Thursday, December 12, 2019

Agreed: Huawei Has No Place in Canada's 5G Upgrade

"In the last year, Canadians have been very aware that their country and their citizens have been on the receiving end of what is an increasingly fraught diplomatic crisis with China."
"What has been different in the last year is the very tangible impact of China's actions as a result of the Meng [CEO, Huawei] arrest."
Shachi Kurl, executive director, Angus Reid Institute
An Angus Reid online poll published Wednesday says 69 per cent of respondents were against the federal government allowing Huawei from being involved in Canada's 5G wireless networks. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

"[The] triangular relationship between party, state and business is too interlocked for there to be any real independence [on the part of Chinese companies from China's government administration]."
Scott McKnight, China expert, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Toronto

"He [Xi Jinping] wants the world to revert to the kind of arrangement or the kind of mentality that prevailed in Asia back when China was the dominant power in centuries past, where everybody else was essentially a tributary to China."
Brian Lee Crowley, managing director, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Ottawa
Not that there could be much doubt in the collective Canadian opinion, given the events of the last year and subsequent news coverage beginning with the arrest a year ago in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou and the subsequent retaliatory arrest of two Canadian men on trumped-up charges of espionage and a spanner thrown on the export of Canadian agricultural products to China, while China aggressively demands the release of Meng, wanted on a U.S. extradition warrant. Insults have been flying thick from Beijing to Ottawa.

Beijing's infiltration in Canadian academic institutions, government agencies and politics at various levels and its overbearing intrusions in Canadian affairs have been widely highlighted which has inevitably  resulted in Canadian public opinion being less than generous to China. This, from a country that insists it will brook no outside interference in its internal business. The Canadian-Chinese community is divided in its loyalty to Beijing and on the opposite side, resistance to the Chinese Communist Party.

There has been pressure from China in the form of both blandishments from Huawei and threats from Beijing over Canada's indecision over giving Huawei Industries a contract to become involved in modernizing and setting up the country's 5G Internet infrastructure. The most recent poll taken by the Angus Reid Institute found that 69 percent of responders feel Ottawa should reject the bid by Huawei to be involved in the construction Canada's next-generation infrastructure.

While their inclusion would help to increase speed and capacity of mobile networking in Canada, it would also result in Huawei, closely aligned with Beijing, in helping to build the network along with Canadian partner Telus Mobility, given the opportunity to engage in cyberespionage when there is no secret that this is the goal of the Chinese administration. China has called upon all its businesses and corporations to effectively act as an arm of the government.

Poll respondents expressed fully negative views toward China generally; 66 percent hosting an "unfavourable" position compared with 51 percent in 2018, while 22 percent of respondents support efforts to increase trade ties with China, a decrease from 40 percent holding that view in 2015. Up to the last year and to the present time, the Liberal-led government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fully intended to succeed in signing a free trade agreement between Canada and China.

Some Canadians have urged Prime Minister Trudeau to engage with China in the same way China has with Canada. According to Sachi Kurl, Canadians have shouldered a more wary attitude toward China in response to its huge economic global stretch and its obvious human rights abuses; suspicions that have only intensified in the last year, in lock-step with Beijing's hostile attitude toward Canada and its efforts to 'discipline' Canada for its 'error' in arresting Ms. Meng.

Mr. McKnight at the Munk School of Global Affairs stresses that China has recently demanded of all its government institutions that the use of foreign=made computers and software be discontinued within three years, an obvious response to foreign powers who have taken to challenging Huawei's global expansion ambitions. Western allies have been warned by the United States that the Chinese tech giant should be banned from building their 5G networks for all-too-obvious security purposes.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Science Knew : Government Inaction

"It's now clear that there were two groups on the island -- those who were able to be evacuated and those who were close to the eruption."
"To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief in this moment in time and in your sorrow."
"[Reconnaissance flights have flown over the island and] no signs of life have been seen at any point."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

"My God -- my family and I had gotten off it [the island] twenty minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it."
"Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable."
Michael Schade, engineering manager, San Francisco, White Island tourist 

"The phone rang at midnight. Then I heard a voice mail come on. It was my son."
"He said, Mom ... this is not a joke."
"A volcano erupted while we [he and his new bride] were on the island. We're at the hospital with severe burns."
Janet Urey, 61, nurse, Richmond, Virginia
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years."
"Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
Ray Cas, professor emeritus, Monash University, Australia
White Island volcano
New Zealand's White Island volcano is showing increased seismic activity, putting recovery efforts on hold.  AFP

Roughly fifty kilometres from the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, immense plumes over the White Island volcanic eruption which Volcanologists judged shot 12,000 feet into the air, were visible from the mainland. The GeoNet science agency which operates the rim cameras and monitors volcanoes and earthquakes in New Zealand, on November 18 had raised the alert level on White Island from one to two. The agency had noted an increase in sulphur dioxide gas originating from magma deep in the volcano.

They warned that the island "may be entering a period where eruptive activity is more likely than normal."

Over the previous weeks, the volcanic tremor presaging violent activity had increased from weak to moderate strength. Knowing all this, it is beyond strange that the New Zealand government took no preventive action, cautioning tour operators to hold off on conveying tourists to the popular tour spot, and if it was determined that those businesses, concerned over their profitability, hesitated to take the caution seriously, they should have been given due notice that they would be held responsible should a tragedy of this magnitude occur.

Helicopter covered in ash on White Island, 9 December
An ash-covered helicopter on the island as the eruption took place Michael Schade

The popular tourist area on the island holds an active volcano which last erupted in 2016. An active volcano with signals that activity has increased and the probability of an eruption seems likely, is no place for dozens of people to be milling about, climbing to the rim of the volcano itself, however spectacular that view is. People who approach the island as tourists reason, understandably enough, that they would never be permitted to make that trip if the government itself didn't feel it was safe. Obviously, they were wrong.

In the hour before the eruption, groups of people were captured on a crater rim camera walking toward and then away from the rim within the crater, where white vapour was billowing. The camera captures a group of people at 2 p.m. right at the volcano edge. Ten minutes later the group heads away from the rim, tracking along a well-worn path across the crater. In another minute the volcano erupts and those people who showed up on the camera footage are all assumed to have perished.

Forty-seven people were on the island, exploring its geology on Monday when the eruption occurred, five of whom have been confirmed dead, eight missing and feared dead, according to police. The first to be identified among the dead was an experienced guide for White Island Tours, Hayden Marshall-Inman. New Zealand's prime minister expressed appreciation for the selfless emergency response of first responders who went out in "extraordinarily dangerous circumstances" hoping to rescue people.

Thirty-one of those they succeeded in rescuing are in hospital, while three were discharged; the injuries are all the result of burns, with some of those injured in critical condition. New Zealanders and tourists from Australia, the United States, Britain, China and Malaysia are among those listed as missing, or among the injured. Between 30 to 38 people were visitors from the Ovation of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship; twenty of the cruise guests were on the island at the time of eruption.
“We heard they [emergency services] were not coming to the island [given the extreme danger]."
“It’s their decision. I wasn’t involved in that. We just took care of our business [and flew in]."
"We found people dead, dying and alive but in various states of unconsciousness."
"It would take 20 minutes to get [back] out there. We know where they [dead bodies] are."
"Then we could bring them home."
Mark Law, 48, commercial helicopter pilot

"We interpret these signals as evidence of continued high gas pressures within the volcano."
"The situation remains highly uncertain as to future activity. Eruptions in the next 24 hours are still likely to occur."
GeoNet seismic monitoring agency  

"There is a high level of uncertainty associated with this estimate and we are working to reduce that uncertainty."
"We also estimate the least likely scenario is a larger eruption."
GeoNet volcanologist Geoff Kilgour
White Island

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lacking Judgement, Sacrificing Lives

"Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. [The incident] was really, really bad."
"[Stopping them by any means -- even with bullets -- was] absolutely the right thing to do."
"In a situation like this, the police are reactve. This is not a situation they want to be in. Their hand was forced."
David Klinger, criminal justice professor, University of Missouri, St.Louis

"We don't always have to be the warrior. Sometimes we have to understand that retreating is OK. You don't always have to get the bad guy."
"[The video was] one of the most tragic [she has seen]. Yes, the suspects are responsible, absolutely, but we are also responsible for every single round that went toward innocent bystanders."
"Each one of them had the potential to kill someone."
Heather Taylor, homicide sergeant, president, Ethical Society of Police, St.Louis
Shootout in Florida leaves four dead

This was a violent episode that happened to be recorded on live television where dozens of police officers with drawn weapons swarmed a UPS truck that had been hijacked. The truck was stuck, crowded in the centre of rush-hour traffic at a busy intersection in south Florida. Two men suspected of armed robbery were in the truck, along with the truck driver whom they had taken hostage. All the while police officers continued to take shots at the truck, bystanders were trapped helplessly in their cars, alongside the truck.

At its conclusion four people were left dead, the two hijackers, the UPS driver, 27 years of age, and a 70-year-old man idling at the light at the intersection, while waiting for it change so he could proceed to make his way home after work. U.S. national news circulated video of the event, and viewers and social media alike questioned the manner in which the event unfolded in the midst of a crowd of homebound traffic at rush hour, with police feeling it perfectly suitable to shoot at suspects, endangering innocent civilians.

ups-truck-shootout-florida-wsvn-via-nns.png
Police surround a UPS truck in South Florida December 5, 2019. WSVN-TV via NNS

The family of the young UPS driver minced no words, that it was the height of irresponsibility, a total lack of professionalism for the police involved to exchange fire in such a crowded environment, packed with vulnerable people where the potential for inadvertent death and injury was palpable. The police do have their defenders who feel they had little option but to react as they did, confronting a deadly threat. Would the two criminals have murdered the UPS driver, or allowed him to go, unscathed? No one can ever know.

UPS driver Frank Ordonez  killed  Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019
FACEBOOK

Unknown is who it was that fired the shots that killed Frank Ordonez, the UPS driver and the elderly man Richard Cutshaw,  whose vehicle was idling at the light. Where the bullets were fired from, and how many went flying around the scene. According to Professor Klinger, given the chaotic episode and its calamitous conclusion it represented "a perfect example" why police are permitted to use deadly force against dangerous criminals, given that Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill had a trail of violence left behind them that fateful evening.

It was originally a high-speed chase through two counties that interrupted residents' rush hour commute home. A Miami-area jewellery store was the focus of the two men's actions, which triggered a silent alarm, and where a female store employee had been injured while the two would-be robbers and the store owner exchanged fire. The gunmen sped north in a truck, commandeering the UPS truck as the driver was making deliveries. That's when a number of police cars sped after the UPS truck, the driver trapped inside.

Officers surrounded the truck when it became boxed in by traffic. The interpretation that homicide sergeant Heather Taylor arrived at, as she viewed the video footage was of police refusing to retreat, preferring to place innocent civilians in jeopardy because of their ill-thought-out decision. Officers could have engaged the robbers when a clearer opportunity presented itself as far as she was concerned, instead of opening fire in the crowded intersection.

An FBI official at the scene of a shooting, Thursday in Miramar, Fla. Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed in the shootout between the armed robbers and police authorities.
Brynn Anderson/AP

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Monday, December 09, 2019

Canadian Liberal Scruples

"It's just easier not to rock the boat when the crowd is all going one way. It's hard to be the only one going the other direction. But standing alone on behalf of American interests and values is not something to be embarrassed by."
"Standing alone for freedom and human dignity is something to be proud of. In America we don't celebrate the mob. We celebrate the person who has the courage and conviction to stand up to the mob."
"Now we're seeing an example of this cultural corruption playing out in real time."
"...Canada is now seeking one of the rotating two-year seats on the Security Council. It faces a vote in the General Assembly. Two weeks ago, Canada surprised Israel's friends by voting for a North Korean resolution that challenges the legitimacy of Israel. This is a resolution that Canadian governments for years have voted against."
"One observer said Canada is making a 'Faustian bargain', trading its integrity for a seat on the Security Council."
"I speak from experience when I say the United Nations presents many such opportunities to strike a deal with the devil."
Nikki Haley, former American Ambassador to the United Nations
Nikki Haley discusses future political aspirations, urges 'Anonymous' author to come forward
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, author of the new book 'With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace'

Speaking as a special guest of U.N.Watch in New York at a gala event, Nikki Haley was as frank as usual, emphasizing loyalty and principles. Her performance as the American representative to the United Nations was both principled and loyal to democratic values which recognized the State of Israel as a democratic ally in the Middle East, one whose right to exist is unqualified, yet which must be ever on alert to forestall deadly attacks against its citizens. Its neighbours, Palestinians and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority have never stopped contesting Israel's legitimacy and inciting violent attacks against Israeli citizens.

Israel, long isolated and threatened in the Middle East, surrounded by hostile Islamic countries ruled by despots, royalty and oil sheikdoms had never had the luxury of relaxing its vigilance against an unending series of conflicts, both state-sponsored all-out wars and ongoing militant attacks by those non-state militias recognized by civilized nations as terrorist groups. Making it all the more vital to Israel that sister-democracies of the Western world in North America and Europe support her right to exist as a normal country whose legitimacy goes unchallenged.

Until recently, until the advent of the Liberal-led government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau so wedded to his Lib-left 'progressive' values, Canada has for the most part been one of the stalwart supporters of Israel; never more so than under the previous Conservative-led administration of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Last month the Liberal government leading Canada into its second term performed a radical about-face.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at the UN Security Council September 24, 2014. Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird listens in at left. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
That government saw fit to vote 'yes' for a resolution named "The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination", which had been sponsored by North Korea, Egypt Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and the "State of Palestine". This nascent state has done all it possibly could within the United Nations and internationally by a massive public relations campaign aided and abetted by expatriate Palestinians to infiltrate its corridors beyond observer status, leveraging itself as a 'state-in-waiting' to be given full accreditation.

This is the Palestinian Authority agenda, to marginalize Israel wherever it can, through casting doubt on its legitimacy, through claiming that Israel's military 'occupies' the West Bank and Gaza, victimizing Palestinians, while Palestinian Arabs are enjoined to 'resist' the 'occupation' by launching violent attacks against Israeli civilians, and are paid handsomely to respond to that incitement. Dedicated to declaring themselves 'victims' and 'refugees', the PA exists on foreign handouts making no effort to become self-reliant and self-supporting.

Through a campaign of global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, the PA has portrayed itself and its citizens as suffering under the heel of a repressive, violent neighbour, when in fact Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank can thank their leaders for the repressed, violent and oppressive states they live under which blame Israel. In the United Nations the non-aligned nations and the voting bloc of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation can be relied upon to support the 'State of Palestine' and to slander and isolate Israel.
Hillel Neuer @HillelNeuer
Trudeau is trading Canada's bedrock principles of fairness & equality for a UN Security Council seat. By voting for a resolution co-sponsored by North Korea & Zimbabwe, he has entered a Faustian bargain with dictatorships that does not bode well for a free & democratic society.
It is these groups with their detestation of Western values that the government of Justin Trudeau on behalf of Canada has chosen to ally itself with, all in the hope of receiving votes to elect Canada to the rotating arm of the Security Council. Justin Trudeau made the decision to abandon its support for Israel which under his administration has had little depth to begin with, to vote for the resolution sponsored by some of the world's most corrupt and notorious human-rights offenders.

Flags at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Damzou, Wikipedia

In so doing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau felt entitled to call for an end "to the Israeli occupation" and once again assaulted Canada's southern neighbour by defending the statement's description of the United States, Canada's neighbour, trading partner and reliable defender as "the occupying Power". Anyone else would feel shame, be contrite, apologize and explain it was all an error in judgement of which he is notoriously guilty at the best of times.

Not Justin Trudeau, for he is infallible and no criticism can ever come his way, over the many instances of his lavish displays of contempt for others he considers his lessers, of negligence in decision-making that borders on the illegal, despite a number of formal disciplinary actions holding him to account, and not for the countless instances of misjudgement where his theatrical, juvenile stunts have embarrassed the Canadian community.
"If we want to talk about security in the Middle East, we should talk about Iran or Syria or Hezbollah or Hamas or ISIS or the famine in Yemen."
"There are about ten major problems facing the Middle East, and Israel doesn’t have anything to do with any of them."
Nikki Haley

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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Sincerity vs Blind Spots

"We pay particular attention to anti-Semitism, which threatens Jewish life in Germany, in Europe and beyond."
"Being here today and speaking to you as German chancellor is anything but easy for me. I am deeply ashamed of the barbaric crimes perpetrated here by Germans -- crimes that transcend the limits of all things."
"In horror at what has been done to women, men and children in this place, you have to be silent ... And  yet silence must not be our only answer. This place obliges us to keep the memory alive."
"We need to remember the crimes that were committed here."
"Remembering the crimes, naming the perpetrators, and giving the victims a dignified commemoration, that is a responsibility that does not end."
"It is not negotiable, and it is inseparable from our country. Being aware of this responsibility is an integral part of our national identity."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Auschwitz, Poland
Angela Merkel in Auschwitz-Birkenau
Mrs Merkel acknowledged the rise of anti-Semitism in her country  EPA

It is difficult to assess Frau Merkel's sentiments as anything less than genuinely felt and expressed. Her mournfully expressed feeling of remorse in reproaching the National Socialist government of Germany for its persecution of Jews and its leap from threat toward full-scale genocidal success leaving present-day Germany a legacy of blood and tears -- not Germany's, but those of the survivors of the massive destruction of European Jewry during the Holocaust -- cannot be faulted for sincerity.

What can and should be faulted is her immense blind spot. That opening Germany like the insatiable maw of a Black Hole in the firmament of the globe to absorb millions of Muslims as immigrants, economic migrants, refugees escaping the murderous conflicts of Islamic countries has left the vulnerable German-Jewish population to the mercies of a psychopathic force as determined and blood-thirsty as the Third Reich to destroy the lives of Jews.

'That responsibility that does not end' has been forgotten in the more current climate of responding to the perceived urgency of opening the gates of haven for hordes of North Africans, West Asians and Middle Easterners searching for a more promising future, but bringing along with them the baggage that Islam has bestowed them with, of suspicion, hatred and violence toward other religions, societies and minority groups.

That 'not negotiable' responsibility has been set aside, even as Frau Merkel and other Germans of good conscience are witness to the recurrence of the Nazi ideal in Germany among Germans, and the plight of German Jews walking a tightrope of existential fear between hard-core fascists and left-wing 'progressives', having much, very much in common with the jihad that demands the endless murder of Jews, held to be unworthy of life.

So while sending a 'warning about rising anti-Semitism' to the world at large as though her personal compassion and her dedication to justice and human rights from that very special perspective that is her own, to put the world on notice that Jews urgently require protection from the same murderous forces that once decimated their population, she is handmaid to the forces she decries.

Merkel, Morawiecki and the Auschwitz museum director Piotr Cywinski walk past the "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate in the former Nazi death camp.
Merkel, Morawiecki and the Auschwitz museum director Piotr Cywinski walk past the "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate in the former Nazi death camp.

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Another German Final Solution

"We fundamentally reject illegal migration. We also reject allowing smuggling gangs to decide who will live in Europe."
"We reject quotas and I am surprised that this issue has once again returned to the negotiating table."
"I hope that the new European Commission will put a stop to this."
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš

"The V4's [Visegrád Four: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia] position is clear. We are not willing to admit any illegal migrants into central Europe. The success and security of central Europe is thanks to our pursuit of a firm anti-migration policy, and this will endure."
"This is why central Europe is one of the most successful regions of the European Union today, and its engine of growth. We do not tolerate any kind of pressure and we Hungarians insist on our right to decide whom to allow into our country and with whom we wish to live." 
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó
At a refu­gee camp north of Athens, families seeking asylum live in makeshift housing, with tarps thrown over plywood. (Myrto Papadopoulos for The Washington Post)
At a refu­gee camp north of Athens, families seeking asylum live in makeshift housing, with tarps thrown over plywood. (Myrto Papadopoulos for The Washington Post)
Members of the European Union notwithstanding, countries of Eastern and Central Europe have repeatedly refused to absorb their allocated 'share' of illegal migrants and refugees that have inundated Europe for the past few years. They have stated time and again that they will not surrender their territory, their culture, their heritage, their rule of law to the presence of people they have not themselves selected to become part of their society, mostly based on the future welfare of their own countries.

It is no secret that migrants reaching out for economic opportunities or to escape the ravages of conflict and oppression, repression and poverty often hail from societies and religious backgrounds that make them unfit for transition to European values, laws and social life. In very most particular refugees hailing from countries where Islam has a monopoly on peoples' lives find it difficult to adjust to religion playing a minor role in peoples' lives.

And it is increasingly understood, given the experience of countries such as Belgium, France and Great Britain that once a certain weight in the influx of immigrants reaches a critical point, Islamic values, not commensurate with the values and priorities of the West, of democratic states, or of European heritage, become an issue with the insistence by established Muslim groups that they be given equal status to prevailing values in the society of their adopted countries; integration of Muslims is never assured into the indigenous culture.

Germany, having historically indulged in a murderous genocidal spree that led to the slaughter of six million European Jews in a program to rid the world of a sub-human pestilence, now has absorbed six million Muslims as immigrants, refugees and migrants, and has done so willingly. That this move has proven to imperil the status of German Jews returned to live in harmony and trust with fellow citizens appears to have occurred to German authorities as an unfortunate afterthought.

German authorities, if not the German public as a whole, remain committed to absorbing migrants and illegal entrants to Europe. That doing so only encourages others from Africa, the Middle East and West Asia to continue making the perilous journey to Europe, afflicts Italy and Greece with unwelcome numbers flooding their nations. Germany has always, as one of the most influential members of the European Union, insisted that other EU countries must accept a fair quota of illegal migrants.

Central and Eastern European countries have resisted that order, however, and it is hardly likely they will reverse their well-considered decision not to accede to the EU demand. Now, German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer has a new plan meant to reform the asylum system in Europe a draft of which has been leaked, indicating that all EU member states will -- if the plan is accepted, and all indications of the past events indicate it will -- be expected and required to absorb illegal migrants.

A volunteer helps a young boy following a sea rescue operation near the Greek island of Lesbos on Nov. 27.
 A sea rescue operation near Lesbos on Nov. 27. Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images


Mandatory relocations do not sit well with certain countries who note that the unilateral imposition of migrant quotas has the effect of overriding decisions made by dissenting countries' governments. Unelected bureaucrats in Brussels are telling governments of EU states what and how they must respond to EU initiatives. The entire and continuing debate over migration has hit a sore note, leading to the questioning of European federalism, much less the degree to which the EU feels it can be justified in usurping powers in decision-making from 28 member-countries.

The plan to reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is meant to be presented to the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels where she is expected to reveal her own migration proposals in February 2020, preceding Germany's six-month European Council presidency in July2020. It looks as though the impending presidency role has already gone to Mr. Seehofer's head with his intention to once again cause an uproar in the European Union, tangling with countries which have no wish to emulate Germany in embracing illegal migrants.


An armed Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat after the interception of 147 migrants attempting to reach Europe near the coastal town of Zawiyah on June 27, 2017.
An armed Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat after the interception of 147 migrants attempting to reach Europe near the coastal town of Zawiyah on June 27, 2017. TAHA JAWASHI/AFP via Getty Images

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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Neither Face Very Commendable

"At a time when Canada needs strong relationships more than ever, Justin Trudeau's poor judgement, lack of professionalism and love of drama continues to weaken Canada's position on the world stage."
"We saw this just yesterday at the NATO summit."
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Parliamentary Opposition

"He's not paying two percent and he should be paying two percent. It's Canada. They have money and they should be paying two percent [in military preparedness]. So I called him out on that and I'm sure he wasn't happy about that, but that's the way it is."
"And honestly, with Trudeau he's a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy but you know the truth is, that I called him out on the fact that he's not paying two percent and I guess he's not very happy about it. [Canada is] slightly delinquent."
"Trudeau is two-faced."
U.S. President Donald J. Trump

"I think he hit a nerve. If you look a the tape and you look at the reaction, it was hard not to think about high school where you have the two good-looking rich guys gossiping about the big powerful other guy."
"The relationship is deeper and has guardrails around it, in a sense, that doesn't allow that sort of stuff to happen easily [actual damaging fall-out or related consequences]."
Eric Miller, global fellow, Canada Institute, Wilson Centre, Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Winfield House, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in London. (The Associated Press)

As a judge of good character it's hard to credit President Trump with a keen objective sense of what even constitutes good character. He is not himself an example by any means. And he's cut Justin Trudeau a lot of slack; generous to a fault. But it is a faulty conclusion. He's not a nice guy by any means, but rather a pretentious, egotistical, vain, entitled charlatan. Oops, that is Trudeau, but those traits also echo Trump, so little wonder he approves of the former's persona.

There were serious issues to be discussed at the NATO conference, even if it purported to be a celebration and consolidation of its 70 years of international cooperation among NATO allies. One issue that failed to pass the test of serious consideration was the appropriateness of Turkey's half-century of membership that might have been countenanced when it was an Ataturkian-secularist-reform-governed proto-democracy, an entirely different administration than the current Islamist autocracy headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey now shares none of the concerns of NATO. Its ruling Justice and Development Party, which proves more than adequately that words have lost their intrinsic meaning to be manipulated by tyrants and autocrats to serve their personal purposes, has an agenda that is abhorrent for many reasons to other NATO members. With the sad exception of the U.S. whose president gravitates happily to strongmen since he models himself as one. Turkey's membership in NATO, an unspoken grievance by many members, should be under discussion.

Emmanuel Macron was a little precipitate in declaring NATO 'brain dead' on the basis of having been abandoned by Trump, whose volatile, puzzling and intemperate statements and choices have suddenly resurrected U.S. interest in NATO. Donald Trump imagines himself the elder statesman of NATO by virtue of his powerful country's having created the union as a bulwark against the-then Cold War with the Soviet Union and its powerful Eastern European bloc. As the most influential, wealthiest country on the globe, he is conferred with exceptional status.

His pique is spontaneous, his decision-making lacking deep knowledge to guide him, his arrogance is monumental, and defying the man when for a change he has a legitimate point to make in holding other NATO members to the agreed-upon pact all made to spend 2 percent of GDP to acquiring and sustaining a robust national military complete with military hardware in the interests of unity and a reliable military capacity both singly and collectively in an increasingly unsettled world order, can be given the respect it deserves.

When President Trump chastised Prime Minister Trudeau for Canada's lack of commitment to acquiring adequate military hardware, and for failing to live up to its troop-number commitment to NATO, he had a legitimate point to make in urging Canada to follow the example of less-wealthy NATO members who do take their commitment seriously. That Justin Trudeau was incapable of responding like a mature adult and chose instead to mock the president of the United States speaks to a monumental failure on Trudeau's part in representing the best interests of the country he governs.

Choosing to behave like an adolescent rather than an adult to anticipate the frisson of pleasure he would experience in making himself yet again the centre of amused attention by his political international peers, he once more disgraced himself, pandering to his theatrical, drama-princeling aptitude and greed to be the centre of notice, while enjoying the opportunity to laugh at someone he grovels before in face-to-face contact.

On the other hand, Trudeau happened to be in the company of heads of government who chose themselves to behave like adolescent clowns. It is most unfortunate, but Trump seems to have this effect on people who consider themselves to be superior to a man whose manners and values are deplorable and in their distaste for him and choosing to demean the man who holds the position of the most powerful man on Earth, however temporarily, they more or less reflect some of his unsavoury attributes....

PM Justin Trudeau, France's Emmanuel Macron, UK PM Boris Johnson and other VIPs shared a few words at a Buckingham Palace reception Tuesday - and seemed to be talking about U.S. President Donald Trump's lengthy impromptu press conferences earlier in the day.  CBC

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Where There's Wildfire There's Chaos

"We're all feeling it."
"As fire seasons ramp up and get longer -- and they definitely seem to be doing that, the science tells us that -- it places more demand on aircraft to support the firefighting. And it's only one part of the equation." 
"I suspect we're all becoming more nervous. We're keeping a watchful eye on it."
Richard Alder, general manager, National Aerial Firefighting Center, Australia

"It's coming from all over."
"Fires are affecting climates and places they never used to affect."
John E. Gould, head, 10 Tanker

"[That has forced firefighting] to be a global effort, not a state or national effort."
"It's not just a firefighting issue. We need to be more critical of our planning decisions. We need to examine building in bush-fire-prone areas."
"People love living in the bush, but as the bush is becoming more vulnerable, is that viable?"
Stuart Ellis, chief executive, Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council
People view smoke from bushfires in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, on Wednesday. NSW is suffering its worst period of air pollution on record, while Qld faces a renewed fire threat and similar smoke pollution. Photograph: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Timely observation, that last one. Was it not at one time taken for granted that building and living in weather-sensitive areas like floodplains prone to flooding, and areas surrounded by dry bush were susceptible to disaster, making life at times very interesting for the people who insist on spectacular natural views? Municipalities were given to refusing permits to build on these areas that had the potential to pose great danger when nature's plans were up-ended.

Now fire seasons have been extended, and when wildfires erupt they are hotter and tend to burn faster and spread speedily and effortlessly. Within days of the last fires to hit California, major fires erupted in Sydney, Australia. Countries that once managed their wildfires not needing outside assistance now see themselves inviting firefighters from abroad to join their battle.

Chile, Bolivia and Cyprus competed for plane and helicopter contracts to cope with their intensifying fires, stretching capacity for companies specializing in firefighting aircraft contracting, increasing worldwide anxiety for local fire officials. Scientists have declared that the age of fire has struck, systems designed to contain regional wildfires are pushed to their limits. Residents whose homes become endangered demand assistance from the air, not satisfied with mere ground-fighting.

A firefighter with an extinguisher in his hand fights a blaze in NSW
Fire crews are battling to manage blazes ahead of predicted heat  Getty Images

A reserve fund was created by the European Union this year to aid in contracting for firefighting aircraft for deployments across national borders. The only Boeing 747 water bomber in the world was leased by Bolivia to fight Amazon fires in August. That plane had been deployed in 2015 in Israel, Chile in 2017 and California in 2018. South Korea has inquired with firefighting companies such as 10 Tanker Air Carrier in New Mexico, and Indonesia borrowed an Australian air tanker from Coulson Aviation in Canada.

These companies are now looking to double the size of their fire-fighting contract fleets, while looking to encounter year-long world blazes. In Australia, the country has become a test case of dry-climate runaway wildfires. Arid and expansive, its large cities sprawling into wilderness areas, the country is particularly susceptible to wildfires, all the more so with a sharp shift in precipitation events leading to lengthy droughts, to exacerbate natural defences.

Specialists from Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are among those assisting in Australia.
Specialists from Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are assisting in Australia.

Forests become tinderboxes awaiting sparks in the wake of fewer rain events where traditionally dry areas simply become drier as time goes on. Over a thousand firefighters battled over 120 blazes in four states in the last few weeks where in some areas no rainfall of any significance is expected into the new year. Overlapping and intensified demands worldwide have become the stuff of nightmares for fire officials around the world.

When super blazes quickly spread with powerful winds, the best plans of countering them by ground crews or aircraft come to nothing. Supercharged winds burned the town of Paradise, California last year, when water bombers were unable to drop payloads, shoved too high for practical use by the prevailing winds. Fire management costs and aircraft use have led to soaring costs. Chile spent three times more on firefighting from 2014 to 2018 than the previous five years.

All of the large air tankers the U.S. Forest Service plans to use through to 2022 are from private contractors. The worse it may become for Australia the more that fires surge into the fall for California, when time-sharing of fire-fighting resources become critical through shortages and prior contracting-out, even as planes are being modified for greater effectiveness, such as the 737 fireliner that carries 15,000 liters of liquid that California just bought.

Tiny silhouette of a firefighter framed against a wall of flame in the Wollemi National Park fire north-west of Sydney on 19 November 2019
Fires continue to burn across New South Wales and Queensland  EPA

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Worlds Apart : Empathy Vs Hatred

"She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people."
"She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge."
Family of Saskia Jones, 23, Cambridge graduate
"[He was a man who] lived his principles."
"He believed in redemption and rehabilitation,l not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog."
Family of Jack Merritt, 25, Cambridge graduate
Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones
Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were both involved with the Learning Together programme, which was holding an event when the attack took place  Met Police

Two idealists who believed that goodness prevailed, one had only to give those whose social deviance and bitter hatreds and violence marked them for punishment -- by society where justice prevails to ensure peace, safety and security for its citizens -- due sympathetic consideration for a 'second chance' through opportunities of rehabilitation. They decided to devote themselves, both philosophy students who graduated their elite courses strengthening a personal resolve to guide malefactors toward a place within society once their sentence was served, where they could live a normal life.

Giving offenders another chance to redeem their lives. Exposing them to a re-education opportunity that would not blame them for their previous choices, but which was meant to gently guide them to the light of personal responsibility and acceptance of differences in the world, that need not invoke in them the rage of vituperative violence in support of an ideology of hatred and murder. And such a trusting enterprise does have its appeal. Mostly to those incapable of fully ingesting that human beings could find satisfaction in a release of hatred with intent to harm others.

Who might have imagined in the darkest of thoughts that the very twisted minds that they sought to straighten out and welcome back to the bosom of a trusting society would plan instead to target the very two young idealists whose sincerity could not be doubted, that their caring expressions of acceptance and guidance would guide a man whom Britain's justice system permitted to serve a fraction of a sentence for terrorism would prefer to take their lives than surrender his to their ideals.

Floral tributes are left for Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, who were killed in a terror attack, on December 2, 2019 in London, England. Usman Khan, a 28 year old former prisoner convicted of terrorism offences, killed two people in Fishmongers' Hall at the North end of London Bridge on Friday, November 29, before continuing his attack on the bridge.   Peter Summers/Getty Images

Central London seems to attract Islamist jihadists. A lively, busy scene where the presence of many busy, distracted people could always be expected, and where maximum damage could accrue should plans be carried out with precision and determination. One wonders, did the bright lights at Cambridge confer with the Norwegian authorities on the success rate of their rehabilitation program for mass murderers?

Ms.Jones volunteered with the Cambridge project, Learning Together, prepared to put her master's degree in philosophy to good use. She also aspired to a recruitment program for police as a victim support specialist. A warm, determined and dedicated young woman, described by friends as such, devoted to the idea that prison inmates should not be deprived of opportunities to reform and in so doing build a personal foundation for a productive life. Placing her thoughts and her values in the minds of those who had no such thoughts and values.

Mr. Merritt, a program coordinator with the program worked with Learning Together, bringing to it his own Cambridge master's of philosophy. Had they lived to reconsider would they have? The man who killed them both, Usman Khan, 28, member of a terrorist group with al-Qaeda affiliation was given a 16-year sentence for his part in planning to plant explosives in the London Stock Exchange. On early release after serving eight years, his allegiance switched from al-Qaeda to Islamic State, so he did make choices, but not to reverse his own ideals in the imperative of jihad.

At his trial, the presiding judge had warned that this Islamist terrorist, Pakistan-born living in Britain, still could pose a threat of violence to the public. And how right was that perception. The attack he indulged in that killed the two believers in the essential goodness residing in all people, that only had to be teased out, and injuring three other bystanders caused great consternation and mourning in London, and a sense of celebratory fulfillment among those Islamists whose hatred of the West is a monument of raging civilizational dysfunction.

Emergency vehicles in London Bridge
The family of London Bridge attacker Usman Khan have said they are "saddened and shocked" by what happened and "totally condemn his actions".  AFP


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