Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Voters in Canada are showing up to vote in costumes and masks.... (Do you know why?)

A photo from the Facebook page called Any mummers 'lowed to vote.
A photo from the Facebook page called Any mummers 'lowed to vote.
The woman at heart of niqab debate finally becomes a Canadian citizen.
 Zunera Ishaq delayed her citizenship ceremony because she felt it was her right to wear the head covering, which is symbolic of her religious beliefs, while taking the oath. Our charter guarantees freedom of religion, but the law required women to remove head and face coverings to take the citizenship oath
The Federal Court of Canada found the ban on head coverings unlawful in February.

Zunera Ishaq became a Canadian citizen Friday, years after her battle to wear the niqab during the ceremony began.

Zunera Ishaq became a Canadian citizen Friday, years after her battle to wear the niqab during the ceremony began.
Zunera Ishaq – the woman at the centre of the niqab controversy – finally became a Canadian citizen Friday. In a ceremony Ishaq, 29, took the citizenship oath while wearing her niqab – a right she fought for and won after a lengthy legal battle.
Ishaq, a Mississauga resident, mother of four and a former English literature teacher, has been wearing the niqab since she was 15. She sees it as a symbol of her faith, and felt it was her right to wear it while taking the citizenship oath.
In December 2011 the then-minister of immigration, Jason Kenney had banned the wearing of a niqab while taking the oath of citizenship. He brought in the ban in an operational manual that outlined a series of measures he said were designed to strengthen the integrity of Canadian citizenship. (  a good cover for a racist )

Ishaq was to become a citizen in 2012, but didn’t want to take off her veil to say the oath of citizenship and the legal battle began. She put her citizenship ceremony on hold until her case was heard. She fought hard and spoke out about the religious freedoms granted to other cultures in Canada. Why should she be an exception in a democracy, where the right of religious freedom is quite clear in the charter of rights? The Federal Court of Canada found the ban unlawful in February....Good call! (The 'Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' guarantees Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right, allowing believers the freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference.) ( Get it? No interference. )

Ishaq’s fight to wear the niqab has become part of a political firestorm unleashed by the Conservatives. The courts have rejected the Harper government's attempt to force Ishaq to unveil her face during a citizenship ceremony and reinstate the ban.
Earlier this week, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said his party plans to ban federal civil servants from wearing niqabs. And he says that the party is examining Quebec’s Bill 94, which requires Muslim women or others who wear face coverings to remove them if they want to work in the public sector or do business with government officials.
Harper’s statements come on the heels of the Conservative government failure to overturn the Federal Court of Appeal decision in Ishaq’s case. That court ruled the government policy banning the wearing of a niqab – which covers a woman’s face and hair leaving only her eyes visible while taking the oath of citizenship – is illegal. Ottawa had tried to get that ruling stayed, but the courts rejected the move, leaving the door open for Ishaq to take her citizenship oath Friday and become a Canadian citizen.
In an interview with the Star Thursday, Ishaq talked about the importance of wearing the niqab and her rights and the rights of all Canadians to choose. The niqab “is part of my faith. I feel I can’t go without this piece of cloth anywhere in public . . . This is a religious practice for me.”
She says she believes “the government is trying to divert the attention of people from real issues of the political campaign by using the issue of the niqab.”

Jon Keefe voted in St. John's while dressed as a mummer. He did so to protest the hype over the niqab debate. He calls it a 'non-issue' and says he wanted to celebrate the right to vote with a covered face. 

clown rafik hanna

potato sack advance polling

advance polling ghost gatineau

Who was that masked voter? That seems to be the refrain around the country as face coverings of all kinds appear to be a growing trend in the Canadian election. 
Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, various people in Newfoundland, Quebec and Alberta were photographed in garb ranging from clown costumes to horses heads casting their ballot in advance polls.
It seems the purpose for doing so is to mock Stephen Harper’s focus on the niqab and using it as a political ploy.  Then there are voters on the other side of the coin, taking the stand that niqabs have no place in the business of the nation. And they are also showing up at the polls in masks.
In fact, a Quebec woman launched the Facebook group “Le 19 octobre, on vote à visage couvert!” encouraging people to cover their faces when they vote. Just prior to the advance polls over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Catherine Leclerc said she had more than 9,000 people pledging to do so.
Leclerc said she created the call to cover up because she has been frustrated by the inability of governments to ban religious garb. She emphasizes that her action isn’t against any particular group but just a demand for secularism in the democratic process. Members of the group are now posting pictures of themselves at the advance polls wearing all kinds of bizarre outfits from pirate gear to a horse head to fancy Venetian masks. One man who dressed in his own version of a niqab using what looked like a checkered tablecloth. Many others simply wrapped their heads with the Quebec flag.
In Dorval, a man voted while clad in a clown’s costume while another man in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa, voted in a ghost costume and a woman wearing a potato sack on her head cast her ballot .
Quebec comedian Adib Alkhalidey took to his Facebook page to mock those who felt the need to make a statement about the niqab, urging those who did so to wear a penis on their head the next time they make love to ensure the humanity of future generations.
Though he got more than 8,000 likes, Alkhalidey also attracted a lot of negative reaction, with some urging him to return to his country. Alkhalidey says he can’t do that since he’s lived in Quebec all his life.
According to Elections Canada rules, citizens are allowed to vote with a face covering.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of covering it is. It can be a mask or a niqab but there is nothing to stop electors from showing up with a covering. They are all welcome, in any kind of costume,” Dugald Maudsley of Elections Canada said.
“When they do have [a face covering] they are offered a choice: show their face or take an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote and provide two pieces of identification, one of which has to have a current address.” As long as they show up to vote Maudsley is happy.“Clearly people are going to show up a variety of costumes in this election.”
Maudsley says he doesn’t know of any circumstance yet in which a voter has been turned away simply because he/she has a face covering. Maudsley also noted that Canadians can vote by mail and in that case, aren’t required to provide a photo ID.

It’s not just a Quebec trend. St. John’s, N.L., businessman Jon Keefe decided he had enough of the niqab debate, which he felt detracted from real issues. He called out to his fellow Newfoundlanders on Facebook to show up as mummers.
The province has a Christmas tradition of mummering in which people dress up in strange costumes and go from house to house to dance and to drink.
Keefe showed up at a poll on Saturday in a floral dress, florescent yellow pantyhose and an elaborate face mask.
“There’s a mistaken belief that covering your face is somehow against Canadian values,” he told The Telegram newspaper.
The idea is taking hold and spreading across the country.  People in Alberta are voting in ski masks and cowboy hats with kerchiefs over their faces.
Gale Throne of Calgary posted a video saying she voted in a full ski mask to prove that she could have been anyone. Throne railed against what she sees as bending over for “political correctness.”
“All they did was pull out a little green book and said, ‘Are you such-and-such a person?’ I said ‘yes’ and that was it. And off I went to vote. Wow.”

People are starting to have fun with this and trying to top each other's costumes. It is turning into a big street party. And this is just the 'advance polls'. It will be amusing to see what turns up at the polls on election day...Crazy Canadians. Well, why not? It's almost Halloween.

An election coverup? Vote with covered faces

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bizzare Tour of Oscar Pistorious' House

The new tenants of the house where athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp have been filmed giving a tour around the house. In the video, they promise to host parties there every weekend, saying: "Oscar built this house to entertain".
Pistorius family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess described the footage as "bizarre" to the South African press.
David Scott and Kagiso Mokoape have apologized after giving the South African TV  a tour. However, the pair told the Rekord newspaper they had been assured that they were not being recorded.( likely story since it was a TV news channel)
"They came to the house to interview us to promote our business. We were relaxed and giving our own opinion as they told us they were not recording," Mr Scott said.
Mr Mokoape told the newspaper that the purpose of the video had been to send out a positive message that people "should enjoy and celebrate life".
The business partners give the TV channel a tour of the house, including the bathroom where Ms Steenkamp died, while holding cans of beer. At one point Mr Scott says: "This is definitely an entertainer's house."
In another part of the video he told the channel: "Hot girls can invite themselves."
Mr Scott also said they intended to decorate the house "in honour of what happened here".
These guys are ghouls, getting off on other people's tragedy. They are getting their fifteen minutes of fame on the coattails of a famous athlete/murderer and his victim.
They want to party in the house and show it off. And how, for gosh sakes, do you decorate a house in honor of a horrific  murder ?

The two men appear to be drinking beer throughout the video
During the video, Mr Scott opens the toilet door, through which Ms Steenkamp was shot four times, to show where she died. While in the bathroom, Mr Mokoape says "I feel bad for Reeva's parents".
Naturally the bathroom has since been refurbished, but how eerie to contemplate taking a tinkle in that toilet.

He is under mansion arrest
In one of the wealthiest suburbs of South Africa's capital Pretoria stands a three-story mansion where Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius was taken on his release from prison.
Pistorius, 29, has to wear an electronic tracking tag after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence for killing his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013.
The release of Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, is in line with South African sentencing guidelines that say non-dangerous prisoners should spend only one-sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars. Pistorius is due to serve the rest of his term in "custodial supervision", a form of house arrest.
He will be mostly confined to the home of his uncle, Arnold, a high-walled mansion in the leafy suburb of Waterkloof that features more than a dozen bedrooms, a private gym, outdoor swimming pool and extensive,beautifully landscaped gardens. Oscar is allowed to leave the house to work, carry out community service or to attend family events.

In a country with one of the world's highest rates of violent crime and where many still live in poverty, there is limited sympathy for Pistorius.

Steenkamp's parents said at the time of Pistorius' sentencing that spending 10 months in prison "for taking a life is simply not enough" and it would send out the wrong message to society.

Pistorius' time in Waterkloof could be short-lived if state prosecutors succeed in overturning the verdict.  Pistorius admitted killing Steenkamp, 29, by firing four shots into the locked door of a toilet cubicle in what he said was the mistaken belief that an intruder was hiding behind it.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said during sentencing that the state had failed to convince her of Pistorius' intent to kill when he fired.
Prosecutors want the verdict of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, raised to murder because they argue Pistorius must have known when he fired that the person behind the door could be killed. Many legal experts agree.
"Given he fired four shots through a door when he knew someone was inside, I think there is a good chance the appeal will be successful," William Booth, a lawyer who has followed the trial closely, commented.
If convicted of murder, Pistorius will likely be given a custodial sentence of at least 15 years. Fifteen years of custodial confinement to every luxury imaginable with weekends off ..... if he has plans to go somewhere, does not fit my definition of  the punishment fitting the crime.
But the social stigma Oscar is facing, and did face before the eyes of the world, in the  courtroom,  has exiled him to a different sort of prison; one he can never be released from. With that and the knowledge of his own guilt, he is living his punishment every day.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How about some good old fashioned one-liners ????

Happy Halloween

“I did a gig in a fertility clinic. I got a standing ovulation.”
“Dogs don’t love you. They’re just glad they don’t live in China.”  
“I used to think an ocean of soda existed, but it was just a Fanta sea.”
“Most of my life is spent avoiding conflict. I hardly ever visit Syria.”
“I’m not sexist – I’m not! That’s why I let my female workers work longer than the men so they can make the same money.”
“Did you know that HIV is actually Roman for 'high five'? Pass it on – or maybe you shouldn't ” 
 “I’ve got nothing against teachers now. I’ve got friends that went to schools that were full of teachers.”
 “That song ends 'flatly'. It’s like a sniper at Riverdance.”
“A funny German comedian??  That’s like an Iranian human-rights commission.”
" Ahhh.....where would we be without a good sense of humor....probably Germany"
“Like most liberals, I will do anything for the working classes, anything - except mix with them socially.”
 “I’ve got type 1 diabetes. It's is the only disease where you have to stop half way through sex to eat a Kit Kat.”
  “My dad said, always leave them wanting more. Ironically, that’s how he lost his job."
“When my wife and I fight, we’re like a rock concert: we start with some new stuff, and then we roll out our greatest hits.”
 “Dubai is what would happen if you gave a 12-year-old a trillion dollars to redecorate his bedroom.”
"I do all the driving in our house, because my husband never learned to drive .... Of course that's just my opinion ."
"My cat is recovering from a massive stroke."
“My father grew up in this really racist part of Boston, called Boston.”
“My mother wears a burka mostly because she doesn’t want to be seen with my dad.”
“After 50, you have to stop seeing your heart as a muscle and more as an unexploded bomb.”
 “Patience is a bit like a toilet-roll – the bigger the arsehole you’re dealing with, the quicker it runs out.”
 “I feel sorry for Islamic terrorists. How many people do they have to kill before people in the West accept that Islam is a religion of peace?”
 "Sweetie, we're going to Mother's for dinner. She wants to know what you want. ......."Ummmm..... An Ebola outbreak.”
“Recently in court, I was found guilty of being egotistical but I'm appealing.”
"I was vegan for a while. I lost 6lb, but most of that was personality."
“I think porn gives kids an unrealistic idea of what it’s like to be a plumber or a cable guy.”
 "I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It's Hans free."
"Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse... but enough about Kanye West."
"What's the difference between a 'hippo' and a 'Zippo'? One is really heavy, the other is a little lighter."
"If I could take just one thing to a desert island I probably wouldn't go."
"Red sky at night. Shepherd's delight. Blue sky at night. Day."
"They're always telling me to live my dreams. But I don't want to be naked in an exam I haven't studied for..."
"If you don't know what introspection is you need to take a long, hard look at yourself."
"Earlier this year I saw The Theory of Everything – loved it. Should've been called Look Who's Hawking, that's my only criticism."
"What do honeymooners eat for breakfast? Wedded Wheat."
"I've decided to sell my vacuum cleaner... well, it was just collecting dust."



Obama pokes fun at Kanye West's presidential ambitions

Kanye West announced his plans to run for election as US president in 2020 earlier this year, and told Vanity Fair that he had received lots of support since he made his ambitions clear. Speaking at a fundraising event, the current US president offered some words of advice, including "being cool" dealing with strange characters who behave like they are on a reality TV show.

Russia just handed ISIS a 'big win' in Syria's largest city

isis islamic state militants
(VICE News)

The terror group ISIS made gains near Syria's largest city in the last 24 hours, indirectly aided by Russian airstrikes that drove other groups out.
ISIS militants seized five villages on the northern edge of Aleppo, putting them within 1 mile of territory held by the Syrian regime, Reuters reports.
Russian airstrikes in the area reportedly killed hundreds of anti-regime rebels, many of whom ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh) was also fighting.
"Daesh has exploited the Russian air strikes and the preoccupation of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army in its battles in Hama, and advanced in Aleppo," one rebel commander told Reuters.
Hassan Hassan, an expert on Syria who recently coauthored the book "ISIS: Insider the Army of Terror," told Business Insider that ISIS' gains near Aleppo are a "big win."
"I’m sure ISIS has sleeper cells in Aleppo," Hassan said. "If they pushed, if they held their ground then that would be … a big win for them.
"They could actually establish a foothold inside Aleppo, and it also helps them to make more progress in Hama," another key city in western Syria.

So far, Russia's campaign against rebels in Syria has hit anti-regime fighters about 90% of the time while leaving ISIS strongholds untouched. And up until now, rebel groups have been successful keeping ISIS out of Aleppo.
There are many factions fighting for control of Syria — ISIS sometimes fights forces loyal to Assad and seeks to gain as much territory as it can in Syria, but the group mostly fights nationalist rebels as well as other jihadist groups like the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in the country.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stephen Hawking Makes a Frightening Prediction About the Future

stephen hawking
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking made a disturbing prediction for humanity's future with artificial intelligence in a Reddit AMA, suggesting that our drive toward technology and automation could accelerate inequality:

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed — everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.
So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technologydriving ever-increasing inequality.

This isn't the first time Hawking has made a point about how increasingly advanced technology could potentially harm humanity. He's been vocal in the past about the dangers that super-intelligent AI could unleash on the world. In a 2014 BBC interview, Hawking said that he believes "the development of full artificial intelligence [AI] could spell the end of the human race."

He also recently co-wrote an op-ed in The Independent with AI researcher Stuart Russell and Max Tegmark that included this startling statement: "Creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately it might also be the last ... AI may transform our economy to bring both great wealth and great dislocation"

Many AI researchers think that any AI that could potentially pose a threat to humanity is either impossible or far away. But they do agree that intelligent AI could have dire consequences for employment and inequality.
Toby Walsh, a professor in AI at the National Information and Communications
Technology Australia told Tech Insider that in the future, there wouldn't be a job that AI couldn't do.
"It's hard to think of a job that a computer ultimately won't be able to do as well if not better than we can do," Walsh told Tech Insider. "There are various forces in play, and one of those forces is technology. Technology is actually a force that is tending to concentrate and widen the inequality gaps. This is a challenge not for scientists but one for society to address, of how are we going to work through these changes."
AI and even technology in general are not the only or even necessarily the most significant forces driving economic changes. But whatever the cause, Hawking is mostly right about the result.
By the end of 2015, the percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty is projected to drop to the lowest numbers ever. Unfortunately, at the same time, inequality and income disparity is rising throughout the world. We are separating into two distinct groups...' THE HAVE IT ALLs ' and ' THE HAVE NOTHINGs '

So, are we heading for the 'rise of the machines' and, some day, the 'technological singularity' – ( a hypothetical point when AI begins to vastly exceed human intelligence and possibly becomes self aware )???? You tell  me; I really need to know.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Russia and US to resume Syria air safety talks...What the Russians are up to

Russian SU-34 bomber at air base Hmeimim in Syria. 6 Oct 2015
Russian SU-34 bomber

Russia has agreed to resume talks with the US on air safety during Syria bombing campaigns, says the Pentagon.
The talks "are likely to take place as soon as this weekend," said press secretary Peter Cook.
There have been concerns that there could be an accidental clash as the two countries pursue separate bombing campaigns over Syria. The US and its Nato allies have also been alarmed at violations of Turkish air space by Russian jets. US and Russian officials conducted talks on air safety via video conference on 1 October, but the US had complained that they had heard nothing from Moscow since then.
Earlier this week, Pentagon officials said they had had to carry out at least one "safe separation" manoeuvre to avoid a US jet coming too close to a Russian aircraft over Syria. They said this happened after 1 October, without giving a specific date.

Talks are likely to deal with how much separation there should between US and Russian aircraft and which language and radio frequencies crews should use for communications.

IS areas of influence, August 2014 to April 2015

Russia has said it is targeting positions of so-called Islamic State  (ISIS) but there are concerns that it is bombing the rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.  Reports on Friday said ISIS had seized several villages near the northern city of Aleppo from rival insurgents.
 Russian air strikes seem to be mostly hitting other Syrian opposition forces which pose more of a threat to the Syrian government. The Russian campaign appears to have weakened these groups, and given ISIS the opportunity to push forward, he adds.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Friday accused Russia of running "fundamentally flawed" operations in Syria which would "inflame the civil war and therefore extremism".
But Moscow has dismissed claims that its week of strikes has mainly hit non-ISIS targets.Russia has also launched cruise missiles against targets in Syria from warships in the Caspian Sea, about 1,500km (930 miles) away.

Syrian troops are said to be gaining ground, helped by Russian air strikes

Mr Carter said there were indications that four missiles that crashed in Iran before reaching their targets in Syria had malfunctioned. Russia has denied that any of its missiles crashed, saying all 26 hit their targets.
In another development on Friday, the US announced it would end efforts to train new Syrian rebel forces and instead shift to providing equipment and weapons to existing forces.
Its $500m  program had aimed to train and equip 5,400 fighters this year and a further 15,000 in 2016. However, it emerged last month that only four or five of the fighters were in Syria. It was also revealed that US-trained rebels had handed vehicles and ammunition over to militants. A senior administration official said the program was being put on "pause" and said it could be restarted in future.

Russia's air campaign in Syria has been under way for a little over a week, and it is now possible to begin to analyze what it is achieving, what weaponry is being used and where it may be heading.
Already there are indications that the initial phase is over and that Syrian government forces and their allies may be starting localized offensives on the ground with the support of Russian air power.
Ever since the first build-up of Russian forces in Latakia, US analyst Michael Kofman, of the CNA Corporation and a scholar at the Kennan Institute, has been monitoring the air campaign closely. When asked by journalists.......
'Given the number and tempo of Russian air attacks, could he deduce any clear pattern in terms of the nature of the targets and Moscow's broader strategic aims?'
He stated,"Russia's operational tempo is about 20 sorties per day, which is not that intense, but moderate, given the logistics they have in place," he told me. "The targets are known weapon storage areas, ammunition dumps, production facilities, and any command-and-control infrastructure that Syrian intelligence is aware of."
Russia is also softening up opposition forces by eliminating conventional weapons such as tanks, armoured personnel carriers and rocket artillery that they have captured from the Syrian army.
The targets are largely the coalition of groups under al-Nusra Front, to the north by Idlib and Aleppo, along with various rebel groups supported by members of the US coalition near Homs and Hama, to the east of Syrian government positions.
"These are the primary threats to Assad, and the areas where Syrian ground counter-offensives are likely to take place," Kofman says. "The campaign is therefore a softening of these groups and elimination of their weapon caches."
Of course one of the most contentious aspects of the Russian air campaign is precisely who Russian bombs and missiles are targeting? They claim they are attacking
a" variety of  terrorist groups". What does that mean ? It is open to interpretation.
 So ultimately, the 'endgame', it seems, is keeping Mr Assad in power at any cost.