Africa aid, a waste of money

Over the last 50 years Western governments have paid out more than £400bn of tax payers’ money in aid to Africa, but according to figures released by the World Bank this year, half of sub-Saharan Africans still live in extreme poverty a figure which has not changed since 1981.

Africans need to know how to help themselves before getting any foreign aid. For the many Africans in charge of distributing aids and managing them, it’s an opportunity to get richer at the expense at the expense of the poor who remain poorer.

When corruption is a shocking fact in sectors like education and health, the African population has little chances of getting out of its current poverty.

When African leaders have good managerial policies and the continents isn’t regularly drained of its brains that seek a better life; particularly, in the West, then aid will yield results. Now with corruption and efficiency sending aid to this continent is like sowing the best of fertile seeds in a barren land. Africans need to fertilize their methods and not to depend too much on foreign aid, out of which they currently just make a mess.

They have just to take the examples of countries like China and India who succeeded in revolutionizing their economies. Although, they aren’t benefiting the majority, at least such countries aren’t like Africa using a begging bucket with a brazen face as if nothing wrong had been done with previous aids and failure was an act of fate.

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What’s after the US losing its global domination?

US economic, military and political dominance is likely to decline over the next two decades, according to a new US intelligence report on global trends.

The US domination has always been a source of resentment. Its end may be a cause of celebration for those who have predicted its downfall, but it can also be a source of worry for those who will have to cope with the new emerging powers like China and India. Many will find it difficult to adjust to their domination.
The rest of the West will try to keep the USA in a leading role as they all share the same political and cultural values.

China, once becoming a world power, will just export its repressive measures to the rest of the world. It can be a superpower in, say, 20 years. But it’s unlikely that it will become a democratic country with a federal system. In other words, it’s very improbable that it will change its name from the Popular Republic of China to The United States of China.

The USA, with its vast resources, still has the means to keep its leading role. But it has to keep its efforts to do so on many fronts. In the past it used to be just the Soviet Union. Now it’s the EU, Russia, India and China -currently the most prominent blocks it has to contend with.

However, it doesn’t matter if the US domination is on the wane. What matters is the domination of democratic values and the prosperity around the world.

The US needs the world as the world needs it. But the world can survive with or without its domination. It’s up to the Americans to adjust themselves to the fact that they can’t be a superpower forever, in the same way that Britain adjusted itself after the WWII that it was no longer the biggest empire on earth and it had shrunk to a middle power with few territories to govern outside Great Britain.

It will be interesting to see how the US will look with its predicted geographic distribution; that is, it won’t have any racial majority, and with reduced global domination.

Is it right to carry out the capital punishment?

The death penalty should apply just when the crime is murder on intent and not in self-defence. The death penalty is hard and unacceptable when the crime is, for example, drug trafficking or theft. Countries like China and Iran apply the death penalty in cases when the offenders need just imprisonment and rehabilitation.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are some of the countries whose laws allow the execution of even minors. In Iran, there was the case of a girl who was executed for “lack of chastity”. Now there is a call for the end of child execution .

What is unacceptable is the swift execution of the accused when it emerges that the evidences were wrong and the supposed culprit was just a victim of the miscarriage of justice.

Those who can benefit from capital punishment are:
a) those who don’t want to spend their whole life in prison. So they prefer death as it was the case in Italy where hundreds of prisoners serving life sentences in Italy called on President Giorgio Napolitano to bring back the death penalty.
b) The relatives and friends of the victims who seek revenge and tough justice.
c) the state economy as it will be spared the expenses to keep the offenders alive till their natural death.

It’s up to society to decide the ethics of whether or not to execute offenders while considering the merits of execution case by case.

Children faced with parental and social abuse

child-abuse

The BBC WHYS started a debate about child abuse following the case of a baby, who suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of his mother and two men, was killed him in his own home despite regular visits from care workers.

Children have the right to live in a sound environment as childhood affects adult life. Parent who can’t rear and protect their children should have them removed from them. A child needn’t live under constant torture in his tender years. Sadist parents shouldn’t be allowed to mistreat their children by considering them as their own property and it’s nobody’s business to interfere with them.

A child’s place is in a family, not in an orphanage or a care centre. This means children shouldn’t be taken from their own parents only to be in a place where they feel uncomfortable and yearning to be like the majority of children surrounded by real kin. In other words, they shouldn’t be in an artificial atmosphere to make them feel at home, but actually, it isn’t a real home.

In many societies, children are abused by their parents by being frequently slapped or even beaten up by them. In these societies, there are no social workers to protect them.

In third world countries where the poverty of parents is coupled with the state incapacity to protect children in a difficult situation, it becomes common to see children exposed to all sorts of abuse at home and outside home because there are no means to snatch them from the situation in which they are.

In Morocco, there are care centres for abandoned children. However, they are just token centres as they have the capacity for only a very small number of children in a difficult situation.

In view of the lack of the means to protect these children, the authorities turn a blind eye, especially to parents who use their children and even babies for begging.

There are parents who give up their young daughters as old as five to work as maids and they are denied even access to school.

If children can’t have the chance to have a normal life, they should live with a relative willing to accommodate them and why not be given for adoption by families starving to have a child. Leaving children at the mercy of a cruel family and social problems means preparing them to be violent or diffident people. Their past childhood will continue to haunt them even when adults although they seem normal and stable.

Talk to the Taliban

The BBC WHYS had an exclusive interview with the Taliban spokesman.

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Here are the questions I sent to BBC WHYS of which he answered the first about drugs:

1) Drug is one of the sources of income in Taliban controlled areas in Afghanistan. Why do the Taliban turn a blind eye to its cultivation although Islam prohibits its production and trade?

Is drug also used as a weapon to fight the West as its use is aimed to weaken its population?

2) How strong are the links between Taliban and Iran? How influential is the Taliban in Pakistan politics?

3) Are you ready for a compromise with the West and the Afghan government for a durable peace in Afghanistan and the whole region from Iran to Pakistan?

4) What assurances can the Taliban give the West that they won’t support terrorism and surrender internationally wanted Al Qaeda terrorists who are enjoying its protection?

5) Can you guarantee the safety of all Afghans in case international troops leave Afghanistan?

6) Who are the main suppliers of the weapons with which you fight inside and outside Afghanistan?

7) The US forces have so far failed to put an end to your movement. What do you attribute this to? Is it
a) your fighting skills,
b) the geography of the region where you operate,
c) the number and quality of your followers,
d) your faith which gives you more determination to fight,

8) Iran envoy was abducted in Pakistan. Areas close to Peshawar – the biggest city in north-west Pakistan – are known to be Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds. How much is the Taliban involved in the killing and kidnapping of foreigners, especially diplomats and aid workers in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

taliban-drug

He answered my question about drugs, denying the Taliban have anything to do with it. This what he had to say:

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I response to his statement , I don’t think that the Taliban have no responsibility over the cultivation of drugs. During their rule, Afghanistan was the greatest exporter of drugs. Currently they have little financial sources other than trading in drugs. They can prohibit people in the areas they control from its consumption. But they allow its trade to foreign countries via Pakistan and Iran.

Their only argument can be that drug is cultivated even in government controlled areas, as the reports have shown its cultivation has increased even with the presence of international forces. But this doesn’t absolve them of having a big role in its cultivation. They have their own responsibility. In their war against foreign presence, they can legitimize anything that can be a source of money to get weapons across the borders with Pakistan and Iran.

Should the BBC have invited him?

Inviting a Taliban onto WHYS isn’t a propaganda for this movement. It’s better to give them time on air and to ask them challenging questions rather than keep the audience in the dark about what they stand for.

Refusing to have them on air can be viewed as an anti-Taliban position by the BBC. The BBC had many interviews with the IRA. That didn’t sway public opinion in its favour despite its high rhetoric. What put an end to its armed conflict was the political settlement it had with the British government through international mediation, especially from former US president Bill Clinton.

What matters in inviting any spokesperson for any group, criminal, political or terrorist, is to maintain a balance and to expose different views, leaving the audience take their decisions.

After all, the Taliban have their means to speak loud an clear through websites, followers and “spectacular” operations. Banning them from the BBC altogether will reinforce their view that the West is altogether against them and it is a reason for them to continue fighting through arms and propaganda.

Many thanks to Mr Frank Gardner for his interesting and invaluable contribution to the show. He has been more placed to speak to and about the Taliban since he himself was the victim of Al Qaeda barbaric attack.

I salute him for his courage to continue his coverage of Al Qaeda although he himself was its victim in Saudi Arabia. The fact that he continues his work as a journalist in the Middle East although he continues to bear Al Qaeda scars that have crippled him permanently shows that Al Qaeda can’t destroy the spirits of those they seek to destroy.

At least the show has shown that Taliban is the other side of the Al Qaeda coin although its spokesman tried unconvincingly to disassociate his movement from its terror attacks or rather to deny that it has anything to do with terrorism.

Does everyone have the right to job?

It is everyone’s right to have a job as this means relative personal independence and not living on handouts.

To go to a bank to draw one’s wages isn’t the same as queuing in front of a social assistance centres like a beggar to get financial help.
What is dreadful about unemployment is when it becomes massive, making the unemployed feel worthless and insecure. 5% unemployment isn’t the same as 50%.

In developed countries, people don’t starve if they don’t have a job. They can get free food at least from charity organisations. In poor countries, people essentially work to have what to eat.

Having a job is a fundamental right, especially those who have no other means to survive. Only lazy people accept to be jobless as long as they have secure means. For many people retirement isn’t appreciated even if they can have a good pension, as it means for them the start of empty days with nothing to do.

Here is a reactionary view: Only men have the right to work .Women should find husbands to provide for them and leave the labour market to men! This is at least what some think. They put the blame on sex equality which has made men vulnerable to unemployment when there is a financial crisis.

However, the right to work applies to everyone, especially the physically disabled and the relatively old. This category still suffers from discrimination, not to mention racial attitudes in countries like France where French citizens of immigrant parents find it hard to get a job despite their qualifications.

When there is a recession, employers have the ground to manoeuvre for the employment of who they want regardless of labour regulations, which can extend to exploitations by imposing working extra hours and offering a lower pay. What matters in this case isn’t just having a job but working in dignity and not being enslaved to unscrupulous employers.

Is the death penalty essential to fighting terrorism?

It can be easy to execute a terrorist. But the challenge is to execute terrorism itself that is spreading in different parts of the world.

Determined terrorists have no fear of death as they consider it as a means to further their perceived notion of jihad. Executing them doesn’t mean much to them as long as- according to their views- they would live in the heart of their supporters and their terrorist act(s) would secure them a place in Paradise.

However their execution is good for society as it will be cleansed of them. It’s better to bury them instead of living them alive as a living memorial of their acts. it is also a means to give relief to the friends and relatives of the victims.

Not executing terrorists means they will have a life imprisonment. This means it will be even more costly to society as they will have to be put in top security prisons and ironically enjoying more protection than ordinary criminals.

Even the repentance of the terrorists doesn’t mean much to society or to the relatives of their victims. Justice should be carried out. What matters is that terrorists should be given fair trial. In other words, terrorism shouldn’t be politicized just to give reason for repressive measures. Human rights should be respected for those who respect humanity and not for those who act in barbaric way.
The worst terrorist ideology is the one based on the hatred of people of other faiths and their systems of life. Perhaps there should be a prescription to kill the mentality fostering terrorism instead of killing just the terrorists that can be easily replaced by more zealous ones who see life as worthless without destroying as many innocent lives as possible.

Execution isn’t essentially a deterrent against further terrorist attacks. But at least it minimises the number of potential terrorists. Having a strong law to deal with terrorism is better than wasting time debating whether a general amnesty can make potential terrorists think twice and regain the mainstream instead of continuing to drift in unknown paths in the hope of being upgraded in this life and after death.

What should Obama’s priorities be?

Obama was elected on a single day. It’s unlikely that he can solve all the problems in his term as president. There is the legacy of the outgoing administration concerning international conflicts and the financial crisis affecting the major economies.

In politics, it is hard to predict how the events can turn out as from time to time there are emerging crises. But as the president of the most powerful country on earth, Obama has to balance foreign policies with domestic ones. In other words, he should take popular policies at home and abroad to help the US gain its lost credibility around the world due to the unpopular outgoing Republican administration and to materialize the change for which he has been campaigning.

Perhaps his priority should be to redress the US economy to help the ordinary American feel secure and not under of the threat of poverty and redundancy. In foreign policy, he should solve the problems in the Middle East as the end of the conflict in this region means less spending on defense and more money in the national economy. In other words, peace in this region means billions of dollar in the US treasury rather than on the battle zones, particularly in Iraq.

Barack Obama, a president for change

Barack Obama has won a historic victory. He campaigned for change. His election will show the world that in the USA has really changed its race attitude and anyone can really be a president.

The Americans have voted for the first black president. This has broken the pattern that the US president is elected only when white and Christian.In the future, it won’t be a surprise if there will be a Hispanic president or a president of Asian decent. There are other categories in the USA that are still on the waiting list: Jews, Hispanic, Muslims, and Asians etc.

The victory of Obama has once again shown that the USA is an exemplary democracy. But it hasn’t created a more equal world. There are still minorities in different parts of the world struggling for political rights and it will be a rare possibility for them to have one of their members get to the highest position.

What is interesting about Obama’s victory is that it is a foreshadow of what America is expected to be in 40 years; that is with no racial majority. From now on, the Americans must get used to having presidents of different races, origins and why not religions. Obama has opened the gate for the expected change. It is unlikely that anyone can shut it to return the US politics to “white majority rule”.

Let’s remember American movies with wishful thinking that the US might have a black president. That appeared then just an imagination. The most memorable movie, I think is Head of State . Such movies are just a matter of the past. Now there is a real black president. It’s also thanks to Hollywood black artists like Will Smith that Obama has become the new Occupant of the White House.

Obama will show that the US is a really united country and race is a matter of the past. From slavery, to liberation, to fight for civil rights and finally to getting to the White House, the black struggle has come full circle. Obama -the son of an immigrant from a third world country- becoming president shows the American dream is still alive and anyone can make it to the top.

The fact that the Americans who voted for Obama were unreservedly excited, screaming tearfully with joy, shows that the majority have reconciled themselves with the past. The USA has proved that the Americans can be equal and distinguished on merit. Many countries have to follow their footsteps, instead of having leaders elected for life or a party dominating political life without allowing multipartism or dissent. Obama has succeeded in shaking many concepts and making the world debate this “new dawn” in US political landscape. It took the US decades to come to this. Other countries still need further decades to be on equal democratic basis with the USA. Let’s live long enough to see this happen!

US elections, expectations and suspense

Tomorrow the world will be holding its breath as the curtain will fall after more than a year of political drama in the USA, through campaigning, exchange of accusations on the part of candidates from both sides.

The world is having more interest in these elections, not only because of candidates, which some see as heroes in a movie- one black, the other white, but also because of the US economic conjuncture which can drag the whole world with it if it is not redressed at the right time.
If black Obama wins, a glittering page will open in the history of the USA, concreting not only the dreams of real Americans who believes that America is for all Americans regardless of race or gender, but also those of the Founding Fathers whose objectives was to make the Union more perfect.

I am not Americans, but like the majority of people interested in these elections, there is a sense of suspense. Tomorrow, we’ll definitely hear,”the winner is ……….!” The loser will vanish from the spotlight. Let’s wait and see.

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