Monday, October 31, 2016

It Will Soon All Be Over

"This idea that Trump represents such a threat to western civilization -- it's often predicted about presidents and nothing ever happens -- yet if Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media."
Camille Paglia, author, professor of humanities, University of the Arts, Philadelphia

"Everyone -- everyone -- is knocked down in life."
"And my mother showed me and taught me, what matters is whether you get back up. And those of us who are people of faith know that getting back up is what we are called to do."
"It's unprecedented [revelations by James Comey, director of the FBI] and it is deeply troubling because voters deserve to get full and complete facts."
Hillary Clinton, U.S. presidential candidate, Democrat

"[Clinton] set up this illegal server knowing full well that her actions put our national security at risk."
"We have one ultimate check on Hillary's corruption, and that is the power of voting. Hillary put the office of secretary of state up for sale and, if she ever got the chance, she'd put the Oval Office up for sale too."
Donald J. Trump, U.S. presidential candidate, Republican

Either of these unlikeable, deeply compromised candidates for President of the United States of America would, under any other circumstances, appear some lunatic's idea of a bad, bad joke. It is difficult to believe that American politics have become so degraded and desperately at conflict that candidates of their ilk would represent the best that the United States has to offer at this time. It is a mind-bogglingly frightening reality that either would become president.

The ongoing investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton violated American laws in her casual disregard of classified emails has yet to render a definitive opinion, but the odour that emanates from the issue and Mrs. Clinton's evasive tactics, along with her obvious links while Secretary of State to her husband's Clinton family charity in effect selling to high bidders entree to the inner sanctorums of government is shudderingly reflective of an inappropriate candidate to put it politely.

Why Mr. Comey made his decision when he did, citing 'pertinent' information forthcoming when the newly-revealed emails surfaced on a computer owned by a disreputable, discredited, tawdry sexual molester matching the tarnished record of Mrs. Clinton's husband, both of whom appear as sullied as Donald Trump's own record as a perverse and ugly misogynist denigrating women even while appraising them for their possibilities, is not yet clear. Other than the kind of outraged denunciations he was subject to the first time around when he declared malfeasance but no grounds to prosecute.

The polarized, disgustingly sleazy campaign must present as a delightful diversion to the leaders of China and Russia. Viewing from afar the decibel-level of disbelief and antic manoeuvres and declarations of ultimate grubbiness must surely satisfy schadenfreude at its most appreciative descent into madness. The superiority and righteousness of democracy as the ultimate human-rights defending equalizer of society, stumbling and falling off a humbling cliff.

There will be no dignity in this woman ascending the presidency. And nor would there be any reason to smile should the debased and bizarre Trump trump her for the vote. The world will have cause to tremble and moan when either of the two candidates declares victory; only slightly less so should Hillary Clinton become the first female American president. Stoicism will be required over the succeeding four years and the wish that all that preceded the vote swiftly becomes a forgettable agony of disgrace.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wait! ... There's More To Come!

"The greatest period of anti-Western intellectual development in Salafi-jihadi thought took place in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks."
"Salafi-jihadism is even more sensitive to this stimulus given that it is principally a militaristic ideology."
"Salafists have made jihad into the pinnacle of Islam. They say it’s the highest form of duty and obligation and also that it’s an act of worship, a ritualistic act like praying, fasting, and giving charity. You must engage in jihad. And for the Salafi-Jihadists, jihad is a process of fighting, the very means to give Islam power and legitimacy in the physical realm."
"The third group [of modern-day Salafists] are the Jihadists. They are rejectionist in nature, oppose the domestic structures of the state as well as internationalist structures, and seek a radical and violent millenarian upheaval. This is the smallest group of the three, but it has been dramatically empowered recently, and is attracting some people as a result of its supposed success in carving out a piece of land between Syria and Iraq which it calls the Islamic State (IS), i.e. the Caliphate."
Shiraz Maher, senior research fellow, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King's College, London, author: Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea
 Islamic State conflates itself with piety. It recognizes in itself the purity of Islam dating from its inception. Whatever the Prophet Mohammad did and urged be done on behalf of Islam is what ISIL has committed itself to, in the establishment of its caliphate. While the modern world looks on in horror and disbelief as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant prides itself on the creative ways it undertakes to slaughter its enemies the methods they use are in fact, historical in the nature of Islam and its solutions for dealing with apostates.

Wahhabist Saudi Arabia is also Salafist, albeit portraying itself as a friendly agent to the West which has been responsible for helping it and the other Gulf States garner their fabulous treasury of wealth from the sale of fossil fuels, satisfying the world's unappeasable hunger for energy to enable it to grow economies. While oil greases the machinery that produce a way of life for first-world economies, it has also been responsible for turning an obscure corner of the world into one of fabulous wealth. Enabling the Saudis to dispense part of their wealth in building mosques and madrassas worldwide, to export their Salafist Islamism and send their clerics abroad to proselytize.

Wealth has gifted the Saudis with the wherewithal to practise both types of jihad, by proselyzation and through the support of Islamist jihadists, the evidence of which is seen in its madrassa graduates forming the backbone of jihadi terrorist groups one of which is al-Qaeda which led to the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The Islamic Republic of Iran, through the vision of its first Grand Ayatollah, Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini, did its part in exporting the virtues of the Shiite version of global aggression and the support of terrorist jihadis.

The Islamic State is simply the latest iteration of violent, vicious Islamism to enter the world scene with its adherents all over Europe, North America, Asia and Africa wreaking havoc and instability, preying on peaceful Muslims, on non-Muslims, Crusaders and Jews, on women and children, favouring enslavement and sexual predation in expressions of the 'purity' of Islam's introductory decades from the 7th Century imagination of a Bedouin mountebank.

Shiraz Maher was born a British citizen of Pakistani heritage whose formative years took shape in Saudi Arabia where his accountant father took employment. After 9/11, Islam took on a mystique and attraction for him as it did for many other young Muslims, and he became anti-American in his outlook while becoming more Islamist and becoming a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a Sunni group planning to establish an authentic Islamic state from Morocco to the Philippines. 

He returned to Britain where he attended the University of Leeds. While a graduate student at the University of Cambridge he rose in the ranks of Hizb ut-Tahrir from cell leader to regional director. His belief in its ideology began to falter as he questioned its expressed beliefs and on the day of the London Underground bombings in 2004 he surrendered his membership in the group becoming an opponent of jihad. Now he produces reports on counterterrorism strategy, yet another favourite of the intellectual West as an Islamist insider turned outsider.

His contention is that jihadist authorities resurrected medieval Islamist rules like the punishment of excommunication as a controlling tool and its functionality "to license a fratricidal civil war against the Iraqi Shia community" by al-Qaeda in Iraq. He also believes that the extremism that now motivates Islamists is in the process of evolving, that ISIL's caliphate represents one belief set but there are others prepared to interpret the hadiths left by Mohammad for his faithful.

Quest for purity: a Palestinian woman brandishes the Quran at a rally by Islamic Jihad in Gaza City

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Canadian Identity

"We have a Canadian way of living, the rule of law, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our laws .... My proposal this morning is to preserve our Canadian identity and especially toward those who are building Canada of tomorrow, including new Canadians."
"It is critical that we make sure that new Canadians fully endorse the Canadian principles that are the foundation of our society."
"[This would of necessity include significant alterations in Canada's] integration model [for improved security and to uphold] fundamental principles."
"I believe we are ready in Canada for a robust and mature and serene conversation about our Canadian identity."
Conservative leadership candidate Steven Blaney
Conservative leadership candidate Steven Blaney speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill Monday October 24, 2016 in Ottawa
Conservative leadership candidate Steven Blaney speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill Monday October 24, 2016 in Ottawa     Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press

The former Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness speaks from a platform of familiarity of what he speaks of, informed by his exposure and experience and unafraid to air once again attitudes and inspirations arising from that experience. As such, he will be the second contender for the Conservative leadership, another former Cabinet member of the government led by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to express such opinions, held to be electorally toxic by his critics.

Those Canadians who voted to remove the Conservatives from power point to the former government's resistance to the divisive and abusive customs imported into Canada with a significant number of immigrants and refugees from the world of Islam. These have been new Canadians who bring their cultural-religious negatives with them to a host country offering them a new life and new opportunities and freedoms rather than leave them behind in the fractious countries they chose to leave for future opportunities.

When in fact, the Conservative vote in the last election was of a number similar to what they received for their previous majority government. The contending Liberals who won a majority in the 2015 election that removed the Conservatives from government did so by making a multitude of promises they have yet to fulfill, while many of those promises were directly lifted from the New Democrat playbook, causing NDP voters to switch alliances. It was by draining votes from the NDP that the Liberals achieved their majority.

Their share of the popular vote was not substantially greater than that of the Conservatives. And the great self-congratulatory fuss that new Prime Minister Trudeau made over how he advanced the cause of equality in appointing half his Cabinet positions to women represented an absurd claim of Canada emerging into a new 'feminist' era in view of the fact that Cabinet posts in the previous Conservative-led government were a dozen in number from a smaller elected field, representing important posts, as opposed to Trudeau's fifteen.

The Trudeau government's pledge to withdraw Canadian forces from the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State representing the Conservative government's fairly modest deployment of Canadian military in Iraq, turns out to be a move to leave instructors of the Peshmerga militias in force and to deploy greater numbers of Canadian soldiers on the ground while withdrawing the handful of Canadian warplanes from action, moves that constitute a greater danger to Canadian military personnel than that mandated by the Conservatives.

And at home the oath of citizenship must be respected by all candidates for citizenship expressing their preparedness to fully join Canadian society by revealing their faces while taking the oath. Wearing of a niqab or burqa is a belittling and an entitled, caustic rejection of Canadian values. Placing into law the baring of one's face on that and other serious, legal occasions as in giving testimony in court is simply a needed reminder to all of Canada's open-faced social-political mores of a free society.
Chris Young / Canadian Press
Chris Young / Canadian Press     The Liberals dropped the previous government's Supreme Court Fight over the wearing of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies

That immigrants based on their religious belief and cultural experience feel free to disdain these essentially Canadian values speaks to their lack of commitment to Canada and to gaining citizenship and they should be denied the privilege. Mr. Blaney speaks of increasing funding to Canadian security agencies such as the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, as is required in a global atmosphere of assault with impunity by Islamist jihadists.

Not to be alert to the security challenges facing societies that have weighted their populations with Muslim immigrants is to be in the position of Sweden, France, Germany, Austria, Norway and other European countries who must now allow for the diminishing of their heritage, values and culture lest they give offense to the growing, grumbling clout of Muslim groups demanding greater autonomy and respect for Sharia law over the prevailing indigenous laws and customs.

He has stated that it would be his intention should he be elected Conservative leader and contemplate the future of returning to the status of governing party, to strengthen the citizenship test administered to applicants to ensure they are more adequately tested on written and oral skills in the two official languages along with "their understanding and appreciation of Canada's core principles". Long overdue to see that the oath of citizenship test be modified to reflect the intention of immigrants to abide by Canada's principles.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Haunted Eyes, Hunted Presence

"We raided the house and picked her up. It took us a while to collect all the evidence against her, and the officials involved in helping her and her two sons get Pakistani national identity cards."
"We have the evidence now, and we are going to go for prosecution."
Shahid Ilyas, assistant director, Federal Investigation Authority, Pakistan

"I am committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family."
"We object to this action by the authorities in the strongest possible terms. She has suffered throughout her entire life, and we believe that her arrest is an egregious violation of her human rights."
Steve McCurry, Photographer, National Geographic
Sharbat Gula, aged 12, featured on a 1985 National Geographic cover

Refugees from Afghanistan flooded into Pakistan for years, seeking haven from the wars that threatened the country's civilian population. From the Russian invasion of Afghanistan to the subsequent battles between Afghan Warlords and the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, to the rule of the Taliban and its alliance with al-Qaeda leading to the attack on the New York World Trade Towers and the U.S.-led coalition to invade Afghanistan, drive out the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden, Pakistan has been complicit in training, arming, inciting and shielding the Taliban.

Pakistan has focused for decades on destabilizing Afghanistan; its military and its secret service have harboured Islamists with links to the Taliban, shielding them from detection, just as they shielded bin Laden in Abbottabad, his gated compound in shouting distance of a Pakistan officers' training centre. Pakistan's hatred for India and its fear that India will become influential in Afghanistan has led Pakistan to do all it could to keep Islamists in power there, resulting in Afghans streaming out of the country in search of asylum.

After creating a massive refugee problem, authorities in Pakistan now have the gall to focus on one refugee and her family among others in like situations of living in Pakistan without legal papers, to further terrorize them through petty bureaucratic vengeance for flouting Pakistan's refugee laws. A much older Sharbat Gula than the 12-year-old that had graced the cover of National Geographic was placed under arrest, charged with being in possession of illegal national identity cards.

A year of investigation led to her being detained after her home in the northwestern city of Peshawar was raided. Ms. Gula's illegally obtained identity card had been obtained in 1988. she had retained her Afghan passport, using it to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage in 2014 and was in possession of a computerized Pakistani identity card dated 2014. Unforgivable crimes according to the nation's laws that fostered and harboured Afghanistan's dread Taliban.

Her punishment is dire for an indigent refugee; up to 14 years in prison along with a fine of $3,000 to $5,000 if found guilty. There appears to be a link between a (US)drone strike in Baluchistan killing former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour in May, and the subsequent crackdown on Afghan refugees created by the complicity and aid given the Taliban by Pakistani authorities.

According to a senior researcher and advocate for the Refugee Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, 1.5-million Afghans living in Pakistan are in possession of "proof of registration" cards, protecting them from deportation. On the other hand, an additional million Afghans who are absent the required paperwork have taken to using false identity cards which Pakistan has now committed to focusing on for the purpose of repatriation.

Thousands of national identity cards have been revoked or blocked as a result, labelled as identity cards foreigners have illegally obtained. Now in her 40s, Ms. Gula was one of many caught in the dragnet at her arrest.

In a follow-up on the young Afghan girl living in a refugee camp, possessed with hauntingly beautiful green eyes and a piercing stare published in 1985, Mr. McCurry journeyed again to Afghanistan to find an updated version of the young girl, living in  her ancestral village of Pashtuns. That follow-up article of 2002 described the girl now adult:
"Time and hardship had erased her youth Her skin looks like leather. The geometry of her jaw has softened. The eyes still glare; that has not softened."
She has reason to glare: she and others like her have lived miserably persecuted lives during times of incessant danger and conflict only to find themselves once again persecuted and hunted down by the very state apparatus that had turned them into refugees to begin with.

Sharbat Gula in the women's jail of Peshawar.
Sharbat Gula in the women's jail of Peshawar.  FLIA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Battle-Scarred Threats

"Amongst other things, the force [RCMP] must also determine whether they are radicalized and intent on committing crimes, including terrorist acts."
"It will be important to enlist the assistance of community engagement specialists as soon as possible once law enforcement becomes aware of a returnee." 
"They may have a role to play in conducting the basic assessment of indicators noted above, and certainly would assist the returnee in engaging with supportive community resources, including those who would help steer the individual away from criminal activities associated with terrorism."
"The RCMP should be wary of utilizing information about subject X when it has been provided by a country's law enforcement forces that are known to use torture, unreasonable detention, or lack of due process."
Foreign Fighters: Preventing the Security Threat in Canada and Abroad report
In this 2015 photo, ISIL militants patrol Khazer, Iraq, near Mosul
ISIL website via AP    In this 2015 photo, ISIL militants patrol Khazer, Iraq, near Mosul

Wherever in Europe and North America it is known that their nationals journeyed abroad for the express purpose of joining terrorist jihadi groups to fight on behalf of radical Islam, authorities and security agencies are bracing for a returning influx of their nationals who felt so strongly that they were obligated to present themselves as jihadists and potential martyrs in defending Islam, and in most cases from other Muslims, despite the challenging accusations of 'Islamophobia'.

With Mosul set to fall and with it other centers that had been taken by Islamic State to be incorporated into their caliphate, their shrinking territorial holdings will no doubt persuade foreign fighters that the better part of honour is escape. A new report developed for the RCMP outlining plans to meet the challenge of returning fighters to assess their "future postures" , stresses the need to determine whether they are employed, married, "raising funds linked to a little-known charity", or "proselytizing".

ISIS fighters in Iraq. (AP)
The issue is how to deal with those returning from battlefield experience, fighters who trained as terrorists abroad, those who took part in foreign conflicts. A total estimated foreign fighting force of 30,000 in Syria and Iraq are thought to be based in Mosul and Raqqa, the two regional centres of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. As the region continues to shrink of ISIL's caliphate, Europe in particular is bracing for the return of their nationals who fought abroad.

The federal government in Canada is aware of the presence of roughly 60 returnees to date with an additional 180 active in terrorism still overseas. An exodus of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq is foreseen, an event that of necessity "would pose an immediate security challenge", according to the urgency expressed in the report. One can only ask why it is that when a nation's citizens take leave of the country to take part in what has been affirmed are war crimes and genocide, they are not immediately imprisoned.
A Yazidi woman killed by ISIS.  (Screenshot: YouTube)

They willingly went out of their way to engage in barbarous terrorism well demonstrated in ISIL's propaganda campaign issuing videos to celebrate their penchant for atrocities. They pose a distinct threat to the society they wish to rejoin as though nothing untoward had occurred even while their experiences as terrorists obviously mark them for life. How likely is it that they are set to put all this aside and take on a law-abiding, respectful role in society?

How fitting would it be for a civil society to accept these former terrorists as normal citizens, effectively overlooking their crimes against humanity?

After conflicts in Afghanistan and Bosnia experience has demonstrated the threat inherent in returning combatants who distinguished themselves by involvement in terrorist fundraising, recruitment, radicalization, weapons purchases and distribution and the planning of attacks. Take, for example, the case of Hiva Alizadeh, a Canadian who was known to have been trained in an Afghanistan camp where he swore an "oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda and the Taliban", returned to Ottawa and busied himself recruiting a terrorist cell.

"In the worse-case scenario, one or more of those returnees with terrorist and/or combat experience may target elements of Canadian society. They may use Canada as a base for targeting others, including the United States."
Foreign Fighters: Preventing the Security Threat in Canad and Abroad report

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Russia on the Domination Power Trip

"Armed opposition groups continue to fire mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo."
"But indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties."
UNHRC Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein
Kremlin had called the truce a "manifestation of goodwill" [Khalil Ashawi/Reuters]

This marks a refreshing break by the UN Human Rights Council from its relentless attacks on Israel, as a violator of human rights. But since Saudi Arabia, that outstanding exemplar of human rights defence has now been re-elected to another two years with the Council it will soon enough find ample reason to focus on its debased view of Israel as the source of all evil in the world that the world body condemns unequivocally.

For the time being, however, the Alawite Baathist Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its sturdy defender, Russia's Vladimir Putin, are being singled out for condemnation for their unrelenting efforts to bring additional agony to the 250,000 Sunni Syrian civilians and rebels remaining in the rebel-held portion of Aleppo. While the world looks on with dismay and disgust at the venomously creative atrocities that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria film for their own entertainment and the edification of those who wonder just how degraded human beings can sink to in bloodshed, Syria's military has demonstrated it is more than capable of surpassing ISIL in mounting death counts.

And the Russian military is quite unperturbed at their own role in aiding the Syrian regime to fulfill their obligation to destroy their Sunni Syrian population who have taken up the role of' terrorism' in opposition to the outstandingly excellent governance of the regime. It is difficult for an observer to conclude which is the more dreadful of the two, Damascus or Moscow, in committing themselves to destroying human life for the sin of opposition.

Russia, of course, has a longer reach, and the Kremlin is out to prove to the international community that their absence as a world power was merely a temporary diversion. The Russia that manipulated the USSR is back, with a few changes. Stalin was a brutal murderer but according to Vladimir Putin he had some excellent points to make, primarily that Russia is the pivot around which its neighbours must revolve. It's just that the near-abroad to Greater Russia requires reminders from time to time. Georgia was the first reminder, then came Ukraine. The Baltics? Who knows.

But Moscow's reach goes well beyond its near-abroad, and it shows, as it dispatches an undiplomatic delegation in the form of a naval war convoy to help resolve the stalemate in Aleppo, where the Syrian rebels stubbornly refuse to disperse. And nor are the Sunni Syrians in Aleppo helpful by refusing to stream out en masse when unilateral ceasefires are called, though invited to. Not only, however, is the UN unable to evacuate the wounded and the starving, with the siege temporarily lifted, but neither do the hale exit, since all exit roads are still being shelled.

The 'humanitarian' pause so generously announced by Russia simply signified the ingratitude of Sunni Syrians, signalling to the international community that they are starving but making no move to avail themselves of rescue. The rebel forces will be crushed, make no mistake. Syrian ground forces backed by tanks, artillery and air power are on the move again, pounding the half-dead daylights out of Syrians unfortunate enough to be the wrong sect while on the other half of Aleppo unconcerned Shiites wonder what all the fuss is about as they go about their normal, daily lives.

Either the rebels sacrifice themselves for the sake of the remaining quarter-million Sunnis in Aleppo or what scant portion of the city that is left relatively intact will be utterly pulverized. Health clinics, humanitarian aid shelters and schools are in particular danger of targeted messages that all is not well. Even while this serious business of slaughtering civilians is under way, Moscow has other matters as well on its busy mind; directing the Russian air force and navy around the globe, including the task force headed to the Mediterranean.

Russian warplanes visit NATO airspace in Europe just to make certain no one is falling asleep on the job. And nor is North American air space left unvisited. And then there are the missile tests with hardware that a nuclear warhead can be launched with, targeting distant places. The world is getting a message it cannot ignore. The world power that is Russia has returned to its rightful place in the international order, and there it intends to remain, for who and what is prepared to oppose it?

All of the challenges that Russia under its exceedingly popular strong man, the pride of the Russian people, has extended to friends and foes alike have gone unanswered. There have been rumblings of concern, true, but it seems that no provocation however serious and worrisome, has the capacity to instill enough concern as a matter grave enough to respond to, for Western powers to extend a forceful invitation to Mr. Putin to cease and desist.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Maestro: Lying, Cheating, Chortling

"Landscaping, roofing. walls, painting, leaks, artworks in the -- you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion."
"It's still not what it was."
"We lost a lot of the vegetation that gave Mar-a-Lago its character, [following Hurricane Frances]."
"I wasn’t there for the storm, but I’ve been told by my people there that it re-landscaped the place. There was a little flooding in some of the basements, too."
Donald Trump

"That house [Mar-a-Lago] has never been seriously damaged. I was there for all of them [hurricanes]."
Anthony Senecal, former Trump butler

"[A whopping $17 million in restorative work would have needed] dozens, maybe scores of workers [to accomplish the job]."
"If there were $17 million dollars of damage, we sure as hell [Palm Beach building department] would have known about that."
"I would have known if there was anything in the magnitude of $100,000 [in his capacity of planning administrator at the time]."
Tim Frank
How will Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago withstand Hurricane Matthew’s winds?
The Mar-a-Lago Club occupies 20 acres between the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. The main building, completed in 1927 as a private home, has 3-foot-thick walls and is anchored to the coral reef below it, one of the reasons it has survived a number of hurricanes. Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post

Two weeks after Hurricane Wilma struck the area, 370 guests were welcomed at Mar-a-Lago to celebrate the wedding of Trump's son Donald Jr. The photographs taken by Getty Images show the house, its pools, cabanas and landscaping in excellent condition. This is unquestionably a valuable property, estimated by Forbes to be worth $150 million for its 110,000-square feet of distinguished buildings. Quite the investment, among many the billionaire boasts of.

But Donald Trump schemes constantly on how he can continue to bring in more money to enhance his already stuffed inventory and personal treasury. If there are any loopholes his lawyers and estate managers can explore on his behalf, they are instructed to do just that. And they do. After a series of tropical storms this real estate tycoon and presidential wannabe agreed that he pocketed insurance money meant to repair the property he claimed had been heavily damaged due to the storms.

He called in a $17 million insurance payout in 2005 for hurricane damage. He claims not to have any detailed data on the repairs that were presumably undertaken, but he does recall transferring funds from the insurance payout into his personal accounts. Under the terms of the insurance policy, he claims, "you didn't have to reinvest it". This champion of the ordinary person on the street for whom taxes are a burden he will ameliorate once he takes office in the White House, can do things no one else has the chutzpa to claim credit for.
How will Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago withstand Hurricane Matthew’s winds?
Meghan McCarthy
The Mar-a-Lago Club as seen Thursday Oct. 6, 2016.

Although Trump speaks of extensive damages incurred as a result of the storms, no evidence of any large-scale damage could be found, even through the investigative skills of The Associated Press. The club's members cannot recall damage, and his former butler scoffs at the very idea that there were any. Hurricane Wilma, the final storm of a string to hit, that hurled itself through the area in 2004 and 2005 did, he said flatten trees backing the estate, but only a few loose roof tiles were detached from the house.

And Palm Beach building department records are void of permits for construction following the storm, on any measurable scale that would verify Trump's hazy account. Yet another way in which the intrepid property owner/businessman whose money-making acumen is only partially disputed through bankruptcies resulting in tax write-offs, to demonstrate his penchant for hoodwinking and barging boisterously into serious criminal malfeasance, scorning trust and legitimacy as chump stuff.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Setting The Stage For Peace : Israel/Palestinians

"We consider ourselves part of the family, part of the people of Efrat."
"Seventy percent of our village works in Efrat. They treat us very well and we are very good to them, too."
Ahmad Mousa, 58, contractor from the neighboring Palestinian village of Wadi Al Nis

"This is good [meeting as a group, Palestinians and Israelis]. Our relationship is evolving."
"[Jews in Efrat] should stay on their land. These are their houses. They bought them with their own money. We should have no problem living together — if there is peace."
Noman Othman, 41, construction worker from Wadi Al Nis

"I came for a reason. I came to talk about our relationship, between you [Israelis] and us [Palestinians]."
"[There is a locked gate blocking the entrance to my village, enforced by Israeli security ­forces.] That gate should be removed."
"And that racist sign? That should also be removed. It’s outrageous. [Signs posted across the West Bank warning Israelis it is against the law and 'dangerous to your lives' to enter cities and villages in control of the Palestinian Authority."
"It prevents our Jewish friends from visiting us."
Ali Musa, 49, from the village of Al Khader

"Some people say there will be one state, some say two states. As neighbors, we are already living together."
"[Those who responded to the invitation to come to his home were] true men, courageous men."
"I know there were men I invited and they did not come, because this takes initiative and courage."
"It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority." "Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It’s time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together."
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi

A view of the Israeli settlement of Efrat, a few miles south of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)
There are those among the Israelis and the Palestinians who view one another as potential friends and certainly as neighbours since in effect they are neighbours. The mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, Oded Revivi, who happens also to be a lieutenant colonel in the country's army reserve had, in his capacity as mayor surrounded by Palestinian villages, gone on his own initiative to visit with some of those villages on the occasion of Palestinian holidays. He obviously viewed this as time well spent, getting to know some of his neighbours a little better.

Seeking to return the compliment as it were, he sent out invitations to surrounding villages in an open invitation to Palestinians that they would be welcome at his house to help celebrate the festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, where palm-roofed huts are traditionally built, in memory of the biblical 40 years of desert wandering as Moses led the Jews out of Egypt to a land promised them by God. His invitation had garnered the willing response of several dozen Palestinians.

Who arrived to find themselves in the company of friendly, welcoming but armed settlers, few of whom spoke Arabic though the Palestinians themselves spoke passable to excellent Hebrew. Perhaps not surprising in that these were also Palestinians who familiarized themselves with the language, as labourers in the Jewish enclaves. Employment is sparse in the West Bank and Palestinians are eager to find employment wherever it is offered. There is no general social aura of stigma in taking these jobs.

On the other hand, a senior Palestinian security official said days later that "any Palestinian co-operation with settlers is viewed as violating the law, as he co-operates with the enemy". What that security official is referring to is the generally accepted agreement among the Palestinian Authority's Fatah and Hamas, that friendliness between Jews and Arabs is to be discouraged, as "normalization" in social neighbourliness would lead to Palestinians overlooking the Israeli 'occupation' of land they secured when joint Arab armies failed repeatedly to conquer Israel.

On this first-time occasion when a Jewish West Bank settlement invited neighbouring Palestinians to celebrate a holiday with them, there was a general relaxed atmosphere and some surprising statements were made as those at the celebration shared refreshments. Some of the Palestinian guests among the 30 settlers expressed complaints over their treatment, though none of those present mentioned either Israeli President Netanyahu nor PA President Mahmoud Abbas. In response, some of the settlers spoke of the wave of Palestinian stabbings.

Within the Efrat settlement, over a thousand Palestinians come to work daily at shops, infrastructure maintenance, street sweeping, work on solar panels, on construction of new homes and remodeling of older houses. Work that the Israelis feel they are not suited for, and which the Palestinians are content to accept, to keep working and earning a living for their families at the settlement located a few miles from the Palestinian militant Gush Etzion Junction from which over a dozen Palestinian attacks against Israelis emanated in the past year.

Palestinians from nearby villages visit the home of the mayor of the Jewish settlement of Efrat in the West Bank on Oct. 19. Mayor Oded Revivi invited the Palestinians to his home to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (William Booth/The Washington Post)
To everyone's surprise, after the amicable parting, when the Palestinians returned to their villages and the settlers no doubt congratulated themselves that their representatives out of their population of one thousand had warmly welcomed the several dozen Palestinians who responded to the invitation to take part in the Sukkot celebration, Palestinian Authority security arrested four of the Palestinians who had been present in Efrat for that singular event. One of those arrested was Riad Abu Hamad.

It wasn't his first time to be apprehended by PA security. Earlier in 2016 he had been interviewed on Israeli television to discuss his relationship with West Bank Israeli settlers. That too was considered to be an outrageous insult against Palestinian values that determine "normalization" attempts are viewed as criminal activities harming Palestinian 'resistance' against the 'occupier. Abu Hamad explained to his interlocutors that he had not committed any harm to Palestinian interests.

"I've spoken out against closing [Israeli] factories in the West Bank. We need the work. Where are the Palestinian factories?", he later said to an interviewer with an Israeli news outlet.
Israeli media reported the breaking news that four Palestinian men who had been detained since Thursday by their own government for visiting with their Jewish neighbors over the Sukkot holiday last week were finally set free. 124News
Perhaps the arrest of the four Palestinians represented a reaction by the Palestinian Authority meant to remind all Palestinians that it remains verboten to have any discourse or personal relations with Israelis, all of whom the PA considers enemy occupiers. Occupiers of a land mass that was traditionally heritage land of ancient Israel and which had never been completely vacated by Jews, although an influx of Arabs from Egypt and Trans Jordan had settled there at the turn of the 20th Century.

Partition, offered by the United Nations in 1948, to serve the needs of the two populations after the Second World War, was meant to solve the problem of Jewish-Arab clashes sometimes of a truly violent dimension when many lost their lives to intra-ethnic hatred and competition for land. That offer was gratefully accepted by Jews, and rejected uncategorically by Arabs, co-opting the original Palestinian designation that was Jew-centric for their own, to identify them in the mind of the international community as a deserving indigenous people wronged.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Philippines/United States: No Divorce Just Separation

"I announce my separation from the U.S."
"In this venue, your honors, I announce my separation from the United States, both in military, not maybe social, but economics also."
"America has lost now. I have realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world, China, Philippines and Russia. It is the only way."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (R), as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) looks on, at airport in Beijing, Oct. 18, 2016.
President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (R), as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) looks on, at airport in Beijing, Oct. 18, 2016.
If the new president of the Philippines resembles any other public or political figure there are echoes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in the ensemble that inhabit the psyche of this volatile, outrageous bumpkin who advertises himself as the saviour of his country, prepared to rescue, by whatever means present themselves, the Philippines from its descent into drug-addicted hell. To that end he has encouraged his police as well as anyone else who has a grudge to settle to feel free to destroy the lives of those they accuse of dealing in drugs, or addicted to drugs.

Among the thousands who have thus far lost their lives have been total innocents, people targeted because they had no protection, others because they had made enemies, and still others because they had succumbed to the lure of drugs and struggled to divest themselves of that irresistible urge, but failed. Because a strange type of temporary amnesty was declared tens of thousands of people who feared for their lives at the hands of Philippines security agents or those who have self-deputized, have turned themselves in to authorities as users and dealers.

They will be dealt with at some time in the future, having registered themselves as offenders appealing for mercy. And the Islamist threats that exist in the Philippines will also be dealt with by this pitiless crusader for whom no lives that appear complicit in his version of what constitutes crime are to be spared in the larger purpose of installing peace and security in a country their president has placed on alert; do crime, pay the ultimate price. Capital punishment meted out casually and with, he claims, due cause.

This rather unusual way to order a country and suspend due process in law and crime-solving inevitably produced international criticism, including that from the American administration. Because of the traditionally close social, political and cultural ties between the United States and the Philippines, ties that the U.S. has relied upon in its re-positioning itself as a Pacific nation of influence in the region in opposition to China's more recent badgering of its neighbours in extending Chinese sovereignty in areas other nations considered their own, the position Duterte has expressed has taken the U.S. by surprise.

But this is a volatile, undisciplined, undiplomatic temperament that has a tendency to say strange and disappointingly offensive things that do no credit to the man's supposed intelligence, nor to the future of the country he leads. Without doubt, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be pleased, as well as Vladimir Putin, with the embarrassment that the Philippine president's announcement will have brought to the prestige in the region of the United States. But such blowhards as Duterte are not abashed at what they bring to the fore.

And backtracking on his statement that elicited enthusiastic response from the politicians and business people he had addressed while on a visit to China, certainly failed to cause any embarrassment to him personally, for he has no shame. Duterte invited Barack Obama to "go to hell", while Venezuela's Chavez spoke of the odour of sulphur in the Satanic presence of former U.S. President George W. Bush; it comes with the territory, obviously.

"Symbolically none of this is good for the U.S., but in concrete terms the U.S. has thick skin. If the Duterte government starts to restrict U.S. access to Philippine bases or something like that, then the U.S. will have a problem", advised Malcolm Cook at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
Oops, just kidding, says Duterte back in Davao, mentioning offhandedly the huge demographic of Filipino expatriates residing in the United States.

"When you say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that. Why? It's to the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship". Besides which, Filipinos themselves would most certainly not approve.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Because the logic underlying the arguments is that ... biological sex, gender identity and gender expression vary independently [happens to be] absolutely contradicted by the data. It has become unmoored from the underlying reality [representing] all interpretation."
"Well, if it's all interpretation it's not distinguishable from fashion."
"I started to understand the role that ideology played in these underlying horrors of the 20th century and that put me deep into the study of the psychology of religion and that's really what happened."
"I've had a number of clients who have been bullied into states of mental uncertainty by their politically correct peers."
University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson, psychologist, author, intellectual, iconoclast
Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto professor who refuses to use gender neutral pronouns, participates in a heated discussion with some students at the university's downtown campus.
Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto professor who refuses to use gender neutral pronouns, participates in a heated discussion with some students at the university's downtown campus.  (Eduardo Lima / METRO NEWS)

Professor Peterson has no love of pretension and demandingly entitled social blackmail engaged in by gender-confused, alt-gender and all other individuals who refuse to conform to their biologically determined sex, pouting and blaming general society for their lack of acceptance as "normal but different", a group that includes so many alternates to the binary relationships of nature-conventional male and female, that he has risked his professional standing by taking a deliberate stand to express his denial and frustration with the issues of political correctness in the tender matter of gender.

It is most certainly worth asking the question: when did social sanity fly out the door to become a mass psychosis genuflecting to the petulance and accusations coming out of the alt-gender community? The answer may very well be when society surrendered to guilt over never having in the past, taken the situation seriously and using the issue as a topic for light-hearted incredulity. And, of course, much, much worse in less polite and politic, diplomacy-absent portions of society. When, then, society opened the window to increasingly absurdly dysfunctional socially-gendered demands and took them seriously.

Sex and gender, in fact, are private matters. And as such have no loudly, glaringly visible place in the social arena. In the sense that what happens in the bedrooms of the nation should remain there, discreetly, behind locked doors. As in who, really, cares? Do your own thing. Enjoy it, take pleasure in it, keep it to yourselves, don't flaunt it, because no one is interested. Of course under the new, open and accepting mind-bending social aura, what was once viewed as an absurd circus is now viewed as a respected sideshow, and gay parades are vaunted and lauded as a symbol of society's accepting manner.

Where once people paid admission to enter circus sideshows, they now flock to downtown streets of towns and cities in the Western world to show their grovelling support for the garish display of rude and nasty costuming and behaviour that once was guaranteed to bring embarrassment and shame to the minds and hearts of ordinary people. Ordinary people have now become aficionados of coarse and offensive behaviour in public, chuckling with appreciation at the bizarre and the wretched display of sexual license gone frantically insane.

Professor Peterson alleges none of this; he is an academic, a diplomat though his detractors would deny that, who simply insists on making a distinction between the absurd and the acceptable. Language in particular matters to him very particularly, and when language is contorted unreasonably and made effectively meaningless on the assertively loud whims of a minority he finds it unacceptably offensive. He advocates for simple, intelligent and workable language to defy the chaos of reworking society, subordinating it to a juvenile whim, complicating human inter-communication.

"One of the things I've come to understand is that the central functional axiom of Western civilization is that language ... is the process that keeps chaos and order in balance ... and that when [language is] corrupted, we careen into chaos or pathological order." Not for him the efficacy of appeasing the demands of the LGBTQIA community or communities by surrendering to the dire necessity not to continue hurting their tender feelings by committing to their non-binary gender pronouns. "The people who made these words are possessed by ideology and not to be trusted", he claims.

"We're going to have 31 different classes of pronouns? No, we're not. It's just not possible. People can't do that. Our language doesn't allow for that; we can't remember that; what if we make a mistake?" In New York City, evidently 31 gender identities and expressions have now been formally recognized. From "bi-gendered" to "agender", "gender-gifted" to "genderbender", and how about "genderfluid"? To make light of these demands is to insult those who count upon the goodwill and weak spines of those unwilling to be identified as philosophically Philistine.

"Part of it, apart from the untenability, is that ... you actually don't have the right to demand that of someone. You know that every individual is surrounded by the mass of humanity. And the mass of humanity is to be categorized in the fastest and simplest manner possible because you can't do it any other way. We use 'he' and 'she', and we use 'they' when there's more than one person, and we do that for purposes of simplicity of interaction. And for you to come to say, 'You have to mark me out as singularly special in the manner that I require and you have to remember it, no, it's like, no, you can't ask that of me, because you're actually not singularly special."
Professor Jordan Peterson claims that the University of Toronto is attempting to transform its human resources department into "a politically correct institution."
Michael Peake/Postmedia/File     Professor Jordan Peterson claims that the University of Toronto is attempting to transform its human resources department into "a politically correct institution."

His colleagues at University of Toronto are scandalized. He received two warning letters, one from the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences which Dr. Peterson identifies as "an exemplar of Orwellian doublespeak", reminding him that the university is engaged in protecting the issue of gender neutrality, as gender identity and expression are now protected classes in the human rights code. The arts dean wrote of the university stance on free speech to be defended, and a paragraph later felt the need to impose a limit on free speech emanating from Dr. Peterson.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Enter the Resolute, Powerful New Russia

"The ancient city of Aleppo, a place of millennial civility and beauty, is today a slaughterhouse - a gruesome locus of pain and fear, where the lifeless bodies of small children are trapped under streets of rubble and pregnant women deliberately bombed."
"[The siege and bombardment of Aleppo's rebel-held east are among the] crimes of historic proportions [being committed in Syria]."
"[The Human Rights staff has] documented violations of international humanitarian law by all parties in Aleppo."
"Armed opposition groups continue to fire mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo, but indiscriminate air strikes across the eastern part of the city by government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties."
"These violations constitute war crimes. And if knowingly committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians, they constitute crimes against humanity."
"[The failure of the international community - particularly the UN Security Council - to protect civilians and halt the bloodshed] should haunt every one of us."
UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein
People listen to a speech by UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein at the Human Rights Council in Geneva (21 October 2016)

EPA -- Zeid Raad Al Hussein said the failure to protect civilians in Syria "should haunt everyone of us"
"Crimes of historic proportions" were being perpetrated in eastern Aleppo and elsewhere within the country, an impassioned accusation that an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva heard from its head, Mr. Zeid, causing Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Hussam al-Din Ala, to respond with his own livid and dismissive statement as he insisted that the Syrian government was entirely within its rights under international law to defend itself against terrorism.

A self-exculpatory explanation that obviously failed to impress those present, including the charity Save the Children which issued its own warning, that aid workers and medical professionals stationed in eastern Aleppo engaged in life-saving humanitarian efforts were sending reports of widespread use of cluster bombs, banned under international law. A statement surprising no one who can use their mental faculties to interpret what they see, hear and read.

How refreshing: the Human Rights Council actually exercising its franchise to pinpoint and illuminate with all the horrified dismay it deserves, the medieval criminality of a modern-day, supposedly civil-advanced nation in the Middle East, pitilessly targeting its own civilian population for annihilation with the use of both technologically advanced and internationally forbidden weapons, from chemical attacks to barrel bombs to bunker-busters. Ably assisted by an emerging world power; Russia.

And because of missing security guarantees, and given that humanitarian groups associated with the United Nations have previously suffered the misfortune of coming under fire from Russian and Syrian warplanes and bombs, the UN stated it had no option but to delay plans to proceed with medical evacuations from Aleppo, hoping to take advantage of the second eleven-hour "humanitarian pause" unilaterally declared on generous impulse by Syria and Russia. Who that pause has benefited has been a puzzle, other than to symbolically demonstrate the humanitarianism compelling the two allies.
One of the roads in Bustan al-Qasr that people would have to use to access one of the safe exit points opened for people wishing to leave rebel-held areas of Aleppo (20 October 2016)
Russia has told civilians to leave rebel-held Aleppo through several corridors-- Reuters
Russia plans, it has announced, to suspend air strikes between 08:00 and 19:00 local time on Saturday to enable both civilians and rebels to leave the city through what they describe as safe corridors. Both civilians and rebels can be forgiven for construing that invitation as a possible forfeiture of life and limb, given their experiences to date of Russian humanitarian offers. The result being that, unsurprisingly, very few people have reportedly taken advantage of the offer. As for the rebel factions, their lack of gratitude can be assessed in their assertion that to do so would result in forced displacement and surrender.

Meanwhile, passing through the English Channel in international waters, a Russian naval convoy of war ships from the Norwegian Sea is en route to Syria through the eastern Mediterranean. Among them is the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the only carrier in the Russian navy. The aircraft carrier is capable of carrying over 50 aircraft. Its weapons systems include granit anti-ship cruise missiles, a formidable combination. One can be forgiven for speculating further on the need to dispatch such a convoy, and to that particular geographic point.

Map showing route of Russian task force
According to Friday's Komsomolskaya Pravda: "This is no tourist trip to the Med. It will strengthen Russia's current naval presence off the Syrian coast and provide air cover. The aircraft carrier planes and on-board weapons may also be used for strikes against terrorists." Strikes against terrorists? What terrorists? The besieged Sunni Syrians in Aleppo and elsewhere who have already paid the price of protesting their unequal status in a Shiite-led government that describes its civilian opponents as terrorists?

The venerable British Broadcasting Corporation reads the ominous signs somewhat differently, as a symbolic message to the West, that Russia, powerful Russia, is back in the game, and equal in its resolute military manifestations wherever Mother Russia's interests lie geographically, to any significant presence the West is capable of cobbling together. Russia means business, it is a re-emerging power capable of rising above and beyond the criticism levelled at it by a jealous and paranoid NATO, and the rest of world had better recognize that fact.

Russian aircraft carrier travelling through the Channel

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Who Speaks for Judaism and Christianity?

"Christians in order to understand themselves, cannot fail to refer to their Jewish roots."
Pope Francis

"You [Jews] are our dearly beloved brothers. And, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers."
Pope John Paul II

"To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site [east Jerusalem's Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary]."
"When these divisions carry over into UNESCO, an organization dedicated to dialogue and peace, they prevent us from carrying out our mission."
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova

When Pope Francis's predecessor, Pope Benedict, as an academic quoting an ancient predecessor of his own who expressed his belief that Islam was no religion of peace by restating: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached", he was vilified and threatened by Islamic scholars and clerics.

Yet, throughout the centuries of the youngest monotheistic religion's existence as a latecomer to the so-called Abrahamic tradition, this is precisely what has occurred; Islam demands of its faithful that word of its singular divine exceptionality be spread by jihad; persuasion as long as it worked, and violence when all else fails. And, of course, sheer numbers through 'natural' reproduction of the faithful who are obliged to replicate themselves through childbearing.

Since the 7th Century and the Prophet Mohammad's excursion into divine myth-making and the bonding of war-mongering desert Bedouins to Islam, its conquest has been an ongoing affair. And since Islam recognizes no competition having any legitimacy since Mohammad attested that Allah informed him the previous iterations were but practise runs, Jews and Christians have been held in contempt, tormented and slaughtered by Muslims.

In recent years with the growing popularity of Islamism, an uptick in religious persecution by Muslims of Christians has resulted. And from the leaders among the Christian community the response has been sadly tepid.

Part of that reason is that Europe and North America, largely Christian, and from whom that response might be expected, have experienced a mass migration of Muslims into nations formerly wholly or in large part Christian, and latterly much diluted by the presence of Muslims from the Middle East, from southeast Asia, and from Africa. That growing demographic has become increasingly vocal and demanding and threatening. Governments and religious figures are intimidated, with no wish to excite the beast.

Little wonder then, that when UNESCO, influenced by a declaration brought forward on behalf of the Palestinians by Algeria, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, to declare the most sacred sites in Judaism, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, remnants of the ancient Temples of Solomon, an heritage Arab Muslim site, nations that should surely know their history voted to support the declaration, to their everlasting shame.

And the leaders of the Christian church who must understand that if Judaism and Israel are so viciously  delegitimized by these means of intimidation leading to the revision of historical reality, it also affects the history and legitimization of Christianity. To do nothing, say nothing, remain unmoved and seemingly disinterested, they are lending themselves to the corruption and sham of yet another United Nations arm, left debased and in ruins to satisfy a destructive ideology.

Worse, they are guilty of absenting themselves entirely from the defense of their Christian brethren who flee violence and death at the hands of Islamists who believe as they are instructed, that Jews and Christians are deserving of oppression, contempt and death.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Living in Fearful Suspense

"Every minute passes like a year."
"We have mixed feelings. We are happy that we will eventually be liberated and afraid of what will happen afterward."
Sunni Iraqi resident of Mosul

"The recent airstrikes are really shaking the ground and houses. My wife prays and recites verses from the holy Qur'an when airstrikes start, while children cry."
"We are afraid that one of those airstrikes might hit us."
Sunni Iraqi resident of Mosul

"A lot of people are going to flee."
"A lot of them are extremely fearful of what the battle might bring."
Berkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher, Human Rights Watch
Volunteers of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, some shown here in 2014, are among those moving in to recapture Mosul, but a revenge drive is building for after the Islamic State is driven out. File Photo by Mohammed al Jumaily/UPI

The combined forces converging on Mosul are not all sympathetic to the civilians who have been trapped in the city, the second largest in Iraq, that was captured over two years earlier by the jihadist Islamic caliphate of ISIL. That they are Sunni Iraqis, and that ISIL represents Sunni jihadi terrorists makes them complicit with ISIL's holding of Mosul and other Sunni-majority towns, in the perception of Shiite militias and the Shiite Iraqi military.

That their status is seen as uncertain is understandable, fearing that because they remained in Mosul while ISIL ruled the city that they will be held in contempt and suffer the vengeful consequences of being Sunni in a city liberated from Sunni terrorists by mostly Shiite militias. The Kurdish Peshmerga, sympathetic to Christians, Yazidis, Shiites, are themselves mostly Sunni, but they have been given orders not to enter Mosul, but to remain on its outskirts.

The residents of Mosul know full well what occurred in those Sunni areas earlier liberated by Shiite militias. Ramadi was reduced to rubble when it was retaken from Islamic State, and Fallujah's liberation heralded a paroxysm of of human rights violations where hundreds of men escaping the city confines were detained, tortured, or simply 'disappeared'. So the immediate concern of the residents of Mosul is their safety while their city is being aerially bombarded.

When, as is inevitable, the 30,000 combined forces opposing the occupation of Mosul by ISIL, manage to rout the jihadis from the tunnels, alleyways, booby-trapped buildings and infiltration of civilian enclaves, there will rise up the second phase of concern, equally fearful to the first; that they will be held responsible for whatever ISIL accomplished in its bloody campaign, and pay for their Sunni connection with their lives.

The coalition, attempting to forestall a mass exodus of Mosul residents, difficult to control and to accommodate, has dropped leaflets instructing people to remain where they are, and inside their homes. At the very same time, human rights groups witness to this particular historical battle in a landscape fraught with horrendous potential, are concerned that despite instructions, many residents will flee Mosul to areas yet held by ISIL, fearing much worse treatment at the hands of those who 'liberate' them.

As the operation to retake Mosul continues, Iraqis fleeing ISIS-controlled areas of the city arrived Tuesday at the nearby town of al-Qayyarah, secured by the Iraqi army.   Anadolu Agency/Getty Images 

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