Realizations of an Undergraduate

I'm a poli sci major, and my focus is mostly on International Relations. My opinions are a little out there. I firmly believe in the Constitution, and the freedom of every individual on the planet. I am mostly focusing on what is going on in the Middle East, but other area's of the world will be mentioned

I will try to update twice a week, if not more.

Followers!

I have just noticed that all the Queued post’s I had for the last few weeks have somehow been deleted. I have most of my notes hand written, so it will take me a little while to actually get them all on here again. I’ll hopefully have most of them done by this weekend!!!

Thanks for waiting on me!

Blunt Amendment

The blunt amendment, though most republicans meant that to be used towards contraceptives, can be used for ANYTHING in healthcare because it’s worded so loosely. Which means that your boss can pick and choose what they want to cover in your healthcare. Thankfully the amendment failed in the Senate, because all I am thinking of is people who have cancer or something worse being denied because their boss’ can. 

But the contraceptive fight is still going on, the conservative republicans are still going to pursue the ban on contraceptive.  

And heres something that’s confusing me…

If republican’s keep saying that government shouldn’t be involved in healthcare, that its a violation of our civil liberty’s and what not … why are they demanding vaginal probing and dictating who can get an abortion and who can have the pill?

Blunt Amendment

The blunt amendment, though most republicans meant that to be used towards contraceptives, can be used for ANYTHING in healthcare because it’s worded so loosely. Which means that your boss can pick and choose what they want to cover in your healthcare. Thankfully the amendment failed in the Senate, because all I am thinking of is people who have cancer or something worse being denied because their boss’ can. 

But the contraceptive fight is still going on, the conservative republicans are still going to pursue the ban on contraceptive.  

Women Taxi Drivers in Egypt

This is taken straight from Yahoo! simply because its brilliant! 

WOMEN TAXI DRIVER’S

 

CAIRO (AP) — It has all the trappings of an Egyptian taxi. The radio is usually tuned to the legendary singer Umm Kulthoum, whose robust voice is a favorite among cabbies. On the dashboard is a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. But startlingly, so are a stick of black eyeliner and lip gloss.

Nadia Abdel-Gaber frequently gets double-takes from customers who hail her cab.

"First thing anyone ever says to me always is ‘How strange a woman is driving a taxi’," said Nadia Abdel-Gaber, who is one of just a handful of female taxi drivers inEgypt.

Driving a cab is considered a man’s work in conservativeEgypt. The genders mix relatively freely here, compared to many other Muslim nations, but the idea of driving the streets and picking up strangers is seen by most as inappropriate for women. Even Abdel-Gaber’s family do not support her work — especially her sister, who lives inSaudi Arabiawhere women are prohibited from driving at all.

But Abdel-Gaber says there’s no shame in standing on her own two feet. A single mother of three teenagers — her husband abandoned them, she says — she needs the work. She owns the cab and previously she rented it out to other drivers. But when they racked up too many maintenance costs, she took the wheel herself.

"Instead of relying on others, I can work and spend on my children’s tutoring and food and outings with their friends," said Abdel-Gaber, who is in her 40s. She has a Masters in agricultural engineering but could never find a job in the field that paid enough.

She selects her customers, passing on young males who may harass her; she never goes to the outskirts ofCairo; and she rarely works at night. But being a woman has perks: She has a roster of female customers who call on her, more comfortable being stuck in traffic with a woman behind the wheel than a man who may sneak leering peeks back at his passenger. And she’s carved out a place for herself in a man’s world. She said she unwinds at night by joining male taxi drivers at a traditional cafe, sipping coffee and playing backgammon.

"Look, job opportunities are hard, so as women we need to see what we can do and just go down and do it," said Abdel-Gaber, a smile rarely leaving her face. "Stop being afraid."

Hamas in Gaza says they will stay out of Israel and Iran war

Gaza’s Hamas rulers said Wednesday they would stay on the sidelines if war breaks out between Israel and Iran, easing a key Israeli concern and distancing the Islamic militants from their sponsors in Tehran.

The comments by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum coincided with speculation that Israel might strike Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. Such concerns were heightened by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tough rhetoric on Iran during his high-profile visit to Washington this week.

Israel believes Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons, while Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. President Barack Obama told Netanyahu at the White House that diplomacy and sanctions must be given more time, but he did rule out military action if necessary to protect U.S. interests.

Israeli military officials have said that in the event of Israel-Iran hostilities, Tehran’s proxies on Israel’s borders — Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon — could open fire at Israel. Israel’s military intelligence chief has warned that Israel’s enemies have about 200,000 rockets and missiles that could strike all parts of the country.

Asked about a possible Hamas attack on Israel, Barhoum said the Hamas arsenal is limited.

"Hamas weapons and the weapons of the Palestinian resistance, in general, are humble weapons that aim to defend and not to attack, and they are to defend the Palestinian people," he told The Associated Press. "That does not give us the ability to be part of any regional war."

In defense of Hamas’ patron, he added, “The world shouldn’t stand idly by concerning the Zionists’ intention to attack Iran. This war is a danger to world peace.”

Hamas has a long history of attacks on Israel, including suicide bombings and thousands of rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip over the past decade. Hamas continues to smuggle weapons, including longer-range missiles, into Gaza through tunnels under its southern border with Egypt.

In its 24-year existence, Hamas has also stayed out of other conflicts, saying its sole purpose is to shake off Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. Hamas does not accept Israel’s existence.

In recent months, Hamas has distanced itself from longtime allies Iran and Syria, mainly over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on regime opponents.

Iran repeatedly urged the Hamas leadership in exile, based in the Syrian capital of Damascus, to side publicly with Assad. Hamas refused, and its top leaders have left Damascus in recent months, seeking refuge in Qatar, Egypt, Turkey and other countries in the region.

At the same time, Hamas has been careful not to cut ties with Iran, since it still relies on financial support from Tehran. Hamas needs those funds to help maintain its government in the Gaza Strip, a territory it seized by force in 2007.

Hamas has largely observed an informal truce with Israel since suffering heavy losses during an Israeli military offensive in Gaza three years ago. The group does not want to provoke another round of heavy fighting, though it has done little to stop militants from smaller groups from firing rockets and mortars into Israel.

Hezbollah has been less clear on how it would respond to an Israeli strike on Iran. Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Iran would not ask Hezbollah to retaliate.

"There is speculation about what would happen if Israel bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities," Nasrallah said at the time. "I tell you that the Iranian leadership will not ask Hezbollah to do anything. On that day, we will sit, think and decide what we will do."

In 2006, Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war that killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon and 160 in Israel. Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel.

In Israel Wednesday, Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, welcomed an upcoming round of talks between six world powers and Iran over its suspect nuclear program. No date has been set.

Amidror said Iran can be prodded into concessions only by the threat of military action, and that there is a chance the talks might fail.

"Without a real military alternative, the Iranians will not make concessions in the talks," he said.

Israeli Leader leaves DC with assurances

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu left WashingtonTuesday with assurances that the United Statesis prepared to use force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, just not yet.

Netanyahu, who met with President Barack Obama on Monday and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, put the world on notice that his patience was wearing thin and, if necessary, he would launch unilateral strikes.

"As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation,” he told 13,000 delegates in a keynote speech on Monday night at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.

"Unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear program has continued to march forward. Israel has waited… for diplomacy to work, we’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.”

Sitting alongside the president at the White House before going into talks on Monday, Netanyahu told Obama thatIsraelmust remain the “master of its fate,” in a firm defense of its right to mount a unilateral strike.

Obama, who assured Netanyahu that he has Israel’s “back,” stressed that he sees a “window” for diplomacy with Iran, despite rampant speculation that Israel could soon mount a risky go-it-alone military operation.

While no one knows exactly what was said behind closed doors in the Oval Office, Obama publicly kept to a far more dovish line and appeared notably at odds with Netanyahu over just how immediate the Iranian threat is.

"This notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or month or two months is not borne out by the facts," he told a press conference Tuesday.

But addressing AIPAC on Sunday, Obama recognizedIsrael’s right to take action on its own and said he was prepared to use force if necessary to snuff out an Iranian nuclear threat.

Obama acknowledged “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.”

"I have a policy to preventIranfrom obtaining a nuclear weapon," he said. "As I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend theUnited Statesand its interests."

World powers on Tuesday responded toIran’s new willingness to discuss the nuclear issue with an offer of talks, which Obama said would “quickly” show whether the Islamic republic was serious about avoiding war.

Obama, seeking a second term in November, argued thatIranwas now feeling the “bite” of tightening sanctions though cautioned he did not expect a breakthrough in a first set of negotiations.

He also slammed Republican candidates for their hawkish statements demanding military action onIran, after leading candidate Mitt Romney earlier said “thugs and tyrants” only understood American readiness to use power.

"This is not a game, and there’s nothing casual about it," Obama said.

After meetingClinton, Netanyahu held talks Tuesday with congressional leaders before flying home.

"We’ve had a very good visit inWashington, first in our discussion with the president in the Oval Office… and now culminating in this remarkable display of solidarity here in the Congress of theUnited States," he said.

"I go back toIsraelfeeling that we have great friends inWashington."

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said: “The looming threat of a nuclearIrancannot be ignored. Now is the time to stand together and we are here today to tell the prime minister that Congress intends to do so.”

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, speaking on behalf of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, reiterated an offer to resume talks with Tehran, which denies it is seeking the bomb.

The Obama administration says it does not believeIranhas taken a decision to develop a nuclear weapon, or that the time is right for military action, preferring to give biting new sanctions time to work.

ButIsrael, which sees a possible Iranian nuclear weapon as a threat to its very existence, claimsIranmay be on the cusp of “breakout” capability — when it could quickly build a nuclear weapon.

In his speech to AIPAC, Netanyahu sought to minimize the differences between himself and theUSpresident.

Obama “stated clearly that all options are on the table and that American policy is not containment,” Netanyahu said. “Israelhas exactly the same policy.”

Yemen soldiers attacked

The first major test to Yemin’s newly elected President Incumbent, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi. The slaying of almost 200Yemensoldiers by al Qeada militants happened over the weekend. President Al-Hadi (for lack of a better abbreviation at the moment) has vowed to crush the terror network and get rid of any military commanders that are still loyal to former President Saleh.

For the second day in a row, thousands of protesters in several city’s across Yemen are demanding that President Al-Hadi prosecute any army commanders who are suspected of negligence or collaboration with al Qeada over Sundays devastating and gruesome attacks. Protesters and military blame the defeat, the deadliest the army has seen in its almost year of campaigning against the militant group, on the ex-leader Saleh. They say that he promoted his allies and relatives on the basis of loyalty, not competence and that that lack of competence is what led them to the fight their having now.

If President Al-Hadi leaves any of these commanders in place, some military officials say, al Qeada is more then likely going to expand areas already under its control in the lawless south or stage similarly bold attacks similar to Sunday’s.

The details of Sunday’s attack on the Abyan province are slow, but what is known is grim. Headless body’s of the soldiers killed are being thrown into the desert for all to see. Military officials are saying that al Qeada militants snuck in through the desert behind theYemenforces around dawn, while many of the soldiers were asleep, and unloaded their guns on them.

Military officials on Tuesday said that the death toll among the troops had risen to close to 200, while another 50 were taken captive and paraded through a near by town. The death toll for the al Qeada militants is 32. Medical officials in the area confirmed the latest death toll, 185, and said that some of the bodies had stab wounds, missing their heads and were sprayed with bullet wholes. The bodies took up all the room at a near by military hospital morgue, some had to be taken to the vegetable freezers because of lack of space.

President Al-Hadi made it clear in his inaugural speech in February that his top two priorities were 1) restructure the country’s military and 2) launch a national dialogue among various political factions. Some of his first decrees were to replace the military commander of the nations southern region where law is almost never found. Major General Mahdi Maqoula, a Saleh loyalist, has been accused countless times by officers under his command saying that he has hindered the arrival of crucial supplies the armed forces need in fighting al Qeada. His replacement came only a few days prior to Sunday’s attack, making many question what Maqoula’s roll in the attacks was. A senior military official who was a member of the defeated force says that the surprise attack has left the troops fearful and suffering from low morale.

"Al Qeada managed to deal a blow to the army’s morale. Imagine how soldiers feel when they see the bodies of their comrades dumped in the desert," he said. The military officials had earlier said that militants overran the base and captured armored vehicles and artillery pieces, which they turned on the army. The senior official said the soldiers were taken unaware [… ] It was a massacre and it came by surprise as the soldiers were asleep," he said. Militants sneaked behind army lines and attacked from the rear where there was "zero surveillance," he said.

The yearlong uprising against Saleh had caused a deterioration of central state authority throughout the country, and allowed al Qeada to seize Zinjibar in May and fight off repeated army offensives to retake it. They captured the nearby town ofJaarlast April. TheU.S.had hoped that replacing Saleh would take some pressure off ofYemen’s government and military, who also confront tribal and separatist insurgencies, and allow them to fight back more effectively against the militants.

Major General Salem Katton, who replaced Maqoula, told his troops on Tuesday that the battle with al Qeada has not started yet.

"The coming days will be decisive and will teach them a harsh lesson," he said.

But he may not yet have the means to follow through; the military officials in Abyan said the forces routed by al Qeada were poorly equipped, and that better-trained, better-armed specialized anti-terrorist units needed to be brought to the front.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of military protocol or because they were not allowed to speak to the media.

Eastern Libya a semi-autonomous region

Tribal leaders and militia commanders on Tuesday declared oil-rich eastern Libyato be a semiautonomous state, a unilateral move that opponents fear will be the first step toward outright dividing the country six months after the fall of Moammar Gaddafi. The thousands of representatives of major tribal leaders, militia commanders and politicians who made the declaration at a conference in Benghazi said the move is not intended to divide the country. They said they want their region to remain part of a unitedLibya but insisted the move was needed to stop decades of discrimination against the east.

The conference said the eastern state, known as Barqa, would have its own parliament, police force, courts and capital — Benghazi, the country’s second largest city — to run its own affairs. Under their plan, foreign policy, the national army and oil resources would be left to a central federal government in the capital Tripoli in the west. Barqa would cover nearly half the country, from central Libya to the Egyptian border in the east and down to the borders with Chad and Sudan in the south. Libya’s National Transitional Council, the interim central government based inTripoli, has repeatedly voiced its opposition to an autonomous east, warning it could eventually lead to the breakup of the North African nation of 6 million.

"This is very dangerous. This is a blatant call for fragmentation. We reject it in its entirety," said Fathi Baja, the head of political committee of the NTC. "We are against divisions and against any move that hurts the unity of the Libyan people."

The declaration underscored the weakness of the NTC, which has been largely unable to establish its authority around the country since the fall of Gaddafi in August and his subsequent death in October. The Council holds little sway even in Tripoli, where militias that arose during the anti-Gaddafi revolt have divided neighborhoods up into fiefdoms.The prime minister of the interim government created by the NTC, Abdurrahim el-Keib, admitted Monday that the government has not been up to the task.

"The government is not doing its job. My evaluation of its performance is not good," he said in an interview on state TV. "The steps we are taking are slow."

The NTC has called for national elections in June to select a 200-member assembly that will name a new prime minister to form a government and then write a constitution.

TheBenghaziconference also illustrated one of the fundamental weaknesses in post-GadhafiLibya— the lack of political institutions. Over 42 years in power, Gaddafi stripped the country of any credible representative bodies. As a result, since his ouster, towns, cities, tribes and militias acrossLibyahave largely taken authority into their own hands. The local power centers have confused and often thwarted the NTC’s attempts to establish any national control.

Tuesday’s announcement aimed to pose a federal system as a fait accompli before the National Transitional Council. The goal is to revive the system in place from 1951 until 1963, whenLibya, ruled by a monarchy, was divided into three states: Tripolitania in the west, Fezzan in the southwest andCyrenaicain the east — or Barqa, as it was called in Arabic. TheBenghaziconference has no official status. The impact it has depends on how much influence its participants can wield among the population of the east and how strongly they push their demands on a resistantTripoli. So far other regions have not made any moves to create their own states or call for a federal system. Easterners say the step is necessary to end the marginalization that the east suffered for decades under Gadhafi’s rule. The former dictator focused development and largesse on the west, allowing infrastructure to decline in the east, an area that was a constant source of opposition to the regime.

Many in the east accuse the National Transitional Council of continuing to favor the west. AfterLibyadeclared liberation in October, the NTC and the interim government moved its offices toTripoli. The majority of ministers in el-Keib’s Cabinet are from the west. Barqa advocates also point to the presence inTripoliof powerful militia groups from the western cities of Zintan and Misrata, who impose their will on the ruling authorities. The two militias swept into the capital in the push that toppled Gadhafi and have since positioned themselves around vital institutions, including the airport.

At the conference, delegates raised the old Barqa state flag — black with a crescent and a star. The gathering appointed Ahmed al-Zubair,Libya’s longest serving political prisoner under Gadhafi, as leader of a planned governing council for Barqa state. Al-Zubair, a descendant of the former Libyan King Idris whom Gadhafi ousted in 1969 coup, is also a member of the National Transitional Council.

The conference said elections would be held in the east in two weeks to chose a governing council. It rejected a draft law by the NTC on the planned June election that would give the east 60 seats in the assembly, compared to around 102 for the west. Drafters say that reflects the west’s larger population, but easterners see it as a continuation of discrimination.

Al-Zubair pledged to protect the rights of the region but also said Barqa state would recognize NTC as the representative forLibyain the international arena.

"Residents of Barqa, we are brothers. We protect each other," he told the gathering. "Libyawill not be divided. It is one nation."

Among those who attended were top leaders of heavyweight eastern tribes, including the Ubaidat, Mughariba and Awajeer, which hold a powerful sway over large sectors of the population in the east. Also attending were commanders from the Barqa Army, a grouping of 61 eastern “revolutionary militias.” Several senior Defense Ministry officials also attended and supported the declaration.

Fadl-Allah Haroun, a senior tribal figure and militia commander, said the declaration aims for administrative independence not separation.

"Federalism is not division but unity. We are not talking about changing the flag or national anthem. We are talking about different administration, a parliament and managing the financial affairs," he said.

Instead of a federal system, the NTC and el-Keib’s government have called for decentralization that would give considerable powers to municipal and local governments — but not such large states — while preserving a strong central government in Tripoli.

Global Powers Offer to Resume Talks

Global powers Tuesday offered to resume stalled talks with Tehran over its contested nuclear drive as US President Barack Obama urged proponents of a military solution to give negotiations a chance.

"On behalf of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, I have offered to resume talks with Iran on the nuclear issue,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

A time and venue still need to be agreed for the talks, added Ashton, who would head what would be an open-ended series of discussions, with no deadline set, should they take place.

In Washington, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wound up a visit dogged by the threat of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intent, Obama urged a peaceful diplomatic solution.

"Iranis feeling the bite of these sanctions in a substantial way. The world is unified,Iranis politically isolated. And what I have said is that we will not countenanceIrangetting a nuclear weapon," Obama said.

"We’re now seeing noises about them returning to the negotiating table, that it is deeply in everybody’s interests, the United States’, Israel’s, and the world’s, to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion.

"And so this notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or month or two months is not borne out by the facts."

Netanyahu has warnedIsraelcannot afford to wait “much longer” for sanctions to work, and said he would “never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation”.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said world powers aim to showIran their willingness to seek a diplomatic solution “by testing its desire to talk and by offering it the opportunity to respond to our legitimate concerns.”

"It is forIranto seize this opportunity," Hague said in a statement. "It is time forIran… to show the world that it wants a peaceful, negotiated solution to the nuclear issue."

France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe agreed.

"Francecalls onIranto seize the opportunity it has been given to escape from the isolation into which it has been plunged by its nuclear programme with military goals," he said in a statement.

"We invite it to work with us towards a rapid diplomatic solution to the crisis arising from its pursuit of sensitive nuclear activity, in violation of its international undertakings, as the last IAEA report made clear."

Western powers suspectIranis seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a charge denied byTehran, which says its atomic programme is for peaceful purposes.

A senior EU official speaking on condition of anonymity said exploratory talks were expected “in the coming days” though negotiations proper were unlikely to kick off beforeIran’s New Year celebrations later this month.

After several failed rounds, “we hope that this timeIranis ready”, said the source, underlining that for the first time there was “a clear written commitment byIranto be willing to address the nuclear issue in talks”.

InIstanbuljust over a year ago,Iranrefused to address questions on its nuclear programme, demanding what diplomatic sources dubbed “pre-conditions”, such as the lifting of sanctions.

In a February 14th letter to Ashton, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, saidTehran was ready to resume the deadlocked talks at the “earliest” opportunity as long as its right to peaceful atomic energy was respected.

His letter, a long-belated response to one from Ashton in October, came as world powers moved to adopt unprecedented economic sanctions against Tehran, including an EU oil ban due to come into force on July 1.

Sanctions were ramped up in the last months after the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report it had evidence the Islamic republic appeared to be conducting research on atomic warheads.

Should talks kick off, both sides will look to “confidence-building” measures, with global powers for instance offering to help boost safety at Iran’s civil nuclear power stations, or assist Tehran in fighting drug trafficking.

That would be conditional onIranagreeing to cooperate with IAEA inspectors and offering assurances it is not on the cusp of producing weapons-grade uranium, diplomatic sources said.

In her letter Tuesday toIran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Ashon said:

"Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature ofIran’s nuclear programme, while respectingIran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy consistent with the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)."

Can you tell what type of voter I am?