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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Disappearing Way of Life

When a city is hugely dependent on a single industry and has been for almost a century, it is a hard blow when that industry decamps. Even though symptoms have been widely available and acknowledged of that very withdrawal. The Detroit-Windsor joint reliance on vehicle manufacturing by the Big Three of the North American automotive industry had a good, long run. It made for reliable employment on both sides of the Canada-U.S. divide.

When the automotive monopoly of North-American built vehicles came to a shuddering halt after the introduction of foreign imports whose quality was far superior to that of the North American models and the purchasing public lost its loyalty to the North American brand, and the foreign-owned competitors began opening manufacturing plants and employing North American workers, the writing was on the wall.

Add to that sorry little tale the complication of an industry hit with the double-whammy of consumer disinterest and a failing economy worldwide, and the recipe for disaster ensued. And then, both the United States and Canada stepped up to the plate to rescue companies whose importance to the economy was too great to allow them to flounder. Investing billions of tax dollars to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat.

What an immense relief; valuable jobs in a still-viable, albeit friable industry, saved. And then, a year later, the rescue package gone slightly stale, even while the company is on the road to recovery, General Motors closes down its Canadian branch operations. Windsor now has another shuttered factory, this one laying off 500 dedicated workers at its transmission factory. Sad faces; some early retirements, far more unemployed.

A day later a beaming Barack Obama announces his administration's pleasure, from Detroit, at General Motors' commitment to re-building its traditional presence in the city. Bringing back employment to a depressed sector of the economy. All those billions that the U.S. Treasury committed to rescuing General Motors paying off quite handsomely.

How utterly irksome.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Children: Values, Priorities

What is the matter with people? They delegate their children to the care of others because they feel their own time is too valuable to be wasted looking after their own.

Perhaps instead of relegating children to second-place importance in their lives they might be more advantaged and so would their children, having their parents more present in their lives. The problem is one of economics. Not so much that a traditional two-parent family struggles to get by on one salary, but that on that one salary it becomes a struggle to live in the manner they have accustomed themselves to.

The children are given over to the care of licensed, and unlicensed day-care-givers. Parents entrusting the well-being and welfare of their responsibilities to others. Largely strangers who have undertaken to open a family business. And who likely do a fairly good job of it in the process. But there remains a huge gap in the lives of these children.

When people undertake to present as 'professionals' - which they are, when they are paid to produce a service - they are practical and detached, not emotionally involved. That deep emotional attachment to a child, assuring the child that someone very close is involved because of love, and who offers emotional support and stimulation and encouragement is absent.

How positive is that for a child's development? Add to that the failures inherent in the process when day-care providers are occasionally charged with abuse, and innumerable other instances where too many children are taken into private day-care for a single attendant to properly and adequately supervise them; a failed and flawed process ensues.

These are the same parents who, to 'compensate' for their absence in their children's daily lives, speak of 'quality' family time. When the focus, in brief evening-together times is 'being together'. The very same parents who spend a fortune in buying expensive toys and electronic games and cellphones and computers and televisions and motorized bicycles and ATVs for their children.
Parents cannot possibly be ignorant of these anomalous lapses into quasi-parenthood.

Nor are they unaware of the risks involved in having others care for their children, people whom they beg to take on their child, even though there are already too many in that establishment for the number of supervisors. But they prefer to overlook the inconvenient facts. Or to look for alternate day care, or to commit themselves to their own children's welfare.

And then there are those dreadful instances where a child-care provider's attention is distracted from the vital need to watch a very young child, and the worst possible scenario results.

Backyard pools and young children make for a lethal mix. And irrespective of how careful child-minders are in the proximity of pools, including those which have the requisite safety features of fencing and self-closing gates, the potential for disaster remains. Children are determined, fearless and curious, and the need to watch and guide them constantly is too great to be compromised.

Five minutes' attention otherwise engaged than on routinely and automatically checking the whereabouts of a toddler is all that is required to allow that child sufficient time to accident himself out of existence. Which is precisely what occurred at an east-end Ottawa private day care when a number of adult supervisors were assembled, along with 22 children and a 2-year-old toddled into an above-ground pool.

Society's values and priorities have become sadly skewed. The tragedy of yet another child death might be inevitable in the greater scheme of things; even young children entrusted to their own parents' and grandparents' care sometimes meet the same sad end. But we can weight things more favourably toward a child's welfare.

Yet personally selfish and deliberately oblivious 'needs' dictate otherwise.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010


So what really has been revealed by the WikiLeaks? Who was unaware that Pakistan's ISI remained heavily involved in arming and directing the Taliban operations in Afghanistan? Or that the ISI did likewise with LeT, and was responsible for the Mumbai atrocities? Or that officials at the municipal, provincial and federal level in Afghanistan are ingloriously corrupt?

What is new, perhaps, is the fact that those Afghans who saw fit to align themselves with NATO forces in a helpful bid to alert and inform against the Taliban may now find themselves perilously close to being extinguished. Since some of those leaked documents helpfully name names, including parental names and village-of-origin names.

Mind, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, insists that he has had the documents thoroughly vetted and where such information exists, the documents withheld from publication. "We have read more leaked documents than any other organization that's not a spy agency on earth. If someone can apply this policy, surely we can do it."

With his professional assurance, we can be assured on that angle, presumably.

Afghanistan itself, via its Foreign Affairs Ministry is mortified, horrified, angered and damned. "The U.S. is both morally and legally responsible for any harm that the leaks might cause to the [named] individuals... It will further limit the U.S./international access to the uncensored views of Afghans".

Perhaps what is of more troubling interest is the fact that the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives are sophisticated enough to take advantage of the information now available to them on line. All the more so in view of the growing apprehension that not all is flowing according to plan. And that the claims of having the insurgency in hand lack credibility.

That Iran has had a sinister hand in providing arms and explosives to the Taliban and working alongside al-Qaeda has long been suspected from other sources. Perhaps it's the fact that these documents were exclusionarily withheld from public knowledge and they have abruptly become available through an illegal source represents the true story here.

And likely as not throwing the light of recognition on the persona of former Pakistani general Hamid Gul's ferocious hatred of the West and the U.S. in particular, and the hand he has played and continues to do, in planning and encouraging and directing the Taliban is of far more interest in the revelations. Rogue bull elephants are fascinating.

The documents' usefulness are only as good as the intelligence that they conveyed in the first place, and it seems that some of that routine intelligence was flawed opinion, unreflective of reality. It's the scandal-quotient of airing classified intelligence, not the quality of the data itself that has value and currency.

Just confirming what was already known, for the most part, but doing it righteously and with clamour aforethought.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Humanitarian Aid on Mavi Marmara? Gone Missing!

It's Official: There was No Humanitarian Aid on Mavi Marmara

by Gil Ronen

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed Israel's representatives the world over that there were never any humanitarian supplies or equipment aboard the Mavi Marmara, where Israeli commandos were ambushed by armed mercenaries posing as peace activists. The commandos opened fire and killed nine of the attackers after three soldiers had been brutalized and temporarily captured.

Of the seven flotilla ships that were intercepted by Israel on May 31 and afterward, only four were freight ships, the MFA reported to its embassies and consulates: The Challenger 1 (a small yacht), the Sfendonh (a small passenger boat) and the Mavi Marmara (a passenger ship) did not carry any humanitarian aid, and had only the passengers' personal belongings.

The four freight ships are the Gaza, the Sofia, the Defeny and the Rachel Corrie. As of June 7, Israel had only offloaded equipment from the Defeny. The equipment offloaded was loaded onto 26 trucks, and an additional eight trucks are waiting at the Kerem Shalom crossing to enter Gaza.

The equipment includes:

1. 300 wheelchairs
2. 300 new mobility scooters
3. 100 special mobility scooters for the disabled
4. Hundreds of crutches
5. 250 hospital beds
6. 50 sofas
7. Four tons of medicine
8. 20 tons of clothing, carpets, school bags, cloth and shoes
9. Various hospital equipment - closets and cabinets, operating theater equipment, etc.
10. Playground equipment
11. Mattresses

The equipment remaining at Ashdod Port on the three cargo ships which have not been offloaded include some 2000 tons of construction equipment - building materials and tools, and construction waste (rubble, toilets, sinks and cement) for re-use.

The MFA noted that:

The equipment does not constitute humanitarian aid in the accepted sense (basic foodstuffs, new and functional equipment, fresh medicines).

The humanitarian aid on the four cargo ships was scattered in the ships' holds and thrown onto piles and not packed properly for transport. The equipment was not packaged and not properly placed on wooden bases. Because of the improper packing, some of the equipment was crushed by the weight in transit.

The medicines and sensitive equipment (operating theater equipment, new clothing, etc.) are being kept in cool storage at the Defense Ministry base. Some of the medicines had already expired, and some will expire soon. The operating theater equipment, which should be kept sterile, was carelessly wrapped. A large part of the equipment, particularly shoes and clothing, was used and worn.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Nuclear Bursts In Troubled Bubbles

More data unveiled, more complex and complicating the situation becomes. The suspected has become a blazing reality with new intelligence monitoring of Burma. Leaked photographs, satellite tracking and electronic surveillance revealing that the country - yet another monstrous totalitarian country with an atrocious human rights record - is planning to become a nuclear power. A defector from Burma has also divulged the country's intention to develop nuclear weapons; yet another 'reclusive', xenophobic and lunatic administration threatening world order and peace.

Not that the world is particularly orderly or that peace prevails, since nothing could be further from reality; but in essence, a revelation that threatens to portend in the very near future the extremity of further dangers facing the world. The world will never, ever be ready to countenance the countries-cabal of North Korea, Iran, Syria and Burma boasting of their nuclear weapons. Within that combustible mixture we can toss in Pakistan. Venezuela may not be far behind. This augers ill for the future of world stability, on an order of despair for humankind.

These are countries without conscience within their leaderships. Raving lunatics who have amazingly managed to invest within themselves the authority of national leadership. Countries whose populations live in dire poverty, countries which are backward and devastatingly poor, but able regardless to muster sufficient funds from mysterious sources to enable themselves to become nuclear powers. Burma, the defector advises, now has two secret nuclear facilities along with a "nuclear battalion" charged with building a nuclear weapons capability.

Not so mysteriously, all manner of components, plans, scientific assistance and encouragement emanate from the most problematically illogical sources. Components built with German machine tools imported through Singapore. Laughably, Washington has informed Burma's ruling generals "they have international obligations we expect them to heed". That will without doubt make for a compelling impression upon those generals whose contempt for the international community is matched by North Korea and Iran.

Of course South Korea is extremely upset and nervous over the irate belligerence of North Korea, as it threatens to fully detonate into manic and end-stage nuclear threats. Reminds one of how nervous Russia is about its homegrown threats emanating from its own Muslim Islamist threats from neighbours once securely under the fist of the USSR. But Russia has few compunctions about assisting Iran in building its nuclear infrastructure. Nor in providing Hamas and the PA with weapons and other military equipment.

Reminds one of how close Iran and North Korea have become, inviting Burma to join them - and Syria along for the joyride. And Pakistan, of course, from whence, courtesy of its chief nuclear scientist, came the impetus for sharing nuclear technology to the highest bidder. South Korea's fears and tribulations, however, have not stopped it from aiding Jordan in establishing that kingdom's first nuclear research reactor with a munificent $70 million loan agreement.

The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute and Daewoo Engineering and Construction are prepared to begin building Jordan's first reactor at the Jordan University for Science and Technology. Strange; even though the U.S. is supportive of Jordan's plans for a peaceful nuclear program, it has oddly enough expressed reservations over Jordan's plans to enrich large uranium reserves.

What is nervous-making for countries facing off against intransigent, bitterly-belligerent neighbours attaining nuclear sufficiency and growing that toward nuclear weaponry - sooner rather than later - presents in a different prism of light and understanding when those potential threats become worries for other nations. The binding resolution for helpfulness remains the sharing of technology for financial gain.

This is the incendiary trade-off bargain between nations and ideologies (resulting in irrelevantly-benighted purposes) the world has descended to.

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Who Is A Jew? A Whole Bunch, Dammit!

There goes another illusion. Should we really care? Does it really matter what intransigently fanatic religious fundamentalists insist on observing?

Reflecting the truism that fanatics are truly miserable fanatics. That all ideologies, religions and traditions are imbued with a minority of single-minded, indomitably-certain individuals and groups whose fanatical impact is fraught with danger for the moderates among them. Who, while in the majority as reasonable and tolerant beings are still somehow overruled by the minority bigots.

Judaism is by no means exempt from having its own share of ultra-Orthodox mental misfits insisting that their version and interpretation is the only one truly reflecting the wishes of the Holy One. So, who then is a Jew? Traditionally the descent from mother to child guaranteed authenticity. To be a Jew is to be a Jew. One who inherits the mindsets, values and the soul of a people who have shared sorrow and tribulation throughout time immemorial.

That person is a Jew who considers him/herself a Jew. Having to prove nothing to anyone. Belief in self, pride of self, adherence to that belief is what matters. Whether religious or secular, a Jew is one who feels themselves to be a Jew. Irrespective of having any social, traditional, historical, emotional ethos in common with the greater population of Jews; if the Jewish soul is present, the Jew is, also.

Oops, wrong? A draft bill introduced into the Knesset, you say, whose purpose is to stringently narrow and define the acceptance of Judaism in accord with an ultra-Orthodox strand of belief? In Israel, the country that defines a nation? Israel, the country that holds its arms out enticingly, imploringly, to international Jewry, to the diaspora, to come home? That sacred "right of return" yanked out from underfoot?

Even as Israel was created by Zionists whose singular concern was a haven for Jews, and whose secular outlook was undeniable? An Israel whose founding parents were secular in vision and outlook and practise? As descendants of Israel, are not all Jews welcome to return to their ancestral home? Is it possible a foam-mouthed cabal of fundamentalists can exert such power and pressure as to overturn all of that?

People who in good faith have converted to a religion whose adherents are well known to have suffered the most malign slanders and the most horrendous atrocities to be committed against any allied, ethnic, religious, group in history must now face the potential of their conversion being denied? What insanity is this?

When even Conservative North American congregations are in denial over the possibility of the narrowing of recognition of Judaic identity, how can it be possible that a relatively small group of ultra-fanatic religious Jews can dictate to an entire country how they will henceforth be regarded and what their entitlements may be, and whose will be revoked?

This, then, is self-destruction. No outside intervention required.

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Look, We Share the Same Values!

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a very nice man. He will tell you so. Those who hear his sermons will also declare him to be a very nice man, a good and a moderate Muslim. An American citizen who shares all the values of other American citizens. But of course, a man of experience in his faith, one who knows how to lead others to their faith. And in the process, melding Islam with the American experience of a social centre that brings people together, educates and enthuses them.

"We repeatedly say we are neither a mosque nor within Ground Zero, but they just shout back 'Ground Zero mosque, Ground Zero mosque'", Imam Rauf complains. The 13-story complex he plans to build in the shadow of Ground Zero has a laudable purpose innocent of malice, much misunderstood by the too-sensitive non-Muslim citizenry of New York, and by extension Americans living elsewhere in the country.

All consumed by the memory of 9-ll, which, unfortunately is inextricably, horrendously, atrociously linked to Islam.

Now, how unreasonable can people be! "We are trying to establish something that follows the YMCA concept but is not a church or a synagogue or, in this case, a mosque. We are taking that concept and adapting it to our time and the fact that we're Muslims. It's basically a Muslim Y." Well, that explains everything. And demonstrates aptly how skilled Muslims have become at adapting to and adopting Western-style values, manipulated to veil their own.

Islam is unlike other religions. It has a firm stranglehold on its adherents, as a total lifestyle experience. It is a religion that will not lift its stolid, heavy presence as a firm and unassailable expression of domination through all aspects of life's journey from the political to the social, the civil to the religious, all one neat and complex bundle to be taken as is, no deviations contemplated lest ye become an apostate.

The clever manipulation of reason and logic by the quiet use of laws to insist that Muslims want nothing more nor less than their due as integral members of Western society, and that due should really, given sheer numbers within the population, include sharia. To deny them that is to express one's anti-Muslim attitude. The laws of freedoms and public relations meant to advantage society as an entirety have proven very useful.

Imam Rauf seeks understanding, empathy, sympathy for the need to further the cause of Islamic stability and acceptance within the greater society of the United States. In the process he demonstrates an utter lack of empathy and sensitivity for the sensibilities of other Americans who have suffered a grave trauma in witnessing the sanctity of their public places destroyed, their citizens murdered in an attack of monumental proportions.

The attackers were rabid Islamist jihadists whose incendiary hatred for the West and for non-Muslims led them to plan an outrage so unsuspected by the targets that they could be assured their assault would have tormentingly long-lasting effects. These were men so steeped in the pathology of avenging an historic past, so utterly devoid of humane-ness that they could undertake to destroy the lives of thousands and consider it a blessing for Islam.

After the 9-11 atrocity, Muslims throughout the world who hated the West and specifically the United States, celebrated the event as a victory for Islam. Dancing in the streets and handing out sweets to children marked the depths to which a depraved hatred of other human beings could plunge a people. Sympathy for the attackers and contempt for those whose lives were lost marked a well-noted attitude within Arab and Muslim states.

Imam Rauf contends that his projected project, to build the mosque that is not really a mosque but a Western-concept "Y", is a badly misunderstood project. One that "couldn't be more urgent than right now. One thing I hear all the time is, 'Where are the moderate Muslims?' We are moderates and we've condemned radicalism But moderation doesn't' sell newspapers."

No, it does not, he is correct. But unmitigated chutzpah can and does. And what is being proposed in the 'shadow' of Ground Zero represents a signal lack of empathy, sympathy and understanding of the huge trauma suffered by New Yorkers. What he proposes to build there represents another kind of trauma, one of unrepentant opportunism, an undeclared but obvious obliviousness to the shock and horror felt by the people affected, one that will not fade gracefully.

His actions and those of his backers represent a grave affront to the memory of those who died. To the pain of the living who now exist without their loved ones. To the insecurity and terror re-lived in nightmares of people who are very well aware that their enemy is restless and anxious to commit additional acts of terror wherever and whenever opportunity presents itself.

When Imam Rauf was pointedly asked why he would choose to build where he did, he evaded the question by responding: "I've been in this community for the last quarter century. I'm the imam of a mosque 10 blocks from there. But we now have to hold three sessions of Friday prayers because the space is so tight."

Right. But why, on heaven's name there, in that very space, so adjacent the atrocity that altered America's comfort of self? That, in and of itself is a triumphalism, expressing Islamic contempt for others, for non-Muslims, for infidels and kuffars.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Affirmative What?

Affirmative action, that's what. A curse to mainstream society and an envisioned blessing to minorities. Although being female doesn't count, since that gender is in no minority position. Still, this is action taken by government to make amends over past discrimination. And to more accurately reflect, we are informed, the makeup of society. Women, at one time, less numerous in well-paid employment, and minority groups who found it difficult to obtain good jobs, have been advantaged by affirmative action.

Affirmative as in taking the initiative to promote the 'rights' of minority groups, the disabled, ethnics, aboriginals, and females to high-profile, good-paying jobs in the public service. To set a standard, to encourage employers in the private sector to do likewise. And that might have been seen as a very good plan at its inception which is some decades ago, but perhaps the time has come, now that all those previously job-disadvantaged groups have joined the job-advantaged, to revert to recognizing equality in qualifications.

So that no longer should qualified job-seekers be disqualified on the basis of their reflection as non-ethnic, non-visible minority, gender status. According to Statistics Canada, while 16.2% of Canadians are visible minorities, they hold 18.8% of public service positions. Similarly, aboriginals represent 3.8% of the population, and hold 4.2% of public service jobs. While 51% of the population is female, and they represent 57.2% of such jobs.

Mission accomplished. There is no longer any reasonable requirement to meet targets by structuring available job placements toward a particular group. People who qualify on the basis of their being able to fullfil the requirements of the position should no longer be turned away. And this appears to be the position the Conservative government has considered

Advising publicly their intention to review affirmative action policies with the understanding that the public service should hire strictly on merit, excluding the focus on race or ethnicity. "While we support diversity in the public service, we want to ensure that no Canadian is barred from opportunities in the public service based on race or ethnicity", according to Cabinet Ministers Stockwell Day and Jason Kenney.

How utterly reasonable. How fearsomely appropriate. And how absolutely predictable that the Liberal opposition would be howling outrage. Clearly an attack on affirmative action. Be that as it may, it should also be clear that the way has been cleared for all those once-vulnerable groups to be recognized as having their own merit; in a fair and just society everyone should be able to present as qualified regardless of gender, ethnicity or any other yardstick.

It is past time that qualifications and merit revert to representing the deciding factor. There is no reason why ethnics, women, minorities of any kind cannot attain the same kind of qualifications to merit a position as any other applicant. And now that this is being discussed, perhaps it's time to discuss another blatant injustice where speaking French takes precedence over qualifications, experience and capability in the public service.

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That Sporting Life

You know things are bad when you can't even please some of the people some of the time. Israel is in one of those unenviable positions. Not too many are pleased with Israel. It's a nation of majority-Jewish population, but rainbow enough to include Chinese and African Jews, as well as Arab Palestinians and Kurds and Greek and Armenian Christians, and a smattering of American evangelicals trying to convert Jews to Jesus.

Oh right, Israel has its own seemingly unbridgeable gap with its own fundamentalists, Jews whose interpretation of Judaism pits them against the reality of the existence of the State of Israel, which they view as a blasphemy against Holy Scriptures solemnly teaching that only with the return of the Messiah may Israel rise from its ashes. Now, they really do have something in common with Iran's Ayatollahs, come to think of it.

The Hidden Imam, seen as Iran's own Messiah with its Shia interpretation of Islam, when the world as it is known will be destroyed and only the righteous will inhabit it, those believers and worshippers of Allah (not including the apostates who worship other, false versions of Islam and Sunni Muslims need not apply, among others). Precisely because the appearance of the 13th Imam is imminent, annihilating Israel into nuclear night is feasible.

Roman Catholic Spain launched its Inquisition against those who eschewed Christian belief. And during that time fraught with everpresent danger of auto-da-fes it became a life-and-death decision to become a converso. This was six centuries of persecution of Jews, heretics and apostates, from Rome, to France, Spain to Portugal. The Malleus Maleficarum expressing the need and the protocol, prefacing Russia's production of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Just something about those Jews, always gets into someone's craw. Israel, alone among the countries in the Middle East does not persecute gays and lesbians, who live openly and unfettered by fear of discovery. Gay Pride parades are an accepted celebration in Tel Aviv. Gays serve openly and with distinction in the IDF. Gay marriages are recognized as legal in Israel (albeit performed elsewhere).

But in Toronto, the Gay Pride parade allows its QueersQontingent to slander and belittle Israel, declaring it a barbaric, human-rights-offending state. Madrid too had its annual gay pride festival, considered the largest in Europe, where the usual calls for societal tolerance and explicit and raunchy sexuality is displayed, and where the organizers, Spain's Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders and Bisexuals, disallowed Israeli gays' participation.

Israel just plays the wrong kinds of games. Games that utterly pervert what world opinion will tolerate. Setting it apart, aside and well beyond the moral pale. Unions, academics, state legislators, student groups, and even international sport organizations decry the mendacity and offensive behaviour of a country seeking to protect itself from violent assault by Zionist-haters.

There is a huge culture that has evolved within the international community. And on a scale of pro- and -con, the weights are balanced heavily to disfavour the State of Israel. (And just a teeny-weeny bit weighted toward virulent anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism, to call a spade what it really is; deep-thrusting and black). On the other hand, it isn't just the outside world of non-Jews who deplore and detest Israel.

The free-for-all has extended to Jews themselves, those who hold themselves to be 'enlightened' and dedicated to 'freedom' and who lean so far left on the liberal-democratic scale it's a wonder they aren't in a continual prone position - well, damn! they are, so to speak. The greater the calls for censure toward Israel, the more self-hating Jews appear to align themselves with the wholesale opposition to Judaism.

Medieval-minded, aggressive, armed and dangerous Israel pitted against sadly afflicted Arab Palestinians whose sixty years in the wilderness of refugee-dom has allied the international community toward their rescue from !Occupation! The Palestinian Authority which speaks gently of the search for peace, while teaching its young through vested curricula that Jews are the enemy who must be defeated, and land Israel squats upon must be reclaimed.

Ferocious, damning anti-Israel propaganda reaches ears eager to believe all the bloody tropes of Jews kidnapping Arab (or Christian) children to drain their blood for Passover matzos. It's such a gruesomely alluring tale, it must be true, since Jews are involved, and nothing is too grim and horrible to ascribe to that miserable race of malefactors-against-the-world. There are no games innocent of the intent to dominate and to humiliate, on the part of Jews.

Even a volleyball game with Israel playing Serbia taking place in Turkey is rife with opportunity to unfurl Palestinian flags and hurl hate-ridden invective at the disgusting presence of Jewish athletes among the legitimate players. Replete with smuggled signage recalling to memory the Munich Olympics massacre of Jewish athletes. Whose slaughter Allah is thought to have viewed with satisfaction, obviously.

Demonstrators showed up for the game despite that the match, as a security precaution, had been closed to the public. Jewish and Israeli groups, public speakers, intellectuals, sport groups, cannot appear anywhere without the inevitable show of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian protesters. The European Volleyball League is just simply a whole lot better off without being besmirched by the presence of Jews.

"Don't be dogs of Zionism. G-d will hold you to account!" was the refrain, with demonstrators hurling bottles at police, rapping with PA flagpoles on the police shields. And the police? Very nicely behaved. "Esteemed friends, please don't cause trouble", a police commander appealed to the increasingly more hostile crowd.

Very civilized, very sporting in the best traditions of internationalism. Emailed messages had advised protesters to hide their Palestinian Authority flags and banners, and refrain from shouting slogans. They were apprehended by sharp-eyed security personnel, caught and their entry to the stadium blocked.

The game was lost by Israel, 3-0. The Israeli team is now scheduled to play Turkey. The Israeli coach's opinion was that the loss to Serbia by Israel represented a "good experience" for his team. Stimulating them to play harder? To overlook the mortal slights and slings and stones, and ignore the detestation displayed? Lest they forget they are Jews?

Demonstrating the height of civilized courtesy, the Israeli team's coach expressed his gratitude to the Turkish authorities for the tight security. Which did not prevent his players from feeling the sting of bitter slander, but did protect them from the fate that assailed Israeli athletes in Munich, during the 1972 Olympics.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

"Fighting For God"

Radical, now that's quite emphatic, but it's also a fairly ordinary word. Actually the word itself sounds rather innocent. Radical, as in different to a somewhat extreme degree. And doesn't it also appear in kidspeak? And of course there are other meanings, such as for example what appears below.
  • group: (chemistry) two or more atoms bound together as a single unit and forming part of a molecule
  • free radical: an atom or group of atoms with at least one unpaired electron; in the body it is usually an oxygen molecule that has lost an electron and will stabilize itself by stealing an electron from a nearby molecule; "in the body free radicals are high-energy particles that ricochet wildly ...
  • extremist: (used of opinions and actions) far beyond the norm; "extremist political views"; "radical opinions on education"; "an ultra conservative"
  • a person who has radical ideas or opinions
  • revolutionary: markedly new or introducing radical change; "a revolutionary discovery"; "radical political views"
  • (mathematics) a quantity expressed as the root of another quantity
  • arising from or going to the root or source; "a radical flaw in the plan"
  • a character conveying the lexical meaning of a logogram
  • of or relating to or constituting a linguistic root; "a radical verb form"
  • root: (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed; "thematic vowels are part of the stem"
  • especially of leaves; located at the base of a plant or stem; especially arising directly from the root or rootstock or a root-like stem; "basal placentation"; "radical leaves"
I guess words fail us sometimes. As when we express the kind of nomenclature that refers to a hate-mongering, violence-dedicated, racist demagogue inspired by religious dementia, as an radical. As, for example, referring to the Yemen-descended, American-born Anwar Al-Awlaki - who spouts vile and incendiary invitations to young, excitable, psychically unbalanced Muslim men to join the jihadi ideology of Islamic triumphalism - as 'radical'.

We do the word an injustice, yet fail to do justice to the purpose and practise of this atrocity-loving master psychopath. Who, it would appear, has caught the wary eye of the RCMP. Whose senior counter-terrorism officer has publicly mentioned his name as one of "the individuals that are of concern to us". He does concern the American counter-terrorism authorities greatly as well. Linked as he has been to a number of American-born jihadis.

And his name has been published frequently enough as the touch-stone mentor of would-bes and almosts and also shudderingly-successful violent jihadists. From the original 'Toronto 18' to suspected jihadis who have boasted on blog sites that they've been inspired by him, to the 'alleged' Muslim U.S. Army psychologist at Fort Hood who performed his obligations toward Islam by murdering his U.S. colleagues.

The name of this abhorrent al-Qaeda affiliate has, according to Assistant RCMP Commissioner Gilles Michaud, been popping up during investigations of "the individuals that are of concern to us." Too bad for us, and for the Americans that he fled the scene of his early successes in the United States for Yemen from whence he has become unassailable, and from which perch he is free to continue his unbridled calls for pleasing Allah.

However, nyah, nyah! is elocuted in Arabic, he is doing that from Yemen. All the 'radicalized' (Islamist-psycho-tainted-delusional) Canadians of Somalia and Pakistan, Syrian and Palestinian derivation, for example, who have travelled to Somalia and Pakistan for terrorist training appear to have been entertained, impressed and inspired by Al-Awlaki's preaching. The UN lists the man as a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A man with a distinguished career. An Islamist celebrity. Whose spiritual rantings are readily accessible through the auspices of the World Wide Web, which has revolutionized revolutionary guerrilla warfare. Inspiring carnage in God's name. For, as he exults, "We are fighting for God".
God has yet to be heard from. One suspects Him to be hugely offended.

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Why, Precisely?

Sounds counter-productive, actually. The Federal Government is looking to cut costs at the same time that it is incurring greater costs. It's that old story of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Don't we all do it? Except that when government does it, it can have far-reaching consequences. In this instance it's cutting back a program that has real value, not only for prison inmates but for the prison system, a program that is acknowledged as valuable in the very community where prison farms exist.

Canadians who indulge in illegal acts, held to account for their crimes against society pay their dues by being confined to prison. Usually sentenced to prison stays commensurate with the crimes they've committed. For a whole lot of people, particularly those accused and found guilty of white-collar, and not violent crimes, that time of incarceration represents a hell on Earth. Having the option of being out in a farm owned by the corrections service, doing healthy manual labour can be a life-saving plus.

Penitentiary-operated farms produce dairy and egg operations. The Frontenac farm in Kingston, Ontario was able to supply 14 correctional institutions with their products, at no outside cost. Surplus eggs were delivered to the local food bank. A huge benefit was available to prison farm workers and the surrounding community through an agricultural green space, through interaction with local farm supply companies.

The prisoners who worked on those farms will be bereft of the fresh-air experience, the pleasure in growing green foodstuffs, in animal husbandry. But the correctional services decided that farm work did not reflect the kind of job opportunities available to discharged prisoners. And that other types of job training would be preferentially useful. The savings in the Kingston farm closure will amount to $4-million.

The proposed new facilities to house greater numbers of inmates in a government 'get-tough-on-crime' initiative, and the expansion of existing facilities to house more inmates in existing facilities will be extremely costly. Shaving $4-million off this kind of program is penny wise and pound foolish. There are losses involved that transcend the obvious 'saving'.

That's a shame, actually. And a whole lot of people think that way, in fact. Doesn't appear to have been a well-thought-out decision. It doesn't rate, for example, with shutting down lighthouse operations due to mechanization and electronics that are capable of producing the same results.

That was a heritage issue, where people were sad to see a beloved symbol go. This is more than a symbol, it is a practical use of space, opportunity and manpower and the intangibles of humane alternatives.

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Suited Up For the Job

Royals and Popes sit on toilet seats just like anyone else. Not the usual symbol of common humanity but close enough. The equivalent of that shared human function is the knowledge a woman has of her husband. Inscrutable to others, but familiar to her.

Women who shrewdly assess the all-too-human and often quite particular lack of positive assets of their unprepossessing spouses. Whom they, nonetheless hold dear. Most wives are more discreet about their familial wisdom. They keep it to themselves, held tightly close where there is no danger of it accidentally spilling into the light of day, perhaps to harm a husband's aspirations.

Then there are those women whose tongues will not be stopped. They wag constantly directly in front of their husbands, spelling out fully their perceptions, informing the man of his failings and he is left to shrug and get on with his life. It takes quite the relationship and quite the special man to weigh what his wife says against their life together and the manner in which they otherwise treat one another, and his feelings about her.

Seems Japan's new prime minister, Naoto Kan, must be one of those special men. If so, it would appear his kindly disposition is directed toward his wife only. One reads he is referred to as "irritable Kan", reflective of his quick temper.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that Mr. and Mrs. Kan have some extremely electric conversations, disquieting discussions with one another. Probing, piercing, darting and deflecting. And perhaps their emotional bond is sufficiently strong to accept as normal for them that situation, one which would most surely be destructive of most intimate relationships.

Nobuko Kan has published a book. Obviously a tell-all book, since she discusses her husband's abilities and spectacular lack of them for a public figure quite frankly. Only her opinion, of course, but who knows a husband better than a wife? Certainly not the husband, since most people see themselves as they prefer to.

"I wonder, 'Is it OK that the man is prime minister?' - because I know him so well," appears to be one of the little zingers to appear in her book, What on Earth Will Change in Japan after You Become Prime Minister? Either these two enjoy a solidly strident love-hate relationship, or they're quite simply immune to each other's barbs.

Quite unlike, on the face of it, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and his beautiful wife who is divorcing her husband because of his irrepressible public sexual imbroglios. One would naturally assume that Mr. Berlusconi hardly represents Prime Ministerial material, yet he has been voted into office more than once, his publicly unseemly peccadilloes notwithstanding.

"Many people in the current political world are light-weights. Things may turn out like this if you choose from among them. Kan likes to be in the field. I believe he is best suited to giving directions on the spot in support of somebody else." But wait, there's much worse, alas, for the poor man appears to have "no interest in fashion at all", and is incapable of cooking the simplest of meals "because of the bad education by me and his mother."

"Even as a family member, I could not give him even a passing grade for his delivery of a policy speech, or for the question-and-answer sessions after he became prime minister." Give the guy a break, he's only held the office for a month...? Sounds as though an otherwise-loving wife is completing a vendetta-curse.

Well, holy soya-sauce! Men in Japan, particularly men of Mr. Kan's vintage were never expected to do housewifely things. This kind of expectation is not normal in Japan, where the genders have their strictly separate roles, and male children are doted on by their grandmothers, their mothers, and usually their wives as well.

Mrs. Kan is quite obviously not a traditional Japanese wife; not for her humble paces behind her husband. "I will do what I can as his wife, but I'd also like to keep my own freedom", she says. No kidding. No problem.

As for Mr. Kan, he accords her the title of "officious opposition". (Just kidding, her hubbie-conferred title is actually "opposition in the home".) Long may they fondly bicker.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shooting From The Hip Lip

Reality brief: get the facts, not the factoids. The meat, not the giblets. Act in haste, you know you'll be held to account when the facts emerge, and then publicly repent, with sulphur-odoured egg smeared all over your face. Makes you look like the dolts you don't want to resemble, the knee-jerky idiots who took a story, edited it to suit their purpose and cried 'reverse-racism!' because it made their day and headlines, as well.

Here was Shirley Sherrod, a fine upstanding American who understands well, through personal experience and keen observation of the passing scene what racial intolerance and hate-inspired isolation produces. And who did her utmost throughout an honourable service-career to help people survive catastrophic circumstances that would lead to a penuriously dismal failure.

Tasked by her position as an enabler, an administrator of rural development, she assisted hundreds of farmers, black and white, to sustain their livelihoods through joint interaction and shared potentials, surmounting the difficulties of economic difficulties in depressed farming markets. Sharing some signal moments in her past with the NAACP, her statements were videotaped and worked over with sinister intent.

Released on a super-heated right-wing blog and going viral in the news media who picked it up as the latest example of institutionalized racial intolerance in reverse, to stab the current administration with an example of one of their own shafting whites. Even the NAACP, whose conference gathering heard her complete speech, accepted the out-of-context accusations.

Not only leaving her to dangle high in the wind, alone and betrayed but supporting the contentions of those who were responsible for deliberately misreading and misinterpreting her story. "Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race", the national president solemnly condemned.

They were appalled by her actions. No different than the abuse of power against people of colour. "I didn't discriminate", she begged to differ. "I didn't have to help that farmer. I could have sent him out the door without giving him any help at all. But in the end, we became very good friends, and that friendship lasted for some years."

The wife of the farmer in question, now 82, still considers Shirley Sherrod her "friend for life", who was singly responsible for helping her family avoid bankruptcy. "She's the one I give credit for helping us save our farm" (decades previously). The executive director of the nonprofit organization informed CNN: "I can't praise Shirley enough. She holds no malice in her heart."

But unfortunately Shirley Sherrod was urged, encouraged, then finally forced to leave her position as Georgia director of rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By an Obama administration horrified that they might be conceived of being linked to someone who behaved so atrociously as was reported by Fox News, thanks to Tea Party activist Andrew Breitbart.

What a difference a day makes. The White House that was so anxiously determined to fire this woman, now agonizes over its rash reaction to a vicious, unproven accusation of racism. "Without a doubt, Ms. Sherrod is owed an apology. I would do so on behalf of this administration. Everybody involved made determinations without knowing all the facts and all the events." The White House regrets the "injustice".

You can bet they do. And an reinstated Shirley Sherrod will just go back to doing what she always did, representing the very best interests of her clients in an unbiased, empathetic and humane manner, a credit to her personally, and to the U.S. administration by default.

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Brothers At Arms

Seems we can rely more on newspaper sleuthing than we can on the OPP and the Ontario Attorney-General's office to discover the new URL and server for the morbidly anti-Semitic web site of Salman Hussein, a bravado-keen hate-monger who has eluded being brought to court on charges of encouraging genocide. Thanks to some investigatory work by the National Post, the new server site was discovered.

And this is after Canada's Attorney-General stepped in to contact the U.S. Internet company that originally hosted the website Filthy Jewish Terrorists, asking it to consider shedding itself of Hossain's filth-spewing hatred, only to be faced with a mocking message from the absconded terror-monger eluding criminal charges, that he has been successful in discovering another site, with the same URL, different domain.

"Like I stated earlier, it makes very little difference if they try and take down the server as I am moving it to another country's server where it will be much more difficult to take down and where they really and truly hate Jews." Gotta hand it to this wretched little misery, he has done his homework, Ireland seems to seethe with (anti-Zionism) anti-Semitism, giving him reason to feel he's found a haven for his web site.

Carlow, Ireland, the site located by the National Post, and once contacted the Web-host, advised of the viral pathology they would be aiding, immediately took steps to cancel its agreement to host the new website. Gloom. Never fear, however, it will appear yet, hosted elsewhere, at another site which will be less concerned about its content.

"The content on that website would be illegal in Ireland and in Europe", assured a spokesman for Blacknight. "And as far as our legal counsel is concerned, any website content that incites anybody to murder another human being, be that an individual or mass genocide, would be illegal." How about odiously immoral, a crime-against-humanity-in-the-making?

A site that will see nothing much amiss about the encouragement of terrorist attacks within Canada, by Canadian-born jihadists just waiting for the signal to join the frenzied fray, and thrilling to the cheers of yet another Canadian soldier being blown up by an IED in Afghanistan - and ready and willing to do their part in "exterminating" Canada's Jewish population.

For his part Hossain, "a regular Muslim supporting the jihad overseas", remains dedicated to his mission in life. And from his little hidey-hole in Yemen or wherever he has happened to have found an abode sheltering him from justice, permitting him to express himself and encourage and recruit others to violent jihad, he may yet see his aspirations fulfilled.

It's possible he is patterning himself on another rabid racist and hater of humanity living outside the fervid embrace of Islamist dementia. Such as American citizen Samir Khan, who fled the United States to ingratiate himself with al-Qaeda, to use his venomous voice and electronic skills to produce a popular on-line journal to appeal to and entice young Western Muslims hoping to find special meaning in their lives.

Saudi-born, but living in the U.S. since the age of 7 with his family, Khan's blog was named "Inshallahshaheed" (martyrsoonifGodwills), and he plugged away at it from his family's suburban home in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina. He too, is believed to now be resident in Yemen, happily editing "Inspire", al-Qaeda's on-line recruiting tool in the Arabian Peninsula.

Soul brothers. When they meet they will share many happy hours, comparing exploits and daring one another to ever greater heights of martyrdom-inspired adventures. Inshallah.

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Uh, Huh!

Freely given, hastily accepted. Consensual sex. One-night stands. Women hoping that if they put out there might be repeats, and who knows what that might lead to. Marriage? Why not. Where there is sex there is hope. But that robustly-proven old adage, 'act in haste, repent at leisure', also quite concisely describes how many women feel after the fact. As in dammit, did I really do that?

And things can get even more complicated when, as happens all too often, the woman was - or thought she was - misled somehow. That the man represented himself as something - someone, actually - he was not. A wealthy man. A bachelor. A member of a royal house. A high-powered politician. A well-remunerated professional man. A guy looking for the right girl to complement his life. A Jew?

Since when might being a Jewish guy on the loose land some shmuck in an eager woman's bed? Ah, in Israel, when he's facing off with a Jewish woman. Jewish women generally, when they envision where things might go from there, think: eager Jewish guy. But this guy was a 30-year-old delivery man, and an Arab.

See where we're going here? He did what hordes of men before him have done, for the opportunity to get into some woman's bed; he misrepresented who he was. What he was. Introducing himself as a "Daniel", when he was really a "Sabbar". And, when the woman, whose name is being protected, while his is not, discovered the deception she was rather irritated.

Sufficiently so to bring criminal charges against him. And an Israeli court convicted this man of "rape by deception" following a criminal trial. They met in Jerusalem, on the street. They conversed, they meandered over to a nearby office and there they had a quickie. After which Sabbar Kashur departed, swiftly.

No coy telephone contact afterward, suggesting another assignation. He knew where to draw the line. She did not. It was perfectly all right for her to engage in sex for whatever reason, not necessarily as she later suggested, on the chance that she might find in him a future husband. Not so all right for him to represent himself as a remotely potential mate. For like oil and water, Jews and Arabs don't naturally meld in the MidEast.

The judge, a female, obviously allowed her gender to interpret law, concluding that the law had a duty to protect such women from "smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price. If (the victim) hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have co-operated." Co-operated?

Pu-lease! Would this have occurred if it had been a married Jewish man passing himself off as a bachelor? If he had been a Jewish criminal with a long record of gender-abuse?

As it is this poor guy who has been found criminally responsible, can appeal. No amount of appealing, however, will protect him from his wife's reaction at his insultingly sordid dalliance.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Israel, Wherefore Art Thou?

Now, that's fascinating. The news out of the Washington Post of the runaway and hugely redundantly expensive, and fairly inept-to-inoperative Homeland Security in the United States, post 9-11. Over three thousand government and private contractor organizations operating from ten thousand locations across the U.S. and almost a million people with top-secret security clearance, and 33 new building complexes to house them. They've managed to produce 50,000 reports annually. What has it resulted in?

There's a whole lot of home-grown, and-growing young Islamist jihadi threats on the horizon. Some of them have already committed to martyrdom, and some have succeeded beyond their wildest delusions. More have been apprehended as a result of citizen-awareness alerting authorities. And the home-grown threat has not been pacified, and it will continue to fester. And so too, doubtless, will the immense industry constructed to detect their sinister plans.

Mind, they could take more than a few lessons from the State of Israel, a country that lives within a hornet's nest of incendiary states bristling with their own home-grown fanatics eager to bring down the autocratic, totalitarian, theocratic governments - most of which deplore the presence of Israel themselves and have in the past, and will in the future, do what they can to destroy it. (They do it with the aid of human intelligence trained to detect dangers and to act accordingly.)

And, beyond that, there's the proxy terror groups who threaten the country at its borders, and well beyond, even as the UN agencies stand watch - and there's the tribal-inbred, religion-fanatic-invested citizens of the country themselves of Arab origin, but with Israeli citizenship who plot, who attack, who sit in the elected Knesset representing Palestinian rights, with no loyalty whatever to the State that has given them all the rights of citizenship.

But the U.S. cares, deeply, about the state of the State of Israel. As its ally and protector. Even if the State of Israel is prickily irritating at the best of times. As in rumbles coming out of the country that it will have no option but to attack the Islamic Republic of Iran which constantly threatens its existence, and which is coming perilously close to producing bomb-grade uranium in its busy-beaver nuclear installations.

That, apart from all the lethal devices that Israel's borders are being bombarded with daily, threats from Hamas and Hezbollah, beloved proxies of Iran and Syria to increase the accuracy, lethality and reach of more technologically sophisticated armaments courtesy of Russia and China and North Korea. However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, in Israel to announce that Congress has allocated $205-million to accelerate development of the "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system is useful news.

Useful in the sense that it may belay for the time being Israel's other concerns. For President Obama is anxious to ensure that Israel does not undertake to initiate a bombing foray over Iran to destroy its nuclear installations in an effort to save itself from nuclear destruction by Iran. Since he is convinced that should Israel act in such a selfish manner to save its future, it will impact deleteriously on American interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, et al.

"U.S. support for Israel's security" harrumphed Mr. Shapiro, "is much more than a simple act of friendship. We are fully committed to Israel's security because it enhances our own national security and because it helps Israel to take the steps necessary for peace... we cannot entrust Israel's future to the status quo. And the most certain way to ensure Israel's future as a democratic state is through a sustainable regional peace." Um, yes, that agenda. Where no other American presidents have succeeded, the president who has pledged American-Islamic friendship urgently requires a break-through.

Israel has become increasingly isolated. The world, which post-Holocaust deferred anti-Semitism to hateful obscurity having no place in decent society appears to have embraced, post-defensive attack of Gaza in 2008 - and with the support of the Goldstone Report to the United Nations - a virulent form of anti-Israelism. Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriella Shaley, pointed out the danger to the existence of the Jewish State in the growing syndrome of anti-Zionism as a close relative to anti-Semitism.

"Israel", she said in Washington, "is the most isolated, lonely country in the world". And where the Arab world did not manage to succeed in destroying it through a succession of wars, and the economic boycott failed singularly in its intent, and while the jury is still out on terrorism, which the building of the internationally-abhorred protective wall between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza appears to prevent, de-legitimization of the State's existence may prove more effective.

Within the United Nations itself, with many of its off-shoot committees like the Human Rights Commission, largely controlled by the huge Muslim Nations Bloc, (Organization of the Islamic Conference) Israel is forever condemned and isolated, held to account in a way no other nation faces, while unlike the nations that condemn it, its human rights record remains a sterling one. European courts of public opinion remain set against Israel, accusing it of war crimes against the Palestinians when nothing could be further from the truth.

To round things out nicely, Egypt's uneasy peace pact with Israel may be in doubt in view of the fact that an intelligence source quoted by the Washington Post warns that President Hosni Mubarak is suffering from terminal cancer, with possibly no more than a year to live, placing in possible jeopardy the 1979 peace treaty, a very chilly "cold peace". Jordan's peace treaty with Israel appears an increasingly tenuous one, with high-pitched criticism of Israel's current government issuing from Amman.

Add to that Saudi Arabia whose Wahhabist fundamentalist outlook has never looked anything but sourly at the presence of Israel in the midst of the Arab Middle East. The influence that Saudi Arabia exerts on the other Arab countries is immeasurable, and its "normalization-peace plan" details insisting that Israel submit to its rigidly-untenable terms might itself eradicate the state's Jewishness. And then there is the sinister overtures that Shiite Iran and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia are engaging in.

Traditionally enemies, Arab Sunni Saudi Arabia, and Aryan Shiite Iran, are once again engaging in talks to mend their differences to ensure they do not "serve the interests of the Zionist regime and enemies of the region and the Muslim world." As though Israel's warm relations with Turkey nourished and well entrenched before the installation of an Islamist Turkish government now in complete free fall, decaying toward full belligerence weren't enough of an isolating drama.

Just how convoluted Middle East politics remain can be seen in the fear that Saudi Arabia feels respecting Iran's nuclear agenda. Despite their more recent warming trend in relations, Saudi Arabia has been purported to have given tacit approval to an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear infrastructure. The London Times reported the Saudis gave permission for Israeli bombers to pass over the Kingdom on a bombing mission to Iran.

Should Israel finally be forced to decide it can wait no longer, and undertake to risk striking Iran, it will do so because it can no longer countenance the risk of being bombed by a nuclear-armed Iran. Which fact of Iranian nuclear-arms would present as a direct threat to the entire Middle East. Once such an event occurred, all concerned with the exception of Iran's Supreme Commander and its President, would breathe a sigh of relief. Ordinary Iranians would take the opportunity to resurrect their Green revolution.

While the international community, breathing relief at the pre-emption, would also breathe fire and condemnation at Israel for bringing the calamity of potential war in the Middle East closer to reality. And the United States would raise its huge objections respecting Israel's intransigent refusal to heed its directions, withdrawing its support temporarily from Israel, until it is assured that the attack has indeed not harmed its interests.

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Deterrent Presence? Deadly Response

Another Canadian sacrifice to peace, order and good governance. No, not within Canada, we long ago mastered the political-social protocol to ensure that those imperatives were soundly in place. Rather, Canadian troops installed with ISAF, in a NATO enterprise to bring peace order and good governance to a country solidly entrenched in the Middle Ages whose current Western-backed government is heartily averse to governance other than Afghan-style.

Sapper Brian Collier from 1 Combat engineer Regiment in Edmonton, in becoming the 151st Canadian soldier to leave his life in Afghanistan, leaving his family to mourn the fact that they will never again see their boy, the reason for yet another solemn ramp ceremony as he is shipped home to Bradford, Ontario. This was Sapper Collier's second exposure to danger; the first a few months back merely wounded him.

He was on foot patrol in eastern Panjwaii district when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. There are a whole lot more of those IEDs implanted in the area. As a response to the increased Canadian determination to help Afghanistan win the war against its deadly insurgency Canadian troops have been stationed in the area, to live among the villagers. To defend the village people, and to keep the Taliban at bay.

Do the villagers wish to be defended from the presence of their co-religionists and tribal brothers? Do the villagers have any trust in the presence of uniformed military foreigners in their midst, when tradition and tribalism have always violently spurned a foreign presence in their country? Are the villagers themselves involved in assisting the Taliban with the certain knowledge that the foreigners will soon leave and the Taliban will remain?

"We are working so diligently in Panjwaii District so that we can bring about the sort of positive changes that have resulted from our operations over the past year in neighbouring Dand District. Recall the state of Dand District when we started our village operations there last year, and now the district is recovering." (Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance.) Recovering? As soon as the foreign presence has departed the Taliban will return.

This is Islamism, a political ideology, indomitably self-assured and determined to assert its domination wherever it can, and it can because it will. Because the collective will is there to ensure it can. There is nothing more powerful to the human mind than a religious mission with which to entrap people into the ecstatic belief they do the work of God, for there is no higher mission in the minds of the fanatic.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unity In Afghanistan

Well, that's settled now. Hamid Karzai has informed those gathered to a conference in Kabul, a 'peace conference' no less, that he and Afghanistan are fully prepared to be self-accountable, independent, capable of looking to their own interests and they will achieve this by 2014. A timeline that fits neatly into the plans of the United States as it happens. The country with the most troops stationed in Afghanistan. In a coalition with other NATO countries, all of which are anxious to depart that benighted country.

It's mind-boggling to consider what this nine-year 'war' against the Taliban has cost all the Western backers. In lives lost, in nations' treasuries, in time spent within the country desperately attempting to mend all the ills of an entrenched medieval society held in the thrall of a fanatical religion that imposes its strictures on every facet of human endeavour; its social functioning, politics, ideology. A country where indeed people live to serve a divine master. One whose functionaries prey pitilessly on the vulnerable.

International aid continues to pour into the country; humanitarian groups busily invested in a determined effort to bring civil services, health services, jurisprudence, a working government administration, schools and employment opportunities to a people whose most recent memories and whose heritage has been invasion and oppression by imperialist armies and by tribal adversaries armed, trained and directed by neighbouring countries.

The current government of Afghanistan is irremediably corrupt. It has no intention of changing its traditions that compel people to buy what they require from corrupt officials at every level of society. It is the grease that brings a modicum of order to a creaking administrative effort. Western aid donors, fully cognizant of this endemic corruption have funnelled funding through NGOs, bypassing government coffers.

President Hamid Karzai is offended by this, feeling he and his ministers should be given the opportunity to disburse, to plan and to produce the civic infrastructures to forward the interests of the country directly. The distrust in which he is generally held has caused him the occasional mental distress demonstrated by his none-too-veiled threats to join hands with the Taliban. His intention still is to buy out the less-committed Taliban, ordinary Pashtun tribespeople, his very own.

"It's absolutely important to us and the international community for its taxpayers' money to be acknowledged to have an impact on the ground, to lead to sustainable development, to strengthen Afghanistan institutions", said Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwai. Illustrating how cleverly adaptive these minds are to the buzz-words of obliging, guilt-ridden Western democracies, eager to secure their departure, desperate to ensure that the jihadists that threaten the West are buffered.

Sixty nations taking part in the conference, with a wide variety of non-governmental international institutions represented by their own delegates; this is a large-scale conference taking place in a quite dangerous war zone. Even though it is in the capital of the country, a city said to be well secured and defended, the Taliban prove otherwise, casually sending in their own suicide-belted delegates. Blowing up security-tight areas in Kabul. So much for tight security.

After nine long and weary years of Western sacrifice to the needs of Afghanistan and its tormented people precisely what has been accomplished? A veneer of civilization, greater numbers of children, including girls, attending school. Health clinics available for people's primary needs, a budding Islamic-style democracy where graft is the way of life and continues to be, a judiciary that is only slightly tainted, a police force held in contempt by the people, and an army incapable of acting on its own.

And Kandahar, the heart and soul of the 'insurgency'? That area which NATO claims has seen success? Some success that is. Greater numbers of attacks as the Taliban build up their forces with new recruits on a constantly-growing basis. Aided and abetted by tribal villagers with whom they share a common heritage and who are willing to learn how to produce IEDs and to carefully secure them. Foreigners are not, and have never been welcome in Afghanistan.

Canada will be withdrawing its forces in 2011, as will several other countries. Britain several years later. The United States already looks to the future divestment of its troops in the country. Depending on its staunch ally, Pakistan, to help guide Afghanistan to a steady state of reasonable functioning. This is the same Pakistan whose secret service trained and armed the Taliban.

Nuclear Pakistan that continually threatens its nuclear neighbour India, sending terror-jihadis into Mumbai and Kashmir. Democratic-inclined Pakistan whose tribal regions genially host al-Qaeda and their own Pakistani Taliban whose predations on tribal villages and whose incursions into Pakistan's own cities setting off suicide missions has become commonplace.

All is well.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Hearts and Minds

What should be clear through even a cursory study of historical antecedents, and a practical look at current events through the lens of a medieval society for whom fundamental religious devotion inscribes every facet of life, is finally identified as the result of a survey. Where field researchers with the International Council on Security and Development interviewed over 500 men in rural Kandahar and Helmand provinces, to discover that the majority remain sturdily unconvinced that NATO has any business whatever in Afghanistan.

In urban Kabul where the government of Hamid Karzai has some modicum of effectiveness and where international aid groups have been successful in liberalizing to some degree the manner in which women and girls are treated, it may be true that a large proportion of Afghans appreciate Western support. Where the population now has access to medical centres and children may now attend schools where girls were previously disallowed, and women may work to support themselves and men can shave beards without punishment.

In rural Afghanistan where the bulk of the population lives, a significant majority of Afghans (Pashtuns) feel that foreigners are a blight on their landscape, that respect for their traditions and for their religion is absent, and that it is "wrong" for them to work alongside international forces. And that the Western military offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar is not in their best interests.

Which clearly and obviously explains why it is that Canadian and other Western forces can walk or drive obliviously into IEDs that have been cleverly planted where they will do the most harm. Whose placement may be well known to the village communities. Some of whom may indeed have been involved in planting those IEDs. So why would they warn the foreigners of the presence of the explosives? Why would they betray their own?

The council's report, titled Afghanistan: The Relationship Gap, came to the conclusion that "These results are troubling and demonstrate the mistrust and resentment felt towards the international presence in Afghanistan". Amazing. What is truly amazing is the extent that well-meaning but unaware and righteous individuals and groups will go to to deny the obvious. Until it hits them in the face with the veracity of admission.

"We are failing to explain ourselves or our objectives to the Afghan people", said Norine MacDonald, a Canadian lawyer and president and lead researcher with the International Council on Security and Development. That failure, according to Ms. MacDonald, is the impetus behind the Taliban's ability to impress the population with its anti-Western propaganda.

Don't think so. The Taliban share ethnicity with the population. They are them. They share a religion, in a basic, fundamentalist manner. They share a heritage and a culture, and a great social understanding that this is how the country has been managed from time immemorial, and that resistance to the constant invasion of the country by foreigners is part of that culture.

Of course it was only men who were asked the questions in the survey. Women were not consulted. In a culture and a society where women are not seen, not heard from traditionally, little wonder. Women are chattel. In Kabul they are women. In Kabul they worry about their government's insistence that it wishes to confer with, bargain with, ally themselves with, the Taliban.

The feasibility of sharing government with the Taliban is newly appealing to Hamid Karzai. It will stop the terror attacks, the killing, the throwing of acid in the faces of girl students. The Taliban and the government of Hamid Karzai have much in common; both benefit hugely from the poppy industry, benefiting Western society with opioid production.

Afghan women are not complacent about this prospect. Their chattel inheritance will return. Their freedoms evaporate. The futures of their children stagnate and settle once again into backwardness and ignorance and hopelessness.

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Psychopathic Men, Exemplary Women

If ever there was a loathsome offence against all that society holds dear = the protection of its young being that paramount dearness, and the offence being that of brutally snuffing out the life of the young - it is exemplified by the psychopathic monster whose name is Clifford Olson. Even people who are distinctly averse to the very notion of capital punishment might find it in their hearts to accept there might be anomalous occasions when an exception could be tolerated.

Eleven children, between the ages of 10 and 16, raped and tortured, murdered by this odious monster. Eleven children denied the opportunity to live, to discover, to feel joy and love and the challenge of opportunities. Eleven children whose families are destined to live a nightmare that never ends. And the charade of appearing before a parole board where each time that occurs the bereaved families shudder and die a little more.

Canadians voted for an end to capital punishment. A life incarcerated for crimes committed would suffice to inscribe Canadian justice on society's awareness of crime and punishment. Care is given to the incarcerated to ensure they are well fed, exercised, opportunities given to express themselves. The right to vote? The right to receive taxpayer-funded pensions? The right to receive medical treatment and the right to sue the system?

What presents as a mystery, however, resides in the case itself. That the RCMP finally found the man responsible for the disappearances of eleven children. And that in an effort to recover the bodies of those slaughtered children an agreement was reached to ransom those bodies to give the families closure with the burial of their mangled, decomposed bodies. Ten thousand dollars to be handed over in exchange for each child's body, its whereabouts disclosed.

The man's unspeakable, conscienceless, brutal atrocities describe his character. But wait, there is another personality and character involved here. The individual to whom he was married, his wife. To whom the $100,000 ransom money was delivered. Where was her conscience? To know that her husband murdered young children in his depraved psychotic lust might be presumed to bring despair to any woman.

This woman accepted as her just due a hundred thousand dollars. Her husband murdered children and her conscience allowed her to accept that blood money, the money given over to ensure the location of those poor bodies would be found. How sordidly immoral is that? That represents a kind of associative relationship to the crime that is profoundly despicable.

What motivates such women?

I write that in the plural because there is another, more recent instance where a woman whose husband has been accused of dreadful crimes has also sought to protect herself financially from loss associated with her husband's crimes. Col. Russell Williams has yet to be tried for murder. Two murders. Along with a series of other crimes, like rape and home invasions and thefts.

And Col. Williams' wife has taken steps, with her husband, to ensure that their jointly-owned property was signed over to her. A civil lawsuit has been launched by one of the sexual-assault victims of her husband, and fearing that the outcome of the lawsuit would impinge on the value of jointly-held property, she took steps to protect her financial interests.

One might assume that a woman would think last of such relatively mundane matters, would be more likely to want to disown any possessions held jointly with such a man. Not so, evidently.

Mary-Elizabeth Harriman conspired with her husband to take legal steps to ensure she was the sole owner of a costly townhouse, while leaving him the sole owner of a modest rural cottage. So where is the conscience of this woman? Married for long years to a man whose psychopathy evidently was never a bother to her personally, but which resulted in the attacks and rapes of other women, and the rapes and deaths of two.

Her concern is to protect her financial investments. Not that she is incapable of looking after herself financially. She has a well-paid professional job working for a national charitable health institute. She is now concerned to have court action banning publication of information respecting her professional life, her personal finances and her legal affairs.

"Her reputation in the community is exemplary", according to a legal document filed with the court.

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Marketing Calls

Don't we love to hate those intrusive telephone calls representing marketing initiatives. They are ceaseless, and irritating beyond measure. The CRTC heralded a brave initiative to bring order to the disorder of constantly ringing telephones that drive people insane. One could register with them and the numbers of such calls would diminish. This was years ago, and the problem persists. And just lately, the inhibiting-impetus of the 'do not call' listing was declared to have been ineffective, qualifiedly unsuccessful.

Pity, that. Which simply goes to prove that human ingenuity in the field of public relations and marketing go hand in hand to build an aura of automatic reflection in human consciousness that product-consumption is a social good. And that marketers will recognize no bounds, and no amount of good intentions on the part of government attempting to deal with public frustration over the constant sales and marketing harrassment will ever achieve its goal. Because there are always exceptions and the exceptions prove the rule.

There is the matter of call centers. They create employment. Not necessarily the kind of employment that bright young educated people consider their future aspirational employment, but of necessity one that keeps body and soul together. The call centers that respond to people requiring information or assistance, and which are often very useful for that very purpose. Where manufacturing has gone elsewhere, and such positions are paramount in job-creation.

And then those call centres are sent out-of-country because in countries of huge populations where English is a second language and unemployment is rife and employees are paid a pittance, competition is the end-game. Got a problem with a utility? Use this number. Need help with a computer glitch or a problem with connectivity? Call this number. And the assistance you require will come complete with the challenge of sharpening your ears.

The accented English you hear with a vocabulary that does not quite match your own will produce confusion and frustration, and perhaps even a working solution to your problem. Your telephone rings and you respond, and it is a voice that sounds peculiarly out-of-continent attempting to sell you on a new product, offering 'free' gifts for subscriptions, irritating the hell out of you because you don't want the product and the need to focus on the voice to interpret what it is saying grates on your nerves.

This is life in a call-centre world. Where bright young Indian men and women with fairly good educations and passable English are now offered jobs at call centres, even if they live in small towns and cities. Young Indian men and women no longer are required to leave their homes and their parents to travel to Indian mega-cities and live estranged from what is familiar to them, working long hours in call centres.

The call centres have come to them. Call centres that have pulled their operations out of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, or Ontario or Quebec, and re-located to the Indian sub-continent. Creating much needed employment opportunities for young Indian men and women. Offering them salaries they might only have dreamed about. While young Canadian men and women go on unemployment rolls, hoping some job will come along soon.

We cannot do enough to help those who live in the developing world.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Canadian Armed Forces - Self Destructing?

Here is hoping that reason will prevail and that Capt. Robert Semrau, formerly with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, will be released from guilt in the dispatch of a mortally-wounded or perhaps already-dead Taliban guerrilla. The Canadian Armed Forces appear to be in the grip of a death wish.

Granted, it is a civilian criminal court that will be prosecuting Col.Russell Williams for the atrocities he has committed. Within Canada. His case is an anomaly. That of a psychopath whose hold on reality was breached when he succumbed to the allure of his psychotic neuroses.

His hidden life was revealed and he will stand trial for a wide range of criminal offences, not the least of which is murder. The man does not represent the wealth of Canadian men and women who enroll in the Armed Forces and serve with honour and distinction.

But, of course, there are others who have been recalled from active duty in Afghanistan and in Haiti, held to have dishonoured their pledge in very human ways when they permitted their emotions to embroil them in intimate relations, potentially impacting on their ability to discharge their duties at critical times of both war and crisis-amelioration situations.

With Capt. Semrau it is vastly different. He was discharging his assigned task as the leader of a four-man contingent tasked to mentor and support Afghan soldiers in a joint operation opposing the Taliban insurgents. Taliban aggressors. Taliban terrorists, for they do, after all, terrorize woman and children and female children in particular. Apart from setting IEDs.

Religious fanatics are a breed apart; steadfast in the overwhelming righteousness of their cause which nothing can deflect them from pursuing, sowing death and destruction in their wake. In reflection of what their Islamist counterparts in Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia also perfect; martyrdom through conviction, communal death by deadly design.

Capt. Robert Semrau, in a very particular place at a particular time - when an air ambulance could not be called in, witness to the death agony of a man who had been shot out of a tree by an attack helicopter and sustained mortal wounds that medical attention likely would not have been able to ameliorate - decided to take battlefield mercy on the man.

There are those, the commander of the Afghan group with whom he was associated - who testified that the man was close to death, and he ordered his men to give the Muslim prayer for the dead over him - refusing him any medical attention. There are those who recognize what occurred as a mercy killing. There is no body to be identified.

There is nothing but battlefield concepts of valour, compassion and honour.

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Turkish e-Terrorism

Turkish Hackers Steal Thousands of Email, PayPal, Bank Accounts
by Hana Levi Julian Turkish Hackers Grab Israel Info

Turkish hackers have stolen the details of thousands of Israeli bank, credit card and Pay Pal accounts, and posted the information online.

According to the Israeli We-CMS blog, the information was posted on to the message board of a Turkish Internet forum. By Sunday morning, the We-CMS blog itself was found “suspended” when Israel National News attempted to access the site.

In addition to the details of at least 32,561 Israelis, more than 140 passwords to Israeli government web sites and more than 300 passwords to Israeli academic web pages were swiped as well.

Globes business news service reports that many of the email addresses and passwords obtained by the Internet terrorists included accounts on Facebook, Gmail and Microsoft Live Messenger. Most of those had been hacked since the flotilla clash between IHH terror activists and Israeli Navy commandos aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship in May.

Erez Wolf, owner of the We-CMS, warned reporters, “The hackers used the information in their possession to enter accounts on other web sites. Assuming that many surfers use the same email, same password and same user name to register on all the sites that require registration – because it's easier to remember – the email and password from the hacked site will be the same one that gets them into others... like Pay Pal. From what I've been able to learn on the forum, the hackers penetrated the Pay Pal accounts of Israelis, and their bank accounts, and also were able to obtain credit card details as well.”

Wolf added that surfers have been debating the use of the information on the Turkish message board where the passwords and user names were posted in an Excel document. The discussion, said Wolf, is focused on whether or not it is permitted under Islamic law to use the stolen data.

Some of the writers have contended that as enemies of Islam, it is permitted to wreak whatever havoc is possible to Israeli users, citing social, criminal and religious arguments. Several quoted passages from the Koran that referred to the disposition of assets belonging to infidels (heretics).

The Excel file was downloaded from the Turkish web site and handed over to the Israel Police, who were unavailable for comment Sunday morning.

Published in Arutz Sheva, 18 July 2010

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Turkish Humanitarians

IHH Linked to Turkish President Erdogan
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu IHH Linked to Turkish Government

The IHH “charity," which attacked Israeli Navy commandos and which has been termed a terrorist group by Germany, is in cahoots with the governing Turkish party led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according a report in The New York Times.

The IHH has been exposed as a charity front for terror since the May 31 clash on the high seas when it supposedly was bringing humanitarian aid on a peace mission as a guise to break Israel’s sovereignty over the coastal waters of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The latest disclosure by the Times proves that the IHH not only was sponsored by the government, but its officials also are inherently linked with Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, also known as the AK. As many as 10 AK legislators canceled plans at the last minute to join the IHH’s Mavi Marmara ship after being warned by Turkish government officials that their presence may be too dangerous diplomatically, Times’ reporter Tyler Hicks wrote.

(Pictured at left: Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan) Nine IHH members, thoroughly trained by Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, were killed after clubbing Israeli Navy soldiers who had boarded the ship nearly defenseless in an effort to prevent it from continuing on its course to Gaza. The incident resulted in a worsening relationship between Turkey and Israel, but if the Turkish legislators had been on board, the situation would have been far more grave.

Turkish government officials warmly received the terror activists on their return, after the ship docked at Ashdod and was found to be carrying no humanitarian aid at all.

"The mission to Gaza served both the IHH and the government by making both heroes at home and in the Arab world,” according to Ercan Citlioglu, a terrorism expert at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul and quoted by the Times.

Despite IHH claims that it is not connected with Erdogan’s party, Tyler’s research found that 21 people on the IHH board of directors have or had close links with the AK party, including Murat Mercan, who also is chairman of the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. He was in the overland convoy that delivered aid to Gaza via Egypt last January.

Published in Arutz Sheva, 18 July 2010

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Much Ado About Statistics

Sure, statistics can tell us a whole lot about ourselves as a nation. Why not expand the short-form census, then. Alter it to include a few data-gathering bits recognized as essential to understanding the direction the country is heading toward... The long-form census will still be circulated, although it will no longer be mandatory by law to fill it out. But guess what? A whole lot of people will complete the long-form census regardless, even if they are aware it is no longer compulsory.

They will do that because, just as people like to talk about themselves, they're also eager to impart information about themselves, regardless of the fact that the experts feel people will neglect responding because they're resentful of 'intrusive' questions. For most people their favourite topics of discussion remain themselves. And/or things that pertain to them. Few people restrain themselves from waxing eloquent about themselves. Either boastfully or in the way of complaint.

And, since the short-form census remains mandatory, it will be returned as it has been faithfully returned in the past. Want a trifle more information to be gathered, just isolate those that seem most likely to be useful and include them. It is not all that onerous, after all, to receive these questionnaires once every five years. Grudgingly or eagerly, people do their duty. We're Canajuns, eh?

Municipal administrators who strenuously object that they will lose helpful statistics that aid them in determining the manner in which they respond to changing demographics and peoples' needs because the long-form will no longer be mandatory, should themselves look into the feasibility of directly searching out the data they need. Why look to the federal government?

Shouldn't municipalities be responsible for themselves being alert to local situations of people movement, employment statistics, public transportation needs and how they all impact on their budgets? Municipal council should always be engaged in collaboration with their local school boards, health clinics/hospitals, library boards, police and fire officials, in any event. Get the data from the horses' mouth, fellas.

As for retailers determining through searching through StatsCan statistics relating to changing demographics, give me a break. Those big box stores don't need taxpayer-funded information-gathering to enable them to discover a sudden influx of ethnics leading them to re-stock their shelves aimed at those ethnic tastes. They've the wherewithal and the economic inclination to do it on their own. Go to it.

Municipalities know, or they should know, on their own ability to research the topics, where the need for clinics, hospitals, drop-in-centres, schools is greatest in their area. And when and where they need to respond or to intervene. If they don't, they're sitting back and ignoring vital material they themselves should be required to responsibly, responsively gather.
"I certainly understand that social scientists, and I'm one of them, like to play with data, they like to analyze social trends and economic trends, but the reality here is there really is no good basis for collecting this information. It's a cheap way for academics and social scientists to get information that I believe should be acquired using voluntary means." Chief economist, Fraser Institute.

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