Monday, January 31, 2011

Pakistan: Our Friend and Ally, Part 2

Rape as Punishment

Washington Post
By Mona Eltahawy
Pg B07
July 28, 2002

A Pakistan tribal council's horrific "punishment" by gang rape of a young woman last month was just the tip of a very ugly iceberg called honor.

In the name of that most elusive of concepts, women are shot, beheaded, burned, stoned and beaten. And, in the case of Saleema, raped.

Four men raped Saleema (not her real name) for more than an hour to ruin her honor and avenge that of another woman. (Saleema's 12-year-old brother had been in the company of a woman from a more powerful tribal family, apparently not by his own choice, and been summarily accused of having an affair with her). Hence the tribal council's "verdict" on his sister.

The Pakistan Human Rights Commission estimates that at least eight women, five of them minors, are reported raped every day; more than two-thirds of them are gang-raped.

In Pakistan rape is often used for revenge or punishment against an enemy. A woman is "defiled" to taint her family. What irony that a woman as powerless as Saleema carries the whole family's honor on her shoulders -- a heavy burden indeed.

It is one that is carried by women in countless Muslim countries, yet there is not a single word in the Koran that calls for death in the name of honor. Virginity before marriage and chastity afterward are the bulwarks of honor in societies where such killings prevail.

The mere suspicion that she has jeopardized that honor -- talking to a neighbor, being seen with a strange man, or even asking for a divorce -- can earn a woman a death sentence.

Some conservative Muslim clerics shamefully support honor killings. They accuse activists who fight to eradicate such crimes, often at risk of their own lives, of seeking to impose Western values upon their traditional societies.

What is so Western about wanting to end a barbaric cultural practice that leaves a woman damned if she does and damned if she doesn't?

In Yemen a few years ago, a man shot his daughter dead on her wedding night after her husband claimed she was not a virgin. At the mother's insistence, a doctor examined the young woman's body and found her to have been a virgin. Her husband was impotent and lied to protect his honor because he knew he would not be able to display a bloodied rag as proof of his bride's virginity.

According to UNICEF and Amnesty International statistics, more than 1,000 women were victims of honor killings in Pakistan in 1999. There were up to 400 honor killings in Yemen in 1997. The United Nations says such killings have also occurred in Britain, Norway, Italy, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela. At least one case has been reported in the United States.

One particularly gruesome killing had us dumbfounded as word of what happened came into the Cairo newsroom where I was working at the time. A young woman named Nora Ahmed had eloped. Her father had not approved of her choice of husband. When she returned to Cairo to try to change her father's mind he asked to speak with her privately. He then cut off her head and paraded it down a Cairo street, shouting "Now my family has regained its honor."

In 1997 some 52 honor killings were reported in Egypt. The actual figures in all of the countries I've cited are probably much higher because most honor killings go unreported.

What to do if clerics remain perversely silent about an ancient practice that is rooted in culture rather than religion? What to do when men who kill female relatives in the name of honor too often escape punishment or receive atrociously short sentences?

We must acknowledge the brave few who speak out. A village imam courageously condemned Saleema's rape in a Friday sermon, drawing journalists' attention.

A particularly useful weapon is embarrassment. In Saleema's case, local and international outcries led Pakistani authorities to arrest and charge all four suspected rapists. Several other people -- including a police officer -- are also in custody for allegedly failing to prevent the attack or hiding the suspects.

Two of the most courageous activists fighting honor killings are sisters Asma Jehangir and Hina Jilani. They are both lawyers and human rights activists who tirelessly champion women's rights despite death threats and a largely unsympathetic government.

Let's embarrass that government into prosecuting more of those who kill in the name of honor. Let's shame it into doing the honorable thing.


Pakistan: Our Friend and Ally

Just another culture, no better, no worse, just the same, equal ...

A culture and people have the right to decide what is best for them and no one has the right to judge that action.  Stay out of their business!

Pakistan pack rape as reform laws stall

Bruce Loudon, South Asia correspondent
The Australian September 19, 2006

REPORTS of yet another pack rape in Pakistan emerged over the weekend as plans to amend laws aimed at making it easier to punish rapists stalled in the Islamabad parliament because of opposition from ultra-conservative Islamic parties.

The News International said a mother and daughter in a rural area had been abducted and gang-raped for 12 days because the daughter continued her schooling in defiance of villagers in her home near Multan.

The newspaper said the daughter had recently attained a masters degree in education at the Bahauddin Zahariya University. Precise details of what happened are sketchy, but it appears that the girl's father was also attacked by the assailants and that police took 12 days to act and save the women.

Reports of the rape claimed involvement by "a minister of state" but did not name him.

The case recalls that of Mukhtaran Mai, a woman who was imprisoned after she was raped in June 2002. She was freed only after intervention by the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Her case caused a global outcry at the time and highlighted the injustice of Pakistan's Islamic Hudood Ordinances, which criminalise all sex outside marriage.

Under the ordinances, unless the complainant in a rape case produces four male witnesses to support her claims, she will herself face punishment.

As a result, it has been almost impossible to prosecute rape cases, and thousands of Pakistani victims of rape are languishing in jail.

According to Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, a woman is raped every two hours and there is a gang rape every eight hours in Pakistan.

The Hudood Ordinances were introduced 17 years ago when the then military dictator General Zia ul-Haq was installing shariah law in Pakistan as a way of impressing his conservative Islamic backers at home and abroad.

Successive governments - including civilian administrations headed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawz Sharif - failed to change the Hudood Ordinances, despite persistent pressure from human rights groups.

Meanwhile, in India, more than 100 prominent intellectuals and others have launched a campaign against longstanding laws that outlaw homosexuality.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Canadians: US (partly) responsible for 9/11

Majority thinks U.S. partly to blame for Sept. 11

Ottawa Bureau Chief; Source: Ipsos-Reid
Saturday, September 7, 2002
The Globe and Mail

A vast majority of Canadians believes the United States bears at least some responsibility for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because of U.S. policies in the Middle East and around the globe, according to a Globe and Mail/CTV poll.

And a significant, but smaller, majority said Canada is doing enough to support the United States in the war on terrorism, the Ipsos-Reid survey released yesterday says.

The poll was released as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien prepares to head to New York next week for the first anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center that killed almost 3,000 civilians.

On Monday, Mr. Chrétien will meet U.S. President George W. Bush in Detroit to discuss border security and ways to relieve congestion caused by increased vigilance at the border. The two leaders also are expected to talk about U.S. threats to attack Iraq and topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Bush is trying to build support from U.S. allies for an attack, and has won a promise of help from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but not from Mr. Chrétien.

Mr. Chrétien has been criticized -- particularly in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 -- for being cautious in his support for the U.S. antiterrorism effort.

In an interview with CTV's Question Period to be aired on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley echoes Mr. Chrétien's doubts about whether Iraq should be a target in the war on terrorism.

"We haven't been in the camp with Tony Blair and others who say there should be a pre-emptive attack," Mr. Manley said. "We've said there should be, in order to consider this part of the war against terrorism, evidence that Iraq is somehow connected to al-Qaeda.

"We have not signed on for the change-the-regime movement in Iraq," Mr. Manley said.

Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said the Bush administration recognizes that it needs to persuade many of its allies about its case against Iraq.

"We've said all along we are ready to make the case," Mr. Cellucci said. "That's what the President will be doing next week."

But John Wright, vice-president of Ipsos-Reid, said Mr. Chrétien has better reflected the public mood in Canada than the more bellicose opposition leaders and pundits have.

In the Ipsos-Reid survey -- which polled 1,000 Canadians last week -- 69 per cent of respondents said the U.S. shares some of the responsibility for the attacks, while 15 per cent said all of the responsibility sits on American shoulders. The attacks killed thousands of civilians and U.S. military personnel at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

Fourteen per cent said the United States does not bear any responsibility for the attacks.

In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, critics were pilloried for suggesting the United States bore some responsibility for the attacks, and Mr. Wright said U.S. pollsters will not ask the question.

But he said the poll suggests Canadians recognize that the projection of military might around the world comes with a price tag, even as many Americans struggle to understand why they were attacked.

"I think this is Canadians saying, 'You are bound to get stung when you stick your hand in the hornets' nest looking for honey,' " Mr. Wright said. "But I don't think this is evidence of people saying they deserved what they got at all."

He said there has been considerable evidence that U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies did not act on a series of warnings.

He said Canadians generally support the government's efforts to tighten security at home and send troops to Afghanistan but share the government's caution on Iraq.

Sixty-one per cent of those surveyed said Ottawa has done enough to support the United States in the war on terrorism, while 24 per cent said it has not done enough; 14 per cent said it has done too much.

Eighty-three per cent of Canadians believe that the massive United-States-led bombardment of Afghanistan has failed Mr. Bush's stated aim to kill or capture al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Who's to blame?

1,003 Canadians were asked the following questions:

How much responsibility do think the United States, with its policies and actions, bears for the terrorist attacks on them?

All 15%
Some 69%
None 14%
Don't know 2%

Now, since the events of September 11, 2001, the federal government has done a number of things to deal with Canada's national security and economy. How much do you feel the federal government has supported the United States and its war on terrorism?

Too much 14%
Not enough 24%
Enough 61%
Don't know 2%

Figures are rounded off


Canada to US: It's Not Our Fault We're Morally Superior

Not at all arrogant.  Not at all pedantic.  Not at all disrespectful, boastful, or obnoxious.

It's not our fault we're morally superior to U.S.

[Ontario Edition]
Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont.
Richard Gwyn
 Dec 8, 2002
Start Page: A.19
Section: OPINION
Text Word Count: 753

Without intending to — his effect was actually the exact opposite of his intent — Deputy Prime Minister John Manley was praising Canadians lavishly the other day when he scolded them for harbouring a feeling of "moral superiority" toward Americans.

In fact, he's largely right in his description. Not that Canadians are morally superior to Americans, or to anyone. Our principal superior quality is that we are a lot luckier than anyone else — lots of natural wealth, lots of space, no enemies, no superpower or colonial responsibilities. (Calling the U.S. president a "moron" is, to get that out of the way early, utterly moronic.)

But a fair number of Canadians do feel morally superior to Americans. Manley, who has a distinctly schoolmasterly tone whenever pronouncing on this topic — earlier he called Canadians "immature" in their attitudes toward Americans — said this was "a sign of our insecurity."

In his diagnosis, he is dead wrong. Doubly dead wrong.

First, for Canadians to feel this way, even if wholly unjustified, is a sign of national self-confidence. It makes us unique in the world.

Lots of others resent Americans, envy them, wish they'd get out of their faces. Some people hate Americans. Many others love them. Lots of people both love them and hate them.

Only Canadians, though, dare to feel morally superior to them.

It's quite challenging to understand why we should be so bold. My own guess is it's because we feel we are better North Americans than they are; that is, we jointly possess most of the essential attributes of being a North American — optimism, love of freedom, a sense of limitless possibilities — but, in addition, have done a better job of being a collective, of having a sense of solidarity.

However you parse all of that, a lot of Canadians feel in no way inferior to Americans, even while immensely admiring their energy, their competitiveness, their boldness, their patriotism.

The big exception to this rule is the right-wing, neo-cons who want Canadians to become as indistinguishable as possible from Americans (two-tier medicine and the rest).

If all of this is good for us — certainly a lot better than our traditional, self-deprecatory foot-shuffling — it's also good for Americans.

They are absolutely certain they are superior to everyone else. Americans absorb with their mothers' milk a conviction that they are an exceptional nation, a city on the hill, a light unto others.

And then at the very moment when all of these presumptions do seem close to being confirmed — America as today's Rome — there comes from the distant, frigid north, a voice saying, "No. We're better."

What's so terrible about that? Is Manley saying that Americans cannot stand to be challenged, that they would collapse into self- doubt if another people say steadily, insistently, that the American way isn't necessarily the absolute best way?

A legitimate source of concern to worrywarts like Manley is that there should be a rise in anti-Americanism in Canada at a time when Americans are so patriotic and so likely to take offence.

Except that anti-Americanism is on the decline in Canada. As it should be.

[Not from all the evidence]

A huge international poll on attitudes toward the U.S. was released days ago in Washington. In most countries there has been a distinct deterioration in the U.S. image since the last comparable poll, in 1999/2000 or before the attacks on New York.

In Italy, support for the U.S. has dropped from 76 per cent to 70 per cent, in Germany from 78 per cent to 61 per cent, in Britain from 83 per cent to 75 per cent. In Muslim states — unsurprisingly — support has plummeted, down to 10 per cent in Pakistan.

Canada is one of the very few exceptions. Here, the U.S.' favourable image has inched up, from 71 per cent to 72 per cent.

This doesn't mean anti-American stupidities don't exist here. But specific examples are difficult to find. Often, they are merely criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, which, even if unjustified, are perfectly proper to make, in contrast to boneheaded generalities about the American way of life.

Back to the main point. Quite a few Canadians do feel morally superior to Americans. If that nettles some Americans, good — it might help them to understand how the rest of the world feels about Americans' overwhelming presumption of superiority to everyone and everything. As a bonus, it's good for Canadians to feel cocky in a thoroughly un-Canadian way.

[So everyone else is allowed to, gets a pass, when they say or behave badly because it is un like them, but if Americans act aggresively on any issue ... we are, as always bullies. Given the number of articles I have posted about Canada and their small issue with attitudes, at what point is it typically Canadian?]


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Canadian Immigration Policy: More like a whale net than a fishing net.

A year or so ago, DHS Secretary Napolitano made a statement I was critical of - and rightly so, but for different reasons, ultimately, than the one I now make - several terrorists have crossed the border into the US from Canada.  I criticized her at the time and in some ways it is irony - given Obama's position on immigration and allowing anyone into this country, they should not be bothered by who crosses into the US from Canada.  On another level, our security - up until 5-6 years ago Canada had no tangible policy on foreigners being expelled from Canada.  You land in Canada, often without a passport (in part because the host country really wanted you to leave) and claim refugee status.  The Canadian Immigration people take them aside, have them fill out paperwork, question them, hand then credits for room and board, give them a notice informing them they need to show up for an immigration hearing in 45 days, and smile and tell them to have a good day, eh.  Nearly 95% never showed up for any hearing.  I am willing to bet many simply crossed into the US (their original intent).

Leading terror suspect tied to Canadian cell

Imad Mugniyah: Academic fears operations could be launched 'in and from' Canada

Stewart Bell
National Post
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Authorities in the United States believe that one of the world's most wanted men is behind a Canadian terrorist cell that has raised money, falsified documents and bought military equipment for the Lebanese group, Hezbollah.

The agents dispatched to Canada to garner support for the terrorist group are now suspected by the United States of working for Imad Mugniyah, a senior Hezbollah leader and the suspected mastermind of attacks worldwide.

Despite a US$25-million reward posted by the FBI, Mr. Mugniyah remains on the loose and is reportedly planning strikes against U.S. and Israeli targets in retaliation for any American military action in Iraq.

Kenneth Bell, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer prosecuting a Hezbollah cell that uses Canada as a base, told the National Post he is convinced the Lebanese-Canadian operatives were working for Mr. Mugniyah.

The U.S. claim that Mr. Mugniyah's agents have established a clandestine network in Canada may add fuel to the ongoing debate over whether Ottawa should ban the Hezbollah under the new counterterrorism law.

While the Opposition wants the government to outlaw Hezbollah outright, Bill Graham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he will not impose sanctions on the group [as the U.S. has done] because of its social and political activities.

"Imad Mr. Mugniyah is a key Hezbollah operational commander," said Martin Rudner, director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

"Reports of his presence at a recent Hezbollah-led planning meeting of terrorist groups at a remote region of South America could signal an intention to extend Hezbollah terrorist operations in the Western Hemisphere," he said.

"In such a scenario, Imad Mugniyah's control over a Canadian Hezbollah network could presage the launching of terrorist operations in and from this country."

Mr. Mugniyah is the alleged head of the Hezbollah security apparatus and is wanted in the United States for planning and taking part in the 1985 hijacking of a commercial airliner that left an American dead, according to the FBI.

He is also thought to have been behind a lengthy list of terror attacks spanning the past two decades, including the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina.

Mr. Bell said what convinced him of Mr. Mugniyah's involvement in Canada was a fax intercepted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- a message sent by Mohamad Hassan Dbouk, a Hezbollah agent in Vancouver, to his boss in Lebanon, Hassan Laqis.

"Dbouk sent one of these Palm Pilots to Laqis and the closing line to this was, 'I want you to know that I will do anything I can for you and the father, and I mean anything,' " Mr. Bell said. He believes the term "the father" referred to Mr. Mugniyah.

Later, in a telephone conversation monitored by CSIS agents, Mr. Dbouk admonished his alleged accomplice and brother-in-law, Ali Adham Amhaz, a resident of Burnaby, B.C., for mentioning the name Haj Imad on the phone.

"What a terribly dangerous thing to say," Mr. Dbouk said in the June 2, 1999, conversation. "Would anyone bring up Imad's name here or in any other country and stay alive?"

A CSIS report on the conversation said Mr. Dbouk referred to Haj Imad as "the whole story" and advised Mr. Amhaz to deny knowing the man. "Dbouk cautioned Amhaz to be careful and to pretend to know nothing," CSIS wrote.

Mr. Bell said he believes the Haj Imad mentioned in these exchanges is Mr. Mugniyah. According to Mr. Mugniyah's FBI "most wanted" poster, he uses the alias Hajj.

He is now believed to be living in southern Lebanon or Iran, but lately his name has surfaced in connection with planning in South America for a new wave of attacks against the United States and Israel.

Last week, authorities alleged that Mr. Mugniyah was directing al-Qaeda sympathizers based in the tri-border area at the junction of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The plan is to launch attacks within Western countries if the U.S. military moves against Iraq.

There are only two known photographs of Mr. Mugniyah and some [people] deny he even exists. He may have had plastic surgery to disguise his appearance. Intelligence officials say all documents about his past were systematically stolen or destroyed in an attempt to erase his identity, but he is believed to have been born in Tayr Dibba, Lebanon, on July, 12, 1962.

After training with Yasser Arafat's Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, he fought in Lebanon's civil war and later served in Mr. Arafat's personal body guard, Force 17.

He is credited with establishing an Iranian-backed international terrorist network that operates within Western countries to help fulfill Hezbollah's goal of destroying Israel and establishing Islamic rule in the Middle East.

CSIS evidence presented in Federal Court called Mr. Mugniyah "an extremely violent man." A Hezbollah member caught in Canada in 1993 told CSIS agents that Hezbollah's political leaders would use Mr. Mugniyah to carry out operations outside Lebanon.

"When he joined Hezbollah -- by the way, he is a very fierce fighter -- they carried out many bombings and assassinations," Mohamed Hussein al-Husseini told CSIS. "Imad Mr. Mugniyah's group operates in great secrecy. He commands a number of men."


Canadian Women: Clueless and Amoral

Feminists anti-US speech causes uproar

Peter O'Neil

Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, October 02, 2001
Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- A B.C. feminist told a cheering audience here that the United States government is more threatening to the world than international terrorism.

Sunera Thobani received several standing ovations from about 500 delegates attending the Women's Resistance Conference on Monday.

[Standing ovation - the 500 women attending this hate speech, should be given 1st class tickets to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Iraq ... one way tickets.]

Her comments caused a political uproar, with opposition MPs condemning Secretary of State Hedy Fry for sitting silently as Thobani spoke. MPs called on the government to fire Fry, charging that she should have
immediately condemned Thobani's statements.

"Today in the world the United States is the most dangerous and the most powerful global force unleashing horrific levels of violence," said Thobani, a women's studies professor at the University of British Columbia and former head of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

"From Chile to El Salvador to Nicaragua to Iraq, the path of U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood."

Thobani said she empathizes with the human suffering following the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania that left more than 6,000 people dead or missing. "But do we feel any pain for the victims of U.S. aggression?"

In an interview with The Vancouver Sun Monday night, Thobani said her comments were directed at George Bush, not the American people.

"I made a 40-minute speech. I provided a contest for those comments. I was basically advocating an end to war," she said.

"If America wants to lead this war, then I'm against American foreign policy."

In her speech, Thobani also ridiculed any suggestion that the U.S. would be advancing women's rights by ousting Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which has forbidden women from working, attending school, or showing their faces in public.   "It's really interesting to hear this talk about saving Afghani women," she said. "Those of us who have been colonized know what this saving means."

And what colonizing has the US done you quaga.

The Tanzanian-born Thobani became the first non-white president of the NAC in 1993, a position she held until 1996.

As the outspoken leader of the NAC, Thobani created much controversy when she said in 1995 that only white, middle-class women had benefited from the feminist movement.

Monday she said women will never be emancipated until the U.S. and the West stop dominating the world.

"The West for 500 years has believed that it could slaughter people into submission and it has not been able to do so. And it will not be able to so this time, either."

[The women in Canada need a new leader and a new idea because this woman is a moral idiot.]

After Thobani's speech, opposition MPs said Fry, the Chretien government's secretary of state for multiculturalism and the status of women, who also delivered a speech at the conference and was on the podium while Thobani spoke, should have sent an immediate message that the speech went too far.

"She should apologize to Canadians and our American cousins for not condemning these comments and walking out on this insulting and inflammatory speech," said Chuck Strahl, deputy leader of the Tory-Democratic Representative coalition.

New Democratic Party leader Alexa McDonough, whose party was once a close ally of NAC's, said Fry should have offered "an unequivocal rejection of the kind of cheap sloganeering, of the excessive rhetoric.

"This is a time to be building tolerance, to be building bridges, not to create greater divisions," McDonough said. Fry defended freedom of speech within Canada, but said she didn't applaud and immediately left the event after Thobani spoke.

"I condemn that speech," the Vancouver Centre MP told jeering opposition MPs.  "I thought the speech that was made by the expert of NAC to be incitement."

Opposition MPs said Fry, who wrongly portrayed Prince George as a haven for cross-burning racists earlier this year, has made one too many blunders and must be fired.

"The history of this minister is not a very happy one and I think it is time for a change," said Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day.

McDonough said Fry doesn't have the credibility to travel across Canada and speak publicly against intolerance.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Obama Backing Egyptian Opposition

One has to wonder.  Does he have a Carter playbook?

The Telegraph
By Tim Ross, Matthew Moore and Steven Swinford
9:23PM GMT 28 Jan 2011

Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising

The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

The secret document in full

He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.

The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office.

The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.

Mr Mubarak, facing the biggest challenge to his authority in his 31 years in power, ordered the army on to the streets of Cairo yesterday as rioting erupted across Egypt.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in open defiance of a curfew. An explosion rocked the centre of Cairo as thousands defied orders to return to their homes. As the violence escalated, flames could be seen near the headquarters of the governing National Democratic Party.

Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

At least five people were killed in Cairo alone yesterday and 870 injured, several with bullet wounds. Mohamed ElBaradei, the pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was placed under house arrest after returning to Egypt to join the dissidents. Riots also took place in Suez, Alexandria and other major cities across the country.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged the Egyptian government to heed the “legitimate demands of protesters”. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she was “deeply concerned about the use of force” to quell the protests.

In an interview for the American news channel CNN, to be broadcast tomorrow, David Cameron said: “I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean, we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of the democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.”

The US government has previously been a supporter of Mr Mubarak’s regime. But the leaked documents show the extent to which America was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.

In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.

The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”

It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.

Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier.

The protests in Egypt are being driven by the April 6 youth movement, a group on Facebook that has attracted mainly young and educated members opposed to Mr Mubarak. The group has about 70,000 members and uses social networking sites to orchestrate protests and report on their activities.

The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.



The End of Mubarak and the Possible Future for the World

Some people get a small thrill when they are correct about someone in their judgment, or about something that tends to prove itself accurate later, while other people tended to ignore the events or people. Whether it is about that neighbor who is lifting large sacks out of his garage late at night and dumping them in his trunk for late night drive-aways, or on more macro issues like Iran, Israel, the Palestinians, or Egypt. One writer I believe is amazing good – Caroline Glick. Her articles on Israel are brilliant and where analysis comes in, it is either very accurate or as layers are peeled away through the actions of Iran, Hezbollah, or Israel, they are seen to be accurate at a later time.

I do not see the same, as yet (and it is almost mid-way through) in regard to Egypt. Despots and the sort, hold power through fear. You increase the pressure enough that everyone runs and hides and those who remain standing are collected and disposed of (which increases the fear). It works quite well in North Korea. Yet North Korea is not the norm for the average despotic regime. The ‘norm’ is much less time – the USSR lasted relatively few years longer than N Korea – whether the Philippines, China, Haiti, Cuba, Vietnam, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, and now in Egypt. The African regimes have tended to develop slightly different and for varied reasons.

In the Philippines, the people deposed their despot. In China and Vietnam, the governments morphed into something not quite communist and not capitalist, not closed but certainly not open … and they have survived and done quite well. In other countries, their despot was not as prescient – Iraq, Tunisia, Iran, and now in Egypt (despite Biden saying otherwise, Mubarak is – after 30 years, he is no longer the representative of the Egyptian people, he is a dictator). We saw democracy bloom in the Philippines. In Cuba, Castro has made a huge U turn, one of the longest and slowest – to where he now admits that communism as an economic system does not work.

These despots or despotic regimes either must morph into a hybrid despotic-but-smile sometimes-regime, or ultimately they are swept into the dustbin of history. The longest lasting King that we are aware of in history – ancient history – is Sargon, King of the Akkadians. He ruled for 55 years and is the model for despotic regimes. To remain King more than 4000 years ago, one did not do so by birth and blood, but rather by sword. And 4000 years ago, everyone had a sword – the slave could find a knife, the handmaiden, the door guard … so King Sargon had to have been very good at analyzing people in mere seconds – he had to stab his adjutant before the adjutant stabbed him. He also employed an intelligence service and army to collect anyone who posed a threat to his regime. Much like Mubarak.

Personally, I find Mubarak in Egypt and Hussein in Jordan to be relics of a time long past. They are not alone – Kim should have gone long ago and Castro is 25 years past his ‘best used by’ date. Gabon just saw the end of a 40+ year reign by Omar Bongo – he was probably 30 years past his ‘best used by date’. Muammar al-Gaddafi is another – he took power in 1969 – way past his date due. Cameroon is another country where they need to clean out the closet and throw out the old bones that have been sitting in there for over 30 years. Still, another country led by a man who woke up every morning knowing he was not unemployed – Yemen. Ali Saleh has been sitting on that piece of very valuable land (strategically) for more than 30 years. In fact, with the exception of Castro and Kim, there are 4 or 5 men who don’t know the meaning of retirement, and all of them ‘lead’ a country on the continent of Africa (which is an entirely different issue).

Still, we see the slow unfolding of the end of Mubarak, and the Left are cheering the coming Democracy. They are also making snide comments about Republicans and Conservatives – why aren’t they as happy with events in Egypt as they were to rush to war in Iraq to bring regime change. Simple people live with simple thoughts and the Left are by and large, simple-minded (in the 1930’s sort of understanding of that word!!!).

None of us want a dictator or tyrant ruling us or anyone, but if it is between a communist North Korea and an authoritarian tyrant, I choose the tyrant. If it is between a Mubarak (who I have no special feelings for and wouldn’t have minded if he had been among those killed along side Sadat in 1981, but we deal with the cards we are played, we don’t get to change decks) and a fascist Islamist state – I choose Mubarak. Liberals would interject – but why is it either or, why can’t it be various other options, like democracy. Simple lives in a simple world. In a peaceful and stable world, it would be – bad and good, evil and saintly … but we don’t live in that world and neither do the bad guys who want to kill us. They live in our world. Unlike the Nightmare series of movies, Freddie only lived in the dream world. His victims were safe in the real world, but when they fell into that state between sleep and wakefulness, they were pulled into the nightmares and Freddy ruled. Our Freddy is real and he is not locked in the dream state where liberals live, but he is all over the place – Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran … and they do not go peacefully into the night.

Mubarak’s police – that precarious line in civilian control, when the police refuse to follow the laws and the leaders who issue those laws, civil society is no longer civil society, it is in a nether region, like that world where Freddy’s victims find themselves prior to being pulled into the nightmare – a nether region where no one is in control, and Mubarak sent in the army. The end was near, all that was required was a few finishing touches.

If the army goes in, it is no longer, under any pretense, a civilian government as Egypt has pretended they have for 30+ years. You have no idea what percentage of police have been corrupted or lost, so you must take complete control – now you have all the police unemployed and ready for service to whomever pays the most (whether actual or anticipated). At that point you must rely upon your military to wrest control from whomever it is you want control taken away from, or returned to (in this case returned to Mubarak).

So Mubarak sent the army in, the police were taking off their uniforms and siding with the people. Then we heard the army gave up areas it had been fighting to hold on to all day, and the opposition took control, while the army pulled back. The coffin has been built and set out on the table, all we need is the deceased.

It is not a choice between Mubarak and free elections and a happy El Baradei … that man, Mohammad ElBaradei is why Israel (returning to Caroline Glick) is where it is – he single handedly, well with the help of an inept UN, gave Iran the time it needed for the nuclear program. Whether it is called the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaida, or some other named group – the Islamists are waiting to step in, seize control (and they will) and among other things, rescind any treaty with Israel, and possess one of the most advanced military weapons systems in the world. A sobering thought – for all of us.

But liberals are quite pleased, if only to rub it in the faces of conservatives – why not support this movement, it is people overthrowing an unjust tyrant – like Iraq. They live in such a simple world. If this were the 19th century and they lived on the Vanatu islands, fine – it wouldn’t matter how delusional they were, but we live in a world where we may not always enjoy the people we must sleep with, but to (in our collective opinion) save our culture, children, freedom – we sleep with some unsavory characters, and Mubarak was one of them.

The sarcophagus now has its occupant, the lid has been lowered. All that is left to do is seal it and put it into place. We will all find out shortly if Mubarak even survives this, or cares, given his health issues. Obama – he has been betting on the opposition, aiding and assisting El Baradei. Makes perfect sense – Islamists on Israel’s southern border, and enemies of the West controlling the Suez Canal. Obama is happy though.

There are many variables and any one of them could change the outcome - the military could take control and ruthlessly erase the opposition leadership ... or the Islamists could take power and a monumental shift would occur in our war against Islamic extremism. 

Yet there will be calls by the erudite masses, who will remind us that none of what happens is our business, so stay out of it.  Again, a world of fancy and pixie dust.  I concur - in this fantasy world (of which I spent some time a few days ago - it is called Disneyland) we have no business even talking to other countries unless they call us or we would like to trade our widgets for their spokes.  This is not that world and while the erudite would like us to stay out - the Islamists will not and they will take control while we stand back and shrug our shoulders - none of our responsibility, none of our business.  Until we have to get involved and many thousands die.  The erudite will remind us that over 150,000 died in Algeria when the 'West' refused to accept the Islamist win in 1990-1991.  Yes, I suppose the US and the 'West' refusing to accept the result made the Islamists kill their opponents and vice versa - we forced them to kill.  Maybe we even gave them the weapons to kill each other.

Disneyland and Disneyworld should be the only places we find fantasyland - not in the White House or the media.


Things that irk

'Let me begin by saying' I would like to ....

There is no reason to either state what you will tell me, nor to inform me of what you will imminently make known.  JUST SAY IT.

All in all ...

What exactly does that mean?  Relative to what? 

Back in the day ...

What an odd formation of words and it sounds odder still when someone says it, most especially an 18 year old.  In fact it is almost as bad as when they say ...

We are where we are ... 
As opposed to being somewhere else and not being where we are.

We, as human beings must not forgot ....
And if we are not human beings then we are ... dogs, cats, fish, ghostly apparitions?  The more appropriate phrase would be: We must never forget ....

At the end of the day we should endeavor to ...
Most likely this person wants to sum everything up, but he uses a time reference - what possible connection is there between the end of the day and his point?  Answer:  None.

Currently, at this time ...
What can I write about this.  Currently at some other time or ... Currently right now we ... AMAZING they can tie their shoes.

That said, from day 1, we are where we are because the policies of George W. Bush ....
OMG.  How many meaningless expressions can we wrap into one sentence.  That said?  You are stating a point, not someone else based upon the remainder of the sentence, but again, you do not need to restate ... simply state.  From day 1 - as opposed to day 3 or 5.  And then we are where we are again.

I often read 1-2 paragraphs, put down the essay, lay down and nap for an hour, get up, finish the essay, go out and run, come back, have a nap, shower, eat, and read another essay.  And why not - if I am forced to read nearly incomprehensible meanderings, why can't I do it at my leisure - just like back in the day when I could wrap my head around these ... mistakes.


US is a bully says majority of Canadians

Most See U.S. as a 'Bully,' Survey Finds

Canadians conflicted about how much support to show Americans

Tuesday, December 31, 2002
The Ottawa Citizen
by Norma Greenaway

Canadians have their backs up over American foreign policy, according to a new survey that shows the vast majority believe the United States is acting like a bully with the rest of the world.

The survey suggests a chill has developed in Canada-U.S. relations compared to the empathy and support that flowed following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and for the launch of the U.S.-led "war on terrorism."

Although almost half of those surveyed agree the United States, as the world's sole superpower, has a responsibility to intervene in the affairs of other countries to protect global security, almost seven in 10 believe the U.S. is "starting to act like a bully with the rest of the world."

The survey, based on telephone interviews with 1,400 adult Canadians, was conducted in the first half of November for Maclean's magazine, Global TV and the Citizen by the Strategic Counsel, a Toronto-based polling firm.

It makes clear Canadians are conflicted about how supportive and friendly they want to be with Americans, an ambivalence some analysts say Prime Minister Jean Chretien reflects in his reserved approach to the Bush administration.

Indeed, the survey lands as the Canadian government grapples with big issues: how to repair and enhance relations with the security-obsessed United States, the country's largest trading partner; and if and how to support Washington in a probable U.S.-led war on Iraq.

The survey indicates Canadians don't want the Chretien government bending over backwards to support the U.S. in the pending war.

The findings say Canadians are ambivalent, for example, about the threat posed by Iraq and are strongly opposed to backing a U.S.-led war on Saddam Hussein with Canadian fighting units.

At the same time, a majority -- 53 per cent -- said Canada should provide some non-combat support, such as food and transportation, regardless of whether the UN Security Council approves an attack.

Michael Sullivan, an analyst with the Strategic Counsel, says the findings lay bare Canadians' conflicted feelings about the United States.

"We obviously recognize we're tied to the U.S. in ways that we might not have been a decade ago because of NAFTA," he said.

But Canadians also are saying that despite shared security issues, a military partnership and a long friendship, their priorities are not necessarily the U.S. interests and the two countries may have different outlooks on things.

"As Canadians, we take pride in our role as peacemaking and peacekeeping," Mr. Sullivan said.

"I think that that is part of our personality. We take pride in medicare, we take pride in our peacekeeping role. And when we look at the U.S., we don't see those kind of values necessarily reflected."

Mr. Sullivan said the strong 67-per-cent Canadian agreement with the statement the U.S. government is "starting to act like a bully" with the rest of the world is telling.

It's not that Canadians don't think the U.S. has a responsibility in world affairs as the lone superpower, it's just they are upset over how the U.S. is exercising that responsibility, he said.

The survey shows more Canadians had put a distance between themselves and their U.S. counterparts by the end of this year, compared to a year earlier.

Last year, almost half of respondents -- 49 per cent -- said Canadians and Americas were "essentially" or "mainly" the same. That percentage slid to 41 per cent when the same question was asked this year.

Similarly, in the months after Sept 11, 2001, 33 per cent of Canadians said Americans are "like family" or "best friends." A year later, the proportion dropped to 22 per cent.

The results of the survey are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points 19 times in 20.


Canadian MP: Americas are bastards

MP apologizes for calling Americans 'bastards'

Wed, 26 Feb 2003 22:29:40

OTTAWA - A Liberal MP has apologized for saying about Americans: "I hate those bastards."

MP Carolyn Parrish was speaking to reporters about Canada's diplomatic initiative on Iraq. At the end of her comments Parrish said, "Damn Americans ... I hate those bastards."

CBC reporter Susan Lunn who heard Parrish make the comment, says the MP then laughed as she was walking away.

In a written statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Parrish says she made the comments in the heat of the moment in a private conversation. She says they do not reflect her opinion of the American people.

"My comments do not reflect my personal opinion of the American people and they certainly do not reflect the views of the government of Canada," she said in her written statement.

Late last year, the prime minister's communications director, Francoise Ducros, resigned after calling U.S. President George W. Bush "a moron" during a conversation with a reporter in Prague.

Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper said Parrish's comments won't make relations between the two countries any better.

"They don't do Canadians any good – Canadians who are trying to cross the border for business, Canadians who are trying to sell lumber or agricultural products or manufactured goods to the United States," said Harper.

The Prime Minister's Office would only say that Parrish does not speak for the government of Canada.

She does not speak for the government of Canada - the one where seemingly random members of the government deride and attack the United States and the PMs office responds with a meaningless statement like - they do "not speak for the government of Canada. "

How about when Chretien said he had nothing in common with Bush - was he speaking for the government of Canada?  That Canada had little in common with the US - was that the government or a personal statement?

At what point does this rise to something more than people letting off steam.  In the US, if members of the Republican or Democratic party were to 'vent' as often as the Canadians seem to, the world press would be in non-stop overdrive with statements of derision.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


Early humans were likely to have been more competitive and promiscuous than we are today.

That's the conclusion of a study that looked at the fossilised finger bones of extinct apes and hominins - extinct members of the human lineage.

The study showed they were exposed to higher levels of androgen hormones in the womb.

Focus magazine, January 2011, p. 22

Exactly what that means I am unsure, but I believe the scientists.

China and its achilles heel

Makes perfect sense.  Their economic base is in the South - they will increase factories and industry, move them out of Beijing (I suspect they will lower prices on products from that area as an incentive) and reduce the pollution levels around China.

But - if you gaze at the map and note the location of the cities and what is in between each city - they will fill that space with people and things for people: hospitals, schools, jails, prisons, military and politburo buildings, parks ... and what is on that land now and what will NOT be on that land later?

And what is China's greatest weakness.

China to create largest mega city in the world with 42 million people

China is planning to create the world's biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42 million.

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai and Peter Foster in Beijing
12:21PM GMT 24 Jan 2011
The Telegraph

City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta.

The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales.

The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.

Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.

"The idea is that when the cities are integrated, the residents can travel around freely and use the health care and other facilities in the different areas," said Ma Xiangming, the chief planner at the Guangdong Rural and Urban Planning Institute and a senior consultant on the project.

However, he said no name had been chosen for the area. "It will not be like Greater London or Greater Tokyo because there is no one city at the heart of this megalopolis," he said. "We cannot just name it after one of the existing cities."

"It will help spread industry and jobs more evenly across the region and public services will also be distributed more fairly," he added.

Mr Ma said that residents would be able to use universal rail cards and buy annual tickets to allow them to commute around the mega-city.

Twenty-nine rail lines, totalling 3,100 miles, will be added, cutting rail journeys around the urban area to a maximum of one hour between different city centres. According to planners, phone bills could also fall by 85 per cent and hospitals and schools will be improved.

"Residents will be able to choose where to get their services and will use the internet to find out which hospital, for example, is less busy," said Mr Ma.

Pollution, a key problem in the Pearl River Delta because of its industrialisation, will also be addressed with a united policy, and the price of petrol and electricity could also be unified.

The southern conglomeration is intended to wrestle back a competitive advantage from the growing urban areas around Beijing and Shanghai.

By the end of the decade, China plans to move ever greater numbers into its cities, creating some city zones with 50 million to 100 million people and "small" city clusters of 10 million to 25 million.

In the north, the area around Beijing and Tianjin, two of China's most important cities, is being ringed with a network of high-speed railways that will create a super-urban area known as the Bohai Economic Rim. Its population could be as high as 260 million.

The process of merging the Bohai region has already begun with the connection of Beijing to Tianjing by a high speed railway that completes the 75 mile journey in less than half an hour, providing an axis around which to create a network of feeder cities.

As the process gathers pace, total investment in urban infrastructure over the next five years is expected to hit £685 billion, according to an estimate by the British Chamber of Commerce, with an additional £300 billion spend on high speed rail and £70 billion on urban transport.


Where is it coldest in your fridge?

Top or Bottom

The biggest source of heat in your fridge is the air that rushes in every time you open the door.  Cold air sinks.  Hot air rises.  The bottom shelves would be the coldest and towards the back!!

That's where you should keep anything that needs to stay cold!!

Focus Magazine, Dec 2010.


Canadians: America Sucks

Teaching respect, everywhere they go.  It is so easy being anyone but the United States because the rules don't apply to you.  But, we are supposed to care when their feelings are hurt.

Canadians Tell U.S. Kids, 'America Sucks'

April 3, 2003

A busload of American "PeeWee" hockey players got a taste of the rabid anti-Americanism that is festering in Canada: They were hooted at, our National Anthem was booed, and people in the street gave them the finger or displayed other rude gestures.

The Massachusetts kids were in Montreal for a PeeWee tournament when residents of this French-speaking city treated them the way one would expect an enemy to be treated: with scorn and hostility.

According to the Toronto Globe & Mail, the 11- and 12-year-old boys from Brockton had been looking forward to the hockey tournament in Montreal. But parents who accompanied them said they were unprepared for the depth of anti-American hatred over the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

During their four-day visit, the young Americans were horrified to see the Stars and Stripes burned and hear the National Anthem booed. When traveling in their bus emblazoned with a red, white and blue "Coach USA" logo, they saw people on the street make angry gestures at them.

Even worse, while playing hockey their Canadian opponents told their American guests that "the U.S. sucks" and shouted other anti-American insults, the boys recalled.

"It was a shock to go to a tournament and have kids saying this to us. These are our friends that are doing this," Brockton Boxers coach Ernest Nadeau told the Globe & Mail. "We didn't expect Canadian players - especially young boys - would take things to that extreme."


Canada: We are Morally Straight. It's You Americans who are flawed.

This attitude helps explain several other articles posted about Canada - the snide comments their legislators have made, the rude behavior of their citizens. 

Canadian PM Admits to Major Differences with Bush Reuters

Tuesday, May 27, 2003; 7:08 PM
By David Ljunggren

ATHENS (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose rocky relations with the White House hit a new low over the Iraq war, admitted openly on Tuesday for the first time that he disagreed on many issues with President Bush.

Chretien's comments only served to underscore the gulf between the leaders of the world's two largest trading partners. The two men have not met since last September and on Monday they spoke by phone for the first time in three months.

Until now, the veteran Canadian leader, who plans to step down next February, has said the only major disagreement between Canada and the United States was over Iraq. Washington was angered by Ottawa's refusal to commit troops to the war.

But Chretien -- on the left of the ruling Liberal Party -- went much further on Tuesday, saying he little in common with the Texas Republican.

"Of course we don't think alike, particularly on social matters. He's a conservative from the southern United States and I'm a liberal Canadian," Chretien told reporters in a long and unusually frank conversation during a flight to Athens.

"I'm for gun control, he's against it. I'm against capital punishment, he supports it. I'm for the right to abortion -- even though I'm a Catholic -- :rolleyes: and he's against it," said Chretien.

Chretien's relations with Bush deteriorated after the U.S. leader walked away from the Kyoto accord on curbing global emissions of greenhouse gases, scrapped the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and generally poured scorn on the multilateral diplomatic approach favored by Ottawa.

Canada's refusal to back what it called the "unjustified" war on Iraq because it lacked U.N. authorization prompted Bush to put off an official visit to Ottawa planned for early May.

Bush pleaded pressure of work, but at the same time he was supposed to have been in Canada, he entertained Australian Prime Minister John Howard -- who backed the Iraq war -- at his Texas ranch. Chretien has never been invited to the ranch.

[Why on earth would Bush invite a cretin like Chretien to his ranch.  The ranch was for friends and allies - not insolent shitheads like Chretien.]

Chretien and Bush will see each other later this week in Russia at celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg.

Despite the Chretien-Bush differences, the prime minister insisted there would always be good relations between Ottawa and the White House, and stressed his close ties to former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

"I think I will always have good personal relations with the president," said Chretien.

That said, Canadian officials say there are no specific plans for a bilateral meeting between the two leaders, who will also attend a summit of the Group of Eight leading nations next week in France.

Chretien's domestic policies are also at odds with current U.S. thinking. He is currently pushing controversial legislation through Parliament that would effectively ban big corporate and union contributions to political parties.

He says this is to avoid the problems seen in the United States, where candidates need to raise many millions of dollars before running for office.

"It's only 'Money, money, money, money' in the States. It's not healthy," Chretien said on Tuesday, taking the opportunity to boast about the performance of Canadian economy.

"In the United States they're going to have a budget deficit of around $500 billion U.S. dollars this year. If that were the case in Canada (which has a population roughly 10 percent of that in the United States), our budget deficit would be C$75 billion," he added.

Preliminary figures for this year show Canada will record a budget surplus of around C$8 billion ($5.8 billion).


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


What a state.  Where the winter population increases with the decrease from every other state North of Arizona and the flight out of Canada and Europe to places warmer - Arizona.

To live in a land of cold for eight months of the year - already says something about he Snow Birds who flock to Arizona.

Then for the millions who call it home year round - imagine having to go outside at 3am to do yard work in the summer so you can be back inside before the temperature rises to 110.  You hibernate all day and poke your head out at 10pm when the temperature is hovering at a cool 99 degrees. 

And those people choose to be in Arizona.  Says something.

They have interesting laws and even more interesting people, including their share of psychotic killers.

Now they want to pass a law requiring both certificates be shown by any and all candidates running for office.  This is a direct reach for Obama's birth certificate.  

I do not much care for the man - as far as I believe he is one of the worst presidents in our history and bad for the world - however, these people who chase this idiotic idea that he was not born here ... I would rather Jean Chretien or Sarkozy was our President - I'd even prefer Putin ... but I am rational enough to accept that he was born here and the case is firmly closed on the issue. 

Chase your tail or a muffler going down the street ... I wish they all would.  He is not a good president, but he satisfies the requirement - beyond a reasonable doubt.  Unless you have a lot of free time on your hands and can't figure out what to do.



Obama's Health Care

Amazing what we learn each day, drip drip ... it isn't about health care for all, it is about refilling the treasury for the unions and supporters of the Democratic party.  How?  Those companies and unions are exempt from having to provide the health care we are all supposed to have.  They get waivers on taxes and waivers on required coverage ... one after another thee entities walk away from the White House with the waiver card signed.

Most recently it is SEIU.

More than 700 companies have been given waivers. 

Translated that means - those companies and entities do not have to do what the rest of us have to do.  Isn't that fair and a refreshing change.


Canadian Pot Laws

Lighter Penalties for minors in pot bill

Friday, May. 16, 2003

Cannada News / Ottawa
From Friday's Globe and Mail

Smoking pot while driving would not be a crime and penalties for minors would be lower than for adults, according to draft legislation decriminalizing the possession of marijuana.

The Cannabis Reform Bill was to have been introduced to Parliament this week, but sources report that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien ordered it delayed until the end of May to give caucus members more time to consider it, and to let Justice Minister Martin Cauchon fine-tune its provisions. Details of those provisions have been obtained by The Globe and Mail.

As currently envisioned, the act would make possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana (the equivalent of about 20 joints) a non-criminal offence punishable by a fine of $150 for adults. Minors, however, would be charged only $100, although police would notify their parents of the offence.

If the offender possesses between 15 and 30 grams, the police officer would decide whether to issue a ticket or lay a criminal charge. Possession of more than 30 grams would be a criminal offence.

Police could levy a higher fine if there are "aggravating factors," sources say. For example, driving a car while possessing or smoking marijuana could increase the fine to $400. However, the act would still not be criminal, although police could charge the person with driving while impaired, if there was sufficient evidence.

Similarly, although it would not be a crime, for example, to smoke pot on the steps of Parliament or in a playground, police could increase the fine depending on the perceived inappropriateness of the act.

Customs officers would have considerable latitude when confronted with someone bringing small amounts of marijuana into Canada. They could simply seize the pot or refuse entry. In cases of trafficking, they could extradite the offender. If the offender crosses the border from the United States, Canada Customs will notify U.S. officials.

While decriminalizing simple possession, the legislation envisions much tougher penalties for those who grow marijuana commercially. There will be four new categories of offences for cultivation. The larger the operation, the greater the penalty, although information about that aspect of the legislation was not available.

The law would also retroactively diminish the punishment of those charged with criminal possession before the bill goes into effect. However, the records of those already charged will not be expunged, although those convicted can apply for a pardon.

Critics warn that decriminalizing marijuana possession will lead to increased use of the drug, especially among the young. But Justice Department officials predict higher levels of enforcement once the police can hand out a simple ticket rather than having to decide whether to lay criminal charges.

The government acknowledges that the law will not be applied evenly, with police in urban areas, for instance, less likely to hand out tickets than those in rural areas.

Alan Young, a professor of law at York University in Toronto, warned that the law would leave the police with too much discretion in deciding whether to impose fines or lay criminal charges in cases where the accused possesses between 15 and 30 grams.

"It is wrong to simply bestow discretion upon police to determine which mode of enforcement will be chosen," he said in an interview.

"History tells us that the disadvantaged and minorities will disproportionately suffer under a regime of that nature."

The decriminalization law was originally expected as far back as last February, but has been repeatedly delayed by legal tangles and the absence of a fully financed antidrug campaign to be implemented by Health Canada.

However, government sources report that the health and communications strategies are now in place, and the bill will be introduced shortly after Parliament returns from a one-week break on May 26.


German Tolerance and Openness.

Very carefully - the way Euros insert anti-Semitic statements or arguments into conversation.

And once again - why articles that are 8 years old (this one is from November 1, 2002).

Why?  because very nearly every attack and criticism of the US is based on drivel pulled out of someones rusty file cabinet, and or just printed and taken from one of those sites that highlight change and masquerade as lucid while they have no change to spare and clearly need more sense than they have.  I am so tired of contending with ancient wrongs by the US, culled from a media so willing to make available the opinions of reporters, taken for fact by willing accomplices and spread like butter for the masses to swallow. 

If they can do it, I think all these articles, factual and evidenced by sources - are equally as useful to delve into the character of a government or people - as useful as what is so often done by those who are so effortlessly propelled to the highest levels of the media in Europe and the US from where they pontificate their sad and miserable views onto a public who knows only what they hear and read ... from a media so ready to capitalize on the negative.

And if Americans are all racist for X, then most certainly we can use news stories of German efforts to .... maintain, as evidence.  Fair is fair.

Berliners protest move to put 'Jewish' back into street name

Berlin (dpa) - Crowds of angry residents in Berlin Friday protested attempts to return a road to its pre-Nazi-era name of Jewish Street, with several shouting, ;The Jews have made us suffer enough.''

The protest began peacefully enough Friday afternoon when about 40 people turned out to protest the changing of Kinkel Strasse to Jueden Strasse, which had been approved by the Berlin city council.

Local residents, particularly several retailers, said they had not been adequately informed about the name change and they resented the inconvenience of changing business cards and advertisements.

The protest turned ugly, however, when representatives of Berlin's Jewish community arrived for the formal name-changing ceremonies. Then there were chants of ;You Jews have had enough say'' and ;The Jews have made us suffer enough.''

Jewish Community Chairman Alexander Brenner attempted to fend off the attacks as TV camera crews filmed the scene, but as the vehemence rose, he responded, ;You people are siding yourselves with the Nazis with such remarks,'' and turned and left.

Afterward, several retailers said the confrontation had been taken over by neo-Nazis.

I heard someone shout terrible things at him,'' one retailer told SFB television. ;I heard someone say, 'You Jews are to blame for the German plight,' and that is a horrible thing to hear. I was absolutely appalled.''

Other businesspeople said they had come to protest the fact that the street name was being changed at all and were not concerned that it involved a Jewish name.

I've had a business on this street for 39 years and object to having to change all my business cards and make new advertisements now,'' one business owner said. ;I don't care what the city council has decided the new name should be; I just want it to remain as it has been.''

Jueden Strasse was the name of the road until the Nazis changed it in the 1930s to an Aryan name. After World War II, it was changed to Kinkel Strasse in honour of a resistance fighter.

The move to return the street its historical name came after the Social Democrats gained control of the Berlin city government last year.


Egypt on the Precipice

In Tunisia, a dictator falls.  In Egypt, after more than 28 years ... another one may be ready.  Democracy works - people stand up, eventually.  Had only 100 Egyptians taken to the street - two years ago Mubarek would have made them disappear.  Today, it is his son and family who have reportedly disappeared to England. 

But of course, we should have given Egypt MORE funding, more than Israel, seeing how unstable Israel is.  Yep.  Brilliant move.  BILLIONS and BILLIONS to Egypt, to underwrite a dictator and ignorance - a government that knows the truth about many things yet allows its populace to chase after imaginary planes, diseases, and people in an effort to control them - now finds itself losing control and will leave in place some of the dumbest people in the Middle East.

Mohamed ElBaradei - a fool, who is either too smart to survive amidst a mob, or so smart he is an idiot and a fool.  I am quite certain he is a fool.

What a bloody waste all these years.  What a bloody waste.

[And should Mubarek manage a civil transition of power - it forestalls what will inevitably happen. - Democracy works.  Unfortunately, people get high on democracy and do not pay attention to those who stand behind them, pushing them on.  In Tunisia and Egypt, Democratic movements have Islamists pushing the buttons.  When the movements have calmed and power has changed hands, the Islamists will wrest control and implement their free Islamic society controlled by the religious police and sharia law.]

26 January 2011

Egypt's opposition pushes demands as protests continue

Egypt's "day of anger" brought thousands of workers, students, members of opposition parties and other activists onto the streets.

Anti-government demonstrations in Egypt on Tuesday were the biggest the country has seen since the bread riots of 1977. Inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia, they involved thousands of Egyptians from a variety of opposition groups. But just who are these opposition movements and what are their demands?


April 6 members make extensive use of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to organise pro-democracy events. This youth opposition coalition was the main organising force behind Tuesday's demonstrations. It started the call for the "day of anger" on Tuesday, 25 January, citing a list of demands on its website. They included the departure of the interior minister, an end to the restrictive emergency law, and a rise in the minimum wage. The movement is urging Egyptians to "take to the streets and keep going until the demands of the Egyptian people have been met".

The movement began as an Egyptian Facebook group in 2008 to support workers in the northern industrial town of Mahalla al-Kubra and called for a national strike on 6 April that year.

Members, who include many young well-educated Egyptians, have shown a greater willingness than others to risk arrest and start public protests. They have successfully organised pro-democracy rallies and a large welcoming party for the former United Nations' nuclear watchdog chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, when he returned to his home country in February 2010.

The group uses Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to alert its networks about police activity, organise legal protection and publicise its efforts.


Mr ElBaradei backed the protest but has tended to avoid directly confronting Egypt's government. This umbrella organisation for opposition groups was set up by Mohamed ElBaradei when he returned to Egypt after many years abroad, declaring his wish to be a "tool for reform".

Mr ElBaradei did not participate in the latest protests but he did back them in a post on his Twitter feed: "Fully support call 4 peaceful demonstrations vs. repression & corruption. When our demands for change fall on deaf ears what options remain?" Several members of his group were summoned by security services in the run-up to demonstrations.

Also on Tuesday, the NAC issued a statement calling on President Hosni Mubarak not to seek a sixth term in September's presidential election and opposing any succession of power by his son, Gamal. It also demanded dissolving the newly elected parliament where the ruling NDP controls more than 90% of seats.

In the NAC, leaders of liberal political parties like al-Ghad and the Democratic Front are represented alongside Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood. The loose coalition also includes prominent intellectuals and veteran activists, among them members of Kefaya, the Egyptian Movement for Democratic Change, which organised unprecedented rallies ahead of elections in 2004.

The NAC says President Mubarak, 82, should not run in the next elections. The NAC has demanded an end to the state of emergency and democratic and constitutional reforms. Efforts to collect a million signatures in support of its programme were significantly boosted by the active involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood.

However divisions grew when the Islamist group would not join its boycott of last year's parliamentary elections. The groups were already at odds over strategy, with many activists advocating more direct confrontation of the regime than Mr ElBaradei was prepared to countenance.


Egyptian officials blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for causing riots but it has not played a big role in protests so far. Despite an official ban, the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest and most organised opposition movement. The interior ministry blamed the organisation for rioting that took place on Tuesday, saying that a number of protesters "particularly a large number of those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood… began to riot, damage public property and throw stones at police forces".

However, their numbers in the protests is unclear. The conservative leadership decided not to fully endorse the demonstrations to the anger of some younger supporters. A senior spokesman, Essam el-Erian, said he did expect large numbers of the organisation's members to participate of their own accord, and called on them to stick to peaceful methods. Leaflets outlining its political demands were distributed at the rally.

Until last year, Muslim Brotherhood members (running as independent candidates) held one-fifth of seats in the last parliament. But it lost its representatives in the 2010 parliamentary election. After a first round of voting was marred by serious fraud and violence, it decided to boycott the second round.

In the past, the group has proven able to draw large crowds out onto the streets but has mostly avoided directly challenging the government. It has organised large protests against Israel's war in Gaza and the US-led war in Iraq, for example.


This well-established party does not enjoy popular support, but previously led the official opposition in parliament. It then boycotted the second round of the last elections because of widespread vote rigging. Along with its president, al-Sayed al-Badawi, it has often been accused of being too close to the government and giving it the cover of an official secular opposition.

Like the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr al-Badawi did not join Tuesday's protests, but gave his approval for the youth of his party to participate in their personal capacity. He then announced his own demands on Arab satellite television for the dissolution of parliament, a new national unity government and new elections under a proportional representation system.


Ayman Nour joined the popular protest but no longer has wide political support. The founder of the liberal al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party, Ayman Nour, spent over three years in prison on what were widely seen as trumped-up forgery charges after finishing a distant second to President Mubarak in the last presidential election. While he was behind bars, his party was taken over by government supporters. Its headquarters were then set on fire in a dispute between rival factions.

Since his release in February 2009, Mr Nour has been a regular presence at anti-government demonstrations. His group set up a movement to oppose presidential succession before joining the National Association for Change. Mr Nour is still thought to harbour presidential ambitions but no longer has the high profile he did in 2004. He joined in Tuesday's protest.


Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.