Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I realize I am not turning out more than a few posts on a busy day, but even so, this isn't going to stop me. Try again.
I'll be back when this issue is resolved.
Monday, June 29, 2009
He would practice for hours on end and most of us never lingered too long by his chair if great-grandmother was hovering around. There was most definitely a war in that house for affection of the tribe, and mostly, we publicly sided with great-grandma if only because we were all terrified of crossing her. If there was a picture of fierce-some rage in the dictionary you would see her exact image.
But there were times when she wasn’t around and I would sit at his knee and we would chat. He showed me all kinds of gambler’s tricks including how to count cards and other ways to cheat. Although, he did refuse to call me anything but Rose no matter how many times I corrected him. In any other family this might seem strange but changing your name was rather a common occurrence in mine. From time to time he even allowed me to sip his beer but considering I wasn’t terribly fond of beer it wasn’t much of a perk. Although having beer on my breath never failed to impress my older male cousins so I got some mileage creds from pretending to go sip for sip with grandpa Joe.
I was the only one he did that with and I was the only one he taught to count cards and cheat. He said it was because I was the only sensible one who understood it was a fool’s game to bet against the house. I am not sure he was right about the sensibleness but he did instill in me a healthy contempt for gambling in all forms, and I remain convinced, the only people who are amoured of gambling have poor mathematical skills.
This little stroll down memory lane comes courtesy of Russia’s Putin campaign to stamp out vice of gambling in Russia. NY Times
All of which means - there are now new fortunes to be made running underground gambling dens in Moscow.
MOSCOW — One of the largest mass layoffs in recent Russian history is to occur on Wednesday, and the Kremlin itself is decreeing it, economic crisis or not.
And in a move that at times seems to have taken on almost farcical overtones, the Kremlin has offered the gambling industry only one option for survival: relocate to four regions in remote areas of Russia, as many as 4,000 miles from the capital. The potential marketing slogans — Come to the Las Vegas of Siberia! Have a Ball near the North Korean Border! — may not sound inviting, but that is in part what the government envisions.
All the same, none of the four regions are prepared for the transfer, and no casino is expected to reopen for several years. As of July 1, not even two decades after casinos began proliferating here in the free-for-all post-Soviet era, the industry’s workers will be out on the street.
(…)The law that started the whole process was introduced in 2006 by Mr. Putin, then the president and now the prime minister, who spoke of the perils of the blackjack tables and the one-armed bandits, of shady characters having a grip on the industry.
(…)The gambling industry here does not have the loftiest of reputations, and many Russians will not grieve for it. Still, many of the 40 or so casinos in Moscow sought in recent years to behave more respectably, even as hundreds of slot-machine parlors retained a seedy, enter-at-your-own-risk feel.
The gambling industry says the ban will leave more than 400,000 people without work in Russia, at a time when it has been hard hit by the economic downturn: the World Bank predicts the economy will contract by 7.9 percent this year. The government has put the figure at 60,000 people, though industry analysts say that is absurdly low.
(…)After the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991, gambling sprang up everywhere in Russia, from first-class locations in Moscow to side-alley hangouts in the provinces. The crazy-quilt growth was something of a metaphor for capitalism here, full of possibilities and schemes and corruption.
The industry has been largely unregulated, and especially in recent years, almost anyone could get a license, for as little as $50. Russia is not a strait-laced place — rates of smoking and drinking are high — but an outcry about gambling ensued. “It is not only young people, but also retirees who lose their last kopecks and pensions through gambling,” Mr. Putin said in 2006.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I don't know where I picked up this piece of esoteric imagery but it has stayed with me since I came across it. It is said that the sounds of our prayers are carried up to the heavens and held lovingly, word by word, in the hands of the Mal'achim Adonai, and only then released, when they reach the court of heaven. May it be so - If it be your will.
If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Now early reports are coming in that Michael Jackson has a cardiac arrest and died in a Los Angeles hospital. I grew-up listening to the Jackson 5 and I remember how truly wonderful his solo album 'Off the Wall' album was. I remember speculating with friends on whether or not he could top 'Off the Wall'...but Thriller defied all expectations. His contribution to music and his videos will remembered and numbered by legion.
But. And isn't there always a 'but'? It wasn't his 'weirdness' which put me off his music but the child molestation charges. Although, he was found 'not guilty' in a court of law there were too many unanswered questions and rather dubious behaviour on his part to ever be exonerated completely of these charges in the court of my mind. I suspect I am not alone in this regard. Maybe its too much the 'mother' in me but I don't even know if I can wish his well in death. Ironic that while Michael Jackson remained an obvious looking black man he was relatively normal but his metamorphosis into a white man was characterized by the utmost bizarreness.
Either way, this is the only way - I wish I could remember him.
Case in point – the Gay Pride parade is to held this weekend in Jerusalem and the Charedim have protested previous Gay Pride parades in rather large turnouts. But not this year, instead, it has been decided to ignore it, and the Charedim have moved on to protesting much more important matters – well, at least more important this year – like protesting the opening of a public parking lot on the Sabbath. Yes, a parking lot. Although, I wouldn't characterize it as a plus in tolerance and acceptance column. Ha'aretz:
Today's Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem is not expected to stir violent protests, police sources say.
They expect the highly controversial event to run smoothly because leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community - who in past years have led anti-gay protests - decided to cease from protesting to avoid exposing their young people to the subject. As a result, only 1,600 police officers will be assigned to the parade, compared with 12,000 in 2006.
Nobody can throw a riot like the Charedim and the possibility for riot still looms large over the parking lot issue - again. The Jerusalem Post:
With the clock ticking, a Jerusalem court on Wednesday postponed until Sunday a hearing over the opening of an alternate parking lot in the city on Shabbat instead of the municipality's underground garage, but left open the possibility for the two sides to reach an out-of-court agreement before this weekend.
The Jerusalem District Court's decision left unanswered the critical question of whether a deal to open the Carta parking lot opposite the Jaffa Gate, which is under receivership, would be reached by Saturday in place of the municipal car park at nearby city hall, or whether it would take more time to reach an accord. The timing was especially critical since massive haredi protests were planned for Friday night and Saturday if the municipal car park is reopened this weekend.
But a little further on in the article another tidbit into Israeli life leaks out, and surprisingly enough, it touches on an issue which rose in Toronto during the Tamal protests.
I wish a fly on the wall when the 'fiery debate broke out' just for the entertainment value of it all. I have to admit guilt on this issue. I am one of those kind of parents who has taken children to demonstrations and protests. In fact, my oldest son wouldn't dream of letting me go by myself to stand for Israel when protesting against the pro-Hezbollah demonstrations held in Toronto without him by my side. Although, he never got called to the Torah for it and the best he could hope for was a meal after.
In light of the violent protests at Kikar Safra earlier this month, the Knesset Committee for Children's Rights met Wednesday to discuss the participation of children in the protests.
The Criminal Code of 1977 places criminal responsibility upon parents for "taking an action that would endanger a child's well-being" - a clause that some MKs took to include participation in a possibly violent protest.
A series of speakers blasted the decision to involve children in the protests, but former operations director for the Eidah Haredit and current Zaka Rescue Service Chairman Yehudah Meshi Zahav said that "bringing children to a demonstration that is against disgracing Shabbat is part of educating our children. We educate them to adhere to their values - not just when it is comfortable but also when there is a price."
"I also got hit by water cannons when I was a boy during demonstrations against violating Shabbat," said Meshi-Zahav "In our community, a person whose son was arrested in a protest gets an aliya to the Torah on Shabbat." Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, chairman of the Council for the Well-Being of the Child responded that "use of children in protests is negative in any group, not just for haredim. Use of children in protests is a gimmick that works," he said.
A fiery debate broke out between Kadman and Meshi-Zahav in which Kadman argued that "haredi parents are more responsible than what Meshi-Zahav described" and the Zaka head responded that "parents who don't bring their children to demonstrations didn't get good education like I did. Children are the best soldiers during protests and I have never seen a child who developed trauma from participating in one."
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
One 12- to 16-ounce pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 2 large pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 to 6 challah rolls (3 to 4 inches wide), split
This is why you can never learn the principles of Jewish cooking from Rachel Ray as she obviously never had a Bubbe to teach her right from wrong in the kitchen.
Workers are fighting for improved benefits for casual employees who currently receive no vacation pay, sick time or benefits. They can also be called in to work a shift that is as short as two hours. Before the strike deadline was extended, LCBO spokesperson Chris Layton said the board has a history of averting strikes. He also said casual employees are compensated fairly and make up to $18 an hour.So the union is not asking for crazy things except what do call a person who sticks with a job which only pays for 2 hours a shift for 10-15 years? I call it batshit crazy even if the job pays $18 an hour. I can't wait for the union to tell us it takes years of training and a whole host of special skills to scan a bottle...you know - its coming.
"We are bargaining very seriously," he told CTV Toronto. "We have tried to meet the union's demands and their concerns. We owe it to the public to come up with an agreement to negotiate a settlement." If LCBO employees do eventually strike, Beer Store locations and Ontario-only wine shops will not be affected by the job action.
"If you just have full-time employees, we would have a lot of staff at the store and not the business to warrant that staff so it helps us operate efficiently," he said.
But union officials say workers need to drive from store to store in one day in order to make enough money to support themselves."We're talking about people who have been working for this company for 10 or 15 years and they still haven't seen a vacation day or benefit or anything," said Craig Hadley with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "The LCBO can afford to do better. We're not asking for crazy things. This just fairness.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I have yet to met a resident who would publicly acknowledge sympathy for the garbage men and tempers are running high. The Toronto Star reported earlier that a picketing garbage man has been run down on the picket line in front city hall. The moral of which should be - don't block access to a downtown resident's parking spot.
But that is the least of the city's labour problems because as of midnight tonight - LCBO workers are set to walk off the job which means most of us are doomed. For those of you who do not have the misfortune of living in Ontario; this means no liquor will be sold. And the bars – well, once their stock is consumed - we will all be condemned to drink beer. Lucky for me, I am diversification personified and my home is well stocked with Israeli wine, Russian vodka, Jamaican Rum, and Italian spumante.
There is a simple fix to both the garbage and LCBO labor issues. Privatized, and then, pull a Ronald Reagan - and fire them all.
Last night was the ‘big episode’ wherein Jon & Kate announce their separation after 8 kids. Well, well. People separate, divorce and I get that, but for the life of me, I just cannot understand how these two can sit in front of a camera and suggest they have to do what is best for themselves, and then, best for their children. How divorce in this case ever translates as best for the children it beyond my ability to understand. But as Isaiah Sender suggested – why would I understand it given that I would never turn my family into a commodity either.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Only 6 percent of Jewish Israelis consider the views of American President Barack Obama's administration pro-Israel, according to a new Jerusalem Post-sponsored Smith Research poll. The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.5%, was conducted among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jewish adults this week, following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech in which he expressed his support for a demilitarized Palestinian state.
The last time Binyamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister, he was accused of bungling the Israeli-US relationship, and it played a part in the downfall of his administration. Now, Israeli-US relations are at a low, but this time, Netanyahu may very well skate on this issue as Israeli popular support perceives the US administration as being ‘anti-Israel’ - so it becomes almost irrelevant what the Israeli Prime Minister does or does not do. This is an unheard of opportunity for the Israeli government to stand firm in the face of any kind of US opposition towards Israeli policies.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
And just a few days ago we have a Jesuit priest blaming the “Jews” for the failure to beautificate Pope Pius Xll. Jerusalem Post:
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top Muslim leader, accused “dirty Zionists" and “Zionist media” for being behind charges that the results of the election were rigged. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner two hours after the voting stations closed a week ago on Friday. His opponent, Mir Hussein Moussavi, lost even in his own city, according to official election results.
The Rev. Peter Gumpel, a German Jesuit who is spearheading Pius' cause, said at a conference in Rome that Pope Benedict XVI was "impressed" by warnings that relations with Jews would be ruined if he put the World War II pontiff on the road to sainthood.
Some historians and Jewish groups say Pius didn't do enough to prevent or limit the scope of the Holocaust. The Vatican insists Pius used quiet diplomacy to try to help Jews. The ANSA news agency quoted Gumpel as saying that in recent meetings Jewish leaders had told Benedict that "relations between the Catholic church and Jews would be definitively and permanently compromised" by Pius' beatification.
The Vatican has subsequently denied Grmpel's claims...ho hum. Ho hum. Same Shit, Different Day
Saturday, June 20, 2009
One day when were we all Blockbuster Video I found Tombraider 1 for PC's in the bargain bin. I bought, loaded it on my computer and I was hooked. I was pretty happy with the Tombraider franchise until Angel of Darkness. Half-heartedly, I bought Legend for PC when the game came out but it lagged so badly on my machine I never got around to playing to whole game. I more or less junked the game until early this evening when I ran across it when I was looking for something else. Isn't that always the way?
I decided to load it, and well, I forgot how all engrossing playing video games can be. I don't know if it will be my favourite Tombraider but I know the laundry won't come close to being finished tomorrow.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Now so long, Marianne, it's time that we began
to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.
Well you know that I love to live with you,
but you make me forget so very much.
I forget to pray for the angels
and then the angels forget to pray for us.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
In hopes of wooing back pet owners, cash-strapped Air Canada will again allow some cats and dogs aboard commercial flights, reversing a three-year-old decision that had banished the animals to the luggage compartment.
Beginning next month, cats and small dogs weighing up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) will be allowed to be stowed under their owner's seat as a carry-on item on Air Canada and Jazz flights. The animals must be registered and in leak-proof containers. The airline will charge a handling fee of $50 each way for flights within Canada and the United States, and $100 each way for international connections. It's an about-face for the airline, which in 2006 announced that all pets would have to fly in the luggage hold.
"This is the latest of our customer-friendly initiatives that underscores our renewed commitment to listening to our customers and offering a competitive product that meets their needs," Ben Smith, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer at Air Canada, said in a written statement.
Flying in Canada – you still better off using West Jet as the customer service is fantastic and it usually costs significantly less.
The relationship of “good friends agree to disagree” took a tough test Wednesday afternoon as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman standing at her side, told reporters, "We want to see a stop to the settlements.”
The Foreign Minister, who lives in the community of Nokdim in the eastern part of Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, did not flinch and retorted, “We think that as in any place, babies are born, people get married, some pass away and we cannot accept this vision about an absolutely complete freezing of settlements."
Lieberman surprised me as I had no idea he spoke English – my bad. Frankly, if Hillary thinks she can steamroll over Lieberman I think she is in for a big surprise but I'd rather watch a drink-off between the two over the issues of settlements in the disputed territories and the first one who can give a coherent statement after three hours of heavy drinking wins. To make it fair Hillary, she can add Obama to her team but he has to drink too and be able to speak without a teleprompter.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In a city which seems to suffer from chronic budget shortfalls one can be forgiven for thinking it was a new initiative to raise cash for the city coffers, but alas, no. This isn’t a fund raising initiative but rather the mayor’s attempt to punish all unsuitably green municipal citizens for their slovenly and sloth-filled ways. The stores actually get to keep the proceeds of sloth. Although, retailers can always get around the ‘fine’ by offering ‘paper’ bags to their customers as paper bags are deemed more ‘environmentally responsible’ via the mayor’s office, and are therefore ‘exempt’ from the sloth fine.
What I love about this half-baked venture into social engineering is all the unintended consequences which have resulted since the mayor and his cohorts came up with their ‘green’ by-law. I suppose those city hall types are so use to dealing with environ-tyrants that it never occurred to them that the vast unwashed slackers and slothful might not be so compliant or reasonable to deal with either.
The Last Amazon has a summer job working in a retail store located in a large and prominent mall. Her breaks have now become enormously entertaining watching mall security guards trying attempting to sort out the shoplifters from non-green slacker citizen consumer types who refuse to pay the sloth surcharge for a plastic bag but didn’t plan ahead for their shopping sprees by bringing their own bags, and instead, carry their purchases stuffed in their pockets, handbags, or openly in their hands with the tags hanging down.
The Last Amazon tells me nothing screams righteous and indignant outrage quite like a middle-aged type from Forest Hill who has just been confronted by a mall security guard demanding said patron prove he/she is not a shoplifter…well that is, until said middle-aged type from Forest Hill just also happens to be a lawyer as well. Good times people, good times.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The 400 are only a fraction of the 2,650 families that the government intends to sue, but fill the maximum capacity for suits at the district court.
The suits charge families from the villages of Nuwei’ma, Ad-Duyuk and Al-Auja of violating state property. Dozens of hearings have already been held, most of which were postponed on the request of families seeking time to get ownership documents in order.
(...)Most families have been living on the land for decades, others for centuries, and some were refugees who returned to Palestine following the 1993 Oslo accords that permitted thousands of refugees to live in the area.
According to dozens of the families involved in the suits, the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat had given land in An-Nuwei’ma village to Oslo-era returnees. The structures range from centuries old thatched clay homes, to stone to tents. None of the homes have municipal services; there are no roads, schools are shipping containers with three classes per container. Residents of these three villages make their living from raising livestock, working in construction, and there are some even civil servants.
If that isn't pitiful enough, check this out.
One elderly divorcee, who preferred to remain unnamed, was unable to read the court summons because she is illiterate. The woman lives in a structure built out of thick cardboard she says she stole from a nearby Israeli settlement, it looks more like an arbor than a house, but shields the woman from the summer sun. The average temperature for a Jericho summer is 40 degrees Celsius, and the woman complains of the intolerable heat. “They still want to force us to evacuate and live in hell,” she said.
Because she could not read the court summons the woman missed her court hearing and was told later that she was to be evicted from the structure and would be forced to pay a 50 Jordanian dinar fine (75 US dollars).
Or how about this one?
Thirty-six-year-old Zeinab Safi, a widow whose husband died 5-years ago built a home on the contested land after her youngest son’s bed in the one room she and her six children and three of her brother’s children shared. Safi said she once saw the snakes she complained to friends, and a Palestinian man from Jerusalem helped her build a house. Just as we began to feel settled the court filed a suit demanding we evacuate the house and demolish it. Safi works as an agricultural laborer.
Someone needs to alert the NGO's so they can rally the international community or at least tell Dr. Dawg so he can get a post out denouncing the eeeevil 'colonists' who are running the government. But let's be honest - no one will bat an eyelash or care as there are absolutely no Jews involved.
Monday, June 15, 2009
In the Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Hillel is quoted saying, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man”. Why this piece of ancient wisdom?
Because now is the hour for the single most powerful man in the world to stand up and support the struggle of millions of ordinary citizens who are attempting to take back their country from the rule of the treacherous Mullah's. I am not suggesting US Marines need to be deployed. Just a simple speech supporting the Iranian people's struggle for freedom and democracy. I am told he is good at that kind of thing, I don't see it, but perhaps, more importantly, others will.
Deeply troubled doesn't cut it. The Iranian people deserve better than the Jimmy Carter redux.
The growing parking crisis in Tel Aviv was backed up by official numbers Sunday, as a new report by the City's Enforcement Department revealed that the humming metropolitan is lacking a staggering 324,000 parking spots.
The report was commissioned by a new municipal committee tasked with trying to solve the issue. The report also stated that the shortage results in over 3,000 parking tickets a day, most of which are given between 5pm and 7 pm, in central Tel Aviv. According to the report, Tel Avivians own 152,000 vehicle, but incoming traffic sees more than 450,000 vehicles enter the city and compete for 278,000 parking spots – including those is regulated parking lots. Other data suggested that 83% of the parking tickets issued daily are given to non-residents.
Of course, the replacement revenue stream for the municipality in all probability could never be effectively replaced if additional parking spaces were found - so there probably no relief in sight for the near future.
So why have the Zionist boars free to create havoc and mayhem.
(IsraelNN.com) Palestinian Authority media outlets continue to blame Israel for problems caused by wild boars in Samaria, despite Israeli efforts to cull the animals. On Thursday, PA farmers near Ariel complained that “Israeli settlers” had engineered a wild boar attack that destroyed agricultural produce.
The farmers' claims were repeated by the head of the regional PA farmers' union, who accused Israelis living in Ariel and nearby towns of planning the attacks. The union head did not explain how Israelis allegedly trained the pigs to destroy only Arab crops.
Arab residents of Samaria have made several similar claims over the past three years. The claims have been backed up by PA armed forces, whose officers have been quoted as confirming to PA media that Israel is behind wild boar attacks.
Media outlets have also lent credence to the claims, with the PA-based Ma'an news agency stating, “The wild boars are being released by Israeli settlers in order to destroy the plants and crops of Palestinians.”
Israel is unable to cull the boar population in Arab villages in Samaria, as those areas are entirely under PA control.
The question becomes – has Daffy run out of local whipping boys?
Before leaving Rome on Saturday, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi met with about 300 Italian expatriots expelled from his country in 1970, and an unofficial group of five Jews of Libyan origin.
The official Libyan Jewish representatives had turned down Gaddafi's invitation for a Saturday meeting because "we cannot bow our heads and desecrate the Sabbath," Shalom Teshuba, vice president of the Rome Jewish community, stated in a note delivered to Gaddafi. Teshuba's letter reviewed a century of Libyan Jewish history and included a request for talks aimed at restitution and restoration of family and religious heirlooms confiscated after the massacres and expulsions in 1967.
The five unofficial Jewish representatives who walked to the meeting included distinguished peace activist and Jungian psychoanalyst David Gerbi. Clothed in the traditional white cassock, cap and pin-striped gilet typical in pre-'67 Libyan Jewry and wearing a Magen David around his neck, Gerbi asked Gaddafi to permit the restoration of the Sia Dar Bisni Synagogue in Tripoli, for which he had personally gathered funds. The community left behind over 47 synagogues, several of great historic and religious significance. He also asked that six mezuzot he had brought to Libya for this purpose in 2007, when he was arrested and bereft of his belongings, be returned to him.
Both the Italian Catholic and Jewish guests were invited to speak publicly, and were greeted individually by Gaddafi. The Libyan leader recalled the late Raffaele Fellah, a former president of the World Organization of Libya Jews. When told of his death, Gaddafi said, "Mercy to his soul," and praised Fellah's attempts at mediation. He added, however, that these attempts had brought no results because "he tied the Jewish question to that of Israel."
(...)Gaddafi reiterated his invitation to all to come back to Libya, and again stressed that priority would be given to Italian enterprises over other nationalities.
Firstly, the speech was a direct response to US President Obama's Cairo speech. Three things immediately come to mind. He directly challenged Obama's assertion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not lie at the root of all Middle East conflicts – one just has to revisit any Arab League conference and it becomes readily apparent it is not so. Secondly, he directly contradicted Obama's grasp of history, and rightly so.
Finally, he outlined what conditions would have to result for his administration to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state. This last point, in itself, was probably the biggest concession he made. I am not a fan of the so-called two state solution. I don't believe in the viability of an independent Palestinian state is possible.
Even now, the Palestinian economy would completely collapse if Israel severed all relations. All the models I have seen for an independent Palestinian state require massive injections of capital over a long-term period as well as operating on the premise that the Palestinian state would be fully integrated with the Israeli economy. For example, the most extensive analysis has to be the Rand Study. Take away economic integration and Palestinian statehood becomes just another failed state.
This is probably the biggest concession Netanyahu made. Although, I doubt the Palestinian Authority is up for the challenge. In fact, I know its not judging by this reaction in Jerusalem Post:
Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah expressed outrage and shock on Sunday over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's call for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state and his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The officials said that the speech that Netanyahu delivered at Bar-Ilan University was much worse than they had expected. They also warned that Netanyahu's policies would trigger a new intifada. Some of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's top advisers accused Netanyahu of "burying the peace process" and said the ball was now in the court of US President Barack Obama.
"Netanyahu's speech is a blow to Obama before it's a blow to the Palestinians and Arabs," an Abbas aide said. "It's obvious, in the aftermath of this speech, that we are headed toward another round of violence and bloodshed." Abbas's office issued a terse statement in which it accused Netanyahu of destroying efforts to achieve peace in the region. "The speech has destroyed all initiatives and expectations," the statement said. "It has also placed restrictions on all efforts to achieve peace and constitutes a clear challenge to the Palestinian, Arab and American positions."
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas, also lambasted Netanyahu for refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and his call for solving the issue of Palestinian refugees outside Israel. "Netanyahu's remarks won't lead to a just and comprehensive peace based on United Nations resolutions," Abu Rudaineh added.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official closely associated with Abbas, launched a scathing attack on Netanyahu, calling him a "swindler and liar." Netanyahu wanted the Palestinians to join the Zionist movement by offering them a state under the protectorate of Israel, Abed Rabbo said. He also rejected Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
What's that old saying about the Palestinians? Never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Talk about being true to type. I got a perverse chuckle out of the suggestion of the suggestion that Netanyahu's position will just lead to another round of violence and bloodshed.
I mean has the violence and bloodshed every really stopped? I have doubt there has been a week which has gone by when the IDF hasn't confiscated weapons or bomb making apparel at at least one checkpoint into Israel proper. As far as another intifada goes – well even, Abbas recognized the Palestinians paid a much higher price and achieved nothing for their efforts. Sure – go ahead and launch it again but remember this time Israel has never unlearned the lessons from the last intifada nor will the Israeli state be so easy to harm this time round.
Friday, June 12, 2009
WASHINGTON – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday it was "critical" that Israel halt all settlement activity. He added that he was considering fining the state $11 million for damage it did to UN facilities during the Gaza war. Ban says the fine was recommended by a committee elected to investigate damage done by the IDF to UN structures during Operation Cast Lead.This gave me my second laugh of the day. I don't know who the little genius was who came up with this bright idea but obviously he/she has never heard the concept about turnabout is fair play.
There is no shortage of sharp lawyers in Israel, and I can just imagine the suits and counter-suits. They can start by 'fining' the Palestinian Authority and present the PA with a bill for 'humanitarian aid', for security measures in Sderot, the cost for manning checkpoints...travel down this road and the Palestinians may become the first state to declare bankruptcy before a state is even established.
My seemingly well-adjusted posse, myself included, morphed into archetypal Adam Lambert fangirls. We became Glamberts, besotted with the leather and rhinestones, the perfectly smudgy guyliner, the emo coal-colored coif and, oh, yeah, the preternatural vocal range. When we got together, we no longer talked about good books, North Korea or the recession. We talked about all things Lambert. We became the thing that we normally despise: a cougar court that fell into a gentle loin lust with a man young enough to be our son. And a gay one, to boot.I just don’t get this cougar thing…words completely fail me, but then again, I never got the whole 'sex in the city' cult thingy either.
In terms of biology, Adam Lambert's attractiveness is kind of bizarre. Some research shows that women like square jaws and deep brows—iconic masculine traits—when they're looking for a fling. But we like more feminine traits when we're looking for The One, the long-term mate. Lambert has a little bit of both going on for him, as anyone who saw his version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" can attest.
When we aren't laughing at our patheticness (because, let's get real, even if Lambert were straight or gave in to some bi-curiosity, he would never be interested in us), we are actually ruminative enough to wonder what it is about this fellow that turned us into such loons. One thing we know for sure is that we are not alone. There are thousands of women of a certain age out there who are just one Adam Lambert Google search away from crashing their computers.
The good news is that people who know about these things think that our little Lambert love-fest is downright mentally healthy. "I think more women would be happier if they channeled their inner 14-year-old girls once in a while," says sex therapist Laura Berman, director of the Berman Center in Chicago. She's always been fascinated with the Clay Aiken phenomenon, that of girls going crazy for a seemingly sweet, innocent-looking boy-man (Aiken is now, like Lambert, out and proud).
Thursday, June 11, 2009
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell sounded out the Palestinian Authority on a land swap that would allow Israel to retain large population centers in Judea and Samaria in return for the PA’s receiving land that includes Arab cities. He broached the idea in his meeting Wednesday morning with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, according to the BBC. The PA has not confirmed or denied the report.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have been at loggerheads over the issue of the Jewish areas, where the president wants a halt to all construction. Israel has maintained that it cannot stop families from growing and prevent their children from marrying and needing homes of their own.
In addition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the Obama government will not honor a promise in a letter to Israel by former President George W. Bush that the large population centers would not be included in a future PA country.
The land swap idea originally was proposed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Beitar Illit, Ariel and possible the Karnei-Ginot Shomron communities would be under Israeli sovereignty if the proposal were to be accepted.
In return, Israel would surrender to the proposed PA state areas with a concentration of Arabs, most probably the Triangle area between Netanya and Kfar Saba, which is part of the Galilee. Surveys have shown that Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem, which the PA wants as its capital, are opposed to losing their Israeli citizenship, which provides them with financial benefits and services that the PA so far does not provide.
Which is all well and good but the last time a land swap was suggested by Yisrael Beiteinu, Israeli Arabs were absolutely outraged that they might a) lose their Israeli citizenship and b) were horrified they might be stuck under the authority and sovereignty of a Palestinian state. But by all means let the Obama administration try to sell this dog of an idea.
Two sisters have been arrested at Beirut International Airport for holding Israeli passports, Hizbullah's Al-Manar television network reported Wednesday night.Kind of makes one wonder who paid for their trip? Although, I sincerely doubt the sisters are spies - as they do seem quite hapless and long in the tooth for that kind of work. There is very little to match Lebanese paranoia but G-d look out for them - because they have now descended into whole new world of hell.
According to the report, the two - Josephine Moussa, 67, and her 69-year-old sister Georgette - arrived in Lebanon several days ago, entering using Lebanese passports. They were reportedly arrested when trying to leave the country.
Georgette is said to live in Israel while Josephine is believed to reside in the US and also hold an American passport. Al Manar also said that Georgette Moussa admitted to voting in Sunday's Lebanese elections in one of the districts of Beirut. The Foreign Ministry said it was looking into the report.
After an initial investigation, a Lebanese Military Court judge ordered the two to be transferred to the Lebanese Internal Security's intelligence branch. According to the report, the judge made his decision after information in the sisters' travel documents and other papers were found to be contradictory, and after it was discovered that Georgette's Israeli passport stated that her original nationality was Jordanian.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It's turning out to be quite a learning experience and 72 hours I will never get back. Since the new Dell arrived I had been trying to install my preferred anti-virus program - AVG for the last three days. No more Norton and their dreaded ‘LuCallBack Proxy’ to seriously grind my computer to a halt. Ditto for McAfee. In my test case scenario, AVG has captured trojans which managed to successfully allude both North and McAfee in the past, and there is none of that negative option billing to your credit card dodginess with AVG either.
The new Dell arrived, everything looked good except I neglected to specify in my Dell order that I didn’t want any pre-loaded ‘free’ anti-virus software - so the first order of business was to remove McAfee. Little did I realize to successfully remove all remnants of McAfee I had to go to their website and download the mcpr.exec removal tool after I completed the uninstall otherwise, a resident shell would remain on my hard drive…
I knew enough that when I went to download my AVG that I had to turn Windows Defender off. The download appeared to go well except when AVG went to load, I got an AVG Tray Monitor Error 0xc0150004. I removed AVG and rebooted the machine and tried again. Same result. Then I tried again. Same result. I tried just about everything I could think of. I reached out to others I knew who were running Vista and AVG. I scanned the forums and tried to follow every conceivable scenario suggested. It appears, this particular issue error number is relatively recent although other tray monitor errors have happened before. Finally, I found the solution on a UK forum and I am going to share it in a more ‘dummies’ way for the computer challenged like myself.
First thing, uninstall AVG, reboot your computer and do an immediate backup.
Click on the Vista Start Orb/button.
Click into the ‘Start Search’ box at the bottom and type ‘regedit’, hit enter.
Choose the ‘registry key’ directory which should open up other sub-directories and look for the following
Eventually, each directory will take you to a long series of code. Look for this line exactly -
Use your mouse to highlight just that line of code. Then hit delete - but don‘t take out any other line. Then get the frack out of all the directories you have opened without touching any other line of code - asap. Re-start your computer. Now go and reload AVG and you should be good to go - well I was.
As I understand it, the problem lies because AVG recognizes this line of code, thinks its installed and skips over it in the installation process except it isn’t really installed. Hence, the tray monitor issue error. Think of it as a kind of empty code - all shell, no substance. When you download and install AVG after deleting this line of code AVG won’t see it and skip over it this time but will then download and install the code correctly.
If this doesn’t work for you - aren’t you glad I told you to back-up your computer before you did anything else?
All is fair in love and politics in Lebanon providing - you don't have to live with the daily result
Lebanese Telecommunication Minister Gibran Bassil accused Israel on Tuesday of causing massive disruptions in cellular communication in the country ahead and on Election Day on Sunday. conference at his office Bassil claimed that inquiries conducted by his ministry revealed Israel was responsible for jamming cellular signals and interrupting communication among private users, defense officials, political activists and embassies. Bassil said he asked Lebanon's foreign minister to issue a formal complaint with the UN regarding the alleged disruption.The second comes from the CBC news report which might suggest the March 14th Coalition victory might owe more to do with Saudi largess rather winning the hearts and minds of the Lebanese who actually live in Lebanon and have to live with the result.
Canadians who are flying to Lebanon on free plane tickets provided by party supporters could tip the difference in a close parliamentary election in that country. Corporate sponsors are paying for hundreds of supporters of the pro-Western Future Movement in Calgary and in other Canadian cities to vote on June 7, CBC News has learned. Dual citizens must be physically present in Lebanon to cast a ballot in its elections.Indeed. I am no Hezbollah fan but I still take a very dim view of foreign funding in anyone's election.
"This is a big election, and it is a lot of people who [would] love to vote but they cannot vote because of funds … so those companies are making it easy for them," said Faouzi Salem, a Future Movement co-ordinator in Calgary.
"There [are] sponsors in the world who [pay] for those tickets … European companies, Middle Eastern companies who … they would love to see free Lebanon, independent Lebanon. They want to see democratic government in the future, so they're dedicating all their supports." The party has rented an office in a Calgary mosque where volunteers have been working to match people of Lebanese descent with tickets to Beirut.
Sam Hammoud's uncle is one of the people flying to Lebanon for the election. "It's the sense that I have a say in my own country. I still have ties to my own country, whether I live here or not," said Hammoud. "He said, 'why not, why not?' So he's going. All he has to do is vote and head right back home to Canada."
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
After interviewing dozens of war victims and poring through the files of human rights groups, a veteran UN war crimes investigator acknowledged that his probe into possible crimes by Israel and Hamas is unlikely to lead to prosecutions.You know, I am weeping big fat crocodile tears over this one. Meanwhile there is always Sri Lanka and the Tamils...opps, I forgot - cross it off the list too.
Israel has refused to cooperate, depriving his team access to military sources and victims of Hamas rockets. And Hamas security often accompanied his team during their five-day trip to Gaza last week, raising questions about the ability of witnesses to freely describe the militant group's actions.
But the chief barrier remains the lack of a court with jurisdiction to hear any resulting cases. "From a practical political point of view, I wish I could be optimistic," Judge Richard Goldstone said, citing the legal and political barriers to war crimes trials.
I am not sure I am buying this 'new' terrorist group and find it a mite convenient for Hamas not to take the blame for another 'failed' attack. If you are anything like me you are wondering why PETA is so silent about booby-trapping horses? Possibly they have not recovered from protesting our Governor-General.
An Israel Defense Forces' investigation into a major terror attack thwarted Monday morning south of the Karni crossing in the Gaza Strip revealed that the gunmen, believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, arrived at the crossing with several trucks and at least five horses loaded with explosive devices and mines.
According to the army, it is possible that the gunmen had planned to kidnap a soldier. A new organization called "the army of Allah's supporters" claimed responsibility for the foiled terror attack. The organization said it would release details about the attack later in the day. About 10 to 12 terrorists took the horses off the truck and began planting the devices near the fence. At this stage, they were spotted by an IDF force and began firing at soldiers from Golani's 13th Regiment.
The troops fired back, and the terrorists tried to escape and return the horses into the truck. At least four gunmen were killed in the battle. The force chose not to enter the Strip for fear of an abduction trap, and the army sent warplanes and tanks to the area instead.
Monday, June 08, 2009
The Lebanese held an election and the results prove Hezbollah is not yet Lebanon - even with the shameful alliance of former General Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement. While some may credit the March 14th alliance win was helped by the Maronite Christian Patriarch speaking out against the pro-Syrian/Hezbollah alliances, I think it far more likely the Patriarch was simply echoing the feeling of most Christian Lebanese. Beirut Daily Star
Official results are not yet published but by all accounts the March 14th Coalition has only increased its majority slightly. In practicality, this means very little has changed from the last parliament except that Hezbollah’s Christian allies were unable to deliver the votes necessary for a more powerful Hezbollah block in parliament.
BEIRUT: Lebanon's opposition conceded defeat against the March 14 coalition in pivotal polls Sunday after weeks of fierce campaigning. "We've lost the election," a senior opposition source, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. "We accept the result as the will of the people." "We'll go back to the way we were," the source added.
The opposition source said the March 14 coalition is expected to ensure between 69 and 70 seats in the 128 parliament. The number matches figures predicted by the March 14 Forces.
(…)The 2009 electoral battle centered in Christian districts, since the results of almost 100 seats of the assembly were decided in advance. As The Daily Star went to press, unofficial results showed the March 14 Forces won by a clean sweep the districts of Beirut I, Batroun, Koura, and Bsharreh, and Tripoli.
According to unofficial results, Prime Minster Fouad Siniora won a parliamentary seat in the coastal city of Sidon. Preliminary results also showed the March 14 Forces as having a chance to win the Bekaa town of Zahle's seven seats. According to unofficial results, the Free Patriotic Movement won all seats in the districts of Kesrouan, Jbeil, Baabda and Jezzine. The results of another decisive district, Metn were still unclear at dawn on Sunday.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
My teenagers were completely blasé about the show and were more shocked to learn that I had no idea this is the kind of thing is considered standard fare on cable stations. Obviously, I don’t watch enough television. Forget about the unseemliness and vulgarity of the human experience being reduced to a reality show, and ask yourself; how and when did this kind of transition happen? I swear, some days I wake up and wonder how I became such a stranger in a strange land without ever leaving the country.
I was cleaning up the house and discovered a booklet distributed which offered a clue to how these transitions are made right under our noses. It was given out in my youngest son’s grade 9 Canadian Geography course. He has to keep it as his teacher advised him some of the material may end up on his geography exam but he did let me take pictures.
If you thought Canadian Geography was a nice ‘safe’ subject and would not present much of an opportunity for so-called progressives crew to put into practice a bit of ‘social engineering’ - it just shows your ignorance. The booklet – Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating’ distributed by the Vegan Outreach Organization based in Arizona. Not only was it distributed in my son’s Canadian Geography, it was presented with a guest speaker who also gave a little speech and was prepared to answer every possible question they might have or want to know about ‘vegan’ living.
How this relates to Canadian Geography is a bit of a stretch but then I am old school and thought Canadian geography course material would deal primarily with the physical geological composition of the country. It did when I took the course in the seventies – my fracking bad. If it was to be offered anywhere I would have thought ‘health’ classes might have been a better fit…oh well and so it goes. The pamphlet ends with a quote by Peter Singer of Animal Liberation. Of course, no one representing Canadian dairy producers or from the Canadian Association of Beef Cattle Farmers was invited to speak to ‘offer’ balance.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
IDF soldiers who raid the homes of Palestinians are more polite than the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, the mother of a top Hamas terrorist who was killed by Israel said over the weekend.Obviously, the Americans have a great more to 'sensitivity' training to do for the Palestinian Security forces.
The mother was speaking shortly after security forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas stormed her family's house in the village of Rafat in the West Bank.
Her son, Yihye Ayyash, nicknamed The Engineer, was responsible for a spate of suicide bombings in the 1990s that killed more than 100 Israelis and wounded hundreds others.
The mother said that about 30 Palestinian security officers participated in the raid early Friday. "They behaved in a shameful way," she said. "When the Jews come, they ask for permission and cry out before they enter a house." She said that Abbas's security forces acted in a "barbaric" manner and did not take into account that women and children were sleeping inside the house.
The Palestinian policemen did not even knock on the door, she added. "They raided the house and started searching for weapons," she said. "They left behind a lot of damage. Even a copy of the Koran was not spared."
Friday, June 05, 2009
Posting has been spotty this week as I have been busy using my time pursuing other interests - mainly drawing and reading. Besides, I am tired of going to bed every night only to dreaming of painting, and when I wake, the longing to paint is almost overwhelming... but there is so little time in which to paint. Something had to give, and this week, it was blogging. Next week - who knows? So it's apt that this week's song is Leonard Cohen's Like a Bird on a Wire.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Be that as it may, it’s hard for me to look at this speech as ‘a new beginning’ and for outreach efforts it gets a failing grade. Look, if Obama was interested in true outreach to the Muslim world his speech wouldn’t be given from Egypt, or in Saudi Arabia, UAE or any other gulf state, but in Pakistan, Afghanistan or even in a Muslim area of India. There, his speech would have true meaning rather just show of much touchy-feelie hot air. He has said very little different that George W. Bush hasn’t said a hundred times already from more or less than same safe spots. Furthermore, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states already enjoy relatively decent relations with the United States.
So if Muslims in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iran heard this same speech given from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and saw an American President who felt deeply enough to come to where the American-Muslims relations are at their most contentious and offer a hand in friendship – this would have been a true outreach which would have had the potential to reap unlimited good-will. Instead, watch the Obama Administration garner very few brownie points in the places which Americans need goodwill the most.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
A six-year-old girl helped put a knife-brandishing robber under arrest Tuesday night after the man had already successfully stolen money from two grown men. The Dan District Police Station registered two complaints on Tuesday by apartment owners in Ramat Gan, saying a man threatened them with a knife and took money from them.This child needs to grow up and run the country.
The 51-year-old robber, also a Ramat Gan resident, then moved on to a third apartment. After he knocked on the door, a little girl opened it. When he demanded she leave the house, she refused and said she would call the police. He then threatened her with a knife, but the child got hold of a broom and hit him with it.
The man fled the scene, but after the girl described his appearance to the police, he was caught and arrested while still in possession of the knife he had used in the robberies.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
My particular Blue Screen of Death issue wouldn't let me reboot even in safe mode so I could determine where the problem lies. I eventually solved my problem but without a knowledge of DOS from the old days before Windows based operating systems my only options would be junking the hard drive and replacing it or send the machine into the shop. Neither idea particularly appealed to me. Everything is running properly - for now.
But I just don't have any urge to blog this morning. Perhaps, I will later or not.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser has initiated an amendment in a new motion referred to as the "Nakba law", which was approved last by the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs and angered Israel's Arabs and Left.
According to the initiative, backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, activities marking the "catastrophe" of Israel's establishment will not be banned, but institutions encouraging such activities will not receive government funding.
So if you want to publicly mourn the founding of the Israeli state in Israel the worst which will happen is that your ‘ceremonies’ will no longer be subsidized on the Israeli taxpayer’s shekel which seems an entirely reasonable position to me.
Second, the so-called ‘Loyalty Oath’. Ynet News:
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation rejected Yisrael Beiteinu's loyalty bill Sunday, entering a majority vote against it. The loyalty bill was meant to be an amendment to Israel's Citizenship Act, and stated that anyone seeking an Israeli citizenship would have to pledge their allegiance to the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Other sections of the amendment demanded the pledge be a prerequisite to getting an Israeli ID and that the interior minister would have the power to revoke the citizenship of those failing to comply. The bill was opposed by the Likud, Labor, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi members on the committee, with only Yisrael Beiteinu members voting in favor. "I hope these kinds of motions will never be heard in the government again," Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman, who voted against the amendment, said Sunday.
So the proposed legislation was put to a vote and shot down in the cabinet meeting, consequently, the government will not be sponsoring or proposing this piece of legislation in the Israel Knesset which sounds entirely democratic to me although I wait with baited breath Stageleft’s explanation as to this doesn’t mean the bar for democratic process.
One of the Israeli gems of a writer I read regularly is Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations. I see I don’t have him in my sidebar (note to self, add YLR) but he is a regular read in my feeder for some time. Yaacov Lozowick explains the legislative map any proposed bill must travel through to become law in Israel. It is well worth the few minutes of anyone’s time but it is his ruminations at the end which I want to highlight.
All of which leaves the question, why try in the first place if everyone knows it won't happen? Why give the Guardian and the Juan Coles of this world unnecessary grist for their mills? A fine subject for a different post, someday. Though I will note that no matter how childish the politicians-media-NGO activists are, the foreign reporters who eagerly take only part of the story and use it to damn Israel shouldn't be exonerated. They could tell the same story I've just told you, but scrupulously won't, ever.
And oddly enough, progressive bloggers won’t tell it either.