Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Post

Your post-Christmas Day round-up...

What Christmas was like in countries where police escorts are a must:

Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in three separate Christmas Day bombings in Baghdad, killing at least 37 people, officials said Wednesday.  In one attack, a car bomb went off near a church in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, killing at least 26 people and wounding 38, a police officer said.
Earlier, two bombs ripped through a nearby outdoor market simultaneously in the Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21, the officer said…
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq’s dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, often has been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as heretics.

The embattled GKI Yasmin congregation in Bogor, West Java celebrated yet another Christmas in a makeshift worship space this year, in exile from their own church, which remains sealed off despite two Supreme Court rulings in the congregation’s favor.

If I was a Christian Arab, I would enlist because my life truly does depend on joining the army:

Dozens of Israeli soldiers respectfully rose from their seats as the Israeli national anthem began playing. The tinny recording of “Hatikva,” an ode to the Jewish yearning for the Land of Israel, wrapped up a ceremony, held in Hebrew, during which speakers thanked the troops and handed out awards.

It looked like a typical motivational gathering for soldiers of the Jewish state — except that nearly all those in uniform weren’t Jews and Hebrew wasn’t their first language. They were Christian Arabs, a minority that has historically viewed itself as part of the Palestinian people and considered service in the army as taboo.

The gathering — a pre-Christmas nod to Christian soldiers, who nibbled on cookies and chocolate Santas — was part of a new push by Israel’s government and a Greek Orthodox priest to persuade more Christians to enlist.

The campaign has set off an emotional debate about identity among Christians, a tiny minority within Israel’s predominantly Muslim Arab minority. So far the numbers of Christian Arabs enlisting is negligible, but with the community’s fate possibly at stake, tempers have flared and each side has accused the other of using scare tactics and incitement.

Father Gabriel Nadaf, the priest promoting enlistment, said Christians must serve in the army if they want to integrate into Israeli society and win access to jobs. “I believe in the shared fate of the Christian minority and the Jewish state,” he told the conference, held at a local hotel.
His spokesman warned that unlike Israel, the rest of the Middle East is a dangerous place for Christians. “They are burning churches, they are slaughtering them (Christians), they are raping the girls,” said the aide, Shadi Khalloul, referring to the targeting of Christian communities in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere by Islamic militants.

 Some people are STILL without power after winter storms.

Fearing being exposed as incompetent or wasteful lost information,  the Department of Aboriginal Affairs wanted to ban the use of USB drives to transport data:

Fearing it may lose sensitive information on First Nations peoples, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs decided earlier this year to ban the use of USB keys to transport data — then realized instituting the new rule without an alternate plan was doomed to fail.

That conclusion came after a security blitz in March that found “vulnerabilities that needed to be addressed” within the department, according to a briefing note to the deputy minister. That briefing note went on to say that a ban on the use of portable data devices “is known,” but enshrining it in policy was no simple task.

“Issuing direction before it can be enforced and before the tools are available to support compliance, encourages people to disregard it. This increases the risk of intentional breaches,” the note says.

That note is dated July 29.

One would think the "worst ordeal" was being in a Russian prison:

Even after getting arrested at gunpoint, spending two months in a Russian jail, and a third in limbo while awaiting his exit visa, Greenpeace activist Alexandre Paul says the protest was worth it.

(Sidebar: arrested at gunpoint? Really?)

In fact, the 35-year-old Montrealer doesn't hesitate when asked whether he would do it again.

"Give me two weeks vacation and I'd go back out there (on another boat)," Paul said in an interview Friday at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, shortly after arriving home.

The Russian authorities should have shuffled these morons to one of its prisons on the far side of the country and released them the following year.

Why is it everyone's fault that they never read "The Gulag Archipelago" or any book, really?

Yet another problem with China's draconian one-child policy:

Chinese travel far and wide to join their families for the Lunar New Year holiday, but for 60-year-old Xie, whose only child died seven years ago, China's biggest holiday is a reminder that she faces old age with little in the way of financial support.

Her daughter, Juanjuan, was 29 when she died, leaving her parents in the ranks of China's more than a million "shidu" families, or those who have lost their only child, in a country where parents have traditionally relied on their children to look after them in old age.

"We Chinese always consider the child as the most important thing. If the child is gone, the whole family breaks down," said Xie, a retired senior technician living in southeastern Jiangxi province, who declined to give her full name to protect her family's privacy.

Many shidu parents are victims of China's strict family planning policy, which since the late 1970s has restricted most families to one child, and have stepped up calls for compensation.

China says the policy has averted 400 million births, preventing the population from spiraling out of control. But now it plans to ease the restrictions, fearing that they are undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly ageing population the country has no hope of supporting financially.

On Thursday, the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced an increase in compensation for shidu couples - although it failed to raise much cheer ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, or Spring Festival, at the end of January.

Because nothing says: "sorry about your one dead kid" like a payout that never comes.

Laying it on thick for a total moron:

Mr. Rodman, I cannot presume to tell you to cancel your trip to North Korea. It is your right as an American to travel wherever you wish and to say whatever you want. It is your right to drink fancy wines and enjoy yourself in luxurious parties, as you reportedly did in your previous trips to Pyongyang. But as you have a fun time with the dictator, please try to think about what he and his family have done and continue to do. Just last week, Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of his uncle. Recent satellite pictures show that some of the North’s labor camps, including Camp 14, may be expanding. The U.N. World Food Programme says four out of five North Koreans are hungry. Severe malnutrition has stunted and cognitively impaired hundreds of thousands of children. Young North Korean women fleeing the country in search of food are often sold into human-trafficking rings in China and beyond.


And now, a happy story:

A Halifax woman had a very Merry Christmas after her seven-month-old black cat ‘Meow-Meow’ returned home.

Meow-Meow went missing Sunday evening, near North and Clifton streets, wearing a festive red sweater with the Peanuts’ character Snoopy on the back.

Owner Chantelle Rideout was thankful to have him back.

“3 a.m. on Christmas morning, and we found Meow-Meow!Thanks everyone for your help and kindness!” she tweeted.

Rideout was especially worried because Meow-Meow is an indoor cat.

“We’re hoping, a little bit, for a Christmas miracle and that he makes it home by Christmas,” said Rideout, a few days after her cat ran away.

In terms of Meow-Meow’s festive Christmas sweater, Rideout said it’s not his only outfit.

“We just bought him a couple of shirts and people said he probably wouldn't like them but he at least doesn’t seem to mind them. He always has one on,” she said.

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