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May 10 2011

US and China- Human Rights

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The United States pushed China for economic reforms in a two-day annual dialogue that opened on Monday. The differences of the US and China were extremely obvious, however, it looks like both countries want cooperation from one another. The US feels as though the human rights violations are an ongoing problem, but China disagrees in saying that human rights is getting better and better and that the US should get to know the “real” China.

Vice President Joe Biden, was extremely open about his views and concerns on human rights. He said hat protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms in China’s constitution is the best way to have long-term stability in any society. Obama and Hilary Clinton expressed similar views to Biden.

Chinese State Counselor Dai Bingguo, however, disagrees with the US and believes that China is making great strides, especially regarding human rights.

Clinton said:

“Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth. We reject both of those views. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. The fact is that a thriving United States is good for China and a thriving China is good for America.”

It will be interesting to see how the relationship between US and China will go in the future…will this problem be resolved or will it end in unwanted conflict?

May 10 2011

Japanese reactors being shut down

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Japan may be shutting down a nuclear reactor after its prime minister, Naoto Kan, announced a warning saying that a nuclear reactor located on the Pacific coast in Omaezaki in Japan is vulnerable to natural disasters.

“In a statement, the company said, ‘At the May 9, 2011 meeting of the Board of Directors, Chubu Electric Power Company, Inc., has decided to suspend operations of Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant until further measures to prevent tsunami (damage) are completed, as requested by the prime minister.’”

After the damage done to Japan already, it is important to take every precaution to fix the situation at hand and make strides of prevention in the future. Kan said this nuclear reactor nearby Tokyo could damage Japan greatly, and he wanted natural disaster protections put in place- a smart move for Japan. However, this could take years unfortunately…which could mean even more bad news for this country.

The Japanese government is under pressure to review its energy policy, and nuclear energy would be the center of that conversation. After the March 11 quake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear power plant, making cautious steps will be a good thing.

Nearly 26,000 people were killed after the natural disaster which triggered the world’s biggest nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. The plant is still leaking radiation.

It was also really interesting to find that there are locations in Japan with nuclear reactors, and some of these locations have a high chance of a high magnitude earthquakes hitting them, for example in Hamaoka- there is a chance of a magnitude 8.0 quake hitting the in the next 30 years at 87 percent. This raises lots of questions, including why nuclear reactors were built there to begin with.

Apr 28 2011

Violence in Sudan

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Less than two months before declaring a new state in South Sudan, violence continues to escalate between the North and the South. This ongoing conflict between the Arabs and the non-Arabs that began in February 2003 is still happening to this day, and often goes under the radar in the eyes of the media. There are many numbers in regard to the actual total number of casualties due to the conflict, and they range from under twenty thousand to several hundred thousand dead (from either direct combat or starvation and disease caused by the conflict). There have also been mass displacements, which have caused millions of people to move into refugee camps or over the border into Chad.

Today, the continued violence in Sudan has caused the deaths of more than 150 people in just the last week.

“This month, the United nations said more than 800 civilians have been killed in violence in the region since January, and the organization Human Rights Watch said last week that human rights abuses had been committed by both the southern Sudanese government and the rebels in recent fighting.”

A collection of troops around the contested Abyei region on the frontier between the north and south has increased tensions between the two sides in Sudan.

With the overall tension between the two sides in Sudan, it will be interesting to see what the coming months have in store. Obviously, July will be huge with the Introduction of a new Sudanese country, and I wonder if the violence will decrease once this occurs, or whether it will just continue. The referendum was guaranteed under a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of civil war between the north (of Muslim majority) and the south (of Christian majority) which caused the deaths of 2 million people. In July, South Sudan will become the world’s newest nation. But with the continued violence in both regions, it is difficult to imagine this new country being a stable one.

Mar 04 2011

Struggles in the Ivory Coast

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As protests and turmoil continues to occur in the Middle East, the Ivory Coast in Africa has also emerged with killings during protests. In Abidjan, 6 women were shot and killed by the military during an all-women protest against Laurent Gbagbo, president of the Ivory Coast since 2000. Although having lost the election for president in November of 2010, Gbagbo still refuses to step down, causing political unrest in this African country.

Political unrest continues to occur as the economy is being shut down by Gbagbo and his government.

“Businesses are shutting, employees are being laid off by the dozen and families complain of going without meals. Traffic is minimal, and roadblocks operated by rock-wielding, pro-Gbagbo youth groups are everywhere. Amid the torrent of international sanctions against him, banks have closed, all A.T.M.’s have shut down and cash is rarer by the day.”

“This week also, nine newspapers opposed to Mr. Gbagbo closed, saying they could no longer withstand police harassment and constant threats of violence against their journalists.”

As the government shuts down the economy, opens fire at civilians, and taking away the peoples’ rights, life is difficult here in this African country. But the people refuse to give up, enduring a tough struggle in the hopes of someday having the rights they deserve.

Military troops in Abidjan have responded to these protests by firing shots into the crowd of protesters. This incident, along with other similar incidents and gun battles recently, has intensified the conflict in the Ivory Coast to extraordinary levels. I can’t help but wonder what the future looks like for this country, with the situation here going downhill fast.

The UN Security Council announced on Thursday that a civil war could return to the Ivory Coast, which is not surprising. According to the United Nations, 50 people died this week in relation to the violence going on in the Ivory Coast. As violence and killings continue to escalate, it will be interesting to find out what will happen next in this unstable region.

Feb 21 2011

Mubarak Stepped Down…What’s Next?

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After 18 days of protests beginning on January 25, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigned as President of Egypt on February 11, 2011. We have all heard this news in one form or another. But one thing that hasn’t been broadcasted too much is what will happen to Egypt (and the rest of the world, for that matter) post Mubarak.

Egyptian authorities are continuing to arrest numerous individuals on corruption charges. It seems as though before the country can work on creating peace, it must work on creating justice. Justice in this case would be arresting those government officials, including Mubarak, for their corruption and other crimes.

“The idea that there can be no lasting end to a conflict or no certainty a people can safely put the bitter experience of a dictatorship behind them without sooner or later bringing warlords, torturers, and tyrants to justice is now gospel in the human rights community and at the United Nations, and almost as widely accepted among the other major international actors.”

Some are confident that Egypt will not fail as a country after the occurrences in the beginning of 2011. Just a little more than a week after Mubarak’s resignation, some positive steps have been made towards recovery in Egypt. On Sunday, February 20, 2011, reports were announced that laws pertaining to detention without charges or trial would soon be ended. In addition, the judge in charge of constitutional amendments said his panel might soon make suggestions for a referendum to take place in the coming weeks. Furthermore, the very first political party was formed since the revolution, and the citizens of Egypt continue to demand reform.

“Choosing a regime will become the right of the people,” Ali Abdel-Fattah, a Muslim Brotherhood member. “The nature of the regime will be decided by elections. And I think Egyptians agree on the demands and how to realize them.”

Protesters against Mubarak were individuals of different ages, genders, social classes, and goals for the country. The organizers demanded freedom, social justice, and banded together against one corrupt force. And this is the foundation upon which Egypt will recover. Looking at the nation’s economy, many are confident that a new political system will follow with a better financial situation as a whole. It is important to recognize the strides Egypt is taking since the fall of Mubarak and it is important to note the small changes being made day by day. Although Egypt’s future is unclear for now, the demand for reform in the citizens of Egypt will continue to erupt until the proper government is restored, stability is returned in the economy, and the rights of the people are returned.