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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Normal, Well-Adjusted ... With Pet Peeves

Norway has an enviable reputation. As a conciliator. As a country devoted to peace and goodwill. As a country dedicated to expressing its belief in equality among peoples. And as one of the wealthiest per capita countries in Europe. Of its population of five million, some 800 of its citizens are Jewish. And Norway has a subterranean, well-entrenched institutionalized system of anti-Semitism.

A survey done in Norway brought the information that 51% of all students interpret "Jew" as a pejorative; 41% had overheard or used ethnic jokes about Jews, 35% insulting comments, while 5% had been present in a classroom when the Holocaust had been denied. After Jews, the most bullied group was Buddhist at 10%, Muslims just over 5%.

The country has just suffered a dreadful calamity. A completely sane, socially alienated Norwegian has seen fit to demonstrate his anger and disgust with the ruling Labour Party in inviting and absorbing a large Muslim immigrant demographic which he abhorred, and feared would change the cultural traditions of his country.

In his rage he carefully planned out an explanatory ideology and itinerary to be published to explain his position and the extreme actions he carefully planned to the last detail, as he proceeded to act as "a judge, jury and executioner". The atrocity that he served upon his country, in attacking government offices in Oslo, then murdering 68 young political campers on an isolated recreational island has convinced Norwegians that he is a madman.

Which he is not, given his completely rational explanation for his decision-making. He is somewhat like the evil in the banal that Hannah Arendt recognized. A perfectly ordinary individual, socially adapted, with a circle of friends - no loner he - who had adopted an extreme political position.

His feelings about immigrants and Muslims in particular are echoed by many. None of whom would be moved to act as he did.

Look out for the ordinary unassuming, held in thrall by a theory, to go amok. But not without an unhealthy dose of inbred psychopathic psychosis for final leavening.

After the shock of the slaughter had settled in, Norway's Ambassador to Israel had his own declaration of understanding. Equating the Utoeva massacre with inexplicably lunatic hatred, impossible to make sense of other than as a terrorist act of a madman. No one in their right mind could commit such an unspeakable act.

Whereas it is completely explicable why Palestinians would seek to destroy Israelis, however regrettable that decision. For Palestinians have been driven to that act by the desperation they feel over the inhumane occupation of their land. Ambassador Svein Sevie contends the moral incompatibility of each event is evident. Though the end result is similar, the cause is different.

The hatred of Anders Breivik toward his country's ruling Labour Party political system that welcomes immigrants to pervert Norwegian heritage and custom is unforgivably evil. The revenge motivation of the Palestinians toward Israel, on the other hand, is understandable, and therefore forgivable. Which explains why Norway sees it as feasible and necessary to engage with Hamas.

"We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel. Those who believe this will not change their mind because of the attack in Oslo."
Got that?

Labels: , , ,

Throwing A Public Party

What if they threw a garish, disturbingly loud - blatantly obscene in its too-obvious and -objectionable focus on squalid sex complete with bared bodies and more-than-suggestive gyrations - party and no one showed up because it offended general sensibilities? Well, people did show up, those very people for whom such public displays are appealing, amusing, exciting. The others, those Victorian-minded, sex-shy others, simply stayed away. To each their own.

Except that public figures are expected to turn out. As a sign of respect and acceptance for the juvenile antics of the gay/transgendered community. Of course it could be ventured that the gay/transgendered community are offering offense to the heterosexual community by their public displays of over-the-top sexuality. Offense in the sense of disrespect for those who prefer their private lives be kept private, and who see no need for the private lives of others to be publicly revealed.

And if public figures feel squeamish and up-tight about appearing at such venues as Gay Pride parades, and having to behave as though they find the outlandish and absurdly childish prancing about in fanciful costumes enjoyable, they're being forced to be hypocrites. On the other hand, if they politely decline attendance and send their best regards instead, they're accused of being homophobic.

One could be supportive of gay rights, be sympathetic toward the right to equality in all aspects of civil life for gays, but not wish to publicly subscribe to the manifestations of raffish gayness, preferring to be supportive at a remove, so to speak. Which would qualify one in these circumstances, despite one's goodwill, to be regarded with suspicion; another homophobic.

Choice is not freely given. Which is something that Professor Shinder Purewal, a former citizenship judge, professor of political science at Kwantien Polytechnic University has discovered. He's been labelled by Vancouver's Gay Pride Parade supporters as homophobic and insensitive because he finds the public display of overt sexuality distasteful and a public affront.

Flagrant displays of sexuality, as far as Professor Purewal is concerned, have no place in public. Heterosexuals, were they to cavort as shamelessly as do gays, would be taken as corrupted perverts. Evidently Professor Purewal made a public declaration to the effect that this type of blatant displays of sexual union should be forbidden.

That sentiment appears to have completely negated his public support of same-sex marriage as far as the gay community is concerned.
"Sexuality is what you do within the four walls of your home and that's your business. Openly in streets, we don't normally do that. Heterosexuals, we don't display that. If someone says we're making a parade by the gay community, it already sends the message that this is put on by people with different sexual orientations."
Right on, Prof.!

Labels: , ,

Canada's Deportation of War Criminals

After the Second World War it was not all that unusual for Canadian Jews, psychologically bruised, battered, horrified and traumatized by what was known about the fate of European Jewry throughout Europe, to become aware that German fascists were walking the streets of Toronto.

They knew this because "greenies", Jewish refugees who were permitted to come to Canada post-conflict, where they were denied entry pre-conflict lest they blemish Canadian society, were able to identify prison guards who had once kept them behind barbed wire in the camps, sharing aspirations toward Canadian citizenship with them.

I recall hearing my parents speaking in hushed, frightened voices with their friends, about these sightings. Describing the reputations of these guards. Wondering how it was remotely possible that the very same brutish German, Polish and Ukrainian guards who wore their Third Reich uniforms so proudly as they guarded the festering 'sub-humans' that barely subsisted in the squalid, life-defying, life-denying concentration camps, were enabled to migrate to Canada.

There, to find a new life, just like the Jewish refugees.

And it was certainly puzzling to me over the years to know that these former Nazis, now graduated to Canadian citizenship, living quiet, unassuming lives in Canada, never doing anything to draw attention to themselves and to their former lives in Europe, were never held to account. They were protected within their own ethnic communities. They were in Canada to assume new identities, to take up an alternate life-style, far removed from the war years.

But they had a criminal past, and were never called to account for it.

In that sense, Canada was no different than the United States, or Brazil or any other country that sometimes knowingly took in former Nazis and their collaborators. Werner von Braun was extremely useful in helping to develop American rocketry science. When, on occasion, and many years later, Canada was under pressure to act, and sought to identify and prosecute identified war criminals, it seemed to occur with less than complete conviction - and convictions were rare.

Now, under the current Conservative-led government of Stephen Harper, the Canadian government appears to have awakened from its moral slumber. True, there were instances when Rwandan war criminals were apprehended and a few tried right here in Canada. And now the initiative to publicize, identify and search out individuals alleged to have committed war crimes, living illegally in Canada, and to deport them, has taken the country to a new turn of global, ethical responsibility.

Immigrant or refugee applicants who do not divulge background details on their activities that could be construed as criminal, and who enter Canada under false pretenses and gain citizenship, can have that citizenship revoked as a result of giving false, inadequate, inaccurate information that would have disqualified them from entry into Canada.

Identifying war criminals from Darfur, Rwanda, Congo, Bosnia, or anywhere else in the world that has seen strife reveals a new tack. One that 'human rights' lawyers will find objectionable, ironically enough.

Their concern for the human rights of those who have obscenely destroyed the human rights of their victims is not the least bit appealing; more than a trifle misdirected.

Labels: , ,

Whose Revolution?

"We agreed with the Brotherhood and the Salafis over the past week to come to Tahrir Square today, unite, and pressure the government to work on reform. They lied to us and came down to promote themselves and show off their power. The Salafis attacked us because we were calling for the demands of the revolution." Youssef Adel, of the liberal Youth for Justice and Freedom
Who can they trust, then, the youth of Egypt who claim they want to achieve a secular-type liberal-based democracy that will offer them freedom and opportunities not available to them under the old Egypt represented by the president whom they opposed and successfully deposed? And whom they still insist must be brought to 'justice', along with his sons and all those who served him faithfully as president of the country.

Theirs was the initial world-arresting effort that brought the country to the condition it now stands in. The youth of Egypt, those who were unaffiliated with a deep religious conviction, and who yearned for the types of freedoms that were so available elsewhere in the non-Muslim world, felt their idealism could move continents. The Middle East would become like Europe, like America; secular, democratic, lawful, wealthy.

President Hosni Mubarak who had ruled his country like a potentate of old, yet with concern and wisdom, struggling on one hand to contain the Islamists, the Salafists among the population - determined to restrain them and to ensure his country might prosper with considerable monetary aid from the United States, and peace with his militarily powerful neighbour Israel - kept their aspirations capped.

For this he must pay, there would be no acceptable excuses, no circumstances cited in his defence. Unwittingly, the students, the young people who began a revolution they could not control, did the work of the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, who sat back, unblinkingly, and watched ... and waited. Their turn would come. Tahrir Square belonged to them. Egypt would be theirs.

"The Islamist movements ignored the agreement between all political and community currents to unite against the attempts of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to divide us and tarnish the reputation of the revolutionaries", claimed 34 political parties and youth movements, including the principal groups who had led to the toppling of the government of Hosni Mubarak, as they voiced their protest against the Islamist capturing of their mission.

Their dreams have been shattered. They were willing dupes, and now they are hapless victims. Again. The liberties they foresaw as their modern birthright and their future destiny, evaporated. Because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, no longer led and directed by a man with a vision and a love of his country, has turned inward to embrace Islamism, power and the Muslim Brotherhood.

An entirely, unfortunate but predictable outcome. Inevitable, as the ruling military's and the protesters' ideologies clashed, values colliding irreconcilably. The military now portray the protest activists as troublemakers, agents of foreign governments, doing the work of the United States, of Israel, once again mortally suspect, alien, forbidding and dangerous. Peace agreement? It can be abrogated.

The Muslim Brotherhood simply makes a better fit for the military, with its large support base and its organizational and public relations skills reaching out to the larger world to portray themselves as religiously-politically neutral, not extreme nor threatening within or outside Egypt. Major General Mohammed al-Assar of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces praises the Brotherhood for its constructive role in post-Mubarak Egypt.

And Egypt's ex-president will now face a murder trial shortly, in Cairo. Along with his two sons Alaa and Gamal. This demand of the activists who will not be appeased in any other way than to have their revenge on Hosni Mubarak, because they must have at least that satisfaction, will be met. Six police commanders, a businessman and the former interior minister also scheduled to be thrown to the wolves of rage.

Accomplishing precisely ... what ... ?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Excessive Humbug

More nonsense; inexcusably lavish public spending to genuflect toward political correctness, in a process that over-serves one demographic while victimizing another, much larger group of tax-paying citizens within Canada.

Recently, a Yukon court judge has taken it upon himself to sanctify the need of a handful of francophone students by ordering that $15-million be spent to build a special school for them, while ignoring the needs of a far larger group of under-served aboriginal students. A small group of francophone high school students will now enjoy an arts studio, separate classes for each grade, space for a student radio station.

That the Yukon Supreme Court Justice, Vital Ouellette, seems to have had a personal-professional background of favouring outcomes on behalf of francophones, even before his current appointment seems not to make much of a difference. Despite that it appears more than obvious that Justice Ouellette has an agenda that is positive toward francophone entitlements beyond reasonableness.

All done in the interests of 'protecting minority-language rights', as enshrined by Canadian law, and as interpreted handsomely in favour of francophone communities. The result being that 41 French high school students will now be favoured with a new school where the pupil-to-teacher ration will be 10 to 1, and the students will have the stimulation of entitlements denied others.

This ruling has the effect of creating an unsupportably unfair inequity between other students in the territory who comprise 30% of the territory's student population, whose schooling needs are already miserably underfunded, while a handful of francophone students receive a gold-plated education.
"If another high school has to be built in the Yukon Territory, I'm, not sure it should be in the City of Whitehorse for the francophone population that already has a high school, a very good one." Maxime Faille, lawyer representing the Yukon government
The Yukon government plans to appeal the case to the Yukon Court of Appeal. And so it should.

Labels: , , ,

Mandatory Bilingualism

It isn't just the Province of Quebec that glorifies the ascendancy of the French language. Thanks to Canada's official bilingualism policy enshrined in law, French-language proficiency is considered a must elsewhere throughout the country as well. To the point of absolute absurdity.

Hard to believe in a majority-English-speaking world, where just about anywhere English speakers can be found and it is generally agreed that English has become the universal language of the Globe, that there are unilingual francophones needing to be served in their language in majority-English Canada.

Go anywhere in the Province of Quebec and even on public thoroughfares in a province that welcomes big-spending visitors from abroad, from the U.S. and elsewhere in Canada, there will be no signage translation for the edification of puzzled tourists. Only in Quebec is the polite and considerate acquiescence to demonstrating welcome ignored through signage meant to make people feel comfortable.

No concessions to the primacy of French.

And for Anglophones living in Quebec it's far more complex, since business and shop owners are not permitted by dint of the province's Draconian language laws to have English-only signs, much less signage where English appears larger than French. Quebec Anglos cannot be guaranteed to be serviced in the language of their choice in government offices, in hospitals, at the workplace.

French is the sole language of communication through idiotic lawful decree.

And now, the federal government's Official Languages Commissioner, Graham Fraser, has initiated a hunt for inadequate bilingualism offering in the National Capital. He plans to have specially hired "secret shoppers" launch out into the area as innocent unilingual tourists asking to be served in their mother tongue.

Public institutions will be visited repeatedly to ensure that there are no employees incapable of responding smoothly in French as required. Exemplifying the kinds of political and politically-correct pressures that ensure that English-speaking-only job applicants really need not apply anywhere in the National Capital Region.

And private businesses, particularly those located in what is considered to be prime tourist destinations will also be visited repeatedly by these undercover, covertly-operating 'secret shoppers' to determine whether bilingual services are available. Canada, on the face of it, being treated like a police state.

Stupid, unnecessary, embarrassing and socially immature.

Labels: , ,

Delusional Illusions

The Arab, Islamic countries of the Middle East - virtually the entire Middle East of course - is hieratically, culturally rife with actively baleful aggrievement, through a prolonged and still-active history and heritage of clan and tribal warfare, blame, hatred and strife. The deeply-rooted exclusivity of one clan or tribe to another, the investment in an almost instinctive suspicion and base hatred one against the other, may be puzzling to the Western mind, but is well understood in the culture from which it emanates.

The visceral reaction of one tribal member to another's perceived insult, the generations-long memory of insults, assaults and unforgiveable transgressions remain active, at a low level, to be brought into full force of re-activated revenge-seeking at the earliest, most appropriate opportunity.
"The general was a tower, they got what they wanted from him and then took him out. He knew he'd die but he thought it would be on the front, not this way, in Benghazi and killed by his own people. Today we'll bury him, and then we'll take our revenge."
Unfortunate, and puzzling to the Western mind. Not so much to the Byzantine mindset of a people whose heritage as nomadic tribes invested in a religion devised to suit the needs of such people mired in historical grievances brought to the fore and acted upon. General Abdel Fattah Younes made his mid-stream choice on the horse of opportunity when he left his loyalty to Moammar Gadhafi and galloped into the future with the Libyan rebels.

His decision to join the National Transitional Council in Benghazi gave it gravitas and the respect of the West, whom they desperately needed, through NATO involvement, to give them a head start on their military campaign against the Gadhafi regime. His defection to the rebels, his rejection of his orders to crush the uprising also sealed his fate. He would be useful and used, until no longer useful and would then be dispensed with.

This is a line of reasoning that finds acceptance in a Bedouin community, and even more so, in Koranic scriptures of what is permissible to achieve the greater good in the name of Islam; deception when required to achieve the goal of success. Success is still elusive, the Gadhafi regime, despite the NATO pounding from the air, is still actively resisting the resistance, but it is tired, worn out, almost as much as the resistance.

A terse statement from Mustafa Abdel Jalil, confirming the death of the general, does not describe how his killers were able to breach the heavy protection around him, nor how he was murdered, or where they disposed of his body and those of his two aides. But not one single member of the rebel government saw fit to appear at his funeral which took place in a cemetery on the edge of Benghazi, the rebel stronghold.

General Younes had been called to appear before a judicial committee investigating military issues, it would appear. Of course this would have nothing whatever to do with the fact that General Younes that disputed the leadership of the rebel forces. The world abounds with mysterious occurrences. Some of them readily open to easy interpretation, some not.

Whoever naively believes that once Libya is free from Gadhafi's rule, it will become a law-abiding, liberty-guaranteeing, human-rights-respecting member of the international community may be delightfully delusional.

Labels: , , , ,

Clockwork Orange Reimagined

Teens seem somehow to have been afflicted with an attitude that they can do whatever they feel inspired to, that rules, regulations, laws are to be flouted and that's all right because they're expressing themselves. And because they've been taught over their formative years that the world revolves about them and their interests they're convinced that anything they conspire to do among them will be overlooked.

And so far, for the most part, they're perfectly correct. There is little social condemnation of young people who decide to act out in a manner that is clearly destructive as society attributes these lapses in conduct to youthful restlessness, and adults reminisce about their own youthful days when their own gang of teens went about confounding the adults that cluck-clucked about their refusals to submit to authority and pay tribute to social expectations.

It's recently come to light that a house party in Alta Vista somehow attracted the attention of no fewer than 150 teens who converged on the house, somehow failing to understand that a group of that number would have some difficulties fitting into anyone's home. They made a good deal of noise resulting in neighbours complaining, since no doubt the bulk of the teens were on the outside, celebrating their youthful freedoms to disport themselves as they felt inclined to.

When the police arrived in response to the complaints, the crowd evidently dispersed. An estimated 60 of the original number gathered at Alta Vista Drive and Bank Street, in front of an Independent Grocer supermarket. Doubtless, the bored kids, aspiring nihilists among them, goaded one another into a collective act of public disobedience. To act out dispassionately in a violent manner in full view of onlookers.

Twenty of the assembled teens appear to have taken up the challenge and entered the store which was full of the usual grocery shoppers; mothers with young children, the elderly, just people going about their normal, everyday business of living. In an obvious sign of contempt for the orderly, for respect we all have engrained in us for private and public property, the teens went about knocking items off the shelves that contained them.

Jars of foodstuffs broke, sending their contents everywhere, on the shelves, over the floors, leaving sticky, gooey messes wherever the marauding teens disported themselves in full view of incredulous shoppers, as well as store employees. When the teens had accomplished what they set out to do in defiance of social convention and civility, they simply removed themselves; no great rush to depart, simply a casual departure.

The message clear enough: if you have any argument with what we've done to the order of your day, to the orderly assemblage of food items on neat shelves, to your conception of teens representing immature adults, stop us. No one did. They left, to reassemble with the larger group outside a convenience store, no doubt to relate what they'd done, what the expressions of the bystanders looked like, to the immobility of those who watched, disbelievingly.

And another group later did some damage to a bus at a transit station. Satisfying their impulse to strike out at society, for whatever non-reason. Teens, aimless, valueless, bored, ignorant. Demonstrating their casual contempt, their distaste and their dismissal of societal norms and expectations. These actions don't quite fit into the category of juvenile pranks by restless youth relieving the tedium of a summer evening.

They do express the shiftless, utterly egotistical mindsets of those lacking initiative, respect, imagination, enterprise, and self-restraint. So what are we doing wrong? Deferring to youth, offering them the kind of respect that must be earned. Forgiving unforgivable lapses in social and civil manners.

Raising destructively volatile juvenile delinquents.

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 29, 2011

PA Independent State

The World Bank and the European Union congratulated the Palestinian Authority and proclaimed it ready, on the basis of its burgeoning economic success, to achieve independent status as a new country. The Palestinian Authority has demonstrated a new and growing ability to govern and to make full use of the critical instruments of civil government, from the provision of services to its population to administering its executive properties.

In the process of lauding the PA, the World Bank and the EU appear to have overlooked the reality that without the financial and administrative props of the EU, the United Nations and the international community at large, let alone Israel, the West Bank with its four million population and its admirable GDP would collapse. Its vaunted independence is a hollow aspiration as it stands at the present time.

The Palestinian Authority may feel it is fully prepared to declare statehood, but it is heavily reliant, and indeed dependent on foreign aid to maintain the integrity of its financial stability. The irony here is that Mahmoud Abbas and his administration refuse to sit at the bargaining table with Israel to work out a final and lasting agreement for peace, yet without Israel's ongoing goodwill, enabling tax collection and trade, success will remain elusive.

Without negotiating seriously with Israel for firm, acceptable borders what kind of state can be declared? The PA bureaucracy may now be capable of functioning, and of administering the affairs of state, but it will remain a hollow, incomplete instrument incapable of fully representing itself independently without recognizing fully Israel's role in its statehood success, an issue that the PA continues to evade and avoid.

The Palestinian economy is highly dependent on its massive trade with Israel. Where elsewhere will it send its exports should Israel decide not to absorb them? Israel employs, at a far better pay scale than what is paid in the West Bank, those Palestinians fortunate enough to find jobs in Israel. And those Palestinians who work in and for Israeli West Bank settlements, whom Abbas intends to force away from such employment, where will they find comparable wages?

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics itself declares that Palestinians working for Israeli employees earn two to three times what is paid to their PA-West Bank-employed counterparts. This too forms part of the successful PA economy, much to the chagrin and annoyance of Mahmoud Abbas. A far greater number of Palestinians were employed by Israelis before the staging of the Intifadas and the suicide bombings in Israel.

They were replaced because of the ongoing security threats, by migrants from Asia and Eastern Europe, more than willing to work in Israel. What occurred when Israel unilaterally vacated Gaza is a case in point, where trade collapsed and employment by Gazan Palestinians with Israelis was cut off once Hamas took power there, resulting in 50% unemployment.

Additionally, a highly-economic-dependent PA in the West Bank would see itself without financial support from the United States should it proceed as it is determined to do, to face the United Nations with its demand for statehood recognition without first establishing an agreement with Israel.

Belligerently autocratic, essentially impractical. What measure of success can be anticipated to arise from irrational demands and a refusal to recognize Israel and its offers to negotiate? To do so, obviously, would mean that the PA would be forced to admit that it will never acquire that which is mourns as a loss, by unseating the Jewish State from its Islamic geography.

Labels: , ,

Canada's Al-Shabab Threat

Canada has distinguished itself and continues to do so, by accepting more than its share of the world's miserable refugees seeking haven, along with immigrants migrating to these shores from all manner of troubled countries of the world. Within Canada, those who have suffered, who have been forced by circumstances beyond their control - intra- and inter-country warfare, internal political, religious and ideological human-rights violations, poverty - to migrate elsewhere, find new opportunities to advance to a decent future for themselves and their offspring.

There are some ethnic and religious groups who experience a more difficult time integrating into mainstream Canadian society than others. People from cultures and religions not readily assimilable and for whom the transition from the familiar to a new beginning represents a difficulty they cannot surmount. For them, the hope is, as it has been in the past, that the newer generation will find its place within the new society and become comfortable with it, representing themselves as positive social elements.

Civil strife and famine in Somalia has been ongoing for decades. Somalians fled their country by the tens of thousands, and Canada now hosts roughly 200,000 Somali-Canadians. The United States has a similar immigrant demographic. Somalia has proven itself to represent a new militant-Islamist front and recruitment of North-American-born youth of Somalian extraction for membership in extremist religio-militant groups has become a problem.

A U.S. Congressional committee holding hearings on recruitment to jihad of home-grown potential terrorists has heard from a Somali-Canadian, Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, that Somali-Canadian youth are extremely susceptible to the enticement of jihad. The Committee on Homeland Security hearings, studying radicalization within the U.S. Muslim community heard from Mr. Hussen that Canada also has a problem.

Somali youth born in Canada and the United States have travelled to Somalia to join Al-Shabab where they receive extreme militant training and commit to fighting the interim government in Somalia. The fear exists that, intimately knowledge of North America and its institutions and its cities may propel these jihadi youth back to the cities of their birth, to deploy themselves as suicide bombers on a destructive mission here.

Ahmed Hussen described the exploitation of dissatisfied Canadian Somali youth by recruiters through mosques and Muslim social agencies that have been infiltrated by a jihadi element. "A minority of them become alienated and fall victim to a narrative that turns them against Canada and the United States, the very countries that have sustained them and also gave refuge to their parents as they fled the brutal civil war in Somalia", he wrote.

"This dangerous and constant anti-Western narrative is fed to them by radicals in our community who do not hesitate to use these vulnerable youth as gun fodder in their desire to establish a base for the al-Qaeda terrorist group in Somalia." Previously, Somali-Canadian groups and their leaders have been critical of the government of Canada for not pursuing an agenda that would successfully turn their youth away from jihad.

But if the Canadian government turned its security agencies toward restraining presumed recruiters and their assumed victims in a vigilant attempt to apprehend the growing tide of recruits to terror, they would need to establish lawful means to do so. And were the government to crack down they would be accused of human-rights abuses against Somali-Canadians, by the very Somali-Canadians who have placed these demands on the government of Canada.

Until and unless recruiters and their recruits are apprehended, not on suspicion, but with evidence that they plan and mean to conduct terrorist activities, it should be the focus of the Somali-Canadian community and their various organizations and their mosques to teach their young, to turn them away from violent jihad. This is where the initial and most important initiative lies. An intimate and forceful community initiative to inspire their youth with values commensurate with those of the West must be undertaken.

And the question is, why is the Somali-Canadian community, which purports to be so concerned about their youth turning against the country that succours it, not invested in turning that particular tide? Canada has outlawed Al-Shabab, because of official concerns regarding the recruitment of Somali-Canadian youth. With adequate proof of intent, some jihadi-aspirants have been arrested.

Mr. Hussen's claim that government is required to support community leaders who encourage integration and commitment to the rule of law assumes that this is not already the case. Canada's commitment to official multiculturalism does attend to some of that recommendation. The Somali-Canadian community is not prepared to drop its cultural-religious underpinnings, after all, to opt for complete integration.

But it should be prepared to take full responsibility for what it teaches its young, the values with which it infuses their youth, including the necessity of achieving a good, in-depth Canadian education to enable them to find useful and meaningful employment and to appreciate the opportunities for advancement within Canada. Finding fulfillment in that direction, not in religious extremism.

This is what Somali-Canadian groups are in fact, as citizens of Canada, obligated morally to accomplish on behalf of their own, and in compliance with Canadian expectations of new citizens.

Labels: , ,

The Ottawa Police Service

The world is full of them; sociopathic personalities, the ones that become brutishly bullying, those who believe that they should be treated respectfully, and to achieve that respect they sometimes gravitate to positions within society whose occupations engender respect. Tinged with fear. The fear of law-abiding citizens when confronted by agents of societal security; the respect that arises when confronted by someone expressing the authority of a uniform.

Most people, of course, don't fear police, not in Western societies. For the police are there to ensure that law and order, a calm and orderly presence prevails, as everyone goes about their business. Their presence is reassuring, if anything. For most people, knowing that a local police force, well trained and professional, is on duty to uphold all manner of society's laws for the protection of the public and the public weal, it is a comfort.

There are rumours that surface from time to time, based on someone's unfortunate encounter with agents of the law, that not all police agents are as professional as expectation would have them be, that some are aggressively ugly in their attitudes toward the public. That demographic among the public that live on the seamier side, that are known to be minor trouble-makers. Let alone those whose activities are clearly social blemishes bordering on criminality.

But even petty criminals - not to mention those within society who can be considered hard-core criminals - should be able to expect that they would be treated with a modicum of human decency. And recently, it's come to the attention of the public that a segment of the Ottawa Police Service - an extremely small segment, to be sure - has demonstrated an utter lack of concern for brutality meted out to those temporarily incarcerated for minor law infractions.

The abuse and violations of human dignity have been caught on cellblock video cameras which have revealed the truth of what some unfortunate individuals have claimed. That, while in police custody they have been subjected to humiliating, brutal and nasty treatment. Their basic human rights have been violated, as seems evident enough from the videos just recently released showing Cellblock officers abusing Roxanne Carr.

Previous very similar events made the news when, as it happens, the very same police officers were also involved in like abusive events with other, previously-arrested people, both men and women. In this most recent revelation, Roxanne Carr whom police claim to have been resistant and violently abusive, was treated to dehumanizing treatment, to brutality one might be horrified at witnessing in a Third-World country.

Her head, while she was physically restrained, forcefully, by three burly police well rehearsed in restraining tactics, hit repeatedly on the cement floor of a prison cell. While she was unresisting because she appeared to be semi-conscious. She was stripped naked by male officers and left in that condition for hours. All charges that were brought against her were dropped by the prosecutors once the treatment she had received was revealed publicly.

The public trusts its police department. This city has an excellent police chief. Most police officers know their profession, conduct themselves well, and have earned the respect of the public. A small cadre of hardened bullies on the Force appear to relish humiliating techniques, and using extreme, unneeded force on incarcerates. They appear to feel themselves entitled to behave in this manner.

Their brutish behaviour - even while it is known that most police injuries occur while restraining prisoners - is untenable, unproductive and demeaning; harmful physically and psychologically. The manner in which they comport themselves is dangerous to the public and to the reputation of the Service. And no one can doubt that most professional police officers are embarrassed by these revelations.

Of police restraint techniques that bear no resemblance to what is required to pacify reluctant prisoners, the inebriated, the angry, and women whose rights are being violated.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mohammad's Turban

Canada pulls its troops out of Afghanistan's Kandahar province as planned, and leaves security where it belongs; in the incapable hands of the Government of Afghanistan. There remains yet U.S. troops to ensure that the province doesn't fall completely apart. Simply put, the government of Hamid Karzai is incompetent and untrustworthy.

And the irony is that the Karzai family has its roots in Kandahar.

President Karzai's brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, took his place as his brother's emissary and strongman in the province. Deeply invested in the drug trade, he was little more than a warlord and drug kingpin. Feared and hated in an atmosphere of tribal and clan disputes, entitlements and belligerent claims and counter-claims. Where vengeance is the order of the day.

And where religious zealots have turned themselves into despotic Islamists determined to turn the country back into the terror-driven, Sharia theocracy it was when the Taliban ruled and befriended and gave haven to al-Qaeda. Where conscripts into the Taliban ideology are readily absorbed in infiltrating government agencies, the national police and the military.

And where turbans are so symbolically engrained in peoples' estimation of piety that to touch one or to suggest it may represent a threat is unheard of. Understandably, a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad sporting a turban which hosts a bomb elicited threats and murderous condemnation of Denmark; such an insult to Islam could not be countenanced.

Leaving a young assassin free to lodge a bomb under his turban as he entered a mosque for the funeral service of Wali Karzai, and where the suicide bomber blew to smithereens the Kandahari senior cleric, himself and two others. And now another suicide bomber with yet another bomb under his turban has assassinated the mayor of Kandahar.

More than adequately demonstrating that no one anywhere in Afghanistan is immune to death. Mayor Ghulam Haldar, born in Kandahar, a personal friend of Hamid Karzai, answered his appeal to return from his residence and citizenship in the U.S., to aid his country. Mayor Haldar thought he could bring an end to corruption and civil disobedience and unlawful activities.

He succeeded in confusing himself with a politician in a civil and civilized country, when he was in reality a politician in an uncivil, tribal and uncivilized country. One where casual enterprise is the norm, with people setting up bazaar-like stalls in the streets to sell produce that can sustain their meagre livelihoods, and where impoverished children sell negligible items.

These age-old traditions of free enterprise were opposed by Mayor Haldar, who felt that Western-style shops only should be allowed to operate, and who felt that building permits should be obtained before any manner of construction was undertaken. And who, in the process of attempting to overturn a country's traditions, enraged and humiliated the population.

In Afghanistan it is considered a grave affront to touch a man's turban. In Afghanistan, explosives can be hidden in a turban to dispatch an enemy.

Labels: , ,

U.S. Debt Plan

Canadians sometimes feel that their governments are not as effective, efficient and responsible as they should be. Oddly enough, we often look to the United States to recognize efficiency and effectiveness. It is, after all, the world's largest economy. And for a very long time the world's most highly respected economy, leading all others. Who could fault it, for producing an enviable life-style for its population, for its entrepreneurial spirit, for its enterprise and enthusiasm?

Well, right now, it's being faulted extravagantly. Mostly because the U.S. government has suddenly plunged itself into the unenviable position of posing and posturing as though they represent the government of a dysfunctional, Third-World state. With partisan bickering, complaints and heated rhetoric that has caused a rift that widened into a gap so wide it's become immune to being bridged.

With the Republicans blaming the Democrats for beggaring the country and the Democrats blaming the Republicans for lack of social vision. There is, after all, a social visionary in office in the White House. One whose vision for the country runs completely counter to the American free enterprise system, and who insists that the wealthy must begin paying a larger share of the pain.

There's something to be said for that, since statistics are showing that the gaps between rich and poor are widening inexorably. Corporations, investment houses and the well-off are beginning to recover their pre-recession comfort and entitlements. Jobs, employment however, still floundering. The country remains mired in debt and deficit, and it is growing at an alarming rate.

The interest payment on the debt alone is staggering. And it's growing as the debt itself grows. And the U.S., still in recovery mode, needs to borrow still more money to keep itself on an even keel, and pay its operating bills, its employees and its services provisions. And therein lies the problem.

Republicans are loathe to give the President of the United States what he demands; an increase in the debt ceiling, while he refuses to cut spending.

The problem is so all-encompassing, so all-threatening in its capacity to shut down government operations and invariably impact on the economic recovery not only of the United States, but of its trading partners that the global community is waiting with bated breath for the outcome. The Senate, controlled by the Democrats, refused to accept the President's proffered budget.

The Republicans, in their Tea Party-led refusal to agree to raising the debt ceiling with tax-cut and spending-cut guarantees to balance the situation, are facing criticism from their own members. The Democrats, in their determination to proceed with raising the borrowing ceiling without spending cuts touching social services face like criticism from their own members.

Does this resemble a functioning government?

Labels: , ,

New, Not Recycled

Well, that's pretty responsibility-challenging, isn't it? The very federal government department charged with leading the country and enlisting Canadians in the need to conserve and recycle, deciding to dispose of perfectly serviceable, quality furniture which they had stored for a year at a cost of $141,000 with the intention of restoring it all to use. Changing their minds and deciding to auction off the office equipment instead, to the highest bidder.

Leaving Environment Canada's planners then to proceed with the purchase of new work stations. New desks and office accoutrements to match the newly-renovated building interiors. After all, on top of the fact that Environment Canada is to lead the way in demonstrating how one goes about recycling and re-using things rather than waste them unnecessarily, all government departments received a strict directive to reduce their operating costs.

So jobs are going unfilled and employees are nervously waiting to see if they're going to be let go, as a result of high-paid bureaucrats pulling the plug on growing expenses. But hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of office equipment and millions in renovation costs proceed because that's the plan, evidently. Scandalizing in the process one of their primary business advisers and suppliers, Advanced Business Interiors.

Whose company president has taken the unusual step of blowing the whistle on government waste. "This is like the BMW of furniture. It will last forever and is not obsolete, so to me it's just a crying shame that it's being thrown out and could wind up being used for scrap steel." For certain this isn't a shining example of reducing waste and pollution, creating jobs and helping government reduce spending.

So far no one in charge, neither Environment Minister Peter Kent, nor Public Works and Government Services Minister Rona Ambrose has responded.

The president of the Advanced Business Interiors is resolved to bid for the equipment and furniture from the auction to ensure it can be refurbished and resold to another client, rather than have it sold for parts or metals and conceivably see what is not wanted end up dumped in a landfill.

Evidently an Environment Canada spokesperson remarked that his department considers it "cost-effective" that the work stations be replaced due to "lifespan" considerations, and that the re-configured floor space has the potential of hosting a greater number of work stations in the same space.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Paring down the workforce and planning for greater work place accommodations.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Help Required, Urgently

The United Nations' UNICEF program has been permitted by the Somali Islamists to resume saving the lives of Somalian children. "It was successful and it was a good step toward airlifting supplies into Somalia. It is the first in two years", UNICEF spokeswoman for Somalia Iman Morooka declared.

Al-Shebab has reconsidered. Perhaps foreign aid humanitarian groups are not after all Western spies and Christian crusaders. It is dreadfully inconvenient for al-Qaeda-associated Islamists in Somalia to have all these people dying around them. It makes them look bad, particularly if they persist in disallowing aid to reach the starving.

Not their fault, after all, if a persistent drought has destroyed the region's crops and left people suffering from endemic malnutrition. They're just busy doing what's right with Islam, bringing strict Sharia and the Salafist tradition back into dominance where it belongs. The Prophet, the Koran and Allah demand no less of them.

And it's all the fault of the West, to begin with. Draining Africa of its wealth and natural resources, leaving nothing for the people of the region but parched land and dead hopes. Dead children also, lots of them, perishing on the long march from Somalia to the refugee camps in Kenya. Even UNICEF blames the West for its lack of response to the emergency.
"We have seen some derisory offers from rich European countries. the whole international community ... should now realize the scale of what is happening in the Horn of Africa and put their shoulder to the wheel and do everything they can to help." British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.
And where is Africa helping itself? The oil-rich states, for example, and those governments whose leaders pocket rent from China for the leasing of agricultural land where Chinese farmers work the land and the produce is sent back to China. How does this benefit Africans? Does this not represent a violation of the human rights of Africans?

The palm oil, eucalyptus, teak, corn, cassava, sugar cane and other crops could hugely benefit African farm workers and African consumers. Chinese companies who have forged farming deals and taken land concessions have no stake other than exploitative in African well-being; their international conscience is assuaged by sending a paltry few million dollars to the UN food program.

Tens of thousands of desperate Somali women and children are trekking a long march to arrive at refugee camps where they hope to receive food, water and medical help. On the way the children who are too weak to survive the journey, die. Families are exposed to attacks on their journey and robbed of the paltry few belongings they have.

The refugee camps in Dadaab constitute the world's largest, with over four times their capacity, holding over a third of a million desperate people. History, in Africa, has an unfortunate tendency to repeat itself, time and again. Depressingly familiar, the stories of famine, drought, starvation, civil war, violations of human rights and dignity.

Labels: , , ,

Inadvertent Neglect

It seems inevitable. With summer, the arrival of hot, steamy weather, child casualties occur.

Parents and child and infant caregivers think they have their eyes on children in their care, then suddenly a split-second passes and they don't know where the child is. A frantic search is conducted and the child is discovered in the backyard family pool, and bleak despair descends as the child battles for its life. Is the acquisition and possession of a personal family swimming pool of that great importance?

Do parents ever ask themselves which they would prefer: peace of mind knowing that their child is not exposed to the potential danger of curiosity combining with lack of understanding of danger that may see them tumble into a pool without the presence of an adult to monitor their safety - or the great summer pleasure inherent in possessing your very own pool, a luxury that is affordable for greater numbers of two-earner families.

It's a fundamental question: which has more value to the deciding adults, the care and safety of a child or the cachet and pleasure of having a swimming pool right in your own back yard? Parents know they cannot be at close attention at all times when their children are small. Accidents occur, and for the most part they are minor occurrences. There is nothing minor about a near-drowning.

And a fatality in a family when a child, momentarily unsupervised, falls into a pool and drowns brings that family to the brink of self-destruction. A marriage, with the parents mourning a treasure they cannot recover, teeters on the cusp of dissolution, and often slips over into being sundered with each parent blaming the other, where both are inconsolable and irreconcilable.

In this instance, in Stittsville on Sunday, an alert parent momentarily distracted, was able to save her two-year-old son who had re-entered the family pool without her immediate knowledge. The child will survive. He is being held in hospital for observation purposes, but is in stable condition.

There will be many more infants and young children who will not be as fortunate in the outcome of their unsupervised adventure. There were 89 drowning occurrences in Ontario between May and September in 2010.

Ontario's deputy chief coroner would like to see firmer rules on guarding backyard pools in child and infant death prevention. A good start might be a bylaw that all such pools - in-ground and above-ground - be mandated to have four-sided fencing directly around the pool itself and within the fence surrounding the backyard.

This type of preventable accident reflects the mindset seen in parents and caregivers leaving vulnerable children alone in a vehicle strapped into an infant car seat, windows securely rolled up, and doors locked in blistering heat. The child who was rescued by police in Orleans by having the family vehicle's window smashed to reach the child was spared death.

And it would seem the child's parents, who left him seated in their vehicle in a commercial parking lot while they went off to do some shopping, will not be charged with child abandonment or failing to provide the necessities of life to a child, or any other charge demonstrative of neglect, however unintended.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Arab Spring and Islamism

The world should recognize in Tariq Ramadan the successor to the late Edward Said. Humble yet learned academics, stressing the noble nature of Islam, and the misunderstanding of the West in not acknowledging its true status as a religion of peace and justice for all in the great brotherhood of humankind. We have but to relax and welcome Islam into our daily lives.

Bit by bit we will become accustomed to it. Tariq Ramadan has taken up where Edward Said left off. Normalizing Islam in the minds of those who view it with suspicion. Learning to accept the inevitable, and do it with good grace. The war has been won, in a sense. For one great segment of Western society has adapted and fulsomely welcomed Islam in all its glory to take its place where it belongs.

That portion of society is the accepting, tolerant, equivalent-value-recognizing one of the left in the halls of academia, politics, society, public-service unions and the public education system. Which understands, to their great mind-liberating credit that one must not judge lest ye be judged. Which recognizes that values are not so much universal in nature, but cultural in advantage.

There are no absolutes, merely points of view. And Tariq Ramadan is lecturing to the initiated and smugly accepting that there is no need to fear Islamism, for there is no such thing. There is Islam, and Islam, the original Salafist, Sharia-expounding Islam must be welcomed wholeheartedly, for it is authentic and noble.

And Islam, contrary to what its detractors claim does value freedom, democracy, universal suffrage, individual rights and justice for all equally. "These are not Islamist uprisings, but the great majority of the people asking for dignity, justice, freedom and democracy are Muslims. The Muslims in the Middle East share with us in the West the same values."

This is the Arab Spring explained. For the elucidation of skeptics and doubters who see the Muslim Brotherhood lurking behind dark shadows, with the bright young idealistic faces of young Muslims out in the open sunshine, as facades. This professor of contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University patiently, good-humouredly leads the doubters to revelation.

It is the Egyptian military, for example, with its close alliance to the corrupted influence of the United States, that is holding Egypt back from its full expression as a burgeoning, budding democracy offering freedom of expression to its people. The Muslim Brotherhood is an honourable group of scholars wishing to bring Islam back to its glory days in the purity of authentic Islam.

The apprehensions and fear about the Muslim Brotherhood is a device to instill suspicion in the West, one laid by the Arab dictators to maintain control of their populations and to remain in power in direct violation of their peoples' rights. It was not the Brotherhood that controlled the Arab Spring uprisings, but they aspire to assist the people to attain their goals of equality and liberty.

Mr. Ramadan, world-renowned scholar, respected interlocutor, has inherited a burden which he feels determined to discharge to best advantage. His grandfather initiated the Muslim Brotherhood, and his father was of vital importance in setting up Muslim Brotherhood branches while in exile in Europe. Now the sceptre is in Tariq's hands, his to hold impressively high.

He has his detractors, those who believe him to represent a messenger to the West for the Muslim Brotherhood, to dispel suspicion and fear, to lull the suspicious into acceptance and open-minded complicity with the gentle spread of Sharia, for this is a good thing and all good things should be embraced.

He, Ramadan, is the "charming face" of European Islamism, said Salim Mansur, political scientist at University of Western Ontario. He, Ramadan, is "the darling of the world Islamist establishment", who "camouflages his Islamist agenda under the niqab of ambivalent doublespeak", says Tarek Fatah, founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Consider the source of his support: the Islamic Society of North America, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. And the Muslim Association of Canada, whose website claims roots that are traced to the Muslim Brotherhood, that it "strives to implement Islam ... as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Al-Banna."

None other than Tariq's grandfather. Confidence and obligation take a circuitous route to success.

Labels: , ,

Integrity Intact - But Not His

How the mighty doth protest their innocence. It is, after all, too painful to express regret for stupidity. Particularly when one holds a highly responsible position for which his presumed intelligence has fitted him to, and he is held in high esteem, as a result. With the resounding title of a knighthood, matching cerebral rectitude to patrician deliberation.

Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned his post with Scotland Yard. However, this is a mere formality. In so doing he acknowledges that the public is furiously angry. The public feels rather let down by their top security agent, in fact. And, as Sir Paul stated previously, such a perception is difficult to battle, even if they are wrong, and he did not fail in his public duty.
"Let me state clearly, I and the people who know me know that my integrity is completely intact."
Obviously, the man is wrong, wrong to the point of mildly delusional. He needs a reality check but he is obviously not amenable to one on a personal level. For he believes his behaviour has been impeccable, and the scandalous decision-making attributed to him completely misses the point; he has acted honourably and with no reason for regret.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, perhaps recognizing himself in Sir Paul's dilemma, declared the resignation to represent "a very sad occasion for him. I wish him well for the future." And doubtless Sir Paul wishes David Cameron well for the future. Even while he took a stab at savaging the Prime Minister's reputation just a tad.

Interesting, the revelations that come to light: who knew the Metropolitan Police Commissioner was able to take a five-week break from his duties, and everything would run smoothly in his absence? That five-week absence just happened to be a gift at a luxury health spa. It works very nicely, having an in with someone who is a PR consultant, like former deputy editor of News of the World, Neil Wallis.

Each was gifting the other; Sir Paul paying Mr. Wallis a handsome thousand pounds daily for his contractual appointment to Scotland Yard, advising Sir Paul, and the compliment capably returned by Mr. Wallis arranging for Sir Paul to have an all-expenses-paid stay at a luxury spa. But heaven forfend that anyone take from this the absurd notion that anything was legally amiss.

Morally, ethically, well perhaps. For the police force which had decided that there was nothing amiss in a cellphone hacking accusation six years earlier, and which re-opened an enquiry into the very same activities, still saw its head of operations hire Mr. Wallis two months after he left the tabloid newspaper which was at the centre of the investigation.

Details, details; they are so unnervingly irritating. "I may wish we had done some things differently, but I will not lose sleep over my personal integrity." Well, that's a huge relief. Now, back to the Prime Minister ... ? Who was in fact emulating his predecessor in his choice of media adviser. And isn't that fascinating, that David Cameron was himself a PR hack in an earlier incarnation?

As in it's all in the family kind of thing? If the Prime Minister could hire an ex-News of the World editor, what could possibly be wrong with the head of Scotland Yard doing the same thing? "Unlike Mr. Coulson, Mr. Wallis had not resigned from News of the World or, to the best of my knowledge, been in any way associated with the original phone hacking investigation", said Sir Paul.

Oh dear, oh dear.

Labels: , ,

Irresponsibly Careless Caregivers

Sometimes it's hard to figure what people use for brains. Of course that's just a facetious little statement. The honest truth is that people too often lack common sense. Obviously some people are aware, but all too many simply are not. They seem completely oblivious to exposure to situations that may prove unsettling at best, downright dangerous and life-threatening in the worst-case scenario.

And as far as small children and even domestic pets are concerned, the worst-case scenario on a really hot, sunny day is the danger of suffocation and heat stroke when left unattended in a parked vehicle. How something this obvious could escape the notice and the concerned mind of someone who presumably has a care for infants and for pets, is beyond understanding.

But invariably it will happen; a passerby notices a child struggling in the car seat of a locked vehicle for air, and the infant is experiencing trouble breathing. Alarm sets in, the passerby attempts to open the car door, to reach the child, but it is locked. A quick 911 call is made, or they enter a nearby store to report the problem, and police arrive.

An ambulance is dispatched and paramedics make an attempt at assessing the rescued child's vital signs. On occasion there are none, and the paramedics struggle to revive the child, and rush it, horns blaring, to the nearest hospital emergency room. The child survives, and sometimes it does not.

The caregivers, perhaps parents, are devastated, full of grief and guilt, hardly knowing where to turn for comfort. They make an effort to explain themselves; they were only gone for a moment, there was something that had to be attended to, just dropped by a shop for a quick look around, who might have imagined that the heat would be so deadly? Well, just about anyone but they.

Sometimes charges of child abandonment or failing to provide for the necessities of life are laid against the parent. Including parents who have parked in a casino lot, and gone in to play a few games of chance, and simply lost track of time, while their child was left alone in that parked car, to survive ... or not.

Pair that with the case worker with Family and Children Services, working for Renfrew County, driving with two children in her car, under the influence of alcohol. A traffic complaint was received by the OPP in the early afternoon of someone driving erratically. She was administered a breathalyzer test.

The woman, 32 years of age, charged with driving with a blood-alcohol level surpassing the legal limit. Not a thought for her responsibility, driving under the influence of alcohol with two young children in her care? That she was held to be a responsible adult, deserving of employment with Family and Children Services, demolished by this act of errant stupidity.

No word in the paper whether the two children were wards of the Crown, or whether they were Cynthia Racine's own two children. Either way, the children were placed in a potentially dangerous situation by the action of someone who most certainly should have known better than to flout the law and common sense, and imperil the safety of minors.

Just as the baby that was left unattended at a shopping complex at Trim and Innes roads just after the noon hour in 30-degree-Celsius heat, when in fact there was an extreme heat alert out was placed in danger of losing its life.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Unforgivingly Forgiving

The Liberal-left has invested itself in the belief of cultural relativism. And anyone who doesn't agree that background circumstances, culture, heritage all converge to produce a value system that might differ acceptably from what we deem to be universal values of good and bad, is simply bigoted. Without allowing the benefit of the doubt to someone whose values don't comply with what are taken to be society's recognition of the verities of right and wrong, we're doing them a disservice.

How are they to know that what they believe, what has been indoctrinated into them through their cultural instruction, may not conform to what we may think of as a universal value? If one tribe or clan exhibits a visceral hatred for another, that's to be expected because this is a heritage value. If women are seen as inferior to men and their education and life opportunities neglected, this is simply a reflection of cultural norms.

If the way to settle arguments between neighbours resorts to belligerent rhetoric, sometimes elevating to violence, and this is the way that matters were settled in the milieu in which the abusers grew up before migrating to another country, it's not their fault. If racial, ethnic, ideological or religious prejudice follows a new immigrant into an accepting country, they're to be excused because of other social customs elsewhere.

Raucous, bawdy, sexually suggestive 'celebrations' with gyrating, half-nude men and women parading themselves in a loud public parade celebrates Caribbean 'culture'. If other people take offence or feel put out at the noisy intrusion into their own leisure time, they're upbraided as being culturally insensitive. The Caribbean 'culture' of single mothers abandoned by petty-crime gangster fathers is simply another facet of 'culture'.

When a Muslim community imposes its Sharia-based values on the greater community claiming it to be part of their religious inheritance, a hushed acceptance is supposed to settle over and smother the voices of those critical of entitlements handed to this group that are denied others. Criticism that stems as much from a need to point out that no other religion is given permission to present in a secular public school system.

And that with that religion's 'cultural' beliefs comes a belittlement of females, the teaching of young girls that they are not to consider themselves equally entitled to any types of value consideration with males. That this cultural installation runs counter to the social mores of an egalitarian society like Canada's is excused by the Lib-left apologists as cultural entitlement.

In fact, the Lib-left appears to have a questionable attitude about the entire problem of acceptance of cultural exceptionalism. What it does is accept as normal a low standard of public behaviour on the part of those who claim their culture and their experience supports actions and beliefs at odds with those of a democratic liberal society.

It is patronizing and an admission of low expectations from those who practise objectionable cultural values on the part of the hypocritical who espouse acceptance of the indefensible. But in their devotion to their belief that they are being generous and accepting of societally-deleterious values, they debase our own and effectively give permission to barbarians to practise socially adverse customs.

This is not open-mindedness. This is cultural suicide, opening the gates of the fair and just social contract to the ideological, misanthropic, religious, misogynistic practises of those mired by custom and practise in the Middle Ages.

Labels: , , , , ,

Test Tube Meat, Mmmm!

Now that sounds just too good to be true. Protein derived from an unusual source. Protein passing itself off as meat butchered from animal stock. We already have something like that, protein posing as 'bacon bits' derived from soy products. Resemblance to the real thing is illusory. Some people don't mind the illusion, others spurn it.

But here's something to think about; food is growing scarcer on this Planet. We're using some of it - cereal grains specifically - for ethanol production. Now that's pretty perverse. Using food as an energy source because we're attempting to wean ourselves off conventional fuels, particularly fossil-based fuels like petroleum products. The solution of ethanol use is pathetic.

After all, due to climate change there are widespread droughts in the world. Where crops cannot be grown, and agriculture is failing. So how can we in good faith deprive people of grains while we use them to energize our mechanical devices? This is a truly unintelligent use of food, but it conforms to the priorities of the Kyoto Protocol.

Canadian production alone of ethanol from wheat and corn removes grain from the global food supply that would feed over 30 million people. And that's the about number in the Horn of Africa currently said by the United Nations to be on the verge of starvation as a result of grain scarcity and drought-related agriculture failures.

And then there's the issue of meat. To pasture cows and feed them to produce high-grade meats, grains are consumed, hugely. The global livestock industry according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is responsible for 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Cattle consume 80% of the Globe's farmland, 10% of its fresh water.

So what if test-tube meat could be produced? What if in-vitro meat grown from stem cells in a plant-based mixture of nutrients could eventually provide an alternate meat source to service the growing hunger for meat in India and China, let alone elsewhere in the world where meat is normally consumed?

A food scientist, Vladimir Mironov, has finessed a process to produce what he calls in vitro meat through a biological technological process. PETA funded postdoctoral biological engineer Nicholas Genovese to work with Dr. Mironov. The U.S. isn't keen on funding this research, likely because of effective lobbying from its animal meat producers.

But the Netherlands has been funding similar research. It is extremely costly to produce at the present time, particularly when infused with "neutraceutical" benefits. Its inventor feels that commercially viable product is about a decade into the future. But he also feels that this is the way to go to feed the world population.
"We can have food that makes you happy, reduces your appetite and has fantastic taste because we can design taste, composition and texture." Dr. Vladimir Mironov.

Labels: , , ,

Incarcerating Psychopaths

When the public thinks of prison inmates - if they think at all of that topic - they think of robust, muscle-bound men in mid-life or younger. Social misfits, for the most part, men with violent tendencies to be sure, but also petty criminals, drug dealers, threats to society's peace and good order. They belong in prison. To keep the rest of us, law-abiding citizens safe. It's what we have police for, to track them down, isolate them from the rest of society.

Courts of justice find them guilty as charged of a variety of public criminal offences. And there's a price to pay for that. To give ease of mind to the public at large, that those who abuse the laws meant to protect us all, will not be permitted to ply their illegal trades and violate the public trust. And to demonstrate to the criminals among us that their dedication to crime will not be tolerated, and they are expected to pay the price.

This is society's retribution for the wrongs practised against it. It is also the manner in which we have, as a liberal democracy, agreed that punishment for criminal acts will be meted out. Serious crime begetting serious sentences. For acts of murder in the first degree, automatic life sentences. And if the crimes are sufficiently gruesome and inexcusable, forget parole.

We did away, after all, with Capital Punishment.

So a conscienceless, serial murderer who is found guilty of the charges laid against him will be sentenced to consecutive life sentences. It is hardly likely he will be freed from prison. There he will stay, there he will grow old, there he will become ill from the ravages of advanced age, and there he will die. It is, in fact, another kind of death sentence, it merely takes its time.

There he will also receive costly and advanced medical treatment. And there he will be, in advanced old age, his faculties failing, body breaking down, health severely compromised, wheel-chair bound, dwindling into a feeble, white-haired, dessicated elder. Should he be released into the community, allowed to rejoin his family, permitted to die a free man?

It would free up prison space, free up the work time and attention devoted to him by prison workers, by health and medical workers. Prisons have undergone a physical alteration in recognition of the ageing of its inmates, from more technically advanced and modern medical facilities, to adjusting the facilities with wheelchair accessibility.

Should aged people with diagnoses of advanced, lethal cancers be the recipients of humanitarian regard and allowed to exit prison, to be reunited with extended family, to die in peace, outside a prison setting? Can we consider that they have paid their debt to society through their long penal incarceration?

Here's the story of one 'interesting' inmate, someone who dispassionately murdered two policemen, shooting them in the back of the head after disarming them with their own handcuffs. He was 83, having served 40 years in prison. He pleaded to be dismissed from prison, despite his lack of remorse for his crime and his awful prison record. He died in Kingston Penitentiary's Regional Treatment Centre.
"The board found Hutchison's extensive history of violence both in and out of prison to be more serious than his health problems. Not only had he murdered two police officers, the board noted, but Hutchison and some friends had previously kidnapped another police officer and held him hostage with his own gun. On another occasion, they kidnapped the 14-year-old son of a wealthy businessman and held him for ransom, taping the boy's elderly grandmother to the stairs. Inside prison, Hutchison staged hunger strikes and planned multiple escapes, often faking injuries so he could be taken to an outside hospital where friends would smuggle him weapons. He successfully escaped at age 73 and was caught after a 3-day manhunt."
You be the judge.

Labels: , , ,

Pragmatism Versus Polemics

The European Union and its Parliament suffered agonies of indecision, all the while knowing that the Euro had to be protected and so had one of their member-states, from financial collapse. The union of various European countries with differing values and social systems and popular social contracts sounds like such a good idea on so many fronts, and formulating laws and regulations that are meant to equalize everything seemed like an excellent solution.

But then, some countries have a reputation for financial prudence and careful stewardship of what they have, along with a dedication to hard work, and they prosper, accordingly. They also form the economic backbone of the union, when countries like Italy, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Ireland run into trouble and threaten to default.

Greece, with its generous social programs and laxity in tax collection, requiring a second hand up, perplexing the EU and sending shudders through the banking community. Should Greece default, there would be wide repercussions, and not only throughout the European Union, since international banking systems are involved.

But as financial catastrophes go, that would be a small tremor compared to the earthquake that would result should the United States, the world's most successful, powerful, wealthiest country fail on its debt. A debt that has, over the past four decades grown beyond manageable proportions to finally rest as a financially monstrous burden.

A succession of mostly Democratic, but also Republican administrations have managed to run the U.S. economy into the ground. Oversight on the corrupt and entitled Wall Street banks and financial brokerages was less than useful, enabling the free-market, U.S. capitalist system to run amok, corrupting itself with worthless paper while its executives ladled in handsome pay-outs.

Its economy is stricken in a drought of deficit, business losses, intractable unemployment rates, mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies, municipal and state financial straitjackets, and the country is facing difficulties servicing its debt. And because the Republicans, like fiscal conservatives everywhere are loathe to raise taxes, particularly on the well-to-do, and would prefer to cut back services, agreement with the Democrats remains infuriatingly elusive.

So that if the huge figure of the current debt limit isn't raised, the country's Treasury faces collapse and its financial institutions will come to a standstill. President Obama is determined to wrestle the new Republicans associated with the radical Tea Party group into some form of acquiescence; they're equally determined to stay their principled ground.

When does principle become self-mutilation? Presumably when the largest bond-holder, China, begins to panic. And Japan, second to China as a U.S. debt-holder, also doesn't need the grief. When and if the U.S. stops paying its bills and transactions limp nowhere without the raising of the debt ceiling, social programs will grind to a halt, employees of the government, including its military, will not be paid.

America's triple-A bond rating will be imperilled. And so will the economies of much of the rest of the world, through simple fall-out, since the United States, even in its weakened economic condition is still a buying, consuming power-house. Countries like Canada will be affected deleteriously, since sales to the U.S. of Canadian products still represent three quarters of its export market.

And if the U.S. halts payments to its suppliers, the trickle-down effect will result in many lay-offs and higher unemployment than the already historically high rate. The growing lack of confidence in the U.S. economy throughout the international community is translating into a more robust showing of other countries' currencies against the U.S. dollar.
"We believe that one of the most valuable assets of the U.S. is the safe haven nature of the dollar and U.S. Treasuries. We believe that any fears of missed payments is likely to threaten this status permanently." Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
They got that right.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 16, 2011

U.K. Inquiry

"I do not believe on any occasion I have acted inappropriately. I am very satisfied with my own integrity. But I do accept ... and acknowledge that perceptions can be different from reality." Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner
How very dignified and self-serving. Sir Paul knows of a certainty that he has acted, fully cognizant of his position, in the best of all possible moral and ethical ways. He has no need to apologize, no need to explain, no need to rescue his reputation from any unfortunate slurs that might come his way.

He generously is prepared to accept that perceptions can be different from reality, but is not prepared to admit that although he attributes that little observation to those who conflate his actions with ill doing, his own admission confuses his perception with reality.

British police, having arrested the former deputy editor of the Sunday tabloid, News of the World, Neil Wallis, have instantly conferred upon Mr. Wallis guilt associated with illegally and immorally exploiting underhanded techniques in the interest of obtaining the inside goods on salacious, malicious and harmful stories that the public abhors, yet is anxious to read intimate details of.

And although guilt by association is often very unfair, sometimes it well describes the errant stupidity and moral obloquy well earned by those who profess innocence of wrong-doing. And in this instance, where Sir Paul Stephenson, in his position of public trust and responsibility saw fit to take on Mr. Wallis as a personal advisor.

It might be of more than passing interest to hear Sir Paul describe the manner in which Mr. Wallis was to have advised him; the issues involved, for example.

At a time when Scotland Yard was called into public scrutiny and tasked with reopening an investigation into phone hacking that had concluded unsuccessfully, what leap of faithful integrity spurred Sir Paul to bring Mr. Wallis into his confidence?

Sir Paul had met on multiple occasions with Mr. Wallis while he was engaged at the tabloid as a high-powered executive. Presumably, someone as well placed as Sir Paul, engaged so deeply in public security and protection against malfeasance, might have some personal antennae for trouble?

Evidently not. For he prevailed upon the distasteful Neil Wallis to sacrifice two days per month of his invaluable time and expertise, working for Scotland Yard. That onerous task, of advising Sir Paul, came with a stiff price tag of one thousand pounds per day.

Surely, Sir Paul, while assuring the public and his Parliamentary interlocutors, of his diligent dedication to duty, could mount a reasonable explanation of funding well spent?

Labels: , , ,

Afghan Emigrants To Canada

Seems as though one useful initiative may come out of Canada's Afghanistan mission that may have long-lasting, and positive results. Assuming that those Afghans who had courageously (and usefully) agreed to act as language interpreters for the Canadian Forces would be willing to leave the tribal, ancestral verities of violent hostilities behind and accept that Canada is a land dedicated to equality and egalitarian opportunities.

We might assume we are getting the cream of the crop; Afghans with sufficient education to enable them to have acquired a foreign language. Afghan citizens with initiative and aspirations to becoming greater within themselves than their culture and their governments might allow for them to achieve. A certain amount of vision and ingenuity would be involved in presenting as a language interpreter, even in a place where good-paying jobs are scarce.

Uppermost in anyone's mind would be the chances of surviving the opportunity for employment that being engaged as a foreign-troop language interpreter represents. After all, the country is battling a long-term, violent and vicious insurgency, where the deaths of civilians have become rather banal occurrences. Where it makes sense to wreak vengeance on those deemed to be aiding the enemy, working alongside foreign troops.

Easy and obvious targets for revenge by the Taliban. So by Canada agreeing to commit to what the United States, Britain and Australia already do, invite interpreters to apply for emigration to their respective countries as a way to express gratitude and responsibility for their well-being, after withdrawal, is only the honourable thing to do.

The announcement that Canada is prepared to re-settle hundreds of Afghans who have worked for the Canadian military in Kandahar, is a just and fair decision, one we should all be able to live with, with full equanimity. "We are expecting we'll end up re-settling 550 people who qualify for the program", Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced.

Heaven knows, Canadians need something to feel good about, related to our venture in Afghanistan. We cannot make much of a long-range difference in the country, aiding those within Afghanistan to live better lives, but we can and should assist those who have helped us to help them, help themselves.

Labels: , ,

Improve and Control ... How?

National Grand Chief Shawn Atleo is calling for a re-visit of the original relationship, as he puts it, between First Nations and Canada. The mutual admiration and respect that was in place when Canadian aboriginals first became aware that strangers had arrived on their shores with the intention of settling land that they had long considered theirs to share among themselves, is no longer in evidence.

That is most certainly a generous reading of the realities that bred hostility, confrontation, misery, isolation and death for many. For the settlers in some part and portion most certainly, but for the First Nations tribes without a doubt. History tells us so. And it was ever thus throughout human history, in fact. That one group of humans would pass into the territory held by another and claim possession through force of numbers, superior strategy, and arms.

Conquest and re-settlement followed by integration is an old story of human migration and re-establishment, where cultures intermingled and the resulting synthesis bred a resurgent and more biologically diverse population that usually thrived over many generations. This is not how modern history views the most palatable method by which territories may be engaged in cultural exchanges.

But Canada's First Nations now have a plan to return to what they claim to have been the original relationship. They insist on their right to self-determination. Which means they spurn total integration, since they value their antecedents and wish to honour their heritage, and to remain loyal to the ideals encompassed within the memory of that heritage as first Canadians.

The Indian Act is seen as a well-meaning, but failed, paternalistic effort at controlling First Nations. To continue to accept that the Act as it stands and all that flows from it will eventually succeed in turning around the anguished mess that is now recognized most First Nations communities represent, is futile; little tweaks and twists here and there to fine-tune have accomplished little.

So the alternative must be surrendering the Indian Act to history and the garbage heap of failure. And letting First Nations get on with the job of administering their own affairs with no interference from the Government of Canada. They will remain a bilateral nation-within-a-nation. Treaties will be re-opened, re-examined, and confirmed, and those not yet signed and agreed upon must be dealt with and completed.

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations proposes, on behalf of Canada's First Nations, that fairness, equity and accountability must be the order of the day, resulting in a new fiscal relationship. Only this will stabilize the ongoing crises faced by First Nations communities.

"We can support First Nation governments by strengthening the core capacities of government, including public administration and dispute resolution. Our governments will be able to engage in strategic and comprehensive community planning."

He certainly has the bureaucratic language down pat, with all the assurances that trip readily off the tongue. The critical areas of Tribal council inadequacies in governance, the endemic corruption within them, the lack of idealism leading to fair and just inclusion of all tribal members, the propensity toward violence and gangs and illegal criminal offences, what of them?

If, with the assistance of federal agencies dedicated to safety and security, band councils are incapable of governing themselves, how will they manage with the withdrawal of 'government interference'? It seems the only thing that should remain intact is to forward funding.

With that funding the First Nations will aptly and economically and successfully fund housing, education, health care and employment.

This is like a juvenile approaching his parents to say that he would very much appreciate being independent of their ministrations and oversight. He is prepared to move out of the family home into a pad of his own, and to decide for himself how best to formulate a plan for his future. Please send money.

How is this startlingly different?

The Assembly of First Nations is supposed to be dedicated to the well-being of First Nations at present. What they have done for the most part is to ensure that First Nations remain resolute in refusing integration. In clasping the necessity to remain on Reserves. In being socially infantalized, dependent entirely on the whims of band councils distributing federal funding.

Reserve life: unemployment, squalid, inadequate housing with residents having no regard for their responsibilities in upkeep, abuse of alcohol and drugs, abandonment of children, resentment and bruising violence. Where is the honour in this? How does all of this reflect heritage and culture?

What manner of guarantees is the Assembly of First Nations prepared to give that they are capable of inspiring pride and commitment in First Nations communities, leading them to turn themselves around?

Labels: , , , ,

() Follow @rheytah Tweet