Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Islam and migration effects on Germany

The documentary's title is originally in German and is slightly different from the English title. The documentary above comes from the German channel ZDF. While Germany is anticipating 800K migrants and refugees coming into the country annually, the German government and by extension media is looking at the long established Germans of migrant backgrounds who have lived in the country for over twenty to thirty years. They are the guest workers that Germany brought over from Turkey and other countries in the 1950s-60s. Other Western European countries also relied on a guest work program to reconstruct their societies and get their economies up and running. Many Western governments assumed that the millions of guest workers now living in the EU were going to return home after the reconstruction period but didn't. They stayed and became citizens. While many of the migrant children and grandchildren are native born Germans, they still struggle to balance their parents' cultures with German culture and society. Among the challenges the children and grandchildren face is language barriers, religious differences, some domineering fathers and brothers, familial abuse and lack of the family providing safe zones for family members caught in a combination of alienation from their birth country and village traditions from the old country.

La vida musulmanes en Alemania en español sin subtitules

Un documental corte (creo que es de espana) sobre alemanes musulmanes y sus relaciones con la dominante sociedad y asuntes globales y la migración.

The integration process includes learning the language, constitution, citizens rights, history and geography among other things. The process is much an ordeal for both new comers as it reminds surprisingly for Germans who are four generations removed from their parents and grandparents' home countries. Germany like many other Western European countries for all the references to acceptance of different cultures and interacting with non European world, haven't done as well as Canada or the United States in integrating some immigrant families and new comers into society. Canada is seen as offering practical solutions and methods for integrating and absorbing new comers and future generations into wider German society. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Viva Catalunya, 1.4 million and political party demand Catala independence

Catalunya Wants: The Catalans have made up their minds with its relations to Spain.

While the world is following the migrant crisis, the war in Syria and UN speeches by Pope Francis and Vlad Putin, Catalunya has put its foot down on pushing for independence. No this is not a rumor via word of mouth or a whisper. It is well known for decades that the Catalonian people have been calling for independence from Spain. Along with the Basque Country's demands for independence, the Catalans have been fed up with the Spanish government's failure to grant the wealthier Catalunya province in Northeastern Spain independence. Among the grievances Catalunya reiterates to the Madrid government is the economic drain the rest of recession hit Spain puts on the economically stronger province, being marginalized in national representation and having their independent voice repressed, the physical and political distance between the national and local governments, ordinary Catalans' strong pride in their unique identity and culture, not wanting to be part of a broad Spanish identity. The Spanish Constitution purposely makes it illegal for any of Spain's autonomous region who have their own languages, history and cultural identities to declare independence from Madrid. Even if the Pro independentistas become the ruling coalition in the local Parliament as the Pro-Catalonian Independence party did in Barcelona, the Catalonian capital.

We Are Rebels: Catalonia Press TV Doc on Catalonian independence

Anyone who has visited Barcelona will see Catalonian flags, the language used everywhere in the streets and on signs. The accent is distinct even from other regional accents. The city and wider region is cosmopolitan and regarded as the most globalized compared to other regions of Spain. If you leave out Andulacia that is. Catalunya's call for independence goes further than just pride. If Catalunya unilaterally declares independence it will also be an inspiration for long time separatist groups in other parts of Spain (most famous being the Basque) and other parts of Europe to follow in toe. It is no accident that it has been one year since the first independence referendum was casted. Last year, the Catalans symbolically voted for independence from Spain sending Madrid and the wider European Union into stress mode. Depending on what happens in the coming weeks it might be for real.

Catalonia independence Pros and Cons via RT News

PS Although Scotland was scared into voting against independence last year and a month before Catalonia, the Scottish parliament and ordinary people would still consider holding another referendum on breaking away from the UK. Yes, the Scots are watching what Catalunya is doing even if the media is still mute on the recent events.

Alex Salmond, Scottish politician, "We should respect Catalunya's Choice"

Mosaic of Facts The Truth about Ukraine war

RT documentary Mosaic of Facts dives deep into the ongoing war and destruction in Ukraine beyond the mainstream media's image of Russia being a bully and wanting to turn Eastern Ukraine into its puppet. RT correspondant Miguel Francis-Santiago, travels to Ukraine and speaks with ordinary Ukrainians who are still suffering, caught in the crosshairs, being bombed out of their homes and basements and being condemned as Pro Russian government sympathizers by their own government. The chocolatier President Poroschenko has not backed down from pummeling East Ukrainian rebels with bombs in the name of overlooking the damaged and destruction to civilian infrastructure and deaths of his own citizens in cities such as Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol among other war torn cities.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Borderline anger: Croatia and Serbia tensions rise over migrant crisis

The Two Migrations brilliantly explained by Thai based cartoonist Arcadio Esquivel. Published at the Cartoon movement page. 

Tensions are rising between Serbia and Croatia over the border shuffling of migrants and refugees. Serbia has been patient with helping migrants and refugee families cross into neighboring countries such as Hungary and Croatia. Both countries are dismayed and angered with the Serbian government's lax attitude and calm. Hungary is on the verge locking itself up in its own created barbwire fortress as the Hungarian government buildings border walls along its border with Serbia, Croatia and threatens to build another border fence between itself and Bulgaria. If migrants are somehow able to get to through Slovenia into Austria, Hungary will most likely complete its border fortress. Hungarians appear to be taking a page from Israel's paranoia toward its Islamic and Christian neighbors in the Middle East. The media's stawman terrorist and ISIS has all but scared Israel and right wing European politicians into regarding every migrant and refugee as an ISIS affilate or as a threat to national security. The flood of migrants coming through Greece and Italy is still continuing. Libya has rescued over 4,500 exhausted people from the Mediterranean in just one day.

Reoccurring fears of multiculturalism ups and downs

The fear of a multicultural Europe has terrified both Western and Eastern European governments. Hungary, Slovakia and Greece are mostly ethnically homogeneous countries and see homogeneity as a positive for keeping each country in relative peace. Germany, UK and France have absorbed and welcomed millions of migrants over the past century. However, all three countries are seen as suffering from political disagreements to social cohesion due to multiculturalism or ethnic diversity. Keep in mind that historically even some Eastern European countries were once multicultural, home to different ethnic groups and religions under the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia became the poster child and was once admired for its multiculturalism. Until Nazi Germany's poisonous racism pushed many governments who fell under Nazi occupation to break up their societies along ethnic lines swallowed by extreme scientific racism, xenophobia and a world war that still haunts many countries to this day. The Neo Nazis and fascists have been having field days with their acceptance in mainstream society. Marine Le Pen continues to get airtime and Pegida in Germany is not slowing down its protests of migrants and refugees. The Anti migrant groups do not want to hear any blame nor understand the connections between Western interventions in Libya, Syria and Africa in the Middle East, war against ISIS and Al Qaeda leading to the exodus of people in the first place.

Serbia on the other hand, has been in the shoes of migrants and refugees before during the 1990s Yugoslav wars of independence. Only recently Serbia's image has changed from pariah state into a friendly country working on rapprochement with its neighbors Croatia, Slovenia and Kosovo. Serbs regard Kosovo as part of Serbian territory. Nevertheless, the Serbian government has grudgingly made an about face on Kosovo as part of its list of EU requirements to join the EU member state club. Serbia still has good relationships with Russia. It has much to do with cultural, linguistic, historical and political connections. Russia has generally had Serbia's back when confronted by Western states or criticisms. Croatia has been reinventing itself since the war ended in 1992. Croatian government has showcased the country as Western orientated and the hip young country on the Adriatic with cultural ties to its Northern and further West neighbor Italy. Yet, Croatia itself is still dealing with the skeletons and left over demons of the early 1990s Yugoslav war. The consequences of the war ie fratricide and ethnic nationalism and xenophobia often clouds its relationship with Serbia no matter how diplomatic or friendly. The lack of a practical strategy to register migrants or sending them an cyclical path between Croatia and Serbia has rised tensions between both governments

Deaths in Mecca and Saudi Arabia

An aerial view of the transformation of Mecca, Kaaba and the Clock Tower hotel in Saudi Arabia that has changed Mecca from a culturally rich holy site into a mini Dubai/Las Vegas. Picture originally published by NPR News. The remaining old city is hanging on in the far right corner.

Some 2 million people make annual hajjs or pilgrimages to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and have been doing so for over 1000+years. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and is considered a once in a lifetime journey. The world is represented in Mecca during the three day Hajj. Many people from Africa and Asia as well as the Americas, Europe and Australia speak of being spiritually transformed by the eye opening gathering of humanity in a single area and awakening to the peace and comfort of everyone being equal in faith if for a brief time. Perhaps the Hajj is the closest thing to Nirvana. Mecca and Madina the two holiest cities in Islam which hosts millions of visitors annually has been transformed completely from its humble origins as quiet and sleepy towns in Saudi countryside. The Saudi government has been accused of cultural destruction for removing and damaging priceless artifacts, mounments and hertiage mapping the early days of Islam and Prophet Mohammed's life including his birthplace and family sites. In the rush to overly modernize the city of Mecca from an ancient pilgramage town to a Las Vegas styled Holy Land spot, Mecca's historic districts and unique cultural places have disappeared under new construction works, multistory sky scrapers and a massive hotel that literally towers over the Kaaba. The Prophet's Mosque in Madina, the Masajid al Haram and Kaaba compound has been expanded to welcome millions of pilgrams annually. The Saudi tourism industry has long anticipated an increase in pilgrams and have sought creative ways to avoid a logistical nightmare within both cities. Plans have been in the making for over a decade on the Makkah Metro to ease the congestation from the airport to the main Hajj sites.

A close up of the clock tower hotel surrounded by other 7 star hotels (no joke). The ongoing construction has created temporary double decker pedestrian corridors to the Kaaba and has made traveling around the Kaaba and Grand Mosque claustophobic for 2 million people. 

Hajj Crane collapse 2015 (Warning graphic footage)

The red tears in Mecca and Madina

There is nothing wrong with upgrading and modernizing an ancient city. But to destroy thousands of years of cultural history and memory while displacing local people to showcase the world that holy cities can be modern and fun makes many wonder if the upgrades are more about tourism dollars and consumption than keeping the faith. Mecca and Madina haven't been spared from the choas of the world even with Saudi Arabia attempting to cocoon itself from the backlash of terrorism around and in it. In 1979 appropaitely after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, a group insurgence led by a man calling himself the Mahdi took over the Grand Mosque in an attempt to overthrow the House of Saud, This was not the first nor the last time anyone or group would threaten to overthrow the out of touch Saudi royal family. The Grand Mosque Seizure is often forgotten in the long list of terrorist attacks in Saudi and Middle East. The Seizure involving a huge hostage crisis was one of the earliest attacks to introduce France's anti terror force GIGN to the world. The GIGN aided the Saudi military in ambushing and ending the two week long siege. The insurgents were killed. The Saudi government put in place restricts and codes of conducts to safeguard the mosque and pilgrims from further harm and a reptition of events. While no group has attacked the holy cities since, Mecca has witnessed sporadic deaths from a combination of stampedes and incidents  throughout the years. The incidents range from fires to construction equipment collapses, Iranians clashing with Saudi forces following 1987 Hajj deaths of 400 Shite pilgrims, Iranian agents being suspected of bomb attacks and the threat of viruses affecting millions of people annually. Last week a massive stampede near the Sudanese pilgram tent killed over 718 pilgrams from various nationalities. In September, a construction crane near the new construction sites ringing the Kaaba collapsed and killed 180 visitors to shock of the wider world. Riyadh has rightly been blamed hundreds of deaths that appear to be happening annually. Among the causes of the wrongful deaths include shabby construction works, corruption by the monarchy, nepotism and lack of farsighed preventive measures ensure safety at every turn of the Hajj for millions of people.

The Hajj 3D experience: Never before seen

Saudi war against Yemeni civilians

While the tragedy in Mecca has transformed into global mourning, the Saudi military is still bombing Yemen into the ground while turning its shoulder to criticisms from ordinay Yemeni, Iran and journalists reporting on the war and destruction in Yemen. Saudi defense forces laucnhed a ground and air campaign to push back the Houthi rebels in Southern Yemen. The war has destroyed civilian infrastructure and lives. Millions of Yemenis have been internally displaced and many Yemeni families are still fleeing to Djibouti, Somalia, again (Yemen is tied to Eastern Africa like Oman is to South Asia), Oman and inside Saudi Arabia. Southern Yemeni seperatists are enjoying support from remaining war weary Yemenis as they fight against the Saudi bombardments, Houthi rebels seeking to control the entire country and pro Hadi supporters. Terrorist attacks against Yemenis at Sanaa mosques and targeting civilians has further pushed Yemen to the edge. Not to mention again that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarachies haven't taken in any refugees from Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

7 Yemeni civilians killed by Saudi bombs in Sanaa's old town

Friday, 25 September 2015

Pope Francis' Speech to American Congress and UN

Francis full speech C-Span

Pope Francis' earlier speech to Congress provided by C-SPAN. Its in English and the Pope speaks three languages Spanish, Italian and Engligh. For once Congress was silent as he spoke for roughly an hour. Pope Francis makes history as the first pope to address both houses. Vice President Joe Biden looks like he is going to cry in the background but doesn't. The Pope's speeches so far have focused on climate change, the poor in society, migration and human compassion.

A Pope in New York

In case you miss it. Here is the Pope's UN Speech today at the UN HQ in New York from this afternoon. No doubt many of the UN members were equally excited about the visit and just being able to see the Pope live. Many ordinary people also got to catch a glimpse of the pope during his travels around New York even with the NYPD trying to hold people back. He also visited Ground Zero and handle mass near by praying for peace and calm.

Pope arriving at JFK Airport on the outskirts of New York to joyful New Yorkers

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Nepal's constitutional reform and post earthquake politics

Families living in outside in tents in the immediate aftermath of the April Earthquake. Photo by Naresh Newar from IRIN News.

Nepal is currently balancing Earthquake recovery which is taking longer than expected with the recent constitutional reforms that have outraged ordinary Nepalese. As Haitians have learned after a massive disaster, the Nepalese people are experiencing slow post disaster recovery and neglect both through indifference from the government and lack of international interest and unfulfilled aid promises. The Nepalese government for the last decade have been attempting to pass constitutional reforms that would split the landlocked mountainous country's provinces into 7 federal provinces. It is easier said than done. Federalizing and breaking up the provinces into multiple territories is unpopular among many Nepalese who come from ethnic minorities that have argued with the government over marginalization in economic and political representation, lack of infrastructure development, neglect in the post Earthquake recovery among many other justified complaints.

Nepalese citizens rallying and protesting on constitutional reforms

There are many Nepalese that are still struggling to provide a safe environment and a sense of normalcy for their families and many orphaned school children living in the provinces outside the capital Kathmandu. Hundreds of thousands of Nepalese migrant workers are currently in the Gulf countries ie Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia who are doing their best to aid their families back home with remittances. They have been ignoring the politics and focusing on finances. Qatari authorities barred some workers from returning home to return post Earthquake funerals and memorials. Nevertheless, the post recovery coupled with the ongoing protests against constitutional reform has placed Nepal back in the spotlight. Nepalese ethnic minorities do not want to continue to be ignored or overlooked by the national government any longer. They have been calling attention to the government to look at the political and social problems of all Nepalese and think beyond the post recovery efforts.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

People's Pope in Cuba and the United States

Pope Francis in Cuba: The whole three day visit

Pope Francis or the People's Pope, is back in the Americas again this time making special pit stops in Cuba and the United States for the first time. Forget what the historians and analysts say about Cuban government and religious figures not mixing. The Cuban people were most enthusiastic and excited to meet the Pope. Other neighbors both religious and secularists from Argentina (Pope Francis' home country), Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela and neighboring countries ran to Cuba to meet the Pope. Francis had visited Brazil, Ecuador but has yet to make a quick appearance home. He is one of the few recent Popes other than the late Pope John II to reach rock star status and draw in hundreds of thousands of people. When Pope Francis who is now landing in the US completed his trip in Cuba he stopped in Havana, Holguin and Santiago. Ordinary Cubans and international travelers came in the hundreds to greet and meet him, sing songs, tell him their concerns and he held mass and prayed over 200,000 people gathered in Revolution Square for peace, reconciliation and a brighter future. He even took the time to meet with both Castro Brothers mainly with Raul and than a brief visit to meet Fidel at home with his children and grandchildren present as well. These are the reasons why Pope Francis can draw hundreds of thousands and even millions of crowds to him. As though he is the personified second coming. He tries to listen and hear from everyone even people that are ostracized, condemned and infamous political leaders.

Blessing the City of Holguin, Cuba

Pope meets Fidel Castro and Havana Mass

As for the U.S. with all its problems, Americans are looking forward to meeting the Pope for his first visit in the United States. Its not an accident, the Pope visited Cuba first. He was influential and not the only instrumental person in the rapprochement between the Cuban and American governments. The Pope will be stopping in Washington DC first to meet with the President, bickering politicians and address Congress. Hopefully the congressmen and women will keep quiet and listen to what the Pope has to say about the country and world affairs. Federal workers have been required to work from home to avoid traffic and delays. Than its off to New York City to St. Patrick's Cathedral and a parade in Manhattan possibly. NYC is preparing and anticipating every scenario imaginable to make sure the Pope's visit is peaceful and calm. The Pope's journey through Cuba was relaxed and no incidents was reported. Do except ordinary Americans (religious, secular and pilgrims) to walk miles to see the Pope and the more uncontrollably joyful people to trip over themselves, hang out windows, maybe climb cars and stand on other people's shoulders to get a glimpse of the Pope in DC and New York. The U.S. media will be covering the visit as well the world press who are just as eager to see how the visit will go down after the successful Cuba visit.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Ahmed Mohammad the boy engineer with the clock

American presidents and scientists have lamented over the years that American students are falling behind in science, math and technology. President Obama emphasizes this on education and technology. The STEM program is pushing to encourage high school students and even babies to consider science and technology as a major and a top priority in their education. Once upon a time, the United States led the world in space exploration and engineering. NASA is still regarded as one of the best space agencies in the world. However its no longer the only agency exploring the universe. NASA and space technology relies heavily on a team of engineers, technicians, physicists, etc to keep its programs and ideas growing.

Engineers are greatly important to many technological advancements and in everyday life. Alongside the mathematicians, engineers have made sure that mistakes are as minimal as possible with every product big and small that's produced. Ahmed Mohammad, the 14 year old Sudanese American from Irving, TX wants to be an engineer. He is follow in the footsteps of the adult engineers who work day and night to create their own homemade products and prototypes. In his case, Ahmed built a homemade clock and carried it in a plastic suitcase. Anyone who has built clocks or fixed jewelry knows that both materials' extra pieces require a toolkit or carrying case to keep everything safe. Ahmed was following the same rule of thumb. He was so excited to show his new creation to his teacher and class for the class' show and tell. His parents are certainly proud. His teacher surprised him not with elation but mistook Ahmad's clock for a bomb. To add insult to injury he was handcuffed in front of his classmates and held by police to the shock of his parents and the nation. There have been random bomb threats made against a lot of schools in the past across the United States. Students know the consequences of carrying any weapons or a faux explosives to school. No school kid would even think of carrying a disgusted weapon to their campuses. However, a teacher or any school staff that works with engineering students should be able to tell the difference between a homemade clock, an explosive or carrying case. Ahmed and his parents are trying to understand why he went through the ordeal of being arrested by the police and accused of making a bomb. The fact that Ahmed and his parents are Sudanese American Muslims is not being overlooked by anyone. In spite of the fear, President Obama came to the defense of Ahmed calling his clock cool and saying America needed more engineers. Ahmed's local community also came to his defense and his parents remain proud of their engineering son. He was recently made the VIP at a local Google Science Fair. Sadly, there has been backlashed against the poor kid. Sarah Palin . Time Magazine called Obama's support for Ahmed hypocritical. The famed evolutionary biologist Richard Darwkins question Ahmed's motives for building the clock.

Ahmed Mohammad speaks about his arrest and clock 

A steady diet of Islamophobia and propaganda

The media has exceed its success in terrifying the wider world with Islamic terrorism. No other religion gets tied to terrorism and violence as Islam does. Even the Prophet Mohammad is accused of terrorism in absentia. Since 2001, the anti terrorism laws, Patriot Act and islamophobic dragnet of fear has condemned African and African American Muslims (one of the oldest and indigenous American Muslim groups in the U.S.) to collective punishment: FBI surveillance, questioning and racial profiling as well as guilt for terrorist acts by the small, extreme Wahhabi groups. In movies and culture, the public is continuously fed the mantra that Islam or Muslims are out to get us and bring about the end of Western Civilization. Never mind the fact that the Islamic golden age contributed to the renaissance and helped get Europe out of its dark ages when the majority of Medieval Africa and Asia were literate and center of learning in the world. Yes, "they can't be trusted" or "Islam is a backward religion." as the Christian fundamentalists, even secular right wing and moderates declare to the public. No amount of explanation and historical writings arguing the contrary will convince some people that Islam and Muslims are generally peaceful and it is individual interpretation by ISIS and takfiris that punishes everyone.

Sudan background

Sudan is an African country bordering Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan in North eastern Africa. For years Sudan was Africa's largest country until South Sudan gained independence from Northern Sudan in 2011 becoming the newest country in the world and Africa's 54th. The South Sudanese had decades long complaints of marginalization and purposely driven failure to develop infrastructure, brutal racism via military bombings and wars by the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Sudanese Arabs in Khartoum and around the country suffer from an identity crisis that drives the war first between South Sudan and now the Blue Nile, Abyei and Darfur. The Sudanese want to be seen as solely Arab but Sudanese history, culture and Arabic language ties them to rest of Africa like Egypt. As a matter of fact, Sudan and Egypt used to be one country. The North Sudanese are the descendants of Nubians (who are also Sudanese and Egyptian), Ancient Egyptians and Kushites. 

Dia de la furia en Palestina Ocupada

Los ninos, mujeres y hombres palestinos protesta contra el castigo collectivo y la ocupacion israeli en Jerusalen Est Ocupado. Los signos en arabe, hebreo y ingles para la gente y lideres trilingues. 

Los palestinos está protestando en Jerusalén Este, Gaza y la Cisjordania ocupadas contra el cierre de la mezquita Al Aqsa por las fuerza defensivas Israelís. Hace tres días, choques entre palestinos e israelís lo ocurrieron en los pueblos y ciudades. No es una sorpresa que la furia de los palestinos han crecido sobre la insolación de la pared apartheid y la política israelí lo que hecho la vida palestina miserable. Aun, hay restricciones contra hombres palestinos y niños tienen 8 a 50 años. Si los quieren a visitar la Al Aqsa por Ramadán, navidad o ferias palestinas como el día de la tierra (Land Day), los israelís negarles de la entrada. Según la gobernación israelí, la seguridad nacional es más importante que al movimiento de la libertad de palestinos. Especialmente cuando israelís creen que amenazan con manifestaciones de la libertad y dignidad. El medio israelí ha estereotipado a palestinos como terroristas (terroristas penúltimos del mundo), provocan desconfianza, ladrones, corruptos y no compañeros de paz. Los palestinos no confían líderes israelíes también. Ya algunas personas no entienden que al conflicto no es antiguo o igual. Hay muchas injustas contra la gente palestina. El castigo colectivo destruyó casas palestinas y olivares desde 1967.  Las naciones unidas ha publicada un reportaje que avisan a la Franja de Gaza "no sería habitable por el año 2020". Desde 2005, cuando el bloqueo de Gaza empezó, la franja ha bombardeado por Israel lo que llevado a la destrucción de más que 2000 de casas, escuelas, tierras agrícolas palestinas. Hay están 105,000 palestinos sin hogar. Gaza tiene el agua más contaminada en el mundo. La mayoría del agua potable no es seguro para las familias palestinas. Israel insiste que no enfoca de la infraestructura civil en Gaza durante las guerras contra Hamas del anos 2011-2014. En Cisjordania, Netanyahu siguen a construir mas colonias israelís ilegales. Los palestinos líderes avisan que la tercera intifada está atrasada. Puestos de control quedan en pueblos y ciudades atreves de Cisjordania. A menudo, las fuerzas defensivas israelíes declaran las ciudades de Belén, Hebrón, Tulkaram y Jericó ser zonas militares cerradas. No es una sorpresa que jóvenes palestinos echan pierdas a soldados israelíes en tierras ocupadas. La mayoría de palestinos no creen que la propuesta de dos estados solucionara al conflicto desigual. 

Una mujer palestina habla con una policia israeli armada

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Gulf countries not taking in refugees

Doha, Qatar at night. One of the wealthiest countries in the world are apprehensive to help their war torn neighbors by hosting refugees or providing a haven for asylum seekers.

While Lebanon is trying to keep its calm as it hosts 1 million Syrian refugees and Turkey hosts another million and Syria is now home to 12 million IDPs, the wealthy Gulf Countries have done nothing to help their Syrian neighbors. Jordan has made the effort to host Palestinian, Iraqis and Syrians. However, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have made it near impossible for Syrian refugees to seek refuge in their respective countries. There are Palestinians who are descendants of refugees living in the gulf countries but they are businessmen and well off. Same goes for Iraqis. The ongoing refugee crisis and social destruction in Syria and by extension of Iraq, hasn't received widespread sympathy from the Gulf governments at the same level as Serbia or Germany. Even the UAE and Oman hasn't offered to take in Syrians or other refugees. The gulf countries have provided financial assistance in the billions to refugee camps and aid for basic services and goods not provided in the UN camps. The Gulf countries do get honorable mentions for the generous aid grants, humanitarian NGOs and educational and social investments that have been made in poorer neighboring countries such as Yemen, Oman, occupied Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya among other places. Nevertheless, its not to say that the GCC has money to throw at every problem or bleed dinars.

Plight of migrant workers in Qatar Inside Story Al Jazeera

When migrants are the majority population

The Gulf have their own reasons for not opening their borders to hundreds of thousands of refugee families even if they come from their backyard. From Kuwait to Oman, governments have long been nervous around having even a large foreign workers in their respective countries since the local Kuwaiti and Qatari populations are tiny and often feel like minorities with 1 to 2 million migrant workers making up the majority of the Gulf states' growing population. In the same countries including the Emirates, foreign population makes up nearly 80% of the population. In countries used to immigration, the number wouldn't make many flinch but for the gulf monarchies its unsettling. Compared to Turkey or Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait heavily relies on foreign workers to keep their economies, financial institutions and high standard of living in the region turning. Since 2006 Global Financial Crisis, the Gulf states have recovered from the recession and are hurriedly building new and futuristic cities and infrastructure to showcase to the world the Khaleeji people's regional might and cultural architecture greatness. The world knows the story of the slave like conditions facing hundreds of thousands of migrant workers (both men and women) in Qatar, Emirates, Kuwait. The irony is the migrants can't be deported in mass to their countries of origins after the infrastructural and economic contributions they have made for over a decade in turning Doha, Kuwaiti City, Dubai and Abu Dhabi into global cities in the literal sense and economic powerhouses that function more like city states a la Singapore than solely national capitals. Qatar has started long overdue labor reforms to begin complying with international labor laws. Yet, the Qatari government is slow to react to refugee families seeking refuge outside their home country. Eventually, the out of sigh out mind attitude of the Gulf monarchies or governments to the pain of Syrian, Afghan, Eritrean refugees will come back to hit the monarchies hard.

Qatar's Influences in Syria, Libya and Egypt

Unneighborly actions in Syria, Libya

Beyond the glittering cities and infrastructure of the Gulf countries and far from the petroleum dependent economic powerhouses, Qatar and indirectly the UAE government have been involved in less neighborly dealings in Libya and Syria. Through the war and destruction in Libya, Qatar has provided local Libyan takfiri groups, ISIS and Al Qaeda in Libya with materials and financial backings in their quest to bring the Saudi based wahhabi interpretation of Islam to the war torn countries. Qatar remains involved in Libya's destruction, turning a blind eye to ISIS killings and massacres in Sirte against Copts and Eritrean countries. Being an Islamic state itself minus the extreme forms of Wahhabism, the Qatari government sees no contradiction in indirectly working with ISIS or its cousins to overthrow secular governments. Many people forget that most governments in Africa and Middle East are secular and normally use religion as a nationalist fervor. Gadhaffi had fought against Al Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fight Group long before the War on Terror when the world's focus was still on what to do about post communist Russia. He rightly predicted the current destruction in Libya. He also warned Europe about the current migrant crisis saying that "Europe will become Black" if it doesn't aid Libya in its fight against illegal migration. Now that Gadhaffi's gone, everyone has woken up to the fact that the prophecies were not bluffs but the truth.

Syria was once regarded as the safest countries in the Middle East even while its neighbors were and are still on fire. Anyone could've visited Syria prior to 2011 and be surprised by its peace. The future has yet to say what would happen to Syria if Bashir Assad who has yet to die is overthrown or captured in the same manner as Gadhaffi. The Syrian government and Assad have made it clear from the beginning that they are against ISIS and its cousins, al Nusra, Al Qaeda in Iraq and other Wahhabi groups back Saudi Arabia via fighters. Qatar has provided financial support and training to the Syrian rebels fighting across the country from village to city to town. Contrary to media's equating dictators to terrorists, Assad is not aligned with ISIS's own extreme religious ideology. Neither is the Iranian government who despite having gave birth to the first Islamic state in the region is quite lenient when comes to ordinary Iranian's daily lives and even critiques against the government. It's peculiar how both Libya and Syria's people led protests as part of the 2011 Arab or revolutions transformed into full blown wars led by secular rebels turned Wahhabi fanatics. The other countries involved in 2011 Arab or People's revolutions Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, Oman didn't end with full blown civil wars. Algeria and Oman's revolutions fizzled right before it begun and Bahrain and Egypt are both under hated military juntas like Thailand.

Israel has been itching to see Assad leave office no matter the consequences. There is an old defense plan "Yinon Plan" that seeks to keep Israel secure by creating chaos in neighboring countries by proxies and have Arabs and Kurds fighting each other while Israel remains the regional power to the chagrin of the rest of the region. This is not conspiracy theory when you look back at how the policy of proxies wars used during the Cold War. The US/UK support for proxy rebel groups such as mujaheddin in Afghanistan and anti communist and later pro Wahhabi forces fighting in Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The same happened in many African countries and infamously in Latin America. Israel has been known to play political forces inside Lebanon and in Occupied Palestine against one another for its benefits. Israeli Defense Forces quietly bombed Syria earlier last year before retreating when word of their bombing was brought to the world's attention.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Generation Standstill Syrian Refugee life in Lebanon

Generation Standstill: Documentary from RT

To understand the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, it is crucial to understand the life of Syrian refugees living both legally in abandoned houses, apartments and in camps in Lebanon. Generation Standstill lets Syrian refugee children to speak for themselves and tell the story of their harsh life forced upon them by a choatic adult world. Must watch 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Mother Nature's terrorism floods in Japan and fires in USA

Mother Nature and her malcontents have been creating hell on Earth for the past five months. Japan, known for its technology, calmness and cultural beauty is now experience another ocean tragedy involving the Reign of Fire. Some 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in small towns North of Tokyo following the worst flood disaster in nearly a century. Like Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, many residents mostly elderly were left stranded on their rooftops as they flagged down the Japanese Army for rescue. The flood's currents were so powerful that whole houses were yanked off their foundations and carried straight into the Pacific Ocean. Mother Nature seems to torment the Japanese with natural disasters. From fires to nuclear destruction and now floods and the ancient oceanic threat Tsunamis, the Japanese people have bounced back from nature's onslaught.

California Wildfire

The USA too has experienced Mother Nature's wrath on multiple occasions. The natural disasters occurring in the country seem to follow the four elements of Earth, wind, fire and water. The Midwest United States is famous for its tornado and twisters while the Gulf states (not be confused with Persian Gulf States) often battle hurricanes and grow anxious over the hurricane threat. The Caribbean has absorbed many of the heavier and brutal hurricanes before they reach the United States mainland. The aftershocks often taking lives. In the Western United State, California has been battling wild fires in the hills and forests of Northern and Southern California. Fires have always been part of California's history alongside earthquakes. It was a massive firestorm that leveled and nearly wiped San Francisco off the face of the Earth in 1906 following the infamous Earthquake. Los Angeles has been loosing its forest for several years due to fires that are blamed on lone arsonists or climate change. The state is also arid and might be facing desertification as result of the drought which feeds the fires consuming the small towns in Butte counties, around the Sierra Nevada and the outer areas of the Sacramento metro area. Half of the tiny town of Middleton, CA has been destroyed in the ongoing fire. The local fire fighters can't rely on the rain to aid them as they have in the past. To add insult to injury, flash floods wrecked havoc on parts of Los Angeles, Utah and Arizona to shock of many local people. The more religious minded and orientated Americans see the climate change disasters as the End Times or revelations come to life.

Firey inferno: Middletown, CA burned down and nearly disappeared from the Earth

Driv tour of the aftermath of devastating fire

Climate Change was foretold and its effecting middle and poor people

Climate refugees will become common in the near future if natural disasters of magnetic size continue.

For over 50 years climate scientists and environmentalists had warned about the consequence of irreversible environmental destruction and Earth's growing difficulty to regenerate the acres of land and depleted water resources have been consumed. A lot of the destruction is not exhaustive. it has been brought on by the wealthier countries unsustainable consumption and materialism, urban careless use of fossil fuels, the need to find new resources under vulnerable land, dumping ewaste in African countries, draining natural resources from Africa and most of the global south, China's rapid industrialization. Than blaming all the CO2 emissions and reduce underground aquifers on population growth in the developing world. Keep in mind that not everyone in the Global South has instant access to needed drinking water or decent infrastructure. Yes many African and Latin American countries have middle classes but they are small compared to the millions who are fighting against poverty and government corruption and red tape that keeps many people in poverty. The same goes for the wealthy Global North there millions of poor people in United States, Canada, Japan and yes Europe but the poverty is hidden or treated as a source of shame to be overlooked. The politicians, media pundits and wealthy snob their noses at the poor claiming that "they don't look so poor" compared to other countries. It is often the poor and middle class who are battling both climate change, environmental destruction and environmental racism. Earth is trying to its best repair itself. It has not been able to save half its wildlife who have disappeared over the last 40 years. Climate change refugees and a possible war over water will no longer be the issue of science fiction.

End of a border free Europe?

Fin de Schengen? Estados miembros reanudan los controles fronterizos RT Noticias Espanol

Since the Schengen Agreement came into affect in the 1985, Europe or the EU member states have been recognized worldwide for its hassle free travel across most of Europe. It was the dream of many architects of the European Economic Community, the precursor of the EU, to not only create an integrated common market across Europe but also make the freedom of movement a right of passage perhaps in response to the hated Cold War border guards along the Iron Curtain.  Millions of tourists have enjoyed the borderless travel around Europe for years.

Many more economic unions in Africa ie ECOWAS or COdesa and Latin America with its Mercosur or ALBA have looked at the Schengen Agreement as a jumping off point for a possible visa free, people and transport movements with minimum border bureaucracy. The flow of trade and goods without border checks breathing down their necks has been a dream for many regions. Yet delays remain as debates, hesitations and lack of full regional agreement continue to stall any freedom of movement policy in Africa or Latin America. Both regions are currently in the process of integrating their multiple regional economies into economic unions that are independent and do not rely on foreign aid or the tutelage of Western government and financial institutions. The multinational corporations are not happy about the self sufficient and economic independence part. China and Russia have been pushing a Silk Road inspired economic union in Central Asia with both countries playing an influential and regional role in their backyards. The United States and Europe are slightly annoyed by the success of joint Russian-China economic union partnerships and both countries popularity in Central Asia and the Middle East. If all goes well, perhaps Central Asia will see a border free in terms of economic trade and transportation.

Closed borders and journeying through the old Yugoslavia minus Bosnia

For all the preaching about freedom of movement, hassle free economic trade, Hungary, Denmark, France, Germany and Netherlands have begun to put their border checks back in place. The Hungarian PM Viktor Obran was not exaggerating when he said that any migrant or refugee no matter if its a family or an individual person would face the immediate effects of the law. They will be turned back at the now fortified, barbwire fence at the unofficial border crossings that the migrants have been using. Any migrant who does manage to get through the border fence and the Hungarian police barricade will face 3 years of imprisonment possibly without trial. Migrants have begun clashing with Hungarian border police at the Hungarian-Serbian border as of today. Serbian police have also been sent to control the situation and perhaps calm their neighbors. The Hungarian government today announced that the border with Serbia will be closed for the next 30 days or for one month. The PM Obran and his government insist that it is for national security and earlier even tried to equate the border closure with protecting Hungary's Christian identity. Now some 6000 Syrian migrants and other nationals from families to elderly are rerouting their continous travel to Croatia an EU member. The Croatian government will allow the migrants to travel through the country. Serbia is not an EU member but the country has been talks for a decade to join the EU. Croatia borders  Slovenia and Bosnia.

Bosnia surprisingly has been mute on the migrant crisis. Bosnia is still recovering from its own brutal civil war 2 decades ago. Its the only country in the world to have three current presidents ruling the country which doesn't help to address the issue of identity crisis and reconciliation between the three ethnic groups who were once neighbors, coexisted and intermarried one another. Thirty years ago it would've been impossible to imagine the choas that would grow in Bosnia in the early 1990s. While Serbia fully understands and emphasizes with migrants from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, know that the refugees aren't planning to stay and allowed them to pass through the country towards Hungary, Bosnia hasn't comment on the crisis happening right around the corner and next door. An upcoming West Balkan Summit will be overshadowed by the migrant crisis.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Refuge at last: Migration quotas and responses

It took the unforgiving death of a Kurdish toddler to get European governments to reconsider resettling the thousands of refugees coming from Turkey and the Mediterranean. When the photo of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi coincidentally fleeing with his family from Kobane was beamed around the world it served as an epiphany for many Western governments. For years, the deaths of Syrian, Kurdish children were only seen from a distance and as the cold military term "collateral damage" and not as children who are human. The EU Foreign Policy minister Mogherini tried to argue that the photo of Aylan was emotional blackmail and was later condemned for his comment by local citizens. The kind response and help that ordinary EU citizens have been showing to arriving migrant families and refugees in Germany, Italy and now Scandinavia has equally put their respective governments to shame. Iceland, as small as it is has also step up with Icelanders offering to open their homes to host thousands of Syrian refugees. The idea was proposed to the Icelandic government by ordinary citizens not vice versea.

Australia migrant policy and quotas

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced to Parliament that Britain could absorb 20,000 refugees over a two year period. France also followed saying it could take in 25K refugees over five years. Brazil has also hinted that it would be able to take taken in Syrian refugees out of compassion and solidarity. Several years ago, Chile granted resettlement to some 300,000 Palestinians joining some 200K Palestinian Chilenos. Australian PM Tony Abbot has announced the country will taken in 12,000 Syrian refugees emphasizing Syrian minorities would be priority. Despite his government's refusal to taken migrants and asylum seekers dubbed the "boat people" from neighboring Malaysia, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years. Migrants and refugees from Indonesian archipelago and Afghanistan have been seeking asylum in Australia for over a decade. There are hundreds of thousands of Australians of immigrant background currently living in the country who are part of the migrant success story. Anti migrant sentiment and the popularity of right wing pundits and politicians including parliamentarians is no different from Europe and United States. Nevertheless, Australians (both left, moderate and conservative and apolitical) have been protesting against Australia's strict migration policy that discourages asylum seekers from landing in Australia or processing their claims there. Many irregular migrants/asylum seekers are often detained in Papua New Guinea or Naaru. Although PNG is an independent country and has its own government policy on migration, Australia acts as a bully big brother to twist the arm of the PNG government into turning a blind eye to the gruesome conditions at the detention centers for the migrant/asylum. Human Rights groups have condemned Australia for its excessive use of force on detained refugees and asylum seekers. In addition to detention, Australian government has also paid human smugglers and third countries ie Cambodia and PNG to resettle the migrants there and keep them out of the land down under. Australia's migration policy and approach has been studied and debated in Europe as a possible model to handling the migrant flow.

Canada's Response to the Refugee Crisis in Europe

Canada and the United States have also been following the migrant crisis in Europe. Both governments have been quiet on whether or not to accept Syrian refugees. Both countries resettle over forty thousand refugees, asylum seekers and migrants annually without help from the UN or IOM. Canadian parliament has been discussing the direction Canada should take to help Syrian refugees if the time comes. Aylan Kurdi's family were attempting to seek asylum in Canada when tragedy struck. Since the revelation, Canada has been deeply disturbed by the plight of Syrian refugees. Canadian human rights organizations and citizens have been reminding Canadians that not only is Canada a nation of immigrants but that the country has a duty to set the example to help people in need if they live half way across the world.

Germany's refugee background hits close to home

It is Germany that has surprised the world with its compassionate response by allowing tens of thousands refugees and migrants to come in. The Germans are expecting some 800,000 migrants this year alone and will continue to prepare for a large number of refugees. Remember that Germany has also been taking in refugees and asylum seekers from the Balkans, Turkey, Afghanistan and other countries even before the current war in Syria, Libya and Iraq. What is often overlook when talking about refugee resettlement in Germany is that Germans themselves were once the most persecuted and chased refugees 70 years ago. In the aftermath of World War II, some 2 million Germans were forced and chased out of various European countries they had lived and settled in for centuries and were encouraged to move to war torn Germany. All Germans were labeled as Nazis by default even Germans who had lived outside Germany in places like Poland and Czech Republic all their lives. For the old Germans who remember the immediate aftermath of World War II and the large mass migration of Germans and millions of other Europeans back to their countries, this new wave of Syrians looks too familiar. Everyone is well aware that resettling 800,000 or even 1 million migrants will not be an easy task. The German people and government are accepting the challenge. On an economic note, migrants could aid in keeping the German economy afloat as current demographics shows the country has a labor shortage gap and has far more pensioners than young folks. In short, Germany and the rest of Europe need migrants in terms of socioeconomic development. Europe will need to rethink the long standing view that Europe is homogeneous continent (culturally and ethnically) and migrants can't coexist with local Europeans. As the British and French governments are slowly coming to the realization that their citizens of migrant backgrounds have added new ideas, diversity and are successfully integrated for the most part into society. If given the chance, the Syrians, Afghans, Eritreans and other peoples will interrogate and adjust to host countries.

CCTV the Heat Migrant Crisis Part 3 

From multiethnic states to homogeneous countries and back again

Many European countries that were once diverse became mono ethnic and cultural as a result of the Nazi regime's occupation and war. Exception being France and Britain in the later part of the 20th century. This is why the cliched comparison to World War II keeps coming up. The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey also set the tone for nationalist belief that homogeneous states can create national peace and unity that governments have long sought for their societies. Migration is once again making homogeneous countries in Europe diverse regardless of the right wing arguments against it. Migration and war has a way of reminding the world that one person's pain and journey is everyone's issue. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Vijay Prashad Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe

The article below originally written by Vijay Prashad examines the continual migration crisis in Europe through the prism of migrant children such as Aylan Kurdi who are caught up in the consequences of regime change in the Middle East/Africa as part of an uneven Foreign Policy by Western countries. It laments the fact that civilians have to pay the high price for deadly regime change and overthrow of governments through local revolutions or coalition bombings. Such violence has left many children and their families in refugee camps, as stateless people and migrating half way around the world to Europe or other places for safety. Migration in turn provides a sort of karmic justice for refugees arriving at the shores of fortress Europe. The article was first published on CounterPunch and reposted on Pambazuka. Vijay Prashad is a professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. He served as the Edward Said Chair at the American University in Beirut. He is also an author, commentator and historian on South Asia and Middle East as well as economics. His most well known books are The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and Uncle Swami. Enjoy the read.

By Vijay Prashad
Terrible pictures arrive onto social media of refugees from Syria and elsewhere, washed up on the shores of Europe. One in particular is particularly ghastly – the body of young Aylan Kurdi. He was only three. He was from the Syrian town of Kobane, now made famous as the frontline of the battle between ISIS and the Kurdish militias (largely the YPG and PKK). Aylan Kurdi’s body lay in a fetal position. Few dry eyes could turn away from that photograph.
The Jordanian cartoonist Rafat Alkhateeb drew an image of Aylan Kurdi. The infant’s body lies on the other side of a barbed wire fence that separates him from the continents of the world.

Cartoon by Rafat Alkhateeb. Published by Cartoon Movement
Children like Aylan Kurdi are disposable in the world’s imagination. Untold thousands of Syrian children have died in this conflict. Tens of thousands of children die in conflicts around the world. The United Nations estimates that half of all deaths in conflict zones are of children. In 1995, UNICEF reported that two million children had died in conflicts over the previous decade. The rate has not decreased. The statistic harms the consciousness. But it is the picture of Aylan Kurdi that has unsettled our ethics – does the world really care about the damage done to children as a result of war and diabolical trade policies? The evidence suggests that the world does not care at all. What care there is comes in the brief instance when we glance at a photograph such as that of the dead body of Aylan Kurdi. He breaks our heart. But he will do little to change our politics.
The West believes that it is acceptable for it to intervene to influence the political economy of the Third World – to force IMF-driven “reforms” on these states. Capital is allowed be borderless. That freedom does not apply to labour – to people. Migration is forbidden. It is hateful. Racist ideas allow fortresses to be built against the natural movement of people. Barbed wire fences and concentration camp towers outline the US-Mexico border, just as such fences and the Mediterranean Moat block the passage into Europe. If Capital destroys the society here, its people cannot be allowed to migrate there.
The West believes that it is acceptable for it to overthrow governments and bomb its enemies in the lands of the Third World. It sees this as the limit of its humanitarianism. It calls this humanitarian interventionism or, in the language of the UN, “responsibility to protect” (R2P). When it breaks states, as it did in Libya, the West takes no responsibility for the broken lives of the people in those zones. Bombs are borderless. But war refugees must stand in queues and be held in concentration camps. They are not allowed freedom of movement.
Hypocrisy is central to elite Western ethics. It uses words like “freedom” and “equality” but mostly means its opposite. The freedom of human beings and equality between human beings is not relevant. More important is the freedom of Money. It is Money that cannot have its liberty impinged.
Both Europe and the United States want to build walls to prevent the free movement of people. The Statue of Liberty in New York harbor bears the words, “Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This is Emma Lazarus’ poem from 1883. No longer do these words make sense. There is no exhortation to send the tired, the poor, the huddled masses to safety. There is mostly the State-led jingoism that sets up barriers and threatens deportations. The more appropriate song is by Woody Guthrie, Deportee, from 1961: “They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves. We died in your hills, we died in your deserts, we died in your valleys and died on your plains.” He would have added, we died on your shores.
Such toxic lineages are not alone. There is also the people’s ethics – banners in Germany unfurled at football games to welcome refugees, convoys of ordinary British nations to Calais (France) to help feed and clothe the refugees, demonstrations of radical internationalists in Eastern Europe against the neo-fascists and the racists. There are also, in the United States, the Dream Defenders and United We Dream who fight for undocumented residents, who formed part of the massive pro-immigrant rallies that have now adopted May Day as their day. These indications of the good side of history are often ignored by the press, which has a tendency to hype up the bad side to boost ratings. Such gestures of solidarity tell us what is possible in the West.
Aylan Kurdi is dead. Many other Aylan Kurdis remain. Our outrage at this callous death should drive us deeper into a politics that calls for a drawdown of the violence in Syria and for a serious peace process in Libya, that forces us to be resolute in our fight against IMF and NATO destruction of societies and states. In essence, this is a call for a resolute anti-imperialism. Imperialism, after all, is extra-economic force such as war or the unequal drafting of trade rules to allow a small capitalist minority to sequester the largest share of globally produced social wealth. Refugees such as Aylan Kurdis are “climate change refugees,” “regime change refugees” and “IMF refugees.”
The West’s managers will only talk about tragedies and security. For them people are migrants and deportees, those whose mobility must be constrained. This is a limited imagination. They will not want to talk about the causes of the problem – the wars and economic policies that throw millions of people into the status of refugee. That is our job. In the name of Aylan Kurdi.
This essay appears in BirGünGanashakti and CounterPunch.