Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Badge Of Honour

Carla Bruni, wife of the indomitably-frenetic Nicolas Sarkozi, France's President, has been labelled a prostitute. It's hard to believe she minds, considering the source and the occasion. In fact, one supposes that every woman who signed on-line petitions directed toward Iran's court decision to stone a woman to death on charges of conduct unbecoming a Muslim woman, is also a prostitute.

Iranian authorities were quite taken aback at the vehement demands by the international community that such barbaric discipline not be carried out; the medieval act of accusing a woman of adultery, of plotting to have her husband murdered, although a court of law had acquitted her of that charge - leading to her brutish death sentence. She has already suffered lashes and harsh incarceration.

But the death sentence of death by stone of this woman has been suspended. Perhaps only temporarily. Even so, 43-year-old Iranian Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, will die. More likely by hanging. And Iranian justice will be done. In the meantime, savagely attacking high-profile protesters against Iranian-style Islamic justice suits the government very well indeed.

"Bruni, the singer and depraved actress who managed to break the Sarkozy family and marry the French president and who is said to have an affair with a singer, has said in [Sakineh Mohammadi's] defence that the verdict is unfair", upbraided the criticism-sensitive Iranian government-approved press.

"This promiscuous woman of Italian origin, due to her race and actions, is not popular among the French people", the article huffed knowingly. Raising criticism from another Iranian news source: "It is necessary for Iranian media, which claim to adhere to Islamic and Iranian culture, to be polite in their comments even if it is against the enemies."

Iranian culture is not now what it has traditionally been. That heritage culture will be resurrected when eventually, the current theocratic government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is removed. France's first lady indulged in the only action that any responsible human being could do, in responding to a request to add her voice to those who practise evil.

Sharia law demands a cruel justice for those deemed to have transgressed Muslim cultural values and social-religious imperatives. Throwing acid in the face of girls wishing to attend school. Accusing young woman of promiscuity when they've been the victims of rape, and charging them with having encouraged a helpless man to ravage them.

Disobedient wives undergoing the agony of disfigurement as punishment for their unacceptable un-Muslim-like behaviour. Stoning to death a man and a woman charged with adultery. Murdering innocent Western humanitarians who place their safety last in their commitment to bringing aid to desperately poor Muslims.

However, Sharia is the law of the way of Islam, and fundamentalist Muslims bow to that law and embrace their version of the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad. That is their badge of honour.

Labels: , , ,

Islamism Unleashed

"Jihad is as much a primary duty as are daily prayers or fasting. One who avoids it is a sinner. His every claim to being a Muslim is doubtful. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and all his acts of worship are a sham, a worthless, hollow show of deception." Syed Maudoodi
All right, the fact is that Islam is a religion of peace. Period. No need for further discussions. Further discussion will be interpreted as a challenge to the assertion that Islam is a religion of peace. And that comes fraught with the label of Islamophobia. No one wants to be charged with being a fascist, a bigot, a racist, discriminating against a minority and a religion that they little understand but stand ready to accuse of being a crucible spawning gratuitous bloody violence.

And yes, because people who do not pledge themselves to Islam and submit to its dictates are clearly ignorant and intolerant their apprehension of Islam as having been perverted, subverted, mis-interpreted and abused by ferociously psychotic fantasists who believe it to be only a matter of time before the world accepts the domination of Islam are just begging to be slaughtered.

Tens of thousands of jihadist assaults have taken place internationally, in the name of the Prophet Mohammad and Islamic ideology, if not theology. No other religion in the world has mounted fanatical attacks against symbols and peoples and religions other than their own, in a deliberate declaration of war against the 'other'.

Yet those who recognize and identify what is occurring as theology-driven by a religious institution whose heritage is replete with tribalism, wars and assassinations and the ultimate possession of geographic areas far from the source of their own, and decry and deplore the phenomenon are accused of insensitivity. It becomes more than a little tiresome to be labelled racist as a reaction to Islamist jihadism.

The delicacy of feelings of Muslims in response to the fear and loathing expressed by non-Muslims at constant attacks upon Western targets, much less moderate Muslims, is decried as unfair, victimizing all Muslims by association. Is it the West that has victimized moderate Muslims by linking them inextricably, through a shared religion with jihadists, or the vile encouragement of imams to young Muslim men to respect their heritage and engage in jihad as loyal Muslims?

There is a rampant disease infecting young Muslim men, and it is past time that it be recognized by the greater Muslim community. There are far too few courageous Muslims like Tarek Fatah and Salma Siddiqui, prepared to place themselves in the line of retributive ire and physical danger from the Muslim community by speaking out loud and clear in condemnation of violent jihad.

Of the general unwillingness of the broader Muslim community within Canada, in reflection of what pertains elsewhere in the Islamic ummah, of hearing no evil, seeing no evil, speaking no truth. Muslim Canadians who decry the situation they find themselves in as potential suspects of violent jihad, should complain not of unfair victimization, but of their role in assisting violence.

Canadian universities demonstrate amply the inability of Muslim youth to accept Canadian values by integrating into the Canadian community, and not instead seeking confrontation with other elements of Canada's ethnic minorities. Bringing to Canada the lethal mixture of ethnicity and traditional enmities. Justifying slander and aggravated insult and assault against others as a search for justice.

Canadian mosques and Muslim community centres, incarceration institutions and institutes of higher learning have all been compromised by the presence of hard-line, fanatical Islamists whose sermonizing about the necessity of Muslims to dedicate themselves to violent jihad is incumbent upon the faithful Muslim. Only the community of Muslims is capable of closing down these cesspools of unrest and destabilization.

From which, inevitably, come the violent jihadis of tomorrow. And when their plans are detected, and they are apprehended, and the Muslim community fears an 'unfair' backlash of condemnation from the wider community, who is responsible for that, but themselves, unwilling to assert their version of Islam, turning a blind eye to the blight within.

Fundamental Arms Suppliers

Despite Israeli protests, Russia won't halt arms sale to Syria

Haaretz reported on Friday that PM Benjamin Netanyahu had asked Russian PM Vladimir Putin to cancel the sale of long-range surface-to-sea cruise missiles to the Syrian Army.

By Barak Ravid

Despite Israel's objections, Russia will not cancel its sale of advanced missiles to Syria, the Kremlin announced on Sunday.

Haaretz reported on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to cancel the sale of long-range surface-to-sea cruise missiles to the Syrian Army.

"Lately, some Israeli media outlets have been actively disseminating information distorting Russia's position on the implementation of its obligations to Syria, including in the sphere of military and technical cooperation," Prikhodko said. "I would like to stress that the Russian Federation honors all the agreements that were previously signed between Russia and Syria."

The agreement in question is for P-800 Yakhont missiles, a highly accurate Russian weapon with a 300-kilometer range capable of carrying a warhead of up to 200 kilograms.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin AP 30/08/2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

srael is concerned the projectiles could significantly improve the Syrian military's ability to target its naval ships. The Chinese-made C-802 missile Syria currently has is less accurate, has a range of just 102 kilometers and can carry a warhead of no more than 150 kilograms.

Jerusalem also fears the more advanced missiles could fall into the hands of Hezbollah, the Syrian- and Iranian-supported Lebanese militia, which would create a significant threat to naval ships in Israeli ports and the Mediterranean Sea.

Labels: , ,

Fraught Relations

Rumors sully Jewish response to imams’ trip to Auschwitz

Rumors surrounded a trip by a delegation of U.S. Muslim leaders to Auschwitz and Dachau in mid-August, 2010.
Rumors surrounded a trip by a delegation of U.S. Muslim leaders to Auschwitz and Dachau in mid-August, 2010.

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Eight imams bowed in prayer before a sculpture at Dachau vividly representing the Jewish dead of Europe. It's a picture worth a thousand words of reconciliation and understanding.

Yet even before its appearance in the Jewish media -- on the front page of the Forward for a story about American imams visiting two concentration camps in Europe -- it was muddied by internecine Jewish sniping and rumor-driven misapprehensions.

Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, questioned the propriety of a U.S. government official joining the trip, which was sponsored by the New Jersey-based Center for Interreligious Understanding and the German think tank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Defenders of the trip and some liberal pundits all but accused Foxman of anti-Muslim bias, and rumors swirled that the ADL was conspiring with conservatives to discredit moderate Muslims.

The brouhaha -- now more or less resolved -- is a signal of how fraught the tensions over a planned Islamic center near the site of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan have made Jewish-Muslim relations. The uproar also threatened, for a moment, to scuttle the triumph of a statement by the eight American Muslim leaders repudiating Holocaust denial and condemning anti-Semitism.

It all started when Foxman heard about the Aug. 10-12 trip of the imams to Dachau and Auschwitz from Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, and contacted the U.S. government official joining the group to counsel her against participating.

In Foxman’s call to the official -- Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department's envoy on combating and monitoring anti-Semitism, as well as a colleague of Foxman’s from her days at the helm of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs -- Foxman said his “personal, private advice” was that she should deal with government missions only.

“Why is there a need for a State Department official to accompany them?” Foxman said. “There is so much to do in anti-Semitism; she should not take a role on an NGO trip.”

The trip was organized by Rabbi Jack Bemporad, the director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, and Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew and former Reagan administration official who teaches law at Catholic University and organizes interfaith dialogue programs.

Rosenthal rejected Foxman’s counsel.

"If everyone was as lucky as I am to have this job, they would do it their own way," Rosenthal said. "I did it my way."

In the rumor mill, the conversation between Rosenthal and Foxman morphed into speculation that Foxman was pushing an anti-Muslim agenda.

It didn't help that Foxman had grabbed headlines in late July for saying that the Islamic Center planned for the Ground Zero area, which will include a mosque, should be relocated out of sensitivity to the families of 9/11 victims. Though he coupled that call with a condemnation of bigoted attacks on the center's organizers, it was the suggestion to relocate that received attention.

Following his conversation with Rosenthal, rumors circulated alleging that Foxman had said the participating imams were "bad," that he had advised Schudrich to boycott the trip and that he had lobbied the White House to nix Rosenthal's participation. Foxman flatly denied all the allegations.

The media picked up the rumors, which seemed to be reinforced by another rumor: that Steven Emerson, who heads the Investigative Project and is known for warning about the dangers of Islamic extremism, also lobbied against the trip. At Harper's Magazine, Scott Horton suggested on his No Comment blog that Foxman was part of a neoconservative agenda to delegitimize Islam.

"The real question is why would Abe Foxman be so troubled by the prospect of a group of prominent American imams bearing witness to the Holocaust and declaring that Holocaust-deniers violate the Islamic code of ethics?" Horton wrote.

Noting Foxman's opposition to the Islamic center’s location, he wrote, "Does it get in the way of Foxman’s larger current agenda?"

The online magazine Salon and the influential news website Talking Points Memo aired similarly themed pieces.

But closer examination showed the rumors were unfounded.

Schudrich said the ADL had not lobbied him about the trip. Rather he had been alerted by "friends" -- he would not name them -- about past controversial statements by at least one of the imams. Schudrich asked a contact from the ADL to check out the statement, and the ADL reported back that the participant in question had since moderated his views.

Even more bizarre was a rumor that Foxman had objected to associations between some of the imams and the Islamic Society of North America, an umbrella body. Some conservative Jewish groups insist that the Islamic Society has not shed its militant roots from decades ago, but Foxman has vocally defended the society as an appropriate interlocutor.

Meanwhile, the ADL publicly welcomed the trip in a statement.

"We are delighted a group of imams recently visited two camps in which the Nazis implemented their final solution for the extermination of European Jewry," the ADL statement said. "We are hopeful that through this experience the imams can now help educate Muslims in America and abroad about the horrors of the Holocaust, its lessons for today, and the perniciousness of Holocaust denial."

Emerson also was the victim of rumors: He never lobbied against the trip. Rather, he had been asked by one of the groups organizing the trip -- he would not say which one -- to run a background check on three of the participants. Ultimately Emerson noted that the imams' collective statement on the Holocaust was "impressive," although he objected to what he said was a false equation of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

The imams’ statement condemned Holocaust denial and "anti-Semitism in any form," and said American Muslim leaders have a responsibility to fight bigotry.

"With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth," it said.

Yasir Qadhi, a Connecticut-based teacher who leads seminars on Islam across the United States and was on the trip, said he was more determined than ever to work closely with Jewish groups.

"If we're serious about 'never again,' if one group is stigmatized, the others have to stand up for each other," he said. "Groups that are prone to be Islamaphobic also are prone to be anti-Semitic.

The challenge, Qadhi told JTA, is "how do we work together despite our differences because we do have political issues."

This shows why the trip was so important, said Rosenthal, whose father was a Holocaust survivor.

"I knew the experience at Auschwitz and Dachau would be transformative," she said.

Rosenthal said she now considers the controversy as closed, and looks forward to when the imams will appear on Capitol Hill next month to relate their experiences.

Schudrich said it is important to reach out to Muslims like Qadhi, who earned notoriety 10 years ago when he questioned the Holocaust's veracity -- a statement he has recanted and now says he deeply regrets.

"People who said something unacceptable 15 years ago, these are the people who we want to go there," Schudrich said. "They need to see this."

In the meantime, Foxman is preparing to release an ADL report, planned long before the controversy, on what he called "intensified levels" of anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.

Foxman noted ruefully that the same engine of rumor and Internet speculation driving such bigotry had helped smear him a bigot for opposing a trip for imams that he never really opposed.

"How did this become fodder for all kinds of speculation and issues?" he asked. "That's the new world we're in."

Published in JTA, 31 August 2010

Ron Kampeas is JTA's Washington bureau chief.

Labels: , ,

Avid Peace-Enabler

PA Prime Minister's Diplomatic War Against Israel
by Chana Ya'ar PA Diplomatic War Against Israel

As negotiating teams from Israel and the Palestinian Authority prepare to head to Washington for the first direct talks in more than two years, PA officials are quietly working hard to sabotage the effort.

The Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA) watchdog agency discovered this week that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has presented an official plan to wage a diplomatic war against Israel, entitled “Appointment with Freedom.” The plan was published in Arabic by the PLO’s official WAFA news agency. It was approved Monday by the PA cabinet.

A partial translation of the plan shows under the subheading “International Relations Sector” that one of the overall objectives is to “highlight all forms of Israeli violations against the Palestinian people, their land and property in the relevant international forums.”

Another is to work to “support efforts to organize the reception and delegations of international solidarity with the peaceful popular resistance against the settlements and the wall [security fence].” Encouraging foreign Arabs to “visit Palestine,” persuading Arab leaders to “support the plan approved by the Jerusalem Arab summit in Sirte” are also on the list of objectives.

In addition, there are specific tasks meted out to specific ministries as well: For the PA “Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” an assignment to “work to pass a [United Nations] Security Council resolution condemning the settlement [enterprise] and order it to stop.

For the PA “Ministry of State for the Wall,” there is an order to “activate the case of the wall in the [U.N.] General Assembly and the Security Council on the basis of the ICJ advisory opinion on it, and to hold conferences, meetings and seminars to support this issue internationally, and in cooperation with the media.”

Fayyad also urges the PA government to “go to the United Nations to request an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (at The Hague) on the legal status of Palestinian prisoners under international law.”

The diplomatic war plan is an attempt to pre-empt the negotiations between Israel and the PA and influence the outcome before the talks even get off the ground.

Most, if not all of these issues, were listed in the failed U.S. Roadmap peace plan – another exchange in which Israel made numerous concessions to the PA, whose government repeatedly violated the terms of the agreement, IMRA noted. The PA sponsored weekly events in which television programs praised terrorism, public squares were named for murderers of Israeli civilians, and school textbooks continued incitement against the State of Israel.

The points listed in Fayyad’s current “Appointment with Freedom” plan are subject to negotiations between Israel and the PA and are due to come up for discussion in direct talks between the two sides – if not during the first meeting in Washington on Thursday, then in follow-up talks.

Published in Arutz Sheva, 31 August 2010

Labels: , ,

Patience, Have Patience - and Hope

Night is probably the most difficult time. For both the families of the trapped miners, sleeping fitfully, anxiously, in their improvised Camp Hope colony, awaiting the rescue of their loved ones, and the thirty-three trapped miners, trying to sleep in their underground, isolated bunker. The long, lonely hours of haunting memories of just a month earlier when freedom of movement, close intimate contact, the feel of the sun and fresh air were all real and present.

The new reality of being trapped deep underground at 700 metres from the surface of the Earth, surrounded by granite, with the possibility, however remote, of unexpected movement of settling soil and rock further exacerbating a tenuous existence is a difficult one to even imagine. Dire isolation, the very thought of being forcefully removed from all that is familiar and suddenly more dear than ever before, has a soul-debilitating effect. It spells desolation.

Experts in the effects of solitary confinement have a fairly good idea of the prospects of the 33 men's intact psychological survival. Their bodily needs are being serviced to the best of the ability of technical experts who managed to rig a life-line where sustenance can be provided and messages of hope conveyed to ensure physical survival. So near, yet so very impossibly far; theirs the need to sustain hope and anticipate recovery.

Chilean authorities were loathe to tell the trapped miners the entire truth, that their rescue would necessitate careful and time-consuming plans to drill a relief tunnel. Engineers are completing the assemblage of a powerful 40-ton drill capable of boring through the 700 metres of rock and earth. The excavation chute would not be a generous size, just sufficient for the weight-lost miners to squeeze singly through to the surface.

The miners have been informed that there will be a significant period of time to elapse before they can contemplate being rescued. Two months at most, they were told, in the fear that if the real time-frame was revealed it would be too nonsustaining a shock for the men, already suffering the trauma of their rock-bound incarceration, and just recovering from their semi-starvation state.

The men are bitter that their plight is a direct result of the mine company's ignoring of legislated safety features. The mine, having had to shut down previously due to a series of accidents which left 16 miners dead, was re-opened without established safety protocols having been followed. The general feeling being that influence-peddling was involved, where a state official was in collusion with the mine to the detriment of worker safety.

A common enough occurrence not just in Latin America, but just about everywhere that mining takes place, including North America.

Emotions are in full reign, and fears are justifiably expressed, and then repressed as hope re-surfaces. Communication between family and trapped miners helps considerably to instill a further sense of hope for a successful rescue. It is the state of mind of the trapped miners at the time of rescue that is uppermost in thought of the authorities and the mental-health experts.

And eventually, as work progresses and time passes, the men trapped so deep in the bowels of the Earth will have to be informed that their time of rescue is not yet, but imminent, if they only exercise a little more patience; another month, perhaps two, at most. Not the two they were informed to anticipate, to be rescued by September, but December a more likely freedom date.

"There is no technology available that would enable us to perform the rescue in one or two months", Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Goldborne admitted.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Supreme Entrepreneur

He appears to have successfully managed to obliterate his conscience, assuming he was possessed of one initially, to enable himself to become an enabler of gore and war. It took him twenty years to perfect his modus operandi but he excels at the art of provisioning all factions of any world or local conflict with the most up-to-date, technologically advanced armaments available. And he has a powerful nation behind this most orthodox of business ventures.

The United States and Russia, both themselves involved - as are most technologically advanced countries - in selling the latest war gadgetry to a world surfeit with failed governments are slightly at odds. Though they have no compunction themselves to selling arms to governments anxious to use scarce national treasuries for the purchase of jets and missiles - far more preferential than the boring nuisance of providing decent civil infrastructure - they diverge in their opinion of Viktor Bout's activities.

Russia sees little amiss in supplying advanced arms to Middle Eastern countries whose agendas, like that of Syria and Iran, are no mystery to the larger world. And the United States, in its turn, is fairly agile in supplying similar advanced weaponry to other, less-threatening countries within that same geography. Despite which, their values are polarized, as are their world views.

Even while claiming they are against nuclear proliferation, nothing stops the highly profitable proliferation of 'conventional' weaponry.

And here is a Russian ultra-entrepreneur, who like Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is a KGB alumni, happily transacting business deals initially using former Soviet arsenals and aircraft, presenting himself as a "Russian businessman" enjoying the full support of the government of Russia, enabling him to build his own personal empire. Viktor Bout, arms supplier to the world of war, fluent in many languages, a university and military college graduate, is an extraordinary man.

It would take an unusual intelligence, one quite devoid of a conventional conscience to see nothing amiss in supplying sophisticated armaments to the world's most vile hellspots, from Democratic Republic of Congo where he sold arms to all the warring factions, to Afghanistan and Liberia and Hezbollah. Mr. Bout, as a dealer and transporter of weapons and minerals is not troubled by his role in furthering bloody combat in every corner of the Globe.

His transport industry is also available for other purposes, as long as money is to be made in the pursuit of the supply. Flying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades to Angola, supplier of arms to Bosnia, selling assault rifles and surface-to-air missiles throughout the world, while also delivering food for the UN to the world's poor, and UN peacekeepers to Somalia, along with international aid to Sri Lanka. How's that for a mixed bag of tricks?

His scruples? There are none. He is, after all, a creature of his times. A businessman extraordinaire. In a world of transnational conglomerates with obligation only to their bottom line. Even the Pentagon has used his contacts and his immense transport capabilities to ship goods into Iraq. Dictator, rebel, revolutionary, Islamist, who ever can afford to pay the price is who he will service.

And the United States, that paragon of world defence, seeks his head. Which is to say, is attempting to have him put behind bars.

Russia, not so much; he is, after all, one of theirs, and as such legitimately supplying goods where they are seen to be needed.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"It's Quite Scary, Actually"

"Once the radicalization process has begun, individuals start to find diverse ways to develop their extremist beliefs in Canada. They do so through a variety of networks, both real and virtual. These individuals appear to be part of Western society. In fact, they appear so Canadian that they are difficult to detect. such individuals then move on to a series of radical activities, ranging from propaganda and recruiting to terrorist training and participation in extremist operations." Classified 2007 CSIS study
It's dreadful when you're young, male and bored. Looking for some excitement. Those without imagination roll drunks, threaten prostitutes, rob mom-and-pop stores, and get their juvenile kicks that way. It's quite possible they will grow and mature and become solid citizens. Possible, but doubtful, since the allure of that kind of excitement usually leads to eventual arrest, incarceration and further indoctrination into the psycho-anti-social club.

That's the run-of-the-mill kind of 'disaffected youth' that plague society with their 'acting out' performances in the process of graduating to the small-fry criminal underclass. Every society has them, deplores them, has to put up with them. They don't, generally, aspire to mass murder. They don't adhere to any religion, and the ideology they cling to is that of the psychosis of anger against society.

We don't lose much sleep over them. They exist as a underbelly of society, always there, rarely noticed, keeping court appearances, being sentenced, in a round of continual offences that ensure they're circulating at one moment, confined the next. They're bloody pests, sucking the blood out of decent, normal communities.

So let's set them aside for the moment. Or forever, until and unless they repent and no longer reject the norms of society. There's bigger, more dangerous fish to fry in them there waters of Canadian society. Al-Qaeda-inspired excitement, luring restless 'youth' who've slavishly bought into an ancient and dreadful version of Islam. And who aspire to become blessed martyrs slavering after 72 virgins.

In the process toward achieving martyrdom, as honoured shaheeds, they vow to extinguish the lives of as many kuffars as inhumanely possible. And if those 'others' are decent, innocent people among whom they have lived, however restively over the course of their lives as Canadians, so be it. Who cares, since they support wrongs done against Islam.

It's called radicalization, the corrupting of a weak mind toward belief in the holy services due to Allah, who is believed to demand of the faithful that they struggle to become better Muslims and to achieve that status they must devote their miserable lives to the practise and performance of mass slaughter.

Some learn to excel at it, and others do their best.

In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ramadan is celebrated by bombing mosques and marketplaces and army posts and police stations and government offices, spewing sinew, blood and muscle lavishly about the environment - mostly the blood and guts of innocent Muslims; those are the jihadists who learn to excel at it.

Those who do their best usually, after training in terror camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia, or Yemen, return home to Europe, to North America, and connive and practise at terror in remote areas where they also store their weapons of choice until called upon for use.

Canada, with its superlative reputation as a haven for refugees, a refuge for immigrants seeking a better life, has its share of easily-led 'youth'. Disaffected with the society that is most familiar to them because, well, just because.

Because it's not fair, because it's not quite on to send troops to pacify a terror-riven country, because of the injustice of the West's investment in Islamophobia. Islamophobia? The reaction of people (including many Muslims) to the gratuitously vicious bloodshed so generously spilled, calling to mind primal barbarism.

So these are not really 'youths', after all, although they may have begun their descent that way, to eventually become respected members of Canadian society as engineers, doctors, technicians, IP specialists. Hard-working, dependable, respectful of others and dedicated to making a life for themselves within the Canadian framework of freedoms and opportunities.

Viscerally harbouring a deep and abiding loathing for the country in which they live, and to which they appear dedicated, as part of the pluralist, multicultural stew of ethnicity, religion, culture, heritage, and ideology.

"It's quite scary, actually."

What's scarier, is that all these investigations, the evidence, the arrests point to 'alleged' crimes against Canada. Alleged? Bloody hell!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Two-State Solution

Once feasible, presenting as a solution to the admitted problem of sharing a geography between two solitudes, people vastly different from one another in ethnic background, social tradition, heritage, essential values and religion. One group which has returned to its ancestral homeland, to join others of its ethnicity and religion whose continuing domicile there kept the embers of original settlement alive. The other, which assembled gradually over time to the geography from contiguous border-countries eyeing the territory as a potential extension of their own.

The original Palestinians of the Middle East were, in fact, Jews whose long-time credentials as residents of the geography were widely recognized, but which over time and the passage of recent memory have become the interlopers, while the nomenclature of Palestinian has been claimed by Arabs who migrated primarily from Jordan and Egypt, into the territory. Under the British Mandate it was eventually recognized that the land could be divided to embrace singly, the Jews and the Arabs.

That volatile institutional pairing in a land of tribal tempers and violent challenges went awry from its inception. And since that time the irreconcilable positions of the new State of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs who fled the area in the belief they would soon enough return triumphant as true owners of the real estate, has little changed. Other than to become more unstable, restive and resentfully violent with the passing years.

The last of many combined Arab assaults on the Jewish State left Israel in legal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Judea and Samaria, for the Jewish interpretation based on biblical precedents and historical reality. But now contested as a potential new national state for Arab Palestinians. On the surface, that is, while covertly the entire area encompassing also that of the State of Israel is coveted to recapture the idea of a final resolution in a majority-Arab Palestine.

On the basis of that reality, rarely recognized by the international community but openly stated by the Palestinian Authority, even while it remains locked in conflict with Gazan Hamas, the stated ideal of sharing the geography with side-by-side sovereign states is a mirage. One that needn't be so, but is by the very nature of the PA's maneuvering, and intentions. In reflection of the original resistence to and denial of Partition.

What real call for ownership does the PA have on Jerusalem as its capital? Other than Jordan's brief flirtation with administering the Old City, denying Jews the opportunity to encroach upon Arab rule, even to approach the most sacred sites of Judaism? The insistence that the Palestinian Arabs who fled, along with their descendants be absorbed into greater Israel, another demand. And borders to return to the 1967 placement.

Not addressed is the unilateral pull-out of Israeli troops from Gaza and the forced evacuation of eight thousand Israeli settlers who flourished there, making a home for themselves and their children, harnessing opportunity to turn the desert into gardens and fertile fields. When they left, struggling to resist evacuation orders, it took 55,000 IDF personnel strenuously engaged in the trauma of removal to succeed.

Behind they left a good-will thrust of Jewish philanthropy, operating greenhouses capable of producing all the fruits and vegetables needed for a thriving Arab community, with the potential of providing for a highly successful agri-business venture for export. And all of it, funded by Jews, as a gift to the Gazans, was systematically destroyed, looted, and left useless.

In the West Bank, school curricula urgently teaches children from elementary to high school that they must mourn the Nakba, the tragedy that befell Palestinian Arabs with the birth of the State of Israel, that the land belongs to the Palestinians, and that it will be returned by force, and that the Jews remain enemies to be feared, hated and ultimately destroyed.

Is this human material for contiguous borders with two sovereign states living side by side in peace? With rocket attacks continuing to be lobbed by Gazan terrorists into Israel? And the international community exclaiming its dismay when Israel responds in its own defence? Is Israel to hold its collective breath with expectation that the attacks against it will cease once a new Palestinian state is declared?

What, exactly, will change in the mind-set of the Palestinians? Either the violence-fomenting moderate Fatah or the imminent-destruction-promising Hamas. Both armed by Western sources in the belief that an independent Palestinian State will result in a pacified, resigned and civilized intent to accept the reality of the legal presence of the State of Israel.

But which arms added to the arsenal smuggled in continually to augment reserves already in use and preparing for future use, gives Israel much pause to ponder its existential future. Fatah and Hamas on one border, Hezbollah/Syria/Iran on the other. And the balance of the Middle East States looking on impassively.

Labels: , , ,

Conflicted and Pointless

The government of Pakistan intrigued since its break away from India, to plague that country and visit upon it as many violent episodes as it could manage. The incendiary tradition of hatred by Pakistan toward India assured that Pakistan would patiently muster the scarce but required funds to continue committing to their criminal intent of bruising India.

To that end, the recruitment of Islamist terror groups, their training and arming was a high priority.

Even while assuring the Western world from which Pakistan procured its aid in huge financial gifts that it harboured no ill will toward India, it groomed and encouraged Islamist militant groups to attack Kashmir, to enter Indian territory and foment violence and dire destruction.

This is a country that, in the intensity of its hatred, proved itself a malign influence in the geography, far more interested in creating havoc than administering its territory for the future of its people. Neglecting the need to make better lives for the people of Pakistan for the greater allure of visiting misery on the people of India.

Now, even while it continues to support the existence and purpose of the Afghan Taliban - which Pakistan itself encouraged, trained and armed in the original form of mujaheddin resisters to Soviet occupation, then converted to fanatic administrators of Afghanistan to enhance the greater territorial interests of Pakistan - it now finds itself in a struggle with its own home-grown Pakistani Taliban.

So now that nature herself has entered the area of conflict and its network of deceits, a monumental disaster has inundated the country, placing an immense proportion of it under floodwaters that have washed away crops, farmland, towns and villages, peoples' homes and hopes, leaving millions of indigent Pakistanis homeless and desperate for sustenance and medical attention.

Now, of all times, Pakistan has decided to act resolutely to counter and to renounce militant Islamist groups it had itself encouraged and used to its considered advantage in attempts to destroy India's stability. Now, while the government and the international community struggle to provide relief for flood-struck refugees, a clamour arises that Islamist charities must be banned.

Charities considered to be affiliated with violent militant groups nurtured by the Pakistan National Army and the Secret Intelligence Service, and which surreptitiously continue to be defended by them, are now to be denounced. While those charitable arms of the Islamist groups are busy filling in where government infrastructure is absent in delivering aid to the desperate, they are being closed down.

"There is no reason for this action. We are providing meals twice a day to the affected persons..." a spokesman for one such group, ordered to shut down a camp complained. At a time of great national duress when countless numbers of displaced refugees are suffering, needful of food and potable water, medical supplies and encouragement, Pakistan has suddenly found its moral compass.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Found, Not Yet Saved

This is torment. This represents uncertainty balanced against hope at its most elemental level. A group of 33 miners trapped deep below the earth's surface in a gold and copper mine north of Santiago, Chile. Delirious with joy and disbelief that after seventeen days underground after a mining collapse, they had survived, the country celebrates and family members, while yet distraught at the separation from their loved ones, look to the future.

But this mine is very deep underground. The men found to have survived, their partial photos taken by a tiny camera suspended underground, must await rescue. Which is to say a wait-time of impossible duration, given the circumstances. The circumstances being that they are deeply underground, and would far prefer not to be where they are imprisoned by misfortune in the deep embrace of rock and soil. They managed to survive by taking advantage of what little and sparse opportunities were given them to prolong life.

Physically they are in good shape. But the tedious, fearfully long wait for rescue may result in another kind of trauma that may result from emotional stress, and the anguish of their trapped plight, in desolation of spirit. A new shaft must be drilled deep underground. And the shaft will only be built once it is established where the most safe place is to do that, avoiding rock fissures or other potentially destabilizing conditions of the situation that surrounds them.

When drilling is enabled once engineers are satisfied that the rescue mission can proceed, the industrial hydraulic bore must drill a shaft wide enough to extract the miners without causing a further collapse, grinding through 700 metres of earth and rock. The trapped men were able to rig up a lighting system using a truck engine, and to use a bulldozer to construct a water canal. Plastic tubes were sent down a bore hole to provide the men with glucose, hydration gells and liquid nutrients and medications.

Experts write of the mental degradation and emotional balance-affliction suffered by human beings entombed in the earth after an earthquake, depending on how long those people remained in their position before rescue. Three to four months is a long time to miss feeling the sun warm your back, to be prevented from throwing arms around loved ones. The group will be able to encourage one another to persist.

Faith in rescue must be maintained and the courage to face long months of incarceration deep in the belly of the earth. Injuries that may be sustained, illnesses that may occur, emotional disturbances and disagreements between tensely emotional people existing in confined quarters in a severely dysfunctional environment must all be endured.

There is no one who would want to share the privations and the fears and the existential challenges of these thirty-three trapped miners. Long may they persevere, to greet their families when they finally emerge, saved from their very personal tragedy.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mankind's Supremacy Over Nature

China represents a culture whose traditional aesthetic was one of refined delicacy. Traditional poetry, painting, embroidery, stone carving, delicate porcelains and colourful lacquer ware, jade ornaments and jewellery and stone-carved statuary, along with pithy sayings and a tradition of story-telling all representative of fine artistic sensibilities and artisanal capabilities.

The country also built one of the most singular structures other than a geological feature, capable of being seen in outer space, the Great Wall of China. From the delicate refined to the brutalist practical in challenging the primacy of nature, the country turned to taming the third-longest river in the world, the great Yangtze. The world's most gargantuan interference with nature's sublime designs, a particular hubris resulting in the Three Gorges Dam.

Built, most unfortunately, over six active fault lines in the Earth's crust. Representing a stupendous engineering feat, one that multinational engineering companies from Germany and the Scandinavian countries were eager to become involved with, and so was Canada, with its eager bank of consulting engineers. Canada, through CIDA and the Export Development Bank lent a hand by funding a feasibility study.

The official price tag of the enterprise is said to have been $25-billion, but there are rumours that this immense hydroelectric power project ended up costing up to three times that amount. The clever idea that the Yangtze could be harnessed for its hydroelectric potential, and the resulting dam would assist in opening up the interior of the country with greater shipping access to result in economic opportunities never did quite materialize.

But the Chinese government was so besotted with the idea that in building the dam it would enlarge its economic future, it set about expropriating ancestral land from millions of peasants and indigent subsistence farmers, creating a huge demographic of homeless, landless people with the promised compensation never quite materializing. Towns and villages, arable land and ancient archaelogical sites were all inundated in China's surge toward its future.

Mao Zedong never lived to see the Three Gorges dam finished and in service. It was his pet project. The ill people do live long after they have departed. In 2003 Chinese officials claimed that the dam could withstand the worst flood in 10,000 years, were it to occur. And then estimates began to reduce, to 1,000 years until in 2008 it was dropped to a mere 100-year flood.

This year of 2010, the flooding being experienced is severe and engineering experts are concerned.
Cracks in the dam first seen in 1999 are many and growing, some extending from top to bottom of the immense concrete infrastructure. Some hands-width wide, some two metres deep into the dam.

New towns meant to replace the original settlements were constructed on slopes of mountains and geologically unstable areas. Mudslides have already been experienced. Catastrophic landslides could occur causing the riverbank to collapse. Add to that potentially lethal combination that the 24-billion tonnes of untreated human and industrial waste dumped into the Yangtze annually.

China is infamous for the contamination of its rivers with industrial, radioactive and bio-hazardous materials casually let into the waterways wherever industrial plants exist...let alone just plain municipal garbage. It was initially planned that greater seafaring opportunities to accommodate deep-hulled ocean-going vessels would increase trade opportunities, leading to economic development in the landlocked interior. Instead, continual silting has committed the country to expensive and ongoing dredging operations.

Millions of people were displaced by the dam, never compensated, left to fend for themselves, stripped of their worldly possessions. They were given the thrill of their lifetimes, watching as the waters inundated their fields and towns, washing away their homes and whatever possessions they could not carry with them. Fears are that as the dam is overwhelmed by more floodwaters than it can contain, it will collapse.

Fears also that the incredible weight of the overwhelmed dam could precipitate an earthquake with devastating results. Not that China is a stranger to earthquakes. The cost to the people who once lived where the Three Gorges now exists is the world's largest dam, with its spectacular show when the ducts are open, and tourists flocking to see for themselves this modern world wonder of immense-scale engineering.

But the longevity of the dam is an unknown, as is the destabilizing effect of its location (over active fault lines in the Earth's crust), and purpose.

Its promised results have never quite been realized; it hasn't replaced by its output in hydro energy all the coal-fired plants that China planned to decommission. The tonnes of trash that float into the Yangtze river are difficult to contain and they present as a danger of jamming the dam's locks. The incessant need to collect the garbage presents yet another problem yet to be solved.

And while the Three Gorges dam was planned also for the purpose of halting deadly floods in the Yangtze valley, its flood control capacity is far less than anticipated. And Three Gorges power is turning out to be far more expensive than that achieved through high-efficiency gas turbines and co-generation. The clean, inexpensive energy that was originally contemplated with the building of this immense project simply does not appear to be possible.

And in recognition of the seeming failure of the plans that the Three Gorges dam would bring the country quickly into prosperity, government is no longer boasting.

Labels: , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet