Monday, February 27, 2017

Tempus Fugit

... when in the midst of amusement...


Convicted killer Kelly Ellard has been granted temporary escorted absences from prison to attend doctor's appointments and parenting programs for her baby.

Presumably so she can learn that mashing out a cigarette on a baby's head is bad for him.

On the Korean Peninsula:

South Korean intelligence believes suspects wanted for the murder of the half-brother of North Korea's leader included several officials who worked for the reclusive state's foreign and security ministries, according to lawmakers in Seoul.

Kim Jong Nam was killed earlier this month at a Malaysian airport by assassins using VX nerve agent, a chemical capable of killing in minutes and listed by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

South Korea is acutely sensitive to developments in its unpredictable nuclear-armed neighbor, and intelligence agency officials have briefed lawmakers on the sensational killing of the estranged half-brother of the North's leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has not acknowledged the victim is Kim Jong Nam. But South Korean and U.S. officials believe Kim, who had criticized his family's control of the isolated state, was assassinated by agents of the North.

"Among eight suspects in this case four are from the ministry of state security and two who actually took action are from the foreign ministry," Lee Cheol-woo, one of the lawmakers briefed by South Korean intelligence, told reporters.

"That is why it is a case of terrorism led by the state, directly organized by the ministry of state security and the foreign ministry," Lee added. 


While the size of the North’s stockpile is notoriously difficult to ascertain, the U.S.-based nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative, says the country is believed to be among the world’s largest possessors of chemical weapons. It estimates that the North ranks third — after the United States and Russia — with between 2,500 and 5,000 metric tons in its arsenal, the majority of which are nerve agents such as sarin and VX. At maximum capacity, the North is thought to be capable of producing up to 12,000 tons of the weapons.

But despite the massive amount, concerns over the North’s chemical threat have in recent years been largely drowned out by its growing nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.

Pyongyang conducted two nuclear tests last year and Kim Jong Un said in January that the country was in the final stages of preparations for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.

“The North’s chemical program has kind of fallen under the radar in most analysis about the threat perceptions emanating from the North, as most concerns — rightfully so — focus on the conventional programs and also the nuclear and missile efforts,” said J. Berkshire Miller, a Tokyo-based international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“That said,” Miller added, “intelligence communities in the West and South Korea have warned for years about the dangers of the North’s chemical and biological weapons program and their potential use in asymmetric ways should the Kim regime feel threatened.”

While nuclear weapons are seen as a strategic deterrent meant to maintain the Kim dynasty’s grip on power, chemical arms would likely have an operational role in any wartime scenario, analysts say. Its rockets and missiles, including the intermediate-range Rodong with a range of 1,000-1,500 km, could be tipped with a chemical-laden warhead for strikes on much of Japan.

“It is possible that North Korea could target Japan with the missiles it has tested,” said Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander of the U.K.’s chemical and biological regiment who now works as a private consultant. “It is much easier to put VX in a warhead on a missile than to put a nuclear warhead on it. They could have a payload of up to 500 kg, which would be a considerable amount of VX and if fired at a city could create many casualties.”

If that is the case, the South Koreans and the Japanese have a new problem on their hands.


China is developing hypersonic weapons with an eye to piercing the missile defense shields of Japan and East Asian neighbors, according to a magazine specializing in Chinese military affairs.
The so-called Rocket Force of China’s People’s Liberation Army has recently devised a hypersonic weapons development program in light of Japanese and Taiwanese missile defense systems, as well as South Korea’s planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield, according to the Canada-based Kanwa Defense Review.

Hypersonic weapons are next-generation maneuvering strike vehicles launched atop ballistic missiles that travel at speeds of up to Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound. They maneuver and glide along the edge of space, making them very difficult for missile defenses to shoot down.

The United States and Russia have also been aggressive about developing hypersonic strike capability. It is thought that Japan’s antimissile system could be made impotent if Beijing’s development of hypersonic weapons advances.

This is why Japan needs to nuclearise.

Or develop its gigantic robot technology.

One of the few remaining Bataan Death march survivors has passed away at age ninety-six:

Lester Tenney, a former U.S. prisoner of war held by the Imperial Japanese Army and a survivor of the notorious 1942 Bataan Death March, died at a nursing facility Friday in Carlsbad, California, a local newspaper reported. He was 96.

The Chicago native was one of 60,000 to 80,000 U.S. and Filipino POWs forced to march more than 100 km (60 miles) to a prison camp on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines during World War II. 

Many died on the journey from malnutrition, thirst and abuse or rampant torture and murder. The event was later judged as a war crime.

He was forced to work at a coal mine in southwestern Japan from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945. After returning to the U.S., he became a college professor.

When he visited Japan in 2010, then-Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada apologized to Tenney for the inhumane treatment he suffered at the hands of his captors.

Civilians run for their lives as Iraqi forces seize a bridge into Mosul:

Iraqi forces seized a damaged Mosul bridge on Monday which could link up their units on either side of the Tigris river, as thousands of civilians fled the fighting for Islamic State's remaining stronghold in the west of the city.

U.S.-backed army and police units advanced through populated western districts, fighting tough street battles, and announced they had captured Mosul's southernmost bridge.

Once repaired, the bridge could help bring reinforcements and supplies from the eastern side, piling pressure on the militants dug in the western side among 750,000 civilians.

A sinkhole in Iraq is perhaps one of the largest mass graves where ISIS dropped the bodies of its victims:

The sinkhole that could be the largest mass grave in Iraq's latest conflict is barely visible from the road, nothing more than a small depression behind a desert ridge near Mosul.
The place known as the Khasfah (an Arabic word for a crack or a hole that opens up in the ground) was once a local curiosity, a natural formation that many locals believe was caused by a meteorite.

But the Islamic State group transformed it into a "place of death" after capturing the area in June 2014, using it as an execution site and a mass grave where they disposed of victims, according to local residents.

"They would bring them blindfolded, their hands tied behind their backs. The Khasfah would be in front of them, they would make them kneel down, shoot them in the head and push them in," said Mohamed Yassin, 56, a resident of the nearby town of Hammam al-Alil.

A retired soldier, he said he saw people being executed at the site on several occasions after IS captured the area in June 2014.

He was in the area regularly, transporting oil from a site just metres away, and said he saw executions there at least six times.

Most of those killed, he said, were policeman, soldiers or government employees, judged guilty for their association with the Iraqi state.

"People became afraid of the place, it became a place of death, a place where you'd be executed."

Not even all Muslims want Iqra Khalid's censorship motion to pass:

The term Islamophobia was created in the 1990s, when groups affiliated to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood decided to play victim for the purpose of beating down critics. It is also in sync with a constant push by the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) to turn any criticism of Islam or Muslims into blasphemy. Is this what we want in Canada? Blasphemy laws?

As a Canadian Muslim, I am very concerned about the direction we are headed in. My family and I came to Canada 29 years ago to embrace the values of a liberal democracy, of which freedom of speech is the most vital. M-103 will threaten free speech and goes directly against Canadian values. Canadians must speak out against this attack on their democratic values. But in many cases, people who are not prejudiced against any race or religion, but have concerns about this motion, are probably already feeling intimidated and may well choose to remain silent. This is the problem with motions like M-103. They cannot help but have a chilling effect on free speech and open debate. One need not be a cynic to suspect that’s actually the point, rather than a side effect.

It’s not laws, however, that will stop the rise of hate and bigotry. I believe that a motion like M-103 will only increase the frustration of ordinary Canadian who want (and have the right) to ask uncomfortable but necessary questions. Being concerned about creeping sharia is not phobic; questioning honour-based violence and FGM in Muslim-majority societies is not phobic. Furthermore, every citizen has the right to be concerned about the safety and security of their country. If they ask questions about radicalization leading to terrorism, that is not Islamophobic, but a reasonable response to the very real threat posed by Islamist terror groups to Canada and all other Western nations.

Sadly, the tragedy in Quebec is being used for political purposes to further the implementation of M-103. If there is to be any lesson learned from the murderous attack on innocent worshippers, it is that we need more intra-faith dialogue, discussion and debate. If M-103 is passed, it will silence constructive criticism and widen the gulf between Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians. It will hurt, not help, our efforts to build a more peaceful, tolerant and equal Canada. For these reasons, it is not phobic to oppose M-103. It is, in fact, the duty of every citizen of our democracy.

Mrs. Raza raises an interesting point which will no doubt be quashed: if there was ever a possibility for revision or reformation of Islam, it will never come to pass because no one is allowed to talk about it.

It will be Nathalie Des Rosiers and Iqra Khalid's fault.

It would not be right to place the blame entirely on them, however.

It is also the fault of those who voted for them, the Islamist groups that support this, the weak-willed populace that does nothing while the ruling party erodes its rights and freedoms away.

Also upsetting to the aforementioned censors:

One Christian man, Esam, from Qaraqosh, related what ISIS did after his sister's husband refused to convert to Islam: "He was crucified and tortured in front of his wife and children, who were forced to watch. They [ISIS] told him that if he loved Jesus that much, he would die like Jesus." The Islamic militants tortured his brother-in-law from 6 in the evening until 11: "[T]hey cut his stomach open and shot him before leaving him hanging, crucified." Two other members of Esam's family, a Christian couple, were abducted and separated by ISIS. To this day, the husband does not know where his wife is; he only knows that she was turned into a concubine, a sex-slave.

Karlus, a 29-year-old Christian, told how ISIS members broke into his elderly father's home in Batnaya and began to destroy crosses and tear up a picture of Christ. When Karlus tried to stop them, he was taken and tortured: they "hung him from the ceiling of the jail he was held in, by a rope attached to his left foot. As blood poured from his foot, they beat and kicked him, rubbing salt into his wounds. He was sexually abused in prison by three women wearing niqabs [black veils]. He was told he would be shot dead," said the report. Seven weeks later he was released.

Another handful of Christians told how they "were threatened, forced to spit on a crucifix or convert to Islam," but they "miraculously survived more than two years under Islamic State group rule."

Mentioning these human rights abuses is Islamophobic. It is even more Islamophobic be a Christian in regions that were once Christian but, due to Mohammad's persuasive violence, are now Muslim.

It is perfectly reasonable to point out that some cultures are antediluvian and this is why:

Salimata was always told she should be proud to come from a family of wife beaters.

“You’re the daughter of a woman whose husband broke her hands. Your grandmother’s legs were fractured by her husband. You must be loved,” Salimata said, citing her mother’s words.

The 19-year-old woman from Mauritania’s Soninke ethnic group, married to a man who also beats her, said she taught herself to believe what her mother told her.

“I felt like an animal that had to be disciplined,” she said. “As time passed, I came to believe that my husband beats me only when he is at the peak of his love for me.”

I maintain that most schools in Canada are no better than puppy mills that do a great disservice to their students:

“Inflated grades create a lose-lose situation,” Tachynski told the board. Students whose teachers are administering more rigorous challenges may understand the material better, but have a lower grade on their transcript.

On the flip side, students with artificially high grades may flounder when admitted to college and university programs, he said.

There are any number of reasons why this is: administrative pressure to pass students who may or may not have earned the grades, no clear benchmarks or marking rubrics, parental pressure, teacher indolence.

The result is the same: students are not ready to deal with the challenges ahead.

But everything else looks good on paper.

And now, the sakura blossoms in Japan. Enjoy:


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