Wednesday, March 02, 2005
"US opposes Oklahoma headscarf ban," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3585377.stm, 31 March 2004.
"Muslim girl wins dress appeal," This is London, http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/16979456?source=PA, 2 March 2005.
Anglo-Saxon Freedom, French Bigotry
A Muslim girl today won her battle to wear traditional "head-to-toe" dress in the classroom after the Court of Appeal ruled her school had acted unlawfully in barring her.
Shabina Begum, 15, accused the head teachers and governors of Denbigh High School, Luton, Beds, of denying her the "right to education and to manifest her religious beliefs".
Lord Justice Brooke, vice president of the civil division of the Court of Appeal, called on the Department of Education to give schools more guidance on how to comply with their obligations under the Human Rights Act.
He ruled that that her school had:
# Unlawfully excluded her
# Unlawfully denied her the right to manifest her religion
# Unlawfully denied her access to suitable and appropriate education.
The US justice department has filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim girl who was twice sent home from school for wearing a headscarf.
The education authorities said the hijab breached the dress code of the school in Oklahoma.
But the justice department says it amounts to religious discrimination.
America has a long history of giving refuge to immigrants who "dress funny"
Unlike some places, like
Update: Big Pharoah is less-than-pleased.
Update 2: Some kook with an obscure blog is a fan.
Update 3: When "liberal" "progress" is more important than liberty, freedom, or tradition. Why I am not a leftist.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
"German jobless rate at new record," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4307303.stm, 1 March 2005 (from DU).
Remember when German unemployment was higher than any time since the Nazis?
It just got worse
Unemployment in Germany is at record levels
More than 5.2 million Germans were out of work in February, new figures show.
The figure of 5.216 million people, or 12.6% of the working-age population, is the highest jobless rate in Europe's biggest economy since the 1930s.
The news comes as the head of Germany's panel of government economic advisers predicted growth would again stagnate.
Speaking on German TV, Bert Ruerup said the panel's earlier forecast of 1.4% was too optimistic and warned growth would be just 1% in 2005.
Different numbers are being thrown around by different groups, but the news is bad. Germany is going through the same sort of malaise that Thatcher inherited in 1970's Britain. Berlin's unemployment reforms may help the problem (they helpd at .5% to the rolls this month), though the weakness of the economy is at the supply end.
Friday, February 25, 2005
42 high school students are forced to kill each other on an uninhabited island
Battle Royale 2: Requiem (spoilers within)
Three years after the events in "Battle Royale," Some Japanese Guy is a well-known terrorist bent on bringing down the government. In response, they order the creation of the "Battle Royale 2" program, and send a class of junior-high students to catch and kill him.
Battle Royale 3: Chancellor of the Extermination
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown chats with Chinese middle school students during his visit to China's capital Beijing
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
"The War We Haven't Finished," by Frank C. Carlucci, New York Times, http://nytimes.com/2005/02/22/opinion/22carlucci.html, 22 February 2005.
First, I was angry. Then I was horrified. Then I was resigned. Then I knew.
The world reacted in horror six years ago when the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic embarked on an ethnic cleansing operation against Kosovo's Albanians, forcing 700,000 people, nearly half the population, to flee the province. Reports of massacres and images of mileslong lines of refugees fleeing into neighboring Albania and Macedonia compelled the world to act. The NATO air campaign against Serbia that followed convinced Belgrade to give up its brutal assault, and Kosovo was put under United Nations administration.
And so it remains to this day: an international protectorate, legally part of Serbia, but with a 90 percent ethnic Albanian population that would sooner go to war than submit to Belgrade's rule. Kosovars seek an independent state, and the seemingly endless delays over final-status talks are only causing deep frustration and resentment.
Their discontent is not simply a matter of hurt pride over national sovereignty; Kosovo's unsettled international status has serious repercussions for daily life. Because it is under United Nations administration, Kosovo is in economic limbo: it cannot be part of the international bank transfer system, it is ineligible for sovereign lending from development banks, and it can attract few foreign investors. With 70 percent unemployment, the province is being starved of the commerce it badly needs.
The United Nations' brutality once confused me. Whever blue helmets go, horrible suffering follows. Few organizations would disarm civilian populations and heard them into ghettos to be slaughtered, but the U.N. did. Few organizations would allow its peacekeepers to fire at refugees while the refugees are being slaughtered by machete-wielding thugs, but the U.N. did. When I thought at the uncalculating evil the United Nations represented, the only moral response seemed to be withdrawal.
But the violence is calculating. The evil is intentional. Whether or not corrupt aparatchicks like Kofi Annan know this isn't an issue. The U.N sends a clear message to the world: Act up and we will mess you up.
Tom Barnett wrote of a Wolfowitz Reconstruction as a veiled threat, but U.N. peacekeeping is far worse. The U.N has abetted ethnic cleansing, genocide (by its surreal standards), "emergency sex, and countless other evils.
The United Nations offers a hobbesian, criminally reckless system administrator to the world. By implementing Barnett's vision we can do better. In the meantime, the U.N. is better than a vacuum.
But not by much.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
"Leaders' statement on Iraq: Full text," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2708877.stm, 30 January 2003.
"Chirac lashes out at 'new Europe'," CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/02/18/sprj.irq.chirac/, 18 February 2003.
Tuesday, February 18, 2003 Posted: 10:06 AM EST (1506 GMT)
Old news. But in the face of revisionism it's nice to look back at the run-up to the Iraq War.
About the time eight European nations came together to endorse the Iraq War
The Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represent a clear threat to world security.
This danger has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations.
All of us are bound by Security Council Resolution 1441, which was adopted unanimously.
We Europeans have since reiterated our backing for Resolution 1441, our wish to pursue the UN route and our support for the Security Council, at the Prague Nato Summit and the Copenhagen European Council.
In doing so, we sent a clear, firm and unequivocal message that we would rid the world of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
We must remain united in insisting that his regime is disarmed.
The solidarity, cohesion and determination of the international community are our best hope of achieving this peacefully. Our strength lies in unity.
The combination of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism is a threat of incalculable consequences.
Jacque Chirac acted like a spoiled child, calling on the nations France did so little to liberate from tyranny to "shut up"
French President Jacques Chirac has attacked eastern European countries hoping to join the EU, saying they missed a great opportunity to "shut up" when they signed letters backing the U.S. position on Iraq.
France has been a leading voice against Washington's press for war in Iraq to disarm President Saddam Hussein and is insisting weapons inspectors in the country be given more time.
But 13 countries either set to join the EU or in membership talks have signed letters supporting the United States.
"Romania and Bulgaria were particularly irresponsible. If they wanted to diminish their chances of joining Europe they could not have found a better way," Chirac said.
The French Republic.... of blighted unilateralism
Thursday, February 10, 2005
"Tilting Westward," The Economist, http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3599661, 27 January 2005.
"EU plans special envoy to help end Moldova strife," by Sebastian Alison, Reuters, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/B686612.htm, 8 February 2005.
"Moldova Ends Iraq Mission," Baku Today, http://www.bakutoday.net/view.php?d=12349, 10 February 2005.
Putin's incompetence sends another piece of the old Empire hurtling towards Brussels
When Victor Yushchenko won the Ukrainian presidency, many Russians declared that Russia had “lost” Ukraine thanks to western meddling. Yet in Moldova, Russia is proving quite capable of losing an ally without western help. Four years ago, Moldova's Communist Party won election by promising pro-Russian policies, including eventual union with Russia and Belarus. Now they are chasing re-election in March by promising pro-western policies, including integration with the European Union. They changed course because even they could not stomach Russia's strategy of keeping Moldova divided and weak.
If there was any hope for pro-Russia factions before the governments about-face, Romanian-Ukrainian joint action would torpedo it
A better and more open government in Moldova will deserve a lot more international help, starting with the neighbours. Romania is already offering diplomatic support. Ukraine could offer vital practical help. Transdniestria's smugglers and arms salesmen—the backbone of the economy, along with a big Ukrainian-owned steelworks—trade through Ukraine, especially via Odessa. The Ukrainian government could cripple Transdniestria by policing the common border tightly. But that would upset Ukrainians.
The now anti-Russian Communist Party decides on an election stunt: withdrawing all twelve soldiers from Iraq.
A group of 12 Moldovan minesweepers returned from Iraq Thursday, ending a six-month deployment in the US-led coalition forces, defense officials said here.
Moldova is in full swing of an election campaign ahead of parliamentary polls early next month and therefore the question of sending more troops to Iraq cannot be raised at the present time, the ministry said.
Europe worries about another "Kaliningrad," named after the Russian Baltic State spiraling into misery. Kaliningrad is surrounded by the EU already, and talk of geographical determinism certainly doesn't hurt Europe's case.
If Moldova is to achieve deep and irreversible change, however, the EU must offer it a clear path towards eventual membership. It has done this for the Balkan countries, which are no more European and no less troubled than Moldova. Its reluctance to talk of membership for Ukraine looks short-sighted: when Ukraine joins the queue, geography will dictate giving a place to Moldova too. The sooner the process is started, the less the danger of either country wobbling off-course.
This assumes that the Transdniestrian problem will, in effect, solve itself, as the future benefits of EU integration outweigh those of separatism. But Russia will be a big obstacle. At worst, it might even step up its military presence in Transdniestria, to make a second Kaliningrad: a Russian fortress in south-east Europe. The best counter-strategy would be to confront the Russians openly over what they are protecting in Transdniestria: a big, ugly smuggling racket, with a piece of land attached. Even Russia may not want to spend too much political capital in such a cause.
To head it off, the EU prepares for peaceful annexation
The European Union plans to appoint a special envoy to Moldova to help end a frozen conflict in the breakaway Dnestr region as EU interest in the tiny ex-Soviet state picks up, diplomats said on Tuesday.
The move signals Brussels' desire to bring about an end to the disputed Russian military presence in Europe's poorest country before Moldova's neighbour Romania joins the EU in 2007.
"There is no doubt that there is an increase in interest and attention in Moldova," Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, told Reuters. "The role of the European Union can only be useful."
More and better connectivity with Brussels than Moscow. The EU is useful as a force for Russian dissolution.
"Bush to ask congress for $100m for Poland," China View, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-02/10/content_2567438.htm, 10 February 2005.
"Morocco, Poland to strengthen economic relations," Arab News, http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/050210/2005021028.html, 10 February 2005.
As we build on our Polish alliance
US President George W. Bush says he would ask Congress for 100 million US dollars to help modernize armed forces in Poland, a staunch ally in the war in Iraq.
During an Oval Office meeting with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Bush said on Wednesday that he was confident that Congress would approve the money.
The military aid is fifty percent more than the United States gave Poland last year.
The money will be part of the war funding request the White House is expected to submit to Congress next week.
Poland cements connectivity in the expeditionary theater of the Global War on Terrorism
Polish businessmen convened, in Cassablanca Wednesday, with members of the Casablanca Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services to discuss means to reinforce bilateral trade cooperation.
This meeting offered the opportunity to Moroccan businessmen to inform their Polish peers on various Moroccan economy aspects, and to discuss, with them, bilateral cooperation possibilities.
In this regard, the Moroccan officials highlighted the importance that Morocco accords to relations with Poland, and, recalling the FTAs that Morocco concluded with the US, Turkey and some Arab states. They also said the kingdom has the potentials to become an important platform for Polish investors.
These meetings fall within the framework of a four-day visit to Morocco of a Polish delegation of MPs and businessmen, led by the Speaker of the Polish Senate, Longin Pastusiak.
Given EU-wide trade restrictions, I do not know exactly what bilateral deals Morocco and Poland and strike. But whatever it is, moves for competitive liberalization and increased ties are great news. We will win the GWOT as trade and freedom snowball for global liberty. A global herd, running downhill, will crush disconnectedness.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
"Russia Says It's Ready to Arm Saudi Arabia," by Lyuba Pronina, The Moscow Times, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/02/10/043.html, 10 February 2005 (from Democratic Underground).
"Landmark Civic Polls Start Today," by Raid Qusti and Nasser Al-Salti, Arab News, http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=58768&d=10&m=2&y=2005&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom, 10 February 2005.
In the first non-story, our near-ally Russia agrees to sell military equipment to our near-ally Saudi Arabia, building on a base of selling to near-allies China, India, and Morocco
Moscow is preparing its first major defense contract with Saudi Arabia, the world's largest arms buyer that has traditionally spent its petrodollars on U.S.-made weapons.
The deal is part of a strategy aimed at diversifying Russia's arms buyers away from China and India, Sergei Chemezov, general director of state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told reporters Wednesday.
Russia also signed an arms contract with Morocco last month, he said, the first since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Make that, outdated military equipment.
Rosoboronexport has orders of $12 billion through 2007, but Chemezov said that this year Rosoboronexport can expect to make $1 billion less in revenues.
"The reason? Our companies cannot produce more modern weapons. [The industry] is in need of investment either from private companies or from the state," he said. "Today we sell weapons that were designed in the late 1970s and early 1980s."
By itself, this is a puny deal. It's chump change for obsolete and useless rockets. It is notable because it shows Saudi displeasure about... something. This signals they don't like something that is going on, or something that we are making them do. Now what could that be?
Saudi citizens are set to cast their first ballots in history when Riyadh region goes to the polls in the first of a landmark municipal elections.
Today’s polls in Riyadh and surrounding areas are the first of three rounds that will eventually see elected representatives take up half the seats on 178 municipal councils across Saudi Arabia.
The remaining seats will be filled by government appointees. The rest of the country will vote in March and April.
"Democractic-style" elections in Araby. This is the second non-story. It's only for local councils, and only for half of local seats at that. I could care less about women not voting -- heck, even a 10% suffrage would be an improvement. But a vote for half the seats on useless councils is the bare minimum. The bare minimum we are forcing them to do.
Asked about the reasons of the substantial differences between the total number of voters in the Riyadh region and of that in the Eastern Province, Prince Mansoor attributed the larger number in the Eastern Province to the efforts exerted by the local committee’s chairman Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin.
These elections are phony. But that the Eastern Province is a different polity is not. The Iraqi Shias have their country, and when the decrepit and cynical Tehran government is overthrown the Persians shall have theirs too. And with free Shia across the desert, and free Shia across the gulf, the Eastern Province Shia shall wake up. And from their dreamlands they will take their freedom and their oil from the Riyadhi Wahabis.
And that will be the story of the House of Saud.
"Photo Album," Yulia Timoshenko - personal web site, http://www.tymoshenko.com.ua/eng/photo/ (from South Dakota Politics).
The peacefully rising of the Ukrainian people, especially those in the Catholic west, called the "Orange Revolution" was important. The Clinton-McCain Statement was important. That Ukraine is now on the border of the future is important. Partially for democracy in that land. Partially for democracy throughout the former Soviet reich. And partially to bring the world Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.
This photo, and more, available from Madame Prime Minister's gallery. Is it possible for any human being to be more like the ideal Dagny Taggart?
Monday, February 07, 2005
MOSUL, Iraq (Army News Service, Feb. 3, 2005) -- An estimated $25 million is being spent to construct 100 new border forts along the northern borders of Iraq, as well as rehabilitate and enhance numerous points of entry.
In several northern provinces, 34 forts are currently under construction and 66 others are planned to start in the coming months.
“Renovations will take approximately two to three months and new forts will take about six,” explained Capt. Dave Bouffard, battalion civil engineer for the 133 ECB(H). “The forts are being constructed using a concrete masonry process that maximizes the use of locally available materials. All construction is being done by local Iraqis. No Coalition Forces are participating in the actual construction.”
“The forts function as the Iraqi border patrol’s command outpost from which they run 24-7 operations,” explained Bouffard. “All forts include living quarters and office space, as well as independent life support sources for water, fuel, power generation and sewer.”
“We know how important it is to prevent foreigners from coming into Iraq,” said Wilson Myers, Project and Contracting Office representative for Iraq’s northern governorates – Dahok, Irbil and Ninewa. PCO is the contracting agency for distribution of the construction funds. “We are focused on properly equipping and manning the force in order to protect freedom for a sovereign Iraq.”
Wikipedia shows that these "northern governorates" are Kurdish provinces bordering Turkey. Adding this to earlier news of forts on the Saudi, Jordanian, and Turkish borders, it is further proof of our committment to free movement of people between Iraq and Iran.
(Parenthetically, to answer the question of the anti-immigration right, "When do we get our border forts [with Mexico]?," the answer is never. Just as we are building a Shia sphere in the Greater Middle East, we are continuing the work of President Madison in united a North American Sphere at home.)
Clearly one purpose for connecting Iraq to Iran is to put pressure on the Shia Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. But why are forts going up on the Iraqi Kurdistan - Turkish Kurdistan border? One possibility is that the pressure is coming from the Kurds, showing Turkey that 1990s-styles interventions in Iraq will not be tolerated. Alternatively, pressure for the forts could be coming from Baghdaders trying to enforce an artificial border in the Kuridsh homeland.
I believe it is the former. The Kurds are too strong militarily for an anti-Kurd system of forts to appear on the border. "All construction is being done by local Iraqis" means that Kurds are in charge of these forts in their construction, and they are doubtless manning them now. And if they are truly self-supporting, the Kurds will be manning them until they are united with their Turkish brothers.