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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Switzerland's Stand

So, it's come to that. The surface neutralization of the appearance of a Muslim minority representing 6% of the population in Switzerland. Symbolic, the move, nothing but. Putting that 6% of the population on notice. They are there, on sufferance. The majority have their suspicions. They resent the dilution of their society, their traditions, their values.

Formerly immigrants have seen it in their best interests to absorb themselves into the general social community. On the other hand, immigrants have always sought solace and reassurance in the familiarity of enclaves of their own. Which needn't have led to total parochialism and separation from the majority society. And, in some countries, to a sense of unacceptable entitlement.

Where, for example, in England, Muslim clerics clamored for Sharia law. A parallel system of law meant to settle strictly-Muslim problems under the letter of Islamic interpretations of a law specific to Muslims. And where many of those same clerics openly agitate for the eventual Islamification of the entirety of Great Britain, a most tolerant country, up until now. That tolerance slipped a notch with the reality of home-grown jihadi cells.

There are estimated to exist 130 to 160 Islamic cultural and prayer centres in Switzerland. Of those, four mosques bear minarets. Traditionally, in Muslim countries, the call to prayer has issued from minarets. In Switzerland that tradition has been banned. The tradition of a muezzin or a recording being played loudly at prayer times throughout the day and night even in majority-Muslim countries has been altered. In non-Muslim-majority countries they are considered a social irritant.

The Swiss, under the encouragement of their right-wing Swiss People's Party, have expressed the level of their discontent, their disgruntlement, their disfavour of the presence of a sizeable minority of immigrants whose customs and traditions may have seemed tolerably quaint originally, but now seem irritatingly intrusive and abusive of their own traditions by voting out the symbolic presence of what they term Muslim visual militancy. They have, as a result, voted what amounts to an insulting slap at Swiss Muslims; no minarets.

A perceived blow that has had the result of reflecting Swiss fears onto their Swiss Muslim population. Who feel insulted, discouraged and humiliated. As only second-class citizens can be made to feel. And if anyone looks for which of the cultures should be blamed, they will have a hard time doing it. People have an ingrained tendency to wish to protect what they value, and what could be more valuable to any society than its national mores, traditions, culture and values.

When a steady infiltration of what amounts to a foreign element has lost its appeal as uniquely harmless and becomes threatening, transforming of the norm, resistance rears its head. This is human nature. East is east and West is west and they mix like oil and water, despite our most resolute intentions otherwise. The truth is there must be a sense of received trust that the 'other' will accommodate himself to the reality of the majority.

In a country like Israel, there is a move before the Knesset to outlaw the 4 .a.m. call to prayer as an irritant to non-Muslims, as it "wreaks havoc in Jerusalem", and in other towns and cities in the country where Muslims reside. It is pointed out that this does not occur in Turkey and Egypt as well as other majority-Muslim countries where a "silent radio station awakens" Muslims every day with a call to prayer.

Muslims are not totally innocent in the fomenting of suspicion and fear among a welcoming population in the West. There are many, if not most Muslim countries whose populations viscerally hate Jews; hatred for Jews is deeply entrenched in the culture, and can also be state-sanctioned. They bring this pathology with them and spread it in countries where they emigrate. Countries that celebrate their pluralism, discover that their new citizens do not.

There are fences of accommodation to be mended on both sides. But it is more stringently incumbent on people who migrate to other countries - to attain a better quality of life for themselves than what obtained in their countries of origin - to engage in introspection about the inappropriateness of some of their cultural traditions. To make themselves knowledgeable of the social mores acceptable where they now live.

And adjust themselves accordingly.

As they would be done, they must do unto others.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Equality Under The Law

Unless, of course, you're a militant First Nation thug, and then you're viewed as being beyond accountability to Canada's universal laws. None of Canada's levels of governments, none of their policing agencies have any great desire to confront militant 'warriors'. The public is confounded by the situation, no less so than the government and police are themselves.

Everyone shuns the potential of being proclaimed racist. To challenge the right of First Nation thugs to take the law by storm is to risk being labelled anti-aboriginal, an intolerant bigot. The air of public ostracism hangs heavily over those who cling to the quaint idea that all Canadians are subject to the law of the land.

But wait: Canada's aboriginal population clings to the naive conceit that they are not subject to Canadian laws simply because they claim to acknowledge First Nation law and as such are exempt from laws enacted to protect and constrain all Canadians. Laws meant to uphold freedoms and rights entitlements, and to see justice done in all matters of society, absent aboriginal society.

Their protection is special and above and beyond the laws that pertain to most Canadians. Which state does not in any way impede the orderly hand-over of $50-million in funding from all other tax-paying Canadians, who in good conscience agree to pay for health and education. None of which is anything to shout hallelujah about, to be sure, since the state of aboriginal health and education on reserves is beyond dismal.

The lawlessness that is too often seen in border communities, self-policed and -governed, between the U.S. and Canada, in weapons, tobacco, drug-running is of primary concern to both countries. There is some agreement between both governments and the independent First Nation communities in attempting to clear it up. But the on-site manufacturing of illegal cigarettes? Forget about it. Content regulations, tax collection, none of this is anyone's business.

Contraband tobacco sales represents big business and huge profits, and this is an internal matter, that might also incidentally, include organized crime, making for quite the illicit and profitable alliance. To suddenly rouse themselves from the slumber of don't ask, can't see, won't act and get their act together brings nightmares of Canadian forces military personnel confronting masked Mohawk Warriors.

And the counterpart in land occupation and government and police silently agreeing to a hands-off approach with respect to other native warriors occupying land claimed by aboriginals, in the process setting ambushes for ordinary Canadians, setting bridges on fire, cutting off major highways, and dismantling and destroying houses under construction, yet another preferential-aboriginal treatment.

No one can honestly claim that First Nation peoples can't demonstrate their creative responses to government ineptitude and disinterest in settling land claim disputes. Nor their industry in enabling themselves under their own system of independent native jurisdiction under their own laws to prove that they are not subject to Canadian law.

These stand-offs leaving government and police perplexed and disabled make a mockery of Canadian law. Where a vulnerable people is represented by an undisciplined, belligerent group of thugs empowered by the government's own inept inability to respond adequately to land claims. And to wipe the slate of unsettled claims clean. Then moving on to cut the cord of government intervention in native affairs.

Including the funding given to the Assembly of First Nations which institution has itself spectacularly failed to serve the best interests of their people. Funding should be re-directed to discrete bands and native reserves who demonstrate their intent and capability of serving their people, not their own individual interests.

Unless and until they recognize the utility for the advancement of their people in leaving reserves that are clearly geographically isolated, where there are no opportunities for employment, where health care access and education standards are substandard, where the residents have no real investment in the homes whose conditions they deplore yet ignore, and where the only recourse to boredom is alcohol and drug impairment.

Given the opportunity there is no good reason why Canada's First Nation peoples cannot integrate into general society, taking advantage of all opportunities available to advance themselves generally and singly, while still honouring their heritage and traditions. Everyone would stand to gain.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ah, Human Nature

Well, here's the City of Paris's well-publicized venture into social re-structuring in its efforts to entice people to switch from car use to exercising their limbs by pedalling throughout the city. And to make it all very convenient, thousands of really first-class bicycles would be made available at depots cunningly placed throughout the City of Lights. So Parisians, or tourists could avail themselves of the use of these bicycles at modest cost.

How thoughtfully creative can a municipality get? How grateful should the citizens be that their city councillors are so invested in a sense of civic responsibility and an obvious acknowledgement that every little bit helps in the battle against climate change? Well, moderately grateful. Doubtless many people who have made use of the bicycles have appreciated the thought and the availability of alternate modes of transport.

Both in practical terms and for recreational purposes. No fuss, no mess, just park the bicycle, once it has been made respectful use of, in the correct area, taking care to observe the method to be used. And everyone gains. Less pollution in the environment, more opportunity for people to get around in a pleasant manner while also shedding sedentary habits.

But the "Velib" bike rental system has encountered some hiccoughs, it would seem. The company, JCDecaux, which operates the scheme on behalf of the city has had to replace sixteen thousand of the bicycles. Conveyances celebrated for their convenience, but which were returned to the rental stations with twisted handlebars, torn baskets and, alas, crushed wheels.

Some, in fact, were never returned to the depots, but were fished out of the lovely Seine, in deplorably rusted condition. Eight thousand have entirely departed the scene. Some of those eight thousand, painted a readily-identifiable grey, have been seen on the streets of eastern European cities. Oh dear. Talk about best-laid plans going astray....

"It's quite simple. The entire fleet of 20,000 Velib bikes has been replaced at least once", according to the director general of JCDecaux. Mr. Asseraf explained that the bicycles often became damaged as a result of first-time users failing to lock them properly in the stalls provided, thus providing an opportunity for malicious theft and damage to occur.

Is the city in despair over this, are they prepared to call it a day, consider this a well-thought experiment gone awry? Nothing of the kind. On the other hand, something really must be done about this maltreatment of public property. So studies are to be conducted to address the problem.

Which begs the question: are Parisians so lacking in civic pride?


Friday, November 27, 2009

Sounds Just Fine

This current Conservative-led government has suffered more than its share of criticism from opposition parties and from interests within Canadian society who confuse rights and entitlements of citizenship with the hard place that Canadians who choose to commit egregious criminal offences abroad find themselves in. Nowhere is it written that any society cleave to its citizens' 'rights' in insisting that their psychopaths who murder while in another country, must be swept back to the comfort of a prison 'at home'.

This government has been criticized harshly because of its decision to respect the justice system of other democratic countries who have exercised their system of law in determining the guilt of foreign malefactors, who have done grave injury to their own citizens. This not only respects the law of other countries, but recognizes that people exercise free will to act as they do, and must pay the penalty associated with their decisions to harm others.

This is as true in the case of a mass murderer as it is in the instance of Omar Khadr, held as an enemy alien for his part in the Taliban-led insurgency against NATO military forces assembled in Afghanistan to deliver the country from Taliban and al-Qaeda rule. Mr. Khadr, now adult, deemed a 'child' when he was taken into custody after battle, reflects the pride that Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and their ilk take in grooming 14-year-old children to jihad.

New legislation that the current government has proposed, in amendment of the International Transfer of Offenders Act, permits the minister of public safety to block the return to Canada of convicted offenders, recognized as a threat to the safety of the public. The minister will be able to bar return of any incarcerated Canadians recognized as likely to re-engage in criminal activities.

With particular emphasis on those psychopaths within society whose pathologies inflict danger on children. Inclusive of offenders convicted of sexual abuse. This amendment is in direct response to Federal Court Justice Michael Kellen rejecting the government's position that allowing a convicted child molester transfer to Canada to serve out prison terms here, might threaten the security of Canadians.

The emphasis now on determining how the ministers of the government may proceed in protecting the best interests of Canadians, is to broaden the allowable criteria by which a proposed transfer may be blocked. While critics of the government accuse the government of ignoring the needs of Canadians caught in foreign justice systems, the truth is, their own criminal actions put them there.

And most reasonable Canadians would line up alongside the government in agreeing that those of society's moral transgressors who have committed truly grave criminal offences, can sit in those foreign jails and wait out their penalties.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Captivating Learning Experience

It is a matter for celebration when those who have been abducted in foreign countries have somehow been rescued from the scene of their unwilling captivity. On the other hand, you've really got to shake your head, at least metaphorically, at the insistent incaution of those who believe they're somehow immune from harm when they venture into dangerous situations.

In the case of Canadian Amanda Lindhout, a self-proclaimed independent journalist, with, actually, no journalistic background, who nonetheless thrust herself into a geography fraught with danger, and not without prior knowledge of previous abductions of foreigners by terror groups or just plain criminal gangs, the ignorance is appalling.

This woman obviously felt she had a calling, to report on situations prevailing in dangerous parts of the world. She ventured into Somalia, a country wracked by civil war, where danger lurks everywhere, thanks to the utter ineptness of its hapless government in securing even a vestige of law and order for its citizens.

Where, in fact, an Islamist insurgency is ongoing, and where the Somalians are caught in an ongoing cycle of brutality, oppression and privation. In the company of an adventurous Australian photographer and a Somalian journalist-driver, she left the capital, Mogadishu to interview refugees in an area distinctly outside the zone of government security, such as it is.

Where they were all speedily taken captive. Ms. Lindhout cannot have been ignorant of that potential. Government of Canada representatives attempted to dissuade her from entering the country, emphasizing the danger inherent in travelling there. She was adamant; it was her intention to travel there, and to report from that country.

Which is why, on August 23, 2008 she, the photo-journalist and a Somali journalist drove 20 kilometres outside Mogadishu in a mission to retrieve stories about internally displaced unfortunates, hoping to sell them as human-interest fodder to news agencies in the west. Once outside the city's perimeter they were sitting ducks. Ambushed and taken from their vehicle, they became prisoners of high value.

"It was extremely oppressive. I was kept by myself at all times. I had no one to speak to. I was normally kept in a room with a light, no window. I had nothing to write on or with. There was very little food. I was allowed to use the toilet exactly five times a day", she lamented after her release. And, she was also beaten, she testified, repeatedly.

The governments of Canada and Australia intervened as much as possible, on behalf their nationals, interacting with the government in Mogadishu, but getting nowhere in their attempts. They were captured not by rebels, nor fanatical religious ideologues, but extortionists, and perhaps in collusion with some government officials.

The only purpose in their being apprehended, was to be able to trade them off for cash. Big cash ransoms, in the millions, on the received wisdom that western countries would pay, and handsomely, and anyone who lived in such well-endowed countries had more than ample millions to spare. And, in any event, in lawless countries anything goes.

In a sense, then, Ms. Lindhout and her photojournalist companion Nigel Brennen, shared the experiences of the desperate, ill, malnourished refugees they sought to get stories out of to pay their bills and ramp up professional reputations. Western governments balk at paying ransom, recognizing it as giving a green light to further abductions of their nationals.

In the end, it was Ms. Lindhout's family, and likely that of Mr. Brennan's, who anted up the ransom, mortgaging their home, lending money where they could, asking for the support of extended family and sympathizers, to come up with the ransom required to set them free, coming somewhat short of the one million finally agreed upon, but seemingly acceptable to their captors.

Furiously resentful that their government disappointed their expectations.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Battling The Insurgency

It's not quite enough to just place troops directly in the line of danger from terror militias who have no use for the pretense that war is anything but a struggle to kill before you are killed. And who, incidentally, see little difference between targeting civilians; women and children, the elderly and the ill - or battle-ready troops.

The same IEDs that target foreign troops will maim and kill civilian Afghans. Throwing acid in the faces of schoolgirls, murdering their teachers, and threatening villagers to join them or pay the consequences is a useful way to deliver a message, both to the Afghan population and the foreigners.

The Geneva Convention holds that it is imperative that prisoners of war be treated humanely. Countries like Afghanistan, like Pakistan, like Iran; in fact, most Muslim-dominated and -administered countries have a reputation for human rights-abusive treatment of civilians, let alone political prisoners, or those taken as prisoners of war.

There is a tightrope of treading carefully between observing the convention, and protecting one's troops against harm, and not overloading them with responsibilities they are ill-equipped to discharge. Which responsibility in fact, they are incapable of taking on, since they haven't the manpower or the infrastructure to maintain a prison system for the Taliban captured in hostilities.

The host country, the country that has welcomed the intervention of foreign troops for the purpose of restoring some semblance of civic order absent the barbaric rule of the Taliban, must be responsible for being responsible. Foreign diplomats, NGOs, volunteers, and the foreign military cannot be expected do everything; Afghanistan must begin to pull its weight of self responsibility.

It must, inexorably, move itself away from endemic corruption, the oppression of women, and a tradition of torture practised in their prison system.

Canada sought guarantees, signed pacts that would permit its emissaries to visit prisons, speak with prisoners. Canada went a good deal further, in the dispatching of professionals to teach and mentor Afghan prison wardens and guards. The Government of Canada and its military personnel in the field, in Kandahar and elsewhere, are all well attuned to the pitfalls of relying on a primitively backward tradition of brutality meted out routinely to the incarcerated.

As pointed out by a Canadian academic and expert in international affairs, Wesley Wark, the situation is complex and disturbing in its negative complexity. When, realizing the level of corruption of both the Afghan National Police and the country's military, Canadian Forces chose the National Directorate for Security to receive captured Afghans. Which is to say insurgents, Islamist fanatics that are named Taliban. Which Canadian Forces, like their other NATO counterparts, were in no position to themselves maintain, monitor and imprison.

The National Directorate for Security answers directly to the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. This convoluted rational with its imputed guarantee of reliability appears to have backfired, with a mid-level political diplomat stationed to represent Canadian interests in Kandahar in 2006 and 2007 accusing his government and its military of deliberately turning a blind eye to prisoner abuse.

As though he had the inside track on precisely what occurred, because on interviewing some Taliban they claim to have been abused. Neatly performing as many jihadists have learned to do; to appeal to the sense of fairness and democratic guarantees of human justice on their behalf, while denying all of those ideals to those upon whom they prey. Claiming abuse where none may have occurred. Activating the proclivity to mea culpas. Self-aggrandizing interlocutors never fail to absorb those appeals.

"In every single instance, Canadian diplomats and Canadian soldiers, whenever they are aware of abuse, take the action they are required to take under international law because that is how this country acts and we are proud of those people", Prime Minister Harper informed his opposition critics in the House of Commons. "The fact of the matter is that whenever Canadian diplomats or Canadian military officials have concrete evidence, have substantial evidence of any kind of abuse they take appropriate action. That is what they have done in these cases."

But this is a blood sport in Parliament, with the opposition relishing the opportunity to wound the government by its accusations, yet refusing to accept testimony from other, highly respected and trusted diplomats and military personnel who are prepared to put the accusations of Richard Colvin, formerly with the Kandahar mission, to the test of actuality. "If the ... opposition parties are at all serious about getting to the truth, they will actually hear from those who want to testify before the parliamentary committee.

"There are a number of them. Let them be heard. What is the opposition afraid of, other than the truth?" Precisely. There is so much traction now on the levelling of accusations against the government, and the implications by association that Canadian troops are lending themselves to irregular, internationally illegal practises, that the opposition are on a roll, and don't want to let go. They contend with a straight face, that they have no intention of demeaning the actions of the Canadian military.

They're simply doing their thing, confronting, accusing, and putting the government on notice that opposition political parties have no interest in cooperation, or coordination of purpose in the greater interests of the country they all serve.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Instilling Awareness

What an absolutely refreshing change in perspectives and attitudes, with the incoming president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association demonstrating his dedication to the betterment of all patients whom physicians serve. The focus has for now been removed from the purported malfunctioning of Canada's universal health care system, and the urging of late to permit a parallel system of private medical enterprise.

Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, currently chief of staff at The Ottawa Hospital, as medical director for Ottawa Inner City Health delivering care to the homeless for over a decade, knows how vulnerable and readily subject to catastrophic health conditions people in poverty become. Addressing a forum on homelessness Dr. Turnbull pointed out that research indicates that those living in homeless shelters have a 31% chance of living to 75, as opposed to the general population's 80%.

The cost to the individual, the person living in poverty, the homeless, the societally-abandoned is obvious, in lack of quality of life. But the cost to society at large is more than substantial, with a sky-high incidence of life-impairing diseases and illnesses burdening the health community through tax dollars to deal with chronic conditions requiring intensive, expansive, expensive medical and hospitalization care.

"Just from a pure health perspective, there is a financial imperative that we address issues of poverty early on because poverty reduction strategies save money and make sense." His address to The Alliance to End Homelessness at the University of Ottawa, was timely, given that the federal government at long last has begun a five-year funding of research into homelessness, revolving around stabilizing the homeless through homes of their own.

Dr. Turnbull stressed that the issues of poverty and lack of adequate housing and social assistance should be categorized as basic human rights issues. All citizens of a country have an equal right to health care, housing, personal safety and privacy. Those of us who work for a living and have the good fortune to have had a sound family experience, good education and remunerative and satisfying workplace opportunities resent the need to support those less fortunate.

But that we do so remains the yardstick that measures the social maturity of any society.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Unhappy Campers

The British population, who likely never did warm to the idea of becoming involved in the second invasion of Iraq led by the United States in their famous "coalition of the willing", are now witnessing an enquiry whose purpose it is to reveal the suspected and decried covert actions of its former government under Prime Minister Tony Blair, complicit with former U.S. President George W. Bush.

In their conspiratorial zeal to convince the United Nations that their intention was completely legitimate, to apprehend the intentions of a known brutal psychopathic tyrant committed to attacking the West with his arsenal of nuclear devices, both the U.S. and Britain committed their own atrocities; this time to the truth. Depends exactly on how weapons of mass destruction can be construed; after the fact, bacterial warfare material was thought acceptable.

Each had a hand in attempting to convince the uncommitted that theirs was a just and needed intervention in a rogue, but sovereign country's affairs. A country that had undergone a previous invasion for its own illegal invasion of a neighbouring country whom Western forces rescued. And afterward, under the aegis of the United Nations, led a crippling boycott. Which had more than sufficiently weakened the megalomaniac Saddam Hussein.

Which didn't quite satisfy George W. Bush, who always felt that his father who preceded him as president of the United States, and who led the original invasion of Iraq, had left the mission uncompleted. Now the Chilcot enquiry, examining transcripts of classified documents where British Army commanders vented against their country's administration, much is being revealed which had formerly only been suspected.

First to fall were the heartfelt claims of disarmament of weapons of mass destruction at the base of the invasion, not a wish to interfere in the governance of a foreign country, even a brutally dysfunctional one like Iraq whose totalitarian leader had infamously slaughtered his own people who rebelled against him. The documents speak to under-resourced troops. Of an utter lack of preparation.

Lack of foresight, of plans to proceed once the intervention evolved to occupation. The ad hoc British plans with respect to post-invasion, occupation-led reconstruction were absent in details and out of sync with reality. The finger of blame points convincingly at a breach of the Geneva Convention in the absence of contingency planning, and the inability to safeguard civilian lives.

Moreover, the enquiry will study the puzzling events where Tony Blair spoke to Parliament during the steady build-up of resolve to join the U.S. in their invasion aspirations, assuring them that it was not his intention to prepare for military action in Iraq. His opaque statement, "In respect of any military options, we are not at the stage of deciding those options but, of course, it is important - should we get to that point - that we have the fullest possible discussion of those options", must have led to some dropped jaws in retrospect.

And now, the revelations by the British chief of staff in Iraq, that it was his opinion that his American counterparts represented "a group of Martians" for whom "dialogue is alien". Martians as of outer-space visitors from Mars. Mars, the god of war. Martians, as in martial. Deference required to the U.S. plans; no opportunity for discussions as might be required by allies to define their intent and action plan.

Conclusion: total dysfunction. And a still-unfolding tragedy. Oh yes, hundreds of thousands of lost lives. Details, details.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where Lies The Truth?

In the midst of a media storm of accusations against the current Conservative-led government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, led by the Liberals in hopes of scoring points with the public, comes the results of an interview by Matthew Fisher, Canadian journalist of note, peripatetically stationed in the region, writing of his interview with the new chief warden of Sarpoza Prison in Afghanistan. This is the prison that saw a break-out of hundreds of Taliban prisoners, after a Taliban attack in June of 2008.

Col. Abdullah Bawar, whose son and cousin, working alongside him in the prison, were both killed during the jailbreak, is not averse to describing his predecessor's corrupt management of the prison. And, during the course of the interview with Matthew Fisher, he categorically denied that even under his summarily-fired predecessor, pre-jailbreak, torture was a widespread occurrence targeting Taliban prisoners. Torture was mostly aligned with extortion, not politics, not intelligence-gathering or vengeance-seeking.

"Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten", agreed the chief warden. "Hands and legs would be tied and they would be beaten with cables. I even remember one man who broke his leg from a beating." What, no hanging from butcher claws, heads crushed, limbs severed, nails extracted, genitals burned? Not even water-boarding? And Col. Bawar's best estimate was that roughly one hundred prisoners from among 1,100 had been physically abused during 2006 and 2007.

He characterized this time-frame as "this dark period". The head warden had never heard of Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. Who has been wreaking havoc with the reputation of the PMO, Cabinet Ministers, the Canadian military and their top brass, by impassioned accusations of their having turned a blind eye to horrendous torture routinely practised on any Taliban turned over to the Afghans by Canadian military personnel.

Moreover, when informed of Mr. Colvin's testimony of such wrong-doing, Col. Bawar insisted that of the hundred prisoners who had suffered abuse, most came from prison wings over than the area where prisoners handed over by Canadian troops to the Afghan police would have been held. Is it likely that Hamid Karzai - who continues to implore the 'moderate' Taliban to abandon extremism and join him and their Afghan brethren to remake the country - would permit 'moderates' to be tortured?

Even in a country and a part of the world known for its brutal treatment of prisoners? If he cared enough to know, that is. Under his predecessor as chief warden, Col. Bawar described a situation where inmates had no access to hospitals and medication. "When the International Committee of the Red Cross would bring supplies such as blankets, only half of them reached the prisoners", he said, speaking of the time between 2006-07.

And Col. Bawar was effusive in his praise for Canada, thanking the federal government for sending correctional services guards as mentors to the prison. "I appreciate every Canadian citizen who came to Kandahar. You left your homes and spent your money to help us." Correctional Services of Canada had taught the Afghan guards about human rights respect, and to abhor torture. These events occurred as a result of the Government of Canada having been made aware several years back of the potential for prisoner abuse.

"Since the training, everyone knows how to speak with prisoners and what are his rights. It is the same for visitors and how to transfer prisoners. They know how to search a cell and an inmate." Canada had built watchtowers, fortified gates and refurbished special holding quarters for juveniles and women. And supplied radios, generators and vehicles. Work on rebuilding the criminal and political wings of the prison is proceeding.

"We have a very strong relationship", said Col. Bawar, of the Canadians whose regular teaching and observational visits to the prison have immeasurably aided the Afghan guards. "We trust each other. If Canadians hadn't help (sic) Sarpoza Prison, we would have remained very backward. That is a very, very big thing." A political prisoner at the wing holding Taliban, also responded to Mr. Fisher's questioning.

"They are treating us well right now", he said, standing among other Taliban. And he too knew of no instances of inmates having been tortured. Needless to say, these are people who might have responded in a manner that they felt corresponded to what the interlocutor wanted to hear. On the other hand, what's in it for them to respond in such a manner, rather than speaking the truth, if it were otherwise?

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

End Results

Is there a line to be drawn where on the one side compassion is largely reserved for the well-being of humans, and on the other, concern for all those other animals, subservient by nature to human beings? The human ape is the one animal that has developed the capacity to assert itself technologically, through the force of nature that represents the creativity of the human mind. In our wisdom and the technologies we are able to wield, great power and also great destruction of the natural world around us results.

In emerging economies - third-world countries struggling to lift their populations above their traditional toe-hold on life's amenities, basics like adequate shelter and food - their natural environment has suffered, as great tracts of forests have been mown down like fields of hay to feed cattle. In the case of some countries like Indonesia and its various provinces and islands, the rain forest has been partially destroyed, causing homelessness to its wild primates while providing fuel and arable land for its people.

On Borneo, a rehabilitation project was set up by a concerned Scandinavian, far from home, but touched to the core by the incidence of abandoned and orphaned baby orangutans. Where the natural resources habitually available to adult orangutans are fast fading, and so apparently, is the future for these primates. Lone Droscher-Nielson, founder/director of the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Project, funded by private donors, has so far managed to save 600 orangutan orphans.

Borneo, a hundred years ago, had over 300,000 wild orangutans, and that number now has been reduced to 50,000 most of which animals live in a province on the island of Borneo. The forests are being chopped down at the rate equivalent to six football fields a minute. The animals' natural habitat is fast disappearing. Needless to say, the environmental degradation exacted on such south-east islands through the destruction of their forests will have a dreadfully inimical impact on the islands themselves, denuded of their forests.

Unable to act as carbon sinks and adding to the general reduction of environmental stability and sustainability through climate change, and, risking desertification on the one hand, a loss of potable water accompanying that, and the potential for inundation with melting ice caps the world over. Still, the issue for the wildlife rehabilitation project is to preserve the lives of the infant orangutans. And now the plan appears to be the release of those pampered, well-fed and -tended orphans back into the wild.

But can this be done? Once a wild animal has been removed from its natural environment, its instinctive and natural patterning for self-sustainment irretrievably impaired, who can believe that they can be successfully re-introduced into an unfamiliar environment where they will be responsible for looking after themselves? Their instinct for acting positively to ensure their own survival has been tampered with, they have become wholly dependent.

The head of World Land Trust, a British conservation group, is not convinced that this enterprise can conclude successfully. The rescue of these infant orangutans, he observes represents a "welfare issue but it is not good for conservation" nor is it "cost effective", adding to a "world surfeit of captive orangutans." Clearly, the solution lies in convincing Indonesia that the ongoing destruction of that great natural resource represented by forests must stop.

With an immense population, and endemic poverty a fact of life, that would represent a difficult choice, even if the government of Indonesia recognizes the harm done by current logging operations impacting on their wildlife, on their greater environmental sustainability.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Macabre Entitlement

It's breathtakingly incredible that the Federal Court of Appeal has taken it upon itself to order the Government of Canada to think twice about its decision to revoke the citizenship of a former Nazi collaborator. This is a man who lied about his Nazi connections, his war-time experiences, when he applied to enter Canada as a new immigrant. This is a criminal offence, a felony that in and of itself constitutes reason, under Canadian law, for revocation of citizenship and removal from the country.

Yet the Appeal Court ruled that the cabinet which revoked Helmut Oberlander's citizenship two years ago for that very reason, should do a double-think about the matter. On compassionate grounds that he is an elderly man, he adamantly insists he had no choice, was forced to join German forces while still a teen-ager. That, of course, is irrelevant to his having lied on entry to Canada. But he lied because he knew very well that his active Nazi past would not permit him entry.

Mr. Oberlander was a member of Einsatzkommando 10A, a mobile mass killing squad. Their purpose was to exterminate civilians, mostly Jews in the Soviet Union. Through mass executions Mr. Oberlander and his squad annihilated over 90,000 people. This ruling may be seen as a partial victory for Mr. Oberlander, who claims not to have been involved in mass murder. His Einsatzkommando unit most certainly was, and he was an integral part of that unit. As a Ukrainian national, serving as an interpreter, his association would not have been unusual.

Sixty years is a long time. There is no direct evidence that might prove that Mr. Oberlander undertook personally to commit murderous atrocities against humanity. If he did not, and considered himself innocent of any involvement in the murder of tens of thousands of innocent people, if he considered himself to have been forced to join a killing unit against his will, why then commit to a lie? Simply because he knew he was involved, he was complicit at the very least, if not actively involved.

Perhaps nine years after the conclusion of the Second World War, when this man and his wife emigrated to Canada, research might have given proof of his direct involvement. But that was the time when he made no mention of his past, and now his original denial has come back to haunt him. Witnesses to the atrocities he took part in are not readily accessible. The Final Solution saw to that.

Of course the Court of Appeal's injunction to the Cabinet to re-consider the revocation does not commit the Cabinet to anything other but to acknowledge Mr. Oberlander's claim that he was conscripted under duress. After which acknowledgement the Cabinet may feel free once again to re-certify his non-citizenship and deport him.

It is not, however, the Cabinet that deserves a cautionary, compassionate slap on the wrist, but rather the two out of three judges who thought in their wisdom to overturn the 2008 Federal Court ruling.

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Unforgivable Defaults

They should be beyond forgiven, but they evidently are not.

Can an Ontario court rule in favour of a group of residents claiming they should not be responsible for relatives whom they have sponsored to come to Canada as new immigrants? Despite that immigration is a federal affair, can an Ontario court dissolve them of responsibility? They did, after all, through the family reunification class of emigration, sponsor family members, signing a pledge to be responsible for them financially.

So much for pledges, for responsibility, for honesty. In fact, there is an acknowledged default rate in some classes of immigrants who find it comfortable to their idea of how they would like to comport themselves, to go on welfare rather than earn a living. Entire extended families have been known to succumb to that temptation.

Evidently a handful of people decided to launch a legal challenge against the expectation - explicit in the pledge they signed to financially support family members they sponsored - that they need live up to that pledge. They must know it should be taken seriously, that they have committed themselves to ensuring that the Canadian taxpayer is not on the hook in enabling them to have the pleasure of re-uniting with expanded family.

In this province alone so far this year, roughly five thousand sponsored immigrants have applied for social assistance. We're talking about a cost of $56-million. The province has had to pony up $45-million, municipalities $13.7-million of taxpayer-funded resources to pay that shortfall. It's a shortfall; these are immigrants who aspire to live a better life by leaving their country of origin and settling in Canada. If living a better life corresponds in their estimation to loafing and siphoning cash from the social system, they've found gold.

The very real point of this situation is that taxpayer-funded social services are not a depthless and infinite resource to be dredged and doled out casually. People in this country and in Ontario already are aware through cut-backs in services that we are struggling to pay for rising costs related to health care, to social services, education. The ranks of the unemployed have grown as a result of the recession, and the under-employed and working poor already find themselves in a bind, putting food on the table.

We really, quite absolutely, do not need a program of family reunification, as compassionate as that is, that will continue to drain scarce resources to accommodate people's wishes to settle in a country that takes its social-contract obligations seriously, while new immigrants do not.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Grief!

What, precisely, is Richard Colvin's axe, he so assiduously grinds? An inflated view of himself? As a concerned human-rights activist? I've been personally acquainted on a long-standing basis abroad with those of the diplomatic corps, and I've been astonished to observe the level of self-absorbed entitlement that so many of these people, assumed to be among the best and the brightest representatives of their countries abroad, are possessed with.

They are obsessively concerned with their singular advantages. And, incidentally, representing their countries' interests.

How, precisely, is Richard Colvin representing the best interests of his country? By insisting that as an observant diplomat he took it upon himself to be cognizant of what he construed as human rights abuses despoiling the reputation of his country? Canada's military is tainted by association. Handing over to the host country's security agents captured Taliban militia members.

This would be the same Taliban that purposefully target schoolchildren, destroy their schools and murder their teachers. In a country in a part of the world where corruption is rampant and an integral part of the culture, as an ingrained tradition, and so is torture.

Canada, along with other NATO member countries, is doing its utmost to try to turn some of those traditions around. The traditions that decry the education of girl children and of women. In a country where girls are married off to old men and are then evermore consigned to a condition of silence and smothering cover-ups, raising children and doing the bidding of their menfolk, Canada seeks to liberate.

The primary goal, of course, is to assist the country, through its absurdly incompetent and crooked government, to foster a system of administrative capability, so that the population can have confidence that their government cares for them and will help advance their futures. A situation which cannot even remotely become reality until and unless security can be assured. And, alas, security cannot be assured, only sought after with the hope of eventual success.

For the corrupt and maladroit Afghan military and their national police cannot succeed on their own. Not just yet; not on a wide scale. Training is ongoing, thanks to the presence and determination of foreign troops and emissaries of human rights. This is a long, slow uphill battle, most particularly in view of a beefed-up insurgency. Foreign troops give up lives, foreign treasuries give up funds, foreign diplomats and civic volunteers give their expertise to help forge a workable country.

Between battling the Taliban, teaching the Afghan government and civil administration, building medical clinics, schools and trust, weary and traumatized foreign military personnel are expected to be concerned about the well-being of captured Taliban who, given the least opportunity, through IED placement or suicide bombs or direct assault, would slaughter them? Is there something awry with this picture?

Standing before a specially convened commission, this rights-scandalized Canadian diplomat who has taken offence at the purported ignoring at all levels of his tetchily-warning missives implicates the government at every level of accountability, as well as the former chief of the defence staff. Embroidering as he goes along, the indignities his claims were exposed to. Insisting that it was innocent Afghan civilians who were taken into custody and then tortured by Afghan authorities.

Which can and does happen, likely on a regular basis. And this too bespeaks an unfortunate part of the culture which foreign interests are desperately attempting to overturn, calling upon the newly inaugurated Hamid Karzai to finally come to grips with rampant corruption. And torture of prisoners can certainly qualify there.

I personally assume, from my previous experience, that Richard Colvin represents yet another emotional misfit.

Charged by the Government of Canada to represent it responsibly and accurately on the world stage. Has the elite nature of his diplomatic position abroad gone to his head, and completely addled his cerebellum? Canada's military does what it can, and does it well, from battling insurgents, defusing IEDs (when possible, before they explode killing Canadian soldiers or village children), gaining the trust of Afghan civilians through positive civic deeds.

We do not, nor should we be expected to, police the police of another country for the solemn purpose of instantly teaching them that to torture anyone, whatever their status, represents a human-rights abuse. We can point this out to them, chide them in diplomatic language, separate ourselves from the issue, but we cannot, at this point, prevent it. Our inability to prevent it does not paint us guilty as charged.

Is it remotely possible to charge Mr. Colvin with egregious mischief-making on a grand scale due to a personal agenda of self-aggrandizement?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Telling Distance

Quite the news spectacle. The meeting, at the very highest level of the representatives of two economic powerhouses, the two countries of the world who, with their advanced, and their more basic levels of technologies remain the world's largest carbon-waste emitters. Both the acknowledged economic giant and the emerging one (with India and Brazil close behind) have met to hammer-and-sickle, stars-and-stripes out some areas of agreement. And it has been edifying to witness, at a remove, how Chinese President Hu Jintao, and American President Barack Obama, have related to the issues that both divide and connect them.
Obama: "I spoke to President Hu about America's bedrock beliefs that all men and women possess certain fundamental human rights. We do not believe these principles are unique to America, but rather they are universal rights and that they should be available to all peoples, to all ethnic and religious minorities."
In America, people have the fundamental right to go without needed medical attention, and to visit food banks when they are unemployed or under-employed. Where, in a continuing, unstoppable trend, unbridled, laissez-faire capitalism has resulted in a steadily rising gap between the wealthy and the indigent-poor. Where the United States Congress flexes its authority to invoke trade protectionist measures, while insisting that China (despite recent trade irritants) recognize the utility of free trade. Where the new U.S. administration strong- arms an ally to comport itself in a manner that reflects what America wishes, even though it may become inimical to the existence of that country, while it assures China it has no intention of interfering in its human-rights abuses, its crackdowns on the repressed Yuigers, the Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese Christians, and the Falun Gong. The U.S. must needs tread lightly with the sensibilities of a country that holds it to a heady new economic ransom through its U.S. investments.
Hu: "We will continue to act in the spirit of equality, mutual respect, and a non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and engage in dialogue and exchanges on such issues as human rights and religion in order to enhance understanding, reduce differences, and broaden common ground."
Clearly, in diplomatic-speak: back off. But the words sound very nice, don't they, don't you think? And, of course, in China, people have the freedom to protest civic inequities and local political corruption, and they will then be taken to municipally-operated black prisons where their protests against authority will avail them a distinguished prison term. Politically-driven protesters, delinquent in courtesy to their government are also respectfully given a hearing through the imposition of prolonged prison sentences. China is intent on ensuring that there is harmony among its various peoples with all their different languages, customs, traditions, heritage, and aspirations to proceed into the future. China reserves the right to defend its allies in North Korea, Burma and Iran. So, don't push, don't shove, stand back and quietly observe.

However, politics being what they are, Presidents Hu and Obama had no difficulty reaching agreement in a joint resolution to meet on energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, shale gas and cleaner uses of coal. Cleaner uses of coal being especially dear to the heart of Chinese authorities, who like the citizens of the country deplore the off-putting results of coal-fired furnaces used universally, disrupting weather pattens and bringing horrendous environmental conditions to the country. You think you know smog? Visit Beijing, say I sent you. Not to mention the practise of dumping industrial chemicals in waterways, polluting the source of life for countless Chinese.

Unlike other parts of the world, it is fascinating to witness a decided lack of public enthusiasm over the state visit of this world-famous celebrity figure, the (relatively) new President of the United States of America. And it was a tad amusing to read the quote from President Hu: "I stressed to President Obama that under the current circumstances our two countries need to oppose all kinds of trade protectionism". Kindly repeat that slowly, President Hu, and add that it is your understanding that Mexico, Canada, the European Union - along with China are all rather vexed with the U.S. Congress over that issue.

And was it difficult for this human-rights defending president to promise not to support any possible attempts to separate Tibet from China? For China abhors splittists, (Canada has that problem too; they're called separatists there, and paid by government funding to sit in Parliament and vent their spleen officially) and splits a gut over any entities, governments, individuals who commit themselves to the defence of Tibet and criticize China. Perhaps not, for a president uniquely unavailable to meet in person, and deferentially, as equal-to-equal with the Dalai Lama.

But then, there is always the future....

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Still Grinding That Dull Axe

Don't the Liberal strategists read? Aren't they interested in keeping abreast of the facts on the ground? Don't they think that by betraying their own ignorance by belligerently braying on a matter they appear to know little about, they will lose the trust, let alone the interest of the electorate? Can't they see that their ineffectual, juvenile strutting and hysterical shouting in the House of Commons gains them little respect? Guess not.

At the present time, roughly 8% of the Canadian population has been infected by H1N1. The worst-case scenario envisaged by Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, in accordance with what WHO officials led the medical community to expect in naming H1N1 a pandemic, would be more like a quarter of the population. Few people who have become infected have required hospitalization, and thankfully, far fewer yet have died.

Canada's public health agency has posted a figure of 20 deaths in the last week, totalling 135 deaths due to H1N1 complications since the first round of the virus occurred in the spring. As infectious diseases go, this one has still proven to be fairly innocuous. Of course that impression doesn't sit well with those who have lost family members to the onslaught, particularly previously-healthy children. They have been few, but even a few are difficult to absorb.

Reality, however, remains: seasonal flu sees between four to eight thousand Canadians meeting their maker. That translates to 250,000 to 500,000 people each year, worldwide. Seven months into this pandemic - which we are all supremely grateful, though it's been named a pandemic, hasn't proven to be the deadly strain we might have anticipated - Around the world an estimated 6,260 people have succumbed.

So why the panic? We can certainly lay much of the sensationalism surrounding this new flu strain at the doorstep of the media, anxious to air every conceivable detail, and hypothesis - and most certainly stressing out faithful readers, listeners, viewers. And no less the medical community among whom there has erupted some disagreements of opinion with respect to H1N1's potential, its severity and the need to inoculate - or not.

None of which excuses the Official Opposition's bluster and blunder, characterizing the government's actions to date as inefficient, inadequate and uncaring. When the simple truth is, far more Canadians in the critical category have been immunized than citizens of the United States, Britain and France, all of which countries are far, far behind Canada. Immune-impaired Canadians with chronic health problems, the very young and health providers have been well looked after, once the first flush of delivery awkwardness passed.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is confident that all Canadians who wish to receive either type of vaccine, adjuvanted or not, will be accommodated by the end of December, perhaps into January. By then, the H1N1 will have long gone past its peak. Local health authorities have done a very good job in a very difficult environment; some far better than others, but in total a respectable enough showing.

The Liberals are still confusing issues, perhaps unaware of jurisdictional responsibilities in their eagerness to lay blame before the federal government. Their strenuous efforts to foment hysteria among an already-alarmed public does them justice if they're practising as performing jackasses.

Nothing seems to faze them, they just keep wading into the muck and mire of disinformation....

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Monday, November 16, 2009

British Anti-Semitism

If there ever was a country that presents as an active breeding ground for jihadists, it must be Britain today. Its network of mosques serving a large Muslim population, many of whom are extremely sympathetic to the notion of violent jihad represents a non-assimilated proportion of British society. Particularly those ripe for recruiting into the ranks of the jihadis, encouraged and groomed by Arabic-speaking Islamic clerics who thunder against the iniquities the West visits upon Muslims, insisting that it is time the tables were turned.

Some of the most egregious examples of fanaticism were expressed by British Muslim clerics, or those on visitors' visas whose sermons to the faithful have led to the growth of home-born and -bred jihadis. Some have been extradited, some incarcerated, but barely a dent has been made in the invective and slanderous assaults against the West, and most particularly Zionists.

Interdiction has been a failed game, seemingly half-heartedly pursued, but pursued nonetheless in the wake of a number of gruesomely successful suicide attacks.

Despite which, the general atmosphere in Britain, even before the growing presence and success of slanderous public relations undertaken by Islamist agents who have successfully infiltrated public office and society at large, the general sympathy lies with the Muslim community. And it is the Jewish community which sees itself beleaguered by a growing incidence of anti-Semitism, linked, but not necessarily so, with Israel and Zionism.

The British are sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, opposed to their oppression by Zionist Jews. This is a time-honoured position in general, simply more specific in nature. The great writers of British stock that have left a legacy of outstanding literature have also left a legacy of the kinds of ancient anti-Semitism rampant in Great Britain over the last millennium.

Jews have always been persecuted in Britain, from the medieval era with its blood libels, along with purposeful discriminatory conduct by the Church.

Institutional racism adores its stereotypical caricatures; they can be so overwhelmingly amusing in demonstrating how acutely the Jews, as a distinctively abhorrent race cling to their notion of themselves as diabolically clever. Clever at business enterprise, at banking, money-lending, at promulgating, through their control and acquisition of the news media, a view of themselves fit to control state institutions and the world at large.

Power-hungry, insatiable, cruelly given to sacrificing the blood of Christian children.

Britain loves its heritage and traditions, and sees no reason to abandon those which have served it well.

Its trade-union activists have been stringent in their rabid intent to boycott anything Jewish or Israeli, just as the academic community has led a pioneering European effort - not slow to spread elsewhere - to boycott Israeli academics. There is a patience, however, with the inconvenience of jihadi radicalism, seen as a justifiable response to the misery of a religion, a culture and a people forever oppressed - primarily by Jewish interests.

The British Broadcasting Corporation has coined new descriptives for terrorists, as 'insurgents', or as 'bomber', 'attacker', 'militant'. Anything but 'terrorist', for that designation is extremely offensive to the liberal-left cognizant of its effect on an audience that knows the word to be commensurate with Muslim extremists. Islamists, jihadis, fanatical Islam, in short.

An obvious assault on Islam, on the honour of Islam, and its Prophet, on the dignity of the Koran which encourages jihad. Above all offensive to ordinary Muslims as an unforgivable slur to their religion of peace.

British elites are famous for the slyness of their anti-Semitic thrusts within polite society, eliciting occasionally frank, occasionally conspiratorial guffaws of recognition. Spot-on, Old Sport....

In the House of Lords, in Parliament, in municipal government, slurs against Jews are constant and quite conscious. It is not necessarily a succession of British governments themselves that have encouraged this; they decidedly have not, and have attempted to discourage the propensity within society toward these poisonous attitudes.

The smear of anti-Jewish jibes lies deep in the fabric of British society. What might it take to expunge it? It has flexed its racial-besmirching muscle for a thousand years, and has always found renewal in world events. What could possibly rescue the society from its embrace of this enduring, habitual Jew-hatred now? It has ripened to a grand old age and as such continues to receive its society's blessing.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

As The Wheel Turns

At a time when the presumed real power in Russia has chosen to resurrect Stalin's image in the popular imagination by re-writing him into national history as a heroic patriot who drew the country into a new image of itself, proud and nationalistic with the USSR a world power to be reckoned with, along comes its factual President, Dmitry Medvedev seeming to contradict his mentor, Prime Minister Vladamir Putin.

When state economic enterprises and other valuable state assets were being virtually given away to the lowest bidders -insider acquaintances and friends - by Boris Yeltsin clumsily attempting to bring an unstable Russia into modernity and democracy, creating the powerful and wealthy oligarchs, Mr. Yeltsin's chosen successor went about returning those enterprises to the state, by charging some of those oligarchs with sternly indictable offences and re-possessing their acquired enterprises.

Now, it appears that matters have turned full-cycle again. Just as when collectivization under Stalin failed; agriculture collapsed, and industry and manufacturing were debased with inferior products, Russia once again is plagued with state institutions that don't operate efficiently, leaving the country in a perilous economic state. It can't have helped too very much that while president, Vladimir Putin placed his old KGB cronies in powerful administrative positions.

"As far as state corporations are concerned, I think they have no prospects in the current environment", claimed Mr. Medvedev in his annual state-of-the-nation address, while his prime minister looked on. The Russian president spoke of his disdain for the "primitive" structure of the economy in his country, and spoke desperately of the need for its modernization. The return to state-run monopolies a decided failure.

Russia was enjoying prosperity not all that long ago, when Vladimir Putin was still president, thanks to its fossil-fuels extraction and the high price of oil. When the price of a barrel of oil fell so low that profit became pencil-thin, and then the global financial collapse carried it to the brink of bankruptcy, the economy looked wan and tired, and reality set in. Massive worker layoffs from Soviet-style industries has further wounded the country.

And now, imagine, a return to privatization. Some state enterprises are to be sold, in an effort to slice into state involvement in the economy. As an obvious nod to the simple human fact that when there is money to be made, private enterprise needs no encouraging kick from government.

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Complicit Conviviality

They once had a common goal, the fanatical Taliban and Pakistan's secret service, in a reflection of the government's attitude toward its neighbour Afghanistan. Official Pakistan was complicit in co-operating with, aiding and encouraging quite a few extremist Islamist groups; those whose purpose was to govern Afghanistan under strict Sharia law, and those whose purpose was to attack India. Pakistan's insistence that Kashmir is its territory, to be taken from India by force a flash-point of bitter assaults.

Pakistan had committed itself to the stealthy, covert support and financing of fundamentalist Islamist groups, confident that it had the means to control them, to direct their attention where it was convenient for Pakistan to wreak instability to suit its political agenda. It did turn out to be quite inconvenient, however, when the Red Mosque in the centre of Islamabad sent its students out to challenge the laxness of Islamic ritual and law, however.

And when General Pervez Musharraf had the military storm the mosque as a result of its challenge to the secular-based, semi-democratic authority of the government matters began to subtly turn. Subsequent (and previous) agreements that the government signed with the fundamentalist Islamists in the Swat Valley on the theory that they could co-exist; the fanatics in control of an area the government was never able to convince the tribal chiefs to allow government troops into, simply gave encouragement to the Islamists.

It was perfectly all right with Pakistan's governments that the Afghan Taliban situated themselves just inside the border among the hill tribes - along with their political-religious compatriots al-Qaeda - for refuge from U.S. and NATO troops seeking them out, as long as they stayed there and didn't inconvenience Pakistan. However, when the Pakistan-based Taliban emerged, and subsequent agreements fell apart, the situation became somewhat more complex.

The Pakistani Taliban had goals the government of Pakistan found impossible to accommodate. And the Taliban simply began to spread their influence, moving down from the mountainous regions toward Peshawar, uncomfortably close to the military's arms depots and nuclear installations - placed there to ensure they were as far as possible from the border with India. Years of fanatical Islamists attacking police outposts and training stations in the region accelerated.

But then, the increased belligerence, violence and successes of the Pakistani Taliban mounting one attack after another on the police, the military, the towns and closing in on Peshawar, finally convinced the government - and the military - that they could no longer tolerate these destabilizing incursions. With the advance of the Taliban, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis fled the impacted area, becoming internal refugees.

And the Taliban were emboldened by their successes to mount attacks in the very capital of the country with their surreptitious capability to somehow get around tight security and enter the most heavily-guarded government precincts, destroying government offices, blowing up crowded marketplaces, killing hundreds of people. And the final humiliation; a suicide truck bomb destroying the regional headquarters of the Inter Services Intelligence agency in Peshawar.

The heavily barricaded compound with its steel barrier and its guards were no match for the determination of a suicide bomber driving a mini-truck with 300 kilograms of explosives. The three-story U-shaped building was devastated, 18 people killed and many others maimed. One might think that a Muslim country living in a perpetual state of violent disarray stemming from its incessant antagonistic volleys both diplomat-verbal and violently militant, might know better than to ally itself with those more fanatical than themselves.

The violent rancour the government had incurred when it suddenly revoked support for fanatic jihad has come back to haunt it. The incendiary bomb of hatred that it had itself lit has it now struggling for its own existence. There is no possible accommodation that a nation envisioning itself as a modern Muslim, secular-governed country can make with a jihad-dedicated extremist ideology determined to give no quarter to its perceived enemies.

Nor does such an Islamist-jihadi-dedicated force wish for any to be proffered to itself, in its triumph-intoxicated religious ecstasy. The agony of Pakistan, should it somehow be only partially successful in its tardy response to the Pakistani Taliban movement with its military offensive in South Waziristan, will be as nothing to the region should a a domino-effect result that could see the advance of militant Islam spreading its tentacles with confidence.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

To Yourself Be True

Poor misunderstood Iran. She has no option but to continue on the offensive. In the understandable defence of the authenticity of her Islamist Republicanism, her fervour in guiding Muslims to the way of the light that resides in Islam. That there is so much resistance to the sovereign right of Iran to rule her people in the way seen fit by the clerical-led administration is simply yet another indication of the evil power of Zionist imperialism.

The Islamic Republic of Iran does not disfavour freedom of speech. It regrets the unfortunate loss of life that occurred during the demonstrations urged on by suborned agents of the West, attempting to destroy the credibility of Iran, alleging electoral fraud in Tehran during the June presidential election. Iran's Supreme Leader's appointed representative in Britain, as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's personal envoy, has explained all of this.

Ayatollah Abdolhossein Moezi, as director of the Islamic Centre of England, emphasizes that he reflects the position of the Iranian Republic in lamenting the necessity of the Republican Guard forcefully responding to the opposition to the legitimacy of the election results. The 30-year-old Islamic Republic has no intention whatever of submitting to the demands of a fifth column paid for by malevolent forces in the West, encouraged by the Zionist imperialists.

Furthermore, in advising Muslim servicemen and women to abandon their places with the armed forces in the West for the criminal assaults on Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, he brings them to their senses, for they are engaging in wars forbidden by Islam. And while Ayatollah Moezi condemned the jihadist attack in Texas that took the lives of 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood, he emphasized that event must not be permitted to further blacken the image of the ummah.

The sincerity of Ayatollah Moezi's plea certainly cannot be denied, nor the accuracy of his judgement, in reflection of the true nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a peaceful, god-abiding nation which desires only to take its place in the world of power leaders. Also in Britain currently resides another Iranian, Arash Hejazi, trained as a physician, who then turned to journalism, helping to found a publishing house in Iran.

He no longer resides in Iran, but has sought refuge in Britain. Mr. Hejazi takes umbrage and grave issue with all that spills from Ayatollah Moezi's conciliatory mouth. For it was Mr. Hejazi who had come to the aid of stricken Neda Soltan, fatally shot in the chest by a Basiji militiaman on a motorbike, helping the Republican Guard clear away the presence of protesters in Tehran on June 20. Neda Soltan was beyond medical help and died a martyr to freedom.

Fully comprehending the manner in which the regime would pursue the issue, Mr. Hejani fled back to Britain where he had been pursuing a postgraduate course in publishing at Oxford Brookes University during the time of the presidential election. A business meeting had spurred his brief return to Tehran. Back in England with his wife and children, he described to the international press how he had been an onlooker at the demonstration, and had attempted to restore life to Neda Soltan.

Now, Caravan Books, the publishing house in Tehran that he had co-founded has been censored, and banks forbidden from allowing it loans, placing the employment of 22 people in jeopardy. Mr. Hejani's reputation has been slandered, in an attempt to punish and silence him. His friends and family and colleagues in Iran have been intimidated and harassed. "I told the truth. I just did what I had to do, but there were dire consequences", explained Mr. Hejani.

A scholarship in honour of Neda Soltan has been established at an Oxford college. Which has infuriated and scandalized Iran; the regime has forwarded a letter of official protest. She had been killed, the regime insists, by Arash Hejazi himself, spurred on by the dark forces of Zionism, as a result of an international conspiracy to undermine the Republic of Iran's sterling human-rights reputation.

In Iran, criminal proceedings have been initiated against Mr. Hejazi. He is a wanted man. Regime supporters have threatened his life, insist he is a murderer, a spy and had been a pimp for Neda Soltan. The Basiji who shot and killed Neda Soltan did his urgent duty to the country. The young woman whom Iranians, her family and the West mourn as the wasted life of a promising young woman who aspired to be the best that opportunities would allow her, was, in the description of the Iranian regime, a prostitute.

"Totalitarian regimes always want to cover up their violence and terror but evidence always surfaces to show the world what is really happening", said Mr. Hejazi. "In every person's life there are moments of truth that determine the sort of person you are, that test your beliefs and values. For me, Neda's death and speaking out was that moment and I think I've been true to myself."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Well, Surprise!

Canadians have been led to believe that the social agony reflected in the reality of our troops' danger-prone presence in Afghanistan as a cohesive and integral part of NATO's ISAF mission to stabilize and support the civil compact, while teaching the country's military and police to fend for themselves in battling the fanatical Islamist insurgents has led to a low response for recruits in the military.

Didn't we read not all that long ago about a campaign to inspire young men and women to join the Canadian military? We have also read about a dire insufficiency of Canadian military personnel. We are, in fact, stretched pretty thin.

Our nation of 33-million has a standing army of 60,000 troops, with 20,000 reserves. With personnel stationed in at least a half-dozen, likely more, missions around the world, including Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sinai, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. And, of course, Afghanistan, with by far the largest Canadian military contingent; 2,700 troops.

Canada has lost, in Kandahar province where it is stationed, 133 military, two civilians, one diplomat. Proportionally more than any other country installed in the country.

Popular support for Canada's military presence in Afghanistan has declined significantly, and continues to, with each succeeding death, reflecting a like situation in other NATO countries. The Government of Canada has stated its firm intention of pulling its troops out of the country by 2011, when it will focus on other options there to continue practical and humanitarian aid.

Now, who would have believed that despite all that we had thought, Canada's infantry cannot absorb the numbers of would-be recruits eager to join the military. According to Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, "I am 1,600 infantrymen over my establishment ... it just so happens that right now if you want to join the infantry, we're completely full." Simply put, there are more volunteers for duty in Afghanistan than places to put them.

Have we the public been led by inadvertence to believe otherwise? Suddenly the military is exciting, sexy, fascinating, a life-experience not to be missed? Moreover, it would appear that the quality of those recruits so anxious to join the military in Afghanistan is acknowledged to be superior to three decades' worth of their predecessors. The military, it would appear, has learned how vital public relations can be to their mission.

Placing advertisements on television highlighting combat with the armed forces, running them during hockey games and other sporting events. "I find myself in a unique position in comparison to most of my fellow army commanders across NATO", commented Lieut.-Gen. Leslie. It's often been remarked that competitive sport symbolizes and represents as a substitute for the rigours and vigours of waging war. Strictly superficial, needless to say.

But Canada's soldiers appear to be so interested in serving in Afghanistan that the rate of attrition has fallen sharply; down to 8% from 10% over the past year and a half. Amazingly, many of those who have already served in Kandahar are anxious to return. Last chance, before Canada's combat mission morphs into training-mentors. Amazing.

Active combat as a valued, exciting, challenging life-experience. Bloody war?

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Area Gang Activities

This is becoming a problem in the capital city of Canada, just as it is in other cities in the country. Not as egregious, not yet, as say, in Winnipeg, with its 4.32 gang members per 1000 residents, or Saskatoon with 3.86, Regina with 2.57 and Toronto with 1.23. Ottawa's gang numbers statistics come in at a relatively modest 0.53 per 1000 residents. That's one-half a gang member per one thousand residents. Far too many, in actual fact.

In Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina, the informed observer, with no malice intended, understands that the large numbers represent for the most part dysfunctional, underprivileged members of the country's aboriginal communities. First Nations youths who cannot seem to fit in anywhere in a society that offers symbolic acceptance, but is involved with the native communities in a syndrome of cause-and-effect.

This disaffected and dysfunctional demographic presents as a huge failure to become absorbed as part of a modern social contract. Absorbed, as in integrated? Totally rejected. Native history, traditions and culture reject absorption into the white man's society. But for a relative brave few who set out to prove that they can do anything they wish to accomplish, and succeed well at it, in any of the elite professions.

Unfortunately there are so many disadvantages heaped upon maladaptions experienced by Canada's native communities, starting from their determined resolve to live as their ancestors did, in isolated communities where there are too few modern, well-equipped facilities, an absence of employment opportunities; where boredom reigns supreme, sending children into the embrace of self-destructive devices, emulating their parents.

Ah, but Toronto is different. In Toronto the street gang members can be readily identified as emanating from among immigrant communities who have been ghettoized by poverty and their own cultural proclivities. So that young, unschooled, unemployed men finding easy profit in the drug trade prowl the assisted housing complexes, brutalizing and frightening the residents, and waging internecine war with complementary street gangs.

And then we come to Ottawa, the nation's capital. Where, to a good degree, the situation pertaining in Toronto is reflected in the gang experience here. Where research has indicated that in the identified problem areas where gangs roam - predatorily involved in profit-driven prostitution and crack cocaine - they reflect another immigrant experience: Youth in those communities lack normal societal benchmarks of attainment.

Lagging in physical health, social competence, communications skills, general knowledge and emotional maturity. Even though in other communities, also reflecting a lag in their children's maturation process and social-educational attainment, no such problems exist. In the problem areas, children between the ages of 6 to 12 are most vulnerably exposed to anti-social, high-risk behaviour to which they invariably respond, hardening into gang members.

These are not innocent gangs of young people looking for amusement, entertainment, things to do to while away the time. These are gangs who intimidate those among whom they live, and they are well armed. In six months' time, the Ottawa Police took possession of 108 handguns. There are violent weekly fights in those areas, and firearms are regularly discharged, presenting as real risks to not only gang members but innocent bystanders.

If, as seems the case, some immigrant communities do not value education for their children, do not come from a tradition and a culture that encourages self-respect and respect for others, along with respect for the law, nor do they feel it incumbent upon themselves as parents and elders to steer their children toward acceptance of the prevailing social mores, they have obviously demonstrated their unsuitability for citizenship in the country.

Better screening, in other words, by immigration authorities, is obviously required, to weed out those members of cultures that do not promote self-enablement, self-pride, respect for law and order, and responsibility toward offspring and society at large. That may indeed be a huge part of the reason for the problems that erupt in Canada's cities, reflected in the experience also of other democracies in North America and Europe, with a hugely migrating world population.

That reflection, however, does nothing valuable to teach us how to deal with the problems that surface so glaringly as a result of lack of due diligence in failing to determine the social suitability of would-be emigrants. How to infuse the culture, traditions, values and allied social imperatives into the mind-set and value-system of those finding it difficult to fit into Canadian society, and in fact, rejecting social mores and responsibilities?

There lies the rub.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complicating Citizenship

Oh dear. Who knew? There are obligations to becoming a citizen? Amazing. And here we thought it was all receptive enthusiasm, sweetness and light. Certainly it seems that way, with society bending over backward to prove its collective delight in receiving yet additional influxes of immigrants. It is just so perfectly quaint when migrants bring over their customs, traditions and colourful costumes, dances, songs and grudges. And government at every level is enjoined in the process of offering material support to newcomers who must find their level of comfort in a new environment.

All these developments in welcoming immigrants making Canada such an enviable place to be. Come and ye shall receive. Take what you will, there is more. And feel free to be who and what you are. Don't confuse yourself with the imperatives and values of social mores and civil behaviours if you find it too distressingly arduous to conform. Integration was expected of previous waves of immigrants, and they did very well for themselves, under far less welcome conditions. In the process doing much for Canada, too.

Multiculturalism, however, saves you from the nuisance of having to strain to be too much like those already absorbed in the prevailing culture. And so there are what we can call culture clashes that otherwise complicate matters, when the young run afoul of the law and it's not really their fault, since they come from a different culture and a different tradition. And given that the perpetually-governing political party in this great country saw fit to celebrate diversity without obligation to the need to absorb Canadian values, that's just the way it is.

Was? My goodness, the political opposition now reigning as the Government of Canada put on its thinking cap. Decided to surprise everyone, both the indigenous population and those aspiring to come aboard. Henceforth a far heftier document will be disseminated on the way to helping immigrants become authentic Canadians. Explaining to them the history, culture, society and values of which formerly they had little interest since life is difficult, and they had no need to. They were deemed to be perfectly acceptable as they presented.

So Canada has a surfeit of immigrant-derived street gangs, a kind of culture superimposed on Canadian street culture, as it were. And we have been treated to the importation of grievances against others, of violence directed toward former-and-still-active adversaries; political, racial, social and religious. Sri Lankans who agitated and fund-raised for the Tamil Tigers. Hezbollah and Hamas agents who foment slanderous dissent against others,while incidentally fund-raising.

A few triad-scented gangster activities to liven things up and help the drug trade along. And Sikh separatists who are perfectly fine with the idea that if they intrigue sufficiently air liners will suddenly blow up in transit and distribute thousands of minute body parts over the Indian Ocean - or elsewhere as the case may be. Not to overlook citizens of convenience who insist on mass rescue in times of peril at public expense, then placidly leave when the all-safe rings in.

In response to which this government has devised a new set of obligations and responsibilities inherent in citizenship. Simple little instructions such as that it is incumbent on all newcomers to seek to fit into the society they have migrated into. Learn the language, find paid employment. In your spare time, if you have any, do good work, volunteering. Become knowledgeable about the law, and obey it. If other options fail, join the country's armed forces.

Learn Canadian history. Become familiar with traditions that are meaningful to the country. Respect others as you would have them respect you. Isn't that paramount to good citizenship? Honouring your own traditions, heritage, religion is very nice, and worthwhile. At the same time, however, fit in, won't you? Citizenship, we are informed loftily, is a two-way street.

It's past time it was seen that way, practised that way. You're welcome.

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The Genders

Every living, animate, sensate organism has a mother. Primordially lower organisms excepted. All human beings are born of a mother, critically aided by the sperm contribution of a father. Men and women couple, and of that coupling - recreation aside - the potential for another human being is created.

If we're to believe that human beings are born tabula rasa, with no knowledge other than what they will store in memory through personal experience, social interaction, observing and learning over a prolonged period representing their life span, then we must also believe that misanthropy and misandry and misogyny are learned attitudes.

This is an important distinction; we are not born to detest and abhor and to battle one another, although it is true that we are instinctively given to the herd instinct and take comfort in the company of those most like us. The corollary of which is that those who are unlike us, not of our tribe, those who don't share common practises of tradition and heritage and religion are recognized as outsiders, unworthy of equal consideration. Leaving few compunctions against oppressing those unlike ourselves.

But in a more individualistic view, take the phenomenon of misogyny where, for some reason, sometimes explicable, sometimes not, some males fear, dislike and exhibit aggressive tendencies toward women. These men will not necessarily eschew social contact with women, they will befriend individual women, marry them, have children with them, and through the course of their relationship, brutalize them, insist on controlling them, and oppress them for their own satisfaction.

Some societies encourage these practises through traditional behaviours that accept that women are inferior to men, that women will readily go astray, that women are basically evil creatures whose presence is meant to try men's patience, and that a stiff and steady male hand is required to control women's baser instincts. Women must obey men, and must place the man's interest foremost in their relationship, observing the social constraints that obligate them.

But what about societies which recognize equality of personhood and opportunities between the genders? Why is that recognition of equality so shallow in some men's perception that they constitute a brutal danger to the women who live closely with them? And how responsible for this situation are the mothers that bear these males who view women with violent distaste, and insist on being obeyed, using physical force to ensure the message has been absorbed?

Time and again women in separated situations, who have chosen for one reason or another - and most often because of physical abuse - to distance themselves from their former partners, ultimately become another unfortunate homicide statistic. The vast majority of men are respectful of women as equals, admire and support their female partners, and enjoy a balanced relationship of trust and affection. So what ails these other, aberrant males?

Simmering below the surface of every society is an undercurrent of male aggression toward women, practised by disturbed minds. In Ottawa last week a young man came to the rescue of a woman twice his age who was being repeatedly stabbed by her former common-law husband, in a back alley. The young man, in struggling to aid the woman who was bleeding profusely and crying for help, was himself stabbed, and then the attacker ran off.

A police search for the attacker whose identity was revealed by the critically wounded woman, was launched. The story of yet another dysfunctional relationship between a trusting woman and an abusive man was revealed in a few descriptive sentences by the attacked woman's sister. While the woman, Brenda Van Leyen, 47, was recovering in hospital, it was discovered that the house she owned outside Ottawa had been set on fire.

When firefighters responded, it was too late to save the structure. Shortly afterward the body of her attacker, 49-year-old Claude Legare, was discovered in the smouldering ruins of the house. One instance after another of women being battered, their children harmed and beaten, and ultimately yet another woman found dead at the hands of her former husband or partner, occurs. In this instance, the resulting tableau reversed the plot.

But there are ample other instances of psychotic male rage aimed at women, as when in 1989 the infamous 25-year-0ld Marc Lepine, convinced that his personal failures were the fault of women, strode the halls of Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, armed and determined and, carefully separating men from women, opened fire on a classroom of engineering students screaming "I hate feminists", murdering 14 outright, wounding others.

What could possibly so contort a human mind with such unreasoning hatred? This man had a mother. Had she withheld from him the reassuring comfort and sensitivity that all children require? Would that be ample reason for the boy to evolve into a seething ball of hatred toward all women? Do not all women have a critical stake in such outcomes? In the recognition that not all neglected children become mass murderers to assuage their fury.

In any event, returning to the recently-enacted theatre of the disastrous dissolution of an abusive relationship, Brenda Van Leyen need have no further fears for her future, nor the young man who rescued her, 21-year-old George Rusu, imagining the demented Claude Legare hunting him down in revenge for his timely, life-saving intervention.

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An Honourably, Worthy Judgement

A culture and a tradition, seeking its guidance from religious precepts that had their origins in a male-dominating, tribal honour system that glorified violence - against other tribes, other ideologies, other religions, other social systems - is one badly in need of a close look at itself. With a view to entering the modern world where the genders are seen to be of equal value, worthy of equal respect and opportunities. Crimes against women, seen as sanctified 'honour' redemptions of tribe and family, are viewed otherwise in Western societies.

And while, in their countries of origin, Muslim men's habits of oppressing women and dictating to them what they may and may not do - expressing without expectation of challenge what is expected of them, and what they may assume will be their fate should they chose the folly of challenging those expectations - are accepted as valid and just, they are simply recognized as crimes in the face of humanity, in the West.

There have been more than enough horror stories of women and girls being murdered by their fathers, brothers and uncles, in response to their womenfolk determining that they have the right to choose their own destiny. That this abhorrent retrieval of a family's honour from the shame of a woman's choosing to defy male authority still finds respect among too many Muslim societies confounds reason. No less the fundamental sentences meted out to women deemed to have transgressed stringent social parameters.

But then, there is nothing particularly reasonable about envisioning a woman's place as that of a virtual slave to the wishes of a husband, a father, a brother; any male relative whatever. So that when a most respectable man, a pillar of his society, a very public community leader such as Yusef Al Mezel, of Ottawa, stands before the Canadian justice system, and is held to account for his behaviour, this is just by the yardstick of acceptable Western expectations expressed by civil law.

Mr. Al Mezel threatened his daughter, 23 years of age, and wishing to be accepted as a fully independent adult, capable of selecting for herself her own passage through life, to discover her own identity in Canadian society, and to make her own decisions with respect to where and how she would like to be comfortable. He repeatedly invoked as cultural law the unappeasable reality that his daughter must submit to tradition.

Independence such as his daughter sought and claimed to be her right as a human being was out of the question for a daughter of Islam. He harassed her unmercifully, threatening violence, and not ruling out the ultimate honour-retrieval mechanism: death. Mr. Al Mezel, 44 years of age, not too old to adopt a more tolerable version of Islam, is president of the Canadian Autoworkers Local 1688, and he also had ambitions to run for a seat on Ottawa city council.

He is not totally unaware of this society's greater culture, nor of the values held dear by Canadians at large. He had, despite the civilizing effect of re-locating to Canada and taking up citizenship here with his family, violently abused his daughter Eman, shoving her into a flight of stairs, threatening to break her legs and ultimately to kill her; in his rage, smashing her computer - an acceptable example of the modern age in which they live.

Eman Al Mezel removed herself from her family home in response to her father's arrangements for her to marry a young Syrian man. Her father experienced internal pressure, anguished by the thought of the regard lost to him by his extended family, aware of the problems he was facing with a daughter refusing to be controlled by her father. She had shamed him, and she was shaming his family by her unwarranted insistence on sovereignty.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Lynn Ratushny sentenced Mr. Al Mezel to a year in jail for threatening his daughter in response to her resistance to his archaic, patriarchal demands. Mr. Al Mezel's lawyer claims it to be a "tragedy when you have a really decent person who has been a contributing member of the community ... going to jail". And she is quite correct; this does reflect a personal tragedy.

Which, however, is the real tragedy, represents the greater assault on human rights - that Eman Al Mezel chose to leave her family home, set aside her hijab and the Muslim traditions that strangled her view of her future, or that her father threatened to kill her to redeem the family's honour?

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plausible Denial

Seems like it's become a new game, (as in con-) to file suit against the Government of Canada for wrongful detention, wrongful accusations, wrongful due diligence, wrongful action targeting mainly individuals whose connections and/or whose activities and observed predilections point them out as those whose ideologies may be inimical to the country's health and longevity.

Well, of course, there are valid instances of government agencies at various levels failing the test of justice, holding suspects culpable for crimes they did not in fact commit.

And in those instances of wrongful suspicion, detection, accusation, trial and judgement resulting in long, unjust incarcerations, compensation for the torment of wrongful imprisonment, the anguish of isolation from loved ones, lost years of one's useful life, must be paid.

And in those instances monetary compensation truly is inadequate, since cash cannot buy back time lost and forever gone, relationships withered, never to be regained, self-respect injured, psyches forever traumatized.

Here, however, is another case entirely, where a Canadian visiting her country of origin claims to have been failed by the Government of Canada and its agencies. Suaad Hagi Mohamud's interview with a Canadian consular official in Kenya for the purpose of establishing her true identity in a dispute over various officials' belief that she was not the authentic holder of the passport she proffered, did not resolve the issue to her satisfaction.

In that interview, she was unable to respond to questions that anyone in her position, as the original and true passport holder would know and answer without hesitation. The most casual bits of information about the city she lived in, the company she worked for, commonly-shared local site identification were unknown to her. As was the identity of someone who guaranteed her immigration status; her son's birth date, and place of birth.

Yet she claims, and with enthusiastic backing from a demographically-supportive public, that her credibility cannot be questioned, that she is who she is. She very well may be, but it is the duty of a public servant whose expertise is in that area, to determine by simple questions and answers - not totally reliant on the other facts of the case, that she only resembled her passport photo - whether her claims were justified.

It hasn't been entirely unknown that passports are handed to near relatives to be used fortuitously for entry to Canada, whereupon the original passport holder makes a claim for loss by inadvertence of their passport, to be issued a replacement. Illegal entry to the country is a commonplace occurrence, and the sale and/or misuse of passports is also lamentably common.

So, the fact that Ms. Mohamud feels entirely justified in demonstrating her ire with the manner in which she felt she was unjustly treated by a government which owes her much as a citizen, by suing it - us, the taxpayers in fact - for $2.4-million as compensation for "callous and reckless treatment of her while she was abroad", is rather rich for the tastes of most Canadians.

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