Should US know everything about its foreign visitors?

The USA is seeking to know more about passengers entering its territory. This has been the debate in the EU. So how far is this measure effective for both the US and the passengers coming from other countries?

The USA has the right to protect itself from terrorists becoming more sophisticated in their attempts to carry their threats. One terrorist is enough to cause havoc among all passengers. But security agents should have the skills to spot terrorists before they get on planes and enter the country. Passengers shouldn’t have their privacy invaded as they are the citizens of their countries and not of the USA. Their governments shouldn’t be agents for the US government providing it with all what it wants to know about the passengers. Checking bank transfer is only the tip of the iceberg to fight terrorism. The US should know about the tactics used by the terrorists which need little money.

To fight terrorism there should be deep cooperation between countries, especially between those harbouring terrorists and those likely to be attacked by them. But this shouldn’t be at the expense of personal freedom and privacy. People should have the right to enter a country without being stripped from head to toes, metaphorically speaking. Not all the passengers are terrorists and therefore they shouldn’t be subject to thorough investigation, including their bank accounts. The best thing people can do is to visit the US only under big necessity. As for tourism there are hundreds of destinations elsewhere offering high quality vacations with relatively reasonable checks for entry.


Gambling, a question of intelligence or luck?

Gambling is risk taking that can lead to ruin. It is like a drug. Gamblers feel satisfaction by winning this way rather than through an economic activity. It’s a game for some that brings them lucky winning but at the expense of the losers. It’s a game that in most cases need intelligence, but luck remains the principle factor. Each day there are sensational scenes where there are dramatic losers and winners.

Gambling is in many cases the sport if the rich who don’t find what to do with their money but to risk it at the roulette in the hope of regenerating more wealth out of it. Perhaps it’s the easiest way to take interest on one’s income. There are no banks that can double and redouble your deposits overnight. Stock markets are a way of investing. Like gambling, they can bring immediate loss or win through the shares that change hands. But casinos can bring much more to the lucky.

For some states, there are no scruples about gambling as they generate revenues for the treasury. Like gulf and other rich men’s sports, casinos are a part of the tourist industries in many countries. However, the personal implications can be dire when one loses everything or the casino becomes the most frequented place at the expense of other ways of life leading to family break-up or running into huge debts.

For those who can’t resist gambling I think Gambling can be fun if a small money is risked from time to time but gambling should not become an addiction. The danger is when it leads to total ruin. It will be better if a good percentage of the revenues from gambling institutions is dedicated to charity organisations.

Personally, I don’t like to have anybody’s money. I’d rather get it downright from a job however small the amount may be. It doesn’t make sense to get rich by impoverishing the others or living off their money. Seeking a gain like this can destroy dreams. It’s worse than buying lottery tickets which, in part, isn’t as risk taking as gambling all for all.

I’d rather re-watch “Casino” in which Robert de Nero features or listen to Kenny Roger’s song “the Gambler” in the comfort of my modest room than take a stride in my thick shoes to be pick-pocketed, in case of loss, in an institution having the force of the law to do so

Radical young Muslims, identity crisis or search for justice?

Young Muslims in Europe and UK in particular are different from their parents. Their parents came to Europe in search for a living without seeking to engage in the politics of either their countries of origin or that of the host country. But in part they are responsible for what the young Muslims feel about themselves. The parents sticking to their traditions chose to live away from the mainstream society. Among the things they did was sending their children to Muslim schools which in majority teach values that are accepted in home country. Under tolerance and respect of difference, the government allowed them to practice their traditions like those about marriage in which girls in particular are forced to marry without their consent.

The young Muslims growing in an environment which apparently contrasts with their values have become more vocal about what they are concerned with. They seem to have identity crisis as they feel they live in an environment where they don’t fit or clashes with what they were inculcated. For them the means to have a sense of identity is to look to religious groups now spreading their messages in mosques and schools and also through media mainly Islamic channels and websites. The controversies that rise from time to time like the ban of the veil are likely to fuel their discontent as this can be seen as an interference with their inherent values.

The young are easy to influence especially when they seek an ideal. During the 60s, the youth in the West were revolted against the establishment using the slogan of peace and freedom. The Muslim youth are using the slogan of reverting to the past values in an attempt to confront the present. The danger that lurks behind such ideals is when these youth become potential suicide bombers considering such actions as a way of healing the ills in this life and martyrdom leading to paradise. But if they choose to live religion to the spirit, they are free to do so as Islam in essence doesn’t practically force anyone to embrace it.

Moderation is the best means to live in a world with different religious beliefs alongside those who have no religious belief at all. Trying to make the whole world according to one’s image is a call for an endless struggle that can lead nowhere as no one has the right to tell the others what to believe or not to believe.

Child education, homework, punishment and laxity

Child education is one of the problems facing societies around the world. In poor countries, a large percentage of children can’t have access to school. For these societies, they have the problem of building and funding schools and then campaigning among parents to send their children to school, especially girls.

On the issue of school homework children should do, it is essential for them to do it. Children today are exposed to many facets of life since their early years. At home they have TV and the Internet which can take too much of their time. As they are still young, they mustn’t be exposed to too many activities which will just make them lose focus on any particular thing. Homework, which mustn’t be stressful or too much time taking is the best way for them to develop skills and strategies later in their higher studies and when entering the labour market. It helps them to remain focused on the curriculum and to make the most of their studies.

Children in their education need guidance at home and at school. But there are families who leave it all to school to take care of their children. In some Asian countries like Singapore, children are under too much stress because their parents want them to be achievers by forcing them to keep studying for more than ten hours a day leaving them little time to enjoy their childhood by playing like children and not keep under stress like adults.

There should be a balance between leisure, school hours and homework to ease the stress on children. Laxity and punishment are the major threat to a child school achievement. Children should be taught to be responsible for what they learn. Children by nature are competitive. They don’t like to be losers even in games. Studies should be based on creating competition among them and helping those lagging behind. It is usually uninterested children who are the source of trouble in a school, as they have no other means to impose themselves but to create trouble. Physical punishment is no deterrent because of the legal implications. There can be other methods like suspending a child from school at least for a normal atmosphere for the disciplined one.

In education, there are no successful methods to teach concerning the how and what. Education is carried within a social reality that continues changing. The dilemma that remains is how educational methods should be reflective of social needs and how school should remain a space for learning and exploring one’s potentials within a free and responsible atmosphere and not a ward where children are kept without understanding their basic needs.

Do Memorials Make Sense?

Memorials are a means to remember and to have experience from them for what they stood for. Some are reminders of glorious moments or people; others are reminders of tragedies. As a picture they can tell more than a book what they stand for. They remain fresh in mind. But too many memorials make some fall into oblivion or become insignificant. Just at present, how many national and international days are there that pass unnoticed? Let alone statues, tombs, buildings we pass by like passing in a street whose name we don’t know, care to know or remember even after getting its name.

There are memorials for the living as well as for the dead. Some dictators don’t feel at ease until they have their statues displayed all over the country in preparation for leaving them as memorials after they have passed away. Their omnipresence for them is an assurance of being eternally remembered. Needless to say some are scrapped from the ground as those of Saddam in Iraq and Lenin in former soviet republics. Even in democratic France, late French president François Mitterrand build pyramids in the Louvre Museum to be remembered by.

Posters and albums are a form of memorial. Some buy the poster of a star to keep them company as they keep albums for past moments to be relived again and again. In a sense, everyone has the means to have their memorials in addition to the “grandiose” ones about historical figures or events.

The “mania” for memorials isn’t over. It is a way to record history in a different way. Memorials can be a source for contemplation, a tourist attraction like the tomb of Karl Marx which is visited by communists and non-communists. The latest memorial in project is that of the executed Iraqi former president Saddam Hussein. Libya is going to build a statue in his honour along with another one for Libyan Omar Al Mukhtar, a historic a resistant leader during Italy occupation of Libya.

Maybe for a nation, memorials are a part of its history, to keep reminding people of what was an event like. But ordinary people, the anti-heroes have their own memorials like a picture of a memorable person on the wall that keeps gazing on them and refurbishes their existence with meaning.

Maybe it is impossible to live without a memory. The past is the essence of what we are as it shapes our attitudes and our view of ourselves. Memorials are instruments to live virtually past moments in which we haven’t even existed. But we also need to live our present as we perceive it and not to be the prisoners of a past through excessive memorials that look like ghosts haunting our present.

Nationalism and Identity

In response to a British report about teaching Britishness at schools.

Every country has to inculcate patriotism and citizenship among its members but not for propaganda. During the communist era, and it is still the case in some third world countries, citizenship means allegiance to the regime and its leaders. People become just parrots repeating anthems and slogans as thinking otherwise means dissent and treason.

Today’s youth are somehow disenchanted with established values as they seek freedom and new ways of seeing things. There is apathy towards elections as many have little faith in their government, as for them, electoral programmes are just old wine in new bottles. Perhaps the only events that raise patriotism in people are sport events. Hooligans express their patriotism by causing havoc during matches. Hooliganism, until recently was the shame of the British abroad.

What can make people good citizens of their country is to be ready to ask the famous question, “Dont ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” This can be possible when they feel there is justice, equality and freedom that can make their actions for their country worthwhile.

Another threat to national identity is globalization. Many values and traditions are being lost because young people are in majority exposed to commercial values whose interests are financial gains and not the cultural impact they can have. It will be dreary if one day people live in a country knowing about foreign stars and influenced by outside events while ignoring basic facts about their countries.

Democracy should be dealt with in a new way by offering people what to be active about, not in the archaic sense of just glorifying one’s country for self-deceit but to be involved in what is taking place while extending the hand of friendship to all people around the world.

On Britishness:

Britishness should be viewed in terms of the present. Britain shouldn’t continue to be seen as a colonial power as colonialism is a matter of the past. British population has undergone diversity due to migration. Sections of British society should be seen as a part of the whole and not as sections set apart from the whole.

The British were successful in spreading their values around the world. Now the ball is in their camp. They should succeed in spreading the values of tolerance among themselves to set a good example on how to preserve national identity and harmony.

To paraphrase British Education Secretary Alan Johnson, people from all over the world, regardless of age, religion or race should think critically about issues of race, ethnicity and religion with “an explicit link” to current political debates, the news and a sense of national values.

Violence in Iraq, from Engagement to Apathy

The violent situation in Iraq is a flagrant example of “what man has made to man” to paraphrase Romantic poet Coleridge. Iraq has become the axis of conflicting forces from within and outside. There is the major conflict between the USA, the undisputed superpower in the world and the factions who are mounting a challenge to it. For that, they use all means by spreading terror through daily deadly bombing claiming tens of lives.

Iraq has become a card in the hands of Iran to offset the US threat hovering over it because of its nuclear program. For Iran the longer the worsening situation continues in Iraq, the more the US will think of a military strike or invasion as it can’t afford two major wars at the same time and in two bordering countries.

For the US, the war in Iraq is worthwhile as the insurgent are contained in it, not operating in its ally countries, especially the Gulf states. As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that the investment in human lives in Iraq was worthwhile.

For the public, there is antipathy in most countries as what is taking place in Iraq as its people are made to pay in a conflict between irreconcilable forces, which makes of Iraq their battleground. But the situation is no longer a talking point with the same intensity, except when there is a major event like the execution of Saddam Hussein which brought an overwhelming reaction in every part of the world, from the public and the politicians alike.

As it seems, the Iraqis are left to their fate, exposed to a war that daily prove difficult to end as there is escalation from all sides to force events according to their agenda. During Saddam regime, many Iraqis sought refuge from his dictatorship in other countries. Now thousands of Iraqis are leaving their country in search, not for freedom but just to find a secure place.

Public demonstration, political condemnations from countries proved useless in preventing the US from invading Iraq. The same will be for any call to it to withdraw from it unless its long-term agenda in the Middle East is secured. As it is, violence will remain a daily recurrence in Iraq, drawing far less attention than it used. One day, the war in Iraq will be a forgotten war as long as US casualties are kept to minimum. Ironically, Iraqi victims are treated just as “the latest score of casualties in the ongoing violence in Iraq”. So no matter how many are killed will be forgotten overnight because a new wave of killing is to come soon.

Quite horrific of how light human life becomes when there is deep animosity. Only the likes of Coleridge will feel the grief of “what man has made to man” in an age considered as the apogee of human civilisation.

Hrant Dink, a symbolic victim of Armenian genocide

The death of Hrant Dink shows that there is no free speech in Turkey, especially about its past regarding the Armenian genocide.

In countries where is there is free speech about national issues like Germany, the Germans are free to speak about the atrocities of the Nazis without being in danger of death threats as these atrocities were committed by a defunct regime. Turkey is sensitive about Armenian genocide because of its fear of political consequences like compensations for the families of the victims. Germany is still paying for the holocaust by giving a privilege to Jews as an apology for what they endured under Hitler.

Turkey to free itself from the ghosts of its past should be open about it for current and future generations. This murder is a test for Turkey how far it can protect free speech and crack down on those who stand in the way of a fully democratic Turkey.

When thoughts lead to death, this is as worse as a genocide. Hrant Dink was somehow the latest victim of Turkey alleged genocide in Armenia.

Hilary Clinton running for president, what if she and Barack Obama couldn’t make it even if in the primaries?

The US is back again for primary presidential campaign. There are many contenders up to now. Possibly more will join in the coming days. But these two hopeful candidates have been in the limelight more than others because of gender and colour: Senators Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Both have created a sensation as both decided to run for president. They both draw attention because of being exclusively representative of a section of American society which has never been in power. If either becomes president, it will be a historical turning point as in the USA never has a woman or a black person been in power as president.

Hillary Clinton is fit to run for president. She has experience in politics as she was US First lady for eight years. So she must be familiar with the intrigues of politics in the White House. As a senator she must have accumulated the experience of how to interact with the Congress. As a public figure she has her influence over many social issues. If she is chosen by the Democrats, she can rely among other things on her husband Bill Clinton, who was a popular president, to draw support for her. He must be considered as her big asset. She may use him to remind the Americans of the “golden” presidency under him. She can also exploit the disenchantment of the public with Bush foreign policy, especially in Iraq. Like the rest of the Democrats she has so much fire to charge at the Republicans whose only defence may be their argument about strengthening national security at home and abroad.

In this context, The US presidential elections is going to prove sensational, sensation coming especially from the Democrats who are historically faced with deciding over gender or colour in the persons of Hilary and Obama, should they remain in the final round after the elimination of other contenders. The Democrats will be in the spotlight more than the Republicans on this issue as this will give them more publicity on who should run for president. There may be the surprise of neither being chosen by the Democrats in the primaries. In this case the presidential campaign may lose some of its edge.

In this case both will go down history as having been the first of their kind to have attempted presidency evoking so much interest. In case neither is chosen it’s good for them both to say, “ It’s better to have tried and lost than not to have tried at all”

As an outside “observer”! (Please, forgive the term), I’d rather say good luck to all –Democrat or Republican, white or black, male or female. And let the best win.

A Father’s Wish to Have a Child after Death

Children are an instrument for continuity. Marriage without children seems barren for many. For a father ,as it is the case of Sergeant Kevin Cohen, to have a child posthumously should be seen in the context of the instinctive drive to continue existing and remembered after death. Ordinary people have only their children to be remembered by, by visiting their tombs or mentioning them from time to time. Historical figures perpetuate their names through their achievements.

Having children through frozen sperms and eggs is current. There are cases of surrogated motherhood for infertile women. But the case of the diseased soldier should be seen as a kind of resurrection after death through a child. The woman accepting pregnancy from the sperm of the dead soldier should be seen as heroine as it helped the mother to see the dream of her child come true. The soldier’s mother will surely feel as if her deceased child came back to her through the expected grandchild. His/her birth should be seen as a celebration of life and a triumph over death. The mother will have a chance to be in peace regarding her lost child. As this case has brought fame to the Israeli soldier at least in Israel and will have people around the world speak about his dream coming true, his spirit can then rest in peace.

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