Monthly Archives: December 2008

Putin May Not Be So Popular Next Year

Vladmir Putin has been regarded by most Russians as their savior from the horrors of the kleptocracy which enveloped their nation in the aftermath of the downfall of the Soviet Union. He appeared to bring a sense of stability and organization even though it came at the destruction of the vibrant 1990s Russian democracy. But, Father Vladmir did not have many presents to leave under the trees of Russians this Christmas as millions are feeling the impact of an economic slowdown. Motorists lifted anti-Putin signs as they protested constantly rising inflation and the erosion of their purchasing power. Latest polls reveal at least 75% of Russians believe unemployment will increase and one-fourth said they either had been laid off, took pay cuts or had delays in being paid.

The Putin decision to impose higher import duties infuriated millions of Russians who want to buy foreign cars. As hundreds of thousands of Russian workers face being laid off, the anger will continue building. Perhaps, one good outcome of the crisis will be realization on the part of the Russian people they need opposition parties to challenge the current government and they will demonstrate against changes which are designed to place Putin in power for years to come.

This may not be the most joyous Noel for Father Putin, but it may be for the birth of a new democracy in Russia.

Hamas Gets Wish–Death And Destruction

Hamas leaders finally have obtained their wish–death and destruction reigned down on Gaza as over a hundred people were killed in Israel air strikes including dozens of security personnel along with dozens of innocent civilians. Hamas has been daring the Israel government for weeks to attack Gaza and threatening to cause havoc on any invasion on the assumption it could damage Israel forces in the same way as did Hizbullah in Lebanon. Unfortunately, for Hamas and the civilian population of Gaza, there are no mountain defenses to offer protection against Israel air attacks. It is estimated about 120 people were killed and more than 250 were wounded as Israel planes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza.

Hamas got what it wanted. Its nonstop rocket attacks provoked an air attack that resulted not only in the death of security personnel, but of innocent civilians. Hamas leaders knew it was impossible for an Israel government on the eve of elections to allow their nation to be subjected to rocket attacks without responding. Hamas promised retaliation in the form of more rocket attacks and suicide bombers. “Hamas will continue resistance until the last drop of blood.” Of course, it is unclear if the last drop of blood means Hamas leaders or Gaza civilians.

This blog supports the Palestinian right to the West Bank and the right of Palestinians to their own nation. We believe the wall separating Israel from Arab areas must be torn down. But, Hamas policies of resorting to rocket attacks have demolished the arguments of Palestinians they seek peace through peaceful means. No nation can allow its civilians to be bombed without doing something. Once again, Hamas has damaged forces of peace in Israel by its blunders and inept policies.

Chinese Migrants Head Home

The ripple effects of America’s economic distress continue to impact regions throughout the world. During the madness of the Bush administration which encouraged a binge of buying accompanied by huge tax cuts for the wealthy which resulted in ever higher budget deficits, Americans welcome the arrival of inexpensive goods from China while ignoring they were paying for the imports with money borrowed from China. The economic slowdown in America is causing many Chinese factories to close down or to reduce the work force. This has resulted in millions of rural Chinese farmers who migrated to urban areas in search of work being compelled to return to their rural homes. Eight million migrant workers from central China’s Henan province returned home before the spring festival, a figure that is one million higher than last year.

Most of these returning migrants do not wish to return to the life of a farmer since they prefer city living. Chinese officials report this province alone has 32 million surplus laborers and most of the returning migrants have come home due to economic conditions, not because they want to resume a rural existence. The Chinese government may have a demographic time bomb on its hand which could explode at any time. Unfortunately, for China, the American people will not quickly return to their former lives of living off credit cards.

British Tourists Warned To Avoid Drink In Muslim Areas

The British government has warned tourists to be careful of their behavior while vacationing in Muslim nations and to be particularly concerned about excessive drinking or public displays of affection. Women are being advised to dress in a modest manner and not to display warm affection for a male while walking the streets of Muslim nations. Due to the economic crisis a large number of British tourists are avoiding European Union areas and seeking out vacation spots where the pound has a bigger bang. The number of visitors to Egypt this year has increased by 38% and to Turkey by 32%. The Foreign Office last year dealt with the cases of 75,000 British tourists abroad who encountered problems with local authorities. In a recent case of two British tourists in Dubai they were arrested for having sex on the beach or at least what local officials termed “sex.”

Of course, if the British are seeking vacation spots where affection, kissing, and sex are welcomed, there are always nice places in the world such as San Francisco which welcome those who want a free sex life. Hop on a plane for the good old USA, the land of economic plight where your pound will produce a lot of bucks.

Santa Israel Delivers Goods To Gazans

Israel reopened the border crossings into Gaza in a last minute attempt by its government to prevent the escalation of violence caused by constant rocket attacks from Hamas forces in the strip. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he authorized the opening of the crossings for “essential humanitarian supplies” in response to requests from the international community. It is reported about 90 trucks loaded with grain, fuel, and other goods have entered Gaza. On Wednesday, Hamas fired about 80 rockets into Israel as the so-called “truce” between its forces and Israel ended earlier this week. Prime Minister Olmert made clear this was a last minutes attempt to avoid war and if Hamas continued with its bombing it risked the prospect of an Israel invasion of the area and the death of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians.

Israel may decide on a step-by-step escalation of use of its armed forces in Gaza in order to avoid a major operation. Hamas is beguiled by the fight put up in Lebanon by Hizbullah and believes it can perform a similar success in Gaza. Hizbullah had mountains in which to hide and use in defending themselves against the Israel armed forces. Gaza is flat and open to a tank attack. Hopefully, calmer minds in Hamas will lead to discussions rather than to rockets.

Tension On Pakistan-India Border

The failure on the part of India and Pakistan to work in a cooperative manner in order to deal with the aftermath of the Mumbai tragedy has only led to increasing fear and anxiety on the part of both sides. Pakistan has deployed thousands of its troops to the border with India which has caused a dramatic rise in tension in southeast Asia. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summoned his military chiefs to review the situation and an advisory was sent to Indians to avoid traveling to Pakistan. The situation has caused relations between the two nations to plummet to the lowest level in years. There are reports Pakistan troops are being shifted from the Northwest region where they have been confronting the Taliban and al-Qaeda to the Indian border. There are also reports India has canceled leave for its troops.

It is time for Pakistan to deal with its secret service, the notorious ISI which most probably had a role in assisting those who engaged in the raid on Mumbai. The ISI has been funding anti-Indian militants for years and it must be brought under control if India is to be reassured that Pakistan is serious about dealing with those militants. Pakistan also has to cease their silly comments that evidence is lacking the Mumbai terrorists came from their nation. Pray tell, where did they come from?

The world is facing a potential nuclear holocaust. George Bush can not be blamed for every problem in the world, but his idiotic invasion of Iraq set the stage for the growth of dangerous Islamic groups.

Why Are Army Recruiters Committing Suicide?

Spc. 1st class Patrick henderson was an Iraq combat veteran who spent the last few months of his life as an Army recruiter which entailed cold calling dozens of people each day in an effort to sign up young men and women to serve in an increasingly unpopular war. If he complained about the 13 hour work days or the difficulties trying to persuade young people to join the armed forces, his superiors snarled back that Sgt. Henderson should be grateful he was in the United States and not serving in Iraq. Less than a year doing the recruiting, the sergeant went into his backyard shed and hung himself. He became at age 35 the fourth member of the Army’s Houston Recruiting Battalion to commit suicide in the past three years. His wife, Sgt. Amanda Henderson commented in despair: “Over there in Iraq, you’re doing this high-intensive job you are recognized for. Then, you come back here and one month you’re a hero, one month later you’re a loser because you didn’t put anyone in.”

There are 38 Army recruiting battalions and only one other surpasses Henderson’s in the number of suicide deaths. His mother said her son never complained but felt his work just sucked and he felt like a complete failure. Paul Rieckhoff, of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said recruiting “is arguably the toughest job in the military” and the recruiters are constantly under great stress.

Sgt. Henderson saw extensive combat during his tour in Iraq and witnessed the death of several friends. However, once back home in the safety of America he was under constant pressure to produce and had to account for every minute of his time and face complaints he had not recruited enough young men and women. Is this the way American treats its brave men and women?

Czechs Divided On Human Rights

A recent poll revealed the Czech people have rather limited interest in issues of human rights within their own society although they wish their government took a vigorous stand in dealing with human rights in the world. A mere eight percent of respondents believe the Czech Republic should do more to maintain the human rights of minorities in the nation. Those conducting the survey were shocked at the lack of interest in issues such as the rights of Roma citizens who face discrimination and persecution on a daily basis. Few people appear concerned about recent right wing extremist attacks on Romas in the city of Litvinov. As one Amnesty International official commented: “This is one of the most urgent human rights issues in our country, but there is only silence on the part of Czech officials.

Perhaps, the history of being part of a multicultural nation impacts the thinking of Czech people. Most witnessed the end of the multicultural nation of Czechoslovakia and apparently those in the Czech Republic do not appear to be disappointed the nation divided into separate ethnic and cultural groups. In the meantime, minorities such as the Roma daily encounter repression and denial of human rights.

Although, Czech people appear to support human rights in a general way, a recent poll indicates this issue no longer has the importance it once held in the nation. The poll reveals ordinary citizens believe their government should be concerned about human rights in the world outside but only a small percent are concerned about human rights issues in their own nation. Those who conducted the survey were distressed at the low number of people who supported minority rights such as those of Roma citizens. An Amnesty International spokesperson commented, “it’s a negative trend, and it’s worrying” coming after right wing bigots clashed with police while trying to drive out Romas from their community.

Of course, Czech citizens once were part of a multicultural nation that was torn asunder over issues of rights and this might impact their rather cool attitude toward dealing with minority issues in their own country. Amnesty International officials noted the lack of interest or concern with plight of the homeless in the Czech Republic. Of course, a higher percent of homeless come from minority groups and this might account for the limited interest in the topic.

Chirac’s Vietnamese Daughter Denounces Racism

The adopted daughter of former French President Jacques Chirac sharply condemned violence against people of Asian heritage in France. She was upset because the deaths of two Asian women who were stabbed and left on the streets appeared to be of slight interest to the polcie or the media. Anh Dao Traxel was adopted by the Chirac family when she arrived in he 1978 exodus of “boat people” and has spent most of her life in France. She demanded a thorough police inquiry into what she termed as blatant racism. “i am very shocked. These young women were killed like dogs.” The two women were found in the central district of Paris in the 11th district, an area with a large immigrant population as well as fashionable bars and nightclubs. “The French political class and the media should not be silent. They should react with the same energy as when the victims are Jewish, North African Arabs or Africans.”

She believes the crimes were racist in nature and is upset at the lack of interest in such crimes against Asians by her nation’s media. She is also upset that President Sarkozy is not more angry at violence against those of Asian backgrounds.

The police have promised to conduct an inquiry.

Arab League Urges Middle Eastern Discussions

The head of the Arab League emphasized the need for nations of the Middle East to come together and discuss with Iran current issues arising from the fear of nuclear weapons in the region. Amr Moussa said most Sunni Arab nations are worried about Shiite Iran using its power to influence events within the area which has resulted in rising tension as nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia prepare for what they consider to be an Iranian power grab. “The time has come for an Arab-Iranian dialogue which should include all issues,” he said. “We have differences and problems but these can be solved because Iran is an important country.” Moussa warned Middle Eastern nations should not allow outside powers to meet with Iran to deal with problems in the region since those decisions belong to the Arab people.

Moussa appeared to support the idea proposed by Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khaifa to create a regional organization that would include all Arab nations, Turkey, Iran and Israel. This is a sensible idea because those countries are most impacted by events in the region and should make decisions, and not allow European and Americans to decide the fate of the Middle East.