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May 09 2011

More freedoms for Cuba?

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Cuba is taking large steps in an attempt to make international travel more available for their people. Right now, Congress agreed to “study a policy that will allow Cuban residents in the country to travel abroad as tourists”. Actually action and policy change has not been discussed. It should be noted that Cubans are not forbidden from international travel, but must go through a series of requirements and fees must be paid before an exit visa can be granted.

Alongside this, Cuba has also made an official statement that “it is legalizing the sale of real-estate and cars and expanding the ranks of private cooperatives that could serve as engines for the spluttering economy, among other major changes”

These new reforms will hopefully pull Cuba’s economy out of a deep fiscal “morass” while keeping the communist values Fidel Castro established.

Alongside the guidelines for the resale of cars, converting public buildings into housing for residents to ease the housing shortages.

Actions like these will hopefully be a positive impact upon Cuba, however will the government still be able to maintain strong control over their people with these more freedoms? Allowing them to leave and travel and learn more about international and domestic policy will the people of Cuba still be in support  of communism?

May 09 2011

Criticisms and Support on New Asylum plan, will it work?

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A new deal has been struck between Australia and Malaysia. Now refugees will be removed over to Malaysia so as to decrease incentives for Human Traffikiing. If you are found in Australian waters without documentation you will be immediately shipped over to Malaysia where your case will have further hearing. “this landmark agreement will help take away the product people smugglers are trying to sell- a ticket to Australia” said Prime Minister Julia Gillard. This plan is estimated to cost Australia 300 million ($320 million in US). Many of those who are seeking asylum are from areas like Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Indonesia all arriving on “leaky fishing vessles”. Through thses actions Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has now been opened to house asylum seekers. Critics of this plan, such as Tony Abott; conservative opposition leader, are sing this this plan will turn Malaysia into “a back-door to Australia”. Human rights groups are now comparing this motion to the “Pacific Solution”, in which boats were sent to a pacific detention center. However to counteract this accusation, Deputy Prime Misiters says that UN agencies will be involved to remediated any issues. The finalized plan, is that those who move from Malaysia to Australia will be deemed refugees and will be treated with respect and dignity. However, “Malaysia has a horrendous track record — infamous for its ill and brutal treatment of refugees and other undocumented migrants and has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s worst place for refugees to be in,”  It is said that this will be good for Malaysia in bringing in labor, and money, but what will be the repercussions on the refuges and Australia? Despite all of these criticisms the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has stated that is it pleased with this arrangement for resettlement of asylum seekers, though many now are disputing the UN’s support since Malaysia is not part of the UN refugee convention, and since they have such a horrible reputation for taking care of their refugees this does not bode well for the UN.  A stipulation of this plan by the UN is that asylum seekers are not to be sent back to their main country or wherever they are fleeing from. Wih all this controversy, and yet support and backing from the UN it will be very interesting to see how this pans out. Either it will be a great success and bring money into both economies, or it will be a disaster as many have predicted and place vulnerable people in an even worse situation.

May 09 2011

Religious Strife in Egypt

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In Egypt 12 died in a recent religious strife. This is the worst reported after another strife reported on March 9th where 13 people where killed when a church was burned down. This event was set off after a woman was rumored to have been abducted to Islam. It is expected that 190 people re to be tried for violence. On Sunday both Muslims and Christians ran running through the streets of Cairo where fights eventually broke out. Eventually they died down later into the night. Prime minister Essam Sharaf canceled his tour of the Gulf of Arab states  to handle to bubbling turmoil between Christians and Muslims. In an attempt to handle the riots and acts of violence justice minister Mohamed el-Guindy stated; “Gatherings around places of worship will be banned to protect their sanctity and ensure the security of residents and prevent sectarian strife,”. After which there was a gathering of 500 or so Muslims to demand that that Christians who took the woman turn her over. The government is reluctant to take strong action against these extremists so as not to be accused of suppressing these movements. Having said this in Arab News, Egyptians Officials threatened to use iron hand to maintain law and order. Both Christian and Muslim peacekeeping advocates were pelted with stones after an attempt to meet in front of Cairo’s High Court. It was estimated that 12 peopl were killed and 232 injured. The families of those killed will be paid 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($840) and to those who were injured will be paid 2,000 pounds ($336). “Ali Gomaa condemned the clashes and said they “were toying with Egypt’s national security””.

May 02 2011

Bin Laden Dead, more to come?

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In light of the glorious and victorious news of the death of Bin laden there are many things to consider. First is the response of his death. State side this is the uplifting news that has brought closure to many individuals who has lost someone in the 9/11 attacks. Being someone who has lost a member of my family, there are no words I can really express. Words don’t seem to do it justice. As flocks of people gathered in centralized areas like NYC, Washington D.C. and Boston Massachusetts it gave us just a taste of the unity and sense of community we all felt on that horrific day. Obama praised “the people who gathered spontaneously at the White House and in New York to celebrate bin Laden’s death, saying that it embodied the true spirit and patriotism of America”.  The DNA tested was above a 99.9 % meaning that the man killed was in fact Osama bin Laden. The White house is now debating whether or not they should release photos of the body since the body was buried at seat and within Islamic religious rule. Anonymity is crucial in the unveiling of the planned attack on Osama’s compound. There have already been vows of revenge form a top al-Qaida ideologue. Postings on an extremist website say that “the Islamic holy war against the West is far from over”. “woe to his enemies. By God, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam. Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them: Let us wait a little bit”. Though it is suspected that much of the day-to-day running of this terrorist organization, Osama still stands as a figure head, one that instills and inspires jihadists all around. Such belief in him is exemplified further from the extremist website that goes on to say, “Which country managed to attack the pentagon? Which countries managed to send the most powerful country in the world to decline? The one who did that is a nation called Osama bin Laden.” The faith and support of such a figure will undoubtedly cause counteraction on their part.

Issues from the CIA director Leon Panetta have been warned to Americans worldwide, “though Bin Laden is dead, al Qaedais not. The terrorists will almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must remain vigilant and resolute.”. However I wonder if the phrase, revenge is a dish best served cold applies here. al-Qaida will know we are anticipating an attack and will be more attuned to odd behavior. Do you think they will bide their time? Or is the anger so strong towards us that they will act as fast as possible.

Apr 27 2011

Mexico overcome by Drug Related Killings

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Increased in murders and unveiled mass graves have led to a crisis in Mexico. Unearthed bodies have risen to 279 only this month. Since 2006, when the drug war began, 37,000 have died. The Zetas cartel is the leading suspect for most of the turmoil that is going on within the disrupted country, this is the same group that has been accused of migrant killings. One man has confessed to killing more than 200 people, he is affiliated with the Zetas cartel. Interior Secretary has vowed to increase the presence of troops and federal police, especially in places where most of the murders have occurred. In most of the reported killings, victims have been pulled off of buses “traveling though the San Fernando area”. Much of the fighting is occurring between the Zetas and Gulf Cartel in Tamaulipas area over good drug transit areas. Of the many bodies they have identified at least one Guatemalan, and possible Americans.

What does this mean for tourists? In the past advice such as “stay informed and stick to popular tourist areas” sufficed, however now the ”State Department was prompted to order all it’s personnel in the city to remove their children” from a popular medical tourism destination. U.S. Government officials are prohibited from traveling after dark in Guadalajara. Having said this, tourists are also not their main focus. Their war is between rival gangs and cartels, not American visitors. They do not have anything to gain from killing a gingo. However it is better to air on the side of caution.

There is an official database where you can see exactly where and when drug related killings have occurred. The list is long and in some areas there has only been one killing, possibly indicating violence briefly passing through. In other areas however violence seems to be stationed in that particular town/city.

Is there the possibility of an end anytime soon? From the looks of it and with the death toll rising every month it looks like a no. But it always is

Apr 26 2011

New Bloc in Latin America

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The Venezuelen Preseident, Hugo Chazez, has been on a campaign to promote a new block in Latin America. It is said to be “an important step towards independece from the Inited States and unity for the region”. He is on sides with Fidel Castro on this position, saying that it will be “the political event of greatest importance… in 100 years”. This new bloc region will not include the United States or Canada, but will include countries from Mexico down to Argentina. Meetings have been schedule in July to further lay out the plans for this new development. Key players of this new motion like Felipe Calderon see this new bloc as a mechanism to “strengthen our voice in the concert of nations through this new mechanism, to become protagonists and no longer mere spectators of what happens in the world”. Cuba’s cooperation in this have highlighted the end of strained relationship between Mexico and Cuba. The sense of unity and collaboration could focus on economic needs and further development of certain areas with Latin America. However the diversity of political views will prove to be a challenge further in development. Left-wing countries like Venezuela may clash with more conservative leaders like Chile.

This shift away from the US influence could prove to either be a strong political move or could prove fatal in some areas. Since this new region would be a competing organization to the Organization of the America States. Since the influence of OAS has been under question after there was a coup in Honduras, politicians are more inclined to support the bloc. It will be interesting to see how cooperation between leaders plays out and if this will be a positive change for Latin America.

Apr 06 2011

Japan’s Continual Struggles

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In light of recent events of Japan’s debilitating events, and now with the radioactive levels rising in the Pacific Ocean, the water tested to be 7.5 million times the legal limit. Attempts to absorb the radiation includes pouring concrete, the uses of liquid glass. Officials are unsure whether or not the one cracked shaft they were able to plug was the only site that was releasing radioactive matter. The company under most scrutiny is the Tokyo Electric Company; receiving most complaints from local fishermen whose livelihoods have now been diminished. The Japanese government is now considering “provisional compensation” to boost the industry. My question is where are they getting this money? Compensations may be given to local farmers as well after restrictions have been placed on certain produce and dairy products because of radiation levels.  Not only does Japan have to rebuild structurally, they will also have to rebuild emotionally. Many of the fisherman feel as though they were neglected and not consulted until after three-quarters of radioactive water was released.

This is not only affecting Japan, but also the global market of the sale of seafood. Chefs in Manhattan have now purchased radioactive detectors to make sure what they are selling is safe. This presents the threat of radiation being spread through food now, even though there have been reassurances that radiation is unlikely to show up in food supply it is better to stay on the side of caution especially when “nobody knows how the currents will carry the contaminated water”.

Other challenges that Japanis having to face is the prevention of hydrogen build-up, which could lead to an explosion. Actions being taken include the injection of nitrogen into the containment vessel. This is merely a precautionary measure. Showing that Japan is trying to get one step ahead of the disasters it has experienced. There still looms the threat of another nuclear reaction from starting again, however the addition of boron should diffuse that threat. Japan has far to go, but it seems like they are acting quickly, maybe not in everyone’s interest, but actions are being taken.

Mar 11 2011

Aid to Libya

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France is ahead of the ball before any other European country and the US. They have made public statements supporting and recognizing the rebel leadership group in Libya

According to the NY Times, “France’s aggressive diplomatic stance is seen as a way of showing commitment to the popular uprisings and democratic changes in the Middle East and North Africa”.

Though other not as drastic actions have been taken by European countries to show support to the Rebel groups in Libya;

Germany and the British have now shown interest in supporting the rebels as well stating the rebels as “valid interlocutors with whom we wish to work closely.” With. These actions have set off a domino affect of actions being taken against Libya and Qadaffi, such as freezing of all assets and accounts and 24-hour surveillance of Libyan airspace, in particular areas like where Qadaffi has deployed war planes on rebel groups. In the US, Hilary Rodham Clinton “she would meet with Libyan rebel leaders, which would be the highest-level contact between the Obama administration and the coalition of protesters and army and government defectors fighting Colonel Qaddafi.”  These actions show positive support for the rebels however, there still has not been enforce a no fly zone of Libya, allowing Qaddafi to deploy war and missile plans, which has harmed the rebels and other civilians. It has been argued that the enforcement of a “no-fly zone” can be construed as an “act of war” in the words of Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess.

Many aid organizations are focusing on what people need, their security, and where the uprisings are going instead of focusing on establishing a temporary government. Though this is important I believe if this is going to be a successful revolution for the rebels’ organization must be enacted for them to succeed in the long term.

Though there has been a lot of support on the European end, I wonder how they will feel when immigrants from Libya, (not necessarily in nature many of them being from Nigeria living and in Libya to support their families back home) migrate into EU states? Libya has been deemed even by international organizations as a very racist state. Much of their class system has been based off of color creating unfair and harsh living conditions for those in the “lower caste-system”. The events occurring now in Libya are forcing those who have been oppressed and discriminated against to pursue employment elsewhere, setting sites on distant lands. The question that comes to my mind is whether or not the new migration patterns will affect European countries in a positive way or if it will motivate them to create better conditions in Libya to prevent people from leaving the country

Feb 21 2011

Continued Turmoil in Libya

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The unrest and turmoil of the protests occurring in Libya have set forth a turn of events. The people of Libya have finally challenged Muammar Gaddafi, an authoritative leader of Libya for over 40 years. No longer willing to stand for the cruelties against humanity, and in the past a supporter of terroristic activities, and supporting programs for weapons of mass destruction. On Sunday hi son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, gave a speech addressing the looming threat of a civil war, and the negatives it would have. He holds strong throughout the speech making declarative statements like; “Fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet”, clearly indicating that no mercy shall be given if protestors continue. To appeal to his audience he indicates noncommittal negotiations of a “change in a number of laws,… including media and penal code”. However to make the idea of a civil war even less enticing he makes the point that there will be a loss of oil, and an invasion of stronger powers, like the US and Europe which will swoop in and will occupy. The US has not remained as dormant as they may seem. The Obama administration has made it evident their “Grave Concern over Violence in Libya”. Obama has spoken to King Hama bin Isa al-Khalifa, the King of Bahrain and also a great ally in our war on terrorism, and his encouragement for leniency on protestors. However Bahrain has the difficulty of balancing interest of Saudi Arabia as well, which is a monarchy and who place blame onto the Obama administration for letting the protests continue and spread through his encouragement for a change in regime. With the spread of social networking, and a young population problems within the penal and constitutional system were bound to be noticed eventually, it was only a matter of time. With sources differing on actual deaths, Human Rights Watch have reported 223 people have been killed in the past 5 days. These protests in Libya have started a domino affect in surrounding areas, bringing more light onto unfair living conditions. It will be important to see what actions are taken in the next few days, by the government/military and by the people.