Monthly Archives: May 2008

Zimbabwe Election A Farce Says President’s Wife

Grace Mugabe, wife of Robert Mugabe, told followers of her husband’s ruling Zanu-PF party that even if he loses, Bob will never step aside to allow Morgan Tsvangirai to assume the position of president of the nation. “Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never step foot inside State House. He will only get to hear abut what it looks like inside State House from people who have been there. Even if Baba(Mugabe) loses, he will only leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu-Pf.” She was on a tour of the rural area of Shamva to inspect homes allegedly burned down by MDC followers. She told an audience, “We want to warn the MDC they should stop immdiately this barbaric campaign of burning and destroying people’s homes.”

Of course, what Grace forgot to mention is that at least 50 members of the MDC have been killed by her husband’s thugs and thousands of people beaten, had their homes burned or displaced. The larger question is why go through the farce of an election when the president has made clear under no condition will he leave the office of being president.

Emperor Bush Stands Naked In Eyes Of Friend

Scott McClellan was a loyal follower of his employer, President George Bush, and never indicated that he doubted the brilliance of America’s leader. But, his new book, “What Happened: Inside The bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” is a 341 page dissection of the Bush administration that already has aroused the fury of right wing supporters of the administration. ‘History appears to confirm,” he writes, “that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now…What I do know is that the war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.” The former press secretary now claims he was misled by a host of Bush people ranging from Vice President Cheney to Karl Rove to Schooter Libby.

His book most probably emanates from soul searching by an individual who witnessed horrible mistakes and wonders about his own role in the fiasco. Damage control has already begun by those implicated in the disaster of Iraq and Republican control of government. Karl Rove now insists the book merely reflects “how out of the loop he was. This doesn’t sound like Scott, it sounds like a left-wing blogger. I don’t remember him speaking up (about the concerns laid out in the book)at the time.” Of course, a press secretary would have no opportunity to speak out about anything. He reported, he didn’t make policy.

McClellan makes note of the ingrained stubborness of George Bush and his inability to listen to a wide variety of viewpoints. According to the former press secretary, Bush sees the world as he wishes it to be, not as it really is. McClellan recalls once overhearing the president complain about stories that he had used cocaine and saying, “the truth is I honestly don’t remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back then and I just don’t remember.” This from a man who ran for president attacking Bill Clinton for immoral behavior!

McClellan believes the over riding reason for war in Iraq was not oil, but the neoconservative dream of creating a democratic Iraq and they were willing to use any excuse in order to achieve that goal. McClellan dscribes Vice President Dick Cheney as the “magic man” who always got his way on issues he considered important whether it was war in Iraq or harsh treatment of detainees. He is only sharply critical of Secretary of State Rice who somehow dodged taking responsibility for anything and seemed to get out of situations looking as though they had nothing to do with her.

Scott McClellan still claims to like George Bush. With friends like this, the president doesn’t need enemies.

What Went Wrong Asks South Africa?

The recent xenophobic violence which swept through South Africa resulting in the death of dozens of people and the destruction of homes and businesses of immigrants is causing South Africans to wonder if their nation has been too complacent about serious structural and economic issues. A special task force probing the violence concludes there was no one cause, but the outbreak resulted from a variety of causes ranging from failure of the government to confront poverty to the presence of millions of immigrants in a nation with a high unemployment rate.The report noted ‘in some cases, there is some evidence of copy-cat activities in which criminals took advantage of the news story to conduct criminal acts” but the violence can not be simply classified as an example of criminals running wild.

The South African government now understands it must protect all those living in the country from violence on the part of those seeking to achieve goals by using the presence of immigrants to vent frustrations. The message to security forces is “no violence will be tolerated.” A major problem when violence initially began was failure on the part of police and army to take immediate strong action to nip the attacks in the bud before they could gain momentum.

Some immigrants may leave South Africa and return home but thousands are unable to go back as is the case of those from Zimbabwe where that nation is in chaos due to the incompetent and brutal actions of President Mugabe. Thousands of immigrants have married native South Africans and have families that can not be abandoned. At present, an important need is for the government to finally show some initiative and provide food, clothing and shelter to those impacted by violence.

Amnesty International Presses Medvedev On Rights

Amnesty International pressed newly elected President Dimitry Medvedev to initiate a “sea change” in his country’s attitude toward human rights. It noted “in your speech following your inauguration, you stated that human rights and freedoms are of the highest value to Russian society. Amnesty International looks forward to seeing this commitment made a reality.”An Amnesty International report was highly critical of Russia which it acused of employing torture, crushing free speech and ignoring its obligations under international treaties to respect basic freedoms of speech, press, and assembly. “Russia, like China, needss to remember that global leadership bring responsibility and expectations and that, to be credible, it cannot ignore the values and principles of the international community and the promies that it makes on human rights.”

The office of President Medvedev refused to comment on the report as did Russia’s Human Rights ombudsman. Russia was not the only country to be criticised since the report sharply condemned American disrespect for human rights in the Guanatanmo Boy prison. However, there are some slight indications Medvedev might be more receptive than his predecessor Putin to instituting changes that would respect basic freedoms.

Hamas Leader Blames Israel For Region Problems

Mahmoud Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, told reporters(including one from the Jerusalem Post) that Israel is responsible for the current impasse about freeing an Israeli soldier held by his group. He idenitified the issue of how many Palestinian prisoners would be released in order to return Cpl. Gilad Schlit as a sore point in negotiations since he beieves Israel is playing games with the number of those who will be released from their side. Zahar was upset because he believes Palestinian groups had reached an agreement with Israel with both sides halting all military action against one another, a “hudna for peace, but “the Israelis are agan playing with us, (they) say they want to wait for a few months after the cease fire before opening the gates(of Gaza). Why wait?”

Zahar hoped the next American president would be “more neutral” and refused to respond to a question by a Jerusalem Post reporter as to his preference in the American election. “No, I will not fall for this trick. You are trying to play politics by getting me to say something good about Obama.” He thought Senator John McCain would win the presidential election because “the United States will not vote for a black man or a woman to be president.”

The Hamas leader believes Israel is suffering a moral and spiritual crisis which is sappping the determination of the nation to confront Hamas and other militant groups. He pointed to a declining immigration and the fact many Israelis hold two passports and will eventually leave for a safer climate. He mocked the idea of a two state solution asking “where are the borders? What about the refugees? I have to know the dimensions of everything. I don’t give answers until then. We don’t trust the prime minister or any Israeli, our way is not the Fatah way.”

Zahar’s rambling reflections offer both hope and doubt about a peace. There apparently is a possibility of attaining an immediate cease fire, but little hope of a far reaching long term solution at the moment. But, one step at a time might be the best approach for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

US-Britain Disagree On Pakistan Policy To Miitants

There appears to be growing divergence between the United States and Great Britain regarding the foreign policy of Pakistan in handling Taliban militants in northwest regions of the nation. During the past few weeks, Pakistan has been engaged in discussions with Taliban leaders over ways to end violence. A jirga consisting of elders has brought together government and Taliban representatives to hammer out a cease fire. British Defence Minister Des Browne welcomed these efforts to end violence in the country insisting any agreement to achieve peace would prove fruitful. However, Tom Casey, speaking for the US State Department complained “we have seen similar kinds of agreements reached in the past that have not been successful.” The State Department fears any agreement with Taliban militants will eventually undermine the security of Pakistan.

Even as Pakistan leaders are negotiating with the Taliban, the government still must decide on a policy of what to do about America’s favorite friend, President Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif, of the PML-N made clear his party’s determination to “give a safe exit to the man(Musharraf) and hinted there should be criminal prosecution of the president.

Arctic Deal Denounced By Environmentalists

The new rush for money and power is on as nations begin to argue as to who owns what in Artic regions of the world. An agreement signed in Greenland by ministers from Russia, the US, Norway, Denmark and Canada has aroused the anger of many environmentalists who fear it heralds the beginning of a new scramble for oil resources and the environment by dammed. Last year Russia planted its flag on the seabed to underline its territorial claims, Denmark planted a flag on Hans island that is also claimed by Canada which has made sounds of establishing a military base in the area. The five nation declaration said all signatories agree to be bound by the 1982 Law of the sea which determines territorial claims according to coastlines and underseas continental shelves. Of course, everyone insists the nations will be judicial in dealing with environmental issues.

According to Mike Townsley, of Greenpeace, “they are going to use the law of the sea to carve up the raw materials, but they are ignoring the law of common sense. These are the same fossil fuels that are driving climate change in the first place.” Norway is already claiming there is no further need for interantional law since the five nations are responsible entitites.

What happens if a nation that has not signed the agreement and doesn’t have territory that is close to the Artic decides to do a little oil drilling? Who decides what is or is not legal– the five nations?

Who Is In Charge Of Russia?

The rather unusual arrangement of leadership in Russia has left many European nations wondering exactly who makes final decisions– the president of Russia or its prime minister? There is still no clear indication as to who calls the foreign policy shots. President Medvedev just returned from a visit to China and now Prime Minister Vladmir Putin is headed for France where he will not only meet with the French prime minister but with President Sarkozy as well. There is no question Putin is exerting more power than any previous Russian prime minister. However, Putin’s spokesman, “Dimitry Peskov, said: “Russia’s foreign policy is determined by the president, as stipulated in the Constitution.”

It is possible that Putin and Medvedev are sharing foreign policy relations as marked by the president’s Asian visit the past week while Putin is heading for western Europe. Perhaps, the two men have divided up the world, but, even in the best of relationships there comes a time when two people will disagree. The real outcome of the division of responsibility will be played out over time when the two friends discover they have differences and who will come out on top when that occurs?

Most Shakespeare plays about kings and power invariably contain bloody scenes in which rivals vie for power. Will the world witness the enactment of another Shakespeare play in Moscow?

Bad Karma Hits Sharon Stone

Movie stars have won elections to the US Senate, to the House of Representatives and even the presidency on the assumption that acting somehow conveys to the actor a sense of knowing something about the world. Sharon Stone, who has enjoyed a somewhat disjointed career, was speaking with reporters at the Cannes Film Festival when she displayed her incisive mind by commenting the recent earthquake which killed over 60,000 people in China might have been due to “bad karma” over the country’s occupation of Tibet. “I’ve been concerned ab out how should we deal with the Olympics, because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine. And, then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that Karma–when you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you.”

Some of the bad karma already is happening to Ms.Stone as her films are now banned in China and will probably result in small attendance in other parts of the world because people are shocked at her ignorance and inappropriate manner of speaking about a tragedy. Perhaps, the ban is a blessing for the Chinese people since they will not have a chance to watch another of her poor rendtions of acting.

Italy Faces A World Without Romanians!

The last Italian election witnessed a dramatic victory for those who want to get rid of immigrants who they claim are the cause of crime in the nation. The coalition government of Silvio Berlusconi promised to crackdown on immigrants and supposedly replace them with good Italian workers. Unfortunately, after the rhetoric, the nation awoke to the reality that immigrants constitute an important component of the workforce. It appears the hundreds of thousands of those “unwanted immigrants” clean Italian middle class houses, they pick up the garbage and care for children while mom and pop are out making money to afford a nice lifestyle. It is estimated in Rome alone, about 100,000 foreigners care for the old and disabled and are most probably in Italy without proper credentials.

It is estimated there are about 3.5 million immigrants in a nation of 58 million people. The largest contingent of immigrants are Romanians and they tend to be the target of most anger because it is alleged Romas are responsible for crime even though there are no accurate records as to the percent of crime caused by this group of immigrants.

The new coalition is now toning down its record as they realize it is easy to shout during an election to rid the nation of immigrants but difficult to carry out the threat when there are not enough native born Italians to pick up the work slack. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, who probably shouted the loudest in denouncing immigrants, is now saying they will only jail newcomers and leave alone those already in Italy.