Headlines and news stories keep us updated on the sometimes harsh truths around the world. While we are disturbed by the increasingly horrific situation in Iraq and the ensuing displacement of millions of Syrian refugees, another serious humanitarian crisis has been unfolding in South Sudan in near silence.
As the war recedes even farther into the past, the experience of the Great War risks sliding out of our collective memory. The centenary of WWI challenges us to renew our understanding of the conflict and reconsider its contemporary meaning. In that same spirit, my office is hosting Lest We Forget, an exhibition of WWI-inspired paintings by celebrated contemporary artist Charles Pachter.
With every day that passes, the Nigerian schoolgirls could be moving further into dangerous territory of all kinds. Exploitation like the kinds they may be facing can have intensely disturbing effects on a child's social, emotional cognitive and spiritual well-being -- as well as their long-term development.
As I write this, the swell of a Western grassroots outcry against the Nigerian outfit, Boko Haram, appears to be forming across social media. There's a specific aspect of war crimes which it is necessary to emphasize, and that's the use of sexualized violence against women as a tool of war. Can we all agree to stop using the phrase "the forcible sale of women into marriage"? Church bells and nuptials this is not. It's profiteering from rape in a triple currency which is simultaneously economic, military and psychological in nature.
Consider what is happening in Syria even as we read these words. Aid agencies have become so desperate for help that they repeatedly call upon the affluent West to step up and assist the 9.3 million people living at risk, and the 3.5 million Syrians living under siege. Surely these people matter to us, right?
At the end of the day, it will always be the people who suffer, and Ukraine has a long history of suffering. There are enough populations who feel abandoned by a Ukrainian Ukraine to fight for Russia, and enough who are ready to engulf Kiev in flames in order to show their desire to move away from the perceived dangers of an Eastern block and take their place among Western nations.
The West, and especially the English-speaking West, has wrongly taken sides in the present conflict in Ukraine. Instead of making empty promises or threats, our message should be clear and decisive: "What is happening in Ukraine is a matter that its population has to sort out for itself. But, if asked, we will work with all interested parties to mediate a speedy and peaceful resolution." No more, no less.
The challenges that remain in Afghanistan are significant and they are copiously documented elsewhere and do not require repeating here. But the challenges should not overshadow the progress, and what can be concluded from the state of affairs in Afghanistan today is that Afghanistan is far better off today than it was in in 2001.
If you knew that [Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front] were coming, or if you even heard a rumour that the RUF were on their way, knowing that they cut the hands and feet off babies, you wouldn't hang around very long. And it worked -- it was very successful. It helped them clear the diamond fields, and they could dig diamonds to their heart's content. There are 1.5-million artisanal diamond diggers in Africa -- they produce about 16 per cent of the world's diamonds. So there's a good chance that 16 per cent of the diamonds in any store are part of that problem.
Around 10:45 a.m., I decided it was time to turn off Lego Stars Wars and turn our attention to real war, and all those who have fought, or continue to fight, for our freedom. First, I had to get Max Skywalker on board. He really had no idea what Remembrance Day was all about. My super-simplified explanation went something like this...
I'm proud of my country and would fight for her again, body willing. I know my brothers and sisters in arms feel the same way. Canada has never been conquered by a foreign power, but if this FIPA trade deal is ratified, it will commit us to sacrifice our precious resources without even having the right to fight.
We've seen an increasing amount in the news about Mali lately. A West African country in the grips of a conflict so brutal almost 400,000 people, mainly women and children, have had to flee their homes. With these concerns in mind, Plan has been stepping up our regular programs in Mali to help people through this period in their lives.
The way a news story is structured or what goes in the headline may have a profound effect on what people think they know about current events. For the casual news consumer, many of whom stopped reading this after the first few paragraphs, it is a good idea to carefully read the entire story when it comes to important issues.
This week, sixty-two years ago, was the start of the Korean War. It was a chance for Canadians who were too young for World War II to experience what others had endured in wartime; it was an adventure. The mixture of veterans and rookies proved to be a more effective force than many expected, and Canadians who were there now recognize how worthwhile their contribution was.
Human beings are attempting to codify the set of ideal characteristics, virtues, moral commands, moral dispositions and even the capacity of judgment into a set of algorithms to then impart to a machine. However, for thousands of years, humanity has attempted to create good people, without much success.