Posts tagged Hillary Clinton

Sending Wrong Messages on Human Trafficking

I wonder where the whole Invisible Children and KONY 2012 thing has gone to?  If you watched the video that went viral about 3-4 months ago…now THAT was a conflicted message!!! The three young guys who started this organization probably initially meant well for the sake of those children in Sudan and Uganda who were caught in the brutal web of Joseph Kony. Also, I wonder if Kony really will be captured and brought to world justice by the end of this year???

The reason I have gotten involved with the whole issue of human trafficking and trying to help eradicate it was the three plus years I spent in Kazakhstan (teaching in Almaty and Astana). To me, there seems to be a spirit of slavery and non-freedom that exists in that country, at least in those two Russified cities.  Contrast that with the Kazakhs living in the outback areas and hard-to-get to places who probably have a strong sense of independence and warrior spirit. Sadly, those Kazakhs who were “domesticated” during the Soviet period have maybe lost the will to fight to declare who they really are as Kazakhs. What a proud heritage from the long ago past.  Yet there are those vulnerable individuals from Central Asia who live in today’s contemporary society. They WANT to get out of their miserable economic situation. They have been duped by the lies of traffickers. Somehow I could relate to the book I read titled “Two Kyrgyz Women.”

I have probably gotten about 40 other people to read this book as well, ten were my Kazakh students in Astana.  I have handed out so many copies of this short book written by Marinka Franulovich that I am pleased to report that it is now on line FREE!  What good news to see this gem out there on the Internet for more people to read and become aware of the trafficking problem in Central Asia. My hope is that someone will pick up on these two stories of brave women who came forward and make it into a movie for a wider audience to know the truths in this book dealing with Central Asian culture and how women get trapped into slavery.

Unfortunately, there is a wrong message being sent out just below the description of this book that is free on-line.  Because it deals with the sensitive nature of prostitution and women being trafficked, there is a sensually provocative book also being advertised that is the exact opposite of what lessons should be learned from “TKW.” (sigh).  I told Marinka about this conflict and she wrote to the e-book distributors but I think there is not much that can be done about this.  Check out this link in order to get the free download of “Two Kyrgyz Women.”

Another wrong message I witnessed yesterday was Will Smith’s wife who posed nude in a short video clip to promote something concerning human trafficking.  Talk about a conflict of interest, what was Smith’s point in doing that?  I saw the interview where Jada Pickett Smith explained what she did, but it escaped my understanding. Okay, so her daughter Willow Smith got her started on this topic of human trafficking after she had witnessed the KONY 2012 video.  I wonder what good will come of this video that Jada Smith did? Building awareness about trafficking by going nude?! Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Will Smith were in the audience of some gathering on June 19th where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a talk on human trafficking.

I hate to admit that I have never been a fan of Hillary’s but I DO respect her firm stance against human trafficking. She is consistent as a fighter against this tragedy and it is outlined in the speech she gave below.  Check out the link and see the report that just came out this month from the State Department about what is going on in the world with trying to eradicate human trafficking.

SECRETARY CLINTON: “Thank you. Thank you all very much. And I am delighted to see a standing room only crowd here in the Benjamin Franklin Room for this very important annual event. I welcome all of you here to the State Department. And I want to begin by thanking Ambassador CdeBaca and his team for all the hard work that goes into this report, and the passion that they bring to the fight against modern slavery. I would like, Lou, for you and your team to either stand or wave your hand if you’re already standing. Could we have everyone from – (applause) – thank you. I so appreciate what you do every day, not just when we roll out the report, and I’m very proud to be your colleague.

I also want to welcome our 10 TIP heroes, whose work is making a real difference. You will hear more about each one individually when we recognize them, but I want, personally, to thank them because they do remind us that one person’s commitment and passion, one person’s experience and the courage to share that experience with the world, can have a huge impact. And I am delighted to welcome all of our TIP heroes here today. Thank you. (Applause.)

And I will join Lou in thanking Jada Pinkett Smith and Will for being here, and through you, your daughter. Because, as Lou said, it was their daughter who brought this issue to Jada’s attention, and I am so pleased that she has taken on this cause. And we look forward to working with you.

In the United States today, we are celebrating what’s called Juneteenth. That’s freedom day, the date in 1865 when a Union officer stood on a balcony in Galveston, Texas and read General Order Number 3, which declared, “All slaves are free.” It was one of many moments in history when a courageous leader tipped the balance and made the world more free and more just. But the end of legal slavery in the United States and in other countries around the world has not, unfortunately, meant the end of slavery.

Today, it is estimated as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery, what we sometimes call trafficking in persons. As Lou said, I’ve worked on this issue now for more than a dozen years. And when we started, we called it trafficking. And we were particularly concerned about what we saw as an explosion of the exploitation of people, most especially women, who were being quote, “trafficked” into the sex trade and other forms of servitude. But I think labeling this for what it is, slavery, has brought it to another dimension.

I mean, trafficking, when I first used to talk about it all those years ago, I think for a while people wondered whether I was talking about road safety – (laughter) – what we needed to do to improve transportation systems. But slavery, there is no mistaking what it is, what it means, what it does. And these victims of modern slavery are women and men, girls and boys. And their stories remind us of what kind of inhumane treatment we are still capable of as human beings. Some, yes, are lured to another country with false promises of a good job or opportunities for their families. Others can be exploited right where they grew up, where they now live. Whatever their background, they are living, breathing reminders that the work to eradicate slavery remains unfinished. The fact of slavery may have changed, but our commitment to ending it has not and the deeply unjust treatment that it provides has not either.

Now the United States is not alone in this fight. Many governments have rallied around what we call the three P’s of fighting modern slavery: prevention, prosecution, and protection. And this report, which is being issued today, gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of us are making progress on our commitments and where we are either standing still or even sliding backwards. It takes a hard look at every government in the world, including our own. Because when I became Secretary of State, I said, “When we are going to be issuing reports on human trafficking, on human rights that talk about other countries, we’re also going to be examining what we’re doing,” because I think it’s important that we hold ourselves to the same standard as everyone else.

Now, this year’s report tells us that we are making a lot of progress. Twenty-nine countries were upgraded from a lower tier to a higher one, which means that their governments are taking the right steps. This could mean enacting strong laws, stepping up their investigations and prosecutions, or simply laying out a roadmap of steps they will take to respond.

But this issue and the progress we’ve made are about much more than statistics on prosecutions and vulnerable populations. It’s about what is happening in the lives of the girls and women I recently met in Kolkata. I visited a few months ago and was able to meet with some extraordinary women and girls who were getting their lives back after suffering unspeakable abuses. One young girl, full of life, came up and asked me if I wanted to see her perform some karate moves. And I said, “Of course.” And the way she stood up so straight and confident, the pride and accomplishment in her eyes, was so inspiring. This was a child who’d been born in a brothel to a young mother who had been forced and sold into prostitution. But when her mother finally escaped and took her daughter with her, they were out of harm’s way and finally able to make choices for themselves.

Now I don’t know what’s going to happen to that young girl, whose image I see in my mind’s eye, in the years and decades ahead. But I do know that with a little help, her life can be so much better than her mother’s. And that’s what we need to be focused on, and it’s what we need to try to do for all victims and survivors.

That’s why in this year’s report, we are especially focused on that third P, victim protection. And in these pages, you’ll find a lot of proven practices and innovative approaches to protecting victims. This is a useful and specific guide for governments looking to scale up their own efforts. What kind of psychological support might a victim need? How should immigration laws work to protect migrant victims? How can labor inspectors learn to recognize the warning signs of traffickers? And what can you and all of us do to try to help?

When I met with the people who were working with victims in Kolkata, I met several young women from the United States who had been inspired by reading about and watching and going online and learning about what was happening in the efforts to rescue and protect victims. And they were there in Kolkata, working with organizations, NGOs, and the faith community, to do their part. So this is a moment for people to ask themselves not just what government can do to end modern slavery, but what can I do, what can we do together.

Ultimately, this report reminds us of the human cost of this crime. Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life. And our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it’s getting a good job to send money home to support a family, trying to get an education for oneself or one’s children, or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life. We need to ensure that all survivors have that opportunity to move past what they endured and to make the most of their potential.

I’m very pleased that every year we have the chance to honor people who have made such a contribution in this modern struggle against modern slavery. And I’m also pleased that this is a high priority for President Obama and the Obama Administration. It’s something that is not just political and not just a policy, but very personal and very deep. You might have seen over the weekend a long story about Mrs. Obama’s roots going back to the time of our own period of slavery and the family that nurtured her, which has roots in the fields and the houses of a time when Americans owned slaves.

So as we recommit ourselves to end modern slavery, we should take a moment to reflect on how far we have come, here in our country and around the world, but how much farther we still have to go to find a way to free those 27 million victims and to ensure that there are no longer any victims in the future.”

Leave a comment »

Teaching in the Trenches (Part II)

As a follow-up to my last question I posed yesterday about why the money can’t be evenly distributed to the rural areas of Kazakhstan, why the concentration of elite schools in the bigger cities such as Almaty and Astana?  One Kazakhstani answered that for me, because the money can’t be trusted if it were to go to school administrators in the far reaches of this great country.  Corruption abounds, especially in education.  So, how does one educate the young people of Kazakhstan to be honest if even the school administrators and teachers resort to bribes?  Okay, back to what Annemarie talked about with my students the other day…

Annemarie asked my English teachers, “Which English do you teach your youngsters?”  They answered, “British English.”  The next question, “Who do you do business with the most as a country?”  Answers: Turkey, U.S., Saudi Arabia…  Her next strong statement was, “you don’t just teach English, you also teach culture.” When you teach British English, you do it within the context of how Brits interact (and there are MANY kinds of British accents besides R.P. – received pronunciation, the Queens English or BBC).  If you teach American English, you may do so in the context of how Americans interact in business, at play, at home, in families, etc.

What was interesting was that Annemarie took a side path about how Russian, Slavic and Asian people are “person-related” while Americans, Germans and other westerners are “object-related.”  One example was the way Kazakhs shake hands, they have an open palm extended but then they put their other hand over the shaking hand to show that you are not bearing arms.  If one would have their hand behind their back or in their pocket, it would keep the other person wary. Kazakhs and especially Chinese will stand close to each other (depending on the depth of the relationship). For Americans they simply extend the arm at elbow length and expect the distance to not invade their bubble of space.

Another cultural thing that Annemarie had observed when she lived in Odessa, Ukraine, she learned that to be considered truly intellectual one was expected to be witty or tell a good story in Russian.  You may be German or Jewish but if you went into a bread shop in Odessa and you were to buy some bread, it was expected to establish a relationship with the seller of the bread.  You were to make idle conversation because it was person-related, rather than object related.  Then she went on to say how interaction with sales clerks here in Kazakhstan were aggravating because they were not personable but rather perfunctory or rude.  I thought it was multi-tasking or distraction but in any case, the impersonal nature of sales transactions here in some Kazakhstan stores leads one to believe that it is NOT “person related.” I blame it on old communist morals that did not encourage a service mentality or the “customer is always right.”  That is an American value.

Annemarie next asked, “What are the typical Kazakh values?” One important one is “The individual is less important than the group.”  The big family in older Kazakh times travelled together as nomads.  One member of that group could not rebel and say to his family, “I’m not doing this anymore, I’m moving to Almaty!”  No, now you have a shift in the ideas of travelling within the country of Kazakhstan.  People are taking on European values of getting on a plane and travelling one day to Almaty and back to Astana again.  That would be unheard of back in the Kazakh nomad days.  You would not have the speed and time of travel that we “enjoy” today.

Every country has their basic social values and rules to live by.  Annemarie feels accountable and responsible for the money she has been allocated by her German government to make decisions on how it will be properly administered to help the most people in this country of Kazakhstan.  She comes from a background of the Enlightenment period from 500-600 years ago where the individual is the focus.  Her civic society expects her to make individual choices that will not only reflect well on her, but on her country.  However, there are people in Kazakhstan who would pad their budgets or do things under the table with bribes because they see it as normal.

Annemarie ended her talk with citing an example of the Minister of Defense in Germany who resigned because he had cheated on his dissertation thesis.  He had noble background and had been in charge of at least two army universities that graduated young people who should know how to write papers that were not plagiarized.  Yet, he had done that very thing himself, he was supposed to be accountable for his individual action because he was in charge of a group of individuals.  Yes, accountability is a value that we share in the western world and sometimes we as English teachers are not just teaching English but we are teaching culture and cultural values.

What cultural values are being taught when an important dignitary is brought to a university to speak but where MOST of the Kazakh students are not in the auditorium of their own volition? This happened a few months ago when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came and talked to a university in the old part of Astana during the OSCE conference.  Most of the students in the auditorium didn’t have a good grasp of English but were required to fill ALL the seats.  This also happened in Kyiv, Ukraine as well when the American ambassador showed up.  All the pedagogical students who didn’t know English were to fill up the 350 seats of the auditorium so as to impress the ambassador.  Our western university in Kyiv at that time only had about 120 students. The questions that were asked of the ambassador were all planted and well prepared questions too.  Those are old style Soviet tricks to play it safe when a visiting dignitary comes for a visit, it is meant to impress the said foreigners.

What happened recently at our university, which is supposed to be a new one founded on democratic principles was to close the cafeteria at the very time of the speaker’s engagement so that the “dutiful” Kazakh students were all forced to show up to listen to a dignitary say politically safe things and give vanilla answers in order to be politically correct in his host country’s environment.  You can be sure a long queue was formed by hungry students who perhaps resented having their supper delayed by one hour.

Okay, I’m shooting from the hip but then I’ve been in the trenches teaching in Kazakhstan for three years and Ukraine for seven years.  I think I know a little bit about what is going on with Kazakhstan trying to get out from the Soviet values, embrace their own culture from the past while taking on the modernization of the West’s. It is VERY complicated.

Annemarie and I chatted in the cafeteria after she was through with talking to my students as they took off to the computer lab to do their many assignments.  We were being “person-related” from our own “object-related” backgrounds in a “person-related” environment of Kazakhstan.  This culture is fascinating for both of us, who would dare even write about this for a western audience to read and understand and appreciate?

Leave a comment »

What ELSE Hillary said in Bishkek

Apparently when Hillary was in Astana there were about 200 people in her delegation.  I was just at the Radisson today where she and all others stayed for two days.  Some other guys and I brought in 15 boxes for the book sale tomorrow for the Charity Bazaar.  People are STILL talking about the summit, getting back to normal.  (If you call way below zero temps normal?) At least the wicked wind isn’t blowing as hard as it was during the summit.

I had an epiphany moment this morning when I woke up.  I had talked to my PDP class yesterday about people back in the U.S. not  hearing or knowing about this summit conference that involved up to 65 nations. I know that realization was insulting to some Kazakhs who saw all the money that was poured into this extravagant show in order to make it happen. Perhaps if a bomb or something had blown off somewhere, the media might have been all over it. Kind of like what happened at Tianamen Square back in 1989, that is when CNN and 24/7 news coverage really took off.  But no, this was a peaceful conference and it stayed that way because of all the extra precautions to keep everyone safe.

My epiphany is that journalists have their Mr. Bottomlines editors and publishers.  Too much expense would go into the airfares alone to get to this summit by the most earnest of journalists. Astana isn’t cheap once you try to find food and shelter either!  I know one blogger recently wrote she would have gladly come to Kazakhstan but it would have cost her $4,000 roundtrip.  That’s what we are talking about people, Kazakhstan is close to the “ends of the earth”  Through no fault of its own, and I know some Kazakh people would be greatly offended  by this statement, but it is NOT easy to get to Kazakhstan.

Hillary was here in Central Asia back in 1997, she kept referring to that last trip she took in her speeches, interviews and town hall meetings.  She could have come on other junkets a lot earlier but she got a lot of mileage out of this most recent trip to Astana and then to Bishkek.  Hillary seemed genuinely pleased to be in both places and I kept looking for her to emphasize even more strongly about human rights issues.

I was very interested in what Hillary said in Bishkek when she made a quick trip there after spending a few days in Astana.  She was answering someone’s question about the color revolutions.  I thought her answers were well-informed.  That is the kind of person we need in office right now, someone who knows their history and stands up and talks about hard issues.  Very difficult issues face Central Asia because it takes many years to untangle all the webs of deceit that went on during the Soviet period.

Apparently Hillary is not going to run for the President’s office in 2012, which I find hard to believe. But she made that announcement in the last few days.  I can’t imagine keeping up the pace she did in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere. She has been doing just that for the last 20-30 years.  I think she wants to rest and maybe retire from public scrutiny.

That’s the thing about democracy, I can say or write if I don’t like her and people are okay with that. To each his own.  But there are places, even in Central Asia, where you would not DARE to say something against your elected official in office.  I found it very interesting to read through the Larry King interview of Putin.  Yes, now THERE’s an election to watch in the next few years. Read on what Hillary said to her Bishkek audience about democracy and elections and revolutions.  I got this off of this blog with the screen name of “Still4Hill.” Loyal Hillary supporter.

SECRETARY CLINTON: “Well, first, let me say we did not control or direct any of the Color Revolutions. The United States has always stood for democracy. We have always encouraged people to speak out for human rights. And we were very pleased when the former Soviet Union dissolved, and people were given a chance to go back to their own country, have their own governments, and chart their own futures. But that’s a relatively short period of time in human history, because, remember, it was 1989, 1990, 1991 when all of this happened. So 20 years is not a lot of time for countries to have a stable, functioning democracy.

But I think if you look at all of the countries that came out from under the Soviet Union – Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, all of these countries – they are functioning very well. They are members of the European Union, they have solid democracies, they have free market economies, they respect human rights. I think Georgia has economically developed very well…

Well, there is a lot to admire about what Georgia has accomplished. Georgia has accomplished economic growth, Georgia has accomplished some important reforms against corruption. Georgia has some challenges. And, of course, they have a real problem with Russia. They had a war in 2008, and they had lost two of their provinces, which Russia claims are not independent nations that they have recognized. So, Georgia, under very difficult circumstances, has accomplished quite a lot.

Ukraine, after the Orange Revolution, had an opportunity. But I will tell you, one of the problems in Ukraine is that the people in the government could not figure out how to cooperate, and they could not make decisions. And, as a result, they did not produce the kinds of changes that people expected after the Orange Revolution. They have a new government now. Their new president is trying a different approach, because, of course, they neighbor Russia. Russia was quite concerned about the Orange Revolution and about the elections that brought reformers to power. So now the new administration in Ukraine is trying to get along with Russia, Europe, and the United States, everybody. And they are trying to do a balancing act. We will see how it works. Not clear yet how it will work.

Kyrgyzstan, in my view, has a second chance with what you have just done. You had some real difficulties with coming out of the authoritarian regime imposed by the former Soviet Union. And many of the people who have come to power immediately out of the old Communist Party apparatus knew nothing about democracy. You can’t really expect someone whose only experience was in a totalitarian system, a command economy, to automatically understand everything about how complicated democracies are.

So, I think you are off to a good start, but it is just a start. Elections are just the beginning, they’re not the end of the democratic process. So you have a lot of work ahead. And the people have to hold the leaders accountable for getting together to solve problems, because that’s what democracies have to do. So, I hope next year, year after, in 5 and 10 years, we will look back and say that Kyrgyzstan is setting the model for this part of the world. And that’s what I would like to see.” (Applause.)

Comments (1) »

Astana All A-Buzz After the Summit

One of my regular taxi drivers this morning was in earnest to talk to me about the GREAT summit which finished yesterday in Astana. Over fifty-five countries were represented with some of their top leaders.   EVERYONE in Astana is still talking about it and even with my limited Russian listening comprehension and the driver’s German-Russian-English-Kazakh combinations of speech, Yaheya got some of his points across.  As we drove the short distance from my flat (worth 500 tenge to him) this morning to the university, we saw policemen in their blue camo uniforms still standing at every bus stop and police cars everywhere.  I can only imagine that it was even more heavily secure during the two days of the summit.  I wouldn’t know, I was cooped up for those days in my flat. Yaheya explained there were police who were brought in from neighboring cities. We were ALL made to feel secure, that’s for sure.  Those poor policemen standing outside for hours on end would have been cold too because it was a very harsh, strong wind from the west.  How did they cope those two LONG days during the summit?

How did the people who attended the LONG summit, cope? My loquacious driver wanted to talk about Hillary Clinton. Yes, I’m sure she made quite a hit and now she is in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Brave woman. The name Monica came up and so I knew where our conversation was heading. I insisted I didn’t understand what he was saying. I actually feel sorry for Hillary, she has had the equivalent of wikileaks 100 times over throughout her very public life, so she must have a very thick skin by now. Enough about Hillary, or is it?

Had fun in my Friday class of English for some of the university librarians who need to brush up on their speaking skills.  On one of the handouts I used today with a few of my remedial learners, the questions were such 1) what is your name? 2) How old are you? 3) Where do you live? 4) Do you have a car? 5) What languages do you speak? 6) Do you smoke? 7) What music do you like 8 ) What TV programmes do you like? 9) What food do you like? 10) What newspaper do you read? 11) What sports do you play?  With four women, some older and others younger, I was able to give them different identities based on the latest Summit.  The first was to answer all 11 questions as if she were Hillary, next we had Sarkozy represented, then Medvedev and finally Yanokovich from Ukraine.  We were laughing at the creativeness of the answers, thinking how absurd some of the questions were posed to these very important people.  When asked about which cars they drove, the one person answered, Zaparocha, Lada and Niva.  When asked about food, the person in French character said escargot and then the Russian word for frogs.  What we really laughed about was one of the characters when asked about what newspaper he read – “nothing.”  Oy, one of these politicians is known to my adult learner students as a non-reader.  Anathema to librarians!!!

If you really want to know more about why the banners, displays and billboards all over Astana, go to the following website. Alexandre Keltchewsky, the Ambassador of this organization in Kazakhstan came and talked to our international women’s group in October.  I have my notes about what he talked about somewhere, I may retrieve them and blog about it tomorrow. To sum up, this was the seventh such Summit in this organization’s history. Previous summits were held 1975 in Helsinki, 1990 in Paris, 1992 in Helsinki, 1994 in Budapest, 1996 in Lisbon and 1999 in Istanbul.

Then for my last class of the day today, I had my PDP students look at the results of my survey in ppt format on Web Survey Master.  I got 26 responses so far from my expat friends in Astana and Almaty about “expat’s impressions of Kazakhstan.” Some of the answers were hilarious, others candid and sincere.  One of my students said this wasn’t PDP class anymore but “laughing class.”  We had a good time talking about the results while I was trying to stress true and accurate statistics.  We ended on an even higher note with watching Sir Ken Robinson giving a talk on about “Education Kills Creativity.”  Quite a funny speech with very good examples.  We clapped at the end just like the audience did.  So ended our day, a post-summit kind of day with more excitement to come next week…stay tuned!!!

Leave a comment »

What ELSE Hillary Clinton said in Astana

I remember when I lived in Minneapolis close to Interstate Highway I-94 and 35W in the early 1990s, we had an important dignitary ride by in his black limo. We knew this was a VIP because all the freeways had been closed off that particular Sunday afternoon, we had been warned of this interruption. It was eerie to see what was a usually very busy freeway, was completely silent. But we weren’t as a neighborhood, we all excitedly stood by the fence to watch the black motorcade roll past with great anticipation. I don’t know what we expected to see, certainly with about 4-5 limos, you are NOT going to see the person of interest through dark paned glass.  It was like a parade of one float and when it was over we could say that we saw one of the CARS of the  leader of the former Soviet Union go past us. Yes, it was Gorbachev rolling through Minnesota on that cool day. I won’t ever forget that historic moment but I’m sure Gorbachev won’t remember simply because he had been driven through so many towns and in so many countries all his public life.

Well, the same thing happened here in Astana, Kazakhstan these past couple of days. Except no one was supposed to be out watching because this was actually like a parade of many motorcades with police cars flashing lights in front. Each delegation of the 55 plus countries were driven through the streets in Astana to discuss peace, security and human rights issues. Seems ironic that so much extra police were on hand to make sure that these talks would go without a hitch, meaning NO TERRORISTS allowed! I think it worked!

I’m most interested in what Hillary said especially after her very rigorous meetings with so many people yesterday. She ended up at the U.S. embassy in the evening and shook hands and talked with an American friend of mine. Of course, my friend said that Hillary looked tired but she has a job to do of diplomacy and showing the U.S. best face to this summit conference. I saw this quote about what ambassadors are supposed to do. I believe Hillary as Secretary of State has a different job description.

A 16th century English diplomat Henry Wotton said, ” An ambassador is a man of virtue sent to lie abroad for his country.”

The following is what Hillary said in answer to a journalist’s question.  I found it intriguing.  I got this from the same blog website I got other Hillary info from yesterday:

“And one more question to State Secretary Clinton. It is known that some amendments to the act on cyber space have been adopted in the United States that would entitle the U.S. President to regulate the exchange of information in the Internet. I would like to know more about this concerning the amendments to the act on cyber space. Thank you.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I would add…With regard to cyber security and cyber space, the United States is, like many nations, addressing the opportunities and the challenges and the threats that are posed in cyber space. We want the Internet to be a vehicle for the free exchange of information, yet we are well aware of the dangers that can be posed to the misuse of the Internet to all kinds of institutions and networks. And so this is not only a matter of concern for the United States; we think this deserves attention at the highest international levels, and that is beginning to occur.

The following thing that Hillary said is what REALLY surprised me.  That the Afghan students will come to Kazakhstan to study?  I will believe it when I see it!!! (yeah like THAT’s going to happen!)

“Last night, I met with many of the participants who took part in the independent conference of non-governmental organizations that ran parallel with the summit. I was impressed by their effort and energy on crucial challenges, including protecting fundamental freedoms. They know what we all know, that a thriving civil society is a vital building block of democracy, and that disparate, diverse voices must be heard and supported.

In the discussion that I had with both the president and the foreign minister, I thanked Kazakhstan for your support of the international mission in Afghanistan, and for all you are doing to help the Afghan people, particularly the very kind invitation for 1,000 students to continue their education here, in Kazakhstan. This will enable these young people to contribute to Afghanistan’s development. I also thanked Kazakhstan for the recently concluded air transit agreement that will help ensure the delivery of critical resources to Afghanistan, and I welcomed Kazakhstan as the newest member of the International Security Assistance Force, which now includes 49 countries.”

Comments (1) »

What Hillary Clinton said in Astana, Kazakhstan yesterday

I’m thankful for one blogger who put the script of a town hall meeting with Hillary Clinton in her blog. That way I could read about what is happening a mile from where I live in Astana, Kazakhstan.  We are in the middle of a HUGE summit meeting drawing more than 55 representatives of many countries. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, happens to be one of those people representing the U.S.  Most of my friends and family know that I have never been a fan of Hillary’s. However, after reading this text, Hillary said many things that were obviously diplomatic, measured and informed about Kazakhstan.  I was particularly interested in how she answered the questions to a crowd of about 600 in the audience about human trafficking and also about blogging freedom.  (Naturally the latter would be on my mind because I’ve been a blogger inside of Kazakhstan since fall of 2007.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started out with general remarks but she highlighted about human trafficking which I had expected her to do.  She had said something about this very difficult issue in Thailand several weeks ago. If you want to read just a portion of the script, here is what she said:

I also would like to commend the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law for its work toward developing the National Human Rights Action Plan and recognize the role that that Evgenyi Zhovtis, a leading human rights activist, played in drafting this important document.

And I would like to salute Galina Morozova, who has devoted herself in the past 12 years to fight against human trafficking. She has sheltered hundreds of women. She has made herself vulnerable, because in the face of death threats she has fought for tougher sentences for traffickers. And she has worked with the government and with law enforcement agencies to change their attitudes and to help them understand that human trafficking is the modern form of human slavery.

There are so many people who have worked hand in hand to advance democracy and human rights. And I particularly was pleased to see some of the women who are on the front lines of change in Kazakhstan, some of whom I met in 1997, some of whom I have seen in other settings, but all of whom I greatly respect.

But I also want to commend the Government of Kazakhstan, because this government has made more progress than any other in the region and has committed itself to continuing that progress. Civil society groups help hold governments accountable, but governments have to be responsive. So I’d like to thank Adil Soz, the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, for its vital role as a media watchdog, because the OSCE commitments include the right of all citizens to know and act upon their rights. And it takes both brave journalists and independent local monitors to fight violations of press freedom.

Then Hillary answered the question of a woman whose husband was a journalist and is in prison in Kazakhstan (I presume). Read the text for yourself of how Hillary answered that woman’s query. But the following is how Hillary felt about blogging freedom specifically, but also the freedom of the press generally with this answer:

“So it’s a question we’re all going to have to deal with going forward, because it’s a wonderful means of communication. I mean, we can sit here in Astana and have a conversation with somebody in New York, and we can punch a button or move your mouse and get information about anything that you’re interested in. So it’s a great gift to human knowledge and communications. But just as we found in the past, where what you said could be harmful, we have to come up with the right kind of framework.

But we also have to be very careful that governments don’t overreact. Governments could say, “Well, now it’s even worse if you say something bad about us because it’s not just talking to a small group in an auditorium. You can tell everybody in the country, so we’re going to have to throw you in jail.” A lot of governments are throwing bloggers in jail because they get on the internet and they say, “Our leaders are corrupt, or our leaders are dishonest, or our leaders did this, that or the other thing,” and for expressing that opinion they go to jail. So that’s an overreaction, and we cannot permit that.

So somewhere, we’ve got to support that freedom of expression, whether it’s from an individual or from a journalist, but there also have to be some rules of – or some sense of responsibility that has to be inculcated. So that’s what we’re all struggling with, because this is a new phenomenon. This is something that, 10 years ago, we didn’t deal with even. So I think your question is a very important one, and human rights activists, as well as governments, are going to have to come together to understand how best to deal with this. “(Applause.)

The moderator of this event wanted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give a stamp of approval on the progress Kazakhstan has made and if you read to the very end, you will see Hillary clearly dances around giving a huge endorsement.  She admitted there is much work for Kazakhstan to do in the next 10-20 years but there has been remarkable achievements made in the last 20 years.  So it was an upbeat, hopeful message and I can only imagine that the crowd responded favorably to her. [Now, if only Hillary would care more about all those U.S. babies whose lives have been snuffed out even before they freely breathed American air, then I might be a Hillary supporter. But that’s a whole ‘nother “human rights issue.”]

For now, Hillary was careful to say what she can honestly report to her foreign audience in Astana, Kazakhstan and others who were in the group.  I hope at this two day conference more will be dialogued about how to free up those men and women who are slaves right now in Central Asia, the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, the Kyrgyz, even Kazakhs themselves from the rural areas.  Both women abused and used in sex trafficking and men hired as “slaves” to build all the grand buildings need protection. These vulnerable people need aid and shelter for the crimes committed against them.  Hillary mentioned that she admired Nelson Mandela greatly.  He had three men who were white, over the course of his 27 years of imprisonment, who had treated him with dignity and respect as a human though they were his jailers.  That is what needs to be given to the women who are trapped in the sex trade and men working for their families back home in other Central Asian countries and paid next to nothing on the construction sites in Kazakhstan.

Comments (2) »

Eight Students’ Samples of Their “Slice of Life”

The following excerpts are from a 25 minute timed writing of my masters level students the first time we met on Monday evening. (I had them sign a consent form so I could share a “slice of life” with my faithful readers.) I asked no leading questions, just simply asked them to write about themselves and I was very pleased with the results.

I was also very happy yesterday to get a text message from a former student of mine whom I had tutored for several weeks for the iBT version of the TOEFL exam.  Andriy was my “dream student” who flew to Almaty from Aktobe just to brush up on his speaking skills, as well as writing.  This was his text message to me, it MADE MY DAY!!!


“Hi there, how r u? I just got my results! Guess what, I got 93! My hands were shaking when I saw that I could get the score! Now, I hope u of c [University of Calgary] will accept them! Thanks!”


Dinara – “…Though I am valued employee at my work (yet, there is no irreplaceable person) I feel an urge to apply what I’ve learnt so far in practice.  Consequently, I decided to apply for a position in Big 4.  I know that when I do want to achieve the goal and I am keen on subject matter, I will shift every effort to become maybe not the best one, but at least to be among the best…reading is another hobby of mine.  Honestly speaking, I used to spend hours and hours reading the book, I cannot tear myself from the book unless I read it right till the end.”


Irina – “In 2006, I decided to get MBA education in________.  I really thought it produced excellent specialists.  But I don’t want to write bad about all the _______students…just to say that many of graduates are “empty inside,” in particular bachelors (just “coolness).


Elvira – “My friends say that I am a good friend.  I build any relationships honestly.  I’m always ready to help. Even my name means “person who protects everyone and takes care”  Sometimes it is not good for me because all my spare time I can spend to someone else.  I have big problems with time management and I can’t make any priorities. 


Maya –I did what thousands of other teenagers did at the early nineties when Soviet Union was crushing and the market economy was coming to change the communism, I entered the Technology University, on economy faculty.  Many teenagers at that time wanted to be a businessman or businesswoman. At 1999, I graduated the university, but I did not feel confident about my knowledge obtained there, because the level of education was very low there. 


Yulia – I have a brother, his name is Igor and he is younger than me on 8 years.  He is a hockey player.  Actually, it was the dream of my father to play hockey but in those Soviet time unfortunately it was impossible to play hockey if you are not Russian (because Russian men are strong, tall and brave.) I’m not sure that it was true, maybe it was the joke of my father but I believed him. 


Gulnar – “I dream to visit Japan, Italy and Brasilian.  I think their cultures are colorful and interesting.  I admire women, those who can combine family duties and good career.  I really want that Hillary Clinton would become the first women-president in USA, I believe that she is smart, strong and kind.


N.T. – “My favorite dream is “become great ruler which lead to Kazakhstani people to prosperity and sustainable development.”  I hope that God will bless Kazakhstan and me.  Also, I think that every person should be patriot, in family and country.  Also, I think and hope, and believe every one in this life have mission.  Who knows, maybe I have also great mission because it’s hard and stupid to just live.”


Leave a comment »