Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ahmadinejad - the last president of Iran?

ayatullah khameneiImage via Wikipedia
The message from Iran’s most powerful man was clear: the post of president could be removed sometime in the future. If this happened, the parliamentary system could instead be used to elect officials holding executive power. ‘There would be no problem in altering the current structure,’ stated Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a speech in the city of Kermanshah on Sunday.

What we have here is a tussle between Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over their respective legacies. And Khamenei is taking this matter so seriously that he’s threatening to remove the very position of the presidency altogether. For now, this is only a threat. But it’s one that can’t be ignored, especially by Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad isn’t eligible to run for president again when his term expires in June 2013, as Iran’s Constitution is clear a president can run for only two consecutive terms. To ensure his legacy, then, Ahmadinejad seems to be backing his right hand man Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as a presidential candidate. Ahmadinejad likely hopes that with Mashaei as president, he will be able to retain a powerful cabinet position – think an Iranian twist on what Vladimir Putin has done in Dmitry Medvedev’s government. When Mashaei finishes his four year term, Ahmadinejad would then be able to use his likely high profile in Meshai’s government as a platform to develop a renewed bid for the presidency.
This concerns Khamenei, and rightly so.

Mashaei is an extremely divisive figure. Many conservatives despise him. For some, it is because of reports that he married a former member of the opposition Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which he was interrogating in the early 1980s, as well as reports that his brother was also member of the same organization. Others, though, are furious that he said publicly that the people of Iran have no problem with the people of Israel.

Jealousy is another factor. Soon after Meshai’s daughter married Ahmadinejad's son, his political career started to take off. From once being a virtually unknown politician, these days Mashaei is seen as Ahmadinejad’s right hand man (some even speculate that it’s Mashaei that holds the real power in the Ahmadinejad government).

But the animosity felt toward Mashaei isn’t confined to Iranian politicians – even Ahmadinejad’s brother Davood has been attacking him publicly. Ahmadinejad’s son-in-law, Mehdi Khorshidi, meanwhile, has joined in on the attacks against Meshai. Some believe that Davood left his post as chief of the presidential inspection unit because of Meshai.

It’s clear, then, that if Mashaei runs for president, it will create ferocious pitched political battles inside Iranian politics, conflicts that could even spark violence. This is the last thing Khamenei needs for a regime that already faces sanctions and a host of economic problems, as well as opposition from the Green movement. Khamenei therefore won’t want serious conflict among conservatives, who in the political world of the Islamic Republic are his biggest supporters.
Read more:

Acknowledgements: The Diplomat
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The iconic Big Ben clock tower in London is developing a tilt

The clock tower of Big Ben at dusk. The north ...Image via Wikipedia
The iconic Big Ben clock tower in London is developing a tilt.

Monitoring instruments show that the tilt has been increasing by one centimetre a year since 2003.

The problem has been blamed on decades of building work that have gone on around the foot of the structure.

Big Ben now joins this motley crew of precarious buildings.

Images: AAP
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Facing Autism in New Brunswick...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autism Woe Canada: From Coast to Coast, No One Stands On Guard for Canadians with Autism Disorders

Two news reports show all too clearly that no one stands on guard for autistic children, youth and adults in Canada:

EDMONTON — A 51-year-old Edmonton man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse and neglect of his teenage autistic son that left him looking like a "concentration camp victim." Vancouver Sun, Postmedia News, October 18, 2011 

Leave the Wild Rose province of Alberta and head to Canada's Ocean Playground in Nova Scotia and things don't get much better for Canadians with autism disorders.

"The provincial government has suspended Braemore's licence and replaced its executive director. The Cape Breton District Health Authority's board of directors is now acting as the interim board for the home.

The review was ordered by the province's Department of Community Services in February after officials found that an autistic resident of Braemore was locked inside a constantly lit room for 15 days last fall.

Minister says she feels 'absolutely terrible'

At the time, Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse said the review was needed after her department concluded the 20-year-old man, who was allowed out occasionally for exercise and meals, sometimes urinated in the room when he couldn't leave to use a bathroom. The home's executive director, Debra MacPherson, later apologized.

Peterson-Rafuse, who was in Sydney on Tuesday to meet with the interim board, said she was taken aback by the report's findings.

"I accept the responsibility as minister to say that we could have done better too," she said in an interview."  CBC News, October 28, 2011"

A father in Alberta doesn't see what the fuss is all about over his failure to provide a humane level of care for his autistic son.  In Nova Scotia a government Minister is "taken aback" and, golly gee whiz,  she is just all shocked and surprised to see that a group home which is supposed to care for its residents didn't care at all and put adult squabbles and interests ahead of the dignity and well being of an autistic resident. 

Other Canadian provinces are no better.  Here in New Brunswick we have twiddled our thumbs and stuck stubbornly with an adult care system that does not provide safety, security and a dignified life for its autistic residents.  Adults who   suffer from severe autism disorders are sentenced to spend their lives in a psychiatric hospital. No one, including an Ombudsman's Office that has done little to help autistic children and adults in New Brunswick, will do anything to provide a decent life for the autistic adults in the care of the government once their parents succumb to old age and death. 

Our Supreme Court of Canada reversed decisions by a British Columbia trial judge and three BC Court of Appeal justices and put deference to government decision makers ahead of the best interests of autistic children in the Auton Case. Our federal governments under both Liberal and Conservative Prime Ministers have done nothing to provide Canadians with a Real National Autism Strategy.  

A Real National Autism Strategy is needed to ensure that regardless of where autistic Canadians live in this country they will be able to live in decent, humane conditions.  If we can't we should stop parading around the world, with a holier than thou attitude,  lecturing others about the way they treat autistic people.
Acknowledgements to the author.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Violent occupiers worldwide while NZ peaceful - but for how long...

Aotea Square and Auckland Town Hall, 1990Image via Wikipedia
Occupiers watch look on and listen to movement organisations

Occupiers watch look on and listen to movement organisation

It has been a day of sometimes violent, protest across the globe, with 950 co-ordinated demonstrations against corporate greed and austerity measures in more than 80 countries.

What began with a handful of people in the Occupy Wall Street movement has swelled to a global movement, with protests in more than 80 cities on six continents, including in New Zealand.

The biggest and bloodiest demonstration was in Rome. Up to 200,000 people took to the streets to protest against corporate greed and the state of the Italian economy.

The march ended in a riot as protesters set fire to police vans, and tried to smash their way into banks and shops.
Police responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Italians have been hit hard by austerity measures. They are angry about their government’s handling of the country's financial crisis.

In London protesters gathered at St Pauls Cathedral and hundreds attempted to occupy Paternoster Square, home to the city's stock exchange; their attempts were thwarted by police.

By nightfall, numbers had grown and tensions were fraying.

The movement continued across Europe, from Portugal and Spain to Berlin, Athens and the financial hub of Brussels.

Protests in Asia were peaceful but the message was the same.

In Aotea Square in Auckland around 100 protesters set up camp last night and say they are here for the long haul.

“Whatever it takes because at the moment the economy has a death grip on the planet and it's not letting go,” said one occupier, Dan Clark.

Another, Alex Port, says this is about the process itself of finding out how we can make our society, “one that's based on kindness and compassion rather than greed and cynicism”.

It is a family atmosphere at Aotea square but in other parts of the world expressing that message has turned streets into battlefields.

The re-election of the rightwing Key-led government could change all that. National's plans for a second term are causing alarm in some quarters in New Zealand. Protests have been planned in both Auckland and Wellington. Australian protests could commence in Sydney.

Acknowledgements: 3 News
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