Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Many actors in the "War on Terror"

By Fiorella Bafundo

In today’s Counterpunch Magazine, Joanne Mariner, a human rights lawyer, talked about the undervalued and violations of human rights in the“War on Terror" carried out by the United States. In his view, the huge atrocities and methods used by the U.S during this war, such as torture during the interrogations, people disappeared, and imprisonment without trials and evidence, could not have been done without the assistance and collaboration of other governments besides the U.S government.
Therefore, he lists “some examples of this abusive collaboration,” including the governments of Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Indonesia and Jordan, which through their intelligence agencies, have collaborated with the CIA to get suspicious people from different countries around the globe, using torture and immoral methods to get information even when those detainees did not know anything relevant. Marnier also lists some names of detainees and their hard stories, most of who ended in the Guantamo Bay prison sooner or later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Troops storm Madagascar presidential palace

By Josh Emberton

As the world makes the turn towards an economic crisis the risk to already weakly held countries losing their stabilitiy increases. Such is the case in Madagascar, which is now running a tight line between losing control completely. On the one hand you have the government and the President in particular pleading for everyone to pretty much calm down and solve things peacefully. On the other hand, you have the opposition calling for him to quit and the leader of the military supporting the opposition. The president's recent purchase of a private jet doesn't help his cause out either.

Situations like these generally do not have a history of ending peacefully (although I would prefer this to not be true).

The importance of this to international relations is that the world is effected however minor, by the stability of each of its state actors. A team is only as strong as its weakest members is an example that I would feel works well here. Furtheremore, will the rest of the world be to focused on Middle East and the economic crisis to even pay attention to the potential pitfalls that this conflict could cause? In a time such as this one, the world needs to play a larger role in making sure a everyone is stable and that a domino effect doesn't occur.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pakistan Avoids Pitfall, but Path Ahead Is Unclear

Posted by Justin Bresolin

Celebration grips Pakistan as a large-scale public demonstration has successfully resulted in the political restoration of dismissed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a man lauded as a figurehead for Pakistani democracy and judicial rule. While this has served to partially ease tensions between President Asif Ali Zardari and chief rival Nawaz Shariff, it is far from a solution for the political instability Pakistan is currently facing.
The rivalry between these two politicians has not only served to distract Pakistan from their problematic security situation, but also weakened President Zardari’s power to the point of possible defection from the Pakistan People’s Party. While Shariff waits to seize leadership after Zardari’s fall, the exact method of doing so is unclear.
The lack of attention toward fast-approaching insurgency efforts is a major issue for Pakistan, but American and Pakistani officials are hopeful that the recent outbreak of civilian demonstration could herald the beginnings of a strengthened democratic system, along with the creation of an independent judiciary, opening the possibility for unprecedented change in Pakistan’s political structure. Shariff, long suspected by the US government for his leanings toward Islamic conservatism, has proven surprisingly cooperative with Obama officials, and the US is hopeful that Shariff’s connections with several Saudi Arabian Islamic parties could prove the beginning of reconcilable interaction with groups such as the Taliban.
With the dawn of a new democratic government in Pakistan, buoyed by the people’s support, the US government moves to support and reinforce the growing political system in the hopes of its successful repellence of jihadist insurgent influence in the country. This time of change would seem to be but one of many that has been occurring in the global political realm, changes that could spell a transformation not just of Pakistan, but of the world as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Missing Faces of India

In the past two years almost 6,000 children have been reported as missing in the city of Delhi according police reports. Best estimates by the police department say that 10-20 have been recovered by local authorities and returned safely to their families. This is a hidden tragedy occurring everyday in the cities poor slums. Children are take off the street to be sold or used as prostitutes and beggars. While the police claim many of the incidents are children running away or eloping of their own accord, the families in these poor communities say that is not the case. Children as young as two have gone missing from their homes and schools. Making the problem worse is that a majority of the children taken are from very poor families who have no power or influence to put pressure for results on the police. After facing public outrage for a similar issue last year the local officials have vowed to work harder but no one is sure what is to be done. In a city as large and congested as Delhi, if the child is not seen being taken their is little hope of tracing them and even less chance of catching the kidnappers. While many of the families of the missing children feel the police do not care because they are poor, they still remain vigilant in their search for their missing loved ones. Even in the face of such tragedy and disappointment they still remain hopeful.

Compounding the Crime

By: Brian Meents

This article discusses the case against Omar al-Bashir brought on by the ICC and how it has opened a fissure between those who support justice and those who fear it. The ICC had expected a mixed reaction and we discussed in class, the benefits and drawbacks of issuing the arrest warrant; however, the reaction in Sudan was a little more extreme than most people figured. A dozen major international aid agencies and a couple of local ones were immediately expelled from Darfur, and many from the country altogether; staff were unceremoniously escorted to waiting planes while their computers, files and much else were confiscated by the authorities. The remaining aid agencies have been put on notice, and could be next. The NGOs that were expelled from Sudan provided much of the food, water and medicine to the 2.75m refugees who live in temporary camps in Darfur. So this move is, above all, a huge blow to the fragile humanitarian lifeline that has been keeping the wretched victims of the Darfur conflict alive. The Sudanese government has given no official explanation for the expulsions, but has made spurious allegations that all these aid agencies were involved in a conspiracy to supply the ICC with the evidence to prosecute Mr Bashir and his henchmen. This was a reaction that I was afraid would happen, although not this severe. What good is an arrest warrant without the ability to enforce it? All it does is causes huge problems like this and now, although it is hard to imagine, the people of Darfur are in worse shape than before.



According to the Human Rights Network, on May 19, 2006, the United Nations Committee against Torture concluded that the United States government and the city of Chicago were in violation of the Convention Against torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CAT). They ruled this because of the wide-spread torture of African Americans men by Chicago Police Officers. Between the years 1972 and 1991 over 100 African American men were tortured by ex- Police Chief Jon Burge and detectives under his command. Even though there was stacked of evidence and numerous accounts by victims the local or state government did nothing to address these issues or prosecute the men responsible. The US only responded to the offenses in 2006, when a UN official came to the United States and concluded that they had violate the convention and called for the US government to address this issue. It was only after the US was under the scrutiny of the UN, which included an investigation by a UN official, that the United States finally addressed this issue and began the process of prosecuting the ex-police chief. The trial is set for May 2009.

Yemen Explosion

By: Mike Bozee

Six people, four of which were South Korean tourists and two locals, were killed in an explosion near the city of Shibam, Yemen. At least three others were injured as well. Although there is not a definite known cause to the explosion, it is known that Yemen is a hot spot for Islamist militants. Local officials are admitting that the disaster could have been attributed to terrorism, but it could have also been the result of left over dynamite from a mine.

In the recent past, the Islamist militants have have conflicts with security officials in Yemen. In 2008 alone, there were various, significant attacks against tourists and the US embassy. More investigation is needed to determine the actual cause of the recent explosion, but there will no doubt be increased conflict between the Islamist militant groups and people in Yemen.

"stuff happens"

Amanda Dominguez

I would like to end my last blog post with a little bit of domestic politics, that has, unfortunately taken a toll on the global communities perspective on the competence of our leaders. Former vice-president Chaney, in a recent interview, ad much to say about the old administration, and the new ones change in policy. As usual, Chaney was not shy about the excuses he mad about the failures of the administration he had but so much faith into. He is still living in a bubble and is delivering the same explanations behind their motives to go to war and blatant disregard for human rights and international law. He talked about Guantanamo Bay, and, of course, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My favorite quote was when he made the general statement saying,
"All of these things(Wars, Hurricane Katrina etc...) required us to spend money that we had not originally planned to spend, or weren't originally part of the budget," Cheney said. "Stuff happens. And the administration has to be able to respond to that, and we did."

Yeah, Chaney, stuff happens, and now because of this "stuff" and the brilliant way the Bush administration handled it, were in an economic recession and the U.S is a disappointment to the international community. Thanks for keeping America safe and while doing so, running it into the ground.

President Obama Meets With Brazilian Leader

On Saturday, President Obama welcomed to the White House Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, to discuss issues such as energy and the economy.  Da Silva is the first Latin American leader to visit the capitol.  Both leaders said that they look forward to the meeting of the G20 later this month to try and resolve the world's economic problems.  One of the major talking points of the visit was biofuels.  One sticking point between the two countries is the 53 cent per gallon tariff on ethanol, which according to Obama, will only change over time.  President Obama went on to say that he admired what Silva has done in the way of alternative fuels.  Besides being progressive concerning fuels, Brazil's recent discovery of oil could give the United States a better way to wean itself off of Venezuelan oil.
The meeting between the two leaders is something to be excited about.  We need to constantly work on improving our friendships with stable, friendly governments in the region.  Furthermore, now is an ideal time, with a new president who believes that alternative sources of energy are important.  With Brazil we could find an economic reason to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and push through new technology that is better for the environment.  The fact that the President is actively engaging with partners in this hemisphere stands as a testament to the increasing strength of Brazil.  I'm glad that we're focusing on working with Brazil, and trying to prevent more anti-U.S. sentiment in the region.

Dick Cheney How Tired we are of You

I am, personally, tired of the justifications that Dick Cheney has tried to offer for the past eight years of the Bush administration.
There is one simple fact that Cheney will never understand… Violence cannot be met with violence and fear. By entering the war in Iraq, by eliminating our civil rights and liberties, by suspending our constitution and ignoring our principles, we have allowed the terrorists to accomplish their goals. They have set out to make us afraid and afraid we are. The past eight years we have lived in fear and the government has used this fear to establish torture techniques at Guantanamo, enter into an unjust war, and to pass the Patriot Act.
America has always stood for principle and morality, against tyranny, but we have, now, become what we most fear. A nation without rights is a nation without freedom.
So, Dick Cheney, the world has made it quite clear that we are tired of your empty promises, fear mongering, and utter lack of regard for our rights. We have stood up and yelled at the top of our lungs that we want change that the past eight years will not represent the future of America.


Cheney says Obama's policies 'raise the risk' of U.S. terror attack

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday defended the Bush administration's economic record, the invasion of Iraq and the treatment of suspected terrorists, warning that reversing its anti-terrorism policies endangers Americans.

In class we discussed the interrogation techniques of the Bush administration. Cheney addressed this by saying, "they were absolutely essential". He also said that wiretapping and warrantless searches were necessary in preventing another even like September 11th.

"President Obama campaigned against it all across the country, and now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack," he said. He also went on to say, "I don't hear much talk about that, but the fact is, the violence level is down 90 percent. The number of casualties [among] Iraqis and Americans is significantly diminished. There's been elections, a constitution. They're about to have another presidential election here in the near future. We have succeeded in creating in the heart of the Middle East a democratically governed Iraq, and that is a big deal, and it is, in fact, what we set out to do."

The debate whether Obama will continue Bush policy is yet to be seen in his first 100 days. I assume he will most likely keep these policies. He has even said he will not get rid of the rendition program. This is the most debated set of issues Obama has to look to.

The G20 and the World Economy

The G20 meeting in London later this month will be a critical determinant of what is to become of the worlds economy. The G20 agree that something must be done and that they must all take a substantial step forward together, however, the measures that they all wish to take vary. The United States and the United Kingdom have called for public spending on large scale stimulus packages, but much of the rest of Europe is cautioning this idea. Too much money pumped into an economy could cause high amounts of inflation, something Germany knows all too well of. Cabinet Minister Douglas Alexander also said that a failure to come together and make a decision could have a catastrophic affect, much like the one that occurred in Germany in the 1930's after the world failed to reach an agreement on how to deal with the recession. He also urged countries not to follow protectionism, but rather to try to come to a consensus. Until the next G20 meeting the finance ministers have promised to continue stimulus plans, lowering interest rates and increasing IMF funding.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Switzerland eases banking secrecy

Sherri Siegele

I never thought I’d see this happen; not in my lifetime! For the first time in history Switzerland is making slight changes to its policy on secrecy allowing foreign countries to investigate Swiss bank accounts of its citizens. With 2 trillion in its banks there’s a lot to look at! The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been working at this for years but with global failed banking systems and regulation the new "it" word, the U.S. and Brussels put lots of pressure on the Swiss Government. At the core of this resides a threat that Swiss banks could be blacklisted by financial regimes such as the World Bank. The changed policy is sure to cause Swiss Banks to lose foreign investment but apparently this loss outweighs being blacklisted. The U.S. requested permission to investigate 52,000 of its citizens that have accounts at UBS but it was only granted insight into 300 accounts. It’s estimated that the U.S. loses 1 billion annually to tax evasion. Not only has Switzerland's banking system been changed but so has its culture.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

France ends four-decade Nato rift

Angela Hager

Nicolas Sarkozy announced France will be making a return to Nato's military command after four decades of self imposed exile. Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of the command in 1966 saying he wanted to maintain France's sovereignty.

Sarkozy no longer wants France to not have a say in the military decisions with Nato. The move is not yet formalized, but the president will be sending a letter before Nato celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Nato Secretary General believes that France's involvement will only strenthen the alliance. However, not is all seen as positive. There is strong fears that France will simply be at the "beck and call" of the United States and get dragged into conflicts that only reflect the interests of the U.S. Germany has not faced this problem.

While France has not been a part of the military command, the country 'has been one of the most active members, supplying troops under allied command in Bosnia, Kosovo and in Afghanistan, where it has suffered significant losses."

Gold and Illness in Guatemala

By Angrette

Marlin Mine is owned and operated by a large Canadian mining corporation called Goldcorp. The corporation was recently accused of releasing waste to the river water creating a severe skin rash in the Maya population in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. In response the corporation has said that they carried out investigations along with the Public Ministry of Guatemala and determined that the river water was not "adversely impacted by the mine operations."
The Canadians were recently presented with pictures taken by a Non-Governmental Organization called Rights in Action. This pictures showed the illness that is affecting Maya people. They asserted that the NGO had no medical evidence that connected the mining with the illness. Since this issue exploded many other things have come to light as the supposedly illegal purchase of the land by the corporation as well as the environmental consequences mining is having in the land. The corporation claims to be in an outstanding, transparent position where they want to help the Maya. However the communication rate of the corporation with Maya surrounding communities is zero. In my opinion with the gross income the gold industry is making($900-$1000 an ounce) even at a time of economic recession, the mining company is not likely to accept any responsibility. The Guatemalan Government in the other hand, which has inflicted a long history of oppression and genocide to it's Maya people is even less eager to do something.

Castration as a Form of Sentencing?

A man by the name of "Pavel" requested to have himself castrated for his crime of violent sexual abuse. After killing a twelve year old, Pavel decided he wanted people to know that there is a cure for your sexual desires: castrating yourself, therefore; never having cravings for violent sexual pleasure. Although the Czech Republic finds this an effective way of sentencing, the Council of Europe put an immediate end to the Czech Republic's sentencing technique.
As psychologists stand through the one-hour operation, some say that this is the most foolproof from these offenders falling into a sexual disorder. Although surgical castration may be a form of this sentencing, Europeans are leaning towards allowing the offenders to use chemical castration. However, the issue of human rights is questioned for the offender or for the society. Both Poland and Spain are thinking of allowing their judges to issue the sentence of chemical castration for violent sex offenders. Poland will become the first European Union state to allow this type of sentencing. There is also a governor in Louisiana has proposed this as idea for sentencing in the state.
When the problem came up in Czech, the human rights lawyer on the side of the state, claimed that this was a morally wrong sentencing. They claimed this because it revoked the privilege, for the offenders, to reproduce. There have also been a couple of cases where the castration has been ineffective, and the offender went out and created violent sex crimes. Many lawyers claimed that offenders were getting the easy way out because they do not want a life sentence.
Currently there are a few states in the United States are considering chemical castration for a sentencing technique. Those states include California, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

33 People Killed and 20 Wounded at Iraq Peace Conference

By Soch Mel

At least 33 people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing targeting a national reconciliation conference in Baghdad. This attacked occurred on Tueday outside of the municipal building of Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad.

This attack was targeting a gathering of both Sunni and Shiite Muslims as well as other sects. They were talking about how to move the country forward in the best direction possible. It was designed to help foster national reconciliation between the religious and ethnic groups. This meeting was backed-up by the Shiite dominate government of Iraq.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility, but in the past, these gatherings have been the prime targets of al Qaeda in Iraq, the anti-American Sunni Arab militant group. Since the Sunni are no longer the dominate political force, it is undestandable why they are upset with the US.

Attacks such as this will continue to occur, but the new Iraqi government must not give up these efforts. Without such unity, Iraq might consider a three state division which will bring about a civil war or the oil resource. Though Obama is planning on bringing the troops back home in the future, we should remember that Iraq still needs assiatance. It would be a shame to let the peace process in Iraq fall because we gave up or that the Iraqi people themselves gave up.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Peace and Hope in the Middle East...

By Fiorella Bafundo

The Pope said yesterday that he will travel to Israel in May from 8th to 15th to pray for the unity and peace in Middle East and the rest of the world. He will visit the capital city of Amman, and then he is going to go to Jerusalem, Belen, and Nazareth. The president of Israel Shimon Peres said he is “very happy” of receiving the Pope and that he has decided to go there, and assured that his visiting is going to be an event “of which will emanate an air of peace and hope.”

We will see if religion can help to solve this problem of war in Middle East, whereas diplomacy and military confrontation have not done anything for the good of the people.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Price of Gasoline is Edging Upward

The average price of gasoline continues to creep upward and is about 1.8 cents a gallon higher now than it was two weeks ago, according to the national Lundberg Survey of fuel prices.
The U.S. average price for regular gasoline, according to the survey released Sunday, is $1.96 a gallon.

Even though there is no job growth and people are losing jobs, and the global economy is headed toward a depression, oil brokers and traders seemed to ignore the daily doses of bad financial news. Benchmark crude closed above $40 every day of the week for the first time in a month.

The federal government said crude stocks fell by 700,000 barrels for the week ended Feb. 27, and analysts noted that OPEC could call for more production cuts at its meeting on March 15.
“OPEC seems to have its act together,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research. “They’re bringing inventories down, and that’s putting a floor on the market.”

Does this mean that gas prices will begin to soar to $3-4 a gallon? No, but they will most likely level out around 2 dollars. The global demand for oil is just not there for it to be in panic mode. I look for OPEC to possibly dissolve in the upcoming years.

U.S and Russia Seek New Arms Deal for 2009

Amanda Dominguez

There have been recent talks between Russia and the U.S over the development of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The two START treaties that have proceeded these further talks have been making slow but steady attempts at disarmament. It seems as if there are beginning to really take disarmament to a new level and the warming relations between Russia and the U.S are definitely helping. Although there are still admitted difference on both sides, the willingness to compromise is there. I think this is going to be one of our biggest foreign policy agendas next to the wars in the Middle East. It will be interesting to see where our talks with Russia lead and how this will help the United States in our attempts at opening our doors to communications with states in which we have had difficult relationships with in the past.

The 'Real IRA'

The group known as the 'real IRA' a subset of the Irish Republican Army that formed in 1998, as true peace was coming to Northern Ireland, has claimed responsibility for an attack made Saturday night. This attack claimed the lives of two soldiers scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan. The attack began when a local delivery service deliver pizza to the barracks at the Antrim base in Northern Ireland. As they were delivering the pizza gunmen open fired on the soldiers killing the two, and injuring two more along with the pizza men. This attack has rattled the nation of Northern Ireland, and for many brought back memories of the conflict and war that disrupted the country for so long. Worry has spread throughout the country that the so called 'real IRA' wants to renew the conflict and will continue to use drastic means to achieve this. One guess as to the reason for the attack is the it is a response to the chief constable of the Police Service deploying special forces soldiers, but he has stated he does not think that is the case. Whatever the spark the attack has certainly managed to shake-up a nation and raise tensions yet again. Representatives of many communities have come out with he same message of no retaliation and maintaining strong ties. The US State Department echoed these same sentiments starting-

"We call on all parties in Northern Ireland to unequivocally reject such senseless acts of violence, whose intention is to destroy the peace that so many in Northern Ireland have worked so hard to achieve."

World Bank offers dire forecast for world economy

By Josh Emberton

The World Bank made a predication that the 'Global Economy will shrink in 2009, the first time since World War II.' This is not the sunny, optimistic picture about the current economic crisis that the World would want to hear. This would be what our current president means when he says that we have tough times ahead. This article only clarifies it a little bit better.

The World Bank has asked for the better developed Countries to create something called a 'Vulnerability fund' for their lesser developed counterparts. The economic crisis has hit these countries harder than the West. The World Bank estimated that the financial gap for these countries ranged anywhere from 270 billion to 700 billion.

The reason it is important to not forget these countries and just let them fold under this financial gap is because this is a global economic crisis. The only wait to fight this global problem is to put forth a global solution. If these countries were to fold then the larger countries themselves would feel the ripple effect.

As we have learned now that with the development of technologies, the world has become increasingly more dependent upon eachother. The world as a whole benefits from the increased stability of its weakest members. This global economic crisis could increased many of the worlds problems like transnational crime for example. Its not only wise but in our interest to ensure that these countries do not meet disaster.

Legalization of Marijuana makes Sense, Cents

The hot topic issue of the proposed legalization of marijuana has become an option to revive California's depleted treasury. One specific article, more of a commentary, provides positive possible effects of legalization. According to one official, the legalization of marijuana in California alone would bring in a revenue of $1.3 billion a year. The legalization would only apply to residents 21 years of age and older, and would include a licensed commercial farming of it, charging $50 an ounce. 52% of Americans are still opposed to the concept of legal marijuana, but 13 states have passed less severe laws criminalizing possession. As for current medical marijuana usage, New Jersey could become the 14th state to ratify a bill for medical usage of the drug; Illinois's bills failed last year. 530 economists, and Milton Friedman himself projected that the legalization of marijuana could cut the country's budget in $7.7 billion in reinforcement costs and bring in $6.2 in taxes!! The most interesting part of the article, and the passage which connects best to the recent discussions reads as,
"Narco violence and corruption along our border threaten to make Mexico a failed state. Drug cartels issued an ultimatum to one police chief: Resign or see your officers killed. After several were murdered, he quit. Other officials have joined the cartels. One former police chief smuggled a ton of marijuana into Texas. Cartels extort protection money from businesses and even forced teachers in one town to hand over their Christmas bonuses. Six-thousand people were killed in drug-related violence last year. The U.S. Justice Department calls Mexican gangs the "biggest organized crime threat to the United States."
Granted, the international issue with illicit crime and drug trade includes much much more than marijuana, but maybe this step could help ease some tension and provide a legal market for those who currently involve themselves in the illegal on. Maybe the legalization could open up legitimate jobs and deter those who manufacture illegal prescription drugs, etc. The author compares marijuana the alcohol in terms of "chilling out after work." Honestly, I do not stand anywhere on this issue, but both sides provide compelling arguments.

Seeking Justice, Chinese Land in Secret Jails

Posted by Justin Bresolin

China faces extensive protest and human rights controversy over its “black houses,” secret jails hidden throughout residential and city areas designed to hold protestors and malcontents. As Beijing hosts its National People’s Congress, thousands of citizens rush to lodge formal complaints using the government’s petition system, while others go to more extreme public demonstrations of their discontentment. The state media calculates and estimated 10 million petitions lodged for such injustices as illegal searches and seizures and unpaid wages, in addition to the aforementioned imprisonments. In retaliation, the Chinese government uses the black houses to round off and contain aggravated citizens in an effort to lessen these complaints and deter citizens from causing embarrassment to the centralized government.
Human rights groups describe the process of plainclothes police and other armed muscle grabbing citizens off the streets and holding them for indefinite periods of time in the secret prisons, frequently beaten and mistreated during their stay, sometimes fatally. Human rights advocates also accuse the country’s police of ignoring these injustices, and the Chinese government of maintaining flippant indifference toward efforts to undermine established channels of protest communication. Some accuse China of fostering these prisons in response to pressure placed on local governments to prevent protesters from reaching the capital.
Prime Minister Wen Jiabo continued to argue for the use of the China’s petition system to resolve social conflict, and express public concern through “legal channels.” Authority representatives denied the existence of these prisons during testimony to the United Nations Rights council, in spite of growing evidence gathered by rights groups and citizen protestors. As protestors continue to grow in number, and outside journalists begin to investigate the accusations, it seems to be only a matter of time before this latest injustice is added to the mound of international criticism and scrutiny China has continued to endure from the international community.

Military solution to the drug war in the Mexican-U.S. border.

By Angrette

Around 7,000 Mexican soldiers and Federal Police arrived to the border city of Ciudad Juarez this past week. This massive mobilization of troops is hoping to restore security to a city that continues to be horribly impacted by a bloody drug war. Random vehicles and checkpoints, patrols of masked soldiers in SWAT gear are various signs of the massive military intervention ordered by the Mexican President. Extreme violence among warring drug cartels and the Mexican government has long plagued the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua but it's been getting worse. Last month the chief police had to abandon his post due to threats from organized crime to kill a police man every day he remained in office. It is sad to be noted that even with this massive intervention things are not going to improve in the near future. The military plan to install surveillance cameras in the streets of the city, to help police stem executions and assassinations in the streets. Police are requiring everyone to have their I.D. with them at all time to make the patrols and checkpoints run smoothly. However advocates for human rights are arguing that the intervention of military forces might bring other problems. They note that they might cause a Police State to form in an environment where people have low confidence in law enforcement. They also argue what kind of limitations this regime will have and suggest that the real way to finish this war is to somehow infiltrate in the criminal organization. Many feel safe many invaded time will say how do this unfold.

Iraq's Unspeakable Crime: Mothers Pimping Daughters

By: Latoyia Kimbrough

According to an article in Time Magazine the trafficking of women has increased since the War in Iraq. Now it is even being done by the mothers of the victims. A woman that has been and undercover human rights activist since 2006 has made it her personal mission to expose this crime even though it means that she has to be exposed to danger. She goes by “Hinda,” but that's not her real name. “Hinda” is what she is called by the many Iraqi sex traffickers and pimps that contact her several times a week from all across the Iraq. She has made them believe that she is one of them that being peddler of sex slaves. She has been working in a place called the underworld which is where evil female pimps hold control and where impoverished mothers sell their teenage daughters into a sex market. These people believe females who reach the age of 20 are too old to sell for a good price. The younger victims those being just 11 and 12 are sold for as much as $30,000 while others are sold for as little as $2,000. "The buying and selling of girls in Iraq, it's like the trade in cattle," Hinda says. "I've seen mothers haggle with agents over the price of their daughters." They traffic both locally and internationally but it is primarily in the United Arab Emirates. There is no exact number on how many Iraqi women and children have been sold into slavery since end of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 but Hinda and others put the number in the tens of thousands.

This is because it remains a hidden crime one that the Iraqi government does not see as a problem and has not aided in solving. Last month Baghdad's minister of women's affairs, Dr. Nawal al-Samarraie, resigned in protest at the lack of resources provided to her office by the government. Although she resigned she didn't think sex trafficking was an issue. "It's limited," she says, adding that she believed the girls involved chose to engage in prostitution. But that is not the real reality because women like Atoor are victims who are being sold by their mothers. Several years ago Atoor was found at a Women's Prison in northern Baghdad after being sold by her mother. Atoor married her 19-year-old sweetheart a policeman when she was 15. Three months later he was killed during one of the many bloody episodes in Iraq's war and after the obligatory four-month mourning period Atoor's mother and two brothers made it clear that they were going to sell her to a brothel that was close to their home in western Baghdad, just as they had sold her older twin sisters. She was scared so she asked a friend in the police force to raid her home and the nearby brothel. After his unit raided the place Atoor spent the next two years in prison. Even though she was not charged with anything that's how long it took for her to come before a judge and be released. She sates that “I wanted to go to prison, I didn't want to be sold,” she says. “I didn't think it would happen to me. My mother used to spoil me. Yes, she sold my sisters but she regretted that. I though that she loved me.”

Trading Danger for Captivity

This article discusses even more struggles faced by innocent people due to increased violence around the world. The fighting in Sri Lanka has recently caused 36,000 people to evacuate to refuge camps to escape the war zone. Like you would expect, the refuges are full of harrowing tales of escape from rebel-held territory. Dodging artillery shells and bullets, before being evacuated to the government-run camps. The International Committee of the Red Cross believes that up to 150,000 civilians are under fire and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical care. A makeshift hospital in the war zone has just eight doctors and few drugs. Many of the displaced Tamil civilians are huddled on a barren beach, awaiting rescue from what is supposed to be a government-designated “safe zone”. India and other countries are calling for a pause in the fighting so that non-combatants can leave, however, this has not worked thus far. As usual the government is downplaying the whole thing and is currently saying that only 70,000 people are at risk; while the United Nations estimates it to run around 200,000. The organization causing the bulk of the attacks are known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Tigers say they have proposed a ceasefire as a prelude to peace talks but as of yet nothing has stopped. It is sad to see such horrific events occurring almost everywhere you look. The plot seems to always be the same, innocent people die while governments and other organizations continue to fight with complete disregard for innocent lives.

By: Brian Meents

Chavez Warns Columbia Defense Minister

By Jacob Simkins

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela criticized the Defense Minister of Columbia, Juan Manuel Santos, following comments indicating that he would consider sending in Colombian forces to neighboring countries to fight left-wing rebel groups. Columbia used a similar policy last year when mounting a military excursion into Ecuador, which started a diplomatic dispute. The attack did result in the death of a leader of the military group FARC, but Ecuador and Columbia reacted by sending in troops because of the breach in sovereignty.

Chavez called Santos a threat to the peace of the region, indicating that such an attempt on Venezuelan soil would cause a military response. In the same speech over the radio, Chavez likened Santos to fascism.

President Alvaro Uribe of Columbia distanced himself from the comments by his Defense minister, calling them imprudent. Chavez was not satisfied with this response, citing that the Defense minister still holds his position.

Baghdad Suicide Bombing

By: Mike Bozee

Another violent attack occurred recently in Baghdad, as a suicide bomber killed at least 28 people standing outside a police recruitment building. In addition, at least 57 others were injured by the bombing. This represents the notion that there is still much violence and confusion in Iraq, while the US military has recently stated that it plans to reduce the amount of troops in Iraq by 12,000 over the next 6 months.

It is thought that the bomber detonated a belt of explosives as he collided with the line of people while on his motorbike. This radical behavior represents the actions in Iraq that are a relative frequent occurrence. Bombings such as this one should be treating with precaution and increased security, so that order might be maintained.

Scientists Find Enzyme that Spreads Cancer

By Stephanie Chennell

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research believe they have found the enzyme that leads to the spread of cancer. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called cancer metastasis and is responsible for about 90% of cancer related deaths. The enzyme is called LOX and it works by sending out signals to the rest of the body. Once the signals are received the different parts of the body are more receptive to the cancer, allowing it to grow. Without these signals it is believed that the spread would not be able to occur because the rest of the body would too much of a be a 'hostile' environment.
This is the first time that an enzyme has been identified as having a key role in the spread of cancer, and is giving hope to scientists that they may one day find a cure for cancer. The scientists hope to create a drug that can stop the LOX enzyme from sending these signals, making it less difficult to treat cancer.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Band says Beijing canceled concert over Tibet

The Chinese government canceled a stream of concerts planned for Oasis to play in Beijing because one of the band members participated in a Free Tibet concert over ten years ago. Oasis's already permitted license to play was revoked at the end of February. A guitarist from the band appeared at a Free Tibet concert in New York, and once the Chinese government found out, the felt the band was unsuitable to play in front of the Chinese Republic. Although Hong Kong is a part of the Chinese government, they are not a part of the Chinese Republic rules that suppress mainland China. The Chinese government claims that the reason for canceling the concerts was due to the economic problems that China faces, nevertheless, one can conclude that the reason for the cancellations were due to the appearance at a Free Tibet concert. If it were not for the 50th year anniversary of the failed Tibetan revolt against the Chinese Republic, there would have been a chance for Oasis to play. The government is afraid of another attempt at a revolt against the government.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Child Rape in Sudan

This is the only time I have ever had any difficulty reflecting on or writing on an article that I have read. In fact, this is the first time I have referenced an article directly in my response… and my response is this… sadness followed closely by anger.
This article is an account of a Sudanese soldier forced to rape and kill children. About how this mans life was threatened if he would not comply with the governmental orders to rape. When he refused to take the actions forced upon him by the government he was tortured and would have been killed had he not escaped.
As I sit here in the library, I have tears in my eyes. The gentleman next to me keeps on casting demining looks my way, but, for once, I cannot control my emotions. I am saddened for the crisis that the women of Sudan, and around the world, must face every day, but, more than that, I am angry that we have done nothing to stop it. Every single one of us is responsible for the action being taken against the less fortunate of the world…
I am, for once, at a loss for words… I do not know what else to say… Please read this article, attempt to attain a higher level of understanding about the rights that we give little thought to, but others cannot even dream of


False Hope for Kenya

Sherri Siegele

Odinga once brought hope to Kenya. Too bad it was false hope. Three weeks after my return from Kenya in 2007 presidential elections took place. When Kibaki (Party of National Unity) won, Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement) accused Kibaki of cheating. Odinga took action by fueling tensions between his tribe and Kibaki’s tribe; Kalenjin and Kikuyu respectively. As a result, the Kalenjin went on a rampage killing Kikuyu tribespeople, burning their homes, and forcing them to abandon their homes and farms. These tribespeople were once next-door neighbors.

The UN brokered a peace deal resulting in the creation of a coalition government. But, Odinga and Kibaki now seem to be in cahoots. Both are clearly corrupt and they have not been living up to the deal; “Land reform; constitutional change; judicial and security sector reform; tackling youth unemployment, and addressing ethnic tensions”. As a result the UN is giving Kibaki and Odinga two months to create a Special Court so that war criminals can be tried. This includes ministers, legislators and businessmen who fostered or funded the electoral violence. This is ludicrous because Odinga and Kibaki are at the top of the list! If they don’t abide, the threat looms that war crime suspects will be sought out and tried by the ICC.

Today, maize farms remain abandoned putting millions of Kenyan’s at risk of starvation, tens of thousands still live in emergency tents, the vast majority of Kenyan’s have lost hope in reform, and tensions between tribes is building once again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

USA and Russia allies?

According to the New York Times three weeks ago the new President of the United States Obama sent a secret letter to the Russian President Medvedev suggesting to cooperate to stop Iran from creating and using weapons of mass destruction. For some officials as well as politicians, with the new approach of Obama, the relationship between Russia and the United States could improve and with policies like this against Iran could give “the chance for a fresh start.” It seems that the Obama administration is reconsidering the idea of setting the missile defense on Russian land, something that the Bush administration always refused.
Details will be clarified and discussed next Friday when Hillary Clinton and Sergei V. Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia, as well as in April between both Presidents in London.
Would you have imagined this kind of relationship before? Does this show that in international relations aliances depend on who and what is the threat regardless of the past?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tanzanians to name albino killers

Angela Hager

In the past 15 months, 45 albinos have been killed in Tanzania. They are slaughtered so their body parts can be sold to witch doctors. These witch doctors promise to use the parts such as limbs, hair, skin, or genitals to make potions that will make people rich.

In an effort to curb or even stop the killings, authorities are issuing a "referendum" where citizens will be able to write down in secret people they suspect of killing albinos. Legal officials will collect the bits of paper with names on them and give them to police.

Edmund Sengondo Mvungi, a law lecturer at Dar es Salaam University, has his doubts about the process. He believes that when people are given the opportunity to accuse their neighbors of murder without consequences, that they will do so to settle scores. This could become a modern day witch hunt. For Mvungi, allowing the accusations to take place is simply a measure to keep the population complacent that something is being done.

According to the BBC, more than 200 people have been arrested in connection with the murders, but none have been convicted.

And the killings aren't limited to Tanzania. Last week a six year old albino boy in Burundi was reportedly dismembered in front of his parents, making him the eighth victim in that country.

Iran is Charging Israeli Leaders with "War Crimes!"

Soch Mel

Speaking of War Crimes, the Islamic Republic of Iran is calling for the arrests of 15 Israeli leaders, including the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on charges of war crimes committed in Gaza.
Currently the Iranians are investigating about 100 Israelis as reported by their state news agency ISNA.

The dispute between Israel and Iran goes back at least a few decades. Iran has accused of Israel trying to do its best to destabilize the Islamic Republic; the heated talks go back and back where Israel would accused that Iran wants the nations of Israel to be gone, etc.

In the air strikes late last year, more than 1,300 Palestinians died while 5,400 others were wounded. 13 Israelis, which includes 10 soldiers, were killed in the fighting. What is interesting here is the CNN article brought up this statistics to make us think, is Israel justified in its air strike on Gaza; does Iran have a point.

At this point, it is still to early in the game to even considered something like war crimes. And yes those numbers do seem high, but knowing that there have been some inhuman tactics that Hamas used to get sympathy for their cause is troubling. And Iran is not a typical player of world governance, I doubt many nations would even allow Iran to go ahead with the charges without the backing of global governance. It's so funny that Iran would try to do this, because we know that the U.S. will most likely back Israel; it's still not a good idea to try and take the U.S. on.

This new dilema is going to lead to some more tense realtions between the U.S. and Iran. As I see it, the problem lies in very extreme thinking; both the U.S. and Iran are very conservative in their relations with each other. Both of them need a smack and get going on improving realtions. Also, the U.S. needs to take a bolder stand and do something, like intervention perhaps, to resolve this crisis in Gaza. But I doubt that the American public would be open to that suggestion.

Also, take a look at these two quotes from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:

Israel will retaliate against Gaza with a "painful, sharp, strong and uncompromising response" if the rocket attacks do not stop, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday.

"The Israeli response will -- in no way -- be what the terrorist organizations expect. The state of Israel has a wide range of options that will be utilized in order to bring complete quiet to the south," he said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ukraine Teeters as Citizens Blame Banks and Government

Posted by Justin Bresolin

Ukraine’s economy is coming apart at the seams as critical factories dismiss thousands of workers, cities go without heat or water due to unpaid bills and its currency weakens to the point of possible government default. The violent protests so common to other former soviet states are imminent in their coming to Ukraine, and many malcontented citizens express anger and resentment toward a government they see as having failed its people.

The danger of Ukraine’s financial collapse is significant not only to itself, but to other European countries as well. With its large population and industrial strength, Ukraine’s collapse may destroy investor confidence in Eastern Europe, and might also prompt Russia, a country with traditional cultural ties to parts of Ukraine, to impose itself upon the country’s affairs. This is particularly apparent in the recent dispute over payments for gas transport to western European countries, prompting Russia to shut off gas flow not just to Ukraine, but to many nations west of it as well. This event has demonstrated how critical Ukraine is to European economic stability, and why its prosperity is of such great concern.

With a presidential election due possibly as soon as January of next year, heavy anti-government protest amongst the citizenry, pricing disputes over Russian resources, and a projected economic shrink of 6%, Ukraine’s political future looks highly uncertain, and the influence its suffering has had on other European nations clearly demonstrates the chain reaction borne of economic reliance that the global crisis so epitomizes. Ukraine’s fate in no small way determines the fate of much of East Europe’s global economic reputation, and the ease of recovery for the continent as a whole.

EU chiefs attempt to cool bloc's crisis

By Josh Emberton

This international crisis has spawned a true test to the strength of a recently discussed international institution... the EU. This economic crisis has pust forth a test of whether the members will cooperate or defect. A class exercise that did not end successfully I might add.

The cooperators will have to resist political pressure and interests. They will need to be prepared to bail out weaker members of the EU. It's not the main EU zone countries that are the focus of worrying. But the 16 or so outer nations that make up the EU. Bailing them out is important for the success of this institution. The pressure to defect is strong. Germany is a prime example for just what kind of pressure countries are facing.

For example, Germany 'vowed never to bail out weaker members in return for giving up its strong national currency, the Deutsche mark, German leaders, with elections on the horizon, are now faced with the unpalatable prospect of having to do precisely that: put German money at risk to bail out weaker, less responsible partners.'

There has yet to be a agreed upon approach on just what actions the EU is going to take to defend themselves. 31.1 billion has already been agreed upon to help Eastern Countries but the article states that will not be enough. The key is whether or not protectionism will win out and aid will not reach these Eastern countries.

This poses a problem for the Euro because if nations go into default they may be forced to 'abandon' the currency. This will be the beginning of the end for this international institution, or so this article has suggested. After the fall of the Soviet system, most Eastern European countries turned towards the West for guidance. This crisis will tell them whether or not they may need to rethink that decision.

US May Aid Mexico in Drug Fight

By Jacob Simkins

The United States has shown interest in increasing aid to Mexico in dealing with the escalating conflict against drug trafficking cartels by increasing military assistance. Defense Secretary Robert Gates cites Mexico's President Felipe Calderon courageous fight against these cartels, along with a new preparedness in Washington, as the principle reasons for this increase, along with a desire to stop the illicit spread of drugs. This military aid would come in the form of intelligence, training, and new equipment.

Over 1000 have died in the last two months in Mexico because of these cartels. Gates maintains that the principle reason for this aid is Calderon's willingness to confront the problem, which was not true of his predecessors. Speculation remains that the principle reason for this diplomatic move is to bolster relations after a Pentagon report was released two days ago stating that the current drug warfare could lead to Mexico becoming a failed state. Calderon quickly rejected this Pentagon report be asserting that Mexico remains in control of its territory. However, the escalating violence is of significant concern as over 6,000 people were killed in drug cartel related violence last year.

Chinese Plans for Space Exploration

By: Mike Bozee

A Chinese lunar satellite made contact with the moon today, which Beijing considered a controlled collision. The satellite had reached the end of its 16-month mapping of the entire moon's surface. In the future, China remains ambitious with its plans to send a man on the moon and develop a space station. Since China became the third nation to launch a manned spacecraft in orbit in 2003, it is evident that the country wishes to explore its capabilities with space exploration. China has announced that it plans to carry out its first space docking next year, which is an important step toward developing a space station. As China continues to made use of its space technologies, other leading countries will take notice and work with developing their own.

HIV Evolution

By Angrette

It is estimated that HIV had already killed 25 million people and an estimated 33 million are currently infected. However the virus does not kill people at the same rate. The rate of progress is tied to to the rates by which genes that control production of key immune system molecules called Human Leucocyte Antigents or HLA's are produced. Humans differ in the amount HLA's genes they have, small differences have a big impact on how quickly AIDS developed. Researchers found mutations in HIV that enables the virus to effectively neutralise the effect of a particular HLA, when that HLA have high prevalence in a population. With time the HIV virus has developed escape mutations in its genetic make up. This shows that HIV is very adept at adapting to the immune responses of human populations that are most effective at containing the virus. The first reaction would be to think that the virus is winning the battle. Not necessarily, other researchers had said that it could actually be that as the virus changes, different immune responses come to play and are actually more effective. The implication is that if a vaccine is found it would need to be changed on a frequent basis to catch up with the evolving virus.

Genocide Conviction in Rwanda

On Friday a former Rwandan military chaplain, Emmanuel Rukundo, was convicted for crimes of rape and genocide and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a U.N. tribunal. According to Judge Joseph Asoka Nihal de Silva, there was clear evidence connecting Rukundo to the killings of Tutsi civilians near Gitarama during the 1994 genocide which led to his conviction. His stature as a priest also aided in their judgement.
It was also found that Rukundo played a key role in at least four occasions of abductions and killings from the St. Leon Minor Seminary in Gitarama of the Tutsi people who were seeking refuge there. A victim also testified that Rukundo had attempted rape of several women from that same seminary.
Rukundo will serve 17 and a half years of his 25 year sentence due to the time he has already spent in prison. He was arrested in January of 2001; in March of 2001 he was sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda detention center and his trial began in November of 2006.
Rukundo is not the first to see judgment after the Rwandan genocide of 1994. There have been 38 other judgments, nine trails are currently being conducted and seven other people are awaiting trial. The tribunal has until the end of the year to complete its trials as stated by the U.N. Security Council.

By: Latoyia Kimbrough

An article on the CNN website reported on Thursday that MEND, the largest rebel group in Niger Delta, sent three military gunboats to attack a government camp in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta region around the Ke River. This attack was apart of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and six government soldiers were killed. The militants maintained that the gunboats were there to prevent the government boats from entering the river state. The government gave no immediate response to the attack.
Nigeria is Africa's largest crude oil producer and the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the United States. The rebel group MEND has demanded that more of the country's oil wealth be given to the region instead of making foreign investors richer. They hope to obtain a greater share of the oil wealth for the people in the delta, where over 70 percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day.
The militant group has been attacking oil pipelines since 2006 in retaliation against government forces in an effort to limit the amount of crude oil that leaves the country. It has bombed pipelines and kidnapped hundreds of foreign oil workers but this worked are usually released without being harm after they are given a ransom payment. The attacks on oil facilities have taken a toll on foreign investors. “Anytime a pipeline is affected, anytime any production gets shut down, you see oil prices jump up one or two dollars a barrel just because there is no slack in the system," said Jim LeCamp, a senior vice president with RBC Wealth Management. The attacks have hurt Exxon and Shell who are two of several companies that have been extracting 2 million barrels of oil a day in Nigeria. The decrease in production comes at a bad time when regions such as China, Russia and Latin America have an increase in demand.

Canadians Angry About Russian Bomber

The night before President Obama's visit to Ottowa last week, Canadian fighter jets were sent out to intercept a Russian bomber flying in international airspace.  The jets told the bomber to turn around, and it complied before entering North American airspace.  The Canadians claim that the bomber was headed towards Canadian airspace, and that they were given no warning of the flight.  Furthermore, some claim that the timing of the flight was intentional, with Canadian security focused on the arrival of President Obama.  The Russians contend that it was a routine flight that NORAD had been informed of.  These types of flights off the coast of North America were a common occurrence until the end of the Cold War.  They ceased in the 90's, only to be resumed a few years ago as Russia pursued a more aggressive foreign policy.  The article suggests that perhaps this increased tension is related to the competition over Arctic resources in the future.  The Canadian Army says that it plans to build a training center and a deep water port in the future.  With Russia laying claim to much of the Arctic Sea, the potential for conflict is already rearing its head.
In light of this article I can't help but think that Russia is still stuck in a balance of power mentality. Unannounced flights off the coast of Canada seem like an antagonistic policy for peace time, but the Russians haven't hesitated in routinely making them.  Likewise, the Canadian government seems just as eager to capitalize on the potential resources of the Arctic; albeit less reckless.  I think that more resources should be poured in to better definitions of what can be claimed to avoid a big war in the future.

Somali president bends to rebel demand for sharia law

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Saturday he will give in to a rebel demand that he impose Islamic law, or sharia, in an effort to halt fighting between Somali forces and Islamic insurgents. However, Ahmed told a news conference he won't agree to a strict interpretation of the law, which forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.

The question is will this actually bring stability to the region? I do not believe it will because conflict arose from the Islamic Court in the first place.

Ahmed, who was elected January 31, said he would ask the AU contingent to leave once there is a solid political solution to the conflict. I believe that there needs to be more done than just the AU. A bigger international prescence.

More than 40,000 Somalis have returned to abandoned neighborhoods in Mogadishu over the past six weeks, despite some of the heaviest fighting in months, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday.They are part of the more than a million residents who have been displaced by fighting in Somalia, including 100,000 who fled to neighboring countries last year alone, according to the United Nations.