Friday, April 08, 2005

Minutemen Cause Mexico to Discourage Illegals

Apparently a few days of patrols by a group of private US citizens has produced a more drastic change in illegal immigration patters than anything done by the US government in years. More embarassing to Washington, the presence of the much-maligned Minutemen on the Arizona border has forced the Mexican government to do what no one in Washington to persuade them to do: dissuade Mexicans from illegally crossing into the US.
Mexican police, humanitarian workers and military personnel are trying to dissuade migrants from illegally entering the United States until after a month long protest here against lax enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Mexicans are telling the prospective border crossers that Minuteman Project protesters will hurt them when they enter Arizona, and also are moving the migrants away from the zone being patrolled by the protesters.

The Mexican government has been distributing a red flier headlined '¬°Peligro!' meaning 'danger,' and featuring an icon of two crossed rifles. The flier warns readers that hundreds of 'vigilantes,' whom it says could be armed but are not part of the U.S. Border Patrol, will guard that segment of the border 24 hours a day all month.
The mention of "humanitarian workers" requires some clarification.
Enrique Enriques Palafox, a commander of Grupo Beta, a Mexican government-funded humanitarian organization, said his group wants to protect the migrants and is willing to 'terrify' them into delaying their journey.

'We know [the Minuteman volunteers] are armed and our job is to protect migrants,' said Bertha de la Rosa, a coordinator for Grupo Beta, which yesterday loaded pickup trucks with migrants on the Mexican side of the border and relocated them.
In short, the Mexican government is funding activists who assist Mexicans and others in illegally crossing into the US. Or put another way, the Mexican government is deliberately facillitating the invasion of US territory by millions of aliens. At best, that seems like a profoundly hostile act. The Bush administration has gone to great lenghts to ignore or downplay the implications of Mexican government policy, kowtowing to Mexican President Vincente Fox at every opporuntity.

The Minutemen's success in mitigating illegal crossings is acknowleged by both US and Mexican officials.
A Mexican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, yesterday said migration from Mexico has dropped by 50 percent along the 20-mile stretch of border that is being monitored by about 200 Minuteman volunteers.

Border Patrol officials have acknowledged a drop in the number of illegal aliens apprehended since the protest began, but said the reduction could also be attributed to the presence along the border here of Mexican police and military personnel.

'It doesn't matter whether the reason is that we are on the border or that the Mexican government has clamped down on their side because of us,' Minuteman organizer Chris Simcox said.

'The object of our protest was to show that a presence on the border would significantly impact on the number of people crossing into the United States,' he said.

'I think it is clear we have already shown that to be true,' said Mr. Simcox, a newspaper publisher and founder of the Civil Homeland Division organization in Arizona.

Diego Padilla, spokesman for Gov. Eduardo Bours Castelo of the Mexican state of Sonora, says more than 40 Sonora State Preventive Police are working with the Mexican military and Grupo Beta to locate and move migrants from the border areas south of here to Agua Prieta, 15 miles east, near Douglas, Ariz.
Prior to the Minutemen patrols, the Mexican government had a completely differenta (and rather aggressive) attitude toward illegal immigration to the US.
Earlier this year, the Mexican government distributed about 1.5 million comic-book guides that warned Mexican nationals about the dangers of crossing illegally into the United States and offered tips on how to stay safe. It was published by Mexico's Foreign Relations Department.
The success of the Minutemen should inspire more Americans to join their cause. If the government cannot be prompted by the force of public opinion to protect the country's borders and enforce its laws, then perhaps only citizen protest can motivate Washington to take action. It seems to have caused Mexico to back off its relentless promotion of illegal immigration. However, this situation may only be temporary. Should Mexico find US borders more consistently patrolled by private American citizens, it may be tempted to take stronger measures to threaten those volunteers. Mexican aggression against the US over the past two decades have been largely passive (promoting illegal immigration). If the American citizens or the US government decide to seriously combat this Mexican invasion, the Mexican government may attempt more forceful measures to test American resolve. Border disputes between nations rarely remain non-violent. If Mexico falls under the impression that it can intimidate US citizens and politicians, it will act accordingly.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Border Agency Nearly "Overwhelmed"

The mass influx of millions of Mexicans illegally crossing the US-Mexico border has reached such a pandemic state that the head of the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has admitted that his agency is all but incapable of stemming the tide.
CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner acknowledged in a television interview Monday that the Border Patrol is 'almost ... being overwhelmed' by illegal immigration. The Border Patrol caught about 1.1 million illegal immigrants in fiscal 2004, but an estimated 10 million illegal aliens are in the country.

'This is like a sinking ship with a hole in it. You've got to plug the hole. You've got to stop the illegal migration into the United States,' Bonner said on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.

'If you don't do that ... you're just bailing water out of a sinking ship,' he added. 'So the very first thing we have to do is to gain control of our borders. The next thing we need to do is ... identify and remove people who are illegally residing in the United States.'
Notice that Mr. Bonner has conceded that the US has lost control of its borders. Mr. Bonner's warning represents an dire plea in the face of the Bush administrations continued refusal to address the worsening border situation. The establishment of the Minutemen Project, an independent group of US citizens so concerned about the collapse of the US-Mexico border that they are willing to patrol the border themselves, indicates just how seriously American anti-illegal immigration sentiment has grown. Mr. Bonner, however, frowns on the Minutement Project, even though its early effects seem to be a temporary diminishment of illegal crossings in the area of its patrols.
'We think it's probably better, all things considered, to leave the enforcement of the law to law enforcement professionals, like the Border Patrol,' Bonner said. 'And we certainly do not encourage people to take the law into their own hands, and we would deplore any kind of vigilantism.'
Vigilantism? Mr. Bonner has just admitted that his agency cannot do its job. The sheer numbers of illegal immigrants inside the US (11 million, according to a recent estimate) proves that the Border Patrol Agency is a farce. The Bush administration has proposed amnesty as its best idea for dealing with illegal immigration - i.e. a concession that it has no plans to deal with the millions already here and a recognition that it hasn't the slightest intention of securing the US-Mexico border. Mr. Bonner wants border patrol left to the "professionals" even as he admits that the "professionals" aren't doing the job. Perhaps if Mr. Bonner and his superiors in Washington (President Bush and the US Congress) were doing their jobs the Minutemen Project wouldn't be necessary.

France's "Non!" Grows Louder

To the horror and embarassment of French President Jacques Chirac, and the dismay of legions of bureaucrats in Brussels, opinion polls in France indicate that French public opinion is solidifying strongly against the proposed European Union constitution.

Hostility to the European Union constitution is hardening in France, despite increasingly desperate attempts by government and opposition leaders to rescue the collapsing "yes" vote before the referendum next month.

An opinion poll published yesterday showed that 55 per cent of French voters who had reached a decision were likely to reject the proposed new EU treaty in the vote on 29 May.

Worryingly for the "yes" camp, the latest survey - the sixth in a row to predict a "no" vote - shows an erosion of support for the treaty on the centre-right and a hardening of attitudes on the left.

The French government dismissed early polls showing the "no" vote gaining ground, but in recent weeks Paris has reacted with growing desperation to the burgeoning "no" numbers in a variety of polls. The Chirac government has gone so far as to try and bribe government employees to vote for the EU constitution with the promise of higher salaries if it passes. But the realization may now be dawning on Paris that their efforts are for naught.

Senior political figures admit privately it may be impossible to turn around the extraordinary momentum gained by the no vote over the past three weeks. Efforts by the centre-right government last week to bribe public sector workers with an inflation-linked pay rise have had no immediate impact. Neither have dire warnings from President Jacques Chirac and others that a no would plunge European and French domestic politics into deep crisis. He will make his first major contribution to the campaign in a live television debate on Thursday

The yes camp, which includes the government and the leadership of the main opposition party, the Socialists, is struggling to inspire, or scare, undecided voters. The no camp, particularly on the left, is making all the running with a series of blood-chilling - and often vastly exaggerated - warnings about the impact of the treaty on French jobs and public services.

Ironically, the most vehement opposition to the EU constitution comes most strongly from the French left, whose support Mr. Chirac had counted on to pass the treaty in order to establish the EU as a counterweight to US global economic and military dominance.

Left-wing hostility to the treaty is due in part to a determination to "punish" the centre-right government. But many moderate left-wing voters have been won over to the more radical left, which says the treaty is an "Anglo-Saxon" plot to impose free market economics on the Continent.

The proposed constitution is aimed at making the enlarged 25-member union more manageable. It must be ratified by all members, and rejection by France - a large, founder member - would be instantly fatal.

The Socialist president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, warned yesterday that if France rejected the treaty, it could be 20 years before the EU was able to agree a constitution.

Mugabe Exploits Pope's Funeral

Fresh from a victory in Zimbabwe's national elections, which most observers denounced as rigged, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has used the occasion of Pope John Paul II's funeral to dodge a European Union ban and travel to Europe to pose for the cameras. Due to its treaty with the Vatican, Italy cannot refuse him entry. Zimbabwe's Catholic leaders readily expressed their disgust.
"That man will use any opportunity to fly to Europe to promote himself. The man is shameless," Archbishop [Pius] Ncube told the Associated Press news agency.
According to the AP, before leaving for Europe, Mr. Mugabe used a memorial service at Zimbabwe's leading catherdral to denounce his critics in the West.

The EU ban extends to Mr. Mugabe and close to 100 of his cronies, who are forbidden to travel to EU countries. It was imposed after election observers accused Mr. Mugabe and his political associates of employing fraud and violence to win Zimbabwe's 2002 president election. A similar ban against Mr. Mugabe exists in the US.

Mr. Mugabe's racist and dictatorial policies, which include the expropriation of private land for the use of his political supporters, massive corruption and cronyism and the use of intimidation througout the Zimbabwe's political system, have brought his country to the brink of economic destitution and mass starvation (see previous post). But at least he has been able to negotiate trade deals with the Chinese, who are eager to form alliances with any anti-Western Third World dictator.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Finally, a Voice of Reason in the Senate

Last Friday, Ron Wyden, a US Senator from Oregon, told the audience at a town hall meeting in Douglas County, Oregon, that he had the solution to America's illegal alien problem.
...Wyden suggested setting a date whereafter anyone who was in the United States without proper documentation would be subject to criminal prosecution.
nder his plan, foreigners who had lived and worked in the country before that date would be given the opportunity to "earn" American citizenship. That would involve showing they had maintained a good work record and that they had not been involved in criminal activity, Wyden said. He said he opposes blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Aliens residing in the US without permission or who enter the US illegally have broken US law. Such individuals are criminals by definition. As a sovereign state, the US has the right to determine who may and who may not enter and remain on its territory. Senator Wyden's proposal thus addresses the problem correctly. However, unless special legislation were to be introduced into law radically streamlining the process by which illegal immigrants, once arrested, can be swiftly deported, it would only result in the US court system quickly becoming choked by millions of deportation cases. Organizations that support and encourage illegal immigration - the ACLU, Hispanic advocacy organizations, etc. - would move to appeal every lower court decision and contest every case. The litigation would be endless.

Unfortunately, Senator Wyden also conceded that there was little support in Congress for his proposal, which would certainly meet with stiff opposition from the Bush administration, whose official policy appears to be the erasure of the US-Mexican border. It is interesting to note that Senator Wyden is a Democrat. His conversion as a foe of illegal immigration follows that of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), who has recently called for strong measures to deal with the problem. If the Democrats can agree on a common anti-illegal immigration stance, it could provide them with their first truly popular policy to employ against the GOP and win seats back in Congress.

Senator Wyden's sensible proposal comes on the heels of a study by the Pew Hispanic Center which indicated that there are as many as 11 million illegal immigrants in the US today, the majority of those from Mexico. Oregon's News Review, reporting Sentator Wyden's proposal, felt obliged to note the following
In conversations in coffee shops across the United States, no one says they're in favor of illegal immigration, Wyden said. However, in the real world, a large number of farm jobs, restaurant positions and other low-paying service jobs are filled by illegal immigrants.
What the News Review reporter failed to note is that the presence of large numbers of illegal aliens willing to work for virtually any salary has driven down the wages of such menial jobs to the point that only illegal aliens are willing to take them. The real victims of illegal immigration are Americans in the lower socioeconomic strata. They have seen the wages for the jobs available to them collapse over the past two decades as illegal immigrants replace them at substantially lower wages. The easy availability of cheap labor may also be stifling US productivity and technological innovation by removing the necessity for US companies to develop new technology to compensate for a lack of workers.

Senator Wyden's plan seeks to address the double standard many Americans seem willing to tolerate.
"We say we're against illegal immigration, but we look the other way the rest of the day," Wyden told the audience of about 100 people who attended the forum. "With my plan, we'd no longer have this two-faced policy on illegal immigration."
The Portland Democrat said he would also like to see the nation improve its monitoring of people in this country on nonimmigration visas. He said the United States has done a poor job of "tracking the Mohammed Attas of the world."

The leader of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, Atta was the hijacker who flew a jetliner into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. He obtained a six-month nonimmigrant visa to enter the United States legally, but no one tracked his whereabouts as he moved from place to place and attended flight school.
I's obvious that current immigration and tracking policies aren't working, Wyden said. However, he's not sure he could win support for his idea.
I don't know whether Congress would go for it. I don't know if the country would accept it," he said.
Most Americans are already painfully aware of the real cost of illegal immigration. They see it every day when they look around at their towns and cities and see the country they grew up in changing before them. The understand the danger when they hear Spanish spoken more often than English even in Kansas and watch Hispanic activists demand that illegal aliens receive taxpayer funded benefits. Popular opinion polls have consistently found that Americans are strongly against illegal immigration and would support virtually any action that would mitigate the invasion of the US.

Public support isn't the problem. The problem lies in Washington where entrenched political interests obstruct any action. Large corporations enjoy the low wages they can pay illegal immigrants, lowering prices and driving up profits, while varioius advocacy organizations - Hispanic and leftist rights groups - see large numbers of illegal aliens as bolstering their numbers and power. Worse, the current administration apparently believes that a rising Hispanic population will ultimately help Republicans at the ballot box. Thus the desires of Americans are readily cast aside by the political interests of Washington power politicians. Only when Americans make it clear to their representatives that they've had enough and start vocally demanding change, will Washington move to address the issue.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Rising Tide of Chinese Influence

Yesterday on the floor of the US Senate, Senator James M Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) warned his colleagues about the malign spread of Chinese influence around the world and the danger it presents to American interests. Senator Inhofe notes that the current thrust of Chinese action centers on its need for oil.
This need for energy security may help explain Beijing's history of assistance to terrorist-sponsoring states with various forms of weapons of mass destruction-related items and technical assistance, even in the face of U.S. sanctions. But this pursuit of oil diplomacy may support objectives beyond just energy supply. Beijing's bilateral arrangements with oil-rich Middle Eastern states also helped create diplomatic and strategic alliances with countries that were hostile to the United States. For example, with U.S. interests precluded from entering Iran, China may hope to achieve a long-term competitive advantage relative to the United States.

Over time, Beijing's relationship-building may counter U.S. power and enhance Beijing's ability to influence political and military outcomes. One of Beijing's stated goals is to reduce what it considers U.S. superpower dominance in favor of a multipolar global power structure in which China attains superpower status on par with the United States.

This driving need for fuel has caused the Chinese to seek alliances with unfriendly regimes in America's backyard.

In Venezuela, anti-American President Hugo Chavez announced a $3 billion trade strategy with China, including provision for oil and gas. Army GEN Bantz Craddock, who heads the United States Southern Command, stated that China is increasing its influence in South America, filling a vacuum left by the United States.

In his March 9 House testimony, General Craddock called China's progressive interest in the region ``an emerging dynamic that could not be ignored.''

But the Chinese aren't focusing on one area to the exclusion of others.

I have been traveling to Africa for many years. The Chinese are everywhere. I just got back last night from Africa. I saw a conference building being constructed, given to them free, from China, and we know what kind of relationship that gives them. I saw a conference center being constructed in the Congo. I saw a large sports stadium. Both were donated by the Chinese. China has been expanding its influence throughout Africa with projects like this.

One saying I heard was: The U.S. tells you what you need, but China gives you what you want.

Has China suddenly become compassionate and generous? I think the fact that these countries have large oil and mineral deposits paints a real picture.

In the Middle East, Beijing recently signed a $70 billion oil and gas deal with Iran from which it receives 14 percent of its oil imports. Naturally, China has come out firmly against the U.N. Security Council holding Iran economically accountable for its nuclear program.

I was just in Sudan 2 days ago. Likewise in Sudan, China seeks to diffuse or delay any U.N. sanctions against Khartoum. It hardly seems coincidental that 7 percent of its oil imports comes from that conflict-stricken country, a supply that China seems ready to protect.

At this point, I will pause and tell my colleagues the experience we had just 2 days ago in that area in Uganda, just across the Sudan border. We were working with President Museveni. We actually went up to the area called Gulu, which is right on the Sudan border where the terrorists are coming across maiming children, cutting their limbs and their lips off. It is horrible. It is beyond description. I do not think there has been anything like that since the Holocaust. Yet China is supporting that group.

Not only are they willing to use the U.N. to safeguard its energy sources but also its regional influence. This is not new. In 2003, the United States spearheaded the proliferation security initiative as a multilateral weapons of mass destruction interdiction strategy. The initiative has proven effective, particularly in the interception of centrifuge parts bound for Libya. The Bush administration believes this success was a major reason Libya peacefully ended its nuclear program.

The Chinese are willing to form alliances with any government, regardless of that government's stance and practice on human rights. This makes the Chinese infinitely attractive to various dictatorships and authoritarian regimes around the world. The Chinese offer trade and the chance of eventual military alliance to such states, while the US offers only criticism of their human rights abuses and threats of economic sanctions. The Chinese can follow this path because China is a totalitarian society run by ruthless, bloodless, mass murderers who learned their statecraft under the gentle tutilege of Chairman Mao (who murdered 30-40 million by famine alone, and millions of others by more direct means). The Chinese economy may have been liberated from communism, but the government and people continue to live under communist political rule.

During the Cold War, American leaders, cognizant that most of the world was ruled by nasty regimes, opted for a policy that sought alliances even with such leaders as Marcos and Suharto as a pragmatic means of checking the spread of communism. Washington understood that communism represented such a potent long term threat to the survival of the US and the Western world in general that overlooking the brutality of these regimes was a lesser evil compared to permitting them to fall into the Soviet orbit. Pragmatic American policy during the Cold War allowed the US to surround the USSR with an network of US-allied states that contained the spread of communism and resisted attempts by the Soviets to infiltrate other areas of the world. Today, the US has abandoned pragmatism in favor of "promoting democracy." Morally, this represents a sound and just policy. Practically, however, it aides the Chinese by driving many less-than-democratic regimes away from the US and into the orbit of anyone who offers an alternative to US economic and military might.
China appears to be working through the United Nations to not only undermine the initiative but also to render it globally ineffective. This has been accomplished by getting the United States to drop a provision on the interdiction of foreign vessels carrying banned weapons on the high seas.

One of Beijing's stated goals is to reduce what it considers U.S. superpower dominance in favor of multipolar global power structure in which China attains superpower status on par with the United States.

The tense situation in Taiwan continues to simmer. A few days ago, the Chinese Communist Party formalized a new stance on Taiwan. The following was approved by the National People's Congress:

If possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This represents a change from earlier ambiguous language that would have allowed China flexibility to consider other options should a conflict arise. As it is, China has taken away its alternatives.

This is a direct threat. The Chinese are solidifying and increasing their presence in east Asia. When not using overt political influence, they are expanding economically.

As political economist Francis Fukuyama observed:

The Chinese [have been] gearing up a series of multilateral initiatives of their own, including Asean Plus One, Asean Plus Three, a China-Asean Free Trade Area, a Northeast Asian Free Trade Area and so on in seemingly endless profusion.

The purpose of these proposals, it seems fairly clear in retrospect, was to allay fears of China's growing economic power by offering selective trade concessions to various Chinese neighbors. The Chinese greased the path to the East Asian Summit last December by offering its Asean neighbors a free trade agreement that would open access to much of the Chinese market by 2010.

Asean Plus Three appears to be a weak and innocuous organization. But the Chinese know what they are doing: Over the long run, they want to organize East Asia in a way that puts them in the center of regional politics.

China is also expanding militarily. Their string of pearls strategy includes a listening post in Pakistan, billions of dollars in military aid to Burma, military training and equipment to Cambodia, increased naval activities in the South China Sea, and expanding cooperation with Thailand and Bangladesh.

The purpose of this strategy is to create a military corridor for the Middle East to mainland China that would be impervious to any potential American oil embargo. As a recent internal Pentagon report outlines:

China ..... is not looking only to build a blue-water navy to control the sea lanes, but also to develop undersea mines and missile capabilities to deter the potential disruption of its energy supplies from potential threats, including the U.S. Navy, especially in the case of a conflict with Taiwan.

Of increasing concern in Washington is the rapid buildup of the Chinese military.

The weapons in which China is investing include cruise missiles, submarines, long-range target acquisition systems, specifically cutting edge satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, and the advanced SU-30 fighter aircraft, and I have to pause at this moment and say something about someone to this day I still think is a real American hero, GEN John Jumper, the Chief of the Air Force. Back before he was in that position in the late 1990s--I believe it was 1998--he had the courage to stand up and publicly say something, and it certainly was not endorsed or wanted by the Clinton administration, but he said we have to do something. We have stopped our modernization program so now Russia is selling tactical vehicles, air vehicles, that are better than our fighters. He is talking about the SU-30 series, better than our F-15s and F-16s.

There are a lot of people who do not want us to advance militarily and be No. 1 and give our troops and our airmen the very best equipment. There are people who are trying to keep us from developing the F-22 and the joint strike fighter so that we again will gain superiority. Right now we do not have it.

China has bought in one purchase, and this has been several years ago, 240 of the SU-30s and probably a lot more, but that is what we found out. The new intelligence report states that China has accelerated its amphibious assault ship production. It plans to build 23 new boats capable of ferrying tanks and troops across the Taiwan Strait. This development is potentially destabilizing and has alarming implications.

We have to keep in mind they now are buying this capability to get across to Taiwan after for the first time coming out and directly threatening Taiwan.

A further concern is China's investment in nuclear submarines. It recently launched the type 094 class, the first capable of striking the continental United States with nuclear missiles from its own waters. It can strike the United States of America from its own waters. They have launched this class of a nuclear missile--or the ability to deploy it.

China has also been developing the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, expected to have a range of 4,600 miles. These represent a departure from traditional Chinese deterrent strategies. They have little tactical purposes. They will not be used in a regional battle. Rather, their importance is strategic.

China has modernized its military at an unprecedented rate. According to testimony from Dr. Evan Medeiros of the RAND Corporation, between 1990 and 2002 China's official defense budget for weapons procurement grew approximately 1,000 percent. That is 1,000 percent in a 12-year period. Nearly every year since 1997 has seen a defense budget increase of 13 percent, an increase far above China's GDP growth average of 8.2 percent for those same years.

Apparently, Francis Fukayama's most famed claim has proven wrong - history has not ended. Hopefully the Bush administration - currently obssessed with its $250 billion experiment in Islamic democracy in Iraq - will quickly awake to the Chinese threat and begin moving to counter it. Perhaps, as a first, tentative step, the time has come to stop exporting the US's industrial base to China. Senator Inhofe's speech is well worth reading in full.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Muslim Women Fare Little Better in Europe

While the plight of women in the Muslim world is fairly well known, conditions for Muslim women living in Western countries, especially Europe is often not much better.
Indeed, in some areas and regarding some issues, European Muslim women are no better off than their Arab Muslim counterparts. Here are just some examples of the abuse suffered by some European Muslim women:

- Forced to wear the hijab, i.e. headscarf

- Forced to marry someone according to the family's will

- Must undergo excision "procedure"

- Gang rapes for not "respecting" Islam

- Killed by a relative because for "dishonoring" the name of the family.

Most Muslim French women who wear the hijab are forced to do so by their family or because of pressure from the community. In many testimonies young women have stated that they were wearing it not to be "bothered" by the men in their community. There were multiple cases in the suburbs of Paris of gang rapes of women who were too "Westernized".

In a book entitled Wed By Force (Oh Editions, Paris, May 2004), Leila -- the author could not reveal her last name -- tells of her own nightmarish existence. She was raped by one of her brothers when she was quite young and did not tell anyone -- even her mother -- because she would have not been believed. She was regularly beaten up by her father because she was a little rebellious. She just wanted to behave like a girl her age but it was impossible because otherwise she would ruin the family's reputation. Like her other Muslim friends, she had to respect the law of silence. She also depicts how her family chose a husband for her. He was 15 years older than she and she does not know him.

You may guess that Leila lives in Saudi Arabia but she lives in the suburbs of Paris in 2005. She is a French citizen born in France of Moroccan parents. Unfortunately, Leila is not alone. Statistics do not lie: each year, in France, 50,000 women are wed against their will.

Horrific honor killings of Muslim women who did not toe the conservative Islamic line have occurred in Germany, Sweden and the U.K. The problem has grown to such an extent that, last year, European police agencies held a summit on the matter. Nor is the problem of Muslim honor killing restrained to Europe.
Do not think for a moment this only happens in Europe. In April 2004, in Scottsville, NY, a Turkish immigrant savagely murdered his wife and nearly killed his daughters because they had been molested by his brother. He allegedly told investigators that: "I was concerned that my family's honor was taken".
This is yet another example of the "great benefit" that immigration from the Third World provides to Western nations, and of the wonderfully tolerant and peaceful culture of Islam.

While America Debates ... Others Press Forward

In a recent Tech Central Station article, columnist James Pinkerton considers the moral and legislative struggle in America over "culture of life" issues like end-of-life care and embryonic stem cell research, and observes thatwhile Americans continue to twist themselves into rhetorical knots arguing over such matters, other nations are pushing forward, their research programs facing little cultural resistance.

But as Americans wrestle with these "culture of life" issues, other countries, from Israel to South Korea, are racing ahead, unencumbered by our conservative-Christian concerns. So whether or not America steps back from the stem-cell precipice, other countries are already making that great leap. What will happen as a result? That's like asking what will come of the Industrial Revolution that started three centuries ago -- we'll know when it's over, whenever that might be.

Yet beyond the question of stem-cell research, there's the more cosmic question of life itself. If science has dethroned man, might science next dethrone carbon? Where is it written that "life" has to be carbon-based? Why can't it be silicon-based, or metal-based?

That's the thinking in Japan, where two huge forces -- the low birth rate and the reluctance to admit immigrants -- have caused a civilization-level crisis in that island nation. American consumers might be casually familiar with what the Japanese are up to; Sony's Aibo "dog" has gained attention as a novelty, and Honda has even advertised its Asimo robot in Entertainment Weekly.

But most Americans have no idea that the Japanese aren't building robots as pets or toys; they are building robots to replace… the Japanese, as they grow old and die, leaving behind few if any children. The Tokyo government calls 2005 the "year of the robot"; indeed, 'bots are the star of the show at the World Expo in Nagoya, which opened on March 25.

Are the robots humanoid, or anything close? Not yet. But soon, they will be. As a March 11 report in The Washington Post explained, "Though perhaps years away in the United States, this long-awaited, as-seen-on-TV world -- think 'The Jetsons' or 'Blade Runner' -- is already unfolding in Japan, with robots now used as receptionists, night watchmen, hospital workers, guides, pets and more."

The Japanese government predicts that every household in Japan will own at least one robot by 2015. Indeed, even today, American Molly Wood, of CNET, visiting the Expo, writes, "I can pretty easily imagine having one around if I were, say, working at home with a young child to entertain."
As America delays certain areas scientific research for ideological reasons, its competitors abroad are accelerating their development of those technologies, threatening further US dominance in burgeoning industries like biotechnology. If the US cedes leadership in these areas, it can hardly complain when other nations exploit those technologies to America's economic detriment.