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.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winged Billions

The nations give, the kleptocrats taketh away. How dreadfully unusual.

That those in high political places see opportunities for themselves in the generous funding that emanates from wealthy nations proffering aid to the disadvantaged nations of the world, in a spirit of genuine brotherhood aided and abetted by pangs of guilt. The countries of the West, those very countries which managed to become 'civilized' while others still savagely beset one another harbour the heartache of regret for past misdemeanors.

When they were lustily and greedily occupying third-world countries and exploiting the natural resources for their own enrichment while sometimes brutally, sometimes paternalistically administering the affairs of those countries as their personal resource-treasuries, they considered themselves entitled to do so. Now, in retrospect, they bemoan their previous state of errant empire building and declare themselves everlastingly guilty of abuse of human rights.

To assuage collective consciences, the wealthy countries of the world have been busying themselves sending along vast sums of money to enable their poor cousins, left with the heritage of governance, civil infrastructure, social welfare and jurisprudence, to administer themselves to the very best of their abilities. Alas, the very best of their abilities appear to have succumbed to reverencing tribal animosities.

In some of those formerly exploited colonial countries the success of building upon the framework of democratic governance, civil service and infrastructure, state security and legal systems has led to success; in so many others it has been truncated, becoming a weak facsimile of the original, a pretense, a macabre shield against the truth of failure to build a functioning society.

Very little of those international funds dribble their way down to the people who need it. As evidenced in improved health care, child and maternal health, literacy, employment opportunities, civil administrations - all dreadfully lacking. Those who hold power in autocratic quasi-democratic countries permit very little to flow down to staunch the tide of poverty and disease. Even in South Africa, Nelson Mandela laments that very fact.

The West simply cannot stand the blame hurled at it by its formerly exploited colonies. Wincing, it turns its pockets inside out and drains its treasuries to plow billions after billions into failed economies and state institutions led by inept and corrupt leaders who prey on their own people. And why should Afghanistan be any different, after all? Even while Canada and other NATO countries have invested vast wealth into the country, there is little to show.

There are ample opportunities for ramp ceremonies, where young people representing the NATO and UN-allied military under ISAF, do their utmost to meet the challenges of battling an insurgency that in no way resembles a regular armed force, but which strikes where and when it can, silently, covertly, deadly. And where a corrupt administration threatens to make peace with its enemy the Taliban, while urging foreign countries to give even more.

Now, the unsurprising but still meddlesome revelation that billions in cash representing foreign-aid funding for humanitarian needs in the country keeps flowing out of the country, enriching those very corrupt government officials that the Afghan population deplores and detests. The money, packed neatly in suitcases, even stacked on pallets, is flown to Dubai.

Customs records are meticulously maintained for this is considered an entirely legal procedure. Senior politicians and other officials on their way to Dubai can more casually smuggle out unregistered sums of cash; those using a VIP lane at Kabul airport simply bypass the checks. The Afghan Ministry of Finance itself estimates $9-million daily to be flying out of the country.

Kabul airport's chief customs officer explains helpfully that his staff bows to pressure to allow cash through when they discover smuggling to be taking place. When, he explained, a pile of millions of dollars was being sent en route to Dubai, undeclared, "there was lots of pressure from my higher ups. It came from very, very senior people. They told me there was an arrangement with the central bank and told me to let it go."

The Islamic 'honour' system of money transference across the globe is effected here through the use of couriers, part of the hawala money transfer network. Thus, there is honour in smuggling money received through international aid transfers meant to build health clinics, schools, courthouses, and to offer medical and social services to the Afghan people.

Moreover, President Karzai is still busy on his very particular mission to palaver with the Taliban, to offer them governance-sharing opportunities. While on the one hand, insisting that Afghanistan is in dire need of the protective presence of NATO to defend the country and its people from the Taliban, he designs a future allied with them.

An aspiration that fits very nicely into Pakistan's plans too, as it happens. The Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, always engaged closely with the Taliban and indeed intertwined with them - despite its urgent denials of same when faced with accusations by the west - has been helpful in arranging meetings with leaders of the insurgency networks.

All of which sinister plots are utterly false, since both the Afghan and the Pakistan governments deny there is any credibility in those (well verified) claims.

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Casting Blame

These things do happen. Matters getting out of hand. The best laid plans and all that. There is a spirit of bonhomie, and then suddenly, everything collapses because of some unforeseen incident, as a result of a lapse of diplomatic niceties. One cannot, after all, extend warmth and companionship on the one hand, and consolidate it with a slap in the face. But it does happen. And when it does, there are unfortunate consequences.

Take, for example, the incident that took place in Israel, with the visit of American Vice-President Joe Biden. With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doing his utmost to assure Mr. Biden that Israel was fully cognizant of the strictures that the United States' administration was placing on its ambitions to ensure that the aspirations of the Palestinian Authority not be cast asunder by any unfortunate moves.

All was sweetness and light, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, until the Israeli media came out with the revelation that the Israeli government intended to proceed with building in east Jerusalem. Not then and there, but these were future plans, and had long since been cast for processing; this was simply an ill-timed revelation in the media of work already scheduled to proceed. Bad timing.

Even though the Palestinian Authority at the very same time was blessing and celebrating Palestinian "martyrs" whose martyrdom was achieved at the cost of the lives of Israeli citizens, at the very time that the United States was vigorously pursuing the PA to halt its support for terrorist activities, and Mr. Biden selectively chose to overlook that little item.

It was his insulted reaction to the news of routine public works scheduling - seen as an affront to him personally as the signal representative of President Barack Obama, who brooks no dissent from those whose dependence upon him and the largess of the United States- that was later manifested in public rebukes and very public indignities visited upon a later-visiting PM Netanyahu, in Washington.

Stern, strict, confrontational, and demanding.

Now take the situation where friendly ties were being burnished heralding a new era of trust and understanding between the United States and Russia, two long-time adversaries on the world stage, but needing to come together in a spirit of amity for the well-being of the Globe, and the necessity to halt nuclear proliferation. At the G8 and G20 meetings in Canada, Presidents Medvedev and Obama were open and friendly.

During President Dmitri Medvedev's visit to Washington he was wined and dined and friendlied by President Obama to the nth degree. And then, oh dear, a diplomatic faux pas. The revelations that the long-term presence of no fewer than eleven Russian spies on American soil had been uncovered. Espionage, that very dirty word. A scandal.

Suddenly the warmth threatens to cool down.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made light of the zeal of the American security agents unveiling their meticulous work in unravelling the presence and activities of the Russian spies who had lived, thrived, and infiltrated the U.S. establishment for the purpose of securing vital data to be funnelled back to their handlers. Didn't happen.

Barking up the wrong tree, fellas.

Anger there may be, but it is on gentle sizzle, and seems destined to remain at that level, until it fizzles out. As long as no other embarrassing and untoward undercover activities are revealed to the detriment of both sides. President Barack Obama did not receive a dressing down by either the Russian President nor the Prime Minister. Although the Russian press are having a go at it.

There is much to gain in letting this matter fade into the distance. There is much to lose in either side feigning umbrage and outrage. For, as the editor of one Russian news website commented, "After all this is the only successful avenue in his [Obama's] foreign policy."

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The Agony of Rejection

As opposed, say, to the righteousness of entitlement.

The self-obsession of people who seem to think that they are admirable in some very signal ways, comes to the forefront when they are challenged by reality. And reality is that small children have their place. In a playground. At home with their adoring parents and extended family. Strolling through a park in a baby carriage. At the pediatrician's office, ensuring their health status is above par. Being read to, from the age of three months.

Three months. That's a quite young child. Well, proud parents do read to their children at that age. No doubt feeling that intelligence seeps through every pore of their child's being, and reading the Financial Post to a child will prepare him/her for high finance and big bucks. How droll. Parents do like to be stopped by strangers asking to see the little darling's face, because people do enjoy seeing children of all ages. At area parks, strolling about with their parents.

Decidedly not at upscale restaurants. Or not-so-upscale eateries. Where people like to get away, relax, enjoy an evening meal untrammelled by the presence of children. There are always fast-food places where kids are in their element. Those parents who have higher aspirations for their children, to haul them off to more notable dining places should take steps to teach them the wisdom of being seen and not heard.

Alas, a three-month-old will be heard.

But in the case of John Taylor, chef and operator of Domus Cafe at ByWard Market, and the newly-opened Taylor's Genuine Wine and Food Bar, a trendy new restaurant on Bank Street, and his wife and business partner, they've run afoul of pretentious aspirations for a three-month-old child on the part of its parents and proud aunties. Whose idea to celebrate a birthday was for them all to assemble at the new wine/food bar and inaugurate it as a baby park.

Your heart simply goes out to such people, exemplary citizens sensitively cognizant of the rights of others to peace and serenity in the upscale atmosphere of a new wine/food bar whose celebrated (in Ottawa, anyway) chef proposes to give another area of town a taste of exquisite dining opportunities. They will countenance the presence of young children at Domus, but at the wine/food bar? not so much.

Come at lunch time, please do, but dinner? kindly reconsider. Such an insult, having their rights trampled by a restaurant owner who has in mind all the complicated nuances of an infant present where space does not lend itself, nor do the activities of the wait staff, let alone the customers for whom eating out in this divine new atmosphere reflects an escape from the home brood.

But for Sisters Triest and Joey Rathwell and Ruth Gard, proud mother of little Jackson Gard, this is a travesty, an injustice, an insult, their rights trampled. Cue the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Really. There is much satisfaction in high dudgeon and low umbrage. It's newsworthy. It merits a full colour photo of three attractive women with soulful expressions edging toward smiling spite, baby between them.

How dare the proprietors of a private restaurant such as Taylor's Genuine Wine and Food Bar, invite them to reconsider their desire to foist the presence of a baby upon the restaurant and its clients? How dare they recommend a lunch date when what they aspired to was a dinner date in full regalia of extended family of five, plus baby in a in a 'car seat' resting on a restaurant chair, included in the celebrations?

The restaurant, according to its owners, is meant to be an "adult place". They have no ill will toward children. But do feel that reasonable people can understand their position, and not wish to infringe upon the rights of others. Say, for example, other parents of children who have arranged for babysitters to tend to their offspring to give them the freedom to get out for the evening, one of relaxation and freedom from children's demands.

All the accommodating recommendations made by the restaurant's owners, inclusive of picking up the dinner tab should it be agreed that the child would be left in the care of a baby-sitter, failed to soothe the hurt feelings of those whose plans have gone awry. "That's not going to fly", said one of the sisters. After all, it's a matter of dignity, of human rights.

And so they will impose upon this restaurateur-couple the obligation under the current law as it pertains to the operation of Human Rights Commissions, the necessity to defend themselves. It will cost them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and the smug sisters will have their tab picked up by the taxpayers.

You just don't fool around with peoples' human rights, and think you can get away with it.

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Assumed Identities

Germany feels out of sorts, finding Chinese spies have infiltrated the country, intent on discovering the whereabouts of Falun Gong practitioners in the country. On the very eve of Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to China, an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and diplomatic disarray erupts. Well, it's fairly well known that most countries engage in espionage of one kind or another, be it for industrial secrets, or political or military reasons; in this instance it is for social/ideological/political reasons.

It is awkward, and things will straighten out.

After all, the heads of the two countries just met in complete amity in Toronto, during the G8 and G20 summits, didn't they? Where good fellowship prevailed, in an atmosphere of collegiality and determination to solve the ills of the world, did they not? It is also where U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed matters of mutual interest, and were seen smiling broadly and warmly at one another in published photographs.

And it is true that when world leaders meet, they view one another as human beings, individuals. Friendships are established and trust is built. They feel, through meeting one another in the flesh, even for relatively short periods of time, a certain closeness in the heights of their powerful executive positions, as equals.

Each operates from the thin air of their political aeries and when they meet as heads of state, it is no accident those meetings are termed "summits".

So it is extremely awkward and fiendishly difficult politically when the security agencies of their various national establishments come head to head with malfeasance from one to the other. That is, embedded secret agents are somehow revealed, their cover blown, as the saying goes and their real identities revealed, causing umbrage in one country and embarrassment in the other.

Russian spies discovered to be operating in the United States, tch-tch.

As though the very idea of such an event is inconceivable, as though the United States does not now have and always has had, its own spy agents ensconced within Russia, quietly and with determination, executing his or her own espionage-related directives from the CIA. However, having been found out, and having been followed for a period of time to establish the required evidence through which the presence of the spies is validated and an order for their expulsion obtained, they are outed.

And, as with Israel equipping its agents out on dangerous missions, with identities and passports of other countries, representing individuals whose background has been created for that very purpose, occasionally taking on the persona of an actual person, or some who have died, so too did these Russian agents fake their original and nationality.

As Canadians! Oh my, such consternation from among the Canadians whose names and backgrounds have been compromised...
"You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house, etc. All these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US and send intels [intelligence reports] to C [SVR headquarters]."
Are we, ignorant of details, but titillated by presumptions, to imagine that the embedded agents became so comfortable with their assumed identities that they simply felt like staying and becoming the people whose existence they emulated, deciding to default from their original purpose and intent and just meld into the society they'd become part of, delivering no useful intelligence to their political masters?
"The targets of the FBI's investigation include covert SVR agents who assume false identities, and who are living in the United States on long-term 'deep-cover' assignments. These Russian secret agents work to hide all connections between themselves and Russia, even as they act at the direction and under the control of the SVR; these secret agents are typically called 'illegals'."
'Illegals'; yes, we assumed as much. But thanks very much for the explanation. This will, without doubt, be playing at a theatre near you, before too long. Watch for it.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canadian Values and Faith Journeys

Well bugger the Canadian dedication to egalitarianism, to a well-adjusted and well-functioning pluralist society where people from various ethnic backgrounds, different cultures, heritage, class and ideologies, not to mention religions, are meant to get along famously with one another. The wide open fresh-air spaces of the country, its guarantees under the law to all and sundry of its citizens, the capacious social welfare infrastructure and the wealth of its natural resources and its industry, just automatically seem to invigorate people with the hale conscience of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Once immigrants take up Canadian citizenship they become magically transformed - make that reasonably transformed - into accepting and becoming meaningfully-gracious citizens of the country. Equality under the laws of the land. The challenges to learn about one another, and appreciate the diversities that bloom within society, lending an air of exoticism to Canadian stodginess, makes us more well-rounded, more interesting, more challenging, more attractive.

That's the theory, isn't it?

It's an amazing transformation; all social, political, religious enmities left behind in the original societies and political cultures that fostered them. Once people reach the shores of Canada they relinquish the suspicions and the mistrust they harboured against other people. Simply because they become more reasonable because of the fact that they are now, within Canada, with its freedom-guarantees, part of a social culture that fosters amity between people.

So it stands to reason, obviously, that the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is set to host the third annual Journey of Faith Conference, organized by its chairman, Imam Saed Rageah of the Abu Huraira Centre and Toronto mosque to help Muslim youth find their way back to Islam. To more fully appreciate the roots, the values and the justice system, and the need for spiritual struggle to fulfill their obligations to Islam.

Inspirational speakers have been invited to loud acclaim from among the community for whom the Toronto mosque and its imam remain so highly regarded. And it is, under these faithful circumstances, disquieting to learn that the federal government of this country has become involved to disturb the serene proceedings of faith. Refusing to issue a visitor's visa to the featured speaker at the conference, Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik.

How utterly untoward. The organizers of the annual Journey of Faith are rather dismayed, but not deterred, for on their website for this grand event they bravely declare:
"The organizers of the 3rd Annual Journey of Faith conference regret to announce that Dr. Zakir Naik will be unable to attend this year's conference due to the uncertainty of his admission to Canada. The conference will go on as planned and Dr. Zakir Naik will be joining us via live video conferencing."
What a relief, he will be as good as there. Virtually there, as it were. What's up with the government? Oh, some unease with the presence of Dr. Naik just because one of the Toronto 18 terror suspects declared his appreciation of the sermons issued by this televangelist? Oh, just because the man preaches hatred and is a severely divisive figure? Hatred? As in "every Muslim should be a terrorist", that Jews are "our staunchest enemy", and support for Osama bin Laden?

Hmm, right. And the other featured personalities? Espousing violent jihad, right. Exposing the Jews as the "extremists of the world", right. Oh, and the correct way to go about beating one's wife, right. Yes, that does not quite seem to reflect Canadian values, to be sure. And the mosque, and its faithful, and its imam, are all aware of the controversy, and the fact that their version of the journey of faith does not reflect Canadian values or social mores?

Um yes, they're intent on 'spreading Islam'. Allah above all. And these are Canadian citizens? Canada has admitted these people, considering them to be capable of adjusting to Canadian values, and accepting the Canadian system of equality, and understanding that racism and bigotry are not commensurate with those values? This demographic, deeply immersed in their faith which they claim is one of peace, agitates for division and hatred?

That the very government that agreed to give them safe haven, and to guarantee them all manner of individual freedoms and legal protections under our system of liberal democratic governance rejects the admission of a hate-monger whose message appears to resonate with them, gives them no hint of their inattention to Canadian values? Their defiant disregard of those values appears, on sincere reflection to speak to their inability to adjust to universal civility.

Intriguingly enough the topics "Women in Islam", and "status of women in accordance with the Qur'an" and "What non-Muslim personalities say about Islam and Prophet Muhammad", speaks volumes about what the agenda is. Attesting to the unsuitability of these people to Canadian citizenship and residence. That's ten thousand young Muslim men and women in our midst who embrace a version of Islam that is obviously antithetical to Canadian values.

That's ten thousand too many.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

That Summer Camp Experience

It would be so very interesting to read the reactions of anti-Israel groups so anxious to reveal to the world at large their contempt for Israel and their brave support of Palestinians in Gaza, their solidarity with Hamas controlling Gaza, were they to read the latest news coming out of the Strip. Not that minds set in stone with respect to their dearly-held beliefs would take much notice of such news in any event. Any news that paints Hamas in the smudgy light of unreason and totalitarianism does not sit well with a mindset acclimated to believing otherwise.

But there the news is, available to anyone for whom it might be of interest. After all, the well-being of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children living in Gaza is involved. There is the little matter of the humanitarian UN-mission in Gaza and its summer camps installed there for the purpose of giving Palestinian children the child-friendly experience of summer holidays, a carefree summertime environment.

In May, the UN children's camp program suffered a bit of a set-back when the largest of the camps was set afire and a note left threatening to kill the UN Relief and Works Agency head in Gaza. This is the same UNRWA head who so very often comes across as anti-Israel; in fact anti-Semitic, but then such sentiments are often quietly cloaked in the larger picture of an agonized humanitarian working on behalf of an embattled population. Victimized by Hamas, and as a result targeted by a country which takes exception to being the recipients of armed attacks by Hamas.

And now there's been a second children's camp attack. Fatah officials were convinced, at the time of the May attack, that Hamas operatives were involved. Hamas, needless to say, denies any such thing. Yet Hamas is not inordinately fond of the UN's children's camps' agenda, and they have set up their own, alternative camps, which reflect the Hamas agenda. Inclusive of propaganda of a quite incendiary nature, teaching children to hate 'the enemy' and building future support for their annihilation-of-Israel mandate.

On this second occasion, masked gunmen expressed their fanatical Islamist Salafist disgust at the presence of Western-oriented camps designed to help children have fun in the summer sun, with swimming and sports, and art activities planned to give them an experience approximating a normal childhood. The attackers tied up and beat the camp guards before setting fire to chairs, tables, tents and other summer fun-in-the-sun appurtenances.

UNRWA's Gaza director, John Ging, understandably is less than thrilled with the attack on the camp. "This is another example of the growing levels of extremism in Gaza and further evidence, if that were needed, of the urgency to change the circumstances on the ground." The urgency to change the circumstances would not reflect a need to remove Hamas by any means possible, or to urge it to find peace with Israel. Rather, it would reflect Mr. Ging's apprehension that Israel's blockade of Gaza, meant to protect Israel from Hamas's threat to remove it from the geography, must undergo a change of some kind.

Fling open all the crossings. Israel has ample experience with what occurs when crossings are opened. They become a direct and violent threat to Israelis with violently predatory Palestinians seeking every opportunity to demonstrate their hatred for the Jewish state and its Jewish inhabitants. There are more than enough threats from within Israel itself, with the presence, among Israeli-Arabs, of individuals intent on bringing harm to Jews. Vigilance has its limits; the security of Israel and its inhabitants is always uppermost in the minds of its government, and it can stretch only so far, and no further.

Separation of the antagonists is a necessity, to secure the safety of those who are targeted. The ideas of John Ging and others who represent the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees always seem to give short shrift to the security needs of Israel; the fact that Jews are targets of hate and violence does not seem quite to impinge on the consciousness of UN types. Nor does it ever seem to occur to them how peculiar it is that an entire population has, in the most supine manner conceivable, lent themselves to the status of 'homeless' and 'refugees', hugely dependent on foreign largess rather than their own independent spirit.

Palestinian 'refugees' have traded their pride and honour for the title of pitiable 'refugees', when time has given them ample opportunity to demonstrate that those who govern them have the will and the capacity to erect civil structures reflective of a civil society, one that takes the opportunities life offers and makes the most of them. Where enterprise and the potential to conduct a meaningful lifestyle, growing businesses and employing people, and building a viable state is demonstrably desirable and possible.

Shedding the mantle of 'refugee', and proudly taking on that of a people determined to aspire to a worthwhile future. Rather than nursing an aged grievance and refusing to surrender the sense of themselves as helpless victims, as ill-done-by and uprooted by a vicious conspiracy to deprive them of their heritage and geography. Because sharing that geography was never seen to be in their interest, and no more does it at the present time. Reflected by the rejection on countless occasions, of accepting Israel's presence and moving on from there, to build their own state by accepting peace.

UNRWA operates over a thousand summer camps, for a quarter-million Gaza children. Hamas too, operates summer camps and they focus on teaching the Koran and the philosophy behind their purpose. Central to their philosophy, for any that might not imagine it, is inciting hatred of Israel, complemented by paramilitary training. About one hundred thousand children from Gaza attend these Hamas-run summer camps. And, as Hamas is the ruling authority in Gaza, it 'responded' to the attack on the UN's summer camp. For which prompt action after the fact, Mr. Ging complimented Hamas, just as he had formerly, after the May attack.

Mr. Ging obviously cannot conceive of any reason why Hamas or any other terror-inclined group would take umbrage at the UNRWA curriculum and Western-oriented education process. Teaching young children art and theatre arts, and giving them the opportunity to play organized sports is obviously not reflective of a more relevant teaching opportunity, one that might involve the correct handling of firearms, for example, and teaching military drills, related to the vital importance in Islam, of jihad. But Mr. Ging has vowed to see that the camp is repaired and that summer camp experiences offered to children from Gaza by the UN is not impaired.

Perhaps Canadian 'pro-Palestinian' activists are aware that compared to other Salafi-Muslim groups which consider Hamas 'moderate' in their mandate and inclination, Hamas has its own detractors from within the fundamentalist Arab-Muslim jihadist tribes. On the other hand, Hamas too, has been urging Palestinians in Gaza to observe more strict Islamic rules on mode of dress, on rejecting Western-style films, art, music and those Internet cafes and restaurants that do not confine themselves strictly to Islam's strict face of demeanor and public attire.

On the other hand, even if they did become more knowledgeable about the nuances of the rising tide of Islamist fanaticism, it would only spur those Canadians who so vociferously espouse their support for same, and rejection of all that Israel represents in mirror-reflection of their own country's democratic values and system of legal human rights guarantees, to find ever more reasons to admire the fundamentals of Islam.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tax-Funded Apologies

Where does a government's responsibility to its entire population and its security begin and end? To ensure security in the face of a real and present danger, particularly when a human-engineered catastrophe like 9-11 occurred to shock the world at the depth of its successfully sinister disregard for innocent lives, represents a monumental challenge. Exacerbated and complicated by the need to protect the civil liberties and freedoms of the very citizens that the government must protect.

Invariably, there will be some untoward and unforeseen consequences.

It stands to reason that if and when violent antagonists of law and order take it upon themselves to destroy the comfort and serenity of entire populations through their dedication to mass murder, and those who represent those violent antagonists are exclusively Muslim, that all Muslims will then be viewed with suspicion as potential terrorists. Reasonable people most certainly do not believe that all Muslims are terrorists.

It is simply that reality has presented the obvious; all the terrorists that threaten the security of the West are Muslim.

That the Muslim community by and large, remains relatively silent on the issue, other than to decry the situation they have been placed within, being targeted as a visible minority by a newly-coined term; Islamophobia, simply masks their collective lack of responsibility in taking back the peaceful aspect of their religion. There has been no mass protest among Muslims, insisting that Islam does not prescribe mass terror as a mechanism and means by which Islam may spread its influence.

Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders, and the heads of some Islamic states have been severely implicated in encouraging violent jihad. Across the Islamic world calls to honour jihad have echoed and young Muslims have responded. The net of terror that has been spread across the world by the violence visited upon various parts of the globe, directed toward Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslim 'apostates' has completely unsettled the world.

Within Canada there are mosques which have been implicated in proven and real instances where successfully-received messages of violent jihad have been absorbed and acted upon. Foreign clerics travel to Canada to preach incendiary versions of Islam, and to recruit from among eager conscripts to defence of Islamic values. Values recognized as Islamic often seek dominance over the laws of Canada. From within mosques and community centres come attitudes of aggressive denials of peaceful pluralism within Canada.

It's little wonder that there will be instances where Muslims, particularly those of Arab descent, double citizens of Western countries and the countries where they were born, would have been viewed with suspicion and no little amount of alarm, when incomplete 'evidence' surfaced to implicate them in activities which might prove to be harmful to the West. Which is precisely what happened to a number of Arab-Canadians, particularly those of Syrian descent.

The unfortunate case of Maher Arar, who suffered a year in a Syrian prison on suspicion of terror-affiliation, when he was rendered against his will to Syria for 'interrogation' with the assistance of the U.S. and Canada, was settled with an apology and a $10-million settlement. Now, three other Canadians who suffered detention and torture in Syria and Egypt are suing the Government of Canada for its alleged role in their incarceration and torture.

A government-ordered enquiry found that Canadian officials with Foreign Affairs lacked alacrity in acting on behalf of the three men. And that both the RCMP and CSIS were in possession of faulty information implicating the men in terrorist activities, information that was shared with their Syrian and Egyptian counterparts. Now long returned to Canada after their ordeal, the three are each suing the government for $60-million, and their families are additionally suing the government, as well.

Will $200+-million of Canadian taxpayer funded compensation soothe the humiliation and the pain of those involved? Will this sum enable the three men and their families to forgive and forget? Will this somehow make Canadians feel better and safer about themselves, if they know that the government has doled out this financial apology? Will this ensure that Muslims within Canada have a keener appreciation of what life in this country avails them?

Judge Iacobucci, in his findings of 'deficiencies' on the part of Foreign Affairs and the country's two policing agencies for failing to properly consider the likelihood that the men in question would be tortured, delivered his considered and honest and juridical opinion on the case. He did not, needless to say, deliver himself of the opinion that the country's treasury should be significantly drained to assuage the harm done.

There are some who might consider that the claims of the three men are extraordinarily out of whack with what occurred. The lawsuits against the country and the taxpayer are somewhat excessive in character and demand.

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Fascist, Theistic, Communist: Difference?

Ideological extremes symbolize by their very nature the very worst that collective humankind can achieve. In the guise of creating a better world, a society more attuned to the collective needs of people, where everyone is equal and equally entitled theoretically, and which, in reality turns out to be a world of extreme repression and inhumanity, we have states like Burma, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and those simply edging toward their accomplishments, and doing very well at it indeed. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Venezuela. Not to mention the outstanding African countries of Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen.

These core countries' overwhelming hatred of the very existence of free and democratic countries whose open distaste for all that the repressed ones represent in the scope of their human-rights-abusing exploitation of their people, form a bloc of aggressive antagonists to human rights. Yet they are obsessed with claiming that they and their ideologies of repression represent human rights-observance, while those of the West are the repressive, threatening nations. Iran delights in claiming the West is demonic in its intent to destroy humanity.

Hugo Chavez is hosting Syria's Bashar Assad, both strong allies of Iran and North Korea. Chavez crows that Latin America and the Arab world are prepared to play a "key role in freeing the world, by struggling against "Imperialism, capitalism, and neo-liberal hegemony that today threatens the survival of the human race." All is not lost, however, as Chavez further states: "But one day the genocidal state of Israel will be put in its place and let's hope that a really democratic state emerges there, with which we can share a path and ideas."

That would, of course, come to reality with the Jewish presence expunged, the state given a name alteration, and the millions of 'refugee' Palestinians return. Israel, Chavez asserts "...has become the assassin arm of the United States; no one can doubt it. It is a threat to all of us. Not just to you but to us as well. A threat to the countries who fight for their freedom", according to Reuters news agency. For his part, Assad had high praise for Chavez, for "supporting just causes both in Latin America, our region and throughout the world."

A mutual admiration society of the first order. Whose agenda hides behind a transparent shield of turning the message of the free West and the democratic order of nations inside-out and upside-down, handily shifting the mantle of a responsible world order onto the slumped shoulders of their failed governance. Here is the risible convergence of a theocratic order intent on restoring itself to a former glory of world control through universally-imposed Islamic Sharia, and a staunch Marxist agenda, embracing as brothers in a fascistic celebration of mutual aspirations.

And North Korea, another great good friend of those who aspire to rescue the world from the domination of the West? Well, North Korea, indifferent to feedings its hugely indigent population, has spared no expense to acquire weapons of mass destruction. It has biological agents like anthrax, botulism and mnemonic plague stored for future use, along with chemical agents like mustard gas, phosgene, and sarin to be deployed at the most convenient time.

And if that's not enough, how about nuclear warheads? It is reputed to have between two and eight small nuclear bombs. "Small" in the parlance of today's armaments industry is relative; those small payloads represent bombs of the intensity of those that the U.S. dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during WWII, and the horrendous effects of those devices are legendary, the huge loss of life and the utter flattening of those cities.

North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile, its most powerful, although it has many others as well, is capable of launching a nuclear warhead to reach Europe, much of the U.S. and Australia. And North Korea, just a nudge here, in case anyone has forgotten, is ruled by a cunning lunatic. He and his regime know nothing but warfare, and threaten to impose it at any provocation, even if the provocation emanates from them, outwardly.

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Living In A Fascist State

That's what righteous protesters at the G20 summit consider Canada to resemble; a fascist state. They have the guaranteed freedom of peaceful assembly and protest. They live in a liberal democratic country. Their education compares with among the finest in the world. This is a vital observation, since many of the peaceful demonstrators - the protesters who come out in sympathy with the under-developed world, and the poor who live anywhere, including within this country - are often represented by the offspring of the comfortable middle-class.

This is a country where social welfare and health-related spending takes a huge whack out of government coffers. Tax funded, of course. To benefit the entire society. And it does, by and large, although private enterprises of a philanthropic and humanistic nature also do their best to assist in looking to the welfare of the indigent, the ill, the drug-and-alcohol addicted; those who live on the streets. For it seems that every country has its unfortunates, and it is incumbent upon the government and the citizens of every country to aid those needing it.

It is in countries like Canada that true regret exists that not all individuals are capable or willing or responsible to look after their own fortunes. No one in this country will starve, however, and there are accommodations, however raw, available to look after peoples' basic needs. Not, unfortunately, other needs, those which attenuate their lifespans and their health conditions. This is where personal responsibility enters the picture.

This is not a police state. The little lefty-absorbed, human rights-supporting university students who express outrage that the police have bundled those whose behaviour is threatening and dangerous to others into brief incarceration, and who speak of the bilge they were served passing as food, and who indignantly declare this to be a fascist state are deluding themselves, but not others. They are play-acting at being mature, responsible adults.

The mature, responsible adults are those who live in the neighbourhood that has been trashed. Who have reason to feel put upon and indignant, and who declare it their belief that these protesters should be put where they belong, behind bars. We should, of course, draw a line between the legitimate protesters, those who take grave affront at the very idea that a group of world leaders, some of them autocratic, some tyrannical, some twisted by ideology or by fundamental theism, should control the lives of ordinary people.

Often enough it is for the ordinary people of the countries involved to decide whether they wish to effect a change, if they can. And it does rankle to see some of the countries which in fact pose a real threat to the world order, assembled in Toronto, alongside some of the more impeccably respectable world leaders - although even within that group there are some questionable candidates for an insane asylum at worst, prison at best.

Assemble, and protest if you will, if it makes you feel better, if it relieves you of irritation, of the feeling of helplessness, of disregard for authority. Anarchic intent of a peaceful variety can be expressed legitimately. But here's the rub; those peaceful protesters who feel they have a legitimate grievance and want to have their voices heard, must realize their presence has been infiltrated by violent thugs. With criminal intent to violet action.

Who rampaged through the streets of Toronto, and continue to do so. They have few scruples, as is evidenced by their vicious beating of a female security guard in front of a bank they trashed. They represent sewer rats, scrambling out of the sewage grates, and in fact, they did just that. They also hid behind bushes, to spring out at opportune times to do their thing. And their thing is to sow chaos, simply because it is so invigorating, at such times of great social tension, to confront and to compromise others' safety.

Because we live in a free society, thugs can come out of the woodwork, or out from under their usual damp, rocky places to pose as ordinary citizens, then swiftly alter their clothing to black complete with face masks; posture, threaten, provoke, smash, and run for the safety of anonymity back into plain clothing, counting on their activities not being detected and apprehended in a timely manner. A pair of Summits costing the nation a billion dollars?

Well, here's the reason for all that elaborate security training, overtime, hotel booking, and protective fencing to ensure that groups from PETA, known for their enthusiastic violence, and violence-prone home-grown anarchists, and the sinister Black Block brigade don't create an untenable chaos. Which they most certainly set out to do. And managed, despite all the combined security, to give Toronto residents a show of what their normally decent city is not comprised of.

Tossing firebombs at police vehicles, then happily circling the result, with the sightseers eager to snap as many photos of civic 'unrest' and 'disobedience' as they possibly can. People prone to celebrating the lower animal within, burnishing their credentials as courageous provocateurs, intent on sticking it to The Man, certified psychopaths, happy at this opportunity to wreak havoc and thumbing their nose at security, had an absolute ball. Which isn't quite yet concluded.

"We're here and we're here to fight. Let's take back our streets!" These aren't the grandmotherly activists, the folksy concerned, the people concerned about welfare rates and those with disabilities, the animal rights seal hunt protesters. And oh yes, the anti-Israel groups who will not let any occasion slip by whatever the protest, to haul out their incendiary Jew-bating signs just to let the world know they haven't gone away.

"We're here because we want to confront the security apparatus, we want to confront the borders that we face." "The passion for freedom is stronger than all prison walls." Fatuous, egregiously-stupid statements that are utterly meaningless in a free society, guaranteeing ingrates their rights to protest whatever they wish, but not in whatever manner they wish to do so. There are those among the protesters who will eventually grow up; this, part of their growing pains.

There are others whose psychotic impulses to upturn societal norms and agitate violently for their own juvenile satisfactions who will never represent anything but a black rim of decay and monumental personal failure to outlive adolescent social aggression. Posturing, pustulent, craven, and sadly miserable relics of days when troglodytes roamed the Earth.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

"Immensely Gratifying"

It hardly seemed possible that Lord Black of Crossharbour would be seen as a felon. That one day he would stand in an American court charged with criminal offences that would garner him a six-+year incarceration in a U.S. federal prison. This was a man who knew his way around. Had friends in high places. Was highly respected in some circles and derided in others as a too-sharp businessman. But he was judged and found guilty of the charges brought against him.

Not all the charges. There were 17 counts of criminal conduct, including racketeering, money laundering and tax evasion. The trial took three months where the prosecution and the defence brought forward evidence and made their arguments to the judge and jury. Thirteen of the original 17 charges were considered by the jury. And he was acquitted on nine of the thirteen, found guilty of four. Then sentenced to six and a half years in Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida.

Where his wife, living in their Florida mansion, could visit him comfortably and conveniently. During his trial, Conrad Black was impulsively upbeat, confident, brash, certain he would be cleared of all charges brought against him. And his colleagues. He was disappointed and taken aback at the betrayal of one of his closest friends and business partners, who shortened his own sentence by testifying against Lord Black.

This is a man who continually aspired. He aspired to buy and own businesses, and he sold them, sometimes not in very congenial circumstances. And he had a love affair with the newspaper business. At one time representing as one of the largest newspaper-holding interests in North America. And he started a new, Canadian national newspaper that became the very best in the country, with a stable of reporters and columnists second to none, expressing mostly conservative, but occasionally also liberal views.

It must have been utterly devastating for this proud and pompous man to understand finally that the American justice system was intent on putting him away, out of society, for over six years of his life. In the U.S. system, not much time off for good behaviour. And here's the thing of it. Conrad Black is no intellectual slouch. He is amazingly good with language and his elegance and capability is evident to anyone who reads his writings.

Is there anyone who has never read something this man has written? Scholarly biographies, newspaper articles, letters-to-the-editor, opinion pieces. And emails. He responds, from his prison cell, to each and every email that anyone sends to him. Generously, effusively, kindly, he disputes, corrects, or agrees with strangers who take umbrage at his conclusions, or who congratulate him for the clarity of his understanding.

And while a less optimistic, less determined, less gifted and intelligent individual might have crawled into dedicated obscurity while locked away in a prison cell, he instead chose to communicate, to continue writing, to explain himself, and to gift the reading world with his beliefs and his perceptions. He has done far more than that. Aside from involving himself in ongoing self-imposed writing tasks, preparing additional manuscripts for publication, he has shared his writing knowledge and expertise.

While in prison he has undertaken to teach writing classes. He claims that his surroundings and the structure in which he is held, and its administration is one he can appreciate; it is no dungeon, it does represent a somewhat enlightened prison atmosphere. Lord Black sees his fellow inmates as little different in character and personality than those he is aware of and acquainted with, in the outside world. He is held in some esteem by the prison population who appreciate his teaching efforts on their behalf.

Surely, with the finding of the Supreme Court of the United States that ruled in favour of his appeal to set aside his three fraud convictions under the 'honest services fraud statute', it may be further acknowledged that the two and a half years of incarceration he has already served is more than adequate to represent the remaining charges. He poses no threat to society, unless his unambiguous self-confidence itself is seen as an affront to society.

The common perception is that he has more than earned his freedom from a sentence that he has never recognized as just and legitimate. Although none might have thought of him in quite this way, pre-incarceration, Lord Black is the very personification of a free spirit. It is past time for him to be given his freedom.

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Why Pride?

This is a really peculiar phenomenon, a study in social behaviour that is truly difficult to parse and to make intelligent sense of. But it most certainly is a reality. One that has been demonstrated time and again. Jews tend to empathize, have a natural sympathy for any group within society that is perceived to be among the downtrodden. That may have a great deal to do with Jews' historical difficulties in being accepted throughout the diaspora in whichever country they have settled.

They know what it feels like to be dispossessed, to be scorned and maltreated.

That knowledge gives greater impetus to the natural human impulse to be compassionate and caring toward others. What they have suffered through the millennia, they wish no other group to struggle with. And Jews have always for a myriad of reasons been in the forefront of social events leading to the kind of change that would bring in forward-looking and socially-valuable alterations in the social compact, changes that would result in equality.

During the French Revolution Jews were among those who brought about change, and who benefited from it. In South Africa, during Apartheid, Jews were influential in doing what they could to effect the downfall of that socially corrosive, divisive situation. During the American civil rights movement, Jews were often there, right in front, marching with the leaders of the black movement. Jews have also represented the need for fair and just treatment of aboriginals.

During the Russian Revolution that led to the downfall of the Czar and the royal family, and the triumph of Communism, leading to the USSR having domination over its neighbours in a great big unhappy family of communal rule in the name of equality, Jews were also in the forefront. In the liberalization of society finally accepting the inevitable, that homosexuals were not sub-natural but yet another expression of human sexuality, Jews were present as agitators for change.

In each and every one of those instances, brotherhood and sisterhood and freedom and liberation and joyfulness suffused those who were involved, and there was total acceptance and gratitude for the efforts of all involved, and Jewish inclusiveness and respect was guaranteed. In each and every one of those instances, after a period of time, a nasty, grumpy return to another kind of normalcy occurred, where Jews once again became a symbol of the 'other', and bigoted reactions to their presence resulted.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is yet another one of those manifestations of a group having enjoyed liberation through their own efforts at normalizing acceptance in society, and where Jews have had a hand, and where the movement itself seems to require a mission to seek out what they consider to be offensive entities whom they can in their turn spurn, scorn and relegate to a position of scurrilous demonization. In the case of Toronto queers, Israel has surfaced as their mission.

Attributing to Israel the kind of apartheid that was forced by an unaccepting society upon them, even while they cannot be ignorant of the fact that those whom they champion, whose religion they accept as just and fair targets those of their like in Muslim countries for death, under Shariah law. But it is Israel that is the villain of the piece, the Jewish State which accepts and protects the freedoms of gays. Israel has the misfortune to be a Jewish country and that alone is what propels those who express their hatred of it.

Toronto's Gay Pride parade has its counterpart celebration in Tel Aviv. There is no event even glancingly approximating such an event in any Muslim country. In most Arab Muslim countries and in Aryan Muslim Persia, the death penalty is called for; imprisonment and torture at the very least. Homosexuality is seen as an offence against Islam. Judaism accepts the justice of treating all people with grace and respect. None of which means all Jews are perfectly well behaved and subscribe to generously sensitive acceptance of others. But the preponderance do.

There are no perfect societies. There cannot be any in existence for the simple fact that human beings are not, have never been and never will be perfect. People will always chafe at the sight and the sound and the thought of others very much unlike themselves. But most reasonable people, once they have thoughtfully weighed the differences against the shared likenesses that we all share, accept equality for it brings us closer to the angels than the demons within us.

And then there are those who must hate, who must find an object of social derision, even if they were themselves once subjected to that miserable state of social rejection. And it really is a pity that Toronto's gay community has allowed itself to be manipulated, their code of humanity violated, their attention turned to vilifying and slandering people just like themselves, believing because they want to, that they are righteously justified in doing that.

This signal human failing renders them utterly despicable. There is no excuse, none whatever, for a 'social justice' or 'activist' group to spout hateful invective against others, nor to foment an aura of false accusation, nor to elevate themselves as caring because they support the 'cause' of the Palestinians through a garishly-sordid public relations display meant to dehumanize and degrade Jews. The Middle East conflict is a long, complex one, whose details obviously deliberately escape these social-justice 'activists'.

It is simpler to just protest, to take sides and find the aggressor. During which process they lose the patience and respect of those who helped them free themselves from the chains of social misunderstanding. Their behaviour is worthy of sociopaths passing themselves off as socially-conscious, enlightened souls. They would be further enlightened should they offer to travel to Iran or Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, to inform and educate the population there of the social niceties, to respect gays.

From the dank, dark prisons in those countries they can smuggle out postcards to friends and supporters, telling them how preferable it is to live in those countries than in a horrible, human-rights-abusing country like Israel where Muslim gays live openly among the Jewish gays.

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Speaking Of...

Must be some kind of fever going around making normally intelligent people commit hara-kiri. People whose ordinary sense of self-awareness and avoidance of conflict that would impinge on their professionalism, their positions of public prestige, suddenly unleashing their tongues and letting their subconscious run away with their thoughts (and misgivings). So what is this dread disease, and who can we next anticipate will submit to it, and watch, helplessly, as their tongue outruns their ambition and the rooster of inevitability comes to crow at their wake?

Is there anyone out there who mightn't believe that General Stanley McChrystal would not understand the repercussions for dissing his Commander in Chief, let alone that commanding chief's high-level subordinates? He may have been resentful to the point of being right royally pissed off that he was given a command with expectations that he would apply his professional expertise to bringing an insurgency that had dragged on far too long, to an end. This was a precise enough charge for a consummate warrior. He was even given the due date for wrapping it up.

Uh, yes, that due date. Given that the troop surge numbers that did not quite match the numbers that General McChrystal originally sought, and that the Taliban were inordinately successful in recruiting additionally unexpected numbers of their own troops from the warrior hill tribes and Waziristan so immersed in fundamentalist Islam, as to create their own matching surge, one could see where the due-date could present as a major irritant. However, the die was cast, and indiscretion has its price. The general is due to retire from service.

His unfortunate malady infected someone across the border, an agent whose stature and professional enterprise most certainly matched that of the general, (the dearly departed; depending on whose circles one quotes). As though Canada hasn't experienced more than enough problems with its own military men; a commanding officer who turns out to be a rapist and serial murderer, another of higher rank who presented as a sexual predator of a more gentle persuasion, but still representing a statutory (military) offence.

Two down and number three to go, for Canada. Number three is none other than the current director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, a man whose experience and professionalism has the respect of the establishment. Perhaps that should be stated in past tense. Things have become quite tense, in fact, as Richard Fadden looses statements shocking in their ramifications, then retracts them with equally-shocking aplomb, as though it is a common occurrence for someone of his rank and his profession to candidly inform the nation it is on the cusp of a nasty catalyst.

To the effect that some of our highly placed elected politicians have been suborned by foreign interests. He is talking here about the reality of industrial infiltration, espionage, strategic access to some of Canada's secret formulae in technological production, no less. Costing this country millions in lost revenues, due to unscrupulous theft of trade secrets. A year ago he spoke tellingly about the infiltration into Canadian society of other countries' agents on a different kind of mission, one whose purpose was to destabilize society, allow religious terrorists to gain a foothold.

In either instance, an amazingly frank and surprisingly unprofessional airing of what should be considered to be secret state-level files, to be suppressed from the general public's attention, while government agencies work feverishly to identify the details of those threats and to apprehend them, in full consultation with the government of the day. The executive branch of government should be the partner-in-knowledge of what CSIS has discovered through the operation of its mandate; finding covert and apprehending dangerous threats to the country.

Does Mr. Fadden too have an agenda, for unleashing this kind of scandalous and untoward dereliction to duty by going public in such a manner, without first discussing the matter with the PMO? With the Prime Minister, who surely is never too busy to discuss these vital matters with a trusted head of security intelligence? Who would most certainly have been alarmed at any stated intention to speak of these matters aloud, for publication, and at a critical time, when Canada is hosting the G8 and G20 summits where some of those largely unnamed countries whose agents are busy conducting espionage operations here, are present?

Isn't it a good thing that most Canadians are placidly ignorant of these things, and don't quite seem to care very much about what is going on? And what on Earth could conceivably thrust people of this calibre to risk the probity, trust and respect they have earned to issue such inflammatory - regardless of their truthfulness - statements, ensuring the collapse of their careers?

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Thursday, June 24, 2010


How horribly disappointed the Liberals and the NDP must feel right about now. The Conservative-led government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is welcoming heads of state to the country to take part in the G8 and G20 summits. They would feel far more comfortable if Canada were represented by a more, well, liberal government. A government that was better suited and better placed to present as a true representative of Canada and the people of Canada.

A government say, that was humble enough to apologize to the families of the victims of the Air Canada tragedy. A government that would be able to apologize to aboriginal Canadians for the cold paternalism of a previous administration that took children from their homes to grow them into Canadians through institutionalizing them. A government that grieved over the unfair and racist treatment of Chinese- and Japanese-Canadian citizens.

Funny thing, that. Although there was ample opportunity through prolonged years of Liberal rule, it took a Conservative government to do these things. And to meet the Dalai Lama. And to inform countries like China and Iran and North Korea that their repulsive, repressive, human-rights-denying administrations had no reason to anticipate respect from Canada. Canada, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has consolidated support and friendship for those deserving of it.

Every tactic that a febrile and embittered antagonist could imagine has been attempted by these two opposition parties - aided and abetted by a federal party whose activities are paid by the taxpayer, yet is intent on destroying confederation - to destroy the reputation of a governing party that has proved itself adept at governing in the best interests of the country and its people. Denunciations and hysterics and juvenile finger-pointing have been the hallmark of this session of Parliament.

And now that the two summits are upon us, and foreign leaders are arriving in the country whose safety and security has been assured to the best of the abilities of a law-abiding, democratic country which has had to plan and to pay almost a billion dollars for that security, damned if the opposition hasn't been delivered of a painful message. None other than the bulldog of the federal budget has delivered his verdict of all-clear on the summit spending front.

Moreover, Kevin Page has honourably taken the initiative to compliment this government on its 'relative transparency' about the $1-billion security price tag. Taking pains to describe the reluctance of other G8-hosting countries of the free world, to delineate and describe similar costing details. So much for screaming about 'lack of transparency' on the summit security costs; this government has been open and above-board, and the cost is not out of whack with the needs.

"It is the PBO's (Parliamentary Budget Office) observation that the government of Canada has been relatively transparent with regards to the planned 'total' costs of the summits. PBO's research of publicly available information indicates that no other host country has provided 'total' security costs to this level of detail." Stick that in your craw, and chew, slowly, methodically and with attention to those black feathers, please do.

This is the cost of internationalism. This is the cost of the world stage. This is the cost of recommending a signal and desperately required initiative to be added to the agenda, and to add value to the responsibilities and capabilities of the countries whose wealth represents collectively 85% of the world's total. An additional commitment to the Canada-led maternal and child health program, topping up what already exists.

To reduce the death toll of a half-million women living in undeveloped countries, during childbirth; to reduce substantially the deaths of nine million children under five years of age, dying annually from starvation and the debilitating effects of malnutrition leaving them unable to fight off the ravages of avoidable disease. Roughly $30-billion of new money is what this will take. A lot of arm-wrestling and confidence-building will be required.

At a time when the wealthy industrialized countries of the world have good reason to fret about their still inconclusive financial recovery. At the very time when those countries are also involved in a costly war. And when their national debts have swelled impossibly huge, as a result of a collective agreement to battle the global economic downturn with massive stimulus programs that they must now be weaned off. Hoping that their domestic recovery will soon take over.

At the very time when it has been revealed that for many countries of the G20 consumer confidence has stagnated. These world-class summits of the wealthy countries of the world have their work cut out for them. Topics like the global environment, economy, conflict, nuclear safety, poverty, energy are certain to strain the best laid plans of mice and men.

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Growing Canada?

True, Canada represents a huge territorial geography. The Canadian landscape is varied and magnificent. from our boreal forests to our maritime provinces, our industrial heartland to our thriving prairies, bordered by the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Arctic. The country's natural resources, from minerals to lumber, natural gas and oil deposits to fish stocks and inland lakes, our great prairies and agricultural lands, and our productive and entrepreneurial population, reflect abundance and good stewardship.

Do we really need to think about improving on what we have to the extent of planning to increase our population from its current 34-million to double, triple that? While it is true any economy needs a growing, educated and capable workforce to ensure that production of goods and services remain equal to our needs and that our industrial capabilities keep pace with our need to export to balance our imports, and to grow our markets, domestic and international, at a modest rate to reflect positively on our GDP, there are limits to be cognizant of.

Canada is basically a northern country, and as a result of that geographic reality its population consumes a large share of the world's energy for heating and cooling and production needs. Our large geographic area means more energy is used in transporting goods across the country. Technological advances and new sources of energy may, in the future, ameliorate the harmful effects of traditional energy usage and the spewing of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but in the short term a larger population does translate as one that requires more of everything.

At one time when Canada accepted immigrants to swell its population, those immigrants were left to their own devices. To adjust to the climate, the society, the politics, the entitlements as landed immigrants and citizens, and above all, to the employment opportunities available. To do this, new immigrants had to learn a new language, new customs and shed the traditions and loyalties they left behind, embracing Canadian values and the need to integrate into the larger society.

In this new, enlightened world, newcomers to Canada no longer have to face the perils of a personal struggle to exist and to conquer adversity in a strange land. Tax dollars, administered by government agencies and by private concerns which are also largely funded through tax dollars, help immigrants adjust, learn a new language, prepare them for meaningful employment, teach their children, and offer health and social services as and when required. Immigrants take advantage of the opportunities availing them to sponsor extended family members; another cost to the taxpayer.

These costly and assistive devices to welcome new immigrants have their limits. Inviting much greater numbers of the world's migrant populations to Canada will impose an ever larger burden on the indigenous population before the newcomers can even begin to pay their way through becoming financially independent and through paying their own share of the tax burden. And then there is the reality that most immigrants seek to settle in large urban areas.

Canada's largest cities are already overburdened and close to being overwhelmed by a huge influx of immigrants from various parts of the world. Cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg and Ottawa are already groaning under the added civic burden to provide new housing and other needed civic infrastructure, (public transportation, sewage, hydro transmission) all of it costly, to adequately function. Crowded conditions in the country's major cities will impair their functionality with long transit times, and a need for new infrastructure.

Additionally, too many of those immigrants have not been instructed on entry of their obligation to assume the values and the customs that already prevail within the country. We see large enclaves of ethnic and religious groups setting themselves aside and apart from the prevailing society. People are wont to do this, seeking comfort in the familiarity of surrounding themselves with others of like background and traditions. But this does not aid integration. In earlier decades, people gradually assimilated, while still honouring their heritage, but this is occurring less and less.

The expectation for and pursuit of social cohesion is the defining force of a well functioning society, even while it acknowledges that the addition of a multiplicity of other authentic customs that can complement the original culture, can be desirable. A pluralistic society where all of its constituents love in mutual respect and harmony with one another is the goal. And while people will always have their differences, the goal is to offer equal opportunities to all, so that no one will feel ill done by and left out of the general pool of aspirants to success.

Indifference to the situation that exists now in Canada where immigrants from countries vastly unlike those of North America and Europe - people escaping intolerable social conditions, living under totalitarian governments, where rights are restricted, often arrive anxious to claim new liberties - yet insisting on importing their customs and traditions rather than melding them with those that already exist, and accepting that this country's laws and traditions and existing social customs apply to everyone equally, does us no credit.

The insistence from the liberal-left that everyone and everything is equally valuable with no discrimination against customs and traditions that run counter in value and priority to ours represents a harmful sanctimony. When one group of immigrants harbours a resentment against another that hearks back to traditions prevailing in their countries of origin and scurrilous attitudes demeaning one to the other prevail, civil society suffers. When customs are imported that run counter to Canada's, customs that are degrading and harmful, they must be apprehended.

It is one thing to be nostalgic for what has been left behind. It is another thing entirely to import customs and behaviours that are not socially acceptable in a country that has welcomed immigrants to be part of their future. Canada needs to welcome people who can demonstrate that they are capable of integrating, of valuing the social customs that prevail in the country. The social contract prevailing in Canada is one that prizes and protects the rights of the vulnerable in society; women, children, gays, the physically and mentally challenged.

This is an egalitarian society, and theoretically as well as practically, people are free to practise what they will, as long as no harm comes to others by so doing. These are freedoms guaranteed to Canadians under the law of the land; the Canadian Charger of Rights and Freedoms. Freedoms to practise one's religion, freedom of speech and assembly, and all other freedoms that flow from those, with respect to our democratic rights, our equality and legal rights.

All these and other issues should be carefully thought out before the bright lights of the intellectuals in academia and government muse about dramatically increasing the size of the Canadian population through a deliberate course of accelerated immigration.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Captain Rob has shot him"

What, truly, is the point? Insisting on treating the Afghanistan mission as though it represents any other traditional mode of war, where two suited-up and similarly-armed armies march against one another. And where a specific code of conduct is observed. And where divergence from that contract of gentlemanly-military conduct merits the kind of admonitory attention that only a court martial can adequately deliver.

Except that when battling an elusive enemy fighting his own kind of war, a guerrilla conflict which a regular, trained army is not capable of meeting on those surreptitious, clandestine, deadly terms, there may be, on occasion, a suspension of the rigidly-observed code by which an honourable army conducts itself. Of course, honour is also a matter of perception, and insurgents, as guerrillas, fight with their own code of conduct.

A western military man who observes a more casual, but empathetic for the larger part, code of humanitarianism may take it upon himself to assess the critically wounded condition of an adversary, to determine the mortality of wounds sustained, and take the initiative to remove that adversary from further pain. In certain conditions and certain circumstances it becomes more cruel to let someone die in slow agony, than to dispatch them to death.

Whether or not this represents the actual scenario and mode of thought that propelled Capt.Robert Semrau in October of 2008 in Helmand province to shoot dead a man whose spirit was grasping the Angel of Death for release from his anguish, no one will ever know. This is Capt. Semrau's given explanation for his spontaneous decision-making, in shooting a Taliban horribly wounded by an attack helicopter.

The Canadian military court has been temporarily relocated to Afghanistan, where Capt. Semrau was stationed as a mentor along with his Canadian team of three, to an Afghan army unit. "His legs were cut off. His belly was torn out. He was hardly breathing. He was not moving", recounts the Afghan army commander, Shafigullah, to whom Capt. Semrau was attached on that day, at that place.

The Afghan army unit's reaction was to pay religious homage to another Muslim, and to allow the severely wounded man to die, facing Mecca; their religion forbade them from taking his life, no longer capable of combat. While Capt. Semrau, for his part, decided not to prolong the dying insurgent's agony, and took it upon himself to shoot him. The Afghan army unit had previously halted their police counterparts from killing the dying insurgent.

In testimony before the Canadian court martial, the Afghan officer claimed because of the circumstances it would not have been possible to call in a medevac unit, and the man was close to death. He also characterized the man on trial, Capt. Semrau, smilingly, as his "best friend", obviously having enjoyed confidence in his professionalism and his patronage.

"There was no possibility for him to stay alive. He could die in five, to 10 minutes, no more than 3 minutes, and probably in 20 minutes ...there was no blood in his body."

The four-man panel of Canadian officers hearing the case must weigh conflicting testimony, and no evidence save that of some blurred video tape. The insurgent's identity is unknown, his body never recovered. It this an issue to be dealt with?

Then deal with it. How can Capt. Robert Semrau be found guilty of murder? By an rigid stretch of righteousness, that's how.

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That War

How soon we forget. Truth to tell it is not those who have experienced the hideous misery of war, a conflagration of partner-countries at ideological war against one another; one the aggressor the other the defender, and in the process millions of their populations dying whose memory lapses. They recall, and they shudder, and they fear repetition, and they walk softly and sleep uneasily.

It is their offspring, the children born well after the fact for whom the dread memories of their parents and grandparents are history. Dead history. Events that occurred once and simply will not again. Because their sunny aspirations for themselves have no room for apprehension. What happened, happened. The future will have none of it. This is a device, a coping device that assists human beings to survive.

So even while North Korea's defiant troglodyte of a leader waxes effusive about his country's military might while his people starve through lack of nutrition and opportunity, and the country's resources are plowed into more technologically advanced missile systems and the refinement of nuclear warheads, young South Koreans feel nothing to be amiss.

This is, after all, what they've always lived with. The understanding that they are singularly fortunate to be South Koreans, and North Koreans are unfortunate to live where they do, oppressed by a dictator who is also a primping thespian on the world stage of absurdity linked with danger. That North Korea's military deliberately shot a South Korean vessel, disabling it and killing 46 seamen in the process is unfortunate.

It is also a signal act of war, one that other countries would promptly respond to, in like kind, intent on delivering the message that their countrymen's lives have value and their sovereignty is not to be tampered with. But China urges caution, and China prefers non-confrontation, and China hesitates to rein in its puppet too strongly, lest it too suffer the backlash of extreme embarrassment.

And South Korea, which has the backing of Japan and the United States and that of the United Nations, which wrings its hands over the 'unfortunate' incident, restrains itself as it must. The Cheonan is not exactly dispensable, nor was its crew, but this must be put behind them, for the time being. Peace at almost any cost. As for the younger generation of South Koreans?

"I don't believe that North Korea is a threat. I read the articles in the newspapers, but I don't buy it." And South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak is held in somewhat lower esteem because of his offended reaction to the deaths of 46 seamen and the sinking of the Cheonan. For young South Koreans see no need in 'confrontation'. "Most of the younger generation has a similar opinion; that North Korea is a political issue, not a security issue."

The older generation? "I worry about the younger generation because they don't think North Korea has done anything wrong... they don't know about the war. My generation really knows it, and expects that the war could be possible again."

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The Danger of a Nuclear, Genocidal Iran

(Right to Left) Caspian Makan, fiance of iconic Iranian protester Neda Agha-Soltan whose death was videotaped and broadcast around the world, listens in Ottawa on Tuesday while Canadian MP Irwin Cotler introduces a report titled "The Danger of a Nuclear, Genocidal and Rights-Violating Iran: The Responsibility to Prevent Petition". Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President and Co-Founder of Stop Child Executions looks on. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced the imposition by Canada of additional sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, to top off those just recently issued by the UN Security council, representing the fourth round of such sanctions. While preparing to host the G8 and G22 summits, the Prime Minister is also positioning Canada as a strong advocate of justice and human rights, positioning Canada as an ally of Israel and an adversary of Iran in stark black and white.

For its part, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never been shy at UN fora, to accuse Canada of human rights abuses - primarily against Muslims and our aboriginal populations. Iran, like other Middle Eastern and Muslim countries has become adept at gleefully turning the West's accusations of human rights abuses charged to them, against the very same countries that hold it in contempt for its theocratic totalitarianism. And in the fora of the United Nations, most particularly in the Human Rights Council, that plays to an appreciative audience.

Canada, in any event, has very little trade with Iran, unlike Europe, hugely anxious not to disrupt oil and gas shipments from the country which has an immense excess of both, but which is incapable of refining it due to a lack of in-country refining capability. Iran has not seen fit to plow back any of its fossil-fuel profits into refining self-sufficiency, which makes it doubly ironic that it insists it must build costly nuclear installations to provide for alternate energy sources for itself.

Needless to say, this is an issue that the Security Council, much less Iran's partners in the Middle East haven't bought into, with the stark realization that Iran's agenda lies elsewhere, in contriving to isolate itself from IAEA inspections with its intentions to enrich uranium to a degree useful in producing nuclear warheads. Which it promises anyone who will listen, will be unleashed upon Israel, to eradicate the Jewish state from the map of the Middle East.

The one product that Canada does export to Iran is grain, a commodity whose removal would harm only the country's population, held in unwilling thrall to the reigning Ayatollahs and the Republican Guard. A group of activists, the Responsibility to Protect Coalition, comprised of international scholars and politicians within Canada fear that the sanctions are still not sufficiently structured to halt Iran's nuclear program. Prime Minister Harper explains that:
"These sanctions are designed to restrict Iran's nuclear program and are in no way intended to punish the Iranian people. Instead, these targeted measures are meant to send a strong signal to Iran that the international community expects Iran to meet its international nuclear obligations. They send a message to all states - particularly those with nuclear aspirations - that international standards cannot be flouted without consequences."
This should, at the very least, earn Canada some additionally vividly-worded UN Human Rights Council censures. From the mouth of the ambassador of Iran to that sagacious body. Iran will not be entirely delighted that there is an additional curb on its international investment opportunities and commercial activities including the securement of uranium and nuclear technology advances. Given that even Russia is standing down on honouring its commitment to provide Iran with advanced rocket launchers. For the time being.

The group issuing the report critical of Iran and calling for additional measures to impact on its aspirations, call for a broader, tougher range of sanctions to suppress the regime's plans. The report, The Danger of a Nuclear, Genocidal and Rights-Violating Iran claims it is incumbent on the international community to advance beyond the last of the UN Security Council resolutions, and ban gas shipments to Iran, among other more stringent measures.

How it is that a country that has normalized calling for the annihilation of another country to the extent that the august United Nations hardly blinks an eye, and still is able to muster support from like human-rights-destructive countries; has been able to defy the international community (the democratic countries of the West; the Security Council, the U.S., the E.U., its Middle East neighbours) is beyond comprehension.

Iran's President Ahmadinejad is able to mock the condemnations levelled against it by the international community, because nothing anyone or any body constructs to thwart its plans has been remotely successful. The country still has its stalwarts, particularly two within the Security Council itself, and can count among those countries who support its 'peaceful' agenda, and battle with the "Zionist entity" countries like Turkey, no longer secular and (European-)Western-oriented, along with Venezuela, North Korea and Syria, a line-up of some of the world's most miserable dictatorships. (Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to be overlooked.)

Iran, like any country whose international-social dissonance is such that it covets nuclear weaponry while cossetting militias dedicated to the violent overthrow of democratic governments, arming, training and covertly utilizing terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas to deliver their message of unrepentant raging hatred, will remain defiant to the bitter end. It's just simply that as a clear and present danger to international peace and security the spectre of the bitter end is what haunts.

Its agenda of state-sponsored terrorism, its control of well-armed and religion-sanctioned jihadis, its ideological certainty that it has the ear, the eye and the blessing of Allah, and thus does nothing but secure its own place in Paradise, allied with its bellicose and belligerent need to strike fear into the hearts of other countries, while violating the basic core of human rights entitlements of its own people, mark it as a very special country indeed.

Second in the world for the number of executions the state carries out, it represents as the world's leading executioner of children. Its solution for the scourge of homosexuality and for apostates and for those practising 'false' versions of Islam is imprisonment, torture, death. Its dedication to the persecution of its own people, its commitment to inflicting fear wherever it can, sets it apart as an particularly officiously odious regime.

Sham trials, forced confessions, systematic prison rape are all the marks of a brutal theocracy determined to hold its grasp on power, to relinquish it to no one other than God, and needless to say, God is on their side.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Journey of Faith Conference

What is it with the Muslim population living in Western societies as a personal preference because it offers them stability and opportunity to attain a kind of lifestyle they can appreciate on a secular basis, with the freedom to practise their religion, along with other freedoms guaranteed to all those living in democratic countries, that they cannot understand about what they owe their adopted countries?

Muslim communities tend to be parochially ingrained, intent on setting themselves apart from the general community. It is understandable, this is where their comfort level is attained.

But without interaction with the general community representing people from all over the world in a country like Canada, how will an isolated community that deliberately takes pains to set itself apart, become a living part of a pluralist society? Become, in fact, more to the point, Canadian?

Perhaps the answer lies in the need to expunge the very idea of the usefulness of multiculturalism in Canada, and to ensure that people coming from backgrounds, cultures and societies so very different from Canada's understand before emigrating that they must adopt Canadian values.

The trouble with Canada, and with Canadians, is that we've swerved from such a huge degree from our original denial of entry to those whose backgrounds did not represent those of the founding communities; French and English, to embracing with wild enthusiasm a rainbow of ethnicity, culture and heritage, without thinking about Canada's ability to absorb and to cultivate an aura of Canadian-ness in the alphabet soup of origins.

Which has, in the last four decades, greatly disadvantaged social homogeneity.

It's quaint and colourful to have Chinatowns and Little Italys, and the like, but it is hugely dysfunctional to have enclaves of ethnic and/or religious groupings violently opposed to one another. And this, precisely, is what is developing within Canada.

And when an Islamic social community proudly invites as its high-lighted guest speaker an avid, rabid Islamist known for incendiary language and racist declarations, to a conference in Toronto, this is a signal that something has gone horribly wrong.

The founder of Mumbai's 'PeaceTV', a ranting-raving diatribist whose racist and hateful war-mongering speeches who insists that "every Muslim should be a terrorist" and Jews represent Islam's "staunchest enemy" has no place speaking to a hugely-attended conference in Canada.

He has been denied a visitor's visa to speak in Great Britain, and is being denied similarly a visa to Canada for the same purpose. We do need exceptional attention to be given to those who would come to this country to incite hatred.

We do not need nor wish any Canadian citizens to believe that someone who recommends capital punishment for homosexuals and the death penalty to be invoked for those who abandon Islam, and the encouragement of violence against women, should be welcomed to speak his mind here.

Dr. Zakir Naik of Mumbai is a dreadful problem for India. He should not become a like problem for Canada.

What is deeply troubling is that with full knowledge of his agenda and his beliefs and what his speech will consist of, the Canadian organizers of the Islamic Journey of Faith Conference invited this man to attend the conference and to speak as the featured guest. What kind of faith does this represent? What journey is being contemplated?

This is not an agenda that represents Canada's interests.

Clearly, those responsible for mounting the conference and for making plans to influence their community have not got the best interests of Canada in mind. Clearly, these people do not represent individuals capable of adjusting to and accepting Canadian values.

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"Economy Trumps Family"

The Conservative-led government's Immigration Department under the skilled and empathetic leadership of Jason Kenney set out to streamline immigration proceedings, to better represent the needs of the country, and to make the process fairer to those wishing to emigrate to this country, and it seems they have succeeded. Minister Kenney gets a full passing grade, with honours.

Canada is now giving priority at a much higher level to prospective immigrants possessing job skills that the country requires. And in the process the bureaucracy now has been enabled to dramatically streamline the processing required, by fifty percent. Where five years ago it took 50 months to process applications, that time frame has now dropped to 26 months, still a lengthy period, but a decided improvement.

Relatively new legislation recognizes the imperative of speeding through applications from foreign workers skilled in professions that Canada has a lack of indigenous applicants for. There are almost forty categories of designated occupations the government is committed to filling through the introduction of skilled and educated foreign workers.

Skilled-worker applications now are processed in a seven-month time frame, where previously it would take up to five years to stream through the system. Immigration Canada has been tasked with streamlining its processing and it is meeting the challenge. The emphasis on bringing in skilled workers (along with their families) to fill existing employment categories, has been at the expense of another category; that of family re-unification.

Family reunification, always given a high profile through the immigration program historically, has been placed on a back burner. Something the Liberals and the New Democrats deplore. Where previously immigrants settling in Canada were encouraged and able to sponsor extended family members; parents, grandparents, unmarried children, the emphasis has been placed elsewhere for the time being.

It's a simple matter of efficiency and economy, to fill existing needs to better reflect the needs of the country. It is the highly skilled and the educated that Canada requires to assist its economy and production capabilities.

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Chronicles of a Super-Statesman

No doubt whatever - Barack Obama, as President of the United States, inherited responsibility for an extremely, troubled, fractious, dysfunctional world. And he set his jaw and resolutely set about to bring order, justice and peace where none existed. Using his formidably persuasive elocution skills, he vowed he could, and would, simply "do it" because he must. The Hosannas rang out loud and clear, because finally America and the world at large were delivered of a political Messiah bridging not only colour and ethnicity, but religion and ideology.

And then, dammit reality set in. It does, you know.

Pre-presidency, Barack Obama vowed he would end the insurgency in Afghanistan, if he had to bomb Pakistan's border to do it. And he did it, he really did. And he sent in a promised 'surge', hauling battalions out of Iraq and forwarding them to Afghanistan because that would be the ticket to success. No one informed him beforehand, that there would be an equal surge from the insurgents, more than matching the U.S. forces, creating chaos and too many sacrifices.

And suddenly, the war in Afghanistan as it is being fought by NATO allies, encouraged by the United Nations, hugely dependent on supporting countries increasingly uneasy with the way the 'war' is proceeding, fed up with bleeding their armed forces raw and their treasuries blank, are having second thoughts. Including the U.S., since it has forewarned the Taliban that post-2011, it will be all clear.

The backlash has been, too sad to tell, America's shining armoured knight, General Stanley McChrystal, chafing under the parameters set for him by amateurs professing to know far more than he, the supreme professional, almost ready to throw in the towel. It is a sad and mournful thing when a country's principal executive orders its military commander to perform in a manner he sees fit to achieve success, rather than consult with, and take advice from that general, instead of his own closet advisers.

General McChrystal will have ample opportunity to explain to President Obama precisely how and why he is 'disappointed' in decisions that have been made without benefit of knowledge of the full picture as it pertains to Afghanistan, making his duty toward his country and his obligation toward an international force exceedingly difficult to the verge of quite simply unpredictable veering toward impossible.

And Rham Emanuel, who is 'tired' of battling the 'idealism' of the White House presidential advisers is packing his bag, another fed up stalwart in the current administration, on the verge of departure. This Congressional veteran, known for his hard bargaining, but his ability to compromise, has experienced some severe disagreements with President Obama's close advisers, themselves averse to the Chief of Staff.

Wait, there's more, how about the stinging new sanctions brought to bear on Iran, for its nuclear intransigence? Well, finally, the U.S. is beginning to bring in more stringent consequences for those who do business with Iran. And this highly successful move to isolate and bind the country financially has succeeded in eliciting an admission (boast) from its president that the country now has sufficient material for two nuclear bombs. And four more new nuclear installations on the way.

Then there's the health care fiasco, with half of the American public so uncertain about the new initiatives that they speak of their president, his policies and advisers, in unbelievably scorching verbiage of scornful disappointment and disdain. Where, despite all the diplomatic expenditures in beseeching the Democrats themselves to support the President's health care bill, there were more than enough hold-outs to create unseemly fractiousness within the party. Rahm's fault.

So, then, on to the president's calm and brotherly outreach to the international Muslim community, assuring it gravely and with the greatest of respect, that there exists no cause for suspicion between it and the American administration. A hushed expectation greeted that overture. And the Arab and Muslim worlds waited to see what would transpire. What transpired is the reality of ongoing attempts to attack the United States by disaffected fundamentalist Islamists.

Most of whom carried American citizenship. All of whom loathed whatever it is that the United States stands for, its proud traditions and heritage, its culture and its democratic inheritance, and above all, its intolerable hubris, augmented by its stature as the single remaining world power, and its capitalistic influence on the world economy. A degraded society, one whose religion is decidedly inferior to that of Islam. A terrorist country, to whom the only response could be that of effecting terror through jihad unleashed upon it.

Then there is the little misfortune of a huge oil gusher out of the Gulf of Mexico, and an exasperated president attempting to get a handle on so many diverse and needful events and misfortunes, from the country's growing national debt, to huge unemployment figures, and a slumping economy just edging out of depression, pointing a finger of blame at an immense international corporate entity with its home base in Great Britain. Relations between the U.S. and G.B. have intensified toward tense.

This is the world that the President of the United States negotiates his way through and about, from negotiating urgently with Russia and China about North Korea and Iran, Israel and Sudan through the United Nations, and trying to balance its sagging fortunes and reputation. The heartening element of the equation is not whether this very particular, very gifted, very ideological-left president will survive his experience, but that the United States most certainly will.

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