November 30, 2003

Toronto Affairs

Nov. 30 - Interested-Participant posts on the controversy over Toronto shipping our garbage to Michigan. According to the article he links from the Toronto Star, the EPA will be in Toronto to for three days touring solid waste transfer, composting and recycling facilities in Toronto, as well as in York, Durham and Peel regions. I could have saved them the trip: they'll find mountains of recyleables with no place to go because no companies are equipped to handle that much metal, glass and paper.

The program for recollecting the items was begun before a plan was made to re-direct the items. The blue box program is around 10 years old, and they still don't have a workable plan. That's how things work in Toronto.

Sadly, it is more likely that the US Congress will act long before the City Council here finishes "reviewing" the issue. The feckless Council doesn't want to take the kind of decisive action needed to find a Toronto solution to a Toronto problem, and their past actions have been to hope the problem would just go away.

The garbage issue was a point of debate in the recent mayoral race, of course. Failed canadidate John Tory had proposed building a garbage incinerator, which newly elected Mayor David Miller had rejected as too expensive and environmentally dangerous, but had no counter proposals. The paranoid faction won, even though other municipalities have incinerators with built-in safeguards that make the practice safer and cleaner than any other method of disposal.

Mississauga, our neighbour immediately to the west of here, incincerates their garbage. But they also have a strong mayor and council. Considering how fast that city has grown, you have to figure that there are more sensible people leaving Toronto than staying.

In an earlier post which featured an astonishing discovery of mixing hospital waste with garbage, Interested Participant wondered if Canadian environmentalists are of the NIMBY variety. I can affirm that they are, at least the ones in this neck of the country.

BUT anyone who reads the London Free Press will have noted columnists and letters to the editor which complain about the truckloads that merely pass that city on their way to Michigan, so in this case, at least, the NIMBY element isn't just directed at the US but within Canada as well.

Posted by Debbye at 09:08 PM | Comments (1)

Entertaining the troops

Nov. 30 - Oliver North has been travelling in Iraq with the Army's 4th ID. He has a bit more insight than Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks or Sean Penn, and talks about celebrities that are entertaining the troops over there.

I've never been a Wayne Newton fan, but the fact that his music isn't my kind of music is irrelevant because he's my kind of American:

Two years ago, "Mr. Las Vegas" was named the chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle. I asked him how he recruits other performers to join him. "Like everything else, Colonel," said Newton, "there are those that run for the woods when times get a little tough and those that pick up the phone and say, "Hey, you're going, count me in.' Those are the kind of people we have."
We can count Gary Sinise as the kind who rises to the call during tough times, because he's one
who this year has been to Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Italy, Germany and Fort Stewart, Ga. Now he's back in Iraq, spending his Thanksgiving vacation shaking hands and talking with the 5,000 soldiers and Marines at one of the USO-sponsored events.
I never really got behind the calls to "Boycott Hollywood" (mostly because I've watched Celebrity Jeopardy) but this goes to show that the ones who make headlines are not quite as representative as the press makes them appear.

Besides, the recent California recall put numbers to those who care what celebrities think and those who think for themselves, and we know which side is the majority even in my goofy but still beloved home state.

Posted by Debbye at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)

Building a police force

Nov. 30 - This information brings to mind concerns recently expressed by Roger L. Simon about where the money is coming from to finance the terrorism in Iraq:

A price has been put on the head of the senior British policeman seconded to supervise the restoration of law and order in Iraq by loyalists of Saddam Hussein.

Douglas Brand, a South Yorkshire assistant chief constable who is in charge of retraining the Iraqi police, has discovered that former members of the deposed dictator's Ba'athist regime have issued a contract to "do him harm".

Mr Brand, 52, said that the news was broken to him by the mayor of an Iraqi city in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" north-west of Baghdad during a recent visit to his offices at the coalition HQ in the Iraqi capital.

"The first thing the mayor said was, 'I know who you are. There are people who want to harm you'. I asked him what he meant and he said, 'People will be paid money to do so'. I wasn't quite sure if he was warning me or threatening me."

During an interview last week, Mr Brand said that such threats were becoming a daily hazard for senior coalition staff and the Iraqis who work with them. Estimates of the going rate for a successful "hit" are thought to be between $5,000 and $10,000 (£2,900-£5,800). Mr Brand, who is based in Sheffield but moved to Baghdad in July, said that 15 senior Iraqi policemen had been assassinated since he began work.

Mr Brand will remain in Baghdad to oversee what the coalition hopes will be the transformation of a demoralised, corrupt and widely hated police force into a modern security apparatus capable of tackling a front-line war on terrorism. As part of the world's biggest police training programme, up to 40,000 police officers have been recruited. The aim is for a further 35,000 to be trained up by the time the coalition cedes authority to a sovereign Iraqi government next summer.

In the meantime, car-bomb attacks and gun battles continue to claim the lives of his men almost daily: 30 have been killed and 75 injured in Baghdad alone since he arrived. Mr Brand, who has a masters degree in applied criminology from Cambridge, remains optimistic. "I always look to be positive, but actually I do think there are a lot of competent policemen out there. The absence of skill is because of a lack of opportunity.

"Last Monday, I went to a police station that was car-bombed a few weeks ago. You don't expect them to be doing cartwheels, but the commander just said, 'This is our job'. The police generally have a focus on what needs to be done and are courageous enough to go out and do it."

Some build, some destroy. It's that simple. Moral relativists who don't get that might try explaining it to Iraqis.

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Abdel Qadir Mamour

Nov. 30 - There's some background on a Senegalese cleric, Abdel Qadir Mamour, who was deported from Itay in mid-November Deported cleric 'met bin Laden' including his relationship with Osama bin Laden:

A SEBEGALESE (sic) Muslim cleric deported from Italy as a danger to state security was quoted today as telling a pan-Arab newspaper that he had met three times with Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The cleric, Abdel Qadir Mamour, told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview by telephone from Dakar, Senegal, that he had the meetings with bin Laden in Sudan from 1993 to 1996.

Mamour said bin Laden had provided money to finance his trading in diamonds between Africa and Belgium, but did not say how much money was involved or if bin Laden was involved in the business. (Emphasis added)


Mamour angered Italian authorities by saying in an earlier interview that Italian soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq would be attacked, as well as Italian diplomats, because Italy was aiding the US-led military presence. His statement followed the November 12 car bomb at the Italian barracks in Nasiriyah, Iraq, that killed 19 Italians.

In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Mamour said Italian authorities deported him because they found at his home some CD-ROMs contained the wills of four suicide attackers in a bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May.

Mamour was quoted as saying he got the tapes from a fundamentalist Muslim in London so they could be distributed in Europe, but did not name the man who sent the tapes.

Mamour claims his Italian wife and five children saved him from being sent to Guantanamo, and he was interrogated for four days by Senegalese authorities.

There has been speculation about a bin Laden connection with the diamond trade, and Belguim is right at the center of it.

No blood for diamonds will undoubtably be the next slogan pushed by the anti-war groups.

Posted by Debbye at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

Reconstruction in Iraq

Nov. 30 - With yesterday's deadly attacks on coalition members, it is important to remember that reconstruction in Iraq remains the focus. Australia is considering a plan to deploy troops, including members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), to Iraq to help rebuild the Iraq armed forces ( | Sailors head back to Iraq (December 1, 2003).)

AUSTRALIAN sailors will be deployed to Iraq to help rebuild a local navy that Coalition forces destroyed at the outset of the Iraqi war.

A plan being considered by the Federal Government will see a team of RAN personnel establish a naval school for Iraqi seamen.

The RAN team will be in addition to a proposal to have a joint US-Australian Defence Force contingent of soldiers to train a local army.

Defence Force chief General Peter Cosgrove said the troop numbers remained unknown since the plan was still being considered.

"If it does transpire, then we will send troops specially selected to do those sorts of jobs," he said yesterday.

"I don't think it will be a particularly large contingent . . . it will essentially be soldiers. If we get involved with training the new Iraqi navy, naturally some Royal Australian naval personnel would be involved as well.

"Iraq has a coastline and it will have a smallish navy, equally that's part of Iraq's future to be able to look after its sovereignty; it will look after its own maritime approaches."

Reconstruction, for us, means turning Iraq over to the Iraqis as soon as possible with the means to defend themselves.

Posted by Debbye at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2003

Two Spanish casualties in Iraq

Nov. 29 - Seven Spanish Intelligence Officers Killed, One Injured, in Iraq in coordinated attacks on their two vehicles. They were hit with RPGs and rifle fire outside of Al Mamudiya, 18 miles south of Baghdad after a mission.

Spokesmen for Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (search) said the government won't be intimidated nor deterred from its mission of attempting to help Iraq achieve peace and democracy following the long dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and the U.S.-led invasion last March that toppled it.

"We are grateful to all the people who serve Spain and Spain's democracy beyond our borders fighting terrorism and guaranteeing freedom and democracy," Justice Minister Jose Maria Michavila said.

There are 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq. A Spanish diplomat was assasinated in Baghdad in October, and a Spanish navy captain died of injuries sustained in the UN bombing last August.

President Bush called President Aznar to express our sympathies.

In another attack, two Japanese diplomats were ambushed and killed outside of Tikrit as they returned after attending a reconstruction aid conference.

CNN has a special page dedicated to coalition casualties. There have been 509 confirmed coalition deaths, 437 Americans, 53 British, 17 Italians, one Dane and one Polish, in the war as of November 28, 2003 (and thus don't include today's Spanish and Japanese deaths.)

When this campaign first began, Pres. Bush said that coalition members would contribute in many ways, and some would not even be contributing openly. But words are inadequte to express the gratitude of the American people for the sacrifices some of these countries have made in trying to stablilize Iraq and our sympathies to the families of these brave men and women.

Police in Germany and Italy have arrested 3 men on suspicion of terrorism related activities, but the situation may be connected to Iraq:

CNN's Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci said the arrests in Italy and Germany were "significant" because it had been thought that Italy had been used only for logistical purposes, such as a base for providing false documents or shelter.

But the authorities are now investigating the possibility that Italy is being used to recruit and train terrorists for Iraq and elsewhere.

In a related story, FOX reports that Iraqi police may have coordinated some of the attacks:
U.S. military officials are concerned that a few of the numerous Iraqi civilians hired by the U.S. military may have planned attacks by gleaning intelligence on troop movements and travels of high-ranking officers, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters at the Baghdad Convention Center.
UPDATE: Two US soldiers were killed and one wounded yesterday in an ambush near the border town of Husaybah, 180 miles northwest of Baghdad. They were from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Posted by Debbye at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - Time to

Nov. 29 - Time to cast votes in The Truth Laid Bear: The New Weblog Showcase. It tends to take me awhile, because if I like the entry, I also read other posts on the blog.

Let's start with Politics Trumps Morals from Joe's Thoughts A lot more people not only in the US but around the world need to consider his point, especially as Iraqis are being targeted too. After all, a sizeable segment of the anti-war folks (and most especially those human shields who lit out after it looked like it might really be dangerous) claimed they were concerned about the lives of the innocent Iraqis.

Next is An open letter to Michael Parenti written on the occasion of a speech delivered in Edmonton, and which has an interesting response to non-interventionist policies. Even though he considers the US the "most dangerous rogue state," falls back to the corporate elite mantra, and fails to address the inadequacy (which translates to unwillingness) of the rest of the world to stop genocides except to believe the USA should provide the fighting force and spill the blood that Enlightened Ones won't, Nathan at Counteractually Speaking is thinking beyond a typical knee jerk responses and that's always a good thing. There's also a link to Michael Parenti's response.

BaySense suggests we re-think the approach to the environment agenda. I agree with his goal: I support many of the goals of environmentalists, but do not support their methodology and political extremism. Like too many other good intentions, this is one that has been hi-jacked for political reasons and thus the goals have been to get politicans elected (or not elected) rather than achieve anything to do with the environment. It will be interesting to see how his blog proceeds.

Posted by Debbye at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - Another thoughtful

Nov. 29 - Another thoughtful post from One Hand Clapping, this one on the differences between the God of the Covenant and the God of Mohammed. It does seem that there are two different conceptions of God involved.

I know I'm behind on this post (and a lot of other ones.)

Guess who has to run off to work? I hope to check in later and read my favourite blogs with appropriate linkage.

Take care, and enjoy whatever weather you have. For us in Toronto, at least it stopped raining!

Posted by Debbye at 09:56 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 29 - It is

Nov. 29 - It is tempting to think the British government is trying to play both sides of the streets, yet equally tempting to think that the British believe they can alter the course for Europe from that set by the French, Belguim and German governments. But the secrecy is worrisome, probably more to the British people than to the US as people there ponder the leaked information that Britain in secret EU army deal.

Britain has taken a dramatic step towards a fully-fledged European army, signing up to Franco-German proposals for a planning headquarters outside Nato, it emerged yesterday.

The deal reached by British, German and French officials in secret talks in Berlin this week establishes an "operational" command in Brussels, allowing the EU to run day-to-day battlefield missions for the first time.

The news apparently leaked before the British government advised Pres. Bush of the move, but officials hint that the deal would be rewritten if the US was adamantly opposed.

I think that fears that this new army will replace NATO should also take into account that Turkey is a member of NATO but has not yet been granted membership in the EU, and the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey highlight the worries of that discrepancy.

And if the British people are adamantly opposed?

Drat, the Sun website is down. Maybe Mark Steyn will address this one soon.

UPDATE: The Sun is calling it a sell-out:

TONY Blair has been accused of betraying Britain’s defence by backing a new euro army military planning HQ.

The Tories slammed the move as “catastrophic” for the Nato alliance. The PM struck a deal with Germany and France to boost the European force.

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - From the

Nov. 29 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK), it seems the German press is growing a pair:

Germany's normally tame national newspapers mounted a co-ordinated attack yesterday on the growing practice of politicians and industry chiefs to alter or veto interviews they have given.

They denounced the habit as "control mania" verging on censorship.

Nine newspapers, including Frankfurter Allgemeine, Sueddeutsche, and Financial Times Deutschland, printed critical articles on the "authorisation" system. They said that while it had long been accepted and even welcomed by the media, it was being abused.

Sheesh, the White House website publication of President Bush's speeches include his verbal goofs rather than clean up any bloopers which is why it's credible.
A small Left-wing paper, tageszeitung, filled its front page with the text of an interview with Olaf Scholz, the Social Democrat Party's general secretary, with his answers blacked out.

It explained that Mr Scholz had refused to authorise it after his representatives demanded changes to what he had said and even to the questions asked.

Another fine example of how Europeans are more enlightened than us rubes.

Posted by Debbye at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - Aargh! Feds

Nov. 29 - Aargh! Feds to give health council the green light. Because when something is underfunded and doesn't work, the best way to fix it is to form yet another layer of bureaucracy and red tape which will eat up more money so it can still not work but at least the budget will show they're putting more money into health care.

Martin said the health council will be key in dealing with the problems of waiting lists for medical services and providing accountability of how health care dollars are spent. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said that he will not endorse the council unless its mandate is limited to programs, like pharmacare, home care and catastrophic drugs.
So is Alberta building a firewall or not?

Posted by Debbye at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - Trusty Peter

Nov. 29 - Trusty Peter Worthington. I know that if I get a certain huh feeling, Peter will often address that particular issue. Today's column addresses the way Canadian soldiers are honoured: Only the victims need apply for medals of bravery and valor.

He starts with the soldiers deployed in Afghanistan:

It's hard to escape the conclusion that soldiers the Canadian government chooses to honour are those who are killed or who are officers. It's not always been this way, but since Afghanistan that seems the case.

Prior to the four members of the Princess Pats being killed by an American "friendly-fire" bomb in Afghanistan, soldiers killed on various UN "peace" missions drew minimum reaction from Ottawa and small mention in the media.

It's different now, but for how long?

Indications are, for those who want to see it, that nasty times are ahead for Canadians on what started out as constabulary duties in Afghanistan.

Sad, true, and unaddressed. There's a freaking bounty on their heads, and plans to expand outside of Kabul will involve greater risks.
Ottawa's decision to allow the four soldiers killed by the American bomb to be awarded the U.S. Bronze Star -- the U.S.' fourth-highest valour award, which is given for meritorious service-- is a bit odd. And very political.

It's America's way of atoning for the tragedy.

It also degrades the Bronze Star, because these soldiers were merely victims.

Brave, simply by being soldiers, but hardly "heroes."

I agree with the charge that the awarding of the Bronze Star by the US government is politically motivated, and is an attempt to remove some of the sting Canadians still feel about the "friendly fire" incident (not death quotes there, but I feel the phrasing should never be part of the common venacular. Yes, it happens. No, it's never acceptable, as Gen. Pace pointed out some time ago in a DoD briefing.)

Snark time: the way the Canadian government treats the military, it is tempting to say that any Canadian who volunteers to serve is already performing above and beyond the call of duty. After all, doesn't it seem that the government actively discourages enlistment by their failure to appropriate the funds and equipment and thus respect for those who chose to serve? And if you're not bi-lingual, you won't be an officer.

Sgt. Robert Short, killed by a mine that blew up his Iltis jeep in Kabul, is to be posthumously awarded the Vance Award.

It's fair to say that all civilians and most soldiers haven't a clue what the Vance Award is.

(It's named after former army commander Lt. Gen. Jon Vance and goes to the sergeant who exhibits the greatest leadership qualities.)
Double-ouch. I've never heard of Lt. Gen. Jon Vance either. A quick poll reveals that neither Mark nor my college educated kids ever heard of him either. I've got a feeble excuse as I wasn't educated here, but the 4 men in this household were.

Peter then analyzes the recipients of the 26 Bronze Star, which leans heavily to non-combat soldiers, and notes that:

The five lowest honourees are the snipers who actually did feats that deserve medals.

One of the snipers --a guy from Newfoundland -- set a world sniping record when he knocked off an enemy attacking Americans at a range of some 2,400 metres -- roughly 1 1/2 miles -- with his .50- calibre rifle.

The snipers were attached to the U.S. Rakkasan brigade, in combat with the enemy.

When the American commander wanted to give these extraordinary snipers Bronze Stars in a battlefield ceremony, Ottawa balked -- too bellicose.

So someone who kills a sniper trying to kill fellow soldiers is too bellicose. Got it.
Canada gives awards for service and bravery, but few for combat, except a Mention in Dispatches.

When Ottawa put the medal to the snipers on hold, David Bercuson, director of the Centre of Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, wryly remarked: "Canadians don't kill ... the military is not sure that the government is prepared to accept -- let alone celebrate -- the fact that Canadian soldiers do sometimes end up killing people."

And that too is politically motivated.

Read the whole thing. I already excerpted more than I intended, but the attitude of the Canadian government towards awarding medals is puzzling and Peter goes into greater history and detail than I quoted.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Canadian troops are heavily involved in tightening security measures for the upcoming constitutional meeting. Thousands of people will be registering in the stadium for the loya jirga which will discuss the proposed constitution beginning Dec. 10.

Commanding officer of the Canadian contingent, Lt.-Col. Don Denne, said "It's been awfully quiet, almost too quiet."

"There have been threats of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and remote-controlled improvised explosive devices," Denne said.

"Every now and then we get a threat from a reliable source that we take very seriously."

Remember and honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - Cecilia Zhang

Nov. 29 - Cecilia Zhang is still missing, and despite a city-wide circulation of her picture there seems to be no information that would lead to her return. But people aren't giving up: Hire Performance Inc. has started a fund for Cecilia vowing to raise $60,000 by Dec. 23 to help bring her home. Farid Ahmad, president of the company, said he was prompted to begin this effort through discussions with clients who wanted to do something but didn't know what or how.

If the money is not claimed as a reward within a year, he said, it will be donated to Ontario Child Find and the Hospital for Sick Children.

Hire Performance, which does pre-employment checks for more than 200 clients, will donate 5% of all sales towards the fund, as well as encouraging its corporate customers to donate.

"The day we decided to do this, my son came into our bedroom and gave me $27.38 from his piggy bank," Ahmad said. "That really spurred me on even more."

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund should e-mail cecilia@hire or call 905-946-9696.

Who in this city doesn't ache over her disappearance? (Or maybe I should say in North America, because I've received emails from concerned people across this continent with Cecilia's picture and the hot line number.)

Props for Mr. Ahmad for becoming personally involved and for the good people who want do more.

The Toronto police page dedicated to Cecilia, the hotline phone numbers and her photo are here.

Posted by Debbye at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 29 - Officials in

Nov. 29 - Officials in Ankara, Turkey, say they have arrested a man they believe planned the bombing of the Beth Israel, one of the two simultaneous terrorist attacks on synagogues in Istanbul on Nov. 15. They received information that he was planning to cross the Turkey-Iran border with a forged passport, and he is believed to come from Agri in a Kurdish area of Turkey.

The 4 recent bombings in Turkey killed 61 people, (including the 4 Islamakazis) and injured 712.

Two men have been arrested for the synagogue bombings, Mesut Cabuk and Gokhan Elaltuntas.

The Fox report notes that Turkish authorities have imposed a news blackout on the investigations, but newspapers have largely defied the ban, printing a steady stream of reports about the ongoing investigation.

The CNN reports that the man was identified as the owner of the vehicle used for the bombing, and that six additional people were arrested.

Posted by Debbye at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2003

Nov. 28 - An essay

Nov. 28 - An essay from Chaos Central which must be read because all outcomes must be contemplated: Our Struggle.

Anyone else feeling a Tokienesque response to this? (The books including Silmarillion, not the movies!)

Although I'm not certain about his grounds for doubting victory, I firmly believe we will suffer more attacks on the homefronts and our resolve will continually be tested. Furthermore, fears that we (I include myself) still do not fully understand the nature of the enemy may remain our biggest weakness.

I am also certain of the path he advocates. We have no other.

UPDATE: I had forgotten a third option, but I consider Fortress America less an option and more like pulling the covers over our heads and hoping the bad guys go away. Besides, we tried that already when we attempted to stay out of WWII, and discovery of the death camps forced many Americans to consider the US delay in that war in an even worse light. I try not to do what ifs, but there's no doubt that had we gone in earlier, millions might have been saved.

On my reference to Prof. Tolkien'sworks, I hesitate to elaborate because I don't want to publish spoilers for the upcoming Return of the King and there are actually a large number of people who love the movies yet haven't read the books much less are aware of the tremendous amount of history which precedes the events of Middle Earth prior to the dawning of the Age of Man.

(Link via Ghost of a Flea.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 28 - Kabul --

Nov. 28 - Kabul -- In accordance with NATO urging, Canada is looking at establishing provincial reconstruction teams which will involve Canada remaining involved in Afghanistan after the mandate is scheduled to end next August.

Canada has almost 2,000 soldiers committed to peace and security efforts in Kabul. And while no one believes Canadian Forces will leave Afghanistan in August when their one-year mandate expires, Leslie said the numbers will have to be cut.

That's where provincial reconstruction teams come in.

Defence Minister John McCallum visited a U.S. reconstruction team last week in Gardez, near Kabul.

"We have not decided yet, but based on what I saw ... at Gardez, I think they have done a very good job in terms of reconstruction, notably schools and wells and other activities," McCallum said.

These plans put the committment of NATO (and Canada) far above that of the UN, which is pulling out aid workers in the parts of the country that need them most. Does the UN understand that packing up and leaving as a response to terrorism is outright capitulation? Of course they do. They just don't care.

Posted by Debbye at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 28 - Cultural evolution

Nov. 28 - Cultural evolution turns Mao into a party rapper.

In a desperate appeal to China's fashionable youth, the Chinese Communist Party has approved the repackaging of Mao Tse-tung as a rap artist.

Mao's favourite exhortation - the Two Musts - is to be set to music and released alongside pop versions of all the Great Helmsman's old slogans, such as The East is Red and Serve the People.

The rap album to honour the 110th anniversary of Mao's birth next month follows another record, A Red Sun, released to mark his centenary.

Hey, what about the Gang of Four? Don't they get any recognition?

Posted by Debbye at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 28 - Some excerpts

Nov. 28 - Some excerpts from an article in the Australian news Arafat's over 'billion-dollar stash':

Arafat is thought to have salted away between $US300 million and $US1.3 billion in bank accounts worldwide by allegedly plundering aid money sent to prop up the battered West Bank and Gaza economy.

Hoping to deflect mounting concern over PA corruption, Arafat appointed Salam Fayyad, a chain-smoking US-educated economist, to the post of finance minister last year.

Fayyad is winning rave reviews for his swift assault on the culture of corruption, revealing that Arafat had diverted about $US900 million from the crippled PA budget between 1995 and 2000 to a secret Arafat-controlled account managed by his loyal financial adviser, Mohammed Rachid.

An International Monetary Fund report in September, detailing PA financial mismanagement, was followed by more allegations in a US 60 Minutes TV report earlier this month. In an interview on that show, Fayyad said: "There is corruption out there, there is abuse, there's impropriety. That's what had to be fixed."

However, Fayyad can only dig where he's allowed to, according to Matthew Levitt, a former FBI analyst who tracks terrorism financing.

"Fayyad is really trying very hard in some cases to shame people into action," Levitt told The Weekend Australian. "However, (his) best efforts can only be successful as they pertain to the PA's funds. He has no jurisdiction over PLO funds, Fatah (Arafat's political party) funds or any funds that have been diverted to Yasser Arafat's (or his associates') personal accounts."

Arafat still pays the salaries of more security officers than he needs, including Palestinian naval police based in landlocked Hebron.

"The fact is Salam Fayyad does not have access to the vast majority of those funds," Levitt said. The renewed interest in Arafat's finances comes at a sensitive time for the Palestinians, who will present their 2004 budget at an international donors conference in Rome on December 12.

The West Bank war horse's image is not helped when publications such as Forbes magazine feature the 74-year-old prominently on its list of most wealthy "King, Queens and Despots".

Forbes calculates that Arafat, who comes in sixth behind Queen Elizabeth II, has a net worth of $US300billion. Some Israelis believe Arafat's personal wealth may be as much as $US11 billion, although in testimony to the Knesset last year Israel's chief of military intelligence Aharon Zeevi listed his personal assets at more than $US1.3 billion.

Washington's contribution to the PA this year is a relatively modest $US125 million, including $US20 million that, for the first time, was given directly to the PA instead of via contractors and non-government organisations. "I think we have made sure that US money is accounted for properly," Boucher said. According to Fayyad, Arafat was paying his security forces about $US20 million a month in cash.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 28 - Liberal MP

Nov. 28 - Liberal MP and former Toronto mayor Art Eggleton seems to make sense: Use gas tax for transit:

There's an "urban transit crisis" and a fuel tax should be used to fund improvements, former mayor and current Liberal MP Art Eggleton said yesterday. Eggleton, chairman of the federal Grits' GTA caucus, was speaking at the release of a union-funded report on subway expansion.

"There is an urban transit crisis and, in part, that's because there is a road crisis," Eggleton said. "I think the fuel tax should be used (to fund public transit)."

So is he talking about the fuel tax, or only part of the fuel tax? Or, worse, increasing the existing fuel tax?

Last week, the Toronto Transit Commission voted to approve a budget with no service cuts or fare hike in 2004 -- pending senior levels of government making up a $62-million shortfall.

The provincial Liberals promised 2 cents of the provincial gas tax for public transit in the fall campaign. But expanding the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Town Centre and the Spadina line to York University would require the equivalent funding of 5 cents a litre to cover the $3-billion cost over 16 years, the report said.

The subway report was prepared for the Universal Workers Union Local 183, which represents skilled workers across the GTA by Acres Management Consulting Ltd.

There is a letter to the editor in today's Toronto Sun from Paul Collett of Pickering who asks a very basic but as yet unanswered question:
THE LIBERALS plan on giving public transit a shot in arm with 2c from every litre of gas sold. Will this 2c come from the taxes already collected on every litre of gas, or will they increase the taxes by 2c to pay for this project?

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)

The (in)effectiveness of gun control

Nov. 28 - A report in today's Toronto Sun features a new study by The Fraser Institute on the effectiveness of restrictive firearm legislation in 3 Commonwealth countries: Australia, Canada and Great Britain, with results that are more devastating than even a could-be gun-totin' person like me would have thought probable.

To be honest, I chiefly oppose firearm regulation and registration on philosophical grounds: so long as I comply with the responsibilities that accompany ownership and use of a firearm, I see no reason to be restricted much less deprived of my inherent right to possess firearms. I'm pro-choice! It's not that I want to carry a gun, I just believe I have the right to choose.

This study casts that right in a different light which concludes that depriving law-abiding citizens of their rights has been accomplanied by an increase in violent crime, which was a reasonable, logical suspicion but until this report could not be proven based on actual fact. [Isn't it telling that private citizens are able to distinguish between proven and unproven yet a government cannot?]

Short version: If I am believed to be capable of defending myself, someone with ill intent is going to steer clear of me. If I am believed to be an easy target, I have just become potential prey.

That has always been a logical premise, and it seems it has been proven in the negative sense in that citizens of those Commonwealth countries studied which have restricted firearm possession have been victimized because they are indeed perceived to be incapable of defending themselves.

The report, The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales, can be read in .pdf format online. The Executive Summary on that page states that

The widely ignored key to evaluating firearm regulations is to examine trends in total violent crime, not just firearms crime. Since firearms are only a small fraction of criminal violence, the public would not be safer if the new law could reduce firearm violence but had no effect on total criminal violence.
Affirmation of the adage Never bring a knife to a gunfight.
The United States provides a valuable point of comparison for assessing crime rates because the criminal justice system there differs so drastically from those in Europe and the Commonwealth. Not only are criminal penalties typically more severe in the United States, often much more severe, but also conviction and incarceration rates are usually much higer. Perhaps the most striking difference is that qualified citizens in the United States can carry concealed handguns for self-defence. During the past few decades, more than 25 states in the United States passed laws allowing responsible citizens to carry concealed handguns. In 2003, there are 35 states where citizens can get such a permit.

The upshot is that violent crime rates, and homicide rates in particular, have been falling in the United States. The drop in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world.

So violent crimes committed with knives, for example, have also been reduced in the US because the Justice System heavily penalizes those who commit such crimes not because we're vicious, but because we regard such crimes as intolerable in a civilized society.

The US government and justice system are based on the philosophy of "Social Contract." Citizens have the right to bear arms for non-criminal purposes, and that right is counter-balanced with harsh penalties when the terms of that contract are broken.

This report has special significance for Toronto because there is a mini-controversy in which the Toronto Star claims that violent crimes are down, and takes issue with Police Chief Julian Fantino's call for a public inquiry over concerns that violent crime is up (Jack is all over this one, and News Junkie Canada brushes aside accusations of being too blunt (heh) and weighs in.)

The Fraser Institute's press release not only calls the legislations "a failure", but makes what many opponents of the registry cite as the main crititcism:

Disarming the public has not reduced criminal violence in any country examined in this study. In all these cases, disarming the public has been ineffective, expensive, and often counter productive. In all cases, the effort meant setting up expensive bureaucracies that produce no noticeable improvement to public safety or have made the situation worse. Mauser points to these trends in the countries he examined: [England and Wales, Australia, and Canada.] (Emphasis added)
Good old entrenched bureaucracy. Admitting the gun registry is useless and abandoning it would mean a reduction in civil service jobs, and for them, it is deemed better to continue making the same errors than admitting failure, right? We're talking about a special interest group that never shows it's true face. Who runs these countries anyway, the Parliaments or the civil service? In who's interests are these countries run, those in the civil service who want to protect their useless jobs, or citizens, who are entitled to to protect their lives?

If we were discussing a fad treatment which made claims not only that it cannot prove but can be demonstrated to be false, wouldn't the fraud squad be called in?

The press release on the report cites that in England and Wales,

Both Conservative and Labour governments have introduced restrictive firearms laws over the past 20 years; all handguns were banned in 1997.

Yet in the 1990s alone, the homicide rate jumped 50 percent, going from 10 per million in 1990 to 15 per million in 2000. While not yet as high as the US, in 2002 gun crime in England and Wales increased by 35 percent. This is the fourth consecutive year that gun crime has increased.

Police statistics show that violent crime in general has increased since the late 1980s and since 1996 has been more serious than in the United States.

They are very critical of the confiscation and destruction of legally owned firearms in Australia, citing it cost over $500 million and the police services bureaucracy including that which oversaw the registry increased by $200 million. Armed robberies, on the other hand, have increased 166% since restrictive legislation was introduced in 1997.

The release calls Canada's gun registry "a farce."

The contrast between the criminal violence rates in the United States and in Canada is dramatic. Over the past decade, the rate of violent crime in Canada has increased while in the United States the violent crime rate has plummeted. The homicide rate is dropping faster in the US than in Canada.

The Canadian experiment with firearm registration is becoming a farce says Mauser. The effort to register all firearms, which was originally claimed to cost only $2 million, has now been estimated by the Auditor General to top $1 billion. The final costs are unknown but, if the costs of enforcement are included, the total could easily reach $3 billion. (Emphasis added.)

“It is an illusion that gun bans protect the public. No law, no matter how restrictive, can protect us from people who decide to commit violent crimes. Maybe we should crack down on criminals rather than hunters and target shooters?” says Mauser.

Now my American dander is really up. I am not a victim. I am a human being, and I have the right and obligation to defend myself and mine.

Blame it on Sept. 11 if you wish, because the fact is that one of the legacies of that day was the extradordinary actions of the crew and passengers aboard Flight 93 and the decision of those ordinary citizens to act to defend their country, their familes and themselves.

We rambled along in the 90's thinking the government should do everything we were too lazy to do, and it was a huge mistake. The blinders are off, and we have to assert that we are willing to take responsibility for ourselves as free people, including our own self-defense.

UPDATE: This should really infuriate the weasels at the Toronto Star: Chief Fantino wants the 3 young murderers of a 12-year old tried in adult court. Their weapons of choice were knives and baseball bats, and it seems these young offenders had a hit list of between 13-15 additional targets.

Posted by Debbye at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2003

Nov. 27 - I started

Nov. 27 - I started crying when I read this: Bush makes secret Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq.

God bless you, Mr. President. Your visit to Iraq means that we are all there with the fine men and women who protect this country.

Best. Thanksgiving. Day. Ever.

UPDATE: Yes, I was a little emotional with this one, but I'm not apologizing. This was an extraordinary act by our President, and he did us all proud. He wasn't the only one with tears when the troops roared when they first saw him! I too was on my feet cheering and crying.

Canadians are somewhat bemused by the American attitude to Thanksgiving, and I'm not sure if I can even explain it. It has grown far away from an original celebration and thankfulness for the successful harvesting of crops and grown to thankfulness of another kind of harvest: family, friends, community and sharing.

But I stand by my original conclusion: as the troops couldn't be home with their families on Thanksgiving, it was right and proper that President Bush, as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, be with them representing the bigger American family.

I fear I will never be sophisticated enough discard emotion and sentimentality.

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

Sharia in Ontario

Nov. 27 - I'm really not sure what to make of this post about Sharia in Canada, or, more properly, in Ontario, from Damien Penny. Read the comments, too.

Although Damien doesn't think it is much of a problem because Ontario courts would still have the power to strike down any offensive decisions, I still wonder about the effect of having two tiers of civil arbitration structures. There's also the small matter of enforcement, which can involve the government should wages be garnisheed or seizure of property be deemed necessary.

As we have a Liberal government in Ontario now, I think any MPP who asked such questions would be treated in typical Liberal fashion: booed, accused of racism, and, in short, the questions wouldn't be addressed.

UPDATE: Jack comments and provides more information. I too didn't see anything about this meeting in the local media.

Posted by Debbye at 12:26 PM | Comments (1)

Clinton defends Chretien

Nov. 27 - Via Neale News, a National Post article Clinton defends Chretien and the decision for Canada not to support the US in Iraq. He explains that

Republican complaints that Canada, France and Mexico were soft on terrorism by refusing to join the war was unjustified and failed to take into account Chretien's strong belief in getting authorization from the United Nations, Clinton wrote.


Clinton praised Chretien as a valued friend, "whose intelligence, experience, common touch and common sense made him an extraordinarily effective leader."

Looks as though Clinton has learned to not publicly support people until they're out of office. Even he recognizes he's a curse!

More seriously, what binds Chretien to the UN? Maybe the fact that neither of them are required to be accountable? The ethical behaviour of Chretien and his Cabinet is of scandalous proportions up here, but there is no way to punish them unless Chretien choses to do so.

As for Chretien himself, we can write conflict of interest in huge honking letters whenever the names Bombardier and TotalFinaElf come up, but to no avail. The only ethics constraining Chretien are that which he places upon himself.

Roger L. Simon has a post that warms my cockles, demanding that the UN open the books and show where the money for the Oil-For-Food program went. As he points out, the funds required to maintain that vast police state and reward those who committed torture during Saddam's regime as well as the money now funding the terrorists in Iraq came from somewhere, and let's not forget the billions of dollars in both US currency and gold that were secured by US forces as attempts were made to smuggle same out of Iraq by the truckloads. (Be sure and read the comments, and link here for Gerard Van der Leun's devastating account of the French and Bonn banks' lending practices to any country known to be antagonistic toward the US.)

There is no legal requirement for the UN to account for the money it spends, and you don't have to be a genius to figure out that that guarantees corruption.

Accountability is the necessary partner for freedom, and, as an American citizen and Canadian taxpayer, I object to tax dollars being spent on any organization that doesn't have to account for that money.

Go Roger! As he points out, we have a right to know, as do the people of Iraq who were cheated out of food and critical medical supplies by the UN and Saddam.

UPDATE: Paul has some rather pointed comments about Bubba's defense of the PM in He just won't shut up . . .

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 27 - Alpha Patriot

Nov. 27 - Alpha Patriot has some interesting links regarding the effectiveness of the President's recent visit to England on the British media (AlphaPatriot: So Just How Did It Go In England?) which still begs the question: why didn't they figure this out earlier?

Don't get me wrong, I thought the Whitehall Speech was wonderful, but it really didn't break any new ground in terms of policy or resolve. As all the presidential speeches are available online, I guess it gets back to the laziness of journalists to do a bit of fact-checking and research.

Surely it can't be that they substitute wisecracks for actual reporting, can it?

Posted by Debbye at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 27 - The latest

Nov. 27 - The latest lie assignment from the Alliance is What will Evil Glenn be doing for Thanksgiving?

That one's easy. He'll be stuffing puppies. Into turkeys. Guess he wants to be known as Puppy Stuffer.

Posted by Debbye at 09:28 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 27 - This is

Nov. 27 - This is odd: Terror refugee ordered to go. Hasan Dhaifullah Alkuhali was denied refugee status based on his claim that his refusal to join a terrorist group in Yemen, the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (AAIA), caused him to flee for his life.

The AAIA is a bin Laden kidnap-for-ransom group whose members raise millions of dollars for its jihad in ransom paid to free kidnapped foreigners, police said.


"The board accepted the AAIA was a violent terrorist organization with international connections," Mr. Justice Edmond P. Blanchard said. He (Alkuhali) claimed the leader of the AAIA was Osama bin Laden."

Alkuhali said his troubles began in November 2000 after five heavily armed and masked men came to his home in Yemen to recruit him. He said the men offered him weapons, money and a car if he joined, but he refused and was given 24 hours to reconsider.

Alkuhali said he purchased a phony U.S. passport and a plane ticket, fled to Detroit and then to Windsor, where he made a refugee claim at the border.

Akuhali told the court he didn't contact Yemeni police about the threat because they were "corrupt and dangerous."

Blanchard said Alkuhali had an obligation to seek assistance in Yemen.


Posted by Debbye at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 27 - Peter Worthington

Nov. 27 - Peter Worthington delivers a smackdown to the Pulitizer Prize Committee for their decision to not rescind that prize for Walter Duranty's report on Stalin which lied about the engineered famine in the Ukraine which killed over 7 million people (Pulitzer's prize injustice.)

I guess that once you start, it's hard to quit being apologists for Stalin and communism.

Posted by Debbye at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 27 - To paraphrase

Nov. 27 - To paraphrase John Derringer, What A Bitch!

A woman appeared in Barrie court yesterday over a Sept. 13 incident involving road hockey: Rage rap over road hockey. She objected to kids playing street hockey, so got into our car and charged the net. The kids scattered onto nearby lawns and ran home terrified.

So the ball went into her yard several times. There was no damage to her precious grass.

The parents of the kids are standing foursquare behind them:

Parents yesterday said they were not only upset about the potential for injury but for the effect it's had on their children's ability to play Canada's beloved pastime.

"It's not only that it is a national sport," said one father, Sunil Mehra, "it's also that they were playing a game and having fun and being children. They were not out ransacking or in the shops causing trouble. These kids were terrified. They came running with tears in their eyes. It's a sad thing and none of us are feeling good about it."

Karen Seeley-Andrews made a brief appearance in Barrie court yesterday charged with dangerous driving and mischief by willfully destroying a goalie net. She is to be back in court Jan. 7.

There actually are people who can't stand the thought of kids playing (I've run into some of those sourpusses too often.) They object to the "noise" kids make.

Freaking cheerless uptight pursed-lips psychos. Sorry your childhood was so solitary. Like, maybe there's a reason the other kids didn't want to play with you?

Posted by Debbye at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 27 - They may

Nov. 27 - They may be a little late to the party, but what the heck? French Join In on Anti-France Bandwagon. According to the article, the French are snapping up books that question current French policy.

In the last few months, there have been a slew of books published in the country slamming French policy with titles that translate to: "The Arrogant French," "The French in Disarray," and "France in Free-Fall."

"France has a great obstructive power, destructive power and this is very dangerous for France itself," said Andre Glucksmann, author of "West Versus West."

Readers are snapping up books that question whether or not the policies of French president Jacques Chirac are hurting their homeland.

Considering that it was also reported that the French snap up books such as the one that purported to show the attacks on Sept. 11 were only Hollywood special effects, I'm not rushing out to purchase anything French.

So the French pay attention when it hurts their pocketbooks? Too f---ing bad.

Mmm, Australian wines.

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 27 - Sadly, this

Nov. 27 - Sadly, this is not a surprise: Kashmir: 8 dead in a series of attacks by terrorists.

The good news: 5 of the dead are suspected terrorists:

In Thursday's violence, a civilian was killed in Srinagar's main market when insurgents launched grenades at Indian paramilitary forces, but missed their target, police said.

They hit a group of bystanders, killing one and injuring 10.

Indian security forces were searching for the suspected militants responsible for the attack, which happened at 12:30 p.m. (0700 GMT). Srinagar is the summer capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

In the winter capital Jammu, three militants were killed in a gun battle with Indian security forces in Gool district.

Also in Jammu, a gun battle left two militants dead and an Indian paramilitary security officer seriously injured in Doda.

In central Kashmir, suspected militants burst into the house of an off-duty Indian police officer, and shot him dead.

Also, suspected militants in southern Kashmir gunned down a member of a plainclothes special police officer.

The 14-year insurgency in Indian-Kashmir has killed an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 people.

I shudder at those numbers, and CNN's numbers are lower than APs, which was over 68,000 dead. (That doesn't even include injuries.)

I think everyone knew the 2 day-old ceasefire would prove irresistable to those terrorists who are committed to murder, but it doesn't make the ceasefire any the less commendable. India is a long time ally of the US, and Pakistan has been impressive despite internal problems in helping in the war in Afghanistan and on al Qaeda.

True, there's a lot of history behind their current antagonism, but history can surprise us sometimes, and I keep hoping that the leadership of those two countries can resolve to put their very real differences on the back burner and focus on what is in their mutual self-interest: fighting terrorism.

Maybe some day we'll have a real Dept. of State and they'll work on such matters.

Aside: What the heck does CNN mean "suspected" militants? I think that once they've killed they've gone way, way beyond "suspicion." India has the bodies to prove it. Damn the media some more ...

Posted by Debbye at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2003

Nov. 25 - I found

Nov. 25 - I found Earthly Passions: A Puritan Idealism in Iraq just as blogger went down Monday night, but maybe it's just as well I wasn't able post on it then because it has provoked a lot of thinking and reflection as Thanksgiving approaches.

Every school child knows that the Pilgrims landed and made it through winter with the help of friendly Native Americans. They also know about the Mayflower Compact, but the hardships these early settlers endured aboard the Mayflower as they hammered out that statement are often underplayed.

The crucial partnership of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans of the Wampanoags enabled both to survive, and it becomes relevant again as Mark brings those early lessons into the present:

The Pilgrims heard "Welcome" from Samoset, Squanto, Massasoit, and the Wampanoag tribe. However, this welcome did not extend from all Native Americans. The Narragansett tribe and others proved to be a constant and deadly threat. The Plymouth colonists concentrated and benefited from their welcoming neighbors and were not swayed from their objective by those who proved hostile. Today we forget that many, if not most, Iraqis welcomed their liberators last March. But that's yesterday's headlines. What we read today are those fewer but more vocal and violent in Iraq who work their deadly deeds against American soldiers.

In the same way that the treaty with the Wampanoags did not encompass an agreement with all Native Americans and Englishmen, today's commitment to Iraq does not encompass all Iraqis. It does not, obviously, involve Baathists and foreign jihadists who would use terror to advance their cause. In 1621, there were also terrorists, sadly from both sides, who would use terrorist tactics to advance their cause. Other Native Americans, not of the Wampanoag tribe, would have unleashed their own terrorism to destroy either the Pilgrims or the Wampanoags. But together the Puritan settlers and Wampanoag tribe were able to defend themselves, when they might not have done so separately.

Likewise the new, fragile Iraqi democracy cannot survive without American and British assistance. But it also cannot survive only on the support of American and British troops. There must be a mutual commitment between Iraqis who will eventually take the lead in their own democracy and the leaders of the free world who lend their strength. "America only" fails on its own intrusiveness. "Iraqis only" fails on its own lack of military strength. Together they can forge a new alliance that will survive the never ending bombs from within Iraq and the barbs from without.

The next section is moral courage:
Idealism, common purpose, and a treaty forged out of necessity provided the strength for the Pilgrims to survive. But without moral courage they surely would have floundered.
I highly recommend you read the entire post.

Thanksgiving Day is when we unite with family and celebrate our gratitude for family, shelter, food, and our heritage of the Idealism of those Pilgrims who underwent enormous hardship and suffering in order to safeguard their religious views. That we remember the idealism is important, because this nation was founded on idealism, and much of who we are and what we have done stems from those ideals. One of those ideals is that all men and women yearn for freedom; the necessary other is that all men and women can behave responsibly and rationally.

The combination of the sober, industrious Puritans and the jaunty, younger sons who wanted to make their fortunes forged the early colonies and the necessity of compromise hammered us. The question of slavery was not settled when the nation was founded and required that the Civil War complete the task. It tempered us.

The Civil War also contributed a new song to Americans, "The Empty Chair," which sat empty in memory of the son, brother, husband or father who had died in that war. I doubt many Americans have even heard of it, but it will have a new poignancy for me tomorrow as I remember those young men and women we have sent to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For those of us who early on supported the action in Iraq, I think we already knew that, in some ways, the blood of those good soldiers who have fallen would be on our consciences, not because we doubted that the cause was just but because we knew we would owe a mighty debt to them and we needed to be worthy. Every day web logs renew our pledge to them that we would do what it takes on the homefront to see it through and ensure that their deaths were not wasted but would have meaning, and that new hope can and must be born for millions of people because of their sacrifices.

That is poor comfort for those away from home and those who miss them, but it's all we have. Hope and faith, honour and strength, courage and steadfastness. These are things we call upon to sustain us in times that try our souls. In past years, we have been able to get by without thinking much about those words, but no more. Now those words have been reclaimed for us and by us as our heritage. Our moral courage.

On Sept. 21, 2001, President Bush reminded us of who we are and what our nation represents as he spoke these words in his speech to the joint houses of Congress:

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage.
He concluded with words that have been uttered many times since:
We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail.
I think these good words, purposeful words that do not diminish the task we've set for ourselves but steel our resolve and steady our hearts for the trying times today and ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We have so much to be grateful for, and so many good men and women to be grateful to.

(Via Dustbury.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 25 - I have

Nov. 25 - I have admitted before that I love The Sun (UK). I think the word that best describes it is brash. They may not have the "respectability" of the Daily Telegraph, but they write in a rock'em sock'em style I find endearing.

For example, there's this: Operation Santa:

BRITISH troops spending Christmas in Iraq will tuck into a sleigh-load of traditional festive treats -- thanks to Santa Sun.

The forces' favourite newspaper has teamed up with Tesco to send an individual hamper of goodies to EVERY ONE of our 14,000 brave boys and girls who will be away from loved ones.

Each box is crammed with mince pies, sweets, nuts, soft drinks, crisps, cakes, Christmas pud -- and even a Father Christmas hat.

The only thing missing is booze -- banned as Iraq is a strict Muslim country.

Boxes are also being sent to 1,000 British troops on active service over the holidays in other foreign countries, including Bosnia and Afghanistan. (Emphasis added)

The Naafi, which distributes supplies to Our Boys and Girls across the world, is making sure all the boxes are delivered in time for Christmas.

Our 14,000 troops in Iraq are now involved in peacekeeping duties in extremely dangerous conditions.

They include squaddies from the Paras, Light Infantry, Royal Green Jackets and Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

Type 23 frigates Sutherland and Kent are on duty -- plus Tornados from the RAF's 2 and 13 squadrons.

Squaddies, sailors and RAF crews will spend the holidays in Basra, in Southern Iraq, where temperatures will be around 50°F (10°C) on Christmas Day.

More than 50 Tesco staff worked around the clock to pack the containers at a base in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in the operation with The Sun.

Staff from the local Tesco store joined volunteers from head office on the production line to pack the boxes.


A convoy of seven lorries ferried the 75-ton load to the Naafi ship Michigan, in Felixstowe, Suffolk.

It has set sail and is due in Kuwait on December 12.

The goodies will then be distributed to troops over the border in Iraq by trucks and helicopters.


Tesco suppliers have generously donated their products to the festive boxes and Brand Momentum in Cambridgeshire loaned its packing site and expertise to ensure the boxes were ready to go on time.

The suppliers are: Elkes Biscuits, Kinnerton Confectionery, Rocket Design, Readifoods, Jacobs Biscuits, Shannon Minerals, Gerber Foods, Princes Soft Drinks, Macaw Soft Drinks, Redmill Snacks, McVitie's, Haribo, Manor Bakeries, Hazlewood Foods, Soreen, KP, Ludwig Chocolate, Toms Confectionery, Memory Lane Cakes and Burton's Biscuits.

Not exactly the BBC, but that's of the good.

Posted by Debbye at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

Nov. 26 - Australian news

Nov. 26 - Australian news reports the Italian mission in Iraq was hit with mortar or rocket fire.

RAI said only a few people were in the building at the time of the blast, which targeted the building's second floor. The head of the mission, Gianludovico de Martino di Montegiordano, wasn't inside at the time, RAI [the Italian state-run television]reported.

It said the building was damaged, but that there were no injuries.

Never forget that, far from being unilateral, we have strong allies in Iraq. Remember them and pray for their safety.

Posted by Debbye at 06:16 PM | Comments (1)

Nov. 26 - Salim Mansur

Nov. 26 - Salim Mansur poses the question we have all been frustrated and aggravated about:

Since a violent end game between the liberating American-led coalition forces and Saddam loyalists, joined by the fanatics of the Arab-Muslim world, was expected and has occurred, the interesting question is why there is so much mock surprise and gloom in the media. (Emphasis added.)
Mr. Mansur doesn't have permalinks (drat!) so I'm going to quote extensively from his column "Make no mistake: Iraq is not another Vietnam" and hope for future permalinks:
The gloom pervading this sort of analysis carries the odour of a self-fulfilling wish.

It is to be found in the language used to portray the nightly roundup of the day's events in Iraq - of endlessly piling up the costs of war, its after-effects and casualties, with scant reference to gains being made in rebuilding a country plundered by Saddam and his kinsmen. All this to drive the message home to Americans, not Iraqis, that the overthrow of a tyrannical regime was an illusion and defeat is now inevitable in an Iraqi quagmire that ignites memories of Vietnam.

It is strange, even obscene, to hear those sending out suicide bombers against soft civilian targets, assaulting American and coalition soldiers, and perpetrating terror against Iraqis, referred to even in some of our media as "resistance" fighters." And even stranger to hear their efforts to return Iraq to the tyranny of the Saddam years described as a "liberation" struggle.

Iraq is not becoming another Vietnam, despite the spike in the recent round of terrorist violence. Moreover, describing the desperate, losing campaign of murdering thugs as a "resistance" struggle is an insult to the memory of those Iraqis who perished resisting Saddam's regime in the uprising of 1991, betrayed by a former U.S. president, the elder George Bush.

It was a betrayal. We all know that, and I think it must firm our resolve to do whatever it takes however long it takes. On many levels, it's a matter of honour. I know it was an expedient betrayal, if you will, just as the failure to stop the Soviet Union from invading and occupying Eastern Europe was, and we're not going to to that any more.

It is worth repeating. Iraqis overwhelmingly - Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south together constitute about 85% of Iraq's population - recognize the difference between tyranny and freedom.

No surrender to terrorism

They are not about to surrender to terrorism after having so recently acquired their freedom. The terrorists know this. But they are in a race against the coalition forces to see if they can succeed, before being defeated, in convincing the American public to abandon Iraq. To convince Americans that the price that must be paid for securing Iraq's freedom is too steep.

Ibn Khaldun, one of the greatest Arab thinkers from the 14th century and considered by many as an intellectual giant of the Middle Ages, would have made no mistake about his methods in dealing with terrorists.

He would have recognized them as the fanatics and fundamentalists of his time, who, posing as men of religion, brought ruination to the Arab-Islamic civilization between Cordoba in Moorish Spain and Baghdad.

He would have counselled the Americans and their coalition partners to proceed unwaveringly with their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, preventing terrorists from spreading elsewhere.

For Ibn Khaldun understood through experience, unlike so many of today's media "experts", that civilization periodically must contend forcefully with those who seek its destruction.

Read the whole thing. The link should be good until next Thursday.

Posted by Debbye at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 26 - Did I

Nov. 26 - Did I mention that hockey is a way of life up here? Joe Wormington's column today features a team effort by Tom Cochrane, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Guy LeFleur to send a message to the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. But first about Cochrane's hockey game:

Talk about the Big Leagues. "I have got sore ribs," laughs Canadian music legend Tom Cochrane last night. "I was hit with a pretty good body check in my Brampton men's-league hockey game."

Ouch. That bruise is probably White Hot but he wouldn't change a thing because it has been a magical couple of days. Picture this: On Saturday night the Oakville resident was in Edmonton for the great Heritage Classic.

And then on Monday he was on stage at the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada dinner, receiving a National Achievement Award for a long career in writing tremendous songs, including Life is a Highway.

But since "hockey is the tie that binds the country," we'll talk about that treat first.

"I had my nose pressed up against the glass and was watching my heroes as a kid playing on an outdoor rink," Tom said excitedly. "I felt like a 10-year-old kid."

A lot of people know exactly what he means. During the festivities, Cochrane sang his famous song Big Leagues and dedicated it to Canadian Forces troops over in Afghanistan. It was at that point he was approached by a familiar face. "It was Wayne Gretzky," Tom says. "He said 'I want to tape a special message for those troops.'"

Later, Gretzky, Mark Messier and Guy LaFleur did exactly that. Cochrane, who has done so many humanitarian missions, will be heading to the war zone near Kabul to see and entertain those troops next month.

"I will be bringing that tape," he said. "It was a class thing for those guys to do that."

We are talking legends here, and I think the troops will be totally awestruck by the support and recognition from these greats.

Posted by Debbye at 05:23 PM | Comments (1)

Nov. 26 - Pierre Le

Nov. 26 - Pierre Le Brun of the Canadian Press must not watch Coaches Corner on Saturday Night Hockey regularly or he'd know that this was the second Don Cherry rant against commercials which are supposed to "educate" parents about being too agressive when it comes to their kids in sports. Don lit into the commercials when they were first aired earlier this year (last March, maybe? it was shortly after the Iraq war began) and hockey parents everywhere cheered for him and thanked him back then too.

The program is called "Relax, It's Just a Game" which is heresy up here. It's not just a game, it's The Game. It's fast. It's exciting. It's aggressive. It's not a game for the timid and kids love it and play it every chance they get. Attempts to make street hockey illegal are usually shot down. You don't mess with Tradition.

Hockey is so freaking politically incorrect it makes my heart sing. Ask a Canadian hockey fan what he thinks of European hockey teams and prepare for a long rant on underhanded cheating sneaky back-stabbing cowardly bastards who don't have the balls to check you right and proper to your face but use their skates to trip you and avoid detection.

Hockey is capitalism and team work in action: recognizing and seizing opportunity, taking risks, taking your shot when you see an opening or passing the puck to the open man. It's a fast, gutsy game, and we love it.

As for the nutty parents, I've been involved in minor sports on the administrative level for over 10 years and raised 3 active boys who played organized hockey, baseball, swimming and soccer. I have a bit of first-hand knowledge on the Matter of Nutty Parents, and I agree with Don Cherry. These ads paint sports parents unfairly.

Yes, there are some wackos who are also parents and who put their kids into amateur sports programs. But these parents are just plain nutty and the kids-sports connection is convenient for the politically correct but irrelevant to the nuttiness.

The overwhelming majority of hockey parents are fantastic. They go to a lot of trouble to get their kids to in-town and out-of-town games and tournaments at god-awful hours (I'm talking being at the rink at 5:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. game in mid-freaking-winter) plus the financial expenses for skates, equipment and training camps and the travel costs for tournaments.

Parents talk to one another. The wackos are well-known because they are uncommon and they stand out.

The aforementioned wackos are also nutty in other sports programs, Scouts, schools, music competitions, ballet recitals, at the pool and pretty much wherever they go out in public with or without their kids. I saw one of them go ballistic in the library because the book he wanted was on a waiting list. He was a nut job, and the fact that he's a parent just gives him more venues to exhibit his belligerance.

The major stupidity of these commercials is that people who are nuts think they are rational, so using the airwaves to reach them is a waste of time. Sheesh, some of these nuts have complained to me about others they perceived to be out-of-control. What are you gonna do? I suspect the nuts sit there and nod their heads in agreement when they see those commercials because they don't realize it's aimed at them. It's already been established they're clueless, right?

The cruelty of the commercial is that it makes it appear to the unknowing that overly agressive hockey parents it is a widespread phenomena which is untrue. The side-cruelty is that it makes hockey parents feel targeted because they support their kids desire to play the game.

It's the same b.s. as the gun registry. It only affects lawful gun owners, and as recent events in Toronto bear out, doesn't affect those who want to commit crimes with guns.

The types who are always trying to legislate niceness have been trying to tame hockey for years, at least in Ontario. If they weren't such self-important morons, they'd realize that hockey and indeed all amateur sports are character builders as well as teaching kids self-discipline.

It's a very simple case of logical consequences. You mouth off at the umpire or ref, and you're out of the game. In many leagues, you're also suspended for the next game. Your coach and teammates are angry with you for being so selfish, and you learn to keep your mouth shut.

It teaches the lesson much faster than schools and other social institutions are capable of doing, and it's effective because the kids are there because they want to play so the consequences of violating the rules and norms hit them where it matters.

Of course, what happens on the playing fields and rinks is out of the control of everyone except those playing, which really drives a lot of control freakery types crazy, and not just parents.

These nuts know all the latest psycho-babble too. They'll argue a suspension because it might hurt their kid's self-esteem. They'll insist he's a hell-raising little brat because he lacks self-esteem. They'll cast dark looks at a better player and insist he's playing short-stop for nefarious reasons which somehow never includes the fact that he's one hell of a infielder, alert, and receptive to being coached.

When you come down to it, I think many of the problems with these parents come straight out of the Book of Undeserved Entitlement. The ones who insist the commercials are needed are the ones who created the problem to begin with because they've preached the message of equal entitlement without equal effort and some parents are trying to cash in.

Posted by Debbye at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2003

Leaks that the media overlooked

Nov. 25 - Tom Blankley of the Washington Times delivers sarcastic homage to the Three leaks major media has ignored:

Three vastly embarrassing and newsworthy memos - two from the Senate and one from the Pentagon - came to light. But in each case, the shocking revelations were not revealed in the august pages and electrons of the newly mature media elite.

In the remaining actual news gathering and reporting institutions (the Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, the New York Post, Fox News,Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh radio programs, et al.) those three leaked memos were substantively reported on and extensively quoted.

For those of you who get your news from the WashingtonPostNewYorkTimesCBSetc., here is a summary of those three now half-famous memos: 1) Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee had drafted plans to use and misconstrue classified intelligence data to politically undercut the president of the United States ("pulling the trigger" closer to the election); (2) the CIA and other intelligence offices of the government have identified 10 years of contacts between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden -thus tending to dramatically justify our war against Iraq and contradicting one of the major Democratic Party criticisms of President Bush's Iraq policy; and 3) Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee were working closely with outside groups to block judicial appointments for the purpose of ethnic bigotry and unethical manipulation of court proceedings. In Sen. Durbin's case,the memo advised that Miguel Estrada be blocked as he is "especially dangerous because he is Latino." In Sen. Kennedy's case, the memo advised to stall Judge Gibbons appointment so she couldn't get on the bench in time to decide the pending Michigan affirmative action case. The memo questioned "the propriety" of such tactics, but nonetheless advised it. She was confirmed just two months after the landmark case in question.

By the time I finished reading the Weekly Standard article about the ties between Saddam and al Qaeda everyone else had it, but on reflection I haven't seen anything about it in the Toronto news (although that means little.) (The link to the Weekly Standard article is here.)

What liberal bias in the media? By the way, Roger L. Simon and his commenters have a good discussion about the leak on Saddam/al Qaeda, Newsweek's response, and the Weekly Standard's response to Newsweek.

Posted by Debbye at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 25 - I'm letting

Nov. 25 - I'm letting Toronto Sun editor and columnist Lorrie Goldstein take point on the increased gun violence in Toronto with Handcuffed as he sums up the problems facing Toronto police as they try to cope with fewer police and more paperwork:

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino fired off a letter to Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon yesterday demanding a public inquiry into Canada's criminal justice system.

He couldn't have picked a better day, considering we've just endured yet another bloody weekend in Toronto - three gun murders, four stabbings, a drive by shooting in which two men narrowly escaped death and a home invasion in which the victim was pistol-whipped.

Yesterday, there was a shootout between two men outside a Scarborough alternative school.

Fantino had earlier called for such an inquiry, noting the system is broken and Toronto has the victims to prove it.

Homicide Insp. Gary Ellis was interviewed by the Sun and says is asking for simplification of the legal system so police can spend more time investigating and less time filling out forms.

Toronto mayor elect David Miller has vowed to get guns off the streets although he's a bit short on details other than working with other levels of government.

Speaking of guns, governments and not having a plan, the bill for the Federal Gun Registry will reach $1 billion sometime in 2004 or 2005. The original budget for the registry was $1 million.

Jack adds much insight from his vantage point as a cop.

Posted by Debbye at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 25 - I'll keep

Nov. 25 - I'll keep the Ottawa Citizen headline intact, Italian PM: I'm 'too busy' for Canada, although I tend to put a slightly different spin on this, believing that maybe Berlusconi would rather not meet with Chretien.

LONDON -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has cancelled a regular summit meeting between Canada and the European Union scheduled for Ottawa on Dec. 17, effectively saying he is too busy to attend.

Mr. Berlusconi's snub comes despite frantic attempts by Canadian diplomats to find an alternative venue in Europe for the meeting with Prime Minister Jean Chretien. It also met with some criticism from EU parliamentarians, one of whom decried it as a "slap in the face to a good friend of Europe."

I wonder which parliamentarians from which countries? Heh.
It is the first time any of the twice-yearly summits have been cancelled since they began in 1990.


The EU's imminent expansion -- it will balloon from 15 to 25 countries next May -- means the potential European market is getting even bigger. But European issues remain dwarfed in Canada by the government's demands and obsession with its relationship with Washington. (Emphasis added)

They said it, not me.
Indeed while the federal government dismissed Mr. Berlusconi's cancellation as a headstrong act by an unpredictable politician, it may be interpreted by some as another sign of Canada's diminishing profile and significance in Europe, the sense it is a country that can be casually sloughed off.

The Italian leader's decision was made before Mr. Chretien announced he would resign Dec. 12. Mr. Berlusconi told Canadian officials Nov. 13 that he would not make the trip to Ottawa, sparking frantic attempts by Canadian diplomats to reschedule the meeting in Europe at an earlier date. Those efforts collapsed last weekend, by which time Mr. Berlusconi would have known he would be meeting new prime minister Paul Martin instead of Mr. Chretien. (Emphasis added)

Still, Mr. Berlusconi's decision to back out of the summit offered his critics another chance to chastize him. Skipping the summit, said Scottish Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson during a parliamentary session, was a "tactless decision." And Scottish Labour party MEP David Martin said "it does not matter whether that summit is held in Europe or whether it is held in Canada. The important thing is that it is held before Dec. 12." Otherwise, Mr. Martin said, it would be a "slap in the face to a good friend of Europe."

The December summit had no outstanding tensions on its agenda that demanded soothing or settling. Yet it was regarded as significant by Canadian officials who had planned it as symbolic corner-turning in relations with the EU. Among the documents prepared for signing by the leaders was a further trade and economic enhancement agreement, aimed at protecting and improving the investment environment.

While trade growth between Canada and the EU remains sluggish and slips into near insignificance next to trade with the U.S., the stock of Canadian direct investment in the EU reached almost $100 billion in 2002, surpassing the EU's $94-billion investment stock in Canada. For Canada, European investment represents three of every four dollars of non-American investment coming into the country.

"We want the summit to lift this relationship to a new plateau," European Commissioner Antonio Vitorino said last week, before the last options for rescheduling had been exhausted.

WEASEL Chretien is wrecked on the rocks of the Anglosphere. Oh wait, Italy is not an Anglophone country. Neither is Poland, or Estonia, or Denmark, or most of the countries in the Coalition of the Willing.

Dude, your legacy is just beginning.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

Abdul Rahman Khadr

Nov. 25 - The US released 20 prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay facility including a former Toronto (Scarborough) resident Abdul Rahman Khadr.

According to Reynald Doiron, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Office, Khadr reportedly went to a country of his own choosing. "Privacy concerns limit our ability to provide information on his current whereabouts," Doiron said. Khadr could return to Canada someday as a matter of right.

Oh goodie.

The man's father, Ahmed Said Khadr, is a known operative of al Qaeda and although he was reportedly killed by Pakistan forces during a raid on an al-Qaeda camp in Waziristan, Pakistan. last October, although it has not been substantiated. (If blogspotted, go to Oct. archives and use the search function (Ctrl+F for IE users) and key in Khadr. The original source was the National Post and their links live for only 2 weeks, poor things.)

Abdul's brother Omar, known to some as the "Toronto Teen" and to others as the murderer of a US Army medic in Afghanistan, was injured and captured and is still presumed to be held at Guantanamo.

Posted by Debbye at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 25 - A Delhi

Nov. 25 - A Delhi man arrested Nov. 19 driving half-naked (the bottom half) the wrong way down a one-way street as he downloaded child porn using a hijacked wi-fi signal has been released on $5000 no-deposit bail yesterday. The 33-year old is unable to leave the house except to go to work or when accompanied by his guarantor.

He is also forbidden to go to Toronto except for legal or medical reasons.

Posted by Debbye at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Precision Guided Humour

Nov. 25 - This week's Precision Guided Humor Assignment from the Alliance of Free Bloggers is to determine what kind of punishment would be accorded anti-war protesters under American sharia law.

The all-important word "American" should mean that sharia law not violate either the First or Eighth Amendments of the US Constitution (the latter forbids that "cruel and unusual punishment be inflicted") so American sharia would be both more humane and necessarily more imaginative than current Muslim sharia law.

It is somewhat fitting that this question come up as Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is super fitting that I read A Puritan Idealism in Iraq at Earthly Passions last night because I was also reminded of how the Puritans dealt with minor trouble-makers. [More on this excellent post downstream.]

However, I don't think that either the pillory or stocks would be allowed under American sharia law, although the feather-tickler might get by. So I had to go further back in our history to come up with something that would not violate the Constitution.

Then I remembered the practice of shunning. It's pretty self-explanatory, and just means that the citizens of a town decide they will neither speak nor acknowledge a person or persons who consistently violates the sensibilities of that town or are unrestrained mischief-makers.

That may sound like I'm going easy on them, but given their penchant for drama and over-the-top actions, constumes, props and exhortations, depriving them of attention would be hitting them where it hurts. All that time lovingly spent on Hitler=Bush posters, applying magic marker with bold strokes to draw a mustache on the President, and the laboured the construction of the ubiquitous effigies, and nobody even looks!

Sheesh, if you're going to turn the water of fountains red as a puerile statement and nobody even looks twice, where's the thrill?

They could march and holler slogans, but people would just keep on about their business. (Since they're being shunned, however, anti-war protesters would be well-advised to cross only at marked intersections and with the light. People subject to the shunning can't expect drivers to yield the right of way to people who don't even exist.)

Actually, we've already put the shunning into practice on a small scale. What else explains the fact that the all-important and influential media (in their minds, at least) consistently issue dire prognostications yet are ignored?

Another possibility, still in keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, would be to make them eat all the leftover turkey. And dressing. Yeah, especially the dressing.

But they can't have any of the pumpkin and pecan pies. They're mine, and the whipped cream too, which doubles as a topper for Scotch Coffee (because I drink Scotch whiskey, not Irish.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

Nov. 24 - One of

Nov. 24 - One of the hard parts about my new schedule is falling behind reading my favourite blogs, including Martin's.

He compares our street-theatre protesters with those in Georgia, and please note the name of his blog -- Magyar. Could it have some connection with Hungary? (Pardon me while I struggle to suppress my outrage at those goofs in North America who throw around words like repression with no understanding of the term.)

Oh dang. He just got even with me for being so far behind. (Caveat: Not remotely work safe.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 24 - A roadside

Nov. 24 - A roadside attack on their vehicle left a South African man dead and two Canadians wounded in Congo Friday night. Gunmen wearing military uniforms shot them outside a mining town as the men passed a roadblock on the outskirts of Lubumbashi.

Congo is emerging from five years of ruinous war that saw government, rebel and foreign forces battling for control of the country's vast mineral resources - including gold, diamonds and the coltan used to build some mobile phones and other electronic devices.

Peace accords and a power-sharing government has calmed much of the fighting in the central African country, but the jungles and savannahs of the east - where Lubumbashi lies, 2,000 kilometres southeast of Kinshasa - remain lawless and highly volatile.

Little has been reported about conditions in Congo since the UN sent a peacekeeping force there except for a tribal attack early last October which killed 67 in Katchele, a village in northeastern Congo about 45 mi. northwest of Bunia.

No names have been released, and the name of the mining company that employed them has not been established. The two Canadians were taken to South Africa for medical treatment and are said to be in stable condition.

Posted by Debbye at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 24 - The Canadian

Nov. 24 - The Canadian military is using a set of remote-controlled vehicles called the Improved Landmine Detection System to check for mines on the road where two Canadian soldiers were killed Oct. 2.

"It can detect deep-buried anti-tank mines," said Sgt. Kelly MacKinnon, who's in charge of the vehicle.
Combat engineers are also using prodding sticks and sometimes bare hands to search for mines.

The troops saw a racy, barn dance-style performance Monday. It was the first entertainment tour for the troops:

They were crude and a bit rude. But what do you expect from hundreds of homesick soldiers who've been denied the taste of Canadian entertainment for months in a country ripe with danger. Singer Jana Jana appeared to be the hit of the show as she and two other short-skirted young dancers gyrated and twirled through several pop medleys to calls of "take it off" from the audience.

"They were a bit raunchy," Diana Frances said of the soldiers at Camp Julien.

Frances, the managing director of the Rock-Paper-Scissors Improv Comedy group, which helped entertain the troops, says she expected that, and didn't mind putting up with some low-brow enthusiasm while performing.


Comedian Dave Broadfoot, a veteran of Canadian Forces show tours, said it was important to him that the performers brought a little bit of home to the soldiers.

"When they're in the audience watching a show like this, their delight is coupled with homesickness," he said.

"And the fact that we're here means an awful lot to them. They react as if we have gone through a lot of trouble and sacrifice in order to be here."

For some watching the show Monday, however, homesickness took a back seat to just being entertained.


Meanwhile, comic Rick Mercer and a group of musicians will also be off to Kabul next month for a performance at Camp Julien that will be taped for a CBC-TV holiday special, Christmas in Kabul, to air Dec. 21. Mercer and Broadfoot have previously entertained troops in Bosnia.

You can send messages of support and thanks to the troops here.

More good news from Kabul: World Cup soccer has returned. Afghanistan played Turkmenistan, and although they lost 2-0, the crowd of 2,500 was julibant every time the team got the ball to midfield. The loss means that Afghanistan won't qualify to play in the the 2006 World Cup, but it's a beginning.

Posted by Debbye at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 24 - I have

Nov. 24 - I have no use for the Klan, so if laughing at this story seems less than respectful, it's most likely because I have no respect. Anyway, this from CNN: Participant at KKK initiation wounded after shots fired into sky:

JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (AP) -- A bullet fired in the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony came down and struck a participant in the head, critically injuring him, authorities said.

Gregory Allen Freeman, 45, was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in the Saturday night incident that wounded Jeffery S. Murr, 24.

About 10 people, including two children, had gathered for the ceremony. The man who was being initiated was blindfolded, tied with a noose to a tree and shot with paintball guns as Freeman fired a pistol in the air to provide the sound of real gunfire, Sheriff Fred Phillips said.

A bullet struck Murr on the top of the head and exited at the bottom of his skull, authorities said.

Freeman fled the ceremony but was arrested near his home, authorities said. He was released on $7,500 bail.

Klansmen are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Speaking of dumb, the Dixie Chicks are at it again.

Posted by Debbye at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2003

Steyn on the Whitehall Speech

Nov. 23 - A new Steyn column in today's Chicago SunTimes: Unlike JFK's war, Bush fights for Iraqi liberty.

Steyn cites a major theme from Pres. Bush's Whitehall speech which has given many of us joy:

President Bush has repudiated half a century of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The State Department and the CIA no longer sign off on the Coup Of The Month the way they did in JFK's day -- the CIA seems to be too busy covering its posterior to do much of anything, and the State Department evidently feels it's easier living with the old thugs -- Yasser, Assad, the mullahs -- than trying to spot the up-and-coming ones. But the president is right: the "temporary convenience" has long ceased to be so.
I feel as though I've waited my entire life for the announcement of such policy. Steyn also echoes the fury many of us feel at the abdication of the left in leading the fight for the disenfranchised:
It would be nice to think the so-called "progressives" of the left might find this [creation of the institutions of liberty] a worthy project. Instead, in London, they waved their silly placards showing Bush and Blair drenched in blood, even as the real blood of the British consul-general and others had been spilled in Turkey that day.

It's one thing to dislike Bush, it's one thing to hate America. But it's quite another to hate America so much you reflexively take the side of any genocidal psycho who comes along. In their terminal irrelevance, the depraved left has now adopted the old slogan of Cold War realpolitik: like Osama and Mullah Omar, Saddam may be a sonofabitch, but he's their sonofabitch.

Well said.

I still believe one can draw parallels between the two presidents, however, perhaps because during the Cuba Missile Crisis, I knew my parents firmly believed that the President knew what he was doing. I repeated those words 38 years later to my own kids, and neither president let me or them down.

It's all about knowing when it's of critical necessity to stand firmly and not waver. Those who miss that juncture are doomed.

Posted by Debbye at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)

Nov. 23 - Like many

Nov. 23 - Like many Torontonians, I listen to Classic Rock Q107 for both the music and for John Derringer -- especially his "Tool of the Day" spot.

Good news: his rants are finally available online!

Try An all new meaning to "Horse Play" for a slice. Derringer also has a weekly column on Fridays in the Toronto Sun and totally failed accreditation in the School of Political Correctness.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 23 - Toronto Sun

Nov. 23 - Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington witnessed Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. Fascinating.

Posted by Debbye at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)


Nov. 23 - Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald notes that the terrorist attacks in Iraq and Turkey have angered Muslims and are forcing the issue of terrorism for many moderate Muslims.

Although it's tempting to claim Muslims don't mind so long as Jews, Israelis and Westerners are killed, that is a bit simplistic. Let's face it: once somethings ends up in your backyard, it is no longer possible to pretend it has nothing to do with you. Over there becomes right here and a new dynamic emerges. Citizens of Muslim countries don't differ from citizens of any country in that regard.

Look at how long it took we Americans to finally, officially recognize that terrorism threatens everyone, including our own inherently isolationist country. When Turkey decided that coalition forces could not use Turkish soil to launch a northern front in Iraq, the US government shrugged and adapted. (Some of us seethed, but followed the Pentagon's lead.)

Yet that decision did not spare Turkey from terrorist attacks, and they have more to worry about now than nationalist aspirations of the Kurds in Turkey. Have other Axis of Weasel countries taken proper note?

As for how Turkey might respond, Jack has a fascinating post: The Infidel Turk which argues that al Qaeda may have awoken yet another sleeping giant.

Jack (and David Warren) make some very valid points, and factor in both geography and the Turkish army. The Turkish army considers itself to be the guardian of modern Turkey and is the most powerful army in the Mid-East.

In a Washington Times commentary, Claude Salhani, senior editor with UPI, gives a brief run down on how Turkey has dealt with terrorism in the past, and says the al Qaeda attacks in Turkey guarantee that the gloves will come off.

According to an AP dispatch, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Israeli PM Sharon by phone and the two have pledged cooperation in fighting terrorism:

Erdogan spoke on Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by telephone, agreeing to cooperate in the fight on terrorism. The chief of Israel's Mossad secret service agency reportedly traveled to Turkey this week following the attacks in an apparent expansion of coordination between the allies.

Turkey and Israel have built up strong military and trade ties. Now Turkey is seeking Israel's expertise from more than 100 suicide bombings since September 2000 and knowledge on how to track Islamic militants.

Neither Syria nor Iran have been hit by al Qaeda, and implications are easy to draw yet hard to prove. I don't know if actual war could erupt, but Turkey is reviewing its list of terror cells, and a demonstration yesterday indicates the Turkish people are not going to allow terrorists to intimidate them or deter them from maintaining a secular government.

Another complication for the EU is that Syria is wining and dining officials in EU countries in an effort to side-step the Syrian Accountability Act recently enacted by the US legislature:

Syrian President Bashar Assad is receiving an increasing number of European Union delegations while Farouk Sharaa, his foreign minister, is giving elaborate dinners for European ambassadors accredited to Damascus, according to diplomatic reports.

In December Mr. Assad will travel on an official visit to Belgium, where he will address the European Parliament. At the beginning of next year, he plans visits to Greece and Austria.
If the connection between Syria and the attacks in Turkey can be established, the EU will (again) be stuck in the middle.

Turkey is a member of NATO, and its application to join the EU has been consistently blocked by France and Germany. I'd be pleased to grant them membership in what Chirac calls the Anglosphere and what I'll call the Coalition of the Undeterred (until some better wag than I comes up with a better name.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:38 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 23 - Interesting times

Nov. 23 - Interesting times in these nations: Protesters in Lithuania demand president's resignation and Georgians demand president's resignation.

Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas is accused of being too closely tied to Yuri Borisov, a businessman believed to be the head of an organized crime syndicate. Borisov's passports have been confiscated, and a parliamentary commission is investigating the ties.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze is accused of rigging the elections earlier this month, and was prevented from finishing his planned address to the newly elected legislature.

Protests in both countries have been non-violent, and in Georgia it is likely the army will refuse to move against much less fire on the protesters.

I'll update this once I find a blogger who knows more about these situations than I. For now I am only speculating, but as past news about corruption in many former Soviet satellites has been very troubling, I can't help believing that this second wave of reform is good.

CNN now has an item on the continuing struggle in Georgia. It remains determined but peaceful.

UPDATE: Martin Sieff, UPI Senior News Analyst, is a good starting point for understanding events in Geogia.

UPDATE: Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has resigned.

Posted by Debbye at 08:05 AM | Comments (1)

November 22, 2003

Nov. 22 - The lead

Nov. 22 - The lead stories in many papers today are about the assassination of President Kennedy 40 years ago.

I don't think I can bear to post on this. It still hurts, even after all this time. Up until then, the most tragic thing in my young life had been the Giants loss in the 1962 World Series.

Telling the Kennedy story is being undercut by the various Conspiracy Theories, and now we have the "what if" scenarios that are not only insulting to history and historians, but are re-defining the President.

President Kennedy was a war hero. He was a Cold War warrior. (I read that phrasing somewhere, but can't place it.) I don't know if President Bush draws inspiration from him, but I do. JFK would shun today's appeasers and the Dems should be careful before they invoke his memory.

Read Profiles in Courage. Ignore the media. That would be my approach today.

I'm off to work, so take care and I hope everyone in Toronto gets out to enjoy this mild weather because it won't last. Sigh.

UPDATE: CNN covers the memorial in Dallas yesterday, and David Health, a visitor from Sheffield, England, asked Can you imagine this happening for any other president?" Well, yes, actually. For President Lincoln. Jim Johns of Houston remembers something I had forgotten: "My teacher stated crying, all the girls started crying, all the boys started cursing the Russians -- that's who we thought it was. It was terrible. We all wanted to go to war." Some say the reason the conspiracy theories started up was to take the focus off Oswald's Soviet Union connection and association with the Fair Play For Cuba committee.

Apparently Sen. Ted Kennedy remembered his brohters. Dude, I wish you would remember them. It might lend some clarity to your thinking.

Posted by Debbye at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 22 - My Whimsy-Meter

Nov. 22 - My Whimsy-Meter just burnt out: Canada asks UN to push Iran on rights because that will achieve . . . what? If you ain't willing to back it up, it's meaningless.

It seems Syria promised Att. Gen. Ashcroft they wouldn't torture Arar. And we believed them . . . because?

Posted by Debbye at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 22 - The news

Nov. 22 - The news today seems determined to encourage my whimsy: Parizeau, Bouchard win 'Hitler' libel suit. It seems that in 1993, a businessman, Richard Lafferty, wrote in a business newsletter that the two acted like dictators and used the same fear tactics as Hitler.

Aww, he hurteded their fweelings.

Poor Lafferty. He died last month at the ripe age of 80 after appealing a previous settlement of $20,000 for each man, and the appeal judge not only sustained the verdict but upped the settlement to $330,000 between the two men.

Idea! That's how the US can reduce the deficit. Sue all the people who compared Pres. Bush to Hitler and watch the dough roll in.

More troubling, however, is how much trouble people like me can get into for using phrases like environazis and unnamed others use the phrase femnazis. Freedom of speech just isn't what it used to be.

Posted by Debbye at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 22 - Ouch, Courting

Nov. 22 - Ouch, Courting America? As in candy, flowers and diamonds? I'll have you know that getting this girl ain't easy, so it will take more than flattery and cheap wine.

The above was strictly in jest. The President already made his position clear: We can disagree without being disagreeable, so the two countries should be able to at least present a public appearance of being cordial.

PM Chretien did one good thing for Canada: he seemed to act without the consent of Parliament in some of his actions taken on behalf of the Axis of Weasels because there never was a real debate about Iraq in the House.

Seriously (and ignoring the jaunty headline,) Paul Martin plans to mend some fences with the US at the Jan. 12 Summit of the Americas meeting in Mexico.

There's also a bit at the bottom of the page about criticisms about the lack of francophones in his advance team inner circle. Good old Toronto Sun Online. The article concludes with this:

Martin deflected questions on his choices for cabinet, saying only
Inasmuch as the biggest criticism of Martin has been his failure to state his position on issues, I don't know if the incomplete sentence was intentional but the phrase Freudian slip is appropriate because I want it to be.

Posted by Debbye at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 22 - This is

Nov. 22 - This is too weird to ignore: a Toronto man was arrested downloading child porn by stealing wi-fi internet access with a twist that re-defines perversion: Drive-by net user targets kid porn:

A man caught driving naked from the waist down while watching kiddie porn on his laptop has become the first man in Toronto charged for allegedly stealing an internet connection. Toronto police laid a theft of communications charge after busting a man driving in the residential High Park area, the wrong way down a one-way street, downloading child porn using stolen wireless internet signals.
Got all that? Assuming it's illegal to drive without your pants on, that's 4 violations. I know it's wrong for me to laugh. There's nothing funny about child porn, but the eeevil part of my brain keeps thinking dude, couldn't you wait until you got home? (maybe not; he lives in Delhi with his parents) and the sober part of my brain keeps thinking this guy epitomizes obsession and impulsive which is a danger signal and the sadder part of my brain keeps thinking he's a ticking time bomb so he'll probably get house arrest.

But the details are less amusing:

The slow-moving car was pulled over around 5 a.m. on Wednesday by an 11 Division police officer who allegedly found the driver -- with no pants on -- watching a movie on his laptop of a 10-year-old girl performing fellatio on an adult.
According to the article, the pervert was downloading from Kazaa, and says that 42% of 1,286 files at Kazaa contained child porn. That seems somewhat misleading; Kazaa has millions of files, so I'm assuming this figure was reached using the Search feature and relevant keywords. I can't deny there was the very rare bit of porn when I'd double-check anything with a boxed + before downloading, but I seriously doubt 42% of all Kazaa files are child porn. Morpheus was much worse not only with the porn (although I only interecepted adult porn) but with the viruses, two very good reasons why I was relieved when the kids switched to Kazaa.

But maybe I'm naive:

Det.-Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt, from Project P, said the last three child porn collectors his unit arrested also used Kazaa to download porn and stole internet connections to get online.
Internet users can be painfully naive (or cheap.) Firewalls, folks. Don't surf without it.

More on war drivers here and some advice on how to keep your wi-fi signal from being hijacked.

Posted by Debbye at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

Thoughts after the president's trip to London

Nov. 21 - Note: any of you ever start a post that had a mind of it's own? Well, this is one. I've improved and tinkered so much I'm not even sure if it makes any sense, but I have to go to work, which is a mercy for anyone who wades through this!

Despite the many intellectual discussions about the President's trip to London weighing the pros and cons, I initially supported this visit for a very personal and very emotional reason.

I wanted Pres. Bush to be able to thank Queen Elizabeth II in person on behalf of the American people for her loving action on Sept. 11 when she requested the Star Spangled Banner be played at Buckingham Palace.

Further, the Queen herself extended the invitation to the President, and it would have been churlish to refuse. Some of us hapen to believe in honour and gratitude, and I'm glad the President went. The possibility that it would be a public relations disaster counted for less than the opportunity, no, obligation rather, to acknowledge and embrace our good friends and allies in the UK, at least to my simple mind, just as the President did when he went to Australia.

If it seems odd, if not downright contradictory, that this proud American would have affection and reverence for the descendant of a monarchy which my own ancestors disavowed, well, it's my paradox and I accept it, as do millions of Americans.

Of course, there are other, more compelling reasons to support the visit including the opportunity to show resolve as well as gratitude and to state (again) the goals of this struggle.

In High Noon, Will Kane's mentor, Martin Howe, says: 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. I don't agree with the they don't care part, but I do believe it can take a long time before most people realize, however reluctantly, that they must take action and the themes of that movie ran through my mind as I read this:

The slogan "war against terrorism" told only half the story. Bush's idea of putting the spread of democracy at the top of the agenda tells the other half. Now the average Briton knows that he is not asked to fight only against something, but also for something. (Original emphasis)
This is from today's NY Post THE GREAT DIVIDE by Amer Taheri, an insightful analysis of the growing unease in the anti-war movement as reality intrudes on the ideals of that movement. Read the whole thing.

Note I said ideals. I understand those ideals, and in my younger days I embraced them. My world view is more mature now, and today I understand that the drives of greed, lust for power and corruption are universal problem not limited to the US, so I must weigh my opinions and values against something other than reflexive anti-establishmentarianism. Or rebelliousness.

That's why people like me saw the anti-war's Halliburton with TotalFinaElf, and raised them one Oil-For-Palaces program. The butchery of Saddam didn't enter too much because we lacked evidence that would be acceptable to the world community at large, and now we have much more than we could ever have imagined in our worst predictions.

Please believe me when I say it's not so much that those who honestly wished for peace were wrong: those who wish for peace are never wrong, in the strictest sense of the word, but they did choose the wrong fight to oppose. Bringing up WMD now is a fool's game; nobody dismissed the intelligence from every agency in the world including that of the UN regarding WMD, but the anti-war crowd did dismiss claims by Iraqi refugees in favour of the claims by George Galloway, Scott Ritter, et alia.

It happens. We all make judgements about who to believe, and there are far worse crimes than believing the wrong people. Although the claims about WMD in Iraq remain an open book, the claims of the Iraqis who charged Saddam was a butcher have been proven to be true, and, because we left him in power after Gulf War I, it was our duty to remove him however belatedly. This I firmly believe.

To those on the right who continue to denounce the inactions of the Clinton Administration, I have to wonder if they really and truly believe the American people would have supported war after the first WTC bombing, the bombing of the African embassies or the attack on the Cole. I don't. Maybe it's to our credit in the long term that we are slow to anger and slower to war, or maybe it's more reflective of our naivete, patience or optimistim. Take your pick.

It. Doesn't. Matter. It's time to come together, and make decisions about who Americans are.

It's time to be honest, and to look within ourselves instead of trying to conform to this stereotype or that one, and to stop rebelling against this stereotype or that one.

It's time to Grow Up.

That means that the ongoing debate about the use of American force cannot, must not be reduced to a we were right and you were wrong exchange, for if we can't allow ourselves to change our minds based on new evidence, then we aren't rational humans and should stop pretending we are.

In other words, if we really care about ourselves and our future, the true debate is only beginning. Both sides have evidence now whereas before we entered Iraq we mostly had conjecture, and we must evaluate that evidence according to American standards, not the bankrupt ones of those we have good reason to distrust.

Only one year ago, the numbers of Americans and British who supported the action in Iraq was very small. Many were hoping renewed UN resolve would settle the Iraq issue without bloodshed, only a few of us were willing to accept that war was likely. Why?

Maybe because some of us learned a hard lesson from the bloody repression of the uprising in Iraq after Gulf War I, and in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Rwanda. I don't blame those who have avoided thinking about genocides that we didn't prevent in favour of those we did, but the harsh reality of the UN is that it did not play a role in stopping genocide anywhere. That fact must be confronted. The looming war in Iraq again clarified the need for the UN to assert itself, its resolutions, and even its existence, yet the UN agencies that have fled Iraq and Afghanistan would seem to make it clear that no people can rely on that feckless body to protect them.

Sadly, the UN has, in traditional bureaurcratic fashion, come to represent maintaining the status quo which too often means protecting dictatorships like that formerly in Iraq and today in Zimbabwe, Syria and Cuba, rather than representing a bright future for oppressed peoples. So if the UN is willing to content itself with providing food and shelter for those in desperate straits so long as these people are already in secure areas, so be it. That is not an unworthy goal unless they pretend they should be more without making an effort to do more.

I remain an optimist. The UN was created by mere humans, and can be adapted or replaced by mere humans.

Change is in the air. Only observe how quickly war sentiment changed, both in the US and the UK if not in the UN, relative to events in the last century. Look at the European countries that joined the coalition, exchange Italy and Spain for France and Canada, and the alignment is hardly unfamiliar. (And note that the Iraq question is hardly settled among Canadians despite the Federal government's stance. Canadian troops are in harm's way in Afghanistan. That fact demands respect by both Americans and Canadians. They didn't run away after two soldiers were killed last month. They are still the bold Canadians many remember from WWII and Korea.)

We went to WWI with "Remember the Lusitania" but overlook the fact that the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 at the cost of 128 American lives and the US did not enter the war until 2 years later in 1917. Five other ships were torpedoed during those two years. That delay reflected to some degree the large number of immigrants with conflicting loyalties to their former homes as well as the political debate around whether the USA fit into a worldview, a view which we now take for granted but which events already have begun to demand we alter. Other options were weighed, including arming merchant ships. That march to war was slow, but the debates that preceeded it were an essential part of understanding the notion of being American regardless of birthplace into the American pscyhe.

Canada is wrestling with that internal contradiction even today. Give it time, and let them find a Canadian solution.

WWII was forced by the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, but even then the declaration of war on Germany was disputed, and some of the fears about a German Fifth Column were proven true and the fears about a Japanese Fifth Column were proven false. We learned from that experience which is why, however intolerable some may find it, it is right to trust Muslims in the US (and Canada) until and if they betray that trust.

Ironically, an argument posed today by some Canadians against alliance with the US in Iraq was the delay by the US in entering WWII. I never got the rationale for that: by offering it now, does that mean these Canadians retroactively endorse and approve of the delay? I think that unlikely, but to promote that argument for Canadian opposition to the war in Iraq is perplexing unless they actively desire revenge for events of over 60 years ago, and that doesn't really fit in with what I know about Canadians.

Rather, I believe Canadian reluctance to join the US may be due in part to contrariness more than an approval of the Canadian PM's alliance with France. Canadians don't want to feel they are at the beck and call of the US. But how can any American or Brit condemn Canadian contrariness when, in fact, it is another shared value which we rarely acknowledge but must honestly (if laughingly) admit?

There is another factor as well in the Canadian psyche, namely the deaths of 4 Canadian soldiers in the friendly-fire incident of May, 2002, in Afghanistan. That is never far from the Canadian mind, and although it would be fair to charge that the press has fanned that sentiment for all its worth, the sense of useless loss is real.

Clearly, much patience is still required to continue to promote, discuss and debate the vision articulated during the president's visit to London and historic speech at Whitehall (text here) and I fervently hope that those Euopeans and British who read that speech recognize that it signals a change: can the soft left and soft right finally get to a point wherein we debate the need to take a firm stand against tyranny? Please?

Can we finally arrive in the US at a point at which invoking Monicagate and Floridagate are discarded as irrelevant because this is a new era, and we have to take our stands on whether we believe the yearning for freedom beats in all hearts and drop red herrings which detract from honest debate?

And can we begin to apply Godwin's Law, that most excellent Usenet formula which declared an argument won once the opposition has been reduced to comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis since reason and logic have clearly left the building?

This debate must be non-partisan in the US and undertaken without reference to the US in Canada because more is at stake than mud-slinging and who can make the better (or more bitter) wisecracks.

Who are we? In what do we believe? How far are we willing to go to support those beliefs? Sheesh, this isn't the first time in history people have had to make those judgements so stop f***ing around and get to it.

These are weighty issues, and the ultimate stance taken by countries will determine who and what the peoples of these countries believe about themselves and each other. Some allies, like Syria, have been proven to be false. Some allies, like Canada, have proven to be reluctant but should not be ruled out.

How do we need to do to elevate the issues to an honest debate on the world scene?

Primarily, I think it means getting past prejudice against the United States. Is that simplified? Damned right it is, because when we read anti-war positions both in the media and on websites and listen to the rhetoric of the agitators, what they appeal to is paranoia, which is by definition irrational, and that enables them to bypass the real issue, which is human rights in the Mid-East, starting with Iraq, and extending to the brutality which sees Canadians tortured in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran. The debate is whether countries which extol the virtues of human rights really believe in them and what they are willing to do about it.

I lived for too long during the Cold War and I understood the President's sentiments when he pointed out that we often allied ourselves with less than savoury characters in order to maintain balance with the Soviet bloc. (It would be nice for Pres. Putin to make the same observation about the USSR, but I'm not holding my breath.)

I remember the feeling of elation during the Prague Spring, and the sense of outrage and helplessness during the Soviet invasion in 1968, and many more people remember Tianianmen Square.

Is it too idealistic to hope I never have to endure those times again? Or at least that repression in one country can be counter-balanced with liberation in another? I know we can't take on every country, but the powers of example and determination can do a great deal to persuade otherwise intractable people once they realize that bringing democracy to their nations is better than the alternative.

It's not so much whether you are for the United States as it is whether you believe that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and those who yearn for a return of Saddam and the Taliban are manifestly against human rights.

In many ways, I feel that the United States is finally living up to the beliefs enshrined in the Declaration of Independence because it affirmed inherent rights for all men (and women). Think about it: it could well have read "all Englishmen" or "all Americans" yet didn't, and that was by design.

I first read the Taheri column in toto at Italian Girl's promoting ideas of democracy via Expat Yank, and hopped over to the NY Post in hopes that they too published it and would have the requisite permalink.Thanks to both posters for pointing the way.

Posted by Debbye at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2003

Boots on the Ground secured

Boots on the Ground secured time on the computer and has a new post up.

Read it, and wonder at the incredible men and women over there.

We know the risks, we just keep that thought locked away in the back of our head. We don't need to be reminded of what is going on by some paper pushing Colonel. And they just love reminding us how we are the tip of the spear, and on the front lines in this war. Yeah, whatever sir.
The obligatory morale speech. Some things never change.

Welcome back, Kevin.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 20 - An April

Nov. 20 - An April RCMP intelligence report on terrorism recently released to CP Press under the Access to Information Act said that Canada could be next as terrorists target U.S. allies and assets.

The report, Strategic Assessment of the Nature and Extent of Criminal Extremism / Terrorism in Canada, details the activities of the RCMP in 2002 in investigating terrorist organizations as Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, militant Muslim sect Jamaat ul Fuqra, and Lebanese group Hezbollah.

The report says that the involvement of Canada as a partner in the war on terror and having Canadian troops in Afghanistan make Canada and Canadian interests abroad a likely target.

Posted by Debbye at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 20 - Canadian Solicitor-General

Nov. 20 - Canadian Solicitor-General Wayne Easter fesses up that Canada shared information on Maher Arar with US authorities but declined to be more specific.

Easter would not say if he has reviewed the information that was shared with the U.S., but stressed again that Canada played no role in the decision to arrest Arar. He could not explain why Arar might be arrested in the U.S. based on information from Canada, where he was not charged with any crime. (Emphasis added)

Kerry Pither, a spokesman for Arar, said it's almost certain now that information supplied by RCMP or CSIS served as the basis for Arar's detention. Calling Easter's meeting with Ashcroft a "wasted opportunity," she said Canadians need to know why Arar's rights were violated and he was sent to a country known to use torture.

Actually, it seems more likely that Syria supplied the information as well as made the request that ultimately led to his deportation, but Canada certainly gets the assist.

In essence, Easter simply confirmed what US Amb. Cellucci said months ago. Why didn't the Feds just admit it?

The meeting to which Pither is referring, by the way, is one during which Easter was supposed to scold Ashcroft about respecting Canadian values and human rights standards but actually it was probably for Easter to ask Ashcroft to refresh his memory. (Okay, I made that last bit up, but it seems a reasonable surmise.)

Pomposity about Canadian values etc. etc. is the usual formulaic phrasing in Ottawa, but I wonder that no one seems to be questioning the application of another Canadian value, which is being straightforward with the Canadian people. From where I sit, the Canadian government was more than happy to let the US take Arar off their hands, and if the Syrians hadn't been so indiscreet as to release him, they could have continued with their denials and ignored claims that he was being tortured.

I'm not condoning the US role in this affair, but I am tired of Canada sending its security threats to the US for handling. If Canada isn't up to the job, then we are in real trouble.

Posted by Debbye at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 20 - John Burns

Nov. 20 - John Burns has an article in the NY Times on Witness: The New Iraq Is Grim, Hopeful and Still Scary. (I'm putting the whole thing here because NY Times links only have a 2 week life span.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 20 - Expat Yank

Nov. 20 - Expat Yank paid attention to the news of the day, and has good run downs on both the bombings in Istanbul and the President's visit. Start at the top, and keep scrolling. And he doesn't disappoint, and wonders if the reporters so focused on the demonstrations had even heard there were bombings in Turkey which were aimed at British interests and killed Britain's Consul-General, Roger Short.

F***ing CNN decided the main stories of the day to be the President's visit to England and the horrendous bombings in Istanbul the nose of Michael Jackson's airplane in a hanger and whatever they could turn up in Miami.

Were it not for the events in Istanbul, I would have giggled at the reporters in Miami trying to find a story. How freaking many reporters did CNN send, anyway?

MSNBC? Waiting on Jackson.

In desperation, I gritted my teeth and turned to the CBC and they too were awaiting the Freaky King of Pop. Back in my days of innocence, I would have expected the Canadian media to care about events in and about the UK, but my disillusion is now complete.

I'm am so royally furious. Damn the media some more.

Posted by Debbye at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 20 - A close

Nov. 20 - A close call in Kabul: Canuck patrol thwarts Kabul rocket attack. The Canadian forces in Kabul received a tip that a rocket attack on Camp Julien was imminent and where the rocket launcher was stored.

Two 107-mm rockets were found in a nearby palace, aimed at the camp, just as Defence Minister John McCallum arrived in Kabul, said deputy commanding officer Maj. Jamie Morse.

"They were set up, they had initiation sets attached to them," said Morse. "We assume they were ready to launch."

The same size rocket was used in a Sept. 11 attack against Camp Warehouse, the smaller of the two bases where Canadian soldiers are stationed in Kabul.

It seems almost sheer luck that soldiers were tipped and the rockets were found before they could be launched.

I disagree with that assessment by Terry Pedwell of the Canadian Press. Tips are not luck, they are the result of hard work in developing the trust of the people of Kabul so I give full credit and props to the troops there and the Smile and Wave campaign!
A Canadian Forces routine patrol was alerted to potential trouble by local Kabul residents, who warned that someone had been in the king's palace just hours before.

"We have patrols around the camp that do routine security sweeps," said [deputy commanding officer Maj. Jamie] Morse. "As one of the patrols was out, it was stopped by some of the local Afghans."

[...]Just moments before McCallum's arrival at Camp Julien, sirens were sounded and soldiers were told to scramble for their protective gear and take cover.

For almost four hours, troops, civilian workers and journalists at the camp huddled in the cold beneath reinforced concrete bunkers that were just recently constructed.

Once the all-clear was sounded, McCallum emerged to greet soldiers briefly at the camp's officers mess. He plans to address the troops today and go out on a patrol to get a first-hand account of their duties.

No snark from me about McCallum. He's there, and that is a definite improvement if it means the Liberal government is finally remembering those who volunteered to serve.

UPDATE: From Alpha Patriot, an interesting survey from Afghanistan shows 83% of those living in the eight stable regions feel safer now than they did 3 years ago and they are optimistic about the future.

Posted by Debbye at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 20 - The TTC

Nov. 20 - The TTC has delayed service cuts and fare hikes and asked for assistance from Queen's Park. As Counc. Howard Moscoe put it,

"The riders can know the buses, as infrequently as they come, will remain as infrequent," Moscoe said.

Posted by Debbye at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2003

Nov. 19 - I am

Nov. 19 - I am casting my vote very early in the New Blog Showcase because this one is so timely: Europe Hates America by Free Market Fairy Tales. I still am not sure why they go to all the trouble of hating us -- it sounds like a lot of effort and a bit psychotic to me -- but from my perch in Toronto I do know that the media here spreads a lot of misinformation about Americans and far too many Canadians gratefully and greedily accept those lies.

I also like O.P.M. by The New American Revolutionist. Good photo and better caption here.

Posted by Debbye at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - Expat Yank

Nov. 19 - Expat Yank is posting about Pres. Bush's trip with some well-aimed darts at the British press. Start here, then scroll up for the posts, including an excellent fisking of the BBC Reporter's log and the protests:

And ya gotta have an effigy. Your protest just ain't as cool as the one across the street if you ain't got an effigy. And it's gotta have a skeletal-like head . . . and don't forget the blood! Gotta have fake blood!
The Big Day for protesters is tomorrow.

Iain has a first-hand account, and Volokh shares some email.

I'm not counting on the BBC spotting people like Oliver Kamm and Michael Gove of The Times in the crowd although, Lord knows, they should stand out. God bless them.

Samizdata has a post on David Frum's editorial in the Telegraph (UK) here and a delightful post on the Caring People of London.

UPDATE: A blogger I literally just discovered, Free Market Fairy Tales, has a great, tongue-in-cheek complaint about The Decline of Great Britain:

So it gets to lunchtime & I wander over to the Five Stars Café for a sensible lunch (sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, chips; a side of toast, all washed down with a steaming mug of tea). Replete and at this point 150 yards from Grosvenor Square, I decide to find some protests. I mean we have had sirens & helicopters all morning. So anyway, I wander all about the security cordon looking for Stop The War Stromtoopers & Anti-Globalisation Soap Dodgers……nothing!

The only demo, the only flag I have seen, surrounded by a dozen Arabs, said,
“British Iraqis Support President Bush”

And that says it all.

Posted by Debbye at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - I just

Nov. 19 - I just finished listening to Pres. Bush's speech (text here) and it was excellent. He challenged nations to stand up to anti-Semitism and for European nations to stop supporting those who support terrorism (i.e., Arafat). CNN hastened to interview a French commentator -- why? The European Perspective is already infamous.


UPDATE: FOX coverage here, and CNN story here. I was a little excited when I first posted about the speech, and I didn't reiterate points that the President has made before about the need to bring freedom to the Mid-East (probably because I expected him to do so) but his comments on Arabat and the PA are, I think, the sharpest directed at the corruption in that body I've heard from the President to date. I haven't heard much commentary about the speech yet because CNN sucks and CBC blows (pardon the crudity).

They are still re-iterating the mantra "Europe is weary of war" bull. Poland is also war-weary, you know, and in fact is even more weary of dictatorships. Given that most of the people from the WWI era are dead one can only wonder how much longer this stupid theme will be repeated by stupid people. Oops, answered my own question again.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 AM | Comments (1)

Nov. 19 - I love

Nov. 19 - I love it when a Peter Worthington column comes complete with permalinks.

He sets the record straight on some facts about the WWI battle at Ypres misreported in a recent National Post column and touches on something that irritates me as well: deliberate misrepresentation of the poem "In Flanders Fields":

... I'd argue that John McCrae's powerful poem, In Flanders Fields, was not written in "disgust" at war, but with poignancy that the horrors endured would not be for naught. "If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields," seems an appeal to ensure the sacrifices made by our soldiers not be in vain.

Asper is correct when he notes that indeed we have broken faith with those who died -- and with those killed in later wars and during so-called peacekeeping missions into areas that reject peace.

Dr. McCrae was not a pacifist, but one who believed peace should be fought for. Sadly, his plea that the sacrifices -- including his own -- not be in vain were, in fact, in vain or ignored.

When democracies go to war, it is usually to uphold values we consider important, not for mere gain and conquest.

When we abjectly surrender those values, we betray those who died -- which is what McCrae and his generation dreaded most and which, I think, David Asper was also trying to convey.


UPDATE: I shoulda read the fine print. Although Peter doesn't have a web page, there is a page devoted to recent columns here. I highly recommend
Why condemn Israel for fighting back?

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - See the

Nov. 19 - See the difference it makes having Liberal government at the provincial level? Their Liberal counterparts in Ottawa increase the offer by $80 million for SARS relief.

"This is good news for the people of Ontario," Premier Dalton McGuinty said. "It's giving evidence to the fact we've established a better working relationship that is serving the interests of Ontario."
No, Dalton, it's bad news for Ontario and indeed Canada, because the Feds are parcelling out money according to political formulas, not merit or need. I doubt voters in Canada misunderstand the nature of the directive the Feds have sent about which party it's in their better interests to vote for provincially or, for that matter, locally.

Posted by Debbye at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - The Toronto

Nov. 19 - The Toronto police have New leads in Cecilia case. A reminder: Anyone with information about Cecilia Zhang (photo and background in link) should call the hotline at 416-808-8390 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Posted by Debbye at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - Am I

Nov. 19 - Am I reading this right? (TTC planning service cuts):

[Counc. Howard Moscoe] was reacting to a leaked TTC document outlining service cuts to take effect in January. They would reduce service on both the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth subway lines as well as 50 surface routes.

TTC chief general manager Rick Ducharme said the cuts are necessary to reduce the operating budget by $6 million.

Ridership numbers for this year are estimated to drop to 404 million from a target of 410 million, Ducharme said. The TTC hopes to hit 412 million next year.

"If ridership numbers increase, service could be increased ... in February or March," Ducharme said.

Is the TTC chief general manager suggesting that if ridership increases after they cut services, then they will restore services?

Observe the timing, which is to cut services in the heart of winter, because everyone knows that the prospect of waiting longer for a bus and enduring freezing blasts of wind makes taking "the better way" much more appealing.

Posted by Debbye at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - The Canadian

Nov. 19 - The Canadian Islamic Congress issued a statement saying Don't talk to police, Muslims warned. The title of this article is a little misleading, and is merely a repeat of the advice given to Canadian Muslims shortly after Sept 11 when they advised that people don't have to agree to being questioned by the RCMP or CSIS.

However, being an optimistic type of person, I noted a small but significant aspect of the warning:

Be wary of new acquaintances who suddenly take a strong interest in their families, and avoid financially supporting or endorsing organizations whose purposes are not completely familiar; (Emphasis added)
UPDATE: Paul takes a dim view of those who do not want to assist. (He can, because he's a Canadian speaking on an Canadian issue, whereas I'm just an Arrogant Ammurican!)

Posted by Debbye at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 19 - From the

Nov. 19 - From the Guardian (UK) a report on a recent poll which shows Protests begin but majority backs Bush visit as support for war surges: a substantial majority of the British continue to support the action in Iraq and affirm that the British people believe that coaltion forces must remain to help stabilize the country.

There are gender and age gaps: women and people over 65 are less supportive, and the all-important "twentysomethings" welcome Pres. Bush.

A majority of Labour voters welcome President George Bush's state visit to Britain which starts today, according to November's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world". It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the "evil empire" in the world.


The ICM poll also uncovers a surge in pro-war sentiment in the past two months as suicide bombers have stepped up their attacks on western targets and troops in Iraq. Opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters. At the same time those who believe the war was justified has jumped 9 points to 47% of voters.

The detailed results of the poll show that more people - 43% - say they welcome George Bush's arrival in Britain than the 36% who say they would prefer he did not come.

Labour voters are more enthusiastic about the visit than Tory voters. But it is only Liberal Democrats who are marginally more unhappy about his arrival, with 43% against and 39% willing to welcome him. A majority of "twentysomethings" welcome Mr Bush. Hostility is strongest amongst the over-65s. There is a clear gender gap in attitudes with a majority of men - 51% - welcoming the president's arrival, compared with only 35% of women.

Pro-Americanism, as might be expected, is strongest among Tory voters with 71% saying the US is a force for good. But it is nearly matched by the 66% of Labour voters who say the US is a force for good. Anti-Americanism is strongest among Liberal Democrat voters but is still only shared by 24% of them and the majority see the US as the "good guys".

Read the whole thing. Polls continue to show that the US is not as isolated as the press would have us believe.

(Via Neale News.)

UPDATE: David Frum has an interesting column about the relationship between Blair and Bush, and notes how often Pres. Bush has gone the extra mile to accomodate PM Blair's wishes, especially to delay the Iraq action in attempts to involve the UN and their different views about the political structure of post-war Iraq. He also makes this point:

... But what has to be understood by everyone, British and American, is that along with Australia, Britain has been, is now, and will continue to be America's indispensable ally not because its prime minister is weak, but because the British nation remains so strong. Together, the Anglo-Australian-American alliance can guarantee not only the peace of the world, but also liberty and human rights. No three other nations -- no 163 other nations -- can say the same. This state visit is honouring no one individual, not even an American president. It is instead intended to reaffirm for the 21st century the grand alliance that saved democracy in the 20th.... (Emphasis added.)
PM Chretien and Chirac are disparaging of the "anglosphere", but, as of now, it is the only hope for the future of free people.

UPDATE: And then there's a different poll from the Times here which has totally different results.

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

Nov. 17 - Yes indeed,

Nov. 17 - Yes indeed, it's time for another Precision Guided Humour Assignment, and this time is What were Uday's and/or Kusay's last words?

What do you mean the bathroom doesn't have a back door?

You mean I shaved for nothing?

Kusay to Uday: This is all your fault. I told you that lion was a bad idea. Now PETA's pissed off too.

Posted by Debbye at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2003

Nov. 17 - I love

Nov. 17 - I love it when someone who actually knows how the military works unloads on those who don't. Case in point, Baldilocks, who has had enough and is calling some lefties out.

Start with ChickenHawk--It's What's for Dinner and make the point that if only those who have served in the military are competent to make judgements about war, then the vast majority of the anti-war types must, by definition, shut up.

Next she takes on those who insist on claiming Pres. Bush was AWOL in Again with This Bovine Excrement and concludes with a good use of logic:

Could someone explain to me how someone "dodges the draft" by joining the military? That's more than tortured logic. That's logic dropped into Saddam's People Shredder.
Now to Yes, I'm Still Ranting (but don't stop now, Baldilocks! This is fan-tabulous)

She takes on the Claims of the Pious that they care about the troops.

“We want the troops to come home where they’ll be safe.” If we wanted to be safe, we would have stayed home in South Central LA (snort) or stayed home and gotten one of those nice jobs in one of those nice tall office buildings in Lower Manhattan.

Leaving aside that 9/11 resoundingly disproved the assertion that one is “safe” here, this last is the most condescending, hypocritical crap that I’ve heard said about American troops in Iraq. Since the abolition of the Draft a generation ago, American military personnel have volunteered to fight America’s wars. It’s called free will. But the Left thinks the military is populated by people too stupid to choose how to live their own lives.

I guess many members of the Left think the military is made up of barely literate yokels from Middle and Southern America or barely literate thugs/thugettes from America’s inner cities. Us dumb “rednecks” and “darkies” couldn’t possibly have a handle on the intricacies of Fascism, Imperialism, and Nazism, since all we read are comic books.

We couldn’t possibly have joined up or stayed in the military as a result of informed, principled decision making, made after a detailed evaluation of history and/or present day world events. We couldn’t possibly have been well-informed and come to a conclusion that is different from that of the Left. We all must be dumb and/or ignorant.

Trust me when I say that's only a snippet. It's all very good.

Read 'em. Relish. Enjoy. Whoop and hollar.

Posted by Debbye at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2003

Nov. 16 - Another long

Nov. 16 - Another long day at work, so I'll skip posting and check around the 'sphere.

Paul has some bad news and some good news about Iraq. Seems some Palestinians in Syria believed their future lay in joining the terrorists in Iraq. But read on for the good news about reality setting in for those with Nothing but spare time on their hands...

Smug Canadian points out that military bloggers outdo the media every time and has some good advice for the Pentagon media handlers. Yep, the blogosphere has our its embeds who happen to be soldiers.

Jack has a post about the UN's attempt to assume power the internet that will horrify everyone who loves the freedom of this medium: Urgent: UN Trying To Get Their Hands On The Internet. No, this is not a joke. Countries that do not respect freedom of speech want to regulate the internet which would mean stifle the freedom of the internet

Father of Max (aka Jay Currie) is back, and has some posts that should be read. There's an analysis of the challenge to Republicans posed by us South Park Republicans, and one on the challenge faced by Paul Martin in forging a new relationship with the US.

He also has a scathing inditement (J'accuse!) of the scandal at the defunct Report Magazine whereby they failed to honour pay-out committments to their former employees but did invent The Citizens Centre. I hesitate to comment on any of it because I had never heard of Report Magazine until it ceased publication, and never have heard of the Citizens Centre except in the context of Report Magazine stiffing its employees. I guess I'm like too many people east of Manitoba . . . regionalism in Canada is a lot different than in the US, and since I live in Ontario, or what many (sarcastically) call The Center of the World, it's a problem of which I can grasp the edges but not the internals.

Moving Target reports some new hair-splitting: Reuters denies existance of any terrorist attacks in Israel. He, like many of us, is blogspotted, so admire the twins (and they are cute) and scroll down.

News Junkie Canada is all over the ongoing merger efforts. The memberships in the Progressive Conservatives are up, and I know a number of people (including family members) who have taken out memberships because they are thrilled at the prospect of joining a conservative party minus Red Tories. I don't think either the Liberal Party or the Progressive Conservatives rightly understand the mood of the electorate these days. They've been talking to themselves for too long and not listening to Canadians. IMO, of course.

Can you say longshot? Lottery players and knowledgeable math gurus should read this breakdown which explains the odds on winning. David makes it sound so easy . . . or not.

Tim exposes one of the biggest lies during the mayoral -- the hysteria generated over building the bridge to Toronto Island by our incoming mayor.

Rugged Intellectual slams Chretien and Bono and lauds Keith Richards. What can I say? He has great taste!

The Essay reports one of those things that defies common sense (she does a lot of that) but my reading is that it poses the urgent question: What's the difference between a map and a work of art? I'm just weird; when I see what is usually produced by recipients of government art grants, I can't help thinking I'd actually prefer a map. But Alaska is ours! We even paid for it. With money.

UPDATE: Ask, and it shall be given! The Essay answers some of the questions about regionalism I posed above. It isn't exactly reassuring, especially as it confirms some of my private conclusions. There are a lot of things I want to be wrong about.

Anthony has some disturbing job opportunities for women like Sharon Stone and Jenna Elfman. He also joins a growing number of people who want to Make Frank J. Famous. I think this is an Official Worthy Cause.

Ending the tour in Nova Scotia, Mike cites some review of Master and Commander as well as some US reaction to Paul Martin.

Good night to you all. Be safe.

Posted by Debbye at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 16 - Time to

Nov. 16 - Time to cast votes for The New Blog Showcase. In no particular order:

David Lynch to Bring World Peace - 'It Could Happen This Year' a dry account of film director David Lynch's plans to bring world peace by meditating and the energy of their meditating will bring peace. Lynch is an Original, all right. I read some of the other posts at The Daily Ablution and he has maintains that same level of dry humour. Good stuff.

Collected Miscellany is a collection of book reviews. He reviewed "Prime Obsession" by John Derbyshire and the New Blog Showcase entry is an interview with the author which was quite interesting and revealed John Derbyshire to have a great many interests and confesses that he's a dilettante. I'll never get math, but I do get people who indulge their curiousity.

Ruminations in Korea is by an American working and living in S. Korea. His entry A Blessing and a Curse is an account of how knowing the Korean language also means you understand what people are saying about you. His site also has a lot of reportage from Korean newspapers and worth reading. fires some shots back at Al Gore who is complaining about the Patriot Act in The misleading statements of a misleading misleader. The title of the post says it all.

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 AM | Comments (1)

November 15, 2003

Nov. 15 - Ramadan this

Nov. 15 - Ramadan this year has been marked by several terrorist attacks, and this item was somewhat buried because of this mornings' bombs in Istanbul: Fire of suspect origin partially destroys Jewish school in France

PARIS (AP) - A pre-dawn fire Saturday that destroyed part of a suburban Jewish school was likely an anti-Semitic act, France's interior minister said.
Ya think?
No injuries were reported in the blaze at the Merkaz Hatorah private school, located in suburban Gagny in the Seine-Saint-Denis region. About 100 firefighters were called in to put out the flames, which destroyed some 3,000 square metres on the school's second floor where work was underway, officials at the local prefecture said. The area was not being used by students.

The fire started in two separate places, local officials said.

"The criminal origin of the blaze is more than strongly suspected which gives, for this Jewish school, an anti-Semitic and obviously racist connotation," said Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy during a visit to the fire site.

"This shows that there is still lots of work to do to fight against all forms of anti-Semitism," the minister added.

Posted by Debbye at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)

Toronto's $1million payout to departing politicians

Nov. 15 - In a not-terribly-suprising reaction to the $1 million payout Torontonian will have to pay to departing councillors, the mayor and staff, the reaction has been swift. The payout is not limited to defeated incumbents but also to those who chose not to run. Ain't public service grand? Monetary pay-outs are detailed in the article.

Some side-hurrahs are owed to Etobicoke Couns. Rob Ford and Doug Holyday (whose penny-pinching ways with their office budgets so infuriated their fellow councillors that a special resolution was passed at City Council in an effort to get those councillors to bill the city more) and have weighed in strongly against the pay-outs.

But some kind of special honourary award should be given to this man:

Councillor Fred Dominelli said he will not pocket his $3,578 cheque because he did not stand for re-election.

"I don't think I deserve the money and I don't want it," said Dominelli, who was appointed to fill Disero's seat in May. "I just got appointed and I feel guilty for taking the money from taxpayers."

But he won't leave the money in the city's coffers. He'll to donate it to a church that can't afford insurance.

"If I leave it with the city, the city will blow it on some foolish thing," he said. (Emphasis added)

That quote should be immortalized, say by engraving it over the entrance to City Hall.
Dominelli is challenging the rest of the outgoing council not to accept their severance cheques or to donate them to charity.

Tim Ivanyshyn, manager of council services, said yesterday none of the departing councillors has so far said no to the payout.

Posted by Debbye at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 15 - Newsworthy for

Nov. 15 - Newsworthy for everyone outside of Canada: Paul takes reins as Bono looks on. Martin intends to meet with provincial premiers at tomorrow's Grey Cup.

Great! Now I'll have this image of a federal-provincial tail gate party to get me through the day.
CNN is headlining the story on this as Canada picks leader-in-waiting and notes the family history:

The result fulfilled a dream the 65-year-old Martin shared with his late father -- also a longtime Liberal Cabinet minister named Paul.

Martin's father died in 1992 after a 33-year political career in which he was known as a champion of social legislation, but failed twice to become Liberal leader and prime minister.

Yes, I am grateful to Paul Martin for one thing: since he entered the leadership race, the Canadian media ceased their snide reference to George W.'s unresolved Oedipal complex and other aspersions on his relationship to the other Pres. Bush. The American press hasn't responded in kind, at least not directly . . .

Greg Weston points out Canadians still don't know where Martin stands on the issues, and even though elected, is making vague promises and uttering platitudes.

Critics from the Canadian Alliance and NDP denounced the convention as too glitzy and lacking content. The NDP critic noted that the workshops at the convention were dedicated to election strategies rather than any debates on issues.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the usual stuff. Among the few ideas Martin has put forth are support for the missile shield and chairing a permanent cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, create a Commons committee on troublesome bilateral issues and steer a course around stalled decision-making at the United Nations.

Stalled decision-making at the UN? Are there any other kinds? As NY Post columnist Ralph Peters pointed out, Life is not eternal, but UN projects are so allow me to snark and wish that this committee would also steer a course around UN projects, which could be very interesting if Jean Chretien, best known for departure-dithering, actually takes a post with the UN.

The above article does remember that Martin talked about a bigger defence budget. How about a real Minister of Defence, Paul? That might help, and do try to pick one who knows the difference between Vichy and Vimy if only for the sake of some credibility.

The Better Paul wants to know when Bono got so interested in Canadian politics and a few other things.

Mike isn't as suprised at Bono's participation, suggesting that fighting AIDS and helping Africa is still his priority and that his inclusion in the convention might signal Martin's willingness to involve Canada more.

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 15 - Bombings at

Nov. 15 - Bombings at Istanbul Synagogues Kill 15, injure 123: Two car bombs were set off simultaneously in front of two synagogues during Sabbath prayers, one in front of Neve Shalom Synagogue and the other in front of Beth Israel Synagogue. The Neve Shalom Synagogue is the most important spiritual center for the Jewish community in Turkey. No one inside it was injured in the blast.

An outlawed Turkish radical group called the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front claimed responsibility in a phone call to the semiofficial Anatolia news agency.

The caller said "the attacks would continue in the future and the reason was that to prevent the oppression against Muslims," Anatolia said.

A statement full of grim irony as most of the casualties appeared to be of residents of the area. These death cultists don't seem to care who they kill so long as they kill.

Turkish officials are not ruling out al Qaeda as the perpetuator, and a private television station quoted police as saying that recent intelligence reports indicated al Qaeda may have been preparing to strike in Turkey.

According to the CNN Report, Turkey's Prime Minister condemned the attack and was leaving Cyprus immediately to return to Turkey. The Israeli ambassador to Turkey was also said to be on his way to Istanbul from Ankara.

UPDATE: On air, CNN just increased the death toll to 16 and the FOX website has it at 17.

Posted by Debbye at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2003

Nov. 14 - Trouble in

Nov. 14 - Trouble in Germany, as yet another inevitable problem has arisen by trying to circumvent Darwin: rare birds devour rare fish. It seems the cormorants have made a comeback in Bavaria and are feeding on rare grayling and pearl fish unique to that region, so officials now propose killing the not-so-rare cormorants to save the becoming-more-rare fish.

So was it not foreseen that if you increased the predator population that more fish would be consumed?

I do believe in conservation, but I also wish the people running these groups had a bit more common sense or at least a grip on eco-system reality. When mere humans try to play God by messing with the food chain, much wackiness is bound to ensue not to mention severe migraines.

It's called the food chain because that's exactly what it is: a chain composed of links, each inextricably connected to the next. Us older folk simplify such matters by thinking in terms of cause and effect. Others may call it just good old common sense, even though we all know good sense is far from common.

We've already had too many fires made worse by regulations forbidding the clearing of dry brush near homes and towns (which is going to play havoc with Canadian attempts to fulfill Kyoto obligations) and the cessation of the seal hunt has contributed to declining fish stocks.

I noticed earlier in the week that the ban on bear hunts in Ontario is going to be lifted, although officials hastened to say it wasn't due to nuisance bears (nice spin on a dangerous situation!) but because too much revenue was being lost as bear hunters no longer visited Canada to, you know, hunt bears.

And they figured out that out . . . how? And didn't anticipate that . . . because?

All this can and should be referred to the Duh Department, but that department is woefully understaffed and I doubt any level of govenment is going to rectify that any time soon.

If I seem grumpy, blame it on Paul and his musings on the Idiotification of Society (part II here) and Jack who claims that the recent wind and snow storms here was Mother Nature's opinion of the Liberal convention.

Aw heck, it's Friday and I'm not yet at the Thank God part. I have to go to work, but be sure and participate in a Successful Study being run by The Essay about housework and steps needed to be taken in a 24-hour period for the perfect house.

I already contributed my thoughts which involved ways to avoid housework by shifting it over to somebody else but if I had thought it through I probably would have suggested making everyone who lives here move out including the cats. Especially the cats, and insisting they take their dratted cat hair with them.

You shed it, you clean it. Yet another common sense solution from yours truly. Adios!

Posted by Debbye at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 14 - Two new

Nov. 14 - Two new talking action figures are available.

Ladies first: the Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure. Now, I have to admit I like Ann Coulter. I know she's sometimes over the top, but so is Michael Moore and at least Ann Coulter is funny (and sane.)

My favourite, however, is the Donald H. Rumsfeld Tallking Action Figure. It too has some of his better known sayings, but I don't see his memorable "Knowables-Unknowables" definitions or one of my personal favourites "The Pentagon said? The Pentagon is a building. Buildings can't speak" or the wilted response when he challenged reporters during a DoD briefing by asking "Just who do you consider a senior Pentagon spokesman" and the reporter hesitantly said "You?"

(I guess mentioning the "Old Europe" dismissal wouldn't be diplomatic with the upcoming visit to Britian by the President.)

It may well be that previous Defense Secretaries had fan clubs or Yahoo! message boards (although I doubt it) but it's been a long time since America had a Secretary of War Defense the stature of Rumsfeld, and he will be remembered long after his predecessors are notations at the back of American history textbooks.

Posted by Debbye at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 14 - You all

Nov. 14 - You all read Lileks, right? Well, don't miss today's Bleat, err, or maybe Howl? As in Howl Against The Storm? Because he's dashed off a beauty.

On the French:

Here’s your nuanced approach, right here – Free Speech, oui, but not if it humiliates. The country that gave the world Voltaire is telling us the right to free speech doesn’t include the right to be scornful?
Slam. Dunk.

Posted by Debbye at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Balancing the budgets

Nov. 14 - The Canadian Surplus shrinks to $1.6B for the first half of the fiscal year (April-September) which is somewhat less than the $4.6 billion recorded in the same period last year.

In Ontario, it seems there was a slight miscalculation by the incoming Liberal government for a projected deficit (as in the departing Tory government had balanced the budget as they had claimed) and there would in fact be a small surplus instead of a shortfall of $5.6-billion for the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2004.

[Finance Minister Greg] Sorbara had said a day earlier that a final accounting would show 2002-03 ended up in the red to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars despite boasts by the Tories of a $524-million surplus.

"I double-checked my information and I wasn't entirely accurate," Mr. Sorbara said in an interview.

While the projected excess has "shrunk very significantly," there is likely still "a small surplus, not a deficit," he said, adding the books have yet to be closed on the year.

But even as one hand gives, the other is quick to take away. Toronto taxpayers may need to pay out over $1 million in severance pay to departing city councillors and their staff.
"Oh, my gosh," said budget committee member Jane Pitfield, who never figured the payouts would be so high. "Taxpayers would be shocked that so much money is being wasted."
I think Torontonians are way beyond shocked, but thank you for thinking of us.
"This is just highway robbery," bristled penny-pinching councillor Rob Ford, adding that councillors and their staff take the job knowing it could last only three years. "I guess we're not in such rough shape after all," said Ford, referring to the city's financial situation.

Councillors and the mayor are entitled to a month's pay for every year of service, over and above their pensions, up to a maximum one year's pay.

Note the inclusion of the phrase "above their pensions." Yes, they get a sizeable pension for being on the job for three years, but that's a scandal older than me.

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 14 - A series

Nov. 14 - A series of concerts will be held for the 2,000 Canadian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan featuring Canadian artists and comedians including Dave Broadfoot.

"I have always believed if we expect others to put their lives at risk on our behalf, then we have an obligation as performers to back them up," Mr. Broadfoot said. "It's part of our job."

The tour, a series of seven shows for the Canadian contingent to the International Security Assistance Force, begins next week and runs until Dec. 5.

"I think everyone can relate to homesickness and isolation," Mr. Verrault said. [Shaun Verrault is the lead singer for rock band Wide Mouth Mason.] "We're going to try to bring familiarity to some folks who have been far from home for a long time."

Spokesmen for the military said they were overwhelmed by offers from Canadian entertainers volunteering to make the long trip to Afghanistan after the National Post wrote about the struggle to put together entertainment for the troops on a limited budget.


Sponsored in part by the Royal Canadian Legion, the shows will play to audiences that could swell to more than 4,000, depending upon the number of allied troops who take in the performances. (Emphasis added)

The shows will be held at Camp Julien, the main base for the Canadian contingent in Kabul; Camp Warehouse, the ISAF headquarters in the Afghan capital; and at Camp Mirage, the Persian Gulf support base for the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.

The Legion again shows its committment to those who are serving.

Good on those entertainers who are eager to go to Afghanistan. Please let the troops know that Canadians do support and are proud of them.

Posted by Debbye at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

Maher Arar

Nov. 14 - Canada's Solicitor General Wayne Easter is going to warn US Att. Gen. John Ashcroft that the US must respect Canada's values and human rights standards in the way it handles intelligence from the RCMP or CSIS. This is in response to the deportation over a year ago of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen from Syria was was picked up at a New York airport during a stopover en route to Canada.

Arar is suspected of being a terrorist and of plotting to bomb the American Embassy in Ottawa. While under detention in Syria, Arar claims he was tortured (I tend to believe him) but was abruptly released and returned to Canada the day after the US vetoed a UNSC resolution condemning Israel for bombing a terrorist training camp in Syria. (The timeline is true, the connection is mine.)

The Canadian government had shrugged off criticism and accusations of torture while Arar was in Syria, but belatedly

Prime Minister Jean Chretien has lambasted the U.S. for sending the Canadian citizen to Syria, and asked two key cabinet ministers to find out if Canadian officials shared information with the U.S.
What took him so long? These questions were raised in the Commons at the time of Arar's deportation and immediately after his release and shrugged off. Forgive me if I regard this as cynical political posturing. Many people, including me, expressed deep reservations about the deportation when it happened, arguing that if he really was a terrorist, he belonged in an American or Canadian jail, not in a country known to abuse human rights.

The part that irritates me is not that criticism is directed at the US (I too am critical) but the failure to criticize countries that have held Canadians -- Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia -- and hold them now -- Egypt -- with nary a peep from those sworn to uphold Canadian values and human rights standards.

The Canadian government has not criticized the Syrian government for holding him without charges and torturing him. We're told this is soft diplomacy. Makes a lot of sense to use hard diplomacy with the US and soft diplomacy with dictatorships because . . well, actually, it doesn't. Using soft diplomacy with known violators of human rights is simply not consistent with Canadian values and human rights standards but is consistent with hypocrisy and more suggestive of a European approach.

The are still a lot of questions about the deportation of Arar, the biggest one being why the US would deport him. According to the Toronto Sun,

American media reports have also suggested Arar was the subject of a CIA "extraordinary rendition," which sends terrorist suspects to rogue nations to extract information through torture.
Other possibilities raised were that it was part of some sort of exchange, either of prisoners or of information. Or even a good-faith gesture when there were still hopes that Syria would actually be a partner in the war on terror.

The other big question is why the Syrians wanted him. In my nastier moments I've thought it was maybe to give him a medal or develop a working relationship with him as Syria's partnership in the war on terror is uneven at best and blatant double-dealing at worst. Arar left Syria when he was young, so it's doubtful it was for anything he actually did while in Syria.

All in all, this affair does manage to cast a better light on the facility at Guantanamo. A number of Middle East countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, have demanded that their citizens be returned to face justice in their home countries, which would include detention without charges, torture, and possbily execution and the US has refused to comply.

As for the threatened scolding, I think John Ashcroft can handle it. It might have meant something in September, 2002, but a year late is more than a loonie short.

Posted by Debbye at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

Merge Alberta and Saskatchewan?

Nov. 14 - Maybe I mocked discussions over merging France and Germany prematurely because there is an article about two think-tank men who are seriously weighing benefits of a merger between Alberta and Saskatchewan.

While melding oil-rich Alberta with agriculture-based Saskatchewan could help the economies of both provinces decades down the road, a study into the idea of uniting Wild Rose Country with the Land of the Living Skies found there are likely too many political barriers -- especially since Albertans have little to gain.

"It really would be a trade-off as opposed to an absolute benefit," said University of Calgary economist Herb Emery.

"While it would make Saskatchewan a 'have' province, it would cost Alberta money. So the question is: Why would Alberta want to do this?"

In a report released by the C.D. Howe Institute Wednesday, Emery and fellow U of C economics professor Ronald Kneebone, concluded creating a "super-province" out of Alberta and Saskatchewan could eventually lead to benefits related to a larger population and economy and less repetition in government and bureaucracy.

That sounds familiar; hmm, wasn't that why Etobicoke was forced to amalgamate with Toronto? That hasn't turned out very well . . . now Toronto is massively in debt. Oh well, they'll just raise taxes again.
Such a merger would also put about $200 a year into the pockets of Saskatchewan residents while taking away about the same amount from Albertans, as Alberta would have to assume Saskatchewan's debt while sharing its oil and gas revenues with almost one million more people.
I was happy to assume that the proponents of this merger don't follow socio-political news in Canada, but I was wrong.
While Emery and Kneebone looked at the economic implications of erasing the border, they noted the political differences between Saskatchewan's long-time New Democrat government and staunchly Tory Alberta may prove to be too much to overcome-- a sentiment echoed by Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert.
Is it just me, or did Emery and Kneebone overlook a fairly strong streak of rugged individualism in Alberta that isn't matched in Saskatchewan? At attitude and way of life that is totally at odds with the social democracy favoured in the latter province?

On a serious note, the "brain drain" out of Saskatchewan is a big problem, as it's the only province that regularly loses more people than it gains, usually to Alberta, mostly due to lack of opportunities for young people.

Saskatoon activist Wayne Eyre, who is an advocate of a single government for all four provinces, said while a merger may not be possible at the moment, many Saskatchewan residents believe the province should adopt Alberta's more business-friendly attitude.

"The NDP didn't get a majority of the popular vote in the last election. We have rich uranium, oil and gas, potash and diamond reserves and lots of abundant, affordable ranchland and there are many thousands of people who say the government should get out of the way and let people rock 'n' roll," Eyre said.

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Calgaree?

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 13 - The UN

Nov. 13 - The UN Ambassador from Chile, Heraldo Munoz, said that member countries are failing to cooperate and enforce UN sanctions against groups and individuals named as terrorists. (U.N.: Al Qaeda sanctions failing) Amb. Munoz is also the chairman of an al Qaeda sanctions committee.

Posted by Debbye at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 13 - There's three

Nov. 13 - There's three ways to approach a tragedy of epic proportions: ignore it and hope it goes away, indulge in solemn and vague tut-tutting about human tragedy, or resolve to never allow it to happen again. Guess which approach Kofi Annan and the UN favour . . . but as Paul notes in Unfortunately for Uncle Kofi... a newly released book by Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, "Shake Hands with the Devil" firmly takes the third path.

Posted by Debbye at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

French bribery gone awry

Nov. 14 - Some things are beyond commentary. Certainly a number of companies have been found guilty of paying bribes in order to get juicy contracts, but for a company to be set up by a government with the bribe-paying apparatus explicitly included in its organizational structure is somewhat unusual: Elf executives are jailed over 210m 'black box' fraud

France's longest-running political and corporate corruption scandal ended yesterday with prison sentences and fines for 23 former executives at the Elf oil company and their associates.

Loik le Floch-Prigent, 57, Elf's chief executive between 1989 and 1993, authorised the embezzlement of 210 million while Elf was state-owned. The money went on bribes for politicians and middlemen and lavish lifestyles for senior Elf executives.

He was jailed for five years and fined 260,000.

Nadhmi Auchi, a British billionaire, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and fined 1.4 million. Auchi, who fled his native Iraq under Saddam Hussein, was found guilty of accepting illegal commissions from Elf worth 50 million.

He turned himself in to French authorities in May after Britain refused to extradite him for the trial.

In their ruling, the judges said: "At the time, Elf was a public company, owned by all French citizens, who can indirectly consider themselves victims of the offences."

Elf was created by General de Gaulle as a rival to British and US oil companies overseas. He allowed it to have a "black box" of secret funds, enabling the company to pay bribes for contracts.

But political parties came to see the black box as an excellent means of funding.

In the trial, Le Floch-Prigent said he approached President Mitterrand in 1989, anxious about the legality of the 3.5 million paid each year from the black box to political parties. Mitterrand told him: "Let's carry on with what General de Gaulle set up."

When Mitterrand's golfing partner was forced to sell his house near the course where they played each Monday, the president had Elf buy it for its property portfolio and then pay all the bills while his friend continued to live there.

Le-Floch Prigent embezzled 11 million during his tenure, paying for his divorce, with Mitterrand's approval, and buying himself a 6 million flat and a chateau. His ex-wife, Fatima Belaid, received a 700,000 fine and a three-year suspended sentence.

Alfred Sirven, 76, a former number two at Elf, bought a chateau and a villa with Elf money. He was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 700,000. Andre Tarallo, 76, once in charge of Elf's African arm, embezzled 30 million and was jailed for four years.

So the problem wasn't that the company paid bribes, it was that company officials bribed themselves.

Posted by Debbye at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 17 - Uniting disparate

Nov. 17 - Uniting disparate groups is just not as easy as it is cracked up to be. (No, I am not an expert, but I lived in Toronto during its amalgamation which was supposed to be a real money-saver by bringing city services under one umbrella (ha!) and believe me when I say that some experiences really should be limited to once-in-a-lifetime.) But do our good friends and allies the French ever listen to me? Take this, if you please: France and Germany aim for union to challenge US:

France is threatening to unite with Germany to maintain their influence in an enlarged European Union and strengthen their common front against the United States, according to reports yesterday.

Foreign minister Dominique de Villepin was quoted by Le Monde speaking explicitly about "Franco-German union" and to have called the further deepening of ties between the countries "the one historic challenge we cannot lose".

Mandatory snark: and when has that ever stopped you from losing historic challenges?
Le Monde gave most of its first three pages to reports on the proposed union, noting that it was an idea whose time might have come.

Pascal Lamy, one of France's EU commissioners, spoke enthusiastically of the idea in Le Monde. He said it could start with the unification of France and Germany's diplomatic services and the sharing of France's permanent seat on the United Nations security council.

M Lamy said: "A Franco-German parliament could focus on whatever the EU and the German regional parliaments do not cover." This would include foreign and defence policy, economic and social policy and research.

The details of further union are yet to be sketched out but are likely to include foreign, defence, economic and social policy.

So, what does that mean for the future of the 35-hour work week, month-long vacation, and early retirement for French workers?

Of course, both countries are such serious economic difficulty that they unilaterally breached EU rules about deflation and living within their budgets. Some might conclude quite logically that if they joined forces they would be stronger, but are we observing two countries that behave logically? Or is it likely to be a repeat of the Toronto example whereby continual appeasement of unions and special interest groups have resulted in a $344 million budget shortfall?

Of course, it's not about the economy, stupid; it's about French influence:

The leaking of his [M Lamy] remarks to a Paris think-tank was designed to underline French determination not to be sidelined by American power and its inevitable loss of influence when the EU expands from 15 to 25 members in May.

But France also hopes to put pressure on Britain to dilute its transatlantic relationship in favour of Europe. Paris is determined to press the rest of Europe into accepting the new EU constitution put forward by the former French president, Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

Senior French diplomats concede that they have given up on their relationship with America as long as President Bush remains in office. Since opposing the war in Iraq, France has been ignored in Washington and Paris says its attempts at reconciliation have failed.

Well, lookee here. The French and I agree on something with only a minor difference: I've given up on the relationship between America and France forever.
All its diplomatic energies, therefore, are now focused on Europe and in particular on prising Britain away from America. With Britain won over, France and Germany believe they can dominate the enlarged Union.


Paris and Berlin are deeply worried about the future of the European project, which has always rested on the relationship between the two countries.

The French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said recently: "If the Europe of 25 fails, what is there left for France? Just the Franco-German rapprochement."

Paris has been infuriated by the attacks on the proposed constitution by Spain and Poland in particular. Senior officials have said they fear this is a sign of the Europe to come, one in which France and Germany struggle to hold sway.

In an interview published on Tuesday, France's Europe minister, Noelle Lenoir, said the Franco-German alliance was vital to "facing the challenge of enlargement. Those who want to go a little faster than the others must be able to do so, as was the case with the euro, without being held back."

The two countries, dismissed as "Old Europe" by US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were brought closer by opposition to war in Iraq. But they have also found common purpose on a range of issues including reform of the Common Agricultural Policy on terms favourable to the French. (Emphasis added)

The idea of Franco-German union has been popular among political thinkers in the two countries for some time. Up to now, however, its leading politicians have been cautious about evoking it for fear of a popular backlash. Recent polls in both countries, however, have shown growing trust in each other and suspicion of the United States.

Because when the only thing you have going for you is your ability to fan the flames of anti-Americanism, it only makes sense to capitalize on it. If only Napoleon had thought of it . . .

Of course, if the French and Germans read the British press as I do, they would have known months ago that the momentum against adopting both the euro and the EU constitution was growing, and the more the Labour government tried to duck hard questions about its impact on British sovereignty, the greater the Euroskeptic case grew.

But like I said, the French never listen to me.

Posted by Debbye at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

Iran and the IAEA inspectors

Sept. 13 - Seems like you just can't please some folks. Even after highly-respected retired weapons inspector Hans Blix gave Iran his usual "I don't see nuthin' suspicious" free pass, it seems Iran is warning the UN that an international crisis will occur if the IAEA refers the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council.

It seems Iran is not happy at the possibility of having sanctions imposed for non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

I don't know why it would bother them. It isn't as though others (cough*Saddam*cough) didn't find French, Russian, and German companies willing to do business and violate sanctions with enthusiasm.

And heavens knows the French and German economies need the boost.

Yeah, I hold a grudge. I hold certain grudges a long, long time, particularly when the US is likely to be demonized for whatever suffering may occur to Iranians because of sanctions even as certain countries and the UN reap mega-profits from the imaginative bookeeping that could occur.

We can save on letterhead expenses by calling it Oil-For-Palaces, The Sequel. Maybe I should send the Khatami government TotalFinaElf's telephone number, you know, just in case.

Who me, bitter?

Posted by Debbye at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 13 - On the

Nov. 13 - On the heels of the announcement that PM Chretien is stepping down on Jan. 12 comes the results of a SES/Sun Media poll that reveals that when asked to name 3 major accomplishments of Chretien's time as Prime Minister, 51% of Canadians couldn't name a single one.

Refusing to send Canadian troops to war in Iraq was mentioned as an important accomplishment by 11% of Canadians surveyed. Almost 10% said Chretien doesn't have a legacy while 8.9% said eliminating the deficit would be remembered as his biggest political achievement.

At a Liberal gathering in Brantford two months ago, Chretien suggested that calming the separatist storm in Quebec was one of his greatest accomplishments.

"One thing that I'm most proud of is that Canada has never been so united as it is today," he said.

But in the SES/Sun Media poll, only 4.4% cited keeping the country together as Chretien's greatest achievement.

SES pollster Nic Nanos said while Chretien's personal popularity remains high among Canadians, he is regarded by most as a good manager, not a visionary.


Nanos said the PM gets very little credit for slaying the deficit because most Canadians see it as a joint accomplishment with Paul Martin.

A small percentage of Canadians gave the retiring PM credit for foreign policy, winning three consecutive majorities, economic growth and increased health-care funding.

The SES/Sun Media poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 5-9 and is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

I'm going to copy the results from the news article in full:
A majority of Canadians cannot cite a single accomplishment for Jean Chretien. Saying "no" to the Iraq War and eliminating the deficit were the top two accomplishments cited:

- Unsure 51.1%
- No to Iraq War 11.0
- Nothing/No legacy 9.8
- Eliminate deficit 8.9
- Kept country together 4.4
- Foreign policy 2.8
- Three majority governments 2.2
- Economic growth 1.6
- Increased health-care funding 1.5
- Other responses (below 1%) 6.7

Source: SES Canada Research Inc.

The poll results are available in .pdf format here.

Posted by Debbye at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 13 - Cecilia Zhang

Nov. 13 - Cecilia Zhang has now been missing for 24 days and police have made A plea for her safe return directly to her abductors.

There has been depressingly little progress in this case despite a media and email blitz which has sent Cecilia's photo all over the internet.

Anyone who has any information is urged to contact the Cecilia Task Force at 416-808-8390, or in Chinese at 416-808-3681.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

Nov. 12 - last chance

Nov. 12 - last chance city | toronto votes aloud is closing shop now that the elections are over, but there's some closing posts that pretty much sum up the, um, experience of the campaign.

For me, the saddest (or possibly most prophetic) aspect of the mayoral campaign lay in the fact that whenever something big would happen, like several gun-related homicides on any given weekend, the candidates would go into hiding. Seriously. They wouldn't utter a peep.

The notion of leadership has taken a very strange turn.

Posted by Debbye at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 12 - From the

Nov. 12 - From the Blog Quebecois, a tidy new term: Islamikazes. Abso-freaking-lutely perfect.

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 12 - Jay Currie

Nov. 12 - Jay Currie happily reports the birth of Max, 8 lb., 3 oz., 21 inches at 3:00 am Nov. 11.

He says mother and child doing brilliantly!


Posted by Debbye at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 12 - Yet another

Nov. 12 - Yet another coalition partner was hit with a terrorist attack in Iraq Bomb at Italian Police HQ in Iraq Kills 26

Col. Gianfranco Scalas said 18 Italians were killed: 11 Carabinieri paramilitary police, four army soldiers, an Italian civilian working at the base and an Italian documentary filmmaker. The coalition confirmed that eight Iraqis were killed.

The explosion hit near the Carabinieri's multinational specialist unit, the Italian paramilitary police said in a statement.

Angeli said the explosion occurred around 10:40 a.m. Iraqi time. Witnesses said the truck driver got past guards after a car ran a roadblock, distracting the sentries. The truck rammed the gate of the Italian compound, in front of the base, and exploded in front of the Carabinieri building.


Italy has sent about 2,300 troops to help the reconstruction in Iraq. About 340 Carabinieri are based in the Nasiriyah camp, along with 110 Romanians.

Carabinieri are paramilitary police under the jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry, and frequently serve in international missions such as in Afghanistan and the Balkans.

18 Italians and 8 Iraqis, and others may still be buried under debris. The attack was in Nasiriah, which had been one of the quietest areas in Iraq prior to Wednesday.

Is there any doubt that the recent hits directed at coaltion partners are designed with the same ends as the attacks on the UN and Red Cross (as well as the bombing of the UN office in Kandahar, Afghanistan) which is to intimidate and scare people away from rebuilding Iraq and Afghghanistan and leave those countries to the terrorists?

Okay, so we're being tested. I get that. I got that on Sept. 11 around, oh midnight I think. What they don't get is that they don't want to make us angry. We've conducted ourselves with sometimes infuriating patience and restraint, and can continue to do so as long as it is in our best interests to do so, but those countries who are assisting the terrorists should not doubt that we're keeping a list.

You think you're so clever to be allowing your jihadists to travel to Iraq? Be careful. Be very careful. Chickens always come home to roost, often in unexpected ways.

The 1st Armoured Division launched a military operation in Baghdad targeting a facility and setting off explosions that could be heard by reporters in their hotel. (Okay, that was a little snarky. Heh.)

There have been urgings by some leading Iraqis that the US military take off the gloves and start hitting tough against the counter-revolutionaries (hey, I call 'em as I see 'em!) and a leaked CIA report would seem to confirm that sentiment.

This is the kind of action by Iraqis that I hope becomes more prevalent:

Also Wednesday, Iraqi police in Qadisiyah detained several people suspected of involvement in an apparent rocket attack that brought down a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit last week, killing six soldiers, a U.S. official said.

Before dawn, nearly the entire 500-member police force of Tikrit searched door-to-door in a dusty suburb looking for weapons and fighters.

Iraqis are free people now, and surely but slowly they are taking their destinies into their own hands. It is that hope and that hope alone that has made these past months worth enduring.

[N.B.: I don't post much about events in Iraq simply because there are many excellent war-bloggers out there. My personal favourite is The Command Post my first daily stop (even before Puppy Blender!)]

Heartfelt condolences to our Italian allies, and our thanks for your staunch friendship.

UPDATE: Italian officials have said that the bombing in Nasiriya will not deter their committment to help Iraq. (That's not a surprise.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 12 - The activities

Nov. 12 - The activities outside the Liberal convention will probably be more exciting than the activities within (Bono notwithstanding) as Protesters set to rally at Grit coronation:

OTTAWA -- Same-sex marriage supporters, anti-poverty activists and opponents of weapons in space will stage a series of protests outside the Liberal leadership convention in Toronto this week. An estimated 1,000 placard-carrying union members, students and community activists will march from Toronto's gay village to the Air Canada Centre Friday night, where they will demand Paul Martin commit to legal equality for gay couples. Hundreds of social housing advocates will gather outside the convention site earlier in the day.

Citizens opposed to Canada's participation in a North American missile defence system will rally tomorrow to protest the "Star Wars" program supported by Martin.

I am actually bereft of snark.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

Project Mercury

Nov. 12 - Project Mercury was started by a Canadian soldier, Master Cpl. Russell Storring, who had been deployed in Rwanda in 1994 and had seen all to much suffering there. These days he is a kids' saviour. He enlisited his mother to organize a drive to gather clothes and shoes for orphans in Afghanistan.

In August, [Master Cpl.] Storring, a 29-year-old father of three, started Project Mercury Hope, an initiative to collect clothes, toys and school supplies for orphans in Kabul.

Storring called his mother and asked her to encourage friends and family to donate items for some 1,200 children.


After her son's initial plea for help, Atkins gathered 26 boxes of supplies and sent them to Kabul. This week, a military flight from CFB Trenton will carry two triwalls of footwear, five with clothes and 1 1/2 each of toys and school supplies overseas.

Storring was born to be a soldier, his mother said. His father, Floyd, who died four years ago, was a World War II veteran.

"Russell was 3 or 4 and he knew he wanted to be in the army. He wanted to be just like dad," Atkins said.

Atkins herself is president of the Canadian Legion in Tamworth, about 50 km northwest of Kingston.

The project is named for Mercury, the Roman messenger god and the symbol of the signal unit of the army.

Most good ideas inspire others, and this one affected Traci Mohamed, a grade 7/8 teacher at Kennedy Public School in Scarborough, who saw a TV interview with Master Cpl. Storring and decided to help, rallying students and teachers in the process. They gathered over 60 boxes of supplies which will be delivered to a local legion this week.

Ah, the underappreciated Legion again! And we thought they only sold poppies once a year and sponsored youth baseball teams!

For more information on the project visit Mercury Hope. Please note that they will not accept money, but do request that monetary donations go to the Red Cross Fund for Afghan Children (website linked at Mercury Hope.)

There are some good people who really do think of the children.

Posted by Debbye at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

Remembrance Day, but what do they remember?

Nov. 12 - This is a bit of a ramble. These thoughts have been swirling for a few days, and I'm trying to give them coherence and form. I'll probably read this tomorrow and wish I had said things differently or said more or less.

I found it very hard to post yesterday. A couple of Paul's posts had really hit a nerve with me. There was, contained in this post about the CIBC bank, Ikea and other companies who initially refused to allow poppy sales for Remembrance Day the fact there isn't a single Canadian war movie, which, given the well-deserved reputation of Canadian courage and steadfastness in battle, is an appalling lapse.

Sheesh, I learned about the Canadian army's courage at Vimy Ridge and Dieppe in high school in the US, and the current Minister of Defence, John McCallum, didn't know the difference between Vimy [Ridge] and Vichy [government.] The steadfast determination of the Canadian armed forces is such that every Canadian can hold their head high with pride, and I don't get why we would deprive our children of that legacy.

In yesterday's sole entry, I mentioned a hockey rink Canadian soldiers in Korea built which they called Imjin Gardens and the reason the story tickled my fancy was because it reminded me of a MASH episode in which Cpl. Klinger traded food items (fruit cocktail?) with a Canadian soldier and in parting mentioned a future trade involving hockey pucks. I didn't mention it in the original post because it seemed out of place on Remembrance Day, but in retrospect I maybe should have because it was a telling piece of history about Canada and how Canadian soldiers bring bits of home with them that made it into pop culture.

Canada, as does the United States, offers a very unique heritage to her citizens: by virtue of being here, everyone, regardless of birthplace, is entitled to take as their own the past, present and future of this wonderful country. It is by no means mandatory that one should do so, but the offer is there for everyone.

So when I say the same blood flows through all Canadians' veins as flowed on Vimy Ridge and at Dieppe I mean exactly that: it isn't the heritage of a blood line but of a philosphical and heartfelt line, and that can be a very powerful thing simply because it is taken voluntarily.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the National War Memorial was vandalised in the early morning hours of Remembrance Day, but it still burns. It is beyond cliche to say that our soldiers fight so that others can protest against the government of the day without fear of reprisal, but to deface a monument dedicated to the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice all so that we could have cozy, pseduo-intellectual debates about war requires a special kind of arrogance and smugness that I hope I never encounter in the flesh.

Nevertheless, that act of disrespect saddened me beyond any of the memorials that day because it is a danger sign that signifies disrespect not only to those who have served their country but to this country itself, and that is an outrage. In fact, it was almost an act of self-hated.

Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose, it's the name we give for everything that is worth fighting for, and once we lose our freedom, we've lost everthing. Canadians have known this in the past, and I believe they know that today. It's just a matter of finding the Canadian way to express it.

Freedom of spirit and of mind are such great gifts, and the thousands that flood our shores every year prove that.

One of my referrals was someone wanting to know how Americans feel about US soldiers who are still in Iraq. Words cannot convey how I feel -- humble, grateful, awed, fearful for them, fiercely proud of them, and all the love and support I can direct towards those who are not my children but are as my children because they are both future and present and every one of them possesses a calling and purpose that makes me feel insignificant. They proceed from a line unbroken before Valley Forge and are a part of me.

I could ask how Canadians feel about their soldiers still in Afghanistan, but I think I know. I think Canadians are far greater and better than the prattling of the mainstream press here would indicate, and I think the Liberal elite that rules Canada is not worthy of her.

I alway try to post whatever I can glean about the Canadian military in Afghanistan and the other coalition forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq because I think it matters.

I think that some day, maybe not tomorrow but some day, our kids and grandkids will demand to know what we did and thought during this historical period and I think we'll all want to be able to answer that we did our best.

In many ways, Canada is in far more a transitional period than the US. I knew what the US would do because I know my people and I know how we think, but I was way off the mark in predicting what Canada would do.

I had thought that, given the history of the FLQ and how many people in Canada today have come as refugees from terrorism, that Canada would stand squarely against allowing terrorism to take root in North America. Then Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley had made some very strong remarks shortly after Sept. 11 but was then demoted up and the fence-sitting began.

But the government's dithering did not affect the Canadian people, and despite what Americans may read in the Canadian media and what Canadian politicians may say, I think that Canadians, like their American brethren, are re-evaluating a great many things including their military, patriotism, political correctness, immigration and judicial systems and, the biggest question of all, asking "What kind of people are we?"

Neither Americans nor Canadians want to lose what they are. We're both just trying to clarify matters a little. Most Americans might reply that we are the same, only more so.

I don't know the answers for Canadians, but I am pretty sure that it will be "Made In Canada" and maybe, finally, it won't be prefaced with "unlike Americans" because it needn't be.

You are all so much better than you realize. There is so much heart and courage in you, and anyone who doubts that should take an honest look at how Canadians play and love hockey, because it's all there: holding the line, heads-up gamesmanship, fierce competitiveness, endurance, taking it to the boards, and never quitting. If Mario Lemieux gets cross-checked, you just know that some gloves will be coming off.

Is it really a surprise that the usual "Canadians aren't flag wavers" mantra is always discarded for Olympic and World Cup hockey events? I think not!

My kids were born and raised in Canada, and my dearest wish for them is to love and revere this wonderful country. That is my wish for all Canadians, because you deserve no less.

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

Remembrance Day

Nov. 11 - Letter of the Day in the Toronto Sun (one day link):

FOR ME, Nov. 11 has always been a special day. But this year it will be extra special because of a man I knew as "Uncle" Billy. He served with the RAF during WW II.

Assigned to a bomber squadron of equally young strapping airmen, he was shot down no less than three times: In the Irish Sea, North Africa and Poland - the latter being the most significant. At that time, the Soviet Army had the Germans in retreat. Alone and in hostile territory, Uncle Billy survived several days of freezing cold temperatures, feeding mostly on moss. At one point he was hunted by a pack of wolves and found refuge in a tree for a day or two. (The wolves kept vigil at the bottom of the tree, before being used as target practice by retreating German soldiers. Thankfully, the Germans never thought to look up the tree).

Eventually, Billy was taken into Soviet custody. They were not convinced he really was a British airman. In fact, they suspected he was a spy. Subsequently, he was cruelly interrogated and subjected to appalling living conditions.

For several months, even after he was reunited with another member of the bomber's crew and his identity confirmed, he was kept captive with little or no improvements to his living arrangements. Eventually, he was returned home. His family had been told he was dead.

He wrote a fascinating book of his experiences after the war. On the first page he describes the ritual the members of his squadron had before a mission. Nothing more complicated than "So ... See you down the pub later." After a mission, the squadron members would meet at the pub for a pint and take stock of who'd been lost.

Uncle Billy died this past July at the age of 83. Recently, his sister showed me a binder of photographs he had taken himself. The most poignant being the photos of the boys who had not returned, labelled simply with their name, nickname and the date they were killed or went missing. Without exception, the men in these photographs were in the prime of their lives.

Lest we forget. Thank you, boys.

David La Thangue

Korean vet Tom Somers related the tale of a hockey arena named Imjin Gardens to Thane Burnett:
"The Imjin Gardens" sign put up there was complete with a maple leaf and Canada insignia in the upper right-hand corner. It started with a ring of sandbags, which gave way to an actual boarded arena.

And like any rink here in Canada, it had a canteen which served hot coffee and doughnuts, and even a heated dressing room. Hundreds of men would watch the games -- trucked in from the trenches.

Two tales, one from WWII and the other from Korea, of men who did their duty to God and country and, like so many others of their kind, saw nothing extraordinary in that.

In Afghanistan today, hundreds of Canadian soldiers stood at attention during a ceremony to unveil a stone memorial to 6 fallen comrades in Afghanistan. The inscription on the plaque reads Dedicated to those Canadians who gave their lives in the service of peace while serving in Afghanistan. So why is Canada in Afghanistan again?

"We're here because we were attacked that day," added [Lt.-Gen. Rick] Hillier, who will take over command of ISAF operations in Afghanistan in February.

"Twenty-seven Canadians, I believe was the total, who died on 11, Sept., '01," he pointed out.

Hillier had a few words of reprobation for people who he believes have forgotten the Canadian lives lost in the 9-11 attacks.

"It's sad that that has not been reflected around our country."

I can add nothing to that.

The troops were treated to fresh pizza after the ceremony courtesy of Mike Cyr of Boston Pizza International Inc. (or hit Ctrl+F, Nov. 7 - Canadians in Afghanistan if link blogspotted.)

Do we detect a pattern here? In first the story, Billy wanted nothing more than to stay free and get home. In the second and third, homesick soldiers have improvised so as to have a bit of home in places as diverse as Korea and Afghanistan.

In all three cases, however, yearning for home didn't mean that the soldiers doubted the value of their presence or of their mission.

So why is military action by Canadians treated like a shameful secret in the education system? Why do television programs about the military refer to the futility of war rather than the futility of life under Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Ottomon Empire, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban . . .

You can visit the Canadian Legion Website and both The Canukistanian and The Essay have posts up on the Legion and its other activities.

Posted by Debbye at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2003

Nov. 10 - Posting tends

Nov. 10 - Posting tends to go better when you don't fall asleep on the counch. Oh well, I'll try to catch up.

Grr, it also goes better when I know which date it is. All fixed now. Sorry.

Posted by Debbye at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2003

Nov. 9 - Tim reports

Nov. 9 - Tim reports that fewer people are wearing poppies this year.

I don't know why this is so, but find it incredible that people can be so dismissive of the sacrifices made in the name of liberty. (Click on the poppy logo on Tim's post and it will take you to the Legion webpage that explains the symbolism of wearing of the poppy.)

It seems to me that this is one small way that everyone can honour not only Canadians but all men and women who have fought to keep their countries free from totalitarianism, to break the yoke of despots, or to signify their hopes for the future.

I'll try again: what don't people get about the huge numbers of men and women who were willing to give their lives to defend us, people who hadn't even been born yet?

Wear a poppy! Thank a veteran (and especially the Korean vets from the Forgotten War that should be renamed (re-memed?) as the Overlooked War But In Retrospect Thank God You Were There.

I'm going to be out the rest of the day, and tonight I'll try to wander around the blogosphere because there are a lot of good posts that I want to cite (sometimes I tend to reference things here that I may want to re-visit. There are bookmarks and, er, blogmarks in my world. Maybe I should've been a librarian.)

Take care, and if you haven't gotten you car winterized yet, please stop procrastinating. I feel so sad for you when I see your car deep in a snowbank or frozen solid because you have the wrong tires or anti-freeze or windshield washer. (Okay, I laugh with derision, but in a sympathetic way. Really) And, for crying out loud, buy your shovels and salt before it snows.

It snows every year, for crying out loud. Why does it always seem to catch people off guard?

Take care.

Posted by Debbye at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2003

Nov. 8 - No surprise

Nov. 8 - No surprise here, just resignation: CRTC says 'No' to more U.S. digital cable channels.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 8 - Toronto mayoral

Nov. 8 - Toronto mayoral candidate David Miller says he has a plan for an anti-gun strategy as a means of dealing with increasing gun violence here. Do you think his plan will involve concepts like "regulate" and "more money for social programs" as opposed to harsh penalties for those who carry and use guns for criminal activities?

At the other side of the spectrum is anti-gun registry activist Oscar Lacombe, who appeared in an Edmonton courtroom yesterday:

EDMONTON (CP) - Canada's $1-billion gun registry came under fire in an Edmonton courtroom Friday where a decorated war veteran was being tried for toting a disabled rifle to an anti-gun-law rally.

Oscar Lacombe, a former sergeant-at-arms for the Alberta legislature, testified that the gun registry is a huge waste of money that should have been used for important work such as heart surgeries.

Lacombe, 75, staged a protest on New Year's Day by carrying an unlicensed, unregistered .22-calibre rifle to the grounds of the Alberta legislature. Provisions of the federal Firearms Act requiring each gun to be registered came into effect that day, and Lacombe was hoping to be charged under the act so he could challenge it in court.

He was later charged with offences that already existed under the Criminal Code - possession of a firearm without a licence or a registration certificate and carrying a weapon to a public meeting.

Lacombe had removed the bolt from the rifle so it was not usable at the time of the protest.

Guess it wouldn't surprise anyone if I stated I support Lacombe and think Miller is a pompous goof.

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 8 - One terrific

Nov. 8 - One terrific idea from the Canadian Red Cross: combine donating blood between with writing and sending letters and messages of support and encouragement to the Canadian soldiers (Hearts go out to the troops)

Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Forces have teamed up for Operation Roll Up Your Sleeves, Canada!

The campaign, in its second year, includes blood drives at Canadian Forces bases between Remembrance Day and Jan. 12, where soldiers and their friends and family can donate blood.

Messages of encouragement from their fellow Canadians can help Canadian Forces members deployed overseas when they're faced with dangerous missions, said Maj. Johanne Bournival of Canadian Forces Medical Services.

Now, I do get the irony that the Canadian Red Cross is doing its part to support the troops at the same time as the International Red Cross has decided to pull out of Baghdad and Basra but I think the two events are totally unconnected and what matters is what we can do here and now.

I happen to believe a lot of Canadians want to actively support the troops, which is why the bewildering refusal of Ikea, Burger King and Pier-1 Imorts to allow poppy sales on their premises has generated so much antipathy. (Heh, and letters, emails and telephone calls.)

How very Canadian to combine donating blood with sending a message to the soldiers that they are in our hearts and minds. They may do things differently up here, but have no doubt that they do indeed do things.

I don't know if the American Red Cross has a similar program, but they might want to give a close look at this one.

Posted by Debbye at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2003

Nov. 7 - I posted

Nov. 7 - I posted yesterday about some retail outlets that won't allow the sales of Remembrance Day poppies, and today stupidangrycanajun has posted the toll-free phone number and email form courtesy of the National Post.

The only thing these fear more than reduced sales is irate customers and reduced sales. Let your voice be heard!

Posted by Debbye at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - It's Friday,

Nov. 7 - It's Friday, which means another good read by Victor Davis Hanson on War on National Review Online.

So far most of our intelligentsia have been more eager to explain what this war is not than what it is. Yet the conflict is not a hash-it-out in the faculty lounge, nor a brainstorm over a headline in the newsroom, nor flashy quippmanship in a political debate.

No, it is a deadly business about young men sleeping out in the rocks of Afghanistan and under tanks in Iraq who right now need to know whether this country is at war, peace, or something in between. So we need some straight talk, perhaps brutal honesty about a growing number of false assumptions before we go any further.

Trying to excerpt from Hanson is fruitless, but I'm including this because I like it:
It is time for Clark, Dean, Kerry and the rest either right now to advocate legislation to stop the war and bring the troops home — or to simply be quiet and support the effort of our soldiers. Any further hysteria about purpose rather than quibbling over tactics, and the American people will rightly conclude that such Democratic invective hurts America and helps its enemies, whose entire strategy of assassination and terror is aimed at appealing to the anti-war movement in the United States.

UPDATE: Paul definitely found it useful in his on-going exchange.

Posted by Debbye at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - From murdoc:

Nov. 7 - From murdoc: Saudi Arabia seems to be running out of sand. Really.

Posted by Debbye at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - Greyhawk analyzes

Nov. 7 - Greyhawk analyzes the recent gubanatorial wins in the South and calls for a second American political party:

I don't mean to gloat here; I really want a two-party system. Like most Americans I'd prefer a loyal opposition to any administration. But the Dems are loosing (and loosing it) on a lot of issues. Where can they start to fix their problems?

First they must accept that they have a problem. Hating Bush will not keep him from being reelected.

Next they must show an ability to work with the other party; in power or out, there must be some cooperation, especially in time of war. (So acknowledging that this is time of war may be step 2, then making cooperative efforts)

This post and the others (just keep scrolling) is a very insightful analysis of some of the things the Democrats have to do if they are truly going to be a national party.

In this post, Greyhawk wonders what it will take for the candidates jump off the bandwagon and rejoin mainstream America? Surely each has a point they will not pass?

Posted by Debbye at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - Anthony is

Nov. 7 - Anthony is reminding Toronto voters that there's Only a few days left to decide who to vote for in the upcoming municipal election and has begun a contest to see if you can spot which quote belongs to which candidate.

It's very funny, although I don't know why I'm laughing. I have to live here!

UPDATE: The Last Chance City | Toronto Votes Aloud is the best site for news about the upcoming election.

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - Daimnation posts

Nov. 7 - Daimnation posts his fervent wish Dear God: Please, please, please let George Galloway's name be on the list in reference to this report that the CIA has seized some very interesting files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service which will assist US investigations of "weapons procurement networks and agents of influence" who were on Saddam's payroll:

The Iraqi files are "almost as much as the Stasi files," said a senior U.S. official, referring to the vast archives of the former East German intelligence service seized after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The records would stretch 91/2 miles if laid end to end, the officials said. They contain not only the names of nearly every Iraqi intelligence officer, but also the names of their paid foreign agents, written agent reports, evaluations of agent credentials, and documentary evidence of payments made to buy influence in the Arab world and elsewhere, the officials said.

Do you suppose al Jazeera staff members and executives might be on that list? Or maybe Scott Ritter?

The publication of this Who's Who of bought-and-paid-for-by-Saddam is officially on My Christmas Wish List.

Posted by Debbye at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - Oddly enough,

Nov. 7 - Oddly enough, CNN doesn't have the text of the speech that President Bush made yesterday at the National Endowment for Democracy but The Sydney Morning Herald has it here.

Citing a 1982 speech by former Pres. Ronald Reagan in which he had ascribed Soviet communist meltdown to a failure to respect its people, he praised the growing number of countries that have democratized since that speech and noted that those countries that still oppress their people -- Zimbabwe, Cuba, Burma, and North Korea -- are outposts of oppression but the regimes cannot forever halt the growing demand for democratic rights and freedoms.

His statements on Middle East countries are those that have generated the headlines:

Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free.

Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This "cultural condescension," as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. ...

I call it patronizing, smug racism, but "cultural condescension" is definitely more polite.
As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying -- selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.

Let freedom ring!

UPDATE: Paul reports that some in the Mid-East were less than impressed by the President's calls for democracy there.

UPDATE: Jonas Goldberg thinks the speech will be long remembered.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn likens the call for liberty in Mid-East countries as the best means to ensure our security in this manner:

That's essentially a cultural argument, and one artfully in tune both with white rural male gun nuts who resent Democratic predations on their own liberty and with newer, younger, 9/11 Republican converts who think the way to stop Islamic terrorism is to fix the problem at source. And the pretzel contortions of the Democratic candidates can't match it.
Liberty begins at home!

UPDATE: I had been unable to locate the speech at the White House website but others were more successful, so
here it is (I don't know how permanent the Sydney Morning Herald links are. Always have a back-up.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - The Supreme

Nov. 7 - The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the judiciary has the right to supervise lawmakers in order to ensure their decisions are enforced:

The 5-4 ruling in a minority-language-schools case revealed a deep cleft within the court on the question of when judges must show deference to legislatures.

The majority said judges can police enforcement of their orders in appropriate cases in order to prevent government inaction from trampling on constitutional rights.

This is especially true of minority-language-rights cases, they said, where a linguistic minority can end up being assimilated by the time bureaucrats finally respond to a court order.

"Deference ends where the constitutional rights the courts are charged with protecting begin," Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci and Madam Justice Louise Arbour wrote. "The rule of law can be shallow without proper mechanisms for its enforcement."

However, the court minority protested vehemently that judges cannot depart from their proper role in a democracy and start micromanaging the legislative and executive branches.

Judges who meddle in the day-to-day management of public administration risk upsetting "the balance that has been struck between our three branches of government," Mr. Justice Louis LeBel and Madam Justice Marie Deschamps wrote for the minority.

I'll be adding reactions from other Canadian bloggers if I see any.

UPDATE: The Canukistanian says Canadian Have Been Had and News Junkie Canada and quotes from Toronto Police Chief Fantino who believes that the effectiveness of the justice system needs an inquiry if Canada is to stop the effects of gangs on communitiesagrees.

Posted by Debbye at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - An autobiography

Nov. 7 - An autobiography by Liberal Senator Leo Kolber says that there were strong reactions in the Liberal caucus after US Amb. Paul Cellucci, while speaking at an Economic Club meeting in Toronto last March 25, remarked that the US was "disappointed" that Canada did not lend its support to the coaltion (see more of his comments here) and two senior cabinet ministers demanded that the Ambassador be expelled. Those calls were issued by Minister of Transport David Collenette and House Leader Don Boudria:

In his candid autobiography, Liberal Senator Leo Kolber said the MPs wanted Mr. Cellucci out after he vocalized the U.S. administration's disappointment with Canada's stance on the war in Iraq. Both Mr. Boudria and Mr. Collenette deny the allegation.

In Leo -- a Life, Mr. Kolber said he was "profoundly disturbed" by the wave of anti-Americanism that swept through Canada before and during the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

"Feelings ran so high in our caucus that two senior ministers, David Collenette and Don Boudria, later suggested in all seriousness that U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci be expelled for stating the obvious," wrote Mr. Kolber.

Mr. Cellucci had said his government was "disappointed and upset" that Canada was not participating or supporting the U.S.'s "coalition of the willing."

Mr. Boudria and Mr. Collenette, who say they have complained to Mr. Kolber about the matter, vehemently deny the allegation, but Mr. Kolber, in an interview this week, says he is standing by his autobiography.

"That is my recollection. We're checking it out because they deny it," said Mr. Kolber, adding that the May 2003 issue of Policy Options backs up his claim.

I remember both the speech and that there were calls for him to be recalled, but I don't recollect specific names (it might have been one of those ubiquitous unnamed official sources!)

Sen. Kolber is also correct that there was a lot of anti-American sentiment in Canada last winter, especially in Quebec when participants in a youth hockey tournament were received with intense hostility and at an NHL game in Montreal where the playing of the Star Spangled Banner was booed.

BUT in Toronto on the following Saturday, fans at the Maple Leafs game made a point of cheering for the USA anthem (which of course didn't receive any air time on CNN) and Don Cherry (aka Grapes) gave a spirited defense of the USA during Coach's Corner.

And the last weeks in March and the early weeks in April were marked by Friends of America rallies throughout Canada including Toronto.

Canadians were and remain divided over the war in Iraq, as were and do Americans. 'Nuff said.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - Kabul --

Nov. 7 - Kabul -- Civilian watchdog Andre Marin spent two and a half days with Canadian soldiers talking to them and getting their views on what they need, and reports that the biggest problem is not enough soldiers, (Stressed soldiers call for aid) from supply clerks to infantrymen, heavy workloads, health problems, and concerns about post-traumatic stress.

Maybe this wil help boost morale: The soldiers will be treated to pizza next Tuesday:

It's been a longer haul than your average pizza delivery, but Boston Pizza is on track to deliver 2,200 medium pizzas more than 10,000 kilometres to just about every Canadian soldier in Afghanistan next Tuesday.

A shipment of frozen ingredients left Canada on Oct. 31 and arrived in Kabul Nov. 2, and with the help of some culinary savvy from the Richmond-based restaurateur will form the basis of a Remembrance Day feast.

The journey really started in September, when Boston Pizza executive vice-president Mike Cyr got an e-mail from his brother, Corporal Patrick Cyr, an army transport driver stationed at Canadian Forces Base in Petawawa, Ont., who had shipped out a month earlier for a six-month tour of duty in the Afghan capital.

"We were e-mailing back and forth and he said, 'You know, it's the little things you miss about home. How about a pizza?' It was an offhand thing, a joke between two brothers," Cyr said.

"After I thought about it for a few minutes I thought, 'You know what? If we could make this happen that would be a great opportunity to give the troops a little taste of home.' "

The ingredients for the pizzas have left Canada for preparation by army cooks (or should I say chefs? you all know what they say about army food . . .)
Though he oversees marketing operations at the 175-restaurant chain, Cyr has no plans to capitalize on the round-the-world pizza delivery in its marketing -- a la Tim Horton's, which earlier this year aired a television commercial about a case of coffee it sent to homesick Canadian university students in Scotland.

"This is something we did for goodwill purposes," he said. "I can't think of a more deserving group to benefit from something like this. Patrick has sent me pictures of what it's like over there. ... Until you see what conditions are really like you don't realize the sacrifices that soldiers, men and women, make."

As much as pizza will be a treat for the troops, the gesture of support from people back home means even more, Steele said.

You can send your own care packages and messages of support to the troops here.

(Vancouver Sun link via Neale News.)

UPDATE: Try here if the first link dies. This article identifies Mr. Panciuk as the owner of Belleville Boston Pizza, so next time I'm near Belleville I know where I'll eat.

Posted by Debbye at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 7 - Military set

Nov. 7 - Military set to buy new wings:

OTTAWA -- Defence Minister John McCallum is set to approve 15 years' worth of major military equipment purchases. McCallum told a Commons committee yesterday that he's poised to sign the Canadian Forces' strategic capital investment plan, which will lay out an exhaustive list of purchases to replace aging equipment such as the Sea King maritime helicopters and the Hercules transport planes, as well as specific timelines.
The plan has provisions for "fast-tracking" the purchase of new marine helicopters and to overhaul wiring and engines of the the Hercules transports but doesn't say when the purchases will be made, and is to establish a timeline for replacement of the CC-130 Hercs.

The fleet of aging Sea Kings was grounded Oct. 31 after two of them experienced loss of power while in flight.

Posted by Debbye at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2003

Nov. 6 - Have you

Nov. 6 - Have you ever wondered why American soldiers wear the flag backwards? Answered here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Stupid Angry

Nov. 6 - Stupid Angry Canajun has some news that would make me rant if she hadn't already done it in FYI.

Dammit, some of these companies are American based. WTF? I don't know if she's actually calling for a boycott of these places, but I know that I won't be eating any Whoppers until they change their policy.

Maybe some Americans out there could take up this challenge and ask their local Burger King what gives and why they don't support veterans, as well as a few American-based companies that need to be made accountable for their incredibly smug behaviour.

Posted by Debbye at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - From the

Nov. 6 - From the NY Times: A Burden Too Heavy to Put Down by David Brooks:

Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours.

The president will have to remind us that we live in a fallen world, that we have to take morally hazardous action if we are to defeat the killers who confront us. It is our responsibility to not walk away. It is our responsibility to recognize the dark realities of human nature, while still preserving our idealistic faith in a better Middle East.

Link via Roger Simon, who also has found himself running a contest on which Democrat presidential aspirant smoked dope.

Love that Dept. of Unintended Consequences.

Be sure and read the comments, too. And yes, I could see doing it with Rumsfeld. Hey, that sounds like a perfect plotline for Frank J.

Posted by Debbye at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Paul has

Nov. 6 - Paul has a post on a recent column in Arab News. Read. It's a gen-u-ine sign of hope.

Posted by Debbye at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - I am

Nov. 6 - I am casting my votes early in the New Blog Showcase.

First is from Patriot Paradox who asks I Pray Daily. Am I an Extremist?. No, you are someone who prays daily, and not only is it none of anyone's business, your right to do so is protected by the US Constitution.

Next is Semi-Intelligent Thoughts with No Offense which is another look at political correctness. He makes an interesting point: What if the effort to keep from offending anyone has resulted in offending nearly everyone?

Finally this appreciation of Halloween by Mr. Cranky (ha!) called A Halloween Story which brings back fond memories of how kind the neighbours were to my own little trick'o'treaters back in the day.

Posted by Debbye at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Do you

Nov. 6 - Do you have wonderful friends who are somewhat clueless about email chain letters? Go here for the Ultimate Answer.

Posted by Debbye at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Martin's back

Nov. 6 - Martin's back with a terrific new look and a very funny story This Probably Happens All the Time.

Posted by Debbye at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

The Pussification of The Western Male

Nov. 6 - This is a must read for all men and women who stoutly defy attempts to remake and recondition and improve them: an essay by Kim Du Toit.

It is an absolute must read for those with male children.

Canadians may read this with a different eye, and wonder if what Kim's talking about might possibly have anything to do with the disrespect with which our veterans and present military personnel are treated. How about our police? Hmm? If it is no longer respectable to catch and punish the bad guys, even in child's play, how we treat our adult law enforcement personnel is going to feel the impact.

Zero tolerance has come to mean you must back down when someone is bullying you. Bulls***. Sometimes a black eye is a badge of honour, and fighting for someone weaker is worthy of respect. Zero tolerance means we aren't supposed to tell the difference, but there is a difference. Women know that, or they used to.

We've come a long way, baby. Now girls are among the worst and most vicious bullies in our schools and workplaces.

I was a feminist at the time of the first woman's rally August 26, 1970, which celebrated 50 years of the vote because I believed in choices, and let me tell you right now that I wasn't a feminist because I wanted a different group of women telling me how to live.

I was dismayed at how I was treated by other women when they learned I was a stay-at-home Mom. I had made my choice. What was the deal with this new judgement thing? I'm a bitch myself, though, so changed my strategy. Thereafter, when people asked what do you do I replied: "I'm an early childhood specialist." I was treated with respect then. Morons.

I wasn't a feminist because I hated men. I loved men then and I still love men, or more specifically, a specific man. A good man who has a moral code, who knows right from wrong, and who won't tolerate bullies of either gender.

My honey dumps his dirty clothes on the floor (but restricts it to one big pile.) He also does the laundrey, which inevitably means picking up those clothes. If it was really that important I would have made careful inquiries into his value system of clothes storage between laundrey days but didn't because I was interested in other attributes (no, I mean other attributes other than those attributes. Sheesh.) (Not that those attributes aren't important. Right. Ahem.)

When you really love someone, you don't try to change them, you love the good and the bad. You accept the good and the bad. Getting together with someone when the goal is to change them is a sign of mental instability because it means you are with someone you don't like and don't approve of. That. Is. Totally. Sick.

And Kim? Men aren't the only ones abandoning television. A lot of women are sick of female characters who are castrating bitches. Quite frankly, I find most television extremely embarassing.

[As an aside, I've often wondered if we are finding it a tougher go in Iraq because American television, which is sold throughout the world, portrays American men as groveling before the Superiority of Women.]

So I'll keep watching Stargate SG-1, and Buffy, and old John Wayne and Charleton Heston movies because they're about people who, by and large, know who they are and what they are. Oh yeah, and mute the commercials.

Link via One Hand Clapping who in the link cited, adds some depth and further substance as a Christian, and encapsulates the entire controversy (at least I hope it will become a controversy) quite admirably:

Manhood must no longer be defined by women, but by men. Specifically, men who are self-confidently masculine and don’t regret it, who don’t want to regret it.
I know I'm a little over the top on this one, but I'm quite serious when I say that young boys and young girls everywhere need you to fight this battle.

Death to political correctness and all it's lying liars who are trying to socially engineer us in the image of ants.

Posted by Debbye at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Mark Steyn

Nov. 6 - Mark Steyn has some rather pessimistic thoughts about the outlook for Europe's future in Europeans are worse than cockroaches.

The Canukistanian adds his thoughts and concerns for Canada here.

Posted by Debbye at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Another coalition

Nov. 6 - Another coalition member has been killed: Polish soldier dies in Iraq. There are few details, but the 44-year old soldier, who held the rank of commander, was killed in an attack on his 4-vehicle convoy which carried about 15 Polish soldiers in Al Mussayih, about 40km north of Karbala.

Poland has the fourth largest contingent of soldiers, about 2500 strong, after the USA, Britain and Italy.

What price freedom? We honour him and the other coalition soldiers serving in Iraq.

Full disclosure: I'm a quarter Polish, and I've often wished my grandfather had lived to see Poland freed from the Soviet bloc and taking her rightful place as a country dedicated to liberty. It was something he fervently believed would happen.

UPDATE: Martin has a link to a news article that indicates how some Poles Really Feel about EU and Old Europe. Heh.

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - This is

Nov. 6 - This is of only passing significance (Pentagon: Iraq made last minute plea) but I want to jump in and remind folks that the real last minute plea came from President Bush when he gave Saddam and sons 48 hours to leave Iraq before giving the go-ahead to what was hoped to be a surgical strike to remove him before the war started.

So somebody else tried to avert war. Take a number, Mr. Hage, right behind France, Germany, Belguim, Russia and Canada. This revelation isn't one, but only the latest in a long list of those who's concern for the Iraqi people is less than their concern for poor widdle Saddam.

I will go to bed every night knowing that there are idle plastic shredders in Iraq, and children are not in prison. I will go to bed every night grieving for those pulled out of prison and executed within 2 weeks of the liberation.

I grieve for those who died and continue to die in Iraq, but Saddam has been a festering wound on this planet since we failed to remove him in 1991, and I've no regrets that we didn't fall for yet another last-minute circumvention by Saddam's toadies.

UPDATE: And then there's this account. It seems that Saddam, alas, never thought to use 411 to get the phone numbers of the White House or 10 Downing Street! You think Chirac would have accepted his collect call, at least . . .

Posted by Debbye at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

MFP inquiry reveals ethical idiocy

Nov. 6 - I've resisted posting about the ongoing inquiry into the MFP scandal (it's a Toronto thing) but this finally cracked my resolve: Ex-treasurer defends MFP role:

Former City of Toronto treasurer Wanda Liczyk says MFP salesman Dash Domi didn't outfox her on the computer-leasing deal that has blown up in the city's face. Liczyk testified yesterday at the inquiry into the MFP scandal that Domi booked her an appointment with an exclusive hair stylist, extended invitations to dinners and hockey and basketball games and got tickets for Leaf games for her sister because he was a "nice guy."
How f***ing stupid are the people who work for the City of Toronto? Hello? I used to be involved with a minor sports association, and whenever a parent walked up to me with a big smile and flattery I knew without any doubt that they wanted something! And I didn't control millions of dollars (fact is, I barely controlled anything: the game was settled on the field) but I knew I was being set up to be used.

That Ms. Liczyk is so needy and in need of affirmation indicates that she and the others involved in this scandal lack the basic qualification for stewardship: brains.

Liczyk spent another day on the witness stand insisting her relationship with Domi was typical for her and a salesman and there was nothing improper.
So he played you! It was his job. Admit it. Learn the lesson. Be an adult.
The inquiry is investigating why a $43-million computer deal with MFP ballooned out of control, costing tens of millions more.
I can't go on. Read the whole thing. It stinks.

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - Georgia Senator

Nov. 6 - Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a leading Democrat who recently announced his endorsement of Pres. Bush for the 2004 elections, has two more excerpts in the Washington Times from his book about the decline of the Democrat Party (A National Party No More.)

I posted earlier about the first section, How Democrats lost the South. If you haven't read it, do so. It has some implications for Canada, although I shy away from determining exactly how because I'd be doing so through an American prism.

What I do wonder is what Dean thought he had to gain by trying to appeal to Southerners who have the Confederate flag on their pick-up trucks when he routinely disses those of us with American flags on our cars and pick-ups. That he thinks those who sport the Bonnie Blue have some grievance with Old Glory shows his snobbery and his lack of qualification for the job of national leader.

Sen. Martin's description of how things work in the Senate is sobering, and the terms of adjustment sound more like the steps of bereavement than governance. Anyone who has ever seen the James Stewart movie "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" will relate to this section, and anyone about to vote in the upcoming municipal elections will feel a familiar chill and, hopefully, sobriety when we consider just what is at stake.

The third section, In pursuit of an American Churchill, starts from the premise (which is self-evident by the title) but goes on to examine the current presidential aspirants:

I do not question their patriotism; I question their judgment. They are doing what politicians often do, playing to the loudest, most active and most emotional group of supporters, feeding off frustration while clawing to find some advantage. I've done it myself and lived to regret it. My concern is that, without meaning to, they are exacerbating the difficulties of a nation at war.

Some of the liberal media excuse these actions by calling them "populism." Populism, my butt. It's demagogy, pure and simple. They should stop this, or at least modify it into a more civil discourse.
Damned straight. The more they agitate, the more they need to stoop to rewriting the written record so as to claim that "Bush Lied," the more ashamed I become for ever voting Democrat because they are betraying the idealism of our country.

The party of Jack Kennedy? Not in this century. Liberals in the Kennedy era stood against tyranny and stood four-squre in support of liberty and justice for all. Those of us who remember the Civil Rights movements understood that the promises of the American Revolution contained many tasks undone just as we understand that the war on terror contains many unforeseen tasks and yes, risks.

We are soldiers of freedom, or we are slaves of tyranny. Choose wisely, but choose. I know it means travelling back in time to remember who we are. I know it means re-evaluating previous convictions and premises.

You may find that you didn't change, your party did, and that's not your fault, it's theirs. They were corrupted by the pursuit of power. Were you?

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 6 - I'd like

Nov. 6 - I'd like to think that Mark Twain is looking down from Heaven with bemusement and delight on the offerings in the blogosphere that are worthy descendents of his once-scandalous Letters From the Earth.

These essays, which were not to be published in Twain's lifetime, are definitely "blasphemous" (at least in the 19th century meaning of the word) and the fact that they are available and not consigned to underground distribution is all the answer we need to anyone who accuses the West of intolerance.

American Digest has a round-up of three blogs which purport to be run by the Almighty in God vs. God vs. GOD Himself.

I don't know how Muslims feel about Allah Is In The House, I don't know how Jews feel about Yahweb Is In The House, and I don't know how I'll feel about God Is In The House.

What I do know is that if they're funny I'll read them (and chuckle) and if they aren't or become hateful I won't.

What I do know is that I am not afraid to face and laugh at the idiosyncrasies of my religion and listen to criticism veiled by satire and unveiled by indignation. It won't occur to me to send death threats because I vote by linking, not censorship.

As Twain pointed out 100 years ago, our curiosity and sense of humour are gifts from God Himself. We were intended to use those gifts, hopefully for good.

Personally, I can do with all the humour I can get. These are dark days, and although I believe in the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, I can use a little help getting through that tunnel.

A belated thought: during the Great Depression, Hollywood made scores of Shirley Temple, Marx Bros., Mae West and Astair/Rogers movies to get us through the country's dark times. Maybe this is an instance of evolution: the internet is providing the zany, mad-cap escapism for us today.

I'm only on my second cup of coffee. Profound, deep thought is a few cups away!

Posted by Debbye at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2003

Nov. 5 - HipperCritical is

Nov. 5 - HipperCritical is achieving fame as a media watcher, not only of the NY Times (he conducted research into the background of lawyer Mark Mediah, who recommended Iraq be held accountable for debts run up during Saddam's regime in a recent NY Times op-ed, which revealed him to be in an undisclosed but massive conflict of interest on that subject) and now he is keeping an eye on the Egyptian press.

It seems the Egyptian media types weren't happy when the US Ambassador to Egypt, David Welch, complained about some "regrettable articles" published in the Egyptian press in a speech at American University in Cairo, and the media attacked him and declared him persona non grata.

Media watch is a concept that is truly going global.

Posted by Debbye at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 5 - A Royal

Nov. 5 - A Royal Marine, Cpl. Ian Plank, was killed last Friday in an operation with US special forces that was "outside the British area of responsibility."

News of his death was not announced until yesterday for fear of jeopardising a secret operation targeting terrorist units still loyal to Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq.

Royal Marines seconded to the Special Boat Service, the naval equivalent of the SAS, are working under cover with American special services in missions aimed at guerrilla units and at finding Saddam.

Cpl. Plank was 31 and from Poole, Dorset.

According to The Sun (UK), Plank was involved in a house to house search for a militant leader north of Basra. At one house they were hit with a gunfire and four other SAS and SBS members in his patrol were lightly wounded. Although the leader wasn't captured, they did kill and capture several dozens of armed Iraqi rebels.

Ian, who had several medals, joined the Royal Marines as a teenager and went through intensive commando training in Lympstone, Devon.

He was then selected for the Marines’ Special Boat Squadron — who have the motto By Strength And Guile and are rated as tough as the SAS.

During Gulf War II, SBS teams were deployed on key operations behind enemy lines. Ian, who lived with his partner, was regarded as one of the top men in the SBS.

He was the 52nd British serviceman to lose his life since Gulf War II began in March and the first special forces soldier to die.

Our condolences to Cpl. Plank's partner, and our deep gratitude.

Posted by Debbye at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 5 - Time to

Nov. 5 - Time to play dirty, boys and girls (hey, if I'm going to stoop to juvenile humour, you are all accomplices. Let's just pretend we aren't rational adults, which will be a neat change from pretending we are rational adults. Heh.)

This weeks Precision Guided Humour assignment is Launching the League of Liberals and supplying them with a witty tagline because the poor dears don't have one.

(Or maybe just a semi-witty tagline?)

Here goes:

1. We don't have a plan; we just steal from the Alliance of Free Bloggers.

2. We don't need no stinkin' plan.

3. Nooo one expects the liberal inquisition!

4. We was robbed! Remember Florida! (and California! and Kentucky! and Mississippi! and Georgia! and South Carolina! and Alabama! and Minnesota!)

5. Join the liberals to enslave Iraq.

6. Yesterday's liberals are neo-conservatives because we changed the definition when no one was looking!

7. We never saw a fight we couldn't run from; our inspiration is Brave Sir Robin.

8. We never saw a freedom without trying curtail it.

Since we know they would want "Bush Lied!" as part of it, we can also have the response: "That word come too oft and easy from your lips. He did not lie. Look America! Here are snakes! How long since despots bought you, and what was the promised price?" (With apologies to Prof. Tolkien)

Aw heck, just follow the link on top for some taglines that are actually funny.

Posted by Debbye at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 5 - Paul has

Nov. 5 - Paul has been enaged in an exchange in what should have been about the difference between fair criticism and intolerance here and here but sadly wasn't as the other party believed that any criticism was intolerant. (It's worth reading the links if you haven't yet. Paul handled himself quite admirably.)

It was all very depressing, actually, because it once again indicated what an uphill road we have to travel to get the trust of most people and how unlikely we are to ever get trust from sophisticated folks like Paul's correspondent, but a chance encounter at work today brought my mind back to the connections we have made with people who actually count.

I was outside having a cigarette and wearing my coat (it's November!) and thus both my poppy and American flag label pin were aboard. A man who was also enjoying a smoke came over to me in an agitated and excited manner.

In very broken English, he explained he was from Afghanistan, he hated the Taliban and that the Punjabi were fierce warriors who would never surrender.

As we continued to talk, it came out he had been a Hindu living in Afghanistan and his hatred for the Taliban came directly from what he and his family had suffered under them.

He also spoke happily about having telephones in Afghanistan now, and razors for shaving, and innoculations for the children. He spoke of which countries were contributing what, and of the mountains that had protected them from Alexander the Great so many centuries ago.

I don't know if I'm getting my point across. Fact is, it was a very emotional thing for me because right there, in front of me, was someone who was living testimony that we did something good in freeing Afghanistan from the Taliban.

I remember in the brief interlude before the bombing started hearing about what Hindus and Buddhists suffered under the Taliban, but the focus was on those who were Muslim and that aspect of the Taliban rule was shuffled to the back.

I guess I'm just as cynical as everyone else, because had I seen this man on television or read his remarks from a reporter, I probably would have had a part of my mind be skeptical because I too don't trust what might be propaganda, but, as they say, seeing is believing.

I also thought again of the Smile and Wave campaign and again, my friends, we're doing good over there.

So while I hope Paul's correspondent has a very nice life, I know danged well that the man I spoke to today will have a great life and his family back home is much better off now than they were two years ago because of what we did and are now doing.

Posted by Debbye at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2003

Nov. 4 - Mark Steyn

Nov. 4 - Mark Steyn examines the foreign policy and diplomacy too many Dem presidential hopefuls are currently espousing Safari in search of constituents and whacks 'em good:

What's "fraudulent" about the coalition that toppled Saddam? The principal players — the Americans, British and Australians — are three of only a handful of countries to have been on the right side of every major conflict of the last century: the First World War, the Second, the Cold War, and now the war on terror.

I bet on form. When it comes to standing up against totalitarianism, the heavy lifting has been done by America and the British Commonwealth...

It has been taken as a given among Democrats that somehow this administration has needlessly offended the French and Germans. But insulting Britain, Australia and Poland as a cheap way to get at Mr. Bush demonstrates your superior sense of the subtleties of foreign policy? I would say it is going to be very difficult for a President Kerry to work with these chaps after his election victory — or I would say it if I could type that sentence without collapsing in giggles.

Do I even have to say that Mark Steyn rocks? Nah, didn't think so.

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2003

Nov. 3 - Jen takes

Nov. 3 - Jen takes serious exception to Slate writer Douglas Gantenbein's contemptuous dismissal of firefighters and kicks some serious ass in the process in I will never stop calling firefighters heroes!

Don't call them heroes, Douggie? Don't call me ever.
God bless firefighters everywhere, but especially the ones fighting the flames even as you're reading this out in the Golden State and thank you for the invaluable service you render to us all, much of it thankless and for which they don't begin to be compensated for.
And Douglas, what makes me burn is that I know that if you are in a fire, the firefighters will strive to save you and your crappy property even though you are a worthless loser and that to me is even greater than mere heroism!
Read the whole thing, and then you'll know why we call her The Champ.

Posted by Debbye at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 3 - Rugged individualism

Nov. 3 - Rugged individualism is part of the American myth, and I use the word myth in the full meaning of the word as that which contains nuggets of truth. Any scrutiny of Congressional votes would dispell any illusions that the leading political parties in the US operate under strict discipline and, in fact, we voters tend to be pleased when our elected representatives show independence of mind and spirit even when we don't agree with how they cast their votes.

Nevertheless, principled opposition took on new and better meaning when leading Democrat Zell Miller Endorsed Bush (more here.)

Some of the whys are readily apparent. That the Democrats hoped for economic disaster so they could be propelled into the White House brought twisted meaning to the term for the common weal and I wouldn't vote for such selfish bastards if my life depended on it. (Actually, as my life and future depend on a Republican president, that phrasing is definitely off, but you get my drift.)

Other reasons are not so apparent, but I think the bottom line is that the Democrat Party is no longer a national party seeking to serve the American people. As Zell Miller himself concludes in How Democrats Lost the South:

The special-interest groups have come between the Democratic Party and the people. The party is no longer a link to most Americans. Each advocacy group has become more important than the sum of the whole.
Sept. 11 brought us together in a way not seen in my lifetime, and the Democrat Party has consistently tried to disrupt that unity by promoting special interests above the common good, also known as "divide and conquer" strategy. They know their stength lies in dividing us, and we know our stength lies in unity. Why on earth would anyone want to elect them?

The sniper trial should be instructive to those who preach that the USA and the South in particular is a horrid, racist, sexist, intolerant entity. John Muhammad knew full well who he wished to kill: Americans. He was colour- and gender-blind in that he, at least, recognized the great truth Canadian and European pundits wish to obscure: that Americans are Everyman. The American Everyman has no gender, no occupation, no colour, and no physically defining characteristic, but what holds us together is our love of liberty, opportunity and confidence in ourselves and our future.

Although Sen. Miller restricts his comments to how the Democrats have failed the South, I think his words could well apply to the heartland as well as to those Californians who took matters into their own hands to rid themselves of a manipulative, incompetent governor who had ceased to remember he was supposed to address the needs of all those in that state.

The electorate has gotten restless. They have also gotten angrier. They are no longer willing to be patsies because too many things we love and value are on the line, and the Democrats failed to respect both our country and us. I'm not accusing them of being unpatriotic, I'm saying that they lost the hearts and minds of Americans because they are cynical. Of us.

You can't lead me if you despise me. I can't trust you if you don't trust me. President Bush understands us because he is one of us, and the elitism that has defined the Democrats in the past two decades has been exposed.

It's hard to see what the future holds for the Democrats. It is necessary to have at least two, strong political parties for democracy to thrive in the US, but parties have collapsed before and, in time, new parties were formed to take to the political field.

Sen. Zell Miller may, in time, be considered prophetic. He certainly has his finger on the pulse of the American people, and if the Democrats don't find new leadership and guiding principles they will find they only exist in the history books.

How sad that the party of Kennedy has fallen into such disrepute. But history often bites.

Posted by Debbye at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

A future for Chretien at the U.N.?

Nov. 3 - This is sure to help the United Nations regain some of it's lost credibility and relevance: PM out early for UN post?:

MONTREAL -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien is ready to accept a foreign post with the United Nations which could prompt him to leave office before his February retirement date, a Montreal newspaper reported today. Chretien was offered the job, likely with an African development agency, by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, according to LaPresse. Annan also asked Chretien to sit on an advisory council to promote institutional reform.

However, a spokesman with the prime minister's office's would neither confirm or deny the report. "His plans will be known when the time is right," Steven Hogue said.

The Liberal government in Canada under Chretien's leadership is a source of unending scandal as millions of dollars have simply disappeared, more millions have been inappropriately spent, conflict of interest charges are affecting the Cabinet, and reports from Auditor-General Sheila Fraser indicate that contracts have been awarded without due process.

The armed forces are using dated and dangerous equipment, but the Prime Minister took money from the Defence budget in order to purchase flying palaces for his own comfort. He's a gem, this Chretien; a real freaking gem.

In a sick, perverted way, Chretien and Africa are a perfect fit. The corruption of African govermments have reduced that continent to horrific levels of famine, poverty and disease. In Canada, Parliamentary powers have been subverted and redirected to the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) under Chretien and he is going to advise on institutional reform? Maybe advice on how to be more despotic?

The boondoggle spending in Canada will be a mere training ground for the opportunities offered by the UN, and there will be little fiscal oversight or accountability!

Today Canada, tomorrow the world! Like I said, a perfect fit.

UPDATE: Dang! Paul reports that rumours of Chretien's early departure are untrue.

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 3 - Life is

Nov. 3 - Life is so simple today. We have pat little phrases that can quickly define and thus dismiss very profound experiences without a second thought.

One such is survivor's guilt. Like most catchwords, it is focused on the easy and avoids the harsh. It defines guilt in the "Why did I survive" part without true context because it doesn't address the horrible reality: that one watched friends die and was unable to help them.

Stephen Thorne tells of one survivor who is struggling -- and winning -- that torment in today's Toronto Sun in Soldier: Mom saved my life:

KABUL -- Cpl. Dan Matthews feels he's slowly "exorcising the demons" that tormented him with guilt after two soldiers were killed and three wounded by a landmine Oct. The 32-year-old Toronto native returned to Afghanistan on Oct. 19, after two weeks at home with his wife and son, to resume his job as a Para Company signaller, watching out for his mates by radio while they patrol Afghanistan's capital.

He has even been out himself, insisting on driving an Iltis jeep like the one in which Sgt. Robert Short and Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger were killed when they hit a landmine 20 metres in front of Matthews' vehicle.

Three other soldiers were wounded, including two in the front seat of the vehicle he was in. But Matthews, facing backward during the off-road patrol through foothills southwest of the main Canadian base, escaped without a scratch.

The harshest aspect of guilt is that too often those who feel guilty are in fact blameless. The crew that checked the road for mines have got to be thinking they should have checked an hour or two later, even though the fact is that neither they nor Cpl. Matthews are guilty of anything. The guilt lies solely with those who planted the mines, and those who are offering and paying bounty for dead Canadian soldiers.
Days after the blast, his guilt was overwhelming. But now Matthews says he feels he knows why he was unhurt and able to crawl through dangerous ground in a bold but futile attempt to save his buddies.

Matthews' mother died when he was 15. He believes she had a hand in his survival.

"I've come to my own conclusion how I got out of that jeep without a mark on me," he said. "The only way I can describe is that -- somehow, some way -- my mother reached down from up above and pulled me out of that jeep before anything happened."

At first glance that may seem to be rather unlikely, unless of course you've ever been in a true near-miss could've died, should've died, didn't, why didn't I? situation. And then his explanation makes perfect sense.

There's a saying from WWI: "There are no atheists in foxholes." God bless and protect those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2003

Nov. 2 - Alpha Patriot

Nov. 2 - Alpha Patriot has some historical understanding of Vietnam and concludes that Iraq is not Viet Nam. He also links to some other excellent pieces on that subject.

Paul has some comments about Holier-than-Thou-itis also known as I Call "Bullshit" (heh) and Michael Coren also has a good column about Oh, the hypocrisy!, the Ramadan attacks in Iraq, and a delicious comment about the recent brouhaha over Miss Afghanistan:

How ridiculous but how wonderful that the fundamentalist gangsters of Kabul have been kicked off the stage by a pair of legs in a swimsuit.

Somehow, it's rather fitting. Now sisters, take back the night, the day, the towns, the cities and the whole country, every country, where religious bigots have made you and yours suffer for so very long.

American Digest has a good piece on detecting bias LA Times Shocked, SHOCKED at Fox News Bias but the meat is in this:
Murdoch's genius was to find the need for another voice, another universe, in American Media and fill it. And what the liberal media cannot stand is that this approach to unfair and unbalanced and Rightwing news is that, well, people love it. They buy it. They support it. Why? Because they happen to believe that it is, for them, The Truth.

Liberal media, which had a corner on The Truth for a long time, is now finding itself ignored by many people. It is finding that it now longer is in possession of "The Truth" but only "A Truth." Monopolies of Sensibilities don't like it when they lose to a different Sensibility. It costs them both revenue and vindication.

Although the subject is not about Canadian media, it well could be. I'm not holding my breath for the CRTC to grant FoxNews airing rights in Canada.

Harvey is improving my vocabulary again with some very pointed Word to Live By and a new albeit challenging contest.

Blackfive has a thoughtful post on the recent Case for Col. West. I've thanked God many, many times that wiser and cooler heads than mine were conducting the war on terror, and I'm not going to judge Col. West, but Blackfive takes a longer look from the viewpoint of being military and what taking an oath means, and we're talking about good old-fashioned honour, something that seems to be losing ground to pragmatism.

Boots on the Ground is leaving his current position so doesn't know when he'll be posting again, but his last post is a beauty. He's very honest in it, and anyone who assumes these and other soldier's blogs are just "Rah Rah America" stuff is in for a surprise. Soldiers are also citizens and can think for themselves.

Take care of yourself Kevin, and please post to let us know you're all right. God watch and keep the troops.

The Canukistanian covers Oliver North's column today in The long, hard slog plus his own comments. He's right on all counts, and until we admit to the fact that the Saudi-funded madrasses are recruiting tools for terrorists, it won't get any better.

That's all for now, I'll pick up tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Nov. 2 - I have

Nov. 2 - I have to take off for work already. It really sucks: I haven't really had time to read any other blogs and feel more acute withdrawal pains that unaddicted bloggers might find silly, but I assure you is real.

To my kids: nighttime is my time. The minute I walk in you freakin' vacate the computer because IT'S MINE! Yes! Just. Evacuate. Without. Begging. I'll come in loaded and hunting for bear! And Jack, Paul, NG, Francois, Michelle, Meryl, Frank J., and Harvey, and others some of whose first names I don't even know but who Make. My. Day. (in the good sense, of course!)

Maybe I should take some aspirin before I hit the road.

Be safe! There are crazy, demented people out there, and I'm rapidly becoming one of them! Bwa-ha-ha. (sigh)

Posted by Debbye at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 2 - This dispatch

Nov. 2 - This dispatch from Stephen Thorne indicates how Canadians are working to develop an infrastructure in Kabul: Troops train police:

KABUL -- It is 9 a.m. -- time for class to begin at a police district headquarters in Kabul. The teachers, Canadian paratroopers, have 21 students, ranging from raw recruits to the district chief himself -- a 31-year veteran.

The students take their places on benches outside the tidy brick headquarters.

Then the deputy chief runs out, shouting in Dari. There is a fight inside, he tells the police chief.

Read the whole thing. It is a good sketch of the challenge facing Canadians and the ISAF as they try to meld Western police work with the Afghan culture.

Nobody said it would be easy to restore stability to Afghanistan, but the Canadian troops are doing what they can and, most importantly, working with the people there.

The five-day courses are one contribution of Canada's 2,000-member contingent to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. They address subjects such as vehicle checkpoint procedure and crime-scene investigation.The police academy in Kabul has been overrun with recruits.

Many patrolmen had never been formally trained before ISAF came along.

Quinton said the idea is that they take what they're taught and mould it to their own methods.

At the end the final class, the students line up for a photo, then receive certificates.

One by one, each gives Quinton a crisp salute before proudly posing beside him for more photos.

"It feels good," says Quinton. "It makes you feel like you're making a difference. I know it's a long way to go, but it's small steps."

Maybe this unrelated story can give some perspective as to how difficult the task: Afghan cops and soldiers battle each other until it was broken up by US soldiers and helicopters.

The intensity of the rivalry between warlords is hard for me to comprehend, which is to say I recognize it but can't really claim to understand it, but I do know it is the factor that must be considered when we talk about "nation building" in Afghanistan.

The attempt to form an Afghan army which is based on loyalty to an Afghan government instead of different warlords is a first step in trying to form a nation.

It seems to me that ISAF forces are taking a similar approach to policing in Kabul: building a foundation that places the rule of law and security above personal allegiance to a particular warlord.

Remembrance Day is approaching and everyone is wearing their poppies. This year should be different: as we must remember those who served and fell including the recently fallen, Sgt. Short and Cpl. Beerenfenger who were killed last month, so let's keep a place in our hearts and minds for those who are serving and are now in the line of fire.

God bless and keep the troops.

Posted by Debbye at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 2 - Well it

Nov. 2 - Well it finally happened. After months of intermittent burst of gunfire in Toronto nieghbourhoods, including one incident that disrupted a kid's birthday party, a Wild shot kills man while he was sitting in his home:

Initial reports indicated the fatal slug ripped through the exterior siding and wall and then through a stereo speaker and the man's chest before embedding itself in a door.


Police found two shell casings from a large-calibre weapon on a nearby street.

The victim's wife and two young children were in the home at the time.

Americans will probably not get how horrific this is for Torontonians. The Liberal Party will definitely not get (or care about) the full extent of the anger some of us feel that they have poured so much money and effort into their pet Gun Registry that only effects legal, law-abiding long gun owners but doesn't touch criminals.

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 2 - I am

Nov. 2 - I am casting a couple of votes for some entrants in the New Blog Showcase this week.

First is for Bsurot Tovot: Our Mission:

Terror should never overshadow the good works that come out of Israel... This will have a different tone and a look at Israel that doesn’t highlight walls, attacks, and politicians. This blog will look at the everyday lives of Israel and the beauty that is there.
I think this blog is a good answer to the skewed "police blotter" reporting that we get from Israel, and hopefully will dispense with some misconceptions people have about life there.

There's more goodness with Earthly Pasions: Bare-Faced Betrayal. I can really sympathize with him. I have yet to be given flowers from a stranger just because I happened to wear a certain perfume or had someone run headfirst into a wall because he was watching me and my new hair colour. There oughtta be a law against such false advertising.

And ladies: heed this call to action. Who knew men needed to have the effects of using a new shaver applauded? I plead ignorance, and immediately told my dear one that his latest haircut really rocked! His blank look didn't fool: I know the abruptness of the announcement got his attention, although the poor dear spent the next few days trying to ascertain if I had had my hair done or was wearing new earrings.

Peripheral Mind takes on a touchy subject: Legalizing Illegals and calmly and analytically explores some of the wrong thinking that lies behind inaction in dealing with this issue. He starts with the recent California recall which was, in part, a taxpayer revolt: the vote there demonstrated that the voters recognize that the deteriorated state of social services (most particularly in health servies and education) in California are directly due to consequences of not dealing with the problem.

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2003

I have to quit now,

I have to quit now, but will try to post later this evening. I didn't see any reports from Camp Julien in today's Toronto Sun but will try to scour other Canadian news sources for any news from there.

Be safe, you all.

Posted by Debbye at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 1 - Well knock

Nov. 1 - Well knock me down with a feather: U.N. report on Baghdad bombing: senior U.N. officials must share responsibility. The report says that 80% of the injuries and possibly of some of the deaths were caused by flying shards of glass from windows, and the UN admits that bureaucracy was the reason they didn't address this problem:

In late June, the United Nations finally decided to get shatter resistant film for the windows but a U.N. official turned down an offer from the WHO to pay for immediate installation because competitive bidding already had started, the report said.
I'm guessing that Halliburton wasn't among the bidders. Let's put our tin foil hats away.
The report, by a U.N. team sent to Baghdad immediately after the Aug. 19 bombing, was the first to state that top U.N. officials bear some responsibility along with those dealing with security. It also said warnings before the attack were ignored.

The combined effect of "a series of individual lapses exposed staff to great risk even without the threat of or attack by a truck bomb," the report said. "A poorly functioning security management team, slow and bureaucratic in coming to decisions, not fully understanding their role and sloppy in its procedures led to inadequate precautions and lack of security discipline."

Indeed, hiring Saddam's security personnel might not have been the smartest move, but ignoring their warnings was even dumber.
"Even though the professional security officers consistently raised other threats there was no real sense of urgency to deal with them. The security staff was not prepared for any major serious incident, there was no security plan and due to the lack of cooperation by (U.N.) agencies, staff numbers and locations were not known," the investigators said.

As harsh as this criticism is, the U.N. investigators said the security staff weren't the only ones responsible.

"Some responsibility for the vulnerability of staff lies at all levels of the organization and the associated agencies, funds and programs," the report said.

The report was one of the documents discussed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the heads of U.N. funds and agencies at their semiannual meeting on Friday.

Before that closed-door session began, Annan sent a letter to over 25,000 U.N. staff members worldwide saying he was appointing an independent team of experts to assess responsibility for the lax security that failed to prevent or reduce the high number of casualties.

We'll see your bureaucratic incompetence and raise it one more bureaucratic team and report.
Annan also pledged to take immediate action to implement recommendations in another highly critical report that was released last week that blamed "dysfunctional" U.N. security for unnecessary casualties in the Aug. 19 attack.

That report was prepared by a U.N.-appointed panel chaired by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari who said the United Nations must address the issue of accountability.

The U.N. investigators cited in the report seen Friday paint a picture of an organization that was "strongly influenced by considerations of image, politics, funding, and enthusiasm to deliver programs" in deciding to send U.N. staff back to Iraq after the U.S.-led war - and that didn't pay enough attention to their security.

They actually don't blame the US. They might even be blaming the rampant anti-Americanism at the UN for the success of the Canal Hotel attack. I'm reeling here.

Read the whole thing. Is this taking of responsibility merely a temporary aberration or a sign of improvement? People want to know.

Posted by Debbye at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Nov. 1 - The ways

Nov. 1 - The ways of opposition parties are mysterious and humourous: Labor attacks Iraq contribution:

OPPOSITION foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd has attacked Australia's contribution towards the economic reconstruction of Iraq.

Mr Rudd said today the Howard government had pledged "a mere" $US12 million ($17.09 million) at the International Donors Conference in Madrid late last month.

He said the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had calculated that for the next four years the world community would need to contribute $US36 billion ($51.27 billion) to put Iraq's economy and social infrastructure back on an even keel.

"The Howard government's contribution to this conference in Madrid was a mere $12 million leaving a huge gap for the rest of the international community to pick up," Mr Rudd said.

But this is, after all, an opposition party, so Mr. Rudd doesn't miss the opportunity to attack the Howard government for the lack of WMD evidence:
"Six months later, John Howard's report card on the Iraq War is looking tattered and torn," Mr Rudd said.

"Six months later, John Howard has not yet produced any evidence of stockpiles of chemical weapons, any evidence of stockpiles of biological weapons or any evidence so far of the reconstitution of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

"These were the three grounds which John Howard outlined to take Australia to war."

Granted, a lot of people are asking "where are they," although from different standpoints. The only opposition that doesn't even bother asking is the "Iraqi resistance" (which should tell us a lot, you know?) and I suspect that the Ba'athists who could answer that question have yet to be caught. (I still think they are in Syria, but there's scant evidence of that as of yet.)

I am most sincerely not trying to offend Australians here. The oppositon parties in Canada and the US (although they don't call it opposition in the US, it is indeed such in deeds if not in name) also tend to nitpick to a point that is more adolescent than adult and to take a "whatever the government is for, we're against" neither of which are signs of leadership. [Come to think of it, the CA and NDP oppositions in Canada tend to be more focused on issues of principle than the Dems in the US or the PCs in Canada. The Dems may want to note that as the PCs are barely a party anymore.]

The UK opposition, the Conservative Party, is even screwier. They did support the intervention in Iraq, but indicated signs of deep psychosis by jumping on the BBC bandwagon when the controversy erupted over charges that the Blair goverment had "sexed up" the weapons dossier. Anything to look different, right? They may shift tactics with their new leader, but are they are too constrained by the appellation "opposition" to bother promoting alternatives?

As I said earlier, adolescent behaviour. Give me some signs of principled opposition, please? I understand principles; what I don't understand is weather-vane behaviour from a group that wants to rule a country. I can evaluate a party when I know what it is for, but when all I know is what it's against, it won't get my vote.

The Dems in the US House and Senate tried to re-enact the disasterous terms of the Versailles Treaty (aka Senatorial Lunacy) lead the way to try to turn the contribution into loans, which would cripple the Iraqi economy and thwart recovery, so both the Canadian and Australian Oppositions at least scored above the US opposition on that issue.

I think people have little patience for opportunism these days, and all political parties would be well-advised to take that into account before they take stands. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from Schwarzenegger's victory in California, and the biggest is that folks are tired of governments f***ing around. In my opinion, of course.

Posted by Debbye at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)