Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mid-Week Post

Quickly now...

If Parks Canada must be under the purview of the government, give it the money one would otherwise waste on "green" projects that go nowhere:

A prominent tourism operator in eastern Newfoundland says federal cuts to Parks Canada fly in the face of the Conservatives' goal of having the private sector take a stronger role in rural economies.

"Economically, this is very harmful," said Trinity-based John Fisher, who operates an inn in Newfoundland's Trinity Bay, reacting to news that Parks Canada will be eliminating jobs and reducing the operating seasons for national parks and historic sites....

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent defended the cuts.

“Our government is sensitive to the concerns of the tourism industry and its importance to the national and regional economies,” Kent said in a prepared statement emailed to CBC News. “That is why the changes we are making ensure that staff are there when the most visitors come to our parks.”

Kent says Ottawa has “greatly expanded” the country’s parks and marine protection areas, and launched a tourism strategy to help maximize the economic growth and job creation in this sector. 

“Canada’s national parks and historic sites such as Gros Morne are among Canada’s greatest tourism attractions,” Kent said. “We hope more people will experience the natural beauty of our parks.”

This would be a costly moral mistake if action is not taken:

Activist Chen Guangcheng told AFP on Thursday he did not feel safe in China despite assurances made under a deal to remove him from the US embassy, pleading for American help to take him abroad.

"I want to go overseas. I want the US to help me and my family leave China," Chen said by phone from a Beijing hospital where he is being treated for a foot injury suffered during a daring escape from house arrest on April 22.

"I don't feel safe here. I want to leave."

Chen, who riled Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilisations under the "one-child" population control policy, fled his heavily guarded eastern China home and gained refuge in the US embassy, where he demanded assurances on his freedom.

He left the embassy Wednesday and was reunited with family members at the hospital after the US said it had received "assurances" from China that he would be safe from reprisals.

But US-based rights group China Aid has said Chen had "reluctantly" left the embassy and that it had been told by "reliable sources" that Beijing had made threats against his relatives over the affair.

Chen said he did not initially want to seek asylum overseas but changed his mind Wednesday after emerging from the embassy amid concern for his safety and that of his family.

"I did not make the final decision at the US embassy, I made it yesterday. I don't think the US is protecting me," he said.

Chen will never be heard from again if action is not taken now.

Because he's John Bolton:

While America may be unable to exert a decisive influence either on China’s future domestic affairs or its external behavior, we should not be ambiguous here. We should grant Chen asylum, insist that his family in China be protected, speak out against the “one child” policy and much, much more.

America must not be a well-bred doormat on Chen’s asylum request or on any other bilateral issue with China.

Guess what they're teaching at the Centre Madrasah:

If the child of an unbeliever is captured by Muslims, and his father, paternal grandfather or maternal grandfather is not with him, he becomes Pak. In both the cases, the child becomes Pak by subjection, on the condition that if it has attained the age of understanding and discerning, it does not show inclination to Kufr.

The "dreadful" Americans take in an endangered Afghan girl:

In a remote part of Afghanistan early last year, a girl was sentenced to death. Her crime was possession of a cellphone. Her executioners were to be her brothers. They suspected her of talking on the phone with a boy. 
The girl, in her late teens, had dishonored the family, her brothers said.

"My older brother took the cellphone from me and beat me very badly. It was dinnertime. They told me that they would execute me after dinner. They said to me this would be my last meal," says "Lina," a pseudonym....

But saving a teenage girl was not part of the battle plan for U.S. forces in Afghanistan — it might even have jeopardized that mission.

Afghan advisers told Americans at the base very bluntly: To keep peace with the community, Lina had to go home, even if it meant her death. Her original "crime" now paled in comparison to the fact that Lina had spent weeks living with non-Muslim soldiers, says Huma Safi, a women's rights advocate in Kabul.

"In Afghan society, women stay with their families. When they spend nights in other places, it's a dishonor for their families. It's not just the military base ... they don't want their daughters to spend the night anywhere," says Safi.

An elder from the community stayed on the base with Lina, but he stopped speaking to her once she said she wanted to stay with the foreigners. Her family also tried to convince her to come home, but Lina knew it was a trick, says Larsen.

"The hard part was as I watched her sister beg her to come home. Even her niece and nephew, who were very young, were there as well," Larsen says. "She was glad to see them, she hugged them and kissed them. 

But as soon as her sister even suggested that she come back home, the whole meeting came to a screeching halt. She had no time for her sister, and she asked her to leave. It was hard to watch. At that moment, an interpreter was unnecessary."

Lina also saw her brothers again — they surprised her by showing up at a meeting near the base. Larsen says she feared the brothers might try to kidnap Lina or even throw acid on her at the meeting. Lina says she knew her family planned to lure her home to kill her.

"My brothers pleaded with me to return home. I told them no. They said they would let me marry whoever makes me happy. I asked them, 'Why would I ever believe you?' " Lina says.

This is where the story in Afghanistan often ends: The woman is sent home, and later killed by her family to cleanse the dishonor.

But Lina's tale has a rare happy ending. U.S. officials helped fly her to a women's shelter in a larger city, while Afghan officials in her province agreed to look the other way.

This "difference" of culture has seemed to escape the notice of the allegedly progressive.

(with thanks)

If you didn't do any of the heavy lifting, you probably shouldn't take credit for it.

(with thanks)

And now, a chocolate candle for a chocolate cake.

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