The first time Knowledge Mbanda found a dead baby in the drains of Harare, he was horrified. “It is completely against our culture to abandon children,” he said. “I thought it must be of a woman who had been raped or a prostitute.”
But now he and fellow council workers find at least 20 corpses of newborn babies each week, thrown away or even flushed down the lavatories of Zimbabwe’s capital.
The dumping of babies, along with what doctors describe as a “dramatic” increase in malnourished children in city hospitals, is the most shocking illustration of the economic collapse of a country that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa
If ever there was a modern story of a totalitarian nightmare fueled by violence, racism and greed, Zimbabwe has come to epitomize it. As the story notes, the country which was once a net exporter of food now can't feed it's own. And, as usual, it is the youngest who suffer the most. And Robert Mugabe, the ruler of this benighted nation? He refuses to seek food aid for his starving population.
The trial of a young "femme fatal" used to lure a Jewish man to his torture death has shocked France:
Thanks to Yalda’s charms, Halimi was imprisoned and tortured with acid and cigarette burns for more than three weeks in the heart of a council estate.
More than 30 neighbours in the building knew what was happening but said nothing about the crime, part of a worrying wave of attacks against Jews all over the country.
She belonged to a gang known as the "Barbarians". Seems an appropriate name, doesn't it? The latest round of violent anti-Semitism has sent some French jews emigrating to Israel. The highest number in 35 years (3,300) went last year.
Also in France, the demonstrations continue against the government plan to provide employers with the right to let anyone under 26 go without cause during a two-year trial period. Chirac addressed the nation:
"I believe the First Employment Contract (CPE) can be an effective tool for employment," he said. But he said he had also heard the "anxieties being expressed by many young people and their parents" over the contract, which allows employers to fire under 26-year-olds during a two-year trial period without explanation.
"That is why I have asked the government to immediately prepare two modifications to the law on the points which have been at the heart of the debate. The (trial) period of two years shall be reduced to one year. And if the contract is broken, the right of the young worker to know the reasons shall be written into the new law," he said.
And the nation, or at least the protesters, reacted:
Chirac's address was booed in the Place de la Bastille and other squares of Paris, where thousands gathered in the evening chanting slogans such as "Chirac resign!" and "Chirac piss off, the street rules!"
It appears that the latter slogan may be more true than Chriac and the rest of France may wish to admit.
The protests in France have had an effect outside of France's borders ... like Germany:
As French police battled students protesting against flexible hire and fire laws, Germany's Social Democrat labor minister stunned coalition partners by stopping a similar measure agreed upon in Germany.
One of the grand coalition's first labor market reforms — and the one most difficult for social democrats to swallow — was the decision to allow companies to hire and fire employees during their first two years of employment.
Among those agreeing to the reform was new labor minister, and former head of the SPD party, Franz Müntefering. But in an article in Wednesday's Handelsblatt newspaper, Müntefering announced that he was stopping the reform, accusing the conservative parties of wanting too much.
Anyone who thinks backing off on economically unsound policies to which the population has become dependent is easy needs to enroll in a Psychology 101 refresher. And, as with all politicians everywhere, they have no problem being the candy man, but when it comes to being the one who has to stop the flow of candy for the health of all, they want no part of it. We, of course, are seeing the same sort of problem playing out here in the immigration debate.
Ian Robinson, writing in the Calgary Sun, is still stunned by the reaction of the 3 peace-activists rescued by coalition forces in Iraq:
When the three Western hostages were rescued by coalition forces in Iraq last week and returned to Canada, was I the only one who was disappointed?
Was I the only one who thought: Dear Lord. Is THIS what all the fuss was about?
These smarmy, international busybodies, the Gladys Kravitzes of the Iraq occupation, peering out at the world from behind the curtains with their pursed little disapproving lips?
These sanctimonious, reality challenged little creeps?
And even after the release, the organization to which they're attached was still taking metaphorical shots at the coalition of troops who rescued them.
"As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to non-violence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues," their press release said.
What would the hostages have done if shots had been fired? Voluntarily returned to captivity?
If ever a group wasn't worth the effort and risk to free them, it's these guys.
Peace-makers? It wasn't the coalition forces who created the potentially violent confrontation, was it?
Losses in the war on terror and against totalitarian Islamists aren't only suffered here. Michele Mandel writes a moving tribute to a fallen Canadian soldier in the Toronto Sun:
“He was proud to be a soldier,” Chrissy told the Edmonton Sun before leaving to receive her husband’s remains. “He was dedicated — to me and our baby — but also to Canada.
“I’m not angry that he’s gone, only heartbroken.”
As are we all.
The Egyptian blogger who writes "Rantings of a Sandmonkey" brings us up to date on the Danish cartoon controversy. It seems Egyptian cartoonists have struck back. And yes, there are anti-Semitic cartoons among the bunch:
Guess we are not letting this one go for a long long time!
I notice that the Christian Peace Keepers and their like tend to frequent dangerous places, full of Westerners...CPT doesn’t seem to like Darfur, North Korea, Zimbabwe or Iraq pre-Saddam. It only counts as Peace Keeping if there are white folks around, the brown, yellow, and black folk can kill each other with impunity, because well...I don’t know ... it’s natural, it’s not Imperialism? I can’t say, I await Unahop or Pogue or Mk to explain to my why CPT and ISM seem only to worry about victims of Western Imperialism/Agression. The cynic in me says that it’s because the Westen troops ar far less likely to kill them out of hand plus in the West someone will report their doings and "speaking truth to Power" whereas as in many of the places I mentioned they’d just get imprisoned and killed and no one would ever hear of them.
I have to struggle not to feel Schadenfreude over their troubles. They have been so smug and arrogant so long.
And you can argue that they deserve exactly what they’re getting because (1) they laid the groundwork for it, and (2) they are completely unwilling to step back from the abyss, no matter how clearly the coming disaster can be seen.
But in the end, I don’t want France to become an economic basket case. I don’t want it to be rife with civil war, or under the effective control of a Muslim minority-on-the-way-to-majority. They lie at the center of Europe. What we hope Iraq does to the Middle East is mirrored in what France might do to Europe in reverse.
Oh god, I am so afraid to say this, but here it is. Europe needs to revert back to some sort of dictatorship for a while. Its the only thing that will work. Of course it can’t be a Nazi or Left wing dictatorship, Maybe we can find the great-great grand nephew of Napoleon?