Why Arab Democracy is Good For America

We are currently witnessing an unprecedented shift in Arab politics that has caught the whole world, even the Egyptians themselves by surprise. The uprising and it’s epi-center Tahrir Square (Liberation Square) is the Arab world’s version of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For many decades, the general Arab political discourse was defined by the West as the need to strengthen pro-Western dictatorships because of the fear of the alternative which is Iranian style Islamist regimes. Now, the Tahrir Square movement has clearly forced the West to rethink this perspective by showing that there is a third way – the rise of broad based democratic movements that reject totalitarianism and Islamic extremism. We should not fear this change because its uncertain outcome, but rather embrace it and take an active role in encouraging democratic change throughout the Arab world. Democratic change in Egypt matters greatly to the Arab world because it has historically set the regional pattern of Arab politics. The Islamic Brotherhood which was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt eventually led to the establishment of numerous splinter groups throughout the Middle East.

And in 1952, Gemal Abdel Nasser helped replace the monarchy with a pan-Arabist socialist system that also spread to different parts of the Arab world. Gemal Abdul Nasser is regarded as one of the most important figures in Arab history. Then came Anwar Al-Sadat who signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. This treaty had strategic repercussions throughout the Arab world and in fact had weakened it by removing the most populous and powerful Arab country from the Arab resistance camp. Finally, after Sadat’s assassination on October 6, 1981, President Mubarak ascended to the Presidency where he immediately established a police state by implementing “Emergency Rule” which to this day has not been lifted. All these political patterns — from Political Islam, to Pan-Arabism, to the Arab-Israeli peace process, and authoritarianism, have all failed. The Arab people have finally figured it out – it’s People Power. Supporting democracy in Egypt is good for America as it serves our national interest for a number of reasons. First, dictatorships are mortal — they come and go, and we cannot always guarantee that a pro-US dictator who will eventually die will be replaced with another pro-US dictator. A democratic Egypt where its people share our values of individual political freedoms, tolerance, plurality, and respect for the rule of law will help build a broad based support for the United States by the Egyptian people that will be long enduring. Second, the establishment of a democratic Egypt that opens the political system to a wide range of Egypt’s political-ideological continuum including the Islamic Brotherhood will ensure the functioning of a viable and stable democracy.

Incorporating the Islamic Brotherhood into the political system, would further marginalize extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its network of splinter groups. Indeed, the Al-Qaeda leadership has been very critical of the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood for disavowing violence as a form of resistance and for the Brotherhood’s adherence to a future Egyptian democratic state that is based on pluralism. Third, a shift in the balance of power in the Middle East away from Israel will serve our national interest by making Israel realize that its security is directly tied to making a strategic decision of achieving a just peace with the Palestinians. For too long, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has created tremendous anger and frustration amongst the Arab masses for their inability to help their Palestinian brethren. This deep sense of hopelessness, is the most important source of recruiting efforts of Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups who may not care much about the Palestinian cause but nonetheless, use its emotional intensity to recruit Islamic Radicals. Indeed, captured Al-Qaeda recruiting and training videos often included video clips of Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression. In fact, in May 2010, , U.S. General David Petraeus stated in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fomenting anti-American sentiment due to the perception of U.S. favoritism towards Israel.” There is no doubt that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely vital to our national interests. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Arabs have been very forthcoming in peace efforts with Israel. In 2002, the Arab league, consisting of 22 Arab countries offered for the very first time since Israel’s founding, a full and comprehensive peace settlement that would normalize relations with Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal to the pre 1967 borders as stipulated in UN Resolution 242. Israel rejected it outright without even considering some of its elements. More recently, the Palestinian version of Wikileaks where over 1000 pages on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were leaked to the press did show that the Palestinians were far more willing to compromise than even the 2002 Arab League peace initiative. One such leaked document showed that the Palestinians would accept Israel’s annexation of all settlement blocs in East Jerusalem except one, and this peace offering was also rejected by the Israelis. Israel rejected President Obama’s call to extend the settlement freeze in the interest of the peace process as it rejected every call from every president since 1967 to stop building Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Even President Ronald Reagan stated in September 1982 that “further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.” Israel’s No, No, No policy is clearly harming our interests in the region. The intransigence of Israel is because no US government official, including the President of the United States can put effective pressure on Israel because no politician wants to experience the wrath of the pro-Israeli lobby. Moreover,President Mubarak, the head of the most powerful Arab country has been the hired sheriff for Israel for three decades. Israel is so powerful that it sees no strategic interest in making peace with the weak and isolated essence, the current status quo is Israel’s modus operandi. By replacing Mubarak’s dictatorship regime with a democracy that truly represents the will of the Egyptian people will cause a change in the balance of power calculus vis-a-vis Israel in a manner that should convince Israel’s leaders that making the necessary concessions for a final peace with the Palestinians is now a strategic necessity for Israel’s long term security. Finally, we should engage other dictators and monarchs in the Arab world and convince them that supporting genuine democratic reforms is the right path for long term stability. We should not send our troops to invade countries but we should send our technocrats to help these countries politically engineer republics that truly represent the will of the masses. The Arab people will support us and embrace us if they know that we have made a clear choice — supporting their will to empower themselves rather than supporting arrogant and outdated oppressive regimes that are doomed to fail.

BJP All Set to Win Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is serving from last 10 years in Madhya Pradesh and the state has gained the recognition from bimaru to jujharu in this period. It’s the magic of Developmental Work done under BJP that has made MP the fastest growing state in the nation. There is no doubt in the leadership skill & planning strategy of Chief Minister of MP, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan and credit also goes to his team of ministers that has made his vision a reality. In agriculture sector MP is consistently topping the production and growth rate. This year MP has ousted Haryana from number 3 position and secured its place after Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in per hectare production. Along with agriculture, MP has registered tremendous growth in IT Sector, Industrial Sector, Rural Development, Infrastructure Development, Women & Child Welfare, Science and Technology and Urban Development. When nation was facing recession, MP government has provided jobs to more than 1 lakh youth. From lower class to middle and upper class, everyone is witnessing a growth at various levels.

No state has seen such a revolutionary growth in past 10 years. Honourable Chief Minister, also introduced a beneficiary scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Annapurna Yojana’ for people below poverty line, so that, they can get the grains and salt at minimum subsidized rate. Commerce Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Kailash Vijayvargiya has invested his interest in development of MSMEs and thus, many new policies are being introduced to boost the micro small medium enterprises in state. Being Science & Technology Minister of the state, Mr. Vijayvargiya is also putting his efforts in encouraging research & development work in state. Recently, state has got its first Ultra Modern Planetarium which is amongst the top Planetariums in the country. With all these developments, BJP has surely won hearts in Madhya Pradesh and it is set to win the elections of 2014 too. At present many issues are boiling at the centre, lots of expert discussions are happening to forecast election 2014 but with the command of Election 2014 in Narendra Modi’s hand, BJP is sure to win at the Centre too.

India is the nation of youth and leaders like Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh Chauhan & Kailash Vijayvargiya, very well know how to attract them. Where Congress is playing caste politics, BJP is playing developmental politics. With the effective use of Social Media, BJP is keeping transparency in its policies, strategies and work model. People are being informed about every move and thus, youth is inspired for sure. Keeping in mind the present political moves of BJP, it is clear that ‘BJP is all set to win Election 2014’.

An Encounter With Occupy Wall Street Protestors in Asheville NC

I am doing a little bit of traveling this week and my trip started with a business stop in Asheville, North Carolina. I stayed there one night and the next afternoon went downtown and got some lunch. They got some of those Occupy Wall Street people there next to city hall and I decided to walk over and see what they are about for myself.You may have seen some news stories about them. If you live in New York you know about it, because they had big demonstrations and clashes with police in the Wall Street area this last Fall. After that they sprouted up in other cities in public areas.They aren’t in my area yet. In fact where I live almost no one knows about them, because the media doesn’t really report on them too much. But the times they do they usually do so in a very sensational manner just like they report on everything else.The TV news likes to provoke you and make you angry and scared all of them time so that you will sit there and keep watching and the powers that be want you to be like that too because then you can be easily controlled and manipulated into believing anything they want. Couch potatoes are a docile and obedient bunch.I really didn’t know much about the occupy people, but I was curious. This is a big thing that has been going on and I want to know what is really happening to this country for myself.

So I went over and talked with them.I wanted to know who they were, what they believed, and what they were trying to do for myself. And I made this video to share with you what I found.The media paints the occupy people with one big brush and gives them one big label. They say they are radical and dangerous. That they are a bunch of hippies and communists. They say they are the enemy and they must be I found is that the Occupy Asheville group is made up of all kinds of different people from different walks of life for their for different reasons. Some are there to express their ideological views. Others are there because they found it to be a safe haven in a time of economic hardship.It made me think of scenes at the start of the movie They Live.In that movie a character played by Roddy Piper loses his job and comes across a shanty town camp for the dispossessed and hangs out and gets help. Then he stumbles upon a pair of glasses that reveal to him that the advertising and media messages are all subconsciously programming everyone to obey and consume.If the economy does not get better and the trend of the shrinking middle class continues then more occupy type Wall Street tent areas will sprout up across the country much like the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression and in fact there may one day be something like a bonus army march that the fella I talked with in the video, Preston, mentioned.You know we have more in common with each other than we do with Ben Bernanke and the international bankers on Wall Street that wrecked the economy and caused the real estate bubble and 2008 stock market collapse.Obama got in office but he never removed the people responsible for the collapse. They are still at charge at the Treasury and the Fed and in the banking sector most of those responsible at the mismanagement level got rewarded with corporate parachutes.

And of course the country is now saddled with trillions of dollars in government debt that threaten to bring us down the road of Greece thanks in part to socialism for the rich policies of bailout for the banks.They said they had to do it because the banks were too big too fail. But this was a lie. The government could have paid the depositors with FDIC and let the big banks go bankrupt. Then the regional banks that weren’t bankrupt would have taken their police. But those bankers had plenty of Congressmen bought and paid for that did their bidding and scared the rest of them into thinking they were indispensable.The politicians have done nothing to fix the situation or bring any real change for the better. In my view most of things Obama has done the past four years have been for the worse and I really don’t think we can expect Mitt Romney, who is completely owned by Wall Street, to do any better.That’s why I told Preston we have to stand up for ourselves. We have to turn off our televisions and leave our homes and go out talk with your friends and other people and do stuff. Voting isn’t enough.You have to let your own voice be heard. Go to meetings in your local community and let your local politicians and Congressmen know what you think. Make demands. Play your own part. Don’t be afraid of people but talk to them. We all have more in common with each other than with the elites that ruined the country. They need to be removed, but they maintain their power by dividing us up into Republicans and Democrats or whatever. But this isn’t a football game. It’s our lives and none of these politicians are going to do anything anyway. Stand up for yourself.Copyright ?? 2012 Mike Swanson

Congress President Sonia Gandhi Inaugurates 31 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas…

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi realized the dream of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by inaugurating 31 Jawahar Navadaya Vidyalayas(JNV) in a number of states, telling other government schools to learn from JNVs. National Advisory Council Chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi today inaugurated the newly constructed buildings of 31 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas via video conferencing in various parts of India– Kerala, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. She was attended by Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal at a function to mark the 25 years of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, one of the various landmark initiatives taken by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.Speaking on the occasion after inaugurating 31 Navodaya Vidyalayas in various parts of the country, Congress President said, “Everyone has a right to education and it is not limited to a few,” saying the Right to Education Bill (RTE) would address all issues pertaining to education in the country.

The UPA government under is giving scholarships for school students, she pointed out saying the information regarding the schemes must reach all.UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, however, expressed concern over the high drop rate and teacher absenteeism in government schools in rural areas, saying “the dropout rate, particularly amongst the minority and poor, is high and one fourth of the teachers in village schools remain absent.” She said teachers should strive to reach the level of the state-run Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, saying “education in these JNVs should meet the requirements of the changing times.”She could not hide her concern for the future of children, asking “why are other government schools not as good as Navodaya Vidyalays?” She said other government schools must learn from JNVs. “One-fourth of the teachers in village schools remain absent. Though admission takes place in good numbers, many children leave studies midway,” she pointed out.

She said the JNVs had been largely successful in attaining their objectives of providing good quality education to talented children from predominantly rural areas. However, she stressed upon the need to provide quality education to children with technical inputs.Traveling a time span of 25 years since coming into existence, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas has successfully realized the dream of its architect, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, by providing quality education to every village household. Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are fully residential co-educational institutions imparting education from Class VI to XII . About 75 per cent seats are filled by candidates from rural areas. Children of SCs and STs category is provided reservation for the seats in proportion to their population in the concerned district, while one third of total seats are filled by girls.Sharing the occasion with UPA chairperson, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said that it was the dream of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to educate children from backward areas of the countries. ” In this context the Government has decided to open a JNV in every district of the country, he informed.

Response to Nathan Benefield on The National Popular Vote Plan

Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation calls the National Popular Vote Plan “A radical shift in Elections” and urges the Pennsylvania Legislature to reject the agreement.The National Popular Vote Plan is an interstate compact, whereby participating states would agree to allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the National Popular Vote. The compact would take effect when enough states (constituting the requisite 270 electoral votes required to win the Presidential election) agree to participate.Benefield then warns that the plan “could result in disputes over who won the Presidential election.” Ironically, this scenario is actually more likely to be triggered under the current winner-take-all electoral system. The organization Fair Vote conducted a study of 7,645 statewide elections from 1980-2006. They found that only 23 of these elections resulted in a recount. That is a ratio of just one recount for every 332 elections. Over 90% of these recount elections resulted in the original winner maintaining the win.On the national level, under the current winner-take-all electoral system, there are 51 potential recounts. To date, there have been 2,135 statewide Presidential elections.

Under the National Popular Vote scheme, recounts would occur far less than under the present winner-take-all-system.Benefield incorrectly calls the Plan “a way to circumvent the Constitution.” This is a red herring argument. In actuality, there is no provision in the U.S. Constitution mandating that the President must be selected by a particular electoral method. Accordingly, there is no need for a Constitutional Amendment to change the method that states use for the awarding of electors. The Founding Fathers could not come to a resolution as to how to award electoral votes at the Constitutional Convention. They decided to delegated “plenary authority” to the states to award their electors, as reflected in Article ll, Section 1, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” Accordingly, each state has autonomy to select electors in any way that they see fit.The Founding Fathers did not advocate or mandate a monolithic method for the states to award their electoral votes. They respected Federalism and delegated the power of awarding electors to the states. In 1789, most states only allowed property owners the right to vote. This gradually changed, not by a constitutional amendment, but through a state-by-state process. The winner-take-all approach of awarding electors was a scheme devised by partisan parochial interests to maximize their political advantage. It was not the grand design of the Founding Fathers. In fact, there is no mention at all of the winner-take-all electoral system in the Federalist Papers and no mention of it during the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention.Mr. Benefield incorrectly argues that the National Popular Vote Plan would supplant the Electoral College. This is a fallacy.

The Electoral College would still exist under the National Popular Vote Plan. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in the December after the election is held, electors representing each state and the District of Columbia will still cast their Presidential ballots. On January 6, the Vice President will declare the winner to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. This process would remain exactly the same.Benefield correctly asserts that the U.S. is “not a pure Democracy but a Constitutional Republic.” However, this point is irrelevant to this issue. The National Popular Vote Plan in no way transforms the U.S. into a Direct Democracy. Wisely fearing unsustainable “mob rule,” the Founders conceptualized a constitutional republic for the colonists based upon the Roman Republic, wherein the American people would only be indirectly involved in the governance process. Under a Direct Democracy, the American people would vote on all of the issues themselves. If the National Popular Vote Plan were to be adopted, Presidents would be elected the same way every other magistrate in the U.S. is elected from Cemetery Commissioners and County Coroners to Governors and U.S. Senators.Benefield states: “The National Popular Vote would allow candidates to focus on regional issues, or votes in population centers, rather than making a broad national appeal.” If Benefield wants candidates to disseminate a nation-wide message, he should support the National Popular Vote Plan. Under the current electoral system, Presidential nominees tailor their messages to voters in only about 15 swing states, relegating the majority of Americans to the electoral sidelines. Under the current electoral system, Presidential candidates spend an inordinate amount of time cultivating support in strategically crucial states. They must appeal to retirees in central Florida, steel workers in Western Pennsylvania, and ethanol growers in Iowa.

Unfortunately, they have no incentive to hear the concerns of New England fishermen worried about the affects of federal regulations on their livelihoods, South Central Los Angeles residents concerned about gang violence, or workers in the Louisiana sugar industry concerned about the affects of lower tariffs on their jobs.Benefield ends his column by branding the National Popular Vote Plan “a radical, dangerous, and ill-conceived shift in our election process.” However, this rather hyperbolic description begs the question about how treating every voter with equal reverence can be labeled “radical, Dangerous, or ill-conceived. In addition, if Benefield actually believes this then He must explain why it is acceptable to support a system where a Presidential candidate has incentive to treat a voter in Marblehead, Ohio as hegemonic to a voter in Marblehead, Massachusetts, simply because of his/her geopolitical location. Ohio is a showdown state, while Massachusetts is a safe state.The National Popular Vote Plan would make every vote equal. Under this plan, it would be foolhardy for a Presidential campaign not to devise a strategy to assiduously cultivate support and get out the vote in literally all regions of the nation.

Cruse And Associates Uaw Wants Volkswagen Workers to Seek Union Election

The United Auto Workers union has begun passing out cards to employees of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga to determine whether there is enough support to hold a union representation the cards are not the official instruments the union would have to collect from at least 30 percent of the plant’s hourly workers to force a union vote, said Gary Casteel, director of the UAW’s District 8, which includes Tennessee.”We have not started an official organizing campaign,” he said, refuting some national media reports.”What got some people up in arms is that we passed out some cards, but they were never about setting up an election,” Casteel said. “The cards were just gauging the level of support.”That characterization was confirmed by Volkswagen spokesman Guenther Scherelis at the plant, which has about 2,700 workers employed directly by the German automaker to build the midsize Passat sedan.”We heard that they had distributed those cards, but it is an initiative of the union and not omething that Volkswagen is involved in,” Scherelis employees said they had seen the cards or were aware of the union’s interest in organizing the plant, but there seems to be no clear consensus on whether there would be enough support to force a union election, much less on whether the UAW could win that vote if it occurred.

While it takes only 30 percent of the workforce to sign cards requesting a union vote – which would then have to be held by secret ballot within 40 days – the UAW has said it would want to see a much higher percentage than that before calling for a vote.In recent years, unions generally want at least 75 percent of a workforce to sign cards before a vote is scheduled. The success rate for union referendums drops significantly when lower percentages of workers sign ballot cards, according to statistics of the National Labor Relations Board, which conducts such votes.Pay disparity existsVolkswagen’s hourly pay begins at about $14 and can range to nearly $20 an hour. New workers at UAW facilities such as the General Motors plant in Spring Hill begin at about $17 an hour, and experienced workers make about $29, plus the VW plant, older workers are more supportive of the union than younger employees are. Some younger workers fear they could lose some of their current benefits if the union negotiates a contract with Volkswagen.One of those benefits is a popular vehicle leasing plan through which workers can get a new Volkswagen or Audi vehicle every six months and finance it via payroll deductions. Volkswagen announced in July 2008 that it would spend more than $1 billion to build the Chattanooga plant, which began building the new American-only version of the Passat midsize sedan in April 2011.Sales have been so robust that Volkswagen announced March 22 that it would begin hiring an additional 800 workers and open a third shift to meet consumer demand.

UAW President Bob King has said the union’s goal is to organize at least one of the South’s foreign auto plants within the next couple of years, with hopes of expanding to others if the first union drive is successful. Industry experts say the UAW’s survival is at stake, as its membership has dropped to only 390,000 nationwide from 1.5 million in 1979. Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, has 62 production facilities worldwide, and Chattanooga is the only one that isn’t unionized. If Volkswagen workers go union, it would be a first among the foreign-based automakers that have built operations in the South, starting with Nissan in Smyrna in 1983.Other nonunion, foreign-owned plants are operated by Japanese automakers Nissan in Mississippi; Toyota in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas and Mississippi; and Honda in Alabama; German automakers Mercedes-Benz in Alabama and BMW in South Carolina; and South Korea’s Hyundai and Kia in Alabama and UAW failed in two efforts at organizing Nissan’s Smyrna facility in 1989 and 2001. Unionization drives also have failed at other plants, including the Mercedes-Benz factory near Tuscaloosa, Ala.Cruz & Associates OverviewCruz & Associates is one of the nation’s leading labor relations firms, helping businesses manage change in the workplace. We are experienced forward-thinkers who combine hands-on success solving difficult human resources and labor and human resources challenges, with new strategic solutions for keeping the workforce connected to the goals of the organization.Change is the watchword of the future.

Old boundaries are gone. Markets are moving faster than ever before. While organizations can’t predict the future, they can be ready for whatever it brings by using the best communications and human resources practices to educate, motivate and align their employees to new operating realities.Cruz & Associates has helped hundreds of clients from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations achieve employee buy-in for new business realities, often in come-from-behind situations. To better serve our clients’ needs, we have become more versatile in our capabilities. While we continue to offer the most effective labor relations and campaign management services, we have integrated them with communications strategies, interactive workplace skills, and change management solutions. We too have changed by recruiting top-ranked management professionals and expanding our network of alliance partners.