Wednesday, April 30, 2008

it's just not prisons...

My blog buddy, Darcey of Dust my Broom has a post up on the lengths to which the Canadian government goes to accommodate multi-faith dinning in Canadian prisons but it is just not prisons. A year ago, I posted a piece about another great Canadian institution and the drive to accommodate any alleged religious practices. Taken from a March 31, 2007 article in the Toronto Star:
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–Members of the Wiccan religion celebrated the arrival of spring outside the Christian fellowship centre at the NATO military base here. Canadian Maj. Malcolm Berry smiles as he recalls being approached a few weeks ago by a group of soldiers of the Wiccan faith – a neo-pagan religion strongly tied to nature.

"They wanted to welcome the spring in a ceremony where they are very thankful to Mother Earth and the new moon with pagan prayers," said Berry, the senior chaplain for Task Force Afghanistan. "We had no difficulty with that. We just didn't want them to do it `sky-clad' (naked) in this environment because it would be too dangerous."

The six Wiccans – a Canadian and five Americans – were invited to hold their service outside the Christian fellowship centre. They were given water, candles and food that they were welcomed to eat inside the centre after the ceremony. The Wiccans were treated with the same respect as any Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist.

"We are way ahead of the curve in terms of adaptability, understanding others, being sensitive to the needs of all Canadians," said Berry, a friendly, talkative Anglican minister from Oromocto, N.B.
There was a time when the most common adjective used to describe Canadians by others was 'boring'. Somehow, I don't think 'boring' quite cuts it anymore.

Grandma now has company under the Bus

I have not been writing about the US democratic race because, well, for me it blows. Two deeply flawed candidates running for the party leadership. Wow. Mediocrity in action and I should be so impressed?

First there is Hillary. I would have more respect for her and a belief in her integrity if she had kicked Bill to the curbed but the fact she keeps him around and sends him to work on her campaign just reinforces my belief she’s in this for personal power, and therefore, there is very little she wouldn't do. Then there is Obama, the change candidate. I am truly unsure of what he stands for but whatever it is - change is an integral part of it.

A prime example of what I mean, is this speech Obama gave in March, defending his long relationship with Reverend Wright:
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
That was March and this is April:
WASHINGTON–Barack Obama, facing the biggest crisis of his 16-month campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, forcefully and angrily repudiated his former pastor yesterday, saying he was appalled and outraged by a performance by Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Monday.

This is ‘change’ in action. By my count, Obama has thrown grandma under the bus, and now Wright. How long before the black community get tossed to the curb too? Personally, I am not so much for ‘change’ as much as I would like to see some real integrity and that’s all the change I need.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

and your sins shall find you

The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that Hamas gunmen have been stealing fuel reports the Jerusalem Post:
The PA confirmed Tuesday that Hamas gunmen had stolen at least 60 liters of fuel meant for the Gaza power station in order to fill their own vehicles. The fuel was being stored on the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal. Mojahed Salam, head of the Palestinian Authority's gas agency, told Israel Radio that his workers were threatened at gunpoint and that he instructed them to obey the orders of the armed men so they wouldn't be harmed. "They took control of the fuel and fired toward the terminal in order to torpedo the flow of fuel to the Strip and to pressure Egypt into reopening the Rafah border crossing," said Salam.

Right, well in other news today:
During this week's General Conference, the United Methodist Church will be reviewing a number of resolutions urging divestment from companies doing business with Israel and the Sudan. As with most divestment drives over the last few years, this one begs the question of why Israel - a tiny country acting against a backdrop of perpetual terror targeted at it - is lumped together with the Sudanese regime responsible for close to two million deaths in its south and 200,000-400,000 (and growing) in its state of Darfur.

Well, I suppose the short answer might be that the United Methodist Church is simply upholding the longstanding Christian tradition of anti-Semitism.

a harvest of bitter fruit

Three years after the disengagement from the Gaza Strip it has yet to yield anything but bitter fruit. Certainly, Israeli security has deteriorated alarmingly so on the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, and as for the former residents of the Gaza Strip - it has been a trial worthy of Job. In 2005, many expressed resentment at the alleged compensation packages offered the Gaza Strip refugees, but to date the compensation has yet to be fully paid out. Many are still without permanent housing and if that was not insult enough, now the Gaza Strip farming are reduced to taking the Israeli government to court to live up to its contractual obligations. Arutz Sheva is reporting this:
( Refugees from destroyed communities in Gush Katif have appealed to the Supreme Court to force the government to enforce a pre-disengagement decision to erase refugees' debts to the World Zionist Organization.

The decision to erase debts incurred by Gush Katif pioneers when they established their communities was made by the Knesset Finance Committee in 2004. As with other areas around the country, Gaza communities benefited from long-term loans from the Jewish Agency in order establish farming infrastructure, but when the Sharon Administration decided to pull out of Gaza, it became clear that local residents would be unable to repay the debts.

Because the Finance Committee had supposedly "taken care" of canceling Gush Katif debts to the World Zionist Organization, the Knesset Laws Committee did not enshrine the debt erasure in the 2005 Evacuation – Compensation Law. As a result, Gaza residents were left with little legal protection and saddled with debt for farming equipment and farm land they can no longer access.

According to Anita Tucker, formerly of Netzer Hazani, the debt repayment is an especially sore point for pioneers who built up Jewish Gaza soon after the area was liberated from Egypt during the Six Day War. "When we came to Gush Katif over 30 years ago, the World Zionist Organization gave a package of benefits to encourage agriculture in development areas. We received various essentials to start a farm. I was a farmer in Gush Katif for 29 years. We were in the process of paying back those initial benefits, when the government threw us out of the land, that it had originally encouraged us to develop."

Three years after the government forcibly removed Gaza's Jewish residents from their homes, expellees continue to be scattered in a variety of temporary housing arrangements, and most remain without suitable employment options. Most refugees survive on compensation payouts they received at the time of the eviction.
To raise funds to build a new dairy infrastructure in order to create a post-disengagement source of economic stability, some former Gush Katif communities sold shares in Tnuva, Israel's largest dairy product manufacturer. There is now a foreclosure order for approximately 3 million shekels on that money in order to cover the debts the refugees owe to the Zionist organization.

Depending on your politics and your humanity, you may have very little sympathy for the plight of the Gush Katif refugees but do not think there plight does not have far reaching repercussions on the world stage. Any future land for peace swaps any Israeli administrations may attempt to bargain with will rest on successfully convincing the Israeli citizens of Judea, Samaria, or the Golan Heights to leave their homes and businesses relatively peacefully have been irrevocably marred.

Even the seniors are getting feisty

Due to a fraction split in the Pensioner's party the Olmert Coalition government has now fallen by 3 seats according to this Jerusalem Post report:
The Gil Pensioners party officially split in two on Monday when three of its MKs signed a form that informed the House Committee that from now on, they will be part of a separate faction called "Justice for Pensioners."

MKs Moshe Sharoni, Sarah Marom-Shalev and Elhanan Glazer signed the form, thus creating the new faction. MK Sharoni said that he was looking forward to beginning coalition negotiations with the government, in which he will demand raising of pensions, the cancellation of pension fund fees, and equalizing pensions for widows. Asked whether he thinks he would be in the coalition, Sharoni said "they can call me and we'll find out." Sharoni said that his party was not affiliated with billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak's Social Justice Party, but it might be in the future and negotiations with him are ongoing.

This means the Olmert Kadima coalition now holds only a 64 seat majority within the Knesset. All it would take to see this government fall is five votes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Barbies are evil

Iran’s prosecutor general believes Barbie dolls have a harmful corrupting effect on young minds and I bet he doesn’t even know there is a Tefillin Barbie. Ynet News:
Iran's toy market is being inundated by models of Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and the young must be protected from their harmful cultural effects, the prosecutor general was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"Promoting figures like Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and the uncontrolled import of CDs of video games and films should alarm all the country's officials," Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi was quoted as saying by the student ISNA news agency.
"We need to find substitutes to ward off this onslaught, which aims at children and young people whose personality is in the process of being formed," he added. Dori Najafabadi's comments came in a letter to an Iranian vice president, urging measures to protect "Islamic culture and revolutionary values".

While officials regularly lambast Western culture for polluting the minds of the public, Western toys have become a regular and popular feature on the shelves of toy shops in Iran in recent years. Affluent Iranian parents are known for indulging their children and the purchase of such toys has become for many an obligatory treat. But Dori Najafabadi said, "These toys, which do not respect the required norms, present dangers for the health of children and affect the survival of toy factories in this country."
In fact, its much, much worse than Iranian officials suspect. I have it on good authority that Batman is a Zionist.

Pallywood Comes to Hollywood North

The First Annual Palestinian Film Festival is being held in Toronto, and sponsored by Palestine House (Toronto Chapter) in October 2008 – right after the Toronto International Film Festival and I quote the website:
Conceived by Palestine House, the Festival is an important component of the year-long activities commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Nakba. Cinema represents a powerful means for visually interpreting the collective identity and historic struggle of the Palestine people. The Festival will present in film the extraordinary narrative of a dispossessed people living in exile or under Israeli occupation and will introduce Canadian audiences to the rich variety of Palestinian Cinema. While highlighting the work of Palestinian filmmakers where ever they live exploring both historic and contemporary themes related to Palestinian culture, experience, and narrative.

In other words - all those things which go boom in the day or night. I can just imagine the gripping entries...running from a moving documentary chronicling the life and times of Ali the Kassam Maker to A day in the life of Jamal the Suicide Bomber. Although, if I had a vote for best Pallywood film, it would go for this Pallywood version of Resurrection.

Just how wussy is UNIFIL anyway?

Ha’aretz is reporting that Israeli officials are charging that UNIFIL has been deliberately hiding information from the UN Security Council.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is intentionally concealing information about Hezbollah activities south of the Litani River in Lebanon to avoid conflict with the group, senior sources in Jerusalem have said. In the last six months there have been at least four cases in which UNIFIL soldiers identified armed Hezbollah operatives, but did nothing and did not submit full reports on the incidents to the UN Security Council.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Foreign Ministry are reportedly very angry about UNIFIL's actions in recent months, especially about the fact that its commander, Major General Claudio Graziano, is said to be leniently interpreting his mission, as assigned by Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the Second Lebanon War.


A senior government source in Jerusalem said that, "There is an attempt by various factors in the UN to mislead the Security Council and whitewash everything having to do with the strengthening of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon." The source also said, "The policy of cover-ups and whitewashing will not last long and, hopefully, now that the concealing of information has been revealed, things will change."

Israeli anger reached boiling point over a week ago after the release of a new report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with regard to another Lebanon-related Security Council resolution, 1559. The report briefly mentioned an incident at the beginning of March in which UNIFIL soldiers encountered unidentified armed men, and included no additional details. Officials in Israel, familiar with the incident, reportedly were aware that the Security Council had not been apprised of numerous details of the incident.

A day after the release of the report, Haaretz revealed that the incident described in the report had actually been a clash between UNIFIL and armed Hezbollah activists. The latter, driving a truck full of explosives, threatened the Italian UNIFIL battalion with weapons. Instead of using force as required by their mandate, the UN soldiers abandoned the site. A diplomatic source at the UN told Haaretz that senior officials in UNIFIL and in the UN Secretariat brought heavy pressure to bear to have the incident erased from the report or at least to blur it.

When the incident was made public, UNIFIL was forced to admit that it had indeed occurred and to request Lebanon's assistance in investigating it. UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane said that during the incident, which took place near the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, five armed men had threatened UNIFIL troops. Bouziane said the identity of the armed men was uncertain.

But then again, why should UNIFIL determine the identity of threatening armed men in Lebanon?

The Crisis in Hamas Manufacturing

When Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian legislature Palestinian apologistas were quick to point out the alleged honesty and integrity of Hamas as an organization. The Jerusalem Post carries this account which highlights Hamas integrity and honesty in action:
Hamas militiamen in the Gaza Strip on Sunday attacked fuel trucks headed toward the Nahal Oz border crossing, forcing them to turn back, sources in the Palestinian Petroleum Authority said.

The fuel was supposed to go to the UN Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] and hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the sources said. "Dozens of Hamas militiamen hurled stones and opened fire at the trucks," the sources added. "The trucks were on their way to receive fuel supplied by Israel. The drivers were forced to turn back. Some of them had their windshields smashed."

The Palestinian Petroleum Authority reached an agreement with Israel over the weekend to receive 250,000 liters of fuel after UNRWA complained that it did not have enough fuel to distribute food aid to more than 500,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry also accused Hamas of blocking fuel supplies to hospitals and clinics in the Gaza Strip. The ministry said Hamas gunmen opened fire at a number of trucks that were trying to transfer fuel to the hospitals and clinics.

Eyewitnesses in Gaza City said that at least on four occasions over the past few weeks, Hamas militiamen confiscated trucks loaded with fuel shortly as they were on their way from Nahal Oz to the city. They added that the fuel supplies were taken to Hamas-controlled security installations throughout the city.
"Hamas is taking the fuel for it the vehicles of is leaders and security forces," the eyewitnesses said. "Because of Hamas's actions, some hospitals have been forced to stop the work of ambulances and generators."
Hamas has also been exerting pressure on the Gaza Petrol Station Owners Association to close down their businesses so as to aggravate the crisis. Some of the station owners and workers said they were afraid to return to work after receiving death threats from Hamas militiamen and ordinary residents desperate to purchase gas and diesel for their vehicles.
There should be no doubt that Hamas is aiming to manufacture a crisis within the Gaza Strip in order to bring the international community’s wrath down on Israel to open its border to the Gaza Strip but for once, perhaps Hamas has overplayed its cards. The EU has even issued a statement condemning Hamas’ role in the fuel crisis – abet a mild rebuke to be sure, but perhaps we have now reached a tipping point.

the secret to teenage happiness

It never fails to amaze me how easily children or even teenagers are amused. You can buy all the fancy gadgets and the latest movies, music or clothes but there are far simpler things to do to make them happy.

This weekend I inadvertently hit on another ‘fun’ thing to do while out with Isaiah Sender. It was such a success that I tried it on Montana and the Last Amazon. Both of whom enjoyed it so much that I have a date with each of them for next week. Are you ready? I took them individually to our local park to watch the dogs in the ‘dog run’ while sitting on a park bench. This is the teenage equivalent of the baby choosing to play with the box over the toy which came out of the box. Besides, it has the upside of dog ownership without all the messy things like paper training, poop and scoop, vet bills or early am runs.

Of course, we talked about all kinds of things, but watching the dogs some how managed to break down the initial teenage barriers to having little chats with your parent. It was truly remarkable how much insight I got into each of their daily lives. I have always had a general idea of what their day looked without me but this was all about filling in the details and it made them happy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Imagine the inadequacy of a free ride

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that UNRWA has decided to stop delivery of all food stuffs to ‘refugees’ in the Gaza Strip because its’ vehicles have run out of fuel:
The United Nations on Thursday stopped distributing food to Palestinian refugees in Gaza because its vehicles have run out of fuel following an Israeli blockade, a UN official said.

The official, Adnan Abu Hasna, said 700,000 Palestinians who depend on the UN for basic food packets, won't be getting them. He said the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) used the last of its fuel on Thursday. That forced it to stop distribution.

Abu Hasna, the UNRWA spokesman, said that without fuel for its vehicles, the agency could not bring new shipments to its warehouses or distribute it to needy Palestinians.

As of Thursday evening, he said, "all of our regular food operations have stopped because of the fuel shortage." There was no immediate Israeli comment about the UNRWA move.

No doubt there are already those ready to flood a river with crocodile tears but hold the hankies - there is more –
There is some fuel stored in Gaza - but a local strike by distributors means it is not reaching the public. Palestinian distributors have been refusing to pick up about a million liters that Israel pumped earlier this month into the Palestinian side of the border fuel depot, saying the quantity is insufficient.
Imagine the inadequacy of a free ride. Of course, perhaps it would be easier on the average Palestinian if Hamas wasn’t in the habit of commandeering whatever it needed from wherever.

And another thing. Just how is it that Gazan Palestinians are still being referred to as "refugees" - now that is what I call an abuse of status. Are we really expected to believe Gazan Palestinians qualify as bona fide refugees...from what - Palestinian statehood?

Could be, could be, maybe not.

The arrest of 84 year old American for spying for Israel from over 20 years ago was a bit of a surprise. Glad to see I am not the only one wondering over the ‘timing’ of this affair. This Jerusalem Post article pushes a few conspiracy buttons:
More likely, Kadish is being used by American officials as a means to loosen support for Israel as the two countries enter a tenacious period of negotiations. This is a pattern of American pressure that repeats itself. The tactic is geared to embarrass American supporters of Israel, particularly congress members who oppose weapons sales to Israel's foes, dangerous concessions to the Palestinians, or the abrogation of previous commitments to Israel.

During the last 30 years, particularly in times of tension, American officials claimed that Israel stole plans for the Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, diverted nuclear material from a US plant in the 1960s, illegally obtained krytron triggers for nuclear weapons, pilfered computer components from Patriot missiles, and used American technology on the Lavie aircraft that was later transferred to China. The 2005 arrest of two AIPAC staffers is more of the same, and they were charged under the creaky 1917 Espionage Act statute older than Kadish. For years, unnamed American spy-hunters have been looking for an accomplice to Jonathan Pollard. Leaks on these stories almost always took place on the eve of some contretemps with the US State Department.

Today's case against Kadish reflects more the impatience of the US Secretary of State with Israel's decision to continue building in Jerusalem and in settlement blocs and to retain security roadblocks. To push ahead in the illusionary Annapolis process at all costs, the State Department must de-emphasize President George Bush's letter to Prime Minister Sharon stating that it is "unrealistic" to seek a "full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." With Bush on his way to Israel to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary, what better way to deflate the goodwill and cut down the gifts the President is supposedly bringing?

Lastly, in the twilight of the Bush administration, a presidential pardon for Jonathan Pollard is again being discussed, at least by Jewish and Israeli sources. Disclosure of another Pollard-like spy would be an effective tool to keep Pollard locked up for good.

I usually am not much for conspiracy theories and have a marked preference for the simplest explanation – general incompetence – although….

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can you see what I see?

One just never knows what one will find at Reuters. Apparently, British psychics are up in arms over incoming legislation requiring mediums to provide their bona fides or face fraud charges.:
LONDON (Reuters) - Fortune-tellers, mediums and spiritual healers marched on the home of the British prime minister at Downing Street on Friday to protest against new laws they fear will lead to them being "persecuted and prosecuted".

Organizers say that replacing the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 with new consumer protection rules will remove key legal protection for "genuine" mediums. They think skeptics might bring malicious prosecutions to force spiritualists to prove in court that they can heal people, see into the future or talk to the dead.

Psychics also fear they will have to give disclaimers describing their services as entertainment or as scientific experiments with unpredictable results. "If I'm giving a healing to someone, I don't want to have to stand there and say I don't believe in what I'm doing," said Carole McEntee-Taylor, a healer who co-founded the Spiritual Workers Association.

The group delivered a petition with 5,000 names to the prime minister's office, although Gordon Brown is away in the United States. With the changes expected to come into force next month, spiritualists have faced a barrage of headlines gleefully suggesting that they should have seen it coming. But many don't see the funny side. They say the new rules will shift the responsibility of proving they are not frauds from prosecutors and onto them.

This is a really interesting sign of the times story, and not because psychics couldn’t see this coming or even the fact that psychics have their own union and/or association… but because, I keep reading reports all over the Anglosphere which have elective legislative representatives enacting new criminal code legislation which requires a defendant to prove his/her innocence rather than the Crown lay out a case for a guilty verdict.

Kassams continue to land in Sderot

And just in case you believed Jimmy Carter’s parlee with Hamas acted as a moderating influence - I thought I would point out kassams continue to fly towards Sderot. Ynet News:
Qassam rocket hit a home in Sderot on Tuesday, causing some of the residents in the city to be treated for shock. Another rocket landed in open spaces outside Sderot. Altogether three Qassam rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spy Games

The Jerusalem Post is reporting the arrest of a mechanical engineer at a US Army research center for spying for Israel:
The US attorney in Manhattan and FBI officials Tuesday described the arrest of Ben-ami Kadish.

They alleged Kadish committed the crimes from 1979 through 1985 when he was a mechanical engineer at an Army research center in Dover, New Jersey. He allegedly committed the offenses at the same time as Jonathan Pollard was conducting his espionage activities. Channel 10 reported that Kadish's handler was Yosef Yagur - the former scientific attache at the Israeli consulate in New York City who connected Pollard to the Israeli intelligence establishment.

Investigators believe Kadish, who was born in Connecticut, took home secret documents and let the Israeli government worker photograph them. Prosecutors say it was the same consulate employee who received information from convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard. Authorities contend the Kadish documents included information about nuclear weapons, a modified version of an F-15 fighter jet and the Patriot missile defense system.

Egad, not another Pollard spy scenario was my first thought, and then I thought, with this kind of clearance rate - any outstanding espionage issues from - say today - should be cleared by the FBI around 2028.

IDF Chief of Staff sends a message

It is rare to see this kind of report in an Israeli paper. The Jerusalem Post:
In a rare move, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday night decided to dismiss a battalion commander who, according to military probes, failed to engage the Islamic Jihad terrorists who infiltrated the Nahal Oz fuel depot and killed two Israelis.

Ashkenazi's decision to fire Lt.-Col. Yair Baranes, commander of Battalion 9 of the 401 Armored Brigade, came after two probes conducted by the Central and Southern Commands concluded that the officer had failed to operate according to correct military procedure during the attack.

Two Israelis were killed in Nahal Oz on April 9 when four Islamic Jihad terrorists infiltrated the depot, the main conduit for gas supplies transferred from Israel to Gaza.

IDF sources said Ashkenazi's decision to fire the high-ranking officer was meant to send a message throughout the IDF that forces in combat are always expected to engage the enemy. Ashkenazi has stressed this military principle as one of the most important values needed among IDF officers - particularly after the Second Lebanon War, when a number of commanders failed to engage Hizbullah, preferring to use standoff capabilities or to withdraw their forces.

Maybe a new day for the IDF is really dawning after all. Of course, any day after the disastrous adventures in Lebanon has to be a new day.

A Think Tank with a Twist

A common refrain on the right, is to ask where are the moderate muslims or so-called quiet Muslim majority. Well, I cannot answer for all of them but apparently a group of British ex-radical Muslim hardliners have started a think tank to counter the radical Islamism of Osama et al according to this BBC online report:
The Quilliam Foundation says Muslims can discover a form of "Western Islam" by returning to the heart of the faith. Its founding members are all reformed hardliners who say British Muslims should be pioneering a renewed vision free from foreign ideology. The foundation is backed by popular progressive scholars - and is supported by a string of non-Muslim thinkers.

The foundation is the brain child of two men who have begun a battle against the Islamist political movement they once belonged to, accusing it of being part of a conveyor belt towards terrorism. The foundation's director is Essex-born Maajid Nawaz who was jailed in Egypt with two other British men for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical party which recruits young Muslims across the world.

Ed Husain, the deputy director, has become a key influence on government thinking after writing a controversial expose of his life as an Islamist. Both men have remained committed Muslims since leaving the movement.

The think tank is named after William Quilliam, a 19th century Liverpool solicitor who became a prominent early convert to Islam and is thought to have opened the first British mosque. The think tank argues his example of Islam through learning and reflection, rather than one dependent on "cultural baggage" from south Asia demonstrates a way forward. The founders say that they want to confront what they call a radical, intolerant ideology which has been spread among young Muslims, often from abroad and based on flawed understandings of Western values.

The launch at the British Museum will see the founders publish recommendations for government action to marginalise extremist thinking. In particular, they say they will campaign and debate among British Muslims to shift thinking back towards a centre ground of moderation and integration with the rest of society. The foundation hopes it can effectively target the debate on critical issues such as Al Qaeda's ideology by demonstrating that the Koran and other sources say the opposite to what is claimed by extremists.

Mainly the critics of radical Islamism have been non-Muslims or ex-Muslims. This frankly would hold little cache for me if I were a Muslim, so it is great to see a group of moderates ban together to stake out the higher turf on the side of moderation.

Bad guys with guns trump UNIFIL - again.

Perhaps you were under the impression that a UNIFIL force actually meant something in the real wider world – if so, read this Ha’aretz article and weep:
Armed Hezbollah militants warded off members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) last month when the peacekeepers discovered a truck carrying weapons and ammunition belonging to the Lebanon-based guerilla group.

The incident was referred to briefly in a semi-yearly report submitted to the UN Security Council by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The incident was the first time that UNIFIL forces were confronted by armed Hezbollah men south of Lebanon's Litani River, an area which Security Council resolution 1701 prohibits Hezbollah from entering.

According to a government source in Jerusalem, the incident caused great embarrassment for UNIFIL. The source described the incident, explaining that UNIFIL troops on patrol discovered the truck and chased it down and pulled it over. When the UNIFIL troops approached the vehicle, the source said, armed Hezbollah men exited the truck and threatened the troops at gunpoint. The UNIFIL patrol then went back into their cars, according to the source, and returned to their base.

I am sure there is a perfectly rational explanation for UNIFIl actions (or perhaps I should say - lack of), like say, the Hezbollah gunman were really nice guys for guys with loaded guns and we didn’t want to hurt them. It was the first time we caught Hezbollah and we didn’t want to embarrass the Hezbollah guys ...pride and all that. Besides if we had embarrassed them. maybe they would have blown-up our barracks…

Really, all I want to know is which contingent of soldiers turned tail – the French, Germans, Italians, South Koreans or East Indians. Nah, I can’t believe the East Indians would run - so strike them off the list of possibles. Of course, this really isn’t surprising since it has already been widely reported that UNIFIL will not patrol at night in Lebanon.

Ah yes,

Christian fellowship in action in the holy land. Ynet News:
A clash broke out Sunday between Greek-Orthodox and Armenian worshippers at the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, during the closing of the Christian Palm Sunday. Police officers present at the scene separated between them. None of the 20 people present were injured.

And the root cause of this Christian conflict at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem?
During the ceremony a flame is lit by a sun beam penetrating the narrow aperture in the church’s ceiling. In recent years, the service has become a Bone of contention between the Christian denominations, as each one tries to be the first one to have its leader carry the flame outside the church.

Ah yes, a religion of peace in action.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No peace on the road from Damascus – even if JC says it is.

Let me forthright. Jimmy Carter and his revelations are beyond tiresome for me but not apparently for the international media or even the Toronto Star - who for that matter seems to treat his every utterances as some kind of divine intercession by the peace gods. Case in point today's JC fest in the Toronto Star:
JERUSALEM – Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said Monday that Hamas – the Islamic militant group that has called for the destruction of Israel – is prepared to accept the right of the Jewish state to "live as a neighbour next door in peace."

Carter relayed the message in a speech in Jerusalem after meeting last week with top Hamas leaders in Syria. It capped a nine-day visit to the Middle East aimed at breaking the deadlock between Israel and Hamas militants who rule the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leaders "said that they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders" and they would "accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbour next door in peace," Carter said. The borders he referred to were the frontiers that existed before Israel captured large swaths of Arab lands in the 1967 Mideast War – including the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

In the past, Hamas officials have said they would establish a ``peace in stages" if Israel were to withdraw to the borders it held before 1967. But it has been evasive about how it sees the final borders of a Palestinian state and has not abandoned its official call for Israel's destruction.

There is a lot more of the same in the rest of the article but there is ASOLUTELY NOTHING new here. In fact, this CNN archived report from 1997 mentions Sheik Yassin of Hamas' offer of 'peace with Israel".
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (CNN) -- Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Islamic fundamentalist movement Hamas, said Tuesday he would forge a truce with Israel that would end suicide bombings if Israel withdrew completely from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and removed all of its Jewish settlements. "If Israel withdraws completely from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and it removes all of its settlements, I will make a truce with it. You have my word for it," he said.

David Bar-Illan, a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the peace overture was "a positive change" despite the "unacceptable conditions." In the past, militants within Hamas have never indicated a willingness to negotiate. Instead, they have spoken of a "holy war" to establish an Islamic state in all of what is now Israel.

"We would like to hope that it means that (Yassin) will preach peace rather than violence," Bar-Illan said. "There is no question he has a following and charisma." But Bar-Illan said Israel would not pursue a cease-fire agreement unless Hamas as a group formally abandons its policy of attacking Israelis and destroying the Jewish state.

If 1997 is too far back for you – how about this offer of a long-term offer issued in 2006 from a BBC report.
After talks with the Egyptian government and the Arab League in Cairo in February, Mr Meshaal told the BBC that Hamas would be willing to take a serious step towards peace if Israel did the same.

He said Hamas would not renounce violence, saying resisting an occupation was legal right. But he said a long-term truce would be possible if Israel accepted conditions, including a return to its 1967 borders.

Or this Ynet News report dated January 2006 statement from the Hamas' 'foreign minister' at large:

WASHINGTON - Top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told CNN that a "long-term hudna or long-term truce" is possible. He would not commit to negotiating with Israel and would not say whether recognizing Israel's existence is a long-term possibility.

The conditions included Israel's retreating to its pre-1967 borders and releasing Palestinian prisoners. Zahar told CNN if Israel "is ready to give us the national demand to withdraw from the occupied area (in) '67; to release our detainees; to stop their aggression; to make geographic link between Gaza Strip and West Bank, at that time, with assurance from other sides, we are going to accept to establish our independent state at that time, and give us one or two, 10, 15 years time in order to see what is the real intention of Israel after that."

"We can accept to establish our independent state on the area occupied (in) '67," he said. Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War of 1967. Key conditions could allow Palestinians to give a "long-term hudna or long-term truce," and "after that, let time heal," he said.

Of course, after JC's hawking of the Hamas peace possibilities as some kind of new revelation from on high, Khaled Mashall, the Syrian based exiled leader of Hamas went on to say this about the neighborly qualities of a Hamas peace. (Taken from Ynet News today):

Hamas accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state on within the 1967 borders but would not recognize the Jewish state, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Monday. Mashaal added that Hamas would grant Israel a 10-year "hudna," or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from the land the Palestinians claims.

Mashaal's comments were one of the clearest outlines Hamas has given for what it would do if Israel withdrew from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, which it seized in 1967. He suggested Hamas would accept Israel's existence alongside a Palestinian state on the rest of the lands Israel has held since 1948. "We accept a state on the June 4 line with Jerusalem as capital, real sovereignty and full right of return for refugees but without recognizing Israel," Mashaal told reporters, referring to the borders as they stood before the 1967 war.

"We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition," he said. He said he made the offer to former US President Jimmy Carter during talks Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.

From 1997 to 2008, from Sheik Yassin to Khaled Mashaal to Jimmy Carter - there is no peace process until the Palestinian people and their various leaders and/or militas recognize Israel as the "Jewish" state and the national homeland of the Jews. This they refuse to do but until this is done - there can never exist circumstances for a real, comprehensive or lasting peace. And as for that hudna or truce, neither is a peace, but merely a period of calm to prepare for war.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy

This is just too juicy not to blog and I am shamelessly stealing the tip from Joe Settler who asks the age old question - does art imitate life or life imitate art? First an old Caroline Glick column from the Jerusalem Post circa 2006:
Conveniently, the same day the PA released the men who its own forces had kidnapped, Reuters reported that the IDF had shot a missile at its press vehicle and wounded two cameramen - one from Reuters and one from Iranian World TV network - while they were en route to a battle taking place between IDF forces and Palestinian terrorists. Reuters, which is demanding an independent investigation into the attack, is portraying its cameraman Fadel Shana as an embattled hero who would do anything to bring the truth to the world.

Yet it is unclear why anyone should believe either Shana or Reuters. Shana told Reuters that as he was driving to the battle scene, "I suddenly saw fire and the doors of the jeep flew open." He claims to have been wounded by shrapnel in his hand and leg. These are minor injuries for someone whose vehicle was just hit by a missile.

But then, the photographs taken of his vehicle after the purported missile attack give no indication that the car was hit by anything. There is a gash on the roof. The hood is bent out of shape. But nothing seems to have been burned. Cars hit by missiles do not look like they have just been in a nasty accident. Cars hit by missiles are destroyed.

Yet the glass on the windshield and the windows of Shana's vehicle isn't even shattered. In the photographs taken of Shana on the way to the hospital in Gaza, he lies on a stretcher, eyes closed, arm extended in full pieta mode. He is not visibly bleeding although there are some blood stains on his shirt, but then his undershirt is completely white.
Think about it for a moment - how many dud missiles do the Israeli actually fire? Speed up and read what Ynet News is reporting today:
VIDEO - A Reuters cameraman, Fadel Shana, was killed in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday while he was filming a military post on the border fence. Video from Shana's camera showed the tank opening fire. Two seconds after the shot raises dust around its gun, the tape goes blank - seemingly at the moment Shana was hit.

For the record – there is no official or unofficial ceasefire

Just because the international press has grown quite blaze about rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip do not take it to mean the rockets are not flying with the same frightening regularity. Ynet News reports:
Nine Qassam rockets were fired towards Israel on Wednesday afternoon in the latest barrage by Palestinian terror groups in northern Gaza. The rockets landed throughout the western Negev, with one landing in Kibbutz Nir Am and damaging several homes. Another rocket landed in Sderot's industrial zone. At least 19 rockets have been fired from the Strip since the early morning hours.
And the Israeli Olmert government is still busy shipping fuel into the Gaza Strip

A cruel and unusual punishment tool for fine enforcement

I always thought myself as a law and order kind of gal, but even I have my limits. Giving transit authorities the right to taser someone who willfully evaded and/or avoided paying a ticket to ride crosses all my red lines in the sand. The Globe and Mail:
VANCOUVER — The country's only armed transit police have been tasering passengers who try to avoid paying fares.

According to documents provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, police patrolling public transit in the Metro Vancouver area have used tasers 10 times in the past 18 months, including five occasions when victims had been accosted for riding free.
I can see a million things wrong with this scenario, and I shudder when I think of the likelihood of some misfortunate mentally ill soul, in the middle of a reality break, being shocked from here to kingdom come by one of these wanna-be cops and their exaggeration sense of self-importance. Not to mention the potential tab to the taxpayers - who will be stuck with when the words 'wrongful death' are uttered in a civil suit against the city.

And this incredibly bone-headedly bad idea is now be studied by TTC officials. Let us hope common sense prevails among the bureaucrats - egad, what have I just written...common sense among bureacrats...oy.

Ooops. Mea Culpa or looking for Jihad in all the wrong places

Tuesday, I posted that the charges against 3 of so-called Toronto Jihadists were to be stayed. Turns out I was misinformed in the Ottawa Citizen story. It was not 3 alleged Toronto Jihadists but 4. And the fourth just happens to be the alleged Imam ringleader of the Toronto 18…I mean Toronto 11. The Toronto Star
Nearly two years ago, when police busted an alleged homegrown terror cell, Qayyum Abdul Jamal was portrayed as the firebrand ringleader seeking recruits for jihad.

Today, he says, he hopes to piece together a reputation left in tatters after being accused of belonging to the so-called Toronto 18, a group of men and teens who allegedly plotted to bomb sites around Toronto. And he hopes to repair a life changed forever when he spent 17 months in jail, 13 of them in solitary confinement.That's why the Crown's surprise move yesterday to stay terrorism-related charges against Jamal and three of his co-accused is somewhat bittersweet for the 45-year-old.
Actually, I suspect the Crown’s case, despite the much hyped rhetoric, is much worse than the public can possibly begin to imagine. Of course, how would any of us (in the public) realistically know? After all there is a general publication ban which the Crown demanded citing 'national security’ concerns (which sounds more like job security issues if you ask me). Although, little tidbits do seem to sip thorough the media now and then….like this one taken from a Thomas Walkom column in the Toronto Star:
Other elements of the government's case did not stand up well under scrutiny. The alleged terror training camp turned out to be a hapless adventure in the rain, one where participants spent much of their time in a local doughnut shop and where the ammunition for target practice was apparently provided by one of two paid RCMP informers.
Ah, perhaps we are to believe Tim Horton’s are now Canadian recruitment centres for Al Qaeda? And ammo provided courtesy of the RCMP paid informant…okay-dokey. An unintended consequence of this keystone cops adventure is; if an Al Qaeda or some other like-minded group like Hezbollah, ever does decide to blow up anything in Canada - it would now be damned near impossible to ever shut up a Canadian version of 9/11 Truthers and I suspect a great deal of the general public will just put it down to RCMP/CSIS hi-jinx or a work accident.

When this case is resolved, one way or another, I truly hope there is a huge public outcry demanding a public inquiry as to how & why the RCMP and CSIS got it all so, so, very wrong.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


You know that feeling of being rushed and harried when you wake up way, way later than normal which usually haunts everything you do that day? That’s where I am right now. No postings until I finally catch up with my day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Homegrown Jihad or The Saga of Smoke, Mirrors and General Incompetence.

First, the Crown alleged there were 18 homegrown jihadists and Canadians were shocked. Then we learned about the rather unwholesome backgrounds of the ‘informers’.

Then, next thing we knew – three of the alleged 18 jihadists had their charges stayed, so then there was 15.

And today, my oh my, the Ottawa Citizen is reporting the Crown will be seeking to stay the charges of 3 more alleged homegrown terrorists.
BRAMPTON, Ont. - Prosecutors are expected to move to stay charges Tuesday against three men accused of participating in a homegrown terror cell after they agreed to abide by certain court-ordered conditions for one year.

Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the eldest of 18 accused in Canada's largest terrorist sweep, Ahmad Mustafa Ghany and Ibrahim Alkhalel Mohammed Aboud signed peace bonds, finalizing their cases in a Brampton court this morning.
Now we are down to 12 and I still smell acquittal in the air for majority – unless one of them loses their nerve and cops a plea. And it is not because I am Psychics 'R' Amazons but I worked long enough in criminal law to have a feel for the alleged skill set of our top policing agencies and a nose which can smell ‘unsavory’ in an informer/mole. Originally, I wrote this and it still applies:

If anything, the CSIS and the RCMP appear to have managed to do what no other international law enforcement agency has done before; which is to shut down a Jihad cell of this size. Who would have thought it possible? Certainly not I, and I bet that Maher Arar wouldn’t either. If my memory is not entirely on the fritz, the US’s department of Homeland Security largest single capture was a grand total of 6 in a single swoop in Buffalo.

Another thing that nags at me is the diverse backgrounds with these pre-dominantly young men. Jihad as it is practiced out in the wider world tends to operate in cells based on a similarity of ethnic/tribal background. These young men do not share a common ethnic heritage and the bond that ties seems to be strictly their religion. But where Jihad is a way of life in such places as Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq or even Egypt; groups of Jihadists tend to co-operate in cells based on ethnic/tribal lines. It’s a trust issue. Saudis trust other Saudis before they will trust Syrians, Iranians or Palestinians etc. Who knows, maybe it is just another first for Canadian multiculturalism – our Jihadists cross ethnic/tribal lines.

And my gut tells me - this will not be a first for Canadian multiculturalism.

Things that make me go hmmmm….

Ha’aretz is report that the Emir of Qatar urges the Israeli Foreign Minister to lift the embargo on the Gaza Strip due to the difficult humanitarian situation. Meanwhile the Jerusalem Post is reporting this:
Hamas is planning to blow up the border with Egypt in Rafah for the second time, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported Monday. The paper quoted "reliable Palestinian sources" as saying that Hamas activists were planning to fire mortar shells at Egyptian forces during the first stage of the operation. After that they intend to fire directly at the Egyptian troops, and ultimately destroy Egyptian battlements with explosives, some of them planted in tunnels beneath the guard posts. Meanwhile, the Hamas intends to breach the border with Egypt and allow the general populace to flood into the Sinai. The sources also told the paper that the organization had planted explosives along four kilometers of the border.
And lucky for Hamas, senior clerics in the Gaza Strip issued fatwas last Friday sanctioning the use of ‘live ammunition’ for the killing of Egyptian border guards.

Situational ethics

Here’s an interesting dilemma. A distracted violinist loses his prized violin on public transit and makes an appeal to the public with a reward promised for its return. Man sees bag lady with a violin in her shopping cart and makes her a deal. He gives her a cheap ring and $35 for her ‘violin’. He then contacts rightful owner of violin and collects full reward of $1000.

While he certainly wasn’t guilty of any crime I cannot help feeling there is something not quite kosher about the whole transaction. My gut instinct would have been to return the violin and turn down the reward. If the violinist was insistent, I would have accepted no more than $35 and told the man to donate it to a shelter for bag ladies.

But let’s say I did accept the whole reward, I would like to think I took the time and trouble to go find the homeless woman and give her the money or donate it to a shelter for a homeless women. But that is me, and much to my family’s horror - I really am my grandfather’s daughter. But what would you do?

Monday, April 14, 2008

give up the angst and never look back

The Globe and Mail has an article on a consumer movement to alleviate Microsoft XP angst rather than bite the bullet and make the switchover to Microsoft Vista as per Microsoft's business plan.

I thought I would wade in with my two cents – go Linux or go MAC. Being somewhat computer challenged, I took the easy way out and went MAC – I adore my six year old iBook and cannot conceive of a reason to ever willingly go back to a Microsoft environment – ever.

One suit over the line….sweet jaysus

Now Warman & Kinsella are tag teaming libel suits. Whatever happened to the days when a men who had too much free time on their hands would just go fishing?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome to the World

So what exactly do Zionist right wing wordmongers do when they are not busy spewing bile and spittle from their keyboards? Well, I can only speak for myself and the Last Amazon but we spent shifts from Monday to Thursday lending support to a little girl all grown-up while she struggle to bring forth this little Baby Cakes into the world. Baby Cakes came into the world Friday AM at 7lbs and 5 ounces. Nana, Momma and baby are all doing just fine.

Nana did tell me she had not realized she had given birth to a sailor until just before Baby Cakes’ immediate arrival. I pointed out – child birth usually makes sailors of us all.

Apparently, there is a name but I am holding out the mother will come to her senses before she takes pen to registration papers and hinders Baby Cakes with possibly one of the most horrendously appalling names known for girls in the English language. Barring that, I can always be the good aunt and help Baby Cakes fill in the forms and navigate a legal name change at 18. Until then, she is Baby Cakes to me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pass the popcorn before you pass the hat

I haven’t weighed in on the whole Human Rights Tribunal issues in Canada because, well, I decided to first do a little reading about the history of the human rights tribunal in Canada. Call it a case of my conservative nature asserting it self to be, well, conservative. From what I can gather the ideals of the tribunals were noble and offered a much needed balm to the ‘little’ guy in redressing a wrong or an injustice who did not have the financial resources necessary to seek a remedy through the civil court system.

The days when a citizen of the crown could appeal directly to the King or Queen to seek redress are long gone. The establishment of the Human Rights Tribunal was our meager attempt at mirroring that age old custom but as I have always said – good intentions makes for bad law.

Moreover, in researching the tribunal history, I discovered a number of instances where the Tribunals worked as designed and changed the laws of the land in much needed ways, and then, some not so needed or wanted ways. I am not yet at the point where I would support the full dismantling of the tribunal system unless a much needed tweaking was done in our civil court system to allow the ordinary Joe/Jane access to the civil system regardless of financial status. Perhaps costs for certain actions could be waived unless the court found against the plaintiff. Just a suggestion. All that being said; there is certainly room to tweak up the Tribunal system in order for the tribunal process to fall in line with our common civil laws.

In Canada, we have freedom speech with certain limitations. Any act of Parliament can certainly limit what we say within the public domain. Think our “hate speech laws’ which I believe to be as odious as those groups who would seek to promote hatred if there was no legislature prohibiting such speech. As odious as certain groups are, I would rather savage them in the public domain. But then, I prefer my enemies’ front and centre rather than lurking in the shadows or lying in wait.

There is no right of speech to make statements as fact which one knows to be false or could potentially be false. By that I mean one is prohibited under law of standing up in public forum and yelling ‘fire’ when there is no fire. There is no right of free speech to knowingly lie or spread false information.

In Canada, we are not allowed under the right of freedom of speech, to savage an individual’s character no matter how odious an individual might be by spreading false information concerning said odious individual’s character or actions. When we do this, we put ourselves in the position of being eligible for being sued under our libel or slander laws in our civil court system. This brings me to the recent spat of libel lawsuits filed in our civil court system (and not before a human rights tribunal) against our current anti-Human Rights Tribunal blogging advocates.

In a quick reading of the statement of claim posted by Ezra Levant (one of the defendants). One area of concern in this suit alleges a ‘link’ to another site carries a whole new burden of responsibility. In other words, if I linked to say Stormfront, even in a blog posting pointing out the odious nature of any claims made at that site - I can be held liable in civil law. This should be giving everyone ‘pause’ as to who and what is being said on any of the blogs we link to in our blog roll. Scary stuff to have floating around the blogsphere.

One of the defendants named in the suit who certainly merits my blogging support, is Kate McMillan at Small Dead Animals. Kate McMillan ended up as a plaintiff for the ‘link’ thingy and because of comments which were allowed to stand at her blog.

I don’t claim to run this blog as forum for free speech or allowing anyone use of my dime on my soapbox. Although, through the years I have let some pretty vile comments stand from time to time – mostly maligning my character (or lack of). Then there are the instances when I have directly challenged and issued a warning to a commenter to never post such statements again at my blog. I let the initial comment stand as a warning or guideline for others to follow.

I am not a big Small Dead Animals fan. I disagree with a great deal of what Kate publishes. I find most of the commenters who frequent not worthy of engaging but I give Kate great credit in writing a very, very successful blog. She writes well and often passionately – even if I disagree just as passionately. She can give food for thought and I would much rather have a Canadian blogsphere with her in it than her silenced under civil law for hosting a comment or a link. Let her ideas stand or fall on their own merits. If the court finds for plaintiff against Kate McMillan - there goes the Canadian blogsphere and we all might as well pack up and cancel our internet connections. Her fight is really ours because it is one thing to be sued for something you said or did and another to be sued for what a third party said or did.

As for the other defendants, free speech is not the right to engage in potentially libelous comments in a public forum, and even an alleged odious little worm is allowed to sue in our civil courts when said alleged odious little worm feels his character has been maligned with false and/or potentially false or misleading statements. Prudence in word or deed is also a conservative value. My two shekels for what it is worth – not very much in the larger scheme of things, but for long as I am allowed - there it is.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

And these are the values of those who would lead us

So, PM Stevie says ‘no’ to a boycott of the Beijing Olympics for Canada as boycotts are really not that effective. Silly me, I thought the real point of ‘boycotts’ was all about making and taking a principled stand.

The Prime Minister says, a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would not be ‘fair’ to our athletes who have worked so hard…and to hell with the little pissant who created a petition asking for ‘human rights’ rather than the Olympics (and was sentenced to five years hard labor for subverting China’s image)….and to hell the Tiananmen Mothers who still cannot openly mourn for their murdered children or mourn for those children who are still ‘officially’ only missing but not dead… and to hell with Aids activitists who are ‘lawfully’ imprisoned….the list goes on and on (and I am not even mentioning Tibet) but let us stand forever united for the right of Canadian athletes to play games or shot put in Beijing with all the other little despots.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

One down, and another thousand failed Messiahs to go

I see I scoped the Globe and Mail but the G&M account carries the kind of details that were not available yesterday in the Anglo online papers concerning this ‘rabbi’s pastorial activities:
Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper said the raid uncovered 30 notebooks of correspondence between Mr. Chen and his followers, in which he explicitly spelled out how the children should be tortured.

The notebooks explain how to bind the children in either “six ties” or “eight ties.” The notebooks describe how to prepare special drinks for the children, made of alcohol, salt, pepper and turpentine. The children were forced to drink the liquids until they vomited. “You see, they vomit the Satan inside them,” a letter tells the mother.

The notebooks also detail how to beat the children with batons and then pour alcohol on their wounds, describing in exact detail how much time to leave the burning liquid on the body of the sufferer. All these acts, the notebooks say, were necessary “in order to remove the ghosts from the children.” The notebooks also direct followers to put hot stones on the children.

In the correspondence Mr. Chen's followers never refer to him by name, calling him instead “His Honor the King of the Messiah.” The writings are conversational, as if Mr. Chen's followers did not speak to him and were only allowed to communicate in writing.

This is one man, the mounties need to apprehend immediately, and then, put on the first El Al plane leaving for Israel asap.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Disenfranchisement of Parents?

My immediate reaction to seeing Dan’s post, ‘California Mulls Spanking Ban‘, was to decide to write the following response:

I reacted when I first saw this issue brought up in the blog-sphere. Shortly afterwards, though not in connection with my reaction, I saw in the comments to blogs several defenses for such a ban amounting basically to the following argument: ‘Since I have never spanked my child, and since he or she is now a gainfully employed, law abiding adult, I know that the power to spank a child is not a necessary tool for child raising and that therefore it should be removed on the grounds that it is abusive to children.

But since the bill in question that first time around was a fringe offering, and as I felt that further attempts to ‘defend’ my right to employ what has throughout history been an acceptable tool for use in the raising of children serves to legitimize the claims of those who wish to deprive me of it, I chose not to respond to that argument nor to others equally specious.

This time around I will similarly not engage this wickedly harmful, power grab of an argument.

All I will say to the modern man, who sees a child not growing into an animal and winding up self supportive epitomizing parental ’success’, ” I will rebel before I allow you to condemn my children and the children of my people to modern man mediocrity through limiting my ability to educate.

That was what I was going to respond when I first read Dan’s post. Then I read his link.

Continue Reading.....

I think this decision qualifies for the 'it seemed like a good idea at the time' decision

Can we all agree that allowing China to host the Olympic Games was a superbly bad idea and ranks even higher and dumber than the Fox Network decision to cancel Firefly?

And for all those who object to the alleged politicizing of the Olympic Games, I just have to ask; where have you been all these decades? The games are all political, and have always been used for political purposes. Moreover, the games will probably always be political as long as athletes are representing their respective nations rather than just themselves as individuals.

If that is not enough to convince you that the Olympic Games are political trying thinking about Jesse Owens, Munich Massacre, and the USSR’s decision to invade Afghanistan and see if you can take the politics out of the equation. I will even go one step further and suggest the awarding of the Olympic Games to China was a completely dumb-assed political decision undertaken by Euroweanies and meant to convey a lame pat on the back for the PRC’s opening up of China to the west.

The only thing I find really surprising is why an athlete, (after training extensively for years and watching every morsel going into their bodies) would want to attend and participate in a competition which is held in a country that has notoriously poor water and air quality as well as a dodgy food supply health issues - unless their respective governments used extensive coercive force, but hey, that’s just me.

Great White Banana Republic

On the weekend, I was at Kensington Market and there was a man in the middle of the market literally screaming at the top of his lungs about Canada’s noble tradition of granting asylum to War Resisters and trying to collect signatures to protest the deportation of American army deserters.

The irony of being known as a ‘war resister’ after signing up for a hitch in the US military seemed lost on this man. Almost all of us gave him a wide berth and a cold shoulder. Truth is, most people who live downtown are rather use to screamers. Some days, it’s like the screaming never stops.

Anyway, I read this article in Ha’aretz:
Rabbi Elior Chen, the spiritual authority behind a group accused of systematically abusing children in a Jerusalem family, has fled to Canada with one of his supporters, Haaretz has learned.
So why did the Rabbi Chen choose Canada? Because of our international reputation:
Police said they do not know the location of Chen's and Fisher's families, but Chen's friend said they were hoping to go to Canada as well and may have already left the country. Chen and his supporters chose Canada in part, the source said, because "the extradition law is tough" there. "Only in very exceptional cases does Canada extradite," he said.

And the best we can do in Canada - is hope Rabbi Chen qualifies as an “exceptional’ case.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

tipping points

Elyakim Haetzni has long been one of my favourite Ynet News columnists. His most recent column Point of No Return hits one out of the ballpark and touches on the dangerous fantasy of the so-called Geneva Accord:
Following the first wave of the planned expulsion (which is set to include some 100,000 people), Israel would have to evacuate the large settlement blocs, because the concept of a land swap isn't applicable. The Arabs have already declared they would not settle for an acre of desert land in the Negev in exchange for an acre in Ma'aleh Adumim or Ariel. Therefore, the vision of Palestine at the expense of Ben Gurion's vision of the Negev – which would outrage evacuees from Judea and Samaria and from within the Green Line - is not realistic. It's easier to destroy the blocs.

And still – what would they give in exchange for the Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem? If those, too, are evacuated, the number of Jewish evacuees would reach half a million. The cost pf the latest expulsion – some 10,000 people – comes close to some $5.5 billion (including the army's expenses, the damages inflicted by Qassams and the fortification of the Gaza-vicinity area). The State would not be able to meet the incomprehensible cost of the final expulsion which is set to be 30-times bigger - $170 billion.

Everyone is worried about the possible violent resistance by the "ideological" settlers, but the struggle of those who have come to Judea and Samaria in order to better their quality of life – and who would find themselves dispossessed of their property – could be just as strong. This time, with a frustrated and angry rightist youth, is the government preparing for possible casualties? In light of the bitter experience of the first expulsion (50% unemployment rate, alarming rise in heart attack and cancer cases, emigration from Israel, a breakup of the family unit, draft dodging), have the people of the Geneva Initiative looked into the ability of Israeli society to cope with a shock 30-times greater without falling apart?

And what would happen to the army, which is already reluctant to participate in local evacuation operations following the damages it has sustained during the first expulsion? Youths have been living in the evacuated settlement of Homesh for the past eight months, while the army refrains from evacuating them and the police fail to do so. What has the Geneva Initiative learned from this example? Religious soldiers make up 40% of junior officers in combat units. If even some of them refuse to take part in the expulsion, would we still have an army?

And what about the legitimacy of the rule of law in a society that treats 4% of its children as scapegoats? Are the people of the Geneva Initiative at all worried about the phenomenon of the 14-year old teen girls who chose to sit in detention for months and turn their backs on the country that ahs ethnically cleansed itself? Indeed, the Geneva people don't like them, but will they be able to do without them?

Do the Geneva people also see the Arab point of view? For instance: How long can Jordan survive the Palestinian state? And will Israel's Arabs settle for a "mere" autonomy, or will they demand a de-Judaization of the state? And how long will it continue to be called "Israel"? And won't the lives of the residents of central Israel be made hell by the masses of Gazans who will pour through the "safe passage" in the Negev en route the Green Line in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem?

Four years ago, I came to the conclusion the point of no return has already been passed in the disputed territories – and this was before the Gaza Disengagement. Just for a moment stop and think about this. The Gaza Disengagement saw 9.000 Jew evicted from their homes and businesses. To date, the Israeli government has yet to fully compensation most of those people, and most are still living in temporary housings while unemployment is rife. Ask yourself, how the Israeli government will accommodate an influx of just 5 times that number – then 8 times that number, then 10times that number.

You may be shrugging and thinking – so what – the Israeli government will have a hard time absorbing these people. The thing is, the government of Israel knows it will, but more importantly, so do those living in the Judean and Samarian communities. The Israeli citizens of Yesha know exactly what fate awaits for them, and if they accede to the government’s demands and abandon their homes – Gaza is still clear, front and center in their eyes.

It may very well be that no Israeli government can negotiate a settlement which requires the eviction of Israeli citizens from their homes without risking an outright civil war. And if its civil war – is the world prepared for the possibility of the rise of a second Jewish state?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Is there a trophy I can get for the living-room?

B & S might be almost pure but I am pure.

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
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Fitna, for me and thee

I haven’t watched Fitna and doubt I will. Through the years, I have seen more than my share of “Fitna” type films. Even I have my limits to how much blood shedding and gore I can tolerate - even passively. By this time, I think I have gotten the message – fanatics and extremists will use anything to justify the shedding of blood liberally and there is nothing more horrendous than an alleged holy war. War can be many things but rarely is it holy. For those of you who haven’t had your fill – by all means go and watch. Don’t misunderstand me, the film should be shown, and it should be discussed and understood.

But what concerns me more than the fanatics/whack jobs, which use a religious text to carry out their perceived mission; is how my society internalizes their message and responds. In Canada, we are relatively blessed as far as pluralistic societies go and have acted as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution from all forms of religious extremism. And I am more than okay with that. What I am not so okay with; is those who will watch these films and think that the family down the street, who roll out their prayer mats five times a day have suddenly become a clear, present and growing danger to their families lives. It is just not so. More often than, many of those same pray matt rolling families have ended up at our shores fleeing from those same religious whack jobs. It behooves us all not to forget that as they are one of our allies in this struggle.

The war we are engaged in with Muslim religious whack jobs is not Islam against modern western society but the assertion of modern classical liberal values against stone age tribal barbarism. The jihadi's would like nothing better than for us to frame our response to in terms of ‘Crusader/Jew’ versus ‘Muslim’ as the 7th century is always a kind of glory day for them, but when we do that, we let our enemy control the higher ground by setting the terms of the struggle.

If a Muslim cab driving father kills his rebellious daughter in the West, our first response should not be to call for a boycott of all Muslim cab drivers, but an expression and assertion for the rights of all women not to be treated or disposed of as private chattel. When the mullah’s beat and hang a man for being a homosexual we should stand up and shout loud and clear for the rights of gays not to be tortured and killed by religious whack jobs. This is how we win - by asserting and promoting classic liberal values here at home and aboard.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Time keeps slipping away from me

and I have far too much to do. So if I haven’t responded to your email yet – know I will, as soon as I find the time. And one more thing – raising teenagers without a father just so sucks beyond fracking belief.