December 2009

Dec 1  President Obama addresses the nation about Afghanistan. His plan is a troop surge: 30,000 more US troops to secure the major population centers. It's a plan that his military advisors approved. His exit strategy: withdrawal in July 2011. Some in the US are concerned about the cost – an additional 30 billion dollars at least. And some say that the operation is another example of wishful thinking by a president and his military advisors.

Dec 2  A spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan vows to fight on, reminiscent of Hanoi during the US-Vietnam War. Hanoi pursued its war against the US presence in their country with the understanding that eventually the Americans would give up the fight.

Dec 3  US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that the pace of withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in mid-2011 will be determined by "conditions on the ground." Critic George Will writes of President Obama's "halfhearted embrace of a half-baked nonstrategy" and adds that "This will not end well."

Dec 4  Official US unemployment figures are reported as having dropped from 10.2 to 10 percent and this creates enthusiasm among some people. Not Republican House Minority Leader Boehner. He is unimpressed and blames the Obama administration for depriving business people an incentive to hire. Others see a lack of purchasing power among consumers as holding back the economy and hiring – a distribution of wealth problem. Companies are sitting on a lot of cash with which to buy up other companies in the mergers game, and surplus wealth has made stock prices higher than they should be. Sebastial Mallaby, the financial columnist for the Washington Post, writes that we may be witnessing the kind of "bandwagon mentality" regarding stocks that creates a bubble. The Dow today closed at 10,388.90. Will it fall back into the 9,000s or lower? Stay tuned.

Dec 10  The suicide bomber who killed at least 22 people in Somalia recently was from Denmark. One can suppose that in Denmark he grabbed onto his identity as a Muslim strongly because he was an outsider. This is not a rare reaction among youthful minorities. Atta, who led the 911 suicide attack, acquired such an attitude while living in Hamburg as a student. And today there is news of a few Americans having been arrested in Pakistan and said to have been planning to join a war to advance Islam. Identity-ego crises, as most of us know, strike youths more than the mature. Beware of people with wounded egos!

Dec 11  A study by the Human Genome Organisation's (HUGO) Pan-Asian SNP Consortium supports the hypothesis that Asia was populated primarily through a single migration event from the south. It had been argued that Asia was populated in two waves – one into southeast Asia and a later migration into central and northeast Asia.

Dec 16  Population growth is being described as the "elephant at the summit" – the summit conference at Copenhagen on global warming. Population growth is held as the long-range fundamental behind climate change environmental degradation. It is held that it will be impossible to feed an expanding population while reducing the impact of people on the environment.

Dec 17  In Central Ohio, amid an unemployment crisis, I see that a contractor has put a team of non-citizens to work repairing roofs. Nothing that I know of prevents him from doing so, and it means more money in his pocket. (The non-citizen workers like all people who work hard, in my opinion, deserve unmitigated respect.)

Dec 18  The UN climate talks at Copenhagen conclude with some talk from environmentalists calling it an historic but incomplete agreement. President Obama called it an "unprecedented breakthrough." China's refusal to allow inspections prevented an accord with set standards. But there is an agreement among the nations to work individually in fighting global warming. Premier Wen of China announces that China will remain committed to achieving and even exceeding the emission reduction targets, and he adds that “We will honor our word with real action.” Many around the world hope that the US Congress will pass meaningful climate control legislation in early 2010.

Dec 21  Vali Nasr has written a new book, Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World. Economic progress among Muslims, he claims, will create a greater friendliness and interdependence with the non-Muslim world.

Dec 22  Another journalist is murdered in Kyrgyzstan. Gennady Pavluk was tied around his ankles and his wrists tied behind his back, and he was thrown from a window. He had occasionally criticized the Kyrgyz government.

Dec 22  China's most prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, said it would take more that 300 years of colonialism to change China the way that Britain changed Hong Kong in 100 years. Following this statement, Liu was taken from his home and his statement used against him, with most of China's citizenry siding with the government. Some outside of China are calling for his release. Many inside China see their country as a democracy, as in the People's Republic of China." Civic-minded young people can join the country's one political party. In their mind it is a party for the citizens as a whole. They fear that a multi-party system would return China to political chaos and give too much power to multi-millionaires. China's old political party the Guomindang was a party of the wealthy, and it was the primary opponent of China's revolution. Many in China see Liu Xiaobo as a traitor to the revolution and the country.

Dec 28  In cities in Iran, demonstrations are growing. The failure of government forces to intimidate creates more than frustration for them. There is a sense that the tide is turning. Rocks are the weapons used by the demonstrators. There are instances of government forces running away. The morale of the demonstrators is up amid their anger and despite their deaths here and there, counted as nine yesterday. Sometime in 2010 we will probably see dramatic political change in Iran – unlike China.

Dec 30  In Iran, huge marches supporting the government occur in major cities. They chant "Death to opponents." These are government sponsored demonstrations, with free transportation and in some places free milk. Government pronouncements again associate dissident demonstrators with foreign powers wishing to destroy Iran's 1979 revolution. The government reports that since the anti-government demonstrations on the 27th it has arrested 1,400.

to November 2009 | to January 2010

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