"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Friday, March 31, 2017

Former Brazil House Speaker gets 15 Years in Prison for Corruption

Playing a key role into the investigation of corruption involving Oil giant Petrobas, Cunha was unable to steer the investigation away from himself.

By Eric DuVall

Former Brazilian House Speaker Eduardo Cunha arrives to court in Curitiba, Brazil. Cunha was sentenced
to 15 years in prison for corruption involving state-run oil company Petrobas. The former politician
led the impeachment proceeding against former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. File photo by EPA

What goes around, comes around

UPI -- Eduardo Cunha, the Brazilian lawmaker who spearheaded the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday after his own corruption scandal.

Cunha, 58, was found guilty of accepting the hiding more than $1.5 million in bribes from Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobas. As the speaker of Brazil's House, Cunha had a key role in the sprawling investigation into bribes and kickbacks paid out by Petrobas to lawmakers from private companies seeking government contracts. The investigation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, ensnared Rousseff and several other lawmakers -- and eventually Cunha himself.

A judge said he took the money and laundered it in a Swiss bank account where he kept it hidden until investigators tracked it down. He was removed from the Brazilian Congress by an overwhelming vote of lawmakers last year after the Supreme Court approved a request by the attorney general to open an investigation into Cunha relating to Petrobas.

Cudos to Operation Car Wash for a great job. Now, are there any clean politicians in Brazil, or any 3rd world country?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

China Bans ‘Abnormal’ Beards & Veils to Curb Extremism in Muslim Region

Uighur people are moderate Sunnis but are becoming more and more like Salafists

Allowed to run its course, it would most likely result, eventually, in Sharia

This is a natural progression in most Islamic states

Uighur women wearing face veils walk on a street in Urumqi © Stringer / Reuters

Chinese authorities have imposed a ban on “abnormal” facial hair and veils in public places in the country's predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province in an effort to curb extremism and radicalization in the volatile area bordering Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The initiative has been prompted in part by the deaths of hundreds of people over the past years in Xinjiang where government security forces regularly clashed with Islamist militants and faced unrest among the Muslim Uighur people driven by separatist sentiments.

Critics claim the armed clashes and terrorist attacks was a response to the crackdown on the Muslim population carried out by Beijing. Chinese authorities however reject accusations of oppression, emphasizing that Uighur people and their rights are under protection.

The new rules are to be enforced from Saturday, local authorities said on their website, and would ban spreading “extremist ideas,” marrying in accordance to religious rites and “using the name of Halal to meddle in the secular life of others.”

“Parents should use good moral conduct to influence their children, educate them to revere science, pursue culture, uphold ethnic unity and refuse and oppose extremism,” the statement says, according to DW.

Certain baby names have also fallen from grace, with authorities banning the “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervor.” Parents will also be prohibited to homeschool their children.

It will also be an offense to “refuse or reject” watching state television or radio, although it’s not clear how authorities are planning to enforce this regulation.

The Uighur people – the dominant Muslim minority in Xinjiang –mostly practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam. However, in recent years many have begun taking up practices more commonly followed in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, such as making women wear a full face veil, seen by some as a sign of opposition towards the central government.

Some of the separatist Uighur militant group who are striving for an independent East Turkestan in the northwestern China are considered terrorist not only by Beijing. The so-called East Turkestan Islamic Movement, now known as the Turkistan Islamic Party, has been listed as a terrorist group by the UN.

Earlier in March, at the annual meeting of China's parliament, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Xinjiang needs a “great wall of iron” that would protect the region.

‘Convert to Islam or Face Murder Conviction’ – Pakistani Prosecutor Tells Christians

Does this mean that murder is not a crime if you are Muslim in Pakistan?

Members of the Christian community take part in a protest following the 2015 bombings of the churches in Lahore.
© Khuram Parvez / Reuters

At least 42 Christians accused of murder in Pakistan were reportedly told they’d be acquitted if they embraced Islam. The accused face the charges after the lynching of two men following twin suicide blasts at churches during Sunday mass.

Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah initially denied telling the accused he could guarantee their acquittal if they converted. However, he later admitted he did, when told by Pakistan’s Express Tribune that the accused had a video recording of what he said.

“He asks them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case,” rights activist Jospeh Franci, who is involved in the legal proceedings, told the Tribune. Franci claims all of the accused remained silent following the offer, except one who appeared to say he would rather be hanged than embrace Islam.

The trial of the accused is taking place in an anti-terrorism court in Youhanabad, Lahore following the lynching of two men on March 15, 2015. The men were suspected of being involved in the planning of two suicide blasts at churches in Youhanabad on the same day, which left at least 14 people dead.

Counsel for the accused, Naseeb Anjum Advocate, told the Tribune that the prosecution’s offer was not new, saying it was offered around six months ago.

“The government should get rid of such elements that bring [a] bad name to the state by such acts,” he said, claiming the prosecution was “blackmailing” the accused.

As if the state doesn't already have a 'bad name'.

Islam is the state religion of Pakistan, with Christians the second largest minority, accounting for about 1.6 percent of the population.

Youhanabad, Pakistan

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Canada's MSM Not Reporting Radicalized Muslims Working in Airports

Apparently, this is a non-story in Canada's
main stream media
Canadian airport employees showed signs of radicalization, visited ISIS websites – report

© Joel Lemay / www.globallookpress.com

Several employees at Canada’s Montreal Trudeau airport have shown signs of being radicalized, a report has revealed, adding that one employee had talked of Paris-style attacks.

The investigative report was revealed on Wednesday on TVA network’s JE program by a team of journalists who say they had been working in coordination with Canadian police.

The center of the investigation was Montreal–Trudeau International airport, Canada’s third busiest, which sees some 16 million passengers annually.

The investigation concerned at least four people, including three airport employees with profiles the police found “worrisome,” the report said, while noting that two of the four still work at the airport, but have been reassigned.

© Olivier Jean / Reuters

The other two had their security cards revoked due to concerns about their mental health.

One employee, who reportedly had access to runways and planes, regularly visited pro- Islamic State websites, police said, as cited by TVA. He had also acquired “an impressive amount of books and documentation” on assault weapons.

Though airport authorities neither denied nor confirmed the information in the TVA report, that employee was subsequently transferred to another position unconnected with runways and planes.

One airport employee with access to secure areas even reportedly suggested carrying out an attack similar to the Paris massacre of November 2015, but it is not yet clear where exactly he suggested them.

Another employee, a native Algerian, once posted an IS propaganda video on his Facebook page that shows Islamic state militants killing people in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

He also seems to support the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood and apparently sympathized with the regime of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the report said. He appears to have left Canada a few months ago, but is reportedly still in contact with airport employees with access to secure areas.

Patrick Lalonde, the assistant director of the Montreal Police Service (SPVM), admitted to TVA that the information is “worrying.”

“SPVM and its partners work every day to evaluate the threat and to counter it,” he said.

“We have a concern for all types of threats; radicalization is one of them,” said Pierre-Paul Pharand, vice-president of Aeroports de Montreal (ADM), the main airport authority responsible for Montreal’s two airports.

Well, I'm glad somebody does; it's clear that the MSM does not!

Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), found the prospect of some airport employees being radicalized “extremely serious.”

“It’s complicated for me to say if this should be the case [here]. In any case, people about whom the authorities have doubts should not have access to planes.”

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus wrote on Facebook that the authorities should “re-investigate each employee” in light of the incidents reported. 

Marcel Savard, former head of counter-terrorism at Surete du Quebec, Quebec’s provincial police force, said he is concerned.

“What worries me is the strategic position that these people occupy,” he said.

In April of 2016, Belgian media revealed that Najim Laachraoui, one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at the Brussels airport in Zaventem on March 22, had worked at the site for as many as five years.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Norfolk Doctor Found a Treatment for Sepsis. Now He's Trying to Get the ICU World to Listen.

Dr. Paul Marik is using a new combination of drugs to treat sepsis
By Elizabeth Simpson 
The Virginian-Pilot

Dr. Paul Marik, center, makes rounds at an intensive care unit at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with, 
among others, a group of Eastern Virginia Medical School students and residents in mid August. 
He and other critical care doctors have started using a combination of Vitamin C, hydrocortisone 
and thiamine to treat sepsis. Stephen M. Katz | The Virginian-Pilot

The patient was dying

Valerie Hobbs, 53, was in the throes of sepsis – an infection coursing through her veins that was causing her blood pressure to tank, her organs to fail and her breathing to flag.

“When you have a person that young who’s going to die, you start thinking, ‘What else can we pull out of the bag?’ ” said Dr. Paul Marik, who was on duty that day in the intensive care unit of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

In this case, he reached for Vitamin C.

Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care at Eastern Virginia Medical School, had recently read medical journal articles involving the vitamin, and decided to order IV infusions of it, along with hydrocortisone, a steroid, to reduce inflammation.

Then, he went home.

The next morning, Hobbs had improved so much she was removed from four different medications used to boost her blood pressure. Her kidney function was better. Her breathing eased.

Three days later, she left the ICU.

That was in January 2016. Today, Hobbs is back at her home in Norfolk.

“At first we thought it was a coincidence, that maybe the stars aligned just right and she got lucky,” Marik said.

Ten days later, another patient, a paraplegic, arrived in the ICU with sepsis, and Marik prescribed the same thing. That patient improved as well.

A third patient, a man so sick with pneumonia he was on a ventilator, also received the treatment. The results were the same.

Marik’s response: “What just happened?”

He suggested changing the protocol for patients who arrived with sepsis. He also added another ingredient to the concoction: thiamine, which is Vitamin B.

At first, doctors and nurses were skeptical

Kathi Hudgins, a critical care nurse for 23 years, confesses she doubted Marik’s idea: “I thought it was too simplistic.”

Soon, she was sold.

“We started having patient after patient have these remarkable results,” she said. “They’d be at death’s door and 24 to 48 hours later, they had turned around. We have seen patients walk out of here we didn’t think would leave. To see them turn around so quickly was nothing short of amazing.”

They started tracking the numbers, comparing them with patients who came through the ICU with sepsis the previous year.

A study published online in December by CHEST, an American College of Chest Physicians medical journal, revealed the results:

In 47 patients with sepsis treated in Norfolk General’s ICU, four died in 2016, an 8 percent mortality rate. Of those four, none died of sepsis but rather the conditions that led to sepsis in the first place. The previous year, 19 of 47 septic patients died, a 40 percent mortality rate.

Medical residents started calling the concoction “miracle juice.” Marik dubbed it “the cure for sepsis.”

Kurt Hofelich, Norfolk General’s president, said the protocol is being rolled out to other ICUs in the health system to validate the findings.

“We hypothesize that this new treatment will evolve into a national best practice and a new standard of care for patients with sepsis in an ICU level of care environment,” Hofelich said in a prepared statement released today.

Sounds like a game-changer – but hold on

Dr. David Carlbom, an associate professor of pulmonary critical care at the University of Washington, advises caution.

First, it’s what is called a retrospective study, which means it compares something at one point in time to a control group further back in time.

Second, the numbers are small.

Third, the cases were all at one hospital.

Those are called study limitations. The gold standard study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which patients with the same condition are observed in the same period, and health care providers don’t know who is receiving the treatment or a placebo.

Carlbom said multiple sites would ensure there was nothing particular to Norfolk that was making a difference.

Marik agrees

He wants there to be a comprehensive study, and he said that Stanford University has expressed some interest. But he said it will be difficult to fund because it uses drugs that have been on the market for decades: “We are curing it for $60. No one will make any money off it.”

Studies take money, and that money often comes from pharmaceutical companies.

“By the time it’s done, it could be three years and the number of people who will die of sepsis by that time will be ginormous,” Marik said.

It's reasonable for pharmaceutical companies to not be interested in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a full-blown study when it is clear they will never make that money back. Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money, not making sick people well.

The money should come from the government and insurance companies both of which will save billions of dollars in very short order. Insurance companies will save enormous amounts of money by reducing treatment costs, hospital stays, and deaths.

Hobbs, who didn’t realize at the time what was going on to treat her ruptured bile duct, now feels fortunate that Marik tried something out of the usual box: “It was good because it saved my life.”

A million people a year

Sepsis occurs in more than 1 million people a year in this country, with 28 to 50 percent dying, according to the National Institutes of Health.

So that's 280,000 to 500,000 people dying every year. If Marik's cure is genuine and drops the death rate to 8%, that will save between 200,000 and 420,000 lives per year.

The condition can stem from a variety of different ailments and has an overwhelming immune response to infection. Natural chemicals released in the body trigger widespread inflammation, which leads to blood clots and leaky vessels. That slows blood flow, damaging the organs by depriving them of nutrients and oxygen.

In the worst cases, blood pressure drops, the heart weakens and the patient goes into septic shock.

Sepsis treatment costs the US $20bn per year

The cost to treat sepsis in the United States has been estimated at $20 billion a year in 2011.

Just as Marik pulled Vitamin C out of his bag to save the woman in January 2016, he pulls out these facts to sell his sepsis treatment to others.

He believes lives could be saved before a larger study is complete. He’s been traveling the country trying to find audiences of critical-care doctors to peddle the idea – Philadelphia, Charlottesville, Long Island, New York and, earlier this week, Seattle.

He’s gotten significant pushback from doctors who say it’s unethical to try before larger studies are done. But he responds that the use is within the limits of what the Vitamin C pharmaceutical label recommends.

“Half think it’s cool and half think this is hooey nonsense. When something is too good to be true, people don’t want to believe it.”

How can it be unethical to try something that has few if any harmful effects while normal treatment is little more than 50% effective. It's not like it's a new drug with unknown side-effects. If it's possible to save hundreds of thousands of lives, it cannot possibly be ethical to ignore the treatment. In fact, it is downright cruel.

Carlbom said since sepsis results from a lot of different conditions, it could be that the combo could help some more than others, and might even be detrimental to particular ailments.

So he understands why doctors will wait for more study. But Carlbom, who describes himself as an early adopter, says he’s started to try it on his own patients.

Lab results

Marik also took the step of having a researcher examine the idea in the lab. He reached out to John Catravas, who studies and teaches on the subject of bioelectrics at Old Dominion University.

Catravas has spent years researching lung function. Of special interest are the lung’s endothelial cells, which form the linings of the blood vessels: “When you have sepsis, the endothelial cells pull away from each other and allow fluid in the lungs.”

He looked at the effect of the Vitamin C, then the steroid, then the two in combination.

It wasn’t one or the other that was doing the trick, but both, almost as though one was holding the door open for the other to do its work in reducing inflammation.

It was a laboratory finding that supported what was happening in the clinical setting, which Marik included in the CHEST publication.

“We can’t both be completely insane,” Marik said.

It's like washing your hands

Marik, who was born and educated in South Africa, is hardly a lightweight in the field. He has more than two decades of critical-care experience and has authored 400 medical journal articles and four books on critical care.

Still, the prospect of the lives this could save excites him at age 58.

Always one to use humor in the practice of medicine and life, Marik takes delight in the story of Ignaz Semmelweis. The Hungarian doctor in the 1840s figured out that doctors doing autopsies were also delivering babies, and unintentionally infecting patients, leading to high mortality rates. Midwives who weren’t doing autopsies had much lower rates.

He advised hand washing with a chlorine solution that acted as a disinfectant. When interns under his direction did that, their maternal mortality rates plunged.

But doctors were furious at Semmelweis, who ended up losing his job. The chlorine hand wash was abandoned.

Semmelweis ended up in a mental institution at age 47, and died there from, by some accounts, sepsis, which he’d worked so hard to try to prevent in women giving birth. His simple advice was picked up again when Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease.

The irony is not lost on Marik:

“People who have studied sepsis a long time don’t want to believe a simple solution can work. Hopefully before I die it will be shown to be true.”

Hopefully, long before that!

Police Vans Torched in German City of Hamburg, Second Incident in 10 Days

As if German police didn't have enough trouble on their hands with absurdly
excessive numbers of undocumented migrants, and right wing reactionaries
to that immigration issue, now German lefties are acting up and
making police work that much more difficult and expensive.

© Polizei Hamburg / Facebook

Several vans have been set on fire outside a police station in Hamburg, Germany, just 10 days after unknown assailants carried out an arson attack on a car belonging to the city mayor’s security detail.

In the early hours of Monday, eight cars were torched outside a local police station in the Eimsbuettel neighborhood of Hamburg.

Police later confirmed that four patrol vehicles had been destroyed beyond repair, while four others were damaged. No one was injured in the incident.

Germany’s Bild newspaper reported that two of the damaged vehicles were civilian.

What appears to be a well-planned arson attack was praised on a local left-wing website, according to broadcaster NDR. The message, titled ‘The whole of Hamburg hates the police, the whole world hates the police’, claims that the target for the assault had been chosen carefully.

The police are acting as protectors of the ruling class and must be “attacked with full severity,” it added. 

An investigation will specifically look at a possible link between the incident and the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, NDR reported. Gerhard Kirsch, head of the regional police union, said the arson attack signals the preparation of violent protests during the event, but cautioned against spreading panic. 

Hamburg police released an angry statement on their Facebook page, saying: “The right to protest is enshrined in our basic law, but it has to stay within legal limits. Anyone who expresses their views through violence, either against property or people, is acting as a criminal.

“Setting vehicles on fire always endangers people – residents, fire brigades and policemen!” they wrote.

Hamburg, which is preparing to host the G20 summit in July, has already seen similar acts of destruction in recent days.

In mid-March, radical left activists claimed responsibility for an arson attack on two police vehicles in the city. One of the cars, a police Mercedes Sprinter, was assigned to a security detail protecting the residence of Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz.

Shortly after, a Mercedes Viano belonging to the local police union was torched within sight of a police station.

Police said they suspected the attack could be related to the July G20 summit.

"We cannot rule out that this act was politically motivated," said police spokesman Oliver Malchow on Friday, according to Deutsche Welle.

'Untouchable' Duterte Tops Time Poll as EU Critics Told ‘Stick to Child Porn’

Time's Person of the Year?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte © Pyay Kyaw / Reuters

The Filipino people’s “love affair” with their leader “is like a jet plane that's just taken off” and EU critics of President Rodrigo Duterte should ‘stick to child porn’.

That’s according to Philippines Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Lorraine Badoy who defended Duterte’s standing in Time magazine’s Top 100 Men and Women for 2017 survey, where he leads Vladimir Putin, Mark Zuckerberg, Justin Trudeau and Bill Gates. The final 'Time 100' list will be published on April 20.

“Plus 9 out of 10 Filipinos right now approve of him.” She added “Wrap your dim minds around that, you clowns. Nine out of ten.”

Anyone with a “teaspoon of IQ on them” would wait for Duterte to make a “huge error” before trying to topple him, she claimed.

“Then and only then would it be the time to let your cash flow to pay the EU idiots with galls as huge as Goodyear blimps to call for the president's resignation,” she said, adding in Filipino that “those in the EU, just engage in online child pornography. Since that's what you are good at.”

The warning comes as the EU condemns Duterte's plan to revive the death penalty for drug convictions. The European Parliament has called for an international investigation into "unlawful killings and other violations" in the Philippines linked to Duterte's war on drugs, while Duterte has told the EU MPs to mind their own business.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that the assistant secretary’s comment was "obviously sarcastic" and she was not advocating child pornography, reported Rappler.

"Asec Badoy loves children and cares about their welfare, so to even imply that she trivializes the issue is unfair and misleading. She is an outspoken critique of social injustice, and we have no doubt as to her stand against child pornography,” Taguiwalo said in a statement, according to InterAksyon.

Badoy, a former human rights advocate and NGO worker, was appointed to implement medical assistance to drug addicts in rehab after her online activism caught the president’s eye.

The Philippines banned a number of x-rated websites at the beginning of 2017 as part of a wider child-porn crackdown.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Five Guilty of Sheffield Child Sex Abuse Offences

(Clockwise from top left) Christopher, Shane and Matthew Whiteley, Taleb Bapir and 
Amanda Spencer were convicted at Sheffield Crown Court

Five people have been found guilty in relation to the rape and prostitution of five young girls.

Amanda Spencer, Taleb Bapir and brothers Christopher, Shane and Matthew Whiteley were convicted after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

Spencer plied one girl with alcohol and threatened violence in order to force her to have sex, while the Whiteley brothers prostituted a 15-year-old girl on the streets of Sheffield.

They will be sentenced on 28 April.

Castle Market, SheffieldImage copyright PA
A number of the offences took place at Castle Market in Sheffield - the market was closed in 2013

The offences took place between 2006 and 2012.

During a trial, lasting more than six weeks, jurors heard the girls were raped, abused and prostituted after meeting the Whiteley brothers and Spencer at Sheffield's former Castle Market.

Prosecutor Peter Hampton, said Christopher Whitely, 23, who was convicted of eight offences, would appear "charming" at first.

In relation to one victim, he said: "She believed that he was her friend, but over the weeks his attitude to her changed. He became aggressive and forceful. She was frightened of him."

Amanda Spencer outside Sheffield Crown Court
Amanda Spencer was jailed in 2014 after being found guilty of 16 charges relating to child prostitution

He said a second girl, who was taken to up to 50 properties and forced to have sex with men for money, painted a similar picture of Spencer.

"She was friendly at first but that soon changed. She plied [the girl] with alcohol and began to prostitute her," he said.

"On each occasion she was fearful that Amanda Spencer would be violent towards her."

Bapir, who was convicted of rape, was among the men Spencer forced the girl to have sex with.

Spencer was previously convicted of 16 charges relating to child prostitution and jailed for 12 years.

After the trial Jayne Ludlam, from Sheffield City Council, praised the "bravery" of the victims.

She said: "It sends a clear message to anyone involved in the sexual exploitation of vulnerable young people - you will be identified, pursued and prosecuted."

The convictions:

Christopher Whiteley, 23, of Weakland Crescent in Hackenthorpe, Sheffield: Found guilty of four counts of rape, one child prostitution offence, two counts of sexual assault on a child under 13 and one count of theft. Acquitted of seven counts of rape, one count of conspiracy to rape, one child prostitution offence. The jury were unable to reach verdicts on two counts of rape, one count of conspiracy to rape. He will face a retrial on one charge of rape.

Shane Whiteley, 30, also of Weakland Crescent: Found guilty of one child prostitution offence. 

Cleared of one child prostitution offence and one count of conspiracy to rape. The jury were unable to reach verdicts on one child prostitution offence and one count of conspiracy to rape. He will face a retrial on one child prostitution offence.

Matthew Whiteley, 25, also of Weakland Crescent: Convicted of one child prostitution offence. Acquitted of one child prostitution offence, one count of conspiracy to rape and one count of sexual activity with a child. The jury were unable on one count of conspiracy to rape and one count of sexual activity with a child. He will face a retrial on one count of sexual activity with a child.

Amanda Spencer, 26, of Canklow Road, Rotherham: Guilty of four child prostitution offences. Cleared of seven counts of aiding and abetting rape and eight child prostitution offences. The jury were unable to reach a verdict on one count of aiding and abetting rape.

Taleb Bapir, 39, of Verdon Street, Sheffield: Found guilty of one count of rape.

Venezuela Government 'Terrified' of Calling Election - Heading to Dictatorship

Venezuela is in a desperate with double digit inflation, food and
medicine shortages. The ruling party is so terrified of losing
power because of pervasive corruption and the fear of prosecution

Votes for governors, councils, other public offices on hold
as support for ruling party collapses
By John Otis, CBC News

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, seen here sitting in front of an image of late president Hugo Chavez, contends that elections are not a priority amid more pressing matters, such as food shortages and triple-digit inflation. (Miraflores Palace/Reuters)

The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and his allies triumphed nearly every time voters went to the ballot box. But Chavez's successor, President Nicolas Maduro, appears to have lost interest in testing the will of the people. 

Amid a severe economic crisis, opinion polls show that support for Maduro and for ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) politicians is collapsing. In response, electoral authorities — whom analysts claim take orders from the executive branch — have over the past year shelved or delayed elections large and small. 

'We are not going to have elections....
What we are going to have here is revolution,
and more revolution.'
- Diosdado Cabello

In October, the Maduro government abruptly cancelled a recall referendum that could have removed the president from office. Gubernatorial elections scheduled for December have been postponed. Even voting for the leadership of many labour unions, professional organizations, public university governments and neighbourhood councils has been suspended. 

For Chavismo, the leftist political movement founded by Chavez and which has ruled Venezuela for the past 18 years, "elections used to be sacred when they knew they could easily win them," said Eugenio Martínez, a Caracas journalist who specializes in electoral issues. "But as soon as elections became uncomfortable, they have tried to avoid them or to change the rules." 

Venezuelan officials contend that elections are simply not a priority right now because they are dealing with more pressing matters, such as food shortages and triple-digit inflation they describe as part of an "economic war" being waged against them by the opposition.  

In a January speech, Diosdado Cabello, a congressman and a key power broker within the ruling PSUV, bluntly stated: "We are not going to have elections.... What we are going to have here is revolution, and more revolution." 

Opposition supporters hold placards that read 'Elections now' during a rally against Maduro's government, in Caracas, on January 23, 2017. (Christian Veron/Reuters)

'There is a dictatorship'

Critics call these moves troubling signs for democracy in Venezuela and wonder whether the 2018 presidential election will be free and fair — or whether it will be held at all. 

Last week, Luis Almagro, who heads the Organization of American States, said that Venezuela must hold general elections immediately, and if it doesn't, member states — including Canada — should suspend Venezuela from the Washington-based regional body.

According to Almagro, phobia of elections is just the latest sign of Maduro's turn toward authoritarianism. His government holds more than 100 political prisoners and has cracked down on the media. It controls nearly all branches of power. Although the opposition holds a majority of seats in congress, the executive branch has neutered that body by using the judicial system to nullify new legislation.   

In a column published Tuesday in the Bogota, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, Almagro declared: "Today… there is a dictatorship" in Venezuela. 

The electoral impasse has left opposition leaders in limbo.

'The government is terrified of measuring its popularity
through a popular vote.'
- Jose Graterol

Jose Graterol, a lawyer who is trying to run for governor of western Falcon state, has spent the past year visiting towns and villages, shaking hands and giving speeches about his vision of the future. But now, he says, it's unclear whether there will even be a vote. Sitting governors have so far ruled an three extra months beyond their normal four-year terms, and electoral authorities have yet to set a date for new elections. 

"This shows that the government is terrified of measuring its popularity through a popular vote," Graterol said. 

The PSUV currently controls 20 of 23 state houses. But polls indicate that if elections were held now, the opposition could win about 16 governorships, marking a huge shift in power. In the last nationwide elections, held in December 2015, the government suffered a humiliating defeat, with opposition candidates winning 112 of 167 congressional seats. And since then, both the economy and support for the government have eroded further. 

"The government controls nearly all levers of power while the opposition has the support of the voters," said Phil Gunson, a Caracas analyst for the International Crisis Group. "That's why the opposition needs to have elections and why the government doesn't." 

December 2018 election uncertain

Besides delays, the Maduro government is trying to weed out the competition in case of future elections, said Martínez, the journalist. For example, the National Electoral Council declared that all political parties must gather thousands of member signatures in order to maintain their legal status, but each party gets just two days to carry out this process. 

When a centrist party called Avanzada Progresista recently tried to sign up members in Caracas, the electoral council changed the location of the registration sites at the last minute, creating chaos, said party activist Maribel Castillo. Avanzada Progresista maintained its legal status but several small opposition parties have already lost theirs. 

An opposition supporter holds a placard that reads 'Wanted for destroying a country. Reward: A free Venezuela,' with images depicting Maduro, left, and Diosdado Cabello, of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV), during a rally in Caracas, September 1, 2016. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

In recent elections, opposition parties fielded candidates through a coalition known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable. But now the Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit brought by a ruling party politician alleging that the coalition committed fraud. A guilty verdict would effectively outlaw the opposition coalition.  

All of this manoeuvring has many Venezuelans wondering whether the government intends to comply with the constitution by holding presidential elections by December 2018. Gunson said that cancelling the vote would be a major step toward pariah status, as the Maduro government would be widely be considered a de facto regime propped up only by the military. 

However, Martínez said many high-ranking government officials have been accused of drug trafficking, human rights abuses and corruption, and they fear prison or extradition to the United States should the opposition win the presidency. 

He predicted: "If Chavismo doesn't think it has a way to win the elections, it will not hold elections." 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ontario Premier Wynne's Approval Rating an Astonishing 12%

Hydro rates shock Ontario Premier
Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has seen a historic slump in her job-approval ratings as Ontarians continue to fret over increased hydro bills and the sale of the Hydro One utility, says new polling by the Angus Reid Institute released Friday.

With a 2018 election looming, the provincial Liberal Premier has the endorsement of only 12 per cent of voters, down from a 41-per-cent approval rating just 18 months ago, the Angus Reid Institute survey revealed.

It was 18 months ago that Wynne brought her far-left ideology into schools in Ontario. Her sex education program, probably written in part by her then Deputy Education Minister who is now in prison for child pornography. The program focused on LGBTQ2S rights and projecting homosexuality and transgenderism as normal and healthy, and ignored the real problem of child sex abuse.

That her slide in popularity began then was not reported by MSM outlets, nor was there any mention of the school sex education program. It is not an issue for MSM as they all agree with the far-left agenda. 

The institute’s executive director, Shachi Kurl, said Ms. Wynne has sunk to depths almost never seen among provincial premiers in recent history, with only former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell dropping below 10 per cent before he resigned in November, 2010.

“There is no way to sugar-coat this, it’s not a good situation for the Premier,” Ms. Kurl said. “But clearly, based on what we’re seeing and hearing, there may be some continuing belief that the Premier herself, or the party can turn things around” before an election that is scheduled for June, 2018.

In surveying premiers’ approval ratings, the Angus Reid Institute polled 5,404 Canadians, including 804 Ontario residents. The survey was conducted between March 6 and March 13, just after Ms. Wynne’s government announced it would reduce hydro rates by an average of 25 per cent for households, and more for people in rural areas and small towns that were hardest hit by rate hikes over the past decade.

“I would suggest people really hadn’t had the opportunity to absorb whether or not they feel this is something that will credibly give them some relief, and whether or not it is enough at this stage,” Ms. Kurl said.

“You can reach a point with the electorate where a level of cynicism or a level of hardening sets in and no matter what is done, there’s no turning things around.”

Most premiers saw a decline in their approval ratings this month compared with last December.

Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall – who continues to rank as the country’s most popular premier – saw his support drop to 52 per cent from a recent high of 66 per cent last May. British Columbia’s Christy Clark – who faces an election in May – had an approval rating of just 31 per cent, down 4 percentage points from December amid revelations of her Liberal Party’s controversial fundraising tactics.

But none are even approaching Ms. Wynne’s 12 per cent. And Ms. Kurl suggests voters’ anger over soaring hydro rates is a big factor. Average residential rates have doubled in the past decade, and risen ever further in less-densely-populated and remote regions.

Three-quarters of Ontario respondents (74 per cent) describe their household energy bills as “unreasonable” and a similar number expect the Hydro One sale to increase their rates even further. (Hydro One is the province’s main transmission utility that also directly serves households in rural Ontario.)

Indeed, 27 per cent of respondents identified “energy/electricity” as the largest problem facing the province, with “the economy” a distant second at 16 per cent. And more than three-quarters of respondents said their household electricity bills and the sale of Hydro One would be important or somewhat important issues for them when they vote in the 2018 provincial election.

However, 62 per cent said they would factor in the Wynne government’s plan to reduce hydro bills when they go to the polls in the general election.

Lawyer in Russian Whistleblowing Case Badly Injured in 4-Story Fall

Oligarchs still in control in Russia
By Ed Adamczyk  

The lawyer for the family of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky was seriously injured in a four-story fall, officials said. Magnitsky died in police custody in 2009. Photo by Voice of America

(UPI) -- The lawyer for the family of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky was seriously injured in a four-story fall, officials said.

Russia media reported that Nikolai Gorokhov fell when a rope broke as he and several others were attempting to lift a bathtub into his home near Moscow on Tuesday, the BBC reported.

Amazing coincidence

The incident occurred a day before Gorokhov as scheduled to appear in a Moscow appeals court in connection with the Magnitsky case. Magnitsky died in prison in 2009; his family said he was jailed, tortured and denied medical treatment as retribution for accusing law enforcement and tax officials of stealing $230 million in state funds. His death prompted a 2012 law in the United States, allowing sanctions against abusers of human rights in Russia.

Bill Browder, a British businessman and co-founder of investment firm Hermitage Capital Management, who has worked with Gorokhov, said in a statement Tuesday that Gorokhov was "thrown from the fourth floor of his apartment building," without identifying a source for his allegation.

A medical source said Gorokhov sustained serious injuries and was flown by helicopter to a hospital, the BBC added.

It's a wonder he wasn't thrown out of the helicopter.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Far-Left Liberals End Freedom of Speech - Make Criticism of Islam Hate Speech

Canada's far-left Liberal government has rammed through a bill declaring 'Islamophobia' to be hate-speech, but not defining the word. Some believe that this is the beginning of creeping Sharia.

House of Commons passes anti-Islamophobia motion M-103
By Staff The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The House of Commons has passed a Liberal back-bencher’s motion calling on federal politicians to condemn Islamophobia.

The motion, known as M-103, became a matter of acrimonious debate, with opponents painting it as a slippery slope towards limiting freedom of speech and even bringing in Sharia law.

Liberals and Conservatives accused one another of playing politics with the rising tide of prejudice and hate crimes facing Canadian Muslims.

MPs adopted the motion by a margin of 201-91.

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who sponsored the motion, was applauded loudly by her Liberal fellows as she stood to vote.

The issue even became a bone of contention among Conservative leadership hopefuls.

Canada’s parliament has approved M-103, a non-biding motion that calls on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” by a margin of 201-91.

The contentious motion, which sparked nationwide demonstrations and protests by both supporters and opponents in early March, also calls on the government to take steps to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.”

Mainstream media (MSM) thinks this is good thing. Like the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau, they lean further to the left than they realize. This passionate ex-Muslim tried to warn Canadians that they were on the road to Sharia. I'm not aware of any MSM outlets playing any part of this video.

Warning: Language becomes quite vulgar after about 3:30

Video 6:39 

UN Human Rights Council's Antisemitic Abuse Silenced

Hillel Neuer just silenced the room with this booming speech

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch just destroyed all those Muslim countries who claim Israel is an apartheid state. Bringing the facts, he silences the entire room.

How can Syria, Saudi Arabia, and other human rights abusing countries say Israel is an apartheid state? How does the UN allow this? Countries which kill their own people are speaking out against the ONE DEMOCRACY in the Middle East. Doesn’t that sound twisted?

Israel has 1.5 million Arabs living a life with full rights, being doctors and lawyers, being part of the knesset, and yet the countries speaking out against Israel have persecuted and expelled whatever Jews used to be living there. As Neuer calls them out, he says “Where are your Jews?” He asks where the REAL apartheid is.

Surely it is time for the UNHRC to stop the hate-speech. It makes absurd the name of 'Human Rights'. 

Yemenis ‘Pay the Price’ for UK and America’s ‘Brazenly Hypocritical’ Arms Deals – Amnesty

I've been saying this for awhile. It is just disgraceful! Arms sales are easy and cheap but the USA and the UK need to find a way to keep their economies moving other than selling death and destruction. 

© Naif Rahma / Reuters

Amnesty International has condemned the US and Britain for supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, arms which have then been used to kill hundreds of civilians in Yemen.

Figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute show that the two countries have sent weaponry worth more than $5 billion to Saudi Arabia since Riyadh’s intervention began in March 2015. This is over 10 times the approximately $450 million that the US State Department and the UK’s Department for International Development have sent (or planned to send) in humanitarian aid to Yemen over the same period, which Amnesty has described as a “shameful contradiction.”

“Two years of conflict have forced 3 million people to flee their homes, shattered the lives of thousands of civilians and left Yemen facing a humanitarian disaster with more than 18 million in desperate need of assistance. Yet despite the millions of dollars’ worth of international assistance allocated to the country, many states have contributed to the suffering of the Yemeni people by continuing to supply billions of dollars’ worth of arms,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's deputy director of research for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Weapons supplied in the past by states such as the UK and US have been used to commit gross violations and helped to precipitate a humanitarian catastrophe. These governments have continued to authorize such arms transfers at the same time as providing aid to alleviate the very crisis they have helped to create. Yemeni civilians continue to pay the price of these brazenly hypocritical arms supplies.”

Amnesty accuses the UK and US, both of whom are party to the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty, of “undermining the spirit” of the treaty, and has called on the international community to “immediately to impose an arms embargo” on all parties involved in the Yemeni conflict.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf State allies, including Qatar and Bahrain, launched an aerial campaign to help prop up the ousted government of Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against Shiite Houthi rebels. According to UN estimates, up to 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting so far, including 4,000 civilians. The majority of civilian deaths, according to the UN, have come from Saudi-led airstrikes.

In its investigation of the Yemeni conflict, Amnesty International has documented at least 34 coalition airstrikes that may have violated international law resulting in at least 494 civilian deaths, 148 of which were children. Amnesty also accused Saudi Arabia of using cluster bombs, which are banned under international law.

In November, the British government refused to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, rejecting calls from two parliamentary committees and human rights groups. According to Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), Britain licensed £3.3 billion (US$4.1 billion) of arms sales to Riyadh during the first 12 months of the Yemen war.

During Barack Obama’s two terms as president, the US offered Saudi Arabia $115 billion worth of arms in 42 separate deals, the Center for International Policy, a US-based anti-war think tank, reported in September. It estimated that US arms offers to Saudi Arabia were more than any US administration in the history of the US-Saudi relationship. But in December, the White House blocked the transfer of some weaponry to Saudi Arabia over concerns about the civilian death toll from the bombing campaign in Yemen. Arms exports to Saudi Arabia have resumed under Donald Trump’s administration.

‘Impossible Not to Connect’: London Attack Linked to Europe’s Migrant Policy, Polish PM Says

© Eddie Keogh / Reuters

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has linked Wednesday’s London attack to Europe’s migrant policy, saying it is “impossible” not to connect them. She went on to suggest the deadly assault justifies Warsaw's refusal to take in refugees.

"I hear in Europe very often: do not connect the migration policy with terrorism, but it is impossible not to connect them," Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told private broadcaster TVN24, as quoted by Reuters.

Szydlo went on to criticize the European Union's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who visited Poland earlier this week, threatening consequences for member states choosing not to host refugees.

"The commissioner should concentrate on what to do to avoid such acts as yesterday in London... Poland will not succumb to blackmail such as that expressed by the commissioner," Szydlo said.

"The commissioner is coming to Warsaw and trying to tell us: you have to do what the EU decided, you have to take these migrants...two days later another terrorist attack in London occurs," she continued.

On Wednesday four people, including the assailant, were killed in the attack in central London, after a car plowed into pedestrians near the British Parliament. Police believe the incident was “Islamist related,” but have given no details about the attacker, who they believe was acting alone.

In May 2016, Poland's right-wing government refused to accept any of the 6,200 refugees allocated to it under the EU's quota scheme. Although the country's previous center-right government voted in favor of quotas, the current Euroskeptic Law and Justice (PiS) administration does not want to honor the commitment. Former Polish prime minister and PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski defended the party's decision.

“After recent events connected with acts of terror [Poland] will not accept refugees because there is no mechanism that would ensure security,” he said at the time.

Kaczynski also spoke out against accepting refugees in 2015, saying they could bring diseases and parasites to Poland.

Some 1.6 million refugees and migrants arrived to the European Union between 2014 and 2016, creating a major strain on countries which are struggling to host them. The issue has been a major point of contention between the EU and Eastern European member states, with Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia denouncing an EU plan to fine countries which don't host refugees as “blackmail” last year. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

CIA: UK Armed, Encouraged Arabs Against Israel in 1948

Declassified CIA documents provide evidence UK encouraged Arabs to oppose foundation of Israel, helped them acquire weapons
Editor David Rosenberg,

Israeli troops fight off Arab forces in Galilee 1948  REUTERS

New evidence has emerged to corroborate claims that Great Britain encouraged Arab resistance to the establishment of a Jewish state in 1948, and even helped arm Arab forces for what became the Israeli War of Independence.

A recently declassified CIA document dated January 27th, 1947 summarizes an interview agents held with a Lebanese newspaper publisher following a meeting with Grand Mufti Haj Ami El-Husseini, a Nazi sympathizer during World War II and one of the leading voices against the formation of a Jewish state in 1948.

According to the report, Afif Tibi, who is described as a former Nazi collaborator and owner of a Beirut newspaper, met with the Mufti in late 1946 to discuss the possible partition of the British Mandate for Palestine, established by the League of Nations as the future “national home” of the Jewish people.

During Tibi’s talk with the Mufti, the Mufti claimed that British authorities in the Mandate were “in continuous touch with” him, “and are actually encouraging him to denounce partition”.

“The Jews should not under any circumstances be allowed to assume real power in any section of the country, for the simple reason that they would immediately launch themselves on a program of armament, would attack neighboring land, and would face the Big Four Powers [US, UK, USSR, China] with the accomplished fact of a very much larger Palestine.”

According to the Mufti, the UK was enabling Arab forces to arm themselves against the possible establishment of a Jewish state.

“The British are making it easy for the Arabs to arm.”

In November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding motion supporting the partition of the Mandate into Jewish and Arab states.

The recommendation was rejected, however by the Arab League and local Arab leaders, setting off a wave of terrorism against the Jewish community in the Mandate. In May, 1948 the British army withdrew from the Mandate, and the state of Israel declared its independence.

The next day they were attacked by 5 Arab states with volunteers from several other Arab states. Somehow, by the grace of God, they are still here.

If the Elites are Wrong about Global Warming, the Damage will be Enormous

John Robson, National Post

If it turns out the science isn't settled, and global warming is a bust, how much less will people trust 'the experts' and 'the authorities' on the next issue, and the one after that? Jim Cole / Associated Press

It’s impossible to ignore Donald Trump for any length of time. Even if he didn’t have his “finger on the button”, and whether you blame a “basket of deplorables” or “the elites” for his success, the obvious breakdown of trust between the public and those in authority is ominous. So we shouldn’t go about making it worse, right?

Clearly I am one of those who often uses “elites” in a pejorative sense, along with synonyms like “the chattering classes.” I have nothing against people earning respect through intelligence, wisdom, energy and above all character. But I resent those in authority treating leadership as a privilege rather than a responsibility. And I think we have been badly served, indeed badly let down, by those who should know better, in areas from fiscal policy to social policy to, yes, environmental policy.

Because I fear the ongoing dissolution of social cohesion I do not welcome rudeness in public discussion. But I do make a living trying to direct pointed remarks at the right people for the right reasons, including university administrators unwilling or afraid to uphold free speech and free inquiry.

Then there’s this huge ruckus over “man-made climate change.” It has become orthodoxy in the smelliest sense, with dissent treated as heresy to be stamped out frantically, not coolly refuted or invited to dinner and reasoned with.

Protesters chant during a rally against climate change in San Diego, California on February 21, 2017. SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images

It is of course possible that the dissenters are wrong about the science. But it is not possible that they are wrong to express their doubts. Remember Galileo? When those in authority shout them down, hound them from their posts, and shame them, they don’t just betray science. They betray social trust.

Now some people may say debate is all fine and good. But these “deniers” are kooks, tin-foil-hatters, UFO enthusiasts, flat-earthers. Don’t you know, to quote Barack Obama’s May 16, 2013 tweet, “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous”.

In fact this 97 per cent claim is part of the problem. In addition to the multitude of scientists who work in fields so remote from climate as to have no professional opinion, there are countless geologists, physicists, chemists and others who dissent over how much (a) climate is changing (b) man is responsible and (c) it is dangerous. I’m about to hear a lot of their voices at a Heartland Institute Conference in Washington. To say they do not exist is to be, how shall I put it, a “denier.”

Mario Hoppmann/AFP/Getty Images

If you want to see the studies advancing this claim of overwhelming scientific consensus refuted, visit the Friends of Science website and search “97 per cent.” But this number is used to intimidate, not illuminate. And science does not work that way.

It is far from harmless, especially when reputable opinion swings intolerantly behind bad science in service of bad policy. Governments in B.C., Ontario and elsewhere aim to reduce CO2 and equivalent emissions by nearly 80 per cent by 2050, with disastrous impact on Canada’s conventional energy industry and all of us who like to warm our homes, cook our food and get around. And to conceal the worldwide disaster in alternative energy programs merely compounds the offence.

Now consider this scenario. Within a decade the hair-raising theories advanced by the likes of Al Gore and shouted at us by too many politicians and journalists are exposed as not just wrong, but bunk. Suppose their predictions fizzle and it becomes clear that we have long known a great deal about the history of the Earth that is plainly incompatible with the alarmist thesis (as I will show in my new documentary “The Environment: A True Story” so please visit Johnrobson.ca and support it).

How much less will people trust “the experts” and “the authorities” on the next issue, and the one after that? How much more willing will they be to back the next Donald Trump precisely because reputable opinion fears and loathes him?

There are aspects of populism I find distasteful or alarming. But to me the worst thing is the extent to which it is a reaction to the failures of people meant to be upholding sound economic ideas, free inquiry, and elementary decency in public debate.

I shudder to think of the reaction if there’s a “hard landing” on global warming. So stop the name-calling and take a sober look at the evidence. Otherwise enjoy Donald Trump, because he’s just the beginning.

Robson gives us a glimpse at where the documentary is going in the brief video at his site: 

He then states that every one of these statements is wrong and he will attempt to prove them so in his forthcoming documentary. He will also reveal just how incredibly damaging climate change fanaticism will be to societies. 

I would hope, but don't expect, that he would recognize that child sex abuse is a million times more of an atrocity in the world today than climate change and yet we focus on making a difference in the global temperature that will be too small to measure while ignoring tens of millions of children whose lives are being destroyed every single year. Our priorities are sure screwed up.

Please consider supporting him.