Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Post

"And the heaven departed as a book folded up: and every mountain, and the islands were moved out of their places.
 And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and tribunes, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of mountains ..."

This has nothing to do with Islam:

The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab appears to call on followers to attack shopping malls in the United States, U.K., France, and Canada and has released a video naming West Edmonton Mall as a possible target.

Most of the recording posted to YouTube on Saturday glorifies the attack by the Somalia-based group on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where gunmen killed about 60 people in September 2013.

Close to the end of the nearly 77-minute video, a masked man with an English accent calls on "Muslim brothers to target the disbelievers wherever they are" and lists a number of shopping centres that could be attacked in the West.

"If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centres across the world," the man says.

"What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, or in London's Oxford Street, or any of the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centres dotted right across the western world?" he continues.

Both West Edmonton Mall and the Mall of America are owned by Canada's Ghermezian family, who are of Iranian-Jewish origins.

A masked man suggested that jihadists could attack shopping centres in the West in a YouTube video posted Saturday. (YouTube)
The CBC thought it best to blur out this man's eyes. (photo credit here)
Nor this:

Or this:

Carry on.

If ISIS did this, there would be slightly more bloodshed:

Saudi Arabia's morality police detained a group of young men for dancing at a birthday party and referred them to prosecutors, according to a state-linked media report.

The news website Ayn al-Youm reported Saturday that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice raided a private property in the city of Buraydah, arresting the men inside for "loud music and inappropriate dancing."

Buraydah is the provincial capital of Saudi Arabia's Qassim province, which is home to some of the kingdom's most conservative clerics, who practice a strict interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism.

An unnamed official told the website that when members of the morality police raided the private property, they found the young men in "a comprising situation in their dance and shameful movements." The official said there was also a cake and candles to celebrate one of the men's birthdays.

No details were released about how many men were arrested or their ages. The official did, however, say that the young men's hairstyles and dress were not traditional, and urged parents to monitor this kind of behaviour "because it can lead to immorality and even homosexuality."

A hashtag on Twitter quickly went viral about the arrest, with many Saudis ridiculing the raid and pointing out that the men were not caught drinking alcohol or partying with women — both crimes in Saudi Arabia.

Others shared photos of Saudi royals performing a traditional men's sword dance, though supporters of the raid claim that form of dance is socially acceptable and "masculine."

At this point, there should be gender-wags all over this. 

A bomb has killed at least two people, including a police officer, and injured at least 10 more people at a rally in Ukraine's second city Kharkiv. ...

The explosion in Kharkiv happened at 13:20 (11:20 GMT) as people gathered near the city's Palace of Sport for a march in support of national unity, Ukrainian media say.

Officials initially said an explosive device had been thrown from a car but later said it had been buried in the snow. ...

"Security service detained persons who may have been involved in the preparation and carrying out of crimes of a terrorist nature in Kharkiv, including the explosion," security spokesman Markian Lubkivskyi wrote on his Facebook page.

He later said the four suspects were Ukrainian citizens who had received instruction and weapons in the Russian city of Belgorod, just across the border. ...

That attack was blamed on a pro-Russian group calling itself the Kharkiv Partisans.

I'm sure the Ukrainians will deal with these pro-Russian partisans accordingly.

In a blog post for the Council on Foreign Relations, Snyder cautiously concludes that North’s cereal production is “stable and improving” — from 5.93 million tons last year to 5.94 million tons this year, a more generous characterization than the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report he cites, which calls North Korea’s food production “stagnant.” …

The UN FAO estimates that this year’s deficit will be 407,000 tons. That’s still low by historical North Korean standards, but hardly a sign that happy days are here again. The FAO also tells us that the impoverished government of North Korea only intends to import 300,000 tons, leaving an “uncovered deficit” of 107,000 tons. …

Snyder is honest enough to admit some weaknesses in his conclusion. For one, the UN FAO estimate he cites relies on Pyongyang’s own food production statistics, because this year (glasnost alert!), Pyongyang wouldn’t let the FAO do an on-the-ground food security assessment. But that’s no cause for alarm; after all, North Korea wouldn’t try to falsify information about its food supply or manipulate aid agencies, would it?

Snyder also admits that North Korea’s winter crops are falling well short of forecasts, a point that caused aid groups to warn of another food crisis recently …

This bring us to another problem. Even if North Korea is growing more food, that doesn’t mean the people are eating more of it. It’s no good to produce more food if regime officials simply seize what they consider to be “surplus” crops for export. And as Snyder concedes, “growing income inequality in North Korea has resulted in continuing malnutrition among some sectors of the population, especially in rural areas.” …

My main issue with Snyder’s post, however, is his conclusion … First, here again is the urban legend that our sanctions against North Korea have been strong, and thus properly tested as a tool of policy. 
For those who haven’t yet read it, I’ve refuted that argument here. It’s certainly true that sanctions have been enforced poorly by just about everyone — from the Chinese, to the South Koreans, to the Obama Administration, and most recently, the Russians. Private jets don’t import themselves, after all.

My real problem with Snyder’s argument, however, is its implication that sanctions would target North Korea’s food supply. I don’t know a single sanctions proponent who wants to target North Korea’s food supply or starve innocent people.
Why, exactly, are we aiding a Stalinist state this way. If you want to help North Koreans, send them DVDs, flash drives and breakfast bars and let Japan and South Korea arm themselves with the big guns.

The bigger scandal is that people will vote for Wynne and the Liberal party again and again:

There was a moment in her news conference Friday when embattled Premier Kathleen Wynne sounded like a big, bad bully.

Just when you thought she’d be contrite and understand she’s in an ugly little corner, she came out punching, saying MPPs from other parties had come to her and the Liberals seeking appointments in return for giving up their seats.

That’s a pretty stunning allegation for someone who has two party members — one a senior member of her own staff — under investigation by both the OPP and Elections Ontario for what Elections Ontario CEO Greg Essensa calls, “apparent contraventions of Subsection 96.1(E) of the Election Act.”

This on top of an OPP investigation into allegations during the recent Sudbury byelection by former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier that he was offered a job or an appointment to step aside to make way for the star candidate freshly poached from the federal NDP, Glenn Thibeault.

Wynne’s stunning allegations appeared to be a challenge to the other two parties: Shut up or we’ll name you.

Stop making a noise about these nasty little allegations or we’ll shame you.

I’m not an expert in criminal law, so if there’s a lawyer out there or a cop who can help, can you clarify?

Is that blackmail?

Look, when you’re in a hole – stop digging.

And the Liberals are in a very deep hole right now.

And a merry Ninja Day to all y'all.

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