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Outsider Views - Never Losing Hope

: A Tough World This Week
It has been another tough week around our World. The Revolution in Ukraine has dominated the news. The Ex-President surfaced in Russia and claimed that he was still President that the Ukrainian Parliament was headed by Fascists. He also claimed poverty. It was laughable to say the least. This is as sabre rattling continues with the Russians flexing their muscle in Crimea and the US warning Russia about consequences.

Insurgencies in and around Africa continues ever more. The killing fields of Syria continue onward. Turkey is in a state of profound upheaval as the Turkish Prime Minister is caught coaching his Son on trying to get rid of millions of dollars. He says they are a fake. Yet, it was such evidence that convicted hundreds of Turkish Officers to cut the Turkish Armed Forces down to size. Yet, what was so striking to note was Jordan. Jordan was found to be 4th water scarce country in the world after Syria which was the 3rd.

Moving on to the Americas, Venezuela's protests continue. Some continue to insist that Maduro is elected and cannot be overthrown. Yet no sense of accountability is at hand since Maduro moved up the carnival to avoid the hard questions. This is a country on a crime spree and and a 54% inflation rate. Goods are scarce and there is no end in sight. But, I was so gratified to see some bit of justice be done: The daughter of the former President of Chile, Salvador Allende, was named the President of Chile's Senate. She would be putting the Presidential Stash on Michelle Bachelet, whose father was tortured by the thugs of the Pinochet Regime and who herself was also imprisoned and tortured. President Elect Bachelet also was the only leader in Latin America to come out against Maduro and his policies.

It is not an easy thing to be hopeful about the World. These leadings light of humanity reminded us to be human and to remain hopeful. There is no other way:

You must not lose faith in humanity.
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty,
the ocean does not become dirty.
- Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

We cannot despair of humanity,
since we ourselves are human beings.
- Albert Einstein

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.
It's a relationship between equals.
Only when we know our own darkness well
can we be present with the darkness of others.
Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
- Pema Chodron

2013: Quite a Year

December 22nd 2013 04:52
: A Retrospective On Our World...and Gearing Up 4 2014
Celebrating the Holidays
Never Losing Hope

It has been quite a year of war, famine,continued economic and environmental calamity as every region of the World has had its' share of challenges.

As I write this final retrospective of the year, fighting rages on in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. The French and African Union have deployed troops The insurgency in Nigeria's Northern Region continues ever so. Continued Economic and Social Deprivation in South Africa continues to besiege a rainbow society. Mo Ibrahim did not his annual Ibrahim because of the profound challenges in leadership in Africa during 2012. But, as a commentary in the November 2 edition of the Economist noted, there is reason for hope as many in Africa are beginning to move away from Minerals and Oil. This is one of the themes that would be pursued during 2014.

As for the Middle East, it continues to be as challenging as ever. Not a day passes that there are reports of new deaths in Iraq. An Iraqi Division Commander and a number of his officers were killed during violence in Anbar Province. The atrocities in Syria is also heart-wrenching to review daily as I assess the reports that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights . The situation is also ever so challenging in Turkey as it was besieged by protests and with the latest corruption allegations against the Prime Minister and his party. The Turkish Lira's collapse is indicative of the markets reacting to this latest development. This is as the Arab Spring is yet to fulfill its' promise as Marwan Bishara of Al Jazeera noted recently:

"The promise of the Arab revolution was - and remains - a break with repressive authoritarian and totalitarian regimes to pave the way towards an era of freedom, dignity and prosperity. Never in the history of the region have people been so hopeful, so ready, and so adamant to change their lives for the better as they were in 2011. Never have the spread, speed, and similarity of uprisings across continents been so breath-taking, and the contagion, so instantaneous. Never have the young and old, men and women, middle class and working class worked so closely and so satisfyingly. Never have the religious and secular, the liberal and conservative marched so trustingly in the streets and public squares of the Arab world as they did at the outset of this revolution. Never have their voices been raised FOR rather than AGAINST something or someone. Never have their demands been so just, so universal, and so timely. Never has a revolution been so peaceful, so passionate, and so "pleasant". But the "ancient regime" and its reactionary forces saw in all this an existential, zero-sum conflict that would end their influence, privilege and any chance of governing again, and so have been as adamant on maintaining power. And towards that end, they've used all necessary means to stem the tide of revolution."

Iran, though, has also had its' share of profound challenges as it deals with the aftermath of the disastrous 8 years of the Presidency of Ahmadinejad. It has profound challenges Economically, Environmentally and Socially that will continue to challenge The Rouhani Adminstration for quite some time. His 100-Day Report that was discussed during a 2-hour live interview with Iran's State Television is quite telling.. The Government of Iran has been quite busy as shuttle diplomacy continued to work to transform Iran beyond the years of Ahmadinejad. It culminated in the historic agreement that was signed. The reaction by Iranians on the street was indicative of the psychological boost given. Unfortunately, though, there are moves in the Congress of the United States to undermine it--despite warnings by the President of The United States and the current Iranian Leadership.

The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations dissipated from public view--and it so happens that nothing came of it again--except resignations and claims by Israelis that they wanted peace. The misery on the ground was further exasperated by the harsh winter that covered the entire Middle East that caused floods and added to the misery being faced by the ordinary man and woman on the street. One bright spot, though, was the rise of the women. Senior appointments by President Rohani in Iran and the rise of Musawah is among the themes that will be pursued in 2014.

Europe has also had its' share of challenges. It was amusing to see how Vladimir Putin played the public relations game as he did as he signed the decree releasing Mikhail Khodorkovsky from prison. The Pussy Riots Group Girls have also been released--as have 20,000 other prisoners as Russia gears up for the Winter Olympics. Putin has one objective in mind: To showcase the fact that Russia is back. This is as he extended Ukraine Twenty Billion Dollars for it to avoid joining Europe. Europe, though, lost its' credit rating in large measure due to the continued challenges being faced on the economic front as individual countries continue to struggle with recovery. Although the economic decline has been halted, the harshness of the policies has been quite stark. Beyond the celebrations in Sochii, though, there are minefields that Europe that it will have to deal with. The independence movements in Scotland and the Catalonia Region of Spain will be assessed as part of the on-going evolution of Europe.

The changes in the Americas is also quite fascinating. Michelle Bachelet got her old job back as Chile's President--in large measure thanks to the dissatisfaction with the outgoing President's policies. I was quite fascinated to see how the leader of the Student Movement that began the transformation has made her way to Chile's Congress. Brazil, though, continues to deal with the aftermath of the challenges being faced as it gears up for hosting the World Cup in 2014. It was fascinating to see that the residents of Rio's slums were offering rooms to folks because hotel space was scarce. This is as Venezuela continued its' slippery slope into the near abyss with the near dictatorial powers granted to Nicholas Maduro.

As for the United States, Obamacare went live. The initial roll out was an absolute disaster at the Federal Level--although the 16 States that decided to launch their own exchanges seemed to fare better. This was overshadowed by the shutdown of the Government. But Congress did end up with a Budget Agreement that everyone seemed to agree with. People need to recognize though that the Budget is the blueprint--it is the appropriation process that would help drive how the "blue print" is spent. It was at least a start. There is one thing that did not occur: An attempt to get some semblance of control on Guns. What was fascinating was how those in the State of Colorado who had spearheaded the moves for Gun Control were defeated. It was also fascinating to see how the US Department of Energy noted in a recent report that Clean Energy could choke the Electrical Grid in the United States--not withstanding the major push by California. The Economic Recovery has continued--which has resulted in the Fed deciding to pare back its' asset purchases as it has reaffirmed its' commitment to near zero interest rates to continue. The implications of the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden continues to haunt America and the World. A commission appointed by Barack Obama came back with 46 recommendations. What was disturbing as this was unfolding was how those came up with the policy forgot Ben Franklin's Admonition that, "..“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Asia, though, is the powerhouse of the World--there is no denial. China launched its' Jade Rabbit (which has landed on the Moon). This is as it continues maintaining its' orbital space station. India's Mars Mission is continuing onward. But, these two giants of our planet continue to be besieged by challenges as 2014 is before us. The corruption that continues to eat away at China is enough of a concern that the December 21 edition of the New York Times reported on a Mao-Era strategy being brought back by the current President to conduct self-criticism sessions to cleanse and learn from mistakes. This is as the Communist Party continues to deal with its' long-term viability and role in running China. The 3rd Plenum of the 18th Communist Party Central Committee Meeting ushered in new Market-Oriented policies that underscored the primacy of markets as it tries to figure out how to maintain growth. This is as it has had to deal with profound environmental degradation which resulted in its' commercial capital, Shanghai being shut down due to the pollution. India is also facing an election that Modi, the Candidate of the BJP, has a reasonable chance of winning. It will be simply fascinating to see the elections as 1 Billion of our brothers and sisters in India go to the poles. The shocking arrest and execution of Kim Jung Un's uncle in North Korea was quite a development that will continue to haunt that part of the World for quite some time.

Moving down to the "land down under", Australia's transformation has been quite fascinating to observe as well. Tony Abbott is an interesting character to observe--for now, he's apparently on a path of blaming only as the new budget has been rolled out and about the deficit that labor left. Whether he can transform Australia in his image remains to be seen.

I end this retrospective with a personal note: The plight of Malalai Joya. She's a former member of Parliament in Afghanistan who has been a leading advocate of human rights and woman's in her land. I had the pleasure to attend a talk she gave in the United States during 2013. Her courage and determination to do what she can was inspiring. She's the example of what can be within the realm of the possible--not withstanding the current options on successors to Karzai. He's yet to sign the Security Agreement with the United States. 2014 is the year that Americans are supposed to come back home.

It is not easy to be hopeful with such a challenging World that is before us. But we can retain a sense of hope through the power of a smile:

"Outsiders" will be taking a holiday sabbatical as we gear up for 2014. We wish all the very best during this joyous season as Christmas is celebrated throughout the World, Kwanza is so in Africa and other parts of the World . We look forward to continuing onward with the deliberations of our World as we begin a new session starting on January 15, 2014 here in "Outsider Views".

Happy Holidays to all.

A New Year Has Begun....

January 20th 2013 06:29
: ..and Quite a Year it has been so far...

Welcome to another year here in "Outsiders

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: When will he go?
I had a chance to catch Blood Diamonds recently. This is a film that depicts the civil wars in Sierra Leon, Liberia that was fed through a trade in Diamonds which was supported by the thug Qaddafi. Yet, there is still somewhat of a move to try and save this thug and his family. Why is the World even wasting its' time for someone who has such blood on his hands? I also wonder where the World was as Gaddafi continued on?

Hugo Chavez proposed to mediate in the LIbyan Dispute. Gadaffi has accepted the offer and Amr Mousa has approved the effort. Why won't Gaddafi just leave? Why doesn't he understand that his time is up? Susan Rice, the US UN Ambassador said it best when she noted how dellusional he was. I also hope that the ICC will go after Gaddafi and his family in a major way

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Meanwhile in Iran....

November 26th 2009 00:40
: Will Things Change?

Ahmadinejad has been quite busy traveling. I was very happy to see him smiling with Lula. Lula made the move because he wants to be a player. I admire Lula and wrote about him in OV's sister site, Kitten politics. But, I respectfully think that the respect accorded to this man was a bit much as Iran continues to be grabbling with the challenges that it faces. I also saw how the Bolivians were so enthusiastic to see him

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: Will He Come to his senses?
Hugo Chavez is on the war path. He has instructed his military to prepare for war with Colombia. I am truly trying to understand why Chavez is beating the drums for war.
As I assess his "evolution" as a leader, I see some close parallels between him and his pal Ahmadinejad in Iran.

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Mr Chavez Latest Escapades

September 17th 2009 06:13
: That's Why I love this.........
Hugo Chavez continues on with his "rampage". I followed his latest walk-about around the world with fascination. What I find bothersome is when any one man begins to think that he knows better than everyone else. That's why he and idiotnejad in Iran are buddies.

What I find troublesome is how Chavez has been spending his nation's wealth on arms. He tells the world that he wants to counter "the Empire". If he wants to be Obama's "friend", then why is he buying all these arms? Who is the threat? Although he denies it, the FARC uses his country's territory for rest. The economy is in trouble and mismanagement is rife. Yet, Chavez marches right along. The deals he has inked with China and Russia to explore the latest major oil find is also worrisome

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Mr. Chavez Goes to Tehran

September 7th 2009 23:04
: So?????????????!!??

Hugo Chavez has been on a tour to create an "anti-imperalist" front. One of the countries he visited was Iran. His soulmate, Idiotnejad, warmly embraced him and promised to create an "Anti-Imperalist" front to confront imperialism around the world

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A Ray of Hope in Honduras

July 8th 2009 08:16
: Common Sense Prevailing, Perhaps?
Common sense seems to be prevailing in Honduras. Zelaya and the interim Adminstration have agreed to mediation to be spearheaded by the President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias. This is a welcome development, because President Arias has had a very credible record in trying to mediate disputes and helped to bring to a close civil wars. President Arias is due to begin his work on Thursday. Thursday can't arrive soon enough.


: Histor in the Making....Yet Again!!!!
As I write this, Al Jazeera is reporting that the ousted Honduran President is on his way back home. Riots are going on. Thousands are at the Airport. One child was shot dead during the presentations. The child may well be Honduras' "Neda". The plane with Zelaya apparently has been diverted to El Salvador. A second plane is following with a number of Latin American Presidents.

There is a live interview going on with Zelaya on Honduran National Television as he is flying towards Honduras. The situation is quite fluid. I am anxious to see who will blink first. What is also interesting to note is that Zelaya's wife has taken refuge in the US Embassy

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: And Now?

As Honduras continues to be in turmoil, reports are coming in that in Argentina that the peronists have lost their majority during the midterm elections. The President, Cristina Fernandez, and her husband, Nestor apparently tried to pull a Iran-Style strategy by using the full force of the power of the State. But, apparently it has not worked. The people have voted for change

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People Power in Latin America

June 28th 2009 00:00
: Wow!!!

Right now, there is a referendum in Honduras that the President wants to change the constitution. The Election Commision and the Supreme Court have declared it illegal. The President has fired the head of the Armed Forces--and the Supreme Court has ordered him back on the job. The votes have been going on. Moving down South, Hugo Chavez is once again on a rampage. He has his sight now on the last major independent voice in the country. Going down south, the Kirchners in Argentina are fighting to retain their majorities in Congress

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Venezuela Surprises Yet Again!!!

April 23rd 2009 04:59
: Now what?
The subject of the handshake and the gift made the headlines when Mr. Obama and Mr. Chavez met during the summit of the Americas. As Mr. Chavez handed off the book known as the bible of the Latin American Left, he did something else. He donated an Island in the Delaware River that the State Oil Company bought back in the 90's for oil storage back to the United States.

This story was reported by the BBC. CNN and Fox had no postings on it. When I researched this on CNN's site, I saw that the local press in New Jersey had in fact reported it only. I don't know why this interesting story never made it to the so-called mainstream press (which includes Fox as well

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Continued Concerns About Venezuela

April 19th 2009 18:44
: What is Chavez' end game?
Although I wrote with interest the antics by Chavez at the Summit of the Americas, I continue to be concerned as to the powergrab Chavez is continuing. Now that the term limits have been revoked, the President has begun a systematic process to eliminate alll opposition to his rule. All opponents are being investigated for corruption, leading figures have been jailed and the courts have been systemtically been turned into organs of Executive Power.

Chavez calls this the third stage of his self-styled "Bolivarian Revolution". Chavez has to be transparent, allow opposition to flourish and not spare anyone in the fight against corruption. The indications I see continue to disturb me.

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