Taliban Kills 145 at Public School

School children escorted outsideThe Taliban has a history of violence. In the past they bombed or burned over 1,000 schools. They also shot Malala Yousafzai because she was a famous advocate for girls’ rights. They also targeted and attacked healthcare workers who were working to stop the spread of the polio virus. The Pakistani Taliban’s war has affected the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. On Tuesday of this week, the Taliban executed their most deadly attack ever.

Over the span of 8 hours, beginning at 10am, a group of 9 disguised gunman hopped the school wall and assaulted children between the ages of 5-17 and teachers at a public school in Peshawar. They killed 132 school children and 13 adults. They fired at everyone they saw in the corridors and auditoriums. Some of the students were lined up and shot in the head. Others were shot as they hid under their desks. Some students were forced to watch their teachers get shot. The gunmen also threw grenades into classrooms.

Teachers elsewhere in the school realized what was happening and canceled class and tried to help the children evacuate. Some children were able to escape the building.

Parents crowded around the school gates listening to the attacks, praying that their children would survive. The town of Peshawar has already suffered attacks from the Taliban within the past 7 years. Mourners gathered at mosques that evening to pray and find comfort.

Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Khurasani, explained that the attack was in response to the continuing military operation against the Taliban members acting in the north. They targeted the Army Public School because serving army personnel’s children attend that school. However, some civilian’s children attend as well. The Taliban wanted This initiated outrage from around the world and elicited support and sympathy towards the mourning community and families. Even some other militant groups condemned the attack as un-Islamic and expressed sympathy for the victims’ families.

It was found later that the gunman were intending to mount a long attack; they even brought stores of food. A security official said,

They were there to kill, and this is what they did.

He said they had no intention of taking hostages. Many of the gunmen also wore suicide vests. The school grounds became a battleground when commandos from the army stepped in to try and gain control.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for an emergency meeting of all politicians the day after the shooting and said,

This is a time for us to show unanimity to root out militancy.

While Pakistan has suffered many bloody atrocities in the past, the country’s leaders still haven’t found a solution to the Taliban insurgency.

This act is even being condemned by other militant groups. Attacks keep happening and will continue to happen if proper action is not taken agains the Taliban. How should this be addressed?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/world/asia/taliban-attack-pakistani-school.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news#

Pentagon to Press Russia on Arms Pact Violation – NYTimes.com

Tags

, , , ,

During fall semester 2014 we heard from Rose Gottemoeller on the importance of  the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with the Russian Federation. She is in the news–playing lead spokesperson and, in response to a 1987 treaty violation by Russia, the U.S. has an answer:

The Pentagon options, Mr. McKeon said, include deploying new defenses against cruise missiles; exploring whether to deploy American ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe, a step that would also be counter to the treaty; and building up other military capabilities.

Rose Gottemoeller, the senior State Department official for arms control, told the panel that the administration was also considering “economic measures,” though she did not detail what such punitive steps might be.

“To date, Russia has been unwilling to acknowledge its violation or address our concerns,” said Ms. Gottemoeller, who led a team of American officials that visited Moscow in September in an unsuccessful effort to resolve the issue. “They have not acknowledged the missile.”

via Pentagon to Press Russia on Arms Pact Violation – NYTimes.com.

Strength in Beatings: Bipartisanship in action

In a session of the house committee on oversight and government reform Jonathan Gruber, an economist from MIT that consulted on ObamaCare, was a bombarded by comments on both sides of the isle. Chairman of the standing committee, Darrell Issa of California, spoke bluntly in regards the Dr. tribes remarks that the process of passing ObamaCare was intentionally opaque in order to ensure its passage. In essence Mr. Issa made a comparison to Forrest Gump claiming that he was an incredibly successful man that was incredibly stupid and so was Mr. Gruber. Following Mr. Issa’s comments democrat Elijah Cummings repeatedly used the word “stupid” to describe Grubbers comments. While Grubber remained remorseful he tried to soften the blow by clarifying his statements and even recanting some. Campaigning season is not far away. As The United States approaches another election in the face of many issues domestically in the form of racial violence, healthcare, and the economy as a whole as well as I ternational issues such as the persisting threat of IS and Russia I am optimistic that Republicans and Democrats can work together. This is not only because of the verbal beating if Dr. Grubber, but a spirit of cooperation forged by Republicans in several different committees, one of the brightest examples being the oversight committee.image

Made Rich by U.S. Presence, Many in Kandahar Now Face an Uncertain Future

For article click here

It is interesting to see how the dynamics in Afghanistan have changed so much in such a short period of time. A little more than ten years ago the city of Kandahar was controlled by the Taliban and today it is transitioning from a Western led, semi-forced democracy, to a self governed city. The wealthy residents who have filled the vacuum once the Taliban left, are finding that as the Americans leave their security is becoming threatened. Having helped the Americans during the war, they find themselves considered traitors by those who fought and continue to fight Western forces. As one prominent warlord said, “We want schools, not graveyards for the dead.” Hopefully the country can head in that direction.

Following the First World War the territories of the Middle East were divided into nations the boundaries of which completely ignored ethnic groups in favor of economic strength. The decision surrounding that period of time have echoed throughout the 20th and the 21st century as a the common ancestor for most violence in the region.

However, according to the New York Times the government of Iraq and the Kurds of the nations northern most territories have reached an agreement in the wake of the I.S. threat. Arms and oil will flow more freely from the government to Kurdish forces fighting I.S.

This deal is a move in the right direction as it acknowledges as difference between Kurds and Shia (and indirectly Sunnis). Proposals have been made in the past in the international community for the division of Iraq and other middle Eastern countries who face similar pasts. However, these idea have been set aside due to chaos in the international political organizations that debate the issues. Still, there are example of new nations being successfully separate because of ethnic or religious differences. South Sudan and East Timor have both separate in the past decade and presumably are receiving the benefits of the split.

U.S. Pledges to Fight Islamic State ‘For as Long as It Takes’

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the international fight against ISIS appears to be moving forward favorably, while Secretary of State John Kerry said they were going to continue the fight for “as long as it takes.” Successful techniques included air strikes against strategic projects like oil infrastructure, and those involved in the discussion seemed optimistic that the Islamic State would eventually be defeated.

There is no doubt that progress against the Islamic State is a positive thing; they have committed a number of atrocities, and many people ignorant of their true nature have been deceived into joining their cause. However, I have two main concerns with this attitude. The first problem I see is that we, as a country, have been quite confident in the war on terrorism for many, many years, and yet we have made little progress there. Is ISIS a terrorist organization? Perhaps not, but I believe they will be similarly hard to stamp out in any truly permanent way. The second problem I see is that “our side” seems far too eager to use violence to accomplish their goals. Again, perhaps this is truly necessary, but I worry that they may get so eager to win at all costs that they end up causing significant harm to the region and to innocent non-combatants. I hope I am merely being pessimistic about this whole affair.

Common Name Banned from Use by North Korean Leader

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un

Imagine the U.S government banning parents from naming their children a common name such as John or Emily. That is exactly what happened in North Korea recently with a common name for both males and females, Jong-un. The supreme leader, Kim Jong-un is the only person who is legally allowed to have that name. Even people who already are named Jong-un must change their name and register with new ones. In North Korea, propagandists treat their leader and other previous leaders as godlike figures. Kim Jong-un’s late father and grandfather both decreed the same policy that no other North Korean could have the same names (Jong-il and Il-sung).

This policy is being enforced by the governing Worker’s Party and internal security agencies. North Korea’s totalitarian government ensures that its ruling family is among the modern world’s enduring personality cults. They have taken other actions to present the leaders as godlike. Homes and offices must bear the portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il on their walls and cities display landmark statues of these men. North Koreans also must wear lapel pins that have the image of these past leaders on them. The leader’s birthdays are also national holidays. Furthermore, similar to the Y on the mountainside here in Provo, prominent cliffs and mountain sides bear slogans pledging loyalty to the Kim family. Gates to farms and factories also display these slogans.

It was expected that Kim Jong-un would implement this policy since his forefathers did as well. Does this policy greatly affect the lives of North Korean people as much as the other totalitarian policies? Why or why not? I also find it interesting that everything in this article reported about North Korea was via South Korea. The North Korean government is truly closed off from the world.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/world/asia/kim-jong-un-north-korea-name-ban.html?ref=world

Young Women Joining the Islamic State

Recently, it is becoming clear that jihadists in the Middle East are trying to recruit a new demographic: young girls across Europe.  They do this over the internet, starting innocent conversations over things like makeup, and then introduce more radical conversation.  They sometimes even offer marriage to the girls.  Many girls are sneaking off to Turkey, and then crossing over to join the IS.  In cases where this is not possible, the jihadists are encouraging the girls to strike in their home countries, where they will not be as quickly profiled as young male terrorists.  Most of these girls come from Muslim families and feel alienated in Europe because of their religion.

What kind of education or other measures could the European governments take to help prevent these young women – and the young men – in these communities from being seduced to violence and joining these extreme movements?

Netanyahu Fires Ministers and Calls for Elections

Less than two years after elections Prime Minister Netanyahu is calling for the dissolution of parliament. At the earliest, elections would be held in March. The call for an early election was a decision made by Prime Minister Netanyahu alone, and according to experts, his motives are political and not ideological.

Prime Minister Netanyahu recently fired his Finance and Justice ministers claiming their opposition and criticism made it too difficult to govern. After the last election Mr. Netanyahu was forced to make a coalition that was inconvenient and tenuous. Leaders within his coalition disapprove of his stance on the current nationality bill as well as the housing the bill. The also have accused him of creating tension and drawing criticism from the United States unnecessarily. It is Mr. Netanyahu’s hope that elections will result in new elected leaders and the possibility of a more malleable coalition.

It’s unfortunate that Prime Minister Netanyahu would call elections simply because he is unhappy with criticism regarding his foreign policy rather than work with those that disagree with him to find common ground.

China’s system of online censorship

A Chinese-American Internet conference will be held this week in Washington. Among the many executives of the tech industry and American officials there will be Lu Wei – Communist Party propaganda chief and “China’s new Internet czar.”

Mr. Lu has been the head of the State Internet Information Office since 2013. Since taking on the new position, Mr. Lu worked on perfecting and improving “the world’s most sophisticated system of online censorship.” The conditions of Internet in China are very important for the American businessmen, because free and uncensored Internet in China would mean for the U.S. better access to the biggest market in the world. However, Mr. Lu is unyielding. He believes that false and misleading information on Internet can lead to mismanaging of the capital and disrupting of markets. Mr. Lu says that countries and businessmen should recognize and respect “national sovereignty” on the Internet, and that it is a country’s right to regulate the Internet within the country however the government sees fit.

Mr. Lu’s position is at odds with the human rights advocates who see free expression on Internet as a basic human right. But Mr. Lu claims, that information security ensures financial and economic security and supports national security.

Mr. Lu’s position toward the Internet shows the government’s fear and insecurity. For the government of China the Internet, if uncensored, poses a threat of destabilizing and even overthrowing government. Arab Spring and leaks by Edward Snowden illustrate that the Chinese government’s fear is very real. If Mr. Lu thinks that free online expression can lead to political and economic unrest, he must realize that there are some shortcomings in the political system, and the suppressing of the public opinion can help prevent any open hostility.

I am interested to see for how long China will follow its current position toward Internet. Social media is power that belongs to people, but even there Mr. Lu managed to establish control by talking and threatening the most influential social media personas. Internet can pose all kinds of threats to governments, and who controls what is still a hot debate even in the United States. However, China and the U.S. are taking different approaches to the problem, and it will be interesting to see what results each way will produce.

Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/world/asia/gregarious-and-direct-chinas-web-doorkeeper.html?_r=0

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers