Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kenya fighting rages on

Violence in Kenya has taken a turn for the worse with Tuesday's assassination of an opposition lawmaker who had been working to end the crises. Ethnic militias armed with machetes continue to terrorize the slums of the capital Nairobi and towns across the country's west while the death toll in the fighting has topped more than 850.

Lord Mark Malloch Brown, who visited Kenya from the UK, issued a serious warning about the crises:

"We are greatly concerned at what we see as a step change in the violence from something bloody and ugly but perhaps spontaneous to something much more organised and sinister,"
He continued on to say:
"What is so alarming about the last few days is that there are evidently hidden hands organising this now. Militias are appearing, street gangs are being organised."
I hope I'm wrong when I say this, but this kind of violence seems all to familiar. In 1994, sporadic violence between Rwanda's Hutu and Tutsis ethnicities quickly spiraled out of control and became the infamous Rwandan Genocide, where over one million people were slaughtered across the country. Since then (and even before) this type of violence has reciprocated again and again in Africa, whether it be Rwanda, Darfur, Eastern Congo, South Sudan, or Somalia. Kenya's current situation may very well find its place up there if the conflict is not peacefully resolved and the machete-wielding militias are not disarmed.

Tensions grow next door:

While not really related, violence is also being reported in neighboring Somalia with the continuing street battles between Ethiopian/Somali coalition forces and Islamic insurgents armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Yesterday, two foreign aid workers and a Somali journalist were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb outside of Mogadishu. Kenya, which was once one of East Africa's most prosperous democracies, had the potential to serve as a role model to the struggling UN-backed government in Somalia. Kenyan forces have also wielded positive influence in the capture of Islamic militants along the border.

What can we do?

One of two things needs to happen in order to stop this from becoming the latest "Never Again" pledge. Either the people of Kenya must agree to put aside their differences and solve their problems through dialogue as opposed to the blade of a machete, or the UN and the international community must step in and do something before the militias become too powerful and the bodies of innocent men, women, and children begin piling up in the countryside. Leaders here in the U.S. need to play a constructive role as well. Senator Barack Obama, who is of Kenyan descent, has been actively involved in pushing for dialogue and an end to the killing. If everyone in Congress did so, it would certainly send a strong message. Today's violence in Kenya is a perfect example of how we can all put aside our political differences to work together and impact the world in a positive way.

...or we can continue doing what we're doing and have another "never again" pledge that we failed to live up to and add it to the pages of history.

(Photo courtesy of AP)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reuniting the United Nations

Saturday's UNA meeting in Berkeley brought up a lot of debate and discussion over the issue of human rights here in the United States and around the world. Many issues were brought up--including the use of child soldiers in Africa and the growing number of executions carried out by China and Iran. But the meeting also touched on the issue of human rights here in the United States regarding detainees captured in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. One of the guest speakers featured at the event was an American ACLU attorney who talked about the apparent use of torture, including water boarding, and how it hurts the image of the United States abroad. His message was that if the U.S. violates international law, then other countries could follow suit as well. At the end of the event, I had the opportunity to voice my opinion.

United World Analysis:

While I am largely opposed the idea of the U.S. government using torture or harsh methods of interrogation, I am just as opposed to the usual "blame America first" rhetoric. Since 9/11, the world has faced a stateless enemy that works to achieve its goals by killing innocent people--civilians, westerners, and Muslims alike. Last month, the UN headquarters was targeted by Al-Qaeda in the Algerian capital, Algiers, so its pretty clear that these people are perfectly willing to attack anyone--whether it be the UN, the US, or Muslims who fail to submit to their extreme ideology. If the world can put aside current political disputes, then its very likely we can all move forward together in the fight against global terrorism. Exploiting the mistakes of the USA among the international community is counter-productive, and there's little doubt that terrorists enjoy seeing the US and the members of the UN tear themselves apart from the inside out.

Nevertheless, the other superpowers in the world have an obligation to uphold their commitments to the Declaration of Human Rights. Look at what is happening in Russia right now, where political opponents have been systemically assassinated and democracy has fallen into its death throws.

This is only the most recent example:

From Reuters:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was barred on Sunday from running for president in a March election, a move he said was taken to block any real challenge to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin's chosen candidate.

The Election Commission's decision seemed certain to stir fresh criticism by Kremlin opponents that the March 2 vote has been slanted in favor of Dmitry Medvedev, 42, the first deputy prime minister who Putin has backed to be his successor.

Kasyanov, who had little chance of winning the election, said Russia under Putin was now on "the slippery slope towards thievish totalitarianism" and urged a boycott of the vote.

Is it really fair to single out the United States while Vladimir Putin and his KGB buddies continue their stranglehold on Russia? I recently read a book entitled Blowing Up Russia by Alexander Litvenenko, a harsh critic of the current regime in Russia. Unfortunately, Mr. Litvenenko was killed in London before the book was released at the beginning of 2007. Other prominent critics have met a similar fate as well.

The Chinese aren't much better either, with their continued support for the blood-soaked regime of General Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan. Over the last few years, the Chinese have routinely blocked the UN security council from imposing sanctions on Sudan because of their growing economic investment in the country. It may be fitting to entitle the 2008 Beijing Olympics "The Genocide Olympics". I think its safe to say that China's support for a government that has allowed for the unrelenting slaughter in Darfur to continue is one of the worst human rights abuses in recent years. In addition, Russia and China continue to protect Iran from UN action as well.

So in the end, while it can be said that the United States has set a bad example for the international community through its sometimes controversial treatment of detainees, the other countries who wield tremendous influence in the UN need to be held accountable as well. There is no excuse for the UN to scold the USA while Vladimir Putin tracks down and kills his political opponents in Russia and China continues to support the world's most brutal dictator. The key is for everyone to work together for a more affective United Nations, which was the point I made when I had my opportunity to speak at the end of the event.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pushing for progress

I will be heading to Berkeley tomorrow for a UNA-USA (United Nations Association) meeting. One of the big issues that will be up for discussion will be the issue of human rights around the world. Several guest speakers, including an ACLU attorney, we be there as well. I plan on suggesting an idea for a resolution to the board of directors. Basically, I'd like to come up with a resolution pressing for unity among the international community regarding the situation in Iraq.

Seems like it would be a lot of work right? Well, that's what I figured when I took a trip to Europe last Summer. One night, when I was in Dublin, Ireland, I got the opportunity to have several drawn out political debates while I was having a drink at one of the pubs. Obviously, its no secret that Europeans are very unhappy with the Bush Administration and America's current standing in the world. However, we seemed to agree on one thing: that it would be best for everyone if their is success in Iraq. Now, they don't believe that will happen, at least not so long as Bush is in the White House, but everyone seemed to agree that a stable Iraq would be a good thing. During my three week stay over there, I never felt like anyone I exchanged views with actually wanted to see failure in Iraq just to make George W. Bush look bad. In the end after all, that's not what this is about. This war, to me, is about taking a stand against genocide, terrorism, and tyranny. I continue to believe that Iraq, and Afghanistan as well, will be much better off if the international community around them sends a message to the extremists that we will all work together and will not be divided.

So maybe it is possible. Maybe one person can make a difference. Among other things, I'd like to bring up the situation in Russia, as well as Myanmar and Sudan, where the long list of human rights violations is growing everyday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Congo tragedy takes its toll...

A new report has been released suggesting that over 5.4 million people have died in Eastern Congo since the conflict began in 1998 (previous estimates suggested 4 millio had died). The report also says that over 45,000 are dying every month...45,000! That comes out to around 1,200 a day. Assuming this is correct, the jungles of sub-saharan Africa are the setting of the bloodiest conflict since WWII, when the Nazis killed over 9 million Jews and other Europeans in the Holocaust.

...and all we can do is sit back and do nothing, just as we've done with Darfur and just as we did with Rwanda. This tragedy, however, outstrips both of those conflicts combined. Even if you include the most extreme estimates in the Iraq War as well, the numbers don't even come close, although it should be noted that Congo's slide into despair is partly due to the ongoing ripples of the Rwandan Genocide almost 14 years ago, when the militias that had left nearly a million bodies in their wake were driven into the Congo to continue their killing spree.

In addition to genocide and war, many groups roaming the lawless region are also seeking to exploit Congo's vast minerals and natural resources. Children continue to die from easily preventable diseases, and untold thousands are perishing every month because of hunger.

But what does it matter to us? It's only Africa after all...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A glimpse of the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka

This is a video from Al-Jazeera English about the tactics used by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

In recent days, the fighting in Sri Lanka has sharply escalated as government soldiers and Tamil rebels battle each other for control of the northern Jaffna Peninsula. Dozens of civilians have also died in addition to the many combatants.

Last week, some 27 Sinhalese civilians were killed when suspected Tamil rebels ambushed their bus in the central part of the country.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A shameful obsession

Over the last few months, the world has witnessed a dramatic turn of events in Iraq. From the increasing stability in the Al-Anbar province to the continuing prosperity of Iraqi Kurdistan, things have indeed become a lot better than they were a year ago. Violence has dropped some sixty percent across the country, with an even bigger drop in Baghdad.

Yet you wouldn't know it if you turn on the news. The nightly news has remained silent throughout the turn of events, occasionally conceding that things have indeed gotten better. Over the last few days however, the old days of gloom and doom have found their way back onto the television screen. Yesterday, Iraqi police clashed with members of a messianic Shiite cult yesterday in the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyeh. The fighting was widely reported over the news wires, and the news anchors are yet again rambling on about the violence in Iraq they have been so obsessed with over the last few years. While the fighting in southern Iraq has been portrayed as a sign of hopelessness and instability, it should be noted that the vast majority of the seventy people who were killed were cult members. In the end, this could reinforce the notion that the Iraqis can maintain security by themselves.

Even FOX news, a channel many accuse of having a conservative agenda, has developed this deranged obsession over all things negative in Iraq. It's possible that the media just finds it to be more of a ratings boost if they report bad news instead of good news, and that could be why FOX has done such a horrible job with its Iraq coverage in recent days. It is much harder to suggest that with NBC though, an organization that has a tendency to favor stories that reflect badly on the Bush Administration.

Today, while the headlines were all about how "violence marrs Shiite Holiday", there was plenty of other news happening around the world. The chances are, though, that those stories won't be making it onto our television screens tonight. For example, scores of civilians died today when Tutsis rebels under the command of renegade general Laurent Nkunda battled it out with Hutu extremists in Eastern Congo. It could however, be much worse than reported, but no one really knows because that region is nothing more than some dark, forgotten jungle that fails to make it onto the radar of the media or anyone else really. While ripples of the Rwandan genocide continue to reciprocate across Eastern Congo and violence continues in Darfur and Somalia, the headlines seem to focus on the negatives happening in Iraq. Why? Well, the only conclusion I've been able to reach is that its because George Bush can't be blamed for any of those humanitarian tragedies. Donald Rumsfeld isn't planning the UN operations that have failed to help the people of Congo and Sudan, so by sending Richard Engal into North Kivu or Darfur, they would just be taking time away from telling the world about how "Bush lied and people died".

I'm not bringing this up to try and defend the Bush Administration, far from it in fact. George W. Bush hasn't done any more to raise awareness about the horrendous violations of human rights happening the world over than anyone in the media has. He certainly spent a lot more time talking about WMD's and terrorism than he did about the hundreds of thousands of people buried in mass graves when Saddam's regime fell back in 2003.

With that said, the most despicable aspect of this is that we have leaders in congress who are trying to sabotage the efforts to bring stability to Iraq solely for the purpose of undermining Bush. People like Jack Murtha and John Kerry portray our soldiers as nothing more than a bunch of rapists, and Harry Reid declares the war "lost" even while violence was falling at an unprecedented rate. It's hard to dispute that if Bill Clinton had gone to war in Iraq, the democrats would be defending the operation until the very end.

I don't know how to define it. Sad, pathetic, Shameful, and despicable all come to mind. While tyranny, genocide, and terrorism continue to threaten stability around the world, all our leaders can do is argue about getting out of Iraq to create a cute little "sequel" to Darfur or Somalia while the rest of us turn on the news every night to hear about how bad things are in country that has not lost hope like so many Americans have.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Shias celebrate Ashoura Holiday

Crowds of Shiite worshippers have converged on the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Southern Iraq. Many Iraqi Shiites are sure to be emboldened by recent security gains across the country, although the threat of terrorism does remain. Shiite worshippers were attacked yesterday in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and in Iraq's Diyala province, but the holiday has remained relatively peaceful over the last few days. Last year, violent attacks by Sunni extremists in both countries marred the celebrations.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Global Warming news!

Usually during this time of year, global warming news tends to get a little scarce and hard to come by. When 60% of the country is under the cover of snow and ice, as it was back in December, its pretty difficult for Al and his followers to tell us that its heating up outside. However, I was reading MSNBC's website the other day and they were the first to break the ice with a hit-piece about rising temperatures in the Northeastern United States and in Antarctic. There you have it, two back to back works of propaganda.

Last year, above-average temperatures had a lot of people on edge in the northeast. It was in the news a lot too, seeing as it seemed to be the perfect evidence those who adhere to the almost religious aspects of climate change need to formally end the debate. The same was happening here in California, where Lake Tahoe received unusually low amounts of snow fall. It was however, conveniently ignored by many that California experienced some of the coldest temperatures on record, even down south, and record snowfall buried many parts of Colorado and the Rockies to the east.

Today however, things are a little different...Lake Tahoe is currently blanketed in some 10+ feet of snow, and the northeast has been blasted by a series of nor'easters that helped to make last December one of the coldest, snowiest on record. The same goes for other parts of the world as well. For the first time in 100 years, snow fell in Baghdad last week. Central Asia is currently experiencing some of its worst snowstorms in history, while snow is burying parts of eastern Europe. When I was in Europe back in July-August, everyone was talking about the heat wave that was baking that region and blaming it on global warming, interestingly enough. So what am I trying to say here? Well, the point is that nature is unpredictable, just as it has been for millions of years. Some years, winters can be abnormally warm, while others can be extreme. The same goes for Summers, where some can be brutally hot and others mild and cool.

As you can see, there is an alternative to embracing Al Gore's church of environmentalism, and that would be to embrace fact and reality.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The real threat...

There's been a lot of debate going on ever since the news was disclosed that the Government has at times listened in on phone conversations to try and identify suspected terrorists. Many questions are still being asked: is it legal? Is it constitutional? Should those involved be prosecuted? Unfortunately, those who continue to prolong this controversy seem to have forgotten just who the real villains are here. No, its not George Bush. It's not the "evil" Dick Cheney, and its not Alberto Gonzalez or anyone else in the Bush Administration. The real threat is wrecking havoc on the other side of the world in a region that has been unable to remain free of terrorism over the last six years like the US has...

On Monday, Taliban terrorists launched a coordinated assault on a five-star luxury hotel frequented by foreigners in Kabul, sending four attackers strapped with explosives and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles into the building.

This is the AP story:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Militants with suicide vests, grenades and AK-47 rifles attacked a luxury hotel on Monday, killing at least six people in a brazen attack on Western civilians in Kabul, witnesses and a Taliban spokesman said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Norwegian foreign minister, who was not hurt, was the target of the assault, which came as the Norwegian embassy was holding a meeting at the Serena Hotel. Two State Department officials said at least one American was among the dead. A Norwegian journalist also died.

It was the deadliest assault on a hotel in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The assailants appeared to concentrate on the hotel's gym and spa, where foreigners relax and work out.

My Opinion:

If the government has intelligence suggesting that people like this are plotting attacks in the United States or western targets abroad, I don't care if they open up an email or tap into a phone conversation to try and get more information. People have a right to privacy, but when homicidal maniacs strapped up in belts of explosives and armed with machine guns get involved, that stuff just goes out the window. Some people, primarily those on the far-left, believe that Bush is having the FBI listen in on conversations solely for the purpose of just being a jackass. That appears to be the perception among the fringe elements on the antiwar, anti-Bush movement, as ignorant and stupid as it sounds. Remember, these are people who deny that terrorism is a legitimate threat and are trying to ensure failure in Iraq for the sake of making Bush look bad.

Disturbing new tactic?

Last month, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a shooting/bomb attack in Pakistan. The killer, a gunman strapped with explosives, attacked in a manner similar to today's assault in Kabul. In 2004, terrorists in Russia used the same tactic when they stormed a school in the city of Beslan, killing nearly 400 people in one of the most horrific terror attacks since 9/11.

While the west splits itself apart over issues of less importance, like wiretapping, the real bad guys are becoming even deadlier and even more eager to bring about death, destruction, and chaos.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More on the Pakistan crisis

In a recent editorial (and post on this blog) I suggested that the violence we are seeing in Pakistan today as well as the escalating tension between rival political parties is directly attributed to a broad coalition of terrorists aligned with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. What evidence is there to back up these claims? Well, just look at the attacks on Benazir Bhutto, the attacks on Musharraf, the attacks on Sherpao, and the scores of other terrorists acts that have gone without a claim of responsibility. It's more than likely that the extremists are trying to get the rival parties in Pakistan to fight one another, just as they did in Iraq.

Then there's this, another disturbing example of how brutal these terrorists can be. It also offers further proof of what there intentions can be. Trust me though, I really hope I am wrong when I suggest these things.

This is off the AP:

A suicide bomber blew himself up among police deployed outside a court in eastern Pakistan ahead of a planned anti-government protest Thursday, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens more, officials and witnesses said.

The blast in front of Lahore High Court was the latest in a wave of attacks targeting politicians and security forces ahead of the February 18 parliamentary elections. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion will likely fall on militants linked to Taliban and al-Qaida.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why cable news is no longer a viable source of information

It's been said that honesty is the best policy so here it goes: cable news sucks. At least that's the conclusion I have reached, and it applies to ALL of the channels, including MSNBC, FOX, and CNN. All of them have some very unappealing qualities, whether its a political agenda that manages to poke its head out during the news conference or countless hours of air time being wasted on the antics of some washed-up pop singer that no one cares about. Don't get me wrong, I use to enjoy watching Fox News, the one that I had held hope out for the longest, but lately, its becoming more and more excruciating to sit back and listen to stories about celebrities that I pay absolutely no attention to whatsoever. I still watch their evening lineup (O'Reilly and Hannity & Colmes), but that's about it. United World's primary sources come from the international media outlets like BBC news, the Jerusalem Post, and the Pakistan Dawn. The great thing about them is that they largely overlook the dumb and unnecessary stories the public is forced to listen to and have a tendency to tell the news as it is without preaching an agenda.

Take MSNBC for example, a hotbed of far-left extremism. I was reading their "world" section today and it has hit-piece after hit-piece about the Iraq War, droning on about how all hope is lost, how the surge has failed, and how the alliance of awakening councils will crumble. After that, its all about economic recession and the grim outlook for the dollar and the US economy. Then there's stories about how global warming is going to destroy us and how all hope is lost because we failed to listen to Al Gore. The only good news stories they have are the one's about the democrats. Talk about depressing, huh? When gloom, doom, hopelessness and anti-bush propaganda dominate the headlines, I have an overwhelming urge to turn the TV or computer off and watch an episode of Seinfeld instead.

CNN is not that much better. I enjoy watching Glenn Beck sometimes, but ever since I saw him interviewing Ron Paul and failing to nail him over the crazed positions he has taken, he doesn't seem like the man who stood up for right and wrong like he used to be. To be fair, CNN does do a pretty good job sifting out the celebrity news and pointless stories that no one has any interest in.

Then there is FOX. Now, I love how FOX gives both sides of the story and represents everyone instead of just the far-left, but they seem to have a deranged obsession with dumb stories that aren't news...like Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith (I'm already regretting putting the names on this blog). Shepherd Smith, host of Fox Report , actually has a segment of his show known as the "daily Britney". How despicable and shameful is that? Mortar shells are raining down on Mogadishu and Iran is harassing American ships at sea, and this guy is reporting on something as stupid as Britney Spears losing custody of her children. People lose custody of their children everyday, what makes her so special? The sad, sad reality is that people watch such drivel. Every time they put celebrities up on screen, the ratings go through the roof.

Somewhere between the propaganda and the celebrity news, cable news lost its way. I'm not telling anyone what to do, but I think its safe to say I'm done with it. I think I'll be turning elsewhere to get the news from now on.

Going off to Boston...

What a great city Boston is. Can't wait to go their in March for a week-long visit.

John Mccain's victory speech

NH voters decided to go with John Mccain, a moderate, free-thinking candidate who is not afraid to speak out against the fringe movements in Washington, both far-right and left, just as he understands how important it is for the US to finish the mission in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another Middle East War?

Earlier today, two katyusha rockets fell on northern Israel, raising fears that "Islamic" militants in southern Lebanon are trying to spark a new war in the Middle East upon President Bush's arrival in the region. One rocket slammed into a house and the other hit a lamp post, but no injuries were reported. Shortly after the rocket attack, a UN peacekeeping patrol was hit by a roadside bomb south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Two soldiers from the Spanish contingent based in the country;s south received injuries. In response to the attacks, Israel has raised its alert level along its border with Lebanon. It's not clear who was behind the attacks, but suspects include Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group that fought a war with Israel back in 2006, and the Al-Qaeda linked Fatah Al-Islam group that waged a bloody battle with Lebanon's army last year in the Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp.

United World Analysis:

It seems just a little too coincidental that this is happening a day after Iranian patrol boats engaged in a hostile confrontation with US warships in the Persian Gulf. It is very likely that Iran and Hezbollah would like to see the Middle East go up in flames just in time for President Bush's visit. What better way to make the USA look like a complete failure than to have a repeat of the Summer '06 war?

Although this seems unlikely, it's also possible that Sunni militant groups like Fatah Al-Islam are competing with Hezbollah for dominance in the region. Back in June, Al-Qaeda linked militants captured in southern Lebanon admitted to firing rockets into Israel in order to put blame on Hezbollah. Again though, it does not seem likely that Sunni and Shiite militant groups in Lebanon are allowing their hatred for each other to get in the way of their hatred for the Jewish state of Israel.

Israel has done the right thing by holding itself back. Today, the Israelis said they will not respond until the situation is carefully assessed and they figure out who was behind the rocket barrage. If the IDF had responded by launching an assault on Hezbollah or other militant positions in southern Lebanon, they could have done exactly what the terrorists want, which is to make Israel look like the bad guy.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Peace in our time...

Well, guess what...Iran is back in the news again. That's right, even though the much glorified NIE report put down fears of growing Iranian interference across the Middle East, the Iranians themselves are contradicting such claims. Once again, this is another example of the phrase "actions speak louder than words".

This is from the AP:

Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three US Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to blow up the American vessels, US officials said Monday. They described it as a serious provocation.

US forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats turned and moved away, a Defense Department official said. "It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we've seen yet," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "We urge the Iranians to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future."

The incident occurred at about 5 a.m. local time Sunday as a US Navy cruiser, destroyer and frigate were on their way into the Gulf and passing through the strait - a major oil shipping route.

Five small boats began charging the US ships, dropping boxes in the water in front of the ships and forcing the US ships to take evasive maneuvers, the Pentagon official said.

There were no injuries but the official said there could have been, because the Iranian boats turned away "literally at the very moment that US forces were preparing to open fire" in self defense.

How many times does it have to be said that these are not peace seeking people?

A change of pace...

Okay, so my saturday. Wake up at 10:30, its sunny. I though that was wierd because it was raining all night and was raining all day the day before. So me and Corey leave at like 11:30 and as we walk out the door it starts raining. Little did we know as we got into the car that we would almost die multiple times before we got to the mall. So we get to the mall and walk in through sears and do a general walk-around of the whole mall. Then we eat at Sbarro, something I haven't had in like a year. Afterwards I hit up mainland, got two stussy tees, one for half price because of tiny hole in the back. After that I went to Tilly's, which I hate and then Pac Sun just because. Upstairs now, I went to Zumiez, which I had no idea carried Diamond, so I got a tee there. Afterwards, we walkd around some more, got strawberry julius' from Orange Julius and eventually left. All in all, in was a fun day.

The thing about it is, the name of the mall is Sun Valley, and it certainly was not sunny and I really don't think its is a valley.

Original Post:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Great new Giuliani ad

I think Mike Huckabee and all of his supporters should take a minute to watch this.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Setting the stage for more violence

Sri Lanka's government has announced it is formally pulling out of a "cease-fire" with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that was brokered by Norwegian mediators in 2002. Although both sides claim to abide by the agreement, it has been repeatedly violated amid the continuing battles taking place across the countryside between government soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels, along with the LTTE's repeated use of terrorism against both civilian and military targets.

Well over 5,000 people have been killed in the brutal ethnic conflict since the cease-fire was announced and Sri Lankan government officials have declared it "irrelevant". The UN is fearing for the safety of civilians as truce monitors get ready to pack up and leave, and a violent showdown is sure to break out when the agreement officially expires on January 16th. Nevertheless, violence has flared even while the cease-fire remains in effect. Clashes erupted in the northern part of the country on Friday and the LTTE was suspected in an IED attack on a military convoy on Wednesday.

My Opinion:

The cease-fire never did any good because neither side was interested in peace. This is a conflict that requires a political solution and cannot be won through military and guerilla warfare. If the Tamil Tigers truly want an independent state, they should disarm, renounce terrorism, and approach the west to help them make their case to the Sri Lankan government in Colombo. The only drawback to such a plan would be that it could parallel the situation in Gaza, where Hamas and Fatah have been fighting over the notion of a peace deal with Israel.

Losing touch with reality?

Well, I was right. Barack Obama did win the Iowa caucus yesterday, and like I said I would, I congratulate him over his victory. However, there are some rather alarming results that have come up as well.

First of all, Iowa's conservatives decided to go with Mike Huckabee, a man who by his own admission claims to know nothing about foreign policy. The far-right is so wrapped up in its obsession over abortion and gay rights that they completely overlooked the two republican candidates who see the broader picture: Rudy Giuliani and John Mccain. Last week I was listening to Sean Hannity's radio show when a man called in and proclaimed that he would not be voting for anyone who was pro-choice or in favor of gay marriage. Seeing as Mike Huckabee is a step closer to taking the GOP nomination, it looks like that's where the lines are drawn: between right and left. No one out there seems to care about right and wrong.

While I was disappointed that Huckabee one last night, I was even more alarmed that Ron Paul was the winner of a Myspace primary conducted recently. I know, I know, it's just a stupid Internet poll, but that website has millions of users...I wouldn't be surprised if more people voted in the Myspace poll than in the Iowa caucus, where only about 100,000 people from farm country go out and vote. Paul also came in fifth place in Iowa...ahead of Rudy Giuliani and Duncan Hunter. The fact that this kook was able to take in more than 10% of the vote is rather frightening. Remember, this is a man who who wants to withdraw all troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and most of the world, believes isolationism and non-intervention are the answer to solving the problems facing the international community, and launches verbal tirades on Abraham Lincoln for going to war against the south and starting the Civil War. If the majority of myspace users and 10% of Iowa caucus goers actually believe in this nut's world views, we should be very afraid. Let's not forget that this guy has also managed to raise record fundraising in very little time, so obviously there are plenty of people who are just as nutty as he is if they are willing to give him money. 10% of the people who voted yesterday have indeed lost touch with reality.

The Democrats...

It was encouraging to see the majority of democratic voters choose someone who is honest and stands up for what he believes in, as opposed to a flip-flopping phony like Hillary Clinton or John Edwards. While I don't really agree with ANYTHING Barack Obama says on foreign policy, I do commend him for standing up for standing up for his beliefs. For example, Obama has been against the Iraq War from the beginning, while Clinton and Edwards have gone back and forth, making statements over the years that often contradict each other and their original position: which was to authorize the war and take military action against Saddam Hussein. Although they would like to rewrite history, the fact remains that both Edwards and Hillary were just as anxious to go into Iraq and get rid of Saddam as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Despite that, Edwards just recently declared he would withdraw all troops from Iraq...including those who are helping to train the Iraqis. With all of the success we've had in Iraq, why John Edwards would want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with such an idiotic statement is beyond me.

Now that Iowa's over, its time to get ready for New Hampshire. United World has not made any predictions yet, but it would be good if Romney, Giuliani, or Mccain is able to beat Mike Huckabee and put and end to this extreme, far-right conservatism that is sweeping across the republican side and drowning out the voices of reason and unity. It also wouldn't be bad if Obama can manage a victory and put Clinton and Edwards out for good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hopes and predictions for the Iowa Caucus

Not that I'm anything close to someone who knows what their talking about when it comes to analyzing polls and predicting the outcomes of elections, but I figure I'd take some guesses. The truth is, my mind has been over in other parts of the world, in places like the Middle East, North Africa, and Russia.

As far as the Republicans go, I think Mitt Romney will win tomorrow. For the democrats, I think it will be Obama...

Yes, Barack Obama, a man who I have a lot of respect for due to his honesty. I even think he has some good ideas for solving some of the domestic issues in this country. However, I don't think he has a clue about what's going on in the world today. Nevertheless, I will be happy for him if he wins.

As I said before, my favorite candidate so far is probably Rudy Giuliani, seeing as he separates himself from the extreme right unlike so many other republicans. Unfortunately, he has a very small following in Iowa and is trailing way behind in the polls.

I also like Mitt Romney. His views about solving the problems facing the world are similar to Giuliani's, he just has a record of extremism when it comes to gay marriage. It's important to note that I'm far more concerned about about a bloody salafist terror group trying to impose its will on countries like Iraq, Algeria, and Pakistan than I am about two dudes, or girls for that matter, falling in love and getting married. A personal issue like that isn't going to blow up a cafe or cut people's heads off.

What about Mike Huckabee, the self proclaimed "dearth" on foreign policy and right-wing Christian minister who has frequently gone after Romney's mormon faith. I really don't like him, but obviously I will support him over the democratic nominee should he get the nomination.

Now, should Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, or Ron Paul ever get elected president I will be going into self-imposed exile somewhere overseas, probably in Dublin, Ireland. All of those people repulse me beyond all reason, with Edwards and Paul being the worst. Just today, Edwards announced he would pull all troops out of Iraq...even the ones training the Iraqis so they can take control of their country...and he said it with a smile on his face. The man has sold his soul to far-left bloggers and its really shameful, seeing as the man voted to authorize the war in the first place.

So here are my predictions...Romney for the republicans, Obama for the democrats. Get out there and vote Iowans.

Algeria on high alert after fuel tankers go missing

A quick update on the ongoing situation in Algeria...this is pretty disturbing.

A report has surfaced out of the Algerian capital of Algiers that several fuel tanker trucks were stolen, increasing fears that Al-Qaeda in North Africa could be preparing more attacks of catostrophic proportions. Earlier today, the group claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a police station east of the capital that left four policemen dead.

Meanwhile, a man suspected of being the mastermind behind the April 11th attacks on the Prime Minister's office has been arrested by security forces.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

History repeats itself...

This is a report coming out of Kenya from the AP, where a rather disturbing situation has been developing over the last 48 hours. Ethnic strife is happening again on the African continent, reciprocating itself yet again, this time in a country that is said to be one of East Africa's most prosperous democracies.

Kenya Church Torched, 50 Reported Killed
Tuesday, January 01, 2008

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY and TOM ODULA, Associated Press Writers

NAIROBI, Kenya — A mob torched a church where hundreds had sought refuge Tuesday, and witnesses said dozens of people _ including children _ were burned alive or hacked to death with machetes in ethnic violence that followed Kenya's disputed election.

The killing of up to 50 ethnic Kikuyus in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret brought the death toll from four days of rioting to more than 275, raising fears of further unrest in what has been one of Africa's most stable democracies.

The latest violence recalled scenes from the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when more than a half-million people were killed. The question facing Kenya is whether the politicians will lose control of the mobs, triggering a civil war.

President Mwai Kibaki, who was swiftly inaugurated for a second term Sunday after a vote that critics said was rigged, called for a meeting with his political opponents _ a significant softening of tone for a man who rarely speaks to the press and who vowed to crack down on rioters.

But opposition candidate Raila Odinga refused, saying he would meet Kibaki only "if he announces that he was not elected." Odinga accused the government of stoking the chaos, telling The Associated Press in an interview that Kibaki's administration "is guilty, directly, of genocide."