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Joining NATO and the EU are high priorities for Bosnia: Emir Poljo Ambassador to Norway

Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times Mr. Hatef Mokhtar with the Ambassador of Bosnia – Herzegovina at the Embassy in Oslo, Norway.

Exclusive Interview with the Honorable Ambassador of Bosnia–Herzegovina to Norway, Mr Emir Poljo
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First of all, The Oslo Times (TOT) is honored and privileged to be able to have this session with you. We really appreciate you for managing time amidst your busy schedule for us and our readers worldwide, who would be reading this interview as we publish it on our website.

Our first question to you is:

TOT: Bosnia–Herzegovina has come a long way from its tumultuous beginning after the dissolution of Yugoslavia followed by the bloody Bosnian War. Shedding its communist past, it started a journey on the path of democracy and set its sights on greater involvement with the international community adopting policies and agendas accordingly. How far do you think the country has been successful in acting within the democratic political framework? Going a little back, was this transition from communism to democracy in the best interest of the common people, and if so, how?

Ambassador: First I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak for this prestigious media. I would like to congratulate for your efforts to promote the universal values of freedom, peace and democracy, through your media. Now let me answer to your question.
Fall of the Berlin Wall in autumn 1989 signaled the end of the ideology of single-mindedness at the world political scene and awakened the hope of many people who have been victims of political mindedness which we recognize as communism. It was a historical process of world-wide politics and my country did not, nor  it was able to influence the development of these events. My country was naturally affected by these changes. Freedom and democracy are awaited with enthusiasm among the people of my country. Bosnia and Herzegovina just like other countries, in these new circumstances demanded its place on political scene. Unfortunately, as is well known, Bosnia paid the highes price of change. Today, we can say that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina like majority of people in the world is enjoying fruits of freedom that they have voted for. Price was expensive and infinitely costly, but between slavery and freedom we have chosen freedom, and today we are proud of it. Peace, freedom and democratic values that is heritage of our society for 17 years now are the greatest benefit enjoyed by the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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TOT: What are the major challenges that politicians of Bosnia–Herzegovina had faced, and are still facing, in their bid to make the country more democratically vibrant and adopt pro-people policies befitting a sovereign nation?
Ambassador: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in transition. This process of transition undergone by many countries of the Eastern bloc in the case of my country takes place more slowly. The reason for this is that the consequences of the war brought with it many material as well as spiritual harm. Consistent implementation of the peace agreement (Dayton Peace Accord), dealing with the consequences of the war, the preservation of peace and reconciliation among the nations, the transition from the state and public property to private owned properties and the setup of a market economy are some of the most pressing challenges that leadership of my country is facing. In addition to all those elements mentioned above the biggest challenge is also how to overcome the consequences of the global economic crises that is affecting my country as well.
TOT: Bosnia–Herzegovina is a potential candidate for the membership of the European Union and has been a candidate for NATO membership since April 2010. In your opinion, what are the major areas of development in which the country has made significant strides bolstering its confidence to apply for the memberships?
Ambassador: BiH is today recognized as a modern European country that is trying to meet as soon as possible all the necessary requirements for become a member of two respectable global alliances such as NATO and the EU. We are half way gone in achiving those goals. The same proces are undergoing the other states of Former Yugoslavija, and Croatia will this summer become a member of EU. In a case of my country the greatest success of all this effort lies in the fact that there is full political consensus of all the political actors regarding our way to EU and NATO. This is very important in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina having in mind its demographic structure of the population. Joining NATO and the EU are the main priorities of our foreign policy.

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TOT: How far do you think the country has been on the track after becoming a member-state of the Council of Europe in 2002 and consecutively the founding member of the Mediterranean Union in 2008?

Ambassador: Our membership in these organizations will confirm the commitment of my country to be equal and active member of the European Union and the Mediterranean Union, since geopolitically we belong to both. It will also confirm that we are ready to share the same European democratic values with the other member states of EU. Membership in the Mediterranean Union is part of our commitment to develop regional cooperation and thus contribute to improving the overall bilateral relations between the countries of the region.

TOT: Bosnia–Herzegovina has come a long way since its independence in 1992 and is now being looked at as one of the strategically important countries in the region, paving the way for forming and deepening strategic cooperation with various power blocs including NATO.
a.) After NATO’s recognition of Bosnia as a potential candidate for its membership, how does the country plan to carry forward relations with the western military alliance and what benefits can it achieve in the process?
b.) If Bosnia becomes a full-fledged NATO member, will it have any effect on the relations with Russia and other erstwhile countries of the Soviet bloc?

Ambassador: Well you’ve noticed it correctly. Bosnia is one of the strategically most important countries in the Western Balkans. As result of this we are putting all our efforts in our primer political interest and priority of the first category and that is peace. Peace is needed for every citizen of Bosnia, of the Western Balkans, of Europe and the World. Because of the known historical circumstances this part of the world deserves the establishment of such political relationships and alliances that will guarantee the long-term, stable and lasting peace. This is not only important for Bosnia but for the region as a whole. NATO is not only military but also political alliance because most of the countries of the European Union are also member states of the NATO alliance. Interests and goals are identical, and they are to provide a sustainable, long-lasting and stable peace. Given the fact that this region geopolitically belongs to Europe, it is understandable why we are moving towards European integration. In addition to all this, I have to be honest with you and to let you know that my country in order to achieve this goal needs support and help of international community. It is important to underline the fact that we want to build a partnership with NATO, because we believe that we can contribute to the peace in the world together with other member states. The fact that our troops are already participating in peacekeeping missions around the world, proves our willingness to contribute. Also, I’m quite sure that this will not affect our very good relations with Russia and other former Eastern bloc countries. We do not want to compromise our good relationship with East but to further develop good relationship with West as well as with East. In addition to all this, I wonder who would not want peace in Bosnia and in the Balkans, the peace that brings every kind of prosperity and well-being?!?

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TOT: Bosnia–Herzegovina has successfully resolved nearly all its territorial disputes with the neighboring countries, but there are still deep-seated ethnic tensions with Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia, particularly with Serbia, with whom its diplomatic relations are still sensitive.
a.) So what are the reservations that Bosnia–Herzegovina seeks for its ethnicities in these countries to dial down the tensions?
b.) How much progress has been made in establishing diplomatic relations with these countries which were once parts of a greater conglomeration called Yugoslavia?
Ambassador: Unfortunately, it is not possible to objectively answer this question in a few sentences. I would like to emphasize that the establishment of long-term stable and good bilateral relations with our neighboring countries, particularly Croatia and Serbia, is as important priority, as it is our effort to join the EU and NATO. Simply there is future without resolving all outstanding issues with Croatia and especially with Serbia. I think that there is no need to elaborate all this. These goals we are trying to achieve both bilaterally and multilaterally through various forms of regional cooperation. We have achieved a lot until today and we can be happy with that. For almost two decades we have resolved the issue of communication, where we have a free flow of people, goods and capital.  All this is a prerequisite for our good relations. We have also signed many bilateral agreements which resolved many fundamental political and economic issues of our bilateral relations. Every day these relations are getting better.
It’s hard to build a future when the past keeps reminding you. Our main difficulties are related to our recent and unfortunate past. There are still a lot of prejudices about what has happened, what is true and what is not. However, we try to rely on a single phrase which reads:” If we can not agree about our past, we have to agree about our future”.  To conclude all this, when it is up to our relations with Croatia and Serbia, my country always gives priority to political dialogue that contributes to peace and reconciliation between our people, based of equality among states. Having in mind all sacrifice that people in Bosnia and Herzegovina went through, and in particular the Bosniac nation in Bosnia, we are particularly sensitive when someone in any way is questioning our sacrifice. We will never allow anyone to question the price of peace and freedom that  our citizens have paid with their lives, and which we now enjoy in Bosnia.

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TOT: Bosnia–Herzegovina has growing bilateral relations with Norway. What are the areas of interests in which the country seeks cooperation from Norway?
Ambassador: Our bilateral relations with Norway, especially political relationship, are on a very high level. There are no outstanding issues between our two countries. In particular we are grateful for all support and effort that they are providing us with in order for us to join NATO as soon as possible. As an important member of NATO, Norway’s contribution is of particular importance for us.
The concrete support of Norway during the war reflected the great humanitarian assistance, and after war period Norway helped us in reconstruction of country’s infrastructure, and even today they are helping us in various forms of establishing democratic institutions and in reform of local government.
On the other hand, we must not forget 15 000 BiH citizens who are living in Norway today. They are all on daily bases through their work contributing to our friendly relationship with Norway, since they are loyal to Norway and they are obeying lows of this country. Today, both sides work hard to improve our economic relationship and there are many opportunities, especially in the field of tourism, energy sector, wood and metal industries.

TOT: After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Bosnia–Herzegovina suffered one of the bloodiest armed conflicts in the human history that saw thousands of innocent people killed and nearly a million displaced. With this background in perspective, how do you think the Bosnians see the developments taking place in Syria, Congo, Mali and Afghanistan where thousands of people are being killed and millions being displaced within their own homelands?

Ambassador: I wish that my country never had the experience that you mentioned. My country and its people understand very well the tragedy through which the people of those countries in a war that you are mentioning are going through. Unfortunately, the list of countries where are brutally violated basic human rights is much longer. We as individuals unfortunately can not do much but to sympathize with them. Of course, through our multilateral diplomatic activity we are trying to contribute to the establishment of peace in all the countries where it is needed. Today, small and weak states are not the key factor in establishing peace in the world. Throughout history and even today, it was always a privilege of the great powers. Today, as it was the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is a lack of political will of those big powers to resolve these conflicts, where civilians are the one suffering the most. I will never understand people who do not learn from the past, especially the tragic past. Apparently they are forgetting the universal ethical rule that happiness of one can never be build on the misfortune of other. But it’s not the first time that politics and morality have little in common.

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TOT: Your country practices a unique system of presidential democracy in which each of the three ethnic communities gets an eight-month term to represent and govern the country.
a.) How far do you think this unique model of power-sharing has been successful in maintaining peace and harmony in the country?
b.) What are the other steps that the government of Bosnia has taken to improve the democratic ambience in the country and ensure further representation of the communities in policymaking?
Ambassador: I must remind you that the entire political, constitutional, legal, administrative and electoral system of Bosnia and Herzegovina is product of the Peace Agreement which was signed in November 1995. years in the U.S. military airport base the Right-Paterson at Dayton, Ohio and which is today known as the “Dayton Peace Agreement”. Since the day it was signed until today, during those 17 years it succeeded to establish and maintain peace in Bosnia. This was the biggest result but not the only one. We have built democratic institutions to guarantee respect for fundamental human rights and democratic values in the country. We have to admit that Bosnia has unique constitution in the world. Today, many people in the country and also in the international community believe that this agreement gave its maximum, and that it now in some ways prevents faster integration of country into the global political and economic trends. The biggest problem with Dayton Agreement is huge bureaucratic apparatus that could not be handled by many even more developed countries in the world. Besides being a big burden on the economic development of the country, it also makes states institutions dysfunctional.  We are currently looking for solutions to this situation. Having in mind the sensitivity of the problem, in order to solve this, it will be necessary to provide full political consensus of all parties signatory to the Dayton Peace Agreement.
TOT: The country is divided into two entities including the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the former enjoying a near sovereign structural framework of governance and diplomacy.
a.) What are the areas where the national government plans for more integration of the two entities?
b.) And does the presence of this unmanned/unarmed boundary line called IEBL (Inter-Entity Boundary Line) has still any relevance or importance in the lives of general people of the country?
Ambassador: For the integration of the two entities the state government (Council of Ministers ) is in charge. Council of Ministers is consisting of nine ministries, out of which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Security, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice are the most important. Of course, in addition to all this we also have cooperation on lower level of power, between the entity governments, that are correct and very successful. Boarder between the two entities has no effect on the life of the common man and it only has the administrative importance. These relationship between entities confirms that there is a will to build a better future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, state of two entities and one District, state of three constituent people, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
TOT: a.) The European Union is going through its worst economic downturn at the moment. How far has the crisis, which affected almost all major regional economies, affected Bosnia–Herzegovina which has the aspiration to become a part of the economic bloc?
b.) What are the challenges being faced by the country at the moment?
c.) How does Bosnia–Herzegovina see the future of the EU, with the downturn casting a shadow of doubt on its very practicability? Why does the country still wish to be a part of it in spite of the odds?
Ambassador: Undoubtedly the poor economic conditions in the euro area had a strong negative impact on the economic development of countries in the region therefore in Bosnia as well. The biggest challenges that today the governments of the Western Balkans are facing is the economic crisis. It reflects the slower overall economic growth, in increasing poverty and unemployment rates, it reduced foreign investments and of course it affected the repayment of the total external debt that grows each year. My Government at the moment is taking all necessary measures in order to some extent alleviated the consequences of this economic crisis. Those measures are mainly reflected in the reduction of costs in the public sector, the regular payment of taxes, public works through the opening of foreign direct investment and the creation of a better business environment for the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Regardless of all deficiency, we see no alternative to the EU Integrations. Although the European Union is facing a lot of problems, we continue to believe that the value offered by the European model is far greater than the disadvantages that this community is facing nowadays, and we strongly believe that EU will overcome all those problems.

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TOT: The freedom of press has over the years become the major focus of many international organizations and some of them have raised their concerns about the situation in the Balkan countries as well. How will you rate the condition of press freedom in Bosnia–Herzegovina?

Ambassador: When it comes to freedom of the press and media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we can be proud that the establishment of a multi political party system brought freedom of media to high level. However it is different question whether these media or press is independent and whether they are professional in your work? It is a question that applies to each country. I believe that the countries that are extremely burdened by the economic crisis are also facing an unprofessional and dependent media. Given that the “media” also have to live out of something, meaning that they need some kind of income, often in times of crisis they must comply with certain political or economic lobbies, and therefore they work against the basic principles and codes of free journalism. In this circumstances they are even more contributing to crises. Reports of these media are generally accompanied by personal rather than general interests of society. Unfortunately, in my country the situation is not much better. But I am convinced that the online media revolution will change this attitude and encourage positive competition. Your example is the best proof of it, where with few resources one can defend universal values of journalism and create trust among readers. Once again I congratulate you on that.
TOT: Bosnia is a country created and divided on ethnic lines and is currently being run from two capitals by two distinct ethnic governments. Add to these the recently formed multiethnic, decentralized enclave of Brčko District.
Do you think that the two capital cities of Sarajevo and Banja Luka with the recent addition of the third one, with varying types and degrees of representation, are any hindrance in the way of development and policy reformation of the country?
Ambassador: Allow me to correct you here. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an internationally recognized and sovereign state and as such there is only one capital city, and that is Sarajevo. Therefore there is no single reason for the rivalry between Sarajevo and Banja Luka, and Brcko frame embedded in the Dayton Peace Agreement. However, within the country we have two ongoing  interconnected parallel processes of integration. One occurs in the internal (local) level, which is reflected in the cooperation of state and entity institutions that establish coordination mechanisms for negotiations with European partners and the other for the Euro-Atlantic integration, which are reflected in the fulfillment of all the conditions that result from these negotiations. This process, although it is sometimes slow, unstoppable is going toward his goal.

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TOT: The human rights situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been a constant concern for the international community and major regional groupings and progressive alliances. Can you please enlighten us on the existing HR situations in your country? And also, what steps did the government take to improve the condition of human rights and ensure individual freedom for all the citizens?
Ambassador: When we want to talk about this important issue, we must always bear in mind the historical facts of the recent past that faced my country. The problem with this part of the world was, and still is, a problem of democracy. In the last hundred years the Balkans had no luck with democracy, or should we say that democracy had no luck with Balkans. Just a little more than two decades ago people in Bosnia and Herzegovina have experienced the roughest way of violations of human rights. In the past war in Bosnia human life worth very little. Tragedy struck wide areas of the former Yugoslavia, and Bosnia was the epicenter of this earthquake. The massive violations of human rights occurred in Bosnia. Even so, today I want to point out that Bosnia and Herzegovina as a signatory to all international and European conventions and declarations, that interpret the human rights principle reaffirms its strong commitment to obey the rule of law in regard of Human rights, not only in theory but also in practice. So far we have built almost all the democratic institutions that deal with the issue of human rights. In addition, one of the basic conditions for the integration of Bosnia into European and international associations is meeting all standards, which include respect for human rights. We have only one verdict made by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to implement. Once we do this we will automatically become a candidate for the European Union. It is the matter of date when will this issue be resolved. In a country that has a unique legal and political system, which is in the process of transition, burdened at the same time by wartime past as it was in Bosnia, highly affected by the economic crisis it is hard to expect that the human rights would be at  high level. Human rights are of universal significance, and as such can and should be the subject of constant public criticism. The state of human rights in my country is not at the level where we would like it to be, but it is not behind the neighboring countries in the region eather. All the basic human rights are guaranteed by our constitution. In particular we are very satisfied when it comes to respect for basic political and economic rights and freedom of media. Unfortunately, I think that economic crisis, poverty and high unemployment rate in Bosnia are the main reason that the social rights are not at the level where it should be. There is still a large room for the improvement of each of these rights, and it is a daily task of law enforcement officials in BiH.
TOT: The Republika Srpska practices a “regulatory guillotine” which means that it takes only a few days to register a business there, whereas in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina it often takes several months to do so.
Why this difference when both entities are being run in the light of a common policy framework?

Ambassador: One of the main prerequisites for a quick economic recovery is a common and unified economic space within BiH. The differences that you’ve noticed must be deleted. This is all the result of the current situation in the country, and  not the orientation of the policies implemented by the Council of Ministers.

TOT: What is the message you would like to give to the global readership of The Oslo Times as a reprehensive of your country?
My country today is more and more attractive for tourists from all over the world and therefore I would like to call upon your readers to visit my country and to get first hand experience about Bosnia. Bosnia is particularly rich with historical and cultural heritage; it has a beautiful nature and friendly people well known for their hospitality. When we talk about Bosnia and Herzegovina, it means that we are talking about two worlds – the East and the West. It is a country that for centuries is located at the crossroad of civilizations. Many say that Sarajevo is European Jerusalem in miniature. In the old part of city of Sarajevo,  in a small area, just within 200 meters for five centuries stands old temples of four well known monotheistic religions: the Mosque, the Cathedral, an Orthodox church and a Synagogue. Today there are more and more of those who see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a modern democratic state, that is marching towards a better European future, and putting its recent tragic past behind. Welcome to Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Thank you for sharing your views with ‘The Oslo Times’. We wish you and your country all the best in the days to come!

The Oslo Times – All Rights Reserved.

Rise of Golden Dawn: A presage of doom

The undisguised extremism promoted by Golden Dawn is a chilling watershed in Greece’s post-war democracy. Fascist gangs are turning Athens into a city of shifting front lines, seizing on crimes and local protests to promote their own movement, by claiming to be the defenders of recession-ravaged Greece.

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‘The People’s Association – Golden Dawn,’ usually known simply as ‘Golden Dawn,’ is a right-wing extremist political organization in Greece. It is led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos and has grown considerably since its inception to a widely known Greek political party with nationwide support.

 

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is gaining popularity in the midst of the country’s deepening financial crisis. The group has been implicated in torture cases, and for inciting a wave of racial violence sweeping the country.

 

An opinion poll published by KAPA Research in October showed that support for the extremist political group had grown from 7.5 percent of the population in June to 10.4 percent currently.

 

The Golden Dawn emerged from political obscurity into the mainstream in May after winning 7 percent of the vote in the Greek parliamentary elections. Since then, the country has reportedly witnessed an upsurge in racial violence connected to the right-wing group.

 

The party entered the international spotlight after some of its members reportedly participated in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims. Its publication praises the Third Reich and often features photographs of Hitler and other Nazis.

 

Golden Dawn has manipulated a weak Greek state and disastrous austerity management by European bureaucrats to become, according to recent polls, the third most popular political party in the country — a noxious omen for the euro zone and a worrying challenge and counterpoint to the very idea of the E.U. itself, which received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Three years ago, Greeks ignored Golden Dawn, seeing its members as neo-Nazi thugs waging war against migrants and giving it a miserable 0.29% of the vote. Last year, however, Golden Dawn — rebranded as an anti-austerity party — won nearly 7% and secured 18 of the 300 seats in Parliament. Its ascent has continued in opinion surveys despite its parliamentary deputies’ being filmed attacking immigrant vendors and demanding that all non-Greek children be kicked out of day-care centres and hospitals.

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As the cash-strapped government struggles to offer its citizens basic services, Golden Dawn has set up parastate organizations to police the streets, donate to Greek-only blood banks and help unemployed Greeks find jobs.

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The party has also promised to cancel household debt for the unemployed and low-wage earners. “Soon we’ll be running this country,” says Ilias Panagiotaros, a beefy 38-year-old army-supply-shop owner who is now a Golden Dawn parliamentary deputy representing Athens.

 

Public Love from Fear

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“The people love us.” says Ilias Panagiotaros. Golden Dawn draws much of that love from fear. Greece is now the main entry point for at least 80% of the EU’s un-documented migrants. Frontex, the EU border-patrolling agency, estimates that 57,000 illegal immigrants slipped into Greece last year and more than 100,000 entered in 2010. Many travel through Turkey, often via a land border that Golden Dawn wants to plant with land mines. Some seek asylum, and because of EU rules, those who want to apply for refugee status must do so in their country of entry — in this case, Greece — which often takes years to review the applications. As Europe turns a blind eye to the immigration crisis, many impoverished foreigners find themselves trapped in an economically crippled country that can’t sustain them.

 

Some Greeks no longer want to be hospitable. In the past year, gangs of vigilantes, many sporting Golden Dawn’s black shirts, have beaten and stabbed hundreds of migrants, according to human-rights groups.

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In June 2012, a number of them broke into the Piraeus home of Abouzeid Mubarak, 28, an Egyptian fisherman, bashing him with iron rods until he fell into a coma. “It was a hate that was inhuman,” says Mubarak, who is still recovering.

 

Ali Rahimi, a 27-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was hanging around with friends outside his building in central Athens when more than a dozen Greeks approached. Several men set upon Mr. Rahimi, one with a knife. Panicked, he fled into his apartment and fought back, managing to push the men out the door. He found blood gushing from just above his heart, one of five stab wounds in his back and chest.

 

Mr. Rahimi survived and is staying put for now. But his friend, Reza Mohammed, who was also injured in the attack, is considering what was once unthinkable: moving back to Afghanistan, which he feels would be safer than Greece. 

 

Parts of Athens feel like a war zone. Racist gangs cruise the streets at night in search of victims. Themis Skordeli, a member of the group that is accused of stabbing Mr. Rahimi, ran unsuccessfully for Parliament on the ticket of Golden Dawn.

 

A few blocks down the street, a crowd was leaving a mosque after Friday Prayer. At the mention of Golden Dawn, immigrant men began lifting their shirts to show their scars. A short, sullen-looking young man with a cut across his nose and freshly sutured cheek bone was pushed forward by the crowd. Just the night before, he said, he was beaten and cut with a knife by “fascists.”

 

“Go into the Omonia police station,” said another man. “You will see how violence is going on.” Several blocks away, I walked into just such a scene. As I stepped out of the elevator at the police station, I saw an officer screaming at a black man and backhanding him hard across the shoulder.

 

In Athens, Sayd Jafari owns a cafe frequented by fellow Afghans. It has been repeatedly ransacked by mobs of black-clad attackers wielding sticks, chains and knives and performing fascist salutes.

 

Like others who have been assaulted, Mr. Jafari is also contemplating returning home to Afghanistan. “There, maybe someone has a bomb hidden on his body that he detonates,” he says. “Here, you don’t see where the knife that kills you comes from.”

 

It’s now common to see police lineup immigrants from South Asia and Africa in public squares and along streets in central Athens. Those without legal-residency permits are arrested and sent to detention centres to be deported.

 

Police claim they have detained nearly 42,000 people since August, though only about 3,400 were arrested for not having residency papers. They defended the crackdown, which was strongly denounced by human-rights groups, by comparing undocumented migrants to the Dorian invaders who purportedly brought down the Mycenaeans in 1100 B.C.

 

The most recent example of fascism shown by Golden Dawn in its series of discriminating activities is when it said a visit to Greece by American Jewish Committee leader David Harris is meant to ensure further “Jewish influence over Greek political issues” and safeguard the interests of “international loan sharks.”

 

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), is leading a Jewish delegation to the region to meet with several Greek leaders, including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. During the meetings, Harris expressed his “concern and solidarity for Greece during the crisis.”

 

“The only solidarity of this gentleman is to his compatriots – the international loan sharks, who are humiliating the Greek people. His concern most likely is related to the inability of Greece to make the payments of the predatory interest rates of the vile loans,” Golden Dawn said in a statement, adding: “We do not need the crocodile tears of a Jew.”

 

Its leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, uses the Heil Hitler salute and has denied the existence of gas chambers at Nazi death camps during World War II. Another lawmaker read a passage from the anti-Semitic hoax “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

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The attack on Harris and a separate article titled “Absolute Evil” that was published on the party’s website Friday appeared to be a hardening of Golden Dawn’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, apparently in anger over pressure from Jewish groups to get the Greek government to reign in the party. The “Evil” statement said that blaming Golden Dawn for Greece’s woes constituted an attempt to divert attention from the real culprits for Greece’s financial crisis.

 

“They are none other than those who possess most of the international wealth. The people behind the international loan-sharks,” the statement said. “Everyone knows they belong to a certain race, which presents itself as a victim, while in reality it is the perpetrator. Everyone knows that they are none other than those pulling the strings behind the marionettes. They are the absolute evil for mankind.”

 

The second statement ended with a threat.

 

“The time will come when the nationalists of the Golden Dawn will take revenge like the horsemen of the storm, and all of them, being the absolute evil, will pay!”

 

Not content to proselytizing in their homeland, Golden Dawn has started to expand worldwide.

 

Barely a month after their electoral victories, Golden Dawn launched a widely-criticized branch in Melbourne, Australia, home to one of the largest Greek populations outside of Athens. In October, several groups protested the opening of a Golden Dawn office in New York City, which had opened for the explicit purpose of building support for the party among Greek expatriate communities and collecting food and medicine to distribute in Greece – only for Greeks. And in Montreal, Golden Dawn is holding a Christmas food drive. The catch? They’re only giving food out to Greek Christians.

 

Golden Dawn members in the United States have told CBC News they plan to open chapters shortly in Chicago, in Connecticut and in Toronto.

 

What’s at stake is the health of European democracy, and the values and institutions on which it rests. But while the euro crisis touched off a scramble to halt a financial meltdown, European leaders have done virtually nothing to reverse the union’s dangerous political trends.

 

As recent polls show that its strength continues to grow, and its support runs as high as 50 percent among police officers, who routinely fail to investigate growing numbers of hate crimes.

 

Far-right ultranationalist groups are exploiting old enmities and new fears across the Continent. Although this is not the Europe of the 1930s, the disillusioned citizens of countries like Greece and Hungary have turned increasingly to simple answers, electing parties that blame familiar scapegoats — Jews, Gypsies, gays and foreigners — for their ills.

 

Maria Chandraki, 29, an unemployed beautician, hadn’t heard of Golden Dawn until the last election. “Their positions may be extreme,” she said, holding plastic bags of food she’d just received. “But the situation is extreme as well. So we need extreme measures.” She went on, “We can’t have so many nations and so many different sets of values and ideals under the same roof.”

 

Beneath the looming basilica of Athens’ largest church, middle-aged men and women in black Golden Dawn T-shirts were busy one bright September morning distributing food to needy Greeks. Kids ran across the courtyard, which was painted with the party’s unofficial platform: “Get foreigners out of Greece.” Clusters of fit, stoic young men in dark glasses ringed the perimeter.

 

Nikolaos Michos, a square-jawed Golden Dawn Member of Parliament with the build and tattoos of a heavyweight boxer, leaned against a bloodmobile watching. He wore a black polo embossed with the party’s Swastika-like logo. “We’re fighters and we’re not going to back down,” he said, referring to death threats from leftists and the burning of a Golden Dawn office. “But they’re not striking fear into us because every centre they destroy, we’ll build new ones,” he added.

 

European leaders must not cede the battleground in the war of ideas. They should publicly denounce parties that espouse racist doctrines and spew hate-filled rhetoric and clearly define and defend the shared values of an increasingly integrated Europe.

 

To do so, they must develop a pan-European approach to monitor hate crimes and investigate right-wing extremist networks that operate across borders. And the European Union must ensure that all member-states, old and new, respect the same criteria that countries currently aspiring to join the European Union are required to meet, especially maintaining the “stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities.” Otherwise, Europe faces the spectre of more xenophobic violence and the unravelling of the liberal democratic order that has drawn so many persecuted people to seek asylum and opportunity on European shores.

 

Nikos Katapodis, 69, can see the crossroads where his family has lived since 1863. A bald, chain-smoking funeral-home owner, Mr. Katapodis describes the Greek government with a string of expletives. The flood of immigrants over the last decade created ghettos in central Athens, he explains. Crime rates rose, property values dropped and bars appeared on second-floor windows. “It looks like a prison,” he said, nodding to the street. “Today it reminds me of the late 1940s,” he adds. “You see people scrounging for food in the trash cans.”

 

Although he didn’t vote for Golden Dawn, he sees it as “the only party that is actually doing things for the Greek people” — a cross between the welfare state and the Mafia. If he needed an escort to walk down the street or help paying for his cancer medicine, he’d call Golden Dawn. “They’re doing what the politicians should be doing,” he said. “There’s a hole, and they fill it.”

 

Authoritarian elements in the Greek government have a history of using far-right groups to outsource political violence against critics. Recent moves to rein in Golden Dawn came only after it grew too powerful to control and the state felt its own authority was challenged, explained Anastassia Tsoukala, a legal scholar. “They were bitten by their own snake,” she said. And Greece is not alone. Golden Dawn’s rise has parallels across Europe, and its significance should be of Continental concern.

Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times interview with the Hungarian Ambassador Mr. Géza Jeszenszky

Oslo – This is to inform to our readers that today a meeting was to conduct an exclusive interview at the embassy of Hungary with the honorable Ambassador Mr. Géza Jeszenszky.

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The interview was held successfully under the supervision of our editor in chief Mr. Hatef Mokhtar who had gone and conducted this exclusive interview session with the honorable Ambassador. It was a 40 minutes session of questions and answers.

Various issues and concerns were raised during this interview that range from simple economics to the concerning issues like of human rights and democratic transition.

The best part and most vocal message which The Oslo Times got from Mr. Jeszenszky was that he has been an open critique of Communism which he defines it as a long date of the world politics.

The interview session has clearly put across the most vital and strategic point across on the position of Hungary towards global politics, economic crises in Europe, situation of democracy / human rights / media in the erstwhile Communist states that are now progressing towards a major shift to democratic framework in particular Hungary which is experiencing the great leap forward towards the integration with the rest of Europe and the world at large.

In a few days of time The Oslo Times would be going to publish this exclusive interview and wish its readers would find something extra that rest of the media misses out these days.

Stay connected to The Oslo Times for more news updates.

New Year message from the Editor

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It is the time of the year when we reflect over the past and hope for the best in the days and months to come. We carry with us the lessons we learned and the memories we hold dear. As we enter the New Year, we are perfectly aware of the realities of our world—a world that poses formidable challenges yet leaves ample room for new rays of hope to come in.

 

No doubt 2013 will also have its fair share of prospects and challenges. But each challenge will make us stronger and further united in what we do and what we believe in.

In the past year, there have been a lot of challenges, difficulties and tremendous losses. From The Oslo Times, we did our best to update our readers on all important developments. We worked hard to promote human rights and freedom of speech—the two issues fundamental to our movement.
 

There are still a large number of media workers, bloggers and human rights activists behind bars, imprisoned unlawfully for raising their voices for the right causes. People living under corrupt and oppressive regimes are still afraid to speak up and stand for their fundamental rights.

 

They are afraid of consequences if they protest against repression, discrimination and violations of their freedom of expression. All these challenges may very likely be with us in 2013 as well.

 

I would like to thank all our readers and contributors for their support in 2012, and hope that they would continue their support for us. I would also like to thank those who inspired and enriched us with their insightful feedback and lighted our ways with their visions.

With our readership continuing to grow, we could not be more enthusiastic about 2013 and what we can accomplish together with your feedback and continued support.

As the first dawn of the New Year is about to break very soon, let us take a pause and think. Have we come all the way up here, after all the struggles and sacrifices for a just world, only to lapse into silence at this stage?

 

If we cannot join the protests on the streets, let us do what any thinking person can do: share news of HR violations and use our pens to unmask the violators. As Winston Churchill once wrote: “You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police…yet, in their hearts, there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home – all the more powerful because forbidden – terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”
 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

Hatef Mokhtar

Editor in Chief

The Oslo Times

A moving tale of love and conflict in Afghanistan

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“Life is a journey and every man must bear the burden of conflict between his own free will and the vicissitudes of destiny. The heart endures the trials and tribulations that accompany us through life and stores the sorrows and joys that make us who we are.”

Asif, a young boy lives in Afghanistan with his two siblings and parents from a highly respected family. As a teenager Asif falls in love with Latifa, a girl he is not able to marry because of cultural beliefs and traditions.  

When his father, who is a inspirational leader and opposed to Communism, is arrested by the Russians and found murdered, the family flee to a refugee camp in Pakistan where unspeakable tragedy befalls the family.

After stuggling to survive and support his family Asif return, years later, to a very
different Afghanistan that is now ruled by the dictatorial Taliban.  

Again faced with appalling hardship Asif strives to escape. This is a journey between two destinies, of love, sorrow and prosperity and the value of life.  

Born in Afghanistan, author Hatef Mokhtar grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan and is now working as the Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times in Oslo, Norway.  
He says, “The pain of separation from my homeland, the cries and sorrow of my people inspired me to write this book.”  

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The Red Wrath
By Hatef Mokhtar

Available on

THE RED WRATH: A JOURNEY BETWEEN TWO DESTINIES (ISBN: 978-1-61897-459-4) is now available for $24.50 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website:

http://sbpra.com/HatefMokhtar or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors. Contact your representative with the ISBN for purchase. Wholesale purchase for retailers, universities, libraries, and other organizations is also available through the publisher; please email bookorder@aeg-online-store.com.

This book is also available on:

Official Site:  http://sbpra.com/HatefMokhtar/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Red-Wrath-Journey-between-Destinies/dp/1618974599/ref=sr_1_1?s=booksie=UTF8qid=1344990362sr=1-1keywords=the+red+wrath%3A+a+journey+between+two+destinies

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Adlibris: http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=1618974599

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The Red Wrath on Ask David

The Red Wrath The Red Wrath The Red Wrath

Link

Book also available on Barnes & Noble

Book also available on Barnes & Noble

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Life and Death Struggle Touches on the Meaning

of Separation Novel Tells of War and Peace

The Red Wrath: A Journey between Two Destinies is the story of young boy who lives in Afghanistan in the 1970s. But this intense novel goes much deeper than that.

The author ponders the nature of separation and why it can sometimes feel so cruel. But is separation really cruel or can it teach us something? Is separation the true test of feelings? Perhaps separation is a true friend, and through it we can hold on to our memories by filling different corners of our heart with those we have loved and lost. After all, what is it that we take with us when we die except for memories?

When we die and go where our beliefs have promised to take us, we go on A Journey between Two Destinies, where those who have died before have already gone. Then we can only wait for those who follow us.

THE RED WRATH: A JOURNEY BETWEEN TWO DESTINIES (ISBN: 978-1-61897-459-4) is now available for $24.50 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website:

http://sbpra.com/HatefMokhtar or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

 

WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors. Contact your representative with the ISBN for purchase. Wholesale purchase for retailers, universities, libraries, and other organizations is also available through the publisher; please email bookorder@aeg-online-store.com.

 

This book is also available on:

Official Site:  http://sbpra.com/HatefMokhtar/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Red-Wrath-Journey-between-Destinies/dp/1618974599/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344990362&sr=1-1&keywords=the+red+wrath%3A+a+journey+between+two+destinies

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Red-Wrath-Journey-Between/dp/1618974599

http://www.amazon.co.jp/The-Red-Wrath-Journey-Between/dp/1618974599

Adlibris: http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=1618974599

About the Author: Born in Afghanistan, Hatef Mokhtar grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan. He is now working as the Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times in Oslo, Norway. “The cries and sorrow of my homeland inspired me to write this book.”

Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC 

 

Bibliography

  • ISBN-10: 1618974599 & ISBN-13: 9781618974594
  • Publisher: Strategic Book Group, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 474
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.06 (d)
  • Title
    The Red Wrath
    Subtitle
    A Journey Between Two Destinies
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Hatef Mokhtar
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 474
    Width: 152 mm
    Height: 229 mm
    Thickness: 26 mm
    Weight: 691 g

The Red Wrath – A Journey Between Two Destinies (Book Release)

Image

Life and Death Struggle Touches on the Meaning

of Separation Novel Tells of War and Peace

The Red Wrath: A Journey between Two Destinies is the story of young boy who lives in Afghanistan in the 1970s. But this intense novel goes much deeper than that.

The author ponders the nature of separation and why it can sometimes feel so cruel. But is separation really cruel or can it teach us something? Is separation the true test of feelings? Perhaps separation is a true friend, and through it we can hold on to our memories by filling different corners of our heart with those we have loved and lost. After all, what is it that we take with us when we die except for memories?

When we die and go where our beliefs have promised to take us, we go on A Journey between Two Destinies, where those who have died before have already gone. Then we can only wait for those who follow us.

THE RED WRATH: A JOURNEY BETWEEN TWO DESTINIES (ISBN: 978-1-61897-459-4) is now available for $24.50 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website:

http://sbpra.com/HatefMokhtar or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

 

WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors. Contact your representative with the ISBN for purchase. Wholesale purchase for retailers, universities, libraries, and other organizations is also available through the publisher; please email bookorder@aeg-online-store.com.

 

This book is also available on:

Official Site:  http://sbpra.com/HatefMokhtar/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Red-Wrath-Journey-between-Destinies/dp/1618974599/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344990362&sr=1-1&keywords=the+red+wrath%3A+a+journey+between+two+destinies

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Red-Wrath-Journey-Between/dp/1618974599

http://www.amazon.co.jp/The-Red-Wrath-Journey-Between/dp/1618974599

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-wrath-hatef-mokhtar/1112442872?ean=9781618974594

Adlibris: http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=1618974599

About the Author: Born in Afghanistan, Hatef Mokhtar grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan. He is now working as the Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times in Oslo, Norway. “The cries and sorrow of my homeland inspired me to write this book.”

Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC 

 

Bibliography

  • ISBN-10: 1618974599 & ISBN-13: 9781618974594
  • Publisher: Strategic Book Group, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 474
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.06 (d)
  • Title
    The Red Wrath
    Subtitle
    A Journey Between Two Destinies
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Hatef Mokhtar
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 474
    Width: 152 mm
    Height: 229 mm
    Thickness: 26 mm
    Weight: 691 g
Title
The Red Wrath
Subtitle
A Journey Between Two Destinies
Authors and contributors
By (author) Hatef Mokhtar
Physical properties
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 474
Width: 152 mm
Height: 229 mm
Thickness: 26 mm
Weight: 691 g

While fully committed to serious and objective nuclear talks, Iran calls upon 5+1 to reciprocally manifest their commitment

Hatefwithiranambassadornew

Exclusive Interview with the Honorable Ambassador of Iran to Norway –

Seyed Hossein Rezvani

First of all we would like to thank you on behalf of The Oslo Times for accepting our invitation to share your candid views on the present situation of Iran’s position on nuclear programme and on the events arising in relation to it.

It is indeed a privilege to have you on The Oslo Times panel of exclusive interviews and we feel truly proud in welcoming you here.


Map%20and%20flag%20of%20iran

TOT: Recently the talks between Iran and P5+1 took place in Moscow. Is the outcome of talks was satisfactory to Iran and its interests? 

In the name of God, the Companion-ate, the Merciful

Iran’s Envoy: While fully committed to serious and objective nuclear talks, Iran calls upon 5+1 to reciprocally manifest their commitment.In recent talks between Iran and 5+1 (five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) in Moscow, both sides agreed that a technical group should discuss in detail the proposals by each side and hammer out a framework or a road map for the continuation of the talks. So a technical group is going to have a new round of talks on Tuesday in Istanbul.
It is clear that some members of 5+1 for whatever reasons apparently political ones, are not forthcoming and serious enough for finding a solution. If the talks do not proceed as it should be, another standoff in the talks can be expected. Therefore, this could be considered as a critical point in Iran’s talks with some members of 5+1.

TOT: With worsening Iran’s nuclear case with the international community, especially; with the West and the constant failures of the series of talks has resulted into more energy insecurities in the world. How Iran view these recent developments and escalations in the nuclear policy debate?


Iran’s Envoy:
The USA and certain Europeans have said that they are going to increase their pressure and sanctions against Iran and this by itself indicates that they are not willing to engage with Tehran in a meaningful dialogue.
It is to be reiterated that , oil embargo against Iran leads to further disruptions and insecurities of world energy market and consequently adds up to financial crisis in Europe . The 1+5 non-compliance with guiding principles of nuclear talks established during Istanbul II talks and absence of cooperative approach on their side is the primary cause for unsuccessful Baghdad and Moscow negotiations. Therefore it is necessary to address this issue and shed lights on the latest developments and to analyze the issue from the view point of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

What are the major obstacles or issues faced by Iran during talks with P5+1 group countries?
The main obstacle in Moscow talks as well as in Iran’s previous talks with 5+1 in Baghdad was the issue of Iran’s right to enrich uranium. This right stems from International law and Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). According to NPT developing, research, production and use of nuclear energy and having full national nuclear fuel cycle and enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes are among the inherent and inalienable rights of each sovereign member state.

One major issue during discussions with 5+1 in recent rounds of talks was an attempt to work out a framework for a comprehensive and targeted dialogue. Iran strongly believes that talks should not be for the sake of talks. Rather they should be conducted on good will, mutual respect and in a spirit of cooperation which can lead to tangible results. Therefore attitude and actions that go contrary to good will, spirit of cooperation and mutual respect are counterproductive and should be avoided.
Map With Key

TOT: How Iran views the consideration or inclusion of NPT in the talks? And the kind of advantages which it brings with it for Iran?

Iran’s Envoy: NPT should also be considered as the benchmark for talks and all parties have to commit themselves to the rights and obligations specified in the NPT. Iran is strongly opposed to any preconditions particularly when they are outside the framework of NPT. Genuine commitment and cooperative approach are essential tools to enable both sides to successfully embark upon a new process of fruitful talks, which are comprehensive, sustainable and constructive. Iran is willing to have a mutually agreed long term solution. This could only come through tangible actions and on the basis of step by step approach, based upon principle of reciprocity. Iran is of the opinion that the legitimate rights as well as concerns of both parties should be fully recognized and addressed in an objective and comprehensive manner.

The main Iranian objective in the negotiations as well as cooperation with the IAEA is removal of any misunderstanding regarding its peaceful, transparent and legal nuclear activities within the framework of NPT. The Fatwa of the Supreme Leader is indeed supporting these facts. Iran believes that confidence building is a two-way street. In this regard Iran wants to normalize its nuclear file at the Board of Governors of IAEA by total termination of politicized and illegitimate Security Council as well as unilateral sanctions.

Iran is entitled to full enjoyment of its inalienable rights to peaceful nuclear technology as stipulated in the NPT and in compliance with regulations of the IAEA. While looking forward to achieve a sustainable nuclear cooperation and transfer of advanced technologies,  Iran also wishes to conclude a comprehensive agreement on collective commitments in the areas of economic, political, security and international cooperation.
Is there any proposal that has been submitted by Iran in the recently conducted talks?
In recent talks, the 5+1 presented a proposal as a road map to bridge differences and fined a diplomatic solution for Iran’s nuclear issue, but they said proposal is suffering from some shortcomings both in context and in the substance. The said deficiencies would be elaborated in following paragraphs.

Iran in turn proposal  “a framework for comprehensive and targeted dialogue for long term cooperation among 7 countries”  which consists of guiding principles, objectives, issues ,  structure of the process and reciprocal steps that would be explained. Furthermore, there will be a review of the right to enrichment in various international treaties and conferences such as NPT, the Special Session of General Assembly devoted to Disarmament in 1978, the Review Conferences of the NPT in 1975 and 2010 and the statement of the Non-aligned Foreign Ministers Meeting in May 2012 in Egypt.

TOT: What are the facts that have remained unheard or which the people are unaware about ‘Iran’s Nuclear Program’ and its policies towards it? 

Iran’s Envoy:               Some Facts on Iran’s Peaceful Nuclear Issue

•The Fatwa of Iran’s Supreme leader on nuclear weapons, 19 February, 2012:
“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons, because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”
•Under International Law, “to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy, to have full national nuclear fuel cycle, and to enrich Uranium for peaceful purposes” is an inherent and inalienable right of each sovereign State.
•Taking into account the importance of diverse portfolio of energy sources, each State also has the “sovereign right to define its national energy policies, including fuel-cycle policies, without external pressure or interference.”
•These rights are based on the principle of “sovereignty of States” and also have been reaffirmed in particular by the NPT.
•Neither the NPT nor the IAEA Statute or Safeguards agreements and even the Additional Protocol, prohibit enrichment.
•In exercising these rights, NPT Parties have legal “obligation” “to prevent diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons.”
•Iran is firmly determined to exercise its inherent rights in all areas of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and fully committed to its obligations.
•Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA and the Agency’s inspections in Iran are unprecedented in the history of the IAEA.
•Continuous inspections in the most robust and intrusive manner, more than 4000 man-day routine inspections, and over 100 intrusive inspections are only some examples of Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA.
•To date, no single evidence of diversion to military purposes has been found.
•Latest IAEA report corroborates Iran’s cooperation with Agency and peaceful nature of its nuclear activities. It states: “the Agency continues to conduct verification activities under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement” and “continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and Locations outside facilities declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement.”
•According to the report, despite sanctions, Iran’s nuclear activities, in particular in the area of enrichment and enrichment related technology are progressing.
•The said report states as well that Iran is not implementing Additional Protocol. The answer is clear: Additional Protocol is voluntary in nature and Iran has no obligation to implement it.
•To accept the Agency’s request to visit Parchin military complex does not fall within Iran’s legal obligations with respect to the NPT.
•Despite this, according to the IAEA’s November 2011 report, “the Agency was permitted to visit the site twice in 2005 and did not uncover anything of relevance.”
•As a confidence-building measure, Iran stands ready to provide access to Parchin, only when the agreement on modality is reached with the IAEA.
•Iran’s Natanz and Fordow facilities have been declared to the IAEA well in advance of the due date and in accordance with the Iranian obligations under IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Their activities continue to be under the IAEA constant monitoring.
•Earlier this year, the IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards visited Natanz and Fordow as well as other Iranian nuclear sites, including Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, Reactor and Heavy Water Production Plant at Arak, and the conversion and fuel fabrication facilities at Esfahan.
•Iran also provided the IAEA Deputy Director General access to an installation where Research & Development on advanced centrifuges was taking place, which is beyond Iranian obligations and also unprecedented in the history of IAEA inspections.
•In spite of the fact that the IAEA did not fulfill its obligations including delivery to Iran of the documents on the “Alleged Studies”, Iran did submit to the Agency its assessment in a 117-page document.
•As during recent talks with P5+1in Moscow demonstrated, Iran is determined to a faithful negotiations on interested issues to both parties based on mutual respect and a win-win solution.
•Iran proposed a road-map for negotiations which includes guiding principles, structure, issues and steps, according to that any step by one party should be responded by a homogeneous and simultaneous step by the other party.
•Iran made it clear that ambiguous and unrealistic proposals are counterproductive and may lead to more uncertainty between the parties.


©The Oslo Times – All Rights Reserved

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A French Thief and Back Stabber! – Nicolas Sarkozy a political gambler

When Mr. Sarkozy was elected as the French president of new generation the speculations were running wild that France will get a new lease of life. However the dust underlying the French carpets of Elysee Palace had to be exposed with the arrival of him.

No French man had thought ever about his tenure as President would be so dismay and controversial. Sarkozy’s popularity only rose because of negative reasons there were hardly any news which has applauded the actions of Sarkozy in a great manner.

He is the person who has divided France on racial grounds, he is the man who betrays his opponents and his allies, and he is the President who brought down the French image in the international circles. Mr. Sarkozy has not only bring shame to France but has also compromised the image of his own country, a nation who have been a ethical and cultural role model for the entire world; a society which has been known for its values and nobility.

Here how the others have to say about him and on his row of scandals: The former International Monetary Fund chief said figures close to the French president and his ruling UMP party choreographed the fallout of the scandal, following accusations he assaulted Nafissatou Diallo.

He said that while he did not believe his encounter with the Sofitel housekeeper was a set-up, he believes his rapid arrest on May 14 and the highly public criminal investigation that ended his presidential chances had been “shaped by those with a political agenda”.
“Perhaps I was politically naive, but I simply did not believe that they would go that far … I didn’t think they could find anything that could stop me,” Mr. Strauss-Kahn says.

Whereas French President Nicolas Sarkozy is rejecting claims that he caused the scandal that thwarted a bid for the presidency by former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Sarkozy said during a campaign speech in central France April 28 that Strauss-Kahn should “explain himself to the law and spare the French public his remarks.”

It’s not often that a high-ranking French politician loses his temper in this manner; after all, French politics is all about control and image. Ironically, the last person to go unscripted was Sarkozy himself.

On an official visit in 2008 to the French Agricultural Salon, the President was heckled. As Sarkozy tried to shake hands with the man in question, he was told: “Leave me alone. Don’t touch me, you dirty me.” Instead of leaving matters and continuing, a visibly smirking Sarkozy went on the offensive: “Well, then f*** off, you sad b*****d.” The clip went viral and caused a PR nightmare.

A two-decades-old financial scandal threatens to engulf the former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur – to the deep embarrassment of his former lieutenant, Nicolas Sarkozy.

New evidence emerged in January this year linking President Sarkozy to an off-shore company created in 1994 to handle commissions on large French arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The commissions, paid through a company in Luxembourg allegedly created by Mr. Sarkozy as budget minister, were not illegal at the time. It is suspected, however, that cash kick-backs were paid on the contracts – secret commissions on commissions – to fund Mr. Balladur’s failed 1994-95 campaign for the presidency.

His deal turned arms scandal had caused lives of 11 French engineers in a bomb attack which rocked Pakistan straight away after this deal took its effect.

As the mayor of Neuilly, Mr. Sarkozy came to know Mme Bettencourt very well. How well is a matter of dispute? Last week, it was alleged that the Bettencourt family illegally funded Mr. Sarkozy’s early political career with envelopes stuffed with cash. The President angrily denied the allegation on live television on Monday night – but that particular accusation had, in fact, already been withdrawn. And many other allegations, oddities and discrepancies remain.

The French economy is stuttering rather than failing. The government has yet to impose the kind of painful spending cuts envisaged in Britain or Germany. France’s traditional alliance with Germany within the EU has been undermined by divergent views on how to respond to the recession and how best to defend the euro.

The country is divided by – but not entirely opposed to – the radical notion that French people should work beyond the age of 60.

But all this was not enough that the new scandal has come to the light which had diminished the chance of Sarkozy to won the second term as French President; the scandal was [that] the French President Nicolas Sarkozy allegedly received nearly 50 million Euros from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi during his election campaign in 2007, a media report said.

French law bans candidates from receiving more than 6,300 pounds in cash, but news website Mediapart claims the donation was laundered through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland, the Daily Mail reported.
A document made public is said to show Sarkozy and Gaddafi made an illegal deal that propelled Sarkozy to power in 2007. Signed by Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Mussa Kussa in 2006, it refers to an “agreement” to support the campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy, for euros 50 million, the report said.

A governmental briefing note among papers points to numerous visits to Libya by Sarkozy and his colleagues to secure funding. One such visit on October 6, 2005 led to “campaign finance to NS” being “all paid” — assumed to be a reference to Sarkozy who was at the time interior minister raising money for his presidential campaign.

The money was laundered through accounts, including a Swiss one in the name of the sister of Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of Sarkozy’s UMP party and his right-hand man, the report said. It was then distributed through arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, who was a middle man between Arab despots and French politicians, the report said.

The allegations follow claims last year by Gaddafi’s son Saif that Libya had financed Sarkozy’s election.

Sarkozy fiercely denied the allegations at a campaign rally in Toulouse Sunday.

With the opening of these allegations Sarkozy who was on a winning streak lost 10% of its popularity in the opinion polls against his political rival Francois Hollande, who is the front runner in the race to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as French president, but if he wins, his rise will have as much to do with luck as his own political skill, experts say.

Hollande was Socialist leader five years ago when his partner Segolene Royale ran for president. The couple has since split, but Hollande emerged as the candidate after the downfall last May of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was then considered the Socialist favorite to defeat Sarkozy.

There is a very famous saying about Nicolas Sarkozy and that is “his past always comes to haunt him.”

This new exposure from Sarkozy’s scandals list has once again embarrassed France and the entire French community in front of the international community. The kind of betrayal this person has shown has never been in the blood of a true French man. French are known for their loyalty, their dignity, their commitments but this man has lead down all these proud values and has proven wrong to the world about this nation.

It is interesting to know that France was the first nation who gone to war with Libya against Gaddafi regime and the person who betrayed Gaddafi was no-one but Sarkozy himself who first sought his support to win Presidential campaign and then at the last months of his power this man changed his stand against a person who made and backed his position as French President.

He is a wolf in sheep’s skin that not only has no French values but also has no values for his own relations. He was the man who supported and applauded Gaddafi regime and he was the man whose ministers used to visit Libya most frequently. He who supported every bid of Libyan tyrant and he was the man who lead to the down fall and murder of his friend who supported him in every difficult time, who supported Sarkozy to be raised on an international platform on every issue possible. But who knew that Sarkozy would stab Gaddafi on his back; who knew that Gaddafi and his regime was supporting a cobra [that] would bite him off and poisoned his people’s mind against him.

Sarkozy is a liar, a cheater, a betrayer, a racist, a person who is a back stabber, a leader who has a hunger for power and control. The world has known him as one of the cheapest politician the world has ever known from the Western world. He has used every bit possible to remain in power which ranges from a housekeeper to even publicly using bad words against a common man while shaking hands or even worse off by taking political funding from tyrant who helped him stood on his feet as President and then later lost his life from his betrayal.

No true French man would have done like this or acted in a manner as this man Nicolas Sarkozy has done. He is not of his community, not of his nation, even not of his friends truthfully as he lacks the purity of his essence which is half in his soul of a French and half of a Hungarian nature.

Partition of Britain! What would be its cost?

In the wake of 2008 global economic turmoil rich and developed economies cried out a loud and were bleeding by the torn pockets of the age old public debts and suppressive foreign policies.

 

But what actually the world was the repetition of the same crisis which the Great Britain had faced after the Second World War [that] is the shrinking of the British Empire where the sun had never set.
When the world was struck by recession Britain was the first country to be hit by its severity. The prolonged drought of financial improvements and unproductive exploitation of the kingdom’s resources has lead to rebellion voices to take control by the end of last year Britain’s main wedding partner Scotland pushed forward for its independence from the union. This lead to the major uproar of the Britain falling legacy as the great imperial leader which was weekend by the crumbling public welfare system in which pensioners were the hardest hit.
With economics going down Britain’s occupation cost is becoming unbearable to the national structure which if not addressed in a planned and more precise manner it would be the second time that Britain would be facing the same series of independence scenarios in which it lost majority of the occupied republics from its crown.
Though the diplomacy is still strong the things take time to get matured enough to become a reality but the past incidents has lead to a major decline in the trust among the British overseas territories and within in the Union itself.
With the loosening of Scotland from the union Britain would leave with zero oil resources from the North, this would make England more vulnerable to economic shocks and weaker diplomacy in the international community as well as within Europe. Apart from the Scottish issue Britain too facing the growing might of Argentina’s claim over Southern Territories of Falkland Islands on which Britain had already fought a war few decades back.
The situation for Britain will become more complex to solve and more tougher with the growth of middle income economies for example Argentina, this may lead to the great bargaining power to the challenging republics rather than to the Great Britain which if got divided alongside with the economic meltdown then it would have no choice but to leave the disputed waters of its territories and in the mainland. The helplessness of Great Britain comes into reality when Foreign Minister William Hague sends letter of support to the companies operating in the Falkland Island which is a part of British Overseas territories.
With growing nationalism in Argentina who is an all time foe and closing of the Scottish referendum in 2014 Britain’s now stands at the crossroads of a partition which if happened in upcoming years of this real world would lead to the total decline of Britain’s imperialism.
Even though with the referendum Scottish will not gain much apart from being independent from the union but the resources of the North Sea on which they are banking upon too are declining where the annual production is going down at rate of 6% whereas the story of Falkland aggression by Argentina even after the defeat in the war with Britain is also rushed and inclined much more of the fact to tap the resource rich waters of the island group.
However the story of the British Partition which started off with the economic recession and rising occupational cost is now being reasoned with the flourishing wealth of oil resources which the claimants wants to take the control of as their prime national wealth. So now it is not the crisis lead by any internal wrong governance or ignorance but with growing yearn of oil and the revenue which it generates for these cash crunch economies of Scotland and Argentina.

With the disunion of the union jack would lead to another centrestage drama just like Britain had faced during the formation of Republic of Ireland. To save it from further embarrassment The Union would need another Good Friday agreement of Belfast to protect it from another dismemberment of its republics.

The Growing isolation of Argentina

ImageWith the takeover of YPF by Argentina from Spanish oil giant Repsol has sparked new speculations over the investment climate in Argentina. After the revival of its economy and having the third largest economic size among South American countries Argentina is now seeking to secure and procure the various lost opportunities which the nation lost because of the loopy investment policies. With Fitch warning Argentina about its growing isolation in diplomatic community and crumbling investment channels, the president ‘Christiana Fernandez’ approves her decision to the ‘YPF’ take over from ‘Repsol’, and converting privately running firm to 100% nationalized public enterprise by saying [that] “We are the only country who do not control its own oil company”… 
“We need to maintain our hydrocarbon sovereignty,” she said while attending a ceremony in the province of Buenos Aires.
She also admitted she was “nervous and anxious” during the YPF announcement last week because her late husband Néstor Kirchner “could not be present during such a significant moment”.
“Yes someone told me they had never seen me so nervous: it is true I had never been so nervous. But it was not because of doubts or uncertainties, quite the contrary I’m convinced this is the only possible path. I was anxious and nervous precisely because I would have loved to be next to him (Nestor Kirchner)” admitted the president.
“It’s true I was anxious and nervous because the speech, because I felt I really needed him to be there”.

In one of her recent speech the Argentine president is now going high on nationalization of the Argentina’s natural resources on which she says [that]… It’s time that Argentine now controls their natural resources”.  “We need to defend them for all Argentines: this is the true and final objective. We’re not snob environmentalists but rather because we want to conserve them for future generations”.
Likewise from Buenos Aires Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo assured that the consequences of the expropriation of YPF will be “absolutely favourable for the country’s development,” adding that they will be seen and enjoyed “by future generations.”
“We’re certain that surely the consequences of this decision will be seen and enjoyed by the future generations, and will be absolutely favourable for the country’s development,” he said.
Randazzo’s statements came in response to European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht’s assurances that Argentina “will suffer the consequences for a long time in its own economic development.”
However the growing crisis of Argentina’s political isolation and aftermath of its tyrant regulating policies which are now becoming the bone of contention between the Argentine government and WTO amid concerns to its anti trade practices which are not only discouraging local Argentine businesses but also keeping foreign investors at bay. 
As Argentina moves forward with its aggressive waves of new reform process it faces the challenges with the fast changing globalised world the country needs to choose its strategies and dialogue partners carefully. With China being a front runner and the most reliable long term investor who’s 40% of the entire regional oil investments went to Argentina might change the game of Argentina and can bring the ball in court of Argentina’s favor where it can bank upon the role which this nation can play at the centre stage on a global platform. 
With American oil analysts and investment pundits applauding Argentina’s Patagonia and The Pampas as the global hub of shale production where it provides it with the world’s largest reserves of this resource which is being considered as the next generation of the oil industry that fuels the growth of world engines. A U.S. Department of Energy report shows Argentina holds more natural gas trapped in shale rock than all of Europe does — a 774-trillion-cubic-feet bounty that could transform the outlook for Western Hemisphere supply.
It put Argentine shale gas reserves several times higher than previous estimates, behind only China and the United States, where shale drilling is already key to energy supplies.
“Oil companies are constantly operating in turbulent environments, in problematic countries,” local energy analyst Victor Bronstein said. “If they think there’s a business opportunity, that there’s a possibility of resources, they’ll dive in.”
But Randazzo said that Argentines “will enjoy the consequences of this decision” which is directly related to this “virtuous model, which returns the management of our national resources to the state and to the people.”
“There’s no country in the world that has transferred the management of hydrocarbons to the private sector,” and added that Argentina “is still undergoing an industrialization process and needs to be able to manage a strategic resource such as the hydrocarbons,” he explained.
“Argentina made a sovereign decision. And there’s a group of Spanish businessmen defending their economic interests, but this company does not belong neither to the Spanish people nor the Spanish government,” he added.
The national spirit is so high in hearts and minds of Argentines that even after losing the Falkland war with Britain and facing international criticisms from around the world about his actions the nationalism doesn’t dies out. The recent rows of threats and diplomatic upheaval between the two nations; Argentina has not stopped its threats to the companies operating in Falkland Islands which comes, and are served under the British overseas territories department. 
Though these steps and actions discussed about the concerns of Argentina at large may be right in their own respect as a nation but when it comes to the transparency of the laws and security of the FDI flowed by the foreign firms must be provided with guarantees by the government so that the interests of the investors must be made secure which also prevent Argentina from further isolation from the international diplomatic quarters. 
Nationalism is one of the greatest pillars of forming ones nation but if not controlled and guided without giving a proper direction may lead to serious faltering of the foundations of the very country. 

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The Right to Truth is Worth more than a Life Without Truth

Ilham Aliyev In For Europe of the UNFAOAzerbaijan an unsung kingdom of Ilham Aliyev has remained world’s worst open prison for being a journalist.


The tyrant leadership of Aliyev’s presidency has lead country into severe crisis of human rights. Journalists are kept under constant monitoring and under vigil. Whether it is online social media / emails / even a simple reporting on a particular issue comes under the brutal scissors of the government.
The brutal assault on Idrak Abbasov has once again exposed the ground reality of how the journalists and other media agencies work in Azerbaijan. The crisis of being free and live free are of the most acute nature where journalists are not only threatened but also face violent attacks and in even worst scenario death or life long imprisonment where in jails they face mal treatment, sexual abuse and much more heinous acts which are being committed by Aliyev regime.
The families of journalists too face the wrath of government agencies or even public enterprises just like the one in case of Idrak Abbasov whose house was bulldozed by the national oil company Global Energy Azerbaijan Ltd and SOCAR. In the cases like these families, relatives are also barred from taking them to hospital for medical treatment or even visiting them in jail.
The international community in particular western countries who act as global advocates of human rights and democracy have also turned blind eye towards the worsening situation in Azerbaijan and the atrocities being committed by the country’s premier Ilham Aliyev.
Is the oil for the world so important and valuable that human lives needs to compromised for it. Is the thirst of developed and growing economies is so necessary that the people strife for freedom and justice has become dwarfed. Azerbaijan sits on the most lucrative Caspian oil fields and shares the major chunk of the total available. The business of oil has now overshadowed the voice of crying people who wants peace, freedom and justice against the crimes which are being committed by this tyrant leader of this Central Asian republic.
Is the blood and sacrifices of the people of Azerbaijan is cheaper than the people of Libya and Syria. With the diplomatic stand of Western lobby towards Azerbaijan and the cooperation with the autocratic leader Ilham Aliyev has been proven that the world just work for money and the governments who says and speak about democracy and human rights are just false illusions of once real life dream.
As the power of money and resource has always been heavier than the plight of those who compromise their lives for their freedom; the case of Azerbaijan and the Journalists who are struggling for truth and justice for their people has been following on the deaf ears of those who just want to quench their thirst of oil rather taking a stand as the global leader which they propound to show the world. Just like when Idrak Abbasov was awarded with the Guardian journalism prize at the Index on Censorship free expression awards for his brave reporting and for standing up to state intimidation in Azerbaijan said “Listing the threats of detention and harassment Azerbaijani journalists face, Abbasov said at the Index awards:
This is the price that my colleagues in Azerbaijan are paying for the right of the Azerbaijani people to know the truth about what is happening in their country. For the sake of this right we accept that our lives are in danger, as are the lives of our families.
But the goal is worth it, since the right to truth is worth more than a life without truth.”
It is true as one of the assailant reportedly said: “Tell Idrak to get smarter or we will cut off his ears.”

 

A WAR WITHOUT A CLEAR ENEMY

Gunsdrugsandmoney ShutterstockIn 1971, President Richard Nixon declared drugs as public enemy number one and introduced a war on drugs called “Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act 1970.


The act was to set out to reduce or eliminate the production, supply and consumption of illegal drugs. As Nixon made the war official, it was actually Woodrow Wilson who had set a Narcotics Tax in 1914 and Reagan that left a lasting legacy in 1980s. After a year in the office, Reagan stated: “We’re taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we’re running up a battle flag.” With this, his administration introduced mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences resulting in an explosive rise in the American prisons that continues today.

Many consider the 1960s as a colorful time and the heyday of drug use where hippies smoked marijuana, children living in the ghettos pushed heroine and Timothy Leary, and a Harvard professor urged the world to try LSD. But in fact some data of surveys done then tells another story. In a 1969 Gallup poll, only 4% of American adults said they had tried marijuana and parents would use scare tactics saying that marijuana would cause acne, blindness and sterility.

In the 1970s drugs became glamorous but were still misunderstood. The1981 book “The Truth About Drugs — The Body”, “Mind and You” by Gene Chill and John Duff asserted that cocaine wasn’t addictive and Gallup poll in 1973, 12% said they had tried marijuana.

During these 42 years, the U.S Government has spent $2, 5 trillion dollars fighting the “war”. Despite the ad campaigns, increased incarceration rates and a crackdown on smuggling, the number of illicit drug users in America has risen over the years and now sits at 19.9 million Americans and a large portion of their supply makes its way into the country through Mexico. The U.S. International Narcotics Control Strategy has reports that 90% of cocaine, for example, reaches the United States through its southern border and drug-related violence in Mexico has gotten so bad that it is now spreading over into states such as Arizona, which has suffered a rash of kidnappings and ransoms as well as Arizona’s 370-mile border with Mexico serves as the gateway for nearly half of all smuggled marijuana.

In the beginning…
How did this menace hit the continent? Well it started around 30 years ago when hundreds of thousands of Central Americans immigrated to the US, many illegally. While the generation that immigrated to seek a better life for themselves and their family worked hard, unfortunately many of their children grew up to become gang members involved in different criminal activity.

The Latin Kings are said to be the largest and most organized Hispanic street gang in America. This gang can be dated back to the 1940s in Chicago, Illinois when Puerto Ricans on the north side of the city and the Mexicans on the south side organized themselves into a defense group to protect their communities. Their main intention was to unite “all Latinos” into a group against any oppression and to help each other to overcome racism and prejudice.

The next and most vicious and dangerous of them all is MS”, “Mara”, or “MS-13, a criminal gang that originates from Los Angeles and has spread to Central America, Canada and many parts of the United States. The ethnicities vary from Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans.
The third largest is called 18th Street gang also known as M18, Calle 18, Barrio 18, La18 or Mara-18 in Central America. It’s a ruthless, multi-ethnic transitional criminal gang that started in Los Angeles, California and has tens of thousands of members in the city alone. Their membership goes from USA, Central America, South America and as far as to Australia.
FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiated in September 2005 a huge raid against suspected gang members making 660 arrests across the country. As many gang members were deported back to Central and South America, the crime and murders rose rapidly across Latin America. By 2005, homicides in Honduras had risen to nearly 2,500 a year for instance and these countries became a route for drug trafficking quite fast. The major findings in a report by the Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center, which has not been publicly released, states that about 900,000 gang members live “within local communities across the country,” and about 147,000 are in U.S. prisons or jails. Same report also concludes that many states will experience an increased gang membership and crime activity as the gang member’s recruits new members from campuses and rural schools. The gang also uses the internet more sending encrypted emails either to recruit or communicate throughout the U.S. and other countries.
MEXICO – A country ravaged by drug
The exotic landscape draws many tourists every year and the financial district houses the Mexican headquarters of major corporations, Hewlett Packard and IBM including Mexico’s top private schools with heavily armed guards but as the fight against the drug cartels escalates, attackers and cartel members have reached into the most guarded districts.

When the United States Coast Guard shut down the Caribbean cocaine route, the trade shifted to Mexico.
This drug war has gone so far that it is threatening the stability of the countries in central and South America. Around 50,000 have died in Mexico including 3,000 public servants, policemen, soldiers, judges, mayors and dozens of federal officials and the violence is getting worse. The corruption and infiltration of cartels has spread to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and some Caribbean nations as well.
The Guatemalan government has lost large areas of the country and including some of its prison as the government has been infiltrated by the mafia. The countries of Central America’s northern triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) are now among the most violent places on earth and has become more deadlier even than most conventional war zones.

When Texas requested more National Guard protection from the Mexican drug cartels, the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair stated that the Mexican government had lost control of its own territory. President Felipe Calderón responded by pointing out that his nation shared a border with “the biggest consumer of drugs and the largest supplier of weapons in the world.”

The Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared a war against the drug cartels just day after being sworn into office in 2006 when he sent 6,500 troops to end the execution style killings between the two rival drug gangs. The following year, Calderón’s public security minister Genaro Garcia Luna removed 284 federal police commissioners; all suspected of corruption and replaced them with a hand-selected group of officers who successfully arrested several drug lords. The drug cartels answer to this was vicious violence where 5,300 people were killed in drug-related crimes in 2008 and over 1,000 have died this year.

The boys are searching for something they can be a part of, and the gang offers them all the things they miss in their life. Money, attention, unity and brotherhood but all this has a price. The boy says that the gang becomes their family and that they look after each other. The young boys who are picked up as members starts working as lookouts or guardians (little drug shops) and then they start getting paid for killing people. In Mexico Juarez, a person can get killed for 1000 pesos equals to $85. On the surface it looks like the perfect thing to join but the membership results in two things and that is either in prison or 6 feet under.
The city of Juarez, Mexico is right next to El Paso, Texas and it is the murder capital of the world and so far this year, more than 2,000 people have been murdered in the city.  Despite the efforts of the Mexicans government to tackle the situation, corruption has spread to all levels of the government that they feel like they are losing the fight. Some have even gone so far to state that it is far safer to travel to Afghanistan and Iraq today rather than to cities like Juarez.
The members of the drug cartels has done their part by guaranteeing that their drug reaches the U.S. this was shown when U.S. officials raided a southern California warehouse and discovered a lighted and ventilated tunnel that was 4 feet (1,21 meters) high and 1,800 feet ( 548,6 meters) long crossing into Mexico. 25 tons of Marijuana was seized during the raid. This tunnel was just one of the 75 tunnels along the Mexican border discovered in the last 4 years.
In 2011, there were 1,200 National Guard Troops along the Mexican border while there are deployed more than 28,000 U.S. troops along the South Korean border with North Korea. It is being spent millions of dollars to secure this border and not one single unauthorized entry has happened across the Korean border and at the same time, the U.S. government has said that it cannot secure the U.S. border with Mexico as some in the Obama administration believes it would be “a violation of human rights” to put up a fence or to implement extra security on the border while the drug trafficking and violence continues to cross over the border and into the U.S.
Although Obama and his administration won’t admit it, it is in fact a shared war that they all have to take part in. The cocaine and other drugs smuggled and sold by the cartel is bought and used by Americans making them the largest consumers. The relationship is give and take and in return the cartels purchase weapons. The automatic weapons, from AK-47s to M4’s are almost 90% American made and purchased in the US legally. More than 6,700 licensed gun dealers have set up shop within a short drive of the 2,000-mile border, from Texas to San Diego, California. “Straw Buyers” purchase these weapons for traffickers at small gun shops and large gun shows. One Mexican -American once bought more than 100 assault rifles, 9-mm handguns and other high-powered weapons at multiple shops over several months and the cartel paid him $40 per gun.

According to Mexican government officials, as many as 2,000 weapons enter Mexico from the US daily and fuel an arms race between competing Mexican drug cartels and since 1996, a total of 63,000 guns have been smuggled into Mexico. This has leaded to that the Mexican cartels now control large areas of Mexican territory and dozens of municipalities as well as having influence in the politics.

Since 2007, a total of 7,882 drug cartel related deaths have occurred. In Iraq, the number of US soldiers killed since 2003, is less. The Mexican government has spent $7 billion to fight the drug cartels. In some cases, the government has sent 6000 soldiers to a province to fight the cartels.
The U.S. Justice Department has stated in the previous months last that the Mexican gangs are the “biggest organized crime threat to the United States.”
In Phoenix, Arizona, homicides have increased with kidnap and execution style killings. In Southern California, Americans have been abducted by armed groups tied to the Tijuana drug trade. In the past month, the town of Juarez, right across the US border had over 250 deaths and President Calderon ordered 5,000 more troops and federal police to the town but it seems like it hasn’t done any difference.

The drug traffickers working for the drug cartels are recruiting young boys and the younger they are, the better. Texas high schools have reported that cartel members have visited their campuses many times in search for young boys. In 2010, a 14 year old was arrested as he had become a head-chopping cartel assassin with no remorse. “I slit their throats,” he stated and his sister helped him to dump the bodies on the freeways. The boy with the nickname “El Ponchis” (The Cloak) was found guilty of torturing and beheading and was sentenced to three years in Mexico.

In September 2011, a sack of heads was found near an Acapulco elementary school and a blogging reporter’s headless corpse was dumped in front of a major thoroughfare in the Texas border town of Nuevo Laredo. Her head, along with headphones and computer equipment, was found in a street planter.

For decades, the Colombians would have the Mexicans transport cocaine for them unless they sent the cocaine directly into the U.S. on planes or speedboats but this came to an end in 1990 when the United States tightened the Colombians main smuggling point in the Caribbean and Florida and cooperated with the Colombian government to fight the cartels. The Colombians then had to rely on the Mexicans who used to smuggle across areas that was difficult to monitor. The Mexicans saw this as an opportunity and bought out every last single competitor and within few years, they gained dominance in the global illicit drug trade.

The number of people murdered in the drug war inside the United States between 2006 and 2010 exceeds the US-troop death toll in the Iraq War since it was launched in 2003, according to a Narco News analysis of FBI crime statistics.
The US drug-war homicide also is nearly three times greater than the number of US soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001, the same analysis shows.

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, had the highest number of violent deaths at 1,206; followed by the beach resort town of Acapulco, with 795. But despite the high numbers of deaths, the Calderon administration takes credit for capturing 22 of 37 most important cartel leaders. Chris Sabatini, policy director for the Americas Society, stated naively that he didn’t expect the violence to spread over into the U.S. He doesn’t care much of it as long as the violence stays south of the border but the facts show that the cartels and violence is consuming the U.S; slowly but surely.
Legalized drugs – Desperate or a clever move?

Presidents from Guatemala and Colombia have raised the possibility of legalization in their countries and the region, with politicians from Costa Rica, Mexico and El Salvador joining the debate and possibility.
Although decriminalization doesn’t guarantee and end to the violence and crime, it could give the government some free space and profit the supporters suggest. This suggestion is supported by many business man as well as the drug war and crimes has caused problems for Latin America’s business and economics by weakening the state institutions, infiltrating judicial systems and the government.

The debate over the legalization was brought by the Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina. When he met with the Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes at the summit, he proposed decriminalizing the drug war in Central America as a way to put an end to the violent cartel activity that is moving through the region leaving many deaths behind them. Funes seemed to like the idea in Guatemala City but by the time he returned home, he had a change of heart. “I am not in agreement with decriminalization of production, trafficking or consumption of drugs,” he said in an attempt to “avoid erroneous interpretations.” This did not come as a surprise as the region is dependent and under a strong influence of the U.S. who is against legalization. To legalize is a bold move and it would most probably not work for the U.S. if the government legalizes the use of marijuana, then that means that people will be able to buy it from other places rather than only from drug dealers leaving other stronger drugs behind. To sell these other drugs will either be easy or hard since people will use more marijuana than other drugs because its legal and drug dealers and cartels will become more violent and aggressive to sell the other drugs as well. For one thing, if marijuana makes up 60 percent of the cartels’ profits, that still leaves another 40 percent, which includes the sale of methamphetamine, cocaine, and brown-powder and black-tar heroin. If marijuana were legalized, the cartels would still make huge profits from the sale of these other drugs as people can buy marijuana from drug dealers who can push stronger drugs on them at the same time.
The positive and negative sides of this issue can be seen in countries and cities that has legalized and liberalized the law are: `
Portugal
In 2001, Portugal became the first European country officially to abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs. Those found guilty of possessing small amounts are sent to a panel made up of a psychologist, a social worker and a legal adviser who will advise on appropriate treatment.
Italy
Drug laws were relaxed in 1993 to define very small amounts of drugs (usually less than half a gram) as being for personal use. People found with smaller amounts do not face criminal prosecution, though they are placed on a users’ register.
California
The passing into law of Proposition 215 in November 1996 did not legalise marijuana in California but created a new exemption from criminal penalties for its medical use for those with a doctor’s recommendation, which can be made either in writing or verbally. This November the state will vote on a plan, called Proposition 19, to let adults possess small amounts of marijuana and let local government tax its sale.
The Netherlands
The Dutch classify cannabis in all its forms as a soft drug and the smoking of it, even in public, is not prosecuted. Selling cannabis, although technically illegal, is widely tolerated in coffee shops which, however, must keep to a five gram maximum transaction and sell only to adults. Recent moves have been made to tighten these controls in response to drug tourism.
Switzerland
Zurich’s Platzpitz park needle exchange project in the mid-1980s led to the decision by authorities not to police the park on the grounds that it would focus drug use in one place. The experiment ended after the number of addicts in the park rose from a few hundred in 1987 to more than 20,000 in 1992.
Obama’s failed war
When President Obama head to Colombia last week for the Summit of the Americas, he was going to face some difficult and important questions that no president before him has really had to answer. As the U.S. drug war entered its fourth decade, the leaders of South and Latin America are demanding changes and reforms from the largest importer and consumer of drugs but they failed to come to an agreement as several key leaders failed to show up to the meeting.

Since the 1970’s, the U.S. government has pursued a militarized and aggressive policy against illicit substances. Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil have all taken steps towards decriminalization as they have suffered the most from ruthless cartels. Guatemala’s new President, Otto Perez Molina, a former general believes in decriminalizing the narcotic trade saying this would get remove money laundering, smuggling, arms trafficking and corruption not to mention the violence and deaths.

President Obama admitted in January 2004 that the war on drugs was failing:” The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws… We need to rethink how we can operate the drug war”. Since then, he has shown little interest on the war on drugs. He knows that he cannot end the drug war but has urged to focus on increased prevention and treatment over incarcerations after being too much focused on arrests.

U.S. authorities say that there are now over 1 million members of criminal gangs operating inside the United States and according to federal statistics; these 1 million gang members are responsible for up to 80% of the violent crimes committed in the U.S. each year. A growing percentage of It is Spanish speaking gangs are becoming a dominant key factor in every city in the United States.

The White House on their side defenses their approach by presenting some facts:
•Overall drug use in the United States has dropped substantially over the past thirty years. The number of Americans using illicit drugs today is roughly half what it was in the late 70’s.
•There has been a 46% drop in current cocaine use among young adults over the past five years, and a 68% drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006.
•The potential production capacity for pure cocaine in Colombia has declined from an estimated 700 metric tons of potential cocaine production in 2001 to only 280 metric tons in 2009 —a 60% drop.
•Legalization remains a non-starter “because research shows that illegal drug use is associated with voluntary treatment admissions, fatal drugged driving accidents, mental illness, and emergency room admissions.”

Statistics

When Nixon announced the war on drugs in 1971, the US kept just 0.2% of its population behind bars but today, it incarcerates close to 0.8% of its population – 2.25 million Americans. A further 5 more million are on parole or probation. In total, more than 7 million people in the US are under correctional supervision. If they were all gathered together they could form the 13th biggest state of the union by population. Most of the prisons are overcrowded and private prisons are increasing as it profits unbelievably. Human rights organizations have long condemned the “inhuman exploitation in the United States” where it is said that the prisons house over 2 million – mostly African-American and Hispanics coming as no surprise. For the tycoons who have invested in the private jails, this is a working goldmine for them. Here the prisoners come to work every single day and work full time without any excuse and vacation, and if they aren’t happy about the 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they just get locked up in isolation cells. Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations. Some of the companies are IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling as warm bread.
Corporate stockholders making money off the prisoner’s do everything they can for longer sentences in order to expand their employment rather than rehabilitate the inmates. A study presented by the Progressive Labor Party accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.” An example of this is the prison in Virginia, Lawrenceville where the CCA has an ultra-modern prison where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.

Another helpful thing was the passage of the “three strikes law” (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies). This made the already existing prisons overcrowded and necessary to build 20 more new federal prisons.

According to California Prison Focus, no other society in the world and in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens. From less than 300,000 in 1972, inmates increased to 2 million by the year of 2000, minus those with probation. This is the opposite of what Obama suggested years ago, rehabilitation rather than punishment but it has obviously been failing as notorious gang members who enter prison continues to commit crimes inside and outside when they are released. Other Gang leaders give orders from prison to those on the outside such as selling drugs and committing murder. But it doesn’t stop there, because the drugs reach all the way into the prisons as well. Most of it is smuggled in by visitors or sent in by different techniques or smuggled in and sold by “dirty” prison guards.

The National Survey on Drug Use estimates that almost 23 million Americans are illicit drug users making it 8,9% of its adult population from 2008-2009 when it was only 8%. The number of marijuana users has gone up from 14.4 million in 2007 to 17.4 million in 2010. As illicit drugs, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and some other prescription drugs was used making marijuana the most commonly used drug with more than 17 million users in 2010. This is because marijuana is the most common drug for first-time users, according to the study. Among people who started using drugs in the year before the survey, 62% said they first used marijuana, 26% first used prescription drugs like tranquilizers and stimulants, and 9% first used inhalants.

America is clearly going on the wrong track when it comes to the counter drugs and their imprisonment habits. Instead of focusing on putting drug users behind bars to profit from them, they should focus more on treating this as an illness, not as a crime. People need help to fight the need and urge for drug or to treat the problem that pushes them to use drugs. Those who are guilty are the drug smugglers and sellers who profits from consumers. U.S. should rather target the big fish in the pound and legalizing is not the answer. That would mean going from bad to worse.

 

North Korea: A failed state and the hegemony of the failed leaders

North Korea is the last Stalinist state, a one-man dictatorship that also joined the nuclear club in 2006. Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of Kim Jong-il, was declared as his father’s successor after the latter passed away. It is in essence a failed state trying to suppress its people. It could be called fascism in its worst form as there is no free opinion, people are murdered in case someone speaks out against the “Great Leader”, citizens are being watched at all times, everything is being censored and foreigners who enter the country are closely monitored and cannot speak with locals about what is going on in the country. Citizens are being told what to do, what to say and even what to wear at all times. A good example of this is when Kim Jong-il died and the whole country was mourning, throwing them on the ground and crying their eyes out. 

Loss of face: 
In late February 2012, North Korea agreed to suspend all nuclear weapon tests and uranium enrichments as well as allowing international inspectors to verify and monitor activities at its main reactor. This was a part of a deal for American food aid to the isolated nation. 
Although North Korea has agreed before to halt its nuclear program, only to back out and demand more concessions, still, both South Korea and Japan saw it as the first step towards improvement even though they were somewhat skeptical.  
Then came the launch of the $450 million satellite “Bright shining star”, which exploded in mid-air about a minute after liftoff and plunged into the Yellow Sea. This failed project came at a time when Kim Jong-un wanted to mark his political power as the country marked its biggest holiday ever; the 100th birthday of his grandfather and North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung. 
The failed launching brought broad international condemnation including the suspension of food aid by the United States amid suspicions that North Korea might have more tricks up its sleeve. The government tried it’s hardest to frighten the West including its neighbour in the South but instead suffered loss of face and 240,000 tons of food aid worth $200milion. South Korean foreign minister Kim Sug-hwan was quick to comment after the rocket launch. “It is very regrettable that North Korea is spending enormous resources on developing nuclear and missile capabilities while ignoring the urgent welfare issue of the North Korean people such as chronic food shortages”. 

The Legacy of Kim Jong-Il:
Called the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il had been the eccentric ruler of North Korea, which was founded by his father, Kim Il-sung.  The two Kims have been the only leaders the country has known and have managed to lead the country into disaster with their policies. 
The problem is in the sociopathic behavior that has been transferred from father to son for three generations. When Kim Jong-un was unveiled as his father’s heir in 2010, he was given two powerful military titles: four-star general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. With his father’s death, the support of the military is crucial if Kim Jong-un is to consolidate power. 
The bizarre mind of Kim Jong-un can be explained through his still immature state where he orchestrates temper tantrums and threats of punishments to get his way in the international world.  
Provocative attitude and self imposed isolation:
Kim Jong-il transformed North Korea into a nuclear power as well as the most isolated state in the world, while a huge number of people starved as money flowed into the country’s military programs. The United States and its allies have for years been unable to find a solution except for applying sanctions and appealing to China.  
Even though malnutrition has improved marginally, still one in five North Korean children are underweight according to the World Food Programme.  Malnutrition has been caused by years of economic mismanagement and underinvestment, and was made worse in 2011 by poor weather and a reduction of food imports from China and South Korea.
Apparently North Korea hasn’t learned from past mistakes. In 2009, South Korea donated $13 million for a World Health Organization program to send medicine and medical supplies to the North, but then asked the United Nations to suspend the distribution of the aid following the sinking of its warship, the Cheonan, in March 2010. 
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused Obama of being incompetent and naive in handling North Korea.
“Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food-aid deal that proved to be as naive as it was short-lived. This incompetence from the Obama administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies,” Romney said.
The international community must focus its attention to the plight of the North Korean people. The countries and agencies involved in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear crisis should come second and measures should be taken to relax the stringent rules for providing essential food supplies and basic commodities to North Koreans. The nations that advocate human rights and democracy must give serious thought to the people dying of hunger and disease. Sometimes values needs to put on the back burner and the helping hand must be provided irrespective. 

North Korea is the last Stalinist state, a one-man dictatorship that also joined the nuclear club in 2006. Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of Kim Jong-il, was declared as his father’s successor after the latter passed away. It is in essence a failed state trying to suppress its people. It could be called fascism in its worst form as there is no free opinion, people are murdered in case someone speaks out against the “Great Leader”, citizens are being watched at all times, everything is being censored and foreigners who enter the country are closely monitored and cannot speak with locals about what is going on in the country. Citizens are being told what to do, what to say and even what to wear at all times. A good example of this is when Kim Jong-il died and the whole country was mourning, throwing them on the ground and crying their eyes out. 
Loss of face: 
In late February 2012, North Korea agreed to suspend all nuclear weapon tests and uranium enrichments as well as allowing international inspectors to verify and monitor activities at its main reactor. This was a part of a deal for American food aid to the isolated nation. 
Although North Korea has agreed before to halt its nuclear program, only to back out and demand more concessions, still, both South Korea and Japan saw it as the first step towards improvement even though they were somewhat skeptical.  
Then came the launch of the $450 million satellite “Bright shining star”, which exploded in mid-air about a minute after liftoff and plunged into the Yellow Sea. This failed project came at a time when Kim Jong-un wanted to mark his political power as the country marked its biggest holiday ever; the 100th birthday of his grandfather and North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung. 
The failed launching brought broad international condemnation including the suspension of food aid by the United States amid suspicions that North Korea might have more tricks up its sleeve. The government tried it’s hardest to frighten the West including its neighbour in the South but instead suffered loss of face and 240,000 tons of food aid worth $200milion. South Korean foreign minister Kim Sug-hwan was quick to comment after the rocket launch. “It is very regrettable that North Korea is spending enormous resources on developing nuclear and missile capabilities while ignoring the urgent welfare issue of the North Korean people such as chronic food shortages”. 

The Legacy of Kim Jong-Il:
Called the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il had been the eccentric ruler of North Korea, which was founded by his father, Kim Il-sung.  The two Kims have been the only leaders the country has known and have managed to lead the country into disaster with their policies. 
The problem is in the sociopathic behavior that has been transferred from father to son for three generations. When Kim Jong-un was unveiled as his father’s heir in 2010, he was given two powerful military titles: four-star general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. With his father’s death, the support of the military is crucial if Kim Jong-un is to consolidate power. 
The bizarre mind of Kim Jong-un can be explained through his still immature state where he orchestrates temper tantrums and threats of punishments to get his way in the international world.  
Provocative attitude and self imposed isolation:
Kim Jong-il transformed North Korea into a nuclear power as well as the most isolated state in the world, while a huge number of people starved as money flowed into the country’s military programs. The United States and its allies have for years been unable to find a solution except for applying sanctions and appealing to China.  
Even though malnutrition has improved marginally, still one in five North Korean children are underweight according to the World Food Programme.  Malnutrition has been caused by years of economic mismanagement and underinvestment, and was made worse in 2011 by poor weather and a reduction of food imports from China and South Korea.
Apparently North Korea hasn’t learned from past mistakes. In 2009, South Korea donated $13 million for a World Health Organization program to send medicine and medical supplies to the North, but then asked the United Nations to suspend the distribution of the aid following the sinking of its warship, the Cheonan, in March 2010. 
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused Obama of being incompetent and naive in handling North Korea.
“Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food-aid deal that proved to be as naive as it was short-lived. This incompetence from the Obama administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies,” Romney said.
The international community must focus its attention to the plight of the North Korean people. The countries and agencies involved in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear crisis should come second and measures should be taken to relax the stringent rules for providing essential food supplies and basic commodities to North Koreans. The nations that advocate human rights and democracy must give serious thought to the people dying of hunger and disease. Sometimes values needs to put on the back burner and the helping hand must be provided irrespective. 

Loss of Childhood as Child labor

ImageChildhood is much like spring, the blooming phase of a human being’s life. It is a phase when we are carefree and when we can indulge in acts of fun and leisure without worrying about the experiences of the upcoming future.

But do we ever stop to contemplate what kind of a childhood or childhood memories we would have had, had the knowledge of the often ‘untoward’ future incidents gripped us back then? The answer, I’m sure is ‘No’.
It never crosses our mind and besides, it’s a proposition tough to imagine but it’s a reality for many children, who are forced to succumb to the exploitations of child labour. It is one of the most heinous violations of human rights existing in our society even today.
Moreover, this violation is very common in the Indian city of joy – Kolkata. Much ironical to its title, this city has no joy to offer to those children who toil day and night to earn just a handful of rice to survive. So much so, that even the innocence glow of childhood fails to illuminate the lives of these children. They miss the nitty-gritties associated with the process of growing up and as a result, the transition from a child to an adult, often comes without the slightest of notice.
One of the most common reasons for this is the grinding poverty which abounds in the city. It makes the families of these children unable to provide even a roof over their heads. Therefore, they rely on their own children to fulfill the basic needs of life. In fact, their basic need just stops at earning a handful of rice to feed their stomachs.
Overpopulation is another factor contributed to the extremity of the situation. Illiterate parents add to this exploitation because they are unfamiliar with and so, least bothered about the physical, emotional and cognitive development of a child and also these parents are unaware of the fact that lack of education will lead their child ’s future only to the dungeons of sorrow and miseries. In most cases, the child is forced to work due to unemployment of the elders because of some physical disability or on account of the parent being a single parent,especially in cases of single mothers or alcoholic fathers.Orphans, by default, are left with no other option but to work because of the lack of elderly and important support of guardians.
One of the root causes of child labour is the willing exploitation from the factory owners, industries, small tea shacks, and shops where maximum numbers of cases of child labour are tracked. These owners exploit the children as not only do little children offer them services at a much cheaper rate than adults, but also because children have to be fed much less than an adult worker. Also these children won’t protest or form a union against the owners or fight back on being physically abused. These innocent facts about these children make them prone to the exploits from these notorious businessmen.
Due to so many limiting factors the lives of these innocent children take a turn for the worst. In a phase of life where they are supposed to study, grow mentally, spiritually, psychologically and physically, their very right to education is betrayed and consequently their future becomes anything but bright. The child is thus condemned to a life of unskilled, badly paid work and ultimately the vicious circle entraps them, shelling out generations after generations of poor children under cutting wages.
In many cases children are handling hazardous substances specially hose working in factories and due to that they become prone to chronic health diseases. Immigrant child labourers have more to face as they become victims of sexual exploitation too, majority of them being girls. The most glaring example being the red light area in Shobha bazaar where sexual exploitation of the girl child is in abundance and little boys begging around the signal is common sight that greets you. Not only in Shobha bazaar but the situation around Sealdah station is also similar. Suraj, a boy of 12 was seen polishing shoes of the travellers at the station.On being asked, he said he was doing this since the age of ten, since when his father died. His mother being psychologically ill can’t work.
As we move more far towards Barasaat region a family consisting of a father, mother and two sons were seen picking plastics, which they then sold to feed their stomachs. These are just a few instances seen around but on a macro level, there are thousands of Surajs who either start working at a very tender and impressionable age or beg around to sustain their lives.
There are specific clauses in the draft of Indian constitution dated 26 January 1950, about the child labour policy in India. They fall under different articles in the fundamental rights and the directive principles of the state policy. They lay down four specific policy rules regarding child labor.
The main legislative measures at the national level are the Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act -1986 and the Factories Act -1948. The first act was categorical in prohibiting the employment of children below fourteen years of age, and identified 57 processes and 13 occupations, which were considered dangerous to the health and lives of children. The details of these occupations and processes are listed in the schedule to the said act.
The Factories Act again prohibits the employment of children less than fourteen years of age. However, an adolescent aged between 15 and 18 can be recruited for factory employment only after securing a fitness certificate from an authorized medical practitioner. The act proceeds to prescribe only four hour’s work period per day for children between 14 and 18 years. Children are also not allowed to work in night shifts.
Moreover, in the year 1996 the Supreme Court of India came out with a judgment in court that directed the state and union government to make a list of all children embroiled in hazardous occupations and processes. They were then told to pull them out of work and asked to provide them with proper and quality education. The judiciary also laid down that child labor and welfare fund beset up. The contribution for this was to be received from the employers who contravened the Child Labor Act.
India is also a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child, ILO Abolition of Forced Convention – no 105 and ILO Forced Labor Convention – no. 29. A national labor policy was also adopted in the year 1987 in accordance with India’s development strategies and aims. The national policy was designed to reinforce the directive principles of state policy in the Indian constitution.
In spite of so many initiatives from the state government as well as the union government, the existing scenario of child exploitation through child labor is still the same. Despite so many projects undertaken by the government, offering proper and quality education, supplementary meals etc, and the reality is unchanged.
Why are so many children still devoid of their basic rights? Why is the future of these children hooded under the canopy of misery and exploitation?
The questions are infinite but answers are none. Children are innocent and do not know their rights so if the government does not take a strict initiative for the proper education of these little ones, the problem will never perish and continue to effect generations after generations.
The disparity between educated and illiterate will never reduce, how can we then expect the economy of the country to swell? This developing country can never be developed if attention is not paid to strengthening the foundation.

DISORDERLY CONDUCT

ImageThe murder of 16 Afghan civilians on March 11th 2012 shocked the international world and brought more tension to the already strained relationship. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly killed the civilians in cold blood but according to the Pentagon, Bales had been treated for a traumatic brain injury that he suffered in Iraq in 2010. Other information leaked by military officials indicated that Bales, who was on his fourth deployment, may have “snapped” under pressure due to a brain injury and/or alcohol abuse.
Robert Bales had broken into three homes in three different locations in Panjwai district -villages of Alkozai and Najeeban and another settlement known locally as “Ibrahim Khan Houses”.
By the end of the attack, 16 people, 9 of them children were dead and 5 wounded. Some of the bodies had also been set on fire. According to pictures, some of the victims had been killed by a single gunshot to the head.

Suicide and health problems
It’s no surprise that U.S. military personnel and veterans are plagued by substance abuse, depression and suicides.
In various studies, researchers surveyed nearly 600 veterans returning from war zone deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan, finding out that they were at increased risk for mental health problems and alcohol and drug abuse.
Nearly 14% of the veterans screened positive for probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 39% for probable alcohol abuse, and 3% for probable drug use. Men reported more alcohol and drug use than women, but there were no gender differences in PTSD or other mental health conditions.
Another important founding was the difference between veterans returning from Iraq who reported more depression or functioning problems and more alcohol and drug use than those returning from Afghanistan.
The studies were published online on Jan. 25th in the American Journal of Public Health and are scheduled to appear in the March supplement print issue of the journal.
In a second study, researchers found that major depression and substance use disorders have increased among active duty combat-exposed veterans. The finding comes from an analysis of data from 678,382 active personnel that served between 2001 and 2006.
“Given the continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, and the increasing trend in major mental health conditions reported in the U.S. military, it would be important for the Department of Defense to assess whether the current system has adequate resources and manpower to handle the increasing number of active duty personnel who need mental health services,” the researchers concluded.
The third study found out that suicide rates for all U.S. military services increased between 2005 – 2007, particularly for members of the regular Army and National Guard. The increased risk of suicide in 2007 compared with 2005 may be due to the extended duration of war and increased lengths of deployment for Army and Air force personnel the researchers concluded.
Already in 2008, researches had presented study results where 300,000 U.S. troops were suffering from major depression or post-traumatic stress in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and 320,000 received brain injuries and only half of them had applied for help according to the nonprofit RAND Corporation. Terri Tanielian, the project’s co-leader and researcher at RAND already warned about the health crises 5 years ago. -“There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The 500-page study was the first large-scale, private assessment of its kind, including a survey of 1,965 service members across the country, from all branches of the armed forces and including those still in the military as well veterans who have left the services.

RAND researchers also found:
• About 19% or some 320,000 services members reported that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while they were deployed. In wars where blasts from roadside bombs are prevalent, the injuries can range from mild concussions to severe head wounds.
• About 7% reported both a probable brain injury and current PTSD or major depression.
• Only 43% reported ever being evaluated by a physician for their head injuries.
• Only 53% of service members with PTSD or depression sought help over the past year in 2008.
• They gave various reasons for not getting help, including that they worried about the side effects of medication; believing that family and friends could help them with the problem; or that they feared seeking care might damage their careers.
• Rates of PTSD and major depression were highest among women and reservists.
The report is titled “Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery.” It was sponsored by a grant from the California Community Foundation and done by 25 researchers from RAND Health and the RAND National Security Research Division, which does work under contracts with the Pentagon and other defense agencies as well as allied foreign governments and foundations.

Another study which has been published in Injury Prevention, it has been revealed that American soldiers are not able to tackle situations at work front and this has led to commit suicide. The study was being conducted by Kathleen E. Bachynski and colleagues from the U. S. Army Public Health Command in Aberdeen.
They found that from 2007 and 2008, there have been 255 suicides in the US and the majority of the deaths that took place in 2008 were mainly associated with troops who were deployed in the 2003 Iraq war.
In addition, the study authors found soldiers to be suffering from mental illnesses as well like post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorder, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. It is said mental disorders have contributed a major portion to increase the number of suicides taking place in the US Army.
Who is responsible to see the signs?
The commander on the ground is supposed to be responsible to look out for the mental health of those under his command. It’s something they are thought to do and should do as people understand when someone shows signs of disorder.
The signals vary from high-risk behavior, such as self-medicating with alcohol, anger management, involvement in partner abuse, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse. I personally see the families of the soldiers as responsible as well to some point. Last year for instance, an Army private accused of killing a Taliban prisoner by shooting him in the face agreed to plead guilty in the slaying, despite his diagnosis of schizophrenia. His parents said he had repeatedly told them through email and phone conversations that he was hearing voices. If parents or partners see signs of disease or other, they should report it, so that both sides should be spared of damages.

Proactive work
What is obvious from past and present studies is that there is a stigma closely tied to getting help for mental health problems.
The Army has tried to prevent suicides in the past year through training, a suicide prevention task force, and a day of standing down from official duties to focus on suicide prevention. Top military officials including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates have encouraged military personnel to seek counseling.

While PTSD can be treated effectively with talk therapy, the military has also begun focusing on whether the problem might be prevented in the first place — for instance by identifying those at high risk and preparing them psychologically for conflict.
In the new study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, more than 22,000 soldiers completed a health questionnaire before they were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and again after they returned.
Just over 3% had some mental illness, including PTSD.
Upon returning, however, 8% had symptoms of PTSD. Those who had mental illness other than PTSD before deployment, had more than twice the odds of developing the condition after they returned home.
According to the Army Medical organization who conducted another study, the suicides rose 80% from 2004 to 2008. As many as 40 percent of these suicides may have been linked to combat experience in Iraq, yet nearly a third of the soldiers who committed suicide saw no combat at all, said the researchers, from the U.S. Army Public Health Command published in the March 7th online edition of the journal Injury Prevention.
The findings are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Army Behavioral Health Integrated Data Environment, a registry including consultations, diagnoses and treatment on suicides from many military sources.
Almost half (45%) of those who committed suicide were between 18 and 24 years old and what the researchers found out was that the soldiers who committed suicide were more likely to have been diagnosed with a mental illness in the year before their suicide.
The reasons behind the increase in the suicide rate was related to increased rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, personality and adjustment disorders, and serious mental illness, the researchers said. Those with severe depression were more than 11 times more likely to take their lives, and those with anxiety disorders were 10 times more likely to do so according to the researchers in Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
Diagnoses linked to a higher suicide risk included depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, substance misuse, along with psychosis and adjustment disorders.

Past and present – what have we learned?

The authors of the study, the Army Public Health Command (APHC), estimated that 25% to 50% of the suicides were directly related to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the key psychological issues affecting the approximately two million American troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 have been traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
One mistake made by the U-S- government was that there was a critical shortage of health care personnel, especially specialized on mental health to meet the demands of those who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan according to a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine.

After the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Vietnam in 1973, the same thing happened. The rates of mental health problems went up. American soldiers had fought in harsh conditions both in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf where being ambushed and taken as hostage was a part of their daily life, but the combat and weapons have changed with the years and even if the wars are effectively fought, the mental problems remains the same. The U.S. government has been too busy with planning wars and sending Iraq veterans to Afghanistan instead of focusing on mental health issues.
Stigma – Wrapped in shame
Bottom line is; the Pentagon’s mental-health workers are fighting a war of their own for the minds of the nation’s soldiers and Marines, but they continue to lose ground on this matter.

Many veterans are aware of the mental state they are in but have not seeked help or treatment. Some of the most important reasons they have given for not seeking help includes:
• Concern over being seen as weak.
• Concern about being treated differently.
• Concern that others would lose confidence in them.
• Concerns about privacy
• They prefer to rely on family and friends.
• They don’t believe treatment is effective.
• Concerns about side effects of treatments.
• Problems with access, such as cost or location of treatment.

I believe that the sense of shame has kept these men away from treatment and that’s also one of the reasons that they have committed suicide. Sometimes the conscience plays a role in suicides when war crimes have occurred.
Kandahar massacre
The American staff sergeant Bales who killed 16 Afghan villagers, had been drinking alcohol, something that is a violation of military rules in combat zones. He had served three tours of duty in Iraq and was deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in December serving a total of 11 years in the army.
With the alcohol running through his veins and stress because of being deployed on his fourth combat tour, Bales snapped American officials say. Bales also refused to speak to investigators asked for a lawyer shortly after he surrendered on the base.

Local journalists have said that the villages of Najeeban and Alkozai are about 5-7km (3-4 miles) apart. This immediately raises questions about if Bales walked by foot the whole time. An Afghan guard at the NATO base had also told the media that Sgt Bales left the base twice. He returned at 00:30 local time after the first trip out and was out between 02:00 and 04:00 for the second trip. In one village Sgt Bales reportedly went from house to house, trying the handles of several doors and entering the homes and killing those whose doors were unlocked. Although he had “snapped”, Bales had remembered to put on his night vision goggles before he killed the 16 villagers.

Apparently the U.S. military is quick to discover mental problems after the damages were done but isn’t that effective to examine them before. This man should never have been deployed out in the field, and he should certainly have never been sent back to America after the murders.
If an Afghan man had “snapped” and committed similar crime in Washington DC, I am sure, the U.S. would have never sent him back to Afghanistan to face trial but instead punish him in America as the US government has no problem in bringing “terrorists”, guilty or not to Guantanamo.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was planned from Bales’s side and he knew exactly what he was doing. His actions were not the results of PTSD and not only against military culture but against human behavior. When a person snaps, he does not put on his night vision, arm himself with weapons and walk several miles to nearby villages where he goes from door to door to kill and burn innocent people, mostly children. A person who snaps will instantly target those who are near him so why didn’t he shoot and execute the men and women around him on the base? I have no doubt that Bales has mental health problems but these killings were conducted effectively and in cold blood. This kind of act brings various consequences:
1.) Creates environment to encourage people to go on the path of extremism.
2.) Extremists exploit these kinds of situations.
3.) Opposing regimes of other neighboring nations takes advantage of such incidents.
4.) Whatever the percentage Afghan government leaders support US role in the region they become separated from its people and from those leaders who are already against the US; this makes the situation more badly.
5.) Afghanistan’s youth would slowly but gradually move towards extremism.
The country which has been affected and suffering unjustifiably would one day stand against the power that has made them victims. And Afghanistan has history of taking such unified stand against suppressive powers.

If America would not give justice to the affected family and may not maintain the transparency in punishing the culprit of the massacre then there would countless question marks which would raise against the leadership role and the system of America which it promote as democratic and justified.

 

The growing leadership of Norway

Norway has always lived up to its repo of being great and efficient peace negotiator.

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After the recession of 2008 the country has survived with many challenges faced by the major European Economies. Norway since then has grown in the leadership role to help out its European brothers with finances and even inviting large scale influx of jobless European immigrants to this peaceful piece of peace marked with great fjords. Norway being the second largest energy player and supplier after Russia has an important role to play in the crisis ridden European Economic Area?
After the bomb blasts in 2011 the political scenario of Norway has changed in drifting way towards more complexities and serious in terms of national and regional security. Many incidents have taken since then which have transformed the Norwegian role in regional politics. The soft spoken but being straight in their agenda are now seeking the excessive participation in the arena of power where either they have to stand by with pro EU or against their peaceful foreign policy.
At the recent nuclear summit organized by IAEA at Seoul to which Norway too is a member has now made its stand clear where the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in his speech made it clear that Norway is with US missile defense system for the safety and security of the European nations which are getting sleepless nights due the increasing Russian aggression in the eastern members of EU after the Georgian war.
His statement and committed support for the possible defense installments in favor of regional safety has come as surprise to the members of the IAEA where even the Russians which till now have enjoyed good cordial relations with their Norwegian counterparts under Medvedev. This stance of Stoltenberg would certainly give cold feet to Russia because if Norway as it has committed to provide operational help and strength by providing personnel for NATO defense shield against invading rockets would give new teeth to the NATO defense to which Norway has remained a loyal and major military supplier.
If the shield as proposed by Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg comes into place as an active system this will provide a complete security cover for NATO bloc not only in the East European countries or Turkey as planned but also in the Scandinavian and Arctic region which from last decade have been the limelight and the cause of major energy thirsty nations and the members of Arctic council which has saw major shifts in their diplomatic view points.
The commitment to form Norwegian defense shield and strengthen the proposed NATO defense shield by Norway would bring a definite shift in the Russian foreign policy and their stand at the regional groupings to which Russia has remained an active participant and major partner to its Norwegian colleagues especially in the Arctic Council which has now become a major bone of contention with regular lobbying of China as the observer or permanent member in the council to which both Norway and Russia are against.
This will also positioned Norway at the frontline at par with other supportive NATO member nations. This decision has come when Stoltenberg at home has been facing major outcry against the presence of Norway’s troops in Afghanistan along with the King Herald IV who too has faced the criticism in siding with Stoltenberg’s decision.
The recent developments in Norwegian politics has now positioned Norway as a major player not only in Scandinavian region but also in the entire EU which has now looking to its prosperous members and regional partners for their support in its possible bailout packages being offered to weaker members like Greece, Spain and Portugal to which Norway has come out as the last savior to the continent.

A book of hate not love

Is beating your wife approved? Read This…

It has been a matter of great debate that whether the society which has always remained a male dominated and have only consider about the desires of a man.

Since time unknown women have faced the suppression at the hands of their male counterparts.

The world has always wondered whether it is justified to act violently against women. Recently a book sparked a new row of outrage in the entire international community especially in the conservative Muslim society. This 160 page guide book written on Islamic marriage by Maulavi Ashraf Ali Thanvi who is a prominent Islamic scholar based in India.

The book titled as ‘A Gift For Muslim Couple’ have come under the huge controversy among the various faction of the Muslim society itself. There are some paras where the writer has actually come out openly with writings to encourage husbands to beat their wives. It is evident enough that in the book’s opening pages it states that ‘it might be necessary to restrain her (wife) with strength or even to threaten her’.

“The husband should treat the wife with kindness and love, even if she tends to be stupid and slow sometimes,” the book says. The book says that the wife must ‘fulfill his (husband’s) desires’ and ‘not allow herself to be untidy… but should beautify herself for him.’

Maulavi Ashraf Ali Thanvi, advises that a husband shouldn’t beat his wife too hard, but pulling her ears and hitting her with a hand or a stick is all right for discipline.

According to the report, the book, which came to light after going on sale in Canada, has faced a backlash from moderate Muslims who claim that it encourages domestic violence,
“I wouldn’t say it’s hate, but it is inciting men to hit women,” Canadian political campaigner Tarek Fatah told the Canadian Media. “This is new to you, but the Muslim community knows that this is widespread, that a woman can be beaten. Muslim leaders will deny this,” he added.

As said above in one of the statements that domestic violence is widespread in Muslim community which is to very extent is true to the fact and the book is just out of several reasons of encouragement which has now created a new definition to the already victimized feminine gender in the world of so called modernity.

Women are not subject of comfort or luxury. They too are human beings and have equal rights as the man himself has. These kinds of thoughtless attempts to bring false in society not only ruin the efforts of those who have been struggling to maintain the social order on equality framework but also motivate those who are already being violent against the being of nobility and humanity.

The writing and views of raging society along with the respected Maulavi Ashraf Ali Thanvi are the slap on the face of every woman and on those who are working to maintain a better equal and positive society at large. It is the slap on the believers of all faiths who have thought their religions to be unbiased and equal rights in gender terms. It is a certificate of authenticity for those who have been inhuman and love to crush their women desires and her choice and her rights.

The humans are born equal and women in particular must be respected at all cost. Their choice and acceptance must be given top priorities against the personal priorities or preferences. It is the woman who plays the multiple roles in the society and thus it is she who nourishes the entire humanity with her grace and modesty. If women are respected and will regularly be treated as slaves of desires than how can a society would be called as civilized, it is the time now that we all irrespective of any believes of faiths must come together should have unified thought on the issues pertaining to woman. It is the responsibility of each and every body to respect women and their rights. It is our duty to protect her presence and to provide her a equal status in the society.

If radicals say whatever is being done to women is in the name of religion and on the order it has put for its believers than it means that they are cheating on society while making not only fool to the people but also cooking their own meal of the day through these kinds of falsehood preaching.

These kinds of writings or content must not be encourage by media and promoted by the publishing community for retail or any kind of publication. The writers or publishers who are publishing these kinds of anti social stuff which provoke domestic violence in the silent corners of the society behind the close doors of personal lives should be punished and perpetrators who support this kind of acts must bring to trail in the court for inciting negative sentiments against the entire feminine society.

Maulavi Ashraf Ali Thanvi who is the writer of “A Gift for a Muslim Couple.” It was published in India and distributed in Canada by Idara Impex must be brought to trail and the publisher must be charged with severe penalties. Even the title is very well misleading, how can a book be gift for couple which encourages domestic violence. Is “A Gift for a Muslim Couple” protected by free speech and the exercise of free religion or does it go too far?

Let’s see what the world would gives out of modernity and civilized communities, may be something like this which has no meaning or sense in it but has now became a source of contention between the two already divided worlds of human genders.

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