Archive for the ‘Politics Light’ Category

Islam Light

16 January 08

Interesting article on The Economist website about Islam in Indonesia. Good reading for those out there who still believe a certain US presidential candidate is out to bring radical Islamic terrorism to the White House.


Go On! Be Thankful!

27 November 07

I should have posted this on Thanksgiving, but why restrict being thankful to just one day!?

From Foreign Policy magazine, 5 reasons we should all be thankful:

  1. Your plane isn’t going to crash! Better safety standards make air flight incredibly safe! (I can vouch for this one!)
  2. Fewer kids are dying. Health care basics like vaccines, mosquito nets, breastfeeding, clean water and better access to health professionals are saving children’s lives.
  3. Wars are history. Armed conflicts fell by 40 percent between 1993 and 2003.
  4. Poverty is down. Fewer people are living on $1 a day – from 1.5 billion people in 1981 to 985 million in 2004.
  5. You’re living to retirement. We’re living longer lives all over the globe thanks to modern medicine and improved sanitation.

Sounds great to me! And here I thought the end of the world was nigh. Read more details at FP.

Read This

3 September 07

Every wonder why American intelligence services and the state department don’t seem to know what is really happening in the world?

I suspect that if the CIA were looking for a former nurse, with a master’s in library science, undergrad in Spanish, who has lived in Kuwait, Costa Rica, Spain, Canada & China, and is married to a Spanish citizen, well, let’s just say I’d qualify, but I doubt I’d get a security clearance.

Read this and find out why: Do Area Studies Students Hate America? I can think of no better person to gather intelligence information than someone who has been in the area and knows the local culture and language. It is well-documented that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are bereft of fluent speakers in Arabic and other important languages. Is this any way to fight terrorism?

Go Ahead, Listen In!

7 August 07

Is anyone else concerned about the fact that we, America, now have a law that allows warrant-less eavesdropping on emails and telephone calls going in and out of the country? Just wondering…

Project Censored

31 May 07

Expand your mind a bit with the top 25 censored stories of 2007. Among the stories are:

  1. Future of Internet Debate
  2. Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
  3. Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
  4. Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
  5. High-Tech Genocide in the Congo
  6. Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
  7. US Operatives Tortured Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
  8. Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act
  9. The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall
  10. Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians
  11. Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods Confirmed
  12. Pentagon Plans to Build New Landmines
  13. New Evidence Establishes Danger of Roundup
  14. Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US
  15. Chemical Industry is EPA’s Primary Research Partner
  16. Ecuador and Mexico Defy US on International Criminal Court
  17. Iraq Invasion Promotes OPEC Agenda
  18. Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
  19. Destruction of Rainforests Worst Ever
  20. Bottled Water: A Global Environmental Problem
  21. Gold Mining Threatens Ancient Andean Glaciers
  22. $Billions in Homeland Security Spending Undisclosed
  23. US Oil Targets Kyoto in Europe
  24. Cheney’s Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year
  25. US Military in Paraguay Threatens Region

As far as I can tell, many of these stories come from known newspapers and organizations. Whether you agree with their findings or not, it is always valuable to read something from different points of view.  Project Censored is a media research group with Sonoma State University. They track news stories printed in independent journals and newsletters, pointing out the most underreported stories in the mainstream press.

The Future for China

25 May 07

No doubt you’ve heard that China is exporting all sorts of exciting chemicals in normal household products and foods, in order to liven things up a bit. I mean, who wants regular old toothpaste when you can have toothpaste that shares ingredients with anti-freeze?! You can even get it in your cough syrup! Why feed your pets plain old purina when they could have enhanced kibble and melamine bits?!

America might be astonished, but I am not. Corruption can and will lead to all manner of truly horrendous things. Corruption is not isolated to China, but it seems to be more rampant here than anywhere else I have been. And it is not just American pet owners and Central American cough syrup purchasers who are suffering because of it. Corruption kills thousands, every day, right here in China.

From last year’s benzene spill in Northern China to the everyday chemical run-off and dumping, China’s rivers are ribbons of waste and foul. Save a few in the deep south, such as the Li River in Guangxi Province,  they are so toxic that fish no longer survive and there are entire cancer villages springing up along their shores. Go ahead and take the no-longer-scenic Three Gorges cruise. Just try not to look too closely at the gruel floating alongside your boat.

Illegal coal mines dot the Chinese interior. When they burn and explode, as they do almost daily, their owners grab the cash and flee the country, without even bothering to  notify the rescue crews because they fear getting caught. Illegal coal burning power plants pop up like corn shoots all across the industrial belt South of Beijing. They don’t even bother with emissions reducing scrubbers. So the surrounding land is permanently bathed in a brown, ashy cloud? The managers and owners have the local officials in their pockets, and they can all afford to escape to crystal clear skies whenever they want.

The victims, as always, are the peasants. Mao aimed to bring an end to the feudalism that ruled China for thousands of years, to serve the people. Now a new feudalism rules the land. The power of money and greed are the new values.

China faces a bigger battle than we can imagine. The foes? Unbelievable, pervasive corruption. So-called harmony fees (bribes) are a way of life. Local officials do whatever they can to enrich themselves at any cost. Environmental degradation. How can you prosper when you can’t even breathe or grow anything in toxic land? The widening gap between the rich and poor. Deng Xiaoping told the Chinese people to enrich themselves. But at what cost? The peasantry – the have-nots have seen the glittery audis, plush apartments, new nikes and alcohol fueled feasts of the haves and they are not happy. Morals and values. Rodney Dangerfield isn’t the only one – not even the elders get respect anymore. The Confucian backbone of China is weakening as the commercialized and consumer driven youth forget or ignore or don’t get taught the lessons of the past.

China faces a long march forward – but she’s survived in the past and I hope she can this time, too. I point out these problems because I want China to succeed. I want China to emerge from the  detritus of the past 60 years triumphant – and free. There are too many good people and too much history for it to be any other way.

So Long, Saddam

5 November 06

Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang.

How do I feel about that? I don’t really like to talk about the impending death of anyone. I’ll be honest that I am a pacifist. I think it is difficult to be in the medical profession, especially in the role of a nurse, and not be a pacifist. However, I do not feel any sorrow for Saddam.

I’ve seen his handiwork in Kuwait. I was there after the first Gulf War and I saw firsthand what the Iraqi invasion did to the country. Saddam hurt his own people – the Marsh Arabs, the Kurds, all Iraqis – to an even greater extent. He is a mad, mad man and he deserves his punishment.

My time in China was blissfully free of reality. I hardly heard a word about the war in Iraq, and if I did it was in Chinese and I couldn’t understand it. I think to some extent I purposefully walled myself off from the war – I had internet access after all. Only recently have I started to listen to news channels again. Only recently have I paused on Iraq stories. Only recently did I find a world of blogs that shared Iraqi viewpoints. (Iraqis on Global Voices)

There are many horrific things happening in the world right now, and there are no easy answers to any of the conflicts. It is all so complex that I am reminded of why I chose not to pay attention while in China.
It all feels hopeless. The execution of Saddam should have brought a sense of justice to the Iraqis who suffered under his rule, but with no sense of calm, safety, nor end to the war, I’m afraid it is an empty victory.

Politics Light

3 November 06

I don’t really like to talk politics, but I love reading about politics. Until now. Until the US election machine began to roll. I am very, very grateful that I am not actually in the US right now so I don’t have to watch all the dirty campaign ads. The online newspaper stories are bad enough.

I just have one question. (Actually four.) Is it possible for America to be bipartisan? Can’t we all just get along? Do we really have to be with “them” or against “them”? (Not that I know who “them” is.) Do we have to be a nation so divided?