Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Post

T’was the Friday before Christmas…

"Welcome to the club, boys."

A debate over whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear face-covering niqabs while testifying at trial has wheeled its way through to the Supreme Court of Canada, where a seven-judge panel weighed religious and “fair trial” rights and issued a 65-page conclusion.
The result is a decision only negligibly clearer than those that preceded it. But what did we really expect?

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a split decision that niqabs will be allowed on the witness stand in some cases and not in others, leaving it up trial judges to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why not go further and declare that a woman’s testimony is largely irrelevant? Face-covering garments are not expressions of faith or culture but a deliberate expression of otherness and contempt for a culture that will never treat them like second-class cattle. 

For decades, North Korea’s communist regime sent agents abroad to abduct defectors, whose fate for abandoning the insular kingdom was imprisonment without trial, beatings, torture and death.

The abductions occurred mostly in South Korea and China but a man who admits to having taken part in the program was recently caught in Canada, prompting the government to seek his deportation.

Ottawa’s successful effort to obtain a deportation order against the state-sponsored abductor was described in an Immigration and Refugee Board decision released to the National Post on Wednesday.

But the case is being treated with such secrecy that much of the ruling was deleted by officials, apparently including the man’s name, age, nationality, when and how he came to Canada and what he was doing here.

All that is certain is that at a hearing in Vancouver in June, a lawyer representing the Minister of Public Safety argued the man was inadmissible to Canada for crimes against humanity. He had admitted his role in the abductions to a Canada Border Services Agency officer in January.

On Thursday, new information about the mysterious man emerged, notably that his name was Han and he was born in North Korea. His involvement in the North Korean foreign abduction program surfaced during interviews with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service after he arrived in Canada and attempted to make a refugee claim. He was deported to South Korea in August.

In an oral ruling, the Refugee Board said there was sufficient evidence the man had participated in the abduction of North Korean defectors as well as a South Korean pastor who had been helping the refugees.

While the man had claimed he did not know what happened to the victims after they were handed over to North Korean agents, the Refugee Board said he knowingly took part in the regime’s atrocities.

And what happens if the North Koreans attack South Korea? How questions are framed matters: as in past Chicago Council Surveys, in response to questions that imply unilateral rather than multilateral action, a majority opposes using U.S. troops to defend South Korea if North Korea invaded (56%). A slight majority of Republicans (51%) would support such an action; intriguingly, self-identified independents (36%) were more dovish than Democrats (40%). However, if this question is rephrased in terms of a multilateral effort under the banner of the United Nations, a majority (64%) supports using American troops, with the political breakdown yielding majorities of Democrats (64%), Republicans (70%), and Independents (60%).

The last time the Koreas had the UN involved, nothing was resolved. What’s new?

It’s Christmas time in Washington and this is what was stirring: Speaker of the House John Boehner’s plan to prevent tax hikes for anyone not earning one million dollars US or more and blocked cuts to defense was stymied by lack of support  (as if this in-fighting is constructive, RE: walk away) and all people could talk about was Paul Ryan’s tie.

You can blame (or not) anyone you want or cause them to resign but we know who is really responsible for Benghazi.

Russia realizes changes in Syria are needed but is concerned that the push to unseat President Bashar Assad's regime could plunge the country even deeper into violence, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

Putin's assessment came just a week after Russia's top envoy for Syria was quoted as saying Assad's forces were losing control of the country. Although the Foreign Ministry backpedaled on that statement, analysts have suggested for months that the Kremlin is resigned to losing its longtime ally.

At his annual hours-long news conference, Putin said Moscow stands for a settlement that would "prevent the country from breakup and an endless civil war. "Agreements based on a military victory can't be effective," he said.

Russia has repeatedly blocked international attempts to step up pressure on the Assad regime as it fights an increasingly strong armed opposition. That has brought substantial criticism of Russia as effectively supporting the regime, but Russia has said its stance isn't aimed at propping up Assad.

"We are not preoccupied that much with the fate of the Assad regime; we realize what's going on there and that the family has been in power for 40 years," Putin said. "Undoubtedly, there is a call for changes."

"We are worried about another thing: what happens next," he said. "We don't want to see the opposition come to power and start fighting the government that becomes the opposition, so that it goes on forever."

Assad represents stability. He’s an SOB and Russia’s SOB. However, Russia has proven itself to be friendly with whomever it wishes when it makes the effort. If the next (potential) government falls, who does it deal weapons with?

A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week's referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians' worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.

Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.

They made sure to go through mainly Christian districts of the city, where residents, fearing attacks, shuttered down their stores and stayed in their homes, witnesses said.

A gang of Islamic militants burned down the Bacho Tambon Administration Organisation office on Thursday, after failing to find any Buddhist employees to kill.

Seven armed men stormed into the offices of the Bacho TAO in Bacho district shortly after noon.
Abdulwaha Dulayapinij, the office’s chief administrator, told the police he and seven other employees were just leaving for lunch. 

''One of them fired a gun into the air and ordered everyone to stay put in Yawi [a Malay dialect spoken by Muslims in the South] and then asked if there were any Buddhist Thais working here,” Mr Abdulwaha said.

“I told him there were none, and the outlaw was upset and said I had lied to him.”

Mr Abdulwaha then explained there was a female Buddhist Thai civil servant identified as Suchada sae Li working at the TAO as a community development officer, level 3, but she was on leave.

Upset with the answer, two of the gunmen emptied a five-litre container of gasoline into the archive and equipment storage rooms, set fire to it, and then fled the scene. 

In the Middle East, children are being used by the adults who should be caring for them to turn them into jihadist weapons to conquer the world -- sometimes with bombs strapped onto them to kill their perceived enemies. Children are given gun training to learn how to kill Jews, and are told that dying for the sake of jihad is the highest honor and the only guarantee to go to heaven. If these are not abuses of the human rights of the child, what is? In the elementary school we attended in Gaza, the political and cultural agenda of the Arab world was pushed down our throats in effectively every subject.

American children today are also suffering from adult agendas shoved down their throats: the environmental agenda, the feminist agenda, the gay agenda, the Islamist agenda, the class-envy agenda, the racial-divide agendas, the animal-rights agenda, ad infinitum. What people in the West fail to see is that they, too, are using their children as weapons: as tools to bring about social, cultural and political change, often to destroy the American system as we know it and replace it with a new America that the popular culture and many Americans seem so desperate to accomplish.

When we can’t or won’t fight our battles, we hide behind the kids.

Conservative MP Nina Grewal, a Sikh who represents a Vancouver-area riding, said the following in a statement made to the House of Commons:

“Political correctness is diluting Christmas in a well-intentioned but necessary attempt to be inclusive. 

How can we as a society join together to celebrate Diwali, the Chinese New Year, Hanukkah and Vaisakhi but at the same time rob Christians of the true meaning of Christmas? 

As a Sikh, I am not offended when Christians celebrate Christmas in a traditional way. Rather, I am pleased to celebrate with my Christian friends. 

True diversity means respecting the traditions of all Canadians, including those of the Christian majority. 

Please join with me in wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.”

The pygmy right whale, a mysterious and elusive creature that rarely comes to shore, is the last living relative of an ancient group of whales long believed to be extinct, a new study suggests.

The findings, published today (Dec. 18) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, may help to explain why the enigmatic marine mammals look so different from any other living whale.

"The living pygmy right whale is, if you like, a remnant, almost like a living fossil," said Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "It's the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around."

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