Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran In Flaming Dissent

The world watches, fascinated, aghast and hopeful. Fascinated at the events that have slowly built from a botched election and a disaffected society that have brought things to a head with an unofficial opposition to the clerical and brutal administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Protesters now being drawn out in hundreds of thousands-strong to confront a government they mistrust and detest. Aghast at the reaction of a fearful government, prepared to mount a bloody attack upon their citizens. Hopeful that the power of the people will prevail.

It has done so before, under the Shah of Iran who was thought to be a repressive tyrant, even while he eased restrictions for women in an Islamic state, and built new schools and hospitals. The popular reaction from the Iranian public against the continued reign of Shah Pahlavi paved the entrance back to the country from exile in France and the reigns of power in Tehran of the fanatical Islamist Ayatollah Khomeini who made swift work of any resistance to his imperial version of Islamist dynastic imperatives.

Foreign media have been banned from entry to the country, but their absence does not result in a complete loss of information coming out of the country during its latest political-religious-social paroxysm. Social media capabilities open the world to Iran's ferment. Fearful of just such a massive protest linked with the 7-day commemoration of the death of the opposition's spiritual leader and the Shia remembrance of the caliph who murdered the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, incendiary events unfolding now in Tehran and other cities, brought out the Basiji and the Revolutionary Guard.

With the result that protesters are deriving great satisfaction from stoning the militias that club and shoot them, and their glee at setting afire the Basiji motorcycles, their building, police stations, and freeing their colleagues from police vans, are great encouragements for continuation and escalation. Who might have thought a scant six months earlier that cries for the blood of the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would burst from the lips of Iranians? Demonstrators are breaking through cordons, blocking streets, stripping police officers of uniforms and weapons.

"People no longer fear", said one activist. Perhaps they have gained sufficient courage within themselves, with their growing numbers, and knowing that the world is watching and waiting, and hoping. It's more than likely that they've been puzzled that although countries like Canada have issued statements in support of the protesters, and condemnatory of the administration, no such statements of concerned support have been reported as issuing from that great communicator and social benefactor, President Barack Obama.

Perhaps Mr. Obama knows something that others do not. Perhaps he has taken to heart the statement of Tehran's police chief who has denied that any protesters have been stilled by death occasioned by official means. After all, Iran's deputy police chief has explained that one protester fell off a bridge, two died in car accidents and one was shot, but certainly not by any public agency. Presumably the opposition leader's nephew, Seyed Ali Mousavi, shot himself in the back.

Labels: , ,

Iran In Turmoil

"It is decreed that those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin (hypocrites - Iran's description of members of the opposition People's Mujahedin Organization) are waging war on God and are condemned to execution."
In a six-week period in the summer of 1988 a widespread, systematic series of executions succeeded in depriving thousands of people of their lives. These were political prisoners in Iran. People who had already spent years of their lives imprisoned for crimes such as demonstrating against the leadership of the country, distributing leaflets and newspapers critical of the Islamist regime, or those collecting charitable funds in support of prisoners' families. They were hauled out of their cells and brought before tribunals sitting in judgement.

And then they were executed without interruption until eight thousand people, within the space of two weeks, were killed. Between August and December prison guards read out ten names and those people were taken from their cells and never again seen, according to one eyewitness. Prisoners' families suddenly found themselves unable to visit, guards would not accept bribes or gifts for prisoners as they had formerly. And then bodies began to be seen in shallow unmarked graves in a Tehran cemetery meant for executed political prisoners.

The total number of those executed is unknown, but it is thought to be up to 30,000. It remains a 'state secret'. Those within the country who defied revolutionary Islamic values paid dearly. This is a country in which executions are a usual form of punishment. Criminal offences or moral offences considered a blot on Islamic principles and values are rewarded by public floggings, amputations, stonings and beheadings. It is only those with a political component that are discreetly undertaken, out of the public eye.

During the purge and destruction of political prisoners, children as young as thirteen years of age were hung in groups of six. It was a brutally orderly affair, where prisoners were loaded on forklift trucks and hanged from cranes and beams in half-an-hour intervals, while others met their fate by firing squads. The macabre wave of state executions were directed at the order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian Revolution who returned from exile in Paris as a popular religious figure, to dethrone Shah Reza Pahlevi.

Recently-deceased Grand Ayatollah Hussain Ali Montazeri who was once recognized as Ayatollah Khomeini's successor, but later imprisoned for his criticism of the immorality and illegality of the Khomeini regime, wrote in damning detail of the prison massacres. His book described also his attempts to object to the killings, but he was ignored. Now, on his death, the opponents of the regime honour him as their spiritual leader. Now, on his death, the regime's opponents have been inspired to further protests.

The fury of the protesters currently raging against the brutal regime of the current Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has seen them out in full force in Tehran and other cities, out-numbering and on occasion out-powering the Republican Guard and the Basiji, throwing stones and setting motorcycles on fire.

This photo, taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and AP – This photo, taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside …

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The New World Order

It seemed possible, at the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the-then perceived amelioration of world tension over nuclear Armageddon, that life on Earth would become more tranquil, less fraught with imminent danger over a final clash that would bring the world toward a permanent night of nuclear blight. There were some lingering fears over the safety of disposal or protection of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, particularly on sites that no longer 'belonged' within the sphere of influence of Russia.

But all of that receded, and more or less looked after itself, with a few blips here and there, with the dismantling of nuclear installations, and the mysterious disappearances of some elements of same, along with missing enriched uranium, and Russian nuclear scientists who looked elsewhere for their futures. And suddenly the world became a different place than that immediately following the collapse of a two-super-power reality. There was a sole eminent power with great political and social clout.

There were a few problems, to be certain. Two neighbouring countries, both of which possessed nuclear armaments, facing off against one another. India a huge democracy with people of many languages, religions, cultures, trying to balance its growing influence as an overburdened country emerging into its future. And Pakistan, volatile with distrust and hatred toward India, eager to wrest Kashmir from Indian control, traditionally urging militants to attack its neighbour.

North Korea, hostile to its South Korean sibling-country, Burma, Venezuela, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, all present as threats to world stability. The brief quiescent period and the hope that went with it after the implosion of the U.S.S.R. morphed from honeymoon into nightmare. Even stable countries in Africa and the Middle East facing serious water shortages leading to drought leading directly to food shortages speak of generalized and particular world problems.

There has been the re-emergence of a stronger Russia, one which has stepped back into its historical stance as world strongman, with Vladimir Putin resurrecting the country's reputation through a kinder look at Joseph Stalin and the enforced hegemonic dependency of its subsumed neighbours. Economic stability through oil brought Russia swaggering back to the world stage, threatening recalcitrant former allies far more eager to leave history than to rejoin Russia.

A fundamentalist Islamist Republic of Iran has its economic, scientific-technological and practical support from Russia, even while Iran instills fear and loathing in other parts of the world, unwilling to support the very thought that an intransigently dangerous and threatening Islamist Republic will gain possession of nuclear weaponry. The additional protective political clout of China on the Security Council ensures Iran remains protected from accountability.

Shrinking economies of the developed world, though of temporary duration, will leave those countries after recovery, with huge debts and unbalanced deficits, particularly the United States. Which embarked on an ill-thought-out invasion that cost its treasury an immense fortune to prosecute with little prospect of relief on the horizon. Exacerbated to a huge degree by its free-wheeling and debased financial system. Thanks to a globalized economy that brought the world economy to its knees.

As American enterprise and production sought to widen its profits by cheaper production methods it left Americans unemployed and servant to a service economy. One which delighted in buying cheap, and ended up importing all the products it had once produced, from China. Deeper in debt and depending on China to finance its expenditures and its imports and its purchases. There is little doubt this is a temporary plight; that American enterprise and tradition will prevail and bring it back to solvency.

China has done very well for itself. And is as self-assured now on the world stage as it might ever be. It's feeling pretty good about itself. It shares much with its client-states like Burma, North Korea, Venezuela, Sudan, Iran, Cuba particularly in human rights lapses and abuses. But moral and ethical issues aside, practicality lets us know that the U.S.'s position has been greatly altered in the world economy; its share of the GDP fell by 32% even as China's rose by 144%.

And with the rise of China as a fast-emerging world powerhouse in production and export, it has company, with India and Brazil bringing up the rear. Changing the balance of political and financial power in the world. As the influence and wealth of the West declines, the confidence, growing finances and political sway of the East increases. In all of this there is the complication of climate change bringing food scarcity, and floods resulting in mass migrations.

The stable period the world enjoyed a mere several decades earlier has confounded expectations by remorselessly transforming itself into a confused, unstable world order where fanatical religionists preying on the world of infidels, criminal networks dealing in drugs, weapons, slavery, and giant corporations wreak their havoc. Not a very pretty picture.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 25, 2009

Now, To Be Completely Just....

The European Union, now with 27 member-countries, has become a political and trade powerhouse. It wields a heavy hand with its members, insisting on policy conformity from farming and production standards to interference with member-state legislation, insisting on the need for all members to accept a common, functional and political framework. It lays a heavy hand of condemnation on countries not part of the European Union, as it has done in condemning Canada's traditional seal hunt, forbidding entry to EU countries of that product.

Nonetheless, many countries of the world, including many of those not geographically located within Europe, would dearly love to be included in the network of European countries with its dedicated trade and emerging political clout. There are even some who believe that as China and India emerge as the new world super powers and the status of the United States as the world's only super power declines, the EU may step up to the plate to challenge both China and India.

The EU leadership, a revolving one, but one with its own parliament, assembly of armed forces, unified direction and singular currency, also views itself with great pride, as an emerging political and moral force in the world. Initially its current chair Sweden, sought to bring a resolution before the EU calling for Jerusalem to be recognized as the capital of a nascent Palestinian state, utterly ignoring Israeli interests. The EU has never recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In the wake of urgent, strenuous upbraiding by Israel and Tzipi Livni in particular, at the resolution's bypassing of Israel's interests in Jerusalem, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt accused Israel of playing a "divide and rule" game with the EU, is Israel pulled out all the stops in calling for fairness from countries within the EU more obviously sensitive to Israel's needs and realities than Sweden.

The altered resolution now recognizes both Israel's and the Palestinians' shared interests in Jerusalem as the capital for both states; the present and the emerging one. Arabs have not, in the past, nor do they at the present time, as custodians of some elements of their isolated sacred shrines, recognize the legitimacy of Jewish traditions and holy places. It has never been a priority for Islam to give equal time to any other religion, even those predating its existence, particularly those from which Islam took its inspiration.

Sweden, in any event, and the EU in general, consider Israel's capture during the 1967 Six-Day War of the eastern half of the city to be illegitimate according to international law. International law is rather mute on the right of Israel to reclaim her heritage. And while the EU has called upon Israel to halt all "discriminatory acts" in eastern Jerusalem, nothing stands in the way of Palestinians acting counter to the interests of both themselves and the Israelis, through clearly illegal squatting, and enacting scenes of religious violence.

The Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU speaks grandiloquently of its "readiness to contribute substantially to post-conflict arrangements, aimed at ensuring the sustainability of peace agreements, and will continue the work undertaken on EU contributions on state-building, regional issues, refugees, security, and Jerusalem", all of which speak to its commitment to one party only, the Palestinians. The urgency of Israeli security, of the country's commitment to retaining its right to its holy sites is another matter distinctly lacking resonance with the EU.

The original draft resolution, a product of Swedish manoeuvring, was emphatically pro-Palestinian, entirely ignoring the needs of Israel in the equation. And in the process of championing the Palestinian cause, stood to lose the co-operation of the State of Israel, which has repeatedly pointed out that negotiations leading to peace have largely been stalled on the Palestinian side, with their refusal to return to the negotiating table.

There are many outside elements eager to try their hand at negotiating between Israel and the Palestinians, inclusive of Egypt, Turkey, France, the United States, despite that for a half-century all such attempts have failed miserably. In the past, both sides came close to what looked like a meaningful agreement that would lead to a cessation of hostilities, but in the end came to nothing, and mostly because of the intransigence of the Palestinians.

Who have their legitimate grievances that should be addressed, to be sure, but in the final analysis, when these failures occurred, it was largely because a return to 'resistance', to 'honour', and to waging 'war against the oppressors' seemed infinitely more attractive than the very real possibility of finding an end to the bloodshed. Israel can be seen to be intransigent too, but she has far more to lose through unreasonable demands of the Palestinians than do they.

Israel has responded to the allegations of the EU's Council of Foreign Ministers, in a reasonable enough manner: "It could be expected that the EU act to promote direct negotiations between the parties, while considering Israel's security needs and understanding that Israel's Jewish character must be preserved in any future agreement." Which means trust must be established, and there can be no trust while there is also active engagement in provocation and violence.

Nor is the ongoing insistence on 'right of return' anywhere near possible, since that would effectively translate as a complete dilution of the Jewish character of the Jewish state, overwhelming the Jewish presence. And this, precisely, is what the negotiations are about; the Palestinian insistence that it be allowed to drown Israel in huge numbers of Palestinians, most of whom have never lived in the geography but who represent the Palestinian resolve to retake that which they hold was theirs.

Which, in reality it never was. The Gazan Palestinians were Egyptians. The West Bank Palestinians were Jordanians. The Jews were the actual Palestinians and have lived in the geography for millennia. Egypt has no wish to re-absorb those Palestinian Gazans for they are an unruly lot, and she has her hands full attempting to stem the tide of her own Islamists. Jordan, in its bloody fratricidal war with the Palestinians in 1971 killed more of its own during Black September than Israel ever has over the years.

It is an indisputable historical fact that the single most holy site in Judaism was co-opted by the later religion of Islam. The Rock of the Dome, the Al Aqsa Mosque was built upon the Temple Mount. And while the mosque and its general area is considered the third most holy site in Islam, Judaism's first sacred site is often denied Jewish presence even now because of the rioting of Muslims refusing to allow Jewish entry to what they claim to be solely their right of approach.

So much for dividing Jerusalem.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Brief History of Islam

In the early seventh century a religious movement appeared on the margins of the great empires, those of the Byzantines and Sasanians, which dominated the western half of the world. In Mecca, a town in western Arabia, Muhammad began to call men and women to moral reform and submission to the will of God as expressed in what he and his adherents accepted as divine messages revealed to him and later embodied in a book, the Qur'an. In the name of the new religion, Islam, armies drawn from inhabitants of Arabia conquered the surrounding countries and founded a new empire, the caliphate, which included much of the territory of the Byzantine Empire and all that of the Sasanian, and extended from central Asia to Spain. The centre of power moved from Arabia to Damascus in Syria under the Umayyad caliphs, and then to Baghdad in Iraq under the 'Abbasids.
By the tenth century the caliphate was breaking up, and rival caliphates appeared in Egypt and Spain, but the social and cultural unity which had developed within it continued. A large part of the population had become Muslim (that is to say, adherents of the religion of Islam), although Jewish, Christian and other communities remained; the Arabic language had spread and became the medium of a culture which incorporated elements from the traditions of peoples absorbed into the Muslim world, and expressed itself in literature and in systems of law, theology and spirituality. Within different physical environments, Muslim societies developed distinctive institutions and forms; the links established between countries in the Mediterranean basin and in that of the Indian Ocean created a single trading system and brought about changes in agriculture and crafts, providing the basis for the growth of great cities with an urban civilization expressed in buildings of a distinctive Islamic style.

This, then, was the description of the initiation to the world of Islam, as described by Albert Hourani, in his precise and occasionally delicately explicated A History of the Arab Peoples.
What followed, after the triumph of the Prophet Muhammad in convincing tribal Bedouin that surrender to and acceptance of his heralding of a new religion, which took many of its precepts from the far older religions of Judaism and Christianity - with the result of unifying Arabs and bringing a common vision of a monotheistic religion - was a prolonged period of combat, conquest, uncertainty and assassinations leading to quarrels and violent disagreements that outlasted the following centuries into the present.

The centuries-later collapse of the caliphate and the greatly mourned passage of the glory of Islamic flowering in the sciences, philosophy, medicine, arts and culture, brought an agony of anger and shame and belligerence to blanket the ummah, resentful of their loss of face and of territory, of privilege and of honour; above all of universal power. For this, the world of the West which had struggled against the juggernaut of Islamic spread and influence, would never be forgiven.

The world of Islam that had bloomed so greatly in the days of its entry into Europe and the spread of its influence which led to a renaissance of knowledge, entrepreneurship, trading and manufacturing, slowly ebbed and fell away. What was left was an over-arching religion that was all things ritual and of sacred necessity to its followers; constraining, constricting, imposing and indomitable, controlling every facet of social, political and daily life.

The religion looked inward, and closed in upon itself, content with its parochialism, spurning what had once made it great. The urge for knowledge fell from its purpose, though it continued to pride itself on its poetry, literature, architecture, mathematics, astronomy. Its ambition to collect itself into the future, to structure itself in such a way as to become more socially and politically enlightened was utterly absent in its indomitable intent to stagnate, to continue to live within the Koran without recognition of modernity.

But the fiery indignation of having been supplanted in geographies once sanctified to Islam burned a slow underground ash of anger and anguished claims to victimhood. The scourge of Islam that had presented to Africa and India with its deadly clashes among the prevailing religions surrendering millions to jihad have never been forgotten; by the victims as unforgettable atrocities; by the conquerors as days of glory long faded and yearned after.

The world has now witnessed decades of Islamist renaissance, where fanatical religious clerics and mujahadeen keenly dedicated to the cause of restoring Islam to its former glory has brought terror once again into the global realization of a festering and frightful danger. These are pathological marauders of religions and societies not their own, and targetting fulsomely their own as well.

These fundamentalists who profess their love for Allah to be so great they are prepared to surrender their very lives to His profit. Who seem to believe that their mass murder of other, innocent Muslims, their destruction of Mosques, of crowded marketplaces, of children's schools, all in the interests of furthering their vision of Islam renascent is pleasant to God's eye.

While, in the same token, ordinary Muslims who have no such vision of conquest refuse to realize that yes, most certainly, it is Muslims who are responsible for murdering their own, for desecrating their houses of worship. Muslims whose great hatred for the world as it is compels them to righteously engage in such atrocities; yet they will not believe that those whose faith is in Islam could commit such hideous blood-letting.

Islam must heal itself. It cannot and will not succeed if the great general body of Muslims, its scholars, clerics, academics, politicians, rulers, aristocracy, poets, writers, philosophers and spokespeople do not feel themselves needfully involved to proceed with casting out the evil within itself. The simple fact is too many 'moderate', ordinary Muslims refuse to believe ill of the radicals among them. Reality eludes them.

They prefer to believe that malevolent forces outside Islam are responsible for the atrocities which Islamists visit upon the world. They prefer also to believe that it is the great animosity of the West and the non-Muslim world at large that is responsible for this great divide between cultures, societies and religions. That the fanatics who wage violent jihad are therefore justified, for their mission is to protect and further the interests of Islam.

That would be true if Islam were indeed an ideology of war and destruction, of hegemonic necessity and devout totalitarianism. Is it, then?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Miserable Prospect

What other country on the face of this Earth confronts a dilemma of these proportions? To rescue one single, sadly-compromised member of their society they assent to delivering back to active duty hundreds of potential murderers. That's one tough decision. Not a very sound one, truth to tell. But an understandable one, where a country is loathe to surrender the life of one single citizen, even if heroic measures are required to bring him safely home.

The State of Israel stands on the verge of gifting Hamas, the terror group committed to Israel's destruction, with a victory. With that 'victory' will come an enhanced prestige for this jihadist group, gifting it with even greater popularity among Palestinians. Who require little assistance in their collective desire to act decisively to cripple the state and the people whom they accuse of cheating them of their heritage.

Of course this is a two-way street; it is also the heritage of the Jewish people who are, in actuality the original Palestinians. It might seem like common sense to partition a piece of geography to grant each protagonist an equal share where they may settle themselves in peace and harmony, as contiguous and equal and sovereign states. That they will not live in peace and harmony, but as disgruntled neighbours speaks to the need for separation.

Peace at almost any cost; release of a single prisoner of Hamas at almost any cost. The legitimate state countering a potential state's arguments for surrender to them of what the legitimate state holds as its most dear possessions on the one hand, as its most desperate need to control, on the other. An ostensible peace in exchange for the country's most cherished and sacred historical capital.

And not to forget territory as well, absorbed through the conquest of effectively challenging a combined Arab military intent on demolishing the state. And just incidentally, accepting the 'return' of millions of former residents of the area whose ancestors fled, became world-class refugees content to wait out the century and increase in numbers until they might return and dilute the population of Israel, cleverly restoring it to its original status.

Now there's yet another exchange. One to which Palestinians feel eminently entitled, despite its lopsided balance. Is there balance, moderation, justice in the exchange of one young man, nineteen years of age at his capture, for the release of a thousand prisoners languishing in incarceration as penalty for their attempts to destroy the state, many for multiple murders?

"I think that it's a huge dilemma because we know that many of these terrorists have not repented and have not been rehabilitated, which means they are a huge threat. There are only two answers to that: Israel either doesn't release them or if it does, release them in such a way that it can still protect itself. That's the struggle that the Israeli cabinet is facing." Which explains why Israel insists that some of the released must go into exile.

For to release convicted criminals who have committed atrocities including some of whom who make no secret of the fact that they will return to their activities, is to clearly endanger the country and its citizens further. In which case,what will have been gained by securing the release of Sergeant Gilad Shalit at the price of releasing hundreds of convicted terrorists?

Israel is deeply divided; on the one hand the majority of the population is anxious to retrieve Sgt. Shalit, to have him released from his four-years-long captivity. On the other, an equal majority resists the release of prisoners 'with blood on their hands'. A Hamas spokesman blamed "Israeli divisions" for the delay in securing the deal for St. Shalit's release.

"The scene that took place yesterday inside the Israeli government is proof that Israel is responsible for hindering and delaying the prisoner exchange agreement", according to a Hamas spokesperson who said further that Hamas is intent on sticking to its conditions, including the release of several top Hamas commanders responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis.

The incredible level of casual entitlement to the exchange of one thousand prisoners for one Israeli soldier speaks volumes to the vast divide between the values and mindsets of the two solitudes. Israel's prime minister has informed the German negotiator that it insists one hundred terrorists must be deported before the agreement can be finalized. Qatar and several European countries have agreed to accept several dozen of the released.

For their part, Hamas officials will not countenance deportations. Even if the deportations represent Gaza accepting the released prisoners, rather than having them return to the West Bank. Hamas's final response will come from its Syrian-based leader. Israeli intelligence officials have given warning that permitting those with blood on their hands to return to the West Bank would have the potential of leaving the lives of Israelis in danger.

Since it is fact that some terrorists who were released in previous such deals have since murdered nearly 180 Israelis. They had given their word that they would no longer involve themselves in acts of terror.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That Seething Cauldron

How well did Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri plan his timely death. To ensure massive perturbation for his critics, for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei alongside President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who surely must curse the inconvenience of his death with its inauspicious coincidence of falling within the sacred month of Muharram and its tangential connection with the mourning of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

Not only is the implied message intolerable, that there is a connection between the mourning for Imam Hussein, but that for the very symbol of human rights and resistance to the totalitarian Islamic Republic of Iran, through mourning the death of this model for reform. Nationwide protests are being planned by opponents of the current regime, to mark the 7th day since Montazeri's death, a ritual that will be shielded and supported by the traditional holiday of Ashura, which the authorities cannot possibly interfere with lest they be seen as impious.

The spiritual father of the reform movement in Iran, spurred on by atrocious events to denounce the human rights abuses of his colleague, the Grand Ayatollah and his governing council, along with the illegitimacy of the summer election that re-installed President Ahmadinejad, enjoyed his position as spiritual leader of the first order of the green revolution. The holy city of Qom (not far from where the latest-revealed, illicit nuclear installation stands) was packed with mourners.

The vehicle carrying the leader of the opposition, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was attacked by motorcycling Basiji in a show of intimidation, as he proceeded to the memorial service. The memorial service for Montazeri itself was halted by government agents. His steadfast denunciation of the brutal excesses of the Islamic Republic ensured his premier place as a hated seditionist.

"A political system based on force, oppression, changing people's votes, killing, closure, arresting and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail is condemned and illegitimized", he thundered.

He just about covered most of the ill deeds conceived and practised by the rulers in Tehran. The response from the country's top judge gave warning to reformers: "I say to leaders of the sedition that we have enough evidence against you. If the regime has shown tolerance until now, don't suppose that we do not understand." The response from protesters has been anything but muted in their chant of "Death to the Dictator".

For after all, it was just a handful of protesters who were murdered by prison guards and the Republican Guard, post-election. This may well be the dawn of an entirely new era.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Death to the Dictator!"

Iraq, now Shia-led, and professing warmer relations with Iran with which it shares a contiguous border suddenly, but unsurprisingly finds itself confronted with the reality of its emerging oil-wealth attracting the attention of a country whose economic straits compounded by its nuclear politics has brought a challenge to borders and ownership of natural resources. It would be amusing if it were not so potentially rife with danger of more violence in an already-violence plagued part of the world.

A little game of hide-and-seek, possession-and-denial, where one will plant the outward manifestations of ownership inside the border of Iraq, and on departure, the other will extinguish signs of ownership by supplanting them with those of their own. Each in turn denying the existence of any scintilla of a disagreement between them. At least on the diplomatic front, government to government. That has changed.

In the trenches it was an altogether different story: "Iranian forces come to this well periodically and then at daybreak they withdraw", according to a senior Iraqi engineer. "They are provoking us ... I don't know why this is a big deal this time." The little cat-and-mouse game has turned serious with the issue of Iranian tanks crossing the border to claim ownership of a disputed oil well.

Disputed because Iran would dearly love to claim the well as its own, on the basis that borders were ill-defined at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister however, is unequivocal in his emphasis that the well is "300 metres inside Iraq". Not a very good prospect, that 300 metres, given the opportunity for the country to auction the field off to the highest international bidder.

Iran still denies any such incursion, defying the claim by an Iraqi border general that Iran "positioned tanks ... and dug trenches" around the Fauqa field's Well No.4, the latest of several such incursions. "Iraq will not give up its oil wealth" pledged the country's interior minister. And the country's national security council stated unequivocally that Iran had violated Iraq's "territorial integrity", demanding withdrawal.

An insouciant Iran has also announced that it has built more efficient centrifuge models to be placed at its uranium enrichment sites, to replace the earlier ones that have proven to be ineffective at producing the (weapons) grade of enrichment the country is aiming for. Again, in defiance of the IAEA, the United Nations and the Security Council all intent on having the country back down from its obvious direction toward nuclear armament.

This is a very busy country, the Islamic Republic of Iran, fending off diplomatic assaults on its own territorial integrity from the international community, disputing ownership of oil wells with its neighbour, proposing the elimination of another country in the geography, and posing as a direct political, military threat to the entire of the Middle East. For starters. All this while being faced with internal political unrest.

Where, in the wake of the death of the venerable Grand Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri, the critical thorn in the side of the Supreme Council, the Supreme Leader and the illegal president, shock troops of the Republican Guard have been dispatched to Qom as well as Tehran to dispel the likelihood of further "Satan-inspired" riots by the proponents of reform.

Where reform-minded students are now chanting their rhetorical but subject-alternating invocations of "Death to the dictator!"

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home Clean-Up

At a time when the world frets over the inevitability of our environment altering in ways inconceivable to the safety and security of island-nations, food sources, and the spread of dread diseases, there is another reality, more certain in its derivation, and more readily dealt with, that countries of the world continue to ignore. From the massive cutting down of the world's rain forests to the release of huge carbon deposits in the related drying-out of peat bogs, to the continued vandalizing of life-giving waterways.

Human beings seem to do nothing so well as pollute their environment in every conceivable way. Why it is that basic hygiene techniques known to ancient societies escape the notice of present-day societies as a manner in which to ensure the quality of life by removing the potential for spread of disease? China's lax attitude toward its industrial wastes being dumped into vast and important rivers that represent life to millions of its population a case in point. As is the continued use of dirty coal, polluting the environment.

Another is the less industrial, but no less harmful cultural heritage celebrated in a country like India where it is routine for dead bodies, of people and of animals, to be found floating down huge rivers like the Ganges and the Yamuna. The very waterways where millions of people take their drinking water, polluted by human waste, by animal waste, by the dumping of chemicals and religious rituals where flowers, fruits and coconuts are tossed into the rivers.

Which end up rotting there, along with shoes, plastic bags, decaying fabric and the gunk of industrial wastes. There is no possibility for fish to live in those rivers, with their disgusting stench that drifts over the towns, villages and cities where the residents go down to the river to draw murky water to haul home to cook with and to drink. Where people assemble at the water's edge, to wash themselves, to do their laundry, sharing it with cattle who enter the river to drink and to leave their excrement.

In Africa the situation is no better, where people emerge from their villages to walk down to dirty water assembling in shallow pools making their way down from surrounding hillsides, to drink, cook, wash clothes and themselves in the yellow water. With fuel in scarce supply the water is rarely boiled, and the people are too poor to afford chemicals to cleanse it of germs, parasites and viral agents.

Cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other water-borne diseases become an inextricable part of their lives. Shortening their lives, children and adults alike. Many children will not emerge from their childhoods. United Nations' statistics point to 2.5 million people yearly, mostly children, dying from dirty water and disease caused by lack of sanitation.

Little wonder then, that the United Nations and the poor countries of the world stand up and shout at every opportunity that the rich countries of the world need to hand over cash transfers to ameliorate the dire existence of billions of people in poor countries. And if that cash hand-over were used directly to help people to cope with their miserable lives it would be well worthwhile.

If the cash infusions could take place with the agreement that these countries would divest themselves of their uncaring, country-ruinous leaders, perhaps they would be effective.

As it is, maniacal egocentrics and malcompetents like those governing Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Rwanda and other pathetic war-mongering, miserable countries led by tyrants who continue to drain their national treasuries to their personal advantage, leaving people to fend hopelessly for themselves remain the reality.

In countries like China and India with their vast populations and far-flung provinces, and their need to slowly emerge from their primitive living conditions, greater effort needs to be extended by the provincial governments that wield power unevenly and with insufficient attention to rural poverty.

Labels: , ,

"Declaration of War"

Really, a declaration of war, to remove that detestable symbol of Nazi extermination camps from Auschwitz, so it no longer hangs over the entry gates to the huge death camp in Poland. And just when Germany had agreed to pay half of the restoration costs for the crumbling symbol of genocidal triumph. Such devotion to ensuring that a horrible blemish on the world's conscience remain intact. It is, after all, a tourism site.

Not a "tourism" site quite like that of so many others of the world, to revered religious sites, or fabulous natural geological wonders of the world, or cities with fabled art treasures and monuments to the past, but a bleak, black reminder of humankind's failure to itself. Do we not have memory, that will never permit us the release of such reminders of our failures?

Do we not have massive amounts of documentation, and other dedicated sites in cities around the world to ensure that the immense scope of this historical atrocity remains in the public eye? If human beings are capable of destroying other human beings in such a monumentally efficient manner with no compunction, no empathy, how is the removal of this dread iron declaration of deceit a "declaration of war"?

It is, rather a re-dedication to a certain element within humankind's vast inventory of hatred extended to others unlike themselves, and how is that surprising, significant and worthy of elevating to a "declaration of war"? It is a sad and sorry commentary on the state of the human mind. So it becomes a matter of national honour to Poland, to apprehend the thieves and restore the symbol of mass atrocity.

Honour is a slight and ephemeral thing, when such a death factory could exist to begin with, within the confines of any country that prides itself in any degree. If there did not exist a significant complicity generally, not only in Poland, but in Hungary, in France, in Italy, in Czechoslovakia, in Bulgaria, in Romania, such death camps could never have existed, anywhere, regardless of Nazi intent.

If the sign was so meaningful for whatever reason - resale to a high bidder, surreptitious show for others of like mind, opportunity to embarrass the country, an irresistible wish to deliver yet another anti-Semitic message of a job not yet completed - that the malefactors planned it so carefully in a time-precision exercise, simply seals the public acknowledgement of a hatred that will not die.

To state as President Shimon Peres did, that "The sign holds deep historical meaning for both Jews and non-Jews alike as a symbol of the lives that perished at Auschwitz"; perhaps the world is better without it. There are far more respectful and abiding memorials elsewhere in the world, painful but not as excruciating as those of the former Nazi death camps.

Above all, memory itself, the most meaningful of human traits, will continue to serve us well.

Labels: , ,

Facade of Triumph

The largest, most ambitious, most ballyhooed event ever sponsored by the United Nations has just concluded. It has concluded with an agreement whose contents are evasive, opaque, irrelevant, cowardly and hypocritical. It could hardly be otherwise, considering all the competing, self-interested, belligerent, entitled interests involved.

Considering also the aura of suspicion that surrounds the legitimacy of the science that accords with the UN-approved IPCC belief of anthropomorphic responsibility in global warming, little wonder.

It might have been far more intelligent to attend to the reality of climate change, not global warming, since there is really no true scientific consensus on the latter. Greenhouse gases caused by carbon dioxide and particulate emissions are another thing; they do, most assuredly, add to climate change, but to what degree that might conceivably be in reality, is anyone's guess.

Guess, because much of what is being discussed is hypothesis.

The real issue here is the vulnerability of third-world, or emerging countries in the face of climate change. Those countries whose frailty due to their lack of opportunity to emerge from their indigent state, partially caused by their unscrupulous tyrannical leaders; those countries whose low-lying position along coastal waters of the world's great oceans render them particularly susceptible to inundation, flooding, tidal and storm events.

There is general, non-binding agreement that temperatures should be maintained below two degrees Celsius, no more, to avoid global catastrophe, but no firm pledges for curbing carbon emissions and above all other considerations, that the wealthy countries of the world pledge to hand over bulging treasuries to assist poor countries in their attempts to prepare for climate change.

Venezuela's representative thundered against the last-minute 'agreement' while India's prime minister emphasized the "glaring injustice; to the countries of Africa, to the least developed countries and to the small island states whose very survival as viable nations is in jeopardy". Human beings never learn; municipal authorities in developed countries are supposed to refuse building permits on wetlands, floodplains, friable earthworks.

Sudan blasted the unconcern of Western nations for the well-being of the undeveloped countries. And Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, set out to teach humility and respect for the Divine to the gathering: "We think the environment is the greatest blessing of God to human beings ... If somebody cuts a tree without a reason, it is as if he cut the wings of an angel. If someone pollutes the environment, he commits an arch sin."

Is he not the very embodiment of arch righteousness? At least Fidel Castro is content to subjugate and oppress his own people. The Islamic Republic of Iran, so faithful to God, represses its own population, and goes on to threaten the very existence of other countries through its need to develop nuclear weaponry to be wielded by a narcissistic, belligerent clergy that hears God's voice in the promise that Israel should be 'wiped from the map'.

The climate change conference concluded with its 193 UN-member countries agreeing to 'take note' of the Copenhagen Accord. With countries tasked to list their emission reduction targets, and above all begin the process of assembling billions of dollars in hand-overs to poor nations. The proceedings were well summed up by the UN's climate chief Yvo de Boer in describing the state of 'taking note'.

"...a way of recognizing that something is there, but not going so far as to directly associate yourself with it." Something akin to handling a distinctly offensive object with the proverbial ten-foot pole?

Take note.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Anti-Religious Discrimination

Is Canada on the right track with its insistence on honouring the rights of all people to all manner of ideologies, creeds, religions, cultural, social and traditional beliefs, giving equal value to all? Sounds awfully decent. Of course, there's the salient fact that in a fair and just society no one individual's interpretation of their religion, their culture, their ideology or their gender orientation should actually deleteriously impinge on that of others' like rights. And that's a tough nut to crack.

Good thing we have our valued, trusted and inspiring Human Rights Commissions. Who actually, in their inception, set out to right the wrongs that pluralism saw in the community, from people representing 'visible minorities' (there's that UN-abhorred phrase; pardon) not being able to access decent housing, and finding jobs scarce when they presented their exotic features to interviewers. That was the kind of societal problem that these commissions were good at solving.

Trouble is, on the way to becoming a well-balanced, less discriminatory society, many of the distasteful practises that made lives miserable for minority groups have dissolved in a society that now prides itself on its level of acceptance of others, of an expanded and extended social contract that represents modern Canada. Even Jews can attend university and be invited to private clubs in this glorious new Canada of the 21st Century, although dogs still aren't permitted.

Recent actions by human rights commissions in Canada, however, have threatened to turn this society inside out as it were, where traditional and conventional majority religions are now thwacked down at every opportunity for perceived insults and inaccommodation toward minorities. So perhaps we've gone a tad too far? Gone from the middling-moderate of the Golden Mean to topple over in the opposite direction, and in the final analysis society suffers.

Some may claim that this is an anticipated result when people become too entitled, feeling that their entitlements now give them cause to dis-entitle others, and that truly is a huge shame. Because, actually, on the international scale of balance for religious freedom, for example, Canada stands pretty high for tolerance. Wouldn't be nice to see us begin to topple from that tolerance-plinth of deserved pride of human-rights accomplishment.

Joining the ranks of other countries whose records on religious tolerance truly rankle. Of course within North and South America we're not all that special, since most countries on those continents are pretty open to religious differentiation, and hugely tolerant. As opposed, say, to China and to Iran and to Saudi Arabia. And it's also instructive that the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's release looks at both official and unofficial state views.

In other words, in some countries, like China, tolerance toward religious minorities, or 'the other' is high among the general population, but there is a low level of tolerance by the state apparatus, the ruling, governing elite. Not quite like Iran, Egypt and Pakistan, for example, where resentment of other religions runs rampant through the population, just as their states also strenuously oppose recognition or tolerance of other religions.

Roughly one-third of the world's countries (the study looked at 198 nations) have a high level of official and unofficial obstacles to freedom of worship. Unsurprisingly, given decades of disturbance emanating from Muslim countries thanks to a resurgence in religious fanaticism, Middle East and North African countries rank very high on repression of other religions. Where in fact, arrest and torture of clerics and their flock occur regularly.

Restrictions listed by the study include refusal of employment based on faith, church vandalization (including temples, mosques and synagogues) and beating or murdering worshippers of the disdained religion. Even where some countries have a provision in law to protect other religions, in practise it is ignored. The single country pointed out as repressive in the Americas was, surprisingly, Cuba. With Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia not far behind.

So we're doing all right, but why would we congratulate ourselves, since that's how we should be doing, as a tolerant, welcoming, multi-cultural society, embracing an enormous number of international immigrants yearly? There's clearly, on the record, however, room for improvement.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Admiration for the Jewish Reality

December 17, 2009
Special Dispatch No.2704
Kuwaiti Columnist: "The Zionist Cockroach" Has Taken Over the World, and Has Caused Everyone to Hate Arabs and Muslims

In a December 11, 2009 column titled "The Zionist Cockroach" in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, Kuwaiti columnist Fakhir Hashem Al-Sayed Rajab compared the Zionists to cockroaches capable of survival in any situation who use dishonorable means to assure their continued existence. He wrote that the Zionists had taken over the world and caused everyone worldwide to hate the Arabs and the Muslims – and stated that this was in light of the absence of any unified Arab stance.

Following is a translation of the article:

"There are [various] types of cockroaches: wingless, winged, German, American, Asian. Cockroaches are among the most primeval of the earth's creatures; they can withstand harsher conditions than any other creature, and adapt rapidly to their environment. They say that there are 4,000 kinds [of cockroaches]. The cockroach can survive a week or two without its head, and a month without food. It can withstand many times more radiation than a human can, and will fight to survive.

"I compare the Zionist to the cockroach: For thousands of years, the Zionist has fought [to remain] alive, by all possible means: plunder, exploitation, deceit, killing, and 'laying [its] eggs' across the world so that its offspring will continue to exist until Judgment Day.

"The Zionists have managed to quietly take over the world, imperturbably... and now they are the most powerful force in the world – not in physical strength and weapons stockpiles, but in their power of thought, economics, and planning in all countries, so that [these countries] obey them, and whoever opposes them must watch out. A simple declaration against them means a cruel attack by them – and antisemites beware!

"Their power, and their veins, branch out to southwards, northwards, westwards, and eastwards, and it was recently learned that the Zionist lobby has infiltrated the British government. An investigation is now underway to uncover where the[ir] funds are coming from and what group is providing support.

"Unfortunately, with us Arabs, everything remains in the heart, even our heartfelt reactions.

"We heard about Switzerland's stance regarding the ban on building new minarets, and we did not hear about the united Arab position condemning this action. None of us disagrees that there is a Zionist cockroach behind every issue that arises and is fabricated against the Arabs, particularly the Muslims. These are the [Zionists'] plans; making the foreign world hate the Arab and Muslim existence; occupying Palestine, the Golan, Sinai, and Lebanon; ; for 9/11, and up to the [Swiss] minaret ban. Maybe in the future they will forbid us from entering their countries.

"Our craftiness is in dance and roulette games; see what [the Zionists] have attained by means of [craftineess in ] science and politics, [and what] we have attained by means of oppression and domination!

"In essence: O nation whose ignorance has made you the laughing-stock of all other nations!"[1]

[1] A line from a poem by the classical Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ideas Factory

If terrorists ever run out of creative and inventive ideas on how to strike new terror into the hearts of their enemies - which is actually most of the world - they need only read the National Review Online article by Clifford D. May on the potential of apocalyptic terror opportunities. Mr. May is not just some casual reporter, he is a seasoned veteran of international affairs, the founder and president of a policy institute in the United States focusing on terrorism.

Not only is he the president of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, he is also Chairman of the Policy Committee of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), an international, non-partisan organization based in Washington D.C. comprised of leading members of the national security community. In 2008, The Daily Telegraph (U.K) named Mr. May one the "100 most influential conservatives in America."

He knows, then, whereof he speaks. And in that particular article, he 'spoke' of many potentials, every single one of which if carried through to fruition, would represent a bold new terror initiative to shake up an already-fearful world. Mentioning first the calamitous reality of the Islamic Republic of Iran venturing ever closer to nuclear weaponization and what that might mean in terms of the potential for nuclear devices falling into the hands of terrorists.

This is a scenario long considered as a possibility, a nightmare scenario that would spell Armageddon. At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union when Russia had fallen swiftly into financial decline and its nuclear laboratories and installations lacked security and the world worried about the possibility of its fissionable material being sold, and nuclear scientists going to work for the highest bidder, that too presented a dread concern.

That did not quite materialize, but it is Russia, in large part, that has been instrumental in assisting Iran in building and financing its nuclear installations, even though Russia has declared itself unwilling to aid Iran in nuclear weaponization. Hard to believe that the Kremlin honestly believes Iran's sincere declarations that its bid to achieve nuclear sufficiency is for peaceful, civil purposes only.

The article goes on to list the potential for other means of mass terror, with dedicated terrorists making use of biological weapons, with the initiation of smallpox, Ebola virus or hemorrhagic fevers epidemics. It's also quite possible that some terror groups have already experimented with such dread viruses, and have themselves suffered the consequences, without the knowledge and infrastructure to ensure safe handling.

The use of 'dirty bombs', consisting of radioactive materials such as radium, radon, thorium wrapped about a core of explosives wreaking horrible damage within a defined area would most certainly inspire dread of re-occurrence elsewhere in the world, should such an attempt be successful. That's one way of holding the world to ransom of dread and terror.

A description ensued of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack whereby a nuclear warhead detonated at a high altitude over a country would produce a shock wave sufficiently powerful to put military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food and other infrastructures completely out of commission. With the end result that millions of people might die of starvation or lack of medical care.

These issues were apparently thrashed out at length during a meeting convened in Washington, D.C., to consider the various ways in which terrorists might seek to impose terror through a well-planned, highly-technologized, sophisticated mode of attack at some time in the future. With the thought uppermost of being forewarned by the potential, and being prepared to counter any such talk.

At the very least, being aware, and having intelligence agents knowledgeable about such potentials, and dedicated to their detection and apprehension. One could be forgiven for wondering why such a high-level, important and disturbing set of scenarios would be set out for public consumption, as a matter of public interest. Why not, in the interests of security, keep such arcane, and fearful potentials out of the public eye?

After all if these ideas are so readily accessible for the information of the interested, the potential is also there that interested parties whose interest is less than academic can also make use of these ideas. Do we really need to take such elaborately helpful steps as to creatively advise those who wish to do us harm?

Labels: ,

"A Strong Deterrent"

Bellicose Iran at it again, just having itself a good old time, thumbing its nose at the international community's fear and outrage and the United Nations' genteel condemnations. Both expressed through one round of sanctions by the Security Council after another, with China and Russia somewhat lagging in their supportive enthusiasm.

Here's another blast of reality, a vastly improved version of the Seijil-2 missile, claimed by Iran to be radar-proof, capable of reaching beyond Israel to southeastern Europe. This is a solid-fuel missile with greater accuracy than its predecessors which threatened only other countries of the Middle East, most notably Israel, although Saudi Arabia and Egypt are more than a trifle nervous.

Iran, it should not be overlooked, is the world's leading terrorism sponsor. Admittedly, it has a few challengers for that prestigious acknowledgement; Pakistan for one, and Syria. Of course Iran also has its supporters and admirers, apart from the gratitude of its proxy terror militias. North Korea for one, and Venezuela for another, enjoy warm relations with Iran.

China and Russia enjoy strictly business relationships with the Islamic Republic of Iran, but both remain loathe to criticize too strenuously; one for military sales' reasons, the other for oil. So they are less than enthused over new calls for 'meaningful' sanctions against the country by other, Western countries alarmed over Iran's nuclear program.

That this new missile is capable of reaching U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf, speaks also to Iran's interest in "a world without America", and to which it appears to have dedicated itself, along with its oft-stated intent to remove 'the Zionist entity' from "the Middle East map". The Iranian defence minister gloats that this new missile represents a "strong deterrent" against any foreign attack.

"Given its high speed, it is impossible to destroy the missile with anti-missile systems because of its radar-evading ability", trilled the triumphant defence minister. G'wan, we dare ya. And then, Iran will bomb Israel's nuclear reactors, impose a naval blockade around the Strait of Hormuz, straitening the ability of vessels to ship out oil to an anxiously energy-hungry world.

The new missile's launch with the terse message that "The missile hit its intended target" accompanying a news clip showing the missile lifting off its launch pad, instructs the world, in the wake of other new revelations of the country's work on a trigger for a nuclear weapon that its intent is full speed ahead.

Please do not jump to over-hasty conclusions; solely for peaceful purposes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Violent Nature of Infants

Society has become increasingly aware of the need to nip the violent tendencies of young people in the bud. It ill behooves school authorities to overlook instances of obvious social dissonance with elementary school students exhibiting fearsome tendencies toward viciousness. From bullying in the schoolyard to surreptitiously carrying weapons on to school property, vigilance is the order of the day.

And so, it makes perfectly good sense for an eight-year-old elementary school student in Massachusetts to be suspended from school. And if his father doesn't care for the order from the school to have his son undergo a psychological evaluation before he could be considered for re-admission, well, that's just a fact of life he will have to live with. Better that than, say another school massacre. It's logical to assume that anyone would agree with that.

And if you're a Christian family with a deep and abiding faith, and a love for Jesus Christ, perhaps it might be best, all things considered, to think twice before embarking on a trip with the family to a clearly incendiary site such as the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Perhaps that site should not have been mentioned; please DO NOT take your impressionable child there, unless you wish to radicalize your innocent.

For upon return from that trip, this eight-year-old child was inspired to create an image that appalled and frightened his teacher, convincing her, and then the school administration, that they were in the presence of a veritable monster whose depravity would soon spill over into physical violence of the first order. This monstrous child's teacher, as reported in the Taunton Daily Gazette, instructed her class to draw something with a Christmas theme.

This child drew ... a ... crucifix. A nominal drawing, suitable to reflect the drawing capabilities of an eight-year-old, of a stick-figure, hanging upon a cross, two Xs for eyes, cleverly denoting that the poor unfortunate stick-figure had been lamentably deprived of life. The horrified school administration immediately contacted the father. "When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing", the father reported.

But no. His child was a monster-in-waiting, and he had to do something about it. This boy who had never, ever, in his short life demonstrated a tendency toward violence had suddenly revealed himself. Desperately, the father sought help with a non-profit educational consultant, because of his son's condition: "he's traumatized by everything that has happened."

"I've had kids suspended for idiotic things before, but I've never had to deal with anything like this", admitted the consultant. This child who was removed from Lowell L. Maxham School on December 1, and permitted to return only after he received a psychiatric evaluation which discerned no abnormalities, nothing to validate the school administration's fears, is clearly a demon in hiding.

"I didn't understand why this was so important to them, why it violated the school code of violence in their handbook. It just didn't make sense. It was just the drawing, and I don't know how that turned into violence", the consultant, obviously not very good at her calling, admitted.

The school principal and the superintendent were not returning calls from interested news media.

Labels: , ,

Oh, What A Tangled Web

Well, climate change is a reality. Whether the reasons for it's alterations between cooling and heating can be attributed to gradual, normal cyclical changes imprinted over time in nature, or whether solar activity is involved, or whether either or both of these have been helped along by human activities there is cause for some concern. We don't know - no one really can, aside from fairly pessimistic theorists - what is truly transpiring, and what the end result will be.

It certainly doesn't help much when the foremost and most influential/notorious advocate of global warming (which, in fact, may not be occurring, despite other calamitous environment-changing events on the horizon, including global cooling) keeps coming front and centre and forwarding erroneous 'facts' as indisputable. Al Gore's recent correction by the climatologist whose work he cited as proof of imminent melt-disaster a case in point.

And when we have British royalty delivering another crisis message of assured and accurate dimensions such as: "The grim reality is that our planet has reached a point of crisis and we have only seven years before we lose the levers of control", simply points out the level of unhelpful hysteria that leads to generally level-headed personages uttering unprovable statements.

The bickering among those assigned by their countries, all 193 of them, about cause and effect, responsibility and blame, advances nothing but resentment on all fronts. That the G77 chose to have themselves represented by Sudan, a country whose genocidal fury against its own is escalating as it attempts to preserve and protect its vast oil holdings, tells us something about the collective judgement of developing and particularly African countries.

And there is a clear dissonance between genuine concerns over the environmental trajectory of change, and those using it as a screen to finagle 'guilt money' over historical colonial, and technological-advance transgressions from developed countries to hand over yet greater obligatory sums of conscience-assuaging money to further fuel United Nations' missions' payrolls and fatten Swiss bank accounts of all those kleptocracies.

When the UN Climate Change Conference confers equal status on the arrival of such luminaries as Great Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Liberty's balance surely tilts close to collapse. Canada, on the other hand, remains the very living symbol of recalcitrance and unco-operativeness on the world stage, a blemished state of stubborn denial.

Canada's economy is tied in lock-step to that of its neighbour and largest trading partner with whom it has completely interrelated manufacturing practises and energy grids. Its government sensibly insists on tying in its responses to that of the United States, since whatever that country does inevitably impacts on Canada. And, in fact, Canada's position does echo that of the United States.

Its decision to impose a national technology fund where greenhouse gas emitters pay when their target emissions are exceeded is also eminently sensible, since this will fund badly-needed technology-ameliorating research. The purchase of 'offsets' under a cap-and-trade scheme is an energy-solution sham, supporting a new industry happy to get off the ground, making money for entrepreneurs.

Focus must be placed where it is due, if it is due. On those countries of the world intent on sacrificing their ecologies and their futures through the destruction of their rain forests, for example. And the outraged tiffs between the world's two largest environmental polluters over who is more to blame, and who should be committing to the commission of economic suicide remains an unremarked side-note.

A total sophomoric exercise in disharmony. Augmented hysterically by the activities of the NGOs and their committed followers.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dysfunctional Great Britain

Perhaps 'great' no longer, in the sense of now appearing to be incapable of governing itself intelligently in this new world of integrated cultures, societies and politics. Take internal justice, as an example, and take the case of British businessman Munir Hussain found guilty of utilizing "excessive force" while constraining a man who had entered his home, bound him and his young family, and threatened to kill him.

He had the audacity to attack one of the three intruders who had, masked and armed with knives, put the fear of God into him and his family with their threats to kill them all. He must now remain in prison for 30 months to preserve "civilized society". His brother Tokeer Hussain who, living nearby, and alerted by a younger son of Munir Hussain, came to his brother's aid, was also sentenced to 39 months for his involvement.

The brothers, while described as "outstanding members of the community", were upbraided by Judge John Reddihough for actions in taking "...the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting justice take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilized society, would collapse."

The vaunted rule of law is a pathetic conceit in this instance, where the man who was attacked, one of the three masked and armed thugs who had entered Mr. Hussain's home to confront him, his wife and three children, is a criminal with 50 convictions. This man, Walid Salem, was permitted his freedom, allowing him to return to his lifelong pursuit of criminal advantage in a polite society that persecutes the innocent and excuses the guilty.

Yet another indication that something has gone dreadfully awry is The Daily Mail's revelations of horrendous waste of taxpayer funding by the Kensington & Chelsea Council in London, "following government rules". Newly-introduced rules forcing local authorities to house clients in private properties if suitable council accommodation is unavailable. And in accord with those rules, the following have occurred.

Francesca Walker, a mother of 8, gets $155,000 yearly in housing benefits in addition to another $26,000 allowance to enable her to rent a $4.5-million mansion in the Notting Hill district of London. Thirty-year-old Ms. Walker herself admits her accommodation represents a colossal waste of money. "There are a lot of people who defraud the system and abuse it - it's not difficult to take advantage of it."

Clearly not. And since money she earned from her organic soap and bath products enterprise had to be rendered to the council she sees no reason why she should now work.
And then there is the Somali asylum seeker of 40, with her seven children and her mother living in a six-bedroom house worth $3-million in central London at a cost to the taxpayer of $2,765 weekly. Her unemployed husband lives elsewhere, in a two-bedroom apartment.

An Afghan mother with seven children is being given $20,700 monthly to rent a seven-bedroom property with a lovely garden in Acton, west London at a cost thus far of $290,000. Life was never so good in Afghanistan and Somalia. These are people who have fled dire war conditions imperilling their lives and the futures of their children. Little did they think they might ever live in such splendour.

If word gets around there'll be a run on refugee claims.

Oh yes, and then there's the bi-country relations between Britain and Israel, two long-time, if occasionally restive collegial-democracies where lawyers in the pay of Palestinian activists have used a questionable legal concept termed 'universal jurisdiction' to issue arrest warrants against visiting Israeli officials whom the Palestinians accuse of having engaged in war crimes in a foreign setting.

In the past, some of Israel's diplomats, its IDF generals, and its ministers, the latest being Tzipi Livni, formerly the country's foreign minister and currently the official opposition leader, have been targeted surreptitiously by such an arrest warrant for support of her country's defensive move against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This has turned out to be an embarrassment to Britain's government.

With Israelis against whom such arrest warrants have been quietly invoked being informed of their imminent arrest should they step foot onto British soil making haste to cancel planned London trips. The secretly issued arrest warrants, awaiting the unsuspecting arrival of named targets has thrown a spanner in the works of diplomacy between the two countries, one the justice minister insists he will clear up as speedily as possible.

Britain, we know thee not... Political correctness of the most abysmally absurd measure has corrupted your fabled common sense and once-proud system of justice.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Radicalization of Somalian Youth

At yet another mosque in Toronto, another cleric has spoken out on Islamic jihad. Imam Saed Rageah said in his week-end sermon that the plagues of suicide bombings in his native Somalia do not represent Islam. The Abu Huraira mosque congregants had no particular reason to find fault with his assertion, since Islam does not entice its adherents to become martyrs to the cause of jihad; it is fanatical clerics and depraved religious psychopaths who narrate an interpretation of the Koran to convince restive and action-hungry youth to embrace violent jihad.

A newly-recognized trend of young Somalian men from The U.K. Australia, the United States and Canada suddenly disappearing from their neighbourhoods, their families having no idea where they've gone, recruited to jihad and volunteering themselves to battle with groups like Al Shabab, has alerted intelligence authorities. The national president of the Canadian Somali Congress has informed the press that "the community is very, very concerned". Their parents are undoubtedly frantic with worry.

Also concerned are the very intelligence agencies in the various countries from whence the young men departed to return to their native country as warriors. Trained in battle and dedicated to jihad, their eventual return to their adopted countries becomes a matter of grave concern. Imam Sead Rageah believes the Internet may have had a malevolent effect on the missing young men, whom he characterized as 'emotional'.

Imam Rageah is eager to be as of much assistance to investigators as possible. The missing men, he says, must have had help to secure them passage to Somalia,where it is believed they are, but there were no recruiters in the mosque. Because the mosque authorities are alert and would instantly halt any such activities. It is a secret underworld where extremists carry out their work, enthusing the conflicted young with their ideological mission.

As for Imam Rageah, his background appears more than slightly interesting. He emigrated to Canada from Saudi Arabia in 1980, where he had lived with a brother after his parents and two brothers died in Somalia. He became imam at the Ayah Islamic Centre, a mosque in Maryland, after studies in the United States. After 9-11 that mosque came under FBI scrutiny which revealed that two of the hijackers of the Pentagon crash had left their belongings there, before the attack.

The FBI investigation appeared to have revealed that Imam Rageah had been busy fundraising for the Global Relief Foundation, a charity recognized as having been allied with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. But no charges were laid. Imam Rageah returned in 2003 to Canada where he lived in Calgary before moving back to Toronto to take up work at the Abu Huraira Centre.

Where he is an immensely popular lecturer.

Labels: , ,

Mischance, Slander and Revolt

Poor Iran, it is to weep with frustration over the hard place Tehran finds itself in. Life can be so utterly unfair. But what can a righteous Islamic Republic do, after all, when the most domineeringly bitter nations of the world decide to create a common front and compromise the country's best interests to their own view of a required subservience to their dreadful agenda? Thank paradise for the good auspices of other, equally powerful agents; friends like China and Russia.

As for the opposition led by traitors such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi, creatures of the enemies of Iran, supported, encouraged, paid by the interests of Western countries, they are a disgrace to their country and their Maker. Allah will surely smite them. Failing that, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will assist in their earned destruction. Anti-government demonstrations cannot be tolerated, they are an abomination in the sight of Allah. Nor can the administration tolerate the aberrant insult to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, blessed be his name.

"They are openly violating the law; they insulted Imam Khomeini" (thus spake) Ayatollah Khamenei. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists on an apology, as abject as possible "the people are angry at those who carried out such an act". The people? Which people would that be? The oppressed of the Republic of Iran, the repressed population insisting that it is beyond time their lives rise out of the ashes of the Revolution? Mr. Mousavi, for his part, resists the reality that his supporters violated the memory of the late, venerated Ayatollah Khamenei, the hero of the Iranian Revolution. "Very suspicious", he said.

Clerical counter-demonstrators have come out in full force, in support of the administration, chanting "Death to America", and "Death to opponents of the supreme leader", a familiar old refrain, consolidating the Republic of Iran's position as an arbiter for world peace, dedicated to fellowship and good will among nations. A position well known and appreciated by the West, in fact. Who have expressed trust in the ongoing attestations by Tehran that the nation's quest for nuclear power is for peaceful civil purposes only. An energy strategy.

The confidential intelligence documents in the hands of The Times (London) aside, a travesty of the truth, an evil concoction of intrigue purporting to have emanated from scientific circles in Iran. In reality a horribly nasty plan hatched by the Great Satan and its incestuous Little Satan. Notes from Iran's military nuclear project? Not likely. Describing a four-year scenario to test a neutron initiator for a nuclear bomb? What an intolerable calumny!

Independent experts confirming that uranium deuteride has no possible civilian or military use other than for a neutron source for a nuclear weapon? Absurd. The same uranium deuteride used in Pakistan's bomb? Our friends in Pakistan whose rogue nuclear scientist magnanimously shared its nuclear blueprint with Iran? Highly improbable, obviously unlikely, an American-issued slander; propaganda whose purpose is to shame the Great Republic.

"Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application", (thus said) David Albright, physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, after its analysis of the Iranian documents. "This is a very strong indicator of weapons work." Ha! Equivocation! And what can one anticipate but blame-puffery of the worst type emanating from the devil's workshop in Washington?

Manouchehr Mottaki, foreign minister of Iran, simply reminded the international community that Iran has concluded it requires up to fifteen nuclear power plants before it can be satisfied it will be able to meet its future energy needs. Iran's huge oil and gas reserves, after all, will not last forever, will they? Not at the rate they're being pumped and sold to the highest bidder, be it Russia, China, Britain - or any other country eager and willing to bid for the precious fuel.

Perhaps it is time to disarmingly, and with good will, meet American President Barack Obama's outstretched hand of friendship with earnest dialogue connoting trust and future co-operation? Iran could offer greater refining opportunities to energy-anxious America, and the current mistrust put to rest? After all, the experts in American intelligence took it upon themselves to deny the Little Satan's reports on Iran's capability, content to believe that Tehran had brought nuclear weapons preparation to a halt. Did they not, before their U-turn?

As for that fellow, Mark Fitzpatrick, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, who claimed: "The most shattering conclusion is that ... this was an effort that began in 2007 ... If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution". Who in their right mind is prepared to believe such trash? However, Iran's friends at the International Atomic energy Agency will peruse the documents transferred to them, and in the final analysis pronounce them to be fakes.

It is a shame that a fundamentally God-given country like Iran with its majestic traditions and brilliant heritage could fall under such untoward and unwarranted suspicion. This is a tragedy that the good must shoulder; the distrust and suspicion thrust upon them by lesser countries of the world which the divine light of Islam refuses to fall upon.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brutalizing the Palestinians

Israel the aggressor, the oppressor, the occupier. It's really tough to live next to Jews; they have such tender regard for themselves and such a fearsomely irritating penchant to dismissing the human rights of others. One sees it in the reportage regularly aired on certain radio and television stations intent on ensuring that the world does not forget the plight of the Palestinians. For the Palestinians deserve better than to remain a fearful, oppressed and poverty-ridden population, refugees forever, clinging to the wan hope of statehood.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post that the reason he refused Ehud Olmert's offer to create a Palestinian state with 97% of the West Bank and an additional 3% in trade representing land within Israel's 1967 border was a matter of simple practicality. "In the West Bank, we have a good reality. The people are living a normal life." Besides which, added the head of the Nablus stock exchange, there is no rush for statehood.

For at the present time Palestinians have a need for the Israel Defence Forces. West Bank Palestinians urgently require protection from the forces of Hamas. The defence forces of the Palestinian Authority are not yet capable of defending them. West Bank Palestinians, formerly Jordanian in origin, have traditionally been secular, business-oriented people, capable of looking after their own interests.

West Bank Palestinians see themselves as being quite different culturally and socially, from Palestinian Gazans, who originated within Egypt. Gazans have clung to a different culture, and they are religious in orientation. Seeing for themselves a commonality with the ideals espoused by Hamas. Although Gazans may be finding themselves less comfortable of late with the restrictions imposed by Hamas through interpretations of sharia.

The Palestinian state is proceeding, however, with little fuss, in establishing the required infrastructure to be put in place to ensure an orderly transition from 'refugee state' to proudly sovereign state. That time will come. Meanwhile, in Nablus prosperity is everywhere to be seen; the head of the Palestinian Securities Exchange has celebrated the Nablus stock market as the second-best performing in the world this year, after Shanghai.

The wealthiest man in the West Bank lives in Nablus, a billionaire. The most recent Hollywood releases are on view at well-attended Nablus theatres. The presence of BMWs and Mercedes would challenge in their numbers, those seen anywhere else, including Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Israeli checkpoints are scarce since Israeli security services put down the last intifada, restoring security to the West Bank.

It is that prevailing security largely responsible for the current economic boom. In Hebron, restaurants and shops are full of people living comfortably. Sizeable villas have appeared around the city perimeters. New apartment buildings, banks, brokerage houses, car dealerships and health clubs are in clear evidence in Ramallah. In Qalqilya, local Palestinian farmers, trained by Israeli agriculturalists and helped by Israel with irrigation equipment have sent their first strawberry crop to Europe.

A new Palestinian city is in the planning stages, soon to be built north of Ramallah. The Jewish National Fund has assisted in the planting of three thousand tree seedlings for a forested area to be developed near the new city. Palestinians have consulted with Israeli experts in the planning of public parks and additional civil infrastructures. Tourism has soared in the Palestinian Authority, bringing new guests to the now-open 89 hotels.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Palestinian economic growth has rung in at 7%. But according to the PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad, (a former IMF employee), the real figure is 11%, partly due to the congruent strong economic performance in Israel. Gaza has not been entirely immune to the strong economic forecast, and it has seen its shops and markets brimful of goods and foodstuffs.

Life for Arabs within Israel is still seen as preferable to living outside the borders of the country. Palestinians living within Israel as citizens, still largely state their preference is to remain within Israel, eschewing removal to a new Palestinian state. The intractability of Hamas in the formula for living peacefully side by side, Arabs and Jews, presents as a particular dilemma, one whose solution lies somewhere in the future.

Peculiarly enough, in a territory where strange occurrences are strange only to the uninitiated onlooker, Gaza's Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya's three sisters- Kholidia, Laila and Sabah - originally Palestinians living in Gaza, married Israeli Bedouin from Tel Sheva, a Negev town. They have lived there for 30 years, and even though two of the sisters are now widowed, none are willing to give up their Israeli citizenship, and live comfortably in Israel.

Israel has been facing the urging of the United States to surrender the villages it has possession of, on the border of Lebanon, as a possible way to induce Hezbollah to give up its battle with Israel. One of them, partly within Lebanon, and partly within Israel, were formerly Syrian, won by Israel in the 1967 battle that gave Israel the Golan Heights. But the residents of the town of Ghajar are vehemently resisting leaving the geography of Israel.

The head of the Ghajar municipal council, informed the Israeli Arutz Sheva: "We were a Syrian village that was conquered by Israel. We have in the village 2,200 people, and we are a part of the State of Israel. We won't agree to be refugees in any other place, and we won't allow anyone to divide our village into two parts, either." Most of the village's population participated in a protest against the proposal that would leave them as part of Lebanon.

The residents of Ghajar have called on the government of Israel not to abandon them. Two Arab-Israeli elected members of the Knesset have upheld the appeal of the Ghajar residents: "...returning a village with its residents to a country which never controlled it should not be done. Just as Israel expects loyalty from its residents, it must also be loyal to them."

Another Knesset Member, representing northern Israel's Druze community said he would "fight with my last drop of blood" against any plan to abandon the village to the control of the United Nations and Hezbollah terrorists controlling southern Lebanon. Nothing is ever without nuances. Jews and Arabs have lived in peace with one another before, and they can do so again.

Absent terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Middle East Realities

Several years ago France's Foreign Minister spoke obliquely of the possibility of military intervention in Iran, should the ongoing trajectory of nuclear availment continue unabated. Bernard Kouchner is not a typical warmonger, as one of the co-founders of Medecins sans Frontieres he is a humanitarian by inclination, but he, like his boss, President Nicolas Sarkozy is also hard-headed enough to know clear and present danger when it presents itself.

At that time it was thought that the United States, under George W. Bush, might seek to use military means to attempt to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. Iran presents as the single most dangerous state in the world at the present time, next to North Korea and Pakistan for its dedication to nuclear arms presenting as a country whose administration is clearly unstable and whose threat to its neighbours is beyond alarming.

President Barack Obama has been intent on steering the United States on a different, less unilateral approach to world danger spots, and, stoicly reasonable person that he is, feels others might be reasonable too, if an exploratory hand of friendship is extended. Which is why Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad along with Iran's Supreme Leader, have been offered the opportunity to palaver.

Mr. Obama believes he is operating from a position of strength, a kind of noblesse oblige. Whereas his target audience, inclusive of the Arab states view his proffered largess as a palpable sign of of weakness, confusion, and impotence. Not quite the message he sought to convey, but one that has been interpreted in a predictable manner, common to bullies and tyrants the world over.

Now, along comes France, expressing its impatience with America's lack of urgency in attempting to come to grips with the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. Pledging to forcefully plunge forward in insisting on more effective United Nations sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. (The most useful sanctions, in fact, would be if all countries engaged with their business interests and their banks to withdraw from doing business in and with Iran.)

"We will make a last call to the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to our offer of negotiation", announced the French Ambassador to the United Nations following the most recent UN Security Council meeting focusing on the intransigence of Tehran in refusing to meet the demands of the international community. Ambassador Gerard Araud is following the direction of his president who corrected President Obama who spoke of the need to establish a nuclear-free world.

"We live in the real world, not in a world of postures and communiques. And the real world expects us to take decisions", chided French President Sarkozy, echoed at the time by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, both insisting on the adoption of tougher sanctions against Iran. Since then, Iran has flicked its middle finger in dismissal at each and every ultimatum and offer emanating from the Security Council.

The country has belatedly and of necessity (through detection) declared the presence of yet another nuclear enrichment plant. And in defiance of the latest condemnation of its insistence on enriching uranium to dangerous weapons-grade levels without the oversight of the IAEA, has trilled shrilly its intent to construct yet an additional ten nuclear enrichment plants. Where the funding would be found for such an ambition is beside the point.

And while it has been busy on the home front, cackling with glee at the impotence of the Security Council, supported the while by China and Russia, it continues to train and to arm the two most outstanding fundamentalist Islamist militias in the Middle East against their common enmity, Israel. And the world remains complacent, not quite comprehending that the potential destruction of Israel is a mere first step.

Mired in the belief that all the incendiary rhetoric, the terrorist bombings and the anger and hatred emanating from Islamist groups has its genesis in the establishment of the State of Israel on 'Islamic soil'; blame by default rests heavily on the Jewish State. When the reality is that the Arab states, tyrannical, theistic, oil-driven, oppressive - and their Iranian counterpart need no outsider presence to explain their historical divisions and tribal hatreds.

Ferocious levels of suspicion and intransigent divisions between clans and tribes and artificial boundaries and historical and fanatical religious divides have simply been diverted by the presence of a collective antipathy toward the Jewish presence. Absent Israel, the return to slaughter between Sunni and Shia, the imperatives of the strong leaching on the weak will simply intensify.

This is the misfortune of the great religious divide within Islam, and the tribal legacy of a war-inspired Bedouin society.

Labels: , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet