There seem to be a growing number of action figures based on historical/mythical figures, such as this Executive Replicas 1/6 scale take on Egyptian queen Nefertiti. This one seems to be
Reuters notes that gay and lesbian NGOs have a rather difficult time being credentialed by the United Nations which usually has almost no standards at all for such determinations (based on some of the odd groups that do have NGO status).
For example, Canada’s Coalition of Gays and Lesbians of Quebec was rejected as an NGO by an 8-6 vote. The vote in this case is extremely revealing.
Voting yes to credential the group — Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, Britain and the United States (hmm…and here I thought the U.S. was run by a fascist theocracy?)
Voting no — Burundi, China, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and Sudan.
Given the tenor of the United Nations, the best bet for gay and lesbian groups would probably be to adopt anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic planks. Egypt, Pakistan and Qatar may not be thrilled by a gay and lesbian group, but if that group, say, argued that Jews were behind a worldwide plot against gays and lesbians, they’d probably win immediate approval.
Canadian and Swedish gay groups frowned on at UN. Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, February 2, 2007.
Newsweek magazine said on Sunday it erred in a May 9 report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article.
Editor Mark Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet.
The report sparked angry and violent protests across the Muslim world from
Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan to Indonesia to Gaza. In the past week it was condemned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and by the Arab League.
On Sunday, Afghan Muslim clerics threatened to call for a holy war against the United States.
Newsweek says Koran desecration report is wrong. David Morgan, Reuters, May 15, 2005.
In an interview with the BBC, former United Nations Secretary Boutros Boutros Ghali predicted that conflicts would soon arise between countries in the Nile basin over rights to water that flows through the Nile.
Egypt has long been the largest user of water from the Nile, but countries upstream are coming closer to more intensively using that water, which Boutros Ghali predicts will lead to conflict between Egypt and countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya.
Boutros Ghali noted that Egypt’s population has more than tripled over the last 50 years and is still growing, putting heavy demand on Nile water resources. Boutros Ghali told the BBC,
The security of Egypt is related to the relation between Egypt and Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya and other African countries. The real problem is that we need an additional quantity of water and we will not have an additional quantity of water unless we find an a agreement with the upstream countries which also need water and have not used Nile water until now.
But the BBC interview failed to mention a major overriding problem with water in the Middle East and Africa — it is almost universally mismanaged, since it relies on bureaucracies setting water targets and policies rather than letting markets dictate the true cost of water.
In Egypt, for example, 85 percent of water goes to agriculture, and agricultural water use is micromanaged to the point where government committees plan out a year in advanced which crops will be allowed to grow where and how water will be allocated among them. Not surprisingly the result is large-scale inefficiency and misallocation of water resources.
Mismanagement of water is almost universal, even in countries such as the United States which don’t yet have severe water problems. But places like the Middle East and Northern African simply cannot afford to protect industries or individuals from the true cost and scarcity of water. Unfortunately, doing so is likely to prove very politically unpopular, but one can always hope that developing countries might prefer transparent markets in water to conflicts between states that may lead to larger problems, while leaving the underlying problem uncorrected.
Ex-UN chief warns of water wars. Mike Thompson, The BBC, February 2, 2005.
A few weeks ago, I was driving into work listening to a Public Radio International program about ongoing terrorism in Iraq. The topic that day was the murder of a driver for a Kuwaiti trucking firm. Obviously, the goal of the terrorists was to deny supplies from coming into Iraq by instilling fear in the company and/or it’s drivers.
The guest on PRI that day made what I thought was a rather bizarre slander against the Kuwaiti trucking firms. Asked by the host whether or not this would be an effective tactic, the guest noted that the drivers employed by the Kuwaitis are foreiengers and that the tactic would not work because the Kuwaiti firms could care less about the safety of their foreign workers.
In fact, last week one of the major trucking firms, Kuwait Gulf and Link, announced it would cease all operations in Iraq in an effort to free seven of its drivers held hostage by a group calling itself the Secret Islamic Army. The hostages were all foeigners — three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian.
Frankly, I don’t think the firm should have given in to terrorism on principle, but it’s understandable why they made that decision. I wonder if the PRI guest will go back on network now and apologize. I won’t be holding my breath.
Kuwaiti firm bows to kidnappers’ demands, stops work in Iraq. Agence-France Press, August 27, 2004.
The BBC reported in September that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said that the real problem facing Egypt is its high birth. According to the BBC,
Now, President Mubarak’s remarks have touched on one of the most fundamental problems facing Egypt, and which is often forgotten when discussing the country’s problems – rapid population growth.
The number of Egyptians born every year far outpaces projected growth rates for the economy.</p.
According to official figures, the population increases at the rate of about 2% annually.
At that rate, Mr Mubarak said, Egypt’s 70 million people will have grown to 85 million in 10 years’ time.
According to the International Monetary Fund, economic growth in Egypt is forecast to be about 3% for the next year – way below what is needed to absorb the ever growing number of the unemployed.
Give me a break.
Yes, Egypt still has a relatively high total fertility rate. In 1965, its TFR was 7.0, which fell to 3.4 by 1998. Egypt is currently projected to achieve a TFR of 2.0 sometime between 2020-2025.
Due to the age structure of Egypt’s population, this means that the country will stabilize at a population of around 115 million, compared to its 1995 population of 62.3 million.
But there is nothing inherent in such population growth that would cause unemployment and the other problems afflicting Egypt. Rather, those are due primarily to the general global economic downturn combined with Egyptian policies that deter foreign investment and generally have retarded Egyptian economic growth. There’s only so much economic growth you can squeeze out of low-yield agriculture and tourism.
Birth rate ‘hurts Egypt’s economy’. The BBC, September 22, 2003.