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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Focused Discrimination

Three Muslim-Canadians arrested on suspicion of terrorism activity. Planning jihadist attacks against Canadian government institutions and private enterprises. In the course of which innocent people would be slaughtered, but that's just the way it is. In serving a higher purpose, the glory of God, sacrifices must be made.

And these decisions are made by Canadian-born individuals, schooled in Canadian institutions, assumedly socialized with Canadian values. Obviously, we assume too much.

In reality a fairly hard shell, a protective carapace through which the sensibilities and priorities and values of Canada cannot quite penetrate. Where loyalty to the country and its values are somewhat diluted by contrary loyalties that take precedence. For what, after all, can be greater to a man's honour than to cling to one's duty to the Almighty?

Which appears to be just what 20-year-old Awso Peshdary, a Canadian citizen working as a cell-centre employee, who grew up in Ottawa, attended Hawthorne Public School, and was seen to be a caring, lovely person, fully engaged with his religion, seemed to represent. He, it would appear, had the makings of a cleric, so involved was he with the tenets of Islam.

And he aspired, at the callow age of 18 to find a "special lady who first of all is a dedicated Muslim, second who looks very beautiful, (don't) mean to be rude but a virgin. A person I can never stop talking to, one who will raise my children according to Islam, and who will be my companion to the afterlife, inshallah." He found that special lady, married and at age 20 has a baby.

His pledge to cherish a wife who honoured and believed in the same faith as he somehow led to a charge of domestic abuse, strangely enough. But that charge, evidently, is not quite what has landed him in jail as a suspect in terrorism. Far more details have emerged thus far of the previous three arrests, of Hiva Alizadeh, Misbahuddin Ahmed and Khurram Syed Sher, all upstanding, educated young men.

The Muslim community appears to be divided between the quiet, back-lash fearing element, and the defensive portion from among which has emerged warnings not to offer information, not to speak with authorities about those thus far apprehended. A closing in, if you will, of the community, shielding themselves from co-operation lest they damage themselves. Circle the community wagons.

Mr. Peshdary has ample support from the community. Those who feel they know him well, and who claim he "would never harm anybody". Strange, how after the fact, they all present as really nice people, great to be around, good sports, well integrated into society, good sense of humour. Everyone now attests to the good working habits of Mr. Peshdary, and how incredulous they are at this turn of events.

Of course, these are alleged charges for the previous three arrests, and no details yet have emerged about the fourth suspect. Within the community, within the community of the mosque all are known to one another, to a certain depth of knowledge. And the possibility of one of their own being engaged in violently anti-social acts of depraved violent intent is simply indigestible.

There is a backlash, right enough. But it does not emanate, interestingly enough, from the non-Muslim community by and large, against the Muslim community. The backlash stems from the Muslim community being convinced that there is a conspiracy afoot to blacken the names and reputations of respected members of their community.

While most Canadians are aghast at the thought of home-grown terror, others are offended they appear suspect.

On the Montreal-based lecture series for Muslim youth, The Resurrection, advertised on MontrealMuslims.ca, a website administrator cautioned members not to speak to the media about the arrested. Mr. Peshdary hosted a communal prayer for Muslim Youth of Ottawa at Colonel By Secondary School where he spoke about paradise.

A friend of Mr. Peshdary's, who knew him from earlier days, when questioned, agreed that he possibly did know the other two Ottawa-based men suspected of plotting jihad. "I would think he knows them, but through, most likely, the mosque. Because the mosque is a giant family, everybody there knows each other."

"Racism around here still does exist, and I think it's because of his look that he's being suspected as a terrorist."

Think so? Nasty thought.

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Islamism Unleashed

"Jihad is as much a primary duty as are daily prayers or fasting. One who avoids it is a sinner. His every claim to being a Muslim is doubtful. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and all his acts of worship are a sham, a worthless, hollow show of deception." Syed Maudoodi
All right, the fact is that Islam is a religion of peace. Period. No need for further discussions. Further discussion will be interpreted as a challenge to the assertion that Islam is a religion of peace. And that comes fraught with the label of Islamophobia. No one wants to be charged with being a fascist, a bigot, a racist, discriminating against a minority and a religion that they little understand but stand ready to accuse of being a crucible spawning gratuitous bloody violence.

And yes, because people who do not pledge themselves to Islam and submit to its dictates are clearly ignorant and intolerant their apprehension of Islam as having been perverted, subverted, mis-interpreted and abused by ferociously psychotic fantasists who believe it to be only a matter of time before the world accepts the domination of Islam are just begging to be slaughtered.

Tens of thousands of jihadist assaults have taken place internationally, in the name of the Prophet Mohammad and Islamic ideology, if not theology. No other religion in the world has mounted fanatical attacks against symbols and peoples and religions other than their own, in a deliberate declaration of war against the 'other'.

Yet those who recognize and identify what is occurring as theology-driven by a religious institution whose heritage is replete with tribalism, wars and assassinations and the ultimate possession of geographic areas far from the source of their own, and decry and deplore the phenomenon are accused of insensitivity. It becomes more than a little tiresome to be labelled racist as a reaction to Islamist jihadism.

The delicacy of feelings of Muslims in response to the fear and loathing expressed by non-Muslims at constant attacks upon Western targets, much less moderate Muslims, is decried as unfair, victimizing all Muslims by association. Is it the West that has victimized moderate Muslims by linking them inextricably, through a shared religion with jihadists, or the vile encouragement of imams to young Muslim men to respect their heritage and engage in jihad as loyal Muslims?

There is a rampant disease infecting young Muslim men, and it is past time that it be recognized by the greater Muslim community. There are far too few courageous Muslims like Tarek Fatah and Salma Siddiqui, prepared to place themselves in the line of retributive ire and physical danger from the Muslim community by speaking out loud and clear in condemnation of violent jihad.

Of the general unwillingness of the broader Muslim community within Canada, in reflection of what pertains elsewhere in the Islamic ummah, of hearing no evil, seeing no evil, speaking no truth. Muslim Canadians who decry the situation they find themselves in as potential suspects of violent jihad, should complain not of unfair victimization, but of their role in assisting violence.

Canadian universities demonstrate amply the inability of Muslim youth to accept Canadian values by integrating into the Canadian community, and not instead seeking confrontation with other elements of Canada's ethnic minorities. Bringing to Canada the lethal mixture of ethnicity and traditional enmities. Justifying slander and aggravated insult and assault against others as a search for justice.

Canadian mosques and Muslim community centres, incarceration institutions and institutes of higher learning have all been compromised by the presence of hard-line, fanatical Islamists whose sermonizing about the necessity of Muslims to dedicate themselves to violent jihad is incumbent upon the faithful Muslim. Only the community of Muslims is capable of closing down these cesspools of unrest and destabilization.

From which, inevitably, come the violent jihadis of tomorrow. And when their plans are detected, and they are apprehended, and the Muslim community fears an 'unfair' backlash of condemnation from the wider community, who is responsible for that, but themselves, unwilling to assert their version of Islam, turning a blind eye to the blight within.

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Cultural Normatives

We live in interesting times. They're inordinately interesting for teen-age boys, it would appear. Up to mischief, and more. Faced with irresistible temptations, and urging one another on to exploit opportunities that just happen to present themselves. These kids are impressively precocious. Imagine, three boys, all fourteen years old, making the decision to indulge in a little bit of car-jacking.

Fourteen years of age, with an ambition to perform brave deeds, the better to boast of, later. Knowing that, at least in Canada, the Youth Protection Act will ensure that they receive an obligatory wrist-slap, and little more. Their names are protected because they're vastly under-age, and even their parents are protected from notoriety that might result in publishing their names and addresses, to protect the privacy of their young 'uns.

Who can even begin to imagine what hormone-addled, adventure-obsessed, opportunity-craving young boys get up to?

Well, the news published on a daily basis certainly enlightens us. In this instance, three young boys in the Niagara region of Ontario taking possession of a Hummer, and driving it at breakneck speed - the better to indulge in the exhilaration of replaying a high-speed pursuit just like in the movies - with the Burlington-based Ontario Provincial Police hot on their tail lights.

Still, he-he, they managed to evade the police pursuit. Imagine, the bravado of three 14-year-olds and the engine-power of a Hummer, what a combination. No crashes. Hummer intact. Fourteen-year-old bodies intact. Nope, that's not the scenario. In fact, the boys deliberately struck three police cruisers, as police attempted to intercept them.

Who needs a war situation, who needs a lumbering, indestructible tank when you've got a Hummer and three kids who fantasize battle with the authorities?

Write off three police cruisers, damaged by collisions with a Hummer. And commend the OPP for calling off the chase, given the dauntless youngsters in charge of a whole lot of horsepower. The vehicle was soon after, however, spotted in a mall parking lot. Where, doubtless, the swaggering trio stopped to convince a shop owner they were old enough to buy smokes.

And where they were apprehended. What a lark! Surely there should be some mechanism by which the OPP on behalf of the Ontario taxpayer, could charge the parents for lack of parental oversight? And their penalty, one that would surely make them wince, could logically be to pay the freight for damage caused to 3 police cruisers...? Sparing the taxpayer the expense?

Worse things do happen with teen-agers.

In East Jerusalem, for example, two idling teens, aged 13 and 15, nurtured with a hatred for Jews, beat a 60-year-old American Jew to death for refusing to provide them with the requested cigarettes. He had the temerity to speak his mind to the two boys. And they took umbrage. Left him unconscious and bleeding in the center of the city, the bloody stick left beside him.

Other teens were there too, hanging around, and they witnessed the episode. And not one of them attempted to intervene, nor to check the condition of the man left beaten and bleeding. Hours later, the battered man discovered, he was rushed to Hadassah Hospital where doctors fought to save his life. He died.

A contrast in societal norms.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Patience, Have Patience - and Hope

Night is probably the most difficult time. For both the families of the trapped miners, sleeping fitfully, anxiously, in their improvised Camp Hope colony, awaiting the rescue of their loved ones, and the thirty-three trapped miners, trying to sleep in their underground, isolated bunker. The long, lonely hours of haunting memories of just a month earlier when freedom of movement, close intimate contact, the feel of the sun and fresh air were all real and present.

The new reality of being trapped deep underground at 700 metres from the surface of the Earth, surrounded by granite, with the possibility, however remote, of unexpected movement of settling soil and rock further exacerbating a tenuous existence is a difficult one to even imagine. Dire isolation, the very thought of being forcefully removed from all that is familiar and suddenly more dear than ever before, has a soul-debilitating effect. It spells desolation.

Experts in the effects of solitary confinement have a fairly good idea of the prospects of the 33 men's intact psychological survival. Their bodily needs are being serviced to the best of the ability of technical experts who managed to rig a life-line where sustenance can be provided and messages of hope conveyed to ensure physical survival. So near, yet so very impossibly far; theirs the need to sustain hope and anticipate recovery.

Chilean authorities were loathe to tell the trapped miners the entire truth, that their rescue would necessitate careful and time-consuming plans to drill a relief tunnel. Engineers are completing the assemblage of a powerful 40-ton drill capable of boring through the 700 metres of rock and earth. The excavation chute would not be a generous size, just sufficient for the weight-lost miners to squeeze singly through to the surface.

The miners have been informed that there will be a significant period of time to elapse before they can contemplate being rescued. Two months at most, they were told, in the fear that if the real time-frame was revealed it would be too nonsustaining a shock for the men, already suffering the trauma of their rock-bound incarceration, and just recovering from their semi-starvation state.

The men are bitter that their plight is a direct result of the mine company's ignoring of legislated safety features. The mine, having had to shut down previously due to a series of accidents which left 16 miners dead, was re-opened without established safety protocols having been followed. The general feeling being that influence-peddling was involved, where a state official was in collusion with the mine to the detriment of worker safety.

A common enough occurrence not just in Latin America, but just about everywhere that mining takes place, including North America.

Emotions are in full reign, and fears are justifiably expressed, and then repressed as hope re-surfaces. Communication between family and trapped miners helps considerably to instill a further sense of hope for a successful rescue. It is the state of mind of the trapped miners at the time of rescue that is uppermost in thought of the authorities and the mental-health experts.

And eventually, as work progresses and time passes, the men trapped so deep in the bowels of the Earth will have to be informed that their time of rescue is not yet, but imminent, if they only exercise a little more patience; another month, perhaps two, at most. Not the two they were informed to anticipate, to be rescued by September, but December a more likely freedom date.

"There is no technology available that would enable us to perform the rescue in one or two months", Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Goldborne admitted.

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Positively Impressive

While the opposition parties and the news media harp on about the failings of the current Conservative-led government and Prime Minister Harper's shortcomings, Michael Ignatieff, leader of the official opposition in Parliament, was out and about in Canada, making himself known and available as an affable, misunderstood future prime minister of Canada.

And, reflective of summer-time news, the media are suddenly waxing enthusiastic about the man and the success of his trip. His initial start on a bus that balked appears to have morphed into a successful cross-country get-to-know-ya summer event.

And Mr. Ignatieff and his recalcitrant bus are set now, to return to Ottawa. Mission accomplished. Stopping at little towns and cities in various provinces along the way he has accomplished what he set out to do. Preaching to those who would listen how far more useful he would be as prime minister than the current one.

He comes complete with a social conscience, one he knows is quite absent from the current position-holder. At every stop along the way he made it his business to present as a personable and intelligent future prime minister. Whose forays abroad that consumed much of his life were highly beneficial to him personally, and made him far more fit to hold public office.

In fact, he highly recommended foreign travel and stays as a mind-broadening attribute. If it was good enough for him, it's doubtless good enough for any Canadian. Actually, it seems that living and working abroad for most of one's adult life is a great introduction to the possibility of accomplishing a personal vision of attaining to the highest office of the land.
(Seems he is prepared to depart back to the U.S. if Canadians are too befuddled to recognize his prime ministerial potential; aw.)

Getting to know the world doesn't necessarily mean that in the process Canada is forgotten. It only means that current events globally have greater resonance, and if daily life and news events peculiar to Canada are lost in the shuffle, well, that's just the way it is. Does the reverse hold true too, then, that re-acquainting oneself with Canada dilutes knowledge of the international kind?

Tellingly, at one Nova Scotia stop where curious people came out to see the real McCoy, one voter enquired of him whether as prime minister he would be prepared to encourage honesty of politicians. "I just got the non-answer I was expecting", she reported later. So then she wasn't entirely disappointed when Mr. Ignatieff engaged in his metier of circumlocution. Otherwise known as evasion.

"I anticipated that, I just needed to hear it. I'm just looking for an honest politician", the Haligonian said. Aren't we all? Would we recognize one when/if we see/saw him/her?

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Portrait of a Canadian Jihadi

"He's a funny guy, he has this personality." Ball hockey team manager
Yes, amusing and personable, always ready to be there, to have some fun, play some ball hockey and in the process, do good, raising funds for a foundation whose purpose is to assist impoverished people. Those hockey tournaments are team-spirited, good-works propositions. You're part of society, make your place in it, and contribute to it. Dr. Khurram Syed Sher certainly knew the value of being appreciated, liked, respected. He was noted as being one of the more dependable team players "He's one of the most sought-after guys", skilled and top-ranking. And funny, funny as hell.
"Have you ever thought of being a comedian?" Judge, Canadian Idol
So funny in fact that he loved to impersonate that which he was not; a backward immigrant, one who dressed in traditional rural Pakistani costume, yet so well attuned to the cool zeitgeist of the pop music industry that he could belt out popular songs at the same time as he was able to charm viewers with the quality of his moon-walking skill. The ultimate contradiction; some young guy just out of the boondocks of Pakistan, yet fully involved in popular culture. Presenting it all with the smooth professionalism of a born comic.
"I really liked the family and we thought he was a good guy." Dr. Sajid Shukoor, father-in-law
Well, one would hope so. Even though such arranged marriages do not necessarily require that the extended family members actually like the fellow they are handing their marriageable daughter over to; their approval in the face of his education level and professional attainment ensuring he would be gainfully employed and respected would suffice. Yet, having sired three children with their daughter, they have invested much in this good guy. Hard to see it evaporate in the miasmic fog of vile jihad, leaving the little family in quite the lurch.
"When I woke up and came to work this morning, this would have been way down my list of things that might have happened. It was very surreal, actually, to hear. Nobody really saw this coming at all." Paul Collins, president/CEO St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, St.Thomas
Yes, it's tough being a CEO, having to supervise a large professional staff, answerable to the health needs and expectations of a sizeable community. Knowing that the reputation of the hospital hinges on the expert professionalism of the hospital staff. Wincing at the obvious public dismay that someone who was conspiring to create bloody havoc on Parliament Hill and possibly the Montreal Transit System might have been involved in diagnosing one's ills.

A pathologist whose pathological hatred of the West that he lived freely within - taking advantage of its educational system, acquiring the distinction of an specialized M.D., accepting the respect of peers and patients - lays the entire country open to the virology of violent fanaticism unleashed.
"Oh my God, impossible. He's not that type of person. You must be joking. These days, frankly speaking, you cannot even trust your brother or sister. The world is getting nasty." Rafat Syed
Interesting, a bit of candid realism interjected into the public discourse. Interesting that someone quite close to Dr. Sher as an extended family member would react in this manner. Acknowledging the fact that one of his nephews in whom the family itself might have had a misplaced trust as an integral member of Canadian society turned his back on what he had, and raised his face eagerly toward the appeal of violent jihad. Rather than the kind of angry denials seen in other segments of the Muslim community.

What passes for normalcy these days? Why the lives we all live, in harmony with one another, neighbours, community members, acquaintances, working peers, the shopper you see wheeling a superstore grocery cart around the aisles, just as you're doing. Nothing in their appearance might alert to dangerous covert activities whose purpose would be to turn your world upside down in their eagerness to achieve mass slaughter.

Someone born in Canada, for heaven's sake, imbibing, one might believe, the values held dear by most Canadians, including the freedom to be whatever inspires one to aspire to. In Dr. Sher's case, it was to be a medical doctor. To be a husband and a father of three young children, all this accomplished in Canada, to a home-born citizen of the country, at age 28.

Was life so boring for this doctor, with his career, his passionate avocation, his growing young family, his wife's illness to be considered, that he ultimately craved more action, drawing him toward Islamist jihad?

Was the draw toward jihad so irresistible, his hatred for non-Muslims and the world he was most familiar with so completely irreversible that he was prepared to divest himself of the persona and the credentials so familiar to others? Become a stranger to his wife, estranged from his children. What kind of fantasies did this seemingly normal man indulge in?

What messages did he receive from the mosque he attended? As a devout Muslim did he trust the recruiting messages vilifying the West and his country, that he, famished of meaning in his life, devoured on the Internet more than the messages of community and pluralism and the value of citizenship he received from his neighbourhood mosque?

Will he now instruct his lawyer to inform the authorities that this arrest and his 'alleged' links with al-Qaeda represents a huge error on their part? He's a comedian, see. Vitally interested in determining for himself just how vigilant Canadian security is. Now that he knows, he would prefer to make it be known he is innocent of all charges.

He has so instructed his lawyer. Who will now diligently work on behalf of his client to decry the manufactured evidence; in reality a stunt. And the joke's on us.

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Look To Yourselves, Heal Yourselves

Canadian Muslims are purportedly in a renewed state of apprehension that a backlash will assault them from a Canadian public fed up with Islam presenting itself all too frequently as a crucible of hate-filled crusades of murderous intention against the West.

That Canadian Muslims - men born and raised in Canada, find themselves torn between an obviously uneven struggle of patriotism versus loyalty to religious custom - are once again beginning to make the news as discrete cells of jihadis planning attacks against this country does not sit too well with most Canadians.

And where on Earth, in any event, do these indecisive-then-decisive jihadis receive their instruction? Enabling them to present as ordinary Canadians with a splendid talent at appearing just like anyone else in society, while submersing themselves in a stew of plans and purposeful revenge. Whose detection succeeds in averting tragedy.

Not, surely, only with contacts made over the Internet, sites that recruit and spew poisonous messages of victimhood and revenge. But of course, there are other, more immediate and perhaps initially more impressively concerning places that successfully recruit and radicalize those whose resentments and visions of victimization make them prime targets; emissaries from abroad speaking forcefully at area mosques and community centres.

Of course there are other, additional arenas of opportunity. For a still-minority community, young Muslims are disproportionately in the news as perpetrators of criminal activities, ranging from murder to petty crime, robberies and assaults. When they land in prison, they're primed and ready to be Islamicized by other inmates where the cancer of violent jihad has already metastasized.

So, not only has Canada and the larger Western, democratized world got a very serious problem with home-grown jihadists, along with imported ones who enter the country on various types of visas, overstaying their welcome, integrating into the Muslim community, passing on their message of the nobility of mass slaughter in the name of Islam, but the Muslim community itself has a huge problem.

One which they have collectively shunned, refusing to believe that good Muslims would resort to such vile activities in the name of Islam.

Well, good Muslims might not, but the bad ones certainly appear to have few compunctions about turning on their fellow Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The issue appears to confuse the broader Muslim community who insist - in response to any new revelations of those among them who pass for 'normal', while covertly planning atrocities - that the community is being unfairly targeted.

So is it?

From received data, the public response to ongoing news that one group after another of jihadis have had their plans for revenge against the kuffars interrupted, has not resulted in the kind of bigotry against Muslims that the community so bitterly complains of. Instead, the continuing misery of racism and attacks against minorities follow a long tradition of anti-Semitism practised against the country's Jews, and discrimination against blacks.

Hate crimes are directed not against Muslims, despite their clamorous claims to the contrary. Instead, Jews, gays, and blacks remain the more frequent targets of hate crimes. Anti-Muslim crimes are far more rare in occurrence. Which speaks more to the paranoia among Muslims, than it does for the reality of their experience. Which makes it even more needful that the Muslim community begin to do a little more strenuous soul-searching.

It is they, and the religion that they worship, that in infrequent instances that seem far too frequent in occurrence and horrendous in impact when successful attacks occur, that impinge on the safety and security of the larger communities in which they live as equally endowed citizens. That they have somehow managed to breed young men who gravitate toward violence and then mature toward jihad in the name of Islam, is a singular issue they must address.

It is past time that the society which nurtures them as equals with all the opportunities and freedoms open to any other segment of society, no longer rush to assure the Muslim community that there is no ill will against them as a backlash resulting from some new or proposed atrocity against a Western target. It surely is time for the greater Muslim community to take responsibility for itself.

There is little point iterating and reiterating that the greater Muslim community is law-abiding and respectful of others, and that it is a relatively minuscule number of Muslims who subvert the tenets of Islam, and who bring opprobrium to the community. It is high time that the Muslim community take steps to defend themselves against the occurrence of violence emanating from their midst.

And in the process take badly needed steps to mature themselves as citizens dedicated to the values held by all Canadians. Not in defence of their reputations as loyal Canadians, but as a responsible, responsive segment of Canadian society from among whom emanates a viciously deranged mindset that urgently requires remedial attention.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Posturing Versus Posturing

We must remain vigilant. Yes, we most certainly must do so. All the more so that the Arctic is opening up to shipping transit, presumably soon to be year 'round. And Norway, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the U.S. and Canada are all in the competition to be vigilant, claiming sea-transit rights and routes.

We're ferociously protective of what has always been considered 'Canadian' territory, and much of the irritation Canada experiences comes from disagreements with Denmark and the United States, although Russia is right up there with its claims contesting ours.

The region is a shared responsibility, beyond what is normally considered to be national boundaries. And everyone wants a share of the wealth of natural resources in ores and fossil fuels just waiting to be exploited. And some countries can hardly wait to do an end-run around the claims of the others.

And that, folks, calls for vigilance, to ensure that what is Canada's remains Canada's. Tell that to the United States.

The Government of Canada cannot possibly point to our great good neighbour to the south as the villain in the piece, but it can point to Russia which has gone out of its way in the recent past to post "Property of Russia" where no submersible has gone before.

So our prime minister, rugged soul he, visits our Arctic yet again, alongside the country's chief of Defence. Canada is rigging up its military in grand style. Costly expenditures for state-of-the-art military equipment and aircraft with multiple-billions in hardware and maintenance. Well, so, time it was done, right?

But the howls of outrage from the opposition, primed and ready to screech at any and every initiative undertaken by this government pries reason loose from reality. Still, the antics of the federal government in clumsily painting Russia as an imminent threat to Canadian security rings clangingly false.

The Cold War is over, kaput. We have warm relations with Russia, now. Well, warm is getting a little over-enthusiastic, tepid perhaps.

When the prime minister primes the pump of belligerent rhetoric by absurd declarations like "Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces, at no time did the Russian aircraft enter Canadian sovereign airspace", we should feel fairly affronted at the lack of respect of the collective intelligence of the Canadian public.

Routine Russian overflights are a reality. All countries engage in these sorties. Canada versus Russia, there is no contest; both countries have the potential to be useful to each other.

While there is good reason to remain suspicious of Russian mischief-making in other parts of the world, and to look askance at them at the very least; with respect to arming countries like Syria and Iran for example (and by extension proxies Hamas and Hezbollah), it's useful to remember that the U.S. has done the same, arming Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Still, it's encouraging that Prime Minister Harper remains in firm control of his station in life, the trust in which he is held by many Canadians, and his fairly steady and responsible bearings to date. Canadians would do a bewildered double-take and more or less lose their faith in the mental balance of the prime minister were he to entertain us with the exploits that Vladimir Putin has engaged in, in his "strong man" exhibitionism.

Confronting wild beasts fearlessly, riding horse bare-chested in the wild background of remote Russian geographies, grappling with (drugged) grizzlies, coasting the unruly waters off Russia's Pacific coast in a mini-gale for the exhilaration of spearing whales for scientific experimental purposes. Gloating over his physical prowess, shoots of his jiu jitsu credentials.

Our own chief parliamentarian has no need to exploit his thespian and over-testosteroned masculine attributes. He knows better; we'd split our sides guffawing.

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"It's Quite Scary, Actually"

"Once the radicalization process has begun, individuals start to find diverse ways to develop their extremist beliefs in Canada. They do so through a variety of networks, both real and virtual. These individuals appear to be part of Western society. In fact, they appear so Canadian that they are difficult to detect. such individuals then move on to a series of radical activities, ranging from propaganda and recruiting to terrorist training and participation in extremist operations." Classified 2007 CSIS study
It's dreadful when you're young, male and bored. Looking for some excitement. Those without imagination roll drunks, threaten prostitutes, rob mom-and-pop stores, and get their juvenile kicks that way. It's quite possible they will grow and mature and become solid citizens. Possible, but doubtful, since the allure of that kind of excitement usually leads to eventual arrest, incarceration and further indoctrination into the psycho-anti-social club.

That's the run-of-the-mill kind of 'disaffected youth' that plague society with their 'acting out' performances in the process of graduating to the small-fry criminal underclass. Every society has them, deplores them, has to put up with them. They don't, generally, aspire to mass murder. They don't adhere to any religion, and the ideology they cling to is that of the psychosis of anger against society.

We don't lose much sleep over them. They exist as a underbelly of society, always there, rarely noticed, keeping court appearances, being sentenced, in a round of continual offences that ensure they're circulating at one moment, confined the next. They're bloody pests, sucking the blood out of decent, normal communities.

So let's set them aside for the moment. Or forever, until and unless they repent and no longer reject the norms of society. There's bigger, more dangerous fish to fry in them there waters of Canadian society. Al-Qaeda-inspired excitement, luring restless 'youth' who've slavishly bought into an ancient and dreadful version of Islam. And who aspire to become blessed martyrs slavering after 72 virgins.

In the process toward achieving martyrdom, as honoured shaheeds, they vow to extinguish the lives of as many kuffars as inhumanely possible. And if those 'others' are decent, innocent people among whom they have lived, however restively over the course of their lives as Canadians, so be it. Who cares, since they support wrongs done against Islam.

It's called radicalization, the corrupting of a weak mind toward belief in the holy services due to Allah, who is believed to demand of the faithful that they struggle to become better Muslims and to achieve that status they must devote their miserable lives to the practise and performance of mass slaughter.

Some learn to excel at it, and others do their best.

In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ramadan is celebrated by bombing mosques and marketplaces and army posts and police stations and government offices, spewing sinew, blood and muscle lavishly about the environment - mostly the blood and guts of innocent Muslims; those are the jihadists who learn to excel at it.

Those who do their best usually, after training in terror camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia, or Yemen, return home to Europe, to North America, and connive and practise at terror in remote areas where they also store their weapons of choice until called upon for use.

Canada, with its superlative reputation as a haven for refugees, a refuge for immigrants seeking a better life, has its share of easily-led 'youth'. Disaffected with the society that is most familiar to them because, well, just because.

Because it's not fair, because it's not quite on to send troops to pacify a terror-riven country, because of the injustice of the West's investment in Islamophobia. Islamophobia? The reaction of people (including many Muslims) to the gratuitously vicious bloodshed so generously spilled, calling to mind primal barbarism.

So these are not really 'youths', after all, although they may have begun their descent that way, to eventually become respected members of Canadian society as engineers, doctors, technicians, IP specialists. Hard-working, dependable, respectful of others and dedicated to making a life for themselves within the Canadian framework of freedoms and opportunities.

Viscerally harbouring a deep and abiding loathing for the country in which they live, and to which they appear dedicated, as part of the pluralist, multicultural stew of ethnicity, religion, culture, heritage, and ideology.

"It's quite scary, actually."

What's scarier, is that all these investigations, the evidence, the arrests point to 'alleged' crimes against Canada. Alleged? Bloody hell!

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"It's Just a Cat"

Her mother, aghast at the unfairness of all the notoriety her 45-year-old daughter was receiving through dreadfully negative reactions of the public enraged at witless cruelty to animals, explained that this was completely out of character for her daughter, Mary Bale. After all, Mary Bale is not a baleful person, she loves cats. Just ask her mother.

Mary Bale has a responsible job working at a bank. She has grey hair, and is rather stodgy in appearance. Such people do not deliberately set out to portray themselves as gruesome characters, do they?

They tend to keep to themselves, maintain a low profile, behave like any other decent minded member of the public who would never, ever, under any circumstances take it upon themselves to torture a helpless animal, and perhaps in the process, ensure it will die, frightened, alone, starving to death.

After all fifteen hours enclosed in a dark, closely confined area with no escape would send anyone, let alone a defenceless companion-pet into fear for their lives. Ensuring that the trapped creature would cry out piteously for salvation from its prison before it expired.

Lucky thing for little Lola, its owners were attuned to the mewling of a frightened cat, and set about to discover its whereabouts after a 15-hour absence.

Unlucky for Mary Bale that, despite attempting to ensure that no one was about to witness her descent into nasty malice against an inoffensive animal, her actions were picked up by a security video. Which enabled her to be identified. So that her despicable behaviour, seen by the public, has earned her much-deserved contempt.

So "what's all the fuss about" anyway, says Mary Bales. It was a joke. Can't anyone take a joke anymore? Sheesh!

The cat didn't think it was funny, but that's a cat for you. The public has taken huge umbrage over the matter, but that's the public for you, always looking for something to take umbrage over. The police don't think it's such a big deal; it doesn't constitute a criminal act, after all.

Mary Bale admits to being guilty of a "split second of misjudgement". Was she referring to an impulse she perhaps once experienced, to throw herself under the wheels of a transit bus? So what is the fuss all about? Has no one explained to Mary Bale, not even her concerned mother that she behaved quite, quite atrociously?

She has proven rather adequately not to have been consumed by worry over family concerns which caused her to momentarily lose sight of reality, culminating in that vicious act of incarcerating a cat, but rather to be a self-absorbed imbecile, most evident in her querulous statement: "It's just a cat."

She don't get it, do she?

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Green Boycott

Irish Artists Vow to Boycott Israel
by Chana Ya'ar Irish Artists Boycott Israel

A group of more than 150 Irish artists have pledged to boycott Israel as part of a solidarity campaign coordinated with the Palestinian Authority.

The petition recently signed by the artists in Dublin commits the signatories to boycott the Jewish State until “it respects international law,” and reads as follows:

“In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge not to avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), which organized the initiative, claimed the brother of musician Eoin Dillon – one of the signatories to the boycott -- was “kidnapped by Israeli commandos on May 31 this year when he was first mate on board the Challenger 1, which was part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.”

The six-vessel flotilla in question was sent to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, in violation of the country’s sovereign international rights. Each vessel was boarded on May 31 by Israeli Navy commandos after ignoring repeated requests to change course and head to the Ashdod port. The commandos took control of the boats and directed them to the port, where the activists were ordered to disembark and were then each deported to their countries of origin.

On one of the vessels, the Turkish-sponsored Mavi Marmara, the IDF commandos were ambushed by armed terrorists linked to the Turkish IHH organization. In the ensuing clashes, nine IHH fighters were killed and several IDF soldiers were seriously wounded.

Speaking to the Irish Times daily newspaper, composer Raymond Deane, founder of the organization, quoted a 2005 statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry saying culture was considered a propaganda tool. Deane contended that artists who perform in Israel are backing the Jerusalem government “whether they like it or not.”

A number of other musicians offered similar views, expressing their hope the boycott would encourage young Israelis to “speak out.” Irish singer Damien Dempsey claimed that in Israel, the military is running the show, and needs the world to stand up to it.

Not the First Time

This is not the first time that Irish artists have launched a cultural boycott of Israel on the altar of “Palestinian rights.”

In 2007, members of the Irish state-sponsored academy of creative artists, Aosdana, attempted to launch a similar boycott of Israeli cultural events and institutions.

The resolution to “back the call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with Israeli state-sponsored cultural events and institutions, had also been proposed by Deane. The motion, seconded by playwright Margaretta D’Arcy, was defeated by the organization’s general assembly.

However, a follow-up sponsored by D’Arcy and seconded by Deane passed, calling on Irish artists and institutions to “reflect deeply” before working with Israeli cultural institutions.

Writing for The Evening Herald at the time, Irish journalist Ian O’Doherty pointed out in response, “In fairness to Aosdana, the call for a boycott seems to have been led by a hardcore group… The fact that Israel is the least segregated society in the region, and that Israeli Arabs enjoy more freedom than their counterparts in other, Arab-run, countries, is something that tends to be conveniently forgotten.”

IPSC activists were also busy with similar pursuits a year later, during Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, Operation Cast Lead. For days, the group demonstrated at the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Dublin against the “ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza.” Ignored were the thousands of deadly mortar and rocket attacks fired almost daily by Gaza terrorists since 2000 at Jewish communities in southern Israel.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Dublin responded last week to the current boycott effort with a statement, calling the campaign “regrettable and ill-advised.” The embassy noted, “Vilifying and ostracizing Israel and promoting a lose-lose program of boycotts is not the way to secure legitimate Palestinian rights.”

Published by Aretz Sheva, 25 August 2010

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Conflicted and Pointless

The government of Pakistan intrigued since its break away from India, to plague that country and visit upon it as many violent episodes as it could manage. The incendiary tradition of hatred by Pakistan toward India assured that Pakistan would patiently muster the scarce but required funds to continue committing to their criminal intent of bruising India.

To that end, the recruitment of Islamist terror groups, their training and arming was a high priority.

Even while assuring the Western world from which Pakistan procured its aid in huge financial gifts that it harboured no ill will toward India, it groomed and encouraged Islamist militant groups to attack Kashmir, to enter Indian territory and foment violence and dire destruction.

This is a country that, in the intensity of its hatred, proved itself a malign influence in the geography, far more interested in creating havoc than administering its territory for the future of its people. Neglecting the need to make better lives for the people of Pakistan for the greater allure of visiting misery on the people of India.

Now, even while it continues to support the existence and purpose of the Afghan Taliban - which Pakistan itself encouraged, trained and armed in the original form of mujaheddin resisters to Soviet occupation, then converted to fanatic administrators of Afghanistan to enhance the greater territorial interests of Pakistan - it now finds itself in a struggle with its own home-grown Pakistani Taliban.

So now that nature herself has entered the area of conflict and its network of deceits, a monumental disaster has inundated the country, placing an immense proportion of it under floodwaters that have washed away crops, farmland, towns and villages, peoples' homes and hopes, leaving millions of indigent Pakistanis homeless and desperate for sustenance and medical attention.

Now, of all times, Pakistan has decided to act resolutely to counter and to renounce militant Islamist groups it had itself encouraged and used to its considered advantage in attempts to destroy India's stability. Now, while the government and the international community struggle to provide relief for flood-struck refugees, a clamour arises that Islamist charities must be banned.

Charities considered to be affiliated with violent militant groups nurtured by the Pakistan National Army and the Secret Intelligence Service, and which surreptitiously continue to be defended by them, are now to be denounced. While those charitable arms of the Islamist groups are busy filling in where government infrastructure is absent in delivering aid to the desperate, they are being closed down.

"There is no reason for this action. We are providing meals twice a day to the affected persons..." a spokesman for one such group, ordered to shut down a camp complained. At a time of great national duress when countless numbers of displaced refugees are suffering, needful of food and potable water, medical supplies and encouragement, Pakistan has suddenly found its moral compass.

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The Two-State Solution

Once feasible, presenting as a solution to the admitted problem of sharing a geography between two solitudes, people vastly different from one another in ethnic background, social tradition, heritage, essential values and religion. One group which has returned to its ancestral homeland, to join others of its ethnicity and religion whose continuing domicile there kept the embers of original settlement alive. The other, which assembled gradually over time to the geography from contiguous border-countries eyeing the territory as a potential extension of their own.

The original Palestinians of the Middle East were, in fact, Jews whose long-time credentials as residents of the geography were widely recognized, but which over time and the passage of recent memory have become the interlopers, while the nomenclature of Palestinian has been claimed by Arabs who migrated primarily from Jordan and Egypt, into the territory. Under the British Mandate it was eventually recognized that the land could be divided to embrace singly, the Jews and the Arabs.

That volatile institutional pairing in a land of tribal tempers and violent challenges went awry from its inception. And since that time the irreconcilable positions of the new State of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs who fled the area in the belief they would soon enough return triumphant as true owners of the real estate, has little changed. Other than to become more unstable, restive and resentfully violent with the passing years.

The last of many combined Arab assaults on the Jewish State left Israel in legal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Judea and Samaria, for the Jewish interpretation based on biblical precedents and historical reality. But now contested as a potential new national state for Arab Palestinians. On the surface, that is, while covertly the entire area encompassing also that of the State of Israel is coveted to recapture the idea of a final resolution in a majority-Arab Palestine.

On the basis of that reality, rarely recognized by the international community but openly stated by the Palestinian Authority, even while it remains locked in conflict with Gazan Hamas, the stated ideal of sharing the geography with side-by-side sovereign states is a mirage. One that needn't be so, but is by the very nature of the PA's maneuvering, and intentions. In reflection of the original resistence to and denial of Partition.

What real call for ownership does the PA have on Jerusalem as its capital? Other than Jordan's brief flirtation with administering the Old City, denying Jews the opportunity to encroach upon Arab rule, even to approach the most sacred sites of Judaism? The insistence that the Palestinian Arabs who fled, along with their descendants be absorbed into greater Israel, another demand. And borders to return to the 1967 placement.

Not addressed is the unilateral pull-out of Israeli troops from Gaza and the forced evacuation of eight thousand Israeli settlers who flourished there, making a home for themselves and their children, harnessing opportunity to turn the desert into gardens and fertile fields. When they left, struggling to resist evacuation orders, it took 55,000 IDF personnel strenuously engaged in the trauma of removal to succeed.

Behind they left a good-will thrust of Jewish philanthropy, operating greenhouses capable of producing all the fruits and vegetables needed for a thriving Arab community, with the potential of providing for a highly successful agri-business venture for export. And all of it, funded by Jews, as a gift to the Gazans, was systematically destroyed, looted, and left useless.

In the West Bank, school curricula urgently teaches children from elementary to high school that they must mourn the Nakba, the tragedy that befell Palestinian Arabs with the birth of the State of Israel, that the land belongs to the Palestinians, and that it will be returned by force, and that the Jews remain enemies to be feared, hated and ultimately destroyed.

Is this human material for contiguous borders with two sovereign states living side by side in peace? With rocket attacks continuing to be lobbed by Gazan terrorists into Israel? And the international community exclaiming its dismay when Israel responds in its own defence? Is Israel to hold its collective breath with expectation that the attacks against it will cease once a new Palestinian state is declared?

What, exactly, will change in the mind-set of the Palestinians? Either the violence-fomenting moderate Fatah or the imminent-destruction-promising Hamas. Both armed by Western sources in the belief that an independent Palestinian State will result in a pacified, resigned and civilized intent to accept the reality of the legal presence of the State of Israel.

But which arms added to the arsenal smuggled in continually to augment reserves already in use and preparing for future use, gives Israel much pause to ponder its existential future. Fatah and Hamas on one border, Hezbollah/Syria/Iran on the other. And the balance of the Middle East States looking on impassively.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Armed, and Dangerous

The danger existing not in the fact that he was armed with an M-16 assault rifle, necessarily, but that he was armed with dementia. His reasonable sensibilities, supposing he was, at one time in the not-too-distant past, submerged under his intoxicated state of delusional dementia. Dressed in combat pants, he meant business. His business being to influence the authorities that he was still the man he once was, a highly respected and decorated Philippine police officer.

A high-ranking superintendent, in fact, of the Manila police force. His brother, also a police officer, but yet in possession of rationality, did his best to talk this man out of his dilemma he had imposed upon himself and a busload of unfortunates. Imposing his personal grievance on a tourism busload of people from Hong Kong, terrifying them for over ten hours, while they awaited rescue.

He obviously felt it was reasonable to assume that by causing this kind of furor, drawing attention to his misery over having lost his job, it would be reinstated. And he saluted as a man of heroic principles.

His resolute determination to hold dozens of helpless tourists as a living shield until the authorities would agree that he was indeed deserving of continuing to hold the public trust, spurring him to demonstrate just how valuable a member of the police force he was. The Hong Kong Travel Industry Council will, understandably, feel it is the best interests of their nationals to caution them henceforth to avoid the Philippines.

The big question looming large here is why the authorities were so fecklessly unimaginative as to encircle the bus, threatening the safety of the passengers, and instilling a further sense of being ill done by in this man, instead of promising him whatever he wanted. By speaking calmly and confidently to the man, in his delusional state he might well have been convinced that he was still held in high regard, and his latest stunt was admirable, for which he would be rewarded by his job reinstated and why not a raise in salary as well?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Instead, hoping that the man, Rolando Mendoza, would relent, have compassion on his living shields, and permit them to leave the bus, to safety. Or so they said, since he had at one point permitted seven of the tourists, including children and two Filipinos to leave at various times. The driver of the bus, quite unlike the captain of a ship, abandoned his post, seeking his personal safety before the police decided to storm the vehicle.

In the final analysis, it will likely be determined that the strategy employed by the police tactical squad left much to be desired. We've seen this happen before, even in Canada, when a demented passenger of a Greyhound bus travelling from Alberta to Manitoba slit the throat of a young man, Tim McLean. And while horrified bus passengers watched from the outside of the bus then encircled by police who did nothing for hours to stop Vince Weiguang Li from cannibalizing his victim.

The former Phillippine police officer, Rolando Mendoza, who was accused of extortion and drug-related crimes, was formerly considered one of the country's top-performing police officers. His performance on this occasion was quite outstanding, resulting in the deaths of eight tourists, while an additional seven were hospitalized with injuries.

No kudos to the authorities.

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Mankind's Supremacy Over Nature

China represents a culture whose traditional aesthetic was one of refined delicacy. Traditional poetry, painting, embroidery, stone carving, delicate porcelains and colourful lacquer ware, jade ornaments and jewellery and stone-carved statuary, along with pithy sayings and a tradition of story-telling all representative of fine artistic sensibilities and artisanal capabilities.

The country also built one of the most singular structures other than a geological feature, capable of being seen in outer space, the Great Wall of China. From the delicate refined to the brutalist practical in challenging the primacy of nature, the country turned to taming the third-longest river in the world, the great Yangtze. The world's most gargantuan interference with nature's sublime designs, a particular hubris resulting in the Three Gorges Dam.

Built, most unfortunately, over six active fault lines in the Earth's crust. Representing a stupendous engineering feat, one that multinational engineering companies from Germany and the Scandinavian countries were eager to become involved with, and so was Canada, with its eager bank of consulting engineers. Canada, through CIDA and the Export Development Bank lent a hand by funding a feasibility study.

The official price tag of the enterprise is said to have been $25-billion, but there are rumours that this immense hydroelectric power project ended up costing up to three times that amount. The clever idea that the Yangtze could be harnessed for its hydroelectric potential, and the resulting dam would assist in opening up the interior of the country with greater shipping access to result in economic opportunities never did quite materialize.

But the Chinese government was so besotted with the idea that in building the dam it would enlarge its economic future, it set about expropriating ancestral land from millions of peasants and indigent subsistence farmers, creating a huge demographic of homeless, landless people with the promised compensation never quite materializing. Towns and villages, arable land and ancient archaelogical sites were all inundated in China's surge toward its future.

Mao Zedong never lived to see the Three Gorges dam finished and in service. It was his pet project. The ill people do live long after they have departed. In 2003 Chinese officials claimed that the dam could withstand the worst flood in 10,000 years, were it to occur. And then estimates began to reduce, to 1,000 years until in 2008 it was dropped to a mere 100-year flood.

This year of 2010, the flooding being experienced is severe and engineering experts are concerned.
Cracks in the dam first seen in 1999 are many and growing, some extending from top to bottom of the immense concrete infrastructure. Some hands-width wide, some two metres deep into the dam.

New towns meant to replace the original settlements were constructed on slopes of mountains and geologically unstable areas. Mudslides have already been experienced. Catastrophic landslides could occur causing the riverbank to collapse. Add to that potentially lethal combination that the 24-billion tonnes of untreated human and industrial waste dumped into the Yangtze annually.

China is infamous for the contamination of its rivers with industrial, radioactive and bio-hazardous materials casually let into the waterways wherever industrial plants exist...let alone just plain municipal garbage. It was initially planned that greater seafaring opportunities to accommodate deep-hulled ocean-going vessels would increase trade opportunities, leading to economic development in the landlocked interior. Instead, continual silting has committed the country to expensive and ongoing dredging operations.

Millions of people were displaced by the dam, never compensated, left to fend for themselves, stripped of their worldly possessions. They were given the thrill of their lifetimes, watching as the waters inundated their fields and towns, washing away their homes and whatever possessions they could not carry with them. Fears are that as the dam is overwhelmed by more floodwaters than it can contain, it will collapse.

Fears also that the incredible weight of the overwhelmed dam could precipitate an earthquake with devastating results. Not that China is a stranger to earthquakes. The cost to the people who once lived where the Three Gorges now exists is the world's largest dam, with its spectacular show when the ducts are open, and tourists flocking to see for themselves this modern world wonder of immense-scale engineering.

But the longevity of the dam is an unknown, as is the destabilizing effect of its location (over active fault lines in the Earth's crust), and purpose.

Its promised results have never quite been realized; it hasn't replaced by its output in hydro energy all the coal-fired plants that China planned to decomission. The tonnes of trash that float into the Yangtze river are difficult to contain and they present as a danger of jamming the dam's locks. The incessant need to collect the garbage presents yet another problem yet to be solved.

And while the Three Gorges dam was planned also for the purpose of halting deadly floods in the Yangtze valley, its flood control capacity is far less than anticipated. And Three Gorges power is turning out to be far more expensive than that achieved through high-efficiency gas turbines and co-generation. The clean, inexpensive energy that was originally contemplated with the building of this immense project simply does not appear to be possible.

And in recognition of the seeming failure of the plans that the Three Gorges dam would bring the country quickly into prosperity, government is no longer boasting.

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