Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mid-Week Post

The crease of the week...

A happy Rosh Hashana to all y'all.

The corpse of New Brunswick has been found floating lifelessly in the Bay of Fundy Tuesday morning. Foul play is suspected (and I do mean foul):

Amid a bizarre vote-counting snafu, rookie politician Brian Gallant led his Liberal party to a majority election victory in New Brunswick, as voters rejected the Progressive Conservatives’ bid to jump-start a moribund economy by expanding its shale gas industry. ...

Before the count was stopped, Gallant’s Liberals and the Tories under David Alward were locked in a tight contest. That changed once the results were updated with the Liberals winning 27 ridings compared to the Progressive Conservatives with 21.

I'll never forget you, New Brunswick.

Justin Trudeau's feelings were hurt... or something:

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he will continue to snub English-language Sun Media reporters in protest of an opinion piece broadcast by Ezra Levant on his Sun News Network program, The Source.

And Trudeau has filed a complaint with Quebecor Inc., the Montreal-based company that owns Sun Media and Sun News Network.

Sun News Network is a news and opinion cable channel while Sun Media owns dozens of newspapers across the country including the largest French-language newspaper in the country, Le Journal de Montreal, the tabloid Sun newspapers, and several broadsheet daily papers such as the London Free Press and the Kingston Whig-Standard.

Trudeau's office said Levant, in a segment broadcast on Sept. 15, engaged in a personal attack that "was offensive and breached any reasonable measure of editorial integrity" and vowed that until Quebecor resolves the matter, Trudeau will "continue to not engage" with English-language Sun Media reporters or outlets.

For the last several months, Sun Media reporters have literally had to chase after Trudeau if they wanted to get the Liberal leader's thoughts on everything from climate change to fighting terrorists - and, in any event, Trudeau would often ignore them.

Glenn Garnett, Sun Media's editorial vice-president, says his organization is just the latest to be shut out by politicians who don't like the line of questioning from their reporters or the positions taken by their commentators.

Levant is not a reporter but writes an opinion column for the newspaper chain in addition to hosting a one-hour television show Monday-to-Friday.

The Fils had better man up. The prime minister's job is for big boys, not for arrogant trust-fund kids who snub reporters because their questions are too hard.

Why, exactly, do we need the UN?

Canada has received a request from the United States to increase its contribution to the military mission in Iraq and Stephen Harper said cabinet will soon decide on the government’s next steps.
The Prime Minister made the comments in New York during an event prior to speaking at the United Nations on security issues. Mr. Harper also said Canadian forces have been working in Iraq for several weeks and are currently the second-largest force, after the United States, working in support of Iraqi troops. ...

The meeting came amid escalating U.S.-led attacks against Islamic State militants, who are fighting to establish a Sunni Islamic state and already control large parts of Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials estimate some 15,000 foreign fighters from around the world have travelled to the region, fuelling concern that some may return to their home countries to launch domestic attacks. More than 130 Canadian citizens have left the country to join or fund extremist activities, Canadian officials say, including dozens who may have joined the Islamic State group.

The Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, but its capacity to address major crises has frequently been limited by disagreements among the five veto-wielding permanent members. The resolution could be difficult to enforce, particularly in countries like Canada and the U.S., which don’t conduct exit checks and have constitutional protections, including freedom to enter and leave, for citizens not convicted of a crime.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister said Canada’s anti-terror laws are under review, amid growing concern about threats against Canadians. And Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has indicated that the government is already revoking passports from suspected militants who have travelled abroad and is invalidating travel documents in some cases.

Mr. Harper’s participation in the Security Council meeting came four years after Canada’s failed attempt to win one of the Security Council’s rotating temporary seats in 2010. The rejection was an embarrassment for the government and Mr. Harper has skipped annual opportunities to speak at the United Nations General Assembly since that year.

This is the same UN that has done nothing to prevent or stop any war or massacre since its inception. It has China and Russia permanently sit on its security council. It gives a platform not only to the worst human rights abusers on the planet to any celebrity whose opinions should never be taken seriously.

It's time for Canada to withdraw from this toothless organisation and take our money with us.

A word on Khorasan, that mysterious group that is just now a danger to American national security:

On Tuesday, that campaign expanded for the first time into Syria, where a coalition led by the US, but also including five Arab states, has since launched aerial and naval missile attacks on over 16 ISIS positions at the time of writing. In a surprise additional move, the US also carried out 8 strikes on what the military called the “Khorasan Group,” a shadowy entity said to be an external Al-Qaeda cell embedded among units of Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian subsidiary, Jabhat al-Nusra. Despite the US’s implied distinction between so-called “Khorasan” members and regular Nusra Front fighters, it’s unclear to what extent that has held up on the ground, with some reports citing Syrian rebels and activists to the effect that the sites hit were well-known Nusra bases. ...

The general perception of ISIS as the world’s most dangerous jihadist outfit has been complicated recently by US intelligence claims of the existence of an external, elite Al-Qaeda cell sent personally by Zawahiri to join Nusra militants inside Syria, not to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime, but to plot spectacular, mass-casualty attacks on civilian targets in the West. This cell, dubbed the “Khorasan Group” in reference to the antiquated name used by Al-Qaeda for the region in which its members were previously based (including Iran, where the cell’s Kuwaiti leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was quietly hosted by the ruling regime) was said by Washington to pose a more “direct” threat to the West than ISIS. Or, rather, it was, until the “individuals plotting and planning” the attacks were “eliminated” Tuesday by US air strikes, in the words of Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

While American claims about the “Khorasan Group” are impossible to verify independently, Gartenstein-Ross told NOW they tallied with previous activities undertaken elsewhere by Al-Qaeda, such as in Yemen, where the Saudi bomb maker and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) member Ibrahim al-Asiri is believed to have developed the explosives used in numerous operations, such as the attempted Christmas Day 2009 blowing up of a passenger jet in Detroit.

At the same time, there is skepticism about the veracity of the US’s claims regarding “Khorasan” among some within the Syrian opposition, who see them as a pretext to weaken Nusra itself, which was designated a “terrorist” entity by the US in 2012.

“We have no idea who these people are,” said Qurai Zakarya, an opposition activist and survivor of the Assad regime’s August 2013 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. “Throughout all my work in Syria, I never heard about them. And other activists are saying the same.”

“Ever since we heard about them in the news, we’ve been trying to find out who they are and so far we have no answer. Nobody knows anything about them.”

Strangely enough, Khorasan, that threat to us all, was not mentioned once in Obama's address to the nation, itself given after months of ISIS' butchery.

A look inside life under ISIS:

A Syrian woman carried a hidden camera around the streets of Raqqa, a city controlled by ISIL. Somehow she smuggled her video out of Syria, and it was broadcast on French television. It has been on YouTube for a couple of days, but I didn’t learn about it until today. It doesn’t seem to have been too widely viewed, so you likely haven’t seen it either. There are guns everywhere, and a frightening moment when an armed stranger stops the woman as she is secretly filming and tells her she needs to “behave better”–he can see her face through her niqab. ...

What Putin wants:

There’s nothing really secret about Putin’s ambitions. In national security concept papers published in 2008 and 2009 the Kremlin makes clear, notes Janusz Bugajski, that Russia does not share Western interests. In these documents, the Kremlin sees American influence and NATO as a threat, pledges to defend the interests of Russians whenever they live, and claims privileged interests and rights in regions adjacent to Russia. Bugajski also brings our attention to a January 2012 Nezavisimaya Gazeta article authored by Putin, wherein the Russian president lays out a broad and ambitious vision for a new, multi-ethnic Russian empire based on “Russian values.”

Even if a number of his methods differ from Soviet methods of the past, Putin wants to reclaim parts of the Soviet empire. He understands that success abroad will strengthen his authoritarian hold at home. This was likely a large part of his angst at seeing Ukraine tilt toward Europe. Alternative liberal models so close to home cannot be tolerated, as they would naturally threaten Putin’s vision for Russia, his legitimacy and rule.

In case one still thought Putin wasn't an autocrat.

An interesting article on Russians in Estonia:

Nevertheless, as surveys show, local Russians largely disagree with Russian troops going into Estonia under the label of “protection of their compatriots.” Regardless of our different social and ideological backgrounds, we know how little Russia actually cares about Russians. Most of us are convinced that instead of “helping” compatriots outside the motherland borders, Russian authorities should deal with numerous human rights issues inside their own country. Here in Estonia, we do not need to be saved

Read the whole thing.

And now, enjoy some autumn foliage.


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