Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It is refreshing to see a European leader- a French one, no less- standing his shaky ground. Sarkozy's statement takes grand courage as France is populated with a young, restive Islamic population ready to torch cars at any moment.
Bon chance, I say nonetheless!
Monday, June 22, 2009
But critically, the protesters were not joined by any of the millions whose votes the protesters alleged were stolen. In a complete hijacking of the election by some 13 million votes by an extremely unpopular candidate, we would have expected to see the core of Mousavi's supporters joined by others who had been disenfranchised. On last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when the demonstrations were at their height, the millions of Mousavi voters should have made their appearance. They didn't. We might assume that the security apparatus intimidated some, but surely more than just the Tehran professional and student classes posses civic courage. While appearing large, the demonstrations actually comprised a small fraction of society.
I argue that if such factions do exist, we might not hear about them given the media blackout. It is also be reasonable to assume that (as was stated above) they were intimidated and might not be as "savvy" as the intelligentsia in Iran.
Just some thoughts.
In Mr. Ignatieff's words:
"Imagining what we share is not easy. Imagining this land is never just to imagine it as it appears to you alone. It is to imagine it as an Inuit person might see it ... To imagine it as a citizen is to imagine it as a resident of Yellow Quill reservation in Saskatchewan would have had to imagine it, this Canada where two half-naked children died in a snow-covered field in the subarctic darkness because their father tried to take the sick little girls to his parents and never made it, and all you can hope is that death was as mercilessly quick as the cold can make it. What does a resident of Yellow Quill imagine, what do we, Canadians, imagine our country to be, the morning we learn that children have perished this way? It is surely more than just a tragic story of one family. It is a story about us."
What about us as a nation puts us squarely to blame for a drunkard's inability- correction- refusal to safeguard the welfare of his children?
Maybe we are to blame. We are to blame for allowing a two-tiered justice system instead of just one. We are to blame for the soft-serve racism that posits the idea that people of different races or religions are incapable of looking after themselves which means the "White Man" must (as he is obliged) do it. I thought such paternalism went out with the British Empire but I suppose I could be wrong. We are to blame for allowing a "victim/fingerpointing" culture to thrive like a fungus. We are to blame for the avoidance of accountability.
And we are to blame for allowing an American dilettante the opportunity to use a tragedy as some sort of platform.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, responds in kind:
"It is foolish and ridiculous of our enemy powers to call for more
sanctions and isolation... (do they think) it could make us even raise our
eyebrows one bit?... If they point a gun at us, we will get back with a cannon.
If they point a cannon, we will point missiles and for sanctions, we will give
them revenge. Getting back with a nuclear weapon for a nuclear weapon is what we do."
That's a little melodramatic.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
We are in a time when a mounting campaign suggests that equality has
been achieved in Canada. Certain detractors seek to caricature the human rights
system, and undermine its legacy and ability to ensure equality for all
This began with a complaint brought against Rogers Communications
by the Canadian Islamic Congress, in three jurisdictions: Federal, Ontario, and
British Columbia. All three dismissed the complaint.
Even before the three complaints were dismissed, many commissions
and tribunals experienced a cacophony of protest – by those who felt that
exposing mainstream media organizations to formal complaints is inconsistent
with Canada’s commitment to freedom of expression.
The debate moved to one of discrediting Commissions’ processes,
professionalism and staff. Much of what was written was inaccurate, unfair, and
at times scary:
Articles described human rights commissions and their employees in
“human rights racket”
“welcome to the whacky
world of Canadian human rights.”
“...(i)t sounds like a fetish club for
servants of the Crown”
“a secretive and decadent institution”
Now, she has- apparently- accepted some lukewarm form of apology from the bitter late-night talk-show host, David Letterman:
"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."
Who's trashy now?
I guess that "trailer trash" insult doesn't work any more.
Friday, June 12, 2009
"I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country for
contributing to kind of that thread that is throughout our culture that makes it
sound like it is OK to talk about young girls in that way, where it's kind of
OK, accepted and funny to talk about statutory rape," she said. "It's not cool.
It's not funny."
Enough with companies promoting self-esteem by purchasing their products (because only soaps and jeans can fill the void of true achievement or personality) , how about teaching girls some self-respect, part of which can be achieved through not putting up with this kind of degrading crap.
Palin said Friday that it was time for people to rise up against
Letterman's form of humour.
"No wonder young girls especially have such low self-esteem in
America when we think it's funny for a so-called comedian to get away with such
a remark as he did," she said. "I don't think that's acceptable."
I believe I said that but it's good to hear it echoed.
I believe that in our "self-esteem and entitlement" culture, we've failed to instill in children that self-esteem comes through achievement, that entitlement is the attitude of a spoiled brat and that self-respect would, in some ways, curb the kind of debasement that passes for "humour" these days. It's one thing to be introspective, to be humble and not take yourself too seriously; it's quite another to muck up yourself and others for a cheap laugh. That is what David Letterman is guilty of.
Mr. Letterman doesn't get that his being a comedian is somehow a shield for his "poor taste" is not acceptable, nor that Governor Palin's refusal to appear on his show is a mother's reaction to a sick joke. Why would anyone stand for a sexually charged joke aimed at their child and then brush it aside like it never happened? That is Mr. Letterman's way of being the aforementioned spoiled brat. Nothing he says or does touches him and he is entitled to be a jerk.
And for that stunt, he sure is a jerk.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I am not trying to make light of violence, only the reactions to them (in case someone was confused).
Freezing the money generated in Room 39 (North Korea's secret monetary chest) could hurt North Korea, some experts say. Making China accountable for aiding North Korea would be even more effective. We could stop trading with them, for starters. We can demand transparency from Chinese banks which hold North Korean funds. This would not end up being a dangerous trend as North Korea is a rogue state which uses its funds for things like weapons and drugs. Surely China wants to help.
The fate of some North Korean children.
Every single story I hear about North Korea is heart-breaking.
More then 20,000 came to see the much-maligned governor of Alaska raise money for a museum, celebrate Founder's Day and drum up support for special-needs individuals. She also went to see a baseball game with her fourteen year old daughter. The aforementioned fourteen year old girl was subject to some leering dirty old man's unfunny attempt at gutter "humour".
In case we forgot what bad taste looks like.
There have been an awful lot of shootings lately.
While the rest of the world sits on its hands, the South Koreans have decided to make themselves useful and pinpoint illegal bank accounts held by North Korea. This may help in punishing North Korea for its actions as of late. One way to stop North Korea in its tracks would be to make sure no bank does business with the Stalinist state. Just my thoughts.
This is the kind of trouble this sort of thing can cause.
Could the US be drawn into renewed military action in the Korean Peninsula? This article declares it to be unlikely as the status quo of Chinese-backed North Korea and Seoul's bid to remain standing is better than war. I argue for engagement.
The aging war-horse Russia makes a bid that the rest of the world is stupid. Vladimir Putin, through Dmitri Medvedev, suggests that Russia would likely surrender its nuclear weapons if other countries do so first. Given Russia's track record of "peace and humanitarianism", I doubt many would seriously consider this. At least, I hope so.
This is further proof that the world, led by Hollywood, is going off the rails. The mere suggestion of child abuse should be abhorrent to anyone. Why certain individuals would think that rape and child abuse are even amusing in the slightest shows how humanity is willingly drenching itself in depravity. Call this post "pontificating" in nature if you like but you know I'm right.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
- a complete collapse or change of the regime would free the two women and all the other prisoners in the camps. This is unlikely at present.
- bribery: giving North Korea whatever money, weapons, status or other goods it wants
- legal intervention: an independent legal team should demand to study North Korean penal law concerning illegal entry, as well as the court documents of the "trial". The legal team should also speak with the two journalists' representation and the women themselves. The Red Cross should be able to accompany the women to wherever they are being held to ensure they are being well-treated. Their lawyers should be able to regularly visit them in case of an appeal.
- military intervention: all ships, trucks, trains and missiles should be intercepted until the women are released.
Of the options listed, I believe only the second one would materialise, assuming the US cares about these women or the fate of any prisoner in North Korea.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
I was going to do something splashy for my three hundredth post but nothing seems more appropriate than the sixty-fifth anniversary of D-Day and Memorial Day in South Korea.
The invasion of Normandy was- and is to this day- the largest amphibious landing in military history. Operation Overlord included troops from the US, Great Britain, Canada, Poland, Norway and France. Fifteen thousand Canadians took part in the D-Day invasions. Three hundred and forty were killed. Nevertheless, the infantry, parachute and armoured divisions made further inroads than any other D-Day participant (no doubt the memories of Dieppe stirring them on). Germany's back was broken that day. In less than eleven months, the war would be over.
We can look back on those times and wonder at the ordinary men called to do extraordinary things. We feel somber about the men who died never knowing a world without war. Still, for most of us, this isn't even a memory but some obligatory remembrance every year. I can't help but think that my generation and generations after me will never be anything like the Greatest Generation. We fear hardship, eschew inconvenience and enjoy the ability to find fault from a distance. We cannot give thanks or live up to everything that came before yet we feel no shame. It is as though we have betrayed a trust someone died to protect.
Where did we go wrong?
Memorial Day (Hyeonchung-il) in South Korea also falls on June 6th. The timing seems appropriate. While Western nations mark the beginning of the end of the Second World War, South Koreans remember their war dead.
The War Memorial in Seoul has a plaque listing the five hundred and sixteen Canadians killed during the Korean War (which has not officially ended). The number of American war dead is so great that the men are listed by state. In an adjoining hall, the South Korean war dead are solemnly listed on granite slabs (the North Koreans lost men in the millions). While the West walked away after the Second World War (after we handed Poland to Stalin), the Koreans have had to rebuild with only half of their country. Some of the men who survived had no home to return to.
South Korea now is a prosperous nation of well-fed, well-educated people. Western Korean War veterans wouldn't even recognise the place now. The Korean soldiers saw everything enfold before their eyes.
They might even live to see the war actually finish.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Food is generally a safe topic unless aboriginal tastes and animal-rights activists clash. A chef in Montreal claims to have received death threats because he serves seal meat. Governor-General Michaelle Jean's choice to eat raw seal heart has angered some who claim that such a practice is "barbaric".
As a finicky eater, I should probably not lord my tastes over anyone but really- should anyone else? Taste is what it is: a sensation and an opinion. Some may adore seal (though I've heard it tastes like rubber) and some may find it truly repellent. The inherent hypocrisy of a society that claims cultural and even moral pluralism never fails to astound me. See how the aboriginal people (in this case, the Inuit) have been thrown under the proverbial bus in lieu of those who think killing and eating seals is gross (I won't even hazard a guess if they are truly animal rights activists or if they have been to Canada) but won't criticise "sentencing circles", a cultural fabrication and complete moral abomination. Some take Master Card and some take the race card. Others will take the "fashionable cause" card. It is accepted in most European countries.
Many people live far removed from the true sources of food. Many people do not hunt, fish, sow and reap crops of all kinds, make cheese or grind grains into flour. More than enough of the population eats food that is terrible for them. This post isn't about that. For those who do have direct access to their food's source, this is a way of life no more alien than running to the super-market or to Tim Horton's. There is a kind of respect for people who can prepare food from its very start. It is a way of life many people have forgotten. For most of the aboriginal people, that life hasn't changed too much (with the exception of firearms and better food preparation and storage).
I lived in a northern community briefly. People around me hunted geese and game, picked wild blueberries and ice-fished. It was how they lived. The Inuit and other northern aboriginal people lived on cloud berries, as well as char, Arctic birds, walrus and seal. The Huron (or Wendat) ate pumpkins and squash, the Plains Indians (such as the Cree and the Sioux) ate dried bison and the Haida ate shellfish and salmon. Even chocolate (an all its delicious healthiness) is a native concoction. When I lived in South Korea, things like kimchi, live octopus, dried cuttlefish, bondaegi and even dog (not always on the menu) turned more than one Westerner off. All or some of these foods cause some sort of ethical problems for people who need a cause. Poor animals are at the mercy of cruel man. Chocolate isn't always fair trade. Can't we all eat tofu?
Well- no. Some people subsist on salmon and moose. It's how they live. Surely the hunting and fishing practices of both non-aboriginal and aboriginal people can't be any more barbaric than some questionable European practices like using human embryos for European beauty products (page six), force-feeding geese for foie gras, confining young cattle for veal, and eating snails (how repulsive!)?
People shouldn't throw stones at glass restaurants or some such thing.
The fate of two American journalists in North Korea has been given little air-time in the popular press. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were kidnapped while crossing a river on the Chinese-North Korean border. They are accused of being spies. If convicted by a North Korean "court", they could face years in a labour camp, at the tender mercies of the guards within. North Korea could be using these women to flex the muscles it thinks it has, as it is doing with the missile launches. I wouldn't be surprised if they used these women as leverage to gain whatever they want to gain. Why the most powerful country on earth is still silent, I'm not sure. There are no oil fields or Islamo-fascists to appease.
Of appeasement, the Chosen One offers not just empty platitudes that still carry an accusatory tone of Israel but are just plain stupid. The Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald is "the "ultimate rebuke" to . Well, duh! That's any camp (or gulag or labour camp). Let's not forget the mountains of research on the Holocaust. Good gravy! Why does he say such things. Why not: "Don't deny things that are obviously true! Stop being instigators!" How refreshing that would have been? and skeptics"
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
South Korea is also at the cusp of another season- a season of tension and possibly great change.
Ailing dictator Kim Jong-Il has named his third (and I believe illegitimate) son, Kim Jong-Un as his successor. Not much is known about this third son whom some believe was groomed for this hereditary position. It is believed that Kim Jong-Un was so awarded in order to prevent a possible power struggle in the event of the elder Kim's death. I would argue it doesn't matter as North Korea is owned by China and has been since the beginning of the Korean War.
North Korea is again preparing to fire medium-range missiles. It is believed that North Korea possesses missiles that could land as far away as Alaska (maybe British Columbia). Why there are no serious plans in effect to deal with this is uncertain. North Korea no doubt wants its benefits fully re-instated (food for the leaders only). It could also be rattling its sabre without China's express permission. If so, North Korea is pulling a move patented by Tito- remove oneself from the sphere of dominant influence and branch out on your own.
I could be wrong, though.
Kim Soon-ok was her name in North Korea. Her father, a Korean Japanese,
came to North Korea on the repatriation ship. The first child, Soon-ok, had been
a good singer since childhood. One day, a teacher from the art school called her
in and demanded a bribe of a goat, since her family, with relatives in Japan,
must be well off. Soon-ok wanted to become a teacher after graduation, so she
decided to go to China for just one month and make the necessary money. She
crossed the Duman River in September 1998.
At the time, North Korean refugees were marched back to North Korea
chained together in pairs. She saw groups of such people every week. She met her
husband, a South Korean. Speaking her mother tongue made her happy. Soon she got pregnant, and the couple promised to go to South Korea together.
One night in May 2000, Kim boarded a people smuggling boat. Her husband
promised to meet her in South Korea as soon as he had saved enough money to
travel. Seven months pregnant, Kim hid under a bundle of sheets. One night's
sleep in the boat should have taken her to Incheon, but suddenly she woke up to
the sound of hobnailed boots: the boat was being checked in the open sea by a
North Korean patrol ship. "I thought I was going to die. I wanted to jump right
into the sea, but I missed the right moment."
She was sent to the North Korean State Safety and Security Agency in
Sinuiju. Seeing her belly, an officer took her to a hospital. A doctor took a
blood sample and swore. "Got pregnant with a South Korean baby?" The doctor
examined her womb with his hand in search of the baby's head. He injected her
with a huge syringe and gave her a large bucket. She started bleeding, and the
dead baby came out. She could not even cry. To survive, she took the bucket out
to the doctor to get a certificate. "I was the mother but couldn't do anything.
The baby was still moving in the bucket!" Recalling that day, even now Soon-ok
cries for hours.
Why the silence? Politically and religiously-motivated violence, it seems,
is only worth lamenting when it demonizes opponents. Which also helps explain
why the phrase “lone shooter” is ubiquitous in media coverage of jihadi shooters gone wild – think convicted Jeep Jihadi Mohammed Taheri-Azar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill or Israel-bashing gunman Naveed Haq who targeted a Seattle Jewish charity or Los Angeles International Airport shooter Hesham
Hedayet who opened fire at the El Al Israeli airline ticket counter– but not in
cases involving rare acts of anti-abortion violence.
Indeed. Isn't all hatred odious as it is irrational and unreasonable? In this day and age, no. We as a species are judged not by what we love but by what we hate. This is why columnists like Michelle Malkin "invites venom to be shot back at her", why women- particularly conservative women- can be demeaned and degraded by Playboy magazine, why someone like Governor Sarah Palin can be maligned again and again, why religious organisations and Christian religions can be ritually mocked and accused, why would-be terrorists can threaten to blow up synagogues and why the Palestinians can teach their children to hate and ultimately kill people they've never met.
Just like lightning rods, certain people or groups will attract lunatics and the hatred spewed out will travel to the ground.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have ratcheted up yet again. North Korea launched a failed satellite in April and fired (and continues to fire) Taepodong missiles into the East Sea. It still threatens South Korea and the US with military action. Some may dismiss North Korea's threats as idle as it doesn't have the wherewithal to do battle with both South Korea and the US. However true that may be of the impoverished Stalinist state, there are two factors to consider: China and Russia. I suggest Russia and China be penalised; that North Korea be engaged directly by either South Korea and the US; and, chiefly, that we never forget what suffering lies beyond the DMZ.
If you want to see something more ingratiating than CNN's love affair with Obama, go here.
(Thanks a bunch, Dark Roasted Blend!)
On more colder shores, the Inuit were thrown under the bus in favour of Europeans who still think aboriginal people live in teepees. Governor-General Michaelle Jean ate a piece of seal heart and paid the price for it (this article compares her to Sarah Palin, the epitome of meat-eating evil). Forget that these champagne socialists don't even know where Canada is on the map, let alone how we or the Inuit people live their lives, who are these people to judge what people eat? When I lived in South Korea, I saw that many Westerners couldn't abide kimchi, the pungent pickled vegetables that occupy every meal table in every household. I didn't like it at first but now I can't get enough of the stuff. Should cultural relativism stop when things become unappetizing?
This is what I think of that.