Monday, July 11, 2016

She Traversed Through the Fenetre of the Powder Room

... or so one is told...

More shootings in the US, this time in Michigan:

Up to three people are dead after a shooting at a courthouse in southwestern Michigan, according to local media reports on Monday afternoon.

Britain is poised to have its second female prime minister but not of its citizens' own election. David Cameron has resigned and opted to leave office earlier than reported and a candidate for the leadership of the Conservatives withdrew from the leadership race:

Theresa May will become Britain’s new prime minister after her only rival abruptly quit the race and David Cameron revealed he will resign on Wednesday.

It's like everyone leaves a party without offering to clean up some of its mess.

Oh, what a surprise:

According to the Levada Center, 42 percent of Russians believe the election will be a mere imitation of political struggle. The turnout will probably be extremely low; if answers by those who do not plan to vote are taken into account, United Russia’s 55 percent shrinks to 35 percent. 

Putin has created a political climate and a system that make it unnecessary to rig the election. The news media are tightly controlled. The few relatively independent outlets are regularly shown that they have to toe the line. In a speech to a recent United Russia convention, Putin explained how he sees campaigning in today’s Russia, surrounded by enemies and saddled with Western sanctions ...

The Russian political climate is as stagnant as it has ever been: rife with corruption and a finger pointed at fictional Western apparatchiks in order to distract the electorate from the real issues.

What is as depraved as the attacks on women in Germany is the indifference the authorities have to their safety and to the truth:

At first, there was complete silence from officials. As rumors spread on social media, police had nothing to say about allegations of mass sexual assaults and other crimes carried out on New Year’s Eve in the German city of Cologne.

It was only days later that officials reported that hundreds of women were victims of assault in Cologne, Hamburg and other German cities.

But numbers that are now emerging are likely to shock a country still coming to terms with what happened in Cologne more than half a year ago. According to a leaked police document, published by Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR, the previous estimates have to be dramatically revised – upward.

Authorities now think that on New Year’s Eve, more than 1,200 women were sexually assaulted in various German cities, including more than 600 in Cologne and about 400 in Hamburg.

More than 2,000 men were allegedly involved, and 120 suspects – about half of them foreign nationals who had only recently arrived in Germany – have been identified.

Only four have been convicted, but more trials are underway.

 Speaking of censorship...

On June 27, 2016, The Rebel news outlet broke an exclusive investigative story about Syrian refugee-students who bullied others students at a New Brunswick high school, including “hitting on 14-15 year old girls”. The report was based on 2,700 official documents obtained by The Rebel through access to information request. All documents were posted online by The Rebel and are still accessible to the public.

The Toronto Star first reported the story on July 8, 2016. It was based on an article written by Kevin Bissett for the Canadian Press, and sent to all major media outlets in Canada.

From the around 1230 words of the original Canadian Press’ article only 223 words remained in the Star’s heavily edited article. The Star removed the detailed incidents of bullying and harassing students by the Syrian newcomers, and left its readers with only a general description of the events.

The heading of the article was also edited by the Star and changed from “Sudden influx of Syrian refugees overwhelmed N.B. high school: documents” to “New Brunswick educators overwhelmed with influx of foreign students: report.”

The following are excerpts from the Star’s edited article:

“A lack of support, including access to full-time translators, led to what frantic staff called “communication breakdowns” and culture clashes between Syrian refugee students, classmates, and teachers at a New Brunswick high school this year.
“More than 2,700 pages of documents reviewed by The Canadian Press detail the concerns of overwhelmed educators as they dealt with a sudden influx of students who didn’t speak English, may have been out of school for years, observed different religious practices, and came from war-affected countries.”

The following are excerpts from the Canadian Press’ article which was reprinted by Global News, Maclean’s and other media outlets:

“A lack of support, including access to full-time translators, led to what frantic staff called “communication breakdowns” and culture clashes between Syrian refugee students, classmates, and teachers at a New Brunswick high school this year.
“More than 2,700 pages of documents reviewed by The Canadian Press detail the concerns of overwhelmed educators as they dealt with a sudden influx of students who didn’t speak English, may have been out of school for years, observed different religious practices, and came from war-affected countries…

“We are living in a province where there are no official EAL (English as an alternative language) courses for high school, no alternate programming for war-affected youth, no personnel that have designated roles, like translator-interpreters, for example to help us settle youth down, make them feel at ease and help them navigate a whole new set of cultural and social norms,” wrote Chantal Lafargue, the department head for international students at Fredericton High School, in an email on March 30, 2016.
“That followed an earlier email in which she said that while educators from across New Brunswick were reaching out to her for advice, she didn’t have a voice at the provincial table “where the gaps and mechanisms of support are to be identified.”

“The documents repeatedly cite issues of tardiness and absenteeism among the 29 Syrian students at FHS and cultural confusion about gender roles. Some teachers complained about students refusing to speak English and using “peer pressure” to deter others who were trying.
“In another email, a teacher described an incident in class where a student was asked by some of the Syrian students to repeat a line in Arabic. When he did, it prompted snickering and laughing from the Arabic-speaking students. The teacher said another student told her that the line included foul language directed at a student from Israel.

“Lafargue also described an incident during a class discussion when a Syrian boy talked about RPGs – or rocket propelled grenades – and made loud noises and hand gestures. In a statement, David McTimoney, the school district superintendent, said a translator indicated it was a topic that “horrified” the boy.

“Other teachers described behavioural issues and younger students feeling intimidated by the older, non-English speaking students from Syria.
“Shawna Allen-VanderToorn, co-ordinator for English as a Second Language programs for the school district that includes Fredericton High, said the problems occurred because the district didn’t know how many immigrant students from Syria would be arriving or which schools would be affected.
“So we couldn’t just hire teachers and have them in place waiting. We had to put students in schools and adjust as we needed to adjust,” she said in an interview.

“But lengthy email exchanges about everything from parent-teacher interviews to special needs assessments show staff struggled to adjust, using the words “chaos” and “fragile” to describe the situation…”

Further proof that the popular press deserves to go under.

The same Ontario Liberal government that wasted money on the Pan-Am Games now believes it is time to favour doctors:

Ontario and its doctors have reached a tentative four-year agreement, including annual increases to the physician services budget.

A statement announcing the deal with the Ontario Medical Association, which represents 34,000 physicians and medical students, does not include the amount of the increases.

It’s been two years since the province had an agreement with the OMA, and the Liberal government has had a tense relationship with doctors since it unilaterally imposed some fee cuts last year.

Sydney Schanberg, friend of the late Dith Pran and who covered the culminating tragedy of the Killing Fields, has died:

Sydney Schanberg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent who chronicled the Khmer Rouge's brutal rise to power in Cambodia in the 1970s, died Saturday at age 82.

That gripping account by Schanberg and his story of his Cambodian friend and assistant Dith Pran's captivity under and survival of the Khmer Rouge reign of terror inspired the 1984 film "The Killing Fields" by director Roland Joffe.

Schanberg had suffered a massive heart attack Tuesday. He died in Poughkeepsie, New York, said his friend and former colleague at The New York Times, Charles Kaiser.

Black lives matter... except in Chicago:

Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.

The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)

Read the whole thing.

Would burden one to honestly examine the crime-ridden areas of major cities and then conclude that, perhaps, not every shooting is the result of bigotry or poor policing?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a vulture and I'm sure she waits by the highway for fresh roadkill:

“Think what would have happened had Justice Scalia remained with us,” she said. Instead of a single sentence announcing the tie, she suggested, a five-justice majority would have issued a precedent-setting decision dealing a lasting setback to Mr. Obama and the immigrants he had tried to protect.

And I thought that the late Antonin Scalia was her friend.

And now, what Biblical mosaics reveal about ancient Israel:

A University of North Carolina press release explains that the Noah’s Ark mosaic depicts the ark and pairs of animals, which include elephants, snakes, bears, ostriches, camels, goats, and more. The parting of the Red Sea mosaic, meanwhile, shows the Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by enormous fish while chariots and horses float by.

The excavations are directed by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina. Students and staff from UNC, Baylor University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Toronto have been helping with the dig.

Magness claims that the biblical mosaics are a truly monumental discovery. “These scenes are very rare in ancient synagogues,” she explains. “This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue.”

(Merci to all)

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