Sudanese Intransigence, Unabated Genocide, UN Impotence, and American Silence

A beacon of human rights in the world, obviously I am talking about the Islamic Republic of Sudan, which has arrested a mild-mannered British schoolteacher, Ms. Gillian Gibbons. Her blasphemous sin was that she created a class exercise in which young children came up with a favorite name for a teddy bear. Collectively everyone came up with the name Mohammed. Viola! Wow! You have seriously committed a sin. Because, you see god needs to be protected by us human beings. The Sudanese government pounced on this hapless schoolteacher and charged her with defaming the prophet and inciting religious hatred. She now faces 6 months jail sentence, 40 lashes, and a substantial fine.

Now, this bizarre move is particularly concerning when the Sudanese are demonstrating extraordinary intransigence in allowing the United Nations Security Council sanctioned 26,000 peacekeepers into Darfur to prevent the further extermination of the Fur people and other non-Arab minorities. Sudan has already eliminated Scandinavian countries, particularly Netherlands from the list, for their role in publishing the high controversial cartoons depicting Islam in a poor light. The various efforts made by Sudan to block the non-African countries from actively participating the peace mission is a complete reversal of the agreement that Sudan made with the UN Secretary-General earlier this year.

Obviously, Sudan is making every effort to block the scheduled start of the UN Peacekeeping on Jan 1, 2008. Maybe they can wipe out few thousand more in the interim.

It is really galling about the whole thing is that the United States and the United Nations are dancing to the highly unpredictable beats of the Sudanese government; they are dilly-dallying by making vacuous and empty threats. Where are the F-16s, F-18s, and F-22s when we need them most? What Sudan badly needs is some serious Shock and Awe or a kick in the shins. Unfortunately, gutless Washington politicians seem to be stuck in Groundhog Day mentality and the toothless UN does not have the moral courage or the necessary authority to stop the ongoing genocide.

And for the record, the United States official deemed what is happening in Sudan as “Acts of Genocide,” according to the statement made by US President on Sept. 9th, 2004.

Is Europe a Country?

Is Europe a country and what is the difference between Hungry and Hungary?  Watch and learn, my friends.

 

Homer’s Odyssey-Outsourcing to India

Here is a great episode from the Simpsons about Outsourcing to India and how one set of norms can spread or reach another part of the world. The norms I am referring is to is cubicle norms or norms of labor ethics as identified in the UN Convention on Economic and Social Rights. Also watch out for some delicious rips American ignorance and Indian arrogance and various other cultural references, such as Homer transforming himself into a sort of Colonel Kurtz.

  

Apocalypse of Unending African Wars

I spent the last few days reading a lot of material on U.S intervention in foreign wars, humanitarian intervention, and genocide in different parts of the world. Presently, I am researching the unending conflict in the Horn of Africa; these conflicts are mostly between Ethiopia–Eritrea and Somalia–Ethiopia. Off course, Sudan, Djibouti, and Kenya are regional players in these conflicts wittingly or otherwise, and the complex array of militias or rebel groups make things that much more complex. We have to spend some separate time on Sudan because we are witnessing genocide in progress in the Darfur region in Western Sudan, and the world is sitting and watching the systematic extermination of ethnic Sudanese by the Arab majority.

Now returning to our focus on Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia are in one of the most famine and conflict prone regions in the world. The question before us is this: do militarized conflicts cause famine or does famine and drought lead to militarized conflict? This question is not trivial and it is not necessarily a chicken and egg problem. There are definite causal chains that produce wars, famines, and large-scale social destabilization. For instance, Somalia has been in near continuous state of conflict since the late 1980s and Ethiopia has experienced famines and drought of Biblical proportions.

I am not even going to pose the question is there hope for these countries, but instead ask how do we break the continual cycle of conflict, destabilization, and famines. Second, what should be the role of international relief and various UN agencies, and what role should the UN member nations play in intervening in these types of complex humanitarian crisis?  Something we will ponder in the remaining few weeks of this semester.

THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA–You are what you eat

Hope all of you are having a good day shopping your hearts away in some store. Anyway, after another brief respite, well not really a respite because I just finished my research paper and sent it out the editor for review, back to blogging and grading now.

Few days back in class we talked about ‘THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA,’ by MICHAEL POLLAN, I thought I should blog about it, but then I haven’t read the book and there are numerous reviews out there. So what I am going to do is post the links to Pollan’s book and let you read it for yourself.

Washington Post Review of ‘THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA

New York Times Review of ‘THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA

MICHAEL POLLAN’s Webpage

National Public Radio’s Podcast on Pollan’s Book

Well, the essence of Pollan’s book is about return to basics; focus more on locally grown organic food, and avoiding industrial and heavily processed foods, which is causing an epidemic of obesity.

Refrigerator Ownership and the Rise of the Supermarkets

Yesterday, we had an interesting discussion on Refrigerator Ownership and its relationship to bulk shopping in malls and grocery stores and daily shopping in small farmers markets in many developing countries. My argument was that increase in bulk shopping or weekly shopping is associated with globalization as well as increase in appliance sales in developing countries. For instance with the growth in appliance sales, particularly refrigerator ownership in developing nations, small farmer markets selling locally grown produce has been declining. This decline in locally grown produce is associated with increase in refrigerator ownership and use, which has not only increased electricity consumption, but also introduced the concept of mall shopping and large grocery supermarkets, a Western or rather American concept, which is rapidly over-taking developing states such as India and China. A new brand of refrigerator launched by the Korean firm Samsung is expected to rake in sales of 65 million dollars in India within the first year of launch.

For example, refrigerator ownership in Peru was about 10 percent, by the year 2020 it is expected to increase to 80 percent; similarly, in South Africa refrigerator ownership was below 10 percent, and it is expected to increase to 70 percent by the year 2020. This data is derived from a study done by Michael A. McNeil and Virginie E. Letschert of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. I have linked the article here; you can check it for yourself. As I pointed out in class, increase in refrigerator ownership seems to be correlated with the decline in traditional markets.

Nobel Economist Milton Friedman on the Logic of Capitalism

Few days back we had a discussion on this topic in our class. Many of you seemed shocked by my views of Communism or least it seemed that way to me. Nonetheless, here is the view of one of the most artful and effective defenders of the theory of individual choice.

Link via (India Uncut)