Another war for America

Memorial Day in the USA. More and more grieving people.

Memorial Day in the USA. More and more grieving people.

Are the American people not tired of war? One wonders. And didn’t Obama loudly proclaim, in fact it was one of his winning promises during his first time around election spiels, that he would not have committed America to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Promises.

Yet here he is. Doing the big sales pitch to his government and the American and even the Russian folk hoping to persuade them into meddling in Syria.

There’s no disputing the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Or the effect it is having on the countries surrounding this warlocked state. 2 million refugees and more walking across borders every day. Civilian deaths, gas attacks and the shocking tally goes on.

Having said that. Bringing in a sophisticated strike force into this hot bed of guerrilla warfare is hardly going to work. Think Afghanistan, think Vietnam and the list goes on. Even Zimbabwe managed to outlast a supreme army and to wear them down in the end. Imagine Mugabe as head of that war and you can see how unlikely that seemed.

But besides the problem of trying to wage a war where one side kind of works along some sort of ethical rules if that is at all possible in war and the other side that fights dirty, throwing arms at a humanitarian crisis doesn’t seem to me a solution.

Of course the American arms industry is already gleefully rubbing its hands at the thought of all that spending about to happen. And I would imagine that Obama during the convenient G20 gathering happening right now will extract money from the developed world to pay for his little war mongering (not the first US president to play that card – thinking Desert Storm) so that a bunch of foreign exchange will help with the embattled US debt.

Kind of supplying a mercenary army to the world. In fact one wouldn’t be surprised to discover that the US army could consist predominantly of soldiers (PMCs) supplied by the Blackwaters of this world. Or whatever they are called now.

Besides the unlikelihood of actually winning this war, whatever a win might mean, throwing arms at a humanitarian crisis isn’t really a solution. More arms, more fighting, more civilian deaths.

But the biggest hurdle is really knowing what is going on and who is really behind the strife and how the conflict could be resolved. Nobody really knows who spread the chemical weapons. It does seem likely that a company in the UK supplied it though. Yup. Nasty, nasty developed world.

Whatever the US decides to do, armed intervention is not the right way of doing it. Just alone the fact that the Asians and Russians never mind China don’t want to know is an indication here. Keep out. Let them sort out their own problems. If you want to do something, send more aid to care for refugees. Give them the opportunity to settle in other countries if they wish.

Who is the enemy by the way? The rebels or the government. If the Syrian government is the rebel then isn’t the US aiding the overthrow of a legitimate government. Or at least the world accepted the government as legitimate until not so long ago. A whole new can of worms….

Wow, such a hugely unpublicised and amazing victory for women

Brigitte Lacombe: Photographic Exhibition at Sotheby’s on Arab Women in Sport

The London Olympic Games will have one huge victory that will go almost unnoticed but is nevertheless enormous in its significance. Every competing nation, all of the 205, are sending women athletes.

Now you might think, so what? But it’s actually a big thing. Arab countries have quietly opened their in-take of athletic representation to include women. Sure some of the women competing are in fact Arab women now living in the USA and able to train without police supervision and protection. Still. The nations are admitting that women are allowed to show themselves on such a public stage. In front of thousands of spectators and millions on the box.

A true victory. Thank you to all of those women who have stood firm, often under personal threat and disregarding their safety, and who have so steadfastly pushed the authorities. They have done this quietly, brashly, with quiet voices and sometimes with strident demands. Each one of you a huge thank you. We as women can quietly celebrate another huge victory.

Well done all of you. Too numerous to count or give credit to. Efforts that have produced a small wave sometimes and sometimes a full on tsunami of change. Let’s carry on. It’s worth it in the end. Your daughters will thank you. Mind you, they might even just consider it their right. And that’s also good.

To commemorate this achievement a photographic exhibition is being held during the London Olympics. It’s at Sotheby‘s and by photographer Brigitte Lacombe. It showcases Arabic women athletes during the Arabic Games in 2011 held in Qatar. And for more on Muslim women in sport visit this blog.

Chinese people start flexing their muscle

One never knows whether the riots in the UK might have made the Chinese a little more aggressive about the concerns they have about their government, but whatever it might be, the Chinese people are braving the streets with protests.

For instance a recent touch of rioting, as reported in Der Spiegel, happened in the South West. The reason behind the riots seemed to be an altercation between a person and an official. Thousands of people protested in Qianzi the province of Guizhou on Thursday evening. Angry rioters burnt cars and erected barriers. At least ten police were injured and ten protestors taking into custody.

More and more small uprisings are happening in China. Whether against the accident in July of two trains of the high speed rail system or other perceived government bungling. The Chinese people are starting to get angry at their politicians.

Of course there are millions of Chinese who worship their country and have huge respect for their government and officials in general. But there are more and more pockets of people who are starting to make themselves heard with complaints and questions about bribery and corruption amongst many concerns.

It seems that people are starting to demand more rights, more transparency by their governments in fact a better deal in general.

It will be interesting to see how this develops further. First the Arab world now a shift towards Asia. More power to the people could change the political landscape considerably. How it will change is a total unknown though!

Kids collecting wood mistaken for insurgents

Ten boys between the ages of 9 and 15 were attacked on March 2, 2011. Nine of them died. They were collecting firewood to heat their homes. They live in the eastern Afghanistan mountains.

One of those terminated with extreme prejudice situations. Or what’s also euphemistically called ‘collateral damage’. There were two sets of brothers. Does that small fact make it more personal maybe? Or do they remain a statistic?

Reading the report in the New York Times there is a frightening amount of detail because there was a tenth boy who survived because a tree fell on him.

There were two helicopters that flew over the boys at a low level the first time. Then they came back a second time and individually shot the youngsters. One by one.

That means that with the kind of equipment, – binoculars – sharp scopes on weapons – that kind of thing, the army has nowadays it is likely that the soldiers involved must have had a fairly good look at these kids. At 9 years old they would have been small. Surely not to be confused with adult men?

Of course one doesn’t even need to ask the question again, surely, what are the Americans doing there in the first instance? Never mind performing some target practice on small children? And one wonders whether General Patraeus would have bothered to apologies if there hadn’t been such an uproar.

Reading a report like this is like getting a kick in the stomach and gasping for air. What? Why? How can this be possible.

It’s actually just not good enough is it?

Bullying by kids – parents have to work harder to stop it. In support of the ‘It gets better’ campaign.

It gets to me when the media, citizens and parents attack schools pointing out their failure to control the children that are in their care. And especially the culture of bullying that seems to have risen to new levels in the last few years is firmly laid at the feet of schools, society and everybody else except the parents.

Yet the behaviour we see in young children, because bullying does start right at the first point that kids do stuff together and yes in kindergarden often, has been taught at home. Schools purely are faced with the end result when it’s already ingrained behaviour.

Kids come onto this world without prejudices. They don’t know about colour, creed, sexuality or gender issues amongst many of our supposedly set in concrete perceptions.

They follow the behaviour of their parents and immediate family environment. They listen to the words spoken by those they come into contact with. They learn by observation and imitation and they follow what they have been taught to do.

There is no way around this dear parents. No ducking out of this responsibility and putting it at the feet of schools, society, church, government you name it. There is no question that the behaviour by kids and teenagers is what has been taught by those in their homes.

You wonder why your kid is drinking and smoking when you yourself indulge in these habits? Ever wonder why your kids swear, lie, cheat and avoid responsibility for their actions? Because you do it.

We all do it. But we somehow think that because we tell our kids to do otherwise that is what they will do. As parents you are the role model for your youngsters. They follow you, they look up to you and they want to be just like you.

So if you think that gay people should be beaten up because they are different, how do you think your kids are going to behave? If you think the coloured kids in the neighbourhood are second rate citizens, what do you think your kids are going to believe?

Do you believe that the poor families in your city deserve to be poor because they are lazy good for nothing folk, then how do you expect your kids not to bully them and belittle them. They are just following your example.

So let’s stop putting the blame on the school system, the police force not coping with criminal behaviour by young people, the society that is throwing up its hands at bullying teens.

As parents we have to do a better job. We have to check our own prejudices and belief systems and fix those first so that our kids can become the kind of people we really want them to be.

Watch this talk by Joel Burns who is sending out a message to gay teenagers re-assuring them that life does get better despite the bullying they experience as young people. This will truly touch your heart.

Blog Action Day – All about Water

For me the image of scarcity of water always conjures up Zulu women walking along small man made paths carrying plastic containers on their heads in the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. I grew up in South Africa and went to school at a boarding school surrounded by farming communities.

The sight of women and young girls carrying their water was an every day occurrence and we got used to seeing it as part of the landscape. It didn’t even occur to me until many years later what hard work that must have been.

And it is truly back breaking work. Regrettably, 45 years down the line from my school days, this sight has not been removed. Even in South Africa there are still outlying areas where no tap water is available to small farming communities.

Imagine if you have to spend hours of your daily life having to fetch water from a remote stream, borehole or tap in a village. What about the energy you have to expend to carry the full buckets and drums back. This is all productive time that is wasted. But it’s not something you can ignore. Water is essential for your survival. It’s something you need to drink, wash and cook with, keep your small vegetable garden going if there’s no rain and give to livestock.

There is absolutely no option.

Now add to this the fact that it is the women in rural areas who tend to do the bulk of the gardening, household and family nurturing work and one can imagine the pressure this puts on the family.

What to do? One of the ways to address this is to have a large family to help with the chores hence the large families you find in poor areas. Families that can’t afford to feed their brood need them at the same time to help with these time and energy consuming tasks.

It’s a vicious and endless cycle that has no future resolution.

Yet the costs of laying a water pipeline to remote areas is insignificant in relation to the suffering you can remove, the time you give back for more productive work and the health you can restore in providing safe water.

There just needs to be a will by politicians to actually deliver this. But maybe it’s so much more politically expedient to keep those rural populations enslaved. It almost seems like this is the case. Come on leaders of countries where water still needs to be carried. Get going on providing this essential service to your people.

Thanks to the media Pastor Terry Jones becomes an uncalled for celebrity

So this rather insignificant alleged Pastor called Terry Jones leader of a church in Florida that counts a flock of 50 in its congregation has suddenly become this high-profile political entity. The reason for this notoriety is the fact that he has threatened to burn Qur’an’s on the commemoration of the 9/11 tragedy.

This nonentity of a person, probably planning on burning a book if that and not exactly thousands, has created a world wide storm in total disproportion to this human being of little consequence.

How did he manage this? It’s not as if he were a Billy Graham with millions of TV followers. This man has 50 people in his congregation in a tiny place in Florida USA.

Easy. He managed it with the help of an unscrupulous media who had nothing better to do than to stir up the world with a sensationalism based on absolutely nothing. Makes one wonder what other so called sensational breaking news is as insignificant as some off-the-wall idiot in Gainsville, Florida threatening to burn a few books.

Of course lets not forget the unreasonable reaction by a few Muslims as well. However, lets also get that one straight. A few Muslims. Sure they make for dramatic pictures. People with beards with raised arms and hatred on their faces.

But if one reads the reports a little more carefully then one realises that there were maybe one hundred to two hundred folk demonstrating. A handful in fact. Not nearly as many as the people in the USA who verbalised their disdain for the Right Reverend Terry Jones.

From Obama to Clinton to celebrities and talk show hosts and other ‘significant’ spokespeople, practically universally in the USA there was a condemnation of this idiot’s promised action.

Of course these folk had to react. They would have looked horrifically out of touch if they hadn’t.

But the reason for why they had to react was not because of Terry Jones. It was because the media blew this little insignificant issue out of all proportion. Way out of all proportion. They camped in their hundreds on the lawn of the Reverend’s house.

So I ask again. How often does the media, because they have nothing else to report on, blow an event so out of proportion that one can hardly recognise it anymore? Makes one wonder, surely.

Still wondering about the reason why the UK went to war in Iraq

So the war in Iraq was supported by the UK because Blair, the then Prime Minister, was worried about the Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Oh but there weren’t any to be found. Well then it was the hatred of tyranny and terror. Mmm, they didn’t find too much of that either. Sure, they finally found Saddam Hussein in his bolt hole.

There are some small murmurs every now and then questioning the reasons for the UK’s involvement in this war that lead to the death of 1.2 million people. So far. Most of those  are innocent civilians.  Johann Hari, one of my favourite journalists, has a good article on this in The Independent.

But one thing that is mostly overlooked is that the UK is a democracy and it has houses of Parliament where elected representatives sit earning nice little salaries. And in order to avoid having a Prime Minister go off pop and do something stupid like getting involved in a war that has no purpose whatsoever, these folk get to vote on issues. On issues for instance whether to send ones soldiers off to fight a war that is none of ones or their business.

After all there was no real threat to British safety from Saddam Hussein and his rather motley crew of ragamuffin army folk.  But off they went to war regardless. Regardless even of UN disapproval.

The question has to be asked, why did so few people stand up to stop this idiotic action? Isn’t this what the Germans had to suffer after the war. The recrimination about not stopping Hitler, not stopping the Holocaust and not stopping the second World War.

So where are the recriminations this time around? Why is nobody pointing fingers at the British government, all those politicians still getting their pay, not having to be accountable for the deaths of 1.2 million people.

Surely it’s not just Blair. It’s a whole bunch of other folk who should be held accountable too. What did they do to the Germans after the war? They brought to court anybody they could find who had any kind of say with respect to the massacres at the holocaust. Is the Iraq war any different? And what on earth is everybody doing in Afghanistan?

Maybe it’s about Oil in Iraq and Opium in Afghanistan? The BIG money spinners… So then who was pulling the strings one wonders.

At what stage do you let your strings be pulled by the puppeteer

How much effort does it take to hoodwink people into believing something that is not even remotely based on fact. What kind of indicators need to be present to make us believe what we are being told?

Do we need photographs, films, celebrity endorsement, the media and books, TV appearances and radio exposure? What makes us finally tip over and buy the stories we are presented with?

This is not a new thing. Not so long ago people believed the earth was flat. Then people believed there were witches and burnt a whole lot of innocent women at the stake. What about the poor women in the Arab world and what amazing ‘sins’ they are being accused of and stoned for. A raped girl needs to be stoned? Somebody believes in that moral code.

What about the many people who bought into the whole anti-Semitism story that Hitler dished up and persecuted and killed millions of Jews. How did they believe that? In retrospect it is truly unbelievable.

So what does it take for us to buy into these misrepresentations, lies, myths, or whatever you want to call it.

Probably not as much as we think we do. Possibly for a clever person or organisation it actually doesn’t take that much to get us to buy into a fact or occurrence that could eventually, when the dust settles, be considered outrageous.

In fact is it not perhaps possible that the more outrageous the lie the more we would be inclined to believe it?

There are two particular bits of history that have a fair question mark over them. That is a fair number of people question the validity of the happenings. One is the moon landing, the anniversary of this is being celebrated at the moment. The other are the 9/11 attacks.

Was the moon landing a Hollywood ‘documentary’? Probably. Besides the inconsistency of the photographic and so-called visual proof, it is probable that the USA didn’t have the technology, not necessarily sending the folk out, but of bringing them back home. That’s where the biggest doubts might be.

Of course one could imagine that some kind of UFO assistance could have provided a bit of a helping hand. But then who believes in UFOs? Which in fact is the joke isn’t it.

So many sightings have been made from pilots flying aircraft, to scientists observing them from the ground to photographic evidence. But nobody believes in that. Yet most people have bought into the landing on the moon story.

What about 9/11. There are many enquiries. One in particular is a pilots association that is putting a question mark as to whether the airplanes could have been flown into the buildings and Pentagon as reported.

Another enquiry is now being held where architects and engineers are asking some very strong questions as to how the buildings could have burnt and crumbled as they did. In fact evidence seems to support that the buildings were brought down by internally placed explosives in a controlled implosion.

So we have expert pilots and expert architects and engineers and nobody is going to believe them. Because we somehow have bought into the story sold to us by the media and governments (including the UK in this scenario) that it was a terror attack by a few Saudi Arabians.

These Saudis, who hardly could fly a small plane never mind a commercial airliner, were the ones who engineered this whole thing. We even got to see them checking into airports, all shown nicely on TV. And we bought it all.

Oh and these few individuals arranged this terror via the internet. That’s why governments are pushing for the right to snoop into all of your emails and online activities.

Now they can search through your things while you are doing something as harmless as catching a flight. In fact they can treat you like a criminal and presume you are guilty before given the chance to prove your innocence.

Have you ever wondered how much ‘evidence’ you need before you accept the presented material as fact? Would be interesting to check next time you get dished up some big story. Like the reasons for the Iraqi war for instance. Or now Afghanistan?

How much of all the war stories are you believing? At which point did your credibility level hit the tipping point and you got hooked?

Would you be proud to be an iPorn Girl

Do you ever wonder when enough is enough? Where are your boundaries? What does it take to step over them? At what stage do you say that’s enough!

It seems that nowadays there are no more boundaries. It’s all grey. No more black and white. This thought crossed my mind when I saw the iPorn girls. That is I saw pictures of them.

Do you walk around in a skimpy bikini with the words iPorn on your bottom? Would you do this for money? Of course looking at girls walking around in bikinis is not an unusual sight on a beach.

Is it different if they walk around in bikinis at a geek conference? Where do you draw the line?

In the economic down turn does it matter how you make your living as long as you can. And if you are a pretty girl, why not sell your body. After all models do this all day and every day. They might just wear more clothes, but they are definitely selling themselves and their look.

What about films where some actors and actresses seem to have no qualms in throwing off their clothes and pretending, one thinks, to have sex. They get a fair amount of money for that. Do you agree with that? It is after all for their ‘craft’ that they are stripping. For the story.

It’s a moot point really. Is this any different to big company CEO’s who lie and cheat to shareholders, the media, their staff and anybody else they can get hold of.

What about sports people. Lewis Hamilton last year’s F1 champion got caught lying during a race. Prince Harry got caught cheating in a final exam at school. Member’s of Parliament in the UK have just been caught with their fingers in the honey pot. I’m sure you can think of a few famous people who seemed to have overstepped the mark a little.

It seems to me that the world, and this statement most probably only applies to the developed world, does whatever it wants. It’s only when you get caught that it becomes bad. Hamilton is embarrassed because he got caught. MP’s are resigning suddenly, only because they got caught.

Madoff got caught. While everybody was reaping the outrageous interest he was paying, nobody complained. Where do you get such high interest. Nowhere. Be suspicious. Nope. Greed won out. Now he’s the evil one. Because he got caught.

Is that not the same then when girls parade around their naked bodies with two little strips of clothes hiding whatever in a convention centre. Body for sale. They haven’t overstepped any line because there isn’t one anymore.

Is that better for our society or worse? I’m just asking.