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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Custodians of the Divine

Can a Canadian Muslim be a trifle too imprudent in aspiring to his once-in-a-lifetime obligation to Islam and embarking on his personal hajj? At the tender age of 33, no less. But then, Usama Al-Atar is an imam, accustomed to teaching and leading prayers as would a cleric, and he obviously felt it behooved him to make his visit to Mecca.

As a Canadian he must also feel that tolerance is a decided asset in the pluralist society which is his home.

Perhaps he found it difficult to believe that a nation representing fundamentalist Sunnis of the Wahhabist sect would be so dedicated to hostile reactions when confronted with the presence of Shia Muslims. But then Saudi Arabia, custodian of Islam's holiest shrines, gives consent to Iranians to make their pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Qatar lent their troops to quell the Bahrain insurrection.

Something Usama Al-Atar appeared to be well aware of, since he commented on it critically months ago, denouncing Saudi Arabia: "The atrocities committed today against innocents in several countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among others, are crimes one cannot stand silent about", he said, commenting on the military response to Shia Muslims's protests for equality in Sunni-led countries.

But as a guest in Saudi Arabia, many months later, he must have assumed a certain amount of anonymity would prevail among the millions who annually make their personal pious pilgrimage, in honouring one of the five pillars of Islam. Who would not reason that the Saudi military and police would have more than enough work to do simply in maintaining order and avoiding chaos in the press of the faithful?

The Islamic Shia Association of Edmonton, where Mr. Al-Attar is working on a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta's chemistry department, was more than a little alarmed to learn that one of their own had been arrested in Saudi Arabia. Incautious, perhaps was the decision by Mr. Al-Atar and the handful of other Western-sourced Shia Muslims who had decided to pray outside the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.

Bringing decidedly unfriendly and perhaps incredulous attention to themselves, for Sunni Muslims, particularly Saudi Wahhabists, do not pray in cemeteries. Mr. Al-Atar was singled out by religious police and guards set upon him, accusing him, improbably, of theft. "They forced him to sit under an air conditioning unit, and squashed him until he was blue in the face", described a witness.

He was arrested and jailed. The incident had many witnesses, several hundred Canadian, American and British pilgrims. And a group of pilgrims sat in silent vigil outside the Central Medina jail where Mr. Al-Atar was imprisoned. He was accused of having broken the arm of a policeman, although witnesses claimed that the young imam had remained unresisting during the scuffle that had taken place.

Mr. Al-Atar has presented in his community as a voice for inter-faith dialogue and communal relations of mutual respect. He has condemned the violent extremism that has plagued Islam. "Although [terroristic] acts may be carried out by Muslims, these are not the teachings of Islam", he has said in the past.

Now Mr. Al-Atar has witnessed and experienced at first hand the effects of Islamism. Through his unfortunate interaction with representatives of the custodians of venomous hostility toward other Islamic sects; those whom Wahhabi Saudi Muslims consider apostates, insults to Islam. He must also be aware that Shia Muslims, particularly those Ayatollahs in Iran reciprocate the venom of the Saudis.

Now that he has been freed from custody and will be returning to Canada, he can raise his voice higher and become a more prominent advocate for Islam to unequivocally denounce those within its inner bosom who have worked so hard to impress 'Islamophobia' upon the world outside Islam.

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Mercenary Ethics

If nothing else, one supposes that a man who hires himself out as a bodyguard, must be imbued with a great deal of self confidence in his ability to physically protect someone who has the wherewithal to pay for his costly services. This is one of those enterprises where those who are attracted to danger and who enjoy the thought of meeting it head on, can excel if they can prove they have nerves of steel and split-second reactive abilities.

It's splitting hairs, of course, to consider a bodyguard to represent one kind of hired gun, apart from mercenaries who represent another type altogether. Each category represents those who stand ready to be recognized as soldiers-of-fortune. Each is accustomed to carrying arms and to using them when the need arises.

The distinction between the two is one of ego, pure and simple. The bodyguard insists he isn't there to fight, but he will do that if he must.

So here's Gary Peters, landed immigrant and president of Can/Aus Security & Investigations International Inc., revealing his presence in Cambridge, Ontario, as someone who has travelled widely and extensively and particularly to North Africa where he has been retained by one of the late Moammar Gadhafi's sons to stand guard.

The recent events in Libya have required him to be on the scene and reliable in spiriting Saadi Gadhafi, his employer, out of harm's way.

During which enterprise, Mr. Peters himself sustained wounds in a confrontation not of his choosing with members of the opposition to the Gadhafi regime. He defended Saadi Gadhafi's right to continue living and aided him immeasurably in defying an early death. He did not fight, for this is, he explains patiently, what a mercenary does.


(of a person or their behavior) Primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics.

A professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

adjective. venal
noun. hireling - soldier of fortune

And, testifies Mr. Peters, Mr. Gadhafi is a very nice man, a gentleman, non-violent. And moneyed. In possession of great wealth, along with his surviving brothers. So wait, world, for what is certain to erupt on the scene before too very long. Not to forget that Libya is a country prickling with tribal antipathies and clannish loyalties.

And everyone needs a profession, and Mr. Peters has found his. It takes him to exotic places. It's unpredictable. It's exciting, and can be high-powered, adventurous. And, it would seem to pay well. Confident and enterprising and loyal. All excellent attributes for many types of professions. And it's a very old profession, at that.

Not without controversy, but what's wrong with a little controversy to spice life up a little now and again?

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At Your Peril

Syria, Latakia: A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency on October 27, 2011, shows Syrians waving the national flag as they rally during a mass demonstration in support of President Bashar al-Assad, in the city of Latakia of north of Damascus. (AFP Photo / Ho-Sana)

Syria, Latakia: A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency on October 27, 2011, shows Syrians waving the national flag as they rally during a mass demonstration in support of President Bashar al-Assad, in the city of Latakia of north of Damascus. (AFP Photo / Ho-Sana)

The West is on notice. Syria will brook no interference. The regime's Syria, that is, the Syria of Bashar al-Assad and his loyalists. The countless Syrians of the Sunni persuasion, not so much. They have invited 'interference'. On the other hand, the Christian Syrians and the Alawites, would prefer the continued longevity of the Alawite-controlled government under President al-Assad.

The Christians, doubtless, fear their fate should the Sunni majority become the government of Syria. For, as their president warns, it it the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorists, Western interference conspiring against the future of Syria that comprises a danger to be avoided at all costs. And if those costs include ongoing counter-measures, as in death-deliverance to protest organizers, so be it.

The President of Syria warns he is capable of producing an "earthquake" backlash within the Middle East that will embroil all the countries there, and draw into the dread occurrence Western powers. The entire region would resemble what would be left in the wake of an exploding volcano; molten lava, burning embers, a smoking wasteland.

"Syria", he warns, "is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake. Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans? Any problems in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region." Admirable oratorical imagination.

Clearly, food for sober thought, while the West ingests the message and trembles in fearful trepidation.

On the other hand, in his description of the uprising as a "struggle between Islamism and pan-Arabism" secularism, who can argue with him? That is the message of the Middle East. There are two clear choices: Secular dictatorships in an Islamic environment, or Theocratic tyrannies under strict Sharia law.

There are anomalies of course, and somehow it appears to have bypassed President al-Assad's notice that his mentor-state Iran while admittedly not an Arab country is an Islamist theocratic tyranny.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Raking Influential Friends

Politicians do strange things. Not so strange, perhaps. The imperative is to cover their back-ends. And to do that sometimes they are forced to do what they really don't want to, but have little choice otherwise. Establish an oversight commission, for example, to ensure that government agencies don't succumb to corruption.

Bring in another agent to act alongside that commission,to delve deep into the problem and produce a paper that might resolve the issue.

Quebec is a province that appears to be particularly given to corruption opportunities. And a few investigative reporters have been burning the midnight oil for years revealing the various ways that government officials can be suborned by enterprising criminal groups who infiltrate the system.

That can be very embarrassing. Particularly in election years, when the public gets sick and tired of hearing about all the things that can go wrong, and do.

Particularly related to their heavy tax burden, made so partially because of increased costs laid on when the crime groups insist on getting their undue share of public spending for infrastructure, both new and remedial. All the more so when it is revealed that shoddy workmanship and inadequate materials have been used rendering the projects useless and in need of costly repair.

So the Charest government created a permanent anti-corruption unit and appointed a chairman, Robert Lafreniere, a past member of the Surete du quebec, and deputy minister of the province's public security department. The resulting anti-corruption unit, UPAC, created in February with a staff of 200 included police officers from the provincial, federal and municipal levels.

But then Jacques Duchesneau, formerly police chief of Montreal was discharged with the task of investigating corruption and collusion between organized crime and politicians they were successful in paying off. Mr.Duchesneau, in his formal capacity as investigator was critical of UPAC, believing that it was wrong to place a former police officer at the head of UPAC, stating so openly.

Mr. Duchesneau is now out of a job. The commissioner of UPAC, none other than Robert Lafreniere, whom Mr.Duchesneau had singled out, informed him that it would be "impossible" for him to continue in his appointed position.

And little wonder, the report leaked to the media where Mr. Duchesneau concluded that corruption was rife within Quebec's construction industry was rather definitive. "We uncovered a universe that was clandestine and well-rooted, of a surprising scope, harmful to society in terms of security and the economy, as for justice and democracy", wrote Mr. Duchesneau.

"People who were exasperated, even desperate, who needed support", revealed to Mr. Duchesneau the extent of the corruption in the industry, leading him to his conclusions, after interviewing 500 of them. Leading Premier Jean Charest to finally agree to public and political pressure to institute a public enquiry.

Perhaps another enquiry should get underway to determine how it was that a crew of 200 tasked to act as an anti-corruption unit was unable to come to grips with the situation, and a single individual instead was able to reach the required conclusion.

And for his pains was summarily dismissed.

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While You're Away...

Yes, it's patently true; all too often the law is an ass. But it's the law. So what do you do? Obey or be hauled to jail and before a court of law. Where even the lawyers and the judges sitting in judgement must be embarrassed by the turn things can take that are clearly and simply unsupportably ridiculous.

Society is ever evolving. So too should the law, in some instances, apart from the inflexibility in law of some social crimes for which penalties must be kept intact. And even then, where there are extenuating or explicable circumstances which may nullify the penalties to some degree, laws should be re-visited and amended if need be.

Presumably a law that has been on the books without alteration for over a century could do with some close scrutiny. And in Canada, the law defining self-defence has been part of the Criminal Code since 1892. Time for a re-definition, obviously. Particularly in light of recent events where individuals have defended themselves from violent home invasions.

In one such event, in Ontario, a father and son had overpowered a would-be home-invader determined to rob them, but also brandishing a knife at them. Their counter-attack led to the death of the intruder. They were in direct danger of being arrested for using undue force. Saner heads prevailed, in the event eventually and no charges were laid, taking due note of the circumstances.

The event in Toronto where a greengrocer in Chinatown and several of his employees secured the presence of a well-known thief who had just lifted some plants from the store premises without paying, and then returned to repeat the offence, saw the storekeeper charged with illegally confining someone (while awaiting the eventual arrival of police) who just happened to be a thief who plagued the community.

After the storekeeper was found not guilty of the charges brought against him, a public outcry arose that laws for self-defence were badly in need of revision. The federal government promised to look at that as an imperative, but it is one of those promises that has yet to be fulfilled, having been interrupted by the dissolution of Parliament and the election that followed in the spring.

For sheer stupid inanity the case of Joe and Marilyn Singleton who had returned to their rural home after a night out to discover thieves had entered in their absence, represents a case in point. Extremely pointed. The house they had left unlit was now blazing with light, and its interior had been trashed, with furniture awry, dishes smashed, pictures torn off the wall, and their possessions ransacked.

Mr. Singleton had picked up a wood-chopping axe and intercepted one of the crooks trying to start his car parked in the driveway. "I told him to sit there, the police are coming, we'll sort it out. That's when he put his car in reverse and smashed into our car. Then he put the car into drive and it was then I thought, my God he's going to smash into the garage door to get away and my wife was right on the other side."

So Mr. Singleton reached into the driver's side window and hit the man in the face with the blunt end of the hatchet. When the RCMP finally arrived two more thieves were caught. They'd gone out to get a pickup truck. Their car was perceived as being too small to haul away all the loot they had stolen from the Singletons' home.

The injured man, all of 19, was a repeat offender, out on bail, after having threatened another homeowner somewhere, with a crowbar during yet another burglary attempt. Mr. Singleton was charged with assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. Both could net him a ten-year prison term.

Crown prosecutors in reading and interpreting the law claimed he had provoked the thief by confronting him instead of allowing him to drive off.

Mr. Singleton, in defending himself, ended up paying $30,000, representing his retirement savings. "We don't have any second thoughts now", he said in a recent interview. "We would just drive away or let them steal what they need to steal", he said.

And now they have a dog and a security system. They leave their house lights on when they're away,

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The Innocent Avengers

As proud exhibitionists of ridiculous stupidity violent Islamists have few peers. Other than perhaps with the example of Western gays, lesbians and transsexuals some of whom at propitious moments like gay pride parades have directed their ire toward slandering Israel as an apartheid state, campaigning to delegitimize the only country in the Middle East where their alter-gender roles would keep them safe from an Islamic death sentence.

Jihadists are also fully invested in their own approved methods of destruction, firing off missiles across the Gaza border into Israel. It satisfies the savage breast far more than any satisfaction that might conceivably be gained bargaining for peace. And improbably, in a rational world, but quite explicable in a virtual tribal society claiming outrage that the adversary has responded in kind.

An air strike that sent a rocket deep enough to set off sirens on the outskirts of Tel Aviv tells a story of Islamic Jihad's love tap.
Islamic Jihad militants

Islamic Jihad militants marching at a funeral for one of their men killed by the IAF, October 30, 2011.

Photo by: Reuters

That the IDF had the unmitigated gall to respond with strikes on Islamic Jihad's Rafah training camp, killing a commander and four of his trainees busily constructing bombs and rockets for further fusillades into Israel, is simply intolerable.
"There is no chance of speaking about a truce now, following such a big crime against leaders of the group", declared an Islamic Jihad spokesman, spitting fury.
"Now we are talking about the suitable response to this crime", said Abu Ahmed, Islamic Jihad representative. Retribution against this horrible atrocity will be theirs. That the strike which successfully took out of commission four busy bomb-makers and their commander was in itself a response, and a most suitable one, to the provocation of the jihadists' rockets sent into Israel is lost in the aggrieved mindset of these tribal knuckle-dragging cretins.

Another twenty Palestinian rockets and mortar bombs made their way out of Gaza onto various sites in Israel. With the effect that three civilians were wounded, one killed. What celebration ensued! Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade all fell over one another, hysterically claiming that this represented their victory, as blessed warriors of Islam.

Islamic Jihad going so far as to release images of what it claimed to be its men firing a truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher. Iran and Syria may be gloating with fulfilled purpose, the generous funders and supporters and cheerers-on of the glorious 'resistance' against the accursed enemy.

Perhaps not all the heavy-duty weaponry that Syria spirited out of the country at the initiation of the protests against the al-Assad regime went to Hezbollah.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sue For Recompense

One physician, operating her own clinic laboratory, able to wreak such havoc upon a community. Her lax oversight of those whom she employed has been responsible for thousands of former patients who had undergone a number of routine medical investigative procedures to have been hugely inconvenienced. Let alone that these trusting people were caused great concern.

People ordinarily assume that when they're attending a medical clinic that it is routine that all medical investigative tools and surgical instruments undergo sterilization to ensure that no pathogens are carried forward from one patient to another. The transmission of germs, bacteria and potentially lethal diseases is readily enough accomplished without neutralizing their capacities to infect.

It is understandably awkward for people to question health professionals with respect to the level of expected hygiene and safety standards practised by them. No one wants to offend someone who is a respected medical professional, particularly for fear of creating a situation where that individual may be less than professional in subsequent treatment of their condition.

Even health professionals themselves have confessed to feeling awkward and uncomfortable in questioning members of their own profession when they themselves must undergo treatment. Yet the public is encouraged to emphatically do so on their own behalf. And to possibly raise the ire of someone who doesn't appreciate having his/her medical-health credentials and integrity questioned.

In a routine investigation of the Carling Avenue endoscopy clinic operated by Dr. Christiane Farazil, it was found that technicians had inadequately and routinely failed to observe proper cleansing techniques when using medical equipment. Thus, potentially placing patients at risk of exposure to Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and/or HIV; all infectious, reportable, high-risk diseases.

Ottawa Public Health's medical officer of health, Dr. Isra Levy, was placed in the position of having to investigate the public health implications of the situation, and compelled by his mandate to mail letters to patients, and to staff a dedicated information line to cope with the crisis. It was repeatedly stated, reassuringly, that the potential for infection was extremely low.

That assurance did little to reassure people who were horror-struck by the news that a fairly routine health procedure they had undergone up to a decade earlier, might have placed them in danger of becoming HIV-positive. And while the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons is investigating Dr. Farazil, she may legally continue practising.

This careless practitioner, solely responsible for the high state of anxiety that so many people in Ottawa were exposed to, through the laxity of hygiene procedures to ensure no transmission of grim diseases could occur, still has privileges at Montfort Hospital. Her clinic has been closed, but she may continue working at an approved facility with qualified staff.

Her gross mismanagement of her clinic has cost the public $750,000. A sum difficult to credit. But attributed to the need to investigate the laboratory clinic, send out mailed notifications, and staff a dedicated information line. How these seemingly simple yet emergency procedures could end up costing the public almost a million dollars is mystifying, and infuriating.

If Dr. Farazil has practise insurance, as indeed she surely must have, she should be sued through her insurance, for precisely that amount.

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Organized Crime, Organized Labour

Organized crime and organized labour in Quebec appear to have formed a solid bond of brotherhood in sympathy with one another's reasons for existence. Thuggery, extortion, threats and violence are traits both appear to share. The ability to coerce politicians by paying them off or by threatening them to have them see the light of reasonable accommodation is another trait they appear to share.

One makes no bones about the fact that they're an illicit organization whose value to society is zero, but whose reflection of that bare, basic human propensity to crime and violence is evident to all; the other presents itself as a measure for the common good, a goad to the communal conscience that labour must be gainfully recompensed, and if agreement is not automatic there are ways and means to extract assent.

The Italian mafia in its determined, enterprising way has made broad inroads into the fabric of nations' industry and politics, having initially conquered Italy. And here in Canada its tentacles have proved to be capable of infiltrating business and trade and industries and politics through skillful enterprise and dogged purposefulness, harnessing greed to ingenuity.

That aside, unions which portray themselves as agglomerations of workers headed by workplace visionaries committed to harnessing labour to equity and fairness, while looking outward at the world at large and throwing their uncompromising weight of principles for the common good in support of the 'underdog', also perform acts of corrupted bias, and violent vengeance.

Organized crime sells their racketeering 'protection'; organized labour sells its racketeering 'protection'. Both are adept at intimidation and forceful aggression to obtain their ends. And on many occasions, in numberless ways, they find common cause to work together, suborning the law and bringing on board politicians who prefer no inconvenient details to come their way.

In Quebec these unions are exemplified by what is playing out and reported by hearings into the newly scheduled bill that would remove powers from the construction unions and replace them in the hands of employers. Even smaller rival unions of the large and powerful ones report that the lives of some of their members are endangered by the rough antics of their counterparts.

In ordering a workplace shutdown which was not immediately agreed to, steps were taken to summarily cut the air supply to divers placing them in immediate danger of death. But getting their point across - which was to directly and instantly obey orders. Labour Minister Lise Theriault, herself threatened with a case of leg-breaking if she refused to withdraw Bill 33, thought poorly of that little distraction.

The round of illegal strikes and work stoppages called by the Quebec Federation of Labour to demonstrate to the Quebec government that it is they, not the legislature, that controls labour in the province has created chaos in the industry. The president of the Syndicat quebecois de la construction du Quebec informed the Quebec Construction Commission of violence being visited upon members unwilling to take part in the illegal strikes.

The Commission has received 145 complaints from construction firms, contractors, workers, project managers, detailing intimidation on 200 work sites as a result of illegal union activities. Four members of the legislature had experienced their riding offices vandalized. Smaller unions in the province are supportive of the government's initiative to pass Bill 33 which would effectively limit construction unions' assigning of workers to sites and jobs.

"Changes are necessary. Entrepreneurs are victims of intimidation on work sites", according to Gisele Bourque, general manager of an association representing 2,000 entrepreneurs in highway and civil engineering.

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Them's The Breaks

"They're right to be talking about growth, because unless they get the economy going and arrest this slide into a slump, there's no chance of getting public finances across the union under control. It's not so far showing up in terms of a change in strategy." Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform
What's ailing the European Union? Too much togetherness, perhaps. The mucilage of cohesion is proving to be a trifle awkward to stick to when not everyone is pulling in the same direction. The result is a bit of economic chaos, never helpful, but particularly not at a time of disintegrating financial viability, production, trade, and employment.

The EU's PIGS have been too generous at the trough, not sufficiently resourceful, nor abstemious, living far too high on the hog; imprudent! It's like a group of collegial acquaintances wanting to keep in touch with one another and arranging for regular lunches where everyone orders whatever they like, the tab is pooled and everyone pays an equal share.

After awhile the light eaters begin to look askance at the appetites of the gourmands, and wonder why they have to pay for a luxury meal when they themselves eat a bare minimum? Germany is one of those capable of restraining its appetite, and France and England, comparatively speaking. Yet it is their economies that must be strained to rescue Greece.

And possibly Italy and Spain. "What you see across Europe is the recognition that the lack of growth is a problem. I'd like to tell you that therefore they'd do something about it, but I'm afraid I can't", is the dim view given to the situation by a former British finance minister, Alistair Darling.

So the International Monetary Fund, heavily involved in Europe's bailouts of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, is getting nervous about the lack of stimulation. Without stimulation how can growth result? Stimulation as in spending, producing, growing the economy. But that's the issue; with high unemployment and the insecurity it brings how can people spend, and if they don't spend, there's no production and zero growth.

Factory orders are stagnant, people aren't buying, they're worried, and they're upset and they're mad as hell and won't take it any more. Or wouldn't, if they could. Europe ideally could use something in the neighbourhood of $1.4-trillion. Can't look to the United States to help them out, since the U.S. could use an additional trillion itself.

China, on the other hand, is being cited as a possible source and accordingly wooed. China is interested in selling its products, in increasing its manufacturing potential, in acquiring raw materials and energy sources.

And here's the combined trading strength of the EU mewling for financial breaks.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Organ Harvesting

There has always been some doubt and no little debate about when life ends. Is it when the heart stops beating? Is it when the brain stops working? Is it when, after a length of time there is no breath, no heartbeat, nothing. A dead body quickly begins to become corrupted. If organs are to be harvested it is best to do so as soon as possible after death has been confirmed.

Confirmation is reached by the consensus of the attending physicians upon the heart stopping, the brain going dead. And then measures are undertaken to remove the organ or organs that some poor soul whose own organs have failed is awaiting for transplantation to allow him or her a few more years upon this mortal coil.

Some doctors are expressing doubt about the organ harvesting process. That in the process when certain procedures are undertaken, it is possible that those procedures may impel the heart to beat again, or the brain to once again begin functioning. Not at a level where life can be sustained, but momentarily, perhaps.

And in that moment when a dim consciousness can be hazarded to occur, the brain is capable of sending signals to the nerves which send pain messages to the brain as the body is being relieved of specific organs. Would the use of anaesthetics in the removal process be useful, even if those anaesthetics are being used on a presumably dead body?

The latest protocol within the medical community is that organs are removed after the heart has stopped - in Canada that would be five minutes post-stop-of-heart-beat. And the patient is not necessarily brain dead. The apprehension is that when cardiac death is declared, some brain activity may still be present.

And that might translate to the transmission of pain being felt by a comatose body during the organ harvesting. Catheters that pump blood through transplant organs before removal could also initiate blood circulation in the brain, triggering some limited activity in the brain. Doctors are alarmed by these scenarios being bandied about.

Because, obviously, if people become aware of these unpleasant details, they might think twice, and twice yet again, before pledging to become an organ donor. As much as we do know about medical science and the human body, we know less than we think we do. And certainly far less about the human brain.

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Friends, Neighbours Lend Me Your Arms

Turkey has dropped Syria from its list of favoured countries. Iran is still up there, however, and perhaps Hezbollah and Hamas remain non-state favourites. But Syria, no. For one thing, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan is one of those statesmen who insists on being recognized as a statesman. If he goes out of his way to visit and to remonstrate and to caution and to advise and his words of cautionary wisdom are ignored, he becomes rather annoyed.

Irascible might describe his frame of mind, and his is a mind that is in lock-step with his vision of Islam and justice. The ideology that is also representative of Islam might colour his perceptions to a good degree but he seems capable of seeing beyond the Muslim to the inner man on occasion. And Bashar al-Assad isn't exactly screening his inner man. It's visible in the ordered assaults of his military against peaceful protests.

The Arab League may have decided to come calling, but Damascus doesn't appear willing to listen to them, either. And let's face it, the Sunni-Shia divide is the size of the Grand Canyon. And Arab countries in the Middle East will not have forgotten too readily, Syria's decision to side with Iran. Syria's Sunni majority is reflected in the greater Sunni majority in most Arab countries.

Turkey is preparing to impose sanctions on President al-Assad's regime, a Shiite, Alawite offshoot. And Turkey is also hosting an armed opposition group, even to permitting them to launch cross-border attacks. The Syrian National Council, the new opposition group is a welcome guest in Turkey, and the Free Syrian Army, comprised of Sunni military defectors mounting their opposition to the regime is guarded by Turkish troops.

Of course, Turkey's decision via Prime Minister Erdogan, to dispose of its formerly warm relations with Syria might seem somewhat awkward, given Turkey's still-warm relations with Iran, Syria's mentor-state. But that relationship appears to remain intact, with Turkey and Iran working in tandem to destroy the notoriously audacious and bothersome PKK, if they can.

Turkey's relations with Middle East countries has undergone quite a turn-about under Prime Minister Erdogan. And the prime minister has much on his plate; sending troops into Iraq after the Kurdish rebels, attempting to stem the humanitarian disaster of Turkish Kurds in the aftermath of the earthquake, accepting international assistance, even of Israel, though denying that strained relations will be eased, and cutting Syria loose of friendship.

The Free Syrian Army's Colonel Riad al-As'aad is grateful to Turkey: "I knew there was greater potential to lead operations in a place in which I was free". And Col. As'aad asks of the international community its assistance as well. "We ask the international community to provide us with weapons so that we, as an army, the Free Syrian Army, can protect the people of Syria."

This oblique request for NATO involvement, a la Libya is not likely to result in a similar response by the West. But Turkey, as a NATO member with one of the largest standing armies, and with its own huge arsenal of weapons could surely spare some shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles and other weapons, and allow its military to support the rebels?

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An Aggravating Need

In the broad generalization of the lunatics running the insane asylum, this one fits quite neatly. A convicted murderer, who had shot and killed a policeman at a shopping centre, subsequently serving time for his having taken another human life, has complained that conditions within incarceration are unfair to him, contravening his constitutional rights and impacting on his health.

Peter Collins, serving a life sentence at Bath Institution near Kingston, for the murder of Nepean police Constable David Utman at Bayshore Shopping Centre in 1983, is rather upset that he is expected, like all other criminal incarcerees in federal prisons, to stand up in his cell during the daily inmate head count. A routine event to ensure that all is at it should be.

But Peter Collins requires sympathy as he insists he is suffering from chronic back pain. His chronic pain was aggravated by the need to stand when his name was called at roll call. Motorcycle and automobile accidents had evidently caused him grave back injuries. Which obviously did not hamper his criminal career.

Peter Collins was also suffering anxiety attacks over the possibility he might be charged with an additional offence for failing to comply with prison rules. This too was anguishing to the poor soul. Which led the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to award close to $10,000 to this poor man; $7,000 for "pain and suffering", and $2,500 as "special compensation".

Saner heads prevailed when the tribunal's decision was set aside when at the request by the federal government for a judicial review, Federal Court Judge David Near declared he could discover no evidence to suggest that the act of standing represented a primary source of Peter Collins' back pain.

Nor did the discerning judge agree with the tribunal that the actions of corrections staff represented wilful or reckless discrimination. He did award the long-suffering Peter Collins $500, reduced from $9,500.

Regretfully, that's a waste of $500.

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For Disgraceful Conduct

Well, that's pretty pathetic. Can't be certain whether it is that people never cease to amaze themselves by the truly witless things they get up to, or whether it is that people are so subsumed by themselves that they never fail to amaze the public which occasionally gets to hear or read about these really profoundly absurd and infantile things that people commit to.

One might imagine that a man with 30 years' experience as an RCMP officer, with an excellent record as a law and order, security professional would have better things to think about than exposing himself lewdly in a video, and then sending it on to someone with whom he had been having an long-distance affair.

In his defence, those who stood in judgement of him as professionals themselves hastened to note that the man was undergoing some level of emotional strain as his marriage was collapsing. That might be acceptable by some who have super-forgiving natures, as an explanation of how and why someone might become so emotionally berserk as to commit such juvenile pranks.
"In this video, S/Sgt. Matthews, while partially dressed in his RCMP uniform, is seen performing a striptease, exposing his genitals and performing sexual acts. This was done [in his office] and outside of normal working hours. S/Sgt. Matthews admits that he used RCMP IT equipment to record sexually explicit materials and that he engaged in sexual activity at his workplace."
At a disciplinary hearing held in August, it was revealed that Staff Sergeant Ronald Matthews of the RCMP had used a force-issued computer to download, view and store adult pornographic material. He admitted to disgraceful conduct, under an internal charge that falls under the RCMP Act. He also used his RCMP-issued BlackBerry to send sexually explicit messages to his then-girlfriend.

And, he sent to his then-girlfriend the strip-tease video that he had produced for her titillation and pleasure, adding to his own pleasure and titillation. Squalid, demeaning, a miserable act of stupidity. For which behaviour he has expressed remorse, claiming himself to have been embarrassed. For which activity he was disciplined with the most severe penalty to be meted out, short of dismissal.

"The member sincerely apologized and regretted his actions. He indicated the embarrassment he has caused the force and deeply feels the shame he has brought upon himself", reads the internal affairs file on this case. And, in view of Staff Sgt. Matthews' up-to-then exemplary record of service, and as one respected by his peers and supervisors, he was found "fit for duty", and fined ten days of pay.

For disgraceful conduct.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sparing Tender Sensibilities

Rona Mohammed Amir, the first wife of the Afghan-Canadian on trial for the 'honour killings' of his three teen-age daughters and Ms. Amir, remained with her husband Mohammad Shafia, despite the torment she suffered at the hands of his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya. One might logically ask why any woman would allow herself to be abused as she was, but then there is the issue of the issue.

She had none, she was said to be barren, hence her husband's choice of a younger, fertile woman for a second wife. She became the beloved, trusted and caring "Auntie" to the children born of the union between her husband and his second wife. Particularly for the girls, it would appear. It is entirely possible that her love for those girls and perhaps even the other children kept her there.

She feared for their safety and for hers as well. In writing to her relatives back in Afghanistan she revealed to them her innermost thoughts about her dilemma and her fears, and they are now more than willing to testify in court in the memory of their lost relative.

The honour code of a country mired deep in fundamentalist Islam, a religion which has not advanced since the 7th Century when it was encoded for a tribal Bedouin society, one which was entirely tribal focused, and misogynistic, viewing women as valuable livestock, remains intact in many Muslim countries. An integral part of the culture, consigning girls and women to misery.

The girls of the Shafia family, sisters Zainab, Sahar and Getti found the social environment in Canada far more to their liking than that which was left behind in Afghanistan. They revelled in the freedom and the social atmosphere of casual acquaintance and normal teen-age pursuits. Which enraged their tyrannical father and concerned their mother, totally in concert with her husband.

It beggars the mind, but one might be able to accept nonetheless that a son would emulate his father, respect his values reflective of the culture left behind, and identify with the concept of "honour" requiring the death of siblings to be restored. Traditionally in such cultures it is the father, the son/brother, uncles involved in meting out tribal justice condoned by Sharia law.

But the mother of those girls? The woman who gave birth to the daughters, who watched them as they matured, who knew their personalities and should have treasured them for what they represented to her, her very beloved daughters for whom she should have had endless compassion?

She was complicit, along with her husband and her son, in the deaths of her three daughters and the sole family member who understood them, who also represented her rival in matters of the marriage bed. Had she not assented, she would certainly have been held to scorn by her husband and perhaps even her son. She might have suffered a grievous loss of respect by him.

But she would have retained her humanity. This mother of many children agreed to the plan to dispatch her three daughters, beautiful young girls in the first blush of life, aspiring to be like any other Canadian youth, in love with the opportunities that awaited them in the fulfillment of their destinies. Even they might not have been able to imagine what truly lay in wait for them.

The mother asked to be excused from the court during the showing of video film footage taken by the investigating police diver, of the newly-purchased family vehicle, a funereal-black Nissan, that held the inert, drowned bodies of her three daughters. Oh yes, and that of her despised sister-wife.

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Legion Monopoly

Doesn't seem like a very nice observation, but it does appear that the Royal Canadian Legion is a grumpy bully. A symbol of caring remembrance that has world-wide recognition and which is respected and used internationally as a memento of the sacrifices that military men and women have made in the pursuit of democratic freedoms and liberty from despots and tyrants should be recognized as one to be freely shared by all who respect and value it.

Instead, the Royal Canadian Legion, that cranky old organization that insists on respect it withholds from others, is threatening once again to mount a legal suit against a group that has dared to use a tiny vestige of a poppy within a much more complex memorial used by the Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders, an Ottawa-based group of military veterans who have formed a motorcycle club among themselves.

Their logo, which has made an incidental use of the iconic poppy, appears on the back of leather vests worn by club members. The logo features the club's name and a large maple leaf. And ailhouetted against that leaf is the form of a soldier kneeling, holding a rifle balancing a helmet on the barrel. And upon that helmet is a poppy.

Horrors! Unauthorized use of the symbolic poppy and simply not to be countenanced. What's more, if it is not summarily removed, the club can be assured that the full force of copyright law will be brought to bear against them in a court of law. The Legion's appointed law firm is poised to act, having forwarded a warning to cease and desist, to the club.

The leader of the Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders, a former captain in the armed forces, is rather up in arms over the matter, and refuses to allow himself and the club to be bullied. "For me to be told that I can't wear a symbol that is known internationally ... is a slap in the face, it's an insult. I think it's heavy-handed by the Legion", said Michael Blow.

"I have no problem with the Legion selling the poppy or retaining the rights to sell the poppy. But they cannot tell veterans and others that they can't wear it." Ah, but the Legion feels otherwise, and feels vindicated in their perception, since under copyright law they may lawfully issue such cease-and-desist edicts.

They don't seem to care that they appear rather cranky and ill-tempered in this issue. They're in the business of revenue-collection as the acknowledged, lawful copyright owner.
"When they (people) become aware it is a trademark, we settle collegially ... in almost 98% of cases. There are some times when people don't agree and then the next step we have our lawyers send the copyright legislation and everything and advise them that here's the copyright provisions and policy and we go from there."
The Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders don't feel very collegial, given the circumstances of being brought up short, and ordered to remove that tiny, minuscule portion of their logo, meaningful to them and to all veterans, let alone the public at large. A use that is logical, emotionally satisfying to the group but which use the Legion seeks forcefully to deny them.

It puts a very ugly spin on the issue entirely. One feels somewhat less inclined to feel well disposed toward the Legion when it presents itself in such an uncompromising light. And Michael Blow, the former military man and current leader of the CVFR does garner sympathy when he declares: "I'm not going to apply for any use of the poppy. It's my right to wear it, as far as I'm concerned."

If anything, one might reasonably feel that as a veteran he has indeed earned that right.

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Weary, Burka-clad Eyes, and Wary Eyes

And here Saudi women had begun celebrating their gradual, albeit incrementally brighter future. They would be able to vote in municipal elections...in due time. They might gain the right to drive themselves to and from destinations they wished to reach on their own as independent, intelligent human beings - in good time. Their ruler, as he ages, is becoming somewhat more enlightened, they rejoice.

Saudi Arabia was rocked only moderately by the kind of protests that have assailed Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, Yemen. The oil-wealthy kingdom had only to disburse a few billion dollars as an emollient to salve the discrete and rather discreet protests for a more relaxed rule, though they are loyal to King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, 87, and his theocratic rule under Wahaabi-branded Sharia law.

Ah, dear...those hopeful celebrations were rather precipitate. The unfortunate but predictable - given the state of his health - death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, a year younger than the King, removes him as the likeliest successor to the Saudi throne. Now the Allegiance Council must face the urgency of selecting a new Crown Prince who will be responsible for the country's future trajectory.

And, it would appear that Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, seems the likeliest candidate. A WikiLeaks release describes Prince Nayef as "a hardline conservative who at best is lukewarm to King Abdullah's reform initiatives", according to the U.S. diplomatic cable from which that apprehension is taken.

"Nayef is much more conservative than either Abdullah or Sultan, and much more suspicious of America - especially after the Arab Spring. He holds grudges forever", warned a former Middle East expert for the Central Intelligence Agency. "But Nayef also hates Iranians and all Shiites, and his son and deputy minister has become a ruthless foe of al-Qaeda."

Well, a little bit of a glimmer of 'good news' for the United States which has been tenderly negotiating with Islamist Saudi Arabia and its oil accessibility since forever, angling to maintain its relationship intact despite 9/11, and despite the growing threat from Iran. And a real downer for Saudi women who aspire to be respected as intelligent and independent human beings.

For Prince Nayef has been notable for opposing moves by King Abdullah to grant women the vote in municipal elections, come 2015. And his support for fundamentalist clerics whose opposition to female drivers and insistence on male sponsorship of women enabling them to travel or open bank accounts only by male consent appears unshakable.

Can't please everyone, in other words, but according to an expert on such matters with the Brookings Institution: "In short, we can work with him like we have with Sultan - with a wary eye."

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Intelligence Stupidity

Ottawa engineer Abdullah Almalki, identified by CSIS and the RCMP as a possible member of al-Qaeda experienced, as a result of that suspicion, a truly dreadful experience. His wounded innocence displayed in photographs published in the newspapers remind one of the photographs of Maher Arar on his return from his prison-torture sojourn in Syria. Mr. Almalki also suffered gruesome torture at the hands of his Syrian jailers.

And, it would appear, based on evidence being drawn from various sources, that the RCMP investigators, despite coming to the conclusion that there was no verifiable evidence to link Mr. Almalki with al-Qaeda, nor any plots to do harm to Canada as an agent with an Islamist agenda, that a wrong was done this Syrian-born Canadian family man. He was arrested in Syria in 2002 and spend 22 unfortunate months incarcerated there.

This is an experience that he will most certainly never forget. Nor will he forgive. Mr. Almalki has revealed through his lawyer, intelligence respecting a letter dated October 4, 2001, written by the RCMP to the Syrian intelligence agency which labelled him "an imminent threat", to this country's national security, linking him to al-Qaeda.

Note that date: very shortly after the al-Qaeda-driven attacks on New York's World Trade Towers, the Pentagon in Washington, a Pennsylvania flight. Note too that Mr. Almalki once worked for Ahmed Said Khadr at Human Concern International, a charity based in Ottawa to perform development work in the Muslim world. But Mr. Khadr was a senior member of al-Qaeda, a confidant of Osama bin Laden.

And Mr. Almalki's Ottawa import-export company was involved in shipping communications equipment to Pakistan. Some of the store-bought equipment exported to Pakistan had made its way to Afghanistan, and was found in the hands of the Taliban. Not surprising, given current knowledge, that Pakistan was and remains involved through its military and secret service in supporting the Afghan Taliban.

The transaction, however, had nothing to do with Mr. Almalki. He met with CSIS and explained the situation to them. The RCMP had concluded that: "It does not appear to me that there is any offence being committed at this time that would warrant an investigation by ANSIS (a branch of the RCMP's National Security Investigative Service)."

And Mr. Almalki was cleared of having committed any possible violation of Canada's export regulations. So the disaster that befell him personally does not, clearly, appear to have been warranted by anything he deliberately did, but by sloppy and inadequate police work. To claim, as Alex Neve of Amnesty International has done that an RCMP characterization of Mr. Almalki was "derogatory and racist. It suggests ethnic profiling", isn't quite on.

It was more likely careless and stupid verbal short-hand. The police are often obtuse and careless. What occurred in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside over the years with disappearing women and unmistakably clear clues to their disappearances never followed up, resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen women and more. Those abandoned women, slaughtered by a serial killer were prostitutes. Expendable in society.

Mr. Almalki feels the Government of Canada owes him, big time. He considers that $100-million might begin to compensate for those lost two years of agony. Two other Canadians, Ahmed El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin who suffered similar detention and torture, are suing for $50-million each. Of course they may continue living their lives, even with the trauma of memory.

The slaughtered women of Vancouver's hard streets, drug-addled and -dependent live on in the memories of those to whom they meant something dear. Their absences were considered to be trifles because they represented the truly seamy side of human nature.

In the case of Messrs. Almalki, El-Maati and Nureddin, the seamy side of human nature also figures.

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Questioning Whose Principles?

Trust the ancient philosophers, they knew whereof they spoke. Plato, for example, held that politics was no place for men of conscience. Perhaps we could enlarge the eligible category and include women there, as well. It's a generalization of course, but given its source, obviously one that was given great and deep thought.

From the greatest heights of public executive administration, where highly respected Western leaders of enlightened democratic countries make their accommodation with tyrants and dictators who oppress their people and indulge in abysmal corruption, lining their pockets and those of their friends, while their people live in abject poverty, to the story appearing in today's newspaper.

And that might be about Frank Klees, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora. A (failed) runner-up for the leadership position of the Ontario Conservative party. Offered a position in his party's shadow cabinet post-election that left Ontario with a squeaker of a minority-majority, he has refused. He's done them all, all those positions, and he'd like to try something new.

He plans to run for speaker of the provincial parliament. Conventionally, we're informed, the Ontario speaker casts his votes with the government on confidence motions. And with Mr. Klees out of the Conservative caucus, both opposition parties combined are left with 53 seats, equalling that of the Liberals. Effectively handing a slim, minuscule 'majority' to the Liberals.

"To draw the conclusion ... that somehow this is confirming a majority for Dalton McGuinty is fundamentally wrong", Mr. Klees huffed indignantly. "While it's convention, a speaker would vote to maintain the status quo and to vote with the government, that is not a rule." He would be principled about it, you see.

"The speaker can vote based on what the speaker believes is the right thing to do", he explained. Now why don't his colleagues simply accept this in good faith and move on? Isn't it the reasonable thing to do? Particularly when you can't do anything about the choice he's made?

"We're surprised and disappointed that Frank has decided that this is a better approach for him in the assembly", Tim Hudak admitted. "Frank's made a decision. And Frank is Frank. We did our best as a team to encourage Frank to take on a couple of key critic portfolios, but Frank felt that his energies were best directed elsewhere."

Frankly, we'd be surprised if they weren't surprised. We'd also be surprised if they weren't disappointed. Since, as Mr. Hudak said realistically that Mr. Klees's considered decision to treat himself to something different - special and challenging, bearing in mind of course, his loyalty to his party and his colleagues there - would "certainly make our job more challenging".

How's that for the understatement of the week.

Mr. Klees says that he is "...one who has to believe that he's making a meaningful contribution in what he's doing". And a Liberal official, who declined to be named, said "Chances are we'll end up with a Liberal (speaker)".

Both scenarios at one and the same time equally high-principled and most certainly unlikely.

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Backward Process...Expected Different?

Rice Memoir Reveals: Olmert Offered Abbas 94%; Abbas Said No
by Elad Benari Rice Reveals: Olmert Offered Abbas 94%

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s new memoir sheds some light on the groundbreaking offer made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

The memoir, entitled "No Higher Honor," will be published on November 1, and Newsweek magazine presented some excerpts from it this week.

Rice writes in the book that both she and President George W. Bush were “impressed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s desire to get a deal” and that then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, whom Olmert placed in charge of the negotiations, “admitted that she didn’t know the issues as well but she came up to speed very quickly.”

Rice recalls one trip to Jerusalem, in May of 2008, when Olmert asked to have dinner with her. During that dinner, she says, Olmert told her that “‘Israel needs to get an agreement with the Palestinians before you leave office. I want to do it directly with Abu Mazen,’ he said, referring to Mahmoud Abbas by his nom de guerre. ‘You are going to see him tomorrow. Tell him that I want to appoint one person. I have someone in mind. He is a retired judge that I trust. I want Abu Mazen to appoint a trusted agent too. We can write down the agreement in a few pages and then give it to the negotiators to finalize,’ he said.”

It was during that same conversation, Rice says, that Olmert told her the details of his groundbreaking proposal.

“‘I know what he needs. He needs something on refugees and on Jerusalem. I’ll give him enough land, maybe something like 94 percent with swaps. I have an idea about Jerusalem. There will be two capitals, one for us in West Jerusalem and one for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The mayor of the joint city council will be selected by population percentage. That means an Israeli mayor, so the deputy should be a Palestinian. We will continue to provide security for the Holy sites because we can assure access to them.’"

"That’s probably a nonstarter, I thought," Rice writes. "But concentrate, concentrate. This is unbelievable. He continued, ‘I’ll accept some Palestinians into Israel, maybe five thousand. I don’t want it to be called family reunification because they have too many cousins; we won’t be able to control it. I’ve been thinking about how to administer the Old City. There should be a committee of people—not officials but wise people—from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians, the United States, and Israel. They will oversee the city but not in a political role.’”

“Am I really hearing this? I wondered,” Rice writes. “Is the Israeli prime minister saying that he’ll divide Jerusalem and put an international body in charge of the Holy sites? Concentrate. Write this down. No, don’t write it down. What if it leaks? It can’t leak; it’s just the two of us.”

“The next day I went to see Abbas and asked to see him in the little dining room adjacent to his office,” she continues. “I sketched out the details of Olmert’s proposal and told him how the prime minister wanted to proceed.”

The breakdown, Rice describes, came during a meeting between Olmert and Abbas in which the Prime Minister urged Abbas to sign an agreement then and there. Abbas said he wanted to consult his experts, but Olmert refused to give him the map with the proposed borders of a future Palestinian state.

“The Israeli leader told me that he and Abbas had agreed to convene their experts the next day. Apparently that meeting never took place,” writes Rice.

She continues to say that she wanted to preserve Olmert’s offer and as such, asked Bush to host Olmert and Abbas one last time before he left office.

“I worried that there might never be another chance like this one,” Rice writes. “Tzipi Livni urged me (and, I believe, Abbas) not to enshrine the Olmert proposal. ‘He has no standing in Israel,’ she said. That was probably true, but to have an Israeli prime minister on record offering those remarkable elements and a Palestinian president accepting them would have pushed the peace process to a new level. Abbas refused.”

“We had one last chance,” she recalls. “The two leaders came separately in November and December to say good-bye. The President took Abbas into the Oval Office alone and appealed to him to reconsider. The Palestinian stood firm, and the idea died.”

“Now, as I write in 2011, the process seems to have gone backward,” Rice concludes.

Abbas himself admitted last January that he had reached agreements with Olmert that Jerusalem would not be divided. The two leaders agreed, he said, that Jerusalem would remain open to all religions and would have two municipalities operating side by side, one Jewish and one Arab.

Secret documents later revealed by the Al-Jazeera television network claimed that the PA made “historic concessions” during those negotiations, agreeing that Israel could keep most of east Jerusalem.

PA negotiators rejected these documents, calling them “a pack of lies and half-truths.”

In his address to the United Nations last month, current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reminded the audience of Olmert’s concessions to Abbas, saying Abbas “didn’t even respond.” He called on Abbas “to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace!”

As published online at ArutzSheva, 26 October 2011

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Broken Government

Labour unions in Quebec have for far too long been the tail that wags the dog. Government has traditionally been in thrall to the support of Quebec unions. It's not very surprising for a government and a province that considers itself to be 'progressive', and is dedicated to addressing itself as a liberal-left society.

Matching that is the comfortable position that organized crime seems to have found for itself in the province. It too appears to have made (in)credible inroads in the accommodation of government to its presence and influence. But then unions in and of themselves don't need the collaboration of criminal gangs to aid them in coercing government.

They're quite capable themselves of behaving like thugs, and they do, whenever they judge the situation calls for it. And since the government of Quebec is currently in the throes (once again) of attempting to curb the influence of construction unions, the unions are fighting back as only they can.

Quebec's Labour Minister Lise Theriault has reported receiving violent threats. Should the Charest government not back down (again) and proceed with its intention to remove from the Quebec Federation of Labour the privilege they have taken unto themselves of determining who will be employed where, rather than leave employer entrepreneurs to make their own hiring decisions, Lise Theriault may end up with broken legs.

She, on the other hand, as a government minister in the Liberal Cabinet sitting in the National Assembly, has recourse to official protection from those threats. Other women, those working in the construction industry themselves, who face daily threats, oppression and other maltreatment have few protections. A parliamentary commission is hearing testimony from the committee for the defence of women's rights in the construction industry.

And they're getting an earful. Sylvie Deraspe, head of the volunteer committee, described how one woman whom she had arranged to testify at the legislature was forced to stay home after she was "beaten up" by a colleague on the North Shore work site. "She was assaulted by a QFL member. She had muscles and ribs crushed by steel-toe boots because the guy was unhappy with what she said", Ms. Deraspe explained.

Two other women working on the construction site of La Romaine in northern Quebec were taken by ambulance from their workplace after having been assaulted. "This is a cry from the heart. We can't take it any more. Women in the construction (industry) are tired of being assaulted, discriminated and victims of violence", she pleaded.

The government's proposed bill would limit unions' power to select which workers get job site assignments. Enabling instead the employers to select workers from an eligible employees list. Including those who chose not to belong to the union.

Past time to teach the unions that they must obey the laws of the land and it is the lawmakers, not the unions who make those laws.

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Give Respect And You'll Receive It

"I don't have anything against the gay community as a pastor. I don't hate them. My concern was I was in a public place, Tim Hortons, with my family and my children and if they had turned around they would have seen this nearly pornographic image."
Reverend Eric Revie, assistant pastor at the Pentecostal Glad Tidings Community Church in Blenheim, Ontario, east of Windsor, is accepting of gays. He has no problem, he explained, seeing them express affection in public. His complaint was that what he thought was a young man and a young woman were deeply entrenched in a very conspicuous display of love-making in a very public space.

"They were straddling each other ... and really making out", he explained further. And so he did what anyone in his circumstance might do, he asked the store manager to convey his concern to the couple, to ask them to "tone it down", in front of his children. This is exactly what the manager did, and asked the two women furthermore, to leave the premises.

"She said that it was a family-friendly environment and what we were doing wasn't acceptable. We weren't doing anything wrong. I can see if we were making out, if we were fully going at it with children there, but we weren't", protested 25-year-old Riley Duckworth, of the display that she and her friend, 23-year-old Patricia Pattenden were being accused of.

Reverend Revie's story in describing what he witnessed to his great discomfiture doesn't quite match Ms. Duckworth's version. According to Reverend Revie, the couple sat on a bench with their tongues locked together, their hands inside each other's pants. Ms. Duckworth mentioned she had noticed Reverend Revie staring at them before the store manager confronted them.

Later, the manager apologized, and invited the women back to the store. The couple decided to get in touch with the head of Alphabet Community Centre in London, Ontario, a gay and transgendered group, asking assistance in filing a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The head of the Alphabet Centre, Michelle Boyce, wrote an account of the story on Facebook.

That resulted in an outraged response from supporters, from as far as California, encouraging local organizers to plan a protest backed up by over 500 angry online supporters. A transgendered woman, Mary Van Speybroeck, initiated a petition against Tim Hortons, then thought better of it after having spoken to Reverend Revie.

"For me, the credibility is gone. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I'd like equal rights as much as anyone, but not at the expense of honesty", she said. Her view was also that the ensuing protests based on a confused and not very reliable telling of the tale had the potential of sparking a backlash, taking attention from legitimate issues of discrimination and violence suffered by her community.

"It's just something that should never have been brought up in the first place. There are legitimate things we can be protesting." Teaching respect for the entire community might be a good start. An utter lack of social sensitivity to the shocked responses of other members of society faced with the propensity of many gays to act out their fantasies in public is not the way to garner support.

In-your-face ignorance and contempt doesn't make for good relations.

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A Public Social Obligation

There are those people whose disregard for the welfare of others - expressed through their deliberate by-passing of the opportunity to help others - are a disgrace to society. And then there are those others who distinguish themselves by their leap to the defence of those in need. These are those within society who recognize the difference between apathetic disinterest and responsible intervention.

The former beggars society, the latter enriches it.

In Nanaimo, British Columbia, a man was at his home and suddenly he heard "the most bloodcurdling woman's scream" from a parking lot near his condo. Tyler Cardiff did not do what many would, and simply dial 911, then wait for events to conclude as they might. He rushed out onto the scene where he heard a woman scream "help me, help me, he's trying to kill himself".

And then he saw a man holding a can of gasoline. "He poured it all over himself", Mr. Cardiff related later. "I ran up to him and pulled the (five-gallon) jerry can away from him". By then the 30-year-old man was completely drenched with the gasoline. He ran off, and Mr. Cardiff followed, managing to tackle the man.

"I held him down and tried to calm him down until the police arrived."

That man did not have the opportunity, after all, to become a living torch.

And doubtless, once police arrived and had the situation well in hand, Mr. Cardiff felt free to return to his home, finish his meal, pick up a novel he had started, or the newspaper, or turned on his television set, or his computer, and set about the normal activities of his evening, after a hard day's work.
The man who would be a torch "was so covered in gasoline that when our officers arrived and apprehended him under the Mental Health Act, the gasoline melted one of the officer's gloves". RCMP Staff Sergeant Dave Herman

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Obama Pulls Terror Training Manuals Referencing Islam
by Gavriel Queenann Obama Pulls Terror Manuals Referencing Islam

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday the Obama administration was recalling all training materials used by the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam.

“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.

The move comes after complaints from Muslim advocacy organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas front group in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial.

CAIR founders Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad were originally officers of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), described by former FBI analyst and US Treasury Department intelligence official Mathew Lewitt as, "intimately tied to the most senior Hamas leadership."

Both Ahmad and Awad participated in a meeting held in Philadelphia on October 3, 1993, that involved senior leaders of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation (which was designated in 1995 by Executive Order, and later convicted in court, as an organization that had raised millions of dollars for Hamas) , and the IAP.

According to electronic surveillance of the meeting subitted as evidence in the Holy Land trial by the FBI, "the participants went to great length and spent much effort hiding their association with the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas].... Participants at the meeting discussed forming a 'political organization and public relations body,' "whose Islamic hue is not very conspicuous."

In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training material.

Maintaining the training materials in their current state “will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community,” al-Marayati wrote.

Ties between CAIR and MPAC, both of whom have been guests of honor at numerous Federal events and symposiums, and Obama administration dinners, are well documented. Both organizations are members of the American Muslim Political Coordination Council, which seek to coordinate political advocacy efforts.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 15 October 2011

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The Actual, Historical Truth

Israel’s UN Ambassador Separates Lies from Truth
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu UN Ambassador Separates Lies from Truth

Israel’s United Nations envoy Ron Prosor put the facts on the line Monday and stated that the Arab world blames Israel for all its woes while failing to help its own people.

He said during a debate on "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” that “for generations, the Arab world has failed miserably to address the needs of its own people.”

Prosor was highly successful as ambassador to Britain before taking up his new post in the summer and his oratory already has proved him to be one of the best Israel UN ambassadors in years.

“From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt.” Prosor stated. “The Arab world did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel's annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.”

He also exposed in simple but glaring language ”a glimpse into the real world of the Middle East.”

Prosor stated, “Young people struggle without access to jobs and education. Women are denied basic rights. Free expression is repressed. Minorities are persecuted. Elections are a sham."

“And with their world in flames, Arab leaders continue to blame Israel and the West for all their problems. For years, it's the only explanation that they have been able to offer to their own people… Everything wrong in the Middle East, according to many Arab leaders, is simply Israel's fault. If it's not the Mossad, it's the CIA, or MI6, or some other ‘foreign force.’

Pointing out the brutality of rulers and former rulers in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Libya, the ambassador added, “Two roads stand before us. There is the future offered by Iranian and Syrian leaders -- a future of more extremism, greater violence and continued hate. And there is another road - a path of progress, reform and moderation…

“It is time for this Council to stop ignoring the destructive forces that seek to keep the Middle East in the past, so that we can seize the promise of a brighter future."

Prosor also admonished Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for omitting any reference to Judaism when he told the United Nations last month, "I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)."

“He denied 4,000 years of Jewish history,” Prosor said. “It was not a small omission. It was not an oversight. The Palestinian leadership attempts to erase the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel."

Prosor also told the UN Security Council that "Today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state".

"The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. This gap between perception and reality is the major obstacle to peace. The so-called right of return is the major hurdle to achieving peace," he stated.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 25 October 2011

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