Beijing will use law and public opinion to handle Hong Kong independence issue, not guns, insists prominent lawyer


Beijing will use only law and public opinion but not force to handle the pro-independence drive in Hong Kong, says Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu.

The development came a day after Basic Law Committee vice-chairman Zhang Rongshun was quoted by pro-Beijing barrister Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok as saying that the Chinese government would be able to handle the issue with “guns and cannons” if activists gathered enough strength to make Hong Kong an independent state.

Pan-democrats said Zhang’s reported remarks had swept away the relatively relaxed atmosphere deliberately created by National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang during his visit to the city last week.

In a bid to cool the outcry, Tam, who attended the same closed-door meeting with Zhang Rongshun in Beijing alongside Ma, tried to clarify the legal expert’s stance.

She said Zhang’s remarks were mixed up and emphasised that his conclusion was that only law and public opinion would be used to handle the independence issue.

“He has ruled out using swords, guns and force … so the public do not have to worry about the problem of ‘guns and cannons’,” Tam told RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday.

Tam, a Hong Kong delegate to the national legislature, also said the city should handle the independence issue itself despite its controversial nature. Neither Hongkongers nor Beijing wanted to see the central government take the lead, she said.

Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, also the convenor of 23 pan-democratic lawmakers, demanded a clarification from Ma as two versions of the story had now emerged.

Meanwhile, Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the fledgling Hong Kong National Party, which advocates Hong Kong breaking away from China, remained defiant despite the threat of military action.

“Hong Kong is too important to China. I don’t believe the Chinese would destroy it,” said Chan, adding: “Hong Kong people would not be afraid of fighting to the end if their land is invaded.”

His party launched its debut public campaign on Sunday. The one-day event saw members set up booths in six locations across the territory to distribute leaflets to promote the party, formed in March.

Chan said he was pleased with the public response.

Meanwhile at Sunday’s City Forum, the pro-democracy camp remained split over whether it was appropriate for four pan-democrat lawmakers to meet Zhang Dejiang last Wednesday.

Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the chairman of the newly-formed group Demosisto, said dialogue with Beijing officials should be built on the dignity of Hongkongers.

Ho, one of the four pan-democrats who met the state official, said the camp had wanted to raise their dissatisfaction with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to Zhang directly, adding that restarting the political reform process was the only way for the city to end the current impasse.

Barbara Ellen at U.K Guardian: Married Female Teacher Traumatized 17-Year-Old Male Teen With Festive Holiday Sex Romp


Barbara Ellen: “do we seriously think that a female teacher sleeping with a male pupil is on a par with a male teacher sleeping with a girl pupil? I don’t”


This week’s female English teacher busted for having a festive holiday sex romp with a 17-year-old male teenager is Katie Wilmott.

Wilmott, 29, teaches at Oologah-Talala High School in Oologah, Okla. (pop: 1,146) — about 30 miles from Tulsa.

A grand jury indicted Wilmott on Thursday on a charge of second-degree rape, reports Tulsa ABC affiliate KTUL.

The indictment charges that Wilmott and the unidentified student had their whirlwind romance at some point between Dec. 24 and Jan. 8. It’s not clear how much sex occurred, but the indictment indicates that the locale for the fling was a home in Owasso, a town down the road.

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B’nai Brith Preparing Measures to Counteract BDS in Canada

In the aftermath of Thursday’s rejection by the Ontario Legislature of a proposed bill that would have prohibited the Government from doing business with companies who support the BDS movement, B’nai Brith Canada is determined to continue the fight.

“We are preparing further measures to counteract the movement at this time,” Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said in an interview Friday. “This is a very serious issue. We have been working with students across Canada on this and we will continue to combat this movement because it is so deeply offensive to the Jewish community.”

Mostyn would not elaborate on what is being planned at B’nai Brith headquarters “because it’s just a bit too premature at this moment,” but he added: “Everyone will know what we are planning in the near future. Our plans will have teeth and get positive results. We can’t just sit back and allow this movement to continue. Boycott and Sanctions is a toxic movement that has been recognized by politicians across the political spectrum as antisemitic in nature.”

Mostyn said he felt fortunate to be a delegate on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Business Mission to Israel this week. “Premier Wynne demonstrated great leadership by strengthening bilateral cooperation between Israel and Ontario to their mutual benefit, and she has ensured the toxic BDS agenda will be recognized as the extremist dogma it is,” the CEO said. “We thank the Premier, Tim Hudak and Mike Colle for their longstanding commitment to fighting antisemitism in Ontario in whatever form it assumes.”

Hudak, former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and Colle, Liberal MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence in Toronto, worked together with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies to introduce the aforementioned bill, which was quickly and decisively defeated in the Ontario Legislature on Thursday.

“The Boycott and Sanctions movements meet the 3-D test of antisemitism of Natan Sharansky as it seeks to delegitimize, demonize and it creates double standards when it comes to Israel,” Mostyn said. “This test is meant to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and actions and non-legitimate criticism that is antisemitic in nature.”

It was at B’nai Brith’s 2011 international policy conference in Uruguay where Hannah Rosenthal, representing the U.S. Government as its Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, confirmed that the U.S. State Department uses Sharansky’s 3-D test to identify when criticism of policies pertaining to Israel cross the line into antisemitism.

“Students on university campuses feel targeted by this movement, and no student should feel they’re targeted for discrimination,” Mostyn said. “B’nai Brith will never stand idly by and we will continue our strong, proactive advocacy on the issue.”

Apartments, Islamic museum to be built on site of failed Ground Zero Mosque


The developer of the failed Ground Zero Mosque has nailed down “Sharia-compliant financing” for a new, luxury condominium tower and Islamic cultural museum on the same site, he and his banking partners said Wednesday.

The $174 million dollar project features a three-story Islamic cultural museum at 51 Park Place and 48 high-end residential condos in a 43-story tower at 45 Park Place in the Financial District.


The “Sharia-compliant” financing means the deal complies with complex Islamic laws that govern lending and borrowing, including a prohibition against accepting interest or fees for loans.

Manhattan developer Sharif El-Gamal’s 2010 plan for a 15-story Islamic cultural center sparked protests from opponents who dubbed it the “Ground Zero Mosque,” although it was four blocks away.

He abandoned that plan in 2011 and there has been little apparent opposition to the smaller museum or the development itself.

The project now includes two multi-story penthouses on the top four floors along with a pool, gym and kids’ playroom.

The deal, finalized Tuesday, was funded by the London branch of Malayan Banking Berhad.

The project was designed by Michel Abboud of SOMA Architects, along with Ismael Leyva Architects, and will include a 2,821 square-foot public plaza, green space and a retail shop.

Canada: Syrian refugee women coming forward with domestic violence allegations, group says

Canada importing wife beaters.

Every week, one Syrian woman comes forward to say she’s a victim of domestic abuse, a Toronto non-profit group says.

More than 25,000 refugees from Syria have fled the civil war in that country and settled in Canada, with many arriving during the winter months. Now, representatives from the Arab Community Centre of Toronto say many are speaking up to say they are living in abusive relationships.

Lubna Shaban, a settlement counsellor at the centre, said many of the women are scared to come forward, especially because their language skills are limited and they’re unsure of the potential repercussions — including a concern that they may be deported.

“Many try to stay silent, as in many cultures,” Shaban told CBC News.

“Even in Canadian society many stay in abusive relationships before deciding to disclose.”

Shaban and others working at the centre hope the federal government, which has set aside nearly $1 billion in funding to help settle the refugees, will allow some of that money to be spent on social issues like helping families deal with and prevent abuse.

In some cases, Shaban said, the main issue is education as the men need to learn that they don’t control every aspect of their wife’s life, such as when they’re allowed to leave the house.

The issue of domestic violence isn’t limited to Syrians. In Canada, one in five women experience some form of abuse in their intimate relationship, figures from the Battered Women’s Support Services group show.

Zena Al Hamdan, a manager at the Arab Community Centre of Toronto, said she believes many women are coming forward now that they’re not in “survival mode” anymore and finally feel safe enough to get help.

Al Hamdan said often, women say the violence begins when their partner gets upset.

“That’s a signal for the counsellor to ask questions,” Al Hamdan said.

Al Hamdan said she believes the stress of settling in a new country — and associated issues like finding work and a place to live — could be triggering some of the spousal violence. In many cases, she said, the family’s power dynamic is also upended by the move to a new country.

The violence that results, however, “is not a Syrian refugee problem … it’s a worldwide problem.”

The centre offers several options to the women, from helping them leave the relationship to providing mediation, but Al Hamdan said the final choice is always left up to the woman.

‘It can make you feel a lot of shame’

Zahra Dhanani, a lawyer and activist, said this problem can be compounded when women are dependent on the men in their lives to get information.

“They don’t know the legal realities,” Dhanani said, adding many are also unaware of the social supports available in Canada.

Dhanani, who has worked in the anti-violence against women field for years, said while it’s hard for any woman to exit an abusive relationship, it’s extremely difficult for refugees.

“It’s almost impossible,” she said, listing the many risks Syrian woman face — from partners who threaten deportation if they divorce to contemplating living in a brand new country without money.

“With those kinds of odds it’s not likely you’re going to leave … it can make you feel a lot of shame,” Dhanani said.