Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mid- Week Post

Quickly now....

Rioters in Quebec nearly ruin the tourist season and Putin plans on fining "unlawful" protests. Discuss.

Aerial shots showing a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 protesters spilling out of the Place des Festivals Tuesday evoked more peaceful times in Quebec. Usually when that many people fill the downtown site, it is for one of the International Jazz Festival’s free summer concerts.

As the tuition protests drag on with no resolution in sight, businesspeople and tourism officials are starting to worry that the overlap between the student movement and the festivals that define Montreal summer will not be just symbolic....

The link between tuition fees and Ferraris might not be immediately obvious, but from the beginning, the more radical protesters have framed their fight as a class struggle and declared their desire to disrupt the economy. The Grand Prix has been estimated to pump $89-million a year into the city’s economy.

Grand Prix organizers declined comment, but Gilbert Rozon, president and founder of Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival, said he is concerned the race could become a target. “This is a debate about left and right, and the Grand Prix is about big cars and rich people, so I suppose they are very nervous,” he said.

The nighttime protests that frequently end in vandalism and violence are tarnishing Montreal’s image, Mr. Rozon said. In April, the U.S. embassy in Ottawa warned American tourists of possible “unforeseen violence” in Montreal related to the protests. Hotel bookings are down, people are steering clear of downtown restaurants and even laughter is becoming a tough sell.

Mr. Rozon said some subscribers to his July comedy festival are saying they want to wait before buying tickets to see if the situation calms down.

“You work hard for years to build a good image. Montreal has a good image, as a fun city, a place where you go an enjoy life and you’re going to have a great party time,” he said. “What’s going on now is not scary but certainly troubling.”

Mr. Brown said members of his 77-hotel association are starting to report cancellations and slower-than-expected bookings. “The longer this goes on, the more people become aware and the more doubts are created, and we are therefore not in the sunniest situation,” he said.

Pierre Bellerose, vice-president of research for Tourism Montreal, said the number of visitors has held steady so far, but there is concern that tourists will start to be turned off by news of the protests. “So far so good, but we are arriving at a stage where we start worrying,” he said.


President Vladimir Putin signalled his support Wednesday for a controversial bill now working its way through Russia’s parliament that would increase fines 200-fold for those taking part in unsanctioned protests.

The bill received preliminary approval Tuesday in the elected lower house, where the Kremlin’s United Russia party holds a majority. All three of the other parties voted against it.

Observers’ reports of widespread fraud to boost results for United Russia in December’s parliamentary election set off mass street protests that were unprecedented in post-Soviet Russia. The protests have evolved into regular rallies and, in Moscow, continuous Occupy-style demonstrations decrying Putin’s subsequent election to a third presidential term.

Opposition lawmakers have warned that the new fines will only fuel broad outrage and destabilize Russia by depriving the public of a legal way to voice grievances. The bill raises fines for joining unsanctioned rallies from the current maximum of 5,000 rubles (US$160) to 1,000,000 rubles (US$32,250).
Yet Putin defended the bill Wednesday, describing it as “strengthening democracy.”

The rule of the mob and the rule of the dictator are not too dissimilar. Granted the rule of the mob doesn't hold a candle to the perversely titled "human rights commissions" in Canada but it's just as limiting as the tyrant the mob wishes it could emulate.

The culturally sensitive Taliban sent one hundred and twenty-two girls to the hospital with symptoms of poisoning:

More than 120 girls and three teachers were admitted to an Afghanistan hospital Wednesday after being poisoned in their classes with a type of spray, a Takhar provincial official said.

The incident occurred in the provincial capital of Talokhan, in the Bibi Hajera girls school, said Dr. Hafizullah Safi, director of public health for the northern Afghanistan province.

Forty of the 122 girls were still hospitalized, he said, with symptoms including dizziness, vomiting, headaches and loss of consciousness.

Blood samples have been sent to Kabul in an effort to determine the substance used, he said.

"A number of girls from 15 to 18 were brought from a school to hospital today," said hospital director Dr. Habibullah Rostaqi.

"Generally they are not in a critical condition. We are looking after them, but let's see what happens later. We understand so far from the situation ... they are more traumatized."

"The Afghan people know that the terrorists and the Taliban are doing these things to threaten girls and stop them going to school," said Khalilullah Aseer, spokesman for Takhar police. "That's something we and the people believe. Now we are implementing democracy in Afghanistan and we want girls to be educated, but the government's enemies don't want this."

(with thanks)

Remember- Canada was scolded for not properly feeding its citizens:

To North Korean defectors, it is clear that the civilian starvation is a direct result of the decision to prioritize the military under the military-first policy and the subsequent obligation on the part of cooperative farms to provide rice for soldiers, coupled to controls covering trading activities by farm employees.

 (thank you)

And now, your Avengers'-themed cocktails. Enjoy.

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