Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eritrean Regime Sanctioned

Last week the UN Security Council passed a resolution which imposed targeted sanctions on Eritrea for its destabilizing role in Somalia and for refusing to withdraw its troops from Djibouti. The sanctions include an arms embargo and travel restrictions on and a freeze on the assets of the political and military leaders of the regime. These sanctions are tied to two other previous UN resolutions (resolutions 751 and 1267) and seem to have some teeth, which explains the regime's freakish reaction to the resolution. You can read the full text of the resolution here.

This is a welcome development for the Horn of Africa region; the sanctions are balanced and appropriate for the offence commited. However, punishing the Eritrean regime alone will not bring peace to Somalia or stability to the Horn region. That would require a comprehensive carrot and stick approach towards all the regimes in the region and a real support to human rights and democracy advocates in the region. On this score, the Obama Administration has so far proven itself to be as worthless as the administration it replaced.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Cheers!

Here is a cheerful Christian song by Asfaw Melese. The setting is Hossana, which happens to be Asfaw's hometown, and also mine. The audio is not great, but the energy is infectious. Watching the kids enjoy themselves made me wish that I was a teenager again. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen Blues

The Telegraph wrote a headline today which read "world leaders miss best chance" in describing how the Copenhagen climate change summit ended in disappointment for the global apocalypse faithful. It went on to conclude:
They have agreed to meet again early next year to agree targets for 2020. But no one was denying that making further progress will be hard, as will regenerating the momentum that was lost so recklessly over the last days.
I am not sure what recklessness the Telegraph was talking about. But, thanks to Climategate, it is now clear to any rational mind that the parties that were reckless are the group of scientists who tried to sell to the world a half-baked science as settled science and their leftist allies from all around the world who can't seem to miss a chance to alarm the world about the catastrophe that global warming has purportedly caused and will cause in the future.

Now that the collusion between these two groups has been exposed for the sham that it is, those scientists with any sense of descency left in them should return to their labs and ponder on alternative and dissenting views on climate-change science, like the one suggested in this WSJ article and many others, and come up with research that is transparent and invites scientific scrutiny. And, what about their political allies? They should re-direct their energy towards environmental issues that have broad-based support and can be implemented in a financially sound way.

As to the actual agreement(s) that were made in Copenhagen, the Obama Accord or any of its variants, they are as worthless as the papers they are printed on. And, if any one out there believes that the African nations will ever get the 100s of billions of dollars they extorted from the rich nations, regardless of whom the extorter-in-chief was, then I have a magic pill that will cure your Copenhagen Blues and any other ailments you might think of here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Model Nation for Religious Persecution?

The BBC reported yesterday that 30 elderly women have been arrested in Eritrea while praying together. This report is just the latest in a long series of persecution for adherents of various Protestant Christian denominations, Jehovah Witnesses and other faiths that are not granted an official stamp of approval by the Eritrean regime since 2002.

One of the well known cases of this ongoing persecution is that of gospel singer Helen Berhane
who was tortured and detained without charge for two years before she was released in 2007 and was granted asylum in Denmark. As you can see in the video below, Helen has a difficult time walking as a result of the torture she was subjected to during her incarceration. Obviously, the tortures did not brake her. As is often the case, persecution of religious people never accomplishes its intended objective.

I fail to understand what Isaias Afeworki and his henchmen want to achieve by such inhumane treatment of their own people! Trying to become a model nation for religious persecution? Here is a graphic description of what happens to the Christians and others from an
Eritrean witness who was a prison guard:

I was doing my national service in Sawa Military training during the period 1999- 2001. During the two years period of my stay in Sawa, I witnessed an enormous amount of beating and torture to individuals who happened to be followers of Jehovah's Witness and Pentecostal (commonly known as "Pente") religions. I was, on many occasions, a prison guard to these people. The Jehovas are detained for refusing, according to their faith, to take the military training. But the "Pentes" are usually simply detained for reading bibles, praying in a group, singing gospels etc during the free time, even though they are good soldiers. Once they are detained their head is shaven, like the other criminals in the prison. 20-30 of them are detained in a 3x4 metal-house. They were allowed to go out only for 30 minutes in whole day. The perfect relaxation time for the detainees were when they were taken to load and unloads cement, food etc from trucks. They all prefer this work than to be locked in the container even though it is physically exhausting for them. But the worst time for all of them was during 'questioning' time. They were badly beaten to the
extent that noses are broken, feet bleed. After the beating comes the notorious 'helicopter' torture in which your two legs are tied with your hands on your back. You are thrown in the sun and milk is poured on your body to attract the flies. It was the most inhuman treatment I have ever witnessed

Amanuel, Cape Town, South Africa

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Africa and Climategate

Much hoopla surrounds COP15, the Climate Change Conference that is set to open in Denmark in a couple of days. While the industrialized nations are still haggling about the extent to which carbon emissions should be cut by the great carbon pollutors of the world, the African countries, represented by an Ethiopian despot named Meles Zenawi, are sullivating to extort large sums of money from the industrialized nations for their "carbon sins" (see Africa will not reveal its climate compensation demands).

Meanwhile, a big scandal is brewing in climate change science itself, dubbed Climategate by some, that is threatening to derail the Copenhagen conference. In case you have not been paying attention in the last couple of weeks, the nerve center of climate change study, University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit in the United Kingdom, was hacked and that has brought to public view
email communications among scientists which revealed the unscientific nature of climate change science.

What these email exchanges between climate scientists reveal is that much of the science that was used to declare "
Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations" was tainted by ideologically driven politics. I suppose these revelations may probably mean that not much concrete progress is likely come out of Copenhagen.

What about the Africans? Well, Climategate could also dash their hope of collecting a handout in the name of global warming. The same scientists who were caught cooking the books in climate change science are the ones who supplied the "scientific" basis for the Africans' claim. Here are a couple of articles that discuss the effects of global warming which the Africans are using in making their case:
Alarming health effects of global warming
Health toll of climate change seen as ethical crisis
Climategate has given scientists a bad name and it has underscored the need for scientists to decouple themselves from the political debates that touch upon their scientific research area. One of the climate scientists who was involved in the aforementioned email exchanges put this maxim best in a WSJ Op-Ed article titled "The Science and Politics of Climate Change":
Climate scientists, knowingly or not, become proxies for political battles. The consequence is that science, as a form of open and critical enquiry, deteriorates while the more appropriate forums for ideological battles are ignored...

Science never writes closed textbooks. It does not offer us a holy scripture, infallible and complete. This is especially the case with the science of climate, a complex system of enormous scale, at every turn influenced by human contingencies. Yes, science has clearly revealed that humans are influencing global climate and will continue to do so, but we don't know the full scale of the risks involved, nor how rapidly they will evolve, nor indeed—with clear insight—the relative roles of all the forcing agents involved at different scales.