Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cutting to the Heart

The most popular news story today seems to be Canadian Governor General Michelle Jean. With her term as GG coming to an end next year she had decided to take a 5th and final visit up to the Arctic. Her daughter has even taken the week off of school to be on the trip.

The Inuit don't play a large role in federal politics. Between the 3 territories they have a total of 3 MPs. The population is sparse and the weather is less then ideal, even by Canadian standards. The Inuit are still Canadians and deserve attention for their local interests. Arctic soverignty is a major issue for all Canadians.

The current major issue for the Inuit is the European ban on seal products that is starting to go into effect. The seal hunt is a major source of income. The celeberaty campaign against the seal hunt has more to do with baby seals being cute than anything else. Whale hunting and other types of meat consumption don't come under the same attack. The Inuit have abandonded using clubs which was the most objectional method of hunting. The European decision is going to have a major impact on communities that have very few options for additional sources of income.

Michelle Jean decided to show her support to the Arctic community. At an assembly with seal carcasses from the hunt, she cut out a heart and ate it raw. Most people could not bring themselves to eat something worthy of an episode of fear factor. Not only did she do it but she liked it. She said it tasted like sushi and was high in protien.

In one simple act she showed that she cares for all Canadians. She demonstrated she cares for a group that can easily be forgotten. Hopefully the next Governor General will be just as compassionate for the people they represent.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Government to Offer Training Assitance for EI Recipients

The Federal Government announced changes to the EI plan to help unemployed workers retrained to reenter the work force. The benefactors of the $500 million that was allocated in the budget are those who have been on a career track for a significant period of time which is now a deadend. Extra benefits including, extended time frame will be granted to those who enter the training program.

The best way to get the economy moving again is to get people back to work. Any moves that help make it easier for people to find jobs is a step in the direction. Those who are willing to put the time and effort to help themselves deserve the extra little boost to help make their career jump a reality.

The Liberals and NDP have focussed in on the minimum qualifications to receive EI benefits. Currently, the number of hours works varries from 420 - 910 depending on unemployment rates and other factors. They would like to have the number reduced to 360 hours.

360 hours for most full time jobs is 9 to 10 weeks. A standard probabtion period for a new job is 3 months. The idea that someone can qualify for a full year of EI benefits without even complting the probation period. This creates an oppurtunity for someone to bounce from job to job and collecting full government benefits. This is not the type of employee the government should be focusing on to get the economy back on it's feet.

There are still problems with the current EI system. A universal system of qualification would stream line the system and allow workers facing unemployment to easily figure out what they are entitled to as they adjust for the job search.

The government is demonstrating an effort to help people find employment. The opposition parties are focusing on the wrong areas to criticize the government. The workers that have been employed for a longer period of time are in more need of assistance. The EI system could still use major improvements. Attacking this plan for additional support to the unemployed as a means to force an election would be a mistake by the opposition parties.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tamil Tigers (LTTE) Finally Defeated

For years the Tamil community around Toronto has tried unsuccessfully to get support for their civil war against the Sri Lanka Government. In recent months as they were showing signs of losing the war the protests got bigger. This past week they got even more attention as they blocked off roads and even the Gardiner Expressway. They took notice that the blocking traffic and inconveniencing others was getting them lots of attention. This fit in with their belief that all that was needed was for people to hear their story and they would have support.

Throughout the protests the flags of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) were waived proudly. These were the fighters in the struggle for independance and to the rest of the world simply a terrorist organization. They used powerful weapons such as suicide bombers and kidnapped children which were sent to the front lines. They ran exhtortion rackets to collect money for the war effort. Even their flag is a tiger surrounded by bullets and two rifles in the back ground. Hardly the symbol for a group that wants to live in peace.

The demonstrations over the past week showed that the Tamil community didn't care less how their actions effected others as long as they helped their own self interest. This is the same type of attitude that justifies the use of child soldiers and suicide bombers in order to bring about political objectives.

The Tamil Tigers have been defeated. Sri Lanka will now transfer into a rebuilding period of peace and hopefully prosperity. If the Tamil community accepts the new reality and would like help in supporting their former homeland, Canadians may be will to offer their sympathy and support. If they continue to blame Canadians and the world for not joining in their fight, they will remain outsiders of a political system that has the ability to help with the rebuilding and healing process.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Counting Armed Civilians

Israel is still taking a lot of criticism for Operation Cast Lead. People simply look at the number of dead and automatically conclude Israel is guilty of war crimes and mass genocide. Some will go as far as to look at the number of civilians killed. The IDF reported that they killed 709 fighters. PCHR reported the number of fighters killed as only 275.

The IDF report has two major flaws. The first is that it is the IDF, which for many people automatically marks it as biased and inaccurate. The report is classified and cannot be independantly verified. The most relied on source of information by the media is the PCHR (Palestinian Centre for Human Rights). As an NGO they automatically receive a certain degree of creability. They also publish lists of the victims name in status.

A small group of bloggers has decided to challenge PCHR conclusions. They have reviewed the names on the PCHR list have found absolute proof of militants being counted as civilians. To date their research has put the number of militans classified as civilians closing in on the numbers reported by the IDF. Here is the summary of what they have found to date.

There are two major points that deserve special attention. First is the record of the bombing of the UN School that has been mentioned here a number times. The initial report was that Israel bombed the school. It took over a month for the United Nations to admit that Israel had fired outside the school and nobody inside the school were hurt. The immediate reports were that 27 were killed in the attack. Eventually the number was reported as more than 40 killed. This number is still being reported in the mainstream media and on the CUPE Ontario website.

The IDF reported that only 12 people died in the attack and that 9 of them were militants. The examination of the PCHR list only has 12 people killed in that location. They have not taken any efforts to publicize the correct number or explain how the originally reported information was obtained.

The second interesting incident was on a monthly report on deaths by natural causes blamed on the occupation. With all of the complaints of the IDF preventing people from receiving medical attention, that number should have increased drastically. Instead there was a sharp decrease in the number of deaths during the month of January.

The truth is out there and shows that Israel took great care to minimize civilian deaths. Those who wish to bash Israel will continue to use the numbers that have been proven to be false. Knowing the truth changes the perspective on all of the other issues facing Isael in the Palestinian conflict.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Egypt Slaughter Pigs to Prevent Farmers from Slaughter

The Egyptian Government has taken advantage of the irrational fear of Swine flu to slaughter the countries entire pig population. The majority of the pigs are raised by the poorest of the poor Christians to feed their families. This move will destroy the livlihoods of thousands. It is not surprising that they are using everything they can to stop the government from destroying what little they have.

The optics of the situation look like the government is taking an opportunity to prosecute the minority Christian population. The fact there is no scientific support that slaughtering the animals will help prevent spread of the flu in Egypt lends credibility to this theory.

Egypt has had their own problems dealing with Islamic fanatics. They have had terrorist attacks. They have been trying to stop terrorist organizations like Muslim Brotherhood. They have closed their border to Gaza out of fear that Hamas will get a foothold in Egypt. They have not demonstrated a desire to supress Christians to cater to these terrorist groups.

Egypt is well aware of what would happen if they do get a case of the Swine Flu. It would not take long for riots aimed at the Christian farmers. By destroying the pigs now they are appeasing those who would be angry at caring more about Christians then pigs. In the eyes of the violent ignorent they have been proactive at helping the situation.

If they get no cases of Swine all they have done is take away the livlihood of a forgotten segment of society that nobody really cares about. If there is a case, there will be no pigs to blame on the spread of the disease. They may prevent attacks against the farmers and possibly the right to raise pigs altogether. They have absolved themselves of blame from the group of society most likly to take advanatage of the situation to destabalize the government.

There is no logical health reason to slaughter the pig population. The government should have acted according to logic and reason to take the proper course of action to take real steps to protect the health of their citizens. If they really are looking ahead to worst case scenarios, their course of action may be wrong but does not seem as far fetched.