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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Back again

New Chancellor in Germany

What this means remains to be seen, but Germany has a new chancellor in Angela Merkel. For the time being, politicians, business leaders, and church officials all send their best to her.

What will be interesting is to see how she responds to Chirac's most recent call for Germany and France to give the EU a "new impulse."

Well-Wishers Congratulate Merkel

Bush proposed Bombing Al Jeezera

Here is a report that would make many hawks happy. Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera TV in Qatar for making reports behind enemy lines and for showing dead American bodies.

Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera TV station in Qatar

Bush made clear he wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem. There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do - and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it," a source told the tabloid.A government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious." But another source declared: "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men."


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Sunday, November 20, 2005

New

China not to ape West: Hu tells Bush
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Monday, September 26, 2005

Can there be any doubt that this is the next coming crisis?

If we all do not act soon the Avian flu will make terrorism seem like a walk in the park, at least in terms of the number of people who may die. National Geographic recently estimated that if the virus that causes the flu can mutate so as to make human to human transmission possible, we can expect 180-360 millions deaths worldwide. Shocking to say the least.

Indonesia is now in the midst of a battle with the flu and it is one that they are ill-prepared to face.

It seems as if few countries have the motivation or will to deal with this crisis. The BBC writes:

Plans for a global response to a mass outbreak of bird flu in humans are taking shape, but are far from complete. Public health experts and epidemiologists are issuing shrill warnings about the dangers a pandemic would pose to human health around the world. Any confirmation that the H5N1 bird flu virus has become capable of human-to-human transmission will send the World Health Organisation's pandemic alert level, currently at Level 3, soaring towards the highest state of danger, Level 6.

Here is another useful link from the BBC on some of the basic issues surrounding the Avian flu:

Q&A: Avian flu

Here is the must read National Geographic link on the Avian Flu:

Next Killer Flu
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Sunday, September 25, 2005

There has to be more than one way to achieve peace . . .

While policy makers in Iraq are insisting on a model that proclaims that we cannont leave without victory, it is becoming more evident that they are not seeking alternatives that might actually be effective. I am certain that military planners do not see it this way, but it seems as if the public face of the administration holds that the war cannot be abandoned until every last terrorist is dead. Of course, this is a difficult position to hold considering we have no control over how the "terrorists" get into Iraq and we really have no decent way to identify them. However, what if a cease fire were drawn up, we started to withdraw and they Iraq Parliament really had to come to some hard compromises. And, what if amnesty were given to all parties? Is this so unthinkable? Is it justice? Hardly, but we are looking for a peaceful solution that helps to move Iraq forward. Algeria is trying this very solution right now. The president of Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stated

Reconciliation, in my view, must protect us from experiencing once again the two evil phenomena of terrorist violence and extremism, which brought us misfortune and destruction.

This is also the path that South Africa took and they were able to avoid a serious civil war at the end of apartheid. It seems that many see the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a success, while it was not always ideal.

More Restrictions on Chinese Internet

China continues to put the shackles on freedom of the press. I posted on this the other day and it is only getting worse. Expect more bad news to come.

One ought to read the message from the Dalai Lama. He may be an idealist, but it is always nice to read some one who believes that war is something that ought to be avoided at all costs.

Some of his words from a previous address:

Today, the world is so small and so interdependent that the concept of war has become anachronistic, an outmoded approach. As a rule, we always talk about reform and changes. Among the old traditions, there are many aspects that are either ill-suited to our present reality or are counterproductive due to their shortsightedness. These, we have consigned to the dustbin of history. War too should be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Unfortunately, although we are in the 21st century, we still have not been able to get rid of the habit of our older generations. I am talking about the belief or confidence that we can solve our problems with arms. It is because of this notion that the world continues to be dogged by all kinds of problems.
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Friday, September 23, 2005

There are still many things to worry about in China

One aspect of conventional wisdom that pervades our government concerning China is the idea that capitalism will lead to democracy. This is not a new or a Bush Administration belief, though they continue to hold it. There are of course some hard core conservatives that see China as a potential military threat, but that is not the Bush Administration. However, there continues to be abundant evidence that China is no where near a democratic regime. The CCP still rules with an iron hand.

Among the many problems that exist in China today is 1) no rule of law, 2) no freedom of expression, and 3) rampant corruption. Given those three factors, it is hard to imagine how China will be democratic any time soon, despite the opening of Hong Kong Disney.

China's model for a censored Internet
Some worry China's controls could be copied elsewhere.

China Lectured by Taiwan Ally

Deep Flaws, and Little Justice, in China's Court System

India, on the other hand, might be a model in how to run things. If one can live through the tremendous mess and frequent setbacks that often accompany democracy, one might actually come up with something that is worth fighting for. The beauty of democracies is that they are fluid, flexible, and innovative. It is hard to say that India is not all those things.

As India's economy soars, its airports and roads can't keep up

I will post more on how we can get North Korea to a better place. But they place they are in, is still bad . . . very, very bad.

North Korea's agreement to scrap its nukes
An agreement in principle was the first step. Details will be addressed in November talks.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Been a long time, but I'm back

This is truly worth reading. I am always fascinated by the idea that God may or may not be punishing someone for something. There are those in the Middle East who believe that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God as punishment for the sins of America.

Trivial Pursuit

There are, of course, many Islamic thinkers who think otherwise.

Fear God, everybody. This talk is shameful, and it is even against the
values of any religion to celebrate the tragedies of others, [like] those
10,000 people, including men, women, children, and seniors, most of them
poor and black. It is shameful for the adherent to any faith, whether
Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, to detract from his own humanity. Those
people are human beings before they are Americans. The truly religious
person should be humanitarian before everything else. We must not allow
religiosity to blind us.

More on everything else tomorrow.
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Saturday, August 20, 2005

More News

Israel's Unique History

It is very interesting to think that given the stressful environment in which Israel has had to exist that it has never had a coup or civil war. Even more amazing is how Israel has thrived in this environment.

How Will the Palestinian Authority Resolve Property Rights?

It seems to me that one of the most burdensome problems that the PA will face is determining how to resolve the distribution of the land left by the Israeli settlers. There will seemingly be little in way of options that will make everyone happy. I can imagine that the PA will take control of it initially. However, if they resolve simply to distribute it to political favorites or to those in power, it will seriously damage the PA. It will be hard to overcome the legacy of Arafat. (The Atlantic has a great article "In a Ruined Country: How Yasir Arafat destroyed Palestine" that is worth reading.)

Militants May Destroy Chance for Peace

Can there really be any serious move towards peace with groups like Hamas out there? It is still shocking that Palestinians even tacitly support such groups.

Did the United States Miss an Opportunity?

I often wonder what other countries think of the United States when it comes to issues like seeking the death of an avowed enemy. For example, does the world think that we are special because we are willing to take things like an assassination as a very serious matter and are more than likely to opt against using it as a method to resolve problems? Or does the world think that we are weak? I certainly don't know. CIA Director Porter Goss seems to think that we play on the side of being too fair when asked whether we know where Osama bin Laden is he replied that we have an excellent idea. He then said, "We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.
"We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community."
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