Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mid-Week Post

It's time...

Hamas rejected an Egyptian brokered peace deal:

A brief respite from the violence in Gaza appeared imminent Wednesday after both sides agreed to a U.N-requested temporary cease-fire.
"Factions of the resistance have agreed to accept the offer of the UN regarding a 'field calm' for 5 hours from 10 AM until 3 PM (local time) Thursday for humanitarian needs," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zhuri said in a text message.

Israel had already accepted the proposal; however, the military warned it would not sit idle if attacked.

"Should the humanitarian window be exploited by Hamas or other terror organizations for the purpose of launching attacks against Israeli civilian or military targets the IDF will respond firmly and decisively," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

An effort to permanently stop the killing stalled Tuesday when Israel resumed airstrikes following a brief, one-sided cease-fire brokered by Egypt. While Israel paused for six hours, Hamas leaders rejected the deal and continued firing rockets.

That's right. The same organisation that started this conflict and that used/uses people as human shields is the same one that does not want an end to this conflict in which Israel, despite its restraint, is seen as the villain.

Speaking for the party, foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau issued the standard Liberal trope urging “all parties to without delay seek an immediate ceasefire,” as though Israel hasn’t been demanding it almost since the day it ceded control over Gaza many years ago. (Indeed, Israel accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal on Tuesday, and Hamas kept right on shooting.) The statement completely ignores the fact that Israel has been bombarded routinely with rocket fire from Gaza, aimed at civilian targets, and both Israel and to varying degrees Egypt have had to consistently work to interrupt the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the area.

The call for “all parties” is more evidence of the moral relativism that shows the total lack of spine in the Liberal foreign policy DNA.

This fact is made plainly evident when the comments of Mr. Garneau are contrasted with those offered as the official position of Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He said, “The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification. It is evident that Hamas is deliberately using human shields to further terror in the region.” And then he went on the say that “Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist attacks are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict.”

The difference is clear and another welcome sign of the moral clarity that has guided Canadian policy for the region.

A lawyer representing Meriam Ibrahim's family has dropped the case against her:

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

An appeals court quashed the death sentence late last month, but the government accused her of trying to leave Sudan with falsified South Sudanese travel papers, preventing her departure for America with her husband and two children.

The government has not formally dropped its accusation but Ibrahim was allowed to leave police custody after a brief detention on June 26.

Even after lifting the death penalty, Sudan refused to acknowledge Ibrahim's new identity as a South-Sudanese Christian, and the lawsuit by her family raised another obstacle to her departure.
At this point, it would be very prudent for Mrs. Ibrahim to make haste to the US but not before telling her family what a pack of rotters they are for ruining her life. Her Muslim father walked out on her, leaving her Christian mother to raise her, making the charge (yes, charge) of apostasy moot. The Muslim half of her family would never accept her even if she did convert to Islam. And God forbid one should question ownership of another human being or that one can choose another religion. That would just be nutty.

Is there a reason to ban golden rice?

From the beginning, Golden Rice was conceived as a project that could significantly improve global health, even though it seemed terribly futuristic when it was first proposed.

"Identified in the infancy of genetic engineering as having the potential for the biggest impact for the world’s poor, beta-carotene-producing rice was initially funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the European Union," writes Amy Harmon of The New York TimesBeta-carotene , the pigment that makes carrots and squash orange, turns into vitamin A in the human body. 

"In a decade of work culminating in 1999," Harmon writes, "two academic scientists, Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer, finally switched on the production of beta carotene by adding daffodil and bacteria DNA to the rice’s genome." Scientists later swapped out the daffodil DNA for corn DNA, vastly increasing the amount of beta-carotene in the special rice, whose resulting yellowish color resembled the flesh of a ripe mango. 

"From the outset, it seemed totally crazy," Potrykus said, in an interview with New Scientist, explaining what a longshot the technology was when they first tried it. "It was a surprise that it worked."

Many environmental groups voiced immediate concerns about Golden Rice and genetically modified food in general. (The scientific consensus on GM foods is that they are just as safe as any other food.) Neth DaƱo, an agricultural policy researcher and advocate in the Philippines, told NPR that some see Golden Rice as a public relations campaign for genetically modified foods and biotechnology, rather than the most pragmatic solution. ...

Finally, in a 2009 study, scientists showed that Golden Rice was an effective source of vitamin A, and i n a follow-up study, they found that it was as good as pure beta-carotene and better than spinach at providing vitamin A to children.

Professional tasters have even said that the high-tech rice tastes just like the original.

Today, five field trials are wrapping up in the Philippines, primarily testing whether the crop will behave in a way that makes it appealing to local farmers. Researchers will also do additional safety and efficacy testing before Golden Rice goes up for approval, which could happen as soon as 2016. ...

Golden Rice, once it is widely released, will be much more cost-effective, as agricultural economist Alexander Stein has shown. Despite common misconceptions, no one stands to get rich when poor farmers start growing Golden Rice. Instead, it will represent a fundamentally different approach, an embodiment of the old "teach a man to fish" adage. ...

Dr. Antonio Alfonso harvests Golden Rice during a field trial in The Philippines.

"It can be planted by the farmers using seeds from their own harvest and that would provide sustained supply of betacarotene," Antonio A. Alfonso, Ph.D., the Golden Rice project leader at the Philippine Rice Research Institute told Business Insider. "The bottom line is that [vitamin A deficiency] affects millions of children and women, making them prone to blindness and susceptible to common infections. Golden Rice, if given the chance, could help."

Patrick Moore, Ph.D., an early member of Greenpeace and an outspoken, sometimes controversial, advocate of Golden Rice, is even more emphatic. "At a certain point, you need to be willing to make a leap of faith," he said, in a phone interview. "The risk of not moving forward with this is the continuation of 2 million children dying every year."

"If Golden Rice were a medicine that could cure a disease like malaria," he added, "it would have been approved ages ago."

And now, watch as a puppy comforts an older dog having a nightmare:

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