Women and girls are now being trafficked out of Kosovo into countries in Western Europe, including Italy, Netherlands and the UK.We hear vague excuses about how it's the third-world environment and the makeup of the forces involved that led to the scandalous sexual horrors visited upon children in the Congo and other UN missions in Africa. Yet here we learn that in the heart of supposedly civilized Europe, at one time 80% of the sex trade was patroned by the finest in Blue Helmets. The girls and women so trafficked receive no health care, are forced to have unprotected sex, and rather than being protected by these enlightened European personnel are further victimized by them. The same girls are then funneled to "advanced Western European democracies" (those are sneer quotes, because I'm sneering) as the percentage of the sex trade made possible by UN personnel declines to a "mere" 30% (indicating that they've created a market, but now that market's grown larger than them and they've spread the terrible corruption to yet another place, not that they've suddenly become a lot more moral).
In 2002, it was reported that 36 percent of the trafficked women and girls in Kosovo were denied any medical care, while only ten percent were provided with regular health care; the majority of trafficked women were forced to have unprotected sex.
To date, no trafficked women or girls have obtained reparations for the physical, emotional and psychological damage they have suffered as a result of these abuses of their human rights.
UNMIK (UN Interim Mission in Kosovo) police and other UNMIK personnel, KFOR (the NATO-led international military force in Kosovo ) personnel and contractors enjoy a general immunity from prosecution, unless explicitly waived by the UN Secretary General, or in the case of NATO, by their respective national commanders.
Waivers were requested and granted in one case in 2002 and another in 2003, enabling the prosecution of two police officers.
No KFOR personnel suspected of trafficking or of using the services of trafficked women or girls can be prosecuted in Kosovo. Amnesty International has been unable to find any evidence of any criminal proceedings related to trafficking against members of KFOR in their home countries.
From January 2002 to July 2003, between 22 and 27 members of KFOR troops were suspected of offences related to trafficking, according to the UNMIK Police Trafficking and Prostitution Unit (TIPU). TIPU was unable to provide further information to Amnesty International as to whether any diciplinary proceedings had been taken against these individuals.
Following the arrival of the international community in Kosovo in 1999 there was an unprecedented escalation of the sex-industry based on trafficked women and girls. In 1999-2000 it was estimated that internationals comprised 80 percent of the clients of trafficked women and girls. In 2002 the figure decreased to around 30 per cent, but at the same time the internationals generated some 80 percent of the industry income. Today an estimated 20 per cent of the client-base come from the international community, which constitutes only about two percent of the population in Kosovo.
While the diplomatic mood in the Mideast may be taking a turn for the better, one classic pattern of anti-Israel media bias remains very much intact: When a Palestinian civilian dies under disputed circumstances, the media (1) overwhelmingly blame Israel, and (2) ascribe a 'revenge motive' to any subsequent Palestinian terror.
On Monday (1/31), 10-year-old Nuran Deab was struck by a bullet in southern Gaza and died shortly thereafter. The IDF immediately suggested the gunshots may have come from nearby Palestinians firing celebratory shots in the air. Further, Reuters stated that 'it did not appear that Israeli soldiers some 600 meters away could have seen into the [school] compound from their position behind high walls.'
Despite this, many news agencies were very quick to promote the Palestinian version of events, backed by the UN:
Agence France-Presse, under the headline 'Palestinian schoolgirl shot dead by Israeli troops in Gaza,' prominently quoted the PA prime minister condemning it as 'a crime.' The Israeli denial of responsibility was buried at the very end of the AFP report.
The Independent based its story on a UN official who directly accused the IDF of firing on Deab, then passed off IDF spokespersons who denied culpability as 'plainly embarrassed.'
Knight Ridder-Tribune quoted both Ahmed Qurei decrying the shooting as an IDF 'war crime,' and a UN official condemning 'the Israeli military's indiscriminate firing into civilian areas.'
This lopsided version of events appears all the more ludicrous given the Jerusalem Post's report that PA police have now arrested a Palestinian man for the shooting.Read the rest at Honest Reporting.
A U.S. human-rights group is protesting Iran's imprisonment of an Iranian pastor and former army colonel convicted of not declaring his conversion from Islam to Christianity before he was promoted to the rank of officer.
A Tehran military court sentenced Hamid Pourmand, 47, to three years in jail Thursday, the maximum penalty, according to a report from the U.S.-based Christian news service Compass Direct.
The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House in Washington has called on the Iranian government to immediately release him.
"This is a shocking travesty of justice, even by Iran's meager standards," said the center's director, Nina Shea. "Hamid Pourmand is serving hard prison time for peacefully exercising his right to free conscience under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
Shea said the fact Pourmand "changed his religion before the revolutionary Islamic regime came to power and has documents showing that he openly lived a Christian life the past quarter century did not protect him from the ideology of hatred against other religions, including other Muslim interpretations, that underpins the Iranian judiciary."
Pourmand is facing attempts to have him tried in an Islamic sharia court, where under charges of apostasy and proselytizing he could face the death penalty, Compass Direct said.
His lawyer plans to appeal the verdict.
The center said it's unclear whether his sentence will take into account the more than five months he already has served in an isolation cell since his arrest on Sept. 9.
The court ordered his immediate transfer to a group cell in Tehran's Evin Prison, which human rights groups have criticized for deplorable conditions and use of torture.
The conviction also brought an automatic dishonorable discharge from the military that stripped Pourmand of his family housing, salary and pension from nearly 20 years of service.
Pourmand, a volunteer lay pastor of a small Assemblies of God church in the southern port city of Bandar-i-Bushehr, became a Christian nearly 25 years ago, Compass Direct said.
The court rejected evidence Pourmand's military superiors recognized several years ago that he was a Christian and even had given him exemptions from participating in Muslim fasts.
Earlier this year, a book written by a former CIA agent in Macedonia hit the bookshelves and amazon.com making waves in both the United States and Macedonia. “Blowing My Cover, My Life as a CIA Spy* (*And Other Misadventures)," is the title of the book written by one Lindsay Moran, a former “diplomat" and spy in the US Embassy in Skopje. She served there for roughly three years, from the middle of 2000 through the middle of 2003.Pretty interesting. So aside from her funny observations about Mediterranean men, she's kind of a dork and a Democratic party hack who doesn't really know what's going on in the Balkans, and is part of the problem.
I knew Lindsay. She always seemed a bit neurotic to me (and of course now we know why), and those of us who knew her always suspected that she worked for the “Company" as it is euphemistically known. Alas, our beliefs have now been vindicated.
Of course I have known other Americans in Macedonia who worked for the CIA (and they are no longer there), but loyalty to my country precludes me from announcing their names or positions. But let’s just say this: the spies are everywhere (how many spies does Macedonia have in, say, Albania, or vice versa?).
In addition to having thought, at the time, that Lindsay was indeed a spy, those of us who knew her also thought that she was not fair when it came to Macedonia or the Macedonians. We always believed she had her own agenda and that it was not only not in the interests of Macedonia, but also not in the best interests of the United States. Again, we have been vindicated in these beliefs by her own words.
Lindsay calls Skopje “unspectacular" and “…a hot, dusty and altogether discouraging place." I can only assume this is because she was too busy playing James Bond to bother to see the city. Later, she makes the bold, sweeping statement that “Macedonians always appeared to be angry." I can only assume that is because she never took time out to get to really, truly know any Macedonians as real friends and another statement of hers – “…I visited less and less frequently with the scant few Macedonian friends I had" – bears that out.
Her most sweeping invective, however, is reserved for the Macedonian army and police. Telling a story about a group of soldiers she ran into one day on Mt. Vodno during the 2001 crisis, she wrote, “To me, they looked like the riffraff of which the Macedonian Army was generally composed." She later calls them the “Hapless Macedonian police or military…" and she calls the Lions “…a rouge police force composed of Macedonian ultranationalists…" and then goes on to outline the Tigers, Wolves, and Scorpions, making the confusing statement that “All these childish animal kingdom names seemed only to highlight the amateurism of the country’s entire security apparatus" failing to note that many other countries’ armed units carry the same or similar names.
Her greatest ire, however, is reserved for Ljube Boshkovski who she labels as “the whack-job interior minister" and “an erratic nutcase," without failing to similarly crucify, let alone mention, Ali Ahmeti. It seems her hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Finally, however, she shows us her true sympathies simply stating “Instinctually, I empathized with the Albanian rebels." Note that it is not only the Albanians she empathizes with, but the NLA itself. She also manages to get a few slurs in at the Macedonians when she states “While the Macedonians took every opportunity to rant against Americans, the Albanians were constantly blowing sunshine up our asses; it was natural to side with them over the Slavs." So, I guess you are Slavs indeed.
Finally, she claims that, after the events of 9/11, Macedonians were greatly pleased that the United States had been attacked simply stating “Among Macedonians, there lingered the inevitable impulse to gloat." I remember the third call I received that day offering condolences to me… it was from President Boris Trajkovski. I never met a Macedonian – or anybody – who gloated over the events of that day. But perhaps she was visiting some Saudi-funded mosque and was confused.
In terms of what she did for the CIA – recruiting individuals to share information with the United States – she does note that the “agents" (as they are called by the CIA) she recruited to give information were, by her own admission, second-rate nobodies with little or no information to actually give, but willing [to get] paid for by the American taxpayers. If true, this is unfortunate and explains why there is a tug-of-war between the CIA today and the Department of Defense and their intelligence gathering operations.
All of this leads me to say this: here we have a left-wing Liberal from one side of the Democrat Party of America (again, by her own admission), biased toward the wrong side in a conflict helping to run US intelligence gathering in the field. No wonder our foreign policy is so confused or wrong at times.
(Note: I do have American Democrat friends who, like me, often disagree with U.S. foreign policy on issues like the bombing of Yugoslavia and Iraq. I often have coffee or drink beer with them and they are fine people. They’re just wrong on many social issues).
I never met a Macedonian – or anybody – who gloated over the events of that day.From Lindsay's book:
Two days after the attacks, a group of Macedonian ultra-nationalists hired a four-man band and rejoiced in front of the American Embassy.I would call that "gloating." And remarks from Macedonians such as "I am sorry for your country, but only a little. Now you know how we feel" were remarakably similar to remarks I've heard from fellow Greeks. The anti-American sentiment is very strong in Macedonia, as it is in Greece. The American Embassy in Skopje (the Macedonian capital) has been attacked twice by angry Macedonian mobs throwing rocks through the windows and setting diplomats' cars on fire. The U.S. spends more money protecting the Embassy in Athens, Greece, than in any other European country.
Which is better — American or British medical care? If a defender of the National Health Service wants to win the argument against a free market alternative, he declares, ‘You wouldn’t want healthcare like they have in America, would you?’
That is the knock-out blow. Everyone knows the American system is horrible. You arrive in hospital, desperately ill, and they ask to see your credit card. If you haven’t got one, they boot you out. It is, surely, a heartless, callous, unthinkable system. American healthcare is unbridled capitalism, red in the blood of the untreated poor.
For goodness’ sake, the American system is so bad that even Americans — plenty of them anyway, if not all — want to give it up. They want something more like the Canadian system or our own National Health Service. That is what Hillary Clinton wanted and there are still plenty of people like her around. Tony Judt, in a recent edition of the New York Review of Books, was damning about American medical care and glowing about European healthcare. Think of all the money that is wasted in America invoicing patients and administering lots of separate, independent hospitals.
At the same time, we can’t help being aware that back here in Britain the NHS is not exactly perfect. The waiting lists have come down, according to the government. They have probably come down somewhat in reality, too. But they still exist and, come to that, there is the worryingly high incidence of hospital infections. So is British healthcare better than American? Or the other way round? And how do you judge?
Let’s try the simple way first. Suppose you come down with one of the big killer illnesses like cancer. Where do you want to be — London or New York? In Lincoln, Nebraska or Lincoln, Lincolnshire? Forget the money — we will come back to that — where do you have the best chance of staying alive?
The answer is clear. If you are a woman with breast cancer in Britain, you have (or at least a few years ago you had, since all medical statistics are a few years old) a 46 per cent chance of dying from it. In America, your chances of dying are far lower — only 25 per cent. Britain has one of the worst survival rates in the advanced world and America has the best.
If you are a man and you are diagnosed as having cancer of the prostate in Britain, you are more likely to die of it than not. You have a 57 per cent chance of departing this life. But in America you are likely to live. Your chances of dying from the disease are only 19 per cent. Once again, Britain is at the bottom of the class and America at the top.
How about colon cancer? In Britain, 40 per cent survive for five years after diagnosis. In America, 60 per cent do. With cancer of the oesophagus, survival rates are low all round the world. In Britain, a mere 7 per cent of patients live for five years after diagnosis. In America, the survival rate is still low, but much better at 12 per cent.
The more one looks at the figures for survival, the more obvious it is that if you have a medical problem your chances are dramatically better in America than in Britain. That is why those who are rich enough often go to America, leaving behind even private British healthcare. One reason is wonderfully simple. In America, you are more likely to be treated. And going back a stage further, you are more likely to get the diagnostic tests which lead to treatment.
Fewer than one third of British patients who have had a heart attack are given beta-blocker drugs, whereas in America 75 per cent of patients are given them. In America, you are far more likely to have your heart condition diagnosed with an angiogram — a somewhat invasive but definitive test. You are far more likely to have your artery widened with life-saving angioplasty. In Britain not very long ago, a mere 1 per cent of heart attack victims had angioplasty. In America you are much more likely to have heart by-pass surgery. In 1996 British surgeons performed 412 heart by-passes for every million people in the population, less than a fifth of the 2,255 by-passes per million performed in the United States. America has many more lithotripsy units for treating kidney stones — 1.5 per million of population compared with 0.2 in Britain.
The United Nations is the tooth fairy of American politics: Few adults believe in it, but it's generally regarded as a harmless story to amuse the children. Since 9/11, however, the UN has ceased to be harmless, and the Democratic presidential candidates' enthusiasm for it has ceased to be amusing. The United Nations has emerged at best as irrelevant to the terrorist threat that most concerns us, and at worst as an obstacle to our winning the war on terrorism. It must be reformed. And if it cannot be reformed, the United States should give serious consideration to withdrawal.
The UN has become an obstacle to our national security because it purports to set legal limits on the United States' ability to defend itself. If these limits ever made sense at all, they do not make sense now.
Yet the UN's assertion of them forces presidents and policymakers into a horrible dilemma. If we obey the UN's rules, we compromise our national security. If we defy them, we expose ourselves to accusations of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
According to the UN Charter, nations are permitted to use military force only in two situations. Article 51 of the charter recognizes an "inherent" right to self-defense against attack. In all other cases where a nation feels threatened, it is supposed to go to the UN Security Council to seek authorization before it takes military action--even action that might forestall an attack.
The trouble is that the UN defines aggression in outdated ways. For the UN, "aggression" means invasion across national borders. Send Nazi shock troops into Poland--that's aggression. Give sanctuary to thousands of anti-American murderers, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, that's not aggression.
In other words, if the United States had sent troops into Afghanistan to shut the camps down, we might well have been branded the aggressor. But if the U.S. had asked the Security Council for a mandate to destroy al-Qaeda's terrorist bases, could the French, Russians and Chinese have been expected to approve? Even after 9/11, there would still have been plenty of people ready to argue that however much they deplored what al-Qaeda had done, Afghanistan--a sovereign state and United Nations member--was not an Article 51 "aggressor."
In other words, under UN rules, the U.S. is obliged to let terrorists strike first before retaliating--and might even be prohibited from striking second. In an age when shadowy radical movements around the globe are seeking weapons that could kill hundreds of thousands of people, these rules are clearly out of date. We need new rules recognizing that harboring terrorists is just as much an act of aggression as an invasion and that those who are targeted by terrorists have an inherent right to defend themselves, preemptively if necessary.
Of course, it won't be easy to persuade the UN to adopt these changes. Many members--including some of our traditional allies--seem much more interested in constraining the United States than they are in defeating terrorism--at least terrorism that is aimed at us.
The UN member states know that the U.S. will in the end do whatever it has to do, regardless of what the UN says. But they also know that the United States pays a price for disregarding the UN. The French in particular benefit from pushing the United States to break the UN's rules: Under French President Jacques Chirac, they are trying to fashion the European Union as a counterweight to the United States, and the image of the U.S. as an outlaw power helps their cause.
In a little more than a decade, our world has been transformed, first by the fall of the Soviet Union and then the events of 9/11. Everything has changed--except for the UN. It remains an invention of a vanished era, designed to solve vanished problems. It must evolve or it will slide from irrelevance to oblivion. If the UN is not part of the anti-terror fight, the United States should not be part of the UN.
Lefties have suffered a long history of oppression and alienation. "Left" was generally synonymous with "evil," and in most societies left-handed children were forced to learn to write with their right hand.Left Handers: The Persecuted Minority No One Ever Talks About
Language isn't exactly sympathetic to lefties, either. Having two left feet is an insult to your dancing skills; left-handed oaths are promises you don't intend to keep; and leftovers are generally not appetizing.
The words "dexterous" and "adroit" are both derived from the Latin and French words for "right," respectively. And the Latin words for "left"? Try "sinister." Even in sign language, raising your right hand means "powerful" and "brave," but covering your right hand with your left means "death" and "burial." Will there ever be an end to the hostilities?