"Bin Laden's been popping off. Again." Yaakov Kirschner©April 24, 2006
Digitally republished with the permission of the author.
various stuff from my thawt and life in a news-bedevilled world, word play and semiotic experiments, with Christian intent but in hopefully creative tension with culture of North America, both USA and Canada, both hither in Toronto and yon worldwide ...
"Bin Laden's been popping off. Again." Yaakov Kirschner©April 24, 2006
Digitally republished with the permission of the author.
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 7:22 AM
Iraq has severely disappointed - in my case, hurt - many of its supporters, many of us who supported the risk of life and limb to American and allied forces there. The outrageous delays since the election in forming a government and thereby effectively allowing the intransigent Sunnis and foreign terrorists on one side, and the renegade Shi'ite militias like that of Moqtada Sadr together with the Iranian infiltrators crossing over the border: all this, plus the unresolved status of Christians (and other minority religions), and the status of women left hanging in jeopardy, all this and much more has left us discouraged and doubtful about the chances of any new government to pull the pieces together, establishing a stable civil order.
The President of the USA tries to rally us and to call upon us to help maintain the morale of the troops offering their very lives in that grim land of the Tigris and the Euphrates. So, for now, there's no thawt of breaking ranks; we Christians who accept possible use of the instruments of war, must indeed follow thru on the neo-Costantintian principle of continuing the deployment of the state power's armed force to stop the otherwise triumphant terrorists, whatever their religious claims. So be it.
But the ability of the Iraqi democracy to make timely decisions simply to put the proper processes in place, like determining a prime minister and choosing a cabinet is all in question now. There will be a probation period in which many of us will monitor the good faith of the Iraqi legislators. If they don't shape up as a functioning parliament, government, and cabinet: there simply will be consequences, sad to say. There's nothing infinite or eternal about American and Western willingness to keep an adolescent Iraq afloat when their elected leaders can't even agree on the basics of governing democratically. - Politicarp
Well, who is this new Prime Minster of the Government of Iraq? According to Sabrina Tavernise [New York Times and Seattle Times (Apr23,2k6)], and recording my quick Hat Tip to Mary Katherine Ham at Hugh Hewitt blog (click live-lined Blog-entry title above) for several sources:
Jawad al-Maliki, the Shiite politician selected Saturday to be Iraq's first permanent prime minister, is decisive and direct and known for speaking his mind, but he has little experience in governing, Iraqi political leaders said.That's putting a supportive spin on who and what we all must live with, a man with no experience in governing, some experience is legislative work, and perhaps a lot of good ideas and lots of determination. Beyond that we can't really say much, especially since we (at least, I) had a big illusion punctured when the Iraqui parliamentarians dawdled without a Prime Minister nor a Cabinet for what seemed an eternity.
Al-Maliki, 55, appeared stiff and nervous as he spoke for the first time after his nomination by Shiite political parties on Saturday morning. Flanked by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Iraq's most powerful Shiite politician, as well as Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the interim prime minister, he tersely addressed the Sunni fears that he would be too Shiite for the job.
"Those who take responsibility in the new government will be representing the people, not their parties," he said. "These are the general conditions that have to be taken into consideration by the prime minister and his government."
Al-Maliki has not held a formal role in the Iraqi government since the American invasion, but his lack of experience in the executive branch might be one of his biggest strengths, some colleagues said.
"He doesn't have a lot of baggage behind him," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national-security adviser and a friend of al-Maliki's. Al-Maliki comes from a middle class Shiite family in the south of Iraq.
But there's more to reporter Mary Katherine Ham's round-up on this story. If you've got the time and interest, don't neglect these of her further offerings:
Los Angeles Times
Rick Jervis in USAToday
Iraq the Model blog
Bill Putnam, An Independent Look at Iraq blog
Mark Kilmer, RedState
After leaning so much on Mary Katherine Ham for all the above sources, I tried to find additionally some Canadian news information or editorials on the gentleman in question. For possible stories on Jawad al-Maliki, I googled both Globe & Mail and Toronto Star, but got nothing. Then. I went to both newspapers' sites to use their internal search engines, and got nothing. I went back to Google and searched its general news section, with a few intersting results in Italian and Spanish (Latin American Press) - for refWrite's immediate purposes, that's next to nothing. I have also had a technical dickens of a time getting the Blog-entry properly posted over 3 days. - Politicarp
Update: Rumsfeld arrives in Baghdad to inquire about "extinguishing insurgency."
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 3:02 AM
The symbolic evidence that the new government regarded Canada as being de facto at war came soon not long after the new Prime Minister, Steven Harper, made a sudden secret trip to Canadian Forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 12-14, not long after he had taken office.
Then in another theatre, a more generalized pro-active attitude was confirmed. With hinds+t, we can now link Harper's visit to our troops in Afghanistan with his deployment just a week and two days later, on March 23, of a small contingtent of Royal Mounted Canadian Police and Canadian Forces (with Brits and Americans) in an event in Iraq that fits a perceived pattern now of involving Canadian military pro-actively in tandem with our military allies on similar ad hoc clandestine missions in whatever countries necessary. So we can add this moment of pro-activity by Canada in Iraq to the newly-emerging orientation of policy toward Canada's presence in Afghanistan. The military action in Iraq sent a team, including both Mounties and Canadian Forces, into enemy-held territory to liberate the pouting peaceniks who wanted to throw sand in the face of the sand of the Iraqi desert, calling themselves "Christian Peacemakers," but actually only succeeding in making rescue efforts by our military necessary on humanitarian grounds. The niks should spend the rest of their lives paying for the small fortune spent, and the risk to lives and limbs of the rescuers, in order to save their miserable selves from themselves and their esoteric doctrine. In any case, Harper proved himself to be qu+t t+t=lipped about all the details of the hows of the episdoe (he has a stronger sense of security than the Lib govts of the last three decades).
Now comes a third very significant Canada-at-war event the first week in April. After the governing Conservatives permitted a voteless debate in the House of Commons regarding Canada's military commitments to the budding democratic emergence of Afghanistan among the states of the world seeking to contribute to its good order, suddenly Canada has forcefully had the fact of its being at war in that distant country come home to roost.
Doug Struck, of Washington Post's Foreign Service reports from Toronto, "In Canada, A Cautious Debate on Afghan Role" (Apr11,2k6). Altho his article was buried on WaPo's page A16, it is of vital significance to the shift enabled by the recent Canadian Parliamentary elections, toward balancing-out the negative tilt of the previous Liberal government in regard to the current worldwide political reality and also the still-sad state of Canada's military to do anything major in a military way, albeit relative to the size of the country's population and other relevant factors.
Canadian lawmakers joined in a show of patriotic support for the nation's troops in Afghanistan, tiptoeing around public opinion polls that [contrastingly] show deep division over the increase in the force there and distrust of involvement with the US military operations.At the same time, the bias of the WaPo report is apparent, since a Canadian news source says more precisely, "Back in Canada, polls have shown a majority of Canadians support Canada's role in Afghanistan, but many respondents were also opposed to Canada's aggressive posture, preferring a peacekeeping approach" (see live link below to Jim Farrell, CanWest News Service via Canada.com).
Canada's first open parliamentary debate on Afghanistan, which the government had feared would undercut backing for the military's growing role, turned instead into a parade of support for Canada's efforts.
Pictured below (clockwise from top left): Lt. William Turner, of Toronto, but stationed in Edmonton; Cpl. Randy Payne, born in Lahr, Germany, but stationed at CFB Wainright, Alta.; Bombardier Myles Mansell, of Victoria, B.C.; Cpl. Matthew Dinning, of Richmond Hill, Ont., but stationed with the 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade in Petawawa, Ont. [Photograph by : Department of National Defence / File Photos]
Jim Farrell, "Canadian soldiers slain by Afghan bomb blast" (Apr23,2k6), CanWest News Service
Since Canada sent troops to Afghanistan in February 2002, 11 soldiers have died. But the danger of the mission has grown as troop levels have risen this year with Canada's planned assumption of command of the 6,000 NATO troops there, and with the move of Canadian troops to the volatile Kandahar region.It's not difficult to comprehend, when the old Lib regime was in power, how Canada's state media and its camp-followers on privately-owned networks like Global TV and CTV, as well as the overwhelming majority of daily printnews sources, that Canadian opinion as it exposes itself in public opinion polls, neglects its fundamental duty to world order, peace in the longer term, and decisive armed resistance to the War of the Terrorists against all nonIslamofascist governing. Canadians, both by the presuppositions of media poll-questions and by muddled moral-concept formation regarding the onslawt of Islamofascist terror, are not prepared to support clearly at this time the new direction which the government is pioneering after the collapse of Lib pseudo-Pearsonism in foreign policy. This is at least an interim problem of the present government.
On the other hand, the government did provide room for a real debate, never offered by a Liberal government, regarding Canadian involvement in defending the new developing-democracy in Afghanistan where many societal arrangments are still resisting, and will continue to resist, change. But on top of the government's fortitude in holding the debate, and its wisdom in not permitting a vote, the other parties (at least those of their members who spoke up) must also be given credit for discerning that the foreign-policy outlook of the Libs is dead. It simply is no longer viable. Rather, it had become downr+t dangerous for our troops, for the fledgling and imperfect democracies we support, and for our own society - which has also become obviously vulnerable to internal terrorist attack and espionage actively pursued by terrorist interests and their allies like Communist China.
So soon after this page-16 news development of such frontpage significance, Canada has once again lost lives among its soldiers f+ting in the thick of things in the trouble-zone of Kandhahar, former fortress / nest of the Taliban. Even this aching event is different, however.
Where previously, Canada had experienced death and wounding of our soldiers to friendly-fire from a US airplane flying amok, bombing a contingent engaged in n+time training, the result was a true tragedy indeed. This time around, the cause of death was not accident in any sense. The enemy in combat took out four young Canadians subjected to the terrorist warforce. The Canadian men were there to risk their blood for freedom, democracy, and world civic order. And in taking the risk against a proper enemy, they gave "their last full measure of devotion" - about which, according to the polls, too many Canadians seem blasé to a fawlt. Things, even attitudes, do not change overn+te. But perhaps public opinion will at some point catch up with the House of Commons, and more importantly with the women and men of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
The most recent concern emerging at issue in Canadian public opinion regarding Canada's warfare in Afghanistan (and wherever else it may occur under the new minority government), is the protocol of fly the flag at half-mast or not, when the body bags come flying home. Joel Kom reporting for CanWest News Serice and Ottawa Citizen, gives up the recent history:
An online government listing of every ceremonial flag-lowering for either the Peace Tower or all federal buildings shows those flags were not lowered to half-mast for Cpl. Paul Davis, Master-Cpl. Timothy Wilson or Pte. Robert Costall. All three soldiers died in Afghanistan in March.While the public may stew this way and that, apparently the War Minister Gordon O'Conner, has decisively settled the matter for the near future. according to Simon Tuck, "Minister backs stand on flag - Latest casualties may hurt public support for Afghan mission, opposition MPs say, G&M (Apr,24,2k6). If nothing else, the itchiness over these kinds of details demonstrates that symbols and symbolic actins are important, protocols can have a heavy weit, and the symbols of death-by-war - bodybags and flags at half-mast - are very much up for discussion, debate, and dissent now that Canada is most definitely at war. The pseudo-Perasonian mist has evaporated. - Politicarp
That's a change from what was done for Canadian Forces casualties in Afghanistan under the Liberal regimes of former prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. The same government listing shows that every soldier who died, except for one, had flags lowered to half-mast on either the Peace Tower or all government buildings -- or both -- in their memory.
The symbolic lowerings for Afghanistan casualties -- which was opposed by veterans groups, who said it was inconsistent with what was done in previous wars -- began with the deaths of the four Canadians who died after an American pilot mistakenly dropped a bomb on them in 2002.
It continued for three soldiers who died throughout the next two years, two of whom died when their vehicle struck a planted bomb and one of whom was killed in a suicide bombing.
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 10:32 PM
Gershom Gorenberg, "Olmert Pushes for Quick Pullout From Large Part of West Bank," Forward (Apr21,2k6) reports that "Ehud Olmert is in a hurry. Call it bicycle politics: If he goes too slow, he's likely to fall." He's got to fish up a working coalition of parties to govern Israel, at the same timed he does so he must make his vital strategic moves in regard to a Palestine ruled by Hamas, except for the Palestine Authority's president Abbas. He's also got some gerrymandering to do in regard to Israel's borders, so that as many Jewish settlements in West Bank territories are mapped into Israel proper (as thus gerrymandered) and apparently to re-map so that h+ Arab-population density-zones now in Israel but close to West Bank land are zoned out. This trade-off, Olmert must hope, will placate Hamas. In the Olmert Grand Plan about 63,000 Jews will have to be relocated from the West Bank to Israel (proper).
There are both reasons of US-relations for Olmert to make his move and to make it swiftly, and internal Israeli domestic reasons. Note the rhetorical inflation in which Gorenberg indulges, using the prefix "ultra-" to typify American evancelicals (of course, some of us are "ultra"hawkish, some of us are just hawkish, some of us are not hawkwish, and some of us are doves. Gorenberg is apparently so obsessed with Jewish Ultra-Orthodox that he thinks he can map their demographic profile of opinion onto American Evangelicals. This is extremely superficial; should I say ultra-superficial israelish reporting. Anyway he says:
Given the ultra-hawkish Middle East views of Bush's evangelical base, it is also easier to let Israel initiate any concessions than to make Washington seem responsible. Bush's approach is ideal for Olmert. Since Olmert's dramatic political conversion two-and-a-half years ago, when he declared that Israel needed to give up land to preserve its Jewish majority, he has favored unilateralism: Israel would draw its own borders, retain major settlements such as Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel, and count on America for international backing.The internal Israeli reasons seem even more compelling for Olmert:
As a referendum on giving up West Bank land, the March 28 election provided clear results. Parties from Kadima leftward got 70 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. ¶ Yet Kadima itself won only 29 seats, less than half of what is needed for a parliamentary majority. That will make Olmert's "ruling" party a weak base for a coalition that must include several parties and can easily come undone.Reporter Goderman has a detailed background-analysis of one of Olmert's potential coalition partners.
As a rightist party willing to cede land, [Avigdor] Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu has been treated by Kadima as a potential coalition partner. Early this week, though, Kadima was concentrating on first reaching agreement with Labor, whose 19 Knesset seats make it the second-largest party and a nearly essential piece of any ruling coalition. According to Labor leader Amir Peretz's spokesman, Tom Wegner, Labor would not blackball Lieberman, but would push for him to "renounce a program that includes elements of transfer." The objection, he said, was "not personal, but ideological." ¶ If Labor and Yisrael Beitenu do end up in the same coalition, the partnership is sure to be built on suspicion. Olmert does have other ways to build a majority — for instance, by including the two ultra-Orthodox parties. That, too, would be a fragile alliance. With a mandate for withdrawal but not for a stable coalition, Olmert apparently believes that his only choice is to try to carry out his program as fast as he can.-----------
To plumb the depths of the coalition-building problem, here's the standing of main parties in the new Israeli Knesset, the Knesset:
Main parties in the electoral race:---------------
* Alliance: One Israel (Labor, Gesher, Meimad)*
Leader: Ehud BARAK
Seats won in last election: 34
Seats won in this election: 26M
* Party: Likud**
Leader: Binyamin NETANYAHU
Seats won in last election: 32
Seats won in this election: 19
* Party: Shas
Leader: Arieh DERI
Seats won in last election: 10
Seats won in this election: 17
* Party: Meretz - Democratic Israel****
Leader: Yossi SARID
Seats won in last election: 9
Seats won in this election: 10
* Party: Yisrael Ba'aliya
Seats won in last election: N/A
Seats won in this election: 6
* Party: Shinui
Seats won in last election: N/A
Seats won in this election: 6
* Party: National Religious Party
Seats won in last election: N/A
Seats won in this election: 5
* Party: United Torah Judaism
Seats won in last election: N/A
Seats won in this election: 5
* Party: United Arab List
Seats won in last election: N/A
Seats won in this election: 5
* Party: Other parties receiving seats (5)
Seats won in last election: N/A
Seats won in this election: 15
* The party seats won in the last election represent those of the Labor party only.
** Seats won in last election include those won in the electoral alliance with the Gesher and Tsomet parties.
**** The party seats won in the last election represent those of the Meretz party only.
Another development is reported by Ori Nir," Israelis Mull Barghouti Release," Forward(Apr21,2k6) regarding their Palestinian prisoner Marwan Bourghouti, "Fatah strongman."
... Israeli officials are considering the possibility of releasing Barghouti under certain circumstances. Barghouti, considered the most popular and charismatic figure in the younger generation of Fatah leadership, was sentenced in 2004 to five consecutive life terms for leading the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and for ordering the murder of Israelis. While in prison, he led Fatah's parliamentary slate in the Palestinian legislative elections this past January. He is widely seen as the only figure that could regroup Fatah and provide legitimacy to future negotiations with Israel if and when the Hamas government falls.To my mind, releasing Barghouti, should he endorse Olmert's solution to the West Bank settlements issue (allowing two very large settlements to co-exist within the West Bank territories run by the Palestinian Authority with Abbas in the Presidency and Barghouti taking his acknowledged place as Fatah party leader, is a good idea. Hamas won't like it, one dang bit. - Politicarp
"Most senior officials in the political system and in the security apparatus realize that at some point, this man will have to be released because he's probably the only one with whom we could sign an agreement," said Shlomo Brom, a former top intelligence analyst now serving as a scholar at the congressionally funded United States Institute of Peace. "If the imperative is to bring about the collapse of the Hamas government as soon as possible, then it is also imperative to prepare for the day after."
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 7:57 PM
The prestigious Israeli daily newspaper, Ha'aretz has a vitally interesting article, "The Iranian clock" by Shmuel Rosner (live-linked in the Blog-entry title above).
"...James Fallows writes that 'realism about Iran starts with throwing out any plans to bomb'
The burning failure of the hostage rescue[s in Iran and Somalia], [as explained by a briefing session] on behalf of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), is what has led to a re-examination of the modus operandi of the elite US military units, their training and their command structure. SOCOM, which leads the small war against terror organizations, mans a number of buildings at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, entry to which is permitted only to those who have the appropriate security clearance. Also located at the base is the American Central Command, CENTCOM, which coordinates the military operations between Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, including the Arab expanse in the Middle East, and is overseeing two wars - in Iraq and in Afghanistan.Rosner has his own quesions:
Brigadier General Mark Kimmet, who has one star on his lapel and whose position is "deputy director of plans and policy" at the Central Command, is one of the busiest briefers, and also one of the most experienced, in the US army. He carefully weighs his answer to a question about a military option in Iran - especially at a time when the command is so busy with the ever-increasing problems in Iraq: We hope, he says, that a diplomatic process will solve the problem. This is the best, most desirable way to deal with it. However, he continues, if there is "any country" that believes that the problems in Iraq will prevent us from carrying out other missions that will be delegated to us, it is not calculating its steps correctly. ... There is a military option in Iran. The means exist, and so do plans. A possibility of failure also always exists. Hitting the nuclear installations is an option; and even if this does not destroy them, it will cause damage, which will delay Iran for many years.
How much damage can Iran cause in a response to an attack? And what is the price that the United States (and the other countries of the West, including Israel) will pay for this? What will happen to the oil market and its prices, and thus to the world economy? What will be the amplitude of the terror attacks that will be directed from Tehran? And to what extent will the ayotollahs be able to undermine the already undermined stability in the Middle East and Asia? If the United States decides not to attack Iran, it will not be the result of a lack of ability, but rather because of concern about the price. ... What will come more quickly - the nuclear capability or the democratic revolution? If the nuclear move is stopped by a military action, will this accelerate the process of democratization in the country or will it set it back by igniting a new explosion of deadly hostility?Another voice rises in the same key. In this round, it's Paul Rogers, "Iran: War by October?," OpenDemocracy (Apr20.2k6)
At a press conference on 18 April, President Bush – in repeating the formula "all options are on the table" in response to a reporter's prompt – gave renewed credence to the idea that nuclear weapons could be used against Iran. For his part, President Ahmadinejad – when reviewing a parade of troops on Iran's army day – pledged resolute action in response to any assault; this followed the extensive naval and Revolutionary Guard exercises in the Persian Gulf.Neither writer in these survey articles asks what the profliferation of nuclear weapons will mean for future states and terrorist movements in their aspirations to can power over the destinies of so many of the world's people and institutions? If the US doesn't stop them, who will? Who should? - Politicarp
If the net effect of these comments from both sides has been to increase the levels of tension, there have also been voices raised in both Washington and Tehran on the need for direct dialogue. Two former senior state department officials, Richard Haass and Richard Armitage, have taken this line; even more significant was the comment from Richard Lugar – the longstanding Republican senator who chairs the senate foreign-relations committee – that the two countries had interests in common, not least in relation to energy resources, and should engage in dialogue.
It is true that these comments emanate from people outside the key circles of political power, and that they contrast with other ... views [like Lt-Gen] Thomas McInerny [Retd], a former vice-chief of staff of the US Air force, arguing that the destruction of Iran's nuclear facilities is militarily feasible. ...
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 12:26 PM
Inflation is pressuring consumers - especially marginal ones like those of us on Disability, Old-Age Pensions, Welfare or other forms low fixed incomes. A government report laid out some specifics showing that consumer prices generally had risen beyond expectations. As a consequence, the value of Canadian government bonds dropped. Another domino is predicted to fall when the central Bank of Canada adds another two raises to its already 5 this year.Blomberg.com indicated today (Apr20,2k6):
The report spurred speculation Canada's central bank will raise borrowing costs twice more this year. The Bank of Canada has lifted its benchmark rate five times since September to 3.75 percent to stem inflation as surging prices in the nation's commodity exports fueled economic growth. Faster inflation erodes the values of bonds' fixed payments.Three days ago, Toronto's Globe & Mail had already signalled negative effects on the Canadian ecnomy resulting from the rise in the value of the looney (the one-dollar piece) which keeps rising in relation to the US dollar and other currencies. Neverthelss, this doesn't seem to be a disaster-trend, but a necessary structural readjustment "keeping supply and demand in balance."
``You have firm inflation,'' said Mark Chandler, senior economist at Scotia Capital Inc. in Toronto. ``The Bank of Canada has to continue tightening to keep it in check. Clearly it makes 4.25 percent more likely than 4 percent.''
According to G&M's economics reporter Heather Scofield, "Economy clipped by rising looney" (Apr20,2k6):
The strong loonie is taking some of the steam out of the hot Canadian economy, notably in the West, a key survey by the central bank shows.A range of other factors effect the trend and are in turn effected by it.
The survey, which plays an important role in the Bank of Canada's decisions on monetary policy, added some uncertainty to economists' predictions for future rate hikes. While most economists believe the central bank will raise rates for the sixth time in a row next week, they say further rate hikes beyond then are a tough call.
About 45 per cent of ... 100 firms ... survey[ed] said they would not be able to meet an unexpected rise in demand. That's high, and a sign that the economy is running close to full capacity, but it's still down from the 50 per cent recorded in the winter survey.A third important current report comes from David Berman, "GST or income tax cut would boost economy," National Post (Apr17,2k6):
Likewise, labour shortages are widespread, with 44 per cent saying they don't have enough workers to meet demand, but that's down from a peak of 51 per cent in the fall of 2005. Hiring intentions are robust, but they've fallen in the past two quarters, especially in the West.
Prospects for future sales, while still slightly positive, have slid steeply, especially in the West, the survey noted.
"Many firms, particularly in Western Canada, indicated that a further acceleration in sales growth is unlikely, given the strong pace of sales recently or because of capacity constraints," the central bank said.
Inflation expectations remain firmly grounded.
CEOs believe the best way to stimulate the Canadian economy through tax cuts is to reduce personal income taxes or the GST, according to a poll done for the Financial Post.Obviously, there's a difference between the financial interestes of the CEOs here, and the budgetary burdens of the poor and much of the middle class. I was happy last nite to hear Prime Minster Steven Harper declare that the government was going to supply tax relief to consumers by cutting a small percentage of General Sales Tax. This will help with groceries, so I'm grateful for this move. - Owlb
The poll, conducted by Compas and sponsored by BDO Dunwoody, surveyed a panel of chief executives and other business leaders.
It found that 37% of respondents thought a cut to income taxes would spur the most economic growth in Canada. Another 34% believed that a one-percentage point cut to the GST -- which is being proposed by the Harper government -- would work best.
"The tax rate on people in the up-to-$50,000 family income [bracket] is obscene," said one respondent. "I support the GST cut because it is real and it affects low-income Canadians."
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 10:59 AM
An Israeli news-source, YNet News reports the estimate by John Negroponte, US Director of National Defense and former US Ambassador to the United Nations and then to Iraq, of a 4-9 year horizon for mullocratic Iran to achieve ballistic missiles armed with nuclear bombs, for the extermination of Israel and the thwarting of America's power in the free world. But also, I would argue, to dominate the Gulf and thus to prevent any Gulf-states-based forces from crippling the shipping lanes being developed from Iran to China. China is currently setting up fortified ports along the route, in order to protect the shipment of vital oil and gas. The deal between Iran and China must contain, I would assume, a primissory provision by Iran for it to secure its end of the line of commerce between the two allied states.
YNet's Yitshak Behorin reports the US National Intelligence Director's claim regarding Iran's nuke development in Time magazine (Apri18,2k6). The interviewers, Michael Duffy and Timothy J. Burger, under the headline (labelled as an "exculsive") "Spy Chief: CIA Detainees Will Be Held Indefinitely," cover a range of topics based on researching the state of affairs in the USA inteligence community / bureaucracy in Washington.
To me the headline alerts us to good news, and informs of the intention to keep these terrorists under wraps until terrorist hostilities, by their comrades still at large, cease.
Rookmaker Club geostrategic analysis:
But, of course, one can understand the mainstream media (MSM) focusing its headline sensationalistically for its value in trumping other sources of info that can be spun collectively into a further mindless attack on Prez Bush (in the end, a gang-bang).
Yet the real news in the Time interview, selected out for emphasis by the wiser journalism of YNet - selected out from the interview's multitude of topics covering several important issues, some juicier than others, some more meaty for the defense of North America - is the nexus of the Iran-nuke timeline and the overall USA intelligence horizon as both relate to the organizational rebuiliding necessary to bring the CIA, the FBI, and the Pentagon's several intelligence departments into tandem with one another.
I should add that American intelligence is in a major process of rebuilding after the mess left behind by the Clinton Administration which filled the ranks with what one wag, Steven Meyer, labelled "moderate Republicans," while others insist that the swells have been leftwing softies, bureaux turf-protectors, and nested book authors hoping to write the most devestating tome on foreign polcy ever writ, and decidedly anti-military. I tend to believe the latter more skeptical view of what Bush inherited from the Clintclan, while acknowledging Prof Meyers' (political science, National Defense University) charm.
Only in tandem, with necessary internal debates that are focussed toward operational results, can a better overall overhauled intelligence resource be obtained as the USA and its friends face Iran, after the debacle of bad intelligence fed Bush by these Clinton-leftover agencers regarding Iraq. A situation which also produced the Plame-Wilson cell that produced partisan propaganda for the Kerryites, instead of reliable intelligence.
In a wider vein, it's valuable to take a few minutes to read and some more to ponder the important article by John Hughes in Christian Science Monitor, "Bush had good reason to believe there were WMD in Iraq - Bush may have been misled by the information he had, but he did not lie" (Apr12,2k6). By the way, CSM is arguably, and in my mind is, America's best daily newspaper and its online version, superb (Hughes, a former editor of CSM, is now editing Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, Utah.)
While Bush may have been badly misled by his own intelligence and other sources, he did not lie. He believed, and had good reason to believe, that the weapons existed.All these points speak to the issue of the crediblity of the President, his Director of National Intelligence, and the estimates coming forward now regarding Iran's military build-up and race to have full deployment of nuclear weapons as soon as possible. On the key issue at hand, upon which YNet dwells in its report, Negroponte is said not to exaggerate.
From thousands of official Iraqi documents captured by American forces, and dozens of interviews with captured senior military and political leaders, a picture is now emerging of the world of delusion in which Hussein lived when he was in power. It is being chronicled in magazines such as Weekly Standard and a forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs and books such as Cobra II. Written by New York Times reporter Michael Gordon and Gen. Bernard Trainor, the book is being hailed as one of the most comprehensive accounts of the war in Iraq.
In an exclusive interview, Negroponte, a career diplomat who has been a senior White House official and a UN ambassador, told Time that the intelligence is "improving and we intend to improve it some more. We're off to a good start. But I don't want to make exaggerated claims here because this is a job that's going to take some time."In the meantime, the case against passivity in the face of Iranian moblization of its conventional armed forces, its crowing about each advance in its military technological prowess (largely to fr+ten the Gulf States into Iran's orbit, or at least to neutralize them against further cooperation with the USA and the West generally), its massive infiltration of Iraq, and the more realistic appraisal of its nuke timeline by Negroponte; all these lines of evidence and reflection lead us to consider the analysis of the geostrategics of Iran's nuke project and its world-security implications, includingly most recently the analsysis in a National Review editorial. I recommend you read it. Its political, diplomatic, military and overall geostrategic dissection of the situation today is h+ly credible. - Politicarp
Nor did Negroponte exaggerate the claims about the quality of US intelligence on Iran, which this week announced that it is accelerating its production of enriched uranium, which Western countries fear is a step on the road to building nuclear weapons. Negroponte told Time the US had good but not perfect intelligence on the state of Iranian nuclear facilities. "Certainly, we know where the key installations are. Are there others that we're not aware of at all? You don't know what you don't know."
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 3:37 PM
You may want to read an exceptionally good blog-entry by Steve Bishop on An Accidental Blog regarding "Evidences for Jesus' resurrection" (posted in the UK earlier today). Just click the headline above to go to his page. He concerns himself with the historicity of the return of Jesus from death, as an event in the flow of human chronological experience, and makes a case for the testimony of the writers of three of the four Gospels to that effect. He also presents the sources that argue the contra side, should you want to go into greater detail regarding that mindset. No one can argue you into or out of faith in Jesus Christ, but thinking thru what is known in the way of a public record and what the quality of the information is, may indeed help you to make the ongoing commitment that all Christians call upon one another, and you, to make again today. Happy Easter to all readers of refWrite.
Tomorrow it's back to politics, economics, war, and the ever-resurfacing of the hope for peace - and back to all the news-focus mundanities of refWrite's frontpage concerns. - Owlb, editor, for reformational Christian journalism online.
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 11:25 AM
In an almost byzantine move, the three opposition parties in Canada's House of Commons have agreed not to cause a crisis around the reading of the Throne Speech which traditionally outlines the program for the coming session of Parliament, as determined by the governing party (or coalition). The Governor-General actually delivers the speech in one of the grand pretences of Canada's vestigial monarchism. But why not? There's lots worse things for this government to worry about.
In exchange for keeping mum, thereby waiving a confidence vote and otherwise entirely evading any offical record of an approval of the minority government's program, the 3 oppos worked out a deal with Stephen Harper, the new Conserv Prime Minister of Canada. Each of the oppos got to hack their way into the speech, with their own varying programs to some degree installed in the document. Harper is certainly proving himself adept at finessing an almost-impossible situation, forthr+tly negotiating his way thru the rapids.
Of course, the 3 oppos each have their own motives for playing into Harper's apparent cunning; displaying something of their own, but collectively the threesome are damned if they agree among themselves to fully thwart Harper, because none of them wants the government of their number-one political enemy to collapse (which would necessitate a new election).
To catch up on the oppo-installations in the over-orchestrated 4-party Throne Speech, click up Montreal's English-language Gazette to read Tim Naumetz (CanWest News Service) on "Backroom deal averts showdown and vote" (Apr14,2k6). The report lists all the items of all the parties which have found their way onto the Her Majesty's laundry list (politically speaking, of course), one of the most stunning and charming instances of political deceit made transparent and great fun.
What actually will get passed by this session of the Commons remains to be seen. But the present story leading up to the presumed adoption of the amalgamted Thronie on April 24, will be a cacophoney of episdoes worthy of TV's flagship of the soaps, The Young and the Restless. I suspect there will be some howlers along the way to the grand day. But we shall see. - Politicarp
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 8:27 AM
First, Stronach Jr is out of the race, her first smart move in electoral politics. Globe and Mail's reporter Campbell Clark (Apr7,2k6) gives us the scoop(Hat Tip to Norm Spector's inestimable website for the alert):
OTTAWA -- Former human resources minister Belinda Stronach dropped out of the Liberal leadership race yesterday, citing a desire for party reform rather than her declining hopes of winning as the reason.Smart move to back away from a battle that would show her up as both an intellectual and political l+twayt. (Forgive the NuSpell, dear traditionalists, but it's time to get rid of the excessive "gh"s of Old Spell - P).
The 39-year-old former Tory had quickly mounted a team to enter the race after the Liberals lost the Jan23,2k6 election, but she faced difficulty because of her weak French-language skills and her short time in the [Lib] party.
Yesterday, however, Ms. Stronach maintained she had a "decent chance" of winning but decided she could speak more freely about her belief in a new, one-member, one-vote system to elect a leader if she was not in the race.
"The Liberal Party really needs a much more profound overhaul. The leadership convention is still delegated in the old-fashioned way, so that it is about the politics of winning, not winning with ideas," she said. "I would rather see a Liberal Party with millions of members where each and every member has a direct vote. We have the technology.
"I would rather spend my energies working towards that goal than running in a system that still values political deals for delegates over the free market of ideas."
I submit that Belinda is actually in favour of a system where massive amounts of money (her greatest political strength is her personal and her father's fortunes) wins the day over face-to-face discussions and public debates where mind meets mind. She just doesn't have it. What she has is money, operational skills (which she can back up with experts at her fingertips due to her money), and technocratic values (that can only lead to handling people en masse thru advertizing on mass media like TV). That's what's behind her current 1person/1vote fetish, an obsessing that detracts from the nature of a political party thru its structured units beginning with the grassroots riding associations in each Parliamentary "voting district" (the US term), combining thru representatives into a regional grouping of riding associations gathered largely by province in the case of federal parties, and then the national party organization to which delegates from the local and regional party entities go for help, for gaining approval of individual candidacies, for conventions of delgates to select a coast-to-coast party leader, and then the representativeness of the riding-association-and-delegates system in supplying elgibles for the national governering council for that party.
Belinda's method, on the other hand, has been used by at least one of previous parties that since has been integrated into the new united federal Conservative Party of Canada; and perhaps Miss Jumper has simply forgotten just which party she is now in. The truth is that the Lib Party has special historical features which require conventions due to its traditional internal bargaining proces between Canada's "two solitudes," a permanent English-language majority of delegates but also of the national party membership, and the need recognized by the Liberals alone (from after Conserv PM Mulroney to arrival of Conserv PM Harper) to carry Quebec's French-speaking population, altho the Bloc Quebecois independentists contested well the basic Lib strategy which determined the bargaining process of the Lib conventions.
I do agree with Belinda's proposal only insofar as it could be used as a means to break the monopoly Quebec fed Libs have had in determining the party's candidates for Prime Minister; the customer alternation between English-speaking and francophone leaders having in recent times been scrapped by the Libs. That historical disparity needs to be addressed by Michael Ignatieff who parachuted in from his teaching post at Harvard to win in the January election (Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding, Ontario, English mothertongue, bilingual) and by Stéphane Dion the former Intergovernmental Affairs minister whose philosophy of federal/provincial relations is presently being displaced by the philosophy behind the detente between fed Conserv PM Steven Harper, and his provinical counterpart, Quebec Lib premier Jean Charest (Dion represents a fed Montreal riding, Quebec, French mothertongue, bilingual).
These two gentlemen emerged as official candidates the day after Belinda backed down. These are the leading brains among the fed Lib contenders, both with both political savvy and vision; however, there's also a host of lesser l+ts who want In on the battle for the Lib leadership. But Belinda has gone belly-up. So, in a future post we can turn our attention to the other dudes and dudices seeking Liberal party leadership and eventually the office of Prime Minister of Canada.
Norman the Sleuth slips in three tidbits in his own voice or quotes on the Belinda Fiasco (le fiasco belindais?):
1.) "Not since 1968 when Pierre Trudeau provoked a mania within the party and across the country has a Liberal leadership contest showcased so much cerebral cortex. With Michael Ignatieff and Stéphane Dion opting in yesterday and Belinda Stronach dropping out a day earlier, the collective leadership IQ is soaring.
2.) "'Le Devoir’s Hélène Buzzetti reports: "The word 'ideas' came up some dozens of times during Mme Stronach's half-hour press conference, but when questioned about these ideas she loves to convey, she was incapable of citing even one further example than the change of the rules for the election of the fed Lib leadership'" [My free tranlation - P]. "Le mot «idées» est revenu des dizaines de fois pendant la conférence de presse d'une demi-heure de Mme Stronach, mais lorsqu'on l'a interrogée sur ces idées qu'elle aimerait véhiculer, elle a été incapable de citer autre chose que ce changement aux règles d'élection du chef du PLC."
3.) "Steve MacKinnon, director of the Liberal party executive, said Ms. Stronach had never mentioned her zeal for a one-member/one-vote system to the executive, though Mr. McGuinty [Lib Premier of Ontario] had done so." - Politicarp
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Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 9:41 PM
An ultimatum has been presented to France's Chirac-Villepin government by "France's biggest labour unions" (which means not all the country's unions are backing the demands of the socialist and communist unions; there remains a Christian-democratic union in the country, and there are others; but make no mistake this struggle is, first and foremmost, an ideological war). Ireland On-Line reports that the Left unions have set "10-day deadline today for the government to revoke a divisive jobs law, threatening more protests and strikes that have spiralled into a national crisis" (Apr5,2k6).
The national crisis is not only industrial and political because the tidal wave of protest, rioting, and violence affects every sphere of existence, and les françaises who can avoid the events are rare and disciplined individuals and families, indeed. Or just out to lunch.
Massive marches yesterday drew more than 1 million protesters for the second time in a week, and brought renewed violence – putting unions in a position of strength as they headed into the discussions [that are scheduled with the government - P].IOL's reporter doesn't pause here to report how those affected negatively by the huge massification of extremism are being just as radically alienated by the impact on their lives, and thus French society proceeds to become quite polarized despite its wide diversity. Nor does IOL's report tell us just what unions have signed onto the "joint statement" threatening extremist measures "not ruling out any means of action...." Car burnings in enemy neighbourhoods, assassinations of Gaullist party leaders, fire-bombings, plastications, suicide bombings? These are all part of France's history in the Gaullist vs. Leftist period since the Colonial War in Algeria that spilled into the cafés of la France propre. There were few signs of compromise on Left labour's side, altho "Francois Chereque, head of the moderate CFDT union, emerged from meetings with parliamentary leaders praising them for 'listening' to his complaints."
Pockets of protest [these are the more radical elements, revolutionary left activists, or les militants du mouvement travailleur...those who Marx called the revolutionary proletariat, with the exception that many of these folk have never held a blue-collar job, and do drive Porsches and Citroëns - P] continued today as demonstrators blocked roads, rail lines and mail delivery trucks around the country. Dozens of universities have been closed by protesters and many high schools have had classes disrupted. ... Unless the conservative government revokes the law by April 15, unions [say they] will organise “a new, strong period of mobilisation, not ruling out any means of action...”
CFDT = Conféderation française démocratique du travail, in English the French Democratic Confederation of Labor. Neither socialist, nor communist; but neither is it CFTC - Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens which is affiliated to the World Confederation of Labor based in Geneva, Switzerland and which describes itself as the "International trade union confederation uniting autonomous and democratic trade unions with Christian leanings from 113 countries all over the world." It is to this body that CLAC [Christian Labour Association of Canada] is affiliated, and to which CLA-USA is also oriented. "CLAC is a multicraft, independent trade union that represents workers in Canada through collective bargaining and workplace representation on the basis of Christian social princpiles, and open to all." CLA-USA is the older of the two (1931), and while smaller than its Canadian counterpart, is steadily growing in the USA.
Meanwhile, in France, President Jacques Chirac’s ruling party is in hopes of ending a stand-off that has thrown the country into turmoil and damaged his prime minister and protégé, Dominique de Villepin."
At a Cabinet meeting, Chirac said he hoped the talks with unions would be constructive, according to a government spokesman. “Students must be able to prepare for exams, and high schoolers must go back to school,” he added.Not all the info in the IOL report conforms with the outline of the structure of the national umbrella of labour organizations in France. It may become important to understand this structure better in order to follow events in France's most important political crisis, at least since May 1968. But this round is different. EMIRE (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) presents this outline of the structure of France's umbrella and forum called Trade Union Confederation which encompasses the five ideologically-diverse France-wide labour central-organizations capable of representing workers on the national level:
The leader of the Communist-backed CGT union, Bernard Thibault, left his meeting [with Chirac's team] saying he was “more confident than ever about the exit to this battle,” adding: “It is very clear that nothing will be able to happen without a change in the government’s position.”
The law is designed to jolt France’s rigid labour market and reduce high youth unemployment by making it easier for companies to hire – and fire – young workers. Opponents fear it will damage job security. [The underlinings are refWrit's and represent our view about the core issue which is one of justice for increasing employment among excluded youth of immigrant-parentage and ethnic-minority stigma. The law intends to distribute jobs on a less ethnically-discriminatory basis, while allowing small business owners to fire easily those who don't work out - P.]
Unions decided to wait until Monday to set a date for another major, nationwide day of protests and urged demonstrations on the local level for Saturday.
The opposition Socialist Party submitted a bill to parliament today to repeal the law and urged that it be debated before politicians break for holidays on April 15.
“We want to offer the country a way out of the crisis,” Socialist leader Francois Hollande said.
Yesterday’s marches were mostly peaceful, although hooligan violence marred the end of the largest protest, in Paris. Several hundred youths ripped up street signs and park benches and hurled stones and chunks of paving at police.
The police responded with tear gas and rubber pellets and made repeated charges, carrying away those they arrested.
Police said 626 people were taken into custody nationwide, more than half in Paris. Thirty people and four police officers were also slightly injured. Officials said the unrest involved some youths from Paris’ tougher suburbs. [refWrite's underlining - note that some cross-overs from last year's Arab and African ethnic-minority youth riots did occur, but apprently they were marginal to the present crisis which involves old-stock French youth who want the job security to which they feel entitled, resisting both their ethnic/racial privilege and the impossible economics of France's over-socialized non-competitive business climate. That is headed toward a further crisis of which the present one is only a prelude. - P]
Villepin championed the law to stem youth unemployment rates of 22%, and as high as 50% in some depressed, heavily immigrant suburbs [underlinings - P] hit by weeks of riots last year.
National trade union body, in most cases multi-industry, serving as an umbrella organization for individual national trade unions, area unions at département and regional level, and occupational or industrial federations.In summary, dear readers, I'm keeping my eyes on the conflict between the Gaullists vs French unions, as well as the conflicts among the Gaullists (Prime Minister de Villepin vs. Interior Minister Sarkozy) and among the labour unions > Communist CGT vs independentist FO (AFL-style) vs ex-Christian Labor (CFDT) + Christian Labor (CFTC). - Politicarp
Five such confederations have been recognized as representative (see representativeness) at national level, and they have a major role to play. Not only do they ensure that labour interests are protected, but they also regulate the functioning of the confederated organizations attached to them. And they participate in the formulation of the rules of labour and social security law. In practice, a considerable amount of power is concentrated in their hands.
The five confederations possessing representative status are as follows:
CFDT: Confédération française démocratique du travail (French Democratic Confederation of Labour). This trade union confederation is a continuation of the French Christian Workers' Confederation, which changed its name in 1964 in order to mark the wish of the majority of its members to eliminate any religious connotation.
Purely in terms of the results of workplace-level elections , i.e. the votes won by the candidates standing in its name, it occupies second place among the confederations.
CFTC: Confédération française des travailleurs chrétiens (French Christian Workers' Confederation). Trade union confederation originally formed in 1919, whose name has been preserved by the minority of its members who were opposed to the elimination of the religious connotation which took place in 1964 (see CFDT , French Democratic Confederation of Labour, above) and broke away in order to maintain its traditional image.
CGC-CFE: Confédération générale des cadres-Confédération française de l'encadrement (General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff-French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff). Trade union confederation which was originally formed in 1946 and then known simply as the CGC. It is the only one of the five confederations possessing recognized representative status at national level which is intended for a single occupational category. The other four do, however, have professional and managerial employees among their members. Consequently, the CGC-CFE does not possess monopoly representation of this category, whose definition is in any case uncertain.
CGT: Confédération générale du travail (General Confederation of Labour). As the oldest of the five representative trade union confederations, this confederation was created in two stages, in 1895 and 1906. It has left its mark on the entire labour movement and still occupies first place among the confederations in terms of the number of votes won in workplace-level elections and, undoubtedly, the number of its members, although it has lost the pre-eminent position it occupied until as recently as 30 years ago. The links between some of its senior officials (and in particular its General Secretary) and the Communist Party have frequently been the subject of much emphasis and comment. But it has to be remembered that the transformation of society is one of the objectives of the French trade union movement as it exists today.
CGT-FO: Confédération générale du travail-Force ouvrière (General Confederation of Labour-"Force ouvrière"). This trade union confederation (also known simply as FO), was formed in 1947 in the climate of the start of the "cold war", by some of the CGT's officials and member unions. It was therefore born in the name of "trade union independence", which, in the early years, mainly signified hostility towards the CGT because of its links with the Communist Party, and nowadays embodies the total rejection of all ties with political parties, the active promotion of collective bargaining (particularly at multi-industry and industry level) and a certain reluctance towards any form of integration within the enterprise. The confederation, whose member unions embrace widely diverse ideological persuasions, claims to be the true heir of a trade unionism whose heritage is free and unfettered collective bargaining.
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 4:23 PM
Turkey is blowing the whistle on self-righteous Denmark, which has provided itself as a terrorist base for Roj TV which organized the recent PKK-riots among the large population of Tukey's Kurds in the South Anatolia region, according to Turkish Weekly's reporter, Melahat Tuzcu ("Denmark-based Roj TV organized the riots," Apr1,2k6).
ANKARA - Turkey argues that the PKK-backed Roj TV organised the violent riots in south-eastern Turkey. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namık Tan underlined last week that the Turkish government expected Danish authorities to finalize an ongoing legal process over Ankara's demand for the closure of Roj TV, which Ankara believes has links to the PKK. Some of the staff of the Roj TV are PKK members.Denmark's absolutization of the Enlightenment's limitless version of free speech, elevating it to the level of the prime absolute of "freedom" is full of glaring internal contradictions, and is unworthy of the support of all all those North American Christians who mindlessly supported the government, Prime Miminister and Free-Marketeer party of political secularism that is presently in power in Denmark's nominally Lutheran society.
“Evidence showing that Roj TV broadcasts have been motivating, encouraging and directing PKK terror activities have been conveyed to the appropriate offices of the relevant countries, primarily Denmark, all along,” Tan said at a weekly press conference when reminded of reports indicating that Roj TV had provoked recent demonstrations in predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolia.
The previous PKK-backed tv stations were closed by the UK and France. However Denmark has resisted to close the station, arguing that such a decision would be againts freedom of press. However Turkey accuses Denmark of supporting terrorism. The PKK is a terrorist organisation according to the UK, EU and US laws. Dr. Nilgun Gulcan is one of those who do not find Denmark sincere in combatting terrorism:
[Speaking ironically, Gulcan said,] "I think Turkey should allow Usama Bin Laden to establish a terrorist TV station in Ankara and the Al Qaeda militants should be allowed to make violance[-promoting] propaganda against Denmark. I can see no difference between the Roj TV case and [an] imaginary Bin Laden TV [station]. [The] Danish Government is not sincere in combatting terrorism [just] as they were not sincere in the cartoon crisis".
By and large, Danish Christians don't have the philosophical acumen to criticise the free-expression ideology that criminalizes anti-Jewish discourse but allows core values of Danish Muslims to be held in public contempt with utter impunity (some equality, where some are more equal than others), that allows a free flow of Denmark-made childporn and does not prosecute child-sex tourism by Danes abroad but needlessly stands-by when Muslims are purposefully provoked in regard to their religion, without public rebuke or proesecution by the authorities who have the legal means to do so. Now, we see the PKK terrorists given a free hand to broadcast, not Denmark's past specialties of child-porn and its world childsex tourism industry, but not permits violent instigation of riots and violence. Perhaps Denmark will find a way to make large profits on TV stations of all the world's terrorist groups. "Buy Danish" –you can't be serious?
And the so-called "Conservatives" (the Free-Market political atheists) of Anders Fogh Rasmussen's government do nothing to stop the travesty, not even merely to use their own free speech to say a word of rebuke to the violators, just as they did nothing to rebuke Jyllands-Posten for its spread of religious hatred against Muslims. In this day and age, it's important to stand against both Islamofascism and support our Muslim neighbours, to stand against PKK terrorism and support the Kurdish ethnic-minority in Turkey which needs Kurdish-language schools. We Christians must support a broad tolerance among religions – including Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Christians must stand up in the political arenas of Denmark, Turkey, Canada, USA, and UK to present a much-more-nuanced Christian political philosophy of free speech than what presently obtains in any of these societies. - Politicarp
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 2:37 AM
An annotated chronology of key events in the standoff over French law, AP with extensive intermeshed glosses by refWrite's Politicarp:
• May 31, 2005: French President Jacques Chirac appoints loyalist Dominique de Villepin as prime minister[, in a cabinet reshuffle replacing the previous Raffarin cabinet. De Villepin was previously foreign minister, also under Chirac, and was one of the intransigents to whom US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld made is famous "Old Europe" remark. Chirac and his protégé De Villepin are leaders are leaders in the neo-Gaullist party, UMP–l'Union pour la Majorité Presidentielle –which in 2002 first brawt together the Gaullists, most Christian Democrats, most Liberals, most Radicals, most Social Democrats, and many Independents. They were able to outrank the various leftist parties who were disunited and in disarray. But in a surprise, the second ranking party against UMP was the hard right anti-immigrant force of Jean-Marie LePen's Le Front National, the party of far-r+ght French nationalists, including a number of outr+t racists. So, in the runoff election, required because no party won a majority, most leftists swallowed hard and voted for the UMP. Joining the center-right plus reluctant left was the runoff was the rump formation of the unabsorbed Christian Democrats, re-assembled to continue as UDF–l'Union de la Démocratie Français led since 2005 by François Bayrou. "While a partner in the UMP Raffarin cabinet, the UDF sometimes criticized the policies of the French government, yet did not wish to quit the majority coalition and enter the opposition, which is mostly left-wing. As a result, UDF, save for Gilles de Robien, quit the cabinet in the March 31, 2004 cabinet reshuffling, while still remaining in the parliamentary majority. ¶ In 2004, the party, along with Italy's Margherita, was one of the founding members of the European Democratic Party." See also: Christian Democratic parties- P]
• Aug. 2, 2005: Villepin's conservative government approves a hotly contested measure aimed at boosting employment by allowing small firms to fire employees easily within the first two years on a job [bolds are mine - P].
• Oct. 27, 2005: Accidental electrocution deaths of two teens sparks riots in poor [Arab and African ethnic minoritis - P] Paris neighborhoods that spread to major cities. Youths torch thousands of cars and some public buildings. Riots last three weeks. [UMP Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy directs the riot police in containing the furious Arab and African ethnic youth, appearing more and more as the strongman of the UMP government. Sarkozy is a contender to replace Chirac who has given his support to De Villepin instead. Sarkozy has signalled his more open appreciation of the religious factor in French society, culture and daily life; he seems to be less a stickler for la laïcité - the notorious state doctrine of neutrality toward religions, especially in mainstream French schools, which feigned neutrality is itself a state-sponsored religion as well-articulated by the anti-clericalist movement of modern French history. It was in obsessive support of this French political tradition that Chirac banned Muslim girls from wearning headscarfs in these schools. At the same time, France also does support some Christian and Jewish schools (Sarkozy is of Christian and Jewish parentage), such schools are particularly numeorus in the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine where both the traditional Reformed and Lutheran communities have state-support for their school systems. Sarkozy has made gestures to these communities thruout France, as well as to the Muslims for an even more open approach; at the same time he ran the police in putting down the 2005 round of riots. - P]
• Jan. 16: Villepin announces a new job law that aims to reduce France's high youth unemployment rate — 23 percent nationwide and as much as twice that in the riot-wracked [Arab and African ethnic minorities - P] poor neighborhoods. It allows employers to fire 18- to 25-year-olds without reason for up to two years after hiring. [The idea is to allow small businesses to hire ethnic-minority youth without work experience, with unknown abilities of adaptation to good work habits, and to provide on the job-training as part of the process of assimilation, but with entry-level wages and a long probationary period with lots of discretionary power to the employers. - P]
• Jan. 31: Student groups and labor unions stage first demonstrations against the new law. Thousands march in Paris and other cities. [France is perhaps the most feather-bedded nation in the world; people look for "a job for life" and when they get it their productivity ebbs, but wages and state-supported benefits do not. Student groups and labour unions have vested interests in maintaining theis arrangementment, so they oppose laws that would allow young little-schooled Arab and African ethnics to enter the workforce and put competitive pressure from small businesses upon the the lower-end of the corporate economy. - P]
• Feb. 9: Villepin pushes the legislation through parliament's lower house by invoking a rarely used rule that allows the majority to bypass floor debate. [Suddenly, this renders the neo-Gaullist leadership of France's welfare state no longer centrist but "conservative," and the socialist sects in the lower-chamber hurl lfet abuse at the desperate government of neo-Gaullist Villepin and his strongman President Chirac. - P]
• March 9: Both houses of parliament give law final approval. [The new "conservatives" win the parliamentary battle. - P]
• March 11: Riot police raid the Sorbonne University, ousting some 200 student protesters. Students shower chairs and ladders onto police officers. [Allow me a bit of rewrite of the preceding AP chronicle item which is rather misleading: Student protestors take over key facilities of the Sorbonne and settle in for an occupation to cripple the university's functioning in order to prevent other students and their professors from normal pursuit of their studies and research. The protestors are part of the sectarian left who see their role as "student" as a segment of Marxism's idea of a wage-slavery proletariat, "workers" who now of have the dreamed-of "labour" issue they need to start the Revolution, according to the most orthodox Marxism still extant. Riot polic under the Interior Minister, Sarkosky, try to prevent the tiny minority of many thousands of Sorbonne students from bringing all study to a halt. - P]
• March 18: At least a half-million people [the nonstudent adult left swells the 200 number of student occupiers, because of the whip-up the French leftwing media unleash, by recruiting members of leftist political parties, radical labour leaders, and the revolution-thrill seekers to join in a - P] march in a nationwide demonstration against the job law. The Paris march ends in violence that leaves one demonstrator in a coma. [Without provoking the violence, a key segment of marxists and anarchists would have failed to produce the desired apocalyptic scenario that must at least hint of the blood that will flow freely in the Revolution. - P0
• March 23: Rioters mixed in with demonstrators turn a park in front of Napoleon's tomb into a battlefield in the most widespread violence linked to the protests. [Now the tension reaches its testosterone-driven climax, and the echoes of Frances's tradition of Revolution play out their chorus in full voice, thus reinvigorating the left in Parliament, the labour unions (there are several and they are not all communist, a few have some economic sense and sensitivity to the the joblessness of the Arab and African ethnic-minority youth who stand to benefit from the new law). The police under Interior Minister Sakrkozy pick up the slack produced by Villepin's new labour scheme. The two neo-Gaullists are the leading contenders to head the UMP party and take the place of Chirac in the next election. - P]
• March 24: Villepin and union leaders hold their first talks on the law. No breakthrough. [Intransigence on both sides, as the dandy Villepin realizes that there's little solution to the problem of the unassimilated ethinic youth without creating employment favbourable to small businesses willing to experiment with new faces, people willing to start for low wages, and prove themselves stable employees for the long term - rather, than disappear after the first few paychecks. The strategy has worked in other places. - P]
• March 28: More than 1 million demonstrators pour onto streets. Strikers shut down Eiffel Tower, disrupt train, plane, subway and bus services. [The fury of the featherbedding segment of French society is at its h+watermark. - P.]
• March 30: France's Constitutional Council rules that contract is constitutional. [The juridic tradition of the nation is consulted, and the jurisprudence of the courts confirmed in the direction of backing the new labour law wholeheartedly as court cases would arise following its enactment and enforcement. Since the ideologistis of the left apparently were contesting in their opinion pieces in Libération (NewLeft mass daily, print and online) and L'humanité (survivor of the Communist-renaming, a hardline newspaper) the very concept of contract and the variablity of terms of employment which a given employer mite insist upon; this inmportant re-affirmation by the Constitutional Council was one without which French business would falter and a thoro economic depression probably ensue, even tho the actual jurisprudential issues raised by the new law applied only to small businesses. - p].
• March 31: Chirac says he will enact the law but seek to modify it. [It therefore remains to be seen whether Chirac will back down while trying to save face from himself and his party, or whether instead he will improve some of the details of the legislation but hold the line. The latter is important, because at present it is the only tool at hand for the neo-Gaullists to preserve private eneterprise and solve the problem of the gross underployment of the jobless working-age youth of the Arab and African ethnic minorities. - P]
With thanks to the unsigned Associated Press complilers of the chrnology. - Politicarp
Don't forget to read refWrite...page 2.
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 3:12 PM
Yep, all the gang here at refWrite–Politicarp, Anaximaximum, Owlie Scowlie, and Semaphore, led by editor Owlb, with strings pulled by our publisher pixed toward the top of our sidebar–have now added a second page. It's still sparse of blog-entires, but these will grow along with the usual offerings of our frontpage.
Posted by Albert Gedraitis at 10:46 PM