The clash of civilizations between the West and the Arab-Muslim world is characterized by one over-arching problem with the Arab-Muslim mentality: the exaggerated importance given to honour, and the peculiar interpretation of honour in the Arab-Muslim culture.
First, following the news will show that the almost paramount concern of Arabo-Muslim culture is defending your honour, or the honour of the clan. There are honour killings, "arguments" for terrorism in the name of national honour, and so on. The nation is an extension of the clan here. The point is that actions are taken to "defend" honour that are totally unreasonable. It's as if the culture was stuck in the 18th century where people were challenging each other to pistols at 10 paces... Second, the importance given to honour is greater than that given to life. It's as if the Arabo-Muslim culture saw it better to be dead than dishonoured (and if you die dishonoured, well you just plain suck). By contrast, life is much more important in the West, as in the saying, "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day." Ironically, Hezbollah keeps running away from the IDF so that civilians can be killed, but that's another post...
For this reason, amongst others, the West and the Arabo-Muslim world just don't see eye to eye. And it'll take some development in Arabo-Muslim culture whereby life is placed at a higher premium before the two can better understand each other.
After yesterday’s catastrophe at Kfar Kana in south Lebanon where civilians were mistakenly killed in an IAF bombing, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah’s popularity has soared to new heights in the Arab world. After having fortified terrorist positions inside south Lebanese villages, Nasrallah then initiated the conflict with the full knowledge of endangering the same villagers along Israel’s northern border. Furthermore Hezbollah continues to launch rocket attacks from within those villages in an effort to hide behind the human shield of civilians. The idea is to enjoy the best of both worlds; either Israel will not bomb the launchers and rocket arsenals and Hezbollah can continue firing unhindered or eventually there will be civilian casualties. For Nasrallah both options are excellent, as the first affords him freedom to fire at Israel and the second gives him a media victory. Furthermore the second option brings Lebanon (and Hezbollah) world sympathy due to civilian suffering.
Despite the destruction he reigns down on Lebanon, Nasrallah is now an Arab World hero. Some compare him to Gamal Abdul Nasser who led Egypt from 1954-70. Other great Arab heroes of the last decades include Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, PLO leader Yasir Arafat and of course the elusive Osama bin Laden. Heroes embody the highest values of a society and are to be emulated. None of the above ever led a democracy, nor was such a form of government ever desired in the Arab world. All of the above preferred war and military might over the betterment of their societies, and where monies for social welfare were distributed, it was done as a means to gain adherents and not for the objectives of closing economic gaps or working for social harmony. This is obvious when reading the hate filled textbooks, covenants and charters published by these leaders and their followers. All were viciously anti-West (even if the French had some influence and connections) and rejected universal human rights as a value.
All initiated unnecessary wars (Nasser – 1967 Six Day War and War of Attrition 1967-70, Saddam – War against Iran 1980-88 and First Gulf War with the invasion of Kuwait 1990-91, Arafat – Continuous terrorism from the 1960s, War in Lebanon 1982 and Conflict against Israel 2000-04 and bin Laden - War against the USA on 9/11/2001, brought another war to Afghanistan and terror attacks world wide while massacring Shi’ites in Iraq). None particularly developed their societies and although both Nasser and Saddam did make efforts in that direction, military glory and modern weaponry were always a greater priority. Their own people suffered terribly and all repressed any possible opposition. In general they were quite beloved by many in their own societies (except possibly Saddam) but all are seen by the vast majority of the Arab world as authentic heroes.
On the other hand, leaders like Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan who made peace with Israel and worked to bring economic prosperity and a bit of democracy to their peoples are reviled and seen as traitors by many. For aligning themselves with the West they are branded as American lackeys.
Nasrallah now joins the Arab Pantheon after many in the Arab world initially distanced themselves from Hezbollah’s ideology, terrorist activities and initiation of hostilities with Israel. The Shi’ite neighborhoods of Beirut containing Hezbollah’s security complex and its Baka’a Valley strongholds and villages in south Lebanon are in a shambles as is the Lebanese economy, after 20 days of confronting Israel. However, a rising number of Arabs and Moslems throughout the Middle East and the world display his picture prominently, showing great reverence.
Similar to those before him, he is seen as restoring honor to the Arab/Moslem world in his never ending battles against the West (in this case Israel and even the US). Although following an Iranian Khomeinist Shi’ite line, the man in the street sees him as one who will never relent, even if it means total destruction for Lebanon. After Kana his opposition in that country must remain mute for the foreseeable future or be deemed traitors. Even the pro-West Lebanese PM Fuad Seniora and his government have lined up with Hezbollah’s demands for an immediate unconditional ceasefire with no concessions made by Nasrallah.
Lebanon was on its way to a more prosperous, democratic lifestyle until Hezbollah initiated its war against Israel. Today Lebanese society faces destruction and dislocation as Hezbollah enjoys full official support. When Nasrallah and the above mentioned are no longer presented as heroes to Arab children there will finally be hope for permanent peace and development in the Middle East.
There are exactly four weeks left in the Green Party leadership race and things appear to be as intense as they’re going to get. A few debates have taken place; a few more are on the way. The candidates are still making the rounds, meeting with supporters, publicizing their endorsements and hoping for the best.
While Jim Fannon has run in several Green leadership campaigns, most would agree that the main contenders here are Elizabeth May and David Chernushenko. Chernushenko was deputy leader under outgoing leader Jim Harris; May was the president of the Sierra Club. Chernushenko is advocating a grassroots-based approach to campaigning; May is extolling the virtues of activism.
In the end, there isn’t a world of difference between the two. They have different ideas for party policy but both recognize that policy is determined by the party and not the leader. They both want to put ordinary people at the centre of the party – Chernushenko with grassroots action and May with activist endeavors. One might argue that there isn’t much of a difference. They both want to get beyond the “one-issue party” stigma that’s surrounded the Green Party for years. They both want to see the party leader included in federal leadership debates, increase its share of the popular vote and elect MPs.
With the many varied issues surrounding this campaign, one might not think that one of the most publicized is whose French skills are better. Chernushenko is purportedly fluently trilingual (he speaks Ukrainian in addition to Canada’s official languages). May speaks English and French, and isn’t doing most of the talking about the languages themselves. Chernushenko maintains that his French skills are among his main selling points. The majority of the testimonials (and even blog entries) posted on his website are about why he feels it’s important to have a leader who can communicate as effectively in French as in English – and speak comfortable, conversational French. One of his blog entries even received a comment from a reader that asked whether this was the only reasons why he felt he should be elected leader.
Another key difference is in their general presentations of themselves. May appears to want to come across as well-connected, which she undoubtedly is. Her website features photos of her with such easily recognizable figures as Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, David Suzuki and the Dalai Lama. Those endorsing her include singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer and author and poet Margaret Atwood. In contrast, Chernushenko appears to present himself as more of a ‘man of the people’-type. The photos on his website are of him posing with party supporters and volunteers at meet-and-greets and potluck dinners. He says that he “know(s) this party” and goes on to say that he’d be the kind of leader who wouldn’t hesitate to get into the trenches with candidates and volunteers, put up signs or knock on doors. And he says that this, not “a star candidate,” is what the party needs. If that’s not a direct shot at May, I don’t know what is.
Nonetheless, the overall tone of the campaign has remained extremely civil. Even the perceived left-right split within the party doesn’t seem to be a substantial issue; May’s supporters include former Conservative volunteers despite the fact that she is perceived as the more “left-wing” candidate. Similarly, Chernushenko’s reputation of being more “right-wing” hasn’t stopped a wide range of party members – including those who were critical of outgoing leader Jim Harris’s rightward push – from rallying behind him.
At this point in the game, only two things are certain: the final showdown will be very interesting, and the Green Party will be able to choose a new leader in two years if the next one doesn’t work out.
From Honest Reporting Canada comes this monitoring of the evidently mediocre Mark MacKinnon's media/journalism skills. MacKinnon is amongst the hordes of anti-Israel journalists who've never met a black libel they didn't like.
In April 2002, Israel's military operation to root out terrorists in Jenin showed what happens when news media report unproven claims. Many journalists repeated false claims that over 500 Palestinians were "massacred" by Israel. Even "chief Palestinian negotiator" Saeb Erekat promoted this lie, which was later exposed in a follow-up interview. Watch the clips, courtesy of Global TV's "Jenin: Massacring Truth", by clicking on the before-and-after images below:
Manufacturing A New Myth?
In response to this kind of media manipulation, the only safe course for journalists is to stick to the facts. Reporters who file stories based on unproven allegations are doing their readers a disservice.
But the Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon did just that. MacKinnon filed a story today (July 26) entitled "Toll higher than stated, civilians say," replete with unproven charges against Israel by people who have no credibility with Canadian readers.
Reporting from the Hezbollah strongholdof Tyre in south Lebanon, MacKinnon quoted a Red Cross worker, a mortician, a medical student and a motorcyclist who collectively implied that Israel intentionally targets civilians, killing many more civilians than reported by the Lebanese government.
Some of the claims MacKinnon printed include:
"'Israel has failed on the ground, so they're hitting civilians.'"
"Of the dead he's seen, Mr. Shadi says, 'maybe 3 per cent' were men. The rest were women and children. 'They're not targeting fighters.'"
"They're just hitting civilians. I don't think there's a reason for it."
MacKinnon paraphrased Israel as saying "its aim is only to uproot the Islamic militia's infrastructure in south Lebanon." But he immediately cast doubt on Israel's claim by presenting unnamed "medical staff" who speculated that "most of those killed and wounded to date have no apparent link to Hezbollah."
But exactly who were these individuals whose claims MacKinnon published? Were they random people he encountered? Did his Lebanese translator take him to them? Or did a "Hezbollah press officer" make the introductions? MacKinnon didn't say. But considering that Tyre is home to Hezbollah loyalists and rocket crews, MacKinnon should explain why he took its residents at their word.
Anyone reading the mediocre media would here plenty of impassioned calls for the UN to send a "peace-keeping force" - what peace they would keep, I do not know - to establish a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon. The problem these impassioned (inebriated, rather?) speakers are unaware of is that such a force actually exists, and obviously has been a total failure to date.
As a matter of fact, a kidnapping of an Israeli civilian once took place while the UN's force (UNIFIL) did nothing. Which just reminds us that kidnappings are unfortunately one of the Lebanese terrorists' favourite provocation tools...
This website has more info for those who want to read up on Israel and Lebanon (though I object to their name which references an non-existant entity). Israel's foreign ministry also has some useful reading on the past of Israel and Lebanon's relationship.
On a related note, the UN is remarkably adept at allowing violence to take place. Current UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was head of the UN's peacekeeping division at the time of the Rwandan massacres in the mid-90s. He closed his eyes and limited the UN's forces there - forces whose Canadian leader, General Romeo Dallaire, would later criticize Annan bitterly - which inaction and criminal negligence has been documented in "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998), a book by Philip Gourevitch.
The current genocide in Sudan's western province of Darfur is unsurprisingly getting the same treatment at the UN. That is, none. For more on Darfur, check out Students Taking Action Now: Darfur.
"IDF sources reported heavy gun battles between soldiers from the Golani Brigade and Hizbullah guerrillas, and said that some of the shooting was taking place at point-blank range in homes and courtyards."
"In addition to a cease-fire, Ahmadinejad called for talks on the Lebanon crisis without conditions, and demanded Israel compensate the country and apologize for its actions. He also denied US claims that Iran provides military support for Hizbullah, saying it only supports the movement politically and morally."
"The IDF presented a weapon seized during fighting with Hizbullah operatives in Lebanon: an RPG marked with the logo of the Iranian military industry."
Lebanese President and Syrian Stooge Emil Lahoud supports Hezbollah. With leaders like that, who needs enemies?
Dry Bones makes a good point about the French. "There'll be an international fighting force... led by the French. - Which will it be?" I.e. a force, or the French wimps who'll probably let hell continue... On a related note, Lebanese blogger Raja has some pictures of what Lebanon was like before Hezbollah decided it needed more political capital and chose to attack Israel. On
More calls are taking place to have Hezbollah comply with UN resolution 1559. Which we all know won't happen, because the UN is a helpless organization, and because the Arab/Muslim voting bloc controls it anyways, and will just have this one blow over in time.
Finally, only a few more months of tolerating Kofi Annan, until the UN's Buffoon in Chief (guess the acronym that makes for) ends his term, in December 2006. Hopefully the next Secretary-General will be a bit more efficient and intelligent, especially vis-a-vis Israel and Darfur.
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Yet more news that the most of the mainstream media really are irresponsible idiots. From the Jerusalem Post comes this story concerning the Mediocre Media of the week, the World Press Federation. The WPF have taken a "principled stand" to defend Iran/Syria/Hezballah's call to exterminate the Jewish people. (Which reminds me of that time I encouraged fellow bloggers to remove their links to Al Jazeera.)
These buffoons at the WPF obviously don't understand that with any freedom inevitably comes responsibility. There are limits to any freedom, and the World Press Federation would do well to understand this.
Israel will leave the World Press Federation if the organization does not retract its comment regarding the IDF's attacks on a television station belonging to the Hizbullah Al-Manar TV, Army Radio reported Sunday.
The Federation stated that Israel's attacks were against the principle of the freedom of the press.
An official letter written to the Federation by Israeli reporters states that the condemnation of Israel's actions represents overt support for terrorism.
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This is yet another example of Hezballah intentionally mingling with Lebanese civilians and civilian institutions to provoke collateral damages. My question is this: How can Hezballah claim to protect Lebanon and Lebanese civilians when it intentionally draws fire at them?
Canadian and American Jewish federations are raising funds to help move children in Israel's north further south, so that they may be out of range of Hezballah's Katyusha rockets.
I'd like to ask all my readers to make a donation to this crucial emergency fund to save the children. It takes 3 or four minutes on a 56 k modem, closer to 2 minutes on broadband. I've already made my pledge of $180, or 10 times the numerical equivalent of the letters in the hebrew word Chai, which means 'Life'.
For my Jewish and Christian readers, I'd like to remind you of the religious duty to give charity (and of the fact that these donations are tax deductible, for those of you to whom that's important). In Judaism it's called Tzedakah, and is fixed at 10%, or Ma'aser. Christianity calls it the tithe, and also fixes it at 10%.
You can also post a button on your site.
To add the larger image, copy the following code: (a href="http://www.ujc.org")(img src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4611/1938/1600/Israeli%20Lifesaver.jpg" border="0" alt="Israeli Fundraiser Lifesaver" /)(/a)(br)(a href="http://centrerion.blogspot.com/2006/07/north-american-jews-fundraising-for.html")Design Credit: (b)Centrerion Canadian Politics(/b)(/a)
To add the smaller image to your site, copy the following code: (a href="http://www.ujc.org")(img src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4611/1938/320/Israeli%20Lifesaver%20Button.0.jpg" border="0" alt="Israeli Fundraiser Button" /)(/a)(br)(a href="http://centrerion.blogspot.com/2006/07/north-american-jews-fundraising-for.html")Design Credit: (b)Centrerion Canadian Politics(/b)(/a)
The end result works like this (click it to go to the UJC donation site):
-Welcome Carnival of the Insanities readers! If you want help regaining your sanity, I recommend this post on how you can help move Israeli children out of rocket range. On with the destruction of the insanities of "restraint," "proportionality," and other nonsense!
According to the mediocre mainstream media (here in Canada, at least) Israel's a great big meanie for using "disproportionate" force, for fighting without regard for a "measured response." It's amazing the ridiculous ideas the media's self-appointed luminaries will come up with sometimes in order to vilify Israel! In the following lines, I will proceed to blow up - pardon the pun - the incredibly stupid ideas that are "proportionality," "restraint," "measured reactions" and so on.
There are three problems with the media's call for Israel to restrain itself.
First, it's illogical for anyone to defend themselves with one hand tied behind their back. The purpose of having a defence force is to dissuade enemies from attacking, and to respond when they do. The point is that the myth of "disproportionate" force rests upon the idea a defence force is only there to intimidate enemies and dissuade them. This is simply not the case.
Second, the media's suggestion that Israel should measure its use of force is just another example of the ludicrous hypocrisy the media treats Israel with. The double standard essentially holds Israel to a different code of conduct than others. Where are the media when the Canadian forces are fighting the Taliban? Are we to expect our Canadian troops to "restrain" themselves and use "proportionate" force?
Third, there is no such thing as "proportionate" force, so there can't be something such as "disproportionate force." Should Israel have killed a dozen Hezballah fighters and captured two more in response to Hezballah's provocation? That would have been numerically equal. Should they count the number of shells, bullets, ball bearings, nails and other junk Hezballah fires at Israeli citizens, and then respond with an equivalent amount of munitions? Would a 2:1 ratio be acceptable?
I recall former US President Bill Clinto trying what might be called a "measured response," back when al-Qaeda bombed US embassies in Africa. He sent a few cruise missiles at Ben-Laden camps in the area. Look how effective that was...
The Lebanese government has failed to disarm Hezballah and put an end to its military power. Instead, Hezballah is a sovereign power unto itself in Southern Lebanon, and the Lebanese government's incompetence in restraining Hezballah has cost Israeli lives. The only possible meaning for restraint in the current conflagration of the Israeli-Arab conflict if for Hezballah to be reigned in and its military wing destroyed. The onus is on the Lebanese government to restrain Hezballah and put an end to its terrorism.
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Now, fans and readers of the Mediocre Media carnival here will know that the New York Times is often one to get the story wrong, often pathetically so. But this time around, I'm going to give credit where it's due, and recognize the Grey Lady's great coverage of the pro-Israel rally in NYC.
What was so great? Well, for one it was unbiased, and for another, it had the honesty to show the Russians and French for what they are: Dhimmitude promoting hypocrites.
"If your cities were shelled the way ours were,' he said, as if directly addressing those countries, 'you would use much more force than we are or we ever will.'
Mr. Gillerman did not name any country. But then, he didn’t have to. Everyone understood he was referring to France and Russia. Both have used "disproportionate" to describe Israel's latest actions — Russia, which has killed thousands in Chechnya to suppress a separatist movement, and France, which in 1985 blew up a ship owned by Greenpeace (killing a person in the process) because that group of environmentalists had the temerity to protest French nuclear tests in the Pacific."
Later today, I'll be destroying the idiotic idea of "Proportionate" and "Restrained" response.
Where Canadian Politics are concerned, Google trusts the US. I get Google Alerts, for Canadian politics, and somehow, this came up. Ignoring the repetition (highlighted with pink exlamation marks) of some Aurora Ohio analyst's piece, how is it Google trusts Americans more than Canadians to analyze Canadian politics?
Wars are all too often started as a result of a minor miscalculation, and the current violence in the Middle East provides an excellent example of this fact. Wednesday's Hizbullah attack on an IDF patrol that left three soldiers dead and two captured was an attempt by the Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization to achieve a number of strategic objectives at a limited price.
With one assault, Hizbullah hoped to improve its position in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world, show its support for Hamas as it battles the IDF in Gaza, and divert attention from Iran as the world pressures that country to cease its efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal. In order to accomplish all of the above, Hizbullah executed a bold ambush on the Israeli side of the border, with a quick escape back to Lebanon with its IDF captives.
Having accomplished its mission, all that remained was to hunker down and outlast the anticipated weak Israeli response as Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that he had no interest in an escalation of violence and was prepared to negotiate to exchange the IDF captives for terrorists held by Israel. Nasrallah miscalculated. Big time.
To be fair, Israel contributed its share to the miscalculation. In a day of fighting last month, Hizbullah initiated an unprovoked attack against Northern Israel, and the IDF responded with heavy fire against the terrorists' positions across the border, destroying nearly all within sight. Late in the afternoon, Hizbullah requested a cease fire, and Israel responded immediately in the affirmative. Nasrallah understood that he was capable of igniting the violence and extinguishing it at will. On that assumption, he launched last Wednesday's attack. Israel's response was significantly harsher than he anticipated.
Despite Hizbullah's ability to launch multiple barrages against civilian targets in Israel (as of this evening, over 760 rockets have landed in Northern Israel, killing four Israeli civilians and wounding dozens), the IDF has devastated Hizbullah targets with attacks from the air, land and sea, as well as inflicting significant damage to Lebanon's national infrastructure. Nasrallah himself was apparently trapped in the bunker beneath his destroyed headquarters, and has not been heard from since another IAF air strike on the same target late this afternoon.
The message being transmitted to Lebanon and Hizbullah as well as the rest of Israel's enemies in the Middle East is a clear one: anyone can easily start a war with Israel, but that adventure may be a costly one, and ending it can be a far more complicated affair. The issue is not simply the return of the captured soldiers and retaliation for the deaths of their comrades; it is whether Israel's sovereignty can be violated with impunity by an organization with aspirations to annihilate the Jewish State. Hizbullah and Lebanon are currently learning the answer to that question and the lesson will likely continue for at least the next few days.
Says Don: "Some journalists even demanded an investigation. The NYT called for an special prosecutor. This was madness. This was political payback because Novak dares to be a conservative voice. If some lefty crackpot like Robert Scheer were under attack by a federal prosecutor, you bet your boots NYT would be wrapping him in the First Amendment."
Seems like the NY Times ain't all it's cracked up to be, after all. Says Muse: "They have their agenda, and it's too easy to prove them wrong." What I like about Muse's posts is that she submits them under the category of ethics and morality, pointing out the weak ethical standards in the media.
As you can imagine, Ashok's got a penchant for history. Ashok [vaguely] describes his posts thus: "They can be taken to be symbolic of an age when media was less technology driven, and more about attempting to communicate that which was highest."
Unfortunately, that's all we have for this carnival. There would probably be more, but the thing is that I was lazy around the posting of the last carnival and didn't bother trackbacking, so people who might otherwise have submitted again didn't share their criticisms with us this time around.
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-Welcome to the carnival readers who are here for some laughs at the int'l jihad's expense. I'll get to the humour in a moment. Just before though, if I might, I'd like to point your attention to how you can save Israeli children by donating to a campaign moving the children out of Hezbollah's Katyusha rocket range. I've donated, and I hope I can thankyou ahead of time for your own generosity.-
So apparently, the terrorists have protected their jihad with the almighty shield of a Creative Commons copyright (scroll down towards the bottom). You know where the marketing of this is going, right?
"Coming soon, to a Holy War near you... Suicide Servers! They explode at peak traffic times to reach their 72 blue screens of death! Run on powerful 'in-Jail inside' processors, these little martyrs will kill large numbers of infidel java scripts! Of course, they come with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. For a limited time only, get your Sword of Jihad mainframe at the low, low price of 2.99 wives!"
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Fighting in Israel has erupted again as terrorist group Hizballah attacked and kidnapped 2 Israeli soldiers, while killing 8 others. Lebanon's Council of Ministers has denied responsibility.
Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has said the kidnappings will be treated as the acts of a sovereign country. The Jerusalem Post quotes Olmert as saying it was an "act of war."
Then, what do you make of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah's denial that the government even knew? Nasrallah said in a press conference that this was solely Hizballah's act.
The question is, can it be considered an act of war when the government's Council of Ministers refuses responsibility for the act? (Though, in contradiction with Nasrallah, the Hizballah ministers and a Cabinet ally opposed the statement...) Can you not consider it an act of war when the perpetrating group (Hizballah) is part of the government?
The answers to these questions will naturally be of key importance to how Israel reacts.
The paramount question, though, hasn't yet been asked. What does the international community do with the real Axis of Evil? Namely, what is to be done with Syria, Iran, Hizballah and Hamas?
Update 2: Apparently, some of the terrorists involved in the Shalit kidnapping have been injured in an assassination attempt. Additionally, Hamas has fired more Qassam rockets at Israel.
Update 3: In what may be payback for the recent hacking of Israeli servers, it appears Hizballah's Al-Manar is offline. Google search brought me to the channel's website, which could not be found. In fact, upon further investigationg, BOTH of the almanar websites are out. Great!
Update 4: Oh, but apparently islamic digest is still running. What I find absolutely hilarious is that even the terrorists use Google ads! Not only that, but Dairy Salami (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where the Hizballah webmasters are stationed) also has bandwidth problems! Of course, lest anyone plagiarize their jihad, the lot of it is protected under a Creative Commons copyright.
Ah yes, the wonders of technology breakdowns truly are great.
Recently, the Green Party of Canada and its leadership race have been given lots of press here. I had promised pictures from the Green Party's leadership debate here in Montreal that took place in June, and I've finally transferred them to the computer.
For anyone who missed it, I interviewed the Green Party's leadership candidate Elizabeth May. The interview filled over a dozen pages in word, so it's broken up into parts 1,
I also have two posts worth of notes on the Montreal leadershipdebate, and links to video of the debate (pictured above). The people in the pictures are, from left, the debate moderator; David Chernushenko, Green Party of Canada leadership candidate; and Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada leadership candidate. Absent from the debate was Jim Fannon, the Greens' third leadership candidate.
On a related note, I encourage everyone to go check out the Green carnival at Ester Republic.
Canadian politics in the matter of health care revolve around two debates. The first debate on health care concerns waiting lines and their public/private solutions. The second debate on our political scene revolves around the integration of immigrant doctors into our medical system.
Canada's Debate on Waiting Lines
From what I've understood, Canadian politicians present two models of waiting lines, which is where the fundamental disagreements lie. Public or private solutions to the problem depend on which model you believe in.
Some Canadians argue for private health care as follows. When waiting for the public health care system to serve you, quitting the line to go to a private doctor speeds things up both for you, and for the people behind you in line, who move up one spot.
Other Canadians argue for public health care. They say that doctors operating privately, as mentioned above, actually slow things down for everyone who can't afford their services. These people argue that if these doctors were working in the public domain, the public waiting line would move faster.
There are subsections to the debate. These include ethical questions. For example, people debate whether only those able to pay for them be able to obtain what are termed 'luxury health care services' such as teeth braces. Others point out anecdotal evidence that private care treats patients faster than public health care, measuring time from the moment the patient's turn arives to the moment they leave the hospital/clinic.
One of the most interesting opinions on the issue comes from Dr. Michael Rachlis, who suggests traffic management techniques might solve the waiting lines problem. He argues that we have the capacity to treat people, but are just creating traffic jams through mismanagement.
Personally, I think this debate in Canadian politics could be put to rest simply and easily by running experiments. First, these would determine exactly what model is actually functioning and which functons best (probably somewhere in between the models named above). Second, experiments should be run to find out what exactly makes turnaround times faster in the anecdotal evidence named above.
Canadian Politics on Foreign Doctors
Every federal party is officially in favour of integrating foreign doctors. Except that all the talk doesn't seem to amount to much.
In part, this is because the jurisdiction for health care is provincial. The federal government can't exactly legislate on this. However, it can provide incentives.
For example, the federal government could offer tax incentives to doctors here in Quebec. In return, the medical order would facilitate the entry into its ranks of foreign doctors who've recently immigrated. As the order is partly a lobby group, this sort of collective tax break would obviously be in its members interests and would be hard to refuse.
So the state of Canadian politics on health care is one where important challenges are facing us concerning waiting lines, how health care is provided, and who is to provide it. Solutions do exist. However, they will require courage from Canada's politicians, and a willingness to try new things rather than to keep up the rhetoric.
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What Is the State of Canadian Politics? I was recently asking myself this in an effort to determine where I stand on things, and how Canada's political scene is doing.
The following is the first installment in my issue by issue breakdown of the state of Canadian politics, covering 10 key areas. As I see things, the ten most important dossiers to the Canadian political arena today are:
the judicial system,
social equality (of opportunity), and
National security - As the debate in Parliament and throughout civil society shows, national security is at the forefront of everyone's minds. Luckily, this importance is commensurate with this issues' importance (as opposed to the exaggerated attention given to the Prime Minister's waistline).
Where politics are concerned, the essential issue here is to legislate sufficient powers and budgets to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (Canada's spy agency). This also relates to co-operating with our allies abroad in order to prevent terrorist attacks.
Sharing and circulating the information gathered by CSIS and its foreign counterparts is of course essential, but we should not limit ourselves to this. The Canadian Forces' role is to defend Canadians (hence the political responsibility for them falling to the Minister of Defence). In that capacity it is entirely logical and reasonable for them to be sent abroad to fight terrorists.
This isn't to say that Canadian troops are misused as peacekeepers. Canada's defence is served when we help foreigners maintain peace and quiet in their countries, not least because our peacekeepers share liberal values with the people they meet. (Note the use of the word share; the Canadian Forces do not coerce foreigners to adopt liberal values. They don't threaten to quit their duties abroad unless locals adopt liberalism, for example.)
However, the role of the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force is not limited to peace-keeping, and it is important to understand that (especially in many capital-l Liberal camps, and in some Green circles...).
Here, the state of Canadian politics is improving, but still vulnerable. Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives are honestly interested in stopping terrorists away from Canadian soil, and have deployed Canadian troops accordingly. (The Toronto arrests can't be attributed to Harper's government, though. That investigation was ongoing prior to his taking power.)
Unfortunately, a large number of politicians are disgustingly hypocritical and duplicitous, or perhaps simply plain naive about this. Thus you have politicians who will acknowledge that Canada is threatened by terrorists - and then will object to any measure aiming to parry the threat!
Ironically, these politicians think that they are gaining the Arab vote by such a "principled stand for civil rights," yet Canadian Arabs have strongly condemned terrorism and have stated that they want to be defended from terrorists just like the rest of the Canadian electorate!
Foreign Affairs - For much of the past decade, mostly under the aptly named Lloyd Axworthy and his predecessors, Canada consistently voted against Israel at the United Nations. All-too-frequently Canada voiced support for motions that picked on and singled out Israel while whitewashing the terrorist crimes committed against it.
Under ex-Prime Minister Paul Martin, positive change was beginning to be seen in this dossier (prior to which, Chretien's government was awful). This trend is being continued by Canada's current Conservative government. The reason this example is cited is to highlight the shift in Canada's foreign policy. It used to be head-in-the-sand and is now openly recognizing challenges abroad and who our real allies are in that regard.
Here, as with Canada's discussion of national security, terrorism, Afghanistan and al-Qaeda dominate our political discourse. For good reason: Islamic fundamentalism (the ideology uniting Islamist terrorists, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Iran's Ahmadinejad, Hamas and others) is the greatest challenge of our times. Having discussed Canadian national security above, I will consider the economic component of our foreign politic.
Trade and aid are the most important areas here. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been strongly criticized for allowing companies to sue governments over laws they perceive as harming their trade interests. The result of this has been to make politicians hesitant about legislating on trade, even though they may be legitimately defending citizens' interests.
That being said, Canada has a strong fair trade movement and an equally important movement aimed at increasing our foreign aid.
The foremost consideration our government's legislators should have in mind when making Canada's policy in this regard are to advance Canadian economic interests while respecting other nations. In effect, it is the foreign trade parallel to the judicial concept of limits to freedom.
The state of Canadian politics is here improving too, because of the growth of the collective Canadian social consciousness. Here, NAFTA's environmental success has been mixed, and the rise of maquiladoras in Mexico that provide poor working conditions is nothing our Foreign Ministry should be proud of.
On the other hand, Canadian activists are at work in almost any forsaken corner of the world you could thing of that could use a helping hand. Granted this isn't government foreign policy, but I think it's a grassroots foreign policy that deserves to be taken note of. It's part of Canadian culture, and that is reflected in the pressure Canadians are placing on politicians to increase aid to 0.7% of GDP.
In Stephen Harper's shoes, I would compromise with the national security hypocrites who acknowledge a problem and try to prevent solutions. I would grant them influence on foreign trade policy in exchange for a freer hand in foreign affairs-related considerations of national security.
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