Friday, October 31, 2008

Turkish incursion into northern Iraq.

By: Alejandra Diaz-Gil

For Europeans, Turkey is certainly a delicate term. Although Ankara's candidacy for membership of the European Union (EU) was introduced eight years ago, it is still in negotiations for its adhesion to the block.

Now, the possibility of an imminent Turkish incursion into northern Iraq against the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK) has put the Europeans, strong opponents of military intervention in a difficult juncture. However it must be said that there is a “tacit consent” of Europe, so far.

There coud be two main reasons that justify this "tacit consent:

First, the United States, the EU and Turkey have included the PKK on the list of terrorist organizations, and all kinds of action to combat terrorism can not be subject to any criticism.
Secondly, the EU is putting many obstacles to Ankara in its process of accession to the bloc, so now the Twenty-seven can not risk worsening relations.

This incursion undoubtly will have positive consequences:Military action can relieve the pressure of public opinion within the country and at the same time strengthen Turkey's presence in Iraq, so that when U.S. and British troops withdraw from Irak, Ankara may exercise greater influence in the neighboring country.

Most important of all is that, ultimately, Turkey could prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq and to contain the Kurdish separatist movement in southeastern Turkey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Japanese Man Petitions to Marry Comic-book Character


From Vicky Fan:


This is the oddest news I ever read for 2008. I found this article “Japanese Man Petitions to Marry Comic-book Character” on Yahoo! news. It’s about a Japanese man, Taichi Takashita, enlisted 100s of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters. He also said, “I am no longer interested in THREE DEMENSIONS. I would even like to become a resident of the TWO-DIMENSIONAL WORLD.” He wants government to establish a low on marriage with cartoon characters. Further, some of the petitions also believe in this concept. One of them wrote- “For a long time I have only been able to fall in love with two-dimensional people and currently I have someone I really love.” “Even if she is fictional, it is still LOVING SOMEONE. I would like to have legal approval for this system AT ANY COST.”
Japanese comic-book fans sometimes go extreme, and this is the best example of it. The other news I read about mentioned that one Japanese women seeking to kill her parents because they want to throw away her comic books. Recently I read some news about Japan that marriage rate has decline, young people lost their job because of the economy, and young Japanese found it difficult to fine life partners. Also Asian countries are more of a family-oriented culture which the parents are willing to support their children as long as they have the ability. As a result, lack of independency for young Japanese people. Since these Japanese young adults lack of responsibility for living and rely on their parents, they are away from the social environment and addict with the internet and comic-book.

This news reflects a serious societal problem. Mass of Asian young adults live in the world creates by computer or comic book. I do think it’s very significant for young adult to learn and to be independent. These young adults need to be responsible themselves and other people surround them.

"Woman loses assisted suicide case"

By Fiorella Bafundo
A 45 year old English woman with serious health problems of sclerosis lost yesterday her case in the High Court, while she was trying to be sure that after her husband come back of a Swiss clinic, where she plans to end with her life, he won’t be prosecuted.
After an unclear resolution, she claims that it is her right to know if after her action his husband won’t be charged and won’t go to jail, as in the High Court they did not give her a clear criteria to judge which actions are cases of assisted suicide and which are not, she said "How can we make sure that we act within the law if they won't tell us in what circumstances they would prosecute?".
Lord Justice Scott Baker said that the law is clear but if a change is needed that means that only the Parliament can make something, they do not.
This is a case “of public interest” and has called the attention of different organizations in the world about the right of people to finish with their lives when that is wanted and the right of having someone to help them when is needed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"White Torture" Being Employed by Iran

From: Nick McGuire

According to a former Iranian citizen, the current Iranian regime is using what has become known as "white torture" against political prisoners. In an interview with CNN, Amir Fakhravar explained how he was held in a "covert" detention center used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The center apparently was completely devoid of color and insulated so sound was muffled as much as possible. "We didn't see any color, all of the cell was white, the floor was white, our clothes were white and also the light, 24 hours, was white. Our food, also, was white rice," Fakhravar said. He went on to say that the prisoners were forced to slip a white piece of paper under the door if he wanted to use the toilet and the guards who escorted him wore padded shoes to keep sound to a minimum. He was held in the detention center for eight months and after his release he said he could no longer remember his parents' faces. This form of sensory deprivation was documented by Amnesty International in 2004.

Fakhravar was an advocate for governmental reform in his homeland but was seen as a major supporter of regime change by authorities and was arrested at age 17. He was shuttled between prisons, eventually ending up in the "white torture" center where he was able to escape. He is now 25 and resides in the United States. He believes that the Iranian regime is extremely dangerous and determined to export the Islamic revolution around the world. They brainwash their youth into believing the globe should be converted to Shia Islam. He goes on to say that the only way that significant change will take place in his homeland is if complete isolation and significant economic sanctions are enforced. He even argued that Senator Barack Obama, who has stated that the US should engage Iran in dialogue if he becomes President, should not even bother. "He cannot find anybody to talk to him. It doesn't work..."


UN resolution urges U.S. to lift Cuba embargo

Amanda Dominguez:
The General Assembly Overwhelmingly approved a resolution for the U.S to lift its embargo on Cuba. The embargo that was place on Cuba in 1962 has restricted trade and travel to and from the United States. The 192 member assembly as 182-3 with to abstentions. The only ones who vote againts the resolution were the United States, Israel and Palau, a small country in he pacific.
Cuban foriegn minister Felipe Perez Roque gave a speech calling the U.S isolated and claiming that the whole world supports Cuba, which from the voting turn out, might not be that far from the truth.
U.S diplomat Ron Goddard made the claim that the U.S and every other country has the right to restrict trade and travel with any country they want. He also made the vague claim that the reason for the embargo was because Cuba was undemocratic state and that it restricts political and economic freedom for its people. The thing that struck me about this statement is that that criteria applies to half the major countries we trade with. There has to be a bigger reason for the embargo on Cuba. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saltines for Ahmadinejad

From Becky Bonarek: I am a firm believer in the power of Saltines, so I am giving a sleeve to the president of Iran, who is apparently suffering from exhaustion. To combat rumors of a more serious illness, he made a statement to the effect that every human suffers physical aliments sometimes, and he was grateful that it wasn't more serious. His more serious critics and opponents were using the rumors to cast further doubt on a president that is facing increasingly vocal opposition within his own country, so much so that he may not be elected for a second term. Ahmadinejad's illness (or whatever one would categorize exhaustion) has similar implications as the rumors about Kim Jong-Il's recent bout of bad health: how does one project an aura of power when one feels physically ill? The exhaustion may just fuel the sentiment that Ahmadinejad is no longer up to the task of running one of the largest oil producers in the world, and the people may not choose to reelect him. I don't know much about Iranian politics, so I can't exactly speculate on who would replace him, but either possibility (a more West-friendly administration or one that would seek to further isolate itself) would further rock the world of IR.

N. Korea threatens to turn South into 'debris'

By Reid Hulett

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27413846/

On Tuesday, North Korean military officials threatened to turn South Korea into debris. This threat comes just a day after the countries had military officials meet at and hold brief talks at the border. N. Korean officials made this statement in wake of the fact that S. Korean protesters have been sending propaganda across the border. They have been doing this by attaching leaflets to balloons and sending them over. Another factor leading to N. Korea's statement is that S. Korea has talked about launching a pre-emptive strike against their nuclear sites. North Korea has tried to get the South to stop sending over the leaflets, stating that they violate a 2004 inter-Korean accord banning propaganda warfare. However, S. Korea says that there is nothing they can do because it is not government people sending the flyers, it is citizens and protesters, and due to free speech, they can't make them stop. This situation could lead to a potential huge problem because it might cause us to take sides again, right after our situation with N. Korea seemed to be getting better.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Theft of nuclear material on the rise

From Justin Zipser

In a speech given to the UN General Assembly, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said that there were a "disturbingly high" amount of nuclear or radioactive material theft in the past year (ending June), The New York Times reports. The IAEA reported 250 such thefts, and whether or not this amount is due to the actual rise in theft or more so because of groups being more stigent in their reporting methods is yet to be known.

However, it should be noted that the material stolen is still relatively small-- even if all of it was compiled together, it wouldn't be enough to create one nuclear device. One cavaet of this logic, though, is that more of this stuff will be stolen as more countries construct nuclear development sites and more nuclear/radioactive material is created. As a country more and more disturbed by nuclear possession and terrorism, this go far to quell our fears. If these terrorist groups gain sizeable nuclear power, then they are just that much harder to stop.

As Congo Rebels Advance, Civilians Target U.N.


By Grant Swanson

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civilians began attacking UN offices today. The civilians are angry at the UN, claiming it has not done enough to protect them. The problem UN peacekeeping forces are encountering is that there are over 8 million civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also, the terrain is tropical and covered in forests. For these reasons, it is virtually impossible for the limited peacekeeping forces to protect all of the civilians from the powerful rebel forces. I found it very interesting that the rebel forces are lead by a Tutsi General: Laurent Nkunda. His goals are to have a political discussion with Congo’s current leaders to gain power, allow Tutsi minorities refugees stranded in Rwanda to return, and to shut down the Hutu militia who got away with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. These demands do not seem irrational to me. In fact, as an outsider, I feel that the general has a point. But the fact that he is resorting to such violent measures is terrible. If only the UN could have sat down with the General and reached a compromise, we may not have had such violence today!

Bomber in Police Uniform Kills 2 Americans in Afghanistan

by: Brett Hulett

After this latest incident in Afghanistan, it is clear that the conflict in the Middle East is becoming increasingly complex as foreign intervention continues. Originally, bombings in urban areas were primarily done by insurgents--men with known extremist ties would strap bombs to themselves and set it off in the middle of a shopping center. However, things are now much more complicated; insurgents now use various disguises to hide their true identities. In this case, an Afghan insurgent disguised himself as a police officer, infiltrated a local police station, and set off the bomb that has reportedly killed anywhere from 5 to a number of more people. The Taliban have taken responsibility for the attack and claim there are a number of more casualties than authorities have stated thus far. This is not the only concern for officials in recent times; the opposition is using more extreme measures than ever before. Women and children are now being coerced, or maybe even choosing to participate in the violence. Cases where women or children stop convoys so that insurgent forces may ambush the vehicle are surfacing all over the Middle East. Military are no longer able to simply aim for the forces in the opposition's colors--there are a number of factors that contribute to the complexity of this issue. It seems that as American presence in the Middle East increases, the methods enacted by the insurgents become more and more ruthless. There may be one clear thing in this increasingly sticky topic, and that is that the violence is not going away, and may only becoming more like a guerilla-style, where anything can and will go.

Terrorists Might be Tweeting on Twitter

From Hollister:
Twitter, which defines itself as "a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" may be an instrument used by terrorist organizations, according to the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion created a report which presented several instances in which terrorist organizations could use in their operations. These scenarios are available on ABC's coverage of this event. The fact that Twitter is already used to gain support for other extremist organizations such as "socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others" only adds to the list of reasons to believe that it could be used by terrorists as well.

In addition to presenting scenarios in which terrorists may utilize twitter, the report stated that terrorists might be using Twitter to communicate with others and that some of Twitter's features
"may allow [the second terrorist] to select the precise moment of remote detonation based on near real-time movement and imagery that is being sent by [the first terrorist]."

Columbian Congressman escapes the FARC after 8 years held captive

By Soch Mel

Congressman Oscar Tulio Lizcano escaped his captors after 8 years with help from a former captor. Lizcano was not allowed by his FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) captures to even talk, and so he read Homer's the Odyssey to pass time. Lizcano also suffered from hunger and disease which is shown clearly on his face when he got away from the leftist captors. They have been battling the Colombian government for over 40 years.

For the FARC, they say that kidnapping is a justified military tactic to use against the government. An estimate of about 750 hostages is how many the FARC have under their control. The Colombian government is trying hard to free the rest sending a message on their media saying hold on, hold on.

The Colombian government offers compensations for former captors who betrayed their org if they help set hostages free. The former captor that help the congressman escaped was offered resettlement in France with his family. What's interesting about this is that in Latin America, Kidnapping is not uncommon. This is a serious problem that needs to be address; and what's more interesting is that we talked about this in class once. Is kidnapping a justified method of war?

Congo's Civilians- Fighting for Their Lives


From Howell
17,000 UN security troops are unable to protect Congo's civilians as they flee from rebel's attacks. Thousands of civilians are fleeing their homes in fear of attack. Civilians have resorted to throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails in order to protect themselves. The recent attacks come after a week-long cease fire between the UN and the rebel army groups. Situations like this are not uncommon, since 1998, 5.4 million people have died because of this conflict-- roughly 45,000 people every month.
The current state of Africa absolutely amazes me- 5.4 million people... seriously?! 45,000 people a month-how do we not hear about this on an everyday basis? Our soldiers are fighting wars overseas for (arguably) just causes, by choice. These people are fighting for themselves, for basic survival needs. Society has been evolving for +2000 years, and there is still this degree of violence that leads people to fight for basic human life. It is (semi) comforting to see that the UN has stepped in, however it does not seem like they are able to make much of a difference in the peace-keeping. This article makes me feel helpless... Obviously something needs to be done, but what?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Afghan man get his eyes gouged out!!!!!


Hina Latif:

When I saw this article on the CNN's page, I could not believe my eyes, i have read the headline twice. These people are going way too far!!! For no apparent reason was this man, named Sayed Ghulam, 52 yrs old married with with 7 children. He raisies wheat and popcorn, and has no idea why the attackers attacked him, he says "I don't have any enemies. But they were not letting me talk. They put the AK-47 in my mouth and they were punching me". A spokesperson( Dauoud Ahmadi) for Helmand's governer blames the Taliban fighters, becuase they often kill innocent Afghans. While the Taliban spokes person says "Whenever we carry out an attack we claim responsibility, and that we did not gouge out the mans' eyes". Above is the picture of Ghulam at the hospital recovering, Ahmadi says that Ghulam is a normal farmer and has been a victim along with several others who have gotten their eyes gouged out this year.


Iraq Confused on How to Spend Gigantic Financial Surplus...??!



From Lexi Chase

Apparently Iraq has a huge financial surplus due to the money they bring in from oil... so much in fact, that they do not know how to spend all of it. Yes, according to an article on FoxNews.com entitled "US Trains Iraqi Bureaucrats on How to Spend Oil Riches," Iraq has a cumulative surplus of approximately $79 billion from "oil revenues and unspent funds from previous budgets." This is a concern for US tax payers because, why, if Iraq truly has a gigantic surplus, are we handing over around $12 billion dollars a year for the Iraq project? Why aren't they using THEIR money to fund the necessary operations such as reconstruction? According to the FoxNews article, there are 2 main reasons.
First of all, Iraq has a past of money being scarce, especially while being punished by the UN Security Council for Saddam Hussein's 1990 inasion of Kuwait. And even then, the majority of the people who delt with money were not who are in those positions now.
Secondly, and most importantly... [hense the title of this article]... the people who deal with the finances simply DON'T know what theyre doing! Iraq suffers from being terribly out of the loop when it comes to developing at the same speed as the "international community." As a result, there is an abundance of inexperienced bureaucrats in place. *However* the US is stepping in by hosting training seminars for the "money people" of Iraq. The main goals are to prepare these people for future decision making, and to increase Iraq's OWN spending to aid in its OWN reconstuction process (their reconstruction spending efforts are supposed to increase by 50% to $19.2 billion by 2009). Basically, Iraq can more than handle its issues, we just need to stop taking over, and instead allow THEM to make their own choices. But for now, the first step is the training...
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,443954,00.html

and PS, the above image has little relevence.... just that it's a giant spider attacking a bird. So watch out...

Syrians Blame U.S. in Deadly Blast on Iraq Border

Ellie Bittourna: On Sunday, an explosion killed nine construction workers and injured nineteen by the borders of Syria and Iraq. Some people who saw the explosion believed that it was the Americans that caused it. Later, a news channel in Syria reported that American helicoptors were responsible for attacking a building full of civilians, which resulted in the deaths of eight people. Right now, the United States is trying to negotiate an agreement with Iraq that would allow our military stay in the country and continue to carry out operations. Many surrounding countries dislike the idea because they feel that the U.S. may attempt to attack them as well. It seems as though the United States does not plan on pulling out of Iraq any time soon; this is something that will be causing increased opposition in the United States.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/27/world/middleeast/27iraq.html?ref=world

U.S. Attack in Syria

Justin Bjornson

The U.S. military is looking into a claim by the Syrian government that is blaming the U.S. for an attack in Syrian territory that killed eight and wounded one. Syrian leaders claim that four U.S. helicopters that were stationed in Iraq crossed the border and attacked a farm and then crossed over back in to Iraq. The attack killed three men, a woman, and four children. The attacks were carried out on a town near Al-Bukamal, which is where a Iraqi refugee camp is located.

I don't understand the reason for this attack on civilians that the U.S. military is carrying out. This is the second attack in as many weeks that have killed civilians. There is no reason for attacking these countries that the U.S. has no problems with and does nothing wrong. Last time I checked the U.S. public wanted out of the war and to bring the troops home. If the U.S. keeps attacking non-threatening countries they will get out of one war and start another. There just is no point for the killing of innocent people and the U.S. government seems to find it necessary and isn't attempting to avoid it. These attacks accomplish nothing and only make the U.S. hated by more people around the world. If there were strategic attacks on military bases it might be acceptable but the military is killing innocent women and children and is just going too far. Everyone across the world is already against the war and now on top of it innocent people are being killed and the dislike for the war on terror is just going to further. The U.S. government needs to stop killing innocent people and in turn focus on saving them.

Californian student held prisoner in Iran

from Guajardo: Esha Momeni, a graduate student at California State University at Northridge, was arrested October 15 for a "traffic violation." She has been in an Iranian prison for over a week. Momeni is part of the California branch of Change for Equality which is a women's rights organization. She was in Tehran conducting interviews with those involved in the women's right's movement. When she was arrested she was taken to her home where her materials used in her research were confiscated.

Not even Momeni's family has been told details of her situation or when she will be released. After being held five days, Momeni's parents visited the court for answers but were told not to return. Iranian officials have not commented at all on this situation. The prison Momeni is being held is known as the Evil Prison, which is notorious for holding political prisoners.

Momeni's lawyer says that the Iranian court privately told her parents that her involvment with the Change for Equality organization is the cause of her detainment. Her lawyer upholds her stand that because Momeni is merely conducting research and has not taken up arms against the government, her imprisonment is unethical.

US special forces launch rare attack inside Syria

Thomas Andre: I find this to be an interesting turn of events in the "War on Terror," though not unexpected. According to an article by the Associated Press, the U.S. launched an attack on Jordanian soil, against foreign fighters preparing to enter Iraq. The attack was done using helicopters and special forces troops. The government of Damascus has reason to complain about this breach of their sovereignty, however, what other options do we have from Iraqs border neighbors that are known to allow this kind of activity? Do we try to get approval from them and risk having some terrorist sympathizers and supporters give the information away to the people who are about to be attacked? That does not make a lot of sense. Jordan says they cannot secure their borders against the fighters unless America sends them the proper equipment to do so. The U.S. does not want to help in that way for fear that any supplies will make their way into the hands of terrorists. When I was over there myself, I saw empty ammunition and supply boxes that had come from Jordan. I do not necessarily agree on what was done here, and such actions will continue to destabilize the area, but are we given a lot of alternatives?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thousands of Iraqi Prisoners: Where to?

From Kurpalo

American soldiers won't be able to arrest Iraqi suspects after December 31st. There are over 17,000 Iraqi prisoners in the detention facitilities in Iraq's southern desert and of these 5,000 are considered "dangerous radicals."When released, these individuals are added to the already 40% that are unemployed. Camp Bucca will be closed down in the middle of next year. The Americans are making sure that the cases are clear against the prisoners so that they can be handled and charged under Iraqi law. In Iraqi law, however, conviction is said to require two witnesses that saw the crime that took place or heard the suspect's confession, which is difficult considering the amount of people and the situation in Iraq itself.

By the agreement made between the U.S. and Iraq, the U.S. will have to have to be out of Iraqi cities by 2009 and out of the country by 2011. The agreement also says "'when this agreement goes into effect all detainees in U.S. custody shall be released in a safe and organized fashion.'" which itself calls for chaos. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.

Part of the 'Triandle of Death' Back in Iraqi Control

Amanda Dominguez:

This past Thursday, troops formally handed over a one of the providence in Iraq known as Babil. Babil and its surrounding 18 states are known as the "Triangle of Death" because of the amount of violence that occurred there at the beginning of the war.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is along with a drop in violence, the Iraqi people are now calling for a troop withdrawal time line. Hint Hint.

None the less, it as been four years since we have enterd this controversial war and maybe its easier said then done, but its time for us to give it up.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

“China doesn’t want to be viewed as a replacement for the States”?

By Fiorella Bafundo

As the American crisis is having repercussions all around the world, many economists claim that the continue growth of China is needed to counteract the downturns of the United States and European countries. However, China is also experimenting some problems with its exports to Western countries and has started to implement new economic strategies to increase its domestic demand in a country where the levels of saving are very high.
Nowadays it is said that it is focused on protect its own economy and a lot of economists agree and are worried about its problems because there are many countries (including the “superpower” United States)that depend on it. American concern is focused especially on whether China will re-examine the mechanism of financing American debt, and in response to this Hu Angang, a Chinese economist, said “China, with the responsibility of a big country, will not make trouble for international financial markets”, “The Chinese government is very rational and flexible, and very clearly recognizes any policy does not just influence domestic markets but also global markets”.
No one is certain about what will happen, but a lot of experts agree that a change in the economic structure will happen and the position of China will be a key component on this change. “China doesn’t want to be viewed as a replacement for the States”,”We are still a developing country”, said a Chinese scholar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Savings from cheap gas not getting spent freely

Ellie Bittourna: Gas prices now are down to as low as $2.50. This has created a lot of extra spending money for the nation, as much as $125 billion. Although, some are thinking that this is too good to be true. Even though we are found to have extra money, the economy is not expected to become much better. Confidence in our economy is still low due to increasing unemployment, the bad real estate market, and our financial problems around the world. Not only were high gas prices something that Americans worried about, many now worry about losing their jobs, keeping up with high mortgage payments, and our failing retirement funds. Along with falling gas prices, the amount paid for a barrel of oil has decreased as well. During the summer, a barrel of oil peaked to almost $120, now, it has fallen to around $66 a barrel. This may not solve the economic problem now a days though because in recent years, if Americans found extra money in their pocket they would go out and spend it almost immediately. Now that extra money is put into savings. Low gas prices may give some hope, but people are definitely more cautious with spending money. Most will stick to the transportation that they have recently opted to. This can be as broad as carpooling, taking the train or bus, riding mo-peds or motorcyles, or driving their cars.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27328429/

Blackwater Lite - Somali Mercenaries Free Hijacked Ship

From: Nick McGuire

A group of
Somali mercenaries serving as an impromptu coast guard freed a hijacked Indian dhow off the northern Somali coast this past Tuesday. After a short firefight, four of the hijackers were captured while the remaining four escaped. None of the ships thirteen crew members were wounded. Somalia does not have a designated coast guard and many local leaders do tend to rely on heavily armed militia groups to patrol the coast especially in high risk areas. In total, 30 ships have been hijacked this year in Somali waters with nine still remaining in the hands of pirates. The United States along with many other nations in the international community have been attempting to curtail the attacks as much as possible but as of yet have not come to a consensus on the proper course of action to accomplish that goal.

This raises an important question concerning the effectiveness of international intervention. Clearly, the situation in Somalia has become extremely unstable to the point where it is negatively affecting international trade. Yet the other nations involved have done very little to deter these brazen attacks. Merely sending ships to patrol the coast is simply not a deterrent when the opposition is almost always more mobile and more adaptable. And guarding ships that have already been hijacked or paying off the hijackers to avoid conflict? It's a waste of manpower and capital. Personally, if I was a Somali official, I would rely on mercenaries too because these attackers do not respond to anything except force. Pander to them and they always return to steal again as we've seen over the past year. The international community's feeble actions and horrific response time have only emboldened these pirates to the point where the only recourse is to start taking them out of the equation. 

It's obvious that NATO or the U.S. or any other international player is not going to get the job done so I say let the mercenaries roam free. Let them use whatever means necessary to maintain order. They may not be willing to give up that authority once the waters are safe again...but that's a problem for another day.

Virtual Strip Search

Katie Crawford-
A story has risen in Strasbourg, France over the new technology of virtual strip search. This new type of technology is a scanner that shows airport security what is underneath your clothing. This means that your clothes will be see-through. Most airports are saying that this type of technology is a last resort. The main idea is that by doing this, they won’t have to physically touch you, but still be able to see if you are concealing anything in the body or just below the clothes.
These scanners have brought about debate of personal intrusion in the European Union. They want to make sure that they are only being scanned if there is a probable cause. As for the United States, we have already implemented them at several airports, and more countries are testing them. The American Civil Liberties Union has campaigned saying that the use of this technology should never be for routine checking, but as a last resort and put in place of strip searching. As for the European Union executive body, they say that the legislation would respect safety and privacy would be put in place, and if you did not want to have this type of scan, that there could be alternative types of search. This is just another way of showing there is more technology to keep all of the world’s travelers as safe as possible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India Launches Orbiter to Moon.

From Alejandra Diaz Gil.
India has launched its first lunar mission, with hopes of achieving high-resolution images of the moon's topography. The two-year mission seeks high-resolution imaging of the moon's surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions. It will also search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical breakdown of certain lunar rocks.

The goal of this mission is also to “probe the physical characteristics of the lunar surface in greater depth than previous missions by other nations." Said the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) but the true reasons could be to look for mineral samples from the moon contained Helium 3, a variant of the gas used in refrigerators, and also look out for the gas which experts believe may offer a solution to energy shortage, among many other economical reasons.

India's Moon program is directly linked with Russia. Last year, the two countries signed an agreement on a joint lunar expedition in 2011-2012. This time a space ship consisting of two modules will fly to the Moon. The first module will stay in lunar orbit, while the second one will make a soft landing. A lunar rover will roll out of it to collect data on the Moon's mineral resources.

Recently China and Japan, also put lunar orbiters in place. China launched its mission on October 24, 2007, just weeks after Japan launched another orbiter.

All this developing countries are now diving into the international space race, they know it can be an useful source of energy and that will be a key point to determine their eventual power.

India Launches Orbiter to Moon.

From Alejandra Diaz Gil.
India has launched its first lunar mission, with hopes of achieving high-resolution images of the moon's topography. The two-year mission seeks high-resolution imaging of the moon's surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions. It will also search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical breakdown of certain lunar rocks.

The goal of this mission is also to “probe the physical characteristics of the lunar surface in greater depth than previous missions by other nations." Said the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) but the true reasons could be to look for mineral samples from the moon contained Helium 3, a variant of the gas used in refrigerators, and also look out for the gas which experts believe may offer a solution to energy shortage, among many other economical reasons.

India's Moon program is directly linked with Russia. Last year, the two countries signed an agreement on a joint lunar expedition in 2011-2012. This time a space ship consisting of two modules will fly to the Moon. The first module will stay in lunar orbit, while the second one will make a soft landing. A lunar rover will roll out of it to collect data on the Moon's mineral resources.

Recently China and Japan, also put lunar orbiters in place. China launched its mission on October 24, 2007, just weeks after Japan launched another orbiter.

All this developing countries are now diving into the international space race, they know it can be an useful source of energy and that will be a key point to determine their eventual power.

"The discovey of America" or "The genocide of America"

By Fiorella Bafundo

On October, 12th in commemoration of the 516 years of "The Discovery of America" the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, gave a speech in his country where he said "we must call things by their name: what we had in America was a genocide here or there was no discovery, no civilization, no evangelism, or encounter, here there was the greatest genocide that has known history. " As it is said that during European colonization more people died than in the Holocaust, he said that this date should not make people think about Columbus, and criticized the press that still call that episode as "The discovery of America".
As him, a lot of people believe that the arrival of European colonists changed all Americans' culture and history, with the extermination of most of the American aborigines and the exploit of their natural resources which caused them years and years of dependence, and even for a lot of people, it determined the differences between developed countries and undeveloped ones.
By the end, Hugo Chavez pointed out that "Today is a day to encounter ourselves, is a day to remember our roots and is a day to say the American Indian and alive is a day of battle, of dignity, a day of truth, a day of fighting, one day symbolic. On Oct. 12 were five centuries of struggle, they were 500 years was not a day. "

Monday, October 20, 2008

3 Oil-Rich Countries Face a Reckoning

By Reid Hulett

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/world/21petro.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

Venezuela, Iran, and Russia all have economies very much based on there oil producing capabilities. That is the main source of revenue in these countries, and they were prospering recently due to the ridiculously high gas prices, which at one point were as high as $147 a barrel. However, because oil prices are dropping so much, ($74.25 a barrel as of Monday night), there economies are also taking a little bit of a hit.

If there is a worldwide recession, which a lot of experts are saying is possible, it could make this situation worse for these three countries. A worldwide recession would cause a decrease in the demand for the oil and keep the prices low. To make the matters worse for them, due to the fact that oil prices have been so high and they have been making so much money, they have largely increased their spending. And if oil prices don't go back up, they could go into deficit spending or cause them to choose priorties on which to spend money.

Although Venezuela, Iran, and Russia face no immediate economic crisis, there is still some worry among them. If oil prices continue to drop, or even just stay at the current price, these countries could be facing an economic crisis.

Taliban Kill Christian Aid Worker

From: Brett Hulett

The attacks against Westerners in the middle East continued today when a 34-year old woman from Great Britain was murdered. The woman, Gayle Williams of Great Britain, was in Afghanistan aiding handicapped Afghans. However, some groups felt Williams was preaching the ideas of Christianity and felt this was unacceptable. One of the spokesman for the group that murdered Williams claimed she was "proselytizing" and trying to convert Afghans to Christianity. One of the leaders of Williams' charity group, SERVE, stated that these allegations couldn't be further from the truth--"It's not the case that they preach, not at all, They are here to do NGO (aid) work."
Still, this sort of hostility is becoming more common with the passing years. Last year, 23 aid workers from South Korea were taken hostage, two of which were later killed. Many Afghan cities are in near states of chaos--wealthy Afghans are being targeted and kidnapped, and anyone suspected of spreading terrorism is taken hostage and in some cases, murdered. the sense of insecurity is growing; with increasing bomb threats and a certain recklessness of many individuals, the country is being torn apart at its core.

Taliban Kill Christian Aid Worker

NATO Warships Arrive to Deter Somali Pirates

Stephanie Gesselle

On Sunday,  the United Nations deployed seven NATO ships to secure the World Food Program ships carrying relief supplies to Somalia. These ships have been worried to be under a threat from somali pirates which have been attaching numerous ships in the area. Previously the ships had been protected by Canadian military vessels but the agreement expired this week. Nur Hassan Hussein, the Somali Prime minister said he welcomed the arrival of the ships in hopes that they would help to deter the Somali pirates. There have been over 60 ships attacked in the past year and this has doubled since last year.  The losses resulting from this piracy are close to $30 million. As well as damages accumulated, there have been ransoms paid out to the pirates. The pirates are said to be members of an Islamic militant group fighting for control over Somalia. 
The pirates are still holding a Ukrainian ship that had been carrying soviet made weapons to the coast. The ship was captured in the fall and is being monitored by U.S. ships currently. The pirate activity is seen as an enormous threat to the waters and all countries.

Are we alone in the Universe?

From Alejandra Diaz:

I have to say I don't believe that the declassification yesterday of the British Ministry of Defence files reporting encounters with unidentified flying objects in British airspace shows that we have found aliens. However, I am open-minded about the possibility that they do exist.

Space probes have revealed evidence for water, suggesting that Mars may once have been hospitable to life. As well as life could also exist in the ice-covered oceans of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

I think there is abundant time for posthuman intelligence to spread through the entire galaxy and even if life were now unique to Earth, we should not conclude that it is going to be like this forever, since the cosmos is still nearer its beginning than its end.

Bush Agrees To Host Global Crisis Summit

By Grant Swanson

The current global economic crisis has reached an all time zenith. As a result, President Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have called for a global summit to discuss the problems that have descended upon our world. The key issue that will be discussed is reform to our current system of capitalism. European countries are generally socialist democracies and their belief is that the US is having such economic turmoil because of capitalistic privatization. Privatized retirement plans, or hedge funds, are an excellent example of what the European countries are considering a massive problem to the US’ economy and must be reformed. Due to the success of such reforms in Europe and the desperation of the current US economic crisis, Bush is much more willing to listen to what ideas the European world has to offer. In another article, China and India are reported to have not been invited to the global summit. A later comment says that China is also reported to look down upon America. A prominent economists in China said in an interview that Chinese children were once raised to admire the US...but now there is no reason to look up to the US. China can now look down upon the US' system of chaos. The interesting thing about the global summit is that it has been set for a date two weeks after the next election. Thus, President Bush will not be dealing with the summit...the next President will. I do not envy Obama or McCain. Whoever does win will have the world’s scrutiny and US’ economic demise on their palate. I wish them luck.

China's Plan to Help Pakistan

From Hollister:
Last week, China had announced that it would aid Pakistan in its economic energy crisis, but did not give details on how this would be done.

The details have emerged as of Saturday. China will aid Pakistan by building two nuclear power plants in Pakistan. China will be investing heavily in this endeavor to aid an ally with financial support.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has visited China, and plans to continue those visits systematically so as to encourage relations between the two countries. Zardari has been calling China "the future of the world."

Pakistan is very grateful, especially considering the US's refusal of a similar deal with Pakistan to that of India.

Another Stab Attack

Soch Mel

In South Korea, a man went on a rampage in Seoul killing at least six people and wounding about 7 others. The 31-year-old Suspect identified by his surname Jeong set fire to his room in southern Seoul and then stabbed other residents in his facility with a sashimi knife. Five were stabbed to death while one died when that person jumped out of a window to escape the fire. The Suspect was later caught where police question his motives. Jeong was unhappy saying that his life has no meaning and that "people look down" on him. It was also found that he was having some tough financial pressure as he was out of work since April from a restaurant he used to work at. He was not able to pay for his rent and his mobile charges. The police took away from him two more knives and a tear gas gun.

This king of incident is not uncommon in South Korea or even Japan, just a few months ago a man went on a rampage in Akihabara, a district in Tokyo. And in the past, there were other similar incidents in South Korea.

So what I think is important about this story is why would this kind of behavior be common in the Far East than anywhere else in the world? This sort of suicidal/homicidal behavior seems to be on the increase in particular males who have some sort of money issue or low self-esteem. Is this the result of the mixture of East Asian Culture and the importation of Western Culture? I cannot fully give an answer, but I think this is worth looking into for observation and research. The last thing we need in a modern, stable society is to have members of the society feel this way and then commit some sort of act that maybe they don't really want to commit.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

China Slowing Down..

From Guajardo: Lately China seems to be the global player to look out for. It's economy and modernization has been steadily increasing and causing other countries to take a second look at China as a future economic competitor. However, China has struggled with several factors that experts are saying will actually begin to slow China's economy just a bit. A 7.9 earthquake took 90,000 lives and a fierce winter storm killed hundreds during it's busiest travel time. Inflation, high energy costs and the world financial crisis will decrease China's economic growth by 9%. Premier Wen Jiabao said "the turmoil and economic instability will have a "gradual" effect on the country."

Goals for China's leader's are to decrease unemployment and control inflation by focusing on the rural middle class and helping out small business by making loans more accesible to them. Advantages for China include its large labor pool, vast domestic market and the increasing competitiveness of its companies.

Olympics Building Chief: Life Imprisonment Or Execution?

From: Kurpalo
The former Beijing vice mayor, Liu Zhihua, has been suspended for two years on his execution. He was charged with bribery, accumulating to about $1 million, that his mistress and himself spent luxuriously. He abused his stance and power, pocketing money from loans and promotions. He also supervised the construction of the Olympics in Beijing as well. He was arrested in 2006 for corruption. After the two year suspension, it is a possibility that he will get life imprisonment instead of execution for "good behavior."

I could actually infer from this story that it's quite possible that he is not the only person that would have done this or has done this, but he was one that was caught and has to face the consequences now. It's interesting to see how immediately he would face execution, such a harsh penalty but considering their government and policies it would make sense. Although, life imprisonment in China doesn't sound like my cup of tea either...

Other Consequences of the Financial Meltdown

From: Becca Smith

The financial meltdown has more effects on the world than just causing people to panic about their disappearing retirement funds. Last month, Chinese workers were building a Ritz-Carlton hotel on the remote nine-square mile West Caicos. The project was stopped because it was funded by the Lehman Brothers and last month the company went bankrupt. The island is located to the Atlantic Ocean and is relatively close to Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Due to the financial crisis, Chinese workers were not getting paid because the project failed. On Thursday, the workers demanded their paychecks and are reported holding Israeli contractors on the site. The island is under siege and the number of Israelis being held is unknown. However, Ygal Yancovitz, the project contractor’s manager, said that while the workers are angry, no one is being held hostage. A witness said that the island is being closed off, but currently no one is being hurt.

The financial times are leading to desperate measures. The workers may start to get frustrated if their paychecks are not delivered soon enough, and they may eventually resort to violence. While I do not agree with the Chinese for holding the Israelis against their will, it would be frustrating to spend weeks building a hotel, hoping to collect a paycheck, and then to be told there is no money. Hopefully the workers will be getting their money and will let the Israelis free as soon as possible.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/10/16/island.workers.rebel.ap/index.html

Bus Pasangers killed in Afghanistan

Justin Bjornoson
There was recently another disturbing attack in Afghanistan. Terrorists took hold of a bus and killed between 30 and 40 passengers on the bus. The attack was carried out by the Taliban and, their spokesman said that they captured and killed 27 Afghan soldiers on the bus. Other reports show that the bus was full of civilians. Afghan officials have only received 6 of the bodies from the kidnapping of the bus and the bodies were reportedly all decapitated. It is also said in the article that 50 passengers were captured, but 10 were released while the other hostages were taken to Band Timor district in Afghanistan.

Personally I am sick of hearing about these terrible things happening in the Middle East. This problem relates directly to what we covered in class recently and bring the question back up. Can terrorism be defeated? In my opinion there is no possibility of a complete defeat of terrorism. The only possibility of slowing down the violence is if the U.S. pulls out the troops from the Middle East. The war on terror is going nowhere and is only costing the U.S. money and lives. The war is accomplishing nothing and if people want to stop hearing about mass killing of civilians and soldiers the war on terror has to end.

Bus Pasangers killed in Afghanistan

Saturday, October 18, 2008

China helping Pakistan

Hina Latif:

I do not know how I feel about china helping Pakistan rebuild 2 nuclear power plants, providing an additional 680 megawatts of power. But I do not think its a good idea at all. Pakistan needs to rebuild its government and country first before they build this expensive project, I mean the country is listed as one of the poorest countries in the world, why is a nuclear power plant on the top of President Asif Ali Zardari things to do list??..

On the other hand Pakistani military killed 60 Taliban members in the northwest of Pakistan. The Pakistani military were trying to save a Chinese engineer who had been kidnapped by the Taliban. The Swat Valley, where this occured, was a famous tourist site, and it has been in the use of the Taliban since 2007.

Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain, Obama and the Environment

From Vicky Fan:

The article “McCain, Obama and the Environment” stresses about how important the environmental issues are, and hopefully the new president can bring the environmental issues to the high priority. I do believe the next major war conflict will due to the scarcity of the resources. The United States uses the most oil in the world, and we’re mainly using oil to produce power energy. The reason we’re relying on importing oil resources because it’s cheap! Nuclear power plant or other advanced technologies are very expensive relative to outsourcing oil. I do think that nuclear power plant will contaminate the environment as well. Recently I saw a video introduce about Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), and it’s very interesting. It uses ocean waves to generate power, and I believe it’s a cleaner, safer, and efficient energy for the future use.

I like the article mentions about the concept of “greenpeace”, and we do need a president makes good policies to lower the contamination of the environment. Like the article said “reaching international agreement will be easier if US domestic policy is in step with combating climate change.” The difference between Obama and McCain’s assertion is obama believe nuclear power is the key to resolve the problem. He said “Nuclear power is safe, and it’s clean, and it creates hundreds of thousands of job.” McCain was talking about renewable energy. No matter what kind of method the new president will implement, but I do think it’s very important for the president to enforce some policies. I do think American waste a lot of energy, and it’s really hard for people to live back to the Stone Age to save the recourses. We should start something easy. For example, a lot of offices and stores (like the malls) have their lights open for 24 hours long which is totally unnecessary, and plus there are no people walking around middle of the nights pay attention those commercial displays. The government needs to educate their citizens and enforce the policies in order to really help the environment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Worst One-Night Stand EVER


From Becky Bonarek: Two Britons were arrested this July in Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, for having sex on the beach. Literally. Charged with sex outside marriage, public indecency, and drunkenness, the two were sentenced to three months in jail and a $270 fine for their indiscretions after an all-you-can-drink champagne brunch. They deny ever having sex, and their lawyer is appealing, but just how far their claim will get is anyone's guess. In a country caught between the desire to Westernize, keep up with the Jones, and the pressure from its conservative Arab neighbors, such an event can only serve to exacerbate the tensions. The U.A.E. will definitely feel the U.K. breathing down its neck in the future, trying to get its citizens merely deported from the country; it will also hear outcry from more conservative countries, saying that they should have received the maximum sentence of two years in jail. Not only is this issue interesting from a state-to-state standpoint but also a culture-to-culture standpoint. One must realize that when one travels in a foreign country with values as different as going from the fairly liberal U.K. to the comparatively conservative U.A.E., one is under the foreign country's rule of law. That means, if Country X believes holding hands with someone of the opposite sex is utterly wrong, then don't hold hands with someone of the opposite sex! If one visits another country, then one should remember to abide by its rules, just like a guest would in someone else's house. Respect should come above all else.

North Korea threatens to freeze ties with South


Thomas Andre: As the United States has removed North Korea from the list of nations supporting terrorism, there has been threats from the North to cut off all ties with South Korea. The government at Pyongyang feels threatened and insulted by the new president of the South that was has taken a hard line policy of being tough against their neighbors. This is opposite of the aggressive reconciliation policies of Lee's predecessors. Even with all of the progress that has been made between the two nations, there is constant tension between them. They are both ready to go to war at any time and with the new conservative South Korean government increasing tensions with their new approach, only time will tell if this will prove to be a wise decision or a foolhardy one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Iraqi Female Suicide Bombers: No Longer Shocking -By Carla Marcus

Ellie Bittourna: Since 2005, the number of female suicide bombers has tripled. In the present day, many people in Iraq are no longer suprised to hear that a female has been a suicide bomber. Carla Marcus stated in the article, "Female suicide bombers have become as common an occurrence here as roadside bombings, political assassinations, and public mourning." The females that are participating in suicide bombing can be practically any age. A story came to attention in the article about a 15-year old girl named Rania, who turned herself into the Iraqi police. As she turned herself in, she was drugged by her fellow terrorists and strapped with 33 pounds of explosives. Another story was of a girl who blew herself up in front of a courthouse, which killed 10 and injured 17. When they examined her remains, they revealed that she was only 14 years old. Older women in Iraq have also been recruiting younger ladies as suicide bombers. Many of these women, young to old, have been victims of terrorist attacks themselves. Some only wanted to be suicide bombers because their family has died in previous attacks. The women want to either "give their life to God" or get revenge against the people who killed their family. Another possible reason could be that they feel disconnected with their society or they are feeling depressed. One of the worst events involved two women bombers who decided to attack at a pet market. About 100 were killed and 145 were injured. The recipients of this attack were mainly small children because they went there after school. This is horrific and something that is really turning into quite a problem in Iraq. Al-Qaeda is currently trying to recruit as many women as possible to keep the cause alive. Unless drastic measures take place they will not stop any time soon.

http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/10/13/1539959.aspx

Iceland Bankrupt and sale on eBay

From Vicky Fan:

This world financial crisis actually wiped out Iceland. I read this new “Iceland auctioned off on eBay to highest bidder.” In this article it mentioned supposed Iceland wishes Britain and the United States help them, but both of the countries attack by this financial crisis as well. Once Iceland declared bankruptcy then the lawmakers’ last options is to “sell Iceland on eBay.” Iceland will be sold to highest bidder. There is a “buy now” option for 1000 euros. I couldn’t find the auction page on UK’s eBay website, but this is what looked like the webpage before.

The other article “Iceland goes bankrupt” mentions Iceland bankrupt means the country can’t pay back their extreme debt so their currency no longer has any value. Further, the United Kingdom wanted to sue Iceland to get their money back. It also indicates that US’s GOD equals our external debt, so we’re okay. But for the UK and Switzerland are major financial intermediariers with big external debts, so as those countries’ currency starts to devalue, their debts will become worse.

I do think it’s too easy to take out a loan from a bank in US. That’s why this subprime debt hit us badly. Couple years ago, one of my friend brought a house with 100% finance, but last year he lose his job, so the government took his house. Everyone in US has debt, and it’s almost impossible to live without any debt. Especially I am going to graduate next year, with this extremely bad economy, I am considering to go to graduate school instead of wondering around can’t find a job.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UN Inspects NK

From Hollister:

Recently, North Korea started up its nuclear program again, and did not allow UN to inspect the nuclear sites.

After Washington took Pyongyang off its terrorism blacklist, UN nuclear watchdog inspectors are in North Korea, resealing nuclear facilities.

Despite Japanese disapproval of this action, the US no longer considers North Korea a blacklisted nation. If Washington's decision is reversed, North Korea has made it clear that the UN inspectors would be removed once again.

This deal does not grant the inspectors full access to any site with nuclear relevance, but access is granted based on mutual consent of both parties.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Iraq's Christians Ask For Protection

From Grant Swanson

This audio article is discussing a systematic killing of Christians in Iraq that has begun in the last year. In the past few weeks, 8 Christians have been killed in Baghdad. Christian leaders in Iraq claim that they are being targeted by some group. Investigation has followed this claim and the outlook is menacing. It appears that Al Qaeda is attempting an extermination of Christians in Iraq. Iraqi Christians have begun to flee the Country in droves as a result. A Church leader was interviewed in the article and he states that 89 Church members have been murdered from that Church alone in the last year. Before the American insurgency, Iraq had one of the highest groups of Christians in all of the Middle East. There were thought to be 800,000 Christians in Iraq in 2003…but less than 100,000 now. I don’t understand this. Is this because Al Qaeda views the invasion of Iraq as a religious war more than a war for democracy? Because of this are they are trying to stick it to the US by killing Iraqi Christians? I just don’t know. All I do know is that this is incredibly frightening and I think it is sad we do not hear about this. This situation has all of the ingredients for the start of a religious genocide. I hope and pray that never occurs. But the bigger question is: how do we respond?

Laughter Makes the World Go Round

From Medina: Or so it would seem in the European Union.

A friend passed this article from a German news site on to me today. The general idea is that the level of ridicule between countries in the EU corresponds to how much they have bonded and grown to accept each other as a group of nations living and working together. Even in the article, it says, "Academics say that such jokes usually only target nations with which the teller is familiar."

Of course, there is a difference between lighthearted jabs and full-on cruelty. For example, the article makes light of the long-standing uneasiness between Austrians and Germans, which leads to some pretty harsh quips. However, the article goes on to say that these jokes can be interpreted as a sign that the EU is becoming more integrated and generally more comfortable in its own skin. Rather than acting as a force that singles out certain groups, this kind of humor--when used between all countries--seems to be acting as a social glue.

I thought it was an interesting read because, although there are many different types of humor, this is something to which almost everyone can relate. For example, stand-up comedians always make jokes and tell anecdotes about people in their lives who are just a little different in some way. I've even heard it said by a few comedians that "if we're not making fun of you, we haven't accepted you." Even on a more personal level, those with siblings can probably relate to the times spent exchanging jabs about past events (e.g., having braces, saying something ridiculous to Aunt Melba on Christmas morning, etc.). Regardless of the level of sibling rivalry, there is still a complex bond that both confuses and amazes those on the outside.

EU lifts travel ban on Belarus president

From Justin Z: In a surprising move, the European Union temporarily lifted a travel ban placed on President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and 34 other country officials on Monday, CNN.com reports. According to the article, the move is the EU's way of telling Belarus that their international relations will improve if Belarus takes the proper steps to remove their dictatorship, the continent's last of its kind. Belarus was receptive of the dropped ban but the article doesn't mention anything about their feelings regarding a change in government. Anatoly Lebedko, leader of the opposition United Civil Party, said that the move is just an attempt on behalf of the EU to draw Belarus away from Russia and won't improve democracy in the country. Even those in the EU say that while the move is good to hear, the relations between Belarus and the West/EU are far from perfect.

Sergei Kostyan, a member of Belarus' parliamentary foreign affairs commission called the move, "a good step for Europe and for us. It's hard to hold discussions or solve anything through an iron curtain." To this point, it does indeed seem like a step in the right direction. When two stubborn entities continue to stay in their ways, it takes one side to acquiesce-- in this case, it was the EU. Still though, there is much work to do, especially when the last high-level contact with Belarus was back in 2004.

The Increasing Threat Of Global Terrorism

By: Brett Hulett

The threat of terrorism in the world is at an all-time high. New, extreme ways of inflicting pain on opposing forces are being introduced and it seems like those involved continue to get more and more ruthless. Adding even more to this already frightening trend is the recent surge in cases concerning suspecting treason. Today, Pakistani officials reported the arrest of Juddi Kenan, a resident of Florida, according to his American passport. Officials have reported the man did not have to access to the region in which he was detained, an area suspected to be a hiding place for Osama bin Laden.
What makes this thought scary is that it seems to be occurring more often as time passes. With access to global travel increasing and families becoming more diverse, many are being faced with a decision of where their alliances truly lie. Does one ally themselves with where they were born? Or do they find their alliance with the country in which they were raised and may live in current times.
A similar situation just occurred involving a a translator for the UK military. Colonel Daniel James, born Esmail Mohammed Beigi Gamasai of Iran, is being accused of sending encoded messages regarding confidential information to Iranian forces over the past several years. Again in this case, authorities claim that James was torn between helping his current country and helping the country in which he was born and raised as a teenager.
I think this new trend is a growing threat on a global scale. With increased tensions between nations, family ties and backgrounds will continue to strengthen and will lead to problems on a global level. And with the further diversifying of many cultures, many families will find it harder to distinuguish themselves in these certain groups.

N. Korea Allows Access to Nuclear Sites

From Reid Hulett

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27161873/

Just a day after the U.S. made the decision to remove North Korea from its terror list, N. Korea has once again allowed the U.N. access to their nuclear sites. N. Korea had actually stopped disabling their atomic program earlier about two months ago in response to the United States delay in taking them off the terror list. At the same time, the country was beginning to reassemble their plutonium-producing facility. They had also stopped letting inspectors into the site.

However, now that the U.S. finally took them off the terror list, they are once again cooperating with the U.N. by letting them back in the sites to inspect and oversee the process of disassembling their program. So, this could mean that the U.S. has one less country to worry about. This is a huge deal because N. Korea was quickly becoming a bigger threat to the U.S., but now it seems, even if just for a short period of time, that they do not need to be constantly under our watch. Hopefully, this will lead to better relations between the two countries.

North Korea off of Terror List

Thomas Andre: The fact that the U.S. is taking North Korea off of the list of countries that sponsor terrorism does not do a whole lot to reassure most people that that is actually true. The United States is doing this because the communist nation is agreeing to reopen its nuclear facilities to the IAEA(International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors. At the same time, all of the sanctions and other such restrictions have not yet been removed. By itself, being removed from that list does little, however, if the North Korean government continues to cooperate with U.N. inspectors, they could eventually see the lifting of the sanctions and actually get help to the starving people of that country. They are the innocent victims of all this political mayhem.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

U.S. Strike in Pakistan

Justin Bjornson

Four people were killed in a suspected U.S. missile strike in the North Waziristan region on Sunday. The attack was one of two missile attacks in Pakistan; the second missile didn't kill or wound anyone. While the attack on Pakistan was suspected to have been carried out by the U.S. there was no comment from the U.S. military and the NATO press office. While the U.S. hasn't owned up to the strike the U.S. is the only military working in the nation with capability to carry out such a strike. The area of the attack is known as a place that harbors the terrorist groups Taliban and al Qaeda.

This article shows the attitude that the U.S. government has about the rest of the world. The attacks were taken out in Pakistan who the U.S. is currently not at war with and while there was suspicion of al Qaeda and Taliban forces there was no hard evidence presented and the action was never warned. The U.S. is having several problems economically and starting a war with another country will do nothing but cost more money and more American lives. I don’t know why the U.S. government chooses to carry out acts of war on countries that are not an immediate threat. The public has voiced its opinion about the war on terror and the government still chooses to start more wars. The government needs to lay low and fix the economic problems in the country instead of starts more wars and in turn more spending.

Sarkozy to help European economy

From: Becca Smith

French President Nicholas Sarkozy led 15 European countries to develop a plan to help relieve banks after the financial crisis in the United States. Sarkozy said the plan would helping guarantee lending between banks, refinance banks, and help ensure that problem banks will not fail. This plan will also give banks some additional flexibility as well as protecting individual depositors' accounts. This plan will be available until December 2009.

Sarkozy stated "What we want is to give back banks the means to lend, to support the economy to enable households to borrow for mortgages or consumption and give companies the means necessary to invest for growth. We cannot have a healthy economy and sustainable growth unless we have a solid financial sector." Sarkozy also said that he wanted to make sure that the plan was developed before the markets opened Monday morning.

Signs of an Upcoming Culture Clash?

From Brianna Howell: Violence in India is raging because of the ongoing religious battle between Christians and Hindus. Violence is not new in this issue, it is only elevating. Recently, more than 30 people have been killed, 3,000 home burned and 130 churches destroyed. Currently in India, roughly 2% of the population is Christian, compared to the 1.1 billion Hindu's in the area.

Hindu extremists are threatening Christians to "Convert or Flee". Mr. Soloman Digal and his family were recently victims of this violence. The family was summoned to a 'public square' in the middle of the city and then were forced to bow down and pray to a portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were then forced to hand over their Bible's and other Christian items found in their house, and watch them be burned. Mr. Digal was then told to "Embrace Hinduism and your house will not be demolished. [If you do not], you will be killed, or thrown out of the village."

The article goes on to provide more instances and examples of situations just like this one. In my opinion, stories like these go on to further prove Huntingon's theory of the Culture Clash. People are using such extreme ways of enforcing their lifestyles on others... I believe it's only a matter of time until this sort of culture/religious intolerance leads to conflict on a greater scale.

The WORLD needs a bailout plan

From Kurpalo
The United States bailout plan? $700 billion. Britain bailout plan? $255 billion. What the United States is doing right now is actually putting money directly into the nation's banks- partially "nationalizing the industry." Countries in Europe feel financial strains as well and are also putting together bailout plans and ways to improve their economies. France, for example, is injecting billions of euros into their banks. To stop the recession and more stock market problems, Europe is using taxpayer money and new bank debt to better their economy. A shocking statistic says that over $25 trillion has been erased from global equities in 2008. European countries have had several meetings with leaders in order to make sure credit markets aren't worsening and that investors no longer are panicking.

I found these articles very interesting. We hear a lot about the U.S's economy and how poorly it is doing currently. It almost makes it seem like everybody else is doing better. However, these articles put that really into perspective for me. These is a global crisis and the only way to get through it is to team up and negotiate ways to help each other. I can't believe how much the markets have gone down within one year alone and how much each country is in debt. The fact that they have to inject capital directly into their banks is outrageous!

Pakistan Hit Kills Twenty-Seven Members of Taliban

Katie Crawford

Twenty-seven known Taliban have been killed near the Afghanistan border. Most surprisingly two out of the twenty-seven were Taliban commanders. The Pakistan manages to kill theses militants in north-western Orakzai. The Pakistan security forces attacked after” a suicide car bomb blamed on the Taliban killed dozens of people at an anti-militant tribal meeting,” (BBC). There are still ongoing conflicts against the Taliban in Bajaur. The Taliban and Al Qaeda forces have been positioning themselves on the tribal Afghan border where they were safe fro United States forces, but the U.S. has been making more strikes against tribal areas, killing militants in hiding.

North Korea Continues to Disable Nuclear Plant

Katie Crawford-

Katie Crawford
North Korea has been taken off the U.S. terrorism list. North Korea has decided to negotiate with the U.S. despite old conflicts. They have decided to continue disabling main nuclear weapon complexes. North Korea is also allowing international monitors to inspect the site. American inspectors will be granted to inspect declared nuclear sites as well as sites the U.S. suspects to contain nuclear activity.

Taking them off Washington’s terrorist list is explained as a symbolic gesture in hopes of peace or on step to reconciliation in the future. By removing them, it makes them feel more normal and not subject to as much criticism. I found it interesting that they almost needed and wanted the approval from the United States. It shows how powerful we truly are.

N.Korea: Nuclear disabling is back on

N.Korea: Nuclear disabling is back on

The United States takes North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism on Sunday. North Korea was added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1988, the fourth country. That decision may bring stability, and it will bring economic stability in Korea for a while. S.Korea is suffering serious economic problem. Specially, it is distinct in South Korea Stock Market because S.Korea relies on foreign funds investing. But N.Korea makes an unstable situation it has been one of reasons to depart that funds from S.Korea.

U.S.: North Korea's Evil Axis Broken

From Becky Bonarek: The United States removed North Korea from its list of countries in the Axis of Evil because the latter says it will 1) continue disabling the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and 2) allow nuclear inspectors to return. Apparently saying you'll be good earns you a spot on the U.S.'s Christmas card list now. I think this is a hasty removal for a couple reasons. First, the nuclear inspectors have limits: they can only go to sites "'based on mutal consent'" between the two countries, meaning that if the U.S. or other NATO countries suspect that North Korea has more nuclear sites, the home country would have to okay an investigation. Second, the agreement needs to be taken to and okayed by the Six Parties which have been meeting with North Korea since this issue became and issue, one of which is Japan, who is not happy with the current terms: they say nothing about the abductions of Japanese citizens decades ago. Therefore, the agreement may not be approved by the U.S.'s side. Finally, the motives on each side must be questioned. Condoleezza Rice urged President Bush to accept the terms because it's probably the best he'll get before he leaves office in 100 days. Bush does not want his only legacy after leaving office to be a seemingly endless war in Iraq; a disarmed North Korea would be much better. But is that what the United States should be thinking about: the legacy of a president? Or should the government think about lasting consequences from an agreement that favors North Korea too much? On the other hand, why is North Korea offering this concession now of all times? Perhaps there is more to the rumors about Kim Jong-Il's health than North Korea publicly admits. With an ailing leader and no clear line of succession, perhaps the North Korean government realizes that it's finally time to join the rest of the world again in order to save itself from future collapse.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pakistan..enough said..

Hina Latif

I can't seem to wrap my mind around the thoughts the suicide bombers have when blowing themselves up, along with other innocent people. They don't get to see the after math..so why are they doing it?????....

This article explained the details about a sucide bomb that exploded while he drove his car into a meeting that was being held by the Pakistan and Afghan boarders. The bomb hit 600 people, 27 of which were killed. The meeting was being held by tribesmen and the issue on evicting the Taliban from the area. As Tribal elder Qeemat Khan Orakzai explains, in his words, " We were discussing plans to take action against the militants when all of a sudden a man drove a car into the middle of the meeting... and then blew it up".

Since I still have many of my immediate family in Pakistan, and I was born there, it scares to even make the phone calls to relatives and asking them about the situations. In a recent call that my uncle made on friday, my uncle said that everyone has no clue what to do..people are taking their money out of banks becuase they are not sure if the government will ever give it to them if and when they need the money. I mean I can't even imagine a day where I would walk into bank of America and them not giving me my money..? A Man walked into a public building claiming to to be sellin sweets when the minute later he walked in the bomb went off..!!

Greenland is Very Green, and Iceland is Very... Red

From Becky Bonarek: After the U.S. financial collapse this week, we're beginning to see just how interconnected and truly global the world economies are becoming. Iceland, a country that most people don't even know where it is, is about ready to call Peter Francis Geraci. After both the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ lost an ungodly about of points this week, Iceland's government shut down their own stock market and seized control of all three major banks. With the Icelandic krona's value dropping by the second, the country could be forced to file national bankruptcy, the first European country to ever do so. (Venezuela has filed in the past.) They have approached Russia for a loan, but their best bet seems to be the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the European Union will probably not want to absorb Iceland's debt by approving their bid to join. Another factor complicates matters even more: part of the reason for Iceland's fall from financial stability is the fact that foreign (i.e. other European countries) hold massive amounts of money in Icelandic banks. French citizens hold private stake Kaupthing*, in the last bank to be absorbed, and the UK government invested about a billion British pounds in those banks, which they're now demanding back. Relations between the UK and Iceland haven't been the same since the 1950's when the two countries clashed over fishing rights in the so-called cod wars. In order to look out for their own self-interest, European countries seem to be more than willing to cut their losses with Iceland and let them flounder while they run towards the nearest G8 meeting. With the world economy struggling to remain above water, what will happen to smaller countries less important to the system as a whole, but still affected by the crisis?

(*French-language source)