HOME-MADE pornographic videos shot by a United Nations logistics expert in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked a sex scandal that threatens to become the UNโs Abu Ghraib.
The expert was a Frenchman who worked at Goma airport as part of the UNโs $700 million-a-year effort to rebuild the war-shattered country. When police raided his home they discovered that he had turned his bedroom into a studio for videotaping and photographing sex sessions with young girls.
The bed was surrounded by large mirrors on three sides, according to a senior Congolese police officer. On the fourth side was a camera that he could operate from the bed with a remote control.
When the police arrived the man was allegedly about to rape a 12-year-old girl sent to him in a sting operation. Three home-made porn videos and more than 50 photographs were found.
The case has highlighted the apparently rampant sexual exploitation of Congolese girls and women by the UNโs 11,000 peacekeepers and 1,000 civilians at a time when the UN is facing many problems, including the Iraqi โoil-for-foodโ? scandal and accusations of sexual harassment by senior UN staff in Geneva and New York.
The prospect of the pornographic videos and photographs โ now on sale in Congo โ becoming public worries senior UN officials, who fear a UN version of the scandal at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. โIt would be a pretty big problem for the UN if these pictures come out,โ? one senior official said.
Imagine a world without France... Is it possible? For centuries scholars have pondered the problem of France - trying to balance their hatred of France with their natural reluctance to destroy a whole country and all of its inhabitants.
In recent years the problem has been resolved: By smashing their heads repeatedly against hard, gravelly surfaces, the scholars discovered that the more pain that they were in, the less they cared about the moral implications of destroying France. So - blood pouring from their gashed foreheads - the great leaders of the world organised for France to be removed.
In a dizzying melange of history, myth, and magical realism, first novelist Barkhordar-Nahai chronicles the tragedies and triumphs of Iran's Jewish community. The novel follows the fortunes of one family from the late 18th century, when Jews weren't allowed to go out in the rain for fear that a Jewish raindrop would contaminate a Muslim, through Khomeini's Islamic revolution, when Jews only one generation from the ghetto again became the victims of Islamic fundamentalism. From Esther the Soothsayer, who can predict the deaths of Shahs, through 116-year-old Peacock, born into poverty in the ghetto who lives to see the emancipation of Jews and then their eventual destruction by the mullahs, characters suffer unspeakable horrors and yet retain an unquenchable spirit of survival.
Some 600 prominent Palestinians, including top officials, cabinet ministers, legislators, intellectuals and poets, have called for an end to armed attacks on Israel and urged the Palestinian Authority to push for democratic reforms.
The appeal was made in an open letter to the Palestinian leadership published in Palestinian newspapers on Sunday.
If Arabs can live as equal citizens in Israel, able to be elected to the Knesset, or serve on Israel's Supreme Court, why can't Jews be equal citizens in the democratic Palestinian state in the making, with full rights, responsibilities, and privileges?
The comparison between Israel and the old South Africa doesn't fly, but the comparison between the Palestinian state that they're trying to sell us, and the old racist South Africa, fits quite nicely.
On the other hand, the correct comparison is between Israel and the new multi-racial South Africa. The population of South Africa today is about 75% black, with the remainder made up of white, coloreds, and Indians. Israel's population is about 80% Jewish, with the remainder Arab, Druze, Bedouin, Circassian, Armenian, etc. Both are democracies with a dominant majority and minorities sharing equal rights.
The proposed Palestinian state will have an estimated population of between 2.4 and 2.9 million people, and almost 10% of the population is Jews. In Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - there are about 1.5 to 1.8 million Arabs and almost 250,000 Jews, or about 15%. When you include the post-1967 parts of Eastern Jerusalem that some want to make into the Palestinian capital city, it brings the total number of Jews in the so-called "occupied territories" to about a half a million, or almost 20% of the proposed Palestinian state.
So why exactly can't Jews stay in "democratic" Palestine?
The late Chicago columnist Mike Royko often told a story about election night 1960 in Illinois, and the Presidential contest between then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. As Kennedyโs lead over Nixon in Illinois kept falling through the night, Robert (Bobby) Kennedy, the Senatorโs campaign manager, nervously kept calling then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, the father of the current Mayor Daley, to get an update on the race. Daley kept assuring Bobby that there was nothing to worry about. Illinois would come through in the end for his brother. Kennedy continued to remain one state short of victory in the Electoral College as night turned into day at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Bobbyโs growing nervousness finally caused him to blow up at Daley and demand an explanation as to why the Mayor could be so sure of eventual victory in the state. Daley told Bobby that he was โholding outโ? some precincts in the city, to which Bobby replied: โHow do you know they will be enough?โ? Daley replied: โI assure you they will be enoughโ?.Read it all, and be enlightened.
One might have hoped that 44 years on, we would have evolved into a somewhat more transparent and legitimate way of deciding elections, particularly close ones.
Unfortunately, the events unfolding in Washington State the past few weeks in the very tightly contested race for Governor, suggest the Daley approach to politics is still being practiced. When your candidate (in this case, the Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire) appears to be coming up short, the Party works to find some โmissingโ? votes. When they are still short at the end of the count, they have a recount, and find some more that need to be counted. When that still fails to put their candidate over the top, they demand and pay for a statewide hand recount, and โfindโ? some more. The process, as in Florida in the 2000 Presidential race, is to keep counting and finding votes until your candidate eventually takes the lead. Then you stop counting. In Washington State in 2004, Democrats in King County are behaving like Chicago Democrats in 1960, and Broward, Dade and Palm Beach County Democrats in 2000.
The world's most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into villages and seaside resorts across southern and southeast Asia on Sunday, killing more than 7,200 people in six countries.
As with so many members of this โhinge generation,๏ฟฝ? the Holocaust was not spoken of in my home, but, rather, was conveyed by strained silences and disconnected emotions.
Tony Blair has ordered military chiefs to prepare to send British troops to intervene in Sudan in the New Year.Thank you, Tony.
The Prime Minister has waved aside concerns that the Army is already too committed in Iraq and Afghanistan to make a significant contribution to a peace-keeping mission in Africa.
Chiefs of staff have been told to prepare plans to send up to 3,000 troops to the troubled Darfur region amid concern that the humanitarian crisis will dramatically worsen. The deployment will be discussed early next month at a meeting with senior military officials. "When you decide to make an intervention you have got to be able to move fast," a minister told The Independent on Sunday.
Troops would be sent as part of the new European Union Rapid Reaction Force which Mr Blair has said he wants to be operational "as soon as possible in 2005". He added during a visit to Ethiopia in October that Africa should be the "top priority" for the new force. Any deployment to Africa would stretch the military to its limits. Britain already has more than 40,000 service personnel, around a fifth of its total, serving abroad.