Friday, May 24, 2019

Prison uprising is just latest problem in Venezuela, is the United States to blame?

A prison uprising with deaths and injuries. Just the latest problem to strike Venezuela.

Disputed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is constantly blaming the United States for his countries woes. His most recent pronouncement in response to news that the United States is preparing sanctions and criminal charges against Venezuelan officials suspected of using a state-backed food program to launder money for Maduro. Maduro firing back, charging that the United States is trying to destroy that food program.

Meanwhile, rhetoric like that of Sen. Lindsay Graham may be feeding Maduro's campaign to blame the United States. Graham, a key supporter of President Trump, says if Cuba doesn't remove security forces from Venezuela, the United States should invade Venezuela.

Of course the U.S. position is that it's the socialist economic and political policies of the country that have put Venezuela in such peril.

The finger pointing aside, is there a way (and for that matter a will) to end the crisis in Venezuela?

An analysis in the Washington Post says, yes. There are four potential solutions. Assuming that Juan Guaido, who the United States and other nations view as the legitimate president can't rise to power politically and start straightening things out.

And according to that analysis, Venezuela's military (with a sprinkling of United States involvement) is key to change.


Why are there so many immigrants at the border?

February had the highest number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border in 12 years. And the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection says things are at the ''breaking point."

In response, the Trump administration wants to overhaul the system. Meanwhile, children coming into the country undocumented are dying at record numbers.

But wait. There seem to be some contradictions here. The Census Bureau says net migration to the United States is actually down.

But the proof may be in the detention pudding. ICE has a record breaking 52,000 immigrants in detention. And yet, a record number of families seeking asylum are showing up at the border. Some critics of the administration suggest the quick fix policies of the White House, rather than mitigating the problem, are actually causing more families to come now.

And while the Trump administration is detaining more immigrants than ever before, it's also releasing 10s of thousand of those detainees.








Monday, January 7, 2019

Coup in Gabon

The military is attempting to take control of the African nation of Gabon.

Gabon is a country along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa.

The military maintains it's doing this to return democracy to the nation.

The national radio station has been taken over and an announcement was made denouncing the president and the establishment of what they're calling a ''restoration council."

Shots have been heard fired in Liberville, the nation's capital.

The coup attempt is taking place as the nation's ailing president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is out of the country, in Morocco, recovering from a stroke.

Ondimba is the son of Omar Bongo, who was dictator of Gabon from 1967 until his death in 2009.. The now 59-year-old took over as president after his father's death. He was re-elected in 2016.

There are reports that the internet has been taken down. It's not known at the time of this posting how many members of the military are participating.

Life's not exactly a bowl of cherries for women in Saudi Arabia

Several years ago while administrating an international online chat program a woman in Saudi Arabia came to me in tears.

She was afraid she was about to be kicked off the program for a transgression (she wasn't but she didn't know that) and was extremely distraught.

I thought, why would anyone be so upset over being kicked off a chat program? But as I learned her story, I understood.

She told me she was was forced to marry her cousin and she'd been physically abused.

She claimed she couldn't leave the house without his permission. Could have no male friends. And few women friends.

Basically she was a prisoner in her own house.

And she told me how he had hurt her. She even defied the norms of cultural modesty to show me cigarette burns on her body.

So to her, the chat program I was administering was more than just a technology. For her it was freedom. It permitted her to go on line when her husband wasn't home and make friends around the world. It was her lifeline. 

I, of course, assured her she was not in danger of being banned from the program. And there was no further contact from her after this brief encounter. Still, whenever the issue of women's rights comes up in Saudi Arabia, I think of her.

That's why I'm thinking of her today. And writing about her. As a story is breaking from Thailand. About an 18-year-old Saudi woman who, as of this posting, is barricaded in her hotel room. Refusing to leave. Because she doesn't want to go back to Saudi Arabia.

The subjugation of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is nothing new. As recently as this past October 19 Filipinas working in Saudi Arabia were arrested for violating Sharia Law by attending a Halloween party.

Also in October, a Kenyan woman working in Saudi Arabia managed to release a video in which she tearfully pleads for rescue from the servitude and abuse she says she is suffering at the hands of her employers.

And about a month later, some charities claimed that women human right's activists were tortured in a Saudi prison.

Life's not exactly a bed of roses for women in Saudi Arabia

Several years ago while administrating an international online chat program a woman in Saudi Arabia came to me in tears.

She was afraid she was about to be kicked off the program for a transgression (she wasn't but she didn't know that) and was extremely distraught.

I thought, why would anyone be so upset over being kicked off a chat program? But as I learned her story, I understood.

She told me she was was forced to marry her cousin and she'd been physically abused.

She claimed she couldn't leave the house without his permission. Could have no male friends. And few women friends.

Basically she was a prisoner in her own house.

And she told me how he had hurt her. She even defied the norms of cultural modesty to show me cigarette burns on her body.

So to her, the chat program I was administering was more than just a technology. For her it was freedom. It permitted her to go on line when her husband wasn't home and make friends around the world. It was her lifeline. 

I, of course, assured her she was not in danger of being banned from the program. And there was no further contact from her after this brief encounter. Still, whenever the issue of women's rights comes up in Saudi Arabia, I think of her.

That's why I'm thinking of her today. And writing about her. As a story is breaking from Thailand. About an 18-year-old Saudi woman who, as of this posting, is barricaded in her hotel room. Refusing to leave. Because she doesn't want to go back to Saudi Arabia.

The subjugation of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is nothing new. As recently as this past October 19 Filipinas working in Saudi Arabia were arrested for violating Sharia Law by attending a Halloween party.

Also in October, a Kenyan woman working in Saudi Arabia managed to release a video in which she tearfully pleads for rescue from the servitude and abuse she says she is suffering at the hands of her employers.

And about a month later, some charities claimed that women human right's activists were tortured in a Saudi prison.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Did you know federal employees affected by the shutdown haven't missed a paycheck yet?

There have been a lot of stories lately about federal employees affected by the partial shutdown having a hard time making ends meet during the partial government shutdown. 

For example, some federal employees have started Go Fund Me drives to help make ends meet. So you might be surprised to learn that they haven't missed a paycheck. Yet.

The first paycheck the workers would miss is January 15th. The last time they got paid was New Year's Eve.

As the partial shutdown drags on, it's interesting to also note that this is not the longest shutdown in history. At least not yet. It's now the third longest in history.