Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No Witnesses? No Suspects? Cold Case

"We want to perfect the record for history's sake, to make sure this case is never forgotten."
"Our resolve is as strong as it's ever been."
Tyrone Brooks, veteran civil rights activist, former Georgia lawmaker

"Unfortunately, when these histories divide [variant accounts by opposing white and black communities], what you get is a hole in the centre where the truth should be."
"To me, the closure of the case with nobody held accountable is not surprising. I think it's a demonstration of the power of race to distort even the best intentions to get at the truth."
Laura Wexler, author, Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America

"The reason this is so important is that we're still facing all this racial conflict, and acknowledgement is the only real key to healing."
"You've got to acknowledge that the wound is there, and that hasn't happened here."
Janis McDonald, co-director, Cold Case Justice Initiative, Syracuse University College of Law
Loy Harrison (left), a witness to the Moore’s Ford murders, shows then-Sheriff J.M. Bond of Oconee County how a mob of white men bound the hands of two black men together before shooting them and their wives to death near Monroe, Ga., July 25, 1946. Authorities suspected that Harrison was complicit in the crime. (Associated Press Photo)

In the 1990s law enforcement re-opened a cold case. People came forward to promise new information. Investigators concluded, however, they were unable to prosecute anyone on the basis of what had been revealed. Then in June of 2000, then-governor Ray Barnes got involved to order the Georgia Bureau of Investigation once again to reopen the case.

The redacted case file was made public when the investigation closed that January. The file included interviews, whatever leads had been followed, along with case summaries and press clippings. Still to no avail. Whatever efforts were brought to bear came to nought. When the investigation was closed yet again, Tyrone Brooks said he meant to continue to keep the case alive. Since 2005 he has helped organize a re-enactment of the event.

As long as the case remains unsolved, he intends to continue to raise public awareness of that very fact. He had himself become involved in the extraordinary issue of a very public racist atrocity having occurred with no closure, no justice, no explanation why tracking those who were guilty of the crime has been so evasive, leading to frustrating inconclusiveness. Martin Luther King Jr. had tasked him to become involved in 1969.

The event in question was the violent death by armed mob action of four sharecroppers in 1946 Georgia. Four young people in their mid-20s, two couples, Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey. Civil rights activists, journalists, students, cold case groups and historians have all over the years travelled to the site of the murder where a white mob killed four blacks and no one has been held to account.
A road marker along Hwy. 78 in Walton County memorializes the murders at Moore’s Ford near Monroe. The area is the site of a 1946 lynching of two black couples. (JOHN AMIS / SPECIAL)

Moore's Ford Bridge overlooking the Apalachee River is about 80 kilometres east of Atlanta. The mob, estimated at between 20 to 25 (some accounts put it at 40) people, stopped a vehicle carrying the four young people, dragged them from the vehicle, took them to the riverbank and shot them repeatedly, killing them. Roger Malcom, then 24, had been put in jail after he had accused Barnett Hester, white, of having sex with his wife.

He was jailed because he stabbed Hester during their argument, injuring him. Along came a white farmer, Loy Harrison, to pay the $600 bail for Malcom on July 25, 1946. Harrison drove the two young couples home, and it was while they were on their way that the mob stopped them. The mob, Harrison told investigators later, ambushed his vehicle. He was himself unharmed, and there was no one in the mob he could identify.

It was revealed through an FBI report that the farmer was a former Ku Klux Klansman and just incidentally a bootlegger. The investigation that commenced interviewed dozens of possible suspects some of whom were part of Hester's extended family, his friends, his neighbours, but failed to indict anyone in its six months of enquiry. In a small town, everyone tends to know everyone else.

Malcom was incarcerated in that small town. Harrison, a former member of the most virulently violent racist group in America, out of the goodness of his heart, paid $600 (which no doubt was calculated to be returned to him after the murders) to have a black man accused of stabbing a white man released. And to advance further his virtuous morality, offered to drive him, along with three other black people to their home.

When the mob advanced on Harrison's vehicle, he recognized no one he could name to investigators. Untouched himself, and witness to the murders, there was mention that he was a suspect as having organized or helped to organize the murders. When Laura Wexler interviewed people in the town as background research to a book she wrote of the event, she described different versions of circumstances related to the murders.

Alienation between black and white then and now so complete that their opposing perspectives served and continues to serve not justice and the law of the land and human morality by an unforgivably inbred distrust and malice stultifying the normalcy of people as neighbours living together in the harmony of tolerance, and in the final analysis content to overlook the savage killing of human beings because of the polarizing colour of their skin.

“You can’t forget something that’s buried in your mind. I was there. I know what happened.”
Clint Adams with his wife, Retha, at their home in Winder. Adams is the only known living witness to the Moore’s Ford lynching. He was 10-years-old when he says he and a friend saw a mob shoot two African American couples in what became the nation’s last mass lynching. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

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Child Abuse and Adultery in Turkey

"By enacting legislation on adultery, all of those abuses would be treated within the same scope. This is self-criticism, I must say that in the EU process, we made a mistake. …"
"We should now evaluate preparing legislation about adultery and perhaps consider it together with the issue of harassment and others."
"This society holds a different status in terms of its moral values."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The president made the comments to a sobbing young girl dressed as a Turkish solider on a public stage during a live TV appeareanceThe president made the comments to a sobbing young girl dressed as a Turkish solider on a public stage during a live TV appearance

"If she is martyred, a flag will be put on her, God willing."
"She is ready for everything, isn't she?"
"Look what you see here! Girl, what are you doing here? We have our maroon berets here, but maroon berets never cry."
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Justice and Development Party meeting, February 25, 2018
"Bringing a little child to the stage in front of thousands of people and blessing death is a big mistake."
"Children should never be in the shadow of weapons and should not be the face of wars."
Veli Agbaba, deputy chairman, Turkish opposition CHP party

"Divorce, drugs, irresponsible pleasure and immoral print and digital publications are as dangerous as terrorism." 
"Laws and legislation should be native and national."
Conservative Turkish columnist Rahim Er
"[The state should not get involved in the lives of people who might have different religious or moral views.]"
"In my opinion, the appropriateness of the relations that two people will engage in with their own will should not be dwelt upon too much."
Kurdish politician Altan Tan, Peoples’ Democratic Party 
Janitor receives record 572-year jail sentence for abusing 18 children in Turkey’s Adıyaman
Turkish janitor, Mehmet Sait Güler, receives record 572 years in prison for abusing 18 children in the student lodging of a religious vocational (imam-hatip) secondary school in the southeastern province of Adıyaman 
Turkey, in the view of its President Erdogan, is a society much superior in its values and treatment of women and children than is the European Union. But when the EU responding to Turkey's wish to join it, persuaded Turkey's political executive to relax some of its punitive laws, the issue of adultery underwent a change in its punishment. The superiority of Islamic Turkey in its treatment of children appears to be alive and well in Erdogan's mind though the truth is neglect and maltreatment of minors is rampant throughout Turkish society. 
An issue that came to the fore when it was revealed that one single hospital in Istanbul in less than a five-month period treated one hundred and fifteen girls, 39 of them from Syria for the consequences of the abuse they were subjected to. Among the girls 38 had been impregnated before the age of fifteen, and 77 before turning 18 years of age. Since the age of consent in Turkey is 18 years of age, all instances of pregnancy resulting in girls under age 15 are classified as child abuse.

News coverage of fairly recent vintage highlighting instances of child abuse in Turkey has resulted in a social upheaval of disgust and anger from the public and politicians representing various opposition parties, leading President Erdogan to dispatch six of his ministers to work out more effective administrative and legal measures to deal with child abuse. Harsher penalties such as chemical castration for offenders is one of the options that has garnered much debate.

Might any of the ministers dare to suggest that some form of meaningful penalty be imposed on Recep Tayyip Erdogan for egregious child abuse rivalling that of the Hamas and Islamic State terrorist groups who have excelled in tutoring impressionable children and exposing them to the delights of juvenile terrorism, teaching them the use of explosive devices and lethal arms, and the joys inherent in determined martyrdom? 
His initiative in ushering a six-year-old girl onto a public stage before thousands of approving supporters, urging her to aspire toward martyrdom as the highest possible calling, surely rates as child abuse...?

Now, he has embarked on yet another tangent. Rather than tackling the huge and hugely destructive issue of child abuse, he has conflated it with the other issue of adultery. Adultery as a criminal offence to be brought back to its former status in the criminal code alongside capital punishment -- another penalty that failed to find favour with the European Union.

On February 20 Erdogan spoke of his government's decision to work on formalizing harsher penalties for child abuse. In tandem with the crime of adultery.

The conventional wisdom under Turkish law up until 1996 was that a man would be considered adulterous under circumstances proving him to be involved in a prolonged carnal affair reflective of a 'husband-wife' situation, whereas for a woman to be found guilt of adultery she need only be unfaithful or commit a sexual act with a man other than her husband on a single occasion to be considered guilty of that crime.
The Turkish Constitutional Court in 1996 cancelled legal articles that regulated adultery for husbands in a situation where the issue was altered for men but remained as it was for women. Finally, two years later the Constitutional Court enabled the cancellation of the adultery articles applicable to women in recognition of unequal application. Which does nothing to address the issue of Turkish men taking on multiple wives.
Despite that only one of the wives is recognized as a legal spouse, there is no penalty inherent in a man's status respecting multiple wives and presumably offspring from those relationships, which could also be interpreted as child abuse, but is obviously not meant to be under Turkish law. Turkish women concerned with equality, justice and fairness under the law question the banning of adultery while permitting polygamy.
"Will we be able to say that someone who is married to four women is committing adultery?" questioned Canan Gullu, head of the Federation of Women Associations of Turkey. As for combining a law scrutinizing and punishing adultery alongside child abuse, a puzzling decision which may have an inner and unequal agenda under Islamist principles, that will be yet to be seen, commented on, discussed and objected to.
The president was cheered by adoring supporters as he told the girl she will be honoured if she is martyred 
The president was cheered by adoring supporters as he told the weeping six-year-old girl she will be honoured if she is martyred 

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Accountability an Exercise in Futility in Syria

"France and Germany condemn in the strongest possible terms the deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations, including very large numbers of children, and against civil and medical infrastructure in clear violation of the most fundamental international humanitarian law."
Joint letter to Vladimir Putin

"This is about saving lives. UN convoys and evacuation teams are ready to go."
"It's time for the council to come together and shoulder its responsibility to urgently avert a situation that is beyond words in its desperation."
Olof Skoog, Swedish UN Ambassador
Hala, 9, receives treatment at a makeshift hospital following Syrian government bombardments on rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on February 22, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY)
Hala, 9, receives treatment at a makeshift hospital following Syrian government bombardments on rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on February 22, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY)

Back in July of 2017 the General Assembly, despite vociferous objections from both Syria and Russia, voted for the establishment of a new body "to closely coordinate" with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established by the UN Human Rights Council. One of the very few times when the UNHRC focused on a country other than Israel which it normally upbraids for human rights violations. This time, a rare event; the focus was on Syria where war crimes are recognized to be "rampant".

The Syria war crimes probe is meant to represent the "International, impartial and independent mechanism" under auspices of the United Nations, mandated "to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings" for the future. In view of the very indelible fact that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has been prosecuting a brutal conflict against his own Sunni population for seven years, this initiative belongs in the "about time" annals of history.

For sheer viciousness in the types of violent attacks against civilian populations among whom are those rebelling against the Alawite Shiite regime of Syria, aided and abetted by the Islamic Republic of Iran, its al-Quds Republican Guard Corps, the Lebanon-based Iranian terrorist militia Hezbollah and the various Iran-trained loyalist Shiite militias with a natural affinity to executing atrocities against Sunnis, only the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is its equal.

From barrel bombs to chemical weapons attacks, artillery fire and bombing missions over  hospitals, schools and apartment blocks, the Syrian regime represents raw brutality.

Despite which, irrespective of all that dedicated assistance by Iran and Hezbollah, the rebellion might have succeeded were it not for the entrance of Russia to support he  Syrian regime. Russian air bombardment of civilian enclaves in the Damascus suburbs and elsewhere has rescued Bashar al-Assad from the fate he richly deserves. The natural justice of removing a dictator and holding him to account for crimes against humanity has been suspended.

An integral member of the UN Security Council, Russia has stalled sanctions and condemnatory motions time and again.

On the Syria file Vladimir Putin must stand alongside Bashar al-Assad to account for the same crimes. Characterizing civilian testimony from the East Ghouta area as "mass psychosis"; complaints from targeted, demoralized, traumatized, injured, displaced and mourning Syrians who have been and continue to live through a hell on Earth courtesy of Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Russia as dementedly feverish imaginative descriptions of events that never saw the light of day, hits a new low.
The bodies of Syrian civilians, including a baby (R), lie wrapped in shrouds on the floor of a makeshift clinic following Syrian government bombardments in Douma, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 22, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Hamza AL-AJWEH)

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Out of Africa

"Israel does not hesitate to grant refugee status when required and follows a procedure consistent with the criteria and standards of international law, laid down by the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees."
"With that said, the data about the migrants who have entered Israel illegally indicates that 70 to 80 percent of the migrants are of working age -- 19 to 40 years old -- and that there are about five times more men than women."
"These numbers are consistent with a population that is composed mostly of economic migrants."
Italy Tavor, spokeswoman, Israeli Embassy, Ottawa
The anti-deportation protest in Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018. (Courtesy)
The anti-deportation protest in Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018. (Courtesy)

The swelling tide of African migrants is suffocating Europe. Sweden is now recognized as the first European nation to become effectively Muslimized. Right behind Sweden is Belgium, France, Germany, Norway and Italy. The European Union has mandated that its member-states must accede to its demands that the unending stream of migrants and refugees be absorbed. Under the UN regulations on refugees which were formulated long before the refugee/migrant phenomenon became a viral threat, there is an obligation to accept the presence of those exiting their countries of birth.

In those countries where strife, privation, tribal conflict and government instability along with corruption and human rights violations, societal and judicial breakdowns are rife, people live miserable lives. Africa has received incredible amounts of foreign aid, little of it trickling down to those whose lives might be improved, sticking instead to the pockets of their rulers and tyrants. Africa appears incapable of getting itself together to anything resembling civilized advancement preferring its debased dysfunctional state.

The disorder, distrust of authority, resentment and tribal antipathies alongside sectarian hatreds so much a part of the continent's culture accompanies migrants wherever they go. In more manageable numbers the transition to a new culture, new laws, new social order would be achievable. The greater the influx the less opportunity to assimilate, to adapt, rather than to impose. Israel is a small country both geographically and population-wise and it is one whose reason for existence is to offer haven to Jews who have historically been victimized by all among whom they live.

Young men primarily from Sudan and Eritrea appear to have convinced themselves that their future well-being lies in Israel, where opportunities to advance themselves are superior to remaining in their countries of origin. Eager to leave their countries of birth they tend not to migrate to other African countries; in transit on arrival in Egypt they are directed to Israel until Israel built a restraining wall. An estimated 40,000 migrants pre-dated that wall, however. Now Israel has determined it can no longer support them.

Notifying tens of thousands of migrants from Africa of a deportation plan that will give them paid flight out of Israel to Uganda or Rwanda, with $3,500 on departure. The presence of refugee families living in Israel will be unaffected; it is single, unaccompanied males that have been targeted by Israeli authorities for removal. Israel is the very last nation that can be accused of racism; it has a large population of black Jews from Ethiopia who are citizens, along with over a million Arab (1.4-M) citizens, Kurds and Druze.

Deportation is extremely unpopular among Israelis, despite complaints that in areas where the migrants congregate, those areas have been turned into slums, and an increase in crime has been attributed to their presence. Social and occupational groups comprised of doctors, writers, rabbis, Holocaust survivors, even pilots have made appeals to the government to halt the deportation plan. Their appeals based on the very reality that Jews are all too familiar with deportation.

In response, the government emphasizes that women, children and families remain exempt from deportation.

Canada has offered to take several thousand of the migrants through an agreement with Israel. "We ask that sponsors advise the department [Canada's Global Affairs] should any of their applicants be issued deportation or detention notices. Our office in Tel Aviv has dedicated resources to deal with the applications", advised a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa.

Asylum seekers protest against deportation in Tel Aviv, Israel, 24 February 2018 AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Trudeau On The World Stage : How're We Doing?

"If they had Googled the name, this guy would have shown up in two seconds."
"They obviously decided they were going to do things differently and put their guy out there. But this has done irreparable damage to the relationship [between Canada and India]."
Garry Keller, former chief of staff, foreign affairs, Canada
"This was an opportunity to get Canada to lean away from rival China at a time of high Sino-Indo tensions."
"Yes, Trudeau looks pretty silly in his outfits. The Atwal invite was a mind-boggling dumb political blunder. But if this ends bad, I’m not sure India gains anything out of it, even if they think they are sending a stern message. It’s lose-lose when eyes should be focused on China."
Stephanie Carvin, national security analyst, professor, Carleton University
Trudeau calls India tour ‘excellent’ despite controversy over invite to Sikh extremist
The Prime Minister's Office and Justin Trudeau's legion of defenders have been attempting to insinuate that the security failure in inviting a known felon, a man who belonged to an outlawed terrorist group and who was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison, whom a former Indo-Canadian premier of British Columbia and fervent critic of Sikh extremism accused of beating him almost to death to a state affair at the Canadian High Commission reflects a plot planned by India.

However, the truth is that this man, a stalwart supporter of the Liberals, an Indo-Canadian Sikh, Jaspal Atwal, although well known in the Sikh community, and whose activities have been closely followed by the RCMP appears to have a well-received presence within the Liberal party, his criminal past notwithstanding. Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai, knows him well, and was the one who extended the invitation for this convicted felon to appear alongside the Trudeaus on their India trip.

A more inconvenient juxtaposition could barely be imagined, immediately following Justin Trudeau's assurances of Canadian non-tolerance for terrorism, to both the first minister of the Punjab who had accused the current Canadian government of giving aid and comfort to Khalistani separatists in Canada, and to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had approached the Canadian Prime Minister on more than one occasion to express his unease at Canada's stance with respect to Khalistani provocations out of Canada.

Justin Trudeau's infantile preening while in New Delhi, playing  the colourful tourist impudently engaging in cultural sartorial misappropriation would have been vociferously denounced as racist imperialism had anyone but himself engaged in these disrespectful shenanigans. It was the thespian, the self-absorbed megalomaniac in Trudeau that had come to the fore. A man who had once taught
drama classes at a private school in Vancouver, now Prime Minister, delighting in meeting Bollywood actors in dress-up -- he and his family, that is; the Indian actors wore respectful Western-style suits.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, daughter, Ella-Grace, and son, Xavier, visit Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, on Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, daughter, Ella-Grace, and son, Xavier, visit Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, on Monday. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)  Delhi journalist Shivam Vij: "You know, this whole thing about Justin Trudeau being so handsome has been taken over with 'Hello, what's with the clothes?'"
Back when Russian President Boris Yeltsin strode the world stage, usually half-cut, eliciting gasps of amused disbelief from watchers as he spontaneously acted out his peculiar impulses to relax formality by performing all manner of inappropriate-to-his-station skits of droll proportions, his clumsy but demeaning-to-his-office behaviour brought huge embarrassment to his country. Russians do enjoy their hard liquor -- they are usually more discreet in public; Putin by comparison, shuns it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, lives in a perpetual state of arrested adolescence, he simply cannot rise above his self-veneration, his touching belief that he can do no wrong, that he is the world's premier admired gallant and defender of the weak and the vulnerable. He clamours righteously for the world to become more 'feminist' as he has done, he speaks volumes of his dedication to the working class, to equality rights for the alt-gendered. His pretense at being middle-class and socialist in spirit belies his love of opulence, wealth and ostentation.

His free-spirited public show of all of that in India doesn't appear to have impressed either the Indians, Canadians, or the outside world looking in with great bemusement on these revelations. There is another side to this man's agenda, however, that is more troubling; that he lends his position and prestige to meeting with unsavoury personages, from outlawed terror group leaders (Tamil Tigers, Khalistani separatists), to purported Afghan hostages who happen to be criminals, as example.

For no effort however puzzlingly unseemly, is too far a road to travel when the prospect of votes arise as a result. Little puzzlers like Trudeau's affection and support for the Castro brothers in Cuba, his fascination with the Communist Chinese Politburo, that can turn political matters 'on a dime', his stated willingness to restore diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, an exporter of terrorism and exemplar of internal persecution of its public. Trudeau will turn up at mosques in Canada visibly celebrating extremism.

He has sent Liberal parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs Omar Alghabra, to attend a meeting of the world’s largest group of Islamic countries at the 44th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cote d'Ivoire, last July. Canada, lest anyone be uncertain, is not, has never been, and possibly never will be a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a matter which appears to have slipped Trudeau's notice.

Canada's Department of Global Affairs was asked if Alghabra would be speaking at the conference as a guest, raising the topic of Islamophobia; the response was that he planned to address "ways to promote diversity and counter anti-Muslim discrimination". Scheduled, at the same opportunity, according to Global Affairs, to "articulate[ing] a position in line with our foreign policy which includes the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls around the world", symbolic of Canada's nobility, one certain to impress the OIC.

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Canada's Stand Against Violent Extremism

"We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada."
"I was able to make that very clear to him [Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, at Amritsar]."
"We will continue to work on these issues [in Canada should threats of violent extremism occur] wherever they arise."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with his wife and three children, arrive in New Delhi on February 17.

"Happy to receive categorical assurance from Trudeau that Canada supports a united India'."
"His words are a big relief to all of us here in India and we look forward to the government's support in tackling fringe separatist elements."
Facebook account, Amarinder Singh

"We shouldn't be sending the prime minister into situations that are uncertain and where the visit is consumed by the drama of whether something that should have been predictable happens or not. That's happening too much."
"Were relying too much on how photogenic and how popular we think the prime minister is, and it's beginning to backfire on us."
"It is a real signal that all is not well and he [Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi] doesn't appreciate what he's hearing about our position. He's got a strong personality and he's not afraid of sending strong messages [of India's concern over Canada's seeming oblivion to its support of Khalistani separatists]."
David Mulroney, senior career foreign service officer, former Ambassador to China
"I reject the baseless attacks against Canadian cabinet ministers and we should be wary of any international interference in our political affairs, especially when it's targeted at minorities such as members of the Sikh community."
"The Indian government has a troubling record of conflating human rights advocacy with extremism for their own political benefit. Like all Canadians, I condemn all acts of terrorism and violence while maintaining a fundamental belief in the freedom of belief and expression."
Opposition NDP leader Jagmeet Singh
Such noble attestations by Jagmeet Singh, the Sikh leader of the federal New Democratic Party who flirts with Palestinian 'rights' and criticism of Israel when sincerely extreme members of his party push for BDS in support of the oppressed Palestinians, conveniently overlooking the PA leadership inciting to violence against Jews. Yet Singh is offended at what he insists is Indian interference in Canadian affairs. Another Sikh Canadian, former premier of British Columbia and formerly a federal Cabinet minister, Ujjal Dosanjh is concerned not about Indian interference but Singh.

According to Ujjal Dosanjhy it is troubling that: "The new leader [of the NDP Jagmeet Singh] hasn't come clean on the issue of terrorism. He hasn't said unequivocally that he condemns Talwinder Singh Parmar for being a terrorist. That should tell you something." Parmar was held by a Commission of Inquiry into the Air India flight 182 bombing in 1985 that killed 329 mostly Indo-Canadians, to be the leader of the terrorist conspiracy. He and his co-conspirators were ultimately found not guilty at trial due to lack of evidence.

But there was evidence to link Jaspal Atwal, a Liberal supporter living in Vancouver, with the commission of a crime; attempted murder of a visiting Indian Cabinet Minister back in 1986. Three shots were fired, one wounding the Minister. Jaspal Atwal and his two companions were found guilty and given 20 years imprisonment each. Atwal later admitted that he had fired the shot that hit the Indian Minister. And it was Atwal that Ujjal Dosanjh accused of beating him with an iron bar spiked with a metal bolt the year before, to silence his criticism of Sikh violence -- though he was acquitted for lack of evidence.

BREAKING: Convicted attempted murderer invited to state dinner with Trudeau in India. More from at
This is the very same Jaspal Atwal who just happened to be visiting India at the same time as Justin Trudeau and his entourage of three Indo-Canadian Sikh Cabinet Ministers and a horde of others. And who was invited through the Canadian High Commission to come along to events feting Trudeau, and a formal state dinner in his honour. Until the Canadian news networks got wind of the affair and blew it up in Trudeau's face. Attesting sincerely to Prime Minister Modi and the Punjab Minister that Canada rejected and guarded against extremism and then inviting a convicted Sikh felon to pose with the Trudeaus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year attended a Sikh event in Toronto featuring Khalistan flags and posters celebrating Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the extremist Sikh Khalistani leader whose band had sequestered themselves within the Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984 with weapons to fight the Indian troops surrounding it. "We've turned a blind eye to a festering movement aimed at dismembering a friendly country", stated Ujjal Dosanjh, himself a lone voice in the wilderness warning Canadian authorities against Sikh extremism.

Justin Trudeau, however, has ended his family vacation in India on the taxpayer's dime that extended to his huge entourage of Cabinet Ministers, political insiders and business people on an ostensible state visit with trade overtones, with huge satisfaction. He had a ball, he really did, and pre-ordering the glittering costumes to outfit the Trudeau family in their holiday venture was a real gas. His perfunctory meeting with Prime Minister Modi went swimmingly, thanks for asking, taking up all of an hour on the penultimate day of an eight-day trip.

A good time, a really good time was had by all.  And oh, those photo-ops!

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Friday, February 23, 2018

The Byzantine Middle East

"Russia has strong relations with Iran and Syria, but at the same time Jerusalem and Moscow are improving their relations. Moscow sees enormous strategic value in working with one of the world’s premier ‘start-up’ nations. Israel offers Russia much, starting with around a million Russian-speaking Israelis (at least three Israeli government ministers speak fluent Russian), and people can travel very easily between the two countries. Moreover, President Vladimir Putin has capitalised on the strained relationship that existed between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama to improve relations with Israel. Netanyahu seems to appreciate the Russians’ pragmatic stance. Additionally, Israelis recognise Russia’s growing presence in, and rising influence across, the eastern Mediterranean, making Russia invaluable to Israeli security."
"Israel recognises that the key to its security lies in persuading Putin to limit Iranian adventurism. It expects that, with the defeat of Islamic State, the Iranian presence will increase, posing a clear and present danger to Israel."
Isaac Kfir, director, National Security Program, head, Counter-Terrorism Policy Centre, ASPI
On 10 February, the world woke up to the news that Israeli fighter jets had hit Iranian targets in Syria. The altercation highlights the dangerous game that Russia is now playing in the eastern Mediterranean
"In the case of aggression against Israel, not only will the United States stand by Israel’s side — Russia, too, will be on Israel’s side."  
"Many of our countrymen live here in Israel, and Israel in general is a friendly nation, and therefore we won’t allow any aggression against Israel."
"We certainly support Israel’s right to defend itself, and the actions of Israeli pilots were entirely correct."
"We certainly regret that in this incident two Israeli pilots were injured. On behalf of the Russian embassy I am wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded pilots."
Russian Deputy Ambassador to Israel Leonid Frolov

Jonathan Conricus @LTCJonathan
Part of the remains of the UAV the #Iranians tried to sneak into Israel. Not much left of it, similar to some parts of the #Syrian air defense array.

Which way the wind blows? In the Middle East and among intervenors in the myriad, frequent and violent events in that ancient geography, stability and volatility live in a distinct state of disharmony. Just look at Israel; the more immediate of its neighbours like Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States find some compatibility with the Jewish State now, with the rising influence and power of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies. Whereas before the advent of the Iranian Revolution, under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Israel and Iran enjoyed amicable relations.

Now the axis of the Republic of Iran; Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad, not to mention Shiite-ruled Iraq, and Qatar are all in the Islamist revolutionary camp of Iran, sharing its agenda leading to the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel is bordered by Syria and Lebanon, where the forward line of influence for Iran in proximity to Israel makes it ever more convenient for attacks to be launched in preparation for an organized assault with a view to destroying the Jewish State.

The advance notice of which was the jibe that the launch of an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace represented. Swiftly shot down and destroyed it may or may not have relayed vital data back to the Revolutionary National Guard al Quds division for future use. Israel's swift response in sending aloft fighter jets into Syria to target Iranian infrastructure comprised its own message of reprisal and preparedness for any future assault, but in the process the shooting down of one of the jets by anti-aircraft fire succeeded in scoring a typical Islamist victory.

Where celebrations marking the purported end of Israeli military invincibility heightened the spirits of its enemies considerably. So where did that accurate and deadly technologically advanced anti-aircraft machinery come from? It may be entirely true that Moscow has no intention of allowing its client states, Iran in particular, to perform the mirage of crippling harm to Israel, but on the other hand, the trade in arms is also of vital importance to the Kremlin as is the image of its support to those it does business with. Putin has taken full advantage of the Obama-era step-down in presence and influence.

Vladimir Putin's decision to win Assad's civil war for him, and to lend his nation's aircraft to destroying Syrian rebel militias, throwing in civilians for good measure, brought him air and naval bases in perpetuity. Russian troops and firepower are established now for the duration in the Middle East; the Kremlin's influence and decision-making a potential factor in everything that occurs from the present onward. This self-assured world power infused with its sense of exceptional entitlements now stands between Israel and its regional enemies.

As for Iran, though it values hugely its alliances and the unalloyed faithfulness of its proxies, the opportunity to flex its own military muscles was just too irresistible. President Putin appears to distance himself from intervening in Iranian prodding of Israeli security. Perhaps there exists a 'red line' beyond which he will not tolerate Iran's thrusts, but that is yet to be seen. The current, low-intensity conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria simmers for the moment, but its embers can burst into the fire of assault at any time; an eventuality to which Israel appears to have readied itself.

As with all of these violent encounters in the Middle East, that boiling kettle of incendiary oil threatening to spill over the region in so many ways, on so many occasions, to so many scenarios, unscheduled, unexpected and redolent of wild atrocities sweeping the area deep in the blood of ancient hatreds, the guessing game is on.

The Syrian anti-air missiles which hit an Israeli F-16 early Saturday, Feb. 10, are part of a system operated with and commanded by the Russians from their Kheimim air base. The F-16 was shot down during an Israeli air strike against the Iranian facility at the T-4 air base near Palmyra, which launched a UAV into Israeli airspace that morning. The ongoing clash has therefore gone way beyond an Israeli confrontation with Syria and Iran and marks a serious deterioration in the security situation on Israel’s northern border.  Debka File

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Convoluted Alliances in Syria : Syrian War Crimes, Turkey's Kurdish Assaults

"We don't have anything - no food, no medicine, no shelter."
"They targeted everything [Eastern Ghouta]: shops, markets, hospitals, schools, mosques, everything.
"Maybe every minute we have 10 or 20 air strikes...I will treat someone - and after a day or two they come again, injured again."
"Where is the international community, where is [the UN] Security Council... they abandoned us. They leave us to be killed."
Dr. Bassam, Eastern Ghouta, Syria 

"There are cases where we find someone we thought was dead and they turned out to be alive. A baby of 20 months was brought in after an airstrike. He was blue and he wasn't breathing but his heart was working. I opened his mouth and I found his throat was completely full of sand, back to his tonsils."
Abu al-Yasa, doctor, Eastern Ghouta
A Syrian man carries a wounded infant at a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held town of Douma, 20 February 2018
A makeshift hospital was set up in Douma - one of the several towns under bombardment   AFP
"I feel suffocated down here but we are lucky because some people have no basement to hide in."
"We are just breathing but this is not living. The situation is worse than your imagination."

Abu Abdelrahman, Eastern Ghouta resident

"It is not a good place for them [wife and newborn child]. It is not healthy, it is not equipped. It is too cold."
"And I know it is not safe if it is hit by a missile. But what else can we do? This is a war of extermination."
Bassem, 33, anesthetist, resident, Eastern Ghouta

Eastern Ghouta has become a trap for about 400,000 people, half of whom are children. It is a death trap for some of those civilians whom the regime and its Russian allies target as they intensify their air strikes. A softening up, many believe, of the area's defences preparatory to a planned all-out assault on the enclave of starving, fearful people scheduled for a week from the present. Bassem's wife was just delivered of a baby boy several weeks ago, his wife too malnourished to breastfeed. 

Residents of the besieged area fear their fate, that they will be among the next several hundred that the fierce artillery and bombardment assaults will kill. Of the 200 people killed in the last several days, 57 were children. The Syrian opposition characterized this focused offensive as "a bloodbath of innocent women and children". The doctor in Douma who had cleared the infant's mouth and throat of sand was able to find space for a respirator to enable the child to breathe, and hopes are that he will survive. 

His mother and two siblings did not.

Islamist fighters and Syrian rebels have formed a coalition to fight back in hopes of repelling the advance. Odds of defence are not with them, they haven't the warplanes or the heavy arms to match those of the regime, their Iranian-backed militia partners and the Russian military. Those who have succeeded in finding haven from the bombs, sheltering in basements have no electricity or running water. A volunteer must exit whenever a bomb explodes nearby to clear the resulting rubble from pipes providing ventilation.
A picture taken on 20 February 2018 shows smoke plumes over the besieged Eastern Ghouta region in Syria
The Eastern Ghouta town of Hamouria has been heavily bombarded   Getty Images
On Tuesday ten towns and villages across the Eastern Ghouta region were bombarded. The humanitarian situation has eroded from dreadful to horrible leading the UN to call for a ceasefire so aid can be delivered and the wounded evacuated. A call hardly likely to be heeded in the maelstrom of vicious bombardment. The region hosts as its defenders aside from Syrian rebel groups, Jaysh al-Islam, an Islamist group as well as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a former affiliate in Syria of al-Qaeda -- in a jihadist alliance.
 "People have nowhere to turn," a local doctor explained to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, which supports Eastern Ghouta medical facilities. "They are trying to survive but their hunger from the siege has weakened them significantly." Six hospitals were struck by bombs on Monday and Tuesday. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights barrel bombs filled with explosives and shrapnel were used in regime strikes on the towns of Jisreen and Kfar Batna .

Afrin, the Kurdish enclave just south of the Turkish border, is experiencing similar attacks, but from Turkish troops shelling the area. Scores of pro-government gunmen entered Afrin just prior to that latest shelling. They set out to "defend our people against the Turkish aggression", according to state-run Syrian television, of the Turkish troops in Syria attacking the Kurdish YPG fighters as "terrorists" linked to the Kurdish PKK separatist group in Turkey.

The merciless bombardment of civilians in Eastern Ghouta by the Syrian military and its Iranian and Russian allies have devastated the lives of tens of thousands of Syrians. The Turkish military is doing the same to Kurdish civilians in Afrin, and pro-regime fighters come to their aid. Russia appears to have given assent to Turkey to invade Syria and bomb Afrin in its zeal to expunge the YPG. Iran is determined that Turkey not interfere with its regional plans. It's difficult to determine which group is hostile to the other.

In this region but for the Kurds, the veneer of civilization is thin indeed.
Conflicting interests: Iran confronts Turkey in Syria's Afrin region
Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters react as they hold their weapons near the city of Afrin, Syria February 19, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Canada's National Shame and Penance

"It is a sin and redemption narrative, plain and simple [reason for Canada's and Australia's pained  narrative mea culpa as ferociously heartless colonizers of Canada and Australia]."
"A literary trope has thus been co-opted for Aboriginal history."
"Surely we need to be objective and dispassionate about our past -- recognizing in a rational way both our errors as well as our accomplishments."
"Anything else is just self-indulgent moralizing and fanciful garbage."
"Australians have a totally incorrect view of their own country because of a campaign meant to convince everyone that our treatment of Aboriginals has amounted to genocide."
Keith Windschuttle, Australian historian, author of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History

"Such a process runs parallel to the political need or constant and abject apologies from Ottawa. This is why the objectively sad tale of Chanie Wenjack has been made worse through the imaginative addition of Roman Catholic pedophiles, in the same way the remarkable experience of Molly and her sisters has been made more horrible by the creation of a monstrous genetic conspiracy. And while Australia had a head start in this imaginative shame fest, we're rapidly gaining ground."
"Much of what is said and done in the name of native reconciliation in Canada today amounts to a troubling misrepresentation of historical facts -- from last year's scrubbing of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin's name from a prominent building in Ottawa because he was 'an architect of Canada's residential school system' [he was the minister of Public Works responsible for constructing the necessary buildings, he did not create the policy], to the recent removal of Edward Cornwallis' statue in Halifax because the first governor of Nova Scotia once offered a cash bounty for Mi'kmaq scalps [in response to Mi'kmaq warriors scalping English settlers, paid for by the government of New France]."
"History is no longer the collection of facts bequeathed to us by those who went before. Today it is whatever story satisfies current sensitivities, regardless of what actually happened."
Peter Shawn Taylor, editor-at-large, Maclean's magazine 
Yukon Indigenous leaders went to Ottawa in February 1973, to convince the federal government to begin land claim negotiations. The delegation was led by Chief Elijah Smith, seen here standing in front, wearing a trench coat.
Yukon Indigenous leaders went to Ottawa in February 1973, to convince the federal government to begin land claim negotiations. The delegation was led by Chief Elijah Smith, seen here standing in front, wearing a trench coat. (Council of Yukon First Nations)

From the charges of 'genocide' against white European colonialists in Canada resulting from the 19th Century institution of Residential Schools in a social compact between the federal government in Canada and religious groups engaged in humanitarian work among First Nations tribes, where Aboriginal children were taken from their parents living on reserves and sent to schools set up by Anglican, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic bodies to give these children a practical education and teach them how to merge into mainstream society and be accountable for their personal interests, Canada has accepted its guilt and prostrated itself before its accusers.

Initially, many Aboriginals who had gone through that educational system had come forward to describe their personal experiences as invaluable to the advancement of their futures, in teaching them skills to look after themselves. Their perceptions were swiftly over ruled by many more coming forward claiming to have been oppressed and subjected to shaming, threats and violence, including sexual violence. Bringing to mind the cultural practise in Great Britain at a matching time in history when wealthy families sent their children to boarding schools to be taught and schooled in British traditions. Young men taken from their families from age 5 to young adulthood often spoke of being bullied and sexually maltreated, usually at the hands of older students.

In Canada, the Residential Schools were accused of cultural genocide, of depriving Indian children of their heritage, of alienating them from their history, their culture, the traditions and languages. Most of the modern ills of the current generation of Aboriginal children are laid at the feet of the larger earlier generations' experience of the Residential Schools, said to have traumatized those who attended, so that they had no idea how to raise children of their own and therefore neglected and abused them. When in point of fact many of the children who were taken to the residential school projects had been neglected and abused.

Now, when alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and crime occurs within Aboriginal communities it is largely attributed to the wholesale trauma experienced through the residential schools, communicated throughout the entire community in the creation of mass dysfunction. So a disinterest in guiding children and endowing them with values, encouraging their educations, is missing. The high suicide rate among young Aboriginals resulting from the general anomie and dysfunction of families and tribes in isolated traditional communities, all attributed to the generational effects of the residential schools.

The Assembly of First Nations' chiefs along with regional chiefs resists any initiative that would replace the Indian Act and allow First Nations like any other citizens of the country to be responsible for themselves, to integrate into the larger Canadian community, to be independent instead of relying on government financing of reserves, housing and a total way of life pretending to be traditional, in isolated areas of the country where the AFN insists that education and medical services should be equal to those found in any large  urban area making a mockery of the traditions, heritage and nationhood of First Nations.

Accusing white society of abusing and violating First Nations people rather than recognizing that among First Nations people themselves a dreadful situation exists of self-harm, of violence perpetrated one upon the other, of neglect of children's needs producing a cohort of children taken into public custodial protection far disproportionate to their numbers in society, equalling the disproportionate number of Aboriginals in prisons as a product of the incapacity of First Nations to govern themselves, socially, culturally and politically, but all is blamed on the white colonialist majority.

When Aboriginal youth commit crimes there is a certain degree of impunity where police hesitate to look too deeply into the proliferation of petty crimes knowing that charges of racism will rain down on their heads. When justice is meted out, consideration must be given to the deprivated backgrounds of First Nations perpetrators. Whenever white farmers in rural areas deplore the prevalence of thievery and damage to private property they too are charged with racism. And those charges stick. For to criticize First Nations is to court disparaging condemnation as a racist, effectively silencing those who would like to help effect a conciliatory agreement between the two solitudes.

Until First Nations groups decide to take responsibility for themselves and stop blaming everyone else for their misfortunes they will not face their own shortcomings. And it is long past time that they do so, for the furtherance of their own futures and those of their children.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Reforming a Deleterious Food Culture : Then Reversing It

"It was a hard-fought guerrilla war. People have a right to know what these food companies are putting in this trash and with this legislation, I think Chile has made a huge contribution to humanity."
"Sugar kills more people than terrorism and car accidents combined. It's the poison of our time."
Senator Guido Girardi, vice-president, Chilean Senate

"I never really paid attention to labels."
"But now they kind of force you to pay attention. And if I don't notice, my kids do."
Patricia Sanchez, 32, accountant

"Originally we didn't believe the logos would make much of a difference, but in focus groups, we've discovered that kids really do look at them."
"They'll say, 'Mom, this has so many logos I can't bring them to school. My teacher won't allow it'."
Dr. Camila Corvalan, University of Chile
This product sold in a supermarket carries the labels required by law to show the levels of calories, sugars and fats, in Santiago, Chile, June 27, 2016   Associated Press

Across the globe, countries rich and poor have been struggling with the reality of rising rates of obesity in their populations, and lock-step with a hugely overweight population comes strains on any health care system alongside an increasingly troublesome mortality rate as diseases such as diabetes, heart and stroke take their toll in association with a public so accustomed to fast food outlets proliferating with cheap, non-nutritious food heavy in fat, sugar and salt that they imperil themselves.

And as governments begin to realize that processed food manufacturers have lured consumers with their public relations ploys and clever advertising marketed to grasp the attention of the most vulnerable, their efforts at persuading giant food corporations to diminish the assault on consumers' appetites has had minimum success. Chile prepared itself to take a more aggressive approach rather than rely on compliance on the part of processed food manufacturers.

Its soaring obesity rates have sounded a panic bell. Up to the late 1980s Chile faced a different kind of problem, where widespread malnutrition among poor Chileans, children in particular, was their nightmare. At the present time in Chile, an estimated three-quarters of adults are considered to be overweight or obese, according to the nation's ministry of health statistics. Childhood obesity in particular shows rates that rival the world's highest. Over fifty percent of six-year-old children are overweight or obese in Chile.

The strains on the health system are acute, with the medical costs of obesity reaching $800-million in 2016, representing 2.4 percent of all spending on the nation's health care file. This is a figure projected by analysts to reach close to four percent by 2030. These statistics and the fact that they will only increase finally spurred the Chilean government to unleash marketing restrictions, mandatory packing redesigns and labelling rules in hopes of achieving a social transformation.
Customers stand in line at a fast food restaurant in Santiago, Chile, June 22, 2016.
Customers stand in line at a fast food restaurant in Santiago, Chile, June 22, 2016.

Experts in nutrition recognize the measures as the world's most ambitious effort to refurbish an entire nation's food culture to save the population from itself. Should it succeed, it could represent a model for other countries with similar problems to turn around their obesity epidemic contributing to four million premature deaths annually resulting from the global emergency of obesity. "It's hard to overstate how significant chile's actions are -- or how hard it has been to get there in the face of the usual pressures", commented Stephen Simpson, director of the Charles Perkins Centre, representing scholars focused on nutrition and obesity science and policy.

Chile's food law was put into motion two years ago, forcing multinationals like Kellogg to abandon their iconic cartoon characters so attractive to children. Cereal boxes loaded with sugar are now absent those child-centric cartoons. Kinder Surprise candies have been banned from using trinkets to attract children. Chilean schools are now prohibited from selling junk food like perennial favourites, ice cream, chocolate and potato chips. Television programs aimed at children may no longer advertise these products.

In an effort to persuade Chilean mothers that breastfeeding is the best option for healthy babies, a ban on marketing infant formula will be initiated this coming spring. Chile has mounted an 18 percent tax on beverages high in sugar. A new labelling system has been instituted requiring packaged food companies to include black warning logos prominently in the shape of a stop sign on any packaged foods high in sugar, salt, calories or saturated fat.
Candy store owner Sofia Rumpf attends a customer in Santiago, Chile, June 24, 2016 photo.
 Candy store owner Sofia Rumpf attends a customer in Santiago, Chile, June 24, 2016 photo.

Chilealimentos, an industry association, is fighting back. Its director states the new nutrition labels are confusing and "invasive", the marketing restrictions based on a scientifically flawed correlation between consumers' weight gains and the promotion of unhealthy foods. "We believe that the best way to approach the problem of obesity is through consumer education that changes people's habits", he stated rather piously, given that the advertisements used by his industry have already achieved that end.

Over 1,400 food items representing 20 percent of all food products sold in Chile have been reformulated since the law was enacted, according to AB Chile, a food industry association. Coca-Cola initiated an advertising campaign for new Sprite and Fanta versions with the tag line "Free of Logos, Equally Rich" reflecting that those drinks no longer contain warning labels since half the sugar has been replaced by artificial sweetener. Raising other alarm flags.

A Kinder Surprise company executive from Italy and the Italian ambassador to Chile accused Dr. Jaime Burrows Oyarzun, the vice-minister of public health, of waging "food terrorism", during a trip to his office. Managing director at Ferrero, Mauro Russo, claimed Chile's law had been erroneously applied to Kinder Surprise, since the toy is an intrinsic part of the treat and certainly not to be mistaken for a "promotional gadget", as the law would have it. "Kinder Surprise's impact on obesity is very marginal", he insisted.

Chile's current president who lent himself to the new consumer-protective food laws is due to step down from the presidency. His successor is the former president, recently re-elected to the office, a conservative businessman who during his first term in office, vetoed the food bill in 2011. His incoming administration had formerly backed a nutrition initiative financed by multinational food companies emphasizing healthy recipes, exercise and moderation related to junk food.

The incoming president's intention, noted a spokesperson, would be to take a second look at the law, to explore ways "to improve it", once he takes office. His wife had led the campaign financed by the multinational food companies. "We don't need more taxes", she said recently.

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