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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Calling Out Racism -- Or A New Inquisition?

"[Dr. Henry Parada, director of Ryerson University's School of Social Work committed a cardinal sin] at a time when Black folks were giving praise to a young Black woman professor at a critical and vulnerable time ..."
"[His actions] perpetrate anti-Black racism ... indicated ... you [Dr. Parada] do not value anti-Black women, Black educators or education, Black experience, Black life and ultimately Black students ..."
"You chose to violently disrupt the speaker and the space."
Black Liberation Collective Ryerson branch
Ryerson University
Ryerson University   Henry Parada
Dr. Parada may have recalled some urgent task he had forgotten to look after at that juncture in the meeting on October 27, as he quietly left the gathering. But his departure was noted as was his absence at this event which was Black-oriented, requiring the utmost, rapt attention from all in attendance. Dr. Parada may have been less than rapt, turning his attention away from the awarding of praise to a black colleague, and he was accused of having committed "a violent act of anti-Blackness, misogyny and misogynoir" which translated means misogyny related to a black female.

Campuses across North America have been gorging themselves on a feast of raucous, outraged organized protests against anything that occurs at colleges and universities that is taken as a symptom of 'micro-aggression'. Included in that catch-phrase is anything that appears to belittle a 'special' unprivileged minority, as interpreted by that minority, including cultural appropriation, where at special events someone might be misguided enough to dress in a manner reflecting a culture other than their own. White people are of course particularly skilled at insulting minority groups and most of the ire is directed toward them.

The Black Liberation Collective that appears to have Ryerson University quaking in its scholarly boots sent an open letter to senior university and social work administrators, dated October 31; the letter was posted to Facebook the following day. Accusing Dr. Parada of failing "to contain your anti-Black rage", being responsible for "a public display of toxic masculinity", demanding imperiously that he "immediately step down" as director of the school of social work. He must also apologize in a very public arena "and publicly release how you will genuinely address anti--Black racism".

The professor, recognizing just how powerfully privileged was the rage against him, did step down as director of the university's School of Social Work. Who can blame him? The intention being that he would resume teaching in the guise of just another academic without pretensions to leadership in the field that he had so abysmally failed in. Undoubtedly, although this must be a great relief to him, it appears only to have further infuriated the collective black-feminist rage against the man; his swift accommodation of the initial demand meant he wasn't bleeding sufficiently to satisfy their bloodlust.

The tenor of this almost-inchoate venomous rage might seem to some onlookers like a demonstration of black anti-white racism, but of course that could not possibly be the case, could it? The letter was signed "In rage, solidarity and kindness" by "concerned students" whose names were not included on the letter, as well being signed by the social work student union, the Ryerson Feminist Collective and United Black Students at Ryerson. The kind rage expressed by all concerned certainly released a flood of vitriol and race-consciousness.

Students at a Black Liberation Collective Ryerson protest during a School of Social Work meeting this week.
Facebook    Students at a Black Liberation Collective Ryerson protest during a School of Social Work meeting this week.

Then on November 7 another kind missive was posted on Facebook in response to a response to the first one by the university: "We hear your concerns about Anti-Black Racism in the school and want to assure you we take them seriously. We ask for your patience as we continue to work to respond to the people, communities and constituencies involved", read the first letter from the social work school. Cravenly mollifying, hoping against hope that the surrender to black racism disguised in an impenetrable cloak of justness would calm the situation and restore order and 'mutual respect', but it did nothing of the kind.

What it did was elicit yet another tirade on Facebook: "This disingenuous response to our open letter is just another display of the anti-Black racism perpetrated by the School of Social work and particular individuals who benefit from maintaining this system of Whiteness." Quite the zinger that, but it hasn't finished the matter by any means. Those curious about what led to this furious distance between black students and the university have been informed by the BLC: "We can appreciate wanting to know the specifics of this event", under questioning of the purpose and reason for the Facebook postings.

Earning, however, the logic-free elucidation that anyone curious about what had occurred to engender the verbal fusillades by the BLC against Algonquin were posing "problematic questioning" and as such were themselves aiding, abetting and adding "to the anti-Black racism we are confronting". Ask not what your black brothers and sisters do on your behalf oh ye underprivileged. So there, ask not what drastic malfeasance against the black community at the university so well earned its collective rage, for by so doing, it becomes evident that you are part of the white conspiracy against blacks.

"We indict the School of Social Work of perpetrating anti-Black racism through placing our Black educators in the most precarious forms of employment, through particular educators allowing Black students to experience anti-Black racism in the classroom." Cower and wilt thou guilty! Demanding to meet with a variety of deans as well as "other higher administration" prepared to make a commitment to "challenging anti-Black racism and anti-Native racism" in a way that the BLC could guide, approve and graciously deign to accept.

And not to be forgotten was the requirement that "an official apology from Henry Parada that names what he did and why he stepped down" be humbly rendered for their relishment.

Torquemada would beam with pride, extending sincere congratulations. But of course in doing so he might also be opening himself to charges of cultural exploitation and expropriation. Only his heart was black, not his skin colour.

The unaffected and bemused onlooker might surmise in his/her ignorance that Ryerson University welcomed this situation. A banner appears across its website that reads: "Anti-oppression/social transformation/social justice". And if that isn't enough, here is their values statement: "School of Social Work is a leader in critical education, research and practice with culturally and socially diverse students and communities in the advancement of anti-oppression/anti-racism, anti-Black racism, anti-colonialism/decolonization, Aboriginal reconciliation, feminism, anti-capitalism, queer and trans-liberation struggles, issues in disability and Madness, among other social justice struggles."

Gag? Some might consider this unreconstructed drivel, giving ammunition to the disaffected in society, simmering with resentment and hatred at the very reality that in the past, before civil society developed a deep conscience of regret and dismay at its former unfortunate attitudes of discrimination against minorities. Yes, people of colour among others were disgracefully felt to be inferior and treated to an inferior status within society. 

Ameliorating that situation by completely reversing the social contract to replace it with one of guaranteed equality and respect appears to have done little to appease these 'progressive', 'activist' groups. In which instance, one can be forgiven for regretting the current state of affairs, while deploring the rancid stupidity of those feeling entitled to their episodic raging accusations while they themselves practise the delights of racism-in-reverse, black-on-white.

As for Ryerson, once again, they appear to have invited and welcomed the situation that has resulted in the utter abnegation of their "core values" statement: "We acknowledge that our School is on the land of the Mississaugas of New Credit. We support the struggles of Indigenous populations, nationally and globally, for Indigenous sovereignty and their collective rights. We educate about the intersectionality and interlocking of oppressions and seek to address their causes."

"As a community of people connected to the School of Social Work we agree that we will address micro-aggression as it occurs and discuss how we might be implicated in acts of micro-aggression." Which leads naturally enough to the empowered communities thus named reacting in acts of macro- aggression.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Preserving Mass Delusion -- The Palestinian Narrative

A makeshift shrine for Yasser Arafat days before his death in 2004.
A makeshift shrine dedicated to Yasser Arafat days before his death in 2004. Photograph: Kevin Freyer/AP

"There is not really enough space in any museum to adequately display Arafat's legacy."
"He brought unity, national pride, freedom and fight to the Palestinian people, and people really miss him."
"The Yasser Arafat Museum displays the Palestinian experience. It is the only venue in Palestine that presents the Palestinian narrative of events from the last century."
Mohammad Halayka, director, Yasser Arafat Museum

"We want to show the whole story of the Palestinian people, from the dawn of the 20th century until 2004. This story is of 100 years of conflict and dispossession, [but] also the role of Arafat, who is the main figure in this Palestinian journey."
We have kept it [Arafat's Ramallah bedroom] exactly as it was."
"I am totally convinced his death was not a natural death and most likely he was poisoned. Israel assassinated Yasser Arafat."
"The Arafat archive, which is probably the only coherent and comprehensive archive, was subject to several blows in Beirut and later in Gaza. The same goes for his belongings."
Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat nephew, Fatah Central Committee member 
(Photo: AFP)
Photo AFP

He was visually unprepossessing, in fact a bit of a cartoon figure with his stubby facial hair, his thick lips and wide, blubbery face, his love of appearing in a guerrilla uniform, presenting himself as a righteous fighter for Palestinian justice. He was a nasty little man, a lover of violent solutions which solved nothing; a primal instigator of mass murder, inciting Palestinians to 'resist' the presence of a Jewish state; motivated by hate more than his idea of a nationalism that existed on a feeble platform of 'heritage' in Palestine.

But he remains a hugely respected figure for the Palestinians who appear to genuinely mourn his absence with their sincere adulation of the man who became their legend. He was indeed legendary for his violent exploits, masterminding and encouraging suicide attacks against Israel and Israelis, fomenting a new kind of guerrilla threat through the hijacking of airplanes and ships, holding passengers to ransom to focus the world's attention on himself and his aspirations as someone who outperformed Fidel Castro as guerrilla extraordinaire.

However, people feeling themselves under duress informed they must make sacrifices for their ideological movement of the destruction of Israel leading to repossession of land they claim for their own are zealous in their strident demands and threats, proud to make them holding the world to attention and forcing the nation under threat to become a military occupier to preserve their own existence in a wholesale hostile geography. And so, what could be more fitting than a tribute museum to their vaunted hero.

Symbolism is far more impressive than simple truth and reality which have a way of undercutting the dramatic flair for which he was famous. And so, a sub-machine gun is poised alongside a copy of the Koran on the desk in his office, preserved for posterity over a pile of papers. Nearby, in a guards' room leaning against the wall is an AK-47, signifying the Palestinian struggle that has no end. The revolver he was accustomed to wearing on his hip in a holster is displayed separately in a case. Recalling his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly, setting a bold new assertion of presence in that hallowed chamber; gun in one hand, 'olive branch' in the other.
(Photo: Reuters)
Photo -- Reuters

The Yasser Arafat Museum's director, Mohammed Halayka explains that the artefacts, though numerous, yet lack completeness, since there are many other important documents and possessions of Yasser Arafat's that they have been unable to access. They are under Hamas control, remaining yet in the Gaza office that Arafat used, and closed to museum officials in reflection of the harmonious relations between Fatah and Hamas. Arafat's nephew adds that many other objects have been quite simply 'lost'. Among them their hero's original Nobel Peace Prize certificate; in its place is a reproduced copy obligingly supplied by the Nobel committee.

Within, among the displays there is also footage of significant events, including the "nakba", the catastrophe that struck Palestinian Arabs when Israel declared itself a state subsequent to the United Nations' declaration on Partition, a welcome invitation for Israel to proceed with its nascent state, a blow to Palestinian aspirations to rule the entire geography in perpetuity. When the 1948 war erupted with adjoining Arab nations assembling their militaries for a joint assault against the fledgling State of Israel, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled.

They were assured by the attacking nations that in short order they could return, once the Jews had been defeated and ousted from the geography. Life held many repeats of that failed joint attempt to destroy Israel, all adding to the festering hatred of the Palestinians in exile for the Jewish state and those who lived therein, despite that the Palestinian Arabs who had refused to leave, were now entitled to stay, as citizens of Israel. And the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands were absorbed in their new country of universal Jewish haven.

 Yasser Arafat, though he was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize had no real intention of formalizing and finalizing the Oslo Accord that would have resulted in a Palestinian state. Surrendering to the reality of a Jewish state and living alongside it with a Palestinian state was simply unacceptable to a conflict-ridden and -absorbed people demanding everything for themselves, and employing all means possible to inflict enough harm on Israelis to persuade them that departure from the land was the only means by which they could preserve their lives.

Palestinians inflicted themselves on Lebanon, and lived in 'refugee camps' throughout the Arab world, attacking Israel from those vantage points, including Jordan. Black September represented the Jordanian military clashing with Palestinians who were attacking Israel from their refugee camps. Fleeing Jordan, the militants settled in Lebanon. And when the Palestinian attacks out of Lebanon became too onerous for Israel to ignore, the Israeli military entered Lebanon to oust them from that vantage point.

The wall erected by Israel to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers did just that, while being condemned the world over as an apartheid wall. Yet now Lebanon, accustomed to terrorists in their midst as they are, with Hezbollah manipulating the government, is in the process of building a tall, wide concrete barrier to separate one of the more militant Palestinian refugee camps within its borders, to keep the terrorists within the camp away from Lebanese who never accepted the presence of Palestinians among them, holding them in contempt, denying them citizenship, just as all other Arab states with the exception of Jordan have done.

Rumours that Arafat and his cronies siphoned millions in aid funding from international sources that was always meant to support the Palestinian need of basic amenities and civil structures besmirched his reputation, but though the outside world and Israel in particular felt confident in that assertion, the Palestinians themselves coming to the same realization, all is forgiven in the adulation of a dead hero. In 2003, Forbes magazine listed the Arafat fortune at minimum at $300-million, while other estimates go as high as $1-billion.

As for his death a dozen years ago in France, the cause remains unsettled, although French doctors claim that Arafat died of a hemorrhagic stroke on November 11, 2004. His flu-like symptoms had continued to puzzle examining physicians. A military jet carried him to France once Egyptian and Jordanian doctors had failed to diagnose his failing health condition. Arafat's wife continues to insist that he died of poisoning, from something like Polonium, accusing Israel of having poisoned her husband, a stance that the Museum gives credit to for his death. Rumours are that his death was attributable to a claque within Fatah.

However, that doesn't represent the only inconsistencies with the truth about the man. The museum claims him to have been born in Jerusalem's Old City. One of the displays at the museum is a replica of a dwelling overlooking the Al Aqsa Mosque, identifying it as the home of Arafat's grandfather, and precisely where they claim the Palestinian hero had been born. Even while most historians say unequivocally that the man was born in Egypt, and only arrived in Jerusalem after his mother died, when he was four years of age.

"This is the house where he was born The stones are real. We brought them from the Old City, even though the house no longer exists", authoritatively insisted museum guide Dana Abdein. The Palestinian "cause" began before the creation of Israel in 1948, and Arafat was involved in it s a teenager; it became his destiny, to lead the Palestinians into the land occupied by Israel, as a conquest for Arabs and Islam. In this he failed, while managing to retain the adulation of those whose lives he made poorer through his campaign of hatred and violence.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Polarized Similarities and Comradeship

"Since 1980 Cuba has become the most thoroughly militarized nation on earth. According to the authoritative London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Cuban regular army numbers 145,000 men, most of them conscripted privates who serve for three years. They are backed up by at least 110,000 ready reserves, who are trained forty-five days or more annually. This force has been lavishly armed by the Soviet Union and boasts an astonishing 300 T-62 and 650 T-54/55 main battle tanks (MBTs). By way of comparison, Canada, with two and a half times the population, infinitely more wealth, and serious NATO commitments, relies upon a regular army of only 22,500, with 114 antiquated MBTs. Cuba's army also has 1,400 major artillery pieces, 60 light and amphibious tanks, and 650 other armored vehicles, as well as 600 anti-tank guns."
"The Cuban Navy, with 12,000 men, maintains three submarines, two modern guided-missile frigates, and a large number of patrol craft and minesweepers. Canada makes do with an equal number of submarines and twenty-three assorted anti-submarine-warfare vessels; its navy has only 10,000 men. The Cuban Air Force (whose previous chief, General Rafael del Pino, defected to the United States in 1987) is a very potent one. Its strength is 18,500 men(including the Air Defense Command), with 250 combat aircraft, mostly MiG-21, -23, and -27 models. Significantly, it possesses only seven troop-carrying Tupolev TU-154 transports, severely restricting Castro's ability to intervene on his own. Canada, with 23,050 airmen, has only three fighter squadrons, or roughly forty-five planes, to defend its skies. The Cuban military machine is considerably more powerful than that of any other Latin American nation-including Brazil, which has a population of 142 million, fourteen times Cuba's."
John Hoyt Williams, The Atlantic, 1988

"Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation." 
"While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for "el Comandante."
"I know my father was very proud to call him a friend ..."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau gets a hug from Cuban President Fidel Castro at the arrival in front of Notre Dame Church prior to the funeral of Pierre Trudeau.
Montreal Gazette-Pierre Obendrauf    Justin Trudeau gets a hug from Cuban President Fidel Castro at the arrival in front of Notre Dame Church prior to the funeral of Pierre Trudeau.

"El Comandante", that benevolent tyrant, didn't mind imposing economic hardships on his beloved Cubans. Cuba was and remains a fairly impoverished nation, but when it came to lavishing state funds on arms and a huge standing army disproportionate both to its population and its treasury, there was no question that was the priority in decision-making. Justin Trudeau loves describing himself as a liberal-progressive, his beaming countenance speaks of himself as a dedicated feminist, he argues on behalf of the LGBTQ2 community, he plans to legalize marijuana in Canada, he is a flower-power poster child.

But this man whose experience as a private school drama coach and a lecturer on snowboarding, both of which certainly prepared him to administer the affairs of a nation, a man who demanded lavish fees from charitable organizations as a public speaker coasting on his father's name-recognition burnishing his aura of the dauphin of a royal family, comes by his attraction to power in any guise in which it presents itself fairly naturally. He has in the past expressed admiration for the Chinese Communist Party government's ability to turn its economy "on a dime". As for the Iranian theocracy, there is the matter of moral relativism.

He and his brother view the Castro dynasty as a gift to the world.

Where Canada's previous, Conservative-led government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper diplomatically condemned Russia for its Ukraine-Crimea outrages, and Iran for its terrorism affiliation and nuclear aspirations, Mr. Trudeau, spurred by his great store of global wisdom and his belief that "sunny ways" can win over the most grudging, malevolent tyrant, is opening doors to renewing diplomatic relations with Iran, with China, with Russia to restore them to Canada's good graces and trade opportunism.

Castro visits Vietnam.
Castro visits Vietnam.

Fidel Castro may be Justin Trudeau's idea of a great man, a revolutionary of distinction, a leader of sturdy idealism, a romantic personage and an orator unmatched but by U.S. President Barack Obama, his other very good friend on the opposite spectrum more closely aligned to Trudeau's own, but that Castro was an unrepentant tyrant who turned his countrymen into guns-for-hire was undeniable. Cuba is famous for its doctors sent abroad to give medical aid anywhere it is needed, but the polar opposite was also true, that the Cuban military was busy in Africa and the Middle East, training and fighting  and doing what Castro defined to himself as a world of good.

A Cuban tank crew in Angola in 1987. Tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers fought in that country's civil war during the 1970s and 80s. A Cuban tank crew in Angola in 1987. Tens of thousands of Castro’s soldiers fought in that country’s civil war during the 1970s and 80s

Castro dispatched a Cuban mission to Ghana in 1961, and two years later its military forces were in Algeria. African nations became the stage for a thousand soldiers and military advisers by 1966 to strut the Cuban expertise in guerrilla warfare. Cuban combat units fought in Guinea-Bissau against Portuguese colonial rule. Eritrean rebels in their secessionist war against Ethiopia warranted training instructors among them. South Yemen saw the appearance of hundreds of Cuban military, and Dhofai guerrillas destabilizing Oman were also trained by the Cuban military.

Hundreds of Cuban tank crews took part in the 1973 Arab Israel War.
Hundreds of Cuban tank crews took part in the 1973 Arab Israel War.

Castro send 500 Cuban tank commanders to Syria where they died fighting the Yom Kippur War launched by combined Arab states against Israel. Castro must have viewed it as an imperative that its combat troops not disappoint their oppressed Arab friends in the Middle East when Syria and Egypt plotted that very special surprise for Israel, an attack invasion in 1973, fighting alongside Iraq, Morocco, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. Why station Cuban troops in the Middle East in support of Arabs fighting colonialism and ignore the presence of a Western intruder, after all? Which required that 4,000 combat troops along with tank commanders, helicopter crews be co-located with those battling that symbol of Western imperialism.

Fidel Castro and the House of Assad
Castro and Hafez al-Assad pictured attending a 1979 Non-Aligned Countries Summit meeting [Getty]
What, in all of this history, is there not to elicit the most profound admiration and gratitude for the presence in Cuba of a dedicated revolutionary, a protector of the underdog, an unerring guide to the future of the Cuban people, where education, medicine, and a society equal in its desperate need for the most basic goods to help make a life of general privation tolerable, worshipped its leader who sent off his conscripts to all parts of the world languishing in need of the Cuban military to define their futures.

And, of course, led countless tens of thousands of other Cubans to set off in whatever would float, to abandon their beloved country to Castro and his minions, while they either drowned in the effort, or made a new life for themselves and their families in the United States which gave them safe harbor. Miami is Cuba, Cuba is not Miami. Contenders for the presidential election were represented by Cuban-Americans. Castro and all that he represented was scorned and hated by Cuban-Americans; how very unreasonable of them, but there is simply no accounting the manner in which people make their peculiar alliances....

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

His Way, All The Way, Full Speed Ahead

"The European Parliament ... strongly condemns the disproportionate repressive measures taken in Turkey since the failed military coup attempt in July."
Non-binding motion сalling on the European Commission and national governments to institute the largely symbolic freeze in negotiations with Ankara.
© Murad Sezer / Reuters

"The government and parliament can extend the length of state of emergency. What's it to you? Does the European Parliament rule this country or the government [of Turkey]? Know your limits! Those days are over."
"Saying ‘don't fight terrorism’ to a country who fights against terror every day is to tell them to put up the shutters."
"Are you [European Parliament] inviting terrorist groups? [Turkey will continue to] go on its way no matter what they say."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. © Murad Sezer

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan feels that he should be imperviously protected from criticism emanating from within his own nation. To that end he has launched a series of lawsuits against anyone who dares defame him or question his authority. And since the independent press in a democratic society is given to questioning the legality or the justice in certain processes undertaken by governments, those enquiries are viewed by Mr. Erdogan as "terrorist" activities, which require that the government crack react forcefully.

Any hints of support for Kurdish nationalist aspirations is tantamount to treason. If news stories forget to state the number of people killed in the attempted coup of last summer, this represents proof of sympathies toward terrorism. According to Erol Onderoglu as the Turkish representative with Reporters Without Borders, 150 news outlets have been closed down while government-loyal business people have been urged to take possession of the remaining news outlets. Turkey has succeeded in out-distancing China's repression of journalists and the news media.

"What's left, they are all basically Pravda", Gulsin Harman, a former journalist for one independent now in government hands, observed glumly. While a senior official with the government stated that jailed journalists were in prison for criminal and terrorist offenses, certainly not for their unfortunate journalism.  Erdogan took on emergency powers in the wake of the failed military coup purportedly carried out by supporters of Turkish Muslim cleric in exile Fethullah Gulen.

Other "terrorists" abound in Turkey. There is, for example, the Kurdish movement restive to persuade anyone who will turn a sympathetic ear to their just wish to be finally accorded the national homeland their heritage status in the geography demands -- their actions and their perceived alliance with the PKK, designates them a terrorist group of the first order, seen to be a threat to Turkey that must be countered by arrests and whatever other means suggest themselves.

Oh, yes, and then there's the Gulenist movement which Turkey accuses of having masterminded and carried out the attempted military coup which loyal Turks helped the government to successfully defend itself against. They too, needless to say, are terrorists, which explains why tens of thousands of civil servants, police, lawyers, judges, teachers and other riff-raff within Turkish society have been arrested as enemies of the state.

The insufferably interfering European Union protests that Turkey's over-reaction to these events disqualifies it from membership in the EU.

The summary and absurdly justified arrests of Kurdish members of Parliament, the military bombardment of Kurdish enclaves and villages in the south-eastern Kurdish-majority areas of Turkey
all represent glaringly obvious instances of violent repression from a government that insists it is justified in whatever action it takes to counter the "terrorism" it faces from within and without. 
Turkey has historically repeatedly faced criticism from the EU for its record on human rights, democracy and freedom of the press. No less so today.

President Erdogan's declaration that he is seriously considering the reinstatement of capital punishment to deal with terrorist traitors who he charges took part in the coup has also alarmed EU lawmakers. Entirely justifying Mr. Erdogan's not-so-veiled threats that he is also considering releasing himself and his government from the year-old agreement with the EU to hold back the tide of Syrian refugees from once again overwhelming Europe by dangerously crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats to invade Greece in their passage through Europe.

Refugees wait for the arrival of officals at Nizip refugee camp near Gaziantep © Umit Bektas

This is Erdogan's Trump card. Perhaps the EU should consult with the president-elect of the United States, a man they have learned to love to hold in deep abhorrence and who they might feel has much in common with Erdogan, and who may yet surprise them when it turns out they are wrong. The simple fact being that it takes a very special mindset to reflect Erdogan's grandiose vision of himself as the caliph the Muslim world has long been yearning for. Mr. Trump has a personal aversion to that kind of aspiration, even though it mirrors what he has himself orchestrated elsewhere.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Public Enemy No.1, Drug Overdoses, Fentanyl

"[China has added to its list of controlled substances including some variants of fentanyl] but the drugs that made it to Canada [fentanyl and carfentanil], are not controlled in China."
"Fentanyl abuse has not been identified in China. The Chinese government's focus is on other synthetic drugs of abuse like methamphetamine and ketamine."
"British Columbia is the] main distribution point' for fentanyl tablets]. This may be due to its geographical situation in relation to the main producer of fentanyl in the world, China."
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Todd Shean

"They're [Chinese authorities] still aware of the problem internationally."
"China [has a] desire to move forward and step away from being always the one that everybody's pointing the finger at."
Sgt. Luc Chicoine, national drug program co-ordinator, RCMP 
Fentanyl pills

Because fentanyl and the even deadlier carfentanil, also now entering the Canadian blackmarket are not on the controlled drug list that China maintains, and the reason they are not on the list is that these two laboratory-produced opioid-like drugs are not circulating within China because they are not popular in China, drug marketers have no trouble accessing them on line and ordering them, often on the "black Web". While fentanyl is more deadly to users than cocaine, carfentanil, used to tranquilize huge beasts like elephants is hundreds of times more powerful, and now circulating on the street, cut into other, less powerful drugs.

No fewer than a dozen online vendors out of China are more than happy to take orders, and prepared to export carfentanil abroad. For drug dealers it's a steal, to pay as little as $2,700 a kilogram. A little bit of carfentanil goes a long, long way, and there's a  huge profit waiting to be made for dealers whose scruples don't keep them awake at night, or from mixing the deadly drug with other street drugs that are more costly to extract a larger profit.

"Despite periodic crackdowns, people willing to skirt the law are easy to find in China's vast, free-wheeling chemicals industry", wrote an investigative report by Associated Press, while noting that China controls 18 fentanyl-related compounds, but not fentanyl itself. A thriving and large industry involved in chemically producing illicit drugs not far from the port city of Shanghai exists. Canadian dealers are eager to take advantage of opportunities to make a killing.

That killing relates to 332 overdose deaths from January to September in British Columbia alone, representing a 196 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the coroner's service. The dreaded carfentanil, reputed to be 200 times more powerful than fentanyl has arrived on the streets of Vancouver. And it will be turning up mixed in with cocaine and heroin, just as fentanyl has done. The death toll will continue to rise as shipments arrive in Canada.

Printer ink, toys and DVDs are some of the ingenious objects used to contain and convey these illicit drugs. In response, the RCMP has distributed over 13,00 naloxone spray kits, opioid antidotes which if used sufficiently swiftly when an overdose occurs, can serve to reverse it, although first-responders are increasingly discovering that increasingly, with some overdose instances, avoiding death has demanded the use of two kits, to be effective.

Among authorities in Canada, the  hope now is that China will want to cooperate with international partners suffering from the scourge of the imported chemicals from China that are killing so many users. But while 115 items have been added to China's list of controlled substances including some variants of fentanyl, it and carfentanil have not been added to that list. And it is those two chemicals in particular that are wreaking havoc in Canada and the United States.

Pointing to the reality that there exists a "disparity between what Canada and China consider a public health crisis". he RCMP maintains two la=iaison officers based in China. The matter is sufficiently critical that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson met with his Chinese counterpart, Chen Zhimin, vice0minister for public security, agreeing to work together with the intention of disrupting the symthetic opioids after signing a memoranum of understanding.

"How about paying $400 a head to the Nazi regime? Too much? How about $200?"

Gangs of thugs in brown shirts owned the streets. They drove around in trucks, flashing their guns and their swastika armbands, hooting at the pretty girls. If they wanted to pick you up or beat you up, they did so with impunity. Anybody who resisted was beaten or killed or taken away to Dachau or Buchenwald or some other concentration camp. (You must understand that at that time, the concentration camps were prisons where opponents of the Nazi regime were detained . . . The inmates were made to work at hard labor and lived in dreadful conditions, but the words 'concentration camp' came to stand for monstrous cruelty and almost certain death. Nobody even imagined there would one day be a death camp like Auschwitz.)

Cheering crowds greet Hitler as he enters Vienna. Austria, March 1938.
Cheering crowds greet Hitler as he enters Vienna. Austria, March 1938.
Wide World Photo

How can I describe to you our confusion and terror when the Nazis took over? We had lived until yesterday in a rational world. Now everyone around us -- our schoolmates, neighbours, and teachers; our tradesmen, policemen, and bureaucrats -- had all gone mad. They had been harboring a hatred for us which we had grown accustomed to calling 'prejudice'. What a gentle word that was! What a euphemism! In fact they hated us with a hatred as old as their religion; they were born hating us, raised hating us; and now with the Anschluss, the veneer of civilization which had protected us from their hatred was stripped away.

Jews in Vienna forced to scrub Schuschnigg's slogans off the sidewalk --

On the pavements, protesters had written anti-Nazi slogans. The SS grabbed Jews and forced them at gunpoint to scrub off the graffiti while crowds of Austrians stood around jeering and laughing.

The Nazi radio blamed us for every filthy evil thing in this world. The Nazis called us subhuman and, in the next breath, superhuman; accused us of plotting to murder them, to rob them blind; declared that they had to conquer the world to prevent us from conquering the world. The radio said that we must be dispossessed of all we owned; that my father, who had dropped dead while working, had not really worked for our pleasant flat -- the leather chairs in the dining room, the earrings in my mother's ears -- that he had somehow stolen them from Christian Austria, which now had every right to take them back.

Members of the League of German Girls wave Nazi flags in support of the German annexation of Austria. Vienna, Austria, March 1938.
Members of the League of German Girls wave Nazi flags in support of the German annexation of Austria. Vienna, Austria, March 1938.   — Dokumentationsarchiv des Oesterreichischen Widerstandes

Did our friends and our neighbors really believe this? Of course they didn't believe it. They were not stupid. But they had suffered depression, inflation, and joblessness. They wanted to be well-to-do again, and the fastest way to accomplish that was to steal. Cultivating a belief in the greed of the Jews gave them an excuse to steal everything the Jews possessed.

We sat in our flats, paralyzed with fear, waiting for the madness to end. Rational, charming, witty, dancing, generous Vienna must surely rebel against such insanity We waited and we waited and it didn't end and it didn't end and still we waited and we waited.

The restrictions against Jews spread into every corner of our lives. We couldn't go to movies or concerts. We couldn't walk on certain streets. The Nazis put up signs on Jewish shop windows warning the population not to buy there. Mimi was fired from her job at the dry cleaners because it had become illegal for Christians to employ Jews. Hansi was no longer allowed to go to school.

SS men supervise the confiscation of goods belonging to Jews deported from Vienna --

Uncle Richard went to the cafe where he had been going for twenty years. It now had a Jewish side and an Aryan side, and he sat on the Jewish side. Because he had fair hair and didn't look Jewish, a waiter, who did not know him, said he had to move to the Aryan side. But on the Aryan side, a waiter who did know him said that he had to go back to the Jewish side. He finally gave up and went home.

Baron Louis de Rothschild, one of the wealthiest Jewish men in Vienna, tried to leave the city. The Nazis stopped him at the airport and put him in prison, and whatever they did to him there convinced him that he ought to sign over everything to the Nazi regime. Then they let him leave. The SS took over the Rothschild Palace on Prinz Eugenstrasse and renamed it the Center for Jewish Emigration.

Right after Grandmother died, the world held a conference at Evian-les-Bains, a luxurious spa in the French Alps near Lake Geneva, at which the fate of the Austrian Jews was up for discussion. Eichmann sent representatives of our community to plead with other countries to pay the Nazi ransom and take us in. "Don't you want to save the urbane, well-educated, fun-loving, cultured Jews of Austria?" they asked. "How about paying $400 a head to the Nazi regime? Too much? How about $200?"

They couldn't get a cent.

No country wanted to pay for our rescue, including the United States. The dictator of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo, took a few Jews, thinking they might help bring some prosperity to the tiny, impoverished country. I have heard that they did.

Transport list of Viennese Jews -- www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

From the NAZI Officer's WIFE -- Edith Hahn Beer, c.1999

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Friday, November 25, 2016

A Fiery Terrorist Conflagration

"Every fire that was caused by arson, or incitement to arson, is terrorism by all accounts. And we will treat it as such. Whoever tries to burn parts of Israel will be punished for it severely."
"I want to say as clearly as possible, any fire caused by arson, or by incitement to arson, is terrorism, and we will deal with it accordingly. That is my directives to the security services – we will deal with all acts of lawlessness. Anyone who tries or will try to burn parts of Israel will be punished with all severity."
"It's a crime for all intents and purposes and in our opinion it is terror for all intents and purposes."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 
"This is something that harms all of us. This is not a story or Arab or Jew. Whoever did this is an enemy of all of us", stressed Ayman Odeh, chief of the joint Arab bloc of parties in the Israeli Knesset, a native of Haifa, whose appeal went out to all Israelis that "politics" needed to be abandoned, and set aside at this critical time for Israel's survival. At the same time, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated that Israel has been placed on yet another alert, that "we need to be prepared for a new type of terror"

Time will tell whether Israel, still reeling over a year of knife stabbings, vehicle ramming and shootings, is being over-alarmist for what this four-day hellfire outburst represents. 

Firefighters work as a wildfire burns in the northern city of Haifa, Israel November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
This is the time of year when wildfires begin to rage in the dry climate where Israel exists. What struck those in authority was that while it was understandable that the tinder-dry conditions reflecting the fact that no rain has fallen in the area for months, that it was only in Israel itself that wildfires were erupting. None were seen to occur in the West Bank and Gaza, areas that share the same atmospheric conditions as Israel. 

And then suspicion fell upon the same demographic among the Palestinians who have been responsible for a year's worth of attacks against Israelis in what was called the 'dagger Intifada', which appeared to have morphed into the 'wildfire Intifada'.

The fires have sprung up all over Israel; dry windy weather has helped immensely as fire presented the danger of destroying parts of Israel's third largest city, the seaport of Haifa, necessitating the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. Incidents of looting at the site of emptied neighbourhoods were apprehended. 

As firefighters in Israel, using newly-acquired fire-fighting equipment hoped to contain the fires, offers came in from the international community for help. No serious injuries were seen though people suffered from smoke inhalation, requiring hospitalization.

Hundreds of military reservists were called up to aid the police and firefighters tasked with the difficult job of saving neighbourhoods, evacuating people, fighting the wildfires cropping up with deadly intent. The natural savagery of uncontrolled wildfires capable of demolishing structures in swift fury given the prevailing conditions, only made it seem more horrendous that the devastation could have been deliberately caused, as acts of sabotage, arson from the hearts of those so deeply immersed in hatred that the consequences of their actions would seem inconsequential.

The hashtag #IsraelIsBurning became a popular social venting mechanism for Israel haters to vent their spleen in the jubilation that huge harm was being perpetrated and causing wholesale disruption and danger in the lives of Jews. Ignoring the obvious fact that the lives of Israeli Arabs and Christians, Kurds and Druze also have been freighted with danger impacting on the entire population vulnerable to the outbreaks. 

It's a sobering thought that such destructive power might owe its presence to human agency.

"It's safe to assume that whoever is setting the fires isn't doing it only out of pyromania. It's safe to assume that if it is arson, it is politically motivated", commented Israel's police chief Roni Alsheich, while announcing to the news media that arrests have been made; from all accounts sixteen in all, although the burden of proof may not be solid in all of these arrests. Even while the evidence in the form of video recordings will most likely stamp the seal of adequate evidence in some of the cases where arrests have been made of implicated individuals.

If Israelis are feeling embattled, they needn't, at this juncture feel internationally isolated. Offers of assistance have come in from some surprising sources, not only from the Middle East, but from eastern Europe and elsewhere, where Israel has established working relationships with other nations. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, reported that the Palestinian Authority offered the aid of their own fire-fighting teams to flight the blazes. "A humanitarian gesture" according to to Yousef Nassar, director general of the Palestinian Civil Defence.
A fire near Jerusalem. (Credit: Police Spokesperson's Unit)
Offers have been received from Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Spain, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus willing to send fire-fighting equipment and crews to Israel. Egypt and Jordan have also expressed a willingness to give fire-fighting aid to Israel. The United States received an appeal from Israel to fly in a 747 super-tanker fire-fighting colossus and it too arrived in Israel to do its fire-fighting assignment.

On the opposite side of the ledger, Arab social media has become infused with enthusiasm over the wildfires, wildly celebrating the destruction that has so far been reported and the threats to human life, taking immense pleasure in the spectacle of their perceived enemy desperately battling to save life and property from total ruination.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Brief History of Time and Place: UNRWA, the Palestinians and Israeli Right of Existence

"An article by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen reported that in 2001 the Islamic Development Bank transferred $538 million raised by Saudi and Gulf royal telethons to support families of Palestinian suicide bombers and the cause of the Palestinian intifada.[16] On August 1, 2001 Dr Ahmad Muhammad Ali, a Saudi academic and president of the Islamic Development Bank, reportedly said during an interview with Asharq al-Awsat: “There was no delay in paying financial assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs…We have started paying them soon after receiving the money."
"The  Islamic Development Bank (IDB), is made up of 5 groups:
  • The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit
  • The Islamic Research & Training Institute
  • The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation
  • The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development
  • Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector
"Until very recently, the main funders of UNRWA were the member states of the United Nations.
Now, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), is listed as one of the funders of UNRWA on the new chart of donors issued by UNRWA."                                                                       David Bedein: The New Islamic Funders of UNRWA --

The gate to an UNRWA facility in Gaza.
The gate to an UNRWA facility in Gaza.
Photo Credit: Wissam Nassar/FLASH90
"UNRWA, in particular, dropped all pretenses of being a neutral body, which UN agencies claim is their policy when they are interposed within an armed conflict. UNRWA’s deputy commissioner, Margot Ellis, complained at a UN donor conference about a lack of construction materials in the Gaza Strip, pointing to “the illegal blockade imposed by Israel.” She added that the blockade had “now intensified with the non-admittance of building supplies urgently needed for UNRWA construction projects – to build schools and rehabilitate shelters.” Ellis did not even raise the fact that Hamas had been siphoning off building supplies for its vast underground tunnel network, the extent of which was revealed by Operation Protective Edge."
Ambassador Dore Gold,  former Israeli ambassador to the UN
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) was authorized in 1949 and estabkusged in 1950, as an arm of the United Nations with a special mission, funded by the international community in support of Palestinian refugees. This type of organization is not unique to the Palestinians; after all conflicts resulting in refugee populations requiring international support, the United Nations appoints group-specific agencies to aid in their social and financial support with a particular mission to settle them elsewhere in the world, eventually removing their refugee status when haven is found elsewhere.

And eventually the mission tasked to look to their interests is dissolved, with no further need for their auspices when all the refugees resulting from one conflict or another have been settled. This has never happened with the Palestinians. They themselves insist that they be regarded as refugees in perpetuity, until such time as the State of Israel, which they claim was founded on land belonging to the Palestinians, is no more, and they can all return whence they came. The surrounding Arab/Muslim nations which incited them to remain refugees by refusing to give them citizenship initiated this culture of refugee status.

Now UNRWA, as the United Nation's internationally funded welfare agency whose client is exclusively the Palestinian diaspora living in refugee camps dispersed within the Middle East, the West Bank and Gaza, represents the longest active such refugee agency that has ever existed, with no end in sight, unless Israel agreeably submits to the demand that it cease existence. An unlikely scenario for a nation and a country which has returned to its roots and providing haven for an ingathering of Jews expelled from Arab countries with others returning to their ancient homeland from around the world.

UNRWA has become a stand-alone business, a corporate interest of its own, funded by the United Nations, few questions asked. Re-settlement as refugees abroad is out of the question since the 'refugees' insist they must return 'home' to Palestine. That would be the very same Palestine of the late 19th, early 20th Century where its inhabitants were Palestinians to be certain, and all Jews, most of whom had never in history departed from the area. The succeeding Arab population from Egypt and elsewhere in the vicinity simply took on the mantle of Palestinians.
Ottoman era Palestine -- Jews in Jerusalem praying at the Wailing Wall

And it is those Palestinians, as refugees, who comprise the majority of UNRWA employees. Of the 30,000 employed by UNRWA, several hundred are non-Palestinians, the rest are Palestinian employees. UNRWA represents the largest single employer in Gaza and the West Bank. Compare that to the entire UN High Commission for Refugees which employs five to six thousand people globally. The UN High Commission for Refugees has a distinct focus to resettle and rehabilitate refugees so they may take on new lives. In contrast, the UNRWA specific to Palestinian refugees maintains services that a civil society would otherwise provide.

It has been UNRWA which has given official designation as refugees to all offspring of the original Palestinians granted the designation of refugees, approximately 700,000 originally. A number which has swelled over the past 60 years to an estimated six and a half million Palestinians considering themselves legitimate refugees, a status that UNRWA is in agreement with. And it is that number of six and a half million that the Palestinians insist must be welcomed back to the area where they claim to have originated from: Israel.

Their claim to 'right of return' would simply overwhelm the current population of Israel, a majority of Israeli Jews, but one and a half million Palestinian citizens, along with a large Christian community, another of Druze and Bedouin and Kurds, as well as the Muslim-persecuted Baha'i community whose World Centre is located in Haifa, Israel. Israel is a state where all were welcome and offered citizenship and equality under the law. In contrast, the lives of Jews exposed to Palestinians in their towns are fraught with danger.

UNRWA's mission elsewhere in the world would be to provide refugee relief. For the Palestinian mission it has shifted to providing education and the expansion of a legal mandate to protect and represent the refugees. Effectively the clients of UNRWA, the Palestinians, have gained control of the organization and the education provided through their auspices is a simmering cauldron of hatred passed on from adult to the next generation.

UNRWA stepped in where the Palestinians should have been creating their own civil institutions to foster a democratic society, prepared to launch itself into statehood in an agreement with its neighbour that would guarantee a cessation of hostilities and mutual acceptance of each other's presence. Instead, UNRWA became a permanent installation, neutrality vanished as it handed over the organization to its clients and UNRWA itself undertook an adversarial position with Israel, exacerbating disagreements between Jews and Arabs, rather than aiding their resolution.

Palestinians will never be responsible for themselves and grow into a civil society based on democratic order and respect for the law and justice to prevail, as long as the smokescreen of a United Nations protector from the consequences of its rabid hatred against Israel and its determination to wreak destructive havoc materially and through the loss of lives carries on unimpeded because the international community regards Palestinians as victims not the perpetrators of violence they inflict upon their neighbours.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Containing Sectarian Violence in Mosul

"The atmosphere is good. The wells are almost fully under control. They extinguished most. Some of them are still ablaze, but we see the morning, we can see the sun."
"Ten days ago, this sky was completely dark. You couldn't distinguish day from night."
Mohannad Seoud Ahmad Matar, Qayara shop owner
  • Oil workers try to extinguish burning oil fields in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. For months, residents of the Iraqi town of Qayara have lived in darkness from a cloud of toxic fumes released by oil fields lit by retreating Islamic State fighters. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
    Oil workers try to extinguish burning oil fields in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. For months, residents of the Iraqi town of Qayara have lived in darkness from a cloud of toxic fumes released by oil fields lit by retreating Islamic State fighters. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  

"The work accelerated since the security situation improved."
"But it's still unclear how long it will take to finish, as there are still fires in wells and scattered oil pools."
Assem Jihad, Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman

"People usually came to our health center seeking treatment for symptoms like fever, coughing, respiratory problems, diarrhea and asthma complications."
"Now that the main oil fire is not burning anymore, the number of patients is down. So it's an improvement from when we first came — then there was no medication or health care here."
Dr. Tayseer Alkarim, oncologist, WAHA, France-based group

Oil workers and firefighters have finally succeeded in putting out some of the oil well fires set by retreating Islamic State fighters months ago, close to the Iraqi town of Qayara, not far from Mosul. There were 54 wells in the area that once pumped close to ten thousand barrels daily. And then ISIL took the fields in 2014 and everything changed for the residents. Sighting from the town's edge at this point, five well heads can still be viewed burning at different sites.

But eight of those wells that once were also burning after having been deliberately torched by the retreating fighters, were successfully extinguished in the past several weeks, most of the wells located close to the town's homes. The town's residents were resentful of how long it had taken the government to tend to the incendiary misery they were living with while in their defence authorities cited security concerns with militants still firing mortars into the area.

Attention also had to be focused on clearing the booby traps and unexploded ordinance that Islamic State so thoughtfully left behind in their wake. Bulldozers in nearby oilfields shovelled dirt over the burning ground in efforts to smother the flames. But black crude flowed opportunistically in other, newly-made streams in concert with each of the bulldozers' shovelling, making it obvious that their efforts were entirely in vain.
Iraqi security forces advance in Qayara, south of Mosul, to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq
Iraqi security forces advance in Qayara, south of Mosul, to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, 
Iraq, October 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

When Qayara was liberated from Islamic State jihadis by the Iraqi security forces, retaliatory violence followed as ISIL fighters retreated, the Iraqi forces feeling entitled to believe that ISIL had support from the Sunni residents of the town. The violence that took place ensured that distrust between the Shiite military and the Sunni residents of Qayara was at an understandably high level. The government of Iraq understands well that its response in badly needed services at this juncture could go far to normalizing reconciliation.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Spycraft's Ubiquity

"Russia and China, in particular, continue to target Canada's classified information and advanced technology, as well as government officials and systems."
Canadian Security Intelligence Service briefing note
A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa, May 14, 2013.
A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa.  Photo Credit: PC / Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

"Canada remains a target for the traditional espionage activities of a number of foreign states, which continue to gather political, economic and military information in Canada through clandestine means."
"States and other entities abroad have interests -- political, economic and territorial -- and will pursue those interests by a variety of means. Some will do so through espionage and interference, targeting the Canadian economy, strategic interests and assets, societal institutions and members of the diaspora."
Tahera Mufti, spokeswoman, CSIS

"Information gathering is a vital component of national security of any state."
"[The U.S. National Security Agency's capabilities are] unmatched in imposing surveillance on a global scale [through electronic devices and eavesdropping even on close allies]."
Kirill Kalinin, spokesman, Russian Embassy in Canada

"This position is firm [Beijing opposes all forms of cyberattacks and commercial espionage]."
"The Chinese government will neither encourage companies to carry out cybertheft for commercial secrets, nor take part in such activities."
Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman, China

Putting the lie to denials that foreign intelligence agencies attempt to use any means at their disposal for intelligence-gathering, in Canada three years ago Canadian navy officer Jeffrey Delisle was arrested and charged with passing classified intelligence to Russia for cash for a period of over four years. His reason for doing so was not political or ideological, but purely venal; he said he needed the money to pay his debts. Russia wouldn't care what he needed the money for.
Canadian accused of trying to pass sensitive information to China

For his troubles, he is no longer concerned about paying his debts. He pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for handling classified intelligence over to Russian agents. It was not only secret Canadian documents that found their way into Moscow's hands, but documents with a far wider sweep that might have had far-reaching consequences. This was material that was shared by the Five Eyes Intelligence community of nations.

Five Eyes is comprised of other Western countries that share Canada's values and commitments. The Five Eyes intelligence sharing network includes the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, Canada. The revelation that a Canadian spy handed over shared documents constituted a true embarrassment for Canada, along with the fear that much more than Canadian interests would be compromised.

But then it took someone like Edward Snowden to release damning data of immense proportions in the secret files of the American National Security Agency. A far larger, damaging embarrassment. And the irony is that this man, who felt entitled to betray his country on the "need to know" theorem that the agency was spying on its own population as well as its collegial political partners, and they should know all about it has eluded penalty.

Oh, the truly ironic part is that he found haven in Russia which generously permitted him to remain there, in safety from American prosecution of a man perceived to be a traitor by many, a hero by many more. The irritating and potentially dangerous issue of cyberspying and of suborning the patriotism and trustworthiness of foreign nationals does constitute a threat to national security.

A highly sophisticated intrusion into the network of the National Research Council in Ottawa, was traced by the federal government back to state-sponsored sources in China within the Chinese military. The upshot was that the information technology system of the NRC was forced to shut down for an extended period until it could be reliably secured, even while China vehemently denied charges it was involved.

Russia has used cyberattacks to shut down the entire Internet system in Estonia, interfered through the same means in Ukraine cutting off electricity to a large geographic swathe, and was furious when Latvia cut off Russian Internet connection, to put a halt to Russian propaganda. That's on its near-abroad. It went a lot further when it interfered with the Internet website of the U.S. Democratic Party during the recent U.S election campaign, releasing information inimical to Hillary Clinton's election for the presidency through WikiLeaks. Denials ensued.

All this, at a time when the world, and Canada as well, is immersed in the problems of threatened violence by Islamist terrorists and jihadist extremists setting the world on edge. Espionage from that source represents yet another worrying dilemma. In this era post-Cold War, relationships between countries are continuing to undergo freeze-and-thaw cycles. And into that melange of restoring relations and alternately placing them on ice, espionage continues its traditional role.

Zhang Junsai, China's ambassador to Canada, poses at his Ottawa residence. (Dave Chan FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
China’s ambassador to Canada said that Canadians’ concerns over spying are groundless and stem from a “cold war mentality.”  The Globe and Mail

"I can assure you that our companies working in other countries, they are strictly doing business according to the local law."
"There's all this talk about so-called security concerns, but so far, all groundless."
Zhang Junsai, Chinese Ambassador to Canada

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