Barrak Obama, politics and race

Obama’s skin colour can be harming the principle of democracy in the USA if his race and colour become a major issue instead of his ideas. What matters in a fair election race are the tone and the colour of ideas and not the fair skin of the speakers.

If Obama skin is a major issue in the USA, this means racism isn’t over yet in this country seeking to export democracy to other countries, especially the Middle East where there is argument that democracy isn’t a mass product. It should be implemented according to the specificity of each society.

But it’s too early to judge as the race for the candidacy to the presidency isn’t over. With Hilary, he represents a dichotomy between sexism and racism. Who either wins will be a triumphant over the prejudices associated with them.

Obama, as it is evident, has to battle on two fronts: first to prove the credibility of his ideas in confronting Hilary Clinton camp. The second is to convince the voters that colour shouldn’t be an issue as what matters is the person behind the colour and not the colour making the look of a person.

Obama, supposedly, the victim of his skin, is a striking example of the failure of the US cultural and educational system to eradicate racism after the eradication of slavery, which still continues to be a black part in American history.

His opponents will try to play down the race issue. The fact of some insisting on his past try implicitly to emphasize his black origins. The fact that he severed ties with his former pastor the Rev Jeremiah Wright is an indication that he wants to forcefully show that his allegiance to the country is more important than that to a particular church, which forms a small minority and a platform of attacks on the whole of the US policy. Perhaps Obama’s move to sever ties with his pastor is aimed at limiting controversies around him. After his apparent hesitant remarks about the Rev Jeremiah Wright that he couldn’t disown him, now he directly announces his complete separation of him in an attempt to unite more voters around him.

It can be easy to turn a new page vis-à-vis the Rev Jeremiah Wright. But it will be hard for him to change his political views 180° without paying dearly for that. The church membership can be seen as personal matter, but politics is an issue that interests every member of the society.

Should Obama and Hilary run together?

It can be possible if Barrak Obama and Bill Clinton agree to swap wives. Hilary and Obama married for convenience, they can agree to share power for the duration of their political marriage.

Seriously, for them to run together will pose a challenge as they can’t obviously agree on who should be the presidential candidate and who should be the vice president candidate. Both have apparently different political views. So it will be hard for them to change them to look harmonious without losing their potential voters who will see them ready to change their principles just for their personal advantages. As it is, the race should continue between them. The final judge will be the delegates who should reflect the will of those they represent.

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The right to nuclear energy

The UN’s nuclear watchdog has said it will investigate US claims that Syria was building a secret nuclear reactor with North Korean help. So does every country have the right to acquire nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy should be seen as an alternative to energy derived from fuel. The majority of the countries have no oil reserves. Their economy largely depends on the fluctuations of the oil market. Morocco is one of the countries that France will help build a civil nuclear energy industry to underpin its development.

The world population is getting more and more urban. Those living in the countryside want their share of access to technology. Oil isn’t endless. It’s time to think of developing alternative energies and making it accessible to every country indiscriminately.

Today there is the danger of the scarcity of drinking water. Nuclear energy can be a cheap means to desalinate sea water for many countries, which can also be used in irrigation to boost food production.

Nuclear energy shouldn’t remain just a weapon in the hands of developed countries like France and the USA which use it as a means of pressure or favouritism. Friendly countries are helped to acquire it while regimes opposed to them are scared into abandoning it.

There should be international cooperation to make nuclear energy available for peaceful purposes and why not have nuclear stations in every country run by an international team, which regularly briefs the International Atomic Energy Agency of all their operations?

Crime and imprisonment

Morocco is one of the countries with a large prison population totalling about 60,000 prisoners. There are all kinds of prisoners from drug dealers and violent criminals. Since the bomb attacks in Casablanca on May 16th, 2003, there have been prisoners considered as terrorists or with links to terrorist organisations. There were three major occasions in which up to 50,000 prisoners were freed. But in short time, prisons become again overcrowded with the same or new prisoners.

Morocco is planning to build new prisons to cope with overcrowding. It doesn’t seek to be soft on petty crimes or on people suspected of being sympathetic to terrorism or planning terrorist attacks. Currently there are about 2,000 prisoners that have been tried or being tried for terrorism charges.

At the same there are still criminals at large as the security forces is understaffed in comparison of the areas it should cover.

The latest news about prisons in Morocco is the escape of nine Islamist prisoners convicted of terrorist offences.

This will be a reason for the Moroccan authorities to be more vigilant. But at the same time the efforts of the security forces is now more centred on would be terrorists who are more dangerous than ordinary criminals.

The issue of prisons isn’t limited just of the number of prisoners and the expediency to arrest people. It has above all to do with human rights. In democratic countries, people are arrested for their felonies like murder and theft. In other countries where there is no democracy, people are also arrested for their opinions. The police use all means to arrest them, sometimes with trial, sometimes they are left to linger in prisons without being taken to court.

There are also the conditions of the prisoners who live in crowded and squalid prison. They are offered no means for rehabilitation. They spend their sentences just locked.

The reasons to imprison and release has to do with common laws. There is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights apparently adopted by all UN member countries. But still each country has its laws which determine the length of the sentences and the cases a person should be taken to prison.

The issue of prisons isn’t limited just of the number of prisoners and the expediency to arrest people. It has above all to do with human rights. In democratic countries, people are arrested for their felonies like murder and theft. In other countries where there is no democracy, people are also arrested for their opinions. The police use all means to arrest them, sometimes with trial, sometimes they are left to linger in prisons without being taken to court.

There are also the conditions of the prisoners who live in crowded and squalid prison. They are offered no means for rehabilitation. They spend their sentences just locked.

The reasons to imprison and release has to do with common laws. There is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights apparently adopted by all UN member countries. But still each country has its laws which determine the length of the sentences and the cases a person should be taken to prison.

The treatment of Muslim women

The treatment of women around the world still raises hot debates around the world regardless of religion or the political system. Women are still fighting for equal rights and protection from sexual harassment and violence. There is a difference between legislating equality or laws that give women a dignified status in their societies and the implementations of those laws.

In Europe women still need further empowerment as key posts in governments or corporation boards are still heavily dominated by men. Italy is a case in point.

Talking about the treatment of Muslim women, this should be dealt case by case. There are Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia where women have to live under the tutorship of men throughout their lives regardless of their education or age.

Why can’t men in Saudi Arabia allow the world to see Saudi women? Are they too beautiful so they are jealous about them? Or are they such ugly that they are ashamed the world will know about them? Are they too deficient in intelligence that they can’t have common sense and they are likely to tarnish the reputation and the honour of their male relatives? I simply wonder.

Women are badly treated because of the mentality of some men who see themselves as superior and that the women are deficient both in religion and intelligence.

The most horrific threat waiting for women in countries like Jordan and Syria is the killing of a woman by a close relative to save the family honour if found out having a sexual relationship outside marriage or simply suspected of doing so. In this society the killer can spend a prison sentence no longer than a year. That’s the kind of the worst treatment a Muslim woman can come to. Here is an article on BBC website about this issue.

It’s hard to generalise that all Muslim women are badly treated because of the customs and the laws. There are some Muslim countries, like Morocco where they are enjoying more freedom compared to women in countries like Saudi Arabia where a woman can’t do anything without a male tutorship.

There are other countries like Morocco where male tutorship has been abolished in all matters that concern women at the age of consent. Women here are free to travel abroad. They don’t need the consent of a male tutor to get a passport or a visa. They can travel inside or outside the country for studies, tourism or work. (You can see even some women among the illegal immigrants trying to cross from Morocco to Spain through the Strait of Gibraltar.

They are now free to choose their husbands. They no longer need the approval of a male relative. In the government there are now seven women holding positions from ministers to secretaries.

But this doesn’t mean it’s all white and black here. There is still the mentality that has more influence than the laws. Some women are still “coerced” to conform with traditions when it comes to relationship. It is still a shame for a woman to have a child out of wedlock as she can’t openly have a partner she can live with without a marriage contract.

A visitor to Morocco can notice the dichotomy of traditional women as well as modern ones in terms of appearances, behaviour and education. There are still those who believe in the right of men to dominate their lives according to their interpretations of religion.

On the whole the treatment of women depends on societies and communities. There are women who see no harm in getting a controlled treatment in all aspects of their lives. But there are those who are challenging such views citing women from past Islam eras who had their influence in their tribes or societies.

But it isn’t just how women are treated in their societies. It is how all members of societies are treated. Many societies still suffer from nepotism and a class system that put both women and men in awkward situations. Women can’t stand up to men. Men can’t stand up to change the system making them feel second class citizens in their countries. It’s a vicious circle that needs to be redressed by both men and women alike.

South Africa and Zimbabwe

South Africa has the means to put more pressure on Robert Mugabe to soften his attitudes regarding the opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai. It’s rather queer that the results aren’t released three weeks after the elections. Even recounting the whole votes wouldn’t have taken such a long time. This, maybe, Mugabe is preparing his own results. The opposition is powerless as the army and the courts are under the full authority of Mugabe. The army is on full alert to carry his orders as the courts are apparently politically geared to rule in favour of Mugabe’s decisions.

Zimbabwe is now a torn country. About a third of its population is now living in neighbouring countries, mainly, South Africa. There is a political discord as the political figures are unable to figure out a way out to the current situation even if it comes to power sharing to save the country from its currents crisis.

South Africa looks a lame duck as it has to put up with the consequences of Zimbabwe’s political crisis, mainly through the huge influx of the Zimbabweans on its territory. Thabo Mbeki alone can’t solve the political situation in Zimbabwe. It’s up to African leaders to have a united mediation to bring all the parties together. Imposing economic sanctions on this country will just drive it to complete anarchy and massive starvation. African leaders, especially those neighbouring Zimbabwe should have a common vision of what this country should be. Leaving it drift in its current situations is another disgrace to the whole of Africa, which is doomed to have a crisis ended only to be plagued by a new one. A stable Africa is still a dream as there are countries that can’t look normal without international interventions as it is the case in the Ivory Coast and DR Congo. Somalia is left on its own, making it lack the political infrastructure of a sovereign country.

Zimbabwe leaders should choose between being democratic as it is the case of Senegal or chaotic as it is the case in Somalia. Only the national will and fruitful international mediations can save Zimbabwe from falling into the abyss of total chaos.

Is Zimbabwe Africa’s sick man?

South Africa has the means to put more pressure on Robert Mugabe to soften his attitudes regarding the opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai. It’s rather queer that the results aren’t released three weeks after the elections. Even recounting the whole votes wouldn’t have taken such a long time. This, maybe, Mugabe is preparing his own results. The opposition is powerless as the army and the courts are under the full authority of Mugabe. The army is on full alert to carry his orders as the courts are apparently politically geared to rule in favour of Mugabe’s decisions.

Zimbabwe is now a torn country. About a third of its population is now living in neighbouring countries, mainly, South Africa. There is a political discord as the political figures are unable to figure out a way out to the current situation even if it comes to power sharing to save the country from its currents crisis.

South Africa looks a lame duck as it has to put up with the consequences of Zimbabwe’s political crisis, mainly through the huge influx of the Zimbabweans on its territory. Thabo Mbeki alone can’t solve the political situation in Zimbabwe. It’s up to African leaders to have a united mediation to bring all the parties together. Imposing economic sanctions on this country will just drive it to complete anarchy and massive starvation. African leaders, especially those neighbouring Zimbabwe should have a common vision of what this country should be. Leaving it drift in its current situations is another disgrace to the whole of Africa, which is doomed to have a crisis ended only to be plagued by a new one. A stable Africa is still a dream as there are countries that can’t look normal without international interventions as it is the case in the Ivory Coast and DR Congo. Somalia is left on its own, making it lack the political infrastructure of a sovereign country.

Zimbabwe leaders should choose between being democratic as it is the case of Senegal or chaotic as it is the case in Somalia. Only the national will and fruitful international mediations can save Zimbabwe from falling into the abyss of total chaos.

Glamorizing extreme thinness

Having the right weight has become an obsession for many young women to the point that having it means having it to the most minimum level. There have been many victims of thinness among models themselves. Spain and Italy are one of the first countries to make it illegal to employ super-thin models.

There are many dangers associated with starving one’s body to get extremely thin. This means depriving the body of the necessary minerals and vitamins. This can affect the firmness of bones after the menopause.

There are even few men who can accept to live with a skinny woman as a healthily fleshy woman has more appeal than a skinny one.

In some countries, as in Mauritania, the norm is that a woman should be extremely fat to have more appeal. But this isn’t without a price on her health. In this country, girls, after puberty, are made fat through the traditional force-feeding of young girls.

Perhaps the golden rule is that women should learn to live with their bodies as long as they don’t have health threatening excess in weight. Seeking to lose too many pounds for the sake of looking fashionable is only a cosmetic effort. Women should develop self-esteem through healthy diet and physical exercises. Starving to get thin is killing all body strength. As such, women can look “beautiful” but without enough substance to make a doctor certify that they’re actually healthy and they won’t have any health complications sooner or later.

African leadership and democracy

African leaders in the majority of cases have been disappointing because of the lack of democracy in their countries. Many conflicts in Africa were resolved through the intervention of Western forces as in Sierra Leone, Botswana and Liberia. DR Congo is relatively stable thanks to the UN forces. Darfur was a failure for the African peace keeping forces as no other international forces outside Africa were allowed in it. In other words, African leaders, when faced with crises, can’t sort it out themselves as each has alliances outside the continent.

Chad and Sudan signed a new peace agreement in Senegal, but that was during an Islamic, not an African conference. The annual African summit is just an occasion for meeting without any tangible agreement that ordinary Africans can see on the ground as Africa itself is divided into classical parts, the francophone zone and the Anglophone zone.

Many African leaders are power-manic. They can’t survive without clinching to power as long as possible by any means, like a change in then constitution allowing them to indefinitely stay in power or by vote rigging or intimidating and imprisoning their political opponents. It’s only pressure from the West that makes them bow to make token changes. But at heart the leadership remains in the hand s of the very few.

Africa has historical figure like Nelson Mandela who set the example to other African leaders that remaining in high esteem isn’t to stay in power until asked to leave by popular anger and a coup. Perhaps African leaders should learn from sports champions who leave the fields when they’re still at their apogee and not till they’re completely run out. For Mugabe, he saw his star ascending from the days of struggle against white rule until becoming president. But his intransigent policies and the desire to remain in power, for ever, blemished his image in the eyes of the majority of his countrymen. Had he stepped down before letting his country fall into complete economic chaos, he would now be seen as Zimbabwe’s wise man. Like Nelson Mandela he could have his statue erected in a famous London square or museum.

But as power corrupts , many African leaders are ready to sacrifice the future of their countries as long as they can secure their own future. When democracy becomes a real fact in Africa, elections in them won’t be an occasion for the world to follow them with irony and regret as it happened in Kenya. Perhaps, African politicians should learn how to make fair and free elections a reality. The losers should be the first to announce their defeat and to congratulate their opponents. When politicians go publicly against each other after the elections, it’s no wonder if their supporters bloodily clash in the streets.

African politicians must know that preserving the independence of their countries comes through making sacrifices for them. Intransigence on all sides will keep the continent the poorest in the world, not because it lacks riches, but simply because it lacks politicians with rich ideas to make its multiple miseries a matter of the past.

Food prices and world stability

Food prices have become expensive for the low-paid categories of third world societies. Rich countries, especially in Europe aren’t feeling the crunch because they have the technological means to keep the production stable as they have the money to import the food they can’t grow from developing countries whose economies depend on agriculture.

Food has become the new divide between the rich and the poor. Many governments are concerned about keeping their populations reasonably fed before they become faced with bread riots as it is now happening in many countries around the world. The well known cases are in Egypt, a principally desert country with a population topping 70 million people.

In Morocco, the basic commodities for the Moroccan population have seen a sharp increase surpassing 50% for cooking oil and more than 60% for flour in less than a year, despite these commodities being subsidized by the government.

The cost of living in Morocco has increased because of the soaring prices of housing, electricity ands water bills among other things while the wages are so far frozen, despite an increase not exceeding 10% for salaried workers while the private sector is reluctant to increase wages for its workers, citing foreign competition as the main factor. An increase in wages means an increase in the price of the products sold at home and abroad in face of Chinese competition among other things.

Hunger is a concern for the have and the have not, as it will intensify social tensions and the level of crimes, especially among the unemployed and the heavily disadvantaged populations. There is no need to return to historical periods as in the Middle Ages when hunger because of droughts followed with diseases used to sweep a large proportion of the world population.

Such a situation should be a wakeup call for scientists to concentrate on the means to produce cheap food needing little land and water. But it’s the economic calculations that stand in the way of improving the world food program. There are food companies fearful of the plunge in prices. For them food shortage means rapid benefits.

Currently the Earth can feed more than its current population. But the economic difficulties and the lack of cooperation between nations that makes lands remain barren. What if the world changes its tactics in fighting terror? The looming universal hunger can be the great terror awaiting at least poor countries. There are no armies to maintain peace if there are no full stomachs making people consider what best to make with their lives instead of daily continuous struggle to get basic food that their pockets can’t afford.

Pregancy and employment

Women should have the right to be pregnant and to keep their jobs. Raising a family is a private matter. The market shouldn’t dictate to a woman when she should be pregnant or the frequency of her pregnancies.

Companies should respect the nature of women and by this, the right to procreation. Enforcing regulations that force women to declare their family planning amounts to interference with personal matters. Economic concerns should be set aside when it comes to the fundamental right to keep or have a job.

Women shouldn’t pay a high price to become mothers or have more children by sacrificing job opportunities or the chances for a promotion. Some companies argue that pregnant women affect their level of productivity. But it’s highly unlikely that all working women in a company fall pregnant at the same time.

Companies should provide facilities for pregnant women as well as for mothers with babies. The advantage will be for the future generation as societies with low birth rate won’t be deprived of having more children as a consequence of stringent measures.

In Europe there is the problem of falling birth rate. France, to encourage women have more children has put on incentives for them. They can have a longer maternity leave and they can return to their jobs no matter how their maternity leave is. Here is a BBC report contrasting maternity leave in UK and France.

What is interesting in it is this section as far as women are concerned: “France offers all women workers a paid, job -protected maternity leave six weeks before and 10 weeks after the births of the first two children, eight weeks before and 18 weeks after the birth of the third child, 34 weeks (12 prenatally) for twins and 42 weeks (24 prenatally) for triplets or more. Maternity leave, pre and postnatally, is mandatory.”

At the end of maternity leave, the mother or father can take parental leave until the child reaches the age of three, with entitlement to re-integration into the previous or a similar job. Parents receive a parental leave allowance if they interrupt their employment, totally. “

In the third world country, educated mothers should be encouraged to have children as an educated mother can have a good effect on the education of her child.

In Morocco, women aren’t required to declare their pregnancies before getting a job. This hasn’t become a problem. The majority of women in Morocco are housewives or they practice informal economic activities either as self-employed or for a small private enterprise. Those working ion the public/state sector are free to have as many children as possible without having their salaries suspended or being replaced by another worker.

Whatever, the right of women should be preserved. They shouldn’t be forced to choose between being a mother or a worker. Both go hand in hand as long as there are laws allowing them to be mothers without taking the risk of being made redundant or remaining jobless.

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