Monday, April 30, 2018

Kim Jong Un's Volte-Face

"Today we saw Kim Jong Un's charm offensive in action."
"He's exerting his influence and trying to grab the spotlight with a big smile. But behind that smile, he was wearing his game face."
Duyeon Kim, visiting fellow, Korean Peninsula Future Forum, Seoul

"We will work to make sure that the agreement bears good results, by closely communicating to ensure that the failure to implement North-South agreements in the past will not be repeated."
North Korean President Kim Jong Un

"This is a great start and should be cause for cautious optimism."
"The public conversation should now shift from speculation on whether North Korea would consider denuclearization to how South Korea and the United States can advance this denuclearization pledge in concrete steps."
Patrick McEachern, fellow, Wilson Center, Washington

"Yes, there are still questions about how to guarantee North Korea's security on the path to denuclearization."
"But I'm surprised they would go this far at this early stage, that Kim Jong Un didn't save this for his meeting with Trump."
John Delury, professor of international relations, Yonsei University, Seoul
The pair met for historic face-to-face talks in Panmunjom. Picture: Korea Broadcasting System via AP
The pair met for historic face-to-face talks in Panmunjom. Picture: Korea Broadcasting System via APSource:AP

Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator who relishes roiling the international community, enjoys ordering the gruesome deaths of those he thinks conspire to unseat his rule, exults in his scientists and technology mastering the arcane art of mass destruction, enabling him to threaten his perceived enemies, is at this time in the history of the Korean Peninsula, being treated like a rock star. Breathless news reports extol his bold new moves in pacifying a region he has sent into atmospheric turmoil.

Gushing stories relating to breaking new diplomatic ground and hopes for a future free of violence and threats of doomsday scenarios all emanating from this volatile, juvenile delinquent describe him now in heroic terms, courageously seeking a new relationship with his South Korean counterparts, his generosity of spirit saving millions of lives by one fell swoop; that of forsaking his nuclear and ICBM state programs whose achievements have given him huge delight.

Is he pioneering a brave new horizon? Or have his familial predecessors been down this elusive road before? With the very same hopes and promises, linked to substantial bribes to sweeten the pot of follow-through. His statement spoke of implementing North-South agreements for pacification and normalization, but he places blame on their previous failures on the South and that the North must be vigilant to ensure no failure occurs this time around.

How hopeful does that sound for reconciliation and the capacity to resolve a problem of opposing ideologies, of brutal threats, violence and misery all emanating from the North toward a conciliatory South? The closure of the North's nuclear installations has already been mandated by nature in the collapse of the mountain whose stability has been nuclearized by the imprudent place of those facilities in an unstable region.

Kim's thirst for plaudits, his impulsive, childish nature of psychopathic bullying and his lack of any kind of empathy for the North Koreans whose lives he has impoverished, living a tormented and threatened existence of starvation and imprisonment all reflect his lack of conscience and demented, power-hungry grasp for recognition as a great and impressive ruler. His threats to the world order supported by China's need for the North to create a buffer zone, reflect his psychotic nature.

The hope that has been invested in the surface surrender by this erratic and dangerous man to the greater good of his natural beneficence winning the battle of his personality to emerge as someone with whom the free world and South Korea can depend upon to recognize his responsibility to his nation and the rest of the international community may be seen to be displaced. Yet, we can hope and many do.

The primary question is how long he will choose to mothball his ultimate aspirations? "South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and co-operation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", read the Panmunjom Declaration.

Time will tell -- whether this is a new initiative and a turning point, or a tired replay.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Electric Urban Transit

"This segment [of public transportation and fuel effluent] is approaching the tipping point."
"City governments all over the world are being taken to task over poor urban air quality. This pressure isn't going away, and electric bus sales are positioned to benefit."
Colin Mckerracher, head, advanced transport, Bloomberg LP, London

"Everyone was laughing at BYD for making a toy. And look now. Everyone has one."
"The first fleet of pure electric buses provided by BYD started operation in Shenzhen in 2011. Now, almost ten years later, in other cities the air quality has worsened while -- compared with those cities -- Shenzhen's is much better."
"The technology is ready. We are ready, we have our plants in China and Alexander Dennis in Scotland is geared up for TfL."
"Once we're given the word, we are ready to go."
Isbrand Ho, managing director in Europe, BYD Co., Shenzhen, China
Photo: BYD Co.

China was in such a hurry to industrialize, to become the world's leading manufacturing base, to flood world markets with its products, to employ as many of its young men as possible, to haul its vast population base out of poverty, that its coal-fired furnaces and huge smokestacks located in all its metropolises, belched out particulate matter, creating stifling smog blocking out the sun, industrial chemical effluent released into rivers, lakes and streams, making for incredibly polluted environments on its way to success, it was hard to believe it would ever seriously contemplate cleaning up its act.

Now, however, it appears as though China's Communist-led government is serious indeed, and is becoming the world's leader in clean energy pioneering. Seven years ago the Chinese BYD Co. produced an early model of an electric bus and became a laughing stock internationally. Now, battery-powered motors in buses are taken seriously as a revolutionary solution to municipal transport. China is leading the world in trading the smog-belching diesels to those running on electricity and reducing its demand for fossil fuels.

In 2015 alone according to Berkley Earth, Chinese smog so impaired the health of the Chinese population that 1.5 million deaths resulted. Its growing urban population and energy demand led to the world's worst urban problems with pollution. The city of Shenzhen represented an example of a typical Chinese city whose industry was booming, with little consideration given to the environment, resulting from the notorious, sickening presence of smog. Which led the central government to select it for a pilot energy conservation program in 2009.
Photo: BYD Co.

There are few laggards in China; everyone is anxious to get the job done whatever that job happens to be, because China is always in a hurry to get things done. In two years' time the first of the electric buses came out of BYD's production line and by December all of its 16,359  buses were electric. BYD placed 14,000 electric vehicles in Shenzhen alone, of the 35,000 it has built to date with a capacity to build up to 15,000 annually, giving it 13 percent of the country's electric bus market.

Ten billion miles have been logged, according to BYD estimates, with a saving of 1.8 billion gallons of fuel.  Now, Paris, London, Mexico City and Los Angeles are all committed among 13 authorities, to buying only zero-emission transports by 2025. Four routes in London at the present time are serviced by single-decker units in the city centre, powered by electricity. Plans are in the works to retrofit 5,000 old diesel buses to meet an emission-free standard by 2037.

Should London's entire fleet turn to electric, 430 barrels of diesel fuel a day for each of 1,000 buses turning electric will be displaced and U.K. diesel consumption will be reduced by 0.7 percent, compared to its current network drawing 1.5 million barrels of fuel yearly. In 2017 across the U.K. 344 electric and plug-in hybrid buses were operating. BYD is awaiting the opportunity to supply more of them, partnering with a Scottish bus-producer to provide batteries.

As for China, in 2017, it had close to 99 percent of 385,000 electric buses worldwide, accounting for 17 percent of the country's entire fleet. Cities in China add 9,500 electric buses every five weeks, representing the equivalent of London's entire working fleet. About 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel is displaced for every thousand battery-powered buses on the road. The volume of fuel buses taken off market may rise 37 percent to 279,000 barrels daily this year.

Line of buses
The extensive use of new energy buses not only protect the ecological environment of  Luohe City, but also meet the requirements of building a national health city and a civilized city, but also can effectively reduce the cost of vehicles,’ Gao Jizhou, director of Transportation Bureau of Luohe City   Clean Technica

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Friday, April 27, 2018


Apr 25
East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer Identified and in custody: Joseph James Deangelo (72)

"Everyone was afraid."
"We had people sleeping with shotguns, we had people purchasing dogs. People were concerned, and they had a right to be."
"This guy was terrorizing the community. He did horrible things."
Special FBI Agent Marcus Knutson, Sacramento

"The magnitude of this case demanded that it be solved."
"We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we also knew that needle was there. We found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento."
"The answer was always going to be in the DNA."
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert

"He was young -- anywhere from 18 to 30. Caucasian, and athletic, capable of eluding capture by jumping roofs and vaulting tall fences."
"To zero in on a victim he often entered the home beforehand when no one was there, learning the layout, studying family pictures, and memorizing names."
"He disabled porch lights and unlocked windows. He emptied bullets from guns. He hid shoelaces or ropes under cushions to use as ligatures."
Michelle McNamara, crime writer, Los Angeles magazine profile

"I have just been overjoyed, ecstatic. It's an emotional roller-coaster right now."
"I feel like I'm in the middle of a dream and I'm going to wake up and it's not going to be true."
Jane Carson-Sandler, assaulted by the "East Area Rapist" in 1976

In 2015 the FBI and California officials offered a $50,000 reward in their renewed search for the East Area Rapist, looking for any clues to his identity that had been overlooked in the original investigation dating back to the 1970s and 80s. The elusive criminal was linked to over 175 crimes between 1976 and 1986. He was named the East Area Rapist in Northern California, the Original Night Stalker in Southern California killings and the Diamond Knot Killer reflecting a binding on two victims. Last of all he was named the Golden State Killer.

Authorities had no idea that all these names referred to a single psychopath, a man who started out his psychotic, violent career with rapes and graduated to murder. He roamed across the vast state of California committing vicious crimes and in each part of the state, garnering a different reputation attributed to a different individual in various parts of California.

It wasn't until DNA tests linked all the crimes in the early 2000s that police realized the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker were one and the same individual. His last victim was an 18-year-old woman whom he bludgeoned to death in 1986. After that there were no further activities and no hint of who the killer might be, much less where he was. This man's deadly escapades became a horror of a cold case.

He had, throughout the course of his dreadful rampages, killed a dozen people and raped 45 women, the youngest 13 years old, brutally raped in her home while her father and a sister slept in their bedrooms. Forty years have passed since his last atrocity, the murder of Janelle Cruz. Now, her murderer has been identified and arrested. DNA evidence led police to Joseph James DeAngelo who was booked early Wednesday on four counts of murder in Sacramento and Ventura counties.

Before the discovery of his identity, police had felt that someone they called the Golden State Killer might have been involved in law enforcement; either that, or it was someone who had developed a keen interest in law enforcement techniques. And no doubt, those very techniques were an aid to this man who had in fact been a member of the Sacramento County police force between 1973 and 1979.
The suspect faces charges in the 1978 killings of Katie and Brian Maggiore.
The suspect faces charges in the 1978 killings of Katie and Brian Maggiore.

Ironically, this mass rapist and murderer was fired from the Auburn police department when he was arrested for the crime of theft. He stole a can of dog repellent and a hammer from a drugstore. The thousands of tips received by law enforcement agents over the years failed to help identify this man who raped dozens of women in their homes, planning intrusions whether the women were alone or in the home with their families.

In the first rape he undertook on a 1976 summer night he raped a young woman in east Sacramento County, and then left the scene. Weeks later he repeated the violent intrusion and repeated and repeated it until two dozen women had been attacked. The victim of his 44th attack was a 13-year-old whom he raped at knifepoint, telling her he would kill her if she revealed what he'd done, and then slipped away through the family's backyard.

He killed married couples, and began a killing spree from Sacramento to Southern California. He is now 72 years old, and will stand trial for the dreadful crimes he committed. His arrest and conviction will be of no comfort to those whose lives he took, nor the families that loved them. There will be no justice for them. For 40 years he lived a comfortable life, married, had children, enjoyed grandchildren.

The home of accused rapist and killer Joseph James DeAngelo in Citrus Heights, California, after his arrest. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Aspirational Terrorism

"When carrying out violent attacks, terrorists, especially those in the West, are increasingly adopting low-sophistication, low-resource means of committing high-impact violent acts."
"This is evident in the repeated use of vehicles and knives in terrorist attacks, particularly in Europe."
2017 Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, Public Safety Canada

"It is low-cost, low-tech, terrorizing and almost impossible to defend against."
"The broader truth is that the use of vehicular attacks by terrorists has spawned not only copy-cat attacks by other terrorists and those inspired by terrorist causes, but copy-cat attacks by individuals driven by other motivations and causes outside of terrorism."
It is a terrible cycle of violence." 
"But they [risk-mitigation measures] can only be deployed in limited spaces so long as urban environments continue to feature a lot of vehicular traffic. Maybe the city of the future will be different, but we are a long way from that."
"And mitigation measures can be a double-edged sword, as they can simply divert a determined attacker from one site to another."
Wesley Wark, national security expert, University of Ottawa
Police are seen near a damaged van believed to be the vehicle that crashed into a number of pedestrians on busy Yonge Street in the north of the city/ (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

"Such responses should aim to be proportionate to the risk faced and seek to avoid a fortress or barrier mentality in public spaces."
"How our public places are designed tells us a lot about the type of society we are and the one we wish to live in."
"Experiences from around the world, from cities which have responded to malicious vehicle attacks by the embedding of swaths of security bollards into the landscape and the deployment of armed security guards, indicates that sometimes our responses to attack can be more effective at instilling a sense of fear into the public and undermine the freedom of movement that is the lifeblood of cities."
Jon Coaffee, professor of urban geography, University of Warwick, director, Resilient Cities Lab

The vehicular homicide attack that hit North Toronto deliberately killing ten people on a busy thoroughfare blighted the city's sense of confidence and peacefulness on a lovely, sunny spring day. The fourteen people who were gravely injured by the blunt force trauma of an impact between a soft target and the rigid, powerful frame of a van driven at high speed onto sidewalks to target innocent people will live to recall that day when they were in the wrong place at the right time.

The city, still reeling from the blunt force trauma of having their belief in themselves as a population of varied individuals, all living in harmony and security, will come to terms with the new reality that what happens elsewhere in the world to wrench ordinary people out of their relationship with a life taken for granted has not bypassed them. When Israel began experiencing knife-and-vehicle attacks and warned the world that it was the canary-in-the-mine, it was hard to believe.

But Europe now knows of a certainty that this new, low-tech, readily-accessible weapon of mass destruction has travelled and installed itself to disrupt the serenity of everyday life when with no warning a bolt of energy can strike with ferocious results, killing people instantly on contact, and wounding many others, leaving them maimed in spirit and body. If the attack that took place in Toronto on Monday afternoon resulted from a warped mind, is it any less a terrorist attack?
"We had family members in our family-information room who didn't know if their loved one was alive in our ICU, or dead at the scene. It was extremely difficult to deal with that -- the uncertainty the anxiety, the lack of information ... The problem is we couldn't give them the answer, because we didn't know. That was a unique situation."
"It was the whole spectrum of injuries: head injuries, internal bleeding, spine injuries, extremity bone fractures, punctured lungs."
"I would say that panic is not anything that can happen, because if you [as health professionals] panic or get too agitated, things just don't go so well. Obviously, it's difficult to see families in so much pain, because their loved ones are so badly injured. But at the time, you just focus on the task at hand."
Dr. Fred Brenneman, trauma surgeon, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto region main trauma centre
A coroner waits to remove a dead body from the sidewalk at the scene of the fatal van attack Monday. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

All of this grief and pain the psychotic result of a 25-year-old loner, Alek Minassian, a resident of Richmond Hill just north of Toronto. A man whose socially awkward personality left him devoid of friends. A man with so peculiar a sociopathic personality that he could find no woman to share his life with. A man who admitted he had a fear of women. A man who resented women, and who was part of an online club of men angry that women failed to recognize their value and shunned them for some strange reason.

None stranger, perhaps, than that when news of the gruesome atrocity committed by one of their group reached the ears and eyes of others sharing this man's misogynistic pathology, they cheered his exploit on behalf of their 'cause', taking pleasure in the fact that their emissary had succeeded in killing ten people, mostly women, and severely injuring another fourteen.
"Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161."
"The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!"
"All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!"
Mass murderer, Alek Minassian

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Magnitude of Injustice

"Mr. Bostic should get a chance to show that crimes he committed at 16 do not define him."
"The [American] Constitution demands nothing less."
"[Bostic], who committed only nonhomicide offenses as a 16 year old, will never be fit to rejoin society, no matter how successfully he demonstrates maturity and reform as an adult."
American Civil Liberties Union

"I hope this will be a message to the other young men and women out there."
"You made your choice, and you're gonna die with your choice. Because Bobby Bostic -- you will die in the Department of Corrections."
 Judge Evelyn Baker, original trial, 1997

"I thought I was faulting Bostic for his crimes. Looking back, I see that I was punishing him both for what he did and for his immaturity."
"I am now retired, and I deeply regret what I did. While I did not technically give him 'life without parole', I placed on his shoulders a prison term of so many years combined that there is no way he will ever be considered for release."
"He won't become eligible for parole until he is 112 years old -- which means he will die in prison, regardless of whether he rehabilitates himself or changes as he grows older."
"This is the only one [criminal sentencing case] where I regret the amount of time I gave [in her 25-year career as a judge]. The amount of time is ridiculous."
Judge Evelyn Baker, April 2018
Bobby Bostic in 2017
Bobby Bostic in 2017

"Reality set in the very moment I was given 241 years, and she told me I would die in prison. When that happens, the world drops, and reality sets in. It's no longer a game. Your life has just been taken away. That's when I got the wake-up call."
"[The prison was] complete chaos. It was predator versus prey. You had to try and fit in. If you didn't, people would do all types of things. You had to be a man at an early age - or try to be a man."
"I got into a few fights. That's going to happen to anybody. You're going to get tested, because you're new. I was a young guy, I had to prove myself. You do that through fighting."
"They [victims' advocate class] teach you from the start of the crime, to the end of the crime, what victims go through."
"When I committed my crime, I never realised who my victims were, or what they were doing. The courses teach you how to put a face on the victims. They teach you empathy, and to realise they're people with rights."
"You learn about the trauma they experience; how to help them heal. Knowing that my actions caused all this trauma, I took it more to heart. I took it personally. I created victims."
"Ignorance is [now] the order of the damn prison. The youngsters lie around. There's no studying or reading. When I came in, we used to read, study. Nowadays, that doesn't exist: it's just TV and games. Everything is a game now."
Bobby Bostic, 39, wrongfully sentenced
Born in St.Louis, Missouri, accustomed to life as an underprivileged young Black, Bobby Bostic hung out with other shiftless young men, with no interest in school, hanging out in gangs, using alcohol and drugs, exposed to no value system other than their own interests in petty crime. On a single day at age 16 he and a friend decided that people delivering Christmas gifts to needy people near his neighbourhood would make perfect victims.

Both he and his friend carried guns. Young Bostic fired one of those guns, a bullet grazing one of the victims during the commission of the robbery. Both young boys were arrested and both refused a plea deal offering them a 30 year sentence. Bobby had spoken to his step-father, a criminal who spent years in prison, for advice, and the advice he got was to refuse the plea deal. Who wouldn't want to? Offering a 16-year-old a 'bargain' 30 years in jail?

Good fortune simply wasn't with Bostic. He made an unfortunate impression on the presiding judge who took exception to his casual air of entitlement and lack of remorse for his actions. She felt he was entirely too arrogant, and seeing the man in the boy felt he didn't deserve to be released any time soon into the general public. And so she worked up the absolute harshest sentence conceivable to give a 16-year-old; virtual living death.

For each of the offences he was charged with 17 counts in total, inclusive of eight counts of armed criminal action and three of robbery, she sentenced him to a total of 241 years in prison; cruel and unusual punishment by any accounting. His lawyers argued that eligibility for parole in 112 years represented a violation of the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

How a judge, impartially meting out justice could arrive at such a punishment, considering the crimes committed and the age of the accused is beyond understanding.

Now retired, she has had a change of heart. Now that the child has become a man, reformed entirely in his outlook on life and adoption of values, and who has already served a sentence commensurate with homicide. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley however, opposed the appeal, referencing a 2010 Supreme Court ruling outlawing life sentences for those under 18 whose crimes did not include murder applied to a one-crime sentence, not consecutive sentences; specious reasoning if ever any qualified as such.

Unbelievably, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has seen fit to turn down Bobby Bostic's appeal. Absolutely stunning, a decision more fitting to a barbaric tyranny than a great democracy.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Truth and Consequences in Islam

"We know from conflicts around the world that we can't have any sustainable peace if we don't have accountability."
"The most critical thing to understand in that situation is who is being killed and who is doing that killing, and without that information we can't expect the people involved in resolving this conflict to come to the right decisions."
Anna Nolan, director, The Syria Campaign human rights advocacy group

"We are doing this mainly for our people, for our community, for history. We are recording these reports in order to say, on this day, in 2018, these people have been killed and because of this, and in this area."
"We don't want to lose any one life."
"[There are] tens of incidents daily [that raise the death toll]."
Fadel Abdul Ghany, founder, Syrian Network for Human Rights 

"We often talk about these numbers, whether it's 400,000 or 500,000, but it's also about the trauma that is behind each of these numbers."
"It has become almost mechanical, the number."
"It's really just a cold figure, but behind it are lives."
Panos Moumtzis, United Nations assistant secretary general
Credit: Sam Tarling, Getty Images

13 victims
SNHR - Death Toll

16 April 2018

SNHR documented the death of 13 civilians, including 2 children and 2 women, at the hands of Syrian Regime forces and Other parties, on Monday, April 16, 2018, as follow:
Syrian Regime forces: 6 civilians
Other parties: 7 civilians, including 2 children and 2 women

The slaughter of Syrian Sunnis continues at the hands of the Alawite Baathist Shiite regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Enormously aided by Russia, by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, by Iranian-linked Shiite militias. Without their support Assad would long have been forced to retreat, found haven elsewhere, leaving Syria to the majority Sunni population to administer. Little did they know, seven years ago, when protests broke out in a Sunni-majority Damascus suburb that such an enormous death toll would result from a plea for equal treatment.

The protesters soon understood when children writing defiance of Assad on the exterior wall of their school were arrested, tortured and killed, and anyone protesting was rounded up, imprisoned and 'questioned' under torture, that this was not viewed as mere protesting, but rather the actions of a 'terrorist' group, and they were the 'terrorists' against whom Assad ordered his military to react. And react they did, with helicopter gunships, barrel bombs and chemical attacks. Even so as the rebel groups assembled their militias and fought back, without foreign intervention they would have prevailed.

"Would have", "If only", "Could have", and "Might have" never won wars, unfortunately. The numbers of dead swiftly piled up. The punishing destruction of entire city suburbs, the movement of half the entire population of the country away from bombs and death, left millions displaced internally and millions more as refugees living in squalid refugee camps externally which offered haven from immediate death, and the bare minimum for survival, but little hope of return.
Staffan de Mistura, on the screen at left, delivered remarks via video link to the United Nations Security Council on Monday. Two years ago, Mr. de Mistura estimated that 400,000 people had died in the war. Credit Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

The entry to the conflict zone of a country destroying itself, of foreign terrorist groups led eventually to the presence of al-Qaeda and then Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with its nightmarish cult of death. This was Islam eating itself from its interior to its exterior, destroying lives with abandon, taking inspiration from the Koran to slaughter Yazidi men, capture the women and children and take them into slavery and sex bondage. All of this enabled by Bashar al-Assad's fixation on destroying his Sunni citizens.

Could a more hideous, nightmarish fate befall a people than to have their government explicitly target them for extinction? Totally destroying the Sunni Syrians in a bitterly vicious sectarian war that takes no prisoners that will survive their interrogation and torture. Ongoing death as people suffer through starvation sieges to break their spirits and offer privation before a lingering death. The United Nations, which once tabulated these assaults and tabled frequent death toll reports no longer does.

In 2014, two years before the UN stopped attempting to keep abreast of the death toll, the figure they issued was 400,000 deaths. The catastrophic annihilation of rebellious Sunni Syrians has focused the world's attention, but as with any events of unimaginable breadth and depth of human rights violations the very magnitude of the situation begins to exert a numbing effect and attention drifts elsewhere; little wonder Syrians feel they have been abandoned. Little wonder Europe feels it has been inundated with desperate people seeking haven.

Pity there has been no universal will to put a stop to the carnage. Even worse that Syria's neighbours did nothing to intervene, when the Arab League might have pursued avenues open to them. When the establishment of the State of Israel became a reality in 1947, the Arab League managed to persuade itself that a reaction was due, to destroy the nascent state, and so a five-nation attack took place in 1948. Arab armies now equipped with more technologically advanced weaponry evidently never felt the urge to assemble and remove Assad, preferring to wait for the West to solve another Middle East problem.

Now the problem is that Sunni Syrians no longer can aspire to return to their own country. Instead, they and economic migrants from Islamic nations in North Africa, all of which have failed as responsible governments, are content to watch as their citizens undertake dangerous journeys to invade Europe in hopes of finding a home for themselves there. In the process, their numbers ensuring an eventual majority, transforming Europe to a Muslim future which while destroying Europe's identity, will also destroy the kind of opportunity it once held out for those in distress.

A Syrian man evacuated an infant from the rebel-held town of Hamouria after heavy bombardment in February. As the seven-year Syria war drags on, growing more diffuse and complex, many international monitoring groups have stopped counting casualties. Credit Abdulmonam Eassa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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Monday, April 23, 2018

The Neutrality of the United Nations, of UNRWA, of Canada

"Obviously if you're a United Nations agency that is supposed to be politically neutral -- political neutrality is actually written into UNRWA's mandate -- and yet you're teaching on one side of the conflict that the other side of the conflict is going to inevitably lose and be destroyed and they should just keep fighting until it happens, that's very problematic."
"We would like to see Canada and the other Western donor countries work harder to end these problems with UNRWA."
"We think that especially at a time like this, when UNRWA is more desperate for money because of the American decision to cut some of the funding, that Canada and other Western donor countries should be banding together to demand change and to make sure that this money isn't being dumped into a bottomless pit of grievance and perpetuating the conflict."
Aiden Fishman, spokesperson, B'nai Brith Canada

"[UN Watch reported Canada's Global Affairs has] glossed over specific allegations against UNRWA, claiming that they were unfounded or had been addressed, without explaining why or how."
"There is copious evidence of Hamas rockets and military accessories being sheltered in the same UNRWA schools and health clinics which Canada is funding."
"[The] openly toxic [school] curriculum [promotes and glorifies terror against Israel]."
Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian ambassador to Israel
Palestinian youths jump through rings of fire during a military-style graduation ceremony after being trained at one of the Hamas-run Liberation Camps in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. Hamas's armed wing organized Liberation Youths Camps for young Palestinians aged between 15 and 21 to prepare them to ''confront any possible Israeli attack'', Hamas officials said. According to organizers, some 17,000 youths graduated from these camps.
More than six months after the end of the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian organisation relaunched Liberation Youth Camps for boys aged between 15 and 21.
Picture: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
It is beyond question that among teachers hired by UNRWA to teach in their schools anti-Semitism runs rampant. The curricula and the textbooks teach children that their highest aspirations should be 'resistance' against the 'occupation'. And the occupation is, in reality, any Jewish presence on Palestinian 'Arab land'. That no Jews in antiquity ever lived in the Middle East, and their presence is that of colonialists.

Of the estimated 750,000 Arab Palestinians that fled previous to the march on Israel of five Arab nation militaries intent on destroying the nascent state in 1948, UNRWA now counts five million Palestinians as refugees listed under its agency. The schools it operates in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria all use textbooks that paint the presence of Jews as an affront to Islam and a threat to peace.

Princeton scholar Arnon Groiss conducted a review in February of those textbooks and in them were found descriptions of Jews as aides of the devil, that no Jewish and historical religious links with Jerusalem ever existed, and the entirety of Israel is described as "occupied Palestine". All of which draw Palestinian children into the pathology of regarding the complete elimination of Israel as the solution to the current conflict between Jews and Arabs.

As for its part, Global Affairs Canada states: "Canada supports UNRWA in its ongoing efforts to improve neutrality within the Agency and its operations. Canadian funding has allowed UNRWA to engage a neutrality coordinator to monitor activities related to neutrality, lead the development of neutrality initiatives, respond to allegations of neutrality violations, and uphold UNRWA's neutrality."

Since Hamas authors the UNRWA curriculum in Gaza, as an example, and given that the Hamas charter clearly states its objective as the destruction of the State of Israel, it is hardly surprising that their school textbooks reflect their aspiration. Funding of UNRWA and the Palestinians also funds summer camps where young Palestinians are taught how to be effective fighters; their goal to kill Jews. So much for the U.N. values of 'human rights, tolerance, equality' etc.

As for neutrality on the part of the current Liberal-led Government of Canada, what to make of the just-concluded federal Liberal convention where the presence of Amin El-Maoued, the Head of Public Relations of the Palestine House appeared to reflect this government's penchant for allying itself with those of questionable reputation, just as an invitation had gone out to a Sikh-Canadian convicted of terrorism in the attempted murder of an Indian MP to an event along with Justin Trudeau on his India trip.
April 20, 2018 - Amin El-maoued met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and MP Iqra Khalid. Photo: Facebook
On this occasion, Amin El-Maoued, invited to attend the Liberal convention, when previously he and
Iqra Khalid, the MP who had introduced the "Islamophobia" motion (Motion 103) in Parliament last year had met with Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna for the annual Land Day event held by the Palestine House on April 15, 2015 in Mississauga, Ontario. Archbishop Hanna supports the Syrian regime.

He also supports the Palestinian intifada. He has posted on his Facebook page: "President Assad is a distinct Arab national person and history will record the name of this great leader who worked to foil the conspiracy against the state of Syria with the Arab Syrian Army and all the suns of the Syrian people ... President Assad is not a murderer or a butcher as some say and circulate.... We emphasize our solidarity with Syria, its President, government, people and army." 

Hello, Canada! Which values is your government lauding today?

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rare and Tragic

"That's why they call it an explosive decompression. It is extremely forceful. The differential in pressure, it's very, very significant."
"There's a fog that comes into the cabin. Papers, bags, coats, jackets, everything will head to the breach in the fuselage."
Nora Marshall, former National Transportation Safety Board investigator

"It's instantaneous and it's sustained over a period of time until the pressure inside the aircraft is equal to the pressure outside of the aircraft."
Richard Healing, former NTSB board member, president, Air Safety Engineering
This is the window that was shattered after a jet engine of a Southwest Airlines 737 blew out at altitude, resulting in the death of a woman who was nearly sucked of the plane on April 17. (Marty Martinez)
This is the window that was shattered after a jet engine of a Southwest Airlines 737 blew out at altitude, resulting in the death of a woman who was nearly sucked of the plane on April 17. (Marty Martinez)

The retired nurse, Peggy Phillips, who was among the three people on board Southwest Flight 1380 on Tuesday who courageously attempted to come to the aid of the unfortunate 43-year-old window-side passenger Jennifer Riordan whom a tremendous windstorm of pressure pulled out of her seat and through the shattered window of the Boeing 737-700 when one of its fans malfunctioned and an engine exploded, described what she had witnessed.

"Her seat belt was keeping her held down at the hips. The rest of her was outside the plane", said Ms. Phillips, a retired nurse on the flight. The horribly unfortunate victim's upper body was being violently flung against the plane's fuselage until the concerted effort of the three passengers succeeded in drawing her body back into the plane where they attempted to save her life, providing CPR.

The fan blade on the left engine, weakened by metal fatigue, and which was supposed to have been routinely tested according to the manufacturer's directions, but put on hold, broke loose, the result being engine debris flying everywhere and cracking the plane's window open beside Ms. Riordan's seat, where the immense pressure sucked her halfway out of the plane.

Cabin pressure is a vital issue which took decades for aircraft manufacturers to perfect, to deal with the enormous forces when a pressurized cabin reaches high altitudes. On their way to finding the solution the de Havilland Comet in the 1950s saw three planes and their passengers and crews destroyed over a period of a year when the stresses of pressurization on the square windows caused the fuselages to rupture.

There have been previous occasions when such catastrophic events occurred, when a man was pulled completely through the 10.5-inch by 16-inch opening to his death, even though another passenger made a Herculean effort to pull him back. An American Airlines plane flying at 11,750- feet above Ontario with 67 people aboard, saw its cargo door come off in 1972 but while the loss of pressure in the cargo hold collapsed part of the cabin floor the pilot was able to make an emergency landing and 11 people were injured, but no one died.

Planes flying at high altitudes rely on pressurized air in their cabin to enable people to breathe normally. M.I.T. aerospace professor John Hansman estimated the air flowing outside Southwest Flight 1380 would have generated from 800 to 1,000 pounds of force, more than sufficient to pull Jennifer Riordan out of the plane. She died of blunt impact trauma to the head, neck and torso, according to the medical examiner in Philadelphis where the plane made its emergency landing.
FAA orders more engine inspections after Southwest accident     Apr 20, 2018

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Really? Time Will Tell

"North Korea is expressing a commitment to a complete denuclearization. They are not presenting a condition that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of the American troops in South Korea."
"North Korea is only talking about the end of a hostile policy against it and then a security guarantee for the country."
President Moon Jae-in, South Korea
South Korea to seek formal peace agreement with North at upcoming summit
Images of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a South Korean news program on a video screen at the Seoul train station on April 18, 2018. (Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

South Korea has never stopped dreaming of re-unification. Which is to say the administration of South Korea. Re-unification would mean for the people of the South that their adversarial position with the North would come to an end, the separation of families would be over. The fear of unstable and unsettling events leading to violence and danger would become an episode of the past.

Threats emanating from the volatile Kim Jong Un would be set aside as a nightmare that the Koreas will have awakened from.

Not that these yearning dreams haven't surfaced before in the certitude that finally the belligerence will be set aside because the Kim dynasty at one point or another in their fragile relationship with the South and the West, has promised to reform. Those promises based on bribery, the provision of oil, food, financial support. And all of them, one after another, dashed as the North reverted to type once the ransom had been paid. Will it be different this time?

Kim Jong Un has demonstrated all the thoughtful restraint of a four-year-old dabbling in mud and delighting in the outcome, deliberately oblivious to the consequences of his impetuous and juvenile antics in testing new ballistic missiles and setting off newer iterations of nuclear devices. He appears to find great pleasure in causing fearful consternation among his neighbours when missiles are targeted toward Japan, or threats of reaching the American Pacific coast are made with great relish to the fear engendered.

The 'hostile' policy that North Korea responds to is a situation that exists mostly in the mind of a neurotic, paranoid man who feels insufficiently 'respected' and looks to achieve that elusive state of respect by actions unbecoming a sane adult capable of understanding how his policies of fear-mongering impact on those within range of his missiles.

South Korean soldiers stand guard in the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. On Wednesday, a high-ranking South Korean presidential official said they are considering renegotiating the peace agreement between North and South Korea. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

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The Ultimate Rationale: Determination and Survival Equal Iron Will

"Israel’s space programme includes the capability to build, operate and launch satellites into space. In 1988, only seven years after the programme was established, Israel launched its first satellite, Ofeq-1.1 At that time, only seven countries had demonstrated an indigenous capability to develop and launch satellites. Given the high costs and risks involved in undertaking such an ambitious national project, it might appear surprising that a small country like Israel – even taking into consideration its acute security needs – would take on such a burden. The Israeli leadership’s strategic rationale for doing so is not obvious, inviting further consideration of the country’s national-security decision-making and goals."
"Israel’s security concept is based on the understanding that it suffers from a significant quantitative inferiority against its rivals. To overcome this disadvantage, Israeli leaders have chosen to focus the country’s efforts on the development of a qualitative edge. One of the most significant elements of this strategy is the development of what has been called the country’s ‘Iron Wall’, a concept intended to convey to Israel’s enemies that the country is a regional power that cannot be defeated militarily.
Several aspects of Israel’s space programme contribute to the realisation of the Iron Wall concept. Firstly, Israel’s space programme provides significant tangible capabilities to deal with the threats imposed by Israel’s enemies. Secondly, and equally important, a national space programme that includes the ability to develop and launch satellites into space signals a high level of national capabilities. Israel’s achievements in space, whether civilian or military, project a clear message of national might. They emphasize the qualitative gap between Israel and its neighbours; contribute to the country’s accumulated achievements aimed at deterrence; and reinforce the image of the Iron Wall in the eyes of Israel’s enemies. All of this is accomplished without articulating an explicit military threat, which could provoke an unwanted chain reaction in the region."
Isaac Ben Israel, and Deganit Paikowsky,  Survival: Global Politics and Strategy August–September 2017 
The AMOS 3 satellite (Photo credit: Spacecom via Tsahi Ben-Ami/FLASH 90)
The AMOS 3 satellite (Photo credit: Spacecom via Tsahi Ben-Ami/FLASH 90)
Image result for israeli space program
If we're speaking deterrence and weaponry, it cannot be overlooked that the State of Israel has a nuclear arsenal, the only country in the Middle East that this can be said of. There is, of course, another country in the geography that aspires to match Israel's supremacy in having mastered the technology and designed nuclear devices. In Israel's case the nuclear arsenal serves as a kind of interior self-assurance that if all else fails ... but it is highly unlikely; in the realm of near impossibility that this weaponry was ever meant to, or ever will be used.

The same cannot be said for the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country whose ayatollahs and its Islamic Republican Guard Corps has been involved in training and arming terrorist groups and using them for the purpose for which they were formed; bellicose threats, violent attacks and conflicts enabling the Republic to widen its sphere of influence, though it is a relative minority sect within greater Islam, and even in the Middle East geography where Sunni Islam predominates. Iran's not-so-secret yet covert activities are geared toward the destruction of Israel, and at the same time the command of the Middle East.

At the present time, Iran represents Israel's greatest existential threat, with its support for Hezbollah its proxy militia group, and Hamas which administers Gaza, both of which are terrorist groups, both of which have the foundational belief that they are capable of administering the fatal blows that will destroy the presence of Israel. It is a fearsome combination of unalloyed hatred that Israel faces; Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran arrayed against it as absolute and dedicated hostile enemies who will never be placated by any overtures Israel might take to prove it has no hostile intentions against them.

Since its declaration in 1947 of an independent Jewish state reborn from ancient Judea, Israel has had to face the violent enmity of surrounding Arab populations. From the time of its immediate formation to the final, 1967 war mounted by Syria and Egypt against it, the tiny state was forced to defend itself from the determination of its neighbours to destroy its presence. Each time, from 1947 onward that Israel succeeded in routing the combined armies of its neighbours bent on its destruction it seemed a miracle that an outnumbered, tiny state could succeed in defending itself.

Israel planned from its very inception, on looking reality in the face; that it would need to inspire in its people an 'iron wall' of resistance and determination against greater numbers that would never be satisfied to accept the presence of a Jewish state. That iron wall in reality reflected an iron will to succeed in the re-establishment of Israel in the very place where three thousand years ago Jews lived and thrived and practised their monotheistic religion, only to see it co-opted by an Arab merchant in the 7th Century as the basis of a religion that he visualized would sweep the Bedouin population into conquest of the known world.

From then to the present not much has changed; Islam remains mired in its mission of creep-and-conquest, using the jihad of creeping numbers in invasions of immigrants and refugees into Europe and beyond, and the violence of terrorism when patience in awaiting overwhelming demographics runs thin, and the urge to commit mayhem and mass slaughter overwhelms the consciousness of the dedicated faithful to commit to martyrdom to further the cause of the universal caliphate. Whereas Israel has got on with its mission to present as a haven for Jews, to commit itself to a democratic order of equality and to benefit the world order by its presence and its standards of excellence in innovation, science and technology.

And while the world beats a path to Israel's threshold, eager to share in its inventive spirit and to take advantage of the enterprise of its society -- leading the world in research on a wide number of life-affirming fronts, it also continues to view Jews, and the presence of Israel on that world stage as a questionable anomaly in its differences, much less its ongoing struggle for survival within the landscape of Arab nations continually at war with one another. It takes a collective iron will to shrug off constant criticism and hostility even from purported friendly nations.

And in all indices of survival and contributions to the world at large Israel is succeeding to an amazing degree; all it takes is an iron will.

Israel rocket launchLaunch of an Israeli Shavit rocket via Wikimedia Common

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Closet British Anti-Semites Unleashed

"I have never felt as nervous and frightened as I feel today at being a Jew. It feels that my party has given permission for anti-Semitism to go unchallenged."
"Anti-Semitism is making me an outsider in my Labour party. To that, I simply say enough is enough."
Dame Margaret Hodge, London, House of Commons

"I have no words for the people who purport to be both members and supporters of our party, who use that hashtag, JC4PM, who attacked me in recent weeks for speaking at the rally ... who said I should be de-selected. They have called me Judas, a Zio-Nazi, and told me to go back to Israel."
"We have a duty to the next generation. Denial is not an option. Prevarication is not an option. Being a bystander who turns the other way is not an option. The time for action is now."
"People have accused me of having two masters, they have said I am ‘Tel Aviv’s servant,’ they have called me a paid up Israeli operative, essentially anti-Semitism of the worst kind suggesting I am a traitor to this country. [I will] make no apology for holding my party to higher standards, even one anti-Semitic member of the Labour Party is one member too many."
"Anti-racism is one of our essential values and there was a time not long ago when the left actively confronted anti-Semitism. It pains me to say this in 2018 that within the Labour Party anti-Semitism is now more commonplace, is more conspicuous and is more corrosive."
Luciana Berger, British Labour cooperative MP
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (3rd from right) during a debate in the UK parliament over anti-Semitism within the party. (Screen capture:
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (3rd from right) during a debate in the UK parliament over anti-Semitism within the party. (Screen capture:

Dissent within the ranks of the British Labour party has been simmering for quite some time. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has spoken of terrorist groups like Hamas with respect and affection as his 'friends'. Under his leadership the closet anti-Semites have crept out from under the damp crevices which have sheltered their views under leaders not given to friendship with groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel. And nor were expressions of outright anti-Semitism common within the membership of the British House of Commons before the leadership election of Jeremy Corbyn to the once-proud Labour party.

Now, seething with sheer frustration and anger, members of the U.K. Labour party have finally aired their views about the descent their political party of choice has taken from common decency to outright bigotry under the vocal membership of those like former London Mayor Ken Livingston who infamously claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, and that Jews and fascism have firm links; those who died in the Holocaust were considered fodder to turn the world's conscience to promise a homeland for Jews.

Months of shameless catering to the racist proclivities of British Members of Parliament speaking as Labour members has resulted in the government-led Conservatives ruling that a day in the House be committed to a discussion on anti-Semitism. The opportunity to give full reign to their experiences and perceptions was taken up by a number of Labour MPs finally given public space to air their grievances against their party; an airing roundly applauded by MPs of opposition parties, quite understandably.
Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen
Labour MP John Mann had much to add to the discussion and he did it with feeling, describing how members of the Momentum group, supporters of Corbyn, targeted him for punishment for daring to support Jewish Labour members. His wife, he recounted, was the recipient of a dead bird in the mail, along with rape threats. When their son and daughter received death threats, measures had to be taken to put them under protective surveillance.

The three-hour debate enabled members who were directly affected by the climate of intimidation and the promotion of anti-Semitism to ventilate and inform those listening to the anguish they feel. Corbyn disports himself as a convicted left-leaning anti-Semite, an impression well earned by the company he keeps. When a protest was organized by the Jewish community outside Parliament, Corbyn responded by pledging to be "a militant opponent of anti-Semitism", earnestly informing the Jewish community "In this fight, I am your ally and always will be."

His actions are more telling than those words, encouraging those within Labour to step up and emote any slanderous, anti-Semitic tropes they feel comfortable with. Infamously he had admired the mural of a street artist in east London who had depicted a group of business tycoons and bankers, ostensibly Jews, counting money around a Monopoly-type board held aloft on the backs of dark-complexioned men. Corbyn excused himself after a protest by claiming not to have understood the message while supporting the artist's "artistic freedom".
Kalen Ockerman's mural 'The Enemy of Humanity' (photo credit: YouTube screen shot)
Kalen Ockerman’s mural ‘The Enemy of Humanity’ (YouTube screenshot)

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