Politic?

This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Getting On With It

"It is said that those who voted Leave were mainly driven by anxieties about immigration. I do not believe that is so. After meeting thousands of people in the course of the campaign, I can tell you that the number one issue was control -- a sense that British democracy was being undermined by the EU system, and that we should restore to the people that vital power: to kick out their rulers at elections, and to choose new ones."
"I believe that millions of people who voted Leave were also inspired by the belief that Britain is a great country, and that outside the job-destroying coils of EU bureaucracy we can survive and thrive as never before. I think that they are right in their analysis, and right in their choice. And yet we who agreed with this majority verdict must accept that it was not entirely overwhelming."
Boris Johnson, Conservative MP, former London mayor

"They are benefiting each day that goes by without it being clear what will happen next."
"They profit as long as it doesn't become clear that leaving the EU might have consequences."
Andreas Mauer, political science professor, University of Innsbruck, Austria
    Britain's opposition Labour party plunged into turmoil Sunday and the prospect of Scottish independence drew closer, ahead of a showdown with EU leaders over the U.K.'s seismic vote to leave the bloc.
    Britain's opposition Labour party plunged into turmoil Sunday and the prospect of Scottish independence drew closer, ahead of a showdown with EU leaders over the U.K.'s seismic vote to leave the bloc. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose profound regret over the success of the Leave votes trumping the Remain votes by a not totally substantial margin has caused him to take the brunt of responsibility for his belief that in calling for the resolution to take place he would once and for all put an end to the machinations in his own party to exit the European Union, by stepping down from his office; at the same time as acknowledging the will of the people, feels there should be no hurry to make the exit final.

The Treaty of Lisbon, Article 50 allows Britain or any other country that chooses to take the once-unfathomable step of leaving to take their time. And so, David Cameron sees Britain doing just that and in the interim negotiating special terms for Britain. To enable it to protect its economy by allowing Britain special access to the EU market, emulating Norway. The sticking point, of course, is that the major points propelling the Leave vote was open borders and immigration, and Britain would still have to adhere to the Schengen rule to enable access to the wider EU market.

Another is that the reaction from the elite in the European Union is that quick work should be made of the separation. That since Britain has voted to leave the marriage, the injured party feels no compulsion to make Britain feel comfortable about its decision, and to exercise an avuncular attitude to assure it that it will not suffer any consequences for its ill-considered move. You want out, they're saying, so get out!

British youth are livid with rage over the vote they attribute largely to an elderly countryside vote. The Brexit decision will impact British youth far more than it will those who voted to leave. Their easy access to studying, working, travelling and even living in the rest of Europe will come to a clanking close. Three-quarters of Brits ages 18 to 24 voted to remain in the EU, as did close to two-thirds of the 24 to 34 cohort. Even so, while senior Brits made the effort to actually get out and vote, youth voted in far fewer numbers. In the annals of you get what you deserve, this is a gem.

    A pro-European Union protester holds a sign near the Palace of Westminster in London on Friday, protesting Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
 
A pro-European Union protester holds a sign near the Palace of Westminster in London on Friday, protesting Britain's decision to leave the European Union. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC) 














Britain, at the moment, lacks someone at the helm of its steering mechanism for the ship of state. The Prime Minister will make no decisions, insisting that this is the work of his successor who may or may not take that helm by September. And if he does, it will likely be Boris Johnson who effectively steered the country toward voting to leave the EU. "Never has a revolution in Britain's position in the world been advocated with such carelessness", claimed The Guardian's Nick Cohen, accusing Mr. Johnson of contempt for the practical issues of the economy.

But there are other consequences that loom in the near future that will be far more troubling should they come to pass for Great Britain than merely exiting the EU as a member-state. Britain itself could be exited by Scotland and Northern Ireland, while Wales could remain with Britain even as Scotland and Northern Ireland choose to separate themselves from Britain to stay in the EU. Another referendum on Scotland leaving Britain, and on Northern Ireland reuniting with the Republic is being bruited about.

So is Britain on track to make history as the first and the only country in Europe to desert the EU? Doesn't look that way. France, it seems, is hugely more disparaging of the interfering nature of the EU than even the Brits. And there are many in Germany who are restive and prepared to see their country exit as well, despite the importance of Germany as a stabilizing factor in the politics and economy of the European alliance.

The world is still reeling from Brexit, but there are other iterations of potential national exits such as Departugal, Italeave, Czechout and others, named by economist Justin Wolfers in an attempt at injecting humour into an otherwise sober situation to quell the growing panic. A Pew Research Center poll indicated that sixty-one percent of French citizens view the EU in an unfavourable light, which represents a greater figure than those in Britain who voted to leave.

That same poll showed that a majority of Greeks and a plurality of Spaniards had similar misgivings about remaining within the European Union, preferring to return powers from Brussels to their own countries; and they're certainly not alone. "The majority of the people want the Nexit or at least a referendum about a possible Nexit", according to Geert Wilders, a Dutch leader. "Today is the beginning of the end of the European Union."

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Censuring the Abusers

"Citizens around the world listening to today’s debate have reason to be confused. For never before in the history of the United Nations have the pronouncements made here been more disconnected to reality.
In here, we have been told by various Middle Eastern nations that Israel is the greatest violator of the rights of health, women, equality and the environment."
"In reality, Israel, with all its flaws, is the only country in the Middle East whose hospitals treat Palestinians and Israelis; Jews, Muslims and Christians; the only country in the Middle East that respects women’s rights; the only country in the Middle East that respects the rights of minorities; and the only country in the Middle East that is a world leader in developing vital technologies such as desalination, water treatment, and drip irrigation."
"In here, Syria, Libya, Yemen are some of the countries that lecture on human rights. In reality, many of these are not even countries any more."
"Mr. President, Let us be clear. Israel should be subject to criticism like any other country. But Israel is not treated like other countries. No other country has an entire agenda item devoted to it—not even Syria, not even North Korea."
"There is, however, one silver lining today—the countries who did not speak. Democracies, like France, Germany, UK, the U.S., Canada, made the decision not to take the floor because this agenda Item singles out one country, Israel, for what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon himself denounced as selective and unfair treatment. Today is just one of many devices employed here at the UN that cross the line from legitimate criticisms of Israel’s policies to attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel itself."
"Here at the United Nations, where the majority faction has the power to decide whatever it wants, and where the minority faction has no judicial recourse, no right of appeal, no remedy, democracies have protested this injustice in the only way possible."
"In 1968, René Cassin, at the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which he helped to create, left early in protest at the singling out of Israel."
"Today, on the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Council, the free world has protested the vilification of Israel by not showing up at all."
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch
 
The United Nations functions as a hotbed of international dysfunction, where resolutions are meaningless, couched in language meant to demonize not the countries who specialize in routinely practising human rights abuses, countries that oppress their populations under tyrannical governments but are nonetheless elected by one another through cliques like the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the UN's Human Rights Commission.

This mutual support ensures that some of the world's most abusive regimes are represented on the UNHRC, a disgrace whose absurdity culminates in the never-ending condemnation of one sole nation in the world which exists as a vibrant democracy devoted to pluralist equality in a geographic sea of tyranny, repression and abuse. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has never given up its attempts to have the United Nations declare any criticism of Islam to represent a fundamental human rights assault.

A week earlier, Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly of the UN on behalf of the 51-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation objecting to the participation of 11 gay and transgender organizations attending a meeting of the United Nations on ending AIDS. A protest followed, led by the United States, Canada and the European Union. Although no reason was given for excluding the 11 gay and transgender groups the reason is obvious enough; in Islam such groups can elicit a death penalty.

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the re-naming of the Human Rights Commission, from its previous incarnation as an institute corrupted by its own membership where countries like China, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia are regularly elected from the general body of the United Nations to sit in sanctimonious judgement on nations whose values include firm legal sanctions against human rights abuse internally and internationally, yet another absurdity has taken place.

On this auspicious occasion of the anniversary, the 22-nation Arab League saw fit to yet again single Israel out for condemnation. Syria, a country whose president has authorized his military to attack Syrian civilians, extracting a wholesale death toll in the hundreds of thousands, and causing millions of Syrians to flee for safety, has accused Israel of exploiting "terrorism to continue to occupy parts of the Arab territories, including helping the terrorists and carrying them to their hospitals and providing them with health treatment."

Referring to Israeli hospitals treating ill and wounded Syrians fleeing the atrocities their own government has inflicted on them through chemical attacks and barrel bombs. Qatar, the oil-rich sheikdom that supports the terrorist group Hamas, spoke of Israel's "violence and terrorism worldwide." Iran, the supporter of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, took the opportunity on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement to condemn "Israel’s ongoing illegal colonization."

Pakistan, which supports and gives haven to the Afghan Taliban responsible for countless deaths in Afghanistan, and which hosted Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, had its opportunity as well to condemn Israel for  "its cynical discourse of being victimized and singled out at the UN", while being guilty of  "occupation, apartheid and colonization, in its policies of apartheid." Saudi Arabia which has used its vast oil wealth to fund madrassas all over the world, teaching its Wahhabist form of Islam favoured in the creation of violent jihadists excoriated Israel for subjecting Palestinians to "the worst forms of terrorism, oppression and intimidation."

Algeria, Venezuela, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon all countries who know how to put down insurrections, had the opportunity to condemn the State of Israel for its "heinous crimes" in "contin[uing] to kill Palestinians in an arbitrary manner, confiscating lands and destroying homes", and its "indiscriminate use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinians and destruction of vital Palestinian infrastructure, and the killing and extrajudicial killing of Palestinian civilians including children".

Libya's charge that Israel is guilty of "wanton murder", from its perspective as a tribal basket case of vengeful militias spoke as well of the "Judaisation of Jerusalem", and Lebanon's accusations, censuring Israel for continuing "to flout all humanitarian values and international instruments" identifying it as "a real enemy to peace and security", further edified the gathered, particularly coming from a country where Christian, Shiite, Sunni and Druze militias were dwarfed in their violence by the surfacing of Hezbollah.

And then, there was Oman, casting aggrieved blame on Israel for all that has gone wrong in the Middle East because "peace and war in the region has the Palestinian problem at its core".
Even the European Union was censured for its absence, since its delegates walked out of the flaying session aimed once again at Israel as the EU's absence was identified by Oman as evidence of "a politicized alliance in support of one party", without so much as a blush.

Might it be ventured that the spirit of dominion of Islam over all other pretenders to religious piety, aligned with a sense of vengeance could be the motivating force here? Just as terrorists deliver their message of intent to dominate through inspiring fear and dread, the Islamic countries and their supporters revel in ongoing attacks to cause humiliation through slander.

The psychic state of terror towered over by a spiritual cause, reflecting a sense of injury. That injury represented by a democratic nation whose religion is not that of Islam but which has absorbed into its borders a multitude of other ethnic and ideological groups and religious minorities to offer them the comfort of inclusion and security.

Which the Baha'i, for example, an offshoot of a kinder, gentler Islam could not find in Iran, when it decided to headquarter itself in Israel. And where gay pride parades can take place in a sense of equality and safety denied that community anywhere in the Arab and Muslim world. That Arab and Muslim world whose collective sense of outrage at the morals and values and safeguarding of human rights leads it to ventilate its rage in the international temple of peace, brotherhood and human rights.

Aaron Magid, June 12, 2016, Tel Aviv

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Yearning To Be Reunited

"Barry? Barry, is this you?"
"Yes ... Who's this?"
"Yes, Barry ... this is your Aunt Jane. In Nairobi. Can you hear me?"
"I'm sorry -- who did you say you were?"
"Aunt Jane. Listen, Barry, your father is dead. He is killed in a car accident. Hello? Can you hear me? I say,  your father is dead. Barry, please call your uncle in Boston and tell him. I can't talk now, okay, Barry. I will try to call you again ..."
At the time of his death, my father remained a myth to me, both more and less than a man. He had left Hawaii back in 1963, when I was only two  years old, so that as a child I knew him only through the stories that my mother and grandparents told. They all had their favorites, each one seamless, burnished smooth from repeated use. I can still picture Gramps leaning back in his old stuffed chair after dinner, sipping whiskey and cleaning his teeth with the cellophane from his cigarette pack, recounting the time that my father almost threw a man off the Pali Lookout because of a pipe ...
U.S. President Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father

"It has been my long cherished ambition to further my studies in America."
"The people around here [University of Hawaii] have made me feel at home. [They] called upon me to give several speeches on Africa and on Kenya."
"I rarely get any news here about Africa."
Barack Hussein Obama Sr. letters, 1958 - 1964, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem
Barack Obama is seen with his father Barack Obama Sr in an undated family snapshot from the late 60s or early 70s. Obama's father, originally from Kenya, was killed in an car accident in Kenya in 1982 after returning to Africa.
Barack Obama is seen with his father Barack Obama Sr in an undated family snapshot from the late 60s or early 70s. Obama's father, originally from Kenya, was killed in an car accident in Kenya in 1982 after returning to Africa.   Picture: REUTERS

The letters carry the voice and the thoughts and the experiences of a then-young man from Kenya whose improbable background as a village boy tending goats, walking barefoot to school, but imbued with ambition, intelligence, confidence and audaciousness led him to write to a number of American universities to describe himself as a penniless clerk of 22, able to type 75 words a minute and translate English into Swahili, whose ambition it was to further his education in the United States.

He was looking for some good Samaritan or institute to see their way clear to funding that ambition. And the University of Hawaii took up that challenge, to enable the  young man to travel from his village in Kenya to Hawaii. "I still didn't know the man my father had been", wrote President Obama in his book ... "What had shaped his ambitions?" Having stated which it would seem only logical that if the opportunity presented itself, beyond his long-ago visit to his roots in Kenya, he would grasp it.

Barack Obama's father's letters were discovered in the archives of the Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. What a trove that represented. The scholarship funding he was offered enabled him to travel to the United States to fulfill part of his dream of accomplishing something for himself. The letter-discovery was made in 2013. So, of course the university (Hawaii and Harvard) transcripts, the letters written in Obama Sr.'s hand and other related documents were immediately offered for scrutiny to his son.

The void that President Obama has spoken of, written of, at the absence of his father in his life could be partially filled, finally. He is no longer that teenager struggling to understand in the absence of a father "what it meant to be a man". In Dreams from My Father, Mr. Obama's quest to learn as much as he could about his father by visiting his family in Kenya, he discovered vital background and family contacts, but "I still didn't know the man my father had been".

The Schomburg Center is still awaiting a response from the invitation it issued to the President three years earlier. It was at the University of Hawaii while Mr. Obama was busy with his undergraduate studies in 1960 that he met Ann Dunham, from one of his classes. As a Muslim the senior Obama, though he had a wife and two children in Kenya, was able under Islam, to marry another wife, and so he did when it was discovered that Ann Dunham was pregnant. He remained with his American wife until their child was two, then returned to Kenya.

He aspired to be involved in the Kenyan government in its new independence. While at University of Hawaii he adapted readily to campus life. He had revealed that he hadn't achieved a high school diploma in Kenya, but it appears his intelligence and readiness to focus on academics revealed the value of his intelligence, excelling in classes and coming away with an economics undergraduate degree with honors. He went on to Harvard for a graduate degree and by then was no longer anchored to his American family.

Master's degree in economics in hand, he returned to Kenya. President Obama's uncle, the senior Obama's brother, speaks of the resemblance he sees so acutely obvious between his nephew and his brother; the tenor of his voice, the way he moves and strides along, so like his father. Strangely, for a man who so yearns to have known his father, to have been with him, to have had his guidance, President Obama has shown little inclination to make the effort any longer.

If and when he ever does decide to look a little closer at the mementos of the man who was his father he can access them at Box 214 of the Phelps Stokes Fund collection at the Schomburg storage facility in New York. They're there, waiting for him.

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Living Amidst Constant Islamist Threats

"Even at night it's O.K. here, it's safe. It's not safe there [ island of Samal]. That's not Duterte [controlled]."
Irish Ricaforte, 19, college student, Davao City, Philippines

"In Manila, there are all these crimes and problems."
"We don't have that here."
Patrick Seldar, 20, student, Davao City
Video screengrab shows a number of jihadist groups pledging allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group
Abu Sayyaf is one of several groups in the Philippines to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group -- Abu Sayyaf

Davao City, with its 1.6-million population has been a peaceful place of relative prosperity since it came under the influence of its former long-time mayor, and now President-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. The majority religion of the Philippines is Roman Catholic. And there is a restive relationship with the minority Muslim population of the country.

Mr. Duterte, in his time as mayor of Davao City, brought law and order to bear. Strict rules of civil order are enforced. Smoking is generally banned, and bars must close at a specific hour. People under 18 cannot be on the street in the absence of an adult companion between the hours of ten p.m. and five a.m.

From the vantage point of Davao City's waterfront Magsaysay Park, the island of Samal can be seen in the distance. That's where Islamic rebels make their home, among sympathetic Muslims  populating the island located on the coast of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Loyalty can be assured, since money the rebels make through extortion is shared with villagers.

Violent unrest takes place with firefights between police and military and gangs specializing in kidnap-for-ransom. Through much of Mindanao roadside bomb attacks and firefights take place, but not in Davao City, thanks to the law-and-order agenda that Rodrigo Duterte brought as mayor. His is a tough persona, and he has been accused of crimes reflective of those of the Islamists.

He claims to be prepared to destroy the violent Islamist groups and will do the killing himself, if he has to, to succeed in ridding the Philippines of the scourge of their presence. His targets are killers and drug dealers. The Islamist group Abu Sayyaf, specializing in kidnapping and extortion are his particular target for having brought world attention to their latest atrocities.

The abduction, threats, extortion attempts and finally beheading of two Canadian men whom they had kidnapped last fall along with the Philippine companion of one of the men and the Norwegian operator of a southern Samal island sailing resort. Demands of $8-million each were made for the release of all four who were abducted, and videos circulated of the kidnapped pleading with their governments for intervention.

Filipina Marites Flor, the fiancee of Robert Hall, who had been the second of the two Canadians to be beheaded, was recently released. Earlier, in April, John Ridsdel had been beheaded when the demanded ransom hadn't changed hands. "It's so painful because I saw them moments before they got beheaded. They [Abu Sayyaf jihadigs] were watching it [the beheadings'] and they were happy."

Site Intelligence
Site Intelligence   A second video ended with a new demand for money from Abu Sayyaf or it vowed it would murder Hall, his Filipina girlfriend, Marites Flor and a Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad.

She was herself threatened and beaten just as the others had been. "They told me, 'Robert's head has been chopped off. You're next. They treated us like dogs, like children." All together approximately two dozen people had been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group in the space of a year, including Indonesians whose tugboat had been raided.

It seems likely now that Kjartan Sekkingstad, the Norwegian, may also have been released with the government of Norway surrendering to the demands of the Islamists. The release of Marites Flor appears to have been negotiated by the government of the Philippines which has a firm 'no negotiations with terrorist kidnappers' policy.

In the case of Canada's similar position, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeating ad infinitum that his government does not and will not negotiate to release Canadians, the words of an unidentified kidnap security professional speaks volumes: "Sometimes  you pretend to negotiate before you take them out. Sometimes you pay and then you kill them. Sometimes you pay ... and all  you can do is pray. But you never telegraph your options."

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ancient Slanders Revived

"As part of the Israeli attempts to utilize religious sources of authority to achieve political goals, an Israeli human rights organization has exposed a religious ruling issued by Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis, that gave the settlers permission to poison the drinking water and the natural wells in the villages and towns throughout the West Bank. This, with the goal of causing the residents to leave their lands, enabling the settlers to take control of them."
Palestinian TV report
PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (Video Screenshot, PMW)

No Rabbi Shlomo Melamed is known to exist, and there is no Council of Settlement Rabbis, referred to in the accusation. But little things like vibrant imaginations whose purpose is to paint a picture of an ancient libel newly refreshed will not stop anyone willing to believe such atrocious claims from claiming them to be true. True believers feel that Rabbis will stoop to issuing such outrageous instructions and that Jews are sufficiently hate-filled to carry them out.

After all, in the world of Islam mullahs and imams feel free to issue death fatwas at will, whenever they feel someone -- Muslim or non-Muslim -- has breached the sacred trust in Islam in some manner by  defaming the Prophet Mohammad through portraying him in a cartoon or a play or a book, when it is absolutely prohibited, or are guilty of criticizing Islam, alternately risking death as punishment for abrogating the stricture against abandoning Islam.
"What is the international community waiting for to interfere, the death of thousands of Palestinians of thirst? To meet such incident with silence and ignore the war Israel is waging against Palestinians is a cause of shame for the international community."
Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement
Inciting against Israel by 'validating' the dangerously inflammatory 'facts' revealed by some obscure source finding other methods of reaching out to the international community to complain about Israel's dastardly plan to annihilate Palestinian lives, needs no verification to ensure that the accusations have any basis in fact. That they are reported is sufficient proof that there is reason to report them; the words transform the hateful idea into reality.
"By scapegoating the Jewish state for all the world's health problems, just as medieval Europe once accused the Jews of poisoning the wells, the United Nations and its World Health Organization betray the very principles upon which they were founded."
"Israel remains' the beacon of the entire region on respecting the health rights of all people."
Hillel Neuer, director general, UN Watch

Certainly Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA seems to believe that the health rights of all people are safeguarded in Israeli hospitals, since he escorts his ailing wife for treatment inside Israel, trusting that Jewish and Arab physicians and medical staff working there in Israeli hospitals will take the excellent treatment of his wife that Israeli medicine is noted for. And nor has the leader of Hamas hesitated to send his family members to Israel for expert professionalism to deal with their serious health problems.

But it suits the purpose of the Palestinians to incite against Israel, as the brutal occupier whose human rights transgressions know no bounds of decency. Including abducting Arab children to drain their blood to be used in the preparation of Passover matzos. A blood libel charge that was popular in the Middle Ages when Jews were blamed for the most outrageous excesses in human rights atrocities, from using the blood of Christian children to produce matzos, to poisoning community wells and committing ritual murder.

These charges justified the pogroms and mass slaughters imposed upon Jewish communities throughout eastern Europe and beyond where in Ukraine, Poland and Russia in particular, the regular occurrences of popular charges of violence by Jews against Christians led mobs to rampage through villages, extracting their bloody revenge on the Jewish men, women and children who were the focus of their rage.

Often used as scapegoats by authorities to divert attention from their own oppression of the peasants, the charges were used, allowing the oppressed to vent their psychotic rage against helpless communities of Jews cowering in fear and hoping to survive the alcohol-fuelled rampages where Jewish business were looted, homes vandalized, and people slaughtered.

After Palestinian television aired the first report they corrected it, however. No one single rabbi was involved; the entire rabbinical council issued the directive, according to updated information. A charge that the Arab League was only too happy to support, giving them another opportunity condemn Israel, even using the non-existent Rabbi's dread name as proof of what was happening.

Enter the World Health Organization, passing a resolution presented by the Palestinian Authority that claimed Israel violates the rights of Palestinians through interference in West Bank and Golan Heights hospitals. Israel once again distinguished by representing the sole nation criticized at the conference in a vote of 107 to eight with eight abstentions.

Yair Lapid, former Israeli finance minister, wrote to Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director general, to point out that the resolution was a particularly pungent expression of anti-Semitism, fitting nicely in with the generalized delegimization campaign targeting Israel.  Israel, he pointed out, had set up a field hospital for the treatment of Palestinian civilians injured in the conflict in Gaza two years ago. Just as it more recently treats injured Syrians in the bloody civil war.

Two days ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responding to enquiries over incitements to violence by the PA, informed the European Union that the PA is not the only one that incites to violence: "The Israelis are doing this as well… Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed." He has now retracted his previous charges to state otherwise.
"After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world."
Statement: Office of the PA President
Guess what is going to stick in the minds of perennially aggrieved Palestinians when thinking about the wrongs done them by Israel, based on numerous previous false claims used by the Palestinian Authority, including that Israel was planning to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque, causing violent riots and stabbing deaths by 'motivated' Palestinians of Israelis going about their business on the streets never imagining that the person approaching them is going to kill them.

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Ancient Slanders Revived

"As part of the Israeli attempts to utilize religious sources of authority to achieve political goals, an Israeli human rights organization has exposed a religious ruling issued by Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis, that gave the settlers permission to poison the drinking water and the natural wells in the villages and towns throughout the West Bank. This, with the goal of causing the residents to leave their lands, enabling the settlers to take control of them."
Palestinian TV report
PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (Video Screenshot, PMW)

No Rabbi Shlomo Melamed is known to exist, and there is no Council of Settlement Rabbis, referred to in the accusation. But little things like vibrant imaginations whose purpose is to paint a picture of an ancient libel newly refreshed will not stop anyone willing to believe such atrocious claims from claiming them to be true. True believers feel that Rabbis will stoop to issuing such outrageous instructions and that Jews are sufficiently hate-filled to carry them out.

After all, in the world of Islam mullahs and imams feel free to issue death fatwas at will, whenever they feel someone -- Muslim or non-Muslim -- has breached the sacred trust in Islam in some manner by  defaming the Prophet Mohammad through portraying him in a cartoon or a play or a book, when it is absolutely prohibited, or are guilty of criticizing Islam, alternately risking death as punishment for abrogating the stricture against abandoning Islam.
"What is the international community waiting for to interfere, the death of thousands of Palestinians of thirst? To meet such incident with silence and ignore the war Israel is waging against Palestinians is a cause of shame for the international community."
Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement
Inciting against Israel by 'validating' the dangerously inflammatory 'facts' revealed by some obscure source finding other methods of reaching out to the international community to complain about Israel's dastardly plan to annihilate Palestinian lives, needs no verification to ensure that the accusations have any basis in fact. That they are reported is sufficient proof that there is reason to report them; the words transform the hateful idea into reality.
"By scapegoating the Jewish state for all the world's health problems, just as medieval Europe once accused the Jews of poisoning the wells, the United Nations and its World Health Organization betray the very principles upon which they were founded."
"Israel remains' the beacon of the entire region on respecting the health rights of all people."
Hillel Neuer, director general, UN Watch

Certainly Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA seems to believe that the health rights of all people are safeguarded in Israeli hospitals, since he escorts his ailing wife for treatment inside Israel, trusting that Jewish and Arab physicians and medical staff working there in Israeli hospitals will take the excellent treatment of his wife that Israeli medicine is noted for. And nor has the leader of Hamas hesitated to send his family members to Israel for expert professionalism to deal with their serious health problems.

But it suits the purpose of the Palestinians to incite against Israel, as the brutal occupier whose human rights transgressions know no bounds of decency. Including abducting Arab children to drain their blood to be used in the preparation of Passover matzos. A blood libel charge that was popular in the Middle Ages when Jews were blamed for the most outrageous excesses in human rights atrocities, from using the blood of Christian children to produce matzos, to poisoning community wells and committing ritual murder.

These charges justified the pogroms and mass slaughters imposed upon Jewish communities throughout eastern Europe and beyond where in Ukraine, Poland and Russia in particular, the regular occurrences of popular charges of violence by Jews against Christians led mobs to rampage through villages, extracting their bloody revenge on the Jewish men, women and children who were the focus of their rage.

Often used as scapegoats by authorities to divert attention from their own oppression of the peasants, the charges were used, allowing the oppressed to vent their psychotic rage against helpless communities of Jews cowering in fear and hoping to survive the alcohol-fuelled rampages where Jewish business were looted, homes vandalized, and people slaughtered.

After Palestinian television aired the first report they corrected it, however. No one single rabbi was involved; the entire rabbinical council issued the directive, according to updated information. A charge that the Arab League was only too happy to support, giving them another opportunity condemn Israel, even using the non-existent Rabbi's dread name as proof of what was happening.

Enter the World Health Organization, passing a resolution presented by the Palestinian Authority that claimed Israel violates the rights of Palestinians through interference in West Bank and Golan Heights hospitals. Israel once again distinguished by representing the sole nation criticized at the conference in a vote of 107 to eight with eight abstentions.

Yair Lapid, former Israeli finance minister, wrote to Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director general, to point out that the resolution was a particularly pungent expression of anti-Semitism, fitting nicely in with the generalized delegimization campaign targeting Israel.  Israel, he pointed out, had set up a field hospital for the treatment of Palestinian civilians injured in the conflict in Gaza two years ago. Just as it more recently treats injured Syrians in the bloody civil war.

Two days ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responding to enquiries over incitements to violence by the PA, informed the European Union that the PA is not the only one that incites to violence: "The Israelis are doing this as well… Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed." He has now retracted his previous charges to state otherwise.
"After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world."
Statement: Office of the PA President
Guess what is going to stick in the minds of perennially aggrieved Palestinians when thinking about the wrongs done them by Israel, based on numerous previous false claims used by the Palestinian Authority, including that Israel was planning to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque, causing violent riots and stabbing deaths by 'motivated' Palestinians of Israelis going about their business on the streets never imagining that the person approaching them is going to kill them.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Responding to the Mass Islamist Psychosis

"Genocide has occurred and is ongoing."
"[ISIL] sought to erase the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment."
"ISIS has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities."
"Girls as young as nine were raped, as were pregnant women. Most of those interviewed reported violent daily rapes by their fighter-owners."
Paulo Pinheiro, commission chairman, UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Geneva
Signatories to the Genocide Convention are obliged to "prevent and punish" perpetrators of the crime of genocide. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has launched what can only be considered a genocidal war against ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. Their particular focus on the Yazidis, an ethnic tribal group whose worship of an obscure religion with ancient roots and with some distant relationship to the far more numerous Kurds has led to mass murder, rape and enslavement.
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, on Aug. 11, 2014.
Rodi Said / Reuters -- Displaced Yazidis walking from the plateau below Mount Sinjar to escape ISIL/2014

The plight of the Yazidis has been a wrenching exercise in helplessness. Women and children taken as slaves, sold and bartered, raped and tortured. Those men, youth and the elderly who were unable to escape the onslaught of the Islamic State when they first invaded Sinjar city and surrounding towns, saw those who could, escape up Mount Sinjar only to die from cold, exhaustion, lack of food and water and medical attention until they were finally rescued by Kurdish militias.

Mass graves containing the remains of Yazidis have been discovered, part of the evidence that has resulted in the United Nations declaring ISIL guilty of genocidal intention and succeeding to a barbaric degree in their intent to destroy an entire people. In 2014, Russia and China successfully blocked a UN Security Council resolution meant to enable referring ISIL's crimes to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

The United Nations could theoretically invoke Chapter VII to embark on a mission where a UN-sanctioned coalition would invade Syria and/or Iraq to destroy ISIL, restoring security to the areas they considered their Islamist caliphate. They could try, but with the knowledge that both Russia and China would veto the initiative. The reason for their veto clear enough, since each of those countries visualize that enabling such a solution to challenge ISIL would create a precedent that neither are anxious to open future opportunities toward that might at some time target them.

Still, the reality is that, given to bloody butchery and wholesale atrocities, the more dreadful they are the more likely they are to be carried out by ISIL for shock value in attracting new recruits even while the rest of the world is shocked and traumatized by the inhumanity of methods desecrating the concept of the preciousness of human life. ISIL has proven that direct confrontation by a coalition prepared to commit to their destruction is the only course forward.

But then the matter of the wholesale dysfunction in Iraq and Syria is complicated by the sectarian hatreds unleashed by Syria's civil war and Iraq's sectarian inability to share governance with its major population sectors. And the obvious fact that the Syrian regime uses tactics and techniques just as dreadful and destructive of human rights as do the jihadists, yet the difference is seen as viewing ISIL as a terrorist group, while recognizing the Syria of Bashar al Assad as a legitimate government however deadly tyrannical.

But it is the tyranny of Assad that has driven the dislocation of half the population of Syria, sending millions beyond Syria's borders to become refugees living in squalid camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, hoping to some day return to Syria. Those no longer seeing hope for a return to a destroyed homeland have migrated dangerously with the aid of human smugglers into Europe to inundate the continent with Syrian refugees and opportunistic economic migrants from Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East.

By not making the effort to collectively take the initiative to put a halt to the bloody assaults killing perceived enemies in Iraq and Syria by Islamic State, the Syrian regime, al-Qaeda-linked Nusra and other jihadist groups, Europe is inviting by default more floods of refugees to inundate its shores and its resources. But then, there is that conundrum again, that a concerted effort by a collective of military groups like NATO will always come up against both UN vetoes (China and Russia) and physical opposition (Russia).

Moreover, the countries that have responded so magnanimously in embracing the presence of refugees and haven seekers, have failed to discriminate toward the types of refugees that are really in dire need of aid; Yazidis, fleeing Christians, Muslim gays, Sunni women and children. Instead, accepting the presence of young Muslim men prepared to bring with them customs and traditions inimical to those of the accepting countries. Infiltrated by the cunning casualness of ISIL fighters.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Down But Not Out

"The Syrian Democratic Forces cut off the last road from Manbij to the Turkish border."
"For the jihadists to reach the Turkish border from Raqqa, they now have to take a route that is more dangerous because of regime troops nearby and Russian air strikes." 
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head, Rami Abdel Rahman

"ISIL has managed to drive out regime troops from the administrative borders of Raqqa province after a fierce counter-offensive."
"More than 40 members of the pro-regime forces were killed."
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Two days separated those statements issued from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A lot happened in those two days. The Syrian military, its Russian airpower and Shiite militias exulted that they had Islamic State on the run finally, and were crowding it out of its stronghold, its capital in Raqqa, leaving the 'caliphate' without its primary exclusion zone. But the Islamic State prepared itself by bringing in additional backup and managed a rout of the Syrian military.
ISIL lost about 14 percent of the territory it held in 2015 [Al Jazeera]
And in Iraq, Lt Gen Abdelwahab Al Saadi boasted that his forces had consolidated positions in the south of central Fallujah, one of the last two major urban centres still held by ISIL in Iraq. "Daesh wanted the battle to take place outside the city but we have moved in, and retaken all this area in eight days," he said, standing on rooftop on the edge of the Shuhada neighbourhood. "We’ll be there, in the very centre, in days. Days, not weeks." A shrinkage of time may prove otherwise.

No sooner did the Syrian government crow that it had taken back its oilfield, the situation turned completely around and it was once again divested of that victory, as well. This, despite a well-armed military backed up by the might of Russian warplanes bombing strategically, yet still incapable of dislodging the jihadi menace.

And just as ISIL couldn't care less about the fate of the people in Raqqa, nor too does the Syrian regime hesitate the least bit shrug at their fate; why should it care that more Syrians are sacrificed to its civil war when it already has over a third of a million deaths to its credit?

The Aamaq news agency, linked to Islamic State, posted a video showing the armed group in control of Thawra oilfield, even as warplanes conducted air strikes nearby. Government forces crowed with the exhilaration of victory when it seized the field on Sunday, little imagining it would lose it mere hours afterward.

Even though ISIL has been under pressure in Iraq, Syria and Libya its recovery in Raqqa represents a determination to still take on Syrian troops backed by Russian warplanes.
A volunteer fighter with pro-regime forces sits atop a tank in Raqqa province as part of a two-pronged attack earlier this year
A volunteer fighter with pro-regime forces sits atop a tank in Raqqa province as part of a two-pronged attack earlier this year -- Credit: Alexander Kots/AP

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dual-Purpose Sabre-Rattling

"We believe that NATO buildup on Russia's doorstep, which is reminiscent of Cold War sabre-rattling, is a complete waste of money and resources, diverting them from the real existential threat of international terrorism."
"Given that terrorists make no distinction between Russians and Canadians, as well as reports claiming 151 nationals of Canada are on an ISIS 'kill list', common sense and pragmatism dictate the need to join efforts, as opposed to reincarnation of Cold War containment."
Russian embassy statement, Ottawa
General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as Nato's deputy supreme allied commander in Europe until 2014, warned that an attack on Baltic states Lativa, Estonia and Lithuania was a possibility. Russian tanks are pictured in Moscow
General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as Nato's deputy supreme allied commander in Europe until 2014, warned that an attack on Baltic states Lativa, Estonia and Lithuania was a possibility. Russian tanks are pictured in Moscow

It might be a more convincing argument, that Russia feels uncomfortable and put-upon by the too-close geographical presence in its near-abroad by NATO troops if it were not for several items that in and of themselves point to the fact that Russia's actions have brought about the current situation of NATO recognizing its obligation to protect its member-countries because of threats to the sovereign security of those nations through Kremlin-designed activities.

Spurning international condemnation, Russian President Vladimir Putin saw little amiss in annexing the Crimean Peninsula, effectively looting it from Ukraine to benefit Greater Russia; in so doing, he claimed, righting a historical error and restoring to Russia its heritage property. And no amount of censure, nor the imposition of sanctions convinced Moscow to reverse its claims, let alone to stop supporting and inciting ethnic Russian rebels in east Ukraine.

Russia's earlier action with two provinces in Georgia pretty well set the template. The concern in eastern Europe among former Soviet-era satellites is who might be next; Moldova too representing that precedent. As for reminding the world that the civilized portions of it, among which Russia includes itself, is battling a vicious Islamist killing machine and this is where the focus should be, with Russia allied with Western powers to defeat the Islamic State, that too would seem meaningful if Russian jets weren't strafing and bombing Syrian Sunni rebel groups instead of ISIL.

The civilized country that Russia has allied itself with in the Middle East is the sectarian-conflicted Syria of Bashar al-Assad whose penchant for imprisoning, torturing and killing children distinguishes him, including his slaughter of close to a half-million of his own citizens, as a barbarous criminal felon. Yet this is the civilized leader to whom Mr. Putin cleaves, agreeing to view the Sunni rebels in the civil war as 'terrorists' and targeting them as such.

NATO has formulated a protective presence of some message-powerful volume with the installation of super-battalions of one thousand military personnel each in eastern Europe with the U.S. Britain and Germany each leading one battalion, and NATO allies inviting Canada to take command of the fourth. The Government of Canada has not yet responded to the invitation, but as a NATO member it is difficult to imagine it would do so negatively.

This new force and its extraordinary size is considered essential to ensure that Russia thinks deeply before once again violating the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of any of the eastern European countries whose concern for their sovereign state and future has been intensified by Vladimir Putin's drive toward a semi-restoration of Russia's glory within the period of the USSR dominating eastern European nations.

The tense stand-off between Russia, Europe and NATO represents a fall-out of the impetuosity and imperialistic attitude of Vladimir Putin who acts without regard to the consequences in the obvious attitude that he is entitled to do precisely as he wishes and that any reaction to his behaviour in Russia's near-abroad is Moscow's business, not that of NATO.

NATO thinks otherwise, obviously, hence the largest military exercise in Poland the Baltics since the Cold War taking place recently, irritating Mr. Putin no end. Yet he fails to see the connection between his own impulsive, worrying directions to his military when his submarines, military jets and military personnel take injudicious actions against their Western counterparts in episodes of malicious bullying.

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Chasing a Ghost

"We can't figure out ... whether there was a smaller oxygen content than we needed or a carbon monoxide event or poison in the gas [or] something that came off of a bearing so you're breathing toxic air."
"[The intractable problem in the oxygen system of the Boeing Super Hornets is like] chasing a ghost."
Rear-Admiral Michael Manazir
Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet / Ralph Duenas, Jetwash Images

The problems with the Super Hornet are so grave, so dangerous to the pilots flying them, one might think the new government of Canada under the Liberals would take heed and turn away from their plan to bypass the superior fighter jet produced by Lockheed Martin, to ensure that the country has a reliable and technologically updated machine for its air force.

Simply put, the onboard oxygen system of the Super Hornets doesn't pass the vital test of providing a pilot-safe fighter jet, a situation that the U.S. is struggling with in view of the number of American pilots reporting serious oxygen problems while flying those planes. These are the fighter jets the Liberal government is inclined to commit to, bypassing the CF-35 advanced fighter jet that most other NATO countries have chosen.

The point is that Canada too chose the CF-35 as the superior model whose technology addressed the needs of modern warfare. The sticking point was price, but as more countries came on board ordering their own numbers as needed, prices declined to the point where they are now comparable with the much inferior Super Hornet. But it is because the former Conservative-led government chose the CF-35 that the Liberals balk now at completing the deal.
F-35 Comes in for Landing Aboard USS Eisenhower
Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo courtesy Lockheed Martin photographer Andy Wolfe

This is what is called 'cutting off your nose to spite your face', and it exemplifies the overall attitude of the Justin Trudeau government in its juvenile rejection of anything initiated by the Conservatives. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed the CF-35 "does not work"; choosing instead to bypass a competition for new jets and go with the Super Hornets.

This is the plane whose dysfunction led a U.S. congressional subcommittee to raise the issue of dozens of "physiological episodes", with the occurrence rate of those episodes on the increase. The U.S. Navy's Super Hornets and older F-18 Hornets, similar to Canada's ageing CF-18s, have been afflicted with oxygen loss and depressurization, a dysfunction whose source and solution has eluded investigators.

Loss of oxygen (hypoxia) is a gradual process in pilots; instead of quickly passing out, pilots will feel confusion or vertigo as though they're drunk, before loss of consciousness occurs. This process has raised alarms, that pilots would not recognize symptoms of hypoxia until it's too late to react and take measures to save themselves and the aircraft. No fatality has yet occurred stemming from these "physiological effects" since 2011.

An article published recently in the Navy Times, however, reports on the U.S. Navy, stating that military personnel are concerned with the growing number of incidents. At least 14 deaths in the past twenty years attributed to oxygen loss and decompression sickness is the issue at hand. A Boeing spokesperson confirmed the oxygen problem, that it was a "complex issue" that Boeing is working on with the U.S. Navy.

And this is the plane that the Liberal government in Canada is claiming will fit the bill in replacing Canada's ageing jet fighters.

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