Monday, April 23, 2018

The Neutrality of the United Nations, of UNRWA, of Canada

"Obviously if you're a United Nations agency that is supposed to be politically neutral -- political neutrality is actually written into UNRWA's mandate -- and yet you're teaching on one side of the conflict that the other side of the conflict is going to inevitably lose and be destroyed and they should just keep fighting until it happens, that's very problematic."
"We would like to see Canada and the other Western donor countries work harder to end these problems with UNRWA."
"We think that especially at a time like this, when UNRWA is more desperate for money because of the American decision to cut some of the funding, that Canada and other Western donor countries should be banding together to demand change and to make sure that this money isn't being dumped into a bottomless pit of grievance and perpetuating the conflict."
Aiden Fishman, spokesperson, B'nai Brith Canada

"[UN Watch reported Canada's Global Affairs has] glossed over specific allegations against UNRWA, claiming that they were unfounded or had been addressed, without explaining why or how."
"There is copious evidence of Hamas rockets and military accessories being sheltered in the same UNRWA schools and health clinics which Canada is funding."
"[The] openly toxic [school] curriculum [promotes and glorifies terror against Israel]."
Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian ambassador to Israel
Palestinian youths jump through rings of fire during a military-style graduation ceremony after being trained at one of the Hamas-run Liberation Camps in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. Hamas's armed wing organized Liberation Youths Camps for young Palestinians aged between 15 and 21 to prepare them to ''confront any possible Israeli attack'', Hamas officials said. According to organizers, some 17,000 youths graduated from these camps.
More than six months after the end of the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian organisation relaunched Liberation Youth Camps for boys aged between 15 and 21.
Picture: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
It is beyond question that among teachers hired by UNRWA to teach in their schools anti-Semitism runs rampant. The curricula and the textbooks teach children that their highest aspirations should be 'resistance' against the 'occupation'. And the occupation is, in reality, any Jewish presence on Palestinian 'Arab land'. That no Jews in antiquity ever lived in the Middle East, and their presence is that of colonialists.

Of the estimated 750,000 Arab Palestinians that fled previous to the march on Israel of five Arab nation militaries intent on destroying the nascent state in 1948, UNRWA now counts five million Palestinians as refugees listed under its agency. The schools it operates in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria all use textbooks that paint the presence of Jews as an affront to Islam and a threat to peace.

Princeton scholar Arnon Groiss conducted a review in February of those textbooks and in them were found descriptions of Jews as aides of the devil, that no Jewish and historical religious links with Jerusalem ever existed, and the entirety of Israel is described as "occupied Palestine". All of which draw Palestinian children into the pathology of regarding the complete elimination of Israel as the solution to the current conflict between Jews and Arabs.

As for its part, Global Affairs Canada states: "Canada supports UNRWA in its ongoing efforts to improve neutrality within the Agency and its operations. Canadian funding has allowed UNRWA to engage a neutrality coordinator to monitor activities related to neutrality, lead the development of neutrality initiatives, respond to allegations of neutrality violations, and uphold UNRWA's neutrality."

Since Hamas authors the UNRWA curriculum in Gaza, as an example, and given that the Hamas charter clearly states its objective as the destruction of the State of Israel, it is hardly surprising that their school textbooks reflect their aspiration. Funding of UNRWA and the Palestinians also funds summer camps where young Palestinians are taught how to be effective fighters; their goal to kill Jews. So much for the U.N. values of 'human rights, tolerance, equality' etc.

As for neutrality on the part of the current Liberal-led Government of Canada, what to make of the just-concluded federal Liberal convention where the presence of Amin El-Maoued, the Head of Public Relations of the Palestine House appeared to reflect this government's penchant for allying itself with those of questionable reputation, just as an invitation had gone out to a Sikh-Canadian convicted of terrorism in the attempted murder of an Indian MP to an event along with Justin Trudeau on his India trip.
April 20, 2018 - Amin El-maoued met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and MP Iqra Khalid. Photo: Facebook
On this occasion, Amin El-Maoued, invited to attend the Liberal convention, when previously he and
Iqra Khalid, the MP who had introduced the "Islamophobia" motion (Motion 103) in Parliament last year had met with Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna for the annual Land Day event held by the Palestine House on April 15, 2015 in Mississauga, Ontario. Archbishop Hanna supports the Syrian regime.

He also supports the Palestinian intifada. He has posted on his Facebook page: "President Assad is a distinct Arab national person and history will record the name of this great leader who worked to foil the conspiracy against the state of Syria with the Arab Syrian Army and all the suns of the Syrian people ... President Assad is not a murderer or a butcher as some say and circulate.... We emphasize our solidarity with Syria, its President, government, people and army." 

Hello, Canada! Which values is your government lauding today?

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rare and Tragic

"That's why they call it an explosive decompression. It is extremely forceful. The differential in pressure, it's very, very significant."
"There's a fog that comes into the cabin. Papers, bags, coats, jackets, everything will head to the breach in the fuselage."
Nora Marshall, former National Transportation Safety Board investigator

"It's instantaneous and it's sustained over a period of time until the pressure inside the aircraft is equal to the pressure outside of the aircraft."
Richard Healing, former NTSB board member, president, Air Safety Engineering
This is the window that was shattered after a jet engine of a Southwest Airlines 737 blew out at altitude, resulting in the death of a woman who was nearly sucked of the plane on April 17. (Marty Martinez)
This is the window that was shattered after a jet engine of a Southwest Airlines 737 blew out at altitude, resulting in the death of a woman who was nearly sucked of the plane on April 17. (Marty Martinez)

The retired nurse, Peggy Phillips, who was among the three people on board Southwest Flight 1380 on Tuesday who courageously attempted to come to the aid of the unfortunate 43-year-old window-side passenger Jennifer Riordan whom a tremendous windstorm of pressure pulled out of her seat and through the shattered window of the Boeing 737-700 when one of its fans malfunctioned and an engine exploded, described what she had witnessed.

"Her seat belt was keeping her held down at the hips. The rest of her was outside the plane", said Ms. Phillips, a retired nurse on the flight. The horribly unfortunate victim's upper body was being violently flung against the plane's fuselage until the concerted effort of the three passengers succeeded in drawing her body back into the plane where they attempted to save her life, providing CPR.

The fan blade on the left engine, weakened by metal fatigue, and which was supposed to have been routinely tested according to the manufacturer's directions, but put on hold, broke loose, the result being engine debris flying everywhere and cracking the plane's window open beside Ms. Riordan's seat, where the immense pressure sucked her halfway out of the plane.

Cabin pressure is a vital issue which took decades for aircraft manufacturers to perfect, to deal with the enormous forces when a pressurized cabin reaches high altitudes. On their way to finding the solution the de Havilland Comet in the 1950s saw three planes and their passengers and crews destroyed over a period of a year when the stresses of pressurization on the square windows caused the fuselages to rupture.

There have been previous occasions when such catastrophic events occurred, when a man was pulled completely through the 10.5-inch by 16-inch opening to his death, even though another passenger made a Herculean effort to pull him back. An American Airlines plane flying at 11,750- feet above Ontario with 67 people aboard, saw its cargo door come off in 1972 but while the loss of pressure in the cargo hold collapsed part of the cabin floor the pilot was able to make an emergency landing and 11 people were injured, but no one died.

Planes flying at high altitudes rely on pressurized air in their cabin to enable people to breathe normally. M.I.T. aerospace professor John Hansman estimated the air flowing outside Southwest Flight 1380 would have generated from 800 to 1,000 pounds of force, more than sufficient to pull Jennifer Riordan out of the plane. She died of blunt impact trauma to the head, neck and torso, according to the medical examiner in Philadelphis where the plane made its emergency landing.
FAA orders more engine inspections after Southwest accident     Apr 20, 2018

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 20, 2018

Really? Time Will Tell

"North Korea is expressing a commitment to a complete denuclearization. They are not presenting a condition that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of the American troops in South Korea."
"North Korea is only talking about the end of a hostile policy against it and then a security guarantee for the country."
President Moon Jae-in, South Korea
South Korea to seek formal peace agreement with North at upcoming summit
Images of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a South Korean news program on a video screen at the Seoul train station on April 18, 2018. (Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

South Korea has never stopped dreaming of re-unification. Which is to say the administration of South Korea. Re-unification would mean for the people of the South that their adversarial position with the North would come to an end, the separation of families would be over. The fear of unstable and unsettling events leading to violence and danger would become an episode of the past.

Threats emanating from the volatile Kim Jong Un would be set aside as a nightmare that the Koreas will have awakened from.

Not that these yearning dreams haven't surfaced before in the certitude that finally the belligerence will be set aside because the Kim dynasty at one point or another in their fragile relationship with the South and the West, has promised to reform. Those promises based on bribery, the provision of oil, food, financial support. And all of them, one after another, dashed as the North reverted to type once the ransom had been paid. Will it be different this time?

Kim Jong Un has demonstrated all the thoughtful restraint of a four-year-old dabbling in mud and delighting in the outcome, deliberately oblivious to the consequences of his impetuous and juvenile antics in testing new ballistic missiles and setting off newer iterations of nuclear devices. He appears to find great pleasure in causing fearful consternation among his neighbours when missiles are targeted toward Japan, or threats of reaching the American Pacific coast are made with great relish to the fear engendered.

The 'hostile' policy that North Korea responds to is a situation that exists mostly in the mind of a neurotic, paranoid man who feels insufficiently 'respected' and looks to achieve that elusive state of respect by actions unbecoming a sane adult capable of understanding how his policies of fear-mongering impact on those within range of his missiles.

South Korean soldiers stand guard in the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. On Wednesday, a high-ranking South Korean presidential official said they are considering renegotiating the peace agreement between North and South Korea. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

Labels: , , , ,

The Ultimate Rationale: Determination and Survival Equal Iron Will

"Israel’s space programme includes the capability to build, operate and launch satellites into space. In 1988, only seven years after the programme was established, Israel launched its first satellite, Ofeq-1.1 At that time, only seven countries had demonstrated an indigenous capability to develop and launch satellites. Given the high costs and risks involved in undertaking such an ambitious national project, it might appear surprising that a small country like Israel – even taking into consideration its acute security needs – would take on such a burden. The Israeli leadership’s strategic rationale for doing so is not obvious, inviting further consideration of the country’s national-security decision-making and goals."
"Israel’s security concept is based on the understanding that it suffers from a significant quantitative inferiority against its rivals. To overcome this disadvantage, Israeli leaders have chosen to focus the country’s efforts on the development of a qualitative edge. One of the most significant elements of this strategy is the development of what has been called the country’s ‘Iron Wall’, a concept intended to convey to Israel’s enemies that the country is a regional power that cannot be defeated militarily.
Several aspects of Israel’s space programme contribute to the realisation of the Iron Wall concept. Firstly, Israel’s space programme provides significant tangible capabilities to deal with the threats imposed by Israel’s enemies. Secondly, and equally important, a national space programme that includes the ability to develop and launch satellites into space signals a high level of national capabilities. Israel’s achievements in space, whether civilian or military, project a clear message of national might. They emphasize the qualitative gap between Israel and its neighbours; contribute to the country’s accumulated achievements aimed at deterrence; and reinforce the image of the Iron Wall in the eyes of Israel’s enemies. All of this is accomplished without articulating an explicit military threat, which could provoke an unwanted chain reaction in the region."
Isaac Ben Israel, and Deganit Paikowsky,  Survival: Global Politics and Strategy August–September 2017 
The AMOS 3 satellite (Photo credit: Spacecom via Tsahi Ben-Ami/FLASH 90)
The AMOS 3 satellite (Photo credit: Spacecom via Tsahi Ben-Ami/FLASH 90)
Image result for israeli space program
If we're speaking deterrence and weaponry, it cannot be overlooked that the State of Israel has a nuclear arsenal, the only country in the Middle East that this can be said of. There is, of course, another country in the geography that aspires to match Israel's supremacy in having mastered the technology and designed nuclear devices. In Israel's case the nuclear arsenal serves as a kind of interior self-assurance that if all else fails ... but it is highly unlikely; in the realm of near impossibility that this weaponry was ever meant to, or ever will be used.

The same cannot be said for the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country whose ayatollahs and its Islamic Republican Guard Corps has been involved in training and arming terrorist groups and using them for the purpose for which they were formed; bellicose threats, violent attacks and conflicts enabling the Republic to widen its sphere of influence, though it is a relative minority sect within greater Islam, and even in the Middle East geography where Sunni Islam predominates. Iran's not-so-secret yet covert activities are geared toward the destruction of Israel, and at the same time the command of the Middle East.

At the present time, Iran represents Israel's greatest existential threat, with its support for Hezbollah its proxy militia group, and Hamas which administers Gaza, both of which are terrorist groups, both of which have the foundational belief that they are capable of administering the fatal blows that will destroy the presence of Israel. It is a fearsome combination of unalloyed hatred that Israel faces; Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran arrayed against it as absolute and dedicated hostile enemies who will never be placated by any overtures Israel might take to prove it has no hostile intentions against them.

Since its declaration in 1947 of an independent Jewish state reborn from ancient Judea, Israel has had to face the violent enmity of surrounding Arab populations. From the time of its immediate formation to the final, 1967 war mounted by Syria and Egypt against it, the tiny state was forced to defend itself from the determination of its neighbours to destroy its presence. Each time, from 1947 onward that Israel succeeded in routing the combined armies of its neighbours bent on its destruction it seemed a miracle that an outnumbered, tiny state could succeed in defending itself.

Israel planned from its very inception, on looking reality in the face; that it would need to inspire in its people an 'iron wall' of resistance and determination against greater numbers that would never be satisfied to accept the presence of a Jewish state. That iron wall in reality reflected an iron will to succeed in the re-establishment of Israel in the very place where three thousand years ago Jews lived and thrived and practised their monotheistic religion, only to see it co-opted by an Arab merchant in the 7th Century as the basis of a religion that he visualized would sweep the Bedouin population into conquest of the known world.

From then to the present not much has changed; Islam remains mired in its mission of creep-and-conquest, using the jihad of creeping numbers in invasions of immigrants and refugees into Europe and beyond, and the violence of terrorism when patience in awaiting overwhelming demographics runs thin, and the urge to commit mayhem and mass slaughter overwhelms the consciousness of the dedicated faithful to commit to martyrdom to further the cause of the universal caliphate. Whereas Israel has got on with its mission to present as a haven for Jews, to commit itself to a democratic order of equality and to benefit the world order by its presence and its standards of excellence in innovation, science and technology.

And while the world beats a path to Israel's threshold, eager to share in its inventive spirit and to take advantage of the enterprise of its society -- leading the world in research on a wide number of life-affirming fronts, it also continues to view Jews, and the presence of Israel on that world stage as a questionable anomaly in its differences, much less its ongoing struggle for survival within the landscape of Arab nations continually at war with one another. It takes a collective iron will to shrug off constant criticism and hostility even from purported friendly nations.

And in all indices of survival and contributions to the world at large Israel is succeeding to an amazing degree; all it takes is an iron will.

Israel rocket launchLaunch of an Israeli Shavit rocket via Wikimedia Common

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Closet British Anti-Semites Unleashed

"I have never felt as nervous and frightened as I feel today at being a Jew. It feels that my party has given permission for anti-Semitism to go unchallenged."
"Anti-Semitism is making me an outsider in my Labour party. To that, I simply say enough is enough."
Dame Margaret Hodge, London, House of Commons

"I have no words for the people who purport to be both members and supporters of our party, who use that hashtag, JC4PM, who attacked me in recent weeks for speaking at the rally ... who said I should be de-selected. They have called me Judas, a Zio-Nazi, and told me to go back to Israel."
"We have a duty to the next generation. Denial is not an option. Prevarication is not an option. Being a bystander who turns the other way is not an option. The time for action is now."
"People have accused me of having two masters, they have said I am ‘Tel Aviv’s servant,’ they have called me a paid up Israeli operative, essentially anti-Semitism of the worst kind suggesting I am a traitor to this country. [I will] make no apology for holding my party to higher standards, even one anti-Semitic member of the Labour Party is one member too many."
"Anti-racism is one of our essential values and there was a time not long ago when the left actively confronted anti-Semitism. It pains me to say this in 2018 that within the Labour Party anti-Semitism is now more commonplace, is more conspicuous and is more corrosive."
Luciana Berger, British Labour cooperative MP
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (3rd from right) during a debate in the UK parliament over anti-Semitism within the party. (Screen capture:
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (3rd from right) during a debate in the UK parliament over anti-Semitism within the party. (Screen capture:

Dissent within the ranks of the British Labour party has been simmering for quite some time. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has spoken of terrorist groups like Hamas with respect and affection as his 'friends'. Under his leadership the closet anti-Semites have crept out from under the damp crevices which have sheltered their views under leaders not given to friendship with groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel. And nor were expressions of outright anti-Semitism common within the membership of the British House of Commons before the leadership election of Jeremy Corbyn to the once-proud Labour party.

Now, seething with sheer frustration and anger, members of the U.K. Labour party have finally aired their views about the descent their political party of choice has taken from common decency to outright bigotry under the vocal membership of those like former London Mayor Ken Livingston who infamously claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, and that Jews and fascism have firm links; those who died in the Holocaust were considered fodder to turn the world's conscience to promise a homeland for Jews.

Months of shameless catering to the racist proclivities of British Members of Parliament speaking as Labour members has resulted in the government-led Conservatives ruling that a day in the House be committed to a discussion on anti-Semitism. The opportunity to give full reign to their experiences and perceptions was taken up by a number of Labour MPs finally given public space to air their grievances against their party; an airing roundly applauded by MPs of opposition parties, quite understandably.
Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen
Labour MP John Mann had much to add to the discussion and he did it with feeling, describing how members of the Momentum group, supporters of Corbyn, targeted him for punishment for daring to support Jewish Labour members. His wife, he recounted, was the recipient of a dead bird in the mail, along with rape threats. When their son and daughter received death threats, measures had to be taken to put them under protective surveillance.

The three-hour debate enabled members who were directly affected by the climate of intimidation and the promotion of anti-Semitism to ventilate and inform those listening to the anguish they feel. Corbyn disports himself as a convicted left-leaning anti-Semite, an impression well earned by the company he keeps. When a protest was organized by the Jewish community outside Parliament, Corbyn responded by pledging to be "a militant opponent of anti-Semitism", earnestly informing the Jewish community "In this fight, I am your ally and always will be."

His actions are more telling than those words, encouraging those within Labour to step up and emote any slanderous, anti-Semitic tropes they feel comfortable with. Infamously he had admired the mural of a street artist in east London who had depicted a group of business tycoons and bankers, ostensibly Jews, counting money around a Monopoly-type board held aloft on the backs of dark-complexioned men. Corbyn excused himself after a protest by claiming not to have understood the message while supporting the artist's "artistic freedom".
Kalen Ockerman's mural 'The Enemy of Humanity' (photo credit: YouTube screen shot)
Kalen Ockerman’s mural ‘The Enemy of Humanity’ (YouTube screenshot)

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Siege, Starve and Surrender

"On the streets of Damascus, there was jubilation as government supporters realized that a more expansive assault would not materialize."
The Washington Post

"I am so proud now it feels like a long time in the war, but now we are safe I wish peace prevails all of Syria so that everyone can sense the priceless feeling of peace."
"The U.S. should stop meddling in other country's affairs they need to leave us alone we can solve our problems on our own, we didn't call for them to be a global police force that has gone rogue anyway."
Tamer Shaban, state employee, Damascus

"Today we are here to celebrate our army forces, which brought back peace and security to the capital after years of rebels attacks, and also confronted foreign military strikes so it's about time we celebrate in this square without fear." 
Jamal Salem, 22, university student, Damascus 
Syrians rally in Damascus’s Umayyad Square on April 16, 2018, in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

"The response is very weak in my judgement."
"It should have been decisive, it should have been consequential."
Ret.Gen.Jack Keane, former vice-chief of staff. U.S. Army

"This was more about the Western allies making sure their red lines were addressed rather than trying to seriously damage the Assad regime, prevent the further killing of civilians or reduce the capacity of the Assad regime to keep fighting."
"From Assad's perspective, this was a big win. He must be thinking, this is good, I came out on top, I gained much more than I lost."
Associate Professor Amr al-Azm, Middle East history, Shawnee University, Ohio
It was a response, after all, planned to target chemical production and storage installations, as a symbol of the moral outrage emanating from the great Western powers of the United States, France and England, teaching Russia, Syria and Iran an object lesson in the moral responsibility to react, inherent in the social-political fabric of democratic states. As punishment, however, there was little cost to the target, rather relief that the suspense was finally over and the Syrian regime could go on to other matters.

There were no human casualties. Anything of real value as far as materiel assets were concerned was removed well prior to the attack, since ample warning was given it was forthcoming. The trio knew that Russia had ordered the withdrawal of its vulnerable assets while those of Bashar al-Assad were speedily moved, to shelter them from destruction. The real estate that was targeted was hit and all three installations rendered inoperative.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands after a joint press conference as part of a tripartite summit on Syria, in Ankara, on April 4, 2018.
Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images
Gloating 'mission accomplished' in a self-congratulatory hug was ingloriously interrupted by a former Syrian commander who had turned against the regime, explaining that the major chemical producing installation was left untouched. What a triumph of military might in a demonstration that world powers do not take lightly the barbaric butchery undertaken by one of the world's most rabid killers of his own civilians! A far cry from the Israeli strike that preceded it, unannounced, targeted and deadly.

While happy to demonstrate Western values of acknowledgement of right and wrong and the measures that can be taken to punish those who commit to wrongs in so peerlessly atrocious a manner, the avengers appear to have misplaced the reality of the honour and conquest values of those being taught the lesson. That strikes which accomplish nothing represent an obvious weakness in the armour of the powerful, revealing them to be vulnerable and rather incapable.

It reveals weakness, not strength, and it is only the committed strength of those whom abuse of humanity is as nothing in the greater quest of domination that has any value. So that "muscular" response accomplished not an awful lot in a geography of the Middle East where success and respect is measured by the grim toll of vengeance meted out to those with the unmitigated gall to think they can upset the dominion of an unreconstructed tyrant, paying for their arrogance with lives forfeit.

In the Middle East if one possesses a hammer it is used to strike, unequivocally, finally and with maximum impact.
Smoke rises after the Assad regime carried out an airstrike on Sifoniye town of Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, on February 27, 2018.
Ammar Al Bushy /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Kremlin's Waste

"When Sergei V. Skripal got poisoned, this was very serious for them [the Kremlin]."
"When a city of 40,000 people gets poisoned, they don't care."
Andrei A. Zhdanov, Volokolamsk businessman

"In the first half of 2017, I received 80,000 tons of waste; in the second half I had twice as much."
"If it weren't for Kuchino [regional landfill dump close to Moscow], we would stay within our normal limits."
Maksim O. Konopko, Yadrovo landfill owner

"The only things you hear are Ukraine and Syria, Ukraine and Syria."
"Why they never cover our own, Russian problems?"
Lidiya L. Ivanova, 59, resident of Volokolamsk

"There are children in Syria, there are children in Ukraine! Who am I?"
"I am only ten, and I went to live."
Deni Tsugayev, resident of Volokolamsk, Russia
Russians rally outside the Volokolamsk town hall demanding the closure of the Yadrovo landfill on April 1
In the small town of Volokolamsk, about 20 kilometers west of Moscow, residents are angry and upset over the presence of a giant landfill about 30 meters in height, an immense heap of trash making the air the entire town breathes redolent of methane and hydrogen sulfide gas. The stench of rotten eggs is all-pervasive, and so malignantly disturbing there are those who claim it makes their heart beats irregular.

Townspeople insist that the fumes from the giant garbage dump are responsible for all manner of strange occurrences, from cars refusing to start, cats suddenly falling over dead, and children continually suffering from nausea, dizziness and eczema. The locals have complained, to no avail. It all began in June when another town's unhappiness reached the ears of the one person whose word is instantly obeyed.

During President Vladmimir Putin's annual call-in show, residents of a town right outside Moscow, Balashikha, called in to complain about their travails around a truly "unbearable" situation their neighbourhood suffers from. Kuchino, one of the largest landfill dumps in the entire region, is located adjacent their town, and its malodorous presence was making everyone ill, and couldn't something, anything, please be done about it?

It could indeed. President Putin addressed the issue with determination and alacrity. Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy recommended that action be taken in 2021 to perhaps close the Kuchino dump; move it and its contents elsewhere. "Now listen to me. Close this landfill within a month", Mr. Putin advised his minister of the environment. No sooner ordered than done.

The landfill closed but the issue of a thousand truckloads of waste from Moscow had to be disposed on a regular basis somewhere, somehow.

And so regional governments distributed the waste among landfills around Moscow. The Hadrovo dump near Volokolamsk has received a substantial increase in trucks lining up before its gates to release their burden and increase the stench.

Man wearing a gas mask rides a quad bike at the landfill
Man wearing a gas mask rides a quad bike at the landfill

Labels: , ,

Imbibing Poison

"They [bootleggers and their distributors] are part of a close-knit community. Sometimes, when police come to check on a tip they have already put the bootleg alcohol away. They know who their customers are when they come. It's much like a clandestine narcotics network."
"In the past, bootleg alcohol was found to be a mixture of alcohol and energy drinks. Some are a mix of pure alcohol, carbonated drinks and an ingredient used in anti-mosquito repellent." 
Inspector General Setyo Wasisto, national police spokesman
"Restricted distribution and sales of alcohol is creating unintended consequences. People are turning to unrecorded [bootleg] alcohol instead."
"Legal alcohol is available in bars, restaurants, discotheques and restaurants, but for many low-income people who can't afford to go to these places, they prefer to drink bootleg alcohol."
"The rise in the number of people who have died after drinking bootleg liquor is related to the prohibition of alcoholic beverage distribution and sales in areas across Indonesia as well as liquor sale restrictions stipulated in a Trade Ministry regulation."
Sugianto Tandra, researcher, Center for Indonesian Policy Studies
At a hospital in Cicalengka, West Java, family members on Monday move the body of a relative who died from drinking poisonous bootleg liquor.
At a hospital in Cicalengka, West Java, family members on Monday move the body of a relative who died from drinking poisonous bootleg liquor.  The Jakarta Post
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. Alcohol consumption is not an Islamic value; it is in fact, condemned by most Muslim scholars, clerics and governments alike. In Indonesia alcohol has a certain popularity, to the extent that the government sees no avenue where it can be forbidden, so it has resorted to high taxes in an effort to dissuade people from drinking. 
The result has been people turning away from conventional alcohol, since it is no longer readily accessible as it once was as well, sold in little corner stores.

In the government's efforts to curb legal alcohol use, people have turned instead to bootleg liquor. Some of it is so toxic that people are dying in great numbers from its effects. In West Java in a number of days, 51 people died, consuming bootleg liquor, and another 31 in Jakarta. Near the West Java capital of Bandung over 90 people were hospitalized in just a few days.

"All the patients come with shortness of breath, diminished consciousness and many whose vision is blurred", said a doctor with the single name of Amelia, at the Cicalengka hospital operated by the state. The poor in Indonesia have turned to the black market to avoid taxation in a country where, though alcohol is legal, its use is discouraged.
Bootleg distilling's byproduct of potentially lethal methanol is taking its toll. The tainted alcohol is even on occasion mixed with soft drinks. Police say that pure alcohol is combined at times with diverse and inappropriate ingredients that pose a real threat to the imbiber; such as cough mixture and even insect repellent.
So far in West Java, police have arrested seven people suspected of having mixed or sold bootleg liquor. "We have not yet found any link among them" said Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiki, speaking for the police. "Based on their confessions, they worked independently, each mixing the drinks in their own way such as using cough remedies, ointments and mosquito repellent."
The more things change, the more they resemble what has occurred before; a parody of the era in the United States during Prohibition; one with monstrously deadly consequences. Where Indonesia is grappling with the deadly effects of toxic alcohol, the West is now attempting to cope with the influx of deadly, powerful opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, coming out of laboratories in China.

Arak fabrication in Flores, Indonesia by distillation of palm juice in a unique pot still. Source: Peter Verreussel / Shutterstock

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 14, 2018


"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith."
"Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada".
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Twitter

"Public support often aided by a diversity of prominent stakeholders] is indispensable."
"But there could be a tipping point that, once reached, undermines the history of relative Canadian consensus."
"Engagement with the Canadian public is necessary, however, any high-profile debate will have to be carefully managed."
Immigration Department internal data briefing

"About 30 percent of Canadians think immigration levels are too high ... There's a cluster of people who are simply opposed."
"At the other extreme, there's another group who are super-keen."
"In the middle are what we call the conditional multiculturalists. They are, in principle, comfortable with [immigration], but subject to a whole set of qualifications which really turn on whether it is working."
Keith Banting, research chair, public policy, Queen's University

The briefing notes were prepared to enable a committee of deputy ministers in the federal government to fully comprehend that among usually compliant and amenable Canadians there are limits to the numbers of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers they feel can be absorbed and assimilated into the Canadian population, taking into account all manner of important details; whether the culture might be compatible with Canada's, the economic cost of absorbing them, and the potential of destabilization in the process, among them.

These are all issues that politicians are normally very sensitive to, for longevity purposes of their own governance, in reflecting the public pulse on any given issue, much less one as vital to Canada's future in its population make-up and the numbers that can be safely integrated. A majority of Canadians, the briefing clearly pointed out, do support immigration levels -- but at a level they are comfortable with. When those supporters are informed of increasing numbers their comfort level drops in lock-step with the rise of the incoming.

Polling data reveals that slightly over 50 percent of Canadians feel that the number of immigrants permitted to arrive in Canada annually is "about right", a number that has bee consistent since 2012. On the  other hand, most of that slight majority believe the immigrant number arriving yearly  to be under 150,000. Once informed that the true number had been 260,000 for the past number of years, those who claimed it to be "too many" increased to 32 percent from 23 percent.

Hardening attitudes caused by events taking place in other countries where immigration and refugee numbers have swamped Europe, for example, causing unrest and fears for the future, alongside attitudes of empathy for the plight of refugees fleeing violence and conflict arise and clash with one another in public opinion. Economic downturns and feelings of disenfranchisement auger ill, however, for support of greater numbers.

The current Liberal government released its three-year immigration strategy late in 2017, planning for incremental increases to levels of immigration over the next three years. Advocates for increasing immigration  levels urge that greater numbers be allowed to enter Canada for more significant increases. The government's more 'measured' approach, pointed out Dr. Banting, reflects fears of a public "backlash".

One horrific event that took place in Quebec a year and a half ago was a violent assault on a mosque in which six worshippers were shot to death and others severely injured, when a perturbed and unstable young man in the throes of a mental crisis interpreted rising immigration levels as an existential threat to himself and his family personally, and sought to minimize it by terrorizing and killing Muslims as he had noted Muslims to have done  to those like himself, in Europe.
"When I saw that [an announcement that Canada was preparing to accept refugees the U.S. was turning away] I lost it. I was like, sure that they were going to come and kill my parents also, and my family. I was sure about that ... that's why, that's why I had to do something."
Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, mass killer, Quebec
The shadow of Norway's Anders Behring Breivik

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Canada's Energy Sector

Canada is in an economic quandary. Always an exporter of raw goods resulting from our great store of natural resources, we have tried to find salvation in the production of finished goods on the global market. Oops, China has more or less sewn that industrial performance up quite nicely, so blue-collar jobs have evaporated steadily, not only from Canada, Ontario in particular, but right across the Globe. Trade competition is fierce and the struggle to open avenues to free trade agreements does nothing to diminish the giant footstep of China as the world's trade Goliath.
An investment by the Alberta government would do nothing to quell the unwavering political opposition that has stalled construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, some experts say. (Trans Mountain)

Among the vast resources that Canada has in abundance is petroleum products. Canada's infrastructure, its refining capacity, shipping and pipelines simply don't match the potential product output. To be viable and bring back a return reflective of the value of the product, investments in reliable means of transporting natural gas and oil must proceed. The XL pipeline meant to go through the U.S. to refineries on the West Coast met hysterical resistance from U.S. environmental groups far less concerned about American fracturing and coal-fired furnaces than 'dirty' Athabasca 'tarsands'.

Former President Barack Obama also looked past the U.S. coal industry's carbon footprint and found fault with the Keystone XL pipeline, stringing Canada along in the wake of one successful environmental clearance after another to finally inform Prime Minister Justin Trudeau it could not proceed; overturned by President Trump, yet obstacles remain thanks to the vigor of environmentalist groups. Those same groups which have crossed the border into Canada to fund public relations ploys that succeeded in convincing British Columbia that no Alberta pipeline should sully B.C. territory.

So, where are we now? In a national debate over Canada's energy future. With Alberta and British Columbia at loggerheads; each with a New Democratic government viewing the situation from very different vantage points. British Columbia accepts Alberta oil for its own domestic purposes. Alberta oil is sold at a discount on the world market because it cannot expeditiously and economically move it to markets anxious to take advantage of it. Alberta's wealth as a 'have' province subsidizes 'have-not' provinces like Quebec yet Quebec too will not hear of a pipeline besmirching its geography.

All in the name of conservation, of environmental stewardship, of keeping a watchful eye on greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. "Coal production is a mainstay of the province's economy, generating billions of dollars in annual revenue and supporting thousands of well-paid jobs", the website for the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources reads. Coal, yes coal, is the premier export commodity of the province.
Ships are loaded with coal at Westshore Terminals in Delta, B.C., on Wednesday February 19, 2014. The terminal is North America's largest single coal export facility.The Canadian Press

Vancouver may represent anti-pipeline central, but it also ranks as the largest single exporter of coal in all of North America, where Vancouver's coal facilities exported 36.8 million tonnes of coal in 2017. Vancouver ranks above Norfolk, Virginia -- the busiest coal port in the United States. In 2017, a massive spike in American coal exports saw 31.5 million tonnes of coal moving out of Norfolk.

Vancouver's coal ports accommodate a huge increase in exports of thermal coal, used in the production of electricity; almost all of this thermal coal emanates from the United States resulting from Washington and Oregon shutting down their coal ports due to environmental concerns. Thermal coal producers there now shunt their products through Canada. Much of Vancouver's own coal is metallurgical coal for the production of steel and exported to Asia.

Coal is moved at Neptune terminals, North Vancouver, April 28 2017. Gerry Kahrmann / Postmedia File

British Columbia's coal exports harm climate as much as any products that may be transported out of the TransMountain expansion which plans to move 215 million extra barrels of diluted bitumen per year; total product shipped through the expansion is projected to emit between 129 million and 158 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its life cycle.

But the expansion won't be built if British Columbia continues to deny Kinder Morgan right-of-way to its vast investment. This is not a provincial jurisdiction but a federal one, something both British Columbia and the federal government appear to have trouble remembering; with the former intruding on the latter's bailiwick and the latter so engrossed in the tail wagging the dog that it's forgotten its bark.

"Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the Liberal government has created a toxic environment for energy investment, which is why these projects keep getting cancelled or suspended."
"Not only has the prime minister failed to show any leadership on the inter-provincial Trans Mountain dispute, he is actually making matters worse for the Canadian energy sector by imposing harmful policies such as the carbon tax and new regulations that penalize Canadian oil exports."
Federal MP Matt Jeneroux

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet