Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Catalonians Yearning To Be In Charge

"The financial crisis [of 2008] made Catalans angry, that as a rich area they were suffering because they had no control over the economic levers."
"[Many moderate Catalan nationalist were pushed toward independence when 13,000 businesses in Catalonia succumbed in 2009]."
Andrew Dowling, specialist in Catalan history, Cardiff University, Wales

"I don't know -- the Catalan government says they are in charge, but the Spanish government says they are."
"So I have no idea, really. What I really think is that nobody is in charge right now."
Cristina Guillen, Girona, Spain
Estelada is the one-starred Catalan flag used to represent an independent Catalan republic [Yves Herman/Reuters]
Estelada is the one-starred Catalan flag used to represent an independent Catalan republic [Yves Herman/Reuters]

There is some justification for how Ms. Guillen and others like her feel; mystified and disoriented. Catalonia's former president and most of his ruling council are now in Belgium, they've walked away from the central Spanish government's decision to charge them with rebellion, sedition and embezzlement. Carles Puigdemont, dismissed by the government in Madrid after the Catalan regional parliament voted to declare independence on Friday, has hastened to assure his people that the issue is not resolved; Catalonia will reach its goal of independence.

Even while Spain's chief prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza is preparing to see the Supreme Court enact preventive measures to ensure the Catalan parliament's governing body will be unable to resume its tack for independence. Their arrest and detention before trial has been somewhat complicated, however, by their sudden absence from Spain and surprising appearance in Belgium where Carles Puigdemont, his second-in-parliament Oriol Junqueras and parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell have sojourned to Brussels.

Barcelona's residents may be undergoing second thoughts, but not so the regions of Catalonia where people there of Catalan descent bask in the impression that they already inhabit an independent republic of Catalonia. Separation from Spain cannot come soon enough. "I've never felt Spanish in my life", graphic designer Anna Faure declared in Girona, celebrating its patron saint's annual festival. The northeastern region with its 7.5 million population feel that language, history and cultural traditions separate it from Spain.

Moroccan Rif activists carry a Catalan independence flag during a demonstration outside the Catalan Government building, the Palau de la Generalitat on October 28, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. The Spanish government stripped Catalonia of its autonomy after the Catalan parliament voted yesterday to declare independence.
Jack Taylor | Getty Images   Moroccan Rif activists carry a Catalan independence flag during a demonstration outside the Catalan Government building, the Palau de la Generalitat on October 28, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. The Spanish government stripped Catalonia of its autonomy after the Catalan parliament voted Friday to declare independence.

"We [Catalans] wouldn't have arrived at this point if they [Madrid] had treated us well for many years", stated Judit Alguero, reflecting a popular emotion among Catalans that Madrid authorities have neglected and as well, expressed hostility to Catalan aspirations. When Francisco Franco ruled Spain in the years 1939 to 1975, he banned official use of the Catalan language and imprisoned and executed opposition politicians and activists during his dictatorship's repressive era.

On his death, Spain veered toward democracy granting Catalonia a measure of autonomy with its own police force, a regional government and control of education where public schools were once again permitted to teach primarily in Catalan, and national symbols could finally be seen in the public arena. In recent years, the global economic crisis and a steadily emerging hostility between Barcelona and Madrid left Catalans nursing a grievance and thinking in terms of separatism.

In 2006, an autonomy agreement was reached whereby Catalonia was granted the status of a nation within Spain, with its own tax-raising powers -- later to be struck down by Spain's constitutional court in 2010, and protests of unfairness and anger were triggered. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, unemployment rose and the country saw itself in financial crisis, even while Catalonia was one of the country's wealthiest regions and aggrieved that it receives little recognition, despite paying more than its share into Spain's general fund.

In 2014 a pro-independence coalition was elected to the Catalan parliament, promising to plan for secession. Still, only 43 percent of the electorate turned out for the October 1 referendum seeking a mandate to separate. Simply put, pro-union voters decided not to vote when Madrid sent in its police with orders to shutter polling stations, clashing with Catalan police who supported the referendum. The Spanish police did the pro-union cause no favours when they violently executed their orders to prevent the vote from proceeding.

On the other hand, there are ample pro-union Catalans who regard themselves as a silent majority, where supporters of independence are anything but silent.

infographic catalonia facts

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pollution and Life Expectancy

"Going into this, my colleagues and I knew that pollution killed a lot of people. But we certainly did not have any idea of the total magnitude of the problem."
"Until now, people haven't recognized what an incredible hit pollution makes on the economy of a country."
"Pollution control can stimulate the economy because it reduces death and disease."
Philip Landrigan, dean of global health, Icahn School of Medicine, New York

"When you're looking at developing countries, you really have to address this challenge if you want to move people out of poverty and into the middle class."
"Climate change is going to exacerbate the very problems that are identified in this article. There will be more contagious and infectious diseases. There will be more lives lost, more injuries, if we don't identify a path that gets us out of the hole that we're in."
"What people don't realize is the instability that results from poverty, the instability that results from migration as a result of climate change."
"Even if they're off [researchers] by a factor of ten, you're still talking about huge, huge impacts. But they're not off by a factor of ten."
Gina McCarthy, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator
A smoggy view of a main road in Delhi the morning after Diwali celebrations in 2016
Smog enveloped Delhi after Diwali in 2016 -- Getty Images

A report appeared several weeks ago in the British medical journal the Lancet which focused on the massive human toll of pollution. And nor did the researchers ignore the financial burden that pollution-related health problems cause. One of the world's most polluted cities, New Delhi, had its air quality index reach 1,031 several weeks back, where a reading of over 300 is considered to be hazardous to human health. There were overtures by government several weeks back to attempt convincing people in India not to set off the usual fireworks to celebrate the Hindu festival Diwali.

But people are so fixated on celebrating in traditional ways that it was simply inconceivable to them that they were being advised to abstain from setting off fireworks, even though the Indian Supreme Court brought in legislation to make it illegal, they simply ignored the warnings. The heavy smog that so alarmed government officials was laced to an even greater degree by the resulting pollution, injurious to peoples' health, the very same people who insisted they must observe their favourite traditions.
During the Hindu festival of Diwali fumes from millions of fireworks create a dense layer of pollution over the Indian capital.
During the Hindu festival of Diwali fumes from millions of fireworks create a dense layer of pollution over the Indian capital.  CNN
Global pollution, according to the new study resulting from a two-year research project, concluded that an estimated 9 million premature deaths could be attributed to the scourge of pollution, in 2015. One in six of all premature deaths, result from global pollution, according to this newly-published in-depth study undertaken by an international group of researchers. Pollution, then, destroys the lives of more people than all war and violence in the world, each year. Three times more people die as a result of global pollution than lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

China, known for its devastatingly poor air quality, thanks to the ever-present coal-fired chimneys blasting away in all its major, hyper-populated cities is a case in point, where heavy, grey smog thick with particulate matter threatens the health of its citizens. India is right behind China in the quality of the air its people breathe. The irony is that received wisdom has it that emerging economies are expected to go through these growing pains, paying more attention to cheap energy for manufacturing than to the quality of life for their populations; once they have achieved economic status, attention will turn to ameliorating the pollution.

So it is that most of these massive death counts attributable to overwhelming levels of pollution occur in developing nations; compromised air quality in China and India and tainted water throughout sub-Saharan Africa, along with toxic mining and smelter operations in South America, all taking their inevitable toll while governments focus on building their economies toward wealth, while sacrificing their populations to early decline and death.

Data was assembled from researchers in over 130 countries throughout this two-year project, to document causes of disease and premature deaths in the 21st Century, to discover that poor air quality represented the most significant pollution-related culprit in reaping huge death counts in vulnerable populations. Outdoor pollution tainted by mercury, arsenic and allied particulate matter, and household air polluted through the burning of wood, dung and other organic matter for cooking and for heat, are also included in the death toll.

Researchers compiled alarming figures such as an estimated 6.5 million 2015 deaths attributable to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and allied respiratory ailments. Unsafe sanitation and contaminated drinking water accounted for another 1.8 million annual deaths reflecting the prevalence of gastrointestinal diseases and other such infections from water pollution. The world's most vulnerable indigent workforce suffered from work-related exposure resulting in bladder cancer in dye workers, and pneumoconiosis in coal miners.

Occupational vulnerabilities to carcinogens and toxins were linked to almost a million annual deaths.

An estimated 2.5 million and 1.8 million deaths respectively were tracked to pollution occurring in India and China, representing roughly 24 and 19 percent of global pollution deaths. Other countries accordingly affected include Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kenya. And it is not just the cost in human lives, point out the authors of this latest study. They make the claim that some $4.6-trillion in annual losses are linked to the early deaths and illnesses.

Pollution levels regularly exceed recommended safe levels in the Indian capital.
Pollution levels regularly exceed recommended safe levels in the Indian capital -- CNN

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Religions of Peace at War

"We thank the Lord Buddha for this [the growing absence of Rohingya in Rakhine state]."
"They stole our land, our food and our water. We will never accept them [Myanmar Rohingya] back."
Thu Min Gala, 57, Abbot, Damarama Monastery, Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar

There is no case of the [Burmese] military killing Muslin civilians."
"Muslim people killed their own Muslim people."
Dr. Win Myat Aye, Myanmar social welfare minister, National League for Democracy
Myanmar's tourism in crisis amid Rohingya suffering
A crying Rohingya girl fleeing ongoing violence

Muslim Burmese, the Rohingya, have lived for generations in Burma, now called Myanmar. It is likely that they arrived in the country from neighbouring Bangladesh at some time in the past. But for most Rohingya, Rakhine province in Myanmar has been their home for as long as they can recall. Their presence has been barely tolerated; hostility from their Buddhist neighbours, from the general population which is majority Buddhist has meant that the Rohingya have lived as a persecuted minority. When the military took power in 1962 their citizenship was revoked, leaving them stateless.

Militant insurgent groups from within the Rohingya population reacted to their state of persecuted statelessness by attacking a number of military bases, where the Rohingya guerrillas killed Burmese soldiers and some civilians; a well co-ordinated attack against their persecutors whose satisfaction was short-lived when the government ordered the military to cleanse Rohingya villages of the militias. Of course everyone who lived in the villages was identified with the militias.

The Burmese military along with mobs of civilians backed by security forces entered Rohingya villages, setting them on fire. Children were injured, women raped and 'insurgents' killed when ethnic Rakhine Buddhists marched into the villages holding sharpened bamboos and machetes, soldiers escorting them. The outcome of which was the villagers fleeing in panic for their lives, children in tow, marching for miles to eventually reach the border with Bangladesh and ending up in sprawling refugee camps.

The Buddhist abbot, relieved at the absence of the Rohingya Muslims who had no business being in Myanmar, deplored that they were overwhelming the local Buddhist population. Over 600,000 Rakhine Muslim Rohingya have now made their way across the river separating the two countries since last August, driven by fear and persecution. The campaign of killing, rape and arson led by the Myanmar army has been very efficient in achieving its goal of persuasion.

In Myanmar there is general agreement expressed by government officials, religious leaders and local human-rights activists that the Rohingya do not and have never belonged in Myanmar. The government of Myanmar has blocked access to Rohingya by aid agencies in Myanmar, an estimated 120,000 of whom remain in camps in central Rakhine with tens of thousands more Rohingya living in the north of the country.

Speaking a Bengali dialect, physically distinct from other ethnic groups in Myanmar, tensions between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingya were amplified during the Second World War when the Rakhine sided with Japan and the Rohingya with Britain. Referred to as Bengalis to denote their Bangladeshi heritage, the public at large uses a more derogatory word to describe all Muslims living in Myanmar, who represent about 4 percent of the population.

Community leaders throughout the state of Rakhine have warned the population not to break the blockade for aid to the Rohingya. In one township women activists went out of their way to actively prevent aid groups delivering assistance to an internment camp. A Rakhine trishaw driver took it upon himself to deliver food to a Rohingya camp, to earn badly needed money. The driver's wife was forced by a crowd into a monastery where she was beaten, her hair cropped, then forced to wear a sign stating she was a "national traitor".

As for her husband, he was unrepentant, despite the punishment meted out to his wife. "They are human. They need to eat, just like us", he said. And Burmese authorities finally seem to agree; they are permitting the UN Food Agency to resume delivering aid to the Rohingya.

Ye Aung Thu, AFP file picture | Soldiers and rescue workers unload food aid from a military airplane in Sittwe airport in Myanmar's Rakhine state

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 27, 2017

Another Faux Palestinian Reunification; Prelude to a Re-Sundering

"Over is the time Hamas spent discussing recognizing Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel."
"[Hamas would be prepared to disarm, as Israel demands, only] when Satan enters paradise."
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas leader

"I condemn the latest statements made by some Hamas leaders calling for the destruction of the State of Israel." 
"They do not serve the interest of peace and the goal of achieving a negotiated two-state solution."
Nicholas Mladenov, UN special co-ordinator, Middle East peace process
Palestinians wave Fatah and Hamas flags after the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza [AFP]

An underwhelming condemnation, to be certain, though entirely in keeping with the usual United Nations' responses to such unequivocal statements of intent to the sacred duty inherent in the Palestinian mind that Israel must be destroyed before Palestinians can content themselves with having succeeded in restoring the honour of Arabs, besmirched by the catastrophe represented by the establishment of a Jewish State.

A Jewish State, moreover, that no right-thinking Palestinian would dream of acknowledging as having the right to exist. The Middle East geography is dedicated to Islam, consecrated to Islam, and as such the existence of a non-Muslim state, particularly one where Judaism is the state religion and Jews the political and social force, represents a a sacrilegious infraction intolerable to Palestinians as it is to the other actors on the stage of the Middle East.

But the European Union, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian leadership are all congratulating one another and in particular Egypt for brokering yet another political 'reconciliation' between the PLO's Fatah whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, whose new leader, Yahya Sinwar, have accommodated themselves to. Hamas, because it is desperate for scarce funding, and Fatah because it is desperate to regain control of Gaza.

A control wrested violently from it by Hamas in 2007, effectively separating the West Bank and Gaza politically and socially, and in the process gaining Hamas a territory from which it has been able to launch attacks against Israel and its population. Both Fatah and Hamas are committed to the destruction of Israel, Hamas outright declaring its intention, and Fatah presenting a facade to the international community of willingness to accept Israel's presence.

But not as a Jewish State. Israel, which has accepted one and a half million Palestinian Arabs as full citizens living within the state, demonstrates its inclusiveness and commitment to plurality, but at the same time, emphasizes that it is a state dedicated to a homeland for the world's Jews. While no Jew would be permitted to live among Arab Palestinians as a matter of course; their presence formally rejected, their lives forfeit should they stray into Palestinian territory.

Both the West Bank and Gaza represent tyrannies with strict order prevailing, and dissent 'discouraged'. But that the two, Hamas and Fatah, have agreed once again to set aside their bitter enmity, and to work together; Fatah agreeing to administer the affairs of Gaza once again, and Hamas agreeing to exist under Fatah, but without relinquishing their vast arsenal of arms, nor their reality as a terrorist militia, still elicits approval from the United Nations as a forward step in approaching a 'peace agreement' with Israel.

The wild absurdity of two political entities dedicated to the destruction of Israel, yet regarded as potential instruments of peace and stability represents an imaginary construct that could only be celebrated by the United Nations, a living mirage of purported human rights support and peace initiatives. Seconded by the European Union which appears to see no evil in Hamas having taken billions in international aid meant for the support of Palestinian Gazans, pre-empted for the building of complex tunnels reaching under Gaza into Israel for obvious war-mongering purposes.

That the PLO charter and the Hamas covenant unambiguously state that the destruction of the State of Israel is a primary goal to be achieved is conveniently overlooked by both the UN and the EU, just as the refusal of each, Fatah and Hamas, to recognize the legitimacy of the existence of Israel is not seen as the rejection it represents of the presence of the Jewish State, effectively ruling out any potential peace agreement, seems to elude the attention of the UN and the EU.
"This whole issue of dissolving the administrative committee has no value. Even if it is dissolved, there must be another kind of committee that can run the daily and civil lives of people in the Gaza Strip."
"When Hamas said it will dissolve the administrative committee, it threw the ball into the Palestinian Authority's yard, in the sense that they have acquiesced to their demands, so now what will the PA do for Hamas? It's a tit for tat, a barter."

Abdulsattar Qassem, political science professor, an-Najah University, Nablus
A Palestinian man and children walk past graffiti reading "division" in Arabic, in Gaza City, in 2017 [AFP]

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

CIA Mission Afghanistan: "Hunt and Kill"

"We can't perform our mission if we're not aggressive."
"This is unforgiving, relentless. You pick the word. Every minute, we have to be focused on crushing our enemies."
"President [Trump] has made it very clear. We are going to do everything we can … to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Afghanistan with the Taliban having zero hope that they can win this thing on the battlefield."
"I think, history would indicate that high expectations for the Pakistanis’ willingness to help us in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, should be set at a very low level."
"Our intelligence would indicate the same, that is, I think, we should have a very real conversation with them about what it is that they are doing and what it is that they could do and about the American expectations for how they would behave."
Mike Pompeo, director, CIA

"The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms."
"Retribution will be fast and powerful."
U.S. President Donald Trump

"The American people don't mind if there are CIA teams waging a covert war there."
"They mind if there's 50,000 U.S. troops there."
Ken Stiles, former agency counterterrorism officer

"The expansion reflects the CIA’s assertive role under its new director, Mike Pompeo, to combat insurgents around the world."
"The agency is already poised to broaden its program of covert drone strikes into Afghanistan; it had largely been centered on the tribal regions of Pakistan, with occasional strikes in Syria and Yemen."
The New York Times
Alleged fighters for the Islamic State and Taliban
The plan is set to send small teams of elite experienced officers with the CIA and their contractors to work alongside Afghan forces in a new strategy geared to meet the challenge of guerrilla-type asymmetrical warfare. In essence, to beat the jihadi Islamist groups at their own game. Covert operations meant to echo the very same types of strategy used by the Taliban, by al-Qaeda, by Islamic State in Afghanistan. To meet their attacks which have been so successful in scoring mass casualties with those of the CIA with its more technologically advanced equipment augmented by the experience of special forces.

The hunt and kill strategy to destroy the Taliban, to offset their successes in exploding massive truck bombs even in supposedly secure areas of the country, targeting Afghan police and military along with government agencies; their success a hugely demoralizing series of events. Evidently the corruption permeating Afghan society, government, police and military is viewed as an insignificant detail. As is the penchant for Afghan members of the military to simply abandon their posts, including those given special military training by U.S. military experts.

While the CIA has been active in Afghanistan, its activity has been largely focused on al-Qaeda, while also training Afghan intelligence. Conventionally CIA officials have been content to leave large-scale counterinsurgency measures to the U.S. military in recognition of its vastly greater resources and manpower. But under its new director, evidently prepared to go all out with the CIA under his watch, a new direction has been launched.

The need to battle insurgents worldwide has mitigated toward a new, assertive role for the CIA. Drone strikes are on the cusp of being broadened; moving from the tribal regions of Pakistan toward Afghanistan itself. The Taliban are being placed on notice; not only will their elite commanders be in CIA crosshairs, but the rank and file as well. And with the CIA in its newly expanded role its missions will not be reported on widely to the public.

Formerly, U.S. Special Operations troops had their work cut out in the hunt for Taliban bomb producers. More currently, alongside Afghan commando forces the situation is re-focused on territory occupied by the Taliban and Islamic State where the teams reflecting CIA personnel concentrate on hunting down threats and retaking territory. These teams will be referred to as counterterrorism pursuit teams, managed by CIA paramilitary personnel from the Special Activities Division and operatives from the National Directorate of Security representing the intelligence arm of Afghanistan.

Elite U.S. troops from the Joint Special Operations Command will be included, but the major forces will be reflected by members of the Afghan militia, trained for years by the CIA's paramilitary officers. Indigenous militias have been used by the CIA in the development of informant networks for the collection of intelligence. Afghan militias will be working together with conventional troops to call in air strikes and medical evacuations under the Pentagon's Omega program where Special Ops forces are cross-transferred to the CIA.

The irony of course is the Americans' technological advantage in weaponry and surveillance, up against the simplicity-produced bombs representing a persistent blight upon American and allied forces in Afghanistan where the Taliban and the Haqqani network produce roadside bombs (IEDs), as a weapon of choice; inexpensive, rough and effective in killing military personnel with little cost in life to the insurgents. IEDs are simple, direct and lethal.

Whereas the new CIA operation is complex, wieldy and prone to desertion by Afghan (Pashtun tribals) allies who don't appear as dedicated to defending their own territory from the (Pashtun tribals) Taliban as the U.S. and allied forces are, on their behalf.

The CIA, keen to ‘hunt' and kill Taleban, is reported to be about to start flying armed drones, such as MQ‐9 Reapers, for the first time in Afghanistan. Credit: US Air National Guard photo/Senior Airman Michael Quiboloy 2014.
The CIA, keen to ‘hunt' and kill Taleban, is reported to be about to start flying armed drones, such as MQ‐9 Reapers, for the first time in Afghanistan. Credit: US Air National Guard photo/Senior Airman Michael Quiboloy 2014.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Global C02 Emissions

"[Dried, rotting forests, responsible for the] largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration seen in at least 2,000 years."
"[Under current forecasts] the role of the tropical land as a buffer for fossil fuel emissions may be reduced in the future."
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, October statement

"[Each region; Africa, South America, Indonesia, represents a] different problem."
"This huge increase in atmospheric C02 growth rate happened when [human-generated] emissions were basically flat for three years."
Scott Denning, OCO-2 science team member
An infographic depicting the unusually high levels of carbon dioxide release from three tropical continents during 2015 El Niño. | NASA/JPL/Caltech

An example of a classic 'feedback loop' identified by atmospheric scientists can be seen in the Arctic where as its ice caps melt, the methane they isolate becomes released into the atmosphere, with the result that the greenhouse gases circling the globe are boosted enormously. The ice that had held ancient methane captured in its secure embrace, releases it as it gradually melts, adding greatly to the harmful presence of deadly gases warming the atmosphere.

Now a new source of atmospheric carbon dioxide has been identified through the recording of a new NASA earth satellite called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2). The areas of the world that have been instrumental in raising carbon atmospheric levels have been made more vulnerable to their release, thanks to the prevalence of El Nino and its warming, drying properties. Formerly verdant, wet areas of Africa, South America and Indonesia are now dry and rotted forests.

An additional 2.5 billion tonnes of additional emissions of carbon have resulted from the state of the formerly lush forests, now releasing the carbon they were formerly harbouring. The sum total of the carbon emissions have been seen as equal with the annual human-caused emissions coming out of India, and roughly 3-1/2 times larger than total emissions for 2015 in Canada: 722,000,000 tonnes.

A sum total that ranks third behind the emissions of China and the United States. The satellite, launched in 2015, provides day-to-day observations locating where precisely carbon is being emitted from, and where, in contrast, carbon is being absorbed. Three areas were recognized as causing an emission spike of great proportions; the Amazon rainforest, Indonesian forests and tropical East Africa which includes parts of South Sudan and Ethiopia.
nasa Whats Behind The Global CO2 Spike? NASA Says Blame El Nino
The last El Nino in 2015-16 impacted the amount of carbon dioxide that Earth’s tropical regions released into the atmosphere, leading to Earth’s recent record spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The effects of the El Nino were different in each region. (Photo credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Plants in forests that are abnormally stressed by prevailing heat fail to consume the C02 they would normally absorb. So much for the Amazon, while in Africa, though it was wet, it was also unusually heated, affecting plant matter to rot at a greater rate, while Indonesian forest were consumed by fire and exuding carbon. An especially difficult El Nino resulted in a period of global warm weather, causing these atmospheric and forest-related conditions.

NASA has recognized a curbing effect of carbon emissions caused by human activity. And at the same time, while human-caused emissions have been reduced, natural causes of rising carbon emissions have risen enormously, thanks in large part to El Nino and its devastating effect on the flora in these critical parts of the world's forests. Troublingly, many climate models forecast longer and fiercer El Nino events for the future.

In the best of all possible natural scenarios, roughly half of every tonne of carbon released by the burning of fossil fuels becomes neutralized through absorption in forests or in the ocean; the remaining half circulating in the atmosphere. With the discovery of these recent events, it may just be a harbinger of reliance on forests to continue to absorb critical amounts of C02 may fail to meet expectations.

This picture taken from a Kamov helicopter operated by Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency shows fires burning at a concession area in Pelalawan, Riau province on September 17, 2015. | Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 16, 2017

Iran's Freedom to Pursue Nuclear Ambitions

"Given these problems, it's actually difficult to argue with a straight face that the deal improves our national security. That's before we even contemplate Iran's ongoing harassment of our military personnel or their support for international instability in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, let alone Tehran's longstanding and expanding patronage of terrorism and violent extremism."
"After the deal is decertified, Congress and the Trump administration can bring Iran back to the negotiating table to regain some of the leverage President Obama carelessly flushed away. Without leaving the deal, we can seek concessions from Iran that should have been in there from the start. We can establish some red lines on Iran's behavior, and put in place plans to actually enforce them. The Revolutionary Guard Corps sanctions are a great first step."

At best, the JCPOA pauses Iran's development of nuclear weapons temporarily.

"Next, we'll have to deal with support for Hezbollah, Iran's most violent and powerful proxy. Beyond that, the United States must work with our allies to contain Iran's regional influence, sharing intelligence, enhancing cooperation and even arming nations, such as our Sunni Arab allies, that share our interest in keeping Tehran in check."
Gregg Roman, director, Middle East Forum
"The president of the United States has many powers. Not this one."
"The deal has prevented and continues to prevent and will continue to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."
Federica Mogherini, foreign policy chief, European Union

"[The White House and Congress should] consider the implications to the security of the United States and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine [the Iran agreement]."
Joint statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Theresa May, President Emmanuel Macron

"Keeping faith to an agreement is absolutely fundamental in international diplomacy. And this is exactly what the president is putting into question."
"[Not backing the agreement] would have a disastrous consequence with regard to the Middle East."
"Perhaps a nuclear race would be ignited. It would drive a real wedge into international relations between the U.S. and Europe. And it would make North Korea even more complicated because the credibility of the United States would suffer."
Norbert Rottgen, chairman, foreign affairs committee, German parliament
Iranian worshippers shout anti-U.S. slogans at weekly Friday prayers in Tehran on Friday, October 13, 2017, AFP

U.S. President Barack Obama led negotiations that ended up giving the Iranian Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Presidential Guard chiefs the fig leaf of legitimacy in their claims they had no interest whatever in developing a nuclear program aimed at achieving atomic weapons. Enabling them through the agreement to continue their furtive underground experiments and their collaboration with North Korean scientists in both nuclear research and ballistic missiles was a disaster to begin with.

The first impact of the agreement was the release of hundreds of millions in oil money held back from Iran through the sanctions program to free up the Islamic Republic of Iran's straitened financial circumstances resulting from the success of the sanctions imposed upon it as penalty for its illegal building of nuclear sites and the ongoing research directly aimed at achieving nuclear success in its ongoing search for Middle East dominance. Its financial base restored, Iran lost no time in re-funding its favoured Hezbollah and Houthi militias in Lebanon and Yemen.

It returned to its support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's butchery against Syrian civilians and resumed its bellicose threats of annihilation against Israel while consolidating its hold on Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen to form the solid base of Shiite power it has been  working toward so strenuously. The fiction that Iran is disinterested in nuclear weapons and wants only to produce domestic nuclear power and radio-isotopes for medical use belies the nature of a regime  whose passion is sectarian dominating power.
During the rally, held after the Friday prayers, the protesters chanted slogans such as “Death to Israel” and “Death to the US” and “Death to Britain.” Press TV/Iran
European leaders stress that in their opinion President Donald Trump backing away from the Iran nuclear deal would serve to distance the Western alliance, harming efforts to addressing potential dangers from Tehran and North Korea; they plan to carry on in support of the agreement, and state that Trump's authority does not permit him to shelve the deal that a UN resolution placed into international law. After all, when the agreement was signed all the signatories were immensely pleased with themselves; group portraits were of smug, satisfied faces.

Despite knowing that Iran had no intention of other than appearing to honour the agreement. As they had done with previous agreements, which even Iranian President Rouhani, present at those previous agreements in a leading capacity then as now, later bragged that Iran had pulled the wool over the international communities' eyes. Signing the current agreement did not leave a chastened Iran, uneasy over its support for terrorism, and its responsibility for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. It left a triumphant Iran, satisfied it could continue to re-embark on its trajectory of nuclear  attainment.

Iranian MPs took selfies of E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini after the swearing-in of Iran's president in Tehran on Saturday. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Federica Mogherini in her guise as an influential EU official became a personal advocate for Iran and was not the least bit abashed to do so, appearing in the Iranian parliament to profess her trust in its leaders and their intentions. Choosing to ingratiate herself with Iranian lawmakers and conveniently overlooking the regime's constant existential threats against a member of the United Nations, and its role in funding terrorism, persecuting its own political dissidents, its wholesale and gruesome capital punishment and its threat to Middle East stability.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Swift Plunge Into Uncertainty of Armageddon

"The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the 'trigger' for taking the toughest countermeasure."
Kim Kwang Hak, researcher, Institute for American Studies, North Korean Foreign Ministry

"Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops."
"The President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically."
"He is not seeking to go to war."
Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State

"Our president has been really clear, he's not going to permit this regime and Kim Jong Un to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon."
"He's going to do anything necessary to prevent that from happening."
"What Kim Jong Un should recognize is that if he thinks the development of this nuclear capability is keeping him safer, it's actually the opposite."
"Our military leaders are refining, improving plans every day."
"We hope we don’t have to use them, but we are ready. All of our officers are at a high, high state of readiness."
"The real danger is in terms of communicating with Kim Jong Un is that he doesn’t understand how serious we are about his behaviour and the behaviour of the regime."
"The president has been very clear on that. North Korea will be shocked by how serious we are."
General H.R. McMaster, U.S. Secretary of Defense
North Korea calls Trump a 'strangler of peace'
North Korea calls Trump a 'strangler of peace'    CNN

When the world watched horrified, in real-time television news coverage of the multiple al-Qaeda-launched mass-atrocity-by-passenger plane attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, images of incipient Apocalypse were not far from everyone's mind. Fear, uncertainty and apprehension of the future enveloped the minds of those who witnessed what might seem in saner times to be the impossible. Our minds have since settled down.

The images and the hopelessness of the situation as it unfolded made for bleak, dark theatre, only we knew this was not theatre, but quite possibly a damning rehearsal for events of greater magnitude at some time in the future. Yes, there were horrors that occurred long before, when Ottoman Turkey unleashed their genocidal assaults on Turkish Armenians, accusing them of treachery in supporting Russia during World War I.

There was the countless millions dying during the Communist Revolution, the mass starvation in Ukraine during the Holdomor, the incalculable death toll with the partition of India and Pakistan, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and more, there was always more: Rwanda and Darfur's anguish in Sudan, and then along came the Syrian regime's war on its Sunni Syrian citizens. The Holocaust years that were meant to eradicate the presence of Jewish life in Europe was an elaborate Nazi administrative priority.

And when the United States' President Truman decided the ultimate persuasion to prod Imperial Japan to sue for peace, the world watched in fascinated disbelief as two atomic bombs were dropped, one each on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The plight of civilians melted into nothingness where they stood a moment earlier, the fallout of the radiation imperilling countless lives, the sheer destructive force of a nuclear impact taught us all that this truly was the last spike in the railway taking us to self-destruction.

No nation valuing the 'deterrent effect' of its arsenal of nuclear weapons would ever use them as anything other than for their mutual assured destruction value of brute suasion. That's what we thought because our minds could not bring us around to believing that anyone in any position of national authority with the responsibility to make such decisions would ever deem it needful to authorize the use of such a massive death-deliverance.

And because we could not recognize the potential in the unthinkable we tucked what we preferred not to ruminate on away in the dark  recesses of our minds -- all of us, from ordinary citizens, to authority figures and scientists and members of the military, because the simple truth is how do you deal with an issue so enormously out of control that threatens human existence?

So, could we respond in the event that the unthinkable occurred? How would we do that? Assuming we weren't among those whose lives were immediately forfeit, what steps to take for survival?
North Korea Missile
The North Korean government is purported to have launched a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, as shown in this July 28 photo distributed by the country. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

What kind of experience have we had in avoiding death under circumstances that created the conditions for a lingering, anguished death? Are we in any way equipped to respond to this ultimate emergency? To limp along as best we can under the most primitive of conditions? When the Twin Towers fell in New York, it took a few days before 'normalcy' returned. There was no interruption to communications, to the power system, to the transportation system, to the work conducted by civil society to ensure that the infrastructure and the community could re-commence its normalcy.

The electrical grid was functional, the water and purification plants, hospitals and emergency personnel, municipal functions and infrastructure were all intact but for the destroyed Twin Towers and the unforgivingly malevolent loss of life that brought a universal sorrow not only to distraught New Yorkers but to the world at large -- with some exceptions. The military with its engineering arms were responsive as were police and firemen, who mourned the loss of their own in that great tragedy.

As a worst-instance scene, that infamous day stands out as among the most difficult North America faced resulting from the deadly enmity of a foreign ideology based in a religion of conquest. In contrast, the First World War accident that befell Halifax in the great explosion that took place when a vessel carrying war munitions exploded in its harbour through an accidental collision, destroying most of the city's downtown and killing two-thirds of the number that perished during 9-11.

A nuclear explosion targeting a North American city on the other hand, would result in a catastrophic event of far greater and wider proportions. Destruction would be complete, deaths too numerous to imagine, injuries with nowhere to be treated since hospitals would have been destroyed along with all other buildings, and no infrastructure reflecting civilized life would remain. Rescuers? From where, and how long might it take to hope to address an emergency of such absolute dimensions?

Were a single, 150-kiloton nuclear head to be detonated in any city, some 55,000 people would be estimated to die outright. All the networks we depend upon would have been destroyed, from communications  to transportation and services networks, let alone the infrastructure or emergency response. Chain of command? No further than your own devices, depending on your ability to respond in your own survival defence. You and any other survivors would need food, medicine, water and in short supply it would lead to mayhem.

Everywhere, radiation refugees, people in varying states of illness or slow recovery -- or eventual death. No buildings to shelter in, no one to consult with, everyone distracted and busy jealously guarding whatever they could find to sustain themselves. The dead left to fester and inevitably dread diseases to spread. Total civil order breakdown; how could it be otherwise? People foraging, to extend their miserable lives, waiting for some vestige of outside rescue.

More than one bomb dropped elsewhere, so that others are in the very same plight of hopelessness? Would there be any comfort in the thought that as soon as the authorities in your country became certain that the bombs were impending they sent their own in a counter-offence, and the other nation that had invaded yours with nuclear devices would be suffering in the very same way? Unlikely.

But we shouldn't be concerned. Not to worry. Sane minds will prevail.

The sane mind, as example, of Kin Jong-un; his threats of destroying his nemesis, the United States are not to be taken seriously; they represent, after all, the juvenile musings of an arrested adolescent -- oh, and minds arrested in the adolescent phase of maturity are known for impulsive, self-destroying behaviour.

On the other hand, there's the rational intelligence of the most powerful man on the planet, the President of the United States of America....

World War 3 North Korea
The graphic flyer is one of many pieces believed to have been sent over the border  Getty/Twitter

Labels: , ,

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Some Semblance of Normalcy

"We're being told in Colorado Springs [NORAD headquarters] that the extant U.S. policy is not to defend Canada."
"[In the] heat of the moment [the U.S. command could go contrary to the policy, but] it would be entirely a U.S. discussion and a U.S. decision."
Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand, deputy commander, North American Aerospace Defence Command

"The U.S. isn't going to take the chance of radioactive drift coming across from Vancouver or Toronto."
"Any missile coming towards North America would be targeted by the Americans. We don't need to be part of U.S. missile defence for that to happen."
Michael Byers, political science professor, University of British Columbia

"We trained children in schools to get under their desks and cover the backs of their necks to protect themselves from shattered glass, which does absolutely nothing to protect them from radiation."
"[Once a nuclear detonation has gone off] all electronic communications would be out. A public education campaign should be going on now."
Dennis Mileti, former director, National Hazards Center, University of Colorado

"Part of the problem is that the emergency planners themselves, personally, are overwhelmed psychologically by the thought of nuclear catastrophe. They are paralyzed."
"You say 'nuclear' to them, and they're thinking, 'Oh my God, we're all gone. What's the point? It's futile. And we're trying to tell them 'It's not futile. We can change the survival rates by doing some commonsensical things."
"You want as much distance and as much shielding as possible between you and the detonation, and you stay in this shelter environment [either underground or on the middle floors of a tall building, away from windows] for somewhere between 24 and 72 hours."
"We would have essentially permanent loss of real estate that will not be habitable for people's lifetimes and more. [There would be economic reverberations] not just locally in the communities affected, but regionally, nationally and internationally."
"I hope we're never in that position where we have to choose between not responding to an actual nuclear attack or wiping out another country, which consists of 99.9999% of people who just want to get up in the morning and have some semblance of normalcy."
Irwin Redlener, public health professor, Columbia University

"Just imagining this kind of incident is already impacting the general public [by causing anxiety]."
"The closer you are, the more connection you have with the country, the higher the impact is."
"You should not expect government emergency responders to reach you, even before two weeks. They would be exposed to radiation that might affect them. It is better even for emergency responders to wait for a few days sometimes so that radiation level goes down and they can go to help."
Ali Asgary, Associate professor of Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, Toronto
 The British Government is reportedly working on a new nuclear new alert system
The British Government is reportedly working on a new nuclear alert blast system. Alamy
Should a nuclear-tipped missile hit an area, it is the resulting size of the blast that speaks to the extent of the fallout. Wind speed affects fallout spread, sandlike grains. Even while potentially fatal radiation sees a rapid drop, hundreds of kilometres off from the target of a bomb to mitigate the effects of fallout, protective measures should be planned for. In 2010 the American government produced a response guide reflective of a 10-kiloton nuclear detonation. In that scenario it was pointed out that fallout could "have a low-level continental impact".

Should Asia, as an example, be the venue, which is to say under current political circumstances, should a preemptive strike hit North Korea, radiation would be certain to drift onward to North America; no region would be exempt from long-term health effects. In addition to the physical impacts, the psychological damage from nuclear radiation fallout would be far-ranging, the wholesale traumatization that would result could incapacitate a nation.

And the reality just happens to be should a North Korean nuclear warhead manage to thread its way through missile defences to strike a city in North America, disaster preparedness experts are quick to point out that there is no preparedness for a response. There have been no appreciable actions taken by authorities to educate people what they should do, how they should ideally react to help themselves in the wake of a nuclear detonation. Dr. Redlener of Columbia University has been foiled time and again in attempting to alert the public.

Not a single city in the United States has formulated plans that might be even marginally effective in dealing with a nuclear detonation, and the disaster it would plant on the continent. And nor is Canada any more responsible in alerting its citizens to self-defence in reaction to such potentially unimaginable events. Within the blast zone no human life would be expected to survive, but beyond that zone the greatest risk to survival would be represented by the resulting radioactive dust and debris falling to ground in the explosion's wake, with no time to outrun its return to ground level.

The blast wave and thermal pulse created by a nuclear explosion would result in immediate deaths within seconds; for a 150-kiloton warhead, within a radius of several kilometres a dead zone would prevail. Canadians work with Americans in the vital task of detecting missiles, at NORAD headquarters. They are not the decision-makers though we are the risk-takers. "Look at Canada, we can unleash a demonstration on Canada, a light-and-fire spectacular as ample proof of what we can achieve in levelling the imperialist majesty of the United States", a not-unlikely thought process flickering through Kim Jong-un's febrile mind.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 13, 2017

Reuniting Fatah and Hamas

"We don't trust Hamas and they don't trust us, so we have to build trust. Everyone has gone the first step in the right direction, and I think trust will be built gradually because we want this reconciliation to be a gradual process."
"Without Yahia Sinwar [newly elected Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar] this could not have happened. He has two hats. He wears the Al Qassam (Hamas' military wing) hat, where he has credibility, and the politburo hat, where he [also] has credibility."
"The difference is Egypt. Cairo has a vested interest in this reconciliation and wants to recapture its prestige in the region."
Mohammad Shtayyeh, adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah central committee member

"They had to do it because the people are fed up with this division between Fatah and Hamas."
"We hope that this unification will add strength to the Palestinians at the negotiating table with Israel. Possibly, this is a step in preparing something for Trump's deal."
Hussein Al-Rimmawi, professor of political geography, Ramallah

"[The US welcomed] efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza." 
"We will be watching these developments closely, while pressing forward ... to try to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza."
"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations."
White House Special Representative Jason Greenblatt
"[Israel must be aware of and guard against] bogus reconciliations [which take place] at the expense of our existence."
"Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm [and] sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
"The Egyptian role is overt, aggressive and we basically have the same instinct as the Egyptians do when it comes to Hamas."
"Of course, they have a way of influencing in Gaza that Israel no longer has."
Eran Lerman, former deputy director, National Security Council, Israel
Senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri (left) sits next to Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad as they sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Thursday. Under the agreement, Hamas would cede control of the Gaza Strip to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority by Dec. 1.  Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Once again the rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas have pledged to work together. They do, after all, share one overwhelming aim; to destroy the State of Israel. Fatah, through their leadership in the Palestinian Authority in its ongoing mission to continue fostering hatred of the Palestinian Arabs toward Israeli Jews and their continuous incitement to violence, while posing as a legitimate partner with Israel toward successful peace negotiations, and Hamas, which states up front that its existence is mandated toward the destruction of Israel.

The PA under President Mahmoud Abbas portrays itself as innocent of any violent plots against Israel; Hamas unabashedly and with pride celebrates its own.

Each time they have committed to join the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in a common bond with a common purpose, extolling their ability to rule together in harmony, they have succumbed to the hostility each faction feels against the other; Hamas with its fundamentalist Islamist colouration and Fatah with its secular-type Islamic ideology, each deploring the other. They ruled together for a few short years in a unity government when elections resulted in Hamas obtaining a surprising percentage of the vote.

And then that unity government fell apart when Hamas decided it would take over a fractious Gaza, making it even more dangerous when they succeeded in ousting their Fatah rivals in a spasm of ultra violence. Now, as a result of Egypt having declared the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is an offshoot) a terrorist group after the coup that removed Mohammed Morsi from the Egyptian presidency and the Brotherhood from power, returning Egypt to military rule under President Abdel Fattah el Sisi and Hamas's estrangement from its funder Iran, its control in Gaza de-funded, it  turned in desperation to offering to rejoin Fatah.

Negotiations taking place in Cairo facilitated the two rivals agreeing to unite, with Hamas eager and willing to render unto Fatah the governance of Gaza, which had proven too difficult for Hamas ever since their funding shortcoming had been complicated by the PA withholding payment to enable Gazan employees to be paid, and ordering Israel to stop supplying the Strip with electrical power by refusing to pay for it.

But reconciliation is in the works, not so much a 'win' for Fatah as it is for Hamas. Hamas no longer has to be concerned about administering the civil affairs of the Strip; that will now revert to Fatah and become their headache, leaving Hamas free to concentrate its effort entirely on its military. With, of course, its mandate intact, to destroy Israel. In Gaza, residents are understandably pleased: "I hope there will be implementation on the ground for the issues agreed upon, because we are truly tired from the division and poverty", sighed resident Waed Mesameh.

What seems like a surrender to Fatah by Hamas is anything but; it is a rescue of Hamas by Fatah. Fatah regains command of Gaza alongside that of the West Bank as autonomous regions under Israeli control, a condition required to ensure that no massive attacks by Palestinians eager to blow up Israelis are committed through lack of Israeli vigilance. What Fatah and the world call the 'occupation' would never be in place were it not for the threats to Israel and its citizens emanating from the West Bank and Gaza.

How likely is it, however, that the crossings between Israel and the Palestinians will now fall into Palestinian Authority hands, given the ongoing pledge of Hamas, now realigned with Fatah, to continue its war against Israel? Hamas remains on the terrorist list of most of the West. Opening Gaza's borders would have a number of purposes; on the one  and, it would help relieve the isolation of Gazans, and offer them a more 'normalized' existence; on the other offer greater opportunities for Hamas to rebuild its military infrastructure after the last conflict with the IDF, and expand its deadly arsenal of weapons.

After Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 in a schism with Fatah, the terrorist group 'appointed' 40,000 Gaza residents as employees to work in the ministries they set up in Gaza. This is a measure to ensure that at least that number of Gazans will be loyal to Hamas, and dependent on it for their livelihoods. When the 40,000 were appointed, the tens of thousands that Fatah had previously employed were put out of work. Now that Fatah will resume authority in Gaza, it plans to recall its Fatah employees, and the Gaza appointees will be out of luck.

Already a divergence of opinion has arisen with Gaza arguing that if the Fatah employees are returned to work, the Gaza employees should also be retained on the job. With Fatah retorting that it cannot afford to absorb them all as paid employees and its priorities are the deployment of its own employees, so the Gaza appointees will be out.of.luck, oh my. Dissension, already, before the ink is even dry...!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sparse Employment, High Poverty

"Today, First Nations stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples everywhere to revitalize and restore our collective rights as peoples and to support one another in that goal."
"This is a day for all governments to recommit to work with us to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration affirms Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and sets out minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being." "Implementing the UN Declaration will promote peace and help close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. Canada has stated its unqualified support for the UN Declaration and, as we approach the 10th anniversary of its adoption by the UN General Assembly, it is time to work together to give life to the Declaration in Canada and around the world."
AFN [Assembly of First Nations] National Chief Perry Bellegarde. 

Last week, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde stated that a meeting is due between Indigenous, federal and provincial leaders to work on closing the economic gap among First Nations, to more closely resemble income levels of the wider Canadian population. This, when billions of dollars are earmarked and dispatched annually in support of First Nations aboriginal reserves. The AFN insists that First Nations tribes continue to live in reflection of their heritage, on often-remote areas of the country difficult to access.

Most people who chose to live away from urban centres on properties where services are absent are on their own; they must themselves provide potable water from wells for themselves, and access to medical care is fairly inconvenient, necessitating long drives to reach hospital and medical centres. Schooling for children can also be a problem, where children are bused to local schools in nearby towns taking hours of commuting time out of peoples' daily schedules. Those committed to living rurally and remote accept these conditions as those they've chosen.

The seasonal inaccessibility to many remotely-located reserves ensures that commodities and food ae expensive, and access to potable water often a problem, as is reaction to unstable or seasonal weather conditions leading to wildfires or to flooding conditions. On reserves, residents do not own their homes and as a result make no effort at upkeep. On reserves there is scant employment available other than what the band council doles out, usually to their own family members. This is not living traditionally, this is living in hazardous conditions where poverty is almost guaranteed.

Conditions are further exacerbated by the social conditions that prevail, with alcoholism and drug dependency common problems. As are poor parenting skills and interests in the welfare of children. Leading to a good degree of social dysfunction, made far worse by epidemics of suicide, particularly among children. Violence perpetrated by males against female members of tribal communities is common and frequent. And each time a reserve is faced with emergencies they seem incapable or unwilling or both to execute measures to meet those emergencies, instead calling upon government to solve those social ills.

Complaints are plentiful about unkempt homes requiring replacement because they've never been cared for, about a lack of psychological counselling and medical facilities close at hand, and the quality of the schools to which aboriginal youth are expected to attend until they reach higher grade levels and must go elsewhere to continue their educations. Health is impacted, both physical and mental, but persuading health and medical professionals to commit to living in hardship posts that remote communities represent is difficult.

Now Statistics Canada has released a report on income data retrieved from the 2016 census revealing that four of every five Aboriginal reserves report median incomes falling below the poverty line. A review of census figures for Indigenous communities reveal 81 percent of reserves had median incomes below the low-income measure, considered to be $22,133 for one person. Of the 367 reserves where data was available, 297 communities fell below the low-income measure, and 70 registered median incomes above the de facto poverty line.

Median total incomes below $10,000 were reported for 27 communities, registering at the lowest end. Oddly, women had marginally better incomes than their male counterparts with about 22 percent of female incomes on-reserve over the low-income measure, as opposed to about 19 percent for males. Indigenous peoples living on reserve reflect a significantly younger population than the general community in Canada reflecting a fertility rate exceeding non-Indigenous counterparts. The bad news is a shorter life expectancy and lower incomes.

A mere 26 of the 503 reserves on the Prairies had higher median household incomes where some reported household incomes of up to $70,336, reflecting employment, investments and government benefits, ranging from $13,168 in Manitoba to $114,381 in James Bay, Quebec.
Statistics Canada released another installment of census data Wednesday, this time with a focus on poverty and income. Still from Video

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet