January 31, 2004

Cpl. Jamie Murphy

Jan. 31 - I've seen referrals to my site for people who wish to send messages of condolence to Cpl. Murphy's family. Although I don't have an actual link for them, here's the link for the Defence Communitty for the Canadian Forces and you can send messages to the soldiers in Afghanistan (Operation Athena) or the message board and express your sympathies and support there.

Never - never forget those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Dutch: Multiculturalism a 30-year failure

Jan. 31 - The publication of the Dutch report which concluded their race policy 'a 30-year failure' dates back to Jan. 20, but although I knew it was an important report, I also found it incredibly depressing so held onto the link until I could find some meaning in it.

I haven't found a bit of meaning, to tell the truth.

The events related in Peaktalk's post on the recent Dutch experience with a Columbine-like incident and it's startling aftermath in Deliberate and Distasteful Disrespect adds a layer if not meaning. Furthermore, his conclusion is definitely intriguing:

In a week where one of the main political parties acknowledged that integration policies had failed miserably, the murder of a teacher and the distasteful disrespect shown thereafter, illustrates that simple integration models don't work and that a complete pan-European effort is required to stem the tide of economic misery and senseless violence.
I can't help feeling he's right. Looking at the tabled EU Report on anti-Semitism and various problems with assimilation of Muslim immigrants one sees in different news online publications (and let's not overlook Chechnya) a pan-European approach may well be the best approach.

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 PM | Comments (1)

Loathing Microsoft

Jan. 31 - Bruce is issuing a call to arms (or at least pitchforks and torches) to fight the biggest eeevil of our times with a battlecry everyone can agree on: Loathing Microsoft.

Good old DOS. Why have you abandoned us?

Posted by Debbye at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

Dean starting saying weird things

Jan. 31 - David Brooks op-ed in the NY Times which is so sad it's funny or the other way around (depending on one's affiliation) Electing the Electable:

... And lo and behold, Dean started saying some weird things.

These weird things didn't really bother Democratic primary voters, but primary voters imagined they might bother general election swing voters. And since electability is all about Iowa and New Hampshire liberals trying to imagine what Palm Beach County, Fla., independents will want in a presidential candidate nine months from now, this created ripples of concern that Dean might not be so electable after all. The media picked up on the doubts, which created a downward unelectability spiral.


And, what do you know, Kerry won the Iowa caucuses, and from that moment on the election turned into a postmodernist literary critic's idea of heaven. It became an election about itself, with voters voting on the basis of who could win votes later on.

It's the tautology, stupid.

Wackiness ensues when the party of ideas becomes consumed with only one idea: Beat Bush. Even though this isn't a TV Guide description of this week's episode of Democrat Party Primaries, it well could be.

Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail column by Rex Murphy examines another facet of the single-mindedness of Bush-haters in Bush-haters, you're running out of esteem.

Posted by Debbye at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

Election Hijinks

Jan. 31 - And the #1 reason I didn't get the fuss over the "kitten-eating reptile from another planet" crack published during the recent provincial election campaign is:

... then there were the linguistic dirty tricks of the 1950 U.S. Senate race in Florida. George Smathers criticized his opponent, Claude Pepper, because Pepper's sister, according to Smathers, was a "thespian." Not only that, Smathers said, Pepper's brother was "a practicing Homo sapiens." Further, Smathers charged that Pepper himself had gone to college and openly "matriculated."

Smathers won the election.

More shocking election hijinks stories related by Eric Burns here.

Posted by Debbye at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

Mohammed Abdullah Warsame

Jan. 31 - Minneapolis court date set for Somali-Canadian charged with terror conspiracy. Mohammed Abdullah Warsame will appear in court on Monday, Feb. 2, in Minneapolis. He was indited by a grand jury with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda from March, 2000 until December 8 (presumably 2003). Warsame admitted attending an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during FBI interrogation Dec. 8, 2003.

Posted by Debbye at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

The case of Maher Arar

Jan. 31 - Good article that answers some questions as to how the public inquiry into the Maher Arar case would proceed as there are other tangential inquiries as well as a lawsuit pending.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci insisted in a recent speech that the US proceeded alone in its decision to deport Arar to Syria, but other questions have arisen, including an allegation that Canadian officials declined to take custody of Arar because they lacked evidence with which they could charge him for terrorist-related activities and, the big question, exactly what (or who) tipped US authorities that he was suspected for terrorist-related activities.

Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's home and office were raided by the RCMP in an effort to ascertain who provided her with documents regarding to what Arar disclosed to Syrian officials, and an inquiry has been called to investigate that action by the RCMP as well as a review of the Security of Information Act.

Arar has sued US Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and other officials for his deportation to Syria on the grounds that they knew he would be tortured. He has also filed suits against the governments of Jordan and Syria, and is considered filing suit against the Canadian government.

Arar holds dual citizen status with Syria and Canada. If what I have heard is correct, Syria does not allow its citizens to renounce their citizenship, so Arar doesn't have a choice in that matter.

However, early on this case (going back over a year) it was said by media reports that Arar holds a Syrian passport as well as a Canadian one, which I'm guessing would raise a red flag for national security officials.

Arar was arrested and deported to Syria via Jordan in 2002 back when Syria was viewed as an ally in the war on terror.

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

January 30, 2004

Changing Policy in America

Jan. 30 - Alpha Patriot has written an excellent essay, The Heart of Change, in which he in which he argues for Compassionate Conservatism and counsels patience for the slow nature of the change:

... the point is that change comes in baby steps. One does not change the direction of a large ship quickly -- it is incapable of making right turns. And so it goes for changing policy in America.

Posted by Debbye at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

The Star and Its Malcontents

Jan. 30 - Let It Bleed goes where others fear to tread: The Star and Its Malcontents. Who says Canadians can't fisk with the best of them?

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

The Council of Guardians lifts ban on some candidates

Jan. 30 - The Council of Guardians has reversed their ban of about 1/3 of the candidates for next month's elections, but it doubtful that they will budge further on the remaining 2/3 although appeals has been filed. Although there has also been an appeal to postpone the elections, that postponement would also have to be approved by the Council.

I'm getting an increasingly bad feeling about the upcoming elections. President Khatami and the reformists are unwilling to break with the Ayatollah Khameini, and although I can understand it, I fear it is going to kill them especially given the tactics of the Hezbollah enforcers that we saw during last summer's student demonstrations.

Posted by Debbye at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

Saddam's Oil Voucher Gifts

Jan. 30 - Stephen Green posts and has begun googling the Roll Call of Saddam's alleged pay roll from the list on the ABC news website (Saddam's Gifts.)

(To answer an earlier question, ABC states the list is composed of people who bought oil at a discounted price and then resold it to legitimate brokers or oil companies.)

What's important to me, not surprisingly, are the background of the 2 Americans on the list, so seeing the one googlable (ha!) name, Samir Vincent, was someone who has worked to get the sanctions lifted wasn't a surprise, but seeing his connection to Empower America was the last thing I would have expected.

This is the list provided by ABC:

The Companies of the Russian Communist Party: 137 million
The Companies of the Liberal Democratic Party: 79.8 million
The Russian Committee for Solidarity with Iraq: 6.5 million and 12.5 million (2 separate contracts)
Head of the Russian Presidential Cabinet: 90 million
The Russian Orthodox Church: 5 million

Charles Pasqua, former minister of interior: 12 million
Trafigura (Patrick Maugein), businessman: 25 million
Ibex: 47.2 million
Bernard Merimee, former French ambassador to the United Nations: 3 million
Michel Grimard, founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club: 17.1 million

Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister: 6 million

Zeynel Abidin Erdem: more than 27 million
Lotfy Doghan: more than 11 million

Megawati Sukarnoputri: 11 million

Ali Ballout, Lebanese journalist: 8.8 million

The Socialist Party: 22 million
Kostunica's Party: 6 million

Arthur Millholland, president and CEO of Oilexco: 9.5 million

Father Benjamin, a French Catholic priest who arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz: 4.5 million
Roberto Frimigoni: 24.5 million

United States
Samir Vincent: 7 million
Shakir Alkhalaji: 10.5 million

United Kingdom
George Galloway, member of Parliament: 19 million
Mujaheddin Khalq: 36.5 million

South Africa
Tokyo Saxwale: 4 million

Shaker bin Zaid: 6.5 million
The Jordanian Ministry of Energy: 5 million
Fawaz Zureikat: 6 million
Toujan Al Faisal, former member of Parliament: 3 million

The son of President Lahoud: 5.5 million

Khaled Abdel Nasser: 16.5 million
Emad Al Galda, businessman and Parliament member: 14 million

Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian Liberation Organization: 4 million
Abu Al Abbas: 11.5 million

Hamad bin Ali Al Thany: 14 million

Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem: 1 million

Foreign minister of Chad: 3 million

The October 8th Movement: 4.5 million

Myanmar (Burma)
The minister of the Forests of Myanmar: 5 million

The Social Democratic Party: 8.5 million
The Communist Party: 6 million
The Socialist Party: 2 million
The FTD oil company: 2 million

Does anyone else find this list depressing? There's always a part of me that wants to be wrong about how cynically corrupt some of these yahoos are.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: JunkYard Dog analyzes the ABC report and comes up with confirmation and more informtion about how the pay-offs worked.

UPDATE: M'kay, the Washington Times might be overstating here (charge of corruption against Chirac) but whatever will they say about this: Ex-French PM Alain Juppe guilty of corruption and more indepth from the NY Times here. Mitterand, d'Estaing . . . I guess it's that law that forbids charges being levied while the official is in office that proves how enlightened the Europeans are compared to us rubes.

Posted by Debbye at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

US Expels Saudi diplomats

Jan. 30 - One of the biggest undercurrents in the war on terror has been the uncertain role of the Saudis. There's been implicit criticism of the administration occasionally fed and/or muted by rumours, like this one: U.S. has quietly expelled dozens of Saudi diplomats:

The United States has ordered the expulsion of dozens of Saudi diplomats suspected of helping promulgate Al Qaida ideology, diplomatic sources said. The State Dept. has refused to either confirm or deny the action..

The State Department revoked the diplomatic credentials of the Saudi diplomats in Washington over the last month in an effort to crack down on Saudi efforts to promote Al Qaida interests in the United States.

The diplomatic sources said about 70 diplomats and embassy staffers were expelled in late 2003 and dozens of others were ordered to leave the United States by mid-February. Many of those expelled were said to have worked in the office of the Saudi defense attache.

Read the whole thing.

One thing I found interesting is a theory at the bottom of the article:

[On Thursday, a statement purportedly issued by Bin Laden said Al Qaida's strategy was to launch a major attack on the United States. The statement, which appeared on the Voice of Jihad website, said Al Qaida wants to provoke the United States to retaliate against Saudi Arabia.] (Original brackets.)
So are we being manipulated to attack the Saudis, or does the statement serve merely to provide Saudi plausible deniability?

(Via InstaNews. Heh.)

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

January 29, 2004

Vets against Kerry

Jan. 29 - John Kerry's Vietnam stance irks veterans.

Posted by Debbye at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

British and Canadian Parliaments

Jan. 29 - Andrew Coyne has an interesting post up about some of the differences between the British and Canadian Parliaments in The Mother of All Parliaments. Good reading, although I never thought anyone would find something that hockey players and MPs have in common. (Also mentions Winston Churchill, master political theatrician.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

Annan Slams Bush

Jan. 29 - Annan Slams Bush for Reliance on U.N. Inspectors:

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today slammed the Bush administration for its reliance upon a decade of intelligence gathered in Iraq by United Nations weapons inspectors.

Mr. Annan's critique came after David Kay, the outgoing chief of the Iraq Survey Group, told a Senate panel that U.S. intelligence agencies had become dependent upon the U.N. weapons inspectors and didn't develop their own sources. This resulted in faulty analysis of Saddam Hussein's remaining WMD stockpiles.


Posted by Debbye at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

Frank J. vs. Margaret Cho

Jan. 29 - The Meatriarchy is running a WWF Smackdown between Frank J., who's tagline is Unfair, Unbalanced and Unmedicated, and Margaret Cho, who is said to be a comedienne, in Not ready to let go just yet........ Compare and decide.

Oh, the arena for the match? Michael Moore.

Posted by Debbye at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

French headscarf ban

Jan. 29 - A post from EuroPundits on the ban of headscarves in France which is well-worth reading. (Note: if you get a blank screen, refresh a few times. Servers seem to be cranky today.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

Voting for "none of the above"

Jan. 29 - The internet: where you can read tomorrow's news today or even the day-after-tomorrow's news today. Dateline Jan. 31 - Mark Steyn on How "None of the Above" won. Heh. Too bad that really isn't a ballot choice!

(Via Tim Blair, the man from tomorrow.)

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

Maureen Dowd is a poodle

Jan. 29 - It is still true:

Maureen Dowd is a poodle.

Posted by Debbye at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

Omar Abdi Mohamed

Jan. 29 - From the Daily Telegraph (Australia): Terror arrest shocks officials:

AN ACCUSED terror financier arrested in the US last week had only just returned from a trip to Australia where he is believed to have a child.

In an embarrassing security blunder, the arrest took Australia's intelligence agencies - who were unaware the suspect was in Australia - by surprise.

Omar Abdi Mohamed, 41, is under investigation after allegedly receiving $454,866 from a group accused by US authorities of direct links to al-Qaeda.

Australian officials were shocked because

1)they weren't aware he was a terror suspect and had travelled 4 times to Australia under visa as well as once to Africa and twice to Saudi Arabia, and

2) he has a wife and/or girlfriend and child in Australia and a wife and 6 children in San Diego.

Posted by Debbye at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

BBC's Greg Dyke apologizes

Jan. 29 - BBC's director-general, Greg Dyke, apologizes (actually, in reading the aritcle, the aplogy seems to be followed by challenges to the findings of the Hutton Inuiry) and, according to the scrolling news on the DT's webiste, he has also resigned from the BBC. (The BBC confirms the resignation here.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Canadians in Afghanistan

Jan. 29 - The terrorist attack yesterday in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of a British soldier caused the Canadian military to scale back a planned procession to the airport which was to have honoured Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, who was killed the previous day in a terrorist attack, for his final journey home (Farewell to 'a brother'.)

The heightened security concerns have caused the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to order that foot patrols cease and alll Iltis jeeps to be parked until further notice.

Soldiers and local authorities in Kabul have tightened security and increased police foot patrols as the investigation into the attacks continues.

The US is planning a spring offensive to track down remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to a senior DoD official.

Never forget those who serve.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph story on the bombing death of the British soldier is here.

The soldier was the fourth British serviceman and the 24th member of the Nato-led Isaf to be killed in Afghanistan. Spokesmen for the deposed Taliban claimed responsibility, but gave different names and nationalities for the bomber.

One described him as "Saad", an Algerian-born British national in his twenties. Another said he was 28-year-old Sayed Mohammad Ahmad, a Palestinian with an Algerian passport. Abdul Latif Hakimi, a Taliban spokesman, told a news agency: "It's just the beginning. More such attacks will take place. Hundreds of our men are ready to carry out such attacks."

The soldier's name has not been released yet.

Posted by Debbye at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

Blame Paris (Hilton)

Jan. 29 - Blame Paris: the real reason Americans are boycotting Canada is finally revealed: well-known activist Paris Hilton to protest Canada's seal hunting.

Posted by Debbye at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Human rights groups complicit in murder

Jan. 29 - Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble has declared that Human rights groups are complicit in murder:

"One of the great curses of this world is the human rights industry," he told the Associated Press news agency at an international conference of terrorism victims in Madrid.

"They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims."

His words drew an angry reaction from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two of the world's biggest human rights groups, with about 200,000 members in Britain and more than a million worldwide.

I have to admit that his remarks seems a bit harsh, although I agree with the substance of what he is saying. One can, and should, make an effort to comprehend the motivations of people who commit horrendous acts, but there is so slender a line between understanding and justifying as to be indistinct.

The failure of Amnesty International in particular to distinguish between victim and killer has reduced their credbility, which is alarming given their otherwise good record of exposing human rights abuses.

The conference adopted the following declaration:

It said: "We call on NGOs and other civil organisations that stand for the defence of human rights to make a commitment to defend victims of terrorism and to identify terrorist acts for what they are, regardless of their cause or pretext and without striking balances or blurring the distinction between victims and executioners."
Maybe the civil organizations that stand for the defence of human rights consider those points when they frame their reactions to the terrorist bus bombing attack that killed 10 and wounded 45 people in Jerusalem.

UPDATE: The bomber has been identified as a Palestinian police officer from Bethlehem. His left a will with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

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

January 28, 2004

Andrew Coyne web site

Jan. 28 - Technorati seems to be working again, and I was pleased to learn that Andrew Coyne is running a webpage here.

Read it and see what you think.

UPDATE: In truth, I wasn't sure if he was still a columnist with the National Post given the recent shuffles over there but the incredibly intelligent commenters here assure me that he is. /gratuitous flattery

Posted by Debbye at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

Precision Guided Humour

Jan. 28 - The latest assignment from The Alliance of Free Bloggers is to determine What jobs should we allow France to do in Iraq?

To be honest, I am not feeling very charitable right now. Of course, the French haven't given me any reason to feel charitably but I usually at least try to make an effort. Fact is I'm too tired, my fingers are cramped and my toes haven't thawed out.

So I'm sticking with "Don't let them in Iraq at all." They can, if they wish to do something useful, come here and help with snow removal. It warmed up just enough to make the snow heavy - very heavy - and there are still some residential areas of the city where it's pretty rough going.

Okay, I'll try to be more charitable.

Toronto got a lot less snow than other areas in the East, so let's send them to harder hit areas and Toronto will cope. Yeah, that's it. And now I don't appear so self-interested.

Posted by Debbye at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian named as recipient of oil vouchers

Jan. 28 - According to a story in today's Globe and Mail, a Canadian businessman was named as one of those who received free oil for backing Saddam. Arthur Millholland, president of Calgary-based Oilexco Inc., is said to have received one million barrels of oil.

The allegations of bribery were published in an Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada, which cited documents obtained from the former State Oil Organisation, or Somo, which the Daily Telegraph (UK) describes as the commercial arm of Saddam's oil ministry.

The Daily Telegraph article focuses on the international nature of the scandal

Saddam Hussein bribed his way around the world, buying the support of presidents, ministers, legislators, political parties and even Christian churches, according to documents published in Iraq.

The list of those who allegedly benefited from Saddam's largesse spans 46 countries.

According to the newspaper al-Mada, one of the new publications that have emerged since the removal of the dictator, Saddam offered each of his friends lucrative contracts to trade in millions of barrels of Iraqi crude under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

The 270 individuals and organisations alleged to be in his pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the party led by the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even the Russian Orthodox Church.

There's more, so read the whole thing.

Will this latest allegation force the UN to open the books of the Oil for Food program?

Roger L. Simon has been in the forefront of those urging the books be opened. He posts on this latest development, Naming Names, and also links to Merde in France which in turn links to the Le Monde article about the French connection, so those with working French might want to check it out.

Tim Blair links to the complete list and the translation of the complete list. No Australians have been named but some Austrians (which might explain why initial reports were conflicting) but George Galloway's name appears several times.

One cautionary reminder: we've been down this road of documents recovered in Baghdad provide evidence of corruption and perfidy only to see it fizzle when the documents turned out to be forgeries, so handsprings and whoops of joy are postponed until confirmation.

But, as Capt. Sheridan said, You can't kill the truth. (And yes, I know what his follow-up was, but work with me here, okay?)

UPDATE: Enter Stage Right has more, including a good memory back to an earlier rumour about Swiss bank accounts. Maybe the deal wasn't for actual oil after all, but for the proceeds of undocumented oil sales.

Posted by Debbye at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee

Jan. 28 - I watched David Kay's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and kept wondering if the US will ever be able to get away from the overwhelming politicization of each and every issue. Kay said WMD search showed intelligence weakness and pointed out that those failures began during the Carter Administration (echoing the president's Whitehall speech in that blame can be placed equally on both parties and over decades, not years.)

Kay pointed out (and I agree) that an inquiry might be useful, but a witchhunt wouldn't. I'm weary of the witchhunt mentality of the past 10 years which overshadowed the bombing of the WTC early in the last decade as well as the escalating terrorist attacks on US interests which, by our inability or unwillingness to respond, culminated on Sept. 11.

I've don't fault the Clinton administration so much for not responding to the attacks so much as I fault the leaders of both parties for being incapable of understanding which issues are fair partisan game and which aren't. There has got to be continued recognition that, when a national crisis occurs, responsibile leadership dictates that we drop the partisan games. It's hurting us that some still haven't reached that understanding.

The problem is that criticisms based on partisanship are too easily dismissed (which was similar to the findings of the Hutton Inquiry - see post below) and that problem, more than anything else, threatens our ability to properly assess and respond to events.

David Kay has pointed out that the strategies employed during the war indicate how strongly we believed in the existence and willingness of Saddam to use WMD on our troops and many of the criticisms being raised now about securing sites and offices fail to take that into account. That's something so glaringly obvious that I have to conclude that even those who criticize those failures know it to be so.

(UPDATE: CNN's wrap-up of Kay's testimony is here and Fox's coverage is here.)

(UPDATE: The transcript of David Kay's opening statement to the committee is here. Note it doesn't include the questions and answers, unfortunately.)

During Sen. Kennedy's questions I found myself reflecting on the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as the Bay of Pigs mess and wondered if he had thought about those events lately. (I'm not saying there are grounds for analogy. I'm just saying.)

There has to be points at which partisan interests, which are by definition narrow and selfish, are set aside for the common good. I'm baffled that we evidently haven't reached that point yet, although I suspect the American people are considerably farther ahead in that respect than some political leaders.

The president has thus far stood above the chatter and clatter, but he hasn't begun to campaign as of yet (at least to the same degree as the Dems, which in all fairness, is due to the primaries) so the Republicans are still holding the higher moral ground but it will be a delicate balancing act once the Democrats select a candidate and the presidential campaign begins in earnest.

I was sorry to see that Sen. Lieberman couldn't break the 10% barrier in the New Hampshire primary. Do the Dems have any special awards for principled consistency? I believe the senator is preserving the future of the Democrats which is also true for Bill Clinton also but not true for Gore.

Maybe I should make a full disclosure: I voted for Nader in 2000. When Gore decided to endorse Dean, it confirmed for me the main reason I didn't vote for him: he's an unprincipled opportunist. (I didn't even consider voting for Bush because I had never voted Republican. In 2000, some things were sacrosanct, but it's not 2000 any more and I'm not in Kansas any more - or Georgia or California.)

I think what irritates me the most is the heightened rhetoric. For example, does Sen. Kerry truly believe that the Bush administration is a regime? Of course he doesn't. Do those who say that the US has become a police state actually believe that? Of course they don't. (They are as aware as I that they aren't in jail.)

I also didn't believe that Dean's speech after the Iowa caucus was as dreadful as CNN in particular insisted (although that may be because I lived in Georgia, have seen other politicians behave similarly, and recognized his speech for what it was - a boisterous effort to raise the spirits of his supporters and redirect their temporary disappointment to the future. Were I such to have been in that crowd, it would have raised my spirits!)

Anyway, I think the sound bite approach to leadership is just plain irresponsible.

Americans are facing unanticipated challenges these days which go to the heart of who we are, where we are headed and what we aspire to be. We need to find solutions that are based less in partisanship and more to determining "the common weal." I get that, most Americans get that, and anyone who would be our leader needs to get that.

It's stopped snowing for now. The snow plow did its usual damage, so I'm going to finish clearing up out there.

Posted by Debbye at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Hutton Inquiry Findings

Jan. 28 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK) Blair 'cleared' by Hutton which links directly to the website for the Hutton Inquiry where the report is posted. The report is said to be a .pdf file ( didn't check) but the Summary of Conclusions appears in standard text.

The Summary itself is fairly straightforward and well-worth reading. Section 2.i. notes that

Therefore the allegations reported by Mr Gilligan that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong or questionable and that it was not inserted in the first draft of the dossier because it only came from one source and the intelligence agencies did not really believe it was necessarily true, were unfounded.
The Report also criticizes the BBC management for not recognizing that Gilligans's own notes did not support his accusations about the dossier and, although it recognizes that the BBC Board of Governors properly recognized that they had the obligation to protect the independence of the BBC, it notes that they failed to distinguish between defending that independence and addressing the specific government complaints about the May 29 broadcast that alleged the government had deliberately inserted doubtful information and therefore should have made their own investigations.

On the question of whether the government or government officials behaved dishonourably by allowing Dr. Kelly's name to be know, the inquiry acknowledges (Section 4.A) that keeping Dr. Kelly's name secret was not "a practical possibility" given the media scrutiny, so confirmation after a reporter put his name forward was the only reasonable response. It does criticize the government's failure to inform Dr. Kelly that they would confirm his identity as the source (4.B.) and for not setting up a procedure by which Dr. Kelly would have been informed immediately once his name was released to the press but also noting that there were individual attempts by MoD officials to be supportive and helpful.

As noted by Expat Yank (if blogspotted, Ctrl+F "What is needed is an investigation"), the response from the Conservative Party has been to call for an inquiry. That's right, an inquiry into the inquiry.

UPDATE: BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies resigns in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry's finding that the BBC had "defective" editorial controls.

Does anyone else remember the Washington Post retraction of their erroneous stories about Jessica Lynch capture or how the NY Times handled the Jayson Blair firing? It's sad to see the BBC fail to remember their primary responsibility to the public like this.

Posted by Debbye at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

British in Afghanistan

Jan. 28 - Two bombs were detonated nearly simultaneously in Kabul yesterday. The first exploded during a memorial service for Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy (the Canadian soldier who was killed yesterday by a homicide bomber) killing a British soldier and injuring 4 others.

According to the Sun (UK) the MoD confirmed that the explosion involved a British vehicle and occured during the memorial service, but if I'm judging correctly the location of the attack was not at the memorial service.

In the second attack, five "non-Afghans" were injured by a homicidal bomber in a taxi. The explosion happened near the German peacekeeping base to the east of Kabul. The victims have not been identified.

The Taliban has taken responsibility for today's bombings as well as yesterdays, and the Sun notes that the attacks occured in the same week as Afghan President Karzai signed the constitution into law.

Never forget those who serve.

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

January 27, 2004

Dear Voters: You're fired

Jan. 27 - From Boston Globe coumnist Brian McGrory Dear voters, You're fired:

... So you can vote any way you want and make us look like idiots?

I don't mean to pile on, but didn't you realize that we dismissed Kerry's candidacy with a steady stream of bitterly snide and snarky jokes many months ago. Did you fail to see that the firing of his campaign manager in November was the biggest story of the decade and that his appearance on Leno showed that he couldn't possibly win?

Likewise, did you miss the whole Dean coronation we held? Didn't you know that with all that Internet money and all those kids in orange, he couldn't possibly lose? Did you ignore how often the news magazines had him on their cover?

How do you think all this makes us feel in the news business? ...

Go read and enjoy.

(Link via On the Third Hand

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

Toronto Affairs

Jan. 27 - Things are not sweet and lightness here: today's Toronto Sun lists 8 gun-related incidents including the two homicides that occured from Friday to Monday in Toronto the Good: Deadly danger.

City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is calling on Mayor David Miller to declare Gun violence an emergency and have it foremost on the three-day council meeting which began today. He's calling on the mayor to hire 600 more police officers.

The fact that the courts do not seem to see gun-related violence as deserving of more stringent sentences is still the bigger part of the problem, though, and is probably the main reason witnesses are reluctant to step forward.

Lorrie Goldstein points out that This is a way a city dies, First with a bang, then a whimper.

Look, folks. I'm an American. I've seen too many American cities writhe in death convulsions because those purporting to be our leaders were too easily intimidated by accusations of racism and too happy to distract attention to "root causes of gang violence" rather than take action. Do the families of the dead care much about our solicitude for "root causes" while making funeral arrangements?

Does a baby have to be killed in cross fire before people wake up?

I think Canadians could handle learning from our mistakes. IMO.

Posted by Debbye at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

Flags of unilateral power

Jan. 27 - Murdoc has a striking post Flags of the unilateral power. (I highly recommend standing during this display -- as a sign of respect.)

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

Canadian KIA in Afghanistan

Jan. 27 - Bomber kills Canadian in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bombing in Kabul has killed one Canadian soldier and wounded three others, a spokesman for the NATO-led security force said.

One Afghan civilian also died, and eight other people were treated for injuries at local hospitals, police and doctors told The Associated Press.

The suicide bomber reportedly threw himself on a vehicle that was part of a small International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol convoy operating in the Afghan capital.

The attack happened about 2 km from Camp Julien.

The Globe and Mail is calling it a suicide attack, as is the the CBC.

Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, of Conception Harbour, Nfld., was killed while on patrol in Kabul in an Iltis. Lieut. Jason Matthew Feyko, 30 of Peterborough, Ont., Cpl. Jeremy Gerald MacDonald, 30, of Burnt Islands, Nfld. and Cpl. Richard Michael Newman, 23, of Heartland, N.B., were injured. The injuries are said not to be life-threatening.

Never forget those who serve.

UPDATE: I just finished watching the press conference on CBC Newsworld, and just in case anyone besides the reporters missed this point, the bomber jumped on top of the Iltis. I doubt the vehicle they were in made a difference. I'm not even going to comment on some of the other probing questions.

And to any Canadians who are irritated that CNN television is ignoring the death of the Canadian soldier, I agree! but heck, no one has ever claimed that CNN would prioritize actual news events over a day full of celebrity lawbreakers or idle speculation (ref. the story of the bombing in Bali which was pretty much ignored so they could interview armchair experts and listen to their (inaccurate) profiles of the Washington sniper. Aargh.)

UPDATE: Canadian Comment doesn't mince words:

Last night Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy of Newfoundland was killed while on patrol in Kabul. A murderer jumped on their vehicle strapped with explosives killing Jamie and injuring Lieutenant Jason Matthew Feyko, Corporal Richard Michael Newman, and Corporal Jeremy Gerald MacDonald.
I'm thinking that messages of condolences should be left on Canadian sites like Canadian Comment.

UPDATE: This speculates that the homicide attack was payback for the recent nightime raid on suspected terrorists and drug lords. (See here for the link describing the raid.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

Freeport TX BASF plant shooting investigated by FBI

Jan. 26 - The Friday shooting of a security guard in Freeport, Texas, by the man he questioned as to why he was lingering in the vicinity of a multi-story ammonia tank at a BASF ammonia terminal is being investigated by FBI, state and local law enforcment personnel and, according to sources, considered possibly connected to a terrorist reconnaisance operation. This is according to an item from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin (subscription only) and carried by WorldNetDaily: Texas coast eyed by terrorists.

A major feature of this article is the retelling of the 1947 Texas City (located only a few miles from Freeport) disaster at which a French ship filled with ammonium nitrate exploded at the dock setting off a chain reaction of explosions which killed the towns entire fire department and destroyed their 4 firetrucks. Volunteers fought the fires and assisted in rescue work. Over 500 people were killed.

(Via Jack's Newswatch

Posted by Debbye at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

Afghan war halted al Qaeda CBW programs in Malaysia

Jan. 26 - Al-Qaida program to make chemical, biological weapons halted by Afghan war according to Malaysian officials from information gathered from captured terrorist suspects in Southeast Asia:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - An al-Qaida program to develop chemical and biological weapons was in the early "conceptual stages" when it was cut short by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. and Malaysian security officials told the Associated Press.

The information on the state of Osama bin Laden's weapons plan came from interrogations of terrorist suspects captured in Southeast Asia and from clues gathered in the Afghan battlefield, the authorities said.

The project was being developed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Officials believe the program was being run by Yazid Sufaat, a former Malaysian army captain and U.S.-trained biochemist, under the direction of Riduan Isamuddin, or Hambali, an Indonesian accused of heading al-Qaida's operations in Southeast Asia.

Both men are suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group.

They are also both in custody. Hambali is a major operative in Jemaah Islamiyah and was implicated in the Bali bombing.

Read the article; it has a lot of information about Yazid, including his involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Posted by Debbye at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

Pakistan to release Abdulkareem Khadr

Jan. 26 - Pakistan to release wounded Abdulkareem Khadr for return to Canada

OTTAWA (CP) - Pakistani authorities are prepared to release a 14-year-old Canadian boy wounded in combat alongside al-Qaida fighters, a source said Monday, but it could take officials in Ottawa and Islamabad two weeks to work out the logistics.

Abdulkareem Khadr was hit in the spine by a bullet Oct. 2 and is paralysed from the waist down. He is being held at a hospital near Islamabad. "The young man has expressed a wish to come back here," said a Foreign Affairs official who spoke on condition of anonymity.


The official said Canada will issue a passport to the young Khadr, who has family in Toronto. But there remain at least 20 questions that must answered before he can be repatriated, not the least of which is: who's going to pay for his transport?

It is likely Khadr is a stretcher case who will need medical escort and possibly a private plane or air ambulance, the official said, estimating transport alone at more than $30,000.

"Is it going to be automatic medical coverage by OHIP?" he said. "It's going to be an expensive operation.

"That kind of money - I don't know where it's going to come from. The family will have to be canvassed."

My assumption is that once he is in Canada, his medical costs will be covered by the health care system. The issue of who is going to pay for the costs incurred in transporting him to Canada is somewhat sensitive because the father had been given money by the Canadian government for purported charity work which turned out to be used to fund terrorism. He was a money man for al Qaeda and they called him "Al Kanadi" (the Canadian.) (Use Ctrl+F " Ahmed Said Khadr" in October archives for more information.)

To recap: Ahmed Said Khadr, the father, was killed last October in a firefight with Pakistan security forces.
Omar, 17, a brother, is being held at Guantanamo for killing a US media in Afghanistan.
Abdurahman, 20, was captured in Afghanistan, held at Guantanamo, released and eventually returned to Toronto last December.
Abdullah, 22, is believed to have operated an al Qaeda training camp and his whereabouts are unknown.

Posted by Debbye at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

Calls for inquiry into Arar case

Jan. 26 - The politicians in this country are a wonder: MPs call for Arar inquiry:

OTTAWA -- MPs of all stripes called for a sweeping review of post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism legislation yesterday, and a public inquiry into Maher Arar's deportation to Syria. Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish said MPs of all federal parties will work together when Parliament resumes next week to take on the RCMP for raiding Ottawa journalist Juliet O'Neill.

Parrish blames Canada's anti-terrorism laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for giving the Mounties the powers to conduct the surprise raid on O'Neill.

Parrish said those laws were hastily drafted and deserve a "slow second look."

"I think the review is inevitable," Parrish told CTV's Question Period. "It's time for it to be reviewed and dumped."

Firstly, yes, that Carolyn Parrish.

Secondly, too bad they didn't take that slow, second look before voting for it, but for heaven's sake, why pretend to review it if you really plan to dump it? Stop.Wasting.Our.Time. Will the Canadian electorate readily accept the "we're too incompetent to know what we're doing" excuse? (Probably.)

Thirdly, there was the equivalent of an Official Secrets Act in Canada before the Security of Information Act. Every country has such legislation. We don't exactly know the nature of the documents she is said to possess, but there is a process by which materials can be reviewed and, unless they are deemed to it compromise investigations or national security, be released for publication. Therefore, the possibility remains that she possessed documents that contained sensitive material beyond what she released about Arar.

It's too bad that the media feel victimized, but maybe they should have focused on the provisions of the Security Act instead of indulging in whining about legislation in another freaking country.

Fourthly, that other freaking country I'm referring to has had more leaks from intelligence and military sources to the media than I would even begin to try to count, and as of yet no reporter has been served with a search warrant at work or home. Canadian pundits haven't pulled any punches in declaring the USA is a totalitarian, fascist regime. Will this shut them up?

Two words: Robert Novak. He published the name of a CIA employee and/ or operative and hey! he still has his rolodex.

Second to the lastly, the inquiry into the detention and deportation of Arar should be interesting because he has sued the US, Jordanian and Syrian governments. IANAL, but wouldn't testimony in one tend to prejudice testimony in the other? Which gets priority when there's an inquiry and pending lawsuits?

Lastly, it may be a mistake to try to post during commercials for the Dennis Miller show on CNBC. It seems to heighten my proclivity for snarkiness.

The Dennis Miller Show has some things to work on (he even said that in closing) but I'm going to give it a chance. His feature guest tonight was Arnold Schwarzennegger, and the discussion group was Naomi Wolf, token liberal, David Horowitz (no intro necessary) and David Frum (ditto.) By the way, they discussed "David Kay said there were no WMD in Iraq" and didn't bring up any "they were transported to Syria" speculations, so that last may be a case of too much dot connecting.

Posted by Debbye at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

What are Americans like?

Jan. 26 - Steven den Beste has an essay, Americans are unalike, in which he answers the question "What are Americans like?" primarily with this:

There is not a single substantive question you can ask about Americans or ask of Americans that you would find a single answer to. On any political question you'll find disagreement, and there is no single substantive characteristic we share as a people.
I would only add that there are a few minor, unsubstantive characteristics: contariness, and a refusal to bow down to anyone.

Discount Blogger's take, though, in What Americans are like was right on the money:

So, to answer Den Beste's reader's question, Americans are people who live their lives. They don't feel superior. Yet they certainly do not feel inferior to you.
Read both "whole things."

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Syria, Dr. Kay

Jan. 26 - I got a really late start today, but want to begin by pointing to some more observations from Roger L. Simon in his post Roshamon on possible Syrian involvement with Saddam's WMD. He also links to more analyses of David Kay's interviews at JunkYardBlog and Dust in the Light.

There needs to be some major snow shoveling here. Mark's brother lives in Sault Ste. Marie so I would normally be downright embarassed to complain about the average snowfall in Toronto, but I think today might just qualify as the exception, but there's no point complaining until it actually stops snowing.

I screwed up my courage earlier to go into the Blogger template and update the blogroll. Two blogs have not only changed urls but names as well, so Moving Target is now Autonomous Source and Too Much to Dream is now Twisted Spinster. I also updated the link for Random Thoughts and added Just Between Us Girls and Let It Bleed, two fine Canadian bloggers.

The Canadian Election Blog has a lot of contributors from the Canadian political spectrum and will prove particularly relevant as everyone assumes an election will be called at some point this year (by the way, I'm going with the name I first saw on Jay Currie's blog for now, although the title "E-Group Election Blog" is on the web bar.)

au currant is an American blogger in London who I discovered through Peaktalk.

Two additions who serve: Neptunus Lex in in the Navy, and Rantings of a homicidalManiak is an army medic stationed in Germany. One of them is actually seeing the world: guess which one!

I thought that The Owner's Manual and Iraq 2.0 were already on the blogroll, but they were evidently among the links lost in cyberspace when blogger went down completely during one of my recent forays into the Blogger Template (and you wonder why I'm reluctant to venture in there.)

Usual request: if I screwed up something, let me know so I can fix it. To err is human, and I'm human.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

Syria Accountability Act

A key indication of how seriously the legislature is viewing the relations we have with Syria resides in the Syria Accountability Act (HR-1828) (some news background here from Oct. 8 and here from Nov. 6.) It was first recommended for approval by the House International Relations Committee last October.

To repeat: this bill arose in the House International Relations Committee, i.e., from our legislative branch, rather than the executive. In fact, the executive branch asked that it be held up in committee in order to continue to try and find a resolution though diplomatic means.

From an Oct. 8 US Dept. of State release:

The House bill has 281 co-sponsors while the Senate version has 76 co-sponsors. The level of co-sponsorship is generally indicative of a piece of legislation's support in Congress and chances of final passage.
The bill provides the president with a list of measures from which he can select two for implementation, so it allows the executive some flexibility so that diplomatic efforts can continue, but is a clear signal to Syria that Congress, and thus the direct electorate, have grown weary of Syria's games and are re-asserting that Syria is a terrorist state and should be subject for sanctions until the issues listed in the bill are resolved.

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

January 25, 2004

Kay says WMD hidden in Syria

Jan. 25 - Instapundit points to this in the Telegraph (UK) which deserves its own heading: Kay said Saddam's WMD hidden in Syria - not a large stockpile, he said, but "a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme."

Syria's response was designed to deflect rather than answer:

A Syrian official last night said: "These allegations have been raised many times in the past by Israeli officials, which proves that they are false."
I guess that conclusion really depends on which of the two countries one thinks is more trustworthy.

I was initally miffed that Israel only hit one terrorist camp last October, and backed off when I considered that (speculation alert!) often one mission is given a lot of coverage to divert attention from another, unnoticed mission, and even though Debka isn't the most reliable source in the world, some of their seemingly wilder dot-connectings have proven true.

The war blogs certainly haven't fallen all over themselves with rapture on any inroads with Syria as we have with Libya, and that is significant.

UPDATE: Wretchard at Belmont Club looks at a possible deployment of special ops forces in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. RTWT.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon's post The Road (Map) to Damascus makes some excellent points. Read the comments as well.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the Washington Times story about the Janes Intelligence Digest report from Jan 22.

Posted by Debbye at 02:08 PM | Comments (1)

Hutton Inquiry Findings, Mugabe, Cheney on Iran, EU coruption

Jan. 25 - Hutton will clear Blair over Kelly death which is to say Blair will not be personally criticized, but Alistair Campbell and Andrew Gilligan are among those who will be. So a BBC reporter can misrepresent Dr. Kelly's statements (who should never have been speaking to the BBC to begin with) and thus violate every ethical standard of journalism to put forward his own point of view and Blair was put on the defensive? And Campbell did wrong . . . how? By standing up for the truth. No chastisement can be harsh enough for that crime.

And journalists complain that people don't watch the news or read the papers. Maybe because they don't trust big media? Hmm?

Mugabe flown to South Africa because he collapsed. Money quote:

"We were ordered not to give any details of the president's illness in case it brought people out on to the streets," a senior member of the 'Green Bombers', the notorious youth brigade created by Mr Mugabe, told The Telegraph.
Paul claims he's trying to resolve issues with his video card (or something like that) but I say he's been sacrificing chickens again. Good work! Today Mugabe, tomorrow . . . oh, kind of a big field there. I vote for Arafat, but I'll let Paul decide.

Dick Cheney is taking a hard line on Iran's Council of Guardians.

"Democracies do not breed the anger and the radicalism that drag down whole societies or export violence," he said. "Terrorists do not find fertile recruiting grounds in societies where young people have the right to guide their own destinies and to choose their own leaders."
Ineptitude in the EU?:
The report, by the parliament's budgetary control committee, notes that "no Commissioner has so far accepted political responsibility" for the fiasco at Eurostat, from which at least £3.5 million disappeared in slush funds and fictitious contracts, although some have admitted mistakes. Much of the fraud took place before the current commission took office in late 1999, but MEPs are furious that dubious contracts ran on, unchecked, until at least 2002.
Ever wonder where the UN learned its bookkeeping methodology? And these poor commissioners might receive a vote of censure! Oh, the humanity!

Posted by Debbye at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

Role of Pinkerton

Jan. 25 - Civil War and military intelligence buffs alert! Peter Worthington looks at the role of Pinkerton and his continually poor assessments of Confederate strength during the Civil War in light of their omission from John Keegan's book Intelligence in War in the column The 'myth' of military intelligence. (Worthington is a vet, so he already knows that military intelligence is an oxymoron.) (But no mention of the use of hot-air balloons? Oh well, can't have everything.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

Khadr's family grieves

Jan. 25 - Anytime you lose someone is cause for grief, even if he was a terrorist and money-man for al Qaeda (T.O. relatives grieve for Khadr) and I'm trying to retain some sympathy but his family makes it hard:

"This just continues the ongoing suffering we have endured."
Ahem, it might help to consider that removing him and his activities from the planet might prevent others from true and actual suffering.

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

Globe and Mail looks at US troops return from Afghanistan

Jan. 25 - The Globe and Mail has its take on the story of 100 soldiers arriving home from Afghanistan after completing their six-month tour of duty, and the Toronto Sun has its take. The Globe and Mail might considered to be more "respectable" than the Sun, but the content convinces me that appearances are deceiving. Read it for yourselves and decide.

Welcome Home! and Thank You seem better sentiments than delving into their psychological profiles, but I'm just an Air Force brat. What do I know?

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

Opportunity lands on Mars

Jan. 25 - (Crossing fingers) Live on CNN from JPL in Pasadena, ping, radar, bouncing, re-acquired signal, still rolling, stopped moving, unwrapping.

I think we can call the Opportunity landing a success!

(I doubt I can make it to 1 am PST for Surveyor to transmit to earth. Damn.)

UPDATE: The photos on the NASA page and Rover page are pretty impressive and worth waiting to load.

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

January 24, 2004

Nuclear Black Market

Jan. 24 - Two major items in the Washington Post today. First, an astonishing account that the Probe of Libya Finds Nuclear Black Market complete with 'ready to assemble "kits" for centrifuges and customer support service. Read the whole thing.

Second, Pakistan investigators have concluded that at least two of their nuclear scientists directly assisted Iran in devloping nuclear technology, although without government approval. President Musharref said the scientists provided their expertise for "personal gain."

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

The Meatriarchy on Iran

Jan. 24 - The Meatriarchy has linked back to an older post of his with some well thought-out points which concluded that Iraq might be the Wrong Domino and that Iran might have had better potential as a Mid-East country that could become run by consensual government. He's re-raised the question here (and be sure to follow the link to read Clifford Le May's article.)

I've read all three articles more than a few times today and tried to understand my reactions, and I'm suddenly wondering if perhaps I suffer from Tehran Embassy Syndrome, something akin to Somalia Syndrome and one which probably has similar roots.

I supported the removal of the Shah of Iran (he was regarded a butcher by his people,) but was shocked when the US Embassy in Tehran was seized and those within held as hostages. I've supported the movement to bring democratic reforms to Iran, but am leery of the US becoming directly involved or even supportive. I was genuinely glad that the US sent aid after the Bam earthquake, but feel myself stiffen whenever the question of re-opening diplomatic relations with Iran is raised. (I'm talking about how I feel here, not what I think.)

Sometimes memories sit in a quagmire of feelings. For example, I've never had the heart to attack former President Jimmy Carter and I think it's because I vividly remember his face and demeanor when he appeared on TV to inform the American people of the disasterous attempt to rescue the hostages. He hurt, and we all hurt with him. We had abandoned our dead, something we never do. A low point of history indeed.

In many ways, the embassy takeover spelled the end of my political innocence, and it taught me that good intentions and high-sounding, lofty ideals weren't adequate when it came to dealing with people who hate us. After all, they struck at us and called us Satan when someone as benign as Jimmy Carter was president. I knew I needed to do some re-evaluation.

Again, my evaluation of Carter is based on the personal, not the political. I lived in Georgia when Carter was governor, and he always struck me as being a good, well-meaning man. It was harsh learning that sometimes someone being good was inadequte and in fact was a detriment for a President. Ethics were important, but so was strength. I never quite got on the Reagan bandwagon (I voted Independent for years) but couldn't deny the reality that the hostages were let go as Reagan was inaugurated.

That experience may form part of the reason why a great many of us 60's radicals are solidly in support of the strong stance taken by President Bush, and why we grasped the reasons to make an intervention in the Mid-East long before the arguments were even laid out by the current Administration.

So maybe I harbor a bit of a grudge against Iran - although not Iranians - not because of what they did but because of what we didn't do, and I'm not sure I'm alone in this.

So the points laid out in The Meatriarchy's posts have dogged me a great part of today and made me do a lot of thinking (he does that a lot; if you don't read him regularly, you should!) Read it and see what you think.

Posted by Debbye at 08:03 PM | Comments (1)

Spirit Recovery

Jan. 24 - Spirit Recovers on Red Planet:

Scientists said they managed to reset Spirit's computer and put the rover into what's called "cripple" mode to bypass software problems.
It may be 3 weeks before Spirit can take another trip on the Martian landscape.

Opportunity should land at 12:05 a.m. tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

Clinton supporting Stronach?

Jan. 24 - A big caution should accompany reading the following from the New York Post Online Edition: Gossip but it is giggle-worthy:

January 22, 2004 -- BILL Clinton's liberal politics go right out the window when it comes to women. Now that auto parts heiress Belinda Stronach has announced she's running to lead Canada's Conservative Party, our northern spies tell us the 37-year-old Magna CEO can count on her old friend Bubba's help. "Clinton is expected to give Belinda council for her bid to become Conservative leader and, if she wins that job, taking on the governing Liberals in the national election," says the source. Clinton's office had no comment. (Original emphasis)
Now, I would actually like to see this happen strictly for scientific reasons as I wonder if the Clinton curse applies up in Canada.

(Link via The Owner's Manual.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

Ahmed Said Khadr confirmed dead

Jan. 24 - The rumoured death last year of Egyptian-born Canadian citizen Ahmed Said Khadr has been confirmed by DNA testing.

Posted by Debbye at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Maureen Dowd is a poodle

Jan. 23 - This one needs some explaining, but I'd rather let an Australian, Tim Blair, start it off since they were slandered.

Blackfive compared the participants in the Korean War with the Iraq War and came up with a real yardstick, from which was born this:

The rantings of a homicidalManiak: Google bomb: Maureen Dowd is a poodle.

Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Actually, my sense of justice would be better served if MoDo had to face some of the Bali bombing survivors, but this will do.

UPDATE: Iraq Now has some pretty scathing comments on the column and wonders if she's stacking the deck. But gee! that would be as dishonest as, say, using ellipses to distort the meaning of a quote!

Posted by Debbye at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda in Fallujah?

Jan. 23 - Rantburg reports on the capture of a deputy, Husam al-Yemeni, of al Qaeda leader Abu Zarqawi and the suspicion that there is an al Qaeda cell in Fallujah.

Fox reports that another possible al Qaeda member, Hasan Ghul, was also detained in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has more background on Ghul including his connection to Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

Things are really getting sticky: the Iranian government has announced it plans to try 12 members of al Qaeda (although they won't release their names) but an allegation has been made by a witness that Iran was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks during proceedings in the German trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi who is being tried for as an accomplice in the attacks.

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has no problem with climbing out on a branch and sawing it off, but I've been rubbing my hands with anticipation since she trashed the Australians, and they are responding. Heh.

A Canadian citizen who lives in Minneapolis, Mohammed Abdullah Warsame has been indited for providing material support to al Qaeda.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

German soldiers display solidarity

Jan. 23 - This is the second link I've seen on some outstanding acts of solidarity by German soldiers and civilians at Ramstein Air Base (German salute to U.S. warriors) which, combined with the at sea dress uniform rendition of full honours accorded by FGS Lutjens to the USS Winston Churchill on 9/14/01 (come on, surely you remember receiving that photo and email! I received at least 4 of them) is why we need to remember that politicians talk - too much - but they don't always represent the total will of their people.

UPDATE: homicidalManiak has a story of her own about the respect displayed by German soldiers. Sheesh, I didn't know HS was a medic in Germany. My respect, ma'am.

(Via Rantburg in comments section of lgf.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

John Rhys-Davies

Jan. 23 - I guess it was predictable that there would be a backlash against John Rhys-Davies for remarks he made asserting the worth of Western Civilization and declaring it and its accomplishments worth defending. I'm not going to quote the accusations, but they are in Front Page Magazine as well as Robert Spencer's defence of Rhys-Davies which concludes:

As Rhys-Davies himself put it: "I do not want to see a society where, should I ever have any, my granddaughters have their fingernails pulled out because they are wearing nail varnish. . . . Do not brand me a racist because I am most certainly not. But I will stand by this: Western Christianised Europe has values and experience that is worth defending."

Can Malik guarantee that none of those young Muslims in Holland want to see the Sharia imposed there? Is he willing to renounce the Sharia and work to educate Muslims about how it must be reformed in light of principles of human rights that are recognized universally outside the Islamic world?

If not, then Gimli has nothing whatsoever for which to apologize.

(Link via little green footballs.)

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

Elections in Iran

Jan. 23 - Mob leaves Iranian reformist leader injured:

A 200-strong gang of political radicals attacked a meeting of Iranian reformists yesterday in the first outbreak of serious violence since moderates were barred from forthcoming elections.

Members of the radical Islamic Hezbollah movement burst into a hall in Hamedan, western Iran. They disrupted a meeting called to discuss the disqualification of 3,605 predominantly reformist candidates from next month's general elections.

The violence erupted after a speaker accused the Guardian Council, the unelected clerical body that vetoed the candidates, of disregarding an order by the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the disqualifications to be reviewed.

"Some 200 people attacked the podium, broke the microphone and beat people," said one witness.

During the student demonstrations last summer, Hezbollah members were heavily involved in attacking demonstrators, including some in their dormitories.

It is noted at the end of the article that President Khatami does not intend to resign even though five of the vice-presidents and six cabinet ministers have done so.

Posted by Debbye at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

Maher Arar

Jan. 23 - Allegations that the US offered to return Arar to Canada are being made:

OTTAWA - The U.S. offered to deport Maher Arar to Canada, but sent him to Syria instead after the RCMP said it did not have enough evidence to detain or charge him if he was sent home.

Intelligence sources say the RCMP and U.S. officials were in regular contact after the 33-year- old software engineer was arrested in the fall of 2002 at New York's JFK airport en route from Tunisia to Montreal.

Sources said the U.S. offered to send him home if the RCMP would charge him, but the Americans were told Canada did not have enough evidence against Mr. Arar, who was a target of an RCMP security investigation.

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan denied the accusation - sort of:
''We have absolutely no knowledge that there was any information provided to Canadian officials that Mr. Arar was going to be deported,'' she said.
M'kay, I'm somewhat jaundiced on the subject of former Health Minister Anne McLellan because she dropped the ball so badly during the SARS crises in Toronto, and her strident defense that "it is a learning process" startled people like me, who thought that, what with the anthrax scare of 2 years ago and continuing rumours about bio-weapons, Canada might have a plan to contain infectious diseases.

PM Martin has said he would wait until the investigation of CSIS and RCMP involvement in the Arar affair is completed before launching his own investigation.

I'll say it again: it was wrong to send him to Syria. Had he been sent to Guantanamo there would have been an outcry, but at least the US would not have been guilty of knowingly sending him to a country known to torture prisoners.

Interesting sidenote: this article was written by Robert Fife, who wrote a rather extensive article on Arar's alleged terrorist connection to a plot to bomb the US Embassy in Ottawa last July.

Posted by Debbye at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

Elizabeth Nickson on the press

Jan. 23 - Elizabeth Nickson

What if we had a real press? One that was actually competitive, and free-thinking, not skewed by the need to suck up to bureaucrats and MPs? And be honest now, hundreds of millions of dollars can trigger extreme amounts of sucking up. If the press were free here, it would mean actual stories would be told, that you wouldn't have to force yourself to buy a Canadian magazine out of patriotism, you'd actually want to because, strange new concept, it was interesting.

It was a great shame for journalists all across the country, for instance, that the Bloc Quebecois, not our so-called media, had to break the story about the revolting 40% increase in federal government spending over the past five years. There was a 90% increase in the Justice Department budget, 129% in legal services alone. What on God's green earth would they be doing with that money?

Why don't we know more about the connection between the Desmarais family, TotalFinaElf, the Bank Paribas, Jacques Chirac, and the UN's Oil for Food program? Given the relationship between the Desmarais family and Chretien, did that have anything to do with our refusal to join the war in Iraq? If this were the States, that story would be front and centre for months. Why do we not know more about the $250,000 the Canadian government gave to Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based organization headed by Ahmed Khadr who is reputed to have links with Osama bin Laden. Khadr used the money to open refugee camps in Pakistan that CSIS now says were used to aid Islamic fighters waging holy war in Afghanistan.

Let me tell you why we don't have a free press. If we did, things would change for our plushy elites pretty fast. As economist Roger Cass observed in his December newsletter, the C-Wave, the free and vibrant discussion of ideas in the States has meant that the Democratic party is shrinking. From over 50% of registered voters identifying as Democrats in the late 70s, they now stand at 34%. Conversely, the number of registered Republicans has risen, from 20% in the late '70s to 33% today. Even-steven. A free and vital exchange of ideas. A close observation of government operations, actual reporting on what works and what doesn't.

(Link via Relapsed Catholic.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (2)

Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, passes away

Jan. 23 - Bob Keeshan, 'Captain Kangaroo', dies at age 76- . Sheesh, another part of my childhood has just passed from this mortal coil.

Posted by Debbye at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

Victor Davis Hanson

Jan. 23 - It's Friday, which means Victor Davis Hanson has a new article up at the National Review and looks at the current themes of doom-and-gloom Democrats in the candidacy race and a quick world tour on the real changes that have occurred since Sept. 11.

Posted by Debbye at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

Canada's bargaining chip

Jan. 23 - When I first read that Canada was to be allowed to submit bids in the second round of the reconstruction contracts in Iraq, my immediate reaction was to wonder what was used as a bargaining chip.

One answer: Canada forgives Iraqi debt of $750 million, or at least "the majority of it."

Posted by Debbye at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire testifies in Rwanda genocide trial

Jan. 23 - Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire continued to testify yesterday in the trial of those held responsible for the genocidal massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda and said that World leaders allowed genocide to happen citing the limited UN mandate, small number of troops, failure of Belgium to share intelligence, and indifference by world leaders, specifically mentioning France, Belguim and the U.S.

The Belgian withdrawal from Rwanda following the deaths of 10 of their soldiers caused Somalia Syndrome to come to mind (ref. the Weekly Standard piece Showstoppers) and the inability of the UN to be effective wherever there is a conflict. Sure, it'll go in as soon as all danger has passed, but that's hardly comforting to the dead. Do I even need to mention the Congo and East Timor?

So this item in today's paper about Kofi Annan's acceptance of an invitation to address the Canadian Parliament is both troubling and laughable:

Martin, who met Annan privately at the World Economic Forum in this Swiss Alps resort on Friday, said the invitation to Annan was the first he has made to a world leader because he wanted to underline the importance of the United Nations at a crossroads in its history.

"If the United Nations doesn't work, we are severely hobbled," he told a news conference.

Pardon? If the UN doesn't work? There are two criminal trials going on right now about massacres that happened because the UN doesn't work. Mass graves continue to be uncovered in Iraq because the UN failed to act. The situation in East Timor is fragile because the UN is too timid to engage in food distribution because, well, they're timid.
Martin said in a world where superpowers like China and India are emerging to rival the economic might of the United States, the United Nations will be critical over the next decade in trying to determine how the world is governed.
Now the UN is going to have a role in how the world is governed? Why? By what authority? So a bureaucratic organization in which the majority of countries are not run democratically and are outright kleptocracies will be telling democratic countries what to do?
By inviting Annan to speak to MPs and senators, Martin wants to express the role that Canada can play in achieving change at the United Nations.

"Canada has a very important role to play in the world, it is a proactive role and it is a role that carries a wide number of areas," he said, citing the AIDS crisis in Africa and establishing the rule of law in failed states as examples of areas where Canada has made a difference.

Do the experiences of Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie in Bosnia and Ltd. Gen. Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda count for nothing? Both men were in charge of peacekeeping missions which in essence failed because the UN refused to be proactive and Canada didn't back up its soldiers. The sick part is that the bobble-heads that will be happy because the right words were invoked even though everyone knows they are empty (the words, I mean, not the bobble-heads. No, make that both. What good is a rant without hyperbole?)

Let me get this straight. The Canadian military has been so decimated by cuts that it cannot provide a force even to clear snow in Toronto, but Canada thinks it has an important role in shaping how the world is to be run. Because that's what the world really needs, you know, more impotent nations sitting on the sidelines and criticizing those who do act.

You can't talk the talk with credibility unless you can walk the walk with action, and that means taking risks and standing up for something. Canada chose to sit out Iraq because it wasn't sanctioned by the UN. Fair enough. But an important sub-text in the controversy of the US going into Iraq without UN approval was that the US is expected to be the peacemaker of the world when member nations of the UN are too feckless and cowardly to act - and too freaking cheap to support their own armies.

Well thanks but no thanks. Put your money where your mouths are - literally.

Consider: PM Martin is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where Iranian President Mohammed Katami happens to be.

Please tell me the investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi has been discussed. Canada has an important role to play in that particular situation as well, PM Martin, and the prior investigation helped expose the growing split between the Council of Guardians and the elected government. Can we say "Golden opportunity? Proactive role to play in the world?" Sigh.

OT UPDATE: Jay Nordlinger has some interesting comments about both Clinton and Khatami at the World Economic Conference.

UPDATE: And the online headline of the Toronto Star is Canada's Future Tied to UN, PM Says.

DAVOS, Switzerland - The prosperity of Canadians is tied to the rejuvenation of international organizations, especially the United Nations, as the world faces a critical decade that will redefine global relations, Prime Minister Paul Martin said today.
And, become I'm a bitca:
In his speech to a room that was less than half full, Martin said business leaders must get on board with UN efforts to improve both the economies and the social conditions of the world's poorest countries.

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

ScrappleFace on Rover

Jan. 23 - Rover stops barking:

Initially, the scientists blamed weather woes on Earth. They now believe the rover is experiencing hardware or software glitches.
Riiight. And they expect us to believe that?

ScrappleFace has another explanation.

This just in: the rover managed to get a limited message out. Go Spirit!

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

January 22, 2004

RCMP raid office, home of reporter Juliet O'Neill

Jan. 22 - The Security of Information Act passed in 2001 has finally come under scrutiny in Canada after a raid was conducted by the RCMP on the home and office of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill [Toronto Sun link here, and link (of indeterminate life span) to the Ottawa Citizen here.]

>From the Citizen:

The story that triggered yesterday's searches was published on the Citizen's front page on Nov. 8. Ms. O'Neill wrote that Mr. Arar had come to the attention of the RCMP while they investigated an alleged al-Qaeda logistical support group based in Ottawa.

Most of the members of the cell are now in prison abroad, but the very existence of the group was one of the reasons the Canadian government was so vehemently opposed to a public inquiry into the Arar affair, she wrote.

One of the leaked documents she referred to in the article describes "minute details" of Mr. Arar's seven months of terrorist training at a camp in Afghanistan, allegedly revealed by Mr. Arar to Syrian intelligence agents during the first few weeks of his detention.


Ms. O'Neill cited a "security source" as saying a public inquiry might also put the spotlight on reports that the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa -- and Parliament Hill -- had been identified as potential al-Qaeda targets in the capital.

The search warrants, signed by Justice of the Peace Richard Sculthorpe, specified that the criminal leak took place between Dec. 13, 2002, and Nov. 9, 2003, the day after Ms. O'Neill's original story on the Arar case appeared in the Citizen.

An appendix quoted Section 4 of the Security of Information Act listing the offences in question: wrongful communication of information, receiving secret information, and retaining or allowing possession of a secret document.

It stated that Ms. O'Neill "did receive a secret document or information, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to believe, at the time she received it, that the document or information was communicated to her in contravention of this act."

Furthermore, it said, Ms. O'Neill "did obtain secret document or information and neglected to restore it to the person or authority by whom or for whom or whose use it was issued, or to a police constable."

The provisions of the Security of Information Act is just as if not more stringent than the Patriot Act and has a sunset clause of 5 years rather than 3.

Robert Fulford of the National Post writes

Deep inside Ottawa's security services, one helpful but anonymous public servant has lately been trying to reveal precisely what lies behind the bizarre case of Maher Arar, a story that has been baffling the country for months. Most of us should be grateful to that person for telling Juliet O'Neill of the Ottawa Citizen why Arar was suspected of terrorist connections in the first place.
He goes on to point out that the security officials in Ottawa are not among those who are grateful. Referring to a similar but unrelated case on the legality of protecting a source, he says
The National Post was before Justice Benotto to oppose a warrant granted earlier that would have compelled the Post to hand over documents relating to stories Andrew McIntosh wrote about Prime Minister Jean Chretien's possible financial connection to the Grand-Mere Golf Club in St. Maurice.


To comply with the warrant, he and his editors would have had to violate that promise. Such a violation might sometimes be necessary, Justice Benotto acknowledged, but in this case the Crown presented no evidence of compelling need. On balance, the rights of the journalist took precedence.

"To compel a journalist to break a promise of confidentiality would do serious harm to the constitutional entrenched right of the media to gather and disseminate information," she wrote -- an opinion seldom heard in a Canadian court, and for that reason likely to be quoted for many years to come...

It looks as though the protection of whistleblowers has been upheld in the courts here, but the O'Neill case will involve a determination if secrecy was for security reasons or, as some believe, to protect improper actions by the RCMP in tipping US officials to Marer's suspected terrorist ties.

In a related story, Maher Arar has sued the U.S. government for the deportation and Jordanian and Syrian governments for torture he says he was subjected to in those countries. (Because nothing is ever easy, Arar happened to be released right after the US vetoed a UNSC resolution condemning Israel for bombing terrorist camps in Syria.) The US still maintains that Arar is a terrorist.

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

Toronto Tourism down

Jan. 22 - I was skeptical that the reason 3.6 million Americans cancelled or reduced trips to Toronto was entirely due to concerns about SARS, but I was astonished that the comments in the Sound Off! section were equally dismissive.

Terrorism concerns were the official explanation in 2002, and SARS was the official explanation for 2003. I'd rather stay in a holding pattern on this one because I don't have any data or information that contradicts the official one, but I'm sticking with skeptical. For now.

Posted by Debbye at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

Jan. 22 - Good post at You Big Mouth, You! about a former Green Beret who is now a chaplain with the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment. (Words to the Ballad of the Green Berets also courtesey of Chuck.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

Precision Guided Humour

Jan. 22 - The latest precision guided humour assignment was to list some War on Terror Side Benefits. This was a toughie, not because I couldn't see any side benefits but it was hard to see them in a humourous light.

Truth is, all I could think of was Frank J. and Allah, both of whom could be considered humourous side benefits (as well as reminders as to why liquids must be kept far, far away from keyboards and mousepads.)

Then a wise man showed me the light.

The airline pilots altered their Welcome Aboard speeches. We began to take another look at some of our allies, and at their current transgressions and past lapses. We made independent yet simultaneous decisions to mock and boycott.

France even annoyed Colin Powell.

New heights of humour erupted last May when France complained it was the target of untruths and thoughtfully provided us with a list of some of the accusations. Journalists who felt insulted that they were not on the list rushed to file new stories about the perfidious French. (The Wa-Po story even put "American intelligence source" in death quotes throughout the article. Heh.)

The sneers from Old Europe caused many of us to dig out our cowboy boots and strap on our six-guns. We remembered The Cowboy Code, authored by Gene Autry, and became downright dangerous.

We flew our flag. Lots of them. But what looks like jingoism or overweening pride to others is actually a sense of how much we are beholden to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

We instinctively understood that the best way to deal with madmen was to convince them we are crazier than them. And it worked.

None of this would have been possible without the dedication of the troops, both those who are serving now, and those who served unnoticed but faithfully over the years.

We have found our cheerleaders, but they are sober and thoughtful. They inspire, challenge and encourage us to be better.

Our President is not the greatest orator in our history, but we choose substance over glitz. We remembered that Lincoln was, by all contemporary accounts, a poor orator with a voice that grated on the hearers, yet he led our nation through its darkest period and delivered the definitive understanding of what obligation our dead pass onto us, the living, in The Gettysburg Address.

And President Bush echoed that recognition of obligation, committment and sense of purpose in the State of the Union Address:

Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting -- and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated. (Emphasis added for those who think he ignored Israel and the Palestinians.)
So I guess for me, it's all about the things that make me laugh and the things that make me smile - with gratitude and affection - and the things that give me hope.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2004

Youth hockey under attack

Jan. 21 - Dodge ball and musical chairs were banned in California, so I guess it was only a matter of time before hockey came under attack, but in Canada? Nooo! Read The war against fun continues at Daimnation!.

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

Conference on Middle East relations with the USA

Jan. 21 - Ralph Peters writes about an American who attended a conference in Qatar on the Middle East relations with the USA:

He didn't pander. He made America's case and made it well. Beginning with a sometimes-rueful look at the progress his administration had failed to make and noting that the wars that plague the world are begun by men his own age or older, but paid for in blood by the young, he refused to direct one syllable of blame at the Bush administration. Accepted as a citizen of the world, he spoke as a convinced American.

Asked by an eager-to-Bush-bash delegate if he, Bill Clinton, would have behaved differently after 9/11, our former president said he would have followed an identical course, pursuing our enemies into Afghanistan and beyond. Queried about his position on Iraq, he stated that any disagreements he might have would be most appropriately expressed at home in the U.S., not before a foreign audience.

He could have made an easy score. Instead, he did the right thing. Clinton has become the perfect statesman.

Pulling no punches, he made it clear that Yasser Arafat was responsible for the failure to secure a Palestinian state. He refused to trash Israel. While admitting - calculatedly - that the United States remains imperfect, he used rational self-criticism as a starting point to tell his Middle Eastern listeners they needed to look more critically at themselves.

With art and ardor, he scolded the crowd that blaming others for their own failings was useless and destructive - warning that even when others truly are at fault for our misfortunes, wallowing in blame only paralyzes us. Actions, not accusations, change the world.

I still intend to vote for GWB in the '04 election, mostly because I think he is the one to lead America but also because the Anger Genie uncorked by Dean's candidacy will need time to subside before the Democrats can focus on issues, but it is heartening to see that the Democrats have the potential to retain some credibility beyond 2004. And that's good for America.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Colby Cosh explains Canadian politics

Jan. 21 - Colby Cosh has written Part II of his Explanation of Canadian politics which is a must reading for Americans who want to understand Canada and particularly how and why Canada has come to be a one-party state. (Link to Part I here.)

Colby is pithy. Very pithy. He packs meaning into every word, so read it more than once to get the full meaning. He is also quite funny - if you find yourself doing a double take at a particular phrase, he meant to do that!

A key difference between the American and Canadian systems of governance is contained within the Canadian Parliamentary system of government, which among other things means

a) no fixed terms (although elections are to be held every five years at a minimum, they can be suspended by a 2/3 vote in Parliament in time of war, invasion or insurrection,)

b) strict party discipline (voting as the party dictates rather than as your conscience dictates or constituents wish, which makes more sense when taking into account that a failure by the House to pass legislation proposed by the government is a non-confidence vote and means a new elections has just been called: Referendum Canadian style,)

c) the executive and legislative branches are merged (the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers are elected members of parliament and thus also part of the both branches) so there is no Constitutionally mandated separation of powers; also, there are traditional regional quotas for the Cabinet,

d) there is an Upper House known as the Senate, but it's by appointment only and there is no system by which appointees are vetted or approved by the Lower House, known as the Commons,

e) there is a Supreme Court but it too has no system by which appointees are vetted or approved by the Commons,

f) the Notwithstanding Clause which permits, when specifically invoked, a province to pass legislation which is contrary to two key sections of the Charter of Rights concerning personal liberties and legal rights (rights are not held to be inherent,)

g) the right to ownership of private property is not enshrined in the Charter,

h) there is daily practice called "Question Period" during which members of parliament ask Cabinet ministers questions about probes and ongoing business, but is more an opportunity to ask Very Pointed Questions and usually challenges the ministers handling of any given situation from the obscure to the ones of national interests; viewers (it's televised) get to see how quickly MPs can think on their feet. Sometimes it gets a bit, um, contentious, and it totally unlike the tepid grilling by Congressional committees.

A caution: although the Canadian governing system is different, it's just that - different. Like any system of government, it has its strengths and weaknesses, and is dependent on the calibre of leadership by its elected officials.

UPDATE: I fixed the alphabetical sequence, with my usual excuse that I don't proofread well on a monitor.

Posted by Debbye at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

France bans religious beards

Jan. 21 - I felt the need to find a confirmation link to believe this story: France adds beards to list of banned conspicuous religious objects (and found one at the Globe and Mail here.)

Beards which are worn for religious reasons would be banned. The article said that Sikhs might be allowed to wear "discreet turbans."

Bandannas would also be banned if young girls present it as a religious sign.

(Please note that the bans being discussed are for schools and public places, not in public or in homes.)

David Warren has some thoughts on the ban in general here.

UPDATE: Stormy Dragon addresses the problem on how to determine if the beard is religious.

Posted by Debbye at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

Elections in Iran

Jan. 21 - An unspecified number of Cabinet ministers and vice-presidents have resigned to protest the exclusion of thousands of candidates by the Council of Guardians in the upcoming national elections in Iran.

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who must approve the resignations, has also threatened to resign. He is is attending a conference in Switzerland at present.

According to Aljazeera, the ministers will continue to do their jobs awaiting the outcome of the Council's review of the ban.

The conservative political watchdog has barred 3605 of the 8157 people seeking to stand for the 20 February parliamentary polls.

"It is natural that they wait for the outcome of the work" of the Guardians Council, Abtahi said, without naming the cabinet members who had decided to resign.

Abtahi, an outspoken reformer who is also believed to be among those ready to step down, did not say whether the ministers and vice-presidents had set a deadline.

(Aljazeera links via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

Memorial service for MLK used for anti-Israel rant

Jan. 21 - I've been staring at this story for the better part of a half-hour trying to get my temper under control but folks, it ain't gonna happen.

Some asshole in Montrel decided that the best way to commemorate Martin Luther King Day was to take shots at Israel and the Irsraeli consul-general in Montreal had the good sense to protest peacefully by walking out on the rant. (Now that action was a tribute.)

One guess as to how Dr. King would regard the homicide-bombers. One guess as to why the fools who had the audacity to hold a ceremony honouring Dr. King felt it necessary to include someone who does not honour Dr. King.

Rahman said yesterday he has no regrets or apologies to offer, because "from my vantage point it was also a political event."
Opportunism, much? Why again was he even invited? Oh yeah, to be inclusive. All they needed was the KKK for a full house - three Kings and two Jack(asses).
"As a Muslim, I don't make a separation between religion and politics," he said in a phone interview. "Religion and politics are intertwined and there is absolutely no separation for me at all.

"I was there as a representative of my faith community, and I said what was most pressing on my heart.

"If other people were offended by it, it just proves my point - that sometimes people who espouse liberal values, when it rubs them the wrong way, it reveals their liberalism doesn't go very deep at all."

I'm letting that whole "offended" thing pass because I got bigger stuff on my plate, but I'll remember that quote. It should come in handy.

As an American (and someone who actually remembers the King years and heard him speak on multiple occasions) I deeply resent those who would hijack his name for their own fu**ed up agendas. He was and is an American hero, and while it's too bad the "Palestinians" have proven themselves incapable of producing a leader of his stature, maybe they can't because they haven't a grasp of the ideals Dr. King represented.

I'm not talking only about non-violent protest, I'm talking about the stength and courage it took to stand before the police in Selma, Alabama, without indulging in rock throwing and other provocative acts that are selfish in nature as they seek to elevate the individual act above the power of a mass movement.

Politcally correct Canada may chose to forget that he was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but I won't. (That's not to say I object to a Jew or Muslim speaking at a ceremony to honour him, in fact, far from it.)

Dr. King judged on the content of one's character rather than the colour of one's skin. Consider Rahman judged.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)

Whistleblower protections

Jan. 21 - The Public Service Alliance of Canada president is urging PM Martin to protect whistleblowers and tighten controls over free-spending public servants, saying that the excesses are making all federal employees look bad.

The problem perhaps lies with patronage appointees being considered "public servants." Their loyalty is going to be to those who appointed them, and they are often appointed as a reward for their loyalty.

A department is only going to function as well as its head allows, yet the head often is stymied by entrenched public servants who are determined to keep the status quo and the solution often translates to more regulations which means more public servants to enforce regulations which means more members of the Public Service Alliance and that in turn makes their motives somewhat suspicious.

Wasteful and profligate spending is hardly new nor is it restricted to Canada, but it has harmed something Canadians hold very dear - the health care system, and that is making people mad.

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

MFP inquiry to end early

Jan. 21 - It looks as though Toronto Mayor David Miller will accede to a request from the person leading the inquiry, Justice Denise Bellamy that the MFP inquiry end early in order to focus on the second part of the inquiry which is to look at the city's dealings with two US based consulting firms.

The computer system for Toronto was supposed to cost $43 million but the costs grew to $102 million in large part because the previous City Council passed approval of a contract that they didn't read and because the former City Treasurer, Wanda Liczyk was either an easily manipulated idiot or corrupt.

Posted by Debbye at 09:12 AM | Comments (1)

Text for State of Union address

Jan. 21 - The text of the State of the Union address is here.

The Washington Times says Bush urged the U.S. to go forward.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail headline says Bush rejects calls to ease war policy. Worth reading for a glimpse into the primary mind-set of the Canadian media (with, granted, some notable exceptions.)

Aljazeera reports that the Palestinian leaders are not too happy that the president ignored the peace process.

"If he wants democracy in the Middle-East, the most ready area for elections in all forms, both regional and local, is Palestine", Palestinian minister of negotiations, Saib Uraiqat told Aljazeera.net

"Why can't we begin with democracy in Palestine?", Uraiqat asked.

What's stopping them from having elections? I keep hearing that Arafat is the "democratically elected president" there . . .

I caught Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) on CNN this morning, complaining about the speech and uttering the sentiment that Californians want change. Ah me. We know that, Barbara. They voted Gray out and Schwarzenegger in, remember?

David Frum and Richard Perle have a guest op-ed in the NY Times which does not focus on the speech (probably because it was written before the speech) but does focus on foreign policy and asks what the Democrat hopefuls offer as alternatives. (This op-ed ties in particularly well with Donald Sensing's analysis of the Weekly Standard's Nine reasons why we never sent our Special Operations Forces after al Qaeda before 9/11.)

Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald comments on the speech and Belinda Stronach's run for leadership of the Conservative Party.

Mike Stroebel is collecting views on Stronach from the Legion 385 hall.

More articles about Belinda Stronach are here, here, and and even an analysis of Stronach's fashion sense. (Her website is here.)

UPDATE: My bad, I should have included the links for the other candidates for the Conservative Party leadership: Tony Clement (via Let It Bleed) and Stephen Harper which I googled for so hope it is the official page.

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 AM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2004

Kansas Temperature Conversion Chart

Jan. 20 - This is the time of year when we say hopeful stuff like "It's warmer than it was yesterday" and "It has to warm up before it can snow."

Dedicated smokers have their own definitive line on cold, namely when someone admits It's too cold to finish this cigarette, so let's head back in.

I was sent this KANSAS CONVERSION CHART recently, which is very similar to the Canadian one our Caper friends sent out:

California issues a heat alert and allows no one outside of their house.
Kansans go for a nice cool run.

South Dakotans call their dogs inside.
Kansans turn off their air conditioning and open the windows.

70 - 80 DEGREES
There's no such thing in Kansas

New Yorkers turn on the heat.
Kansas folks plant their gardens.

Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Kansans sunbathe.

Canadian version

50° Fahrenheit (10° C)
Californians shiver uncontrollably,
Canadians plant gardens.

Italian cars won't start.
Kansas people drive with their car windows open.

Distilled water freezes.
Shawnee Lake's water gets thicker.

Floridians wear coats, gloves and woolly hats.
Kansas people throw on a sweatshirt.

New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
Kansas people have their final cookout before it gets cold.

People in Miami cease to exist.
Kansas people lick the flagpole.

Californians fly to get warm in Mexico.
Kansas people get out their winter coats.

Hollywood disintegrates.
Kansas Girl Scouts begin selling cookies door to door.

Canadian version:

-60° Fahrenheit (-51° C)
Mt. St. Helens freezes,
Canadians Girl Guides sell cookies door to door.

Polar bears begin to evacuate Antarctica.
Kansas Boy Scouts postpone Winter Survival classes until it's cold enough.

Mount St. Helen's freezes.
Kansas people rent some videos.

Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Kansas people are frustrated because they can't thaw the keg.

Canadian version:

-100° Fahrenheit (-73° C)
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole,
Ottawa canal opens for skating.

-173° Fahrenheit (-114° C)
Ethyl alcohol freezes,
Canadians get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg.

Microbial life survives on dairy products.
Kansas cows complain that farmers have cold hands.

ALL atomic motion stops.
Kansas people start saying...."Cold 'nuff for ya?"

Canadian version

-460° Fahrenheit (-273° C)
Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops,
Canadians start saying "cold eh?"

-500° Fahrenheit (-295° C)
Hell freezes over,
Leafs win Stanley Cup.

Hell freezes over.
The Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl.

Posted by Debbye at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday, Mom

Jan. 20 - A personal note to say Happy Birthday to my Mom, who is a terrific lady, wonderful Grammy, proud Red Hat and the terror of SF Bay Area highway commuters. (I'm probably out of the will for sure now!)

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

Israeli planes attack Lebanese Hezbollah targets

Jan. 20 - Israeli planes attack south Lebanon: TV report:

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli planes attacked Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon on Tuesday, Israeli military officials said, a day after the guerrilla group killed an Israeli soldier.

The Israeli strike hit Hezbollah bases in the Bekaa Valley, the area of south Lebanon closest to the Syrian border, the officials said on condition of anonymity. There were no immediate reports of casualties. At least four explosions were heard in the strikes, Israel's Channel Two television reported.

Hezbollah guerrillas on Monday fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli bulldozer clearing explosives, killing an Israeli soldier and seriously wounding another. The group said the vehicle entered Lebanese territory.

There's nothing on the CNN and Fox is carrying exactly the same dispatch as CN News.

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

Dallaire testifies

Jan. 20 - The testimony of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire at the trials of 4 officers accused of orchestrating genocide during the Rwandan massacres of 1994 for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is grim and horrifying in its starkness.

Read both articles.

Posted by Debbye at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Traditional Poe birthday observances

Jan. 20 - Adherence to tradition can involve some sticky ethical quandries: for the past 56 years, someone has snuck into the graveyard on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday and placed a bottle of French cognac and three roses on his grave.

This year the tradition was again followed, but the midnight visitor left a note:

"The sacred memory of Poe and his final resting place is no place for French cognac," the note read. "With great reluctance but for respect for family tradition the cognac is placed. The memory of Poe shall live evermore!"

Posted by Debbye at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Jan. 20 - When I read people who criticize the US failure to find Osama bin Laden, I think that they're missing the point of what constitutes patience and determination, and this, Czech man Nazi war criminal?, is an example of not only those traits but also unwavering resolve to track down and dispense justice to those who have committed crimes against humanity.

There is no statute of limitations for the crime of murder. That alone indicates how seriously we view the taking of one human life, much less hundreds or hundreds of thousands.

I think the Iraqis understand that too.

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

Norman Steinberg, Ethics Czar

Jan. 20 - Irony again: Poobah praised:

OTTAWA -- Public Works' embattled ethics czar Norman Steinberg, who billed taxpayers over $22,000 for a state-of-the-art entertainment system, was awarded the "strong ethical performance" award last year by the Liberal government. Steinberg and his team of auditors were honoured by former public works minister Ralph Goodale for their good work in uncovering mis-spending in the now-defunct federal sponsorship program.
The worst part? As I read this article and the one from yesterday, I couldn't help thinking that what Mr. Steinberg spent is peanuts compared to others.

Posted by Debbye at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Police connections to organized crime

Jan. 20 - There are three articles in today's Sun (Wound widens, Cop 'willingly' laundered money: RCMP and Unfair trial feared) about the current investigation of police corruption which indicate that earlier announcements on the findings of the probe may have been understated.

I don't know, maybe I've seen The Untouchables too many times, but I've always assumed that organized crime and large scale drug operations had to have, well, accomplices on the police forces (including the RCMP,) in the judiciary, at the airports, and in Customs at the very least.

It goes without saying that although it's good that this kind of corruption is exposed and excised, it is going to hurt the credibility of all the honest law enforcement personnel most.

UPDATE: Toronto police chief Julian Fantino responds and says the investigation is not over and internal police charges are pending against more officers.

Posted by Debbye at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2004

Canadians in Afghanistan

Jan. 19 - Canucks bag 16 in Kabul drug raid in a departure from previous actions. Excerpts:

KABUL -- Canadian soldiers launched an early morning raid yesterday on a compound in Kabul, arresting suspected terrorists and seizing drugs, cash and weapons in their first offensive action since arriving in Afghanistan last August. After quietly surrounding the compound in the city's south end, it took just seconds for the armed soldiers to scale its three-metre-high, mud-brick walls and rush the buildings inside.

Nearly 200 soldiers, in concert with Kabul police, launched the raid with the hope of capturing some of the city's most notorious drug lords.

The raid ended with the arrest of 16 men, ranging in age from 16 to 70, who are suspected of participating in the thriving drug trade that fuels terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.

Canadian military officials, citing intelligence sources, linked at least some of the men to Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, founder of the radical Muslim terrorist group Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin, an organization with long-established ties to Osama bin Laden.

Two AK-47 assault rifles were seized during the raid, along with several large plastic bags stuffed with unknown quantities of money and drugs.

One soldier was injured during the raid. Never forget those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie on History Channel

Jan. 19 - Did anyone else watch Timelines: Century of Conflict last Saturday on the (Canadian) History channel? We saw it by accident, as Mark was channel surfing, and paused when I asked "is that Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie?" Both MacKenzie and the program were outstanding and much of what was said goes to the heart of the debate over the viability of the U.N. (especially when they send peacekeepers into zones - Bosnia, Rwanda - that are determined to continue warmaking as well as the political and military failure in Somalia.)

In today's news is an announcement that Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire will testify today in the trial of 4 Rwandan army officers who are said to have "masterminded" the slaughter in Rwanda:

Several months before the mass killings began, Dallaire had warned the UN about escalating hostilities and had sought to raid a Hutu militia arms cache. He was overruled by UN headquarters in New York.
500,000 people are estimated to have been butchered in Rwanda in 1994.

UPDATE: As Paul points out in the comments, Dallaire himself believes that the true figure of the massacre was likely 800,000 people, and it was done without guns. I should also like to point out that machetes were the weapon of choice in last year's massacres in the Congo.

Posted by Debbye at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Norman Steinberg, Ethics Czar

Jan. 19 - (Don't blame me for the plethora of happy spending news items, I just record what's in today's paper.) Public Works Ethics Commissioner Norman Steinberg tab $86Gs for attending 33 conferences. Money quote:

He said he travels a lot to talk about values and ethics, but would prefer staying in Ottawa.
Hmm, I suspect his speeches went over a lot better abroad than they will this week.

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

RCMP lost track of millions

Jan. 19 - RCMP lost track of millions of dollars worth of items purchased for the G-8 summit in Alberta in 2002, which leads me to conclude I simply must get a government job.

The RCMP lost track of millions of dollars' worth of items purchased for the G-8 summit in Alberta, a newly released report reveals. An internal review team found the Mounties were left scratching their heads about what they actually bought for the June 2002 event, how much they had, and in some cases where it was.

"We have identified several weaknesses with respect to the management and tracking of the inventory during the G-8 summit in Kananaskis," the audit report says.

Ya' think? This is the federal police force here, and it took them over a year to realize that millions of dollars worth of inventory was missing?
Items worth more than $1,000 are supposed to be listed according to price, quantity and date of purchase. In this case, however, a list was compiled only after the summit rather than from the moment of purchase.
This wasn't exactly a last minute meeting, and disruptions at previous G8 summits made it a high priority security nightmare even before Sept. 11. How did they get to bypass silly things like Purchase Requisitions with the mandatory approving signatures, receipts, and line entry bookkeeping?

Forget the job, I want these guys to do my taxes. And if I'm audited, I can emit a silly giggle and admit that I have identified several weaknesses with respect to my management and tracking of my deductibles etc. and demand they forgive any back taxes I may owe.

And people really think that the government can do a better job as administrators of our money than private citizens and corporations?

Posted by Debbye at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

Army uniforms that fit

Jan. 19 - The one-size fits all uniform has given rise to of a lot of army jokes, and at least one song:

The clothes that they give you they say are mighty fine
But me and my buddy can both fit into mine.

(Argh, I can't remember who wrote it, although I'm fairly certain I heard Leadbelly sing it)
The Canadian Armed Forces is determined to shed that particular image (Privates on parade for new uniforms):
"It can be very expensive in the long run," he said. "My estimate is we're going to save millions on this."

So Meunier designed a computer system at the military research labs in Toronto that scans the body of stripped-down soldiers with the help of two digital cameras and determines what size is needed in more than two dozen pieces of clothing and equipment in seconds.

He said the soldiers strip in a booth and the photos are later deleted from the system.

So far the military has bought four systems at $50,000 each and is placing an order for another eight, for a total of $600,000. The military plans to have a system at all its major bases within two years.

I'm guessing the millions of dollars they used to spend was due to their willingness nowadays to replace ill-fitting boots and uniforms. That really would be progress!

More seriously, it may be that Canada is beginning to look at the military more seriously, as well as international relations as a whole:

[Canadian Def. Min. David] Pratt said the government is working to develop a new set of international policy priorities, with Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham leading the review.

Pratt said "the outcome of this review will be a modernization of Canada's defence, development and trade and investment strategies."

David Pratt is said to have supported US action in Iraq, and Bill Graham is, well, Bill Graham, best known for a) accepting the Iranian official explanation that Zahra Kazemi fell down and hurt herself and b) assumed the Saudis were being honest when they assured him that Bill Sampson couldn't possibly have been tortured because that would go against the teachings of the Koran.

In other military matters, it seems that the military won't be denied upgraded equipment despite the federal spending freeze as the Stryker program remains on track.

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

Visiting ships had feds worries

Jan. 19 - Canadian federal officials began to keep tabs on US Coast Guard ships in Canadian waters shortly after Sept. 11 due to concerns that they could be terrorist targets (Visiting U.S. ships had feds worried.) That seems like common sense, but what struck my whimsy was the closing quote:

The surveillance was discontinued soon after it started and a coast guard spokesman denies there was any imminent threat.

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2004

Intelligence Screw-ups in Air India case

Jan. 18 - Sometimes reading the news from the US and Canada gives me a raging headache, especially when I have to read about the same screw-ups in both countries: RCMP owns up to mistakes that slowed the costly Air India investigation:

Canada's spy agency [CSIS] has been roasted for destroying evidence against several co-conspirators without disclosing information about it to the RCMP. But new details about how the RCMP allowed petty personality conflicts and bureaucracy trip up the investigation are now coming to light.
329 souls were blasted out of the sky in a bomb that was put aboard a plane leaving Vancouver in 1985.

Posted by Debbye at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian Supreme Court to rule on spankings

Jan. 18 - The Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether parents and educators are allowed to use physical force - including spanking - in disciplining children. No surprise that a great many people are lined up on either side of this debate (Advocates want rules to be clear.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:29 PM | Comments (1)

T.O. Muslims support right to be veiled

Jan. 18 - T.O. Muslims join fight for veil:

Chanting "Whatever we wear, however we pray, human rights are here to stay," about 150 Toronto Muslims yesterday protested the French government's plan to ban religious headgear from its schools. The protest outside the French consulate on Bloor St. coincided with rallies staged around the world yesterday, including one in Paris that drew at least 10,000 people.

From Baghdad and Beirut to London and Stockholm, demonstrators condemned the law as an attack on religious freedom.


In Ottawa, more than 150 people marched on the French Embassy and 50 came out in Montreal.

Sarah Elgazzar, a spokesman for Montreal's United Muslim Students Association, said the bill is "dangerous. It could deny people access to education and jobs. I'm afraid the same thing could happen here."

In London, 2,400 people demonstrated near the French Embassy. About 2,000 marched in Stockholm.

In the Mideast, the largest turnout was in Beirut -- 2,500 people marched.

These numbers seem incredibly small to me.

UPDATE: Fox has more. Jay Currie notes that a Globe and Mail mentioned that the organizer of the demonstration was Hezbollah-sympathizing Muslim Party of France and that's why many didn't attend, but the Fox article says that ... the huge Union of Islamic Organizations of France, a fundamentalist group, gave its blessing and encouraged people to take part.

The small numbers in the Arab world are what piques my curiosity. Does the Arab street only turn out when demonstrations are government sanctioned, is it apathetic in this matter, or are there other considerations involved?

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

Norman Steinberg, Ethics Czar and big spender

Jan. 18 - Who says there is no irony? 19Gs TV for head of etchics

OTTAWA -- The chief of ethics for Public Works billed taxpayers for a $19,000 plasma TV and almost $60,000 worth of computers and software since 1999, Sun Media has learned. According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, Norman Steinberg, director general of audits and ethics at Public Works, bought a state-of-the-art entertainment system for $22,181 in 2002. That includes a Pioneer gas plasma TV, a Yamaha amplifier, speakers, a DVD player and a VCR.

And to enhance the enjoyment of the 50-inch wall-mounted TV in Steinberg's office, eight chairs and a two-seater sofa were bought for $6,400, invoices show.

Steinberg also replaced both his office computer and his laptop -- a $3,200 Sony VAIO Picture Book -- three times since 1999.

Steinberg explained the TV purchase stating that he uses monthly Webcast viewings to train staff, and that the expenditures are less expensive than sending staff away for training seminars.

UPDATE: Evidently, Mr. Steinberg allowed himself to go on training seminars, spending $86,000 on 33 conferences.

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

George Radwanski sage continues

Jan. 18 - Criminal investigations have begun in a case that started last September Cops probe George Radwanski, the former privacy commissioner of Canada (see here for links to back taxes written off by CCRA, accusations of bullying subordinatores, and highlights of the Auditor General's Report on Radwanski and others.)

In this new investigation, some are predicting that it will lead straight to the Prime Minister's Office because Chretien appointed Radwanski, although I suspect it unlikely that Chretien wouldn't be allowed to shrug it off:

"I believe this investigation will lead the RCMP right to the door of the PMO, who hired Radwanski in spite of having to know about his tax status," said New Democrat Pat Martin, one of the MPs who helped crack open the Radwanski scandal.

"They allowed this situation to fester and deteriorate until the government operations committee stumbled upon it," added Martin.

Although the criminal probe has been confirmed, it is not known how many people are being investigated.

Radwanski used to be the editor of the Toronto Star.

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

New Blog Showcase

Jan. 18 - The conversation in the post on Crows and Ravens in Ivy is here made me laugh. Never have this kind of conversation with someone who prefers things stated cleanly. FWIW, my Mark thought the author should have consulted a bird book before writing about crows and ravens, and was more interested in wondering if a flock of ravens was also termed a murder.

Note that this is the same man who can argue for hours about the varying deficiencies and advantages of different baseballs, so it's not as thought he can't grasp subtlety.

UPDATE: Hmm, I'm not sure the url is right because my vote wasn't counted. Anyway, the post may be blogspotted, so try Ctrl+F "Ravens."

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

January 16, 2004

Salim Mansur

Jan. 16 - Salim Mansur has a new column in today's Toronto Sun (The bloody struggle for Islam's soul) in which looks at an internal struggle between Muslims, with one group viewing their religion as a personal faith capable of assimilating values of democracy, and the other which "nationalized" Islam into a political movement:

This perverted version of "nationalized" Islam is also totalitarian. It has been subsidized by oil money and organized by men controlling, or influencing, state power.

The reduction of faith into a political ideology by Muslim fundamentalists was a deliberate program of wrecking Islam's message of peace and coexistence, and out of that wreckage, to shape a weapon of hate and war.


Well before 9/11, this global war was in full swing. Only then, the victims were primarily those Muslims reluctant to acquiesce in the program of Muslim fundamentalists.

He concludes by asking why so many North Americans remain in denial about the nature and existence of this war.

I think the answer is actually very simple: it goes against Western values for people like me - Christians - to think we can intervene and settle disputes within other people's religions. We have boundaries on what we will and will not criticize, and the freedom for people to worship as they chose is one of our most sacred values. [Please don't bring up Jerry Falwell: I defend his right to speak and my right to ignore him.]

I don't see how we can be true to our principles unless we limit our criticism to those who have chosen to politicize religion.

In the same vein, I think that's why the response of the BBC's handling of the Kilroy-Silk column was met with outrage: we do retain the right to criticize Arab states, and that the best defense offered was to point out that Arabs created mathematics and invented alcohol seemed to make Kilroy-Silk's case rather than refute it.

Posted by Debbye at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

Hamas promotes female Islamakazis

Jan. 16 - Hamas has taken a Bold!New! step in permitting women to be Islamakazis (Bomber mom buried as hero.)

"It is not enough to call her a hero. Calling her hero does not give the whole truth. This woman abandoned her husband and children to win paradise," Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said in the eulogy.
But just what did she accomplish? Jay Currie has a good analysis of the intent behind the Hamas decision to hit a checkpoint that was open with the express purpose of allowing Palestinians to go to their jobs, collect paycheques, and put bread on the table (Feckless in Gaza) and makes the case that this was less heroism and more calculation to inflict more misery on the Palestinians.

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2004

US Relationship with Saddam

Jan. 15 - This is Part II of Darren Kaplan's The U.S. Relationship With Saddam--Fantasy vs. Reality Part II.

(Part I is here.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:35 PM | Comments (2)

Linky links

Jan. 15 - Jaeger doesn't like the cold up there in Gatineau, and has some very positive things to say about global warming.

Miscellaneous, etc. has snow haiku.

The evil attack squirrel of death attacks innocent biker! Really!

Above link was via Paul, who has some thoughts about the departure of Carol Mosely Braun from the campaign trail.

Damon has little empathy for Dean.

Doggerel Pundit asks Who Is Wretchard in Crouching Trochee - Hidden Writer. (Read The Ballad of Wretchard too.)

The Lemon reports that Howard Dean Leading the Polls in Europe.

SatireWire reports that Jupiter Is Doing Something Wrong.

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

Dennis Miller

Jan. 15 - Dennis Miller, probably best known for ending the SNL News with his trademark "And I am out of here!" will soon be hosting a nightly show on CNBC starting Jan. 26 at 9 pm. (I'm assuming that those of us in Canada who can receive the cable station will be able to pick it up.)

Mr. Miller is my kind of whatever it is people call people like me are called (South Park Republican is probably the best well-known) because he believes in individual rights.

Mr. Miller is also not a traditional conservative. "I've always been a pragmatist," he said. "If two gay guys want to get married, it's none of my business. I could care less. More power to them. I'm happy when people fall in love. But if some idiot foreign terrorist wants to blow up their wedding to make a political statement, I would rather kill him before he can do it, or have my country kill him before he can do it, instead of having him do it and punishing him after the fact. If that makes me a right-wing fanatic, I will bask in that assignation."

Mr. Miller said he remained socially liberal. "I think abortion's wrong, but it's none of my business to tell somebody what's wrong," he said. "So I'm pro-choice. I want to keep my nose out of other people's personal business. I guess I fall into conservative when it comes to protecting the United States in a world where a lot of people hate the United States."

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

Immigration in the US

Jan. 15 - I have a very good reason to be low-key on Canadian problems with immigration: the record in the US isn't much better.

>From Right Wing News: The Illegal Alien Crime Wave and 3 Illegal Immigration Myths.

Posted by Debbye at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

More work

Jan. 14 - The title says it all: the reward for a job well done is, as everyone knows, getting assigned to do something similar but harder.

I flirted briefly with the notion of trying to excuse myself due to excessive rabble-rousing, but there are bills to pay and kids to educate and A Good Example to be Set and besides, I do enjoy a challenge.

I should be finished by tomorrow morning, so adios for now.

Posted by Debbye at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

US Relationship with Saddam

Jan. 14 - Some myths just won't die. It doesn't matter how often they get staked, they seem to come back more often than Darla (gratuitous Buffy-Angel gripe. Or insert LaCroix for some CanCon.)

For yet another rebuttal to the myth that the US propped up or created Saddam, this post from Darren Kaplan looks at just the facts: The U.S. Relationship With Saddam--Fantasy vs. Reality.

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

Arise Jacksonians!

Jan. 14 - In THE SLEEP OF THE JACKSONIANS (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT), Bill Whittle assigned homework: to read and consider Walter Read's The Jacksonian Tradition thoughtfully preserved by Steven Den Beste.

Bill's accompanying post posed some new challenges for Americans, and he's living up to a promise he made in that post with the new Build An American Ideal! promo pack.

Caution: Place tongue firmly in cheek but remain in control so as to remove it when required. Do not mistake well-directed satire for a lack of sincerity or earnestness.

Posted by Debbye at 01:46 PM | Comments (1)

Euro-terror news

Jan. 14 - Instapundit has a partial round-up of "Euro-terror news" and some links to terror activity in Thailand which seems to be of an Islamist nature.

Little Green Footballs links to a piece in The Observer Terror cells regroup - and now their target is Europe which has a summary of some key arrests in Europe, the emergence of groups in Eastern Europe, and provides a useful table:

The targets, the death toll and the suspects

Istanbul November 2003, 62 dead
Target: British consulate and bank, synagogues
Suspect: Local Islamic group thought to be linked to al-Qaeda or Abu Musab Zarqawi

Baghdad August-October 2003, 50 dead
Target: Al-Rasheed hotel, UN and Red Cross headquarters.
Suspect: European suicide bombers believed to have been recruited by Mullah Fouad in Syria.

Casablanca May 2003, 41 dead
Target: Jewish community centre and Spanish social club
Suspect: Local Islamic group. The authorities want to interview a Moroccan cleric, Mohammed al-Garbuzi, who is believed to be in Britain.

Riyadh May 2003, 34 dead
Target: Luxury compounds in Saudi capital
Suspect: Swiss arrest an eight-strong 'logistics cell'.

Mombasa November 2002, 16 dead
Target: Israeli tourists at Paradise hotel
Suspect: Kenyan Islamic cell. Some funds allegedly provided by a Somali-born militant living in London, arrested in Milan and 'a part of Zarqawi's cell'.

Little Green Footballs also has information about the Cleveland arrest of Imam Fawaz Mohammed Damrah.

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

PA money problems

Jan. 14 - Palestinians borrowing to meet payroll:

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Hit by waning support from donor nations, the Palestinian Authority said yesterday it has been forced to borrow from banks to pay its 125,000 employees and may be unable to meet its February payroll. With unemployment rampant outside the public payroll, Palestinians could be facing unprecedented economic collapse after three years of conflict with Israel.
One of the donor nations that stopped contributing is Iraq.

Maybe this would be a good time for Arafat to dip into the special account he and his chief economic adviser control:

There have been charges of corruption and mismanagement in the Palestinian Authority. In a special annual issue of Forbes Magazine, Arafat was reported to control $US300 million ($A451.33 million), making him among one of the richest in its category of "Kings, Queens and Despots".

Nashashibi said the revenues were diverted from the budget to a special account controlled by Arafat and his chief economic adviser.

"We estimated that amount to be around US$900 million over a period of five years," the IMF official said.

He said that the Palestinian Authority was involved in 69 commercial activities, both at home and abroad, worth an estimated $US700 million ($A1.05 billion) in today's market prices, "which probably in '99 were US$900 million".

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

January 13, 2004

Jay Currie

Jan. 13 - Jay Currie has an interesting article up over at Tech Central Station Virtual Israelis. Well worth reading.

Posted by Debbye at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

Elections in Iran

Jan. 13 - It would appear that President Khatami is prepared to do the only principled thing left given the Council of Guardian's continued ban of hundreds of candidates from the upcoming national elections in Iran: Iran's cabinet may dissolve. If I'm reading between the lines at all accurately, Khatami recognizes that the upcoming elections will be a sham, and he and his supporters have decided not to provide window dressing to the conflict between the reformists and the Council any longer.

Khatami's reformist forces lost ground in last year's regional elections. There was reportedly a very low turnout, and many Western analysts felt that it was in reaction to the failure of the reformists to get meaningful legislation past the Council of Guardians.

For a little more background on the growing resistance to the Council's ban, read this and follow the links. Also, keep checking over at On the Third Hand for on-going analysis from someone who has been keeping on top of events in Iran.

I'd like to think that the Council is finding itself more and more isolated both within and without; recent events as the international response to the arrest of Iranian bloggers (which seemed to have surprised them) and their inadequate response to the horrendous earthquake of last month only heightened the growing discontent evidenced in last summer's student demonstrations.

I'm a deep-dyed in the wool cynic. When the Iranian government announced it would open its nuclear sites for inspection, I wanted to keep an eye on what the other hand was doing but didn't expect an internal move.

It would appear that thwarting the democratic process was the card they chose to play, but it does seem a desparate move given how successful they've been thus far at nullifying attempts at reform. I'm thinking there's a hidden piece of information for them to launch an attack on the democratic process in Iran, although it could also be good, old-fashioned hubris.

Or it could be the threat of democratic, consensual government in Iraq.

One suggestion: now would be a good time for the Canadian government to use some soft diplomacy to re-raise the issue of Zahra Kazemi's death and the laggardly investigation, and yes, I am quite serious. Soft diplomacy is but one tool among many, and doing something the Council doesn't expect (expecially from an unlikely source) would be one more pressure point on the beleaguered Council and would express international solidarity with Khatami's limited reform without being overly confrontational.

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

Gigantic grow operation

Jan. 13 - The spirit of free enterprise is alive and well up here, and the proof is in the gigantic grow operation found in an abandoned factory just outside of Barrie (about a half-hour drive from Toronto) that looks to set a new record for marijuana grow houses (Roach motel.)

"It's not the distinction the City of Barrie was hoping for," Barrie Police Chief Wayne Frechette said yesterday.

"I was astounded with the sophistication and size of this operation," he said.

That really is the point, isn't it? Someone ran a tight, well-disciplined operation indicating a flair for business that we tend to think of as a good thing but he/she will get jail time because they applied that talent to an operation outside the law.

If they'd just pay for their own hydro, darn it.

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

January 12, 2004

Quick hits

Jan. 12 - I had a major report to finish, but got distracted by some fantastic football yesterday. Although the report is done and sent off I am still behind on my correspondence so my apologies to those I owe responses to and I should be able to get caught up by tomorrow.

The comments seem to be down. Oh well, you get what you pay for, as they say. Is there a halo-scan equivalent to the euphremism "blogspotted"?

In honour of the Toronto District School Board we had a snowball fight this morning (it was a draw.)

I found a terrific article through Jack's Newswatch which helped answer a question that's been nagging at me a couple of weeks (see below.)

By the way, Jack has altered the format of the newswatch a bit to give some information about each link. It's a good, one-stop Canadian news and opinion source so check it daily.

Day by Day has a beauty today.

In other news, U.S. Begins Hoofprinting Canadian Cows at Border over the protests of Canadian bovine-rights advocates over what they called "xenophobic species-profiling."

A new episode of Angel is on tonight, so I'll probably watch it, swearing all the while that it will be the last episode I watch if it doesn't measure up. Next week's episode is going to be Harmony-centric so I guess tonight had better be good. Still, we lost Firefly to save Angel? There is no justice.

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

Veiled Threat in France

Jan. 12 - The Weekly Standard has an interesting piece by Christopher Caldwell (Veiled Threat) that explores the proposed ban on headscarves and the wearing of other religious symbols in French schools, hospitals and other public places.

He tells us that which has been well documented, i.e., that Muslim (predominantly Arab) immigrants have not been assimilated into French society and the workplace:

France is now about 10 percent Muslim. Some set the Muslim population (almost all of it Arab) at 5 million, others at 8 million. But all agree that the Muslims are disproportionately (even unconscionably) poor, clustered in housing projects surrounding France's biggest cities, victimized by discrimination, and ravaged by unemployment and increasingly crime. Young men of Arab descent (beurs, as they're called) have been responsible for a lot of that crime, including the vast majority of the hundreds of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France over the last three years, and for much of an epidemic unruliness in France's schools.
Part of that description is one Americans can relate to as it mirrors the experience of black Americans who migrated north after WWII: ghettoes, substandard schools, and job insecurity or widespread under- and unemployment. In other words, Jim Crow legislated segregation was replaced by de facto segregation, which, though not given the status of a legal code, was nonetheless real.

That is probably why there is widespread skepticism that banning conspicuous religious symbols will somehow solve a problem that is rooted in poverty and bigotry - bigotry towards them and their bigotry towards Jews.

The point of departure with the black experience in America is in fact the hundreds of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, and even though there was derision when the EU tabled its own report on anti-Semitism, it's been argued that banning the wearing of obvious religious symbols was how the French government planned to address active anti-Semitism. Back to the schools:

In "The Lost Territories of the Republic," the sociologist Emmanuel Brenner made an inventory of such classroom incidents [unruliness in France's schools] --kids guffawing through lectures on the Holocaust, teachers subjected to ethnic taunts, humiliation of girls--that is reported to have shocked Jacques Chirac profoundly. So the veil is to the French imagination what graffiti were to the American imagination in the late 1970s: harmless per se, yet a marking of territory, sparking fear that those willing to do harm are in the neighborhood.
Education isn't the answer to resolve bigory, evidently, and the comparison to inner-city gangs is not far off, according to Theodore Dalrymple's The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris, but as his article also looks at what befalls Muslim girls who do not wear the headscarves, there is indeed an unpleasant connection between headscarves and gang colours. But again, how is banning an article of female clothing going to resolve anti-Semitism as well as the unemployment and poverty of those neighbourhoods?

Actually, there is a logic behind the ban which is rooted in French history.

Although cultural relativism has come under intense fire these past two years, it does have its value. It is hard for Americans to understand the French insistence on secularism for the very simple reason that the establishment of the Church of England under Henry VIII provided the US with two degrees of seperation from the Catholic Church and the founding of the American colonies provided one degree of seperation from the Church of England.

Although religion plays an important part in American life, no one religion, denomination or sect dominates to the exclusion of any other. We have our bigots, and we even have outspoken members of what is called the religious right, but we label them for what they are and certainly, as in the case of the Iraq War, they do not sway US foreign policy. (I think it's fair to say that this also true in Canada.) Our political leaders may proclaim their faith, but would never attempt to impose their faith on others. The experience in France has been far different, and secularism needed to be promoted in response to a very specific problem:

In 1905, the [Catholic] church was reactionary; it possessed enormous state power through its control of the schools; and enormous power to influence elections through its assets and its authority to excommunicate and preach. These factors had come together to permit the church to play a central role--as both propagandist and backroom string-puller--in denying justice to Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish career officer framed on charges of spying for Germany and sentenced to exile.
So there is the connection: institutionalized secularism was successfully used to defuse Catholic church-led anti-Semitism, so institutionalized secularism is to be used to defuse Islamic-led anti-Semitism.

It still seems a bit fanciful until Caldwell brings up a real example, the French Muslims' party (PMF) is the organizer of an upcoming demonstration against the headscarf ban January 17. Religious parties are not allowed under French secularism, but the PMF is what Caldwell refers to as an ad-hoc exception and notes that it is not a religious party but a party of which much of the platform is based on anti-Semitism.

[PMF founder Mohammed Ennacer] Latreche was the subject of a telling profile in early January by the journalists Blandine Grosjean and Olivier Vogel of Liberation, in which it was noted that he has taken to referring to France's Socialist party as the Zionist party, and now associates with one of France's notorious Holocaust deniers. He coedited a work called "The Judeo-Nazi Manifesto of Ariel Sharon" and took several Parisian youths to Baghdad to serve as human shields before the invasion of Iraq. "Fear is going to have to change sides," Liberation quoted Latreche as saying. "It's going to have to pass from the side of veiled women to the side of those politicians who are going to vote for this law."

In a sense, this is exactly what France has bargained for in transforming a serious religious problem into a serious political problem. And it is a good bargain, too, making it possible to refer Latreche-style outrages to the police, arresting the violent, and leaving in peace those who practice their religion inoffensively. But none of this is as easy as it sounds.

So I can begin to see their logic (although I don't quite understand why the police could not be called in earlier given France's hate crime laws) which is to lay down a challenge to determine which is supreme: requirements of religion, or requirements of the state.

In an interesting turn of events, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the Grand Mufti of the al-Azhar mosque in Cairo and the foremost authority in Sunni Islam, supported France's right to ban conspicuous religious symbols, and said that although Muslim women were required to wear headscarves, that obligation only applied to those living in Muslim countries.

Caldwell then addresses something that has been nibbling at the edges these past two years:

PERHAPS WE ASSUME too much in asserting that the open democratic republics of the West are compatible with "religion." We know empirically only that they are compatible with Protestantism, Judaism, and Catholicism. It is no insult to Islam to say that it may not be as assimilable into a regime of lacite as Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism were--because there is little historical evidence that Islam can be effectively or sincerely practiced only in private.
My long-time response remains the same: Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism worked at being compatible, and, in many cases, are still working on it, and there is no reason Islam cannot do the same if it choses to work at it and that includes actively rooting out anti-Semitism.

Caldwell asks:

WHAT LESSONS has America drawn from this episode? None. It has decided to gloat instead. ..

... One can prefer the American means of dealing with religious diversity and still question the smug assumption that America's constitutional order could easily cope with the facts on the ground that exist in France--i.e., the equivalent of, in this country, some 30 million rapidly radicalizing Muslims, concentrated in a handful of pivotal cities.

Mea culpa. My initial reaction was astonishment, although I did try to find the logic behind the ban. Moreover, what do we really have to gloat about? There have been skirmishes in the US over the veil, in particular in the question of whether to remove the veil for identification photographs or upon request by the police or security personnel, so that particular issue has already come up and the veil lost.

Interesting times.

(Weekly Standard link via Jack's Newswatch.)

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

January 11, 2004

Robert Kilroy-Silk

Jan. 11 - The suspension of Robert Kilroy-Silk is causing more ripples: BBC chiefs accused of 'double standards' over TV presenter:

The BBC was accused last night of operating double standards over its suspension of Robert Kilroy-Silk for his comments about Arabs while it continues to use a contributor who has called for Israelis to be killed.

Tom Paulin, the poet and Oxford don, has continued to be a regular contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review arts programme, despite being quoted in an Egyptian newspaper as saying that Jews living in the Israeli-occupied territories were "Nazis" who should be "shot dead".

Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP, said he found it hard to understand why the BBC had moved against Mr Kilroy-Silk but had not taken any action against Mr Paulin.

"I am not defending anything Mr Kilroy-Silk has said, but I was greatly upset by what Mr Paulin said, and I think the rules should apply to people equally," said Mr Dismore. "Mr Paulin said awful things about Israel and Jewish people. He should have been kept off BBC screens while his own comments were investigated. I was surprised that that did not happen. It smacks of double standards on the part of the BBC."

Mr Paulin made his comments in the Egyptian weekly newspaper Al-Ahram almost two years ago, saying that US-born settlers in the occupied territories should be shot dead. "I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them," he said, adding: "I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all."

Expat Yank reports that the BBC page contains Kilroy-Silk's response:
BBC presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk has argued that he has a right to say "there are Arab states that are evil, despotic and treat women abominably".
Don't those of us who believe in human and especially women's rights have a duty to criticize states that violate those rights?

Tim Blair links to the Board of Management of Arab Press Freedom Watch head Egyptian Ibrahim Nawar who supports many of the statements of Kilroy-Silk as well as his right to make them.

Posted by Debbye at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)


Jan. 10 - Indiscriminately following links often gets good results, as in this Canadian blogger who has obligingly translated Chirac-English/English-Chirac which is extremely funny (but where was he when I needed help translating Chretien into any known language?)

He too expresses his outrage about the incomprehensible ban on visible religious symbols in French schools (read crackdown on Muslim girls wearing head scarves) but as I wanted answers, not validation, I'll make do with some pretty well-targeted satire:

But then explain to me how that, in any way, applies to students in a school? Are the religious freedoms of Jean-Pierre the Catholic in some way polluted by the presence of Amal, the strict Muslim? Is her head scarf radiating some kind of religious intolerance that says, "Jean-Pierre, I deny you your right to Easter and Christmas and the Seven Sacraments", merely by its presence? Will Eliad's skullcap somehow destroy his teacher's ability to maintain control of his class, with such blatant religiousity in full view of the other students? I've got to be missing something.
What am I missing? That's actually been the general reaction. If anyone has found that something that everyone else has missed, they aren't admitting it.

Maybe Mike can follow-up with the story about Iraqi Shiite cleric Sayyed Amer al-Husseini proposing a boycott of French products in protest of the ban. Like the French really need more people boycotting their products.

(Link via Au Currant.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2004

New Blog Showcase

Jan. 10 - Time again to vote in the The Truth Laid Bear: The New Weblog Showcase.

Canadian Headhunter has a very good one on management styles in Ridiculous Business Books (blogspotted - use Ctrl+F and "ridiculous"). The entire blog has some interesting insights for both workers and management and is lacking the usual mumbo-jumbo so well-beloved by human resources types.

Go Dubya also suspects that the guest editorial by Neal Starkman in the Seattle Post Intelligencer might be more revealing than some leftists might wish about liberal elitism in his post You're Stupid. I'm not talking about all liberals, of course, but I've heard this argument too often, albeit more cleverly disguised, by left-liberals who have concluded that the only possible explanation for the president's popularity and approval ratings is due to gullibility and/or stupidity.

Posted by Debbye at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

Robert Kilroy-Silk

Jan. 10 - In all the posts over the BBC suspension of Robert Kilroy-Silk for his comments about the dubious achievements of Arab states, the ones that resonate with me are at Expat Yank here, here and here.

If he and I seem somewhat dismissive of those people who are claiming to be offended by an April column of Mr. Kilroy-Silk, maybe it's because we actually remember what was being said by Arab states last April, or maybe it's because we are offended on a daily basis by the tolerant and inclusive types in our respective countries.

As Robert points out in the 2nd link:

Come to think of it, I am often "offended," too. As a group, Americans are regularly -- and apparently easily -- targeted for a group condemnation by, to quote Trevor Phillips, "the weak-minded." [Robert gets bonus points for posting the quote before the BBC changed it. Such is the BBC journalistic integrity.]


>From an "anti-war" protest in another E.U. member state in February 2003, here is just one example of the numerous nasty things often said about Americans -- and as a whole people, by the way:

. . .The only thing everyone seemed to agree on is that Americans are evil. "Go home, killers!". . .

Well, it doesn't get much clearer than that, does it? That seems to be at least as rude as what Kilroy-Silk wrote, which supposedly "offended" so many.

Hmm, maybe that sort of rhetoric used within a European state and directed at Americans should be dealt with in the European Court of Human Rights? And has anyone thought to ring up Trevor Phillips and the CRE about such "indisputably stupid" comments? After all, that above appears on what is apparently a British-based, web site.

No, Americans would not look to pursue either avenue of possible redress or retaliation. That's because Americans believe in the freedom to shout out all manner of stupidity. And neither do Americans want anyone to try to use oppressive law to muzzle what might be considered "offensive" commentary about us.

We would rather have the freedom to shout back. One wonders, though, just how much longer we may have the freedom to do that? For it seems we are rapidly approaching a time where it is inappropriate to "offend" anyone EXCEPT Americans.

And from the first link, Robert points out
For an American, what is most shocking is not so much Kilroy-Silk's opinions (such as they are), but those last two sentences: In Britain, expressing an opinion about "race" that someone else might be "offended" by could well get you reported to the police by the Commission for Racial Equality.

Indeed, if George W. Bush had the power to pronounce a newspaper writer's article "indisputably stupid" and then call in the police, I'm sure the likes of Phillips would be bananas over that.

Anyone who reads the Toronto Star or watches the CBC or Showcase is exposed to offensive attitudes towards Americans on a regular basis: Made in Canada, anybody? Imagine the uproar if Made in Canada had a black American as protagonist.

How about the This Hour Has 22 Minutes segment "Talking to Americans'? Would it be as funny if it was "Talking to Ecuadoreans?" Or "Talking to Haitians?"

For those who protest no, it's against Bush and his policies, what tune are you going to sing when he wins by a large margin in November?

The playing field isn't level, folks; so long as the targets are American or Jewish, anything goes.

Posted by Debbye at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

Danes find mortars leaking unknown fluid

Jan. 10 - Iraqi Mortar Shells Leaking Mysterious Fluid:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Danish soldiers on Saturday uncovered a cache of mortar shells leaking an unknown fluid, and tests are under way to determine whether they contain chemical agents, an American officer said.

The 30 to 40 120mm mortar shells, which may have been left over from the Iran-Iraq war, were found buried in the desert south of Baghdad, U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said at a news conference.

Most of the shells were wrapped in plastic bags and some were leaking a mysterious fluid - leading officials to suspect chemical weapons, he said.

I pretty much figured a few weeks into the fall of Baghdad that no matter what we might find, far too many people would believe that we had planted it and any find of WMD now is unlikely to sway people one way or the other.

That being said, I also figured that anything that we found was unlikely to fall into the wrong (read enemy) hands.

So why post this? Because the find was by Danes, another member of the "unilateral" coalition who have been staunch allies.

UPDATE: It's official; the shells do not contain WMD, nor do they have any markings indicating country of origin.

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

Going to Mars (Yippee!)

Jan. 10 - I had hoped to be able to get past my euphoria that manned space exploration was going forward again before I commented on this (Bush wants men on Mars) but I may as well face the fact that some expectations of my youth will never go away.

It's a sad fact that my major response to this remains Yippee! absent truly sober reflection and analysis.

Space, the final frontier echoed what was once a theme of American historical analysis: the Turner thesis that the "frontier was a safety valve" in that having available land to settle reduced, due to the opportunity for self-advancement, discontent by the working masses in the urban areas and the challenge of having new mountains to climb stimulated and provided an outlet for people who have high energy and restlessness thresholds (adventurers). (That is a shamelessly short version, but for a more scholarly view go here and for the thesis itself go here which link was obtained from this.)

Forttunately, others have coherent posts, such as Jay Currie (note two posts on the subject,) Alpha Patriot and Ghost of a Flea for starters.

Transterrestrial Musings is disappointed, and says he was hoping for a vision, rather than a destination, and one that included the American people.

Donald Sensing takes a larger view that also encompasses the proposed immigration reform and the President's focus as Carteresque or Reaganesque.

Posted by Debbye at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

Toronto Affairs

Jan. 10 - More weirdness in Toronto: Man busted in German consulate fire:

A drifter will appear in court this morning accused of setting a fire at the German consulate and then attacking firefighters who arrived to douse it. Fire crews were called to the consulate on Admiral Rd., near Dupont St. and Davenport Rd., at 2 p.m. yesterday after neighbours spotted thick black smoke and large flames.

A man managed to get through the consulate's iron gates and, using an accelerant, set fire to the back of the building, Toronto Police Det. Dave Barwell said.

"He literally blocked the gates so the firefighters couldn't get through to fight the fire," Barwell said. "When they did get through he attacked a police officer and a firefighter."

Neighbours said the man spoke with a German accent.

"One officer ran around the back of the building and came back with this guy and he was taken away," Shawn Nicholson, 32, said, adding the man had a tackle box with him.

A firefighter sustained minor injuries when a roof collapsed on top of him.

The article notes that "terrorism has been ruled out." I think what they mean is that organized terrorism has been ruled out, but I would consider an attack on a building which is a consulate to be terrorism even if a German citizen (which has not been established, please note) sets fire to the German consulate. But then, does it qualify as domestic terrorism? If the consul is considered German soil, maybe so.

Maybe what I'm really feeling is that new realities don't automatically re-define terminology. If someone sets fire to a consul, is it arson or a case of something else, say disguntleness terrorism?

Posted by Debbye at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

Blame British Columbia

Jan. 10 - The weather is always a great conversation opener, and it's a long-time joke that Americans blame the cold front from Canada whereas Canadians blame the cold front from the Arctic, but now there's a new culprit:

It's the same cold snap that began in British Columbia 10 days ago and moved east.
Yeah! Blame British Columbia!

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

January 09, 2004

The guy who is everywhere

Jan. 9 - Too funny: I guess it was inevitable that this guy show up there!

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (1)

Snowball-free zones

Jan. 9 - Murdoc links to a story that is utterly embarassing because it's true (Oh, Canada...oh, oh, oh...). Yes indeed, schoolyards in Toronto have long been Snowball-Free.

Soon they'll be Fun-Free.

Posted by Debbye at 02:07 PM | Comments (1)

Iraq, Kashmir bombings

Jan. 9 - 5 killed in attack on Iraqi mosque:

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) -- A car[*] rigged with explosives exploded outside a Shiite Muslim mosque as worshippers streamed out of Friday prayers, killing five people and wounding 37, according to medical officials in the central Iraqi town of Baqouba.
The AP report attributes the attack to tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims which, although probable, is not the only possibility.

There are a number of groups that would like to undermine Iraqi unity by exacerbating tensions between the two Muslim groups, and attacks on mosques certainly does that.

* Note: some reports claim the bomb was in a bicycle.

And in another hotspot, Kashmir, hand grenade explodes in mosque wounding 15. According to the report, a hand grenade was thrown onto a rooftop during Friday prayers in Jammu, a predominantly Hindu city. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kashmir has been wracked by violence since 1989, when Islamic guerrillas launched an insurgency to wrest the province from Indian control. More than 65,000 people have been killed in the conflict. (My emphasis because that number is horrifying.)
This is the first major attack in Kashmir since Pakistan and India took steps to reduce hostilities.

Again, the hard part is trying to ascertain if Hindus or Muslims threw the grenade in an effort to disrupt peace efforts.

Ironically, Retuers has an article by it's Religious Editor, Tom Heneghan, who reports that Europeans are puzzled by U.S. mix of faith, politics. (Okay, I freely admit that I am weary of everyone being "puzzled" by Americans when all anyone has to do is read our history, our writings and the First Amendment, so the subject already has my irritable attention.)

What is so hard to understand? Politicians (and, for that matter, the people) feel comfortable chatting about their religious views because we have absolutely no fear that the religion of the President or anyone else will ever be imposed on the population. (Ref. US Constitution, Amendments I and II, which is to say that the country would cease to exist before that could happen.)

Aren't there groups like the Inter-Faith Council in Europe? So far as I know, none of their meetings in the US have degenerated into fisticuffs or gunfights. You worship in your faith, I'll worship in mine, and let's organize a pot luck supper for our congregations (or equivalent) so they can get to know one and understand one another better.

People of all religions have plenty of common ground. Just mention kids (and especially teenagers) and watch the heads nod and laughter erupt as we compare stories about the trials and tribulations of bringing up children.

If the Europeans are truly puzzled by the role of religion in the US, they could regain some perspective by reading Jay Currie's comments on The Saudi Paradox, or ponder the anachronistic Council of Guardians in Iran.

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

Quick hits

Jan. 9 - This is quirky: Tax-weary Vermont ski town considers joining New Hampshire:blockquote>Killington, Vermont (AP) -- Officials in the popular ski resort area of Killington want the town to secede from Vermont and join neighboring New Hampshire in a dispute over taxes.
What does Mark Steyn think of this? Um, okay, when will Mark Steyn stop laughing long enough to tell us what he thinks of this?

While I'm on the subject of quirky stuff, one of the things I hate most about being at home in the daytime is Wolf Freaking' Blitzer. He's reporting that a mountain lion "suprised" and attacked a mountain biker. Of course the cougar "surprised" its prey - it's how they hunt. Only on TV, say on Bonanza, would the cougar emit a roar from atop a rock outcropping before attacking.

Do. Your. Homework.

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2004

The S Factor and other quick hits

Jan. 8 - So I get home from work, and decide to read some blogs before I hit the news and get totally side-tracked with some links from Moving Target. And they had more links, and their commenters had some other links, and it was, as you-know-what proclaims, time well wasted.

UPDATE: Alpha Patriot has his own notions about the S Factor.

UPDATE 2: Mark Steyn on the S Factor in the Saturday Spectator. (Link via On the Third Hand.)

It wasn't only Bruce, though. It was also some good links from Colby Cosh and the image of Jay Currie playing in the snow after organizing a vote for Chretien (who didn't come in first, but then he actually had some competition.)

Jack put together an intriguing post "NO -- Ya don't Say?" that links to the CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun and the National Post (among others). But I have to tell Jack that I do feel safe in Toronto, even at night. That's not actually a good thing, because if people like me didn't feel safe maybe more folks here would demand the City Council act to stop the gang warfare. But apparently the tolerant and inclusive city of Toronto is willing to tolerate the deaths of young black men and the let the residents of some areas be included in the terror of hearing gunfire at night.

Another good waste of time was on a tip via Damien Penny that tonight's PBS Frontline would have a feature about the crackdown on Iranian dissidents, so I watched it and was pleased to see that it focused on Zahra Kazemi. Her body has still not been released to her son, (although Canada has threatened Iran with more soft diplomacy) but he hasn't let up on the pressure and it's good that PBS is helping by not letting Kazemi's death be forgotten.

UPDATE: This is the webpage for Frontline correspondent Jane Kokan's clandestine visit to Iran and her investigation into Zahra Kazemi's death as well as a link to her interview with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Abadi.

From The Story:

In the outskirts of Tehran, Kokan further interviews Arzhang, who shares information about Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi's last days. "She fought [the interrogators] back, she criticized them, she shouted," Arzhang says. "They cannot endure critics and she fought them back strongly."
Kokan also interviews Stephan Kachemi, Kazemi's son, in Montreal.

Anyway, those are my excuses for blogging so late and, worse of all, getting to the Australian and British press for tomorrow's news without yet seeing today's.

Posted by Debbye at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

AIDS in Africa

Jan. 8 - This is odd: Aids in Africa 'overestimated'.

The preliminary report of the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey suggested that HIV has infected about one million adults in the country. Previous estimates put the number at up to three million.

Earlier surveys in Mali, Zambia and South Africa hinted that Aids might not be as widespread as believed, but scientists said the new data provided conclusive evidence. It will allow them to extrapolate the findings across the continent, which would reduce infection estimates by at least a quarter.

A leading western expert on Aids said: "We have the same thing coming from the south of Africa, from the west, from the centre and now from the east."

Smaller numbers don't change the need for immediate efforts to combat the spread of the virus, of course, but I am perplexed that the numbers seem to be so far off.

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

Theories and the media that spread them

Jan. 8 - This article about the possibility that a no-show passenger on a cancelled Air France flight was an al Qaeda trained bomber has a terrific quote:

"French intelligence services in constant touch with American partners conducted additional investigations that produced no new indications that could confirm the theory put forward by American media," said a police spokeswoman.
If only more people could learn to distinguish between theories and suppositions (often substantiated by "unnamed official sources") put forth by the media from official US government statements.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

Arson suspected in brush fires

Jan. 8 - I'll never understand arsonists. I don't mean the ones I'm not supposed to understand - those who are pathologists - but the ones who set fire to dry brush for kicks.

The fires in Australia last summer destroyed forests, wildlife, homes, and killed several people, and it looks as though the cycle is starting up again (Summer arson menace returns.)

This time fires threatened communities around the Ku-ring-gai national park to the north of Sydney and arson is again strongly suspected:

Fire chiefs said the threat to property had abated but said arsonists were believed to be responsible. Phil Koperberg, the Rural Fire Services commissioner, said fires at Wilton south of Sydney, at Akuna Bay northwest of Sydney, and near Dubbo in central NSW were believed to be deliberately lit.

"There you have three fires of significance and almost 100 per cent arson rate," he said.

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

Australia rushes aid to Niue

Jan. 8 - A cyclone hit the island of Niue on Tuesday, and Australia has responded to a request from the government of that island and is sending medical teams which are expected to stay about 3 weeks:

[Acting Prime Minister John] Anderson said C-130 Hercules aircraft would fly out tonight from the RAAF Richmond Base carrying medical and nursing staff to Niue.

The flight team will also include a midwife and specialists who will assess Niue's public health situation.


New Zealand has already sent relief teams to the Pacific island, which was devastated by Cyclone Heta on Tuesday.

Australia has pledged aid funding of $150,000 to address relief needs such as water purification, first aid supplies and food and shelter requirements for the people of Niue.

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

January 07, 2004

Crossing the line

Jan. 7 - Toronto Sun: Editorial/Letters (one-day link.)

Letter of the Day

ON NEW Year's Day, I went to cross the border at Niagara Falls into Buffalo. My friend and I (both 28) were in a van loaded with kids' clothes and toys and in the process of taking it to my friend's parents' place in Pennsylvania for storage.

We were sent to an Immigration office and interviewed by an agent who would not let us pass. He would not believe that my friend was not moving to the States to work illegally, even though his wife and kids were at home.

We were then told that we had to have our fingerprints and picture taken with their new electronic system. "Blame the criminals that could have been caught if this system was implemented years ago," was his reasoning.

When is this violation of people's rights going to end? I am no criminal, I have a perfect record, and now I am in the mass U.S. database. How long can things like this continue under the guise of "War on Terrorism" and "Homeland Security"? Will they not be happy until the entire world is tagged and catalogued and under surveillance?

Freedoms once taken for granted could soon become a luxury enjoyed only by the rich, the criminals, and the rich criminals. Slowly our rights are dissipating and there is no way of stopping Big Brother. Welcome to the age of fear and oppression, a fire ignited not by Islamic terrorists, fanatical Muslims, or even Osama himself, but by what once was a beacon of freedom and democracy; the good ol' US of A. (The writer is a man from Newmarket.)

The Toronto Sun responded with this:
(Unfortunate, but even before 9/11 U.S. officials took a dim view of anyone who crossed the border with a load of belongings, while claiming they weren't planning to stay. That's their job)
Which is exactly why they were stopped and, I suspect, the letter writer knew it was so but couldn't resist a pretext to take a shot at the Creeping Police State Mentality and Paranoia of the good ol' US of A.

I am astounded and begining to get angry at the continous whining and muttering about the new procedures at the border.

Sir, you and your friend (clearly not a US citizen) do not now nor have you ever had the "right" to go to the United States just because you are citizens of Canada or any other nation except the United States. You do not now nor have you ever enjoyed any "freedom" to pass the border into the United States unless you are a citizen, and anyone who took it for granted that non-citizens had the right to cross the border, as the letter writer says he did, took for granted something that never existed and, in fact, never pretended to exist.

A similar thing happened to me and a friend back in 1976, and I would have been allowed to proceed but not my companion. If the letter writer is a citizen, he was granted the right to proceed without his friend. He was not denied entrance.

If the letter writer is sincere and truly doesn't understand why non-citizens would be allowed to cross the border with a van full of clothing and other belongings then he is seriously a tool.

But this isn't only about Sept. 11 anymore. The use of the words freedom and rights invoked by the letter writer on behalf of a non-citizen who isn't on American soil are worrisome.

Much as people actually believe there is something called international law, it appears that there are people who think totally without reason or foundation that everyone is entitled to the enter the United States just because they want to.

I understand completely that people don't like jumping through hoops, but unfortunately it is now part of entering a sovereign nation.

The United States does not belong to the people of the world, folks, it belong to us, the citizens of the United States. It's We, the People, not Everyone Else, the People.

And make no mistake: Today, in this world, there is a We and a Them and a great many Youse.

I'm sorry, but that's how it is. Nobody likes it, and we are resolved to do what we can to stop the use of terrorism as a tactic and, in too many case, a strategy and even a principle.

The war on terror (despite the horrible name) is actually a real war to many people and the battlefield is our country. We don't know everything that might be involved because no one can see the future, but that isn't a reason to stop but rather a reason to proceed, learn, and eventually defeat terrorism.

We want it end too, you know. All the security, all the checks, and most of all the reality that we, the people, are threatened by hostiles. We want to go back in time to when we went to football games without a care in the world but we can't. Neither can young girls performing New Year's Eve in the Phillippines, shoppers in Algeria, people in the Kashmir region or surfers enjoying the beaches of Bali.

Join us in fighting terrorism. Stop this murder of innocents, say it is wrong, and talk about it with people. Put your idealism and energy to a good cause. If it saves one life, won't it be worth it?

No, I really mean it. If one person can be spared the searing agony of the kind of burns the victims suffered in Bali, won't it be worthwhile? If people don't have to jump from 90 stories because they have no way out and the fire is at their backs, isn't it worthwhile?

Dear God, there are also victims of terrorism who live yet endure life-changing injuries and must simply endure. They hurt as much as victims of land mines and drunk drivers, yet who is their advocate?

Is inconvenience for many at the border and needing to plan ahead (a good idea for any endeavour) really that important in the greater scheme of things?

I wonder if the people behind Ahmed Ressem are angry that they were inconvenienced or were grateful for the professionalism of Customs Inspector Diana M. Dean. There is precedent, you know.

So people don't get the wrong idea about people in the Toronto area, there was another letter in today's Sun:

DURING A flight to the U.S. just before New Year's, I was searched, had my luggage and shoes x-rayed, was forced to prove where I was born, lived and worked and then had my luggage hand-searched again before being allowed to board the flight. I had to produce my citizenship and photo ID no less than 4 times before getting on board. My point here is that anyone who screams racial profiling is simply stirring up the pot. I am a 45-year-old white Canadian male and don't find this treatment offensive, quite the opposite. Most people feel safer. We certainly do not condone racial or religious profiling. But we cannot and should not forget who is taking credit for the 9/11 tragedy while at the same time promoting more hatred and killing of innocents. No matter who you are, or where you're from, get used to it folks, I doubt it's going to go back to the way it was. God help us all if it does. (This letter writer is a man from Mimico.)
By the way, the Sun's response was
(Well said. For a different view, see today's Letter of the Day)
My son recently returned from Puerto Rico, and nodded his head at each point of the second letter writer's recount of security measures (except mine had to provide full ID only three times.)

The last word goes to the speaker of the Quote of the Day from the NY Times:

"I prefer that we are reproached for having too many security measures than too few."

-- Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister
January 2, 2004

UPDATE: Murdoc adds some perspective on what are the responsibilities of the US government.

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2004

Common sense toward mad cows

Jan. 6 - Sometimes folks in Washington can show uncommon bad sense: in response to the news that DNA Tests Confirm Sick Cow Came From Canada, two senators, Democrat Senate Leader Tom Daschle and W. Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, are urging that "country-of-origin" labelling be implemented on most meat and produce.

I thought the Dems were supposed to be the soulmates of the Liberal Party of Canada, yet here they are trying to differentiate (temporarily) good American beef from unsafe - in their minds - Canadian beef for all eternity. What will the neighbours think?

BSE is not an election issue, Senators. Neither is the flu, SARS, or most of the aggravations that plague us on any given day. And it's not about Canada-US relations actually, however silly some have been about it. It's about our mutual food supply and our mutual self-interest to ensure that it's safe. Get off the Senate floor and consult with your constituents, the ones who have been happy to have access to a larger gene pool which makes for better cattle.

But the news from DC isn't all ridiculous, and sometimes, folks in DC can also show uncommon good sense: Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinarian, responded

"It's a North American issue. Has been. Continues to be."
Now that's pithy. Maybe he reads Eden at Just Between Us Girls who made the same point in her post Dec. 27 (scroll down or enable search function keywords "It was only a matter of time") or maybe, maybe he doesn't know that an election is 11 months away and is just trying to tackle the problem and solve it with more than a knee-jerk packaging gimmick.

Too bad his statement didn't have any nuance.

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

Red Sea air crash has Canadian connection

Jan. 6 - There appears to be a Canadian connection to the Red Sea airplace crash: Crash pilot's children here.

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt -- Two young Brampton women grieved yesterday for their father, who was the pilot of the Boeing 737 jetliner that crashed into the Red Sea Saturday, killing all 148 people aboard. Ekram Hamid, of Montreal, identified the pilot as his estranged son, Ashraf Hamid.

"It's a sad day, it's unfortunate," Ekram, 70, told the Montreal Gazette. "His passion was flying. He loved to fly. I just wish he had chosen another career."

Ekram said a Canadian Foreign Affairs official called him Sunday morning to tell him his son had died.

The article also states that, according to a French embassy official, searchers have picked up a signal that could be from the black box of the Boeing 737.

According to this, a hitherto unknown terrorist group has claimed they attacked the jetliner:

A caller saying he represented a radical Islamist group in Yemen, Ansar el-Haq (Apostles of Truth) telephoned Agence France-Presse in Cairo to say the aircraft had been downed in an "attack."

The caller warned of future attacks against Air France flights unless the French government rescinded a law that bans Muslim students from wearing headscarves in public schools.


The 10-year-old Boeing 737 aircraft, leased by Egyptian charter company Flash Airlines, had made a planned left turn before suddenly -- and with no warning -- turning to the right and then diving into the sea.

The crew did not contact air-traffic control, apparently having no time to do so. The high-speed impact shattered the aircraft and its passengers. So far the recovery effort has found nothing to point to the cause of the crash.

The article notes that none of the wreckage or human remains recovered thus far indicate signs of an explosion, and also chronicles a brief history of problems with the rudder on other Boeing 737s flying at low altitudes.

(Globe and Mail link via Jack's Newswatch.)

UPDATE: Two black boxes have been recovered (Jan. 18-04)

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

Coffee Is Life

Jan. 6 - I love coffee. I don't put stuff like milk or sugar in it (scotch isn't "stuff") because I like it hot, black and strong. When my coffeemaker broke down last month, I startled my family when I calmly pulled my Emergency!Back-up!Coffeemaker out of the cupboard thus proving that I believe in being prepared for some emergencies.

I don't exactly require validation but am nonetheless pleased that A healthy jolt seems to be a good way to reduce the risk of developing some types of diabetes:

PHILADELPHIA -- Drinking more coffee may reduce the risk of developing the most common form of diabetes, a study has found. Compared to non-coffee drinkers, men who drank more than six eight-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee per day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by about half, and women reduced their risk by nearly 30%, according to the study in today's issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
I protest the perceived bias of coffee toward women inbibers.! No, wait, it just means I need to drink more than 6 cups. I can do that!
But experts say more research is needed to establish whether it really is the coffee -- or something else about coffee drinkers -- that protects them.
Heh, "something else about coffee drinkers." I'm tired or I'd be full of crappy well-thought out arguments that prove the superiority of coffee drinkers.
"The evidence is quite strong that regular coffee is protective against diabetes," said one of the researchers, Dr. Frank Hu. "The question is whether we should recommend coffee consumption as a strategy. I don't think we're there yet."

There was a more modest effect among decaf drinkers: A 25% risk reduction for men and 15% for women.

Well, yeah, decaf. It isn't real coffee, you know. It's like light beer: you get the foam, but not the buzz, so what's the point?

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

January 05, 2004

Afghan Constitution

Jan. 5 - Some more links to articles about the newly approved Afghan constitution from the AP, Daily Telegraph and Afghan News Network.

The AP dispatch mention that the constitution leaves open the possibility that Parliament could overrule rule the President. The Telegraph says the constitution provides for "two vice-presidents and an upper and lower house with strong legislative authority."

Not everyone is pleased: shots were fired and a grenade was thrown into the Afghanistan office of the United Nations refugee agency in Kandahar early today. There were no injuries.

Posted by Debbye at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Nuclear Black Market

Jan. 5 - Pakistan's role in the proliferation of nuclear technology is once again under scrutiny over a sales brochure:

Pakistan faced embarrassment yesterday with the publication of a sales brochure from its top-secret nuclear facility, apparently hawking technology and components to would-be nuclear powers.

The brochure from the AQ Khan Research Laboratories, the centre of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, has an official-looking seal on the cover saying "Government of Pakistan".


Yesterday's leak, on the eve of important talks between India and Pakistan, prompted speculation in Pakistan that it was deliberately timed to put pressure on President Pervaiz Musharraf to make concessions over the long-running dispute over Kashmir.

The brochure carries a photograph of the "father" of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and will once again draw attention to the shadowy international marketing role of the mastermind of Pakistan's three-decade-old nuclear project.

Mr Khan was formerly a leading figure at the Khan Research Laboratories in Kahuta, where Pakistan's own bomb was developed. This has been linked to the transfer of nuclear expertise and technology to Iran in the 1980s and 1990s and North Korea as recently as 2002.

Worth reading.

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

Tony Clement may run for Conservative leadership

Jan. 5 - Looks like former Ontario Health Minister Tony Clement has been reading his mail. He is considering taking a run at the leadership for the newly formed Conservative party.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

On First Looking Out of NASA's Rover

Jan. 5 - Update on Spirit and several links including a directory for the NASA site if you've had delays logging on.

American Digest has On First Looking Out of NASA's Rover. Wonderful poem.

Posted by Debbye at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Inside a rendering plant

Jan. 5 - Jack is going where no one wants to go and taking a look inside a rendering plant. For example, did you know that some plants use the carcasses of euthanized cats and dogs?

(Via Jack's Newswatch. Also, note new url.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2004

Witnesses to Evil

Jan. 4 - Maybe it's just hard for us to believe that real human beings can act like monsters, much less be monsters. It certainly has been proven that individuals, like Paul Bernardo, can torture their prey for days before finally killing them, but it was a bigger shock to find that his accomplice was his wife. But we quickly categorize them as psychopaths who usually work alone or at most as a pair.

It is even harder to believe that several hundred or even thousands of people can be involved in sadism. I say this even knowing about the concentration camps and "medical experiments" of the Holocaust because howevermuch I may know it happened, my mind balks at the thought that the perpetrators were actual people. I don't know if that makes sense, this disconnect between what I know to be the truth yet what I can only barely believe happened.

Maybe I need to create a new "moment" which I'll call something like a how could they moment.

We all heard stories from Iraq, and the weight of evidence was such that we reluctantly were forced to know that terrible things were happening to the people in that country but these things were so terrible that, much like reports before our soldiers actually entered the concentration camps, things we thought might be exagerated turned out to be grossly understated.

In the midst of ongoing discoveries of mass graves, it is important to remember that there are living witnesses as well. Some of their stories are in this AP article Witnesses to evil and they and others like them deserve justice.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 PM | Comments (1)

Red Sea crash

Jan. 4 - These days it is hard to convince people that accidents can happen, especially when a passenger plane goes down as happened yesterday during a state of high alert. (Red Sea jetliner crash kills 148)

France's deputy transportation minister, Dominique Bussereau, said in Paris that the pilot of flight FSH604 detected problems shortly after takeoff and tried to turn back.
The article states there was no distress call. Would a pilot turn back without notifying the traffic controllers?

Expat Yank remembers the Egypt Air Crash in 1999 and, after quoting from divers who claim the black box is in water too deep in the Red Sea to be recovered, makes the key point:

Given that they don't have the flight recorders, it is curious how quickly they have claimed "technical" problems were the reason. Remember, experts can get intact black boxes from just about anywhere -- just as they've previously fished them out of the North Atlantic.
That's been at the root of my skepticism too, that they were just too quick to deny anything untoward happened.

Even after seven years, there's still a lot of questions about what really happened to TWA Flight 800 which came down over Long Island in 1996. Maybe it's just that once the public's suspicions have been aroused, restoring credibility becomes nearly impossible.

It's a hmm moment, not a full-blown aha although there may be more information forthcoming. I'd just feel more confident if they had given the usual "We are vigorously pursuing the investigation" line.

UPDATE: Aaron Klein isn't happy with the French rush to judgement either. In another story, the crash is now being blamed on a catastrophic power failure although the black box has not yet been recovered.

(World Net Daily and Daily Telegraph links via Jack's Newswatch.)

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

2004 World Junior Hockey Champsionsips

Jan. 4 - Expect people in Canada to be somewhat distracted tomorrow from noon until 2 p.m. or so as Canadian and American juniors face off for gold in the 2004 World Junior Hockey Championships.

When it comes to hockey, I root for Canada. This is where I learned to love the game, and that's the way it is.

Go Canada!

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Afghan Constitution

Jan. 4 - The Loya Jirga approved a new constitution for Afghanistan after a number of compromises, many of which involved language rights.

There isn't much specific information in the article, but I noticed one thing: it states that men and women should be treated equally even though laws are to be in accordance with Islam.

The office of the Presidency retains strong powers including control of the army and direction of policy, and there is no provision for a Prime Minister or strong regional councils.

Posted by Debbye at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Volunteers from Bulgaria

Jan. 4 - I didn't realize that all the Bulgarian soldiers stationed in Iraq were there voluntarily. Following the attacks that left 5 soldiers dead, more than two dozen waiting to be rotated to Iraq have decided not to go after all as replacement troops in early January.

According to Gen. Nikolai Kolev, the army chief of staff, those who have changed their minds will have to refund the costs of their training and medical examinations.

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

Tony Blair visits iraq

Jan. 4 - British PM Tony Blair made a surprise visit to southern Iraq today visiting troops and Basra governor, Judge Wael Abdullatif.

Posted by Debbye at 07:38 PM | Comments (1)

Spirit is willing

Jan. 4 - Mars was pleasantly surprised to see Sojourner's big brother Spirit emerge from that big bouncy thing last night and is graciously permitting him to stay and take pictures. Who could have figured the God of War to be such a ham? (Anyone who watched Xena or Hercules, come to think of it. Oh well.)

The NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission website is here. I'm off to work, so don't know if they have a site dedicated to Spirit as they had years back for Sojourner.

Kidding aside, the difficulties in landing craft on Mars highlights just how dangerous this adventure will be for human explorers. Here's to the future!

Looks like Toronto is back to more seasonable weather (which would still have people in Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton sneering at us as softies.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2004

Black Voters for the GOP

Jan. 3 - Good post and linkage from Alpha Patriot on Black Votes for the GOP. (That would represent a return of black votes for the GOP, if I remember correctly, because until JFK black votes usually went to Republicans, especially in the South.)

Good read for Canadians, by the way, because I think that this shift may happen here, although the first signal will be law and order candidates in Toronto.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 PM | Comments (1)

New Blog Showcase

Jan. 3 - Time to vote in the The Truth Laid Bear's The New Weblog Showcase.

Self-composed has an interesting post about the hypocrisy of Banning Smokers, or more specifically not accepting people for employment who smoke off-premises and off-duty, while not discriminating against people who are overweight, have high blood pressure and indulge in fast food who are also high health risks. (Full disclosure: I smoke.)

Here's something off the beaten track and quite moving: The Red Apprentice (An Altruist Ideal) by
Juggernaut of Love.

Robert Holcomb entered a good post about political candidates and the proper use of singular and plural in English "We're the Best Canadidate" -- My Pet Peeve.

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

Go Team Canada!

Jan. 3 - It's over 11 C here and I simply can't express how guilty I feel. Honest.

Apparently temperatures are supposed to drop back down next week, so we're just enjoying it while we can.

Canada is ahead of the Czech Republic, for anyone watching the tournament. Do American sports channels carry live hockey at 7:00 a.m.? Just curious.

I'm out of here, so take care.

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

Right to Bear Arms

Jan. 3 - The conclusion from this is that whenever private gun owners use their weapons to stop violent crimes, the media doesn't report it. There are several instances cited in the report where the fact that a citizen was armed prevented death or injury, including an attack by a pit bull that was dealt with effectively and cases where children used guns to stop a mother or grandmother from being killed.

Draw your own conclusions. I believe in my right to defend myself and my property, as apparenty do BBC listeners.

UPDATE: Jack talks about living in a household with children and and gun here .

Posted by Debbye at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

Germany: Hijab controversy

Jan. 3 - Hijab causes major row in Germany or more specifically, the wearing of the hijab by public servants, teachers and students.

[German President Johannes] Rau's appeal that Islamic headscarves receive equal treatment with symbols of other faiths such as Christianity or Judaism has led to furious reactions from Roman Catholic politicians and clerics.
Glad to see those enlightened Europeans are still so far ahead of us American rubes on the tolerance curve.

(Via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

Patronage, nepotism in the civil service

Jan. 3 - A report from the Public Service Commission has found that indeed, it's not what you know but who you know if you want a job in the civil service:

Managers in the federal public service continue to hire people they know -- including spouses, siblings and cousins -- rather than comply with rules to ensure all Canadians have a fair chance at government jobs, according to a report from the Public Service Commission.

In a review of hiring across the public service, the commission found that in 51% of placements it was unable to conclude competency and fairness were respected, because key documents were missing. They were missing even though the commission requested the documents "well in advance" of its on-site visits.


The September, 2002, report is based on an analysis of close to 1,000 hirings across Canada at several departments: Fisheries and Oceans, Human Resources Development Canada, the International Joint Commission, the National Library, the National Archives, the Office of the Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner and Veterans Affairs Canada.

While a nine-page summary of the report had been made public, the findings in the full 147-page document were released only last month to Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin under the Access to Information Act.


On Dec. 12, the Prime Minister created a new Public Service Human Resources Management Agency reporting to Denis Coderre, the President of the Privy Council. The agency is charged with working with unions and public servants to implement sweeping new legislation passed just before Parliament prorogued that aims to reform the public service.

The Public Service Commission itself has often been criticized as one of the root causes of bureaucratic patronage because of the long delays it takes to fill government positions. The commission is primarily responsible for hiring people into the public service and for ensuring that government departments are hiring based on merit. The report states managers complained the commission is too slow, does not keep its potential staff inventories current and does a poor job of screening employees.

There are some very good reasons why the private sector views nepotism and patronage unfavourably, but no good reason why the Canadian civil service has failed to implement reforms except for the obvious: the ones in charge of implementing such reforms are abusers themselves.

This is a problem not only at the federal level but at the provincial level as well.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

Terrorists disguised as journalists

Jan. 3 - Another violation of the rules of war according to this:

Attackers posing as journalists fired assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at paratroopers guarding the burning aircraft, the military said.


Soon after [a helicopter was shot down], five men "wearing black press jackets with 'press' clearly written in English" fired on U.S. paratroopers guarding the crash site, Kimmitt said.

He said it was the first time he had heard of assailants in Iraq posing as journalists.

It's not the first time that disguise has been used elsewhere, however.

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

Rover set to land on Mars

Jan. 3 - Rover to land on Mars tonight. Uh huh. We'll see.

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

Toronto aids Bam earthquake survivors

Jan. 3 - One of the things about living in a city like Toronto is that you always seem to know, within a few degrees of separation, someone who is directly affected by a disaster like Bam, so these catastrophes inevitably have a personal connection. GTA aid for Bam has been swift and enormous.

There's an onsite report on Canadian Red Cross activities in Iran here.

GTA residents can go to the David McAntony Gibson Foundation website, contact Rahul Singh at 416-998-7813, or telephone the Red Cross at 1-800-418-1111.

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

Terrorist alert affects air flights

Jan. 3 - Nothing to add here, just one of those "for the record" posts to record a list flights delayed or cancelled by the terrorist alert some specifics.

Posted by Debbye at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2004

Hong Kong Watch

Jan. 2 - The forces of freedom continue to plague the Chinese communist government as thousands of people in Hong Kong turn out to demand direct elections.

Pro-democracy parties want to maintain the momentum of the summer protests and November's local elections, in which Beijing's representatives were heavily defeated. [Local elections last November saw a decisive defeat for pro-Beijing forces of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong when the Democratic Party won 95 out of 120 contested wards for the City Council.]

Their next aim is a convincing victory in September's elections for the legislative council which could theoretically give them a majority and the power to block laws proposed by the Beijing-appointed chief executive and his cabinet.

Mr Tsoi, along with the leading democratic parties in Hong Kong, is demanding a swift move to full elections for the legislative council and the chief executive.

Currently, the chief executive, equivalent to the colonial governor, is chosen by China's government, while the council consists of a mixture of members appointed by the chief executive, elected by the people or elected by "functional" constituencies representing special interest groups such as lawyers.

In September, the number of directly elected councillors will increase from 24 to 30 out of 60, raising the possibility that a landslide could give elected democrats, along with the minority of functional representatives who support them, a blocking majority.

But the real attention is on whether China's ruling Communist Party will allow the next chief executive, due to be chosen in 2007, to be elected.

The current chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, a pro-China businessman, has launched a consultation exercise on the pace of reform. China has already indicated that it seeks "gradual" change.

Gradual change, aka we'll hold direct elections when there is ony party on the ballot perhaps.

Via Instapundit, another link on the story from the Financial Times.

A link I lost when blogger went down last night was on the jailing of Chinese dissidents who use the internet to publish essays. Also jailed was a man who was imprisoned merely for circulating a petition asking to free one of the dissidents. Cuba and China have so much in common. I'll post the link if I find it again.

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

Canadians in Afghanistan

Jan. 2 - Soldiers at Camp Julien in Kabul took part in a polar bear swim Making a splash. The swim took place as Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson was visiting Afghan Pres. Karzai.

The Loya Jirga constitutional convention continues to be contentious as they grapple with the degree of powers granted to the presidency and how the different ethnic groups will share power. Tribal conflicts have long dominated Afghanistan.

Yesterday's meeting was hastily adjourned when opponents of Karzai began to organize a boycott.

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

January 01, 2004

BSE linked to Edmonton plant

Jan. 2 - Blogger was down yesterday evening (DNS issues, they say.) That's my excuse for being so late in posting this article from Dec. 31 which says Investigators link mad cow to Edmonton plant.

EDMONTON - Canadian food safety investigators have established a tentative link between an Edmonton rendering plant and North America's two cases of mad cow disease, The Journal has learned.

The city plant may have provided contaminated materials to feed mills which mixed feed for both the Alberta-born Holstein at the centre of the current U.S. mad cow investigation and the Saskatchewan birthplace of a diseased cow from northern Alberta discovered in May.

The mixing of the contaminated feed would have occurred before August 1997, when both Canada and the U.S. banned feeding cattle parts to cattle.

The rendering plant complied with the ban when it took effect but until then, it produced the same protein meal for hogs and cattle as was done by similar plants throughout North America.

Mad cow disease is widely believed to incubate for at least three years in an animal, which is why investigators are spending so much time tracing what it ate in its early years. However, two infected cows found this fall in Japan were 23 months old and 21 months old. (Emphasis added)

When the BSE case was discovered in Alberta last summer, the Daily Telegraph (UK) provided a number of off-site links about BSE including some from scientists who disputed the conventional wisdom as to how, or if, the disease is transmitted to humans and if the disease can be transmitted from cow to cow though feed and/or birthmother. I hoped those links would re-appear at the Telegraph (they didn't) but Fox News is carrying a similar story questioning the science behind those assertions although the article implicitly contradicts the Telegraph assertion that scientists in the UK continue to investigate the disease and question the original premises on which the science is based.

The Alberta case had been tentatively declared a spontaneous case mostly because the other leads had dried up. The current investigation of the feed mill indicates something significant: far from closing the book on the Alberta case, the agriculture departments/ministries of the US and Canada had continued to cooperate in the investigation.

I'm tempted to say that the intelligence and professionalism in this area is because it involves farmers and ranchers, who tend to be more practical than urbanites, but that is a prejudice which lies in my Kansas roots and besides, I can't prove it.

Oh, and for those who have expressed satisfaction in the what goes round comes round vein about the swift banning of US beef exports, I had preserved a Sept. 4 column by Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun here (if blogspotted, it's in the Sept. archives key word BSE) that responded to cries that Canadian beef exports were being unfairly targeted by Japan because the fact is that Canada banned Japanese beef after cases were discovered there 2 years ago.

There are some things Americans can learn from Canadians on this issue. One, continue to enjoy your beef. Two, because of the border closure, there were some terrific sales on beef products. Get your freezers ready.

UPDATE: It seems the feed mill was already under scrutiny before the BSE case in Alberta due to a February report identifying labelling problems with feed bags.

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

Syria entry for Russian arms into Iraq

Jan 1 - A Dec. 30 article in the LA Times on how Banned Arms Flowed Into Iraq Through Syrian Firm is full of surprises, and most gratifyingly, specifics.

These are representative of how adept the Saddam regime was at circumventing UN sanctions:

- Russia's Millenium Company Ltd. signed an $8.8-million contract in September 2002 to supply mostly American-made communications and surveillance gear to Iraq's intelligence service. The company's general manager in Moscow later wrote to suggest "the preparation of a sham contract" to deceive U.N. weapons inspectors, documents show.

- Slovenia's STO Ravne company, then a state-owned entity, shipped 20 large battle tank barrels identified as "steel tubes" to SES in February 2002. The next month, Slovenia's Defense Ministry blocked the company from exporting 50 more tank barrels to Syria. Overall, STO Ravne's secret contract called for delivering 175 tank barrels to Iraq.

Naturally, I headed straight to see what Roger L. Simon would have to say about this latest evidence of corruption in the Oil-for-Food program.

I don't mean offense when I say that Simon's response was predictable (he's been a steady champion of the need to investigate that program) but the source of the story is interesting:

One of my favorite new website/blogs THE AMERICAN THINKER has an interesting article on the LA Times scoop regarding Syria's funneling arms to Saddam.Evidently this expose originated with a reporter for the German news magazine Stern. The reporter, for reasons we can only guess at, turned his information over to the LAT who then spent three months corroborating it.
Intriguing much? The American Thinker clears up some how this investigative report came to be placed in the hands of the LA Times.

Further surprises are in the comments, and the (unfortunately unverifiable) reports from people who have experience working with the UN.

One of the commenters supplied a link to an Opinion Journal Sept. 2002 piece about the program by Claudia Rosett. She puts things into perspective with her first sentence:

Who is Saddam Hussein's biggest business partner?

The United Nations. The same U.N. whose secretary-general, Kofi Annan, stands as one of the chief ditherers over removing Saddam. Here are the ingredients of a conflict of interest.

(LA Times link via Instapundit, American Thinker link via Roger L. Simon.)

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail here reports on the Canadian connection.

Posted by Debbye at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

Shoshana Johnson and the USA

Jan. 1 - I didn't make it to midnight, darn it. (Full disclosure: I didn't make it much past 10 pm.) I really wanted to stay up so I could cheer for Shoshana Johnson, but sleep won out. I hope she'll accept my excuse that the spirit was willing but but I fell asleep on the chair.

I think we all took the PoWs and their families as our family, and their presence in our collective memories shines clearly. The interviews with Mr. Johnson in particular revealed a man of conviction, courage and faith, and, right after receiving word she has been rescued, didn't the Johnson family friend sweeping the aunt into a giant hug while jumping up and down with joy, crying "Glory Hallelujah, Glory Hallelujah" express the jubilation of us all?

Shoshana Johnson, Lori Piestewa and Jessica Lynch have become part of our American legend, expressing the attitude of Americans toward Americans and our common heart. It's not about gender or race, it's about family.

Some may be thinking that the outburst of emotion upon the rescue of the PoWs was an insult to the numbers of dead and wounded in Iraq. Others will declare that we continue to focus on the former PoWs to divert attention from the ongoing casualties in Iraq.

They don't get it. It is precisely those brief moments of grace and hope triumphant that render meaning to our dead and wounded because the former bespeaks hope even as the latter bespeaks sacrifice.

That right there is the difference between those who buy into the cult of suicide-homicide bombers and us. They are said to sacrifice out of despair, whereas we sacrifice out of hope.

Our strongest national belief is hope. It is that hope which caused our ancestors to emigrate. It is why we work our asses off and steadily believe that the future will be better.

It is expressed by our plea to the Almighty that he stand beside us and guide us because we understand that humility and faith are the bedrock of hope: hope defies logic, statistics, and reason. It's why we supported Terry Schiavo's parents against the poor odds given by the arrogant medical profession, and why we were bewildered when pessimistic Iranian officials gave up all hope of finding survivors. We expect differently from our leaders.

So it doesn't look good. When does it ever? Keep digging, keep trying, don't give up. We didn't find any survivors after the first day the WTC collapsed and we know how much it hurts but keep digging anyway and when you find people alive, jump up and down with joy, thank Allah and hug everybody and keep digging. Blow off the naysayers and dig some more!

Never quit. Leave no one behind. We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail.

We are a people of unlimiting hope. We are Americans precisely because we hope, because we embrace an idea - our belief in the unlimited potential of the individual and thus our confidence and belief in ourselves collectively - upon which we have chosen to make our stand.

No matter what country you come from, you are an American the minute you consciously choose to be an American. George Washington becomes the father of your country and you become one of his descendants. Some of your relatives may piss you off and others are the kind you keep out of sight when company comes over, that's all.

So some of us are nuttier than the rest. Oh well, we say, there's at least one in every family.

I think we need to rework the concept of hyphenated identities. It is flawed because it is backwards. Fiorello LaGuardia should be remembered as an American-Italian, not an Italian-American. How many airports are named after him in Italy? How many statues of Al Smith have been erected in Ireland, or high schools named after Dr. King in Africa? For that matter, is Sir Wilfird Laurier even mentioned in French history textbooks?

None of those men would have been able to achieve their mighty deeds in their hyphenated lands. Just think: those and other great and innovative minds would have lived and died in obscurity had their forefathers not ended up on North American soil.

That's the USA I celebrate. Not the hyper-power America, because the fact that we are as yet unchallenged in world dominance still gives me the willies: I don't like it, and I don't want it. I want to spend my life griping about the government and bitching about taxes, scoffing the media and sighing when I voted that there was no real difference between the candidates. Tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum and tweedle-dum-dum. (The last, for the age-challenged, came from the Humphry-Nixon-Wallace presidential race of 1968.)

When the Soviet Union fell, I thought good, it's over, and expected the only change would be that we would be able to live our lives without the threat from the Soviet Union (although I never forgot that China was a communist nuclear power.)

Anericans are isolationists, and the French agitation about hyperpuissance went below our radar. The fact that we could conquer the world was flawed: we'd have to leave home to do it, and we don't want to. The world is a nice place to visit, but.

Look at how many times al Qaeda attacked us and killed Americans before we finally got collectively angry enough to fight back? They were forced to attack us on our home soil before we stopped firing across their bow.

That reluctance to go to war forms American history more than can be said of most other Western countries, especially those which criticize us strongest now. Remember that even our half-hearted attempts to join Europe in colonizing other lands in the 19th century were abject failures, and as Americans citizens continued to strongly disapprove, we dropped the notion.

The anti-war movement is moving to the next platform: Bring the troops home now. I want to bring them home the second their job is done. I want to wave and cheer them, and thank them, and let them eat some good home cooking in peace because that's what they were fighting for.

Whenever someone asks when will that be I ask Do you cook? Because every cook knows that just because the timer goes off don't mean the roast is ready. It's done when it's done. And we test it, and check the potatoes and carrots too. That's when we pop the biscuits into the oven.

Hmph. And the rest of the world looks down on us thinking we are captives of fast food and immediate gratification.

We are a people of faith, hope and charity. We think those good values, decent values, and stubbornly refuse to surrender to the fatalism and cynicism of the Old World. That's not new, that stubborness and independence of mind are an ongoing theme in our history since our inception of a country, and they have served us well.

So we continue to dig in the rubble of an Iranian village. We stick it out in Iraq even though each death - Iraqi, American, British, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Japanese or Thai - grieves us. We clench our fists and tighten our jaws when we hear of another attack in Israel because we have been made brothers and sisters in the one way nobody wanted: people who continue to endure and hope.

We draw from their example and respond to those who would invoke fear by ignoring the cautions of the media, infusing ourselves with courage and shrugging aside the threat to party hearty in Times Square and honour Shoshana Johnson and, yes, pay tribute to the party-goers who were victims of yesterday's car bomb in Baghdad.

I probably shouldn't say this, but what the hell: WE ROCK!

Posted by Debbye at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)