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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pakistan, U.S. Partner in War Against Terrorism

"This is a judicial coup. Had this been about corruption, there would have been a trial, not direct intervention by the Supreme Court, which should only be the court of final appeal in criminal matters."
"The military in Pakistan knows the difficulties of a military coup, so now hidden powers are using the judiciary."
"[The Supreme Court of Pakistan validated previous military coups citing the] doctrine of necessity."
Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States

"It is a populist judgment, which has opened the doors for the disqualification of politicians on flimsy grounds."
"It is highly flawed in procedure and substance."
"What  is the hurry; why the short cuts? He has a right to due process."
Asma Jahangir, Pakistani lawyer

"Civilian supremacy over the military is a must."
"The prime minister is the boss, not the army chief. This is what the constitution says. We all have to live within the four walls of the constitution."
Nawaz Sharif, May 2013 (former Prime Minister of Pakistan)
Al-Qaeda's Zawahiri
Social Media Website via Reuters/File Photo Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence1 agency (ISI) has been protecting the Egyptian-born al-Zawahiri, a trained surgeon, since U.S. forces evicted Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in late 2001 

Nawaz Sharif's dismissal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan this week as Prime Minister does not represent a shocking new approach in cutting loose a political challenger of the powerful Pakistani military and its sinister, Islamist-infiltrated Inter-service Intelligence Agency that has supported Islamist terrorism against India as well as the Taliban and al-Qaeda operating in Afghanistan to destabilize the political and social system there.

In fact, there have been no prime ministers whose elected terms have been completed without the intervention of those who oppose them, whether coups by the military, removals by judges or the governor-generals, none has succeeded in carrying out their full elected term of office. Pakistan is a corrupt nation in that there is no area of political, military or civilian life free from corruption. The revelations of the Panama Papers that members of Sharif's family enriched themselves through corruption might have reflected any other family of influence in the country.

There appears to be general agreement among those who are familiar with Pakistan and the influence and power of the military that this was a military-engineered coup, under guise of a Supreme Court action responding to charges of corruption. Horrors, corruption! within a country in which no aspect of life is not tainted by corruption. So much for democracy, so much for the last vestiges of an independent judiciary in a mockery of the British system of jurisprudence and governance as a former Commonwealth dependency.

Claiming that the Prime Minister was guilty of violating Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution where members of parliament are required to be "sadiq" and "ameen" (truthful and righteous), the Supreme Court represented the very ideal of truthfulness and righteousness when it removed an irritant yet again from administering the fractious and wretched affairs of this misbegotten Islamist state supportive of terrorism.

Various iterations of Pakistan's governments have relished persuading the United States that Pakistan could be depended upon as a force for good in the fight against terrorism and jihad, while acting as a virtual exponent of both, even as it felt entitled to the billions of aid for the military that the U.S. gifted the nation with annually.

Its duplicity, well enough known, was simply amplified when Navy SEALS rappelled from helicopters into the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden, established a veritable stone's throw from a military academy, and an outraged Pakistan arrested and imprisoned the Pakistani physician, neighbour to bin Laden, who had assisted the CIA in the belief that his country was an ally of the United States.

Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister of Pakistan was no better and no worse than any of his predecessors, which isn't saying all that much. He did have three turns at the office, and it's hard to imagine how he made the country a better place for his citizens or his neighbours. It was his brother, whom Sharif now is attempting to persuade the Supreme Court should be  his replacement and not his main rival Imran Khan, who engaged in confrontation with the head of the intelligence services over the support the army was providing to terrorists.

Imran Khan's ties to and support of the military on the other hand, do nothing to denote that a better switch could be made forthwith in his undemocratic ascension through judicial appointment to the office of the prime minister. This country typifies the mean-tempered tribal, religious intemperance of all too many Muslim nations ruled by despots, sheikdoms and royalty. The exception being, of course, that for the present time, it is the only one of them in possession of nuclear weapons.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Suicide as a Metaphor for the Failed Arab Spring

"I wanted to burn myself because I was burning inside [with anger and desperation expressing his hopelessness]."
"I wanted to die this way."
Adel Dridi, 31, street fruit seller, Tebourba, Tunisia

"This kind of suicide stands more as a dissenting attitude toward the post-revolution society, which deeply changed."
Dr. Mehdi Ben Khelil, forensic pathologist

"Imed used to pour gas on himself as a way to blackmail the police so they would give him back his merchandise."
"He had already done that as a last resort two or three times before and he told me it worked."
Ahmed Ghanmi, brother of Imed, deceased

"With the dictatorship, the state was ubiquitous; we were under a police rule and deviation was less possible."
"There were already suicides with self-immolation or hanging, but it was in the privacy of the home, not in the public sphere like today, and the youth is very exposed to this new phenomenon."
Fatma Charfi, Ministry of Health committee, Tunisia
  Five years ago, two Tunisians set themselves on fire in protest against the...
Clemens Höges/ DER SPIEGEL -- Hosni Kaliya in Kasserine

These types of protests by people who feel themselves victimized by institutionalized abuse have a way of becoming entrenched, popularized and repeated by people who feel their grievances cannot be addressed any other way than by the kind of shock treatment that creates a wave of public awareness and fear, through the ultimate sacrifice of self-harm leading to death. When it seems to those who have been exposed to the personal, psychological violence of an uncaring bureaucracy imperilling their livelihood and survival, violent rejection of life becomes a tool, rejecting that society.

One isolated incident stands out as the symptom of an ailing society and the symbol of desperate rejection of police harassment, the self-immolation seven years ago of the street fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, whose final act of asserting himself defiantly, even if only to claim death by his own agency, saw a spiralling of reaction and events leading to the downfall of the government in Tunis hated for its corruption. Tunisia, in its reinvention of itself as an Islamist-style democracy is pointed to as the first and the sole success of the Arab Spring.

  In the days after Kaliya's self-immolation, tens of thousands of Tunisians...
In the days after Kaliya's self-immolation, tens of thousands of Tunisians took to the streets in early 2011, eventually forcing the country's autocratic president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee the country. This image is from Tunis on Jan. 14, 2011. Reuters

The fever of people power challenging the authority of their governments under a system detached from presiding over the fulfillment of people's needs and aspirations in free societies, spread to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and the Gulf States. The revolutionary zeal of those rejecting the status quo nurtured a fervent hope that their nations would undergo a change reflective of some form of democracy. Libya responded with utter, violent chaos, the Gulf States methodically used their military power to squelch any thought of change, Egypt reverted to military rule, while Syria and Iraq imploded.

Mr. Dridi, pre-revolution, made a very good earning in his country. Now, constantly harassed by police just as Mr. Bouazizi before him had been, he is desperate to react in some meaningful way that might help him, but could only find a solution in attempted suicide which he survived. Unemployed teacher Imed Ghanmi, 43, did the same as police confiscated his merchandise when he tried to support himself selling the smuggled goods on the street. He finally succeeded in killing himself when immolation as threat no longer succeeded.
  Protests have once again become commonplace in Tunisia. This image is from...
Protests have once again become commonplace in Tunisia. This image is from Kasserine, Hosni Kaliya's hometown. Demonstrators clashed with police during a march protesting the lack of jobs and opportunity. Reuters

But it is not only the middle-aged who resort to these desperate measures to destroy their futures. Young teens in high school have taken to immolation as well in a feverish denial of the lives they no longer wish to live. Like Ramzi Messaoudi, whose repeated disagreements with his English teacher for expelling him from school led him to set himself afire, dying three days later from the burns he sustained. "He just could not take it anymore. When he arrived at the hospital, he was still conscious and he was smiling and kept on repeating the word 'injustice'," said his 19-year old childhood friend, Wissem Hadidi.

Because there are few opportunities for the young, and because job insecurity is so high, with a tough unemployment rate, there is desperation among young people in Tunisia. Thousands have chosen to migrate abroad. Tunisia has the distinction, irrespective of how it alone among the Arab countries touched by the Arab Spring, is considered the only 'successful' Arab Spring revolution, despite which there are more Tunisians who made common cause with Islamic State, joining the jihadist terrorist group than any other country in the region save for Libya.

  The Jebel Chaambi mountains near the city of Kasserine are now home to...
The Jebel Chaambi mountains near the city of Kasserine are now home to Islamist training camps and considered a hotbed of jihad. AP/dpa
A record 104 burn patients who had chosen self-immolation over life were admitted to the country's main burn hospital in Ben Arous in 2016, representing a tripling of self-immolation following Tunisia's revolution. Driven largely by hardships and a hatred of the authorities. Dr. Mehdi Ben Khelil forensic pathologist, conducted a study to show the increase of the numbers of people who chose to self-immolate rather than resign themselves to a situation whereby no opportunities are available to them to achieve their aspirations.


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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Crime and Islam

"I heard someone slap someone, skin on skin. There was about two minutes of banging in the apartment, then nothing."
"It was unusual [the banging] only [because] it lasted two minutes. I didn't know she was in danger or I would have helped her."
"It's a good thing [the mother] never put him [18-month-old child] in a playpen or crib. He would have died, because he wouldn't have had access to food or drink."
Marcy Chabot, apartment resident, Burnside Avenue, Ottawa
Ottawa police. Tony Caldwell / Postmedia

Ms. Chabot thought that the neighbour with whom she had experienced so many disagreeable encounters seemed to be very quiet, unlike what usually pertained with the woman. Even her child, a little boy of two years of age was quiet. She was more accustomed to the child's mother being abusive, screaming, swearing, pounding on her door, forcing Ms. Chabot to call police on such occasions. Nothing, however, alerted her to the fact that something was seriously wrong in that apartment.

It was quiet, and she enjoyed the unusual serenity. She made no link between the banging she had heard on the mother's living room wall of her apartment, adjoining her own bedroom wall in her apartment. The apartment was known for its paper-thin walls and residents had become accustomed to hearing sounds from their neighbours. As for the banging, the abusive woman had often banged on the walls, sometimes for fairly long periods of time.

And then, ten days later, the fifth-floor apartment of the public housing building was entered when someone checked to ensure that everyone had left their units during a routine fire drill back in March. The door was unlocked and the little boy was asked where his mother was. That is when the body of the decomposing 35-year-old mother was discovered. The sound that Ms. Chabot heard of someone slamming a door shut ten days earlier was the exiting of the woman's murderer.

The maintenance man who discovered the woman's body emerged in no time from the apartment. "The guy came running out, and he was freaking. He seemed to be in shock", said Ms. Chabot, describing his frantic calls leading to Paramedics arriving with little time wasted. The little boy was taken away from the apartment into the hallway, where neighbours began running into their apartments. "One woman ran down the hallway to get a diaper. Paramedics asked me if I had any crackers", she said.

The child, dressed in pajamas seemed preternaturally calm. He had known how to go to the refrigerator to access food and drink, at two years of age. "It was surreal. He wasn't upset or anything", the neighbour observed of the child. Peering into the open door of the apartment, sippy cups could be seen sitting on the coffee table in the living room. Isn't it typical that friends of the mother described her as a "good person, good mother". A small child who learned quickly that if he wanted to eat or drink he had to serve himself.

A mother murdered in her child's presence by a drug dealer, a 31-year-old with the name of Mohamad S. Barkhadle who had a lengthy presence on a police offender list, so much so that the Crown had applied to have him designated as a long-term offender. At his last release from prison the judge who set him free stated: "Hopefully this has been a wake-up call to Mr. Barkhadle, as he will be closely monitored in future". Not all that closely, obviously.

This, of a man who went on to commit attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, forcible confinement, overcoming resistance by choking, uttering threats, breach of probation and failure to report as required. These are crimes, some of which occurred after the capital crime he committed for which police charged the man with the murder of the child's mother. Earlier, in 2012, an arrest warrant was issued by police viewing him as a suspect who during a robbery had choked a woman.

Two years before he was arrested, he was charged with pimping a 17-year old girl and charged with procuring and living off the avails of prostitution, off the avails of a juvenile prostitute using violence. He was found guilty of possession of a dangerous weapon, of criminal harassment, sentenced to seven months in jail for "morally reprehensible" crimes, in the words of the sentencing judge.

This is not an isolated event of Muslim immigrants and their offspring specializing in gang activity, drug trafficking, shootings, stabbings, and crimes of every other description. Earlier in this week there were three shootings resulting in two deaths, all committed by one man, Alam Buoc, a Sudanese, who shot to death Abdulrahman Al-Shammari, 26, and his cousin Dirie Olol, 27, wounding 27-year-old Talal Al-Shammari in three separate locations.

The Ottawa Muslim community has contributed exponentially greater numbers of crime offenders locally than any other community within the area, vastly disproportionate to their population demographic numbers. When crimes are committed of any kind, it has become common to note that the names identify them as Muslims, from various countries around the world, resident in Canada to enrich the culture and prevailing social order by their presence.

An Ottawa police constable will be standing trial, charged with involvement in the death of a middle-aged man from Somalia who was known in his close community as being intellectually challenged. The man had molested women at a store located close to the apartment where he lived with his parents. When police responded to a 911 call, Abdirahman Abdi ran from the scene, and when police caught up to him outside the apartment building where he lived, he resisted arrest. The result of attempting to subdue the man led to his death.

Demonstrators march from Somerset Square Park to Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin Street during the March for Justice – In Memory of Abdirahman Abdi. Saturday, July 30, 2016. James Park / Postmedia

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Twisting Knots for Profit

"In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I've often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net."
"Now I'm letting my guard down."
Hillary Rodham Clinton

"Now free from the constraints of running [?sic], Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules."
"In these pages [forthcoming book, 'What Happened'], she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterwards."
Simon & Schuster publishing bumph

"Hillary Rodham Clinton has written a new book. Except maybe she hasn’t. It all depends on what the definition of 'written' is."
"The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state had some help on her new memoir, 'Hard Choices.' Clinton employed a phalanx of aides and associates in producing the volume, which is being released Tuesday."
"But don’t expect to hear much about Clinton’s 'book team', as she calls those who helped her write the book, which carries her name alone on its cover."
"Clinton’s acknowledgment of her three-man team — Dan Schwerin, a former Senate and State Department aide to Clinton; Ethan Gelber, another State Department aide; and Ted Widmer, a Clinton adviser and Brown University historian — appears in just a few sentences on Page 597 of the 635-page book. Their exact contributions, however, aren’t spelled out."
"Such is the lot of the ghostwriter."
Paul Farhi, The Washington Post, June 9, 2014
HiIlary Rodham Clinton listens before signing a copy of her book, "Hard Choices" at Barnes and Noble bookstore in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

On Thursday the announcement of this latest work of fiction from Hillary Clinton was made public.
Instant sensation. The title of her new book leaped forward from its position number 3,350 to 17 on Amazon.com. It is now the 'must-have' tell-all of the month, presumably. Ever hopeful, people who plan to read the exculpatory tome written by someone, certainly not Hillary Clinton, though viewed through her personal lens, will be treated to a version of events that put this woman in high dudgeon until she managed to recover, consoling herself with the assurance that it wasn't her fault.

That Ms. Clinton, the infamously famous woman who imagined herself entitled through a long apprenticeship to sit in the White House, not as a 'first lady' but a First Lady, wrote yet another book is a risible absurdity, and an insult to those who actually labour at the task of writing books. Her name is always front and center as the author of the books in her name, while sometimes the actual name of the person who wrote the book, like the writer of 'It Takes a Village', Barbara Feinman Todd, Georgetown University lecturer and writer who spent 7 months writing it, went unnamed.

These incidental oversights appear to be endemic to Hillary Clinton. She has a casual approach to so many vitally important nods to responsibility and honest revelations, with a penchant toward portraying herself as misunderstood and under-appreciated. Clearly she was misunderstood when she spoke of the type of wretched American voters to whom Trump appealed as presidential material. Just as she was massively under-appreciated when so many of the U.S. voting public felt her past performance revealed too much about her personal style that was unappealing to them as presidential potential.

And perhaps it somewhat stuck in the craw of the ordinary American who struggles to make ends meet living in a society that favours the enterprising and the wealthy -- a nation that prides itself on its exceptionality as a democratic republic that views all its citizens with equanimity in an equal light of opportunity, however disadvantaged a large demographic is when seeking health care, unable to afford what they need to remain healthy and able to maintain employment -- that this woman never missed an opportunity to enrich herself.

And good gracious, here she is, doing it again. Letting her guard down in a mission to explain her lapses in judgement, not those lapses that painted her as unlikely presidential material, but those in failing to understand and connect to the needs of those not as privileged as she. To whom her adversary did appeal and connect with, an issue that in the larger scheme of things, made all the difference. Her defeat at the polls, a 'stunning blow' to someone who expected to breeze into the Oval Office was definitely not her fault. Cue the Russian card. And then-FBI director James Comey; both scuppered her, undeniably.

She talked a good line in excusing herself, from her email server to her State Department response on Benghazi, and her embroideries about being under fire in a field of combat. The field of combat that really mattered to her might have seen a lot of people souring when word of her use of State Department contacts to embellish the charitable enterprise of her husband certainly did her no good. She has a certain way of evincing indignation at suspicions of her self-interested motivation; there we go again, misunderstood.

A flawed candidate in capital letters. In capital letters though she would not have enhanced the status of president while basking in the euphoria of representing the first American woman to hold that position, surely her win at the polls that fateful election day would have been preferable to the election of that uncouth, ignorant, vengeful, egotistical habitual liar whose lack of knowledge and certainty of his personal wisdom is destroying whatever is left of the dignity of political office in Washington.

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