the conflict. The British government in North Ireland worked with former terrorists to achieve peace. Prime Minister Erdogan has to grant amnesty and work with returned Kurdish rebels to provide work and education opportunities.

Israel E. Jerusalem Housing Creates Conflict

The Israel government is undertaking construction of about 304 new apartments in East Jerusalem as its prime minister prepares for meetings with Palestinians to discuss peace. President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear there would be serious difficulties in conducting peace if settlement construction continues in East Jerusalem. A Fatah spokesperson, Abu Rdeneh bluntly stated: “there is need to freeze the settlement activities in order to create the appropriate atmosphere to bring progress in the peace process.” President Mubarak joined in the Arab cry for an end to settlement construction and focusing on the only thing that emerged from the famous Annapolis conference– peace talks. Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni sharply criticized the Egyptian effort to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and in response, Egypt’s Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman promised his country would take renewed steps to halt smuggling.

There is a time and place for everything, and right now constructing 304 apartments is the wrong move. Some Israelis, undoubtedly, will argue the point of a principle that Israel has a right to build. The only important principle right now is working for a comprehensive peace, not worrying about a few apartments. In the end, Israel must recognize that East Jerusalem should become the capital of the new nation of Palestine. Israelis have every right to express concerns given the past history when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem and desecrated Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. Hopefully, that era is over and when peace arrives all religious institutions will be accorded respect. Right now, Israel must focus on peace, not apartments.

Rudy Giuliani-No Christmas In New York Time

Rudy Giuliani continues insisting recent illness has nothing to do with his earlier history of getting through cancer, but rumors are flying and they are not all birds of cheer. Although, Giuliani is ahead in 13 states whose combined delegate total is 758 delegates, it is now clear the former New York mayor will not reach the convention floor as the overwhelming favorite of the convention. Huckabee, inadvertently is helping Giuliani, by apparently defeating Romney in Iowa and South Carolina which should eventually result in him garnering about 170 delegates. Romney appears to be headed toward at least 112 while McCain and Thompson will probably obtain fewer than a hundred for their efforts.

The real story of this Republican race is the reality no single current candidate will emerge with a majority of delegates. This will be the first time in decades that such a situation has arisen. Once the Republican convention begins, talk will slowly develop about a compromise candidate whose name has yet to appear among those running. Will it be a Jeb Bush? Will it be a dark horse whose name is hidden somewhere among Republican governors? Unfortunately, for the Republican Party, the movie star governor of California is ineligible to run for the presidency. Who knows, maybe they will trot out Independent Joe Lieberman and let him have a shot. He certainly acts like a Republican.

Westerm Diplomats Expelled From Afghanistan

Two senior Western diplomats were given 48 hours to leave Afghanistan because they attempted negotiating with anti-government leaders in Helmand province. Michael Semple, head of the EU mission in Afghanistan and Mervin Patterson, a high level UN official were accused of threatening Afghanistan’s national security because they were “involved in some activities that were not their jobs.” The two men allegedly offered aid and development incentives to tribal elders in the Taliban heartlands. Their goal was working with tribal leaders and even members of the Taliban to seek a solution that would end violence and lead to improved cooperation between the government and its opponents. The diplomats met with government officials and tribal commanders in a Taliban dominated area. At least one important leader in Musa Qala agreed to cease supporting the Taliban.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been urging a re-evaluation of Afghan policy which would entail attempting to bring some members of the Taliban into the government. Other British officials have even urged drastic steps like purchasing the entire poppy crop in order to wean farmers away from the Taliban. The bottom line is present strategy simply isn’t working six years after the war in Afghanistan began.

No News– Quiet Christmas In Indonesia!

The American press which readily reports examples of hatred and violence on the part of Muslims did not report the quiet events that transpired in Indonesia this Christmas. There was not a single anti-Christian incident in the most populous Muslim nation in the world except for a single bomb hoax. jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo made it a point to spend Christmas eve visiting various Christian churches and he dispatched 17,690 police to guard them against any possible violence. “I got the impression,” he said, “that Christians are celebrating Christmas this year more freely and happily. they don’t feel threatened anymore.” He also urged the people of Indonesia to “build a city for everyone” and “set aside all the discriminating manner in ourselves.” The governor was extremely proud that several Islamic groups provided security around Christian churches.

The unreported news about Christian-Muslim relations is that in many nations like Indonesia, the government protects freedom of religion. Unfortunately, in nations the American government supports like Saudi Arabia, the very concept of freedom of religion is banned. If a Muslim terrorist kills Christians, it is on the front pages of the American press, but a peaceful Indonesian Christmas will never appear on right wing anti-Muslim programs like those of Rush Limbaugh.

Middle Class Rising In China-Headed Toward 100 Million

China has witnessed a phenomenal growth in its middle class as the economic boom continues to fast forward their nation. A recent study defines the middle class as containing those who make $7,500–$25,000. About 20% of people in this income bracket attribute social connections and networking as among the most important factors enabling an individual to move upward into the middle class wile only 15% attribute this change due to hard work. A significant number recognize the importance of eduction as being the foundation of a successful economic life. A majority of those surveyed wanted a home, a car and a good income and expected these to become more readily available as the economy continues to advance. The poll concluded the number of people in China who are middle class will reach 100,000,000 by 2016.

Of course, if there are 100,000,000 middle class people in China by 2016, where does that leave the other billion people? Ironically, as Communist China has unleashed the tiger of economic development, it has abandoned free medical care and allowed large sections of the nation to lag behind in education.

Kosovo Independence Creates Crisis In Europe

The desire for the Serbian province of Kosovo to become an independent nation became even stronger as an election drew near which would enable the people of Kosovo to make that decision. There is little doubt since Kosovo is 90% Muslim Albanian it will vote for independence from Christian Serbia which killed thousands during its drive to crush opposition in Kosovo to Serbian Christian rule. An election in Serbia also is caught in the middle of the conflict. Pro-Western Prime Minister Boris Tadic is pushing hard for membership in the European Union which is supported by 69% of all Serbians. His opponent, Tomislav Vikolic, who leads ultranationalist forces in Serbia that are ready to oppose Kosovo independence, is arguing for placing the unity of Serbia over the desire for EU membership.

Too much blood has past under the bridge for the Muslim people of Kosovo to ever again seek to be members of the same country with Serbians who killed thousands during their drive to impose Serbia’s will upon all sectors of the former nation of Yugoslavia. It is time for Kosovo to go its separate path. It might be beneficial if the European Union relaxed some demands on Serbia and expedited its application for membership in the EU.

Israel Seeks Talks On Peace With Syria

Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Syria’s President Bashar Assad that “a lot has changed i relations between Israel and Syria” and seeks to begin negotiations that would lead to peace between the two nations. Olmert told visiting US Senator Arlen Spector who is on his way to Syria to “Tell Assad I await an answer from him regarding the dynamic message I have conveyed to him regarding negotiations.” It is apparent Israel seeks to resolve its differences with Syria even as a recent poll indicated excessive pessimism pervades Mideast people. However, the Harry Truman Institute in Jerusalem found in a poll that 53% of Israelis still support peace proposals advocated by former President Clinton while 47% of Palestinians have a similar viewpoint.

The fact such a large percent of people on both sides still cling to the Clinton proposals indicate a strong desire for peace. These figures also demonstrate another failure on the part of George Bush, he refused to build on the work of Clinton because Bush felt this only helped Democrats. For George Bush, politics is always the most important facet of diplomacy.

Dutch Firework Ads Explode Muslim Anger

A group of Iraq types dressed and talking like terrorists sit around a new shipment which they assume are more explosives. But, the shipment contains fireworks and a leader who looks like Osama bin Laden is gleeful at the arrival of fireworks and has members of the group put on suicide vests containing fireworks as they say strongly to the TV camera the effort they are prepared to undertake, “demonstrates to you our true power by blowing ourselves up.” A harmless spoof on suicide bombing? A harmless spoof on being careful when using fireworks? The ad was designed for a Dutch consumer group that wanted viewers to be concerned about using fireworks in a harmful manner. Most Dutch Muslim groups were infuriated at the negative image projected about Muslims, but to the ad group, it was all harmless fun. In fact, their view was echoed by Inalayat Bunglawala of the British Muslim Council who said: “I thought they were very humorous public safety films.”

Satire is a powerful weapon in changing minds, but there also must be consideration of when and how it is used on public television. A Broadway play, “The Producers,” spoofs Nazi Germany, but the overall sense of the performance in no way casts any negative image on Jews. These ads may be spoofs, but they also create a negative image of Dutch Muslims. This crosses the line of decency and respect for human dignity.