Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Night The World Watched

I remember, eight years ago when news filtered of Bush winning the 2000 election. Most of my Muslim friends in the US had been ardent supporters of the Republican ticket, driven mostly by anti-semitism (I fear) caused by the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

It was a long fight, but ultimately Gore conceded. I remember it rained on inauguration day. Thousands of protesters lined up to snarl at Bush's parade. Under black umbrellas and dark clouds, Bush took the oath of office, and an equally dark chapter began in America's history.

I remember, four years ago, when I stayed with CNN late in the night, hoping the result would turn, and then, on getting up in the morning, finding that Kerry had conceded the election. My mind thought the thought that an English paper The Daily Mirror had printed so eloquently - "How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?".

Yesterday, at 11 pm, as CNN made the historic projection, it seemed as if America had finally laid the ghosts of the Bush regime to rest.

Whereas the night had been dark and gloomy eight years ago, last night was crisp, bright, clear. The weather, as if on cue, was brilliant and unseasonably warm.

The celebrations - I have seen nothing like it following a political election. It was as if a team had won the World Series, or a country had won the World Cup. A colleague remarked to me this profound though, "I think the American people, whether they knew it or not, were oppressed. And they could feel it. For the last eight years, their freedoms have been suppressed, and their many rights slowly taken away, and their nation pillaged. Yesterday, something changed."

Now, as the USA embarks on a new era, I am reminded once more as to why, despite its many faults, America still remains a leader amongst nations, a truly great country, and a shining example of its ideals to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

US Presidential Debate 3 - Live Blogging

8.53 pm - CNN gathers their focus group - another bunch of idiots undecided voters. How can ANY one be undecided at this time?

8.55 pm - Boy, this election is still dragging on. Our election was up and running much later and was done and dusted by yesterday.

8.58 pm - Another older moderator. Where are the hot young newsreader women?

9.01 pm - Breaking news - McCain shakes hand with "that" one.

9.03 pm - McCain says it's good to see you Bob. And then he turns and says "Senator Obama". And that's it.

9.05 pm - "The fundamentals of the economy are weak." Says Obama. The question was WHY is your plan better than his, not WHAT is your plan. As like before, no one answers the question. Obama again says "Senator McCain and I agree ..."

9.08 pm - McCain talks about some Joe that Obama met. Joe the Plumber - that's the name. Can you get any more generic than that?

9.09 pm - McCain: "Senator Obama will raise taxes." Obama: "He will cut taxes for oil companies." Rinse, repeat. I wonder why McCain brings this up - it just gives Obama a chance to state his plan again.

9.11 pm - McCain brings up the tax plan again. Joe the Plumber. I am sure he has a point but he is struggling to make it.

9.13 pm - NOW McCain brings his point, comparing tax rates between Ireland and USA. Just as he is making his point, the moderator shifts the topic. Poor luck!

9.15 pm - "Borrowing money from China to send to Saudi Arabia" is how Obama describes the current energy policy of USA. I like it.

9.18 pm - Again, I am wondering how such a projector in a planetarium can cost $3 million?

9.21 pm - "Senator Obama, I am not Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush you should have run 4 years ago." With that, McCain scores the first zinger of the evening.

9.24 pm - "If I am mistaking you for Bush it's because you agree with him most of the time, and propose another 8 years of the same!" Obama responds. Meh.

9.25 pm - The moderator asks the men to say face to face what their campaigns have told everyone. This should be interesting.

9.30 pm - You said I was bad, no you did! No you did! Nah nah nah ...

9.32 pm - McCain somehow schools Obama after being schooled. It's a funny thing this - McCain looks grumpy but somehow manages to get a zinger or two.

9.37 pm - Obama's strategy seems to be to get McCain to make accusations so he can refute them on national TV. It works because he doesn't get to "lose the debate", get time on TV and serves McCain no good.

9.41 pm - Joe Biden vs Sarah Palin. Who do you think is better? Gee, that's a tough one.

9.45 pm - Obama tears down McCain's support of spending freeze while spending on autism. McCain tears down Joe Biden.

9.47 pm - Zzzzz .. wait! They mentioned Canada!

Obama: "Oh yes, when Obama said he would renegotiate NAFTA the Canadians (that's us, wave!) said we would sell our oil to China." Hmm, I don't remember that.

9.51 pm - Obama gives a solid reply. Lot of facts, few nuances. My union buddy would love Obama's response. Full of protectionism. In this, I am with McCain. If Obama wants to renegotiate NAFTA, we got two words. "Softwood lumber".

9.54 pm - Somehow I think this debate is going McCain's way just because Obama is not attacking him.

9.55 pm - McCain: "Obama doesn't wanna free trade with our best ally while sit across the table with our worst enemy". Zing!

9.59 pm - Please explain your health plans.

Obama: If you got health coverage plan keep it. If you don't, take mine!

McCain: Go to Canada.

10.03 pm - Obama tears apart McCain's health plan. McCain talks to Joe the Plumber again. Maybe Obama can pick Florence the Nurse?

10.06 pm - McCain thinks he has zinged Obama on the health plan but Obama simply picks apart his argument without making a sweat.

10.08 pm - Roe v Wade. To their credit, both candidates state their positions on abortion clearly, unlike Kerry last time who waffled. Again, I am surprised at how progressive Canada is compared to the States.

PS. McCain is pro-life? Since when? 2007?

10.15 pm - Abortion. Abortion. Yawn. Thankfully the moderator aborts the discussion.

10.16 pm - I am just waiting for the debate to be over. This debate has been very engaging and boring. Somehow this is possible.

10.19 pm - How do you educate young Americans? By boring them to death, apparently.

10.21 pm - The undecided voters think both are speaking well.

Obama: "The fact of the matter is ..."

McCain: "We need to ... we need to ..."

10.23 pm - McCain: "Bush wanted to fix the problem - "No child left behind" - but he messed it up so you need me to fix it."

10.27 pm - Hurray, closing statements.

10.28 pm - McCain: "We cannot afford 8 years of the same - huh? - I fight every body, their party, my party, myself (from 2006) ... there's a long line of McCains who served the USA, and I wanna serve again."

10.29 pm - Obama: "The sky is falling, the economy is down, the end times are here. So we can NOT have the last 8 years again. I am change you need. Tax cuts. Health care. Jobs. Higher wages. Ponies for every body."

Verdict: Meh.

I think Obama came out ahead because he didn't lose. Or, as McCain told him when he shook his hand again, "Good job".

PS. Did Michelle Obama gain weight?

PS. Michelle looks hot.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

US Presidential Debate 2 - Live Blogging

8.53 pm - 'Perception analyzer' - probably the most over-hyped product on CNN.

9.01 pm - wow, just had a look at the moderator. Apparently John McCain won't be the oldest fossil on stage!

9.04 pm - "A lot of you are worried," says Obama. "This is the fault of Bush and McCain." All this in answer to what he would do. And then he talks some talking points.

9.06 pm - "Senator Obama, good to be with you here tonight." McCain says. First lie of the evening.

9.10 pm - Who would you appoint as Secretary of Treasury? Both Obama and McCain gave the same answer - "Warren Buffet". But Obama didn't say this time "Senator McCain is absolutely right."

9.11 pm - Ouch! Obama just says "Senator McCain is right we have to stabilize blah blah..."

9.12 pm - "Senator Obama and his cronies ..." Oh my, that's low, McCain. Low!

9.16 pm - Very good, polished, dare I say, presidential reply to McCain's charge. He is continuing his cool demeanor from the first debate.

9.19 pm - "There's blame on both sides but it's all George Bush McCain's fault." Obama should be a lawyer.

WHAT is a "net spending cut"?

9.21 pm - I can't focus on what McCain is saying, as he keeps moving around too much. I notice Obama stands at one spot. McCain goes attacking Obama now. Boy is he nasty.

9.26 pm - What will you prioritize? McCain says everything and Obama lists them in order. And who says who doesn't have a plan?

I am reminded of Dion's statement "Do you think it's easy to make priorities?"

9.29 pm - McCain brings up a Chicago projector again. "We have to have a spending freeze." And then he says "defense". "We are not rifle shots, we are Americans."

9.30 pm - Obama is now for offshore drilling. He then tells everyone to be green. Seems to have looked up Dion's Green Shift.

9.33 pm - Obama is doing a Clinton, bringing up normal, every day examples. Teacher living in a budget, CEO = bad guy and so on. "McCain wants to use a hatchet to cut the federal budget while I want to use a scapel."

9.35 pm - "Obama is Jello", says McCain. What?

9.40 pm - Wow, Obama is on fire. McCain is king of bad jokes.

9.41 pm - McCain's solution to everything: We gotta seat down at the table and reach across the aisle ...

9.44 pm - McCain: "Senator Obama wants nuclear power that is safe. Haha, chicken! I have been on navy ships that are nuclear powered. It's safe!"

I am paraphrasing of course. Not!

9.46 pm - Again, Obama points out there is something he and McCain agree on. But this it's a dig on him.

9.48 pm - McCain: Obama voted for a bill with goodies. I voted against. Actually he doesn't even say "Senator Obama". He says "that man". Wow, low. *UPDATE* it looks like he said "that one", not "that man" (as per the comments). Even lower!

9.50 pm - Obama gets a question on healthcare. This should be a softball. "We have a moral commitment to do something." Obama then gives a step by step plan. Any bets McCain will say "my friends" and "we have to work across the aisle"?

"What one hand giveth the other hand taketh away" is how Obama describes McCain's health plan.

9.54 pm - "We have to give Americans choice, not mandate healthcare." That's McCain's take. He didn't even mention reaching across the aisle. *Sniff*

9.56 pm - Obama brings up his mother and her cancer death bed. *sniff*

I have to say again Obama is on fire. He countering charges effectively and he sounds more genuine.

"Did we hear the fine?" McCain's bad joke #3.

10.00 pm - McCain gets his own softball, a question about US army deployments as a peacemaker. McCain shines on this, saying he opposed Lebanon and so on.

"Short career" and "on the job training" is how McCain characterizes Obama.

Obama sidesteps the surge smear and deftly maneuver Iraq as McCain's bad judgment.

10.06 pm - "If we don't act (when there's genocide and ethnic cleansing) it diminishes us." Obama doctrine.

10.07 pm - "I know US military situations. I have been here all my life. I know what to do." McCain doctrine.

10.09 pm - Obama is asked a question on Pakistan. He should be able to clear this without any problem.

"Pakistan is the Central front on the war on terrorism." I am guessing some of my Pakistani friends supporting Obama must be thrilled.

10.12 pm - "... same strategy that succeeded in Iraq ..." says McCain. A strategy that succeeded in Iraq?

10.13 pm - "If he gets a follow-up I want a follow-up" McCain rants. He is justified but looks petty. Unfortunately.

10.15 pm - McCain repeats "I know what is it like to handle young Marines". Sounds dirty!

"I am not going to telegraph my punches." McCain gets a good joke finally. And then, "I have been a military person."

10.17 pm - Amazingly, Obama is schooling McCain on foreign policy. McCain repeats "General Patreaus." He must be McCain's favorite general.

Finally McCain says "Obama is correct in ..."

10.20 pm - "We have got to show moral support for Georgia." This is McCain's home turf, and he speaks correctly and convincingly on the Russian threat.

Obama: "We have to see around the corners. I put out a statement last blah blah ..."

"We tend to be reactive." Obama again brings up Iraq.

10.24 pm - "Is Russia an evil empire? Yes or no?"

Obama gives a long winded reply.

McCain: "Maybe!"

Haha, second good joke of the day. Then he says the same thing as Obama but it is funnier.

10.28 pm - Mandatory Israel question. Mandatory Israel rah rah from both the candidates. McCain gives the more passionate reply. Obama has the more explanatory one.

10.31 pm - "What don't you know and how will you rectify that" is the question.

"Ask my wife," says Obama, to great laughter. It's a great funny line.

"It's never the challenges that you expect it's those that you never thought of".

10.33 pm - "What I don't know is what is the unexpected", is McCain's response. Boooo-ring.

However, a great closing line. "Put my country first."

Verdict: I give this debate to Obama hands down.

Friday, September 26, 2008

US Presidential Debate 1 - Live Blogging

9.07 pm - McCain brings up Ted Kennedy (to me it sounds tacky - an obvious ploy to be classy).

9.20 pm - Did Obama just promise a tax cut for 95% of the USA, AND promise to build schools and bridges and stuff? Wow.

9.27 pm - God this is boring already. They are not going after each other at all. Memorized set pieces.

9.30 pm - "Using a hatchet where a scalpel is needed" - fantastic line from Obama.

9.37 pm - Obama goes after McCain - "you agree 90% of the time with Bush!"

9.39 pm - McCain gives a feeble reply and then brings up "I have been in Senate for a long time". Reference to his experience?

9.40 pm - McCain reply to Iraq is standard. "We are winning in Iraq, general is good, etc. etc."

9.41 pm - Obama's reply hasn't set any fires either. He says what he has to say (I disagreed / we should have been in Afghanistan). He should have accused John McCain of lack of proper judgment (bring up the 100 years).

9.43 pm - Brings up the surge which should be a plus point. Rightly brings up the O' Reilly show and Obama's daft comment ("surge worked"). Obama's reply should be interesting.

Obama says McCain thinks war started in 2007. Brings up early quotes and the slam "you were wrong". McCain is grinning like an idiot.

Now it's getting interesting. McCain says Obama doesn't understand the difference between tactic and strategy.

9.46 pm - McCain gets emotional (or tries to) with a story about how soldiers are running up to re-enlist to go to Iraq. Obama's background "this is not true" is not enough. He has to be forceful.

Obama explains his funding troops issue because it was a timetable issue. Question is - will it fly?

Obama is spending too much time on was this a wise war. He should pull out the bus into a ditch story he used in the debates against Hillary.

Did I say this debate is boring?

9.50 pm - McCain is pulling out names. He is boring, and I don't understand the point he is trying to make.

However Obama is not countering him forcefully. They are too used to being scripted.

9.51 pm - Obama rises to the Afghanistan issue. He says no one in Iraq has anything to do with 9-11. He says there was no Al Qaeda there. He says he always wanted to put troops there (should be music to Harper's ears).

Obama just mentioned Pakistan! When will he say he will bomb it? Now he brings up poppy trade.

AH PAKISTAN. "We have got to deal with Pakistan!" Let's see ...

9.53 pm - McCain replies. He promises not to abandon the Afghanistan again like they abandoned freedom fighters after they fought off the Russians. Does he know those freedom fighters are now the Taliban?

"I am not prepared to threaten Pakistan at this point." Good line. Works.

Obama is being schooled by McCain on the Afghanistan issue. Unbelievable.

9.56 pm - Obama is not blocking McCain at all.

"Pakistan is a very important element in all this."

Now, Obama is explaining his "bomb Pakistan" speech.

Haha, Obama brought up 'bomb Iran' and North Korea speech of McCain. This is good, now.

"If Pakistan is unwilling to cooperate we have to make some decisions," says Obama.

"We were anti-democratic," says Obama. Boy, he got guts to say that.

Now McCain calls Pakistan a 'failed state' when Musharref came to power.

So far Obama has come back with some effect on the Afghanistan issue.

9.58 pm - McCain brings up Bosnia, Kosovo and some other thing (yawn). Oh ya, Somalia. Why is he bringing that up? What has it go to do with Afghanistan. Oh, he has a record of being involved with national security issues, he says.

10.00 pm - One hour gone and so far no fireworks or gotcha moments. How long is this again?

Obama is now saying "he got a bracelet too". What? First time on live TV presidential candidates are debating on who is wearing bracelets.

"Let no US soldier die in vain again".

If you have a drink to every time Obama said "John you are absolutely right" and "our troops are doing a good job" you would be drunk by now.

"We are having enormous problems in Afghanistan because of Iraq."

He brings up McCain's "muddle through Afghanistan" comment.

10.02 pm - McCain scolds Obama for not visiting Afghanistan. He knows his VP pick got a passport only last year, right?

10.03 pm - Iran comes up. This should play to McCain's strength. Will he bring up Obama's readiness to talk to that leader?

Israel makes its first appearance.

"We cannot have a second holocaust." Woah! Did he watch Palin's interview?

Now he says Iran is lousy. They have a lousy government and their economy sucks, something to that effect. So if Iran has a nuclear weapon this is a threat to Israel and the world. I get it - Iran sucks.

OK. So what are you going to do about it?

10.06 pm - Obama correctly says Iraq war has emboldened Iran.

"Senator McCain is absolutely right." Again? Grrr!

Says he wants tougher sanctions.

"Tough diplomacy." Again, Obama brings it upon himself to bring that topic.

10.08 pm - McCain then latches on to this comment, saying talking with Ahmedinajad would give him a propaganda platform. "This will legitimize their behavior".

"I will sit down with anybody, but there has to be preconditions." McCain declares. Seriously he is more Bush while Bush is now more Obama.

10.10 pm - Obama says McCain's own adviser Kissinger says US should talk with Iran without preconditions. Very good gotcha moment, but next minute he mumbles the difference with preconditions and preparations.

Um, tough to say. Kissinger will surely come out with a reply now in McCain's favour.

10.12 pm - Obama says McCain doesn't even want to meet with a NATO ally, the President of Spain. He didn't expand on that.

McCain says he doesn't even have a seal! Haha, this is good stuff now. He calls Obama's approach "dangerous", followed by "he doesn't understand".

10.16 pm - The moderator cuts off just as they were getting fired up. McCain spews a great joke about a supposed meeting between Iranian President and Obama to great laughter.

10.19 pm - Obama explains his position on Russia, followed by McCain. McCain is very calm and cool and spews a lot of names.

"I saw three letters in Putin's eyes. K-G-B." Good quote. Wonder if Putin is watching.

10.24 pm - Obama follows McCain's cool explanation (and history lesson) with a proper explanation of its own. He is holding his own on Russia and Georgia.

In some ways this debate is boring but in other ways it is showing up the very different characteristics of the two men. McCain reacts and is on-the-spur whereas Obama can see the big picture and nuances with foresight.

10.29 pm - Will we have another 9/11? Ooooh.

A pause of silence. I think both candidates are shocked at the question.

McCain says we are safer but not safe yet.

Obama says we are safer in some ways. Er ... Will you say your opponent is right again!

Yes! Obama praises McCain on the torture issue (really! shut up about him already.) but fails to mention that McCain changed his mind on the torture issue lately.

McCain again says Obama doesn't understand.

10.32 pm - Obama makes a great point summation that over the last 8 years the focus on Iraq has made them less safer - "weakened our capacity to project our power throughout the world".

I see another Liblogger Last Canadian Exit... is also live-blogging the debate.

10.35 pm - McCain says he knows the veterans know he will take care of them. Wow. It sounds good. Republicans are all about good sound bytes.

Aha! Obama talks about his Kenyan father. And American dream. You can tell he is dying to give a speech!

Aha! McCain brings up his POW experience. He says he doesn't need any on-the-job training. Ouch. This is a nasty old man.

10.37 pm - It's over. I think I can safely call this a boring 0-0 draw.

Dion wishes Muslims on Laylat al-Qadr

Today I was pleasantly surprised to see a statement from Stéphane Dion, the leader of the Liberal party and the Hon. Leader of the Opposition in Canada.
On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all of you who observe Laylat al-Qadr during Ramadan.

As this is the holiest night of Ramadan, when the Qur’an was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad by God, I know that you and your families will be taking this opportunity to pray, to reflect and to meditate.

I would like to highlight the important lessons that come from this spiritual evening. This night teaches values of sincerity and forgiveness which I believe should be a part of every person’s life. Your culture and religion, which espouses these principles, help to demonstrate the richness of diversity that Canada has and our country is a better place for it.

As you gather at your mosques or in your homes with loved ones tonight, I wish you a rewarding day.[source]
It's really reaching out to Muslims. I have seen politicians greet us on Eid before, but this is specific, man.

And then we have Walmart with Ramadan specials to know we have truly arrived!As an aside you gotta love how Walmart has 2-for-1 (Ramadan AND Eid Mubarak) on one banner - truly lower costs!).

One person is missing in action though - our Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Listerio-gate and the $70 billion plan

Elections are all about moments.

Today, Dion had two moments gift-wrapped to him.

The first - Dion's 70 billion dollar plan to invest in infrastructure. By all counts it's a winning plan and it's a great plan.

1) In times of recession (which is what we are under now regardless of what Flaherty says), the government should spend in building infrastructure (roads, transits, etc) as these are great for not only helping you out of recession, but for future needs.

2) Who can say no to more transit and roads and bridges?

3) And where's Harper's plan to tackle Toronto's crowded streets and Montreal's crumbling bridges?

The second, a cabinet minister who jokes about people dying. I saw one post title on Liblogs that captured the sentiment perfectly.


Even Bill Carol on 1010 CFRB in the morning (a strong conservative) was aghast at this guy. This is a resignation offense. I would attack Harper in the debates with this.

"You had the option sir. You could have fired him. You chose not to."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Harper in Favour of Selling off Canada's Natural Resources?

Dion is missing doing one thing this election.

Setting the agenda by announcing new policies.

Today, however, Harper has offered him a golden chance.

Harper would relax foreign ownership rules

Even though it's a Friday, we must get on this and be all over Harper immediately.

Do we really want more of our natural resources in the hands of the Chinese, Indians and Americans?

Already, most Canadian businesses know the routine - have a great idea, run a great business, and then when you reach a critical mass, be bought by a larger American company.

Our mines and mineral wealth are eagerly eyed by the growing Chinese, and our water and energy always precious to the Americans. Kissinger once famously said, "What is ours is ours. What is theirs is negotiable."

And to that type of mindset, WHY do we need to make ourselves easier to sell?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

UPS and Skirts

I have been following these stories with some interest.

Muslims fired over long skirts, tribunal told

Worker hiked skirt to be safer at work

As an armchair critic I have to say UPS is wrong on this issue and they have to change their guidelines if necessary to ensure these women's religious guidelines are met.

There are no two ways about this - a Muslim woman HAS to cover to below her knees. It is not the case they they are applying to Hooters for a job - a job which is basically at odds with their religion. These women were applying to be line workers at UPS and those jobs should be open to everyone.

There is a line in the sand and the UPS guidelines cross it.

It is not the case that Harper can make about women needing to unveil their faces for identification - something not mandated by law by the way - the safety guidelines that exist are either outdated with today's society or exist for more malicious reasons - and need to be changed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Harper's To Lose

And so we are off.

At this moment I have to confess it is hard for me to imagine how Dion would win this election. From the Star:
Harper will run on his record, outlining the tax-cutting promises kept since the 2006 campaign, and slammed the Liberal "green shift" plan to tax carbon fuels and offset the impact with other income tax cuts and subsidies for hard-hit sectors and individuals as a risky gamble.
I believe Dion hadn't had time to fully sell his Green Shift to the general population.

At work, hardly many people know the details of the Green Shift. More people know about the tax increase on pollutants than the income tax relief that Dion has proposed. With the Green Party also doing well, Dion could leak support to them as well.

All in all, it will come down to the English debates where Dion has to invoke a "gotcha" moment vs Harper - and I am not a big optimist that his English will improve sufficiently in time.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Sensitivity Training For Pearson Staff

The Toronto Star is reporting that Canada Border Services Agency is putting officials through sensitivity training so they can appropriately deal with Arab and Muslim travelers.

This is of course welcome news. As a manager we personally negotiate or deal with people of other cultures all the time - and thus we take cultural sensitivity training. For example, in North America when people negotiate, the terms are usually very clear and everyone is eager to get a deal and time is a constraint. We don't mix business with pleasure. However when you negotiate with the Mexicans or Indians, they like to take their own sweet time. This is NOT a delaying tactic - they have a culture of getting to "know" the person they are dealing with and cultivating relations. Time is fluid and "there is always tomorrow" and a deal may not be very specific in the details.

Once you KNOW this, then you know this is something you can always use to your advantage. Sensitivity training never hurt anyone. Thus I find the attitude of the union representative in the article very selfish, self serving and borderline racist (no pun intended).
I do think that once they become a Canadian and they live among us, that they should pick up our ways and not have us picking up their ways.
Let alone the fact that some Arabs and Muslims may be travellers and not Canadian, so they DON'T have to "act Canadian" (whatever that means). Sensitivity training actually helps border agents do a better job.

For one, they don't waste their time on nothing cases. To quote the example in the article, many Muslim women come from cultures where they don't look an authority figure in the eye as a sign of respect. So while she is respecting you, you think she has something to hide and pull her over for scrutiny. So of course she is going to feel discriminated again, while you merely did your duty by acting on a valid suspicion (which you SHOULD do). She will them complain and an inquiry will be filed against you and you will go through the whole rigamarole at the end of which you will be found not guilty and she will be unhappy and you will be unhappy at going through the ordeal. So in the end, having that piece of cultural insight would have been good and advantageous for all concerned.

Second, WHY in God's name would you object to being paid by work for NOT doing work? We used to love those courses our offices sent us on, as that meant taking a paid break while relaxing in a course and eating free food. Me thinks the border guards doth protest too much.