Sunday, September 30, 2007

Burma or Myanmar: That's not the question

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

In late August of this year the Myanmar (Burma) military government released a list of names of activists they wanted to apprehend. About the same time the US and UN voiced objections to the treatment of detained activists and the Myanmar government's treatment of protesters in general. The UN had asked for the activists to be released based on reports of torture and a hunger strike. During the same week the government closed the gathering that was intended to produce the country's constitution to be voted on by the public. The 40 year rule by the military government appears to be flexing their muscle by quieting public dissent and abandoning any attempts at reforms even if they are only symbolic in nature. The country has toyed with the idea of a constitution for 14 years.

The US State Department expressed the requisite displeasure with Myanmar's constitutional efforts characterizing them as a sham. The same day a rights group was demanding aid for a jailed activist whose was described as suffering a broken leg during arrest. The following day President Bush criticized Myanmar for their treatment of 'peaceful' protesters calling it 'inexcusable.' At this point in this narrative you may have the impression the protesters or activists plight was serious and international efforts to resolve the problems were not. You would be correct. And it continues.

During the first week of September 2007 monks in Myanmar continued their protest. This was met with a continued crackdown by the Myanmar government which was naturally followed by more verbal protests from various sources around the globe. Near the end of the week the Myanmar government released a wounded protester, sentenced six others to prison terms up to 28 years while the protests continued. The impressive response from the international community was for the US and Indonesia to urge China and India to pressure Myanmar to straighten things out.

The following week, mid-September, the United Nations issues a declaration on Indigenous Rights while the UN Human Rights chief, imagine this, expresses concern over human rights violations in the Congo, Iran and Burma. This former UN war crimes prosecutor is characterized as 'expressing dismay' of the Myanmar reactions to protesters as well as problems in other countries. The 47 member panel is going to review records of violations. Do any practical, timely and effective solutions ever come out of the United Nations? On their own, UN member countries display a disturbing habit of inaction, including the US. Perhaps an obligation of membership in the UN should require all countries to act in concert to halt outrageous events like those in Myanmar. Even with understandable obstacles to such action, if all member countries acted as one, a single member country would likely concede to adequate international pressure and at least cease further escalation until satisfactory solutions could be arranged. It is certainly worth a try and would be an improvement over lame expressions of disappointment.

Of course after the lame expressions of disappointment were delivered by the UN in mid-September, the Myanmar government was reported to urge the protesters to cease their activities against the 'junta' while the protesters asked for international intervention for their plight. By this time six weeks had expired since the Myanmar government had released the names of activists they wanted to collect.

By the third week of September the monks in Myanmar had stepped up protests and encouraged the public to join them in opposing the military. One report indicated 10,000 monks were involved in the marches in Rangoon. The government warned of retaliation and initiated curfews as the US increased sanctions against Myanmar.

By now most people are aware of the violence that followed in Myanmar in the past week. The exiled citizens providing reports and assistance with the flow of information in and out of Myanmar may have been temporarily inconvenienced by the government shutdown of internet access. Wireless communications may have allowed information to continue unimpeded. The most dramatic tragedy of the week was the slain reporter which was caught on video and freely displayed. In light of the escalation of violence more needed attention is drawn to the conflict. Not necessarily by coincidence, a UN representative has traveled to Myanmar to speak with both sides. How encouraging.

Whether you acknowledge the name Burma or Myanmar, that's not the question. How the international community handles their mission though the United Nations is. The source for this post was numerous reports from Voice of America who toether with the BBC was criticized by the Burma/Myanmar 'junta' government as propagandists. Reason enough to use them as a source.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A-mad-jihadist's speech to the UN

Blah blah blah, evil Zionists and imperialists, blah blah blah, class-warfare crap, blah blah blah, poor downtrodden Iran, blah blah blah, "imagine all the people living" under the love and peace of Islam when the Madi returns to earth. Woo hoo, woo hoo hoo......imagine.

Yeah right - get out the burkhas, strap bombs to your kids, cut out your women's clitorises and start piling up stones.

What a bunch of nonsense. Of course all the other aggrieved poor downtrodden barbarians in the UN will take it seriously.

I understand why the UN has become what it is. It is a way to defuse the barbarians' anger and resentment of the West; give the barbarians fancy titles and keep them talking so that they don't do anything worse. The problem is that the UN, like socialism, is a hypocritical leftist idea, a band-aid put on the suppurating sore of the barbarians' wealth and power envy. It hasn't worked. It won't work and it's time for all civilized people to stand up and call a spade an spade and tell the barbarians to go home and get their own houses in order before dictating to civilized people.

I'm not a white supremacist but I'm definitely a western civilization supremacist. It's time to send the UN packing and stop giving the barbarians an arena in which to vent their irrational grievances.

Posted by Patrick Joubert Conlon

Monday, September 24, 2007

The UN, GW and Abandoning Scrutiny

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

It is doubtful the United Nations ever misses an opportunity to work
the crowd and the media. If you are green or a tree hugger or a
charter member of PETA (another op for Alicia Silverstone to disrobe)
one can only suspect you are ecstatic over news of the UN Global
Warming Summit. The rest of us may not be so sure. Not
unlike the group of scientists who hold a different view of the issue
than is played relentlessly in the MSM.

17,200 Scientists Dispute Global Warming

Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny

World scientists meet on global warming

But many top scientists reject the new figures...

This post does not accept nor reject the idea of global warming.
But that is the whole point. While the global warming issue was
raised near a fever pitch in anticipation of the IPCC report on global
warming, the first question that should have entered your mind is who
the hell is the IPCC and what credentials do they have to support the
assumed credibility of their findings?

Many surprising supporters of the idea of man-made global warming are
very large corporations. Those announcements were followed by the
skeptics wondering what financial incentive they had to cause the
voluntary participation in fighting a demon on which we have too much
or too little information. Please withhold your criticism as it
should be repeated again, this post does not accept nor reject the
notion of global warming. But if one is the least bit skeptical
or cynical of mass approval or rejection of any idea, this would be a
good candidate for suspicious motives. For instance, if you have
been on the planet long enough to remember the push for alternative
fuels and energy conservation and other environmental issues from
thirty or more years ago, the lack of enthusiasm then and over
decades since should be sufficient to alert your radar. Something
may be wrong here.

Leaders Gather for UN Climate Change Meeting

By Phuong Tran
23 September 2007
Tran report (mp3) - Download 596kaudio clip
Listen to Tran report (mp3) audio clip

Heads of states from more than 80 countries are gathering in New York
City for what will be the largest U.N.-organized event for world
leaders on climate change. This is a preliminary meeting to work toward
a new international agreement on the issue. But scientists say places
like sub-Saharan Africa need more than just an agreement to really fix
the problem. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West and Central Africa
Bureau in Dakar.

The IPCC who provided the grand report on global warming earlier this
year that renewed the discussion and raised to that fever pitch is part
of the United Nations. How convenient is that? One of the
reports listed at the top of the page suggests not all the panel
members are scientists and those who voiced objection to the report
were deleted from the publication. While that assessment seems a
little over the top, the same sort of accusation in reverse was leveled
at the Bush Administration earlier this year. So who knows?
Again, that is the whole point. What do we really know?

If that question sounds absurd to you in light of recent developments
you may want to consider how absurd it would be to act on all the
recommendations if there are flaws in the data. Any undertaking
this massive and 'global' requires more scrutiny than everyday decision

Schwarzenegger, Gore add star power to climate meet

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
Mon Sep 24, 1:10 AM ET

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Vice President Al Gore
are set to join world leaders for a U.N. meeting on Monday aimed at
spurring global negotiations on how to cool a warming planet.

Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder and movie star who has pushed for
environmental reforms in California, acknowledged that rich and poor
countries have differing responsibilities when it comes to global
warming, but said it is time to stop the blame game.

The report above certainly does not help. Part of the problem is
when those with celebrity status fail to measure the undo influence of
their public positions on critical issues. To take an absolute position
rejecting any alternative viewpoints is dangerous even if combined with
altruistic intentions. This may be another case of asking the
right questions. Could a former actor and current governor of the
state of California and a former VP who lost his only attempt at
becoming President have any other motives for their respective stands
on global warming? It is no different than asking if major
corporations have jumped on the GW bandwagon to launch profitable new
businesses that will cater to the environmental panic?

However, if you have not settled on a position for this issue and are
more alarmed about potential panic and half-baked solutions than the
idea of global warming itself, take heart. The article below
aside from announcing some new agreement on HCFC elimination mentions
the beginning of that organized effort as 1987. The inefficiency
and time lag of all such initiatives is as staggering as the number of
issue-based organizations in existence. Whether man-made global
warming is a legitimate issue or not, there is better than even odds
that solutions won't be timely in either case.

'Historic' deal reached on cutting ozone threats

by Philippe SauvagnarguesSat Sep 22, 10:19 PM ET

Nearly 200 countries have agreed to accelerate the elimination of
chemicals that threaten the ozone and exacerbate global warming, the
United Nations Environmental Program announced Saturday.

UNEP chief Achim Steiner hailed the agreement by governments to move
forward bans on dangerous hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as a "vital
signal" in efforts to slow climate change and welcomed China's
willingness to back the deal.

"It is perhaps the most important breakthrough in an international
environment negotiation process for at least five or six years,"
Steiner said.

And one can only guess at why President Bush has changed his views on
the subject. But the more compelling fact about the article below
is there always seems to be a media story about those clamoring for
attention pointing their collective fingers at the US.

U.N. climate chief urges U.S. action

Sat Sep 22, 1:53 PM ET

The Bush administration has made a "significant" shift on global
warming, but still falls short on the "much more aggressive" policies
needed to head off its damaging impact, the U.N. climate chief said

"It's very clear that we're not on track," Yvo de Boer told The
Associated Press.

More than 70 presidents and prime ministers and 80 other national
representatives are gathering here for Monday's U.N. "climate summit."

To emphasize once more that this post does not accept nor reject the
idea of global warming is attached to the final thought expressing the
need to subject the global warming issue to strict and continuous
scrutiny befitting any other scientific endeavor. This is one of
those times when embracing the flat earth or the sun revolving around
the earth would not only be embarrassing but entirely counterproductive
not to mention a colossal mistake.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Were Nations Ever United?

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

Every now and then an absolutely classic example of what is wrong with the United Nations emerges. This is not only a criticism aimed at the UN but at least one former employee (featured in the story) and voices from around the world who take pleasure in complaining about the United States.

If the US is not being characterized as a saber rattling bully interfering in the affairs of other nations it is being accused of indifference or reluctance to intervene on behalf of the cherry picked victims of the week in the media's latest scoop.

Who the hell is Stephen Lewis and where does he get off laying blame on others. For someone who worked for the UN, he should know better than most of the total lack of genuine concern within that organization. A major point of such a group of nations should be to bring pressure to bear on those in the international community who allow situations described by Lewis.

IDS Activist Accuses UN, Western Nations of Ignoring Congo Sexual Abuse
By Nick Wadhams
13 September 2007

Wadhams report (mp3) - download 610K audio clip

Listen to Wadhams report (mp3) audio clip

The chairman of an anti-AIDS group has accused the U.N. Security Council and the West in general for ignoring what he calls a litany of horror against women in eastern Congo. For VOA, Nick Wadhams has the story from Nariobi

In a blistering statement, Stephen Lewis, a former U.N. envoy on AIDS in Africa, said sexual violence against women and girls is endemic in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions of people are still suffering from the aftershocks of years of civil war and unrest.

He cited thousands of rapes each month, as well as torture and killings by militias, and the miserable funding of limited health care in eastern Congo. While the crisis in Sudan's Darfur province has received attention from both the U.N. and Hollywood stars, the plight of women in eastern Congo has been largely ignored despite numerous reports, journalist accounts, and visits by diplomats.

"The entire world is preoccupied with Darfur, understandably," Lewis said. "But it must be said that between ten and twenty times of the number of people have died in the eastern Congo as have died in Darfur. There are more displaced persons in the eastern Congo than in Darfur. Darfur has been going on for four years, the eastern Congo has been ravaged for ten. And nowhere on this planet is there such a holocaust of horror visited on women and girls."

Lewis, who is Canadian, heads his own foundation which works to fight the spread of AIDS across Africa. He spoke after a trip to the region. His comments came days after the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes, relayed similar concerns after visiting Congo.

Some analysts fear that Congo is on the brink of a new civil war. Tens of thousands of people have fled the east in recent months because of fighting between government forces and various militias that have taken shelter there.

Lewis said the ongoing violence against Congolese women, including sexual assault and murder, proves how badly the U.N. has failed to confront the country's problems. He said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon must press the International Criminal Court to declare rape a crime against humanity and indict suspected war criminals on charges of committing it.

"Neither the United Nations nor the international community has the faintest idea what to do about the catastrophe for women in the Congo," Lewis said. "Where the Congo is concerned, all the Security Council is really concerned about, as evidenced in their most recent discussions, is questions of troop numbers, arms embargoes and sanctions. Rape is not on the agenda."

Lewis argues that the world's leaders, mostly men, have applied what he called a "spectacular lack of energy" in ending the abuse of women in Congo. He suggests it is time these men turned to women to solve the problem.

Ahmadinejad protest at UN Headquarters, NYC

From Cristy Li:
The Jewish Community is planning and organizing a rally on the 24 September to protest the visit to the United Nations of Iranian President Ahmadinejad

The rally scheduled for the 24 September opposite the United Nations, will protest Ahmadinejad statements about his Holocaust denials and belligerence towards Israel and the United States. The conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York are sponsoring the event in cooperation with the United Jewish Communities, UJA Federation of New York and Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad will be in NYC to speak before the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The UN and China's Military Budget

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

These days it is naive to use phrases like ' since the Cold War ended.' So the Soviet Union had a name change and Chairman Mao is not the leader of 'Red China'. Beyond that, other details may have changed but the situation is hardly much different than it was since the end of WWII and the late eighties.

The US and Russia competed for allies during the Cold War to maintain a balance of power throughout the world. The fortunes of Third World countries since then has in some cases improved dramatically. One obvious change since the seventies, even before the assumed end to the Cold War, is the relationship between Iran and the US. And the former Soviet Bloc and relationships with Russia have also been altered. But what about larger countries like China? How have things changed for them?

In terms of military matters and international games countries play, China's actions mirror those of Cold War history. Over the last couple of weeks reports indicate other members of the United Nations have encouraged China to be more forthcoming about military expenditures. The reports state China has not presented such information in a decade. Being cynical, how much value can such information have? Both sides of the discussion characterize past data as being basic. And it is also noted by groups who monitor such things that some countries provide detailed data while others,including China, only present a minimum of detail.

What is known, as in other similar news reports, suggests China has developed strong ties with countries like Sudan and Iran. Most of their arms exports go to these and other countries. Just like the Cold War that is supposed to be over, the current actions of countries throughout the world have much in common with those previous practices. The recent agreements over nuclear technology between the US and India raised questions of concern. Similarly, China's exports raise the same questions.

While there are rules at the UN for reporting on conventional weapons, the concern that China's testing program may be an attempt to weaponize space would not likely include conventional arms. Besides, how realistic is the expectation of full disclosure among nations regarding arms? Just another example of the pointless nature of the United Nations. Weapons disclosure among nations based on the honor system is a silly notion.
China to report military spending to UN
Sun Sep 2, 6:45 PM ET
China said Sunday it will provide the United Nations with information on its military spending and arms deals for the first time in more than a decade, taking a step to address international concerns about the secrecy surrounding its defense spending and operations.

China promises more military transparency

Sun Sep 2, 7:37 AM ET
China said Sunday it will begin reporting its armed forces budget to the United Nations and rejoin a global register of conventional arms amid foreign pressure for greater military transparency.

China said the moves were meant to show the world its commitment to military transparency, at a time when its massive armed forces expansion is causing alarm bells to ring in Asia and further afield.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Is Zimbabwe an Example of UN Success?

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

The UN's Millennium Development Goals program includes topics claimed to address basic problems worldwide such as hunger and poverty. Currently, the program is about halfway through its schedule to accomplish the goals. Based on how benchmarks are designed and appraised there is plenty of room for argument on what has or has not been accomplished. It is the opinion of the author of this post that the UN's MDG are nothing more than a proclamation of grandiose plans intended to justify the existence of this impotent international organization.

Today's installment focuses on one country in Africa. There was no special formula or criteria used to select today's featured country. It was more a matter of what was readily available and being covered by various news sources at the time of this writing.

The country is Zimbabwe. Whether or not this country is typical or common in terms of the obstacles that face any attempt to improve conditions for people around the world is unknown. But certainly this example cries out for recognition as evidence supporting the fact that UN policies toward problem solving are fundamentally flawed.

It is ironic that Robert Mugabe came to power in Zimbabwe in 1980 which is the same year the now failing water supply infrastructure was installed. One of Magabe's recent moves (July 2007) was to force businesses to slash prices on products like wide-screen TV's. Hurry folks, you can get 'em for about 20 pounds. In a country with a 20,000% inflation rate and the economic crisis Mugabe blames on business that is trying to undermine his government, cars are also going for the incredible price of 30 pounds.

Even though economists weighed in on the situation, it doesn't require a financial genius to understand the stupidity of this move by Mugabe. It is also not surprising that this country's leader has been subject to criticism for most of the time he has been in power.

The insanity in contrasts between the problems faced by Zimbabwe, the solutions offered and apparent mixture of priorities demonstrated by the following news accounts reinforce the notion that the UN Millennium Development Goals are either naive in their simplistic approach to problem solving or believe the rest of us are.

Infrastructure problems would be expected as a problem in nations suffering from the ills of ineffective or corrupt governments. As mentioned earlier, the water supply infrastructure in Zimbabwe is seriously inadequate. Frequent interruptions to the supply of water as well as electricity are cited as primary influences in the economic crisis within Zimbabwe. The municipal control of the water supply being transferred to a national authority has not improved the situation. Failure to provide adequate water for the needs of the population creates obvious risks.

Another result of Zimbabwe's economic crisis has been a flood of two or three million refugees to neighboring the neighboring countries of Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa. There has been some question of how South Africa will handle the swell of mostly illegal immigrants. About one week ago, the UN in their wisdom had stated there is a plan for responding to the refugee situation but no mandate is in place to intervene. This suggests the UN's grand MDG has no realistic solutions either. Is this not exactly the kind of problem the UN should be capable of resolving?

While Mugabe continues to express his position that the West is trying to bring about regime change, infrastructure problems with water and electric power have created another crisis. People have resorted to using wood to fill the void for cooking requirements. This has resulted in devastation to Zimbabwe's forests. The power failures have also caused problems for irrigation and a reduction in the food supply. Go figure, the UN will be looked to for supplying food to more than a third of the population through next April's harvest. So much for the MDG hunger program as it relates to Zimbabwe. Rather than fewer hungry people it appears as there will be more.

No crisis would be complete without headlines suggesting an opposition leader to Mugabe's government is involved in actions that will impede progress in 'crisis talks.' Perhaps this is an area the UN may have previously been expected to participate in and direct other UN member to provide incentives for resolution. The membership of the UN as well as government leadership in struggling nations can be viewed as the central obstacles to problem solving. It would be no surprise that those in positions of authority do not share the concerns of ordinary citizens within troubled nations. If that is the case, how can the UN be a catalyst for improving conditions for the less fortunate throughout the world?

While this next story does not address the MDG primary education goals directly, it offers some insight to the difficulties of education in troubled nations as well as an example of another aid complaint that has targeted the US as not doing enough. Who can hope for the promise of education in areas where basic human needs are in crisis? Must those issues be solved before education can truly help? A tiny fraction of the funds provided by the US recently paid for one week's training for Zimbabwe teachers to be instructed on how to teach 'life skills' as a deterrent to the spread of HIV/AIDS. For a mere $500,000 of aid, or about $40 per day, 1500 teachers attended the training for a week. Considering the difficulties presently faced by Zimbabwe, the wisdom of this activity is suspect.

The final story provided for contrast in this post deals with a topic that by luck of the draw was available as a current example of what makes little sense in the scheme of things. There is a Zimbabwe film festival celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The usual descriptions and hype for such an event are expressed in the article. But to the outside observer, relying only on media reports, it serves as another reason to ask what the hell goes on in places in the world that seem to be consumed by strife? People cannot eat, attend to common tasks, are exiting the country by the millions and yet there is demand for a film festival. Not that anyone in Zimbabwe should be denied an opportunity to develop whatever skills they can, but doesn't this seem out of place?

Certainly we discuss similar contrasts in the US. The United States is not exempt from bizarre combinations of circumstances featuring the over privileged and underprivileged. It is not expected that these same situations would not be present in other countries.

The central question for this post is how does the UN reconcile public opinion about its operations? It appears they don't as their activities continue to demonstrate peculiar responses to chronic problems. More statements, more research, more monitoring, more appeals for funding and excuses for performance that never seem to solve anything is what maintains a less than positive public opinion of the United Nations.

Zimbabwe's problems may be generally representative of nations throughout the world requiring international attention and resolution. Perhaps the UN could spend some of the funding used for communication to explain why its members cannot see their way clear to negotiate effectively with countries around the world like Zimbabwe. Even if one country at a time, the United Nations should be able to rally members to solve problems of poverty, hunger, disease, etc., without the hype and suspicious characteristics of projects like the Millennium Development Goals. The solutions to these problems do not require all the sophisticated and complex arrangements often described by the UN and related organizations.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe strongman

Mugabe's price cuts bring cheap TVs today, new crisis tomorrow
Water Shortages Make Every Day Life A Struggle In Zimbabwe's Cities
Zimbabweans Fleeing Economic Collapse Not Refugees - UN Agency
South Africa Mulls New Response To Massive Zimbabwean Immigration
Zimbabwe Economic Crisis Wipes Out Forests
Harare Says Tsvangirai's Australia Contacts Jeopardize Crisis Talks
Zimbabwean Teachers To Instruct Life Skills To Avoid HIV Infection
Zimbabwe Film Festival Celebrates a Decade in Cinema