Monthly Archives: May 2008

Drug Wars Rage In Mexico As Police Are Killed

The American desire for drugs combined with a policy of criminalizing its sale and possession has not only filled jails of this nation, but it has left in its wake devastating consequences for its neighbor to the south. The United States government has exerted pressure on the government of Mexico to destroy its drug lords, but the only result has been to initiate open warfare between drug gangs and the police. In the latest episode of this conflict, drug traffickers killed seven Mexican policemen who were searching a drug gang hide-out in Culiacan. They were shot by gangsters inside the building who also threw grenades at the police. They were most probably killed by members of the gang of drug kingpin, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman.

The drug wars have definitely escalated during the past year with at least 1,400 being killed so far this year. Thousands of police and members of the armed forces have been thrust into the battle but drug gangs appear to be equally armed.

The American people continue trying an approach which makes use of drugs illegal. Actually, drugs were legal in most of the United States during the 19th century and it was not until the beginning of the 20th that using drugs became a crime. There are an estimated 600,000 people in jail for drug offences. At some point, perhaps it is time to pursue other avenues of dealing with drugs, including legalizing small amounts that are not so lethal.

Bye Bye King Say People Of Nepal!

The world’s last Hindu kingdom became the newest secular republic as the people of Nepal celebrated in the streets the end of a monarchy that had lost the confidence of its subjects. Thousands of people marched, danced and sang in the streets of Katmandu awaiting the vote of the assembly which decided it was time for King Gyanendra to depart to another place of residence. The vote to end the 239 year-old monarchy was 560 to four. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala declared Nepal’s rebirth as a republic. “We have entered a new era today.” The King was given 15 days to quit the palace and move to another of his places of residence.

Nepal has endured a decade of violence including the 2001 palace m asscre in which a gunman, allgedly the crown prince assassinated the late King Birendra and much of the
royal family before killing hmself. The event may have created an uneasiness about the very nature of royal family.

Th communists are now in firm control of the nation and have pledged to continue its capitalist way of life. They are still struggling to establish a government and then will face the more difficult process of governing a nation.

McCain-Is Talking Appeasement Or Isn’t It?

Senator John McCain has sharply criticized Barack Obama for suggesting the need to engage in discussions with leaders of nations with whom we have conflict. Both McCain and President Bush have termed as “appeasement” any effort to engage in negotiations with regimes that support terrorism. Yesterday, after Senator McCain and President Bush had a closed-door-to-the press meeting to raise money, the senator blasted Obama with the following comment: ‘You believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is to ahve our president talk with leaders of Pyongyant and Tehran, as if we haven’t tried talking with these governments repeatedly over the past two decades.”

Senator McCain’s comment is rather intriguing because he admits that President Bush has engaged in discussions and negotiations with hostile nations. But, aren’t both McCain and Bush attacking Barack Obama for supporting exactly what the Bush administration has been doing– engaging in discussions with North Korea and Iran? Why doesn’t McCain term as “appeasement” these Bush discussions? Or is it only “appeasement” when a Democratic candidate urges the nation to do what Bush has been doing? It becomes rather confusing attempting to decipher the meaning of “appeasement.”

Former Bush Press Secretary Blasts Boss

Former White House Press Secretay Scott McClellan in his new book which wll appear this week, blasts his former boss as a man who relied on an aggressive “political propaganda campaign” instead of the truth in selling the Iraq war. He accuses the White House of making “a decision to turn away from candor when those qualities were most needed,” a time when the nation was on the brink of war. He says Bush deliberately managed the situation in order to get his way on proceeding with war with Iraq. The way he managed the situation says McClellan, “almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option,” and he termed war with Iraq to be a “serious strategic blunder.”

He admitted his own words were “badly misguided” although at the time he thought to be speaking the truth. The former press secretary portrys his boss as smart, charming and politically skilled but unwilling to admit mistakes and susceptible to believing his own spin. He also faults Bush with a “lack of inquisitiveness.”

One can only wonder if those who cheered on the Bush war in Iraq now have some second thoughts after it is revealed they were duped.

Dos And Don’ts For Turkish Women

A list of controversial “dos and don’ts” regading sexual relations for Turkish women has been published by the Directorate of Religious Affairs. According to the much debated list(it is not law in Turkey) people should avoid having illegal etra-marital affairs and engaging in such behaviors as flirting and dating that might lead to adultery. Turkey is a nation in which some women are blatantly western in their normal behavior while others adhere more closely to traditional ways of behavior.The web site of the Directorate said “women have to be more careful since they have sexual stimulants.” It cited women who wear perfume outside fthe home as displaying immoral behavior because “Our Prophet Mohammed did not approve of women who wear perfume and fragrances outside their homes and he descried this action as immoral.”

The list in itself is an expression of free speech and one can accept or reject the suggestions. The danger lies in having the list used by men who wish to harass women who don’t follow its precepts. It is doubtful if western thinking women and men will cease flirting and dating because of a list published on a web site.

Ironically, the list of “dos and don’ts” as well as opposition to abortion would probably meet with approval by many American rellgious fundamentalists. Perhaps, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson should pay more close attention to their similarities in thinking with Muslim fundamentalists. They may have new allies in their fight against immorality and abortions.

Normal Ties With Israel Or Burn Books?

Egypt’s Cultural Minister, Faruq Hosni, who is a candidate to head UNESCO, came under fire from the Israel government for some comments he recently made. In response to a question in Parliament on May 10 he said, “I’d burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt.” Hosni now claims he was simply using a “popular expression to prove something does not exist”– Israel books in Egypt. He somewhat reversed himself yesterday when he said it was a “big mistake that Israeli books have not yet been translated into Arabic. I have officially asked for it to be done. If people protest, I don’t give a damn.” However, he made clear he oppooses normalization of cultural ties with Israel before it made peace with the Palestinians. However, he added: “It is a dream. We must wait for the right moment to come when Israel will have signed peace with the Palestinians. If it happens tomorrow, I will be in the front row the next day for this normalisation.”

There is something amiss when a cultural leader of a nation seeks to ban all cultural ties with an enemy until “normalisation” occurs. Wouldn’t this goal be furthered if intellectuals and artists immediately created excellent relations? Wouldn’t it help if Israeli films and books were available to students so they could learn more about that country? Mr. Hosni appears to have the proverbial cart before the horse in working for peace and reconciliation with Israel.

What’s Happening In Iran?

The American press consistently portrays President Ahmadinejad as the all powerful leader of Iran despite his rather limited authority in making decisions since anything of importance is overseen by religious rulers in the nation. The Iranian parliament yesterday elected the country’s former chief nculear negotiator, Ali Larijani, as its Speaker, even though he has often been critical of Ahmadinejad’s leadership. Larijani, a prominent conservative, quit his position last year due to his differences with the president on how to handl the nuclear dispute with the west. Within moments after assuming his new position, Larijani made clear his nation disagreed with the latest report by he Inernational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which said Iran might be withholding information needed to determine if it is working on making nuclear weapons.

Larijani bluntly staed that if the UN continues making charges against Iran, “the parliament will set new limits on cooperation with the IAEA.” It is interesting that he made clear it was “parliament” which would set limits, not the president. In gaining the support of 232 of the 263 votes cast, Larijani made himself a powerful rival to Ahmadinejad in deciding policy in Iran. His power stems from close ties with clerical leaders of the nation. It is unclear as to exactly which new directions he wishes Iran to pursue.

World Aghast At Behavior Of Burma Junta

Nations throughout the world were shocked at the actions of the military junta which rules the country when it violated its own laws in order to extend the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Ky. She has been under continual house detention since returning to the country in 1988, and the latest came on the 18th anniversary of tthe election of her party, the National League for Democracy(NLD) which won an overwhelming victory 18 yeas ago. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his frustration and disappointment: “The sooner restriction on Daw Aung San Suu Ky and other policial figures are lifted, the sooner Myanmar will be able to move towards incclusive national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and full respect of human rights.”

The UN hoped efforts by nations to assist Burma during the aftemath of a destructive cyclone at least would have been recognized by the junta, but they apparently were sending a message to the world that despite this assistance they wanted everyone to know who was in charge and that no changes were forthcoming relating to democracy.

There now is no doubt changes will not occur in Myanmar as long as the thugs who run it continue their power over a helpless people.

PTSD Rises Among Soldiers In Iraq

The number of soldiers who are displaying signs of post traumatic stess disorder has jumped by about 50% in 2007. Records show that about 40,000 members of the military have been diagnosed with the illness since 2003. However, Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker believes we do not right presently “have good numbers.” He attributed the rise in numbers to better record keeping and increased exposure of soldiers to combat. Officals have been urging soldiers and their family members to seek professional help if signs of the illness appear. The new figures that were revealed indicate that Army and Marine personnel are being hit hardest by PTSD.

Army statistics show there were nearly 14,000 newly diagnosed cases across the services in 2007 cmpared wth more than 9,500 in the previus year and 1,632 in 2003. The Marine Corps had more thn 2,100 new cases com pared with 1,366 in 2006. More than 5,000 Marines have been diagnosed with PTSD since 2003. In a sense the Surgeon General is correct, more knowledge means more soldiers are seeking treatment. But, this is good news, not bad.

Russia Won’t Counter US Shield With A Shield

A Russian general, Yevgeny Buzhinsky, said his nation was concerned about anti-missile bases to be built by the United States in Poland and the Czech Republic, but his nation would not retaliate. He admitted the United States had given assurances the bases were not aimed at Russia, but he felt such assurances were not sufficient. “We welcome this proposal as a step in the right direction, the acknowledgement that Russian concerns are well-grounded. but, the United States needs to abandon its plans to deploy missile defense components in Europe if it wants to remove Russia’s concerns.” He expressed
Russian feelings the misssile bases were the first step in a long range plan to surround Russia with militarty bases.

The Russians have proposed being allowed to place their officers at the missile bases but Poland has insisted that Polish officers be allowed on Russian bases. Of course, the issue is not allowing officers from other countries to have permanent rights on bases, but mainly focus on the missile defense bases since they have created the greatest concerns.

Russia is warning they may take counter-measures but refuse to disclose the exact nature except to emphasize they do not wish to get sucked into an arms race. All Buzhinsky would say is: “Naturally, we envisage possible retaliatory measures to minimize the risk for our security.”

The bottom line is there is no need for such anti-missile systems or bases in Europe. If Russia is not the enemy, then who is? All Bush will say is the enemy might be North Korea or Iran, but North Korea is already cooperating with the world.