20200624 Kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight

Thursday, 25 June, 2020

Posts from 20200624

1a) #GreatPodcast #LoversInADangerousTime “Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight”
On this Tuen Ng Festival (#端午節), here is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, and insightful podcast to listen.

#FrontBurner //One woman’s fight to free her husband from a Chinese jail//

//In an exclusive interview this week with The National’s Adrienne Arsenault, Michael Kovrig’s wife spoke out for the first time.

Vina Nadjibulla says Ottawa could do more to get her husband — and Canadian Michael Spavor — out of jail in China. Both men were arrested in December of 2018 just days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on behalf of American justice officials.

Today on Front Burner, Arsenault brings us more on Nadjibulla’s fight for her husband’s freedom — and how she is helping him stay resilient.//

1b) 20200622 //Michael Kovrig’s wife on fighting for his freedom: exclusive interview//

//Michael Kovrig’s wife (though separated) Vina Nadjibulla speaks for the first time in an exclusive interview with Adrienne Arsenault about his detention, Canada’s diplomacy and her fears for the future. Nadjibulla also shares letters Kovrig has sent during his 560 days in a Chinese prison.

#MichaelKovrig
#MichaelSpavor
#China
#Huawei//

2) Two great answers from Dr. Mike & Dr. Maria (WHO 20200624 WHO Media briefing on COVID-19)

WHO official transcript PDF link: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/transcripts/virtual-press-conference—24-june—covid-19.pdf

38:08 MR (from WHO official transacript) “If I could add on this, we tend to get positive information on remdesivir and we all chase that for a while and then we get stuff on dexamethasone and then we have a discussion about oxygen and then we have a discussion about other things.I think we need to really start seeing this as how do we optimise the clinical management of all patients who become sick; from the very moment that someone feels sick, getting an early diagnosis, being able to see a qualified physician or nurse and understanding, that physician or nurse being able to understand your underlying conditions, your likely risk and being able to put you into a pathway to see and seek and have the right care available. […]”

42:52 MK “That’s really a fantastic question. We are living in a time right now where there’re so many different groups that are carrying out really incredible research, real-time research right now for a new virus that we didn’t know anything about six months ago.We are learning about severity, we’re learning about transmission, we’re learning about treatments, we’re learning about every aspect of this virus and it’s happening at an incredibly rapid pace so that’s very positive. We’re seeing innovation in areas that we hadn’t seen before. You’ve mentioned the use of masks and we talk about different types of fabrics. That didn’t exist a few months ago.”

3) 20200624 Presser – Trudeau addresses calls to intervene in Meng Wanzhou case, announces investments for students | FULL

xxx


Your #covid19 control measures have got to be exponential – New Quote I Love

Friday, 27 March, 2020

Here is a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“”This is a virus (#SARS-CoV-2 / #covid19) that once it does take off, it is going to move and increase exponentially, … your control measures have got to be exponential as well to get in front of it. So small incremental measures won’t work.”” – Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO


#covid19 daily press briefing 20 March 2020 – Live from WHO Headquarters (with timecodes to Q&As)

Friday, 20 March, 2020

#covid19 daily press briefing 20 March 2020 – Live from WHO Headquarters

List of timecodes to help quickly access specific sections where Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Dr. Mike Ryan, and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove answered questions from the press:

0:00 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus starts press conference
11:52 Q1 by reporter from China state owned Xinhua News Agency
12:28 A1 Dr. Mike Ryan answer re implication of China has no new cases since yesterday.
14:07 Q2 from Iran re Nowruz [which means “new day”/Iranian New Year, a holiday marking the arrival of spring]
15:12 A2 from Dr. Mike Ryan
17:38 A2 from Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
18:48 Q3
19:24 A3 Dr. Mike Ryan
22:30 A3 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
23:38 Q4
24:16 A4 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
26:02 Q5 Email question from India
26:35 A5 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
28:08 Q6
28:35 A6 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
29:30 Q7
30:00 A7 Dr. Mike Ryan re lack of supply globally
34:55 A7 Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
35:34 “Some countries are banning exports and that cannot be a solution”
37:00 A7 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove re recommendations on the use of masks on an individual level.
38:18 Q8
38:44 A8 Dr. Mike Ryan 41:00 These are the healthcare systems collapsing …
42:20 A8 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
43:22 Q9 from Greece
44:02 A9 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
45:00 A9 Dr. Mike Ryan
47:38 A9 & Concluding comments from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


Italian death toll overtakes China’s as #covid19 spreads – Can China’s number be trusted?

Thursday, 19 March, 2020
Italy vs China data - JHU Med - Screen Shot 2020-03-19

Italy vs China data – JHU Med – Screen Shot 2020-03-19

#Sobering day as //Italian death toll overtakes China’s as virus spreads// (20200319, City News 1130)

* 3405 reported deaths out of 41,035 cases in Italy (quoting JHU Med map data taken as of 20200319 ~3pm data)

* 3249 reported deaths out of 81,155 cases in China

* Let me try to address the widespread distrust in China’s numbers by some HongKongers and Chinese around the world. The dictatorial ruthless Xi BJ gov is rightfully to be distrusted but hear me out …

An #Exponential growth in cases and deaths mean that cases and deaths double in N number of days, say 5-6 days. Thinking like an Epidemiologist (which I am NOT) so lets have a #ThoughtExperiment.

China might be under reporting few (even a large number of) cases here and there BUT the exponential power of #covid19 in its growth and kill figures as China was in an uncontrolled growth phase means that thousands and thousands of deaths need to be hidden.

#ThoughtExperiment In just one (1) month, assuming exponential growth in 5 days. An initial Day01 deaths of 2,000, after just SIX (6) doubling, means that you have 2,000 x 64 = 128,000 deaths on Day30!

Try hiding ~128,000 deaths without having their families and loved ones willing to die to overturn the government!

Of course, if you still don’t trust my #ThoughtExperiment, no problem. Trust that #covid19 doesn’t really give a beep of what we think. It will keep on infecting and killing until it has no one to kill. So Xi as any dictatorial ruthless emperor wants to do, he wants some people to rule over and not to have them all died under his rule.


More Heartbreaking News From Hong Kong

Monday, 12 August, 2019

20190812 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest at HKG airport - Pix 01 protesters and signs - Hong Kong Police took a nurse's right eye

20190812 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest at HKG airport – Pix 01 protesters and signs – Hong Kong Police took a nurse’s right eye [HT Pasu]

20190812 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest at HKG airport - Pix 01 protesters and signs [HT Pasu]

20190812 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest at HKG airport – Pix 01 protesters and signs [HT Pasu]

20190812 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest at HKG airport - Pix 03 [HT Pasu]

20190812 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest at HKG airport – Pix 03 [HT Pasu]

More Heartbreaking News From Hong Kong

Following added on 2019 Aug 12:


Good read – 20190322

Friday, 22 March, 2019

20190322 The New Yorker, Masha GessenJacinda Ardern Has Rewritten the Script for How a Nation Grieves After a Terrorist Attack“,

“Ardern, on the other hand, immediately showed that she had no time for the perpetrator of the mosque shootings.“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand; they may even be refugees here,” she said. “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.”

These phrases are remarkable for what they do not contain: a promise to find the perpetrator and bring him to justice; any attempt to degrade him; any recognition of his desire to be seen, recognized, and fought. The opposite of terror is not courage, victory, or even justice, and it is certainly not “war on terror.” The opposite of terror is disregard for the terrorist.

In a later statement, Ardern made her policy of disregard explicit. Speaking to Parliament four days after the attacks, she said, “He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And, to others, I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name.”

[…] In a nuanced response to a BBC interviewer, who asked if she was concerned about a rise in white nationalism in New Zealand, she said, “My call would be a global one. I’m very clear here to make the distinction that yes, this was an Australian citizen, but that is not to say that we do not have ideology in New Zealand that would be an affront to the majority of New Zealanders, that would be utterly rejected by the majority, the vast majority of New Zealanders. But we still have a responsibility to weed it out where it exists and make sure that we never create an environment where it can flourish. But I would make that a global call.”

[…] The most effective way to fight violence is to make the violence less efficient. Less than a week after the attacks, Ardern’s government announced a ban on military-style weapons. Even before the terms of the ban were worked out, Ardern encouraged people to begin surrendering weapons to the police, and at least several dozen people did. The gun ban thus became, at least to a degree, a matter of political agreement, rather than an emergency measure or a restriction imposed by the government.

This is what political leaders do in the face of a senseless tragedy: they grieve with their people, they think with their people, and they act together with their people. None of those tasks requires a declaration of war.”

xxx


The day White House spread doctored video

Friday, 9 November, 2018

Nov 16, 2018 update: CNN (with video) “Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta’s press pass

====

The doctored video @WhiteHouse tweeted out by @PressSec. For the record.

RT //Even by the standards of their serial-lying selves, this is bad stuff.// via @ddale8

//PEN America is suing President Trump for banning certain journalists from covering the White House and threatening to revoke credentials; now he has gone a step further by revoking the press pass of @CNN’s @Acosta, in a clear attack on the First Amendment.// BBC News, “White House suspends credentials for CNN’s Jim Acosta

Very sad day!


Higher Loyalty – James Comey

Friday, 20 April, 2018

Bought James Comey‘s “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership” the day it came out as a Kindle ebook and I’ve enjoyed reading it so far. And I got a chance to start reading the “James Comey’s memos” (PDF file) (via CNN).

Watched a whole bunch of Comey TV interviews and enjoyed all of them. Here are some samples.

And this BBC 22 minutes interview “James Comey on Donald Trump and the FBI

26 Apr, 2018 update: James Comey gets real in CNN town hall

xxx


Hillary Clinton at Code 2017

Thursday, 1 June, 2017

I think it is important to learn from mistakes. So I’m glad that Hillary Clinton hasn’t “moved on” and is giving people chances to learn from her mistakes because the stakes are high. I’ve been watching her appearance on Recode which the opinion piece based on and I don’t feel she acted like a sore loser.

Full transcript: Hillary Clinton at Code 2017

(full video) The former U.S. Secretary of State talks with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg about the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump and Russia, Russia, Russia.


Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Speaks at Harvard Law School

Thursday, 25 May, 2017

WaPo, “Sally Yates tells Harvard Law grads why she defied President Trump

Harvard Magazine, “COMMENCEMENT What’s Worth Fighting For: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Speaks at Harvard Law School

Harvard Gazette, “‘When the law and conscience intersected’ At Law School, Sally Yates explains why she refused to enforce travel ban, even if it cost her job

Sally Yates speaks at Harvard Law School’s 2017 Class Day Ceremony

P.S. The following are some of my favourite moments (with linked time codes) that I want to remember. Thanks Ms. Sally Yates for a great speech and her service to her country!

7:00 “We are all better than our worst moment but sometimes we are not quite as good as we think we are either.”
11:44 “You never know when a situation will present itself when you’re going to have to decide who you are and what you stand for. The defining moments in our lives often don’t come with advanced warning.”
19:04 “The safest course is not always the best course. Be bold.”
21:52 “And it is seems it is the times in my life that I haven’t acted thats when I’ve regretted the most. Being willing to be wrong also requires that you willing to own it. We’re all wrong at times. Its going to happen to all of you as well. And there is nothing worse than the person who never wants his/her fingerprints on anything controversial. And who try to slip out a responsibility when things hit the fan.”
22:43 “Being bold, taking a risk isn’t easy to do. And the instinct for self-preservation may continually draw you to the safe risk-free course. But I urge you to resist that instinct. Not only its a life of hedging your bets, unsatisfying. But it means you are unlikely to make much of a difference. You can either glide across the world or impact it. Its your choice.”

P.P.S. I highly recommend this May 29 New Yorker profile of Ms. Yates.


Fox News defends CNN against Trump – Press should adapt NATO Article 5 Collective Defence

Thursday, 12 January, 2017

It is surprising to see Fox News defending CNN against Trump (with video). I think the Press should adopt a principle similar to NATO Article 5 Collective Defence. Attack One = Attack All!

Let me quote the following from NATO Article 5 Collective Defence,

Highlights

  • Collective defence means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.
  • The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
  • NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
  • NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, for instance in response to the situation in Syria and in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
  • NATO has standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence efforts on a permanent basis.

Of course, we are not talking about real war here but it won’t be too surprising that sooner or later, all fact-checking press can and may be seen as “fake news” by Trump except his own Twitter AC and his propaganda machines.

Jan 13, 2017 update:

(Highly recommended) CBC Radio, The Current, Friday January 13, 2017 “Donald Trump news conference ‘clear attack on the free press’” (note: 13:45 mark for Canadian PM Harper experience)

CJR, Jan 11, 2017, “Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity” (source: FB)


Fact Check re Syrian children

Friday, 23 December, 2016

20161223-fact-check-re-syrian-children

(This is a post I shared on Facebook.)

My dear FB Friends, I had enough today. I refuse to stay silent seeing suffering children in Syrian or anywhere around the world being further insulted. I’m absolutely #BeggingYouToFactCheck your posts before you share anything (claims of photos of suffering Syrian children are fakes, radiation in our food in Canada or US, etc). Stop sharing things so quickly from a random “non-trusted” site. (It is hard to define “trust” but will you take a C$100 bet reports from this site will NOT be confirmable lies or fakes later?)

My last straw was seeing a long time friend sharing a post that claims photos of suffering children of Syria are fakes! Accusing they were photos of the same child in three photos.

I LOVE children as they are our future. Defenceless & suffering little children in Syrian or anywhere around the world don’t need some baseless accusations!

Against my own earlier post in stating I won’t spend my time to fact check my friends anymore. They are adults and should really do their own damn fact check! I decided to do one *last* simple #FactCheck. How long did this simple check take me to confirm my friend was dead wrong? Well, precisely less than 60 seconds! Typing a few words into Facebook search of all places! (Some checks take longer but this one is less than 60 seconds) I was able to confirm my friend’s shared accusation was untrue thus sickening.

I don’t have infinite time to fact check my friends’ posts but when I see things that are fishy, for those friends that I care enough, I may leave a tag comment #BeggingYouToFactCheck

I know I may risk pissing some friends off as some friends had told me they enjoy sharing stuff, including unproven medical claims with neither proper nor reputable sources or references.

Sorry my Facebook friends in advance. If you need to unfriend me after seeing one of my #BeggingYouToFactCheck tags, I don’t mean to insult you in anyway. But in our post-truth world, we are in danger of being drowned with fake news and lies that were reshared endlessly in social media like Facebook.

P.S. A few words about references and good sources, when you want to make an astonishing or extreme accusation, please make sure you have sourced the share from creditable media or double or triple sources things and not simply from a single FB page or .com sources that are align to your own political views.

Repeating what I wrote above: It is hard to define “trust” but will you take a C$100 bet reports from this site will NOT be confirmable lies or fakes later?


Omran is alive. His older brother, 10-year-old Ali, is dead.

Sunday, 21 August, 2016

#ArcOfTheMoralUniverse Unfortunately, “on Saturday the story took an even more tragic turn when Omran’s older brother, 10-year-old Ali Daqneesh, died from the injuries he sustained in the blast that destroyed their family’s home on Wednesday.

We in the international community (Canada, US, UK, and others) failed the many Alis, Omrans, and Syrians in this war. They died and suffered under our watch. We, the member states of United Nations, love to *talk* Responsibility to Protect (RTP) doctrine but usually end with massive “Failure to Protect” unless our national interests (oil, other resources, our own securities) are at stake. Have we not learned enough from the tragedies in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s? I hope/wish and agree that “Omran’s picture must be a turning point in Syria’s war“. And I will add my voice to urge our Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan to try to do what is right, on our behalf.

At the end of the day, there is no escape that Ali and many other Syrians had died in this war, and Omrans and many other Syrians suffered under our watch and we failed them. Whether we keep on failing our Syrian brothers and sisters, letting them die, allowing the refugee crisis to get even worse, or we say enough is enough and actually commit to stop this massive human atrocity, it is up to us “word citizens” to tell our governments what need to be done.

The arc of the moral universe may be long, but it decidedly and increasingly does not always bend toward justice. Why does that matter? Because it means that too many children will never get to grow up, period. Let alone grow up in a morale universe that bends towards justice.” – The Honourable Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella (1946 – ), Closing Remarks at Nuremberg Symposium – May 4, 2016

Ref1: “Brother of Boy Who Became Face of Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis Dies

Ref2: “Omran’s picture must be a turning point in Syria’s war

A week later another colleague from M10 hospital rang me and told me he had treated Omran, the young boy whose picture had gone viral on social media. To be honest, I had not seen the picture. He simply wanted to tell me that the boy had survived and he had treated his deep scalp wound and he was going to be discharged home.

I asked him whether he wanted to go on television and contacted the BBC and Channel 4. He was willing to do this but not to show his face, as he would surely have been targeted by the regime. To see him talking on my television brought a lump to my throat. He is the kindest and nicest human being I’ve ever worked with. He has been there from the start of the war and his only words on the television were: “Please help us.” […]

The picture of this little boy must be a turning point in this war. It must not be looked at and forgotten within 24 hours. I have pictures on my phone and in my computer of all the cases that I dealt with when I was in Aleppo. These images are far worse than the image of Omran. They are of dead and dying children. I have given lectures showing these pictures and have had people in the audience crying. Why has the world become heartless?

When President Obama talked about crossing the red line after 400 children were killed by chemical weapons outside Damascus in 2013, he was awaiting the outcome of a vote on action in the British parliament. In the end it was close, with 285-272 voting against military action against the Syrian regime. If the west had shown strong leadership, I have no doubt that the Syrian military hierarchy would have collapsed. George Osborne said prophetically: “I hope this doesn’t become a moment when we turn our back on all the world’s problems.” It’s not often that a politician gets it right, but he did then.

I packed my gas mask and spent six weeks in Aleppo just after that statement in 2013.

[HT Zohreen]

Story of Syrian boy moves CNN anchor to tears


Paris Calgary friends Google Hangout the day after Paris Attacks

Monday, 16 November, 2015
Peace for Paris posted by jean jullien - 20151113

Peace for Paris posted by jean jullien – 20151113

Heart Broken in Paris

My heart broke Friday (Nov 13th, 2015) as I saw the tragedies of Paris attacks unfolded in live (minute by minute) news reports via Guardian. Since then, I’ve been reading/watching news/analysis (ref 1ref 1bref 2ref 4ref 8ref 9), a simple symbol of peace, and also realized other cities had being attacked in recent days (ref 3ref 3b).

On Saturday morning out of the blue, Paris called! More precisely, my super cool Paris friend Laurent (now cool *and* magical, more on this later) pinged me online and we ended up having a wonderful Google Hangout and video chatted for a few lovely minutes. He in Paris, France. Me in Calgary, Canada. The day after horror in Paris.

Paris Calgary Friendship in the age of Google Hangout

To set things up a little. How did a guy from Paris, France and someone from Calgary, Canada become friends? Well, Laurent and I first met in 2011 and then we became good friends over the years thanks to the magic of Google Hangout. (Laurent: fourth icon at the bottom counting from the right in this 2011 screen capture, me: the 6th icon counting from the right).

Over the years, Laurent and I love to talk about good food (Ferran Adrià, elBulli, street food), fashion, and even Christian Louboutin shoes (the designer is his family friend and has promised introduction one day)! So on Saturday morning, in the dark hours of Paris, less than 24 hours after the Paris Attacks, we defiantly talked about food. Yes, we “defiantly” talked about food, good Paris food! Our little #beepyou to the terrorist gunmen. Lives are short and we were determined to live our lives to the fullest without being changed by those #beepers. (note: I am not naive, it is a given that world governments need to come up with effective strategies and appropriate actions needed to be taken carefully in the coming days, weeks, and months without being reactive and doing exactly the things the terrorists expect us to do in fear. Those discussions are for another day.)

Tres Tres Bon on Paris Premiere

But on this Saturday morning, we talked our shared love of Paris food, defiantly! Laurent told me about the Tres Tres Bon” TV show on the “Paris Premiere” TV channel is a French food site (with video), where I can find many less touristy places to hunt for good food in Paris when I visit. (And we talked more than just food since then, see bottom note with links.)

Paris Premiere - French food site

Paris Premiere – French food site

After browsing around Tres Tres Bon, I found a fascinating video about yam’Tcha that put a smile on this native Cantonese speaker’s face immediately as I saw the Chinese connection/inspiration (you see yam’Tcha sounds like Cantonese words for going for Chinese Dim Sum)! Of course, I expected and confirmed from the video that yam’Tcha‘s food come with some French creative twist!

yam'Tcha - screen capture via Paris Premiere

yam’Tcha – screen capture via Paris Premiere

Mending Broken Hearts metaphorically and literally

Yes, my heart is still broken as I watched families of a victim spoke (ref 5 – video)? And I know my heart will keep on breaking as more stories of lives cut short started to be reported in the coming days and weeks. But try we must, to live our lives to the fullest, without fear, and with kindness that we had before this tragedy. If we allow the terrorists to rob our kindness towards Syrian refugees and others refugees in need from around the world, or take away our respect and love of our fellow peaceful Muslim Canadians (or citizens of your countries), then the terrorists would have truly won in creating a hate filled world where we are all closed off, with locked up borders, spying on each others with total mistrust, and unfounded fear of each others. Is this the kind of world we want to leave to our future generations?

Finally, my talk of mending broken hearts is both metaphorical and literal. My friend Laurent actually had a major heart incident in June 2014 and had to be implanted with a total artificial heart (TAH info from US nih.gov) 17 months ago. So Laurent is literally being kept alive by the magic of a cutting-edge TAH as he awaits a new heart. I am not a medical doctor/researcher but here is a medical and technical post about his TAH that we hope may help other people who are waiting for heart transplant.

One of the machines that keeps my friend Laurent alive in Paris. The other machine is a total artificial heart (TAH) implanted inside him. Photo credit: Laurent

Let me quote a Facebook friend’s status from this morning as she concluded with “Paris is alive and well, despite everything.

Walking around Paris is very, very therapeutic for me today and I wish you could be here to experience it as well. It would make you feel better. Kids are playing. The sun is shining. Cafes are full of people having coffee. There’s a million Chinese tourists with selfie sticks. Yes, when you catch the eye of someone, there’s a silent and solemn communication. But being here is SO SO SO much better than what you are seeing on the news. Paris is alive and well, despite everything.

Our broken hearts may seem impossible to heal but Read the rest of this entry »


Argo, Oscars, Grateful President Jimmy Carter, Ben “WTF” Affleck

Sunday, 24 February, 2013

Oct 15, 2015 update: It is with deep sadness that I report the passing of Ambassador Ken Taylor at 81. CTV News report with video. Global News report (with video).

=====

President Jimmy Carter vs. Ben

90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA. And with that exception, the movie is very good.” — Former President Jimmy Carter on Ben Affleck’s movie ‘Argo’ to CNN’s Piers Morgan.

There’s nothing much right from Day 1 I could do about the movie [Argo]. I changed a line at the end because the caption at the end was disgraceful. It’s like Tiananmen Square, you are sitting in front of a big tank.” – Ken Taylor

Many people (including me) are predicting Argo will likely win Best Picture in The Oscars tonight. So no time is better than now to set the record straight and urge Mr. Ben Affleck, director/actor of Argo to thank Canada and Canadians in his Oscars acceptance speech. If I may be frank and honest, Mr. Ben “WTF” Affleck, enough is enough. Your drama license to twist history to enhance your story telling makes this and other Canadians angry. What will Americans feel if filmmakers from UK or France rewrite history in a “based on real events” movie and minimize the US effort in World War II? Ben, Man up and thank Canada and Canadians in your Oscars speech tonight. If not, I’ve decided to change your name to Ben “WTF” Affleck!

President Jimmy Carter on Argo in Speech at Queen’s University Nov 2012

AP, “Canada deserves Argo Oscar mention, ex-ambassador says ‘The Canadians were brave’, says ex-ambassador Ken Taylor

AP, EX-CANADA AMBASSADOR SLIGHTED BY AFFLECK’S “ARGO”

The original postscript of the movie said that Taylor received 112 citations and awards for his work in freeing the hostages and suggested Taylor didn’t deserve them because the movie ends with the CIA deciding to let Canada have the credit for helping the Americans escape.

Taylor called the postscript lines “disgraceful and insulting” and said it would have caused outrage in Canada if the lines were not changed. Affleck flew Taylor to Los Angeles after the Toronto debut and allowed him to insert a postscript that gave Canada some credit.

Taylor called it a good movie and said he’s not rooting against it, but said it is far from accurate.

“He’s a good director. It’s got momentum. There’s nothing much right from Day 1 I could do about the movie. I changed a line at the end because the caption at the end was disgraceful. It’s like Tiananmen Square, you are sitting in front of a big tank,” he said.

THR, “Ex-Ambassador Again Slams ‘Argo’ for Canada Snub

The full convocation video with President Carter. (portion related to Argo, ~25:55 – 28:15) Queen’s University press release.

An excerpt from the transcript of President Carter on CNN Piers Morgan with my extensive notes,

“MORGAN: A scene from the Oscar-nominated film, Argo, about a daring rescue during the Iranian hostage crisis. I’m back now with former President Jimmy Carter, who was, of course, in the White House at the time. You’ve seen Argo, I take it? How accurate is it from your memory?

CARTER: Well, let me say first of all, it’s a great drama. And I hope it gets the Academy Award for best film because I think it deserves it. The other thing that I would say was that 90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA.

And with that exception, the movie is very good.

But Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only — he was only in — stayed in Iran a day and a half. And the main hero, in my opinion, was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.

I was informed about it the first day. And I was very much involved with the Canadian government because the Canadian government would not legally permit six false passports to be issued. So the Canadian parliament had to go into secret session the first time in history, and they voted to let us use six Canadian passports that were false. [Kempton’s note: Lets be clear, I doubt the Americans will issue false US passports to Canadians if our roles were switched. Agree? To me, I am so proud of my government, and the cabinet (?, not the parliament?) in approving the false passports to help our friends in urgent need.]

MORGAN: But when you first heard about this outlandish plan to create a fictitious science fiction movie to get these hostages out, you’re the president of the United States. I mean, if this had gone badly wrong, you would have been an absolute laughing stock. So it’s a bold moment for you, for the presidency, for the country.

CARTER: Well, I don’t deny that, but it was much bolder for the Canadian government to do it because the Canadian government was not involved in the hostage crisis, as you know. They could have been hostages themselves had it been revealed. [Kempton’s note: This is absolutely the case! Remember, other countries (I will not shame them here) were asked to help the trapped Americans and they refused. Canada helped. And by helping, “Argo” is how Mr. Ben “WTF” Affleck decided to thank us?! WTF Ben!]

But as I said, you know, they did the primary work. And as a matter of fact, the American hostages left Iran and landed in Switzerland and landed before the Iranians ever discovered that they had been there.

When I left office, I ordained that we would not reveal any American’s involvement in the process, but to give the Canadians full credit for the entire heroic episode. And that prevailed for a number of years afterwards. [Kempton’s note: This is a right tactical move by President Carter. Totally different from what the movie implied.]

But I think it’s a great film, and it tells a dramatic story. And I think it’s accurate enough. [Kempton’s note: President Carter is nice. I am frank with Ben and is hoping I won’t have to call him Ben “WTF” Affleck after tonight. Will see.]

This article is cross posted in examiner.com by me.


War is the the kind of thing …

Saturday, 17 November, 2012

On a perilous day like today, I am adding the following to Quotes I Love,

War is the the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end” – Meir Dagan (see “Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon Google+ Hangout at Fox LA“)


Gaza crisis vs. Blood Relations – The Israeli Palestinian blood donation project

Saturday, 17 November, 2012

On a day like today with headlines like Gaza crisis: Israel air strikes hit Hamas HQ when peace seems impossible, it got me to revisit the United Nations award-winning project Blood Relations – The Israeli Palestinian blood donation project.

The following video gives me some hope. This post gives some background on the project.

A longer, very moving 8 minutes version.


LIVE From Swing State Nevada: DeAno & Kempton talk 2012 Election (in Cantonese & English)

Tuesday, 6 November, 2012

Nov 7th, 2012 Update: After the announced election result from last night, I got my swing state Nevada (Reno) friend DeAno Jackson to talk election result with me.

LIVE From Swing State Nevada: DeAno & Kempton talk 2012 Election (Recorded earlier this morning!)

搖擺州Nevada直播: DeAno & Kempton 廣東話+英文講美國大選2012戰情 (今晨直播後錄影)


Ben Affleck changed film Argo after meeting former Canadian ambassador to Iran

Sunday, 14 October, 2012

Update: Just found this video of Ben Affleck introducing “Argo” at private Washington D.C. screening with some of the former hostages and even the current CIA Director General Petraeus present plus an acknowledgement to Ambassador Taylor and his wife Pat.

As part of my research for this report, I found & watched this amazing & insightful 1980 PBS documentary (~54 mins long), “Canadian Caper: 6 Americans escape from Iran with the help from the CIA and the Canadian“. You can hear directly from the mouths of the six escaped American hostages, Ambassador Taylor, and other Canadian embassy staffs. Click here to jump directly to where the doc starts to talk about the Canadians’ involvement. Canadians should be really proud of what we did to help our American friends in need.

***

Making a Hollywood film is a massive and expensive undertaking so it comes as a surprise that star & director Ben Affleck has agreed to change his latest Oscar buzz-worthy film Argo (opened Friday), a film “based on Tony Mendez‘s account of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats—with help from Canada—from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis“. After meeting Calgary-born Kenneth D. Taylor, former Canadian ambassador to Iran from 1977 to 1979, Affleck has decided to have Taylor rewrite the postscript of the film “reportedly at considerable cost to the studio“.

Calgary Herald reports, (emphasis and commentaries added)

Unfortunately, as is often the case with Hollywood, Argo trumpets America’s involvement in the caper at the expense of other players, specifically the Canadian Embassy. But, as is perhaps less often the case with Hollywood, when Affleck learned the film may have given Canada, and Taylor in particular, short shrift, he invited the former ambassador and his wife to L.A. to watch the film and eventually make changes to the postscript.

I don’t focus my views on my own involvement,” says Taylor, in an phone interview from his home in New York City. “The entire Canadian Embassy was at play. I don’t think it gives credit to Canada. And I made that pretty clear, I think.

Of course, by the time Taylor and his wife Pat watched Argo in L.A. last month, the actual film couldn’t be changed.So Affleck suggested Taylor rewrite the postscript, reportedly at considerable cost to the studio.

[Kempton’s note: Once Affleck realized the mistake, it was an honourable thing for him to do to try to right a wrong. It is important to note that the postscript is rewritten by Taylor. See next paragraph for how diplomatically he put things. Here is a link to an authoritative account in President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Remarks when he presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Taylor.]

Taylor rewrote the postscript to emphasize collaboration. According to the Toronto Star it now reads: “The involvement of the CIA complemented efforts of the Canadian Embassy to free the six held in Tehran. To this day the story stands as an enduring model of international co-operation between governments.

[Kempton’s note: What a classy way to put things. Ambassador Taylor really make us Canadians proud in his measured words. Wow, “enduring model of international co-operation between governments.” Nothing fancy about the risks he and his wife took, it is the Canadian Embassy.]

[…] Earlier this week, Taylor went to Washington for the movie’s premiere, which was also to include a private screening and reception at the Canadian Embassy. According to media reports, Affleck praised him on the red carpet before the screening, suggesting he was “a very clear hero.”

Toronto Star reports and indirectly laying the blame of the film’s inaccuracy on the screenwriter and director,

If anyone had bothered to ask Antonio “Tony” Mendez, the real-life CIA agent portrayed by Ben Affleck in the new thriller Argo, about Canada’s contribution to the rescue of six American diplomats from Iran in 1980, there would never have been any trouble.

“Canada was still the real hero in the whole thing,” said Mendez over lunch back in September, before Argo had ever screened to the public. He gives particular credit to former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor. “Ken took a huge risk and he handled it wonderfully. He got the blame and he got the glory.”

[…] “When the six were seeking asylum, they were turned away from so many places, but when they came to the Canadians, (immigration officer) John Sheardon just said, ‘What took you so long?’ and welcome them in. He didn’t even have to ask Ken. He knew he’d be on side.”

In an earlier post-TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) September report in Toronto Star,

The old postscript sent the message that, for political reasons, Canada took the credit. A sarcastic kicker noted that Taylor received 112 citations. The clear implication was that he did not deserve them.

When Affleck phoned Taylor, he said, “Frankly, if this bothers you, then I’ll change it.”

[…] “I expressed my concern with certain details in the movie,” Taylor told me just before leaving his hotel to catch a flight back to New York. “In reality, Canada was responsible for the six and the CIA was a junior partner. But I realize this is a movie and you have to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Ben was very gracious and we got along really well. There are a few points I want to address. Now Ben and I both feel free to talk about them.”

So well, in fact, that Taylor and his wife taped a commentary for the extra features on the DVD version of Argo, which will not be released until 2013. [Kempton’s note: This will be really cool!]

According to Taylor, several details of the plot are pure fiction. There was never any crisis about getting the plane tickets for the six, as in the climatic scenes of Argo, because he bought three sets of plane tickets, paid for by Pat Taylor. Nor did Taylor ever threaten to close down the Canadian embassy, leaving his secret U.S. house guests with nowhere to hide. Nor did the six ever go to a bazaar.“I would never have allowed that,” says Taylor.

And oh, by the way, while in Tehran, Mendez was taken care of by the Canadian embassy.“What matters to me is the essence and importance of diplomacy,” Taylor sums up. “It matters more now than ever before. It’s a risky business but vitally important.

“You can’t just close the office,” he adds, in an apparent swipe at Ottawa’s recent decision to close the Canadian embassy in Iran.

[Kempton’s note: This means a lot coming from Ambassador Taylor given his experiences in a previous dangerous time. It confirms my thinking it was wrong for the Harper government to shutdown the Canadian embassy in Iran, in fact co-incidentally on the same day Argo opened at TIFF!]For Ben Affleck, what counts is this: “It’s important to tell stories about how two countries worked together.”

Fade out on Hollywood’s real-life bromance.

From a Toronto Star movie review,

But then “69 Days Later” appears on the screen, and the Hollywood play time Taylor speaks of really kicks in. From this point on, as a bearded and bossy Affleck takes charge — under the indulgent command of his CIA superior, well played by Bryan Cranston — Argo becomes almost total fiction.

The third act is chock full of thriller clichés, including suspicious passport control officers, miracle computer file transfers (and this is 1980!) and airport tarmac chases. They all do what they’re supposed to do, just like a Big Mac sliding down your throat.

Worth reading research materials:

Toronto Star, Oct 7, 2012, “‘Argo’: Former ambassador Ken Taylor sets the record straight

Toronto Star, Sept 12, 2012, “TIFF 2012: How Canadian hero Ken Taylor was snubbed by Argo” (although not used/referenced in this report, this article is worth reading)

Toronto Star, Sept 12, 2012, “Ben Affleck changes Argo postscript for Ken Taylor” (although not used/referenced in this report, this article is worth reading)

Concordia University, Sep 2011, “Former Canadian ambassador Kenneth D. Taylor delivers Henri Habib Distinguished Lecture.

Check out these books

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History” is a Sept 2012 book by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Our Men In Tehran” is a 2010 book by Robert Wright. Check out the book description for more info and the reviews for more info. Toronto Star reports, “But Our Man in Tehran, a 2010 book by Trent University professor Robert Wright, revealed that Taylor played a bigger role than was known at the time. The book claimed (and Taylor confirmed) that he was spying for the U.S. throughout the hostage crisis, at the request of Jimmy Carter (then U.S. president) and with the approval of Joe Clark (then Canadian prime minister).

NOTE: This article is cross posted by me at examiner.com


Commencement Address by Jon Stewart (with a new quote I love)

Wednesday, 20 June, 2012

If you haven’t seen this speech yet, check it out, worth your 15 minutes. Here is a quote,

If there is any real advice I can give you, it is this. College is something you complete. Life is something you experience. So don’t worry about your grade. Or the results. Or success. Success is defined in myriad ways. And you will find it. And people will no longer be grading you but it will come from your own internal sense of decency.

Jon Stewart 2004 Commencement Address at The College of William & Mary


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