In This edition: Cuban Internet story - Thanks So Much - Graphic Iraq War Images - Values Neutral Schooling & Integrated Schools - The World's Policeman - What's The Link - The Whey Of Life - Once Were Warriors As A Political Weapon - American Terrorism In The Mid East
Scoop welcomes reader feedback. Send your news and views to email@example.com.
Cuban Internet story
I'd like to say Bravo to ambassador Miguel Rameirez's rebutting recent new stories on the Cuban government alledgedly seeking to restrict Internet access.
The key issue is comparing apples with apples. Comparing a developing country's Internet access to first world nations' is massively unjust, and of course Cuba will look bad by comparision.
But when comparing it against other developing nations in the Latin American region, the figures will tell another story. Cuba actually has much better access for the majority of its people than that of US-supported capitalist nations of Central America and South America. Why is that? Its because the many of the populations in these countries have a hard time finding enough food and fighting to get access to education - let alone get a chance to even think about the Internet (or be aware of its existance). These are countries where most of the resources get diverted to a wealthy few. For the vast majority, access to a telephone is considered a luxury!
I have friends and family in Brazil who struggle every day just to put food on the table and are working butts off doing their best provide an education for their kids, with the thought that (perhaps) they might just have a better future. In small communities where local employers pay a pittance to a huge largely out of work workforce, its not uncommon to not receive any salary for a few months - simply because your boss decides that its not convenient to pay you right now. If you complain you'll soon find that you have no work at all, and have become unemployable due to your boss having spread the word around his friends (and perhaps causing other members of your family to lose their jobs also). If you can regularly manage to pay for things like rent, water, electricity and a phone in addition to your food bill then you're considered rich. In this environment, having access to a computer and the Internet isn't very likely all. This is what they call the "Digital Divide" and it affects ALL developing nations, not just Cuba.
Cuba mightn't be perfect, and let's face it - we're not perfect either. However, Cuba is trying very hard to do something positive. They are putting huge efforts into fostering computer literacy among their population, and have recognised that knowledge skills are crucial for economic growth and future prosperity. The fact that there have been so many ordinary Cubans scamming free Internet accounts and connecting from home or other places shows that this effort is actually paying off. And given that it's the government footing the bill for this I can easily see why they're nervous - they've become victims of their own success. Paying for your own Internet access is bad enough (especially when you get charged per MB), let alone paying for the entire country.
This isn't some deep dark plot to control political thought. Most people's home Internet use is for actually for entertainment purpose. Money really is the issue, as the Cuban government have clearly stated - those expensive satellite links and fibre-optic cable connecting Cuba to the rest of the world don't come free. This is important when you also consider the escalated prices that Cuba is forced to pay, and the difficulties of access, all due to the US trade embargo.
True, these may be words coming from a pro-Cuba supporter (having set up www.cubafriends.org.nz), and perhaps I am a little biased. But my bias is based on having actually travelled there and seen the country with my own eyes and met its people. Plus I have lived in and travelled in other Latin American countries so that I feel that I can make a reliable comparison.
Thanks So Much
What is it about a newspaper in New Zealand!
Thanks so much for posting this nice story by the Cuban Ambassador responding to Amnesty International. Cuba so rarely gets a decent break in the media, and I'm grateful for what you've done.
I spend lots of time in Cuba and am running an electronic news service about the island. Have written a great deal more about all of this Cuba and internet stuff. You can see a few of my writings here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23065 and there's a good deal more as well.
And my site (nothing commercial, just ideas): http://www.walterlippmann.com
Graphic Iraq War Images
Pretty disturbing photos, but thanks, Scoop, for publishing them - can you imagine the impact they would have if shown on prime time US TV ? Which is obviously why they haven't been ...
how can you believe that these photos you have from Al Jazeera are really related to the U.S. led war. they could be from any of a number of atrocities from Saddams regime. Al Jazeera is not necessarily trust worthy.
Values Neutral Schooling & Integrated Schools
It seems parents in New Zealand are parallel with parents in Australia in their shared desire to send their children to integrated schools which are not afraid to teach traditional values, absolute truth, and historically tested morality as part of the school curriculum. The increasing rejection by parents of Ministry of Education inspired "values neutral" (read "amoral") state education should be a significant wake up call for governments in both countries. As a result of this demand, funding for integrated schools in Australia now exceeds funding for state schools - so much for Trevor Mallards "elitist education" bleatings regarding New Zealand! Despite the atheistic socialist lefts' best efforts to secularise education through championing long-refuted humanistic philosophies, the majority of parents seemed to have recognised the folly of such a bankrupt "worldview", and have drawn their own line in the sand against it. Could it be that the much heralded "silent majority" ! have begun to find their voice? Watch this space!
Stephen D. Taylor
The World's Policeman
A recent article by D. Eugene Lichty, McPherson, Kansas makes the comment "The U.S. Army is spread not too thin but far too wide. How can any nation be entitled to plant its military in 120 countries?"
A number of other letters have followed a similar theme by questioning why the U.S. attempts to play "God".
While not always agreeing with aspects of United States external policies, I feel obliged to respond to the criticism being heaped on the United States by their detractors.
Who, if not the United States, has either the resource or the will to take on the responsibility of "World Policeman"?
Is a "World Policeman" required I hear people ask.
The short answer to that is a resounding "YES".
The world today is a vastly different place to that of as little as 60 years ago.
Then, people were nowhere as well travelled as they are today. National boarders were tight, extensively policed and rarely crossed except by intrepid and affluent travellers.
Since then with the collapse of the "cold war", "perestroika" and the advent of affordable air and sea travel, those boarders have opened and increasing numbers of third world countries have experienced losses of population to developed countries and global migration has increased 10-fold over the previous 60 years.
Added to that has come the demise of "colonialism" and rise of "nationalism" as traditional colonial powers withdrew from their overseas dominions and left vast power vacuums to be filled with little or no support to ensure honest and/or effective democratic governments were in place or likely.
The combination of the above factors has largely led to the global situation we have today where there are numerous countries rife with ideological, national and tribal corruption and in-fighting, lack a measurable industrial or agricultural base (or have destroyed these in post-colonial excesses), suffer from extreme drought and are riddled with poverty.
The extremists within these countries are now holding not only their own people to ransom, but the developed countries as well through acts of terrorism and the never ending demands for greater and greater amounts of aid through the various agencies funded by them. Aid which appears to rarely reach the people most in need.
What is the solution advocated by many of those old colonial powers? Pump in more money through the old and largely ineffective institutions such as the World Bank, IDB and UN and provide vast amounts of arms paid for largely by the aforementioned aid. So what goes out comes back resulting in a vast recycling of the same money that achieves little or nothing in creating overall health or wealth for the third world countries.
What the United States has (and is) doing has to be applauded.
It is taking on the problem countries of the world with direct and incisive action.
Not always effective and not always correct.
It does, however, put the rest of the procrastinating world community "on notice" that the current world situation is no longer tolerable or acceptable and it is time to "get off ones derriere and fix it"
With other governments displaying a distinct lack of interest in committing themselves to such a difficult (and politically and financially unrewarding) task, as shown when the United States called for assistance in the initial stages of the Iraq war, yet clamour to be "in on the kill" when it came to obtaining reconstruction work, why should the United States not arbitrarily take on the role of "World policeman"?
No one else wants to unless there is something in it for them.
What's The Link
It is becoming increasingly obvious that this government has little or no regard for the need to ensure "fiscal prudence" when dealing with monies from the public purse.
This is exemplified in the recent debacle over providing funding to Te Wananga O Aotearoa of nearly $600,000, ostensibly to train 776 people on its Certificate in Preparation for Police Recruitment course (24 Jan).
A course which (it now appears) has no standing whatsoever, is neither supported or endorsed by the police and does nothing other than increase career expectations/aspirations that will not be met.
This is not strictly an issue of possible misappropriation of government funding by New Zealand's biggest Maori university (although the fact they have issued misleading statements on their web site as to the ability of the course to deliver the necessary skills has to be questioned).
Rather, it is a blatant display of crass stupidity and lack of accountability on behalf of the government and of the Education Ministry in particular.
While not acceptable, we are all aware there is no sector of industry or the community beyond trying "it on" when there is the potential for "free money" on the fiscal conveyor belt.
However, what is totally unacceptable is for government and its ministries to blithely hand out public monies to groups and institutions without ensuring that the claims made by those have been checked and verified and that the monies are used for the intended purpose.
With its close to $7bn surplus sitting in the public purse waiting for the "rainy day" (read - voter carrots), it seems very much as though this government has become so blasé about its riches it is no longer concerned nor interested in the fact it is public money derived largely from that percentage of the voting public that does not subscribe to its ideological nonsense.
The Whey Of Life
"PM has no salve for Kiwi pain" (17 Jan).
At last, a begrudging admission that our first lady and her prince consort Mr Cullen are fallible and have no answers to the pain being inflicted by the Kiwi dollar juggernaut.
There is little joy to be gained from this momentous admission but at last, maybe, people will begin to realise that there is more to good governance than just being able to spread an ever thicker layer of butter to all and sundry at the expense of those who provide the whey of life.
Once Were Warriors As A Political Weapon
The attempt by "Once Were Warriors" director Jim Moriarty to use his upcoming stage show as a political weapon against Section 59 of the Crimes Act dangerously crosses the boundary between entertainment and politics, not to mention reality and fantasy. Moriarty has mistakenly welded "discipline" and "punishment" to the "abuse of children", and now seems determined to support the removal of a significant bastion of parenting from parents, that being the correction of their children. We removed corporal punishment from schools, and both assaults on teachers and school bullying statistics rose dramatically. We commit the same folly as Rousseau and Spock when we remove the experience of personal consequence (a smack on the legs or a cuff on the ear not excluded), and replace it with "blame the system" and "be nice". As a young lad growing up, I thought twice about my actions when I knew that a cane, a strap, or a kick in the butt were the most likely result of my folly. When I d! id transgress and was disciplined for it, I quickly learnt not to the next time, having been acutely reminded of where the boundaries lay. Rather then perpetuate Moriarty's myth by attending his show, I'll be hiring the video.
Stephen D. Taylor
American Terrorism In The Mid East
Thankyou Scoop for real media and reporting from the mid east. In australia we are spoon fed murdoch media crap and lies so it is very important to get the truth from your sources. Thankyou and Bless you all. Keep up the good work!