Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George W. Bush are scheduled to meet this weekend at Camp David to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Two topics likely will dominate their conversation: the death of Afghan civilians from NATO military action and Afghanistan’s narcotics problem. The civilian casualty issue was an important agenda item at the NATO Defense Ministers’ meeting in June 2007. At the time, NATO leaders largely argued that civilian casualties were an inevitable characteristic of war. A joint press conference with Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak following the Ministerial meeting, […]

HIV Spreading in Afghanistan

The one thing Afghans never had to worry about was HIV. That is, until June 2005, when a 50-year-old was diagnosed with the first-ever HIV-positive case in the country. Two years on, the situation is spiraling out of control: Radio Free Europe reports that over the last six months, the rate of new HIV infections has increased fourfold, with up to 2,000 people infected over the last year. The World Bank, which has pledged $10 million to fight the epidemic, considers Afghanistan’s high number of refugees, injecting drug users, and widespread illiteracy the most important factors causing the spread.

Israel’s Controversial Land Bill

As highlighted in today’s Media Roundup, last week the Knesset (Israel’s legislative branch) passed a draft of a controversial bill which would allow the Jewish National Fund — an organization owning 13 percent of Israeli land — to discriminate against non-Jewish Israeli citizens in the sale and rent of its land. With the strong majority in its first reading, the passage of theJNF legislation appears assured, save an unexpected decision by thegovernment to put it on hold. The bill risks fueling racial tensions between Jews and Israeli-Arabs. According to the CIA factbook, 24 percent of Israel’s 6,400,000 inhabitants are non-Jewish. […]

Bulgaria to Adopt a 10% Flat Tax Rate

Since Estonia adopted a flat tax rate in 1994, enjoying very robust GDP growth ever since, Eastern European countries have been gradually warming to this system that promises to attract foreign direct investment, increase transparency, and drastically curb tax evasion. Slovakia, Romania, Albania and many former Soviet republics have all adopted a flat tax. Now it’s Bulgaria’s turn: yesterday, the government declared it will introduce a flat tax rate on personal income. At 10 percent, Bulgaria’s flat tax rate will be among the lowest in the world, down from a tax rate that currently ranges between 20 and 24 percent. […]

How Serbia Sees Kosovo

WASHINGTON — During the past seven years, according to Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic, Serbia has held democratic elections, established a market economy and strived for active participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Jeremic, who met with reporters at the National Press Club in Washington on July 27, says that for Democracy to now truly flourish in the Balkans, the tiny province of Kosovo must remain part of Serbia, which is the largest block of the former Yugoslavia. He stressed that progress made by Serbia since 2000 will “likely be reversed if the imposition of independence of […]

Have You Been to Iraq, Senator?

The Hill newspaper has conducted an interesting survey, asking senators how many times they had visited Iraq. Patrick Fitzgerald, the author of the article accompanying the survey results, notes that “visiting Iraq has become a rite of passage for many lawmakers lookingto bolster their credibility on national security. Many lawmakers feelthat making a trip is important for their credibility when they areasked to weigh in on the war” As for the results, the survey reveals that “At least 76 senators have visited Iraq in the four years of combat, including 38 who have made the trip in the last 12 […]

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