Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pre-Cleared US

From Yahoo:
"U.S. considers airport preclearance centers in nine countries"

The Department of Homeland Security said on Friday it is considering expanding airline preclearance operations to 10 new foreign airports in nine countries, most of them in Europe. The department said it was entering negotiations to add preclearance programs in Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom, where Heathrow and Manchester airports are on the list. Pre-clearance allows U.S. customs officers stationed in other countries to decide if travelers and their baggage can be permitted into the United States. That alleviates the crush of people attempting to clear customs after arrival. "Preclearance is a win-win for the traveling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest U.S. airports," Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Airlines for America, the industry trade organization for U.S. airlines, applauded the move. "U.S. airlines drive $1.5 trillion in economic activity, and by improving the passenger experience for visitors or those returning to the United States, while improving security, we can build on that," said A4A President & CEO Nick Calio.

^ I have used US Pre-clearance in: Canada, the Bahamas and Aruba.  It can be a good thing because you arrive in the US as a domestic flight, but it can also be a confusing thing because you have to know to arrive at your pre-cleared airport several extra hours early to go through immigration. I am surprised that Germany isn't included on this list  - Frankfurt and Munich have lots of flights to/from the US. ^

Long-Forgotten Memorial

From Yahoo:
"Israel begins honoring long-overlooked Jewish WWII veterans"

As a proud patriot, Brooklyn-born Dan Nadel enlisted in the U.S. army right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But there was another force driving him to battle — his Jewish faith. "What Hitler was doing to the Jews, I knew he had to be killed and stopped," the 95-year-old decorated veteran said from his home in Jerusalem. "That was my motivation." Nadel is among a dwindling population of Jewish war veterans who battled the Nazis — a group that until recently received little recognition in the Jewish state. Seventy years after the war ended, Israel is finally paying homage to the 1.5 million Jewish soldiers with a planned museum and research center. Nadel became an officer and landed on Normandy shortly after D-Day. He went on to earn five battle stars while leading combat engineer troops in the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of France. Eventually, he helped free his fellow Jews from Nazi concentration camps. "You can't imagine what it was like. The stench, people walking around just like skeletons, just bones and skin, that's all," he recalled. "It was terrible. Our general, Patton, when he went into the camps, he puked." Stories of the death camps are well-known in Nadel's adopted home of Israel, but the odysseys of Jewish soldiers are less well chronicled. In Israel, World War II history is predominantly focused on the Holocaust and its 6 million Jewish victims. When Jewish heroism from that era is invoked, it typically refers to the rebels who resisted the Nazis in the ghettos or volunteers from the Holy Land who later helped establish Israel. Earlier this month, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attended Israel's official ceremony marking 70 years since Victory Day in Europe and acknowledged that the contributions of Jewish veterans have often been overlooked. They said financing would be found to complete the construction of the planned museum, which has been bogged down in a bureaucratic stalemate for more than a decade. "We stand here as representatives of a people who gave their best sons in the battleground. While their brothers were being led to destruction, the Jewish warriors stood on the front lines," said Rivlin. "Do our children know this? Do our grandchildren know that the Jewish people fought in the killing fields of Europe?"  More than 250,000 Jewish soldiers died in battle. Many were among the first to liberate the Nazi death camps, often comforting the dazed, emaciated prisoners in Yiddish. Zvi Kan-Tor, a retired Israeli general, has taken on the mission of preserving the memory of these Jewish war veterans, leading the efforts to establish the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in the central Israeli town of Latrun. A structure is already standing and some exhibitions are ready to be displayed, but the funding isn't there yet. His hope is that together with private donations and government assistance it can be completed while some of the approximately 5,000 veterans remaining in Israel are still alive. "World War II in our collective memory has been sealed by a single word: Holocaust," said Kan-Tor. "We've heard about the victimhood — let's tell this side too... This is the missing piece. Maybe we can finally tell the full story of the Jewish people." That story includes British signalman Norman Cohen, who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day with the British 2nd Army. As a radio operator under the command of Gen. Miles Dempsey, he received the German transmission on their surrender and then stumbled upon the scene of Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler's suicide in Luneburg. "I did my job. You are in a place in a certain time — it doesn't make you a hero. You are just there," said Cohen, 91, who had withstood the blitz in his British hometown of Coventry before enlisting — and then dodging some close calls in combat. But in Israel he is often mistaken for a survivor, not a warrior. "It is very difficult to convey to the next generation what I feel," he said.  The Jewish fighters who returned to their home countries were not part of the early Zionist narrative, said Tamar Ketko, the curator of the new museum. That honor belonged to the partisans, the Zionist volunteers and the plucky resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, who better fit the country's pioneering fighting spirit. Only after the mass immigration of Soviet Jews in the 1990s did the term "veteran" make its way into Hebrew vernacular. Every year, they would strut out on Victory Day with their medals pinned on old uniforms. One such veteran, out of more than 500,000 Soviet Jews who took part in the fighting, approached Kan-Tor and urged him to take on the project of a museum. The Russian-centric celebrations, however, were not inclusive toward other nationalities, including Americans. The some 550,000 Jewish-American troops made up the largest Jewish fighting force in World War II. "You wouldn't know that Americans were in the war," bemoaned Nadel. He was a commander of the only post in Israel for American Jewish war veterans and his testimony is slated to be featured prominently in the future museum. The post used to have 200 members and now it is down to just 90. "We are a dying breed," he said. Nadel said that of the 55 men who hit the Normandy beach under his command only 12 survived. He credits his own miraculous survival to a Jewish amulet attached to his dog tags.
He said he and other soldiers had no idea about the concentration camps and the scope of the genocide. "We didn't know anything about it until we actually came across it and saw it with our own eyes," he said. After the war, his wife wanted to immigrate to the Palestine Mandate, where other Jewish World War II vets helped build up Zionist forces ahead of Israel's war of independence in 1948. But Nadel said he'd seen enough fighting and opted to stay in the U.S., immigrating to Israel only in 1977. There he became recognizable in his Jerusalem neighborhood for wearing a baseball cap that read "World War II veteran." "Every American who sees me says 'Way to go.' They know what we did. But the story of what we did has never really been told in Israel," he said. "And in a few years there won't be any of us left."

^ It surprised me that Israel hasn't commemorated the Jews that fought the Nazis. They (the Israelis) tend to focus on their resistance to the Holocaust to dispel the belief that every Jew went to their death like sheep. They even celebrate their Holocaust Remembrance Day in April (to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) while the UN and most countries use January (to commemorate when Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets.) Millions of people around the world fought and many died to stop the Germans (and the Japanese.) Jews around the world joined in the fighting for both patriotic as well as personal reasons and they deserve to be remembered as every other soldier or resistance fighter does. ^

Nazi Reality Show

From Yahoo:
"Director of Controversial Czech TV Series Defends Wartime Nazi Occupation Show"

The director of a controversial Czech reality TV show that recreates life under Nazi occupation has defended the series in the wake of criticism. Zora Cejnkova says Holiday in the Protectorate (Dovolenu v Protektoratu) is a serious attempt to understand what it was like for ordinary people to live in Nazi-occupied Europe. In a live online discussion hosted Monday by Czech daily tabloid newspaper Blesk, Cejnkova said the format hews closer to the BBC’s Living History than a reality show. The show, eight episodes that air three times a week until mid-June, features three generations of a Czech family living in a remote mountain village with actors playing their neighbors, Nazis and Gestapo officers. The show, which has drawn the ire of critics who say it demonstrates poor taste and disrespect for the sacrifice of those who died in World War II, attracted more balanced comments and questions in Cejnkova’s hour-long chat. “As a little girl, my grandmother told me how they smuggled food from the countryside to the cities and how my uncle, a doctor, tended to wounded resistance fighters,” Cejnkova said in her opening remarks. “That stayed with me and I realized this was a completely forgotten part of the second world war that deserved retelling.” She denied the show was sensational and insisted that she did not view it as a conventional reality show. “The show is inspired by various formats — Living History has long been a successful format, which began with the BBC,” she said. “[My show] creates a story that involves our family. I see it as a new cross format, a sort of situation drama.” A doctor and psychologist were on hand during filming to ensure that no member of the family was harmed, Cejnkova said, adding that the family rapidly entered the reality of life in the 1940s and forgot about the presence of cameras. Challenged by one participant, who said he had lived through the war, to “take a tour of Ukraine and other war torn territories” and asked if she thought it was “funny to live” in those times, Cejnkova replied that her motivation in making the show was to ensure the wartime experiences were “remembered.” Cejnkova insisted that the show should not offend any viewer. “It is not a reality show, it is a new format. Holiday in the Protectorate shows the everyday life of people, their problems and concerns,” she said. “Every day they had to make decisions, knowing that any decision could have dire consequences.” Cejnkova was asked at one point: “Would you like to live in the Protectorate?” “No, no one would want to live during the war; that’s terrible,” she replied.
^ There have been other historical reality shows aired around the world. The British had "The 1940 House" where a family lived in London during the German Blitz. There have been frontier and colonial historical reality shows as well. I don't think this Czech show is any different. Of course you can never fully create the fear, repression, destruction and death of war and in the end the people on the show know it is a recreation. If people don't agree with the show then don't watch it. I don't see it doing any harm and may get people who weren't in World War 2 interested to see how ordinary people  - including their families - lived during it.

Abandoned By Russia

From Yahoo:
"Special Report: Russian fighters, caught in Ukraine, cast adrift by Moscow"

From his hospital bed in the Ukrainian capital, Russian fighter Alexander Alexandrov feels abandoned by his country, its leaders and even the local Russian consul. Alexandrov, 28, says he's a Russian soldier who was captured in east Ukraine after being sent there on active duty with Russian special forces to help separatists fighting Kiev. He said he was serving on a three-year contract. "I never tore it up, I wrote no resignation request," he said. "I was carrying out my orders." Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the face of widespread evidence to the contrary, has repeatedly said there are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine – only volunteers who have gone to help the separatists of their own accord. So Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, another Russian who was captured with him, find themselves pawns in the deepest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.  They believe they should be treated as captured servicemen. But Moscow will not admit they are any such thing, or that it has sent any soldiers into Ukraine to help wrest swathes of east away from Kiev's control. To do so would undermine Moscow's claims that the separatist uprising there is a spontaneous reaction by Russian-speaking communities against Kiev. The Kremlin has described the two men as Russian citizens, and Russia's defense ministry has said they are former soldiers who left the military before they were captured. Disowned at home, the two men stand accused by Ukrainian authorities of being terrorists. In an interview from his bed, Alexandrov, wearing a hospital-issue green T-shirt and with several days stubble on his face, told Reuters he felt alone and trapped between these vast forces. He said the Russian consul in Kiev had visited him and Yerofeyev, but had been a let-down. The two captives had hoped Moscow would get them home in a prisoner exchange, but they said the consul had been non-committal. "I asked him a few questions. There was no answer to them. He said that when he has the answers, he will come again and let us know what they are,” said Alexandrov, whose leg was shattered in a gun battle. The Russian embassy in Kiev had no comment on Friday. In an earlier statement it had described Alexandrov and Yerofeyev as “Russian citizens detained in the Luhansk region” and said they were receiving proper medical treatment. “Embassy officials plan to visit the compatriots regularly,” the statement said. Ukrainian armed servicemen and officials in civilian clothes were present during the interviews Alexandrov and Yerofeyev gave to Reuters. Both Russian men made it clear they were active service members of the Russian military on the day they were captured. Alexandrov said he knew his military identification number off by heart: E131660. He also said he fears for his relatives back in Russia. A few days ago, his wife, Yekaterina, appeared on Russian state television. Looking nervous, and talking in stilted phrases, she said her husband had quit the Russian military in December last year. That account was helpful to Putin's claims that only volunteer Russians have gone to Ukraine. "They said I was no longer a serviceman," Alexandrov said. "It's a bit hurtful, especially when they do it through your family, through your wife. That crosses a line." Alexandrov, who was captured on May 16, said he had been unable to get hold of his wife by telephone for nearly two weeks. She has not replied to his messages posted on social media accounts. A photograph of him with his wife stood on the table next to his bedside.  He said Yekaterina always used to pick up his calls, even before they were married, when sometimes he would call in the middle of the night. He asked to borrow a Reuters correspondent's mobile telephone so he could try calling her. Yerofeyev, also in a green T-shirt, his right arm in a bandage binding it to his torso, came into the room and watched. Alexandrov dictated the number to the correspondent, and checked it was correct. With the phone in speaker mode, the call connected, and the ringing tone could be heard. But no one picked up. Reuters was unable to contact his wife independently for comment. Ukrainian prosecutors say the two men will be charged with acts of terrorism, alleging they killed Ukrainians in combat. The soldiers have denied that, saying they did not fire their weapons. If they had the status of soldiers fighting a war, international law would give them some protection from those charges; but they do not have that status since Moscow has said they were not acting on its orders. "I can understand, of course, why they have turned their back on me as a serviceman, but I'm still a citizen of my country,” said Yerofeyev, 30. “At least don't turn your back on me as a citizen." Asked about the two servicemen on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had nothing to add to previous comments, when he had said they were ordinary Russian citizens who were being held prisoner. "Everything that concerns servicemen, you should address your questions to the defense ministry," said Peskov. An official answering the telephone in the defense ministry press service on Thursday evening said no one was available to comment. There was no immediate response to written questions sent to the ministry. Previously, a defense ministry spokesman had told Russian state media that Alexandrov and Yerofeyev had served in the military in the past, but were no longer serving when they were captured. The accounts given by the two Russians of how they came to be in Ukraine paint a different picture, shedding light on the realities of a shadowy war that has killed thousands of people.  They said they serve in a unit of the main intelligence directorate of the Russian general staff, based in the city of Togliatti on the Volga River. The directorate, known by its Russian initials G.R.U., is one of the military's elite forces, usually used for highly sensitive operations. According to Alexandrov, their unit of 200 men was sent into Ukraine on March 26. Before crossing the border, he said, they were instructed to surrender their dog tags and military identification. They were also told to swap their uniforms for mismatched camouflage fatigues to blend in with the separatist irregulars. Once inside Ukraine's separatist-held Luhansk region, his unit provided reconnaissance support to the separatists, he said. Separatist irregulars did most of the fighting, he said, and on occasion came close to shooting the Russian forces by mistake. "I think that probably they need to drink less. Half of them are ex-convicts." He said the May 16 firefight in which he and Yerofeyev were injured was the first time they had been involved in combat during their mission in Ukraine. Alexandrov described how he was hit in the leg, and tried to crawl to safety. When Ukrainian soldiers approached him, he thought they would kill him, but instead they picked him up, carried him to a vehicle and took him to hospital. In past cases when Russian citizens have been captured or killed in Ukraine, officials in Moscow have said they were on leave from the military and fighting as volunteers - or in one case that a group of soldiers had got lost and entered Ukrainian territory by accident.  The case of Alexandrov and Yerofeyev is not so easy to brush aside. On Thursday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said bluntly: "These are special forces soldiers who killed Ukrainians, who were sent here. They are part of the regular Russian Federation military." One Ukrainian soldier was killed in the firefight in which the two Russians were captured, Ukrainian soldiers who witnessed the incident told Reuters. However, a Ukrainian army colonel, whose unit was involved, said that none of his men had seen Alexandrov or Yerofeyev shooting anyone. The case against the two men is being handled by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). It had no immediate comment on the case. The SBU previously posted a statement on its website saying the two Russians were suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, but did not mention any specific evidence that either of them had been directly involved in killing Ukrainians. Now, both Alexandrov and Yerofeyev are torn. They say they yearn to get home to their families – but they worry about how they can live in a country which, in their view, has disowned them, even though they were prepared to give their lives for it. "It's scary. There, no one is going to be saying thank you to me, I don't suppose," said Yerofeyev when asked about going back to Russia. "I think that my biggest adventures will start when I get home."  
 ^ It's a disgrace when any country's government abandons their own soldiers. Russia isn't fooling anyone and hasn't since they started telling the world that there weren't Russian soldiers in the Ukraine. They eventually admitted their Special Forces were the ones who took-over the Crimea and I'm sure eventually they will admit to being in eastern Ukraine too. A country that refuses to recognize the men and women they deploy into harm's way where they can get captured, wounded or killed  - is only telling its citizens that their lives do not mean anything and that the government will do whatever it wants to regardless. ^

Friday, May 29, 2015

Special Torches

From Disability Scoop:
"Torches To Travel Nation Ahead Of Special Olympics"

Three torches will make their way across the country in the coming weeks reaching every state on foot or by bicycle before converging at the Special Olympics World Games this summer. The torch, known as The Flame of Hope, was initially lit May 14 in Athens, Greece. On Tuesday, torches set out from Miami, Washington, D.C. and Augusta, Maine on three separate routes. Over the next 46 days, the torches are expected to travel through communities in all 50 states passing hand-to-hand to thousands of participants who will run, walk or bike with the flame as part of the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America. Along the way, the torches are slated to stop at major landmarks including Walt Disney World in Orlando, the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Chicago’s Navy Pier and Major League Baseball stadiums in several cities, among other venues. Ultimately, the three torches are scheduled to unite July 10 in Los Angeles ahead of the Special Olympics World Games which will take place July 25 to August 2. Special Olympics holds alternating winter and summer world games every two years. This year’s games in Los Angeles are expected to bring together more than 7,000 athletes with disabilities from 177 countries including 304 from the United States.
^ It's great to see the same torch-relay being held for the Special Olympics as is held for the regular Olympics. ^

Opening Divsion

From DW:
"Divided Cyprus to open more crossings"

More crossing points on divided Cyprus are to be opened and electricity networks unified, according to UN advisor Espen Barth Eide. This follows talks between the island's Greek and Turkish leaders.  A long-awaited resumption of Cypriot peace talks produced more signs of conciliation on Thursday as the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders held this month's second encounter. The Mediterranean island was divided along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus after a coup in Nicosia seeking to reunite island with Greece. On Thursday, Eide, a former Norwegian foreign minister, said Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and new Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had also agreed to look into ways to link their communities' mobile telephone grids.
The two leaders opened the new round on peace talks on May 15 by drinking coffee together and strolling through Nicosia. Akinci, a long-time advocate of reconciliation and moderate leftist, beat the region's conservative incumbent in last month's Turkish Cypriot presidential election. Thursday's agreement to open more border crossings seeks to win over skeptics by solving decades-old problems with tangible steps as confidence-building measures. Initial crossing points along the UN-patrolled 180-kilometer (110-mile) ceasefire line were opened in 2003. Thursday's move should allow easier movement of people and communication between the communities. A UN-brokered reunification blueprint -spearheaded by star diplomat Kofi Annan - was rejected by Greek Cypriots but approved by Turkish Cypriots in simultaneous referenda in 2004. The European Union admitted southern Cyprus as an EU member in that year. Turkish Cypriots were left without membership benefits. Turkish Cypriot leaders formally declared a breakaway state in 1983 but it was only recognized by Ankara, which supported it financially and militarily. A reunification deal would likely create a two-state federation, one Greek Cypriot and the other Turkish Cypriot. Talks have in the past foundered on the competencies of each, the redrawing of territorial boundaries and property claims by tens of thousands of internally-displaced people.

^ Hopefully this will be the start of normal relations between the Greek South and the Turkish North. Of course the Turkish North is at a disadvantage because no country (except Turkey) recognizes them , they don't enjoy the same EU member-status the South does and the people there don't have the same high standard of living as in the South. That means the North will have to give a lot if it wants to be included back into the international world - something it hasn't been since Turkey invaded in 1974. Hopefully, the Greek Cypriots can take the "higher" road this time (unlike the referendum they held several years ago when the Greeks voted "NO" and the Turks voted "Yes.") to bring Turkish troops off the island and reunite the two communities and the country as a whole. ^

Deaf Elections

From G & M:
"Deaf Canadians fear loss of televised, captioned election debates"

Deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians fear their needs as voting citizens might be lost in the shuffle in the coming election campaign as the federal parties squabble over the formats and hosts of the leaders’ debates. The proposal by the major TV networks, put to the federal parties, includes closed captioning in both French and English — as has been the case in previous debates. However, the Conservative Party of Canada has rejected the proposal from the so-called broadcast consortium, which includes CBC/Radio-Canada, Global News and CTV. As a result, the televised debates are in limbo; it’s not clear whether the opposition parties would bother with a faceoff that doesn’t include the prime minister. The Conservatives have emphasized their desire for different formats, citing the fact many Canadians no longer watch traditional TV. But broadcasters are required by regulation to include closed captioning with their programming, even during commercials. Will new debate proposals from Maclean’s magazine, the Globe and Mail/Google Canada, the Munk Debates and others include services for the hearing impaired? Rudyard Griffiths, organizer of the Munk Debates, said the organization is looking into closed captioning and sign language, as well as simultaneous French and English translation. James Roots, executive director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, said up to ten million Canadians with varying degrees of hearing benefit from closed captioning. “We certainly are deeply concerned and distressed by the entire squabble over the proposed federal election debates,” Roots said in an email. “Without taking sides in the dispute, we emphasize that all Canadians — not just Deaf ones — have a legal and moral right to equal access to the debates, and that this access has traditionally been provided by means of captioning.” Regardless of whether they have hearing difficulties, many new Canadians rely on closed captioning, said Susan Masters of the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. New technology has not always been a good thing for people with hearing loss, she added. “Not very much on the Web is captioned or accessible — very little of it is — so that leaves deaf and hard-of-hearing people behind in terms of information.” Geoff Smith, a former lawyer who began losing his hearing because of a brain tumour nearly 30 years ago, wrote to The Canadian Press with his concerns after reading about the negotiations over the debates. “My concern is that I don’t like being excluded from participating in the debates,” Smith said in an text-message interview. "As a deafened person, I work very hard making sure I am included. So this suggestion by (Stephen) Harper is more than attempt to control the media. He is manipulating me too by moving the debates onto the Internet.”
^ I do not understand why this is even an issue. If Canadian law says that everything on TV (including their commercials) be offered in closed-captioning then the election debates should be included in that. The fact that Canada is officially bilingual means that those close-captioning needs to be available in both French and English. Politicians who want to be elected should be pushing to get their message "heard"  to all potential voters - hearing and non-hearing, French-speaking and English-speaking. ^

Russia's Secret

From the MT:
"Putin Classifies Information on Deaths of Russian Troops on Special Missions"

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday declared all deaths of Russian soldiers during special operations to be classified as a state secret, a move that comes as Moscow stands accused of sending soldiers to fight in eastern Ukraine. Putin, who has repeatedly denied any involvement of Russian troops in a pro-Russian rebellion there, amended a decree that had previously classified only deaths of servicemen during war time as secret. Asked to explain the rationale behind Putin's move, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov had no immediate comment. Russian opposition activists released a report saying at least 220 serving Russian soldiers were killed in fighting in two hot spots in east Ukraine last summer and earlier this year. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March, 2014, after wresting control over the peninsula by deploying troops with no insignia. Russia initially vehemently denied the soldiers, who became to be known as "little green men", were Russian troops. Putin only publicly admitted Russian soldiers had been deployed in Crimea nearly a month after signing legislation formally completing the peninsula's annexation. Unrest soon moved to east Ukraine. The West now accuses Moscow of driving a separatist rebellion there by providing it with serving Russian troops, arms, training and intelligence.   Russia has backed many of the separatists' political claims but denies direct military involvement in east Ukraine, where more than 6,100 people have been killed in more than a year of fighting between the rebels and Kiev's forces. A Reuters reporter witnessed earlier this week the Russian army massing troops without insignia and hundreds of pieces of unmarked weaponry on the border with Ukraine. Asked by Reuters if this indicated Russia planned an invasion of Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Peskov told a conference call with reporters: "I find the wording of this question, 'if an invasion is being prepared', inappropriate as such." A ceasefire has been in force in eastern Ukraine since February, but each side accuses the other of violations. Kiev says it fears Russia could commit troops to a push to extend control by separatist forces along Ukraine's southern coast.  
^ This all but assures ordinary Russians and the world that Russia has their military in eastern Ukraine (as they do in annexed Crimea.) The two Russian soldiers captured fighting in the Ukraine probably had something to do with this quick attempt to cover-up. History has shown that countries that try to hide their military mistakes get found out and are branded badly in history (ie the US' Gulf of Tonkin incident, the USSR's Katyn massacre and now Russia's involvement in the Ukraine.) It is the second decade of the 21st Century and almost impossible to hide military operations and movements nowadays with all the satellites, etc we have. It's better to at least be open and not lie. ^

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dogs Help Disabled

From Disability Scoop:
"Pets Reduce Stress In Kids With Autism, Study Finds"

Animals may offer more than comfort for kids with autism, according to new research finding that pets can bring about physiological changes in those with the developmental disorder.  Children on the spectrum displayed a sharp drop in anxiety and social stress when playing with animals as compared to engaging in other activities whether independently or with their peers, the study found. By contrast, typically-developing kids actually exhibited a rise in skin conductance levels — which were used to measure anxiety — when presented with animals, perhaps due to excitement, the researchers said in their findings published recently in the journal Developmental Psychobiology. “Previous studies suggest that in the presence of companion animals, children with autism spectrum disorders function better socially,” said James Griffin of the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which helped fund the new research. “This study provides physiological evidence that the proximity of animals eases the stress that children with autism may experience in social situations.” For the study, researchers looked at 114 children ages 5 to 12, a third of whom had autism. All of the kids wore a device on their wrist to measure skin conductance, or the level of charge that passes through the skin. Readings from the device can suggest how a person is feeling since the pace of charge increases when people feel excited or anxious, for example. Measurements were taken while the children read a book silently and again when the kids were asked to read aloud for two peers. Then, researchers monitored the children while they played during 10 minutes of free time and finally, during 10 minutes of supervised play with two guinea pigs. Skin conductance levels for the children with autism were higher than for their typically-developing peers in every circumstance except when the guinea pigs were present, the study found. Marguerite O’Haire, a researcher at Purdue University who led the study, said that while the findings are meaningful, she does not recommend that parents immediately acquire pets for their children with autism. Rather, she said the study suggests that animals may “play a part in interventions seeking to help children with autism develop their social skills.”

^ I worked at an overnight summer camp in New York for 4 summers and saw a wide range of disabilities. We had campers with autism and once a week we had a person bring different animals to show and the campers seemed to really enjoy that program. While there weren't any dogs I have dogs of my own and can see how they could help people with autism (or other disabilities) to engage more. ^

Desperate Survivors

"Holocaust Survivors Live 'Close to Desperation'—in US"
About 30,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City and three surrounding counties are at or below the poverty line, the Wall Street Journal reports. After enduring Nazi horrors, fleeing their homelands, and struggling to make new lives in America, advocates say the plight of these survivors grows more serious as they age and require increased medical care, money for basic living needs, and other assistance. Now a coalition of groups led by the Survivor Initiative is trying to get $1.5 million from the City Council to help those survivors who need it the most—including those who lived through the double (or triple) whammy of 9/11 or 2012's Superstorm Sandy. "It's very tough," 75-year-old Jose Urbach tells the newspaper. Urbach lost his job to downsizing at age 62, has fought prostate cancer, and sometimes has to borrow money for food and medical bills. Survivors like Urbach "live close to desperation," the UJA-Federation of New York says. A Selfhelp report updated in 2013 predicts that nearly 24,000 survivors will be living in the New York area in the year 2025 and that 35% of them will be dealing with serious or chronic illnesses, many linked to the poor living conditions and torture they endured from the Nazis, per the Journal. They also may not have a strong support network if family members didn't make it through the Holocaust. (One inspiring survivor: Emily Kessler made her Lincoln Center debut playing the mandolin at age 97.)
^ It is a disgrace that any Holocaust survivor (whether living in: the US, UK, Germany, Israel, Poland, Canada, France, Russia, etc) should have to beg for basic things like food, water, housing and medicine. A lot more needs to be done by the countries they live in, the UN and other international organizations and charities to help the survivors to live their last days in comfort after suffering so much. There needs to be an international fund with money supplied by Germany and any country that collaborated with them that gives Holocaust survivors around the world enough money to provide the basic necessities for them. It's the least the world can do considering the majority of countries and people back in the 1930s and 1940s did little to nothing to stop the murders. ^

Germany: Civil Or Equality?

From DW:
"A look at the state of same-sex partnerships under German law"

In 2001, Germany introduced legal partnerships for same-sex couples. They now have nearly all of the same rights as married couples, but nearly 15 years later, the question remains: why is there still a difference?  The debate on gay marriage was reignited in Germany this week following Ireland's historic referendum, which saw over 60 percent of voters in the Catholic stronghold support marriage for same-sex couples. As Jens Spahn - a leading politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - told the German newspaper "Die Welt": "You would think what the Irish Catholics can do, we could do, too." Heterosexual couples in Germany do not receive a special status as co-habitants and, thus, have only the option of marrying to be recognized as a family unit under the law.  By contrast, same-sex couples can only enter into a so-called "registered life-partnership," a legal civil union introduced in 2001, which shares many of the benefits and obligations of a legally recognized marriage. This right has been expanded over the past 14 years, including an extension of tax breaks in 2013 and the right to so-called successive adoption in 2014. So, aside from the limitations to adoption rights, the major difference that remains is the use of the term "marriage" itself. It may appear to be a war of words from the outside, but both sides are saying that more is at stake than one single word, with supporters calling it a human rights issue and opponents underscoring their sacrosanct view of the protection of the family. Despite numerous signs at the federal level of support for a change - including rulings by the country's top court, support from the upper house of parliament and calls from the country's anti-discrimination agency - the main hindrance to gay marriage in Germany appears to be Merkel's CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, with the chancellor herself saying in 2013 that she "had a hard time" with the issue. "There is a majority in the Bundestag for opening up marriage [to homosexual partners]. But then there's the [issue of] preserving peace within the coalition," the director of the Lesbian and Gay Assocation (LSVD), Klaus Jetz, told DW, refering to the CDU/CSU's partnership with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). Unlike in Ireland, the German Constitution only allows for national referendums on two issues: the restructuring of federal territory or redrafting the Constitution. And unlike in the United States, German states do not have the power to decide individually on gay marriage. Thus, the decision would fall to a vote by the Bundestag's 631 parliamentarians, nearly 80 percent of whom belong to the governing coalition. And according to Jetz, the lawmakers are unlikely to vote against their own party, or coalition partner.

^ You need to take Germany's history into account in this long debate. Countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc considered homosexuality an illness and arrested gay people or didn't allow them to serve in government jobs or their military. Countries like the Soviet Union considered homosexuality an illness and arrested gay people  - sending them to the Gulags or from the 1970s on - psychiatric hospitals. The Germans made homosexuality illegal from 1871 until 1994 (when Paragraph 175 was completely annulled.) Unlike the other countries the Germans, from 1933 to 1945, arrested an estimated 100,000 homosexuals and officially charged 50,000. Around 15,000 of those charged were sent to concentration camps where 60% of them died (the rest went to regular prisons.) After the Allied victory the Germans (in East and West Germany) continued to treat gays as criminals. A gay man arrested and sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis would be re-arrested and sent to a regular German jail. It took until 1994 for the re-united (4 years earlier) to completely make homosexuality legal. Then they couldn't have civil unions until 2001 and are still waiting on full equality with marriage. The Germans are different in how they treated gays because they killed people for being homosexuals and rather than atone for their horrendous mistakes after the war (like they tried to do with the Jews and others) they continued their persecution (minus the murder) for the next 5 decades. The only way Germany can truly atone for its rule in the murder and discrimination of homosexuals is to make gay marriage legal and remove the last step towards full civil rights. ^

Moldova Towards EU

From Yahoo:
"Moldovan president: We prefer European Union orbit to Russia"

Moldova's 4 million citizens would prefer to join the European Union rather than stay in the Russian orbit, its president said Tuesday. President Nicolae Timofti told The Associated Press that Moldovans are reaping economic benefits from closer ties and visa-free travel with the 28-nation EU, but added that Russia's presence is still a factor in the former Soviet republic, 24 years after it declared independence when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. "We can't deny the realities that exist in Moldova. We were part of a union where Russia predominated," he said. "(But) we are a European country and our people have European aspirations," Timofti said. "It has been understood that we can live much better in the European family than in any other political conjunction." Moldova's pro-European government, however, relies on the support of the Communist Party, which does not favor fast reforms moving the nation closer to the EU. Moldova is one of Europe's poorest nations. Some 600,000 Moldovans work abroad, in Russia and EU countries, and send home remittances. The Russian-speaking separatist region of Trans-Dniester in eastern Moldova, which borders Ukraine, broke away in 1990 and wants to join Russia. There are some 1,500 Russian troops stationed there.
Since Russia imposed an embargo on Moldovan fruit and some vegetables after the country signed an association agreement with the EU last June, some 54.5 percent of all Moldovan trade now goes to the bloc, more than before, Timofti told The AP. In addition, more than half a million Moldovans have traveled to EU countries after the bloc lifted visa restrictions for Moldovan citizens in April 2014, he said. Timofti spoke to The AP as he attended a meeting of southeast European nations.

^ Moldova should be careful of what it does considering that Russia invaded the Ukraine when the Ukraine showed a willingness towards moving closer to the EU. Although Moldova already has Russian soldiers on their territory - in Transdniester - since the 1990s. Since Russia is currently self-isolating itself it only seems natural that other countries move towards the rest of the world that is still open. ^

Dutch Honor

From USA Today:
"In small Dutch village, our dead soldiers are loved"

As many lay wreaths and place flowers at the graves of fallen soldiers this Memorial Day weekend, the Washington Post takes readers to a cemetery far beyond our borders: one in the Dutch village of Margraten, the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands, per the American Battle Monuments Commission. The paper reports on a remarkable display of kindness and respect for Americans who died fighting the Nazis — consideration that continues seven decades after the US selected a fruit orchard on the outskirts of the village of 1,500 as a place to lay some of our dead to rest. The first graves were dug in November 1944, two months after the Nazi occupation of Margraten ended; the next few months saw as many as 500 new bodies arrive daily, swelling the 65-acre Netherlands American Cemetery's population to 18,949, reports the Holland Sentinel. Many were returned home in 1948; 8,301 remain, among them, four women, per the Sentinel: two Red Cross workers and two flight nurses. Every one of the graves that remain has been adopted, either by a family (most, but not all, of them Dutch), local school, business, or military outfit who visit it on days such as Memorial Day, Christmas, and the first and last day of the soldier's life.  Some graves are "passed down" to a family's next generation; there's even a waiting list for those wanting to adopt a grave. Yesterday saw some 6,000 people — including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, notes the AP — attend a ceremony there, as they have done since May 30, 1945. What Rutte had to say: "Thank you to our liberators. Thank you for enabling us to stand here today in freedom, and we bow our heads in memory of the fallen."

 ^ Even though Memorial Day was a few days ago this article shows that there are still some Europeans that continue to honor and respect the sacrifices that the US did to help liberate them from the Nazis 70 years ago. Some (like France) quickly forgot that we saved them in both World War 1 and World War 2 and treat Americans as pricks. The Dutch, who were neutral during World War 1, take the deaths of the American soldiers more seriously. I love that the tombstones are "adopted" by businesses and families. The US Government takes care of the overall cemetery, but the Dutch people themselves takes take of the individual soldier - even though he/she has been dead for 70 years. That is the greatest sign of respect any country can ask for. ^

Kazakh Outcry

From the MT:
"Kazakhstan Strikes Down ‘Gay Propaganda’ Law After Olympics Outcry"

Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council has struck down a controversial law that would have outlawed the “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors, amid signs the legislation was damaging the country’s bid to host the Winter Olympics. The law was “not in line with the constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” the website quoted the Constitutional Council (which rules on the legality of legislation) as saying. The law governed “the protection of children from information causing damage to their health and development." It was passed by parliament in February. The council struck down the law because of unclear wording rather than human rights concerns, the report said. The announcement came after a group of household-name sports stars urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reject Kazakhstan’s bid to host the Winter Games in Almaty in 2022, arguing that the law outlawing the “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors was incompatible with Olympic principles of equality. “In light of Kazakhstan’s aspirations to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and their recent consideration of legislation prohibiting ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation,’ we urge the IOC to reiterate to Kazakh authorities that discrimination with regard to sexual orientation is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement,” the sportsmen and women said in the open letter to IOC chairman Thomas Bach, published by the Athlete Ally group, which fights homophobia in sport. The 27 signatories included Olympic medalists and stars who have excelled in sports ranging from tennis, rowing and wrestling to snowboarding, speed skating and swimming. “Athletes Pressure Olympics to Take a Stand on Kazakhstan's Anti-Gay Legislation — no way should the Olympics be there,” tweeted one of its most famous signatories, U.S. tennis player Martina Navratilova (who married her long-term lesbian partner last year), on May 15 after a report on the outcry was published in The Huffington Post.  Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Court quietly struck the law down three days later, the news site said, but the ruling was not reported until May 26.  Choosing Almaty as host city for the games “would directly undermine the IOC’s own Olympic Charter, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation,” the letter remarked. The legislation targeting “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors in Kazakhstan (which has previously come under fire for failing to protect the rights of the LGBT community) was similar to a Russian law adopted in 2013, which caused an outcry during Sochi’s hosting of the Winter Olympics last year. Kazakhstan’s government has eagerly promoted Almaty’s bid to host the games, which the administration of President Nursultan Nazarbayev sees as an opportunity to raise the country’s international profile, though critics dismiss it as a costly vanity project that risks spawning the type of rampant corruption that marred the Sochi games. Almaty’s chances of selection success have risen as other bidders have pulled out, leaving Beijing as the only rival. The IOC is due to make the final decision on the host city on July 31. It is likely no coincidence that Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council has now struck down the controversial law that was damaging Almaty’s bid. The decision could not have occurred in Kazakhstan’s top-down political system without a nod from Nazarbayev.

^ Whatever the official reasons given as to why the Kazakhs repealed this anti-gay law the thing to remember is that they repealed it. The IOC doesn't care what a country does or even what happens during the Olympics as long as they get their cut-backs. When Arab terrorists murdered Israeli athletes participating in the Munich Games in 1972 the IOC didn't care then and allowed the games to continue (or even officially mention it during the 40th anniversary in London in 2012.) When Russia enacted its anti-gay law and invaded and occupied the Crimea the IOC didn't care and allowed the games to continue then. The IOC claims it goes beyond politics and is only about sports, but that is clearly not true since they did nothing when their own athletes were murdered during their own games. The IOC is only about the money they will receive and not about sports, equality or fairness. ^

Monday, May 25, 2015

Deployed US

From Wikipedia:
"United States military deployments"

The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with over 160,000 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories and an additional 70,000 deployed in various contingency operations. US troops are spread across the globe: approximately 66,000 are stationed in Europe; approximately 80,000 in East Asia and the Pacific region; over 5,000 in North Africa, Southwestern and South Asia; over 1,700 in the Americas; less than 400 in Sub-Saharan Africa; and less than 100 in states of the former Soviet Union. Of those in Europe, most of the military personnel are located at installations activated during the Cold War, by which the US government sought to challenge the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II. US personnel are seeing active combat in Afghanistan. Others are deployed as part of several peacekeeping missions, military attachés, or are part of embassy and consulate security. The following are countries, listed by region, in which US military personnel are deployed. The numbers are based on the most recent United States Department of Defense statistics as of December 31, 2014. hese numbers do not include any military or civilian contractors or dependents. Countries with fewer than 100 US personnel deployed are omitted.

Key to the above map: Countries in which the US military had a presence in 2013. This map shows the current deployments of the US military. Most of the deployments on this map that are less than 100 troops are usually less than fifty military personnel, just for public knowledge. The lightest blue means less than a hundred US troops; the aqua teal mix, which is a little brighter, means more than a hundred troops; and the darkest blue on map means more than 1,000 troops. This map has those listed as part of Overseas Contingency Operation Deployments integrated in, while military dependents and civilian personnel are omitted

Combat Zones:
Afghanistan: 6,839
Iraq: 3,100

Support Zones:
Kuwait: 11,865
Bahrain: 3,373
Turkey: 1,518
Qatar: 610
Saudi Arabia: 322
United Arab Emirates: 321
Egypt: 280
South Africa: 221
Japan: 49,396
South Korea: 28,500
British Indian Ocean Territory: 546
Thailand: 228
Kyrgyzstan: 225
Singapore: 188
Australia: 182
Germany: 38,491
Italy: 11,354
United Kingdom: 9,124
Spain: 2,170
Belgium: 1,216
Portugal: 617
Greece: 396
Netherlands: 375
Cuba: 727
Honduras: 378
Greenland: 141
Canada: 132

The United States:   There are 1,148,750 personnel on active duty in the United States and its territories

- CONUS: 1,072,753
- Hawaii:  51,050
- Alaska: 19,295
- Guam: 5,501
- Puerto Rico: 147

^   Even though Memorial Day is to honor the men and women that served in the US military and either died while serving or afterwards (Veterans' Day is to honor the men and women who served or are serving in the US military and are still alive) it's important to show ordinary Americans the commitment the American soldier makes for them everyday. Today less than half of 1% of all Americans are serving or know someone serving in the US military. Before the Draft ended in 1973 and the US went to an all-volunteer military that percentage was over 50%. With that huge drop in percentages has come ordinary Americans ignorance that the military is fighting its longest wars in history (14 years so far) and that US troops are in 150 countries with most doing an average of 4-6 deployments. Before 1973 the US asked something of the majority of its male citizens while today the US asks very little of its male or female citizens with a handful working constantly around the country and the world to protect us all. ^

CDN Buying Tourists

From the G & M:
"Harper announces spending to boost Canadian tourism in the U.S."
Ottawa will spend $30-million over three years to boost tourism promotion in the United States, hoping that the lower loonie and strengthening economy south of the border will send more tourists northbound. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement Friday in Berthier-Sur-Mer, Que., where he also announced money to renovate the Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site. The new temporary cash for the Canadian Tourism Commission marks a reversal of years of spending cuts at the federal Crown corporation, which has seen its base funding slashed by more than half since 2001. The commission had cut virtually all of its promotion efforts in the U.S. to save money and focus on other regions. Conservative Minister of State Maxime Bernier, who is responsible for tourism and the CTC, said those cuts were necessary to help the government balance the books. “Now we are re-investing in the CTC,” he said. Mr. Bernier said he will meet this summer with provincial tourism ministers to propose that they match $1.25 for every dollar Ottawa spends to promote Canada in the U.S. “We listened to the industry,” Mr. Bernier said in an interview. “I’m pretty confident that we’ll have more tourists from the U.S. after this announcement. Also, I’m convinced that the provinces and the private sector will also invest money in the U.S. market.” The plan to boost tourism promotion in the U.S. was first mentioned in the government’s April budget, but Friday’s announcement was the first time a dollar figure was attached. The effort is expected to be made up of several smaller campaigns that would work with industry groups to target specific demographics, such as skiers or foodies. The annual base funding for the CTC is currently around $58-million a year, meaning Friday’s announcement will increase its annual funding to about $68-million a year for the next three years. The organization’s budget was as high as $98.7-million in 2001, which works out to $126.6-million in today’s dollars after accounting for inflation. At that time, Canada was among the top 10 tourist destinations in the world. Americans made 591,965 overnight trips to Canada in March of this year, which represents a 7-per-cent jump over March, 2014. The U.S. is by far the main source country for tourists here, but travel from other countries is growing at a faster rate than the growth in tourism from States. There were 37,895 visitors to Canada from the United Kingdom in March – a 22.5-per-cent increase – and 22,778 visitors from China in March, a 23.9-per-cent jump. Latin America is also a growing source of tourists, with 18,614 people arriving in March, representing a 23.5-per-cent increase over March, 2014, according to the CTC. According to the federal government’s official tourism strategy, tourism represents about 2 per cent of Canada’s overall gross domestic product and directly employs about 594,500 people.
^ Most countries spend money overseas to get tourists and businesspeople to visit. ^

Disabled Leaders

From Disabled
A list of politicians and world leaders who currently hold or held office while having a significant physical disability
Argentina •Daniel Scioli, former vice president and current governor of Argentina's biggest province, in 1989 lost his right arm in an accident whilst racing on the Paraná river in the 1000 km Delta Argentino race.
•Batong Pham, former member of the Western Australian Legislative Council
•Graham Edwards, former Member of Parliament for Cowan (lost both legs during the Vietnam War).
•Gregor McGregor, early 20th century Labor federal Senator (blind).
•Kelly Vincent, member of the South Australian Legislative Council
•Rob Pyne, member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
Brazil •Golbery do Couto e Silva, chief of staff of Geisel and Figueiredo administrations (blind in one eye).
Cambodia •Hun Sen, Prime minister (blind in one eye due to a war wound).
•Conner Copeman, village councillor in Cumberland, British Columbia (quadriplegic with limited use of extremities after being beaten in a violent attack in Saskatoon).
•Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (visually impaired due to Graves' disease).
•Kent Hehr, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta (quadriplegic after being shot as a bystander in a drive-by shooting).
•Lucien Bouchard, former Ambassador to France, leader of the Bloc Québécois and Premier of Quebec (amputee due to necrotizing fasciitis).
•Manon Perreault, Member of Parliament for Montcalm (paraplegic).
•Marlene Jennings, Member of Parliament for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, partially blind due to detached retinas and cataracts.
•Michelle Stilwell, Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (quadriplegic).
•Pierre Sévigny, former Member of Parliament and Associate Minister of National Defence (amputee).
•Sam Sullivan, former Mayor of Vancouver (quadriplegic with limited use of his extremities).
•Stephanie Cadieux, Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (paraplegic).
•Steven Fletcher, Member of Parliament for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia (first quadriplegic MP).
Czech Republic •Jan Žižka, Czech general and Hussite leader, follower of Jan Hus. He took part in the civil wars in Bohemia in the reign of Wenceslaus IV.
Dominican Republic •Joaquín Balaguer, President, became blind due to glaucoma.
Ecuador •Lenín Moreno, Vice President of Ecuador 2007 - 2013, paraplegic.
Fiji •Iliesa Delana, member of Parliament and Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports (since 2014); leg amputee (due to an accident as a child) and Paralympic gold medallist.
•Antoine Pinay, Prime Minister of France (paralyzed right arm due to a World War I injury).
•Georges Couthon, one of the leaders of the French Revolution, was a paraplegic.
•Jean-Marie Le Pen, Member of the European Parliament and three-time presidential candidate (blind in his left eye).
•Louis XVIII, King of France, was paralysed by gout in his final years.
Germany •Wolfgang Schäuble, minister (currently of finance, formerly of the interior) and former CDU party chairman; wheelchair user since 1990 assassination attempt.
•Béla II, King of Hungary (1131 - 1141), was blinded by his father's political opponents in 1113
•Ferenc Hirt, Member of Parliament for Tamási (since 2006); wheelchair user due to a car accident since 1988
•Katalin Szili, Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary.
•David Rotem, member of the Knesset (polio).
•Ilan Gilon, member of the Knesset (paralyzed leg due to polio).
•Moshe Dayan, Defense Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel (lost his left eye in World War II).
•Moshe Matalon, member of the Knesset (paraplegic due to injury sustained in the Yom Kippur War).
•Ya'akov Katz, member of the Knesset (injury sustained in the Yom Kippur War).
•Zion Pinyan, member of the Knesset (polio).
Jamaica •Floyd Morris, President of the Senate. (Blind)
Malaysia •Karpal Singh, member of parliament for Bukit Gelugor (car accident left him a full-time wheelchair user with neurological problems in his right arm).
Mexico •Álvaro Obregón, President, lost his right arm in combat.
New Zealand •John A. Lee, MP 1922-1943, left arm amputee (war wound during the First World War).
•Guro Fjellanger, former Environment Minister (wheelchair user due to spina bifida).
•Tove Linnea Brandvik, former Member of the Parliament of Norway. In a wheelchair due to a neuromuscular disease.
Poland •Malgorzata Olejnik, member of Sejm.
•Said Amirov, former mayor of Makhachkala. Paralysed as a result of one of many assassination attempts.
•Vasily II, the Grand Prince of Moscow, was blinded by his captors in 1446, yet regained power and reigned until his death in 1462.
San Marino •Mirko Tomassoni, former Captain-Regent (paraplegic).
Solomon Islands •Martin Magga. Became seriously ill and wheelchair-bound in 2009 while serving as Minister for Health. Served as MP, in a wheelchair, until his death in 2014.
 Soviet Union •Vladimir Lenin, 1st Head of Government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, mute and bed-ridden after a series of strokes.
Sri Lanka •Senarath Attanayake, Member of Uva Provincial Council. The first elected representative with a disability in Sri Lanka. Also the first person with a disability to become a lawyer in Sri Lanka. Full-time wheelchair user due to polio infection at the age of 2 years.
United Kingdom
•Anne Begg, MP since 1997, wheelchair user.
•Colin Low, Baron Low of Dalston was born blind.
•David Blunkett, former Home Secretary, is blind since birth.
•David Maclean, Baron Blencathra, MP (1983 - 2010) currently sitting to the house of Lords, since 1996 has Multiple sclerosis.
•Davina Ingrams, 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth, member of the House of Lords, paralyzed from neck down following a car accident.
•Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister, is blind in one eye.
•Ian Fraser, Baron Fraser of Lonsdale, MP several times between 1924 and 1958, then first life peer appointed to the House of Lords in 1958, blinded in action during the First World War.
•Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, disabled rights activist and member of the House of Lords, was born with Spinal muscular atrophy.
•Nick Griffin, Chairman of the BNP, is blind in one eye, following an accident in 1990 involving a shotgun cartridge.
•Susan Cunliffe-Lister, Countess of Swinton and Baroness Masham of Ilton, politician, had several parts of her body paralysed following a car accident.
•Tanni Grey-Thompson, Baroness Grey-Thompson, disabled athlete and Member of the house of Lords, was born with Spina bifida.
United States
•Bob Dole, former U.S. Senator from Kansas and 1996 presidential candidate, has had a withered, useless arm since a World War II injury.
•Bob Kerrey, former Governor of Nebraska and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, lost one leg below the knee due to combat injury in the Vietnam War.
•Daniel Inouye, former U.S. Senator from Hawaii, lost his right arm due to grenade shrapnel in World War II.
•David Paterson, former Governor of New York, legally blind from birth.
•F. B. Teter, Member of the Washington House of Representatives (1919 - 1923), blind.
•Franklin D. Roosevelt, former President of the United States (paraplegic due to polio).
•George Wallace, former Governor of Alabama, paraplegic due to a bullet wound sustained in a 1972 assassination attempt.
•Greg Abbott, current Governor of Texas and former Texas Attorney General, paraplegic due to a 1984 freak accident when a falling oak tree hit him in the back.
•James Langevin, current U.S. Representative from Rhode Island, was injured in an accidental shooting when 16 and is now a quadriplegic.
•John McCain, current U.S. Senator from Arizona, limited use of arms and "off-kilter gait" due to torture as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
•John Porter East, former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, (paraplegic due to polio contracted in 1955).
•John Swainson, former Governor of Michigan, lost both legs due to a landmine in World War II.
•Jon Tester, current US Senator from Montana, lost 3 fingers in a meat grinding accident.
•Kristen Cox, 2006 Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, blind from Stargardt disease.
•Max Cleland, former U.S. Senator from Georgia, triple amputee (both legs and one arm) due to a grenade blast in the Vietnam War.
•Mo Udall, former U.S. Representative from Arizona, lost his right eye in a childhood accident.
•Tammy Duckworth, current U.S. Congresswoman from Illinois, lost both of her legs and damaged her right arm due to a rocket propelled grenade attack in the Iraq War.
•Thomas Gore, former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, blind from childhood accidents.
•Woodrow Wilson, former President of the United States, partially paralyzed due to a stroke.

^ This shows that no matter what your disability you can still lead an active and productive life - including being in the government. ^