Where is Karla?

After discussing Homolkamania in the media here a while ago, I couldn’t resist posting this. It’s a site dedicated to tracking her down and publishing her address:


The site is intended to make the public “feel safer and more connected”. Did it work for you?


A Step Backwards for Iraq’s Women

The draft version of Iraq’s constitution is supposed to be complete on August 15, when it will be submitted to the Iraqi National Assembly (their parliament) so they can set the final wording before holding another general election. What is taking shape is not the basis of the Westernized democracy that the US had hoped for. Instead, the drafters of the constitution seem set on making Islamic law (Sharia) the basis of Iraqi law and government. The draft says “Islam is the official religion of the state and is the main source of legislation” and makes it illegal for any law to be passed that conflicts with Islam.

This has Iraq’s women especially worried, because, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

A draft version of the constitution would make fundamental changes in the legal rights of Iraqi women, undoing decades of progressive treatment and likely sharply reducing the number of women in the National Assembly.

Currently, women hold 31% of the seats in the National Assembly, and under the Transitional Administrative Law that set up the assembly, they must hold at least 25% of the seats.

However, the draft would remove the 25% requirement after two more terms of the assembly, almost certainly resulting in a significant reduction of seats held by women.

It appears as though the rights Iraq’s women enjoyed are being removed. That has Iraqi women’s groups worried, and for good reason: Sharia allows for such procedures as divorcing your wife by stating your intention to do so three times, for example. Women have no such easy recourse, but must instead go through an elaborate process.

The draft constitution would also “permanently grant the Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani and future top Shiite religious authorities official authority to help guide the government”, according to Democracy Now, allowing top clerics to overrule secular legislation. This idea shifts the country closer to Iran, a theocracy run by Shi’ite Muslims where clerics hold the real power in the country. Shi’ites also make up the majority of Iraq’s population.

Drop the Q, add an N, great, another Iran. At this rate the US will have to invade the country every 10 or 15 years, just to set ’em straight. Maybe they can just keep the military down there and go back-and-forth across the border between the two countries. Topple a dictator and install a theocratic regime, cross the border, topple a theocratic regime and install a dictator, then rinse and repeat. Great job, GW!


Sasquatch’s Tuft or Peeping Tom’s Hairpiece Clump?

At times I have been criticized for my skepticism and my preference for science and secular humanism over religion and superstition. Well, some folks out in the Yukon think they saw Sasquatch a few days ago. This time, the creature apparently left behind more than just a grainy photograph and some earnest stories from half-literates: a tuft of hair.

That lends itself to DNA testing and that’s what’s happening right now. The DNA testing is supposed to be done later this week. So I’m going to go on record and make a prediction: it wasn’t Sasquatch and DNA testing is going to prove it. If I’m wrong, I promise to end each thing I write with “But I was wrong about Sasquatch” for at least a month.


Two Interesting Articles

I came across two interesting articles this morning. Both are about terrorism – the first, related to the bombings of the Egyptian resort this weekend, the second, related to the bombings in London. What’s interesting about the articles is that each provides some insight that goes beyond the usual rhetoric in examining the possible motives of the people who may have been involved in each attack.

The first article, appearing in the National Post, examines the Bedouin tribespeople who inhabit the deserts of Sinai where the bombed resort, Sharm el Sheikh, lies, on the shores of the Red Sea. Displaced from their land, deprived of their traditional rights and looked down upon by the Egypt’s city dwellers, the Bedouin communities “present ripe pickings for jihadists”, the article says.

The second article, appearing on Counterpunch and likely reprinted from The Independent, is by one of my favourite journalists, Robert Fisk, whose book Pity the Nation I have reviewed on this site. He writes about the disconnect some Muslim men living in Western countries experience between their religion and the temptations (from their religion’s perspective) they are exposed to – and sometimes succumb to:

So in Britain – and even the Muslims who were born in the country often grow up in traditional families – there can be a fierce dichotomy between their lives and that of the society around them. The freedoms of Britain – social as well as political – can be very attractive. Knowing that its elected government sends its soldiers to invade Iraq and kill quite a lot of Muslims at the same time might turn the “dichotomy” into something far more dangerous.

It’s articles like these that are necessary for us to understand the complex nature of the situation we are faced with today. It seems apparent that 9/11 was just the beginning. The Western response to that tragedy has made the situation much worse and it’s likely that we are now entering a prolonged period of violence and instability, fuelled by extremists on both sides – Bin Laden on one end of the see-saw, Bush on the other, each using the other to propel themselves to positions of influence and win the hearts of their hoped-for constituencies. The only way out will be to understand the way we got in. Articles like these help.


All Too Familiar

The body of Liana White, the Edmonton woman who was four months pregnant when she disappeared, was found on Sunday. She went missing five days prior to the discovery. Her husband, Michael White, who had tearfully appeared on television to appeal for her return has now been charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of committing an indignity to a dead body. Who knows what this human scum did to her to get that second charge, for now, police aren’t saying (forgive me for assuming his guilt throughout the rest of this piece, I know he is the “alleged” murderer and all, but I’m not going to be bound by journalistic convention for this one).

In an article entitled Dramatic story line all too familiar, the Globe and Mail decries the “modern story line that seems to play out again and again”:

A husband or wife turns to the media in an outpouring of anguish about a loved one who has disappeared — only to be accused later of killing that missing spouse.

It’s odd, but that’s not quite the story line I’m familiar with. The one I’m familiar with goes like this:

A husband turns to the media in an outpouring of anguish about his wife, who has disappeared — only to be accused later of killing her.

Let’s face it: we have a serious problem in our society. That problem is called woman abuse, abuse that all too frequently escalates into murder. We sidestep the issue by calling it “domestic violence”, a clever way of turning it into a problem with families. It’s not a problem with families, it’s a problem, by and large, with abusive men.

According to a recent survey by Statistics Canada, “seven per cent of women and six per cent of men end up abused by their current or former partners”. To all those men who cower in fear at the very sight of their domineering, violently abusive wives, allow me to apologize in advance for saying: bullshit. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a man who works with abusive men. Two things stick out in my mind: he said that when he deals with these men, “it’s never their fault”, and he described one conversation where the guy said “well, she hit me first” to which he responded, “yeah, but you hit her back, and look at the size of you.”

Maybe you are a victim of abuse when your wife slaps you and you punch her in the face so hard you knock her unconscious. I do realize and recognize that there are some situations – there are always exceptions – where a man may be well and truly abused by his wife. But anecdotally, from what I’ve read and from all my conversations with social workers, I just don’t think that’s the big problem here.

As much as I cast doubt on the main conclusion of the Statistics Canada survey, the rest of it seems to bear that out, as the article I linked to affirms: “The data collected show the nature and consequences of spousal violence were more severe for women than for men.” It goes on to say:

Female victims of spousal violence were more than twice as likely to be injured as male victims.

Women were also three times more likely to fear for their life, and twice as likely to be the targets of more than 10 violent episodes.

And, overall, female victims were twice as likely as male victims to be stalked by a previous spouse. Eleven per cent of female victims and six per cent of male victims reported being stalked by a previous boyfriend or girlfriend.

The link between abuse and murder is clear: 58 percent of “spousal homicides”, as this report on the Canadian Department of Justice website calls them, “followed a history of reported domestic violence between victims and offenders”. This same report, which analyzes the murder rates between partners, says that:

Women were the victims in more than three-quarters of the 2,600 spousal homicides recorded in Canada between 1974 and 2000.

So men accounted for one-quarter of the victims during this period, which is hardly something I ought to dismiss. Except that “men were much more likely than women to initiate the violent incidents that resulted in men’s deaths”. In other words, it’s much more likely that the man dies as a result of something he started than the other way around.

All too familiar, indeed.

Life, politics, code and current events from a Canadian perspective.

Adrian Duyzer
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