This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Judiciously Lunatic

What kind of insubstantial, nonsensical courtroom dynamics is it supposed to represent when in a military court a man who is charged with killing thirteen people and wounding an additional 32, keeps having his trial postponed because the judge takes issue with the man having grown a beard.  The man happens to be a major in the U.S. military.  He happens also to be a mass murderer. 

Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a military psychiatrist, was fundamentally ill placed in the U.S. military.  Raised as an American, he was also raised a Muslim.  And within him a battle royal raged between his loyalties.  His growing contempt for all that the United States' values represented in contrast to the life-values of a religion that demands complete submission of its followers, though increasingly evident to others failed to serve as a warning of danger ahead.

Major Hasan went about his business as a career military man, badly misplaced within a society that strives heroically to see no 'differences' between people of different heritage, culture, religion and experience.  In American citizen-lore the perfection of Americanism overcomes all obstacles, and one becomes honour-bound to accept and to value and to practise those priorities and values that Americans hold dear.

A burning resentment lodged deep in the soul of Nidal Malik Hasan rejected all that.  His American loyalties steadily receded in pace with his aggrieved religious and ethnic realizations that there was great incompatibility between his cultural background of origin and the sanctity of religious observation, complicated by the belief that his adopted country was vilifying and oppressing his heritage.

When his U.S. loyalty finally snapped leaving only an aggravated sense of jihad and martyrdom to avenge what he saw as wrongs done those of his religion and his ethnic-heritage, his choice was made and he acted in a barbaric display of discipline to death and destruction in the greater glory of Islam when he called Allahu Akbar! and restored himself to perfect Islamism.

So in the face of all this, why the issue of a beard seen to be defiant of military dress and appearance codes assuming any kind of priorities, seems just about as picayune and absurd as anyone can get.  Can judge Col. Gregory Gross really be serious about this, or is he just having grim fun out of this atrocious situation.  The military dress code is irrelevant to the fact that Major Hasan chose to kill his military peers, rejecting his nation, his citizenship, his oaths of loyalty.

Major Hasan's defence argues that repeated fines imposed upon their client for his seemingly unforgivable insubordination to military rules represents an unconstitutional situation.  Major Hasan, even in the background of all that went before, argues the federal Freedom Restoration Act gives him permission to wear his beard in honour of his religion.

But Col. Gross as the presiding judge and arbiter insists the plaintiff's lawyers have not provided relevant evidence, and fines him yet again $1,000.  Get serious, please; this man with his distorted sense of values murdered 13 people, injured another 32, and the court argues about a beard?  In the name of sanity, get on with it!

Labels: , , , ,

Accessing Higher Education/Quebec

Quebec university and CEGEP students have returned early to classes in an attempt to catch up on time lost last spring when many university and college students, supported by their unions, decided to 'strike' in protest of the provincial Liberal government's plan to increase tuition costs to more closely reflect reality.  Though the tuition increase had the support of the public, nothing was resolved.

The new fees are in effect.  The students are still striking.  The new premier-presumptive of a minority PQ government urges the students not to bother sending in their tuition fees until after the election.  When, presumably, she will take steps with her governing party, to forgive student tuition altogether.
 One small step for student 'democratic' rights, one big step for tax increases.

The striking students who represented a small proportion of the province's student body, were vociferous, angry, disruptive and obnoxious in their bid to draw attention to their rejection of the increase.  They termed it an assault against democracy that the government had the audacity to raise tuition at a time when provincial coffers are badly strained.

They considered themselves to be demonstrating democracy in action when they blocked highways and bridges, destroyed public property, held up traffic, threatened other students and called them 'scabs' and worse, leaped onto desks, smashed computers and stopped classes from proceeding.  As they practised their version of democracy, the majority of the province's students who wanted to continue classes were restrained from doing so.

That majority of students decided to invoke a lawful procedure to ensure that the strikers refrained from interrupting classes and the law agreed with them, issuing an injunction.  Which the democracy-obsessed striking students simply ignored, continuing to be obstreperous and disruptive, disallowing other students from pursuing their studies.

Now that classes have resumed, the striking students who have been relatively quiescent all summer, have resurrected their outrage to re-commence their predations on their fellow students, violently interfering with their right to an education.  In response to which, a class-action lawsuit is being organized by Quebec university students over their frustration by the student strikes.

There will be 25 universities and junior colleges named in the class-action suit, along with the Quebec government.  The plaintiffs claim that action taken was insufficient to allow them access to classrooms and to complete their courses. Damage includes lost work experience, lost tuition fees, lost summer jobs.

Not to worry: with the upcoming election in a few day's time, there will be a new government in power, one whose head is anxious to support the student strikers to the benefit of all.  A new Parti Quebecois government will see to it that more stringent rules will be imposed on language restrictions so that graduates from Quebec universities will be more unprepared than ever to join the workforce.

Confined to one language,with little-to-no-proficiency in the universal language of North American business, perhaps the students will consider in the future the possibility and efficacy of suing the new PQ government for restricting their opportunities for full and well-remunerated employment in the outside world of real life.

Labels: , , , ,

South Africa's Civil Progress

"The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them.  This is madness.
"The whole world saw the policemen kill those people."  Julius Malema, former leader of ANC youth wing

Mr. Malema's credibility and motivation is often suspect, but on this occasion he's quite right.  Not one of the police responsible for the shooting and killing of 34 South African striking uranium miners, and the wounding of an additional 78 miners has been arrested.  Nor will they be.  For they are not held to be guilty of anything, actually. 

In fact, the government of President Zuma's governing African National Congress has chosen to resurrect an obscure and discredited law whereby they have charged the striking miners themselves, with killing other strikers.  All 270 miners who were taken into custody and who suffered physical mistreatment have been charged with the murders of their 34 striking colleagues.

 Six of the miners who have been charged remain in hospital still being treated for gunshot wounds.  "It's the police who were shooting, but they were under attack by the protesters, who were armed, so today the 270 accused are charged with the murders" said National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Frank Lesenyego.

During the opposition days of the African National Congress, as a national liberation movement struggling to obtain freedom for South Africa from the apartheid regime of Boer-based white South Africa, it accused the white minority government of using an arcane Roman-Dutch common purpose law to perversely make victims of a crime its charged perpetrators.

And it is this common purpose law which was discharged when the African National Congress came to power after the downfall of Apartheid under the writing of a new constitution for South Africa.  And it is this law that has been taken out of well-deserved retirement by a government that does not want to take responsibility for its actions. 

The arrested miners accuse police of beating them with batons and fists, kicking and slapping them to force confessions from them and the revelations of names of those who had hacked two police officers to death in a violent week preceding the strike and the shootings that followed.  The strikers are members of a new, militant union, one not allied with government and the British-owned uranium mine.

The issue was their demand for fair wages.  They were demanding a minimum wage of 12,500 rand ($1,560), as opposed to their take-home pay of 5,500 rand ($688) annually.  The striking miners were armed with clubs, machetes and one gun was rumoured to be in the possession of a miner who had taken it from one of the murdered policemen.

When they charged police, after the police had tried to put a halt to their charge with water cannons, stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, the police opened fire with live ammunition.  Most of the miners had attempted to flee the deadly assault, and those who were killed were mostly shot in the back.  Autopsies confirmed that many of them had sustained mortal wounds at their backs.

These police killings are held to be the most serious display of state-sponsored violence since the downfall of the apartheid regime.  In the eighteen years since the ANC has been in power not very much has changed in the squalid poverty conditions of the people of South Africa.  Violent crime has increased, unemployment is rampant, housing shortages, poor health and education services mark the advance of the wealthiest country in Africa.

Labels: , ,

IAEA: Update Iran

"Iran continues to enrich uranium, which shows that sanctions are not having any effect.  More importantly, we are seeing them put the final pieces of the jigsaw into place.
"In full contempt of international opinion, the Iranians are racing toward the finishing line and they are now just metres away from it."  International diplomat

The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest quarterly report lays it out.  One thousand new, not yet operational centrifuges were installed at the Fordow facility since May.  That's the secret facility whose existence was unknown outside Iran until it was completely built in the interior of a mountain as a well protected underground uranium enrichment facility, close to the holy city of Qom.  Once word of its existence was revealed, the IAEA became involved.

According to Western diplomats, uranium has been enriched at the Fordow facility, in defiance of Western sanctions, close to weapons grade. According to the United Nation's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, the Republic has increased stockpiles of high-grade enriched uranium in the past three months alone from 145 kilograms to 190 kilograms.  Additional news, that the country's mastermind of nuclear efforts has been recalled to duty was followed with interest.

As far as some, such as Israel, closely watching events as they proceed are concerned, the recall of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's top nuclear scientist, and the heavy stockpiling of nuclear-enriched uranium signals that the country has come closer than ever to proceeding with the final touches to build nuclear arms.  Fakhrizadeh has now re-taken charge of a research facility in Tehran that focuses on the building of nuclear weapons.

This determination was relayed to the Wall Street Journal by UN, American and Israeli officials.  The denial of Tehran to permit IAEA inspectors entry to the Parchin military base close to Tehran on suspicion that the facility there was used for military explosions and that the regime has been busy neutralizing the facility of any possible incriminating evidence of nuclear tests having taken place there, simply confirms suspicions.

Diplomats are anticipating that the IAEA report, expected to be circulated confidentially, will confirm that Iran sanitized the Parchin base to the point that an inspection would be useless.  It is strongly believed that tests on how to proceed to detonate a nuclear weapon were carried out at Parchin, even before Fakhrizadeh was recalled from his involuntary 'retirement'.

Despite Israel's increasingly agitated calls for military action, however, it seems clear that no alarm is warranted.  Catherine Ashton, the EU representative for foreign affairs has stated her intention to conduct ongoing talks with Iran's main nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili "in the coming days".  On the other hand, Iran has given its assurance that there is nothing amiss, that it is merely the fevered fantasizing of Israel and the U.S. that is the problem here.

Iran has no intention whatever, has no interest at all in pursuing any but peaceful nuclear research and development.  Did not Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, state as much at the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in Tehran this week?  "Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none." That's the problem here, there's not enough trust

Or delusional naivete.

Labels: , , , ,

Photo EPA

 Freedom, Justice, Friendship and Global Peace

 "The revolution in Egypt is the cornerstone for the Arab Spring, which started days after Tunisia and then it was followed by Libya and Yemen and now the revolution in Syria against its oppressive regime.  Our solidarity with the struggle of Syrians against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty and a political and strategic necessity."  Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi
That official message from Egypt in Tehran delivered at the Non-Aligned Movement summit did not quite reflect the warmth of the loving greeting in the photograph above.  On the right is the lover, on the left the Egyptian asp.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could hardly have anticipated that one of their honoured guests from a country Iran is anxious to restore relations with, would sandbag them in such a manner.

But the speech was delivered in Arabic to those assembled, representing heads of state and their emissaries of the Non-Aligned Movement nations.  It underwent quite an alteration during the translation process which managed to alter the content to the extent that the speech was completely warped in favour of Iran's position vis-a-vis Syria.  What went out over Iranian airways, television broadcasts and newspapers also bore no relation to reality.

And it can be certain that the Iranian public heard nothing of what United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said when he addressed the gathering.  "I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust.  Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold."

"In the history of the Islamic Republic, nobody has challenged the supreme leader's [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's] position on Israel in front of him, and in such a manner", said Meir Javendanfar, an Iranian-Israeli expert at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, commending both Mr. Morsi and Mr. Ban.

The Syrian delegation felt no gratitude toward President Morsi.  Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem, in speaking of the withdrawal of the Syrians, angered at hearing  from Morsi: "We all have to announce our full solidarity with the struggle of those seeking freedom and justice in Syria, and translate this sympathy into a clear political vision that supports a peaceful transition to a democratic system of rule that reflects the demands of the Syrian people for freedom", responded sanctimoniously that Syria was outraged and withdrew "in rejection of the incitement in the speech to continue the shedding of Syrian blood."

The fact that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and that the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is well represented in the opposition to the Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot have been lost on anyone's awareness of the tender details.  But of course those tender details would have been withheld from promulgation in the Iranian media.

As for Iran's defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspections and suspicions and determination to continue on its national mission to become nuclear-sufficient and in possession of nuclear arms, another kind of double-speak was in order at the conclusion of the summit:  "Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none", said Ayatollah Khamenei who had managed to overlook Mr. Ban's urging to prove Iran's nuclear work is for peaceful purposes.

And, as the summit closed, despite the unexpected intrusions of reality and opposition into the process thanks to two honoured guests, it was clear that the remainder of the NAM delegates lined up their support precisely as Tehran required them to.  "The important political message by NAM to the international community is the message of friendship and peace and its readiness to tackle global challenges", said Ahmadinejad, oozing fraternity and goodwill.

The summit overwhelmingly approved the final statement.  Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had urged Iran to aid it in forming a Palestinian state, and the final statement included support for Palestine.  The agreement included support for 'the fight against discrimination', 'rejection of unilateral sanctions', and finally, an agreement to elect Venezuela, yet another sterling citizen-nation of the civil world, to the next NAM chair for 2015.

Last, certainly not least, was the general agreement by NAM members in support of Iran's 'right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program'.  "All NAM member states approved the need for a new world management upon the basis of freedom, justice and friendship and with the final aim of achieving stable global peace", beamed Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Who, along with his colleagues is stalwartly prepared to unleash nuclear Armageddon on anyone who doesn't agree with the values and direction of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Errant Justice

What can Corrections Canada be thinking?  It defies logic and insults the very concept of valuing justice and deploring the loss of human life that two convicted murderers would enjoy connubial relations while imprisoned for murderous assaults against other human beings.  All the more so when the woman of the pair killed a child in jealous rage, determined to make the man who spurned her suffer.

Amina Chaudhary must have been delighted when a two-person panel in Kitchener, Ontario decided to grant her day parole.  On the other hand, prison authorities had already granted her some very special privileges previously.  She had been found guilty of first-degree murder in 1982.  Having decided to kill her ex-lover's eight-year-old nephew in revenge for the man having returned to India to be married.

She strangled the child to demonstrate her anger that she was being left, while the uncle of the child fulfilled his obligation in an arranged marriage to another woman.  In 2005 she was released to a halfway house.  She had married another prisoner, and had been permitted to spend most nights with her husband, at home.  Her husband was also convicted of murder, and he was on full parole at the time.

While she was still serving her life sentence she gave birth to three children through her marriage to her husband, another prison inmate.  If a woman - let alone the man who was the father of these three children -  capable of strangling a child was comfortable bringing children into this world knowing that they would have two murderers as parents, that's one thing.  How could prison authorities countenance that?

She was brought back into custody two years ago as a result of allegations of financial "discrepancies" in real estate deals.  The panel which released her to day parole insisted she must continue to seek psychological counselling.  Presumably, the three children would have been taken from the custody of their parents, into public care. 

This woman is not a Canadian citizen.  She has cost the country dearly in incarceration and in medical and counselling services.  Those costs accelerated with the birth of three children and their care.  She continues to tie up the legal system through fighting the conviction of murder of that eight-year-old child, despite having been found guilty of a planned murder (first-degree). 

She has been ordered deported from Canada because of her criminality and her landed immigrant status.  But she is fighting the deportation order.  Is any of this logical and sane on the part of government and its agencies?  This woman whose criminal offences are beyond the pale can call upon the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to battle a deportation order, tying up our court system.

None of this reflects common sense.

Labels: , , , , ,

Pakistan's Best and Brightest

It is anything but reassuring that the one Muslim country in the world (for the time being) in possession of nuclear armaments is a political, social, religious basketcase.  Pakistan is beset by terrorist groups, home-grown and imported, but mostly from within.  Saudi Arabia has something to answer for there, with its traditional oil-money funding of fanatically ferocious madrassas teaching young Pakistani boys and men the splendours of jihad and martyrdom.

Jihadi training camps throughout the country, and the rise of the Pakistani Taliban have resulted in a country torn by extremists intent on solidifying their hold on the mountainous tribal regions, spreading their brand of extremism to urban areas, giving safe haven to al-Qaeda and to Afghan Taliban, battling their own insurgency for supremacy and spreading Sharia law throughout both countries. 

Conflict between the Pakistan military and the secret service, both of which gave initial impetus to the Afghan Taliban, now battling their own Taliban has torn the country apart.  The urban and the tribal mountainous regions are worlds apart; one aspiring to Muslim-style democracy, the other reaching back to pure Islamism. 

When it suited the government's purpose to encourage jihadists to attack India, over ownership of  Kashmir, that covert activity took place.  Unleashing a monster heralds future problems impossible to rectify as simply as the original plan seemed to indicate.  The International Committee of the Red Cross has been forced to halt most of its aid programs in Pakistan as a result of deteriorating security.

Taliban insurgents beheaded a British staff doctor in the spring, and matters have gone from bad to worse since then.  "All relief and protection activities are being stopped.  All projects of rehabilitation, economic projects, have been terminated", announced head of ICRC operations in South Asia.  Focus would remain on treating patients wounded in fighting through the reopening of a surgical field hospital in Peshawar.

Violence is so all-encompassing, international observers have every reason to feel wary about unfortunate and fearsome possibilities.  Such as jihadists swarming onto military bases where nuclear installations are located.  Attacks on military bases and police stations are common enough.  The Pakistan administration claims it has sufficient safeguards to ensure that their nuclear installations remain safe.

The nightmare scenario of a country that denied knowledge of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda residing within its borders held in esteem and safety with the connivance of the military and the Taliban reflects a Muslim country in ownership of nuclear weapons, claiming to safeguard them from acquisition by terrorists.  This is a country whose top nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, took it upon himself to transfer nuclear plans to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

The Pakistan public loves A.Q. Khan, the originator of their own successful nuclear program, enabling the country to produce nuclear warheads in a geographic tinderbox.  That A.Q. Khan proudly proliferated nuclear capability to aggressively terrorist countries of the world speaks clearly enough to his values as a scientist and above all, as a Muslim, Pakistani scientist.

Yet here he is, railing against corruption in his country, founding a new political party, the Movement for Protection of Pakistan, to encourage the enterprising, nationalist youth of Pakistan to identify "incompetent politicians", and work politically to enlist and vote into power scientists, engineers, teachers and retired bureaucrats, who ostensibly, could be trusted to work in the best interests of their country.

An adviser to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf whose ruling party A.Q. Khan has criticized as corrupt, has contempt for his allegations: "I am surprised over his allegations against the top political leadership of Pakistan, and I want to remind Dr. Qadeer that at least no politician has sold uranium or nuclear technology to other countries", said Fawad Chaudhry.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Getting It Right

She is intent on dragging Quebec, kicking and whining, out of Confederation and into national sovereignty, finally achieving full separation from that blighted anglosphere called Canada.  Her display of flashes of lurid xenophobia, socialism and creeping racism peg her as the bottom-sweepings of the Quebec separatist movement.  With her as premier, Quebec will reflect the qualities the Parti Quebecois holds most dear.

The French language must be shielded with an iron curtain that will not permit English to leak through despoiling the purity of French speech.  Quebec separatist elites may educate their offspring in English ensuring they remain competitive in the world outside the province, but this is a privilege that will be denied all others unworthy of those forbidden delights.

English-language CEGEPs will be off-course to allophone and Francophone students, those slaving away in public institutions can place their distinctive ethno-religio symbols on a high, high shelf and prepare to resent the sole appearance of crucifixes which celebrate Quebec's distinctive heritage.  Quebec university students will be delighted at a promise of free tuition as a reward for upsetting the populace through intimidation tactics.

And the voters who plan to squeeze Pauline Marois through to a minority government will wait with bated breath to see her challenge the unions to ever greater demands she will be pleased to accept, while she somehow manages to separate them from the talons of organized crime, and clean up the corruption that the province has been bathed in for far too long.

Condemn her?  Perish the thought. She did get one thing right.  The Parti Quebecois, once in the business of running the government again will cancel the $58-million loan Jean Charest's Liberal government promised to the asbestos industry.  And Ms. Marois is prepared to aid the few hundred workers in Asbestos in diversifying the regional economy.

"All the trends are headed there.  We know the health studies illustrate that.  We can still spend an hour or two with (workers) to correctly clean up the file and take the decisions that need to be taken and show people that they can count on a PQ government because the financial resources will be there for diversifying the region."

Well now, good on her.  The chrysotile asbestos industry in Quebec is an embarrassment to a civilized society, with the knowledge of the health dangers involved for workers handling the material, as a carcinogen.  It is long overdue that it be put to rest.  Once seen as a valuable resource and used extensively as a fire retardant and insulating agent, it is now recognized worldwide as a deadly commodity.

So the PQ will invest in diversifying the region to ensure that several hundred workers will be employed in something other than asbestos extraction.  And the PQ will offer free tuition to university students.  And the PQ will give sober second thought to potential investors in the Province fearing French-language restrictions impacting on their communication modes.  And the PQ will offend minorities and religious, encouraging them to leave the province.

And with separation, the PQ will suddenly find itself administering a province with far less disposable income to continue their proud social programs when transfer payments suddenly drop off.  Good luck on that file, Madam.

Labels: , , , , ,

Instead Of Savoring Diplomatic Triumph, Iran Invites Pushback

The attendance of 120 countries in Tehran is a sorry spectacle reminiscent of the1936 Berlin Olympics, but without Nazi guile.

By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/31/2012, 12:13 AM

Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
The conference of the Non -Aligned Movement (NAM) in Teheran was intended by the regime to be a propaganda event on the scale of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, marketing Iran as a regional and international leader thanks to its three-year presidency of NAM.

The regime imported 200 Mercedes luxury cars to transport the visitors and spruced up the major highways leading to the conference. It even invested in a new conference center despite aggravated economic conditions. Road signs were replaced to incorporate doves of peace.

To reduce traffic, the regime announced a 5 day holiday and provided discount gasoline to encourage residents of the capital to leave down. No less than 110,000 security and paramilitary forces, including snipers, were brought to the capital to stamp out any protests. The Iranian press was given a set of do's and don'ts with the latter including stories about natural disasters, power blackouts or crime.

However, the summit is not turning out to be a success. First of all, the Iranian regime failed to learn from Nazi Germany. In 1936, in the run-up and during the Olympics, the Nazi regime toned down the public displays of anti-Semitism and even allowed Jewish athletes to try out for the German Olympic team.

This duped foreign visitors, who concluded that previous reports on persecution of Jews were an exaggeration. Ayatollah Ali  Khamenei, in contrast, opened the event with an address attacking the Israeli regime of "Zionist wolves" and branding the United States a hegemonic meddler.

Khamenei even accused the UN Security Council of being a puppet of US influence. He thus made things extremely difficult for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, already under attack for his decision to attend the conclave.

Such remarks forced Ban's hand and he upbraided his hosts for Holocaust denial and threatening the destruction of the State of Israel. This, of course, does not exonerate the UN Secretary-General for his decision to attend the summit in the first place; it merely points out the clumsiness of the Iranians.
Iran would have been better advised to keep the Syrian issue out of the conference, unless it was certain that the reactions by other delegations would suit Teheran's purposes.

The government-controlled media made a point of highlighting Egyptian attendance as a diplomatic victory. It was therefore blindsided when Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi connected the Syrian uprising to the Arab spring, meaning that it was a popular revolution. Iran could have expected that Egypt, as a Sunni Muslim country aspiring to restore its leadership, could not avoid taking such a position once the Iranians had broached the call for a Syrian cease fire - a proposal previously raised by the Assad regime in Syria.

The Egyptians called for outside intervention and India, a founding member of NAM, called for a transnational solution, meaning that affairs could not be left to the Syrians alone. India also intends to tell Iran to abide by its international obligations on the nuclear issue.

Labels: , , ,

Ban Lecturing Iran

In Iran meet, UN chief denounces threats to destroy Israel, Holocaust denial

Remarks by Ban Ki-Moon at NAM conference opening day come following Iranian Supreme Leader's harsh attack on suppression of Palestinians by 'ferocious Zionist wolves.'

By Reuters and Haaretz | Aug.30, 2012 

Ban Ki-Moon and Ali Khamenei - AP - 29.8.2012
Ban Ki-Moon, left, meeting with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. Photo by AP

Without naming Iran, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon denounced his hosts in Tehran on Thursday for threatening to destroy Israel and for denying the Holocaust.

"I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust," Ban said in his speech to a Non-Aligned Movement summit in the Iranian capital.

"Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold," he added. 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and this month described Israel as a "cancerous tumour". In 2005 he caused uproar by being quoted as saying that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
Persian language scholars say a more correct translation of his comment would read: "Israel must vanish from the page of time." 

Ban was attending the NAM summit despite calls from the United States and Israel that he should boycott the event.

The UN chief's comments came after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei launched a venomous attack against Israel in a speech inaugurating the conference, denouncing what he said was Israel's brutal suppression of Palestinian rights. 

"Even now after 65 years the same kind of crimes marks the treatment of Palestinians remaining in the occupied territories by the ferocious Zionist wolves," Khamenei was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying, adding that Israel commits "new crimes one after the other and create new crises for the region." 

The Supreme Leader added that the "Zionist regime, which has carried out assassinations and caused conflicts and crimes for decades by waging disastrous wars, killing people, occupying Arab territories and organizing state terror in the region and in the world, labels the Palestinian people as 'terrorists,' the people who have stood up to fight for their rights."

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Would It Were So....

"We see that all the countries in the region need stability and peaceful co-existence with each other.  This cannot be achieved with wars but through political work and special relations between the countries of the region."  Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi
This may represent the words of - or may not be in the final analysis - a man whom many have misjudged.  No milquetoast intelligence after all, but a keen philosophical observer, anxious to do what he can to transform his geography into a reasonable semblance of civility.  It would be a long overdue, and impressively refreshing change.  And, coming from a new president whom Egyptians have in the majority finally elected to represent their best interests as president of the most populous Arab country, perhaps time.

"Egypt is now a civilian state ... a national, democratic, constitutional, modern state.  International relations between all states are open and the basis for all relations is balance.  We are not against anyone but we are for achieving our interests", he explained.  Perhaps it will be useful after all that he was educated in the U.S. as an engineer, though he has rejected much about the U.S. and returned to his home country to effect a change.

That, to effect the change he envisioned he had long been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood does not inspire confidence in particular.  Particularly with the hostile emphasis of the Muslim Brotherhood on one of the country's neighbours.  Hostile enough that when a former president of the country signed a peace agreement with Israel, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter assassinated Anwar Sadat, bringing his vice-president, Hosni Mubarak, to the presidency.

President Mubarak respected the peace agreement with Israel, although that agreement kept the two countries from military hostilities only; social acceptance and political amiability did not follow, although Egypt gained from Israeli tourism and trade.  With the ascension of President Morsi to power, though he resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy, fears were rampant that the peace agreement would be abandoned.

His party continues to speak of Israel as a racist, expansionist state, and some among them urge for abandonment of the peace treaty.  President Morsi iterates that Egypt will continue to respect international treaties, including the 1979 peace agreement with Israel.  He also attempted to reassure Israel that the newly-initiated military campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, allowed to fall under terrorists' control with the downfall of President Mubarak, was for the purpose of arresting terrorist activities.

"Egypt is practising its very normal role on its soil and does not threaten anyone and there should not be any kind of international or regional concerns at all from the presence of Egyptian security forces", he said.  He has called for dialogue between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to attempt a solution to the bloodshed in Syria; Iran expressed interest, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have not.

"Now is the time to stop this bloodshed and for the Syrian people to regain their full rights and for this regime that kills its people to disappear from the scene.  There is no room to talk about reform, but the discussion is about change", said Mr. Morsi, adding that "the friends of the Syrian people in China and Russia and other states", should be backing ordinary Syrians.

As for Egypt's long-standing relationship with the United States from whom it receives $1.3-billion in annual aid for its military, the new president said that his country interacts with the United States as "a stable institution", so that it matters little the outcome of the presidential election there. 

Refreshing, clear and concise, and one must hope - fervently, honest.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

 Chamber of Sober Second Thought?

At 69 years of age it would be presumptuous to suggest that a man has become a trifle senile to believe that he could have a normal, healthy relationship with a young woman of 23.  More likely, perhaps, it might be that he simply allowed himself to be carried away by the circumstances in which a young woman the age of his grandchildren if he'd had any, felt herself to be interested in him as a partner in life. 

Which, to any thinking person would make little practical sense on a whole range of issues, not the least of which is that the 'partner-in-life' designation would of necessity be of relatively short duration on his part, and long on hers.  Furthermore, might the stamina, emotions, experiences, physical and psychological needs of a 69-year-old man seeking to re-tread his life with a first marriage, match that of a 23-year-old woman embarking freshly on maturity?

Maygan Sensenberger, trained as a ballet dancer, then moved on to become an aspiring actress.  She may have felt flattered that a man three times older than herself was romantically interested in her.  A strange notion for a young woman, but stranger things have happened.  Perhaps she felt that by the force of her personality she could transform him from a creaky old frog into a lively tadpole. 

According to witnesses on the flight they were on from Ottawa to Saskatoon where Senator Rod Zimmer hails from, his young wife was reluctant to make that trip to meet members of her husband's family.  Ms. Sensenberger's grandmother, Rita Sensenberger, was most helpful with background, informing reporters that the two had dated for a number of years prior to their marriage. 

They waited, it appears, until the young woman reached her 21st birthday before publicly announcing their intimate relationship. She was a teen when he was in his mid-60s. 

If, as a teen, she was a trifle lacking in common sense, it might logically have been assumed that he, a man of 65 or so, would be imbued with enough common sense to understand the unlikelihood of success of such a personal, intimate relationship.  He obviously felt he had much to gain by pursuing the young woman, and she, it would appear, reciprocated the feeling.

His personal health was not in the high percentile of age-excellent, his having suffered throat cancer years earlier with a prognosis of 20% survival in the following two years.  He evidently suffers from some heart problems.  That 'blind date' to which her grandmother ascribes their first meeting, must have blinded them both to realities and practicalities.

He feels himself to be a confident, forward-looking fellow:  "A positive attitude generates energy and adrenaline and fights off disease and counters stress...  So, as much as is possible, honourable Senators, take stress out of your life."  His advice to his Senate peers may have made him feel superior, but he must have forgotten his own advice when he strode off in a direction certain to add stress to his life.

His impetuous young wife, with a masterful vocabulary highlighting rank profanities, appears to use shrill-voiced threats and public theatrics as a way to manipulate her biddable husband, anxious to please his young bride.  Does it represent an intrusion where none is desired to wonder whether this marriage will survive long past its first anniversary?

Privacy is a prize ill deserved under certain circumstances, such as the public airing of personal disagreements, more's the pity.  This elderly man's sense of discretionary fitness and personal choices in his intimate family life gives the public the sense that the Chamber of Sober Second Thought lacks inspiration for those inhabiting it.

Labels: , , ,

Privacy, Not Politics?

The Liberal leadership in the Senate of Canada is now issuing a public plea for privacy on behalf of Senator Joyce Fairbairn, dealing with "health challenges".  Fairly sanctimonious, under the circumstances, to attempt to appeal to the public sensitivity on behalf of someone who truly does have health issues of an impressive magnitude which hasn't stopped that same Liberal Senate leadership from manipulating the woman to their political advantage.

Knowing full well that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia and with a formal acknowledgement from her geriatric psychiatrist that she was mentally incompetent, the Liberal Senate leadership felt far more comfortable exploiting the woman to ensure that she voted along party lines in a cynical ploy not to have their numbers and influence decline, with the opening up of another vacant Senate seat that might be filled by a political adversary.

"If someone is legally incompetent, can they be a senator?  And there's nothing in the Constitution about that.  The Senate should say she has resigned and be entitled to a full pension", proffered Ned Franks, a constitutional expert and historian from Queen's University in Kingston.  Senator Fairbairn's retirement date is not until 2014. 

Clearly, she is incapable of fulfilling her obligations in the Senate of Canada.  She might have chosen to retire early and gracefully when she had the mental acuity left to make that decision. Failing that, the leaders of the Liberals in the Senate should have had the decency to make that decision for her in honour to her, and in honour of their obligations to the people of Canada. 

Neither was done, and that does not redound to the credit of those involved.  There were decisions to be made, and none took the high road, no one felt obligated to behave in a worthy manner.  To now call upon the public for their 'understanding' on behalf of the Senator speaks of blase and utterly base cynicism.

If these are, as some insist "uncharted waters", then build out of this experience a protocol that will be useful for the next time something of this nature occurs.  "She could resign, but the problem is, if someone is not legally competent, how can they resign?  The Senate, in theory ... could declare the seat vacant", observed Professor Franks.

Because of the state of her mental health, Ms. Fairbairn will not be aware of the controversy that has arisen with these revelations that have advised the public of her personal health, and that have further informed the public of the invidious manipulation of the Liberal Senate leadership, where one of their members had assumed Power of Attorney, alongside Ms. Fairbairn's niece, yet knowing the sad state of the Senator's health, chose to have her vote on matters of public concern.

She was declared legally incompetent in February of this year, according to Ms. McCullah, the Senator's closest relative.  From February until late June, Senator Fairbairn voted a dozen times in the Senate, along party lines.  Her Senate office continued to spend on operating and hospitality expenses to the tune of $43,000. 

Where was the Liberal leadership accountability in this issue?

Labels: , , , ,

US ‘Responds’ to Iran with Second Warship in Gulf

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu US ‘Responds’ to Iran with Second Warship in Gulf

“When the world calls, we have to respond,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told sailors before a second American aircraft carrier headed for the Persian Gulf this week. The urgency of the United States to boost its defenses in the Gulf was indicated by its recalling the sailors early from leave to board the ship for the Middle East, four months ahead of schedule.

The USS John C. Stennis, which can carry 90 warplanes, is heading to the Gulf as Iran continues to challenge the world by advancing its unsupervised nuclear program.

The USS Stennis will join the U.S. Enterprise Strike Group and poses a strong deterrence to any Iranian plans to try to block the Gulf or to attack commercial oil tankers. The Strike Group includes a guided missile cruiser and four guided missile destroyers.

"It's tough," Panetta told sailors before they left port. "We're asking an awful lot of each of you. And frankly, you are the best I have -- and when the world calls, we have to respond."

“Obviously Iran is one of those threats that we have to be able to focus on and make sure that we’re prepared to deal with any threats that could emerge out of Iran,” Panetta told reporters.

The Obama administration, which previously has said that solving the Palestinian Authority demand for independence is the key to peace for the entire Middle East region, has increasingly shown signs that reflect Israel’s warnings that the regime in Tehran is dead set to fulfill its stated intention to annihilate Israel, leaving the United States without a committed democratic ally in the region.

"The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humankind and an affront to all world nations," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech this month. "Confronting Zionists will also pave the way for saving the whole humankind from exploitation, depravity and misery."

The beefed up American naval presence in the Gulf parallels concerns in Israel that sanctions may be hurting the Iranian economy but are not enough to stop Tehran’s drive for nuclear capability.

The American-backed sanctions include numerous loopholes that have enabled countries such as Japan and North Korea to continue importing oil from Iran, which depends on the black gold for most of its foreign exchange earnings.

The U.S. State Dept. continues to push for diplomacy to convince  Ahmadinejad to pressure him to allow full inspection of its nuclear facilities by United Nations inspectors.

“We are focused on combining diplomacy and pressure, trying to get Iran to be serious at the negotiating table and we are in full consultations with the Israelis about the picture that we see, and we will continue to make those points clear,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 29 August 2012

Labels: , , , ,

Egypt Kills 11 Sinai Terrorists

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Egypt Kills 11 Sinai Terrorists

Egyptian soldiers killed 11 terrorists in the Sinai and confiscated weapons, according to Egyptian television, quoted by Voice of Israel government radio.

The report, which also stated that 23 terrorists were captured, along with Israeli-made ammunition, was confirmed by the defense ministry. Only one day earlier, an Egyptian newspaper reported that President Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood party, secured a ceasefire agreement with terrorist leaders.

Cairo said Wednesday it will escalate its war on terror in the Sinai Peninsula, where Bedouin, Hamas and Al Qaeda-linked terrorists have exploited a vacuum of power and taken control of large areas.

After terrorists killed 16 Egyptian border guards in early August, Egypt began moving in tanks and aircraft, in violation of the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel that prohibits a military buildup in the Sinai without Israeli approval.

Morsi has insisted that the deployment is in Israel’s interest because it is aimed at terrorists and not at a future military attack on Israel, which has bitter memories of the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Egypt rolled its tanks into the Sinai and southern Israel while Syria attacked from the north.

The Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel from Gaza on the west to Eilat on the east, is fertile ground for Bedouin terrorists, many of whom have aligned with Hamas and  Al Qaeda cells. They have been a source of smuggling of drugs, terrorists, weapons and migrant workers from Africa.

One tribe was reported to have handed over to the Egyptian army a large cache of weapons and ammunition on Sunday. The size of the arsenal in the Sinai was indicated by the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s announcement that it has seized more than 20,000 weapons over the past several months.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 29 August 2012

Labels: , , ,

Evidence Mounts of Iran ‘Laughing All the Way to Nuclear Power’

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Evidence of Iran Laughing All the Way to Nuke Bomb

The United Nations nuclear inspection agency, IAEA, is beefing up attempts to force Iran to cooperate at the same time it is expected to report Iran has installed 350 new centrifuges since May.

The new centrifuges are in addition to a previously-reported 1,000 that have been installed, part of Iran’s plan to have 3,000 centrifuges working.

Newspapers from Pakistan to the United States reported Wednesday that the French news agency AFP quoted diplomats in Vienna that the IAEA will issue a report on Friday detailing Iran’s nuclear progress at the Fordow facility, buried deep underground in order to protect it from a bombing attack.

The nuclear site is enriching uranium to a concentration of 20 percent, far below the 90 percent grade needed for a nuclear bomb but easily upgraded to that level.

Iran continues to insist it is developing its nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes, but  Ahmadinejad's recent reiteration that Israel must be annihilated could be used by the Islamic Republic as reasoning that striking Israel with a nuclear warhead is part of its homemade “peace process.”

The IAEA reputedly is establishing a new “Task Force” to get tough with Iran, which so far  has succeeded to  dodge nuclear inspectors.

Western dependence on diplomacy and sanctions has not convinced Israel that anything except military action can stop Iran, but even the IAEA has shown signs of giving up on Iran.

Last week, it was reported that Iran has “sanitized” a nuclear research facility at a military to the point that it may be too late to inspect it.

Ahmadinejad has been deploying the same tactic for more than two years of negotiating with the IAEA, agreeing to terms and then negotiating again, allowing the continuation of unsupervised nuclear development towards what the West says is Iran’s objective of reaching the capability of manufacturing and delivering a nuclear warhead.

This week, Iran is hosting the Non-Aligned Movement, which is being attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"Our enrichment activities will never stop and we are justified in carrying them out, and we will continue to do so under IAEA supervision," Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said before the summit.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 29 August 2012

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Cyber spying campaign expands in Iran, says Israeli security firm

Israeli security company Seculert said that it has identified about 150 new victims of the Mahdi Trojan over the past six weeks as the developers of the virus have changed the code to evade detection from anti-virus programs.

By Reuters | Aug.29, 2012 | 3:02 PM

Computer server room.
Computer server room. Photo by AP
The scope of a cyber espionage campaign targeting Iran and other parts of the Middle East has widened, even after security experts blew the operation's cover last month, according to the research firm that discovered the Mahdi Trojan. 

Israeli security company Seculert said that it has identified about 150 new Mahdi victims over the past six weeks as the developers of the virus have changed the code to evade detection from anti-virus programs. That has brought the total number of infections found so far to nearly 1,000, the bulk of them in Iran. 

"These guys continue to work," Seculert Chief Technology Officer Aviv Raff said via telephone from the company's headquarters in Israel. 

The decision to keep the operation running implies that Mahdi's operators were not particularly worried about getting caught, said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab, which has collaborated with Seculert in analyzing Mahdi. 

Schouwenberg said that some viruses are designed for stealth because they become useless if they are discovered. He pointed to the Stuxnet Trojan that targeted Iran's nuclear program in 2010 . 

After that customer-built virus was uncovered by a security researcher in Belarus, authorities in Iran discovered it in a uranium enrichment facility that it had targeted. 

Mahdi is a "less professional" operation that runs on technology built with widely available software, according to Schouwenberg 

"If the quality of your operation is not that high, then maybe you don't care about being discovered," he said. "But the scary thing is that it can still be effective." 

The Mahdi Trojan lets remote attackers steal files from infected PCs and monitor emails as well as instant messages, Seculert and Kaspersky said. It can also record audio, log keystrokes and take screen shots of activity on those computers. 

The firms said they believed multiple gigabytes of data have been uploaded from targeted machines.
Targets of Mahdi include critical infrastructure firms, engineering students, financial services firms and government embassies located in five Middle Eastern countries, with the majority of the infections in Iran, according to the two security firms. 

The bulk of the new victims were in Iran, which is where most infections have occurred to date, according to Seculert, though a few were identified in the United States and Germany.

The two firms have declined to identify specific victims.
As published online at Haaretz.com, 29 August 2012

Labels: ,

Misuse of mosque for manufacturing explosives condemned

| ���� PDF Send to Friend Print News | A A


Tuesday 28 August 2012

JEDDAH: A number of religious scholars and academics have stressed the need for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call and Guidance to beef up monitoring of places of worship. It followed the recent report of a Riyadh mosque serving as a facade for manufacturing explosives.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it discovered explosive substances and devices at a lean-to of a quiet mosque in Riyadh. Mosques normally use attached rooms to accommodate workers or for library service.

The scholars also demanded deterrent punishments to those who exploit the spiritual atmosphere in mosques to promote chaos in the country, Al-Madinah daily reported on Monday.

“Those who seek to destabilize the country and fight against security forces come under the category of ‘those who rebel against Allah and His Messenger’ and a country’s legitimate government and hence should be punished severely,” said Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie, who is a member of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars and adviser at the Royal Court.

The scholar also congratulated the Interior Ministry for its successful preemptive strike against the Riyadh cell and protecting the people from such heinous deeds.
“The Islamic Affairs Ministry should ensure that imams and muezzins inspect the mosque premises regularly and thoroughly, so that the facilities are not misused for subversive activities. The sacred houses of worship should not be converted into dens of destructive acts,” he said.
Member of the Fiqh Academy Muhammad Al-Nojaimi stressed the duty of the worshipers and residents in nearby buildings apart from imams and muezzins to see that mosques are not exploited for subversive activities. “Officials concerned should also investigate why some expatriates are unofficially undertaking duties at mosques. They should also launch campaigns and raids at such mosques,” he said.
Head of Islamic studies at the Umm Al-Qura University Muhammad Al-Sahli said it was a matter of deep pain for all Muslims, especially students and teachers of religious knowledge and preachers, that a mosque had been used as a cover for destructive activities.
Director of the Makkah branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization Ahmed Al-Muwarraie urged parents and teachers to protect their children or students from vicious ideologies they might be exposed to in the present circumstances.
Professor of Political Studies at King Saud University Abdullah Al-Lehaidan said the uncovering of a terror cell in Riyadh was not a matter to be taken lightly. “The latest discovery shows that the terror menace is still existing in the country and could be uprooted only after flushing it out from the neighboring Yemeni territories, just as terrorist activities were flushed out from the Kingdom.”

An academic specialized in political sciences at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Waheed Hashim, said Al-Qaeda in Yemen facilitated terrorists to infiltrate into the Kingdom. Another political science expert at the university said Al-Qaeda in Yemen changed its strategy of sending explosives to the Kingdom from outside. “Now they make explosives in the Kingdom, unlike what they did in the past.”
The academics also viewed that the political and economic failure of Yemen provided a breeding ground for terrorists. “The terrorist ideology thrived in Yemen because of rampant poverty, hunger, and endless disputes between religious or tribal sects, insecurity, and a weak central government. The country’s strategic geographical position enables terrorists to secretly enter Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.”
Meanwhile, a former Saudi fighter in Afghanistan, Sheikh Siraj Al-Zahrani, warned against the dangers of Saudi youths being carried away by the temptation to be martyrs in Syria. Siraj said he joined the Afghan Taleban fighters on the assumption that they were fighting on the straight religious path, but experience made him disillusioned and prompted him to return home. “No youth should go to Syria or other war fronts without the permission from their guardians. A family should be cautious about its sons being lured to war zones for jihad,” the sheikh said.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grotesque Masquerade

"Iran's current rulers will use your presence to further their own, hateful purposes.  Such a visit would only serve to legitimize and condone the record of this regime, which Canada views as the single most significant risk to global peace and security today.
"Iran's egregious human-rights record denies large segments of the Iranian population even the most basic of rights, while threatening the very existence of one of its neighbours.
"For example, on August 2, 2012, President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said that, 'anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world justice and freedom'."  John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs

This is part of a letter sent by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs to the attention of Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations.  It was sent to the Secretary-General a day after the announcement that he meant to accept the invitation to attend the Tehran conference of the Non-Aligned Nations.  Mr. Ban evidently considers the summit as a forum giving him the opportunity to advance "towards solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda".

And those issues would of course, include disarmament and conflict prevention.  Since the very critical issues of disarmament and conflict prevention are those which have seized the attention of the international community relating to the Islamic Republic of Iran's stated and firm intention of achieving nuclear status, with the unstated and covert additional intention of manufacturing fissile nuclear material for the formation of arms, this represents a fairly grotesque interpretation.

Iran presents itself as a country given to peace and harmony, one that is critically misunderstood and unfairly blamed and held to a standard that does not respect its sovereignty.  It consistently refuses inspection entry to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors while denying it has anything to hide.  The existence of its illicit Fordow nuclear facility was kept secret until it could no longer deny its presence.  Its Parchin military installation where it has tested explosive devices has been placed off limit to IAEA inspectors who believe nuclear tests have taken place there.

Its atrocious record on instigating terror groups to do its proxy bidding, its encouragement of hostilities toward those with whom it disagrees politically, its harassment and abuse of those who defy it, and its constant threats on the international stage against the existence of the State of Israel, where it feels entitled to claim it will wipe the world clear of the presence of Jews in an echo of the Holocaust which it denies ever having taken place, is a testament to its malign presence on the world stage.

Because of its oil wealth and the countries with emerging economies' reliance on Iran's energy, it has influence it would otherwise not have with socially and politically backward countries of the world, many of which are themselves verbally belligerent to the advanced economies of the world, and specially the United States and Israel.  That, under these circumstances, Ban Ki-moon sees his way clear to appear at the Non-Aligned summit is appalling.

He is offering the imprimatur of the United Nations to give credence to the outrageous and false allegations issued by Iran, presenting itself as an innocent, as a force for good in the world, as committed to peace and to disarmament, when nothing could be further from the truth.  He is, by his planned presence, doing honour to evil intentions, even at a time when he is aware that Iran's influence and involvement in the civil war raging in Syria is serving to support that dystopian, vicious regime.

"We fundamentally believe that a visit by the Secretary-General to Iran will only serve to further legitimize the reckless actions of this regime," further emphasized Rick Roth, Mr. Baird's press secretary.  Mr. Baird's formal declaration of support for refusing the request to attend the summit represents Canada's position on the issue.  One that is shared by a number of governments and human-rights bodies.

Iran is under strict economic sanctions from Western nations as a result of its illegal nuclear program.  Its position at this summit where it holds the three-year chairmanship of the movement, is an added effort to manipulate opinion to its side.  These are countries, attending the summit, with membership in the United Nations.  Many would not be sending senior representatives or appearing at all, were it not for the fact that it appears the United Nations, in the person of Ban Ki-moon has approved the event.

The United Nations has also seen fit to continue to include the Islamic Republic of Iran's current regime in diplomatic arenas.  This is not the first time that Foreign Affairs Minister Baird has upbraided the UN for its support of Iran.  Disappointment was expressed by Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs at Iran's appointment as a vice-president to the recent UN Arms Trade Treaty conference.  Could anything possibly be more logically perverse?
"[Mr. Baird] is entirely right - it is absolutely outrageous that Ban Ki-moon attend this summit.  If a country like Canada doesn't express its viewpoint on this, then he [Mr. Ban] can say, 'Nobody told me there was a problem with it'.  I think it should be made very clear to him that this is a mistake on his part."  Clifford May, president, Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Keeping Safe, Keeping Sane

In how many countries of the world are relations between neighbouring states so abysmally dysfunctional that rockets are continually lobbed over the border in hostilities so acute that fear reigns supreme?  This is terrorism writ large.  This is the siege of a population whom a neighbouring population loathes to the extent that it has attempted and will continue to attempt to extinguish it from the geography.

Children living in Sderot in southern Israel, on the border of Gaza know intimidation and fear.  They know what it feels like to be hated, threatened, and to be fearful that they and those they love will be killed by those who hate them.  Many of these children suffer mental problems as a result of the psychological pressures that accompany this type of threatening living condition.

When societies are under existential threat of possible annihilation they take measures to protect themselves.  During the Cold War when the Free World had to contend with the potential impact of a clash between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, both with an arsenal of atomic bombs and each suspicious that the other had plans to unleash Armageddon on the other, people were encouraged to build bomb shelters.

Municipalities built local bomb shelters, there were early warning signals launched to give people time to react to the possibility of an incoming weapon of mass destruction.  Children in elementary school practised daily exercises meant to alert them to the possibility of an attack, as though ducking under a school desk would somehow manage to preserve them from the obliterating effect of an atomic bomb, and anxiety levels were high, even though people learned to live with them.

Children in Sderot, Israel, actually experience those rockets whining overhead and zeroing in on their village.  They know what to do when the alerts signal an incoming rocket.  It has been a dozen years since the Israeli evacuation of a Jewish settlement presence in the Gaza Strip, and the hope was that Palestinians would undertake to discipline themselves to less crime and more attention to civilize themselves into a working state.

Instead, what has taken place is that a number of Palestinian terror militias have taken firm root and for a dozen years have been attacking across the border into Israel.  The number of suicide attacks has been severely cut back thanks to a restraining wall separating the Palestinians from the Jews, amidst claims of apartheid.  No wall can be built tall enough to stop rockets.

Along with new defences such as the "Iron Dome" to stop some of the rocket attacks, a $27.5-million structure containing the Shaar Hanegev High School for 1,200 students offers safety inside concrete walls reinforced windows and a specially designed architectural plan to deflect rocket fire. There is a heavily fortified elementary school, a special indoor playground with a mini-soccer field, video games and bomb shelters.
"You can concentrate on your studies.  It used to be that even before you said hello in the morning you were telling people where to run", explained the principal of the junior high school located inside the new complex.

The town of 24,000 residents has experienced fear and trepidation for far too long.  In the process eight people have been killed, hundreds more wounded and everyone has been traumatized by the incessant siren warnings and rockets raining down, exploding on buildings.

Since the IDF went into Gaza in a three-week offensive against Gaza militants where hundreds of civilians were killed among the 1,400 Palestinians who died, the Hamas government has maintained a semi-cessation of rocket fire.  Smaller armed groups continue to lob their rockets over the border, with 440 having been fired so far this year.

And in greater Israel, the population has been discovering pamphlets in their mailboxes issued by the military.  The pamphlets advise that people would have between 30 seconds and three minutes to find shelter between the time air raid sirens wail and rockets slam down into their area.  This 15-page pamphlet instructs Israelis how they may prepare a safe room or shelter for emergencies.

In the event, for example,of an Israeli military attack on Iran's nuclear installations it is assumed that Israel itself will be hit by a pre-arranged series of retaliatory attacks, principally from Iran, from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and from Hamas in Gaza.  If the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains in control despite the current civil war, they too might be expected to attack Israel.

This is the legacy of the modern-day Middle East; not that much different in its tribal antipathies, politics, social disruption and inter- and intra-religious strife than in the days of biblical yore.

Labels: , , , ,

() Follow @rheytah Tweet