Monthly Archives: September 2008

Admiral Mullen Predicts Future Incidents With Pakistan

Even as Admiral Mike Mullen was telling a Pentagon press conference on Friday that he has received assurances from Pakistani military leaders there would not be any further firing on American soldiers or helicopters, the Pakistan army was firing on American forces. “I’ve been given assurances by the senior military leadership in Pakistan that that there is certainly no intent or plan to fire on our forces.” For some reason Pakistani promises did not filter down to their troops who are stationed on the border of Afghanistan. Mullen insists both sides do communicate and draw away when each comprehends the situation, but American concerns about the growing power of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in tribal regions tend to take precedence over agreements with Pakistan.

At the core of current problems is lack of any comprehensive strategy on how to conduct the war in Afghanistan. Bush failure to maintain a high military presence in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 allowed the insurgency a new lease on life and since that date it has grown ever more powerful. But, American over reliance on military action is not working. No plan to deal with infrastructure needs of Afghanistan are in place nor are work projects such as rebuilding roads and bridges or bringing electricity to rural areas in place. Lack of work opportunities results in high unemployment rates at a time when the Taliban can pay decent wages to anyone who wants to fight the “occupiers.”

Myanmar Junta Still Repulsive

Armed police in trucks patrolled Yangon’s streets as fearful Burmese who last year had participated in protests against the government remained in their homes to avoid once again being brutalized by their leaders. A spokesperson Myanmar’s pro-Democratic party said fear reigns in his nation and few would even dare to pray at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. According to Nyan Win of the National League of Democracy(NLD) said: “People are frightened now because of the bomb blast yesterday. I do not think protests like last year will happen again because of the security.”

Despite last year’s protests, the military junta which rules the nation has no intention of giving into forces of democracy. Leaders of the NLD have been told by police to avoid making provocative statements or face the consequences that arise when people oppose the government. There are reports dozens of democratic leaders have been arrested in recent months.

Right Wingers Woo Austrian Nation

Austria was birthplace to several key Nazi leaders such as Adolf Hitler but these days it simply finds comfort in poor imitations of the glory days of Nazism. Jorg Haider and his former protege, Heinz-Christian Strache, are vying with one another in an effort to gain political power in their nation. Haider’s party gained 42% of the vote in the state of Carintha and now has cast eyes on the national scene where it hopes to become a major player in the future of Austria. He is leading the “Aliance for Austria’s Future”(BZO) which he hopes will gain several seats in Sunday’s election for parliament. Most Austrians are fed up with center groups that now control the government and which have failed to generate excitement in what can be the future of their nation.

The Social Democrats which historically have represented itself as a champion of human rights have now joined the chorus of anti-immigrant rhetoric. However, the Haider Alliance for Austria and Strache’s Austrian Freedom Party may well capture enough votes to either lead the government or help determine its composition and policies. Perhaps, the biggest mystery is can two men who share similar ideas share in creating a government?

Zimbabwe Tragedy Becomes A Human Disaster

President Mugabe has presided over among the worse administrations of government in the world which transformed a nation that was considered to possess a vibrant economy and now is regarded as a basket case of horror. Children in Zimbabwe are eating rats and inedible roots riddled with toxic parasites in order to stave off hunger. The organization, Save The Children, says unless food is sent to Zimbabwe “the rising malnutrition and the rise in diseases are going to mean that children will die and we have to act fast.” The United Nations estimates close to five million people are in need of food due to the collapse of their nation’s economy and poor harvests.

Sarah Jacobs of Save the Children, says the roots being eaten have no nutritional value but also contain a parasite which is toxic. People are eating anything they can find, and that includes children catching rats in their huts which become meals. The situation is so dire that teachers have to scrounge for food and are unable to teach.

In the meantime, President Mugabe’s main concern is which Cabinet positions he can control in order to avoid the opposition of pursuing actions that impair his power. For the mentally sick president of Zimbabwe, the bottom line is always power and the possession of it.

Yemen, The Prototype Of Why Terrorism Emerges

The editorial staff of the Yemen Times examined reasons why their nation has been home to so many terrorists in the world. They point out forty years ago, three issues dominated their nation– poverty, illiteracy, and disease, but the ensuing decades did not witness any of them being addressed by the government. Although, oil was discovered, nothing was ever done to stimulate other industries or to transform farms into modern successful enterprises. Infrastructure needs such as roads, electricity and water were ignored even though efforts to develop these aspects of society would have created jobs and stimulated education. Of the 23 million people, only about one-fourth live in cities and the remainder are in small villages and rural areas.

“Most Yemenis are not educated, particularly the women. Their daily life rotates around the field, their children and local social activities. They have no means to education, especially beyond the basic level” and women have scant opportunities to escape the vicious cycle of poverty and ignorance. There is only a mediocre healthcare system so most people rely on traditional medical care approaches that date back hundreds of years.

The editors raise the issue as to what has happened to the oil money. Why hasn’t it been channelled back into society or addressing needs for economic development? Failure to develop a sound education system and economic opportunities result in young men who have no prospects and thus become attracted to voice of violence. Yemen is not rule, not the exception. How many hundreds of millions of Saudi Arabia money has gone into developing religious schools which don’t even teach modern science? When will Saudis awake to the reality their failure to work with nations such as Yemen is the reason why terrorism is found in the world.

Do Something Different In Afghanistan Says Petraeus

Seven years ago, American troops invaded Afghanistan working with tribal opponents of the Tallban and destroyed the fundamentalist regime. The world witnessed scenes of joyous Afghanis who welcomed the overthrow of the repressive Taliban and it was clear support for the fundamentalists was at a low point. As the Taliban fled, American troops did not pursue Osama bin Laden but allowed the al-Qaeda leader to gain safety in the mountainous regions on the border of Pakistan. During the ensuing years little was done by American forces to train, equip, and allow an Afghan army to assume responsibility for dealing with militants. Little was done to invest billions in creating jobs for Afghans by building an infrastructure or assisting farmers to develop crops other than poppy fields.

Yesterday, General Petraeus said a “comprehensive approach” is needed to deal with the war in Afghanistan. He believes it is necessary to reconcile with the Afghan population and work with Pakistan on border issues. Petraeus insists coalition and allied forces must be seen as “liberators,” not occupiers. But, they once had that reputation and lost it. Isn’t it time for Bush to take responsibility for losing the war in Afghanistan, after all, he claims he won the war in Iraq!

Indonesia Debates Meaning Of Pornography

Indonesian feminist and human rights groups are concerned at proposed legislation which defines pornography in an open ended manner that could result in making those who fight pornography be charged with advocating it. Article 1 of the proposed legislation defines pornography as any sexual reference exhibited as a drawing, sketch, illustration, photograph, motion picture, animation, cartoon poetry, conversation or any form of communication. the broad strokes of the legislation could be interpreted as allowing those who write poetry or pictures of females being defined as examples of pornography.

If a nation defines pornography as entailing displaying pictures of women it opens the pandora’s box of what exactly can be portrayed of the female body. Who defines if one picture is pornographic or not? The legislation apparently places such power in the hands of government bureaucrats. That is always a dangerous position if the object is to protect human and female rights.

German Leader Warns Against Georgia In NATO

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder warned NATO against allowing Georgia to enter the body because it might result in growing disputes with Russia that eventually could lead to war. He also expressed concern over President Saakashvili who he believes is an “unpredictable” leader if events concluded in tense relations with NATO and Russia. Schroder expressed shock at the one sided approach to the Georgia situation by NATO and President Bush indicating there was scant consideration for the interests or concerns of Russia. The German political leader was concerned that at some point failure to conduct foreign policy which took into account the Russian perspective could result in German soldiers becoming involved in the wrong war at the wrong time.

Schroder expressed the view of anyone who has followed the Georgia situation and been cognizant of Russian fears and concerns. The Bush approach of threats and constructing missile bases on the border of Russia reflects a provocative approach.

Nativist Australian Bigots Oppose Muslim School

A large Islamic school was planned for a rural area outside of Sydney, but it has come into opposition from nativist residents who simply do not want Muslims in their area of the nation. The proposed primary and secondary school is designed to house about 600 Muslim students but neighbors are adamant they do not want the building. An online forum, www.australianidentity.net, open declares that “views, ideas and contributions that are hostile to (an Anglo-Celtic-European-white heritage) are not permitted on it received several postings about the proposed school. Darrin Hodges, of the Australian Protectionist Party, made clear “I will oppose mosques, sex-shops and any developments that undermine Australia’s traditional and family values.”

Ali Roude of the Islamic Council, points out there have been other schools that were built in the area without any parent opposition, and “it would appear that the real concerns and oppositions from locals has little to do with the merit of the project but more to do with general anti-Muslim sentiments.” Bigotry always uncovers a way to deny to minorities what is readily provided for those in the majority. It is the story of humankind.

Bush-America Sends Nuclear War Ships To Japan!

The dispatch of an American naval vessel to Japan is not in itself any major item which should be reported by the media, but one can never be surprised by President Bush’s incompetent foreign policy decisions. The USS George Washington arrived at its new home in the Japanese seaport of Yokosuka where it was met by hundreds of shouting protestors. The aircraft carrier is nuclear-powered and is the first such vessel to be harbored in Japan. American Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, said it was “altogether fitting that a ship bearing the name of one of the greatest Americans” should be protecting the Japanese people. Of course, the fact it is nuclear powered does not strike the American government as somewhat insensitive to the people of Japan who are the only nation in the world to be subjected to an atomic bomb attack.

American and Japanese diplomats can pontificate about the importance of having a naval presence in Japan, but surely there were non-nuclear powered ships that could serve the function of affording protection.