Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is killing ever justified?

Self-defence is a right that everyone should enjoy. Paralysing an attacker isn’t the same as killing him/her.

There is no excuse to kill a person with intent. This amounts to taking the law in one’s hand. Killing can be possible only in special circumstances when there is just the choice of killing or being killed.

However, there are cases in which murder is committed because of the loss of temper, which starts in a violent argument ending in a fatal action.

Killing for some is a matter of survival, when it comes to preserving a passionate relationship and the victim is seen as a threat to it. It can be due to feud between gangs etc.

But when the law is strong and society is nurtured with the principle to respect life, the chances of murder become extremely rare. There are two countries that are in sharp contrast: Japan and South Africa. In Japan, there is one of the biggest rates of suicide but very rare cases of murder. In South Africa, it is estimated that about 30,000 are killed every year. So the more murder there is, the more desire for revenge. It’s a vicious circle.

When the law and justice are well carried out, people can feel safe and the risk of killing or being killed will be very minimal.

Here is a poem by Robert Frost : “Fire and Ice“, which sums up the drive to kill, namely hate which can be the cause of fatal revenge.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Celebrities, fame and shame

Celebrities have their ups and downs like anyone. Their talents make them a success to emulate and get inspired by. They become public property as their private lives become a public concern. However, the public should be responsible for their own action. They shouldn’t blindly follow their favourite stars. This amounts to total enslavement to them and to the lack of having independent judgement.

Celebrities like Amy Winehouse show that fame isn’t without a price. They have to struggle to have a balanced life through destructive means like drugs. Amy Winehouse remains a role model that keeps her fans worried about her because she has so far failed to take a responsible decision to carry a normal life without (excessive) use of drugs.

Her songs make people happy, but she, the source of this happiness, is now frequently plunged in fits of bad health related to irresponsible conduct.

Let’s not generalize when it comes to fame and responsibility. There are many stars who act responsibly. There are famous actors who are committed both artistically and personally. There are goodwill ambassadors. One of my favourite actors is Richard Gere, who is a role model for the causes he stands for (like the Tibet issue and the fights against AIDS.

There are stars like Will Smith who started from scratch to world stardom. Amy Winehouse and other stars can be just an exception of those who can’t have a balanced life. In other words, like any population, in the artists population there may be a fraction of those who can’t get a stable life. People should choose what’s good for them and be supportive for those who need help, including seemingly successful artists, who like any human beings have their strong points as well as drawbacks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is it time to stop having children?

An editorial in the British Medical Journal by argues that if you live in the developed world you should stick to two children for the sake of the environment.

Here is the story of a father ( from the United Arab Emirates) who already has 78 children and is aiming to have 100 (yes one hundred children)! Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already had 15 brides although he has to divorce them as he goes along to remain within the legal limit of four wives at a time.

He will to have at least three more marriages to hit the century.

World population can’t multiply indefinitely. There should be a limit to its growth so that it can fit the limited resources of the earth. Even the current population can use up the available resources in a short time, causing huge environmental disasters, if the current consumption is tripled or quadrupled.

It is not enough to have a stable population, but also the mechanism to make each individual aware of his or her responsibility to the planet. This can be achieved if we stick to our basic needs without greed.

In Africa, there are many (poor) families with many children. These are not the cause of environmental problems. It is the rich in the developed countries that cause them these problems – for example- through illegal and excessive logging.

The current population can save the planet by being more environmentally aware and by using product that are environment friendly.

Should we insinuate from John Guillebaud’s editorial that the extra kids of today are the monsters of the future as they will ravish the environment?

There is an old maxim which says, ” Our grandparents left us a safe environment, what environment shall we leave our children?”

With the ageing and falling population in many countries, children are still needed. There are countries like France that provide material incentives incentive to parents to have more children.

What is needed is to create an environmental and population balance for plants, species and people can live in harmony.

Considering kids as the future trouble is like seeing them as time-bomb that should be stifled in the womb.

Can Barack Obama be above criticism?

Obama’s full name is Barack Hussein Obama. This is enough for his opponents to “accuse” him of being a Muslim.

There was an incident in which an advertisement on CNN for a feature about the whereabouts of the al-Qaeda leader carried the caption “Where’s Obama?” over images of Bin Laden. This was due to a misspelling of “Osama”. The CNN apologized for the mistake.

There can be tangible criticism of Obama concerning his policies. But the exploitation of his race, colour and even his name is gratuitous. As a hopeful candidate, he should stand all criticism and be able to ward it off. What will make the presidential campaign thrilling is the aggressive strength of views that shouldn’t leave the voters undecided.

From his speeches and interviews, Barack Obama looks more leaning towards resolving international problems through negotiations rather than war. His appeasing tone towards Iran may have drawn criticism towards him. Some want him to sound more threatening than appeasing.

Concerning his attitudes in the Middle East, some see that he’s more inclined to be responsive to Israel’s concerns because of the strong Jewish lobby in Israel. Like his predecessors, he won’t force Israel to show concessions to the Palestinians, especially the construction of new colonies.

Obama still have to endeavour to convince the voters that he’s the right man for the presidential job, by being categorical on foreign and domestic issues. The slightest slip of tongue or the wrong gesture will be exploited by his opponents, as it was the case during the primary contexts. Obama needs to be more careful, instead of resorting to apologies and clarifications as it happened when two women wearing a Muslim headscarf were barred from sitting next to him.

Is nuclear energy a viable solution?

Nuclear energy should be the last option for developing countries because of the risks it entails in case of a natural disaster or under-funding for the maintenance of the nuclear centres. It can also be used as a weapon by the developed countries that provide its technology to developing countries. In case of economic sanctions, the first thing to do is to deprive the target country from nuclear fuel. Understandably, any developing country wanting to acquire nuclear plants should do so under international supervision. For any country, it can be easy to buy as much oil as it wants and establish oil refineries without being under suspicion.

The world currently holds 1.24 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves and 6,263 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. . As the current daily need of oil is 86 million barrel a day, this means the world has enough oil for the coming 40 years, without counting future oil reserves discoveries.

There are people who accept nuclear energy as an alternative in view of the soaring oil prices. But at the same time, they say, there can be a nuclear station, except in their area.

Although nuclear accidents are rare, their disaster can be far worse than that of an oil refinery bursting into flames.

It will be better to develop clean energies from water, the sun and the wind. Efforts should be made to invent machines needing less energy consumption. Nuclear energy should be the last resort and not the priority, if there are no other options.

Some may argue that nuclear weapons are safe as long as they have never been used. They’re kept under heavy guard. The same can apply to nuclear stations if rigorous security standards are maintained. However, the problem with nuclear stations is the nuclear waste that should be kept in safe places. Dumping underground with vast and growing nuclear waste- should all countries opt for nuclear energy- can itself become a time bomb, threatening the soil which is the source of life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Radovan Karadzic , lost and found

Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, one of the world’s most wanted men, has been arrested in Serbia after more than a decade on the run.

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic must be good news for the relatives and friends of his victims. Justice must be served. Such war criminals have nowhere to hide indefinitely as long as there are concentrated will and efforts to capture them.

Only people with great influence can evade arrest for such a long time in a small country like Serbia. His weight as a prisoner will add weight to the political gain Serbia will have from Europe. He must be seen as big catch that will pave the way for Serbia to consolidate its relations with Western Europe.

In The Hague Court prison, he can have good company with other war criminals like former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mandela's 90th birthday

Here is a slideshow to celebrate Mandela’s 90th birthday.

Nelson Mandela, who sacrificed his youth in prison for the good of his country, is still an inspiration to African generations. During the apartheid era and after stepping down from the presidency, he has remained an icon.
Because he has continued to stand firm on his principles, he has succeeded to keep his glamour all over the world. From his prison cell, he radiated the spirit of freedom to all oppressed South Africans. Now as a free man, he still inspires those seeking a democratic leader in words and actions.

African leaders can learn from him. Being powerful doesn’t mean to stay in office forever. Mandela as a figurehead in his country and in many parts of the world can teach lessons to those who once fought for the freedom of their countries seek to enslave anyone to their regime.
Mandela can be contrasted to Mugabe for whom relinquishing power is a nightmare. While Mandela enjoys respect all over the world, Mugabe is becoming to be seen to many Zimbabweans as a disgrace and to leaders in South Africa as an embarrassment.

Mandela was the symbol of struggle against apartheid. As a man and a head of state, he initiated a new era for South Africa. The struggle against apartheid is now a matter of the past. The new struggle South Africans have is against their current problems. The black majority have only themselves to blame for what is going on now, as the government is in the hands of the ANC.

It is ironic that the level of violence against white minority rule has changed into criminal violence. South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world with the highest rate of murders. There used to be a great divide between blacks and whites during the apartheid era, but now there is a great divide among blacks themselves. There are the have and the have-not.

Apartheid in South Africa is now a matter of the past. The struggle to end white minority rule is over. The burden now is on the current black leadership to engage in ending social strife. Otherwise, poor Africans will have no means but to attack the unprotected foreigners who they think, rightly or wrongly, behind their current difficult situation.

Mandela has accomplished his mission as a fighter and head of state. But a country can’t be built just by one man. South Africa still needs a new successful leadership to start a fight against poverty and violence, which still mar the image of South Africa abroad.

Happy birthday Nelson Mandela!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

To concede or not to concede to kidnappers

Conceding to kidnappers’ demands for the release of hostages will just encourage them to take more of them.

Hostage taking can be for money as it happens in many countries like Brazil or for political reasons as it happens in the Middle East, mainly in Iraq. When it comes to taking hostages just for money, it can be less controversial to concede.

But sometimes, if not all the times, it can be very impossible to concede to kidnappers when it comes to political demands. The USA and UK were ready to “sacrifice” their hostages in Iraq that were later executed rather than withdraw from it.

For Israel, to release Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in return for the bodies of two killed Israeli soldiers is a matter of national pride. But beneath, it is a concession to Hezbullah’s demands to have key prisoners released. But Israel hasn’t conceded totally as the aim of Hezbullah was Israel withdrawal from Shabaa Farms. It seems Israel and Hezbullah are now the hostage of their political differences. In view of their irreconcilable approaches, neither will be released from the political stalemate they are both facing at the expenses of hundreds of deaths on both sides, as it was the case during their 2006 summer war.

The way the hostages were liberated in Colombia must have come after the exhaustion of all diplomatic efforts to free them. There were mediations mainly by France and Venezuela.

The operation to free them was a part of the war against FARC. War is also cunning. Any means to have victory is justifiable. The use of the Red Cross symbol was just part of the series of “lies” the Colombian government used to deceive FARC.

The Colombian government came out victorious, leaving FARC red-faced and the Red Cross embarrassed. But as long as the Red Cross wasn’t involved in any way in the Colombian government’s “trick”, it shouldn’t be blamed. After all, even rebels use fake uniforms of government soldiers to carry out their out their operations. When it’s war and everything is a matter of life of death, any clever means are acceptable.

Just the success of the operation outdoes James Bond’s operations. His are just fiction. This operation was really real without cut and replay.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is American culture enriching?

American culture is dominant because of the means it has to flourish.

In terms of entertainment, The USA has 120,000 actors and 12,000 scriptwriters, plus the latest technology to make to make the best films. It’s no wonder if US movies have global appeal. American star actors and singers are famous worldwide. Once becoming a star in the USA- whether American or not- it’s a guarantee to become a star worldwide.

It’s hard to deny that American culture didn’t enrich or influence the cultures of other countries. In the Arab world, there are music channels showing video clips of singers in the American style. Young people there are more attracted to rhythmic songs with simple words, in which female singers have to be sensual in both voice and appearance. The most famous sensual Arab singer is Haifa Wehbi

In Morocco, the encroachment of American culture is visible through the spread- among other things - of rap music, now popular among the young. McDonald restaurants are in all the big cities in the country. Jeans are still very popular.

American culture has a great influence because it has the ability to renovate itself. It is itself the product of the mix of other cultures. The American movies aren’t all about the USA. There are for example movies about the East, bringing to viewers the aspects of other cultures.

When it comes to cultures, it’s better to get enriched by any of them. It’s a way to learn to appreciate those who are different from us culturally. What is unacceptable is to let one’s culture vanish because of the glamour of a foreign one that is constantly innovative, entertaining and more practical.

Working children

In developing countries, it’s all normal for children to start work at a very early age. Their parents consider this as way for them to get the skills of the job when they grow up, as it is a source of income for the family. Many parents can’t afford to send their children to school because of distance or the cost.

As compromise, working children should be given the opportunity to get basic education, at least not to remain illiterate. In poor countries, it’s hard to end child labour, as governments have no alternatives to help their parents to provide for them.

What is bad about child labour is when children are forced to do work beyond their capacity or when they are exposed to hazardous conditions. In as sense, it’s better to have working children rather than street children who resort to theft, prostitution and begging to survive.

As long as poverty exists and it is impossible to enforce laws regarding child labour, there will be in effect no age at which children shouldn’t work. There will continue to be very young girls working as maids in homes as there will be boys doing all types of jobs under the eyes of the authorities supposed to protect them.

Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa

Concerning the problems of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, it goes without saying that a government can’t solve the problems of another. The political forces in Zimbabwe should be above self-interest and join their heads to find lasting solutions instead of using fists, literally or metaphorically.

Continuous mistreatment of the Zimbabweans at home and in South Africa will just perpetuate their suffering that will need a long time to heal even after the outcome of a supposedly political settlement.

The situation of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa and other neighbouring countries is the result of the political situation in Zimbabwe where the economic situation is probably much worse than anywhere in the rest of Africa.
South Africa itself still suffers from economic and social problems embodied in its poor shanty towns and the high level of crimes. It can’t alone bear the burden of another country’s problems, from which there are refugees in millions.

Surely the impoverished refugees don’t seek to overstay their welcome in a country where hostility was manifest in atrocious violence leading to death, injuries and confiscation of belonging.

The international community seems complacent about what is taking place in Zimbabwe, except for France, UK and the USA, which tried to impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, but which was vetoed at the Security Council by China and Russia.

What can save Zimbabwe is that they all should forget about their political differences and start a new approach to the chronic situation which is affecting Zimbabweans in their countries and in the neighbouring countries where they’re taking refuge.

Thabo Mbeki has failed to broker a deal between MDS and Zanu-PF. Mugabe has escaped Security Council sanctions, which must be a boost for him to continue his grip on power, but this is no boost for the parties to get Zimbabwe out of its current deadlock. MDC has popular support as its weapon. Robert Mugabe has the support of the army. These forces should come together for a peaceful and political agreement to save the country instead of continuing to flex the muscles that just keeps weakening the country to the level of total bankruptcy.

Mugabe was in a hurry to see Zimbabwe all black as if evicting the whites from their farms was for him exorcising himself from a devil that had been haunting him all his life.Mugabe could have made a compromise with the white without evicting them from their farms. They could keep the farms and get a certain proportion of the benefits that can be beneficial to all parties.

Evicting the white from their farms was like throwing an experienced board of a company and leaving the company to workers with no experience in management related to production and marketing.

Mugabe’s political blindness was probably related to his obsession with the past under white rules that prevented him from seeing the long-term effect of his rush actions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Is it art or pornography to take picturs of naked children?

A demure photograph of a naked female sitting on a rock with white cliffs in the background. Not that controversial you may think, what if I then say the naked female is six years old? The picture has been put on the cover of Australia’s leading arts journal Art Monthly. Kevin Rudd, the Aussie PM, says it’s “disgusting”, others say naked images of children are sexual and should therefore be banned. But should it?

Children need protection from all sorts of exploitation, including being photographed naked for the purpose of arousing excitement.

For people obsessed with sex, any naked beautiful body of whatever age has sexual suggestion and not considered as a piece of art.

In some societies, especially the African ones, it is all normal for very young (male) children to be seen naked in their neighbourhood, due either to poverty or culture. But in other cultures, a child of whatever age shouldn’t be seen naked as it is considered indecent or an invitation to paedophiles.

For a paedophile, the picture of a naked child has only sexual meaning. It has nothing to do with art. Not all parents want their children to be seen naked in public galleries and on websites. They see this as total obscenity.

Child privacy should be protected by the adults. There are other ways of artistically depicting the beauty of childhood without stripping children naked for exhibition in public places frequented by the well and the not-so-well intentioned visitors.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Should cannabis be legalized?

Cannabis has been used in Morocco for a long time. For its consumption, a tool called sebsi is used. The processed cannabis is called kief . This cannabis should be considered as a soft drug, but it is still considered as illegal to purchase it although people in the past used to smoke it in public without being arrested. Now with the crackdown on using and dealing in drugs of all sorts, people use it on the sly.

Morocco is one of the biggest producers of cannabis. The production area is in the north of the country which is the closest to Europe. Its production has made many drug dealers some of the richest in the country through money laundering in Morocco and Spain the country where it is sold and which also serves as a transit to other European countries. Now there is the start of a crackdown on the lands where it is produced and on the drug barons.

But Morocco has been under pressure from the EU to control cannabis production and sale by gangs, which has led to the arrest of drug dealers and many security personnel for facilitating drug trafficking. The most famous of them is Abdelaziz Izzou, who was serving as head of security at Morocco's royal palaces when he was arrested

Legalizing cannabis will have a disastrous effect on Morocco where the majority of its citizens are still young. It will lead just to its over-consumption with its dire consequences on their physical and mental health. There are other ways for people to feel euphoric by engaging in physical, mental and spiritual exercises without having to try a herb, addiction to which will tempt the young to use hard drugs. It’s like getting addicted to alcohol. For alcoholic, they need strong liquor around the hour, which of course has an effect on their health.

Instead of envisaging legalizing cannabis, efforts should be made to dissuade people from using it and to open rehabilitation centres. Alcohol at least doesn’t kill through “second-hand drinking”. Cannabis as a smoke can affect non-smokers who inhale it from its direct users.

As one variation of drug, leads to another, those using soft drugs will be tempted to use hard drugs. If cannabis is legalized, maybe in the future there will be calls to legalize other forms of drugs. Contrary to the view that legalizing cannabis can solve economic and security problems, it may lead to more problems, as there will be efforts to deal with the use of hard drugs resulting from using soft drugs.

Instead of allocating ( more) land for growing more cannabis as an economic activity, more of it should be allocated to grow more food in view of its current high prices and shortage. Food processing can also create more jobs without raising any ethical or social controversy. It can be easier to ask people to eat moderately (as food isn’t and addiction) than to ask people to abstain from cannabis or use it “healthily when it is available at the market like any other normal commodity.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Religious (in)equality

For religion to survive in the modern world, it needs to adapt to its reality, especially when it comes to equality between men and women concerning religious practices. As men and women should worship God in the same way, women should also have the same rights as women in assuming religious responsibilities.

But in the Revealed Religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam), men exploit verses showing the supremacy of men over women in matters of religion. There was also the belief that women should be seen and not heard as when they speak they shouldn’t show their faces and when they show their faces, they shouldn’t speak.

In Morocco, there have been attempts to “liberalise” the religious field by appointing female preachers. Morocco has appointed 50 women as state preachers for the first time as part of the government's drive to promote a more tolerant version of Islam. . But it is still a long way for them to be Imams, that is conducting prayers in mosques or reading Friday’s sermons or become the heads of regional religious councils.

There is still the issue of inheritance. In Islam, a woman gets only half of what a man gets when it comes to sharing inheritance after the death of a relative they are entitled to inherit.

Religion will continue to be a dilemma when it comes to deciding between what is divine and mundane. It isn’t convincing to tell women to bear with the supremacy of men in religious matter because if they are good practising and acquiescent, they will be compensated for that in the after-life with eternal bliss in heaven.

It’s a matter of habit. Now women can hold every top position, including heads of states. They can be in the armed and police forces and judges- to cite just some examples - to enforce the law, so why can’t they hold the highest position in religious matters. Partly, it has to do with the mentality of men who still see a woman deficient both in intelligence and spirituality!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nuclear weapons, the-have and the-have-not

Israel and Iran used to be great friends until the overthrow of the Shah and the start of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The religious leaders’ aim was to liberate Palestine. Since then the Iranian regime has been a nightmare for the West, particularly Israel and the USA.

The enmity between Israel and Iran is now about thirty years old that was translated in proxy wars in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006 summer and through Iran’s direct support of Hamas. Such indirect wars look benign compared to the threat of a nuclear war between the two countries should Iran develop a nuclear bomb.

Israel has the experience of attacking suspected nuclear installations in the Middle East. It attacked Iraq’s nuclear complex in 1981. as it attacked a military installation in Syria . Israel in a sense feels empowered to attack suspected installation without fearing international reprisal. Israel can be emboldened to carry an air attack on Iran with the tacit blessing of the West, particularly, the USA. Such a strike would save the West the efforts of years of negotiations with Iran, coaxing it with economic and technological incentives and threatening it with further sanctions.

Iran and Israel have the right to exist as sovereign states, but it will be better if they find ways to coexist rather than seek to annihilate each other. It’s a fact that Israel is a nuclear power and it is unlikely that it will be forced to destroy its nuclear weapons, the only source it has to match the millions of soldiers and their equipments from the countries opposed to it in the Arab and the Muslim world should they one day form a coalition to attack it. The Iranian regime feels under threat of being weakened and attacked because of its open opposition to Western values. Currently it has oil as a weapon to make its presence felt in the region and the world. Getting nuclear is likely to change the political balance in the region in its favour. That’s the worst thing the West, especially the USA and Israel do fear it can, happen.

The only thing that can wipe out all fears on both sides is to find peaceful solutions to the problems currently facing the Middle East, through which Israel will be recognised by all the states in the region with which it can have peace agreements. Without a peace deal with Iran, Syria and Lebanon, among other things, the conflict will continue and the need to acquire sophisticated weapons, including nuclear ones, will continue on the part of Iran and any other country in the region vehemently opposed to Israel.

Gun Possession

Gun possession has been a hot issue in many countries like Brazil and the USA. Each time a crime occurs, especially the one in which there is the storming of building like schools or armed robbery of financial institutions like banks, there is a call for tight control on gun possession and sale.

A gun can be more dangerous in societies suffering from lawlessness, poverty and Mafia-like groups which controls areas in the country and cities without the long arm of the law being able to reach them. In Brazil, there are cases of prisons in which prisoners were armed with guns, which had led to a mutiny. Despite all this, a proposal to ban the sale of guns in Brazil was defeated by a clear majority in a referendum .

South Africa is the most dangerous country in Africa with a high rate of gun-related crimes resulting in more than 10,000 deaths annually. This is far worse than the USA.
A gun is not used just to kill, but also as a threat, a means to kidnap and rob as it is used for celebrations as it is the case in some Middle East countries like Jordan and Iraq where shots are fired in the air.

There are still those who believe an armed society is a polite society. As countries with nuclear weapons feel safer than those without them, there are also individuals who think feeling safe is to have a gun. At least a potential aggressor will think twice before attempting an attack.
In the case of the use, gun sale is an economic activity. With tight control, this means this business will go bust. Some will even argue a total ban on gun possession is a threat to American culture where it is as normal and easy to possess a gun as to possess as knife.

A gun isn’t the only means to feel safe. It also depends on the effective use of a gun when it attacked. A gun can be for some a means to feel secure. But there are chances to be overpowered with many skilled gunmen and there is nothing that can be done. It will be scary if everybody moves around with a gun, ready to reach to it instead of reaching to a (self)- phone for help. People should easy means to live in peace and easy means to gun down for every provocation. A society whose members are peaceful needs just the police and the army to protect it and not gunmen who can easily take the law in their hands. The gun isn’t dangerous by itself. It is as dangerous as it is made to be. The gun doesn’t trigger itself and chooses its targets. It is its possessor or manipulator who makes it kill. So legislation banning or allowing gun possession has to go in line with the fabric of societies. A killer is a killer. If he needs a gun or any murderous weapon, he will get it.

Mugabe, a power maniac

It seems Mugabe has lost touch with reality. As he considers himself as appointed by God, he no longer cares about what people on Earth think of him, including his long time friends like Nelson Mandela and the president of Angola. Perhaps, he is still waiting for a divine power to deliver his country from the current crisis.

Mugabe sees no one worth having any moral authority on him. It’s not unlikely that he will vent his anger on Mandela by describing as stooge of the West, particularly, the UK where Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday and where the queen stripped Mugabe of his knighthood.

Perhaps it took long for Mandela to be outspoken against Mugabe, because from his experience he knew he wasn’t the kind of man that can step down for the stability of his country but can only sticks to power to fight his countrymen after ending his fight against the white rulers.

If the whole international community can’t figure out a solution to Zimbabwe’s current problems, Mugabe will continue to govern his country until God removes him from office, of course by death. As long as he is alive cherishing international incapacity to deal with him, Zimbabwe should brace itself for other years of acute hardship.

THe new situation in Iraq

The situation on Iraq still needs improvement despite a decrease in violence. There are still social problems resulting from unemployment and the displacement of the Iraqis, about two million of whom are now refugees in neighbouring countries, mainly Jordan and Syria.
The situation in Iraq shouldn’t be a political tool for the presidential candidates, especially John McCain who has been outspoken about the continuous military presence in Iraq and defending George Bush’s policy there.

What can make Iraq stable is that all the Iraqis should come to their senses and consider their first enemy is disunity. As Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, they have lived together for hundreds of years under good and bad days. They still have a chance to unite. Surely, they can’t live forever under the protection of foreign forces which have so far failed to bring full stability to the country as there are still incidences of violence and bombing.

One thing is sure. Iraq still needs foreign forces to prevent deterioration in its security situation. There is still much needed to be built, in addition to infrastructure, there is the permanent trust that should be between all the Iraqi components through shared hard work and equitable distribution of national wealth.

The Iraqis have lost a great deal under Saddam Hussein who used Iraq’s wealth for his wars that plunged the country in further crises after the international sanctions. The Iraqis have lived some of the worst years in their history following the US invasion. Maybe they still have an opportunity to rebuild their life by burying all their hatchets and starting to plough their land to get whatever fruit that will benefit all.

Interferring in other countries' policies

International relations should be based on respecting the sovereignty of each country, but at the same time, countries should not turn a blind eye to the excesses that can happen in any particular one. An independent country doesn’t mean its regime is free to govern its people without guaranteeing them basic right human rights and good governance. It’s one thing for a country to choose a political system, but it’s another to have a regime that enslaves its people by not allowing them the right to choose and govern itself through democratic process.

It is unlikely that the UN will adopt a resolution by which it will have the right to directly topple regimes that have exaggerated its abuses or shown incompetence in governing. The best thing to do is to isolate it economically and diplomatically. Military interventions are an infringement on a country’s sovereignty and it will set a precedent for automatic military interventions in any country surrounded by hostile ones. This is likely to be unpopular by the people themselves as they will see it as an occupation or a continuous domination by foreign powers.

Military interventions can be possible only in weak countries. But it’s unlikely to take place in countries with heavy military machine like Burma and North Korea. Any force trying to invade them will sustain heavy casualties, not to mention the veto of China to do so. Military interventions can’t be a general rule. As for the diplomatic and economic sanctions against a hostile regime can work if they are taken unanimously. Many regimes survive just by establishing good relations just with a few reliable countries. Mugabe is surviving thanks to the economic ties he has with SADC, mainly with South Africa.

There are also the political calculations of the worth of a massive intervention in a country’s affair, especially when it comes to military action. NATO military intervened in Serbia because the situation there worsened by genocide was a threat to the image of Europe as a free continent and it couldn’t allow those things happen on its soil when the like of them were taking place elsewhere in parts of Africa like Liberia.

What remains as a solution is to starve authoritarian and abusive regimes of all the means to survive and to give a boost to the opposition committed to democracy and to hope for the best to come.

Morgan Tsvangirai withdrawing from presidential race

Morgan Tsvangirai was right to withdraw from the presidential elections. He is just a human being. He can’t fight Robert Mugabe who considers himself as appointed by God and only God can remove him from power.

Just for Mugabe to state that only God could remove him from power means that the Zimbabweans have no right to intervene in this divine selection. And as believers in God, it’s their destiny to put up with a God-chosen leader. Any harm that can from him (Mugabe) is just a test for Zimbabwean believers to what extent they can endure in this world before they enjoy the eternal bliss in the other life.

Mugabe as it seems has become drunk with power. He can’t see anyone who can outdo him in Zimbabwe. He doesn’t care about the will of his people. As a God-favourite, he sees them as his disciples. They have no right to choose any way of life without his guidance. It’s better for the Zimbabweans to call him Prophet Mugabe, as it is beneath him even to be called president. With his blessing, they can have mercy from him, at least to live without being beaten up for trivial reasons, like not being able to cite his party’s slogan.

Western style

There is nothing wrong in taking the best of western lifestyle. But it will be better to be true to one’s roots. In the West, there are large communities of immigrants who stick to their culture in term of conducting their daily lives like cooking and socializing.

The world will be boring without multiculturalism. Western lifestyle should be part of it to offer diversity. People in the West can have something to learn from other cultures. Other cultures should not be just a Western tourist attraction or materials for movies and TV documentaries.

There are some people from the West who migrate to developing countries in appreciation for their culture and lifestyle as a break from Western lifestyle.

Teenage motherhood

It was all normal for teenage girls to have children as many of them used to get married just after puberty , that is at the age of 14.

Today there is the issue with teenage girls who get children out of wedlock. Such girls have to be bear more responsibilities than teenage wives in the past who were just mere housewives, having their husbands provide for them. Today, they may be still students and they have to care for their studies. It can be difficult for them to be both mothers and students at this age. There are who can’t cope and so they give up their children for adoption.

But when pregnancy happens, at least he family of the teenage mother should be supportive. Some girls want to have the experience of being mothers without waiting to get married or be in their twenties. Such girls should get the guidance to take care of their children although they have the mother’s instinct to protect them. However for the good of the child, there is nothing like having a family where the child is surrounded by both the father and the mother.

There are still many teenage wives with children in different societies where the legal age of marriage for females is 16, in others it can be less as the age of marriage is equated with the start of menstruation.

The problem with single teenage mums is that they will find it difficult to raise their children and live their lives normally considering the different requirements of modern society. These mums will find it difficult to be financially independent to have enough money for themselves and their children. The first victim of a bad teenage mum is the child, especially if the mum becomes cut off from her family or when she is a drug addict. This can have bad effects on the child who should enjoy a normal family life.

Energy soaring prices

What is currently needed is transparency at the oil markets dominated by speculators, political stability in the Middle East, where the situation in Iraq and the West’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear issue affect prices.

An increase in oil search is unlikely to have immediate effect as it takes years both to find oil and to commercialise it. For the case of the USA, drilling its coasts for about 19 billion barrels of oil, it wouldn’t see a drop of that offshore oil for at least a decade. Its coastal oil supply would translate to 2 1/2 years worth of oil at current consumption levels.

An increase in search for oil is just a long term strategy as drilling and producing will takes years. Speculators act on the spur of the moment. They are likely to continue to manipulate the market as long as there are no political measures to curb their influence. The producing states like Venezuela won’t miss this rare opportunity of price booms to make the biggest profit.

What drives the prices up, in addition to increasing demands, is the lack of stability. In Nigeria, for example, there arte attacks on oil installations and strikes halting the production. In Iraq, the lack of security hampers full capacity production. In case of a military attack on Iran, the prices will even go higher. It is also used as a weapon by other states like Russia.

Other sources of energy should be explored and developed like solar, wind and hydro energies. The Congo River can generate elecricity electricity for 500 million people in Africa.. But DR Congo first needs peace and stability for the realisation of this project. If these sources are used to produce electricity for homes and other small electric gadgets, there will be less pressure on oil as it can be used for big machines, which currently can’t be run with the alternative sources mentioned.

As oil isn’t everlasting, it can create more problems. Its shortage can cause a big economic crisis, not to mention the ecological disasters ensuing from its extensive use. More efforts should be done to develop the alternative sources although it will take a long time to make them the principal means to produce energy.