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1

Does The Western World Have a Conscience? l Egyptian Women

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Peter Clifford

28/1/11 Peter Clifford –

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Does The Western World Have A Conscience?

As protest and revolution rumbles on across North Africa and through the Middle East and beyond, I can’t help wondering what is the role of Western countries in all of this?

Pausing just long enough to test which way the wind was blowing, western society has been quick to take up the side of the protestors and to support them verbally and morally at least.

And the western digital world (hail Facebook, Twitter and Youtube) has clearly been instrumental in aiding the protesters to spread their message rapidly and effectively and to give them a platform to air there grievances. It has also made fascinating and often gripping news for all of us westerners  sitting safely at home.

In western civilisation we like to promote democracy, freedom of self expression, the rule of law, protection of the disadvantaged etc. and quite rightly so.  However, at the same time western governments have a habit of cosying up to any government or dictatorial and repressive regime whom they want something from.

If your country has vast resources of oil or minerals which the West needs in order to fuel its economies, or there is the potential for rich trade opportunities, then it is very likely, no matter how repressive your regime, that you will get a call from western leaders and their ministers inviting you to do business.

It is extremely easy for governments in the western world to condemn repressive regimes that they do not, at present, want anything from e.g the military government in Burma, the communist regime in Cuba or nuclear threatening Iran.

It is also extremely easy it seems to embrace two way trade with China while at the same time completely ignoring its suppressive behaviour towards the people and culture of Tibet.

www.petercliffordonline.com/conscience

East - West Togetherness

Not only do western governments turn a blind eye to the behaviour of the oppressive regimes they choose to do business with but the cherished keystone values of western culture i.e. freedom, justice and equality go completely out of the window at the first sniff of a trade deal.

Not only do western nations love buying oil and other resources from repressive regimes that practice detention without trial, torture and political imprisonment but they love selling them the arms and weapons to carry out this oppression effectively!

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Libyan Dancing Partners

One of their best customers, since his rehabilitation in 2004, has been Colonel Gaddafi who is now undoubtedly using those same weapons against his own people. And the The Irish Government, in their recent acute financial crisis even sent their financial representatives to Libya to try and secure multi – billion dollar loans from Gaddafi’s International Investment Fund!

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia for example, women are still not allowed to drive a car or go out alone and at the first hint of protest opposition leaders are hauled in for questioning, yet the West craves their oil and sells them (in particular the US, the UK and other western European governments) vast amounts of weaponry. No doubt it offsets the oil trade deficit.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/conscience

UK PM in Tahrir Sq. Cairo

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, was very quick this week to visit Egypt and a number of other undemocratic regimes in the Middle East with pro-democracy protestors making themselves heard currently on a daily basis.

It was rather bizarre therefore to see him striding across Tahrir Square in Cairo with a gaggle of British businessmen in tow, eight of whom represented British arms and weapons systems manufacturers.  No doubt US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, President Obama and other western leaders are all ready making their travel plans.

But are their also deeper lessons in all this for the West? These arab world revolutions have been led by their disaffected youth, the so called Facebook generation. In some western countries our youth are also equally angry.

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Student Protests London 2011

Witness the anger of students in the UK recently at the Coalition Government’s decision to increase university fees – fierce and destructive demonstrations in the streets of London and elsewhere over a number of days.

Currently the UK unemployment rate for 16 – 24 year olds is 20% and rising under the present harsh economic climate. I hope the UK’s senior politicians, many of whom are millionaires and telling us “we must all share the (economic) pain” are seriously taking note of the consequences of complacency.

Democracy Is ……..

……. the right to make fun of your ruling elite without fear of reprisal or a knock on the door from the Security Services.

So on a lighter {!} note, can someone tell me why so many Middle Eastern potentates seem to be critically overweight?  A great business opportunity for WeightWatchers perhaps?

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/conscience

Royal Wedding Sick Bag - copyright Linda Leith

And British designer Lydia Leith as an andidote to all the somewhat questionable quality of the memorabilia currently in full production for the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and his fiance, Kate Middleton, this coming April, has produced the Royal Wedding Sick Bag, in case you want to “Throne up”!  As they are of a certain age I think the Royal couple are laughing at this one themselves – at least I hope so, and I wish them every sucess with their marriage.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/conscience

Uniform Kitsch

In Libya, we can but pray that Gaddafi’s uniform designer has now got the sack and that the rest of his administration will follow soon.

And lastly, clearly the Arab world is catching on quickly to the idea of freedom of self expression with this effort recently posted on YouTube – Colonel Gaddafi’s recent “clayman” rant turned into “DJ Gaddafi Rocks” Zenga Zenga!

EGYPTIAN WOMEN:

Without wishing to be cynical, as I expressed in my last post, I am not entirely convinced that the ruling Army Council in Egypt will let go of the reins of power easily, despite making some of the right noises.  Certainly, when it comes to the rights of Egyptian women, they still do not seem to have got the message.

This week in Cairo, the Army Council appointed a judge, Tarik al-Bishry to set up a Constitutional Panel to draw up a new constitution for the country. Bishry then went on to choose all the members of the Panel himself, not one of which was a woman.

One of the appointees was a Christian Copt, who represent 10% of the Egyptian population.  Women  in Egypt, of course, represent 50% of the country’s population but that still does not gain them the right apparently to having a say in shaping the future of the new state.

http:www.petercliffordonline.com/conscience

Women Protesters Tahrir Sq. Cairo

Worryingly, in a survey conducted in Egypt shortly before the recent revolution 90% of those who took part still thought stoning for adultery was a “good idea”.

Similarly, in Malaysia on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, hotels in Kuala Lumpur were raided by the “religious enforcement police” and over 80 people detained for being unmarried and sharing a room or being “alone and in close proximity to a member of the opposite sex”. They can expect up to two years in prison if convicted. The law does not apply to non – muslims.

Clearly, for muslim women in particular and arabic women in general throughout the entire world the Revolution is only just about to begin.

Until the next time,

www.petercliffordonline.com

 

Peter Clifford: www.petercliffordonline.com

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4

Being Overweight l Death By Stoning l AVAAZ

9/1/11  Peter Clifford – http://www.petercliffordonline.com : BEING OVERWEIGHT –  DEATH BY STONING – AVAAZ….

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Peter Clifford

Being Overweight:

In the United States 70% of the population is suffering from being overweight and obesity, i.e. more than 30 lbs overweight from the perceived norm.

Even more worryingly, child obesity statistics indicate that a third of children between the ages of 2 – 19 are in the same category (at a time of life when we expect to be slim), the rates having tripled since 1980.

In the UK, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia the statistics are heading in the same direction.

The reasons are usually listed as lack of physical activity and eating fast foods. However, I think the reasons are deeper and much more subtle than that. Truly happy and contented people don’t let their bodies or their lifestyle deteriorate – why would they, it is not in their best interests?

If you really love yourself, you don’t overeat and underexercise, put excessive amounts of alcohol in your body or pollute it with drugs. For the truth is that these are all addictions that are indicators of deep seated discontent. So is overshopping, oversexing (if you see what I mean), overworking and compulsive gambling.

My thoughts on this (and maybe yours as you consider yet another New Year resolution diet) were prompt by the story of Paul Mason, who last year achieved the dubious accolade of becoming the UK’s fattest man at 70 stone (980 pounds).

Paul Mason at 980 lbs.

Yes, it’s a terrifying picture. Poor man.

After living on a 20,000 calorie a day for years (normal average recommended intake for a man is around 2550 per day) he was unable to move, have a social life or any fulfilling relationships, or even go to the toilet or clean himself without outside assistance.This is not living and Paul, in the Channel 4 documentary aired this week, admits to hating himself for not controlling his eating.

The cost to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) of caring for him over 15 years is estimated at £1 million.

Fortunately for Paul, he is still alive. After a major operation some months ago he is down to 52 stone (728 pounds), on 1200 calories a day and able to get out and about on a powered mobility scooter.

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Back eating Fish and Chips!

UPDATE 18th May 2011:  Paul Mason has reportedly now lost 37 stone (518lbs – 3 times my weight!) and is back home in Ipswich in the UK.  Last seen outside the Fish and Chip shop where a friend was buying him food!

However, my view is that is that the reduced diet won’t help him (or any of us that are overweight) if he is not helped to tackle the underlying lack of self worth that exists in the first place. Unless that happens, instead of overeating he is just as likely to replace it with another addiction.

The same applies to the rest of us. If you are overweight by any significant amount or have any of the other addictions mentioned then it is time to take a long hard look at your lifestyle, your primary relationship, your job, your direction in life and most of all, a long, hard, deep look at how you feel about yourself and your place in the world.

Getting to the bottom of those deep seated fears, anxieties and low self esteem, that we all have to one degree or another, will change everything about your life. And turn you into a not only more contented human being but a more effective and creative one as well. This should be our New Year’s resolution for 2011.


Death By Stoning:

In my previous post I highlighted the case of Sakineh Mohammidi Ashtiani who is threatened by death by stoning. This week Iranina officials indicated that it is “possible” the stoning sentence may be dropped. That’s nice of them. It doesn’t mean she won’t be hanged or shot of course. This despicable farce has been going on since 2006.

Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani

In December, Sakineh was returned to her home temporarily to take part in a “documentary” in which she “confessed” to killing her husband.

The part of her husband was “played” by her son (also held in prison along with Sakineh’s lawyer).

Governments and individuals around the world have taken up Sakineh’s case. If you would like to support this go to http://freesakineh.org/

AVAAZ:

You might also consider supporting AVAAZ http://www.avaaz.org/en/index.php which has also previously run a petition to support Sakineh.  AVAAZ is a very interesting international organisation, currently with 6.5 million members in 171 countries.

They are particularly skilled in using modern technology in a very powerful way to petition governments, companies and influential individuals to get effective, rapid results on issues such as human rights, protecting the environment, lack of democracy, poverty and climate change. Give them a look!

Until the next time,

Peter Clifford: www.petercliffordonline.com

If you value what I have written please click on the “Like” button and Tweet my short link http://bit.ly/petercliff onto your friends.

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27

New Beginnings l Women’s Rights

www.petercliffordonline.com/womens-rights

Peter Clifford

1/1/11 Peter Clifford – www.petercliffordonline.com : NEW BEGINNINGS : WOMEN’S RIGHTS – Wasting 50% of human capacity… I thought this was a pretty good date to start a new blog – So Welcome to this new site, a new start and to a New Year!

One of the things that has concerned me over the years is the appalling treatment of women – I suppose from my perspective as a therapist I have heard their stories first hand and it leaves an impact.

Two women who have come to the fore recently, Aung San Suu Kyi the Burmese Democracy leader who was held under house arrest for 15 years until her release on 13th November 2010, and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani sentenced to death by stoning for “adultery” in Iran despite the fact that her husband was already dead, illustrate my point.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party legitimately won 81% of the seats in the Burmese Parliament in 1990 and she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, yet she has never been allowed to take her place as the country’s leader.

Aung San Suu Kyi

She has  also had to stand by completely helpless as her English husband died of cancer in Cambridge in the U.K. for she knew that if she left the country she would never be allowed to return.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani apart from being committed to a barbaric death by stoning was reportedly sexually abused and mistreated for years by her husband.  A male friend who – again reportedly -murdered the husband, has not been imprisoned.  Both her son and her lawyer have however been put in prison and another lawyer has fled into exile.

In some countries women are still not allowed to drive a car, go out alone or even to have an education.  Frankly, in the 21st Century this is completely unacceptable and to me smacks of blatant and brutal male domination and control.  There is no justification for any of this.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Even worse, in some countries female foetuses are routinely aborted in favour of the “supremacy” of  the preferred choice of male children.

Woman make up roughly 50% of the human population.  They therefore make up 50% of its talent, skills, intelligence, inventiveness and human potential.  As a  human race we are fools if we suppress it and waste that resource.

Women cannot contribute fully to human development without education, support, encouragement and the freedom to express themselves, and in my view the planet needs all the help it can get right now.

Fulfilled mothers will also produce and raise fulfilled and contented children who are more likely to turn into effective adults.

The Women’s Liberation movement in the 60’s addressed some of the issues in the West and redressed the male/female balance to some degree.

Now it needs good and true men wherever they are in the world, living under whichever religion or political and social system, to support the right of women to be equal and to lead full and active lives in any area or activity that they choose.

And more than this, it needs women to stand up for themselves both individually and collectively for the right to equality and freedom of opportunity.

I realise that many women are brutalised and cowed into submission, but it seems to me that too many women acquiesce to the status quo and allow their fellow women  (and their daughters) to be overruled, suppressed and controlled unnecessarily.

Women deciding to change themselves and what they are prepared to put up with can make the biggest difference to entrenched attitudes and bring about the quickest changes.

So that is my first thought for 2011 – the beginning of  a new decade. I hope it is a decade of immense change for women’s freedom, rights and equality –and it if is we will all benefit, the whole human race.

Until the next time,

Peter Clifford: www.petercliffordonline.com

If you value what I have written please click on the “Like” button and Tweet my short link http://bit.ly/petercliff onto your friends.

Lastly, don’t forget to sign up (Top Right) for my mailing list for future information, advice, tips and reviews – for a limited time only there is a FREE 40 page giveaway on “Love Relationships”.

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