Climate Change, Whose responsibility?

There have been attempts to curb environment degradation through international treaties like Kyoto treaty, which in most cases has failed to reach its expected targets.
Environmental degradation is now taking place in every part of the world because of rising level of industrialisation and urbanisation which in most cases remain unplanned to meet environmental demands.

As for governments – of poor and rich countries alike- they consider the economic cost or rather benefit from giving priority to the environment over economic needs. Poor governments are ready to destroy natural habitat for projects like dams or to facilitate investments from foreign companies without obliging them to respect the environment where they carry their activities. In many poor countries there aren’t strict measures about such things as traffic pollution or inadequate housing. But despite all this, the bulk of pollution comes from emerging industrialised countries like China and India whose concern is to lay solid economic infrastructure and to meet the current demands of their population, leaving the issue of the environment for another day.

The future of the planet is everybody’s responsibility, rich and poor. The earth can sustain larger population if its resources are managed wisely. We can preserve the earth resources making them enough for current and future populations when we can live up to the fact that the earth has enough for everyone’s need and not to everyone’s greed. Moderation and sustainable growth for the basics and not for extravagance are the key for maintaining a healthy life on earth where the fight should be for mutual care and assistance and not a race for superiority even at the level of appearance and possessions just to make your neighbour envious. Even the current population can turn the earth into a waste land if there is no sustainable preservation at all levels.

The solutions remain with individuals of all sections of any society who should do their best to use their personal things with reasonable limits and to put pressure on their governments to adjust their economic and social needs to their environmental concerns.


DR Congo Presidential Election: A New Hope for Political stability?

Successful presidential election with no fraud accusations and general acceptance of the results can bring political stability to this country that is torn apart by civil war and corruption. A country of such a magnitude, when stable, can bring huge investment thanks to its natural resources. But DR Congo people will benefit from it if the elected president succeeds in tackling issues like corruption and bringing national reconciliation for durable peace.

Dr Congo will also be a success story if investing companies don’t consider its mines a milking cow without consideration for the local people who should taste the fruit of their country. In view of its size, it should also enjoy friendly relations with its multiple country neighbours whose borders should be for mutual co operations and not a door for armed groups to hit and run.

Political stability can become a true reality when, among other things, displaced people running from war finally find a stable homeland where they can enjoy have a normal life, instead of continuing to live under the constant fear of attacks from armed groups loyal to one faction or the other.

The presidential election in DR Congo is just the first step of the miles this country has to run to find its place among stable and prosperous countries. It is just a day event. But what matters is what comes next without disappointing the Congolese people and the international community that stood behind them for a cease-fire and for organising historic presidential elections whose final result is awaited with excitement and for assessment.

Can UN Treaty on Arms Sale Control Succeed?

Arms trade is hard to control as long as there are borders they slip through. It is like the thousands of measures taken to stop drug trafficking and human smuggling, to cite just a few examples. There were countries that faced arms sale ban like Liberia. But this didn’t stop the conflict. Fighters find their sources through private arms dealers. If governments refuse to sell heavy weapons to countries involved in wars, there are other traders ready to sell at least light weapons to the parties needing them. There is also secretive arms sale by some governments as there are other governments that arm groups.

A UN treaty on the international trade in weapons will have little success as long as there are conflicts in strategic regions of the world like the Middle East. There are governments that support armed groups like Iran supporting Hezbullah. This will continue to receive arms through the borders with Syria. In past conflicts, there were arms scandals like Irangate involving US military. This means arms will continue to reach their recipients despite the UN treaty either for lucrative or political reasons.

Arms sale is a lucrative and secretive business. It is the big nations like the USA, Russia that set the tone for arms deal through their wide market monopoly in this domain. Arms sale control remains difficult, as there are political and economic considerations that regulate it. It is a common fact that there is an arms race between many states at the level of production, acquisition and sale. It is a part of their economic activities and defence strategy. Many countries try to acquire as many arms as possible to confront a current situation or just to store them in case of needing to defend themselves or to start an attack. The more things get worse, the more there is a need for arms.

When countries become open about their arsenal and its origin, maybe, arms sale will be traced and measures will be taken. But as there is national sovereignty not allowing ,say, ships sailing between two nations to be searched in international waters and as long as there are miles and miles of unguarded borders around the world, arms will always find their destinations falling in the hands of sanctioned governments, armed groups and organised criminals alike.

African Heads of States, a Prize for Successful Leadership. Is it Enough?

Africa is among the most corrupt and poorest continents. Many regimes live off the poverty and ordeal of the people they subject to their power rather than being at their service. Such regimes consider themselves the sole owners of the country and they should have a high pay for the realisations of any project for the rest of the inhabitants. They indirectly become businessmen negotiating how much they can get from a project and not how beneficial it can be for their countries. The most famous dictator in Africa was the late president Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, known today as DR Congo. During his rule he amassed vast fortune while the country remained in economic hardship despite its mineral and natural riches.

Ironically, many heads of states in Africa have a small salary – compared to that of western heads of states – not exceeding $US20,000. Yet they enjoy high luxury along with their friends and families. To make a comparison, when former French President François Mitterrand died he left no fortune behind him. He simply died in his apartment although he ruled France for 14 years.

Concerning a $5M prize for Africa’s most effective head of state that is being launched by one of the continent’s top businessmen and UK-based mobile phone entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim sounds laudable but alone it is unlikely to make Africa a better place.

Africa’s problems aren’t just about a particular head of state but about the regime he represents. A president can be assured about his future through such a prize, but those working around him also should have clean hands. As corruption is entrenched in many African countries, it remains hard to see the effect of a prize if some heads of states find out of calculation they could get more than a $5m prize by holding to power and having directly their share from their countries wealth through embezzlement and appropriation.

One condition I suggest for this prize is that candidates heads of states should first reveal their personal wealth inside and outside their countries before assessing their political achievements.

What can make heads of states work harder is when there’s full democracy in their countries and they have a limited term to govern, preferring at the end of their term(s) the popular high esteem they can have to the figures they can receive from their bank account.

Face Transplant

Face transplant has moved from fiction – as it was seen in movies “Face/off” and “Mission Impossible” to a mission possible.

Face transplant should be seen as a new medical revolution although it is still at the pioneering stage. The first partial transplants in France and China have proved to be a success. Without the bold first surgeries which were started in the 20th centuries, medical care wouldn’t have reached its current development.
There have been transplants of arms as well as internal organs like hearts, so why shouldn’t be the same for faces.

The medical care of the human body still needs more research as there are still chronic diseases. But face transplant should be seen as another giant step in medicine. There should be no ethical concerns as long as there are acquiescent donors. The recipients will have a chance to have a normal life showing a normal face instead of masking their damaged one or living in hiding to avoid embarrassing stares and reactions.

After all face transplant isn’t as controversial as cloning as here we are dealing with a totally new person coming to the world with social and ethical implications. All the recipient needs is continuous and close medical check-up as well as psychological adjustment as it is like acquiring a new identity.

May be one day we may hear of head transplant. This sounds as a rare possibility but many aspects of science fiction years ago have become part of our daily life

Israel-Hezbullah War, Admission of War Geneva Conventions Violation

The full account of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah will take time to unfold. Israel has for the first time admitted it used controversial phosphorus shells during fighting against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July and August. There are accusations that both warring parties used cluster bombs and other weapons in civilian areas contrary to Geneva conventions on war. The surviving victims are left to cope with their ordeal, especially the Lebanese who lost their loved ones and their homes.

This war showed its futility. It achieved little for both sides, except propaganda victory for Hezbollah and deep questioning for Israel army about its inability to have successful tactics to end Hezbollah as a military and political force in Lebanon.

It is for history that we should know the different military means and weapons used in this war by these sides and their origins. But on the ground, there should be a look-ahead how to make the whole region a place for peaceful living.

This war shouldn’t be used just as a commemoration for those who fell victims, but as an insight in how mutual hatred can lead to excessive measures in a world that gives importance to political calculations that make it just vocal without the long arms to change the course of events.

The war ended. It doesn’t make sense to cry over spilt milk when too much blood was spilt for differences that could have been settled diplomatically before and not after the event.

The hope is that the mess left in Lebanon, political and material will be cleared diplomatically while the country is being cleared from the rubbles resulting from the past confrontations and attacks as it should be cleared from the mines and cluster bombs still left as a booby traps.

Budapest, Riot or Commemoration?

If the brutality really took place in Budapest to which the demonstrators were subjected, it seems that history is repeating itself in a country that fought for decades to dismantle despotic communist regimes. Just as the demonstrators were crashed by the communist army 50 years ago, the same happened to demonstrators in free Hungary.

It sounds queer that in Europe that should be a model for freedom, brutality still take place. The old guard mentality seems to be still hovering over dealing with public unrest using indiscriminate methods to disperse –be it hooligans or demonstrators.

Today Budapest is calm can mean that the Soviet style can easily put uprising to an end, contrary to previous incidents in Liverpool and Paris which took weeks to end.

The question remains if excessive force is justified in a country that has become an EU member, bound by its human rights values.

Earth Future and Future Affluent Population

The worry about the future of the planet is more about the current threatening political differences between antagonist ideologies than the probability of its resources dwindling. A nuclear war at the global level can turn the whole earth into dust making life impossible for millions of years. An ecological disaster can be overcome by human efforts to end it and by letting nature do its repair work in the long or short run. Consumption can be regulated. If more and more people are persuaded to eat moderately and healthily and if they are persuaded to consume products that are environment friendly, the spectre of excessive consumption can be dealt with rationally.

Concerning the WWF’s Living Planet Report which depicts an apocalyptic view of the earth in 30 years time, it sounds more alarmist and prognostic than a no u-turn fact. In 2056, it still looks unlikely that all the earth population will reach the living standards in UK. The majority of third world countries are still struggling to provide just the basic needs for their populations, let alone luxury and excessive consumption.

The planet can be more at danger from systematic destruction of the environment to meet the needs of current rich countries whose lucrative businesses use the raw materials of poor countries, which in most cases yield to the fluctuations of the markets. Some poor countries should have their share of responsibility in wasting the earth resources by being tempted by the cash they get from greedy business that excessively exploit their natural and mineral resources for handy cash. Such countries, plagued with corruption and mismanagement, make a mess of the revenues they get.

The future of the planet is everybody’s responsibility, rich and poor. The earth can sustain larger population if its resources are managed wisely. We can preserve the earth resources making them enough for current and future populations when we can live up to the fact that the earth has enough for everyone’s need and not to everyone’s greed. Moderation and sustainable growth for the basics and not for extravagance are the key for maintaining a healthy life on earth where the fight should be for mutual care and assistance and not a race for superiority even at the level of appearance and possessions just to make your neighbour envious. Even the current population can turn the earth into a waste land if there is no sustainable preservation at all levels.

US Mid-term Congressional Elections & Iraq

The situation is in Iraq is worsening partly because of the way it is managed politically and militarily. The Iraqi security forces still need more training & equipment as well as cleansing from insurgence sympathisers. The US should open dialogue with Iran, which is religiously and geographically close to the Iraqi Shiaas. It also should take Syria into account which has borders with Iraq. The US should succeed in persuading Iran & Syria that the situation in Iraq should be dealt with separately despite its worsening diplomatic relations with them. If Iraq’s borders aren’t secure, they will remain open for insurgents who prefer armed struggle to national reconciliation under US military presence in Iraq.

For the US mid-term elections, the situation in Iraq will be exploited by both the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans will play on the chord of national security and interests around the world, which for them remain fragile as long as terrorists are roaming around the world, supported by fanatic groups and regimes. The Democrats will try to pinpoint the negative results of the Bush administration’s campaign in Iraq. For Bush critics, the war has been longer and more costly than expected in term of human losses and material efforts.

But the elections can bring surprises despite the growing pressure for US withdrawal from Iraq. George Bush Sr lost the election in 1996 to Democrat Bill Clinton despite his administration success in evicting Saddam from Kuwait with little damages compared to the current situation. In 2000 George Bush Jr was elected although the Democrats were popular under Clinton’s administration. In 2004, he was re-elected despite the mounting criticism of Iraq invasion.

What can decide the next mid-term elections is the state of the US economy and the way ordinary Americans fair in their daily lives. Sometimes or rather more often, it is the popularity of the candidates that decides the outcome of such elections and not the parties for which they stand. So let’s wait and see.

Expulsion of UN envoy in Sudan

The expulsion of Mr Pronk by the Sudanese government has no basis as he was exercising his right of free speech in his blog, which isn’t an official document. Mr Pronk’s personal opinions in his blog on the situation in Darfur shouldn’t be used as a pretext to delay negotiations over a permanent solution in this region where any further delay means the continuation of the suffering of its entire population, part of which is still displaced. Another is living in very difficult conditions, whose survival depends on international help rather on the Sudanese Gt which sends just troops to fight armed organisations opposed to its policies in Darfur region.

The Sudanese Gt is using this as a pretext as it doesn’t agree with the UN on the way the Darfur situation should be resolved. As it refuses UN peace keeping forces there, it is apparent that in essence it doesn’t want any form of UN presence in Darfur or Sudan for this particular problem including that of Mr Pronk, its representative.

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