Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let me introduce you to my new best friend

The Moscow Times informs us that the Bolshoi Theatre is set to give tribute to Sergei Diaghilev and it is one of the few times I wish I was in Moscow to see the performances to be staged this month in honour of Sergei Diaghilev.

One hundred years ago this month, impresario Sergei Diaghilev presided in Paris over the first of his so-called Russian Seasons, the results of which were to cause one of the most profound revolutions ever in the world of dance. Ballet companies everywhere are marking the anniversary this year with festivals and special performances, and Saturday the Bolshoi Theater pays its homage to Diaghilev and the Russian Seasons with a gala program of four Diaghilev-commissioned ballets, performed both by its own dancers and by guest companies from Paris and Perm.

The Russian Seasons were originally designed to bring Russian culture to the attention of the outside world. And that they did. But Diaghilev's principal achievement lay elsewhere. As ballet developed through the 19th century, it was dominated by choreography, with music and stage design mostly playing a subsidiary role. Diaghilev believed in giving equal prominence to all three art forms, engaging such formidable talent as that of Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss and Francis Poulenc to compose ballet scores and of Lev Bakst, Nataliya Goncharova, Henri Matisse and Georges Braque to design sets and costumes. For choreography, he turned above all to three young natives of Russia, Mikhail Fokin, Leonid Massine and George Balanchine, who eventually came to be ranked among the greatest innovators of 20th-century ballet. And to execute the results he engaged an outstanding company of dancers, one that included such now-legendary figures as Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Vatslav Nijinsky.

Diaghilev could be rightly characterized as one of classical ballet’s best friends. Now there comes a time when dancers are no longer dancers, and as they age there comes a particular affliction which no one warns you about and it strikes long after the pointe shoes are hung up in the back of the closet. It’s called arthritis and it is the result of pounding away for hours after hours, year after year, in pointe shoes. It makes one’s knees and ankles sheer burning swelling misery. I have tried all kinds of prescription drugs, and unfortunately for me, all those little annoying side effects which one is duly warned about by a responsible physician - come out to strike in full force in me. So I gave up the prescription drugs and decided I would spend the rest of my life chanting the dancer’s mantra – it is only pain.

Along the way, I discovered, there was one over the counter drug, which doesn’t bring on the vomiting, the migraines, the profusely bleeding nose and does not turn my stomach into a bbq pit. Let me introduce to my new best friend – 400 mg of Ibufren – absolute liquid gold. Two of these beauties and I can at least walk for a few hours.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I am going to have to start a 'cool chassids' file

In general, I find it fascinating to listen or read other people’s spiritual journeys. Probably because I am such a work in progress myself and I instinctively perk up when I catch the familiar chords of journey echo in another’s voice.

In the old days, Bob Marley sang, “Stolen from Africa, brought to America, Buffalo Soldier”, and it is too bad Bob’s not alive to sing what could be the next line “Hip Hop Gangstar to Frum Yiddishkeit". Okay, I am no Bob, and he would have a far more lyrical way of essentially saying the same thing.

So what could be more fascinating than a Spanish Town yardie to hip hope gangstar to Frum Jew? To me it makes perfect sense and I get it, though others might not. Besides, the mix seems just seems - one my favourite places and people seasoned with my love of Torah. Okay, I am not really a fan of Spanish Town and am more of a Negril, Orange Hill kind of woman, but my house in Jamaica is located not too far away from Spanish Town as far as these things go.

From Yoseph Robinson’s home page:
Raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica by his Grandma Pearl, Yoseph Robinson, like most of the island kids, thought of the United States as of kind of utopia. It was a fantasy come true when he and his two sisters were finally able to join his parents in Midwood [Flatbush?], Brooklyn in 1989. At the age of 12, he exchanged his slower-paced life of mango-picking, fresh water fishing, and swimming for an Americanized one filled with stylized clothes, girls, and worries about being cool enough.

Constant disobedience in school and a strained relationship with his parents during his teenage years led Yoseph to drop out of high school was he was just 16. Influenced by a group of older kids and in need of money, Yoseph entered the world of drug deals, street crime, and violence. His reckless lifestyle took him to the Bronx, Philly, and finally LA, where he invested in a lucrative hip hop label. But by the time he was 23 years old, Yoseph knew he had to leave the affluent Hollywood scene behind in order to physically and mentally survive. He turned to Judaism as a means to surrender control, accept humility, and educate.

He is also in the process of writing a book on his experiences and journey.

Did I mention he blogs too! Frum from Rebirth

So this is how the lies and smears start

If you live in Israel and you publicly mourn the loss of your land or your home, or the loss of anyone else’s land or home, on National Israel Happy Day, you get to go to jail for three years.

Well, except Stageleft’s alleged statement of fact is nothing more than twofer - a lie and smear. Like most effective smears it is not completely without a grain of truth, but unlike what he leads one to believe, it is a long, long legislative way from either law or fact. What I find noteworthy is how a mere germ of some piece of the complex Israeli body politic is taken and turned and twisted to fit any agenda.

In fact, public ‘Nakba’ ceremonies just occurred less than a month ago and no Israeli citizen was arrested for ‘publicly mourning’ or participating in public Nakba ceremonies – unless your idea of publicly mourning is causing or participating in a riot, stoning, or stabbings. Let alone be sent to jail for three years for ‘mourning the loss of your land’ etc.

What Stageleft omits is that it is a long way from a proposed bill to legislative fact to ‘criminal’ charges and I am highly doubtful Israel Beiteinu has necessary mandates to win a vote let alone the support of the Knesset.

The proposed loyalty oaths legislation will probably not get the endorsement of the Charedi parties and probably Shas as well. Not to mention support from Labor, Kadima and Meretz will vote against the bill. I suspect the Likud will be divided on the bill. The loyalty oath cuts two ways and targets two distinct groups. Israeli-Arabs and the Charedim and many in the Charedi community are highly anti-Zionist as well as anti-Israel. Furthermore, many are outraged in Israeli by the idea of the government dictating what can be mourned or celebrated. For just one such voice let’s quote SnoopytheGoon.
For Hebrew - challenged: Yisrael Beiteinu means "Israel our home". Or, in other words, a name for a party that is quickly becoming a fucking gang of brownshirts that will take our country to fascist hell if we don't stop them in time.

When a well-meaning minister invents a law that will prevent demonstrations against public officials near their houses, it smells bad. It irritates. It reminds you of places and times you would rather forget.

When a malicious little paskudnyak that plays a big patriot invents a law that will prohibit Israeli Arabs to mark the Nakba (no matter how malicious and stupid that Nakba day is), it starts stinking. You have to sit up, smell the air and ask yourself what the hell is going on around you?

When that same gang of brownshirts invents a law that requires Israeli citizens to pledge an oath of allegiance, you may think a first that OK, quite a few countries have their folks doing the same as a precondition to getting that red or blue or green passport. But then you notice that "I pledge to be loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state...". And it starts stinking to high heaven. And you don't see red anymore - just brown.
But in Israel there is something called the democratic process and every half-baked badly thought out outrageous proposed piece of legislation can be proposed and then everyone will get they say. After that a vote comes. Stageleft offers no analysis or reason why these bills would pass – of course, he does present it as a fact accomplished. So who knows, he probably blames what he perceives as the innate fascism and racism of the Israeli body politic.

Speaking of racist pieces of legislation there is this from Ma’an News Agency:
Hebron – Ma’an – A special Palestinian Authority (PA) military court in Hebron in the sentenced a Palestinian man to death by hanging after he was found guilty of selling land to Israeli settlers on Tuesday.

(…)The military court held a hearing session on 21 April, on the charge of “leaking lands to Israel.” The PA announced just over a week ago that it is investigating Palestinians who sell land to settlers.

PA courts have convicted Palestinians for collaborating with Israel in the past, usually for providing information about resistance fighters to the Israeli intelligence services. These convictions are based on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Revolutionary Code.
While Stageleft is quick to condemn every half-baked outrageous piece of legislation the Israeli body politic comes up with he is notorious blog-silent on what Israel’s neighbors and peace partners are up to in actual fact. But don't take my word on it. Go search Stageleft for yourself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why Chabad remains the coolest Chassids

In times of economic hardship charitable organizations are looking for new ways to raise funds. So what does Chabad do to meet this challenge? They embrace and harness internet technology to make it work for all their good deeds. Enter the Chabad Search Engine.

h/t Shearim

Bambi does not live in my world - the update

Photo -Sean Kilpatrick,The Canadian Press

I use to work with a woman whose family comes from Northern Ontario. Every fall her family would go hunting and whatever was shot became their food for the winter. Long after she left home, her father and brother still went hunting to supply their family with meat. And no, they weren’t Aboriginal Canadians, just plain Canadians living in the north.

This summer when I was out in West I ate elk and buffalo. My youngest son rather likes slow roasted buffalo or buffalo burgers. I, myself am rather partial to elk. It’s a very versatile delicate flavoured meat. I have worn furs for years and have high hopes for a new fur coat soon.

I suppose this makes me a blood thirsty Neanderthal, and yes, I probably would have eaten the heart to if it was offered or gladly taken seal pelts if they were offered to make a coat out of them. I blame Disney for a great deal of this ridiculous squeamishness which surrounds the eating of animals and the wearing of their fur. I wrote this some time ago and I think it still applies with just another caveat – I have found yet another reason to be grateful my family left old Europe.Bambi does not live in my world.

Let me get my bona fides out - front and centre. I once had a seal coat. It was the best coat I ever owned. I bought it second-hand at a church rummage sale in Holtville, New Brunswick for $2 in 1981. It was 35 years old when I bought it and it lasted another 5 years before the pelts eventually dried up so badly that the coat was splitting beyond repair. The only downside to owning a seal coat is that seal coats are heavy but unlike the high end rodent furs such as minks seal coats do not have to be babied. Seal coats can be worn in the freezing rain and you will stay warm and dry without damaging the fur. Furthermore, seal coats do not shed like the dog furs of coyote or wolf do.

I tried to replace my seal coat with another seal but by that time the anti-seal/fur fanatics had so ruined the market that even the wholesale furriers on Spadina Avenue were no longer purchasing any furs but farm fur coats. Hence, I had to settle for mink instead. Say what you will and I have worn all the alternatives to furs coats; down-filled, wool, the new synthetics like polar fleece, but nothing, and I do mean nothing, suits the Canadian climate as well as fur. Nothing will keep you warm like a fur coat in -30C or colder than a fur. It also does not require over a 100 plus years for a fur coat to biodegrade back into the environment unlike a coat made with a synthetic shell.

My grandfather was a fur trapper. He raised five children by trapping and working as a wood’s guide. He trapped my grandmother a bear coat that saw her through more winters than I have lived. After my grandmother died, my mother and my Aunties took my Grandmother’s bear coat and had it made into 5 teddy bears. In that way my grandfather’s labour of love was shared equally between his daughters.

I have a grey tabby cat named Rogue and I really like this cat, but he owes his existence in my home and my life because of his mousing abilities. If he had no mousing ability I would not live with a cat. The downside of living in a 19th century townhouse is that the rodents have too many ways in and places to nest. When the pest control specialist advises that the only way to keep the rodent population under control is to either demolition the building and start again or get a cat; one gets a cat.

I had a Shetland Sheepdog named Mistress. Not only did Mistress protect me and guard my property, she also herded the children when we were out. No child could step more than a few feet away before Missie herded the child back to me with either a nip at the pant bottoms or a pull on the pampers. Furthermore, Missie did not like fighting. Fight in front of Mistress and she would drag you down and bark in your face.

I have eaten beef, deer and moose on occasion. I have killed and plucked chickens. I have caught and gutted fish. I wear leather shoes and have leather clothes. I have marveled at the majesty of a bull moose, respected the power of bear, and the feral beauty of a wolf. I have cared for all my pets and I made sure that their physical needs were met before my own. I am grateful for the bounty and variety the Lord has provided but at the same time I will not place an animal on equal par with the value of a human life. It is time that we all take a deep breath and realize that Bambi exists only in the realm of make believe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


There is something rather disturbing about the whole concept of time. When one is very young, every hour and every day is too long but when one grows older, every hour and every day is fleeting, and yet, time remains constant whether young or old. I am most definitely in the time is fleeting camp. I wish I could capture time within my hand and measure it out a little bit at a time so there could finally be enough time to do all that I am compelled to do in any given hour or day. Alas, I have no such hands or luck.

So blogging may or may not be almost existent. Although there was something which caught my eye at the Toronto Star and I just wanted to note for future reference. It is a classic case of agenda manipulation in the media.
JERUSALEM – The mayor of Jerusalem and the prime minister of Israel are both in serious denial – or they are if you ask Menachem Klein."I wonder how these people can maintain loyalty to their own statements," Klein, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, said yesterday. "For the time being, they live in denial."

Klein was referring to declarations on the status of Jerusalem issued this week by Nir Barkat, the city's recently elected mayor, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both men took advantage of the celebration Thursday of Jerusalem Day to vow that the so-called City of Peace will never again be divided, as it was between 1948 and 1967, when Israel controlled the western city, while East Jerusalem was ruled by neighbouring Jordan.

According to Klein, such statements not only diminish the prospects of Middle East peace. They also fly in the face of at least two demographic and political realities. First, Jerusalem is already divided – split between a Jewish city in the west and a predominantly Arab city in the east, a situation that four decades of Israeli occupation have not managed to reverse.

Also, Jerusalem's Arab minority, which now represents 35 per cent of the city's total population, is growing at three times the rate of the Jewish community. Klein says Arabs will form a majority in the city in 10 to 15 years.How, he asks, will Israel – which prides itself on being both a Jewish and a democratic state – continue to claim sovereignty over a national capital that soon will be peopled primarily by Arabs?

Oddly enough, Klein makes these statements despite demographic information published from his own institute. Ha’aretz carried an article on the declining Arab birthrate in Jerusalem last July.
Fertility rates in Jerusalem have been declining among Arabs and rising among Jews in recent years, according to statistics the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies issued to mark Jerusalem Day, today.

Among Arabs the rate has dropped to 4 children in 2006, from 4.3 in 2000, and among Jews it has risen to 3.9 children in 2006 from 3.7 in 2000. However, the ratio of Jews and Arabs hasn't changed - 66 percent Jews (489,480) and 34 percent Arabs (256,820) totaling 746,300 at the end of 2007.
Of course, most of us sitting in Toronto wouldn't have a clue that Klein is purposely undermining demographics published by his own institute. There is only one reason for him to do so and in three words the why is – hard left politicking. And the Toronto Star Middle East bureau eats up every word Klein spews out. Klein was one of the advisers to the ill-fated Oslo Accords but has been actively promoting the Geneva Accord as well. Go google him, as I don't have the time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Justice Blind

According to this Toronto Star article the Toronto Police mistakenly released an email suggesting a press release should be issued to the media detailing the rights of people accused of shoplifting and the limits of citizen’s arrests when a storekeeper was once again accused of beating a shoplifter.
Two of the three storekeepers accused of bundling a suspected shoplifter into a van and beating him on the weekend were involved in a similar incident in 2001, according to a Toronto police email.
On the face of it the shopkeeper’s alleged response does seem a mite extreme, although, often profit margins are often barely above costs in small stores, and if it meant the difference between feeding his family or not, I can understand the shopkeeper's response.

But isn’t this really the only logical response when the courts only hand out the merest punishments to convicted shoplifters? If justice isn’t seen to be done - why bother with the courts at all?

There is no dividing line

In recent days, there has been a great deal of push exhibited towards the idea that the Israelis can and should negotiate to divide Jerusalem again. Ynet News:
France accused Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu on Friday of prejudicing the outcome of the Middle East peace process by declaring that Jerusalem would forever be Israel's undivided capital. "The declaration made by the Israeli prime minister yesterday in Jerusalem prejudices the final status agreement," Foreign Ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux told reporters in Paris
Melanie Phillip’s column penned the best response to the French outraged over an Israeli Prime Minister declaring without hesitation or ambiguity that the eternal capital of the Jewish nation will never be divided again.
Zionism is simply the movement for the self-determination of the Jewish people. And its significance is greater than any other movement of national liberation because Judaism itself rests upon three legs — the people, the religion and the land. If one is lopped off by having its legitimacy denied, the whole thing collapses. That is why anti-Zionism is far more than an unpleasant political position. It is a direct attack on Judaism itself.

Jerusalem is the heart of Zion. It can no more be divided than the Vatican City or Mecca. The Palestinians will have to find somewhere else to plant their flag as Jerusalem is not for division.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Generous Times

The other night the Last Amazon and I were discussing poetry and music – don’t ask why - I am still not sure how it came up. I recited part of an Earle Birney poem I was forced to memorize in grade 12. Literally decades after the event and these four lines are still stuck firmly engraved in the recesses of my mind. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that I was publicly chastised in the classroom for suggesting the Birney poem contained ‘homoerotic imagery’. Frankly, it seem rather self-evident to me and when I tried to justify my reasoning, I was tutted and hissed all the way to the principal’s office. What can I say – it was seventies. I can’t remember the name of the poem but it went like this -
There are better ways to catch a god,
who is feeling gay and girly,
then tickling with a fishing rod,
among the short and curly

The Last Amazon agreed there was a strong element of homoerotic, but then again, she shares not just my DNA but my poetry dyslexia. Anyway, as smart and savvy as the Last Amazon is, there are still things she shares in common with most of her peers – this blind belief that her generation just invented not only sex but sensuality, bawdiness and vulgarity. Some would suggest it is the arrogance of youth but I prefer to think of it as the wonder of first discovery.

Anyway, this lead to a whole discussion of the bawdiness in songs and I mentioned the Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel. She didn’t believe me when I recited how it started, so tonight’s song for her. Read ‘em as Cohen sings along and pay up the $10 we bet Kikibird, and take this as your life mantranever bet against your mother.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.
Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.

A new aggravator in the Canadian 'sphere

It’s no secret when Neale News went offline Canada’s bloggers lost one their best online resources. Bourque is okay, but its layout is poor which makes it touch harder on the eyes. There were high hopes for the National News Desk but it’s been a half-empty/full kind of thing. Nowhere else would anyone find a collection of some of the most stunningly ignorant opinion pieces via local Halifax newspapers - which also explains why the Maritimes votes predominantly liberal.

So its nice to report there is a new online source for a news aggravator - Canada News Desk. It’s nicely laid out and gives you a two or three line taste beyond the headline and it accepts comments too! So far it seems balanced and as an extra bonus - there is no weirdness with daff opinion pieces from Halifax or pimping the liberal blog most likely to launch a defamation suit against you.

there ought to be a law...not

There really should be a law requiring all of us to insult the dignity of a public official on a regular basis. Anyway, lucky for a protestor against the ill-fated Gaza Disengagement has been acquitted for insulting the ‘dignity of a public official’. Ynet News:
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court has decided to acquit a settler who gave police officers the Nazi salute while chanting "Heil Sharon" during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday. The accused, Hebron resident Oren Zar, was charged with giving the Nazi salute to two police officers. He was brought to court on charges of insulting a public official.
I maybe wrong, but I believe the Sharon government dusted this law off from the Brits when they ruled the Palestine Mandate. Time to scrap it off the books entirely.

Everyone is feeding the fires now

We were treated to Hillary Clinton musing on the dangers of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East which could be sparked by Iran's quest for nuclear energy. Yesterday, Obama gives the heads up to share and set up the United Arab Emirate with nuclear technology. Jerusalem Post:
President Barack Obama agreed Wednesday to share US nuclear power technology with the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, giving his consent to a deal signed in the final days of George W. Bush's administration. The pact now goes to Congress, which will have 90 days to amend or reject it. The agreement creates a legal framework for the US to transfer sensitive nuclear items to the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Middle Eastern states that wants nuclear power to satisfy growing demand for electricity.

Funny how that 'hope and change' mantra looks so much like so the old Bushisms.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Larry's Law

I feel sorry for columnist Larry Derfner at the Jerusalem Post. He must be the most unlucky of columnists of all time. He submits a column days before its published ranting about this or that, and what happens? Either the day of publication or shortly before whatever he was ranting about as so much fear/war (insert whatever)mongering and it something comes to pass to justify exactly as he said he shouldn’t worry about. Take today’s column and the non-threat of the Iranians, and what do the Iranians do? Launch a successful wide range ballistic missile. I mean, what are the fracking odds the Iranians would successfully launch a missile shortly after Larry submits a column.
The Arrow missile defense system successfully tracked the Iranian long-range missile that was test-fired on Wednesday, just days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with US President Barack Obama to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat.

Iran said the solid-fuel Sajjil-2 surface-to-surface missile - also called the Ashura - had a range of about 2,000 kilometers. It is a new version of the Sajjil missile, which the country said it successfully tested late last year, and has a similar range.

"The firing of the missile should serve as an alarm to Europe and the United States," said one defense official. "This long-range missile is proof that the Iranians are not just a threat to Israel, but to the entire Western world."
Kismet, I tell you. So I an instituting Larry’s Law in honour of Derfner’s many gaffs and idiocies which works like this – whatever position Larry takes on any given issue – no matter how farfetched - one should immediately take the opposite view of Larry’s.

Sound the all clear

Yes, I am sure we all sleep better for these French pronouncements from the French contingent of UNIFIL. Ynet News:
It is highly unlikely that Lebanese Hezbollah militants have more weapons now in southern Lebanon than they did at the time of their 2006 war with Israel, the head of UN peacekeeping said on Wednesday. "I think it would be very difficult for Hezbollah to put additional weapons in the area," Alain Le Roy, the French head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping, told reporters. (Reuters)

Isn’t amazing how soundly one can sleep if one does not patrol at night?

Papal Bull

Some stories just have me laughing my head off. This story at Ha’aretz illustrates exactly what I mean.
Roman Catholic Church officials say they would like an explanation from Israel for the poor turnout at Pope Benedict XVI's open-air mass in Jerusalem last week. Monsignor Antonio Franco, the papal nuncio in the Holy Land, said Thursday that church officials are still trying to figure out what happened. He says he's received reports that worshippers with tickets were turned away at the entrance while others received their tickets too late.
Apparently only 3,000 showed up rather than the expected 5,000. So you could blame either the Israeli police, the Elders and the International Jewish Conspiracy or you could just state the obvious…that Jerusalem is primarily a Jewish city and Jews just don’t do mass…

don't feed the fire

I haven’t referenced or quoted Hillary Clinton since the democratic primaries race but Ynet News quoted her most recent pearls of wisdom re; the fallout of the Iranian nuclear ambitions. Ynet News
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says a nuclear-armed Iran is "going to spark an arms race" in the Middle East. Without commenting directly on reports that Tehran has conducted a nuclear missile launch, Clinton did refer Wednesday to a host of threats to the United States that she said are "daunting."

But of course Hillary. Although I dare say it would help if the United States amended its foreign policy and not sell nuclear technology to such bastions of liberal democracy like Saudi Arabia but the ball and the nuclear arms race is strictly in your court.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It couldn't happen to a more deserving guy

I have only caught Glenn Beck a few times when he was on CNN. I wasn’t terribly impressed then, and even less so when I heard Fox News picked up his show. I did catch his public meltdown after minor surgery and in my mind his name has been synonymous with the term ‘wingnut’ ever since. The world needs more principled conservatives - not raving loony demagogues.

I can’t stand his voice or the sneering condescension to which he approaches every viewpoint that differs from his own narrative. O’Reilly has nothing on him. I don’t watch The View, well, because I am employed and I often find I know far more about any given topic the ‘women’ of The View. A prime example – Lubavitchers, and for the record, Lubavitcher women are the hot ‘chassids', but having said all that, I love the public smack down Glen Beck receives at the hands of the women of The View. Good on them for doing what has long been a long time coming. As a public service, I am posting the You Tube segment of the Beck Smack Down.

h/t Little Green Footballs

What is your first clue this story didn’t happen in Canada?

The incident:
A Samara region court has sentenced a 20-year-old man to three years in prison for biting his friend's nose in a drunken argument, permanently disfiguring the victim.

Apparently, nose biting is something of a tradition in Mother Russia.
Zadornov — the nose-biter, not the comedian or the former minister — was three sheets to the wind in January 2008 when he got into an argument with his drinking buddy, identified only as "B.", regional prosecutors said in a statement this week.

In his fit of rage, Zadornov grabbed his acquaintance by the shoulders to keep him from resisting and chomped on his nose, investigators said. So violent was the bite that the cartilage in the victim's nose was damaged, leaving his face permanently disfigured, doctors said. Zadornov was subsequently charged with aggravated assault, and while he admitted biting the man's nose, he challenged the aggravating circumstances in court.

Unlike our current criminal court justices in Canada, this Russian judge didn’t buy it and not only found Zadornov guilty, but gifted him with a three year stint in the hoosecow.

Just another Wednesday, much like the last Wednesday

Once again, Palestinian ‘unity’ talks in Egypt ended without an agreement. I suppose to mark another round of fruitless discussions Hamas sent kassams flying into Sderot.

Speaking of another round of fruitless discussions, Ynet News is reporting Palestinian claims that the new revised peace plan includes East Jerusalem.
US President Barack Obama's new peace plan for the Middle East continues to unravel, ahead of it official presentation in Cairo, on June 4. Official Palestinian Authority sources told Ynet Wednesday that following Jordan's King Abdullah's visit to Washington, as well as other visits to the US capital, they were given the impression that any new American peace plan would call for establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

And never fret over the fate of ancient Jewish Quarter of East Jerusalem as Obama apparently has a plan for that too.

The revised plan is also said to call for east Jerusalem to be made the new state's capital – with the Palestinian Authority's flag waving over it official institutions and the UN banner waving over the Old City and places sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Yeah, like really, the UN will protect Jews and sites sacred to Judaism. Speaking of the UN and Israel, apparently the UN probe of alleged war crimes will go ahead without Israeli cooperation. Why the UN bothers wasting time ‘investigating’ when we all know how the report will end – in the condemnation of Israel just like a million and one other UN reports.

Palestinian farmers claim to have been attacked by Jewish settlers, meanwhile Israeli vehicles outside of Nablus and Hebron were stoned yesterday.

But the good news is that Russia has decided to halt sales of fighter jets to the Syrians.

Much ado about nothing article - leads at the Toronto Star

Biggest non-story of the day has to be this Toronto Star report suggesting ‘Canada eyes arms sales to Pakistan’ and leads opens with dramatic opening:

ISLAMABAD–Canada is considering ending its 11-year embargo on the sale of military technology to a nuclear-armed Pakistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says. The development comes as Pakistan's army prepares to take its fight against Taliban militants into the tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
However, this is what Peter MacKay actually said - as quoted in the Toronto Star – no less!
In a telephone interview from Islamabad, MacKay, who this week called Pakistan the "most dangerous country in the world," said he's impressed with Pakistan's resolve in taking on the Taliban. "Doing military business in the future, and trade in particular, is something that is under consideration," MacKay said after meeting with Pakistani President Asif Zardari. However, he added, "We're not there yet."

Let me paraphrase - at some unknown potential day in the future - Canada might consider do military business with Pakistan. Is it any wonder the newspaper business is dying?

Obama vs Bibi

I woke up dead-tired - again. I really don’t get what it is about these long weekends but they do wear me out something fierce - much more than the regular variety. Then there really wasn’t much news which interested me enough to blog yesterday – hence the blankness - and I make no promises about today.

Most of the newspapers this weekend were running opinion pieces on the Israeli Prime Minister’s first trip to the Obama White House. The anti-Israeli fractions were gleefully predicting person non grata status for Bibi Netanyahu and/or he would finally get his comeuppance as Obama would hand Bibi his butt. The pro-Israel sides all seemed worried over Bibi and fretted endlessly that Bibi would cave into American delusions rather than stand strong and resolute.

From the sounds of it, an hour meeting went on long after its Best Before Date expired which leads me to believe, and judging from Bibi’s statements to the press afterwards - it went better than anyone could possibly hope for it -Bibi held his ground and Obama got nothing but gets does get to keep his own parts workable.

Anyway, I read this NY Times piece on the meeting and this sentence really seem best suited to summing up the process for me.
In a sense, Monday’s meeting in the Oval Office was as much about the two leaders’ efforts to develop a relationship as it was about the substance of the issues between the nations. Mr. Miller, the former Middle East negotiator, characterized the session as “President ‘Yes We Can’ sitting down with Prime Minister ‘No You Won’t.’ ”

Believe it or not, I figure Bibi more or less has prevailed as there is nothing Obama has done in his 100 plus days which doesn’t scream foreign policy pussy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The World's Strictest Parents - dateline Israel

I said it before and I will say it again. The world needs more Israel – specifically more national religious Israelis. While I am not a fan of reality television I wouldn’t mind watching this show. The Jerusalem Post on the World’s Strictest Parents:

Two non-Jewish teenage school dropouts quit their rebellious lives in Britain for a week-long obedience lesson with a firm religious-Zionist family for the BBC reality TV show World's Strictest Parents.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma Lyons and 17-year-old Jack Travers, both from Hampshire in the UK, went to live with David and Tzippi Sha-ked and their five children last week in Nof Ayalon, a community near Modi'in. The teens, who admit to smoking and drinking alcohol, come from troubled homes - Gemma living with her mother and 14-year-old sister and Jack with his mother, stepfather and four siblings. The first thing these two non-Jewish teens had to contend with was the ‘family’ dress code.

The week wasn't easy for either of the youngsters, Gemma and Jack told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Both were quickly escorted to a mall to buy "appropriate" clothes for their new lifestyle. Jack, who describes himself as a "goth," on meeting his new family, appeared in his full-black garb, complete with heavy eye-liner, nail varnish and long unruly hair. "It was a very strict dress code," said Jack. "[When I] turned up on the first day with it on, they didn't make a big thing out of it but said 'we don't dress this way' and 'we want to change how you dress'."

Gemma, who explained that she is more accustomed to "prancing around" in her bikini in hot climates, found the dress code challenging, but the change had a profound effect on her. "When they explained the reason behind it, I understood it more and wanted to give it a go," she said. "When I go back to England, I'm going to dress a lot more modestly. "I've learned so much … I think you need to respect yourself and if you cover up, you are respecting yourself, and when you get into a relationship, it's something special between yourself and the boy."

And the trip - highlight:

Gemma and Jack both listed the Western Wall as the highlight of their trip, even though Jack describes himself as an atheist. "I'm not religious, but it was amazing," enthused Jack. "I'm really interested in the Wall," said Gemma, who identifies as a Christian. "You can study it as much as you want, but when you go there, it's totally different." Gemma said she was "so excited" when the show's destination was revealed to her, but Jack recalled that he, on the other hand, "was dreading it." "If there's one thing I hate, it's when people try and [force] religion on you." However, Jack soon felt like part of the Sha-ked family and at the end of filming, found it hard to say good-bye.

Although the teens were staying with the Sha-keds, the whole community shared in the experience, said neighbor Chani Hadad. "They thought they were choosing a family, but in fact they chose a whole community. The kids repeatedly expressed their amazement at how close this community is. "Everyone got so close, there were so many tears," Hadad said. "[From their perspective], they landed on a different planet, but they embraced the community and will take away a great deal of self-esteem because they both came with issues. They were both judging themselves on the lowest common denominator out there."

The teen resolution:

Both participants resolved that they are going to return to school and that they will apply some of the lessons learned to their family life at home.

On discipline:

"On the first day I got into an argument about the rules and people were so calm about everything; no one shouted, everyone was polite and no one got aggressive at all," Jack said. "It makes the whole way of life much nicer. If there is one thing [I'll take away] it'll be that, because in my [family] home, there are loads of arguments," Jack said, adding he has a "bad relationship" with his mother.
The Sha-ked family's attitude to discipline also resonated with Gemma. "When I go home, if I have a problem, I'm going to approach it in a mature manner … One day if I have kids, this is how I'm going to go about it."

The host parents:
Tzippi Sha-ked told the Post that she was overcome by "the resolution." It did not go smoothly at all," said Sha-ked. "We were quite anxious, but we decided we would put our best foot forward and be completely accepting. "The thing that was most amazing was seeing two non-Jews who knew nothing about Judaism other than negative stuff from the BBC and they got a newfound appreciation; it's a pity that secular Israel doesn't see what they saw."
The more I think about this idea, the more I like. A few surrogate national religious families play parent-hosts with Palestinian teens might go a long way in opening up a change in dialogue, but then again, the Palestinian teens would have to be young enough to be trusted not to murder the Jewish parents while they are sleeping. Perhaps, it would better just to place teens of ‘progressive’ North American and European families for now.

h/t: The Muqata

Best before date for breast implants.

Years ago, I had to take some kind of liberal arts elective. I settled on an introduction to inter-personal psychology and because there was only no major research paper but a series of in-class exercises and only two exams - a mid-term and a final. It turned out to be the biggest single mistake of my post-secondary education. I was at least 12 years older than everyone in the class but the professor. I found myself much like an alien who transported in an unexplored touchy-feelie universe.

One of the first class exercises the professor gave was to hand out a sheet of paper to every class member (yes, I it was a long time ago and I realize this dates me.) We were given 15 minutes to write out everything we hated about ourselves. I drew a complete blank. As I scanned the room everyone’s head was down and scribbling furiously but mine. Some even requested more paper.

By the time 15 minutes were up, I still had nothing to show for my time. I spent the next hour listening to a long boring litany of complaints from my classmates listing how they hated their noses, faces, eyes, thighs, weight or lack of – yadda, yadda. Then it was my turn to join in the fest of mutual self-loathing and I simply stated there was nothing I hated about myself. Of course the professor challenged me and demanding there had to be something I hated about myself – like the fact I was short.

I simply stated no. It had been a distinct advantage in my former career and I had a husband who was very tall so it worked out quite well for us as he could reach where I couldn’t and I moved with ease where he strained. This turned out to be a rather long bitter exchange between the professor and myself and the course simply went downhill from there for me, but my point was, there comes a time when one should realize that spending time focusing one any alleged physical short-comings is as futile as nailing jello to a wall. So what has this got to do with Quebec women getting short-changed on their breast implants? Well, who knew breast implants have a limited shelf-life? Toronto Star

Saline implants have about a 10-year shelf life before they must be replaced, he said, adding gel implants are believed to last up to 25 years though it's impossible to say for sure as they've only existed for 17 years. Saline implants, he added, are also more prone to ripple at the sides or become hard.

Who knew? Certainly not me, but then, I have never had the desire to spend overt amounts of time and/or energy to supplement or enhance significantly what my genetic code has wrought. It seems to me we spend far too much time and energy focusing on any alleged deficiencies in our physical appearance rather than doing the necessary soul searching which leads us to believe we are less than what we were created to be – an entire universe within ourselves waiting only to be discovered.

The limits of self-interest

There is a kind of innate dishonesty in ‘little’ things, which when I run across it, I have a hard time understanding as it flies in the face of basic self-interest. This Toronto Star article is a prime example. Ten employees have lost their rather lucrative jobs by swiping their personal airmiles card on customer purchases at the LCBO.
Ten LCBO employees – accused of doing just that – were fired in the last year for using their own Air Miles cards to skim the miles from customer purchases, according to an internal audit dated October 2008 and released yesterday.

It's not that hard. Cashiers can fraudulently intercept reward miles by simply swiping their own card if the customer does not present a card at the time of purchase. "Common sense would suggest that, during times of recession, illegal activity of a general nature tends to increase," Bill Kennedy, a spokesperson for the LCBO, told the Star last night. "The purpose of the audit is to be proactive and to ensure management is vigilant."

The 10 cases identified in 2008–09 are a sharp rise from a single instance detected the previous year and six cases the year before that. Kennedy said there was no cost to the LCBO as a result of the fraudulent activity, which, he added, is committed by a tiny fraction of the LCBO's 7,000 employees. The 10 employees were nabbed thanks to an agreement with LoyaltyOne Inc., the company that runs the Air Miles program, to allow LCBO auditors access to employees' private card information if fraud is suspected.

They could have earned more legally than they stole without risk to their livelihoods, future careers or their character. Go figure because I can’t.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Imitation is the sincerest form of flatter

Yadda, yadda, and all of that but how are they ever going to come up with the Saudi version of Paula Abul? Ha'aretz:

"I accept Allah as my God, His religion as my religion, and His Messenger as my Messenger," he intones, as the audience, divided into men's and women's sections, claps along with the rhythm.

The singer is a contestant on a new Islamic version of American Idol, launched to find and promote talent for the Arab world's first Islamic pop music video channel.
At long last I will something in common with every other middle aged parent in the Arab middle east - loathing every time the show comes on the television.

About those rocks

Ever wonder why Palestinians throw rocks? You Tube provides a possible answer.

This is my lame attempt at making light of the peaceful intentions of Israel's 'neighbors - the 'Palastians'. Those little 8 year olds with their stones and throwing arms poised for the Pallywood photo-op grow-up to take stoning to its next level.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Victoria Day weekend - hallelujah

I turned the moderation on early as I intend to be tied up early for the first long weekend of warmer season here in the north. Friday’s song is simply Hallelujah – in concert. What more is there left to say?

Symbolic Marriage

I read this story at Ha’aretz and it broke me up wondering if ‘symbolic’ marriages will be the new ‘in’ thing? It reminds me of the whole ‘temporary marriages’ the Iranians use to have sex with prostitutes.
Music superstar Madonna may be tying the knot in a Kabbalah ceremony, the father of the intended groom told Brazilian magazine Quem recently, New York City's Daily News reported Thursday.

"The kabbalah ceremony that will link up my son Jesus Luz and Madonna only confirms that he is extremely happy," Luis Heitor Pinto da Luz told Quem.

The father of the 22-year-old model added that he did not think that the ceremony would be legally binding. It would only be a symbolic ceremony signifying the union, he said.

I have a confession to make. I haven’t read the Book of Splendor so I am not up on all the ins and outs of Kabbalah. Every now and then I see it on sale at the bookstore for $4.99, and although I am tempted to buy it, I always put it down. Tradition dictates a study of Kabbalah is only for one who has mastery over both the written and oral torah and has reached at least 40 years of age – otherwise great confusion will result. Seems like a sound rabbinical ruling to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Remember the Zionist Oranges in Iran?

Here is the Jerusalem Post recap of the story of the Zionist Orange saga:
Here's a juicy story: Panic erupted over the weekend in Teheran after Iranian authorities were horrified to discover that citrus fruit being snatched up by buyers across the capital were marked as Israeli-grown Jaffa sweeties.

It was later discovered, however, that the "sweeties" were likely Chinese fruit fraudulently marketed as the prestigious Israeli product. Two Iranian press agencies reported Sunday that citrus with stickers bearing the words "Jaffa sweetie Israel PO" had appeared in Teheran, but that the suspicious fruit had been packed in boxes that clearly said "Product of China."

Nevertheless, Teheran immediately responded to the "Zionist" infiltration. According to Iran-based Press TV, Hossen Safaie, the head of the Fruit and Vegetable Distribution Center of Teheran, expressed his hope that the lawbreakers would be brought to justice and that "his organization will not allow those who want to make a profit ignore the Iranian citizens' religious and revolutionary learning."

Well the story does not end there, and I gotta love those anti-Zionists twists which have vaulted the Iranian-mind think into a league of their own. Courtesy of the Elder of Ziyon (and why aren’t all of you reading him daily?) Iran’s Press TV:

Iran has arrested individuals behind a scheme to 'smear the government' through importing alleged Israeli oranges into the country. "We are absolutely certain that the oranges were not imported from Israel and that the stickers were fabricated," Iran's Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

"It is obvious that the move was aimed to smear the government and overshadow its anti-racism activities," he explained. "[In addition to those detained,] some people have been summoned or invited for further study of the case, the result of which will be announced accordingly," the minister went on to say.

The oranges which were allegedly imported from Israel sparked controversy in Iran, as Tehran bans any sort of dealings with Tel Aviv. The oranges had stickers with a sign that read Jaffa Sweetie Israel PO. However, they were distributed in boxes bearing 'made in China' imprints.

Say a prayer for the poor sods who will have to take the bounce on this.

Incitement is now in the eyes of the beholder

I actually wrote this piece last night for posting first thing this morning but then I opened my email and got seriously annoyed – and then pressed for time. Since I wrote this, the premier of Ontario has now called the federal government to act to stop the bloodshed. Like serious Dude, what do you suggest - deploying Canadian troops? Too bad he didn't think to send the troops to visit the Chinese or Japan consulants.

Last night there has been an ‘incitement’ incident and The Toronto Star carries this report:
As many as 5,000 demonstrators reacted angrily this afternoon as a small airplane circled Queen's Park with a banner that proclaimed: "Protect Canada Stop Tamil Tigers."

The message incensed the crowd and the protesters started chanting more loudly.
Members of the Tamil community began forming a human chain in the shape of a semi-circle around the edge of the front lawn of Queen's Park at around noon today as part of a series of roving protests designed to draw attention to the situation in Sri Lanka, which the United Nations has referred to as a "bloodbath."

"It's not a smart thing to do," said Staff Inspector Don Campbell of the circling aircraft."All it's doing is fueling the crowd, its inciting them." Campbell said efforts are being made to contact the pilot.

The Tamil community continues to suggest they are protesting in order to pressure the Canadian government to stop the ‘genocide’ and killing of civilian non-combatants in the Tamil Tiger controlled area of Sri Lanka. Short of demanding Canadian troops be sent in to battle both sides I am at a loss to understand what the government could do.

I don’t have a dog in this fight but I am increasingly puzzled as to what the Tamil protestors expect the Canadian government to accomplish when logic dictates it would be far more productive to be ringing the embassies, trade missions and consulates of the Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Japanese governments with protests since it these governments who do have considerable influence with the Sri Lankan government. But by all means, continue your protests at Queen’s Park.

Photo Pawel Dwulit/Toronto Star
Great pains in the media have been consistently suggesting the Canadian Tamil protests are not to save the Tamil Tiger terrorist organization from certain and final defeat by the Sri Lankan government forces, but then why is a banner flown above the crowd “Protect Canada Stop Tamil Tigers’ considered ‘incitement’?

While most reports are quick to point out the UN has called the current war a ‘bloodbath’ and while I won’t for a minute suggest this civil war (or any war) isn’t one of the ugliest a human can devise or imagine; what surprises me is why I do not hear the Tamil community demanding the Tamil Tigers lay down their arms and surrender – if for no other reason than to spare non-combatant lies.

If anything, what I do see is the flag of the Tamil Tigers, and the face of Tamil Tiger leader prominently displayed. I read accounts from the organizers of the Tamil protests that they want the Canadian government to pressure the Sri Lankan government into accepting a ceasefire with a terrorist organization.

At this point, I am again going to quote the War Nerd (and before anyone groans, he was a big Tamil Tiger fan – so there)
We also don't get nice, crisp starts and endings to wars any more. That seems to bother a lot of people, because a lot of readers wrote me asking why the peace treaty in Sri Lanka between the Government and the Tamil Tigers broke down. That's like asking why a Yugo breaks down. It breaks down because that's what Yugos DO.

Like I said in my earlier column on the LTTE, these treaties between governments and guerrilla armies are just a time-out, not the end of the game. Usually, neither side expects them to last, or even wants them to. In fact, the only suckers gullible enough to think they're really solving the problem are the do-gooder Jimmy Carters and Scandinavian diplomats who broker the treaties.

In Sri Lanka, it was the Norwegians who dragged the Tamil guerrillas and Sinhalese government to the table and got them to sign on the olive-branch line. I guess that's what Norwegians do now that going a-Viking ain't an option: sail the seven seas ruthlessly imposing peace treaties with a half-life shorter than some subatomic particles. I bet the Sri Lankans went screaming, fleeing for the hills, when they sighted the dreaded Norwegian banner flying from the mast of some bio-diesel powered Green Peace-frigate carrying Norwegian mediators into the harbor. "Help! Foreign invaders trying to impose peace!"

Eventually, though, feuding tribes like the Tamil and Sinhalese figure out they've got nothing to fear from signing the pieces of paper these blond busybodies shove in front of them, because the EU's guilt-ridden bureaucrats will shovel money at you if you go through the peace-making motions for the press.

Before the ink is dry on the treaty you've got Airbuses full of rice and penicillin darkening the skies. All for free, or rather for profit, because the locals never see any of it. It goes straight into the carefully-guarded warehouses of the guerrillas' wholesale operations. Every guerrilla movement that lasts past its first manifesto has some very cool heads running things behind the scenes, and the most carefully run, orderly places in the country, sometimes the ONLY spic'n'span interiors in town, are the secret storage depots where the Movement keeps all its donated food, meds and weapons.

There's another reason these treaties don't last: hate momentum. That's what I call it anyway. See, people have the wrong idea; they think "violence" starts when the insurgents set off their first bomb. It doesn't work that way. That's just when the violence first makes the press. There was ALWAYS violence in these places, lots of violence. But as long as the government is strong enough to dish it out, nobody notices. When the people getting zapped non-stop suddenly start zapping back, suddenly it's a "man bites dog" story, a big turnaround, and every TV channel in the world is on the story.

So my question becomes - what would make this ceasefire from all the other ceasefires the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers have already entered into? Frankly, I can see no evidence or any proof that a ceasefire will accomplish anything other than allowing the Tamil Tigers to survive as an organization with sufficient breathing room to recoup their losses until the fight moves to the next round and it begins all over again.

While I won’t suggest the Sri Lankan government is blameless or absolve it of any sins; the Tamil Tigers are a horrendous terrorist militant group which does grave injustice to all concerned. The sooner the Tamil Tiger movement dies, the sooner Sri Lankans from all communities can heal themselves and pursuit legal civil remedies for all injustice for all Sri Lankans - regardless of ethnicity.

To the anonymous putzs and the not so putzie in the virtual world

In my first two weeks of blogging, I do not believe I had even 10 visitors to my blog but I did receive the first death threat via email. Alas, it was not the only death threat but merely the first of many. I have been blamed for everything from the sexual abuse of animals to the rise of anti-Semitism and cited as the primary cause of climate change. I have been defamed and maliciously so at times in the comments. I have harassed and pilloried by other bloggers but it’s the true gauntlet of personal email which have astounded and stupefied me - ranging from promises of undying love and affection, proposals of marriage and sexual liaisons right up to death threats, threats of bodily harm to threats of sexual mutilation. There have been witticisms and many a wry observations which have caused me to spit out a few mouthfuls of early morning coffee. I took it all in stride and put it down to the hazards of the internet blogging.

I keep all the emails and duly and log and tag all the IP addresses. I have worked in criminal law and lived in the urban core long enough to know that one never knows when either the benign or malicious will make good on their proposals or threats but here is what I will not tolerate – some two-bit putz commenting anonymously and embedding a picture of another woman and claiming its me. I take my own bounce and no one has to take the fall for anything I have written, said or believed and that is just how I roll.

So here I am folks, not the greatest picture, but it’s me, and I duly claim every line on my face and extra pound on my 46 year old middle aged frame - right down to the gray hairs on my head. Take your best shot because I guarantee you won’t every get another chance to take another.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Public Service Civil War Primer for Torontonians

Rightly or wrongly, I know very little about the Sri Lankan civil war. Call it a case of too many wars and not enough lives to study them all. Besides, nothing really ever caught my eye as a particularly extraordinary about the civil war in Sri Lanka to make it stand out from literally hundreds of other civil wars waged in the last 10 to 4,000 years. Anyway, I figure there are more than a few Torontonians who feel much the same today. And so in the spirit of public service announcements - I am going to quote from the War Nerd (aka as the Che of Fresno) and then direct you to read the whole column on LTTE at The Exiled.
One thing you have to give the doomed Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka credit for: their supporters sitting in comfortable first-world cities have no shame when it comes to begging for help. Militarily the Sri Lankan Tamils are o-vuh, but when it comes to demanding favors from people who have every reason to hate their guts, these guys are world-class. For some hilarious examples of propaganda from a doomed army, check out the LTTE’s glossy but totally insane website, Tamilnet.

(…)These guys have no shame at all. They’d probably be willing to go on Flava Flav’s “Workfare for Overage Street Ho’s” show, they’re so shameless. They even, believe it or not, called for the US to save them with “gunboat diplomacy.” I kid you not. After decades of playing the bold revolutionaries, they’re actually screeching for American destroyers to rescue them. Ah, it’s a fun world as long as you remember we’re all garbage at heart.

Now that the Tamils’ great Sri Lankan kingdom has been whittled down to about ten acres of blasted scrub, they’re so desperate they’re even tying up traffic in Toronto by way of attracting attention to their sad little plight that they totally brought on themselves. The Canadians are giving it their typical mealymouthed cowardly PC response, “We understand your frustration,” while these losers tie up the biggest freeway in Toronto.

But my favorite little desperate gesture from the Tamils is the way they’ve reached out to Sonia Gandhi, the big Indian politician, to ask for help. Which is funny because Sonia happens to be the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991. And who sent the bomber? Nobody but the LTTE, the Sri Lankan Tamils’ great liberation army. Yup, they didn’t like Rajiv’s policy on Sri Lanka so they sent him the LTTE version of a strip-o-gram: a zombie girl who shimmied right up to Rajiv at a rally and pulled her own string. It stripped her all right; it stripped the flesh off her and Rajiv and anybody else within the blast radius. Scorched-earth erotic dancing. The ultimate Bollywood closing number.

And now that the LTTE is cornered like a weasel with its foot in a trap, they actually have the gall to ask for her help. This is why I could never be in politics: you have to have the ability to forgive people. I’ve never forgiven anyone in my life. I don’t even get the concept. If something was bad, something offended you, then it stays that way. It doesn’t turn nice because a little time has passed. I never did get that idea. But Sonia just sat up on a dais in Chennai and listened to a bunch of old LTTE supporters read poems about the glorious Tamil martyrs—you know, like the girl who erased Sonia’s hubby—and politely remind them that India can’t interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, bla bla bla.

I guess that would’ve been sweet, in a quiet way, but me, I’d want to offer the Sri Lankan army the full support of every fighter plane the Indian AF can send down there. “Oh, I’ll help your friends in the LTTE, all right: I’ll help them all be reincarnated as tapeworms after we send the Indian Air Force down there to wipe out your last-ditch bunkers! Oh yeah, my little Tamil buddies, we’re gonna put on a little air show for ya, we’ll call it the Rajiv Gandhi memorial air munitions display because after all my hubby was a pilot back when he was alive before you turned him into blackened meat, remember little buddies?

Go read. So young, so cynical and so very unforgiving - and he’s just warming up.

Iraqis propose filing lawsuit against the ‘State which cannot be Named’

The correct spelling of a defendant/respondent’s name is one of those annoying little things which can cause a lawsuit to be delayed unnecessarily or even thrown out of court. It is one of those little nagging traditions of common law which law clerks wrestle with on a daily basis. I remember once having to file five different affidavits for a criminal records search for a single individual as the police had spelled the witness’ five different ways in the police disclosure.

So I am thinking the Israelis won’t have much problem dodging this proposed lawsuit.Arutz Sheva. Iraqi parliamentarians are weighing a lawsuit against Israel in which they would demand compensation for Israel's 1981 strike on the Osiraq nuclear reactor. Israel demolished the reactor to prevent the terror-supporting state from attaining nuclear weapons.

Iraqi MP Mohammed Naji Mahmoud is leading the push to sue. Iraq deserves “billions of dollars” in damages, Mahmoud has said. The MPs hope to pass a bill that would require the Iraqi government to sue Israel for damages. However, the government must do so without recognizing the State of Israel as a legitimate entity, the MPs say. The suit, if it is filed, will use the United Nations condemnation of the Israeli strike as proof that Israel unfairly caused Iraq financial losses.

I can’t help it. I am actually looking forward to see how the Iraqis will solve this problem. I just cannot see how the ‘Zionist Entity’ will be allowed to stand or how about the ‘State which cannot be named’ as a defendant/respondent?

Pope Walk

I figured by now most people would have heard how the Pope took a walk during an inter-religious meeting in Jerusalem yesterday but then I caught CTV’s coverage of the Pope’s tour of Israel last night and not a word was mentioned. I guess the Pope cutting short a visit due to an anti-Semitic diatribe isn’t considered newsworthy. I am not a papal watcher so for all I know it may happen all the time. Anyway, for the record, here is the Jerusalem Post account:
A leading Palestinian cleric commandeered an evening devoted to interfaith dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday to rant against Israel for "killing Gaza's children," "bulldozing Palestinian homes" and "destroying mosques."

In an impromptu speech, delivered in Arabic at the Notre Dame Pontifical Institute in Jerusalem, Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, chief Islamic judge in the Palestinian Authority, launched a 10-minute tirade against the State of Israel for confiscating Palestinians' land and carrying out war crimes against the residents of Gaza. He also called for the immediate return of all Palestinian refugees, and called on Christians and Muslims to unite against Israel. Tamimi invoked the name of Saladin, the Muslim sultan who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. Tamimi said that unlike Israel, Saladin upheld the religious freedoms of all faiths.

Following the diatribe and before the meeting was officially over, the pope exited the premises. However, he shook Tamimi's hand before walking out. The pope, speaking before Tamimi, discussed the importance of religion and truth for the advancement of humanity's mutual understanding.

He was visibly uncomfortable with the tone of Tamimi's discourse. Even those who did not understand his Arabic quickly understood that the Muslim cleric was giving a militant speech. Several attempts were made by Latin Patriarch in the Holy Land Fouad Twal, a Palestinian, to politely stop Tamimi. But Tamimi would not be deterred from reading his written speech, apparently prepared in advance without the knowledge of the organizers.

When Tamimi finished, applause could be heard from a few dozen in an audience of a few hundred. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, responded to Tamimi's tirade by e-mail. "The intervention of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi was not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting that took place at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.

The irony was the meeting was held as an ‘inter-faith’ dialogue and one of the first opportunities for the Pope to meet with the religious leaders. I am not a fan of the current Pope but good on him for walking out. Although did he really have to shake the Sheikh’s hand on the way out?

Red Shoe Diary

I have always loved red accessories. Don’t ask why, just accept it. Every spring I seem to run across a pair of red shoes which call my name and I just have to have them. This year it was a pair of red patent leather Italian slingback sandals on super sale. I have put off wearing them because I just know breaking them in is going to hurt. I might have danced on pointe for years but I do just about anything else to avoid hurting my feet which is why I do not own a pair of high heels. I look at a pair of Jimmy Choos and my feet actually break out in a sweat and my toes curl up in fetal position instinctively.

Yesterday, I finally felt brave enough to break out the shoes and wear them to work. I managed the entire day without a single pain or ache. Happy Feet. Absolutely amazing. G-d bless the Italians. What they can craft in a pair of shoes is beyond precedent. For this alone, Italian cobblers should merit a place in the world to come.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Live long and prosper

After meals, dishes, and 10 loads of laundry the Last Amazon and her brother Isaiah Sender decided to take me to the movies for Mother’s Day. No slacker Mommas in my house. The movie choice was completely theirs. I suppose because they grew-up hearing stories of me sneaking into my grandmother’s bedroom to watch the original Star Trek in the dark, it was only appropriate to take me to the latest Star Trek franchise.

Here’s the thing. I loved Star Trek in the late sixties and I have loathed every single new franchise since. The original was daring for its time and the characters compelling. The plots were interesting and the series didn’t shy away from philosophical dilemmas in encountering new situations and life forms. I had my interest in Milton piqued during the Wrath of Khan episode and I remember deciding, one day when I grew up, I would read Paradise Lost - that is, once I learned to read in English. And oddly enough, in my late teens, I saw a copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost and read it for no other reason than remembering the Wrath of Khan episode. The original series was not only cheesy but exceedingly corny which is why the old series is relatively unwatchable for those who grew-up watching it.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I loathed Star Trek: the Next Generation. All that angst and touchy-feelieness, with standard pop psychology measured out in large dosages in every episode. I am not going to even get started on the deliberate neutering of all Federation males but Worf and the Ferangi. Talk about a progressive wet dream, besides, there is not enough imagination in the world to make it even remotely plausibly that in the future - an aging French metrosexual will captain and lead a space ship to boldly go where no man has gone before. Replacing Dr. Spock’s with a machine was a damn stupid idea and belied what made Spock’s character interesting in the first place - which was watching the interplay between his hidden human inner self and his outer coldly rational Vulcan self.

So how did I like this one? Well, it has been years since I managed to stay awake watching a movie from beginning to end in dark movie theatre. This is why I generally wait for movies to come out on DVD. So it has ‘stay awake’ appeal which is really quite a feat. The characters possess all the charm, warmth and flaws of the old Star Trek. Although, I do have to admit that as the plot unfolded, I did have to have a little talk from time to time with my inner child and remind her; this was the Star Trek of a new generation. And if they want to play havoc with the time-line continuum and all of what we know of the old that came before – it is their prerogative as we had our day. Now is the time for new generation to go boldly and discover what this alternative universe has to offer and say. And actually, I am just grateful the tribe still wants me to make the journey with them. Oh, and the oldest son, he stayed home and ordered dinner.

No rooms in the Inn…for a Jew

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Ha’aretz:
A hotel in the Austrian region of Tyrol that said it does not accept Jewish guests has caused shock in the local media and tourism industry, the daily Tiroler Tageszeitung reported Sunday.

A Vienna family of seven had had tried to make a reservation at the Haus Sonnenhof apartment hotel in the village of Serfaus, but the owner replied by e-mail that although the room was free, she did not want to take in Jewish guests because of "bad experiences" in the past.

The region around Serfaus has become popular among orthodox Jewish tourists in recent years, and several hotels in Tyrol have begun offering kosher food.

At least once a week I run into someone who suggests Canadians should adopt more European ways or model for this or that way of doing whatever which always astounds me. I mean, if Europe was really that answer why did our ancestors leave in the millions?

Speaking of Europeans, the Pope made a rather interesting pronouncement from Jordan over the weekend. Apparently, Jews and Christians share an inseparable bond which is rather news to me and probably for all those Jews who accepted death rather than conversion at the hands of Christians. Ha’aretz:

"The ancient tradition of pilgrimage to the holy places also reminds us of the inseparable bond between the church and the Jewish people," said Benedict. "From the beginning, the church in these lands has commemorated in her liturgy the great figures of the patriarchs and prophets, as a sign of her profound appreciation of the unity of the two testaments."
I have a Chumash, Tanach, and book after book of commentaries and there is somewhere in the house of a Christian bible but in none of my Jewish religious books can I reconcile the ‘Christian’ testament with anything found within those Jewish religious books. Most days, when I run across a blog posting referencing something in the Christianize ‘Chumash’ listing its English name, chapter and line number, I have come to learn its going to be a hunt tracking down the alleged corresponding reference.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Battering down the hatches

All week I wondered what song I would batter down the hatches of the blog with and as I opened up my newsreader this morning, I still hadn’t a clue, but a story out of Germany sealed the deal for this week’s song. Really, it couldn’t be anything other than the Partisan by Leonard Cohen.

Lyrical highlight:

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.


Nannygate is the perfect Liberal storm and contrary to Dhalla’s lawyer’s insinuations this isn’t a political plot to discredit a Liberal MP. Quite frankly, Canadian political conservatives just aren’t known for doing anything better than an awkward political fumble or two. Just think Puffin-Dion.

What fascinates me is how quiet all the left-leaning liberal bleeding-hearts have gone. Three immigrant nanny/caregivers all claiming abuse at the hands of the family of an elected member of parliament and not a word is blogged on their behalf by all the usual suspects. I suspect commenter “you’dbesurprised” at the Toronto Star summed up the Liberal position best:
I am normally a happy Liberal but I'm distressed that the Star reported on this story in the first place.

I bet you are. And Bob Rae too. It is a modern Canadian cautionary tale of greed – as in greed - either of the nannies or greed of the Dhalla family for going cheap and not hiring Canadian in the first place.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

My grandfather use to use this expression all the time – what is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh. It is one of those saying which comes back to me constantly as I move about my very ordinary life, and when I think of it, I hear the sound of his voice very clearly saying it in my mind. I once asked him what was bred in my bone and I remember his smile as he answered rather cryptically that one day we would see. Not much of an answer and I suspect he knew but he also understood it was a journey I would have to live out for myself. Such is the wisdom of our grandparents.

A have a copy of Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror. It’s a history book detailing life in 14th century Europe. I have owned this book longer than any other and it’s dog-eared and worn. This book has seen 30 years of traveling and half the cover has fallen off but I find I refer to it over and over again. Reading this book wasn’t just an eye-opener on life on the 14th century but my first experience with the idea the more things change; the more they stay the same.

One of the more striking (well in my mind anyways) stories from the book I encountered was reading the response of the good volk of the Rhineland when faced with the Black Death. They perceived it as G-d’s judgment and punishment for allowing the Jews to live unmolested among them. So all across the Rhineland the Jews were rounded up and forced in their synagogues, the windows and doors were nailed shut and the buildings set a fire. Six centuries later and the good volk created the death camps and the ‘showers’ for the Jews. Why this brief walk through memory lane? The Jerusalem Post carries this rather unsurprising report from Germany:

A legal opinion submitted by law professor Jürgen Vahle to the Interior Ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia state in late April upholds the propriety of a police ban on and seizure of two Israeli flags during a violent anti-Israeli demonstration in January. The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Jerusalem Post, asserts that "the entry by force in two apartments" and "the securing of the flags was lawful."

During a protest against Israel's Operation Cast Lead organized by the radical Islamic group Milli Görüs that attracted 10,000 protesters in Duisburg, two police officers stormed the apartment of a 25-year-old student and his 26-year-old girlfriend and seized Israeli flags hanging on the balcony and inside a window. According to Vahle's report, the protesters threw "chunks of ice, pocket knives and cigarette lighters" at the Israeli flags.

North Rhine-Westphalia's domestic intelligence agency (Protection of the Constitution) cited in its 2008 report the anti-Semitic and militant Islamic group Milli Görüs, the organizer of the anti-Israeli protest, as a threat to the democratic structure of the federal republic.

The student, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears for his safety, told the Post that two weeks after the removal of the flags "a couple of young folks" hollered in front of his apartment, "Damn Jew, come outside."

He displayed the Israeli flags in January to "show solidarity with a republic [Israel] in the Middle East that is surrounded by dictators but is viewed as a pariah state. I was in Israel and find the land super." Asked about Vahle's report, the student said, "False questions were poised." Given the background of the radical Islamic group Milli Görüs, he asked, "why was a police unit of 280 officers present at a demonstration where 10,000 protesters" were present?

Vahle's report drew mixed reactions from police union officials. Frank Richter, chairman of the police union (Gdp) in North Rhine-Westphalia, told the Post that the "special relationship between Israel and Germany is good" but the entry into the apartment was "legal according to the police statute." If the police unit had not removed the flags, "it could have come to a big escalation" and "jeopardized life and limb" of those present, Richter said.

“For mankind is ever the same and nothing is lost out of nature, though everything is altered” – John Dryden, A Distant Mirror.

Enough said.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Goodbye Rhuby Thursday

Now a third housekeeper/caregiver has come forward with allegations of abuse at the Dhalla family home. The Toronto Star:
A third foreign worker has complained of being treated as a low-paid servant by the Dhalla family. The 32-year-old woman says MP Ruby Dhalla promised she would help the Filipino national stay in Canada if she passed a tryout at the Mississauga home. The test turned out to be brutal working conditions, and long hours, and money paid under the table. Nine days later, the woman quit.

The woman was in Canada working on a temporary work permit at an Ontario resort. When that job ended, a placement agency sent her to work at the Dhalla home in Mississauga.

Unlike the other two workers, who were nannies, this woman was hired as a housekeeper. In an interview with the Star, the woman said Dhalla’s mother, Tavinder, worked her so hard she had no choice but to quit. She had to wash all the floors while on hands and knees daily. She also had to shampoo the rugs each day at the four-bedroom home.

She said Rhuby Dhalla promised she would sponsor her through the Live In Caregiver Program if she stayed. She was eventually paid $370 cash for working 12 hours a day for 9 days.

Liberal MP Rhuby Dhalla has bravely demanded an investigation from the Parliamentary Ethics Committee into the tales of nanny/caregiver abuse alleged by former employees in the Dhalla home to clear her name, which is all well and good, except the nannies/care-givers are alleging criminal and labour violations. The parliament ethics committee can only investigate and clear her of any ‘ethnic violations’ and not labor violations or criminal behaviour.

Regardless, of which family member takes the fall for the violations, $370 for 9-12 hour days works out to less than a $3.43 an hour and is the merest breathe away from slave wages and is not close to the $250 a week offered to the other ‘caregivers/nannies’.

Furthermore, according to the transcripted conversations/emails between the Toronto Star reporter and Liberal MP Rhudy Dhalla, the caregivers were for her mother, a woman who is neither elderly or infirm, and in fact, according to the Right Honourable Dhalla, her mother even cooked for her ‘caregivers’ all of which would rule against sponsoring anyone for the nanny/caregiver program. Even promising to sponsor said potential employee was an abuse of a federal government program process and Dhalla family should have known better.