Monthly Archives: April 2008

Israel Urged To Confront West Bank Economic Issues

Israel is coming under extednsive pressure from the world community to implement new policies governing the daily lives of Muslim inhabitants of the West Bank. President Bush is expected in Israel within a few weeks, and nations are suggesting Israel might strengthen his ability to impact blocked Israel and Palestinian negoatiations if there was a significant effort to revitalize the West Bank economy. A new report from the World Bank reported zero growth in 2007 for the West Bank and blamed as a contribution factor “effects of the closures and movement restrictions.” The report noted the almost complete collapse of the West Bank economy was dramatically impacted by the growth in checkpoints. Even Tony Blair has recommended action on this key issue.

There is growing support among the International Quartet of nations to designate areas of the West Bank in which Palestinian forces would be trained to assume responsibility for ensuring safety and peace. One possible location is the northern West Bank city of Jenin in which 700 Palestinian security forces have been trained by American and Jordan supervisors.

On one hand, Israel complains about security issues, on the other hand, it refuses to sanction any experiments in which Palestinians assume responsibility for maintaining law and order. Unless experiments are attempted the present stalemate will continue into the forseeable future and at some point the Abbas government will be forced to resort to militant action. Of course, at that point, Israel will blame Palestinians and never assume responsibility for its own lack of action as a cause of militancy.

Gay Bishop Rips Archbishop Of Canterbury Silence

Gene Robinson, an American gay bishop, accused Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury of remaining silent in the face of attacks upon gays and lesbian members of the church. “God is very disappointed,” says Robinson, at the failure of Williams to confront critics within the church who viciously condemn gays. Robnson was asked why Williams will not speak out against figures like Peter Akinola, the virulent anti-gay leader of the Nigerian church. “You would have to ask him,” responded Robinson, “I think he will have to answer to God about that.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been supportive of efforts by Muslim clerics to impose Sharia law in Great Britain, but, apparently, lacks the courage to confront anti-gay elements within his own church.

Not only is God disapponted in Williams, so are thousands of his own parishoners. And, unlike God, they can vote with their feet to leave the church.

Is There Russophobia In America And The West?

In the April 8th issue of the Moscow Times, a column appeared by Alexander Golts which raised the issue as to whether there is a Russiaphobia alive in America and elsewhere. The Moscow Times printed several responses to the column. We believe the comments should be noted since we discussed the issue a few weeks ago.

“Living in the United States for over 50 yers, I can confirm that very few positive comments are published in the mainstream media. The only difference is the name of the country has been changed–instead of the Soviet Union, the U.S. media now uses Russia, but the main message remains the same: Russia is always presented as an enemy. Several days ago, U.S. Senator John McCain lambasted Putin to a group of veterans and received a standing ovation. McCain is the fllow, along with some other neocons who would like to bomb Iran.”
Sergei Loutch, Kingwood, Texas

“I believe Russia’s actions in Georgia are a measured response to a decades long U.S. policy of meddling in the Balkans. The latest example of supporting independence for Kosovo is a flagrant violation of international law by dismembering Serbia.”
Anthony Chernuscheko, Ottawa

“It comes down to what questions Americans are asked. They don’t know what’s going on in the next state, let alone the rest of the world….There are so many important events going on in in the United States that Americans can’t be bothered with what is happening abroad.”
Patrick Chimes, Houston, Texas

Muslim Terrorist Camp Overrun In Phlppines

The fight against terrorism in the world is so dominated by Iraq or Afghanistan that many areas which have long been engaged in such conflicts are virtually ignored by the media. The Philippine government has been fighting Muslim terrorism in southern regions of their nation for over twenty years with limited success. A few days ago, Filipino troops over ran a camp of the Abu Syyaf mllitants and destroyed bomb making facilities as part of a battle with over 200 of the enemy forces. Filipino Marine General Juancho Sabban believes his assault thwarted a major effort aimed at inflicting massive damage to his nation.

The Abu Sayyaf is currently reported to have about 380 members which is about one-third of the number it once had as followers. They have been constantly attacked by Filipino forces who have most probably prevented large scale attacks. Perhaps, the time is now for Filipino leaders to attempt a political solution by making strenuous efforts to deal with issues of poverty and power among Muslim inhabitants of the southern regions of their nation.,

Maines Fighting in Afghanistan

Hundreds of Marines who have previously fought in Iraq, took part in an assault on Taliban positions in southern Afghanistan. This was the first major action for the 2,300 Marines who arrived in Afghanistan the past few weeks. US military officials said the Taliban had been expecting an assault and had planted homemade bombs. Marines and militants exchanged gunfire and Major Tom Clinton noted: “We haven’t seen anybody who isn’t carrying a gun. They’re trying to figure out what we’re doing. They’re shooting at us, letting us know they’re here.”

The more critical issue is why, after seven years of training and fighting, isn’t the Afghanistan army better prepared to deal with Taliban insurgents. Senator McCain threw out an off hand remark several months ago about remaining in the Middle East for a 100 years. Unlesss the Afghans can handle their own defense, his comment may well prove accurate.

Deadlock In Pakistan With Militants

The on again off again exchange between the Pakistan government and Taliban millitants in the frontier regions apparently has simmered down for the present. Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban, has broken off talks with the government over feeling among the Taliban leader of a lack of sincerity on the part of Pakistan leaders for a genuine peace agreement. Mehsud insists upon complete withdrawal of all Pakistan forces from the frontier region, an action that will not occur. The Taliban regard the withdrawal as a “symbolic gesture” but the government views such an action as playing into the hands of Taliban militants.

Dr. Asad, in the Mohmand Agency, demanded the government to eliminate all check points or the Taliban would take charge of things. He also warned thieves and adulterers that Shaira law will soon be enforced, and, if they were smart, it is best to depart now. There are reports from Texas that pitcher Roger Clemens has decided to avoid the Momand Agency during any baseball tour of Pakistan.

Ethiopian Army Kills Civilians In Somalia

At the end of 2006, President Bush encouraged Ethiopian forces to invade the Islamic nation of Somalia and throw out its Islamic leaders. The conflict has dragged on for over a year with increasing violonce and displacement of thousands of innocent civilians. In the latest manifestation of ignoring human rights, Amnesty International has accused the Ethiopian Army of deliberately killing at least 21 civilians inside a mosque plus another 11 in the vicinity of the mosque. At least 40 children aged 9 to 14 are in custody of Ethiopian armed forces. D. Ali Said Faqui, writing online, notes how Somalia millitants killed two innocent British teachers who were trying to help the people of their nation. “Imagine the feeling of living in a country where killing is much easier than earning a loaf of bread; life has no value at all.”

As he points out, Somalia has endured nonstop war for 18 years without any sight of an end in the forseeable future. “The conflcit in Somlia has been dragged into a new and deceitful phase which will threaten the existence of millions of Somali people. There is no hope that the warring factions will ever resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner.”

The Ethiopian invasion did not cause the current crisis, it only exacerbated a situation that was horrible to begin with. As Faqui concludes: “May Allah rescue the Somali public which is caught between a rock and a hard place and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Saudi Arabia Police Burn Yemen Immigrants!

Yemen is a poor nation at the tip of the Arabian peninsula which suffers the indignity of not having oil in the quantities available to its neighbor. A group of Yemen men walked through the sands in order to seek emploment in Saudi cities on their border. It appears they were caught by Saudi police and 18 were severely burned while seeking shelter in a hole. Darweesg Salloumm, who was among the group, said the incident took place a month ago. ‘We dug a hole to hide ourselves from the Saudi police…We hid in the hole and didn’t think the police would come to the hole. When the policemen arrived, they poured diesel over the straw covering the hole and set it on fire.” The 18 burnt men were taken to the police station, not to a hospital, and interrogated by police even as they cried in pain.

The victims were finally taken to a hosptial where Filipino doctors changed their bandages every four days which made the burns become worse. Finally, they were returned to the police station and given a choice, sign a statement saying nothing was done to you or remain in Saudi Arabia and die. They signed the statement and went home.

The Saudi police deny every aspect of the story told by the Yemen immigrants. Of course, the Yemen immigrants should look at the bright side, at least they weren’t beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty In Kenya Or Punishment?

The extensive violence that followed the flawed Kenya election continues raising issues concerning those who participated in the horrors. Hundreds of people were killed, many even burned in homes or churches. Kenya’s Justce, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister, Martha Karua, made clear there will be no amnesty or forgiveness for those who generated the outbreaks of hate and violence. “Some people have been calling for forgiveness of those arrested but I want to say that the due course of law must take charge.” Instead of amnesty, she wants to expedite the execution of the law against those who committed crimes in the name of politics.

Part of the problem is that high level leaders in Kenya’s government undoubtedly encouraged violence in order to prevent Raila Odinga’s opposition party from assuming power. At this point, those who followed and obeyed the call for violence are in jail, but the president and his cohorts remain free from being charged with anything. In fact, they continue ruling and continue using their power.

Education On Two Cents A Day

Girls attending s tate-run schools in India’s financial capital of Mumbai are being paid 1 rupee(two cents) for each day of attendance in school. The project seeks to deal with low attendance rates of female students and to empower Indian girls by providing them a financial foundation in life. The scheme has yet to uncover a single girl among the 220,000 who daily attend school who has attained a perfect attendance record. A school principal, Baig Noorjahan, insisted the payment was not sufficient and urged it be raised to at least 5 rupees daily. He also noted that school attendance for boys was even worse that for girls. Of course, there are other issues such as the reality that millions of Indian children have not even enrolled in schools.

India has made dramatic changes due to its economic explosion, but the reality is millions of poor boys and girls are left behind. There are an insufficient number of teachers, not enough school buildings, and most lack basic educational equipment.

In essence, the concept of paying poor children to attend school makes sense, particularly, if it provides families with sufficient money to provide for the maintainance of children in necessary school equipment, books and clothes.