Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – December 11, 2012

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s Foreign Minister’s statement on a couple of assassinations there:  Canada condemns two high-level assassinations witnessed (yesterday) in Afghanistan. These are attacks on the basic rights of women and on law and order generally.  The attack on Najia Siddiqi, acting head of women’s affairs in Laghman province, comes just four months after her predecessor was killed for also trying to better the lives of Afghan women. Those responsible for such killings are reprehensible, and their actions are an affront to all freedom-loving people everywhere. It is our hope that the perpetrators of these cowardly acts are brought to justice.  The promotion and protection of the human rights of all Afghans, including Afghan women, are central to Afghanistan’s security and future prosperity. The commitment and sacrifice of courageous Afghans such as Ms. Siddiqi are driving progress in Afghanistan. The promotion and protection of women’s rights has been, and continues to be, a key pillar of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan.  We also grieve for the loss of Gen. Mohammad Musa Rasoli, Chief of Police of Nimroz province. Regional peace and freedom can only be arrived at when those who would harm individuals such as Ms. Siddiqi and General Rasoli are brought to justice ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Canada’s War Poet Suzanne Steele interviewed on the BBC
  • Syria  “With the violence in Syria getting worse, Foreign Affairs officials have renewed their call for Canadian citizens there to leave the country as soon as possible.  “Canadians may have little notice of violent outbreaks and risk being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” officials say in an updated warning.  Leaving Syria by air could be difficult, officials say, because many airlines have suspended their flights to and from the country while there has also been violence near the airport in Damascus.  “Battles between Syrian and opposition armed forces have taken place in the vicinity of Damascus airport, which could be closed quickly, with little or no notice, and may be subject to checkpoints,” officials say.  As for leaving Syria by land, Foreign Affairs officials caution that crossing into Lebanon is too dangerous ….”   
  • Israel  Former Canadian diplomat in column  “…. Polls suggest that the Harper government’s policy on Israel finds favour with a large majority of Canadians. So why should he be concerned? If support for Israel is the driving factor in the Harper government’s current policy, the basic question is whether the manner in which it is expressed is helping Israel, or Canada.  Israel needs to have friends who have some standing with the Palestinians and the Arab world at large. Israel also needs friends to be able to tell it some home truths. Does the current policy achieve those objectives? The Palestinian Authority’s reaction to Canada’s explanation for our recent vote against Palestinian statehood in the UN suggests that Canada is no longer perceived as credible. What the policy does is please the Canadian Jewish community and the Netanyahu government ….”   
  • Way Up North (1)  “Progress is being made on the Nanisivik Naval Facility near Arctic Bay, Nunavut.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper first announced the $100 million project in 2007.  Earlier this year, plans for the facility were significantly scaled back. Officials blamed the high cost of building in the North saying the $100 million committed to the project won’t go as far as predicted.  The Department of National Defence said the project is now in the design phase and some of the environmental site inspections have been done, including an underwater video survey of habitat near the existing wharf ….”   
  • Way Up North (2)  Every kid knows the North Pole is hallowed ground, free of the grasping claims of nation states. Santa, after all, is a law unto himself, who, presumably, has scant need for the services of lawyers and other mortals.  And, in fact, the latest map documenting the territorial ambitions of Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway and the United States shows an area adjacent to the pole that is, at least notionally, unclaimed. Think of it as Santa Land — for now, anyway. The rest of the vast seabed between Canada and Russia is more or less up for grabs, as five nations around the pole seek legal extensions of their territorial waters beyond the established 200-nautical-mile limit ….”   
  • Way Up North (3)  A diplomatic whazzup in the Arctic  “The headline “The Race for the Arctic” has been a favoured one for newspaper and magazine writers, from Time magazine and Forbes to Business Week and Der Spiegel.  Most of this is hyperbole: while there is growing interest in the Arctic, projects in the region take years to plan and license, and billions of dollars to build; slow and steady will win this race.  But amid the talk of oil bonanzas and new shipping lanes, an interesting competition has opened up on the diplomatic front ….”   ‘
  • Way Up North (4)  “Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free zone would be stepping stone towards Global Zero    
  • Way Up North (5)  Meanwhile, over the pole…. (a huge hat tip to The Arctic Institute’s “The Arctic This Week” collection for this and other great stuff)  “Russia risks losing its sovereignty by the mid-21st century if it does not assert its national interests in the Arctic today, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said …. “It is extremely important for us to stake out our claims, define the perimeter of our national interests in this [Arctic] region,” he said.  “If we don’t do that we will lose the battle for resources and therefore will lose the big battle for the right to have our own sovereignty and independence.”  He warned that toward the middle of the 21st century the struggle for natural resources will start acquiring “utterly uncivilized forms,” including the presence of NATO warships along the Northern Sea Route ostensibly to protect civilian shipping and navigation ….”   
  • Congrats!  “Sergeant Ron Anderson, a Flight Engineer with 435 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron at 17 Wing Winnipeg, was recognized recently for reaching a milestone that few aircrew attain-10,000 flying hours with the Royal Canadian Air Force ….” 
  • The federal spy service has been dealt a rare rebuke by a judge, who has rejected a CSIS bid to wiretap Canadian citizens or corporations allegedly in cahoots with suspicious foreigners.  In a heavily censored Dec. 6 ruling touching on a Top Secret intelligence dossier, Madam Justice Anne Mactavish approved wiretaps against a network that is suspected of operating in Canada at the behest of an unspecified country. But she struck from the wiretap application the names of Canadian citizens or corporations associated with the network, ruling that their inclusion would be an overreach on civil liberties ….”  
  • Large snowflakes fell …. on about 60 people gathered around the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial to honour the 1,975 Canadian soldiers who staged a brave 18-day battle before they were taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1941.  The Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada, from Quebec, arrived in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, 1941 to help their British allies defend the colony from Japanese invasion. The Japanese attacked on Dec. 8 and, after battling day and night for 18 days, the vastly outnumbered and exhausted troops were forced to surrender on Christmas Day, 1941.  They were the first Canadians to see battle and those that survived were last to come home ….”
  • On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of State, Chief Government Whip and MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, addressed National History Forum participants on the importance of remembering the service and sacrifice of Canadian Veterans, and in particular their achievements as Canada prepares to mark the upcoming 100th anniversary of the First World War.  In the lead-up to the centennial in 2014, this year’s National History Forum focuses on how Canadians should remember the First World War. The event brings together more than 150 Canadian historians, educators, museum curators and other specialists in the field ….”

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11 December 12 at 7:45

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