April 11, 2018
Russia Trumps Syrian Chemical Inquiry at the United Nations
Russia yesterday trumped a United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) resolution that would have established a new investigative mechanism to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria - Russia's twelfth veto of resolutions concerning Syria since the start of the eight-year-old war.
Drafted by the United States (US), the resolution would have filled the vacuum left by the expired mandate of the Organization for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). That investigative means expired last November, according to the UN website.
Russia, having super veto power at the UNSC, killed yesterday's draft with a "no" vote.
And in fairness to Russia, it's competing resolution on Syria was also defeated yesterday and so was a third it put forward concerning the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM).
Thus, it remains clear that under the present structure of the UN Security Council regarding super veto power, it becomes increasingly difficult to accomplish world peace unless all powers are on the same side.
Therefore, the hour must be approaching for reforms within the UN to right the impotence of the international body to achieve peace and transparency in conflicts.
April 10, 2018
Urbanization - Our World in 2050
If United Nations (UN) projections hold true, then our world will be transformed into a mostly urban habitation by 2050. As a result, the race is on to establish sustainable cities to cope with human mobility and international migration.
This week's 51st Session of the UN's Commission on Population and Development (CPD), in New York City, New York, has already revealed that projections indicate that two out of every three people on Earth, will live in cities by 2050. Thus, the Session's 2018 theme is appropriately dubbed: Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration. The meeting concludes on Friday, April 13.
Current world population counts some 3.4 billion people as living in the country out of a total population of 6.9 billion people worldwide - a roughly even disbursement ration of urban to country dwellers. According to UN figures, back in 1950, 746 million people lived in urban centers. At the end of this year, 2018, that figure will soar to 4.2 billion people living in urban areas with another 2 billion people being added by 2050, bringing the world's total urban population to 6.3 billion - a lot of people.
Ninety-percent of the increase in urban population is expected to be concentrated in Asia and Africa.
While the UN has noted that sustainable cities are gateways for people on the move, the international organization holds that well managed urbanization means better housing, productivity, opportunity, education and health care for city dwellers.
But sustaining massive super-populated cities will not be a walk in the park. Urbanization - our World in 2050, will demand precise and careful planning with regards to environmental impacts and increased social and political cohesion along with the greatest consideration of agriculture.
April 09, 2018
Migration - the Curse of Hospitable Governments
Migration has become the hot-button issue of these days. National challenges to migration from Germany, to France, to Greece, to Hungary, to the United Kingdom (UK) to the United States (US), to Italy, to Austria, to the Netherlands, to Belgium and elsewhere, have made deep impacts upon governments.
To allow migration of stateless and displaced peoples appears to be poisoning progressive governments. And conversely, to prevent migration is fueling rightist leaning governments from of all places, the US, to include Italy, Hungary and Austria.
Liberal-leaning governments that have dodged the curse for housing the stateless and the displaced, have witnessed their power bases decline as in the case of Angela Merkel's Germany. France continues to seek a balance in tempering hospitality against a national outcry over migration. Italy, Austria and Hungary have taken different positions.
In the meantime, wars continue in Yemen and Syria and economic hardships and political turmoil continue to ravish northern Africa, as fresh clues to new conflicts emerge in Asia and elsewhere.
Migration is an issue that demands an immediate humanitarian response before the crisis deepens even further. Unless the causes for migration are fixed at their starting points - the home nations, then good governments will continue to be cursed for fulfilling their humanitarian responsibilities, while right wing movements of apathy doom humanity to even greater strife and conflict.
April 08, 2018
Another Chemical Attack Demands an End to the Syrian Tragedy
Another chemical attack has been inflicted upon the people of Syria by the government of Bashar al Assad - at least 70 people have suffocated to death, in this latest crime against humanity, perpetrated in the gross human failing that is the Syrian war.
Medical workers and activists in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria - the last rebel holdout of the eight-year war, have confirmed the suffocating deaths on Saturday with victims suffering convulsions and foaming at the mouth, symptoms of the use of a chemical agent. Another 1,000 Syrians have reported been injured in the event.
Witnesses reported that the chemical attack, believed to be Sarin gas, which has been used before on civilians by the Assad regime, was dropped by barrel-bomb from a helicopter over the area.
In 2013, rockets carrying Sarin gas were released by the Assad regime also upon Eastern Ghouta, killing hundreds, including many children. In April 2017, according to a BBC-News report, another Sarin attack killed 80 Syrians in the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The United Nations (UN) has held the Assad government responsible. Also in this year, 2018, reports have indicated the continued use of chemical agents upon civilians in Syria.
While UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "is deeply concerned about violence in Douma, Syria", expressed via Twitter this morning, he also "calls on all parties to cease fighting" stating that "It is crucial that civilians be protected", but more so than a mere temporary ceasefire, the human cost of innocents in the seemingly perpetual war, clearly demands a full end to the violence.
Now is the hour for the sake of all civilians in Syria to end the tragedy of the war. Now is the time to establish spheres within Syria as a measure to full peace. Now is the necessity to end these mounting crimes against humanity by the Assad regime.
April 07, 2018
To Re-capture a Faltering Rationality
Human development and cohesive continental-habitation have endured many trials. From the "Dark Ages" to "Enlightenment"; from slavery to emancipation; from the gross suffering of two World Wars to prolonged periods of peace; from colonialism and imperialism to independence and the birth of republics; from times of blighted non-identity to periods of cultural and social revolutions; and from utter poverty to a time of plenty fueled by international trade and global economics.
Yet, in spite of the human experience and gains accomplished in modern times, even amid two hot wars in Syria and Yemen, today, a faltering rationality appears to have emerged in political leadership that threatens to halt or to reverse great social, economic and development gains made over the years.
More than everything else, including Russian meddling from the East to the West, the Donald Trump administration's insistence on invoking a trade war with China, stands as the biggest obstacle to the continuity of robust international trade and economic well being.
The fair and continuous operation of international trade remains the driving force of all global development. Trade deficits between nations arise out of supply and demand. That a nation runs a trade deficit with another, has never been sufficient evidence to ensue a trade war, so clearly, there must be another underpinning reason for the Trump's administration insistence on fighting with China over trade.
If deep concerns over the theft of intellectual property is the main focus of the Trump administration's fight with China, then that concern should be isolated and negotiated out of the wider spectrum of general trade in order to prevent a global economic meltdown.
However, if Trump's ploy of proposing more and more tariffs on Chinese goods is really meant to force China's hand to react by unloading much of the United States (US) Treasury securities it holds so that he may boast to his political base that he recaptured much of the US dept from Chinese hands, then Trump has opened an even larger risk of the general welfare of Americans and the globe in general.
Marked abatement in world economic performance could lead to greater strife and a larger resurgence of terror and right wing groups, thus contributing to a broad destabilization of global security. A trade war between the world's two largest economies, is an irrational act to start.
Instead of a war on trade, all efforts to ensure the continued growth of the US and global economies should be set on recapturing a faltering rationality to global leadership and development.
April 05, 2018
On Global Leadership
Global leadership can no longer be defined by the size of a nation's military or upon its military budget. Although these two long-standing aspects have reigned as benchmarks to world leadership in the past, current affairs and conditions demand a new reasoning.
Therefore, modern global leadership, it would seem, is now more than ever dependent upon the rationalness of a state's leadership, its steadiness, its commitment and adherence to international pacts and treaties, its successes at developing, improving and sustaining higher standards of living for its people and the wider world and its protection of the environment.
In other words, non-environmentalist nations cannot be world leaders. Declining states cannot be world leaders. Isolationist states cannot be global leaders. States with constricting global investments cannot be world leaders. And states with impulsive reactionary leaders are also doomed from world leadership.
Clearly, the states that have signed onto international agreements to better the human and Planetary conditions and those committed in spearheading such efforts, epitomize world leadership. So are the states leading the efforts to resettle millions of the world's displaced people.
Global leadership has been transformed from the days of the "Sea Power Theory". Leadership must now be defined by a nation's actions to cohesively better its people and those of the wider globe along with its protection of the fragile environment on Planet Earth.
April 04, 2018
Fifty-Years Later - Equality and Justice Still Evade Many Blacks in America
Fifty-years-ago today, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. His non-violent movement to spur civil and human rights to the American Black, was dealt a blow.
Yet, Dr. King, even in death, triumphed as many civil rights restrictions placed upon Blacks in America were legally removed. The vote was gained, education became wider as inter-state commerce opened up. Blacks gained a few favorable positions in government and industry, thus paving the way for Barack Obama to become the 44th President of the United States.
But today, full justice and equality still elude many Blacks in America. Too many innocent unarmed Black men are shot and killed by police, many of whom are not held responsible for the deaths. Too many Blacks remain incarcerated for crimes that whites are not jailed for. Economic opportunity remains absent in too many Black neighborhoods. Too few Black executives run major companies in America. A token Black, with non-Black views, occupy a Supreme Court seat and a lone cabinet position within the Donald Trump administration.
So fifty-years after Dr. King's death at the age of 39, some said racial practices condoned in the 1960s, remain a reality of today's America. "We shall overcome someday" must be defined as now is the hour.
Hence, the question posed today in going forward to full justice and equality is: will the final push and movement for justice and equality resemble Dr. King's non-violence or not?
April 03, 2018
A Rising Dawn of an Uncertain Era
I will argue that any pre-2016 confidence, certainty and surety most people felt or appeared to have had, with regards to their own well being and that of the affairs of the wider world, have now declined in 2018 - brought to wrought, by stark political events and actions.
The decline in confidence and certainty as to the best human condition has been fueled by a now larger threat of a nuclear arms race, a United States (US) initiated trade war, Washington's seeming unprecedented retraction from the principles upon which the Republic was founded, a widening isolation, Russian meddling, the continuation of wars in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, the statelessness of Rohingya and Kurdish peoples, Brexit, the rise of the far right in Europe, ripening Asian conflicts and African and Latin American dictatorships.
Above all, I submit that Donald Trump's administration has sparked most of today's uncertainty along with Russian meddling.
Under past governments in the US, democracy resonated from the halls of the US Capitol to transcend the whole world with hopes of justice, equality, opportunity and freedom. The bright beacon of liberty that shone from the US lighted the political thoughts and aspirations of tens of millions of people across the globe. But that said democracy appears flawed today especially expressed in the treatment and policies pertaining to immigrants.
Isolationist rhetoric and actions along with threats to unhinge signed pacts with other nations and partners from the Trump administration, has hastened a rising dawn of an uncertain era. From trade and environmental agreements to military cooperation with others, uncertainty on the part of the US, is the present climate. The confidence and respect the US received under prior presidents has been eroded.
Even if all other things considered were waived, then a still deeper uncertainty arises from a brewing trade war with China that Trump has initiated. No one disputes a US trade deficit with China - a simple supply and demand reality. But US concerns per intellectual property matters are maybe best solved through rational negotiations and not via a trade war, which is a bad thing and not a good thing, as Trump has suggested. Consumers will be hurt and the global economy that has been robust could go into a free fall.
Instead of caving to US demands as Trump hoped, China yesterday fired back with tariffs on US products, including precious pork and wine, in response to Trump's imposed tariffs on Chinese products, thus affirming a rising dawn of an uncertain era with no telling of what tomorrow will bring.
April 02, 2018
Toward the Re-engagement of Humanity
Planet Earth is a vast and expansive ecosystem. Yet, it is fragile - requiring constant care, attention and protection in order to sustain the continuity of the human species as well as the plant and animal kingdoms and the natural environment.
Therefore, in order to protect the Planet's longevity, which is crucial to continuous habitation here, humankind must re-engage with the affairs associated to the health and the well being of our 'Bright Blue Marble'.
Now is the hour for a re-engagement of humanity and not just toward protecting the natural environment, but more so, toward protecting the social environment and securing the rights and the freedoms of men and women to live happy and secure.
Humanity could restart its engagement of life on Earth by first adopting a more sincere empathy for those people who are suffering or displaced at this time. Greater consideration should be given to the victims of wars in Yemen and Syria with a view to bringing the two human tragedies to a close. A kinder hospitality could also be offered to the displaced, who have become dispersed across the seas in search of solace from turmoil in their homelands. A permanent state for the Rohingya people and the Kurds would also help in achieving greater stability across the globe.
All these things are possible, yet for them to become a reality, more people are needed to care and to demand an end to perpetual suffering and slaughter. These tasks are way within the scope of the human species. Hence, it should be resolved hereafter, that each member of the human race do a little bit more than yesterday in fulfilling an ultimate responsibility for the care and protection of people, animals, plants and other things, on Planet Earth.
April 01, 2018
On a Sunday...
That the written ultimate sacrifice offered on behalf of humankind, has resulted in what is our today, must also be taken to define the current condition of humanity.
From the United States (US), to the United Kingdom (UK), to Spain, to France, to Germany, to Italy, to Poland, to Austria, to Russia, to Myanmar, to Gaza, to Syria, to Yemen, to the Americas, to Africa, to Asia and to other places, compelling evidence of the human condition exists.
Therefore, offered for consideration on this Easter Sunday, 2018; the question: is humanity doing all things necessary to fulfill and to honor the lordly sacrifice that was offered to pay for mankind's sins?
March 31, 2018
Blood over Land in Gaza - Palestinians Die at Protest
Palestinians are observing a day of mourning today following yesterday's killing of at least 17 by Israeli forces as Palestinians protested for a return to lands lost to Israel at its founding in 1948.
Another 1,400 Palestinians were injured during the "Great March of Return" near the Gaza border with Israel. The protest is expected to last six-weeks.
More than 30,000 Palestinians participated in yesterday's march, which according to BBC-News reports, is aimed to assert what Palestinians regard as their right to return to towns and villages from which their families fled, or were driven out, when the state of Israel was founded in 1948.
After an emergency session at the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC), the council condemned the violence in Gaza and called for an independent inquiry into the killing of the Palestinians - the most witnessed since the Gaza-Israeli war of 2014.
Palestinian-Israeli relations are not good, very much the same they have been for decades. Therefore, more Palestinian casualties could be expected as the "Great March of Return" continues into April and into May amid a tough hardline taken by Israel per any Palestinian approaches to border fences set up by Israel.
Moreover, the Palestinian-Israeli affair epitomizes the existence of non-rectified historical grievances that will continue to yield violence and instability until they are solved to the satisfaction of the involved parties.
March 29, 2018
In Honor of a Fallen French Hero - Full Condemnation and Rejection of Terrorism
As France honors a fallen gendarmerie who sacrificed his life so that hostages may live last Friday during a terror event at a supermarket in the south of France, that nation, the world and especially all immigrants and their sons and daughters, must renew a call for full condemnation and rejection of terrorism.
Terror remains an evil that threatens the sustainment of peace, security, stability and the good-naturedness of humanity's hospitality.
French Gendarmerie Nationale Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was savagely shot and stabbed by terrorist Radouane Lakdim, 25, after Beltrame gave up himself in exchange for a female hostage, during Lakdim's siege of a supermarket in Trebes, last Friday, March 23. Lakdim went on a rant of terror that day first carjacking a vehicle in Carcassonne, killing a passenger of the car, injuring the driver, shooting at jogging policemen and injuring one before assaulting the supermarket, killing a customer and a worker and taking hostages. Four people fell to Lakdim's terror and 15 were injured.
More innocents could have died last Friday had Beltrame not traded himself into the supermarket. French President Emmanuel Macron said Lt. Col. Beltrame "fell as a hero" showing "exceptional courage and selflessness."
But Beltrame did not have to die. If all people would condemn and reject terror, then cowardly exercises of any fallible ideology posing dangers to innocent people would not ever come to fruition.
In France, as it is throughout Europe and elsewhere, such senseless self-centered acts of terror by flawed individuals must be denounced especially by immigrants and by their sons and their daughters. The likes of Radouane Lakdim send a horrific message of distrust of immigrants.
And at a time when needy displaced migrants are seeking refuge in many lands, the likes of Radouane Lakdim, who was born in Morocco, but granted French citizenship in 2004, are poisoning the opportunities to hope for many deserving non radicalized migrants.
Therefore, and more so than before, it becomes explicitly necessary for all immigrants to condemn and to reject terror and to give up to the appropriate authorities, the likes of cowardly selfish individuals like Radouane Lakdim.
May Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame travel well.
March 27, 2018
The World Tomorrow
Optimistically, that there is yet life left on Planet Earth clearly offers hope of a world tomorrow - a world populated by young people with limitless dreams, broad ambitions and a ravenous passion for life and for survival on an ailing planet besieged by the negative impacts of man-made systems.
Realistically, angry-aging-dying men, war, suffering, violence, hunger, inequality, political meddling, the existence of nuclear weapons, autocrats, the erosion of human rights, the suppression of manifested destinies and a fragile environment, all warn of a looming doom in the absence of concerted efforts to save humanity.
Humanity's failure to correct, to atone and to make reparations for past wrongs, is contributing to perpetual global hostility in the same manner that generational grudges continue to wreck deep divisions upon social systems.
With regards to the natural environment, the latest World Bank Groundswell report, warns that climate change could force 140 million people to move within their countries' borders by 2050 because of drought, failing crops, rising sea levels and storm surges.
While the stark World Bank study focused on Latin America, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, it pointed out that the worse case scenario revealed could be reduced by 80 percent if concerted action, including global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and robust development planning at the country-level, were implemented now. So instead of 140 million people being adversely affected by the debilitating effects of climate change by 2050, the figure could be reduced by 100 million.
Therefore, if concerted action on climate change could ensure a natural environment in the world tomorrow, then necessary social, political and economic actions could also help in securing a peaceful and a more cohesive world tomorrow.
March 26, 2018
A German Arrest with Ramifications upon Present and Future Separatist Actions in Europe
[The following represents my unbiased analysis of events having full knowledge that what is expressed here, will upset some of my European associates. Yet, I write for my pen knows only the allegiances of justice, freedom, equality, humanity and logic.]
Germany authorities on Sunday, acting on a re-issued European warrant by Spain, arrested Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, as he transited through northern Germany from Denmark after he leaving Finland on Friday, where he conferenced and lectured.
Puigdemont has been self-exiled in Belgium since the Madrid government arrested and jailed Catalan leaders following last October's referendum on Catalonia's independence. Madrid has charged Catalan leaders with sedition, rebellion and embezzlement because the leaders of the wealthy northeast autonomous region, dared execute a democratic referendum on independence against the directive of the Spanish government(or Crown).
No shots were fired in the Catalonia referendum. Catalan leaders never incited or invoked violence in holding the vote - a peaceful tool of any democratic system. Yet, Spain remains intent on punishing the leaders of the region for holding the democratic process, even in the absence of any armed rebellion.
Last Friday, in re-issuing the arrest warrants for Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders who have fled Spain, the Spanish Supreme Court also ruled that it would try 25 Catalan leaders, including Puigdemont, on rebellion and embezzlement charges that could result in lengthy prison-sentences. The court has also detained the Catalan leaders in Spain until their trials.
Madrid's re-ignition of the Catalonia question that now puts Germany squarely in the middle of it, comes after Madrid wrestled control of the autonomous region away from its local leaders. A December election in the region that Madrid wrongly assumed would result in a rout of independence-seeking candidates and parties at the polls, backfired. Catalonians voted again for the sovereignty-seekers, thus frustrating the Madrid government ever further.
Instead of establishing a commission with Catalan leaders to address the grievances of the region with a view to peacefully and democratically re-affirming Catalonia's inclusion in Spain, Madrid has kept up its flawed intent to punish and to scapegoat Catalan's leaders at all cost.
Madrid's action, I will continue to argue, sets a dangerous precedent per any present and future separatist movements in Europe because it sends the message that democratic, peaceful and non-violent efforts to any sovereignty will be punished, thus appearing to invite and to leave violent insurrection, as the only mode to any independence trials - an unwarranted likelihood in any jurisdiction.
Madrid is attempting to inflict undue punishment upon Catalan's leaders for their exercise of a democratic process. That Germany would detain Puigdemont and not allow him to continue to Belgium, exposes the Catalan leader of the danger of being extradited to Spain, where he believes he will will not get a fair trial, but would be subjected to cruel and undue punishment, something Germany must know about from the nation's gross punishment post-WWI, which contributed to the rise of the Nazis and WWII.
Spain holds the cards to ensuring that the Catalonia question does not leave Europe exposed to a future of armed insurrections over democratic processes.
March 25, 2018
A Youth Movement has Started to Redirect America's Current Political Trajectory
The March for Our Lives protest rally yesterday for stricter gun control laws that witnessed 800,000 youth and their relatives descend upon Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in Washington, DC, and tens of thousands of other youth in another 800 locations across the United States (US) and around the globe, including Parkland and Miami; Florida, New York City, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; London, United Kingdom (UK) and Paris, France among other places, has affirmed the establishment of a youth movement in the US that could alter the current trajectory of the American Republic.
Youth remains the vanguard of all beneficial social and political change in society - a fact overlooked by too many aging and dying lawmakers, who often dismiss the cries and demands of youth, as insignificant.
However, yesterday's showing by the sheer numbers of force of America's youth, joined by their international peers, confirms that our young people are a formidable demographic not to be ever neglected or dismissed as significant.
Yesterday's rallies confronted gun violence, but the passion and alliances of the youth could easily transcend to other issues of concern including the environment, which today's youth will inherit in a sick and feeble state from the seas to the air and the land.
While some social scientists might point out that it would take ten-years to identify whether or not the youth have really established a movement, I venture to differ. I hereby proclaim that that which I have borne witness, clearly affirms the presence of a new youth movement in America. If the movement is sustained, then one of its near impacts will be revealed at the polls this Fall in mid-term elections for the US Congress.
These children, their parents, their relatives, their friends and their neighbors stand to mandate the adoption of a more favorable political platform and agenda demanded by yesterday's rallies, thus changing the current money-first over lives trajectory of the US political scape.
March 24, 2018
March for Our Lives
Later this morning, my family and I will join hundreds of thousands of America's school-children, on the National Mall, here in Washington, DC, for the "March for Our Lives" event demanding action on gun control by lawmakers in the wake of far too many school shootings across the nation.
From the state of Colorado to Connecticut and other states in between and recently in the state of Florida, gun violence - with innocent children as victims, has claimed too many lives in the United States (US). A recent display of 7,000 pairs of shoes on the lawn at the US Capitol building, was starkly indicative of the too large a number of children-victims from gun violence.
Too many lives, hopes, ambitions, passions and talents have been gunned-down as politicians appease the gun lobby instead of protecting the Republic's future - our children.
Therefore, as a reminder and as a wake-up call to lawmakers and the presidency of the need for stricter gun control laws in the US, we will "March for Our Lives" today with a view that others may keep their lives tomorrow and beyond.
March 23, 2018
China Strikes Back at Trump's First-Shot Trade War
China has signaled it would impose tariffs on $3billion United States (US) imports should both sides fail to resolve a trade dispute first-fired by Donald Trump's imposition of new tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products, and further compounded yesterday, with Washington's announced intent to impose another $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.
World financial markets have reacted and are reacting negatively to a likely trade war involving the world's two largest economies: the US Dow and S&P indices dropped three-percent each yesterday, the Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan markets falling two-percent, with Japan's falling five-percent and Shanghai's three-percent also today. In a mean time, all major markets across Europe are also trending down today.
The cost of a trade war is already being reflected in market reactions. There could be no winners in a trade war. There will be many victims including regular citizens
in both countries who will inevitable have to pay more for goods and services. Moreover, the impacts of a trade war could also send global economic health into an illness dooming nation development into a decline.
Yet, per Trump's orders to levy heavy tariffs on China and to limit China's investment in the US technology sector based upon concerns that China has violated US intellectual property rights via restrictive licensing arrangements in China and cyber theft in the US, unless China yields and strikes a new agreement with the US that would appease the Trump administration, a trade war appears imminent.
While the Trump administration apparently hopes China will eventually give in to its demands to close the trade gap between the two countries, China's reciprocal announcement of tariffs on US products indicate that Beijing might be willing to put a more formidable fight amid a background of its new economic wealth which is 17-times stronger than it was back in the 1990s when it caved in facing a possible trade war back in that time.
"China does not want to fight a trade war," its commerce ministry announced earlier today, "but it is absolutely not afraid of a trade war," it concluded.
March 22, 2018
The Pervasion of Plastics - a Widening Hazard to Marine Environment
A report for the government of the United Kingdom (UK) just identified the pervasion of plastics in the oceans as tripling by 2025 and posing a widening hazard to marine life and the natural environment as whole.
Titled the "Foresight Future of the Sea", the report by the Office for Science released on Wednesday, declared that the oceans have seen "unprecedented change as a result of direct human activity and climate change". It identified the rise of plastics in the oceans along with rising temperatures and sea levels and chemical pollution as some of the biggest problems the marine environment faces.
That 70 percent of marine litter as named by the report is now non-degradable plastic, and that these plastics would increase threefold between 2015 and 2025, clearly speaks of the catastrophic environmental hazard humanity faces from dumping plastics in the seas.
Explicit video documentation and scientific research have recently shown alarming amounts of plastics in large swaths of the world's oceans. Plastics within the systems of sea birds and fish-life further compounds the gravity of the impact of pollution on the marine environment.
Therefore, in order to do a better job to protecting the environment, it becomes vital for all nations to implement better usage and recycling methods for plastics.
March 20, 2018
The European Union (EU) - a Stabilizing Entity in a Twirling World
In spite of ripples in Hungary, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and recently Italy, along with the forthcoming exit of the United Kingdom (UK), the 28-member European Union (EU) stands as a solid political and economic entity in a twirling agitated world.
Fortified within the security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the EU offers western comfort to the continuity of democracy and to the political and economic stability and leadership of the world amid a growing policy of isolation by the Donald Trump administration in the United States (US).
Not perfect by any measure as marked by Eurosceptics in Italy, non-union sentiments in Hungary, Austria and Poland, along with a Vladimir Putin liking leadership in Czech Republic, the EU's political, economic and integration model holds borderless opportunities to the further development and prosperity of its members and as a stabilizing factor to western democracies.
The Maastricht Treaty 1993-establishment of the EU, today witnesses the union firmly anchored under the experienced global leadership of Germany's Angela Merkel and the innovation and youth of France's Emmanuel Macron. Moreover, the EU benefits from having a full contingent of elder statesmen/women from among the member-states, who possess a broad and deep knowledge of European and global affairs, thus enabling the union to maintain and to sustain a strong political, social and economic environment.
With wars in Syria and Yemen, coupled with other Middle East concerns, lurking troubles in Africa, Russian agitations and the growing isolation of the US, the EU appears even more attractive under its current stability and rationale.
As China better positions itself as a global leader, having endorsed Xi Jinping to rule beyond 2023 - affirming its own desire to continuity, then the necessity and the vitality of the EU as a western stabilizing entity, clearly emerges, especially in lieu of any historic US rational commitments to global leadership.
March 19, 2018
A Return to Rational Thought - a Return to Civility
Humanity's beauty, compassion and sense of loving-responsibleness is deteriorating in many places. To recapture humanity's passion, glory, creativity and empathy, there must be a return to rational thought - a return to civility.
War is not a pleasing civil event; neither is the deliberate break up of families through inhumane deportations of loyal immigrants; neither is the blatant disregard of environmental protections; neither is the unwarranted refusal to host refugees; neither is the selfish push back against common sense gun control laws.
Therefore, in order to sustain a peaceful and cohesive global atmosphere, the voices of rational thought and civility must drown out the divisive and polarizing rhetoric of the collaborators against human decency and responsibility.
Henceforth, let the rational voices rise to the fore from hamlet, to town, to city, to nation, to continent and to the entire Planet. Let's recapture humanity's worth and responsibility. Let's end the wars in Syria and Yemen. Let's see that the Rohingya people have a home. Let's desist from deporting law-abiding immigrants. Let's grant refuge to the displaced. Let's listen to the voices of children and end gun violence. Let's live as members of the same and only race - the human race. [Written for your consideration on a Monday.]
March 18, 2018
In the Absence of a Revolution to Oust Failed Governments, Prolonged Suffering Results
Syria today is a clear example of prolonged suffering of its people in lieu of a revolution back in 2011 to oust the failed tyrannical government of Bashar al Assad.
War deaths from eight-years of conflict in Syria have reached some 500,000; seven-million Syrians remain displaced internally and another five-million have fled the country. Today, in places like Eastern Ghouta, suffering, starvation, flight and death still abound. And to make matters even worse, no immediate plan is afoot toward ending the carnage of Bashar al Assad upon the Syrian people.
That forces in opposition to Assad lacked the military means and were not provided with the necessary capabilities to oust Assad back in 2011, confirms that in absence of any quick decisive action against Assad, the suffering of the Syrian people would continue because of Assad's addiction to power and his unsympathetic concern of the wishes of the Syrian people.
Sooner or later, the Syrian war will end. But the scars, lessons and impacts of this gross failing of humanity, will linger for a greater period than the execution time of the war. Sadly, many of these said scars, lesson and impacts will not be good per effects upon the wider world or in future events of people faced with failed governments.
March 17, 2018
Born into War - Will Peace Ever Come to Syria's Children?
Imagine being born into a world of perpetual war at your doorstep...imagine living under constant events of air strikes, bombs and chemical gas attacks...imagine being starved of basic food and medical necessities...imagine 500,000 people dying before your eyes...imagine an outside world being aware of your suffering but doing nothing to end it, and with a little empathy, imagine the hopelessness, fear and despair of the witnesses to such atrocities.
While this might just be an imagination for many of us, it is the stark deadly reality of the Syrian people, especially of the Syrian children.
Syrian children - seven-years of age, and those younger, some one-million of them, have known war all of their short tender innocent lives.
The war, perpetuated upon Syrians by Bashar al Assad, has lasted seven years so far and shows no signs of ending. Today, March 17, 2018, marks the second-day of the eighth-year of the Syrian war, which started on March 15, 2011. World War I lasted four-years; World War II lasted six-years, yet Syrian children continue to die into an eighth-year as an international community is rendered impotent to bring relief and comfort to the Syrian people.
Peace must be demanded in Syria. Russia's support to Assad should be challenged and he and his executioners must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.
Once concerted and credible justice is served in Syria, only then could Syria begin its long healing process of its people, children and culture.
March 16, 2018
Re-Division of East-West Relations Fueled by Russian Misconduct
The nerve-agent poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter, reportedly by Russia, on the soil of the United Kingdom (UK), confirms a re-division of East-West relations fueled by Russian misconduct that has been in the making for some years now.
The UK government believes Russia used a terrifying nerve-agent, Novichok, to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66 and his daughter, Yulia, 33, on British soil, March 4, 2018, after both victims, who remain hospitalized in critical condition, were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the BBC-News has reported. Some 131 people in Salisbury have been identified as potentially exposed to the poison and at least 21 have sought treatment following the event that also sicken a police detective, whose health is improving.
British Prime Minister Theresa May believes Moscow is "culpable" for the attack and she has kicked-out 23 Russian diplomats as part of a "full and robust" response to the attack on British soil. Russia has denied the attack. But British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, according to the BBC-News, believes it is "overwhelmingly likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the nerve agent attack.
While the United States (US), France and Germany have joined the UK to sign a statement condemning Russia's use of the poison, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has affirmed that the "UK is not alone" in the matter. Earlier this morning, he admonished: "It is important that Russia gets a clear signal that it costs to behave the way they behave."
Back in 2006, defected Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London, a public inquiry into his death was finally concluded in 2016, which found that his murder was an operation of the Russian spy agency FSB that was probably personally approved by Putin.
Undoubtedly, Russian relations with and inside the West have increasingly soured in recent years. A forged Russian partnership with the West cooperating on terrorist matters in the aftermath of "September 11", quickly diminished as Russia meddled in Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014. Since then, Russian meddling and agitation have witnessed its military capabilities trawl off the seas of the Nordics, the English Channel, the US east coast and South America, to name a few. Also Russian money to far right groups in Europe has been documented along with its influence on the US Presidential Election, in 2016.
Clearly, the recent Salisbury, England, poisoning event confirms the re-divisioning of Western-Russian affairs brought to wrought by Russian misconduct, which will inevitably lead to a farther isolation of Russia in spite of any western leader's resistance and delay to heap more sanctions on Vladimir Putin's Russia.
March 15, 2018
Time's Up for Action on Gun Control - the Children Have Spoken
The lively energetic voices of the children - the Republic's future, rang out yesterday in an explicit message to aging adult lawmakers to enact new controls to combat the prevalence of guns in the United States (US).
From the east coast to the west coast and from cities to suburban towns, hundreds of thousands of American school children walked out of classes yesterday at 10:00 a.m., in protest of the absence of stricter gun control laws and in memory of 17 people, including 14 children, massacred at a high school in Florida, a month-ago.
Demanding that their voices be heard and that their futures become more secured from the assault of gun violence, America's children have called upon lawmakers to enact stricter gun control laws.
Today, as the voices of the children become temporarily muted as their return to classes, the question remains as to whether or not the Republican controlled Congress will act to limit the prevalence of guns. More than likely, Republicans will not go against the favor of the deep-pocket lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and bestow greater gun controls that would appease the children of America.
Therefore, children of voting age (18), who are demanding a change to gun laws, should ensure that they and all their classmates do register and do vote for a Democrat Congress in the upcoming Fall mid-term elections. Moreover, their classmates, who are not of voting-age, should implore upon their parents and all their relatives to vote-out of office all lawmakers resisting changes to gun laws.
The children have spoken signaling that time's up for gun control action and in lieu of any enactment by the present Republican Congress, the children should exercise their democratic choices and elect a new Congress in November.
March 14, 2018
Children Walkout to De,and Action on Guns in America
Tens of thousands of school children will walkout from their classrooms across the United States (US) today, demanding action on gun control by adult lawmakers.
The children from elementary to high schools, will stage their walkout at 10:00 a.m. in their respective time zones, in memory of 17 people killed, including 14 students, at a high school in Florida, a month-ago. The walkout will last for 17 minutes in memory of the recent 17 lives lost to gun violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.
Children will also walkout from their classes amid a grim reminder of 14,000 shoes on display on the grounds of the US Capitol building, representing 7,000 victims of gun violence ever since a deadly mass shooting of 22-first graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
While the gun lobby continues to stifle any major changes to laws allowing easy and ready access to guns in the US, children, sensing that their futures have become too deeply impacted by violence, have taken the lead over adults in demanding changes to gun laws.
I support my children and all of their colleagues in today's action and I will join my elementary school son at his walkout. And yes, it is true, "a child shall lead them".
March 13, 2018
The Inalienable Right of Children to Protest
All children - society's vanguard of all beneficial change - retain the inalienable right to protest. On entering the doors of institutions of education, children do not forego any of their rights.
That said, in lieu of any decisive action by dying-adult political leaders to protect present and future lives and environment of children, then all youth must retain the right to protest of all matters, including the prevalent easy access and availability of guns in America.
Earlier this morning, I endorsed and supported a permission slip from my son's middle school, here in Washington, DC, hereby giving permission to the school to allow my son to exercise his right, to join his classmates and tens of thousands of other students across America, to walk out of class on Wednesday, March 14, Pi Day, for 17 minutes, in protest of the continuing danger guns pose to young people and the future of the Republic.
That children are now forced to pick up the responsibility of adults, clearly speaks of the gravity of societal failings unfolding; and is also indicative of the gross failing by elderly political leaders to protect future generations.
And whereas adults have failed to prioritize gun control and protection of the environment, children, therefore, who will inherit the mess created by dying men, fully remain within their rights to protest now, tomorrow, the next day and beyond in order to demand greater protections of their futures.
March 12, 2018
Attainable Peace and Security
If all the world's empathetic people would unite and stand together for all things that are good for humanity and our environment, then would peace and stability would become a reality.
Unfortunately, too many decent people continue to sit on the sidelines while humanity approaches a state of greater agitation as our environment (both social and natural), becomes poisoned via the works of greedy projects by dying men with no consideration to the health and well being of future generations.
More caring people need to stand up for the things that are right and virtuous and to reject all apathetic polarizing schemes. Wars and conflicts could be ended. Dreaded divisive policies could be ended. Progressive social and environmental works could be promoted and sustained.
But first, more kind people need to demand better of current conditions and to raise their voices and actions above the minority of destructive forces, in order to attain a safe cohesive atmosphere on planet Earth. If enough of us stand, then peace, liberty, happiness and stability will rule the world. [A thought offered for consideration on a Monday.]
March 11, 2018
China Approves Continuity
The National People's Congress (NPC), the policy approval branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC), removed a constitutional restriction of a two-term limit on China's presidency earlier today, thus adopting a national policy of continuity under President Xi Jinping, beyond 2023.
China's approval of continuity comes as Europe faces the rise of the far right and populists; the United States (US) becomes more isolated, less influential and polarized under Donald Trump; and as Russia prepares for a prolonged czaristship under Vladimir Putin.
Whereas some western writers and pundits have been fast to dub China's affirmation of continuity as an installation of Xi, as "leader for life", China's choice toward continuity appears to be based upon its success of economic growth, unmatched development and widening influence. Therefore, China's decision is based significantly on its present stability, security and strength, rather than upon any coronation of a new emperor.
And China has reached its decision in the wake of a growing agitated world. Last week's success of populists and far right parties in Italy's parliamentary elections, setting up a possible collision between Eurosceptic governments - from Italy, to Poland, to the Czech Republic, to Hungary and to Austria with the behemoth European Union (EU), clearly underscores China's reasoning for continuity.
Moreover, as Donald Trump's actions continue to isolate the US on the world's sphere, to spar trade concerns on the global market, and to agitate social and political concerns within the Republic; and as Vladimir Putin nears a longer rule in Russia after upcoming elections there, then, China's decision gains greater credence and demands global acceptance of the China choice with define Chinese characteristics for the Chinese people.
March 10, 2018
As the US Slept over the Developing World -the Affair of the Port of Djibouti Spells a Wider Reality
Concern over a possible full Chinese acquisition of the strategic port of Djibouti, in East Africa, was raised in Washington, DC, this past week, during discussions before the United States (US) House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. One US military general even warned that the US could face "significant" consequences should China gain full ownership of the crucially strategic port on the Horn of Africa.
But why, and why now would the US Congress become concerned over yet another Chinese step to widen its global influence? Consideration of the following is necessary:
Djibouti - with a population of less than one-million, is a poor East African country of many nomadic pasturers, just shy of 9,000 square miles ( 23,200 square kilometers), sitting at the confluence of East Africa, the Gulf States and beyond, according to the CIA World Factbook. It sits at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, south of Eritrea, east of Ethiopia and north-northwest of Somalia. Its location makes it a strategic sea-transit hub for commercial, naval and military operations to East Africa and the surrounding Arab states along with providing easy navigation north-northwestward up to the Suez Canal. It is a primary access port for American, French, Italian and Japanese bases in Djibouti, CNN reported earlier today.
China is heavily invested in Djibouti as it is throughout an enlarging swath of the developing world. But before addressing the almost comical concern raised over China's possible pending ownership of the Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) - the Port of Djibouti, which lies immediately adjacent to China's sole overseas military base, a brief basic recent history of Djibouti is necessary because it hints at important chances of influence Washington has missed since the end of the Cold War, but upon which China has capitalized.
As is the case in most developing countries, Djibouti too, had a territorial master, France. In 1977, the nation gained independence and an authoritarian one-party state emerged and lasted until 1999, when multi-party elections were held for the first time amid a civil war that ended in 2001. The president of the Republic of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh, was handpicked by his uncle, in 1999, to assume the rule of the country via multi-party elections. He remains president today after changing the constitution so that he could run for a third-term in 2011 and a fourth-term in 2016.
China is Africa's largest trading partner. In 2015, China disclosed that it would spend $60 billion on infrastructure projects on the continent, The Atlantic reported back on July 12, 2017. So when Chinese troops moved onto a new base in Djibouti last year, China did not hide its widening influence whether or not the US slept at the time. China has provided more than $1.4 billion, the equivalent of 75 percent of Djibouti's GDP, to infrastructure funding in the country.
In Late February, CNN reported, the Djibouti government terminated a contract with Dubai-based port operator, DP World, to run the Doraleh Container Terminal on the grounds it was "contrary to the fundamental interests of the nation." The port is 23.5 percent owned by China's state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings.
Last week's Congressional concern about China gaining full ownership of the container terminal in Djibouti seems comical since the likelihood has been in clear sight. China never hid from view its intended influence over the developing world, which the US has seemingly ignored ever since the end of the cold war.
Marine General Thomas Waldhauser told lawmakers of "significant" consequences to US interest should China get full control of the port that could see restrictions on its use and a cut off of access to a key US re-supply route with impacts on naval re-fueling. Lawmakers claimed Djibouti was giving the port to China as a "gift".
Whatever it is, the affair of the port of Djibouti spells a wider reality of the ambition and fruit of China's overt acts to influence developing nations which is unmatched by the US deepening isolation and its neglect of strategically vital areas in recent years.
March 09, 2018
Syria's Seven-Year War - From Peaceful Protest to a Proxy War for International Powers
The war in Syria is in its seventh-year now - a prolonged period of slaughter and suffering of Syria's children and people. The conflict has claimed some 500,000 lives, including 20,000 children. A pre-war Syrian population of 22 million has dwindled as five-million war victims have become displaced externally and another six-million internally. Yet, the gross failing of humanity continues in the Levant.
What started in 2011 as peaceful protest by the people against the tyrant Bashar al Assad, quickly morphed into a civil war as Assad's forces launched brutal attacks upon peaceful civil society. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and millions have become displaced because of the conflict, which has, in 2018, become a proxy war for international powers, dictated by Russia.
Assad's deadly and often chemical-agent attacks upon the people of Syria, have been executed to keep him in the seat of power in Damascus. His chief ally, Russia, has been adamant in keeping Assad in power in spite of his explicit crimes against humanity. With Assad's reign, Vladimir Putin is assured of keeping Russia's sole naval installation facility on the Mediterranean Sea, at Tartus, Syria. Russian forces have carried out deadly attacks in Syria.
Iran, which also continues to prop up Assad, appears to be embroiled in the Syrian conflict in a determinant of regional influence over Saudi Arabia, which has prolonged another regional conflict, in Yemen, which continues to wrought suffering upon many Yemenis, including thousands of children.
Israel and Turkey have also joined the conflict in Syria, with Israel said to be protecting its interest via bombings in southern
Syria, while Turkey battles Kurdish rebels in north Syria.
Syrian Democratic forces, backed by the United States (US), and one of many opposition groups battling Assad's regime, have been largely unsuccessful in all attempts to remove Assad from power. And from the looks of it, removing Assad from power appears to be a forgotten objective in the Syrian conflict. But justice must someday be served for all the innocent lives lost in Syria and Assad must stand trial for crimes against humanity.
Until then, the reality remains: what started as peaceful protest by the Syrian people to remove the hereditary dictator Bashar al Assad from power, has turned into a civil war, which has become a proxy war for international powers, with no end in sight.
Thus, more doom, death and suffering of the past seven-years could be expected to continue in Syria until this gross failing of humanity, which is the Syrian war, is ended once and for all times.
March 08, 2018
International Women's Day 2018 - Toward Gender Equality
Today is International Women's Day 2018 - a time to honor, to respect and to appreciate the unmatched and unyielding vital role of women in society.
As celebrations, demonstrations and tributes are paid to women on this day across the globe, the continued inequality of compensation paid to women per equally qualified men, remains an issue. Equal pay for equal work must become the norm.
Moreover, on this day and beyond, respectful consideration and honor should be given to all women for their ever presence in influencing beneficial social change whether it be the Me Too movement, the women's march to resist polarization or the emerging young women student leaders seeking changes to gun laws in the United States (US).
So while today, March 8, might be designated by the United Nations (UN) as International Women's Day, the truth remains that every day is a woman's day. We love and we honor all women.
March 07, 2018
Toward the Discovery and Return of Empathy
The apathy of many humans remains too vast and wide. This absence of care, interest or the suppression of passion, emotion and excitement for things worthy of deep feelings, is the reason why conflicts breakout in the first place and are waged today in places like Syria and Yemen.
But humanity cannot sustain such apathy for it would kill the human spirit and spell the end of the human race.
Therefore, in order to sustain the continuity of the human race, there must be a discovery and/or a return to empathy - an identification with the various feelings, conditions and attitudes of others.
The refugee in an alien land is worthy of empathy. The physically and mentally challenged are worthy of empathy. The employee three-pay grades below you is worthy of empathy. The earthquake-stricken victims are worthy of empathy. The fire victims are worthy of empathy. The victims of crimes are worthy of empathy. The lower caste people are also worthy of empathy. And so are all the peoples suffering under flawed or failing governments.
So, let us be kind, compassionate, tolerant and patient with each other. This is our world and that which befalls one today, could in some form or another, befall another tomorrow.
For Planet Earth's sake and for the continuance of the human species, we must move toward the discovery and the return of empathy.
March 06, 2018
A Step Toward Stability on the Korean Peninsula - Two Leaders to Hold Summit
The leaders of the Koreas, North and South, have agreed to hold a summit next month hereby casting an optimism of hope to a current and a possible future era of stability on the Korean peninsula.
North and South Korea - blood relatives, split by foreign invaders, war, ideology and heavily fortified militarization zone, have not had a formal meeting between their leaders since 2007. Recent nuclear tests, ambitions and threatening rhetoric by the North Korea's Kim Jong-un heightened the likelihood of war on the peninsula.
However, via the recently completed Winter Olympics, in Pyeonchang, South Korea, an invitation to the games from the South to the North resulted in an acceptance that witnessed both nations marching together under one-flag at the games. Both nations also competed as a single entity in ice-hockey. The games also saw the unprecedented visit to the south by sister of the North's leader, thus opening up a closer realm for diplomacy between the Koreas.
The peaceful spirit of the Olympic games transcended into an invitation from the North to the South to visit Pyongyang, which was accepted, conducted and completed this week by a high delegation, which had a four-hour dinner with the reclusive Jong-un.
The return of the delegation to Seoul, South Korea, revealed the agreement between both sides to hold a summit between the two leaders, Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, at the border village of Panmunjom, in April, the BBC-News reported, a first for the two nations in more than a decade.
The news of the summit also brought a reported willingness from the North to discuss denuclearization with the United States (US); no more missile tests while diplomacy continued; and the opening of a hot line between the leaders of the North and South.
While the US remains "cautiously optimistic" about improving North-South contacts, a greater aura of calm than at any other time in recent memory, hovers over the Korean peninsula today which could usher in a lasting period of stability to relatives, split for too long.
March 05, 2018
Uncertainty in Italy - Populists, Eurosceptics and the Far Right Gain in Elections
A troublesome scenario toward greater European integration has emerged following yesterday's parliamentary elections in Italy. Eurosceptics, populists and far right parties have gained seats at the expense of Matteo Renzi's strongly supported European Union (EU) Democratic Party (PD).
The vote that saw 73 percent of Italy's electorate going to the polls returned the largest segment of seats to the populist Five Star Movement - 32.5 percent with a projection to win between 216 to 236 of the seats, but yet shy of the 316 required to form a majority government. The far right coalition comprising the League Party, the Go Italy Party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 81, and the Brothers of Italy Party, are projected to win between 248 to 268 seats, also shy of the 316 majority needed to form a government. Matteo's democrats won a mere 18.7 percent of the vote to win between just 107 to 127 seats, a clear defeat.
While Luigi Di Maio, 31, leader of the Five Star Movement and the League's Matteo Salvini, both made claims to rights to form a new government earlier today, no single party will be able to rule without a coalition with one or more parties because of the vote spread.
Immigration and economic issues dominated the Italian election. While unemployment sits at 11 percent, many Italians have turned their anger upon immigrants since the nation has witnessed some 600,000 asylum seekers come onto Italian shores ever since 2013.
But as matters stand in Italy today, a troublesome scenario to deeper European integration has become a reality since the larger vote getters, all Eurosceptics, stand to form the next government. The Five Star Movement has advocated an alternative to the continental Euro, protection of "Made in Italy" products and a revision of the Dublin regulation toward a distribution of asylum seekers across the EU. The right wind parties have called for the deportation of illegal migrants, developing a Marshall Plan for Africa, a revision of EU treaties, no more austerity policies from Europe and protection of "Made in Italy" products. The Democratic Party, even in defeat, has always retained a platform for more European political and social integration.
Thus, with Eurosceptics and the far right ascending to Italy's government, uncertainty emerges as to the future of deeper Italian integration within the EU.
March 04, 2018
Germany Keeps Rational Continuity - Angela Merkel to Form Her Fourth Government
Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) has given a vote of approval for the party to enter a new grand coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the CSU, thus ending five-months of uncertainty and affirming a pattern of rational continuity under the leadership Merkel.
Last fall, no party gained a clear majority in the German elections and as a result, Merkel was forced to enter a coalition government or to call new elections. Negotiations with the SPD culminated last night as the postal-mailed ballots to members of the SPD were counted revealing 66 percent of members endorsing the coalition and affording Merkel the opportunity to form her fourth government after 12-years of leadership.
Merkel's tenure in Germany ever since 2005, has brought strong economic gains, rational world leadership and a strong partnership within the European Union (EU). Yet, Merkel, in extending a responsible humanitarian helping hand to hundreds of thousands of refugees between 2015 and 2016, angered some Germans, especially those within the far right, who opposed immigration.
In spite of the anger, Merkel continued to epitomize modern Germany's world responsibility to human rights concerns. Refugees were housed. And though she and her party failed to gain a clear majority of the seats in last year's election, Merkel remained in a position to form a coalition government.
Prior to last night's final approval of the grand coalition government, the possibility that Germany's youth within the SPD would derail the coalition did not materialize as the majority of members voted for and sought a continuity of Merkel's German and world leadership.
Thus, today, a rational continuity to world leadership has been saved in Germany renewing a global hope to level-headed solutions to many world problems including wars in Syria and Yemen, a pending trade war, nuclear threats, Donald Trump's isolationist policies and many destabilizing immigration issues.
March 03, 2018
Regarding China and Xi Jinping
If the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and its people support a constitutional change to allow President Xi Jinping to extend his rule beyond 2023, then the decision is worthy of international acceptance and not of unwarranted criticisms that have surfaced since the notion was first revealed earlier this week.
Not that China craves international support of its national issues that are designed to enhance and to further develop the thriving nation, but China's recent world involvement, leadership and international partnership, has demonstrated a rational economic and peaceful characteristic, deserving of continuity. China's development projects in third world nations that have been neglected and forgotten by their former colonial powers, are unprecedented.
Recent infrastructural, trade, cultural and agricultural projects China has partnered with nations from Asia to Africa and Latin America, have clearly identified China's rising global influence, especially in a time of widening United States (US) isolation under President Donald Trump. So why would China not want to continue this rise with the continuity offered under a possible extension of Xi's tenure as president?
Two years ago, I would not have uttered these comments under the Presidency of Barack Obama, but the reality of the times, of maturity, of the truth of the current world order and of a present persistent betrayal of the tenets and promises of democracy to those seeking opportunity through immigration and residency, have accorded me the wisdom to see matters more clearly.
Moreover, I offer these thoughts not because my wife is of Chinese descent, but because of China's peaceful ascent and global partnerships, especially with third world nations that appear to offer greater returns to invested nations that anything left by their former colonial masters.
Therefore, if on Monday, the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), meeting in Beijing, decides to extend the rule of Xi, who turns 65 in June, then it should be accepted because the Chinese people have willed it, which could bring greater development to many more lands in need, but currently neglected.
March 02, 2018
Putin's Star Wars Offensive Imagination - An Ensuing Arms Race
Russian President Vladimir Putin tickled the patriotism of fellow Russians on Thursday in a speech he delivered less than three weeks before his scheduled and expected re-election, claiming "invincible" nuclear missile, drone and submarine capabilities that would thwart western defense systems.
He later reclaimed the said capabilities in an interview with NBC-News' Megyn Kelly. "As a matter of fact, every single weapons system discussed today easily surpasses and avoids an anti-missile defense system," Putin alleged.
Putin described the nuclear missiles as "invincible" and able to navigate with an "unlimited" range and that some of them are battle-ready after being successfully tested.
While Putin possess a large and far-reaching nuclear missile arsenal and a stealthy submarine program, his claims of invisibility can be construed as a bluff - a bluff borrowed from the play book of President Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program, Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), announced back in 1983 that added financial woes to the USSR in an arms race which contributed to the Soviet Union's eventual break up.
With the claimed Russian offensive system in contrast to a defensive one, maybe Putin is hoping to inflict woe and disarray in the west as his nation experienced in the aftermath of Reagan's SDI. But the entire strategy could backfire upon Putin bringing greater financial troubles to Russians.
More than likely, Putin's nuclear claims will set off a fresh arms race that will witness even larger military budgets across the globe under a constant threat of nuclear war.
March 01, 2018
Enters March - to March for Life and Renewal
The month of March is dear and eventful to me - not merely for being the birth month of two of my four-sons, and the month of my mother's death, but March epitomizes a season for literally marching-forth to the life and the renewal of Spring and onward toward all the things that are good and worthy of the human spirit.
So as this month enters like a lamb or like a lion, as will be the case weather wise in many jurisdictions this year, 2018, let us welcome March with the optimism to championing the human condition to life, liberty and happiness.
I wish all of you a safe, liberating and prosperous month of March. And I would like to extend a special welcome into this world to a baby boy, who will be born just after 9:00 a.m. today to my friend Dante Mataac and his wife, Pethalyn. May God Bless this child and provide him with good health to grow up in service to humanity.
February 27, 2018
Syria's Predicament - Humanity's Failing
Since starting this Blog five-years-ago, I've struggled to understand the rationale behind the world's hesitance and ineffectiveness to stop the slaughter of so many innocents in Syria, especially the deaths of thousands of children.
During the time, I've written a number of posts begging and praying for the amelioration of the condition of the Syrian people. I've called for the charging of Bashar al Assad for crimes against humanity. I've even written a number of 'Notes to Syria's Children' suggesting they have faith that their deliverance would soon come and urging them to rely upon the development of democracy and its institutions as a means to reclaiming their land, their childhoods and their futures.
But Syria's war continues with renewed violence, death and seeming perpetual suffering. It will enter its seventh-year in March of this year, yet, no relief or any end, appear in sight.
Dire conditions during the execution of the conflict have forced Syrians to slaughter mules for food and resort to eating grass sprouting between the cracks in concrete sidewalks. Such inhumane conditions have gotten worse.
Today, some parents in areas under siege by Assad's forces, have been relegated to life in basements without food and medicines, under heavy bombardment by the Russian backed-Syrian army, and with no more hope in humanity - they wait, expecting their starved children to die because "at least in heaven there's food". Other Syrians as reported by CNN, have adopted similar hopeless feelings expressed as: "If you're going to kill us, make it quick - we are sick of waiting on death row."
Such is the gross failing of humanity to render relief to the Syrian people. That in spite of a United Nations (UN) resolution demanding a ceasefire in the conflict and a Russian dictated daily seven-hour lull, supposedly for humanitarian causes, the Syrian people remain under death's hell in the Levant, February 27, 2018. Why?
Is it because most Syrians are of the Muslim faith? Is it because of some conspired population control agenda? Is it because of some geopolitical game orchestrated by powers larger than the Syrian people? Is it because of a desperate failed government mad over its own inevitable death, thus calling upon its authoritarian ally-master to stoke greater destruction upon its opposition before its own time fizzles out?
I have not the answers, but this much I do know for certain: Syria's predicament is humanity's failing. And future peoples, who aspire to change their flawed or failing governments, will take a much less passive approach than Syrians have to gaining their full rights as members of the human race, to liberty, to happiness and to the rule of law.
February 26, 2018
Lacking Enforcement Powers - the UN is Limited to Effecting Peace
On Saturday, the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) passed a resolution demanding a 30-day lull "without delay" in the Syrian conflict. By Sunday, Bashar al Assad's forces had killed another 22 civilians in Eastern Ghouta and another nine by this morning, in spite of the UN resolution.
The Syrian government's blatant disregard, with Russian support, of international law and of UN resolutions, clearly underscores the ineffectiveness of the international body to bring about peace because it lacks enforcement powers.
While the UN has historically entered conflict zones to maintain and to sustain peace, it unfortunately lacks the enforcement power to establish the peace. And knowing this, Bashar al Assad has continued his assault upon innocents in Eastern Ghouta over the weekend and into early this morning, bringing the total deaths in the besieged enclave of some 400,000 people to 541 in the last eight-days, including a number of children.
However, international pressure placed upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to rein-in his ally Assad, could result in a truce taking hold in Syria, thus allowing for much needed humanitarian and medical aid to reach 5.6 million people across the country who are in acute need of assistance.
The BBC-News just reported that Putin has greenlighted daily breaks in fighting to accommodate humanitarian aid delivery. But daily breaks are not sufficient since the UN resolution calls for a 30-day ceasefire so that aid-workers and aid-needy people could work and be treated in relative safety from air and artillery strikes.
That humanitarian relief to so many suffering people and children has had to wait for Russian approval is preposterous hereby confirming the limits of the UN to effecting peace.
February 24, 2018
Pass the Resolution - Render a Truce - End the Killing of Syrian Children
The United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) will attempt, again today, to finally pass a resolution to affect a truce across Syria in order to stop the current carnage around Eastern Ghouta and to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the the 5.6 million people in acute need in 1,244 communities.
Delays to the passing of the Resolution since Thursday have come from Russia, insisting on certain inclusions on the measure, which was put forward by Kuwait and Sweden calling for a 30-day nationwide ceasefire to hostilities, amid a children and civilian death attack by Bashar Assad's forces on the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, home to some 400,000 people, nine-miles east of the capital, Damascus. The death toll in Eastern Ghouta stands at 462 people, including a number of children, in the past week alone from heavy bombardment by Syrian forces.
The draft Resolution calls for a 30-day Syria-wide truce to go into effect 72-hours after passing with medical evacuations and humanitarian aid to start 48-hours at the initial 72-hours. It also calls for parties to avoid establishing military positions in civilian areas including schools and hospitals, the BBC-News reported. It also calls for the lifting of sieges of populated areas.
No Islamic State groups or those of the Nusra Front are covered by the proposed draft, yet Russia has insisted that other groups, it claims are cooperating with he mentioned groups, be also excluded from the truce.
The United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and France have all called for the Resolution be approved without delay. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also sent a joint letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to back the Resolution.
Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog told the BBC-News that getting aid to Eastern Ghouta, where conditions were described by the UN Secretary General as "hell on earth", was the main objective of the Resolution.
France's Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre said the UN's inability to help Syrian civilians would result in a devastating loss of credibility for the international body. "The Syrian tragedy," he warned, as reported by the BBC-News, "must not also become a graveyard for the United Nations."
France's warning that failure to act to end the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, could spell the end of the UN itself, is very relevant given the fact that the international organization has virtually remained impotent to ending the suffering of Syria's children for seven-long-years.
However, the UN could begin to make amends today by passing the Resolution rendering a ceasefire across Syria to end the slaughter of innocent children and civilians. It is humanity's responsibility.
February 23, 2018
Any and All Forms of State-Sponsored Violence on Children are Crimes against Humanity
Today, I had intended to solely address the growing devastating air strikes and barrel bombs by the Bashar al Assad regime upon Eastern Ghouta, Syria, that has killed 400 people, including many children, in the past five-days. But the current affair of the prevalence of guns wrecking destruction and anxiety upon America's young people, commands an immediate thought.
Whereas the President of the United States (US) and others of the gun lobby could have the audacity to consider arming teachers as a means to combating gun violence at schools, clearly underscores the deep problem the Republic faces with regards to the ease and availability of guns, thus more guns to solve too many guns is an utter preposterous idea that any modern democracy would ever want to consider. It is a ludicrous thought.
And sensing this should be more than sufficient to rally peaceful Americans to the advocacy of the youth survivors of mass gun shootings toward tighter gun controls across the land and not to increase business for the NRA by allowing teachers to be armed at class while being provided with cash incentives to do so.
In Syria, the suffering of children and other innocents continue as government forces continue the bombardment of Eastern Ghouta killing already hungry children with a high degree of impunity for it appears that under Russian support, Bashar al Assad will never face an international tribunal for crimes against humanity.
The actions of the Syrian government - the bombing of innocent children and civilians to a point where one mother, according to a BBC-News report, awaits the death of her son because "at least in heaven there's food", underscores the starvation and bombing of civilians in Eastern Ghouta - a clear war crime. The Damascus rebel-held enclave has been under siege from the Syrian army since 2013. Very little humanitarian aid has been allowed into the city of about 400,000 people.
But the United Nations (UN) which will vote on some measure of a truce for Syria today at 11:00 a.m., will remain impotent to change the scourge of Syria because Russia holds veto-power at the Security Council (SC) and the chances that Russia would do anything to impede the onslaught of Assad's forces upon innocents, are remote.
February 21, 2018
Hoping to Return Soon
I had dental surgery yesterday and the resulting pain and impact of drugs on my system, make it difficult to concentrate on writing My Blog.
Hence, I will take a brief break - hoping to return very soon. Thanks for reading and a good day to all.
February 20, 2018
More Deaths Recorded in the Seemingly Perpetual Suffering of Syria's Children
Syrian government forces of Bashar al Assad continue to bombard the sieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, where yesterday, another 20-children died in a group of 100 people from an escalation of the war. This recent onslaught horrifies the seemingly perpetual suffering of Syria's children as the conflict approaches its seventh-year, next month, with no end in sight.
Hence more children will die and will continue to suffer as the international community remains impotent to ending the ongoing blemish to humanity and modern civility. Some 20,000 children are among the hundred of thousands of people killed thus far in the conflict. An additional five-million people have fled Syria.
Eastern Ghouta, an agricultural area, located about nine-miles east of the Syrian capital, Damascus, has been under siege since 2013. It is a rebel-held enclave totally surrounded by Syrian government forces and territory.
Whatever geopolitical game is being played out in Syria is witnessing a fresh assault by Assad's forces as they continue to pound Eastern Ghouta and other Syrian towns this morning. The BBC-News just reported that Assad's forces have now also entered a border Kurdish-held enclave, thus risking a possible showdown with Turkish forces already operating against the Kurds in the said region.
Unfortunately, deaths of children and civilians stand to increase as the perpetual suffering of Syria's children continues in lieu of any real concerted efforts to end the conflict that will enter its seventh-year, next month.
May God have mercy on all the children. Amen!
May God have mercy on all the children. Amen!
February 19, 2018
The Inherent Right of All Children to a Safe Childhood
Whether in Syria, in Yemen, in Palestine, in Central African Republic, or in Newtown, Connecticut or in Parkland, Florida, or in any place where children live, they have an inherent right to a safe childhood.
To safeguard, to protect and to ensure the inherent right of all children to safety, all impediments to achieving this right should be removed. As conflict and war should end to accord childhoods back to the children of Yemen, of Syria and of many other places, in the United States (US), guns - the ease of access and availability thereof, pose the greatest threat to the inherent right of American children to life and liberty.
Too many young lives are cut short via gun violence in America. Last week's gun-shooting massacre of 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, underscore the ongoing attack against the inherent right of children to a childhood. That children can no longer feel safe in their educational institutions, clearly speaks of the gravity of the current attack upon the rights of the American people to life and liberty.
The ease of access and ready availability of guns across America have moved beyond a Second Amendment issue - of the right to bear arms, to become an infringement of the rights to life, liberty and happiness. The said United States Constitution that enabled the Second Amendment first demands as a prerequisite the duty to "insure domestic Tranquility...promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."
While the Second Amendment is honored, it should no longer be abused to legalize the arsenals of assault and automatic weapons. A limit of consideration in scope of types of weapons is reasonable. The continuance of the broad scope of types of arms deemed legal, contradicts the right of children to a childhood and to the general welfare of the Republic to life, liberty and happiness.
Therefore, common sense new gun control laws must be demanded forthwith as a means to securing and sustaining the full rights of America's children and adults and in honoring the Constitution of the Founding Fathers to life, liberty and happiness.
February 18, 2018
A "March for Our Lives" - Survivors of Gun Violence to March for Action on Washington
"...and a child shall lead them."
That youth is the vanguard of change in society could result in finally getting United States (US) lawmakers and the president to enact demand changes to gun control laws.
The youth survivors of last Wednesday's massacre of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, has announced a "March for Our Lives" event in Washington, DC, for March 24, to demand political action on gun control. The young survivors are adamant in their determination to make last Wednesday's mass shooting of their peers a turning point in the national gun debate.
Since a mass shooting at Columbine, Colorado, in 1999, more than 100 students and teachers have died in shootings at US schools. That demanded legislation to tighten the nation's gun laws have failed to materialize even in the wake of the slaughter of 22-first-graders at Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, is clearly indicative of the influence of the gun lobby upon lawmakers to protect the status-quo of gun ownership.
However, if the survivors of the Parkland massacre could have their way, then action would soon come to combat gun violence. At a rally the survivors held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, yesterday, they shouted "shame on you" to US lawmakers and the president for failing to act on new gun control laws.
Hence, they have planned "March for Our Lives" - a march on the nation's capital, Washington, DC, for March 24, 2018, to demand that children and their families "become a priority" to lawmakers, the BBC-News reported.
As one survivor observed: "We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around." Therefore, the youth of America must seize all opportunity to bring about change in lieu of impotence to act by those in positions to get things done.
February 17, 2018
Rising Gun Violence - Evidence of a Flawed Democracy
The full democracy status that the United States (US) has maintained and advocated for generations is under attack from various sources, including rising gun violence.
This week's shooting massacre - killing 17, at a high school in the state of Florida, underscores the descent American democracy is undergoing with no on-the-horizon solution to ending the prevalence of gun violence and associated deaths in the US. In lieu of Congressional action to reign in the easy access and availability to guns, including assault weapons, there's a real fear of the Republic declining even farther.
That three gun involved mass shootings have occurred in the last five-months alone, Las Vegas, Nevada, 59-killed; Sutherland, Texas, 27-killed; and then Parkland, Florida, indicate that democracy and its characteristics of cohesion, stability and peace appear are flawed.
Therefore, it becomes high time for the White House and Congress to regain the fullness of the American democracy. A good place to reboot could be the enactment of common sense gun control laws with a view to removing witnessed stark episodes of violence.
February 16, 2018
Another Mass Shooting Demands Responsible Gun Laws in America
Following Wednesday's mass shooting at a high school in the state of Florida, in the United States (US), Congressional Republicans and the White House should now yield to the demands of grieving parents and peers of the massacred children and enact legislation aimed to reducing the ease of availability of guns.
More responsible gun laws have long been the plea and rallying call of many Americans ever since two two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, gunned down 12 of their classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School, Columbine, Colorado, on April 20, 1999.
This week's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, reportedly by Nikolas Cruz, 19, in which 17 people, including 14 students, were killed, is yet another violent episode of the use of a gun to wreck destruction upon a community, a state and a nation, hence renewing an urgency for greater action by legislators and the White House to restrict the ease of availability to guns in the US.
Will the government act now on gun control legislation?
Congress failed to effectively restrict firearms following an earlier massacre of 22-first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2013, by Adam Lanza, who also killed his mother. Other mass shootings in Illinois, Texas, Florida and Nevada also failed to trigger meaningful gun legislation in their wakes.
The Republican led Congress and the White House should adhere to pressures from concerned Americans, forego strong support for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its powerful lobby and enact sensible gun laws to save Americans from a rising cult of violence, which is fueled by an easy availability of guns, including assault weapons.
February 15, 2018
A Rising Cult of Violence - Another School Massacre in America
It happened again yesterday in the United States (US) - a massacre of 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Broward County, Florida, the 18th school shooting in the US so far this year, and it is only mid-February.
My deepest condolences to the families and students.
This latest school shooting is clearly indicative of a rising cult of violence fueled by easy access and availability of guns in America. And according to the New York Times, with this new tragedy, three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history, have now come in the last five months.
Fifty-nine people including the gunman died in another massacre at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 01, 2017; another 27 died in a church shooting in Sutherland, Texas, on November 05, 2017. In 2016, 50 people including the gunman died in another massacre at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub.
The Parkland massacre resurrects sad memories of yet another school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, when 20 first-graders and six adults were killed. Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, as reported by the New York Times, there have been 273 school shootings across the US - 439 people have been shot, and a staggering 121 have been killed.
That the Parkland massacre suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, suspended from the school a year earlier, and in spite of warnings of his tendency to violence, was able to legally purchase the AR-15 gun used yesterday, underscores a far too easy access and availability to powerful automatic weapons in the US.
As politicians and policy makers debate mental health issues per gun ownership, the fact remains that too large an arsenal of powerful weapons remains available to the American public which is fueling a cult of violence. Common sense gun control laws must be enacted as a measure to combattling the early demise of so many souls.
February 14, 2018
Happy Valentine's Day World
To all men and women who are in love - giving love, receiving love and seeking love, Happy Valentine's Day 2018.
May your passions and desires yield pleasured satisfaction of lasting warm relations to the end of your years.
Ands on this day of love, I implore all of you to succumb to the peace of love and to forego violence and strife. Happy
February 13, 2018
Science Again Confirms Sea Level Rise - Climate Change is Unarguably Real
Science has revealed again that global sea levels are rising affirming that Climate Change is real and pose real threats to global coastal communities.
A study released yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as reported by CNN, confirmed the rise of the world's oceans brought to wrought by the impact of continuous emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing ice to melt in Greenland and in Antarctica.
The scientific study, led by Professor Steve Nerem, University of Colorado-Boulder, was conducted using satellite data dating back to 1993 to measure sea level rise rather than utilizing tide-gauge data because the satellite measurements allow for a more precise estimate of sea level on the open oceans.
Researchers found that sea level rise is accelerating. The study confirmed the rise of sea level of 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) in 25 years which fits into the range of 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) a year. However, the scientists found that the rise is not constant. Scientists found that continuous emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the Earth's atmosphere and oceans and melting its ice, causing the rate of sea level rise to increase.
"This acceleration," said Professor Nerem, "driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise by 2100 as compared to projections that assume a constant rate, to more than 60 centimeters ( about 2-feet) instead of about 30 centimeters (one-foot)," CNN reported.
Hence, with no reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases, this recent study affirms the Climate model used in the latest International Panel on Climate Change report which show sea level rise to be between 52 and 98 centimeters (between 20 and 38.6 inches) by 2100 - a troubling forecast for coastal communities across the globe.
Therefore, in order to save communities from becoming inundated with flooding, denying governments must accept the science of Climate Change and double all efforts to reducing greenhouse gases. And in lieu of inaction by the unbelievers, individual citizens should invoke their own means to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
February 12, 2018
To Reclaiming Humanity's Direction
Conflicts, threats of war, authoritarianism, terror, divisive acts and fake news are contributing to the detour of humanity's responsibility and respect for fellow humankind and the environment.
Left unchecked, these ills will contribute to a wider erosion of the human spirit, well being and needed development. Hence, the question posed for consideration on this Monday, is how will humankind reclaim its direction?
But before any healing can take place, humanity has to accept the existence of the problems of conflict, of threats of war, of authoritarianism, of terror, of divisiveness, of environmental health and fake news. To accept the presence of one problem and not the other, would inevitably delay the reclamation process.
Following admission of prevailing ills, humanity could then identify and prioritize solutions aimed at righting many wrongs. While conflict and terror are easily seen as priorities, humanity might find that these two major problems are non solvable unless the distractions of divisiveness and fake news, are first addressed.
Divisiveness and fake news appear to be requisites to authoritarianism, terror and conflict. These two unity-defeating faults are not new. They have been known to the human race for many centuries. However, what really appears as new, is the mass dissemination of lies and polarization ideals via mass and social media.
Therefore, in reclaiming humanity's direction to life, liberty, happiness, equality and the rule of law, irresponsible acts toward division and the spread of fake information, must first be conquered as a means toward achieving a conflict-free world community that respects all souls and protects the single-shared environment, Planet Earth.
February 11, 2018
The Perpetual Plight of Syria - An Escalation of Forces Battling in the War-torn Land
As if Bashar al Assad and his forces have not wrecked enough havoc upon the land and people of Syria, many others have now joined him in damning destruction in the Levant. The list of foreign nations fighting in Syria has increased, thus rendering Syria into a seeming state of perpetual conflict.
Israel has become the latest nation to launch attacks within Syria. The Jewish state joins Russia, an International Coalition force, the Kurds, Iran, Turkey and the Islamic State (IS) as active participants escalating a war that is showing no signs of ending. In addition to foreign nations, the Syrian people also have to contend with scores of Syrian factions contributing to the prolongation of the saga of suffering in an already war-torn country.
While each participating entity would offer some similar and many different reasons for executing war in Syria, the fact remains that the scars of war upon Syria will remain visible for a very long time to come. And what of the secondary effects?
As is the case of many troubled wars, too many victims in the Syrian conflict will not be soldiers, but will be the innocent - the children, the women, the elderly and economically-challenged.
The continuation and escalation of the Syrian war, just like the conflict in Yemen, are both tragedies of humanity that underscore the failing of international organizations and once influential and respected nations, to halt prolonged suffering.
February 10, 2018
Unity of the Koreas - a Supportive Action Whether Sincere of a Ploy
I am certainly not Korean, neither is my wife - she is Chinese and both of us have never visited either of the Koreas. Yet, last night, watching the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics 2018, from Pyeonchang, South Korea, aired on NBC Network, we were emotionally brought to tears on seeing both Koreas march together under one unified flag - white with an a blue-insignia of the Korean peninsula.
"In spite of everything, this is good," my wife remarked under a crackling voice as she fought to restrain her tears unaware of my watery eyes sitting next to her in our dimly lit bedroom. The defeat of my chauvinism was revealed as I faced her to concur in a parched-throat tone: "Just beautiful, the people, the brothers, the sisters - given a chance, they can get along."
We hoped the world witnessed and felt the same emotions as we did because peace and unity appear to beam amongst people given the opportunity to mingle and to communicate.
And while some people might retain a pessimistic and suspicious intent per North Korea's actions as a mere political ploy, I, nonetheless, venture to say that if a ploy, or indeed sincere, the significance and impact of witnessing the Koreas together, if only for that one moment, affirms the possibility of sustaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
Moreover, I offer it as a speculation that given a chance to hash out their differences and issues among themselves, then it is possible that Korean similarities and mutual intent to life and happiness, could defeat all their imported and idealistic differences.
So, today, I am glad that both South Korea and North Korea reunified briefly under the Olympic spirit and I hope that that witnessed togetherness of yesterday would transcend the games - to provide a cooling of tensions on the Korean peninsula, with a view to providing greater cooperation, communication, respect and stability to starkly different nations that share a common relation of family.
February 09, 2018
Winter Olympics 2018 - Hope to Peace on the Korean Peninsula
History will bear witness as to whether or not it is possible that games - sports, can unite the people of the world. And if there is any present truth to this claim of unity, then this morning's marching of North and South Korea, together - under one-flag, at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics 2018, in Pyeonchang, South Korea, does offer hope to the coexistence of humanity in the long run and to an immediate, if only temporary, peace on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea and South Korea - two brothers, once one-nation, but split by war over 60-years-ago, have diverged into separate paths, ideologies and alliances over the years. The North has retained a brutal and reclusive dictatorship, while the democratic South has flourished economically and politically from its alliance with the west.
North Korea's recent accelerated ambition for greater nuclear-arms capability has placed it at odds with western nations, including the United States (US), which has responded in kind to threats from the leader of North Korea. Tensions have escalated almost to a point of imminent war. But with the now open 2018 Winter Olympic games, both North and South Korea have found a medium to better relations amongst themselves and overcoming months of silence between two brothers.
The North's acceptance to join the games, to march with South Korea under one flag at the opening ceremony and to unite as a single team in ice-hockey, are all indicative that the relatives want better relations with each other, especially with a larger view to allowing future much desired family reunions of citizens between the two nations.
So as the Winter Olympics play on in the frigid venues in Pyeonchang, the games offer much more than just sporting competition, but moreso a chance for peace and for greater family unification between the Koreas that could result in the North not threatening and testing for war, but accepting the norms of civil society and international law.
February 08, 2018
Letter to All Children Victimized and Displaced by Conflicts
I offer you my prayers that the Almighty God may show you mercy and grant you relief from your suffering. I offer my sincere apologies for the fact that humanity has remained impotent in allowing these long episodes of violence and atrocities upon you.
That you have had to endure what no normal seasoned-adult would ever have to endure - far less a child, underscores the damning testament of the severe gravity of the sum of your experiences and your victimizations brought to wrought through conflict and war.
Specifically, I wish to highlight you, the children of Syria, of Yemen, of Afghanistan and of the Rohingya people. Your plight represents a gross failing of humanity against a backdrop of wealthy and authoritarian leaders perpetrating a larger arms race, bragging about the size of their weapons and ghastly seeking showcases to display more of their arsenals.
In the meantime, bombs and chlorine gas continue to rain upon many of you, killing and maiming as your displaced and fleeing peers die upon the seas in a fruitless search for solace, while others, who have fled, meet more suffering in refugee camps as nations debate whether or not to extend full hospitality to the hundreds of thousands in need of humanitarian assistance.
I encourage you to keep the faith that these man-made atrocities against you will end one day. Your right to a childhood must be restored. Thus, I implore upon you to insist that your fathers and your uncles fight for freedom, opportunity and the rule of law in your homelands.
Many things have changed and are rapidly changing in the outside world. Once guaranteed places of sanctuary are now fast becoming no-entry nations. Therefore, your land, being your land, must be claimed by your parents and relatives. Your adult folks must stand up and claim your birthright to freedom, equality, opportunity and the rule of law on your behalf. They must unify to accomplish this feat toward your deliverance from suffering.
I continue to stand with you in your endeavor for comfort and happiness. Amen!
February 07, 2018
Deep Community Engagement - a Requisite to Nation Stability
Floundering, fractured and failed governments exist because they have all neglected to carryout the necessary responsibility of engaging their communities into their governance.
And more governments will continue to struggle and become fractured for failing to perform the basic task of encouraging, promoting and implementing policies toward the full participation of the people into their governance.
The notion that the people in electing their governments give up full control of all management of their lives to a hand full of representative politicians, is a fallacy - an old flaw inherited from the bygone eras of absolute monarchs, when all faith and allegiance to the Crown, was demanded and readily given for lack of alternatives.
However, in these dynamic days of the twenty-first century, all things have changed. People demand respect, equality and opportunity. Politicians who flirt with the fears of the people to get elected, often run into quick trouble as a result of executing their own agendas ahead of those of the people. Politicians, all too often, have become the enactors of special interests instead of servants of all the people. When consultations with the people fail, then politicians and governments fail, unfortunately after wrecking major havoc that makes repairs difficult, costly and lengthy.
But in order to sustain effective government, elected officials and leaders must continue to engage all their communities into their governance. Constituent offices of elected politicians must function. Town hall meetings must be held prior to major governmental action in order to attain updates from the people. The elderly, the youth and all demographics of society must be given an open ear.
When deep community engagement occurs, stable, peaceful and wealthy nations blossom.
Congratulations to Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German people on the reaching of an agreement to form a new government.
Congratulations to Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, in Hong Kong for having prison sentences against them thrown out.
Thoughts and prayers for the people of Taiwan and the victims of yesterday's 6.4 magnitude earthquake.
February 06, 2018
Crisis in the Maldives
Autocracy has emerged and the rule of law has been suspended in the vacation hot spot of the Maldives - the 1,192-island and 26-atoll vacation mecca, on the Arabian Sea, in the Indian Ocean, and not in the Pacific Ocean as was cited on this Blog recently.
The Chief Justice of the nation's Supreme Court along with another judge have been detained by the government of President Abdulla Yameen, who has refused an order by the court to release political dissidents from jail.
President Yameen has been embroiled in corruption and human rights issues. But current matters came to a broil last Friday, when the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the 2015 conviction and 13-year sentence of former President Mohamed Nasheed. In the same ruling, the court ordered the release of opposition members and political dissidents in the Maldives.
Yet, in clear defiance of the court and expressive of his assumed autocratic role, President Yameen, over the weekend, ordered his security forces not to release the prisoners, even though the country's police commissioner attempted to abide by the court order, but he was fired instead.
Yesterday, President Yameen declared a state of emergency and the army has been ordered to resist any attempt to impeach or to remove the president. Instead, Yameen's forces have detained the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court along with another judge.
According to the BBC-News, Yameen in a televised address to the island-group nation that lies southwest of both India and Sri Lanka, alleged that judges were plotting a coup against him. "I had to declare a national emergency because there was no other way to investigate these judges," he claimed.
Exiled former president Nasheed, now residing in Sri Lanka, has asked India to help release political prisoners on the Maldives and the United States (US) to curb the nation's leaders' financial transaction.
Maldives, with a 392,709 population, gained independence from the United Kingdom (UK) in 1965. Nasheed resigned the presidency back in 2012 following protest for reforms and following the arrest of a judge. Since Yameen gained power, rights issues and corruption have become major concerns. After the international community sounded the alarm over rights issues, Yameen withdrew the Maldives from the Commonwealth of nations.
Now the constitutional crisis with Yameen acting in a autocratic role threatens the nation's vital tourist industry as assistance is sought from India and the US to return the popular vacation destination to the rule of law.
February 05, 2018
Equality, Opportunity and the Rule of Law - Tenets Toward National Reconciliation
Wherever humans live and share a common land, from the indigenous peoples, to naturalized peoples, to immigrants, to refugees and to the naturally-born peoples of the world, the tenets of equality, of opportunity and of the rule of law, remain requisites to sustaining a peaceful national environment and to all hopes of national reconciliation in polarized, fractured and failed societies.
All political attempts to restrict the natural rights of men and women and to deny paths to citizenship, liberty, opportunity and happiness, will continue to yield deeper societal divisions, conflicts and the exercises of the cult of violence.
Political turmoil and social strife are detrimental to nation building and development. On the other hand, promoted social cohesion on the premise that all people are equal with unrestricted opportunity to growth and development within a system of the rule of law, is synonymous to peace, stability and the well being of any community.
Therefore, those entrusted by the people to lead should come to the fore to promote social and national togetherness and to condemn past and prevailing policies and tendencies aimed at dividing nations of peoples. With the acceptance of quality, opportunity and rule of law, all communities would benefit and enjoy national reconciliation.
February 04, 2018
Agitations Continue to Grow in 2018 - Maldives, Kenya, Corsica and Greece Join the List
In Greece, thousands of Greeks demonstrated in Athens today in opposition to the government's proposal to resolve a matter over the name of neighboring Macedonia, which shares its name with the northern Greek region of the same name, to which the Greeks object.
The Macedonia naming protest in Greece joins a widening list of social and political agitations and uprisings already seen, occurring or ripe in 2018. Greece has always made claim to the name Macedonia, a northern region and a part of Greek history for thousands of years.
In 1991, the country of Macedonia, not associated with Greece, gained independence from Yugoslavia and officially became the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - the name used in international organizations, like the United Nations (UN).
But many Greeks object to the inclusion of the word Macedonia being used in the name of the country, arguing it implies a territorial claim on Greece's northern Macedonia region. However, since the Greek government has proposed accepting the neighboring country's use of the word Macedonia, on the condition there is a clear differential from the Greek region, many Greeks still object, thus today's demonstrations in Athens.
In Corsica, the French territory island in the Mediterranean Sea, southeast of France and southwest of Italy, protesters turned out in thousands on Saturday in advance of Tuesday's visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, to demand, not independence from France, but a greater financial devolution from France along with recognition for the Corsican language.
While Corsican nationalists have heeded a 2014 ceasefire in their struggles with France, Saturday's protest, according to a BBC-News report, was a warning that Paris would be "playing with fire" if it did not engage with Corsica's issues.
In Kenya, freedom of speech issues continue to question the stability of the African nation, as President Uhuru Kenyatta, has ordered private television stations closed because they dared attempted to cover an inauguration of the opposition leader there, following a controversial election last November that returned Kenyatta to the presidency, but with dogged issues over the integrity of the election.
And in Maldives, the pristine-beach tourist-getaway, the embattled government has ordered its security forces to resist any action by the nation's Supreme Court and not to arrest or to impeach President Abdulla Yameen. The Supreme Court on Friday declared as unconstitutional the 2015 conviction and 13-year-jail sentence of former President Mohamed Nasheed on anti-terror charges, a sentence the international community has viewed as political motivated against the first democratically elected leader of the Pacific Ocean paradise. The court also ordered the release from detention of nine-opposition members of parliament, thus giving the opposition a majority in parliament.
However, in an attempt to withstand the actions of the judiciary and to prevent the opposition from probably impeaching him, Yameen has moved to suspend parliament, while his security forces detained at the airport two opposition members of parliament who were returning home from overseas earlier today.
Clearly, a constitutional crisis have emerged in Maldives casting it onto a widening list of nations facing social and political troubles in 2018.
February 03, 2018
In Matters of Sovereignty and National Security Investigating Evidence Trumps Evidence Used to Start a Probe
In the Republic, matters of sovereignty and national security have a special classification - they are placed as top priorities because any infractions or threats against them would affect the well being of the Republic.
Therefore, matters involving sovereignty and national security should be held as special concerns. They have to be treated specially, as merited and within reason, as being different than other matters of criminal procedure.
Hence, while it might remain a general precedent during the course of normal criminal procedure to judge that if the warrant is bad, then the discovered evidence is bad, this procedure could not be reasonably allowed in matters involving sovereignty and national security.
In matters of sovereignty and national security, discovery evidence during an investigation must outweigh any evidence submitted to launch such a probe or to obtain a warrant. The gravity and likelihood of harm to the Republic in such matters mandate special treatment.
Moreover, if investigative involving matters of sovereignty and national security were not granted special classification and broadness of scope, then, intelligence agencies would be rendered impotent in all efforts to gathering evidence and prosecuting perpetrators toward the full protection of the Republic.
Furthermore, any efforts to hinder investigations into the well being of the Republic must be construed as obstruction of justice.
February 02, 2018
Scope of Evidence Needed to Investigate Matters of National Security
Explicitly, the safeguards of sovereignty, national security and the integrity of democracy within the Republic supersede all matters. Therefore, all matters that pose threats to the safety as well as to the untainted and independent functioning of the Republic, whether present or pending, demand full scrutiny by the appropriate security agency.
Moreover, in functioning to safeguard the Republic from any influence that could hinder the Republic's independence and integrity, a mere rumor ought to be sufficient to merit an investigation by the charged security agency. An Online Blog, a Facebook post, a Twitter tweet, a dossier or any other source of evidence, are more than sufficient to trigger an investigation by a security agency with a view to protecting the integrity of the Republic.
Hence, with regards to the much talked about "Nunes Memo" that purportedly argues that evidence used by the FBI to launch an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election, was not corroborated or supported, thus alleging that the investigation is biased, must therefore, be flawed.
It is flawed because the scope of evidence needed to launch an investigation into matters of national security, sovereignty and the integrity of the United States (US), should never be narrow. The scope must be broad. It must be wide because such broadness of scope of evidence continues to allow security agencies to monitor threats and to successfully foul threats. Threats to the national security of the US have been fouled before after investigations were initiated by broad uncorroborated evidence.
February 01, 2018
Irreconcilability - Chances to a New Genesis
An all too common cause given for many divorces between couples, along with the usual infidelity, money issues and lack of intimacy, is irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilability is the totaling of non compromising standings against the backdrop of a non communicative environment.
In the larger schemes of society, irreconcilability has fueled civil wars, wider conflicts and world wars. Yet, though upon its face, irreconcilability might appear as a bad thing, it still harbors an opportunity of hope to a new genesis in lieu of a total collapse for governments.
All great revolutions from the French, to the American, and many others in between, have been forged out of irreconcilability.
While I will not expand upon any possible hopes for failed marriages brought to wrought through irreconcilability because it is not my specialty, nor my forte to damper into the affairs of the heart, nonetheless, today's fractured and fracturing governments could all benefit from their states of irreconcilability. The existence of a chance to a new genesis is more than sufficient reason to raise the hope of diverging peoples.
Like many things political, social or economic, the ways and means to affecting a new genesis is never cut and dry, or by any means an easy feat. However, a prerequisite to any new genesis is the clearly defined identity of the point of irreconcilability within a nation state.
Has Syria reached this point? Yes, for many years now. Has Yemen reached this point? Yes, for many months now. Have some western democracies reached this point? No, but some, following their present trajectories, could arrive at their points of irreconcilability way sooner than later.
But there should be no great fear nor alarm that some nations could reach their points of irreconcilability soon, for such might be a part of the natural evolution and development of the human species. [A consideration offered for discussion on this, the first day of February, 2018.]
January 31, 2018
Hidden Heroes to the Endurance of the Republic
Outside of the Legislative, Judicial and Executive arms of government and the normal business world, there exist a hidden army of unsung heroes who tirelessly contribute everyday to the endurance of the American Republic.
These heroes, though wide and varied, include the many charities and community groups that provide a vital safety net to America's poor, those in need of a leg-up and to those families experiencing economic transition. I speak specifically of Martha's Table, So Others Might Eat (SOME) and Bread for the City, among others here in Washington, DC., and countless others across the United States (US).
These groups through various funding sources have been able to extend to many families a safety net not protected by government.
While the stellar work of Martha's Table and SOME are known, Bread for the City, which up until earlier today, was unknown to me, represents the non rewarded heroes, who every week, contribute to the stabilization of many families.
At a weekly breakfast which I attend with a number of academics and intelligence folks here in Washington, DC, I had the pleasure this morning of reacquainting myself with a former school-parent associate, Paul R. Taskier, who is now President and Chairman of the Board at Bread for the City. We have had casual conversations before, but to underscore the humility of such unsung heroes, he never mentioned his community work of providing a safety net to thousands of families each week.
Bread for the City provides food, clothing, counseling, medical and dental care along with a long list of other services to needy families in the Nation's Capital. I was moved by Paul Taskier's contributions to our society enough to write about his organization, with the renewed realization that it is not all that is done within government that protects the Republic, but it is the contribution of the people - the other centered people, which goes farthest in ensuring the endurance of the American Republic.
January 30, 2018
The Rape of a Baby in India - Decadence of a Fractured Society
The BBC-News reports this morning that there is an outcry in India after an-eight-month-old baby was raped by her 28-year-old cousin.
An outcry is too soft a reaction to such a barbaric inhumane offense. The women and girls of India should be up in arms and fuming mad to demand an immediate change to a culture, which has somehow allowed too many women and girls to be raped by sex-deprived degenerates who often are not prosecuted or too leniently punished for such heinous acts against civility.
The rape of this innocent baby - too young to walk or to talk or to defend herself, happened in the Indian capital, of Delhi, on Sunday, but only came to light on Monday, after local media reported the gross sin against humanity, the BBC-News reported. Authorities have since arrested her cousin for the offense, but one wonders of other unreported crimes against girls and women in India, which continues to debate the prevalence of sexual violence in a caste system that pits Indians to a particular class from birth to death.
The Delhi Commissioner for Women, Swati Maliwal, said the innocent victim had to undergo a three-hour operation and that her cries could be heard throughout the hospital. The Commission for Women chief described the baby's injuries as "horrific".
Rapes occur too often in India, highlighted by the 2012 fatal gang rape of a female student on a bus. Girls have been snatched from bed and raped by depraved men. An 11-month old baby was once kidnapped by a neighbor while she slept next to her mother and then raped for two-hours. In 2015, according to the BBC-News, a three-month-old was kidnapped and assaulted in a southern Indian city.
Some 19,765 cases of child rape were registered in India in 2016, a stark increase over the already alarming 10,854 cases registered in 2015.
Clearly, there is a decadence of Indian society that contributes to these sickening crimes against babies, girls and women. The fractured system in India has witnessed 240 million girls marrying before age-18, while 53 percent of children participating in a government study, have reported some form of sexual abuse and that 50 percent of abusers are known to the child or are persons in trust and caregivers.
India's granting of full equality and of full respect to all women remains a starting point to mending that fractured society. We pray for the good welfare and rehabilitation of all innocent victims.
January 29, 2018
Influenza Outbreak in the United States 2018
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported a marked increase in the number of Americans visiting doctors with flu-like symptoms - the highest level of activity for the flu since the 'swine flu" - H1N1, pandemic of 2009, which killed 203,000 people worldwide.
Hospitalizations in a one-week-period soared to 12,000, surpassing a previous week total by 3, ooo and the numbers appear to be surpassing the 2014-15 flu season, when 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 were hospitalized and 56,000 died, including 148 pediatric deaths.
Outbreaks of this years influenza have been reported all over the United States (US), except in the state of Hawaii. This year's flu strain - H3N2, or the "Hong Kong flu", first emerged in 1968. Thirty-seven pediatric deaths have been attributed to the virus so far this year and the season is far from being over.
Schools have been closed in some states due to the flu and some hospitals are dissuading casual visitations of the hospitalized for fear of wider contamination. Children, mothers and young adults have died in this flu outbreak. While the elderly, those over 65, remain most susceptible to the flu, infants, who normally would make-up the next more affected group, have been replaced by "Baby Boomers", those 50-64, as the second most affected group of this year's flu.
More alarming, however, is that medical authorities are beginning to recognize a second strain of the flu in this current season.
A flu shot, an inoculation, offers some protection from the illness, yet the rudiments of washing hands and other basic hygiene procedures, do offer additional protections from contracting the current virus.
January 28, 2018
In the Future...
In the future, children should not be laden with the debt of stop-gap fiscal policies of present lawmakers, neither should future generations be forced to inherit the fractured social and political systems that are being broken and marred today.
In the future, a more realistic and immediate solution should be accorded to the people toward the removal of divisive leaders. Also, in the future, all allegations of sexual harassment against any candidate for public office should be settled before a candidate could seek a role to lead the people.
In the future, full protection of the environment must become a prerequisite of all candidates for public office.
In the future, all persons born on Planet Earth must be granted citizenship of their birth lands and those who immigrate to new lands should be given full protection and opportunity as all the people of that land.
And in the the future, freedom, equality and the pursuit of happiness should reign from pole to pole in serenity, free of conflict, war and famine. [A Sunday's Hope.]
January 27, 2018
Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility
That history may never repeat itself nor the horrors suffered, humanity should remember and educate toward our shared responsibility for a life void of evil.
The following is a republication, with some edits, of My Blog from a year-ago, done purposely for it remains relevant now, tomorrow, next year and in all the coming years:
Today is the International Day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. This year's theme: Educating for a Better Future, is apt to ensuring that the atrocities of the past not happen again.
Yet, as cited in a statement marking today's remembrance by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivor, Primo Levi has warned: "It happened, therefore it can happen again."
Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in observing the memory of the Holocaust said: " This painful day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust forces us to contemplate the horrors to which bigotry, racism and discrimination ultimately lead."
He added:"...we must recognize that only if we regard each other as fully equal in dignity and rights will we be able to come together to overcome the many challenges facing humanity."
Seventy-two-years-ago, the dreaded Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated. Since then, the world has stood up to prevent similar horrors and the international community must continue to resist the ambitions of a few men to plunge 2018 and the coming years back into the dark ages of human rights abuses and atrocities.
Remembrance, education and responsibility must continue to figure highly in order to impede any recurrence of past abuses toward humanity.
January 26, 2018
"Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World"
This year's theme at the ongoing World Economic Forum, at Davos, Switzerland, is: "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World".
If something is shared, then it can never be unilateral, thus a multilateral approach to solving problems must be utilized in order to reach a common future. Therefore, unilateralism and isolationism cannot be utilized by any partner working to ensure a shared future. Globalization is paramount.
In a stoic and seemingly somber address at Davos, today, United States (US) President Donald Trump, while continuing to plug his "America First" motto, appeared briefly to admit the necessity of multilateralism to solve the world's problems. He admitted that "America First" does not mean America "alone".
Yet, instead of emphasizing the need for continued world cooperation to solving humanity's problems, Trump, touting the record-breaking climb of the American stock market, suggested: "...when America grows, so does the world".
Really? Should the world await the economic rise of the rural coal miner or gun seller before it gains its prosperity? Should the world await the better treatment of the poor, minorities, refugees and immigrants in America, before they ameliorate the conditions of their people? Is American prosperity a prerequisite to the rise of China or to the leaps of the European Union (EU)?
Modern human development, the use of technology and the exploration of new innovations in all sectors of society to enhance the life of humanity, have become reality via the cooperative multilateral efforts of nations and their people.
Thus, ensuring a secure and prosperous shared future could only come through multilateral efforts as humanity seek life, liberty and happiness in a protected environment.
January 25, 2018
Isolationism or Multilateralism - Trump's Way Versus the European Commitment
European Union (EU) leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have affirmed their commitment to multilateralism and not to isolationism as a means to greater world prosperity and to solving the problems of the world.
Unlike Donald Trump's evolving isolationist policies, France's Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Angela Merkel and Italy's Paolo Gentiloni, who addressed the Davos meeting, yesterday, all affirmed Europe's commitment to deeper European integration and to multilateralism through global commerce and not unilateralism, as an approach to prosperity and as the solution to widening economic inequality, terrorism and the impacts of Climate Change.
French President Macron declared: "If we want to avoid this fragmentation of the world, we need a stronger Europe, it's absolutely key..." He placed France at the center of a mission to revamp global capitalism while spreading the benefits more equitably, forcing a mode of commerce centered on innovation, but having protections for workers set back by change, the New York Times reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that multilateralism was under threat and that protectionism was the answer to the world's problems. She affirmed: "Germany wishes to be a country that lends its contribution in the future to solve the problems of the world together, we think that shutting ourselves off and isolating ourselves will not lead us into a good future," CNBC reported.
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy reiterated to the world's wealthy and powerful gathered in the Swiss Alps of a commitment to European integration and to defend international cooperation. Clearly, their views conflict with the isolationist stance of United States (US) President Donald Trump, whose policies follow a unilateral path. He will address the gathering tomorrow.
January 24, 2018
...after the Shutdown of the United States Government
The United States (US) Federal Government reopened on Tuesday after a brief shutdown from the lack of funding brought to wrought by a budget impasse between Congressional Republicans and Democrats.
While the White House, Republicans and Democrats have blamed each other for the shutdown, it remains a fact that a deeply partisan divide hovers over Washington, DC, which, if left unchecked, will continue to plague the traditional daily operations of the Federal government and contribute to the general insecurity of the Republic.
Though the parties to the negotiations to fund the government have pledged to work together to produce a long term budget for the nation by February 8, the reliance on continued resolutions to keep the government funded, is certainly not a good fiscal tool. A long term spending bill has to be adopted that among other things would deliver a long term budget to the Department of Defense in order to insure the preservation of national security and good morale among troops who work tirelessly to protect the security of the Republic.
With regards to the brief shutdown, Democrats erred on insisting that a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deal be included in the budget negotiations. Republicans and the White House also erred in adopting the staunch right wing attitude that the status and the protection of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are not important enough to merit immediate action.
Thus, after the shut down, Congress should keep the pledge to work together across party lines to expedite the status and protection of Dreamers. Congress should also formulate a long term spending bill instead of relying on stop-gap funding deals for the operations of the US government.
January 23, 2018
High Time to Form a "New Grand Coalition" Government in Germany
Amid the expressed isolationist policy and world-upsetting rantings of United States (US) President Donald Trump, the global community has been missing a sound German input ever since an inclusive election, last September, prevented Chancellor Angela Merkel from forming a new government and to assuming her position as a global leader as she has clearly demonstrated in recent years.
Although Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), won the most positions, 246, in the 709-seat Bundestag (German Parliament), they failed to gain a majority. Martin Schulz's Social Democratic Party (SPD) - Merkel's coalition partner in the previous government, won 153 seats, the far right party, Alternative for Germany (AfG) won 94 seats, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) won 80 and the Greens won 67 seats.
Coalition talks between the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens failed to form a new government, but the SPD, which had ruled out forming another government with Merkel, had a change of heart. And on Sunday, the SPD met and voted to enter coalition negotiations with the CDU/CSU after they both agreed on a blueprint for formal talks earlier this month, the BBC-News reported.
Chancellor Merkel's leadership in Germany has been rational and steady but wrought by an unprecedented immigration crisis in 2015 that witnessed more than 600,000 asylum seekers entering Germany after fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As Merkel offered German humanitarian kindness to hundreds of thousands of refugees, far right parties within Germany, egged on by other anti-immigration folks in Europe, like Viktor Orban, of Hungary, criticized the responsibility Europe was obliged to show the displaced people. Thus, Merkel's CDU/CSU lost 65 seats in the September vote and the SPD lost 40 seats, while the far right AfG gained 94 seats.
However, the nation destabilizing 600,000 asylum seekers who entered Germany in 2015, decreased to 280,000 in 2016. The CDU/CSU-SPD likely coalition has agreed to limit asylum seekers to 200,000 annually and to possibly cap at 1,000-a-month the number of migrants allowed to join relatives living in Germany.
Both Merkel and Schulz after Sunday's agreement expressed optimism to a new "Grand Coalition" and of a "fresh start" for Germany as they stressed the need to ensure the nation's "social cohesion" amid tensions brought on by the 2015 immigration crisis.
Therefore, a new government will form in Germany soon that offers the potential to returning Angela Merkel to the post of providing rational woman world leadership.
January 22, 2018
Honduras and the Democratic Republic of Congo - Joining the List of 2018 Uprisings
First Iran, then Tunisia, now Honduras, Central America and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, have joined the expanding list of nations facing social upheaval and political instability in 2018.
The continuing protests in Honduras that flared again last weekend, stemmed from a disputed presidential election there last November, when incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez, was declared winner in a vote opposition leader Salvador
Nasralla, and his supporters, have decried as tainted.
Nasralla was leading in the vote count until his lead was suddenly surpassed by Hernandez. The vote was supervised and counted by an election tribunal, appointed by the Honduras congress, which in controlled by the president's National Party.
A 60-year-old man was killed on Saturday when police fired into a road block of protesters, bringing the number of deaths to 14 that have been killed since protests started, Amnesty International recorded and as reported by the BBC-News. Hernandez, who has ruled the volatile and crime-ridden Honduras since 2013, ran for a second-term in November after his supreme court lifted a ban on re-election for presidents.
Across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Catholic Church there has called for large, but peaceful demonstrations to protest the extended stay in office of President Joseph Kabila, who has ran DRC since 2001. He was to leave office in 2016. He did not. His authorities extended his rule to the end of 2017, claiming they were not in a position to hold new elections, yet 2017 has passed and still remains in office. Kabila's authorities have again claimed they wouldn't be in a position to hold elections until December, 2018.
Thus, the Catholic Church has encouraged peaceful protests urging a return to the democratic process, but Kabila's government have denied permits for marches. Yet, yesterday, after Sunday Mass, thousands of believers marched in the streets, where they were met by heavy security forces. A number of people were injured and deaths have reached some seven since protests started in December against Kabila and his cling to power. United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers have been deployed to the capital, Kinshasa, to monitor developments.
From the Americas to the Middle East and to Africa, many people have entered 2018 with a resolve to march, to protest and to demand better governance and for the rule of law. And it is still only January.
January 21, 2018
Resistance to Trump Continues - the Women's March 2018
Tens of thousands of women, men and children rallied and marched yesterday in Washington, DC, in New York City, New York, in Los Angeles, California and in other cities across the United States (US), in the 2018 Women's March, on the one-year-anniversary of Donald Trump's presidency, in demonstration of a very broad resistance to Trump's polarizing policies.
Thousands of marchers, my family included, turned out at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, as we also did last year, to reaffirm resistance to Trump's divisive policies, to highlight the significance of women in society, to decry sexual harassment and to highlight the need for greater voter registration and involvement in 2018.
Similar marches were held in other cities including, Palm Beach, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Richmond, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado; Raleigh, North Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut, with a large rally planned for today in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Yesterday's Women's March was the second annual event. The first event taking place last January on the day after Donald Trump's inauguration. As was the case in 2017, the 2018 march also spanned the globe with women rallies reported in Ottawa, Canada and in Rome, Italy, with planned events today in Paris, France and in London, United Kingdom.
Explicitly, women across the globe have joined in unison to denounce divisiveness and to end the practice of gender inequality and sexual harassment.
January 20, 2018
Federal Government Shuts Down in Washington, DC - One year of Trump
The United States (US) Senate failed to reach an agreement on funding the government at midnight last night, thus the closure of non essential arms of the Federal Government.
But the impasse resulting in the failure to fund the government was not just borne overnight, it is a culmination of a year of an unyielding president, whose actions and rantings continue to split the nation creating a divisive atmosphere from halls of government to small town USA.
While some Republicans have attempted to place the blame for the closure of the government upon Democrats, the reality remains that all blame and responsibility for the closure must rest with the president. Donald Trump owns this latest shut down of the Federal Government. Short three or four-week extensions of funding for the Federal Government are antiquated. There must be a long-term address to funding the government and not short gap fixes.
Democratic insistence that immediate action be paid to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a necessary humanitarian policy that stands at the heart of the American Republic and therefore it requires immediate action as part of the functioning of the US government.
Now, the US Congress, both Republicans and Democrats must wrestle to fix a broken system outside of any distractions from the White House. The American people deserve a long-term fix to government funding like hundreds of thousands of deserve access to the American Dream.
January 19, 2018
The First Water War - a Real Threat
According to Wikipedia, per water conflicts, the United Nations (UN) recognizes that water disputes result from opposing interests of water users, public or private, but the international body admits that a "wide range of water conflicts appear throughout history, though rarely are traditional wars waged over water alone."
However, this long held supposition could change very soon barring any diplomatic agreement or compromise between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over water rights on the Horn of Africa. Therefore, a real threat of a hot war over water looms between these North African states.
Some 11 states are watered by the world's longest river, the Nile. Ethiopia has completed 60 percent of construction of Africa's largest dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, spanning the Nile's biggest tributary, the Blue Nile. The $5 billion hydro-electric project is set to propel Ethiopia as a major supplier of power in the region on completion of the 6,000 megawatts system.
But Egypt, which historically has made a major claim to the waters of the Nile, has not been happy with the project fearing it would reduce water supplies to Cairo. Rumors that Egypt would bomb the project by aircraft have swirled for a couple of years. Though Egypt has signed onto a feasibility study to look into any disruption or reduction of its precious water supply from the Nile, its objection to the project remains very high. Most of Egypt's water from the Nile originates in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia has vowed to complete the project at all costs. Yet, like Egypt, Sudan has also claims exclusive rights to the use of Nile water, thus broadening the likelihood of a water conflict. The Nile basin covers 11 countries, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.
January 18, 2018
Spain's Continuing Bad Precedence to European Stability
With regards to each action it has taken against the expressed sovereignty of Catalonia, Spain's bad precedent casts a shadow of uncertainty over the future general stability of Europe.
Beginning with its opposition to the democratic process of a referendum by the autonomous Catalonia that realized into the beatings of Catalans attempting to exercise their democratic rights to vote in the last Autumn referendum, Spain has, in essence, condemned a non-violent democratic process.
As if the beatings of Catalans were not enough, Spain then moved to strip the region of its autonomy, to arrest and to charge Catalan leaders, with among other things, sedition, thus forcing Catalan's President Carles Puigdemont and four other leaders into exile in Belgium, over fears they would not receive a fair trial before a Madrid court. While some Catalan leaders have been released on bail, others still remain jailed in Madrid for their roles in conducting a democratic referendum.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy thought that Catalonia would purge itself of any sovereign ambitions via new elections he called for the region. Pro-Independence candidates won big in the vote in a total rebuff of Rajoy's desires.
Then earlier this week, the new Catalan Parliament elected pro-independence member Roger Torrent as its new Speaker, paving the way for pro-independence parties to control the legislature of the autonomous region.
Yet, in setting another bad precedent, as reported by the BBC-News, Rajoy has declared that Catalonia's autonomous powers will not be restored if the regional parliament permits Puigdemont to lead the government from exile.
Rajoy has clearly sent a message to any future sovereign movements in Europe that any democratic processes to establishing the will of the people will not be accepted and that any such democratic processes would be a crime. Thus, Rajoy appears to leave open violent rebellion as the only means to gaining the expressed wants of the people. A very bad precedent to set that puts the future stability of Europe at risk.
However, Spain could easily correct its wrongs by rescinding all charges of Catalonia's leaders and by setting up a commission to look into the conditions of the region that forced Catalans to sovereignty. In good faith, Rajoy should pledge to work with Catalans in order to ameliorate their grievances with a view to sustaining Spanish unity as a whole.
January 17, 2018
An Immigration Tragedy - the Separation of Jorge Garcia's Family
Immigration authorities in the United States (US), on Monday, coincidentally, on the Birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., deported to Mexico, Jorge Garcia, 39, a landscaper from Lincoln Park, Michigan.
I never met nor knew Jorge Garcia. Press reports confirmed he was married to his wife of 15-years, Cindy and that they have two children, ages 15 and 12 - both born in the US. Apparently, Jorge entered the US at age 10 with an undocumented family member. For three-decades he made the US his home, worked, raised children and stayed out of trouble.
However, circumstances offered up Jorge to immigration officials as he tried to legalized his immigration status back in 2005, but was denied legalization and placed on a deportation list. The Barack Obama Presidency offered some hope to Jorge and his family as his deportation was stayed, while the family sought grounds and assistance to gain him legal status in the US.
Too old to qualify for an exemption to deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), created to shield from deportation hundreds of thousands of undocumented children brought into the US by relatives, since qualification mandates an individual be 31-years or younger by June 15, 2012, Jorge hoped for relief under another program - Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, but that program has been blocked by the Federal Courts.
As expected and as required as he sought a solution to his undocumented status, Jorge continued to report to immigration officials. In the meantime, Donald Trump became president. As reported by the Washington Post, in the first seven-months of Trump, immigration officials arrested 28,000 non criminal immigration violators.
Last November when Jorge reported to immigration officials, he was informed he would have to leave the US by January 15, 2018. Hopes that Congress would find a fix to conditions such as Jorge's have not materialized.
Thus, on Monday, on the Birthday of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jorge hugged his sobbing family for a final time and boarded a plane from the airport in Detroit, Michigan, bound for Mexico, a place he has not lived for 30-years.
A wife is now husbandless, and two children fatherless because of warped immigration policies that are creating family tragedies in this the land of opportunity, liberty and hope. Will America ever regain its humanitarian heart?
January 16, 2018
Rights, Race and Gender Equality - Chapters to be Completed toward Unity
Fifty-years after the death of civil rights champion, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., considerable gaps still remain in the struggle to attain and to establish full human and civil rights, race and gender equality in the United States (US).
Still too many Black men are being killed, arrested and incarcerated by a system that targets the demographic group. They are being joined by young Latino men, who are being rounded-up for deportation based upon mere assumptions that they are in the US illegally.
Women still continue to earn less than their equated educated male counterparts. Adding to the unfinished chapter of gender equality is a new push by many conservatives to wrestle control of women's reproductive rights away from individual women through manipulation of birth control services and healthcare services.
Therefore, in order for the final chapters to be completed toward achieving full civil and human rights, race and gender equality in the US, the people must reject divisive and nationalistic rhetoric that threaten the security of the America Republic and its founding principles. Instead, progressive policies should be advanced to heal and to promote equality, fairness and justice for all.
January 15, 2018
Continuing Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Chapters to Realize the Dream Remain
Today, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black civil rights leader of the 1960s, whose nonviolent campaign to better conditions for all people, has come to epitomize the mode of peaceful protests.
Yet, as we honor a man's whose humility and character embodied and defined peace toward social change, we must wonder of the future face social protests will take as needed in order to protect and to advance those civil and human rights Dr. King and others paid for in blood, and in life.
Violent responses and actions to social protests from Ferguson, Missouri to Charlottesville, Virginia, question whether or not nonviolence would withstand the resurgence of armed far right agitations stoked by executive rhetoric and rantings.
Attacks on civil and human rights remain too prevalent decades after Dr. King. Voting rights remain under attack. Hostile white supremacy groups feel re-energized since the ascension of Donald Trump to the Oval Office. Equality remains theory. Women's rights and the environment remain threatened.
There will be future protests because many chapters to the full realization of Dr. King's dream remain unfulfilled. So as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on this day, January 15, 2018, we should continue to promote nonviolence and wish for peace while writing the final chapters toward equality, justice and liberty for all.
January 14, 2018
Tunisia Moves to the Uprisings Column in 2018
Notifications from the people to governments of their intolerance to their living conditions will continue to figure highly in 2018. Iranians started the year in wide protests against the Islamic government there demanding changes amid soaring consumer prices.
Today, Tunisians have joined the lengthening column of social uprisings for 2018, as Tunisians demonstrate and protest against austerity measures and rising consumer prices. More than 800 demonstrators have been arrested since January 7, when protests broke out over a raised value-added tax and social social contributions along with increases in food prices, proposed in the Tunisian 2018 budget, the BBC-News reported.
Demonstrations continue today in Tunis and in 10 other towns and cities across the nation. Incidentally, today also marks the seventh anniversary of the Arab Spring that ushered in a new government after Tunisians deposed long-time leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in 2011. Tunisia had been touted as a model country for post Arab Spring nations. Yet, the government of President Beji Caid Essebsi has been unable to contain the discontent of Tunisians or to make the necessary reforms needed, included those relating to women, in order to preserve serenity.
Tunisia remains heavily indebted to the World Bank, which warned the nation last month that it needed to take "urgent action" and "decisive measures" to reduce its deficit. According to the BBC-News, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan Tunisia $2.9 billion back in 2015.
Thrown into emergency meetings to cope with the uprisings, the government is now submitting a plan to parliament to reform medicare, housing and increase aid to the poor. The BBC-News reported that Social Affairs Minister Mohammed Trabelsi confirmed that the government was proposing increases in welfare payments. "This will affect about 250,000 families. It will help the poor and middle class," the BBC-News cited the Tunisian official.
Tunisians, like Iranians, have now served notice of public discontent with governments. The people will continue to demand reforms, redress, life, liberty and happiness in 2018. Though it is only January, two nations have already served their notices. Who will follow?
January 13, 2018
The Republic will Endure
In spite of vulgar profane rantings from the Oval Office, rhetoric of nationalism and populism, and of international isolation, fighting words tweeted on social media, policies that threaten the environment and the established Spirit of America, along with divisive actions and agitations, the Republic of the United States of America, will endure.
It will endure because of its people - the educated and non-localists, who see the 'forests' clearly and not that lone backyard tree. It will endure because of its tenets of democracy, liberty, opportunity and the rule of law.
Though a regression of America's founding principles is occurring, it will only be temporary. The resolve of the American people to live up to the historic respected standing of the Republic will endure and it will continue following the current brief spells of chaos and uncertainty.
January 12, 2018
A Vulgar Reference of Black Nations from the US Oval Office - a Wake-up Call to Action
United States (US) President Donald Trump referred to Black nations - Haiti and African states, as "shithole countries" yesterday in a meeting with lawmakers on immigration in the Oval Office, at the White House, Washington, DC. His reported derogatory comment has ignited a firestorm of criticism. Trump denied the comment in a Tweet earlier this morning.
Trump must be condemned for his blatant comment and it should be made clear that Trump's view does not echo the character of the American Republic and most of its people. Trump has lived void of the reality of normalcy and his lack of tack or respect of others underscores his disconnect of any empathy.
However, his vulgar reference of Black nations as "shithole countries" should serve as a wake-up call to Black nations - their governments and more specifically and explicitly, their people, that the historical relationship, trust and respect they once shared with the US, has now been voided by Trump.
Therefore, these nations must now better relations with each other and with others, who accord them due respect and understanding. The people must now take control of their destinies and in particular, control of their natural resources with a view to using them to better themselves and not for the enrichment of any corrupt leaders and foreign corporations. Imagine an Africa in total control of its resources - the diamonds, the gold, the copper, the oil and the much sought after rare and other minerals.
Trump's vulgarity is a wake-up call to the people - a call to unity, and a call to better use of their resources for themselves and not for the micro enrichment of companies so as to ensure their coming off the dole of alms from other nations and to avoid being placed in positions to be so rudely disrespected by Donald Trump.
January 11, 2018
The Resurgence of Political Revolutions - a Fallout of Restricted Immigration
It would be a fallacy to assume that the security of the world would be any calmer had hundreds of thousands of displaced peoples not sought refuge outside of their home nations. I offer it as a speculation that had these masses remained at home, more political upheavals would be percolating today.
Moreover, I venture to predict that in the coming years of restricted immigration, the globe will witness a resurgence in political revolutions and rebellions not seen in recent years.
Therefore, as nations from the United States (US) to the European Union (EU) contemplate enactment of immigration restrictions, careful consideration should be given to the likely demise in world stability once voluminous hoards of people become trapped within their nations having no other means to redress of their conditions, but via revolution and rebellion, which would inevitably impact global investments within the home nations, along with the associated unsure political atmosphere brought to wrought by violence.
Immigration has always been a vehicle to achieving political, economic and social stability worldwide. But if it is severely restricted and prohibited, then its affects could be devastating and not limited to the homes of the displaced, but transcending across walls, mountains, seas and oceans.
January 10, 2018
Diminished Hopes, Quashed Opportunities - America's New Offering to Immigrants
The once promise of life, liberty and opportunity by the United States(US) to persecuted and displaced peoples, is diminishing steadily under the Donald Trump administration.
If not for judicial intervention toward the assurance of due process, as in the case of Dreamers (children brought to the US by undocumented parents), some 800,000 in number, then these immigrants of hope would have had their beacons of opportunity extinguished forthwith under the Trump administration.
A recent ruling by US Judge William Alsup, sitting on the Federal Court in San Francisco, California, accords due process to these believers in the American Dream. The judge ruled that the President Barack Obama's era program, DACA), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects against the deportation of Dreamers, must stay in place while litigation continues against the Trump decision to remove them. In September, Trump rescinded DACA.
But the court's decision is not a permanent fix for these young people who have adopted the US as home. Their anxieties as to a now uncertain future will continue until, perhaps the month of March, when the US Congress could enact legislation allowing permanent residency for many of them.
That the administration in Washington, DC, would also seek to expel some 200,000 El Salvadorans, granted protection in the US since 2001, following deadly earthquakes in the Central American nation, underscores the diminishing hopes and quashed opportunities for far too many people.
Therefore, it becomes high time for the US Congress to act quickly to relight the beacon of the spirit of America, and in doing so, allow hundreds of thousands of immigrants to have a pathway to realizing the hope and the opportunity established by the founding Fathers of this American Republic.
January 09, 2018
Olympic Diplomacy - a Path to Ease Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
North and South Korea have met in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), on the border between the two nations, and via Olympic diplomacy, the reclusive North has agreed to send a delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in the South.
That meeting and the decision, earlier today, between five high-level senior officials from both Koreas, have also produced an agreement between the nations to hold military talks to defuse border tensions, thereby ushering in a relative calm that has not been felt on the peninsula in recent months.
Nuclear threats, tests and ambitions by North Korea, have soured relations with South Korea in recent years. A war of childish rhetoric between the North's President Kim Jong-un and United States(US) President Donald Trump, has also fueled and ratcheted up tensions on the peninsula.
However, an overture by Jong-un to sending a Pyongyang delegation to the February Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea, opened the door to today's Olympic diplomacy, which has now yielded the North participation in the Winter Olympics and the reopening of a military hotline between the two nations - the best diplomatic progress toward calm that has been made on the peninsula in recent years.
Moreover, as reported by the BBC-News, while the North's leader and the South's President Moon Jae-in, monitored the meeting via live television feed, the South proposed that both Koreas march together at the opening ceremony at the Winter Games. Also, the South proposed a renewal for the reunion of family members separated by the Korean to restart during the coming Lunar New Year celebrations, in February.
Family reunions between Korean relatives split by the DMZ remain a much desired and sensitive issue on the Korean peninsula. That these reunifications could now possibly take place again, clearly denote a major chilling of tensions between the Koreas brought about through Olympic diplomacy and not rhetoric and not bombs.
January 08, 2018
Time is Up! The Dawn of the Rise of Women
When the likes of widely acclaimed women - Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Streisand, could soundly affirm that the "time is up" to end years of sexual harassment upon women and the inequality women face in the movies and in work places across the globe, then it must be taken as actual that a "new day is on the horizon" in respect to ending the pervasive culture that has hindered women for far too long.
Oprah and a full cast of women of the entertainment industry premiered the new dawn of the rise of women last night in Hollywood, California, at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. Most of the women, and many men, at the red carpet gala, worn black in solidarity with the Me Too movement, which has brought sexual harassment to the fore from the movie industry to the seat of political power and the media. Many actors presenting or accepting awards at the ceremony denounced sexual harassment.
Accepting the prestigious Cecil B. Demille Honorary Award at the event, the unmatched influential Oprah said:"For far too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared speak the truth to the power of these men. But their time is up. Their time is up!" The media Queen, who addressed the predatory behavior of sexual harassment, reaffirmed that "anew day is on the horizon."
Legendary entertainer Barbara Streisand, the only woman to win the best director award at the Golden Globes back in 1984, affirmed Oprah's declaration: "Folks, time's up...We need more women directors and more women to be nominated for best director."
A new mandate to change the culture that has hindered and scarred women for far too long was explicitly displayed at last night's Golden Globe Awards. That mandate has been set and etched into motion to transcend all sectors and nations since being dispatched by the Me Too movement and the famous women of entertainment.
January 07, 2018
The Rohingya Strikes Back in Myanmar
Rendered stateless, denied freedom of movement and access to social and political services for too long in Myanmar, the Rohingya people struck back against Myanmar's security forces on Friday, thus signaling that they have no other option but to fight against what they deemed as Myanmar state-sponsored terrorism.
Reuters has reported that the Rohingya group, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army(ARSA), has determined it has no other option but to fight in order to defend the Rohingya community and they have demanded the Rohingya be consulted on all decisions affecting their future.
The small ARSA insurgent group on Friday ambushed a Myanmar military truck and wounded several members of Myanmar's security forces, Reuters reported. Last August 25, ARSA launched raids on Myanmar security forces that led to the current violent and ethnic-cleansing crisis by the Myanmar army that has caused over 650,000 Rohingya people, to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist. The Rohingya are a minority Muslim sect that the state has denied to recognize going as far as prohibiting the use of the name Rohingya in the country.
According to the leader of the insurgent group, Ata Ullah, in a statement posted on Twitter, "ARSA has...no other option but to combat 'Burmese state-sponsored terrorism' against the Rohingya population for the purpose of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community, " Reuters reported.
The statement added: "Rohingya people must be consulted in all decision-making that affects their humanitarian needs and political future." Myanmar has claimed it will not accept terrorism and will fight against the Rohingya "until the end".
As Myanmar and Bangladesh ready a plan to return Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, refugees complain that they have not been consulted on the proposals. In the meantime, Myanmar authorities continue to place, Rakhine state - the home of the majority of Myanmar's Rohingya people, off limits to Press and humanitarian groups.
Friday's action by ARSA, the first since last August, underscores the frustration the Rohingya feel and experience toward their goal to achieving basic human rights in Myanmar. They have opted to strike back and to rise-up against oppression in 2018.
January 06, 2018
It is Freezing!
At the time of this writing, it is 15 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 9.4 degrees Celsius) in Washington, DC. In New York City, New York, it is 7 degree F (minus 13.9 degrees C). In Boston, Massachusetts, it is 10 degrees F (minus 12 degrees C). In Toronto, Canada, it is minus 2 degrees F (minus 19 degrees C). On Mount Washington, New Hampshire, it is minus 34 degrees F (minus 36.7 degrees C).
And so are the events of freezing temperatures upon the East Coast of the North American continent on this Sixth Day of January 2018.
It is freezing. It is cold. Car batteries are dying. The homeless are being forced into warm shelters, water pipes are bursting and heating systems are cranked up. Unfortunately, some deaths have been attributed to the bone chilling temperatures.
Thus, history will now record that a weather phenomenon called Bombogenesis - when the barometric pressure, within a low pressure system experiences a drop of 24 or more points within a 24-hour-period. Meteorologist have confirmed the pressured dropped by 48 points spreading snow and low temperatures from sunny Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida, all the way to Canada with snow falls ranging from dusting to two-feet.
Next week should bring a more moderation of temperatures along the East Coast of the North America continent. Stay warm everybody.
January 05, 2018
Diminishing Aid to Nations - a Prelude to Wider Extremism and Conflict
The Trump administration in Washington, DC, has decided to cut almost all security aid to Pakistan in retaliation for Pakistan's failure to deal with terror networks in that country.
The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network are believed to be destabilizing the region and targeting American personnel.
While on its face the withholding of aid appears appropriate to remedy a problem that has and presents a danger to American security, the new directive from the Trump administration could backfire creating a more lucrative haven for terrorists, while stoking wider extremism and conflict that could transcend the borders of the Asian nation.
Without adequate security and funding, Pakistan would descend further into lawlessness rife for the harboring, training and exercising of extremists. However, continued United States(US) aid could prolong a cooperative security relationship Washington has had with Islamabad for decades, though not ideal, but better that nothing at all.
If Pakistan's actions have been far from expected during many years with the infusion of US aid money, then consider the possible demise of conditions minus the financial aid.
The Trump administration directive against Pakistan affirms a flawed foreign policy toted by the White House to use aid to sway needy nations to accept and to go along with Trump's policies over all other considerations, as was threatened over the US unitary declaration on Jerusalem and the subsequent United Nations(UN) vote.
However, that diminishing aid to nations could threaten wider extremism and conflict, the Trump administration should become aware that the McKinley era has long gone and that modern nations are dynamic and complex societies that cannot be ruled from Washington and that they have access to other 'big pocket' donors as China has heavily invested in Pakistan.
January 04, 2018
A Reminder to those who Govern - Serve the People or Else...
Amid prevalent divisiveness, stoked agitations and widening social and economic inequalities, elected officials should be reminded to serve all the people and not themselves nor special interest groups.
Gross failings of elected officials to serve and to act on behalf of all the people will continue to lead to uprisings and wider conflicts.
This week's uprisings in Iran against a strict Islamic government ought to place all governments on notice of the bold defiance people could exhibit once they have been denied the basics of life, liberty and opportunity.
That leaders could do as they wish with no regard of the negative consequences and impacts of such actions upon the people, has to be a misnomer. The old notion that clubs, tear gas, water canons, bullets and arrests would suffice suppressing an oppressed people, is a gross error.
However, good governance, effective service to the people and a system to redress, remain the safest and most secure mechanisms to peace and stability in all societies. Therefore, to hedge against social unrest and perpetual demonstrations and protests, leaders must serve the people instead of demanding of expecting that the people serve them. Government rests with the people at all times.
January 03, 2018
A Thawing Line to Communications Opens on the Korean Peninsula
In spite of childish rhetorical exchanges between United States(US) President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un about the placement, size and operation status of nuclear launch buttons, North Korean has reopened a hotline to communications with South Korea after shuttering the line for two years, thus holding hope to a thawing of relations on the Korean peninsula.
The South Korean government has confirmed reports that the Pyongyang regime called earlier, this morning, holding out hopes to better relations between the Korean brothers, amid threats of nuclear launches from the North and social media(Twitter) taunts by Donald Trump to having a bigger functioning nuclear launch button than Jong-un.
North Korea and South Korea will apparently use the re-opened hotline between the two to establish a dialogue over the likelihood of Pyongyang sending a team to next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in reportedly described the opening of the hotline as "very significant" and that it "...creates an environment where communication will be possible at all times."
Maybe, just maybe, both Koreas could now utilize the hotline to diffuse a highly tense atmosphere on the peninsula brought to wrought by North Korea's nuclear ambitions, testing and threats and Donald Trump's stark social media provocations.
January 02, 2018
The Root of Social Uprisings in 2018
The civil protests, demonstrations and social uprisings of 2018, already being played out in Iran that are also likely in many other countries, are rooted not in overnight circumstances, but in deep social divisions enraged through divisiveness, in the erosion of human rights and in bad governance and economic policies that threatened to widen the divide between the 'haves and the have nots'.
Moreover, the youth of the world who feel shutout from the means to social mobility and economic prosperity whether or not because of conflict or restricted governance lacking a mode to redress of grievances, will continue to strike out at their governments with a view to changing the present affairs of their respective states for more inclusiveness.
That so many youthful Iranians would risk death, injury and possible imprisonment to protest against policies by a strict Islamic government in their country, clearly underscores the acuteness of the problems many youth find with their governance. Thus, civil disobedience could become wide spread as 2018 progresses.
However, governments have an opportunity to advert such possible uprisings by redeveloping economic and social policies to benefit the people - the youth, the young and the old, and not just the rich via trickle down economics. Such fiscal polices characteristic of a bygone era, are not fitting to modern times and new attempts to reinstall them, which would shoulder the world's youth with the debt of such policies in the long run, will continue to be met by protests, demonstrations and uprisings.
January 01, 2018
The Uprisings of 2018
The uprisings, demonstrations and protests by the people against conditions impacting their rights, lives, survival and future, have already started in 2018.
In Iran, protests and demonstrations across that Islamic Republic continue today since starting last Thursday in opposition to tight economic and political conditions. Impromptu protests, according to the BBC-News, have been witnessed in the large cities of Tehran and Mashhad to included other Iranian cities and towns like Zanjan, Abhar, Tonekabon, Karaj, Arak, Shahrekord, Izeh, Bandar Abbas, Khorramabad and Kermanshah.
Reports indicate that some 12 people have died and upward of 400 have been arrested as Iranian authorities close down sections of social media in an attempt to quell the protests.
Describing the protests and criticisms as an opportunity and not a threat, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, has said that his people are free to protest, but not violently. Yet, a crackdown by the strict Iranian forces continue against the mainly male youthful demonstrators.
This 2018 uprising is the largest anti-government demonstration seen in Iran since the Green Movement rallies of 2009 when 30 people were killed and thousands arrested to suppress dissent of the government.
Iran has suffered under a strict Theocratic government and a faltering economy brought to wrought by years of international economic sanctions as punishment for its nuclear ambitions. Its outlooked appeared high with the signing of a nuclear agreement between the country and the international community in 2016. However, conditions have not gotten better fast enough for many Iranians, thus the present protests.
The social protests playing out in Iran are not restricted to that nation. Conditions in a number of jurisdictions deteriorated enough in 2017 to raise the likelihood of mass uprisings in 2018. Spain, the United States(US), the United Kingdom(UK), Myanmar, Venezuela, Russia, Hong Kong, Peru and Poland, among others, are not immune to social unrest in 2018.
December 31, 2017
Toward the Rise of the People in 2018 - to Safeguard Human Rights
The persecution of humans, civil displacement, minority statelessness and the number of victims of conflicts along with the erosion of basic human rights accompanied with stoked divisiveness, were all prevalent and on the increase in 2017, as the stage became set for a larger divide between the 'haves and the have-nots'. These agitations have been set against a backdrop of a pressured environment strained by the effects of mankind.
Therefore, in 2018, the peoples of Planet Earth must rise up to end all practices that threaten the serenity and peace of humankind's continuity on Earth.
Change rests with all the people and unless we stand-up for life, liberty, equality and the rule of law, our Planet run a great risk of descending into an unhealthy environ consumed by violence, divisiveness and conflict.
So as the New Year dawns, we toast and urge all peoples to rise in order to safeguard all human rights and the protection of our sole-shared environment.
Happy New Year!
December 30, 2017
The World in 2018 - the United States of America(USA)
The diminishing international sphere of influence of the United States(US) that started with the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency, will continue in 2018.
Our beloved Republic that has long stood on the principles of democracy, life, liberty, equality and the rule of law from the times of the Pilgrims, to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Obama, will descend further into isolation under Donald Trump in 2018.
That glowing beacon of hope that once shone brightly over the US toward religious and civil freedoms, will be dimmed in 2018 as Trump continues to close the door to opportunity to many people, who once looked to this Republic, as an assured pillar of hope and of comfort.
The expressed intent of the Trump administration not to endorse the Paris Agreement on Climate Change underscores the isolationist path the current White House will direct the US in 2018. The stated objection to the Iran Nuclear deal affirms America's isolation well into 2018. Also the unitary declaration by Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thus bucking international consensus on a two-state solution to peace with Palestine, further affirms the isolationist road Trump has adopted for the Republic.
Domestically, a new tax code signed into law by Trump will increase the wealth gap between 'the haves the have-nots' in 2018 and beyond. Wall Street's record breaking gains, borne out of rational fiscal policy during the Obama Presidency, will begin to wane in 2018. Divisive rhetoric stoked by the new administration will incite civil demonstrations and protests in 2018. The health and economic condition of America's poor will also become more acute in 2018.
However, that the Republic stands loftier than any individual or administration, the American people will seek to curb the policies of Trump by backing many Democratic Party candidates for Congress in 2018.
While the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election might not yield an impeachment of Trump in 2018, the resolve of the American people to a stable and cohesive community, could result in major restraints being placed on Trump in 2018.
Therefore, in 2018, the US Republic and its people will find the ways and means to reset a path toward global respect and international cooperation, even if it takes until 2020.
December 29, 2017
The World in 2018 - Europe
Europe will enter and continue into 2018 enjoying economic gains under the umbrella of the powerhouse European Union(EU) and moderate stability under the security of NATO. Economic achievements, the driving force of Europe's recent resurgence, will continue across the continent.
Meddling from Russia into European affairs will continue from Estonia to Lithuania to Latvia and all the way to the English Channel. Ukraine will bear the brunt of Russian meddling in an attempt to derail the aspirations of Ukrainians to more European values. Norway, Sweden and Finland could also fall victim to Russian meddling in 2018.
In spite of strong economic gains and social stability in 2018, some European inherent flaws that have evolved in at least one past colonial nation, Spain, which emerged in 2017, will resurface in 2018.
The expressed democratic aspiration of the people of Catalonia to sovereignty, only to have their non-violent declaration whisked away by former colonial power flexing its power over one of its autonomous regions, is an omen of things to come in Europe. That Spain elected to jail and to prosecute the leaders of Catalonia for conducting a democratic process: to wit - a referendum, remains counter productive to democracy in some European states and a bad example by an alleged democratic nation penalizing the people for adhering to a non-violent democratic political process. Spain's action within Catalonia has set the tone for future movements for sovereignty among the independence seeking people of Europe.
The United Kingdom(UK) will continue its process to exiting the EU in 2018 but with much reservation from many Brits hoping for a re-do of the referendum that sent the UK down the path to leaving the powerful union.
France will continue to prosper in 2018 as it remains a beacon to many of world's down trodden and to refugees. Yet, France will face some extremist actions as it has over recent years. However, the French in 2018, will reaffirm their resolve to peace and stability and will be rewarded by defeating terror and extremism.
Immigration issues will figure highly in 2018 from Germany, to the Netherlands, to Greece, to Italy, to Hungary and throughout the continent. Germany's lead, acceptance, management and moderation of immigration should serve as a model to other nations. Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to extend German humanitarian help to thousands of refugees, despite right-wing opposition, will continue to be exemplary in 2018. But Hungary's stance on immigration will continue run counter to the spirit of the EU in 2018.
Italy will share a large burden of refugee hosting in 2018 and that could impact its forthcoming elections. Economic gains will continue to bless the shores of Ireland in 2018 as financial wealth and benefits flow into Luxembourg.
Political developments in Poland that continue to undermine the judiciary there hold serious implications per Poland's membership within the EU in 2018.
Brussels, Belgium, headquarters for the EU, will have some tough decisions to make in 2018 per some members involving Poland and Hungary in 2018.
December 28, 2017
The World in 2018 - Asia
Asia will become even more synonymous with China in 2018. China has driven much of all development in Asia over the past decade and the land of Chairman Mao Zedong, is poised to continue this course into 2018 as it expands its global sphere of influence from Asia, to Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas. China's accumulated economic power coupled with a modernizing and large army, puts it at the center of all things Asian and global in 2018.
Moreover, China's continuing rise in 2018 will be facilitated via the faltering isolation of the United States(US) under Donald Trump. Trump's divisive and isolating policies could push more Asian states under the protection of the umbrella of China's economic wealth, as the Communists expand trade with other Asian nations from Laos, to Cambodia, to Vietnam, to the Philippines, to Thailand, to Indonesia and throughout the region. China's expansion into the waters of the South China Sea has gone unchecked, thus expanding the reach of its influence even farther onto the waters and shoals of Asia. China's influence over ASEAN nations will rise in 2018.
China's expanding sphere of influence in 2018 matched against Trump's isolationist practice, surprisingly affirms the progress of communism versus the diminishing returns of democracy - a sad predicament, but an emerging reality based upon China's gains. Unlike the former USSR or any other communist state since or before, China's model is a success story that is still flourishing and showing no signs of waning.
However, China's continuing rise in 2018, could become complicated by the actions and the affairs brought to wrought by the nuclear ambitions, threats and testing of North Korea. In 2018, North Korea will either demonstrate its alleged nuclear capability or bow before diplomatic negotiations toward better relations with South Korea and the rest of the world.
Russia in 2018 will continue its agitations into other countries via electronic means on the Internet, support to rebels in places like the Ukraine, regimes like Syria's and by submarine crawls threatening international communications under the Oceans. Vladimir Putin has succeeded in barring his main opposition candidate from running in the election for president, thus assuring himself a prolonged rule. Therefore, any threats to his rule in 2018, could only come from Russian oligarchs, frustrated by the economic impact of international sanctions upon their wealth.
Turkey, NATO's second-largest standing army member, will remain in a quagmire in 2018. As it stands on two continents - Asia and Europe, Turkey remains straddle as whether or not to stand with western themes or to set its own self-aligned path to development. Whatever path President Recap Tayyip Erdogan charts for Turkey will be heavily influenced in 2018, by the aspirations of the Kurds for greater recognition and by opposition in Turkey to his 'leader-for-life' ambitions. But the crafty Erdogan recognizes Turkey's influence over many factions in the Muslim world, so his position on matters especially regarding Israel, could enhance his standing and continued power in Turkey.
Myanmar has a human rights problem that will not go away in 2018. Myanmar's human rights abuses of the Rohingya people will weigh down its development in 2018. Moreover, its detainment of journalists will block its global standing even more in 2018.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will both seek to better their economic and global standings in 2018.
India, on the other hand, the world's largest democracy, will continue to have its total development hindered by faction differences, a caste society and its failure to capitalize on a bogged down technology sector that has focused more on delivering services rather than delivering innovation. Also, India's ongoing squabbles with Pakistan will also weigh heavily in 2018 as Pakistan continues its struggles with corruption, terrorism and extremism.
Any and all hopes to independence for Hong Kong or Taiwan will remain at zero in 2018 as Chinese power and influence rise high enough to cool and to counter any and all sovereign aspirations by the youth of Hong Kong and by the people of Taiwan, especially under the back drop of an isolated US policy.
December 27, 2017
The World in 2018 - the Middle East
To end conflicts in Yemen and Syria, to abolish slavery in Libya, to diffuse an agitation based upon the Trump administration's unitary declaration on Jerusalem, to complete the two-state solution to peace over Israel and Palestine, to promote region cohesiveness and to counter terrorism and extremism, will be the major themes in the Middle East in 2018.
Unlike previous years when rumors, threats and outbreaks of war figured highly, 2018 could see a defensive Middle East in spite of current Saudi and coalition operations in Yemen, the need-to-end conflict in Syria and the agitation stirred-up by Donald Trump's unitary declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, hereby undermining an established international community process to peace and stability in the region.
All efforts in 2018 in the Middle East should focus on ending Yemen's conflict. Too many children have died and too many have been maimed. Too many children also continue to face starvation and death from hunger. Moreover, support should be given to the delivery of humanitarian aid to both the people of Yemen and of Syria in 2018. Russia's beginning draw-down of its forces in Syria should usher in better humanitarian conditions for the children of Syria.
The enslavement of African refugees in Libya will be quelled in 2018 as better governance and cooperation between factions become more responsive.
The willingness of Iran and of Saudi Arabia to better and for greater influence in the region could also augur well toward region peace, security and stability of the Middle East in 2018. But the two regional powerhouses must first recognize that their own peace and security are intertwined with the wider security of the region.
Better governance from Lebanon to Iraq with the accepted involvement of more factions into the operations of government could result in greater stability in the Middle East in 2018.
The end of the feud Qatar has with its Arab brothers would also bring greater security to the Middle East in 2018.
Morocco and Algeria, like many of the other states in the region will have to continue guard against terrorism and extremism in 2018.
Apart from Yemen and Syria with open conflicts, Egypt stands perhaps more vulnerable of Middle East nations to acts of violence associated with terrorism and extremism in 2018.
The terrorist group, Islamic States(IS), which has reported been routed from both Syria and Iraq, could continue to have a dispersal negative impact upon the Middle East in 2018.
Yet, if not for the present conflicts in Yemen and Syria and the recent agitation stirred up by Trump's declaration on Israel, then the Middle East in 2018 could have been on a path to a rear peace. But open wounds remain which have just been salted via a unitary declaration, thus, unfortunately, the likelihood for new and prolonged conflict remains ripe in the Middle East in 2018.
December 26, 2017
The World in 2018 - Central and South America
Central and South America will enter 2018 on a peaceful path primarily, but with some potential to conflict and political dissent across many borders. Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Costa Rica hold the best likelihood to peace and stability, while Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela could descend into political upheaval.
Colombia will enter 2018 at peace with FARC and other rebel groups in the South American nation of lush vegetation and beautiful people which should auger well as a model for stability, security and progress to other states in Latin America.
However, while most of Colombia's actions to peace are complete, the nation will seek, in 2018, to sustain its peace process and serenity against a backdrop of some discord from national naysayers to its peace efforts.
Political dissent will figure high in Peru in 2018 triggered by the recent apparent 'tit-for-tat' deal involving President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and former president Alberto Fujimori's supporters in the Peruvian congress. Kuczynski, who faces corruption allegations, survived impeachment in the congress because of support from Fujimori's party. After weathering the political crisis, Kuczynski provided a pardon to the twice convicted former president Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year-old prison sentence for human rights abuses related to his rule from 1990 to 2000. Peruvian opposition parties have vowed protests over the construed 'tit-for-tat' support and pardon.
Venezuela has been declining farther and father into political turmoil in recent years. Dictatorship jailing of political opposition and dissenters has been rampant, raw violence has gripped the nation consuming scores of lives of protesters as food shortages and consumer prices increase. Thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country to other lands because of the political turmoil, which could get worse in 2018.
President Nicolas Maduro has undermined the parliament with the establishment of a constituent assembly which he controls. That assembly recently expelled a Canadian diplomat to which Canada reacted by expelling two Venezuelan diplomats out of Ottawa. Food and basic supply shortages continue, while opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, remains under house arrest in Caracas.
Maduro has gambled that an oil deal the nation recently inked with Russia and his Christmas goodwill to free 36 political prisoners, will provide him with some degree of cushion to his rule in 2018, when he will seek another term as president. Yet, Venezuela's troubles remain as some 150 political prisoners remain in detention as the economy continues a downward spiral.
Guatemala and Honduras:
Both of these nations that sided with Israel and the United States(US) in voting against a United Nations(UN) resolution last week repudiating the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, will continue to witness stark violence wrought by the illegal drug trade in 2018. Political dissent within both nations will also become current in 2018.
Micro and Macro corruption problems will continue in Brazil in 2018. But no major social unrests and associated security problems should figure too highly in 2018.
Chile's recent election of former president Sebastian Pinera to become its new president epitomizes much of the confusion Latin America has had in determining its future - bringing back the past in an attempt to better the present. But such actions are not immune to troubles as Chile could very well find out in 2018.
Some closure must come in 2018 to the loved ones of 44-submariners lost to the South Atlantic via a submarine accident in 2017. Legal troubles could mount for a former president of the country as economic troubles come to the fore in Argentina in 2018.
Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua:
Leftist-leaning regimes in these countries could continue to cling to power in 2018 amid suppressed dissent and corruption among members of the nations' executive branches.
December 25, 2017
Wishes of Peace
Merry Christmas to all!
At this time each and every year, men speak of peace and goodwill to all - often assumed beautiful sentiments, which are nonetheless, easily retracted to the apathy of selfishness and greed by the New Year, if not sooner.
Thus, under such conditions, war, conflict and suffering are prolonged and carried on from one year, unto another year and then into yet another year, hereby establishing perpetual strife among the human race.
But I must have the audacity to wish and to hope that it is within the scope of humankind to love, to care and to respect each other and our environment. Peace must become attainable. The spirit of comfort, liberty and happiness could transcend all borders if wished and wanted.
However, the reality of current affairs suggests that actions by those entrusted by the peoples to govern their affairs, are individualistic, isolationist, nationalistic and invoking of conflict and divisiveness.
Yet, I must continue to wish for peace, for liberty, for happiness, for goodwill and for a better environment. Maybe, if all of humanity would hope and wish a bit louder and play our parts to accomplish the role of civil-caring humans, then, just maybe, wishes of peace could become the enjoyment of true peace over the lands of our Planet Earth.
December 24, 2017
A Prayer for the Children of Conflicts, the Homeless, the Displaced, the Stateless
Almighty God, I acknowledge that through you, all things are possible. In my humble acceptance of your power and your will, I bow before you on this day, Christmas Eve, 2017, to ask forgiveness for all humanity's transgressions.
Holy Father, I beg for your deliverance from war, conflict and suffering of all children. Among these children, most Holy Father, are the children of Syria and of Yemen.
I beg for the comfort of the Rohingya people and all refugees rendered stateless and displaced via conflict or persecution. I beseech thee, Dear God, to end the suffering of all victims of circumstance. Of these things I pray, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!
December 23, 2017
The World in 2018 - the Caribbean
The offering of luxurious, serene, and hibiscus-flowered resorts complemented by pristine white-sand beaches, calm turquoise waters and friendly people, has always been the lure of the Caribbean to visitors, whose dollars and euros are greatly depended-upon to support the economic health of the region. Such offerings and demands will continue in 2018.
Yet, local economic pressures will figure highly in the region of my birth in 2018. High debts compounded by the wrecking high economic costs and social toll of natural disasters - Hurricanes Irma and Maria, will present financial troubles to some of the islands in the Caribbean.
The $2billion pledged for relief efforts, half of which are loans and debt relief, will not be sufficient to ward off fiscal pressures in the Caribbean in 2018. Such funding amid a shortfall to fund climate resiliency, will not come close to reaching the needs of Caribbean islands. The impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria upon the Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua-Barbuda, St. Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos islands, has been catastrophic.
Monies given to relief efforts include: The Netherlands, $702 million; the European Union(EU), $352 million; the World Bank, $140 million; Canada, $78 million; China, $30 million; Mexico, $27 million; Italy, $12 million; the United States, a meager $4.3 million; Japan, $4 million; Kuwait, $1 million; India, $2 million; Venezuela, $1 million; Belgium, $1.2 million; Chile, $1 million; Denmark $500,000; Colombia, $300,000; Haiti, $250,000; New Zealand, $250,000; Brazil, $200,000; Kazakhstan, $150,000; Romania, $100,000; Portugal, $100,000 and Serbia, $20,000.
Entire islands remain in need of rebuilding. Though rebuilding will be slow, optimism swirls over efforts to rebuild as climate-resilient communities, as is the case in the Commonwealth of Dominica.
The Caribbean Community(CARICOM), the 15-member regional integration group, will remain at the forefront of directing development goals in the Caribbean in 2018. CARICOM's Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency(CDEMA) proved very efficient during the great storms of 2017. Also, CARICOM's July, 2017 creation of the Caribbean Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency(CCREE) stands as a beacon to achieving a 47 percent renewable energy goal by 2027 in the region.
Parliamentary elections on my birth island of Barbados, constitutionally due by February 2018, will serve as a litmus test on whether or not the electorate of Caribbean would punish incumbents in 2018 for soaring food and commodity prices as well as increases in unemployment.
Overall, the stability and security of the Caribbean should remain constant in 2018 with minimal interruptions due to a surge in gun-crimes and an existing element of extremism in Trinidad and Tobago.
December 22, 2017
The World in 2018 - Canada and Mexico
Canada and Mexico - the two countries, one to the north, the other to the south that sandwich the United States(US), will both enter 2018 in a special position as likely sanctuary locations to any Americans disheartened by the Trump administration in Washington, DC.
Canada will remain the first-nation of choice for many people in 2018 and it has already accepted and will continue to accept refugees who believe their claims for domicile would be rejected under new policies of the Trump administration. Mexico, will witness increased repatriation of Mexicans expelled under new guidelines of the Trump era.
In 2018, Canada will retain its respected title as a peaceful, rational and safe nation. The aura of serenity from Toronto to Vancouver to Halifax to Ottawa and beyond will remain in 2018. The calm and sensible disposition of Canadians will attract many people to the high esteem character that is Canada.
That Canada would be void of any troubles in 2018 would be an error in any assessment of the Maple Leaf nation. Any disturbances to the peace, security and stability of Canada will be minimal in 2018. However, the nation should continue to pay careful attention to some house-keeping matters, including monitoring and dismantling any right-wing or extremist agitations.
The unfolding ethics concerns over the Aga Khan's gifts to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should not pose any governing snags in 2018, but should serve as a reminder to public servants that full disclosure is always necessary of all dealings between the government and those having and wanting business with the government.
In 2018, Canada will develop a method to track and to report the now non-recording of missing Indigenous women. Moreover, Canada could be expected to improve upon its environmental protections in 2018.
The greatest threat facing Canada in 2018 could come in the area of trade as the new administration in Washington, DC, has sought to place close to a-330 percent duty on some Bombardier products imported into the US.
Yet, Canada in 2018 will continue to be a pristine humanitarian nation that offers one of the world's best environments to maintain and to sustain life, liberty and happiness.
If not for the ongoing drug wars, trafficking and the associated stark violence, then Mexico would be an ideal place to live in 2018. But the reality and the widening violence brought to wrought by drug trafficking will continue to affect Mexico's well being.
Earlier this week, the bodies of six-men were discovered hanging from three separate bridges over highways in the highly tourist-attracted place of Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, in Mexico. The violence of the drug wars in Mexico had previously not extended to the tourist areas. However, the recent discovery of the six-bodies, underscores a stark fact of the seriousness and the danger that illegal drugs, drug trafficking and violence, pose to Mexico in 2018.
Such blatant acts of violence and the insensible way such violence is publicly displayed are direct threats to Mexico's economic and social well being. Any reduction in tourism will have a negative impact upon Mexico's economy. But Mexico's drug problem is not its sole creation. A demand for illegal drugs in the US fuels Mexico's drug wars and the violence.
Just as an erection of a border-wall between the US and Mexico will not end illegal immigration, such a wall will also not end drug trafficking, nor a demand for illegal drugs. But continued friendly and cooperative relations between Mexico and the US could alleviate many of the problems caused by narcotics trade.
With regards to natural disasters, Mexico, in 2018, could seek to modernize its building codes in order to shore-up much of its urban infrastructure to withstand stronger earthquakes.
December 21, 2017
The World in 2018 - Africa
Africa in 2018 will continue upon its impediment laden road to an identity with a a view to modernization, stability and security. However, in as much as it has been in 2017, in 2000, in 1990 and in prior years, the impact of colonialism, dictatorship, dynasty, tribalism and corruption, will continue to hinder Africa's full potential.
Today's Africa remains very much a product of its colonial masters. Much of its resources are still controlled by the former colonial rulers blocking full benefits to the African people. Yet, the former colonial powers cannot shoulder all the blame for the ills of Africa.
Wide sovereignty that came to Africa in the 1960s and 1970s through revolutions and popular movements offered much hope to the continent, but apartheid in South Africa and the continued control of most wealth in the hands of former colonial masters, quickly doused many dreams that Africa would emerge from the Third World.
Tribal war, dictatorship, dynasty and corruption have come to consume Africa from Central African Republic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Rwanda, to Sudan, to South Sudan, to Togo, to Liberia, to the Ivory Coast and elsewhere. Epidemics, including outbreaks of Ebola, have also plagued Africa.
More than any other thing else, dictatorship and dynasty - the cling to power and control and wealth by African leaders, along with blatant corruption, have and will continue to contribute to African underdevelopment in 2018.
New and developing economic relations between the continent and China appear to offer some measurable hope to progress. Shared African-Chinese ownership on investment seems to offer better returns to Africans than the old relationship involving the former colonial masters. Yet, Africans remain suspect of China's participation in their nation-building as was witnessed earlier this week, when Chinese police officers were commissioned in Zambia, but were quickly removed after a torrent of public outcry.
Below are brief assessments of a few African nations for 2018...
The ruling African National Congress(ANC) - the party of the late great civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, will remove corruption-scandal and legal-troubled President Jacob Zuma in 2018. Newly appointed leader of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, stands to ascend to the presidency. However, the transitional period from Zuma to Ramaphosa might not be easy. Concerns over the prevalence of white dominance over business and industry could prove problematic in 2018.
Corruption, political violence and counterfeit prescription drugs will plague Nigeria in 2018. Its oil wealth remains marred in corruption and the spoils have failed to trickle down to most Nigerians. Political violence with a religious overtone could continue to plague the north of the country. A national health crisis in Nigeria could emerge out of the prevalence of counterfeit prescription drugs in the country. The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that some 30 percent of prescription drugs across Africa are counterfeit, thus posing a major health crisis.
After a melee on the floor of its Parliament in opposition to a Constitutional change that would allow its President Yoweri Museveni to run for a sixth-term in 2021, Uganda approved the strife-causing measure yesterday. As a result, Uganda is ripe for unrest in 2018.
With the ouster and resignation of long standing dictator President Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 until November 21, 2017, economic progress could begin to flow into the impoverished nation in 2018. As new President Emmerson Mnangagwa vows to bring Zimbabwe in from "the cold", he will face hot dissatisfaction over a number of issues in 2018 including soaring food prices and a high unemployment rate.
Questions will remain over the electoral process that retained the current Kenyan president. Also, extremist actions spilling over from Somalia could cause some problems in 2018.
Somalia and Mali:
Extremism and pirates will continue to wreck havoc upon Somalia in 2018.
Some degree of stability could return to South Sudan in 2018 as tens of thousands of once refugees flock back to their homes from United Nations(UN) camps where they had sought solace from civil strife.
The most alarming thing Ghana will face in 2018 is the presence of mercenaries and private groups that number some 450,000 per the nation's 33,000 police force. Even more alarming for Ghana in 2018 is the end point of some 1.3 million illegal weapons smuggled into the country in 2017.
Perhaps Africa's ripest place for insurrection in 2018 will be Togo, where a dynasty has ruled since 1967. Since August, thousands of Togolese have been protesting against corruption in the streets.
Another dynasty has ruled Gabon for some 50 years and corruption remains prevalent in the country. A French court, investigating corruption in Gabon, has seized 39 properties in France alone connected to the ruling family along with a number of luxury vehicles. Gabon remains ripe for social and political turmoil in 2018.
Yet another African dynasty in Equatorial Guinea creates a heavy atmosphere for political turmoil in 2018. The son of President Theodoro Obiang Nguema, a deputy to his father and next in line to the seat of power in the country, has been convicted in absentia of embezzlement by a French court, which has seized property and vehicles, connected to the ruling family.
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Constitutional questions challenging the extension of term limits to the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will figure highly in 2018.
Central African Republic:
Repatriations will remain key to security and stability in Central African Republic in 2018.
Human rights issues and political concerns will be hot button topic in Ethiopia in 2018.
December 20, 2017
The World in 2018
This week's revelation and confirmation that the United States(US) military spent $22 million investigating unidentified flying objects(UFOs) in the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, in a way, fittingly sets up an eerie, weird and bizarre 2018.
The World in 2018 will be anything but normal. As is strange as evident-film of UFOs in the sky; to a trickled-down-economics tax overhaul in the US; to a determination of a soft or hard Brexit, if there will be an exit, in the United Kingdom(UK); to the rise and complexity of the European Union(EU); to the aspirations of Ukraine and of Catalonia and of other peoples; to the continued meddling of Russia; to the nuclear threat of North Korea; to the widening international scope of China; to the determinant identity of Africa; to the new alliances of Latin America; to the recovery and simplicity of the Caribbean; to conflicts in the Middle East; to the struggles of refugees; to the pangs of the displaced and of the poor; and to the humanity-failed children of conflicts in Yemen and in Syria and elsewhere, 2018 will be unprecedented.
American isolation, nationalism, war, rumors of war, conflicts, widening inequality, environmental issues and human rights concerns will be major affairs in 2018. To this end, I will attempt my yearly assessment of the year to come continuing tomorrow:
December 21, The World in 2018 - Africa.
December 22, The World in 2018 - Canada and Mexico.
December 23, The World in 2018 - Caribbean.
December 26, The World in 2018 - Central and South America.
December 27, The World in 2018 - Middle East.
December 28, The World in 2018 - Asia.
December 29, The World in 2018 - Europe.
December 30, The World in 2018 - United States.
December 19, 2017
The Undermining of American Democracy - the Deprivation of Voting Rights
"...people living in poverty, minorities and other disfavored groups are being systematically deprived of their voting rights."
This long suspected fact about the waning of democracy in the United States(US) has been confirmed in a report by the United Nations(UN) Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston.
In the summary report on poverty and human rights released last Friday, after a 10-day tour of American States and cities, the UN expert outlined how basic rights are being denied in a nation that was once touted as the greatest democracy in the world.
Alston reported: "In the US there is overt disenfranchisement of vast numbers of felons, a rule which predominantly affects Black citizens since they are the ones whose conduct is often specifically targeted for criminalization...there are often requirement that persons who have paid their debt to society still cannot regain their right to vote until they paid off all outstanding fines and fees."
As if that practice was not enough, Alston also found: "Then there is covert disenfranchisement, which includes the dramatic gerrymandering of elected districts to privilege particular groups of voters, the imposition of artificial and unnecessary voter ID requirements, the blatant manipulation of polling station locations, the relocating of DMVs to make it more difficult for certain groups to obtain IDs and the general ramping up of obstacles to voting especially by those without resources."
The UN report concluded: "The net result is that people living in poverty, minorities, and other disfavored groups are being systematically deprived of their voting rights."
December 18, 2017
The Prevalence of Poverty - from the American Dream to the American Illusion
That 40 million people - 12.7 percent of the population in the United States(US) - the richest nation on the planet, live in poverty, is preposterous. And that almost half of the poor, 18.5 million, live in deep poverty with reported income below one-half of the poverty threshold, is even more absurd and unacceptable for a First World nation.
In the just concluded summary report on poverty and human rights in the US by the United Nations(UN) Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, it concluded: "Automation and robotization are already throwing many middle-aged workers out of jobs in which they once believed themselves to be secure..."
As a result, the UN report added: "The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion in the US since the US now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries."
But who are America's poor? Included in the data of the US Census Bureau that counts the poor, Alston found that the poor are "...overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market."
The UN report cited that there are eight million more poor Whites than Blacks in America. "The face of poverty in America is not only Black, or Hispanic", the report confirmed, "but also White, Asian and many other colors. Nor is it confined to a particular age group."
Addressing the connection between human rights and poverty, the UN report castigated the US hypocritical stance on rights: "In practice", the report noted, "the United States is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable health care, or growing up in a context of total deprivation."
But recognition and protection of all human rights are fundamental to sustaining peace, security, liberty and happiness. If the present administration in Washington, DC, fails to admit and to protect the rights for all Americans, then the American Dream would become the American Illusion for quite some time.
December 17, 2017
America's Looming Wider Inequality - Not to be a Serene Event
The United Nations(UN) summary report on poverty in the United States(US) confirms the undermining of human rights and democracy.
Therefore, the findings should amount to more than a wake-up call to authorities to re-establish the fulfillment of the tenets upon which the Republic of freedom and of opportunity was founded.
Clearly established in the report presented in Washington, DC, last Friday, by the UN's Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, was the caution that prevalent poverty and implemented and coming policies by the Trump administration, will lead to wider inequality facilitating the undermining of human rights and democracy.
Cuts to social programs and safety nets to America's 40-million poor compounded by a proposed new tax policy that will benefit the super rich, will not alleviate the conditions of Americans living in poverty.
Any comfort and greater wealth extended to the wealthy in this new era would be hard to enjoy in an atmosphere non serenity. The passive plantation-poor that once stood impotent as the plantocracy enjoyed great privilege at their expense, is dead. New generations cannot be expected to yield submission to a new gentry of corporate raiders and wealthy individuals.
In other words, passivity is dead. Active protesting generations live. That the poor would continue to go hungry and to die aimlessly on skid row awaiting trickle down handouts from the wealthy living in luxury, is preposterous.
So, why some of the wealthy celebrate their coming expanding riches, keeping their spoils will not be a serene feat. The poor's demand to eat will also not be serene.
But government has an opportunity now to retain serenity and to re-establish the promises and opportunities of America - life, liberty and property to all. Safety nets to the poor must not be diminished over advances to the super rich.
December 16, 2017
A Scathing Report on Poverty and its Ramifications in the United States
"The proposed tax reform package stakes out America's bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1-percent and the poorest 50-percent of Americans."
This is the conclusion of United Nations(UN) Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, in a summary report on poverty in America and whether or not it undermines the human rights of Americans, released yesterday in Washington, DC. The full report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2018.
After encountering people barely surviving on Skid Row, in Los Angeles, California; police herding the homeless to pasture less places in San Francisco, California; sewage-filled yards in States where governments do not consider sanitation facilities their responsibility; toothless adults shut out of dental access to care; soaring death rates and family and community destruction wrought by opioids; and people living next to a mountain of completely unprotected coal ash which rains down upon them bringing illness, disability and death, Alston concluded that: "The dramatic cuts in welfare...already beginning to be implemented by the (Trump) administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes."
Alston toured California, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Washington, DC. He spoke with senior State and Federal officials along with experts, civil society groups, the homeless and people living in deep poverty.
"The United States," the Alston wrote: "is one of the world's richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries, but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty."
The UN expert observed: "American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders' admirable commitments, today's United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound."
He concluded: "The foundation stone of American society is democracy, but it is being steadily undermined. The principle of one person one vote applies in theory, but it is far from the reality."
[The summary report has been posted @www.ohchr.org]
December 15, 2017
41-Million Living in Poverty in the US - a Failing of Civil and Political Rights
The United States(US) Census Bureau caps the poverty total population at 41 million people. However, this number, present in the First World and in the richest nation on the planet, signifies a civil and political failing to deliver full rights to all Americans.
To this end, at some point today, here in Washington, DC, United Nations(UN) Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, will offer up a preliminary report on the state of poverty in the US to mark the conclusion of his research and tour of poverty-stricken areas in America, including Puerto Rico. He will present a full report of his findings before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2018.
Charged by the international body to conduct research and analysis, Alston has been shocked by the deprivation of social means to food and shelter across the US. In Butler County, Alabama, where "raw sewage flows from houses through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits", Alston has declared: "I think it's very uncommon in the First World...this is not a sight that one normally sees. I'd have to say that I haven't seen this..."
Poverty and hunger insecurity are permanently linked to human rights. Victims often fall short of full access to the social and political systems - voting and civic participation are hindered, thus prolonging the terrible sufferings. Therefore, all failings on poverty and hunger are human rights issues.
December 14, 2017
A Gross Failing of Humanity - Thousands of Rohingya Killed in Myanmar
The highly respected aid-group Medecins Sans Frontieres(MSF), Doctors Without Borders, estimates that some 6, 700 Rohingya people died at the hands of the Myanmar army, between August 25 and September 24, this year, a clear indication of a gross failing of humanity that allowed so many stateless people to be killed before an impotent global community.
It was toward the end of August following attacks by militants upon police bases that the Myanmar army started a violent campaign upon the Rohingya people. MSF counts that 647, 000 Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25.
While Myanmar authorities have claimed that just 400 of the minority Muslim sect, whom they deemed terrorists, were killed during the operation and that they have since exonerated themselves of any crimes against the Rohingya via a self-investigation, the stark numbers of killed Rohingya people found by MSF through surveys of refugees in camps in Bangladesh, are "the clearest indication yet of the widespread violence" perpetrated by Myanmar authorities upon the Rohingya people.
As reported by the BBC-News earlier today, MSF said its surveys found that most of the Rohingya deaths were caused by violence which also claimed the lives of 730 Rohingya children under the age-of-five. " In the most conservative estimates", of the 6, 700 people killed in the month; 69.4 percent were shot, 8.8 percent were burned in their homes, 5 percent beaten to death and 2.6 percent were killed following sexual assaults.
More grim, of the killed children under the age-of-five, 59 percent were shot, 15 percent burned to death, 7 percent beaten to death and 2 percent died from landmine blasts.
MSF Medical Director Sidney Wong revealed what the surveys of the Rohingya found: "What we uncovered was staggering, both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member died as a result of violence, and the horrific ways in which they said they were killed or severely injured."
More sad, the aid-group Medical Director added: " The numbers of deaths are likely to be an underestimation as we have not yet surveyed all the refugee settlements in Bangladesh and because the surveys don't account for families who never made it out of Myanmar," the BBC-News reported.
Noting that Rohingya "are still fleeing" Myanmar, MSF described as "premature" a deal between Bangladesh and Myanmar for the return of refugees to Myanmar. The group also cautioned that there was limited access for aid groups into Rakhine state, where most Rohingya live, in Myanmar.
The brutal ethnic-cleansing killing of so many Rohingya people, including hundreds of children by the Myanmar army, explicitly represents a crime against humanity. Therefore, all measures and steps should be taken to bring Myanmar officials before the International Criminal Court(ICC) for crimes against humanity.
December 13, 2017
A Passing on Informedness and Soundness - Democrats Win Alabama Senate Seat
The people of the State of Alabama who turned out yesterday to vote for Democrat Doug Jones, in a special election for the United States(US) Senate, to fill the vacated seat left by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, delivered a much needed passing grade on voter informedness and soundness.
Alabamians elected Democrat Doug Jones to the US Senate and scorned into defeat his Republican opponent, Roy Moore, endorsed by President Donald Trump, even amid credible accusations of sexual misconduct.
In electing Jones, the first Democrat to win in the very red-Republican State since 1992, the people of Alabama denounced the idea of having a senator scarred with numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including pedophilia, as their representative in the very powerful US Senate.
Moreover, Alabamians rejected the Trump endorsement of Moore who campaigned via robo-calls for the defeated Moore. Six women have accused Moore of sexual improprieties, including during the teenage-years of at least one of the accusers. Another 16 women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct.
Alabamians affirmed via their votes that although democracy, informedness and the soundness of voters might be bruised, they are all yet mendable by the people of the Republic.
Black voters turned out in droves in historically scarred places like Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, to cast their votes exceeding 90 percent for Democrat Doug Jones. Jones won with 671, 151 votes - 49.92 percent of the total, to Moore's 650, 436 votes - 48.38 percent. Write-Ins - the protest vote, which allowed constituents to write in the name of some person other than those listed on their ballots, garnished 22, 780 votes.
December 12, 2017
A Test of the Informedness and Soundness of Voters - the Alabama US Senate Vote
The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom(UK) followed by the United States(US) Presidential vote in 2016, which returned shocking results, remain two events that have called into question the informedness of voters and the future face of democracy.
That some UK residents who greatly benefited from their membership within the European Union(EU) voted with the majority to leave the union, was indeed shocking. Even, more stark was the after-decision revelation that many were not informed of the consequences of their votes.
In the 2016 US Presidential Election, Donald Trump poked fun of the physically impaired and has been accused of sexual misconduct by 16 women, among other things. Yet, he remains President of the most powerful nation on the planet, an appalling statement of the state of present American democracy.
Today, in the deep south of the US - a region still holding many scars of historic divisions and social inequalities, a Republican, Roy Moore, accused by six women of sexual misconduct, is running to win a seat in the powerful US Senate.
Moore remains tipped to win the race in spite of the overwhelming revelations of his sexual misconduct toward women, including at least one allegation of pedophilia.
Moore has brushed aside calls from both Republicans and Democrats that he drop out of the race. Democrat Doug Jones is running against him in a district that is heavily Republican, which helped Donald Trump win Alabama by 20 percent in 2016. Trump has endorsed Moore and has campaigned via robo-calls for the alleged pedophile Moore.
Alabama's decision today will answer whether or not the informedness of voters is sound. The people of Alabama will decide if or not American democracy is healthy.
Any seating of Roy Moore in the US Senate here in Washington, DC, would affirm an illness of the democratic process that demands healing forthwith.
December 10, 2017
Human Rights Day 2017
"All mankind...being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions." British Philosopher, John Locke.
Today is the celebrated United Nations(UN) Human Rights Day to commemorate the 1948 adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And to this end, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, has issued a call to defend human rights and to uphold justice.
Yet current affairs, from Syria, to Palestine, to Yemen, to Central African Republic, to Libya, to Myanmar, to Venezuela and across all the continents, reveal that the rights of humankind are under pressure - a pressure that must not be sustained if there is to be any hope or pragmatism to achieving international peace and security.
Protection of the inherent dignity and of the equal and alienable rights of all human beings is therefore required.
While life and liberty have become the established two highest priorities to human rights, safeguards of all human rights should never be compromised.
In order to assure the protection of all human rights, a wider definition of natural rights might have to be adopted. The universal and inalienable rights bestowed upon humankind that are non dependent upon law or customs or upon any particular culture or government, are fundamental to the functioning and operating of good and peaceful governance.
In too many jurisdictions, legal rights - those rights bestowed by a given legal system, are often used to restrict and to subtract from the natural rights of individuals.
Therefore, to retain all human rights, some legal rights that governments could readily suspended, modified, repealed and restricted via human law, might offer better protection under the designation as being inalienable.
In other words, humanity's continued survival could depend on an acceptance of a wider field of alienable rights over legal rights: a smaller social contract yielding to more rights of the individual.
December 09, 2017
Toward Justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta
Last Wednesday, Maltese police arrested 10 people in connection with the slaying of famed respected journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53. Three of the detained suspects have been charged with her murder on October 16.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a dedicated journalist and mother who exposed and reported on Maltese and European corruption. She was killed by a bomb planted in her car that exploded soon after she left her home in Bidnija, near Mosta, Malta on October 16, 2017.
As reported by the BBC-News, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, 55 and 53 as well as Vincent Muscat, 55, have been charged with killing Daphne Caruana Galizia. The other suspects have been charged with possession of bomb-making materials and weapons.
So here's to justice for a fallen journalist, mother and social advocate whose work epitomized the necessity of a free press.
December 08, 2017
Toward the Diffusion of Upheavals and Conflicts
Now that many political and social angers remain inflamed atop new agitations, the task facing humanity on this December day, should be finding the operable mechanisms to diffusing new stirred-up upheavals and ongoing conflicts.
From Palestine, Gaza and the West Bank to Yemen, to Syria, to Venezuela to North Korea, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Egypt, to Spain, to Central Africa Republic as well as to many other lands, the aura to new conflicts or to the prolongation of ongoing conflicts, remains very high.
Humanity cannot attain nor sustain any international peace and security under the pressures of so many ripe conditions for conflicts.
Therefore, a time out, a ceasefire or a silence of inflaming unitary declarations could all be said to be critically needed toward the diffusion of stirred-up upheavals and conflicts.
December 07, 2017
Stoking Upheaval - a Unitary Presidential Declaration on Jerusalem
As if there are not enough ripe or looming hot button issues already before the global community, United States(US) President Donald Trump stoked even more upheaval yesterday with his unitary declaration naming Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Immediate trouble has broken out in the West Bank as demonstrators gather in rage to denounce the broken long-standing US policy that had kept Tel Aviv as the the capital of the Jewish State. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have gone on strike and are taking to the streets in more protests. Additional protests transcends to outside the US consulates in Istanbul, Turkey as well as in Amman, Jordan.
Saudi Arabia has deemed Trump's declaration as "unjustified and irresponsible", while both France and the United Kingdom(UK) do not the support the US action, the BBC-News reported. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had warned that any recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital by Trump, would be a "red line", has responded by determining that Trump is "throwing the region into a ring of fire". French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump's action contravened international law and UN Security Council resolutions.
Jerusalem is home to many sacred sites idolized by Christianity, Islam and Judaism. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967 and it has not been internationally recognized as a part of Israel.
Gaza's Hamas has called for "a day of rage" on Friday in condemnation of the new declaration. Hamas has said that Friday should "be the first day of the intifada against the occupier."
The Palestinian Fatah Movement is filing a complaint with the United Nations(UN) Security Council against Trumps unitary move and it is also calling for a strong stand by the Arab League. " Dr. Nasser al-Kidwa, the group's spokesman, according to the BBC-News, has promised: "We are going to declare the United States disqualified as co-sponsor of any peace process or political process."
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who has often spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians, has affirmed: "...there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B. It is only by realizing the vision of two states(Israel and Palestine) living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine...that the legitimate aspirations of both peoples will be achieved."
The stoked upheaval created by Donald Trump must be rescinded. The two-state solution to peace for Israel and Palestine should be continued through the rational and diplomatic means accorded within the United Nations.
December 06, 2017
Remembering Argentina's 44 - a Watery Fate
Crew members numbering 44 are believed to have perished on the disappeared Argentinian navy submarine ARA San Juan, which went missing, November 15, 2017.
Today, close to a month after the sub disappeared off the Argentine coast, the true fate of the 44-crew and their vessel, remain a mystery. Yet, Argentina's Defense Minister Oscar Aguad, according to a CNN report, believes that the crew did perish in a detected explosion somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean.
In an interview on Argentine television on Monday, the Defense Minister said the extreme conditions and passage of time likely means the sub's crew did not survive.
While unmanned ships continue to search for signs of the ill-fated sub in depths of up to some 20,000 feet, we take a minute to pause in honor of the lost Argentine Navy crew, who died in service to their country. May time, hope and love provide some measure of comfort to their loved ones.
December 05, 2017
Spain Withdraws European Arrest Warrants for Catalan Leaders Exiled in Belgium
The Spanish Supreme Court earlier this morning, rescinded the European arrests warrants that were issued for Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont and five other Catalan leaders, who have been self-exiled in Belgium, following Spain's move in October, to retake the northeast region's autonomy after its declaration of independence.
The ruling by Justice Pablo Llareno of the Madrid court, represents a sensible first logical democratic decision Spain has made per the Catalonia crisis ever since the region held a democratic referendum on sovereignty, back in in October.
The ruling withdraws the Madrid issued European warrants for Puigdemont and five other Catalan leaders in Belgium citing the willingness the leasers have shown to return to Catalonia ahead of new regional elections slated for December 21. Judge Llareno determined the European-wide warrants would complicate the Spanish legal probe and that its removal allows Spain to gain full control over the investigation, the BBC-News reported.
Yet, Puigdemont and the other Catalan leaders still face the likelihood of prosecution on sedition and rebellion charges in Madrid, Spain, where the group fear gaining a fair trial. Puigdemont has said he would return if Spain guaranteed a fair trial.
On the other hand, on Monday in Madrid, a court released another six-Catalan leaders on bail who had been jailed after surrendering to authorities following the Catalonia independence declaration. Another two leaders remain in custody even though the court found that they were not a flight risk, but a risk of criminal reiteration.
Spain's withdrawal of the European warrants for the Catalan leaders is logical and democratic, however, the Spaniards should go further to release all the regional leaders and even reach further to dropping all the charges against Catalonia's leaders. In lieu of charges, Spain should establish a commission to look into the deep concerns of the Catalan region.
Sedition and rebellion are serious charges. Rebellion carries a maximum sentence of 30-years-in-jail in Spain.
While it is easy for government to blame unease on individuals rather than itself, any state seeking to prosecute any individual for a democratic exercise void of violence within a democratic system, is a state in need of repair. Sedition and rebellion are impossible via a democratic process. Catalonia's referendum was a democratic process.
If Spain continues to press for punishments for exercising a democratic process, then that nation appears to be encouraging future non-democratic means by any people seeking sovereignty.