Thursday, March 22, 2018

Prestige Trumps Efficiency, Environment

"It seems to be an American male thing to think: 'I may want to haul things'."
"If that caught on in other countries it really wouldn't help."
Lewis Fulton, co-director, sustainable transportation program, University of California, Davis, Institute of Transportation Studies

"This makes 2016 the first model year in which the industry generated a [greenhouse gas] emissions deficit, after generating credits in each of the first four years of EPA’s program."
"[All five vehicle types under the EPA program have] steadily increased fuel economy in recent years and are at or near their record high fuel economy levels." 
"However, the market shift towards SUVs has offset some of the fleetwide benefits that otherwise would have been achieved due to the increased fuel economy within each vehicle type." 
Environmental Protection Agency, United States
011118 SUVs up CO2 down js photo
The Environmental Protection Agency said in a report on model-year 2016 vehicles' fuel economy trends that "sport utility vehicles reached record-high market share. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In lock-step with the United States becoming close to self-sufficient in oil and gas extraction thanks largely to fracturing and other newer release mechanisms, the price of fuel has dropped and American motorists have dropped their interest in compact and sub-compact and other conventional types of passenger vehicles, turning overwhelmingly to the gas guzzlers they had previously shunned. Sport Utility Vehicles have been popularized like never before, taking over the market and leaving other personal vehicle models to sit forlorn on new car lots.

As for all the hyperventilating about electric vehicles, they have suddenly -- or not so suddenly -- lost lustre. No need to worry about that battery's limited mileage leaving you in the lurch, not with the low cost of gasoline, so drop the environmental issues barricades and storm the SUV sellers' to take advantage of big and powerful and increased gas usage. And the rise of greenhouse gas emissions results, of course. Transportation accounts for roughly 14 percent of global emissions, cars and trucks representing the largest share.

Rising incomes and lower gas prices has convinced drivers in China, Australia and other countries to abandon smaller sedans when bigger, more prestigious vehicles are so desirable, available and ready to go. A lot more fun to drive, too; more practical, plenty more carrying capacity and motor power; no contest! "Crossovers" and SUVs are the way to go, and in the last three years now carry more weight with over one in three making up the new car market. "Everyone is jumping on SUVs" proclaimed Matthew Weiss, a JATO Dynamics executive.

The world community's cars and trucks, the major emitters of greenhouse-gas-warming on the planet are taking over with SUVs, along with their crossover cousins. The average fuel economy of new cars worldwide saw a 1.8 percent improvement annually between 2005 and 2008 according to the United Nations' Global Fuel Economy Initiative. A pace that has slowed to 1.1 percent, considerably below the 3-percent expectation required to stabilize emissions from the world's fleet of vehicles.

Anup Bandivadekar, heading the passenger vehicle program at the International Council on Clean Transportation think tank pointed out: "It's making progress in fuel economy increasingly difficult". Advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles are being set aside in the wake of the global SUV sales boom. SUVs are 30 percent less efficient than smaller cars and less likely to turn electric any time soon given the technological hurdles in powering larger cars with appropriate batteries.

About 40,000 Model X fully electric SUVs manufactured by Tesla were sold since 2015. A number not quite geared to sustain ongoing production. Enticing automakers with government investments in electric vehicles and low-emitting vehicles seems to have had its day. Resources, in the interests of profiting through heightened consumer interests, are being poured into polluting SUVs' production inceasingly.

About 25,000 Chevy Bolt electric cars released in 2015 have been sold by General Motors in the United States. A slow uptake that hasn't warranted updating the model to spur non-existent sales. On the other end of the scale, General Motors is spending $265 million for its new Cadillac XT4 crossover SUV. While the automaker still invests in clean car technology its interest is clearly waning alongside that of consumers, in producing all-electric cars.

Volkswagen has plans for 20 new S.U.V. models by 2020 in contrast to the four models produced at the present time. Its SUVs filled with technology purportedly increasing efficiency, while its most popular model, the Tiguan, weighs about 1,800 kilos, giving 11 kilometers per liter on the highway even as its midsize sedan weighing 1,400 kilos gives 15 kilometers.

In China, SUVs are considered a status vehicle, its ride on highways offering a stability others don't match, with ample room for families planning to expand with the release of the one-child national policy. By 2022, predicts the global consulting firm McKinsey, one in every two cars sold in China will be an SUV and that will make it interesting for China to meet its professed air-pollution-fighting goals.The popularity in China of SUVs is being reflected in Western Europe as well.

The financial incentive for automakers to focus on building and selling SUVs is certainly there, with buyers selecting luxury trimmings at premium prices over basic vehicles. In contrast, electric vehicles generate not profit but money-losing prospects. With the larger embrace of SUVs there is no prospect of higher-polluting, lesser-mileage pickup trucks losing their allure. Ford last year sold more than a million F-series pickup trucks, a fifth of that number outside the U.S.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Reversing the Global Chinese Takeover : Recalibrating to Beat China at its Own Game

"International trade creates diffuse benefits and concentrated costs. China's rapid rise, while enormously positive for world welfare, has created identifiable losers in trade-impacted industries and the labour markets in which they are located."
"[Too much of the economic discussion lately] has been focused on the one percent versus the 99 percent. It's become a kind of 'inequality porn' -- where you get so focused on those two numbers that it becomes demobilizing. You lose sight of the fact that there is a dramatic rise in the economic return to tangibly acquiring skills -- skills that are available and should be within everyone's reach."
"[The descent of meritocracy] is not about the returns to realized skills. It is about the inequality in the ability to acquire those skills. Too many people live in areas where they cannot get them. If you get educated in America today, and have a good work ethic, you are going to be rewarded. What does education do? It gives you a skill set and enables you to adapt to change better. And cities and towns anchored by universities tend to reinvent themselves more easily; they're engines of adaptation. of  higher education benefits not just college students but college places."
David Autor, economist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Chinese and foreign makers are about to start sending huge numbers of fully built cars to the U.S. We are about to see a big increase in the U.S. trade deficit in automotive."
"[China has been shopping for more American goods to buy] but the U.S. is just not that competitive anymore in a lot of products other than oil, food and aircraft. And China is now in the test-flight stage for mass-producing its own jetliners as well."
Keith Bradsher, China expert

"No U.S. auto company is allowed to own even 50% of their own factory in China, but there are five 100% China-owned EV auto companies in the U.S."
Elon Musk, Tesla Founder

What Mr. Musk was talking about is a grossly uneven playing field. When President Trump spoke disparagingly about the unequal playing field disproportionately serving Mexico's and Canada's interests in the North American Free Trade Agreement actually reflects America's trade relationship with China, the largest and most controlling goods producer in the world today. He was speaking of electric vehicle (E.V.) companies' operations in China and the U.S. Where American companies are forced to have a Chinese partner and transfer technology to them, while operating in China.

Recognized as one of the next great global industries China plans to use its own restrictive market access rules to gain control of the entire E.V. supply chain, and that will eventually include aerospace, quantum computing as well as a whole range of other advanced industries. The simple fact is that any technology company wishing to do business in China to take access advantage of its gigantic market, must agree to allow Chinese nationals to sit on their board, and to release protected technical information to them as a profit trade-off.

Trump would do well to rethink his rejection of the 12-nation Asia Pacific trade accord. The Trans-Pacific Partnership promised the elimination of up to 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports to the dynamic economies in the Pacific. That giant trading bloc was to have been captained by the United States, its focus, to protect high-value-added manufacturing and intellectual property. It was constructed as a group whose purpose was to counterbalance China's virtual trading monopoly. China must have exulted when Donald Trump unceremoniously yanked the U.S. out of the TPP.

The recommendation for the United States is not only to reconnect with the TPP, but to return to China the very trade rules that work so well for it. China, ever eager to continue investing in the world's still-largest economy in the United States must be given to understand that to do so would necessitate that it agree to having Americans sit on its boards, and to release to them any industrial formulae those companies hold to be out of bounds, in a reflection of Chinese-generated trade rules.

China retained a 25 percent tariff on new cars it imported from the U.S. in contrast to the U.S. tariff of 2.5 percent, growing its own companies behind its protectionist wall and alloting those Chinese companies state funds until they were sufficiently competitive before releasing them to the world at large so they could compete with their U.S. counterparts -- once they had consolidated their vice grip on the market. The Detroit automakers who realize good profit in China must track with Chinese-only auto parts supply chain.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sincerest Congratulations, Vladimir!

"Putin began his long-running disinformation campaign when he came to power in 2000, taking over Russia’s independent television channels and bringing the oligarchs who owned them to heel or ousting them from the country."
"Since then, he has chipped away at free expression, political dissent, and independent voices one newspaper, one website, and one blogger at a time."
"Each new amendment to the law declaring NGOs as foreign agents and undesirables, each assassination of a journalist or political leader who went too far, and each expansion of what constitutes 'extremist' content online [and thus, subject to censorship] brought Putin one step closer to this day."

"Currently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the best level in history, which sets an example for building a new type of international relations."
"China is willing to work with Russia to keep promoting China-Russia relations to a higher level."
An election billboard in Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city.
An election billboard in Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city    CNN

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Remembering the Holocaust

"We need to make our history relevant for everyone: Germans who no longer feel a connection to the past and immigrants who feel excluded from the present."
"It is a powerful way of keeping memory alive and giving meaning to our mantra of 'never again'."
"It's about standing up for human rights and the rights of minorities -- all minorities."
Sawsan Chebli, Palestinian German, Berlin state legislator
All Germans should visit a concentration camp at least once to foster national identity, a Berlin politician said
All Germans should visit a concentration camp at least once to foster national identity, a Berlin politician said   Tom Maelsa/Getty Images

"Does anyone here know who was imprisoned here?"
"It's much easier for me to persuade a young Muslim of the relevance of the Holocaust if I acknowledge their own experience of discrimination and create that link."
Mariana Aegerter, Sachsenhausen tour guide

"It would be naive to expect a two hour tour to turn neo-Nazis into anti-fascists."
"But give us a little time, and we can achieve a lot."
Gunter Morsch, director, Sachsenhausen memorial

"It's not enough to read books about it [the death camps and the Holocaust]. You need to feel it", by being there, explained Jakob Hetzelein, a history teacher from a working-class Berlin district who made the decision that his students should be taken on a trip of discovery to Sachsenhausen. He had himself grown up in Bavaria, the one state in Germany where it is mandatory for students to visit Nazi memorial sites. He had, as a high school student, gone to Dachau, close to Munich.

In later years he had taken himself to the Nazi death camp in Poland, Auschwitz. He recalls how the cast-iron gates, the barbed wire and the scale of the camp horrified him, and haunts him still, at age 31. He decided he would take the temper of his class by staging a mock election, where a number of students were in support of the Alternative for Germany party, another boy was seen scribbling a swastika and yet another excels at Hitler impressions.
Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen

'Never Again': Memorials of terror   Bergen-Belsen  The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Lower Saxony was initially established as a prisoner of war camp before becoming a concentration camp. Prisoners too sick to work were brought here from other concentration camps, so many also died of disease. One of the 50,000 killed here was Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who gained international fame posthumously after her diary was published.

There, in his class is also Mahmoud and Ferdous, refugees from Egypt and Afghanistan respectively steeped in the cultural-religious anti-Israel sentiment encapsulating the anti-Semitism that is so pervasive in Muslim culture, along with a penchant for vociferous Holocaust denial. But postwar Germany has devoted itself to memorializing its role in World War II, as a state that engaged in the details of a planned and deliberate atrocity of wholesale genocide.

The irony is that while Germany is struggling to incorporate over a million recent refugees from mostly Muslim countries into its indigenous population of ethnic, cultural Germans infused with a previous absorption of four million Muslims of Turkish and Kosovar and Iraqi extraction among others, the incidence of viral anti-Semitism has sky-rocketed.

A Germany that had vowed, post WWII, to eradicate any remaining vestiges of anti-Semitism in penance for the Nazi eradication of six million European Jewish lives now has six million Muslims to replace them.

The Jewish lives that were forfeit throughout Europe as they were swallowed by the deadly maw of Nazi Germany's dedication to destroying Jewish life, young and old, now replaced by many times greater numbers of Muslims whose heritage, culture, society and religion fail to defer to European law, demanding that Sharia law have equal status, while Turkey and Saudi Arabia have built innumerable mosques whose minarets dominate the European skyline.

As Ms. Aegerter guided Mr. Hetzelein's students around the Sachenhausen camp she pointed out that in one area civil servants determined the type of medical experiments to be conducted on inmates, and how many executions were to take place, requiring how much cyclone B gas to asphyxiate the inmates of Auschwitz, the "desk perpetrators" hard at work to fulfill their war duties administering the two dozen major concentration camps of which Sachsenhausen was the nerve centre of a vast killing machine.

It was a camp that received 40,000 Jews, along with communists, clerics, homosexuals, Roma and the disabled, as well as homeless "antisocials"; the jobless, social welfare recipients and the occasional Muslim, for a total of 200,000 inmates over the years. A number relatively insignificant in comparison to those housed at and murdered in Auschwitz and its sister-death-camps and slave labour camps where Jewish inmates died of starvation, privation, disease, torture and hopelessness, not only by mass chemical gassing.

A Palestinian schoolgirl asked Ms. Aegerter: "Don't you think that what the Jews are doing with the Palestinians today is the same as what the Nazis did with the Jews?" Germany, according to the state parliamentarian Ms. Chebli, has to fight 'Islamophobia', too. The very idea that the Muslims who have migrated to Europe for haven from their own Islamic governments' misrules and depredations upon their populations bring with them virulent hatred of Jews while complaining of 'Islamophobia' entirely trivializes the enormity of the Holocaust.

To remain under the delusion that a trip to a death camp will result in Muslim children in whom hatred for Jews has been inculcated as a cultural-religious-political reality alongside the view that Israel practises Nazi death-camp behaviour with Palestinians will turn these young people toward an understanding and recognition of historical truth is a faint hope. German tolerance for the new anti-Semitism branded by Islam, equating it with 'Islamophobia' simply illustrates the lack of depth of commitment to historical realities.

germany burqa
Women dressed in traditional burqa garments in Berlin. (photo credit: REUTERS)

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fighting Extremism? Simple Solution: Fighting

"The biggest things these extremists get from it [Islamist jihad] is community. They treat each other with love and they hate everybody else."
"I can't lose my Spartan warrior reputation. That is my legitimacy in the prisons."
"From Ali's point of view, 'This is one of the guys I have been preaching to kill for years'."
Usman Raja, pioneer, mixed martial arts fighting
Usman Raja, (right), whose mix of martial arts and theology is deradicalizing convicted terrorists like Abu Bakr Mansha (left).
Usman Raja, (right), whose mix of martial arts and theology is deradicalizing convicted terrorists like Abu Bakr Mansha (left)
"That is where the mixed martial arts come in. It gives him street cred, and a starting point to have some of these conversations [with young men at 'risk']."
"Usman has taken on some of the most hard-core, extreme cases that the U.K. has to offer. And he has a very good success rate at getting them back into productive roles in society."
Douglas Weeks, radicalization expert, Unity Initiative
Mr. Raja speaks knowledgeably on the history of Islam and enjoys peppering his conversations with anecdotes about jihadists. He speaks of a former top leader of a London-based extremist group, Al Muhajiroom. That Ali Beheshti, that leader, incensed at a publisher who produced a novel about the Prophet Muhammad spent four years in Belmarsh prison for setting fire to the publisher's house. He made his point, evidently, and paid the social-justice price for his criminal act.

Mr. Raja, however, turned Mr. Beheshti's life view around evidently, meeting with him five days weekly for an entire year-and-a-half, training him in fighting, bringing him to the gym to spar with a white British soldier. The soldier was so impressed with Mr. Beheshti's acquired fighting skills that he said, "Congratulations, we are really proud of what you are doing". Mr. Beheshti must be proud himself in gaining approval by the very lot he once swore to fight; volunteering now with the Unity Initiative.

The Unity Initiative is part of Mr. Raja's project, helping to reintegrate over 40 released prisoners who had been convicted of terrorism offences in Britain. Over 180 young Muslims have been counseled by Mr. Raja, referred to him by members of their own Muslim communities or by law enforcement authorities. To his knowledge, none has gone on to commit a terrorist act. Yet. Instead of arguing militants away from their convictions, Mr. Raja forms personal relationships.

Building their sense of engagement in a community, vigilant to determine when and whether the ideological arguments gradually fall into disuse at a time when British militants are returning from the fields of conflict in Syria and Iraq to the United Kingdom. Mr. Raja's work has become so well known that he has been consulted by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, for advice on how they might proceed in similar circumstances.
A Home Official official has said that Usman Raja, pictured, has an 'ability to inspire' former terrorists to re-think their old ways
A Home Official official has said that Usman Raja, pictured, has an 'ability to inspire' former terrorists to re-think their old ways

Usman Raja, the son of Pakistani immigrants, became a habitue at a gym in an area dominated by the British army base in Aldershot, where he lived with his mother and his first experiences were fighting and brawling with the sons of soldiers slurring his Pakistani heritage. Soon he was making a name for himself in East London gyms. He considered joining other young British Muslims in the jihad against Bosnian Serbs who sought out his help in acquiring fighting skills.

Instead, he was influenced by a Malaysian Muslim scholar given to preaching a tolerant style of Islam and that led him to voluntary social work. Here's hoping his skillful prowess at mixed martial arts continues to impress those looking for the life-skills he purveys, and that he continues his success story turning them away from jihad-influenced violence to a type of societal-approved violence of physical skills.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Desperation in Syria

"More than five thousand people are at risk of annihilation. Please get our voice out to the world, this might be the last message I'm able to send."
"The wounded are in the streets and the planes are targeting anything that moves."
"The regime forces came from the east side. I tried to escape but I couldn't. I witnessed an entire family getting killed by an air strike in front of me."
"I'm by a basement now trying to send this to you."
Syrian doctor, Hammouriyeh, Eastern Ghouta

"The tragedy just repeats and repeats on an endless loop and each time we lost a bit more of our humanity."
"And what will be left by the end [when the civil war finally concludes]?"
"Absolutely nothing."
Jawad Abu Hatab, prime minister, opposition Syrian Interim Government 
Syrian civilians evacuated from the Eastern Ghouta enclave pass with belongings through the corridor opened by government forces in Hawsh al-Ashaari, east of the enclave town of Hamouria on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 15, 2018
Syrian civilians fleeing Thursday from the Eastern Ghouta enclave pass with belongings through the regime controlled "humanitarian" corridor opened by government forces in Hawsh al-Ashaari, on the outskirts of Damascus. Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images
"Most of the children who die have been shelled in the head or have injuries in their abdomen or bowels. And I have seen some cases of penetrating wounds directly in the heart."
"These children need specialist surgeons and seven or 14 days in intensive care. Many could be saved. In London they could be saved. In Ghouta we cannot do anything. We try to stop the bleeding and make it OK for them, then we allow them to die."
"We do not know in the future if she [18-month old child] will walk or if her leg will be only a picture of a leg. But she is alive." 
"When we are dealing with children, we hope God will look to them. I'm sorry, words cannot express this."
Dr. Hamid, 50, Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus
A Syrian girl receives treatment in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on March 7, 2018.
A Syrian girl receives treatment at a hospital in the city of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta  AFP
The Syrian civil war is extending now into its eighth year of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad coping with the "terrorists" that are in fact his Syrian Sunni citizens and whom he has been laying starvation siege to, chemical bombing, barrel bombing, strafing, arresting, torturing and killing since they had the unmitigated gall in 2011 to launch peaceful demonstrations asking for equal treatment from the Baathist Alawite government. An appeal that immediately identified them as terrorists and which targeted them for obliteration.

Of the pre-war population of 22-million people, fully half are refugees; half displaced within Syria, another half outside Syria, many of whom are desperate to be anywhere but Syria where they no longer have a future and will forever mourn all that they have lost, wherever they end up. It's hard to say whether they're the fortunate ones, who have escaped with their lives, or unfortunate that they still have their lives and nothing else, taking them into a bleak future.
A massive escalation of force that began last month has devastated towns and cities in the Eastern Ghouta
A massive escalation of force that began last month has devastated towns and cities in the Eastern Ghouta EPA

The Syrian Sunnis represented the majority Syrian population. Their militias gained a firm handle on opposing the Syrian military despite the military's superior grade weaponry that a state acquires. But it wasn't just the Syrian regime that was arrayed against them, but the al-Quds branch of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps, and their proxy suicide military, Hezbollah, later joined by Shiite militias all of whom hate Sunnis and are glad for the opportunity to clash with and liquidate them. Even then, the opposition was holding its own, until the entry of Russia.

Russian air cover was instrumental entirely in turning the tide. Russian pilots of warplanes instructed not to spare schools, markets and above all hospitals. While the world watched aghast as Assad unleashed hell on his civilian population, the Security Council was ineffective with Russia vetoing any sanctions against Syria, seconded by China. When the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant came on the scene, eclipsing all the other jihadist groups that had infiltrated Syria, Western nations refocused and identified it as the dire enemy of civilization.
An injured child receives first aid in hospital after a bombing in Douma, eastern Ghouta, Syria, 08 February 2018
An injured child lies in hospital after a bombing in Douma, Eastern Ghouta  EPA

ISIL, as depraved and repugnant as it is in its love of committing unspeakable atrocities, never at any time, despite their numbers and the geography they eventually overtook -- and the horrors inflicted in the helpless Yazidi population -- managed to destroy, maim and slaughter as many people wholesale as did the Syrian regime. Assad warned the West in the early days of the conflict that the entire Mideast region would be roiled, and this is pretty much what has happened, but would not have, had NATO and particularly the U.S. and the Arab League taken steps to stop the Syrian carnage.

Now Syrian civilians are streaming out of East Ghouta as a "humanitarian" courtesy compliments of Syria and Russia, just as a "humanitarian" corridor has been opened in Afrin by Turkey to allow residents to escape the constant mortar bombardment killing civilians there in aid of Erdogan's pledge to rid the region of the presence of Syrian Kurds who in his opinion have taken land belonging to Arabs, even while Turkey remains in firm possession of land historically and by heritage right belonging to Kurds.

BBC map

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Canada's NDP Championing Khalistan?

"I condemn all acts of terrorism in every part of the world, regardless of who the perpetrators are or who the victims are."
"Terrorism can never be seen as a way to advance the cause of any one group. It only leads to suffering, pain and death."
"It wasn't by chance that Sikhs were the most sacrificed, or the people who died the most for the freedom of South Asia."
"I absolutely think it's a fundamental right of all people to be able to self-govern, to have sovereignty. It's something that's recognized by the United Nations, and there should be no fear to expressing your position on that. I support the referendum, absolutely."
Jagmeet Singh, leader, New Democratic Party, Ottawa
 NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been on the defensive this week after videos emerged suggesting his association with advocates of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been on the defensive this week after videos emerged suggesting his association with advocates of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.  (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo)

"One [perception of Sikh identity] is about sovereignty, explicitly and uncompromisingly. It endorses the superiority of our culture, our language and our ideals. It is about Sikh spaces and Sikh institutions."
"And it endorses violence as a legitimate form of resistance and survival."
"[The other embraces conformity and] commodification of our culture."
"It's an unfortunate reality and it's something that is distressing to us as a community, because the Sikh community is a peace-loving community. But at the same time, we're not a pacifist community."
"If you want self-determination, you're going to have to take up arms ... and that's the only route to independence."
Shamsher Singh, National Sikh Youth Federation (NSYF) London

"These are people who still advocate violence. They're trying to disturb the peace in India's Punjab state."
"So the focus is on a very, very tiny minority. That's the sad part."
"[Jagmeet Singh's presence at Sikh separatist events will] haunt him."
Shinder Purewal, professor of political science, Kwantien Polytechnic University, British Columbia

The new leader of Canada's federal New Democratic Party is a Canadian Sikh and apparently a Sikh who is firmly ensconced in the religion, but more than that, an advocate of Sikh autonomy. When India underwent partition and Pakistan was created out of India, followed by Bangladesh breaking away from Pakistan, it was a vicious, violent and bloody event with Hindus and Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims assembling in raging mobs against one another. The Punjab region was divided between India and Pakistan. And it seems that the holiest site in Sikhism was left in Pakistan.

Yet it is upon India that giant democratic nation of 1.3-billion people comprised of many ethnic groups, languages, cultures and religions against whom Sikh nationalists with their dream of achieving a separate, sovereign Khalistan have turned their anger and demands. India has accepted the Sikh presence as an integral part of the Indian sub-continent, absorbed as it has so many others. But a violent, fringe group of Sikh extremists keep the raging fires of anger and resentment alive, plotting conspiracies and engaging in violence.

The federal NDP notorious for its pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel stance appears to have found itself a new leader with a pro-Khalistan, anti-Indian adversarial approach such that he lends his presence and his support to the Khalistan movement, a violent one that threatens, coerces and destroys, both property and lives. Even as Jagmeet Singh condemns violence and terrorism he is present at events which plot and celebrate both. He has lent his voice to the chorus of anti-Indian sentiment.
Jagmeet Singh at a 2015 rally in San Francisco. Sikh Roots

He has attended meetings such as that of the U.K.-based National Sikh Youth Federation in London, one event titled Sovereignty and Polity, advocating for an independent Khalistan. He has deliberately refused to condemn the Sikh Canadian known to have been behind the Air India terrorist attack that killed 326 people, most of them Canadians, on a flight to India. A new video has come to light of his attendance at a rally in San Francisco calling for the creation of Khalistan.

Clips of Jagmeet Singh have been obtained with his speech before an audience relating to Sikh principles of equality and "independence, of sovereignty". Shamsher Singh of the NSYF has explained that "Sikhs do not accept that [Talwinder Singh Parmar, the Sikh Canadian known to have been the mastermind of the Air India bombing] was responsible for the Air India bombing", that Jagmeet Singh's comments indicated that he "understands the complexity of the issue", and nor "should he be criticized for his support for Khalistan or voicing his dissent against India".

An absurd assertion on the face of it, and virtually meaningless considering the source. Since elected leader of the federal NDP, Singh has refused to stand down from his position of self-determination being a basic right. The reality is that although he is leader of the NDP, and Sikhs are proud of their political smarts and that their large presence in Canada has resulted in quite a few among them being elected as Members of Parliament and chosen by the Trudeau government for Cabinet positions, it is Canadian interests and politics that should be consuming the attention of Canadian Sikhs, not their quarrels with India.

Left to right: Harwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Jagmeet Singh at an event hosted by the National Sikh Youth Federation, which advocates for an independent Khalistan.YouTube

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Russian Thugocracy

"The US seeks to use [any alleged] provocation … as a pretext to strike government areas in Damascus. We have credible information that militants are now preparing to stage the use of chemical weapons on civilians by the Syrian government forces. For this goal, the militants have brought to eastern Ghouta people, including women, children and elders, from other areas. These people have to play victims of this staged chemical attack. The White Helmets with their cameramen are already there for live broadcasts."
"A few days before the [March 18] presidential elections here, the US threatens new strikes. Some Europeans say they support it, then the UK spins this story of a killed ex-spy, blaming it on us. All of this is meant to increase pressure on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, to make his likely new presidential term look illegitimate. I guess this is how they interfere in our own elections after being unable to find proof of our interference into theirs."
Gen. Valery Gerasimov, head, Russian General Staff
Two people wait to get into the Russian Embassy as a man works to untangle the national flag flown from the Russian Embassy, after it became entangled on its staff at the embassy in London, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Britain announced Wednesday it wi
Two people wait to get into the Russian Embassy as a man works to untangle the national flag flown from the Russian Embassy, after it became entangled on its staff at the embassy in London, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Britain announced Wednesday it will expel 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War, and break off high-level contacts with the Kremlin over the nerve-agent attack on a former spy and his daughter in an English town.  (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

When attacked, counter-attack. Take all the evidence of malicious malfeasance targeting your military and spy agency, and your nation and simply turn it upside-down and inside-out and lay it on the conscience of those slandering your lily-white reputation as a peaceful, non-aggressive state simply dreadfully misunderstood and slandered by the West, but soldiering manfully on regardless. The Russian Federation has never, ever threatened its neighbours, interfered in Georgia, Ukraine or Estonia, much less bombed hospitals in Syria; slander, all of it.
"No one can come to [the Kremlin] parliament and say, 'I give Russia 24 hours' [to respond to Britain's ultimatum on the Skripal nerve gas assassination attempt]."
"One should not threaten a nuclear power. Who does Britain think it is, issuing ultimatums to a nuclear power?"
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman, Russian Foreign Ministry
The attempted assassination of the former Russian spy who aligned himself with MI6 has nothing, apparently, to do with Vladimir Putin. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are beneath President Putin's notice. Traitors to Russia, they are of no interest whatever to him and British investigators analyzing the nerve agent used to try to kill them, identifying it as a Russian military-produced nerve agent is simply incidental, and Great Britain's problem, not Russia's. 

Britain has quite a few such problems, it would seem, and another one just cropped up.

A former colleague of the dead oligarch Boris Berezovsky, 68-year-old Nikolai Glushkov, formerly head of Aeroflot, who recently stated his belief that he was placed on a Kremlin hit-list has been proven quite correct for he is now dead, found in "unexplained" circumstances, according to police. Vladimir Putin has no love for those who decry his style of statecraft; they are as much his 'rivals' as Syrian Sunnis are 'terrorists' in Bashar al Assad's playbook of vengeance.

"Strangulation marks" distinguish the manner of Mr. Glushkov's death yesterday.
Nikolai Glushkov
Nikolai Glushkov Photograph: Tass/PA Images
Special counterterrorism detectives are now on the job. Following hard on Britain's decision to institute a review of up to no fewer than fourteen deaths of expatriate Russians living in Britain who have mysteriously expired. What exactly is it about Britain that is so deadly to Russian lives? Their sudden, inexplicable and often gruesome death throes represent a puzzle waiting to be solved. One ignored heretofore in the interests of appreciation of investment in London real estate but timely given recent events and tardy realizations.

A policeman stands guard outside the house of Nikolai Glushkov. Photograph: Will Edwards/AFP/Getty Images
Police in Salisbury now say that 38 people have been treated in the wake of the nerve gas attempt at murder of the two Russians, father and daughter, basking in the belief they were free from danger living in quiet, friendly Salisbury. Now, added to the forensic tents that have appeared here and there in Salisbury, another two have popped up outside the house where the unfortunate Mr. Glushkov has lived for the past three years.

"It looks suspicious in the wake of the poisoning of Mr. Skripal. He [Glushkov] was a public figure in Russia and he was one of the closest partners of Mr. Berezovsky", explained Alex Goldfarb a Russian dissident and friend of the deceased. Mr. Glushkov had himself claimed that the hanged Mr. Berezovsky had been murdered on orders put out by Putin. "There were traces of him being strangled around the neck."

More, there appears always to be more mysterious deaths and this, another friend of both Glushkov and Berezovsky, Badri Patarkatsishvili, a 52-year-old Georgian who died in Surrey at his home, of an apparent heart attack in 2008. The man held to be the murderer of polonium-poisoned Alexander Litvinenko, Andrey Lugovoi, was once Patarkatsishvili's chauffeur and acted as security adviser to Glushkov. Yes indeed, the plot sickens as it thickens.

Andrey Lugovoi is now a member of Russian parliament, and a Putin supporter.

Notice too, that many of these people slated for unexpected deaths are Russian Jews. Evidently their unease with Vladimir Putin's governing style sat ill with Mr. Putin. Who ventured the opinion in a recent interview that perhaps it could have been Jews with Russian citizenship that have been responsible for untoward events such as suspicious deaths. Not so long ago in Russia such accusations would have led to vicious pogroms. Now they merely cap assassinations.

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