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Mar 10, 2009
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craig1985 said:
I don't know why the Greeks think defaulting is a good idea, it will make everything worse. Oh and the idea of running to the bank and withdrawing every euro that you have, like what people where doing in Argentina with the peso and hiding it under the mattress, not a good idea either.
The Greeks are overwhelmingly in favor of staying in the Euro, which means defaulting is not an option. However, they feel that the plans imposed to help Greece recover don't work.

As for the opposition part ND, they are the ones that got Greece into this mess in the first place. Their refusal to cooperate in a coalition government is staggeringly irresponsible. The call for a referendum was an attempt to go over their heads but they are holding firm for early elections, which would sink the whole aid plan.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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FARC is a problem, but so are the para-military groups who have gone rogue and have become major players in the narco-industry. Other problems include the impunity for the killing of labor leaders and human rights defenders, So few perpetrators of sexual violence (stunning numbers of women have been raped and assaulted) have been held accountable for their crimes; internal displacement, discrimination of Afro-Columbians and indigenous peoples, ongoing landgrabs (for coke cultivation, or agri-farms trying to lay claim to lands that were previously owned by displaced people, but who have little evidence to prove it due to many years of fighting, who keeps his legal title to land when you are on the run; or extractive industries who invade the territories of indigenous peoples, who really don't want these companies on their property, which they hold in common; the government wants these companies, so they dispute indigenous claims to territories) which continues to displace people, but also the problems associated with resettlement and land-restitution (no evidence, who was there first?). The recently concluded FTA with the US are also unlikely to have benefits for small scale farmers in Colombia either, which could result in an increase in poverty of already marginalized groups.

Progress has definitely been made over the years, but there are still many real issues outstanding.

On Greece, I never understood the timing of Papandreu. Why now? The newly proposed deal, to deal with Greece's problem of repaying their debts, which is due to a -5% economic contraction, is not inherently different from the previous deals. Why didn't he put the Greece bail-out to a referendum from day one? Was Papandreu trying to save face, from a historical perspective, when we look back at Greece 20 years from now?

I am thinking a Greek default is probably much more disastrous than Iceland's default; the amount of people it affects alone is ~12m; Iceland only has ~310,000 inhabitants. The location of Greece, right inside the Eurozone, may affect post-default interactions with the Eurozone much more; trade/imports/exports. If Greece plays such a major role in shipping, it probably plays a similar role as the Netherlands, which serves as a major entry point for goods that flow deeper into the union (mostly to Germany). This means they could have a large services sector supporting ex/im industries, harbors and trucking companies. If trade gets much difficult due to leaving the Eurozone, it could negatively impact a large proportion of their industry. Argentina is still dealing with their 2002 default; i.e. debtors are still suing to get their money back; especially the ones that held out and never agreed to any deal that forced them to take a % cut.
 
May 13, 2009
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Bala Verde said:
I am thinking a Greek default is probably much more disastrous than Iceland's default; the amount of people it affects alone is ~12m; Iceland only has ~310,000 inhabitants. The location of Greece, right inside the Eurozone, may affect post-default interactions with the Eurozone much more; trade/imports/exports. If Greece plays such a major role in shipping, it probably plays a similar role as the Netherlands, which serves as a major entry point for goods that flow deeper into the union (mostly to Germany). This means they could have a large services sector supporting ex/im industries, harbors and trucking companies. If trade gets much difficult due to leaving the Eurozone, it could negatively impact a large proportion of their industry. Argentina is still dealing with their 2002 default; i.e. debtors are still suing to get their money back; especially the ones that held out and never agreed to any deal that forced them to take a % cut.
Shipping doesn't mean that there's all that much port traffic (though Piraeus is really big). One of the big shipping nations is Norway. But don't think there's any big ports there.


As for the difference between Greece and Iceland. The default of Icelandic banks affected to a large degree foreign (British and Dutch) investors, which were bailed out by their countries (which now demand Iceland to reimburse them).

Iceland itself has a healthy fishing industry and far less corruption and other detrimental factors than Greece. Moreover, they have their own currency (which got devaluated pretty badly and is no longer fully convertible). That makes imports fairly expensive (which is a sort of austerity), but also helps export and tourism.
 
Jul 4, 2011
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63 reported killed in gun attacks and bombs

A series of bomb and gun attacks in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Damaturu has killed at least 63 people, the Red Cross says.

Witnesses said the bombs hit several targets, including churches and the headquarters of the Yobe state police.

Many people are reported to have fled the town after a night of violence.

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram told a newspaper it was behind the attack and that it planned to hit further government targets.

President Goodluck Jonathan was "greatly disturbed" by the attack, and said his government was working hard to bring those "determined to derail peace and stability in the country to book", according to a spokesman.

A series of attacks on security forces in the nearby city of Maiduguri recently have also been blamed on Boko Haram.

Nigerian Red Cross official Ibrahim Bulama, in Damaturu, told the BBC at least 63 people had been killed there.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15605041
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Cobblestones said:
Shipping doesn't mean that there's all that much port traffic (though Piraeus is really big). One of the big shipping nations is Norway. But don't think there's any big ports there.


As for the difference between Greece and Iceland. The default of Icelandic banks affected to a large degree foreign (British and Dutch) investors, which were bailed out by their countries (which now demand Iceland to reimburse them).

Iceland itself has a healthy fishing industry and far less corruption and other detrimental factors than Greece. Moreover, they have their own currency (which got devaluated pretty badly and is no longer fully convertible). That makes imports fairly expensive (which is a sort of austerity), but also helps export and tourism.
You are certainly right to point out that shipping isn't necessarily trade. I can't really find much information about Greece's economy from 2001 - 2008; I was hypothesizing. In other words, I don't really know what they do and what future opportunities they have.

On Iceland save, the British and Dutch should stop complaining about those losses. If banks in Iceland offer a higher interest than any other bank either in the Union or in the Benelux sector, it should make you frown and you should ask yourself why the rates are so much higher. Easy money comes with risks, so (whether it's right or wrong) I have little sympathy for the people who lost money.

Further on Greece today in the NYT, the whole situation was known and purposefully concealed, denied and swept under the rug, by most parties, Greece, the EU, the ECB, and member countries.

Greek officials saw the draft and complained to the I.M.F. So the final report, while critical, played down the risks that Athens might one day default, with disastrous consequences for all of Europe.
Indeed, five months after the I.M.F. made that initial prognosis, Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece disclosed that, under the previous government, his nation had essentially lied about the size of its deficit. The gap, it turned out, amounted to an unsustainable 12 percent of the country’s annual economic output, not 6 percent, as the government had maintained.
“It was quite obvious, by the spring of 2010, that Greek debt could not be paid off,” said Richard Portes, a European economics expert at the London Business School. “But in good faith, policy makers felt that Greece could grow out of its debt problem. They were wrong.”
“Any talk of restructuring was a total taboo,” said a senior Greek official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We never even brought it up. If we made this case to Europe, we would have been pariahs forever.”
Last April, the Dutch finance minister, Jan Kees de Jager, dared to raise the subject of Greek debt restructuring again, only to receive another blast from Mr. Trichet. By May, the Germans had concluded, long after most private economists said it was inevitable, that a restructuring was needed.
Instead of bolstering Athens’ finances, the austerity program in Greece was turning a recession into a near-depression. The issue was broached at a meeting in Luxembourg, which was convened in secret but which quickly leaked to the press. This time, Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, argued that Europe must face up to its Greek losses. But by now Mr. Trichet’s objection was more than philosophical: the European Central Bank had acquired a lot of Greece’s debt as part of the effort to prevent its collapse and could suffer if it was forced to write off its Greek bonds at a huge loss. He stormed out of the dinner in a huff.
 
May 6, 2009
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pugdog said:
The Greeks are overwhelmingly in favor of staying in the Euro, which means defaulting is not an option. However, they feel that the plans imposed to help Greece recover don't work.

As for the opposition part ND, they are the ones that got Greece into this mess in the first place. Their refusal to cooperate in a coalition government is staggeringly irresponsible. The call for a referendum was an attempt to go over their heads but they are holding firm for early elections, which would sink the whole aid plan.
I don't blame the Greek people (especially the public servants) for being rather upset at the measures placed on them (wage cuts, freezes on wage increases etc.), they didn't create the stupid system where a job as a public servant is a job for life that unless you do something really idiotic, with generous salaries and perks (I've read an article on the BBC where a cleaner in the Ministry of Finance earns as much as a manager in another section, I mean WTF?), I mean why wouldn't you want to work as a public servant? I don't think rioting will solve anything, but I can understand their frustration.

I see Papandreou is in between a rock and a hard place, he has to try and please the bigger EU nations but at the risk of upsetting the Greek population and could vote him out in a landslide, or try to please his follow Greeks but risks getting himself off side with Germany and France. Frankly AFAIC, Greece is up the creek without a paddle, they have no manufacturing to pull themselves out of this mess, or no where near to the extent of China and Japan (who are still pulling themselves out of the recession of the 80's), or any natural resources like oil or metals that Australia has, and why this country hasn't been affected so much by the GFC because we've been able to trade to China so much. I honestly don't know how Germany and France ever expect Greece to pay them back, when they don't have the means too.
 
craig1985 said:
I don't blame the Greek people (especially the public servants) for being rather upset at the measures placed on them (wage cuts, freezes on wage increases etc.), they didn't create the stupid system where a job as a public servant is a job for life that unless you do something really idiotic, with generous salaries and perks (I've read an article on the BBC where a cleaner in the Ministry of Finance earns as much as a manager in another section, I mean WTF?), I mean why wouldn't you want to work as a public servant? I don't think rioting will solve anything, but I can understand their frustration.

I see Papandreou is in between a rock and a hard place, he has to try and please the bigger EU nations but at the risk of upsetting the Greek population and could vote him out in a landslide, or try to please his follow Greeks but risks getting himself off side with Germany and France. Frankly AFAIC, Greece is up the creek without a paddle, they have no manufacturing to pull themselves out of this mess, or no where near to the extent of China and Japan (who are still pulling themselves out of the recession of the 80's), or any natural resources like oil or metals that Australia has, and why this country hasn't been affected so much by the GFC because we've been able to trade to China so much. I honestly don't know how Germany and France ever expect Greece to pay them back, when they don't have the means too.
I don't agree with your analysis. This is exactly what the market fundamentalists have been telling us for 30 years, which led to in most places tearing the guts out of the public job sector; rampant privatization and giving the bosses every right to fire that they hypocritically refer to as job market flexibility; then close shop and move to where the labor market is more maliable and cheaper, thus depessing entire regions, while appallingly expoliting others; irresponsibility in the financial and loan sector; exorbitant incrementation of sovereign state debt that results (that then becomes the people's burden) in the name of a market ideology that says we must always make the economy grow, which is pure folly; the empowerment of the bosses and the enfeebling of workers unions; corruption between politics and finance through an incestuous relationship, etc.

While it is true that the Greek public sector basically held the government hostage to its demands and, therefore, needs reforms; the political leadership itself was thoroughly corrupt, dishonest and mendacious, as well as having been egged on and abetted by its wreckless US financial bank sustainers to borrow more and more, providing Greece access to cheap money, hence doing what the financial establishment habitually does: speculate on nations' future economic prosperity, which also means gambling with people's pensions, public services and so forth. While tax evasion in Greece among the rich and self-employed is positively epidemic.

I, therefore, don't buy the idea that such financeers were "in good faith," as the NY Times article claims they were, for the following reason: the major financial banks and financial institutions like the IMF want to load the onorous burden of debt upon the working class' shoulders, welfare cuts, the privatization of public services, the freedom to fire, etc.

This raises the larger and more citical issue of where is this market ideology taking civilization? It seems to me that we need a unequivocal and, of course, radical change of course. So in contrast to the market ideologues, the indignatos desire to make the banks, CEO's of the multinational corporations, millionaire and billionaire nabobs of various types - in short those who have exploited a system that's rigged in their favor, but at the society's expense - who still accumulate large quantities of wealth by actuating the fallimentary neoliberalist policies of deregulation and the "finacialization" of the economy.

The problem is, consequently, that while the "nabobs," in the name of profit, also created jobs, like capitalism knew how to do throughout a large portion of its history, one was disposed to puting between parenthesis the social inequality that resulted. But when, however, as in this phase of capitalism, capital is reduced to pure finance and wealth seems to be catalyzed around itself, as a kind of depraved vortex: it becomes most difficult to negate the excluded their right to become indignant and protest.

We've passed from an ecomony of production to the folly of endless financial growth and speculation. We need to return to one where production is predicated upon meeting the real needs of society, not wasteful excess and in many ways uselessness production to satisfy the craven desires of consumers. In short we need to put an end to the ideological war that financial capitalism and the so called gurus of the economy have been waging against society.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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One danger that hasn't been discussed at all with the loss of Greece's autonomy, is the leasing of its major ports to China. Years ago they were importing 10 million containers p.a. through Greece into Europe. They asked to increase that number to 20 million, but were turned down since the infrastructure and personnel didn't exist to handle such large quantities of cargo. Now with the lease agreement in force, the Greeks are not allowed into the areas where the Chinese work. Only immigrant labour is used, they no longer obey the safety procedures of the EEC, and of course aren't bothered with such onerous duties as inspecting cargoes. The vision I have, is of millions more containers arriving into Europe, stuffed full of copy watches, copy Mercedes, copy BMW's, copy rivets for airplanes, copy drugs etc etc. The Chinese after visiting Greece to complete the leasing of the Greek ports, immediately flew to Portugal. It is not hard to imagine, that Europe caught in an east-west pincer movement of Chinese goods, will feel the hurt.

Just to help visualize what these numbers are like... check out what ten trucks following each other on a highway look like. Now imagine thirty or forty million of them all in a row.
 
Mar 17, 2009
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pugdog said:
One danger that hasn't been discussed at all with the loss of Greece's autonomy, is the leasing of its major ports to China. Years ago they were importing 10 million containers p.a. through Greece into Europe. They asked to increase that number to 20 million, but were turned down since the infrastructure and personnel didn't exist to handle such large quantities of cargo. Now with the lease agreement in force, the Greeks are not allowed into the areas where the Chinese work. Only immigrant labour is used, they no longer obey the safety procedures of the EEC, and of course aren't bothered with such onerous duties as inspecting cargoes. The vision I have, is of millions more containers arriving into Europe, stuffed full of copy watches, copy Mercedes, copy BMW's, copy rivets for airplanes, copy drugs etc etc. The Chinese after visiting Greece to complete the leasing of the Greek ports, immediately flew to Portugal. It is not hard to imagine, that Europe caught in an east-west pincer movement of Chinese goods, will feel the hurt.

Just to help visualize what these numbers are like... check out what ten trucks following each other on a highway look like. Now imagine thirty or forty million of them all in a row.
don't forget contaminated dog food, drywall, etc. like we've seen here. but hey, at least it's cheap, right?
 
pugdog said:
One danger that hasn't been discussed at all with the loss of Greece's autonomy, is the leasing of its major ports to China. Years ago they were importing 10 million containers p.a. through Greece into Europe. They asked to increase that number to 20 million, but were turned down since the infrastructure and personnel didn't exist to handle such large quantities of cargo. Now with the lease agreement in force, the Greeks are not allowed into the areas where the Chinese work. Only immigrant labour is used, they no longer obey the safety procedures of the EEC, and of course aren't bothered with such onerous duties as inspecting cargoes. The vision I have, is of millions more containers arriving into Europe, stuffed full of copy watches, copy Mercedes, copy BMW's, copy rivets for airplanes, copy drugs etc etc. The Chinese after visiting Greece to complete the leasing of the Greek ports, immediately flew to Portugal. It is not hard to imagine, that Europe caught in an east-west pincer movement of Chinese goods, will feel the hurt.

Just to help visualize what these numbers are like... check out what ten trucks following each other on a highway look like. Now imagine thirty or forty million of them all in a row.
Which is another demonstration of the folly that reigns over the consumer market.
 
Jul 4, 2009
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...find below a link to an interesting take on the proposed solution to the Greek crisis...from a really smart guy who has a long time record for being right on most of the major economic issues over the last several decades...

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1081277--the-curse-of-austerity

...and then this rant from a premier rantster, but as above a lot more right about things than most...there is even a PED reference...much fun but quite serious also....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCR2k4keMQ&feature=related

Cheers

blutto
 
blutto said:
...find below a link to an interesting take on the proposed solution to the Greek crisis...from a really smart guy who has a long time record for being right on most of the major economic issues over the last several decades...

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1081277--the-curse-of-austerity

...and then this rant from a premier rantster, but as above a lot more right about things than most...there is even a PED reference...much fun but quite serious also....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCR2k4keMQ&feature=related

Cheers

blutto
The stimulus part of Olive's thesis, is pretty much what Krugman has been saying all along.

I wonder, though, if the real malaise of which he speaks, isn't the kind of financial growth on credit that amounted to a phantom wealth, which didn't correspond to actual earnings and upon which the new economy has been built, that has gotten us in the dreadful state in the first place? For which both the people and the state have been living above their means for quite some time now (since deregulated, financial capitalism and the neoliberal ideology took over beginning in the 80's), deluded in the belief that capitalization and "financialization" of the State could perpetually keep the party going forever.
 
Jul 4, 2009
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rhubroma said:
The stimulus part of Olive's thesis, is pretty much what Krugman has been saying all along.

I wonder, though, if the real malaise of which he speaks, isn't the kind of financial growth on credit that amounted to a phantom wealth, which didn't correspond to actual earnings and upon which the new economy has been built, that has gotten us in the dreadful state in the first place? For which both the people and the state have been living above their means for quite some time now (since deregulated, financial capitalism and the neoliberal ideology took over beginning in the 80's), deluded in the belief that capitalization and "financialization" of the State could perpetually keep the party going forever.
....there may be an end game here whose conclusion is definitely for the benefit of the 1% that we can't see and whose possible implications really scare me...and see the other video that was added to the post you are referencing after you posted...they discuss your point made above...

Cheers

blutto
 
blutto said:
....there may be an end game here whose conclusion is definitely for the benefit of the 1% that we can't see and whose possible implications really scare me...and see the other video that was added to the post you are referencing after you posted...they discuss your point made above...

Cheers

blutto
I've made the point all along that the Greek situation is both internal and external, however, in terms of the current crisis it seems to me that the external forces of finance, after the housing maket blew up and Wall Street melted down, are the ones mostly at fault and, of course, are the one bringing Greece to task; because the finaceers are sh!ting themselves over the big mess they made - namely pemiting society to live above its means in the sheer interests of greed and profit.

Funny how just a few years ago, though, Goldman Sachs was enchanting the Greek govenment with more loans on interest, but now the Master's of the Universe at the financial markets are calling for the country's head.

Once again what's good for the 1% is valid in good times and in bad. While it is society that gets the shaft and is passed the bill.
 
Jul 16, 2011
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Some reflections on a couple of religious extremist attacks. Firstly in Nigeria

ramjambunath; 11494 said:
63 reported killed in gun attacks and bombs

A series of bomb and gun attacks in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Damaturu has killed at least 63 people, the Red Cross says.

Witnesses said the bombs hit several targets, including churches and the headquarters of the Yobe state police.

Many people are reported to have fled the town after a night of violence.

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram told a newspaper it was behind the attack and that it planned to hit further government targets.

President Goodluck Jonathan was "greatly disturbed" by the attack, and said his government was working hard to bring those "determined to derail peace and stability in the country to book", according to a spokesman.

A series of attacks on security forces in the nearby city of Maiduguri recently have also been blamed on Boko Haram.

Nigerian Red Cross official Ibrahim Bulama, in Damaturu, told the BBC at least 63 people had been killed there.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15605041
The Boko Haram terrorist group is becoming increasingly active. I can't say I understand Nigerian society or politics in any way be there appear to be some similarities (but also definitely and disturbing differences) between the situation there and the situation in Northern Ireland during the troubles. Firstly, the religious split is close to 50/50 (in Nigeria between Muslims and Christians, in N. Ireland, Protestants and Catholics). However, in Nigeria Islam predominates in the North and Christian in the South, while in N. Ireland, both Catholics and Protestants are spread around the province, but often on separate housing estates (although the creation of N. Ireland resulted from a clear north/south religious/political divide on the island as a whole). In Nigeria there are also tribal divisions (3 main tribes). These regional differences make it look likely that Nigeria will split apart. Akhwat Akwop has been set up as a Christian counter terrorist group.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201109290615.html

One frightening fact seems to be (from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13843967) that Islamic leaders are frightened to speak out openly against the use of terror, since some have been assassinated. The troubles in N. Ireland occurred at the beginning of my political awareness, but I certainly can't remember such retaliation against religious leaders for speaking out against violence (although some religious leaders did add fuel to the fire). In many ways the troubles in N. Ireland resulted from the political system which favoured the Protestant (slight) majority at various levels. The fall in tension partly resulted from reform (admitting that the system was unfair) and the fact that the vast majority of people were tired of the violence. Improved relations between the UK and the Republic of Ireland were also a positive influence leading to the Good Friday agreement. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and it doesn't seem that regional politics could play any part in a solution in the forseeable future. Unfortunately, an internal solution seems a remote possibility due to a lack of trust (the legacy of colonialism/corruption/military coups and religious/tribal/division) , which is necessary for reform and reconciliation.

Secondly, the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical paper published in France (presumably by Islamic terrorists)

rhubroma said:
Given the fightful prospect of a war with Iran, which Amstehammer so appropriately brought up (and, by the way, there was similar news reported in yesterday's la Repubblica), under the undesclosed and behind the scences plans of Israel, the US and Britian: there was an issue raised in France the other day regarding the satyrical daily Charlie Hebdo's offices being set on fire by some Islamic fundamentalists, because it had (though only in the spirit of satire) portrayed the Prophet in an unflattering light. While Le Monde gave a severe front page editorial about it, at least in Italy it was secondary news.

Yet these are the same Islamic radicals who murdered Theo Van Gogh, who are the same who condemned Salman Rushdie to death, the same who knifed the latter's Italian translator and the same who assassinated his Japanese one.

Now I could have put this in the God and Religion thread, but since it also has to do with a Western crisis of democracy and freedom to express ideas (even controversial ones that might offend part of the community), given that several of the French and Italian newspapers condemned, not the heinous act of religious violence, but the temerity and irresponsibilty of Charlie Hebdo to have joked with religion, I place it here in the political thread.

While others in Europe's press have defined as absurd the Tunisian decision to not air that masterpiece of secular tollerance realized in the annimated film based on Marjane Satrapi's brilliant Persepolis. There seems, therefore, to be a problem of certainty here.

If we are that uncertain and so unprepared when we are dealing with defending the right to freedom of speach and expression and in promoting tollerance, we shouldn't be surprised, then, if the intolerent and the zealous have free reign to commit their atrocious acts of barbary against our democracy. Its always the "vileness" of the pacificists, though, who give (unmeritted) space to the fanatics.
I'm pretty sure that the editors of Charlie Hebdo were getting themselves in for. Although they knew what the repercussions might be, it is the ones who answer words with violence who are the perpetrators. At least in France moderate Islamic leaders are not afraid to speak against the bombings. Where my parents live (and I spent my teenage years) there is a large Muslim minority (15-20%) and the British National Party is very prominent. Unsurprisingly, there have been racial/religious attacks and retaliation, but generally life meanders along as normal. In such situations, it is necessary to act at different levels. It must be clearly stated that violence is unacceptable on both sides. Discourse is necessary with the leaders of minority groups (these groups are more active on the political scene in the UK, as the members of parliament reflect the ethnic balance, unlike the French parliament). The right of freedom of speech must be seen to act in all directions. The UK law on blasphemy was rescinded in 2008 (although there were voices who felt that it should be extended to a set of recognized religions rather than just Christianity, which would have been in my opinion completely unworkable). Even then there will always be extremists. However, they should be regarded as extremists by their own "community".

A couple of links to articles from the Washington Post

A blog on the dangers faced by satirists

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/french-firebombing-attack-on-magazine-is-a-violent-reminder-of-the-satirists-risk/2011/11/03/gIQAzM2BkM_blog.html

Reaction from a moderate Muslim

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/charlie-hebdo-firebombing-and-depicting-muhammad/2011/11/02/gIQAqqjmfM_blog.html
 
Jul 4, 2011
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Tank Engine said:
Some reflections on a couple of religious extremist attacks. Firstly in Nigeria

The Boko Haram terrorist group is becoming increasingly active. I can't say I understand Nigerian society or politics in any way be there appear to be some similarities (but also definitely and disturbing differences) between the situation there and the situation in Northern Ireland during the troubles. Firstly, the religious split is close to 50/50 (in Nigeria between Muslims and Christians, in N. Ireland, Protestants and Catholics). However, in Nigeria Islam predominates in the North and Christian in the South, while in N. Ireland, both Catholics and Protestants are spread around the province, but often on separate housing estates (although the creation of N. Ireland resulted from a clear north/south religious/political divide on the island as a whole). In Nigeria there are also tribal divisions (3 main tribes). These regional differences make it look likely that Nigeria will split apart. Akhwat Akwop has been set up as a Christian counter terrorist group.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201109290615.html

One frightening fact seems to be (from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13843967) that Islamic leaders are frightened to speak out openly against the use of terror, since some have been assassinated. The troubles in N. Ireland occurred at the beginning of my political awareness, but I certainly can't remember such retaliation against religious leaders for speaking out against violence (although some religious leaders did add fuel to the fire). In many ways the troubles in N. Ireland resulted from the political system which favoured the Protestant (slight) majority at various levels. The fall in tension partly resulted from reform (admitting that the system was unfair) and the fact that the vast majority of people were tired of the violence. Improved relations between the UK and the Republic of Ireland were also a positive influence leading to the Good Friday agreement. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and it doesn't seem that regional politics could play any part in a solution in the forseeable future. Unfortunately, an internal solution seems a remote possibility due to a lack of trust (the legacy of colonialism/corruption/military coups and religious/tribal/division) , which is necessary for reform and reconciliation.

Secondly, the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical paper published in France (presumably by Islamic terrorists)
There's not much to disagree here as it's pretty much fully factual and as you stated North Nigeria is mainly Islamic while the South is Christian (similar to Sudan). Considering it is similar to Sudan, will it lead to the partition of the country along similar lines. Not in the near future, but things can get out of control and if/when they do, will the leadership have the courage to do so.

It begs the question as to whether the countries were divided in a proper and healthy manner. It isn't the first time conflicts between rival factions (tribes, religions etc) has happened in sub Saharan Africa and sadly isn't even the worst. A similar case can be made for Rwanda during the genocide which has now sadly spilled into eastern Congo. Even a relatively peaceful country like Kenya flared up after the bitter election between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, again I think two different tribes.

As for the second part of the post, which isn't quoted here, as an individual I've never faced any problems on a personal level with any Muslim. But it's definitely prudent to avoid satire on sensitive religious topics which can be a disaster waiting to happen when rubbed the wrong way. If there's nothing else to have a satirical strip on, there's always Jacob Zuma.
 
Jul 16, 2011
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ramjambunath said:
As for the second part of the post, which isn't quoted here, as an individual I've never faced any problems on a personal level with any Muslim. But it's definitely prudent to avoid satire on sensitive religious topics which can be a disaster waiting to happen when rubbed the wrong way. If there's nothing else to have a satirical strip on, there's always Jacob Zuma.
Never had any problem myself either. It's a difficult question. From what I've seen of the publication, it was in bad taste, but I wouldn't like to live in a society where such satire was banned. I haven't seen a repressive regime in action, but I've seen some of its lasting effects (in Eastern Europe).
 
Tank Engine said:
Some reflections on a couple of religious extremist attacks. Firstly in Nigeria



The Boko Haram terrorist group is becoming increasingly active. I can't say I understand Nigerian society or politics in any way be there appear to be some similarities (but also definitely and disturbing differences) between the situation there and the situation in Northern Ireland during the troubles. Firstly, the religious split is close to 50/50 (in Nigeria between Muslims and Christians, in N. Ireland, Protestants and Catholics). However, in Nigeria Islam predominates in the North and Christian in the South, while in N. Ireland, both Catholics and Protestants are spread around the province, but often on separate housing estates (although the creation of N. Ireland resulted from a clear north/south religious/political divide on the island as a whole). In Nigeria there are also tribal divisions (3 main tribes). These regional differences make it look likely that Nigeria will split apart. Akhwat Akwop has been set up as a Christian counter terrorist group.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201109290615.html

One frightening fact seems to be (from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13843967) that Islamic leaders are frightened to speak out openly against the use of terror, since some have been assassinated. The troubles in N. Ireland occurred at the beginning of my political awareness, but I certainly can't remember such retaliation against religious leaders for speaking out against violence (although some religious leaders did add fuel to the fire). In many ways the troubles in N. Ireland resulted from the political system which favoured the Protestant (slight) majority at various levels. The fall in tension partly resulted from reform (admitting that the system was unfair) and the fact that the vast majority of people were tired of the violence. Improved relations between the UK and the Republic of Ireland were also a positive influence leading to the Good Friday agreement. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and it doesn't seem that regional politics could play any part in a solution in the forseeable future. Unfortunately, an internal solution seems a remote possibility due to a lack of trust (the legacy of colonialism/corruption/military coups and religious/tribal/division) , which is necessary for reform and reconciliation.

Secondly, the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical paper published in France (presumably by Islamic terrorists)



I'm pretty sure that the editors of Charlie Hebdo were getting themselves in for. Although they knew what the repercussions might be, it is the ones who answer words with violence who are the perpetrators. At least in France moderate Islamic leaders are not afraid to speak against the bombings. Where my parents live (and I spent my teenage years) there is a large Muslim minority (15-20%) and the British National Party is very prominent. Unsurprisingly, there have been racial/religious attacks and retaliation, but generally life meanders along as normal. In such situations, it is necessary to act at different levels. It must be clearly stated that violence is unacceptable on both sides. Discourse is necessary with the leaders of minority groups (these groups are more active on the political scene in the UK, as the members of parliament reflect the ethnic balance, unlike the French parliament). The right of freedom of speech must be seen to act in all directions. The UK law on blasphemy was rescinded in 2008 (although there were voices who felt that it should be extended to a set of recognized religions rather than just Christianity, which would have been in my opinion completely unworkable). Even then there will always be extremists. However, they should be regarded as extremists by their own "community".

A couple of links to articles from the Washington Post

A blog on the dangers faced by satirists

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/french-firebombing-attack-on-magazine-is-a-violent-reminder-of-the-satirists-risk/2011/11/03/gIQAzM2BkM_blog.html

Reaction from a moderate Muslim

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/charlie-hebdo-firebombing-and-depicting-muhammad/2011/11/02/gIQAqqjmfM_blog.html
I was reading about the Boko Haram terrorist group in the dailies today. Between Friday and Saturday the cities of Damaturo, its neighboring village of Potiskum, and Maiduguri, in the northern regions of Yobe and Borno, the Islamic fundamentalists who define themselves as "devoted to the teachings of the Prophet and to holy war" struck (kamikazi car bombings) killing at least150 innocents. The victims were both Christians and Muslims. This makes the separatist plan for the Nigerian ultra-Musilm group all the more fearful.

What's certain is that the coordinated attacks demonstrate the growing dangerousness of "Boko Haram" and validate the intelligence information regarding the supposed close ties between the Nigerian terrorists, the Somali shabaab and the militants of Al Qaeda of North Africa.

Having spent time in several African Muslim nations, like Egypt, Morocco, Kenya and Tanzania, I can say that the problem with these Muslim societies is that they were dragged them into the modern world first through colonialism and secondly through globalization, without being at all prepared. Between the jolt and the reality of an often appalling modernity, and a certain lack of consciousness that allows for more civil behavior, states like Nigeria, Somalia, and Rowanda have lapsed into utter barbarism.

Once again it is the victims who always get maid to pay the heaviest price.

As far as your second point goes, my thinking is that the difference between being disrespectful and blowing buildings and people up, is an abyss into which civilization might well become the first causality if thrown into. Being so uncertain and unprepared, though, to deal with the horrors and heinous acts of intolerance and brutality in our own society, means that we also don't know the difference, any longer, between civility and incivility.

In the meantime, we wait for the people of the Muslim faith to go through a process of civic rebirth and enlightenment that will lead to the eradication from within of those most extreme elements, which also make up the most outspoken part of the whole.

However I think for the exasperated non-Muslim world, everyone's patience is running out.
 
Jul 4, 2011
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Tank Engine said:
Never had any problem myself either. It's a difficult question. From what I've seen of the publication, it was in bad taste, but I wouldn't like to live in a society where such satire was banned. I haven't seen a repressive regime in action, but I've seen some of its lasting effects (in Eastern Europe).
Of course society sans satire would be dull and monotonous but where's the line to be drawn. I just checked the cartoon and from my extremely limited knowledge of French it seemed a bit too far. Religion, even as seen in the god and religion thread, touches a nerve and things can flare up after the most innocuous statements. One statement used by the offended (this isn't an insinuation on my part) is whether the person do the same against his beliefs. For all I know, Hebdo may well be an atheist but when offended, this seems to be the first line of defence(this holds true for all faiths, as far as I know, in India). MF Hussain had the same problems when he made some controversial art but the reason that there may be more attacks from offended Muslims may be down to the fact that they feel alienated in today's world.

India is a country of numerous religions and if the media had insensitive satirical pieces, the country would flare up everyday. Satire is very alive here but it constricted to political and sporting life mainly. I'd wait a couple of days though and Jacob Zuma will crack us up with a crazy statement.
 
ramjambunath said:
Of course society sans satire would be dull and monotonous but where's the line to be drawn. I just checked the cartoon and from my extremely limited knowledge of French it seemed a bit too far. Religion, even as seen in the god and religion thread, touches a nerve and things can flare up after the most innocuous statements. One statement used by the offended (this isn't an insinuation on my part) is whether the person do the same against his beliefs. For all I know, Hebdo may well be an atheist but when offended, this seems to be the first line of defence(this holds true for all faiths, as far as I know, in India). MF Hussain had the same problems when he made some controversial art but the reason that there may be more attacks from offended Muslims may be down to the fact that they feel alienated in today's world.

India is a country of numerous religions and if the media had insensitive satirical pieces, the country would flare up everyday. Satire is very alive here but it constricted to political and sporting life mainly. I'd wait a couple of days though and Jacob Zuma will crack us up with a crazy statement.
The English translation would be something like "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter."

BOOM!!!
 
Jul 4, 2011
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rhubroma said:
The English translation would be something like "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter."

BOOM!!!
I figured it was something similar. He was walking a tight rope for quite some time with his controversial satire (and it's not just about Islam) and it just seems to have boiled over.
I'll try and put this as 'satirically' as possible. You can't fart on another man and say he smells. Read in real language as 'you can't bomb other countries and potray them as radicals.' Islam has too many fundamentalists but it's better to check one's backyard before criticising another's.
 
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