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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Confusing reports on War in South Ossetia & Georgia

The AP wire is reporting that today, Tuesday 12th of August, after five days of air and land attacks Russia has ordered a halt to the military action. This sounds like very good news given the photos in the newspaper when I work up this morning. However the next report says that Georgia insists that Russian forces were still bombing and shelling.

Russian Soldiers on the way to Tskhinvali

Russian Soldiers on the way to Tskhinvali

Back to that interesting question lime posted: “it makes me wonder what is so strategic in that little corner of georgia that makes both the georgians and the russians want to fight over it.”

Georgia sits on a strategic oil pipeline carrying Caspian crude to Western markets bypassing Russia, has long been a source of contention between the West and a resurgent Russia, the dominant energy supplier to Europe. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm could this have something to do with the hostilities??

I don’t know, I also see Medvedev’s point, he denounced Georgian attack on South Ossetia launched late Thursday as “genocide.” And harshly criticised the West for supporting Georgia in the conflict, saying it reflected hypocrisy: “International law doesn’t envision double standards.”

I must admit though that even the most libereal left wing in me is starting to get a bit worried here. I do hope this is the end!

Trying to understand the news, Georgia – Russian war

Having a natural need to try and understand horrifying news I set about today to investigate what is going on in Georgia, Russia, and a little territory called South Ossetia.

What are they fighting over? A break away region named South Ossetia which separated from Georgia in a 91-92 war. South Ossetia has a population of 70,000 and is a different ethnic group from the people of Georgia. South Ossetia is inhabited mostly by ethnic Ossetians who speak a language remotely related to Farsi. Georgians account for less than one-third of the population.

South Ossetia region

South Ossetia region

Georgia has never accepted the South Ossetian claim for independence and tensions have never been far from the surface with violence flaring up sporadically. In August 2008, heavy fighting erupted between Georgian and separatist forces, following nearly a week of clashes. The fighting deepened fears of a full-blown war in the Caucasus.

The current fighting began four days ago when Georgian forces launched a surprise attack to regain control of South Ossetia, which has had de facto independence since the end of a civil war in 1992.Russia had maintained peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia although the Georgian parliament has called for them to be replaced with an international force. On August 8 the Russian forces moved in “to restore peace to the region”.

As of today’s news Georgia has pulled out of South Ossetia, according to their own reports, while Russia claims that Georgian troops were still present in the region.

To date estimates put the death toll on the South Ossetian side at more than 1,500, mostly civilians. Georgian casualty figures ranged from 82 dead, including 37 civilians, to a figure of about 130 dead.

Does this clear up the information for anybody else but me?? I am wondering after doing my own reading if Russia is so clearly in the wrong in this conflict? They appear to be helping the separatists. But then again I am not good enough at international politics to understand what Russia’s alternative motives may be, if there is something for them to gain from the conflict? Anyone have an opinion or information you would like to share?

Opening ceremony in Beijing, and an award for me!!

I would like to begin today by congratulating the Chinese people on a fantastic opening ceremony for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing!! We have been watching through out the afternoon and now we are seeing the highlights on television. The whole world had high anticipation to the opening ceremony, and I would like to congratulate China for a perfectly synchronised and amazing performance.

What I found most fascinating with the performance is the human element. Synchronised movements with something as simple as thousands of small lights were used to create elegant scenes when watched from above. I feel they also did a lovely job of highlighting their cultural contributions to the world, as well as the diversity of ethnic groups within China. I admit that I am guilty of seeing the Chinese people as a whole and have not had a proper appreciation for the ethnic diversity within the enormous country.

Opening Ceremony in Beijing

Opening Ceremony in Beijing

As I hope most of you know I am a supporter of equal rights, and do not support censorship and strong governmental control. However I as an American feel that I cannot always stand for the actions of my own country. I do not agree with the war in Iraq either. I feel that we cannot judge all the people who have worked so hard to make this show a reality by the politics of those in power. When China is finally opening its grand doors to the world, let us embrace the positive, the beautiful and the amazing which can be found within.

Now on a more personal note, my humble blog has been awarded the Brillante Weblog Premio 2008 from first my good friend Sandee at Comedy Plus, and soon afterwards my partner in blog-crime RennyBA. My blog is still quite young and I thank you both from the bottom of my heart for feeling that I am worthy of this honor!

Brilliant Weblog!!

Brilliant Weblog!!

The rules for this award are:

* The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.

* Link to the person you received your award from.

* Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

* Put links to those blogs on yours.

* Leave a message on the blogs of the people you have nominated.

I now have the honor of sending the award on to seven other bloggers. Here are my picks:

Claudie at Lazaza83

Citizen of the world at A little off Kilter

Marybeth at Dackel Princess

Lisa at Fleur de Lisa

Diane at Much of a Muchness

Pinay Jade at Life and Me

Mar at Maremagnum

These are blogs that I read and enjoy..and they are not listed in any particular order you are all favorites of mine!! Congratulations I think you are Brilliant!!

Global warming + growth in China + Oil crisis = World Hunger

I have been personally concerned about the headlines reporting on food shortages across the world. I must admit it has filled me with fear from time to time, can it happen here. I live a relatively good life here in Norway. My thoughts are more often on losing weight then hunger. However I also am very much aware that we live in a global world now, very little of the food which graces our table is locally grown. When that balance is upset all of us can suffer.

A world wide food shortage of proportions not seen in our lifetimes is on our doorstep. In Dhaka recently 10,000 Bangladeshi textile workers clashed with police in a protest triggered by food costs. In Haiti, demonstrators recently tried to storm the presidential palace after prices of staple foods leaped 50 per cent. In Egypt, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal and Cameroon there have been demonstrations, sometimes involving fatalities, as starving people have taken to the streets. And in Vietnam the new crime of rice rustling, when crops are stripped at night from fields by raiders, has led to the banning of all harvesting machines from roads after sunset.

Rice Shortage in Asia

But what are the factors that led to this shortage? What has triggered the price rises that have put the world’s basic foodstuffs out of reach for the worlds poorest peoples?

One factor is the decision by the US government, made several years ago, to give domestic subsidies to its farmers to grow corn that can be distilled into ethanol, a biofuel which can be mixed with petrol. This policy helps limit US dependence on oil imports and gives support to the nation’s farmers. However it also takes over land, about 20 million acres, that would otherwise have been used to grow food crops. Other nations, including Argentina, Canada and some European countries, have adopted similar biofuel policies.

In addition there is the problem of climate change. As the levels of carbon dioxide rise in the atmosphere, meteorologists have warned that weather patterns are becoming increasingly disturbed, causing devastation and drought in many areas. Some politicians see climate change as the most pressing challenge facing the world while others say that biofuels, grown to offset fossil fuel use, is taking food out of the mouths of the world’s poorest people.

Then we have the growing wealth of China. Once a relatively rural economy, China has become increasingly industrialised and its middle classes have grown accordingly. As a result there is a doubling in meat consumption in China. As the country’s farmers have sought to feed more and more animals, more and more grain has been bought by them. Many don’t realize that increased production of meat causes increased use of grain.

And finally there is the issue of vegetable oils. Soya and palm oils are a major source of calories in Asia. But flooding in Malaysia and a drought in Indonesia has limited supplies. In addition, these oils are now being sought as bio-diesel, which is used as a direct substitute for diesel in many countries

The moral of the story here is the world is a complicated place, and nothing we do, or overdo so to speak is without consequences. It is positive that we will use biofuels, it is positive that China is boom, but the consequences to the world have to be measured against these gains.

Mount Everest Closed for the season!!

Got new skis for Christmas, thinking about a trip to the mountains for Easter…just a warning. Don’t go to Everest, its closed!! Nope you didn’t read that wrong, Mt. Everest the worlds highest peak is closed for business by both China and Nepal.

There are two routes to the world’s highest peak, and both are scheduled to be off-limits to mountaineers this spring, as Beijing strives to inaugurate this summer’s Olympic Games free of pro-Tibetan protests.

scenerymounteverest.jpg

Beijing announced this past week that the route to the summit along the north face of the mountain, in Chinese-controlled Tibet, would be closed. Now, Nepal has decided that at least between May 1 and 10, when China has said it plans to carry up the Olympic torch, no one will be allowed to scale the summit along the south face, which is in Nepal. So seriously folks, your Easter trip to Everest is off…go to Hardangervida instead…..

China’s plans to have the Olympic torch carried into Tibet over Mount Everest have drawn protests from groups that advocate greater autonomy for Tibet as well as from monks in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. In India, Tibetan exiles were arrested as they set off on foot from Dharamsala, in north India, en route to Lhasa. They have since begun a hunger strike, vowing to continue until they are released. All kidding aside, Tibet takes this very seriously, and they are taking the golden opportunity to protest the claim to one of their earlier national landmarks.

Thankfully I wasn’t planning on climbing Everest this year anyway….I’m not even sure I am in shape enough to play golf…think I better hit the gym!!
God Påske (Happy Easter!!)