Monthly Archives: January 2008

Sudan Seeks To Chair African Union

The government of the Sudan is making its third attempt to chair the African Union and has indicated it will be upset if this third bid is denied. Its previous attempts were thwarted due to concerns over its human rights record of encouraging death and destruction in Darfur. A Sudan official commented: “It is obviously our turn to chair the AU. The situation in Darfur has improved so there are no more obstalces to that.”

Perhaps, the improvement to which the Sudan official refers is that janjaweed murderers are running out of people to murder since they have driven over 2.5 million out of Darfur. The African Union has ignored the disaster in Zimbabwe, it has done relatively little to handle the blatant stealing of an election in Kenya, so chances are at some point it will accept the thugs from the Sudan as its chair. A Sudan chair of the African Union sends a message to all Africans fighting for human rights– the wrong message.

After Surge — What Next America?

William H. McMichael, writing in the Army Times, argues

Geneeral Petraeus will be recommending some sort of reduction whether in troop size or length of deployment. Many observers doubt if there can be a significant reduction in troop size within the coming year because a new upsurge in militant action would be disastrous for any Republican candidate for the presidency. If troops are withdrawn and violence escalates, is there a plan regarding how to handle such a situation?

George Bush has been a master at getting America involved in war and conflict. So far, there is no evidence he has the slightest idea how to extricate America from the problems he creates by blindly following his gut reactions about danger. There is no question it will take years before Iraqi forces can control their nation and defeat any militant outbreaks.
Will the next American president be prepared to continue large scale troop deployment for years to come?

Iran Rhetoric Escalates

Iran’s top military commander, General Mohammad Ali Jaafari, who heads the Revolutionarty Guards, warned of of retaliation against American military bases in the Gulf region which are located in Arab nations. He told Al-Jazeera that if Iran is attacked it is our “natural right to respond” and it will happen. He admitted such an attack would have serious consequences for Arabs since there are American bases on their terrritory. Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mottaki, warned the UN Security Council of “serious and l ogical consequences” if new sanctions are imposed. He promised to reveal the nature of those consequnces in the coming days.

A proud nation like Iran is almost psychologically required to demonstrate a sense of being able to handle any situation. Unfortunately, Iran’s leaders sometimes do not realize their nation lacks the military capacity to handle modern attacks by heavily armed adversaries. The only nation which has invaded Iran in recent times was Saddam Hussein’s army. American military weapons are somewhat more sophisticated than those of Saddam’s forces. It is time to tone down the rhetoric of defiance and be defiant in a quieter tone of voice.

Soldiers From Minorities In Britain Urged

A report from the Defence Select Committee of Parliament strongly suggested the importance of extending recruitment efforts in Great Britain in order to bring members of min ority groups into the armed forces. The committee noted: “We are deeply concerned that the armed forces are operating at or above levels of concurrent operations they are resourced and structured to deliver for seven out of the last eight years.” In other words, the British miltary is being asked to accomplish tasks that strain their resources and morale among members of the military is decreasing under the strain.

The British government has concluded that when it ventures into tasks that far exceed the capacity of those coming from majority groups within society, the solution is to reach out to minorities and have them fill the gap. The goal has been to have an 8% recruitment level from minorities in Great Britain but only 5.8% are from this group and the Air Force only has 1.6% from minority groups. Perhaps, the solution is to not get involved in military operations in the first place.

McSchool Is The Solution To Education Problems

The McDonald corporation has come to the needs of people who seek fast but poor food in order to meet their nutritional needs, and now the good people of that organization are preparing a fast schooling menu. Along with two other large corporations, McDonalds has been given the power by the British Education Ministry of awarding the equivalent of high school qualifications as part of a plan to improve young people’s skills. It is the first time the government has grantd national recognition to corporate training schemes. But, universities and colleges will have to decide if they wish to accept the corporate qualifications for admission purposes.

McDonalds has been impowered o develop courses and set exams for standard A levels of achievement. The corporation said it is establishing a “basic shift manager” course, designed to train staff in skills needed to run a McDonald’s outlet. Corporate officials stated: “this is an important step towards ending the old divisions between company training schemes and national qualifications, something that will benefit employees, employers and the country as a whole.”

Why not take the entire process one more step and simply turn over schools to McDonalds? They can speed up the process of education and ensure some sort of quality control. After all, they have speeded up eating, there is no reason why the can not speed up learning. I wonder if there is any room in the McDonalds scheme for displaced teachers. I am certain they can learn to make hamburgers as they teach students math and science and history.

Turkish Immigrants Can Impact German Election

Voters in the German state of Hesse are voting after a campaign that was highlighted by vicious attacks against Turkish immigrants. Sparked by the virulent anti-immigrant rantings of Roland Koch, the electorate has been told all problems in Hesse are the result of the presence of young Turkish immigrants who commit crimes and cause fear among people. There are about one million immigrants in Hesse and at least 250,000 are Turks. It is estimated 40,000 Turks have obtained the right to vote and they undoubtely will support candidates who oppose the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Koch.

Perhaps, it is time for Turkish immigrants to Germany to learn the lesson that immigrants to America grasped over a hundred years ago. Register to vote, get involved in politics, run people from your group for public office and gain electoral clout that forces those in authority to listen to your concerns. Immigrants who stand on the side and refuse to engage in political action only damage their own interests. Vote and the Roland Kochs of Germany will be silenced.

Israel To Blame For Gaza, Says Arab League

An ongoing problem in any discussion of the Palestinian-israel conflict is the tremendous need on the part of both sides to blame the other as the sole source of problems. Arab League foreign ministers said Israel was fully responsible for the deterioration in the Gaza Strip and demanded the jewish state lift the blockade immediately and allow humanitarian suppies to enter. They issued a statement insisting Israel “stop all continued aggressions against the civilians and end the blockade and collective punishment policy.” Even as the foreign ministers issued their statement, Egyptian troops were stringing up a wire fence to prevent Gazans from leaving and entering Egypt.

Israel has made numerous mistakes ranging from refusing to engage in discussions with Hamas without insisting on preconditions, it has repeatedly utilized a program of killing leaders on the assumption this would end violence, and its policy of collective punishment is hardly in accord with international policies of warfare. On the other hand, Hamas has refused to budge an inch in its policy of refusing to recognize Israel, it has ended any cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and it has refused to halt Kassam rockets. All sides are at fault and attempting to cast blame on one nation may result in feelings of righteousness, but this is not the road to peace. Until each side can accept responsibillity for its mistakes there will be no peace in the Middle East.

Pakistan Militants Seize Children-Release Them

The situation in Pakistan continues getting more complex as gunmen are now trying to get school children involved in adult disputes. A group of militants took up to 250 Pakistani school children hostage in a northwestern town, but freed them within twenty-four hours. It appears tribal elders interceded in order to remove children from the line of fire that now exists between militants and the government of Pakistan. The militants surrendered to the jirga– a council of elders. Earlier accounts by the government said militants were responsible but it is now unclear as to the intent of the men who took hostages. The entire episode began when police were chasing militants who had kidnapped a government official.

Fortunately, this episode does not replicate the terrible deaths of Russian children who were caught in the cross fire between government and rebel forces. It appears the power of the jirga has not been completely utilized since tribal elders do have influence over what happens in their country.

Tyrant Dies–Indonesia Mourns!

Former Indonesian president Soeharto died and the nation went into mourning. The current Indonesdian government declared seven days of mourning in which to recall a man who was described as “our best citizen.” As dictator of Indonesia, Soeharto killed hundreds of thousands of people in the 1960s during what was alleged to be a “communist plot.” Bedjo Untung, chairman of the 1965 Murder Victims Research Fooundation said in a press conference: “I will nevere do that(hoist the flag at half mast) for a big violator of human rights like Soeharto.” Bedjo said he was active in student affairs in 1965 and was sent to jail where he was tortured. Johan Pakasi, a resacher of the 1965 tragedy, said any attempt to make Soeharto a national hero should be rejeced. “There were more than three million people killed between 1965 and 1996 and mass graves can be found on any island in Indonesia.”

What next– a holiday for Hitler?

D’EU Want A Divorce In Sweden?

Sweden moved to block European Union plans to stop divorcing couples from fighting over which EU cout that would legally settle their separation process. EU Justice Mnister Franco Frattini said it was “mainly Sweden opposing” the move out of concern that the laws of other nation would not provide the same protection to the most vulnerable partners in a divorce proceeding. Residents of the EU literally can shop around to find the most appropriate court for their divorce. Sweden expedites the process while other EU nations require a longer amount of time and Malta does not even allow a divorce. The Swedish government is particularly concerned over the rights of gay couples since many EU nations do not recognize such unions.

As people increasingly marry across EU boundaries it becomes more complex as to which nation has jurisdiction over a divorce or can an individual select from among the EU members in order to obtain the best setting for a divorce. Welcome to the world of marriage in the 21st century.