Politic?

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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

China's Devious Displeasure

"…at the urging of intelligence officials, Five Eyes countries are leading the way when it comes to reducing ­dependence on Chinese firms in critical areas of the economy. For example, Australia has formally banned Huawei from its 5G rollout while Washington announced it will file criminal charges against Huawei for violating US sanctions against Iran and stealing trade secrets. This ­increases the likelihood of a total ban on equipment made by these firms such as Huawei. Britain and Canada have not made any decision but have expressed security concerns with Chinese firms."
"Of course, credible intelligence pointing to what is at stake is just one element behind any policy decision. The decisive factor is adequate political will to ­absorb diplomatic and possibly economic costs of Chinese displeasure. Washington and Canberra have been the most forward leaning. But the three other Five Eyes governments have been far more reluctant to explicitly ­accept that China is already working against their interests."
"This is why Beijing is shooting itself in the foot. Its exercise of ­arbitrary power over foreign citizens in China is causing the Communist Party to lose the battle for political hearts and minds. Previously the Trudeau government was accused by conservative ­opponents of being too lax in dealings with China. This even included accusations that Ottawa had become naive when it came to national security matters and technological co-operation with China. Last year Trudeau was ­reportedly briefed twice by intelligence officials about the dangers of allowing Huawei to help build the 5G network. Given recent events, it becomes politically difficult for Trudeau to make any ­argument for a softer approach towards China. Indeed, the Canadian leader took the dramatic step of sacking his ambassador to China, John McCallum, after McCallum said the arrest of Huawei’s Meng was unwarranted."                                                                                                                   John Lee, The Australian
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: BRYAN GEE. SOURCE IMAGES: REUTERS

Actually it was the too-public stench that led Prime Minister Trudeau to release old Liberal warhorse John McCallum from the China desk's mission. Like the Canadian prime minister whom he served before this one, Jean Chretien, McCallum believed that all (Canadian economic roads of the future) lead to China. Currying favour and supplication were big on Mr. Chretien's agenda. The solution Mr. McCallum proffered in fact, might have benefited his newer PM had it, or a version thereof been envisioned before arresting Meng Wanzhou, but Trudeau lacked the nimbleness to negotiate his position between the U.S. and China.

A word to the wise might have been all it would take; for McCallum as Canadian ambassador to China, to whisper in the knowingly receptive ear of Huawei's founder that his daughter might do well to rethink transiting Canada in a stopover, despite her comfortable familiarity with Vancouver as the owner of two luxury properties and her former status, pre-warrant as a permanent resident of the city. Once the die was cast, it was a clear expectation never fully realized by the government of Canada that China would respond, but never quite in the ferocious manner it did and does.

Canadian and Chinese flags stand at attention prior to a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China' President Xi Jinping in Beijing in December 2017.
Canadian and Chinese flags stand at attention prior to a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China' President Xi Jinping in Beijing in December 2017. FRED DUFOUR / AFP/Getty Images files

The freezing of diplomatic niceties where China's ambassador to Canada felt free to accuse Canada of 'racism' in a rambling rant, the considerable cooling of a free trade agreement in the works (though to be perfectly fair, Prime Minister Trudeau by his incessant prattling about 'feminism' and women's rights in trade deals as in every and any metric of international exchange put the brakes on a free trade deal pre-Huawei), and the immediate arrest of two Canadians denied legal counsel, held virtually incommunicado, and ultimately charged with 'espionage'; the death sentence of a third for drug smuggling.

But China, as a powerful, influential, assertive and prickly leader (to perceived slights) in world trade and technology, the former through the mediums of undercutting world prices and thus sabotaging international production, along with its many probing successes in military and industrial espionage reflecting the latter, also has a very volatile and vehemently inflatable temper where its tantrums can strike with deadly effect in the most unexpected ways.

About 40 per cent of Canadian canola seed exports normally go to China, but the country has stopped buying  (CBC)

"While there was some initial optimism that Chinese concerns with canola trade could be resolved quickly, technical discussions to date have not indicated an immediate resolution is possible." 
"Canola seed exporters report that Chinese importers are unwilling to purchase Canadian canola seed at this time."
Canola Council of Canada (CCC)

Canada has been warned with dire consequences should it decide, as part of the Five Eyes intelligence community, to emulate three of its partners, the United States, Australia and New Zealand in shutting China's telecommunications industry giant Huawei out of its 5G development plans. That China was enraged with the arrest of Meng Wanzhou at the behest of U.S. justice where she will face charges of misleading American banking officials in the issue of business conducted with Iran despite U.S. sanctions is an understatement. But adding insult to injury by shutting out Huawei will bring the full thrust of the Chinese Communist Party's malignant reaction into force.

And so, though the Chinese population has taken to the use of Canada-specific canola products and China has been the importer of 40% of Canada's huge production of Canola products, that comfortable agricultural success story may be no more. For starters, China has 'identified' quite specific quality issues, refusing to accept shipments that it claims are infested. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has given those same products a clean bill of health, free from any and all impurities but China is adamant; it will no longer accept the product.

China's intimidating, wide-ranging plans for its future as the globe's most influential, important source of everything imaginable from consumer products to AI technology in every consumable sphere may inspire fear and trepidation in the minds of alert world leaders, but in the economies of struggling countries China's willingness to invest and to build critical infrastructure to nominally benefit those countries and hugely benefit China has resonance. To those countries who exhibit a healthy dose of caution in dealing with China it has a message: beware the consequences.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a message of his own to China, in response to its decision to discontinue importing Canadian canola: "We're going to roll up our sleeves and work with the Chinese officials to demonstrate that canola should continue to flow safely from Canada to China."
Great plan, Mr. Prime Minister.
 

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Friday, March 22, 2019

No Way To Populate a Country

No Way To Populate a Country

"At a time when we need more adjudicators to have refugee claims processed faster, how is this [car and chauffeur provided to the new chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board at a time his office is stretched trying to tackle a surge of asylum seekers entering from the U.S.— at a cost of $78,562 annually] going to have a positive impact on the processing time?"
"This is problematic when the board is struggling to find resources and innovative ways to improve efficiency to deal with the growing backlog [of refugee claimants]."
Francisco Rico-Martinez, FCJ Refugee Centre, past chair of the Canadian Council for Refugees
"That money [$1.18 billion over five years in the latest budget,to increase border security and speed processing of asylum claims] was put there in order to ensure we have appropriate border security approaches but also improve the processing speed for immigration Canada."
"So if someone comes across the border [and] claims asylum, we want to make sure we process that quickly so they either are moved back to where they came from, if it's inappropriate, or in the case where they are legitimately seeking asylum, we deal with them in a compassionate and rapid way."
Finance Minister Bill Morneau
Asylum seekers get ready to cross the Canadian border at Champlain, N.Y., Friday, August 4, 2017. The 2019 federal budget promises a new border enforcement strategy that will cost $1.18 billion dollars over the next five years. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Canada -- a roomy, large open landscape yearning to be peopled. The second-largest geographic location that labels itself a nation in the world, with a modest population of only just over 37 million people. People originally from all across the globe, joining the indigenous aboriginal communities long settled in the country. People who have undergone a regulated immigration system to qualify for admission and to make a new life in this broad, diversified landscape of mountains and lakes, prairies and rivers, forests and oceans.

Immigrants who fled persecution in their home countries, looking for economic opportunities away from crowded countries where education, health services and security were all in short supply. Immigrants who arrived with few belongings but great hope and aspiration. For whom, on arrival, no government handouts were available, no services of any kind, and what they managed to accomplish they managed on their own initiative, appreciating the opportunity to do so.

They raised families and their children became fully integrated into the prevailing culture, and themselves seized any and all opportunities to advance themselves, as Canadian citizens with a view to honouring their country and serving their own interests at the same time. It's not as though Canada has just sat back and waited for its residents to gain wealth for the nation blessed with huge natural resources, and to multiply, enlarging the population base by natural means.

Immigration levels in a country of 37 million people are robust, roughly a quarter to a third of a million people annually are admitted and welcomed as permanent residents and eventually qualifying for citizenship to boost the population base. Carried out in an orderly manner, the economy rises and employment is available for everyone and social welfare fills in the gaps temporarily until people establish themselves.

The evolution of mass communication and transport has meant that word gets around and so do people. A change in administration in our neighbour to the south brought a President who resolved to do what his predecessors struggled with to little avail; relieve the country of its enormous number of illegal residents. Causing a mass panic with a spillover into Canada across the border from the United States. People, hordes of people who have chosen to migrate and declare themselves refugees deliberately bypassing legal entry points for illegal entry and declaration of haven-seeking.

Canada committed itself to a humanitarian intake of 60,000 Syrian refugees. Most have been in the country between two and three years, and among those aged 20 to 59 who arrived in 2015 and 2016, 24% of males and 8% of females were employed on Census Day (May 10). This compared with 39% of male and 17% of female refugees from other countries. Since there were no government handouts in much earlier waves of refugee intake and immigration, employment was of necessity higher, even among those with little command of English.

Illegal migrants crossed the border from the U.S. into Canada amounting to 42,000 through several years; people who bypassed legal avenues to enter illegally as a deliberate ploy to declare refugee status and take advantage of Canada's generous social welfare, where even if they are disqualified they will live in the country for two to three years while under Canadian law appealing the decision for deportation, provided with education, health care and temporary work visas.

Last year, Canada welcomed 321,065 immigrants who applied legally at consulates and embassies around the world to emigrate from their countries of residence or birth to Canada. This number does not include the irregular -- illegal entry of economic migrants bypassing official ports of entry to walk across the border with the knowledge that once they declare themselves refugees they will be given access to Canada's generous welfare benefits.

The first wave of illegal migrants represented Haitians living on temporary visas as an American humanitarian gesture following the earthquake and tsunami in Haiti when those who had taken advantage of U.S. generosity were determined not to return to their country of origin at the lapse of their visas, and to enter Canada instead. The second wave was comprised largely of Nigerians who secured temporary travel visas to the U.S. with the intention of arriving there and immediately transiting to the closest border point to declare themselves 'refugees'.


This file photo taken on Aug. 5, 2017 shows refugees who crossed the Canada/U.S. border illegally near Hemmingford, Quebec being processed in a tent after being escorted by the RCMP.    GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

When illegal crossers walk into Canada bypassing official border posts, the RCMP makes a show of 'arresting' them, but in effect, courteously ushers them toward a legal post where they are invited to make their claim for refugee status. This process has seen the RCMP spend over $6.6 million in the past two years to process asylum-seeking migrants at Canada’s busiest illegal border crossing in Lacolle, Que., the expense reflecting  personnel overtime and maintenance of a satellite office, as well as funds spent on buses to transport the migrants, including diapers, baby food and car seats.

Toronto and Montreal have seen their emergency housing totally overwhelmed by the presence of the migrants, accommodation meant to serve the needs of Canadians requiring temporary emergency shelter but now too crowded to fit their needs. The spillover of migrants has seen the necessity of renting hotel rooms, other housing units meant for low-income or homeless people, costing both cities hundreds of millions in costs to feed, house and provide medical care for the illegal entrants.

A group of asylum seekers arrives at the temporary housing facilities at the border crossing Wednesday May 9, 2018 in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

 

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Profit Motive Sidelining Corporate Responsibility and Safety -- Boeing Dereliction

"As the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits. One reason: Boeing charged extra for them.
For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the practice of charging to upgrade a standard plane can be lucrative. Top airlines around the world must pay handsomely to have the jets they order fitted with customized add-ons."
"Sometimes these optional features involve aesthetics or comfort, like premium seating, fancy lighting or extra bathrooms. But other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, and are more fundamental to the plane’s operations."
Many airlines, especially low-cost carriers like Indonesia’s Lion Air, have opted not to buy them — and regulators don’t require them."
"Now, in the wake of the two deadly crashes involving the same jet model, Boeing will make one of those safety features standard as part of a fix to get the planes in the air again."
The New York Times
Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have been grounded in the UK.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
"They’re [manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS)] critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install."
"Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety."
Bjorn Fehrm, analyst, aviation consultancy Leeham

"[The 737 Max will be grounded until] the problem is solved. This country was one of the first to ground the 737 Max planes. That is absolutely the right thing to do. There are clearly some very alarming circumstances around the two accidents [Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302] that have taken place."
"It is something that Boeing clearly have to deal with because, unless and until the problem is solved, I can’t see countries like ours allowing those planes to fly again."
UK Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling
A Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 plane parked on the tarmac of Soekarno–Hatta international airport near Jakarta, Indonesia Photograph: Reuters
It has become standard for manufacturers such as Boeing not to include upgrades that can be critical to a plane's performance and ultimately the survival of its passengers and crew unless the purchaser is willing to pay an additional, hefty fee. Typically, low-cost airlines will consider upgrades as non-essential and opt not to spring for them. In the instance of both the Indonesian and Ethiopian carriers this has proven to be a massive error in judgement.

Almost as serious as the decision by Boeing to extract every last dollar possible out of their customers even if the end result might be airborne carnage.

Upgrades that in fact represent essential standard safety features eliminated because the buyer feels they're unnecessary and the seller feels their product can be used to squeeze every last bit of profit out of a reluctant buyer or they can face the consequences. It's hard to imagine that a 'reputable' manufacturer with global sales could not foresee that it too would face fallout as a consequence of their unwillingness to be responsible unless they're paid to be.

Now that the worldwide fleet of this model of a popular passenger jet is grounded and its future unknown after the entirely preventable mass deaths of two failures in air transport safety, the company deserves the censure coming its way. The company made the decision not to include a critical safety process leaving it up to airlines whether to pay to upgrade a standard plane and regulators are certainly at fault for enabling manufacturers to get away with a situation where low-cost carriers can opt not to buy 'optional' extras.

Safety is not optional.

The stunning communications failures all around demonstrate just how careless all major actors involved have been. When the downed Lion Air plane in a flight previous to the disaster exhibited the threat in its erratic performance and its pilots had no idea  how to respond, an off-duty pilot who happened to be flying with them leaped to the rescue, diagnosing the problem, instructing the crew how to respond to disable the malfunctioning flight-control system, saving the jet and its passengers and crew

That this air crew and the helpful pilot failed to report the incident and the plane once again took off with another crew having as lax training as the previous one, leading to a similar malfunction and the crash into the Java Sea where all 189 aboard were killed is beyond belief. But as hostile to reason as this event was, it evidently has aided investigators in understanding what happened to the Ethiopian airliner March crash and why it is some 737 Max pilots have no idea how to respond when the plane malfunctions.

Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee's report on the November crash contained no data that might have been useful to other carriers with this plane in their fleet, and their pilots inadequately trained in its operating details. The Lion Air crash on its second malfunctioning flight reveals through the cockpit voice recorder on investigation that the pilots desperately checked their quick reference handbook to attempt a response before crashing as the Indonesian officer called "Allahu akbar" as the plane hit the water.

Airline mechanics with Lion Air attempted to fix issues on the plane four times after reports from pilots of incorrect displays of speeds and altitude in two prior flights, replacing a key sensor. Both the plane manufacturer and Indonesia's safety committee are guilty of malfeasance in failing to tend to due diligent safety procedures. In requesting maintenance for the plane that had come close to disaster on its October 28 flight, no mention was made by the pilots of the stall warning and faulty sensor, still delivering false readings when it took off the next morning then crashed.

The March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 followed the same trajectory of events. Now questions are emerging over Boeing's design of the new 737 model, and how they were even approved. The inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department is undergoing a review of the plane's certification while the U.S. Justice Department has struck a grand jury seeking records in a potential criminal probe of that certification.

The U.S. pilot's unions speak of the potential risks of the system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System as having not been sufficiently explained in training. Boeing, required by the FAA to notify airlines about the system in the wake of the Lion Air crash, sent a bulletin to its customers with the Max in their fleets reminding them of the disabling process in response to an emergency.

Had their clients, including the Ethiopian Airlines disseminated that 'reminder' to upgrade the expertise of its pilots, why would the pilots on the March flight not have known how to disable the system?

Priests swing incense over empty caskets draped with the Ethiopian flag at a mass funeral at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa on March 17. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Land Reform in South Africa : Proceed With Caution

We are making history and celebrating the return of your land today. We are righting the historic injustice and returning the land to its rightful owners; [the country’s constitution will be changed to explicitly allow for the expropriation of land without compensation for return of around 4,500 hectares, the first of a number of land claims] that we aim to unlock over the next few months."

"Any failure on our part to reverse the injustices of our past... will result in social instability and economic decline in our country. This we cannot afford."
"As the government, we concede that much more could have been done since 1994 to accelerate land reform. This government is resolute in our commitment to returning the land in an orderly and lawful manner. We shall not allow illegal land occupations."
"The intention of the proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security."
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

 
"We are currently in a consultation process where South Africans are participating in a process of review — we have actually taken the time to participate in this process — and this announcement by the governing party serves only to undermine the process under way."
 "SA needs more black farmers and black farms. Constitutional amendments — and even worst-case expropriation without compensation — may make for good electioneering but it doesn’t make more black farmers."
"[President Ramaphosa’s announcement was] irresponsible electioneering and the leaders of our country should be more vigilant and responsible when it comes to the future of the economy and job creation for all South Africans … We are a full and active participant in the upcoming ANC jobs summit — this position will not encourage us to invest in the sector to create more jobs."
AgriSA president Dan Kriek
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) hands over the title land deeds to Inkosi (Chief ) Mandla Mkwanazi of the KwaMkwanazi community/ Getty Image
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) hands over the title land deeds to Inkosi (Chief ) Mand

"[Expropriation without compensation and economic growth] are diametrically contrasted — and nowhere in the world has this worked in any shape or form. Agrarian reform can only happen successfully working hand-in-hand, in partnership, with the private sector."
"We have seen this movie play out all over world — Venezuela, Russia — the promise for emerging farmers of tools, fertiliser, seeds and extension services are superficial; many have promised this as election ploys — and yet the outcome is always catastrophic for agriculture and food security."
Omri van Zyl, executive director, AgriSA.

"[Ramaphosa’s announcement shows that the ANC has been] forced to listen to ordinary South Africans across the country who have attended public hearings and who have said: 'We want land and we feel the government has not listened to us'."
"People have blamed the Constitution for the government’s inaction over the land issue. I think we are going to head into a new phase now where government is going to be forced to take the land issue much more seriously."
Professor Ruth Hall, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape
Picture: JOHN FEDELE
Picture: JOHN FEDELE

The situation is never as simple as taking the straight-cut initiative without considering ramifications that will ensue as a result of hasty action irrespective of consequences. Who should own the land in any country but its original inhabitants? In South Africa as in other once-colonized African countries up to 70% of the geography is held by whites in a black nation. Colonization has never quite departed the scene; as civilized societies a declaration of independence and self-rule did not include nationalization of properties confiscated by blacks for white ownership.

But there is yet another truth, that as stewards of the land that white colonialists wrested by force of occupation from the indigenous population, the land has been put to good use. When Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe turned his country around from white ownership of the majority of agrarian land, authorizing Zimbabweans who had fought alongside him in its war of independence from white Europeans who named it Rhodesia, violent occupations took place and people were killed. But the upshot of forcibly removing generations of white farmers from their productive farms that fell into the hands of blacks who had no knowledge of farming, no interest in growing crops was disastrous.

The once-thriving economy of an African agricultural-producing giant able to export what its internal use found excessive to their needs resulted, under occupation, in arable fields lying fallow, leading to the need to import food, and inflation soared, the economy sank, unemployment exploded and its currency became worthless. A more recent example of social engineering carried out by ignoramuses is Venezuela where neglect of its infrastructure and celebration of a socialist 'Bolivarian revolution' led to the collapse of the economy, malnutrition, food and medical shortages, massive unemployment and millions migrating out of the country.

South Africans stand now prepared to continue the burial of apartheid by reclaiming South Africa for its indigenous black population. Since the end of apartheid and the departure of Nelson Mandela from its leadership, his successors have, one after the other, mismanaged the economy, failed to support the needs of the greater population living in poverty and neglect, failed to build housing, to increase opportunities for greater economic equality and employment and now faces the demand of its population to reclaim its geographical heritage.

Homeless squatters are now being organized by groups opposing the ANC and its failures, to enter restricted areas owned by white farmers, to put up huts and claim their right to live there, infuriating the farmers and raising the spectre of violent encounters. Where white farmers don't own the land their farms sit on outright, they rent on public land, locked into 50-year leases signed for white farmers by local authorities in the early 1990s at the tail end of apartheid. "We see that land, we must take that land", said activist Zola Ndlasi, 44, leader of a takeover.

The failure of the African National Congress to provide access to black South Africans to land for the black majority has left a taste of betrayal. An ANC program to buy out land from willing white farmers saw politicians ending up with more land than was required by those citizens who were meant to benefit from the exchange. The Economic Freedom Fighters, a spinoff of the ANC, tapped into this frustration to call on black South Africans to proceed with taking land themselves rather than wait for the government to act.

ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa, mindful of voting trends, plans to alter the Constitution for expropriation of land without compensation to proceed. Yet commented in January: "We are not going to allow land grabs in South Africa", with an eye to avoiding international condemnation. A judge ordered squatters on one wine-producing vineyard to vacate the farm, despite which the shacks remain and the decision is under appeal with the municipality negotiating with the farmer to buy the plot on which the shacks sit.

In Stellenbosch, the wine region of South Africa, a black township called Kayamandi is bursting with a swiftly accumulating population abutting several wineries. New residents arrive daily from impoverished Eastern Cape Province, a steady migration of desperation that has made black South Africans the largest racial group in Stellenbosch, outnumbering whites and mixed race groups. Their dire need for housing in this crowded corner of South Africa has led them to face off with white farmers by erecting huts on farm property.

According to a local law, squatters cannot be evicted without a court order once they have lived in those shacks for two days or longer. "If I build a house, then I will leave this for my children", said 20-year-old Lubabalo Mpiliso as his shack was being ripped apart and he resisted, unwilling to return to the two-bedroom government house he had shared with ten relatives. The arrival of black newcomers to Kayamandi who may not vote for the incumbents at City Hall has local politicians loathe to support them, pointing out the squatters are leaping ahead of people waiting for housing.

In one plot on one farm close to a thousand shacks were spread out, leading the municipality to install two water taps. An earlier such occupation in a steep valley established in 2005, has become a dangerously overcrowded shantytown with few toilets and no electrical connections nearby. "We need land, we took land" reads signage some of the protesters carry. The landowner began receiving messages: "They said they'll burn me alive", he said.

Catching attention: Protesters who oppose farm murders march to the US and Australian embassies in Pretoria on October 29. Picture: REUTERS
Catching attention: Protesters who oppose farm murders march to the US and Australian embassies in Pretoria on October 29. Picture: REUTERS

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Overstepping the Bounds of Tolerance

"[Vancouver Rape Relief is] non-compliant with Canadian law [guilty of] systematic, consistent misbehaviour, [as the last women's shelter in British Columbia to continue denying services to the trans community]."
"I can open any organization I want and discriminate against the people I don't like ... but when I start to bring taxpayer funding into this it makes this entire room [council chamber] responsible for my actions."
"There is a long history of discrimination and violence against transgender women. We are a vulnerable group. There’s stigma and shame .. and then to ask for help and have someone on the phone say ’sorry’ you are not women enough for us to help you....’."
Morgane Oger, transgender advocate, vice-president, British Columbia New Democratic Party

"[Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter is a victim of] discrimination against women in the name of inclusion. [Vancouver City Council is trying to] coerce us to change our position."
"We do not have the experience to offer services to people without the same life experience ... this is not our work."
"Because we are an oppressed group who fights for equality we have a right to decide who our membership is and who we serve."
"Rape Relief is strong enough and principled enough and has enough supporters in the community ... we will say no to that kind of money [financial support from Vancouver city coffers that comes with demands]."
"I think it [the demand] is undemocratic and a very dangerous bullying move on [the part of] of councillors ... It says, ‘If you want the money, change how you operate, change your political principles, change your basis of unity'."
Hilla Kerner, representative, Vancouver Rape Relief 
vancouver rape relief
Hilla Kerner speaks to city council about funding for Vancouver Rape Relief.   Vancouver Star

The longest-operating rape crisis centre in Canada has a policy of giving aid and support only to females. People transitioning from male to female who contact the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter will get a sympathetic hearing and advice over the telephone but they will not be admitted to the shelter and they will not receive services from the centre which focuses strictly on women. Because they have been unmoving in their strictly female-centered policies the City of Vancouver has voted to discontinue funding the group.

The measure is a disciplinary one, the city council informing the centre and its board of directors that it is not pleased with what it views as intransigence on their part to continue refusing serving the needs of females born as males; men who have transitioned to women and who become victims of sexual violence. "Trans women are women and sex work is work ... I can't support (organizations) who exclude them" wrote Vancouver city councillor Christine Boyle, accusing the organization of "supporting transphobia".

Aye, there's the rub. You may be sympathetic to the plight of transgender women who elicit scorn from society and who are often targeted with violence and certainly are socially discriminated against. But generally speaking, society at large has become more accepting of alternate-sexed, gays, and others who don't represent the norm. Accepting in the sense that they are who they are. And so the tensions inherent in life as a gay or lesbian or trans, is relieved for the most part of the dangers in being 'outed'.

Problems arise, however, when the LGBTQ-2 community insists that they be recognized as entitled to complete inclusion; marriage between same sex couples was merely the appetizer; the push to guide children into differentiated gender streams, to push for the right to impose upon the rest of society the adamant need to change the English lexicon to address them differently, the yearly exhibitions of crude and colourful 'parades' not pleasing to everyone, has the tendency to invoke annoyance not support among many in society.

And thrusting upon general society the obligation to recognize LGBTQ-2 'rights' to the extent where their charter rights are paramount and the charter rights of others who prefer not to be engaged with them in the provision of services creates yet another burden that many in society are not prepared to shoulder. Born female, and fleeing male violence, the Rape Relief shelter dedicates itself to these vulnerable women; it is gender-specific in its mission.

That trans-activists have enlisted sympathizers to their cause of 'equal' treatment to place the security and comfort of women in general in jeopardy they choose confrontation and slander over accommodation. When transgender women feel they are entitled to impose themselves on groups whose mandate is other than to serve them, they do a disservice to the greater community and to themselves as well.

From 2020 forward, city council in Vancouver has voted to no longer fund any of the activities of the Rape Crisis centre. That funding by no means amounts to their entire operation's funding; the city provides them with $33,972 annually, which the group uses for educational outreach "free and accessible and available to everyone", including trans people. Not good enough for Vancouver council which will deny access to those funds "until such time as the organization makes changes to become aligned with City policies."

In fact, the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter's operating funds amount to $1-million annually, an amount mostly provided to them by the Province of British Columbia. Since its founding in 1974 the centre restricts its core services; peer counselling sessions, shelters or transition homes to women born female. And it has faced criticism for its refusal to admit trans women for those services. A criticism that the centre is resigned to, but refuses to succumb to.

A post-operative transgender woman denied progamming at Vancouver Rape Relief launched a discrimination lawsuit in 1995 against the centre. "She was rejected from the training program because she did not share the same life experiences as women born and raised as girls and into womenhood", stated the centre. And the B.C. Court of Appeals found that argument reasonable, ruling in favour of the centre. When an appeal was made to the Supreme Court of Canada, it was denied.

An East Vancouver candy shop, the Licorice Parlour, had placed a poster advertising a fundraiser for the Rape Relief centre in May, and it became the focus of trans activists resulting in online harassment and slanderous reviews calling them out for being "oppressive" and "transphobic". Women who are feminists tend to support women's needs. Should government really feel that transgender women require similar support for their dissimilar backgrounds adjusting to a new reality a standalone centre specifically geared to their needs becomes an option.

In the meantime, little wonder there is push-back from that segment of society that is fed up with the LGBTQ-2 community believing its rights supersede all others', and in the pursuit of gaining never-ending concessions go on to demand more and in the process don't mind stepping on other groups' rights to achieve their ends using means both fair and foul.


Members of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women¹s Shelter pictured at a 2014 rally to call attention to domestic homicides.Vancouver Province


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Monday, March 18, 2019

Rocking the Appeasement Boat

"[Muslims] may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators."
"The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today, is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place."
"Australians are facing dangerous African gangs and Muslim terrorists more and more frequently. We need castle doctrine and the right to bear arms so law abiding citizens can defend themselves against these murderous criminals."
"Another weekend of African gang violence in Australia. Africans sexually assaulting and bashing innocent women. This is disgusting behaviour that continues to occur more and more frequently as Legislators, Police and the Courts do nothing." 
Australian Senator Fraser Anning
A teenager cracks an egg on the head of Australian Sen. Fraser Anning on Saturday in Melbourne.
Seventeen-year-old William Connolly beaks an egg on the head of Australian Senator Fraser Anning Saturday. The Associated Press

"I would normally not want to give this any oxygen, but I want to absolutely and completely denounce the statements made by Senator Anning ... on this horrendous terrorist attack, with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

"We call on the Australian government to assist in demanding a resignation from this man who blames victims for their own violent deaths, and uses references to genocide to further his hateful agenda."
"There is no place for bigotry. There is no place for hate speech."
Petition, Kate Ahmad Sydney, Harris Sultan, Melbourne
So a Senator in Australia becomes the victim of a teen who wants to post a video of himself starring in a role of avenger of scurrilous remarks about immigrants to Australia and New Zealand and finds himself penalized by said victim who reacts by pummelling him in return. An ego-driven kid with a cellphone and the opportunity to seek instant fame and notoriety by seizing the day stalking and opportunistically victimizing a parliamentarian to demonstrate how audaciously bold he is respecting no authority other than that he anticipates from social media, is defended - the senator mocked.

Of course Senator Anning did the unthinkable -- to provoke this kid's attention selecting him as a target -- by invoking the ideology of Islamism and the culture of lawlessness and violence that accompanies it, infiltrating Western democracies. Which would not of course, had spurred attention had it not occurred in the wake of a horrendous atrocity carried out by a non-Muslim psychopath against innocent Muslims worshipping at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The very name of the city invokes irony under the circumstances.

No one in their right mind would deny the barbarism of the attack, deliberately staged to slaughter innocent people to make an ideological statement which in the end demonstrates that hatred and violence and the wish to slaughter other human beings is the monopoly of Islamist jihadists. But the simple fact remains, attested to by the reality that jihadist attacks vastly outnumber any retributive attacks by non-Muslims, that it is violence carried out by Muslims against others of their faith and against Western democracies and non-Muslims that presents a global terrorist blight.

Anyone who protests against the continuing assault by Muslims actively involved in carrying out the Koranic-prescribed imperative of jihad by any and all means for the avowed purpose of religious-political-ideological conquest in view of the irrefutable reality of attacks around the globe, is held to a standard that the UN-based Organization for Islamic Cooperation would like to have enshrined in law as "Islamophobic", with attendant penalties. The migration of 'refugees' from Africa bringing with them societal criminal violence represents yet another aggravation.

The petition now going the rounds, initiated by a Sydney doctor and a Melbourne author both of the Muslim faith seeks to silence such critics of Islam as Senator Anning. By pointing out in his inimitable manner that Muslims all too frequently make poor prospects for integrating into Western society, accepting the norms of culture, social contracts and values of Western democracies, he speaks to the reality of the situation, considered unspeakable by Western authorities who prefer appeasement.

The tail, representing Muslim immigrants to Western democracies, by insisting on silencing critics and making it an offence under the law to criticize Islam and its practices, is now wagging the dog.

After the egging, Anning strikes the teen in the face and takes another swing before they are separated.
A little blighter and just desserts

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Canada Opens its Doors to Refugees Selectively

"It is weird when you are hiding from an officer instead of someone from the Mafia, because you would expect to be hiding from the bad guys. Now, the bad guys are people who should be the good guys."
"I have to write down which name I used and which wig I was wearing when I meet people. This is what we have been doing day by day for almost six years."
"[Father, mother, brothers, uncles, cousins] all chose that life [Italian Mafia group Santa Corona Unita, Puglia]. I have maintained a distance for a long time."
"One of the first things I learned [as a Mafia child] was, when you hear someone shooting, just drop behind [parked] cars and run from car to car -- and never look behind you. And if you see something, pretend you didn't."
"He [cousin] lived his whole life following the Mafia code. He was going in and out of  jail always."
"They kill people for very stupid things. If they think you know something or want to harm you, they don't double-think it."
"When you start to see people follow you and spit on the ground behind you when you walk, you realize that you don't need an attack or a threat to tell you they are after you. When you have kids, you cannot wait for them to harm someone."
"They showed up wearing bulletproof vests at our address with a big van, with our pictures, showing our pictures to our neighbours. They asked for us. We got scared and packed everything again and went into hiding. Again. From that day, no more school, no more anything. We don't go out as a family altogether anymore."
Alessandra Dimitri, 40, Toronto  (for their protection, names used are not their true names)
The Demitri family are set to be deported back to Italy, where they fear reprisals from the mafia. Photograph: Leyland Cecco

"I needed a link to her family [as a civilian investigator working for police]. I always knew you were a good person and this was enough for me", the father of the family Fabrizio Demitri said in his wife's presence, describing his mission to secure employment with a private security company suspected of links with the Santa Corona Mafia group. And as part of that probe meant to take years, her family was being investigated by him. "It has been a very sensitive issue in our relationship" she says. "Because he knew who I was but I didn't know who he was."

They were married and it was only then that the truth was revealed to her. They are married, they are a family, they are both in their 40s, they have had four children together through the length of their marriage. And because they both are wanted by the Mafia, her for deserting her origins and a danger to them because of her family links and what she knows, and him because it is now known that he had infiltrated them, gained their trust, and meant to help bring them to justice under Italian law.

They ended up in Canada when moving within southern Italy to live elsewhere anonymously failed to work out and their presence had been discovered, leaving them vulnerable and concerned over their children's safety. When they approached Italian police in Puglia where they lived, they were informed nothing could be done since there had been no attack carried out - yet. Besides which they were uncertain what brought the threat down upon them; her denying her roots or his undercover work.

His investigations had led to arrests leading to the mobsters he had associated with looking for leaks and eventually realizing he was the leak. Once it was discovered that he had infiltrated and worked with police he was threatened; his appeal for protection from authorities ignored. They fled a thousand kilometres away, taking shelter in a monastery near Turin in a farming community. Then came a situation where they needed to register an address for health care for one of their sick children, leading them to finally leave Italy in 2013.

They arrived in Canada and asked for refugee protection at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. They have since had two children born in Canada though in 2014 their refugee application was denied. "I have no reason to doubt the claimants' evidence. The determinative issue in the matter is state protection", wrote the Immigration and Refugee Board, unconvinced that authorities in Italy are unable or not willing to protect them.

"The mafia had in excess of six months to harm the claimants and they did not. The documentary evidence establishes that the state protection is adequate", read the IRB decision. And then the couple launched appeals within the IRB, to the Federal Court of Canada, along with a humanitarian and compassionate  appeal citing their two Canadian-born children to bolster their case, as well as their older two children born in Italy who have suffered from post-traumatic stress with their constant moves.

"The family currently does not have status in Canada", a spokesman for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada pointed out, confirming the procedural history of the case and that their humanitarian appeal had been denied since an adjudicator hadn't been convinced their case "justified an exemption", and the Federal Court had declined to hear their appeal. How their case is any less deserving of acceptance than those of Syrians fleeing their country and finding haven abroad is a mystery.

Canada has a Minister of Immigration who was himself a refugee from Somalia. Ahmed Hussen and the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau see merit in inviting Muslim refugees to Canada to shelter them from the deadly atrocities that other Muslims inflict upon them, but the Yazidis, a vulnerable ethnic-religious minority needing protection are proffered meagre opportunities to start a new life in Canada. The rejected case of this Italian family, settled in Canada and far more capable of conforming to Canadian values than many who have been welcomed, shames Canada.

"States are not required to provide perfect protection to all citizens at all times. This is impossible. There are failures of state protection in countries such as Canada", wrote the adjudicator. "The claimants have failed to rebut the presumption of state protection in Italy."  "Italy cannot protect high ranking judges who get blown up by organized crime. Italy cannot protect anyone – including itself", contradicted the family's lawyer, Rocco Galati.
"The Demitri’s story is, unfortunately, very common in Italy. Italy needs state witnesses but it is no longer able to protect them."
"There are people who have been literally abandoned by the state. They live like prisoners, while mobsters are still at large."
Piera Aiello, parliamentarian, member of the national anti-mafia commission
Fabrizio Demitri worked for nearly a decade as a civilian informant for the police. He and his family are set to be deported back to Italy, where they fear reprisals from the mafia.
Fabrizio Demitri worked for nearly a decade as a civilian informant for the police. He and his family are set to be deported back to Italy, where they fear reprisals from the mafia. Photograph: Leyland Cecco

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