Monthly Archives: February 2010

We Are Fighting To Ensure Karzai Remains Top Dog

In a stunning development in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai defied Western nations whose troops are fighting and dying to ensure that he still has power. Karzai announced that from now on he would appoint the five members of the Electoral Complaints Commission which last year voided some of his illegal votes and forced Karzai into a runoff election. The president has also made clear no longer will foreigners be on this commission and it will be staffed by those who are loyal to the boss man–Karzai, that is. Karzai also made clear to the US there would be no decrees from him in the near future dealing with corruption in government. After all, why have power if you can’t make money out of this position?

At this very moment some wonderful and brave young men and women representing many nations are risking their lives. But, for what? According to Karzai they are in Afghanistan to ensure he controls government and his buddies make money. God Bless Democracy.

Did Hillary Clinton Dodge A Tough Question?

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before a group of Saudi students who were asked to pose questions. Mariyam Mavi, a student at a Jeddah college, came to the session with classmates and asked the US leader a question that apparently created a problem for the Secretary of State. She asked Clinton about the American stance on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and specifically wanted to know America’s stand on Israel’s nuclear weapon program. “I did not get a straight answer” the young woman told the Arab Press. She wanted to know if America was “so vehemently opposed to Iran’s nuclear program” Clinton responded with a lengthy analysis concerning Iran’s nuclear program, but did not mention Israel’s nuclear development.

The Arab news made clear to the United States that Muslims in the Middle East were interested in answers to complex questions, among which is how the Obama administration will confront behavior of the Netanyahu government on the West Bank. Platitudes about the faults of Iran do not respond to questions in the minds of Arab peoples.

God’s Will Is Death By Starvation

Ria Ramkissoon came to America from Trinidad in search of a better life in Baltimore. She had a son and one day while the one year old was at the dinner table he forgot or for some reason did not say “Amen” at conclusion of the meal prayer. An older woman living with Ria told the mother her son was possessed with an evil spirit and must die. The mother refused to give the boy food or drink for a week and the child finally wasted away into death despite a last minute effort to give him some food. Ms. Ramkissoon and several people knelt to pray for the dead boy and danced and talked to the dead body under the assumption he would rise from the dead. Eventually, his body was placed in a suitcase and later on buried somewhere.

Ria is part of a clique led by Queen Antoinette which has its own views of God and she does not regard her action as other than normal. “I still believe my son is coming back. I have no problem saying what really happened because I believe he is coming back.” When told her comments sound crazy, she admitted, “I don’t have a problem sounding crazy in court.”

Yes, she is a nut and she is crazy. The real problem is people just like her haunt the stage of Tea Party gatherings and say things just as crazy and Fox News heralds them as the essence of what is an American. Perhaps, we have to redefine the meaning of “crazy.”

HEADLINES FROM THE WORLD PRESS

Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Kuwait, Kuwait Times: “Kuwait Swine Flu Free”
Yeah, but what about all the swines in the country?

Saudi Arabia, Saudi Gazette: “Immoral Messages Land Official In Court”
I guess he sent messages about freedom and liberty.

South Africa, Argus: “Sex And Politics”
Gee, I wish congressmen spent more time on sex, it might lead to more intelligent laws.

China, Shanghai Daily: “Serial Killer Get Death Penalty”
I have often wondered if serial killers get put to death for each killing.

Sweden, The Local: “Military Officers Force Feed Recruits”
With courage?

Australia, Brisbane Times: “Playboy Mogul Sued For Desires”
As long as he pays for them, I doubt if anyone will sue.

Czech Republic, Prague Post: “Czech Social System Incomprehensible”
Not as incomprehensible as American health care proposals.

UK, The Independent: “Abuse Campaign Targets Teens”
I suspect teens abuse adults just by acting like teens.

South Africa, Argus: “They’re No Angels”
An accurate description of the US Congress.

Australia, Sydney Morning Herald: “Alcohol A Problem”
I wish that was the only problem we had with the US government.

Canada, Toronto Star: “What Tiger Really Said”
I will apologize for anything, anywhere as long as I get the money.

Is There A New Leader In Egypt?

Egypt contains hundreds of thousands of well educated people and a strong business community but it is hampered by an inefficient government run by President Mubarak which is unable to shake loose from corruption and inefficiency. The return to Egypt of one of its brightest sons, Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the UN atomic energy commission, has awakened hope in the nation because finally there is an intelligent and world recognized political leader to challenge President Mubarak. He was greeted by hundreds of Egyptians who welcomed his arrival as a sign of hope. He quietly told the group, “I am worried that people have reached such a level of despair that they are waiting for one person to save them, but I would like Egypt to save itself.” Nobel words, but reality is the need for an important person to stand up against Mubarak and challenge him to hold honest, free elections.

Many opposition leaders warn Elbaredei he is up against a government establishment that will not surrender power in any graceful manner, let alone, even contemplate surrendering it under duress. Baradei already has warned the Muslim Brotherhood he rejects their stand against Christians running for public office and he seeks to unite those of disparate views and ideas to join in coalition that could challenge Mubarak.

Most probably thousands are supporting him because he is not connected with Mubarak or the son waiting in the wings to assume office when his father dies.

Belarus Cracks Down On Polish Minority

Sixty five years have passed since the end of World War II and nearly twenty since the disintegration of the USSR, but the legacy of past actions and decisions continues impacting people who live in nations that once were part of the old Soviet Union. No where is this more evident than the country of Belarus which is ruled by a Soviet style dictator, Alexander Lukashenko and his fist is made of iron. During post WWII changes in territory and boundaries a large Polish group became trapped in Belarus and when the Soviet Union collapsed they became a minority in a country run by a man who brooked no opposition.

Lukashenko has initiated a crackdown on the Union of Poles which represents many of the 400,000 Polish people who are treated as second class citizens. Poland has warned Luakshenko it will block European Union aid to his country if discrimination continues against Poles in his nation and the EU has also made clear it will block funds.

The past looms large in the lives of so many people in eastern Europe, but, probably no more intensely than for Poles in Belarus.

Is There A Planned Military Coup In Turkey?

There is scant doubt the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party(AKP) is concerned about the attitudes of members of the Turkish military high command. The past few months have witnessed continual warnings and arrests of military personnel on charges they are planning a coup in order to overthrow the moderate Muslim government presently in power. Six retired Turkish military personnel together with 50 members of the armed forces were arrested and detained for questioning regarding the supposed military coup.

The former heads of the navy and air force were among those detained for questioning. The military has historically been in favor of maintaining the secular nature of the Turkish government. The AKP has pledged to support that principle, but there are members of that party which seek a more militant Muslim presence in government and society.

Should Parents Decide Who Leads Schools?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown came out swinging in favor of parents being given the power to decide who leads schools in order to improve standards of education. Under his proposal, parents would be solicited to vote on whether the current leadership of a school is in competent hands as well as voting on whether the school should be placed under control of a university or private company. He wants to “empower dissatisfied parents” to make changes they desire in the education of their children.

About thirty years ago, the state of California empowered the electorate to decide on whether they wanted a certain level of property taxation. The result has been an economic disaster for the state of California. Brown’s idea sounds wonderful at first glance, but it ignores reality. Examine the current Tea Party assault on local school districts. In the state of California, extremists took control of local school boards and pushed extremists into control of the state board which oversees textbooks. The result is that teachers of history teach what parents seek, not history.

Whenever control of education is given to parents, the majority of decent hard working parents allow extremist groups to gain power. This is one unfortunate result of empowering parents with education decisions.

US Continues Pressure On Iran

General David Petraeus, head of Central Command, made clear the United States intends to continue pressure on Iran in order to ensure compliance with UN demands for nuclear responsibility. He emphasized Iran has been given one opportunity after another to work with nations of the world on creating an agreement that respects Iranian desires for a nuclear development industry while ensuring there is no concern over nuclear weapons. In view of American patience, “this puts us on a solid foundation now to go on what is termed the pressure track. That is the course on which we are embarked now.”

The real issue is what exactly can the United States or the UN actually do in order to accomplish a change in Iranian policy. Sanctions will only work if important nations of the world are united to enforce them, but if China and Russia refuse to cooperate, sanctions will fail.

Why Does Israel Ignore Obama Outreach?

Gabi Sheffer, writing in Haaretz, raises the question as to why the Israel government has refused to accept any ideas from the United States regarding dealing with its conflict with Palestinians. He states bluntly, “the disrespect toward him and his administration is unwarranted, there is no doubt that it is connected to Obama’s ethnic background.” Strong words and they certainly raise questions about why the obstinate refusal to consider what the current American administration is proposing in terms of peace. Sheffer points out what most Israelis today refuse to acknowledge–”Democrats such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton achieved remarkable accomplishments-brokering peace with Egypt and Jordan.” The newspaper correspondent wonders if the deliberate refusal of the Netnayahu government to evaluate any compromise solution has led to a dramatic drop in interest on the part of the US regarding the current impasse in the Middle East.

One can only wonder if the Netanyahu administration has missed an important opening for peace because of its hostility to interact with honesty and openness to the Obama presidency. Israel should be picking up on recent American efforts to interact with Syria and use that opening as a way of dealing with the problem of the Golan Heights. What exactly does Israel seek in terms of peace other than a peace on its own terms?