Tuesday, September 30, 2008

China's Sour Milk

From Hollister:

Fifty-three thousand children have become ill and four babies have been killed due to the China milk scandal. Because of the dangers, several companies are recalling their products they received from China.

Heinz is one of these companies, as a spokes person for the company announced, "In order to reassure consumers about the safety of Heinz products, Heinz has made the strategic decision to switch our milk supply in China and Hong Kong to non-Chinese sources and we are testing all dairy ingredients for melamine prior to use in our factories."
Another company that is recalling its products is the British chocolatier Cadbury, after the presence of melamime in the chocolates was confirmed.
A third company that is recalling its products from China due to melamime is the Global consumer goods group Unilever Plc/NV, which recalled four batches of its Lipton brand milk tea.

Chinese President Hu vows that something is being done to secure the quality of the food industry within China.

House Approves Nuclear Pact With India

Katie Crawford- The House of Representatives met on Saturday, September 27, to approve a nuclear pact with India. Surprisingly the vote was yes for the U.S. giving nuclear materials for India. There has been much debate over this issue, but the President made sure that it was addressed quickly. He said that signing the bill would be beneficial for both India and United States.
This connects to what we were talking about last class period and how we won’t help in less there is something in it for ourselves. By having this partnership with India, we are making ourselves stronger, and it will help India with their growing energy needs. On the flip side of that, people are continuing to say that the United States is just helping spread the idea of using nuclear weapons. They question this because India’s military reactors will not have to be checked.
The pact says that the United States will ship atomic fuel to India for thirty years. Most supported because it will put their nuclear facilities under inspection for the first time. The pact includes that United States will make sure that the power is used correctly and will ask for everything back if India decides to create any nuclear weapon tests in the future.

Monday, September 29, 2008

For Young Chinese, Spacewalk An Indicator Of Might

From Grant Swanson

This article is highly intriguing. I had absolutely no idea China was intending to send someone to the moon. But, as this article shows, there is an orbiter on its way to map the moon as we speak. On Saturday, September 27, the space shuttle launched into space...broadcasting live to the entire world. The fact that the Chinese have decided to broadcast live feed for the entirety of the journey is very telling to the confidence of complete success of the mission. The imminent moonwalk following this orbiter mission will mark China as only the third Country to have brought a human being to the moon. This is a clear indicator of China's growing might and dominance in the world today. But the interviewed children's comments seemed a little frightening to me. "In a few years, we will overtake America," says 14-year-old Wen Zhiqi. "At this rate, we'll overtake everyone and be at the top of the world." Maybe this is just irrational fear...but there is just something about the way in which this 14 year old talks that disturbs me. I think the article shows my fear the best with this point: "An outspoken commentary in a Shanghai newspaper was titled, 'A country that can perform a spacewalk has no reason to produce bad milk.'" This is in reference to the poison milk scandal in China that has left 50,000 children deathly sick. For a Country to focus with such determination on world dominance at the expense of its own people makes me incredibly nervous. I believe this may be irrational, but I fear China.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Afghan woman police director gunned down

Ellie Bittourna: An Afghan woman who worked for the department of crimes against women in Kandahar city was shot on her way home from work, along with her 18 year old son, who only recieved minor injuries. This was not an accident either. The Taliban said themselves that they were responsible for the malicious crime. The militants attack a lot of businesses run by women because in their society women are not seen as equals to men. This suicide bomber not only killed this woman police officer, but also three other policeman and three civilians.


Space: The Final Frontier

From Medina: China has recently sent three astronauts into space. According to the article, the mission was a success: the astronauts returned safely. The only problem noted is that one of the astronauts--41-year-old fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang--had difficulty opening the hatch to begin the spacewalk, followed by the fire alarm going off. Wang Zhaoyao, deputy director of manned spaceflight, explained that they had not fully anticipated the effects of weightlessness and depressurization on the hatch, and a faulty sensor caused the false alarm. Nevertheless, this mission has also served to increase national pride in China following the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing last month.

I think this is a positive step for China and the entire world. China is a country rich in resources. By putting those resources to use on a front where humans have barely scratched the surface, perhaps we--everyone in the world--can learn more about our universe at an even more rapid rate than before. As idealistic as this may sound, I strongly believe that space exploration is a perfect opportunity for global unity.

Pakistan open fire on U.S.

from Guajardo: On Thursday last week, Pakistan fired on U.S. aircraft and the Pentagon is expecting an explanation. U.S. aircraft was making a routine patrol when "warning shots" were fired which Pakistan's new president says were only "flares." Interestingly enough, Pakistani military mistook U.S. aircraft for Taliban even though they don't have aircraft..

Interesting how easily tension can start by mere accusations or assumptions. Maybe we should take away weapons that way it wouldn't be used as an excuse for initiating any hostility. This world is so dangerous which makes our relations more difficult because who can say when another country will mistake us for a terrorist, non-aircraft group?

Obviously violence can't always be the solution, or form of retaliation but what else is there when guns are firing and there are missels readily available? This kind of situation just makes everything escalate and I realize what's the point in being in a pacifist when clearly the world today is just not suited for that kind of attitude.

Mccain says no talks without precondition

From: Lozano
At the debate senator Mccain made it seem outrageous to talk to Iranian president ahmadinejad without precondition. Obama argued that failing to communicate with other countries due to refusal of precondition didn't work before and still won't. Obama said he would sit and talk to president Ahmadinejad without precondition but with careful preparation, he also said he would sit down with president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and president of Cuba Raul Castro. Mccain passionately disagreed.

Obama argued that there would be numerous low- level diplomatic talks beforehand. I agree woth Obama. There needs to be some sit downs with these leaders and agreements should be made. If the safety of the american people were at mind, it's an obvious decision. Our relationship with other countries will never get better if we keep silencing ourselves due to precondition. The U.S. is already hated by many countries, why not start to work toward a better relationship?


U.S. Presidential Debate and the issue of Pakistan

From Chris Usatuck:

Friday night was the first of three presidential debates and was focused on national security and foreign policy. The most interesting exchange in the night came when the discussion turned to Pakistan and what to do about terrorists who cross the western border into Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces.

In the debate, Sen. Obama stated that he would launch military strikes against terrorists in Pakistan if the Pakistani government refused to act. McCain countered with,"You don't say that out loud..." which is basically saying that he agrees with Obama but that such a mission should be done in secrecy. This is the same policy that the Bush administration has been persuing since July.

Now I'm all for rooting out Taliban and Al-Qeada terrorists who have had a safe haven in Western Pakistan but I wonder what legal authority the U.S. has in crossing into Pakistan without the approval of the government.

House Clears Nuclear Pact with India

From Howell: On Saturday, 9/25 the House of Representatives approved a nuclear pact with India. This agreement has been under way for the past three years and is considered as a victory for the Bush administration: improving the relations between the US and India and increasing global control over nuclear development and activity. Under this pact, India will have access to American nuclear technology and India would allow for international inspections in its nuclear facilities.

Although the House has already approved this bill, there is a chance that it will be denied by the Senate. The decision will inevitably be postponed because of the ever-popular economic bailout plan.

After our discussions in class on the US's reluctance to allow Iran to possess nuclear power, I found this article especially interesting. Amanda spoke of Ahmadinejad's position on nuclear power-- basically calling the US hypocrites. It is curious to me how the US is able to approve one nation having nuclear weapons and to oppose another. It seems like a very fine-line to me. It's easy to see how other countries can view us this way.

Bombings in Baghdad

From Kurpalo
On Sunday, five bomb attacks hit Baghdad, nearing the last few days of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday. It is estimated that twenty-seven people were killed and eighty-four wounded, while innocently holiday shopping. The first car bomb exploded in a parking lot, as another one exploded right after it. After Ramadan, there is a five day streak where families go shopping and strolling the markets. At 7 p.m. in Karada, a car bomb went off. The bombs are a sign that even though Baghdad has been peaceful in the past few years due to Americans, the "bloodshed is not over."

People were moving around in disbelief. One moment they were standing next to their friend and the next they found themselves grieving over their deaths. I found this incredible, a man found a little boy who witnessed the bombing and asked him where his friend was, and the little boy who was wearing a blood-stained t-shirt said,
"'He's been torn to pieces, the police took him,' he said, he'd come up to wash the blood from his hands and legs." It almost seemed as though, sadly, they had become used to losing people often to disgusting incidents such as these.

I find it absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable how the bombings were done during a holy Muslim holiday. These were innocent bystanders just spending time with their families. There are MUCH better ways to prove your point!

Nuclear Agreement with India

From: Becca Smith

After spending time in class this week discussing realism and liberalism, it is fitting that the United States House of Representatives would pass a bill that would enter an agreement with India over nuclear power. The bill, titled United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act, gives both sides of the agreement advantages. The agreement would allow the United States to help the world economy by helping build civilian power plants. This could even allow the U.S. to earn tens of billions of dollars in India. In exchange, India would no longer test their nuclear weapons and they would allow inspection of their current civilian weapons. Finally, both sides would be allowed to enter into beneficial trade. President George Bush is urging the United States Senate to pass the bill before their October recess.

Since the cooperation act includes a provision for trade, I think that this act shows liberalism. I do think that the United States is benefiting more because they will be able to make inspection of nuclear technology and will be able to potentially gain billions of dollars with the construction of new civilian plants. However, India will still be receiving some benefit because they are now allowed to trade with the United States again (after being banned) and the United States will help give them resources to allow them to build the civilian plants.

Somali Pirates' Unexpected Booty: Russian Tanks

From Thomas Andre: Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia seem to be getting very bold, especially in the eyes of the international community. Their most recent act has netted them Russian T-72 tanks, along with ammunition, that were destined for the Kenyan military. They seem to be thriving in the lawlessness that encompasses Somalia. Fortunately, a lot of authorities think that pirates had no idea that the tanks were on the ship and they have no way of unloading this cargo without someone noticing. That is about the only good thing about this specific situation. Other countries patrol these waters, including the U.S., but they cannot protect every ship. Until Somalia becomes stable and takes direct measures against these pirates, there will be no safe places in Somalia or in her waters.

Lactose Intolerant NOT Affected.

From Chase:

After the recent in-class-discussion about China's tainted milk, I was curious to see how it has progressed. It looks like Europe, who receives food products from China, is now concerned due to the fact that products containing milk powder from China have been circulating the Europian super markets. Specifically, chocolates and other sweet, "milky" items are of main concern. However, the European Union is doing its best to intervene by mandating that all products containing greater than 15% milk powder be tested. As of now, the test results are not worrisome. As for the United States, certain consumer groups have called upon the FDA to act quickly to restrict any food imports from China.

The chemical causing this ruckus, Melamine, is an industrial additive used to artifically increase a prodect's protein content. In China, this contaminant has been responsible for sickening and even killing some 50,000 infants and children. However, melamine is NOT a problem in and of itself; the issue lies in the actual amount a person consumes. In China, the troublesome side-effects were found mostly in young children who relied on contaminated milk products as their main source of nutrition- baby formula, etc. On the contrary, since melamine's side-effects are largely based on the consumer's individual weight, the powdered milk products found in Europe and the US are unlikely to be potent and present enough to harm anyone. As for now, it looks like the US can rest a little easier knowing that it does not receive any dairy products from China, and the goods it does receive are likely too unsaturated to harm a human. In fact, China's commerce minister, Bo Xilai, even stated that 99% of its exports to the US passed every test of quality. At least the US can check dairy products off its list of Chinese items to worry about, but what about our toothpaste and petfood?

Japan recalls sweets in melamine scandal.

The safety problem of dairy products made by Chinese is becoming bigger and bigger in the world. In Korea, people take food saftey seriously and so the Korean government announced that the inspections will be more strict about dairy products imported from China and other foreign countries. The Korean public suffered from the lack of food saftey recently such as Mad Cow Disease.  It seems to be see that the Korean government take the hardline policy to anything that it imports. More strict food safety guidelines is the first step in protecting our health. But we are not free from this danger. We have to force Chinese government to take more responsibility.

Thai Prime Minister Ousted from Thai Government because of a TV Show?!?

By Soch Mel

In Southeast Asia, there has been a change of leadership in the Thai government. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has lost his position over comments that he made a cooking show. The comments were directed at the deputy governor. ".......Samak accused the deputy governor, Samart Ratchapholsit, of malfeasance in awarding city contracts" Because of this Sundaravej was put on trial and sent to two years in jail. For some Reason, the PM violated the Thai Constitution when he appeared as a guest on this cooking show!

Here's a link to Time magazine where the PM talks about the situation as well as his relationship with the last PM, Thaksin, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006. The result of that was a "backward" step for Thai democracy as the Constitutional Monarchy was suspended for the time being.

Finally, here's the link to a Wikipedia article on the Thai Coup of 2006.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First presidential debate

Hina Latif:

On Friday September 26,2008 was the 1stpresidential debate between McCain and Obama, held In Oxford, Mississippi. Lead questions that were discussed between McCain and Obama included topics such as: financial recovery plan, the fundamental differences between McCain and Obama, the rescue system and what priorities when elected to be the president of United States of America will they have give up, Lessons learned from Iraq, their veiws on Afghanistan, and should we withdraw troops, send more troops and if so how many should we send in?

According to this article 51% believe that Obama gave a better debate , where as only 38% voted for McCain.

In the beginning of the debate it seemed as though McCain was repeating history, and even through his debate he pointed out several historical points, which I thought were pointless, because he is fighting for a presidential election that will help get the country back on track for the future, and not to dwell on the past events. When the question was asked to McCain about how he feels about the financial plan, he kept saying the phrase "cut spending", that was really confusing to hear him say spending but in what departments. The other thing that McCain agreed upon was his stance on the war, he thinks that "were winning in Iraq" and that the soldiers don't want to come home until they "win", he obviously wants to send more troops and $$ to Iraq.

I was pretty pleased with Obama's debate, I agreed, for the most part, on his debate solutions/plans, I really like the way he delivers his speeches/debates over McCain.

Immigration in the U.E.

From: Alejandra Diaz. article

In this report I would like to let you know that in the most recent European agreements, the States members reached a consensus related to the length of detention of illegal immigrants in a series of internment camps. The initial draft of the Commission proposed a maximum duration of six months. However, Member States have agreed to take the average of 18 months ...! Besides we are going to impose the "integration contract" which seeks to make immigrants asimilate the rules and customs of host countries. Obviously, this leaves the door open to an even greater arbitrariness of the States in the selection of foreigners.

The content of this European agreement really worries me. The need of a legislation is obvious, but do you always have to do so only from a repressive and arbitrary perspective?

On the other hand, I was rather surprised to hear that the European Union is however opened to certain kind of immigrants since we are going to create a "blue card" for "skilled" immigrants, designed to attract workers, technicians and experts from Third World countries, in a immigration policy called "selective". This European mechanism is going to be more or less an imitation of the famous' green card you have in the nited States, which allows immigrants to enter and exit freely without coming to obtain citizenship.

What worries me the most about it is the difference treatment “different” people are going to receive in my country. What makes people different? The number of certificates they have? Aren´t we all at last human beings with the same rights? Is it the influence of Realism in the European Union again???

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bolivia, Venezuela and United States...

Since the beginning of September, Bolivia is submerged into a social and political controversy that threats the Diplomatic Structure and its Government, especially its president Evo Morales.

After a change in the Constitution being approved by the Parliament , by a referendum, which is said to be favorable to the poorest people of the country to achieve a better life style and better opportunities; the conservative part of society (opponents of the government) reacted besieging an important city on the west of the country, which is very important for the economy and prosperity of it, and keeping some public institutions. This, naturally, started a very violent confrontation between the people who support the Government (who won the election democratically) and the ones that do not –leaving almost 18 deaths.

Besides that, international controversies arose with this situation. As for many people in the Bolivian Government United States of America has been trying and wants to interfere in their sovereignty and national affairs, Morales called the U.S Ambassador Goldberg as a not trustworthy person, and he finally left that country. To response to that, in Washington U.S. president J.W Bush did the same with the Bolivian Ambassador Gustavo Guzmán. Furthermore, Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez out of solidarity with Uribe, sent back U.S Ambassador from Venezuela, because of his beliefs against U.S.A and his willing to achieve a Latin America union and independent of ’imperialism’...

Is he a fake, or just really good at what he does?

Amanda Dominguez:After the recent trip to New York to meet the president of Iran, I was curious to find out how the rest of his trip went and to see how he handled his talks with the United Nations and see if there was any overlap in what he said to us as students, and what he said to world leaders. I was surprisingly disappointed.

Other then my own experience as a resource, I also used an article and video clips from CNN.com that are very interesting and worth watching.

I was shocked to find a contrast in the way he spoke to us as students and then again to the UN. His harsh words and attacks made him seem like a whole different person. This was not the same "humble teacher", as he referred to himself as, that I heard speak. Is he a fraud? Or is he just like any other world leader with an agenda? Should we really be so critical? I am still asking myself the same questions.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ahmadinejad and nuclear weapons

From Vicky Fan:

I have been reading the news about Iran’s nuclear weapon issue since Tuesday. I read this couple news on CNN about the nuclear weapon issue, and I especially like this article- “Ahmadinejad: American Empire Nearing Its End.” Not because of the intriguing title of the new, but the contents of the article which mainly from the speech of Ahmadinejad is very true for me. I have read a lot of critics about Iran’s nuclear program issue on Taiwan’s website, and they are giving a totally different point of view from US side which I am also agree with.

The main reason US accused Iran about the nuclear weapons which Ahmandinejad pointed out in his speech clearly- “US is seeking to solidify their position in the political geography of the region and to dominate oil resources.” In my opinion, the past decade China had developed their economy so rapidly that lead to the oil and raw material price raised sharply though out the world. As a result, it became the oil resources domination contest between China and US which is the power struggling again. US brought up Iran’s the nuclear weapon issue in the UN, and the America tried to suggest UN to use the military power against Iran. In fact, US intentionally want to control Iran right after controlled Iraq to prevent China has a piece of oil resources and gains more power in the future. Further, US’s nuclear weapons are far advanced than Iran, so we should not be worry about it at all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iran's Nuclear Program

From Hollister

The European Union has stated that Iran is very close to being able to make a nuclear weapon. While Iran insists that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful energy matters, the U.S. and Israel are more than skeptical. The BBC News said that Israeli President, Shimon Peres "Told the assembly that the Islamic republic had 'built a danger to the entire world."' He also urged the U.N Security Council to do something about Iran's program, saying that it is their responsibility to stop the violence before it occurs.

Recently the IAEA encouraged Iran to come clean and give specifics concerning their program. Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA chief, said that Iran needed to provide “substantive information to support its statements and access to relevant documentations and individuals.”

This skepticism angers Iran, needless to say. On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would "resist 'bullying powers' trying to thwart what he called its peaceful nuclear ambitions."

From Brown to ?

From Becky: Even loosely associating with President Bush seems to cause grief overseas nowadays. Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown just gave a speech to the rest of his Labour Party today, one many British political pundits say could make or break his career. The number of Brits who have an unfavorable opinion of him is the highest its ever been, and they seem ready for yet another change. After ousting the previous Prime Minister Tony Blair (a fellow Labour Party member), Brown seems to be scrambling to overhaul his look and feel by replacing some of his cabinet members, revamping his communication style, and pushing his usually camera-shy wife into the spotlight for a time. The Chicago Tribune and Le Monde seem to feel he did his job, but if his unfavorables continue to slide, could the United States lose yet another ally in the self-proclaimed War on Terror? Yes, his numbers are based mostly on the U.K.'s poor economic growth, but his positions on Iraq and Afghanistan haven't been as hard-nosed as his supporters had hoped. With his job seemingly on the bubble, the current administration can only hope that he lasts for at least the next forty days, and the U.S. presidential candidates need to start making friends across the pond now if either of them wants to continue any type of support in Afghanistan, let alone Iraq.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Haiti Struggles For Footing Amid Storms, Unrest

From Grant Swanson
This heart wrenching article discusses the turmoil caused by the recent hurricanes in Haiti. According to this article, thousands of people have lost crops, homes, their lively hoods. In a Country that is already recognized as one of the poorest in the world, little Haiti just cannot handle this devastation. A teenage orphan boy was interviewed. He wishes to one day be an architect and build houses for all the people who are homeless and displaced in Haiti. The boys father was unable to support himself and his son, so that is why the boy lives his orphanage with 45 other boys packed in 2 rooms. And the worst part is that the 45 boys in the orphanage are only scratching the surface of all the homeless children and adults in Haiti, especially after these catastrophic tropical storms. The biggest problem is the current inflation on foods. Simple products such as rice and beans have had dramatic increases in price. This is something I think we can do to help as a class. I know we are going to do a group project in this class...maybe we could hold a campus wide food drive to send to Haiti. As the article states, Haiti is only an half an hour flight from Miami. It is at our back door and we should do something. I also highly recommend to anyone interested in the current predicament of Haiti to look into the service trip North Central College is sending this interim to Haiti. If I could go, I would go in a heartbeat. You should all look into it if this is something that weighs on your heart! Thank you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nobody Likes a Critic

From Jislaine Medina: In less than twenty-four hours, two senior monitors from the Human Rights Watch in Venezuela were expelled from the country after accusing President Hugo Chavez of "discrimination on political grounds." The charge was that the monitors engaged in political acts on a tourist visa, according to the Venezuelan government. Later, Jose Miguel Vivanco, one of the expelled monitors, was quoted in saying the following: "What happened is a confirmation of exactly the points that we raised in the report, and it shows the lack of tolerance in the government of President Chavez to criticism of his record on any area." On one hand, it was not unheard of in the past for governments to silence or cast out dissenting opinions. Freedom of speech and press are not necessarily guaranteed rights in other areas of the world. On the other hand, Hugo Chavez is coming across as somewhat thin-skinned compared to some of the things said about current US President George W. Bush.

Budding relationship with China

From Summer: China's economy has been steadily growing within the last couple decades; it has the fourth largest GDP. Because of their need for a clean environment it has a recently developed environmental program. This program has the potential to lead to interaction with the US and supplying American jobs. Also, one can easily see that there is a flood of China's exports in the world market. It has a huge surplus, and in order to maintain financial stability, it is in China's and the US's best interest to cooperate by allowing the US to invest in Chinese markets. Both parties benefit from this.

Energy security and environmental protection are shared priorities between China and the US. Already there is cooperation in joint research focusing on creating new energy-efficient models. It's obvious China is a huge growing superpower and better to become close allies than to keep distance. US and China's shared intersts make it easier for this relationship and I believe in the future it will work best for a stable relationship and will provide security for both countries.

Pakistan's Political Struggle

From: Kurpalo
Shocking reports explain the Pakistan Marriott hotel bombing, where a struggle arises between the militants and civilians. The death toll increases to 53, with a minimum of 266 people wounded and two Americans among the dead. An unbelievable 1300 pounds of explosives were used during the attack, creating a crater that was 60 feet wide/25 feet deep. Simply put, Pakistanis are fighting Pakistanis over a fear of democracy. This was supposedly a warning from Islamic militants to the new president that it should end all motions to stop al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Pakistani government is stuck between the United State's pursue of al-Qaida and al-Qaida's never ending attacks to end all cooperation with the United States.

I was absolutely astounded by this. It's unbelievable to what extremes people will go to just to make their points and get their ways. If al-Qaida is capable of killing hundreds of people in attacks such as these, as frequently as they are, it's only going to get worse. It must be extremely difficult for Pakistan's government to be stuck in the middle of the U.S's pursuits and of their own people firing back at them.

The militant groups in Pakistan are adamant in stopping Pakistan from taking any steps towards democracy. I think Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province put it best, “There should be no letup now in fighting those who do not believe in negotiations and are bent upon causing destruction.” Neither side is giving up, so what's going to happen next?

Hotel Bombing in Pakistan

From Becca Smith:

Saturday, September 20th, there was a bombing at Marriott Hotel in Pakistan, with the government describing it as 'an attack on democracy.' Sadly, the death toll is currently at 53 people, with 266 being injured. There were two Americans killed in the blast.

The new current Pakistan president, Asif Ali Zardari, is in a difficult spot because he needs to choose how to respond. It is possible that his citizens would resist to more fighting since Pakistani people do not agree with using force against militants because they feel it puts their citizens at risk of being killed (like the bombing at the Marriott Hotel). However, it is important that President Zardari avoids siding with anything that coincides with the Bush Doctrine, because citizens are especially fearful of anything American.

Even with citizens resisting force, the military believes that is it important to fight back. Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province, was quoted in the New York Times today saying "There should be no letup now in fighting those who do not believe in negotiations and are bent upon causing destruction."

I believe that it Pakistan should not try to retaliate for the hotel bombing. Although it was an awful disaster, they should spend their time focusing on ways to find who is responsible and make sure that they go through the legal system. I think it is wise of the civilians to resist fighting. It would not be worth it to lose more innocent civilians.

Free Trade and the Presidential Election

from Lozano, Tanya.


The issue of free trade has come up often in the presidential election. According to John Bussey fro the Wall Street Journal, Senator Mccain perspective is that it is beneficial for the U.S. Mccain says it is an effective way to extend foreign policy. Senator Obama on the other hand, says violence against unions would make a mockery of the very labor protections that would be included in these types of agreements.

Mccain also says NAFTA is good for U.S. job growth, and would result in more business globally. There are a lot of big corporations backing Senator Mccain because they gain allot of profit abroad. Although this brings about the issue of immigration reform that both these candidates seem to be pushing under the rug.

Because of the free trade agreement small farmers are being put out of business and forced to migrate to the U.S. in order to support their families. Because of the flood of undocumented labor the unemployment rates begin to increase for U.S. citizens. So when Mccain says free trade is good for U.S. job growth, who is he talking about? Mccain says it's beneficial for the U.S. because the U.S. is gaining profit from cheap labor from the undocumented. Although both candidate seem to keep their plans for immigration reform under wraps, they have both stated they are in favor of some kind of reform.


In this past week alone, the US Coast Guard has seized 2 Colombian vessels transporting a combined 7 tons (approximately $196 million) of cocaine. These vessels are a relatively new (and improved) way of transporting drugs into the US. They are believed to be made in the jungles of Colombia and are described as semi-submarines. This new semi-submerged model of the vessels makes finding them in the ocean "more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack," said Michael Braun, Chief of Operations for the DEA.

After reading the article, I immediately thought 'Oh great, the US is acting as the world police again'. Both vessels were captured south of Guatemala--not too close to home. Upon further research, I learned that at that point of the ocean is really a sort of international domain, where different countries share jurisdiction.

I then began to think of this article in reference to the global War on Drugs. Is this 'war' really effective? Clearly, the US making a dent in supply of drugs via semi-submarines, but that does mean the drugs aren't getting into the country some other way. Those of you familiar with The Secret will be familiar with the theory that focusing on keeping drugs out of circulation really just creates more motivation towards getting/keeping drugs in global circulation which makes the problem worse. In my opinion, this search-and-seizure method the US is currently entertaining will do just that.

I think that the international community needs to pull together and find a solution to this problem that will make more than a temporary impact--clearly more can and should be done.

At 81, Japanese vet makes rare return to Iwo Jima

There is an interesting article I found that came out from the Associated Press about one of the few Japanese veterans that survived the World War 2 battle of Iwo Jima. It tells about his return to the island in order to make peace with the spirits of his dead friends. It is very hard to get to that island if you are not in either the U.S. or Japanese militaries because the whole island is really a big memorial. I can't even imagine his feelings going back there and walking over the very spots where he fought and so many of that generation suffered and died. Having visited that island once, it gave me a new profound respect for those that were there.

Al-Qaida threatens more attacks in new video

From Ellie Bittourna: Al-Qaida sent out a 90-minute video containing a threat for the continuation of attacks in Iraq even after U.S. troops have left and that they will institute new major attacks. The video was set out for the public to see on Friday, September 19, a week after the seventh anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. This raised a few inquiries about Al-Qaida's real dedication to their claims for future attacks since this video has been issued on the day of the anniversary in previous years.

Last year Osama Bin Ladin spoke in a clip of the video stating how proud they were of their successful attacks. In the video issued Friday, top leaders of Al-Qaida were stated saying the, mujahedeen, which means "holy warriors" are increasing in size every day. They also dismissed all claims that the U.S. and Iraqi military were gaining success on terrorist groups. Whatever Al-Qaida has planned in the future, it has been taken into question lately their actual fulfillment of promises because of this video. A researcher for terrorist groups said that the video was "all bark and no bite," and that they might be having problems producing new attacks.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

France Re-ups in Afghanistan

From Becky: After a couple of weeks of questioning America's role in Afghanistan, another of the coalition countries is following suit. France* will debate the merits and conditions of keeping (or even sending reinforcements) to the troops already stationed in the former Russian territory. Now, I know the typical American response to anything French -- it was only a matter of time until they surrendered -- but get this: President Nicholas Sarkozy is taking a rather Bush Doctrine-like approach to the situation. M. Sarkozy wishes to increase troop levels because "we don't have the choice to let the savages win . . . For a defeat on the other side of the world equals a defeat on French soil." ("Nous n'avons pas le droit de laisser triompher les barbares. . . . Car la défaite à l'autre bout du monde se paiera d'une défaite sur le territoire de la République française." Self-translated.) Sounds like some of the Bush administration's justifications, just in a prettier language.

France even wants to lift the current European troop restrictions in Afghanistan to aid in the U.S.'s effort, which would allow more European countries to add their forces to the mix. Austrailia has criticized Europe in the past for arming down in favor of NATO defense, but this could be a whole new ballgame.

Similar to the debate we're having in America, the French government seems to lean towards funding a war which the French people don't want. According to a poll for Orange et L'Express, a French newspaper, 62% of the public opposes keeping troops in Afghanistan. They want a true debate over everyone's role in Afghanistan, whether it be a larger Afghan role in their own politics, other countries' contributions, a timetable of objectives, or clarification with Pakistan. They're allowed their own debate, just as we're allowing ours-- without charges of "unpatriotic" and "weak," but with rationality and true discourse.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Has the US made progress in Iraq?

From Latif: This particular article focused on the changes that have been happening in Iraq lately. Althougt there has been a recent case of a female suicide bombers lately killing 20 Iraqi people, the new US commander Gen. Ray Odiern, says that he sees much improvement within the Iraqi borders, but I haven't seen many changes that have occurred since the invasion or Iraq.
This issue relates to our, on going class, discussion on anarchy. Iraq, during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussian and then June 2004 sovereignty was returned to Iraq, was in terrible condition and probably the situation has worsen over the years. It has been quite a while since the US took over in Iraq, and still the changes are very apparent. In a short CNN video, they showed the ceremony that was held when Gen Ray Odiern was made the new commander of the US troops in Iraq, where the General is expected to control the violence , and meet with Iraqi government leaders. Its going to be very hard for the US to restore, a government that the Iraqi citizen with abide by, many Iraqi citizens are being killed in sucide bombings and the death toll rises, for both the American troops and the Iraqi people. I'm not quite sure how the US has made progress in Iraq, ever since their invasions and how they planning on improving the government since the citizens are not fully cooperating.

After Poisoned Toy… Now is Poisoned Powered Milk made in China

From Vicky Fan:

I would like to share this devastating news with all of you, especially for these who are parents already.

This Chinese milk product “Three Chinese Dairies (Sanlu)” have been contaminated with melamine, and also it contains fake high-protein additives for this product. The good news for US is this product mostly was consumed in China, but it also has been exported to Taiwan.
Further, because of the Olympic, China was trying to hide this news until the Olympic is completely over. In March, there were reports about sick babies due to the contaminated milk. Also in March, China exported the “poisoned powered milk” to Taiwan. The beginning of August, Sanlu (the milk company) found the melamine in their product, but they started recalled the product until September 11st.

In this article “Taiwan and China: Fury over poisoned powdered milk made in China”, it mentions “Before the Olympic Games, China government GAVE ORDERS to cover all the reports that might destroy the image of China…. we can see the China government chose to let their people die so that they can keep the positive image of China.”

I am an international student from Taiwan. In my opinion, this kind of action from China was full of the rudeness, and China absolutely no respect to Taiwan and the human rights. This is not tolerable. A week ago I was watching this news on Taiwan TV channel, and I saw the speaker man from China’s government was the first time announced this poison milk to the world. In his speech, there was sign of apology to Taiwan and to their people.

In the past decade, China rapidly became this very powerful country that other countries want to be alliance with. But China needs to learn about the human rights and to be respected to other countries’ citizens. Overall, I do hope the world organization will take serious actions on China before they poisoned rest of the world.

Realism in Spain in the year 2003

From Alejandra Diaz:

I would like to tak to you here about what happened in Spain in the year 2003 when the President Jose Maria Aznar decided to declare the war to Iraq, supporting the United States. Today in class while we talked about the fact that the states are self-interested actors, I remembered this moment of the history of my country in which thousands and thousands of spanish people went out to the street asking for the retreat of the troops of Iraq.

The Government did not listen to us though 9 of every 10 Spanish didn´t agree with the above mentioned war, the result was that in the following elections the above mentioned party (the one of Jose Maria Aznar) was voted out and since then in Spain governs the oposition party.

I just wanted to show, because you won´t probably know, the reaction to spanish population to that decision and the fact that the "realist" government (with sentences such us"not for future elections but for future generatons") in the end paid for it.

Defining the Bush Doctrine...Again!

From Muck: Much has been made of Sarah Palin's apparent "stumble" when asked by Charles Gibson to give her view of the Bush Doctrine. Yet even more surprising is the debate over the exact definition of the Bush Doctrine this episode has caused. Hardliner Charles Krauthammer quickly came to Palin's defense, arguing that it was Gibson who in fact got it wrong in oversimplifying what he suggests is a multifaceted and evolving doctrine. For Krauthammer, anticipatory self-defense (i.e. preemption) is only part of the Bush Doctrine. In his blog for Time, Joe Kline shot back, accusing Krauthammer and others of employing a "right-wing smokescreen" to "camouflage Sarah Palin's utter unfamiliarity with the Bush Doctrine." Former Bush speech writer, Michael Gerson endeavored to parse the differences with a 3 point definition that included preemption, democracy promotion, and economic development. Of course, only with time and greater reflection will a final definition be settled up. Yet given the geo-strategic dominance of containment and deterrence throughout the Cold War, one cannot but help to think that the Bush administration's foreign policy legacy will be define largely by its rebuff of these frameworks.

Suspects in Dehli bombings killed in gunfight

From Soch Mel

So this article I came across by in CNN international refers to the terrorism acts that are taking place in particular India. As we all know India is a predominately Hindu Republic, but tensions between the Muslim and the Hindus have been on going ever since the division of British India into the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However at least 200 million plus people in India are Muslim and they often live side by side with Hindus. The main reason why India was divided was so that the Muslim voice would not be overshadowed by the Hindu voice. And sadly there appears to be no easy solution to this problem as these religious tensions have been going on for decades but has gain momentum with the increase fear of Muslim terrorists.

The investigation of the Delhi Bombings lead officials to a neighborhood in South Delhi. Fun fact, when Delhi was the capital of British India, Delhi was a predominately Muslim city. However, the was some gunfire shot and the suspects were killed. They were members of a group known as the Mujahedeen. This group claims responsibility for bombings that hit busy marketplaces in New Delhi last week, with 24 people dead and wounding about 100 more.

These acts have been done before in India including the city of Jaipur. The Mujahedeen declared "open war" against India for its support of US policies as well as the suppression and inhuman treatment of Muslims in general.

I will definitely say Islam and Hinduism are two every different and polar opposite in terms of religious belief and tradition. So it would be no surprise that there is tension because Islam's goal is to spread the word of Allah (God), but Hinduism is not like that at all. It is much more loose and diverse yet is still very spiritual, and if I may add a bit more sexually free.

I would hope that there can be peace between the Muslims and the Hindus of India, but religion is the ultimate complicate and no side will back down. I do understand the feelings of the Muslim in India, but at the same time I do not believe acts of violent are ever appropriate. "Jihad" does not mean war, it means struggle against! I feel that any group like the Mujahedeen shouldn't use religion as a cloak to their war on India; sometimes the issue is deeper.

So this article is not at all long, but I think it is worth taking a look into. My specialty is anything relating to the Far East, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. So watch out for my future posts on international new from Asia.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Family of U.S. soldier in dark about 'non-hostile' death

From Grant Swanson

This article discusses the tragedy behind the death of Army Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson.
Dawson's parents were informed that their son was killed in Iraq on Sunday at a base south of Baghdad. The details around his death are very sketchy and leave his parents angry and confused. The statement that was released classified Dawson's killing as a "non-hostile." Apparently Dawson and another soldier (Sgt. Wesley Durbin) were shot and killed by a fellow US soldier. I find this incredibly disturbing. Furthermore, Dawson apparently called his mother and confided in her that he was terrified of his own soldiers...that he seemed to believe "they're more scary than the enemy." This was due to the fact that the other soldiers were inexperienced, jumpy, and just down right scared. Dawson seemed to predict his personal danger.
The part of this article that really gets on my nerves is that by calling this a death "non-hostile," Dawson's death will not be put into the official death toll of the Iraq war. This is a way in which the administration has been able to conceal the truth death toll of this war unlike any other previous conflict. Dawson died on the battlefield...whether it be by and Iraqi soldier or his own. The ways in which numbers are manipulated in order to blind the public make me sick.

Rice Condemns Russia's Actions

From Hollister

Last month, Russia bombed Gori, Georgia in response to the attacks in South Osseta, killing several people . The bombs hit not only military buildings, but residential buildings as well. Georgia was obviously furious as we can see from the president's actions.

"'Mr Saakashvili [The Georgian President] said he had decided to declare that Georgia was in a state of war because it was "under a state of total [Russian] military aggression".' (BBC News, August 9, 2008 "Russian Jet Attacks Town")

While she believes that Georgia's actions to gain back South Ossetia were rash, Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice said today that Russia's actions have put Russia in a state of "self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance." (The Washington Post, September 18, 2008, "Secretary Rice Sharply Criticizes Russia's Recent Actions")

Despite her harsh criticism, Rice made sure to denounce any second Cold War ideas, and to clarify that the U.S. "will continue to sponsor Russian students and teachers, judges and journalists, labor leaders and democratic reformers who want to visit America." (The Washington Post, September 18, 2008, "Secretary Rice Sharply Criticizes Russia's Recent Actions")

She also pledged that "we will continue to support all Russians who want a future of liberty for their great nation."(The Washington Post, September 18, 2008, "Secretary Rice Sharply Criticizes Russia's Recent Actions")

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A World Without Kim Jong-il?

From Muck: We are seeing some interesting reactions from officials in Washington to the news that Kim Jong-il recently had a stroke. Far from celebrating his potential demise, there is growing concern over the chaos and instability that his death might cause. Despite his many faults and quirks, Kim Jong-il was nonetheless a reasonably well known quantity. As the New York Times points out there is grave concern within the intelligence community over who would be in control of the nuclear program. The following quote shows just how complicated the nuclear issue has become.
“You know,” one senior intelligence official who would not speak on the record because he monitors the Pakistani arsenal said, “we used to have this great distinction between ‘states with nukes’ that we could deter the old-fashioned way, and ‘groups with nukes’ that we couldn’t deter.” But today, he said, “our biggest problem may be groups within states” that could take advantage of political chaos to seize what they need, either to sell it or to win a struggle for leadership of the country.

Don't Forget about Pakistan!

From Muck: While Iraq and Afghanistan continue to dominate discussions of global terrorism, Pakistan appears to have quietly emerged as the real central front in the "war on terror." After their expulsion from Afghanistan in 2002, Al Qaeda and Taliban forces have used the remote North-West frontier of Pakistan to reorganize and grow. Attacks on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan have undergone a dramatic increase over the last three months. An increase, the New York Times points out, is being driven largely by Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters residing in Pakistan. The Pakistani government, led by new President Asif Ali Zardari (widower of prime minister Benazir Bhutto), has refused to allow US troops to pursue these fighters into Pakistan (although this has not stopped the US). On Tuesday, Pakistan's army announced that it had ordered its troops to open fire on US troops if they launch another raid into Pakistan. Christopher Hitchens has gone so far as to talk of a potential Afghan-Pakistan war. Given gravity of the situation, one would hope that the issue takes a more significant role in the US presidential debate.