Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Mid-Week Post

A surprise in every box!

South Korea has intensified a crackdown on the smuggling of capsules from China containing the powdered flesh of dead babies, taken by some as a cure for disease or a way to boost sexual performance, a customs official said Tuesday.

The gruesome practice came to light Sunday when Korea Customs said it had uncovered 35 attempts to import a total of 17,451 such capsules since last August.

The pills -- filled with the dried and powdered flesh of foetuses or dead infants -- were intercepted in the mail or in customs searches at airports.

The customs service said that apart from ethical questions the capsules were contaminated with "super bacteria" and other disease-causing organisms.

Most pills were sent from the northeastern Chinese cities of Yanji and Jilin as well as cities including Qingdao and Tianjin at the request of customers in South Korea, it said.

Some were hidden in packages of legitimate drugs to disguise their contents.

Officials now closely monitor flights from "certain Chinese regions" and inspect all the luggage of all passengers far more often than before, Kim Soo-Yeon, a Korea Customs official in charge of customs clearance told AFP.

Bringing in such pills breaches a regulation banning items that "violate social dignity and customs", he said.

I’ll let you vomit for a while.

Why are we trading with China? The communist dictatorship, the forced labour, the cheap slave wages, the brutal oppression, the organ trafficking, the forced abortions and infanticides, the poisonings and the filth aren’t enough to turn the average consumer and governments off?

Widespread rejections of a tentative agreement that was supposed to bring an end to the tumultuous confrontation over university tuition increases in Quebec, now in its 13th week, flowed fast and furious Tuesday.

Leading German politicians warned Greece on Tuesday that the country would not receive a cent more aid unless it fulfills all the conditions of its international bailout.

An election on Sunday in Greece failed to deliver a parliamentary majority for the two big pro-bailout parties, plunging the country into political limbo and increasing the risk that another vote may be required to resolve the impasse.

Why not just let Greece flop? It won’t learn anything until that happens.

Why aren’t students taught- properly taught- Canadian history? How do we build our nation and maintain it when the agenda is anything other than transcribing and remembering how this nation was forged?

Canadians today are far better schooled than their predecessors, saying that they are better educated is a bit questionable, yet despite spending more time in school they seem to be taught less. It isn't that at some point some earnest history teacher tried to explain responsible government to his young wards and they forgot later on. Nope. It just doesn't get taught, or the history that does get taught is so biased and false that ignorance would be preferable….

It's difficult to feel much of a sense of pride in a nation built by dull bigots. That's rather the point. Our historical amnesia is not the product of an administrative accident. Mistakes like these are never accidental. If people don't remember what Canada was like before, say, 1963 it becomes much easier to redefine Canadian identity. The old Canada was certainly a less humane and enlightened place than today. So was every other country in the world. Bigotry, superstition and tyranny are par for human experience. The Canada of John A and McGee had less of all three than most nations in the world before or even since.

Like Oliver Cromwell told the painter, warts and all. If you focus too much on either you distort the picture. Replacing hagiography with historical libel is not progress, it's just switching one agenda for another. It's fine to have a historical thesis, without some sort of intellectual framework history would otherwise become a large and disconnected data set of names and dates. Yet even the undergraduate essay writer is suppose to bring up and deal with opposing arguments. Modern textbook writers seem to have lower standards.

Instead little Johnny Canuck leaves school wondering why people make such a fuss over John A. Didn't he just stagger around drunk and hang Louis Riel? Once upon a time grandma and grandpa might have corrected Johnny by mumbling something about a railroad and nation building. Unfortunately this "killing" of Canadian history has been going on so long most people don't remember the other bits. Like those moments of sobriety when John A, Cartier, McGee, Galt and Brown sat around a table and hammered out the political framework for the country. The details stuff.

If you think Canada is important, a nation worth surviving and growing into the future, then promoting Canadian history is the first step. Like the fella said, no past means no future.

(thank you)

Canadians may soon be able to apply for passports that do not reveal their gender.

“Passport Canada policy in relation to the gender indicated on passports is the subject of a review,” reads a briefing note obtained by La Presse newspaper in an Access to Information request.

On Tuesday, Passport Canada spokeswoman Béatrice Fénelon confirmed that “the policy regarding transgender people is still under review.”

Although the details of the change are not yet known, Canada may follow the Australian example and allow Canadians to mark their sex as “X” rather than “M” or “F.” Or the agency may simply streamline the process for transgendered people to obtain a passport denoting their new sex.

Under current requirements, Canadians can change the sex on their passport only if they provide medical proof of having undergone gender-reassignment surgery. If they are still in transition they can obtain a temporary two-year passport by furnishing medical documents showing the surgery is scheduled for sometime in the next 12 months.

Critics note the policy effectively excludes a minority of transgendered people who identify with a different gender, yet are unwilling or unable to undergo genital surgery.

How mentally dissonant are we as a society when this is even entertained for a moment? Identity politics, particularly those for whom the movie The Crying Game was a manifesto, are crammed down our throats and now they hardly matter on a government document that allows a citizen to travel from country to country?

Flashback: jump to the forty-three second mark and let the stupidity hit you square in the head.

Children are being brainwashed in Toronto. Strangely, I’m not surprised, however sickened.

When someone as stupid as Joe Biden presumes to know something about Catholicism- or anything else, really- do not take him at his word. Don’t look him in the eye. Move away from him. 

Could the Ten Commandments be reduced to six, a federal judge asked Monday.

Would that neutralize the religious overtones of a commandments display that has the Giles County School Board in legal hot water?

That unorthodox suggestion was made by Judge Michael Urbanski during oral arguments over whether the display amounts to a governmental endorsement of religion, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by a student at Narrows High School.

After raising many pointed questions about whether the commandments pass legal muster, the judge referred the case to mediation - with a suggestion:

Remove the first four commandments, which are clearly religious in nature, and leave the remaining six, which make more secular commands, such as do not kill or steal.

Ever since the lawsuit was filed in September amid heated community reaction, school officials have said the display is not religious because it also includes historical documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

"If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn't it make sense for Giles County to say, 'Let's go back and just post the bottom six?'" Urbanski asked during a motions hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

"But if it's really about God, then they wouldn't be willing to do that."

After delaying a ruling on the lawsuit, Urbanski directed attorneys on both sides to meet with Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou, who will lead mediation sessions in the coming weeks.

If those discussions do not produce a settlement, Urbanski must decide whether the school board had religious intentions when it voted 3-2 last June to put the commandments back up after angry public reaction to their earlier removal.

That decision will be guided by a myriad of precedent-setting cases that have prohibited the Ten Commandments in schools and other public buildings, such as courthouses, while permitting them under certain, narrow circumstances.

There is no federal case allowing the commandments in a school, said Rebecca Glenberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the student. While Urbanski agreed, he called the details of the Giles County dispute "very nuanced."

Brought to you from the same people who don’t like Christmas pageants.

I won’t stick around for the plagues.

Tensions remain high in central Java, where a crowd of a thousand Islamic extremists have targeted a shrine to the Virgin Mary: For security reasons, yesterday the authorities suspended the programmed church service, while dozens of policemen and soldiers guarding the place of Christian worship, fearing further - possible - violence. According to the protesters, incited by Muslim extremists, the building has no building permit required by law (the infamous IMB) and, over time, from "simple house of prayer" it has become a real church. The faithful respond that "in more than 40 years" there has never been an incident of sectarian nature.

After the three Christian churches - two Catholic and one Protestant - were forcibly closed in Java in recent days (see AsiaNews 07/05/12 Extremist threats in Aceh: authorities close three churches), the attention of Indonesian Islamic extremists has now shifted to the shrine of Lady Mary in Sengon Kerep, Sampang sub-district in Gedangsari in Gunung Kidul regency in Yogyakarta (Central Java province). Sunday, May 6th a mob of a thousand fanatics tried to seal off the building, but the intervention of soldiers and police foiled the attack.

The full name of the shrine of the Virgin Mary (pictured) is Taman Maria Giri Wning Sengon Kerep and in local language, it means "The garden of the silence of Mary Sengon Kerep". Over the past three years the place of worship has undergone a major restoration work, and has always attracted a huge crowd of believers with one purpose: prayer.

Ms Lomas has walked around two miles a day of the 26.2-mile route, cheered on by husband Dan, mother Joyce and 13-month-old daughter Maisie.

The 32-year-old, from Eye Kettleby, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, was left paralysed from the chest down following a horse riding accident in 2007.

But despite this she set off on April 22 with 36,000 people participating in the marathon. As she crossed the finishing line on The Mall today, she became the first person to complete any marathon using a bionic ReWalk suit.

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