British Labour Chief, a Jew Who Criticizes Israel, Walks a Fine Line

For article, click here

The distinctions between being a practicing Jew, an ethnic Jew, a secular Jew, an orthodox Jew can be confusing both for the Jew and Gentile alike. Ed Miliband, who is currently the leader of the Labour Party, the party not currently in power, finds himself balancing the question of what it means to be Jewish. At BYU and as Mormons it’s hard to imagine being Mormon and not being religious. We even have a special name for people who to not hold a certain level of orthodoxy, inactive. Something that further complicates being a Jew is Israel. Being Mormon entails no allegiance to SLC but in Jewish politics the line between being pro or against Israel holds a baggage that is not easy to shake off. By not supporting Israel, Ed Miliband stays within party lines while at the same time getting flack from those that they he is not being a good Jew. If he does become Prime Minister it will be interesting to see what direction he takes British foreign policy, especially in regards to Israel.

Ebola Travel Restrictions

CDC officials unveiled new travel restrictions for those who have visited West African countries suffering from Ebola outbreaks. Starting Monday, all travelers who have visited  Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone are required to provide email addresses and phone numbers for themselves and for at least one friend or family member.

Additionally, they are required to check in with health officials at state or local health departments every morning and evening. To these health officials they are required to report their temperature and any symptoms of Ebola, such as nausea, diarrhea, bleeding or muscle aches.

The regulations, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are meant to monitor everyone at risk of developing Ebola symptoms from an infection acquired overseas, while not shutting the borders and not overwhelming state and local health departments with having to hunt down hundreds of newly arrived visitors.

How do you feel about these travel restrictions? Are they too stringent? Too loose? What changes to these travel restrictions would you make if you were the made the “Ebola czar?” Should other Member States follow suite?

Read more about the travel restrictions here.

American In Pyonyang

It was reported by the New York times today that one of the Americans in North Korea has been freed. This is of course good news, but I am still unsympathetic to a international community that suffers the obvious atrocities to exist in the world. Every scrap of evidence out of the DPRK screams Holocaust. Yet, we as a free world can idly stand by? For heavens sake we fought the Nazi’s for many reasons and the Holocaust wasn’t even among them really, we didn’t discover the depth of Hitler’s insanity until after the war. Now we see the abuse that average men and women are suffering and we are somehow satisfied with UN studies? A country that detains foreigners and kills its own is horrible enough, but what happens when the two wires cross? What will America’s reaction be? If you read these posts of mine, you may think me somewhat of a war hawk, but I don’t think I am. I am, however, advocating that the entire world shouldn’t allow itself to be threatened by a tiny “wanna be” state sitting on a developing Nuclear Program. The stakes are higher and we are not rising to meet the demands that circumstance has supplied us. For the sake of human rights, for mankind’s freedom to know what is beyond the city walls, for the future the evil deeds of North Korea must be meet strong resolve, not minor pleas.

Justice found for Iraqis in Blackwater shooting

In 2007, a private security contractor, Blackwater, faced controversy when four of its guards killed 17 Iraqis in a crowded square. The New York Times reports Wednesday that the guards were convicted of murder and manslaughter. Because of a missed deadline and expired statute of limitations, three of the four guards were not convicted of murder. The guards claimed that they had been ambushed by insurgents. However, when they opened fire many civilians were killed.

This conviction took a long time to happen, and is a reflection of a huge controversy for the United States government. There is evidence that after the shooting the State Department actually cleaned up the scene before giving the contractors limited immunity. The trial was replete with scenes of devastation as witnesses testified about the gruesome and tragic civilian deaths.

These convictions represent a needed justice. It is unfortunate that the American government did not allow the prosecution to take place in Iraq to appease what was a clear breach of contract and international law, but hopefully these convictions will suffice for the atrocities committed.



A Step for North Korea – American Released Out of the Blue

After almost six months of being held by the North Koreans, American Jeffrey E. Fowle was released from captivity and allowed to return home. Fowle was travelling in North Korea on a tourist visa and accidentally left a Bible in his hotel room where he was staying. It is suspected that he was arrested for being “suspected of proselytizing his Christian faith, which is interpreted as a crime in a country that sees religion as a threat to the authoritarian government.” How sad it is that something so trivial as forgetting to grab a Bible while leaving a hotel room can lead to six months of suffering not only for Fowle but also for his family, his friends, the citizens of his town and America as a whole. As Americans, we take great pride in our citizens and always work especially hard to return imprisoned and kidnapped Americans back home. As such, there was great joy when the news of Fowle’s release was given; however, we must also remember the other two Americans being held in North Korea. As with everything else that is going on in the world, it seems as though the matters never end; we see something good happen and then we must remember the bad that comes after it. It is wonderful to see the release of Jeffrey Fowle without any excessive pressure from the American government; but, we must now look towards freeing the other two Americans and hopefully, in a perfect world, attempt to heal wounds between America and North Korea.

Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola

Despite its international status as an impoverished nation, Cuba is among the most robust in their efforts against Ebola.

Many nations have pledged large funds to the cause, but few have been willing to send much-needed medical professionals abroad. The Cuban government has trained 460 doctors and nurses for their new role in Africa and will be deploying them in waves. Recently a wave of 165 doctors and nurses arrived in Sierra Leone.

Cuba’s professionals will be among the most highly qualified foreigners providing aid abroad; In addition, many have already worked in Africa and are familiar with the culture and climate where they will be stationed.

The author states that it is a shame that the biggest donor (the US) and the biggest contributor of personnel (Cuba) are not on diplomatic terms to be able to coordinate efforts.  Since the posting of this editorial the Us has agreed to collaborate with Cuba in efforts against Ebola.

Despite Ebola’s terrible spread, the reality of the virus seems to have brought with it some good: nations have been reminded of our common mortality. Government stalemates abroad (esp. regarding Cuba and Russia) seem increasingly unimportant in the face of this international crisis and many countries have been willing to find common ground in order to better coordinate efforts.

Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola

Turkey Shows Some Cooperation in Kobani

The border town of Kobani has been holding off ISIS invasion for about a month now, while Turkey has watched without sending aid. Because of a complicated past with the Kurds, seen by the Turks as a terrorist group, Turkey has also prohibited Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross their border and assist the townspeople.

After a month of international pressure, Turkey has decided to let Kurdish forces to cross the border into Syria and fight. This could be seen as Turkish support for the anti-ISIS coalition led by the United States, but it also is an act of self-interest.  Turkey hopes that the Kurdish fighters crossing over will help shift animosity the Kobani Kurds may feel towards Turkey.  For Turkey, the sticking point in all this is one of morality: is it right to take on a potential terrorist group by aiding another? What do you think?

Hong Kong Protesters, Government Hold First Talks on Future of Democracy

As discussed here, student protesters and government officials sat down to discuss the protests and possible resolutions for the conflict. However, neither side was willing to make much in the way of concessions; the students demanded the Hong Kong government relate their concerns about the election process to China, but the government was staunch in their refusal to do so. If anything good came out of this, it is that these talks took place in an absence of violence; it is unfortunate that this can be considered such an unusually positive thing, but it of some comfort.

As concerning the results, I must admit my disappointment with the Hong Kong government. It is true that they are in a precarious position, and no doubt they worry about China’s repercussion were they to do anything more than simply report on the protesters’ demands, but their job is to care for the people of Hong Kong. A government should always have the best interests of its citizens as its first priority, and I simply don’t see Hong Kong following through on that expectation. It is unfortunate, but hopefully we’ll see a turn of heart before it is too late to make any substantive changes.

From Javan Slums to Jakarta Elite

Joko Widodo, who grew up in the city slums and worked as a small-business man and a carpenter, was just sworn in as president of Indonesia on Monday. He is the first president without ties to Indonesia’s military or political elite. Before becoming the president of the fourth most populous country in the world, he served as his hometown mayor. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and has the largest economy in all of Southeast Asia. Since elections on July 9, the country has experienced intense political turmoil, so finally that period is over.

Joko won against Prabowo Subianto, who was in a military office and is related to the late authoritarian president who was forced to resign. Prabowo, however, heads the opposition to Joko and controls a majority of seats and all the leadership positions in the House of Representatives. He has vowed to be obstructionist, opposing everything Joko does and accusing him of corruption. Although tensions run high between Joko and Prabowo, Prabowo attended the presidential inauguration and Joko referred to him as a “friend” during his speech.

During his time in office, Joko has promised to create a more “people-centric” government and to fight the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. In Indonesia, over 100 million people live on less than $2 a day. Many people see Joko’s victory over Prabowo as a battle between the commoner and the political elite and authoritarian past. Joko promised more government programs for farmers, fishermen, and other traditional laborers, and more money going towards healthcare and social services for those in poverty. He also wants to turn Indonesia into a “maritime power” since it is the worlds largest archipelago.

This has been a monumental and historic moment in Indonesian history; a positive and hopeful event for the common people and a troubling event for many of the country’s political and military elite.

Cochrane, Joe. “New Leader Takes Oath Of Office In Indonesia”. The New York Times. 21 April 2014. Print version.

School Discipline Replaced by Arrest

You would normally think that misbehavior found in schools would result in detention or school discipline. However, there is a good chance today that students will end up in the court or police custody. Outrageous violations found in middle schools and high schools all over the country are being given by police officers. Some of these include wearing too much perfume, getting in a fistfight, or sharing someone else’s lunch.

In 2012, jurisdictions were so overwhelmed by the 260,000 students who were referred to law enforcement, that they began sending students into specially designed courts that would help them avoid getting an arrest record. They have also passed new laws and policies to help police not be so involved with school discipline. Texas State Senator John Whitmire, helped pass a new law last year that limited how police officers can ticket students.

In the FBI’s master criminal database, nearly one out of every three American adults are on file. Police should be brought into schools for violence, but not to take care of students who are talking back, chewing gum and wearing too much perfume. I believe police need to center their focus more on criminal behavior, and not so much on school disciplinary issues.

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