S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Far, far away, other things are happening -

Today is the beginning of a new week without Sunday morning's TV and newspaper focus on the proverbial "lint in the navel" of the U.S. The internet and the blogosphere are fascinating resources for regaining the world wide perspective.
Blogospher S/SW metrics - As I recently read my SiteMeter reports about visitors to my blog, I was amazed by the variety of different nationalities of S/SW visitors. Here is a recent breakdown of my readership, continent by continent: North America - 68%, Europe - 16%, Asia - 7%, Oceania/Australia - 2%, Africa - 2% and South America -1%.

What were they reading? Canadian and British readers had the same general interests as American readers. A Malaysian visitor wanted read about creativity, and someone in Saudi Arabia was interested in the subject of blogging. My post on oil was viewed by readers from Brazil, China, and New Delhi. Australians wanted to learn about nuclear energy and mid-eastern women's issues. What triggered these interests? Were the readers just curious or was there something going on in that country that correllated with the subject? More specifics follow:

  • The EU, Japan and Italy, in unusually large numbers of visitors, clicked on two Italian blog-links to my post, "What's Your Score?" (about the NSA's Automated Targeting System,used for traveler terror ratings). These days Italians may merely be interested as real or potential international travelers, or there may be a larger interest due to the CIA/Italian agent pending trial story that follows. Today's Yahoo!News/AP headline reads, "Italy court hears arguments on CIA case in January." Quote,
    A Milan court will hear arguments on January 9 on whether to try CIA and Italian agents on charges of kidnapping a terrorism suspect in Milan and flying him to Egypt, where he says he was tortured, a court source said on Monday.
    Prosecutors want to try 26 Americans, most believed to be CIA agents, and six Italians, including the former head of Italy's SISMI military intelligence agency.
    Prosecutors believe the CIA agents, with help from SISMI, grabbed Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr off a Milan street in February 2003, bundled him into a van and flew him out of Italy from a U.S. airbase.
  • My readers in Sweden and South Africa were interested in the subject of leadership. South Africa produced one of the finest leaders ever, Nelson Mandela. Sweden recognizes outstanding world leaders annually with the prestigious Nobel awards. Mandela was a peacemaker at heart. Today's Nobel peace prize goes to a man who believes peace will come out of economic development. The Yahoo!News/AP headline of Dec. 11 reads, "Nobel laureate: Poverty fight essential." Quoting from the story,
    Economist Muhammad Yunus accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday for his breakthrough program to lift the poor through tiny loans, saying he hoped the award would inspire "bold initiatives" to eradicate a problem at the root of terrorism. Yunus, a 66-year-old Bangladeshi, shared the award with his Grameen Bank, which for more than two decades has helped impoverished people start businesses by providing small, usually unsecured loans known as microcredit.
    "We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time," Yunus told hundreds of guests at City Hall in Oslo, Norway. "I believe putting resources into improving the lives of poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns."
    In his speech, Yunus also warned about the potential costs of globalization without help for the world's poor.
  • An Egyptian S/SW reader was curious about what I had to say about Israel. The story of Egypt and Israel is a fascinating element of the situation in the region. I begin with a bit of trivia. On e-Bay today you can bid, starting at $5, for news clippings of the signing of Egypt and Israel's signing of their formal treaty in 1979. The e-Bay description reads: "NY DAILY NEWS AND NY TIMES - PAGES YELLOWED." It is still in force and it has held. However, Daniel Pipes maintains that the treaty between the two countries is, for all practical purposes, a failure. More currently, Palestinian Pundit posted on Dec. 8 about the Baker-Hamilton ISG report, stating that former Secretary Baker wants Israel excluded from his proposed mid-east regional conference. To quote,
    The White House has been examining a proposal by James Baker to launch a Middle East peace effort without Israel.
    The peace effort would begin with a U.S.-organized conference, dubbed Madrid-2, and contain such U.S. adversaries as Iran and Syria. Officials said Madrid-2 would be promoted as a forum to discuss Iraq's future, but actually focus on Arab demands for Israel to withdraw from territories captured in the 1967 war. They said Israel would not be invited to the conference.
    As Baker sees this, the conference would provide a unique opportunity for the United States to strike a deal without Jewish pressure, an official said. This has become the most hottest proposal examined by the foreign policy people over the last month.
    Officials said Mr. Baker's proposal, reflected in the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, has been supported by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
  • Germans were interested in reading my references to NATO. U.S. General James Jones recently retired as the head of the NATO Command. The general who former oversaw Guantanamo Bay was sworn in to replace Jones a week ago. NATO is fighting the tough war in Afghanistan. The Middle East remains in crisis and the U.S remains in crisis. But Germany's Prime Minister Merkel is trying to help out by meeting with leaders. A Reuters Dec. 10 story carried this headline: "Merkel sees hopeful signs from Israel over Mideast"
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday positive signals coming from Israel should be used to make progress towards securing peace in the Middle East.
    Speaking after a meeting with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and two days before a visit from Israel's Premier Ehud Olmert, Merkel reiterated she would use Germany's six-month presidency of the EU next year to renew peace efforts.
    "We want to use these hopeful signals which are being sent by the Israeli government to make progress," Merkel told a joint news conference with Mubarak. "We need results in order to halt the violence in the Palestinian territories."
    Merkel and Mubarak agreed on the need to renew the so-called quartet -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- who launched the Middle East "road map" in 2003 which was intended to revive talks on a long-term peace.
  • The Romanian reader searched on "warriors." If I were a new Congressional Representative or Senator trying to study Eastern Europe before my service on the Foreign Relations Committee, I would go to the Library of Congress for info on Romania. There I would find that it is much more than just a poor nation with many orphans. The Yahoo!News & AP headline today is "Romanian prisoners on a hunger strike:"
    More than 6,000 inmates at 24 prisons around Romania took part in hunger strikes and other protests Sunday to demand amnesty and better living conditions. . .Human rights groups have criticized the harsh living conditions in Romanian prisons, which are severely overcrowded and poorly funded. In many prisons, inmates have to share beds, and an insufficient number of guards means many activities, such as outdoor walks and exercise, are restricted.
It feels strange to know that someone from Russia, Italy, China, Malaysia or Syria is reading my blog. It also feels humbling because I am reminded again of the importance of maintaining the highest possible level of journalistic responsibility that I, as a mere amateur, can achieve.

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