Monthly Archives: September 2008

Olmert Urges 1967 Border With Palestinians

Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert completed his change of perspective toward peace with the Palestinian Authority by finally acknowledging the need to abandon a hard stance on the West Bank and accept the reality that most land taken as a result of the 1967 war must be returned to their rightful owners. In an interview with Israel’s biggest selling newspaper, Yedhiot Ahronot, he urged working to reach an accord with President Abbas before it is too late to attain such a compromise. Olmert warned delay would only play into the hands of Islamic militants. The alternative was “the very great danger that there will be a bloody clash, which will thwart any possibility of continuing negotiations.”

Olmert admitted “what I am saying…. has not been said by any Israeli leader before me.” The Israel prime minister finally said the truth– “In the end, we will have to withdraw from the lion’s share of the territories and, for the territories we leave in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel at a ratio that is more or less one to one.”

Prime Minister Olmert is already being blasted by hard liners, but it is important that an Israel leader has finally spoken the truth.

Pirates Of Somalia Watch Warships Off Coast

During the past few decades, pirates increasingly have been operating off the coast of Somalia and each year they seizes dozens of ships without concern for intervention by navies of the world. In the latest episode of bravado, pirates seized a ship from the Ukraine loaded with arms, ammunition, and tanks that was headed for Kenya. The pirates are now sitting at ease in a harbor while naval ships from the United States and Russia sit at anchor watching the scene. The maritime industry is furious at the lazy manner in which navies deal with pirates in sharp contrast to world concern over airline highjacking. Several leading maritime organizations issued a statement claiming, “if civil aircraft were being hijacked on a daily basis, the response of governments would be very different.”

The latest example of inaction is bewildering. A cargo ship laden with dangerous weapons and tanks is sitting in a harbor while US and Russian naval vessels observe the scene. If the weapons and ammunition get to shore and are sold to Islamic groups, thousands will die. There is no excuse for inaction.

Zimbabwe Starves While President Mugabe Procrastinates

Two weeks have passed since an historic agreement was signed in Zimbabwe that allows for a coalition government in order to confront the crisis that engulfed the nation. Millions of people are threatened with starvation but President Mugabe is off in New York to attend a UN meeting and most probably have excellent meals at the top restaurants. Mugabe continues to accept the reality his leadership has failed and endangers the lives of Zimbabweans. Morgan Tsvangirai pleaded with Mugabe to implement the agreement as soon as possible. “We need to respond to this crisis with utmost urgency,” he said. “It is therefore imperative that a government be formed in the next few days and begin to implement a plan that our people have food and do not die of starvation.”

The only immediate action on the part of the Mugabe government is to issue new bank notes which are necessary due to the high rate of inflation. Perhaps, President Mugabe believes people can eat paper currency. This man is a criminal.

Burma Thug Rulers Seek Refuge In Victimhood!

The military rulers of Myanmar insist they have been doing a terrific job of ruling their nation but imposition of sanctions by the UN has created serious economic problems. Despite the fact the UN has only recently become directly involved in trying to aid the Burmese people, military rulers claim the UN sanctions are “immoral and unfair” and the cause of poverty in the country. The “Friends of the Secretary General on Myanmar” want the military junta to comply with UN requests for a democratic opening that would allow all parties to participate in elections and the freeing of opposition leaders. Foreign Minister Nyan Win, responded that Myanmar would be a bread basket to the region and offer plentiful energy supplies if only the UN would end sanctions.

A first step in the move toward democracy by the military junta would be freeing opposition leader, Aung San Auu Kyi and allowing freedom of the press and speech. Unfortunately, the junta definition of what constitutes “democracy” has no relation to the reality of democracy. Unfortunately, there is scant prospect of the junta bending and allowing more democracy.

Racism In Norway Where There Are Few Black Faces

The state church of Norway has found itself embroiled in a conflict over the presence of one of their ministers in the town of Oppdal which is in the mountains. The local church leader has come under sharp criticism after he prevented a pastor, who originally comes from Sierra Leone, from participating in several funerals because relatives did not want a black skin pastor having anything to do with the final send off of their dead relative. Pastor Joseph Moiba has been told by local residents, that people like himself, “don’t fit in Norway” and the pastor has been physically and verbally abused. Nils-Tore Andersen, leader of the state church council, Kirkeradet, is shocked because in his view, the church should be a leader in the fight against racism.

Andersen’s reaction to family complaints concerning a black skinned man participating in funerals was “we try to meet the wishes of families in a funeral, but there’s a limit.” Andersen was upset the local pastor acceded to requests of families and barred Moiba from participating in several funerals.

Moiba is on a sick leave due to stress caused by the incidents and he fears they will resume when he returns to duty. One can only wonder how such intensity of feeling can emerge from people who have so little contact with Africans.

Wither Reform In Iran?

The Bush administration has consistently focused on portraying Iran as the focal point of terrorism in the Middle East and has ignored opportunities to foster reform in that nation. Former president Mohammad Khatami, who assisted the United States invasion of Afghanistan and was rewarded with hate and anger by Bush, is being urged to run for the presidency of his nation in 2009. Khatami has responded by raising questions as to what is the best strategy for reformers to accomplish their aims– in the political arena or elsewhere? “The reason that I have so far not reached a decision on contesting the election is that I believe that first, certain major questions should be answered. It should be determined whether one can institutionalize reforms n society and the country without being in power.”

Khatami raised issues as to whether the cause of reform is best served by working through the infrastructure of society such as in the clergy, among intellectuals or in social groups. These undoubtedly are important questions, but Iran could benefit by having Khatami or someone like him in the presidency. Ahmadinejad’s wild comments only damage the fight for reform in Iran.

Shocking Anti-Roma Czech Republic Proposal!

The Czech Republic Regional Development Minmister, Jifi Cunek, has proposed an unheard of plan which would classify each and every Roma family in the nation into one of three categories. Under this idea, a government would decide who does or does not fit into a slot and proceed to decide how best that family can live in the Czech Republic. One group of Romas would be allowed to live as they presently do on ground they have displayed an ability to function without government assistance. A second group would be Roma citizens who require some form of financial and social assistance and the third group would be subject to regular supervision by social workers and moved into government owned hostels. Cunek’s adviser, Josef Balaz, said, social workers who engage with Romas “realize these people are on different levels and therefore have very different needs.”

Ivan Vesely, deputy head of the government council of the Roma community, responded by noting “to categorize Roma citizens into groups is against the Czech constitution and social laws, and it violates the ideas and message of the Velvet Revolution.” Of course, at no place in this proposal is there any reference for dividing up other people in the Czech Republic into categories. Or, is the assumption, only Romas need government supervision and planning? Are there any non-Romas who live in poverty?

If Not Capitalism, What Then?

The era of capitalism that was ushered in by Ronald Reagan in 1981 is now drawing to a close. The happy Republican leader was always ready with another story about “welfare cheats” who lived off government handouts or how people on welfare became lazy, but rarely, if ever, did Ronald Reagan ever discuss greedy and self centered leaders of industry and the finance world. Reagan, Libertarians, and Ron Paul supporters have been claiming for nearly three decades that “government” was the problem, not financial leaders or captains of industry. They have assured the American people once all government regulation is ended the United States would witness a tremendous growth in wealth that benefits both rich and poor.

The Reagan-Ron Paul belief in ending regulation in order to create prosperity was a fairy tale, one told by idiots, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing but a pack of lies. Yesterday, the American people lost over $1 Trillion due to the stock market decline, but it is doubtful if the financial manipulators who created the current mess will actually suffer financially. An open unregulated market is like fool’s gold, it looks nice on the outside, but once in close proximity, the ugliness and brutality surface and one is confronted by a giant shell game in which those who are in power will invariably win.

It is time to reconstitute capitalism to ensure close government regulation of the market. It is time to institute salary limits such as forbidding CEOs from earning more than 70 times the average wage in their industry. It is time for national health insurance paid for by the government. It is time for a minimum wage that really allows those on the bottom to earn decent wages so they can purchase goods and stimulate the economy. It is time to make unionization possible because unions always raise salaries and thus put more money into circulation in purchasing goods, not stocks. It is time for equity for women and other groups presently damaged by wage discrimination.

The United States government is becoming involved in ownership of businesses and homes. Perhaps, it is time to explore how such a situation can benefit the economy and marketplace.

UN Role Urged In Black Sea Region

In the aftermath of the Georgia situation, enior officials in Romania and Bulgaria urged the United Nations to assume a more prominent role in dealing with conflict in the Black Sea area. Bulgarian Prime Minister Segei Stanshev expressed concern about efforts to create the elements of democracy and peace in the region due to the influence of outside forces. “Should plans for a regional centre for UN mediation in the Western Balkan/Black Sea area meet approval by member states, Bulgaria stands ready to host it in Sofia and to facilitate it in every possible way.” Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu emphasized the importance of dealing with a region which contains important energy resources that are needed by many nations in Europe.

The fact smaller nations in the region are concerned about events in Georgia once again highlights mistakes of the Bush administration which so often makes any conflict one that the United States must resolve.

Annual Riot Season In Hungary

It is September and time for a riot in Hungary by neo-Nazis thugs who oppose the democratic nature of their nation. Several days ago, racist and anti-government slogans, shoes, and tear gas filled the air of Budapest as right wing groups clashed with forces of democracy and the government. The occasion was a protest by Roma organizations and that of the Democratic Charta which was directed against forces of racism in their society. The peaceful rally was addressed by government leaders like the prime minister and several founders of the “original” Democratic Charta which took part in the early fight for a democratic Hungary. Even as these groups peacefully expressed their view, right wing groups began assaulting the police and trying to damage a Soviet era memorial. This resulted in violence and the arrest of several people.

Hungary has never been able to reconcile a part of its past when there existed both a communist group and a Fascist group both of which helped to shape the emergence of a modern Hungary. The Soviet Union imposed a horrible era upon the people of Hungary, but it was also the force which ended the Fascist government which then ruled the nation and had allied with Hitler. Perhaps, it is time to confront the past and deal with all its pain in a more directed focus on education.