December 31, 2003

Participants in a Civics Class

Dec. 31 - To all of you, both readers and those I read, thank you for sharing the challenges of 2003 and bringing your insights and perspectives.

I remember reading a post (or maybe a comment?) where someone wrote that people in the blogosphere are participants in a civics class. Doesn't that just hit the nail squarely on the head? The degree of political debate going on in this medium is like the whole town showing up for one heck of a stormy meeting.

The internet has given a voice to some of the finest minds I've ever encountered: Lileks, Den Beste, Wretchard, Whittle, and Currie.

Some of the most prolific: Glenn R. and Charles J

And the funniest: Frank J., ScrappleFace and Allah.

I'd wax all eloquent and go on about the Renascence but heck, you already know it or you wouldn't read blogs.

Goodness to all of you in this new year, and enjoy the party!

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

Pundits sum up 2003

Dec. 31 - There's some good links over at Jack's Newswatch from Canadian columnists some year-end summations.

Rosie di Manno of the Toronto Star has Out with the crass, the cretinous declaring that 2003 was the year of living stupidly. She reminded us of things we'd much rather forget.

Gillian Cosgrove of the National Post writes about The dubious, devious and dumb of 2003. Note the reminder at the top of the page reminding us that as of January 24, only paid subscribers will be able to read the subscriber-challenged NP online.

Nice lead up to Mark Steyn's column in the Jerusalem Post (it may require quick registeration, and the paper is well worth the time.) He has some thoughts about predictions: The great, the good, the wrong.

The editorial in today's Calgary Sun (limited link life alert) has High Hopes but it's mostly because 2003, which they describe as "reeling from crisis to crisis," has finally ended.

Those those crisis had another common thread and Walter Robinson isn't happy that Some of our leaders are missing.

Posted by Debbye at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2003

An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror

Dec. 30 - The things you learn when you can read tomorrow's news today: the Daily Telegraph (UK) reports that Hawks tell Bush how to win war on terror filed by David Rennie in Washington:

President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.
Demanding? Not urging, recommending, or advocating? and the use of the word "manifesto" seems to make much of a policy that has long been urged, recommended and advocated. That issue is more one of timing than of substance.
The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington. [The links provided were part of the article: the DT really gets the internet.]

We have a guru, and nobody told me? Danged thing is probably sitting in someone's blog and I haven't seen it yet. David Frum is a Canadian, by the way. There go those pesky Canadians again, stirrin' up the folks in Washington while there's still turkey leftovers in the fridge. [I have a great deal of respect for David Frum, in case my tongue-in-cheek was misinterpreted. He is one of my favourite reads at the National Review and was a columnist for the National Post up here before they decided to commit suicide.]
In the battle for the president's ear, the manifesto represents an attempt by hawks to break out of the post-Iraq doldrums and strike back at what they see as a campaign of hostile leaking by their foes in such centres of caution as the State Department or in the military top brass.
Battle for the president's ear. Leaking by their foes. Post-Iraq doldrums. Centres of caution as the State Department. I'm impressed. Ann Coulter is impressed. Neither of us have ever come close to such heights of alarmist and emotionally charged language. If this was a leaflet, I'd call it propaganda. Since this is a newspaper report, I guess it's yellow journalism. William Randolph Hearst is beaming with pride, and I'm not going to note Rennie's hyperbole further.
Their publication, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, coincided with the latest broadside from the hawks' enemy number one, Colin Powell, the secretary of state.

Though on leave recovering from a prostate cancer operation, Mr Powell summoned reporters to his bedside to hail "encouraging" signs of a "new attitude" in Iran and call for the United States to keep open the prospect of dialogue with the Teheran authorities.

Hurrah! Death Quotes Appear just when I've eschewed hyperbole! But wait, they're heaped onto Mr. Powell. What gives? Despite the placement in the article, I am fairly certain the book presentation was not on Sect. Powell's mind when he spoke to reporters. The fact that the Iranian government accepted aid from us means nothing, and the fact that they refused aid from Israel is far more significant.
Such talk is anathema to hawks like Mr Perle and Mr Frum who urge Washington to shun the mullahs and work for their overthrow in concert with Iranian dissidents.
What's wrong with that? Are we supposed to embrace them and try to help them stay in power?
It may be assumed that their instincts at least are shared by hawks inside the government, whose twin power bases are the Pentagon's civilian leadership and the office of the vice-president, Dick Cheney.
Hey, what about me? I'm a power base. I'm in the Constitution. I'm the part that says "We the people."
Such officials prevailed over invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but have been seen as on the back foot since the autumn as their post-war visions of building a secular, free-market Iraq were scaled back in favour of compromise and a swift handover of power next June.

The book demands that any talks with North Korea require the complete and immediate abandonment of its nuclear programme.

As North Korea will probably refuse such terms, the book urges a Cuba-style military blockade and overt preparations for war, including the rapid pullback of US forces from the inter-Korean border so that they move out of range of North Korean artillery.

Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime in North Korea, the authors write.

The authoritarian rule of Syria's leader, Bashar Assad, should also be ended, encouraged by shutting oil supplies from Iraq, seizing arms he buys from Iran, and raids into Syria to hunt terrorists.

The authors urge Mr Bush to "tell the truth about Saudi Arabia". Wealthy Saudis, some of them royal princes, fund al-Qa'eda, they write.

The Saudi government backs "terror-tainted Islamic organisations" as part of a larger campaign to "spread its extremist version of Islam throughout the Muslim world and into Europe and North America".

The book calls for tough action against France and its dreams of offsetting US power. "We should force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington," it states. Britain's independence from Europe should be preserved, perhaps with open access for British arms to American defence markets.

Give credit where its due: there's a nice juxtaposition of words in that last paragraph: "tough [US] action" contrasts nicely with "French dreams."

I repeat: it's hardly a secret that we are going to have to confront North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and France at some point. Anyone who thinks we'd be safe while Syria, Iran, France, North Korea and Saudi Arabia continue stirring up mischief fails to understand how big the threat is. Col. Khaddafi certainly understood that, and took actions to remove himself from The List. That option remains open to North Korea, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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

Afghan Constitution

Dec. 30 - Troops wary after attack yesterday by a homicide bomber in Kabul who killed 4 Afghan security officers and their driver after they took him into custody. The Taliban claim that 60-120 would-be terrorists are already in the country and set to attack UN workers and ISAF forces during the upcoming conference being held in Kabul to draft a new consitution.

Kabul police chief Baba Jan said the suspect was a foreigner, but refused to identify him further.

It wasn't clear if the constitutional convention, being held by a grand council, or loya jirga, about 10 km from the blast, was the intended target.

Osama bin Laden had no comment. He's been awfully uncommunicative these days.

The Daily Telegraph reports from the conference: Like drinking water from the edge of a sword.

By mid-morning yesterday it was clear the debate was not going well. The anger among the 500 delegates of the loya jirga - now dragging into its 17th day - was palpable.

So the deputy chairman of the grand assembly did what any Afghan politician would do in a time of crisis: he announced a poetry reading session.

[...]

A powerful group of former jihadi leaders and Islamic fundamentalists demanded six major amendments, including the appointment of three vice-presidents and the establishment of provincial councils.

This would dilute the powers of the central government. Mr Karzai and his supporters are pushing for a strong presidential system to unite the country after years of factional fighting.

So far, 124 of the 160 articles have been approved and he seemed to be winning. But by mid-afternoon, the petition demanding the changes appeared and the chairman of the loya jirga, facing a major crisis, adjourned the proceedings with a suitably poetic speech.

"The job of our delegates to create a constitution is surely a difficult one," he said. "It is like drinking water from the edge of a sword."

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Saudi terror alert for Brits

Dec. 29 - More on the report out of Australia on terror plots against BA planes sitting on the tarmac in Riyahd in the Washington Times Britons told to avoid Saudi travel

The British government yesterday warned citizens against travel to Saudi Arabia amid disputed reports that two small airplanes loaded with explosives were prevented from crashing into a British Airways jet. (Emphasis added.)
The official Saudi Press Agency released a statement yesterday claiming the assertions were untrue. British Airways cited security concerns for their no comment.

(I'm not posting the sections that deal with the sitution with France over the cancellation of the flights into LAX last weekend. They are well covered elsewhere.)

[...]

The State Department issued a warning similar to Britain's about Saudi Arabia on Dec. 17, just days before the Homeland Security Department put the nation on Code Orange, or high alert of a terrorist attack.

Free flights out of Saudi Arabia were offered to nonessential personnel and their dependents at the U.S. Embassy and consulates, and American citizens were advised to leave the country.

"Following terrorist attacks in Riyadh in May and November, we continue to believe terrorists are planning further attacks in Saudi Arabia and that these could be in the final stages of preparation," the British advisory read. "We advise British nationals against all but essential travel to Saudi Arabia."

Not a bad idea, considering this AP report Car Explodes in Street in Saudi Capital:
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- An unmarked police car exploded in the Saudi capital Monday, but there were no casualties, police said.

Nobody was in the car when it exploded in Riyadh's eastern Al-Salaam district, and it was not known what caused the blast.

There are some conflicting accounts from witnesses who wished to remain unnamed, and this:
The blast destroyed the car and shattered windows in nearby buildings, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite channel reported.

Security forces cordoned off the scene, and armored vehicles drove through the neighborhood. Police searched cars parked nearby and asked pedestrians in the area to present identification.

Islamic extremists have detonated four car bombs in Riyadh this year, killing 52 people, including the assailants, and wounding more than 100 others. The attacks on May 12 and Nov. 8 targeted housing compounds for foreigners.

I've seen this reporter's name, Adnan Malik, on a few AP reports, and he does a professional job. He gives us the facts; when the sources are questionable, he makes that clear without being snide or sarcastic, and when they are contradictory, as in this case, he reports both and leaves it up to the reader to take the appropriate grain of salt.

Posted by Debbye at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

Steyn Speaks

Dec. 29 - New Steyn column up at the Telegraph: The pundits in love with doom and gloom.

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

Bombing attempt at Kabul airport

Dec. 29 - You've all probably already read about today's attack and the claim that 60 bombers ready to strike: Taliban:

SIX people were killed when a suspected suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body after being arrested by intelligence agents near Kabul international airport, Afghan officials said today.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast, which he said was aimed at International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) peacekeeping troops based at the airport.

He warned that dozens more suicide bombers were in the capital.

Kabul police chief Baba Jan told reporters at the blast scene: "Chairman (Abdul) Jalal along with four bodyguards were killed while trying to arrest a terrorist who had explosive devices with him."

Jalal was the head of the 21st intelligence directorate, a department of the Afghan intelligence service.


The bomber was identified as Abdullah, a 35-year-old from Chechnya.

Posted by Debbye at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

Vatican terror target?

Dec. 29 - Not suprisingly Cardinal says Pope unafraid of Vatican terror threat revealed by Berlusconi.

It also confirms that special precautions have been taken around the Vatican.

This is the second mention I've seen of the story that Berlusconi told a reporter that the Vatican was targeted for attack so I'm going on record as believing the initial report. Heh.

Berlusconi shocked many in Italy by his comments to the conservative daily Libero, which ran a three-page spread on the new Vatican threat.

Berlusconi distanced himself from the remarks but didn't directly deny the contents. His office specified that the premier hadn't granted an official interview to Libero. "One cannot confuse a quick exchange of Christmas greetings with political declarations," it said.

Italy's opposition has cried foul over Berlusconi's latest remarks, saying they were irresponsible and needlessly heightened fears. Rome's provincial president, who attended midnight mass inside St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve, also expressed surprise that he knew nothing of the alleged threat.

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

Bam earthquake update

Dec. 29 - Everybody wants to help victims of the Iranian earthquake. The article describes efforts being made in Toronto and encourages people to contribute to the Red Cross:

Last night a spokesman for the local Iranian community said an umbrella organization called the Bam Iran Earthquake Relief Committee has been formed in an effort to coordinate the fundraising efforts of over 25 Iranian-Canadian organizations.
Another article notes that concerns about the government and black marketeers have altered fundraisers strategies:
Mistrust of the Iranian government is "widespread through the Iranian diaspora across the world," said Sam Norouzi, a member of a Montreal coalition working to bring relief to people in the southern Iranian community of Bam, destroyed Friday in a strong earthquake.

Donated supplies shipped by families were sold through the black market during an earthquake in the early 1990s, he said.

This time, many members of the Iranian community in Canada are funnelling their money via the Canadian Red Cross to avoid a repeat of the situation.

Never give up hope! A young girl pulled alive from rubble. The article also notes that 3 men pronounced dead stirred in their shrouds.

According to this Fox report, a provincial government spokesman said that 25,000 bodies have been recovered. Aftershocks continue to tumble the few remaining walls and compares the city of Bam to a moonscape.

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

Beagle MIA on Mars

Dec. 29 - I was a science fiction fan at a fairly young age. Anything science-fictiony, and I would watch it or read it. Needless to say, I read a lot of good short stores (especially from Amazing Stories magazine) and saw some incredibly bad movies.

There were also books, like Space Cat, but we won't discuss that. Ever.

Maybe that early fascination with the possibilities "out there" coupled with the number of probes that have been lost on Mars explains my imagination running full tilt. The canyons there are monstrously deep, and I remember a book by Ben Bova about Mars (I think it was called Mars) that had the discovery of permafrost under the surface and hinted there might be more to the canyons than emptiness and rocks.

Maybe there is something, or some thing, on Mars that is an unknown unknown. Maybe the rocks are sentient and felt insulted at being named after cartoon characters.

The really sad part is that I started thinking about this stuff a couple of years ago when the Polar Lander and the two independent probes went AWOL.

Maybe I better find another news story quickly before someone notices that the Bova book isn't all that old. Move along, folks. Nothing here but a senior moment.

UPDATE: They are speculating that the Beagle landed in a crater which would explain the radio silence. Hmm, weren't the probes that accompanied the Polar Lander thought to have ended up - the both of them - in canyons? Bad sign when they start re-cycling excuses. I'm just sayin'.

UPDATE: I am not alone in my lunacy. Rantburg reports the Beagle is another kill for the Martian Defense Force. (Link via Jay Currie.

Posted by Debbye at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

Burundi papal nuncio killed

Dec. 29 - Burundi papal nuncio shot dead

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The pope's ambassador in Burundi was shot and killed by gunmen who opened fire at his car in the Central African nation, the Vatican and a missionary news agency said Monday.

Monsignor Michael Courtney was shot in the head, shoulder and a limb, according to the Misna missionary news agency. He died from a major hemorrhage during surgery.

A Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the death of the papal nuncio but would offer no details until his relatives had been informed.

CNN has some information about the intermittent civil war there.

The report from Fox is from the same AP feed, but they do offer a bit more information about Monsignor Courtney:

Courtney was born in 1945 in Nenagh, 85 miles southwest of Dublin. He was ordained in 1968, and worked as a parish priest around Ireland until 1976, it said. He then moved to Rome and entered the Pontifical Diplomatic Academy.

Beginning in 1980, he was a papal representative in South Africa, then in Zimbabwe, Senegal, India, Yugoslavia, Cuba and Egypt, the 2000 announcement said. Prior to going to Burundi, he worked for five years as special envoy in Strasbourg, France, monitoring the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

Given the rumours about a terrorist threat against the Vatican, I thought it worthwhile to find out what I could about religion in Burundi. According to this, 67% are Christians (62% are Roman Catholics and 5% are Protestants,) 23% retain indigenous beliefs, and 10% are Muslims.

The civil war there is the most likely connection, but I haven't found any theories as to which faction could be behind it or how it would advance anyone's cause.

UPDATE: This report from the Daily Telegraph (UK) says that Courtney was well-known to the rebels of the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), the prime suspects, because last year he had negotiated the release of a fellow priest held hostage by the FNL.

Posted by Debbye at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Ouch

Dec. 27 - I've been trying to resist the temptation, but I just can't. Go here and think "South Park:"

Canadian Ambassador: "We've already apologized for Bryan Adams. In fact, we've apologized a number of times."

Are they prophets or what?

Posted by Debbye at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

Mark Steyn remembers 2003

Dec. 28 - Mark Steyn looks back on 2003 and gives a good collection of past columns and epigrams here.

Also, Mark's latest column in the Chicago Sun-Times is here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda blueprint for terror?

Dec. 28 - An article from Australia (Al-Qaeda blueprint exposed) has some information and speculations that, if true, explain the recent terror alert and maybe give some indication as to future measures to stop planned attacks.

The article says that officials confirmed terror threats have been issued for the maiden voyage of Queen Mary II.

A British MP says the Saudis arrested two pilots who were planning to crash light planes loaded with explosives into British Airways passenger jets while they were still on the tarmac in Riyadh.

There's also a very strange claim that acoustic sea-mines which disappeared from a naval base in North Korea might have been meant for use in the Straits of Gibraltar to attack the British carrier Ark Royal.

Plans for the attack emerged after a US spy plane discovered scores of acoustic sea-mines had disappeared from a naval base in North Korea.

US intelligence services believe the mines could be aboard 28 "terror ships" Osama bin Laden has assembled in the past year. The capture of Al-Qaeda's chief of naval operations, Ahmad Belai al-Neshari, has helped to reveal the extent of the organisation's maritime ambitions.

Al-Neshari was found carrying a 180-page dossier that listed "targets of opportunity". These included large cruise liners sailing from Western ports.

The article also cites some very common sense problems with trying to carry out some of the proposed attacks.

Interesting article.

Posted by Debbye at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

Year end punditry

Dec. 28 - Okay, these round-ups happen as every year ends, but Michele Mandel's take of events captured both the Biblical and the Absurd:

We must have done something very, very bad to deserve the year that was. We were smote by the biblical 10 plagues -- we had wind, fire and darkness, we had cattle disease, plague and pestilence. All we were missing were the frogs.
I suspect she already knows that the frogs were busy in Colorado. It's not all funny, as we recall Holly Jones and still-missing Cecilia Zhang, but invokes hope as we recall Elizabeth Smart.

Before any posts in the comments, I know that Mandel remains opposed to US action in Iraq. That's her right, and doesn't change the fact that she's right on so many other issues.

Posted by Debbye at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Relief efforts in Bam

Dec. 28 - Good round-up of international search-and-rescue efforts and delivery of supplies and aid (including safe drinking water) here.

Kitchener resident Mahmud Pouladuand is waiting for information about his father, uncles and other family members who lived in Bam and has some interesting criticisms of the Iranian government's response.

Toronto student Bahman Kalbasi is also waiting for word from Bam, and with other Iranian students here, are encouraging people to donate to the Canadian Red Cross. He revealed some I didn't know: the southeastern part of Iraq isn't a known earthquake zone as the north is, which surely deepened the suprise and lack of preparation when the quake hit. There is also information in the article about fund raising events being planned by Iranian-Canadians.

Little is worse than being thousands of miles away and the only thing one can do to help loved ones is to hope. My memory of those hours before I got through my family in SF back in '89 still make me shudder. I really hope Mahmud Pouladuand and Bahman Kalbasi get some good news.

UPDATE: That sounded incredibly fatuous. Sorry, it was meant sincerely. I just can't find encouraging words for people who desperately need to know how the people they love are. Maybe because there are no words.

One ray of hope for survivors:

Most of the thousands of homeless slept in tents or cars Saturday night, compared with a day earlier when most had only blankets against near-freezing temperatures.
Despite the attention focused on the US offer of aid and the Iranian government's acceptance of that aid, I hesitate to read too much into it. It is enough that both sides overcame distrust long enough to respond to the needs of so many victims of the earthquake, but I can't help feeling it is a small step forward.

Wow! Jack's analysis and terrific idea (it's been updated, check it again) hit the mark!

Posted by Debbye at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

Iraq and LOTR

Dec. 28 - Ran across this interesting post by Fayrouz, an Iraqi woman who lives in Dallas at Live From Dallas (or hit Ctrl+F "Lord of the Rings"):

It's been said to me that each person interprets J. R. R. Tolkiens story of the Middle Earth in a way that reflects his/her beliefs. I believe that's true. I heard different interpretations of the story from different people. Each of these people has different life views.

The first installment, "The Fellowship of The Rings," came three-months after 9/11. I don't know if it was a coincidence, but 9/11 shaped my view of the story.

If you ever read "The Hobbit," you would know that danger was already building up in Middle Earth. However, people kept going on with their lives. As we always think, "if it's not on my doorsteps, it has nothing to do with me."

This isn't a deconstruction, it is an honest view of how her view of the trilogy has been affected by world events. Her comparison of Frodo's and Gollum's inner struggles with that of the Iraqi people is excellent, and reminds us of another reason why Tolkien's work has survived so long.

Okay, I really wish that I had thought of it. Sometimes even Tolkien purists fanatics like me get too bogged down in the overall sweep of the epic and forget the day to day observations Tolkien made that make his work eternal.

Posted by Debbye at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

Coalition KIA in Iraq

Dec. 28 - More details on the terrorist attacks that killed 4 Bulgarian and 2 Thai soldiers and information about the latest attack which killed one US soldier and two Iraqi children here and here.

Kevin reports on the attacks from Iraq and the response:

The CPA has been doing a great job thus far fighting militarily. Capturing DOZENS of terrorists on a daily bases. Sometimes, innocent people get rolled up sometimes. I am sure it upsets them, however, it is necessary. One good thing though, more and more counter-terrorists groups are being activated and taking over the job of raids and everything else. Though, our military has done a fantastic job with fighting the terrorists, despite an average of 1 death a day. The only way it will be won is by cooperation between Iraqis and CPA and IP (Iraqi Police) and Iraq's own military. I think the Coalition has set Iraq up for success. I don't any doubt in my mind that the new front on the war on terror in Iraq will be won by both CPA and the Iraqi people. We just have to be resolved and patient.
Resolve. Patience. Faith in the Iraqi people. He summed it all up with 7 words.

Heh, he also reports on a new song making the rounds.

Posted by Debbye at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

New Iraqi bloggers

Dec. 28 - Zeyad of Healing Iraq welcomes two new Iraqi bloggers:

Sarmad of Road of a Nation, and a family blog called, appropriately,
A Family in Baghdad by Salem Pax's friend Raed and his brothers Khalid, Majid and their mother Fayza.

A spectrum of bloggers has emerged in Iraq giving voice to optimistic, cynical and critical thoughts. To me, that means that one of the transitions to democratic ideals is happening right now because of that spectrum, they already "get it." The difference now is that they can publish their thoughts and don't need to whisper.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

Christmas wishes for the troops

Dec. 27 - I don't think Ralph Peters would mind if this was re-directed to the many Canadian soldiers stationed overseas and missing their homes and families this Christmas.

Dear Pfc. Smith,

Most of your fellow Americans Canadians won't think of you today. Some may see a news clip of your Christmas dinner in Iraq Afghanistan, filmed against a backdrop of holiday decorations your unit scraped together. Those who once served in the ranks themselves will think of you at least briefly. And you'll be cherished in the hearts, if not in the arms, of your loved ones.

But most of us won't think of you at all. And that's a wonderful thing.

It's your great gift to us.

Because of you, hundreds of millions of Americans Canadians who celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace will spend this holiday in peace themselves, with their loved ones safe and our blessed country secure.

Read the whole thing.

You can read about Canadian efforts in Afghanistan at the Operation Athena Homepage (from Winds of Change via Right On!.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

Reconstruction Contracts in Iraq

Dec. 27 - This should provide plenty of ammunition for those who already think Canada is an amoral nation of free-loaders: U.S. policy on Iraq reconstruction bids is not justified, Canadians say.

A strong majority of Canadians feel the United States is not justified in refusing Iraq reconstruction contracts to companies from Canada and the other countries that did not support its war effort there, a new poll suggests.

Seven in 10 Canadians - 71 per cent - believe that Canada should not be excluded from bidding on projects to rebuild the Middle Eastern country, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid for The Globe and Mail and CTV.

Residents of Quebec are the most adamant, with four out of five of those polled agreeing that the United States was not justified in making this decision.

Almost as many British Columbians - 77 per cent - offered the same opinion, as did 69 per cent of Atlantic Canadians.

Obviously, I don't know how truly accurate this poll is, nor how maniupulative the questions. But we have the interpretation of the poll from the good old Globe and Mail, ever the revisionists:
Companies from countries including Canada, Germany and France - critics of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq - were told that they need not apply for any of the $18.6-billion (U.S.) worth of new contracts being awarded to rebuild the country.
Critics? More like obstructionists. More like used a corrupted oil-for-food program to help Saddam and his bloody regime get around UN sanctions in exchange for lucrative oil contracts despite the costs to the Iraqi people the program was supposed to protect.

More like Oil. For. Palaces. Tatoo that and wear it with all the shame it deserves.

More like acted as a go-between for Saddam and North Korea for the illegal purchase of missiles. (Hey there UNSC member Syria, how much is oil costing you now that the illegal pipeline is turned off?)

More like sold Saddam weapons and plastic shredders to use against Iraqis and keep him in power.

More like supplied Saddam with enough money to keep his torturers and police state apparati in clover.

More like sent military experts to advise Saddam on his military planning.

Tell me: as Canada did not support the Iraq War, just what justifies Canadian bids on those contracts?

Canada's PM Chretien travelled to UNSC member Mexico to enlist their support against regime change in Iraq. (Read the article, it may stimulate a few memory cells.)

Chretien (who is also connected by marriage to a family that controls majority interest in France's TotalFinaElf) collaborated with the countries of the Axis of Weasels, Syria and Saddam Hussein to maintain the pretenses of the oil for food program all the while circumventing the stipulation that the proceeds be used to purchase food, medical supplies, and those things needed to keep the electrical and water supplies functional.

The UN took a 2.2% cut to help foster the illusion. Kofi Annan personally signed off on all expenditures under that program, yet the proponents, including PM Martin, of the "international community" have the balls to proclaim themselves best suited to conduct a trial of Saddam in the international court dominated by frigging Belgium?

A change in faces in the Cabinet does not reflect a change in policy, PM Martin, except to the deliberately delusional. It's still the same Canadian Parliment, a majority of which voted not to support the US and only reluctantly, and with much prodding from the Canadian Alliance, voiced lukewarm support that Saddam had been removed as more mass graves were uncovered.

PM Martin, in the name of Canada, is whining that Canadians want a) US tax dollars and b) to turn Saddam, the man Chretien and Parliament tried desparately to keep in power, over to an international court run by the very people who collaborated with Canada's former PM Chretien to keep Saddam in power with the approval of the Canadian Parliament.

Weasels they were, and weasels they remain.

Yet Chretien, in the name of Canada, had ordered Canadian ships in the Persian Gulf not to detain Saddam or any members of his family if they were caught fleeing Iraq despite a truckload of reports from international human rights organizations that accused them of torture and murder.

That is all way, way beyond "criticism."

Canada wants better relations with the US? On the surface, the Martin government will get it. But if Canadians want better relationships with Americans, which would mean restoring trust, it keeps getting more elusive. The US electoral system and our separation of powers guarantees that the will of the American people will be heard in Washington DC, and no elected official forgets that.

Like it or not, this poll is guaranteed to earn contempt from Americans, because the perception will be that when it comes to lucrative contracts paid for by US taxpayers, 71% of the "morally superior" Canadians are eager to hop aboard the gravy train.

Furthermore, too many Americans know that when it comes to self-defense, Canada is too freaking cheap to spend money on her own defense capabilities so US forces will have to babysit provide security for any Canadian contractors in Iraq.

How can Canadians convince Americans that they are worth it? I live here, and even I can't be persuaded that US soldiers should risk their lives to defend greedy Canadian contractors.

Damned right I want that money to go to countries like Bulgaria and Thailand. Bulgarian and Thai soldiers were killed today, and I am grateful for their sacrifices and to their people. We share something with them we don't share with Canada: the willingness to bear the heavy burdens.

We know who are friends are, who we can count on, and who stands tall in this world. I am overjoyed that we are building stronger and closer relations with them as well as with the British, Australians, Italians, Danish, Poles and Spanish, and if I regret that Canada is not numbered among them, it doesn't mean I'll overlook Canada's lack of moral imagination and give her a pass.

One last time: the US is not the one on trial. The rest of the world is.

Nothing can long withstand those who passionately love freedom. If the day comes when we do fall, we'll go down fighting and give future generations such examples of courage and determination as to light their souls with our passion.

UPDATE: I usually enjoy Ralph Peters' columns, but this one has me fuming because it appears the US is again stiffing the Poles. I have an idea: let's not do that. We're still trying to shake off the stench of Yalta. (It is an excellent column, by the way. I just hate the message.)

(Globe and Mail link via Neale News, FrontPage Mag link via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

BSE cow from Canada

Dec. 27 - Please note that this is a tentative conclusion: Mad Cow Was >From Canada; U.S. Exports Down. It's nice to see the investigation is proceeding so well:

Based on the Canadian records, the cow was 6-years-old - older than U.S. officials had thought, DeHaven said. U.S. papers on the cow said she was 4- or 4-years-old.
Huh? Am I the only wondering if they are talking about the same cow?

UPDATE: Evidently not.

Sorry for being so irritable, but we went through all this in Canada just last spring. The one clear fact that emerged was that there were precious few facts: most of what was being said about the disease was speculation: they aren't sure how (or even if) the disease is transmitted from cow to cow, if it can jump cross-species (referring back to elk in Alberta stricken with lung wasting disease,) and if it can occur spontaneously which in turn would render much that has been done to stop the spread of the disease (including the wholesale slaughter of herds) an expensive public relations act which had no real effect in containing the disease.

As I commented yesterday, they still don't know how the Alberta cow became infected. That just might be the starting point for a new series of investigations to test current scientific theory about the disease.

The age is significant because the United States and Canada have banned feed that could be the source of infection since 1997.
Ah, usage of the word could which implies some doubt, but remains the number one solution for prevention of the disease.

I really, really hope that the federal, provincial and state meat and argricultural agencies have been conducting ongoing tests and discussions since last spring when the disease hit the beef industry in Canada.

UPDATE: Paul and Jack have some other thoughts on this.

UPDATE: Maybe one of my New Year's Resolutions should be not to fall behind reading Glenn R.'s blog. Here is the link to his round-up of the Washington BSE case links, including one from a Canadian government agency stating that the Alberta case was determined to be spontaneous (science types might be especially interested in that link.)

UPDATE: The Toronto Sun has a brief Q & A about mad cow disease. As I stated early in this post, Canadians have already been through this. The best solution is don't eat cow brains (which is totally easy for me because there are just some things I won't do anyway. It's just a part of my cultural bias. No offense to Capers, but I don't eat fish heads either.)

Here's a link to the UK Dept. of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs webpage for BSE.

Posted by Debbye at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

New Blog Showcase

Dec. 27 - Time to vote in the The Truth Laid Bear's New Weblog Showcase.

I enjoyed viewing (and reading!) Reality's Angry Howie and "the point". I can't recall a similar photojournal in the showcase, and it's a good innovation. He makes some pretty shrewd guesses about "the point" too.

Dan K. O'Leary highlights one of the things I admire most about President Bush in the post Bush, Saddam, and Howard Dean and that he knows what is priority is even if his opponents don't. While Dean prattles (and points!) away, the president is committed to doing the job with which he is entrusted and ignores the slights and slurs aimed his way because protecting Americans is his concern.

Dan says the president delivered a smackdown by reminding Dean that the primary focus right now is to defend our beloved country. GWB is more concerned with that than with defending himself against spitballs from the opposition.

Give Justin full marks for research! He read the NR piece with John Rhys-Davies and set about discovering the political views of the cast of the LoTR and found that Sean Astin considers supporting the troops a duty and another Rhys-Davies gem in which he explains his views on Tolkien's LoTR Politics of the Lord of the Rings. I think Justin would agree that dropping The Scouring of the Shire made JRRT roll over in his grave. (I am not voting for this because it's about the LoTR. No, I'm not. Really. You'd think I'm obsessed with the collected works of LoTR or something. Sheesh.)

Eric adds another layer to the interview with Rhys-Davies in Someone in Hollywood is FOR Western Civilization? adding emphasis on the fact that slavery was and continues to be one of those things about which the UN talks but does nothing. And Rhys-Davies' father saw the contradiction way back when.

Read these and enjoy, and remember, you too can vote simply by linking the posts on your own blog.

Posted by Debbye at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

IP, Coalition KIA in Karbala

Dec. 27 - In Karbala, Fatal attacks hit Polish-controlled Iraq. Reports are contradictory, with one report saying the dead included Polish, another saying Bulgarian soldiers died, and another saying two Thai engineers were killed.

This Fox report has a death toll of 11 including 6 Iraqi police officers and 4 coalition soldiers.

Armed with car bombs, mortars and machine guns, insurgents launched three coordinated attacks in the southern city of Karbala on Saturday, killing 11 people - including six Iraqi police officers and four coalition soldiers, military and hospital officials said.

An Iraqi civilian also was killed.

The attacks also wounded at least 172 people, with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt saying 37 of them were coalition soldiers, including five Americans.

Some 135 Iraqi police officers and civilians also were wounded, said Ali al-Arzawi, deputy head of Karbala General Hospital.

"It was a coordinated, massive attack planned for a big scale and intended to do much harm," said Maj. Gen. Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, head of the Polish-led multinational force responsible for security around Karbala, from his headquarters at Camp Babylon in comments carried on Polish television.

The car bombers were shot before they could enter the military bases, he added.

The city's university, police station and mayor's office were also targeted.

UPDATE: Fox has identified the nationalities of the eleven dead to include four Bulgarian and two Thai soldiers, six Iraqi police officers and one Iraqi civilian.

Posted by Debbye at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

Christmas terror threat at Vatican

Dec. 27 - Berlusconi: Christmas Terror Threat at Vatican:

Berlusconi told Milan's Libero newspaper of a "precise and verified news of an attack on Rome on Christmas Day."

"A hijacked plane into the Vatican," Berlusconi is quoted as saying. "An attack from the sky, is that clear? The threat of terrorism is very high in this instant. I passed Christmas Eve in Rome to deal with the situation. Now I feel calm. It will pass."

He added, "It isn't fatalism, but the knowledge of having our guard up. If they organized this, they will not pull it off."

I admit I was somewhat skeptical when Berlusconi previously said a leader of an Arab nation (later identified as Khadaffi of Libya) had appealed to him for help in healing the breach with the West, so although I still retain skepticism at any unverified report, I don't find it so easy to brush this one off.

UPDATE: Instapundit links to this from Reuters in which Berlusconi denies telling Libero newspaper there was a terrorist threat to the Vatican.

Meanwhile, media reports about the elevation of the US terror threat to orange and the cancellation of Air France flights into LAX are pretty speculative including this report that US officials want to talk to "no shows" for the cancelled flights as well because, according to this, unnamed French sources say that all 13 were on terror watch lists.

Posted by Debbye at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

Bam Earthquake

Dec. 27 - The dominant story today is the Iran earthquake (At least 5,000 die in Iran quake) and although international search and rescue teams have not yet arrived, this struck me simply because it is so universal a response:

Shocked Iranians mobilized to help. In Tehran, volunteers jammed a blood-donation center. In Fars province, neighboring Kerman, the government asked for donations of blankets and food and for volunteers to head to Bam to help in relief work.
According to this CNN report, international assistance has begun to arrive and highlights responses from Turkey, Russia, Spain, Britain and the United States. The UN is sending food, blankets and water purification units.

Canada's military Disaster Assistance Response Team has been put on stand-by awaiting possible deployment orders.

The above article states that help was coming from Germany, Russia, Italy, France and Switzerland.

UPDATE: US Rescue Teams from California and Virginia are loading equipment and ready to depart for Iran.

UPDATE: Michael of Discount Blogger notes that Iran is accepting help from everyone except Israel.

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

December 26, 2003

Kids demand equal time

Dec. 26 - Actually, they are right behind me, and they would really, really like this computer. (It's the DSL, you see.)

I'll be back later, so take care.

Posted by Debbye at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Dean gets religion

Dec. 26 - I pretty much ignore Dean as others comment on his campaign so well, but this tops his performance thus far: Dean touts a 'Jesus strategy':

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Howard B. Dean, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination who had said little about the role of religion in politics, yesterday told the Boston Globe that he is a committed follower of Jesus Christ and suggested that this would be a winning campaign issue.

Mr. Dean said he will start mentioning God and Christ as the campaign moves into the South.
Given the attacks on Pres. Bush because he is openly Christian, I have to wonder how this will affect the idealists who believe Dean is "their" candidate.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that most Americans (and Southerners) will see this for the cynical move that it is.

Posted by Debbye at 02:06 PM | Comments (1)

Toronto Affairs

Dec. 26 - I'm not a science person, so I don't know how feasible this really is: Garbage disposal going hi-tech.

"I have heard of success stories around the world and even in other North American cities," she [Councillor Jane Pitfield] adds. "I don't think the City of Toronto needs to make this complicated; I think we need to show leadership."

Earlier this year, 51 companies answered the city's call for firms that are interested in eliminating trash by means other than landfilling or mass incineration. Many of those firms are involved in using extreme heat in the absence of oxygen to eliminate garbage and form gases that could be used as fuel.

Under current plans, council will formally ask companies in the first quarter of the new year to submit proposals to establish test sites for new disposal technologies.

Posted by Debbye at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Scrawler's picks for 2003

Dec. 26 - The Scrawler weighs in with his choices for Honourable mention for the stars of 2003:

Not going to knock those choices but if Scrawler were choosing, I would have given our Canadian men and women in the armed services the honour in what was a year of war -- whether the government in Ottawa wanted to acknowledge it or not.

The troops in Afghanistan certainly know they are in a war and when I was in the Persian Gulf, onboard both HMCS Regina and HMCS Iroquois, the understanding was this was serious and dangerous business.

The troops do us proud and for that I'd give them the number one spot. But that's me.

Not only you, Joe, not only you.

Read the column, his other choices for honurable mention. He invites email for other contenders, so I'm firing off mine for Dr. Donald Low, who's professional demeanour certainly helped reassure me during the SARS crisis.

Posted by Debbye at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

Assigning Guilt

Dec. 26 - I used to ask people up here who they thought most Canadians would blame should a terrorist attack take place on Canadian soil, and a depressing number of them responded "America." That has caused me to wonder if those carrying out terrorist attacks that kills Muslims were hoping for a similar reaction against the US, and if so, they may have misjudged the ability of people to see that guilt cannot be so easily deflected from those who do the killing.

[That's not a scientific poll in any sense of the word, and don't take it as more than anecdotal especially as I was asking people what they thought other people would think.]

Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald touches on the question of who is seen as guilty in Muslims turn against al-Qaida terrorists. Interesting overview on the war on terror, something that cannot be won without the will and desire of Muslims to defeat it.

He concludes with this:

And so, as the world looks towards 2004, we can expect to see an even more accelerated anti-terrorist campaign led by Bush, Blair and their allies. In doing so, they probably can expect even greater support from the people of Iraq, Turkey and other al-Qaida afflicted Muslim nations.
He left out Saudi Arabia, but then, so would I.

Posted by Debbye at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Terrorist attack in Israel

Dec. 26 - This happened yesterday: Blast Near Tel Aviv; Airstrike in Gaza. Good ol' Fox:

JERUSALEM - A Palestinian homicide bombing at a bus stop outside Tel Aviv killed four people Thursday just minutes after an Israeli helicopter fired missiles at a car in Gaza, killing a senior Islamic Jihad commander and four others.
None of this "activist" or "alleged" senior commander crap to obscure the fact that there was a terrorist attack in Jerusalem and that Israel is fighting in a war against terrorism.

The Toronto Sun gets a partial for printing the AP story: they identify the killer as a "suicide bomber" but don't use the dreaded "alleged."

We watched the movie "Young Guns" yesterday, and when the Regulators are reading inaccurate newspaper accounts of their identities and proclaim "The papers never get anything right" we fell over laughing. It was a good reminder that the press has always been viewed with suspicion for precisely the same reasons as they are being held to account today.

Give us the facts, we'll make the determinations. Don't editorialize, don't depart from the 5 W's (who, what, where, why and when) and don't patronize us. When you base an entire report on unnamed sources, don't expect us to blindly accept it. Yeah, and don't patronize us.

UPDATE: The Washington Times article Palestinian bomber slays 4 at Israeli bus stop says the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility and has a great deal more information about the bombing and the PFLP.

Posted by Debbye at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Earthquake in Bam

Dec. 26 - Thousands Feared Dead in Iran Earthquake which hit in Bam in southeast Iran. Both Fox and CNN are speculating that the death toll may reach 10,000.

How can we read numbers like 4,000 dead and 10,000 feared dead with any degree of acceptance? Because they happen in Third World countries, of course, where people are building homes and other structures with less adherence to the kinds of rules and regulations we take for granted here.

Engineering techniques that protect us better from natural disasters is one value I'm happy to export.

Jack has a terrific idea for the US to offer troops for assistance in recovery efforts. I don't know that Iran would accept it, but it would be something they'd never expect.

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)

French headscarf ban

Dec. 26 - Boycott French products, says cleric:

A Shiite cleric called Friday for an Iraqi boycott of French products in protest at France's decision to ban Islamic headscarves and other religious insignia from schools.

"We condemn the French government's decision prohibiting the Islamic veil and we demand the liberty that France says it embodies," Sayyed Amer al-Husseini told some 10,000 worshippers in the Shiite-populated Baghdad Sadr City district.

"We encourage a boycott of French products and call on Muslims in France to continue wearing the veil," he said in a sermon at the main weekly Muslim prayers.

Interesting.

Posted by Debbye at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

Merry Christmas

Dec. 26 - I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a new sense of optimism for the coming new year. Life is indeed interesting: how else can you explain how I shared symptoms with someone over 3,000 miles away?

Having a work ethic really sucks sometimes. I've been fighting off a cold for a week, and my first day off Bang! I'm sick. I'm too young for this! My body is supposed to recognize that you're sick during the work week, not on days off!

I've updated the stories about the Queen's message, and it struck me that someday I'll have to explain how a fierce American can have so much affection for a foreign British monarch. Then it struck me that I'm hardly the only American who will have to explain that one . . .

I have more optimism about 2004 than I did about 2002 and 2003. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I think al Qaeda has been having more moments of shoes actually dropping than the one I'm worried about, and it seems to me that they are in a bind. They must, must attack us again on the homefront, but haven't been able to.

They must produce a bin Laden tape that proves he's still alive or risk him being branded a coward or dead. I personally believe that he is dead, but I was never as interested in capturing him as I was in capturing Zawahiri and the true masterminds in al Qaeda. Getting the figurehead is all very nice, but the masters of strategy and organizations are what made that organization so lethal.

If he is dead, and the top brass know it and are concealing it, I have no issue with that either. On top of worries that official confirmation of his death could unleash "martyrdom" operations, that his death is being concealed by al Qaeda puts them in an awkward spot, not us.

That's the name of the game this year: putting them on the defensive. I like it.

Posted by Debbye at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

It's only one mad cow, for heaven's sake

Dec. 26 - When the single case of mad-cow disease hit Canada, the Daily Telegraph was full of interesting links about the history of the disease and the degree to which the science was speculative, but they haven't the links up (yet?) this time around (Nations bar American beef after first mad cow case.)

The same questions will be raised in this investigation as were raised when the disease hit Canada: How did the cow contract the disease?

I'm going on memory here, so correct me if I'm inaccurate or downright wrong, but as I recall, the speculation was that the cow contracted it through contaminated feed, it got it from infected elk (even though prior evidence indicated it wouldn't) or the disease occurred spontaneously.

Posted by Debbye at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of War

Dec. 26 - The first time I saw Don Rumsfeld referred to as the Secretary of War was at Frank J.'s last winter, so I'm going strictly on personal bias to proclaim that they stole that from him.

This is actually an interesting article, even if they can't hide their dislike of him (guess they'd prefer a warm, cuddly touchy-feely type to run the War Department) although the heading has me somewhat baffled: TIME Person of the Year: Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of War. As the American soldier has been proclaimed Person of the Year, both Rumsfeld and Pres. Bush get assists as Sect. of War and Commander-in-Chief (in my world!)

But TIME still doesn't get it:

In the old days, Rumsfeld might have been called the Secretary of War, and it would have better fit his style and sensibility. To be in his presence or, worse, in his employ is to risk being lulled, lured, ambushed, bludgeoned and, always, conquered in the end.
We are at war, which is why we do call him the Secretary of War. We intend to win this war, which inevitably means conquering our enemies by confrontation or, as in the case of Libya, getting them to stand down.

Posted by Debbye at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2003

Canada. vs. Bloggers

Dec. 25 - Beau Jon Sackett, another American in Canada, sent me this link from Boing Boing: Canadian Liberal party trying to shut down political parody site with crappy Trademark claims which refers to this report at the Paul Martin Time website.

Canadians should read the two links and compare the parody site with the official one (link below) and make their own judgements. I take paraodies for granted: as an American, I am more likely to be annoyed when something isn't satirized than critical when it is. (How else can we explain the popularity of The Daily Show, which is an equal opportunity satire?)

The intimidation tactics used by the webmaster at the official Paul Martin site, Paul Martin Times, including his (false?) assertion that he tracked them down by breaching the privacy terms at privacy.ca, should get media attention and become a national scandal, but as I've commented before, the Canadian media is much more comfortable commenting on and criticizing US affairs than Canadian affairs.

In other words, until the Canadian media can find a way to blame John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act, most of them will ignore attempts to repress free speech in their own back yards and divert public attention to what's happening in their neighbours' back yards.

I've fussed before that so much focus on US concerns do Canadians a disservice (as well as my own weariness at how relentlessly the US is brought into nearly every controversy in Canada.)

Canada has so much more to offer her people than ducking responsibility by invoking what the US does or does not approve of. I may be an American, but I don't think that how the US feels about decriminalizing marijuana use should be relevant to Canadians, and attempts to make that a factor in the discussion up here should be viewed with suspicion. As someone pointed out long ago, did the legislation passed in Oregon regarding marijuana possession change US relations with that state?

When freedom of speech in Canada is under attack, the first priority for the Canadian media must be to investigate and publicize it. Will they?

Posted by Debbye at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

British, Australian troops deployed abroad

Dec. 25 - Too often, we overlook the fact that the military force in Iraq is multi-national, and that they too sacrifice to serve their countries in the defence of freedom. Reading this article from the Daily Telegraph (UK), Quarter of Armed Forces personnel abroad for Christmas, I was astonished at how many British service men and women are deployed abroad, not only in Iraq but throughout the world:

The largest deployment of British forces abroad remains Germany with 21,500 soldiers and airmen still based there. An additional 13,500 are serving in northern Ireland.

But the next largest deployment is 8,300 in Iraq with a further 1,270 in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The number of British troops in Afghanistan has dropped to just 377. Deployments in the Balkans have also been heavily cut but 1,449 servicemen and women remain in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

There are 3,250 British servicemen and women in Cyprus, 1,240 in the Falklands, 420 in Gibraltar and small numbers in Nato bases in Europe.

There are also 456 on UN missions abroad. Most are in Cyprus but there are 22 in Sierra Leone and smaller numbers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Liberia and Ethiopia and Eritrea - the smallest detachment with three people.

Over 2,000 Australians are deployed abroad including Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands:
Australian forces are spread in more countries now than at any time since World War II.

They will miss their wives, husbands, children, relatives and friends. But from Baghdad to Dili to Honiara, they're doing their best to replicate a traditional Aussie Christmas, enjoying a cold beer and a hit of cricket.

In the Solomon Islands capital Honiara, Australian Federal Police agent Darren Booy has organised a cricket grudge match against his Kiwi colleagues.

There are also American, Canadian, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Bulgarian, Danish, French, German, Indian, Japanese and soldiers from other nations who have sworn to serve their countries and "hold the line" far from their native shores.

Never forget them. Never take them for granted. God bless the men and women who serve, and let them know that their sacrifices are known and valued.

UPDATE: The Queen's Christmas message this year was a departure from tradition, filmed from Combermere Barracks at Windsor and praising the valor of the men and women serving as well as those volunteering in the UK.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph (UK) is carrying more coverage of the Queen's Christmas address here, and their leader (opinion) proclaims The Queen inspires national team.

UPDATE: Pride and gratitude for the troops and their families were also the main feature of President Bush's Christmas Message (full text not online yet, although there's a press release dated Dec. 19 here.)

Canadian troops in Afghanistan got snow and enjoyed a brief snowball fight, and in the tradition of servicemen and women everywhere, American soldiers count one another as family until they get back home, and to bring the Christmas spirit of giving wherever they are.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003

Libya's WMD partners

Dec. 24 - I'm a little late posting this link, but wanted to note it: Libya's fatal blow to axis of evil:

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi took the decision to renounce all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on Friday night, but while at first it was thought this only had implications for Libya it is now clear that his decision has scuppered a secret partnership between Libya, Iran and North Korea formed with the intention of developing an independent nuclear weapon.

New documents revealed yesterday show that the three were working on the nuclear weapons programme at a top-secret underground site near the Kufra Oasis of the Sahara in southeastern Libya. The team was made up of North Korean scientists, engineers and technicians, as well as some Iranian and Libyan nuclear scientists.

North Korea and Iran, originally dubbed by Bush as the axis of evil along with Iraq, avoided detection by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspectors by each member farming out vital sections of its projects to its fellow members.

Iran, which is now in the final stages of uranium enrichment for its program, is badly hit, having counted on fitting into place key parts of its WMD project made in Libya. North Korea may also be forced to scale back the production of nuclear devices as well as counting the loss of a lucrative source of income for its Scuds and nuclear technology.

If the claims in the report are true, this alliance raises a number of unsettling questions.

There are a couple of loose threads from past news reports. For example, a North Korean ship with 15 hidden Scud missiles aboard was intercepted by the Spanish Navy. Yemen claimed ownership of those Scuds, the ship was released, and the media dropped coverage, but I have to think that it raised several red flags in intelligence circles despite Yemen's promise not to purchase any more weapons from North Korea.

There is also this report on the $10 million Saddam paid to North Korea for missiles which were never delivered.

The biggest loose thread remains the failure to find WMD in Iraq, and although the debate has focused on whether they ever existed, the possibility remains that they were shipped out of Iraq (or, less frightening, are well-hidden and still there.)

The fact that Iraq was not included in this conspiracy could mean a lot or nothing, including the possibility that they were part of it but Khaddafi purposefully ommitted them (and that in turn could have been because British and US officials didn't want him to.)

Although it is exhilarating to live in interesting times, it is also frustrating because too many questions won't be answered for several years.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: ESR has a post on a report that Al Qaeda was targeting Gaddafi (aka Khaddafi) as another strong incentive for him to try to better relations with the US and UK.

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

America: A Spartan Athens

Dec. 24 - An interesting essay well-worth reading by Michael Novak: America: A Spartan Athens.

After a quick look at how the US tries to combine the intellectual spirit of Athens with the martial spirit of Sparta, he makes this pointed remark:

Yet there are still people in Europe, not least at the Jesuit monthly Civilta Cattolica, who write that the motive for the U.S. efforts in Iraq is not to deny support and bases to terrorists. The motive, they insist, is oil.

One wonders if those who make such accusations know how to do a profit-loss statement? Can't they see that U.S. costs in Iraq alone have gone over $200 billion, whereas the entire annual GDP of Iraq is only $22 billion? At that rate, it would take twenty years for such an investment (which will probably have to increase by a lot over the next few years) even to be recouped. It will never show a profit.

But the greatest blindness of the critics of the U.S. is not financial accounting. It is spiritual. They do not see that safety from terrorism means not only depriving terrorists of bases, but also building democracy and a dynamic economy for the Iraqi people, as an alternative to terrorism. Creating such an alternative, not only for Iraq, but for all the young people of the Mideast, is worth a lot more than 200 million dollars. Such costs and benefits are not counted in dollars.

(Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

The Clinton View of Iraq al-Qaeda Ties

Dec. 24 - From the Weekly Standard, The Clinton View of Iraq-al Qaeda Ties:

ARE AL QAEDA'S links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq just a fantasy of the Bush administration? Hardly. The Clinton administration also warned the American public about those ties and defended its response to al Qaeda terror by citing an Iraqi connection.
Interesting reading, and good rebuttal to those who persist in thinking that al Qaeda is a bogeyman dreamt up by the current Administration.

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

Musharraf to resign from army

Dec. 24 - Some news from Pakistan: Pakistan's President Agrees to Quit Army Post. Musharraf will resign from the army by the end of 2004, scale back the special powers he granted to himself under the Legal Framework Order (which gave him the right to force the PM to resign and disband Parliament,) and ask for a vote of confidence in Parliament within a month of resigning from the army.

The Daily Telegraph (UK) is carrying a report that says Pakistan could be the nuclear quartermaster for the Axis of Evil.

Pakistan admitted for the first time yesterday that some of its scientists "motivated by personal ambition or greed" might have sold nuclear technology to Iran.

Faced with growing evidence that Pakistani nuclear know-how made its way to several "rogue states" - including Iran, North Korea and perhaps also Libya - Islamabad tried to argue that any transfer of technology was the work of individuals rather than of the government.

But President Pervaiz Musharraf will not easily fend off accusations that Pakistan, despite presenting itself as a vital ally in the war on terrorism, may in fact be the nuclear quartermaster for the "axis of evil".

[...]

Until this week, Pakistan dismissed all accusations of nuclear proliferation as part of a Western plot to divert attention from the action of Western companies that sold nuclear-related technology to "rogue states".

Western intelligence agencies have long suspected that Pakistan provided nuclear technology to North Korea in return for help with its missile programme.

But Iran's decision this year reluctantly to open up its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors has revealed a trail of hard evidence leading to Pakistan.

In particular, the uranium enrichment centrifuges discovered in the Iranian town of Natanz were based on European designs that Khan is accused of stealing in the Seventies.

Pakistan authorities are currently holding 4 scientists for "debriefing" but denies they are under arrest.

UPDATE: And there has been yet another attempt to assassinate Musharraf.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

Maple Leaf Garden spared

Dec. 24 - Loblaw's has withdrawn its offer to buy Maple Leaf Gardens saying renovations would be too expensive.

Why not keep it for minor hockey? According to this article, doing so would pose direct competition to the Maple Leafs Sports' Air Canada Centre.

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Linky links

Dec. 22 - Two more days to go until I'm off for Christmas. I'm sorry I haven't had time to answer any comments (although it looks as though everyone is doing fine without me!) but you've all been spared any, you know, deep and insightful posts from me so there is indeed a bright side to everything.

I'm just catching the local news on Global, and give them their due: they are broadcasting messages from the troops in Afghanistan back to their families.

A dominant feature of the media on both sides of the border is the elevation of the threat level to orange. Please: is anybody surprised?

Jack has some posts that make excellent reading: Illusion, which Canadians and Americans should read and I'm still pondering, and Justice - Canadian Style about his feelings about the recent sentences handed down in the Matti Baranovski case and his feelings - as a cop- about the failure of the judicial system in general.

So long, and take care. And for crying out loud, make sure there are no pedestrians in the driveway before turn left into mall parking lots. Sheesh.

Posted by Debbye at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

Al Aqsa scene of attack on Egyptian foreign minister

Dec. 22 - Al Aqsa, Islam's third holiest site, was a scene of pandemonium when demonstrators attacked Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher as he tried to pray there.

He was in Israel to try to restart peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, and CNN reports the attack occurred shortly after Maher met with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon.

The report said that the demonstrators were members of the Liberation Party and that Saeb Erakat said that the PA condemned the attack.

Posted by Debbye at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

Electoral politics in Britain

Dec. 22 - I am continually astonished that too many in the media can only view events through the lens of re-election. Seriously, how many people heard of Saddam's capture and immediately set to pondering how that will affect the 2004 US presidential election? I shouldn't be overly surprised that the Daily Telegraph, which supports the Conservative Party, adds that dimension, I guess.

This article Iran and Syria are next to feel the heat indicates that talks have been secretly ongoing with Syria and Iran over the past few months but can't resist tying it into PM Blair's political fortunes:

Tony Blair will seek to use the diplomatic breakthrough with Libya to secure similar concessions on weapons of mass destruction from Iran and Syria. Ministers believe that his New Year offensive will restore his fortunes.

Secret "back channel" talks, which have been going on for months with both countries, will be stepped up as London and Washington try to capitalise on the surprise U-turn by Col Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator.

The capture of Saddam Hussein and Libya's announcement on Friday that it would dismantle its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes were being seen in Downing Street as vindication of the Prime Minister's strategy for tackling the threat of WMD.

An opinion piece in that paper does give credit to Blair for his farsight and wishes him a merry Christmas, but points out that, come the New Year, Normal service will resume next year.

The Sun (UK), which supported Labour in the last election but takes a Euroskeptic stance on the EU, has a more up-beat approach:

TONY Blair will seal a sensational peace deal with Libya by shaking the hand of Colonel "Mad Dog" Gaddafi, it emerged last night.
The Sun Says proclaims Peace on Earth:
THE world is a safer place after Libya's welcome decision to stop trying to make weapons of mass destruction.
Maybe those who feel slighted because Pres. Bush doesn't read their columns should consider that their compulsive desire to relate everything to an election (especially one that is a year away) cheapens the astonishing events of this past year and their narrow interpretations insults those of us who understand that we are at war.

Will history record that there was a determined effort to bring democracy to the Mid-East and reduce the chances for terrorist attacks using WMD and even another war fought with nuclear or chemical-biological weapons, or that there was to be a presidential election three years after Sept. 11?

(USA Today link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

Raija-Liisa Teigen

Dec. 22 - Another dispatch from Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun about a rather remarkable young women, Raija-Liisa Teigen, who believes (with justification) that Afghanistan is in her soul. She has been running a woman's centre in Zaranj, a city of about 70,000 people in southern Afghanistan near the Iranian border.

Read the whole thing.

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

Tiger Williams supporting the troops

Dec. 22 - Some interesting observations in this article on Dave "Tiger" Williams' visit to Kabul about reconstruction progress in Kabul and how the people living there feel about the presence of Canadian and other forces.

The forces at Camp Julien held a ball hockey tournament in memory of the two soldiers killed last October by a land mine:

To help out, the Maple Leafs donated 2,000 t-shirts and the Vancouver Canucks gave 2,000 ball caps for a raffle to raise money for a Canadian Mine Awareness program.

"It doesn't only benefit the charity itself, it benefits everybody that's over here, trying to help out the people of Afghanistan," said Cpl. Steve Posthumus of Burlington, Ont.

"So far they've cleared a 60,000 square foot ( 5,570 square metres) area (of landmines), and that's 60,000 square feet that is safe to walk on for the troops that are over here."

A number of hockey jerseys, hats, headbands and pins were also donated by Team Canada, the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Leafs and Canucks, with many of the items autographed by Williams, former Canucks goalie Kirk McLean and Olympic Women's Hockey Gold medalist Cassie Campbell.

McLean and Campbell are also in Kabul with Williams.

Hockey figures in Canada have been very active in supporting the troops. I don't know how well known Don Cherry is to non-hockey fans in the US, but his strong denunciation of the Sept. 11 attacks as well as his staunch support last winter of the US in Iraq eclipsed anything said by any national leader, and Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Tiger Williams have been among those active in reminding Canadians that the soldiers are in harm's way and letting the troops know that they are appreciated.

UPDATE: The Toronto Sun has an update and picture of the rink (Hockey night in Kabul) and a bit more information on the raffle and jersey auction held to raise money for the Mine Awareness Program.

Posted by Debbye at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

Next step: human rights in Libya

Dec. 22 - I like Peter Worthington (not the least because he spells the name of Libya's ruler almost the same way I do!) and he delivers his judgement on the unilateral move by Libya to break with the Axis of Evil with a suggestion for a Canadian application in today's column Khadaffy's new stance break in war on terror.

When Libya (Khadaffy) was elected to chair the UN Human Rights Commission (members included such repressive regimes as Zimbabwe, Vietnam, China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria) it was a low-water mark for the UN -- and typical of the flaccid values of that increasingly impotent body.

Only three of 33 countries voted against Libya's chairmanship (the U.S., Canada and Guatemala), while 17 ideologically craven countries (mostly European) abstained.

Is it too much to hope that Khadaffy will now take human rights seriously? His is a brutal regime that dabbles in torture and slavery, but if he benefits from abandoning his WMD program and terrorism, perhaps the next phase will be easing intolerance inside Libya.

[...]

Iraqis, too, want normality, and already have more freedom than they ever had under Saddam.

Arab countries aren't brainless.

The gesture of Moammar Khadaffy, who is as "Arab" as any, will not be lost on other tyrants and quasi-despots.

That Libya will now benefit should be a guide for our own foreign aid policy: Help countries that behave decently, give nothing to tyrannies that use our aid to entrench their repression.

The Cold War is over. It's past time to adjust policies and use foreign aid to encourage better, higher goals such as the pillars articulated by Pres. Bush in his Whitehall Speech and principles of international human rights the Canadian federal government claims to respect.

Posted by Debbye at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

Les Shaw's generosity to the troops

Dec. 22 - There is one Canadian who knows the Price of freedom and is expressing his gratitude directly to the families who have lost loved ones: 76-year old Les Shaw is sending the families of American soldiers who died protecting democracy overseas $2,000 and $2,500 to the familes of the 6 Canadian soliders who died in Afghanistan.

"We in North America and other parts of the world, we take freedom for granted," Shaw, who now lives in Barbados, said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

"Yet here's these young fellows and their families who are giving the ultimate sacrifice to sustain the freedom we enjoy."

Shaw sent a letter with the gifts:
"It is too easy for many of us in North America to take our wonderful freedoms for granted; obviously, your loved one did not," Shaw's letter reads.

"Please accept this small token as a gesture of heartfelt thanks from an appreciative Canadian. Spend it however you think your fallen hero would want."

The letters prompted more than 100 heart-wrenching replies, many stuffed with family photos and other tokens of remembrance from grieving parents, widows and widowers whose anguish leaps from the page.

Shaw's 22-year old nephew is in Baghdad with US forces. He went public with his gifts when casualties continued after his planned cut-off date of July 31 and hopes another will step in to continue his philanthrophy.

UPDATE: Smug Canadian has some interesting thoughts here.

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

Deed sold dirt cheap

Dec. 22 - Days before the Toronto City Council voted to stop the construction of a bridge linking the mainland to Toronto Island, the Federal government quietly sold a portion of lakefront property located at the end of Bathurst to the Port Authority. The land is the loading point for the ferry slip and a parking lot and be necessary for the building of the bridge. The property is valued at $7,028,000 and was sold dirt cheap for $300,000.

The unannounced sale was discovered by a lawyer going through land registry documents.

NDP federal leader and former Toronto City Councillor Jack Layton brought the sale to the attention of the media:

Layton said while the federal government announced they would respect the wishes of Toronto city council, they were handing over a vital piece of land needed to build the bridge.

"Not only that, they're subsidizing the construction of this bridge because they gave the land at cut-rate prices," Layton said.

"You can't buy a house in Toronto for $300,000, never mind a prime piece of real estate on the waterfront. This is incredible."

MP Dennis Mills (Lib.) said he knew nothing about the deal and that he believes that no more condos should be built on the shoreline preserving the land for public use.

MP Dennis Mills spoke at last April's "Friends of America" rally in Toronto, and recently announced he will not seek re-election.

UPDATE: The government responds that there was nothing secretive about the deal, and that the land can only be used for parking or getting to the Toronto Island Airport.

Posted by Debbye at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2003

More reaction to Libya's announcement

Dec. 21 - The reaction to Libya's announcement is muted, but a columnist at the Toronto Star actually asserts that Saddam takes heat off Bush (which reflects how she sees the world) and makes this astonishing statement:

None of the countries opposing the war at the U.N. - nor any of the millions of people who joined street protests around the world - ever doubted that the U.S. could use its superior military power to crush Saddam's regime and, ultimately, capture him. Rather, the debate centred on Washington's allegation that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed such an imminent danger to the world that an invasion had to be launched immediately. (Emphasis added.)
Still re-writing history, are we? FOAD, bitch.

Nobody doubted that Saddam had WMD, including the pompous Toronto Star. And the president never claimed the threat was imminent, but precisely the opposite (that's been cited too many times to have to do it again, but I'll stick in the link when I get home.)

So long!

Posted by Debbye at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

Tiger Williams supporting the troops

Dec. 21 - These days, one Canadian in Afghanistan is former Maple Leaf Tiger Williams (Vancouver playing time recognized but overlooked.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

Time Magazine's Canadian Newsmaker of the Year

Dec. 21 - Time Magazine has named the Canadian Newsmaker of the Year: This will tell you who.

UPDATE: Here is another (and more permanent) permalink.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Licia Corbella from Afghanistan

Dec. 21 - Another dispatch from Calgary Sun editor Licia Corbella: Khaki Christmas in Kabul. Arghh, the clock is ticking on me, so read the whole thing!

Posted by Debbye at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Operation Booster Shot

Dec. 21 - Some time ago I posted an item about EMS stations gathering things to send to Canadian soldiers stationed overseas and today found these in the Letter to the Editors of the Toronto Sun Toronto Sun: Editorial/Letters (I'm posting the whole thing because this link has only a one-day life):

The birth of 'Operation Booster Shot'

THIS FALL, three paramedics of Toronto EMS - Sarah Zourdoumis, Marco Colabella and Steven Henderson - had an idea. After receiving a letter from Sarah's brother (who is serving in Afghanistan), it was brought to our attention that morale on the Canadian base was low. So we took it upon ourselves to begin a morale-boosting mission for our Canadian troops.

With this, "Operation Booster Shot" was born. Collection boxes were placed in the 40 or so EMS stations in Toronto and the donations began.

We collected snacks, candies, "Canadiana" and, most importantly, Canadians were able to send their good wishes to our boys and girls serving abroad.

With a bit more effort, we were able to convince some corporations to empty some of their pockets too. Mac's convenience stores opened their warehouse to us, Costco Downsview opened its wallet and the Toronto Blue Jays joined in too!

On Oct. 29, we set out for CFB Montreal to deliver an ambulance full of donations, packed to the brim! Today, six weeks after delivering our load, we would like to share with you the letter below, sent to us by Sarah's brother, Cpl. Aesop Zourdoumis.

Marco Colabella

Sarah Zourdoumis

Steven Henderson

The letter they mention follows:
SO THE other day I make it to the mess hall just in time for breakfast and one of my bosses gets hold of me and says in a rather gruff tone, "Get up to the orderly room. They've been looking for you."

"Uh-oh," I think. What did I not get away with? After wracking my brain I sheepishly ooze my way up to the office and poke just my head in the door so as to make a quick escape if the yelling starts.

"Get in there!" a voice sounds from behind me.

Crraaaaaap. No escape. Just have to ride it out. I cross through the doorway and instead of being met with a flurry of shouting I get handed a box. Then another. Then another until I'm holding five in total.

"Somebody out there must care about you," I hear. I take a look at what I'm holding and sure enough, a whole lot of somebodies do.

The first load of packages from Operation Booster Shot had arrived. I struggle them back to the tent and take a closer look. "Good God! There's enough sugar here to put us all in a diabetic coma," I giggle. Nobody complains, they just start eating. Through the brief pauses in our pigfest we start to open the rest and discover mountains of candy, enough writing instruments for every soldier to scratch out about 15 letters, several games for the mess that are fiercely Canadian and, near and dear to everyone's heart: books on hockey.

More digging and we discover sun hats, keychains with Canadian flags and a whole lot of baseball caps. We've got time for one more so we open the largest. Tucked within we discover a small black teddy bear that immediately finds its way into my sleeping bag (I think he was cold), and a ballcap emblazoned with the EMS logo.

A brief struggle occurs and the cap ends up on someone's head as they run for daylight. I turn back to the boxes and find the colours - Canadian flags covered with signatures and thank-yous. The fighting stops and everyone takes a closer look.

"Those need to go in the mess," someone says. Suddenly everyone's lost interest in killing each other over the hat and is examining the flags.

Very little is said after that. I think everyone was simply taken by surprise by the amount of unsolicited support from the home front.

A while later, we're driving to a heavy weapon containment site outside the city where we have to photograph and catalogue some Scud missiles. The silence breaks and gives way to discussion of how to pass out all those sugary treats. Nobody's thinking too deeply about the local threat or that the area off-route is mined or that we're in Afghanistan.

Everyone is smiling and light-hearted and feels a little better about the job and that we're almost coming home. Without saying it, every person present knows where this change in mood has come from. Every one of us feels that much more pride knowing the folks back home have us on their minds.

We do the job and make our way back to camp. After dinner, we head to the mess to discover a crowd around the small bar.

A bit of pushing and we discover that in our absence Cpl. Boudreau has hung the smaller of the three signature flags above the bar. A glance to my left and I see three soldiers perusing the 2004 hockey yearbook, sitting directly under a Canadian flag marked proudly with "45 Station." To my right, at the opposite end of the mess tent is Cpl. Ash, trying to figure out if he can get the largest of the three flags into his pocket before he gets pummeled for it.

Wisely, he leaves it up.

I look around and the mood has visibly changed. There's more smiling and more laughing and, yes, one or two good natured wrestling matches over the damned EMS hat. But it isn't the big load of loot that's done it. It's the fact that someone made such an effort to care about someone so far away.

>From all the soldiers at Camp Warehouse to all the Toronto paramedics and their families back home, I can't thank you enough. Your efforts couldn't possibly be forgotten.

Cpl. A.S.R. Zourdoumis

Afghanistan

(We're all proud of you. Merry Chistmas, and come home safe in the new year)

Canadians do remember those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

Silvio Berlusconi, Liberty and Khaddafi

Dec. 20 - Many thanks to Richard who sent the url for this interview which appeared Sept. 6, 2003, in the Spectator with Berlusconi which includes a reference to a telephone call which reportedly came from Libya's Gaddafi The new imperial vision of Silvio Berlusconi and includes this:

I tell you the truth: if I lived in a country where there was no day appointed for elections, I would become a revolutionary, if not a terrorist. And that is because I love liberty too much; without liberty a man is not a man. He has no dignity. And so today we are now able, with Russia and America together, to look at all the states of the world, and assess the dignity of all the people in the world, and we can give them democracy and liberty. Yes! By force if necessary! Because that is the only way to show it is not a joke. We said to Saddam, "Do it, or we come, and we came and we did it. I cannot say which country he was from, but someone telephoned me the other day and said, "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid." [Mr Berlusconi's spokesman indicated that the leader in question was Col. Gaddafi.] (Emphasis added.)
Read the whole article. Berlusconi is something of an enigma, but his depiction of political life in Italy, the slant of the media and the activist judiciary has a familiar ring.

What I found fascinating are his reasons for joining the coalition (and remember he is saying all this back in September) and the recognition that he was willing to take an enormous gamble and go on faith.

One ironclad rule of war is that War Is Uncertain. No matter the odds, anything can happen. Although a military victory seemed assured, there were worries about the use of WMD (which would have been far more devastating for the unprotected Iraqi civilians than the troops,) possible terrorist retailiations in the US and the biggest unknown was (and is) the chances for a political victory.

It was a gamble. It was one backed with facts, strategy, and a helluva lot of hope and probably we haven't talked about it because once the die was cast it was too late to take it back but despite the setbacks we will undoubtably see, we did succeed in disturbing the status quo in the Mid-East and that's a good thing.

Is it too early for self-congratulations? I think we are entitled to some, at least, and to stand up straighter because we took an enormous chance and saw it through.

My work schedule never sucked more than this weekend when I'd rather be opining, surfing and citing all the fantastic posts that have come out of the Libyan decision, but I have a blogroll full of insightful people who are examining this move.

If I don't find the Canadian response to this latest I'll be logging off and getting myself to work. (If it's a "yes, but ..." I'll be going to work and fuming, but that's another story.)

Be careful, and remember that who we are and why we do these things is, to paraphrase Berlusconi, for sweet liberty: our love for her is what makes all men and women stand tall and gives us courage to dare that which others say is impossible.

UPDATE: This gives a hint as to the months of behind-the-scenes work that went into Friday's announcement.

Posted by Debbye at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

The American Soldier, Time's Person of the Year

Dec. 21 - This says it all: Time Person of Year: The American soldier.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The American soldier, who bears the duty of "living with and dying for a country's most fateful decisions," was named Sunday as Time magazine's Person of the Year.

The magazine's editors chose the nameless soldier to represent the 1.4 million men and women who make up the U.S. military, which led the invasion of Iraq nine months ago and a week ago captured deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

UPDATE: Mudville Gazettel isn't impressed

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

December 20, 2003

German Financial Reforms

Dec. 20 - The wording is interesting: Jobless have benefits cut as Schroeder wins reforms

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder yesterday pushed through the German parliament a package of reforms which he hopes will pave the way for the revival of the "sick man of Europe".
The original "sick old man of Europe" was pre-WWI Ottoman Empire. Interesting analogy.
Tax cuts, labour-market reform and wide-ranging reductions in subsidies which formed the key elements of Mr Schroeder's array of reforms, known as Agenda 2010, secured the support of the vast majority of the Bundestag's 603 representatives.

The plans, on which Mr Schroeder had staked his future, amounted to the biggest overhaul of the welfare state since it was introduced by Otto von Bismarck in the 19th century.

But Mr Schroeder was in the uncomfortable position of relying on the opposition conservatives who dominate the upper house of parliament, the majority of whose representatives voted in favour of the reforms.

So the only point of using anti-war and anti-American sentiment to win over the conservatives was simply to get power, not because he really had differences in social planning. What a huge honking surprise.

It gets more interesting:

Under the reforms, income tax is to be cut by 9 billion from Jan 1 in an attempt to encourage spending. A couple with joint earnings of 25,000 will be 425 a year better off. The top and bottom tax brackets are to be adjusted from 48.5 to 45 per cent and from 19.9 to 16 per cent.
Cutting taxes? Why, I never heard of such a thing - oh wait, yes I have. Not up here much lately, although we used to hear about that sort of thing in Ontario before the recent election.

Read the whole thing. Can we play Spot the Irony? Dang, I have to go. My income taxes haven't been cut, but I'm counting on property taxes going up . . .

Have a good day, and be safe.

Posted by Debbye at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

Aznar visits troops in Iraq

Dec. 20 - Good on him: Spanish PM makes surprise Iraq visit to the 1300 Spanish troops there. Earlier it had been announced that the Spanish will remain in Iraq until June, 2004, an additional 6 months than their initial committment.

The Fox coverage also has more information on the visit and mentions the 1,000 Japanese troops going to Iraq for humanitarian purposes

Also, the Pentagon has listed the number of US soldiers killed by hostile fire since the president declared an end to major combat operations at 200.

Posted by Debbye at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Libyan Surprise

Dec. 20 - I was caught off guard (in a good way) when I saw Libya's surprise announcement late last night, and however much spin Gadhafi's son may put on it, anyone who doubts that the declaration of the war on terror and US presence in Iraq isn't having predictable results is either living on another planet or never studied history.

Did anyone bookmark an article that appeared a few months ago in which Italian President Berlusconi said he received a phone call from Gadafi asking for help in repairing relations with the US? It was shortly thereafter that a settlement for the Lockerbie victims was reached (until France got greedier).

I hate posting information based on my own memory, but if I posted the article I can't find it.

CNN remembered last weekend whose side they were on when they reported the news of Saddam's capture, and today they remembered how much they despise the French when they reported on the international reactions to the news from Libya:

However, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin urged Libya to "implement without delay" its commitment to compensating families of victims of the bombing of a French airliner in 1989.

[...]

De Villepin said France wanted more compensation for the families of 170 victims of a UTA plane bombed over Niger in line with the $2.7 billion Libya paid to families of 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The French, having settled that claim already, wanted to re-negotiate. Remember why we don't trust the French? They themselves make it hard to forget the reasons.

A giggle note: a CNN poll on this page asks Will it be possible to trust Libya again and welcome the country back to the international community?

CNN notes the 1986 attack ordered by President Reagan, but Fox has a timeline of US relations with Libya which notes (unlike the CNN report) the Berlin discotheque bombing and the 1979 ransacking of the US embassy in Tripoli.

CNN has "C" and "L" but still needs to buy two vowels: "U" and "E."

Okay, I'm a bitca today. I have to leave for work shortly so I'm just anticipating.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph (UK) calls it a case of good cop, bad cop of US-British dealings with Libya. The Sun calls it a massive coup for Blair and Bush and notes

Colonel Gaddafi's move also further undermines the anti-war stance of French President Jacques Chirac and many Labour MPs. They claimed liberating Iraq would make the world more dangerous. But Libya's decision hugely vindicates the invasion.

It is also a blow to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida terror network as it shows the West and previously hostile Muslim nations can work together to find peace.

It's too soon to do the Dance of Victory, but this will be interesting. I've no doubt Howard Dean has his own spin, but is anyone listening?

Colby Cosh says "Bush lied, people died, Colonel Gadaffi came onside" makes a nice couplet.

Posted by Debbye at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

Belmont Club

Dec. 20 - The blogosphere has graced us with the presence of writers and thinkers whose works inspire and challenge. Steven den Beste at USS Clueless and Bill Whittle at Eject!Eject!Eject! are two such, and efforts to post individual essays or quote sections are near-impossible due to the overall sweep of their incredible essays.

Another is Wretchard of Belmont Club. The problem with him, as with den Beste, is that it is impossible to read just one, and that in turns leads to the impossibility of posting about only one.

Today he cites from Victor Davis Hanson's latest column at National Review Online, which leads to a post about European apathy which, as it did between WWI and WWII, hid a deeper antipathy which may be a very clear danger sign.

Before that is an analysis of the strategy of pursuit (a nice word also known as annhilation) which follows a broken line in a defensive formation using the information we get from Saddam as the starting point.

Even before that is an analysis of the post-war period which uses the Yalta Conference as a starting point.

See what I mean? How do you isolate one post when each flows seamlessly from the previous one?

Add him to your daily reading.

Posted by Debbye at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Licia Corbella from Afghanistan

Dec. 20 - Another dispatch from Calgary Sun editor Licia Corbella from Kabul: Smiles and waves win fans.

Don't forget to send your thanks and holiday greetings to the Canadian troops here.

Posted by Debbye at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

Air India trial

Dec. 20 - It has been hard to keep on top of the trial of those accused of the 1985 Air India bombing attacks because news has been sporadic and convoluted, and one thing missing has been context.

This article, Gandhi plot tied to Air India case tells of the involvment of the accused with a 1985 plot to kill then-PM of India Rajiv Gandhi in NYC and some of the background and aims of the group that planted bombs in the luggage of Air India Flt. 182 that went down over the Irish Sea and another that detonated in a Tokyo airport killing two baggage handlers.

The attempt on Gandhi's life and the Air India bombings happened in the same month.

It's well-worth reading, especially as time has dimmed our memories.

Posted by Debbye at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

The California Governor

Dec. 20 - California governor Schwarzenegger declared fiscal crisis and did something few political hacks would dare: he took action!

Saying California's legislative leadership "refuses to act," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared California in a fiscal crisis, invoking one-time emergency powers to impose $150 million in spending cuts -- largely in social service programs -- without lawmakers' approval.

The cuts free up money lost when the Republican governor kept a campaign promise by rolling back an unpopular tripling of the state's car tax. The funds will be used for city and county governments that have lost more than $300 million since.

"I was elected by the people of this state to lead. Since the legislative leadership refuses to act, I will act without them," Schwarzenegger said in announcing the decision Thursday.

Democrats say the move could spoil some of the bipartisan good will generated by a separate spending and bond accord forged last week.

Democrats are still worried about good will? (Of course, their voices could scarcely be heard over the rejoicing of tax-weary Californians.)

Legislators don't like governors acting over their heads, but invoking emergency powers sends a very clear message that if they won't do the job, someone else can and will. This is only a small step given California's fiscal problems, but it's a step.

One rejoicing is CaliforniaRepublic.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 AM | Comments (0)

New Blog Showcase

Dec. 20 - Time to vote in the The Truth Laid Bear's New Weblog Showcase.

I enjoyed viewing (and reading!) Reality's Angry Howie and "the point". I can't recall a similar photojournal in the showcase, and it's a good innovation. He makes some pretty shrewd guesses about "the point" too.

Dan K. O'Leary highlights one of the things I admire most about President Bush in the post Bush, Saddam, and Howard Dean and that he knows what is priority is even if his opponents don't. While Dean prattles (and points!) away, the president is committed to doing the job with which he is entrusted and ignores the slights and slurs aimed his way because protecting Americans is his concern.

Dan says the president delivered a smackdown by reminding Dean that the primary focus right now is to defend our beloved country. GWB is more concerned with that than with defending himself against spitballs from the opposition.

Give Justin full marks for research! He read the NR piece with John Rhys-Davies and set about discovering the political views of the cast of the LoTR and found that Sean Astin considers supporting the troops a duty and another Rhys-Davies gem in which he explains his views on Tolkien's LoTR Politics of the Lord of the Rings. I think Justin would agree that dropping The Scouring of the Shire made JRRT roll over in his grave. (I am not voting for this because it's about the LoTR. No, I'm not. Really. You'd think I'm obsessed with the collected works of LoTR or something. Sheesh.)

Eric adds another layer to the interview with Rhys-Davies in Someone in Hollywood is FOR Western Civilization? adding emphasis on the fact that slavery was and continues to be one of those things about which the UN talks but does nothing. And Rhys-Davies' father saw the contradiction way back when.

Read these and enjoy, and remember, you too can vote simply by linking the posts on your own blog.

Posted by Debbye at 01:44 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2003

Precision Guided Humour

Dec. 18 - I not only failed to complete the last Precision Guided Humor Assignment on time (it was to come up with nifty campaign slogans for the Democrat candidates) but I can't come up with a danged thing even now.

My lame excuse is that we've all been dazzled and awed up here by the coronation up here of newly installed PM Paul Martin and saying Adios (ok, au revoir) to Jean Chretien, debate over the reconstruction contracts in Iraq and shoveling snow as well as fighting a losing battle against the ice (I live in a hilly area.) Okay, the dazzled and awed part is a lie. The snow and ice parts aren't.

The only thing I could come up with was "He's President Bush and I'm not" which is not witty but accurate as that seems to be about the extent of what they offering the electorate.

What can I say? If the endorsement of Madonna for Wesley Clark doesn't inspire me, I'm hopeless.

OverlordQ of Pinto's Blog came up with this.
Susie of Practical Penumbra came up with these.
Fly Killa has of Ripe Bananas these.
Dogtulosba of dogulosba.ink provides good snark.
homicidalManiak of The Rantings of a homicidalManiak produced more.
Dan of Dan K. O'Leary's Blog has pictures with his slogans.
CD of Semi-Intelligent Thoughts lets them show their true feelings.
Nick of The Conservative Cajun even visited the DU for inspiration and came up with this plus an excellent explanation for the DU. (Ctrl+F "Another Assignment")
Physics Geek of physicsgeek has these and a very apt picture atop the post (we had a calandar with that cartoon, Far Side, I think?) Count the heads.
Graumagus of Frizzen Sparks gets full snark marks with these
Bow Down! The Emperor Misha of Anti-Idiotarian Rotweiller graces us with this (and the commenters supply more.) [Is this mike on? Bow down is a play on, oh, never mind. It was lame, like my sole contribution.]
Harvey of Bad Money finds their groove with these. I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you.
Mercenary Sniper J of Quibbles and Bits kindly provides footnotes for these which are as funny as the slogans.

Witty, pointed, and really unlikely to be used by the Dems, which is too bad because they aren't coming up with much on their own.

Funny how many came up with slogans for this miserable failure (not to be confused with this miserable failure which isn't. A failure, I mean.)

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

French headscarf ban

Dec. 18 - Interesting take in the Telegraph (UK) on Chirac's proposal to ban Islamic scarves in schools and other overt symbols of religion, the reaction from French Muslims and teachers, and Chirac's reasoning for the ban:

Even the most moderate Islamic leaders said the proposal was likely to exacerbate tensions and showed a marked misunderstanding of France's immigration problems.

Dalil Boubakeur, the president of the Council of French Muslims, set up by the government last year to mediate with France's diverse Muslim communities, said: "The breakdown of integration is giving rise to a law that does not tackle the reasons for this breakdown."

He said the proposed law would "stigmatise" French Muslims.

The Council of Imams called the proposal "anti-constitutional" and said it would lead to street protests.

In a speech broadcast live from the Elysee, M Chirac acknowledged the need to "shatter the wall of silence and indifference which surrounds the reality of discrimination" against immigrants seeking jobs, houses, bank loans, even membership of sports clubs.

Announcing the creation of France's first independent anti-discrimination authority, he said that he knew "the feeling of incomprehension, despair and even revolt" among young French immigrants.

He feels their pain! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) He admits that they are victims of racism (in a nuanced way, of course, because he doesn't come right out and say it.)

So the ban seems to be following the "get 'em while they're young" strategy: get them used to going to school without religious identifiers (which it is reasoned will lead to ending religious identification) and they'll will find it easier to forgo those things when they leave school and enter the social mainstream and workforce. Soon they'll give up on attending church, synagogues and mosques, and the problem will be solved because nobody will discriminate against them because they'll be secularly French.

Or, youth being rebellious, it could make them cling all the harder to those things that identify them when they're away from the schools. Did the commission or Chirac consider that possibility? Forbidden fruit, so to speak, with irony.

Politicians across the spectrum are suddenly engaged in a lively debate about the merits of positive discrimination and the means by which the government can stop the rise of radical Islam.
"Postive discrminination" on this continent would mean affirmative action, but I'm cautious as to what it means to the French.
M Chirac's speech followed the publication last week of the Stasi report, commissioned to examine the need for a new law on secularism.
Would passing a new law on secularism infringe upon the rights of the people? Do any French lawmakers or the French courts ponder that question? This article has the objections of Muslim groups on record, but what have been the responses from Jewish and Christian leaders?
The report concluded that the dramatic rise of religions such as Islam required a new approach as they were threatening the strictly secular identity of the French state.
I still don't get how the report reasons that having people in the country who practice a religion - any religion - threatens the strictly secular identity of the French state. The state can be secular without requiring the people to be so.

Millions of French schoolchildren exhibited Christian and Jewish symbols before the immigration of Muslims and somehow the secularism of the French state survived. Is their concern based on the fact that Muslims aren't abandoning mosques in the same numbers as Christians are abandoning churches? Or is the real problem that Muslims have values and beliefs that challenge the acceptance of different religions which is the historical basis for secularism?

That was admittedly rhetorical because French Jews can identify a specific intolerance in France aimed at them and acted upon mostly by Muslims, and even though the EU shelved the report Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European Union, it should worry everyone. Does Chirac and his brain team think attacks will disappear if Jewish boys and Muslim girls are not recognizable as such? What about synagogues? Should they remove identifying religious symbols?

[Chirac] rejected a suggestion that the Jewish and Muslim celebrations of Yom Kippur and Eid should become school holidays, but said no child should be prevented from taking these days off on religious grounds.

He also supported the teaching of religious facts and history in schools, which the leading teachers' unions argue would pollute the Republican ideal of secular education.

Dwell for a moment on the use of the word pollute. Not enhance, not educate with an aim to foster respect and tolerance, but pollute. However do they teach European history without factoring in religion? Or French history and literature? Explaining the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre could be somewhat tricky, not to mention that it leaves Meyerbeer's opera Les Huguenots and Dumas' The Three Musketeers without historical grounding. Sheesh, whatever do they make of Voltaire's Candide? (Pop culture preferrists may substitute Bernstein's Candide.) Seriously: do teachers in France refuse to teach Voltaire? One can't appreciate satire if one doesn't know what something is satirizing.
Immigrant groups in France have argued for many years that the fabled principle of equality was rarely applied in practice. M Chirac conceded this yesterday, saying: "It's by our ability to make equality of opportunity a reality that we will revive our sense of national unity."
Aha, Jacques Crow segregation and bigotry are the real culprits.
But he added that secularism was also a "crucial element in social peace and national unity" and that "glorifying particular identities", such as Islam, would lead to the break-up of France.
So lack of equality is not about skin colour, it's about religion. And if Muslim girls, Jewish boys and Christian children of both genders would hide their religious identities, everyone would be secularly unified.

Don't ask, don't tell French-style.

The French don't plan to confront and deal with the growing anti-Semitism in France.

The French don't plan to confront and deal with racism toward North Africans.

Seems to me that labeling the problem as people being too much religious is affirmation that France's failure to accept, integrate and assimilate its Muslim population is going to remain a failure, and teaching tolerance and respect for others is going to remain a failure, but the French government is determined that it will be a secular failure.

I always write under the assumption that people read the articles I reference and that will draw their own conclusions, so I didn't explore the crime rates because it seems self-evident that being excluded from jobs and opportunities for self-advancement would lead to crime, and banning head scarve is unlikely to impact on that.

What interests me about this is that the problems the French are having are similar is some respects to ones some fear may happen in North America (although I personally don't agree with that fear.) The fact that I think the French are dealing with the problem poorly is admittedly rooted in my views on the First Amendment and my belief in inherent freedoms as well as my distrust of passing regulations as an automatic reaction to any problem, but it will be interesting to see how this progresses (assuming it is implemented.)

Until we see concrete plans by the government which outline how they propose to end the segregtion of Muslim immigrants it will be hard to assess how the problems in France will play out and how attacking religion as the problem will interplay with those plans. If we don't see any real efforts to end discrimination and segregation, I think we can be pretty confident in declaring the school ban a total failure.

No brain cells were harmed in the making of this post, mostly because I only have a few left after my work marathon. I wanted to get some of these ideas out of my head and the process was painless (even with a liberal application of the delete key) but some transitions remain rough and instances of inadequately explained logic will probably strike me when I read this tomorrow or Saturday.

UPDATE: I'll have to write 100 times on the blackboard Don't publish until you've read Paul. He actually attended school in France, (CORRECTION: a French owned school in Spain) and has some comments about the proposed policy that shed a different light on things here, here which informs us that religious symbols have long been banned in French schools, and here which details the immigration patterns from Morocco and Algeria. Darren provides this link in Paul's comments from a Singapore source which tells of a similar situation there in which wearing headscarves not allowed because it is not in keeping with the "common uniform standard."

Ain't the blogosphere grand?

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon has just returned from a visit to France and reports some rather chilling observations from Behind Enemy Lines. I hadn't imagined that a Jewish school would be unidentifiable as such. I could say it was due to my naivete, but probably it was just dumbness.

I do regard anti-Semitism as a cover for anti-Westernism as it plays out in the Mid-East and other predominantly Muslim nations. (I saw the metaphor "Jews are the canaries in the mine" somewhere and I think it fits what we are seeing.) The Turkish reaction to terrorist attacks carried out against synagogues gives me hope, although, as usual, we don't know what the people who stayed at home think.

So I accept that one ruler for measuring the health of a democratic nation is the confidence Jewish citizens feel about their own safety. (I wouldn't regard Israel as an exception because most attacks emanate from without.)

American Digest links to a post from EuroPundits that makes some sharp points out of the recent conflict between Germany and Poland at the EU Constitution talks and closes with a grimmer point about Plan B. (I'm not going to paraphrase it because the clarity of that post is too elegant and concise, so read the whole thing.) I mention it here because it adds to Rumsfeld's designations of Old Europe and New Europe which have increasingly more layers than appear on the surface.

It seems even clearer that France may be an international concern for much different reasons than their obstructionism at the UN and their desire to reclaim their former place as a world power. It's not about flaunting their power any more, it's about their approaching doom from forces within. I'm too awestruck to try to make some sense of what impact it might have on Canada given the recent Weasel/Pissy alliance with France and some major business linkages between the leaders of the two nations, but there is a lot to digest and consider.

To think this all started with the question of whether Muslim girls should be allowed to wear headscarves.

Posted by Debbye at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Licia Corbella from Afghanistan

Dec. 18 - This is bittersweet: Near riot for gifts at camp. Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical Christian aid organization, put together shoeboxes with toys, candy, toothpaste and other sundries for distribution to kids at a refugee camp in Afghanistan but there was a near riot as children and adults fought for the gifts.

"We had a plan to have the adults help us control the movement of people," said Maj. Steve Whelan, in charge of the military unit that distributed the boxes. "But clearly ... they overwhelmed us very quickly. It was a mob scene."

Several times, soldiers had to wave off adults, who beat the children with sticks and tightly wound blankets as they advanced on the flatbed truck.

No one suffered serious injuries as the children appeared to accept what, for them, is considered normal treatment by adults.

"It's a bit overwhelming," said Godfrey Vandeleur of Vancouver, who helped organize the delivery. "I feel happy to give them out, but then you also feel a bit sad when you see them fighting for the boxes."

Licia Corbella, editor of the Calgary Sun, is in Kabul and writing about her experiences there. Her description of the distribution is here centers on the response of the child who received the box she and her children had packed in Calgary.
This 10-year-old boy lives with five sisters and four brothers in a ramshackle structure at the internally displaced persons camp (IDP) known simply as "the big one."

That, of course, is bad enough, but two months ago, Anjomudin had his left leg amputated below the knee after he was run over by a truck carrying bricks to a neighbouring shack.

Nevertheless, if he thinks he's lucky, I'm certainly not going to tell him otherwise.

"This is the best day of my life," he declares.

What made yesterday so special? For the first time in his life, Anjomudin was given a present -- a shoebox packed to the brim with toys, school supplies and hygiene items.

The box he received was the one my six-year-old boys and I put together back in Calgary and it was jam-packed with goodies.

Toy cars and trucks, three balls, school supplies galore, socks, gloves, stickers, sugarless gum, hard candies, a stationery kit with scissors, glue, an eraser, ruler and doodle pad bought by my boys, a harmonica, a yo-yo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap and much more.

But Anjomudin was not alone. Santa came to many good little boys and girls yesterday -- more than 1,450 of them -- on this stinking, dirty hillside.

But, rather than red, Santa -- or rather, many Santas -- wore camouflage green, a big smile, and an assault rifle strapped across his chest.

The shoeboxes are organized by the Christian aid organization, Samaritan's Purse under its initiative called Operation Christmas Child, that will put some seven million shoeboxes into the hands of the world's poorest children this year.

And for all of those Scrooges out there who object to a Christian aid organization helping Muslim children, all I can say to you is bah, humbug.

May I second that? (I'm going to anyway!) Samaritan's Purse does not proseletize when the shoeboxes are handed out, but it's a Christian based organization and the politically correct in Canada find that objectionable.
Master Warrant Officer Wayne Bartlett, 40, says the recent return to Kabul of Afghan refugees is proof that peacekeeping is making a difference.

"When I got here in August, this camp had just 70 or 80 people in it," says Bartlett.

"Now, there's 1,400 kids alone. I think that just shows the confidence Afghans have in Kabul now and the ability to start a new life."

At that, Bartlett, a father of Natasha, 16, and Emily, 12, shows a couple of little boys how to work a toy truck.

"I'm not going to be home for Christmas, so doing this helps," says Bartlett, who has helped hand out shoeboxes three times in Bosnia, once in Somalia and once in Rwanda.

It takes a special kind of person to care so much about others. He sounds like quite a guy.

Posted by Debbye at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2003

Pro-democracy rallies in Iraq

Dec. 17 - Zeyad of Healing Iraq is published online in the Weekly Standard piece Pro-democracy rallies in Iraq, and more..

I can't imagine how much Saddam's capture will increase the size of the demonstrations, and I hope the media finally leaves their poolside chairs to cover them.

Who could have imagined only one year ago that Iraqis would be able to take freely to the streets and demonstrate - and I include the demos against US presence as well - without coercion or fear? The best part is the eagerness with which so many people in Iraq are embracing control of their destinies and finding their voices.

When dreams become reality . . . I think Robert Kennedy would be gratified that his words of so many years ago (Some see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they could be and ask why not?) have gained renewed meaning.

Why not indeed.

I'm off to work on a marathon schedule. Take care and keep the faith.

Posted by Debbye at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Environmentalism as the new religion

Dec. 17 - ColbyCosh looks at Michael Crichton's speech at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club in which he which declares environmentalism to be a new religion and more.

Check out Jay Currie's post on Lazy Bison, too.

It does seem that we are unwise and arrogant) to fool with Mother Nature.

Posted by Debbye at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

Keith Magnuson

Dec. 17 - Nice tribute to Keith Magnuson at The Meatriarchy.

A sad day indeed.

Posted by Debbye at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda threat to Turkey

Dec. 17 - Very interesting news from Turkey about the recent terrorist attacks there. According to officials, information gained from interrogation of suspects indicates that Bin Laden proposed attacks on U.S. base in Turkey; militants switched targets because security at the Incirlik Air Base was "too tight."

Evidently, the terrorists switched targets without bin Laden's approval, but also claim it had already been stipulated by the head of al Qaeda that no Turks were to be harmed in the attacks:

The information came from interrogations of a top suspect in last month's deadly bombings in Istanbul that authorities believe were carried out by Turkish militants trained by al-Qaida in Afghanistan, according to the officials. The suspect, Fevzi Yitiz, told interrogators that bin Laden approved attacks in Turkey on condition that Turks were not killed, a top intelligence source told the AP this week.

But the militants instead bombed two synagogues, a London-based bank and the British Consulate, killing 62 people, mostly Muslims.

The attacks appear to be part of a growing trend in terrorism, bombings by al-Qaida trained activists who have returned to their home countries and are maintaining only weak ties with the central group, terrorism experts say.

This would seem to confirm speculations that the ultimate intent of the terrorists is to kill, and if they can't kill Westerners, they'll kill whomever they can.

There seems to be an Iranian connection, too:

A break in the case came when Yitiz was arrested on Dec. 10 after infiltrating Turkey from Iran, a police official said.

[...]

Yitiz said he heard from Aktas, who had fled to Iran before the attacks, that al-Qaida "considered the bombings as a failure because it mostly killed Muslim Turks," the intelligence official said.

The information attributed to Yitiz was based on his meetings with other accomplices in Turkey and recently in Iran, officials said.

The article has some biographical information about Yitiz including the time he spent at a university in Pakistan and at a terror training camp in Afghanistan.

The article also notes that the meeting with bin Laden took place in Afghanistan in 2002.

Posted by Debbye at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

Robin Williams in Baghdad

Dec. 17 - Robin Williams opened his show in Baghdad with Good morning Bagh-dad!. He was entertaining the troops along with Shannon Tweed, wrestler Kurt Angle and stock car driver Mike Wallace.

The Meatriarchy reports that another noted Hollywood actor, John Rhys-Davies, took a strong and passionate stand for Western civilization and freedom, and scolded the media for failing to appreciate those values.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

Martin freezes spending

Dec. 17 - Paul Martin has announced a massive freeze on federal spending although he is going ahead with the purchase of helicopters, but according this this analysis by Greg Weston, its part sham because the Purse strings not so tightly knotted.

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

Fact-checking PM

Dec. 17 - Fact-checking PM Paul Martin just got easier with Martin Watch. The site says it will be using the Globe and Mail as its base resource.

UPDATE: Francoise has changed the name to Fiberal Watch -- same url. (Blogroll changed.) (He only did it because I knows I tremble in fear before My Template!)

It's on the blogroll along with Premier Liar (which got a mention in a recent Lorrie Goldstein column.)

The Martin site is brought to you courtesy of Francois, also know as French Libertarian in Quebec.

Posted by Debbye at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)

Fly Our Flag web site

Dec. 17 - Fly Our Flag is having a vote on which flag Martin will hoist over the Peace Tower (for American readers, PM Paul Martin is a shipping magnate who runs his ships under flags of convenience rather than the Canadian flag.)

Neat descriptions under each flag explain why Martin might choose it.

A Paul Martin fact-file is here.

(Via Francois of Martin Watch, who kindly sent out an email with the links.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Carnival of the Canucks

Dec. 16 - Go to Switching To Glide: Carnival of the Canucks #1 right now!

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

Quote of the Day

Dec. 16 - Quote of the day from Spinkiller

There must be a common denominator of international law to peacefully co-exist. But isn't that the role of the United Nations? Sorry, but that is like asking your guidance councilor to stop a home invasion.
Great essay!

Posted by Debbye at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

Irwin Cotler strikes out

Dec. 16 - It seems my hope that Irwin Cotler's appointment as Minister of Justice could be a good step were ill-based. Trudeaupia has a fine fisking of the "perfect Trudeaupian idiot" and his notion of letting the UN deal with Saddam. (Ctrl+F "Idiot du Jour".)

Posted by Debbye at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Jack's Newswatch

Dec. 16 - Good friend and respected Canadian blogger Jack has launched a news service for Canadians with a focus on items of interest to conservatives at Jack's NewsWatch.

He's already got links to recent columns by Bob MacDonald, Colby Cosh and David Warren for starters, as well as numerous articles at canada.com (National Post) Debka, Daily Telegraph (UK) and the IHT (Int'l Herald Tribune).

Keep it up, Jack!

Posted by Debbye at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Satan's Grotto

Dec. 16 - The Sun (UK) doesn't spare any words in their description of what they term Satan's Grotto, i.e., Saddam's last residence until his capture.

They speculate that US forces caught the "monster" napping.

Posted by Debbye at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

The gun that can shoot around corners

Dec. 16 - SAS issued with guns that can shoot around corners:

The system can be fitted to most commonly used pistols. It has a trigger attached by a cable to the pistol trigger, so that the handgun can be extended through a doorway while the soldier remains covered by a wall.

A small, high-resolution camera and monitor give a full view around the corner. The footage can also be transmitted to a command post. The soldier can tilt the pistol 60 degrees to the left or right, enabling him to angle his body and fire a shot at 90 degrees.

A sharp pull of the grip snaps the pistol back so that it points to the front and he can storm the room.

In the three months that the system has been on the market, Corner Shot Holdings, a Florida-based company manufacturing in Israel, has sold units to 15 countries including Israel, Russia, the United States and Britain.

Check out the photo.

Posted by Debbye at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Archbishop Tutu

Dec. 16 - Despite my sarcasms, I have sympathy for those who, on the one hand are distressed by policies and actions in their own countries, organizations and even families yet, on the other, do not wish to appear disunited in public. They aren't entirely wrong to fear that others might see and exploit differences to make the country or organization weaker.

On that level I can comprehend why some African nations defend Robert Mugabe, but this man has decided that principles outweigh dubious solidarity: Tutu hits out at Mugabe's African supporters:

The archbishop hit out at those who have called for the Mugabe regime to be readmitted to the Commonwealth in the face of continuing human rights violations and abuse of the rule of law.

Archbishop Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner, said the struggle against apartheid would not have been won if Mr Mbeki's logic had been applied in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Had the international community invoked the rubric of non-interference then we would have been in dire straits in our anti-apartheid struggle," the former archbishop of Cape Town said in a statement released yesterday by his office.

"We appealed for the world to intervene and interfere in South Africa's internal affairs. We could not have defeated apartheid on our own. What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander too."

The former head of the Anglican Church in South Africa also said he was "baffled" by the behaviour of Mr Mbeki and other apologists for the Mugabe regime.

[...]

"Human rights are human rights and they are of universal validity or they are nothing.

"There are no peculiarly African human rights, what has been reported as happening in Zimbabwe is totally unacceptable and reprehensible and we ought to say so regretting that it should have been necessary to condemn erstwhile comrades. The credibility of our democracy demands this.

"If we are seemingly indifferent to human rights violations happening in a neighbouring country what is to stop us one day being indifferent to that in our own?" (Emphasis added)

What indeed?

Like so many Telegraph articles, this one ties Archbishop Tutu's comments to other issues in South Africa, notably Nelson Mandela's position on AIDS which is markedly different from that of Mbecki's as well as a seeming generational divide in the African National Congress, so RTWT and follow some of the links.

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

Saddam betrayed by 2nd wife?

Dec. 16 - Saddam betrayed by his wife note that the headline use of the word "betrayed" may be a bit of a stretch, but I have to wonder what's going on when $55 million isn't enough:

SADDAM Hussein was captured in a filthy underground hole because of the demands of the one woman he still trusted.

She is Samira Shahbander, the second of his four wives.

And now she may receive part of, if not all, of the $US25million ($33.8 million) bounty the US Government promised for information that led to the capture of the Iraqi dictator.

Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had been tailing her since she fled to Beirut, Lebanon, before the US invasion.

In a tapped phone call last Thursday she arranged to meet the former dictator that weekend after demanding more cash.

But the meeting was cancelled at the last minute - perhaps because Saddam was beginning to feel the heat that US forces were closing in. Late last Friday, US soldiers captured an Iraqi fugitive they had been hunting since July - who is believed to have given them the former dictator's exact location - a farm at Ad Dawr, about 15km from Tikrit, his ancestral home and where he was caught late Saturday.

Last March, with the coalition forces closing in, Saddam arranged for Samira and their son Ali to flee to Lebanon.

With her she took $US5 million in cash and a trunk of gold bars from the vaults of the Central Bank of Iraq.

She told friends she was going first to France and then to Moscow - that Saddam had been secretly promised by Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, to give her sanctuary.

Read the whole thing. It not only contains some more information as to how and when Mossad contacted the US, but also some chilling revelations about Samira's reaction to Usay and Kusay's deaths.

Much as I would love to sink Putin and the Russians, please note that the article only says that she told friends about the offer of sanctuary, which doesn't mean that the offer existed.

Posted by Debbye at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

News bites

Dec. 16 - It's official: today's top stories are too weird and determined to devil me.

First, Real cop nabs fake fuzz. Actually, I think the guy is totally sane. He only put into action what many of us have wished we could do.

Client slugs own lawyer Okay, raise your hand if you never wanted to slug your own lawyer. Right. (Actually, this guy might be nuts. And I don't approve of men slugging women even if she is a lawyer.)

Keiko now 'at peace'. Details on the burial of a whale which, you'll be glad to know, went smoothly but in secrecy.

Doc will be 'threat' because he likes to perform unnecessary hysterectomies. Ya think? The question now is if he should be allowed to continue his practice excluding surgery.

'Alien entity' killed mom after which her daughter sat beside her decomposing corpse for 7 days and smoked cigarettes. The name of the alleged alien entity is "Devil Son Zellion."

"Now a judge will decide if 92-year-old Amy Ruth's daughter killed her with an aquarium rock."
And the social engineers obsess over kids playing video games?

Tobey Maguire thinks it's much more physically demanding to be a jockey than Spiderman. I always said Spiderman was only slightly better than Aquaman. How long before a super-hero who's a jockey by day and crime fighter by night makes the comics?

File this under "a rose by any other name ...:" Tory MPP (that's Member of Provincial Parliament) John Baird was asked by Liberal MPP Tony Wong to withdraw the phrase "Red" China. Baird said he would substitute the phrase "Communist" China.

The article notes that over 7,000 jobs in Ontario have been lost since Ont. Premier McGuinty (aka Reptilian Kitten Eater from another planet) and the Liberal Party took power here.

Ex-tyrant nearly blown to pieces because US soldiers were seconds from tossing a grenade into the spider hole that housed Saddam.

Yeah, me too.

Saddam's squalor:

The yard was a mess, the laundry wasn't done, the pantry was bare and the only art on the wall was a poster of Noah's Ark. Saddam Hussein's hideaway on a derelict farm property in northern Iraq was a far cry from the lavish palaces he had lived in for years.
Noah's Ark? That has got to launch a thousand interpretations. Where's a de-constructionist when you need one? (All busy with Return of the King, no doubt.)

T.O. doc lost two chums to Saddam. He isn't wasting any tears for Saddam either.

Of course, not everyone is happy Saddam has gone from despot to prisoner: Many Palestinians lament Saddam's downfall. Yeah, blowing yourself up isn't half as attractive when $25,000 isn't to be paid to your families. Just think: what if the whole Straight Ticket For Paradise part is also wrong?

Vatican opposes death penalty for Saddam. Big surprise. The Pope also opposed deposing Saddam.

Saddam's family demands international trial. I agree: I think the world should be put on trial alongside Saddam.

According to Iraq The Model, the GC is making Dec. 14 a national anniversary and an official holiday. He also has a message from the former Iraqi Information Minister.

Except for the last bit, these really are news items from the Toronto Sun. Anyone who thinks Canadians are boring just isn't paying attention.

Posted by Debbye at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Reconstruction contracts

Dec. 16 - I am really, really confused. Americans are depicted as as grasping, greedy and downright unscrupulous business types who are utterly bankrupt morally and only out for a fast buck, but when it comes to blatant opportunism, it turns out that Martin names his price:

In his first conversation with Bush since being sworn in as PM, Martin protested U.S. policy that bans non-coalition countries from bidding on reconstruction contracts. He reminded the U.S. president that Canada is a "major participant" in the war on terror, dispatching 2,000 troops to Afghanistan while contributing $300 million along with policing and judicial experts to assist the fledgling democracy.
So he admits that the war in Iraq was part of the war on terror! Then why didn't he support the war in Iraq?
"I believe that Canadian companies can and should qualify. I obviously made that point to the president and we agreed that we would ask our officials to look at it and that we would discuss it further in Monterrey," he said.

Bush's call yesterday was to congratulate Martin on becoming PM and to confirm a face-to-face meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, in mid-January.

The president calls to congratulate Martin, and Martin's first response is to say that he believes that American taxpayers should finance Canadian businesses.

Has it even occured to those Canadians protesting the US decision to wonder who will get the reconstruction contracts from the Canadian funds - footed by Canadian taxpayer dollars - pledged to Iraq and Afghanistan?

In other news, the French and Germans figured it out themselves. They've chosen to discuss the best way to appear magnanimous with their eyes firmly on the prized reconstruction contracts.

And to think how much they sneered at the "Coalition of the Billing" when allies were signing up to support us in Iraq.

UPDATE: It seems I'm a bit behind the times. The correct phrase now seems to be Coalition of the Pissy. What name are we supposed to give to individual members? (Don't answer that! My mother read this sometimes.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

General rant

Dec. 16 - To anyone in Toronto who experienced the blink-out (brief black-out) I confess: that was me. I was trying to tidy up the blog roll and the power cut off and then back on. You already know what happened to my work, and I apologize for what may have happened to your work.

Contrary to numerous cliches, things don't necessarily work out better the second time you do them. If I put somebody in the wrong category, mispelt a name or did something equally dumb, please email me and let me know. I don't proofread very well when words are surrounded by htlm as well as blogger code (that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.)

I have a number of good reasons why I'd rather do housework than enter the Template Zone. It's not fear, it's justified caution because I have to go into the Template Zone unarmed.

The Blogger Template Zone and I have an relationship similar to that of the UN and US. If I have something it wants, we're the bestest of friends; if I need it to cooperate or at least not stab me in the back, it smirks and

a) goes down completely (second-to-the-last time I tried to tidy the blog roll)
b) refuses to re-publish the entire site and gives an error message that even Blogger doesn't recognize (last tidying)
c) the power packs up and leaves the building (today.)

Does it show? I just finished reading Kofi Annan's views on the fate of Saddam and my jaundice level is a-rising.

One thing struck me: I actually have something in common with jihadists and muhajadeen. They have contempt for Americans because they think we'll break and run at the first sign of trouble, and I look at the United Nations and Red Cross and, yes, I admit that I find them contemptible cowards.

Respect is something that has to be earned, or, in the case of the UN, re-earned. Their numerous lapses in confronting genocide and evil have caused many to wonder of what use they are except to give lifelong bureucrats like Annan status and well-paying jobs and pensions at our direct expense.

We have our own corps of life-long albeit homegrown bureaucrats, thank you all very much.

Again: who pays their salary? The very people they deign to lecture on courage and morals! Can we all say Pink Slip the lot of them? Of course we can.

The USA has a lot of bad as well as good. The difference is that we are continually working to eliminate the bad, and if we seem self-involved it's because helping and improving the lives of all our citizens is a priority. Are we really doing any worse than any other country? No, actually; we're doing better because we never give up.

It is really, really nice that everyone in the world wants to get involved with improving us and I can really, really see how that goal would be much more preferable to working to improve themselves.

Americans believe that actions speak for themselves, and regard all words with respectful skepticism. Nice words had better be backed by action or the speechifyers will be shrugged off.

Americans regard hostile nations allies who want us to use our taxpayer dollars to subsidize their economies with contempt. We see too many nations with their hands perpetually extended for a payout, and some of these are G-8 nations!

Cowardice and courage come in many forms. I merely listed a few examples and implied some others.

[N.B.: No bureaurcrats were harmed in the production of this rant.]

Posted by Debbye at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Steyn Speaks

Dec. 15 - New Mark Steyn column in today's Daily Telegraph (UK) Payback time for the axis of weasels and spells it out:

On Iraq, France, is on the other side - Saddam was their man, to the end. Germany is in a state of semi-derangement - a third of Germans under 30 believe that America organised the 9/11 attacks, a statistic only a polling point or two behind the excitable young men of Pakistan's North-West Frontier.

Canada thinks that it can enjoy north American prosperity without contributing to north American defence. And Russia is already undermining the next American goal - under cover of the anodyne EU/IAEA position on Iran, it is continuing to assist the mullahs' nuclear programme.

So it's not (just) payback, it's also about the next round of problems. One can think of several terms for folks who behave in these various ways, but "allies" isn't one of them - unless "allies" is now a synonym for, respectively, saboteurs, poseurs, nutters and enemies.

Posted by Debbye at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

Connecting Saddam to al Qaeda

Dec. 15 - I've seen this a couple of places: Does this link Saddam to 9/11? from the Daily Telegraph (UK) which tells of a document written and signed by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti (thus far uncaptured) who was the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). The document is about a visit to Iraq by Mohammed Atta and states that he was hosted in Abu Nidal's house.

UPDATE: Prompted by a commenter, we need to remember that literally scores of fake documents have been sold in Iraq since the fall of Saddam, and even though authorities think this document is genuine, it may be still be proven to be fake. Same goes for the second document further down. Skepticism is a always good rule of thumb.

Abu Nidal was murdered in August, 2001, one month after Atta's visit. Attempts were made to make it look like a suicide, but somehow shooting oneself 4 times in the head made people skeptical. CORRECTION: The Telegraph article is wrong: Nidal was killed in 2002. I myself was too quick to look at the month and not double-check the date. It also brings home to me how much has happened these past two years.

Another document concerned a shipment from Niger to Baghdad by way of Libya and Syria.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Deroy Murdock in National Review Online brings up some other connections between Saddam and Sept. 11 and thinks Saddam should be questioned on them.

Good time to re-post the links to Weekly Standard's Case Closed Pt. I and Part II.

UPDATE: From Instapundit, Newsweek asserts the document placing Atta in Iraq is a forgery. They also claimed that the first Weekly Standard article referenced above was wrong, so Part II (also referenced above) was written to rebut Newsweek's claims. (Am I psychic or what? Er, probably the correct answer is what. I included the link WS links because of the Murdock column.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

Two Tribes

Dec. 15 - A new post - a short one - at Eject! Eject! Eject!: TWO TRIBES.

By the way, Bill just disproved one of their predictions, because irony is not dead and it's not pining.

Posted by Debbye at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

Reactions to Saddam's capture

Dec. 15 - Now for reactions from a Canadian perspective: Peter Worthington declares Independence Day for Iraqis arrives

The good news is that they got him. The bad news is that he was taken alive. That's the immediate, visceral reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Heh. I know how he feels.

Bob MacDonald gives full marks to coalition perseverance, and like Worthington, points out that PM Martin is on the hot seat.

The Toronto Sun editorial (one day link life) calls for letting the Iraqis deal with Saddam.

Naturally, the Toronto Star editorial calls for an international tribunal under the auspices of a United Nations.

I guess they want to conceal the corruption of the UN Oil-for-food program, because that would be the effect. Yes sirree, it's been my personal experience that trials are fairest when the prosecution and jury are composed of the accused's collaborators.

Tony Blair has stated that the Iraqi people should decide Saddam's fate. The Telegraph has several links on the side bar of the article.

The Sun (UK) unabashedly has a photo of Chirac and Saddam toasting one another in the article Even Chirac gives thanks. The article has a quick round-up of the congratulatory messages sent by world leaders, but quite frankly, the only ones that really count are those from our allies.

Canadian PM Paul Martin heaped praise on the coalition forces and said we could look forward to a different level of reconstruction but called for a credible trial for Hussein:

"I am convinced it will be a trial, a court of international competence," Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin Martin said, giving the past examples of international tribunals in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia.

"What is important, is that he be tried before a tribunal that is just, credible and that has international recognition," Martin said.

International recognition? Oh, he also means a tribunal with Weasel Recognition. The Weasels and NGOs like Amnesty International cannot recognize an Iraqi tribunal because that would mean recognition that they are not the lone representatives of justice.

Suddenly, I find an additional reason to be glad the UN skedaddled. They can't claim jurisdiction after running away!

I'm not trying to insult Canadians because many of them have been totally supportive of US action in Iraq, but the simple fact is that Canada has very little to say about what happens in Iraq. Blame Chretien, blame the feckless Parliament, but Canada did not even pay lip service to that which would have given her a credible voice in Saddam's prosecution before the war and gave lukewarm (and much amended) support in the middle of the war.

I haven't been able to find any comments by Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, but I seriously doubt he'll pay tribute to the UN. Harper is a proud Canadian and no weasel.

UPDATE: Following an idea from the first commenter, I returned to the Canadian Alliance webpage, searched their press release archives and found this from yesterday:

"Thanks to the decisive action of our friends and allies, Saddam Hussein is no longer in a position to terrorize the people of Iraq," said Harper. "This is a great day for Iraqis, a great day for the coalition, and a great day for all those who were willing to stand-up for what was right."
There is no specific mention of his preferences for who should take jurisdiction over Saddam, but as I stated before, I don't see him urging the Iraqi people to give up their right to try him.

PM Martin did speak to Pres. Bush by telephone today but sidestepped answering reporters' questions about Saddam and the possibility of him receiving the death sentence (because for the elitist media up here, that is the really, really important question.)

Paul Martin may talk out of both sides of his mouth even neatly more coherently than Chretien, but so far all I've seen is the the same Inner Weasel.

Is the American horror at a leader who would gas and murder his own people unique? President Bush is speaking live on CNN right now and his voice still, after all these months, indicates his disbelief at a leader who would do such. If our attitude is unique, it doesn't say a lot about how other leaders feel about their own people but says a great deal about what other people think of their own leaders.

Dear Lord, please deep me unsophisticated. Please let me retain the capacity for horror, the knowledge of right and wrong, and keep me from being nuanced.

Posted by Debbye at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

Blogger reactions to Saddam's capture

Dec. 15 - I managed to get home last night in time to see Lou Dobbs on CNN reporting on Saddam's capture. Bless you, Lou, and the big grin on your face! It almost made up for hearing Amanpour's take on the capture. Thank goodness she's in London and safe from Fox's intimidation.

Jay has a series of posts and links to the capture and reactions. As Jay points out, Joe Liberman gets it. That's the truly sad part about the whole Dem presidential candidate race: Joe always got it, but sadly he's in the wrong party. Democrats beware: Joe is the only candidate that may represent the survival of the Democrats after Dean and Gore finish shredding its reputation.

Chief Wiggles is in Bagdhad and attended the news conference.

Expat Yank has some links to Iraqi bloggers here (or do Ctrl+F "Read these now").

Blackfive also has a round-up from some excellent bloggers I hadn't read before.

More links to Iraq bloggers and military personnel to Saddam's capture:

Healing Iraq has the picture of the day as well as The beast in chains and some reactions that on one level I can share. I found myself struck anew by the memory of the Iraqis who were butchered by Saddam yesterday because even as I saw the medical inspection reminding us that this monster was, after all, a mere human, he was indeed a monster.

Butcher = human = monster = human. Maybe those who live under regimes like Saddam's will take heart at being reminded that such monsters are merely mortal and, fearsome as they are, will all meet a mortal end.

Woo hoo! Jack Cafferty on CNN just quoted Zeyad and mentioned his blog! (9:30 am)

Iraqi Now links to Saddam's exchange with the Iraqi Governing Council.

By the way, Williams Safire (also in today's NY Times) suggests that the reason Hussein didn't go down fighting was because he wants the Mother of All Genocide Trials and is unlikely to betray any details of his French and German relationships.

Boots on the Ground remembers the celebrations in Baghdad after Kusay and Ousay were killed and believes the capture will strike a blow to the terrorists' morale.

Mike the Marine has his own round-up Who says ... and some Ebay items I definitely won't bid on.

Sgt. Stryker "interviews" Saddam. Heh. He also has a link-laden post on the capture and leads off with the mug shots.

WOLVERINES!!

Lileks gets the last word (I just knew he couldn't stay away!):

... The history texts will note that Baghdad fell on this date, Saddam was captured on that date, and the events between the two events will fill up a paragraph at best. Cruel but true. This was a big event, but there are bigger events to come.

We live in an age where we're always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And drop it does. And drop again it will.

If this war has a mascot, it's the millipede.

And that's why yesterday's euphoria is giving way to sobriety. A whoop of joy, then back to the business at hand.

Posted by Debbye at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2003

The media a miserable failure

Dec. 14 - To tell the truth, if I didn't think it better to consolidate forces, I'd list the media as the most miserable of failures. When Saddam's capture was announced, the Iraqi media sprang to their feet and applauded.

Our (American) meda? I've been angry at them for awhile, but tonight I'm almost grimly pleased at how the Iraqi media showed up those stone-hearted, miserable bastards. And yes, I feel better now.

And this is the ice cream I found while googling for miserable failure: I WANT TO EAT A NUT OF LAERMA!. This Quebec blogger has his own googling definitions for miserable failure, and they are neat.

The first on the post is "Real American Hero" (George W. Bush).

There are two kind of google bombs: praise and ridicule, true?

Go check out his definitions (Ctrl+F "Other Miserable Failures" and note, there are two posts, dated Dec. 12 and 13.)

Another Dec. 11 post reveals that he's a South Park fan, and comments in a Southpark-type fashion on the recent Quebec "Day of Disruption" in ALL ABOUT MORMONS QUEBEC UNIONS." (Permalink not working.)

One of the kids has been wating patiently for this comptuer, so I'm saying good night.

It's been a good day, so remember to think of the fine men and women who are still in danger over there in Iraq, Afghanistan, and guarding the Persian Gulf. They continue to do us all proud, and make us all humble.

UPDATE: Steve modestly points out he only delivered the message, but hey! he's CanCon (and has a nice blog.)

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

We got the bastard

Dec. 14 - As though I need to say it: We got the bastard.

I have to leave for work shortly. Being sensitive to diverse attitudes in Canada, I will of course behave gravely and as though this is a serious, weighty matter in which the US must heed the advice and wisdom of its much more knowledgeable, nuanced good friends and allies NOT!

I'm going to freaking skip and dance my way through work today. If anyone suggests the world community should be involved in his trial, I'm going to laugh long and hard.

At first I was sorry he wasn't shown looking like like the guy in the middle but I guess a tongue depressor in his mouth will make for as memorable a photo!

Have a great and glorious day!

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2003

Germany

Dec. 13 - Americans had decided long before Condi Rice gave voice to it that we would "Punish France", but I haven't been comfortable with her advice to "Ignore Germany" and I'm glad to see Right Wing News is keeping an eye on them.

The world may be shocked and awed by the recent mobilization of police and wholesale arrests in Germany but that was for the sake of their own security more than ours, but what to make of this: The German "Peace Movement" Wants To See American Soldiers Die. That's not hyperbole; they are actually organizing and fund-raising to that end. He provides lots of links to other sources that advocate that end.

I've seen little evidence that the German public is as divided as the Canadian public over their relationship with the US, and although I'd be glad for that news, it does seem ominous that the German government isn't looking into this effort to support the Ba'athists and terrorists in Iraq more, given their "pacifist" stance. Of course, they're a bit busy these days trying to conquer Europe with paperwork.

Posted by Debbye at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

EU Constitution

Dec. 13 - Some quick hits on the ongoing discussions over the proposed EU Constitution:

Blair cast as summit peacemaker.

A leader (editorial) in the Telegraph: Don't mention Superstate.

European Union factfile.

British protesters at the conference were arrested in what the Sun (UK) calls an Assault on Free Speech in and, yes it does sound somewhat trumped up.

The Sun Says Liberty? Pah!.

What I've resented most were the attempts to compare it to the US Constitution, a document which restricted centralized power instead of greedily hoarding it, but it does look as though closer scrutiny has alarmed enough people to sink this power grab.

UPDATE: Expat Yank has come more links on the EU Constitutution and also wonders how us simpletons in the USA can write an enduring document at 9 pages but the more sophisticated Europeans need 256 pages.

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

December 12, 2003

Quick hits

Dec. 12 - All good things must come to an end, like my mid-week weekend. I return to work tomorrow for some more weird and wacky hours so I'm searching out the funny and witty (because I need to cheer up.)

Day by Day - always good.

Looks like Donald Sensing isn't the only one who sees the Little Red Hen analogy to the outcry over the Iraq reconstruction lockouts, but Dumbidity takes it a step further and gives the animals appropriate names. He explains CWISSLN and gives an inadvertant reason to be relieved that Martin isn't Chretien (other than the fact that he isn't, you know, Chretien): he doesn't have a silly sounding name.

That tale is getting a lot of play including some Very Special Versions over at Mudville Gazette.

I got that from Susie, who also gave me, no, just get them yourselves (where does she find this stuff?). It's her Monday, which was my Sunday, which means we're both depressed.

It's a freaking epidemic. Harvey picks up a really bad good joke to cheer everyone up from Sgt. Stryker's comments because he's depressed (the Sarge, I mean. Harvey's not depressed. I hope.)

The Essay is no longer sick, is not depressed, and has an answer to the Eternal Question (and instructions for catching the next mothership.)

Chuck notes that this war has it's moments.

ScrappleFace has a report that DH Rumsfeld has left the door open for one thing the Weasels can contract for.

Of course, I doubt I need to tell you to read ScrappleFace every day much less him or him.

Posted by Debbye at 11:26 PM | Comments (1)

Mohammad Warsame

Dec. 12 - The man reported yesterday as being detained in Minnesota as a possible link to Moussaoui has been identified as a naturalized Canadian citizen (that's American wording, not Canadian wording) from Somalia, Mohammed Warsame. The report is sketchy, but he is suspected of attending an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and sources say he has provided information about Moussaoui.

It appears to be a joint statement from Canadian and US officials:

Mohammed Warsame, 30, was taken into custody earlier this week, said Reynald Doiron, a spokesman for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, Ontario.

[...]

Dorion said the Canadian government, informed in a one-page form letter faxed to its Minneapolis consulate on Tuesday, was satisfied that Warsame was being afforded his rights.

"We know what needs to be known," he said. "And he has access to an attorney."

He has a lawyer, and Canadian officials have spoken to him, but that's not likely to stop the Toronto Star from screaming bloody murder.

Canoe news has a report here on a press conference held by Warsame's wife at the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul in which she denied her husband has nothing to do with al Qaeda, and that she didn't know Moussaoui or whether her husband had been to Afghanistan. It was also reported that she spoke through an interpreter.

Sigh. Looks like Bill Graham is still Foreign Affairs Minister (but I'm sure he can handle this situation) and Irwin Cotler is Justice Minister. [Wow. Do read the Cotler link; I found it through a quick google, and am astonished to find a Liberal using the word "Orwellian," defending Israel and disagreeing with Kofi Annan. This could get interesting.]

My kids travel under Canadian passports, so I consider Graham fair game. Some things are personal.

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

New Blog Showcase

Dec. 12 - Time to cast votes for the The Truth Laid Bear: The New Weblog Showcase.

The Iraq war will be a success is an excellent look at not only Iraq, but Bosnia and Kosovo and a brief history of occupations.

There will be talk of a "Mesopotamian renaissance" (you heard it here first).
I read it, and I like it. What's more, I agree.

Maybe this is my day for nostalgia, but as I read this on plagiarism I found myself again thinking again "how times have changed" (and "this is getting depressing.") When I was in uni, committing plagiarism was grounds for expulsion. Period.

I don't find it surprising that parents are indignant when their kids are caught and try to avoid any punishment. We see that behaviour from parents too often in public schools too, although it takes the form of fretting over "self esteem."

One thing that hasn't changed is parental compulsion to get their kids into a good university, but wait, aren't these parents boomers? And didn't we drop all that phony comformity to the establishment stuff? Dang, I must have missed another memo.

Posted by Debbye at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

Goodbye, Chretien

Dec. 12 - There is an excellent analysis of the departed Prime Minister of Canada (SO LONG, JEAN) from Peaktalk, a Dutch blogger who lives in Canada.

As I read it (more than once actually) I realized that I had forgotten my biggest grudge against Chretien. Peaktalk reminds us that the man had always been viewed as a street fighter, and I suddently remembered my earnest assertions in emails to friends and family back home that Canada would be solidly with the US because people up here hate terrorism and Chretien is one formidable man.

I was wrong, at least regarding the solid part, but Peaktalk argues very persuasively that had not events of Sept. 11 taken Chretien (and indeed, us all) off guard, history would regard him differently. Yet actions speak louder than words and Canada has been a solid ally in Afghanistan, so even if the former Prime Minister didn't regale us with long speeches and dazzling oratory, the deeds have, or should, speak for themselves.

There are some things I'll never forget about Sept. 11. I'll never forget how quickly the airplanes were grounded and the borders were sealed in both Canada and the US. I'll never forget the town of Gander, which took so many strangers into their homes and hearts. I'll never forget the readiness of the Canadian Air Force to shoot down a passenger plane that was not responding to radio (thank God it didn't come to that.)

That fast response happened on Jean Chretien's watch. Give the man his due: he and Canada were there when the US most needed them.

It kind of makes Canada's actions regarding Iraq a little less significant.

I've tried to set boundaries in how much I would say and how far I would go when commenting on Canadian issues. I think I did that in part because I am angered at how overly involved much of the Canadian media is in all things American, including things that really are none of Canada's business, and because there is sometimes an attitude that we Americans ought to do things, like elect a President that Canadians will find acceptable.

That cuts both ways. Earlier this morning, the headline of a news agency that rhymes with DNN heralded that Canada has a new "pro-American" Prime Minister. Now there's a wonderful example of utter stupidity. It isn't about whether the PM is pro-American, it is about whether he is pro-Canadian and about what his vision of Canada is. I've never taken issue with Canada to take whatever course she deemed best for her and her people, I'm just suspicious when anti-American (or pro-American) sentiment is fanned to justify policy rather than reason and logic.

So now Canada has a new Prime Minister and the Cabinet shuffle means new people will be speaking about Canadian affairs.

Canada also has a newly united Conservative Party, which may have its mettle tested earlier than they'd like should Martin call a general election.

Democracy, as they say, is a work in progress.

Posted by Debbye at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)

Soldiers get heroes' welcome

Dec. 12 - This story brought tears to my old softy eyes: Soldiers get heroes' welcome:

"You guys coming or going? Going? Thank you," said Mr. Hastings, 64, shaking each soldier's hand and looking them in the eye. "Don't think we don't think about you. We think about you every night."

Mr. Hastings, a Vietnam War veteran, then walked 50 yards down the concourse to thank another soldier, a young man who stood alone studying a Burger King menu for his last American meal before re-entering Iraq.

U.S. soldiers coming home from Iraq on leave or returning there attract plenty of attention at BWI. Middle-age and older men frequently walk up to them to shake their hands and thank them for their service. Teenage boys stare in awe and curiosity. A young black woman stops to talk with a black female soldier who is her age about new hairstyles. Military veterans make sure incoming soldiers are able to find their connecting flights.

[...]

"It just reminded me. ... Wow. ... Freedom has a cost, and they're paying it," said Jim Schultz, a Baltimore businessman on his way to Orlando, Fla. Mr. Schultz was one of those stopping soldiers to thank them for their service.

Remember to thank those who serve. They are truly heroes.

Posted by Debbye at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

Bush to Europe: Forgive Iraq Debt

Dec. 12 - Bush sends debt-relief message to Europe:

President Bush yesterday said forgiving Iraqi debt would be "a significant contribution" to postwar reconstruction efforts and suggested that such a move by France, Germany and Russia might be enough to permit those countries' companies to compete for prime contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
Heh. Will they blink?

Posted by Debbye at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

Headscarf ban and former Western views of modesty

Dec. 12 - The French Presidential commission recommendation yesterday that religious symbols be banned in public schools initially brought home to me one of the underlying differences in how I understand religious tolerance as an American and how the French view it.

My immediate reaction was that the French federal government was prohibiting the "free expression" of religion. My immediate reaction was that it is highly desirable that members of different faiths realize that they can co-exist peacefully and tolerantly with one another. (This is not an attack on the French, but simply a comment on the difference in how the two countries view freedom of religion.)

But it's not that simple. IIRC, one of the reasons the commission looked at this issue - particularly the wearing of head scarves - was because of reports that Muslim girls who didn't want to wear head scarves were pressured to do so by members of their communities, so they are looking at tolerance within religions more than between religions.

But the article cites another reason:

Commission head Bernard Stasi said the proposed law was aimed at keeping France's strict secular underpinnings intact and at countering "forces that are trying to destabilize the country," a reference to Islamic fundamentalists.

Stasi said the panel was not discriminating against the Muslim community but sought to give all religions a more equal footing.

The panel recommended a ban from classrooms of all "obvious" political and religious symbols, including Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcap and large crucifixes. More discreet symbols such as small crosses would be acceptable, it said.

My inner historian yearns to speak! Until the 20th century, "decent" women in Western countries always covered their heads when they were out. In fact, the failure to cover her head was a clear signal that the woman was a prostitute. Unfortunately, none of my history books chronicles how that came to change, although I have to think that as hemlines grew shorter, culminating in the 20's, mandatory head coverings were also dropped.

When I was growing up, hats and scarves were worn as a matter of course, and even as wearing hats outdoors began to fade, no woman would ever enter a church with her head uncovered (that went for Protestants as well as Catholics.) Hair was considered a woman's chief vanity, and covering the hair was a sign of modesty before God (a concept better in theory than in practice, as witnessed by the flamboyance of many hats.)

I've always considered it a sign of God's wisdom and mercy that I only had boys, and was spared from confrontations that began with the words "You're not leaving the house dressed like that." The increasingly younger ages at which girls dress like sexual beings saddens me (in a none of my business way, admittedly) mostly because they left childhood so early and are physically pretending to be that which they are not emotionally.

Where are the lines to be drawn between the parents' right to protect and control their children, a young girl's desire to be very modest or less than modest, restrictions on religious symbols in publicly funded institutions, and banning traditional dress codes that might "destabilize the country?"

I doubt the answer lies in regulation, but the French experiment will be interesting.

Posted by Debbye at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003

Anti-terrorism rallies in Iraq

Dec. 11 - I wanted these links about yesterday's demonstrations against terrorism for my own archiving (I suspect you have already read most of these.)

The US Dept. Of Defense has an item on the rallies here and says that demonstrations were held in as many as eight cities. They link to the CPA website which has nothing on the demonstrations. Grr. Not that I mind getting most of my news about this from bloggers . . .

Round-up in Instapundit here and here.

Healing Iraq reports here with a growing number of links to pictures.

Iraq Now has a report on both the anti-terrorism demonstration and a counter-demonstration in Ar Ramadi.

UPDATE: Kevin at Boots on the Ground is also bitter about press silence and calls it a Grave injustice for Iraqis.

One Hand Clapping has screen captures from Fox and links to a first-person report from Rocky Mountain News. (The reporter went to the rally shortly after arriving in Iraq. That's my kind of reporter.)

Command Post links to what may be the best headline/summation of the entire affair: Iraqis stage large anti-terrorism protests in Baghdad - while mainstream media "journalists" order another gin & tonic.

The Western media have been strangely silent on the demonstration, and were actually outdone by al Jazeera.

Roger L. Simon has a possible explanation for the silence from the media, and American Digest confirms the diagnosis and provides the underlying philosophy of this omission. UPDATE: Wretchard at Belmont Club adds a dash of self-righteousness and lyrics from the song "Woodstock" (see! CanCon!) and we have a good picture of the media.

What to do? Winds of Change has a suggestion for confronting the press about their silence.

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

An excellent excuse

Dec. 11 - A story from Colorado Conservative: He had an excuse made me laugh, especially because I suspect the defense he suggests might actually have worked. Humans are a strange and wonderful species.

Posted by Debbye at 08:10 PM | Comments (1)

Bloggers weigh in on reconstruction contracts

Dec. 11 - I'm bringing links to some comments on the decision about awarding contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq up because it has proven to be a far bigger issue than circumstances warrant given that it is not a surprise that countries that actively supported Saddam have been left out.

Can we say collaborators of a fascist dictator? I think so.

Steven den Beste has two posts here and here. He suggests in the first post that France (gasp!) might actually start withholding their advice and criticism if we don't let them in!

Canadian bloggers weighed in heavily yesterday and today:
Smug Canadian
ESR Musings (link fixed)
Jay Currie (scroll down to "Shocked")
Spin Killer
Paul weighed in before the storm erupted but was called away due to a death in the family.
Discount Blogger weighed in here, here and here
There's a different point of view and lively discussion over at Daimnation!
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says I told you so (he is entitled)
Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington ties in awarding favours and contracts with Chretien appointments.
Jack ties in the contract awards to ongoing and deliberate stoking of anti-Americanism at the Toronto Star.
Smug Canadian rebuts a letter he received and feels Canada must face up to the fact that they failed to take a stand against fascism. (CORRECTION: It was a response to another post. Sorry for the error.)
David Janes gets several with one blow.
Right On! does excellent sarcasm.
Dissident Frogman makes it short and sweet.
Mike reminds Wolfowitz what Churchill said, and Trudeaupia has some thoughts about The price of posturing.

UPDATE: As indicated in the comments, PM-for-one-last-day Chretien says he was personally assured by Pres. Bush that Canada would not be excluded (Globe and Mail link here and a Toronto Star link in comments.) There are reports at CNN and Fox which have the President defending the decision and thus contradicting the Globe story but do have him call for forgiveness of the Iraqi debt burden.

I'm wondering if a high-stakes poker game is on. It's not inconceivable that, should the old debts be forgiven, the President would revisit the policy. Forgiving the debts would definitely be in the best interests of the Iraqi people, and I'd be willing to swallow my pride plenty fast for Iraq to be out from under that debt load.

UPDATE: Peaktalk is also thinking that Iraqi debt relief could be tied to reconstruction contracts.

But I'm also reminded of the many stories that would preceed presidential speeches in which they stated Pres. Bush was going to beg the world to help out in Iraq and then, when the speech was given, he said nothing of the sort.

Note: Blogger started going weird on me so I published the original post before I could state that I'd only read my usual blogs and not the many that doubtless take a different approach not only to the contracts but generally everything. I don't read the lefty blogs that often. As a former lefty, I am extremely irritated to read the exact same stuff and phrases today as I read (and even wrote) 35 years ago. I'd have figured Pol Pot and the fall of the Soviet Union and the revelations that came out afterwards would require some re-evaluation, but these folks are now defending the worker's paradise in North Korea. Even when I was a lefty, I didn't go that far.

Anyone else old enough to remember the split in the left when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia? Sometimes we have to pay attention to things that contradict our world views.

By the way, the use of the word pretentious in the title was a shot at Chirac and Shroeder and no more. (It's hard to take shots at Martin when I still don't know what his position of various isssues are.)

MORE CANADIANS WEIGH IN: Gnotalex from the Blog Quebecois points out there are two ways to interpret what was said between Chretien and Bush in the now famous phone call.
Peaktalk points out that the Dutch are on the list even though their assistance was minimal, and thinks the list is shortsighted.

Posted by Debbye at 01:03 PM | Comments (1)

McGuinty's acumen

Dec. 11 - I questioned Dalton McGuinty's political acumen in an earlier post in which he claimed he was snubbed due to American ignorance because his scheduled ringing of the opening bell at the NYSE was usurped by the Chinese Premier, and now he claims it wasn't a lie but just a joke:

"I attempted to use a little bit of self-deprecating humour within the confines of a scrum and it was blown out of proportion," the Premier told the legislature the same day headlines appeared declaring "McGuinty says NYSE snubbed him for China."

"I was treated with the utmost respect, accorded warm and gracious hospitality by the folks at the New York Stock Exchange and everybody else I encountered," said the Premier, who was in New York on Monday but who according to his own staff was never scheduled to do any bell-ringing.

"I look forward to returning," Mr. McGuinty added, "whether or not I can get to ring the damn bell."

According to this article, however, McGuinty was half-right about the high level of Ontario-US trade:
Statistics provided by the provincial Economic Development Ministry show two-way trade in goods between Ontario and the United States was worth $356-billion in 2002. U.S.-China trade was worth $225-billion, while U.S.-Japan trade was $277-billion. U.S.-Mexican trade was slightly higher than the Ontario total at $364-billion.
And he endangered that trade with a stupid joke because . . . ?

Jay Currie (Ctrl+F "Blowback") thinks there is more credibility to the conclusions of the Fraser Report which blames political reasons for reduced Canadian-American trade than I. If Jay's right, then more unfavourable press from Canada is going to make a bad situation worse.

The fact that McGuinty lied/joked about his NY trip isn't going to help Canada's attempt to get the US to revisit their decision on awarding Iraq contracts either.

So is McGuinty stupid or calculating? If he is actively trying to sabotage trade, there's not a lot Ontarians can do to stop him for at least 5 years, which is more than enough time to permanently damage Ontario's economy.

Unless the federal and provincial Liberal Parties seriously believe that Europe, and by implication France, will become Canada's biggest trading partner, what is the gameplan? If they haven't one, then why do they persist? A bad economy can only help the new Conservative Party especially as reduced trade will not only hurt the economy but force a new spotlight onto government spending excesses, boondoggles and corruption.

Interesting times.

Posted by Debbye at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

John Manley

Dec. 11 - John Manley is something of an enigma. His strong statements as Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister immediately after Sept. 11 were well-received, but the PM was decidedly silent on the subject. Soon after, Manley was removed from Foreign Affairs and assigned to the post of Deputy PM, which many interpreted as a demotion.

Bill Graham's performance in that post has been dismal. His weak responses to the abuses suffered by Bill Sampson in Saudi Arabia (although not actually any better than Manley's), Zahra Kazemi in Iran, Bruce Balfour in Lebanon and Maher Arar in Syria have been contrasted to his recent strong responses to the detentions of Canadian nationals by the US and Israel.

His ruffled indignation at the US and Israel didn't fool anyone in Canada (it was exploited, which is different!) and has only brought into sharper focus the delusion that "soft diplomacy" is anything other than acquiescence to human rights abuses in the Mid-East.

It's a known known (Rumsfeld TM) in baseball that if you put in a weak fielder, the ball will find them. It happened to Anne McLellan, who should have been out of harm's way in the Health porfolio until she was bushwhacked by the SARS emergency.

But PM Chretien surely realized that Foreign Affairs was a much more critical portfolio after Sept. 11, so putting Graham in to play shortstop was calculated and Graham can be assumed to have followed Chetien's wishes in all the above matters. I have to conclude that Graham did not make any mental errors but adhered to the game strategy of the team manager.

Would Manley have functioned better than Graham? Not if he was obedient, I think.

Initially, Graham tried to brush off the Kazemi interrogation-to-death, but was forced to respond due to strong coverage of the death by the press (give the CBC its due in this one) and widespread public outrage, and I think further abuses of Canadians in some Mid-East countries received a higher profile because of the Kazemi death.

He-who-will-be-Prime-Minister-tomorrow, Paul Martin, hasn't indicated that he is dropping Graham (or McLellan) from his Cabinet (which I find worrisome) but has offered Manley the post of Canada's Ambassador to the US, who is said to be sitting on the job offer. I wonder what Manley's thinking, and wonder if the fact that he doesn't relish serving as Martin's mouthpiece in the US is a factor. He is on record questioning the restrictions on Iraq contracts [he's also Finance Minister now - long story] and tied Canada's aid to Iraq and Canadian presence in Afghanistan to Canadian firms being awared reconstruction contracts in Iraq, the last of which should be a non-sequitur as Canada claimed the war on terror wasn't connected to Iraq in forming its decision to join the Coalition of the Unwilling (that and the lack of a UN resolution sanctioning military action.)

At one time I would have thought him a good choice for Ambassador to the US, but he's done a fair amount of twisting and turning in the past two years and gave a disappointing performance in the Liberal Party leadership race. Maybe he needs some time off to evaluate who he is and what he stands for.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

Canadians in Afghanistan

Dec. 11 - There are some additional Canadians in Kabul these days, such as Rick Mercer and Tom Cochrane who are there to entertain the troops.

The entertainers have three shows scheduled for the troops. All the while, video cameras will be rolling to provide the backdrop for a TV special Mercer is preparing, to be aired in Canada Dec. 21.
I'm marking my calendar.

Always remember those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

Precision Guided Humour

Dec. 10 - The new Precision Guided Humor Assignment is to suppose I am Secy-Gen of the Useless Nations United Nations and can not only propose but pass resolutions!

I think mostly I would want to dissolve the danged thing (at a significant savings to US taxpayers, I might add) but would have to get members to think they thought of it themselves, so first I would have to propose and pass resolutions that would suddenly make driving New Yorkers crazy living in New York less desirable.

Obviously, the first I thing I would do is insist they drive - and park - in compliance with the laws of the city. There would be no diplomatic immunity for double-parking, unpaid tickets, and non-payment of restaurant bills. We'd request that the NYPD cooperate with us in enforcing those laws, and if jail time is required with someone named "Tiny," we would intone about human rights and equality under the law and tell 'em to throw away the key.

Next I would open the books of the Oil-For-Food program and have it audited. If companies that did business under that program wouldn't cooperate, I would ask the nation of that company to force them to comply. If any nation didn't cooperate in my search for truth, I would suspend them from the UN and they would lose all rights and privileges. (Guess which nations I'm thinking about? Heh.) After they cooperated, they would be reinstated but only as a lowly member nation. (Guess which three are off the security council?)

Of course, I'm completely fair. Nations tossed off the security council would have the right to show cause as to why they should be on the security council (having overly exaggerated self-important delusions of grandeur wouldn't cut it.)

Arafat is next. That audit will be done in painstaking detail. But I'm not heartless: I'll send him some fruitcake as a gift. If that doesn't kill him, I'll send him last year's fruitcake. Then I'll call the PA rep into my office and, while I'm cleaning my gun, tell him my "peace" plan.

By now most of those freeloading serving their countries at the UN have fled or stalked off in a pique. So far, so good.

The UN couldn't run without its bureaucracy, so naturally we'd have to reduce staff due to lesser duties. With less ambassadors and staff, we don't need that big honking building, so we'd move.

There's an unused airport way outside Montreal known as Trudeau's white elephant Mirabel Trudeau Airport. It's a bit cold in Canada, but I'm sure these dedicated people would not be off put by a little personal hardship in the pursuit of their lofty goal. Besides, they speak French in Quebec. Sort of.

For the stubborn ones still left, I'd improvise. I'm an early riser, so we start business promptly at 6 a.m. No free breakfast, so they'd better be sure to stop at the Tim Horton's Drive-Thru on their way to the HQ. I would provide coffee at $0.50 (see? I told you I'm not heartless.)

Ambassadors would be expected to brown-bag it for lunch. They only get a half-hour, and will be penalized if they are late.

In order to assist Canada in meeting their Kyoto targets, I'd reduce the heat in the winter. The delegtes would have to cope.

Alcohol would be forbidden because we wouldn't want to offend anybody. Smoking too. (Although what I do in my office is my own danged business. Besides, I wouldn't let anyone in there except friends.)

Anyone who remains is now compliant and totally subject to my will shares my goals.

Drinks on me (in Toronto.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

Proposed Tribunal in Iraq

Dec. 10 - Jason of IRAQ NOW ...... A Soldier Looks Right Back at the Media has a very straight-to-the-point post about the proposed tribunal for Iraq From the Damned if you Do, Damned if you Don't Dept. He looks at some possible repercussions of a denial of justice that I haven't seen elsewhere. (Ctrl+F Iraqi-led tribunal)

Very good post.

UPDATE: This story about a recent clash between Sunnis and Shi'ites bear out his analysis.

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

Protecting our borders

Dec. 10 - The second installment in the Washington Times series on protecting our borders is available here.

Forget the finger-pointing, both Canada and the US have major problems in dealing with illegal immigrants, and the problem isn't lack of cooperation between the countries, it's lack of internal cooperation and support for their own agencies charged with regulating immigration.

Something I didn't know about an immediate Canadian response on Sept. 11:

... James H. Johnston, director of intelligence and contraband for Canada customs in Windsor, called his U.S. counterparts in Detroit offering "every bit of intelligence information" he had to help find those responsible.

"It went without question that every file we had in our office was available to them," he said. "If we had any information that was pertinent, we wanted to make sure it got to the appropriate agency. I believe they expected we would be there for them, and I'm glad we were."

After the September 11 attacks, Mr. Johnston ordered that records of all border crossings be checked and forwarded to U.S. authorities. His offer later was repeated all along the U.S.-Canada border, as authorities in both countries worked to identify the September 11 terrorists.
The history of relations between the US and Canada is uneven, to say the least.

(Link via Spin Killer.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

Another miserable failure nomination

Dec. 10 - Another miserable failure nomination over at The Meatriarchy.

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Reconstruction contracts

Dec. 10 - CNN is pulling out the high drama: Iraq contracts list stuns world. Somehow, I think the British, Australians, Poles, Italians, Spanish, Danes, Dutch, Japanese, Turks and others are hardly "stunned." And yes, they too are part of the world.

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A decision by the U.S. to bar some of its major trading partners from bidding for Iraqi reconstruction contracts has been greeted around the world with amazement.

Countries that did not back the U.S.-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein will not be eligible to compete for $18.6 billion worth of contracts, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.

Given the weapons sales that preceeded the war, the back-stabbing efforts to thwart the war, and the smug pleasure at every death of a coalition member . . . are we really talking about allies and friends?

Do I really have to bring up the despicable oil-for-palaces program to justify why these countries aren't entitled to be trusted with US tax dollars? Furthermore, since the last thing the opposing countries want is a free Iraq, why would we allow them a foothold in that country?

In Canada, the man who will be PM in 2 days, Paul Martin, slammed the contracts ban. He plans to take the matter up with the US Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci.

Martin says that the decision should be made on the basis of what is good for the people of Iraq.

Given the bureaucratic way the countries on the banned list, including Canada, run their own governments and handicap businesses with their regulations and paperwork, I think the decision to exclude them was good for the people of Iraq. Besides, at the first terrorist attack, they might cut and run. Why give contracts to those when we are concerned they might not live up to that committment.

Martin said Canada has committed nearly $300 million for reconstruction in Iraq and that Canadian troops in Afghanistan "are carrying a very, very heavy load" in the war on terrorism.
Paul Martin's point that "Canadian troops are carrying a very heavy, heavy load" in its contribution to the war on terror is somewhat perplexing: does he now connect the otherthrow of Saddam to the war on terror? Or is he implying that their involvement in the war on terror isn't really being waged to protect Canada's interests and citizens, but they're going along with it anyway to appease the USA?

Either way, Martin has already indicated he lacks some thinking apparatus. Trying to tell the US that we owe Canada is not going to win respect.

Many, many people tried to tell Chretien and Canadians that terrorism and Saddam were linked last March, but he chose France and TotalFinaElf. Paul Martin did not oppose Chretien's stance nor his last-minute attempts to ambush the US efforts in the UN.

One last quote from the CNN "shocked and stunned" article:

France -- along with the European Commission -- said it was studying the legality of the decision.

"We're studying the compatibility of these decisions with the international laws of competition, together with our concerned partners, especially the European Union and the European Commission," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

By all means do so. I find it enlightening that they aren't going involve the UN. I guess that's as close as they'll get to admitting that the UN is all talk and no action.

I wonder what the response will be by the large number of West and East European countries as well as the UK which supported the war who are currently debating the proposed EU Constitution and are already alarmed by the attempts by France and Germany to regulate and administrate their sovereign countries.

Some comments on this decision at Smug Canadian and ESR Musings, Jay Currie (scroll down to "Shocked") and Spin Killer.

It seems the only one evincing surprise is Paul Martin.

Dec. 11 UPDATE: There's a different point of view and lively discussion over at Daimnation! and Peter Worthington ties in awarding favours and contracts with Chretien appointments. Jack ties in the contract awards to ongoing and deliberate stoking of anti-Americanism at the Toronto Star which I can't much argue with. Smug Canadian has a good response to a letter he received and feels Canada must face up to the fact that they failed to take a stand against fascism. Steven den Beste has two posts here and here. He suggests in the first post that France (gasp!) might actually start withholding their advice and criticism if we don't let them in!

Posted by Debbye at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

Miserable failure

Dec. 10 - You want to see a miserable failure?

(Via lots of people!)

Posted by Debbye at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2003

Bill Graham

Dec. 9 - Jaeger calls Cdn. Foreign Affairs Min. Bill Graham an
unbelievable idiot for good reason. (Ctrl+F "unbelievable" if blogspotted)

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

Israel helping US train special forces

Dec. 9 - I call this good news: "Israel Helping US Train Special Forces".

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

Chirac lauds Chretien

Dec. 9 - This is just so sweet! Chirac gives Chretien warm send-off:

PARIS (CP) - French President Jacques Chirac gave Jean Chretien an exceptionally warm retirement send-off Tuesday, calling Canada's departing prime minister a "prestigious and exceptional statesman" and saying Canada-France relations have never been better.

At an opulent state dinner Tuesday evening in the French capital, Chretien responded in kind.

"It is entirely appropriate to close my 40-year political career here in France, the country where Canada's recorded history began - the history of my Canada," he said in a toast to 136 guests, including about 40 from Canada.

Sounds like Chretien got a warmer send off in France than in Canada.

Smoke is starting to arise from my computer, and I don't dare quote any more. Baby doesn't like French president, not at all.

Posted by Debbye at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)

Dalton McGuinty

Dec. 9 - What is Ont. Prem. Dalton McGuinty up to? McGuinty suggests American trade ignorance behind Big Apple snub except he knew he wasn't scheduled to ring the opening bell at the NYSE:

TORONTO (CP) - Premier Dalton McGuinty suggested on Tuesday that he didn't get to ring the bell to start the day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange this week because ignorant Americans snubbed Ontario in favour of China, but his complaint appeared to be based on his own ignorance.

The Liberal premier, who was on Wall Street on Monday selling the province to a business audience, said he was supposed to have had the honour of starting the trading day.

Lined up by who? Anonymous official sources, perhaps?
"I had been lined up to give the honour of ringing the bell but I was displaced when the premier of China showed up with an 18-car cortege and pre-empted me," McGuinty said before a caucus meeting on Tuesday.

"Here's the point: Guess who does more business with the U.S.? Ontario or China? We do more business with the U.S. We do more business with the U.S. than does Japan or Mexico."

As the article points out, McGuinty is dead wrong on both counts. The US has a larger bilateral free trade ageement with both China and Mexico and does more trade with them than Ontario, and the Chinese premier had been scheduled to ring the opening bell for months.

But then, the story people remember most is the one they hear first, and McGuinty knows it. Gee, he couldn't be trying to stir up a little anti-Ignorant Americanism, could he? Because that is going to be the result for those who only read his complaints and not the facts.

The point he wanted to make, he said, is that the Ontario and the United States have "very strong economic ties."

"It's a matter of us doing a better job of promoting a good understanding of our connections," he said.

Fraudulently claiming you were snubbed is a really good way to attract investors, doncha know, not to mention building trust and impressing people. They've already written him off as a political hack and waving the Ignorant Americans flag just confirms it.
What's not in dispute is the significance of trade between Ontario and the U.S., accounting for almost half the provincial economy and more than a million jobs in the province.

More than 90 per cent of the province's exports head to the United States and 70 per cent of the imports come from the U.S.

Ontario is in fact the U.S.'s fourth largest trading partner after Canada, Mexico and China, accounting for close to $1 billion a day in two-way trade.

There may be another reason why the premier wanted to elevate the profile of Ontario's trade relations with the US, however, and that lies in a recent report by the Fraser Institute for which they interviewed Canadian exporters who believe there are huge problems in trading with the US due to worsening relations between the leaders of the two countries.

According to the press release:

December 1, 2003
Vancouver, BC - As Paul Martin prepares to improve relations with the United States, a new study dramatically reveals how costly deteriorating ties have been to Canada's economy. The Fraser Institute's 2003 Trade Survey, The Unseen Wall, released today, shows that a remarkable 96 percent of Canadian exporters surveyed believe that Canada/US relations have worsened over recent months and - far more worrisome - two-thirds believe it has damaged their ability to sell to the United States. [The complete report is linked at that page in .pdf form.]

As a result, a significant number of Canadian firms reported moving production to the United States or ceasing export activity.

"As protectionist sentiment builds in the United States and even business friendly media run anti-trade features, this survey shows how much bad relations have cost Canadians in prosperity and jobs," says Fred McMahon, principal author and director of the Institute's trade and globalization centre.

In the Executive Summary of the report:
... [the Institute] classified informal trade barrers under three headings:

1. discriminatory regulations and policies on health, product packaging, and environmental conservation.

2. cumbersome customs clearance and inspection procedures; and

3. policies on domestic content requirements, particularly "buy national" policies.

The opening paragraph of the press release has one major flaw: the report relies on the perceptions of Canadian exporters but lacks any confirmation by those American companies that Canadians lost sales to American companies for political reasons.

There are many reasons companies might choose to locate to the US. Other possibilities are the high rate of employers contributions to payroll taxes, the higher Canadian dollar, and the report alludes to but doesn't examine the costs involved in extra paperwork and lengthy waits at the border.

Security at the US-Canada border was the subject of two Washington Times articles this week. The first, Guarding America's Borders, focused on upgraded security measures on the largely undefended border, and the second, Detroit Bridge focus of trade, looked at the largest points of entry for trade into the US:

The Ambassador Bridge and the nearby Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, as well as the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich., about 60 miles northeast of here, handle about a third of all the trade crossing each day from Canada into this country. (Emphasis added)
This article too details the improvements and added personnel to handle security yet keep the border open. Nevertheless, the waits are lengthy and expensive.

I did the payroll for a small company as well as Accounts Payable and saw how high were not only the employer contributions for CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and EI (Employment Insurance,) but also the rates for Workers Compensation and the Ontario Health Tax, which are payed solely by the employer based on a percentage of the gross payroll.

Simple economics, really. How competitive are Canadian prices in US dollars after you factor in wages, taxes and extra costs in shipping when the Canadian dollar is high?

I'm not discounting American anger over the comments made by Ducros, Dhaliwal and Parrish, and the activities of soon-to-be Ex PM Chretien went beyond saying "no thank you" about Iraq, and but I live here and am probably more aware of and care more about the slurs than most Americans inasmuch as France and Germany were much more vociferous in their denunciations and commanded most of the headlines.

There was also the small matter of Chretien's comments right before the G8 meeting in Evian in which he boasted about how much better the Canadian economy was than that of the US. Whereas I doubt American investors and businesses were so miffed they decided to turn down any promising opportunity, Chretien did tempt the fates with that one. (Had he added "what could possibly gone wrong?" it would be a sure bet.)

The one thing I am sure of is that any business will look at the bottom line when making decisions, and neither hurt feelings nor pique are likely to influence their purchases, all things being equal. If it is true that companies are relocating and exports are hurting, the reasons are most likely economic rather than political.

One possible factor is the state of the Canadian military, but I doubt it. Any enemy that strikes at Canada will face the US military and probably the UK and Australia will rise quickly to the defense of Canada, as will as NATO. We might even have UN approval for that one.

Premier McGuinty may have had his reasons for pretending to have been snubbed during his visit to NYC, but somehow I doubt that improving business relations with the US was one of them.

One thing that hasn't slowed down is the all important trade in ideas. And that's the one that counts.

Posted by Debbye at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

Premier Liar McGuinty

Dec. 8 - Shortly after the election, Dalton McGuinty began to renege on the promises he had made (except the one to increase taxes on cigarettes.)

Now a website is up to keep track of broken promises at premierliar.com.

(Via Right On! Blog)

Posted by Debbye at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

U.N. control of the internet rejected

Dec. 8 - U.N. control of Web rejected:

GENEVA -- The United States, backed by the European Union, Japan and Canada, has turned back a bid by developing nations to place the Internet under the control of the United Nations or its member governments.

But governments, the private sector and others will be asked to establish a mechanism under U.N. auspices to study the governance of the Internet and make recommendations by 2005.
No, no, no! No governance. Nobody is going to tell me what I can see on the internet: not the UN, the US, or my next-door neighbour. Sheesh.

Okay, it's been a long day at work. But anything the people at the UN can do, my cat can do better. Even double-park.

Posted by Debbye at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2003

Rural Sex'Yal

Dec. 7 - Things your mama never told you, like how to spot a Rural Sex'Yal.

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

Pearl Harbor

Dec. 7 - Blogger went down immediately after my first (only) post this morning, an I was unable to put up something about Pearl Harbor. I couldn't have done better than Ith, though.

Mike the Marine also has an excellent post (Ctrl+F "Respect") and draws some darned accurate parallels.

Posted by Debbye at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

Conservatives Unite

Dec. 7 - I'm going into work early today, so only have time for the top stories.

Delegates for the Progressive Conservative Party voted overwhelmingly for union with the Canadian Alliance and a united right party is born (A happy union.) Despite the rhetoric, I suspect most Canadian conservatives (small c) are more interested in a party that reflects Alliance views than those of the Red Tories, and it is my hope that the Alliance will remain the dominant partner in this effort. Here's a little history about the two parties, and Sir John A. MacDonald, founder of the original party.

Posted by Debbye at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2003

Iraqis demonstrate against terrorism

Dec. 6 - Yesterday, about 1,000 Iraqis marched in salute to U.S. and to denounce terrorist attacks. Marchers included children orphaned by the war.

"We organized this demonstration because the terrorists now kill a lot of people," said Abdul Aziz Al-Yassiri, coordinator of the Iraqi Democratic Trend, a recently formed social group.

"They kill the children, kill women, kill the people, kill the police. They want to stop our plan for a democratic system."
Def. Secy. Rumsfeld was also in Iraq early Saturday. He visited the city of Tikrit saying that he wanted to gauge for himself the progress on the ground.

Posted by Debbye at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

Comments added to site

Dec. 6 - Harvey persuaded me to take the plunge and add comments.

It was easier than I expected. HaloScan directions make sense.

#1 son brought over Clerks - Unedited, a cartoon version by Kevin Smith. Too funny.

Posted by Debbye at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

Musing

Dec. 6 - Jay Currie has some insight into the case in the UK in which an officer was sacked because he was overheard making some insensitive remarks about Osama bin Laden (see post "Indeed") and the possible implications:

My sense is that quite the opposite is true. The outrages of the Islamofascists, the idiocy of the Eurocrats, is beginning to tweak the political backbone of England: the Muggles who were initially impressed with the liberality of muli-cult but have begun to suspect that there is something just a little off with stories like this. And when Primrose Lane wakes up....watch out.
I sense that's beginning to happen in Canada too.

Where would the Canadian blogosphere be without Jay? He continually supports and encourages new bloggers here, there and everywhere and joins Steven den Beste and others to encourage people to make Belmont Club a regular read (check Jay's post "Centcom - Fighting to Win.")

Steven den Beste has a good post about the defense of Taiwan. Giving up people who love freedom in both Taiwan and Hong Kong is something I and other Americans are not willing to live with, and I too think the Chinese government knows that now.

Another analyst I would add to my list is American Digest. His recent posts lead to to guess that like me, he too is old enough to actually remember the Kennedy assassination and cuts to the heart of how the "Hate Bush" could lead to an act that would transcend the murder of a President.

I go further than Gerard, and urgently ask if the lefties and Eminem understand that many Americans would blame them directly? Do they realize that such an act would give rise, not to demoralisation but rather to an anger that thus far has been on a tight leash?

The government protects them from us no matter which us or them you are. The explosive anger that accompanied Sept. 11 was contained primarily by the strength of character and iron will of President Bush. I know what was in my heart Sept. 11 and all the way through to the President's address to the Joint Houses of Congress, and I know that, although they don't realize it, millions of people have good cause to get down on their knees and thank their Creator for the focus and restraint of President George W. Bush.

You don't have to like him or love him. He is the American President until the people say otherwise, and any attempt to bypass the electoral system will have consequences that few understand. Anyone who thinks it will be "problem solved" doesn't know us.

Rant over. I'm off to work, so take care and I'll check in tonight.

Posted by Debbye at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Toronto Affairs

Dec. 6 - Since our City Council (aka Havana Hall) thinks it wiser to protect the lakeshore for condominium developers than address issues like garbage disposal and safety in the streets, I suspect it will be up to Congress and the Dept. for Homeland Security to force our city to accept their responsibilities.

A recent post from Interested-Participant is part of a cross-border attempt to keep the issue of transporting Toronto's garbage to Michigan at the forefront. Maybe someone from London (Ont.) would like to jump in? I've read enough complaints from people along the 401 corridor to suspect that they too take issue with the daily truckloads of garbage that pass them.

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

New Blog Showcase

Dec. 5 - Time to vote The Truth Laid Bear: The New Weblog Showcase. By the way, for those who don't know what I'm talking about, follow the link and check out some of the entries from new bloggers. Anyone can vote, you just put up a post like this one with the same title and link to the article (not the blog) and your vote will be counted that midnight. Voting closes midnight Sunday, and it's a good way to encourage new bloggers.

First is for Dangerous Liberty and Al Franken on Book TV. Most of what I garner about both Franken and O'Reilly is from the internet because Fox isn't legally available up here but the links and the commentary are impressive. How important is this spitting contest? Probably not history book worthy, but I think dangerous liberty knows the basics of fact-checking which puts him way ahead of Franken.

After I read Right Behind Me I clicked "Main" and found myself reading the entire blog. I have no idea what dogtulosba, ink is supposed to mean, but Chad is both funny and no-nonesense. How can you not love a guy who acknowledges the Army-Navy game (Go Army!) and uses his camera to capture the priceless factor?

Time to 'fess up. I too liked John Denver's ability to inspire happiness. Love the description of the bus trip. Besides, Provincial Postings not only loves dogs but appreciates them too. Good stuff.

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 AM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2003

Iraqis demonstrate against terrorism

Dec. 5 - Alpha Patriot has a piece on Iraqis taking to the streets of Baghdad and chanting "Yes to Iraq, no to terrorism" on 2 separate occasions. I don't remember seeing footage of this on CNN.

Between the demonstrations in Turkey after the synagogue attacks and the recent demonstrations in Iraq, things are slowly shifting in this War on Terror.

We all know that Dr. Pipes spoke the simple truth when he said that the solution lay with moderate Muslims, and the establishment in Iraq of a 1000 Member Anti-terror Militia (reported by Boots on the Ground) is another instance of asserting our faith in the ability of the people of that country to run their own affairs.

Is it risky? Of course. Will there be mistakes and missteps? Of course. It's a part of life, and they, as does everyone, will learn from their mistakes and do better.

Baldilocks reports that we are already engaged in that kind of analysis using After Action reports by US personnel returning from Iraq.

Sometimes we learn from success, but the British Tories seem to be merging three successes for The Blue Revolution: from Ontario they've taken a name made popular by former Ont. Premier Mike Harris, Common Sense Revolution, from Australia, they are presenting the key aspects of the campaign in clear, simple language, and, from the US Republicans, are adopting a strategy of the 1994 mid-term elections, "Contract with America" pledges.

But then, some people never learn. Like me. I'm all excited to find a recent post at Ejectx3 and followed Bill Whittle's suggestion (see last paragraph for instructions) and went here and now I'm hooked. This experiment could go on forever.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (1)

Scam at the Grammies

Dec. 5 - No, I really don't give a hoot about the Grammies, but there's weird stuff happening with them.

It all started innocently with this article in the Toronto Sun: Several Canadian artists get nominated, but not Celine Dion. So far, so good.

Dustbury reports on some scammy at the Grammys, and invokes Milli Vanilli.

The one that needed some digestive biscuits was this from Colorado Conservative who reports that Bill and Hillary Clinton are each nominated for Grammys.

Bill gets a nomination for his wolf-friendly version of Peter and the Wolf. The weird part is that the Duck clearly represents the kind of victim Democrats usually love: too damned stupid to stay in the pond, it leaves and tries to out-waddle the Wolf and is gobbled up. I could see defending the Wolf because it acted soley according to its nature, but I didn't know deforestation was a big problem in Prokofiev's time. Most wolves try to avoid humans (and our guns) so I would have to support shooting the Wolf as he was endangering the farm critters. Bill's from Arkansas, and should know better.

But at least Peter and the Wolf contains music.

But Hillary? She received the nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for her autobiography Living History.

And I wouldn't be surprised if they win.

Posted by Debbye at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

Montreal matters

Dec. 5 - Hooray! Paul is back and reminding us that Montreal can match Toronto any day in a one on one for freaking unbelievable stuff although no one matches him when it comes to laying down a good fisking.

Why didn't the National Post just name the damned union? (I'm fairly certain its name isn't the blue-collar union.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Bremer predicts attacks will increase, war crimes tribunal to be established in Iraq

Dec. 5 - Bremer predicts an increase in attacks in Iraq as a result of handing more authority over to the Iraq Governing Council.

We all know the drill: even though this item is on CNN's webpage, they will have total amnesia when and if attacks increase.

What's curious is this:

On Friday, a coalition official said the Governing Council is closer to forming a war crimes tribunal that would bring Saddam Hussein and others in his regime to justice, a coalition official said Friday.
I say curious because this is an extremely important development yet CNN, the most trusted name in news, proceeds immediately after that statement to reporting death and mayhem.

At least this news media outlet in Australia gets the full import of the tribunals in this article: War crimes tribunal for Iraq.

IRAQ'S US-appointed government will establish a tribunal for crimes against humanity in the coming days that could try hundreds of officials, including Saddam Hussein and his top aides, Iraqi and American officials said overnight.

Some human rights groups criticised the plans, saying Iraq's US occupiers have too much of a hand in them and that Iraqi judges and prosecutors may not have the experience needed to try the cases.

The law creating the tribunal - which could be passed as early as today - will be similar to proposals made in Washington in April, one member of Iraq's Governing Council said. The law calls for Iraqi judges to hear cases presented by Iraqi lawyers, with international experts serving only as advisers.

That would be starkly different from UN-sponsored tribunals set up to consider war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. In those cases, international judges and lawyers have argued and decided cases.

Governing Council member Mahmoud Othman said the tribunal would hear hundreds of cases involving members of the former regime.

Read the whole thing.

The international human rights agencies who were so indifferent to the human rights abuses in Iraq that they preferred to support Saddam's regime rather than the US-led coaltion that removed him are indignant that they are left out! They don't think the Iraqis and court system there are capable of prosecuting the thugs and gangsters who have tortured, abused and murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, but truly, who meets any measure of impartiality? It can be argued equally that those who sought to bring down the regime are biased and as well as those who tried to protect the regime.

The fact that those who claim status as human rights organizations chose to stand by their hatred of the US instead of trying to end the suffering of the Iraqi people told the Iraqis everything they need to know about those hypocrites. Why on earth would anyone give credence to them now? They had a chance to make the hard call and, even if it meant holding their noses, support the US. Instead they chose Saddam.

Why on earth would they expect the people of Iraq to trust them, much less respect them? Amazing.

The fact that the UN allowed the travesty of the Oil-for-Palaces program go unchallenged didn't win respect but in fact diminished what little remained. They aren't in a credible position to talk about international law either since they were actively violating their own rules for a 2.2% cut of the take.

Whereas it is certainly true that the justice system in Iraq had and continues to have a lot of problems, it is essential to Iraq's future that it be restored. In response to documented problems in Iraqi courts today,

... Sandra Hodgkinson, director of the coalition authority's human rights and justice office, said she believed an Iraqi court system - with some training from international experts - will work.

"Iraqis want it that way, and they're capable of doing it that way," she said. "There is no need to have an international tribunal when the local population is willing and able to do it."

Adnan Jabbar al-Saadi, a lawyer with the new Iraqi Human Rights Ministry who said he expected to argue some of the tribunal cases, agreed.

"I think it's very important for people to see the criminals who killed their families in court," he said. "The United Nations asked us if they should give money to people so they would feel better, and I told them nothing will make them feel better except seeing the responsible criminals in prison."

That last paragraph says it all. I think the Iraqis understand justice just fine. It's the UN that needs re-education, and the self-important human rights organizations too. Somewhere along the way they traded in their humanity for smugness and bureaucracy, and the oppressed peoples of the world need new champions. The old ones just aren't up to the job.

Posted by Debbye at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

Chretien on Africa

Dec. 5 - Doesn't it just figure that in his final days as Canada's Prime Minister, Jean Chretien would not only make sense but fail to blame the West for all the ills of the world?

The PM, attending his last Commonwealth leaders meeting [in Nigeria], said African nations have to help themselves.

He said nervousness would disappear when they can assure business they have "an honest system of justice, that the decisions of the courts will be implemented, that human rights will be protected, and that elections will be fair."

He also told his audience they must "stop this bloody conflict that you have too often in some parts of Africa" and restore political stability.

"There's nothing more nervous than a million dollars," the outgoing PM lectured. "It does not speak French, it does not speak English, it does not speak German and it moves very fast."

Normally I would point that that Chretien's personal fortune is several million dollars, he too doesn't speak any of those languages and his speed is subject to personal whimsy, but my mind is boggled at this truly frightening prospect: Is it possible that he's always been lucid?

Posted by Debbye at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

Counterfeit cigarettes seized

Dec. 5 - No, really, police seized $2.6-million cartons of counterfeit cigarettes in a warehouse raid yesterday in Toronto (Smoke stash seized)

A Canadian tobacco company warns that the seizure of $2.6-million in counterfeit cigarettes is just a puff of things to come. Police from the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said yesterday they uncovered 43,000 cartons of cigarettes, ecstasy and fake high-end clothing in a Markham Rd. and Sheppard Ave.-area warehouse after receiving a tip.

The cartons were shipped from China and packaged to pass for legitimate Canadian brand cigarettes.

There's actually a warning at the end of the article by Imperial Tobacco Canada's head of public affairs Yves-Thomas Dorval that the counterfeit cigarettes are not subject to quality control.

It was a given that smokers would look for and purchase black market cigarettes just as soon as the new provincial govenment promised to increase taxes on cigarettes raising the price to $80.00/carton during the electoral campaign (they are phasing it in, so the first increase raised the price by $2.50/carton) but the RCMP didn't think the brisk black market that forced the NDP government in the early 90's to drop the tax increases would re-appear, claiming they were confident that security measures initiated after Sept. 11 would stop the trade.

So tell me why they are confident that they can stop and intercept power boats speeding back and forth across the Great Lakes when they can't even stop huge shipments from China?

It's called supply and demand; throw in the additional sweetness of sticking it to the tax-happy government and smokers will beat a path to your door.

Posted by Debbye at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Ontario Power Generation

Dec. 5 - Everyone in Toronto was acutely aware that restoring service at the Pickering facility was way behind schedule last summer during the blackout. Most people in Canada are appalled at the salary and perk excesses of patronage appointees, and the following links goes to indicate that it's a tri-partisan problem.

Starting with the news item that's aimed at the Tories' use of political patronage appointments, Electrocuted:

A new report exposing billions in cost overruns and up to seven years in delays to restart four Pickering nuclear units prompted Energy Minister Dwight Duncan to show Ontario Power Generation's three top bosses the door yesterday. "It's a horrible mess, but I can't sit here and whine about what's gone on in the past," said Duncan, adding the project is still costing taxpayers $25 million a month. (Emphasis added)

The public power company's chairman, Bill Farlinger, CEO Ron Osborne and COO Graham Brown, all appointees by the former Tory government, resigned upon request yesterday. Severance terms were not released.

Which is not to say that Toronto media don't have their share of unnamed sources:
Ontario Power Generation [OPG] brass who resigned yesterday following a highly critical nuclear report won't walk away empty-handed. According to OPG annual reports, the departing executives have collected millions of dollars in salary and bonuses over the last few years.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan suggested that government lawyers would be reviewing those bonuses in light of the Pickering nuclear report's damning revelations.

Review is good, but avoiding arbitration should the Energy Minister tries to take back the bonuses will be probably deemed cheaper. That's not snark, that's reality.

So, am I the only one thinking about Eleanor Clitheroe and friends today?

During Clitheroe's tenure, no bookkeeper, accountant, civil servant or administrative chief at Hydro One ever noticed that the same employee costing us $330,000 in limousine rides was taking some $214,000 in car allowances. If any of them did notice, they kept mum. During the entire Clitheroe reign, there were no enterprising reporters ringing alarm bells.

Indeed, now that's [sic] she's persona non gratis, it's easy to forget that all of the money spent by Eleanor Clitheroe was approved.

Read the whole thing because my allusion to friends was not in reference to Clitheroe's friends.

Patronage appointments are a booming industry up here, and employed by all the parties (the Bloc Quebecois and Canadian Alliance are exempted thus far because they haven't held federal or provincial power -- yet.)

Toronto Sun columnist Christina Blizzard recaps the mess and notes that

In the past, both the Ontario Hydro and OPG boards were thin on engineering expertise and thick with political appointees.

[Former Fed. Energy Minister and provincial Tory appointed to investigate problems at Pickering Jake] Epp recommended that the government "Review the composition of the OPG board of directors and ensure that there is appropriate expertise to provide a greater focus on effective utility operations."

The article also states that the current provincial Energy Minister, Dwight Duncan, intends to take the politics out of the OPG, a fairly routine response but never implemented.

If it sounds familiar to Americans, that's because the same problems and attempts to reform the civil service has been a long and contentious struggle in our own history. Everyone knows it's a form of corruption, but political parties have been slow to risk confronting and ending it.

Theodore Roosevelt described a NY assemblyman as having "the same idea about Public Life and the Civil Service that a vulture has of a dead sheep."

The 1881 assassination of Pres. Garfield by a frustrated patronage-appointment seeker shocked the nation, and, although the Pendleton Act was passed in 1883, it took several years and changes to the Act before the civil service actually operated under a merit system and the process is still far from complete.

All out-of-power Canadian political parties insert civil service reforms and some means to enforce ethics in Parliament in their platforms, but actually implementing change remains elusive. The only real constant has been the mud-slinging and accusations which enliven Question Period but achieve nothing.

Posted by Debbye at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

Canadians in Afghanistan

Dec. 5 - War On Terrorism - Kids boost morale of Canadian soldiers which indicates that truly, the children shall lead the way:

KABUL (CP) - "Dear Peacekeeper: Please Don't Die."

Simple messages of hope such as this can be found in holiday greetings from young children in Canada that are reaching appreciative Canadian Forces soldiers in Afghanistan. Thousands of Christmas cards, letters and coloured-in posters have been delivered to the troops in Kabul, with hundreds more streaming in every day.

"I got at least 40," a smiling Sapper Paul Zuwerkalow of Barrie, Ont., said Thursday.

[...]

Messages have also come from Girl Guide troops, family members and business people, offering wishes that the soldiers come home "safe, happy and uninjured."

While many letters and cards are addressed to specific soldiers, thousands simply read "Dear Peacekeeper."

Seeming governmental indifference to Canadian troops is not matched by how Canadians feel, and the failure to fund the military has resulted in more respect for the troops and their steadfast adherence to duty as well as their adaptive ability to jerry-rig (remember how they painted their blankets to provide desert camo on the first Afghanistan deployment?)

I don't have numbers, but I saw many messages from Canadians posted at the
"Operation Dear Abby" website at the beginning of the Iraq war.

How about a bit of reciprocation, people? Anyone and everyone can send their good wishes to Canadian soldiers here.

God bless and protect they who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

Train blast in Russia kills 37

Dec. 5 - I was stunned twice this morning, first when I turned on CNN while the computer groaned to life then checked their web page for more information and found Russian 'suicide blast' kills 37 (why enclose suicide blast in quotation marks?) and second when I check my referrals and found that USS Clueless had mentioned my blog. What can I say except Thank You? I'm still stunned.

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

Precision Guided Humour

Dec. 4 - This week's Precision Guided Humor Assignment was to come up with definitions for The Liberal Dictionary (Canadian alert: small l liberals.)

Anti-American: Righteous victim or one who supports the rightful claims of righteous victims
Appeasement: Consulting the international community
Canadian Alliance: The Official Opposition in Canada, but isn't based in Ontario or Quebec and thus irrelevant.
CBC: Canadians think of it as the home of Hockey Night in Canada and Coaches Corner. It isn't necessary for Canadians to watch, like or agree with CBC news and commentary since it's government funded.
CBC Radio: Anti-capitalism radio station funded by government.
CBC Radio-French: Anti-capitalism French radio station funded by government. Since most Anglophones don't know French, classic music lovers listen to it so they can enjoy the excellent non-lingual music without being indoctrinated by the commentary, so the Canadian government is redoubling it's efforts to force get people to learn French.
Censorship: Invoke when necessary to promote progressive views; denounce when people ignore progressive views
CNN: Anti-capitalism news agency owned by a capitalist
conservative: Backward greedy Philistine [Ant. liberal]
Conservative: A member of the same party as no one in Canada as it hasn't been formed yet
Diversity: Building a power base
Europe: The coolest fraternity on campus
Fox News: Pro-capitalism news agency owned by a captitalist
Fundamentalists: Deluded fools who actually believe in religion [Urgent: Exhibit sensitivity for religion around Muslims, as they are still too backward to have reached our level of enlightenment.]
Haliburton: Beautiful forested cottage country with excellent fishing; N of Toronto
Halliburton: Oil cartel with dark, secret agenda and insatiable oil lust
Jingoism: Mental defict which causes those afflicted to support their country's right to wage war as a last resort to defend their interests
Lie/Liar: Useful accusation which rarely causes journalists to do fact-checking
liberal: Enlightened compassionate visionary [ant. conservative]
Liberal: A member of the same party as the Prime Minister who reigns in Canada
Libertarian: Dangerous faction that really hates unnecessary regulation
Mainstream: Dangerous element of society
Oil: [see: ooooilll!!!!!!!]
Patriotism: Vulgar display of affection for imperialist country
Progressive Conservative: A Canadian party which is rapidly becoming extinct. Once led by Joe Clark, a liberal who refuses to join the Liberal Party.
Quagmire: Swamp, bog, fen. Usage includes demoralizing citizens and soldiers, gets respect in Old Europe and Toronto Star.
Taxation: Mmm, taxes . . .
Tolerance: We state our views. They agree.
U.N.: Active international body entrusted to ensure respect for human rights and dignity, stop genocide, and maintain peace
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: A useful accusation to levy which requires no proof or evidence. Most effective when said in a lowered voice.
Weapons of Mass Destruction: Fox News, fundamentalists, jingoism, patriotism, vast right wing conspiracies, SUVs, Big Macs, and Ann Coulter.

UPDATE: Oops, forgot to be bilingual and have inadequate percentage of CanCon. Added CBC-French Radio and CBC proper.

SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS!

I'm late finishing this one, but the bonus is I get to link to people who are actually witty! (If the link is suffering from blogspotted fever, hit Ctrl+F and type in keyword.)

Marc of Idiot Villager
Silverblue of Ramblings of SilverBlue
Roxette of Hoppings of Roxette Bunny
Physics Geek of physicsgeek (Use search for "assignment")
Nick of The Conservative Cajun (Use search for "homework.")
CD of Semi-Intelligent Thoughts
Don of Anger Management
Harvey of Bad Money

Posted by Debbye at 12:02 AM | Comments (1)

December 04, 2003

Tony Blankley

Dec. 4 - Tony Blankley has some fun at the expense of the French and the strike by French diplomats purporting to protest the lack of paper: A diplomatic strike which he describes as the AFL-CIO meets Monty Python.

But beyond the matter of their professional utility, it is odd that a profession whose raison d'etre is talk, not action, would snap quickly into action on its own behalf. Why didn't they negotiate, using all their vaunted diplomatic skills?
Why indeed?

Posted by Debbye at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

EU Constitution

Dec. 4 - Good op-ed in the Washington Times about those expressing concerns about the EU Constitution (Sovereignty alive in Europe).

The money quote is from Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic:

"We could see the scaffolding of a nation-state that would retain a president and similar institutions, but with virtually zero influence ... That's my forecast. And it's not a reassuring vision of the future ... The enemies of free societies today are those who want to burden us down again with layer upon layer of regulations ... We had that in communist times. But now if you look at all the new rules and regulations of EU membership, layered bureaucracy is staging a comeback."
And what happens when unaccountable bureaucrats run the show?
The EU administrative record has been so dismal that calls for sovereignty have grown more urgent. As Mr. de Borchgrave noted in his article, EU auditors recently released a report that found "systematic problems, over-estimations, faulty transactions, significant errors and other shortcomings" in the EU budget. The auditors could vouch for only 10 percent of the $120 billion that the bloc spent in 2002.
No, this isn't about the Liberal Party rule in Canada. Honest.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

Since Bush declared an end to major combat ...

Dec. 4 - From FrontPage Magazine, a list of things accomplished in Iraq Since Bush declared an end to major combat in May.

Good companion reading is this Ann Coulter item Here's a Traitor! which contains this much-quoted paragraph:

Interestingly, we started to lose this war only after the embedded reporters pulled out. Back when we got the news directly from Iraq, there was victory and optimism. Now that the news is filtered through the mainstream media here in America, all we hear is death and destruction and quagmire -- along with obsessive references to the date on which Bush declared an end to major combat operations.
Classic Coulter.

Posted by Debbye at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

Mike the Marine

Dec. 4 - There's some good news for everyone who's ever read (and admired) Mike The Marine's comments on other blogs: he's finally begun a blog of his own From the Halls to the Shores.

Thanks, Harvey, for spreading the word.

Posted by Debbye at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

Australia to join missile shield

Dec. 4 - Australia to join missile shield which displeases the Chinese.

Beijing, in particular, fears the U.S. system is designed to negate the effectiveness of China's somewhat modest nuclear arsenal and will be used to shield Taiwan and embolden pro-independence forces there.

China argues the system will undermine the global strategic balance, which could lead to a new arms race.

North Korea. Iran. What kind of dissembling are the Chinese engaged in? We are already in the midst of a new arms race!

And as for shielding Taiwan, Good stuff!

Posted by Debbye at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

Calling fascists fascists

Dec. 4 - I'm a little late posting this link because I've grappled with it for a couple of days. Roger L. Simon is initiating NEW TERMINOLOGY on his blog by proposing that things be called by their proper names. Thus, those who supported Saddam and similar fascist governments as well as those who strive to protect them and maintain the status quo should be called pro-fascists. That new terminology will include self-professed communists and the UN. Since reality indsiputably bears out the connection, they might protest (heh) but can't defend themselves through honest debate.

Further, that means people (like me) should be called anti-fascists.

The problem, of course, would be one of re-education. In today's minds, fascism is identified solely with Nazism complete with genocide, concentration camps and goose-stepping (not superficially unreasonable, but nevertheless inadequate) and overlooks how fascism played out in Italy, Spain and Portugual and, most recently, in Iraq and today in Syria.

The difference lies between those of us who were taught about fascism as both an economic and social construct and those who haven't been taught so much as indoctrinated.

If that last comment seems overly harsh, remember that, in education today, children and young adults are not usually taught along lines of this is only one way of interpreting events and there are other ways as well. I don't call such limited exposure to the vast world of ideas education.

Fascism is seen as the right-wing alternative to communism, whereas anyone who understands anything about Marxism would first ask "who owns the means of production?" before drawing conclusions.

The words "planned economy" should be the first clue: the opposite of communism is capitalism, not fascism.

The wonderful upside would be the storm it would generate as those who actively support Islamofascism would have to defend their positions, which would expose their views as mere "whatever the US is for, we're against" regardless of the butchers they end up sleeping with.

As always, the incredible commenters engage in a lively discussion and the whole thing is a must read.

UPDATE: An excellent post by Anticipatory Retaliation who is following a similar train of thought (if blogspotted, use the search function for "cannibalization.")

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

History of Iraq and Shi'ites

Dec. 4 - Another thoughtful column by Salim Mansur What the US should have known about Iraq in which he discusses what he calls The most appalling events of early Muslim history took place in the area demarcated as modern Iraq.

Mansur begins with a statement I find hopeful:

The Koran, Islam's sacred text, is categorical about individual responsibility in all matters of life.

The most widely cited Koranic verse reads, "Verily God does not change the state of a people till they change themselves."

As a corollary to this verse is Muhammad's instruction to engage in life's greatest "jihad," meaning struggle or effort, of conquering the falsehood of self.

And by so doing, to unmask the true nature of compassion and wisdom with which every soul is born.

He goes on to describe a power struggle between Mohammad's family and immediate followers after the Prophet's death and notes how it has shaped the Iraqi people.

As Mr. Mansur notes, it won't imperil the US effort to liberate Iraq, but it would place some of the ongoing difficulties in perspective as well as give some valuable insight into how Shiite Iraqis believe they carry a special burden of guilt and grief.

The political correctness of our time stifles discussing human failings in the context of the general character of an individual, or a people. It thereby denies a fuller understanding of history as an unfolding drama of individuals and peoples often caught in conflicts largely of their own making.
I certainly can't argue with that, but like many aspects of today's Political Correctness, this aspect too is a deformation of a truism: we should exert some caution before judging other cultures but must study them taking into account both the good and the bad.

I find it too tempting to make comparisons with and, inevitably, draw conclusions with the schisms that have taken place in Christianity, but I resist because it is likely a superficial comparison and thus hasty.

They say great minds think alike, because in today's NY Times Thomas Friedman's column is God and Man in Baghdad which too looks at how Iraq's efforts to create a constitutional government is taking Islmaic identify into account yet not willing to follow Iran's path to an Ayotollocracy (in large part because many of the Shi'ite leaders lived in Iran during Saddam's reign and know the drawbacks only too well.)

"What we are witnessing," explains Yitzhak Nakash, the Brandeis University professor who is the author of "The Shi'is of Iraq," "is a very healthy bargaining session over what will be the relationship between religion and politics in Iraq and over the process of choosing legitimate national and communal leaders. It is very important that the Americans show respect for the views of Sistani -- whose tacit support for the U.S. presence in Iraq has been enormously important -- and let Sistani and the other Iraqi political forces thrash this out on their own."
It is this very American optimism that the people of Iraq can and must thrash this out on their own that defines us as Americans even if it puts us at odds with the social democracies of the world who manifestly do not trust people to be capable of resolving their own internal conflicts given a free forum for political expression and debate. And it's that last part that will require the utmost resolve and committment by the people of Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2003

The deaths of Spanish intelligence agents

Dec. 3 - Suspicions are growing that the terrorists who killed seven Spanish intelligence agents in Iraq were likely tipped off by Iraqi contacts who were working with the agents.

The funeral yesterday of the seven fallen men was televised in Spain, and Paul has posted a picture of the seven flag-draped coffins.

Maybe some of you would like to go there to pay your respects by proxy. These men were our allies, and Spain has been a strong coalition partner.

Posted by Debbye at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

Puppy blender back in Canada

Dec. 3 - I lied told you Puppy Stuffer was putting some variety in his menu! From the Toronto Sun: Letter of the Day (I'm posting the whole thing because of the merciless brief link life):

YOU MAY find this letter strange, and perhaps more than a little disturbing.

I was travelling north on Walker's Line in a remote area of North Burlington last night. In the daylight, this area is beautiful beyond description - but at night it becomes a dark hollow.

Sometimes, the mind plays tricks on the eye and you catch a strange glimpse of light or perhaps the reflection of the eyes of a racoon or skunk.

Last night, however, was different. My car's headlights shone into the darkness of a farmer's field and what I saw shook me to the bone. It was something with glaring, red eyes and a look of sheer evil. It was like a small dinosaur, or an alligator walking on two legs, if you will.

I wanted to just keep driving, but I was drawn to it. I couldn't help myself. I stopped the car and watched as this creature ran at a speed I could barely comprehend. Then, in the distant sky, a tiny light grew larger and larger until I saw it. You will think me crazy, but it was an alien vessel - and this creature was running right to it.

I got out of my car and ran toward the light - drawn by some unseen power. Though the creature was frightening, I felt an inner feeling of hope.

When I arrived at the scene, all my hope disappeared as the creature turned and glared at me - and I saw, without a word of a lie, a kitten in each hand. The creature laughed and then both he and the ship disappeared.

If anyone else has seen this evil, reptilian kitten-eater from another planet, please write to the Sun so I won't feel alone in my insanity. Yes, I admit it ... I voted Liberal.

Ryan McMenamie
Burlington

(Letter of the Day? Hell, Letter of the YEAR)

Now do you know I'm lying believe me?

INSTAPUNDO DELENDA EST!

Posted by Debbye at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

Trust me: Russia won't ratify Kyoto

Dec. 3 - I don't know which is funnier: Chretien's faith that Russia will endorse Kyoto even if it means putting a death-lock on it's future economic growth, or that Putin's economic adviser couldn't resist the old stand-by of blaming competition from the USA for his decision, or that Canada is still willing to handicap its economy to please Old Europe even though they can't even meet their targets, or that even though the Fed. government still doesn't have a plan, PM-elect Martin says he is for total implementation of it.

On the not-ready-yet-plan, do the math from the first link: I figure there's a whopping 25% decrease to work out.

It's estimated that Canada must cut 240 megatonnes from its projected emissions by 2010 to meet Kyoto obligations. A federal plan released last fall provided cuts of 180 megatonnes, leaving a 60-megatonne gap.

John Bennett of the Sierra Club said environmentalists have many ideas on how to close the gap.

I'll hazard a guess that wearing warm, fur coats and using wood-burning stoves isn't one of them but bicycling in mid-winter is.

More importantly, pray for no more forest fires while you desist from clearing the dead brush away from your home because those emissions will also screw up Canada's quota figures.

Actually, fully meeting Kyoto targets isn't necessary. All Canada has to do is purchase "credits" from specified nations and pretend that the money goes to actually develop conditions for the people in that country rather than end up in the pockets of the corrupt elites that run those countries. And who will pay to purchase these credits? The Canadian tax payer, of course.

Rumour has it that when Herb Dhaliwal announced his departure from politics, he cried out "you can take my SUV keys from my cold dead hand."

Easy for him to talk; he hails from Vancouver. Here, where we have that white stuff called snow, cold dead hands are a by-product of waiting for a bus in December (we try really, really hard to avoid the dead feeling even though we admit to numbness and stiffness.)

What do I know about global warming? Less, probably, than paleontologists, geologists, and people who study tree rings, yet the data they put out indicates that global warming and colding trends took place long before the industrial revolution.

My guy has his own theory and blames global warming on those damned dinosaurs and their farting. That's his story and he's sticking with it. He says it just goes to prove that anyone can do junk science.

Mark Steyn, as always, has some on-target comments about Kyoto.

UPDATE: Guardian and Styen links via The Canukistanian.

Posted by Debbye at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian Forces near collapse

Dec. 3 - The situtation is hopeless, according to this: Canadian Forces near collapse, study says. (Fuller article here with brief link life.)

"The problem will rapidly disarm foreign policy as Canada repeatedly backs away from international commitments because it lacks adequate military forces," said the report, entitled "Canada Without Armed Forces?", released today.

It says the problems can't be solved overnight, because it takes years to purchase major weapons systems and years to train combat-ready soldiers, sailors and fliers.

After listing the shortages accumulated by years of neglect, the report concludes that:
"There is not much Canadians can do to save this situation, at least not in the term of the next government or even the government after that," the report says. "The descending slope is too steep and it will take too long to turn it upwards for tomorrow's government to benefit from altered policies."

The new government can only start the recovery, but the report says the recovery has to start now if there is to be any hope of restoring the military.

I wonder how self-serving this report is. Canada has promoted itself as a peacekeeping nation (as opposed to a peacemaking nation) for decades, and the reliance on soft diplomacy would seem appropriate for a country without a military.

Perhaps the economic architects of the Federal government have looked at the bleak forecast of social democracies in Old Europe and think they can avoid that trap by cutting unnecessary funding, and they see the military as the easiest thing to forgo.

Yet the hypocrisy is astounding. I've read Canadian bloggers and commentators aplenty -- including those who run the Toronto Star -- who insist that Canada's nearest neighbour, the USA, is a Dangerous Rogue Nation which must be stopped and GWB is the Biggest Threat to Peace ever, so of course it's logical that Canada has chosen to forgo military capability and rely on the Dangerous Rogue Nation to defend it.

I'm not being sarcastic: Canadians really do assume the USA will defend them against attack primarily because both countries know it would be in the best interests of the USA to do so, but every sensible Canadian must know that this reliance on the Big Bad USA for defence isn't going to inspire respect for Canadian views.

One thing is for sure: if Canada ever needs troops to stop Quebec or Alberta from separating, you'll get a faster response from the UN than from the US.

Another things I can guarantee is that no American soldier will be deployed to dig Toronto out of a snowstorm!

Paul is livid.

UPDATE: He warned you! Go Paul!

Posted by Debbye at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Love poems, Kangaroo jokes, and whimsy

Dec. 3 - Strong black coffee, a cigarette, and Love poems. It doesn't get much better (Ahem: note time.) A sample:

Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss
But I only slept with you, because I was pissed.
Then there are Kang A Roo jokes (no, not Klingon, fellow Trekkers):
First Kangaroo: Why did the dinosaur fall out of a palm tree?
Second Kangaroo: A hippopotamus pushed him out.
Mommy, what's a Retrosexual?
(Via Bad Money.)

This map is the penultimate blog tour.

Do all panda namers stutter?

George Orwell pioneered this in his book 1984, and Semi-Intelligent Thoughts has some additions.

Posted by Debbye at 07:28 AM | Comments (0)

Freedom

Dec. 3 - Serendipity is one of my favourite phenomena [the discovery renders the search irrelevant] and the following links are cases in point.

A draft letter quoted in the post made my morning because it draws some very fine connections, starting with how literacy and freedom of the press (or, conversely, illiteracy and suppression of press freedoms) go hand in hand:

These two causes are intimately connected, and the root cause is the abscence of freedom, for no free people allows itself to be illiterate. Many nations where illiteracy is present, however, deny their citizens the right to read what they choose. Literacy is useless without freedom of the press. (Emphasis added)
It also states why we proud to stand in the company of those nations which supported the Iraq war:
In short, we fight because a world where men refuse to fight for freedom is not a world worth living in.
I tend to get distracted from the principles of this struggle by the mud-slinging propagands from those who support the Status Quo in Unfree Nations and need a bracer like that letter to remind me to hold dearly those things in which I believe because they are my foundation.

A staple of liberal philosophy used to be that if all men and women are not free, none of us is free. Today we are actually debating the value of those freedoms -- of the mind, of the spirit, of the soul, and of the very human trait to be enterprising -- and if -- yes, if -- all men and women were entitled to those freedoms.

VRWC asks rhetorically

We stand at a crossroads in our history. Do we wish to pass this confrontation with evil off to our children or should we stand up the way America has always done and meet our foe head on and put it down in the ground until the next time evil knocks on our door?
My sons are in a very dangerous age group: they are both soldier-age and prime targets for terrorists who bomb night clubs, cafes and rock concerts (Moscow). Do I want my kids to hope they can cover their heads or face today's challenges? (I'm not talking about enlistment only, but taking a stand philosophically and politically.) Did I teach them right from wrong?

Do Democrats believe in freedom of the press? It seems Howard Dean doesn't. Of course, I think what he really fears is The Simpsons. To me, the popularity of both that and the-not-Fox-show South Park indicate our young are rebelling against stifling Political Correctness.

Youthful rebellion, why does that sound so familiar? The difference today is that the opposition is doing the lying and the White House is telling the truth.

Natalie Maines and Sen. Clinton seem oblivious to the fact that Americans are indeed asking questions, but most Americans want to know why previous administrations didn't confront the terrorist threat years ago (note the plural.) I don't expect a Dixie Chick to have an answer, but I do expect a freaking Senator to have one. If I may ask an innocent question, Isn't that why you were elected?

Time to choose: lion or jackel? (Scroll down to "Some people are never satisfied" or use the search function for jackel.)

The fronts for this debate go beyond the Mid-east, and I stand with Leaning Towards the Dark Side on Taiwan. Another place that requires our strong support is Hong Kong.

>From serendipity to Serenity: a picture (or several) is worth a thousand words.

Some compare it to the Berlin Wall, more thoughtful people liken it to The Great Wall of China or Hadrian's Wall. Pardon My English sarcasticaly points out that

Because building a wall is, without question, the moral equivalent of blowing up civilians and small children.
If the Palestinians really are humiliated because they can't blow up Israeli civilians as easily, I say build it higher. Good fences make good neighbours.

Posted by Debbye at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2003

Hope and Despair

Dec. 2 - David Warren sure has a way with words. From Conscience:

We are, with rare exceptions, safe to expect the usual recitation of unexamined falsehoods in the service of fatuous conclusions. All the complexities of the world will be reduced, by Pavlovian repetition, to a hate-list of bogeymen and exploiters, as we teach another generation to blame the people we envy.
I was reminded of that essay again when I read this and this.

Reading the three together has given me both hope and despair.

Posted by Debbye at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

Dick Morris

Dec. 2 - Dick Morris of the NY Post believes Sen. Clinton's comments to the troops during her recent visit to Iraq indicated her motive was to raise objections rather than boost morale.

So much for supporting the troops.

(Link via Neale News.)

Blackfive explains Why Hillary is a Polarising Figure.

Posted by Debbye at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

Khadr

Dec. 2 - Report in the Toronto Sun in which Khadr says that in 1998, he attended an al Qaeda Terror boot camp, Camp Khaldan, which is one of several financed by Osama bin Laden. Its alumni include Ressam (the would-be millennium LA Airport bomber,) a Saudi who blew up a U.S. embassy, and two of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. But Khadr said it was traning for fighting for the Taliban, even though you need a special letter of recommendation to get in.

So is it a boot camp or a West Point?

More questions have been raised than answered, including whether Khadr attempted to contact Canadian embassy officials.

There's also this:

He said he paid smugglers thousands of dollars to be escorted to the various countries, before being given a travel document to return to Canada last weekend.
I seem to be asking where did the money come? from a lot lately.

UPDATE: Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail reports that at his press conference, Khadr looked smug, not traumatized. On the money question:

How, you may ask, does a penniless young man with no documents get across all those borders? No problem. "It's very easy if you have the money and you know the people," he explained. He had friends in Kabul who gave him money. Then he got himself smuggled. It costs $500 (U.S.) to be smuggled from Pakistan to Turkey.
UPDATE: CSIS intends to grill Khadr about his weapons training at an al Qaeda camp to determine is if he was there at the same time as Ahmed Ressam.

Posted by Debbye at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Donald Rumsfeld and Plain English

Dec. 2 - It appears that some people don't understand plain english, especially the folks at the Plain English Campaign who awarded US Def. Secy. Donald Rumsfeld this year's Foot in Mouth award for the most baffling statement by a public figure for what is one of my personal favourites:

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know," Rumsfeld said.

"We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

The Def. Secy. was responding to a reporter's question during a DoD briefing which required speculation (as most of them do) rather than sticking to the known facts.

I have to wonder what the Plain English folks would make of Yogi Berra.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was awarded second place for this quote:

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."
Guess the Society doesn't do humour, either.

On the other hand, who seriously claims that the Queen's English is spoken in America? As Prof. Higgins said, "There are places where English completely disappears! In America, they haven't spoken it for years."

UPDATE: Courtesy of one of Paul's commenters, is The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld.

Posted by Debbye at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

Clifford Krauss

Dec. 2 - Clifford Krauss write in today's NY Times that Canada's View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.

It seems Canada is closer to European sophistication than the US.

Bite me.

Posted by Debbye at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2003

Missile sales to Saddam by N. Korea

Dec. 1 - According to Toronto resident Imad Khadduri, Bomb experts lied to Saddam about their progress in constructing a nuclear bomb, but according to today's NY Times, Saddam was not interested in the progress of his scientists because he was more interested in purchasing Rodong missiles from North Korea:

For two years before the American invasion of Iraq, Mr. Hussein's sons, generals and front companies were engaged in lengthy negotiations with North Korea, according to computer files discovered by international inspectors and the accounts of Bush administration officials.

The officials now say they believe that those negotiations - mostly conducted in neighboring Syria, apparently with the knowledge of the Syrian government -were not merely to buy a few North Korean missiles.

Instead, the goal was to obtain a full production line to manufacture, under an Iraqi flag, the North Korean missile system, which would be capable of hitting American allies and bases around the region, according to the Bush administration officials.

As war with the United States approached, though, the Iraqi files show that Mr. Hussein discovered what American officials say they have known for nearly a decade now: that Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, is less than a fully reliable negotiating partner.

In return for a $10 million down payment, Mr. Hussein appears to have gotten nothing.

So where did he get the $10 million? And why are North Koreans starving to death when Dear Leader is making lucrative deals that he isn't even honouring?
The trail that investigators have uncovered, partly from reading computer hard drives found in Baghdad and partly from interviews with captured members of Mr. Hussein's inner circle, shows that a month before the American invasion, Iraqi officials traveled to Syria to demand that North Korea refund $1.9 million because it had failed to meet deadlines for delivering its first shipment of goods.

North Korea deflected the request, telling Mr. Hussein's representatives, in the words of one investigator, that "things were too hot" to begin delivering missile technology through Syria.

[...]

It also establishes that Syria was a major arms-trading bazaar for the Hussein government, in this case hiding an Iraqi effort to obtain missiles, they say. Investigators say Syria had probably offered its ports and territory as the surreptitious transit route for the North Korea-Iraq missile deal, although it remains unclear what demands the government in Damascus might have made in return. Further, according to United States government officials and international investigators, the Iraqi official who brokered the deal, Munir Awad, is now in Syria, apparently living under government protection.

If it served as a middleman in this deal, as the documents suggest, Syria was acting in violation of Security Council resolutions even as it served on the Council and voted with the United States on the most important resolution before the war.

Every time I think of US forces shutting down that illegal oil pipeline into Syria, I smile, but it isn't enough. Not by far.

Read the whole thing.

(Link via Instapundit.)

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

More on terrorist attack in Turkey

Dec. 1 - Syria turns over 22 bombing suspects to Turkish authorities yesterday. They had fled to Syria shortly after the four recent attacks in Istanbul.

A paramilitary police statement said the 22 people included Hilmi Tugluoglu, whom it said was linked to Azat Ekinci, a key suspect in the blasts.

News reports have named Ekinci as a key accomplice in the synagogue bombings, saying he used fake identities and cash to buy the pickup trucks containing the bombs.

The statement didn't elaborate about Tugluoglu's alleged involvement. It said Tugluoglu's wife was also brought to Turkey.

Syrians. Neither their allies nor their enemies know which side of the street they'll work in any given situation.

Posted by Debbye at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

Attackers hit dinar convoy

Dec. 1 - Attackers, several dressed as muhajadeen, ambushed 2 convoys in Samarra yesterday as they were delivering new Iraqi dinars to banks. No US soldiers were killed, although 5 were injured (one critically) and one civilian was hurt. Between 46-54 enemy were killed.

US officials are speculating that the New Iraqi currency is a lure for attacks because they need to pay off the bounties they've placed on the heads of coalition forces and personnel.

Fox reports that 8 enemies were captured and 18 injured and that 8 Iraqi civilians were killed.

Fox also reports that shortly after the firefight, 2 South Korean contractors were killed and another two wounded in a third ambush near Samarra. They were electricians building power lines for Seoul based Omu Electric Co.

Both the Japanese and South Korean governments have stated that the attacks will not deter them from supplying reconstruction efforts in Iraq. South Korea will be sending up to 3,000 troops to Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)