Monthly Archives: June 2008

Wild West Comes To Czech Republic

They dress in western outfits that were common in the 19th century America that is known as the wild west. The men and women have holsters on which six guns are ready to be fired, and their cowboy hats are worn in a manner revealing the cowboy and cowgirl nature of the enterprise. It is the Cowboy Action Shooting group which has caught on with a segment of the Czech Republic public that is fascinated with stories of the old west in America. The weekend event is party re-enactment of a shooting event and part wearing clothes from another time and place. Each person goes through a sequence of firing their revolver or Winchester at a set of targets and scores are added up to discover who was Marshall Earp this weekend. Josef Minhula, a truck driver says, “I’m very happy to be in this group. I like the romance and the atmosphere.”

Europeans have long enjoyed a fascination with the American West and the novels of German author Carl May were extensively popular in the early 1900s. I wonder if these enthusiasts would enjoy a walk on the wild side of some urban shoot-outs in modern America.

Study Charges Few Imams In Germany Qualified

A new study conducted by Rauf Ceylan, son of Turkish immigrants to Germany, charges the vast majority of imams in Germany lack academic qualifications not only about religion, but about life in Germany or the European Union. If a Turkish immigrant goes to a local mosque in search of assistance in how to integrate within German society, the imam is probably the last person from whom to seek advice. “Imams in Germany” reveals 20% of imams are drawn from conservative Islamist groups and only one out of five imams has qualified academic training in the Muslim religion let alone in any academic area dealing with the history or culture of Germany and Europe.

Ceylan visited numerous mosques and talked with many imams which led him to conclude the average mosque is mainly concerned “in the ability of their imam to recite the Koran.” As a result few imams have extensive knowledge of the Muslim religion or the content of the Koran beyond being able to recite it. He believes the few imams with extensive religious training only remain in Germany for a short period.

Is Turkish Military Planning Defense Of Secularism?

Military leaders of Turkey have long regarded themselves as the defender and upholder of secular values of Ataturk who founded the modern nation. They have been following rather closely the current case being reviewed by the Constitutional Court regarding charges brought by the Public Prosecutor who claims the Justice and Development Party(AKP) is endeavoring to over throw secularism and impose an Islamist form of government. A newly established newspaper, Taraf, charges the General Staff has prepared an extensive plan of action to manipulate the press and other agencies of Turkey to gain widespread support for the expected decision by the Constitutional Court to order the closing down of the AKP.

The General Staff issued a strong denial of the charges made by Taraf even though it is quite apparent Turkish military leaders would welcome the closure of the AKP. Regardless of whether or not there is a concerted plan of action, there is no doubt leading generals will support the Court decision in every manner than can possibly utilize.

Chinese Riots Demonstrate Anger At Corruption

The modern world offers new opportunities for people to express their anger when living in an authoritarian society. The Chinese government still refuses to recognize imposing dictatorial procedures invariably damages its legitimacy and police and the army can never be a substitute for the right of people to express their views. Riots and demonstrations have swept the county of Weng’an over the past few days after information was spread on YouTube and the Internet about the rape and killing of a fifteen year-old girl. The violence against her was the result of actions by three young men, including the son of a local deputy mayor. Her uncle was a popular school teacher and when he complained to authorities, the police beat him to death.

The resulting riots by thousands of people resulted in an angry response from Communist officials rather than proceeding with an investigation into the death of the girl. Xinhua news agency did issue a comment which blamed the riot on the face “some people did not know about the exact context of what had happened and were instigated to mob the police station and the office buildings of the county government and of Communist Party committees.” Why is it always that any riot is the result of being “instigated” by some unknown group? Why is it never the fault of government agencies or officials?

One day the Chinese Communist government will awake to the realization that democracy is the best weapon in dealing with the local corruption which is so widespread in the nation.

Hamas And Israel Inch Toward Maintaining Agreement

Since the cease fire has been implemented in the Gaza area, rockets have been fired from within the Stripe which threaten to destroy the fragile agreement. Last week, Hamas insisted it would not serve as a “policeman” for Israel in order to enforce the cease fire, but apparently wiser heads have decided the truce will collapse unless Hamas exerts its leadership. Mamoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official, made clear to the Islamist Jihad they had to end the rocket attacks. “We have reached an agreement with Islamist Jihad,” he said, “that anyone, even if he’s from Hamas would be arrested and disarmed if he violates the agreement.”

He also noted that several extremists connected with Fatah have been arrested on suspicion they were planning to undermine the cease fire. Israel decided to allow 80 trucks loaded with supplies to enter Gaza. Now, if everyone can hold off shooting, the cease fire might actually produce peaceful results.

British Security Abuse Asylum Seeker

During the past two hundred years, Great Britain has been host to thousands of asylum seekers from Karl Marx to those fleeing Nazi Germany. For some reason, under the current Socialist governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, there has been an increase in examples of those seeking refuge in the UK of being physically abused. Stephanie Toumi has her request for asylum turned down in April and was fast tracked to be sent back to Cameroon from which she had fled after being tortured and abused by a tribal chief. On her plane flight back to Cameroon, two British security guards kicked her and held her head down for over an hour. When the place touched down in Belgium, local officials refused to allow her to be placed on a plane for Cameroon since Ms. Toumi was unable to walk without aid of a wheelchair.

This is not the first case in which asylum seekers in Britain have been assaulted by security personnel. Isn’t it time to restore the greatness of Great Britain as the home for all who are oppressed?

Conservative Anglicans Rebel And Form New Church

Conservatives forces in the Anglican church rebelled and are determined to form a new Anglican church that will combat changes being made such as consecration of gays, lesbians, and women as priests in the church. They are upset with the Archbishop of Canterbury who they believe is supporting these attacks on what they consider to be the real Anglican religion. A Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Foca, will be formed in the coming weeks in order to provide a base for those who seek the traditional trappings of the Anglican church. Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria decried the “forces of militant secularism and pluralism” as the reason why people are turning away from the Anglican church.

There is much more conservatism among Anglican clergy in Africa, South America and Asia than among those from more economically developed societies. The split is most probably as much stemming from geographical and economic factors as from religion. People in more advanced societies include those from diverse backgrounds and thus are more sensitive to the need for pluralism.

Stockholm’s Interesting Inner City World

Stockholm is experiencing an unusual explosion in the life of inner city people– a rise in the number of children, but, those children come from native born Swedes rather than those from immigrant backgrounds. The number of inner city children under the age of five has risen about 154% over the past thirty years and during the past ten years the number has risen by 4,000 of the current 19,000. Swedes apparently enjoy the cultural aspects of inner city life, and prefer living where it is easier to access a good restaurant or go to a museum or visit cultural events. In Sweden, it is more likely that immigrants will be living in the suburbs rather than the inner city.

The attraction of being close to work is most probably one of the lures of inner city living. We should expect with the rise in oil prices that more and more people will opt for inner city life in order to avoid high expenses associated with commuting by car. There are already signs people in America are beginning to consider the attraction of the inner city world with its urban transit.

Malaysia Embroiled In Political Sex Charges

Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Malaysia’s opposition coalition which won a tremendous victory in last month’s election for the legislature, was accused by police of having sodomized an aide. In order to avoid being arrested the charismatic political leader has taken refuge in the Dutch Embassy in Kula Lumpur. Anwar claims the entire charge is an “attempt by the government to crush his political party,” and is a complete fabrication. His wife has supported her husband and insists there is no evidence of any improper sexual behavior on his part.

Anwar claims he has received death threats after his coalition made tremendous gains by obtaining 82 of the 222 seats in parliament. The ruling National Front alliance is apparently frightened because Anwar has reached out to members of its own coalition in order to persuade them to cross over. The National Front has been in power for years and, most probably, like any party in power for a long time, it is reluctant to actually allow an opposition party to take over the government. The prime minister denies knowledge of the police investigation which doesn’t come across as being an honest statement.

The War In Afghanistan Goes On And On

It is seven years since the United States armed forces drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and the Bush administration assured the world a new democratic society would be created in that country. In the past few days, battles raged in southern Afghanistan as coalition forces and the Taliban battled one another. US troops called in air strikes but still had to fight against Talban forces which were ready with weapons and rockets even after planes left the scene. The US claimed 36 militants were killed, but as the Army Times notes: “It is not possible to verify the military account of the fighting” and casualties due to the remote nature of the battle.

In a report issued by the Defense Department, it was emphasized, “the struggle between security forces and Islamic militants is intensifying across the southern half of Afghanistan, illustrating the limited success of the nearly seven year effort to stabilize the country.” The Pentagon went on to note, the Taliban “will maintain and even increase their scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombing in 2008.”

Seven years is a considerable time to be fighting a war and one must raise questions as to the planning and goals of such an objective whose results are getting worse rather than better. Will Afghanistan witness a “surge” of troops?