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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tailoring New Marketing Opportunities

"I think this is a serious problem. There is definitely a need for doctors to learn how to appropriately prescribe medical marijuana."
"But that should not be paid for by the people who stand to profit from increased sales."
Dr. Joel Lexchin, health-policy expert, emergency doctor, Toronto

"Recreational cannabis is now more accessible and available than medical cannabis, increasing the risk that patients can and will self-medicate."
"Ultimately, we believe the best way to support patients looking to use this therapy is through education for health care practitioners."
Catherine Thomas, spokeswoman, Shoppers Drug Mart

"They are sales people."
"[Shoppers Drug Mart seminars are geared to teaching doctors appropriate application to patients and to] gain practical, hands-on tips [purportedly; while increasing sales potential is the obvious goal]."
Kimberly Elliot, former Shoppers Drug Mart sales representative

"It does seem like the same type of marketing used for pharmaceutical products."
"It is concerning."
Dr. Nav Persaud, family medicine professor, prescription-drug use, University of Toronto
Some doctors say they have no idea how to properly prescribe a product patients ingest through smoking. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

With the legalization of cannabis that took place on October 17 in Canada, a vast proliferation of marketing strategies have arisen. The prospect of a population hungry for the use of marijuana and its byproducts has entrepreneurs, growers, sellers, advertisers glowing with the image of wealth dancing before their eyes. Provinces have discovered that despite a large number of grow operations functioning around the clock, product is in scarce supply; providers have been unable to meet demand.

And one of the first reasons for legalizing marijuana, to defeat the criminal element that markets cannabis among their other wares, appears to have misfired, with users becoming fed up with delays in deliveries and insufficient stock, returning to the security-of-supply their dealers represent. The pharmaceutical industry is elated at their own reading of the expanded opportunities open to them in this new, lucrative market. And it has renewed an old industry function of wooing doctors, favouring them with freebies in the persuasion of professional prescriptions.

The practice of company-sponsored seminars has been enlisted in a new campaign to persuade the medical profession that their suspicion and reluctance to prescribe cannabis is ill-informed, and the glowing promise of marijuana's potential to aid all that makes people ill must be promulgated and in the process persuasively enlist the cooperation of prescribing physicians. Specialist known as "key opinion leaders" (aka salespeople) have joined the fray.

Shoppers Drug Mart, a 1,300-store chain of pharmacies dominating the country's merchandising of prescription drugs, has planned a series of events around the country ostensibly to 'teach' prescribers all about cannabis. Shoppers is busy establishing itself as a major retailer of marijuana. They have arranged for "internationally renowned" speakers representing academic and health-care affiliates to speak convincingly to a practitioner-audience.
Canada has two separate cannabis markets— recreational and medical. (CBC)

No mention made, needless to say, that these speakers have ties compromising their medical neutrality, to marijuana-producing corporate interests and to private cannabis clinics. This is known as the corporatization of medicinal weed and is now extending itself to the sales potential -- clearly the sky is the limit -- of recreational weed the public is clamouring to obtain. Big Pharma once again, engaged in direct-to-physician marketing. Corrupt? Um, could be!

The sessions have a really neat title: "Medical cannabis: the future is now"; got that? Some of these sales seminars posing as medical information seminars have kicked off in Calgary and Vancouver, fronted by a "welcoming reception"; more are in the works for Toronto and Ottawa. The speakers, according to Shoppers, possess a wealth of vital knowledge, and are not engaged in touting cannabis brands whatever.

A Health Canada cannabis production licence in hand, Shoppers clearly plans to become the country's leading seller of marijuana, obtained through other companies producing it. The aim is to permit druggists to dispense medical cannabis by lobbying the federal government to agree with the proposal. Sales, without that dispensing capability by pharmacists employed by the chain are by telephone and online exclusively, with delivery made to customers' homes.

The speakers are paid a pharmaceutical industry average of $2,000 or more for each of their talks at seminars. As for the continuing medical education doctors are exposed to, there isn't much other than what Shoppers is offering. And doctors have been notoriously loathe to prescribe a drug they know little about, a drug in fact that little is known about, since there hasn't been very much research on its effects in the short- and long-term, much less details such as how much is too much, and which types are best prescribed...

There have been studies, however, finding evidence that such seminars encourage less-than-stellar prescribing, the seminars having the effect of persuading physicians in favour of the sponsor's products. Hello? What else is new! In fact drug companies are known to monitor prescription patterns before and following such talks and to respond to the results by dumping those doctors who haven't increased sales.

Speakers include a Vancouver internal medicine specialist, medical director of a private cannabis clinic, and on the advisory board of four cannabis companies. Another, a Toronto palliative-care physician paid earlier to give talks by three marijuana companies; another the director of pain research at a major Toronto hospital on the advisory boards of two cannabis corporation; a Winnipeg oncologist on the advisory board of another marijuana firm; and an American physician who heads his own cannabis consulting company.

"I think it's kind of unseemly", commented Dr. Tom Perry, clinical pharmacology expert at the  University of British Columbia. Quite an understatement.

Shoppers Drug Mart invited doctors to medical cannabis education sessions being held across Canada. (CBC)

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Surging Toward Destination United States

"Trump doesn’t have a heart. He's speaking as if he didn’t have a family, didn’t have children."
"I want to work and work hard and be able to build a house for my mother [back in Honduras]. God’s been guiding me every step of this journey and providing for us."
"I always wanted to take the trip [north,] but didn’t dare to do it alone."
Gabriela López, 20, Honduran migrant heading north with an 11-month-old baby

"We can’t stay in one place for too long."
"Mexico is taking care of us, but our objective isn’t to stay here. The goal is to go northward."
Honduran migrant Jorge Pérez, 29
Migrants mob trucks hoping to get a ride north, in Irapuato, Mexico, on Monday. Photograph: Marco Ugarte/AP

The spectacle of thousands of people assembling for a march that will take them weeks, perhaps months if they are forced to turn back -- and that appears to be the likeliest scenario out of this slowly unfolding drama -- is beyond belief. The very fact that people have convinced themselves that their assertiveness and dedication to a joint project, persuading the United States to open its borders to them when it already is crowded with the presence of millions of undocumented migrants is beyond naive, it's downright delusional.

Every country has the right to decide who and how many non-residents it will formally permit to gain entry. Every nation has an obligation to its own population to ensure a secure and orderly process takes place when introducing immigrants or refugees to their social order. The people making up the marchers, from single individuals to families are not immigrants nor are they refugees. They are self-designated economic migrants who feel that the wealthy United States of America somehow owes them a future.

Coming from countries struggling to lift themselves out of third world conditions and beset with corrupt governments, with crime and drug and weapons smuggling, with an overabundance of criminal elements, it is their countries of origin that are responsible for their well being and that responsibility should be demanded in numbers sufficient to move their governments to action. Instead of imposing a humanitarian obligation to relieve them of their discontent with their lot in life on the United States.
WGN-9 Chicago

They march in their thousands, weary but determined that nothing will stop them, that their destination is the United States and nothing else will satisfy their yearning for another kind of life than that which their home nation has given them. They are wilfully unaware that there is poverty in the United States, that there is crime and drug trafficking and inequality and that many citizens of the United States will never have their own aspirational future fulfilled as they too might wish it to be.

The original caravan with thousands of Central American migrants made its way to southern Mexico, inspiring days later another group in the hundreds to set out after them. The success of the first two in arriving halfway to their final destination simply acted like a contagion and another two caravans have begun their own journey. The perceived success of these ventures gives impetus to greater numbers to join them in a spur-of-the-moment decision that life will be better somewhere else. The greener-grass concept that has always provoked jealousy and dissatisfaction in people.

The knowledge that formal applications must be made for entry to a country to achieve a visa as the first step to applying for status seems to have been deliberately pushed aside. In favour of this increasingly spontaneous mass movement to invade a country that really and truly has no need of their presence and doesn't want them.A country that is not prepared to expend vast sums of treasury to ensure that the marchers will have their accommodation and food and health concerns addressed.

"Everyone wants to form another caravan", commented a Honduran farmworker, Tony David Galvez, 22, one of the marchers in the second caravan. Do they really think they should or would be welcomed happily? Can they really believe they have the right to insist on being taken in and that this right is an obligation the United States must acknowledge? The United Nations has passed a non-binding declaration of just such a right, led by non-aligned nations in a world body weighted heavily by undemocratic and human-rights-abusing nations.

The migrants have persuaded themselves that the American president will recognize the deep faith that drives them forward and compassionately welcome them. They are well aware of the statements that have been issued in the press by this president. Mexico is attempting to alleviate the stress of the migrants. Mexicans have always been at the forefront hitherto of illegal entrants to the United States escaping the same conditions that have been driving the Central Americans.

Security forces belonging to Honduras, Guatemala and to Mexico have made attempts to halt the progress of the caravans, to turn them back, to no avail. Their sheer force of numbers, in the main caravan alone thought now to be around 7,000 and growing and the ferocity with which many of the marchers have addressed efforts to stem their tide by throwing rocks and other projectiles at security forces in their way seems to point to violence in the offing should the migrants be blocked at any point.

Canadians were none too pleased when the United States obligingly issued visitor visas to Nigerians, enabling the Nigerians to legally enter the U.S. for their real purpose of travelling directly to the border with Canada, where they crossed illegally despite clearly posted signage indicating that to do so represented a criminal act and they would be arrested. Arrested? The RCMP escorted them to an official station where they could identify themselves as 'refugees' and make application for status in Canada. Very few of the applicants meet refugee status criteria.

The situation is dire and unpleasant. It is guaranteed that if any measure of success were to be realized by these thousands of determined migrants to enter the United States, it would signal to countless others that a repeat of the marches would meet the same success leading to the virtual emptying of failed states like those in Central America, and such as those in many African countries where the indigenous people would be quick to take the same route to what they believe would be a promising future for themselves.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

It's a Job, God : Feel The Love Flim-Flam

"It's going to be wonderful. We'll be out from underneath that heavy cloud. Now we'll be able to really fly [among the Angels on High]."
"There have been times of elation when I have felt the incredible support and energy of that support and love and affirmation from my congregation and across the country and around the world."
"And there have been moments of incredible despair."
Reverend Gretta Vosper, minister, West Hill United Church, Toronto
Rev. Gretta Vosper is seen at West Hill United Church in Toronto on Aug. 5, 2015.
The Canadian Press
"The dances between these core values [faith in God and 'inclusiveness'], how they interact with and inform each other, is one that we continue to explore as followers of Jesus and children of the creator."
"As a Christian church, we continue to expect that ministers in the United Church of Canada will offer their leadership in accordance with our shared and agreed-upon statements of faith."
Reverend Richard Bott, moderator, United Church of Canada

"Both parties took a long look at the cost-benefit at running a heresy trial and whether it was good for anyone [and] the results speak for themselves."
"They recognized there's a place for Gretta, and that there is no reason to separate the minister and the congregation."
Julian Falconer, Vosper lawyer
Canada's second-largest religious group in Canada has decided that it is perfectly all right for a professed atheist -- one who has openly celebrated her rejection of a belief in a divine being -- to act as minister of one of their affiliated churches in Canada's largest, most populous city. To an onlooker that might appear as gross, ungodly hypocrisy, but it must be understood that the United Church prides itself on being non-judgmental, inclusive and open.

It has certainly be open about condemning Israel for the violence it 'perpetrates' against Gazans who insist on breaching the border between Gaza and Israel the better to attack Israeli settlements. The United Church has divested itself of all 'investments' in Israel, and sanctimoniously urges all other Canadians of 'good faith' to do likewise. It professes to hold Israel and the Palestinians in equal esteem, yet castigates Israel for its 'violence' and 'occupation' victimizing Palestinians, failing to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for inciting violence and rewarding it.

The story today, however, is that of Reverend Vosper, most of whose parishioners think so highly of her that they don't mind one whit her denial of the existence of a supreme being despite that they may themselves believe in God and attend the church for the express purpose of worshiping his only begotten son, himself and whatever else the United Church believes steadfastly in, aside from its commitment to 'inclusiveness' leading them to embrace a minister who fails to embrace God.

Reverend Vosper is relieved she need no longer be concerned over an ecclesiastical court hearing condemning her atheism even as she insists she be permitted to lead a United Church of Canada congregation. Which congregation appears to be somewhat more committed to its reverend than to its God. "West Hill's non-exclusive language provides a church experience that draws participants across a wide spectrum of belief and unbelief", according to Randy Bowes, chairman of the West Hill church board. A social club, perhaps?

In any event the United Church and Reverend Vosper, 60, who has served as minister of West Hill United since 1997, commencing four years following her ordination in 1993, are relieved to have decided on terms of a (confidential) settlement which will leave the good reverend in charge of her church and the church a bit of a conundrum in religious circles one might imagine. Reverend Bott, new to his job as church leader is certainly pleased to get that one over with -- 'whew'!
gretta vosper @grettavosper
Cake and dancing this Sunday @WestHillUC as we celebrate our @UnitedChurchCda heritage and our welcome within its broad spectrum of belief. 3385 Lawrence Ave. E To. 10:30 until the cake is gone and we're tired of dancing!
All are reconciled to being reconciled to a long-standing situation. Not that Reverend Vosper is a rarity among churches of any denomination; she is merely a trifle less discreet than are other religious leaders. Must be something about the new culture in Canada of 'progressivism' so beloved of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As a Catholic, he is most certainly progressively understanding of a woman's right to an abortion at any stage during a pregnancy.

That some of her church's congregants are critical of her disavowal of the existence of God and her disinterest in the verities of the Bible, is of little moment to her; they can leave if they're dissatisfied and go elsewhere, but she no longer is concerned that it would be she meant to depart. Her parting with the doctrine and values of the United Church notwithstanding. Seems she likely precipitated matters when she wrote an open letter to the spiritual leadership of the church.

When the Paris massacre took place at the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo she pointed out in her communique that motivation to commit to 'bad things' could be laid at the doorstep of religion. Complaints followed and the Toronto Conference interview committee set forth to conduct a review, finding (split decision) in 2015 that she was patently unsuitable for the ordained ministry since "she does not believe in God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit". Indeed!

However, things have progressed along a different path, as it happens, leaving Reverend Vosper free to continue her ministry as she will, with no restrictions whatever. As an atheist, free to speak of her non-belief in a theistic, interventionist, supernatural being called God. She will continue to minister to the religious/irreligious needs of her flock. And so be it.

God, are you listening? Are you not appalled? Smite her!

Gretta Vosper holds a Sunday service at West Hill United Church in Scarborough in a Jan. 24, 2015, file photo.
Gretta Vosper holds a Sunday service at West Hill United Church in Scarborough in a Jan. 24, 2015,   (J.P. MOCZULSKI / The Toronto Star)

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Canada's Careful Selection of 'Refugees'

"I know for sure once they are in Moscow I won't see them again. I am sure they will be handed over to the Russian security when they land."
"I don't know why the government doesn't understand it."
"It was a miracle that they were able to escape [Russia]. The bureaucracy did not have time to realize they were leaving."
"We knew what we were doing when we decided to go public. Now it's even more dangerous [for them to return to Russia]."
Olesia Sunatori, Russian emigre, Gatineau, Quebec

"The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that removal orders must be enforced as soon as possible. The CBSA is firmly committed to doing so."
"Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal. However, once all legal avenues of appeal/due process are exhausted, they are expected to leave Canada or be removed."
Immigration and Refugee Board statement

"The key point is that the couple is caught in a sometimes flawed system."
"We are doing the government a favour by seeking to prevent a potentially disastrous result [that would surely eventuate with the Russian couple seeking asylum being returned to the place they fled from in fear of their lives]."
David Kilgour, former MP, human rights activist

"There is no question that she's [Elena Musikhina] at risk of harm if she returns."
"When someone with a refugee case this strong comes to this point, it shows that something has gone seriously wrong."
"Rarely do you see a stronger refugee claim than this."
Immigration lawyer Joshua Blum
Green Party Elizabeth May, left, at a press conference on Oct. 30, calling on the government to intervene in the case of Elena Musikhina, with granddaughter Iaroslava Sunatori, 8, and daughter Olesia Sunatori.
Green Party Elizabeth May, left, at a press conference on Oct. 30, calling on the government to intervene in the case of Elena Musikhina, with granddaughter Iaroslava Sunatori, 8, and daughter Olesia Sunatori. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Elena Musikhina is a Russian scientist in environmental studies who was employed at the Irkutsk State Technical University as a professor. Irkutsk is a city of 600,000 people, located in Siberia. Industrial and military activity around Russia's Lake Baikal -- which has world heritage status as the oldest and largest lake in the world -- has taken a profound environmental toll on the ecosystem health of the world famous lake. As a result of the industrial activity and military presence it is becoming seriously impacted and degraded.

She was informed by the vice-rector of the university in September of 2015 that Russian state authorities were on the verge of accusing her of 'political activism' for pointing out the conclusions of her studies on the environmental degradation being caused to the lake, under the Russian criminal code. Forewarned, she and her husband Mikhail left Siberia for St.Petersburg then left Russia in October 2015 to seek haven in Canada, where their daughter Olesia Sunatori lives.

They formally declared themselves Russians fleeing state persecution, requesting asylum in Canada. And they settled themselves in Gatineau, Quebec, to live with their daughter. Established in Canada, awaiting results of their application for refugee status, Elena Musikhina took part in protests in Ottawa taking place before the Embassy of Russia. But the Immigration and Refugee Board was skeptical of her claims of persecution and turned down their application for refugee protection in June of 2016.

Claiming that the couple had failed to prove they were in serious danger of prosecution under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Board felt justified in turning them down, citing the fact that they had left Russia without hindrance "diminishing their credibility on regards to whether the authorities were seeking them", wrote the tribunal. It was pure good fortune, responded Ms. Musikhina that she and her husband had retained their external passports once their internal documentation had been seized, enabling their departure.

They appealed the board's decision and failed when in July the Federal Court of Appeal declined their request for a leave for judicial review of the rejected clam and were informed last month to be prepared for deportation. Plane tickets to Moscow were issued this week.

Their immigration lawyer plans asking the government to defer removal to enable a "pre-removal risk assessment". Should deferral be granted it would allow government to consider supporting evidence never before reviewed identifying Dr.. Musikhina as an opponent of the Russian government and a critic in particular of President Vladimir Putin.

Even the dimmest mind unacquainted with international affairs must have an inkling of how President Putin views his critics as disposable irritants. For a government willing to admit those falsely claiming themselves to be genuine refugees and placing Canada under a burden of great expense to accommodate the economic migrants claiming that status as undocumented and illegal entrants, this type of neglect when a true appeal for deserving status reflecting real and verifiable need is beyond puzzling.
Elena Musikhina has been summoned by the CBSA for issuance of a deportation order, which she says will deliver her into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin's secret police. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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Friday, November 09, 2018

A Free Woman Threatened With Death

"She is a free woman now. Her writ is being heard. When a decision is made, she will go wherever she wants to go. It is a free country; she is a free national."
"She can go wherever she wants to go. No one can object to that. If a free national of Pakistan wants to go somewhere, he/she has to get a visa and go."
"Nothing odd about that."
Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan Foreign Office
A Pakistani supporter of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a hardline religious party, holds an image of Asia Bibi during a protest following her acquittal over blasphemy
A Pakistani supporter of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a hardline religious party, holds an image of Asia Bibi during a protest following her acquittal over blasphemy Credit: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP

"The lives of Asia Bibi and her family are in danger as long as she remains in Pakistan, as the protests following the verdict have shown."
"We ask that Mrs May takes swift action to help secure the safe exit of Asia Bibi and her family from Pakistan, as the situation is becoming increasingly perilous."
Nasir Saeed, director, CLAAS UK - a charity supporting persecuted Christians in Pakistan
Ashiq Masih and Eisham Ashiq, father and daughter of Asia Bibi. Bibi,
Ashiq Masih and Eisham Ashiq, husband and daughter of Asia Bibi. Bibi, Credit: Teri Pengilley
The arrest on charges of blasphemy against The Prophet that Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman was convicted of which led to eight years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, led to other victims in that fundamentalist Islamist society. Influential people in the governmental hierarchy came to her defense, one the Muslim governor of Punjab who petitioned for a pardon and campaigned for the blasphemy law to be discarded and for his efforts he was assassinated by his own bodyguard who riddled his body with 27 bullets from his assault rifle, in 2011.

Asia Bibi committed a dire offence against The Prophet which under Pakistani law merits the death penalty or life imprisonment. Her offence was to offer to her farm co-workers gathering berries on a hot summer day, water from a container she had slaked her thirst with, and which she had herself brought along on orders from their overseer. It is seen as an offence in Islam for non-Muslims to drink from a communal bowl meant for the use of Muslims. When her co-workers refused her offer, she lashed back at the insult, impugning the name of The Prophet.

A crowd was prepared to lynch her but police intervened and took her to prison where she was charged with blasphemy. The Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs of the Pakistan national government, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, also came to her defence and he too was murdered by Islamist extremists. Although Salmaan Taseer, the Muslim governor of Punjab's assassin was brought to justice, not so with the murderers of Shahbaz Bhatti; he was a Christian, after all.

Asia Bibi's husband has pleaded for asylum from the West, for his wife and their family. He spoke directly of haven, mentioning Canada, the United States and Great Britain, imploring them to help move his wife out of Pakistan and to safety: "I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom." Britain has a huge expatriate Pakistani population, but there is also a smaller Pakistani Christian demographic in Britain.

It doesn't appear likely at this point that Britain will respond affirmatively, obviously not wishing to roil the passions of its own Pakistani population to express their disfavour by riots similar to those that have broken out in Pakistan. Ashiq Masih then turned to the Netherlands, hoping for a visa and safety there, but the response was that Dutch law requires one to be present in the country to request a visa. The U.S. under President Trump is unlikely, given his [fairly accurate] resistance against the entrance to the U.S. of people from "shit countries", to offer haven.

Which leaves the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which has unlimited patience for the unauthorized, illegal entry of economic migrants posing as refugees, from Africa, Haiti and the Middle East streaming across the border from the U.S. into Canada at illegal entry points, clearly posted as such. Asia Bibi has some strikes against her that would be attractive to the 'progressive' in Trudeau; she is a woman and a woman of colour, and she is persecuted. If only she was a member of the LGBTQ2 community he might be inspired to offer Canada's protection.

Pakistan has a population of 202-million, the vast majority of which are Muslim. A recent national poll revealed the presence of ten million Pakistanis willing to themselves kill Asia Bibi as a sacred Islamic duty in punishment for "blasphemy", or to do so because they are attracted to the reward that is offered. A large cash reward has been offered by one Pakistani mullah for anyone who kills the woman, whether while in detention or on the street.

On the street is sufficiently problematical for the government which winces at the reputation it has earned on the international stage for violent intolerance and national laws that victimize non-Muslims that she cannot be released, though freed by order of the Pakistani supreme court which acquitted her of the absurd charges. So there is no longer any fear the state will proceed with her execution, and no guarantees that vigilante mob action won't proceed to mete out their own version of justice to a blasphemer. It's the Pakistani way.

Bibi's lawyer, a man of exceptional courage, saw the expedience of making himself scarce. Saiful Malook fled the country in the wake of the acquittal of his client, because death threats were extended to him and to his family for his part in support of his client and subsequent outrage at the outcome of the supreme court's ruling, dismissing her previous conviction as "nothing short of concoction incarnate".

The streets of the capital and other cities have been rife with protests, screeching accusations against the supreme court, and insistent demands that Asia Bibi be executed. She must be allowed to leave the country and to live elsewhere, in peace and security. What better place than Canada? In 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti visited Canada and met with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who offered him refuge in Canada, aware his life was in danger. The Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs thanked the prime minister, but returned to Pakistan where several weeks later he was murdered.

A Christian woman in Pakistan is persecuted and threatened with death as punishment for uttering unguarded sentiments born of a lifetime of persecution. A Pakistani woman living in Canada insists she must insult Canadian mores and values by taking her oath of citizenship while wearing a niqab so no one officiating nor anyone else becoming a citizen of Canada is able to see her face; a clear rejection of the Canadian social contract and an expression of contempt for fellow Canadians. She is given legal clearance to do just that.

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

More Canadian Slime Seeping Out Of Islamist Sludge

"[The man born in Toronto] managed to bring blessed victories for the Caliphate state by carrying out electronic attacks that have made the enemies taste defeat and failure." [MEMRI translation]
"[He determined on graduation to ignore university], deciding to attend the university of monotheism and jihad in the cause of Allah." [SITE Intelligence translation]
Martyrdom notice, Al-Muhajireen Foundation

"I'm not sure who this guy is but I think it is very much a different Abu Osama Al-Kanadi than Farah Shirdon. It is common for different fighters to use the same kunya -- the same jihadi name. It's like a nom de guerre."
"I'm not surprised a Canadian could be among them. I just don't know who this guy could be, because it sounds like he is a white convert."
"There are not a whole lot of white Canadian converts who went [to join Islamic State in Syria]."
Amarnath Amarasingam, senior Research Fellow, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, University of Waterloo

Amazing how the West produces these Islamist jihadis out of men who were born, grew up, attended school, presumably interacted with non-Muslim majorities wherever they lived, but ended up rejecting democratic norms and the social contracts of Western democracies. So much for the integration of Muslims into the mainstream society of wherever they settle, away from Muslim-majority countries of their ethnic origin. All the more so when the adherents who run amok happen to be converts to Islam.

And that appears to be the case with a newly-identified 'martyr' of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant whose death notice was recently spotted on an online site popular with purveyors of death and destruction in the name of Islam. Published in Arabic, the glowing notice of appreciation for the heroic enterprise of this Canadian Islamic convert was seen by and interpreted for distribution by both MEMRI and SITE. Which doesn't speak much in praise of Canada's own intelligence services.

Bringing notice to the West of yet another sterling example of the successes of multiculturalism and the penchant for Islam to ignore and set aside the laws and customs of other nations to replace them with their own. Much less the prevalence within Muslim groups living in the West to glorify jihad and extol its virtues to the young and impressionable looking for excitement and a 'just cause'. Not that the far reach of the Internet and its dark inspiration doesn't play a hand in recruitment.

Canada's intelligence agencies are now aware of the fact that it was a Canadian behind the high-profile cyber attacks courtesy of ISIL that discombobulated Western governments when their high-echelon websites from banking institutions to military websites were invaded and degraded with the installation of Islamic State imagery and mocking messages meant to humiliate -- and succeeding.

According to experts in terrorism, the Arabic-language notice unveiled the presence and achievements on behalf of Islamic State of a hitherto-unknown Islamist of Canadian provenance, a convert to Islam who scorned ongoing life in Toronto in favour of joining ISIL's sacred war against the West. His identity was initially confused with yet another patriotic Canadian who chose to join ISIL and who shared the same jihadi identity: Abu Osama Al-Kanadi.

This was the well-identified Calgarian, Farah Mohamed Shirdon who shilled for Islamic State, inviting others like himself to muster their outraged courage and join him in the righteous battle of conquest in the name of the Prophet and Allah the almighty. In the posted memorial the man being lionized was said to have been born in Toronto to a Christian family which then chose to convert to Islam when the hero was seven years of age. He was thereafter raised with an Islamic education. (!?)

Multiculturalism. Immersion in the indigenous Canadian culture, mores and values. Spurned for a religion extolling itself as one of peace, while identifying all other religions as those of war-mongers and non-Muslim nations as representatives of perpetual conflict, as opposed to Muslim nations that reign in peace, security and good government. A keen student, this man, excited by computer programming. He set out to offer his expertise to ISIL.

The U.S. Central Command overseeing American military operations in the Middle East knows firsthand how accomplished a hacker he was: "AMERICAN SOLDIERS. WE ARE COMING. WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS #CyberCaliphate" loomed on their website along with anti-American messages. Humiliating? Rather...! Particularly when U.S. military plans were accessed along with names and addresses of American soldiers, and ISIS videos were showcased on CENT-COM sites.

And the obverse was also the case with this valued member of ISIL ensuring computer security for the caliphate, protecting it from cyber attacks "by the forces of disbelievers and darkness". Killed by a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria at some unknown date. What a loss....


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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Righteous Blunders

"[GAC is] holding ourselves to a higher standards on the export of controlled goods from Canada, very much including with respect to human rights."
"Should the Minister be concerned about serious potential violations of human rights, she has the power to reject new permit applications and suspend existing permits, as she has done before."
Adam Austen, spokesperson, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

"We continue to work with our allies around the world to ensure that we have answers about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi."
"As I said, we are looking at export permits for Saudi Arabia."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"While a one-year increase is not a trend, we hope the government will keep monitoring and resourcing the permitting system so they're able to respect their own service standards."
"In our opinion, it shouldn't happen at the permits stage. The permit stage is when companies have often times already invested millions of dollars pursuing an opportunity in a country."
Chrystyn Cianfarani, president, CEO, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries

"Saudi Arabia doesn't buy these weapons because it actually needs the weapons, primarily. It buys these weapons as an investment in the partnership [to expand trade and diplomacy ties with Canada]."
Thomas Juneau, expert, international affairs, University of Ottawa

"Saudi Arabia still has enormous wealth and powerful cachet."
"It will continue to be a crucial economic player, and it cannot be ignored. The question is whether business as usual will go on."
Bruce O. Riedel, former C.I.A. analyst, expert on Saudi Arabia 
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference Monday that Canada stands by its comments about human rights in Saudi Arabia that led to diplomatic sanctions from the country. (Jimmy Jeong/Canadian Press)

A week after Jamal Khashoggi -- the Saudi dissident journalist being portrayed by the West as a moderate but fully as invested as any other Islamist in fundamentalist Islam, as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood -- mysteriously disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkey gleefully disclosed grotesque information about his strangulation death, dismemberment and the acid bath his body was dissolved in, despite Recep Tayyip Erdogan's own nomination by global journalism as the world's number one crackdown on journalists, one of the world's largest oil and chemical groups, Total, announced a 9=billion euro joint venture with Saudi Aramco for a refining and petrochemical complex in Jubail.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the opening ceremony of Istanbul’s new international airport last week.   CreditBulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So much for speculation that Western investment and financial interests plan to draw away from business with Saudi Arabia following suspicion that the Kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the ghastly assassination of a detractor. It was, no doubt, the bold stupidity of carrying out a murder in such a transparent, clumsy manner that has forced the world community to express its horror and condemnation, overlooking the more hugely murderous impact of a war in the Islamic world's most poverty-stricken country, Yemen which has produced vast deaths, dislocation, disease and famine.

Children play amid the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 8, 2015. (Hani Mohammed/The Associated Press)

The United States has celebrated a decade of $138.9 billion in sales for military contracts with its Middle East ally, Saudi Arabia, and has no intention whatever of any diplomatic schism; after all if 9/11 failed to elicit horrified concern of Saudi Arabia's obvious role in the attack by those of its Wahhabist alumni, why would the death of an obscure journalist whom death suddenly made famous do so? BAE and Thales of France have similarly profited from the export of 57=billion in euros worth of armaments to Riyadh from 2001 to 2015; a profitable business, for all involved in relieving the Kingdom of its oil profits.

Even Japan is gaining $45-billion in a contract meant to provide technology investments to further modernize the Saudi economy by 2030. AMC movie theatres and French hotels have become part of a $500-billion plan for a modern city to be named Neom, set to rise from the sands of the Arabian desert by 2025. Everyone wants to get in on the action. Vast fortunes to be spent and to be gained, and greed is a powerful incentive. J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley are aiding Saudi Aramco in its negotiations to invest a majority stake in a Saudi chemical maker.

More, much, much more. The British government has a solid relationship with the Crown Prince and plans to stabilize and grow it, as Britain prepares its leave of the European Union. France, the third-largest foreign investor in Saudi Arabia after the United States and the United Arab Emirates, has no intention of cutting off a remunerative source of stability for the French economy. It sold 11-billion euro worth of arms in the last decade, approving licenses for more sales to the value of 14.7-billion euro more latterly.
A Canadian LAV (light armoured vehicle) arrives to escort a convoy at a forward operating base near Panjwaii, Afghanistan, at sunrise on Nov. 26, 2006. The number of LAVs being sold by a Canadian company to Saudi Arabia in a controversial deal brokered by Ottawa is being cut. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

It may have been the government of Stephen Harper that initially signed the agreement to provide Saudi Arabia with Canadian made light armoured vehicles (LAVs), but it was the subsequent government of Justin Trudeau that saw fit to complete and authorize the $15-billion sale, the largest in Canada's history of weapons sales anywhere; too rich an agreement for any government involved in RealPolitik to set aside out of its concern for humanitarian issues. The Trudeau government has resisted calls for the cancellation of the contract, warning it will cost Canadian taxpayers billions in penalty fees.

When Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland whimsically tweeted a rebuke to Saudi Arabia over the arrest of two female dissidents it was a throwaway for her, with no thought of the consequences, a whopper of a bloop fairly unreflective of someone whose workaday life is involved in diplomacy. But she was exercising her feminist credentials. When the first sign of fallout was sniffed in the air, she instructed her department to repeat her casual tweet in English and in Arabic as though this would be an officially diplomatic overture.

Both the department and its minister know that a private approach on the matter is called for, not a public embarrassment risking relations. Properly done, conveying Canada's concern might have borne fruit. The rebuke, a laudable one, was simply wasted given that casual treatment, and it was that public, casual treatment that elicited the undiplomatic wrath of a powerful country whose investments in Canada were withdrawn as were its diplomats, all trade ceased, and Saudi students enrolled in Canadian students and deployed to Canadian hospitals as medical interns recalled.

It is precisely because this Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau is so preciously 'progressive' that it has managed to estrange itself from the Trump administration through high-handed one-upsmanship by Trudeau, so infuriating his political-and-personality counterpart to Canada's detriment in trade, that he has sought to more closely align himself with Europe, itself human-rights-oriented through the EU, and 'progressive'. Canada, thank you, is now finding itself left an orphan on the stage of upbraiding and defriending Saudi Arabia. Tut-tut.

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