Sunday, January 31, 2010

Alternatives ...

Is it even remotely possible that Osama bin Laden is bored with waging violent jihad? He has been assigned such acclaim for his stellar role in enthusing the brotherhood of Islamic jihadists to embrace their role as human missiles one wonders at the potential for a sense of ennui overtaking his passionate soul.

One supposes that if one devotes one's time to an unwavering symbolic gesture it becomes tedious from overuse. So it must be with Osama bin Laden, judging by his latest communique. Who would've guessed it? It must be abundantly clear by now that this man is no news recluse; he obviously keeps abreast of the world's concerns.

And if it is anthropogenic environmental change of a truly disastrous variety, why then he would like a little bit of the action. Move over, Al Gore, you've a competing environmentalist breathing fire and brimstone at your doorstep. Mind, his accommodations likely are more reflective of those of a committed environmentalist, as opposed to your opulent digs.

It's entirely possible that Mr. bin Laden feels rather resentful that one of his world stature received no invitation to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos. His presence most certainly would have added a frisson of excitement. He could have stood up there at the lectern: "All industrial nations mainly the big ones, are responsible for the crisis of global warming."

Which he did anyway, but it was aired on Al Jazeera instead, a more accommodating venue, it would appear. Predictably one supposes, Mr. Bin Laden criticized his former nemesis, G.W. Bush for not (giggle not here) signing the Kyoto Protocol on the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. And he lambasted corporate influence in the U.S.

And oh dear, Osama, what're you trying to do to Obama? - condemning government bail-outs to banks...? "Discussing climate change is not an intellectual luxury but a reality", he hectored. And financial bail-outs by wealthy countries helping big industry cope with the global financial crisis only gave assistance to those who caused the meltdown."

He got that one right. You listening, President Obama? "When those perpetrators fall victims to the evil they had committed, the heads of states rush to rescue them using public money", he thundered. (Lynch them!) "We should stop using the dollar and get rid of it ... I know that there would be huge repercussions for that, but this would be the only way to free humankind from slavery ... to America and its companies."

The world's got this man wrong, obviously. He is studiously concerned with the environment, empathetic with the plight of the poor and the downtrodden, scornful of heartless capitalism; in short echoing the very points of view of U.S. President Barack Obama. Next thing we know, the American electorate, having been disappointed in Mr. Obama's initiatives, will turn elsewhere to discover hope for the future.

Is it possible Mr. Bin Laden can offer hope they can believe in? Osama, you cad, hitting a guy when he's already down!

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A Wooden Stake To The Heart?

Not far off there. Despite initial reports coming out of Hamas boardrooms that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a co-founder of the al-Qassam Brigades which also happens to be the name of the military wing of Hamas, had been killed by a massive electric shock to the head - and then strangled - a puzzling double-murder as described by his brother, that seems not to have been the case.

Which hardly matters in the sense of immateriality, since however he was killed, he is dead. Israel does not forget, nor forgive, violent transgressions against its sovereignty, nor vicious attacks against the security of its people. Israel has a grave and imperial duty to protect its own. The State of Israel inherited that mantle of protection when it was appointed the guardian of world Jewry.

A proven necessity after the Holocaust, when the world more than adequately proved it had no intention whatever of offering even a modicum of protection to Jewish children whose eradication from the land of living owed to their being Jewish; children notwithstanding. It therefore fell to the State of Israel to be entrusted with that duty.

When its children's lives are taken in vain, they are not taken in vain. They are avenged. Not through silent suffering and appealing to the God of our Fathers, but by taking direct and unequivocal action to enact the biblical principle of an eye for an eye, however brutal that may seem to sensitized emotions. Sensibilities can be altered under extreme duress.

"I cannot rule out the possibility of Mossad involvement in the assassination of Mabhouh", claimed Dubai's police chief. Referring in part to several "European passport holders" as prime suspects; none others making themselves apparent at the moment. From their early investigation they have established the murder was committed by "a professional criminal gang".

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal described Mr. Mabhouh as a "great man" for having battled Israel for three decades. "I say to you Zionists, do not rejoice. You killed him, but his sons will fight you". This death extends the Hamas list of martyrs dedicated to extending martyrdom to Jews. In fact, Hamas is toying with the threat of targeting Jews outside Israel. They are, after all, complicit; they are Jews.

Mr. Mabhouh gained his notoriety within Israeli intelligence circles as the kidnapper and killer of two Israeli soldiers. And was well advised after that, to remain cognizant that he was a marked man. And who celebrated that status by carefully barricading himself as a standard precaution against sudden death. Despite which little worry, he was feted by Hamas as having acted as an active commander "until the moment of his assassination."

Which, in the final analysis, did him little good. His activities on behalf of Hamas, smuggling weapons into Gaza bypassing Israeli military blockades, marked him additionally as a severe irritant to security of the Jewish State. He was killed, it would appear, by agents unknown, who had injected a poison into his blood system that caused a heart attack, according to the London Times.

The assassins are thought to have taken photographs of the documents that had been in Mr. Al-Mabhouh's possession at the time. And in respect of the man's right to privacy at that most solemn time of his life ebbing into the Afterworld, they thoughtfully hung a "do not disturb" sign on the doorknob.

Adequately demonstrating that they could not have been Israeli agents.

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The Final Word

Neat how things fit together in the puzzles that represent human interaction. UN sanctions against North Korea include a provision that forbids their exporting of weapons anywhere in the world. In North Korea's case this is a disciplinary backlash against their IAEA-forbidden nuclear test explosions. In that of Iran, it represents likewise an admonitory discipline resulting from their intransigence revolving around their nuclear aspirations.

North Korea has been inordinately kind to Iran, in encouraging its nuclear program toward nuclear weapons production. North Korea has extended its kindness toward Syria, as well. What distinguishes these countries is that they are all tyrannical dictatorships, all of whom represent a clear and present danger to their geographic partners, and by extension, to the world at large.

Pakistan stands as the original locus of illicit nuclear triumph, gratuitously assisting the others to nuclear achievement. Pakistan has long been recognized as a breeding ground for violent jihadists, as has been both Syria and Iran. Pakistan's heedless contempt of India brought it to the brink of collapse with its own Taliban now threatening the country's existence; echoes of the Middle East.

Shipments of armaments from North Korea to Iran and perhaps by extension to Hamas and Hezbollah have been apprehended in the past. Now, again, Thai authorities have seized a cargo plane which departed Pyongyang in transit to Mehrabad airport in Tehran, containing rockets, fuses, rocket launchers and rocket-propelled grenades. One can only wonder at those shipments that did arrive at their destination successfully.

The UN Security Council committee to which the Thai government forwarded a report on the incident is expected to forward diplomatic missives to Pyongyang and Tehran to request details with respect to the shipment. How very impressively, politely diplomatic. And how awkward for North Korea and Iran both of whom will simply shrug shoulders and then their backs.

North Korea, determinedly nuclear despite its impoverished state, earns over a billion dollars annually on its UN-deplored-and-sanctioned exports of ballistic missiles, readily sold to Iran and other Mid-Eastern countries. The UN and the world are on high alert over the dire and direct threat posed, particularly with respect to Iran's aggressive nuclear program.

Another country struggling with hard economic times stands ready, able and willing to sell missiles to Arab countries to enable them to make an effort, through more conventional weaponry, to stave off Iran's advances. The United States, through a U.S. Senate-approved bill is prepared to target U.S. companies providing refined oil to Iran. While at the same time earning $20-billion in arms sales to the region.

Israel is concerned with the imminence of Iran's success in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to be fitted onto its more advanced missiles quite able to reach Israel, along with Arab states and American troops posted in the area - reaching even into Europe. "Our first goal is to deter the Iranians. A second is to reassure the Arab states, so they don't feel they have to go nuclear themselves", according to one U.S. official.

It is abundantly clear that Israel is the first target for Iran, for it has been stated often enough, as a goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The latest word from Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "The Middle East is the crossroad of relations in the world and anyone who has the last word in the Middle East will have the final say in the world as well. Now the question is who has the last say in the Middle East? Well, of course, the answer is clear to everyone."

Those words from one who feels clearly in the ascendancy, but who may in the end, be inviting calamity to befall his nation and his people.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Divine Origins

The Word
Why do you believe your holy book is truly from God?

Anglican: The Christian Bible tells us what sort of God it is that Christians worship. It does that by telling the stories of the communities who worship God. Christian communities have songs and stories, laws and legends, conflicts and concords. Our greatest story is the story of Jesus, his ministry, his execution and the creation of a community in his name at Easter.
The Bible in this view is not something dictated by God, nor something that is verbally inerrant. Its power comes from its being the Church's book.

Judaism: It makes great sense to believe that God would leave a blueprint, an instruction manual, for how to live. Our Holy Book, the Bible, is that blueprint. The Torah, the Bible, the Five Books of Moses, contain promises about rewards for adhering to the dictates of faith, or the consequence for failure to adhere.
The Bible is committed to telling the truth, even if the truth is painful. There you have it - a Holy Book that is painfully true.

Islam: It is a fundamental belief of Muslims that the Holy Koran is truly from God. A person is not a Muslim if he or she does not hold this belief. For Muslims, the Holy Koran contains the Creator's will and guidance for human beings in this world so "that people may stand forth in justice" (57:25).
"Koran is not such as can be produced by other than God: On the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the Worlds: (10:37).

United Church: In the United Church of Canada, we say that the Bible is never less than the Word of God. We do not presume that the Word of God is limited to the Bible. Holy or not, the Bible is a book; a biblios of books: 66 in our version.
The Bible is truly from God not because it was dictated from heaven, but because it reflects how flawed humans struggle to describe our relationship to God. the truth is in the struggle.

Metropolitan Bible Church: The Bible makes a bold claim for itself. It claims to be from God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed". God's Spirit supernaturally influenced the writers of Scripture so that the words we read in the Bible are from God, completely trustworthy and authoritative.
The Bible has proven historically reliable. The Bible refers to dates, events, people and places in history. Its accuracy has repeatedly been verified by historians and archaeologists. The Bible has proven prophetically precise. It remains the best-selling book of all time. It has been globally influential. No other book has changed individual lives and entire societies like the Bible.

Hinduism: Although of divine origin, Hinduism does not claim that its most sacred text, the Veda, was uttered by God. From the Sanskrit "veda" which means knowledge, the Veda is a body of primordial knowledge that according to tradition was intuitively revealed to Sages. Thus it is apauruseya, authorless and therefore revealed, and its wisdom is eternal and imperishable. The Vedas are not dogmatic, proclaiming that Truth is one, but "sages call it by different names".
The world's oldest scripture, the language of the Vedas is archaic and needs interpretation and is studied mainly by scholars and priests. However, individual verses known as mantras are recited at prayers, religious functions and other auspicious occasions in contemporary Hinduism.

Roman Catholic: If we accept there is a God, that He wants us to be able to know Him and to have a genuine relationship with Him, and that we want a relationship with Him, then this answer will make more sense. Over the course of history God revealed Himself to us through human beings who, inspired by God's Holy Spirit, revealed necessary truths to us to help us to know Him.
In the resource book of the teaching of the Catholic church (the Catechism of the Catholic Church) we read in paragraph number 104: "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them." It makes sense that God would provide us with the means of knowing Him.

Sikh: The Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahibk (SGGS) is the revealed and divine shabad or word of God. SGGS was compiled by the Sikh Gurus and includes their teachings as well as those of other, contemporary spiritual teachers who experienced the divine. Sikhs consider SGGS their eternal spiritual master and guide to union with God.
The subject of reverence in all Sikh scripture is the one God and all nomenclatures in use in that geographical region at the time have been mentioned to address the supreme, eternal soul.

The summing up through the various lenses of particular perceptions and adherences of humankind's devotion to the belief in an Almighty. And for those who seek harbour in no such dependencies? Perhaps self-reliance, native intelligence, patience and goodwill.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Deathly Confessions

When is a confession not a confession of absolute guilt? When it has been wrenched from an individual's denial-screeching mind seeking surcease from interminable torture techniques no human being could conceivably resist.

There is torture, one assumes, and then there is torture. As in mental torment and physical atrocity visited upon those unfortunates whom fate has given to be victimized by regimes of horror. There is then, nothing particularly new about torture as a reality and as a symbol of state power in certain geographical areas of the globe, in particular.

And the Islamic Republic of Iran, for one such country, has been well recognized as a state purveyor of terror and torture. And a totalitarian theistic state that takes its direction from One on High who instructs those of that peculiar brand of fanaticism that what they do is well justified in the name of God.

Iran's Green Movement, the protest movement born in the wake of the country's June election for president has been on high alert and with good enough reason. Political dissent is not countenanced in totalitarian states.

Two men have now been hanged for offences against the state. For taking part in opposition rallies against the government, on the Shia holy day of Ashura, last month.

Both their lawyers and their relatives have themselves protested; that the two men, Muhammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour had been in prison a full three months prior to the election. And they therefore had no connection to the demonstrations. The crime they had been implicated in, a mosque bombing, had been identified as an accidental blast.

Nonetheless, they are the first of the Green Movement martyrs. To be hanged, that is. There have been other, earlier martyrs, those killed outright during protests, by the Basiji and the Republican Guard, and those who succumbed to death through the severity of the torture they were exposed to while imprisoned.

An additional five protesters have also been sentenced to death. Or is that eleven? With more, many more to come. Until their numbers are decimated. At which time, the administration may hope that the enthusiasm for dissent will have been somewhat modified through fear of similar treatment. Deity-sanctioned and state-manipulated.

Meanwhile, protesters are once again being urged to take to the streets on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, on February 11th. Messrs. Rahmanipour and Zamani were found guilty of the crime of representing "enemies of God". Proven by the accusation they were members of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, seeking a return to monarchical rule.

Arash Rahmanipour was all of nineteen. He agreed under unbearable physical duress that he was guilty of having been trained by western governments to foment instability during the election in June. Odd that, since two months earlier he had been arrested with his family, along with his pregnant sister - in April.

"He confessed because of threats against his family", his grieving sister testified.

A rampagingly bestial government, and a courageous population. An obvious formula for trouble.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Arutz Sheva - Sharing Experience

7. Kenyan Delegation Visits Sderot to Study Counter-Terrorism
by Malkah Fleisher Kenyans Visit Sderot

As the Somali Islamic terror organization al-Shabaab threatens to attack Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, a delegation of parliamentarians, security officials, and diplomats from that African country arrived in Israel this week to learn about standing up to radical Islamic terror, as reported by Sderot Media Center.

Al-Shabaab's website this week featured a video of terrorists chanting in Swahili, "We will reach Nairobi. When we arrive, we will hit until we kill." Recent violent demonstrations in Kenya followed a governmental decision to deport Jamaican Muslim cleric Abdullah al-Faisal, who has spent time in jail in Britain for urging Muslims to engage in holy war, or jihad, against Westerners, Hindus, and Jews. Six people were killed in riots, including a police officer.

Radical Islam has swept Kenya's northeastern neighbor, Somalia, where the imposition of harsh Islamic Sharia law has been urged and where the international Al-Qaeda terrorist group has set up shop.

In Sderot

The Kenyan delegation toured the southern city of Sderot on Tuesday to gain an in-depth look at the Jewish State's anti-terror security measures. Sderot Regional Security Chief Kobi Harush briefed the group about measures taken by the Israeli government to protect Sderot and regional towns from rocket attacks, including the provision of bomb shelters and early warning systems.

Harush said it is important to provide shelter everywhere, because rockets can fall anywhere, at any time. He also said civilian cooperation and compliance is crucial to enforcing security.

Sderot Media Center's Yaakov Shrybman also addressed the group. He warned them that rocket terrorism might be employed by Somali radicals to terrorize Kenyan cities. "As we know, terrorism is not a localized virus," said Shrybman. "The rocket threat faced by us here on the Gaza border in Sderot is one that may potentially be faced by innocent civilians around the world."

Members of the delegation said they had "a lot to learn" from their trip.

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A Berserk World


John Paul II whipped himself, according to new book
Pope John Paul II regularly whipped himself with a special belt and signed a secret document to the effect that he pledged to resign should he become incurably ill, according to the newly-published Why He's a Saint. The Vatican postulator tasked with reviewing John Paul's life in preparation for a case elevating him to sainthood has confirmed this fact. The Pope's inner circle has also confirmed that Karol Wojtyla kept a belt for that very purpose; a whip with which to flagellate himself. "We would hear it - we were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he flagellated himself." Rather than merely imagining Christ's agonies, the truly faithful prefer to reinvent them, to fully integrate themselves in the pathos of God's only son's sacrifice for humankind. This nourished their faithful souls, gave them impetus to find the strength to continue to devote themselves to that immortal saviour. We thus learn that the Shepherd of God whose entreaties to the faithful to uphold their fervent faith had scant little in his own, for himself. There are other, more understanding interpretations, which will lead to his sainthood.

Putin's patriotic credentials take hit over Lada confession
The current Prime Minister (and some might add the de facto President) of Russia has admitted to a student audience that the Lada Niva he purchased last year in a deliberate move to impress upon his constituents the honourable requirement to remain faithful to Russian industry, that his nobility of purpose might not be quite as it seemed. That his off-road vehicle came complete with a customized German-made engine produced by Opel. The Niva sold in Russia has a Russian-made engine similar to that used in the Lada sedan whose unappeal to Russian consumers as an unreliable piece of technical junk has given it short shrift in public appeal. "I won't hide it, the car I bought has an Opel engine. It turns out that it is more powerful."
Powerfully hypocritical, withal. However, appealing to the bad boy in the latest Russian strongman whose muscular exploits have themselves appealed to the great Russian public. All shall be forgiven by a merciful electorate.

A tofu cream pie in the face, an act of terrorism
Well, if not actually terror-terrorism, then most certainly rabid intimidation. An American member of the infamously self-righteous "animal rights" organization, PETA, demonstrated her contempt for Canada in what her defenders might construe as a light-hearted manner by flapping a tofu cream pie directly into the face of Canada's federal fisheries minister, Gail Shea, at a public meeting in Burlington, Ontario. Message received; PETA is unhappy about the ongoing seal hunt in Canada's far north. This representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been charged with assault.
A novel way to make friends across national borders, and influence the decision-making capabilities of Ministers of the Crown. PETA gets a failing grade. Somehow, they always manage to fail their animal constituents by their equation of rough action to gentle 'suasion.

Overhaul UN climate panel, scientist urges
Senior Canadian climatologist at the University of Victoria, Dr. Andrew Weaver, who has himself contributed important research data to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has publicly stated his opinion that the chairmanship of this UN-sponsored group of environmental scientists is ready for a change. That the IPCC has stumbled irretrievably from its neutral scientific roots toward outright and overt political advocacy. Periodic reports, including the 2007 Nobel Prize-winning Climate Change 2007 to which he also contributed are imperilling the legitimate work of scientific enquiry vital to fully understanding climate change.
Who would've guessed?

India bows to rights complaint - will free almost 200,000 held without trial
Of the current 250,000 people held in state detention awaiting trial, India has responded to her critics by stating her intention to free 200,000 of those detainees. Many of whom have been held in prison for periods of time far exceeding prison stays they would have been sentenced to, had justice prevailed. The example of one man accused of a 1968 murder having spent 38 years in jail awaiting a trail that never came, before finally being released at the age of 70 a case in point; his sentence would have been 14 years had he been legally tried and justice done. These remand prisoners - known as "undertrials", were to be freed in response to human rights campaigns for people lost in India's judicial system, a dysfunctional system where blame is placed on overcrowded courts and a shortage of judges.
A vast democracy where the grim truth is it's better not to run afoul of the law lest one is prepared to be extraordinarily disciplined....

Ban 'unacceptable' full Islamic veil, French parliament advised
The veil is it? France responding to the weight on its society, its system of justice and citizen entitlements by sidetracking the real issues and placing the burden on already-human-rights-compromised women. Women whose human rights have been trampled by the heavy burden of fundamentalism and, having bowed to that imperative, now must struggle with the dictates of a state celebrated for its egalitarian sense of justice. Holding women accountable through their choice - or lack of - of apparel from within a misanthropic tradition, doubly victimizes them. So what else is new in this sadly conflicted world?

McDonald's wrong to fire worker over extra slice of cheese, Dutch court rules
In another example of the sturdy reality of ethical capitalism, managers at a Dutch branch of that world-celebrated culinary experience, McDonald's, were so incensed at the improper, unethical, unprincipled behaviour of an employee that they dismissed her summarily from her workplace. "The dismissal was too severe a measure", read the district court's judgement. "It is just a slice of cheese." Imagine, an employee feeling so certain of herself, so entitled to decision-making that she exhibited the audacity to place an extra slice of cheese in a cheeseburger she served up to a colleague.
She broke the rules! No free gifts to family, friends or colleagues... The Leeuwarden court ordered this exemplar of nutritional beneficence to pay the fired worker's salary for the remaining five months of her contract. Her employers must be fuming at this outrageous interference in their corporate-wise decision-making....

Overt, Unconscionable Discrimination! We'll have none of that here....
Nicole Mamo was just looking for someone to rely upon to do a little cleaning. Reliance being the operative word here. She sought to post a help-wanted advertisement for a "domestic cleaner", specifying that the applicant "must be very reliable and hard-working". Trouble was the job centre in Thetford, England, took massive umbrage. They refused to take her advert, skilled though they are in matching the unemployed with job opportunities.
Some body in charge informed her haughtily the ad as it stood had the intent to "discriminate against the unreliable."
Clutching her head in disbelief, the would-be employer most certainly meant to convey the message that "slackers need not apply", but this is obviously verboten in a caringly supportive atmosphere of coddling the frail capabilities of job aspirants.

And this just in....!
George Clooney proudly announced, post-Haitian-relief television entertainment specials, that the U.S. telethon had raised $55-million...! Canada's version raised approximately $13.5-million. And the government of Canada will match that figure. And Canada has one-tenth the population of the U.S. Of course, American citizens are just warming up to the challenge....

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Holocaust Remembrance

The European Jewish Congress and Tel Aviv University jointly released surprising new survey findings regarding the state of anti-Semitism worldwide.

According to the survey, anti-Semitism rose in major Western countries throughout 2008, particularly in Germany, Switzerland and Canada, and spiked dramatically in early 2009. The survey also found that without any outside triggers, anti-Semitism remained at high levels even before the onset of the economic crisis or the Israel offensive in Gaza. What’s more, despite efforts at Holocaust education around the world, anti-Semitic perceptions prevailed and the exploitation of Holocaust metaphors and symbols of the Nazi era rose steadily.

The survey also found that synagogues, cemeteries and Holocaust memorials were desecrated in 2008 on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis in many European countries. After dozens of violent incidents, Jewish children increasingly fear being attacked on their way to school or synagogue and need special protection in most European capitals.

This day marks the mournful remembrance of 65 years since the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz death camp. With the end of the Second World War, news of the extent of Nazi determination in pursuing their "Final Solution" become public, as photographs of skeletal survivors of the Nazi death camps were printed in newspapers all over the world.

It was established that through a regularized system of collection, incarceration and slow but steady mass murder the world was relieved of the existence of no fewer than six million Jews.

These were men, women and children whom the Nazis conceived of as sub-human, eminently dispensable, in an urgent need to rid the world of a race of people subsumed by the need to control the international community through their (sub-human) skills, intelligence, creativity, enterprise and expertise expressed through their malign intent to control the world's banking system and news publishing.
A dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents and violence against Jews has been recorded during 2009 around the world and especially in Western Europe, according to an annual report authored by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA) which was presented Sunday by the Chair of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.

The report was published ahead of the International Day against Fascism and Anti-Semitism and the Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz which is marked on January 27.

According to the report, an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents was recorded last year, especially in Western Europe, where 2009 had a record number of violent acts committed since World War II.

More anti-Semitic incidents were recorded during the first three months of 2009 than during the entire previous year – a fact the report attributes to Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008.

The sharpest increase was reported in France, where 631 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in the first half of 2009 (compared with 474 throughout 2008); Britain came in second with over 600 incidents, while the Netherlands recorded some 100 anti-Semitic acts – same number as the year before.

In addition to the increase in the number of cases, there has also been an escalation in the severity of the acts themselves. Hundreds of incidents were considered extremely violent, and included eight murders – six slain during the terror attack in Mumbai, India; Johanna Justin-Jinich, a Jewish student who was murdered in Connecticut and the security guard that was killed during the attack on the holocaust museum in Washington D.C.

The authors of the report also noted the "modern blood-libel" phenomenon such as the Swedish newspaper article that accused Israel of organ trafficking and anti-Semitic television shows that have been broadcasted in several Muslim countries including Turkey. The report also mentioned the latest allegation of organ trafficking in Haiti.

One of the report's main findings was that some 42% of Western European citizens, mainly from Poland and Spain, believe Jews exploit their past as victims in order to extort money.

Another surprising discovery was an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents that stem from internal political conflicts ahead of elections, such as those that occurred in Hungary and the Ukraine, with cooperation between radical left factions and Muslim communities.

The report also noted that when governments actively battle Anti-Semitism, it results in cases such as those that occurred in the US, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

The conscience of the world was stricken after the revelations of institutionalized mass murder concentrated on ridding the world of that pestilential race that was responsible for proving its value to humankind in a multitude of ways, from the disproportionate numbers of Jews in all fields of the humanities, the arts and the sciences who contributed outstanding work on behalf of the entire global community.

It was well enough known that even before the end of WWII - and before the liberation of all the Nazi concentration camps that held a minute portion of Europe's Jews that had been successfully annihilated - that their fate appeared of scant concern to those in power, from the sitting Pope, to heads of European states, to humanitarian groups. Disinterest more than adequately demonstrated that little was done to save those Jews, including orphan children, that could be saved.

Ocean-going ships carrying desperate Jews were turned away from one potential safe-haven port to yet another and finally the ships were forced to return their human cargo to certain death.

And then, the creation of the State of Israel, through the initial effort of Great Britain, then the United States and Russia, carrying the votes that would succeed in its establishment, through a UN declaration of partition, paving the way for two states, one Israeli the other Arab. Nothing has been adequately resolved since that time in 1948, to pacify the outrage of the surrounding Arab countries and the festering refugeehood of the Palestinians.

The support that the world had initially bestowed upon worldwide Jewry through acceptance of the Zionist agenda to reclaim the historical Land of Israel for Jews has slowly eroded over the course of the years since then. Anti-Semitism so strenuously condemned and deplored post-war, slowly returned with a vengeance in the past decade, as Holocaust-deniers made their pact with the devil and closet anti-Semites enjoyed a renaissance in Jew-bashing that permitted their public disclosures equating Jews with the old tropes of racist diatribes.

Israel itself now has become the foil for world hatred of Jews. The State's fierce critics claim innocence of any agenda deeper than friendly criticism, helpfully recommending trade and academic boycotts to instruct Israel how best it should behave toward Palestinians whose aim is to ultimately destroy the state and integrate it into a greater whole representative of Arab need, desires and aspirations. The world commends moderation to Israel, while it offers friendly sympathy to Palestinian suffering.

Israel has re-discovered its ancient pain. That it must rely solely on its own resources, for none will be readily forthcoming from outside its immediate Jewish enclosure to facilitate an end to its problems as an embattled state representing a reviled people. This was the lesson of the Holocaust, and it resounds to the present day. It is the legacy that history left to this historical people.

And the measure of the resolve of the Jewish people through the actions and determinations of the State of Israel will stand in stead of exterior enablement, proven to be a will-o-the-wisp. Another lesson in human relations and humanity in a long tradition of such lessons.

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Fracturing Allegiances

Everything, it would seem, has its price. Honour and allegiances are moveable feasts. And perhaps illusory and immaterial when people live on the edge of existence.

For nothing motivates a hungry man more than the potential to be nourished, to survive another day. And if that hungry man is a young man without employment prospects, why wouldn't he take up an offer that will pay him? And if that hungry man is a father of children needing to be fed, and that offer emanates from those among his clan, the alacrity of his acceptance would be dazzling.

So here is a new plan spear-headed by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, who has always expressed the longing to welcome back to the fold his "brothers", the Pashtun men of Afghanistan who pledged their allegiance to the fiercely fundamentalist Islamists known as the Taliban. Misguided souls, he thought them to be, and his was the mission to bring them back to sanity and the future of the country.

Finally, his aspirations to reach out a promise of security to those among the Taliban who could be conceived of as "moderates" has helped to fuel an agreement from NATO; specifically Japan, Britain and the United States who stand prepared to offer the monetary wherewithal whereby an irresistible incentive to pay moderates more than the Taliban do, will bring them to support of the government.

Aren't they termed mercenaries in another, less honourable perhaps, context?

"Those Taliban who were not part of terrorist networks or al-Qaeda are the sons of the Afghan soil", declaimed Mr. Karzai. Does that exempt those foot soldiers who were dispatched to plant IEDs, responsible for demolishing civilian Afghans and killing more than enough NATO military personnel to prove the Taliban a formidable foe?

"They are thousands and thousands and thousands, and they have to be reintegrated", Mr. Karzai stolidly pursues. And his intention as head of government is to offer a power-sharing opportunity with moderate Taliban leaders and fighters, estimating the potential for bringing on side 20,000 to 35,000 fighters. Which would be a great assist, considering the inability of his own military and police to counter Taliban forces.

And since analysis by American intelligence has long since arrived at the conclusion that up to 80% of Taliban insurgents are in the fight simply for the earnings and in response to local grievances, there appears to be some sense in that declaration of intent. Besides which, in a notoriously corrupt government it's well known that Karzai's cabinet contains former warlords with blood on their hands.

And one might suppose it is no small thing that Afghanistan's neighbours, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, China, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have signed a statement in support of "the Afghan national process of reconciliation and reintegration in accordance with the Constitution of Afghanistan in a way that is Afghan-led and driven."

Now that's a mixed rogue-roster for you. In careful language. Duplicitous Pakistan, self-serving Iran; perfidy their favoured instrument of diplomacy. In support of a major initiative funded by Western democracies, no less. India, another near neighbour and helpmeet of Afghanistan appears unsurprisingly absent from that approving list.

But then India is majority-Hindu with minority Sikh and Muslim populations, and a democracy attempting to balance competing religions and traditions. Doing it on her own, confronting her own historical demons and inequities, hoping to stave off what appears to be the inevitability of another military clash with Pakistan.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Failed States Flailing

Yemen, so newly identified as another breeding ground for terrorists, has appealed to Western countries to save it from itself. It needs, it says, funding to allow it to successfully battle the twisted version of Islam that is producing violent jihad. Odd, that, for does not the Arab League have a fund from which it regularly dispenses aid to those of its sister countries that are not endowed with oil, and whose prospects for moderation are impaired? Yemen says it must be able to create jobs to offer to its young men to keep them out of the clutches of al-Qaeda.

And this is the responsibility of democratic Western states. To be sufficiently concerned over the diabolical plans of fundamentalist Islamists to continue attempting the ruination of Western democracies. To surrender without too many questions to the perceived need to help these failed social, political, ideological-damaged nations. Yemen does not have nuclear technology. Pakistan has both nuclear technology and human explosives, a fatal combination. Pakistan too requires vast sums of Western-sourced treasury.

Afghanistan has little-to-no technology, as a fairly indigent country with an impressively sad history of invasion, subjugation and revolt leading to self-rule of a totalitarian variety. It must be 'saved' from its Pashtun tribal Islamist radicals calling themselves the scholars. There is little differentiation in the far-flung rural provinces of that country between the rural and tribal residents and the Taliban, and the Taliban, well-resourced, pays better salaries than the government.

Haiti's social and governmental infrastructure has just collapsed, thanks to the effects of a massive earthquake that levelled homes and government institutions and successfully left the country poorer by some 200,000 people, if not more, according to the Haitian government's rising estimates of the dead. Fully one million - perhaps more - have been seriously wounded, and left homeless.

Haiti is yet another country, one of the poorest in the world, certainly the basket case of the Western Hemisphere, that relies heavily on the goodwill and wherewithal of the West. It too was a victim of colonialism, a particularly cruel kind which, when it was defeated, left the country without institutional infrastructure and an adaptable network of civic institutions, quite unlike the heritage of British colonial rule.

Haiti's Prime Minister has met with the contributing world's premier governmental elites in an effort to map out that ravaged country's current and future needs. A daunting task if ever there was one, since there is little left to build upon, and everything must be started again from square one. The Haitian government insists that it will lead the way, and contributing governments agree, yet the people of Haiti deplore their government and have no confidence whatever in it.

That's the cheerful news for today.

Oh my, did I forget? Yes, I must have. There's Iran, another country that has managed with great efficiency and Islamist-Republic fanfare to fail the needs of its people, in its rabid attention to bestowing upon itself the Pakistani-generated gift of nuclear capability. Of which success a newly-released report leaves no doubt. U.S. Israeli, German and Austrian government intelligence confirms secret tests and hierarchies of power dedicated to nuclear-munitions development. Success: imminent.

This too is the figment of no state's overheated imagination, fearing for its own security and that of its citizens.

What a deplorable state the world has got itself into... Have I forgotten to mention Burma, North Korea, Cuba, Argentina,Zimbabwe, Kenya, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo? And the lumbering elephant in the Globe? Which needs no assistance from any other country to advantage itself other than by the clever manipulation of its own resources?

Will heaven help us all and come to our rescue? Thought not.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Danger To Whose Public?

There's Britain at it again. Simply no end to its liberal-left empathy for the underdog. And the underdog can be represented by a ravening, rabidly-infected hound whose psychosis may have him inflicting death upon unwary, normal others within society. But his rights must, above all, be protected.

Truly, what a society. In concern for the well-being of one individual, a malefactor no less, the safety and security of the majority is placed on tender hold.

Two British pre-teens whose "toxic home life" had outfitted them to assume the mantle of psychopaths pursuing the path of vicious violence - lured two other youngsters to where they could rob, beat and stab the 10 and 9 year-olds, force them to commit sexually degrading acts - were initially charged with attempted murder as a result of the serious injury inflicted on their victims.

A horrified but sympathetic judge has sentenced them to "at least" five years in custody. Of course, children so young cannot be publicly named; they must be shielded and protected.

These young brutes demonstrated not one iota of remorse, one having informed the questioning police that he had been bored, therefore had been inspired to commit those brutal offences. Offensive to people at large, to the judiciary, to the children victimized, but a tedium-relief for the two brothers.

Whoops, here's another one. The Telegraph did an expose on killers and pedophiles and other offenders dangerous to society who had skilfully made use of the Human Rights Act to avoid deportation to their home countries.

The Immigration Minister reported a record 5,400 such foreign criminals had been deported in 2008. Yet other disclosures include the information that the country's Asylum and Immigration Tribunal makes it their business to overturn the Home Office's deportation intentions of foreign criminals, once they have served their sentences.

A paranoid schizophrenic born in Iraq who emigrated to Britain as a youth murdered two doctors, but thanks to the AIT he will not be deported to Iraq once he is released from the secure hospital where he has spent the last 19 years in detention. He killed two National Health Service consultants for good enough reason, for who could not respond to a "command from Allah"?

Now he is set to be freed from incarceration.

However, it is unreasonable to return him to the country of his birth, according to the AIT, for once there, it is not seen to be likely that he would receive the drugs capable of controlling his mental illness.

"If his present treatment ... were to be discontinued, as would most likely be the case if he were to be removed to Iraq, the potential consequences would be extremely serious for (Laith Alani) himself, and potentially life-threatening for innocent third parties around him in the event of his likely, indeed almost inevitable, relapse into a state of paranoid schizophrenia."

There we have it. A compassionate refugee board has the full interests of those whom they represent uppermost in mind. The larger picture, that of a released inmate deciding he no longer requires the medications that kept him under control while in hospital, and thus sending him off on another killing spree, victimizing other Britons seems of little concern.

But deportation would conceivably breach Laith Alani's "right to a private and family life".

The widow of one of the medical doctors Mr. Alani murdered feels otherwise. "I think he should be deported. I argued that at the time of the trial. I think he is going to be a danger to people in Britain. He is a dangerous man."

Oh well. That's her impression, isn't it?

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spiritually Conflicted

Something about collective indoctrination patterning. Something like once you teach young people some fundamental 'realities' they remain stuck in place. The values and traditions of a culture, of a religion, of an entire society. Inbred, taught from youth and practised in adulthood. And then those whose worldview has been strait-jacketed in this manner suddenly find themselves in an entirely other social-cultural environment. Where the norms they've always taken for granted are seen as humanitarily askew.

Most just shrug metaphorical shoulders and get on with their lives, not bothering to shed their now-inappropriate assumptions. Some try to get on with a new mode of life, one more open to suggestions that those assumptions may be inherently wrong and needful of alteration. Particularly in a society that hosts a whole slew of representative traditions, backgrounds, religions, where all are given equal recognition and freedoms of conscience.

A sensitive human being who rises to the challenge of enlightened change may be puzzled at first, then gradually accepting, dropping racial and religious biases along the way to acceptance of humanitarian equality. Or that person may be severely conflicted to the point where original bigoted reactions to other ethnic groups, ideologies or religions still come to the fore.

It might seem that Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary, so recently in the news as having fathered a fatwa against terrorism enacted in North America might be one of the latter. On the way to becoming one the former. Hard to tell, really, particularly from the vexing slander against Christians and Jews that left his lips and found their way onto his Internet site.

We can all of us aspire to be better people than we currently are. Many of us are confused, afflicted with insecurities of one kind or another. Mr. Soharwardy's instinct appears to be to strike out against what he perceives as insults to Islam. Where, in a free and democratic society people are free to state opinions that others may take umbrage with; we tolerate a certain level of criticism.

Imam Soharwardy saw fit to lodge a complaint against journalist Ezra Levant associated with his now-defunct journal having published an offending Danish cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. Stating now that he believed he was defending free free speech and intimidation, later realizing that he was being accused of stifling free speech.

Curiously enough, stating that the reason he launched the suit to begin with was to protect Mr. Levant. "There were people furious in the Muslim community. And God forbid if some person had gotten angry and hurt him. In order to protect him I had to do this thing." Cripes, really? Why not preach in that pulpit how wrong it would be to commit violence in the name of the Prophet?

That odd conception of 'protection' cost Mr. Levant $100,000. "That's a great way to protect me", Mr. Levant said wryly. And he also pointed out that the imam "has trivialized the Holocaust and prophesied the extinction of the Christian faith". And Tarek Fatah has had his say also: "Why isn't he denouncing armed jihad no matter where it takes place?"

Yet it would appear that Imam Soharwardy has attempted in his own awkward fashion to mend fences. By attending Passover seders, having Jews among his acquaintances, and condemning domestic violence, and promoting peace. This might appear to be a well-meaning, but conflicted man whose mind was exposed at an early age to hideous beliefs he is experiencing difficulties in shedding.

"I have always condemned attacks on women, children of any faith, innocent people. I have always condemned suicide bombing and other attacks in the name of jihad or anything else. I unequivocally condemn those actions and see them as un-Islamic and criminal. But I don't want to condemn jihad because this word has been used in the Koran in every place. Jihad means struggle against evil."

Does it? How unequivocal are those condemnations then? Knowing how evil can be facilitated by those who equate it with politics, societies, ideologies and religions they have no use for, that 'struggle against evil' can take some fairly curious side-treks. Imam Soharwardy's statement, however, that "What Osama bin Laden and his friends are doing is not jihad, it's terrorism", is precisely what it is.

It is violent jihad.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Contrasts in Justice

Satha Sarachandran, a Sri-Lankan Canadian convicted in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn of aiding terrorism by procurement of arms, has been sentenced to 26 years in prison. His attorneys informed the court that the 30-year-old who had been arrested while attempting to obtain surface-to-air missiles in Long Island, New York, yearned to live a good life, one his parents would be proud of. His emotions, however, had been caught in the Tamil cause for a homeland of their own.

"During the course of his young life he was simply unable to resolve his emotional response to horrific violence in a more productive positive manner", they wrote in his defence. Conspiring to assist in the violent upheaval of a country for any cause, however seemingly worthy, perhaps has no defence. But, declared Siemon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "Are these not more or less misguided people?"

The plot which Satha Sarachandran undertook to lead had its beginning as talks between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers were collapsing, and Sri Lanka resumed bombing the Tigers stronghold. Such 'rebel' groups (referred to as terrorists in other circles, and outlawed as such within Canada) are anxious to take possession of surface-to-air missiles.

"They're highly sought after. Anybody who attempts to acquire missiles on U.S. soil really runs a risk of being napped in a sting operation", explained Matt Schroeder who manages the arms sales monitoring project at the Federation of American Scientists. Terrorists favour them for targeting commercial airlines if they can, like the Mombasa attack on an Israeli airliner in 2002.

Mr. Sarachandran was a "leader and role model for younger Tamil children", testified his lawyers; he was involved in volunteering at the Tamil Youth Organization in Scarborough, Ontarioand serving as a counsellor. He became distraught after visiting his homeland, witnessing the assaults committed by the Sinhalese-majority government against Tamils. He organized a rally back in Canada to try to move that government to protest.

After the devastating South Asian tsunami, he helped to raise critical funding for humanitarian relief, in his position as national president of the Canadian Tamil Students Association. And then - he involved himself on a mission under the direction of the Tamil Tiger agent who was the mastermind behind the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi - to procure a shopping list of weapons.

The deal that was made with undercover FBI agents was for 10 missile launchers, 20 missiles, 500 AK-47s and the services of a trainer for the princely sum of $937,500 (likely raised within Canada). The arms to be delivered to a rebel ship located in the Indian Ocean. And this was when an undercover officer launched the police action arresting Satha Sarachandran and his team.

Satha Sarachandran has descended from the heights of attainment and a bright future to the depths of criminal arraignment and incarceration for almost as many years as he has lived. His criminal activities designed to aid and assist a terrorist group equally brutal in their disregard for human life as was the Sri Lankan military has resulted in the surrender of his freedom.

This, in stark contrast to the prison sentences handed out to members of the 'Toronto 18' jihadis who plotted to wreak havoc and destroy countless lives in Canada. Where home-grown Islamist jihadists angered by the prosecution of a war across the Globe, determined to demonstrate their bona fides as terrorists by committing their atrocities on Canadian soil.

And for their vicious and determined plots, foiled before they could be triumphantly carried out, they received a relative avuncular slap on the wrist, and are now free to resume their lives as citizens with an unfortunate past, but looking into their new and near future with great hope and anticipation.

Guarantees? There are none.

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Friday, January 22, 2010


Main Entry: per·son
Pronunciation: \ˈpər-sən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French persone, from Latin persona actor's mask, character in a play, person, probably from Etruscan phersu mask, from Greek prosōpa,prosōpon face, mask — more at prosopopoeia plural of
Date: 13th century

1 : human, individual —sometimes used in combination especially by those who prefer to avoid man in compounds applicable to both sexes person> person>
2 : a character or part in or as if in a play : guise
3 a : one of the three modes of being in the Trinitarian Godhead as understood by Christians b : the unitary personality of Christ that unites the divine and human natures
4 a archaic : bodily appearance b : the body of a human being; also : the body and clothing
5 : the personality of a human being : self
6 : one (as a human being, a partnership, or a corporation) that is recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties
7 : reference of a segment of discourse to the speaker, to one spoken to, or to one spoken of as indicated by means of certain pronouns or in many languages by verb inflection

per·son·hood \-ˌhd\ noun

in person : in one's bodily presence

Got it? 'Person' refers to a human being, a living human being, an individual. To suggest, as some have done, that that particular nomenclature be stretched to become more inclusive, to reflect cerebral capabilities of other animals, say for example, primates or dolphins, held to be intelligent creatures and in the case of primates perhaps distant cousins of homo sapiens sapiens, seems rather absurd.

The reason advanced for including animals into the 'personhood' designation is a laudable one: to advance the interests of other creatures of nature; to ensure that they are respected and protected. But it is an exercise in absurd futility; for one thing, human beings don't necessarily extend respect and protection to other humans, all of whom are seen as 'persons'.

The simple fact of necessity as human beings is that we should respect all of nature's creatures. Although we cannot be certain that nature does; she has created us but appears to be rather indifferent to our progress, finding satisfaction in permitting us to do as we will, only occasionally marshalling her neutrality in natural catastophies that diminish our numbers.

We do not really need to attach a symbolic name to other creatures that would place them on an equal moral footing with humans. Which does not preclude a need to respect, care and honour other living creatures. Humans are exceptional creatures of nature and special, if only to our own considerations.

Nature has dominion and absolute power over land and sea and atmospheric environment but humans, that special creative animal, exert their own version of dominion, contesting nature and for this, for good and for ill, we are set apart, uniquely special.

We alone of all nature's creatures, are capable in part of tempering nature, of altering our environment in ways useful and catastrophic, that other creatures cannot.

We emulate and we use nature. An awesome, and often awful achievement. Thus our exceptionality, but not perhaps indicative of entitlement.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Casual Reversal: From Jihadist to Quiescence

Yet another of the original 'Toronto 18', homegrown jihadis is free to do as he will. Free, thank God, he's free at last. Smiling, shaking his lawyer's hand.

The courts, if not the public at large, commiserates with these misguided, unfortunate, confused young men who really, truly, were just having a bit of adolescent fun, didn't really intend to cause any fuss, let alone wreak havoc on governmental institutions and just by the way take their revenge on fellow citizens by abruptly removing them from normal life-support.

"I completely and fully realize what mistakes I have made and it's almost as if I feel stupid that I made those mistakes, but what's done is done", this normal-appearing, intelligent-looking young man stated. How off-handed a statement. Almost as though he feels stupid? Stupid, is it, to plan to murder innocent people? Pretty nonchalant, actually, as though he fully expects to be excused from youthful folly.

All is forgiven. Amin Durrani admits he was a silly boy. Plotting to murder the country's prime minister, once he and his former fellow henchmen actually determined who the prime minister of the day was. This young man was inspired by the thought that he would meet "God in Heaven". Obviously, in accord with his spiritual belief, God would then approve of the reason Mr. Durrani stood before him.

A young man, clearly psychotic, obviously delusional, somehow now realizes that he was not being a good boy at all, not by any standards, and certainly not by the social contract that all Canadians are proud to be represented by in accord with their nation's and society's values. But he no longer holds extremist views, according to his lawyer.

For his descent into "extremism", Mr. Durrani seemed anxious to explain, was merely the result of "curiosity". Curious to know what it felt like to murder someone, not only practise at it, as was done at their various training camps situated conveniently right in Ontario. No need to travel abroad.

The recorded conversation with one of his co-conspirators was illuminating in its simplicity and its intent:
"We're thinking of taking over this country"; "What happens at Parliament?; "We go and kill everybody"; "And then what?" Then what? Why, celebrations! A bona fide terror group! Post the kudos on line, and proudly pose for photographs.

Justice Bruce Durno felt comfortable handing down a 7.5-year sentence, giving more than double credit for time already served, leaving this gentle young man to get on with his life - after serving one additional day in prison - and experience those "big dreams" he anticipates.

Interesting transformation: from plotting to expose his country to nightmares, he now plans big dreams.

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Undue Trust? Gilding the Disaster?

How about that? An apology from the UN's climate change body, the very collectively-responsible environmental group gold-medalled by the United Nations and co-recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, admitting that perhaps there may be some truth to the critics' contentions that some of their findings were overstated, the result of misinformation, and just plain w r o n g.

As though the world isn't in deep enough trouble with the unmistakable signs of Climate Change.

Climate change due to normative, natural cyclical changes in weather patterns having their detrimental effects on the atmosphere and the very geography of the Earth, not necessarily Global Warming, as a result of human-derived activities deleterious to the globe.

There is ample room in all of the environmentalists' and climatologists' speculations and hypothesis to allow for both to be implicated, with an emphasis on natural cycles.

But fudge the "proofs" laid out by the IPCC? Unequivocally state with certain conviction that human activity is solely and despairingly the cause of the catastrophic scenarios that our changing environment is leading us toward, and giving as proof unassailable truths? Well, !oops!

That part of the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relating to the high likelihood of Himalayan glaciers "disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high", appears to have been ill-advised for positive/negative inclusion. The alarmed public was informed that India and China, Nepal and Bhutan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose dependence on meltwater from the Himalaya would face disaster.

Oh dear, it would appear that an Indian glaciologist had mused, simply mused, on the potential for such a scenario in a 1999 interview, that it had no scientific verification in data, observation or fact. Yet, though the IPCC agrees it used imperfect (wrong) data, they are not quite all that contrite, as it happens.

"This conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment", they responded, insisting they stand by their overall conclusion about glacier loss. Yet a glaciologist who contributed to the 2007 report gave his opinion that the glacier error was immense, and he had forewarned his colleagues about its inclusion.

Wait, we're not finished yet. That was just yesterday's unfortunate revelation. There's another, and it's just as impressively inconvenient a truth of lack of vital data-gathering and egregious conclusion-reaching in its own way; perhaps even more so. Two U.S. researchers now conclude that American government scientists have been rather remiss in their professional conduct.

Having skewed global temperature readings simply by choosing to bypass thousands of weather station readings right around the globe, and most especially those located in colder altitudes, and more northerly latitudes. Say, for example, from Canada, where the Canadian government operates 1,400 surface weather stations; over 200 above the Arctic Circle.

Yet in their professional environmental-tally wisdom the scientists chose to use "just one thermometer (for measuring) everything north of latitude 65 degrees". Where in the 1970s some 600 Canadian weather stations were involved in a global data-base courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, today data is collected from a mere 35 Canadian stations.

Of those 35, only one is now used by NOAA as a gauge for all Canadian territory above the Arctic Circle. Joseph D'Aleo, a meteorologist, and E. Michael Smith, a computer programmer, also state that the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies has "cherry picked" Canadian weather stations to be included in their database; selecting those stations sited in southerly locations; the high Arctic now only contributes 3% of the Canadian data.

NOAA, according to the two critics, overlooks temperature data from Bolivia, a high-altitude, landlocked country, assigning temperature values instead based on data from stations located at lower elevations in Peru, or the Amazon basin. Unsurprisingly, the result is a warmer-than-reality global temperature record.

"NOAA ... systematically eliminated 75% of the world's stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations, all of which had a tendency to be cooler", the two authors write in their study published on the website of the Science and Public Policy Institute.

"The thermometers in a sense, marched towards the tropics, the sea, and to airport tarmacs." Ergo, Global Warming.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Marines Have Landed!

Yes, they have. Of course it is not just the Americans who have responded by sending their military to Haiti to restore order and security to enable humanitarian work to proceed without fear of interference and violence foisted on the scene by looting rioters and machete-slashing gangsters escaped from the country's national penitentiary. Canada too is up there with well over a thousand military set to do likewise in the cities south of Port-au-Prince.

But it is always and generally to the United States that the international community looks, for leadership in such catastrophic events. And the U.S. has never yet disappointed in that regard. One does well, however, to overlook catastrophes that strike in the heart of that great country itself, and wonder at the lack of internal response to episodes such as those that struck New Orleans; yet another peculiarity in world affairs.

The United States has come under fire for its take-charge attitude, but there was an imperative that could not be resisted, to restore working order both to the country's destroyed airport and its shipping port along with government institutions. Enraged envoys of other countries and of humanitarian groups blame self-interested decisions by the U.S. in decision making with respect to priorities.

There may indeed have been some glaring instances of unfortunate decision-making, permitting high-placed government entities to fly into the crowded airstrip while delaying or re-routing humanitarian groups like Medecines sans Frontieres to the Dominican Republic, thus delaying emergency responses. Or planes carrying U.S. citizens to safety prioritized over other nationalities.

These inconvenient lapses have provided the hugely obstreperous, high-decibelled Hugh Chavez with the opportunity to denounce American "imperialism". It's more than obvious to Venezuela's leader that the detested Americans stand prepared to "occupy" Haiti while pretending to be taking part in the rescue operations.

"Security goes hand-in-hand with our mission", the commander of U.S. troops in Haiti has stated, and that's fairly obvious. Delivery of food, water and medical aid is the primary purpose of being stationed in Haiti right now, but so too is security, to enable humanitarian aid to reach the intended target.

One Haitian survivor, standing by, alert to the international presence of aid workers is grateful, saying "We know the world wants to help us, but it has been eight days now and I have not seen any food or water for my family". That is an unequivocal failure on the part of the international community, both governmental and NGOs (consider there are claimed to be no fewer than ten thousand humanitarian groups operating in the country at any given time).

Under any other circumstances, the presence of American troops would be seen as anathema to Haiti, which had suffered under American domination after the turn of the Century, after having been a colony of France earlier for a much longer period of time. And because France still has a vestigial interest in its former colony, it has expressed some pique at the U.S. dominating presence.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy stepped in to defuse the blame levelled against the U.S. by France's International Co-operation Minister, diplomatically resolving the tension. So tempers have been frayed by those entering the country for the purpose of alleviating the horrors Haitians are facing, even while Haitians themselves, feeling abandoned, are beginning to raise their own tempers.

The simple fact is, a lack of co-ordination from the international community and the UN is partially at fault. On the other hand, the scope of the disaster is so immense, even they can be forgiven for not knowing quite how or where to begin. A nice start might have been to airdrop needed food and water and medical supplies until such time that a shortage of diesel fuel could solve the trucking problem.

Of course doing that would be to run the risk that those desperately needing the supplies would never see them, if looters and the gangster elements got to them first, or managed to wrest them from desperately needful survivors.

However, the water purification systems are being moved into place. Along with temporary housing, fuel tanks, generators and medicine. The wrecked seaport crane has been made operational once again, to enable the off-loading of supplies being shipped into the country. And the airport's air traffic control tower has been restored to use.

Too much time has elapsed to save the vast numbers of Haitians critically trapped under debris and rubble of the buildings that collapsed around and over them. The surviving injured and traumatized people must be rescued from hunger and disease, and their mortally festering wounds.

And that is the goal that must be reached in the next few days.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Honour! Truth! Faith!

Syrian Mufti: I'd Deny The Prophet Muhammad If He Ordered Me To Kill

Syrian Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun said, during a meeting with a U.S. academic delegation visiting Syria, that if the Prophet Muhammad ordered that people either be killed or deny their Christianity or Judaism, he himself would deny the Prophet.

Hassoun pointed out the historic role that Jews had played in Syria, and said that his even grandfather had had a Jewish business partner.

Source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, January 19, 2010


Aryan or Arab?

Well, in fact, although Persians have their historic and proud place in the history of the Middle East, they do not represent the majority of its residents, who are Arab. But they are Muslim, so that eases the way for the acceptance of their presence. Unlike Jews who are obviously not Muslim, but whose religion paved the way for Islam, inspiring the Prophet Mohammad to produce his very own version of monotheism, meant specifically for nomadic, Bedouin tribes.

Another complication; in a geography where Sunni Islam forms the majority, Iran worships Shia Islam, and the two are famously incompatible, so much so that mass killing between each have gone far to prove how profoundly peace-loving and accepting Arab Muslims are in general. Still, Muslims, whether Shia or Sunni recognize a common enemy in their midst; the State of Israel which, despite its equally-long history in the region, is given no credit for legitimacy.

But the story here and now is the famed solidarity of Muslim society, wherever it exists in the Middle East. Solidarity and brotherhood is difficult to attain to with both Saudi Arabia and Iran currently in the run-offs for recognition of state-leader of the Muslim Arab world and by extension the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia has the upper hand in that Sunni Muslims are the majority overall.

And by the fact that it is the custodian of the most holy sites in Islam; Mecca and Medina. Wahhabist Islam also is as fundamental and sternly autocratic as Iranian-style Shi'ism. But there exists a will to display a common front before the world, in Islamic solidarity. And thus came into being the Islamic Solidarity Games; nothing like a good round of competitive sport to get people involved.

But what? It would appear that the world's second Islamic Solidarity Games has been called off. Not for lack of interest, but for lack of integrity. Iran isn't pulling together when it consistently claims ownership of the Persian Gulf, while the greater Arab community in the geography prefers the nomenclature of Arab Gulf. Moreover, Iran, where the games were to have been held, of its own accord designed logos reflecting the Persian, not Arab persona.

Therefore, the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation took its own hissy fit, representative of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic conference based in Saudi Arabia (aha!). Scrapping the plans for the games to take place in April, in Iran. A wounded Iran, unwilling to accept the waterway as anything but Persian, has encouraged the federation to reconsider its decision.

Saudi Arabia may have Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen behind it, but behold, Iran has its own allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. Classic standoff.

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Denouncing Reconciliation, Reintegration

Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, continues to experience problems with his cabinet choices. The Afghan parliament is concerned that many of President Karzai's choices simply reflect those of the old cabinet, many of whom were corrupt, were tribal chieftains with blood-stained hands, and they expressed their lack of confidence in those choices by refusing them. The second round of candidates did a little better than the initial ones.

And on Monday fourteen members of President Karzai's controversial new cabinet were scheduled to be sworn into office. And it is certainly likely that this ceremonial occasion stimulated the Taliban to prove yet again that they are capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded government institutions at will, enabling them to wreak death and destruction as they will.

And when, on Monday, suicide bombers simultaneously attacked several government ministries they were a stone's throw from the presidential palace. Little wonder that Afghans in general have scant trust in the government's capacity to keep them safe from harm. For four hours Taliban suicide bombers assaulted Kabul's most heavily guarded Pashtunistan Square.

The location, in fact, of heavily guarded government ministries along with the Central Bank and a popular hotel for foreigners with money. A multi-storey shopping centre was set on fire. The attackers succeeded in striking at the justice, finance, mines and education ministries. Afghan commandos, soldiers and police, including special anti-terrorism squads responded quickly.

Three soldiers, two civilians and a child were killed, and 71 people wounded. The seven suicide bombers died; five gunned down during the attacks, the remaining two committing suicide. This was the Taliban leadership's response to the U.S.-sponsored and Afghan-wishful proposals for reconciliation with moderate Taliban, along with the promise to reintegrate them into mainstream society.

"The world community and the international forces are trying to buy the Taliban, and that is why we are showing that we are not for sale", announced a Taliban spokesman. Message received.

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Security Before Aid

Aftershocks still occurring in Haiti, further terrifying the injured, the homeless, the horribly needy, starving, thirsty people of the capital city and environs. Oh yes, and the other cities of Haiti also struck by the devastating effects of the earthquake. Buildings that had been partially destroyed reacted to further shocks by crumbling into dust and rubble.

Survivors desperately seeking safety sleep wherever they can, as far away from further collapses as possible, out in the open.

"Everything in Haiti is broken. there is not one person in the country without a friend or family member dead", grieved the country's Information Minister. The international community's shock and horror was instantly transformed into pledges of immediate assistance for the hundreds of thousands of starving, desperate Haitians, awaiting medical treatment, coping with the stench of decaying bodies and human excrement scattered everywhere.

And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, wringing metaphorical hands, said what all such officials have said since time immemorial: "This is one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades. The damage, destruction, loss of life is just overwhelming", visiting Port-au-Prince. The thing of it is, everyone seems to be 'visiting' Port-au-Prince; the world's news media, government officials, humanitarian groups.

The single landing field with its destroyed air traffic control tower has seen landing preference given to visiting elites, re-directing humanitarian missions like that of Doctors Without Borders' urgently-required medical equipment to land elsewhere, in the Dominican Republic, and from there to make their way overland to Haiti. Elites cannot wait; suffering people must.

Looters have taken to smashing into shops in the downtown area to extract whatever of value they can, while they can. Troops have been dispatched from the United States and from Canada to ensure that order can be reinstated, to enable medical personnel to work in safety, tending to the dire wounds of Haitians, before too many more die from lack of medical attention.

Heavily outnumbered police may feel somewhat inadequate to the task, facing off against machete-wielding looters as gangs battle each other over stolen goods. Just as all government institutions collapsed in the earthquake, so too did the national penitentiary holding thousands of Haiti's most dreaded criminals and thugs, releasing them to their former neighbourhoods, to prey on those unable to defend themselves.

Many of the three thousand escaped prison inmates are now armed with assault rifles and guns which they wrested from prison guards. A rumour has gone the rounds that gangs deliberately set fire to the country's collapsed Justice Ministry to ensure records of their criminal past and their incarceration could not be retrieved.

Amid all the chaos and misery the UN has been able to feed about 40,000 starving Haitians. Leaving millions more desperately awaiting help and sustenance. Trucks carrying food and water stream out to various parts of the city only to be halted by clogged streets full of debris and wrecked vehicles hauling away corpses for disposal.

"The distribution is totally disorganized. They are not identifying the people who need the water. The sick and the old have no chance", critiqued one aid worker. But the aid workers and the medical personnel are doing what they can under horribly distressed conditions. Rescue workers from France, Belgium, Spain, Turkey; medical teams from Israel, The U.S., France.

Haitians take comfort in singing God's praise, in praying to Him most high.

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Autz Sheva; Israel National News - The Plot Sickens

Hizbullah may be Behind Murder of Tehran Physics Professor
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu The Hizbullah-Tehran Bomb Theory

Evidence is mounting that Hizbullah may have been behind last week's assassination of Professor Ali Mohammadi, a physics professor who was murdered in a booby-trapped motorcycle explosion near his home.

Contrary to initial reports, Mohammadi apparently was not a nuclear physicist and had no connection with the development of Iran’s nuclear program, thus ruling out a motive that opposition groups were responsible for killing him.

He also supported Mir Hossein Mousavi in the election against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He reportedly signed a petition on behalf of those who protested what they called the rigged re-election of Ahmadinejad last June.

Within a day of the assassination, Iran accused “Zionists’ and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of being responsible for the murder. The government on Monday warned it will take revenge against the two countries.

An opposition group has claimed that a Hizbullah assassin was photographed at the scene of the bomb explosion and that Iran hired its ally Hizbullah to carry out the murder in order to scare opposition forces.

A blogger associated with the opposition named the possible assassin as Abu Nasser Hossein, identifying him as a prominent Lebanese Hizbullah member who has been in Tehran and who has been involved in suppressing demonstrations. However, the Islamic Republic regime took pains to praise Mohammedi as a supporter and sent hundreds of Revolutionary Guards to his funeral in what appears to be a mask for its having ordered his murder.

The bomb blast, a rarity in Tehran although not uncommon in outlying areas of Iran, was similar to the modus operandi of Hizbullah explosions in Lebanon. Murdering Mohammadi gave the Iranian regime the double-edged excuse of putting fear into the hearts of the opposition while claiming that it needs to control protests in order to prevent further violence by opponents to the regime.

The professor may have been targeted because of his association with SESAME, a Jordanian-based program in which Israeli scientists also participate.

Laura Rozen recently reported on the website, “An academic contact speculates: I know for a fact .... that SESAME is a fertile recruiting ground for all sorts of scientific espionage. If Mohammadi was too cozy with his Israeli colleagues, he may have been taken out by the Iranians themselves (through their Hizbullah allies in Tehran) as an example to other pro-reform academics."

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Government of Canada PA Funding

So much for the legitimacy of world opinion with respect to Fatah-led Palestinian Authority representing a 'moderate' voice of reason in the ongoing, flagging and deliberately impossible-to-negotiate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Janus-faced Mahmoud Abbas' support of terror against Israel, as a 'legitimate' form of 'protest' against their Israeli 'occupiers' is well enough known to those who care to know, and flippantly ignored by those who should care to know.

Here was PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas once again speaking directly to his own, emphasizing that, in fact, there is no ideological difference between his Fatah party and Hamas; the sole distinguishing feature being that "The Palestinian Authority is the legitimate authority and that is the difference", spoken at a Fatah conference. Assuring those at the conference that he personally has no intention of re-starting peace talks unless his very particular conditions are fully met.

Where he also spoke of the official celebration of Dalal Mugrahbi birth anniversary, a woman who orchestrated the 1978 Coastal Road attack which killed 37 Israelis, including ten children. This Palestinian terrorist was fondly honoured with the naming of a Ramallah town square in her memory. A martyr to the cause. Which cause would that conceivably be? Certainly not the solution to the historical, current and ongoing impasse, certainly not the cause of peace, but that of terror.

In Ramallah Canada's President of the Treasury Board met with the PA Minister of Planning and Administrative Development, along with the PA Justice Minister and the PA Attorney General. Mr. Toews' message to the three PA ministers, as described later to reporters, was to advise them officially that Canada had carefully considered its funding options and had come to the conclusion that Canadian tax dollars would be best spent bestowed directly toward a nascent Palestinian state's justice system.

Hitherto, Canada's endowments to the PA have gone into its general administrative fund. Where there was no accountability with respect to where and how that funding was spent. Those who know quite specific details also are informed that some of that Canadian funding goes directly to Hamas, an non-governmental entity which Canada has placed on a terrorist listing and which Canada has no intention of supporting.

Mr. Toews explained that the Government of Canada had refused to have that funding continue to be deposited directly to the PA Treasury. "Canada has made a $300-million commitment over five years to the Palestinian Authority, but we want to put that money only into programs that are consistent with Canadian values. We are going to focus directing our funds on institution-building in the PA, such as building a proper functioning justice system... I told him (the PA minister of Planning and Administration Development) that Canada's paramount concern is the security of Israel."

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) long known to employ Hamas members in various capacities, is expressing high dudgeon over Canada's move to cut funding to the agency's programs in the PA in favour of directing funding to the PA justice system. Under UNRWA, which operates food distribution and other support programs, along with a number of schools throughout Gaza and the West Bank, school curricula has been rife with slanderous inventive against Jews and Israel.

UNRWA is displeased that 11% of its budget, to a total of $10 million on an annual basis, is being re-directed. Canadian officials have responded tactfully that under the current system it has no idea how the funding is being used. This is a conclusion and a an alteration of traditional funding transfers most satisfactory to the Canadians whose taxes are used for these initiatives.

And those same Canadians clearly have good reason to applaud their government's sensitivity to the issues at hand.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Imagine! Blame Apportioned...

An enquiry into the deadly mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base has come to the conclusion - inescapable, given the details readily available through the press immediately post-attack - that heads should roll. But not too far. "As a result of our review, it appeared that there were several officers who did not apply the army's policies to the perpetrator", according to the former army secretary who led the review.

The recommendation is for "an accountability review", specifically relating to those officers in question. And that review could, just could, include disciplinary measures. Perhaps another review will be in order to investigate precisely what disciplinary measures could be undertaken. And once that has been established, another review launched to determine whether the discipline fits the breach.

Fact is, if the officers were properly and professionally engaged they would have exhibited the kind of discipline and attention to duty that should have recognized the potential danger that U.S. army surgeon Nidal Hasan represented to those around him. The symptoms and symbols of his inner conflict were obvious to those who worked most closely with him.

There were credible reports back to superiors by those who were troubled by this man's affiliations and stated sympathies, let alone his outright sermons condemning U.S. actions and supporting violent Islamists. Security agents had filtered information of his contact with A.S.-born radicalized cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi.

All of these prime indicators of trouble ahead were ignored. Was everyone afflicted with the unease of racial profiling, and the condemnation that might be brought down on their heads as a result? Would that be remotely possible, given all the heads-ups, the incontrovertible evidence emanating from the man's own mouth?

Is it simply that these good Americans, in believing that all Americans are just as well-intentioned, they could never possibly harbour malign intent toward their own colleagues, let alone others of the country whose citizenship was shared? Is this largely to be attributed to an inability to believe the worst possible scenario resulting from internal deviance from the accepted norm?

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, in fact, while praising the report, and stating he had ordered immediate steps taken to implement its recommendations, still stated he held no belief that a major threat existed within the military by possible radicals. Amending that by stating "clearly one is too many".

Costly, too, in 13 lives at one go. More to come? Who knows? Lesson learned at the CIA installation in Afghanistan? Will time tell?

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Tallying Lost Lives

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has released its latest figures for civilian deaths incurred throughout 2009. Their conclusion was that the Taliban had killed 1,630 civilians, representing an increase of 40% over the year before. On the other hand, NATO and Afghan troops were responsible for the deaths of 596 civilian Afghans, representing a drop of roughly 30% over 2008. Progress?

New statistics appear to reveal that a hefty majority of Afghans now state a preference for their current government (as corrupt and unpopular as it is) over the potential for a return of the Taliban to rule. The population appears to be more accepting and tolerant of the presence of foreign troops as a recognition of what they are attempting to accomplish. Sometimes.

Most of the civilians killed by the Taliban, it was revealed, died as the result of deliberate executions, suicide bombings and as the result of homemade landmines, the very IEDs that are responsible for the deaths of so many NATO soldiers. While two-thirds of the deaths NATO and Afghan forces are responsible for resulted from warplane and unmanned drone attacks.

On the other end of the mortality scale in Afghanistan the number of NATO soldiers who lost their lives rose dramatically to 530 from 295 in the previous year, resulting from waves of Taliban attacks and the use of more powerful IEDs. Interestingly enough there are odd occurrences where deaths of civilians were due to other causes.

As, for example, the seven people who were struck by Afghan troops firing on them during a violent protest. Rumours (unsubstantiated after thorough investigation and held to be a deliberate provocation by the Taliban) that foreign troops had desecrated a Koran brought out protesters who threw stones at Officers of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security.

One intelligence officer of the NDS has been shot dead by fire that came from among the crowd of raucous protesters in Gamsir district. The crowd was then fired upon in self-defence.

Conflicted? Well, utterly.

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