Monthly Archives: November 2008

“Afghan Awakening” With Dollars!

The British have decided to steal a page from the successful “Awakening Councils” program in Iraq which used paying money and arming Sunni groups in order to wean away from al-Qaeda a large segment of the Iraqi Sunni population. Britain plans to pay tribal elders in Helmand province monthly cash “bribes” as part of a controversial “Afghan Awakening” scheme to persuade tribes to turn against the Taliban. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband met with President Karzai to discuss the idea and then flew to Helmand province in order to get officers on the scene to participate in the proposed plan. There are reports several tribes in the northwest region of Pakistan are being paid to fight against al-Qaeda.

There are several aspects to the program such as will it result in some tribal leaders becoming wealthy or will the money be shared with large segments of the population in order to fund a mass movement against the Taliban? In Afghanistan men of fighting age identify with local elder village leaders and if this group can be won over, it will help to fight militants. An important aspect of the program is extending the power of the Afghan government in areas where their influence is meager.

Russian Activist Murdered By Politicians

Defense attorneys for investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, claimed she was killed based on orders from a Russian politician. The lawyers cited court documents to pinpoint a Russian politician who was living in Russia. The murder was an attempt to halt the reporter from continuing her investigation into corruption and political manipulation within Russia. Murat Musayev, said based on his reading of court documents, “it says the person doesn’t live abroad, but is here in Russia. But, there is no name.” Russian officials had charged she was killed by exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky who was attempting to discredit then President Putin. There is absolutely no evidence such a plot existed.

There is no question anymore Anna Politkovskaya was killed by someone inside the Russian government in an attempt to stifle her investigative journalism. This is not surprising given Putin’s dislike of any opposing viewpoints.

Zimbabwe Crisis Reaches Critical Level

Initially, weeks went by without any action on the part of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to reach out to his opponent and carry out the agreement to share power. Months have gone by without any effort on his part to deal with the humanitarian crisis which now envelops his nation as thousands already are dead due to cholera. Millions are on the verge of starvation but this man who claims he is the father of his nation refuses to budge an inch and allow competent officials to assume responsibility for ending the crisis. Mugabe fears honest officials will uncover the criminal actions of his underlings who used their power to gain control over large sectors of the farm land and then run the farms into the ground.

The Movement for Democratic Change charges “the situation on the ground in the country has reached a critical level.” The country is nearing massive starvation but Mugabe will not surrender any power. Such is the way of a man claiming to be “father of his country.”

Domestic Violence Against Turkish Women

The Turkish Compassion Association(Sefkat-Der) has interviewed over 9,000 women who were subject to domestic violence and prepared a report on findings of the study. The report indicates there are several basic reasons Turkish men will use physical violence against their wives–not engaging in sexual activity, gaining weight, inability to bear children or falling to give birth to a male child, getting ill without husband permission, cooking, failing to iron clothes on time, leaving the house without permission, and several other terrible crimes such as not turning over her pay check to the king of the house. These aggrieved men invariably resort to physical violence ranging from use of fists to canes to belts in order to prove they are the master of the domain and the woman belongs to him.

Women told interviewers they were particularly upset when violence took place in front of the children or their relatives. Some women wish men could receive the same punishment they inflict on women or, at least, be subject to some form of official sanction by authorities. A recent study on domestic violence by professors Ayse Gul Altinay and Yesim Arat claims as high as one out of three Turkish women is the object of domestic violence.

Nothing Wrong In WWII Insist Some Japanese Leaders!

Over a half century has passed since the end of World War II, but some Japanese leaders continue insisting their nation did nothing wrong by invading China or attacking the United States. This month, General Tosho Tamogami was fired for an essay in wrote in which Japan is the innocent victim and the United States and China are the culprits in World War II. According to the general, the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was a trap set the by the Americans and Japan’s brutal invasion of China which resulted in the death of over four million Chinese really wasn’t that bad. Japanese peace activists are shocked by the essay because it reveals there are still many people who work hard to justify murder, brutalization, and aggression. A recent film, “We Won’t Forget” portrays the Japanese nation as being forced to invade China, kill millions, and attack the United States.

It would be beneficial for Japanese educators to study from German educators who have developed extensive programs to teach their children the truth about Nazism and its brutality. German students learn about the Holocaust unlike Japanese students who do not learn about the killing and raping by Japanese soldiers in Nanking. Perhaps, the Japanese government should invite German educators to assist their school system in developing educational programs that do not justify war and brutality. In the end, the truth is the best weapon to prevent future wars.

Hamas And Abbas Still Not Talking

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Hamas he would call elections early next year if the rival movement does not open reconciliation with him. At present, Abbas is in control of parts of the West Bank and other areas in Palestine while Hamas is in charge of the Gaza Strip. Hamas rejected his call for talks and compromise since they fear an election might result in their defeat. Hamas never was elected to control the Gaza area since they took power in a coup d’etat. Earlier this month this was an attempt to hold conciliation talks with Egypt serving as a mediator but Hamas canceled their appearance at the sessions.

Hamas currently has a majority in the Palestinian legislature but it is uncertain if that would hold up in a new election. Many Palestinians desire a compromise with Israel but that is hampered by constant rocket attacks from the Gaza strip. Hamas insists Abbas wants to work a deal with Israel and Hamas rejects such a solution. It is completely unclear exactly how Hamas plans to end the stalemate and get a Palestinian state.

Should Dutch Cannabis Coffee Shops Be Closed?

Mayors in several Dutch towns have decided to close down coffee shops which cater to foreigners in search of a nice quiet place to enjoy a smoke of the weed. The mayors are upset because thousands of foreigners flock to these coffee shops and supposedly create a nuisance by purchasing coffee or cannabis. The decision comes in the midst of demands by over thirty Dutch mayors for the right to grow cannabis under control of local authorities and sell the weed to the coffee shops in order to break the grip of criminals who control the growing and distribution of the weed. According to Mayor Gerd Leers of Maastricht, closing down coffee shops will not halt the smoking of cannabis, but it “will only lead to more crime.”

The Dutch are more progressive than most societies in the western world by allowing controlled smoking of cannabis. It is only logical for the government to take control of growing the product and supervising its placement in coffee shops. Let the foreigners come as they wish, it is good for business and makes for happier human beings in the world.

HS Fight Clubs For Real-Not In Movies

A motion picture depicted an adult fight club in which men fought one another in order to display their athletic prowess, but, as is so often in real life, impressionable youth assume the task of aping the behavior of their elders. There are reports that students at the John Forrest Senior High School in Australia have organized a fight club and are displaying their abilities on YouTube. Viewers of YouTube report there are images of young boys fighting one another as other students cheer them on. In itself, this is simply another story about young people who engage with the world they know– YouTube and movies rather than engage with the world that exists– their daily lives.

Education Minister said she expected a “blow by blow report” on the matter apparently unaware of the symbolic words she uttered. The world of youth today is no more violent than that of the past, but these days the entire world can see madness of youth, not just those in the immediate neighborhood.

Killing Militants Is Not The Answer!

For seven years the Bush administration has pursued a policy in Afghanistan of killing “militants” on the assumption if you kill enough of them the others will disappear. A few days ago, another US missile strike killed British militant who was linked to a jetliner bombing plot. Every time a US missile strike in Pakistan kills a militant, there are protests by Pakistanis against American military action on their soil. The Pakistan government insists these constant missile strikes may kill some militants but they also undermine the authority of the nation’s government and play into the hands of militants who wish to overthrow the democratically elected leaders and install a fundamentalist Islamic government.

There is not question some militants are being killed, but will that result in a change within al-Qaeda or the Taliban. A strategy based on killing leaders is doomed to failure because it is in the nature of a domestic movement for other leaders to emerge. Killing militants without a program of financial support to create a modern Pakistan education system or to stimulate jobs and economic growth will only result in dead militants and a dead society that is ripe to be overthrown by followers of the dead militants.

Olmert Praises Bush For Bringing Peace To Middle East!

It is the end of the Bush era and his friends undoubtedly feel the need to make some pleasant remarks to the president about his efforts over the past few years. In his farewell comments to Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, claimed the United States had helped to create the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel and Palestinian conflict and had ensured that peace was furthered in the Middle East. Perhaps, Prime Minister Olmert is trapped in a time warp, but does he really believe the Middle East in 2008 is more peaceful and secure than it was in 2001? “I’m sure that history books,” he said, “will be written the contribution that you made to the safety and security of many people will be greatly appreciated.”

History books are written by intelligent people who carefully study what happened in order to uncover a sense of reality. Any competent historian already knows George Bush brought terrorism to the Middle East and created chaos in Iraq and other nations of the region. Perhaps, Olmert forgets, former President Bill Clinton proposed a two state solution in 2000 that was more advanced and advantageous to Palestinians than anything that has emerged from the Bush era. If Arafat had accepted that proposal there would be a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.