Friday, September 10, 2010

Ramadan Ends Tonight Yet People Still Starve in Pakistan, You Say Dubai I Say Hello,

Paul Krugman
Jackson Diehl
Bruce Riedel

"It’s hard to overstate how destructive the economic ideas offered earlier this week by John Boehner, the House minority leader, would be if put into practice... If Republicans regain power, they will surely do what they did during the Bush years: they won’t seriously try to address the economy’s troubles; they’ll just use those troubles as an excuse to push the usual agenda" - Paul Krugman
"I'm not a political expert, but I think going after the rich is a good idea in an election year, or any other year for that matter. Because let's face it, rich people are bastards. Even rich people would agree with that. They're like, 'It's true, now hand me another golden sausage.'" – Craig Ferguson

"So far rich people have been very quiet about the possibility of getting taxes raised on them, but that doesn't mean they won't get mad about it, it just means they don't know about it. Because it takes a while for bad news to reach a rich person. First their accountant has to tell the butler, who has to tell the servant, who wouldn't dare interrupt their game of croquet." – Craig Ferguson

Ramadan end tonight for most Muslims, where most families get together and partake in binge eating and scarfing down a lot of sweets all day tomorrow. In Gaza, the emphasis is different, where families are encouraged to visit members who are in jail, and helping to feed those who are indigent... Refugees in Pakistan will end Ramadan with more fasting, but its because they are starving, with little food or aid coming their way. The Pakistani government is feuding with Islamic charities that are sponsored by outlawed groups and Talibans, with the result food less is distributed... Al Jazeera reports that in India: "Experts say there are over a billion tonnes of food grain going to waste throughout India, enough to feed over 600,000 poor for over a decade." So, not only do we have to worry about obtaining enough food for these poor folk, but we also have to make sure it gets to them before it rots in some warehouse near the airport... It's ironic, that many people sign onto international aid programs because of their empathy and desire to make a difference, and will end up deciding who gets to live and who gets to die, while their superiors deposit over 80% of donated funds in their bank accounts, thank you for your donation...

Iraq used to have the dubious honor of having the highest murder rate in the world. And that is counted as civilian murders, not military collateral. This year, Iraq has been eclipsed by the skyrocketing murder rates in Venezuela. I know, it surprised me, too. Hugo Chavez has been having serious economic problems, there have been rolling electrical brownouts for a couple of years now, and it looks like the people are taking their frustrations out on themselves. The constant feuding with its neighbor, Columbia, may be a contributing factor, along with CIA paid insurgents. Notice that with the US contracted to build an Air Force base in Columbia, now the re-emergence of private, right wing militias is being OK'ed by the government. I don't know why we like to support right wing groups so much, probably for the same reasons why we like our district attorneys to be Republican and beligerent... right Ken Buck?

In Afghanistan, two things are happening. Our counterinsurgency policies are not working in the short time that we are giving them, they really need 30 years or more to work with younger generations who, hopefully, grew up with these attitudes and have adopted them for themselves. So, that's not working out in the short term. Neither is Karzai's puppet government. There are some well meaning individuals who are idealistic, putting country first, but usually they are demoted or kicked out by Karzai because he sees them as a threat. We put a lot of time, effort, and money into training the Afghan Army and police, only have 40-60% of them defect and desert... Secondly, as reported in the Asia Times: "Preliminary peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have begun, with the Pakistan military and Saudi Arabia acting as go-betweens. A US concession could be the release of Pakistanis detained at Guantanamo Bay. Much thornier issues include a continued US presence in northern Afghanistan and what to do with al-Qaeda, which is busy extending its reach." If we re-install the Taliban, get rid of Karzai and his cronies, then they become our new BFF's, and we have a more honest government, that is, if you favor the Pashtuns... If we get them to agree to let us keep on building schools and supporting women, then we will have won in the end. As I have said before, once generations have use off computers and smart cellphones, they begin to communicate with people from all over the world, and such ideas like the narrow minded interpretation of sharia law will not hold up. I'm sorry, but the world is changing and we have to go along with it, drop our excess baggage of antiquated ideals to make way for a more global society. Places like Dubai are integrating culture clashes faster than we can keep up. It is ironic, because al-Qaeda is a protest against the integration of Western culture into the conservative traditions of an Islam practiced in the rural areas, and yet it is the economic successful places that are leading the change. Really, the US doesn't have to go and promote its own perverted twist on democracy, we can kick back here at home and watch it unfold on our computer screens. Which is a good thing, as we still have a lot of issues to hash out, especially regarding racism, immigrants, and the inability of the Republican Party to contribute anything constructive to our national dialogues...

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