Under the Saddam Hussein regime, thousands of people from Palestine went to work in Iraq. There were 30,000 registered Palestinian refugees – plus thousands more not registered – when American forces took over Iraq. The Palestinians are caught in the middle – they are not regarded as Iraqi and are part of a foreign group. They get attacked and killed by both sides in the Iraqi civil war, and now they are stuck in refugee camps on the border of Syria. Syria already has about 450,000 Palestinian refugees and is only allowing in about 250 a year from Iraq. So, the Palestinians suffer in heat, denied employment, denied medical care and just left alone.
I wonder if Arab concern for Palestinian refugees also applies to these individuals. A tragedy of the past sixty years is failure on the part of Arab nations to develop a comprehensive plan for resettlement of Palestinian refugees. Instead, they are left with the false hope of return to Palestine. Israel will never back down on this point and will insist Palestinian refugees be allowed to settle in the new Palestinian state that, hopefully, soon will be established.
Information from Jordan Times
A photograph displaying a tattoo of a cross on a celebrity’s foot that was shown in a magazine has created an uproar among Lebanese Christian leaders. French magazine Voici published a photograph of an American reality television star and party girl Nicole Richie showing off a tattoo of a rosary with a cross dangling from it.
A church official, Father Fadi Tabet, urged the government to ban the magazine in Lebanon because it contains “unethical photos and articles.” Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros declared, “We should defend our religious doctrines so that nobody attacks or humiliates them.” A Lebanese man, Gilbert Esso, stated to the media, “It’s disrespectful to Christianity to have a tattoo of a cross on your foot.” Mr. Esso said a tattoo belonged on a back or shoulder, but to place the tattoo on your foot was offensive to Christians.
I did read parts of the Bible but don’t recall anything in it about tattoos or feet or where you wear things. I guess they had tattoos back in ancient times but have no idea where the tattoos were displayed. Somehow, I just can’t see Jesus or God really paying much attention to tattoos. Now, if these Christians would get concerned about killing of innocent people in Darfur, I might pay attention to their complaints.
Information from the Lebanon Daily Star
Commercial sex workers in Bangladesh are being forced to take beauty enhancing drugs such as Oradexon and Decason. It is estimated that over 100,000 sex bosses called “Sardanar” are distributing drugs in brothels which enhance beauty as well as growth. One sex worker commented, “My Sardarn foced me to take Oradexon six years back. At first, I refused to take it, but she beat me up and even threatened to stop my meals. Then, I started taking it. Now, I can’t think of quitting it. Whenever I refrain from taking it, I simply fall sick.”
Information from The Independent of Bangladesh
A majority of the Danish parliament is ready to ban face-covering Muslim niqab veils after a family care worker was ordered to remove it. Politicians are ready to give employers the right to ban Muslim niqab for employees as yet another incident involving the culture clash between conservative Islam and the West. Danish politicians are already in an uproar after a Muslim candidate for Parliament announced she would wear her headgear in Parliament, if elected. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes public institutions should be able to determine the dress of their employees. “I personally believe it’s quite fair that children should be able to see who is caring for them.”
Even the left wing Red-Green Alliance backed the prime minister. “This is neither about special treatment for religion. It is a well-founded desire to stress that it is important in family care situations to see the caretaker’s facial expressions,” said Jargen Arbo-Baehr, speaking for the Alliance.
Information from The Copenhagen Post
As a college professor, I frequently have difficulty hearing Moslem female students who wear the veil as do their fellow classmates. I understand the Danish concern that children pick up on facial gestures and the niqab prevents that from occurring.
Many European political leaders who oppose Turkey’s entry into the European Union argue that Europe ends at the border of Turkey. They forget Asia Minor was the source of great Christian thinkers who laid the foundation for much of European thoughts. “The prevailing notion of Europe and European identify is based mainly on political criteria that also accommodate important geographical, religious, cultural and historical parameters. So there is de Gualle’s vision of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, the Crusaders’ idea of a Catholic Europe, the Christian Europe of the Holly Alliance, Hitler’s New Europe, the New Europe of the enlargement-planners in Brussels. Likewise, there is Rumsfeld’s old Europe and the Charlemagne-inspired Europe of Jean Baptiste Duroselle. Europe’s borders, particularly to the east, were never clear.”
Information from Kathimerini, Greece
In the coming five years, the European Union will have to decide the meaning of “Europe” in deciding whether to accept or reject the Turkish candidacy. In making that decision, Europe will either be igniting cultural conflict or taking the first step in creating harmony between competing groups.
Michael Domininguez, deputy under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, said the Defense Department opposed proposed changes in educational benefits for Iraq War veterans. He argued that GI Bill payments at present come close to matching those of active-duty members. He felt making GI benefits too generous and allowing reservists to use them after getting out of the service could end up hurting the military by making it more attractive to get out. “These programs are not broken. They do not require radical restructuring.” He said the cost of the proposals would end up being more than $13 billion over five years, and argued the money could be better spent on other things like improved medical benefits. Under questioning he admitted the Bush administration would not willingly spend $13 billion to improve reserve health benefits. Keith Wilson of the VA was most concerned about costs of the proposed legislation.
Information from Stars & Stripes
Everyone who voted for Republican candidates in last year’s election should be compelled to read the stuff coming out of the mouths of Defense Department and VA people hired by George Bush. If $13 billion over five years is too much, how about reducing the $1 trillion given in tax benefits to Bush’s wealthy friends! Isn’t it interesting that Bush’s own appointee admits the president would “not willingly” provide additional spending on health benefits for reservists. Few Americans realize that National Guard and Reservists are NOT receiving the same educational benefits provided members of the regular armed forces. This is outrageous given that National Guard and Reservists have been compelled to return again and again to Iraq.
In a December 2006 poll conducted by the Military Times, there appears to be evidence of a significant change in attitudes of our military toward Bush and the war in Iraq. For the first time since the polls were taken, a majority of our fighting men and women oppose the war in Iraq. The polls indicate 355 support the President’s handling of the war, and 42% oppose it. For the first time since these polls were taken, only 41% approve of the initial decision to go to war, and a majority opposes Bush’s declaration of war. In another interesting fact from the polls, the number of servicemen identifying themselves as Republicans has dropped from 61% to 46%. A high percentage classify themselves as Independents or Democrats.
Information from the Military Times
We continually hear from the President, the Vice President and Republican leaders like Giuliani and McCain that their party “supports the troops.” It appears most troops really don’t want the support being offered by the likes of McCain or the golden boy, Rudy G. Perhaps if Republican candidates for next year’s election actually supported the troops then a lot of them would be headed home.
Rep. Mike Honda is sponsoring a resolution urging Japan to apologize for coercing thousands of Asian women to serve as sex slaves during World War II. Although he rejected any comparison with American run-brothels in Japan, he thought it important to clarify America’s postwar record in sponsoring prostitution among Japanese women. An AP review of historical documents and records show US authorities permitted an official brothel system to operate despite internal reports that women were being coerced in prostitution. Tens of thousands of Japanese women were employed to provide cheap sex for American troops.
Information from The Japan Times
As a G.I. stationed in postwar Germany, it was evident that thousands of German women were trying to handle the loss of husbands and loved ones by resorting to prostitution. A carton of cigarettes was sufficient to get a woman for the night. I suspect Japanese and German female prostitution arose from the catastrophic conditions in their nations after the surrender to Allied forces. No one had to force anyone into prostitution because for many it was literally the only way to survive.
Rep. Vic Snyder is leading the way to reform the GI Bill of Rights in recognition of new developments created by the war in Iraq. He is heading the fight for the Total Force Educational Assistance Enhancement and Integration Act of 2007, which is supported by the Partnership for Veterans’ Education. “The big motivator for all of us is the disparity (in education benefits) between reserve component people versus those from the active component, even though both may have served the full year overseas in a war zone,” says Snyder.
The proposed new legislation would guarantee that reserve and National Guard education benefits would rise proportionally with active-duty Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits. It would allow these soldiers to accrue month by month benefits, which currently are $1075 per month, and allow them up to ten years to use the education benefits. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who served in Vietnam, has introduced an education benefit bill for personnel who have been deployed since 9/11 so benefits would cover tuition, room, board and provide a monthly stipend of $1000. These benefits would go to personnel who served for two years of active duty after 9/11.
Information from Stars & Stripes
The educational tragedy for servicemen is failure on the part of those who received such generous benefits after World War II to reciprocate by providing similar educational opportunities for those serving in subsequent wars. Much was given to those who gave much in World War II, similarly we must give much to those who presently serve in a misguided mad venture created by George Bush.
In the low-rent suburbs around Paris, thousands of disenchanted Muslims fear the presidency of Sarkozy. The abrasive, divisive and scary new president of France has vowed to transform immigrants into good French citizens. In “les banlieuses”—the outskirts of Paris which contain predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, there is extensive fear of a man who in 2005 when Minister of the Interior ordered the police to crackdown on people he termed “scum.” A reporter for the Lebanon Star noticed someone had scrawled on a Sarkozy poster, “A vote for this man is a vote for war.”
Information from The Lebanon Star
Few Americans grasp the intensity of anger and fear among European Muslims who believe they are treated as second-class citizens and confront political leaders who would like to see them depart from Europe. We can expect increased violence in the months ahead.