Friday, October 31, 2008

Religious Delusion

Can one blame them? There they are, innocently tending to the business of upholding their divine obligations to the Lord of the Worlds, when suddenly the wrath of Hell descends upon them, through the overwhelmingly superior forces and modern weaponry of the spawn of Satan; the armies of the United States and its debased allies.

That they dared to advance their cause to strip the Muslim world of its hallowed assets, the fossil fuels that God in His great wisdom allocated to His people is beyond contempt. That, in their pursuit of those gains, to subjugate and despoil Muslims of their rightful inheritance, they sought to destroy al-Qaeda, the warriors of Islam, the first line of defence of Islam, is their error.

For al-Qaeda, and all its associated Islamic Jihad militias will fight to the bitter end and destroy their enemy, the iniquitous Americans, along with their major ally, the State of Israel. So is it written, so it will be. For the world of the West, with its grotesque and decadent democratic values has launched a war against Islam.

Muslims everywhere see themselves unspeakably victimized by the growing tide of Islamophobia. But the true and the just will fight to the very last man, the mujaheddin will strike at the heart of every Western country that dares to interfere in its divine business, obeying the words and the example of the Divine Prophet.

In their defence they claim that we slaughter thousands of innocent people, among them primarily our own, Muslims, people of the Faith. What do they know? These are those who claim to serve Allah, but they are false; it is our duty to strike them down. They claim that our courageous martyrs kill innocents, but there are no innocent infidels.

Our armies of believers, our brave and mighty jihad warriors will continue to march on Asia, on Africa, on Europe. They will steadily continue to infiltrate the inner confines of trust in North America and Europe, to position themselves carefully for that time when they can safely reveal themselves, and prepare to assume responsibility.

Those countless Muslims who cower in terror at our plans for the Ummah are as locusts to growing fields of wheat ready for harvest; they are a scourge, unfit to be thought of as true Muslims. They fear us and our aspirations, but when the Caliphate becomes reality and the infidel must live as slaves to our bidding, they will be proud.

Yes, the killing of innocents is condemned by the Koran, but Crusaders and those whom they represent are not innocent. Yes, suicide is forbidden by the Koran, but these missions are conceived to create a greater glory for Islam, and martyrdom is a blessing, one that has its great rewards, conducive to granting young men's desires.

The evil fanaticism of the West must be countered. Their slaughter of innocent Muslims must be redressed. Our righteously dedicated jihad will succeed in creating rivers of blood, in a universal fear of our ability to strike anywhere we wish, whenever we will it, serving up terror on a scale hitherto unrealized.

The western religious bigots who spurn and scorn our sacred beliefs and our hallowed symbols will pay, and pay dearly for their blighted, unreasoning arrogance.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fulfilling His Destiny

A mother seeks to reassure her embattled child. She will do and say just about anything to restore his faith in himself, to protect him from the bitter realization that society has sought fit to deem him a monstrous aberration whose very presence is a direct harm through his violent intent, to an entire country. A mother's worst nightmare is the loss of a child. Suicide, through extreme depression, is always a potential.

Is there a maternal obligation to teach a child - even a mature, grown child - that he has the human gift of free will, that it is within him to discipline himself, control his impulses. That he has an obligation to master himself and to care for those around him, to be knowledgeable and controlled and to function as a decent human being? That he must not, under any conditions of personal duress, seek to harm others?

That, because he is an adult, an educated individual, a privileged person living in a land that has succoured him and his family, he must be held responsible for decisions he has made that have come back to haunt him? That it is not society, holding him to account for his misdeeds, that is responsible for his travail, but his very intent to harm society?

Momin Khawaja, arrested on seven terrorist-related charges by the security and judicial agents of Government of Canada, has been found guilty on most counts that he has been charged with. The presiding judge at his trial withheld full judgement in the matter of two of the charges because of lack of sufficient evidence against Momin Khawaja. But for all intents and purposes he has been found guilty of terrorism.

Justice Douglas Rutherford found that "There is ample evidence ... Momin Khawaja knew he was dealing with a group whose objects and purposes included activity that meets the (Criminal) Code definition of terrorist activity", the judge wrote. "I have no reasonable doubt in concluding that in doing the things the evidence clearly establishes that he did, Momin Khawaja was knowingly participating in and supporting a terrorist group."

On November 18 of this year Momin Khawaja will face a sentencing hearing. At that time he will be informed of the sentence to be imposed upon him. He has been convicted on seven counts of terror-related offences. He indicted himself through his expressions of hatred and determination to avenge what he felt were atrocities visited upon Islam and Muslims through the auspices of Jews and Crusaders.

His parents, attending his trial and the judge's findings, are relieved the ordeal is over. "We are pleased he was found not guilty", his mother said. "I knew he was not involved in those dirty things." She spoke to the press eager for her comments, telling them of her family's hardships during the long period of her son's incarceration since his arrest in 2004; the suspicion people regarded them with.

She hopes, she said that her son "can come home soon". "I am a strong woman and our religious beliefs gave us a lot of hope. Hopefully, he can come home soon." During the years of his imprisonment she visited her son faithfully, twice each week. And just before the guilty verdict was handed down there was another visit with her son.

When she concernedly, and with a mother's unrestrained love told him that it was not a judge who held his future in his hands, but rather Allah. "What is going to happen is going to happen. It is the will of Allah and your destiny has already been written. It is not up to a human being and no one can change it", she consoled her son.

He was compelled to act, not of his own volition, but as a command from Allah, in whose hands lie the destiny of every believer. He is, therefore, guilty of nothing, must repent of nothing. In seeking to do God's will, he was but fulfilling his destiny.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shame! My Country

For a societally-aware, developed country with a healthy balance sheet, a liberal democracy mindful of its responsibilities to its citizens and to the global continuum of human need, it's unfortunate that Canada appears to have lost its moral compass with respect to its continued support of an industry that has been positively linked to asbestos-related diseases.

In support of a long-time discredited industry in Quebec, Canada has chosen to surrender its wisdom to the narrow-minded intent of the asbestos industry to continue its harmful operations. It's harmful in the extreme to industry workers - Quebec has the distinction of having one of the highest rates of mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer) in the world.

And it's beyond conscience that the Government of Canada would lend itself to the chrysotile asbestos industry's determination to continue exporting its deadly product around the world. Canada has strict safety laws in place respecting the use of asbestos, yet it sees nothing amiss in exporting this deadly material to emerging economies who exercise no caution in its use.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, and a whole host of other respected medical and research agencies have reached the unequivocal conclusion identifying chrysotile asbestos as a human carcinogen. Most technologically and scientifically advanced countries of the world either ban its use or have enacted strict restrictions on its use.

It's hard to get one's head around the fact that a mere $77-million profit to the Quebec asbestos mining industry can justify the exportation of a mineral known for its dire threats to human lives. Canada has consistently vetoed the addition of this type of asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention's Prior Informed Consent list.

At this year's gathering in Rome which was set to debate the issue, Canada's delegation vetoed a Swiss-led proposal to alter the ratification process to require a three-quarters majority to list a chemical rather than the current required "overwhelming majority" support. As matters stand, a mere handful of objectors can overrule a hundred others determined to list a dangerous chemical.

Canada is in such esteemed company as Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, in opposing the listing of chrysotile asbestos. Russia, Zimbabwe and Iran mine the mineral, and see nothing amiss in sending it to countries looking for cheap materials to mix as a fire-resistant binder with cement. And Canada chooses to be in their company.

India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines opposed the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on the Rotterdam list in Rome; they and a handful of other dissenters successfully have kept it unlisted. "Canada got others to do their dirty work for them. The first speakers were our biggest customers" according to NDP Member of Parliament, Pat Martin.

He was there as an independent observer, critical of his government's unforgivable stance on this matter. And he has quite personal knowledge of the critical nature of the product, having been exposed to it in his younger days. Canada also has another Parliamentarian, a Cabinet Minister, whose exposure to the asbestos as a young man has left him with incurable cancer.

But with all of that, including the condemnation of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Medical Association, Canada remains adamant that countries not known for their concern about the fate of their asbestos workers, are capable of protecting them from the harmful effects of chrysotile asbestos.

And shame on us.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How To Square Peace With Tradition?

When there exists an ancient written text purporting to be the word of God set down by his divine messenger to inform and instruct the faithful unto Eternity, what possible opportunity can there be for peace between historically adversarial people of today's world when that instruction leads to ongoing enmity?

One might feel that ancient enmities could be finally put to rest, that the world's people have finally matured in their emotions, their social interactions, to enable them to embrace the concept of a world communion, but time has done nothing to mollify humankind's primitive emotions of distrust, blame, hatred of the other.

That remains evident throughout the world, from Africa and Asia and the Middle East. The enmities that exist in Europe have also strained credulity, that ostensibly civilized and modern eastern Europeans could be capable of putting their humanity on hold for the greater function of waging war on their neighbours.

Yet other parts of Europe have ably demonstrated that a war-weary public and their political overseers can be capable of forging unity of purpose, eschewing future wars, working toward a common interest. Through a common union, geographic, political, social.

We've yet to see anything remotely similar occurring throughout Africa, aptly named the "Dark Continent". A huge land mass of plentiful natural resources, an immensely beautiful geography with breathless landscapes, and a wide array of creatures large and small sharing place with its diverse tribal populations.

Every tribe seeming to nurture and value aeons-old grudges against one another, simmering at some points, brought to the boil of bloodily violent eruption at others.
It's become simple to foment a tidal wave of hatred, one against the other.

Made vastly simpler through the use of modern technology, enabling those elites who harbour their self-availing agendas to stir the public, normally apathetic as a result of those same elites' misrule, to rise as one in a public outrage of blame against others for the parlous state of their poverty and disease-stricken reality.

And then there's the Middle East, with its festering collective pathology of suspicion, blame and hatred focused on the presence of a country that does not share the general politics, social culture and religion, although there is an echo of shared geographical and evolutionary tradition.

The countries of the Middle East, always in disagreement with one another, cradling their scorn for one another, meet in agreement over their displeasure at the unwanted presence of the State of Israel in their geographical midst.

While there has been a notable deviation from the general condemnation of Israel as a veritable encrustation of corruption on the geography of the Middle East on the part of a few of its neighbours, the remainder view its presence as an intolerable insult to Islam.

Israel's historical inability to come to a mutually agreeable settlement with the Palestinians over territory both claim as theirs, allows its neighbours to lay claim that the foreign element in their midst is the single sole disruptor of harmony in the region.

The truth is that both solitudes must agree to agree, both to make unwelcome sacrifices for the greater good of establishing peace. Yet from the Palestinian camp erupts continual violent attacks against the Jews who inhabit their midst.

And how can it be seen as helpful that both sides remain incalcitrant to meaningful and useful dialogue leading to reasonable and possible initiatives geared to settling issues that present as goads to ongoing misery for each?

Still, there remain issues that remain on the bargaining block that, if accepted, would benefit one side by vastly diminishing the other. Equally reasonably, it seems as though the intent is to evade decision-making in the hopes that matters will be resolved in other ways.

Against this backdrop there are Palestinian clerics who do their utmost to interpret instructions from the Koran as relevant to today's realities. Bringing wholesale into the modern era, the brutish tribal hatreds of historical antecedents as a template to be respected in the present day.

Whose revelation does nothing to bridge the gap of hatred, and everything to encourage and validate violent, deadly jihad.

A recent interview aired on Al-Aqsa Television with the Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita is revelatory. This man refers to chapters in the Koran which were given to Muhammad in Mecca, referring directly to Jews, who "incur Allah's wrath", appearing in the Al-Fatiha chapter.

Not Jews singly, but Jews in their collective, the entire presence, their very being and presence that present as an insult to Islam, incurring the wrath of Allah.

In this man of God's opinion, and flawless interpretation of times past, the Jewish presence must be obliterated. It will be only then that Palestinians - who were not even in existence as a singular group at that time - while there was an historical Jewish presence - find the solution to the land-dilemma facing them.

A dilemma that modernity foisted upon them; never were they seen by surrounding Arab countries as 'owners' of the land of Palestine. Each of the surrounding countries had their own plans to capture the territories and make them part of theirs. Egypt administering the West Bank, Jordan the Gaza Strip.

But now, we hear from this Palestinian cleric that "It talks about the Jews of our times, of this century, using the language of annihilation, the language of grave digging. Note that in this chapter, the Jews were sentenced to annihilation, before even a single Jew existed on the face of the earth. This Koranic chapter talked about the collapse of the so-called state of Israel, before this state was even established. From here stems the importance and oddity of this chapter."

It's incredible that such a representative of tribal hatred, a religious bigot, an historical ignoramus can be invested with the pretense of knowledge, conveying it to credulous listeners only too eager to accept his interpretation of scripture.

Jews inhabited the landscape alongside nomadic Arab tribes, faithful to their religion, thousands of years before the advent of the Prophet Mohammad and the introduction of Islam to the Arab world.

Of the three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Islam is the afterthought, the last to be realized and constitutionally framed as a religious-social template particularly addressing a nomadic, tribal culture and tradition of the desert Bedouin.

Yet this cleric has the effrontery to express his interpretation of divine thought: "The blessing of Palestine is dependent upon the annihilation of the pit of global corruption in it. When the head of the serpent of corruption is cut off here in Palestine, and its octopus tentacles are severed throughout the world, the real blessing will come.

"The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God."

That this fatalistic fantasy is repeated time and again throughout the Muslim world by other clerics, and denounced by rational Muslims, yet clasped close to the heart of many others only too eager to obtain the blessing of Islam, by galloping into violent jihad remains the most pressing threat to world stability at this time.

Somehow, it has to penetrate the consciousness of the greater majority of Muslims that this celebration of Islam as the one, the only and true religion of the world garners them no credit.

That the constant belligerence emanating from fundamentalist Islamists, the threats of further mayhem and undiminished bloodshed of kuffirs is what is responsible for what the Muslim world decries as a growing phenomenon of "Islamophobia".

It's simply past time for that vast congregation of Muslims to rise up and decry the damage done to their religion and its peaceful, brotherly concepts in the warped minds of Islamist fanatics.

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Denying The Past

The Government of Canada has succeeded in its determination to revoke citizenship from yet another Nazi collaborator, who settled in Canada as an immigrant, post WWII, without divulging his past activities. Had the man initially released the information to immigration authorities that he was involved in criminal activities, he would never have been permitted to emigrate to Canada, would never have been granted citizenship.

Canada's Federal Court has upheld the government's right to revoke the citizenship of Helmut Oberlander, a former Nazi collaborator, characterizing his wartime activities as "the very epitome of brutal", in a delicate understatement of comprehension. Mr. Oberlander was, in fact, attached to a unit of Einsatzkommando, special police task forces whose task it was to operate "mobile killing units".

Their dedication to their task in efficiently obliterating undesirables from the world of the living resulted in excess of two million people dying undeserved, untimely and horrible deaths. They were,for the most part, civilians who were of Jewish origin, along with Communists, Roma, political dissenters, and the mentally and physically disabled.

Mr. Oberlander has his supporters. He has lived quietly and as a superlative citizen in a small Ontario town for his 50 decades as a Canadian citizen, bringing no undue attention to his presence. His neighbours attest to his kindness, his very neighbourliness, an exemplary citizen. The German Canadian Congress has risen to his defence, that he was a young boy when the Germans entered his town in Ukraine.

They sought his help because of his language dexterity, speaking German, Russian and Ukrainian. He became that deadly unit's interpreter. Somewhat like, explained the national president of the German Canadian Congress, what currently obtains in Afghanistan with Canadian soldiers eliciting the assistance of indigenous interpreters.

Except that the presence of international and Canadian military in Afghanistan has the purpose of defending the indigenous population from the ravages of the Taliban. And interpreters working with Canadian military personnel do so willingly, knowing they can be murdered by the Taliban for their efforts on behalf of the foreign militia.

Mr. Oberlander, on the other hand, was a cog in the machinery of delivering organized death on a scale not seen in modern times.

He was fully cognizant, moving with and working alongside the Einsatzkommando that their vital work was comprised of exterminating living human beings. He was able to live with that inconvenient fact, made no attempt to remove himself from the scene of ongoing carnage, and sought afterward, like countless others, to leave that blemish on his character behind, to settle abroad and find a new life for himself.

Mr. Oberlander proved quite successful in building a new life for himself. His past took a very long time to catch up with him. In the interim, he was able to enjoy opportunities available to him in a different country that guaranteed those freedoms and opportunities. None of the millions of slaughtered in whose fate he had an oblique hand, had any such second chances.

Canada's government has every intention of making good on its obligation to make certain that the country is not a haven for those involved in massive dread atrocities against other human beings. Mr. Oberlander's revocation of citizenship now joins a list of others who, since 1977, have been similarly deprived of their comfortable anonymity.

It's unfortunate that he is elderly, and has established roots in Canada. It's time he was finally deported. Never too late to atone for unspeakable crimes.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Forced Trust

It's a formula that has played out in various parts of the world for an awfully long time, and its success from time to time is regrettable, in that it institutionalizes and legitimizes the presence of a quasi-political body whose societally-destructive agenda brings only misery and failure to human societies. It's a brutally insidious evil, victimizing those who cannot fend for themselves, whose governments, or those who set themselves up as their political protectors, are incapable of forfending.

It has worked latterly for Hezbollah in Lebanon, as it set up a political wing and a structured and well-armed militia, alongside a separately, but allied social engineering wing, to work toward a successful conclusion. Earning the gratitude and the approbation and finally support of a population whose fortunes were allowed to fester in neglect and deprivation.

It has worked also for Hamas in the Palestinian Territories, with the social wing supplying aid and assistance to the peoples' neglected needs, the militia striking an identified common enemy, and the political portion standing for successful election. For Hezbollah, it has resulted in an uneasy sharing of government in Lebanon, for Hamas, a similar conclusion with the Palestinian Authority.

In both instances long traditions of bloody resistance and resentment along ancient tribal and cultural lines has kept mutual enmity and outbreaks of violence alive. Now in Afghanistan the Taliban, resurgent in several provinces, despite the determined presence of NATO-affiliated foreign troops, has set up a parallel government opposite to and opposed to the duly constituted government of the country.

"The Taliban announced to the villagers that if they face any kind of problems, they should come to the court and they will find a transparent judgement", explained one of many questioned provincial Afghans, through a translator. "They deal with a number of cases: land disputes, family disputes, loan disputes, robbery, killing fighting ... and the people are happy with them."

The population, widely dispersed, and far from the urban centers of the country, experiences ongoing frustration and disappointment, never quite knowing with whom they might align themselves, the government officials who are enduringly corrupt, or the insurgents plying their harsh and unforgiving version of Islam. The triad of despair is complete with the NATO presence which they construe as bringing additional adversity from the destruction of poppy fields to bombing civilians.

"We see trouble from the Taliban, from NATO and from the Afghan government. They [Taliban] don't allow schools. We don't have schools and our children don't understand what schools are. We are totally deprived of the rights that a human being should have", they mournfully advise their interlocutors. And they advise that 70% of their districts, west of Kandahar city, are under Taliban control.

They handily detail the Taliban modus operandi, of the Taliban separating their people into units, where one unit becomes responsible for planting the ubiquitous and too-often deadly improvised explosive devices along roadways, while another carries out attacks on Afghan police and NATO forces, and the third ambushes military supply convoys, while another clandestinely collects information, reporting on locals.

Any Afghans, village locals, farmers, who seek to ally themselves with government agencies, or to give information to government agents, are identified, isolated and murdered by the Taliban as just punishment for betraying them. "Yes", said one, "we do like Islamic Shariah law, but not the way the Taliban are doing it right now. Islam is not strict and harsh, it's a religion of peace and brotherhood.

"They are burning the schools, killing the teachers and the students." Young men often are happy to join the Taliban, their agenda of guns, power, money and motor vehicles appeal to the values of young men, finding the life of an insurgent exciting. The excitement extending to fighting, killing, experiencing age-old traditions of warfare in a war-torn and brutally poor area of the world.

The Taliban have been successful even in infiltrating Kandahar City, where officials of the Afghanistan government may find it useful to work discreetly with the Taliban. Where, in any event, they set up their parallel 'officials' under cover to work quietly alongside those of the actual officials.

Their shadow administrations have been set up to enable them to fully take charge at such time as they become successful in their mission to once again administer the affairs of the country, after ousting foreign troops, and toppling the current government of the country.

The very like agenda of those other groups, Hezbollah, Hamas.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Virulent Anti-Semitism

Does history repeat itself? When does it not? Surely the world remembers Durban, South Africa in 2001, when allegedly 'NGO' confreres magnanimously handed out broadsheets in praise of Adolf Hitler's Judenrein agenda? Where appreciative crowds could ogle caricatures of the hook-nosed Jewish stereotype, gorging on the blood of gentile children? And which United Nations officials denounced after the fact, as "virulent anti-Semitic behaviour", and as such never to be repeated.

That was then, seven years ago, at Durban, when the first United Nations World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance took place. As a purportedly honourable and credible attempt by a commission of the world body to look racism straight in its ugly face and denounce it, deride it, expunge it from human experience.

A new day would dawn, where all the countries of the world would pledge to eradicate racism, to happily embrace their universal, compassionate responsibility to their fellow man.

Except that what the conference bred and encouraged was a raucous and exuberant display of fascist intolerance, of the deliberate isolation of a sole country as the foremost example of racist ideology and the hateful targeting for contempt and abuse. Israel, whose formation resulted from the Jewish nation realizing that there would be no safety for Jews anywhere in the world other than to settle back where history and geography bred them.

A country settled by Jews, governed by Jews, and established for the sole purpose of offering a safe haven for Jews from all over the world. Where Jewish lives, their culture, their tradition, their religion, would be honoured and safeguarded. Events in past history proved all too conclusively that social and public opinion could be readily vulgarized to view a Jewish presence as a contaminating social disease.

That the world would stand by as millions of Jewish lives were painstakingly processed, numbered, tracked, and exterminated. Jewish property re-assigned, and nothing to go to waste; their ragged concentration-camp clothing, their gold dental appliances, their bones for soap production, their skin for exquisite leather-making and lamp-shade manufacture. Their priceless antique religious symbols worthy of show in a museum dedicated to a lost civilization.

At the original Durban conference in 2001, after all the denunciations of Israel, the campaigning against its legitimacy, the parading of signage equating Zionism with racism, and Israel designated a brutal regime of human-rights abuse, a communique was released denoting Israel's Zionist immigration rules as being "based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination of the occupied territory...a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security."

There, that about covers it all. The land of Israel exists as a human-rights abomination, a despicable plot to take territory not their own, a governmental and national dedication to further the degradation of an already land-marginal people, deprived of what was historically theirs. This, from countries that have traditionally waged territorial warfare on one another, where the winner takes the spoils, the losers bewail cruel fate.

African countries from the Sudan to Congo to Zimbabwe, whose contemptible abuse of their own people exists beyond human comprehension. Forever fractious, their enmity for one another, their careless and criminal neglect of their peoples' fundamental human needs abrogated, yet they stand in judgement of a duly and justly constituted country given acknowledgement in the very world body now an accessory of the conference condemning Israel.

Middle-East potentates, charlatans, dictators, theocrats and their totalitarian governments imposing rigid standards on a vast population for their own personally availing and very particular authoritarian rule, whose legendary abuse of human rights and casual practise of torture, along with traditional honour killings, and impositions of fatwas on those insulting Islam, insist on teaching a liberal democratic country true values.

Israel, the committee claims, is guilty of torture, along with a form of genocide, and presents as a threat to international peace and security. The agenda declares that Jerusalem must be liberated from "foreign occupation together with all its racial practices" and affirms the right of Palestinians to "return to their homeland". That this is also the traditional, historical and cultural homeland of the Jews is of no moment.

The newly-released agenda emanating from the organizing committee chaired by Libya, Pakistan, Iran and Cuba presents as an vilely outstanding manifesto of pure hatred. Against the State of Israel, and extended now with great clarity, to the world of the West, the free countries of the world, the liberal democracies, the secular world which is clearly "Islamophobic".

The declaration draft considers "counter-terrorism or national security", along with "freedom of expression" taking place in countries of the West, as "obstacles in hampering progress in the collective struggle against racism". The draft calls for "binding international standards" for the purpose to "take firm action against negative stereotyping of religions and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols."

It insists governments in the West must take steps to adopt laws "preventing and punishing" intolerance in "public and private life". The declaration obviously insists on re-shaping Western thoughts and values, to turn them to more accommodating and useful state interventions enabling totalitarianism. A state far more useful to Islamists and West-haters than what currently obtains.

Durban II is shaping up very nicely, under the auspices of the United Nations and its creature bodies. All the rights and freedoms valued in democratic societies, our cherished principles and values are to be speedily abolished for the far more worthwhile objective of satisfying the aggrieved resentment of countries accustomed to repression and totalitarian rule. Of the very real threats imposed by jihad against the West, of the demonization by Islamists of the West no word.

The agenda for the coming Durban II conference to be held in neutral Geneva in 2009, has been drafted. The isolation and excoriation of Israel as a world-class racist country has been expanded. This time Western nations also become targets, condemned as "Islamophobic". And there you have it, another event of great significance in the history of the United Nations.

Durban II promises to be a celebration of mediocre thought, a polished hate agenda, a validation for the failed nations of the world that in their numbers they have the UN's political, ideological advantage. Long may they fester.

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Financial Collapse Fall-Outs

While the Muslim world rejoices that the American economy is struggling to keep its financial breathing apparatus above the drenching waves of collapse that has assailed it, claiming the financial meltdown to be a sign from on high that Allah is displeased with an enemy of Islam, their own markets are not faring all that well, either. Along with Europe and much of the rest of the world. All financial markets, internationally, have been swept along on the tidal wave of market collapse.

The reason for which has indeed been laid at the doorstep of U.S. financial institutions with their laissez faire attitudes and predatory free-market capitalist system. There's a certain irony there too, in that there has long been internal criticism in North America about the inexorably-rising gap between the wealthy and those struggling to make ends meet. It's ever been thus; the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

And here is the latter-day phenomenon of Americans believing that acquisition and ownership of costly quality products like houses and multiple vehicles and electronic toys, is available for all. That somehow, through some miracle of wishing hard enough, people whose incomes are insufficient to provide a bare subsistence life-style can still afford to purchase their own homes. The celebrated American dream, elusive for so many, finally come true.

The enablers of that encouragement to take what you cannot afford, fell under the magic spell themselves, never thinking of a day of reckoning, while they were handing out worthless papers with inadequate capitalization, to trusting markets all over the world. But everyone was convinced they were making good money on these worthless papers, from Realtors all the way up to money managers and financial moguls raking in bonuses for high reward.

Now the world waits with bated breath for the bottom to hit the stock market and housing prices. And while it is true that the problems began with the U.S. financial system, under the unwary auspices of their unregulated banks and hand-over-fist greed, the world of Islam, despite its Koranic lessons against usury, has earned itself troubled times as well.

And nowhere can that unhappy situation of collapsed economies be viewed as more deserving than in Iran. That baleful, boastful theocracy awaiting the spiritual rescue of Armageddon, while tossing bellicose existential threats at their Zionist-entity neighbour, so despised that the name Israel is deemed blasphemous beyond redemption.

While oil prices were floating sky-high on the reality of emerging economic giants' increased needs, and countries like Russia, Iran, the Oil Emirates, Sudan and Venezuela were cashing in on the bonanza, they all with rare exception, swaggered on the world stage, and behaved like cranky, belligerent adolescents whose societally immature stance and damning human rights understanding left them few admirers.

The near collapse of the global financial system has led in part to a slowdown in energy acquisition. The excited international need for fossil fuels has been dramatically reduced, resulting in a sluggish oil market, a huge drop in the price of oil, and an ever-growing glut. At the much-reduced price per barrel of oil, now reduced to half of what it was a mere month earlier, Saudi Arabia is doing all right, as are its Gulf neighbours.

Russia and Venezuela have seen a sag in their coffers, and that will certainly spell trouble for Hugo Chavez, and his swaggering rhetoric, putting out the fires of discontent from disadvantaged Venezuelans. But it's Iran, with its far more slender margin of profitability from its oil fields, that is seeing hard times in its near future. Which appears to have given Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a miserable headache.

One he's had to nurse in private, excusing himself from public duty, and public view. Just as well, since he's being held in increasingly low regard by the Iranian electorate. That notoriously pompous windbag who so much revels in the 'myth' of the Holocaust and his promise to "wipe" Israel "from the pages of history", may be in for a permanent bout of sickness, threatening to remove him from the world scene.

He will not be missed. It's said that whenever the price of oil falls by a dollar a barrel, Iran's losses amount to roughly $1-billion. The country is hugely dependent on its sales of crude oil. It has never developed refining capacity. The country did acquire huge profits in its treasury. A huge amount of which was diverted by its ruling theocratic elite and its hyper-active president to a nuclear agenda.

It would have been too wasteful to squander the country's resources on raising the prospects of its citizens' living standards. Taking the initiative to diversify, to encourage entrepreneurial and small-business enterprise, to increase employment, to raise the expectations to invest for future independence from oil for that time when there would be no more.

He's in, it would appear, bad odour with the ruling elite, with the politicians, with the important merchant class, with the average person on the street. That might make anyone of his ambitious and egotistical ilk ill. So ill, alas, he may be forced to stand down.

There may be hope for the country, after all.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Extraordinary Times

One can only suppose that throughout human history people have felt they're living in extraordinary times. In a sense, that's likely correct, since events are always occurring, natural and man-made, that surprise us and provide us with more than enough trials and tribulations to keep us busy trying to circumvent the harm they do to us. There's a limit to what humankind can do to fend off cataclysmic natural events that cause upheavals leading to mass human migration, and stress on the environment.

And, it would seem, there's also a limit to what humankind can do to defend itself from the relentless, ongoing onslaught from other humans who seem to feel that their destiny is to create other types of cataclysmic upheavals. Say, for example, overturn, through violent actions, the orderly and accepted methods by which human settlements have agreed upon, resulting in stable and safe societies. There will always be some groups resentful and aggrieved by the modus operandi of other groups.

Nature has endowed us with an unfortunate tendency to tribalism, a required reaction in ancient times to enable human creatures to persevere in small supportive collectives against the ravages of natural events and other small supportive collectives who would wage aggression for the purpose of achieving for themselves rare and needed natural attributes through territorial aggression.

We fought one another over resources that would enable us to live to see another day. Hunting territory, agrarian lands, ores that could be fired and shaped, lakes and rivers that could provide potable water for ourselves and our flocks of grazing sheep and cattle. The tribe to which one belonged was always the right one; the others were inevitably the wrong ones.

That was then, this is now. Religion was constructed by wise men to teach their flocks that peace was preferable to war, that all of humankind is related and thus needful of compassion and understanding and mutual care for one another. Which handily explains why, in the present era, Islamists have launched yet another jihad against the kuffars who know no better than to deny the supremacy of Islam.

This is getting a trifle tiresome. How much longer must the world flail against itself? And how much longer must Canada, with its carefully balanced and nuanced responsibility to its citizens, to ensure their freedoms and rights, be taken for a fool? There are those unfortunate instances when, because extraordinary times cause extraordinary crimes, and the free world seeks to cope with both, we are taken advantage of.

Because we try so hard to be rational and balanced and just. We don't always succeed, as in those thankfully rare instances when we fail our own citizens. But too, in the case of the truly dreadful experiences of Arab-Canadians having been taken prisoner in the lands of their birth and incarcerated and tortured, we have been seen to fail our responsibilities in part - while those who have suffered that torture must claim some responsibility also.

The world is an uncertain place, it is true. But we learn to cope with uncertainties. Mostly by avoiding those situations which promise to erupt with a series of uncertainties that will, in the end, land heavily upon us. If one escapes a tyrannical, unstable country for a democratic stable one, accept the new citizenship and destroy the old one. And never, ever, return to a country where it is certain that abuse of its citizens, and torture, are commonplace.

That said, if Canada has been sloppily unaware or its agents uncaring enough to cause harm to any of our citizens, it is dreadfully wrong, obviously regrettable, and does not reflect the wishes of Canada or its people. This country has acquired a lamentable reputation as being a possible haven for the world's psychopaths, those who cause limitless harm to others, then escape justice by fleeing to Canada for refuge.

We're so gracious, we hardly know when we're being used and abused. As in the case of two former Montrealers who were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. They were nominally 'Montrealers', in the sense that they were passing through, not citizens of the country, but as a respite from their other, more important dealings, being part of al-Qaeda, and engaging in jihad.

Yet lawyers for Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Ahcene Zemiri insist that the Federal Court of Canada order the country's security agents to give over details of interviews the men say they had with RCMP and CSIS agents in an effort to support themselves at trial, and hold Canada complicit yet again for failings at a time when it must protect itself from the incursions of jihadist agents.

Yes, the RCMP and CSIS do, from time to time, pass information to U.S. security authorities. This is quite simply what allies and good neighbours do. Canada cannot and would not control what happens with that data, that is hardly its concern; protection of its home turf and its citizenry is. The two men in question must themselves respond to the queries to be resolved at their trials.

Give support to a violent movement intent on destroying the peace and security of another country by impairing its civil infrastructure, by murdering its people, and pay the piper.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Best Of All Possible Countries

My country, 'tis of thee. Canadians love their country. It is a bastion of freedom, a liberal democracy that celebrates the diversity of its population, where pluralism is the order of the day, with every citizen assured of their rights and freedoms under the country's vaunted Charter and Constitution.

This is a societally well balanced country, a fair and just society. What more could any citizen wish for than to live in peace and security and to just get on with their lives? For most of us this is just how it is.

For some rare few of us, mostly those who haven't enjoyed the good fortune of being born Canadian, and who have migrated to this country to enjoy its freedoms and revel in their newfound rights, things sometimes go spectacularly awry. But then, who could have anticipated world shattering events that would have the end result of casting suspicion on many who, though innocent, may have presented as potential threats to society?

We all are aware of the misfortunes visited upon Maher Arar and his wife, Monia Mazigh. And it was through his experiences and the enquiry that followed that we learned there were others. Ahmad Abou-El-Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin, all three of whom are Canadian citizens, albeit also citizens of their Middle Eastern birth countries. All three of whom suffered similar imprisonment and torture that Maher Arar did.

That is truly unfortunate, that innocent people are held in suspicion, arrested, incarcerated and tortured. Not in Canada, it simply would not, could not happen like that in Canada. But, it would appear most unfortunately, Canada, through its agencies, has been complicit through neglect and sloppy investigative techniques and sheer disinterest in the harm done to innocents, in complicity in these peoples' arrests, incarcerations and torture.

Not a pretty picture. Particularly when descriptions of incarceration and torture are made public. Seventeen months in a dark underground cell. Hands locked behind one's back, being forced to eat off a floor. Whipped and beaten, interminable fearful interrogations. Physical and psychological torture. Fearing they would never be freed, never see the light of day, their family's faces again.

It's not quite that Canadian authorities were in complete ignorance of the fact that torture in Egyptian and Syrian and other Middle-East jails is commonplace. It's that, knowing this, they shared clumsy and faulty intelligence with agents in those countries that practise torture. And in the process provided them with a list of questions to be put to the victims, hoping for useful responses - through the use of torture.

But this was out of sight, therefore out of mind. The techniques used by other agencies to extract information was of no concern to CSIS, the RCMP and the Department of Foreign Affairs, it would seem, from the conclusions reached by former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci on the release of his report examining Canada's role in the tragedy that befell these three men.

It's simple enough to get yourself into the full spectrum of dread and despair that these men faced for intolerable periods of incarceration, questioning, and brutal violence. Read Terry Waite's "Taken on Trust" description of his 5-year-incarceration in Beirut, Lebanon, a prisoner of Hezbollah, who valued him as a bargaining chip because he was renowned for his efforts in trying to obtain the release of Western abductees.

An unfortunate but perhaps predictable echo of what had befallen Maher Arar. This is unforgivable, and unfortunate as well. Not only because of the dire and dreadful experiences of these men alone. But also because this country does face real and present threats to the security of the country through the auspices of those in the country whose goal it is to create division and strife and disaster.

If our critical security agencies cannot get themselves to the point where they govern themselves professionally to do their jobs, to protect the country, the government and society at large, how can we trust them?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obscene FanatIcism

Afghanistan presents itself as a serial failure. A critically unstable country unable to provide for its own economic well being, and as a society incapable of offering its people the freedom to be normal human beings with normal aspirations toward self-sufficiency and a future for their children.

One of the five most indigent countries of the world, torn generation after generation by conflict, it is a truly desolate place. Along with its endemic poverty, corruption is resolutely entrenched as a tradition and is as much a part of the society as its unforgiving religion.

Despite liberation from the iron rule of the Taliban, women walk about in burqas, revealing nothing of their semblance to the female beings. Governance is disjointed, despite the currently elected government of Hamid Karzai in whose parliament sit the very warlords who had fractured and violated the country after the departure of the Russians, many of whom still govern various provinces as their personal satrapies.

This is a country mired in the historical past, religious and tribal and geographic. Its traditional hierarchical culture is one in which mullahs and tribal chiefs are authoritarian, tyrannical and to be abjectly obeyed. Illiteracy and innumeracy are rampant. Honour killings remain an integral part of tradition. Wives are treated as chattel and girls married by thirteen.

The international community is invested with the notion that it must bring full democracy to Afghanistan, to rescue it from itself, from its past, its traditions, its religious fanaticism. While the fundamental Afghanistan remains mired in the memory of the Islamic caliphate re-born under the Taliban, UN and NATO forces strive doubly to wrest the country irrevocably from the Taliban, and to introduce 21st Century sensibilities to its politics.

While fighting off the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents - along with all the foreign Islamists eager to fight honourable jihad on behalf of an Islamic country - foreign troops and their diplomats and their NGOs are also heavily engaged in infrastructure building, in setting up schools and health clinics and instructing men and women on their freedoms and rights. Volunteers from abroad come to teach their judiciary, their military and police.

Yet, it must be asked, just how much separates the moderates, like Hamed Karzai, from the fanatics? An Afghan journalism student who mistakenly thought his country had already arrived into the 20th Century asked an unappealing question to his journalism tutor with respect to Islamic tenets concerning women's rights, while in class. He was swiftly yanked back to the 14th Century.

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a journalism student, was convicted of blasphemy. Under Sharia law, incorporated into the Afghan constitution, it is illegal to insult Islam by questioning any of its tenets. The punishment for which is death. One might consider it to be a human right to question matters of concern. It is the most elemental of Western freedoms.

International outrage over that case resulted in the young man being re-tried. He has now been sentenced to 20 years in prison, an improvement over death, but in an Afghanistan prison, one might equivocate. It represents a living death. His brother, another journalist, is convinced that influential Islamists compelled the appeals court to impose that penalty, and took President Karzai along with them.

The 24-year-old budding journalist has doubtless been cured of his human-rights curiosity; at least in that particular type of forum. He has now spent a full year in Kabul's dread prison system. If the international community fails to adequately express its outrage over this miscarriage of justice for the sake of appeasing fanatical Islamists, he has another 19 years to go.

He joins another ex-journalist in the country who a month ago was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the unpardonable sin of publishing a translation of the Koran that was held to contain errors.

Errors in judgement; they exist everywhere.

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Validation of Venality

It's widely held that ethnic, tribal and personal greed have institutionalized corruption throughout the African continent. The world's poorest, most ignored population exist in sub-Saharan Africa, and social disruptions due to civil wars; inner and outwardly-directed conflicts, ensure that Africans inherit the dust of the earth.

Countless sums of foreign aid is directed toward African countries as the developed world attempts, time after time, to shore up both reasonable and tyrannical regimes.
All, it so often seems, to no avail. African babies sicken and die, infants are diseased by their miserable fecal-laden environment, and children and adults alike are laid low by insect- and water-borne diseases.

The governing elites of the African countries always appear to do very well for themselves, skimming off handsome sums of foreign aid before it begins to filter down to those desperate for help.

Tribal disagreements in general and in some countries in particular, lead to fractious in-fighting, where politicians are more concerned with retaining or gaining power than in ameliorating the dire conditions in which their people live. Religious conflicts further exacerbate uneasy co-existence, as each group seeks advantage over the other.

There are some rare and celebrated African success stories where politicians make a true effort to govern fairly and responsibly, but they're far too few and far between. Even those countries which may reach an even keel of governance resulting in a healthy economy and a well employed and remunerated (relatively speaking) population, too often fall by the wayside.

In 2006, a wealthy Sudanese telecommunications mogul determined that it might be a helpful initiative to offer a continent-wide acknowledgement annually to celebrate that singular individual who managed to govern his country wisely and well. The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership was unveiled with its purpose to single out a praiseworthy African leader.

Its inaugural winner of the prize was Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique. This year's prize winner has been announced in the person of former Botswana president, Festus Mogae. His prize was formally awarded by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who praised Mr. Mogae's efforts in battling AIDS within his country.

"Botswana demonstrates how a country with natural resources can promote sustainable development with good governance, in a continent where too often mineral wealth has become a curse." Botswana is considered one of the continent's most reliably stable nations, enjoying a high credit rating, allied with one of the continent's best standards of living.

All of which is praiseworthy, needless to say, but it defies intelligence why an administration governing any country would seek to do any less than has been accomplished in Botswana. There is an overwhelming obligation of any who seek to govern, to do it well, to advance the well-being of the country's people, in stable, efficient and effective administration.

The very fact that this much has been accomplished should in and of itself be a source of pride. What really can be the use of a generous cash prize in the value of $5-million to the acknowledged annual recipient, other than to advance the already well established continental mind-set that legislators are entitled to weighty personal emoluments?

Why not encourage instead the moral and ethical and practical achievement of governing success as worthy of high respect and acclamation? A prize could still be attached to the award, but wouldn't it make far more sense to award the prize to the country and the citizens who benefited from responsible rule and who should be entitled themselves to that very same responsible rule?

Why not invest, as an award and reward, an endowment in the winning leader's name, to honour him through his people, and toward posterity? What greater reward could a leader of a country garner than the respect, esteem and honoured memory from those he served? An endowment that would benefit the country as a whole, and in which the award recipient could take immense pride, bearing his name?

An endowment for a series of orphanages, or medical clinics, or institutes of higher learning, or refuges for battered women, or scientific laboratories to study agrarian improvements relative to the country, for example. This type of initiative would bring the governed into the picture, gift them, not only their leader who in fact managed to govern in a manner that should be expected of him.

If the idea is to entice and to teach and to reward politicians in Africa, it could and should be done with an impetus toward encouraging rewards other than personal cash; they, after all, represent their country's upper crust to begin with. Award them with popular acclaim, not only the gratitude of their country for responsible governance, but the recognition of the international community.

Everyone craves recognition. The craven and the venal look for avenues by which they can avail themselves of greater wealth, leaving them reliant on mass corruption. Africa is badly in need of politicians with a greater goal, that of helping their fellow citizens attain a decent standard of life.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Divine Right To Murder

The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan reveal themselves as fighters for Islamic justice and principles and values. They are in their element, this is their geography, and they fight to uproot the crusading Godless marauders from their homeland. They espouse the goodness of Islam, the rigidly-observed principles of Islam as set down in the Koran and it is their intent to continue ruling the area with their interpretation of tyrannical Sharia law.

Tyrannical only to those who cannot fathom the ways of Islam, and the just demands for submission that the holy scriptures demand from the faithful. Life is what it is. And if freedoms are seen to be lacking under Sharia law as administered by the Taliban that simply is what life under the mullahs is construed to be. The faithful must adhere to scriptural tenets that are not to be questioned; every moment of every waking day must be consecrated to Allah.

This is the archaic Islam of its dim tribal initiations one and a half millennia ago, and it is the current presentation of Islamist precepts. Education for women and children is an insult to their tradition and culture. Beardless faces represent an underhanded assault on Islamic purity, the sign of an idolater. Dancing and music are reprehensible in that joy and freedom are not recognized as elements of acceptable traditional practise.

Those who hold that Islam respects life, and enjoins Muslims not to take the lives of other human beings incorrectly translate scripture, they are pseudo-Muslims, an affront to the Faith. Foreigners and those who seek to support them earn death. Foreigners who have committed themselves to the altruistic work of supporting the indigent, the frail, the physically impaired are likewise targeted for death. Their arrogance in uprooting tradition earns them death.

Warriors of jihad are mindful of their duty to Islam. There is nothing contemptible about the assassination of women, of teachers, of children; the destruction of schools and health clinics. This is a battle joined to elevate Allah in the minds and hearts of the people. Their sacrifice in life lost is due measure for subverting Islamic values and adopting corrupted Western cultural traditions.

The targeted assassinations of Afghan Cabinet ministers, of Afghan police, and militia; a senior policewoman whose task it was to protect Afghan women and children; of international aid workers may be seen as despicable in the opinion of the world looking in, but it represents a just dessert in the opinion of a Taliban militia looking toward their future re-investment in administration of the country.

Western values are not Islamic values. All those who support the work of the foreign occupying forces doom themselves to an inglorious death. Just as Western, NATO ISAF forces hunt down the Taliban militia, bomb their mountain aeyries, so too does the righteous Taliban hunt down the intruders in Muslim lands. Freedom to go the way of Western countries will not be accepted or tolerated as an option.

Human desolation appeals enormously to Muslim Islamist sensibilities.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

A Transformational Figure

Most certainly that would be what Barack Obama represents; a transformational figure in American society, and on the American political scene.

Finally, a society that has so long been polarized into camps of white and black, immersed in agonizing attempts at conciliation, has finally discovered an individual who straddles both solitudes. Someone whose personality and style appeals to both camps. Someone whose oratory and promises for a better future enthralls those who would like to believe that much more can be attained than has been possible up to the present.

So he has amassed a flock of supporters representing every walk of life in America; the young and the elderly, the educated and the illiterate, the wealthy and the poor. They see in him a political Messiah, someone who can rescue them from their suspicions of one another, someone who pledges to restructure the country to represent fairness and justice for all, without exception.

Someone, above, all who presents as radically different, more dependable and honest than the current administration. Someone who has seen society from all angles, and who has put in his time struggling to assist those living in the nether regions of neglect.

Senator Obama's support has come from many surprising, and not-so-surprising areas of society's spectrum and the political arena. Academics who have pledged themselves to his support, and Republicans who have disavowed the electioneering tactics of their candidate; above all Senator McCain's choice of running-mate, to stand in support of his rival.

And perhaps most tellingly of all, Senator Obama has been wildly successful in out-raising the Republicans in campaign funding support to a degree never before seen. If public funding alone could win the presidency, Senator Obama has it wrapped up, just waiting for the ribbon to be cut.

And here is another American black, one who attained high office through determination and professional prowess, a popular figure who himself once was reputed to be a potential presidential offering for the Republican Party. And whom the Republican Party, and most particularly, George W. Bush, the incumbent, used and abused, and hung out to dry, destroying his honour and credibility in the process.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has expressed his unease with the Republicans' resorting to sordid campaign techniques, attempting in desperation to smear the character of their opponent. More, he has praised Senator Obama for his "steadiness, intellectual curiosity, depth of knowledge and approach to looking at problems ... a definitive way of doing business that I think would serve us well", in throwing his support behind his candidacy.

The election of Senator Obama to the presidency, said Mr. Powell, would "...not only electrify the country, it will electrify the world". Who could deny it? That the United States would finally have laid to rest its tradition of racial intolerance, to the extent that finally, someone of a black complexion and varied experience would attain the highest office of the land. It's been long coming. And it will gain America great respect; internally, externally.

There is no perfect candidate. There are always suspicions and fears, and hopes that the candidate that one supports will prove true to his promise and his promises. No one can foretell whether a candidate, once in office, will be able to produce a desired effect, be capable of turning around social and political traditions for the end result of benefiting the entire country.

There may be elements of a candidate's personality and past that give pause for doubt. But consider the alternative. And the case rests.

And then there's the endorsement, a really courageous one, of William Buckley's son, Christopher, for Barack Obama. His father celebrated non-conformance to the customary mode of thought, expression and tradition; that people must learn to think for themselves, to weigh options and opportunities, and to come out in favour of the better life well lived. The challenge is there, writ large.

It's time for a change. And sometimes the time is right for a colossal change.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Decorated Hero

His father and his grandfather before him were proud military men, upstanding and outstanding members of their community. Proud Britons, with a proud history behind them. The thirty-year-old, born in northern Scotland, married, father of two young children, also a decorated sniper with the elite Black Watch regiment. At his young age, already accomplished with a distinguished career in the army.

He was even delegated to guard Queen Elizabeth during a visit to Hong Kong. He was with the British contingent in Iraq, where he was admired by his fellow troopers. He was courageous, demonstrated a cool head even under fire. His commanding officer had nothing but praise for him "one of the finest soldiers, if not the finest soldier, I've commanded".

A model citizen of his country. A credit to his upbringing. Someone whose values and conduct would ensure his children would be well patterned to themselves become sterling individuals and do their family, their society, their community, and their country proud. What more could anyone ask for?

Other than that, fifteen years earlier, when he was fifteen years of age, he admired Nazi Germany; thought, felt and behaved like a flaming racist, and murdered an immigrant, a black Bangladeshi who'd had the unmitigated nerve to open a restaurant in Kirkwall, Orkney. An affront to every decent Scotsman, in the mind of Michael Ross.

Wearing a balaclava, he entered Shamshuddin Mahmood's restaurant, full of patrons, and shot him fatally with a pistol. Then turned and ran off, changing his clothes to escape detection. He had informed friends that "blacks should not be up here and should be shot". Well done. He'd been an enthusiastic army cadet, received training and became a top marksman.

He was fascinated with weapons, and knew them intimately, absorbed by firearms. And attained marksman status by age 14. The prosecutors at his trial, fifteen years after the murder, when he was finally brought to justice, claimed the killing represented "all the hallmarks of a professional hit, savage, merciless and pointless".

At the time there was no proof he was involved. There was no weapon found or any other forensic evidence to work on beyond the cartridge - a nine-millimetre - unusual. Which was handed over to a firearms expert for further examination. Police Constable Eddie Ross, Michael Ross's father. Whose considered expert opinion it was that no weapon existed on the island capable of firing that bullet.

It was later revealed that he was himself in possession of similar bullets, and it was from his cache that his son armed himself. The senior Ross was convicted of perversion of justice and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. Losing his 23-year constabulary position and with it his pension. His son admitted to nothing, and went on to establish his military career.

A witness at the scene of the murder who had remained silent over the years finally stepped forward to identify Michael Ross as the murderer in the unsolved case, but anonymously, through a note which brought attention to him and aided in his identification. And a former girlfriend testified that Michael Ross had told her he had taken a gun from his father's weapons cabinet.

The presiding judge said "This was a vicious, evil, unprovoked murder of a defenceless man. The attack was a premeditated assassination. The evidence disclosed that you held racist views and sympathy for Nazi Germany. these views were not only abhorrent but an insult to the memory of those including members of your own distinguished regiment, who sacrificed their lives in opposition to them and in support of democratic principles."

This murderous racist hero was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 25 years to be served before eligibility for parole. Justice is patient, she awaits her opportunity, and claims the unjust.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Foiled Ambition

Countries with massive deposits of highly desired commodities in this energy-hungry world should govern themselves with a reasonable balance of awareness that their geography's natural endowments will not last forever. With the understanding that their newfound wealth is based on a source which is not infinite. That the great bounty they reap in their natural gas and oil fields has a limit.

Moreover, those energy-sourced riches belong to the nation, to the people whom their governments represent. The obligation is to use that wealth selectively and wisely, to advance the best interests of the country, ensuring that all its citizens gain from collective ownership. In Sudan there's the reality of oil wealth distributed for the ruling Arab-dominated hierarchy, while black Darfurians are bereft of any largess.

In Iraq, unless a tripartite agreement is reached between the Sunni, Shia and Kurds, the Sunni population will not benefit, with the area they inhabit not rich in oil deposits. In Venezuela, their president has swaggered on the world stage, insulting those whom he avers are ideological and class enemies to his country, while using the country's oil wealth to buy gratitude and loyalty in friendly, socialist nations.

In Russia, massive petroleum output has rescued the country from its slide into post-Soviet Union ignominy and economic collapse to the point where now the country has become wealthy beyond its imaginings, with a greater number of billionaires than any other country of the world. Enabling its government to revisit its autocratic bullying past and make good on its resentment of the West.

And in Iran, huge oil reserves have allowed that country to rise above its otherwise mediocre national performance, to reach for nuclear technology well before its peoples' need for economic security. Iran's ambition to spread the Shi'ite brand of Islam, and to assume for itself, after an enormous historical hiatus, the mantle of leader of the Islamic world has led it to finance terror.

They've all basked in the satisfaction achieved through wealth and the power that is derived from an assured income dependent not on the proven capabilities of a society to educate and inform, to encourage trade and business interests reaching into the world at large to engender good relations, but through sitting back and enjoying the windfalls of commodities ownership.

In the process, they've preened themselves and bullied themselves into positions of offering aid to those in their neighbourhoods who are less fortunately endowed by nature, and issuing belligerent warnings to yet others with whom they've shared traditional hostilities, bolstered by the impetus of emerging status as wealthy countries.

And wealthy countries governed by totalitarian or theocratic elites tend, like their poorer relatives in dictatorships, to use national wealth for the acquisition of the toys of war. The better to threaten others, under the guise of self-protection. And when opportunities arise to spread the tentacles of their hegemonic powers, weapons and a well-ordered professional army prove useful in the extreme.

Almost universally, the single most successful political, economic and social country in the world is widely despised and envied, admired and derided. Leaders in Moscow, Caracas and Tehran - among many others worldwide - have taken much satisfaction in the recent financial meltdown that began in the United States. That it has spread worldwide, only furnishes America's harshest critics with more ammunition.

But it's the oil cartels that are now also suffering a setback in their plans for their future incomes. While they gloat over the misfortunes of failed financial markets, they're also seeing the price of oil plummeting from a high of $147 a barrel throughout the summer months, to the current $70 a barrel. Many other oil-producing countries have had the good sense to amass a currency reserve.

The oil sheikdoms of the Middle East, with the exception of Iran, will earn less money from their oil production and exports, but they're well positioned nonetheless, since their production costs are still low enough that they continue to reap a hefty enough profit. Not so for Iran, whose costs are far higher; like Venezuela, it needs a $95-a-barrel market price to see a balanced budget.

Even with Iran's great oil earnings, the country was never awash in wealth. It has been incapable of creating wealth through other mean; unemployment is high, the average Iranian is struggling to get by, and previously subsidized goods for public consumption will now face cut-offs. Too much of the country's wealth has been consumed in nuclear technology, too little has trickled down to help the economy.

Iranians now face a tax increase, in an already-floundering economic landscape. People will pay more for sugar, cooking oil and wheat. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's popular appeal will plummet even further, at a critical time for him, facing re-election next summer. So it's of more than passing interest to read what the country's ayatollahs have to say.

In a thundering sermon replete with schadenfreude, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami blamed Washington's lust for power for the 'economic tsunami' now afflicting the American economy. It's his wisely considered opinion that the now-universal financial crisis damns the liberal democratic ideology embraced by the developed world. "...We are today witnessing defects in the utopia and its crushing failure."

No blush of self-awareness over Iran's overwhelming lust for power, for regional hegemony, for elevation of Shia Islam over the majority Sunni Islam, and Iran's obvious challenge to the Arab nations, other Muslim countries in the shared geography of the Middle East.

Iran's arrogant dismissal of the UN Security Council's admonishments, and its final desperate attempts to have Iran cease its nuclear enrichment program aimed at the creation of nuclear warheads are airily dismissed as misunderstandings. While Iran's neighbours understand clearly what its game is.

And the single Middle East country that is not Islamic, that is democratic, understands with a brilliant clarity that the country plans to number Israel's days with the finality of obliteration. The prospect of two nuclear-possessing countries facing off is not attractive anywhere in the world, be it Iran-Israel, or India-Pakistan.

So if Iran's fortunes have tumbled precipitously, it reflects the misfortune of the people of Persia who have allowed their fascistic Ayatollahs to attenuate their human rights in the name of religious righteousness. That, even with the support of Iran's friends, she was shut out of Asian (two-year) membership on the UN Security Council, should give the country a heads-up.

Iran is doing a great many things counter-productive to its own interests and that of the world at large. If oil prices settle at a price-per-barrel on the international market that dictates further and deep-cutting financial failure for the country, its theocratic rulers should finally understand that Allah is not quite prepared to grant it the potential to annihilate anyone.

That ancient country with its brilliant cultural traditions, its marvellous artistic past has devolved to the misfortune of utter stupidity in adhering to a religion and a way of life fashioned in a long bygone era, obviously unsuited as it is currently interpreted, to the world as it is today. Archaic civilizations routinely warred against one another, and to the winner went the spoils.

The UN body that Iran sought to join has as its ultimate function the obligation to attempt to oversee a world of peace. Iran has a long way to travel before it ever presents as a suitable candidate to join other countries in that search for human co-operation leading to peace among nations.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Biting The Hand of Comfort

Pakistan represents as a confused melange of interests; political, religious, legal and social. All countries are faced with managing those intersecting and inter-related conflicts, and in nations where the heads of state are elected by the people in the peoples' interests, their governing bodies must work toward settling conflicts for the good of the country as a whole.

Pakistan, which likes to think of itself as a moderately religious country with an avowed ambition to provide secular democratic governance, is mired in its history of mistrust of its neighbours and hatred toward other religions. Not the kind of neighbour one would knowingly choose to exist next door to. But then, nations inherit geographies, they do not go shopping for empty spaces in which to settle.

The country flirts with militant Islam, while maintaining its judiciary and legal system to be outside of religion. Yet its sizeable population of fundamentalist Muslims will continue to insist that their nation filter its justice through Sharia law; they indeed have much in common with the fanatical Taliban struggling to return to governing Afghanistan.

The country is on the verge of financial collapse, yet never does it ask itself whether it must continue to allocate funding to the nuclear dimension of armaments. India, after all, a true democracy, has the nuclear bomb. Pakistan's former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to power promising the masses bread, then directed the treasury toward succeeding in nuclear technology and the people went hungry.

Yet the media and the country's mullahs continue to propagate hatred against the myth of Zionist conspiracies to beggar the country. Their parlous economic state is alternately, a product of malign Indian intrigue. Or a combination of a deadly triad; where the United States, India and Israel together plot its downfall.

It's not a product of lack of education but one of deliberate delusion, ignorance, a national collective paranoia of a people incapable of focusing introspectively to determine why it is that their national agenda is so bitterly toxic for them. They wish to believe that the U.S. plans to invade Pakistan and hand it over to India.

And it's not only 'Zionists', Americans and Hindus whom they target, but also Ahmadiyya Muslims whom Pakistanis feel justified in feeling they should murder, as an affront to Islam, sham Muslims. That very Muslim sect that goes out of its way to live in peace with others, to denounce hatred and war-mongering.

Anyone speaking publicly in a moderate, Muslim voice is immediately suspect, considered to have been corrupted by the West. And here is a country eager for financial hand-outs anywhere it comes from. It's not flooding in from other Muslim countries, however. Where it does come from is the West, and particularly the United States.

But support of that kind doesn't come without obligations. Financial support for political accommodation. A billion dollars should buy at the very least a modicum of co-operation in assisting the United States in particular, and Western countries in general, to battle the very same scourge of Islamist jihad that Pakistan itself is being victimized by.

Funding for assistance in providing support for counter-terrorism. Not a bad bargain. But it will create even more tension, ensure a new wave of national hysteria, induce more Pakistanis to launch their own personal jihads wherever they can, whenever those countries of the West aligned with the U.S. in its terrorist battles, let down their guard.

Pity the people of Pakistan. Surely they deserve better. But do they, in supporting the polarized agenda of a political elite that hardly knows itself what it wishes to accomplish?

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Reason Prevails

At least one might wish that it was reason that prevailed in denying The Republic of Iran a temporary, two-year regional seat on the United Nation's Security Council.

Such United Nations' elections undertaken regularly on a rotating basis to offer member countries the opportunity to represent on various councils similar to the inter-governmental body known as the The Human Rights Council seem to attract nations whose track records in human-rights abuse would seem to disqualify them for representation, but somehow it never seems to work that way.

Countries well known for their human rights abuses sit on UN inter-governmental bodies, sitting in judgement of other member nations whose record is far superior to theirs, but their exalted position on these bodies, however temporary, lends them an aura of credence and respect. Their positions on such bodies creates the opportunity for such countries to seek to draw attention to the records of countries whom they cherish their right to spurn and to malign.

Hardly the stuff of mutual acceptance and communally respectful co-operation in the world body whose mandate is to moderate conflict and misunderstandings between nations and to ensure peace prevails world-wide. Yet Iran, confident that it could count on the support of Muslim and developing nations of the Non-Aligned Group, prepared itself to take a seat on the Council.

In its public relations campaign to entice other countries to vote for its ascension to the two-year term, Iran claimed itself to be "firmly committed to ... the goal of a world free from weapons of mass destruction". In a world where black is white and your enemies are your friends, this kind of misleading sophistry would fly; in a decent world of rational thought, that declaration is an insult to intelligence.

Canada, the United States and other countries of the West opposed Iran's attempt to suborn truth and reality, determined that Japan would fill the position for the vacant Asia seat. It's interesting to note that among the countries supportive of Iran, Pakistan was represented. Iran encourages terrorism and the spread of Shia jihad, while Pakistan is now in the throes of trying to beat it back.

Shared religious adherence, even with the bitter sectarian divide, trumps all other interests; the tribe mentality triumphs. But then, countries in Asia, Africa and South America are distrustful of Western, developed nations, and this despite that these are the very nations who dredge their treasuries to provide economic relief on an ongoing basis for those very same countries.

It's a human failing; we tend to resent those to whom we become materially indebted. Which never stops us from continuing to demand our just due; the wealthy giving to the impoverished. With the certain knowledge that a sense of social responsibility in liberal, socially advanced societies will always prevail, to ensure that that sense of entitlement will be respected.

Hurray, reason has prevailed, and Japan takes the vacant two-year Asia seat. As a country deserving of international respect and honour, this is a fitting outcome to a suspenseful challenge.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Legal Sophistry

The lawyer for Azim Ibragimov, twenty-five years of age, claims his client, although involved in the firebombing of a Jewish boys' school, along with a Jewish community centre on September 2, 2006, should not be held fully accountable for his part in the crime, because he was a follower. The planning of the crimes happened to be the brainchild of his colleague, Omar Bulphred, twenty-three years of age.

Three years' probation, lawyer Gaetan Bourassa insists, should suffice to teach the malefactor a lesson. Whereas Crown attorney Mario Dufresne's argument was somewhat different. This was not an unfortunate case of vandalism and and of itself, an antic indulged in by bored young men to create a diversion, to entertain themselves. This was an attack on a specific community.

"The goal was not to just damage property but to cause fear and intimidate ... the Jewish community", in asking for a four-year sentence. The lawyer for the defence disagrees; his client was guilty only of obeying his friend's directives. The older of the two accused is painted as immature, the helpful agent of a more forceful personality owned by the younger accused.

Who himself faces nine charges. Yet the older man has pleaded guilty to three counts of using fire or an explosive to cause damage to property, and one of uttering threats. They're charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to kidnap and to forcibly confine an individual, along with charges of explosives possession.

They're also charged with one count of damage by fire or explosion to a car. They've uttered death threats against a member of the Jewish community; threatened property damage or destruction to the Jewish community. These were no mere bored young men, but young men with an obvious Jew-baiting, Jew-hating agenda they planned to follow through on.

Terrorism by any other name. Jail terms tend to teach some lessons in civility when society insists that societal punishments follow societal crimes. Both men should be given sufficient incarceration time to allow them to think introspectively about living communally respectful lives in Canada.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's An Ill Wind

Still a month to go before Americans go to the polls. And yet, it seems the campaign is over. The candidates are still in there, grasping at every opportunity to enhance themselves and cast dark aspersions on one another. Seems, however, the battle, though it goes on, was won quite a while ago. There are two parties only, the electorate must make its selection; one or the other.

The currently governing Republicans have divested themselves of the public trust; this administration has been so devoid of anything remotely resembling good judgement it's hardly a wonder that the public has no stomach for more of the same. Even from a self-proclaimed 'maverick'. Who just happened to find it expedient to ditch his otherness and become as one with hard-right Republicanism values.

Deviating, though, to the other side, teetering with indecision, promising an all-out rescue for all the small investors, the householders, the business owners who have been trampled in the rush to buy out the corrupt debt of the nation's investment houses and banks who really don't have to change much, since bail-outs are so easy to come by.

His lunatic inspiration in nominating Sara Palin as his running mate, while gaining him a rise in public interest for a short blaze of glory, has run into the ground of reality. That this amply ego-endowed woman, while in some respects remarkable for her range of accomplishments outside the world of politics, represents now as another raw politician on the make.

And didn't she luck in. She'll dine out on that experience for a very long time. Just too bad that Senator McCain couldn't turn back the clock and muse a little longer to come up with an experienced, reasonable and worthwhile political partner in his gamble to achieve the presidency. Thereby resurrecting his own self-respect. His lamentably juvenile choice of vice-president has really deep-sixed his ambitions.

Choose a tired elderly gentleman who has led a more or less exemplary life and presents as an experienced politician with ambitions to outstretch his potential. Accompanied by a rough diamond that could be polished to the bright shine of a zirconium, learning on the job just like George W. did. Or select instead an evangelical-bright light of reason, eager and willing to learn on the job, ably assisted by a tried-and-trusted partner.

Either way there's a great, huge divide between expectation and potential. Anything can happen, and most likely will. Just think of George W. settling into a lacklustre but acceptable stint as a sitting-tight president, and then all hell breaks loose and he casts about for an anchor to focus on. That psychological trauma led the country to its current malaise.

Well-intentioned Senator McCain gone off-character in his zeal to present as the logical next choice. Or calm, poised and confident Senator Obama, ready to pick up the slack and turn the ship of state in another direction entirely.

If circumstances permit. Nothing is ever that easy.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Responsibility, it's totally absent in so many countries of the world, at the level of governance. At various levels of failure.

Some of which can be shoulder-shrugged, others just simply so bitterly vicious that the failures cannot be countenanced by human decency. Which is precisely why the United Nations, that great world body constructed to advance peace in the world felt compelled to undertake a motion that spoke of "The Responsibility to Protect" in instances where a national government behaved in a manner completely inimical to the human interests of its population.

It was a well-intended and no doubt heartfelt observation on the part of advanced, civilized nations to announce their unease with the obvious presence on the world stage of heartless totalitarian governments whose elite were more engrossed in enhancing their personal wealth prospects than administering the affairs of their country in a manner that might advance living prospects for their populations.

Burma is one such country, Sudan and Somalia others, Ethiopia yet another, and North Korea, with Zimbabwe exemplifying criminal neglect of its people. Yet although the UN has attempted repeatedly to intervene in Sudan, its attempts have been spurned; it has been unable to mount a 'Responsibility to Protect' mission, because in the real world most countries are unwilling to mount an offensive against another's regime, however criminal.

Despite ongoing UN censure, despite that most of Zimbabwe's neighbours - themselves not quite representative of human-rights-supporting regimes - having censured the blatant excesses in Robert Mugabe's governing methods, and despite the very active diplomatic efforts undertaken by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwe remains in Mugabe's deadly thrall.

Agreements for power-sharing with Morgan Tsvangerai have been abandoned, as Mugabe appoints his own people to key government posts. The power-sharing deal brokered by Mr. Mbeki has gone the way of all of Mugabe's promises.

Robert Mugabe set the stage for national economic and social-services collapse when he wrested ownership of large productive farm operations from the hands of white Zimbabweans, to place them in the custody of his 'veteran' fighters. In the process putting thousands of black Zimbabweans out of work as farm hands, and ensuring that the vast productive farms would lie fallow, producing nothing. Their current owners have no knowledge, no interest in farming.

From a once-wealthy country that was able to feed its people, and export food to other countries for profit, the country is now in the deadly grip of explosive inflation and endemic poverty. There are no everyday commodities to be found on store shelves. Companies that once produced products that Zimbabweans needed in their everyday lives, have now shut down production; imports of staples like flour have been halted. The country is completely beggared.

Somehow, there is still money available for President Mugabe and his cronies to live well, to be able to buy the latest electronic devices, high-priced vehicles and imported food. That Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF lost control of the country's parliament in the March election to Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC party is an irrelevant triviality. As a result of Mr. Mugabe's intransigent hold on power and continued inhumane reign, there is no employment, there is no hope.

There is nowhere that people, wishing to plant seeds for future harvests to feed themselves and others, even in the most subsistence attempts, can procure seeds to enable them to do even that. President Mugabe, convinced that international aid agencies have an agenda to somehow arrange his departure from power, controls who they may aid, and where they may take their life-sustaining aid to. The entire country, with the exception of a small elite group, is on the verge of extinction.

Severe malnutrition has evolved to stark starvation, embracing the bulk of the population. It's been estimated that five million people are on the brink of starvation. Most of the country's children no longer attend school, shortage of potable water has led to cholera. Food reserves are non-existent. And the diseases linked to unappeased hunger, like kwashiorkor, marasmus and pellagra - diseases unknown in the rest of the world - are ravishing infants, the young, adults alike.

"Half of the admissions end up in the mortuary", according to one overworked utterly disheartened doctor, as emaciated children die at home, in hospitals unable to treat them, incapable of providing them with life-sustaining food, for there is none to be had. "In hospital we cannot feed them. At least at home they can scrounge for things. We only keep those that we can see won't make it at home. We have lost the battle before we have fought it."

People are helpless to help themselves. There is no succour anywhere to be had. They are very well aware that their government will take action against them should they speak too loudly of their travails. Most doctors too are informed they must not speak publicly. "We are not allowed to appeal to donor organizations. It's terrible because so often help is so close, but we can do nothing about it."

There are certain sectors who are offered government help, however. The country's central bank recently spent $5-million on imported cars as gifts for the country's specialist doctors. "The situation can be salvaged if aid agencies are allowed to distribute food. But the trouble is Mugabe and Zanu-PF who think 'so what if people starve?'", said one doctor quietly.

The world's conscience, pricked on occasion by the genocidal agenda in Sudan, but resulting ultimately in no useful assistance to Darfurians, remains as transfixed by helplessness to act to help the abandoned people of Zimbabwe.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lest There Be Doubt

Iran appears sufficiently confident of itself that it seeks one of the non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council through a regular General Assembly election to take place on October 17. We should take heart that Iran is running against Japan for the Asian seat falling vacant at year's end.

Logically, it would seem that Iran might never be considered for such a post, given its longstanding record of human-rights abuses, and that the theocracy is a totalitarian government. But the world has seen on numerous other occasions where other states, some with terrorist-supporting backgrounds, have been nominated and taken their seats.

We will breathe a collective sigh of relief when Japan wins the vote and assumes its two-year term on the council, as expected.

There's no basis for even remotely comparing the two countries' records. Japan, a democratic country, an industrialized power house of innovation with no interest in challenging the legitimacy of its neighbours' existence; a strong ally of the West, a respecter of human rights.

As opposed to the Iranian Revolutionary Republic which suppresses free speech, enacts the death penalty under Sharia law, victimizes other religions like the Baha'i and treats dissenters to free room and board in their dread prisons.

Yet Iran's reputation as an aggressive and fundamentalist government which persecutes those of its people who do not conform to rigid societal-cultural-religious models in obedience to their Ayatollahs' interpretation of Koranic scriptures, sees no reason why it should not sit on the UN's Security Council.

Which, logically, should include only countries which pose no threat to their neighbours or the world at large. Consider: the Security Council comprised of the five permanent members has passed three rounds of sanctions on the country as a result of its refusal to give up its controversial uranium enrichment program.

Which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes to enhance needed power generation.

And which Western nations, given a multitude of clues, feel they have ample reason to believe that Iran's insistence on its right to enriched uranium is for a singular purpose; that aimed at pursuing nuclear weaponry. A suspicion that Iran continues to claim is unwarranted.

At the same time Iran, through its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, continues to warn Israel, the "Zionist entity", that it will be wiped from the map of the Middle East.

All of which combined results in an impression that this is a country whose current government presents an imminent danger to the geography of the Middle East, and beyond. Finally, it has been revealed by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that there is unequivocal proof of Iran's search for nuclear weapons.

The rejoinder from Iran is that the evidence presented by IAEA is fake.

Not much of an argument as to which of the two - the country or the UN nuclear watchdog - is to be believed. The IAEA has in its possession no fewer than 18 documents which put the lie to Iran's claim of peaceful nuclear use. Documents such as those which focus on methods to be used to install warheads on the country's Shahab-3 missile.

Others detailing infrastructure and methodology for the testing of nuclear devices. The experiments - whose existence was uncovered by Olli Heinonen, head of IAEA's safeguards - explained in a declaration to diplomats were "not consistent with any application other than the development of a nuclear weapon".

Details like detonators which another document described as representing "key components of nuclear weapons". Iran has exercised its penchant for stonewalling when asked by the IAEA to render meaningful explanations for the studies so the world can be assured of its peaceful intent.

Oddly enough, Iran had anticipated that it would have no problem persuading the IAEA of its peaceful intentions. Now that the documents have been isolated and presented as evidence of incontrovertibly contrary intentions in full breach of UN resolutions there really is little that can be expected of Iran since it refuses to relent.

Iran has its own supporters and admirers, from the governments of North Korea, Syria and Russia to disaffected Islamists and jihad-sympathizers all over the world. One supposes it cannot be all that surprising that Iran, despite all of the above, feels itself entitled to a Security Council seat.

Its president was able to stand up and deliver an address replete with racist-inspired denunciations and threats against another member of the United Nations with no ill after-effects. Not even a diplomatic chiding from the United Nation's Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon.

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