Monday, October 31, 2005

Who is failing in Eritrea

A despute over the Eritrean-Ethiopian border has caused tensions in the region and the UN has stepped in to settle the dispute yet the Ethiopians continue to occupy land awarded to Eritrea. For this reason Erirea has written two letters to the UN Security Council in the past week calling the mission there a failure and claiming that: "The UN has, through its inaction, provided an umbrella for the forcible occupation of our sovereign territories".
While at first glance this may appear to be true, the Eritreans have been less than accepting of the UN aid already being offered to them. The restrictions of airspace put into effect 5 October in concert with other restrictions has hampered the UN efforts and lead to a threat from Kofi Annan of withdrawl of the current troops in Eritrea.

Is the UN doing all they can? Should they continue this mission when they are so severly impeded by the Eritrean government? Would the UN give this issue more attention if it involved other countries instead of those in Africa?
These pressing issues must be answered and I encourage you as readers to post with your opinions or even better facts that support a particular point of view.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

H5N1: The end of us all?

There was a little bird and his name was Enza
I opened the window and in-flew-Enza.

The H5N1 or bird flu virus has gained increasing news coverage and drawn concern from the scientific community. The press has jumped on the latest outbreaks in countries such as, Romania, Turkey, and Greece as well as a case of the deadly virus in Britain. Germany also has recently reported two geese for testing positive for bird flu. So much news coverage has occurred that it even made this weeks cover of Newsweek magazine and reports are published daily in a variety of news sources. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3422839.stm (this is a good site to answer questions concerning the avian flu)
The avian flu is already creating large concern among the scientific world. As of yesterday 121 cases of human infection have been confirmed leading to 62 deaths. The virus, which can be passed from bird to human through close contact with the infected bird has raised the alarm for a potential strain of the virus which could be passed from human to human. Evidence suggests that this is already happening in small isolated instances. Although nearly spread easily enough at this point to cause a pandemic the fear that the virus will mutate is very real. The 1918 avian flu epidemic was started in much the same way, and scientists predict that the such a pandemic may be inevitable. This epidemic would be carried by birds and therefore spread quickly over the globe due to migratory patterns of birds.
The H5N1 strain of virus may not yet be deadly to many people but its crippling economic effects are already being seen. The EU voted today to ban the import of exotic birds from other countries in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus. While this may help, Romania has recently reported the virus in swans along the Ukrainian border. These cases in wild birds are perhaps the most frightening because there is no way to prevent the travel of these diseased birds and governments fear their countries live stock could be infected by the wild flu ridden birds. Once in livestock the risk to humans increases greatly and preventing that may be the key to slowing the effects of the flu. I expect countries and organizations such as the EU to begin banning imports of poultry in all geographic regions affected by the flu.

While the news about the bird flu may exaggerate the imminence of a widespread pandemic I belief that the scientists are right to worry. The case is much like the scenario of a hurricane hitting New Orleans; whether it happens today, this year, or 5 years from now the fact is it is inevitable. A widespread virus will sweep the world off its feet and we need to prepare now. Precautions and plans of actions must be laid out to minimize the potentially catastrophic effects of such a epidemic in our already over populated world which is getting smaller every day.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Blow for Kashmir: but could it help?

Kashmir, a long disputed territory claimed by both Pakistan and India since its release from British rule was devastated by an earthquake that has killed over 30,000 people with the death toll rising by the minute. As the crisis unfolds the question becomes: what effects will this have on the peace process in Kashmir?

With both Pakistan and India feeling the effects of the quake the world watches in anticipation of the cooperation or lack thereof between the two rivals in their disputed territory of Kashmir. In Pakistani Kashmir alone the death toll has already surpassed 19,400 and continues to climb. In Indian Kashmir the death toll has surpassed 500 and is rising. Pakistan, overwhelmed by the quake has requested aid from the international community. India has not yet requested such aid but was also hit hard. India and Pakistan, who both claim Kashmir have opened discussions of joint relief efforts and offered condolences to one another a step some point to as easing tensions. The civilians however do not all feel this way. In Uri a town which lies on the border of Indian and Pakistani Kashmir villagers are agitate because of the lack of aid. Despite the governments promises the villagers report that little has been done and government and press members are "just driving past". The officials too seem to disagree over effects of the quakes political implications (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1813771,00.html)

I believe that the two nuclear powers of Pakistan and India be forced to work together in dealing with this crisis. In doing so the two countries will move further along the road to peace in the region because of the cooperative ties formed by the relief efforts.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A global look at the death penalty: Should the US change its policy?

The US has always maintained its right to sentence criminals to death. It feels that there are some criminals too dangerous even to sit in prison for the rest of their lives, or something like that. Over the last decade or so however the global community has been pushing for more reform on the matter.

The world had been eyeing the death penalty for years but the chain of reactions was set off by the EU officially adopting an anti-death penalty stance and even requiring countries wishing to join the EU, such as Turkey to adopt the measure. Many of these countries are strongly allied with the United States and the disagreement over the death penalty strains these ties.

The European countries are not the only ones to reconsider their policy of sentencing criminals to death. In recent years more and more countries have taken steps to reform their judicial policy on the matter. In China they have reinstated the reviewal of death penalty cases by higher courts to prevent wrongful confictions. Earlier this year prisoners in Jordan went on hunger strike to protest the death penalty.

Some countries still do resort to the death penalty as a means of dealing with criminals. Pakistan recently sentenced to death 5 people for their supposed involvement in the assassination attempt of Gen Musharraf. Another well known case is that of Iraq which recently approved the used of the death penalty. Even this approval however comes with strict conditions for terrorists only and I believe is largely due to the US influence in the political system.

As we witness much of the developed world and certainly the western world move away from the use of the death penalty the question is raised: should the US re-examine its policy toward the death penalty?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Yetis and such

The Yeti is now the World's Finest Interactive News Forum. The Yeti will deal primarily with international news and policies. These policies will be dissected in search for their "true" motive. Effects of world events such as; Iran’s persistent nuclear development, Israel's actions in the West bank, Egypt’s controversial elections and other pertinent topics around the world will now have a forum in which to be discussed. The Yeti will attempt, with the help of other readers, to assemble as much information from different angles on these stories as possible.

The Yeti will look at news topics from the angles not traditionally displayed in the news. These include how Europe is reacting to Iran’s bid for nuclear power or the US's response to international aid offers after Katrina. The Yeti is not slanted right or left as anyone with an opinion will be able to post it. If you as a reader feel that your opinion on the matter is not fully represented just simply post and tell others how you see the issue.

With many different views as well as the ability to tell other readers how you feel about the topics at hand or even to introduce a new topic; The Yeti will offer a whole new experience of reading the news.