Wednesday Night #1686

Written by  //  June 25, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Cleo Paskal introduced Professor Gary Hauck, Dean of Instruction and Faculty at Montcalm Community College, Sidney, Michigan.

P R E L U D E

Marc, Jean and our grandson Tebo are visiting from Singapore, but sadly are leaving on Wednesday night.
In order that you might catch a glimpse of them, we thought it would be fun to change the traditional hour of the WN gathering and thus, are planning for 6-8, with any who wish to stay on later, most welcome to do so.

Meanwhile – for your consideration, a few pertinent items.

ISIS-CaliphateAs the Middle East dominates our concerns and we learn to refer to ISIL (The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) rather than ISIS, unless of course we are referring to Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām , it is worth revisiting The Middle East’s Big Knot of Enemies and Alliesalthough the web is ever more complex – and the bedfellows ever stranger – today.  Adding to the vocabulary of all but the most assiduous followers of the geopolitics of the Middle East, there is now the ambitious drive to establish the caliphate – not a new idea, but coming to the forefront of coverage.
The news from Iraq grows worse every day, e.g. Iraq conflict: ISIS captures more crossings in seemingly unstoppable offensive — Sunni militants closer to dream of carving out an Islamic state straddling both Syria and Iraq
As chilling as their aspirations is the news of the Isis annual report that breaks down its bloody record, reaching out to its supporters with an annual report detailing executions and explosions funded by its donors.
At least, U.S. media appear to have turned on the neocon experts whose opinions were so eagerly sought a few days ago. We loved the Cheney confrontation with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, no less. Even the Republicans (at least Rand Paul) are backing away from Dick Cheney’s extremist views. All of which does not provide answers to the deteriorating – and frightening – situation.
Tony Blair has also lost his luster. Tony Blair should be sacked as Middle East envoy, say former ambassadors
Former UK prime minister is tainted by Iraq war and his achievements for quartet are negligible, signatories of letter say
We have gleaned some thoughtful and/or thought provoking observations including these:
Kimon has forwarded Mosul’s Christians Say GoodbyeThe jihadist takeover of northern Iraq is a disaster for Iraqis. But the destruction of an ancient Christian culture is a disaster for the world
with his comment THE PERILS OF MISGUIDED POLICIES.
“The US intervention in Iraq in 2003, promoted. by Christian fundamentalists, among others, has led to the present breaking up of Iraq. One result : the collapse of Christian Iraq. For the past 2,000 years, Iraq has been home to a distinct and vibrant culture of Eastern Christianity. Now that storied history appears to be coming to an end.”
Dr. Charles Cogan: Iraq: Be Careful How You Mess With the Sunni World
Christopher Hill: Iraq’s Sectarian Nightmare
What is happening today in Iraq is part of a broader pattern of sectarian violence across the region. Whether triggered by the US-led invasion of Iraq 11 years ago or by the often-misunderstood Arab Spring, sectarianism is alive and well, and, in the case of ISIS, it is accompanied by the kind of terrorism that the US has confronted so firmly since September 11, 2001. America and the West need a policy that addresses the sectarian struggle head-on – not just in Iraq but throughout the region
Cleo Paskal forwarded this assessment from the Pakistan Observer, predictably anti-US, but raising some good points:
ISIS bribed its way to victory
As in 1996, when the (Clinton-backed) Taliban militia took over Kabul by the simple expedient of bribing rival commanders, the ISIS victory on the battlefield has been caused by bribing senior Iraqi military commanders, who ordered the forces under them to desist from resisting the extremists. Several of them paid for this folly with their lives afterwards, being killed in the most brutal way by ISIS. It would not be difficult to identify the money trail linking donors in Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to the ISIS battalions in the field in Iraq, nor would it be difficult to establish the provenance of the weapons and other supplies being used by the extremist militia to gain control of territory in Iraq. Robert Fisk agrees that the Sunni caliphate has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, bastion of human rights, has again distinguished itself as it attempted to Stop Center for Inquiry From Delivering Statement at Human Rights Council, while an Egyptian court has demonstrated the wisdom of its justice system by convicting three Al-Jazeera journalists and sentencing them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges in a verdict Monday. Would it surprise you to learn that Amnesty International described the proceedings as a “sham”? Egypt court sentences Al Jazeera journalists — Network says jail terms for Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed defy “logic, sense, and semblance of justice”. The only good news we have found is that Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death last month for converting from Islam to Christianity, has been freed by the Sudanese court.

Events in Ukraine have moved to the figurative back pages, however on Monday there was somewhat encouraging news as the Pro-Russian separatists agree to honour Ukraine ceasefire and it is noted that Obama and Putin are still talking.

Meanwhile in Canada
It’s summer solstice and thus, relief from the antics of Parliament – but not from politicians. (House of Commons is out, but election campaigns are brewing — Strategizing and fundraising will mix with barbecue season)
Some may wish to avoid the barbecue events, unless they look forward to being slowly turned on the spit.
First among the avoiders should be Peter Mackay whose career as the Minister of Wrong (Again) was enhanced last week when he waded into the question of why there are not more federally appointed women judges and visible minorities. Chantal Hébert had fun with this too:
Peter MacKay — the kamikaze justice ministerIt takes an uncommon degree of societal tone-deafness to assert that women are too busy raising children to apply to be judges.. Her concluding sentence? The justice portfolio has, on two notable Canadian occasions, been a springboard to national leadership. In this instance history is not in the process of repeating itself. OUCH!
But Mackay’s missteps are almost laughable compared to the announcement that the Conservative government’s return to World War II-era ranks and insignia will require new dress uniforms for Canadian soldiers and naval officers at a cost of $4.5 million.Those costs are only necessary because of Conservative government changes to rank titles for the army and insignia for officers in the army and navy announced last year.
As a result, army officers will no longer wear gold-coloured bars sewn to their tunic sleeves or epaulettes. Instead, they will revert to the complicated system of pips and crowns worn during WW II.
(Canadian Forces’ return to old-style ranks, insignia costs millions — New dress uniforms needed as army and navy adopt WW II-era insignias and decorations)

Instead of the somewhat tepid announcement of (grudging?) approval for Northern Gateway (Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Conservative MPs offered a muted defence Wednesday [the 18th] of the government’s approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, often deflecting environmental questions to pipeline company Enbridge and the federal regulator) the Harper government should have issued the clarion call, “let the Games begin”, because they already have. One almost feels sorry for Enbridge president John Carruthers  left to assure everyone that there has been due process and the company will meet the 209 stipulations. After his love-in with the Australian PM, Stephen Harper may be mildly annoyed by the news that Tackling climate change would grow global economy, World Bank saysFindings put to rest claims that the world could not afford to act on climate change. The Guardian helpfully adds “The findings, made available in a report on Tuesday, offer a sharp contrast with claims by the Australian government that fighting climate change would “clobber” the economy.”

In Quebec, Chantal Hébert writes that the Fête Nationale not the celebration the Parti Québécois wanted
The sovereigntist movement is more unpopular than ever and the two parties with the most support are the NDP and Coalition Avenir Québec
Best line – among many:Earlier this month, the [BQ] picked Mario Beaulieu, an ultra-sovereigntist activist, to lead it in the next election. He is at least as likely to lead it to its final resting place”

One of the more prolific WN contributors, Brett House has just published A great new way for the IMF to help debt-laden countries without forcing them to default He concludes:“The beauty of an IMF-supported debt reprofiling is that it takes the final assessment of sustainability away from the IMF staff and hangs it on the ability of a country’s reformers to convince financial markets that their public finances are sound. That’s a change worth making.”

As it is a week of holidays (24 June and 1 July) we owe you something a bit more cheery than all of the above.
Why Can’t I Own a Canadian? – a wonderful send-up of strict interpretation of biblical strictures. Apparently it dates from 2002, but has recently been recirculated – how did we miss it the first time?
John Oliver (quickly becoming our favorite comedian) pulls the curtain back on Dr. Oz and his weight-loss ‘magic beans’ – memorable quote: “See! He never said there was a magic weight-loss pill — he said there was a magic bean. That’s clearly entirely different, because magic beans are a very real thing that you trade your cow for, so you can steal a golden harp from the Giants. That’s science.”
Jon Stewart (still our favorite comedian) Explains How to Make GOP Senators Care About Climate — “Barack Obama must become a global warming denier.” (watch the show in Canada – this segment starts at the 10-minute mark)

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