Monthly Archives: August 2008

Sweden On Immigrants–Tough Or Benevolence?

Swedish moderates are urging the government to take a tougher line on immigrants to their nation. Government proposals increasingly have focused on making employment as central to the process of integrating a newcomer within Swedish society. Moderate parliamentarians believe there is misguided benevolence which has resulted in a permissive attitude where, in their view, too many immigrants become dependent for extended periods of time on government subsidies instead of supporting themselves. Of those who secure a residence permit and take part in local introduction schemes only 20 percent are self-supporting after two and a half years with a permit.

The issue raised by Swedish moderates is one found in most nations which welcome immigrants. Ordinarily, immigrants are hard working and tend to avoid seeking government assistance so one is left wondering at what is happening in Sweden. Perhaps, the difficulty lies less in the failure of immigrants to get jobs and more to do with discrimination on the part of employers which prevent the immigrant from obtaining work.

Abbas To Israel– Enough Is Enough, Let’s Act Now!

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the United States to push Israel to finally take action to move forward on the path to peace. “We shouldn’t lose another seven years searching for solutions.” His statement came on the eve of the arrival of Secretary of State Condi Rice who is making still another attempt to resolve differences between the two groups. Rice is caught in a dilemma because the Israel government continues building housing on the West Bank despite promises to the contrary they would cease such construction. Rice insists Israel must cease the construction, but her words apparently have scant impact on the Olmert government.

The situation is undoubtedly complicated by the reality President Bush is no longer a force since he will be departing within a few months. Abbas may insist there is need for Israel action now, but reality is until the arrival of a new president on the scene there is no way to pressure Israel to carry out agreements of the road map to peace.

Europe Changing Demographically As Britain Grows

Revolutionary demographic changes are sweeping across Europe which will result in dramatically different populations fifty years from now. Overall, most European nations contain a higher percent of people who fit into the aged sector of society. German population is declining while that of Great Britain is increasing which will result in the years to come of Great Britain having the most populous society in western Europe. It will increase from 61 million to 77 million by 2060. Germany is experiencing the reverse with its current population of 82 million shrinking to about 70 million.,

These demographic changes will cause a re-evaluation of current policies such as attempting to restrict immigration from Middle Eastern or Asian societies. West Europeans will need young immigrants to take over many occupations and provide for the care of the aged population. Some critics of Muslim immigration complain it will result in transforming the historical Christian Europeans into a Muslim culture. Who knows, if these trends continue something analogous to that prediction might arise.

Egyptian Dissident Open Letter To Obama

Ayman Nour, founder of the liberal Ghad Party, wrote an open letter to Barack Obama that began, “the writer of these lines is a man about your age who was, and still is, dreaming like you of change and reforms.. in our countries, legitimate dreams,all too often turn into horrifying nightmares.” He argues his main crime was entering his name to run against a president who has been in office for over 27 years and brooks no opposition to his rule. Nour asks Obama to intervene on his behalf and help secure his release. Since Nour was imprisoned the US government has constantly been urging his release.

In one sense, the Nour case underlines issues confronting any American president. Is it American policy to support regimes which violate basic human rights? Can the US intervene in the domestic affairs of other nations in the name of freedom of speech? Egypt is a time bomb waiting to explode because a virtual dictator refuses to allow freedom. What will happen if Mubarak continues his authoritarian way of ruling?

Somalians Won’t Integrate In Norway

A Somalian woman who came to Norway 10 years ago has just written a sharp indictment of her fellow Somalians for their failure to integrate within Norwegian society. She blames the lack of integration is due to Somali males who fear becoming more Norwegian threatens their culture and control over Somali women. She says many regard the Norwegians as infidels and lack trust or interest in their ideas. The anonymous author of “See Us” fears revealing her real name due to potential violence on the part of male religious fundamentalists. Among her charges against fellow Somalians is that many women “divorce” in order to receive welfare benefits but continue living under the authority of her husband.

The book argues women and children are kept isolated and females face physical brutality from males. At present, there are about 20,000 Somalians living in Norway, mainly concentrated in the Oslo area.

President Karzai Blasts US And Coalition Forces

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai issued a strong criticism of US and coalition forces for their continued use of air strikes which result in the death of civilians. His comment comes in the wake of a United Nation report which found “convincing evidence” that US-coalition troops and Afghan forces killed 90 civilians including 60 children. Karzai ordered his government ministries to regulate the presence of foreign troops and negotiate an end to “air strikes on civilian targets, uncoordinated searches,and illegal detention of Afghan civilians.” An Afgahn spokesman said the decision was made after his government had “lost patience” with foreign forces who continually rely on air attacks which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Afghan civilians. The UN finding was based on testimony by eyewitnesses that conclusively proved civilians died not the 25 militants claimed by US military sources.

Naturally, the United States insists its military takes precautions to avoid civilian casualties. A basic problem stems from the Bush decision in 2002 to shift forces away from the task of completely wiping out the Taliban in order to get on with his wild ideas concerning WMD in Iraq. An opportunity was lost to crush Taliban forces and the result is six years later civilians are dying.

Hillary Clinton Hits Home Run At Democratic Convention

Senator Hillary Clinton gave a masterful speech at the Tuesday evening session of the Democratic Convention. She directly confronted any of her supporters who are angry and ready to vote for McCain by challenging them as to whether the campaign for her nomination was about her or about the issues and ideas that she advocated. She emphasize to her supporters that John McCain stood for the opposite of everything they were fighting to achieve and a vote for him was a vote against women rights, against health care, and a vote for someone who is more likely to seek military solutions instead of diplomatic ones. She continually emphasized she was voting for Barack Obama and she urged them to return to the Democratic party and fight for its beliefs.

Hillary Clinton displayed passion, conviction, and a sincere commitment to support the Obama candidacy in the fight to end the Bush fiasco in America. She pointed out it was no surprise the Republican convention was being held in the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, since the twins of Bush and McCain could not be told apart when it came to their political and foreign policy beliefs. She specifically pointed out a major goal of her campaign was obtaining affordable health care for all in America, something opposed by McCain but supported by Obama.

There is no question Senator Clinton will be out campaigning for Obama and working to persuade women to follow suit. Her speech was undoubtedly the best she has ever given and it captured the admiration of everyone in the convention. She laid to rest any qualms that existed regarding her support for Senator Obama.

Russia Throws Down Gauntlet To West!

President Dimitry Medvedev made clear to Western nations his country was not afraid to challenge the European Union and the United States on recent events in Georgia. He announced a decree had been signed recognizing Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations. He insisted the decision was necessary because of Georgia policies that he termed as “genocide.” In defiant tones he said: “We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new cold War. But, we don’t want t, and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners.” His statement resulted in a dramatic drop in the Russian stock market which plunged 6.1%.

President Saakashvili interpreted the Medvedev statement as evidence that (Russia’s) invasion of Georgia was part of a broader premeditated plan to redraw the map of Europe.” The problem with the Saakashvili comment is that Georgia was the one which initiated the war, not Russia. If Georgia had not sent its forces into the two breakaway provinces, Russia would have remained on the sideline. How could Russia be responsible for a “premeditated attack” when everything revolved around Georgia’s decision to send or not send forces into the regions?

Mugabe Defies Agreement, Opens Parliament!

President Mugabe was supposed to be in negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai on ways to organize a coalition government. Instead of keeping to the agreement that Parliament would not be summoned until a power sharing agreement had been reached, he went ahead with meeting with the new Parliament. As the president told the body, “landmark agreements have been concluded with every expectation that everybody will sign up,” his audience erupted into booing by MDC members and shouts of “Zanu-PF is rotten”(Zanu-PF is Mugabe’s party).

Mugabe simply could not avoid showing his true colors by having two MDC members arrested as they tried to take their seats in Parliament. In Mugabeland, democracy means if you agree with me, we will not beat the hell out of you and we will not throw you into jail where the torturers can practice democracy in action. Ironically, in a secret vote for speaker of the Parliament, MDC member Lovemore Moyo won by 110 to 98 votes. This indicates when allowed to vote in secret even members of the Zanu-PF don’t like their president.

Israel Continues Violating Peace Agreement

Israel is among the few genuinely democratic societies in the Middle East, but its policies in the west Bank only reveal that a democratic nation can be stupid and warlike. Peace Now, an Israeli based organization, issued a report which clearly proves the present Olmert govenment has been violating agreements and pledges it made to Palestinians and to the United States by refusing to halt construction of new housing on the West Bank. According to Peace Now figures, the Housing Ministry began construction during the January- June period of 433 new settlement housing units which represents double the number built-240- last year in the same period. More than 1000 new buildings representing 2,600 housing units were under construction. Of these, 55% were built on the eastern side of the concrete and steel barrier Israel has built on the West Bank.

According to the US initiated road map to which Israel agreed, new housing construction was to cease. Secretary of State Rice who has arrived in Jerusalem today, has said: “I think it it no secret I have said it to my Israel counterpart that I didn’t think that settlement activity is helpful.” Israel Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni insists “the Israel government’s policy is not to expand settlements, not to build new settlements and not to confiscate Palestinian land.”

Perhaps, the foreign minister might get together with the housing ministry and inform them of her beliefs because either the housing people don’t know about Israel foreign policy or someone is lying. As Peace Now notes, “construction has continued” and “undermines the possibility of a peace agreement.” That is the bottom line.