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.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Confusing Facts With Propaganda

"We make sure that they are safe and we are taking care of them. I'm proud to be in this position."
"[The asylum seekers] crossed borders and we know it is very difficult. They've made hard choices. And just being there to help them and say, 'Hi, welcome to Canada, the Red Cross can take care of you, we're going to provide you shelter, food and just make sure you are safe, for now,' I know there were some volunteers who were there who were saying they are honoured to just help other humans, even for a short time."
"It wasn't very sad. They were saying, 'We're trying to find a better future for our families,' and I saw many smiles."
"They said, 'It's a hard time. We don't know where we're going, but we hope we have a better future.' That's what I saw on site."
Carl Boisvert, spokesperson, Canadian Red Cross, Montreal
Migrants from Somalia cross into Canada from the U
Migrants from Somalia cross into Canada from the United States by walking down a train track into the town of Emerson, Manitoba, where they will seek asylum at the Canada Border Services Agency early Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)
"It's certainly not something that we can't handle or incorporate."
"Most people can understand why there would be apprehensive individuals in the U.S. Because the increase [here] has coincided with what's happening under the Trump administration, it may seem more dire than it is."
Aris Daghighian, Toronto lawyer, executive, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers
Lawyers always support and seem to take delight in matters where they specialize. And it's no surprise that when their bread, butter and caviar is linked to refugee access and the need to take on the services of lawyers skilled in the byways and wherewithal of refugee laws, both specific to Canada and of international agreement, why would they not be supportive of opening Canada's generous social services to all that aspire to enriching their lives in this uniquely Canadian way of open-arms acceptance?

The thing of it is, though, there is an obvious legally acceptable way to go about applying for refugee status. The opposite of which is clearly illegal and which in its deliberate side-stepping of normal steps to apply at established government posts in position for that very purpose flouts good order and sensibility in a show of arrogant entitlement to declare oneself needful of asylum. Bypassing official ports of entry should be enforced as an illegal assault on the civility that Canada offers.

On the other hand, it appears to be a matter of general knowledge that Canadian authority is soft-hearted and doesn't in fact, place much value in its own laws, much less the need to support security at Canadian borders. The Safe Third Country Agreement signed a dozen or so years ago with the United States represents a mutual agreement between neighbours recognizing that each represents a country of haven for legitimate refugee claimants, that once within the borders of one, it is unacceptable to approach the borders of another for like purposes. The E.U., in fact, holds a similar agreement.

What the illegal entrants are doing, however, is leaking across the borders of one country where their presence is due to temporary haven, temporary visitors' visas or illegal, undocumented entrance to begin with, compounding the issue by entering through an illegal crossing. By setting aside the contempt displayed by would-be refugee claimants through their deliberate and planned decision to avoid normal legal channels of entry, it is puzzling to figure how Canadian authorities might view these law-breakers as future good citizens, should their claims be accepted.

A sign warning asylum seekers is seen at the Canada/U.S. border at Roxham Rd., May 9, 2018 in Champlain,N.Y.    Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Many, on the other hand, coming from countries not known to produce refugees, in other words where people are not faced with egregious discrimination, oppression, threats and conflict situations, will not be recognized as genuine refugees and they will be returned to their country of origin. But that process will take anywhere from a year-and-a-half to three years and perhaps longer given various appeals processes that denials of status may result in. Canada is not merely soft-hearted but soft-headed in this respect.

Thousands of illegal entrants have already strained the capacity of official Canada to serve the interests of those streaming across the border illegally, who are given legal status nonetheless because they claim to be refugees. These are not, however, refugees in the meaning of the status of those escaping threats to their existence, but migrants who seek the opportunity to find a better economic future for themselves, but haven't the decency to use normal immigration channels. In so doing they create not only havoc and expense for the host country, but tie up normal legal channels in long delays processing those who have applied with the courtesy of legal channels.

From East to West, Canada is strained to meet the challenges brought by this influx of illegal migrants. Canada Border Services struggles along with the Immigration and Refugee Board to deal with an existing backlog, let alone the current crush. There is polarization growing within Canadian society among those who instinctively support what they feel is the human right to a decent way of life that Canada can support for the millions whose lives have been disrupted by war and those resentful of the contempt which haven seekers show for law and order.

Having taken in tens of thousands of legitimate refugees Canada still struggles to settle them adequately.
Ahmed Hussen @HonAhmedHussen
Thread: In #Winnipeg to meet with Provincial & Territorial counterparts. We discussed how to continue to use immigration to grow our economy and our government’s clear plan to manage irregular migration.

Refugee claimants legally making applications saw an orderly process taking place, with its own long waiting list for processing of 36,856 in 2008, 33,426 in 2002 and 44,640 back in 2001. Not to mention the estimated 50,000 Syrian refugees settled in Canada. These have not been "irregular migrants" as the current government insists the illegal entrants be addressed in respect of their 'humanity', but respectful applicants recognizing the internal authority of a legitimate government to have control over who enters their country.

Montreal and Toronto still cope with the effects of those streaming illegally into the country, putting them up temporarily in public buildings meant for other purposes, but having no room left at the shelters meant to house those seeking public services where Canadians themselves falling on hard times are desperately in need of assistance at every level of government, those social assistance avenues now having to cope with refugee declarants who have no respect for normal process or Canadian law.
Asylum Seekers
A group of asylum seekers arrive at the temporary housing facilities at the border crossing Wednesday May 9, 2018 in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

"It makes it illegal but also says it's not illegal at the same time", stated Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, speaking of the 'irregular' crossings into Canada wherein Canadian law recognizes the right to claim refugee status, nullifying the illegal aspect of crossing the border at non-appointed entry points. In a history lesson she speaks of the 1951 U.N. refugees convention drafted in the bleak aftermath of the Holocaust in recognition of safe haven denied Jews attempting to flee Nazi Germany.

With all due respects, this was a targeted ethnic/religious group knowing the carnage that awaited them should they remain in Europe; denigration, dehumanization, threats, public humiliations, unemployment -- not yet in full possession of the facts yet to come that after ghettoization and dispossession would come the Final Solution. And even when the world was given notice through word to the League of Nations that a genocide was unfolding, there was no room at the stable globally -- including Canada -- for the presence of Jewish refugees.

To compare those terrified, frail and abandoned people who were refused entry anywhere, to those now being scattered worldwide in mostly Muslim, dysfunctional countries where lives are made desolately miserable and continually threatened, with Europe opening wide in acceptance until it occurred to them that what was happening was an invasion, and one that many wealthy Islamic nations were simply ignoring or encouraging, to the utterly terrifying disaster that afflicted European Jews is an insult to their memory.

A group of asylum seekers walk down the street
A group of asylum seekers walk down the street as they are escorted from their tent encampment to be processed at Canada Border Services in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 11, 2017.
REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Israel's Righteously Unblemished Critics

"[The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] rejects and disapproves] of the new State of Israel proclaiming Israel a "Jewish" state by legislation which contradicts international law]."
"[The international community should] confront such a law and or other Israeli attempts, aimed at perpetuating racial discrimination against the Palestinian people."
Saudi Foreign Ministry 

"[The new law is] racist [it] enshrines the racism of this entity [Israel] through an apartheid system that goes beyond the former apartheid system in South Africa."
"This Israeli law would not have been issued without the unlimited support provided by successive U.S. administrations to this rogue entity. [The Trump administration’s recent relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem] came as a green light [for Israel] to pursue its aggressive policy and racism."
Syrian Foreign Ministry

"[Adoption of the law] reflected the regime of racism and discrimination against the Palestinian people."
"[Israel clearly means to obliterate the Palestinians'] national identity and depriv[ing] them of their legitimate civil and human rights on their occupied homeland."
GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani

Israeli flag.
Israeli flag.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Amazingly, unpredictably, there are others in the Arab world of diplomatic niceties who politely and vehemently feel threatened that a clearly Jewish state which freely celebrates its home-coming in the re-establishment of its heritage lands as a place of comfort, security and haven for persecuted Jews worldwide, finally asserting its preeminent position as the only country in the world where being Jewish is not a reason to fear being yet again persecuted, oppressed, threatened and violated adamantly presents itself in legal terms, as Jewish.

The chorus of Arab condemnation of the new Israeli legislation that now enshrines the country as "the national home of the Jewish people", has sung its outrage in a choir including the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Israel, must be feeling utterly devastated, disappointed, outcast and alone; its neighbours, in a totally new move will surely now exclude the Jewish state from the friendly and civil relations that prevail among all countries in the Middle East.

How can Israel possibly live with this rejection and the loss of comradely relations between it and its Middle East neighbours? Possibly if it explains that the thousands of years of Jewish yearning to return to its ancient homeland, to escape the recurring deadly hostility that Jews have been subjected to; culminating from endless pogroms, humiliations, expulsions, scorn, and victimization, Jews have felt worn out from being forced to find a place for themselves where no country would accept them.

Turning as a bright alternative to the ageless pledge to one day return to Zion, they did, after the world extracted an exorbitantly horrendous price, tasking the Angel of Death to hover over the Jews
of Europe while they were tormented and vilified, ghettoized and anguished in preparation for mass annihilation as the ultimate assault and insult to the existence of that people collectively refusing to vanish from the face of the Earth.
Proclamation of Nationhood is read by Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Around him are members of the provisional government, including Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok (third from right). Labor Minister Moshe Ben Tov (extreme right) wears sport shirt. Portrait above is of Theodor Herzl, Zionism's founder
Proclamation of Nationhood is read by Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.   Frank Scherschel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In the State of Israel, which considers itself the final refuge for Jewish life, non-Jews were welcome to remain, and they did. Arabs constitute 17.5% of the eight million population, with the Jewish presence estimated at over six million, hosting as well Druze, Kurds, Armenians, Africans and Bedouin among others such as European Christians. Hebrew will now legally represent the only official language of the Jewish state; Arabic downgraded to special status.

Saudi Arabia guards its citizenship, awarding it to Saudis exclusively; it recognizes no religion other than Islam, and its concern for the welfare of Palestinians has not excited it toward offering either haven nor citizenship to them. It considers the Shiite sect of Islam false and results in accusations of a heretical nature, leading to violent enmity. The conflicts that result from sectarian hatred and violence creates gross destabilization, military assaults, mass murder of civilians, starvation, deprivation, refugees.

Syria's Shiite regime has waged an unrelenting war against its sectarian majority population, viewing them as 'terrorists' for the unsupportable crime of protesting against the unjust treatment meted out to them by their dictator-president Bashar al-Assad. Millions of Sunni Syrians have become both internally displaced and external refugees, crowding for safety from the regime into Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, flooding Europe for asylum.

Iran has mustered the strength in numbers of the minority Shiites, supporting their armed militias, creating non-state militias as terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, with an agenda focused solely on the destruction of the State of Israel, with a side-issue of promoting Shiism over Sunni Islam, with all the attendant fury of accusations, venom and threats that accompany a power struggle of one over the other, each reaching to attain the coveted status of ultimate power.

Israel, seeking to live in peace and security in its ancient homeland, cradled in a geography that once held disparate indigenous populations, all of which jockeyed endlessly for territory, has brought modernity and democracy to the Middle East in a geography to which both were foreign in a world stilled in the amber of quaint medievalism and backwardness. Viewing Israel as an usurping intruder, the Arab world shudders at the progress and civility Israel represents, challenging the brutality and ignorance that suffuses their culture.

After an Arab air raid, bodies of dead Jews lie in the rubble along the Tel Aviv waterfront.
After an Arab air raid, bodies of dead Jews lie in the rubble along the Tel Aviv waterfront.
Frank Scherschel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Spiting America's Trade Health

"Let's be clear, this is a rebuke [U.S. senators voting 88 - 11 in favour of a non-binding motion calling for more authority for Congress in the use of "national security" tariffs by the administration] of the president's abuse of trade authority."
"Can you imagine being Canada and being told your steel and aluminum exports to the United States [represent] a national security threat?"
Senator Jeff Flake, Trump critic

"Canada does have allies in Washington and Congress."
"Here in Ohio, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, who is one of the most anti-NAFTA, pro tariff members of the Senate you will meet ... even he's saying that Canada should be exempted -- as well as Mexico and the European Union -- from steel and aluminum tariffs."
"I really caution people when they say, 'We'll wait for a Blue [Democrat] wave'. This is the new normal on trade."
Dan Ujczo, trade lawyer, Columbus, Ohio

"We're just trying to make sure our strong ties and friendship with the U.S. are maintained, and we're not dragged into whatever is irritating the president."
"Our workers have done nothing. They don't deserve to be treated like this. If he's angry or perturbed in some way with China or with Mexico, deal with those issues. Don't drag your best friends, your allies into this dispute." 
"[The issue is automobiles and auto parts] not tanks, not battleships."
Jim Wilson, Ontario PC Cabinet, Minister of Economic Development

"It's clearly too early now to say if this investigation [hearings of the U.S. Commerce Department] will ultimately result in a Section 232 recommendation on national security grounds."
"But President Trump does understand how indispensable the U.S. automobile industry is ... it provides a backbone for our industrial economy ... "
Wilbur Ross, U.S. Commerce Secretary
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange occasionally worry about a trade war. Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Donald Trump seems never to be as satisfied as when whatever he does or says creates controversy, a huge disturbance that keeps him in the limelight. In show business there was that old adage that publicity -- any kind, good or bad -- is always positive for visibility. And President Trump thrives on publicity, on being centre stage, on drawing attention to himself, on drawing on the powers of the presidency to invoke authority and command, even though his demeanor and demeaning behaviour contradicts that very authority and command.

But he certainly has the world's attention. International trade has become regularized and normalized in an interdependent mercantile, productive world where natural resources of one country are prized by another and finished manufactured goods and technical services are traded and trade-offs are made to the advantage of all participating member countries in vast free trade deals that lift the emerging economies into the next-up sphere of success in hopes of matching and eventually overtaking those countries whose economies have long since prospered.

As geographic neighbours who share not only two-thirds of a continent, but similar social values, heritage and culture, Canada and the U.S. are less trade adversaries than they are trade companions and have been since the advent of the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and its successor that brought in Mexico, to cover the continent. All three countries gained, in good measure with the growth of GDP as their economies and production became interwoven and interdependent. Because of its huge internal market the U.S. has no real need of enlarging its export market, but Canada with a tenth of the population is hugely dependent on export.

And as neighbours most of Canada's exports -- traditionally heavy on resource extraction -- has gone to its southern counterpart. Canada often feels -- and with good reason -- that it lives next to an economic bully, but one usually kept in check by Americans who do value fairness. Until the advent of hyper-competitive Trump who never saw an opportunity to strong arm a competitor that didn't appeal to his pathological impulse to control. Except that his current strong arm tactics are backfiring, taking Trump and his administration advisers by surprise.

Simply put, they're a little perturbed that the countries the Trump White House has disadvantaged through the imposition of tariffs -- claiming that the world suckles on America's teats and gives it no credit, leaving it in the lurch of huge trade imbalances that Trump is determined to reverse -- are reciprocating in kind. Trump issues edicts, he is not prepared to bargain; his way must prevail. So when Europe and Canada and Mexico respond to his tariffs with those of their own he is enraged at their unacceptable audacity.

And despite that the unfair trade practices that Trump accuses others of is a game the U.S. has itself long played, under Trump it has magnified enormously. Trade wars have no winners, though Trump insists he will 'win' for the U.S. in reversing and cancelling trade agreements unilaterally. The push-back has infuriated  him, whether from his targets or from his critics within his own country, it maddens him to absurd accusations, alienating former allies and polarizing his own population.

Trump-imposed tariffs and the resentment they engender are as nothing compared to the fall-out that has begun and will proliferate, harming mostly the American public who see that tariffs on lumber have increased housing construction costs, closed down newspapers when bulk newsprint becomes unaffordable, will make automobiles more expensive with tariffs on auto parts, and creates untenable job losses. His no-holds-barred confrontational demands and accusations are roiling trade everywhere, but the fallout will be felt painfully in the home states that have supported him.

In that sense, it will be a 'just' trade war, but in no other will it profit anyone.

Donald Trump is pictured. | AP Photo
President Donald Trump has so far suffered little political blowback for his tariffs and trade threats. But he and his party could soon begin to face consequences as companies begin reporting lower earnings, reassessing their supply chains and holding back on investments. | Luca Bruno/AP Photo

"The unity is as remarkable as it is unprecedented."
"The greatest threat to the U.S. industry at this time is the possibility that the administration will impose a tax on imports."
John Bozella, president, Association of Global Automakers 

"We’re already hearing complaints now from companies, so by the time we get to the midterms, you’re going to be hearing governors, mayors, Congress complaining about jobs, about cost increases, about problems."
"The question is: Will that be strong enough to offset the idea that we have to get tough on our trading partners, and that our jobs are being stolen overseas?"
Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Commerce Secretary

"If this escalates into a full-blown trade war, the innocent victims are going to be American consumers."
"That’s what we’d like to avoid."
Matthew Shay, president and CEO , National Retail Federation

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pernicious State-Generated Provocation

"These actions [Moscow's aggressive interference programs] are persistent. They're pervasive and they are meant to undermine America's democracy on a daily basis, regardless of whether it is election time or not."
"[Russia and other countries continue targeting U.S. businesses, government, allied institutions] the warning lights are blinking red."
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats

"It's imperative we get to the bottom of what is going on so we can be prepared to protect ourselves in advance of the 2018 elections."
"My personal view: the Russians are at it again. BIG discrepancy [between warning by Coats and Trump's post-summit statement]."
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham

"Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with president Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!"
"So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki."
"We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match."
U.S. President Donald J. Trump 
President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki

Well, that's what we like to see: world leaders behaving well with one another, like reasonably intelligent people able to converse with one another, discussing world affairs and their nations' relationship as they probe one another for variables in the perception each holds. This is big ego time, with Russian President Vladimir Putin cultivating his image of himself as leader of one of the two super-powers world attention pivots toward, and Donald Trump asserting his belief in self as conciliator, charmer extraordinaire and solver of unfortunate misunderstandings.

The United States, they and the rest of the world occasionally tend to forget, has a long history of interference in the affairs of other countries whose politics they abhor and feel should more closely resemble the values and priorities of the United States. The CIA represents the long arm of American-style justice, its agents well schooled in the kind of violent reprisals that propaganda and reality leads the West to attribute to the old KGB operatives, now carried forward by the new agency dedicated to the same old techniques but with technological advances.

Perhaps the Russian Federation is more skilled in the use of proxies than the U.S., though both are well known to have extensively used private militias tasking them to perform vital work each would prefer to keep their federal military figures clear of, clearing the air of responsibility and leading to the denial of culpability since these were not state actors, so go ahead and prove otherwise. It's tough to feel too much sympathy for Washington furious over the Kremlin's manipulation of social media to advantage themselves in creating havoc at election time.

How many times, after all, has Washington instructed its CIA agents to indulge in suborning citizens of other countries in efforts to destabilize the political environment, including during elections, even while it sends election monitors to ensure that no double-dealing, corrupt measures are undertaken by the foreign government which the U.S. insists must respect the democratic rights of their citizens. American citizens practise their democratic right to freely elect candidates they feel are likeliest to govern as they would wish them to.

If a foreign government's apparatchiks have stacked the decks in favour of a candidate that they feel is an egotistic, unprincipled, incompetent and ignorant boor whose kick at the four-year cat of governance will create turmoil and turn the population toward a polarized enmity against one another then it is a frail democracy that has failed too many of its own to begin with. One can only suppose that Russians themselves enjoy the exploits of their very own egotistical, unprincipled, competently sinister autocrat, so it appears that they are not alone; a major segment of Americans do as well.

In Russia, dissidents and opponents of the government, journalists who write disparagingly and despairingly of the corruption and wreckage their government has made of human rights and basic civil entitlements, along with threats to global stability find themselves imprisoned with long sentences or very, very dead. In the United States opponents of any current administration froth and fulminate awaiting their turn to elect their own incompetent governments in a conscienceless, capitalist system that awards those who familiarize themselves with its opportunities.

It is the sanctimony of righteousness in lofting democratic values over the clearly autocratic ones of one's political opponents that reveal the hypocrisy of one system against another that makes no pretense of favouring human rights over the more appealing path of dictatorship under a cloak of democracy so favoured by elections geared to garner majority votes in favour of pitiless strongmen jealous of their power base which in fact has its counterpart in the appeal of a Trump promising that large swath of disgruntled voters he is their man.

And he is, as much as Putin is Russia's. Little wonder there is a personal magnetism they respond to, between them. The wonder of it all is that the general population of each country manages to survive their unfortunate choices as well as their lack of choice. Since it is the fate of all ordinary people lacking the ambition it takes to claw their way to the pinnacle of political power to mull events then get on with their lives as best they can. They can and they do.

President Trump and Russia's President Putin sit for a working lunch in Finland's Presidential Palace

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wrongly Accused?

"We ask you both to do everything you can to save Monika Schaefer from her ongoing unjust and immoral imprisonment in Germany."
"Every day that Canada refuses to act or acts ineffectively is a day that Ms. Schaefer spends in a foreign jail."
"Therefore, we express the required urgency."
Joseph Hickey, executive director, Ontario Civil Liberties Association
Monika Schaefer was arrested in Germany in January for a series of online videos denying the Holocaust ever happened. (Emilio Avalos)

The government of Canada is being  urgently bidden to extend its good offices to diplomatically inform Germany that its anti-Holocaust-denial laws are beyond the pale, fail to exercise good state judgement and explicitly victimize people who simply express their honest opinion. In so doing their viewing as a criminal act justifiably requiring the punishment of incarceration is depriving German Canadian Monika Schaefer of the courtesy of her due human rights entitlements.

The Ontario Civil Liberties Association finds it deplorable that Canada is not exercised over the uncivil treatment of a woman whose right to free speech places Germany in a rather awkward position. The German state knows it cannot make amends for a previous, Nazi iteration of their government having taken the world to war and in the best tradition of barbaric tyranny exercised great effort and determination to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

They succeeded to a remarkable degree starting with a sinister, foreboding campaign to dehumanize Jews, portraying them as sub-human predators on the world stage, seeking to conquer every index of civilizational development through an agenda to acquire power in banking, news, governmental access and the acquisition of properties with the intention of impoverishing nations and accessing their wealth in a notorious global conspiracy. In stopping this agenda, Nazi Germany saved the world.

Democratic Germany, however, cringes with horror at the very mention of the Final Solution and its eventual toll. To this day, 70 years later, the world's Jews have been unable to replace the six million which Nazi carnage destroyed. Even so, passionate Holocaust-deniers spend their lives 'proving' that the death of six million Jews simply never occurred. Look around you; they, the Jews, are everywhere, flourishing and still plotting.

And this woman who finds common cause with the Islamic Republic of Iran and all other Jew-haters is described by the Ontario Civil Liberties Association as a Canadian "political prisoner" in a German prison, charged with a German criminal law of which Canada has no counterpart and is, according to their reasoning, contrary to international law. All this and more unequivocally stated in a letter made public and addressed to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, urging them to act immediately on behalf of this beleaguered woman.

Oddly enough, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's Ukrainian grandfather was a Nazi-supporting anti-Semite, an editor of a newspaper aligned with the Third Reich that vilified Jews and supported the Final Solution. This woman, Monika Schaefer, ran as a political candidate for Canada's Green party in the Yellowhead riding of Alberta, until the party set her candidacy aside with the revelation of her commitment to Holocaust denial.

In 2016 a You Tube video denying the Holocaust produced by Ms. Schaefer and featuring her as the star informant was released. It was released in Germany, by her approving brother, Alfred Schaefer who uploaded it to the Internet. Her brother has also been arrested and incarcerated. What a tragedy.

This photo provided by Paris' Holocaust Memorial shows a German soldier shooting a Ukrainian Jew during a mass execution in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, sometime between 1941 and 1943. This image is titled
This photo provided by Paris’ Holocaust Memorial shows a German soldier shooting a Ukrainian Jew during a mass execution in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, sometime between 1941 and 1943. This image is titled “The last Jew in Vinnitsa”, the text that was written on the back of the photograph, which was found in a photo album belonging to a German soldier

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A Renewable Natural Resource: Who Owns It?

"This is one of those absurd questions where you get tied up in definitions that are not relevant."
"This [seaweed, Ascophyolum nodosum] is a perfectly good photosynthetic organism, and it's a plant."
Professor David Garbary, biologist, St.Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia

"Our operation is absolutely sustainable. We have done an inordinate amount of scientific research and publishing of papers to support what we are saying."
"There's not a lot of opportunities for people in places like Washington Country. A vast majority of people will say, 'You know, this is a good thing'." 
"I really struggle when a special interest group can go and make it very, very difficult for an industry to exist. Particularly when the industry is very, very well managed and everybody’s working together to ensure the sustainability of this resource into the future."
"This seaweed will be here forever, the way we’re managing it. After 40 years of harvesting in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, there is no issue."
Jean-Paul Deveau, president, Acadian Seaplants, Halifax

"I was brought up on the coast [of Maine], and have watched it for 80 years. I know what happened to the gulls and eagles."
"They are depleted, almost gone. Cod are gone. I don't want to take jobs from anyone, but we've got to protect the coast."
"It might be better if it were publicly owned and responsibly managed. But the state was doing exactly the opposite. It’s in collusion with the industry that is exploiting it and doing it without adequate scientific support."
"We think we’re doing more by protecting the habitat and protecting the protective rockweed than they are by cutting it down. We’re providing more longterm benefits to the local fisheries than they are."
Kenneth Ross, 80, retired political science professor, oceanfront property owner

"Acadian is extremely rigorous. We monitor every single ounce [of seaweed harvested]."
"When we hit that 17 percent, we tell the harvester, that's it. Get out of there."
Merritt Carey, head, Maine operations, Acadian Seaplants

"This is a habitat that needs to be protected for its ecological services, not cut down to be sold four cents a pound for fertilizer."
"The highest value for the rockweed is in the water."
Robin Hadlock Seeley, scientist who has researched the effects of rockweed harvesting in Maine 

"There’s nothing wrong with doing the studies, [on potential ecological damage] but I don’t know if we want to deprive people of their livelihood because you think there might be something wrong."
"Particularly if you can’t name what that something might be."
Louis Druehl, professor emeritus, Simon Fraser University, expert in seaweed biology
There is, evidently, some disagreement between good friends and neighbours. Those good friends being residents who live across the border from one another. Where local Maine residents deplore the harvesting of seaplants by a Canadian company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, warning that it harms the biosphere. As it happens, Maine has no lack of Maine-based seaweed harvesters. No word on whether their concern over their harvesting of seaweed to be made into other consumer products has resulted in a court challenge. And here's the story:
From fresh and frozen kelp for chefs and powdered seaweed blends and liquid extracts for people, animals and plants, to salty-sweet seaweed snack bars and melt-in-your-mouth smoked dulse, Maine seaweed companies offer a wide range of products that begin with Gulf of Maine seaweeds. Species utilized include Dulse (Palmaria palmata), Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima), Rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca), Laver or Nori (Porphyra species), Alaria (Alaria esculenta), Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus), Fingered or Horsetail Kelp (Laminaria digitata).
Some seaweed companies in Maine have been in business for decades, and some are quite new. They range in size from one-person artisanal operations to larger companies with national and global business. Many were started as family businesses, and most of these remain this way, in some cases passing down from one generation to the next. 
Maine Seaweed Companies

Yet another jurisdictional dispute between American citizens who love their natural surroundings in Maine, landowners along the most northeastern coast of the United States, and a seaweed harvesting company out of Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy tides, known to be the highest in the world, daily thrash the shoreline, bringing with it living jewels of the sea, crabs, clams, all manner of sea creatures which also thrive in the shelter of the seaweed densely packed along Maine's shoreline where harvesters in small boats use three-metre rakes to cut and pull aboard seaweed for the Nova Scotia fertilizer company they work for in a state where unemployment is too high.

When property owners look out their windows and see those harvesters at work hauling in seaweed, they feel stricken at the loss of something valuable being taken from the natural environment that thrives on the coast and which they feel deprives the other living organisms in that flourishing habitat, upsetting the ecosystem beyond repair. Acadian Seaweed, the company that gives employment to these Maine employees is not viewed with kind regard by Maine property owners who deplore what they feel is the ravishing of a natural resource for no good reason.

They have decided to take the matter before the Maine Supreme Court which will decide whether seaweed should be considered a plant, making it the property of the complainants, or an animal like a fish or a clam in which case it could be harvested by anyone, as fish from the sea are regarded. Fish are mobile, after all, can be born elsewhere and return to spawn where they were born. Lawyers for both parties have been reduced to arguing the merits of considering the seaweed an animal or a plant; the former benefiting Acadian Seaweed, the latter the grievers, Maine landowners.

In Lubec Maine, a town of 1,300 residents, countless complaints come in to municipal offices over the issue. The chief administrator barely knows what to do, and certainly has no handle on who should be doing what, legally. A puzzlement shared by the marine police who tend to shrug away the issue if and when it is broached. "It's a big circle. Around and around we go", a frustrated Renee Gray remarks.

Seaweed features large in trendy initiatives, with food items such as kelp smoothies, health food supplements, beer additives, weight-loss promises and even cosmetics. They are featured as potential biofuels and a source of food for a hungry planet with a growing population. Not, however, rockweed, which is the seaweed in contention in Maine. Acadian Seaplants is a 37-year-old industry commercially processing rockweed, operating in Iceland, Ireland, the U.S. and Scotland, with six processing plants worldwide, the largest marine plant processor in North America.

The company has 28 people employed in Maine to work along the coastlines at high tide. It is hard work harvesting seaweed. Those engaged in the work can earn $55 a ton, considered good earnings in the state. The hauls are hoisted into a transfer boat to Canada, dried and ground to a powder or liquid to be used for plant fertilizer and animal feed. Maine residents are convinced harvesting the seaweed disturbs the 'nurseries' sheltering and feeding a wide array of fish and wildlife. In the easternmost U.S. town on the continent, and Lubec residents are determined to stop the aquatic carnage.

In this undated handout photo provided by Source, Inc., a Gavin Hood uses a “truth pipe” to measure plants to make sure workers are meeting cut height restrictions of rockweed harvested on the Maine coast. (AP Photo/Source Inc.)
According to state records the harvest, which began along the Maine shoreline in 1999 when Mainers began being hired as harvesters, has grown from 131,000 pounds in 2000 to 20 million tons gathered last year. Retiree Kenneth Ross wants it stopped. His cabin sits on a bluff over mud flats where clammers dig with rakes for crabs, clams and winkles at low tide. Local laws permit clammers to enter private property to hunt for aquatic life left high and dry by the tide to be harvested. It is a situation not loved by Mr. Ross when Acadian argues rockweed represents wild marine stock like the clams or fish waiting to be harvested by anyone.

They argue as well that leaving the environment in good condition is also their commitment as they follow state regulations and snip 16 inches above the bottom of the weed, enabling it to regrow, and take care to ensure harvesting only 17 percent of seaweed mass in any one area. And Acadian's Deveau stresses that jobs and environmental protection should be fairly balanced, most particularly so in the poorest county in Maine. It is left to be seen whether the Maine Supreme Court will agree with them.
Rockweed is a very common seaweed found along the coast of the northeastern U.S. and the Maritimes in Canada (Shaina Luck/CBC)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Justin Trudeau's Refugee Showpiece

"[The refugee determination system in Canada is] at a crossroads [ dealing with a surge of claimants it is ill-equipped to manage]."
"[The reforms leading to the Balanced Refugee Reform legislation meant to expedite bona fide claimants and remove those who did not qualify; a system that would be] fast, fair and final."
"[What now exists in the face of illegal entrants has become a refugee population which] significantly exceeds the funding capacity."
"Resourcing and prioritization of refugee removals are not fully at the level envisaged under the reforms [leading to a] failure of finality [creating a] pull [factor for asylum seekers in the belief a pathway will present to allow them to remain in Canada]."
"There is no contingency framework to increase capacity."
Neil Yeates, former deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Asylum seekers line up to enter Olympic Stadium last August near Montreal.   Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Canada is hard put to manage the flood of Haitians and Nigerians whom word-of-mouth has informed the Canadian refugee system will offer no resistance to those entering the country illegally to claim refugee status. From the time that Justin Trudeau offered his smug one-upsmanship to President Trump's hostility to the presence of millions of undocumented illegal residents in the U.S. and his intention to return them to their countries of origin, to the present time where the Prime Minister's cabinet and his Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen, insist that Canada is meeting its UN-refugee convention obligations, economic migrants have strained capacity in this country.

Canada's two largest cities, Montreal and Toronto, on the trajectory of entry from New York State into Quebec, no longer have room to house these declared refugees coming from countries that do not normally produce refugees, thus negating their claims by and large. An estimated 90 percent of claimants when their applications are finally dealt with -- and that could conceivably take years -- will be denied, but until that time of denial and their removal back to their home countries (if they haven't gone underground), they will be taking advantage of Canada's generous social welfare programs in grim competition with Canadians in need of those services.

Europe is struggling to cope with the huge influx of Syrian refugees, others in an unending stream from across the Middle East and North Africa, declaring themselves in desperate need of haven as refugees. Many of them are, in fact, economic migrants who will risk their lives to escape unemployment, lack of opportunity, government mismanagement, oppression and the turmoil of conflict, and in so doing evoking compassion in Europeans unwilling to seem to be responsible for deaths in the Mediterranean by refusing to accommodate the entry to their countries of this human tide.

In Canada, Toronto and Montreal point out their financial expectations to the federal government which has unabashedly used the refugee intake as a uniquely Liberal decency to score Brownie points with the electorate, then left the provinces and their municipalities to struggle with the fallout in needing to house, provide welfare, educate and provide medical treatment to thousands beyond their obligations to their own indigent populations. Both cities, along with others in the provinces are pleading with the federal government to own their responsibility by funding these social services they've dumped on cities.

For the federal government, all their virtuous acts of a compassionate response to humanitarian needs ends with welcoming migrants and refugees into the country, including those entering illegally. Enquiries with government agencies respecting how many of the legitimate refugees brought into Canada fleeing conflict in Syria have settled into the country go unanswered. Countries like Sweden and Germany which have absorbed huge numbers of refugees, keep statistical track of their refugee/migrant populations and their adjustment to their new status in a strange country.

Prime Minister Trudeau enjoys playing with outward appearances, and tinkering with language to reflect his much-vaunted and selfied sunny disposition. Once in power he set about the personally vital task of renaming all government departments and agencies to better reflect his political agenda. The Immigration Department was retitled to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. But monitor how new refugees were settling into Canada? Not so much interested.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, at Pearson airport. Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS

So there are no statistics reflecting whether mostly Syrian Arabic-language refugees are learning to speak English, whether they are working or receiving social assistance. According to the federal auditor general, Ottawa is neglecting its responsibility to make certain that Syrian refugees "integrate into Canadian society". A one-time, years' end report on Syrian refugees two years ago indicated that half those refugees that were privately sponsored had employment, while the larger cohort of "government-assisted" refugees remained 90 percent unemployed, dependent on public welfare.

Updates? Nada. The federal government provided a full year of financial support to those they undertook to bring into Canada for a total of 50,000 Syrian refugees, both government and privately sponsored. Two years later no one can claim to know how those refugees are managing. Enquiries have produced nothing because there is nothing to produce "The Canada Child Benefit has been a godsend for most families", explained Maggie Hosgood, a co-ordinator for over 100 British Columbia United Church congregations which privately sponsored 65 families.

Most families arrived with an average of four children, some as many as ten. "Big families would be doing very well", she emphasized. Syrian parents with four children are able to claim up to $50,000 annually in a variety of taxpayer-funded social service benefits. The Canada Child Benefit provides $6,400 yearly for each child under six; $5,400 for those between six and 17, and provincial welfare can provide roughly $12,000 a year for each adult.

Moreover, many of the Syrian refugees are now beginning the process of sponsoring relatives to come to Canada. Counting on refugees to eventually pay their own way is a long game. Full entry into the workforce and becoming a taxpayer reaches the national average after a few decades have passed, according to European experience. Meanwhile, in Canada, the public is unable to judge how good -- or not -- a job their federal government is doing in creating effective programs of integration when there is no indication of what may be working and what is failing.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Consciously Running a Risk

"We run a huge risk: seeing people leave prison at the end of their sentences who will not have reformed at all, who are potentially even more extreme as a result of their time inside."
Paris prosecutor François Molins 

"The stakes are much higher for government because people are focusing on this issue."
"Now the government is much more afraid than before."
Farhad Khosrokhavar, sociologist, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales  

"If you look across the globe, the cohesive nature of the enterprise for ISIS has been maintained. There's not been any breaking up, at least not as yet."
"I worry about very seasoned fighters who will pop up periodically."
"It does appear that the possibility of this kind of use [inciting to violence through social media sites, along with recruiting for jihad] is growing. [Including floating the use of chemical weapons and other poisons, in jihadist attacks]. And that is a concern to all of us."
Russell Travers, acting head, National Counterterrorism Center, United States
Many people convicted in France on terrorism-related charges are set to be released this year and next. Djamel Beghal, pictured here on his way to court in 2007 after being jailed on an earlier terrorism conviction, was released on Monday; French media reported he was to be sent to his native Algeria.
Many people convicted in France on terrorism-related charges are set to be released this year and next. Djamel Beghal, pictured here on his way to court in 2007 after being jailed on an earlier terrorism conviction, was released on Monday; French media reported he was to be sent to his native Algeria. Photo: Stavel Christian/Maxppp/Zuma Press

France, acting in a spirit of forgiveness -- hoping for positive outcomes on the release of radicalized jihadis, perhaps banking on gratitude to France for their release will indemnify the nation from attack and the focus of hatred will turn elsewhere -- may be in the throes of delusion. Hoping as well that their already overtasked security services will be able to keep track of and react to impending violence to keep the country safe seems to reflect a kind of stunned oblivion to the very real nature of jihad's influence on the faithful committed to martyrdom.

In any event, French authorities have committed themselves to the release of some fifty individuals currently serving sentences linked to terrorism crimes along with an additional 400 candidates classified as being 'radicalized' while imprisoned. The end of 2019 is to see the conclusion of a program for their release, according to the French Ministry of Justice. France has, at the present time, over five hundred individuals incarcerated for crimes linked to Islamofascist terrorism representing a threefold increase in such prisoners in four years.

As though those numbers aren't sufficiently impressive, an estimated 1,200 additional prisoners are considered as having been radicalized, a figure representing an increase of 70 percent since 2015, government data reveal. It isn't quite that French authorities are indifferent to the dangers involved in releasing these hard-core jihadis. They have no illusions about their threat to France. Anti terror authorities have braced themselves for the likely resurgence of a violent security threat deemed to be on the low end since European Islamic State terror cells were disrupted.

As a cautionary but wholly necessary reaction to the release of these jihadis, police in France have taken steps toward the formation of a new monitoring unit attending to former inmates' activities. French security will have its work cut out in staying abreast of the terrorist threat increase resulting from these incomprehensible releases. These are, after all, dedicated Islamists, totally focused on their hatred of non-Muslims, their governments and their goal of intercepting jihadi threats. So luck will be as important as vigilance in apprehending threats.

The public will not be aware for the most part that plots are constantly being hatched which intelligence agencies have the good fortune to detect and prevent from occurring. Both in France and in Germany terrorist plans in the use of the deadly poison ricin have been thwarted. Even while Islamic State appears in final retreat under assault by Kurdish militias and the national military in Iraq and Syria, new recruits are rising elsewhere, in Yemen, Somalia and Libya. While ISIS has a diminishing presence on the battlefield, its long tentacles stretch to recruit elsewhere.

"Europe faces an intense, unrelenting and multidimensional international terrorist threat", according to Andrew Parker, head of Britain's MI5. Social media has helped Islamic State immeasurably in its sophisticated presence around the globe, now using Bitcoin and encryption communications in their underground conspiracies to attack the West in all its vestiges of governmental and social life. Having most of its territory lost in Iraq and Syria, it yet remains in control of some 2,600 square kilometers of territory.

And though many of ISIS's senior commanders have been eliminated, European officials caution the group is hugely successful through its social media campaigns with adherents responding to agree to take on attacks wherever they happen to be, throughout Europe. Although thousands of the estimated 40,000 jihadis who streamed out of some 120 countries to fight alongside Islamic State since 2014 were killed many more are thought to have been fighting in Libya, Yemen or the Philippines, while some remain in Turkey, and yet thousands more have returned to their European countries of origin.

Wherever they remain apprehended, rounded up as prisoners of war as in camps operated by Kurdish militias in northern Syria, those camps have become virtual breeding grounds similar to prison environments in the West, for extremist recruitment and sharing of experiences from which it is entirely possible yet another barbaric group such as Islamic State might be formed and go on to distinguish themselves as a serial copy of al-Qaeda and ISIS, drawing greater numbers to their campaigns of conquest.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Tanzania are all showing signs of jihadi contamination, with groups similar to al-Shabab, linked to ISIS, being formed to raise alarm among those they target for attacks. In France, authorities intercepted a ricin plot by an Egyptian-born student when social media messages caused an alert. In Germany, their intelligence service received a warning from their U.S. counterpart that enabled them to arrest a Tunisian planning to make and use ricin in an attack.

So yes, Mr. Travers, you're perfectly right, global intelligence must take note of this new direction, new series of ongoing threats and remain not only vigilant but actively involved, stretching their inadequate resources past their limits in interests of self-protection from the threat that has no intention of dissolving its virulent appeal among the Muslim faithful.

Smoke rises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014.. © REUTERS

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