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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Unparalleled Universes : Murderous, Paranoid and Delusional

"This is a massacre."
"All our options are open. We will take all considerations into account, but we will not allow the enemy to set the rules of engagement."
Senior Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batash

"The Zionist terror government must realize that we will not hesitate to protect our people and our land."
"[Islamic Jihad] is considering all of its options, [including the] option of responding to this aggression."
Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawood Shehab
Israeli soldiers sit on a tank close to the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on October 30, 2017, near Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel. (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)
"Any response or violation of Israeli sovereignty will be answered with determination and in a forceful and clear way, as we did yesterday."
"[Following the demolition the IDF is] maintaining its preparedness, closely monitoring what is happening among terror officials in the Gaza Strip."
"The IDF’s activities removed a threat against Israeli citizens, and that was the mission."
"This was an impressive operational achievement and it deserves all praise from the Southern Command."
"The operation joins a host of operations, overt and covert, that IDF troops are undertaking and will continue to do against any threat, at any time and in any situation."
IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot
From left, Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Gaza Division commander Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs and Coordinator of the Government's Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai hold a situational assessment meeting near the Gaza border on October 31, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
From left, Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Gaza Division commander Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs and Coordinator of the Government's Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai hold a situational assessment meeting near the Gaza border on October 31, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Two terrorist groups, one subservient to the other, but both owing their existence to a fixation on destroying the State of Israel, see their mission as an imperative. To that end they stockpile weapons, gain the understanding sympathy of terrorist-sponsoring Islamic countries like Iran, Turkey and Qatar where encouragement, funding and training, alongside more arms to stockpile, derive. Their intention is clear, oft-repeated and reinforced by forwarding suicide missions, lobbing rockets across the border to Israel, and constructing sophisticated tunnels from within Gaza into Israel to enable terrorists to breach the border and plan attacks against Israeli military and Israeli towns and villages.

It is the related duty of the Israel Defence Forces to remain aware of all threats emanating from Gaza, from the major terrorist groups stationed there; Hamas which controls Gaza and Islamic Jihad which shares its mission of annihilation of the Jewish State. Hamas calls upon the international community, despite its terrorist designation in many foreign countries, to condemn the IDF and Israel as genocidal, planning to destroy the lives of Palestinian Arabs, particularly children, used as protective shields by Hamas while provoking Israel to respond to rocket attacks.

The sophisticated tunnels crawling underground from Gaza to Israel are costly to build, requiring massive amounts of cement side-lined for that use instead of building homes for Gaza's Palestinians. They are funded through the generous charity of the European Union in large part, meant to relieve the plight of Palestinians but co-opted by Hamas. The tunnels are equipped with electricity, some have tracks that motorized vehicles run on, and motorcycles are often used to traverse them. They are also used as storage facilities for weapons and as secret hideaways for Hamas officials during times of Israeli defensive operations responding to Hamas offensive forays.

The purpose of the tunnels focuses on Israel and giving Hamas the capability of covertly entering Israel to carry out attacks. During the 2014 conflict between the IDF and Hamas many tunnels were discovered and destroyed by the IDF. Occasionally others are discovered and destroyed. Last week was one of those instances, when a tunnel was discovered and explosive charges set to destroy it, where it emerged from Gaza into Israel. In the collapse of the tunnel several Hamas senior operatives died, along with a handful of others.

This 'massacre' has outraged Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as a perfidious act of war. What a strange world we live in when violent psychopaths dedicated to destruction and slaughter of those they term their enemy, shrink in horror when their own are killed while engaging in activities meant to bring about the destruction of that enemy, who demonstrates an inconceivable determination to defend itself. And so psychologically battered have commanders of the IDF become by constant criticism from the international community, condemning 'disproportionate' force of defence, that they must defend their actions, explaining the intention to destroy a tunnel, not those within it.

According to IDF authorities, this tunnel was discovered inside Israeli territory close to the Gaza Strip, believed to have been constructed after 2014. The tunnel was the work of Islamic Jihad, and ran from the Gazan city of Khan Younis, to cross under the border for dozens of meters, and finally approached Kibbutz Kissufim. Ronen Manelis. A spokesperson for the IDF described the
operation in Israeli territory to destroy the tunnel, that the fatalities were mostly occasioned by smoke inhalation and secondary blast impacts.

Seven Palestinians in total died, of whom two were senior commanders, with another dozen injured, according to the Hamas-governing Gaza Health Ministry. It is well enough known that these tunnels occasionally collapse, taking the lives of Hamas members who happen to be working in them at the time. This instance was merely a trifle more dramatic; a collapse brought about by deliberate human intervention, catching a number of terrorist operatives unaware. They will no longer pose a threat to Israel, though a host of others are ready to take their place.

The body of Marwan Alagha, 22, is carried by mourners after he was killed when Israel blew up a tunnel built by the Islamic Jihad terror group stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory, at Naser hospital in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 30, 2017. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
According to reports out of Palestinian media, Islamic Jihad had demanded an immediate, coordinated military response.  Hamas, on the other hand, urged a more cautious approach before responding, along with possible coordination with Egypt so that the nascent Palestinian unity agreement would not be jeopardized. Egypt has its own problems with these tunnels and with violent attacks by Islamist jihadis from Islamic State to Salafist Bedouin in the Sinai, as well as Hamas, targeting its military and its police.

Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group attend the funeral of fellow terrorists killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel, during their funeral in the Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza, on October 31, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)
Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group attend the funeral of fellow terrorists killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel, during their funeral in the Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza, on October 31, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

"The response to this massacre is to move forward toward the restoration of national unity because the enemy knows that our strength is in our unity and no people under occupation can win if they are not united."
"I assure the leadership of [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad: blood for blood, destruction for destruction."
Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh
Both Hamas and Fatah, traditionally at violent loggerheads against one another, agree on this issue, that Israel is promoting chaos in Gaza, and the tunnel demolition was one of those issues, planned to disrupt the ongoing talks for reconciliation between the two sworn enemies, Fatah and Hamas. Fatah spokesperson, Fayez Abu Eita, vice chairman of the party’s revolutionary council, charged that the  tunnel detonation was aimed at disrupting the unity talks. "This crime comes in the context of [sowing confusion] and creating tension in order to thwart Palestinian national reconciliation."
"The explosion took place inside Israeli territory. The majority of the dead were operatives who entered the tunnel after it was blown up and died in the Gaza Strip, and not as a [direct] result of the explosion."
"We are not interested in an escalation, but we are ready for all scenarios."
IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee
As though any explanation were needed to begin with. Any nation on this globe has the right and the obligation to defend itself from the menace of malevolent threats and violence aimed at its complete and utter destabilization, not to mention the ongoing threats of lethal violence committed against its people, both military and civilian.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Spain's Season of Discontent

"[Three Catalonias exist]; you have the small or middle sized cities and towns where the support for independence is massive. Then you have all the cities surrounding Barcelona, where the majority of people speak Spanish at home, and where the support for independence is [comparatively] low."
"And then you have Barcelona, which is a mixture of both worlds."
Oriol Bartomeus, professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

"There are people who are pro-independence in a classical way -- they talk about Catalan culture, language and identity. But the success of the pro-independence movement is in the way that it has brought on board people from other identities and perspectives."
"It's not a nationalist movement, it's a movement about sovereignty."
Antonio Banos, former lawmaker

"It's a very pluralistic city and there is a lot of diversity of opinions in Barcelona."
"...If you compare it [Barcelona] with people in the heart of Catalonia, it's not as pro-independence."
"For many years, Barcelona has been a Mediterranean city, a global city, and thousands of people have always mobilized here for peace, or dialogue and for human rights."
"And that remains the case today."
Ada Colau, Barcelona mayor
Independence supporters gathered outside the Palau Catalan Regional Government Building on Monday following last week's decision by the Catalan parliament to vote to split from Spain. The Spanish government responded by imposing direct rule and dissolving the Catalan parliament.
Independence supporters gathered outside the Palau Catalan Regional Government Building on Monday following last week's decision by the Catalan parliament to vote to split from Spain. The Spanish government responded by imposing direct rule and dissolving the Catalan parliament. (Getty Images)

Popular sentiment in Barcelona appeared to go all out for independence, in an restive area of Spain that has been edging toward secession for a very long time. At the same time the October 1 referendum brought out an estimated 43 percent of the electorate of Catalonia to cast their ballots in a vote that the Spanish courts banned, an event that the central Spanish government did its violent utmost to halt. That reaction no doubt spurred the greater majority of those who came out to the polls to vote in favour of an independent Catalonia; they did so by their significant 90 percent support.

Spain has reacted by declaring the referendum illegal, an assault on the democratic values of the country, a claim that runs counter to using intimidation, anger and force rather than reason and debate. And because the Catalan autonomous government has been dismissed not only is the populace perplexed, but investors and business leaders view the current and impending destabilization as a signal to vacate a sinking ship. If the central authority is determined to run Catalonia they have their work cut out.
Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido, left, holds a meeting with the new chief of Catalan regional police, Ferran Lopez, right, in Madrid on Monday. Lopez has replaced the dismissed regional police chief Josep Lluis Tapero. (Angel Diaz/AFP/Getty Images)

The counter-rally defending Spanish unity was a massive display of pro-union sentiment. "Catalan leaders have broken the law. The central government has let this situation go for too long, for even 30 or 40 years, thinking that we were never going to arrive at this extreme, but here we are. Our society is fractured, there are family members and friends who no longer can talk about politics to avoid conflict", complained one retiree at the rally.

The atmosphere is both heated and concerned in Barcelona. The pro-Spain rally may have taken place in that most cosmopolitan and pluralist of Spanish cities, but in Catalonian towns elsewhere there is little evidence of a willingness to relinquish the dream of independence. Migrants from Andalusia and Extremadura decades earlier made Barcelona a more diverse population, unwilling to separate from Spain, whereas people born to Catalan parents urge for independence, though Catalans living elsewhere in Spain are pro-union.

"We have organized ourselves late, but we are here to show that there is a majority of Catalans that are no longer silent and that no longer want to be silenced", a pro-union Alex Ramos, head of the group Catalan Civil Society, stated as he marched along with hundreds of thousands of Catalans voicing opposition to Friday's declaration of independence. Regional leader Carles Puigdemont called for Catalans to engage in peaceful opposition to the central government's regional affairs takeover. He and his fired cabinet would keep "working to build a free country".

Spain Catalonia/Puigdemont
It is expected that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will likely have a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday, but it remains unclear whether he will ask for asylum in Belgium. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Best-Laid Plans Going Awry

"The Iraqi theatre of operations is dynamic and requires deliberate, responsible reflection. As is the case for any Canadian Armed Forces operation, our contributions are constantly under assessment in order to ensure all appropriate strategic and tactical steps are taken."
"The program to provide equipment and small arms [to the Kurdish Peshmerga] is no different."
"[Canada] has a responsibility to ensure any such aid is provided under the right conditions. We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and exercise strategic prudence."
Dan Le Bouthillier, Department of National Defence spokesman

"Given the fluidity of the current situation, Canada's Special Operations Task Force has temporarily suspended the provision of assistance to various elements of Iraqi security Forces."
"Once more clarity exists regarding the interrelationships of Iraqi security forces, and the key priorities and tasks going forward, the Task Force will resume activities."
"In the interim, they will continue to monitor the situation and plan for the next potential phases of operational activity."
"Only the provision of assistance to various elements of Iraqi security forces has been temporarily suspended."
Col. Jay Janzen, Canadian Forces spokesman
An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq, on Oct. 20. Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces have exchanged fire over the past two weeks, following the disputed vote for an independent Kurdistan. (Emad Matti/Associated Press)

With those announcements Canada has chosen to suspend assistance its special forces provided to Iraqi security forces in the face of Iraqi and Kurdish forces at battle with one another. Canadian assistance was geared toward aiding both Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorist group, to recapture territory they had assumed for their Islamist 'caliphate', and to oust the terrorist jihadist group from the country.

The Canadian commandos dispatched to work with the Kurds, along with assistance given to the Iraqis is now in suspension. Awaiting 'clarification', in the wake of the Iraqi government ordering its military alongside Shiite militias with links to Iran, to assume national control of Kirkuk and the Kirkuk oil fields, as well as a military base that had been occupied by the Peshmerga with the intention of including Kirkuk and the oil fields in a newly independent Kurdistan. It was the Kurds who had, after all, wrested the valuable territory from ISIL.

The same Kurds who had made no secret of their intention, once ISIL was defeated, to declare independence, to finally establish Kurdistan as a sovereign state no longer dependent on the whims and control of a government whose predecessors had persecuted the large Kurdish population in the country's north, bringing death and destruction, gassing villagers, destroying farms and towns courtesy of Saddam Hussein.

The Kurdish leaders held a referendum that their supporters asked be held off, with then-President Barzani announcing his intention to hold talks with Iraqi government officials to come to an agreement with respect to Kurdish independence. An issue that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi spurned, deploying his military in combat with the Peshmerga, and with superior forces and arms negotiated by Iran, forced the Kurds to withdraw from defence of Kirkuk once their ammunition gave out.

With the Iraqi military's offensive against Kurdish fighters at the border with Turkey and Syria underway the intention to close off the Kurdistan vital trading route was clear enough; with the border crossing falling into Iraq's control U.S.-led coalition forces would also be affected, losing access to allies in Syria engaged in battling ISIL.

As for the weapons that Canada meant to supply to Kurdish troops, that plan has always been dependent on the central government, for Iraq's willingness to transfer the weapons to the Peshmerga. In recognizing the government of Iraq's national position, all such weapons were to be delivered to the government on the agreement they would be transferred to the Kurds. Under current conditions that plan has fallen through with the Iraqi government certain to withhold approval.

"There is no easy path out of this mess", remarked defence analyst Martin Shadwick, recognizing the bind Canada is caught in, promising the Kurds weapons, yet since Kurdistan remains part of Iraq, it would be internationally illegal to move forward to provide arms without the approval of Baghdad. Kurdish leaders openly stated their intention to create an independent state, that the arms they received were to be used in the fight against ISIL, but also eventually, to defend their independent state.

The provision of .50-calibre sniper rifles with silencers, 60mm mortars, anti-tank Carl Gustav systems, grenade launchers, pistols, carbines, thermal binoculars, cameras, scopes and medical supplies are now held in abeyance. With the Department of National Defence in Ottawa confirming the arms shipments must remain under review.

Kurdish protesters hold banners during a demonstration against the violence by Iraqi, Iranian, and Shia militias on Kurdistan, in Brussels on Oct. 25. (Stephanie Lecocq/EPA-EFE)

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Another Faux Palestinian Reunification; Prelude to a Re-Sundering

"Over is the time Hamas spent discussing recognizing Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel."
"[Hamas would be prepared to disarm, as Israel demands, only] when Satan enters paradise."
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas leader

"I condemn the latest statements made by some Hamas leaders calling for the destruction of the State of Israel." 
"They do not serve the interest of peace and the goal of achieving a negotiated two-state solution."
Nicholas Mladenov, UN special co-ordinator, Middle East peace process
Palestinians wave Fatah and Hamas flags after the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza [AFP]

An underwhelming condemnation, to be certain, though entirely in keeping with the usual United Nations' responses to such unequivocal statements of intent to the sacred duty inherent in the Palestinian mind that Israel must be destroyed before Palestinians can content themselves with having succeeded in restoring the honour of Arabs, besmirched by the catastrophe represented by the establishment of a Jewish State.

A Jewish State, moreover, that no right-thinking Palestinian would dream of acknowledging as having the right to exist. The Middle East geography is dedicated to Islam, consecrated to Islam, and as such the existence of a non-Muslim state, particularly one where Judaism is the state religion and Jews the political and social force, represents a a sacrilegious infraction intolerable to Palestinians as it is to the other actors on the stage of the Middle East.

But the European Union, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian leadership are all congratulating one another and in particular Egypt for brokering yet another political 'reconciliation' between the PLO's Fatah whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, whose new leader, Yahya Sinwar, have accommodated themselves to. Hamas, because it is desperate for scarce funding, and Fatah because it is desperate to regain control of Gaza.

A control wrested violently from it by Hamas in 2007, effectively separating the West Bank and Gaza politically and socially, and in the process gaining Hamas a territory from which it has been able to launch attacks against Israel and its population. Both Fatah and Hamas are committed to the destruction of Israel, Hamas outright declaring its intention, and Fatah presenting a facade to the international community of willingness to accept Israel's presence.

But not as a Jewish State. Israel, which has accepted one and a half million Palestinian Arabs as full citizens living within the state, demonstrates its inclusiveness and commitment to plurality, but at the same time, emphasizes that it is a state dedicated to a homeland for the world's Jews. While no Jew would be permitted to live among Arab Palestinians as a matter of course; their presence formally rejected, their lives forfeit should they stray into Palestinian territory.

Both the West Bank and Gaza represent tyrannies with strict order prevailing, and dissent 'discouraged'. But that the two, Hamas and Fatah, have agreed once again to set aside their bitter enmity, and to work together; Fatah agreeing to administer the affairs of Gaza once again, and Hamas agreeing to exist under Fatah, but without relinquishing their vast arsenal of arms, nor their reality as a terrorist militia, still elicits approval from the United Nations as a forward step in approaching a 'peace agreement' with Israel.

The wild absurdity of two political entities dedicated to the destruction of Israel, yet regarded as potential instruments of peace and stability represents an imaginary construct that could only be celebrated by the United Nations, a living mirage of purported human rights support and peace initiatives. Seconded by the European Union which appears to see no evil in Hamas having taken billions in international aid meant for the support of Palestinian Gazans, pre-empted for the building of complex tunnels reaching under Gaza into Israel for obvious war-mongering purposes.

That the PLO charter and the Hamas covenant unambiguously state that the destruction of the State of Israel is a primary goal to be achieved is conveniently overlooked by both the UN and the EU, just as the refusal of each, Fatah and Hamas, to recognize the legitimacy of the existence of Israel is not seen as the rejection it represents of the presence of the Jewish State, effectively ruling out any potential peace agreement, seems to elude the attention of the UN and the EU.
"This whole issue of dissolving the administrative committee has no value. Even if it is dissolved, there must be another kind of committee that can run the daily and civil lives of people in the Gaza Strip."
"When Hamas said it will dissolve the administrative committee, it threw the ball into the Palestinian Authority's yard, in the sense that they have acquiesced to their demands, so now what will the PA do for Hamas? It's a tit for tat, a barter."

Abdulsattar Qassem, political science professor, an-Najah University, Nablus
A Palestinian man and children walk past graffiti reading "division" in Arabic, in Gaza City, in 2017 [AFP]

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Yet Another United Nations Agency Totters Into Moral Bankruptcy -- World Health Organization

"The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population's access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care."
"[Mugabe's policies led directly to] the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers."
Physicians for Human Rights 
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivering a speech on October 7, 2017 in Harare.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivering a speech on October 7, 2017 in Harare.

There was a time in the not-so-distant past, when Zimbabwe had a thriving economy and its agricultural sector was so productive it was able to feed its population and do a sizeable trade selling its products elsewhere in the world. That was when Zimbabwe was considered to be an African breadbasket, and when most farms were owned and operated by white settler-farmers from Europe whose families operated their farms for generations, employing black Zimbabweans in steady jobs as farm labourers.

And then came a sea change in how Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe viewed the indignity of white Zimbabweans operating these large, productive and successful farming operations, when the government, under its long-time president, Robert Mugabe, was convinced that whatever whites could do, blacks could do even better, and white farmers had their farming properties confiscated, sometimes so violently that they lost their lives in the transformation.

The farms were then handed over to Robert Mugabe's former comrades in the independence movement that saw the country severing its ties with colonialist Britain to become proudly and fully independent. Trouble was, the black Zimbabweans had no experience and little interest in farming and once-productive farms went fallow, while thousands of Zimbabweans lost their employment and the economy slowly sank. Food had to be imported, inflation soared and the civil infrastructure that was once dependable deteriorated.

Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe settled comfortably into his new role as dictator, while the people of Zimbabwe suffered privation and had to accommodate themselves to living in conditions that bore little resemblance to their former prosperity and full employment opportunities. Health care suffered because hospitals and clinics no longer had indispensable equipment and the knowledge to use them to best effect. But Mr. Mugabe wasn't concerned; he went abroad for medical treatment.

And this man who single-handedly ruined his country's economy and stifled the efforts of political opposition to his stranglehold on the government, still rules the country he has destroyed. His wife claims he will never, despite his advanced age, surrender his power, though she is prepared to make a great personal sacrifice by taking over the office from her faltering husband, to rule the country when she isn't in Paris spending a fortune on jewellery and couturier splendours.

Yet this is also the man who was lauded by WHO's newly appointed director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus at a conference in Uruguay, as a visionary, a man of great governing talent and irreproachable moral fortitude who would be a hugely respected spokesperson for the World Health Organization, appointed as a "good-will ambassador" focusing on non-communicable diseases. President Mugabe, now 93, was pleased to accept the offer.

The new WHO head is the first African to have been appointed to the elite position with the UN health agency. He was educated and trained at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, completing his doctorate in community health at Nottingham University. As Ethiopia's health minister he was credited with furthering his country's commitment to achieving an efficient, modern approach to health services for the people of Ethiopia. He appeared, despite being the first head of WHO not to have a medical degree, to be well suited to the position.

Then came the bombshell when news of the appointment of Mugabe as good-will ambassador to the WHO became public, when sober minds reacted with incredulity at the absurdity of awarding such a post to a man with the well-earned reputation for corruption of Mugabe. Anyone who is anyone in government and concerned with universal health care was shocked into a vociferous response demanding rejection. To the extent that Tedros had no choice but to withdraw the appointment.

To their credit, WHO staff themselves reacted with shock and disdain as one staff member wrote: "Senior WHO staff dumbfounded". Fears were expressed that the credibility of WHO, as well as its funding would be impacted deleteriously, causing "great concern" among WHO staff. A 2009 report compiled by Physicians for Human Rights detailing Mugabe's systematic undermining of the country's health care system excoriated him for the damage he inflicted on Zimbabwe.

Mugabe responded to that report by banning any further reports on the health crisis in his country and simply ignored an explosion that took place of various health epidemics, the end result of which was that life expectancy in Zimbabwe fell, from 1990's 62 years, to 36 years by 2006, with no improvement in the still deteriorating situation since that time.

"It's clear that this was a prize, if not compensation for something", mused UN Watch's Hillel Neuer. "Tedros may have been rewarding Mugabe for his support in nomination to the WHO post."

But, in fact, this aborted appointment reflects in large part the dysfunction of the United Nations and its various arms, in its choices for sensitive posts such as human rights and women's rights, allowing totally inappropriate nations to take their proud seats on bodies sitting in judgement over countries dedicated to upholding human rights while they themselves are prime examples of human rights abusers.

In this particular instance, no fewer than two dozen organizations released a statement damning the appointment; organizations such as the World Heart Federation and Cancer Research U.K. stating their shock and concern. They had, in fact, attempted to convey to Tedros the nature of the ill choice he had made, but failed to convince him at the time of the Uruguay conference.

Changing his mind only when universal condemnation -- with the exception of the African Union supporting Mugabe -- unequivocally slammed Tedros for elevating Mugabe into WHO.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Undercover Agent

"The look in Chiheb's eyes when he talked about killing infidels was something I'd never seen before in my life. It was a look of hatred and death."
"That isn't someone who isn't aware of what's happening, who's 'out there'. That's someone who's calculating to commit mass murder."
"You will never, ever hear me being the driving force behind any plot. I have been a sounding board and a comrade-in-arms, nothing more."
"There's 1.7 billion Muslims on the planet, and the only ones who seem to have a voice is al-Qaeda and ISIS."
"I believe in a strong vetting process. But ... I just don't know that we should be hiding from them [Islamists]."
"I think violence in the drug game is much more prevalent, and is much more likely to happen on a moment's notice, with no warning."
FBI agent Tamer Elnoury
FBI Special Agents and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force prepare to arrest a suspect
The FBI have ensured Tamer El-Noury's true identity remains secret (file pic)

This is the voice of the man who was dispatched with a mission to gain the trust of a suspected Islamist and two of his jihadi colleagues, all three of whom had decided to make common cause with leading terrorist groups focusing on causing death and destruction both in the United States and Canada through plots they were assembling in the hopes of achieving success, reflected in the extent of the harm they might be able to manipulate through the careful planning of catastrophic incidents.

The FBI had alerted the Canadian RCMP national police force to the presence in Canada of a Tunisian-born man on a student visa to a Montreal university. Chiheb Esseghaier had made contact with Raed Jaser of Toronto for the two to work together on a destructive plot to kill as many people as possible, reflecting the malevolent violence they were determined to inflict on Western society. In an effort to get as close to the plotters as possible, Egyptian-born American FBI agent was tasked with gaining their confidence.

He proved to be successful through initiating a 'chance encounter', and in the due course of time as he portrayed himself as a wealthy Muslim prepared to finance terrorist operations in the West, he became a trusted confidante, recording conversations with the two and with a third jihadi, in the United States. Their discussions revolved around causing a Via passenger train from New York to Toronto to derail, with a massive loss of life.

Other plots involved a sniper killing Jews in Toronto, while Esseghaier flirted with the possibility of bombing Times Square in New York.

In the end, with the skilled confidence-building of the FBI agent working with the RCMP, the pair was arrested in Canada and charged with terrorism offences. Raed Jaser, a petty crook, claimed innocence of plotting to terrorism, he was only a drug addict hoping to pay for his habit through the generosity of the 'wealthy co-conspirator', which the FBI officer, Mr. Elnoury portrayed himself to be. During the ensuing trial, Esseghaier, recognized as the leader, left doubt that he was completely sane given his eccentric behaviour in court.

FBI agent Tamer Elnoury [an assumed 'cover' name], decided he would write a book, explaining in detail the circumstances and issues that made up his part of the investigation. Above all, he set out to dispute and put to rest the insistence by some that Esseghaier was not in possession of his full mental faculties so he wrote "American Radical" focusing for the most part on the Via case for which Esseghaier and Jaser were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to commit murder.
60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and FBI-undercover operative "Tamer Elnoury" at the 9/11 Memorial, formerly known as ground zero    CBS News
Agent Elnoury, while through his persona as a fellow agent for terrorism, helped to rout out the presence of terrorists intent on slaughtering innocent people, was also concerned that their actions and intentions were giving Islam a bad name. As a devout Muslim he hoped that by writing his book he would help lead the public to regard these jihadis' actions as aberrant, unreflective of true Islam. What he overlooks in his zeal to redeem Islam is that it is not only al-Qaeda and ISIS, as he insists, that actively engage in violent jihad against the West.

There are numerous other, regional and far-flung groups in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa also engaged in mass slaughter in the name of Islam, not to mention the wide net thrown throughout the world by the Muslim Brotherhood; by groups nourished by Wahhabi Islam in Saudi Arabia, exporting their brand through the funding of madrassas in Africa, Europe and North America, and the Iranian-trained Shiite terrorist groups, all of which like the Taliban, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and Al Shabaab, wreak havoc throughout the world.

If they are not busily engaged in performing the work of the faithful extolled in the Koran and the Hadiths to engage in jihad, what is it that their odious jihad represents other than Islam?

Cover of American Radical

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Perspective is (almost) Everything

"[U.S. student Otto Warmbler was provided with excellent care by North Korea which spent] all the money for nursing [him]."
"The U.S. administration, or some people with a certain intention, let him die. This must be intended to foster and spread anti-Communist hatred within America."
"The situation on the Korean Peninsula is on the eve of the breakout of nuclear war."
"We can survive [such a war]."
"[ U.S. President Donald J. Trump is] a crazy man, a thug, a pathetic man with a big mouth."
Choe Kang-il, senior official, North Korean Foreign Ministry
Question Image
"There will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!"  BBC News

It seems that Mr. Choe got that one right. Unsurprisingly, he was also describing North Korea's dear little chubby leader to a T. But then he is also advocating in his professions of being able to distinguish acceptable behaviours as opposed to those that are clearly aimed at slurring North Korea's leader as a juvenile enfant terrible best left locked behind bars in recognition of his bellicose threats to turn the world into a fiery cauldron, the perverse direction given to the people of North Korea to regard the United States' ambition to incinerate them post-haste.

The other leader, the crazy man, the thug, the big mouth did, after all say something quite approximating that as a testy rejoinder on Twitter, the official communications organ of the White House. So the expectation is there, a nuclear war in the offing, North Korea matched against the United States. Patriotism is in evidence everywhere with high school students marching in military uniform daily denouncing criminal America in the streets of Pyongyang.

Where billboards and posters on public roads feature missiles sending the U.S. Capital into smithereens, the American flag shredded beyond repair. Even kindergarten playgrounds are not off limits for posters of deadly missiles. State television is fixed on those images. But are North Koreans fearful of any outcome between the two nuclear-possessing adversaries? Not really, since North Koreans have it on the most reliably reassuring advice that it is not America that will win that war.

"If we have to go to war, we won't hesitate to totally destroy the United States", Mun Hyok-myong, 38, and a teacher, stated with confidence. More or less quoting Donald J. Trump in reverse. And since that Trump statement of reckless idiocy there has been an appreciable rise to prominence within North Korea of hard liners, responding to the American president's promise to "totally destroy" their country. Whoops, hard liners in North Korea and the same in America, however polarized their vision happens to be.

While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson engages in a futile effort at diplomacy, his president casually tweaks his nose on Twitter. Trump, it would appear, is confident that his bullying will influence Kim Jong-un to surrender his schoolyard taunts to the greater bully; except that Kim appears to feel he has the upper hand, and in any event, has no intention whatever of giving up his toys; they're his, he wants more and what Kim wants Kim gets.

Mr. Choe iterates what is already generally assumed to be fact, that North Korea took its lesson from Iraq and Libya both of which surrendered their aspirational nuclear programs only to have the United States move in on them removing their regimes, which North Korea takes as its signal that it would be extremely foolhardy to make themselves vulnerable in the same manner. North Koreans cling to the notion of their infallible dear little leader leading them to the apex of world power.

After all, in every obscure, isolated village, in every home there are Big Brother speakers broadcasting morning propaganda doses. The totalitarian state issues its own version of the history of the world and North Korea's rightful place in the order of world influencers and power-mongers. All adults sport facial pins of the Great Leader or the Dear Leader, Kim's grandfather and father, whose portraits appear everywhere in homes, factories, classrooms, public arenas. The most adored portrait, however, is reserved for reverence of Kim himself, the tiny perfect monster.

Of the United States and its people, North Koreans believe that "just as a wolf cannot become a lamb, so an American imperialist can never change his aggressive nature", a bit of a spin on a leopard never changing its spots type of thing. The corollary to which is that a Kim is a Kim is a Kim.

So, given the principles and the principals involved here, let's just hope there are no accidental aerial collisions between an American and a North Korean warplane. And that the U.S. can resist the temptation to bomb a ballistic missile site whose missile, they intuit preventively is in preparation for launch over Tokyo with a nuclear warhead.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Swift Plunge Into Uncertainty of Armageddon

"The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the 'trigger' for taking the toughest countermeasure."
Kim Kwang Hak, researcher, Institute for American Studies, North Korean Foreign Ministry

"Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops."
"The President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically."
"He is not seeking to go to war."
Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State

"Our president has been really clear, he's not going to permit this regime and Kim Jong Un to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon."
"He's going to do anything necessary to prevent that from happening."
"What Kim Jong Un should recognize is that if he thinks the development of this nuclear capability is keeping him safer, it's actually the opposite."
"Our military leaders are refining, improving plans every day."
"We hope we don’t have to use them, but we are ready. All of our officers are at a high, high state of readiness."
"The real danger is in terms of communicating with Kim Jong Un is that he doesn’t understand how serious we are about his behaviour and the behaviour of the regime."
"The president has been very clear on that. North Korea will be shocked by how serious we are."
General H.R. McMaster, U.S. Secretary of Defense
North Korea calls Trump a 'strangler of peace'
North Korea calls Trump a 'strangler of peace'    CNN

When the world watched horrified, in real-time television news coverage of the multiple al-Qaeda-launched mass-atrocity-by-passenger plane attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, images of incipient Apocalypse were not far from everyone's mind. Fear, uncertainty and apprehension of the future enveloped the minds of those who witnessed what might seem in saner times to be the impossible. Our minds have since settled down.

The images and the hopelessness of the situation as it unfolded made for bleak, dark theatre, only we knew this was not theatre, but quite possibly a damning rehearsal for events of greater magnitude at some time in the future. Yes, there were horrors that occurred long before, when Ottoman Turkey unleashed their genocidal assaults on Turkish Armenians, accusing them of treachery in supporting Russia during World War I.

There was the countless millions dying during the Communist Revolution, the mass starvation in Ukraine during the Holdomor, the incalculable death toll with the partition of India and Pakistan, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and more, there was always more: Rwanda and Darfur's anguish in Sudan, and then along came the Syrian regime's war on its Sunni Syrian citizens. The Holocaust years that were meant to eradicate the presence of Jewish life in Europe was an elaborate Nazi administrative priority.

And when the United States' President Truman decided the ultimate persuasion to prod Imperial Japan to sue for peace, the world watched in fascinated disbelief as two atomic bombs were dropped, one each on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The plight of civilians melted into nothingness where they stood a moment earlier, the fallout of the radiation imperilling countless lives, the sheer destructive force of a nuclear impact taught us all that this truly was the last spike in the railway taking us to self-destruction.

No nation valuing the 'deterrent effect' of its arsenal of nuclear weapons would ever use them as anything other than for their mutual assured destruction value of brute suasion. That's what we thought because our minds could not bring us around to believing that anyone in any position of national authority with the responsibility to make such decisions would ever deem it needful to authorize the use of such a massive death-deliverance.

And because we could not recognize the potential in the unthinkable we tucked what we preferred not to ruminate on away in the dark  recesses of our minds -- all of us, from ordinary citizens, to authority figures and scientists and members of the military, because the simple truth is how do you deal with an issue so enormously out of control that threatens human existence?

So, could we respond in the event that the unthinkable occurred? How would we do that? Assuming we weren't among those whose lives were immediately forfeit, what steps to take for survival?
North Korea Missile
The North Korean government is purported to have launched a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, as shown in this July 28 photo distributed by the country. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

What kind of experience have we had in avoiding death under circumstances that created the conditions for a lingering, anguished death? Are we in any way equipped to respond to this ultimate emergency? To limp along as best we can under the most primitive of conditions? When the Twin Towers fell in New York, it took a few days before 'normalcy' returned. There was no interruption to communications, to the power system, to the transportation system, to the work conducted by civil society to ensure that the infrastructure and the community could re-commence its normalcy.

The electrical grid was functional, the water and purification plants, hospitals and emergency personnel, municipal functions and infrastructure were all intact but for the destroyed Twin Towers and the unforgivingly malevolent loss of life that brought a universal sorrow not only to distraught New Yorkers but to the world at large -- with some exceptions. The military with its engineering arms were responsive as were police and firemen, who mourned the loss of their own in that great tragedy.

As a worst-instance scene, that infamous day stands out as among the most difficult North America faced resulting from the deadly enmity of a foreign ideology based in a religion of conquest. In contrast, the First World War accident that befell Halifax in the great explosion that took place when a vessel carrying war munitions exploded in its harbour through an accidental collision, destroying most of the city's downtown and killing two-thirds of the number that perished during 9-11.

A nuclear explosion targeting a North American city on the other hand, would result in a catastrophic event of far greater and wider proportions. Destruction would be complete, deaths too numerous to imagine, injuries with nowhere to be treated since hospitals would have been destroyed along with all other buildings, and no infrastructure reflecting civilized life would remain. Rescuers? From where, and how long might it take to hope to address an emergency of such absolute dimensions?

Were a single, 150-kiloton nuclear head to be detonated in any city, some 55,000 people would be estimated to die outright. All the networks we depend upon would have been destroyed, from communications  to transportation and services networks, let alone the infrastructure or emergency response. Chain of command? No further than your own devices, depending on your ability to respond in your own survival defence. You and any other survivors would need food, medicine, water and in short supply it would lead to mayhem.

Everywhere, radiation refugees, people in varying states of illness or slow recovery -- or eventual death. No buildings to shelter in, no one to consult with, everyone distracted and busy jealously guarding whatever they could find to sustain themselves. The dead left to fester and inevitably dread diseases to spread. Total civil order breakdown; how could it be otherwise? People foraging, to extend their miserable lives, waiting for some vestige of outside rescue.

More than one bomb dropped elsewhere, so that others are in the very same plight of hopelessness? Would there be any comfort in the thought that as soon as the authorities in your country became certain that the bombs were impending they sent their own in a counter-offence, and the other nation that had invaded yours with nuclear devices would be suffering in the very same way? Unlikely.

But we shouldn't be concerned. Not to worry. Sane minds will prevail.

The sane mind, as example, of Kin Jong-un; his threats of destroying his nemesis, the United States are not to be taken seriously; they represent, after all, the juvenile musings of an arrested adolescent -- oh, and minds arrested in the adolescent phase of maturity are known for impulsive, self-destroying behaviour.

On the other hand, there's the rational intelligence of the most powerful man on the planet, the President of the United States of America....

World War 3 North Korea
The graphic flyer is one of many pieces believed to have been sent over the border  Getty/Twitter

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Abduction ... Rescue ... Lawsuit

"We have waited since 2012 for somebody to understand our problems, the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves."
"Our children have seen their mother defiled."
"God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination."
"[His captors] did not even make a pretense of being Muslim [were guided] by their own agendas." "The criminals who held us, they were not good Muslims, they were not even bad Muslims, they were pagans." 
Joshua Boyle, 34, Canadian misadventurer, proto-humanist,

"Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable."
Jim Coleman, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, father of Caitlan Coleman, 31

"It was amazing. He [son Joshua Boyle] told me how much his children were looking forward to meeting their grandparents and that he would see me in a couple of days."
"They kept themselves strong for so long, for each other and for the kids."
"I think it's going to catch up with them, and they're probably going to have some real crashes, I expect, but we're here for them."
Linda Boyle, mother of Joshua
Afghanistan Missing Couple
Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman were hiking in Afghanistan when they were captured in 2012. (Coleman Family/Associated Press)

Joshua Boyle, formerly of Smiths Falls, Ontario, more latterly resident with his wife in Afghanistan, distinguished himself some years ago by deciding to marry Zaynab Khadr, knowing her father was a financier of al-Qaeda and an intimate of Osama bin Laden, that in fact the family, including the woman he married was fierce in their public protestations of the justness of the al-Qaeda cause. This man seems to relish gravitating toward sympathetic support of ideologies and their supporters who dedicate themselves to mass brutality, threatening the stability of the Western world by terrorism.

But this is not, evidently, how he visualizes what is abundantly clear to intelligent minds, rather he sees a misinterpreted 'cause' to which the West is hostile, because of racism and he is averse to racism, while forgiving violent jihad because he can understand why tribal peoples who are made to suffer under the imperialist designs of the West will assert their humanity by resorting to inhumanity. For reasons not divulged publicly his original marriage was dissolved, and this simpleton married another woman who shared his delight in Star Wars.

With her he embarked on a backpacking trip, while his wife was very obviously pregnant. And while they were moseying about, why not enter Afghanistan and give aid to impoverished villagers? Leading to hospitality extended to them for a prolonged stay, courtesy of the Taliban who have a penchant for abducting people and demanding ransom. And though his daddy, as a federal court tax judge must have ample income, no word reached the public that a ransom was demanded for the release of the two adventurers over their five-year stay in Afghanistan.

This man now claims to view his abductors with contempt, accusing them of killing a child and of raping his wife. Over their five years of captivity, which in essence this man engineered when he decided to travel there with a woman heavily pregnant, he lived as tribal Afghans do; his wife held from public view as he impregnated her continually so that over that five-year period she gave birth four times. In Islam it is a man's 'right' to have intercourse with his wife; in a just world recognizing the situation they were in a caring man would abstain.

In accusing the Taliban, fierce Islamists jihadis for whom life is incidental to the obligation to Islam as well as their wholesale dedication to tribe and clan, women are disposable adjuncts to male existence, favoured by Allah -- Joshua Boyle behaved no differently than the Taliban did; oblivious to his wife's need to be respected by him, to be less favouring of his own entitlements in view of the situation to which he alone was responsible for placing them in. Concern for the welfare of any children that might result, living in such inconspicuously unhealthy circumstances?

His "problem" is well understood. It is one of warped sympathies and personal entitlements that transcend all measures of human decency. Three children have been taken out of a primitive enclave that nourished their infancy, and evidently withheld sufficient nourishment for a third, while a fourth was sacrificed to the vagaries of life among savages. His problem was one he foisted upon four innocent children who had the misfortune to become his offspring.

He does not appear to have any manner of experience in earning a living. But, given the vicarious experience he will have been indulged in through his previous marriage, the millions that the Trudeau government lavished on his former brother-in-law might inspire Joshua Boyle to launch a law suit against the Liberal government for having failed to initiate a rescue of the Boyle family from Afghanistan, so that due compensation would be paid in honour of which multiple millions would be helpful.
"Today, we join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones."
"Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Boyle's case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that they have returned."
Global Affairs Canada statement

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Friday, October 13, 2017

De-Heritaging Israel

"[There should arise] a new day at the United Nations, where there is a price to pay for discrimination against Israel."
"UNESCO has become a battlefield for Israel bashing and has disregarded its true role and purpose."
Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon

"[The decision was made by the United States to remove its support for UNESCO is linked to] the unfortunate politicization of the mandate of UNESCO, where anti-Israel bias has been a major factor and something the United States has been struggling to address."
U.S. charge d'affaires and U.S. representative to UNESCO, Chris Hegadorn

UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France. Photo: UNESCO

"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity."
"This is all the more true today, when the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security, to counter racism and antisemitism, to fight ignorance and discrimination."
"UNESCO will continue to work for the universality of this Organization, for the values we share, for the objectives we hold in common, to strengthen a more effective multilateral order and a more peaceful, more just world."
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova
The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, poses with a map devoid of any trace of the State of Israel, instead presenting it as a map of "Palestine," May 2013. (Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)
While Irina Bokova expresses her profound dismay in an exercise of righteous sanctimony, she and the arm of the UN she headed were complicit in rewarding the Palestinian Authority which incites to violence against Israel and Jews by confiscating Jewish heritage and awarding it to Palestinians. The sacred heritage sites of Jews throughout ancient history have suddenly been usurped by claims made by Palestinians that those sites are unique to Arab Palestinians not Jews and Israel and those claims were honoured by UNESCO, dishonouring UNESCO.

So much for the defence of human rights and dignity; awarded to those whose presence and actions though morally indefensible, have the benefit of support in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Unaligned Bloc of nations placing their clout where it defames and delegitimizes Israel, depriving it of its heritage. So much for universality and respect, and values shared, for commonly held objectives, all of which appear to focus on lashing Israel with contempt for its very survival.

And if this is the way that UNESCO sees itself clear to supporting and defending a more peaceful, just world, it inhabits an entirely other reality than that most clear to logic and the study of history. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization whose purpose is meant to protect cultural sites and traditions through its World Heritage program has succeeded in aiding and abetting malevolent forces seeking to drive Israel out of existence; not only through physical attacks but by denying its historical heritage and ownership of its own sacred Judaic sites.

The legitimacy of the historical occurrence of the Holocaust is bandied about, and now the very reliability of that ancient document of Judaic monotheistic belief and history, the Old Testament which in its scribal testimony describes Judaic heritage, its prophets and its principle figures of authority, along with its geographic sites of sacred memory. In short, UNESCO has lent itself to the effort to destroy Jewish heritage links to Israel itself, transferring the historical impact to Arab Palestinians in one fell and false swoop of iniquity.

Welcoming "Palestine", a state which does not yet exist, as a member of UNESCO with all member rights and privileges in 2011 was but the prelude to the carnage to Israeli heritage yet to come. UNESCO itself as an arm of the United Nations has inherited the same anti-Semitic bias that runs rife through the international institution pledged to the advancement of peace and world stability, some of whose most influentially powerful members are base human-rights abusers accusing others of what they themselves practise.
On July 7, UNESCO voted for a resolution defining the Old City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian heritage sites. Before that, in 2016, two resolutions making the same type of counterfactual assertions concerning the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall were adopted. And the year before that, in 2015, UNESCO again upended history to rename two ancient biblical sites, Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, Islamic holy sites -- even though Islam did not even exist at that time."
"The Palestinian Authority (PA), which aspires to replace Israel with itself, is behind the resolutions on Jerusalem and Hebron and plays a key role in the transformation of UNESCO. The PA has constantly advocated and supported terrorism and has never stopped wanting to destroy Israel. Allowing the PA to have entered UNESCO is now having serious consequences."
"That the Muslim world supports the transformation of UNESCO and the resolutions proposed by the Palestinian Authority is predictable. Many Muslim countries directly or indirectly finance terrorism and approve the PA's genocidal goals. A large part of the Muslim world mentally lives in a parallel reality, in which a seventh century "Muslim history" of the world replaces the factual history of the world. The Muslim world considers itself in a conflict with the Western world, and sees Israel as a Western enclave to be excised or at least suppressed."
"That Third World countries also support the transformation of UNESCO and these resolutions is also predictable. Many Third World countries are imbued with an anti-Western resentment that leads them to conclude that that they are in a conflict with the West and must therefore support decisions taken by the countries of the Muslim world."
Dr. Guy Millière, professor of French literature, University of Paris

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

All In The Family

"My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions."
"I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time."
Georgina Chapman, New York

"[I] had no idea he [Weinstein] was capable of these horrible actions [as an 'entitled' sexual predator].
"Fired [the] Weinsteins [from Miramax] because they were irresponsible, and Harvey was an incorrigible bully."
Michael Eisner, (former) Disney chief executive

"A culture of complicity [has prevailed at both The Weinstein Co. and his previous film company, the Walt Disney-owned Miramax]."
"Numerous people throughout the companies [were] fully aware of his [Harvey Weinstein's] behaviour but either abetting it or looking the other way."
New Yorker magazine
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's A Magical Evening Gala - Inside
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Harvey Weinstein and Meryl Streep on stage at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's A Magical Evening Gala at Cipriani, Wall Street on November 28, 2012 in New York City.  (Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

No one knew that among the celebrated producers in Hollywood one in particular was loyal to the old urban legends of the industry's fabled giants' propensity to prey on women anxious and eager to make a name for themselves, who saw no option for themselves but to betray their dignity and sighing, faced the inevitable; sleeping their way to fame and fortune. Evidently this man, skilled in the trade that made his name, was an inveterate womanizer, a man who compulsively threw his considerable clout in favour of any actor who submitted to his unwanted blandishments for sex.

And in that fine old tradition he was proud to make his own, any comely actress who failed to respond positively, in the manner he felt entitled to expect, simply wouldn't make the grade; his mentorship withdrawn, they'd have to promote themselves as best they could. And knowing the unlikelihood of that succeeding, Harvey Weinstein had a certain arrogant confidence that his offer was a not-unreasonable expectation.

His reputation was the talk of the town -- both towns, Hollywood and New York. Well known, remarked upon and either shrugged off or silently deplored, depending on your gender, it would seem. In the world of 'making it' by 'making out', women stood to gain if they rendered unto this Caesar what he felt was  his. He was not, it appears, particularly discreet. But then, there's a certain pattern that emerges among entitled men; they simply feel they are owed homage reflecting their exceptionality.

Which certainly helps to explain why former U.S. President Bill Clinton may have felt so at ease with this Hollywood production mogul. Among the many who now see fit to declare they had no idea that their former colleague was behaving in such an unacceptable, immoral manner, pressing himself on vulnerable women, Bill Clinton prefers to stand aside and let others condemn his old friend.

Mind, even those with no axe to grind either way, like Lindsay Lohan who had declared her empathy for Weinstein in an Instagram video -- explaining she had never been sexually harassed by him through their professional relationship -- felt obliged to delete it, lest she be seen to be on his 'side', a very lonely place to be.

A sexual predator is one with an absent conscience. The violence used in this instance against women was to deny them their aspirations. Such predation takes many forms, this among them; it is, in essence, an assault against their right of sovereignty over their bodies. Of course it is a matter of free choice whether or not to submit, unless physical force is used and then the deplorable becomes a crime of rape.

Many men who have captured the popular imagination and who have had great popular acclaim for their personal and professional attributes have failed the test as decent human beings, Weinstein is just another of them. Like Jian Ghomeshi formerly with the CBC, like the British television and radio personality Jimmy Savile whose crime was against children, like the popular Fox News men and certainly like former Black comedian Bill Cosby, everyone's favourite jokester. And who can forget the two Kennedy brothers, Ted and his brother John?

This too shall pass. As it has done involving the clergy, business leaders, boy scout leaders, sport figures, the military, where corrupt and influential people betrayed the trust that society lent them, some of them sociopaths, psychopaths, and just plain predators. This is life. This is the perpetual story of human fallibility. It is the story of people who believe themselves exceptional, entitled, free to act on their own agency in ways that harm others, to satisfy their urges.

But there are also the enablers, those who know and don't really care as long as it doesn't impact them personally. "When I founded Talk magazine in 1996 with Miramax, the movie company Harvey founded with his brother Bob, I also took over the running of their fledgling book company. Strange contracts pre-dating us would suddenly surface, book deals with no deadline attached authored by attractive or nearly famous women, one I recall was by the stewardess on a private plane. It was startling -- and professionally mortifying -- to discover how many hacks writing gossip columns or entertainment coverage were on the Miramax payroll with a 'consultancy' or a 'development deal'," wrote Tina Brown, celebrity journalist, scathingly.

Evidently the mortification she felt never compelled her to leave her editor's position with the magazine, enabling her to continue picking up her big, fat salary cheques from Miramax, and amusing herself attending the parties her employer put on with his impressive guest list of celebrities.... Including of course, Meryl Streep, who referred to Weinstein as "God" at the 2012 Golden Globe awards, but who found Donald Trump's sexual transgressions disgustingly odious.

This, the man whom countless Hollywood aspirants and those who succeeding beyond their wildest dreams of success, are grateful to for his helping, groping hand. Oh, and Harvey Weinstein's wife, Ms. Chapman, whose fashion line he so generously promoted, 'recommending' that 'his' stars appear at soirees wearing Marchesa apparel....

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