treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
President Sarkozy wanted his government to reflect France's ethnic diversity when he came to power. Yesterday that was abandoned.

The French government has become more white and more rightwing in a reshuffle that has included the sacking of two ministers handpicked by Nicolas Sarkozy to bring ethnic diversity to the cabinet.

Click for the full story. )


Also, guess who's Minister of Defense?

What the hell, France. What the hell. Between this and the expulsion of the Roma, what are the chances that we'll get to experience a real-life Norsefire movement within our lifetimes?

Clearly, there is no place for strong-willed, outspoken, non-white women in French politics.
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[personal profile] mistersandman

BRUSSELS - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Pakistan on Thursday to ensure wealthy Pakistanis contribute to helping the country overcome the devastation caused by this summer's floods.

Some have estimated that flood recovery will cost tens of billions — a mammoth sum for a country that has relied on international loans. Aid groups have struggled to raise funds for the country because the disaster unfolded relatively slowly and the number killed remained low compared to other major disasters such as the Haiti earthquake.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while taxpayers in Europe, the United States and other contributing countries are all chipping in," Clinton said after meeting with Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign and security affairs chief.

Saying "the international community can only do so much," she urged the government in Islamabad to "take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources" for the immense task of reconstructing schools, health clinics, bridges, thousands of kilometres of roads and repair new irrigation systems.

Her plea for more action from Islamabad came a day before an international conference is to hear from Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, about his government's long-term economic and other reforms.

The "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" meeting in Brussels brings together 26 nations and international institutions. Established in late 2008, it enables Pakistan to regularly brief the international community on its security and economic challenges, which are acute and directly linked to the instability of neighbouring Afghanistan and its own struggles with Islamic insurgents.

Earlier Thursday, Qureshi told the European Parliament in Brussels that economic aid is key "if you want to help us fight extremism."

"When we are stable we will be able to address the issues of poverty. When we are economically stable we will be able to invest in the sectors that have been ignored in the past, like health and education," he said.

To date, the EU and its 27 member states have contributed nearly $450 million toward flood relief and recovery efforts. The EU has also extended trade benefits to Pakistan. The US has provided $388 million in aid so far and another $75 million in logistical and other support.

Donor nations have warned Pakistan that they cannot foot the entire recovery and reconstruction bill, which some have estimated could surpass $40 billion. U.S. officials have urged Pakistan to improve its tax collection to aid its long-term rebuilding.

After meeting with Ashton, Clinton insisted much remains to be done.

"The progress (the EU and the US) have made together toward fostering stability and prosperity in Pakistan is threatened by the catastrophic damage caused by the floods," she said.

Both she and Ashton stressed their commitment to help Pakistan rebuild itself, adding that a stable Pakistan is essential to the fight against terrorism and the security of Americans and Europeans. The U.S. government warned Americans earlier this month of new terror risks in Europe and focus fell on Pakistan, where U.S. drones have struck suspected al-Qaida targets and where Pakistani officials said eight German militants were killed.

The floods began in late July during unusually heavy monsoon rains, eventually covering one-fifth of the country and affecting some 20 million of its 175 million people. Nearly 2,000 people died, while millions were left homeless, according to the United Nations.

Dozens of bridges were washed away, while more than 1.9 million homes were damaged or destroyed. Around 5.9 million acres of farmland were damaged, a severe blow to agriculture, the most important pillar of Pakistan's economy.



This isn't even a question of tax rates.  Many industrialists and landowners use their government positions to avoid paying taxes entirely in Pakistan. 

It's one thing to offer a helping hand after an enormous tragedy.  It's another thing to build a country from the ground up.  Pakistan borders Afghanistan, you would think they'd know better than to trust the United States with something like this.

treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche

By Martha Nussbaum

In Spain earlier this month, the Catalonian assembly narrowly rejected a proposed ban on the Muslim burqa in all public places -- reversing a vote the week before in the country's upper house of parliament supporting a ban. Similar proposals may soon become national law in France and Belgium. Even the headscarf often causes trouble. In France, girls may not wear it in school. In Germany (as in parts of Belgium and the Netherlands) some regions forbid public school teachers to wear it on the job, although nuns and priests are permitted to teach in full habit. What does political philosophy have to say about these developments? As it turns out, a long philosophical and legal tradition has reflected about similar matters.

Let's start with an assumption that is widely shared: that all human beings are equal bearers of human dignity. It is widely agreed that government must treat that dignity with equal respect. But what is it to treat people with equal respect in areas touching on religious belief and observance?

Click for a coherent, objective, and secular defense of religious and expressive freedoms! )

[For more on this issue, visit the Times Topics page on Muslim veiling.]

Martha Nussbaum teaches law, philosophy, and divinity at The University of Chicago. She is the author of several books, including "Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality" (2008) and "Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities" (2010).


This article is a bit lengthier than the ones that I typically post here, but it is definitely worth the read. As a minority woman, I've been uncomfortable with Europe's burqa-banning tendencies, which to me seemed like sexism and bigotry cloaked in something societally acceptable. (Think about it -- male politicians and the majority populace are restricting women's freedoms to dress and practice their faith as they choose "for their own good.") I'm not Muslim, but "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

I've never really been able to articulate my feelings properly, since all someone would have to say is something along the lines of, "Well, it's a security threat," and my argument would fall apart because "I should hope that it'd take more than some cotton covering someone's face to stump a security check if I have to pay all those taxes for Homeland Security" isn't a very solid rebuttal.

I'm glad that Dr. Nussbaum has said exactly what I have wanted to say to those who would pretend that their own intolerance is a noble cause for the greater good.


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