Letter: When did the Saudis turn into the good guys?

Montreal Gazette

Re: “Saudi Arabia and the West’s hypocrisy” (Opinion, Jan. 27)

I think a lot of people are waking up to the exposed myth of our so-called western values as demonstrated lately by the surreal behaviour of our politicians.

Lip service is paid to freedom of speech here, where it’s easy. Yet silence or obsequious demeanour is practised where defence of freedom of speech is desperately needed: in defence of human rights, in condemning torture, in calling for the Saudis who marched in lockstep with the Charlies in France to back up their words with meaningful actions and release Raif Badawi. Allow him to come to Canada to join his family.

I see by Eman El-Husseini’s opinion piece that I’m not the only one who feels I’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole. Suddenly the Saudis are the good guys and the Raifs are our sacrificial lambs. We sign a $15-billion arms…

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Behind the Picture: The Liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945


[Note: This gallery contains graphic images.]

Some photographs are so much of their time that, as years pass, they acquire an air of genuine authority—about an event, a person, a place—and even, perhaps, an air of inevitability. This is what it was like, these pictures seem to say. This is what happened. This is the moment. This is what we remember.

Of the many indispensable photos made during the Second World War, Margaret Bourke-White’s portrait of survivors at Buchenwald in April 1945—”staring out at their Allied rescuers,” as LIFE magazine put it, “like so many living corpses”—remains among the most haunting. The faces of the men, young and old, staring from behind the wire, “barely able to believe that they would be delivered from a Nazi camp where the only deliverance had been death,” attest with an awful eloquence to the depths of human depravity and, perhaps even more…

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Do You Wish Everyone Was Sincere All the Time?

Eric Linus Kaplan

Sometimes we find it wearisome that everybody is so ironic. We feel like saying — stop saying everything in quotes. Don’t say ” ” Doctor Who is such a great show” “. Just say it was a great show, or don’t. We wish, on other words, for a world in which all communication was sincere.

Be careful what you wish for. Tigers eating you are perfectly sincere. So are tapeworms eating you from the inside. So, in a certain way of thinking about it, are liars. A tiger pretending to be a bunch of grass in order to pounce and eat you is sincere. He is just tricking you. In a sense even the internal voices within us that stifle our lives through repeating various half-truths that others would like us to believe are sincere. Coca Cola sincerely wants you to think its product “adds life” even though, in reality…

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Parents billed $29 for a ‘no-show fee’ after five-year-old son misses birthday party

National Post | News

It’s enough to scare someone off of having children.

Whether it’s gluten or plastics or peanuts, it seems young and new parents have more and more social taboos to navigate.

The latest parenting taboo? Missing a birthday party — or sending an invoice to the absent child’s parents, depending on how you look at it.

A pair of British parents are still reeling from the discovery of an invoice for £15.95 (just under $29 Canadian) in their five-year-old son Alex’s backpack. Their crime? Not informing the parents of his classmate their son would not be attending a birthday party in December.

Julie Lawrence, the birthday boy’s mother, has defended the “fee” as necessary to recoup the costs associated with a no-show. She said Alex told her son he would attend…

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Hezbollah places forces on high-alert after reported Israeli airstrike in Syria kills commanders


Israeli tank on the Golan Heights Photo:thetimes.co.uk Israeli tank on the Golan Heights Photo:thetimes.co.uk

During the early evening hours, reports indicated that an Israeli army helicopter gunship targeted a Hezbollah force on Syria’s Golan Heights in the town of Mazraat al-Amal. A short time later, Hezbollah confirmed that a number of its members were killed. Reports indicate that those killed included the following commanders: Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Hezbollah’s former military commander assassinated in Damascus in 2008, and Hajj Mohammed Issa. Additional reports are indicating that Iranian military officers were also killed in the strikes. These are unconfirmed, but it would not be surprising, given the presence of Hezbollah commanders. Israel has officially refused to comment.

In the hours after the attack, Hezbollah has placed its forces in southern Lebanon and on the Israeli border on high-alert. Israel likely did the same even before the strikes, to deter a Hezbollah response. Meanwhile, reports now show that Israeli…

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Don Harron, legendary Canadian actor who played Charlie Farquharson, dies at 90

National Post | News

TORONTO — Don Harron, who entertained generations of Canadians with his comic alter ego Charlie Farquharson and helped bring the Canadian classic novel “Anne of Green Gables” from the page to the stage, has died. He was 90.

Harron’s eldest daughter Martha said her father died on Saturday morning surrounded by family at his Toronto home after choosing not to seek treatment for cancer.

The wit and humour that landed him roles on CBC radio programs and television variety shows such as “Hee Haw” continued to define her father to the very end, Martha Harron said.

“He was still sharp. He was still capable of being funny even though his voice was barely above a whisper,” she said in a telephone interview from Toronto. “It’s horribly sad, but it’s beautiful too.”

 Aaron Harris / CANADIAN PRESS Aaron Harris / CANADIAN PRESS

Harron was born in Toronto in 1924 and, according to his own accounts in…

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Montreal Canadiens play French national anthem before game at Bell Centre


MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens honoured the victims of this week’s terrorist shootings in Paris by playing the French national anthem prior to their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Two shooters killed 12 people Wednesday at the Paris headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The attack was followed by Friday’s deadly terrorist assault on a supermarket.

In all, 20 people died during the three days of violence, including three gunmen.

The French flag was shown waving on the scoreboard at Bell Centre as the Canadiens played La Marseillaise before the American and Canadian national anthems.

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Barbara Kay: Paris attack represents Islamist hate that knows no boundaries


National Post | News

It is a black day in France for loss of human life and — more important historically — a black day for democracy’s greatest gift to the world: the principle of freedom of speech.

Three masked Islamic terrorists, armed with Kalashnikov rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade, stormed the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 and injuring about 20, four said to be in critical condition. There seems no doubt as to the motivation for the attack. According to a witness, the assailants cried out, “We will avenge the Prophet.” The gunmen shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) as shots rang out.

After a gun fight with police outside the building, in which two officers were killed, the gunmen fled in a car (stolen after they abandoned their projected getaway car). A manhunt is under way. Security levels, already amongst the highest in the world, are…

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US negotiator blames Palestinians for missing peace chances

Broken Spring

You’ve read here how the Palestinians rejected or ignored Israeli peace offers in 2000 and 2008. That last one was the one the AP banned me from writing about. Now retired US diplomat Dennis Ross is making the same case in this groundbreaking article in the New York Times. It’s the first time a diplomat that close to the “peace process” has admitted that the failures are not Israel’s fault. He adds to the wall of shame the Palestinian “pocket veto” of the latest US proposal, just last year.

Dennis Ross Dennis Ross

Dennis Ross spent much of his State Department career trying to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I talked to him often in those days. Once we were about to board the same plane to the US from Israel, and I saw him at  the airport. As I came up to him, he audibly groaned. It had been a…

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