Monthly Archives: April 2009

Army Recruiters And Youth

The debate concerning to what extent military recruiters should have access to high school youth continues as Congress considers changes in the No Child Left Behind law which compels high schools to give the military access to names and addresses. Rep. Mike Honda wants the law changed to require parental permission before a child’s name and phone number is released to military recruiters. “Parents have an obligation and right to control their children’s private information,” noted the congressman. On the other hand, some argue if schools receive money from the federal government they should provide access to military recruiters. This is apple and orange type thinking. If schools receive money from the Department of Education they have an obligation to provide that federal department with information, but why does it require allowing other areas of the government access?

A few years ago I talked with military recruiters who were near Brooklyn College. They were frank when saying they only went to high schools in disadvantaged areas and did not go near a high ranking high school. Honda’s suggestion is fair and restores to parents control over information about their children without denying military access to schools.

Can Ms. Universe Be Skin And Bones?

A controversy has arisen over a finalist in the Ms. Universe contest because of her weight. Ms. Stephanie Naumoska, an entry from Australia, weighs 49kg which is well under the World Health Organization’s benchmark for malnutrition. The controversy emerged when images of the model parading in a bikini revealed her ribs and pelvic bones protruding. Ordinarily, individuals with healthy BMI do not have such protruding bones.

Ms. Naumoska insists that she eats six or seven meals a day. But, for some reason the food goes in, does not remain and departs in a blink. She certainly is not a role model for young girls who worry about their body weight and certainly don’t need a skinny woman winning any contests.

Need A Job– Hop Over To Denmark!

The government of Denmark has decided to institute a program of enticing foreign students to live and work in their nation due to the declining number of qualified people in the labor market. Science Minister Heige Sander announced plans to offer grants to top international students who would come to Denmark to study if they agreed to remain and become part of the work force. “We have to make it more interesting to foreign students to come to Denmark. We would like to introduce labor market scholarships to the most qualified students from China and the United States, for example.” As part of this effort more courses taught in English would become part of Danish university offerings.

The reality is a declining population in many parts of Europe due to low birth rates so it is inevitable that highly qualified educated people from other societies would be offered opportunities to fill the gap left by low population increases.

Sweden Knew About CIA Rendition

The Swedish government knew that CIA planes were carrying prisoners on their way to secret detention centers where they were to be interrogated. Swedish defense forces conducted secret surveillance operations in 2005 that monitored American planes at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. “The assignment to carry out this operation came from the Defense Ministry to the defense forces” according to sources. They were following up on information that the CIA was using so-called rendition flights to force people out of the USA against their will. Swedish army forces confirmed the accuracy of these reports.

Swedish army sources say they inspected the planes but would not comment beyond that comment. The planes undoubtedly contained men in chains who were obviously not passengers on a plane. The American nation must have an investigation into the entire process of torture to redeem its honor as a society.

Sri Lanka Tragedy Leads To Civilian Deaths

The long civil war which has caused so much death and destruction in Sri Lanka is over. The Tamil Tigers are trapped in a narrow stretch of the northeast portion of the island and are literally fighting for their lives against overwhelming force. Unfortunately, thousands of innocent civilians are caught in the Sri Lanka vise which tightens every day. Artillery continues to pound the encircled area and the UN is pleading for a cease fire in order to allow civilians to flee. The current UN estimate is over six thousand civilians have been killed. However, the Sri Lanka government is exhausted after years of war and death so it intends to go on until their enemy is completely crushed. There is no forgiveness in this government.

India has now become concerned because refugees are fleeing to their shores in search of refuge. The government of India has insisted there must be an immediate cessation of hostilities but it is doubtful their voice will change anything.

Canadian PM Rejects Court Order On Khadr Release

The ongoing saga of Omar Khadr continues since Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to obey a court order which demanded that Canada ensure the release of the young man from the prison at Guanatanamo Bay. Federal Court Justice James O’Reilly said Canada had denied the Toronto born Khadr his constitutional rights to a fair trial as well as violating international law protecting children captured in an armed conflict. Khar was a teenager when captured by American soldiers in Afghanistan. O’Reilly emphasized that “Canada had a duty to protect Mr. Khadr from being subjected to any torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The prime minister told Parliament he would continue looking into the matter but refused to take any positive action.

A nation does not get to pick and choose which of its citizens it will protect. Khadr was a fifteen year old boy when captured in 2002 and he has now been in prison for seven years. Judge O’Reilly pointed out that America flouted international law by not providing “special status as a minor” when they captured the young boy. This is simply another sad story in the ongoing saga of Bush’s violation of international law.

France Closes Migrant Camp in Calais

It is estimated that right now over two hundred million people are refugees in some country other than the one in which they were born. All over the world, refugees huddle in camps seeking ways to enter a nation or just sit in bewilderment hoping that someone will come to their aid. The French government announced it was closing a large migrant camp located in the Calais region which is the hop off point for refugees fleeing to England. The “jungle” as the camp is known sprang up after France closed a large Red Cross center in nearby Sangatte. Immigration Minister Eric Besson told local businessmen in Calais, “the jungle will no longer exist. To maintain develop the junble would be an obstacle to economic interests and employment.” Human rights activists simply noted that refugees would simply find another empty area and create a new jungle, which undoubtedly in turn will be demolished.

Migrant camps are a symbol of frustration and lack of employment in many parts of the world. Until economically advanced nations can develop the basis for economic growth there will be an endless construction and destruction of camps. Local residents complain about criminal behavior but poor people invariably when times get difficult have to find some way to gain money for the necessities of life.

Democratic Iran, Land Of Peace Angry At UN

Iran regards itself as a land in which there is true democracy and people enjoy freedoms unknown in the western world. But, for some reason, other nations do not regard Iran which persecutes Bahais and Kurds as a model for democracy. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas but is furious when other nations do not realize Iran fights for peace by engaging in war. The Iranian government warmed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon against “double standards” after he deplored anti-Israel statements from President Ahmadinejad. Ban had deplored the Iranian’s use of the conference platform to “accuse, divide and even incite.” In the view of Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammed Khazaee his boss can say anything he wants, incite any hate he desires and it is the duty of the UN to accept his speeches without comment. Now, if an Israeli attacked Iranian diplomats that is another issue.
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Iran has turned a conference into a circus by focusing on a single nation. It would have been impressive if Iran had confronted its own abuse of human rights and the rights of women. But, of course, if Iranians mistreat it is done in the name of God or peace.

Condi Rice Said OK To Torture

Former Secretary of State spent years in the world of academia where she was part of an intellectual community of scholars. But, the trappings of power were more attractive than sitting in an office dealing with students. A new Senate report indicates Rice gave permission to the CIA as early as July, 2002 to use waterboarding techniques of obtaining information. Most probably she was swayed by concerns that physical abuse might be contrary to the Geneva Conventions by a remark from Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld who said: “I stand 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”

Last autumn, Rice insisted she had only attended meetings where there was discussion about torture, but could not recall details of these sessions. Senator Carl Levin of the armed services committee, says bluntly, “the paper trail on abuse leads to top civilian leaders” and that includes the former scholar from Stanford University.

Perhaps, the best punishment for Condi Rice would compel her to return to Stanford and teach students and face them every day knowing they understand what she did in her quest for power and glory.

Sudan Hangs Rebels Not Muderers

The government of Sudan hung another 11 men who participated in a raid on the capital. The men who came from Darfur were judged guilty of trying to overthrow the government. The rebels are members of the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which charges that Sudan is guilty of murdering people in Darfur and forcing millions to flee for their lives. It has refused to hold any peace talks until progress is made in dealing with violence against the people of Darfur.

It is interesting that Sudan hangs people who kill. It is also interesting that none of those who kill are engaged in the business of killing the people of Darfur and raping their women. For some reason, if you kill a person in Darfur, that is violence, but if a person from Darfur kills a Sudanese that is murder. It all comes down to perspective. In the end, the people of Darfur suffer from oppression and no one will speak up for them at the UN conference on racism.