Helping street kids with a healthy dose of karate

A karate friend of mine from Ottawa is actively involved in a wonderful mission in Senegal to help get kids off the streets and out of poverty. She’s blogging about it, here. I especially love the MLK quote she’s got at the end.

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Mark Steyn understands Magna Carta like no other

But you knew that, didn’t you. He’s got a wonderful post about the significance of the document, here.

The most important anniversary this year is marked on June 15th – the day, eight centuries ago, when a king found himself in a muddy field on the River Thames near Windsor Castle with the great foundational document of modern liberty under his nose and awaiting his seal.

The world has come a long way since then, and not always for the best. A couple of years back, testifying to the House of Commons in Ottawa about Canada’s (now repealed) censorship law, I said the following:

Section 13 is at odds with this country’s entire legal inheritance, stretching back to Magna Carta. Back then, if you recall–in 1215–human rights meant that the King could be restrained by his subjects. Eight hundred years later, Canada’s pseudo-human rights apparatchiks of the commission have entirely inverted that proposition, and human rights now means that the subjects get restrained by the Crown in the cause of so-called collective rights that can be regulated only by the state.

I liked it better the old way. Real rights are like Magna Carta: restraints on state power. Too many people today understand the word “rights” to mean baubles and trinkets a gracious sovereign bestows on his subjects – “free” health care, “free” community college, “safe spaces” from anyone saying anything beastly – all of which require a massive, coercive state regulatory regime to enforce.

But, to give it is full name, Magna Carta Libertatum (my italics – I don’t think they had ‘em back then) gets it the right way round. It was in some respects a happy accident. In 1215, a bunch of chippy barons were getting fed up with King John. In those days, in such circumstances, the malcontents would usually replace the sovereign with a pliable prince who’d be more attentive to their grievances. But, having no such prince to hand, the barons were forced to be more inventive, and so they wound up replacing the King with an idea, and the most important idea of all – that even the King is subject to the law.

In this 800th anniversary year, that’s a lesson worth re-learning. Restraints on state power are increasingly unfashionable among the heirs to Magna Carta: in America, King Barack decides when he wakes up of a morning what clauses of ObamaCare or US immigration law he’s willing to observe or waive according to royal whim; his heir, Queen Hillary, operates on the principle that laws are for the other 300 million Americans, not her. In the birthplace of Magna Carta, a few miles from that meadow at Runnymede, David Cameron’s constabulary leans on newsagents to cough up the names and addresses of troublesome citizens who’ve committed the crime of purchasing Charlie Hebdo.

He also has very kind things to say about our project. Thanks, Mark!

Why I gave up politics

I have this essay in the current edition of C2C magazine. It includes a picture of me at 16 what is very cute.

Mine is a story of reluctant political apathy, of a drift away from commitment. I’m not quite at the point where I don’t know who the premier of my province is. I mean, I know her name. And that she’s a Liberal, used to be in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet, she jogs a lot. I also know who the leader of the opposition is; well, at the moment in Ontario it’s sort of nobody but that’s OK, Tim Hudak was sort of a nobody, too. And there’s my problem: I don’t like the “Ins” one bit, but I have no faith in the “Outs” either. Nobody represents me, and I have better things to do with my time than bang my head against the walls of the legislature.

I will be discussing my personal political journey at the Manning Centre conference this coming weekend. Shall I bring my tomato shield?

 

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Lost in Thought – A very short story

Lost in Thought

By Brigitte Pellerin

She didn’t remember that grove of trees. She’d been there before, she was sure of it. The grove of trees right around the corner from the rocky outcrop that leads to the dried-up river on the way to the cliff. She’d hiked there many times with her daddy. She knew there was supposed to be a big rock there, covered with moss and on the underside of it a whole bunch of porcupine poop.

Except there was no rock, no moss, no porcupine poop.

She cried out, “Dad!?! Daddy!?? Can you hear me???” But all she heard was the sound of the ospreys hunting above her head and the snapping of dry twigs under her boots. Her mom said ospreys were more elegant than turkey vultures, but she didn’t know for sure. She was just 8 years old, and the birds never came close enough for you to have a good look at them.

She turned left, just past the big birch tree. She figured she’d find her way back to the cottage that way. There was a small escarpment that led to the back of the old privy. They used it as a shed now that they had indoor plumbing.

She knew there should be a bay on her right where the underwater electrical cable connected their island to the main grid. She didn’t understand how a cable that ran both under water and underground could give their little place power like in the city, but she just took it on faith that it worked as advertised. Mostly it did, except when there were nasty storms. Then not much worked; no internet, no toilet, no fridge. These were good times to read comic books by flashlight.

The thought of reading quietly by the wood stove had her reassured. She would find her way back, right?. It would be silly to be lost on that island anyway. It had been in their family since she was a toddler and she was very familiar with it. Why, just now she knew she’d be at the bay where the electric cable…

Except she wasn’t. There was water alright, but it wasn’t the bay she expected. Her breath caught in her throat. Oh no! Where was she?!? Her parents would worry so much!

In her panic, she forgot the first rule of survival in the woods, which is to stop moving if you think you’re lost. She started running she knew not where. She was afraid. In her head she could hear her mom’s warnings. How she wished she’d listened more! She ran and ran until the inevitable happened; she tripped on a root and slammed head-first into the ground.

“Honey! Are you OK?” Her mom had heard her cry when she took the laundry out to dry. “What are you doing anyway? Come in, it’ll be time for lunch soon.”

And the little girl picked herself up, feeling very silly for having believed she was lost.

Muslims in Norway protect synagogue

This is a wonderful story:

Muslims join hands to form a human shield as they stand outside a synagogue in Oslo February 21, 2015. REUTERS-Hakon Mosvold Larsen-NTB Scanpix
Muslim women join hands to form a human shield as they stand outside a synagogue in Oslo February 21, 2015. REUTERS-Hakon Mosvold Larsen-NTB Scanpix

1 of 2. Muslims join hands to form a human shield as they stand outside a synagogue in Oslo February 21, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix

(Reuters) – More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”

Norway’s Jewish community is one of Europe’s smallest, numbering around 1000, and the Muslim population, which has been growing steadily through immigration, is 150,000 to 200,000. Norway has a population of about 5.2 million.

The debate over immigration in the country came to the forefront in 2011 when Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people and accused the government and the then-ruling Labour party of facilitating Muslim immigration and adulterating pure Norwegian blood.

Support for immigration has been rising steadily since those attacks, however, and an opinion poll late last year found that 77 percent of people thought immigrants made an important contribution to Norwegian society.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Pravin Char and Stephen Powell)

_________

Update: Turns out the numbers were somewhat (ahem) inflated, but I will still be happy to see even a small, symbolic gesture of goodwill.

There’s a happy reason to call the cops

Look who showed up for this kid’s party:

When none of an autistic boy’s classmates showed up for his sixth birthday party, his community and local sheriff’s office rallied together to make it a birthday he’d never forget.

Ashlee Buratti, of St. Cloud, Florida, had invited her son Glenn’s class of 16 children to his birthday on February 8, and when no one showed up, he was devastated.

Though no one RSVP’d, Buratti and her husband John Buratti were ‘still holding on to the hope that some of them would show up’ to the party for her son, who has epilepsy and a mild form of autism.

‘From the minute he woke up that day he wanted to know how many minutes until his friends came,’ Buratti, 25, said, adding that his eyes filled with tears when he learned no one was coming.

Glenn Buratti, of St. Cloud, Florida, turned six on February 8, and though his mom Ashlee Buratti had invited all 16 of his classmates to a birthday party, not a single person showed up

Glenn Buratti, of St. Cloud, Florida, turned six on February 8, and though his mom Ashlee Buratti had invited all 16 of his classmates to a birthday party, not a single person showed up

After posting her frustration on Facebook, Buratti received messages of support from the community and people - including firemen and policemen - offered to stop by the family's home to make it a birthday Glenn would never forget

After posting her frustration on Facebook, Buratti received messages of support from the community and people – including firemen and policemen – offered to stop by the family’s home to make it a birthday Glenn would never forget

Glenn, who loves public safety and law enforcement, was overjoyed with the party, and his mom said that though he is usually shy, he took to his new friends like he'd known them all his life

Glenn, who loves public safety and law enforcement, was overjoyed with the party, and his mom said that though he is usually shy, he took to his new friends like he’d known them all his life

The mother-of-three posted on a locally run Facebook page with more than 10,000 members titled, Osceola Rants, Raves and Reviews List, to express her frustration, according to the Osceola News-Gazette.

‘I know this might be something silly to rant about, but my heart is breaking for my son. We invited his whole class (16 kids) over for his 6th birthday party today. Not one kid came,’ she posted.

And when other group members saw the post they sent Buratti messages asking if they could bring their own kids to Glenn’s party to celebrate.

The message even reached staff from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, who asked for the family’s address and said a helicopter would fly over their St. Cloud home.

The helicopter came to the house within an hour, and the pilot flew low enough that Glenn could see him waving.

Glenn, who loves public safety and law enforcement, was overjoyed with the party, and his mom said that though he is usually shy, he took to his new friends like he’d known them all his life.

‘In general, deputies have big hearts – they thought about their own kids and wanted to make this boy happy because it was such a sad situation,’ Buratti told Today.

In total, about 15 kids and 25 adults showed up to celebrate and eat cake, give gifts to Glenn and play in a bounce house.

The Osceola County Sheriff's office flew a helicopter over Glenn's house on the day of his party, and the pilot flew low enough to wave at the boy

The Osceola County Sheriff’s office flew a helicopter over Glenn’s house on the day of his party, and the pilot flew low enough to wave at the boy

Staff from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office returned to the house three days after Glenn's party to give him with gifts and tours of vehicles

Staff from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office returned to the house three days after Glenn’s party to give him with gifts and tours of vehicles

Glenn received a bicycle from one woman and toys of all sorts from strangers who came to celebrate his sixth birthday 

Glenn received a bicycle from one woman and toys of all sorts from strangers who came to celebrate his sixth birthday

Glenn, next to his dad, John Buratti, with his siblings and mom, Ashlee Buratti, on a trip to Disneyworld in 2014

Glenn, next to his dad, John Buratti, with his siblings and mom, Ashlee Buratti, on a trip to Disneyworld in 2014

The Buratti family, with Glenn in the center in front of Barney, on a trip to Disneyworld last year. His mother Ashlee Buratti said Glenn's birthday was 'just amazing' and that everyone who came out was 'so awesome'

The Buratti family, with Glenn in the center in front of Barney, on a trip to Disneyworld last year. His mother Ashlee Buratti said Glenn’s birthday was ‘just amazing’ and that everyone who came out was ‘so awesome’

One woman brought the birthday boy a bike, while others brought toys. Buratti said one man came to the party with a camera and took pictures he later gave to the family.

‘It was just amazing. The people who came out were so awesome,’ Buratti told the Osceola News-Gazette.

And Glenn’s birthday celebration didn’t end on Sunday – several crews from the Sheriff’s Office and Osceola County Fire Rescue stopped by the family’s home on Wednesday.

Though Buratti knew the crews were coming, she left it a surprise for her son to see as they were on their way home from school.

‘We got to the stop sign by our house and Glenn was like, “The fire truck’s at our house!” I said, “It’s okay, they’re there to tell you happy birthday,”‘ Buratti told CBS News.

They all wished him a happy birthday, gave him tours of their fire truck, squad cars, motorcycles and a SWAT vehicle and showered him with more gifts.

‘And to think, all this happened because nobody showed up to his birthday,’ Buratti wrote online. ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’