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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NATO-Moscow Face-off

A month ago, once it became clear that Russia was on the cusp of taking possession of Crimea after having stage-managed a revolt by ethnic Russians with the aid of well-placed instigators uniformed with what looked suspiciously like Russian military gear, but missing identifying insignia, who led Ukrainian Russian militants to aggressive intimidation and violence, subduing all efforts of those Crimean Ukrainians who held no brief for secession, thousands of Russian flags appeared as though by magic in apartment windows.

Although Moscow has indulged in similar infiltrations tasking some members of their military to pose as 'pro-Russian' Ukrainians to be managed and led toward an effective revolt, ragingly violent enough to give second pause to the security forces that the government in Kyiv has sent in to pacify the situation, no flags have been appearing similarly flaunting Russian occupation in Donetsk. The sound and the fury is that furnished by a relatively limited number of Russophile Ukrainian groups of Russian ancestry.

In most of eastern Ukraine, there is tumult and pockets of violent thuggery intimidating the majority of the population to remain quiescent to their marauding take-overs of government buildings and municipal offices and police stations. Any who might venture to the task of objecting to the wholesale revolutionary zeal by the belligerent minority risk getting their heads smashed open. Once encountered, such violent incidents are to be avoided at all costs.

It's a dreadful pity that those costs include the possible loss of Ukrainian sovereignty to the Kremlin's sinister plans of annexation. Like two rutting, angry bull-animals Russia is facing off its armed forces on the border with Ukraine, with the assembled armed forces of NATO on the border with Russia. Canada has sent off a half-dozen CF-18 fighter jets to join the NATO aircraft gathering close to Russia's borders, causing concern to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The United States is sending around 600 troops into Central Europe to counter the roughly 40,000 that Russia has massed near the Ukrainian border. In the border town of Luhansk, the city hall and prosecutor's office have been seized by a small gang of 'activists', once a tense standoff lasting hours resulted in the police within withdrawing, as a much larger crowd surrounded the unfolding event, cheering on the pro-Russians.

The mayor of Kharkiv is fighting for his life in an Israeli hospital, shot in an assassination attempt by a sniper who aimed for the back of his head. In the regional capital of Donetsk a smaller group of separatists used bats and bricks to threaten, shout down, and beat a far larger group of peaceful protesters who were unarmed, and who made it clear that their wish is to remain within Ukraine. On that occasion as well, the outnumbered police fled leaving the thugs free to attack.

The relatively lightning-swift strikes that began with a coup in Kyiv and swiftly resulted in the secession of Crimea, show no signs of slowing down. A population that was for so long divided in their loyalties between Russia and the West, has solidified into hard positions of non-accommodation. The population that lived together in fairly universal harmony despite political differences is now completely sundered.

Pro-Russian activists storm the regional administration building in the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday. Hundreds of separatists attacked the headquarters.   Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

The temporary Kyiv government, hoping that the May election will give legitimacy to the new Ukraine, is functionally incapable of wresting control back from the pro-Russian demographic gone completely amok with rage against them, and their determination to leave the Ukrainian field and gift Russia with the geography they occupy, along, incidentally, with all those Ukrainians whose loyalty to Ukraine is a given, watered slightly by a yearning for more political authority.

image Pro-Russian supporters, at left, gather opposite Ukrainian Interior Ministry security forces standing in formation outside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk. Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

Inciting mayhem by any and all means the violently pro-Moscow militants have sown disorder and criminal activities in uprooting law and order in the name of their self-appointed authority of the People's Republic of Donetsk, while Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov laments the United States and European Union's attempts to resurrect "the Iron Curtain", through additional anti-Russian sanctions.

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Canadian Funding of Terrorism

"IRFAN-Canada has knowingly financed Hamas, a listed terrorist entity, for many years. The well-intentioned and charitable Canadians who sought to support humanitarian relief through this organization deserve better."
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney

"[Hamas is a] radical Islamist-nationalist terrorist organization that emerged from the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987[responsible for several hundred terrorist attacks]."
Public Safety Canada website

"[The federal government has been] making speculative and non-evidence based inferences [about IRFAN's links to Hamas]."
"In a post-9/11 context, no allegation can be more harmful to the well-being of a Canadian-based international humanitarian relief organization than casting aspersions suggesting links to terrorism."
"[IRFAN's] charitable work for predominantly Muslim beneficiaries within the constantly shifting terrain in the conflict-zone of the Middle East does not make (it) a political tool or arm of Hamas.
Court filing, IRFAN lawyers

"There was ample evidence to conclude that IRFAN provided funds to organizations that were part of Hamas' social infrastructure. IRFAN repeatedly misrepresented to the public the nature of its work and its beneficiaries."
Court filing, federal lawyers
Hamas militants talk during a press conference in Gaza City to mark the ceasefire agreement reached with Israel. Source: AP

Canada's Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams have gone into overdrive, searching the head office of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy Canada, located in Mississauga, Ontario. They also searched a private residence in Montreal. "We are determined to stop Canadian funds from getting in the hands of terrorist groups", RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia explained.

An extensive review of intelligence information inclusive of information that the organization transferred about $14.6-million to groups associated with Hamas, between 2005 and 2009 led to the decision to add IRFAN as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. The RCMP had sized "stored media, money and other records" in the wake of a search warrant served in Ontario and Quebec, part of the Project Sapphire operation.

"We continue to work diligently with our partners to investigate and disrupt organizations from misusing charitable donations to fund terrorist activity." Working in Muslim countries, IRFAN-Canada lost its charitable status in 2011 when Canada Revenue Agency identified it as an "integral part" of an international fundraising enterprise supporting Hamas, an offshoot group of the larger global Muslim Brotherhood.

But according to IRFAN's lawyer, Yavar Hameed, the established link between Hamas and the charitable group is "tenuous". No factual evidence has so far been provided by the government to satisfy their contention that funding donated to the charity was funnelled to terrorist activities, as far as he is concerned. The process, he stated, lacks procedural fairness since organizations are not permitted to respond to the charges laid against them.

In their brief to court, IRFAN's lawyers describe the non-profit Canadian relief organization as providing support to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, proffering nutritional, health, psychological and what they identify as basic-needs support in conflict areas there. Insisting that the charitable group has been subjected to "speculative" links to terrorism. Bookkeeping irregularities cited by CRA auditors are those routinely committed by other charities, they claim.

Several months back Liberal leader Justin Trudeau agreed to speak to an Islamic conference in Toronto, sponsored in part by IRFAN-Canada. The controversy that engendered led the relief group to withdraw as a "diamond sponsor" of the event. The decision to brand IRFAN as a terrorist entity, according to Martin Rudner, professor emeritus at Carleton University specializing in terrorism, is "consistent with a global approach to monitor charitable contributions that may contribute to terrorism".

It also represents a very much required due diligence effort on the part of Canada's security and intelligence agencies. Hezbollah, as an example, relies on charities it has connections with to support the families of suicide-bombers. The funding of terrorist activities globally through charities is well enough recognized. Within Canada, donations made to Sri Lankan charitable groups aided the terrorist activities of the Tamil Tigers.

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The Slander of Hatred

"Our board and congregation and community leaders felt it completely inappropriate that he take part, because it's visceral and personal and such a solemn occasion for us."
"We were more concerned in the perception that by having him here we're basically endorsing him as an individual who would be representative of the community in speaking about this."
"It wasn't just a passive act, it was active."
Ian Staniloff, executive director, Shaarey Zedek congregation Winnipeg

"I am deeply saddened by the insinuations made about me personally and more importantly about the institution I lead. The decisions made in regard to the IAW [Israel Apartheid Week] activities were independent of any personal views ... The University of Manitoba enjoys a meaningful and respectful friendship with the Jewish community. This relationship has been built over many years and informs the fabric of our institution."
David Barnard, president, University of Manitoba
David Barnard filer
University of Manitoba president David Barnard. (Winnipeg Sun files)
"We believe that this is a wake-up call that comes out of Winnipeg to the rest of the Canadian Jewish community. University administrators can't divest themselves of the responsibility for the security, safety and well-being of students on campus."
"The whole BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] movement, the whole IAW [Israel Apartheid Week], has been a systemic effort to demonize Israel and its supporters."
"It's inappropriate because we know the history of the demonization of the Jewish people is what led to the Shoah [Holocaust]."
Frank Dimant, CEO, B'nai Brith Canada
The motion bars Students Against Israeli Apartheid  from receiving funding from the University of Manitoba Students Union or using activity space in student-union controlled buildings.
University of Manitoba    The motion bars Students Against Israeli Apartheid from receiving funding from the University of Manitoba Students Union or using activity space in student-union controlled buildings. April 12, 2014

This very individual, David Barnard, appeared to relinquish his responsibility to the fear of being brought before a human rights commission as a result of a complaint lodged potentially should he have denied entry to the university by a group not associated with the university. He gave permission for Israel Apartheid Week to proceed on his campus. This, despite the strenuous objections of the university's student union.

The University of Manitoba student union foresaw the tense climate of intimidation and anger that would accompany the event. There is more than ample proof that such events engender psychical and physical disagreement ending in violent reactions. The intimidation factor alone from the slanderous accusations singling Israel out to be recognized as a human rights abuser, when it alone among all its neighbours is anything but, while the other Middle East states revel in human rights abuses, is enormous.

The student union at the university in fact took a vote resulting in an agreement to withhold funding and official club status from the University of Manitoba chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid. The grounds for stripping that chapter of official status clear enough; that repeated accusations denouncing Israel as an illegitimate, racist, apartheid state resulted in others among the student body feeling threatened, undermining their dignity in violation of the university's charter.

Despite that, and after that event denying them status, Mr. Bernard made the decision to allow those proceedings to take place. And he permitted an outside group, the Canada-Palestine Support Network to host the event, held on campus. He found it agreeable to give assent to an outside group of people whose obvious mission is to demonize a foreign nation and an ethnic/religious group, while disdaining the safety, security and peace of mind of university students.

To honour the original invitation extended by Winnipeg's oldest and leading synagogue to David Barnard to give a keynote address during Holocaust commemoration ceremonies defies logic, and so he was disinvited, and that initiative of rejection was directly attributable to his accommodation toward IAW activities.

Any individual of responsibility and credibility who could find it in any way useful to permit such activities, then expect to go on to render compassionate sentiments in mourning the deliberately planned deaths of millions is utterly absent the logic of plain common sense.

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Video: Palestinian Christian Reveals the Reality Over the Propaganda

April 27, 2014 14:32 by
In April 2012, CBS’s 60 Minutes broadcast one of the most biased pieces of reporting of that year (and a Dishonest Reporter Award finalist) on the status of Christians in the Holy Land. Bob Simon presented an unbalanced picture blaming Israel for virtually every difficulty experienced by Palestinian Christians.

The segment included an interview with Christy, a young Palestinian from Bethlehem, whose family home had been affected by Israel’s security barrier on three sides. Christy was forced to flee to the UK to escape persecution by Palestinians who disagree with her political views and sympathy for Israel’s case. At meeting in London in 2013, Christy explained to me how Bob Simon and CBS had, through selective editing, misrepresented her views on the security barrier and the situation of Christians in Bethlehem.

Christy greatly impressed me, both for her courageous stance and the intelligent manner in which she presented her side of the Palestinian issue in stark contrast to the anti-Israel propaganda that so dominates the discourse.

We were, however, unable to report Christy’s case on the HonestReporting site at the time due to the precarious situation that she and her family back in Bethlehem found themselves in.

Now, despite having experienced death threats both in Bethlehem and in the UK, Christy has very bravely put her story on YouTube in the form of a lecture given to a Swedish university and a personal appeal to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to hold to a promise given to her that a Palestinian state would respect fundamental human rights and democracy.

Christy gives us a view of life under the Palestinian Authority not often told, particularly from the media that all too often downplays or completely ignores the lack of freedom and internal violence within Palestinian society.

Christy’s family has publicly denounced her following the airing of this video. More at The Times of Israel.

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Saudis parade nuclear missiles for the first time in defiance of US-Iranian nuclear accord

DEBKAfile Special Report April 29, 2014, 10:49 PM (IDT)
DF-3 nuclear missiles at Saudi military parade
DF-3 nuclear missiles at Saudi military parade
Saudi Arabia became the first Middle East nation to publicly exhibit its nuclear-capable missiles. The long-range, liquid propellant DF-3 ballistic missile (NATO designated CSS-2), purchased from China 27 years ago, was displayed for the first time at a Saudi military parade Tuesday, April 29, in the eastern military town of Hafar Al-Batin, at the junction of the Saudi-Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders.
The DF-3 has a range of 2,650 km and carries a payload of 2,150 kg. It is equipped with a single nuclear warhead with a 1-3 MT yield.

Watched by a wide array of Saudi defense and military dignitaries, headed by Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Salman bin Abdulaziz, the parade marked the end of the large-scale “Abdullah’s Sword” military war game.

Conspicuous on the saluting stand was the Pakistani Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif alongside eminent visitors, including King Hamad of Bahrain and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report the event was deliberately loaded with highly-significant messages, the foremost of which was that the Middle East is in the throes of a nuclear arms race in the wake of the Iranian program.

1. The oil kingdom was saying loud and clear that it has obtained nuclear missiles and is ready to use them in the event of an armed conflict with Iran.

2.  The message for Washington was that Riyadh adheres to its adamant objections to the comprehensive accord for resolving the Iranian nuclear question which is racing toward its finale with the six world powers led by the US. The Saudis share Israel’s conviction that this pact - far from dismantling Iran’s nuclear capacity - will seal the Islamic Republic's elevation to the status of pre-nuclear power. The result will be a Middle East war in which the Saudis will take part.

3.  The participation of the nuclear DF-3 missiles in the “Abdullah’s Sword” exercise signified Riyadh’s estimate that the coming conflict will see the use of nuclear weapons.

4.  By showing off their ageing Chinese missiles, the Saudis intimated that they had acquired the more advanced generation of this weapon, which they are keeping under wraps.  debkafile’s intelligence sources report that in recent visits to Beijing, high-ranking Saudi officials negotiated the purchase of Dong-Feng 21 (DF-21), whose range is shorter, 1,700 km, but more precise and effective in view of its terminal radar guidance system. The West has no information about when the new Chinese missiles were delivered to Saudi Arabia.

5.  The presence of the top Pakistani soldier at the parade of military and nuclear hardware was meant as corroboration of Islamabad’s active role as the source of the Saudi nuclear arsenal.

6.   The Saudis no longer rely on the American nuclear umbrella. They are developing their own nuclear strike force with the help of China and Pakistan. 

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Ukraine unrest: Kiev 'helpless' to quell parts of east

BBC News online -- 30 April 2014
Pro-Russian militiaman in Luhansk, 30 April Pro-Russian militiamen in Luhansk. The activists occupy scores of government buildings in the east
Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov has admitted his forces are "helpless" to quell unrest driven by pro-Russian activists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Mr Turchynov said the goal was now to prevent the unrest spreading.

Activists have seized scores of government buildings and taken hostages including international monitors.

Mr Turchynov also said Ukraine was on "full combat alert", amid fears Russian troops could invade.


The events in Ukraine are increasingly like watching the proverbial train wreck in slow motion. Acting President Olexander Turchynov's admission that the government is "helpless" and has lost control over large parts of the country's east only solidifies that sensation.
Mr Turchynov said the focus now was to stop the unrest from spreading to other regions, especially Odessa and Kharkiv. So far these cities have seen some turbulence, but nothing on the level of what has happened in Donetsk and Luhansk.
The government's hope is to keep a lid on the situation until the 25 May presidential elections. That date now seems an eternity away, and one wonders if the government, or the country, will last that long.
"I would like to say frankly that at the moment the security structures are unable to swiftly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions back under control," he said during a meeting with regional governors.

He admitted security personnel "tasked with the protection of citizens" were "helpless".
"More than that, some of these units either aid or co-operate with terrorist groups," he said.
Mr Turchynov added: "Our task is to stop the spread of the terrorist threat first of all in the Kharkiv and Odessa regions."

The acting president said that the tens of thousands of Russian troops stationed just over the border meant that "the threat of Russia starting a war against mainland Ukraine is real".

Russia, which annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine last month, has said it has no plans to invade the east.

President Vladimir Putin has insisted there are "neither Russian instructors, nor special units nor troops" inside Ukraine.

However, Moscow has also warned that its soldiers are ready to act if Russian interests are threatened.
Pro-Russian militiaman in Donetsk, 30 April Pro-Russian activists in Donetsk. Kiev says some security forces are acting with the militiamen
Olexander Turchynov Mr Turchynov said Ukraine was on "full combat alert"
Pro-Russia activists near Sloviansk, 30 April Pro-Russia activists check a car near Sloviansk, where international observers are being held
Ukrainian soldiers near Sloviansk, 29 April Ukrainian soldiers have tried to carry out some limited operations against the militiamen
Eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population, was a stronghold for former President Viktor Yanukovych before he was overthrown by protesters in February.

Pro-Russian activists there continue to detain some 40 people, including seven military observers linked to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) seized last week.
OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw told the BBC that negotiators had visited the detainees and they were in good health.

But he gave no estimate as to how long it might take to broker their release.

Activists continue to storm buildings in the east - on Wednesday they took the regional police building and town hall in the city of Horlivka, local officials said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry warns Russia over Ukraine

The US and EU have accused Russia of failing to implement the terms of a deal agreed in Geneva aimed at defusing the crisis by disarming illegal militias.

They have both stepped up sanctions against Russia this week, naming more individuals and companies facing travel bans and asset freezes.
Moscow blames Kiev for the unrest and has condemned the sanctions.

Separately on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Russia was "experiencing recession now" and that the damage caused by the Ukraine crisis was weighing heavily on the economy.

It predicts $100bn (£59bn) will leave the country this year. Russia's central bank said recently that foreign investors had withdrawn $64bn in the first three months of 2014.

East Ukraine flashpoints
Map of towns in Ukraine reporting major protests by pro-Russian separatists

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Convulsing Eastern Ukraine

Most residents of eastern Ukraine where revolutionary fervour appears to have taken hold of a relatively limited segment of the 'pro-Russian', ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking population, viewing violence and threats all about them, have no wish to place themselves in harm's way. They haven't joined either side to protest against or for Kyiv, against or for Russia.

Most likely would support an agreement with Kyiv that would recognize somewhat greater autonomy for the Donbass region, but most definitely not association with Moscow.

Polls have been consistent in their conclusion that roughly 70 percent of residents  would prefer to remain with Kyiv, rather than have Moscow responsible for their futures. More emphatic political power within Ukraine, yes; secession in reflection of Russia absorbing Crimea, not at all.

But the pro-Russians are extreme in their violent declarations denouncing Kyiv and celebrating Moscow, and their threats against moderates are well-recognized.

There is always the example of the mayor of Kharkiv, 260 km north of Donetsk, Hennadiy Kernes, who waffled in his support of former President Viktor Yanukovych. Declaring himself kindly disposed to Russia, but unwilling in the final analysis, to see eastern Ukraine hive off toward Russia, he was the victim of an attempted assassination, shot in the back by unknown assailants whose identity most people could clearly guess at.

A Ukrainian soldier was killed, another injured in Donetsk when they inspected a homemade bomb. In Slavyansk, journalists are being 'detained' along with supporters of the Kyiv western-oriented government. But it is the capture of three Ukrainian military security personnel, their humiliation at being deprived of their trousers, their mouths bound with packing tape, heads and bodies bludgeoned that express the savagery of the Russian activists.

That, along with the detention of the now-seven military observers associated with the Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe, draws a picture of the lawlessness and defiance of authority that the region is falling into. The thugs, dressed in camouflage fatigues and the obligatory, intimidating black masks, arm themselves with baseball bats and metal cudgels in the public arena.

On Monday a large demonstration in Donetsk with several thousand supporters of a unified Ukraine took place in a calm and orderly atmosphere. The people gathered there felt safe enough, removed from the presence of the Russian activists who were gathered two kilometres away in Lenin Square. The unarmed pro-Kyiv demonstrators waved Ukrainian flags and sang the national anthem.

Pro-Russian protestors Ukraine

They felt safe because present alongside them were also several busloads of riot police. Suddenly a swaggering mob of pro-Russian militants marching ten abreast raced into the presence of the peaceful protesters, flailing them with their cudgels and bats. The police  fired a few rounds of tear gas and several stun grenades at the several hundred pro-Russian men, young and middle-aged, with a scattering of women among them.

The police, there to guard the peaceful demonstrators soon disappeared, however, leaving the pro-Kyiv people to fend for themselves against "the Donetsk People's Republic" who clubbed anyone who hadn't managed to move quickly enough in retreat to save themselves from a brutal drubbing, getting their skulls cracked open by the raving militants.

Pro-Russia activists Ukraine

The inability of the central government in Kyiv to exert control over the Donbass region is alarming to the residents who for the most part want nothing to do with the extremists' chaos-driven mandate delivered by Russia to foment fear and violence, and create the atmosphere, a la Crimea, for a referendum where the force of violent minority threats will succeed in mirroring the events that led to Crimea's annexation.

attached image

If the Kyiv government remains incapable of policing and bringing order to its territory, there is every reason to expect that Moscow will be more than willing to step in to fill the gap. Only Moscow's military manoeuvres to save Ukraine from its own ineptitude will not be for the greater benefit of bestowing legitimacy in the region on Kyiv, but for the Kremlin to blandly state it was required to manifest its presence in support of ethnic Russians in the region.

After mercilessly thrashing those peaceful Kyiv-biased protesters who became their victims, the Russian thugs retreated with victorious shouts of "Russ-i-ya!", back to their redoubt in Lenin Square.

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Apprehending Jihad

"I felt that throughout my time in Canada I felt a lot of discrimination, whether because I'm black or I'm Muslim. I felt that if I lived in a Muslim country, I probably would not experience Islamophobia."
"I have sort of a love-hate relationship with the police. I love to hate them, they love to hate me."
Mohamed Hassan Hersi
Mohamed Hersi arrives with an unidentified woman to testify at his trial at the Brampton courthouse, April 24, 2014.
J.P. Moczulski for National Post   Mohamed Hersi arrives with an unidentified woman to testify at his trial at the Brampton courthouse, April 24, 2014.
A young man, working in Toronto as a security guard, is now on trial for attempting, evidence alleges, to join the Al-Shabab Somali terror group. Mr. Hersi, 28, was arrested at Pearson airport in Toronto on March 9, 2011, as he prepared to board a flight to Cairo. The undercover police officer who had secured his confidence, testified that Mr. Hersi had confided in him that his plan was to travel on to Somalia for the purpose of joining Al-Shabab.

Canada's security intelligence agencies, CSIS and the RCMP, have embarked on a proactive enterprise to apprehend young Muslim Canadians who appear to have been radicalized, to stop them from travelling to North African or Middle East hot spots of conflict to join Islamist jihadis in their conflicts with other Muslims and the governments of the countries they travelled to, answering the call to violent jihad.

Overtures have been made to Canadian Muslim centres, schools, mosques, and communities in general to convince them of the value of interaction with the intelligence agencies to warn them when untoward jihadist action, or knowledge of recruitment to jihad activities are taking place, in a combined security-community attempt to dissuade Muslim youth from embarking on what they may believe is a responsibility to Islam.

Mr. Hersi, however, strenuously denies that either he or his family believe in violent action as Muslims. Opposed to terrorism, he claims it is in his opinion immoral and anti-Islamic. Citing Islam to justify violence requires taking the Koran out of its historical context, he claimed. Which is perplexing, to say the least, to anyone who may have read the Koran or had it interpreted through expert opinion writing on the topic of violence and Islam and its place in the Koran.

Before his arrest, Mr. Hersi's laptop had a history of searching the Internet for issues such as "Somalia AK-47 cost". A search of his hard drive found that he had downloaded an edition of the online magazine Inspire, associated with al Qaeda ideology. Not according to his lawyer Paul Slansky, who averred that his client never intended to join Al-Shabab, nor had he ever, despite the undercover officer's testimony to the contrary, encouraged him to join Al-Shabab.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Mr. Hersi arrived in Canada with his mother, claiming refugee status. His father had died before he could join the family in Toronto, while he was working at the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia. The young man claimed to have been discriminated against while living at a Toronto Community Housing Corp. apartment building, where police, he claimed, harassed blacks and Muslims.

He planned to become fluent in Arabic, to spend six to 12 months in Cairo, then return to Canada for graduate studies and finally move to a Muslim country like Egypt or Turkey. But contact with Al-Shabab? Never! Yes, he had a 'friend' request on Facebook from Abdurahman Guled, a presumed Al-Shabab member, but that was incidental; they had been high school friends.

This court case represents the first attempt to prosecute a Canadian attempting to travel outside the country for the purpose of joining a terrorist group. The RCMP had identified "high risk travelers" they meant to track and disrupt in their purpose to become involved in violent jihad. Two Canadians had died last year during an Al-Shabab massacre in Nairobi at the Westgate shopping mall. 

One of whom was a jihadist, the other a Canada Border Services Agency officer.

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And Never The Twain

"A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative -- because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens, or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

"His equation of the democratic state of Israel and apartheid South Africa is a new low in American diplomacy and an insult to the people of Israel and South Africa."
"Had Secretary Kerry come to Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], he would have learned about the potential for coexistence without the need for incendiary comments. The time has come for the American administration to quietly exit this failed process."
Dani Dayan, Yesha Council of Jewish settlers, West Bank

"He is using the word in the future tense but [the Israelis] have already created an apartheid system in the West Bank. They don't like it when people use accurate terms to describe what they are doing. When you build roads for settlers that no one else can use, or have two separate legal systems, what else can you call it?"
Hanan Ashrawi, Palestine Liberation Organization executive council
Praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

Mr. Kerry is most certainly confused; his frequent trips to the Middle East, that boiling cauldron of sectarian religious suspicion and hatred, where Islam fiercely dominates and oppresses minority-presence Christians and Jews is itself an effective Apartheid regime, its exemplar Saudi Arabia. Israel extends citizenship and equality under the law to all who live within its borders, be they Jews, Arabs, Druze, Kurd, Christian, Judaic or Muslim.

Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu in Jerusalem

The Palestinian Authority has stated categorically that when it assumes full and total control as a sovereign nation not one Jew will be permitted to live within its boundaries. That is Apartheid. The Arab Palestinians soundly rejected the UN's Partition plan of 1947, while the Jews accepted it and speedily declared themselves prepared to re-create a state of their own, finally; a haven, their historical homeland restored.

Not in its entirety, but in part, the world body permitting it to take possession of a tiny sliver of land. Over the years, in ferociously demanding that the tiny sliver of land be dissolved and return to Arab rule, the PLO mounted one violent atrocity after another, from plane and ship hijackings, to massacres and bombings, then finally suicide bombing. Theirs was not a demand that their right to occupy land adjacent to Israel's be recognized, but that Israel disappear.

The Temple Menorah in Jerusalem

As one attempted negotiation to arrive at a peaceful solution to the presence of two ethnic groups, two religions, two ideologies recognize one another's legitimacy failed, the Palestinians had nothing to lose since they enjoyed full material support from the United Nations and the world at large through compassionate 'refugee' financial support courtesy of many sources including the EU, UN, US and Canada.

While Palestinian Arabs bombed and murdered Israelis both in the Middle East and abroad, they took no steps to relinquish their aspirations to destroy the presence of what they termed an intruder nation, and to secure their portion of the land for themselves through the creation of a responsible, peaceful state. One war after another finally led to Israel trouncing the combined Arab armies of the Middle East, and taking Sinai from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and East Jerusalem from Jordan.

Praying in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

The Palestinians never surrendered their goal of usurping the Israeli presence entirely from the Middle East and restoring to themselves what established Arab countries never permitted them to realize as a nation of their own. Violence became them, even as they lamented their eternal lot as refugees remaining dependent over generations on international largesse rather than make of themselves a functioning nation.

Divisions between the Palestinians with Fatah on one hand and Hamas on the other, intriguing violently against one another while both intending to defeat Israel expressed the tribalism and clannishness and religious sectarian conflict typical of Middle East societies. Where Jews are persona non grata, and Christians are increasingly endangered, their churches demolished, their parishioners attacked by the growing incidence of political Islamism.

Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives

Roads for settlers alone has a rationale; Israeli Jews are singled out for violent attacks continuously, in representation of Palestinian rage against their presence. Just as the wall to protect Israelis from the ongoing suicide-bomb slaughter diminished those attacks' frequency, so too do the roads help to protect travelling Israelis from violent Palestinian rancour. When divisions are required they reflect the savagery of exposure to Palestinian rage.

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Ontario's "Prosperity Fund"

"We need to be aggressive and creative in striking partnerships that are in the short- and long-term interests of the people of Ontario."
"We simply cannot expect to keep Ontario competitive but then pretend we're not in a competition."
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne
 Wynne pledges $2.5-billion subsidy program aimed at high-tech businesses
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks to The Empire Club of Canada in Toronto on Monday, April 28, 2014.  Photograph by: Frank Gunn , THE CANADIAN PRESS
Just doing what all focused political parties engage in just prior to an election; sprinkle what appear to be goodies at various sectors to gain a presumed advantage through votes that will either return them to power, or enable them to gain power. This is a government that regained power through the corrupt manipulation of voters' opinions when they threw away over a billion dollars of taxpayers' money to cancel unpopular gas plants in Toronto.

Not that the gas plants were representative of the provincial Liberal government's only fiscal misdirection, for there was a billion lost through the dysfunctional eHealth initiative, more of the same with the operation of the Ornge air ambulance service, and untold billions more wasted on an ongoing basis, dredging out of taxpayers' pockets every last cent to pay for inflated energy costs the province has paid absurd prices for, garnering more energy than it can use, and selling it under production cost to Quebec and New York while stiffing Ontarians.

Ontario now has the highest debt and deficit of any of the provinces; in fact it is so high that it is equal to the deficit of all other provinces combined with the exception of Quebec. And so, Premier Wynne has announced plans to be fully revealed when the budget is brought down, for a $2.5-billion "jobs and prosperity fund", arguing that other provinces, states and countries subsidize businesses and so then must Ontario as well.

We did go through a rather unfortunate ritual of 'subsidizing' General Motors and Chrysler during the global 2008 economic downturn; agreed to support the failing automakers and they were supposed to pay back those loans that kept them afloat. On the way to doing that General Motors declared bankruptcy and reinvented itself into a new business, and as such no longer recognizes a need to pay back the taxpayer because that 'other General Motors' was responsible.

The federal government supports and subsidizes industry and so does Ontario. There are never any guarantees that whatever arrangements are agreed to with more employment opportunities arising from the financial support of business sectors, will be honoured. All too often, manufacturers who have pledged their long-term presence in the province suddenly realize they can make more profits abroad, despite the handsome tax break Ontario gave them, and gone is the industry and the jobs.

Ontario, under the provincial Liberal government has been behaving like an alcoholic on a binge, spreading largesse good-naturedly in a spirit of inebriated good fellowship. And so, businesses from high-tech companies to auto-parts warehouses, to pharmaceuticals have been happy to receive hundreds of millions of dollars to encourage their growth and presence in Ontario.

The overburdened taxpayer really doesn't have to subsidize businesses who are there to gain profit, and do, but for heaven's sake, not on our collective backs.

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‘Barrel bombs’ prompt calls for Syria embargo

Al Aribaya -- 29 April 2014
A man carries a boy that survived shelling after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad in Al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo April 27, 2014. (File photo: Reuters) 
An international human rights group called on the United Nations Security Council to block the flow of weapons to Syrian regime forces, claiming that it was launching attacks using “barrel bombs,” Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the U.N. to block the flow of arms to any group committing abuse against civilians in the troubled country, where the civil war has killed an estimated 150,000 people over the past three years.

Infographic: Syria’s barrel bombs

(Design by Farwa Rizwan/ Al Arabiya News)

“The Security Council should impose an arms embargo on Syria’s government, as well as on any groups implicated in widespread or systematic human rights abuses,” HRW said.

The group said it documented attacks launched by the regime against opposition strongholds in northern of Aleppo province since February 22, adding that attacks which cannot distinguish between fighters and civilians are “unlawful.”

Its statement comes over two months after a February 22 Security Council resolution demanded an end to attacks on civilian areas.

Such attacks “continue despite a United Nations Security Council Resolution unanimously passed on Feb. 22, 2014, demanding that all parties in Syria cease the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons in populated areas,” HRW said.

Since that date, HRW said it “has documented at least 85 strike sites in [opposition-held] neighborhoods of Aleppo city... including two government barrel bomb attacks on clearly marked official hospitals.”

According to the group, the strikes involved “unguided, high-explosive barrel bombs,” and “indiscriminately” hit civilians.

Since last December, Syria’s government launched 15 aerial raids targeting opposition areas. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the attacks, and thousands of families fled to the countryside of the province, and towards neighboring Turkey in the north.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad formally registered to stand for re-election next month. The HRW statement came a day after his announcement.

“President Assad is talking about elections, but for Aleppo’s residents, the only campaign they are witnessing is a military one of barrel bombs and indiscriminate shelling,” HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director Nadim Houry said.

On the other hand, the group also called for an end to systematic abuses committed by armed rebel groups, who have weapons supplied to them as well.

“At least some of the improvised weapons used [by rebels fighting an offensive on government areas in Aleppo] are prone to indiscriminate effects when used to attack populated residential areas,” it said.

(With AFP)
Last Update: Tuesday, 29 April 2014 KSA 15:03 - GMT 12:03

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Secret US-Hizballah talks. Washington plans to include Lebanon, Syria deals in Iran nuclear pact

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 29, 2014, 9:12 AM (IDT)
US in secret talks with Hassan Nasrallah
US in secret talks with Hassan Nasrallah
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' initiation of a unity pact with the Hamas extremists last week did not come out of the blue. It was prompted by the direct contacts the Obama administration has secretly established with the Lebanese Hizballah. Abbas reasoned that if Washington can start a dialogue with a terrorist organization, so too can his own PLO and Fatah.

debkafile’s Washington sources report that the Obama administration appears to have carried over to Lebanon the doctrine set out by the late Richard Holbrooke for Afghanistan, whereby dialogue with Taliban should be made the centerpiece of Washington's strategy for US troop withdrawal. Holbrooke’s influence on Secretary of State John Kerry dated back to his run for the presidency in 2004.

In Lebanese terms, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah has become the equivalent of Taliban’s Mullah Mohammad. Hizballah has scored high in the Syrian war. Its military intervention on the side of Bashar Assad in the last year is credited with turning the Syrian army’s fortunes around from near defeat in 2013 to partial triumph in key areas of Syria this year. Nasrallah is able to boast that his movement’s commitment to the Syrian conflict is its central mission and will remain so until rebel and al Qaeda forces are finally vanquished.

What the Hizballah leader is trying to put across, in terms of the Holbrooke doctrine, is that like Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, he, Nasrallah, holds the key to resolving the Syrian civil war.
The Obama administration bought this premise and decided to apply it to broadening the rapidly progressing dialogue with Tehran to related areas. The plan developed in Washington was to seize the momentum of the nuclear track and ride it to a broad US-Iranian understanding that embraces a comprehensive nuclear accord with Tehran as well as understandings for resolving the Syrian and Lebanese questions.

Administration officials figure that Nasrallah heeds no one but the ayatollahs in Tehran. He may talk big but he knows that his fate is in the hands of his Iranian masters. If Iran decides it is time for him to go, it will be curtains for him. His involvement in the Syrian war is considered to be contingent on the strategic decisions of Iran’s leaders. (He was a lot less confident in the winter of 2013 when Hizballah’s home bases were being smashed in lethal suicide bombings.)

Iran also determines which weapons are supplied to the Hizballah units fighting in Syria, in which sectors they fight and how to respond to his pleas for reinforcements.

In Washington’s view, Hizballah’s involvement in the Syrian war has increased its leader’s dependence on Tehran. He accordingly has little room for maneuver in contacts with US representatives and if he turns difficult, they are sure they can turn to Tehran to force him in line.
It is also believed in administration circles that the secret Saudi exchanges with Tehran (first revealed by DEBKA Weekly) will eventually produce Riyadh’s acceptance of Hizballah as a dominant factor in Syria and Lebanon.

However, many Middle East experts find the US take on Hizballah to be naïve and simplistic and strongly doubt that the path it has chosen will bring Nasrallah – or Tehran - around to serving America's will or purposes. They draw a parallel with the underlying US assumptions which ultimately led the Palestinians-Israeli talks off track.

But expectations of the Hizballah track are high and strongly guide the actions of President Obama, John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and CIA Director John Brennan. And so, in early March, the first secret rendezvous took place in Cyprus between CIA officers and Hizballah intelligence and security operatives.

According to a number of Mid East intelligence sources, two such meetings have since been conducted and initial US-Hizballah understandings reached relating to the volatile situations in Syria and Lebanon.

Our intelligence sources add that US Ambassador to Beirut David Hale has been in charge of preparing these meetings and implementing the understandings reached.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Comforting the Afflicted

"In this place I have said many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and act against it in time and tonight I ask 'why in the years before the Holocaust did most of the world's leaders not see the danger ahead of time?' In hindsight, all the signs were there. Has the world learned a lesson for the mistakes of the past? Today we are again faced with clear facts and before a real danger. Iran calls for our destruction. It develops nuclear weapons."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial
Photo: View the broadcast of the central ceremony marking Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Hebrew only): http://youtu.be/NtgqDJO4h3Q

View the album from tonight's Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony: http://goo.gl/cbzo39

View the video testimonies of all 6 survivors who lit torches at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony: http://goo.gl/q1WfC5

We will keep posting video and photos from the official ceremonies and events marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. Please follow and share!
Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial ceremony

It was the Nazi regime of Germany under Adolf Hitler which was responsible for the extermination of a third of the Jews in the world. Had they, of course, been successful in their pursuit for world domination, their dedication to wiping out all Jews from existence anywhere on the globe would have been pursued with the diligence and dedication that German ingenuity and determination brought to bear on the issue, to reach total success.

Of course the German Nazis were not alone in their zeal to accomplish eradication of Europe's Jews. They had the assistance of like-minded Jew-haters from within the countries that they occupied in Europe. In Israel fewer than 200,000 survivors of the Holocaust remain among the living. The public reading of names of Holocaust victims proceeded at sites around Israel, including the Knesset. Six survivors symbolically lit six torches in memory of the six million who perished.

Information gathering around the world has produced new statistics on the savage pathology of anti-Semitism globally. A rise in Europe of extremist right-wing parties has been accompanied by a rise in anti-Semitism, sweeping across the continent. The re-growth of fascism has coupled with increased immigration from Muslim-majority countries to make for a toxic mix of Middle-East and Eastern Europe anti-Semitism, though France is singled out for its level of anti-Semitic attacks.

Iran, the nation that currently poses the most serious existential threat against Israel through its virulent hatred of the country, a Jewish nation established within a geography dedicated to Islam, has finally achieved the disinterested green light from Western countries initially concerned over its embarkation on a nuclear-weapons search.

The country most representative of supporting international terrorism, and which has engaged in violent terrorism abroad, which oppresses its own citizens, and which provides munitions and practical assistance to a fellow tyrannical regime intent on bludgeoning dissent is shrugged off as a threat to the world order.

But Jews take comfort where they may. Any advance, however slight, in their relations with those who have and continue to mount violent threats against its existence, leaves hope of better days to come.

Unfortunately, when an admission of compassionate support emanates from the crocodile lips of a Palestinian president whose doctoral thesis during his university days in Moscow related to understating the vile malevolence of the Holocaust and theorizing that there was a pact between Zionists and Hitler, that comfort hits a low ebb indeed.

Lodz, Poland, Abusing the Rabbi of Lodz - the Rabbi is Seated on a Wagon and Bears a Sign Reading - 'We Wanted the War'    Film and Photo Archive, Yad Vashem

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The Mutual Pain of Sanctions

"The notion that for us to go forward with sectoral sanctions, on our own without the Europeans, would be the most effective deterrent to Mr. Putin, I think, is factually wrong."
"We're going to be in a stronger position to deter Mr. Putin when he sees that the world is unified and the U.S. and Europe is unified, rather than this as just a U.S.-Russian conflict."
U.S. President Barack Obama

Armed men stand guard in front of a regional administrative building seized last night by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Konstantinovka.
Armed men stand guard in front of a regional administrative building seized last night by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Konstantinovka. Photograph: VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
New brutish outrages in east Ukraine, new sanctions imposed on Russia. How utterly unfair; for what has Russia to do with the criminal acts taking place in Ukraine? Ah, yes, that connection of ethnicity, of clan, of tribe and the blood that courses in the veins of those faithful to Russia and damning Ukraine; the path now taken to distinguish themselves from those loyal to Ukraine and themselves, primed by Russian intervention through covert actions and urgings and discreet promises.

They are called, politely, pro-Russian, and what could be wrong there? They are, undoubtedly, fond of Russia's influence on their lives, and have taken measures to edge themselves closer, much, much closer to Russia's sphere, to not only orbit the blessed warmth of its rays, but to snuggle within them. And Moscow reciprocates; it too welcomes the love so effusively strewn its way, and will advantage their brethren by coddling and embracing them in a possessive hug.

Those pro-Russian separatists have distinguished themselves in the level of their loathing for Ukraine's ownership of their geography. They have pledged themselves to Russia, so the official Ukrainian government position presents as an impossible irritant. And nor is the presence of observers from the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe appreciated. The cure for their impudence is arrest, recognized as the spies that they are.

And the Ukrainian 'secret agents' too, taken into firm custody. Which is to say, humiliated, and beaten, and made an example of; to all others who may wish to infiltrate the steady resolve of the pro-Russians this will be in store for them as well. Filmed, ignominiously without their trousers, bloodstained, beaten, blindfolded, utterly humbled; fascist Ukrainian trash.

Armed and masked rebels filmed hovering menacingly over the eight men representing the European observers from OSCE, their humble spokesman denied yet again that they were spying for NATO. A German OSCE group member assured that they, unlike the battered Ukrainians held in detention, remain in good health as "OSCE officers with diplomatic status".

"I cannot go home of my own free will", the German representative, Axel Schneider stated at the press conference, but an OSCE delegation was busy negotiating their freedom. Which, according to Slavyansk's new, self-styled mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, who has been behaving, along with his crew, suspiciously fascist, said that indeed the men were "hostages of circumstances", who can be released should a prisoner exchange take place.

"We will turn the Russian television back on, but we will not turn the Ukrainian ones off", one activist among a crowd of several hundred pro-Russians in the eastern city of Donetsk said, after taking control of a state television centre. Armed with clubs, they defied Ukrainian police.

A pro-Russian activist walks in front of Ukrainian riot police during a pro-Ukrainian rally in the eastern city of Donetsk April 28, 2014.
A pro-Russian activist walks in front of Ukrainian riot police during a pro-Ukrainian rally in the eastern city of Donetsk April 28, 2014. Photograph: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS
And in Ukraine's second largest city, the mayor of Kharkiv, 54-year-old Gennady Kernes, once a supporter of Ukraine's deposed president Viktor Yanukovych and more latterly expressing his support for his city, close to the Russian border to remain Ukrainian, has undergone life-saving surgery after being shot in the back by unidentified gunmen. Pro-Russian 'militants' taking exception to his loyalty to Ukraine.

The savagery of two other Ukrainian politicians a week earlier having been abducted, mutilated and killed more than adequately demonstrates the calibre of brutality that these 'pro-Russians' are capable of in their mission to gift Russia with the industrialized heartland of Ukraine, deeming Russia's criminal takeover of Crimea insufficient punishment for Ukraine wishing to keep its geography intact as a sovereign nation.

The sanctions that both America and Europe have hinted at; sectoral in nature, is set to proceed should Russia undertake a full-scale invasion and annexation of eastern Ukraine, a carbon copy of its Crimean venture. Many within Europe shudder at the prospect of more biting sanctions. "Sectoral" measures would blacklist full sections of Russian industry that would certainly affect their own economies.

Introducing fuller restrictions on Russian banks could damage the financial sectors of EU nations, particularly Britain, given Russian investment in their economies. Europe's heavy dependence on Russian gas imports through which the Kremlin could very well decide to raise the price, as they have done with Ukraine, would have further devastating effects on the European economy, still emerging from its recessionary collapse.

The U.S. Treasury and the European Commission have been sharpening their pencils over the past month closely and carefully analyzing the potential impacts on them in imposing further, biting sanctions on Moscow. So how deep is their resolve to punish Russia for the international outrage it has imposed on Ukraine for snubbing closer ties with its former Soviet master?

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Holocaust Remembered: Testimony

Holocaust survivors are a dwindling breed. They are elderly survivors of the modern century's blot on humanity. In its cold-blooded and determined sweep, institutionalized organization and rationalization the Holocaust represents the single most horrific attempt at genocide that has yet succeeded in a world gone mad with hatred.

The odiously wretched indecency of world leaders gaining knowledge of the extermination of Europe's Jews and deciding it was simply too inconvenient to grapple with the issue -- particularly at that time, and particularly as no one wanted to add to their nation's already onerous number of Jews -- gave their stamp of indifference to the cynical Nazis who knew there would be no interference with their resolute march partnering the Angel of Death.

The death camps were well considered with respect to their placement. Nazi officials involved in the Europe-wide venture to dehumanize Jews through slandering caricature as a venal, deceitful, controlling and vicious underclass of society striving to achieve dominance on the world stage of politics, economics and news promulgation, succeeded in deepening already-existing anti-Semitism. They understood where best to place the work camps, detention camps, death camps.

Among conservative, rural populations where that very specific kind of racism was already deeply entrenched.

Among the multitudes of disinterested bystanders preferring ignorance of knowledge of the proceedings to involving themselves in any manner to decry the inhuman isolation, victimization and slaughter, emerged a coterie of individuals who with their families quietly and with huge compassion risked their all to aid wherever and whenever they could those among them who were destined for slaughter; enabling some to survive the dreadful human-made cataclysm.
Detail from drawing by Warsaw Ghetto and death camp survivor Morris Wyszogrod of SS Untersturmfuhrer Reinhold Feix, commander of Budzyn camp, strangling a prisoner with the reins of his horse in 1943. - Photo:

"I remember looking down and I happened to be standing on my grandmother's tombstone. The Germans walked among us and anytime they saw a mother with a child, they tore the child from her arms and threw them into the back of trucks."
"I looked around and I just said 'Mother, this is where we are going to be separated."
"I didn't even feel it when the Germans hit me but every time they struck my mother and brother it was like they were cutting my flesh."
Asher Aud Sieradski, 86, (Poland)
"They asked me what my name was and I said 'Romka Vochick'. That is the name that saved me." Two sisters, 8 and ten fleeing the Nazi invasion of their hometown of Buchach, Ukraine. For years they hid, sleeping in fields, subsisting on scraps of food given them by non-Jews. They were eventually caught on the street and handed to the Gestapo. She lied; her sister couldn't bring herself to do the same. "She had an accent and was afraid." And so, she died.
Ester Koffler Paul, 82, (Galicia, Ukraine)
"I remember the scary things. I remember crying and being so hungry that I couldn't fall asleep."
"They burst into the house and started to search for documents, turning over furniture and tearing down wallpaper. One soldier stood and stared at me. I sat frozen, not daring to move. I was so frightened I almost couldn't breathe. Then came a Dutch policeman who was accompanying the German soldiers and he told the soldier that he saw something in another room. By luring the soldier away, he probably saved my life."
Jacob Philipson Armon, 76 (The Netherlands)
"The first thing they did was beat us and separate the women from the men. It happened so quickly, I couldn't even part from my mother and sister."
"I remember him [his father] begging: 'I am still young, I can run, I can work'. But it didn't help and I couldn't say farewell to him either."
"The hardest part is not having a Jewish grave for my parents in which to honour them."
Shmuel Bogler 84 (Hungary)

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Russian and Ukrainian armies shaping up for initial military clash over Slavyansk

DEBKAfile Special Report April 27, 2014, 7:21 PM (IDT)
Ukrainian military buildup round Slavyansk
Ukrainian military buildup round Slavyansk
Russia and Ukraine were heading Sunday, April 27, for their first battle over the rebel-held flashpoint town of Slavyansk, debkafile’s military and US sources report. The outcome will determine who controls the Donetsk region and possibly all of East of Ukraine – the separatists or the provisional government in Kiev.
With a superior, professional and well-trained force armed with a preponderance of fire power, the Kremlin has several options to choose from for this engagement:

1. To order the 11,000 troops, based at Rostov on Don 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, to cross over and head for Slavyansk and Donetsk.

2.  To send a tank column against the 15,000 Ukrainian troops deployed over the weekend around Slavyansk. According to Russian sources, the force from Kiev is armed with 160 tanks, 230 armored personnel carriers and 150 pieces of artillery and missiles.

3.  To send warplanes and helicopters from the giant Russian airbase of Tsentralniy - a prospect gaining ground in recent hours. This action would broaden the engagement into a major war operation between Russia and Ukraine.

4.  Moscow, Kiev and their backers may understand how such a war began, but once it is under way, no one can tell how it will end.

5. In the event of a major escalation, Moscow ill have to decide whether to throw into battle the special rapid deployment and paratroop units stationed at Tsentralniy, which are held ready for intervention in the Middle East and are now in reserve for action in Ukraine.

6.  The Kremlin must decide whether to go for an overall invasion of Ukraine. debkafile’s military sources report that the force poised on the border is smaller than the 40,000 estimated by Kiev. It consists of 15,000 armored corps soldiers with T-72B tanks and one division each of infantry and paratroops.

A Russian invasion would bring about the partition of Ukraine between the Russian-controlled East + Crimea and the sector ruled by the pro-Western administration of Kiev.

Moscow would find it hard to present this as a “peacekeeping” or “humanitarian” operation.
For Kiev, it might be the last straw that undermines its already shaky rule.

The Ukrainian army’s capacity to beat the Russian invaders, or even stop them in their tracks, is close to nil. Its threat to blockade the more than a dozen towns where separatists are entrenched in official buildings is unconvincing.

Indeed, the Kiev government faces five fairly dismal prospects once a militlary collision begins:

a)   A full-blown military clash will test the limits of US and European readiness to come to its aid against Russian forces. The US and NATO are more likely to pitch in with condemnations and sanctions than by sending troops to the rescue. The Ukrainian government would find itself exposed as incapable of defending itself and bereft of effective international protectors.

b)  The Ukraine government has not been able to summon up international financial or economic assistance.

c)  The 15,000 troops concentrated at Slavyansk have more or less scraped the bottom of the barrel of Ukraine's operational military assets. The 150,000-strong army is sizeable enough but it is not ready for war, and the loyalty of most units and their officers to the Kiev regime is questionable.

d)  If the Ukrainian government opts nonetheless to enter into a lengthy battle with an invading Russian force, it will play into the hands of Moscow, which strongly objects to the May 25 general election. Any delay would further undermine the stability of the interim regime in Kiev.

e)  The Obama administration would find itself in difficult straits. President Barack Obama has repeatedly warned Moscow of “costs” for failing to restrain the pro-Russian separatists’ advances in Ukraine or pull its army back from the border.

He is finding it harder than ever to follow through on a concerted US-European economic and military challenge to Russia’s military steps in and around Ukraine.

In a round of phone calls to British, French, German and Italian leaders Friday, Obama met reluctance on their part to join aggressive sanctions against Moscow over its threats to Ukraine, when they were weighed against the heavy costs to the deep and longstanding trade ties and business partnerships that Europe has developed with Russia.

Obama managed to persuade the G7 to agree on another round of penalties for Moscow but had to delay the announcement of specifics to Monday, April 28.

This frustration was registered in Obama’s remarks in Kuala Lumpur Sunday: The United States will be in a stronger position to deter Vladimir Putin once he sees the world is unified in sanctioning Russia, he said. Russia isn't abiding by a deal reached to de-escalate the conflict. "Russia has not lifted a finger to help" he said and stressed: “The US and Europe must act collectively.”

But America’s allies have made it clear that a broad international coalition for a strong stand against Russia will not be forthcoming. President Obama is left with the option of striking almost alone, or climbing down from his threats.

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