Monthly Archives: November 2008

Bollywood Goes Gay–Maybe?

The typical Bollywood film follows a distinctive story line in which the daring young man takes care of the bad guys and is rewarded with love of the decent young beautiful girl. In a sense, Bollywood is where Hollywood used to be in the wondrous days of the 1950 when heterosexual love was the only love in town. Suddenly, a slight cloud is appearing over the horizon in the film industry’s latest offering, “Dostana”(friendship), a film about two men who pretend to be a couple in which homosexuality(which is illegal in prudish, religious India) is a running theme. Ashok Row Kavi, a leading gay activist in India believes the film offers interesting possibilities. “I think the film does a lot for gays in a country where the word homosexual does not even exist for many people.”

As one reviews the history of gay rights in the United States, a role in changing attitudes stemmed from the movie and television industries which introduced gay and lesbian characters years before any politician would dare to even suggest any sort of concern for gay and lesbian rights. Perhaps, this first film to hint at homosexuality will herald in additional movie and television situations which become educating forces in altering traditional views.

Hugo Chavez Succeeds And Fails

Hugo Chavez assumed power in Venezuela with a unique opportunity to transform his nation into one in which a small group of wealthy people could no longer assert power into one in which all classes shared in governing the nation. However, his blind ambition for power and egocentric approach to leadership has created a sharp division within the country. In the latest elections, Chavez and his allies won most regional elections, but suffered losses in key areas such as Caracas, the capital. The opposition which consists of several parties increased its power base from two to five states including the populous and economically important Carabobo,Zulia, and Miranda. It not only captured the city hall of Caracas but also won a majority in some major slum areas.

Chavez insists the election is a mandate for socialism even though a significant portion of the population opposes that move. As one who believes in socialist principles, it is important in moving toward a socialist society to work with all segments of the population. Chavez has lost confidence of many young people including college students. Perhaps, it is time for a step back and a focus on developing and protecting democratic principles.

Asylum Seeker In UK Beaten By Security Forces

For over two hundred years Great Britain has been a sanctuary to those fleeing oppression and even refugees like Karl Marx were afforded a place of refuge on its shores. Anseime Noumbiwa, a refugee from the Cameroons, fled his country in search of escape from torture and brutality, but British immigration officials denied his claim for asylum. He was forced on a plane where upon resisting, security forces beat him in an effort to make him accept deportation. Fortunately, plane staff refused to allow him to be forced on the plane and he was returned. On the second attempt to force him to get on a plane, he was again beaten. When he was forced on an Air France plane, passengers intervened to prevent him from being sent to certain torture.

This is an incident about brutality toward a human who was being sent back to torture, but, unfortunately, it is not the first such case to come out of the UK in recent months. There have been several such incidents in which people were forcibly deported regardless of the risk to their lives. Certainly, this is not in the historic spirit of Great Britain as the home for those fleeing oppression.

Turkish Political Parties Get Interested In Alevi Vote

The Muslim Alevi minority in Turkey historically has been ignored due to its liberal views on religion which make it more akin a westernized liberal religion than a fundamentalist Muslim one. However, there is now renewed interest in a group that is estimated to constitute anywhere between six to twelve million people. The ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) and the opposition Republican People’s Party(MHP) have suddenly realized securing the Alevi vote could be critical in gaining a parliamentary majority. The Alevi want an end to compulsory religious classes in public schools, the abolishment of the Religious Affairs Directorate and recognition of their right to be a lawful religion and entitled to all privileges that go along with that designation. The AKP has now announced religious classes will no longer be mandatory in schools.

Recognition of the Alevi minority will be an important step forward in accepting the right of Muslims to hold liberal ideas and not be controlled by religious laws. In recognizing the Alevi, there is also recognition for all liberal minded Muslims.

Zimbabwe Blocks Visit Of Concerned Elders

The government of Zimbabwe denied the right of three concerned world leaders to visit their nation in order to ascertain the state of human rights. Former president Jimmy Carter, former UN head, Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, were told they were not welcome in the country which currently is experiencing a devastating famine and collapsed economy due to the incredible incompetency and brutality of the Mugabe government. After telling them they could not come, Foreign Affairs Minister Mumbengegwi said,” the government of Zimbabwe has not barred Mr. Annan and his team from coming to Zimbabwe” and accused Annan of misrepresenting the statement which said they could not enter the country.

The Zimbabwean government said it welcomes “all those of good will” which translates to mean all those who agree with the Mugabe version of what is happening in Zimbabwe. The three were denounced for holding a press conference in South Africa to demean a government which is responsible for a 2,000,000% inflation rate and has driven three million from the country and now has about five million who are threatened with starvation. The real problem facing their country according to Mugabe is “misrepresentation” by the evil three elders.

Piracy In The Twentieth First Century!

The ongoing violent actions of Somalia pirates is a symbol of the growing disintegration of stability in the world. The word “pirate” is for most people something associated with a past era that lives on mainly in motion pictures. However, recent ship seizures by Somalia pirates have created a new threat to world stability since their seizure of ships threatens to raise cost of oil and impact world economies. As world powers rushed ships to the troubled waters, hundreds of armed pirates entered the area prepared to resist any armed attack on those holding ships for ransom. Well armed Islamic forces are in the area and they could readily wipe out the pirates, but they apparently are turning away from action since it please their leaders to see western nations upset and confused.

The Islamist Shebab group which controls a large area of Somalia has repeatedly insisted it opposes all forms of piracy since they violate the Muslim religion. According to reports, Islamic soldiers are presently in the same area as the pirates but are not taking any action as western nations negotiate with the modern cut throats. Perhaps, it is time for an multinational armed force to take over the pirate area. Of course, it will never happen.

Cannabis Supply And Demand In Holland!

The old adage about if you can’t beat them, then join them, is being given an interesting experiment in Holland as the city of Eindhoven is suggesting a plan by which it would have a plantation to grown cannabis and then supply local coffee shops where the sale of such drugs is perfectly legal. The Netherlands has long been famous for its lax laws which allow for the possession of less than 5 grams of marijuana and its sale in coffee shops. Rob de Gijzel, mayor of Eindhoven says, “It’s time we experimented with a system of regulated plantations so we can have strict guidelines and control on the quality and price.”

There are concerns on the increasing strength of unregulated cannabis. There is hope a government controlled policy and ownership of cannabis will deal a death blow to criminal elements. Criminalizing human behavior never works.

UK Urges Obama To Focus On Iran Diplomacy

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, urged Barack Obama to support a policy which seeks to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms, but avoid use of military force to attain that goal. He made clear the “prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran poses the most immediate threat to stability” in the Middle East, and UN efforts to impose sanctions are not an attempt to overthrow the present Iranian government, but seeks to ensure peace in the region. “We are 100% committed to a diplomatic resolution of this dispute. We will work closely with the new US administration on this issue.” There has been concern for years the Bush administration might employ use of force to end Iran’s nuclear development program.

Miliband also made clear there is a growing fatigue about the ongoing never ceasing discussions between Israel and Palestinian leaders and they are “tiring of the conflict, they are also tiring faster of efforts to resolve it.” Perhaps, for the first time in decades most Arab nations are also tired of the ongoing conflict and ready to recognize Israel if they can obtain assurances the 1967 borders will be restored. It is time for all parties to reach a compromise. A compromise means each side must surrender some of its desires.

Is Finland An Armed Nation?

Tommi Nieminen did an investigative study for the Finnish newspaper, Sanomat, about the extent of guns in his nation. About 650,000 Finns in a nation of 5,000,000 have guns in their possession. About 1.2 million of the 1.6 million guns are legal hunting weapons and 200,000-300,000 are legal handguns. HIs investigation found police officials confused after the two serious school shootings that took place in the past year. There is no national register of who has guns and it is difficult for local police officials to keep track as to who has a weapon. During the latest shooting, the young man actually was in a police station discussing his gun before he was sent away.

Niminen talked with dozens of gun dealers who know customers have assault weapons, hand grenades, and other lethal fire arms that are not registered with the police. There is no way to check the medical history of an applicant for a weapon and in most small towns and villages the local police chief allows people he knows to readily obtain a fire arm.

The issue is not whether a person should be allowed to use a rifle for hunting, but whether it is permissible to own lethal weapons that have nothing to do with hunting or self defense.

Bush Administration Always Blames Russia

The Bush administration continues insisting any problems between the United States and Russia are entirely the fault of the Medvedev-Putin government. There was hostility towards Russia as a result of the war in Georgia, but most NATO nations are anxious to resume working with the Russian government rather than continuing hostility. The Bush administration, however, insists, “it is difficult for us to go back to business as usual, since the Russian military did actually attack another country. It’s hard when you have Russian troops in another country against its will.” This is the Bush view of reality, but, unfortunately, it is not reality.

As we recall, Georgian troops invaded South Ossetia and the Russians responded. As we recall, Russia offered to have missile bases installed in its land instead of having missile bases built in Poland against non-existant enemies, The Bush administration has constantly raised fears in Russia about its security. The Medvedev-Putin alliance has not restored democracy to Russia, but raising fears only allows them more freedom to deny basic democratic rights to opponents.