Aug. 31 -- Two Iraqis and two Saudis are among 19 men arrested by police in connection with the bombing of the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf.
Two Iraqis and two Saudis grabbed shortly after the Friday attack gave information leading to the arrest of the others, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. They include two Kuwaitis and six Palestinians with Jordanian passports with the remainder Iraqis and Saudis, the official said, without giving a breakdown.Colour me not surprised.
Initial information shows the foreigners entered Iraq (news - web sites) from Kuwait, Syria and Jordan, the official said, adding that they belong to the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.
"They are all connected to al-Qaida," the official said.
(Via On The Third Hand.)
Aug. 31 -- This is an insightful, satiric account of the Great Blog War between Monkey Boy and Darth Puppy Blender from Anger Management:
There is no Part III yet. (Big whopping hint, AG)
(Via Classical Values.)
Aug. 31 -- Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian woman kidnapped by Columbia guerillistas while campaigning for election as president has made a video appeal:
The video, broadcast Saturday night, was the first sign that Betancourt might still be alive since rebels released a different tape in July 2002.It was on her behalf that French Foreign Min. Dominique de Villepin made a unilateral attempt to secure her freedom last July without informing either the Brazilian, Columbian and possibly even French governments of his plans. It is still a bit of a mystery what de Villepin intended to trade for her freedom, although it is suspected that money, weapons, or both were to be used.
There was no way of confirming when the tape was made.
"A rescue, yes, definitely, but not just any rescue," said Betancourt, who appeared in good health in the video shown by Noticias Uno. "It's important that it be the president who directly makes this decision," referring to Colombia President Alvaro Uribe.
Hmm, the Reuters links to the French caper have disappeared, but here one from Free Republic.
Aug. 31 -- Remember the attack on the Indian Parliament in Dec., 2001? The man accused of being the mastermind and several of his terrorist associates were killed in a shootout with Indian police.
That attack nearly propelled India and Pakistan into war. Good riddance to Ghazi Baba, and sincere condolences to the familes of the slain policemen.
Aug. 31 -- I'm going to do a somewhat lengthy preface before I get to the meat of this post, so please just bear with me because I could easily be misunderstood in this matter and don't want to be.
Even as events were unfolding on Sept. 11, I tried to hold onto my reason against paranoid thoughts and counselled myself to breathe deeply and think. I know that both irrational fears and intense fury can turn us into lynch mobs to the point that we later reflect and ask ourselves My God, what have we done.
But, even knowing all this, I confronted a steel within myelf that day which has never left me: I am willing to kill to protect my land and my values. I know how to aim, load and fire. On Sept. 10, I would have hesitated to pull the trigger. On Sept. 12, I would have fired several times.
Never, never underestimate the intense debt we owe to the passengers and crew of Flight 93. I may die, but I'm taking you bastards with me before you can murder my people.
Yeah, I scare me. My countrymen scare me. I know us; I know that even in the most timid there is a fire that has never been quite extinguished and try as they might, the transnationalists have never succeeded in making us forget that we're here in America because we didn't want to stay there wherever there was, and we don't want to go back there. It's a simple corollary from that to why would I listen to those fools in Europe now when I already ran as fast as I could away from them?
When I've confided all that to Canadian friends, many look patronizingly comforting and think she'll get over it. Well, I haven't. I won't. Until Canada is attacked, no one here can state with absolute confidence what they'll do and think. Somehow, however, I believe that whatever the Feds say, most Canadians will revolt at being told to Pay Tribute and Move On.
Yesterday, The Canadian posted "Islam Uber Allies" which linked to this article on Front Page Magazine and I'll admit that, although I wasn't entirely dismissive, I was a bit skeptical because I wanted to be. It violates my world view, you see, because I believe that people emigrate to a new country because they wish to be remade, not because they wish to remake their new homes.
I guess it goes without saying that had I read something like this two years ago I would have rolled my eyes, muttered some liberal stuff, and clicked onward to other web sites.
Had I read this article one year and eleven months ago I would have bookmarked it for future reference but retained some skepticism and filed it under future considerations.
On the one hand we have the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Canadian Muslim Congress and their shrill, racist-baiting responses whenever anyone is detained. On the other we have Muslim residents of Dearborn Michigan who took to the streets to celebrate the fall of Baghdad, and the Muslim community in Rochester, NY, who contacted the FBI because of some odd behaviour it had noticed among those who were ultimately convicted.
I believe in the depth of my heart that many of the breakthroughs we've had in tracking down and rounding up those in terrorist cells have come from tips from the Muslim communities in North America and Europe. I can't prove it; it's just something I chose to believe.
Today I don't know what to think about things like the article in Front Page Magazine, but I do know that I can't stop trying to work this out and trying to find a new world view that accomodates both my basic confidence in my fellow humans and my willingness to defend those things which I cherish.
There is in this, as in all things, a balance, and it is finding the balance that is our biggest challenge and could be our greatest triumph.
I say all that as a preface to the following link to Australian news Pacific plot in book of terror that contains some rather frightening aspects of Jemaah Islamiya, the group accused of bombing Christian churches in 2000, the Bali bombings of Oct. 2002, and the recent bombings in Jakarta.
It's difficult to read, as was the Front Page Magazine article, because it violates some truths we've always held dear. What is striking, though, is that Australia is confronting many of the same problems as Canada in that they embrace values of inclusion and diversity yet have drawn a line in the sand against terrorism, and I suspect a lot of Australians are reading this article (or, did, given the time difference) with much the same discomfort level as I.
TERRORIST group Jemaah Islamiyah has drawn up plans for a suicide bombing campaign designed to transform Asia and the Pacific region into Islamic provinces.(I've copied the entire text because I know that the required Java console can be a pain for loading pages.)
The scheme is revealed in a 40-page manifesto - the Pupji book or General Guide to the Struggle of JI - which also shows that Jemaah Islamiyah is a well-formed organisation with a constitution, rules of operation, and leadership structure.
The book refers to "love of Jihad in the path of God and love of dying as a martyr" as one of the group's 10 guiding principles.
It shows that JI is not just a loose amalgamation of extremists which can be paralysed by the arrests of senior figures.
Events since the Bali bombing also demonstrate that the group has moved to embrace suicide bombings as a preferred method of achieving its aims.
Until Bali, JI had not adopted suicide bombings, despite its constitution approving them.
It has now carried out at least two, including the bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta.
The book was secretly used in the trials of the Bali bombers to draw out evidence about the organisation behind the murders of 202 people, including 89 Australians.
But prosecutors did not reveal that the source of their apparent insights into JI came directly from the organisation's own manifesto.
The Pupji book refers to the education and training of members in physical fitness and weapons.
Written in a combination of Bahasa Indonesian and Arabic, the book was discovered by police during a raid on a Solo home in central Java last December.
In that raid, men now known as the "Solo Group" were arrested for helping to shelter alleged JI leader and accused Bali bombing controller, Mukhlas.
Prosecutors have used contents from the book to help them question Mukhlas in his ongoing trial.
Information from the book also was used at the Jakarta trial of alleged JI spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir.
A verdict in Bashir's treason trial will be handed down tomorrow.
High-ranking JI members have told the court they have read the Pupji which is said to have been written by co-founder of JI, the late Abdullah Sungkar.
The book includes flowcharts of the JI hierarchal structure and illustrates how the organisation works. It does not include names of any members.
It reveals the group is led by an amir or supreme leader.
The amir appoints leadership councils, the advisory council, edict council and legal council. Under them are regional groups known as Mantiqi.
All members must swear a compulsory oath of loyalty to the amir.
The Pupji says funding for JI comes from contributions, donations and acceptable sources.
While the book does not refer specifically to bombing operations or violent campaigns to kill westerners, oblique reference is made in the section on "strength development operations".
This talks about combat operations in which education and training is imperative in subjects such as physical fitness and weapons training, tactical thinking, strategic thinking, leadership and vision.
The basic reason, I think, that this is hard to take seriously is because we became much too dismissive during the Cold War about allegations of communist plots and spies. It was all propaganda, you know, forgetting that the Soviet and Chinese blocs were also spinning propaganda.
Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist, and there's been too many conspiracy theories about the assassination of JFK for anyone to be certain anymore about his guilt or innocence.
Sen. Joe McCarthy had nothing to do with the House of Un-American Activities because duh, it was a House committee and he was a Senator. When Ann Coulter pointed that out, I gasped in humiliation that I'd missed so obvious a breakdown in logic.
Two things we did learn after the fall of the Soviet Union is that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty, and Alger Hiss was a communist who maintained relations with the USSR.
I was a useful idiot in the 60's and 70's.
You can look it up.
Aug. 30 -- The verdict has been delayed to allow lawyers to make final arguments in the case of Canadian evangelist Bruce Balfour who is in a Lebanese jail charged with collaborating with Israel. The Lebanese government had received information that Balflour had travelled between Lebanon and Israel in a way that aroused suspicions.
Court is to resume on Monday.
Aug. 30 -- Two Steyn columns, and one especially for the downtrodden Canadian and American masses (that's us!)
This Labour Day weekend, I find myself thinking about the working class, the masses.The second is classic Mark Steyn. He takes a look at the wrangling between the Blair government and the BBC and manages to get it in one sentence:
No, honestly, I do. Okay, I’m on the beach, but the folks around me lying on the sand have jobs they'll be getting back to on Tuesday. They work. They would be classed as workers. But they're not a homogeneous "working class," they're not conscripts in Karl Marx's "masses." The transformation of Labour Day, from a celebration of workers' solidarity to a cook-out, is the perfect precis of the history of Anglo-American capitalism.
And then we move to the Hutton Inquiry for a clip of the BBC chairman launching an extraordinary attack on the Government for its extraordinary attack on the BBC for its extraordinary attack on the Government."He has to get a little help from Abbott and Costello, though.
Aug. 30 -- I was inspired to search through my mailbox to retrieve this gem sent by some dear friends on Cape Breton Island.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN EACH PROVINCE!
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
2. Vancouver: 1.5 million people and two bridges.
3. The local hero is a pot-smoking snowboarder.
4. The local wine doesn't taste like malt vinegar.
5. Your $400,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown.
6. A university with a nude beach.
7. You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations.
8. If a cop pulls you over, just offer them some of your hash.
9. There's always some sort of deforestation protest going on.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN ALBERTA
1. Big Rock between you and B.C.
2. Ottawa who?
3. Tax is 7 percent instead of approximately 200 percent for the of the country.
4. The Premier is a fat, alcoholic who is easy to make fun of.
5. Flames vs. Oilers.
6. Stamps vs. Eskies.
7. You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.
8. You live in the only province that could actually afford to be it's own country.
9. The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups.
10. You can attempt to murder your rich oil tycoon husband and get away with it.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN SASKATCHEWAN
1. You never run out of wheat.
2. Ten months of winter and 2 months of poor skating.
3. Cruise control takes on a whole new meaning.
4. Your province is really easy to draw.
5. You never have to worry about roll-back if you have a standard shift.
6. It takes you two weeks to walk to your neighbour's house.
7. YOUR Roughriders survived.
8. You can watch the dog run away from home for hours.
9. People will assume you live on a farm.
10. Buying a huge John Deere mower makes sense.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN MANITOBA
1. You wake up one morning to find you suddenly have beachfront property.
2. Amusing town names like "Flin Flon" and "Winnipeg".
3. All your local bands make it big and move to Toronto.
4. The only province to ever violently rebel against the federal government.
5. Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes.
6. Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter.
7. You don't need a car, just take the canoe to work.
8. You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.
9. Because of your licence plate, you are still friendly even when you cut someone off.
10. Pass the time watching trucks and barns float by.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN ONTARIO
1. You live in the center of the universe.
2. Your $400,000 Toronto home is actually a dump.
3. You and you alone decide who will win the federal election.
4. There's no such thing as an Ontario Separatist. Separate from what? You are the centre of the universe.
5. Your grandparents sold booze to the States during Prohibition.
6. Lots of tourists come to Toronto because they mistakenly believe it's a cool city.
7. The only province with hard-core American-style crime.
8. Much Music's Speaker's Corner - rant and rave on national TV for a dollar.
9. Baseball fans park on your front lawn and pee on the side of your house.
10. Mike Harris: basically a sober Ralph Klein.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN QUEBEC
1. Everybody assumes you're an asshole.
2. Racism is socially acceptable.
3. The only province to ever kidnap federal politicians.
4. You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbour will move out next.
5. Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada.
6. The FLQ.
7. Your hockey team is made up entirely of dirty French guys who can't skate.
8. The province with the oldest, nastiest hookers.
9. NON-smokers are the outcasts.
10. You can blame all your problems on the "Anglo bastards".
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN NEW BRUNSWICK
1. You are sandwiched between French assholes and drunken Celtic fiddlers.
2. One way or another, the government gets 98 percent of your income.
3. You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies.
4. When listing the provinces, everyone forgets to mention yours.
5. The economy is based on fish, cows, and ferrying Ontario motorists to Boston.
6. No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick.
7. You have French people, but they don't want to kill you.
8. Everybody has a Grandfather who runs a lighthouse.
9. Just as charming as Maine, but with more unemployed fishermen.
10. You probably live in a small seaside cottage with no television.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN NOVA SCOTIA
1. The only place in North America to get bombed in the war by a moron who set ammunitions ship on fire. (Halifax Explosion)
2. The province is shaped like the male genitalia.
3. Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can't, think they can.
4. If someone asks if you're a Newfie, you are allowed to kick their ass.
5. The local hero is an insane, fiddle playing, sexual pervert homo.
6. The province that produced Rita MacNeil, the world's largest land mammal.
7. You are the "only" reason Anne Murray makes money.
8. You can pretend you have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk and wear a kilt.
9. The economy is based on lobster and fiddle music.
10. Even though it smells like dead sea animals, Halifax is considered Canada's most beautiful city.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE ON PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
1. Even though more people live on Vancouver Island, you still got the big ass bridge.
2. You can walk across the province in half an hour.
3. You were probably once an extra on "Road to Avonlea".
4. This is where all those tiny red potatoes come from.
5. The economy is based on fish, potatoes, and CBC TV shows.
6. Tourists arrive, see the "Anne of Green Gables" house, then promptly leave.
7. You can drive across the province in two minutes.
8. It doesn't matter to you if Quebec separates.
9. You don't share a border with the Americans, or with anyone for that matter.
10. You can confuse ships by turning your porch lights on and off at night.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND
1. The poorest, drunkest province in Confederation.
2. If Quebec Separates, you will float off to sea.
3. In the rare case when someone moves to the Rock, you can make them kiss a dead cod.
4. The economy is based on fish, seafood, and fish-related products.
5. If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse.
6. You & only you understand the meaning of Great Big Sea's lyrics.
7. The workday is about two hours long.
8. You are credited with many great inventions, like the solar-powered flashlight and the screen door for submarines.
9. If someone asks if you're from Cape Breton, you are allowed to kick their ass.
10. It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders on your wedding day!
Aug. 30 -- Former Pres. Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev are set to narrate a "wolf-friendly" version of the children's classic Peter and the Wolf.
The duck (portrayed by an oboe) was unavailable for comment, presumbly because he is too securely ensconced in the wolf's tummy.
This is yet another blantant example of ignoring a victim's righteous plea for justice, unless the arrogant bastards also intend to revise the score. (Yeah, I know, don't give them any ideas.)
Over the last two years, a remarkable civic consensus has been building in Toronto. Business, labour, the voluntary sector, education, and local government have been working ... to create new ways to ensure that the Toronto region remains prosperous and competitive. The Toronto City Summit Alliance released "Enough Talk, An Action Plan for the Toronto Region," in April. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to endorse that action plan and set out a timetable for each of your government's contributions to implementing it.Translation: send more money to a city that screws up every money-spending project they touch, makes more unworkable plans to spend more money that . . . oh, never mind. You already know all this.
"Enough Talk" is a road map for improving our city region.... The action plan sets out realistic ideas for expanding the Toronto region's affordable housing stock, re-invigorating public transit, and building community services infrastructure in our poorest neighbourhoods.
The civic workers (and teachers union) has this city by the nuts. We can't even find a place in Canada willing to take our garbage, at least that portion that isn't strewn on our streets.
Whenever I hear someone opine "If only we had someone like Rudy Guiliani" I choke because Rudy had something we ain't got: a city population behind him with the same resolve to make the hard calls and get things done.
"Enough Talk," SHUT UP. We live in a dysfunctional city because we have the most useless, weak-kneed City Council in the history of All City Councils and THEY LISTEN TO IDIOTS LIKE YOU LOT.
UPDATE (or should that be OUCH!): No less a personage than Colby Cosh has taken Toronto (in the form of Robert Fulford, National Post columnist) to task for a totally different example of its egocentricity (or could that cosmocentricity? patriacentricity?) for failing to notice the substantial bits of real estate to the West that are also Canadian.
Why should I let this report which states she's given it her firm no, ruin my fun? If she wants to test the waters, she'd better know what she is up against both now and in 2008.
Aug. 30 -- The death toll has risen to 126 from yesterday's bombing of one of Shiite Muslims' holiest shrines. At least 12 people have been detained in connection with the investigation including 2 Pakistanis which has given rise to speculation of a Possible al Qaeda link in the attack.
The UN is doing that which is does best: cut and run.
The United Nations "remains engaged" in Iraq, a U.N. humanitarian official said Saturday, despite the announcement that it will greatly reduce its international staff in the country as a security precaution after last week's truck bombing at the Baghdad U.N. office that killed 23 people.As has been previously noted, whoever thought of hiring Saddamites to guard the UN offices displayed the kind of thinking that renders the UN a standing by-word for intransigent, bureaucratic incompetence.
Currently there are about 400 international U.N. staffers in Iraq -- about 110 of them in Baghdad. A U.N. spokesman in New York announced Friday that after the cuts, only about 40 to 50 essential staff members will remain in Baghdad. He called the reductions a "temporary measure."
In more serious news, a grenade launcher was used against Bulgarian troops in Karbala but there were no injuries.
The attack was the first against Bulgaria's nearly 500-strong stabilization force since they began patrolling the city earlier this month to help the U.S. restore order in Iraq following a war there.My Polish grandfather (who emigrated to the US as a teenager between the two world wars, fought in the South Pacific during WWII, and who could never decide if he hated the Russians or Germans more) would be so. damned. proud. This one's for you, Grandpa!
On Tuesday, military control of Karbala was handed over to a Bulgarian military governor, Lt. Col. Petko Marinov. It was previously run by U.S. Marines.
As well as the 250 Bulgarian soldiers stationed in Karbala, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Marinov is in charge of Polish troops and U.S. Marines serving in Karbala.
The small Balkan country, which was supported by the U.S. in its bid to join NATO, backed the American-led war in Iraq and is now providing a total of 500 troops for Washington's post-war stabilization force.
Bulgaria's contingent will be under Polish command after the U.S. makes another transfer of control on September 3. This will put the entire south central region, including Karbala, under Polish control.
Aug. 30 -- A 20th 'pupil' suspected of al Qaeda connections has been arrested by Toronto police in an on-going investigation (called Project Thread) into those claiming to attend the defunct Ottawa Business College.
The investigation has produced the person who is said to have provided the students with fake documents which supported their claims to be attending the college. Read the article: this man sounds interesting (and I mean that in a positive way; he is intelligent and sees the big picture.)
Aug. 30 -- I don't get Canada. No, really. We've been bogged down in Toronto over a scandal over computers that cast a lot of doubt on the integrity of civil servants, but it's the elected officials taking the heat because evidently it's a bigger crime to be fooled by civil servants than to do the fooling.
Now there's a similar scandal on the federal level forcing the Feds to reopen bidding on contract to move staff
The unusual decision comes one month after the Canadian International Trade Tribunal determined that public servants evaluating the bids for the lucrative contract drew up the criteria to favour Royal LePage Relocations.Now I'm already thinking jail time or, at minimum, termination without a recommendation and disallowing Royal LePage from ever bidding on a government contract again but from what I read, the federal government's solution (drawn up by civil servants, no doubt) is to spend several months to draft new criteria for the project and have interested parties re-submit their bids, and if Royal LePage doesn't get the new contract, the feds will pay penalties for cancelling a rigged bid.
I don't get it. See opening sentence of previous paragraph.
I'm not throwing stones here. I am all too well aware that suspicious, smelly things that walk, talk and quack like corruption exist in the US too, but when caught there is this thing called the law that kicks in to at least give an appearance that some integrity is expected from our civil service.
Aug. 30 -- I'm an US Air Force brat and never get tired of the sound of jets as they scream across the city during the annual Air Show at the Ex. (Noisy? You ain't heard noise until you hear the sound of B-52s as they take off and land from an air base, but I digress.)
I was disappointed yesterday when overcast conditions kept most of the planes grounded, but today it is bright and sunny (okay, so there are only patches of blue sky but there's a brisk wind and I'm an optimist!) so listen up Toronto: salute the warriors of the sky, and honour aviation history which reminds us of what a kick-ass breed those courageous, early pioneers of the strata were.
Maybe this will bring things into focus: there's a very real chance that the Snowbirds will be disbanded.
Former Snowbird Dan Dempsey said it will take new jets to save one of Canada's most cherished national symbols. He wants the federal government to lease or buy more CT-155 Hawks, used as training jets, to replace the 40-year-old CT-114 Tutor jets scheduled to be phased out in 2006.Given the funding cuts the DoD is supposed to come up with, his fears could be very real.
A brand new Hawk, built by BAE Systems, costs about $20 million, but would be "significantly less" without weapons systems, which the Snowbirds don't use, Dempsey said.
The Canadian Forces now lease 28 of the Hawks for training in Moose Jaw, Sask.
He fears it could be disbanded because of costs, and future generations will miss the chance to be inspired -- just as he was watching the RAF Golden Hawks scream past him at an Ottawa air show in 1959.
Aug. 30 -- US special forces and the Afghan army continues to track down and eliminate the Taliban as it attempts to regroup. An assault on fortified Taliban positions began late Thursday resulting in the non-combat death of one US special forces soldier (from a fall) and several Taliban fighters. Four Afghan soldiers were injured but no fatalities were reported.
11,500 US forces are in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan. (There is more detailed information about the recent fighting at CNN.)
Canadian soldiers will get a special treat as Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham plans to travel to Kabul to meet Afghan Pres. Karzai, tour the Canadian base at Camp Julien and attend ceremonies to mark the opening of the first Canadian embassy in Afghanistan.
Aug. 30 -- Whereas a lot of Toronto newspapers strive to appear intellectual (you know, murky, obfusctating and unbiased,) the Toronto Sun is cheerful, goes for a direct hit and just reports things as they are. Also, their permalinks are more permanent than the National Post.
Take this: North Korean tired of talks. (A headline like that is a sure winner and interactive; it allows millions to respond with "so are we", right?) Excerpts:
BEIJING -- North Korea no longer has "interest or expectations" in further talks on its nuclear program, a spokesman for Pyongyang's delegation to the six-country talks on the subject said today. "There is no need for this kind of talks," said the unidentified spokesman, who made the remarks at the airport to reporters as the delegation was leaving Beijing after the landmark three-day meeting.Maybe I've underestimated the IAEA. Despite the fact that both North Korea and Iran continued their nuclear programs right under the noses of UN inspectors, at least the North Koreans couldn't fool them when it came to bluster and bombastic talk, which just goes to prove that you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
"We no longer have interest or expectations either," he said. "We are left with no option as it became clear that the United States wants to disarm our nation."
The United States has demanded that the program be stopped immediately, but the North has refused to comply unless it receives economic aid and a non-aggression treaty from the United States.
Kim said North Korea could allow inspections of nuclear facilities, stop missile exports and tests, and finally dismantle its nuclear program -- but only if the U.S. resumes free oil shipments, provides economic and humanitarian aid, signs a non-aggression treaty and opens diplomatic ties.
In Washington, state department press officer Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said the North Korean statement "is an explicit acknowledgment that the (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has nuclear weapons but the U.S. will not respond to threats or give in to blackmail."
The head of the UN nuclear agency accused North Korea of posturing.
A moment of silence for poor North Korea, okay? They came to the talks with the expectation that the US would once again agree to a treaty in which NK only had to make promises and the US quite unreasonably refuses to be fooled again. Worse still, Russia and China won't back their play.
CNN has some cautiously optimistic quotes from the Chinese and Japanese delegates:
"At the same time, the parties have all become aware of the fact that there is a need to consider and address the concerns of [North Korea] in a wide range of areas, including the security concerns," Wang said.Maybe he also thinks North Korea is bluffing?
A Japanese foreign ministry official praised the North Korean delegation as engaged and sincere.
"We did not sense any unproductive approach on the part of the North Korean delegation over the 2 1/2 days," he said.
The official added that nothing the North Koreans revealed during the talks set off any alarm bells.
"If you are asking whether what we heard scared us enough to go back to Tokyo and hide behind a bed," he said, "no, there was no such statement."
UPDATE: The Sketptician thinks that the lack of progress with the talks was due to squabbles over a game.
Aug. 29 -- This is truly horrendous: a hospital is saying that at least 75 people have died as a result of the massive car bombing outside the Imam Ali Mosque including the Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim. Read the report; I haven't the heart to quote from it.
There is something so repugnant about targeting people in their places of worship be they in mosques, synagogues, churches or temples. There is something especially evil and twisted about killing people while they are at worship which forces me to pause and know that shaking my head in disbelief just doesn't really cut it and words are inadequate to express the outrage and pain.
I know that targeting innocent people no matter what they are doing or where they are is evil, it's just that an extra degree of evil is added when holy sites are defiled by bloodletting. Maybe it reflects my Western values, but I doubt it. I suspect many Muslims right now are feeling that this latest bombing was an act of pure evil, but somehow I doubt the CBC will be able to locate any of them.
Could we at least take time to grieve before the games commence? No?
The blame game began as soon as the bombing was broadcast early this morning. Props to the CNN desk commentator [I'll enter his name when my brain returns to active duty; he's the other conservative-sounding one] who asked in a very sarcastic voice how this could be blamed on America; that there was a ready answer made me do something I haven't done in awhile: my jaw dropped. Then I realized that, of course, the question was set up so this correspondence could prattle off an answer. Sigh.
UPDATE: Here is the first installment of the blame game but if memory serves me weren't offers of security turned down? Of course, there is something distinctly profane about stationing troops of non-believers (using the term in its pure form) and concrete barricades around a place of worship.
Aug. 29 -- Victor Davis Hanson does that which I only aspire to do: weave the threads and connect the dots into a coherent account of events. Read Hoping We Fail. I'm only going to give one excerpt to get you started:
The theocrats all over the region wish us to fail as well. Modernism emanating from Iraq would undermine the strictures of the clerics, in empowering women and eroding the fossilized structures of a tribal society. After all, in the war's aftermath, Arab Idol (dubbed another "American invasion" by Islamists) — a thinly veiled spin-off of the American television show — was suddenly earning a 40-million-viewer market share, as Middle Easterners voted for pop stars in a way that they never could for their own leaders.See what I mean? Some of us regarded Arab Idol as an amusing anecdote, but Hanson sees what lies under. Go!
(Via On The Third Hand.)
Aug. 29 -- I assume you already read James Lileks, but he has a beauty that shouldn't be missed on dealing with North Korea.
Why not nuke North Korea’s nuke test? They’ve said they’re going to have a test; I presume we know where that will be. So we nuke it the day before. There’s a big explosion, a mushroom cloud; they blame us. We say what are you talking about? You said you were going to light one off. And you did. No! You did it! Right. We nuked your nuke test. And that makes sense . . . how, exactly? It would certainly keep them off their game. And just after we nuke the test - and every subsequent test, of course - we put a call to Li’l Kim’s cellphone, and someone with a Texas accent says oh, I’m sorry, wrong number. I was tryin’ to reach a live man.
Aug. 29 -- The young Brantford police officer, Const. Cyrus Villa, who was injured while chasing a suspect last July is doing better; as of Aug. 20 he lifted his arms over his head and has a little movement in both his thumbs.
I too tend to take both the man and women in blue and those in khaki too much for granted, but we can and should remember to include them in our prayers.
This time from the Christian Science Monitor: Are you a neoconservative?.
Hmm, I'm a realist. Cool.
(Via Moving Target.)
Aug. 29 -- This doesn't appear to be a joke: Politicians new face of reality TV.
A new reality series in France will spotlight the daily routine of French families with a live-in government offical in tow. Not scheduled to launch until October, the series is already sparking debate in French political circles.This one has Emmy Award (or the French equivalent) written all over it, although it has yet to be decided if it should be in the documentary or fiction category.
Supporters, like government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope, said the show -- for now dubbed "36 Hours" -- could help put France's often remote political leaders in touch with the public.
"It's a way of showing that politicians aren't aliens from outer space," said Cope, who is billed as the star of the show's first episode. Cope is a former lawmaker in France's legislature.
The new reality show, to be broadcast on television station TF1, will follow a government figure as he or she works, eats and lives with a French family for up to two days.
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 29 -- It is easy to forget about Canadian troops now stationed in Afghanistan, but there is a National Post reporter embedded with them, Chris Wattle who reports on a disgusting trick played on the soldiers' families:
Many of the 1,900 Canadians posted to Afghanistan do not wear name tags for security reasons. Intelligence officers working with the Canadian battlegroup for example, as well as members of JTF-2, the elite Canadian special forces unit.(Via Neale News.)
But a rough count of the men and women walking through the camp yesterday suggested that as many as a third of them have taken their nametags off. They cannot all be doing top secret work.
"I just don't want to take the chance," said the master corporal. "Even if it's a small one."
What the troops are worried about is the situation that is said to have developed during peacekeeping missions to the former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s, when local Croats, Serbs or Bosnians somehow obtained the names of some Canadian soldiers serving as peacekeepers and used the information to get their home addresses and telephone numbers in Canada.
Family members began getting ominous telephone calls late at night.
"Absolutely, it's true," said one officer, who -- not surprisingly -- wore no nametag.
"[It] happened to one of my corporals in Bosnia in '97. Somehow, his name got out, the local Serbs passed it along, I guess, and next thing you know his mom is getting phone calls in the middle of the night with some guy saying: 'Your son is dead.' "
Although Canadian commanders in Kabul said the stories were unconfirmed, they have nonetheless been keeping a close watch on the local workers who help run and construct Camp Julien and on the dozens of poor Afghans who descend on the camp's garbage every morning. Intelligence officers suspect that the names of soldiers in Bosnia were obtained by gleaning through garbage to find discarded envelopes from home, with return addresses written on them.
The names and addresses were then passed along to collaborators in Canada, who began making the calls.
One Canadian intelligence officer in Kabul, who -- needless to say -- wore no nametag, said that the troops have a right to be concerned.
"It happens a lot more often than you'd think," he said. "It happened to the German contingent [who patrolled west Kabul before the Canadians] seven times."
Aug. 29 -- The Washington Times looks at the Wesley Clark flirtation with politics as evidence of his lack of principles and a basic understanding of the electorate Wesley Clark -- Mercenary
Mr. Clark's evasiveness regarding his Democratic Party affiliations is troubling, but his ignorance of American politics is more disturbing. Last week on ''Crossfire,'' Mr. Clark said: "The majority of the people in this country really aren't affiliated with parties, they're independent." This is dead wrong. Three-quarters of the voters register as Republicans or Democrats, and another five percent or so belong to minor parties. Four out of five voters identify themselves as partisans because they embrace the particular set of political ideals for which their chosen party stands. They grasp something that apparently eludes the general: Politics is about principles.
Mr. Clark is a mature man whose intellectual formation includes West Point and Oxford University. If choosing between political parties is so difficult for him, it reveals a core lack of principles. This mercenary mentality raises serious doubts concerning his fitness for the presidency.
Aug. 29 -- Jonah Goldberg has a solution to the controversy over the Ten Commandments momument: I bring you ten - no, five - Commandments
Aug. 29 -- N.Korea says U.S. endangers nuke talks by their "hostile policy."
The warning came as negotiators were discussing North Korea's nuclear issue on the final day of the six-way talks in Beijing. South Korea's chief delegate told journalists that the six nations had agreed to meet again in another round of talks.And it was well worth waiting for, I assure you. So much new information to digest . . .
But the North's state-run news agency said the United States had jeopardized the chances of further talks. "The next round of meetings is in danger because the United States refused to change its hostile policy toward North Korea," the (North) Korean Central News Agency said.
"The United States said it can make the next round of talks if we speak of giving up our nuclear program. This means the United States will move only after we are disarmed," KCNA said. It was the North's first public reaction to the six-party muclear talks that began Wednesday.
Aug. 29 -- The Sun (UK) editorial has some thoughts about BBC-style reporting Is he guillible or just stupid?
THE chairman of the BBC governors, Gavyn Davies, reveals all that is wrong with BBC news.
The sheer incompetence that allowed a grave and false allegation to be broadcast without following the basic rules of journalism exposes the arrogance at the heart of the BBC.
The Today programme’s Andrew Gilligan sparked a storm when he claimed Downing Street “sexed up” the Iraqi arms dossier and the Prime Minister misled Parliament to take the country to war.
We now know there was not a shred of truth in that story, yet instead of apologising for the BBC's dangerous blunder, Davies continues to defend the indefensible.
Davies claims at the Hutton inquiry that the BBC were only reporting allegations from a source — not making them.
What an irresponsible statement.
No matter that the story was untrue, came from just one source and was broadcast unchecked.
Even Lord Hutton was aghast at such a weak defence.
Davies then had the nerve to criticise Alastair Campbell for making a public complaint on behalf of the Prime Minister.
The complete naivety in this whole sorry episode shown by Davies and his fellow BBC governors is enough to make you weep.
Davies says Gilligan’s report is “just another of those episodes which Today tends to trip over occasionally.”
Gullible? Incompetent? Or just plain stupid?
Either way, at least the chairman's head must roll if the BBC is to reclaim any credibility as a serious news broadcaster.
HERE’S a Sun exclusive using the Gavyn Davies standards of reporting:
A senior source tells us that Davies’s real name is Geraldine, he had a sex swap 20 years ago, he likes to Morris Dance in the nude, kicks his dog and has secret massages from Carole Caplin.
Davies denies this allegation, and The Sun looks forward to a public inquiry. (Their emphasis)
Aug. 29 -- The unveiling of Robert Mugabe's retirement palace must be infuriating to the people of Zimbabwe as Mugabe triples fuel price as country sinks deeper into crisis:
Zimbabwe all but tripled the price of petrol for ordinary citizens yesterday. In an attempt to relieve the critical fuel shortage, the government partly abolished the state oil company's monopoly of fuel imports.And this is the guy that African leaders (and Canadian PM Chretien) and so determined to protect. Appalling.
It allowed private firms to impose stiff rises in petrol and diesel prices at the pumps, although they are still far short of black market prices. The state company, Noczim, will continue to supply fuel at heavily subsidised prices for its own vehicles, public transport and agriculture.
Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis as a result of President Robert Mugabe's decision to seize white-owned farms and redistribute the land to blacks, including his own cronies.
The violent seizures started a severe spiral that has brought plummeting tobacco exports, a cut in international aid, a sharp loss of income from tourism and shortages of food, fuel, foreign currency and even local banknotes. Inflation is 400 per cent.
Farmers and even taxi drivers make more money by selling their allocation of fuel rather than using it. The government has responded by banning anyone from carrying a petrol container without a permit.
Under the two-tier pricing system, private companies will be able to sell petrol at 1,170 Zimbabwean dollars per litre, nearly three times higher than the subsidised price of Z$450 but well below the black market price of Z$2,000.
The price of diesel leapt from Z$200 to Z$1,060.
Aug. 29 -- Details are still sketchy about the car bomb that killed the Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, Shiite leader of the Supreme Council for Iraq (SCIRI). His cousin, the Ayatollah Mohamad Sa'eed al-Hakim was the target of a bombing Sunday which killed three of his bodyguards and wounded 10. In that attack, a bomb had been placed next to the wall of his home.
Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim is the brother of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim is a member of the Iraq Governing Council.
The US is protesting the airing of death threats against members of the Iraq Government Council which are being aired on Al-Arabiya.
In a recent interview with Time magazine, Def. Secy. Donald Rumsfeld said we do have enough forces in Iraq but need to make the best possible use of the forces already there. L. Paul Bremer has stated that it isn't more troops that are needed but better intelligence and cooperation from the Iraqi people in order to thwart terrorist attacks.
UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim is the nephew of Mohamad Sa'eed al-Hakim.
Check The Command Post for regular updates on Iraq.
Aug. 29 -- Immigration hearings continue into the 19 Toronto men who were detained as security risks. 16 have had hearings thus far; two have been released on bail and 14 have been ordered to remain in custody. One more will face a hearing today and two others will have hearings next week.
Christina Blizzard rightly objects to phrases like "creeping facism" and having these detainments equated with Germany in the 1930's.
UPDATE: According to this Toronto police are looking for the "agent" at the center of the suspected terrorist sleeper cell who is said to be the link between the phantom business school that sold them fraudulent documents and the 19 detained men. They are also looking for another 12 men who may have been part of the cell.
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 28 -- From On the Third Hand is news from Iraq that you won't see on CNN (can any of you picture Jane Arraf upbeat? Me neither.)
Go; good read.
Aug. 28 -- Better make sure this is in the archives NK says it may test nukes because everybody knows that's the traditional way to celebrate disarmament talks.
North Korea has told multi-party talks in Beijing it is preparing to declare itself a nuclear nation and is contemplating testing nuclear weapons, a U.S. official said in Washington.Here's a postive response for them, one with protons, neutrons, electrons . . . Just kidding! Honest!
The question from the U.S. administration standpoint, the official said, is "whether this is a serious and irreversible statement or part of their past pattern of starting every conversation by being threatening to see if it wins them something."
In July, a Japanese newspaper quoted Japanese and North Korean sources as saying Pyongyang was prepared to conduct a nuclear test unless the United States responded positively to its proposals for resolving the nuclear crisis.
Aug. 28 -- A new Mark Steyn column for The Spectator Leave It To America in which he points out the lunacy of turning Iraq over to the UN.
If it weren’t tragic, in the proper sense of the word, it would be laughable. Nonetheless, hurrying back to New York, Kofi Annan held a hasty press conference at Stockholm airport to make sure everyone knew who to blame. ‘We had hoped that by now the coalition forces would have secured the environment for us to be able to carry on the essential work of political and economic reconstruction, institution-building, and for Iraqis to carry on with their work. That has not happened.’
It wasn’t the coalition forces who filled your building with Saddamite agents, Mr Secretary-General. That was your choice.
The Canal Hotel turned out to be a perfect microcosm of the UN: a group of naive internationalists refusing to take the murkier characters prowling the corridors at face value and concerned only to keep the US at arm’s length. Yet for Kofi Annan, the French, the Democratic party and the world’s media, the self-inflicted insanity of what happened to the UN in Baghdad apparently demonstrates the need for Washington to hand over more control of Iraq to the blue helmets because ‘they’ve got far more experience in these kinds of situations’. The UN’s track record at nation-building varies according to the strength of the local obstructionist. Mr Vieira de Mello did such a good job transforming East Timor from the brutalised province of a Muslim dictatorship to a functioning infidel democracy that whoever makes Osama bin Laden’s audio tapes these days added it to his list of grievances against the West. But the dapper diplomat did a less impressive job in Cambodia, where Hun Sen decided to hijack the state, King Sihanouk strung along, and the UN colluded in the subversion of its political settlement.
If Kofi got his hands on Iraq, as world opinion so devoutly wants, the Cambodian scenario would be more relevant than the East Timorese. The most determined obstructionists in this case would be Iraq’s Arab neighbours: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and co. don’t care whether the country winds up under another Baathist psychotic or a rent-a-rant mullah, or even a restored Hashemite as long as he’s at least minimally repressive...
An interesting essay by Sheriff Mike Cook It's For The Children on how governments could balance the budget if they dumped the laws designed to protect Stupid from himself. Excerpts:
There are three things the government can do to help cut our taxes to a level we can all live with. The first is to stop duplication of services. This is a big one and needs to be addressed. The second one is to repeal all the laws on the books that protect us from ourselves. The third thing is to stop government from giving special interest group agendas protection and special privileges.(Via Rational Review.)
The sad thing is that once these laws [which protect us from ourselves] are on the books they are not cost effective. We then put more burden on our law enforcement officers to enforce these dumb laws, instead of focusing their attention on the bad crimes we need them to work on. They even have a fund here in Oregon that gives extra money to local law enforcement for officers to work overtime to enforce seat belt laws. They call these "grants". The truth is that these are tax money that is being spent because someone got a dumb law passed, most likely the insurance companies.
Oh yes, the insurance companies love these laws. Instead of inserting a clause in the contract you sign that they don't have to pay if you are not wearing your seat belt, they get a law passed to attempt to make everyone wear the belt, because the masses are too dumb to do it on their own.
You see it's all a matter of trust. We don't trust the government and they don't trust us to do the right thing. So they keep passing laws for us that will protect us from ourselves. How dumb can it get? Well you watch. We are about to get a bunch of our elected officials time wasted, not to mention tax money, on passing law to regulate ATV's so that people who take them out and have fun with them will be more safe. Remember it's for the children.
Aug. 28 -- Steven den Beste has an essay over at USS Clueless about the ongoing talks with North Korea Hitting the fan in Korea which is, on the whole, pretty optimistic. He also provides some insight as to why the Chinese are anxious to prevent a meltdown.
My 2 cents: That the Chinese are confident that, if provoked, the US will attack North Korea just might just have something to do with our recent expedition into Iraq, hmmm?
Aug. 28 -- New Ann Coulter column up Liberal Arguments: Still A Quagmire and it goes without saying she comes out swinging.
But liberals are indignant for every day that we haven't turned a barbaric land into Vermont. They were willing to give Stalin 36 years for the awkwardness of his revolution. We have essentially imposed a revolution on Iraq – and liberals give us a month to work out the bugs. U.S. forces in Baghdad say that Iraq is well on its way to establishing American-style representative democracy and might even be holding its first free elections in less than a year. Within three years, the Iraqi people could be recalling their first governor.Not to mention compete in the 2004 Olympics minus the evil Udai managing with battery posts and jumper cables ...
Aug. 28 -- A new Quizilla adventure awaits: Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
I should be in "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" which happens to be one of my favourites (prior to reading it I had never heard of Shroedinger's Cat.)
(Via Ghost of a Flea.)
Aug. 28 -- Paul has a post that folks in Toronto might want to look at: it is about a move by Montreal's former suburbs to demerge. He also has some good comments about the nature of municipal politicans I have come to a conclusion... and their bottom-feeding ways.
Aug. 28 -- I'm a little late with this one, Curtain falls on US presence in Saudi air base, mostly because I'm not really sure what it will be seen to mean when history looks back on it.
Certainly leaving a country that no longer wishes our presence is good, and I don't believe it was done to please OBL nor does it represent a capitulation of any sort to his demands, but it does seem to mark the end of an era and that too is not necessarily bad.
Nevertheless it deserves to be commemorated in our minds and I salute the men and women who served there.
Aug. 28 -- Ret. Gen. Wesley "I'm Undecided" Clark claims Bush's men tried to gag him.. If only. Those of us in Canada stuck with CNN coverage of the Iraq war might, however, have wished that this was true, because Clark was so very clearly unhappy with Gen. Frank's plan (even before he knew what it was) because it didn't include massive bombing runs and numerous civilian deaths as had previous campaigns.
Clark had assumed that Gen. Franks would adopt the same strategy as Gulf War I and Kosovo. Is it just me, or is Clark's inability to be innovative not a particularly good quality?
I would like to imagine Clark is going to offer some evidence that the Bush administration thought they could get CNN to cooperate with them, but he is, after all, a Democrat.
What he may be referring to, however, is Gen. Myer's impassioned plea for armchair generals to stop claiming "quagmire" one week into the war and to refrain from criticizing "the plan" when they didn't even know what it was.
I'm not sure why Ret. Gen. Clark would want to reopen the total failure of the armchair brigade to comprehend what was happening from Mar. 19 onward, but it might be that he is hoping for:
a) mass amnesia of the populace;
b) people will doubt the accuracy of their memories in favour of CNN-induced memories.
The McClellan reference? A little Civil War history about a weak, fearful general who's incompetence and failure to press the advantage nearly lost us the Civil War. Pres. Lincoln replaced him. He ran for the presidency as a Democrat on an anti-war platform, confident that the soldiers would vote for him, and was creamed. Of course, he wasn't the last Democrat to totally misjudge the mood, resilience and strength of the US electorate.
Aug. 28 -- This is kind of sweet:
A BAGHDAD mother and father, to show their thanks to US President George W. Bush for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, have named their son after the American leader.Agence France-Presse
Had the couple had twin boys, they say, the would have named them George Bush and Tony Blair.
The new George Bush - probably the only one in Baghdad - was born six weeks ago to Nadia Jergis Mohammed, 34, and her husband Abdul Kader Faris, 41.
"I tell you all Iraqis hated Saddam's regime. It was only George Bush who liberated us, without him it wouldn't have happened. If he hadn't done it the sons of Saddam would have ruled us for years. He saved us from Saddam and that's why we named our son after him," Mohammed told Associated Press Television News.
George Bush screamed in his crib.
Baby Bush, born July 11, carries the full name George Bush Abdul Kader Faris Abed El-Hussein. He weighed 3.5 kilograms (7 pounds 11 1/2 ounces) at birth.
Two older brothers are named - more traditionally - Omar and Ali.
Aug. 28 -- One of the 19 detainees was released and two others filed refugee claims following a hearing before an Immigration and Refugee Board. In a related story the Muslim Canadian Congress is "livid" and demanding the RCMP apologize for the racist detention of the 19 students who attended fictitious schools. The phrase "creeping facism" was also employed, but, as facism is a term that describes an economic system, I haven't the slightest idea what the user is trying to convey.
UPDATE: Ontario Public Security Min. Bob Runciman has begun his own investigtion of career schools because he's "lost confidence in federal authorities to do the job properly".
No matter how this matter is resolved it is going to leave a stain on Canada. The Muslim Canadian Congress may be upset, but when they jump to charges of "ethnic profiling" too quickly they also lose credibility (former lefties like me are very suspicious when rhetoric is invoked instead of reason because we helped write that crap and then learned we had been fooled and those charged were actually guilty.)
I still believe that the Muslim communities both in Canada and the US are natural allies in the war on terrorism. Too many people have immigrated to North America precisely because they wanted to get away from repression and do not want it here.
So let's all try not to jump on a guilty-by-public-opinion verdict, and let's not cry "Wolf!" either. Just trying to keep it sane . . .
Aug. 28 -- China is protesting to the US over a planned visit by the Dalai Lama scheduled for next week. The visit upcoming includes a meeting with Pres. Bush; the two had a private meeting in May, 2001, which also annoyed the Chinese.
"We have already made representations to the U.S. on this and urged the American government to strictly abide by its recognition of Tibet as a part of China," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.Rumour has it that the US government told the Chinese to stuff it.
It said China had requested the United States "pledge not to support 'Tibet independence' and not allow the Dalai to go to America to engage in activities to split China."
Aug. 28 -- A makeshift rocket fired by Hamas landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon (pop. 116,000) Thursday causing no damage or injuries. Ashkelon is about 5.5 miles from the Gaza Strip.
"It's clear the Palestinians are now upping the ante," Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told Reuters. "Israel cannot tolerate the use of rockets against its major cities."This report also goes into some detail about the Charity Fund Freeze (their wording):
A Palestinian security official in Gaza said Palestinian forces had rushed to the area where a Hamas squad had fired the rocket at Ashkelon, preventing it from launching more rockets.
"There was a chase and a shootout," the official told Reuters. "Our forces are still searching the area in the northern Gaza Strip."
In an apparent clampdown on Hamas affecting thousands of needy Palestinians, the Palestinian Monetary Authority said it had frozen 39 bank accounts held by 12 Islamic charities, most of which are widely believed to be Hamas-sponsored.Those crazy kids at Reuters; they sometimes publish articles that are almost balanced.
The move followed a U.S. decision to freeze the assets of six top Hamas figures after the group carried out a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem on August 19, killing 21 people in what it called retaliation for Israeli raids.
"We want to be 100 percent sure that the money channeled to these institutions is used for charitable purposes and not for political goals," said Amin Haddad, head of the monetary authority, an institution of the Palestinian Authority.
Several thousand charity recipients, some holding banners reading "Don't make us beggars" and "We are not terrorists," took to the streets of Gaza City and Rafah in protest after banks refused to cash their monthly welfare checks.
Officials of Islamic charities in the Gaza Strip said the Palestinian Authority's move showed it had given in to "dictates by President Bush to fight Islamic institutions."
Hamas denied any official connection with the 12 charities, but many of their directors are former or current senior activists in the organization.
Aug. 28 -- It's hardly a surprise that the U.S. miscalculated security for Iraq but it's always nice when government officials admit mistakes in judgement. Excerpts:
[Deputy Secretary of State Richard] ... Armitage suggested that U.S. forces were facing thousands of resisters when he listed the varied enemy: two divisions of Republican Guard soldiers who did not fight during the invasion, Ansar Islam terrorists, foreign fighters, Ba'athists and "a certain amount of criminal enterprise."Tony Blankley counsels patience before deciding if intervention in Iraq is successful, and Tod Lindberg says
In candid remarks delivered after a fact-finding trip to Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said, "There was a plan, but as any military officer can tell you, no plan survives first contact with reality. ... Some conditions were worse than we anticipated, particularly in the security area."
He listed three: Contrary to U.S. hopes, no Iraqi army units defected to the allies where they could be used to impose law and order. Second, the Iraqi police department needed a "massive overhaul" before officers could be put back on the street.
"Third, and worst of all, it was difficult to imagine before the war that the criminal gang of sadists and gangsters who have run Iraq for 35 years would continue fighting, fighting what has been called a guerrilla war," Mr. Wolfowitz said.
Once U.S. Central Command realized it had a guerrilla war on its hands, it changed tactics. It organized a series of sweeps in the area known as the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad. Soldiers arrested hundreds of Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters, and seized tons of armaments.
By June, commanders also realized they had underestimated the massive caches of weapons that Saddam had stored across the country. Bomb-making equipment, rifles, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades now seem to be in endless supply.
In July, commanders noticed the guerrillas, or their jihadist allies, had turned to outright terrorism by attacking civilians and assassinating Iraqis who cooperated with the coalition.
Lost in the weekly casualty count of American dead is the progress being made. Officials point out that many feared disasters, such as food shortages and oil well fires, haven't happened. Schools, banks and many businesses are open.
As I have noted here, we will probably be making every mistake in the book, because there is no book. The only book that will come is the one we ourselves will write after the fact; it will be a chronicle of mistakes in judgment, failures to anticipate contingencies before they arise, measures taken that turned out to have been inadequate half-measures, lost ground that had to be made up, etc.We'll write the book and the revisionists will deconstruct and rewrite it (unless a massive student revolt has caused them to be outsted from their comfy chairs by then.)
Are we, for example, currently in a situation in which we face an escalating guerrilla war, or are we making progress in shutting down the remaining armed resistance? I don't know. You don't know. No one knows. We will find out as we go forward. Provided one exercises due diligence and acts in good faith, there is no dishonor in making some mistakes. On the contrary: Any potentially successful course of action will entail mistakes along the way.
Aug. 28 -- There are relatively few Saudis among the jihadists captured and detained by US forces in Iraq, according to Dep. Secy. of State Richard Armitage in al interview with Abu Dhabi TV.
"We've got a relatively few number of Saudis," he went on, "but we have Yemenis and Sudanese, Syrians."The article deserves to be read in full; I'm haven't been as quick to jump on the Saudis as have others, and this article implies that the transport routes into Iraq are in Jordan and, of course, Syria. While not denying that there are supporters of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, I don't want too much attention on them at the expense of overlooking the larger problem of Syria which is a state that sponsors terrorism and occupies Lebanon.
He said he did not know how they got into Iraq and there was no suggestion that the Saudi government assisted them. He contrasted the attitude of the Saudis with that of Iran and Syria, whose borders he said were "particularly porous" and whose governments he accused of "not stopping fighters" from crossing into Iraq.
Aug. 27 -- Bloggers have been busy as hell today. Have I mentioned how hot it is?
Paul has I want McCallum's head stuffed and mounted on my wall, Thank God for the RCMP which is a necessary read for this followup Oh f*ck off in which Paul responds to demands from Toronto's Muslim community for an apology and an immediate release of the 19 illegal immigrants arrested on suspicions of terrorism (or should that be activism?)
Smug Canadian looks at the plea to movie-makers from attorney generals of 22 US States that they reduce depictions of smokers, well, smoking in movies States request honest depictions of Democrats in movies (if only).
Colby Cosh links to his new column in the National Post which takes a look at the ideas of Hernando de Soto and foreign aid. I'm emailing it to the US State Dept.
French Libertarian is threatening to go to jail before he'll eat brussel sprouts.
Jay Currie reports the latest move the BBC has taken. I think it's called damage control, although others might call it locking the barn door way too late.
News Junkie Canada has received and posted a letter from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties about Irish hate speech laws. She has also posted the text of the section of the Criminal Code in Canada which pertains to hate speech. Someday someone will explain to me why those laws don't apply to the US President and Americans but I'm content to think of it as hypocrisy for now.
David Janes explains why he's in a blogging funk. His reasons are pretty good.
Right On! has a downright revolutionary idea about how to solve the child care crisis. (Translation: revolutionary these days means common sense.)
The Canadian takes on a rather crude depiction of Christians by Warren Kinsella and also attacks the recent poll from the LA Times which skewed its results in order to show Bustamente is ahead of Arnold in the polls. Is he saying the liberal press lies? Oh no . . .
The Dissident Frogman is looking ever more closely at the actual state of health care in France with another horror story. The demise of the "greatest health care system in the world" must be read, especially as we have to wonder if that's where Canada is also heading.
If you haven't read David Warren's latest essay One-a-day then do it now.
North Korea: we're all thinking about it but not sure what to think. Mike Campbell looks at NK's acceptance of multi-lateral talks and their slow realization that China will not bail them out and connects some dots between resolving the stalemate with North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Check out the following entry also, Up >From Slavery, which is about Booker T. Washington's autobiography, and Mike factors in some Canadian history about the Antigonish Movement which, from what I could tell, had a similar "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" approach to ending poverty.
Naturally The Meatriarchy would be at the forefront of the meat recall story and even gives credit to the Toronto Star who finally got to the bottom of this story.
Before I close down I'm heading over to Jay Solo's blog to follow the link to vote in Balloon Juice's blogger awards. You might want to do it also.
The US Constitution mandates that the US Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, must advise and consent the US Administration in matters of foreign policy.Read the list.
The time has come for the American people to make State Department policies accountable to the the US Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee, the US House International Relations Committee, the media and the American electorate.
In at least twenty critical matters of Middle East foreign policy, the US State Department has acted independently of US Congressional approval in its implementation of Middle East policy.
(Via little green footballs.)
Aug. 27 -- This is an update to posts already updated numerous times today on the power struggle between Yassar Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas which culminated earlier this afternoon with Yassar Arafat calling for terrorist groups to commit to the ceasefire.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat said Wednesday the authority is committed to a cease-fire with Israel and urged all Palestinian groups to renew their commitment to it as well.The White House has responded:
The announcement was made as Israeli forces conducted raids in Ramallah and Nablus, detaining Palestinians for questioning and uncovering a weapons cache and an explosives lab.
In Washington, the Bush administration dismissed Arafat's move, saying he is trying to undermine Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and the peace process.
"Nothing has changed in respect to Arafat," said State Department spokesman Phil Reeker.
Reeker and a White House spokeswoman, Claire Buchan both said Arafat is "part of the problem, not part of the solution."
Aug. 27 -- This looks interesting: The American Mind is the founding member of the Neutral Until Bribed Coalition.
I've seen a lot of bloggers plead the Switzerland position on this war; this could be an interesting alignment of forces and, if organized, tip the scales of victory. Or be totally ignored, but then everyone who aligns with it can claim superior morality, pacifism, high ethical values or something equally unbelievable.
Why does that all sound so familiar? Hmm, let me think . . .
Alliance of Free Blood doesn't really sound all that sinister and when I read their web page I remembered to check when the next Blood Donor Clinic down the street is to be held.
But on the basis of name appeal alone, the Axis of Naughty has a certain charm to it . .
Aug. 27 -- According to this report in the Washington Post
After several months of permitting China's intellectuals the freedom to call for political reform, ponder far-reaching revisions to the constitution and consider changes in the official history of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the Communist Party has ordered a halt to such debate, and security personnel have begun harassing leading academics, economists and legal scholars, sources here say.The crackdown includes following, interrogating and ordering participants in a conference about constitutional reform to remain silent about the issues.
Although lengthy, this article is well worth reading because it examines the new political alignments within the Communist Party and particularly how the Chinese government's mishandling of the SARS crisis and subsequent mini-purge spurred reformers to call for more reforms in the press, trade unions and party.
The struggle has also stretched into the news media, which in recent months has been full of conflicting signals.I can't help wondering how much influence the internet has had on the calls for reform.
Following an explosion of ground-breaking reports during the SARS epidemic, the Propaganda Ministry, led by a Jiang loyalist, Liu Yunshan, has issued a series of circulars banning reports on a variety of topics.
At the same time, Liu's ostensible boss, Li Changchun, a member of the Politburo's Standing Committee, has been pushing a major reorganization of the state-run press that will result in the shuttering of scores of party newspapers and end the practice of forcing government units to subscribe to party newspapers. This reorganization, triggered by the increasing power of the Chinese media market, means that many party newspapers that previously enjoyed guaranteed circulation will have to compete to attract readers.
(Via Rational News Digest.)
Aug. 27 -- I guess too many Canadians are born carpetbaggers.
French Libertarian in Quebec continues to focus a lot on events to the south of Canada without paying much attention to events closer to home. I'm only going to get on his case over the first item in the post claims that
... The appointment of Abbas was a crucial step in some master plan (the US attacked Iraq later the same day) that we'll just call "The roadmap". It was crucial that Abbas be appointed before the Arab hearts were inflamed by the US invasion.This analysis doesn't take into account the facts that the US had been poised in Kuwaiti for several months, that the US had tried to get a 2nd UN resolution, that the US gave Saddam and sons 48 hours to get out of Iraq before they attempted a decapitation strike, and that Australian troops were already in Iraq when that strike was launched.
Perhaps if it could be demonstrated how exactly the appointment of Abbas (which wasn't confirmed until April 30) soothed the Arab street we could discuss this, but I suspect that the main factor has been the revelation that al Jazeera (among other Arab news agencies) took bribes from Saddam to conceal his crimes. This quiet is shock (and perhaps guilt) as Arabs are beginning to learn only now the extent to which Saddam and the regime had been butchering the Iraqi people.
I hope I see a Candian blogger do an analysis of the decision by the Federal government to further cut Canadian foreign aid and funding of the Canadian military in order to subsidize their latest promises. Canadian politicians who love to paint themselves as lovers of peace aren't very willing to cough up the cash for both foreign aid and Canadian peacekeeping forces (which doesn't stop demands the US cough up more cash.)
Pres. Clinton and PM Chretien say all the right things, do nothing and spend less. The foreign press adores them. Hypocrites love other hypocrites.
Americans already know that their disposable incomes would be increased if the US cut foreign aid (especially to unfriendly countries) and stopped subsidizing the UN, and there's sizeable grassroots support for such cuts.
Aug. 27 -- It was inevitable that the Alabama Ten Commandments momument would be moved but the debate has focused a lot of minds on the First Amendment which is always good.
UPDATE: According to this, only 1 in 5 Americans supported the court-ordered removal of the Ten Commandments monument (77% disapproved.) It's beginning to really scare me that I am so often one of the majority. I might have to get used to it.
Aug. 27 -- I love dark chocolate, so I'm doing the happy dance over evidence that Dark chocolate linked to lower blood pressure. Milk chocolate lovers will have to cope.
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 27 -- Dang! The Canadian celebrated his first blogosversary yesterday and I missed it (and, apparently, so did he!) so please head over there, scroll down to find his guestmap on the left panel, and sign it.
While you're there, check out his posts on the recent arrests by the RCMP (including the finding of schematics for the CN Tower), link to David Warren's latest essay and speculation about the reasons for the recall of Aylmer's Meat Products.
Aug. 27 -- Amina Lawal is appearing before a Nigerian court today to appeal her death sentence by stoning on charges of adultery.
Aug. 27 -- In a different kind of report, Child killings leave bus bomber's family divided in grief:
Inigo Gilmore in Hebron meets a suicide attacker's relatives whose act has evidently caused unease within his family and his community.
Raed Mesk's youngest sister, Samiya, had just been extolling her brother's brave act in murdering 20 Jews, many of them children, when his frail uncle, sitting quietly beside her, finally spoke up.
"Only God knows whether what he did was haram [forbidden] or halal [permitted]," said Abdul-Majid Mesk, speaking softly in Arabic. "He was a father with young children and I believe what he did was wrong."
As the 72-year-old paused, his niece prodded him in the shin with her foot, aware that his awkward comments were undermining the facade of family support. Undeterred, he added solemnly: "It is wrong to kill children."
Aug. 27 -- It's a Very Special Moment for Mugabe as builders prepare to put the finishing touches to his new palace.
People who are starving in Zimbabwe can doubtless ease their hunger pangs by gazing at this newest monument to the vanity of their President.
Aug. 27 -- Australia too is grappling with trying to define what is racist or hate speech as a trial proceeds against a man based on his claim that Muslims won't integrate:
ONE Nation MP David Oldfield believes most Muslims refuse to integrate into Australian society and that most terrorists are Muslims.I linked to the website cited in the news article here and was greeted by a warning that viewing or downloading the site in Australia in the State of Victoria may break the laws of that state and that I would have to accept that I read and understood the possible illegality before I clicked to enter.
Central to the accusations against him is the site's statement "not all Muslims are terrorists but nearly all terrorists are Muslim".
I chickened out. I would know the law would protect me were I in the US, but I'm honestly not sure about the laws of Canada and how much the law would protect me as I'm not a citizen here.
Aug. 27 -- Sawad, alias Sardjiyo, currently in trial for his role in mixing the chemicals used in the Bali bombs thanked anti-war protesters for supporting his cause. His co-accused, Abdul Ghoni, warned Australians against allying themsevles with the US.
UPDATE: Tim Blair says he'll thank them, Abdul old pal. Well, not exactly . . .
Abdul Ghoni claimed that the aim of bombing the nightclubs in Bali was to kill Americans.
Uh huh. Because you always try to kill Americans by attacking a resort known for its Australian tourists. And bin Laden was only joking when a recent audiotape message urged his followers to target Australia because of its intervention to prevent a slaughter in East Timor.
In another article, a new report on Jemaah Islamiah by the Interntional Study Group warns that
Thousands strong, and spread across the vast archipelago of Indonesia, JI continues to threaten Westerners and Western interests. Pessimistic about future prospects in Indonesia, the report, titled Jemaah Islamiah In Southeast Asia: Damaged But Still Dangerous, warns bluntly: "In the short term, we are likely to see more JI attacks.
"The information emerging from the interrogation of JI suspects indicates that this is a bigger organisation than previously thought, with a depth of leadership that gives it a regenerative capacity," says the report, written by ICG Indonesia director Sidney Jones.
Aug. 27 -- What is always ignored in discussions about the Road Map are the requirements for the Palestinian Authority to crack down on the institutions that incite hatred for Israel, disarm the terrorists, affirm the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, and other requirements to which Arafat and his gang have signed agreement over the past 10 years but done nothing to implement.
But the press still focuses on the political struggles in the Palestinian Authority rather than the total failure in leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. There are a few possible reasons why Abbas has been unable to lead the Palestinian people away from their acceptance of terrorist tactics, but two things seem clear to me: either the Palestinian people do not want to end the violence, or Abbas has not appealed to that Palestinian grassroot sentiment for an end to the violence and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas met with Cabinet ministers in an effort to gather support as he and Arafat continue their showdown. (I'm condensing a lot, so read the articles.) The future of a Palestinian state has become more uncertain as Abbas, who was installed Apr. 30, has been unable to stop terrorist attacks against Israel. Although he blames the Israelis, it is clear that the power struggle has its roots in Arafat's control of the security forces; thus there will be no disarming of the terrorists and no end to terrorist attacks so long as Arafat remains in control.
Abbas convened his Cabinet in Gaza City on Wednesday, and was to hold talk with legislators from the Gaza Strip later in the day. Aides said he would try to persuade them to support him in Monday's vote in parliament. Thirty-five of parliament's 83 legislators are from the Gaza Strip.In a related article, Mideast on the Brink, several quotes indicate the total lack of confidence the Israel government has in negotiations:
Kadoura Fares, a Fatah lawmaker, said he and some of his colleagues were tired of the power struggle between Abbas and Arafat.
If the fighting between Abbas and Arafat continues, "then one of them will have to be pushed aside," said Fares, adding that in this case Abbas should step down since he was appointed, not elected like Arafat.
"We can decide to find someone else to do his job, someone who can get along better," said Fares, who has also been critical of Arafat in the past.
"The Palestinians never weaned themselves from the basic desire to murder Jews," the Yediot Ahronot daily quoted Sharon as saying. "This was always (Palestinian leader Yasser) Arafat's policy, simultaneous negotiations and terrorism."Palestinian sources, in turn, state that
A senior security official said that as far as Israel is concerned, "anyone who is in the Hamas leadership is a fair target." Israeli officials said the strikes could be called off if the Palestinian Authority, against all expectations, takes action against Hamas.
Abbas has no plan for handling the situation, members of his inner circle said privately. His policy of persuading Hamas and Islamic Jihad to halt attacks has failed, and in this charged climate, he does not dare order a clampdown, as demanded by the United States and Israel.Which ignores the obvious in that, had the PA clamped down on Hamas and others, the Israeli's wouldn't have needed to.
"We cannot attack Hamas when the population is sympathetic to them and, what is more important, when Israel is attacking them as well," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ghassan Khatib.
The calls on the US to take a stronger role pre-supposes that the US will take the side of the Palestinians; I too want the US to take a stronger role by cutting off all funding to the PA until it cuts ties with terrorists and demanding that Arafat answer the accusations that he is feathering his own nest as well as giving money to terrorists.
Paul has a nice picture here and Fisks a report from Reuters here that Arafat is urging that the truce be reinstated and "hints" that he plans a crackdown on terrorists (I guess that should be activists or militants or ...) Is it just me or is Arafat a little old to be playing at coyness?
UPDATE: Arafat is calling upon terrorists (whoops, I mean activisits) to commit to ceasefire. Again.
Aug. 27 -- In a speech before the American Legion in St. Louis, Pres. Bush pledges 'no retreat' from Iraq and asserted once again his determination to take the war against terrorism to the terrorists.
Declaring the current struggle in Iraq a "point of testing in the war on terror," the president told a group of war veterans that "the more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become."The Washington Times article also sets the record straight on US casualties in Iraq and a new poll indicating continued support for sustaining our presence in in Iraq:
"They have declared war on the entire civilized world," he said, alluding to last week's deadly attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.
"The civilized world will not be intimidated. Retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks. There will be no retreat. We are on the offensive," he said, drawing applause from thousands gathered for the 85th annual convention of the American Legion.
Newspapers, networks and wire agencies also stated yesterday that the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since May 1 — when Mr. Bush declared the end of major combat — now surpasses the number killed during the six-week war.I wish liberal media like CNN and the NY Times would read their own papers and watch their own telecasts because I am tired of reminding them of the stories they have covered.
The numbers, however, are only partially accurate. While 141 U.S. soldiers have been killed since May 1, just 63 were killed in action; 78 died in nonhostile incidents. Between March 19 — when Mr. Bush first sent in troops — and May 1, 112 U.S. service members were killed in action. Twenty-five died in nonhostile incidents in that period.
A new poll released yesterday showed continued public support for the administration's stance. An ABC survey found nearly 60 percent of all Americans back the war in Iraq. Almost seven in 10 said U.S. forces should stay in Iraq until civil order is restored.
In a guest column July 13 for the NY Times, L. Paul Bremer made what is probably the most accurate assessment of the aims of the terrorists in Iraq when he noted that
"These shadowy figures are killing brave Iraqis working with us, attacking soldiers and civilians, and trying to sabotage the fragile infrastructure. The attacks have drawn concern worldwide. My coalition colleagues and Iraqi friends have noticed that the attacks are often aimed at successes in the renewal of this nation.In Deputy Secy. Wolfowitz's DoD briefing after his visit to Iraq in July he too noted that more had been accomplished in Iraq in a few months than had been accomplished in Kosovo after a year which might be remembered whenever turning control of Iraq over to the UN is mentioned.
The liberal press is determined, by sleight of hand if necessary, to present a woeful picture in Iraq rather than admit that the removal of Saddam and the Ba'athists has been a springboard for Iraq to become a democratic state.
Aug. 27 -- Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, a government spokesman for Iran, has said that there is no obligation for the Iranian government to inform Canada of what the investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi has learned. The Iranian government has cited the fact that Kazemi was a dual citizen and on Iranian soil when her death took place 3 weeks after her detainment by authorities.
Although there have been reports that two people have been arrested for her death, the Canadian Office of Foreign Affairs has received no official notification.
UPDATE: According to this, Iranian officials have reversed their earlier decision to exclude Canada from the investigation. But if I'm reading between the lines correctly, various officials in Iran are actually reversing one another which is not exactly a shock to anyone who has followed the power struggle between the elected Parliament and the unelected mullahs who are determined to keep Iran an ayatollocracy.
It also comes as more details slowly emerge about the two women charged with the "semi-intentional murder" of Ms. Kazemi, whose mysterious death has not only strained relations between Iran and Canada, but has exposed a growing rift between the Islamic country's hardline judiciary and elected reformers.I don't know if that actually makes anything clearer . . . and no, Mrs. Kazemi's body has still not been returned to Canada.
The rift grew even larger yesterday, as Iran's reformist-controlled Intelligence Ministry vehemently denied that two of its employees were responsible for Ms. Kazemi's death.
On Monday, the prosecutor's office in Tehran announced it had charged two intelligence agents. The office did not name the accused, but human rights organizations have been told that both women were present during the initial interrogation that followed Ms. Kazemi's arrest on June 23.
Some reports have described the accused as medical workers -- one a nurse; the other a personal caregiver -- while others insist they were security agents.
But the Intelligence Ministry -- all but accusing the judiciary of a cover-up -- insisted that its office is innocent of any crime. A spokesman even threatened to reveal what really happened to Ms. Kazemi unless the charges are dropped.
"The government considers the Intelligence Ministry clean and clear of any charges," said Abdollah Ramezanzadeh. "This should be rectified. Otherwise we will announce all we know in defence of the prestige of the government and what we know as facts."
Aug. 26 -- The stuff you learn when you give up hoping for an answer: I'd resigned myself to yelling "they're terrorists, you idiot" at the TV every time substitute words like militants and activists were used when describing the perpetrators of a clearly terrorist act in Israel or Iraq.
Now I learn that militants and activists are terms that indicate judgemental bias and the preferred terminology is bombers, suicidal bombers or attackers. The word terrorists is a big no-no according to this from The BuzzMachine.
Despite the non-judgemental (or is it inoffensive?) hype the Sentinel gives over their decision not to characterize terrorism in Israel as terrorism, they don't address widespread usage of the same nomenclature in Iraq (even though a lot of the media used the T word when the UN was bombed.)
Aug. 26 -- Even as last minute preparations are underway for the 6-way multi-lateral talks with North Korea, U.S. Envoys Hope for 'Wacky Stuff' from North Korea.
Aug. 26 -- In a column in today's National Post, Dr. Daniel Pipes makes this all-important point:
I believe the Islam versus militant Islam distinction stands at the heart of the war on terror and urgently needs to be clarified for non-specialists. The most effective way of achieving this, I expect, is by giving voice to the Muslim victims of Islamist totalitarianism.(Via ++relapsed catholic.)
Aug. 26 -- Hugo Gordon of the National Post tries but still misses the key element that makes various constitutional challenges in the US riveting: agitation born from hope springs eternal because sometimes our Supreme Court reverses bad decisions.
The trouble is, it really doesn't matter what the establishment clause was originally for; it is now widely regarded as the foundation of an axiomatic separation of Church and state, and nothing will change that for the foreseeable future. Whatever the original intent, the toothpaste is out of the tube.So what? Buy another tube of toothpaste!
Granted that this prevailing misunderstanding of the intent of the First Amendment is widespread, I still return to an earlier decision of the SC which also involved separation: Plessy v Ferguson (1896) which established the "separate but equal" doctrine. Although most look at Brown v. Board of Education Topeka (1954) as that which reversed the earlier decision, even a quick review of US history elicits examples that the issue was considered far from settled during the intervening years: in 1939 contralto Marian Anderson
...became the country's third highest concert box office draw. Her successes, however, did not exempt her from racial discrimination. She was often refused accommodations at restaurants, hotels, and concert halls.If you watched the Ken Burns documentary "Baseball," you remember the difficulties segregation caused in travel and accomodation for the Negro Baseball League. Add in ongoing efforts and publications by activist W.E.B. DuBois for racial equality for American Negroes, the activities of the NAACP, and Pres. Truman's Executive Order which desegregated the armed forces in 1948 and you must conclude that not everyone believed that P v F settled everything.
The most highly publicized racial instance involving Anderson occurred in 1939 when Hurok and officials from Howard University tried to arrange a concert for her in Constitution Hall, the largest and most appropriate indoor location in Washington, D.C. The hall's owners, the Daughters of the American Revolution, sparked national protests when they refused to allow her to sing there.
In answer to the protests, the United States Department of the Interior, with active encouragement from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, scheduled a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939. The Easter Sunday program drew a crowd of 75,000 people and millions of radio listeners, and the entire episode caused the news media to focus greater attention on subsequent cases of discrimination involving Anderson and other African Americans.
Another possible conclusion is that we Americans are a stubborn, hard-headed bunch.
Aug. 26 -- News Junkie Canada is looking particularly hard at the CBC in two posts today: You Won't Find This on the CBC Website and CBC May Omit News of Actual Arrests of Suspicious Pakistanis -- CBC Never Misses Allegations of Police Racism.
Aug. 26 -- Instapundit has an excellent round-up and analysis of the ongoing saga of the BBC and the Hutton Inquiry. Were the word "quagmire" not already over used, I would be tempted to use it here. Gotta hand it to the BBC, they deal with issues as effectively as any Social Democratic government.
Aug. 26 -- If it wasn't about an event so tragic, this article about Chirac's TV appearance trying to account for the astonishing number of deaths due to the heatwave in France would be funny.
The day after his return from a three-week holiday, Mr Chirac broke his long and much-criticised silence to express sympathy with the families of the many people who had "died alone in their homes" during the "exceptional" heatwave.There are so many Chretien moments in this article I'm tempted to start a drinking game.
The minister for the elderly admitted that 10,000 people had "most probably" died in what, after days of denials, is being seen in France as a humanitarian catastrophe.
During a highly charged cabinet meeting, the first after the fraught holidays, Mr Chirac called on several key ministers to explain their part in the weeks of crisis that have troubled France in his absence.
In the course of the two-hour session, the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke about the forest fires which destroyed thousands of hectares of land in the south of the country, the environment minister reported on the record-breaking pollution levels, the beleaguered health minister, Jean-François Mattei, was forced to explain why hospitals had coped so badly with the aftermath of the heatwave, while the agriculture minister outlined the massive scale of problems facing farmers after months of drought.
A far better account is over at The Dissident Frogman which highlights living (or should that be dying?) conditions in the hospitals.
Aug. 26 -- Etobians are rather proud that the two most frugal councillors in Toronto are from our area. The office expenses of the members of Toronto City Council are under scrutiny and it always makes for interesting reading. Remember: they are allotted $53,100 per year and have another 4 months to go.
Sue-Ann Levy of the Toronto Sun also looks at the office expenses and applauds Rob Ford in her column Frugal councillor scopes his colleagues' expenses (link will die shortly.)
Aug. 26 -- Two Iranian officials have been ordered to stand trial for her "sudden death" according to the Iranian official news agency.
According to this, the two charged are women health-care workers, a nurse and a personal caregiver.
The pair are thought to have tortured the 54-year-old journalist at various times during her 77-hour incarceration, using unspecified tactics that although extremely painful, are not designed to kill.The Iranian government has not officially notified Canada of the arrests. Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said the usual things but there is no mention in this article as to whether her body will be returned to Canada.
In the case of Ms. Kazemi, however, the beatings proved fatal, paving the way for a charge of "complicity in semi-intentional murder."
But Stephan Hachemi, Ms. Kazemi's only son, expressed outrage at the developments, saying the accused women are being prosecuted only to protect the high-ranking officials who actually killed his mother.
(National Post link via Neale News.)
UPDATE: Paul has a link in which officials with the Iranian intelligence agency deny any involvement in Kazemi's death. Given that there are also allegations of rape, could that be another reason why they refused to return her body to Canada?
Aug. 26 -- Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun is a vet of the Korean War. He has been in South Korea during the ceremonies that marked the ceasefire 50 years ago and has a thoughtful analysis in KIM HAS TO GO:
Of course, chaos would reign if, say, Kim died in a traffic accident. I'm not suggesting assassination, partly because that's a slippery slope for a democracy to contemplate, and partly because Americans aren't very competent when it comes to assassinations, especially of dictators. Mostly it's American novelists who excel in assassinations -- Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, take your pick.Both points are valid, something I try to remember when I think of that other enemy of peace, Yassar Arafat. In ending, Worthington reminds us of something too often forgotten:
Those who deplore the military, and see its mere existence as an indictment preventing a harmonious future, might look at the two Koreas and ponder the words of former U.S. Marine chaplain Dennis O'Brien:UPDATE: I don't know if Paul read my admission yesterday that I was depressed by Monday's news, but his comments about articles about "Dear Leader" here, here and here are damned funny.
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
"It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
"It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
"It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
"It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Aug. 26 -- This says it all: Muslims, Hindus both mourn victims of bomb attack in Mumbai, India.
"Even after the blasts, both Hindus and Muslims were together in the rescue," Rokadia, the Muslim leader, said before the ceremony. "If the aim was to create a distance between the two communities, the perpetrators have failed."In related news, Explosions in southern Russia killed at least 3 and injured 23.
On Tuesday, about 200 Muslims waving the national flag and peace banners marched in Mumbai to condemn the bombings.
[Vitaly Tushev, duty officer at the local branch of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry] said the type of the explosive devices and possible motives behind the blasts weren't immediately known. Some officials pointed to terrorism, while others suggested that a criminal score-setting might have been the aim.
The attackers used explosive devices each containing about 200 grams of TNT and put them on top of bus and tram stops, Lemeshev said. The bombs were stuffed with metal bolts, nuts and screws for maximum damage.
Aug. 26 -- From the Sacramento Bee, Floridian Dave Barry doesn't like the attempt by California to regain the title of looniest state in the Union: A Floridian is riled about the recall. Excerpts:
I came out to California because I've been reading disturbing reports that my state, Florida, is about to lose the coveted title of "The Doofus State," which we Floridians worked so hard to win after the 2000 presidential election by not being able to figure out whom we voted for. We have been The Doofus State for two lousy years, and now these greedy Californians, who had the title for decades, are trying to get it back.
So now there's going to be an election to decide whether to recall Gray. Gray is a Democrat, so the Democratic Party pretty much has to support him, although its support has been less than enthusiastic, as indicated by the party's official campaign slogan: "Gray Davis: Maybe He'll Improve." If Gray gets dumped, there are literally hundreds of candidates vying to replace him. Under California election law, virtually anybody can run for governor, except smokers.
Aug. 25 -- I'm not exactly missing in action, but most of the news I've linked to has already been admirably covered by other bloggers or has depressed the hell out of me.
We're going to visit some relatives tonight, and will welcome a break with politics.
Hopefully I'll get home tonight with renewed energy or just collapse in bed! Take care everyone.
Aug. 25 -- This report of 2 bombing attacks in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is quite chilling. Over 44 people have died, and India is accusing Pakistan of backing the terrorist groups that planted the bombs (although no one has taken responsiblity yet) and Pakistan is denying any connection.
Further bloodshed was averted when
Hours later, nine mine detonators were found on a railway track on a major line 85 kilometers (about 50 miles) north of Mumbai at Kafara, said Chhagan Bhujbal, provincial home minister.Relations between Pakistan and India are fragile at the best of times, and it has often occurred to me that, by worsening relations between the two countries, the terrorism directed at India and in particular the Kashmir region is done with the specific aim of destabilizing relations further.
The detonators were planted on a line to the city of Nashik, where a major Hindu festival is under way through Wednesday.
Aug. 24 - Oliver North notes the Syrian connection to the terrorist attack in Baghdad and points out that Mr. Annan and his cronies at the U.N. need to stop talking about their "shock," "horror," "outrage," "dismay," and "surprise," and get on with doing something about it.
If the U.N. wants to help prevent more of these murders, the members will help the United States, Britain and Australia hunt down the organizers, cut off their money and make it clear to those in Damascus and Tehran there will be terrible consequences if they continue to harbor and support terrorists.What a concept.
Aug. 24 -- We don't forget the struggle for freedom in Hong Kong and the hope for a First step to China's freedom.
... there is an appropriate U.S. response. We should stand on the sidelines and cheer. These Hong Kong demonstrators deserve our admiration. They carry the torch of liberty and, in a sense most that Americans can appreciate, are our brothers and sisters. What the tariff on tea did for the American Revolution in the 18th century, Article 23 may do for a Chinese revolution in the 21st century. May providence smile on these brave Hong Kong residents.
Aug. 24 - Mark steyn is deadly serious in Iraq is battlefield for war vs. terror. He points out that Brazilian Sergio Vieira del Mello was probably targeted for assassination because he was
the individual most directly credited with midwifing East Timor into an independent democratic state. Osama bin Laden (or rather whoever makes his audiocassettes) and the Bali bombers have both cited East Timor as high up on their long list of grievances: the carving out, as they see it, of part of the territory of the world's largest Islamic nation to create a mainly Christian state. Now they've managed to kill the fellow responsible.Australians have speculated that their intervention in East Timor was the probable reason they were targeted in the Bali and Jakarta bombings, but this fairly obvious dot-connecting is ignored by the media because the US had nothing to do with East Timor, and if the press can't find a way to blame the US, they don't want the story.
The media's excuse during the Iraq War is that the press lacks historical perspective, but we're talking about events that happened within the last 10 years. In fact, how much have you seen in the North American press about the recent Australian-led intervention in the Solomons?
At the moment, there's only one hyperpower (the United States), one great power (the United Kingdom) and one regional power (Australia) that are serious about the threat of Islamist terrorism. There's also Israel, of course, but Israel's disinclination to have its bus passengers blown to smithereens is seen as evidence of its ''obstinacy'' and unwillingness to get the ''peace process'' back ''on track.'' What a difference it would make if one or two other G-7 nations were to get serious about the battle and be a reliable vote in international councils. But who? France? It's all business to them, unless al-Qaida are careless enough to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Canada? Canadians get blown up in Bali, murdered in Iran, tortured in Saudi Arabia, die in the rubble of the UN building in Baghdad--and their government shrugs. Belgium? They'd rather issue a warrant for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld than Chemical Ali.
Aug. 24 -- The death tolll from the bus boming in Jerusalem rose to 21, but the Palestinian leadership is shamelessly playing the victim card again as Israeli tanks roll into West Bank and are appealing to the international community:
... Palestinian officials urged the U.S. and other countries to help broker a truce after a week of violence that threatens to sink the Washington-backed "road map" to peace.How tempting to reply "Call France."
"We've reached a point where the situation is in urgent need of foreign intervention so that we can return to the political track," Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr said after a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.
UPDATE: According to the Washington Times, Palestinian security forces say they began yesterday afternoon rounding up suspects and weapons and have closed off three tunnels which was used to smuggle arms and drugs (?) from Egypt.
Gee, it seems like only yesterday PM Mahmoud Abbas said they would not crack down on terrorists (er, I mean militants, of course).
[Israel Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir said] "We expect Dahlan to take his 20,000 troops and to start making arrests of the terrorists," he said. "We don't need any more words."Thank you, Secy. Powell. It looks like Arafat has responded to your request and is using his influence -- to tighten his hold over the PA.
Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat said the closure of the tunnels reflects the Palestinian Authority's determination to enforce the law.
"The obstacle to this [crackdown] now is the Israeli policy of incursions, assassinations, building walls and noncompliance with the road map," he said.
"We received messages from the Palestinians, through the Americans, that Dahlan promises to act tonight against the tunnels," the official told the Associated Press. "This week, he will take control of Hamas and Islamic Jihad installations in Gaza and will confiscate their weapons."
On the political front, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction approved the appointment of Nasser Yousef as interior minister with wide powers over security issues.
Mr. Abbas has yet to approve the appointment of Mr. Yousef, who is considered close to Mr. Arafat and could compete with Mr. Dahlan, an Abbas ally, for power in the security sector.
Aug. 23 -- Ralph Peters has a beauty in the New York Post and makes this point:
Now that the damage is done, the U.S. Army's welcome. A company of our 82nd Airborne Division took over external security for the site last week.
But what were the first complaints we heard from the media "experts"? That the U.S. Army was to blame, because it failed to provide adequate security.
In fact, we offered the U.N. armored vehicles. They told us to take a hike. U.N. bureaucrats put more trust in the good will of terrorists and Ba'athist butchers than they did in GI Joe.
Of course, no one at U.N. headquarters had any public thanks to offer our soldiers. By the end of last week, the French delegation had already warned its U.N. colleagues not to be tricked into supporting American and British efforts to help the Iraqi people just because of a terror bombing.
Aug. 23 -- Justice Moore of Alabama has ordered the installation of an Oath of Office Monument. Read this before you undertake any discussion of the controversy over the appropriateness of the court monument in Alabama.
There was another mean-spirited editorial in todays The Globe and Mail. Why they chose to comment about something they do not understand and which is none of their freaking business is beyond me, but it's not really up to me to keep fools from doing that which comes naturally.
Nevertheless, it's time again to remind everyone that the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the US Constitution nor in its amendments. That phrase is an opinion. Constitutional interpretation is a thriving enterprise, thank you, and I think it denotes a healthiness in the US body politic that we discuss not only what is and is not permissible under the First Amendment but gosh! even what constitutes states rights and what falls under federal jurisdiction. If Canadian pundits weren't incapable of more than cheap shots, this key element of States' Rights in the monument battle might actually be of some interest to Canadians given the ongoing struggles between the provincial and the federal government over who has jurisidiction over what, hmm?
In all the discussions about gay marriage and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why does the Canadian Constitution never come up? Does anyone up here have the faintest idea what it states about federal and provincial jurisidictions especially as regards to marriage?
It seems that the premier of Ontario isn't pleased that Ontario officials are not involved in the leadership of the joint-task force. Isn't that something which should be of tremendous concern to every Canadian? Why is the federal government excluding the Ontario government? Is it constitutional?
You see, that's my real beef with so much focus on, or less kindly, obsessive stalking of, issues that are going on in the United States that are totally irrelevant to Canadians. Far too many up here seems to think themselves experts in US Constitutional law but know f-all about their own law. Doesn't it occur to anyone that maybe that's the way some powers like it?
Quickly: what are the opening lines of the Canadian Constitution? of the Charter?
I'll bet everyone up here knows a great deal about the Scott Petersen and Kobe Bryant cases, but what do they know about the trial in Vancouver with those accused in bombing an Air India flight? (Sue me: I'm too pissed off to google for the defendents' names and I don't want to misspell them.)
The Globe and Mail editorial dismissed the entire controversy as being between fundamentalists and those enlightened ones who argue on the basis of separation between church and state. That, of course, is how the issue of gay marriage has been characterized. Isn't that amazing? Is it a coincidence, or was it a neat sleight of hand which subtly killed two birds with one stone?
As this curiosity is coming from someone who supports extending the benefits of marriage to gays, you may assume that I'm not throwing a red herring of my own into the fray but expressing my concern about the inability of the Canadian press and public to focus on Canadian issues.
Thank goodness for Canadian bloggers. They never forget their main focus is Canada.
Aug. 23 -- According to the Washington Times, the U.N. added security before blast in Iraq. Further, Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner who is working to re-establish an Iraqi police force
... said the United Nations was responsible for its own security guards and he was not sure whether the organization had a procedure to screen people who had worked for the former regime.and this statement
Most of the U.N. security guards at the compound had been placed there by Saddam's security service before the war and reported on U.N. staff movements at the Canal Hotel, headquarters for U.N. inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction.
The United Nations has said it won't increase the number of U.S. soldiers standing guard outside its facilities from the dozen or so it had before the attack.Now I read this article about attempts to pass a resolution at the UN which would have UN troops stationed in Iraq:
"I think most member states ... would want to see further internationalization through broadening of a U.N. role to permit them to join the operations on the ground," Mr. Annan told reporters yesterday after a brief meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.So the UN, which knowingly hires collaborationists with the Saddam regime to guard it, is irresponsible which is why the recent bombing is the fault of the US, and they are capable of responsiblility which is why any UN troops stationed in Iraq would not not operate under coalition control but we would be responsible for sharing information with them and Saddam regime collaborationists.
"It would also imply not just burden-sharing, but also sharing decision and responsibility with the others," he added.
I would like to submit that Kofi Annan is offering all the best reasons for the US to get out of the United Nations.
Aug. 23 --
Dear Mr. President:
The ways of my government are strange indeed. I have read today that you ordered the funds of groups associated with Hamas frozen:
SEATTLE -- U.S. President George W. Bush froze the assets of several groups with ties to Hamas yesterday and said Palestinians yearning for an independent state must "dismantle the terrorist network." Bush pledged to continue pushing for peace in the Mideast despite a rise in violence.Mr. President, I thought those funds were ordered frozen months ago. Do Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah also have unfrozen funds in the US?
Earlier yesterday, the U.S. administration froze the assets of six Hamas leaders and five European-based organizations it says raise money for the radical Palestinian group.
The charities whose assets were frozen included a support group based in France called the Committee for Charity and Aid for the Palestinians; the Association for Palestinian Aid in Switzerland; the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, or Interpal, headquartered in Britain; the Palestinian Association in Austria; and the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development, which is based in Lebanon.
We can't continue to allow Israelis to die so that we can appear even-handed in the Mid-East. I want to hope that the appointment of Dr. Pipes indicates that we are asserting ourselves, but recent remarks by State Secy. Powell calling upon Yassar Arafat to help stop attacks on Israel confirm not that we are even-handed but that we are either confused or sending mixed signals.
I'm an American citizen, Mr. President, and I am entitled to know what my government's position is.
Aug. 23 -- In this followup to this report about the 19 men detained by the RCMP, I was reminded of this which referenced an article about The MacKenzie Institute's report "Overseas Wars: A Review of Overseas Terrorism in Canada" in the National Post (link dead; go to links here and here) which stated that there are 10,000 terrorists in Canada and another National Post article (and another dead link) about the anger of Ontario law enforcement officials that 59 known war criminals are at loose in Canada, probably in Toronto, but the federal government won't release photos to help track them down because it would violate the war criminals' privacy.
According to The Public Safety Act an amendment to the Immigration Act contains a provision
suspending or terminating refugee determination proceedings if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the claimant is a terrorist, senior official of a government engaged in terrorism or a war criminal.I'm actually not making a point so much as trying to gather loose threads and see what they indicate, but the extent to which Canada is committed to the War on Terror still seems contradictory.
Also, I am going to blogroll Israpundit.
CAIR has voiced their displeasure, and I'm voicing my pleasure (or rather my delight.)
"This back-door move by the president is a defeat for democracy and an affront to all those who seek peace," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper in a statement. "Pipes's appointment calls into question all of President Bush's previous statements claiming that the war on terrorism is not an attack on Islam and shows distain for the democratic process."They just don't get it. This is an affirmation of democracy and an affront to those who would have America ruled by special interest groups. Far too many Americans have lost faith in a Congress that dillies and dallies for fear of offending someone and, in the process, have offended those of us who believe that it is more important to speak the truth than worry about feelings.
The USA does not want a cultural confrontation with Muslims, but we are not going to appease the segments of that religion that call for our extermination either.
Quite frankly, I think that Muslims in both Canada and the United States deserve better leadership than that of groups like CAIR.
(Via The Canadian.)
Aug. 23 -- If you've been following the inquiry into Dr. David Kelly's suicide you may be interested in this Hutton Inquiry Web Site which is an online transcript of the inquiry itself.
Imagine that: a way to follow something yourself without relying on whatever spin the news media chose to present as fact.
Aug. 23 -- I've spent over an hour here at Jay Currie's blog. He's got so much linkage to great spots and a picture posted under "The Real War" that must be seen to be believed.
Go! You won't be disappointed.
According to this the Canadian Foreign Affairs Office sent observers to his trial.
He is accused of spying for Israel. Lebanon is currently occupied by Syria (a country I've ranted about a few times already so consider it already said) and the host of the recent Francophonie meeting.
Also, note that the CBC page link for the story is full of inaccuracies and evasions. For example, they say the Canadian Embassy was not notified immediately when in fact the Embassy was never notifed by Lebanon -- a friend of Balfour's reported the arrest to Balfour's sister in Canada after Balfour had been held for over 10 days and she contacted authorities.
Aug. 22 --According to this CNN report:
GAZA CITY, Gaza (CNN) -- Thousands of Palestinians packed the streets of Gaza City on Friday to mourn the death of top Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab and denounce Israel for killing him.It's nice to see that some people are happy about this, but I doubt anyone else is. /sarcasm
Many of the Palestinians fired gunshots into the air, and chanted angry messages against Israel, which remains on high alert, fearing a retaliatory attack for Abu Shanab's death. CNN Correspondent Michael Homes estimated the crowd at around 50,000 people.
Speakers used public address systems to urge the Palestinian Authority to break off talks with Israel. Crowds chanted "The road map is dead," "It is time for martyrdom," and "It is time for revenge."
Aug. 22 -- I have to admit I didn't pay much attention to this news item when it first came out other than laugh with those who suggested it might be more appropriate to name White Elephant Mirabel after PET.
Check out what they say. (I know when to keep my mouth shut.)
Aug. 22 -- Newest entry by Salem Pax in which he makes some valid points about the difficulties of Iraqis who are in the "wrong place at the wrong time" category running afoul of the US Military. The fact that the problems are exacerbated by soldiers who are more than jumpy due to terrorist attacks coming at them out of the blue doesn't change the fact that innocents are going to be caught up accidentally.
Aug. 22 -- Geoffrey Allen has two excellent posts here and here that express my feelings about both the flag and the pledge (yes, I am one of those people who stands up to honour both the American and Canadian flags and anthems even in the solitude of my own living room.)
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 22 -- According to this, this
A U.S. intelligence report claims a Saudi humanitarian organization that operates in Canada has funded "militant training camps," shipped weapons to Afghanistan and had ties to Osama bin Laden.(Via Neale News.)
The International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) is named in the 1996 document as one of 15 organizations that "employ members or otherwise facilitate the activities of terrorist groups in Bosnia."
The document ties the group, which has an office in Ontario, to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, a man convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plots to kill the Pope and attack U.S. airliners.
UPDATE: According to this there are some counter-terrorism efforts happening in Canada although getting action might be harder than we would hope.
Aug. 22 -- The Washington Times editorial page makes the same points about Syria that numerous bloggers have been making about Syria's malevolent role in terrorist attacks in Iraq and delivers a well-deserved shot at the US State Department:
Unfortunately, the State Department has been sending mixed signals about its determination to confront Syria. While Mr. Bremer argues for a strong U.S. stance, Mr. Powell's spokesman, Richard Boucher, undercut Mr. Bremer on Tuesday, asserting that Foggy Bottom wants to see "continued" progress from Syria in preventing terrorism. This puts Mr. Powell in a difficult position. When Mr. Bremer assumed his current post in May, Mr. Powell was said to consider this a political victory, because Mr. Bremer has excellent relations with senior officials at State and Defense. Now, Mr. Powell's spokesman seems to be subtlety contradicting Mr. Bremer. Perhaps it is time for President Bush to weigh in forcefully in support of Mr. Bremer's more realistic worldview.The distressing failure of the US State Department to protect American interests after the attack on the USS Cole can be found here in the story of FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill and how his development of ties with Yemeni intelligence were thwarted by US Amb. Barbara Bodine (Ms. Bodine was dispatched to Iraq shortly after the establishment of the US administration there and quickly removed. I never did learn the real reason why, but maybe they heard my cries of anguish from Toronto.)
It's time for some thorough housecleaning over at the State Department.
Aug. 22 -- From the Sun (UK) editorial:
Some ceasefire(Their emphases)
WHAT a bunch of hypocrites the Hamas terrorists are.
After the Israelis kill one of their murderous leaders, they declare their “ceasefire” is over.
Don’t fall for that propaganda nonsense.
If there really was a ceasefire, and the Palestinians didn’t continue to murder men, women and children, there would be no need for the Israelis to keep striking back.
The Israelis only retaliate when attacked. They don’t initiate violence.
Aug. 22 -- The imminent uproar over the appointment of Dr. Daniel Pipes to the the board of the US Institute for Peace is a classic witch hunt.
Concerns about militant and violent Islamic groups and individuals were dismissed and scoffed at prior to Sept. 11, and now the same political forces that charge that the US government was negligent and thus culpable in the attacks are now expressing their righteous fury over Dr. Pipes' appointment because he refuses to minimize the real dangers we face.
I have never wanted any apology from Muslims for Sept. 11 because I don't blame religions for atrocities: I blame the individuals who conduct and give material support to those who do the atrocities.
Dr Pipes denies anti-Islamic bias, contending that extreme Islam is a grave problem, to which moderate Islam is the solution.There seems to have been 3 main reactions from Arab-American and Arab-Canadian groups: committment to rooting out those in their communities that threaten their countries, going about their everyday lives and hoping it passes (which I am by no means condemning), and hysterical accusations of racism and ethnic profiling whenever one of their people is arrested until the overwhelming evidence proves his guilt.
A well-organised opposition campaign has distributed articles in which Dr Pipes singled out Muslims as meriting special scrutiny by law enforcement agencies.
In particular, opponents cited an opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph, stating that, worldwide, extreme Islamists constitute "a small but significant minority of Muslims, perhaps 10 to 15 per cent of the population ... many of them are peaceable in appearance, but they must all be considered potential killers."
Dr Pipes argues that his point is no more than simple logic. "We need protection from the ideology that has targeted us, both in violent and non-violent ways: militant Islam," he said yesterday.
"If you're looking for supporters of militant Islam, where are you going to look? By analogy, if you are looking for a rapist, where are you going to look? In the male, or the female population?"
The arrests in the US and Europe in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 told any astute observer that people who were under surveillance already were the ones arrested. The accompanying outcry was probably raised with all good intentions, but the reality is that the automatic assumption that innocent people were being unfairly targeted before any facts were in only raised suspicions on the part of average Americans.
Newsflash: I would not object to the deportation of anyone who celebrated the Sept. 11 attacks. We'll protect their precious civil rights, but I want them gone.
The true danger now is that the sensitivities of the public are being so dulled so that if and when there is a miscarriage of justice it will be harder to gather support.
You all know the fable of the little boy who cried "Wolf!" Eventually a real wolf comes along but no one heeds the warning. Dr. Pipes is no wolf, but who will be listening if a real wolf comes along?
Aug. 22 --
Abu Bakar Bashir, the Indonesian Muslim cleric accused of leading the terrorist group blamed for the Bali bombings, broke down in tears yesterday and warned judges at his treason trial that they would "go to hell" if they convicted him.Bashir is on trial for his part in the Christmas bombings of Christian churches in 2000 and plotting to kill Megawati Sukarnoputri when she was Indonesia's vice-president.
Although he is not charged in connection with the Bali attack of last year, he is said to be emir of Jemaah Islamiya (which he denies exists.)
According to analysts it adopted violence after a now deceased co-founder established links with Osama bin Laden, once described by Bashir as a "hero defending Islam".
August. 22 -- Whoa, British media is as tacky as ours: Channel 4 in the UK is going to make a television factual drama out of the the Iraq dossier row and Dr. David Kelly's death Making a drama out of a crisis.
Aug. 22 -- In an interesting twist to the investigtion into the bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad there are suspicions that the bombers had inside information, perhaps from Iraqi security guards:
"They clearly had support from Iraqi security guards inside who gave intelligence to the planners of the attack," the official said on condition of anonymity.Only the UN would be daft enough to hire anyone from Saddam's intelligence services. I thought they wanted to be less intimidating to the Iraqi people ...
"It was a well-prepared attack. The target was Sergio Vieira de Mello, that much is clear," he said, referring to the top UN envoy in Iraq killed in Tuesday's bombing.
"They knew where Vieira de Mello's office was and they knew they would find him in his office and they packed the vehicle with the maximum amount of explosives. The vehicle was positioned in the spot where it would make that part of the building collapse," the official said.
He said some of the Iraqi guards at the Canal Hotel, the UN's headquarters in Baghdad, had been hired under the toppled regime of Saddam Hussein and had links with the fallen dictator's intelligence services.
UPDATE: Instapundit wonders if maybe the UN officials were looking too closely at the oil for food program. There are some pretty nasty international implications in that thought and someone very suspicious (me) suddenly wonders anew about Annan's assignment of blame to the US for the bombing.
I found that she is witty, blunt, and, if she does the hyperbole as her critics charge, she does it with class.
Personally, I like both her and Mark Steyn for the same reason: they have something to say and are not overly worried about someone's itty bitty feewings getting all hurted. So I have to read their columns more than once to get over the giggles and focus on the message; I consider it time well spent.
She points out (repeatedly) in It Depends What The Meaning Of The Word 'Deficit' Is that one thing in Arnold Schwartzenegger's favour is that he is not Gray Davis, and then offers this tantalizing observation:
Schwarzenegger was the moving force behind Proposition 49 last year, a taxpayer-funded after-school program for students. Admittedly, that doesn't sound like the mark of a Milton Friedman conservative. But, curiously, Proposition 49 was opposed by all the right people, including the California Federation of Teachers, the League of Women Voters of California and the American Association of University Women. Supporting the proposition were the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Business Roundtable and various taxpayer groups.
Aha, that explains why he is said to have no experience in politics. They meant approved experience.
It turns out that Schwarzenegger's after-school programs would be paid for out of the state's general fund - unless the fund dried up. The Parasite Lobby opposed the after-school programs on the grounds that it would reduce flexibility in government spending and divert money away from other needed programs - such as even bigger pensions for the parasites. Schwarzenegger's initiative basically required that some taxpayer money be spent on taxpayers. It's not as good as a tax cut, but at least Schwarzenegger is not Gray Davis.
That's almost as good as an endorsement. And "Parasite Lobby," heh. (Sheesh, maybe I really am an Ann Coulter.)
As I maintained from the beginning, Arnold's chief asset is that he was not selected by a party machine and Californians (and probably everyone else in the civilized world) are sick of being screwed by the Big Party Machine. Californians are just pissed off and rebellious enough (as were the people of Minnesota when they voted Jesse Ventura into office) to go for the unproven maverick instead of the hack.
C'mon, Canadians, tell me you don't sympathize.
Aug. 21 -- OK, admittedly corny title which in no way compares to Paul's Tour de Blog, but I'm working on it, okay?
The Meatriarchy has a truly astounding report from the National Post: Audrey McLauglin, former head of the NDP, is in Iraq and supports the US-led war. I'm still in shock.
The Campblog backs him up, though, and also had the fortitude to watch CNN Crossfire yesterday with Jeanne Garafalo in the left chair.
Over at The Ambler is a good analysis of what Chretien means when he speaks. (I guess you'd have to live in Canada to get why this is important.) It's also very funny.
The Canadian is giving fair time to Tom Nagy who will be joining the faculty of McMaster University and their Centre for Peace Studies. He also gives a terrific link to a free firewall program.
French Libertarian has a Q&A that tests your Political Correctness acumen that is hysterically funny. Ah, the politics of the absurd . . .
You might also want to scroll down to the next post and read a speech given by Charleton Heston in 1999. I disagree with one part of Francois' analysis: I do not believe that urging someone to kill a policeman falls under the protection of the First Amendment or artistic expression, but I'm not familiar with the song so can't pass judgement.
Jay Currie has an update on the inquiry into Dr. David Kelly's death and it doesn't bode well for the BBC.
Colby Cosh is gettin ready for the CFL season and deconstructs baseball stats. I invited Mr. Debbye, another baseball stat fanatic, to read it and he was impressed.
News Junkie Canada has an excellent post on "The Roadmap to Wish Fulfillment"
The Roadmap to Peace does not have speed bumps; it has huge gaping craters.(Trying out the formatting for blockquotes that NJ gave me.)
Check out Right On! who's learning more about how fragile our electrical infrastructure is and has some tips if you're thinking about purchasing a generator.
Marduk has a post that shows that recalls of 2 State Assemblypeople and 2 State Senators have occurred in the past in California. But c'mon, who ever claimed the left or press had ever taken History in school?
>From Kate in Southern California:
We hereby apologize to those of you who have been inconvenienced by the Northeast Power Failure. It was caused because California is using ALL the power to print ballots!
>From cousin Cheri, a much nicer person than me:
The following is a prayer that was distributed by the United Nations, many years ago. It was written to represent all religions, and belong to all humanity. To be spoken every day with thought and dedication. The prayer speaks for itself.
The Great Invocation
>From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
>From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
>From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men-
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
>From the centre which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.
Aug. 21 -- Some of my blog mates will doubtless be astonished that I support Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore in this controversy and cheer that he has vowed to fight the monument removal order.
I've had many pleasant discussions with people over the "separation of church and state" concept (especially as that wording appears nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.) I have a differing view of what the First Amendment states, and it doesn't bother me if some, most or all of the Supreme Court justices disagree with my opinion.
After all, the US Supreme Court also upheld that which was later considered infamous: Dred Scott and Plessy v Ferguson. Judges are fallible humans.
The practice of civil disobedience is a proud part of our heritage. Those worthy people who ran the Underground Railroad participated in civil disobedience, and giants like Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr., who not only practiced civil disobedience but led countless others to do so as well, did so knowing fully the prices they would pay but were held firm by faith in God and the ultimate righteousness of their causes.
I believe that the Ten Commandments is the legal basis for law in the Unites States. (The same argument could be made for the Laws of Hammurabai which, you may have noticed, are pretty closely paraphrased in the Old Testament.) It isn't so much about religion as it is about our cultural roots and revise all they might, they can't kill the truth.
Please note this is coming from a casual Christian. I don't attend church, and although I respect people for whom religion is a major part of their lives, I don't count myself to be so.
Aug. 21 -- It seems somebody actually cares that Hollywood stars are keeping quiet about Arnold's run for governor. As the author of the piece sounds fairly intelligent, I'm going to assume that she too appreciates the silence.
Ah, but then, how long can it last?
Meanwhile, Streisand and composer and producer Haim Saban are among liberal-leaning Hollywoodites who have quietly contributed money this summer to an anti-recall campaign.
"I can't believe Bill Clinton won't get involved and make some phone calls," Jeffe says. "At that point, they'll all go running, 'Yes, Mr. President.' "
Intentionally humourous, do you suppose?
The former president's (ahem) DNA were all over recent comments by Gray Davis which blamed the recall on "right-wing power grabbers." So, does that mean we have a new acronym, folks? RWPG actually sounds better than VRWPG.
Keep it up, Bill. The more people see you and Hillary standing in solidarity with Davis, the more they will begin to understand where your priorities really are.
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 21 -- Damn, I was hoping the momunent would stay, but Justices order removal of Ten Commandments monument.
The associate justices wrote that they are "bound by solemn oath to follow the law, whether they agree or disagree with it," the AP reported.
Riiiight, in the spirit of Thoreau, Gandhi, ML King . . .
Aug. 21 -- The infamous Chemical Ali was captured several days ago. Millions celebrated belatedly.
Please note, moronic terrorism apologists: this sucker is alive, just like you wanted him. More importantly, just like he wanted. The only way his ass might be saved is if he turns over Saddam.
Now are you all going to shut up and let the Iraqi people decide his fate? I didn't think so.
Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab was killed along with two of his bodyguards by Israeli missiles which struck his car in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas announced an end to the so-called cease-fire with Israel as a result. (There must be some kind of translation difficulty here: how can you end something before you begin it? Oh well, it's probably a cultural thing, right?)
The PA has switched directions so often that I'm afraid I'm going to have to call a balk. First they cancelled all talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, then they said that only PA terrorists were going to be allowed to be armed, and now they are saying its planned crackdown on militants is on hold.
Oh, and they want money from the US to arm the PA security/militant/terrorist forces.
I am not being cynical. I am being a realist based on experience. And, as I am convinced that these multiple changes of direction are with the intention of deceiving the base runners, my balk call stands. It's a judgement call, so they can't argue or I toss 'em.
No surprises here: The IMF and the World Bank, aka wankers, are pulling out of Baghdad because they're so committed to world peace and humanitarian goals that they run and hide when the going gets rough.
UN agencies and other relief organizations are assessing the situation.
Kofi Annan speaks, but I'm going to let Paul handle it because I am so furious I might actually get nasty.
UPDATE: Yes indeed, I was wise to let Paul and The Blogfather handle this one.
Instapundit's reading of Kofi Annan's statement is as follows:
KOFI ANNAN SAYS that the the United Nations is too feckless and irresponsible to be trusted with its own security. Well, yes, that's basically what he says in response to people pointing out that the U.N. mission in Baghdad rejected U.S. offers of more security, and refused to take recommended precautions . . .
Follow the link; the Blogfather gives a rather good smackdown. Oddly, he is using The Vancouver Sun as his link article.
Aug. 21 -- Having a lot of trouble blogging today, computer keeps freezing and my internet connection seems inordinately slow. Also having trouble logging onto other sites with .blogspot designations.
So apologies to both of my readers, I'll keep trying and maybe add some new profanities to the string I already have to see if that shocks the system back into line. (Threats are so useless.)
There are some reports of blackout conditions in pockets of Toronto today, so the problem could be brown-out related. I'm just guessing here ...
Heh, this is also an unscientific test. If I hit "post and publish" then the computer will
b) do as it has been ordered.
UPDATE: Evidently the loss of power was due to a vehicle ramming a hydro pole, not part of any rolling blackouts.
Aug. 20 -- Meet Maryann Watkins of Phoenix, AZ. She's actually an ordinary woman, the kind you live next door to, but with something extra that you can't find up here in Canada: the ability to defend herself.
Great story, and less uncommon than you may think. When I lived in Atlanta (back in the 70's), the laws were similar: so long as your handgun was visible, you were within the law. (I don't know about the "Mexican carry" because that method of toting seems, well, stupid, and I never inquired.)
Aug. 20 -- A second Canadian has died of injuries suffered during Tuesday's bombing of the UN office in Baghdad. Gillian M. Clark was a Toronto native who was working for the Christian Children's Fund of America which is based in Richmond, VA.
The death of another Canadian, Christopher Klein-Beekman of B.C. who worked for UNICEF, had been announced earlier.
Five other Canadians were also injured in the terrorist attack.
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 20 -- Salem Pax, aka the Baghdad Blogger, has this post up at Where is Raed ? with his observations about yesterday's Canal Hotel attack.
(Via The American Mind.)
Aug. 20 -- This is good. This blogger has said everything I've wanted to say but couldn't find the words or release the anger enough to make it succinct.
It should be mandatory reading for those apologists of terrorism.
Aug. 20 -- When I posted yesterday about the bombing of the UN office in Baghdad (I guess it is coming to be known as the Canal Hotel attack) I wanted the UN to be asking itself "Why Do They Hate Us."
Later, I felt a little guilty to be snarky given the deaths of so many innocent people so tried to soften it a bit in an Update, but my travels around other blogs last evening proved that I was far from the only one who felt the need to make the point that maybe those who have constantly tried to make that question the basis for any discussion of terrorism might now realize their error and take another, this time more serious, examination of those who are consumed with hate for all of us (even you, Canada.)
I don't know if that happened, but there are already Idiotarian theories in the blogosphere which blame the US Armed Forces, the CIA, Mossad, Israel, etc., directly for the bombing as well as pundits who are pretending they don't know that the UN chose to leave itself unprotected.
I don't go to Idiotarian sites. My kids joke that they have parental controls on the computer, i.e., controls to keep me off Idiotarian sites as well as websites for the Toronto Star, LA Times, etc. (There aren't, of course, but my kids let me know that they could only take so much ranting and I took the hint.)
Anyway, I want to give full points and credit to some of the inestimable bloggers who have the fortitude to go to such sites and report on the malice that drips from them:
These blog masters and others like them do a lot of the hard lifting in the fight against Idiotarian theories, and indeed they are already at it, poking holes in the pontifications of the those fools who will not admit that the enemy is terrorism. (And let's not kid ourselves, they receive a lot of sh-t because of it, but the upside is that they're targeted because they are good at exposing the lies and slanderers.)
I wonder how many others out there, like me, are content to find out about putrid hate theories through them rather than endanger our own health by visiting those other sites. Anyway, I thank them for being on the frontlines of the struggle and keeping the rest of us informed. It can't be pleasant.
Aug. 20 -- Ralph Peters of the NY Post has an excellent column today on the bombing of the UN office in Baghdad.
First this sobering but neccesary reminder:
We'll also see al Qaeda and other terrorist groups become the senior partners among our enemies, as Ba'athist numbers and capabilities dwindle. There is more innocent blood to come. (Emphasis added)
Both the Dems and assorted lefties try to pretend that "nobody told us" whereas everyone told them as well as the rest of the American people that this would be a long, hard struggle but that "we will not falter, we will not tire, we will not fail." (GWB, 2001)
He also predicts that it is very probable that the UN will not shy away but will stand up to fight evil and thus regain its reputation:
This will be a moment of truth for the United Nations. America and its partners have demonstrated that we will not be deterred by bloodstained bullies. Will the U.N. honor its dead by showing some backbone? Or will it flee Baghdad, handing the terrorists a real, if minor, victory? If the United Nations discredits itself by running away, it will hasten its long decline. If it takes a stand against terror and goes right back to work in Iraq, it may regain a good bit of its faded luster.
The truck bomb didn't simply attack the U.N. - it struck at the U.N.'s idea of itself. The lesson the U.N. must take away is that no one can be neutral in the struggle with evil.
And refers to the inevitable nonsense from the enablers, the appeasers, the anti-Americanists:
Within our own country, every potential Howard Dean voter will declare that the U.N. headquarters bombing proves, for all time, that our occupation has failed, can never succeed, should never have been tried, and, anyway, that we're all bad people for disturbing poor, innocent dictators. Then they'll trot out the nonsense that, since Iraq has become a magnet for international terrorists, we've failed on that count, too.
On the contrary. We've taken the War Against Terror to our enemies. It's far better to draw the terrorists out of their holes in the Middle East, where we don't have to read them their rights, than to wait for them to show up in Manhattan again.
In Iraq, we can just kill the bastards. And we're doing it with gusto. (Emphasis added.)
(He also indirectly endorses the Flypaper theory, likening the rush of terrorists to Iraq as moths to a hurricane lamp, noting that the lamp always wins.)
Aug. 20 -- Aw hell, I guess I could tease The Canadian and ask him to explain this report that states that Canadians are still flocking to the USA to live and are continuing to take out US citizenship (and who obviously aren't scared of al Quaeda, potential terrorist attacks OR The Patriot Act,) but in truth, I find this depressing:
"Canada is one of our top countries for immigration," BCIS spokesman Dan Kane said. "Two percent of all our immigrants come from Canada."
He said the number of Canadians claiming U.S. citizenship in 2001 was also about 7,500, but there were a record 11,000 in 2000.
The BCIS said some 19,500 Canadians moved to the U.S. last year, either to live or work. Some 21,100 Canadians moved there in 2001.
U.S. officials said most of the Canadians claiming U.S. citizenship are highly skilled professionals, mostly in the hi-tech sector. The BCIS said former Canadians prefer to live in California, New York or Florida.
Truth is, I kind of wish they'd stay here and fight the good fight.
Aug. 20 - Too bad for Foreign Affairs Min. Bill Graham that I read this after I was braced by Bill Whittle's glorious essay on Responsibility, so if you like the Minister, be prepared for some insultin'.
Both he and PM Chretien react to the bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad in ways that make me (temporarily) despair for this wonderful country:
Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking at a Liberal caucus meeting in North Bay, expressed condolences to Klein-Beekman's family and called it "absolutely unbelievable" that anyone would attack a UN office.Yes, and the Canadian army wants to go only to places were it can spread peace and happiness. And everyone loves the UN - not. Has he forgotten that al Qaeda was stopped from bombing the UN HQ in NYC in the mid-90's?
"These people are there to maintain peace and help people to build back their society ... It's so incredible that you're attacking the UN," he said. "The UN has only one mission -- to bring about peace, settle disputes, bring people together."
The UN and its's peacekeepers have certainly not been safe as reported here, and although this may be the first time a successful attacks against a UN office was hit, it was mere months ago that 2 peacekeepers were killed in the Congo which prompted Canada, among other nations, to bolster the mission there.
The money quotes, though, were uttered by Bill Graham:
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham also found it troubling that the UN had been targeted by Iraqi dissidents.More troubling than charges that the Saudis tortured Bill Sampson, and the Syrians are torturing Maher Arar? What about the murder of Zahra Kazemi at the hands of the Iranian government?
Furthermore, why does he assume this was done by Iraqi dissidents? Most of us recognize al Qaeda, and even analysts are cautiously accepting the Flypaper theory, calling Iraq a magnet for terrorists who have poured in especially from Syria and Saudi Arabia.
"It's an indication, I think, of desperation on their behalf. I think it's an indication also that we in the world community have to be determined to rebuild Iraq as a free and democratic country where this won't happen." (Emphasis added.)September 11 happened in a free and democratic country, idiot. In fact, the aim of terrorism is to have such events happen in free and democratic countries, or haven't you noticed that al Qaeda has focused on countries like Indonesia and East Timor which are trying to become free and democratic? And what about Israel, which alone of the countries in the Middle East is free and democratic?
Do you really believe in free will and the responsibility it entails? Do a free people have the right to expect others in a free society to act responsibly and face justice when they don't?
A few excerpts (NB: all emphases are Bill's):
They, like me, call themselves conservatives, but we are indeed a new breed: pro-choice, pro-gay, vigorous defenders of equality of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. We're big on freedom and big on responsibility.Although Bill is speaking about the United States in his essays, the message he conveys is universal and certainly applies to Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand because he is reminding us of the concept of inherent rights that have become our heritage from the Magna Carta through to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The left hates us. We are harder to attack than the racist, homophobic, misogynists that they formerly could comfortably lambaste as right-wingers. (And they deserved to be lambasted, by the way - and I'm not even sure what lambasting is, but it does sound nasty and severe.)
Some of them sneer at people like us and call us RINO's: Republicans In Name Only, which seems to indicate to me that they can not conceive of a Republican who is not a racist, homophobic, Christian Fundamentalist. I call these people DIMWIT's: Democrats Intentionally Misusing Words to Invert the Truth.
And so we have group identity advocates. Because if you can convince someone that they are not responsible for their failures and shortcomings, and that someone else is - not a hard sell if you think about it - then they will be willing to subsume their responsibility into that of the group - and with their responsibility goes their political power. Then all the responsibility of the group - and all their power - is concentrated in the hands of the very few who have led them to this position.
People like Jesse Jackson. Or Pat Robertson. Take your pick.
Keep this in mind, my friends: when someone tells you It Takes a Village, remember that the corollary to that philosophy is It Also Takes A Village Leader.
Take a guess who that might be.
Give your responsibility to the group, and you give your freedom to the group. Freedom without responsibility becomes - very rapidly - a farce. When laws become farcical, the result is anarchy. Anarchy is unacceptable - so measures are taken to reduce freedom and increase controls on the population.
Deconstructionism. If ever there was an intellectual movement specifically tailored for a certain type of mental illness, this must surely be it.
[Deconstructionism]... is not coercion of responsibility; this is highway robbery. The idea that a band of nitwits with too much free time on their angry and sweaty little hands, can sit in a small sub-basement classroom at Mediocrity U. and tell Shakespeare what he was really trying to say is simply the most vile and reprehensible hijacking of responsibility and authority it has ever been my unpleasant experience to see.
That is why, when I deconstruct Deconstructionism, all I see is a group of pathetic, talent-free, self-hating fourth-raters secretly sending out a message for someone with some common sense to ride into town and hang them all.
Let's take a relative compassion test, shall we? Who is more compassionate: those that want to extend a helping hand in order to allow someone to get back on their feet, gain an education, recover their self-esteem, manifest their self-worth, and lift themselves from the crippling depths of poverty, or someone who wants to hand them an endless supply of meager checks, just enough to destroy their self-respect, hobble their motivation, and sentence them, and their children, and their grandchildren, and their children, to squalid and wasted lives?
I oppose the creation and maintenance of a class of people perpetually on the dole because we simply can not afford it. And I'm not talking financially - we have the money to do that until the end of time. We cannot afford the human cost. We cannot afford to squander entire generations of Einsteins and Sagans and Mozarts and DaVincis by condemning them to a life that consists solely of pushing a lever and getting a food pellet. We need all the help we can get in this struggle toward a more perfect Union. Training people how to remain passive, dependent and miserable is not noble, it is not just, and it is least of all compassionate.
If we accept responsibility for our own actions, we are indeed worthy of our freedom.
This idea of individual responsibility is a new one. It works. It needs to be defended. If only a small portion of the mass of humanity can see clearly that this is the key to escape the bondage of history, class, race, sex and economic status, then that is simply a message we need to preach to anyone who will listen.
I'm not the least bit ashamed that America is trying to export these ideas to the rest of the world because it is the single most powerful tool we have to end tyranny. We are telling the peoples of the world that instead of slandering us for our prosperity, you can examine our philosophy of freedom and responsibility and then break the chains that restrain your minds and souls.
My question is: Why isn't Canada?
Why would anyone who is committed to human rights oppose these ideas? Which is the more tyrannical: the forces of the left that would condemn the peoples of the world to accepting enslavement for insecure security, or the forces of the right that would uphold the value and legitimacy of every person's freedom?
I guess I am preaching to the converted here, but nevertheless, the next time you're tempted to say It wasn't his/her fault go back to this essay, read it, and ask yourself if we are a free people or conditioned lab rats.
Aug. 19 -- Ont. Premier Ernie Eves praised Ontario residents for their efforts to conserve energy and asked that they continue to keep energy demands down.
Demand for power appeared to peak at 19,180 megawatts at 5:00 p.m. ET, just short of the approximately 20,400 megawatts available to the province on a daily basis.
The province may still impose rolling blackouts in order to avert a repeat of last Thursday's blackout.
Meanwhile, fact finding in the investigation continues. According to this:
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It might have been the unexplained voltage swings that rippled across the power grid here. Or maybe the tree branch that shorted the high-voltage line south of town. The failures of a coal-fired generator and an automated warning system might have played a part.
More likely, say experts, is that these four otherwise innocuous events -- which appear to have started on the northeast Ohio power grid owned by FirstEnergy Corp. -- combined to raise a destructive tsunami that smothered the lights across a huge patch of the eastern United States and Canada.
"In order to have a big problem, you have to have three or four bad things happen all at the same time," said Hoff Stauffer, a power transmission consultant with Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Mins. of Natural Resources Herb Dhaliwal will be co-chairs of the joint task force which is to investigate the blackout. They will meet tomorrow in Detroit to discuss the investigation.
Aug. 19 -- Another murderous attack in Israel as a Bomb rocks Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A powerful suicide bombing aboard a Jerusalem bus killed several people, children among them, and wounded more than 70 others, witnesses and police said Tuesday night.
Israeli news reports said at least seven people were dead, and ambulance services said more than 70 people had been wounded.
Ambulance services said at least 30 people had been carried away from the scene.
The bombing took place aboard a city bus shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday in a Jewish neighborhood near the border between east and west Jerusalem. Another bus was damaged in the explosion, Kleiman said.
UPDATE: According to this, the bus was a stretch bus with two full passenger sections, and the death toll has risen to at least 20 people, including 3 children. There are about 100 injured.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
UPDATE: As had Hamas. Evidently it was a joint venture, and Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas has broken off talks with both organizations. Hmm. Is it to much to hope he will finally go after them?
So now I'm trying not to speculate too much on the astonishing coincidence of both the UN and Israel being hit by bombs within a few hours of one another. OK, I'm tempted, but I'm going to resist.
I have supported President Bush pretty steadily since Sept. 11, but I do not, repeat, DO NOT wish to hear him call for restraint or anything of that nature. I'm not trying to advise Israel on what they should do, but I believe it is time for the USA to put the road map aside and re-affirm our solidarity with Israel. We know who our friends are, we know who our allies are, and it's time to stand with them.
Aug. 19 -- Andrew Coyne savages the media's response to the black-out. Heh.
Millions were left completely in the dark yesterday, as media organizations across the east attempted to come to grips with a paralyzing cliché shortage.
(Via Ambler Index.)
Personal aside: I guess the National Post has dropped whatever vendetta they were waging on me; I've logged onto their website several times these past few days without crashing. That warrants both "hmmm" and "indeed" (TM Instapundit.)
UPDATE: Maybe this should actually be titled "Why do they hate" but I think we already know the answer to that however slow certain agencies and countries are to recognize that this hatred is a virulent, irrational disease.
Aug. 19 -- No, that question is not coming from America. It is coming from the United Nations, or should be, after a Truck bomb rocks U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.
Somehow, though, I actually doubt the question will come up. Only private individuals like me get to point out glaring inconsistencies in the way people react to horrific events.
UPDATE: Live reports from CNN say that UN Secy. Annan, who is cutting his vacation short to return to NYC tomorrow, has already spoken to L. Paul Bremer in Iraq and indicated continuing support for reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Comments by Pres. Bush are being carried on CTV Newsnet and CBC Newsworld, so I don't want to assume that Chretien hasn't responded to this attack on the UN . . .
A statement released by the UNSC: "This horrible attack, aimed at undermining the vital role of the U.N. in Iraq, will not affect our determination. We will stay united against such attacks and to help the Iraqi people restore peace and stability to their country."
I'm probably one of the few, the nasty, nasty few, who wonders if Syria voted to support this statement and, if they did, kept a straight face as they voted.
CNN also reports that the UN had felt that the US agencies were too barricaded and thus gave too unfriendly a visage to Iraqis, which is why security at the building was minimal. They may need to reconsider that stance . . .
As yet, no group has taken responsibility for the truck bomb, but that doesn't stop speculation that al Qaeda is working with the Saddamists and, although the media is not using the word, our presence in Iraq is acting as flypaper.
UPDATE: This article in Reuters has quotations from two sources which indirectly support the flypaper theory:
"The truth is that there are ... still foreign terrorists entering Iraq across the border from Syria," said Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, in remarks published on Tuesday in the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, before the latest bombing.
and Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, said perhaps as many as a few thousand Arab volunteers had come from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria and entered Iraq from Syria.
Hmm, I'm not the only one mentioning Syria, who is a member of the United Nations Security Council.
Aug. 19 -- I strongly urge you to go and take this test. Remember, you only get one chance, and if you fail, you and others DIE.
(Via Tim Blair.)
Aug. 19 -- Remember the documents found by Daily Telegraph (UK) reporter David Blair after the fall of Bagdhad that indicated a money flow to people in Europe and MP George Galloway in the UK? The evidence continues to mount of the vast numbers of people on Saddam's payroll including money spent to pay demonstrators (aka the Arab Street) in the days leading up to the war in Iraq.
Go to Instapundit for the story and links.
Don't forget to file this under "things you already suspected but it's nice to have da proof of da proof".
There can be only one, so dash over here and vote for Paul @Agit Prop All The Time for sexiest male blogger! (Poll on left side, and please be patient, it may take awhile to load.)
This has been an unpaid promotional service on behalf of Canada's sexiest and snarkiest blogger, Paul.
Aug. 19 -- The good news is that for now, at least, we are to be spared a Royal Commission that will investigate the recent black-out.
The bad news is that the joint task force will provide Canadian and American politicians with cover as they promote their different political agendas.
I understand (although I don't necessary agree with) why the US federal govenment is involved: the black-out crossed state lines. I don't understand why the Canadian federal government is involved as Ontario was the only province affected, nor do I understand why the Ontario government is letting them get away with it.
Given the fact that the federal government's response to the SARS crisis acutely worsened the situation and that the federal government was AWOL during the black-out, and given the fact that MP Herb Dhaliwal is publicly anti-American, who really thinks this task force will accomplish anything tangible except deeper cross-border disgust?
As the Flea points out in Power generation, Ont. Premier Ernie Eves has shown terrific leadership during this crisis which cannot be said for anyone in the federal government.
Ernie, why are you backing down now? Given the Feds' inability to respond to a sneeze much less a crisis, you would only score by retaining possession of the ball. It's only 1 and 1, so Don't Punt!
The sensible thing to my way of thinking would be to establish a task force composed of officials from the states and provinces that were affected. Yeah, I know, it makes too much sense and we can't have that.
The cheerful news is that, not surprisingly, investigators are already at work trying to construct a picture of what did and did not happen, and then there's the depressing news of predictable pontificating from Min. Dhaliwal who says that it could be months before a joint Canada-U.S. task force gets to the bottom of what caused the blackout that hit 50 million North Americans last week.
Of course, both news items are accurate. It will take months if not years for the task force to construct their political spin on events, whereas people who read the news and follow the reports will quickly gain some insight as to how the systems broke down and begin to form opinions on what needs to be done.
It almost goes without saying that control freakery will compell the Canadians to promote more centralisation of energy providing services; their American counter-parts, equally into power grabbing, will have a more difficult task because we, the people, have a natural tendency to trust more to local control than federal (in part because it is easier to vote local bums out of office than federal bums.)
Oh well, stay tuned for more fun and games.
UPDATE: Christina Blizzard has a few thoughts:
If you wonder why this province is still staggering to get the juice back on line, while in New York, Broadway, Times Square and the subway were all lit up within hours of the blackout, the answer is largely geographical.
Situated directly due south of Quebec, New York taps into that province's massive James Bay hydro capacity. It can also plug in to power from the New England states, as well as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.
"New York is an electrical jurisdiction that has all kinds of support foundations around it. That's a little bit different situation than we found ourselves in," Bruce Campbell of the Independent Market Operator told a news conference yesterday. While this province also plugs in to Quebec, our other connections are to Michigan, Ohio and New York, all of which had problems of their own.
Critics have been quick to slam privatization for the electricity woes. In fact, the problem is too much public ownership of the grid. Don't forget the fault happened in the wires. Legislation in the U.S. forbids the sell-off of the grid and a recent attempt here to inject some much-needed private sector capital into the antiquated system of wires, by offering shares in Hydro One, was nixed when it proved unpopular.
Although I haven't seen it confirmed in writing, I heard on the news last night that one reason Ontario stayed up and running yesterday was because we bought power from the US. I really hope Min. Dhaliwal doesn't piss off his American counterparts on this joint task force too much . . .
UPDATE: Apparently Ontario did get by on its own power yesterday, as it has been stated that there was no purchase from outside sources.
>From FOXNews, claims that the recent black-out were caused by sabotage cannot be dismissed out of hand simply means that until you know what caused it, you can't rule anything out.
But the reason I'm linking to this is because of claims purportedly made by al Qaeda that they engineered the black-out:
On Monday, the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat ran a story saying a communique attributed to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the blackout, saying that "the brigades of Abu Fahes Al Masri" had hit two main power plants supplying the eastern region of the United States and major U.S. and Canadian industrial cities.
The communique, reportedly posted on the Web site of the International Islamic Media Center (search) and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (search), assured that the operation "was carried out on the orders of Usama bin Laden to hit the pillars of the U.S. economy," as "a realization of bin Laden's promise to offer the Iraqi people a present."
The communique also said: "Let the criminal Bush and his gang know that the punishment is the result of the action ... the Americans lived a black day they will never forget.
"They lived a day of terror and fear ... a state of chaos and confusion where looting and pillaging rampaged the cities, just like the capital of the caliphate Baghdad, and Afghanistan and Palestine were. Let the American people take a sip from the same glass."
"We tell the people of Afghanistan and Kashmir that the gift of Sheikh Usama bin Laden is on its way to the White House."
His head on a pike? Because I could really get into that, you know. [Aside: Does al Qaeda understand the concept of "quartering"? Cause I got four specific locations in mind.]
I don't know how to break it to these would-be spreaders of terror, chaos, confusion, breakdown of social order, etc. etc. etc., but the main result of the black-out is a renewed sense of confidence that we are strong and can handle this type of thing.
We understand words like inconvenience because we understand words like self-reliance. Hence, when kids whine about the lack of power, we tell them to read a book. They know that words like "clean your room" will soon follow if they continue to complain. It's part of our culture.
And you gotta admit, there is a definite upside anytime anything knocks Kobe Bryant and Scott Petersen off as the lead stories on CNN. (Oh, I must send thank-you emails to those judges!)
(I am certainly not minimizing the difficulties of a family living in Baghdad that must cope without reliable power. Were sabotage to be discovered as the cause here too, though, most of us would very sensibly blame the saboteurs.)
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman is the lead-off hitter in Time Magazine's online Verbatim, August 18 - 24, 2003 with his response to the Blame Game Across the Border during the recent black-out.
Aug. 18 -- I believe it is unconscionable for lovers of liberty to actively urge that one sector of society be deprived of equality before the law just because it would make some people (including me) feel uncomfortable. That pretty much sums up my attitude toward gay marriage.
It also seems to me that the outrage is, when all the arguments are stripped down, less about gay marriage than about a overly strong, centralized Federal government that leads less and socially engineers more. Had the government actually tackled this question, the courts would not have had to.
The outrage also about the increased scorn and derision heaped on religious life both here and in the US by those same social engineers who also decry Boy Scouts, cowboys, truly competitive sports, women who chose to stay home to raise their children, visible minorities who vote Canadian Alliance and people who chose home schooling over the mess being run by the Boards of Education.
It's long past time to challenge those Liberals who promote what rational people must recognize as intolerance.
I find it absolutely depressing that finally people are beginning to wake up and recognize that Western values as individuality, personal accountability and personal decision-making are being destroyed by these intolerant nosy Parkers, but that support in this battle is growing because of a desire to repress individuality and personal decisions.
The battleground for Canadians (and Americans) could better be over the mis-named education system, the worship of diversity so long as it's unchallengeable political bias is liberal, the pseudo-science trumpeted by environmental pressure groups who have done more to restrict our ability to provide the power necessary to fuel our ever-growing cities, the failure in Canada to have a Charter that protects ownership of property, in short, the growing nanny state that seeks to impose equal inferiority on all instead of letting individuals strive for excellence.
Is there any way to re-direct the discussion and debate currently going on in Canadian circles? I hope so, because although the starting premise of stopping the legalisation of gay marriages is based on restricting the rights of one group of citizens, the growing understanding among Canadians that somehow, someway, their core values have been challenged in ways that far exceed this temporary issue could have a far-reaching impact on re-vitalising institutions like education that have been watered-down if not outright corrupted by the social engineers.
It's hard for me to tell if I have spoken plainly enough, so I'll boil it down to stating that I believe the real threat is the Liberal Party's unacknowledged policy of social engineering, not gay marriage, and we can accomplish more if we (ahem) move on.
UPDATE: Classical Values adds his thoughts "On the perpetuation of bigoted categories" and starts by asking:
Reacting against bigotry may be a fun form of entertainment, but can it be carried too far?
Good, thought-provoking read, and it provides some historical context from the Victorian era. Dollars-to-donuts he's read the Iliad (and that is more relevant than you who-haven't-read-it probably realize.)
Aug. 18 -- French Libertarian in Quebec has a good post on the truth about gun control.
There used to be bumper stickers that read "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." I haven't seen any up here, but I'll bet they're still popular down south.
Read the article.
Aug. 18 -- From IMAO a new "In My World" bedtime story:
Ashcroft just stared at him. "Anyway, I don’t want to take any nice people's rights away. I was just trying to fight terrorists, by golly, like by passing the Patriot Act, the Victory Act, and the Question this Act and I'll Put You in Jail Act."
"That's the first bill I've seen with the word 'bitch slap' in it," Bush remarked.
"Well, the bitch slap is needed in the fight against terrorism," Ashcroft said, "but I can only use it after getting a court order, you betcha. To speed things up, of course, I have a whole court follow me around in a bus."
Aug. 18 -- No, relax, the latest essay is not yet up at Eject! Eject! Eject! but we do know now that it will be titled "Responsibility".
But this is going to be so good. And I'm bursting with this potential possibility:
As I listened to CNN yesterday, they were reporting information about this latest sniper operating in West Virginia. I thought of a post by a well-known pundit during the Maryland-DC sniper hunt that urged for those law enforcement agencies involved in the hunt to remember that the civilian population can be a pack, not a herd, and that the success of shows like "America's Most Wanted" are indicative of how much American civilians can contribute to tracking down and finding criminals.
What greets my eyes when I logged onto Bill Whittle's site?
NOT A HERD, BUT A PACK -- OF RAVENOUS WOLVES!
Sheesh, I am not only ravenous, I am slatheringly salivating like any good wolfie would. Could Bill Whittle have read the mind of everyone in America who knows that the last snipers were caught because citizens have eyes, brains, and cell phones? Uh, maybe. The essay could be about something else entirely. Right?
I know, I know. It's so wrong to be impatient and irritated because the essay isn't ready. I know it will be worth the wait. I know that genius doesn't perform by a time clock. I know other blog sites beckon.
But I'll be returning there after every other blog site.
UDPATE: I was way, way off base. But it's a great essay nonetheless!
Aug. 18 -- Natalie Solent has a thoughtful entry on the futility of attempts to combat racism by instituting anti-discrimination laws:
Hooke's Law says that when you stretch a spring the force pulling it back will be proportional to the extension. In a normal society something like Hooke's Law would operate on young black men and women as they veered out of the groove of correct behaviour. Small deviations would result in a gentle pressure to get back on the straight and narrow. Anti-discrimination laws might seem at first sight to not to affect this interplay of small corrections, but they do.
This post is something I'll want to read more than twice.
If you had told me in the 70's that racism would still be around in the 21st century I would have laughed scornfully and denied it. Yet it still exists, as does hatred of Jews, Catholics, in short, everything groups like the KKK lists as those conspiring to "destroy our way of life" and the "not real Americans like you and me." (Don't even try to defend the "new and improved KKK" to me: that leopard still has spots.)
The most telling inditement of anti-discrimination laws is that they don't work. Natalie Solent makes a compelling argument that they actually reinforce racism, not combat it.
First she questions assertions that racial hatred necessarily holds someone back:
Any serious - in fact any unserious - study of the way prosperity varies with race will conclude that in an open society you can be rich, successful and accomplished even if your neighbours hate you and discriminate against you. Look at the Jews. Look at the expatriate Indians and Chinese. People of these races raised themselves under a system of cumulative incentives to responsibility. The melancholy exception is the race everyone's trying to hold in position artificially. (Emphasis added)
Then she points to something that is tangential to something I've felt for a long time:
... As I said earlier, I believe that even the early procedures-based anti-discrimination laws may have actually done harm by letting whites off the hook of seeing that they had to change within themselves - but at least those laws mandated finite and just forms of behaviour.
One of the things I hate most about politically correct phraseology was that no thought, inner reflection, or personal convictions were required to utter the correct phrases. In the 50's, 60's and 70's, many people confronted the bigot within themselves; by the 80's and 90's it was adequate to say things correctly even if there was no internalized belief that the things said were actually true.
Could it be that the reason people say things aloud now that would have made most of us blush 35 years ago is that political correctness and affirmative action have removed the need for inner honesty, and bigots felt freer to utter their convictions because they recognized the blatant hypocrisy of uttering correct words which were devoid of actual content?
To what extent the self-victimization of anyone hinders development depends, I guess, on what kind of philosophy one has.
To me, the definition of victim implies that the person is helpless and can do nothing to aid herself. The twist is that it is hard to truly respect someone who doesn't respect herself enough to even try. It doesn't make me feel guilty in the slightest, although I may feel pity.
I am very suspicious of people who encourage self-victimization because I wonder why they would want to disarm anyone of the potent weapons of determination, confidence and hope. Being told that the cards are totally stacked against one is surely an ill-disguised attempt to keep that person down and is not in keeping with a society pledged to diversity and equal opportunity.
If you're looking for answers in this post, forget it. I have none.
Aug. 18 -- This is probably one of the (unintentionally) funniest articles I've read so far in the mainstream press about the black-out: MP John McCallum, Canadian Defense Minister, actually did something before putting his feet in his mouth: Troops were poised to quell looters in Toronto.
OTTAWA -- The federal government was prepared for significant looting and lawlessness and had soldiers standing by, ready to move into the streets of Toronto in the confused early hours of last week's blackout. The expected wave of crime never materialized and the soldiers stayed put.
Had McCallum remembered to sign the paperwork this time to allow the soldiers to carry weapons and ammunition?
"I was surprised and grateful," Defence Minister John McCallum said yesterday.
WRONG ANSWER, you stupid Liberal. (Doesn't that fool come from around here?) You're supposed to go on and on about how wonderful you already knew the folks here are, but just wanted to be on the safe side should something untoward occur.
"We were certainly prepared to provide soldiers as backup to police. But that was unnecessary."
The request for military help never came from Ontario's public security minister, Bob Runciman.
Because he understands it's important to exhibit confidence in the citizenry and the police.
As it turned out, Toronto was remarkably tranquil and calm after nightfall in the initial hours following Thursday afternoon's total blackout.
As opposed to Ottawa, where citizens were inspired to mimic the Federal government's lootin' ways.
"Governments don't usually thank citizens, but in this case, we have to thank the people of Toronto," McCallum said.
WRONGER ANSWER! Only in Canada would a member of Cabinet go around acting dazed and shocked because the citizens behaved decently.
Why the hell are he and the Feds trying to horn in on this? Oh right, because it is a success story which, like so very many success stories, had absolutely nothing to do with them. OK, so they have exchanged a few verbal shots south of the border, which is like so not new, but the provincial government couldn't even get ahold of these guys (although I'm not convinced they really tried) and the consensus on the street is that had the Feds been involved, we'd still be in the dark.
Aha! That's it, of course. We got along just fine without those bastards, and it's eating them up. What reveals irrelevance more than someone trying to prove himself relevant and being ignored?
I think we are seeing an acute case of control freakery.
The federal government was harshly criticized for what seemed to be a befuddled response to the blackout.
McCallum acknowledged that there were some problems in the initial hours following the widespread outage.
He announced that he will head a federal review of the response that will begin today.
Because nothing says control freakery more than heading up a federal review the main feature of which is why nobody answered the telephone.
Aug. 17 -- I see I'm not the only one who is feeling uncomfortable as all-out war threatens between Wise and Venerable Blogfather Glenn Reynolds and He Who Lets Us All Be Ten-years Olds Again, the witty albeit puissant Frank J. (Yeah, I'm sucking up to both. So what?)
Classical Values is trying to appeal for calm and reason and came up with a damned fine strategy to appease the voracious, link-hungry Frank J., but I fear it is too late as my blog touring today shows that bloggers are taking sides and arming themselves with slogans, internet games, counting letters, indulging in limited maniacal laughter and propagandizing with Photoshop.
Obviously, both sides have studied the Rules for Evil Overlords list and are determined to win.
In desperation, Classical Values is threatening self-immolation, but, by using a photo that I think I recognize from Life magazine from the early 60's of a Buddhist monk protesting the on-going civil war in Vietnam (no, kids, this photo is pre-quagmire), may be aiming under Frank J.'s age as he wouldn't even have been born and thus wouldn't understand that this is no idle threat. (I could be wrong on this, though, as Frank J. is aware that until 1947, we had a Secretary of War, not Defense. In fact, Frank is a Secretary of War for Emperor Misha.)
I see no easy solution. The Blogfather cannot yield to Frank J.'s demand for an In My World link, however minor it may appear, because we all know Frank J. will then demand more. Such is the pattern with all extortionists.
Aug. 17 -- Jay Currie is quoted in an Aug. 16 Washington Post article Blame Game Between U.S., Canada Symbolic:
But first a look at the WaPo article and the weird side: many Canadians persist in thinking that the Clintons are just sooo wonderful, and PM Chretien delights in his golfing vacations with good buddy Bill, but who was one of the first to accuse Canada?
About the same time, a Consolidated Edison official in New York and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) shed a different light on the blackout: They said the problem was on the Canadian side.
That right, Hillary "security trumps trade" Clinton.
The WaPo article shies away from stating certain facts; although they mention that ... a minister in Chretien's government called Bush a failed statesman... they fail to identify the minister in question, namely MP Herb Dhaliwal, who will serve as co-chair on the joint task force to investigate the black-out.
Further, they mention the incident during the 2000 election campaign ... when news reports cited a Canadian diplomat saying the government preferred that Al Gore win, a claim Canadian officials disputed... but fail to bring up the critical fact that the Canadian diplomat in question was Chretien's nephew who is now Canada's ambassador to France.
So is the WaPo guilty of concealing the facts or insufficient research?
Jay modestly points out that he was only stating the obvious:
While I love being quoted the fact is that the blame game on the blackout was simply politicians reacting as usual. If you know nothing blame the other guy.
That is just about the neatest and shortest defintion of "politicians" I've read in recent memory.
Aug. 17 -- NERC stands for North-American Electric Reliability Council, a name that must enter blog-culture if only for the fact that they proved to be unreliable, but also for the giggles that arise when you say the acronym aloud. (Isn't there some kind of agency that evaluates acronyms before they enter the market? Maybe they figured no one would ever hear of it so it didn't matter. Uh huh. Like that ever works.)
>From the Toronto Sun's Bob MacDonald A break for Eves:
That huge sigh of relief you heard yesterday came from Ontario Conservative Premier Ernie Eves when he learned the cause of Thursday's massive power blackout occurred in Ohio and not Ontario. And the collective gnashing of teeth that followed came from Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty and NDP Leader Howard Hampton. With perhaps a less-noisy gnash or two from our finally surfacing prime minister, Jean Chretien.
This is just not the liberals' or Liberal Party's year. Everytime they think there's an opportunity to show how correct they are, reality rears it's ugly head and proves them wrong.
Doomday predictions of a breakdown in the social order were defied by the fact that ordinary people asserted by deeds that the social order was capable of looking after strangers and neighbours because our goodness as people is innate, not engineered.
Is this another example of "why they hate us?" Actually, yes. We are a free people, and, as with free people everywhere, we are capable of doing wonderful as well as terrible things. We chose to act with decency, and none of us should ever forget that.
Think back to the California earthquake of 1989, and the pictures you saw of the people holding the fire hoses. You know, the civilians who stepped forward when their city was in need. Think back to the stories of Sept. 11 when ordinary people helped total strangers because they needed help. Closer to home, the instinctive but nevertheless incredible hospitality of the good folks of Newfoundland when they not only sheltered but comforted stranded travellers.
Thane Burnett notes:
When the power returned to my own street, more than 30-hours after in went out, my family and I were starting a walk, and decided to just continue our stroll together, rather than hurry to return home to bow down before the light.
Everyone of the 50-million affected people likely has a story of saving grace -- of things found in the darkness.
It is my dearest hope that when the bleating and finger-pointing commences, as it inevitably will, we remain above all that and cherish our collective memory of this time when each of us was called upon to behave with decency and, by God, responded well.
Aug. 17 -- I suspect that I am far from alone in wanting to read the Great One's take on the Great Blackout of 2003, and here it is: New York blacks out and grows up.
OntCon and TorCon:
According to the Ontario Premier Ernie Eves, it started in Ohio... Invited to weigh these competing claims, the Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman lashed out: "Have you ever seen the United States take the blame for anything?"
This guy runs a city whose hotels are empty this summer due to an increasingly common Canadian ailment called Big Lack Of Americans. If I were running Toronto's Emergency Response Team, their first duty would be to duct-tape His Honour and lock him in the basement...
Heh. That's our Little Mayor, speaking off the cuff; and it looks increasingly as though only Premier Eves had it right all along. That's something to think about as the Opposition Parties continue to utter banalities.
My kids are up and must retrieve their email, check ICQ, AOL-IM, MS Msgr, etc. Wise as I am, I'm leaving and let them figure out who goes first, what time limits they'll observe, etc.
Good Saturday to you all!
Aug. 16 -- I just got a phone call from a friend who lives east of here; she regained power late Thursday night and has just lost it again. Looks like the rolling black-outs will be taking place, so if I lost my internet connection I wish each of you a safe and non-eventful Saturday.
>From the Ottawa Citizen: The Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York and Washington was an eye-opener. First, it revealed the existence of America-hating terrorists operating in secret cells across the U.S. and elsewhere. Second, it revealed the existence of America-hating intellectuals operating, somewhat more openly, in universities across the U.S. and elsewhere.
Doesn't the press ever get to a party on time? I recognized the latent anti-Americanism here some time ago, as in 1980, which is why I never took out Canadian citizenship. That anti-American Americans would flock up here in a sort of reverse brain drain (i.e., Canada gets the brain-dead) has a certain karmic flavour to it that I'm sorry to say the Federal government has fully earned.
I will stand by my earlier opinion, though, that young people are becoming increasingly resentful and suspicious of the doctrine being taught in schools and today's radicals are those of conservative and libertarian inclinations.
I can't prove my theory, of course, except by anecdotal and thus unscientific fact gathering, but my kids and their peers are increasingly resentful of the Liberal party; watching how that momentum grows may be one of the more fascinating developments of this new century.
Nr. Nagy may well find himself teaching a more diverse class than he anticipates. A lot of Canadians are already aware that peacekeeping is done post-peacemaking and are itching to get into the fight.
Aug. 16 -- The French political parties are busily blaming each other for the high death rate attributed to the high heat there with their usual ability to find solutions as opposition parties raised Calls for resignation.
PARIS, France (CNN) -- The French government and the opposition Socialist Party are blaming each other for a rapidly mounting death toll from a heat wave that has killed at least 3,000 people in France alone.
Ranking lawmakers from the Socialists and Greens have called on Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei to resign.
The Socialists are demanding an investigation into the conservative French government's handling of the crisis, in which the elderly were the worst hit.
The government didn't declare an emergency until a week into the record-setting heat wave across Europe.
Top Socialist lawmaker Arnaud Montebourg told reporters Friday it would be "dignified" for Mattei to "start thinking about the way he is going to phrase his letter of resignation," The Associated Press reported.
But the government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin charged back, saying the high toll is in part the fault of the previous Socialist government for implementing a 35-hour work week that cut the number of available health care workers.
Aug. 16 -- The Daily Telegraph (UK) nails political leaders on both sides of the border with pinpoint accuracy: It's all your fault, Canada and US tell each other.
Canadians' long-standing love-hate relationship with their neighbour has soured recently amid Canadian opposition to the war in Iraq.
President George W Bush and Mr Chretien have a cool relationship, not helped when the prime minister's press aide told a reporter the US president was a "moron".
The British can be masters of the understatement.
Meanwhile, back in the real world (i.e., unpopulated by politcians and pundits,) my neighbours are proving to be among the world's finest: when it started raining, people whooped and hollared in gladness, then surged outdoors for some relief from the heavy, humid heat that we woke up to. And they are now busy arranging car pools for the beer store.
Guess they didn't read the doom and gloom outlook in today's Toronto Star and realize that they are supposed to be apprehensive and fearful.
UPDATE: The Toronto Sun tells that my neighbourhood isn't the only one that decided to party:
Spontaneous parties erupted all over the city Thursday night as many Torontonians chose to gather in the streets rather than sit in their darkened homes. Eric Brazier, 25, was on his way home with a friend during the largest blackout in North American history when he stumbled upon one such impromptu party on Yonge St. just north of Eglinton Ave.
Aug. 16 (Au) -- more from Australia:Amin's son plotting rebellion
File this under un-freaking-believable:
A UGANDAN army officer says a son of former Ugandan dictator IDI AMIN, based in Congo, is plotting a rebellion in his late father's home region.
Brigadier Kale Kayihura, a military adviser to President Yoweri Museveni, says Taban Amin is recruiting fighters near the junction of the borders of Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He says the overthrow of the Kampala government is a dream they keep dreaming.
His statement follows the announcement today of Idi Main's death in a Saudi hospital.
Aug. 17 (Au) -- From Australia: Hambali's Thai network 'wiped out'.
TERRORIST suspect Hambali's entire network in Thailand has been wiped out with his arrest and that of three of his associates earlier, Thailand's prime minister said today.
The trail to Hambali, Asia's most-wanted man, was exposed by an "irregular money transaction" noticed by investigators, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in his weekly radio address to the nation.
This "resulted in the arrest of the first case, the second, the third, and now we have got the fourth man, Mr Hambali, who is regarded as the last one in our land," Thaksin said.
"Finally we have got them all."
Aug. 16 -- Evidently, Ontario was unable to reach key federal agencies when the black-out first hit.
OTTAWA -- When the lights went out across Ontario Thursday afternoon, so did the phones at a key federal agency set up to deal with national emergencies and inform the public. For a time, there was no way of contacting the Ottawa headquarters of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness.
Heh. Maybe that's why Ontario agencies coped so well.
Aug. 16 -- The funniest thing online is the opening page to blogger.com, which proclaims "and in the darkness blog them" as the preamble to their latest updates. It was pre-black-out, but still cracks me up.
ScrappleFace gives some acid tea and sympathy to those of us hardest hit by the blackout:
With no electricity, many "bloggers" were forced to post their latest musings to the Internet by candlelight. Some resorted to using old-fashioned kerosene-fueled personal computers. Others wrote their thoughts out longhand on paper then ran through the streets reading them aloud to the passing crowds of stranded commuters.
Canadians must take a moment to be thankful for small mercies: Frank J. has called off vengeance on Canada in retaliation for causing the black-out (scroll to bottom of comments.) It may have been premature, though: wait until Frank J. find out more about MP Herb Dhaliwal, co-chair of the newly established investigatory committee. Even though there wasn't any way around it (he's federal Minister of Natural Resources) he's bound to be more interested in the Blame Game than Finding Solutions but remember: it's in his nature. He's a Liberal Party one-liner, and he's a moron.
Dollars to donuts Herb will blame the USA for the black-out and pinpoint the cause on our refusal to ratify the Kyoto Accord. Any takers?
OK, I'm off to the stores to get the essentials while we still have power. Cold cuts and anything bar-b-queable will be the first things on my list.
See you later, Toronto Hydro permitting.
Aug. 16 -- A quick tour of some Canadian bloggers reveals that Paul blogged on and managed to find the absurdest news stories including more bluster from North Korea and smacked down 4 goofs in one blow in his post on Idi Amin's death (which I have already cheered but am more than happy to do again.)
ColbyCosh takes a sharp jibe at social engineers in his post "Why I am a libertarian". Smokers and non-smokers should read this.
Damien Penny confirms what I was fairly certain would happen: The Idiotarians were as prepared as Boy Scouts to provide comic relief during the black-out. He also made the same observation from his locale as I did: if this was panic, it was the calmest panic he's ever seen.
I just assume that most neighbourhoods did the same as ours: after an initial panic that the beer might go bad before the milk, we immediately took pre-emptive measures. There was more a party attitude than any whining or panic (although I can't speak for those who may have holed up in their homes fearful of a Total Breakdown Of Society). There were a lot of stargazers outside Thursday night which proves that you can always find something good in a bad situation.
UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention the neighbourhood "howling at the moon" thing. Just goes to show that a lot of Cub Scouts haven't forgotten how to end a meeting. Needless to say, everyone joined in enthusiastically.
The perennial optimism of Torontonians was evident in the fact that it seems like everyone trooped over to beer stores Friday convinced that the Powers That Be would recognize those stores as an essential service and thus they would be open -- and were proven correct.
Short version: we all handled it. I know that's a hard concept for a nanny state to deal with, but there it is.
The next test will be how the courts deal with those who were arrested and had the book thrown at them for looting and generally taking advantage of the black-out.
Right On! admits to everyone's secret fantasy: being a traffic director.
He also is more insightful in his praise and criticism than I am capable of right now. (Of course, he probably wasn't the one in charge of going through the fridge, deciding what stayed, what would be wrapped in plastic until garbage pick-up resumed, and what got cooked right away. I had to cook 4 loaves of formerly frozen sour dough bread, not a popular choice, that turning on the oven bit, but I simply could not let them go to waste.)
All kidding aside, his observations are spot on. And now our kids can lecture their kids when they complain of trifling inconveniences and expound on Life During The Blackout of 2003. It will beat any story of trudging through snow 6 feet deep uphill to get to school.
It's good to see that The Canadian was down only a few hours, and kept blogging even as he discovered that major portions of the internet were off line. I caught up on the news faster on his and Paul's sites than hours of CNN could have achieved.
On a serious note: I'm siding with everyone who's ever lived through a black-out that lasted more than 48 hours, which includes me (Atlanta ice-storm, 1973) and Quebecers who endured their power outage during the recent ice-storm, as well as folks in hurricane, tornado and earthquake zones.
This was nothing. Even if the rolling black-outs do occur, we have the knowledge that the power will be up again and we'll take it in stride.
It's about time we remembered our true heritage as North Americans: we have inherited the legacy of people who endured and triumphed.
Aug. 16 -- I woke up happily this morning because I knew I could turn my COFFEE-MAKER ON which was one of the two things I regretted most losing. Being without morning coffee was tied for first next to losing internet access. Never let anyone tell you a radio is just as good for news as computer access, and the sun makes terrific SunTea, but sucks at making SunCoffee.
So I start my coffee maker first, then the computer, thence to CNN and see that Idi Amin is really dead and that's a great way to start the morning.
UPDATE: Paul KO's 4 fools in one post. Priceless reading.
One item that hasn't seemed to receive a lot of attention over here is something that makes my heart sing: the South-east asian terror king, Hambali, has been arrested. It was buried in yesterday's Toronto Sun but hadn't heard it on my solar powered radio, so was happy to see it confirmed.
Our Australian and Indonesian friends are probably pretty happy too, as his capture is an important step in finding those responsible for the nightclub Bali bombings.
He is also tied to the Sept. 11 attack as well as the Cole bombing. We're talking Big Fish here, and although I wouldn't be so foolish as to think his capture will destroy the threat to South East Asia we call Jemaah Islamiyah, it is a definite blow.
His arrest may also have prevented a major terrorist attack at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to be held in Thailand next October. This report seems to confirm the rumour that he was captured in Thailand.
This is a pretty detailed account of al Quaeda in South East Asian which gives an idea of how extremely important Hambali's was to that terror network.
Maybe my priorities were a little skewed, but did the media really need to focus quite so much on the fact that the power was out? Like, I already knew the power was out, and I already knew it would go on when it went on. I wanted to know what was happening in the parts of the world that had electrical power.
Now they're blaming Cleveland? That cracks me up, because of all the bad jokes about Cleveland, but anyway ... looks like there will be a joint investigating committee and Herb Dhaliwal will be joint head of the committee. He'll have a chance to exhibit some statesmanship now, doncha know.
Another personal note: our power came back on at 5:15, and I turned on CNN forgetting it was Wolf Blitzer time. Talk about mixed blessings.
Time to check around the blogosphere to see how my blogger mates are doing.
Aug. 13 -- A bomb blew apart a bus in Kabul killing 15. Officials think the bomb was already aboard the bus and possibly being transported for an attack during independence celebrations in Lashkargah scheduled for next week. The would-be bomber may have died in the blast.
Continued clashes have killed 2 Afghan soldiers and 13 Taliban and al Quaida fighters at the border with Pakistan.
Aug. 13 -- Now that the fireworks and rhetoric over Toronto Police Chief Fantino's comments on the lack of cooperation from the communities and their leaders in the aftermath of the recent killings have died down, the mayoralty candidates suddenly find a cause worthy of their attention: homelessness.
The candidates had the usual outstanding ideas: more money, more laws, more compassion, more bureaucracy, etc.
Indicating their total lack of vision, none of them mentioned my proposal that Etobicoke separate from Toronto.
Aug. 13 -- LOS ANGELES -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's foray into California's gubernatorial recall election poses a dilemma for broadcasters who might be tempted to show his films during the race: Doing so would allow rival candidates to demand equal time. For that reason, broadcasters in California will likely not air Schwarzenegger movies such as Total Recall and the Terminator or a repeat of a Diff'rent Strokes episode with Gary Coleman until after the Oct. 7 vote.
That decision will be a great disappointment to her supporters.
Cable channels are not covered by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's equal-time provision, which in the past kept reruns of Death Valley Days off the air while Ronald Reagan ran for president. A repeat of a Saturday Night Live episode featuring Don Novello, aka Father Guido Sarducci, on cable would not trigger the provision.
Novello, Schwarzenegger, Coleman and more than 240 other candidates have filed to run in the Oct. 7 election to recall Gov. Gray Davis. The equal-time rule kicks in today, as the state officially certifies candidates.
Major networks do not have a Schwarzenegger movie scheduled over the next two months, but local stations can make their own decisions about what to air.
Aug. 13 -- Japan apologised to China yesterday for an incident last week in which 29 people were poisoned by chemical weapons buried nearly 60 years ago.
"Our investigations have confirmed that the poisoning incident was caused by chemical weapons abandoned by the then Japanese army." China summoned the Japanese ambassador to Beijing to protest about the poison gas, found in the north-eastern city of Qiqihaer.
Five abandoned barrels of mustard gas, unearthed at a construction site, affected 29 people, two of whom were said to be in a critical condition, according to Chinese authorities. China and Japan have been seeking a diplomatic rapprochement in recent years, but many Chinese harbour deep resentment of Japan's wartime record and its failure to admit its atrocities.
Japanese officials say about 700,000 undiscovered chemical weapons remain in China from the Japanese invasion - a point unlikely to be lost on coalition forces searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
We also tend to notice things like thousands of bombs being discovered under a German airfield which had remained undetected after WWII.
Aug. 13 --
A gun battle erupted in Riyadh yesterday during an operation to hunt down Islamist militants.I've read variations on that last paragraph several times over the past few days. It's hard to tell if the people there are angry because they too have relatives and friends who have been held and tortured unjustly or if they believed the confessions of the 6 to the bombing death of a British banker were true.
Four members of an elite security force and a suspected terrorist were killed and several people were wounded during an operation in the southern Al-Suwaidi district of the Saudi capital.
The shootings came amid continuing tension in Saudi Arabia. Raids by security forces are reported every few days. According to official figures, 12 militants have been killed and more than 200 arrested since suicide bombings at three residential compounds in Riyadh on May 12.
On Sunday, police arrested about 10 suspected Islamist militants after another shoot-out in Riyadh. Police found hand grenades. A security source said the men were fugitives but it was not clear if they were linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda group.
The release last week of six Britons convicted of bomb attacks has prompted strong anti-British feeling and the government said the 10 suspected terrorists arrested on Monday were believed to have been plotting an attack on British interests in the kingdom. (Emphasis added)
I wonder if Canadian Foreign Affairs Min. Bill Graham would like to explain why the Saudis are not angry at Canada after the pivotal role his department played in getting Bill Sampson released. (/sarcasm)
Actually, he what he really needs to explain is this:
Canadian William Sampson, who spent 31 months in a Saudi Arabian prison, repeatedly told Canadian officials that he was being tortured, according to documents obtained by the CBC. Reports that Sampson, who was released on Friday, had been tortured were treated only as allegations by the Canadian government, which said it had received assurances from the Saudi government that international law governing the treatment of prisoners was being observed.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said as recently as last Friday that the conditions of Sampson's imprisonment were not known, but that the issue was a concern.
But documents obtained by CBC-TV's The Fifth Estate highlight three occasions on which Sampson told visiting Canadian officials that he had been abused by his captors.
"William said he had been physically abused during the past 10 months," read one report filed by Canadian diplomat Jean Gobeil who met with Sampson on Oct. 16, 2001.
Aug. 13 -- North Korea continues to bluster in preparation for multilateral talks tentatively scheduled to begin Aug. 27.
NORTH Korea's Foreign Ministry said today that a non-aggression treaty demonstrating that the United States had made a "switchover in its hostile policy" was the only way to resolve the nuclear crisis.
"It is clear that as long as the US insists on its hostile policy toward the DPRK, the latter will not abandon its nuclear deterrent force," said the statement. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. (Emphasis added)
Their name always cracks me up. Who says the N Korean regime doesn't have a sense of humour?
"Therefore, the US switchover in its hostile policy towards the DPRK comes as a precondition for the solution to the nuclear issue," said the statement.
"It will be considered that the US has practically given up its hostile policy toward the DPRK when a non-aggression treaty with legal binding is concluded and diplomatic relations are established between the DPRK and the U.S," the ministry said.
Translation: They want a treaty legally binding only on the US, payment of extortion fees, the US to feed their million-man army, and freedom to run their prison slave camps without criticism. They probably also want Nintendo Play Stations.
Been there, done that. The US State Department may still an uninhabitable swamp infested with mosquitoes and 'gators, but even they have realized that any deal that requires paying tribute won't get past the Congress.
Aug. 13 - A massive bomb on a minibus killed 17 people and injured three others in southern Afghanistan early Wednesday, officials said.
Earlier, two al Quaida bombmakers in Kabul did everyone a favour when the bomb they were preparing exploded, killing only themselves and injuring one other.
"Two people were killed and one injured in a big explosion in the house," said Abdul Jamil Kohistani, director of Kabul Security Command Criminal Investigation Department.
"The explosion totally destroyed the room they were in and made a hole down into the basement; that's why we can say they were working on a big bomb," he told AFP.
"Relatives of the three say it was a hand grenade but from the explosion we can say a grenade would never cause so much destruction."
All three men were students at Kabul Medical Institute and the house belonged to the family of one of the two killed. The explosion occurred in a guest room separate from the main house, he said.
Guess they would have had a major ethical problem when it came time to take the Hipocratic Oath and swear to "do no harm".
"Police think they are members of al-Qaeda," Kabul police chief Basir Salangi said.
Kohistani said the injured man was in a coma and would be questioned when he recovered.
Canadian troops are currently stationed in Kabul.
Aug. 13 -- The Australian-led intervention in the Solomon Islands (at the request of the goverment of the Solomons) achieved one of its objectives with the arrest of warlord Harold Keke by "Australia's top intervention cop Ben McDevitt on board the HMAS Manoora today."
"McDevitt said the intervention force's top brass landed in helicopters on the beach at Keke's stronghold at Mbiti this morning for the agreed surrender."
50 of Keke's followers handed over weapons to the force, and with Keke's arrest, the hope is that the war is over.
Aug. 12 (Cdn) -- Another view from Michael Barone of US News What would a Schwarzenegger victory mean nationally?
It would reshape the Republicans' image. Republicans have become a minority in California because of their conservative stands on cultural issues and because they have turned off Latinos. Schwarzenegger, who would be eligible to run again in 2006 and 2010, gives them a different image. And Schwarzenegger is an immigrant. "What gave me the opportunities, what made me be able to be here today, is the open arms of Americans," he told reporters. "And that's what I what everyone to be able to do." Schwarzenegger won't be able to deliver California's 55 electoral votes to George W. Bush; no California governor has a machine that can do that. But he can create an environment in which Bush could seriously contest the state.
Aug. 13 (Au.), -- The commenters in Tim Blair's blog are almost as funny as his posts; HERE, INDUSTRY. THERE, VICE takes off on a disapproving article in the suddenly puritanical Sydney Morning Herald.
He also links to a report on a 3-year government study (from the same yet now more open-minded SMH) about
The researchers pored over 50 of the top-selling porn videos to analyse their plots and also found that most were believable and empowering for the fairer sex.
That last sentence must be more fully explained. You can't leave me hanging like that, I've just been empowered by porn plots!
A game with Canadian content: Take a Break!
Actually, I'm a Moosehead drinker, thanks to friends on Cape Breton Island.
Aug. 12 -- Read Sacre Bleu! Nous avons été Parkerized! from The Campblog.
As I understand it, Robert Parker, an American lawyer and wine taster as well as publisher of The Wine Advocate, caused consternation and possible financial problems for high-end Bordeaux winerys in France because he didn't show up for the spring tasting.
Much as I'd like to think that the recent unpleasantness is why Mr. Parker didn't travel to the friendly country of France, it looks as though the truth is a bit more to do with influence peddling than politics.
Read the post and decide for yourself. I will comment that if the French have been producing wines for a distinct American market, they may have bigger troubles than they may think.
Aug. 12 -- A rather sad story about a remarkable woman linked over at Right On!.
Funny how when radical feminists ooze on about how things would be different if women were in charge, they conveniently overlook women who've actually held power: Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Kim Campbell, Golda Meir, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I, Catharine the Great . . . I'm not even going to comment on the fact that they also overlook women who currently hold power (do they even know who the heads of state are in Indonesia, the Phillipines, New Zealand, Sweden ...?)
Rhymes with "witches".
CLARIFICATION: The above refers to the historically challenged feminists, not the female heads of state past and present.
Aug. 12 -- The post in News Junkie Canada titled "Scheming and Lying Canadian Bureaucrats Destroy, Defraud" is making my head spin.
Simple American that I am, my response is equally simple: why aren't these people in jail?
Read. Get angry.
Aug. 12 -- I want one.
The Dems are going to be hard pressed to come up with anything to counter it. Do "equal time" laws apply? (Better not think too hard about how unsuitable a Bill Clinton toy might be for young children.)
(Via magyar blog.)
Aug. 12 -- Still wonder why Californians are pissed off at everyone in Sacramento?
It's one thing to suspect the majority Democrats at the Capitol are deliberately screwing with the budget for partisan reasons, but when they are actually heard discussing in caucus how to "maximize the pain" to aid their efforts to undercut Prop 13 you have to stop, take a deep breath, and be glad the voters are headed for the ballot box instead of erecting a few pillories.
I did try searching google, but "Cal Dems screw with budget" and "Cal Dems try to torpedo Prop 13" led nowhere.
Despite the fact that it took me most of the morning to locate this (from the ever helpful Right-Thinking from the Left Coast) which pinpointed the date that this was first leaked, I was finally able to access this article in the July 22 Sacramento Bee "Lawmakers hush-hush talk broadcast live".
Note that this meeting was going on while the Senate leaders for both the Dems and Reps were trying to work out a solution for compromise to get a budget passed.
If I can do the research and follow this story, why can't reporters in Toronto?
Or, look at it another way: what if voters were given the option to pass something similar to Prop 13 for Ontario and Toronto. Do you think they would?
Be careful when you trash my home state within my hearing. (And, by the way, I also have emotional attachments to Kansas and Georgia due to residencies there.)
As I said the other day, they may be totally freaking crazy, but they're my totally freaking crazies and I'll defend their right to be total, freaking and crazy.
The Canadian has a post on why the Calinfornia recall gives real hope for Canada in "Here's a REAL Arnie Fan!"
I just won't believe that a mentality that admits a mistake has been made and seeks to correct that mistake is limited to only a few countries like the USA and Japan.
Aug. 12 -- From USS Clueless Gulliver unbound.
Steven den Beste responds to a speech given in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 5 titled Gulliver Unbound: Can American Rule the World?
This extract pretty much sums up why Europe's (and Canada's) strategy to bind the cultural power of the US communicates their inability to comprehend a free economy and a free people:
[Josef Joffe's] ... argument is that eventually the US will decide that it wants people to like it, and will thus begin to give in to what amounts to international peer pressure and start to accept those kinds of limits so as to reduce the criticism. In essence, he assumes that the US wants to retain its position as the strongest nation in the world, and will recognize that it is better to be somewhat weaker but liked and unchallenged than to be stronger but faced with strong opposition which may bring the US down. (Emphasis added)
Pressure on Washington lawmakers to pass legislation restricting, for example, what can be posted on the internet, has the effect of making us wonder if inherent rights are protected in Europe and Canada.
We are also alarmed that they assume our lawmakers can pass legislation that violates the First Amendment. Do they assume our lawmakers can do this because their (and your) lawmakers can? Just how strong is adherence to constitutional law in such places?
His basic assumption is wrong. We don't want to be strong. We just want to be left alone. Our policy isn't driven by an attempt to prevent other nations from becoming strong; it's driven by attempts to reduce threats to us. Having other nations be strong is fine with us as long as they don't try to use their strength to threaten us.
But he makes an even deeper mistake by assuming that this is even something which is susceptible to centralized decision and control. It's true that Washington can decide how to arm and use our military, and what treaties to negotiate and which to ratify. But most of the soft power he described is unconscious and undirected; it isn't a deliberate strategy, and as such it isn't really possible to change it. Hollywood will continue to make movies with the goal of making lots of money, with little consideration of indirect political effects.
Pressure to regulate what Hollywood, the music industry, publishers and our Big Media goofs produce makes us wonder if either a free economy or freedom of the press truly exist in Europe and Canada.
These pressure tactics have caused more Americans more than ever to wonder if Europeans and Canadians live in benign dictatorships. Good move, y'all. You have helped renew our appreciation to our forefathers for getting the hell out of town.
Look: we appreciate our forebears, especially Mother England, but we finished school, got jobs, moved out of the house, and are busy building lives and raising our own families in accordance with our own values. We still love our folks, but they have to respect the decisions we've made or there will be less contact and more hurt feelings.
What don't they understand about The War of Independence?
UPDATE: Work in Progress makes the same point as I only better.
Aug. 12 --
--Charles G. Taylor, former President of Liberia.
Do you suppose he read this?
[Disclaimer: the deleted passage the ellipses refer to is the name of the lamb.]
Aug. 12 -- This article contains a common sense argument that obesity in children won't be affected by the decision to take vending machines that peddle junk food out of schools unless parents pack nutritious lunches as well. Health starts at home. Earthshaking concept, right?
But it still fails to address how the lack of regular activity (aka "playing outdoors") affects the obesity and therefore the physical fitness of children.
Hypothesis: Kids who spend their free time (after homework and chores) outdoors running, playing road hockey and generally doing things kids like to do with one another will be fit and sleep soundly.
Parents who worry about their kids' health and safety will want to keep them under strict, visual supervision because they are fearful about both the predators that are enabled by the courts to go forth and molest again and those who haven't been caught yet.
Legitimate safety concerns put an impossible pressue on parents who want to keep a close eye on kids but also need to keep the home running smoothly.
Result: kids stay indoors where they may be restless and underfoot but at least are safe.
Conclusion: Enact legislation that will keep perverts locked up and away from our kids, and let our kids have the joyous childhood they are entitled to have.
Did I mention that kids who play vigorously outdoors sleep well?
Aug. 12 -- Read and wonder: Holly's Law gets 'sad' support.
Tony Quinn of SF Gate writes:
The recall is about much more than Gov. Davis. It is an assault on the whole political class in California by an electorate in a very bad mood. Voters have concluded that the electoral process has become a private affair of incumbents, their campaign consultants and the various interest groups that fund these endeavors, and now they have a chance to do something about it.
The most improbable of candidates, the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is poised to drive that point home and become the first non-politician governor of California since Ronald Reagan 37 years ago.
Much as Davis wants to make the recall election a battle of left vs. right - which he might win - California voters have not gone off into right-wing ga-ga land. They have focused a general disgust with politicians on a governor who is, after all the personification of the political class.
He goes on to explain how the redistricting in California secured a solid re-election base for incumbents (you have to actually be a legal resident of a district in the US to run to represent that district) "...is invariably the political class taking care of its own."
CanCon: the upcoming Liberal Party convention. Do Canadian voters share the sentiment now being expressed by Californians? Is it remotely possible that Canadian Big-Media pundits are oblivious to this?
Just as the snide cracks about George Bush and his "unresolved oedipal complex" disappeared from the Canadian Pundit Landscape when Paul Martin appeared ready to take the Liberal Party away from Chretien (which Martin Sr. had unsuccessfully tried to do), the ever wise pundits up here are responding to Arnold Schwarzenegger with sarcasm, crude humour and jibes rather than consider that the issues that forced the recall onto the ballot simmer in Canada just as they do in California.
It is in the best interests of the liberal media up here (as well as down there) to pretend this campaign is other than what it really is: a signal to political parties that we despise them all equally.
One poll I'd like to commission is the extent to which President Bush's approval ratings are affected whenever he chastises Congress.
Aug. 11 -- Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said nothing noteworthy in his keynote address at a conference sponsored by the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs yesterday.
Well, maybe that's a bit harsh. He said Canada did all it could to help Bill Sampson and Mr. Sampson was released, he is still trying to get the Iranian government to release Zahra Kazemi's body, and that the Syrian Foreign Minister hasn't yet returned his call to answer allegations that Maher Arar has been tortured in a Syrian jail.
There was no mention in the article of Canadian Bruce Balfour who is currently being held in a Lebanese prison.
He is aware that Canadian troops are in Afghanistan, so maybe I should cut him some slack.
USS Clueless and The Dissident Frogman have a good tag-team thing going over their analyses of the pathetic and sometimes insulting attempts by the French government to bring back American tourists. The absence of American (and British and Japanese) tourists has struck a major blow to the French economy.
The French revealed how very little they understand the American people and our institutions when they charged the Bush administration of running a smear campaign against France last May. (There must be a conspiracy, you see, because it seems inconceivable to them that millions of people could independently look at the same information and reach the same conclusions.)
As Steven Den Beste points out:
We don't need our government's permission and our government can't stop us, because though the US government is the most powerful in history and more powerful than any other in the world, we are even more powerful yet and will replace the US government if it tries to do so. That is part of the power we retained, and every two years the government submits itself to us for reapproval.
The Dissident Frogman asks why the French campaign insults Americans by pretending the reason they have dropped France as a destination is because we are concerned for our safety from terrorists and wonders:
So the real question now is: really, if he [Patrick Goyet of the French Goverment Tourist Office] is not a fool, why is he acting like one?
And let's give credit where credit is due: Canada hasn't stooped as low as France in their efforts to revitalize tourism preferring to use hard rock as soft diplomacy.
As Kim du Toit pithily states:
"We The People" is not just an archaic figure of speech, you Frog fucks.
Aug. 11 -- An analysis of the omission of property rights in the Canadian charter over at French Libertarian in Quebec which reprints a speech given by Lorne Gunter of the Edmonton Journal.
It's an interesting article, but I still wish there could be discussions about Canadian issues without the ubiquitous comparisons with the USA.
Paul has some withering comments on the Saudi treatment of Canadian Bill Sampson and five British nationals.
And over at Daimnation are some thoughts and comments on the involvement of Prince Charles in obtaining the pardons.
Aug. 11 -- Don't forget to rally today (see here for local information) to demand Parliament enact legislation to keep child molesters in jail until they are no longer considered a threat:
The law will provide that any sexual offence against a child will result in an automatic dangerous offender hearing for the convicted offender. At the hearing, the sentencing judge, with the help of psychiatric testimony, will determine whether the perpetrator should be declared a dangerous offender and held in custody until he is no longer a threat to the public. The law will also mandate that all federal and provincial prisons should provide sex offender treatment to all inmates convicted of sexual offences, and that the federal government should create special facilities for the incarceration and treatment of sex offenders.
You can sign the online petition at the web site and download a printable copy (requires Adobe Acrobat.)
Aug. 11 -- [Scottish National Party leader] John Swinney fought back yesterday against the challenge to his leadership of the Scottish National Party and described suggestions he had imposed New Labour-style control freakery on the party as a "disgusting slur". (Emphasis added)
In a July 26 Daily Telegraph (UK) article, Bill Wilson, who is challenging Swinney for leadership of the party, declared that:
"I have decided to stand against John for the party leadership, to allow the grassroots, the activists, the members of the party, to express their anger at the betrayal of party policy, at the loss of party democracy," he said.
"Increasingly in politics there has been an accelerating tendency to control freakery.
This has never been a tradition of the SNP. Indeed, we have mocked New Labour for doing precisely that.
"Control freakery" must be added to my spell checker.
Aug. 11 -- Only in the moves, you say?
Eighty-four Brazilian prisoners escaped from jail at the weekend by digging a tunnel under two buildings and a security fence.
Piles of sand and dirt were discovered in the cells of Silvio Porto prison.
This proved that the guards had turned a blind eye to the tunnel, said Cassio Cunha, the governor of Paraiba state in the north-east of the country.
The escape tunnel ran for 50 yards into the brush beyond two watchtowers.
Police described the prisoners who escaped as highly dangerous. Only 14 had been caught by last night.
Daring prison escapes are not unknown in Brazil. Prisoners in Sao Paulo got away when a helicopter kidnapped by accomplices landed in the prison forecourt.
In another incident, inmates in Rio de Janeiro were sprung by friends who drove an articulated lorry through the jail's wall.
Brazil's prison system, the third largest in the world, is overcrowded, corrupt, and rife with disease and violence.
Aug. 11 -- Parents who named their sons "Osama" might take note of this story from Jordan:
A MAN called Saddam Hussein was hospitalised after being injured in a brawl between supporters and detractors of his namesake, the deposed Iraqi leader, Al-Dustour newspaper reported Monday.
"The name Saddam Hussein provoked differences among the six" who began trading insults before getting into a fist fight, Al-Dustour said.
Aug. 11 -- There was an exchange of gunfire next to an outdoor children's birthday party yesterday as reported here.
I'm not even going to comment on it.
The court hearing on the execution of Amina Lawal is set for August 27, 2003.
For those who don't know, Lawal is a Nigerian woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.
Amnesty International is gathering signatures online here.
Please take a few minutes to sign it if you haven't done so already.
Aug. 10 -- Classical Values offers the in-house MOUSE test to help you determine if your blogging is a mental disorder.
Do they still publish pop-psych self-help books by the truckloads? I'm a bit out of touch on that one; I just dash straight for the Science Fiction/Fantasy section now because at least know what I'm getting, although some allegorical Pontifications Of How The World Will End If We Don't Change Our Ways try to sneak in.
CV also pays homage to the libertarians of the road: Bikers, who "are the antithesis of the people who butt in."
You can call it countercultural or traditional, or I can call it classical (which I think it is). But I'll tell you one thing: bikers won't be labeled, they won't be judged, and they won't be cured. That shit sucks!
Disorder is cool! And it's American!
Heh. Freedom is a condition of disorder, much to the distress of the at least one sociologist.
Mon., August 11
Don't Forget to come out to support this initiative.
Log onto Holly's Law for more information about rallies in other cities (information has been updated).
If some of those self-important community leaders who've been accusing the police of not building enough bridges could just get over themselves they might notice that nobody is waiting for them to lead as a group of citizens in a Toronto community delivered the message that their neighbourhood is going to be a place for families, children and life:
Flemington Park residents took to the streets yesterday to send the message that their neighbourhood is a place for children to roam, not for drugs and gunplay. A line of several hundred joyous men, women and children, led by police escort, marched and danced their way around the Lawrence Ave. W. and Allen Rd. area.
Get that? JOYOUS. These people (and observant reporter Kevin Masterson) have it exactly right: celebrate life and stand up to defend your right to have joy.
Many people in the parade, which was almost entirely black and hispanic, spoke of their faith and how it has inspired them and can help others.
They also voiced their support to the police for their efforts to end the bloodshed and gang warfare that has afflicted Toronto, but I think that, just as importantly, they were affirming support for and faith in one another, and that is the true definition of community and neighbours.
Aug. 10 -- I'm getting a really late start today in part due to being up late hearing about my son's adventures in the SF Bay Area and in part because I always get very, very grouchy when the Canadian press blathers on and on about what is happening in the US (as though there are no issues in Canada) and even more because not one of them GETS the reason why Arnold is running as a Republican in the upcoming California recall.
I rarely use this kind of language but I'm breaking my own rule:
Most Canadian journalists are pompous, sanctimonious fucking morons who are incapable of putting two rational thoughts together.
They have a lot of gall to express opinions about something they are incapable of understanding. They don't understand Americans nor, quite honestly, do most urban-dwelling Canadians in the East here.
I would cordially like to invite every one of them to shut up, pick up a copy of Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy and try to think who in national American politics most closely resembles JFK. I'll give you a clue: it is not Sen. Ted Kennedy. Playing up the Shriver connection is to not only miss the forest but to miss the whole damned country.
My son (who gets it) said it's partly our fault because we don't explain ourselves to people.
I said it's none of their fucking business. We don't owe anybody an explanation about a strictly internal matter. The Canadian media ought to go get a country of their own to focus on and leave us Americans alone to run our country as we see fit.
Do you see the American media going on and on about every trivial thing that happens in Canada? Maybe Americans feel that it's not really any of their business, you know? And yet the Canadian press has the gall to perpetuate the Myth That Won't Die about Canadian politeness even as they pontificate with mean-spirited, contempt-filled sneers.
(It's not that American Big Media is any better but they are our morons, and we fiercely defend their right to be morons about us even as we call them names and abuse their lack of intelligence and "historical perspective".)
Here's a clue: where does Arnold live? What is his profession? Connect.the.dots.
Here's another clue: listen to Ariana Huffington and her focus for her campaign. 'Nuff said.
Did I mention that I was really, really grouchy?
I hate the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail with the passion and intensity of a thousand fiery suns.
My mistake: I should have logged onto the Toronto Sun first as is my usual custom.
>From French Libertarian in Quebec:
My mind is racing, my head is spinning. The blogger consortium is bombarding me with too many examples of the liberal’s war on Judeo/Christianity, as if to counter my arguments in favour of the state recognizing gay marriages.
People who hate political correctness but support gay marriages should read his post. It is a series of principled arguments, and the right to make a series of personal decisions about what each values as their principles is what we are all trying to defend.
It is ironic that those of us who've been warning against Political Correctness are finally being heard, but it's over an issue that some of us have come to support.
The choices remain: either the State considers the population as a whole to be intelligent enough to recognize hate speech when we see it and trust us to deal with it, or we will be slaves to whatever opinions the State deems correct.
That may seem overly simplistic, but that's because I think it is a simple choice.
Aug. 9 -- New evidence of WMD has been discovered which also confirms that Saddam Hussein attempted to obtain uranium from Niger. There has not as yet been any comment from the White House.
(Via The Mudville Gazette.)
Aug. 9 -- Maybe it's that mean streak I have, but I always feel relieved when news from the UK or Australia is even weirder than anything Canada or the US has come up with recently.
Evidently the Australians have a government agency called Relationships Australia. Note that I'm not laughing: for all I know there's one in Canada too, and unless Sheila Fraser reports that they overspent their budget by more than $1 million, I am unlikely to ever hear of it unless the people running it have the incredible stupidity to release a report.
Given the uproar the recent SCOC ruling and subsequent debate over legalizing gay marriages has caused, this report will throw both sides into turmoil because the implication behind the major recommendation of the report means that, according to Relationships Australia, being gay is a lifestyle of choice.
Aug. 9 -- It's hardly a secret that many of us are divided about the 2004 Presidential race.
Whereas many think it would be a shame to put Condi Rice as GWB's running mate because she is so damned effective where she is, others want her to take the positon of Secy. of State. It all comes down to the same thing: Condi Rice for President in 2008.
Here's one reason why: Critics of US policy are racist, says Rice.
... addressing the National Association of Black Journalists in Dallas, she used that personal history to issue a direct challenge to all those critical of the Bush administration's ambitions in Iraq and beyond.
"Like many of you, I grew up around the home-grown terrorism of the 1960s. I remember the bombing of the church in Birmingham in 1963, because one of the little girls that died was a friend of mine," she said.
Black Americans should stand by others seeking freedom today, she went on, and shun the "condescending" argument that some races or nations were not interested in or ready for Western freedoms.
"We've heard that argument before. And we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it," she said. "That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East."
Here's another reason: As you may remember, during the war in Iraq, a Russian convoy allegedly marked with diplomatic flags was allegedly fired at by US forces while on the road to Syria. Russia protested. National Security Advisor Rice flew to Russia over the weekend, and then there was silence.
Aug 9 -- Undeterred by the recent bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Australians are determined to return to Bali this October 12 to commemorate the 2002 bombings at Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club which killed 202 people. 88 victims were Australians, but, as at the WTC, the remaining victims came from nearly every country, including Canada.
Warnings or not, June Corteen, whose twins Jenny and Jane were killed in the blast, will be in Kuta.
She has already been back three times: to bring her girls home, to return for the Hindu cleansing ceremony in November and to be at Amrozi's trial.
Australian PM Howard will also attend the memorial services in Bali.
UPDATE: According to this some of the survivors have reconsidered.
"One of the major reasons why people I have spoken to are pulling out is because of the stress it would put on our families and friends waiting back in Australia," he [Dale Atkin] said.
In a related story, Amrozi, convicted of purchasing the truck and explosives for the Bali bombings, will be given 3 days notice before he is to die, driven to a secluded spot and executed by firing squad.
Although he rejoiced when the death sentence was pronounced, he must have had second thoughts about martyrdom because he has signed papers with his lawyers to launch an appeal.
Hmm, maybe he finally realized that Hell, not Paradise, awaits him.
Aug. 9 -- I don't know exactly what Toronto did to deserve Police Chief Julian Fantino, but we should find out so we can do it again. And again.
In a city where name-calling routinely substitutes for debate, one person has dared to forget political correctness and try something downright revolutionary: exercise leadership.
"They want to make me and our police service fall on their swords," he told The Saturday Sun. "Well, I won't prostitute myself for these people.
"We just can't waste our time dealing with these people ... They have their own agenda," Fantino said yesterday, aiming his frustrations at comments made at a meeting of about 30 people on Thursday, including Jane St.-Finch Ave. area residents and members of two high-profile black groups.
Speakers complained that Fantino and politicians do not offer enough substance to build bridges with the black community.
People are dying and this group wants bridges. Not action, bridges. What a bunch of wankers.
Real community leaders would hold neighbourhood meetings and encourage potential witnesses to come forward.
Real community leaders would scold those who have remained silent and asked them how they can let their brothers be shot down and say nothing.
Real community leaders would remind people how gang warfare in the US has escalated to a point where innocent bystanders and children die from drive-by shootings and urge them to help stop it now while it can still be contained.
I can understand why people might think that if they just keep their heads down, the rival gang members will just kill each other off and everything will be fine again.
Well, that way of thinking is wrong. What will happen is that one gang will emerge victorious, rule their neighbourhood with an iron fist, and eventually seek to spread their turf boundaries and clash with another powerful gang.
I'm not disputing that there are members of the police force that are racist; in fact, free as I am of the virulent Canadian Bullshit Condition (CBC), I think there are racists everywhere in this country but the problem here and now is that too many black men are being killed by other black men and the only ones who care enough about it to try and stop it are being accused of racism. What a city.
In the 1952 movie High Noon, Martin Howe (played by Lon Chaney, Jr.) tells Will Kane (played by Gary Cooper) "People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don't care. They just don't care." (Via imdb.)
[Chief Fantino said] "It doesn't matter what I say or what I undertake, the honourable intentions and the pain we go through, we can do nothing right. We're the most discriminated-against organization ... we get shot at and return fire, and then are criticized for what we do."
Martin also tells Kane "The public doesn't give a damn about integrity. A town that won't defend itself deserves no help." (Via imdb.)
Will Kane didn't listen to Martin, and, thankfully, neither did Fantino.
On Tuesday Fantino vowed a crackdown on street hoods.
"We're going out after the gang-bangers," he said yesterday. "They're going to feel the heat. They're killing young black men and then the police are branded as hooligans and terrorists. What's wrong with this picture," Fantino said. "Denial has to stop."
The ones who will be arrested will end up before that other pillar of political correctness, the judicial system, and Round 2 will begin. That is where the alliance between Chief Fantino and Ontario Public Safety Minister Bob Runciman will be proven to be invaluable.
Win or lose, they are putting up a valiant struggle and are, as News Junkie Canada put it, heroes.
I believe in the Pendulum Rule of Social History. When attitudes and behaviour start to move too far in one direction, there is a natural force that exerts a pull to bring things back to a more balanced state. The farther it has swung the one way, the stronger the force needed to bring it back. The trick is to try to slow it before it goes too far.
It's no accident that the Left is stifling dissent and freedom of speech. Those on the Left have a lot to lose if their ideas are no longer dominant and they will fight tooth and nail to preserve what they now perceive to be their right to rule. Because they view compromise as a defeat, they will fight implacably.
They see religion and patriotism as a weakness of the Right. The ACLU lawsuit that stripped San Diego Boy Scouts of their use of a park was based on a First Amendment challenge because of the Boy Scout Oath. The pledge says "I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country" and then you think of municipalities that ordered their firefighters to remove American flags from their trucks after Sept. 11 and wonder what is going on.
[UPDATE: A US Supreme Court recently made an important ruling in favour of the Good News Club which upheld it's right to use public property, in this case school property, for an after school club similar to Bible Class. In the decision, the Supreme Court noted that public officials do not have the right to discriminate against a religious point of view than any other point of view.
But what about the children? The Supreme Court responded to the argument that using public property would be seen as favouritism by recognizing that banning a club based on religion would be perceived as hostililty which is just as unconstitutional as giving preference.
Insert mandatory disclaimer that I am not now nor have I ever been a lawyer, but I believe there may now be precedent to overturn the San Diego court ruling as it was based on the First Amendment.]
The Boy Scouts exemplify the values that mark Western civilization. Scouts strive to be honest, thrifty, loyal, cheerful, brave, obedient, etc.
When was the last time you heard someone referred to as a Boy Scout and it wasn't meant as a jibe or insult?
The same is true with the term "cowboy." Set Western movies aside and you still have men who braved the elements, worked long and hard hours for little pay, yet managed to bring civilization to the vast prairie lands between the two oceans. But again, now it's meant as an insult.
Well it's because we are all now too sophisticated, urbane and no longer silly enough to believe in such ideals.
Well it's true, isn't it? If we trash those who exemplify those ideals, aren't we also trashing and thus discarding those ideals?
The Left has a lot of explaining to do when honesty, hard work, loyalty to friends and country, and honour are virtues they openly ridicule.
They have elevated their views on social engineering and state dependency to become the dogma of their religion, complete with its own catechism and ways to identify heretics, and they are revealing themselves to be as ruthless as any Inquisition in their quest to purify that which they perceive to be a disorderly, chaotic state but what we call freedom and individuality.
People are starting to rebel. People are beginning to challenge the silence that political correctness imposed too long on common sense and our right to judge right from wrong. And the Left is reacting with hysteria, not persuasiveness.
And Francois, my French Libertarian friend, you became a hippie because you believe in freedom. The others out there are Pretend Hippies who fear freedom, especially freedom of the mind. Stick to your guns!
Religion is that which teaches us to deal honestly with one another, to trust one another, to respect and not slander and lie about other people. It encourages us to work hard but also to cease work and spend time with one another. It reminds us that we are not animals but that we have a soul, and that we are capable of doing great good because we chose to do good.
The ongong assault of the Left to weaken religion has thus far targeted only Christianity because they are employing the strategy of "divide and conquer" which is why I like Paul Jackson's idea of forming a joint council of religions and it would appear that it is indeed coming to pass.
My mother and her sisters were born and raised in Kansas. (Actually, our family roots run pretty deep there; our ancestors supported and fought for Mr. Lincoln's War and until their dying days my grandparents voted for the Party of Lincoln.)
Anyway, like most kids, grandma's and grandpa's was a second home for us and our cousins so we always root for the Jayhawks (unless our own town's teams are playing them, of course) and keep a part of our hearts dedicated to the prairies.
Maybe it's that Kansas background that makes me think I "get" Alberta. It's like baseball: a combination of individuality and personal achievement when you're at bat, and cooperation with your teammates and backing up your pitcher when you're in the field. It's combining two seemingly contradictory qualities to create something wonderful. (Needless to say, I despise the DH rule.)
Anyway, I was pleased to find an email from my cousin Cheri this morning (which had been forwarded with multiplicity) that touched on that Kansas connection and forwarded it to some friends. God bless them, some posted it even before I could trackdown the verifying links including Snopes and this and post it myself.
And Cheri, thank you.
This prayer was delivered in 1996.
Here's the introductory text, the prayer, and the closing text:
OPENING PRAYER - KANSAS STATE SENATE
Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in KANSAS at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:
Heavenly Father, We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that: We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
We have exploited the poor and called it the Lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of speech. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will and to openly ask these things in the name of your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ.
The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.
In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Reverend Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively.
The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this Prayer from India, Africa, and Korea.
Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program "The Rest of the Story" and received a larger response to this program than any Other he has ever aired.
With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called, "...one nation under God..."
Aug. 8 -- An online test What Political Diva Are You? from Quizilla.
(Via Classical Values Note new url)
Aug. 8 - According to this from Daimnation, Bill Sampson and five British citizens who were also accused of carrying out bombings have been released and may be in England already. Sampson and UK citizen Alexander Mitchell had been found guilty and sentenced to death.
Let me think: Regime change in Iraq, Riyadh bombings, Sept 11 report, hostile attitudes toward the Saudis, continuous Canadian, UK and US diplomatic efforts to free Sampson and the others ... nah, no connection. (UPDATE: I can't believe I failed to include fall of Saddam regime.)
According to this, they've landed safely in England.
One nightmare over.
UPDATE: Steven den Beste has some thoughts on the arrest and release of Bill Sampson over at USS Clueless Denying failure. Also, be sure to follow his link here for the transcript of a 1998 speech by Ralph Peters which is an incisive assessment of "failure factors" in countries that have consistently failed to become competitive.
Aug. 8 -- Oh wait, that title was from "The Fly." Oh well, flies, bees, ants, there is still no comparison to humans unless you're a tight-assed social engineer who probably hates the controlled chaos of children exploring and learning as the sociologist quoted here.
One of the more idealistic delusions us former lefties had was the notion that unleashing productive potential would result in the proletariet being freed from wage slavery and that a virtual avalanche of unshackled energy would result in a New Age of unparalleled creativity in the arts and sciences and Eternal Peace would Reign.
Please. It's the thought that counted.
Instead modern production has produced enough leisure time to create a class of social engineers anxious to hold up the Busy Bee engaged in mindless (but happy!) behaviour as the perfect model for human behaviour.
The demands for law and order (Herb Caen of the SF Chronicle used to call it lawn order) of the New Lefties surfaced quickly in the aftermath fall of Baghdad. Nancy Reagan probably got the irony as quickly as every other boomer who had ever lived in California, and I sincerely hope she was able to communicate it to former Governor Reagan. He earned the right to laugh long and hard at them.
Aug. 8 -- Number One Son has landed safely at Pearson, so now I can pretend I'm not worried with a bit more conviction.
Since he was visiting my family in the SF Bay Area, I am eager to hear about local reactions to the latest weirdness from that which we lovingly call California.
I'm solidly behind Arianna Huffington. Maybe that's what it will take to get Northern California off its butt and push through a resolution splitting California into two states. North and South Californias would be so, well, done before so they could be called Thirsty California and Saturated California. Or Desert California and Treed California. Something that would indicate the inherent superiority of northern CA.
There's a real generation gap thing happening back home. Despite what spin Big Media puts on it, most of us boomers and our kids instinctively not only understood but actively urged going into Iraq.
One of my old-time friends put it thus: "It helps remove the fury we felt when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia and the Chinese cracked down in Tiananmen Square and we could only watch helplessly."
Our parents, on the other hand ... I wonder if they are getting even with us for our failure to support the US in Vietnam? Or it's some kind of karmic retribution? Oh well, so long as they finally listen to us this time and vote for GWB in '04.
Paul reports that former Pres. Clinton is going to be a behind-the-scenes advisor to Gray Davis. He also comes up with witty repartee of which I am incapable because I am paralyzed with thoughts of the WTF persuasion.
Aug. 8 -- A quote in this article exemplifies why we have to dig in our heels and maintain our traditions:
Around the time of the 1963 centennial, a number of writers and cultural critics inveighed against re-enactments, calling them tasteless and inappropriate.
Those early seeds of political correctness were fortunately ignored.
It should be of interest to Canadians because the British government was under considerable pressure to grant formal recognition of and to openly assist the Confederacy in breaking the Northern blockade to reopen cotton shipments to English textile industries.
Had the North lost this battle, England, and therefore what we now call Canada, would have recognized the Confederacy and thus perpetuated slavery.
How do you think your history books would read had that happened?
Read Bill's essay: you'll never hear the phrase "Fix Bayonets" again without a chill running down your spine.
Aug. 8 -- When I was looking for a news link in some older posts I discovered that most of them had become totally italicized, both those things I posted in italics and those I hadn't. I tend to italicize quotes rather than do the (harder) block quote formatting so I'll be philosophical about it (after I'm finished cursing) and try to fix it.
Sorry if any confusion arises from this, especially as it will be hard to separate my snark from some of the actual quotes.
UPDATE: Turned out to be easier to fix than I expected, although my threats of mayhem and violence probably were more persuasive than just clicking on the "republish entire site" button.
Aug. 8 -- I like Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman. Everyone takes shots at him, and he probably deserves most of them, but he is hardly the only kook at the Good Ship Toronto City Council and at least his goofy utterings come straight from the heart. But when he hits the nail on the head he does it with pizzazz like in this reaction to moving the UN to Toronto:
Lastman said he looked into the idea "about six months ago and I said: Screw this. This thing's a headache."
He added he would only support efforts to bring the UN headquarters to Toronto if the federal government guarantees the international organization will pay its bills.
Lastman said the current headquarters requires hundreds of millions of dollars worth of repairs and the UN wants the U.S. federal government to pay the bill.
"In 2002, 74 of the member countries failed to pay their dues and the UN doesn't have the money to pay it and ... nobody does the repairs," Lastman said.
He said diplomats, who are afforded immunity from prosecution, have also failed to pay "hundreds of thousands" of parking tickets in New York.
Admit it, Mel: you too would like to see these paragons of virtue relocated to Paris.
Aug. 8 -- There are a series of reports in today's Toronto Sun about the simmering gang warfare that is responsbile for much of the gunplay this past year here, here, here, and some more encouraging news here (note that it hasn't been determined that Terrance Riaz Ali was a victim of gang warfare).
And then there's this, but only 30 people showed up? Gee, do you suppose the people of those communities want the killing stopped more than they want to listen to the all too familiar rhetoric?
Community leaders such as Winston LaRose, executive director of the Jane-Finch Citizens Association, and Herman Stewart, vice-president of the Jamaican Canadian Association, slammed Police Chief Julian Fantino for not building bridges between the black community and the force.
Police representatives were not invited to the meeting.
The politics of distraction are undeterred by the recent bloodshed as Premier Ernie Eves defends Bob Runciman's comments and a Liberal MP demands an apology to the black community and even Lincoln Alexander weighs in.
Is any of this causing people who may have information to solve these murders come forward? I didn't think so.
Meanwhile, back at the real story, Police Chief Fantino is seeking money to provide additional resources including close circuit camera coverage of critical areas (in lieu of witnesses, maybe?) and an expanded guns and gang unit.
Despite the political storm, it's reassuring that Chief Fantino is staying above the fray and doing his job.
The only voices missing are those running for Mayor. What I don't know is if that's a good or bad thing ... at least Deputy Mayor Ootes stood up to support Chief Fantino the other day.
Bob MacDonald's (link will expire shortly) comments on the failure of Immigration Canada to execute deportation orders:
But Chief Fantino is not going to wait any longer for sweet persuasion to do the job. He said the police are going after a list of 400 of the most wanted - many of them immigrants with violent crime records who had been ordered deported.
Immigration Canada has let them disappear into the woodwork. Fantino's police, backed by tough-minded guys like Runciman, are on the hunt. They will no longer be appeased.
Note that this parallels the joint call issued by Ontario Min. of Security Bob Runciman and Police Chief Fantino for the Federal government to release information that will enable them to track down and arrest the 59 known war criminals known to be loose in Toronto.
Aug. 7 -- Even saying Flight 93 invokes a feelings of honour, gratitude and awe that, at a crucial moment in history, these courageous men and women discussed, voted, and acted.
On Sept. 11, many of us made a pledge in their names to never forget and to hold true to the example they set of steadfast defiance of those pledged to kill America.
If that sounds like jingoist flag-waving think again. That pledge didn't arise from pride but from humility: deep-in-the-gut, bow-your-head-in-respect pondering if-you-would-have-done-as-they-did humility, fearing we might have wavered and hoped things would, you know, turn out okay just so long as we didn't panic.
The 9/11 report sent to the Congress last month says that, although they didn't make it to the cockpit, the uprising posed enough of a threat to the hijackers that one of them ordered Ziad Jarrah, believed to have been acting as pilot, to crash the jetliner.
Eventually, revisionists will do their worst to defame and ridicule those passengers and crew (even poor Billy Bishop has become a target up here in Canada), but they'll have to wait until we and the grandchildren we'll tell the story to are all dead.
Or maybe a new age has begun, one which will be dominated by ideals and optimism, and the lethargic cyncism of the current batch of world-weary elite will be what our kids and grandkids will mock. Let's hope.
Link from CNN Hijackers deliberately crashed Flight 93
Aug 7 -- Busted! French Libertarian in Quebec is beginning to realize that some of us have been letting him do all the hard work at figuring and sorting out our various views on legalities in the Canadian Constitution and Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedom.
So I guess I should 'fess up and start to carry my own weight on this one.
I often admit that I am somewhat perplexed at how the Canadian Constitution allocates powers and responsibilities to the different levels of governments. (But then again, I am equally astonished that a province, say Ontario, can order previously separate cities to amalgamate. In Atlanta it was subject to a popular vote.)
You see, it's one thing to know these things intellectually, but quite another to re-define your instincts to adjust your reactions to them.
I had said to Francois that there really wasn't a strong tradition in Canada that parallels the States Right's advocates vs. Federalists battles. Maybe I need to think that through more; although there are similarities, the provinces' acquiesence in giving up their powers and the way they have set about to resolve their differences are utterly different.
The recent premiers' conference is a case in point. Certainly they have the potential to become a strong political force and are stronger when they work together than when they bicker and fight over scraps, but they united in their determination to begin forming their own relationships with a foreign power, i.e., the USA, which I would think should properly belong under the Federal government's Constitutionally designated powers.
The harmonized system of tax collection is a "STOP" sign issue for me. I'm paranoid, remember? I don't trust the Federal or state government, and the state government doesn't trust the Federal government.
What the hell are the provinces doing handing over the collection of their money to the Federal government, i.e, their natural foes?
Francois pointed to the rise of the Canadian Alliance party and separatists movements in Quebec, Alberta and Newfoundland as showing there is a battle brewing with the Federal government over provincial rights.
He's right about the Canadian Alliance party, although I think the CA is beginning to address more national issues and thus might be able to broaden its base (or so at least a lot of Ontarians hope.)
The other point, the fact that there are secessionists who can agitate to exercise that legal option underscores my point that there are marked differences.
The question of separation was settled in the USA 140 years ago with a costly and bloody Civil War. Result: nobody gets to leave. [People who advocate that Canada join the USA might want to take that under advisement.]
Further, there is no "withstanding" clause in the US Constitution. The closest to it is appealing to the US Supreme Court.
The next steps available are to drop objections to it, keep re-drafting that law which may have been struck down by the Supreme Court or proposing amendments to a Federal law deemed heinous, or start an insurrection. (See Second Amendment by scrolling down to read Article the 4th:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.)
The majority of people have thus far ruled that option out. (Don't misunderstand my use of "thus far": it's just that I can't see into the distant future. Should something very unConstitutional and therefore unlikely occur, as the surrender of US foreign policy to the dictates of the UN, there could be an armed insurrection. Paranoid, remember?)
The final battlefield for States Rights advocates vs. Federalists is that the Justices of the Supreme Court may be exceeding their Constitutional powers by hearing cases that do not properly fall under their jurisdiction (see the Tenth Amendment by scrolling down link to Article the 12th:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.)
Aug. 7 -- With all due apologies to Canadians, that vicious, nasty vindicative streak in me really hopes this is successful: Grit MP out to bring UN to T.O.
Liberal MP Dennis Mills has one last mission if he's re-elected next year: He wants to convince the United Nations to move its headquarters to his riding in Canada's largest city.
On the other hand, the part of me which reveres my instincts for self-preservation hopes devoutly this falls on its face. Or that the UN takes up residence in Ottawa. Or maybe some other city we all really, really hate.
Or maybe build a new city and call it Pearson City. Lots of room available in northern Ontario or Labrador, right?
Either way, NYC has suffered enough and should let some other city take care of those free-loaders, errr I mean diplomats, of course.
Aug. 7 -- Does the following sound familiar? [He was] "... beaten with sticks and shredded cables, jolted with electricity and squashed in a car tire for extended hours ..." [by government officials while under detention in jail.]
You think that it's further revelations out of Iraq about the excesses of the Ba'athist regime, right? Not quite: it is an accusation being levied against their bestest friends, the Syrians, who the London-based Syrian Human Rights Committee claim has tortured Maher Arar.
Okay, I don't believe in torture, but I can no longer blindly swallow something like this story which now requires a gigantic leap of faith.
Damned these NGOs. Damn them to hell. There was a time when I believed what groups like Amnesty International were saying and I supported them. I believed it was important to have an independent group monitoring governments for human rights abuses.
And then the real truth came out.
They, like the press, had betrayed their moral and ethical obligation to tell the truth unencumbered by the popular political dogma and scrapegoats of the day.
By being revealed as liars and concealers of the truth, they now put those of us who deplore torture and human rights violations with no credible source other than our gut instincts. Why should I believe them now? The fact that I believe Syria tortures criminals doesn't automatically mean this guy is being tortured. Syria also encourages and supports terrorists, so for all I know he is in a 5-Star hotel. Should I doubt that Syria has the same kind of revolving-door policy for prisoners as the PLO reportedly had?
I'm also furious that the Sovereign Nation of Canada didn't handle this herself instead of dumping the problem in her neighbour's back yard.
UPDATE: I need to clarify that last statement. I don't know what really led to Arar's detainment at the NY airport, but I have to assume his name popped up on a data base and that, as he was travelling on a Canadian passport, the Canadian government or her agencies were somehow involved. Too many Canadians are teleporting into US custody for me to not think the government here is implicated. I have no secret knowledge, just a dot-connecting logic. Just my opinion, okay?
UPDATE: MP Marlene Catterall, Liberal Party whip, thinks the US government should be asked to help obtain the release of Arar:
"They created this problem by deporting a Canadian citizen to a country he hasn't been in since he was a teenager ... some indication from the Americans that they don't object to him being returned to Canada would be extremely helpful." [...] (Emphasis added)
So his detention during a stopover at the NYC airport which prevented him from returning to Canada is an indication that the US doesn't object to him being returned to Canada. What could be clearer? Oh well, give her points for saying "teenager" instead of "child."
Aug. 7 -- Palestinians are not impresssed as Israel released 334 prisoners yesterday, Prisoner release falls flat.
On the other hand, Israel (and I) are not impressed that Palestinian PM Abbas won't take steps to disarm terrorist groups because he fears a civil war.
The Road to Statehood is hard and rocky, especially if you have to earn it by exercising some leadership and responsibility.
Aug. 7 -- Not much is new in the case against Michael Briere, the alleged killer of Holly Jones Mountain of Holly evidence except that the disclosure of evidence is said to be 100,00 pages and he is being kept in monitored isolation.
Naturally you've all gone to the Holly's Law website so you'll know where to go next Monday, right? RIGHT?
Torontonians should assemble at 4 p.m. at Queen's Park. Those of you from other cities can go the the website and link to your local rallies.
There will be rallies in 13 Canadian cities on August 11 to mark support for the proposed law, but it will also be a public expression by people who don't routinely go to demonostrations and rallies to say E-Nough!
Look, people like me can blog and write letters and cry a lot, but it don't mean anything if people don't put their bodies out there and let the legislators know that people care enough to at least show up. Talk is cheap, but leaving work early to get to Queen's Park takes more effort.
Ultimately you have to ask yourself:
Are Our Kids Worth It?
Aug. 7 -- From Australia, an 20-year old Indonesian 'Bombmaker' blows himself up while constructing an explosive device in Central Sulawesi.
The demise of such people is becoming so commonplace it hardly qualifies for Honourable Mention status anymore in the Darwin Awards (not that we don't appreciate their withdrawal from the gene pool.)
Aug. 7 -- There are two groups I've been thinking about for a long time, and one of them made the news. The other didn't, and I'll refer to it at the end of this post.
There are some articles in today's Toronto Sun that pertain to how people are responding to the increase in violence and gang activity in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). There's this which tells of one Chad Letourneau who tried to form a Neighbourhood Watch committee in the townhouse complex in which he resides and was confronted by 6 gang members who entered his home armed with an axe, stun gun, pellet gun and knife.
(Read the article; there are some facts in this case that will surprise you and should quiet those who think this is a racial incident.)
Adrenaline and guts make for a powerful combination, and Mr. Letourneau had plenty of both as he fought off the would-be attackers and, seizing the axe, chased them out the door. The more sobering side to this action-movie scenario is that his wife ushered their 3 daughters and a visiting teenaged friend out the back door as Mr. Letourneau faced the thugs.
The crux of Neighbourhood Watch is that neighbours rely and watch out for one another, hardly a new idea but one that runs smack into the nanny state mentality where someone else is supposed to do that for you. But, as Mr. Letourneau pointed out,
"The police have enough work to do. They can't do it all. The only way it will stop is if we pull together. We need a Neighbourhood Watch so we can take it all back so that our children can grow up in peace," he said.
The question is: will Mr. Letourneau's neighbours realize the danger is there and and join him to organize and fight back, or will they hide and hope that, as gang activity escalates, it will pass over them?
This is hardly a Canadian story even though it takes place in Ontario: it is both universal and ancient because eventually everyone, everyone comes to at least one defining moment when they have to chose between facing life on their feet or trembling in perpetual fear on their knees.
Another viewpoint in attempts to combat escalating gang violence is expressed by Ontario Minister of Public Safety and Security Bob Runciman in this in which he questions if some leaders in the black community might have a vested interest in maintaining tensions with the police.
"I think some folks here appear to have, in my view, a vested interest in seeing this kind of tension continue to exist," he said.
"I think some people make a living off some of this ... we really want to achieve a community that can work together where we have respect for each other. And that's a two-way street."
If the voices screaming "racist" could quiet down a second, they might want to consider that this is strikingly parallel to the reasons many of us criticize the power of special-interest groups and NGOs.
Who established these leaders as leaders? Was there an election? Was there a referendum or questionnaire to develop a program of what members of these communities wanted to see happening in their neighbourhoods?
Does the community have any control over groups that purport to represent them? Given the media's disinclination to do any investigatory work, are they going to report what folks on the streets say or what a self-styled leader says?
What do community groups have to do to get government funding? I don't think a fair evaluation of a groups representatative status is the amount of money it gets from Heritage Canada or the Good Ship Toronto City Council but there is no doubt that increased funds results in an increased profile and therefore sound bites on the evening news.
Isn't it racist for a government bureaucracy to delegate money and thereby to assign someone to be leader of the community and, moreover, bolster their position by providing continuous financial backing? What would a community be able to do to rid itself of a bad leader?
Take a group like "The Society To Preserve 2nd and Lakeshore For the Swans" (fictitous): they are given government, no-strings attached grants sufficient to pay full-time staffers to pursue its goals. Is it likely to achieve those goals or to perpetuate its grants and therefore it's well-paid jobs?
We're talking about human nature here, not Lollipop Land.
How would a group best be able to increase the funding it gets? Would it be more likely to resolve a crisis or cry "insufficent funds" and prove it needs more money by worsening the crisis? We're not talking nickel and dime donations here, we're talking mega-dollars.
There was a time when any self-respecting group would be extremely suspicious of financial offers from the government or big business. Not only were they concerned about hidden strings, but they were concerned that they would subconsciously subvert their goals to ensure continued access to funds and that they would make compromises for the overall good they hoped to achieve with that first compromising leading to another, and so on.
Now maybe that innate recognition of one's own ability to be corrupted is a unique American value, and maybe Canadians trust themselves and their governments more than do Americans. I honestly don't know, but I do know that Canadians are watching young men die and doing nothing about it except pointing at the police and abusing them.
But the group I have yet to see mentioned is one that relies on trusting each other: The Guardian Angels. And it's high time that people who came to Canada to raise their kids in peace and security are given a chance to do just that, and that means working with the police and bypassing leaders who don't give a damned about them.
UPDATE: Naturally there is a response from community leader apologists here.
Today's editorial in the Toronto Sun No more talk, we want action (link will die soon) says: "We want no part of the divisive rhetoric of blame that too often stymies police efforts in this city. Our kids are being shot at. So are cops. It's a no-brainer. It must be stopped. And the only way to to that is to unite behind solid police action, not divide ourselves with words."
Aug. 6 -- Some things are worth staying online for: Amrozi, the first tried suspect in the Bali bombing last October that killed 202 people was found guilty and is due to be sentenced within hours, well, several hours, actually. 88 Australians and 2 Canadians were among those killed, with the majority of the victims Balinese.
Some of his Australian victims and the families of those killed have some ideas on sentencing here including survivor Jake Ryan, who said:
They will keep doing this anyway but if we don't execute Amrozi then we are playing into their hands.
This is the first trial like this and the judge really needs to get it right. Amrozi has made his choice and he has got to suffer the consequences.
UPDATE: He's going to die. As the court judgement read: “The death sentence should be used for a crime against humanity or an extraordinary crime,” they said.
Aug. 6 -- There were some gratifying results from a recent survey of high school students conducted by the Horatio Alger Association : High schoolers appreciate family times:
Almost 75 percent of high school students say they get along very well or even extremely well with their parents or guardians, a new survey finds. Most of the rest call the relationship "just OK," and only 3 percent say they and their parents don't get along well.
Overall, teenagers have a lot more admiration than animosity for family members, despite popular notions to the contrary, "The State of Our Nation's Youth" survey says.
You can read some of the survey results yourself, but the one that stuck out to me was:
-- Almost half of students said they have solid or strong confidence in Congress. Only 26 percent said the same about the media.
The press is that which is supposed to be the watch-dog of the government. These days they behave more like my cat: groom themselves, sleep a lot, stare at nothing, and chase air.
I'd like to hope that since this has appeared in several newspapers and on CNN, the media might take notice and want to repair that loss of faith, but it is a well-established fact that the press doesn't pay any attention to the news.
Here's a sample:
I'll share something with you -- NINE HOURS to proecess a simple common DOMESTIC assault -- because of all the "rules" placed on police by our courts.
He's mad, and he knows why. Read.
Aug. 6 -- CNN has a column by Thomas L. Friedman of the NY Times Shaking Up the Neighbors which is a glimpse into the Arab world's reaction to events in Iraq:
AMMAN, Jordan -- Shortly after the 25-member Governing Council was appointed in Iraq, the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, questioned the U.S.-appointed Council's legitimacy. "If this Council was elected," complained Mr. Moussa, "it would have gained much power and credibility."
I love that quote. I love it, first of all, for its bold, gutsy, shameless, world-class hypocrisy. Mr. Moussa presides over an Arab League in which not one of the 22 member states has a leader elected in a free and fair election. On top of it, before the war, Mr. Moussa did all he could to shield Saddam Hussein from attack, although Saddam had never held a real election in his life. Yet, there was Mr. Moussa questioning the new U.S.-appointed Iraqi Council, which, even in its infant form, is already the most representative government Iraq has ever had.
But I also love Mr. Moussa's comment for its unintended revolutionary message: "power and credibility" come from governments that are freely "elected." [..]
I love Mr. Friedman. He manages to be an analytical optimist, and worth reading even when I disagree with him.
For a war that was supposed to unleash the fearsome power of the Arab Street, the Arab world has been painfully silent on Iraq, especially in any honest evaluation of the complicity of that world to keep the monster Saddam in power.
Another thing he explores is that the majority Sunni populations in Arab countries will have to deal more honestly with their Shiite populations, who in many Arab countries are treated as second-class citizens. He doesn't state this, but his question causes me to wonder if that is why the Arab world turned a blind eye to Saddam, i.e., he was persecuting Shiites, the majority, while promoting Sunnis, the minority, and that was quietly acceptable.
... But if there is a decent government elected in Baghdad in two years, it will be as easy to ignore as a 10.0 earthquake...
So we hope.
Aug. 6 -- You ever notice how parents of the nastiest kids worry most about the brat's self esteem? I hate to break it them (although that doesn't stop me) but their kids have too much self-esteem and need to be taken down a few pegs.
>From the CBC: Hockey dad sues because son didn't win awards.
BATHURST, N.B. - A man in New Brunswick is taking the province's amateur hockey association to court after it passed over his son at an awards banquet.
Lawyers for the association were in court on Tuesday trying to have the case dismissed.
At last year's awards banquet, Stephen Croteau, 17, was sure he'd win the awards for playmaker of the year and most valuable player. He had scored 27 more points than his closest competitor.
But Croteau lost, getting only one vote out of 10 at the banquet, and Croteau's father, Michel, decided to hire lawyer Euclide Lebouthilier to sue the association.
Ask any volunteer in amateur sports what their biggest problem is and they will reply "Parents!"
Maybe the kid lost out because he and/or his father have caused more headaches than they were worth and nobody wanted to reward their bad behaviour no matter how many goals the kid scored.
In the sports world, there's something called addition by subtraction. It means that the whole team improves by getting rid of players (however talented they may be) because of their poisonous attitudes and egos.
Sadly, unless the league has the means to ban troublesome parents, kids can be cut because their parents behave badly in the stands, especially at the Rep level where referees and umpires have the power to declare a forfeit against the team if the coach can't control the spectators.
It is also worth noting that hockey is a team sport, and players who hog the puck do not contribute to the team.
My favourite parents are those who mind their own business at the fields and rinks, and are more concerned about their kids' grades and overall behaviour than sports awards. (Sample: "Right, nice home run, but you're still grounded because you didn't cut the grass like you were supposed to!")
(Via Neale News)
Aug. 6 -- From the Toronto Sun John Tory, mayoralty candidate in Toronto, has annoyed civic unions with a plan to have volunteers "adopt" parks and see to their cleaning and upkeep Clean parks pushed.
"If there's a real need for this work to be done, then it should be done by the city's own employees and the city should be hiring additional staff," argued Ann Dembinski, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 79.
I agree: it should be done by city employees, but the fact is that it isn't. The logic of hiring more people to not work is beyond me, and, worse, as more supervisors would have to be retained to watch civic workers not work, Ms. Dembinski's argument is a self-indulgent non-starter.
Those of us who live near parks are often astonished that pick-up trucks with 4 workers often drive into parks, sit for awhile, and then leave without anyone leaving the vehicle. (In fairness, the one vehicle that has a worker get out is usually the one that picks up the garbage.)
Now this sounds promising, especially if those hired learn to stop littering:
In outlining his plan to reduce Toronto's litter and graffiti problems, Tory said he also wants the city to spend $2.5 million to hire 1,500 students next summer for general clean-up duty.[...]
The people of Toronto (or any community) can contribute to the cleanliness of their town by simply depositing their garbage into one of the many available trash cans or keeping a litter bag in their cars. It takes so.little.effort.
Aug. 6 -- From the Toronto Sun Order of Canada for PM's buddies.
OTTAWA -- Canada's governor general has honoured some of Prime Minister Jean Chretien's closest advisers and supporters -- including his son-in-law -- with the coveted Order of Canada. Among the 109 names made public yesterday were retired veteran Liberal MP Herb Gray,the PM's son-in-law Andre Desmarais, retired astronaut Marc Garneau, Chretien's former chief of staff Jean Pelletier and former Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy.
(Follow the link for Desmarais which will also take you to the goodness of posts from Winds of Change, Mrs. du Toit and be sure to check out this in case your forgot how closely tied PM Chretien is to international oil companies.)
To re-iterate, this is the same son-in-law who is a chief co-executive of Montreal Power Corp and whose father is the biggest shareholder in TotalFinaElf, the French petroleum company that had sweetheart deals with Saddam Hussein (not that the relationship affected PM Chretien's decision to denounce the War in Iraq.)
What did the reflective PM say last year on the anniversary of Sept. 11? Something about arrogance, greed, or something?
Aug. 6 -- From the Toronto Sun, Police Chief Julian Fantino takes a strong stand on violence here and asks some tough questions in Covered in blood:
Chief Fantino spoke in response to the recent spate of violence this weekend which left 4 people dead and pledged to deploy officers to "concentrate on guns, gangs and drugs." He also said he was considering installing closed-circuit TV cameras in the entertainment district.
Fantino said there has been a 70% increase in homicides from shootings so far this year.
Five people have been killed by guns just since Canada Day, July 1. (Emphasis added)
Crime has peaked as a result of young people who are "obviously out of control" and "accountable to no one," Fantino said.
Police have reported increasing hostility from bystanders, and nowhere has it been more evident than it was early Sunday.
Officers dealing with two separate shootings on Yonge St., where four young males were injured by gunshots, dodged glass bottles hurled by an angry crowd of young people.
That is very odd. Does anyone living in Toronto not live near the scene of a homicide? Do we all not want the murderer(s) caught quickly? Somehow I doubt those who attacked the police represent the many concerned members of that community.
"How can a young person get involved with drugs and guns and no one notices?" he asked.
When did proponents of teenagers' rights make it unseemingly to look in the lockers, dresser drawers and closets of our children without a search warrant?
When was asking children, especially teens, too many questions termed abusive behavior? When did expressing skepticism when we knew damned well they were lying risk hurting their poor widdle self-esteem?
He asked "How can so many people be killed and so many people be wounded in our community, and yet all of this is basically left to the police?"
I should note that Chief Fantino was supported by Deputy Mayor Ootes.
Meanwhile the floundering Good Ship Toronto City Council does nothing but take on more water.
UPDATE: The Toronto Sun backs the Chief in today's editorial (link will expire shortly so I'm quoting the whole thing).
Let's agree on this much: our cops are not punching bags. They put their lives on the line for us daily.
When they respond to a shooting in a rowdy crowd, they deserve not to be shot at.
Or pelted with bottles. Or cursed and jeered by smart-talking gangster wannabes who think it's cool to protect the criminals in their midst.
Yet that's exactly what Toronto cops have faced several times over the past week - on top of dealing with various accidents, murders ... oh, and the biggest rock concert in history.
Police Chief Julian Fantino is fed up, and who can blame him? "I don't know what's wrong with people," he told the Sun. "It's just a total breakdown of decency!"
Fantino also lashed out - again - at that Toronto Star report accusing his force of racial profiling (i.e., racism) last year, likening it to throwing "a grenade in(to) the community."
No doubt his opponents will accuse him of doing the same thing with this outburst.
Not us. While we do wish he'd get over the Star nonsense, the chief is absolutely right that what his officers face on our streets, particularly from young people, is unacceptable.
"This is not solely a police issue," he told the Sun. "Where is the community responsibility here? Where is the parental responsibility?"
Exactly. Never mind the endless politically correct - or incorrect - tangents here. Crime and disrespect know no racial or ethnic boundaries; nor do decency and responsibility.
Fact is, the Star's attacks notwithstanding, no one has worked harder than Fantino to build bridges between police and communities hard hit by crime. Enough already. There's real crime to fight here, and real people getting shot.
Now, we can have yet another futile, ideological fight about race and crime and who's to blame .... or we can get real - and speak with one voice against the thugs attacking our cops. The choice is clear to us.
Yesterday, Fantino announced new crackdowns on guns, gangs and drugs. Sounds like effective policing to us. We support him fully. What decent, responsible Torontonian would not?
Aug. 6 -- The Sydney Morning Herald has a fairly comprehensive round-up of links to yesterday's bombing.
There is the inevitable accusation that the police knew that the area round the Marriott Hotel was targeted although a reading of the actual police quote reveals that the Marriott was one of a number of targets in documents seized by the police last month in which they arrested four alleged Jemaah Islamiah members in a town in central Java.
Another raid last month also "... arrested seven alleged Jemaah Islamiah operatives in two separate raids. They seized four boxes of TNT, 25 sacks of potassium chlorate - the chemical used in the bombings on the island of Bali - and 1,200 detonators in Semarang." It wasn't known if the explosives used yesterday came from the same cache.
Also, according to this from a report published by the Singapore newspaper Straits Times which purports to indicate that JI takes responsibility for the bombing but actually repeats the threat that was issued before the bombing which warns of retaliation if the verdict expected tomorrow in the Amrozi trial results in a death sentence for the accused Bali bomber.
Another article states that anti-terrorist work undone in deadly flash which gives an interesting round-up of efforts by the Indonesia government to uncover terror networks and arrest those plotting future attacks and the sad fact that the blast will adversely affect the economy of Indonesia.
Prior to the bombing in Bali, the Indonesian government had denied that terrorists were active in their country, but now it faces a special difficulty because it is a new democracy and has to walk a fine line to avoid the draconian measures imposed by the previous dictatorial government.
Aug. 6 - Yesterday's bombing of a Marriott hotel in Jakarta killed up to 16 people and injured about 150 people in Bomb Update from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australian PM John Howard laid it out squarely:
"It would appear that the overwhelming majority of people who have been killed and injured are Indonesians.As were locals the main victims in Bali, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, the Phillipines ...
"Although it took place outside a hotel which is frequented by westerners and seen as something of a western symbol, the victims were the men and women of Indonesia.The bombing of the Marriott was a symbolic gesture aimed at American interests; the dead and injured in Jakarta were, what? inconvenient? collaterial damage? How about innocent.
"We Australians should understand this is very much an attack on Indonesia."
I have a hatred for terrorism that goes back decades. I doubt I was the only person who stood and cheered when Pres. Bush declared war on that monstrous inhumanity. Something good was to come out of Sept. 11 because standing by idly while terrorists conducted a worldwide campaign against innocents had already become insupportable, so when they hit us they enabled us to take them on.
I demand an explanation from apologists for terrorists as to how they can justify the murder of Indonesians to damage a stupid building.
Aug. 6 -- This is a little good news: on August 5, French troops foil massacre in northeastern Congo in a village 12 miles away from Bunia.
French troops on helicopter patrol over the lush green savannah of troubled northeastern Congo stopped a massacre in progress Tuesday in a remote village, although nine villagers died, residents said.
The attack began before dawn when Lendu tribal fighters armed with automatic weapons and machetes raided this tiny village of the Hema tribe from two directions, chief Nguna Manasse said.
The attackers came in two waves, Manasse said. The first, dressed in military uniforms, fired on fleeing villagers; the second in civilian clothes hacked the wounded with machetes.
"There were so many of them, I could not count because we were running," Manasse said after he and other residents ventured back to the village 12 miles south of Bunia, the capital of troubled Ituri province.
The sound of the helicopters drove off the attackers, he said.
Col. Gerard Dubois, spokesman for the French-led 1,100-strong international force based in Bunia, said after the helicopters frightened the attackers off, 150 more French troops went to the village in armored personnel carriers and secured the area.
Aug. 5 -- Seek, and you shall find: yesterday I admitted ignorance as what the Charter of Rights said about the relationship between Church and State in Canada, and today when I read Colby Cosh I found he clarified the matter by citing the Canadian Constitution in Return of the teeming pinata. [I can't find the tilde on my keyboard so imagine it's over the n.]
First: He coined a new (to me) word: dumpth which (I'm guessing) is a combination of dumb and depth. I'll find lots of uses for that one.
Second: He asserted that a formal principle of church-state separation doesn't actually exist in Canada. He brought up the main reason I trod softly on the issue: publicly funded Catholic schools.
I'm not going to cite excerpts from it because it's a must-read in its entirety.
(UPDATE: French Libertarian in Quebec gives an indepth examination of the Charter of Rights and Freedom in The Separation of Church and State.)
Aug. 5 - Paul has an update on the Iranian investigation into the murder of Zahra Kazemi You can just taste that Iranian justice.... Yep. The Iranians have learned some things about due process from the West.
Aug. 5 -- From Ralph Peters of the New York Post Don't sell out Iraq:
HAVING seen the United Nations in action (or inaction), I wouldn't trust it to run a school safety crossing on a traffic-free day in a roadless town with no children.
He lists and explains some of the reasons why turning Iraq over to the United Nations would be a betrayal of the American and Iraqi people:
* Human life may not be eternal, but U.N. projects are. ... A U.N. administration in Baghdad (let's call it UNCARCI - the United Nations Coordinating Authority for Resurrecting Corruption in Iraq) would have no incentive to finish the job, but every reason to extend the mission indefinitely. [...]
* The United Nations is blithely corrupt. ... Corruption, which we do not even consider as a strategic factor, has been the greatest single reason for the developing world's failure to develop. Does anyone in Washington really want a Nigerian to take Paul Bremer's place?
* The United Nations is anti-American. [...]
* Image matters. [...]
He concludes with this:
Whores should not be employed to teach morality. And the United Nations should not be employed to rebuild Iraq.
It's only been a few days since I last ranted on the miserable role the UN played in the Iraq Oil-for-Palaces debacle so I'll let that one rest for a bit. Read the article, though; Mr. Peters aims straight and hits the targets.
(Via Neale News.)
Aug. 5 -- From Ananova: Maine Woman blames stabbing on ghost:
An American woman who stands accused of stabbing a drinking companion has blamed the attack on the ghost of the man's ex-wife.
Jean Lampron, 46, has been charged with aggravated assault, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and obstructing the report of a crime.
It's alleged she stabbed Paul Vicnaire several times after drinking whiskey with him at his home in Hartland.
It gets weirder because the victim backs up the ghost story:
According to an affidavit filed in Skowhegan District Court, Vicnaire told police Lampron stabbed him under orders from his dead ex-wife. Lampron, however, told police that Vicnaire's ex-wife, who was glowing and dressed "in a beautiful white robe," stabbed him. (Emphasis added)
Lampron told police she attempted to pull the ex-wife off Vicnaire and in the process got blood on her shirt. Vicnaire was calling the dead woman's name out at the time, Lampron told police.
Lampron was initially charged with kidnapping and attempted murder, but those charges were downgraded when Lampron appeared in court.
You couldn't make it up.
Aug. 5 -- The Sydney Morning Herald reports 13 dead and 149 injured in the noontime car bombing at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta.
One Malaysian is now listed as among the dead and early reports of an Australian fatality may have been erroneous.
The injured include Indonesians, Americans, Australians and New Zealanders.
Thus far, no group has taken responsibility for the blast although Fugitive JI bomb pair among the first suspects indicates the authorities consider Jemaah Islamiah, linked to al Qaeda and blamed for the Bali bombing, to be the prime suspect.
More than 50 members of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network have been captured since the Bali blasts, massively disrupting the group's ability to function.
But with the two bomb masters still in hiding - and concerns that large quantities of chemicals have not been found - Indonesian police have repeatedly warned that JI still poses a threat.
Indeed, several of the alleged Bali bombers, including Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, have trumpeted in recent interviews that more attacks were being planned.
Aug. 5 -- From the Toronto Sun PM told to help Canuck in Syria. (The Canuck in question is Maher Arar, a dual citizen from Syria, who was intercepted at a NY airport, detained by the FBI, deported to Jordan and and returned to Syria at the request of the Syrian government.)
OTTAWA -- Canada must recall its top diplomat to Syria if Prime Minister Jean Chretien's demands aren't quickly met, says a lawyer hired by the family of Maher Arar, jailed without charges in Syria since September. Michael Edelson said two weeks is "plenty of time" to respond to Chretien, who sent a letter to Syrian authorities in Damascus demanding Arar be charged or released.
The same problem that has clouded the Kazemi case is present in the Arar case. Both are dual citizens of Canada and countries that have less than good records in human rights. The Iranian government considered Kazemi an Iranian citizen; the Syrian government considers Arar a Syrian citizen. What is different is that Kazemi was in Iran and detained under an Iranian passport, and Arar was in North America and detained under a Canadian passport.
Edelson suggested Syria might be worried about upsetting the U.S., which deported Arar to the Middle East although he was travelling on a Canadian passport.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about the prospect that the U.S. is using "proxy" countries to conduct interrogations it could not do legally in the U.S.
Yes, by all means, let's blame the USA and their under-handedness. Far be it from me to think that maybe there was Canadian complicity or even that PM Chretien and Canadian investigatory agencies believe that anti-terror laws in Canada are insubstantive and that they may believe that turning suspected terrorists over to US authorities would be more effective in tracking down terrorist networks than trying to deal with them in Canada.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that the Canadian government is letting the USA do the heavy lifting in the War on Terrorism. It's just coincidence that Canadians suspected of terrorist ties have somehow ended up in the hands of US agencies when any reasonable Canadian would want to know just what they were up to in Canada.
Nevertheless, it is troubling when the people are detained while travelling under Canadian passports. I don't know if it's worse that Canada seems to wash its hand of taking responsibility for her people or if the US may be violating international law by deporting them to a third country, but both scenarios raise questions.
I'm not shy about how I feel about dual citizenship. I take citizenship seriously, and believe it should involve personal loyalty and responsibility. My decision to not take up Canadian citizenship was in part due to the (formerly) low-toned anti-Americanism I'd encountered here. The rightness of that decision has been reinforced several times since Sept. 11, especially when the differences between the two countries were exacerbated by the Canadian government's handling of its decision to say out of the Iraq conflict.
I know that many Canadians are also upset with the tone and strategies adopted by their Federal government; my only point is that I think I can argue more honestly on behalf of the USA (when warranted) as someone who is openly an American than as someone who would be seen as having ulterior motives for supporting the US. It also works in reverse: I can criticize the US as an American more honestly than as a Canadian.
My ultimate, personal vindication came on April 6 when Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui wrote in "Siding with U.S. against Canada":
If some "ethnics" were showing the sort of loyalty to another country as Canadian right-wingers are to the United States, they would have been branded traitors to Canada.
Don Cherry, Mike Harris, Ernie Eves, Ralph Klein and Stephen Harper - our newest foreign policy experts - may, in fact, be committing a worse sin.
In the middle of a war when loyalties are usually put to a stiff test, they are attacking Canada and siding with a country that is waging a war Canada considers illegal and has refused to enter on a point of principle.
Well, at least this "ethnic" cannot be accused of a conflict in loyalty although I did hear a major alarm bell go off when the editorial page editor emeritus of the major Canadian newspaper challenged the right of Canadians to publicly disagree with official policy.
I've quoted the above paragraphs from my hard copy of the World section in which the editorial appeared which I clipped to mark the last day when I read the Toronto Star.
I had tried to save it in my Documents folder the day after it appeared, but, oddly, it wasn't available on the Toronto Star website, hence, no link either. (I say "oddly" because it was decidedly unusual for a Siddiqui editorial not to be accessible for a few days as readers of the Star online know.) If anyone has the link I'd appreciate it being sent to me and I'll put it up.
I should also make the disclaimer that if a retraction or apology was issued, I wouldn't know about it, and that, even in that event, I really wouldn't care. That his anti-Americanism extended to trying to stifle the freedom of Canadians to differ with their government mark him and his paper as enemies of freedom.
Aug. 5 -- From the Sun (UK) a plan to let EU citizens living in the UK vote on a euro referendum in £ in foreigners' hands has sparked new outrage as the UK debates the introduction of the euro:
TONY Blair was last night accused of trying to rig a euro referendum — by giving a million EU citizens a vote to dump the Pound.
Under the plan, the right to vote on Britain’s future will be handed to European nationals living here.
There are currently 725,000. And the number will swell next year as the EU expands to include ten new states.
Glasgow MP Ian Davidson, chairman of Labour Against the Euro, said: “This is the start of attempts to fix the vote. I am greatly concerned that the Government will try to bias any euro referendum by manipulating the date, the rules, the question, the spending limits — and now even the electorate.
“If foreigners wish to vote on the euro they should be allowed to do so — but in their own countries.
Tory Treasury spokesman Mark Prisk said: “The economic case against euro membership is overwhelming and the British people remain implacably opposed.”
Previous referendums have been limited to British citizens on the electoral register.
That would include more than a million citizens of the Irish Republic — which has joined the euro.
They will be almost certain to vote in a euro referendum, bringing the total of non-British residents with a vote to TWO MILLION.
Polls claiming that people in the UK trust the BBC more than they trust the government should remember that "neither" is not listed as an option in these polls.
CanCon: Which do you trust more: the CBC or the government?
Aug. 5 -- From the Daily Telegraph (UK) Khomeini grandson attacks 'religious dictators'.
A grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, the late leader of Iran's Islamic revolution, has denounced the country's religious regime as "the worst dictatorship in the world", reminiscent of the "church during the Dark Ages in Europe".
In extraordinary remarks that will outrage hardliners among Teheran's ruling mullahs, Hossein Khomeini almost seemed to invite America to overthrow the clerical regime, as it did to Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
The fact that Mr Khomeini's comments were made during a visit to Iraq will stoke hardliners' fears that, under US sponsorship, Iraq's Shi'ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala will become rival centres of religious authority and political activity. Ayatollah Khomeini lived in Najaf, from where he sought to undermine the Shah of Iran.
Mr Khomeini is known as a maverick, but as a descendant of the revered imam of the revolution, his comments will not be easily dismissed.
After the fall of the Shah in 1979, he sided with Abdul-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the moderate first president of the revolutionary government, against hardliners who eventually ousted him. More recently, he has praised the student-led protests calling for political reform.
Read the entire article.
Aug. 5 -- Budget cuts to the Government funded Australian Broadcasting Company Alston queries budget decisions meant that the ABC would have to tighten their belts.
They naturally chose to axe their most popular programs, including the World at Noon news program and sports programs.
Communications Minister Senator Richrd Alston said cuts could have been made elsewhere:
"You should look first at back of office, structural spending and I think they have done about $5 million worth of that," Senator Alston told ABC radio today.
"In principle you would want to try and preserve as much programming as you could.
Senator Alston also said the ABC could have looked at further reducing spending on advertising, which has been slashed by $2.75 million, before axing programs.
"They have reduced for example some of its spending on advertising and self promotion but that has doubled in the past four-and-a-half years," he said.
"In other words going up from four million in '99 to eight and-a-half million now, then there was obviously scope for taking it back (more)."
This item reminded me of two things about the CBC: the ads they continually ran on CNN during the War in Iraq claiming a Canadian perspective (odd given that Canada wasn't involved), and the foolish move of Da Vinci's Inquest from Wednesdays to Sundays pitting it against the X-Files. How long did Da Vinci survive that move? Right.
Sadly, when they chose to shoot themselves in the foot they often hit taxpaying viewers.
Aug. 5 -- One Australian and one American are among the 15 confirmed dead in a noontime car bomb blast near a popular restaurant on the ground floor of a Marriott hotel in Jakarta according to Australia news Blast was work of terrorists. Early reports state that a car carrying the explosives rammed the hotel lobby.
The hotel is in the centre of the business district. Several foreign embassies, including the Chinese, are located nearby.
The latest number of injured is 103. Injuries is a mild word but when we are taking about bombs we're not taking about cuts and bruises but to BURNS which is one of the most painful injuries the human body can sustain
The vast majority of the dead and injured are locals, a statement that has become too depressingly familiar whenever terrorists claim they are targeting Westerners be it in Saudi Arabia, Bali, Kenya or US embassies in Eastern Africa.
There are three high-profile trials in Indonesia. A human rights tribunal returned a guilty verdict in the trial of East Timor General Adams Damiri on the day of the blast.
Abu Bakar Bashir, who is accused of being the spiritual head of al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiah, took to the stand for the first time in his trial in Jakarta.
In Bali, a verdict is expected in two days in the trial of Amrozi, who is accused of plotting and buying the truck and explosives in last October's bombing on that island which killed over 200 people.
Prior to the bombing in Bali, the Indonesian government had denied that there were active terrorist groups in the island groups but has taken strong action since. Nevertheless, the economy in Bali and other Indonesian islands was devastated by the bombing, terrorist threats and travel advisories issued by foreign governments.
Watcher of Weasels also has some comments and a link to the French apology in the post "Past the Point of Rescue."
May 31, 2005: I've updated some of the links as Paul moved since the cited posts were written.
Aug. 4 -- Ref. Article the third of the Bill of Rights which came to be known as:
Amendment I to the Constitution of the United States:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Could it be any clearer? Is it just accident or expediency that the freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly and petition are joined together or did our Founding Fathers recognize that these inherent rights were inextricably bound together?
Nowhere does it state that the leaders of our country must not be honest and forthright about their religious convictions or morality but, in fact, defends their and every person's right to state their views.
That means that President Bush has the right to express his views and that I am free to agree or disagree him because he is first a citizen and then the President. He is not a heriditary ruler with divine rights consecrated by the will of God, he does not speak with authority vested in him by God, and he is not the Head of the Church of America because there is none. No one can demand that he be denied his constitutional right to speak of his religious and personal convictions.
The twaddle-heads who are having a fit because he spoke of his beliefs miss the point of freedom, both his and theirs.
The words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the First Amendment. Those who unceasingly invoke that phrase usually don't understand, or more likely, never read it (just as too many overlook the word "peaceful" inserted right before the word "assemble".)
(I'll leave it up to Canadians to find the words in the Charter of Rights which pertain to religion and the State and if the phrase "separation of church and state" actually appears or is merely common usage.)
(UPDATE: I found one answer at Colby Cosh's site in Return of the teeming pinata wherein he assertsthat there is no formal policy of separation in the Canadian Constitution.)
(UPDATE: French Libertarian in Quebec gives an indepth examination of the Charter of Rights and Freedom in The Separation of Church and State. One thing I disagree with a tad: The First Amendment forbad the establishment of religion by Congress specifically to disallow the potential for the imposition of a "Church of America" similar to the "Church of England". Outlawing prayer in schools was a later interpretation and that debate is by no means over although it's one ruling not likely to be overturned. The Supreme Court has erred before, most notably in upholding Dred Scott and Plessey v Ferguson (which was eventually overturned by Brown v. Board of Education Topeka.)
The Vatican has also added its voice to discussion about same-sex marriage. Is anyone surprised at the position they've taken? No. Is it actually relevant to formulating policy or law? No. Does anyone think PM Chretien et alia often reflect on the after-life? None of our business.
President John Kennedy answered the extent to which the Vatican could influence him when he pointed out that, as president, his inaugural oath bound him to defend and uphold the Constitution and I assume PM Chretien is bound by the same ethic (you know what I mean).
Yet even so, people fret endlessly about the role religion plays in North American and too many pundits sneer at the greater role religion plays in the US than in Canada.
Do such people remember the Southern Christian Leadership Conference? Don't tell anyone who remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that religion played no role in the civil rights movement. Don't tell anyone who has studied US history that religion played no role in the founding of the colonies, the aboliton of slavery or the Prohibition of alcohol consumption, especially as the last illustrates that religion can also be a poor guide and we had the good sense to repeal it.
The fact that modern social engineers think they are superior because they are not guided by religious morality represents the lowest kind of dissembling. What really separates them from people who adhere to and attempt to promulgate a strict morality inspired by their religion? Not much: they think they know what's best for us better than we do, they think they have been chosen to lead us on the path to enlightenment, and they dismiss anyone who disagrees with them because obviously those who disagree haven't seen the light.
I'd compare the social engineers to my drab, humourless Puritan ancestors if not for the fact that those descended from the Puritans turned out rather well producing that remarkable document we call the Constitution because they learned from events to become more accepting of others as well as more humble about their own capacity for corruption, whereas the social engineers are pretty much incapable of development because they lack the self-scrutiny necessary for self-improvement.
Or, to put it another way, the Salem Witch Trials forced the Puritans to re-evaluate themselves and make adjustments to their view of themselves as well as the world; the purges of the Nazis, Stalinists, Maoists, and Castroites have caused their followers to lie, dissemble, or vainly pretend the widespread murders never happened thus denying themselves the opportunity to evaulate how a cause many of them embraced in idealism went so tragically wrong.
Any science or philosophy that lacks an internal correcting mechanism is doomed. The term "Social Sciences" is inherently contradictory because there is no objective, rigorous, scientific method that can be applied to separate our observations from our own subjective preconceptions.
So how can social engineers truly prove their theories? Actually, they can't.
Even the methods of the physical sciences have a fatal flaw. Nothing can be proven: experiments and observations can be made that seem to validate scientific laws until something comes along that disproves them.
So can the philosophies advanced by social engineers be disproved? Yes.
I would say that the current state of our educational system under their guidance more than disproves the theories of social engineers. They have failed to educate our children in the basics of reading, writing, math, the sciences and history which would provide the kids with the tools to make informed decisions and apply analytical thinking skills to problems. When they have to forgo the tests they designed because enough kids can't pass, it's a major whopping clue that these experimentors can't even meet their own targets.
You can look at the social engineering in our legal system, treatment of young offenders, the correctional services and, in fact, wherever you wish and evaluate if these new and improved methods are producing desirable results.
Is there any way to inject the social engineers with some old fashioned humility? No. We have to get rid of them and their moral cowardice.
Aug. 4 -- From Australia: Wine exports soar:
WINE exports soared 15 per cent last financial year to $2.4 billion, fresh figures show, making the beverage Australia's 11th most important export commodity.They are much too modest. I began sampling Australian wines when I decided that French wines, like the French themselves, were highly overrated and found the Australian brands to be excellent and reasonably priced.
The data comes as Australian winemakers plan to challenge the dominance of "old world" rivals in Europe's premium wine market and push low-cost wines in the United States to maintain the strong export growth of recent years, according to industry experts.
The increase, which takes wine exports to a record high, was based on stronger sales to Britain, Europe and particularly the US.
Sales to the US soared 55 per cent in 2002/03 to 173.6 million litres, while sales to Europe and Britain increased 11.2 per cent to 289.7 million litres.
Exports to all other regions except North East Asia increased, lifting overseas sales by 23.4 per cent to 516.5 million litres.
There's also the emotional satisfaction of supporting your friends instead of your enemies, but maybe that's just me.
Aug. 4 -- Computer problems have been sorted out and French Libertarian in Quebec is back up and telling us the sad, sorry facts about who finances the anit-globalisation protests: YOU DO! Follow the links in the post with a strong stomach.
Guess it isn't really necessary to point out that, as union membership and fees are mandatory, it is patently wrong to put that money to causes that the membership doesn't support.
The fact that the Canadian government chips in WITH OUR TAX MONEY to support these demonstration while the local communities pay police to prevent widespread damage and disruption goes beyond irony when we also remember that the huge bill for hosting the G-8 conference in Alberta was also paid by the Canadian government, i.e., YOU.
Talk about paying off both sides. It's disgraceful.
Aug. 3 -- Stephen den Beste over at the USS Clueless weighs in on the suggested Marriage amendment to the US Constitution and makes this extremely relevant observation about the suggestion to make gay marriage implicitly illegal by passing a constitutional amendment which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman and those laws that define what are acceptable sexual acts are also forms of social engineering:
I generally refer to the fundamental principle of liberty, and the best measure of it, as the right to scandalize the neighbors. We can determine how free we are by measuring the extent to which we are at risk of criminal punishment for behaving in ways that our neighbors dislike even though the neighbors are not significantly harmed by that behavior.
As he also points out, the one Constitutional Amendment which was motivated by social engineering was that which brought about Prohibition:
The 18th Amendment was distinctive for two reasons. It was the first Amendment ever ratified which effectively destroyed more liberty than it created, to satisfy the social conscience of a particular group. It didn't actually create or protect any liberty to speak of. Its sole purpose was to destroy liberty and to keep people from doing what they wanted.
Its other distinction is that it is the only Amendment that's ever been repealed. The experiment with Prohibition was a spectacular failure. It was ratified in 1919, and 1933 it was repealed by the 21st Amendment.
He's too polite to point out that this particular amendment was part of the legacy of the organized women's suffrage and rights movement from its beginnings as the Women's Temperance Christian Union.
Meanwhile, in Curtains for gay rights? Classical Values questions why the number of Americans supporting legal homosexual relations has dropped since the Lawrence v. Texas decision and provides an interesting answer:
Forget logic, and forget facts. Americans simply do not like being told from above what to think, and what laws they may not have. While getting rid of sodomy laws was certainly the right thing to do, there is nonetheless something undignified about the Supreme Court simply issuing decrees as an end run around popular prejudices -- regardless of how indefensible those prejudices are.
This apparent fickleness, in my view, reveals an indelible feature of the American character -- a contrarian spirit which can be both damnable and laudable. [...]
He got me right in the old rebelliousness solar plexus. His point about contrariness in the face of Pronouncements from On High does resonate in that part of me that forces me to be honest. The damned shoe fits.
So I'm slowly but surely coming around to supporting gay marriage.
The fact is, I really can't come up with any good arguments against it. History, religion and what we consider societal norms are not good arguments to bring to a discussion about human rights, but one undeniable fact is that homosexuality has been around since early recorded history and earlier societies did not always condemn homosexual unions although it's never been recorded that these unions were formalized as marriages.
UPDATE: Paul weighs in with some thoughtful comments straight from his heart.
Mark "Why doesn't he have a column in a Canadian newspaper" Steyn has a couple of offerings for this holiday weekend in the Chicago Sun-Times America's new school segregation in which he takes on the "Celebrate yourself" philosophy that passes for education these days, and in the Daily Telegraph (UK) Thomas the Tank Engine could teach J-Lo about sex where he offers his thoughts on the much panned film "Gigli."
A fact of no real importance is that I'm not the only dork: "a friend" of Mark's (sure) had also thought it was a male-centered remake of the musical "Gigi".
Aug. 3 -- Bob Runciman, Ontario's Minister of Public Safety and Security, has been in the news a lot lately pushing the Canadian Feds to do what it takes to make Canada a safer country. The Canadian has had several posts on his efforts including a joint demand from Runciman and Toronto Police Chief Fantino that the Feds provide the information necessary to track down some very dangerous illegal immigrants (Liberals 'protect' war-crimes fugitives) and some insightful observtions as the Unoffical race for Eves' job starts. (A quick Google search revealed over 60 pages of links to Runciman's impressive years of service to Ontario.)
Maybe we are too quick to bewail the lack of Canadian leadership; there are some very impressive people at the Ontario provincial level, including Tony Clement who showed outstanding initiative during the SARS scare when the Feds fell down, so even if there is a deplorable lack at the federal level it's inaccurate to assume that Canada as a whole lacks people with vision and guts (I'm not including MPPs from other provinces because that it up to the judgement of those who live there.)
The need for democratic institutions to begin at local levels and work their way up is a policy which is being applied in Iraq, where the most effective bodies have been local representative councils.
In Toronto we have a strange alignment of forces. The Ontario government is sandwiched between the hapless Toronto City Council and the useless Federal Government but manages to get the job done, intervene, or at least squawk loudly when either Toronto or the Feds don't meet their obligations (which does not mean that I'm letting the province off the hook for forcing us Etobians to amalgamate with Toronto.)
The Canadian premiers' July conference which resolved to bypass Ottawa in dealing with the US may be having repercussions beyond mere trade issues and may have encouraged provincial govenments to take the lead in other issues rather than wait for the Feds to do, well, little or nothing (note the Fed reactions to the Mad Cow crisis, the SARS outbreak, and their insulting offers of compensation for expenses incurred during the SARS crisis and to ranchers as Canadian beef continues to be banned in several countries.)
Provinces are begining to show initiative in revolting to Federally-imposed same-sex marriages, refusing to enforce the gun registry, and the recent pressure being applied to federal agencies to provide them with the information needed to ensure the safety of Canadians.
As Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald point out (link from here) widespread frustration with the Federal government is actually achieving a unity among Canadians and their provinces that has long been lacking but is definitely needed.
UPDATE: News Junkie Canada calls Runciman and Fantino heroes, and rightly so.
Aug. 3 -- From Right On! is a link to confirmation by a legal expert that filesharing in Canada is legal so Swap your brains out. This opinion is based on an interpretation of the tax-grab-disguised-as-a-levy imposed on all blank audio recording media including writable CDs (which are also used for computer back-ups, which shows how unfair the levy is.)
(This levy is supposed to represent "royalties" collected on behalf of Canadian artists, although how much you download from Canadian artists remains a secret between you and your Shared Files folder.)
Meanwhile, Jay Currie in his Aug. 2 post RIAA blow back (permalink not working) has some very encouraging news which weakens the RIAA threat to go through the ISPs to target individuals who make large folders available for sharing.
UPDATE: Jay Currie continues his analysis of file-sharing legalities in Canada and the RIAA's desperate measure with an Aug. 3 post "Not in Canada you Say, Pity":
It is, all in all, a pretty ill concieved legal strategy and the very last gasp of an industry mired in its own irrelevance.
Heh. What he said.
Aug 3 -- Remember the car bomb in Beirut that reportedly killed a driver employed by the Iranian embassy yesterday? Well, like most first accounts, this one was a bit off: Hezbollah official killed in bombing.
A two-kilogram bomb placed in the car's back seat detonated after he switched on the ignition and drove about 100 metres, the officials said.
[Officials] ... said Saleh, whose body was mutilated and charred by the explosion, was headed to the Iranian Embassy, where he reportedly worked. But a statement issued by the Iranian Embassy in Beirut said Saleh had never worked at the embassy and was not connected to it in any way.
Hezbollah issued a terse statement acknowledging that Saleh, 42, was one of its members. It did not give his rank, saying only that he was married with six children. Lebanese security officials confirmed Saleh was a Hezbollah security official.
In a later statement, Hezbollah said Saleh, who joined the militant group in 1982, had participated in several "jihad operations" against Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon.
Given the lack of evidence, condemnation was immediately heaped onto Israel by Hezbollah and the Syrian-run Lebanese government and their statements were obediently run on al Jazeera, that reputable, objective news agency based in Qatar.
Of course, Israel is only one suspect. A better suspect might be Iran, who is a major backer of Hezbollah yet denied any connection with the dead terrorist. Seeing as the bomb was in the back seat and Saleh got 100 yards before the bomb went off, it is even possible that he was a victim of his own, prematurely detonated bomb (I suggest that mainly because I get such a warm, tingly feeling when it happens.)
On June 3, a bomb exploded in an ambulance belonging to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel, seriously wounding its driver.
The ambulance belonged to one of Hezbollah's many humanitarian wings, no doubt.
Aug. 3 -- I never get tired of Logic North Korean-style: Nuke discussions could be 'prelude to war'.
But North Korea is not referring to their recent announcement that they will participate in multi-lateral talks but to an attempt to bring NK's nuclear weapon's program to the attention of the UNSC. Sheesh, that really shows the disconnect between the East and the West. To some, bringing this up at the UNSC guarantees endless talk, flowery speeches and a determination to do nothing that might resemble action.
"The U.S. intention to bring up the nuclear issue . . . at the UN at any cost is a grave criminal act to hamstring" North Korea's efforts for dialogue, the official KCNA news agency said.
What was that line from the French ambassador in the SNL skit after Secy. of State Powell's presentation? "Gentlemen, I propose we do nothing and do it as quickly as possible."
Maybe the US should offer to relax trade restrictions on Saturday Night Live broadcasts as a means of enhancing understanding between the Orient and Occident.
Aug. 3 -- Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald says what many of us were thinking during CNN's tear-driven interview with Saddam's daughters in Oh, how they soon forget.
This from the Sun (UK) Taxes raised 60 times under Blair.
TONY Blair was last night accused of clobbering Britons with 60 tax rises in six years — as he becomes Labour’s longest continuous serving PM.
Mr Blair has today been in power for six years and 93 days — a day longer than famous post-war PM Clement Attlee.
Is anyone keeping track of how often the Canadian Liberal party has raised taxes during their tenure? Can the fact that the feds reduced transfers to the provines be factored into the figure?
Mr Howard added: “Despite the back-slapping, a million people remain stuck on hospital waiting lists, a third of 11-year-olds leave primary school unable to read, write or count properly, and our transport system is in gridlock.”
This really is about the UK, not Canada, however familiar it may seem.
Good article from Australia: claims that Saddam got rid of WMDs.
A CLOSE aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a US invasion.
Had he proven he had gotten rid of the WMD, of course, the grounds for invasion would have melted as he would have been in compliance with UN resolution 1441.
The strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world, while countries such as France and Russia were wary of joining an American-led attack.
The official was not part of the national leadership but his job provided him daily contact with the dictator and insight into the regime's decision-making process during the past decade and in its critical final days.
But Saddam remained convinced that an ambiguous stance about the status of Iraq's weapons programs would deter an American attack.
"He repeatedly told me: 'These foreigners, they only respect strength, they must be made to believe we are strong'," the aide said.
Interesting, well-balanced article. There had been suggestions that, when his use of WMD during the war failed to materialize, it might be because Saddam knew he couldn't win a military war so decided to achieve a political victory (probably with hopes of remaining in power as he had done after Gulf War I.)
Although the claim that the WMD had been destroyed was made while the UN inspectors were still in Iraq, repeated requests for records and evidence of the destruction were denied, and there have been no reports by the teams combing Iraq for WMD that they have come across records or evidence of the same.
An interesting implication for our current difficulties with North Korea: I think most of us have wondered if the current regime there might be exaggerating or even bluffing, but if they are, they might want to remember what happens when someone with more chips and better cards calls that bluff.
>From Australian news, Iran detains al-Qaeda No.3 Saif-al-Adel who is thought to have organized the recent bombing in Riyadh and to have played a part of the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Sources say the Iranians are also holding Al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Gaith, OBL's son Saad, and OBL aide Abu Masab al-Zarwaqi.
Iran reportedly wants to exchange the al Qaeda members for members of Mujahideen Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, who were captured by US forces in Iraq.
As someone who fishes from a canoe, I kind of like this: Booze cruisers may be sunk.
GRAVENHURST -- Drinking and boating could soon mean losing the right to drive a car, Premier Ernie Eves said yesterday. Eves vowed that his government will introduce legislation that would punish drunk boaters with the same penalties as drunk drivers -- notably, licence suspensions. He also promised to extend the boating penalties to already promised Tory legislation to permanently yank the licences of repeat drunk drivers.
Eves acknowledged that boating licences are a federal issue, but said the province can still hit scofflaws where it hurts once they reach land.
I like the implication: the provincial government will find loopholes to enforce boating safety because the Canadian government is too wimpy to do so. Just my opinion.
"They may have a (boating) licence but they won't be able to get to their boat very easily if they're walking," he said.
Take that, you freaking drunken power boaters who race past canoes and rowboats laughing and guffawing, cutting fishing lines and leaving the unpowered bobbling helpless in your wakes.
The drive-by pellet gun shooting of a 5-year old in Toronto last month has sparked two different responses: some want to ban pellet guns, and others say the perpetrators should be charged to the full extent of the law because they were old enough to know what they were doing.
>From the Toronto Sun Jail 'em, kids say:
Relatives of a boy shot with a high-powered pellet gun protested outside Old City Hall before an emotionally charged bail hearing for an 18-year-old accused in the drive-by shooting spree. Jake Mercure and Stephen Collins, both 18, are charged with aggravated assault, discharging a firearm and carrying dangerous weapons.
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faces the same charges.
Mercure was denied bail and relatives of five-year-old Kadin Kendall said Collins should also stay in jail until he is tried for the July 13 shooting.
Justice of the Peace Teresa Jewitt glanced over at him numerous times during the proceedings. A publication ban prevents the reporting of any evidence heard during the hearing.
Many of Collins' family, who were also in court, were visibly upset as they left the courthouse.
The bail hearing continues on Aug. 11.
Another publication ban? Sigh.
Today's Sun also has a story warning about a new danger: Yank Yo-Yo, Parents Told which contains an advisory by Health Canada to dispose of Yo-Yos after an Alberta boy was nearly strangled when the cord wrapped around his neck. (Interestingly, the age of the child is not given which makes me wonder if the toy was age appropriate for him.)
It is such a relief that the people who royally screwed up their response to SARS leaving Toronto devastated is keenly on this case:
"We recommend consumers destroy them if they have them in their possession," [Health Canada media relations officer Carole] Saindon said. "So the message is clear that it's not a welcomed product for sale in this country."
Right On! We'll take terrorists and sexual predators who are refugees fleeing some well deserved justice but KEEP THOSE FILTHY YO-YOS OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!
Where does the government find these idiots? and why do they hire them? Ban pellet guns and yo-yos, skipping ropes, and swings and slides, and for heaven's sake don't let your kids run because they might fall down and get a boo-boo.
We always come to this crossroads: raise our kids to be responsible adults who have to take their medicine when they screw up, or pass ridiculous laws for every eventuality and make them permanent wards of the nanny state.
Aug. 1 - According to this, Calgarian Bruce Balfour will face a military court in Lebanon Aug. 11 on a charge of collaborating with an enemy state, namely Israel, because he had once visited there. (The article also thinks it was Mr. Balfour's fault because he "knew" the rules.)
The Cedars of Lebanon website has a useful compendium of articles from Canadian newspapers on Mr. Balfour's detention (scanned, unfortunately, so no links). It seems that the Lebanese were waiting for Mr. Balfour to arrive because they had prior knowledge he had visited Israel before.
It has been confirmed that the Lebanese government never informed the Canadian Embassy of the arrest.
Reynald Doiron, spokesman for Foreign Affairs, said he couldn't discuss the charge until the Embassy in Beirut receives a written copy of the it from the Lebanese prosecutor (which was to be delivered by today.)
The website has posted the charge against Mr. Balfour which was directed to the Beirut Canadian Embassy July 30: a petition for arrest was filed March 24, he was arrested in absentia on April 2, an Accusation Act was filed April 15, and he was arrested upon his arrival at the Beirut airport July 10.
Encouragingly, The RCPL, a Lebanese-Canadian organization, has gotten involved and sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Min. Bill Graham:
This letter was addressed to the Canadian Minister of Foreign affairs M. Bill Graham to ask him to intervene more efficiently to liberate a Canadian citizen illegally arrested in Lebanon.
As CA MP Stockwell Day pointed out, Canada pledged $7 million toward the expenses of the recent Francophone summit held in Lebanon.
Would expressing Canadian disapproval of the detention of Mr. Balfour by withholding the money be considered acceptable in the exercise of soft diplomacy?
Aug. 1 - I guess it was inevitable that the weirdness that passes for the Canadian government would finally be noticed by the Blogfather. In From the "Well, Duh" Department, Glenn Reynolds noticed that the burial of Zahra Kazemi generated a bigger diplomatic storm from the goofs in Ottawa than her murder.
He then links to an article about Chretien's efforts to free Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar. This is so very depressing.
Actually, it's a good thing he doesn't know the half of it. Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son, deserves most of the credit for his tireless efforts to obtain justice for his mother despite attempts by "Screeching" Bill Graham (TM Paul) to shut him up.
What is happening with the cases of Canadians Bruce Balfour, who is now in jail in Lebanon, and Bill Sampson, who's under a death sentence in a Saudi jail? They aren't generating a diplomatic breeze much less a storm.
A new article by Salem Pax in the Guardian (UK) Baghdad Blogger and some observations about Tikrit, what to do with the bodies of Udai and Kusai, and a enterprise called "The Cafe Demonstration."
Another from the Daily Telegraph (UK) to put in the "no surprises here" file: Listeners desert Cox in droves as Radio 1 hits a record low.
The number of listeners tuning into BBC Radio 1 has slumped to its lowest level in the history of the station, new figures showed yesterday.
Radio 4, whose Today programme is at the centre of the row over the "sexed up" Iraq dossier, has also had a disappointing quarter, dropping 339,000 listeners since March.
Let me see, what happened in March that could have affected the British public so? Oh right, the War in Iraq began and the BBC's coverage was, to say the least, not very supportive.
"We make no excuses. We need to work out how to arrest the decline," he said. "Things have moved on since the early 90s when there were only a couple of stations around. Now there is more choice and audiences tend to fragment."
Is that BBC-speak for "when we lost our monopoly we lost our captive audience" or "only the far-left think we're relevant"?
Overall the BBC's national and local stations saw their overall share of the British audience drop by 0.5 per cent to 53 per cent.
Read the article. Even the BBC's dedicated sports and news channel lost viewers. Now that's harsh.
>From the Daily Telegraph (UK) Disaster for tourism as US visitors shun Paris.
Tell me, why would any rational American want to go to a friendly country when they can go to France and get insulted? Tsk, tsk.
Millions of foreign tourists are shunning France this summer, costing the country billions of pounds and threatening its position as the world's favourite destination.
Travel agents say there is widespread evidence that the tourist industry is suffering as a result of President Jacques Chirac's vehement stand against the war in Iraq. The strong euro has added to the crisis.
Uh, no. Vehemence is not the problem. Does the phrase "we can disagree without being disagreeable" ring a bell?
Funny how gross insults, vandalising war memorials, and comparing President Bush to Hitler can get under some people's skin, not to mention being accused of being simple-minded warmongers who murder Iraqi babies while French companies make huge profits off the scandalous Oil-for-Palaces program and their favourite oil company makes a sweetheart exploitation deal with Saddam. All done as a sterling example of European enlightenment, of course.
According to the president of France's travel agents' union, Cesar Balderacchi, bookings from the United States in the past six months were 50 per cent down on last year, with no sign of improvement as the tourist season reaches its peak. British visitor numbers have fallen by around 10 per cent. (Emphasis added)
"After the Iraq crisis, many American tour operators just airbrushed France out of their brochures. Instead of offering a tour including Britain, France and Italy, say, we are now replaced by Spain," said M Balderacchi.
It's not like we airbrushed France off the map altogether, and, as it isn't on the list of "don't go there" countries on my passport, I think we can safely say that the destinations of American tourists reflects personal choice.
A brief tour of the centre of Paris yesterday confirmed his fears, with not a busload of camera-wielding Americans or Japanese to be seen. (Emphasis added)
So now Americans, British, and Japanese tourists are avoiding France.
"Where have all the Americans gone?" asked a gloomy waiter in a cafe next to Notre Dame.
Oh yeah, topic. Although there is some merit to looking at the state of the dollar against the euro, a further snip of the article holds another clue to this shocking state of affairs:
In an editorial this week the newspaper LibÃ©ration said the strength of anti-French sentiment across the Atlantic had been underestimated. "Convinced that the peace of the brave begins at the table, the French never really believed the Americans would fall out of love with them," it said. (Emphasis added)
Anti-French sentiment? and I'm not even going to bother commenting on the bolded section of that quote. Nope. Too damned easy.
To add to the tourist trade's woes, even the French are staying at home. According to a report published yesterday by the national tourist board, only half are taking breaks this summer and for shorter periods. Until recently, virtually the whole of France was on holiday in August. (Emphasis added)
Until recently, virtually the whole of France was at a dead stop when the transport workers et al. went on strike. Just sayin'.
>From Australia: N Korea agrees to six-way talks.
Japanese leaders welcomed signs that North Korea was finally showing flexibilty while South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Sun-Heung said that months of tough diplomacy may finally be paying off.
Sheesh, you'd think the anti-war movement would be congratulating the USA on the multi-lateral nature of our confrontation with North Korea! (Of course that was sarcasm.)
The good news is that ANSWER won't get much mileage on this issue because California is definitely one place where there won't be any groundswell of support for a "Hands off North Korea" movement. A lot of the anti-Iraq war sentiment in California came about because folks there are more nervous about North Korea than Islamic terrorism, and even the Dems have to tread softly because NK is the big chink in the Clinton armour.
I am suddenly very curious as to what was really discussed in a recent meeting (see Paul's post) between RoK military and Canadian defense officials.
I'm hoping the USA was thoroughly trashed and the trash-talk got back to NK, because I want them to know just how arrogant, bad-assed, insensitive, religious, gun totin', uneducated and unreasonable we really are. Heh. Let's make that bad rep work for us (not that I really advocate we Nuke The Moon.)
>From the Toronto Sun Rallies planned to push Holly's Law.
Holly's Law, in case you haven't signed the online petition yet at the Holly's Law website is a common sense initiative to pass a law that would not allow sexual offenders to be released into the community until they have received treatment and are no longer considered a threat. From the call to rally on the Holly's Law website:
As parents, we do what we can to alert and protect our children. Police do what they can to rid the streets of these predators. But the law, and the courts that interpret that law, often undo that work. And that is why we will gather August 11 across the country in a united stand.
Exactly. On the one hand there is massive hand-wringing because kids aren't playing outdoors, and on the other the misnamed Corrections boards are send these sick predators back onto our communities and making parks and streets unsafe.
Rallies are planned for 13 cities across Canada, so go to that website and mark your calendars. (Heh, I'm not going to post the info here because this is definitely one website that deserves your visit.)
Once again Canadians will be diverted from examining Canadian issues by being given a chance to scream about a US security measure. From the Toronto Sun Computer will profile visitors to U.S..
"It seeks to keep terrorists off commercial aircraft," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday in a release. "It will also flag violent criminals with outstanding federal or state arrest warrants." (Emphasis added)
They don't already check for outstanding arrest warrants before letting you through immigration? (Maybe my priorites are skewed because that paragraph really leapt out at me.)
Mark my words, just as President Bush's comments on gay marriage in the US are being given more coverage in Canada than comments by Canadian MPs on the same subject, the issue of Canadian security will be shoved under the rug while the goofs in the media scream about this latest US security measure.
I need to configure a meter which can measure how poorly a Canadian issue is being handled by the amount of anti-Americanism used to try to generate support for or against it.
>From the Toronto Sun Liberia peace force set to arrive which I hope is good news:
MONROVIA, Liberia -- West African leaders promised yesterday to send in peace troops by Monday and said President Charles Taylor would leave three days later. The leaders, meeting in Ghana, agreed to send a vanguard of 1,500 peacekeepers, expected to be two battalions from Nigeria. Ghana, Mali, Benin, Senegal and Togo also have promised 3,250 soldiers for an eventual 5,000-strong force.
But there's also this:
It was not clear whether Taylor himself had agreed to the leaders' announcement.
Of course it's not clear! Sorry, but I still think it's a major trap for the US to intervene unless as back-up for a West African coalition, and the rumoured links between Taylor and al Qaeda don't ease my concerns. The more the UN, the liberal media and Dem push the more uneasy I feel because their track record sucks.
Who was it that said that liberals only want the US to wage wars that can't be won? (No, really, someone did say that! I can't remember who, but dollars to donuts it was a blogger.)
No surprise here: from the Toronto Sun Gun advice ignored: MP.
OTTAWA -- A Canadian Alliance MP and gun registry watchdog says the federal justice minister blatantly ignored warnings and advice from his own advisory group set up to help guide the billion-dollar program. Documents obtained by Saskatchewan MP Garry Breitkreuz under the Access to Information Act show the User Group on Firearms made 11 recommendations to Martin Cauchon on Feb. 4, 2003, including one to decriminalize the possession of unregistered firearms by a licensed owner.
The group also warned the minister to delay mandatory registration last December, suggesting the program's credibility was at risk because it would encourage an underground market and would not be enforced by police.
But never fear, official policy remains in a state of denial (which in this case means they are denying an opportunity to tell the truth):
[Aid to Justice Minister Cauchon, Mike] Murphy said it's time for the Canadian Alliance to "turn the page" on the gun control issue and recognize that gains have been made in keeping streets safe.
I don't suppose he'd care to elaborate on those gains? Maybe he should take notice of how indencently unsafe Toronto streets are these days and notice that the violence is, indeed, fueled by an underground market in firearms.
As we've seen from the Tony Martin case in the UK, the only ones who've gained by gun registries are the burglars and other criminals who can now get protection and compensation from their victims by the state . (Link here if you aren't familiar with the Martin case.)