There is a 3-way race , with the PQ. slightly ahead but losing support; the Liberals trying to shore up its traditional base, which was threatening to desert it and the CAQ gradually gaining, as more and more voters are turning to it, as they reject mistake- prone leader of the PQ but are tired of the Liberals.
Marois and the PQ entered the election with a clear majority of support and have watched it fizzeled as the campaign unfolded. Statements about holding a referendum; failure to outline a clear plan to get out of this economic mess; poor performance at the four leaders debate, where she was clearly outclassed by Francoise David of QS; contradictions one day and corrections the next, the latest being that conservative sovereignists have two parties to decide on, the Liberals and CAQ , and her politics of divisiveness and exclusion. The camera hates her and she is all "cheeks and jowls and squinty, rather Nixon-like". The CAQ is drawing the soft nationalist votes, the QS and Option Nationale (to which Parizeau donated $200.00) are chipping away at the nationalist and left-wing votes and she is left scrambling to solidify her base, forcing her to make more and more statemnets of referendum. A losing hand.
The Liberals are stale after 9 years in power and they have been tainted with scandal and corruption (sort of like the Bourassa 1970-76 and the construction industry/ Olympics , which forced Claude Ryan to write an editorial in Le Devoir asking voters to support the PQ and they did). The entire campaign has been one of trying to limit the loss. Their "lobster-in a trap" Anglo votes were threatening to leave in a bucketful and the allophones were skitterish too. Charest was always on the defensive and he, also had to ward off the challenging CAQ which with its non-threatening bilingual leader Legault and its politics of inclusion and his promise to vote "no" in any referendum held in the next 10 years, was closing quickly, taking votes away from the PQ as well as the LIberals. That trend has continued, as in his most recent statement that the debate "on bill 101 was 't easy, but it was a necessary law and we've reached a consensus, a balance, that has to be protected". This is music to all those voters tired of talks of referendum and who want an alternative, one that has a plan to deal with the economy. This is a winning formula and now Legault is going to the seat-rich Quebec City region where he is trying to win 12 of those 18 seats.
The two left-wing sovereignists parties have made an impression, especially Francoise David who may win her seat of Gouin, while both are expected to take votes away from the PQ. This is crucial, because many races will be close and a few votes here and there may well be the difference. Turnout is always important.
Charest needs to hold the non-francophone votes; Marois has to limit the draining of nationalist/ sovereignists and Legault need one more calming week, without mistakes.
He came by it naturally, a consequence of his birth, his up-bringing, his youthful experiences in Hawaii, Indonesia, Chicago and New York and his quest for identity and survival. The journey continues, but in the meanwhile he has an election to win and a country to govern.
The greatest influences on his life have been his peritatetic mother, wandering from Kansas to Hawaii to Indonesia, also trying to find herself; a missing father, whom he wonders about and later sought out and wrote about in his Dreams From My Father; the experiences working as a social facilatator in Chicago, helping the less fortunate, and as a student in New York, who found love with a white Australian ( love that he could not fully commit himself to "distance, distance. distance, and wariness", she wrote in her diary ) and friendship and the closest thing to siblings with a group of well-to do Pakistani students at Columbia. All the while clutching Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, reading and rereading it, finding himself in it. But he was not" invisible", not with the children he grew up with in the streets of Jakarta or those he went to high school with, playing basketball in Hawaii as Barry, or the needy whom he helped navigate the bureaucratic red tape in Chicago or his friends in New York/ Columbia discussing politics or at Harvard where he was the president of the Harvard Review or at University of Chicago where he taught constitutional law.
His identity remained elusive, at least to him. He was neither white nor black, the child of a white teenage, Christian Kansan and a black muslim Kenyan father, who named him Barack Hussein but he preferred to call himself (at least in his teeage years) Barry. He lived with a white Australian (1984-1985), but married a "no doubt it" black Chicagoan. His early years was spent in Hawaii and Indonseia but later found some permanrncy living with his white grand-parents (he had no relatives from his Kenyan father around).
All along he had to adapt and he did so quite well. He was accepted for who he was, but he was uncertain about himself. Thus his fixation with the Invisible Man.
He has always made compromises. It became second nature to him and his life will be one compromise after another. He became a facilitator in Chicago and has continued to be so. It is there in his presidency. Whether it was health care, Bush tax cuts, withdrawal from Iraq or draw down from Afghanistan, the killing of bin Ladin and other "terrorists", whether they be Americans or foreigners., the bail out, immigration reform, extending unemployment insurance etc. it has been one compromise after another. He has been the most non-partisan of president, but it has become an albatross around his positions. Why? The Republicans found out about his penchant for compromises and they found out about his willingness to facilitate and they saw it as a weakness which they could exploit and exploit it they did to the detriment of the country.
The Republicans turned a strength into a weakness and ran with it, refusing to budge or offering very rigid positions on any and all issues, waiting for Obama to compromise and demanding more when he did, so much so that his positions became so watered down that they were useless. Sometimes, as in the case of health care, he aws able to save something, but not much.
Compromise is the art of politics. Compromise is the means through democracy functions. It is democracy, but it takes
"two to tango", and the Republicans refuse to dance. They have made compromise a liability, denying Obama the abilty to get things done. They hope to capitalise on this in the upcoming election and they have a lot of money to sell themselves, forcing Obama to plyt defence. This is a lobster trap which he must avoid if he is to win a second term. October Surpruise??
The ongoing bloody internal war in Syria, threatens to destabilize the entire region from Turkey to Saudi Arabia. This is a war of religion, territory, interests and ultimately change.
The Shia in the region is concentrated in Iraq and Iran , where they hold power. In Syria , a Shia off-shoot the Alewites hold on to power, but in Bahrain and Yemen, Oman, where they are a majority, they are ruled by a Sunni minority and there have been ongoing outbreaks of violence. In Saudi Arabia, the extreme Sunna group, the Wahabis rule. The likelihood of a sectarian war in the region is real as especially, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain are supporting and arming the Free Syrian Army in their fight against the Assad regime. This is also in the interest of USA and Israel (wanting to weaken Iran particularly). Iran is supporting Assad and so is the Shia -led government in Iraq. In Lebanon, Hizballah, a surrogate of Iran is poised to enter the fray. As this bloody conflict rages on, it is highly likely that all these countries will be drawn in even more. It will also attract diverse other groups taking sides.
30 million Kurds live in the Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. In Iraq, they have managed to get control of their region in the north. However in Turkey, the situation is quite different. The Kurds have been waging a war for independence and this situation plays into their hands. The Turkish/Syrian border is breached by the outflow of refugees from Syria and the Kurds are exploiting the situation upping their attacks on the Turks. Before the violence in Syria, there was a real move towards compromise. The Turks have allowed the teaching of the Kurd language for instance and talks was taking place in other areas. Now that has ended and the war is in the air. This is a war for territorial recognition/ integrity. The Syrian army has withdrawn from their area. leaving them in charge, and they have established control, with check-ponts and their flag flying. This is a message to the Turks who are most concerned. "All we want is our rights, nothing more" says Siro Issa, a 24 yrs. old Kurd. " A separate state is every Kurdish person's dream"
The interests of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the USA coincide, especially as it applies to Iran. They each want to curb Iranian influence in the region (it has been growing since the Americans left Iraq and the Shia-led govt. has moved to closer relations with Iran), and to stop the Iranian nuclear programme. So far Iran with the help of Russia and China (they have their own interests. Russia need for a warm water port and to re-establish its influence in the region and China want access to Iranian oil and gas and to establish its influence), have managed to stop the UN Security Council being used to further the interests of US and the West, the Saudis and the Israelis. Here there is a stalemate. Israel has however been sounding the clarion call for an attack on Iran. This will unleash a regional war , pulling in more and more countries.
Change is inevitable. It can be peaceful as in Egypt and Tunisia or bloody as in Libya and Syria and Yemen.In Egypt, Tunisia the broad movement/ protest against the regimes, got the needed support from the USA and the West, who were able to convince the military to stand down. Not so in Libya and now Syria. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Allies are close and integral allies of the US, so do not expect any great pressure to be put on them (Saudi Arabia sent one female "athlete" to the recently concluded Olympic Games and that was enough). In Yemen , al Qaeda is the enemy being confronted and this may well be case in other places, if this "syrian" war continues.
His three- country "jaunt" was meant to show off his foreign competency. It began with his angering the Brits, over comments about Britain's preparedness for the Olympics, hoping to draw attention to his role in the successful Utah Winter Olympics, forcing "fast and furious" criticism from the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London, the media and the British people. Not since WW11, were the Brits so united. His next stop, Israel, was supposed to be easy and ego- satisfying, but here again he got in the way of his message by making statements about Israeli culture being superior to the Palestinians' allowing Israel's economy to thrive and the Palestinians' to suffer. Charges of racism followed and what was supposed to be a "love-in" with PM Netanyahu, speaking to a very receptive audience and raising lots of money, became another "foot -in the mouth" fiasco. He then went to Poland , where he hoped to capitalize on President Osama's not going through with the anti-missile system, (thus, in his words, humiliating the Pole and Czechs). The Poles were gracious but in global poll, in June ,conducted by the Pew Foundation showed that they favour Obama by a 5 to 3 margin, which was even higher among the Czechs, 6 to 1. In the USA, a poll was released by NBC and the Wall Street Journal showing Obama a head by 15% "on handling foreign policy". Romney has been accusing Obama of angering allies and emboldening enemies. This is not true. The Pew Foundation released one of its global polls in June which showed "trust' in Obama is overwhelmingly positive. In Britain it was 80% ( compared to GW Bush's 16% in 2008). Approval ratings are much higher. Allies are not angry. They are relieved that Obama has followed a consistent, multi-lateral policy and has consulted with them unlike the gung ho unilateralism of W ( allowing NATO to take the lead in Libya, for instance). The only ones who are angry at Obama's foreign policy are Russia, China and certain Arab countries, the Arabs, over what is seen as a pro-Israel bias and the use of drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. The world is not more dangerous and America's enemies are weaker. al Qaeda has been decapitated and decimated by the killing of top leaders and the use of the drones. Most Americans recognize this but Romney continue this old Republican line, which has worked in the past. This is mere bluster and a failure on the part of Romney's foreign policy team and more so of Romney, for not recognizing this. Obama is entering this election with a foreign policy advantage. Romney continues to be dogged by flip-flops and now more worryingly, by refusal to disclose his tax returns, something his father started when he ran for the presidency in 1968 (he disclosed 12 years of his tax returns). Is Senate majority leader Harry Reid right, when he said a "very reliable"source, a former Bain Capital investor, told him that Romney had not paid taxes for 10 years? Even top Republicans, most recently Ed Rollins are calling for Romney to "release more taxes. Absolutely" The race is on and with the economy showing signs of continuing improvement, Obama has only to avoid any big blunders/ scandals and he will be re-elected. Of course, if Romney continues to be in the way of his message, continues to offer only bluster and continues to refuse to release his taxes, then it is all over except for the formalities. Usually, October is the key and may still be. Romney has tens of millions $ and many backers who have a vested interest in defeating Obama, so there is still a race.
According to ancient scripts of Vedic civilisation, OM, is "the sound of life"It is the infinite vibration that occurs throughout the Universe, providing life to everything.
" It is the beginning and will continue till the end- --the one constant that unites all creation"
It is described in the UPANISHADS ( Indian Vedic texts) as the complete sound that forms the entire range of sounds the human voice can make. It starts with an "A"at the base of the throat , moves to a "U" with the tongue and palette and ends with a "M" where the lips are closed and no more sound emanates. Try it.
"It is the Divinity; the Purifier; the All-Powerful that awakens in us the deepest reflection of Spirit, of God, of Universal Energy". It is the representation of energy that flows through our breath in waking and sleeping states. It is the essence that unites all of us in our most intuitive level.
" The goal which all Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of continence.....is OM.This syllable OM is indeed Brahman. Whoever knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma (Katha Upanishad 1). It is of paramount importance in Hinduism. It represents Brahma, the Impersonal Absolute of Hinduism, the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Source of all manifest experience
Brahma in itself is incomprehensible, so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realise the unknowable. OM, therefore represents the unmanifest (nirguna) and the manifest (saguna) aspects of God.This is why it is called Pravana, to mean it pervades life and runs through our Prana (breath).
Although it symbolises the most profound concepts of Hindu beliefs, it is in use daily. Hindus begin their day or any work or journey by uttering OM. Many, like me, wear the sign as a pendant. It is enshrined in every Hindu temple or in some form or another on family homes and shrines. A newly born child is ushered into the world with this sign and after birth, the child is ritually cleansed and the sacred syllable OM is written on its tongue with honey. Thus at the time of birth OM is initiated into the life of a Hindu and remains as a symbol forever.
"OM is the one eternal symbol of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exist beyond the three forms of time is also implied" (Mandukya Upanishad)
It is not a word but an intonation, which like music transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters AA, AU and MA, which when combined together, make the sound AUM or OM. It is the basic sound of the world and contains all other sounds. It is Mantra or Prayer. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of ones being (the Atman or soul). By vibrating the sacred syllable OM, if one thinks of the Ultimate Personality of the Godhead and quits the body, one will certainly reach the highest state of "stateless" eternity, says the Bhagavad Gita. It brings the Godhead to the people in a way that all can understand. This is and has been central to Hinduism,,, the connection between the people and their
OM provides a dualistic viewpoint. It projects the mind beyond the immediate to what is abstract and inexpressible and makes the absolute more tangible and comprehensive. It encompasses all potentialities and possibilities. It is everything that was ,is or can yet be.
So, close your eyes, take a deep breath and say OOOOOOM, OOOOOOM, OOOOOOM, feel the energy pulsating, allowing you calmness and serenity.
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(Fig 2a) The Death of Innocents
Ishwar R. Prashad recently retired from over 47 years of teaching.