Gay Groups Should Adopt Anti-Israeli Positions

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.

Sudan Aiding Lord’s Resistance Army?

I was doing some research this weekend when I came across this BBC news story about recent allegations that Sudan is still aiding the Lord’s Resistance Army — one of the most brutal paramilitary groups anywhere in the world. Their brutality is especially chilling because they so frequently target children in their ongoing war against the government of Uganda.

Numerous leaders of the LRA are wanted by the International Criminal Court, but this hasn’t stopped Sudan from aiding the LRA numerous times over the years, and according to the BBC,

. . . the International Crisis Group says there are credible reports that elements of the Sudanese military are still aiding the LRA.

And yet despite this and the ongoing genocide committed by Sudan in Darfur, a resolution to do something about Sudan’s crimes against humanity cannot make it through the UN Security Council thanks to opposition from China.

When he visited Rwanda in 1998 to apologize for his administration’s sabotaging of efforts to prevent the genocide there, U.S. president Bill Clinton said that, “And never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence.” He would have been more accurate to have said that the international community would again and again ignore evidence of mass murder and genocide.


Sudan military ‘still aiding LRA’. Karen Allen, BBC, January 11, 2006.

Clinton meets Rwanda genocide survivors. CNN, March 25, 1998.

Boutros Boutros Ghali Predicts Regional Water Wars

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.

Will Polio Ever Be Eradicated?

The World Health Organization maintains that it will eradicate polio worldwide, but the disease is beginning to re-emerge in African countries that had previously been polio-free. Will anti-polio campaigners ever manage to eradicate polio?

The current outbreak in Africa is directly traceable to a decision by religious extremists in northern Nigeria to suspended polio vaccinations in 2003.

Shortly after that decision, polio cases in Nigeria began to spike. That was soon followed by cases popping up in nearby countries including Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, and Sudan. All five of those countries had been free of polio until 2003. Along with Nigeria, polio still persisted prior to 2003 in Egypt and Niger.

Polio has since spread to an additional seven African countries that had been free of polio, and the disease could spread further.

Admittedly the number of cases is still very small — Nigeria reported the most cases in Africa in 2004 at 763, but the outbreak of cases in previously polio-free countries is jacking up the costs of immunization. According to Dr. David Heymann, who heads up WHO’s polio eradication program, the resurgence of cases in polio-free countries will add at least $150 million to immunization efforts on the continent.


Health Officials Say They’ll End Polio In Africa, Despite Its Spread. Lawrence Altman, The New York Times, January 16, 2005.

The Media Lied and People Died?

Among the smaller tidbits in the 9/11 Commission’s report are a couple of shots the commission takes at the media in general and at the New York Times in particular for downplaying terrorism and Osama Bin Laden as a threat prior to 9/11. At one point, for example, the report notes,

It is hard now to recapture the conventional wisdom before 9/11. For example, a New York Times article in April 1999 sought to debunk claims that Bin Laden was a terrorist leader, with the headline ‘U.S. Hard Put to Find Proof Bin Laden Directed Attacks.'”

I was curious, so I looked up that story on Lexis/Nexis. It includes paragraphs like this,

In their war against Mr. bin Laden, American officials portray him as the world’s most dangerous terrorist. But reporters for The New York Times and the PBS program “Frontline,” working in cooperation, have found him to be less a commander of terrorists than an inspiration for them.

Enemies and supporters, from members of the Saudi opposition to present and former American intelligence officials, say he may not be as globally powerful as some American officials have asserted. But his message and aims have more resonance among Muslims around the world than has been understood here.

The 9/11 report also includes a quote from an unidentified Saudi Arabian individual who complains that the American media’s anti-Saudi(!?) bias fuels terrorist groups like Al Qaeada. But the 1999 New York Times story shows exactly the sort of cavalier attitude that the Saudi took (and continue to take IMO) toward Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden,

On May 31, 1996, four Saudis were beheaded after confessing to bombing a Saudi National Guard post in Riyadh and killing five Americans. All told their interrogators that they had received Mr. bin Laden’s communiques. Only 25 days later, a truck bomb tore through a military post in Dhahran, killing 19 American soldiers.

Mr. bin Laden was blamed by American officials for instigating the attacks. But no known evidence implicates him, and the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef ibn Abdel Aziz, has absolved him. “Maybe there are people who adopt his ideas,” Prince Nayef said. “He does not constitute any security problem to us.”

The interesting thing in light of what the report says about Sandy Berger — that he rejected no less than four separate attempts to grab Bin Laden based on narrow legalistic grounds — is that the Times story is also focused on excessively legalistic matters. After all, the only thing the United States could prove with absolute certainty was that Bin Laden had fled to Sudan and then Afghanistan, declared war on the United States, was busy training terrorists in camps, and regularly issued calls for terrorists to strike against American targets as well as praised successful such strikes.

Pretty weak case, huh?


U.S. Hard Put to Find Proof Bin Laden Directed Attacks. Tim Weiner, New York Times, April 13, 1999.

Ugandan Defense Minister Says LRA Maintains Training Camp in Sudanese-Controlled Territory

Ugandan defense minister Ruth Nankabirwa told Kampala newspaper New Vision that Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony is still operating a training camp in territory controlled by the Sudanese army, though she was diplomatic enough to avoid accusing Sudan’s government of supporting the LRA.

Nankabirwa said,

He (LRA leader Joseph Kony) still has a rear base camp some two to three kilometres northwest of Nisitu junction, which is behind Sudan army lines and our forces deployed there cannot do anything, because the protocol under which they are deployed does not allow them to go beyond some lines.

. . .

We are taking diplomatic steps to make Sudan honour its obligations under the protocol. But it should be noted that the Sudan government has not fully responded to the outstanding issues raised by Uganda.

Sudan’s government is apparently blaming the continued presence of LRA bases in its territory on rogue military elements, although Sudan has a long history of providing both direct and indirect support to the LRA.


Sudan Officers Shield LRA. New Vision (Kampala), December 1, 2003.