February 29, 2004

Kerry was in Vietnam, you know

Feb. 29 - Peter's not the only vet irritated with Kerry's continuous references to Vietnam and he expresses it well:

Yes, he had a decent record, but he wasn't Audie Murphy. (For those too young to remember, Murphy won every American valour decoration in WWII and became a movie actor, but never aspired to be president.)

While Bush calls himself a "war president" against terrorism and seeks to bring democracy to Iraq, what has that got to do with Vietnam? Why does Kerry keep raising Vietnam when he gracefully declined to make it an issue when Bill Clinton - a guy who ducked even the National Guard - was president?

I would argue that Kerry keeps Vietnam at the forefront of his campaign because it is just about all he's got. (Emphasis added.)

One drawback faced by US Senators when they run for national office is that their voting records are public record. Maybe that's why successful candidates are often former governors, who have the luxury of explaining how they would have voted! Party discipline in the US is rarely invoked, so Kerry has no convenient excuse for his voting record on defense spending or his approval of the various strong responses to Saddam's flouting of the terms of the 1991 ceasefire during the Bush and Clinton administrations.

Usually senators who run for office proclaim they will stand on their records. Kerry, by relying on his military record rather than his voting record in the Senate, is not running a campaign, so much as indulging a trip down memory lane. And that trip, complete with his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, will re-awaken and infuriate more Vietnam vets and their families than Kerry may have counted on.

More importantly, Americans and the media should be asking "Dude, what you have you done for us lately?" If he is nominated, much less elected, on the basis of whatever he says in front of any given audience rather than his record in the Senate, then shame on us all.

I'm off to work, take care and be sure and read the NY Times article linked a few posts down and re-read Claudia Rosett's article in the Opinion Journal. Maybe some who gets numbers better than I can connect some dots?

It's about time, as reader Sammie notes, that big media outlets began to pay attention to this story. What alarms me most are the similarities in practice to the Adsam scandal.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn is blasting Kerry's voting record on military programs and expenditures - read The John Kerry Cancelled Weapons System of the Day and follow the links.

UPDATE: If you think I'm overstating Kerry's reliance on his past, read this NY Times op-ed by Kerry which talks about - you guessed it - his experiences in Vietnam. He ends the piece with what he felt in 1969. C'mon, John, the voters want more, like how you felt in 1970!

Posted by Debbye at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Haiti

Feb. 29 - A very interesting post at Belmont Club about Canadian intervention in Haiti and points out the biggest problem in countries like Haiti that prevents true reform is thuggery:

Any American involvement should come with strict conditions. The foremost should be an insistence on an active pacification strategy by UN and especially Canadian forces. Experience in the Global War on Terror and in fighting narco-terrorists in Latin America suggests that civil society can never emerge unless the backbone of thuggery is broken. In the context of Haiti this means an aggressive pursuit of warlords, looters and criminal elements that have reduced that country to a shambles. The Canadians should forthwith embark on an intensive intelligence operation to discover the most dangerous elements threatening orderly society and issue their equivalent of a Most Wanted Deck of Cards. Thereafter, the Canadians must simultaneously hunt these men down while rebuilding the Haitian police and judiciary. Only by employing these methods will Haiti and Haitians have any chance of regaining normal life.
CNN says that Aristede has resigned and preparing to leave the country. I wonder if he'll take as long as former Liberian President Taylor.

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

Celebrate the Iraq Constitution

Feb. 29 - There are worse things than not meeting a deadline when you're trying to frame a constitution. Canadians and Americans know fully that what matters is to get it right, recognize you may not be able to get everything right, and leave room for modifications and changes by future generations.

It matters that someone can lose an election and live to campaign in the next election. One look at the recent elections in Iran should be sufficient proof that democracy is not only about elections, it's about having the freedom for free and open debate and field candidates that reflect the different political forces in the country.

An infant USA was initially governed by the Articles of Confederation. We had to discard them and try again! That made us a laughing stock and seemed to prove that the experiement in self rule was doomed, but we tried again and are still tinkering with the system. It wasn't until after the Civil War that we stopped referring to our country as these United States and begin referring to ourselves as the United States.

Time. The process takes time. It demands time. It takes a willingness to become exasperated and try to renew one's patience. And, as with our founders, there are probably a number of groups who are absolutely convinced that they alone are correct.

There are a number of distinctive groups trying to reach a consensus - in itself a radically new approach to governance in the Mid East (except Israel) and, for that matter, a large number of troubled countries in the Third World.

What I find more uplifting are the huge number of newspapers in Iraq and various reports about how citizens are forming governments at the local levels which I see as an early and essential development of grass roots democracy. That's where the seeds for enduring freedom begins and how it builds strength and endurance.

Imagine: in years to come, the people of Iraq will have their own version of The Federalist Papers for people to read, ponder and debate. Such matters don't work according to a calander, they function according to how they manage to debate and compromise. I'm less concerned with how long it takes and utterly excited that it is taking place. What a glorious time for Iraq!

UPDATE: Bob checks out the columns by Siddiqui and McQuaig from today's Toronto Star and notes that their petulance is preventing them from recognizing and rejoicing that democracy has come to Iraq.

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

Abu Sayyaf Claims Ferry Sinking

Feb. 29 - Abu Sayyaf, a group associated with al Qaeda, has taken responsibility for the ferry explosion in the Phillipines that left 180 people missing.

UPDATE: According to Phillipine President Arroyo, there is no evidence that a bomb caused the fire aboard the ferry and dismisses the Abu Sayyaf claim.

Posted by Debbye at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

Nothing in Particular

Feb. 28 - I'd been working on a post about the unrecognized danger of relying on Supreme Court rulings focusing on their 1883 decision which overturned the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which had forbidden segregation in public institutions and effectively reversed the gains made by African-Americans after the Civil War. It took over 70 years (during which Jim Crow laws became entrenched in those states that had them) and numerous court challenges before the Supreme Court finally reversed itself and the US was able to begin to honour its committment to freedom for all its citizens.

I trust the electorate and their ultimate control over legislators more than 9 men and women who are unelected and prey to the ultimate corruption: admiration for their own enlightened selves.

But I got derailed by the NY Times article about the Oil for Food Program (post below) which is about a clearer kind of corruption.

I have to work tomorrow but will try to get it finished and up Monday. Bill Whittle has promised a new post by the end of the weekend so don't forget to check his site.

I could come up with a lot of excuses as to why I can't finish it tonight. I am tired and not finding it easy to write, but the other reason is really geeky: I need to watch the Witchblade episode I taped last night so I can tape the midnight showing of Justice League on YTV. I'd like to think it's because I have eclectic tastes.

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

UN Oil for Food Program

Feb. 28 - Damien Penny says it all in this post about a NY Times article by Susan Sachs (which will appear in tomorrow's edition) about the UN sponsored Oil for Food Program ponderously but accurately titled Hussein's Regime Skimmed Billions From Aid.

Some excerpts:

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.

That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.

[...]

"We used to joke that if you get one million barrels, you could make $200,000," Mr. Faraj, of SOMO, added, referring to a period when the vouchers sold for about 20 cents per barrel. "And yet the ones who got it were those people who used to come here and praise Saddam for his stand against imperialism."

[...]

When Dr. Khidr Abbas became Iraq's interim minister of health six months ago, he discovered some of the effects of Mr. Hussein's political manipulation of the oil-for-food program.

After a review of the ministry's spending, he said, he canceled $250 million worth of contracts with companies he believes were fronts for the former government or got contracts only because they were from countries friendly to Mr. Hussein.

They were paid millions of dollars, said Dr. Abbas, for drugs they did not deliver, medical equipment that did not work and maintenance agreements that were never honored. Iraq, he added, was left with defective ultrasound machines from Algeria, overpriced dental chairs from China and a warehouse filled with hundreds of wheelchairs that the old government did not bother to distribute.

[...]

Yasmine Gailani, a medical technician who worked at a lab specializing in blood disorders, said the political manipulation resulted in deliveries of drugs that varied in quality and dosage every six months.

At one point, she said, the lab was instructed to only buy its equipment from Russian companies, adding, "So we would have to find what we called a Russian `cover' in order to buy from the manufacturer we wanted."

Her husband, Kemal Gailani, is minister of finance in the interim Iraqi government. Last fall, he said, he confronted a United Nations official over the quality of goods that Iraqis received in their monthly rations during the sanctions.

"We were looking at the contracts already approved and the U.N. lady said, `Do you mind if we continue with these?' " he recalled. "She was talking as if it was a gift or a favor, with our money of course. I said, `Is it the same contracts to Egypt and China? Is it the same cooking oil we used to use in our drive shafts, the same matches that burned our houses down, the same soap that didn't clean?' She was shocked."

Dr. Abbas, a surgeon who left his practice in London to return home to Iraq, said he was preparing lawsuits against some of the drug and medical supply companies he said were allowed to cheat Iraqis. He would also like to stop dealing with any company that paid kickbacks, but he said he realized that might not be practical.

But he would like to give them a message.

"I would say to them, it was very cruel to aid a dictator and his regime when all of you knew what the money was and where it was going," he said. "Instead of letting his resources dry up, you let the dictatorship last longer."

Okay, that's more than I intended.

I'm tired and have to go to work tomorrow, so I'll let Damien's excellent post speak for me and only add and damn them some more.

UPDATE: If you haven't done so yet, read Claudia Rosett's article in the Opinion Journal A New Job for Kay.

The Times article is linked at Instapundit, Tim Blair, On the Third Hand, and lgf.

UPDATE: West Coaster Roger Simon is all over The Big Heist and again urging that the UN opens the books.

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

Federal Marriage Amendment

Feb. 28 - Good post by Transplanted Texan Austin about the actual statements made by President Bush when he announced his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment and how at least one of the media in Canada is presenting it as an example of how The Poison Begins to Seep.

On the news portion of the show, given at the top of every hour, Blundell's correspondent (he has a number of them) gave the headlines, as per usual, and recounted the tale of Rosie O'Donnell's 'marriage' to her partner yesterday. Recounting her reasons for marriage, Rosie said, "We were both inspired to come here after the sitting president made the vile and hateful comments he made." But that quote wasn't used in the show. (And nevermind the fact that 'anger' isn't really all that high on the list of good reasons to get married).

What was used in the show was the correspondent's summary of Bush's comments. Now, I believe what the newsreader was attempting to do was summarize Rosie O'Donnell's viewpoint on Bush's statement, but he didn't attribute it to her, and he didn't quote her verbatim. He didn't even say "Rosie said she was getting married in response to Bush's cruel comments." No, he just referred to the comments as evil things.

Let's go take a look at what the President said.

Indeed, do go take a look. It's called fact-checking. It really isn't hard.

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Off to work

Feb. 27 - Yes, I have to go to work even after I've been called in on my days off.

I'm going to assume that everyone in Toronto is planning all kinds of activities that include the glorious weather we're experiencing!

Take care.

Posted by Debbye at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

Kerry

Feb. 27 - Sgt. Mom hits a nerve and she doesn't pull her punches.

In a remarkably short time, the whole war went down the memory hole until one morning I was sitting at breakfast in the kitchen of the Hilltop house, reading the newspaper, with page after page of pictures of frantic people. People cramming around the iron fence of the American Embassy in Saigon, reaching desperately through the bars, people standing shoulder to shoulder in tiny boats, barely afloat as they waited to be rescued, people trampling others to get into a departing aircraft, a straggling line of people going up a ladder to a rooftop, where a man handed them into a helicopter. Pictures of desperate people with bundles, carrying their children, of babies strapped two and three into the seats of aircraft evacuating them to safety, of helicopters being thrown off the deck of an aircraft carrier, to make room for three more, hovering just overhead and crammed with people who had trusted us, depended on us.
I remember those scenes too; I think it was the first time I had doubts that that my opposition to the war and demand for a total, immediate withdrawal might have been short-sighted.

And I think these images are why I too would never consider voting for John Freakin' Kerry.

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

Paul angry

Feb. 27 - Paul angry. Paul mad. Don't f*** with Paul when he's expressing concerns about Canada's ability to defend herself and her borders.

And, well said, Paul.

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

Yes, that Carolyn Parrish

Feb. 27 - It's only libel if it's untrue, right?

Parrish, in turn, is threatening to sue Mahoney and some of his supporters for libel over an advertisement tells local Liberals they must choose between "a rude, careless, vulgar Carolyn Parrish or a reasonable, professional and strong MP, Steve Mahoney."
There's more to the story but that paragraph made me laugh.

UPDATE: Guess who was the parliamentary secretary for Alfonso Gagliano of Adscam fame? As Paul so aptly puts it, I love Karma and we deserve answers!

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

Howard Stern

Feb. 27 - What, they've only just discovered that the content of Howard Stern's show is over the top? (Network pulls plug on Stern.)

This is beyond absurd. Just change the station or turn the radio off if you don't like it.

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

Adscam

Feb. 27 - The evidence for the Adscam who knew and when they knew it continues to morph into who knew and pretended not to know it: Early audit saw flaws which flatly contradicts early suggestions that a rogue band of civil servants are the culprits and Cabinet really, really didn't know there were signs of wrongdoing in the awarding of sponsorship grants.

Note the dates:

An insider blew the whistle on blatant mismanagement of the government's sponsorship program in 1996 with a complaint so serious that the feds called in an outside auditor, a Commons committee heard yesterday. Prime Minister Paul Martin has insisted he wasn't aware of just how seriously mismanaged the $250-million program was until Auditor General Sheila Fraser found in 2002 that Groupaction Marketing billed taxpayers three times -- or $1.6 million -- for the same report.

But the Ernst & Young audit, tabled yesterday at the Commons committee tasked to dig through the sponsorship scandal, was handed to the Grits six years before then.

The audit detailed serious problems ranging from an "appearance of favouritism" during the selection of ad agencies, to meddling from the Privy Council Office.

[...]

According to newly declassified cabinet documents, former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano gave the sponsorship program a glowing endorsement in 2001, a year after a second damning internal audit.

Treasury Board Deputy Minister Jim Judd told the committee that Gagliano's assurances provided "some sense of security that the problems were being addressed."

That same year Treasury Board cancelled rules that required quarterly reports on the advertising and sponsorship activity of the government. (Emphasis added)

The ethical way to handle suspected graft is to eliminate the means to detect and track it! As the current PM sat on that Treasury Board, he has some explaining to do.

But there is another twist that has become a rallying point for the Opposition:

An unnamed minister is quoted in newly declassified minutes of a June 10, 2002, cabinet meeting as saying the $100-million commissions raked in by ad agencies were legitimate expenses. Only months prior the auditor general has accused public servants who handed out sponsorships of breaking every rule in the book.

Liberal House Leader Jacques Saada told the opposition that the minister's identity will only be revealed at a public inquiry. The opposition parties vowed yesterday to keep hammering at the Liberals for the name.

Because getting the name is just sooo important, but addressing the fact that maybe the system is the culprit and seeking to reform that evidently isn't a concern.

I wonder how much more credibility the Opposition parties would garner if they stopped aspiring for sound-bite publicity and actually tried to conduct themselves in ways that would convince the electorate that they are capable of leadership. And yes, that goes for parties on both sides of the border.

Show. Us. Respect.

There will probably be a national election up here sometime this year, but the issue is when. Andrew Coyne has some thoughts as to the timing of an election and his commenters, as always, are having a spirited and thoughtful debate. My personal concern is that if a national election up here is called too close to the presidential election down there, American issues rather than Canadian ones would dominate, but that's admittedly due to the fact that I am overly sensitive to how the unlike America mantra makes an inevitable appearance even in debates of strictly internal Canadian matters.

Posted by Debbye at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

Greg Sorbara, Ont. Min. of Finance

Feb. 27 - Yet another ethics issue in Ontario, this time with the current Liberal government and Finance Minister Greg Sorbara. Royal Group Technologies, for which Sorbara served as a director until he was appointed to the provincial Cabinet, is under criminal investigation, and despite calls for his resignation from the Oppostion, Sorbara is staying as Finance Minister.

The OSC [Ontario Securities Commission], the RCMP and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency are conducting various investigations into the finances of the Woodbridge-based building parts maker.

Despite being told of the investigation by the commission in December, Sorbara said yesterday he didn't tell Premier Dalton McGuinty about it until a company news release made the matter public late Wednesday.

McGuinty said Sorbara was legally bound not to share information about the investigation with him until it was made public this week.

Prior to Sorbara's announcement, the premier had expressed concerns about the province's own stock watchdog initiating the investigations.

[...]

Sorbara was a member of Royal Group's board and chaired the company's audit committee until he was named to McGuinty's cabinet last October. Company officials confirmed he resigned his seat on the board at that time.

[...]

While details of the investigation are scant, the company has disclosed that the OSC is looking into connections between the company's controlling shareholder, Vic De Zen, and a St. Kitts resort, casino and spa, also controlled by De Zen.

In the past five years, the resort has bought $32-million worth of goods and services from Royal Group.

"Mr. Sorbara was not on the board when the company was warned of the investigation," said Royal Group's general counsel Scott Bates.

Sorbara, as Finance Minister, was responsible for the OSC until yesterday when Premier McGuinty transferred responsibility for that post to another cabinet minister.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (12)

US politics as usual

Feb. 27 - I'm glad someone else sees the inherent hypocrisy irony: Enviros Commence Election-Year Attack

The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a widely covered report last week condemning the Bush administration for allegedly politicizing science on a number of controversial issues, ranging from global warming to HIV/AIDS to Iraq's nuclear weapons efforts.

It was quite an ironic charge coming from a self-described activist group whose left-wing, eco-extremist, anti-biotechnology, anti-chemical, anti-nuclear, anti-defense and anti-business screeds embody the very antithesis of the scientific ideal of objectivity.

Rather strong language, but it is definitely Pot.Kettle.Black that environmental activists accuse the Bush administration of politicizing these issues.

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

UN Oil for Food Program

Feb. 27 - This controversy isn't going away; Claudia Rossett works some numbers and find that those for the Oil for Food program don't add up (with many thanks to reader Sammie for the link.)

Open the books! What is so hard to understand?

Maybe those who talk about the international community and international law should consider how dangerous that is when the UN, which purports to represent that internationalization, refuses to be accountable for the money that goes through its books.

No self-respecting country or people would tolerate such arrogance from its own government.

UPDATE: No surprise that Roger L. Simon is on the case.

Posted by Debbye at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

Haiti

Feb. 27 - France calls for Aristide to quit. Opposition leaders in Haiti have made it clear that Artistede's removal is the only condition under which they will negotiate a settlement.

France had already called for the international community to assemble a force to restore order and urged Aristide consider stepping down.

[...]

The Security Council later adopted a statement expressing its deep concern in regard to the deterioration of the political, security and humanitarian environment in Haiti.

So if the international community is unwilling to form a force, will France? They interceded in Ivory Coast, another former French colony, when conditions there deteriorated.

Canada's PM, Paul Martin, has vowed to help Haiti, but Defence Minister David Pratt says that additional military units are unavailable for deployment anywhere. Canadian forces in Haiti have begun evacuating Canadian nationals from the island and are standing by to evacuate more if necessary.

One possibility to peacemaking in Haiti would be the Solomon Islands approach: the neighbouring countries could assemble a force to intervene.

I'm glad the president is keeping the US out of this. It has been entirely too easy for the international community to talk about the need for action but to mean that they expect us to do the hard work. If there really is an international community, let them demonstrate it by their deeds. Thus far the UN has indicated that it won't authorize a peacekeeping force until a political settlement has been reached by the contending parties.

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

Judicial Activism

Feb. 26 - From The Ornery American: an essay by Orson Scott Card on the recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that highlights the usurpation by that court of rights constituionally conferred to the legislative branch of government appropriately titled Humpty Dumpty Logic:

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has not yet declared that "day" shall now be construed to include that which was formerly known as "night," but it might as well.

By declaring that homosexual couples are denied their constitutional rights by being forbidden to "marry," it is treading on the same ground.

Do you want to know whose constitutional rights are being violated? Everybody's. Because no constitution in the United States has ever granted the courts the right to make vast, sweeping changes in the law to reform society.

Regardless of their opinion of homosexual "marriage," every American who believes in democracy should be outraged that any court should take it upon itself to dictate such a social innovation without recourse to democratic process.

Card also has an excellent review of The Passion of The Christ at the site.

(Link via Ith.

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

February 26, 2004

Oil Vouchers

Feb. 26 - I have been engrossed in the following MEMRI document Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 164 - The Saddam Oil Vouchers Affair (courtesy of reader Sandy) during my few breaks these past couple of days.

Although MEMRI doesn't pass judgement as to the veracity of the report published in al-Mada, they seem to be taking the accusations very seriously and include in their report the reactions of those named as taking bribes, those who have refused comment, and what the countries of those charged with accepting the bribes are planning to do.

Another significant fact is that the list was originally in the possession of the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Petroleum is collecting information with the intent of submitting it to Interpol who can investigate the affair further.

The MEMRI document details how Al-Mada stated that the oil voucher program worked:

In general, the vouchers were given either as gifts or as payment for goods imported into Iraq in violation of the U.N. sanctions. The voucher holder would normally tender the voucher to any one of the specialized companies operating in the United Arab Emirates for a commission which initially ranged from $0.25 to $0.30 per barrel, though it may have declined in later years to as little as $0.10 or even $0.05 per barrel because of oil surplus on the market. [7] In other words, a voucher for 1 million barrels would have translated into a quick profit of $250,000-300,000 on the high side and $50,000-100,000 on the low side – all paid in cash. According to Al-Mada, Jordan will seek to tax the illicit profits of citizens who benefited from the sale of the vouchers.

One of the common arguments by recipients of vouchers was that the vouchers paid for goods provided in the framework of the U.N.-administered Oil for Food program. However, under the Memorandum of Understanding governing the program, oil allocations were intended for "end users," meaning those with refineries. Most of the voucher recipients would be considered "non-end users." Moreover, if vouchers were used to pay for goods, it would suggest that these were not authorized by the program and should be considered illicit since all contracts approved by the U.N. were reimbursed from the trust account where the oil revenues were kept, at a French bank, at Iraq's insistence. According to the United Nations: "The oil buyer had to pay the price approved by the Security Council Sanctions Committee into a U.N. escrow account, and the U.N. had to verify that the goods purchased by Iraq were indeed those allowed under the program. But the U.N. had no way of knowing what other transactions might be going on directly between the Iraqi government and the buyers and sellers." [8]

The real eye opener, however, lies in the list of recipients in the Oil Vouchers Program and the large number of Russians implicated in the affair, 46, compared to France, which had 11.

There are 14 recipients listed from Jordan, and as was noted in the above, al-Mada says that the Jordanian government has announced its intention of taxing the illicit profits of citizens who benefited from the sale of the vouchers. They, at least, seem to believe the allegations.

The document also cites the reactions of the other governments which, predictably vary from silence to explanations to intentions to investigate.

The Arab media has not paid too much attention to the list perhaps because prominent names are on the list and freedom of the press in the Mid-East is not guaranteed, although the Lebanese, Jordanian and Iraqi press have published the list.

Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, rumours were circulating around the blogs about bribes to Arabic news agencies, particularly al Jazeera which many of us noted but, as many of these rumours were unattributed, couldn't give much weight to.

The reaction of one person, however, contains echoes of the allegations made nearly a year ago. Mazen Hammad wrote an op-ed for the Qatari daily Al-Watanunder titled "Publish the Names, May Allah Have Mercy on You!" in which he charged:

"The scandal is growing because it is no secret that hundreds of apartments, Mercedes automobiles, cash and various grants were distributed by Saddam's aides to ministers, under secretaries, journalists, writers and artists.
Obviously I recommend you read the whole thing.

I suspect that people will be inclined to believe or disbelieve the allegations according to their own bias, but if Interpol does investigate will that settle the question?

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

Patronage Appointments

Feb. 26 - One of the startling side-benefits of a scandal is how much more evidence tends to come to light about other instances of wrongdoing, even in (gasp!) Ontario (Hydro deals anger Tories - but let us be perfectly clear: the Tories are angry at . . . the Tories, or in particular, Mike Harris, for awarding the untendered contracts to political operatives.)

Freedom of Information documents released this week reveal that publicly owned Hydro One paid out $5.6 million to the companies of key Tory strategists Paul Rhodes, Leslie Noble, Michael Gourley and Tom Long, all influential players in the governments of Mike Harris and Eves.

[...]

And sources told Sun Media that many Tory MPPs are seething behind the scenes, distraught that the revelations are damaging their hard-won reputation as good fiscal managers.

Maybe after all the hand-wringing and lamentations are concluded some real leaders will look at reforming the system to close the obvious loopholes and opportunities for graft and corruption?

Posted by Debbye at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

Adscam

Feb. 25 - Use of the word Adscam is popping up in unexpected places, including this story about the Conservative Party leadership campaign in today's Toronto Sun, Belinda cash hurts party, rival beefs:

OTTAWA -- Conservative leadership frontrunner Stephen Harper says the financial muscle rival Belinda Stronach is flexing in Quebec could tarnish the party's image in a province already rocked by the Adscam sponsorship scandal. The Stronach campaign has repeatedly said it's bound by the same rules as the other leadership candidates and it's playing by them. (My emphasis)
It is even popping up out of context. Is that the next level of acceptance?

Posted by Debbye at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Abdullah Khadr

Feb. 26 - Anyone else find the wording in this article downright weird? Canuck 'suicide bomber' alive:

A Canadian accused by the Taliban of being the suicide bomber who killed a Canadian corporal in Afghanistan last month denies he was behind the attack, CBC-TV's The National reported last night. Abdullah Khadr met with the CBC at a secret location in Pakistan to prove he was not the suicide bomber who killed Cpl. Jamie Murphy.

"If I was the suicide bomber, I wouldn't have been doing this interview with you right now," Khadr told CBC in Islamabad.

It was less of an accusation and more of a celebration, but I can understand where Khadr is coming from. Sort of.

The CBC story and interview are here.

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

Sorry for the non-posting

Feb. 26 - I got derailed from posting Tuesday after an emergency at my workplace. The details are so freaking routine because inept co-workers are everywhere but, like anyone else, I simply wish they were elsewhere.

In short, I don't care what McAfee says, you don't open attachments without scanning them no matter how much you "trust or know" the sender. Worms get into your address book so naturally you're going to get one from someone you know. Trojans and true viruses are devastating, and giggling after you've brought the whole system down may not be grounds for a firing squad but I'm willing to re-examine the issue.

Furthermore, the fact is that I routinely back up my work, but that doesn't mean that no one else has to bother to do so. Certainly I am gratified that my back-ups gave us a reference point, and I try to be the kind of team player who will cheerfully pitch in to reconstruct weeks of work, but doing a back-up is not difficult or time-consuming.

We can back-up our work while we are fixing our hair, freshening our lipstick, making plans with our friends and in truth doing little more than getting ready to bolt as soon as the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 5. It's amazing how little supervision the computers require during back-ups these days.

I swear, some day I'm going to haul out my old computer and let them struggle with DOS. I'm going to grin like a maniac when my co-workers encounter Abort, Retry or Fail? and the only confirmation that the computer has performed the task they requested is a return to the C prompt.

Well, maybe that's too harsh. Dialogue boxes give us the security of telling us what we could logically assume if we actually used, you know, logic, and it would be cruel to remove that basic need for validation and positive reinforcement. People are so needy these days.

If I was a techie-type I would love to rig up a computer with sparks and smoke like they had on Star Trek: TOS just to watch the ensuing hysterics. But maybe I should make sure I already have a signed letter of reference before I did something like that. Bosses are notorious for frowning on innocent jokes that send everyone to the Resource Centre for counselling.

This post is dedicated to The Essay about whom I have thought with gratitude these past two days for already posting about back-ups and weird co-worker issues and gave me reason smile at the most inappropriate times.

Posted by Debbye at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Adscam

Feb. 25 - A column by Chantal Hebert of the Toronto Star, I got $50K from Liberal 'slush fund', reveals something that I think we all suspected: the federal Liberal party in Quebec were not the only ones who fed from the slush fund we call Adscam - the federal sponsorship program.

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

The FMA isn't the issue

Feb. 25 - The discussions about the proposed FMA are hindered by the fact that we haven't yet seen the text of the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Any and all discussions about this are taking place in a literal vacuum.

However, having said that, I too am thinking about this issue and especially about the attendant political and social issues that are unavoidable parts of this controversy.

What I suspect is that although the debate will be about same-sex marriages, the underlying debate will be about judicial activism. In every way, it is regrettable that a long overdue debate about the role of the judiciary in the US is shadowed by an issue that is not properly a federal one and will be too open to homophobic hysteria rather than what I consider to be the real political issue.

Again, I refer to this proposal which would be my choice.

Barring that, it is possible that many other valuable debates will spring out of those around the FMA.

The nuclear family has been the subject of theory and speculation over the past 40 years. Although I'm not convinced that same-sex unions should be called marriages, I most definitely do not believe that same-sex unions threaten the family. Heterosexual marriages have done most of the damage to themselves, and what we are beginning to realize is that both the parents and children suffer when marriages break down.

The family has been experimented on, and, unfortunately, it looks as though our grandparents may have been right.

Grandparents are the ones who used to say things like marry in haste, repent at leisure and you have to do hard things for the sake of your children. (It should go without saying that neither I nor our grandparents were talking about cases involving actual abuse, but I think they would frown when the grounds for divorce were trivial matters as things as squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle.)

I think it has been nearly impossible to have honest, analytical discussions about single-parent families. The last thing in the world any decent person wants to do is criticize those who face the difficult job of raising children without a partner. It is not merely an economic hardship, although that element is certainly present, but it is also a hardship wherein one person is doing a job that really requires two people. It isn't about competence, it's about having someone who's watching your back, so to speak, and on your side. The kids may threaten to outflank one person, but they find it harder to take on two adults who are united and on the offensive.

Anyway, I do find it encouraging that the debate is also encompassing the role of the family in today's society, and I think it properly belongs in the social realm more than in political and social activist realms.

President Bush had alerted the union that he was concerned about judicial activism in his January, 2004, State of the Union Address

Decisions children now make can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us -- parents and schools and government -- must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children.

A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. (Applause.)

The outcome of this debate is important -- and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight. (Emphasis added)

Those of us who remember the debate over passage of the Equal Rights Amendment also remember the debates over what the implications of the passage of the ERA would involve. Many were convinced that passage of the ERA would eliminate legislation that protects women in the workplace and others warned that it would lead to women being drafted into the military.

It will be interesting to see what ground debate over the FMA will cover.

What appears to necessitate passage of the FMA are the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution which states that contracts - such as marriage - entered into in one state will be honoured in other states. That is why the issue of same sex marriages has become a hot button, and why the majority decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court has implications for the other 49 states in the Union.

The debates on blogs has revealed a startling lack of knowledge about how the judiciary is supposed to operate in the US. I've seen far too many mentions of Brown. v. Board of Education Topeka (1954) and little mention of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) which first upheld the separate but equal doctrine. The fact is that the Brown decision was necessary because only the US Supreme Court could overturn Plessy v. Ferguson because it had been previously upheld by the US Supreme Court. As with the earlier Dred Scott decision, many Americans were convinced that the Plessy v Ferguson decision was Constitutionally unsound and continued to fight that battle and eventually won.

The discussions also ignore a crucial fact: separate but equal was not the doctrine of the land. In fact, one of the things that gave impuetus to the civil rights movement were the facts that after the post-WWII migration to the North, not only were northern schools and neighbourhoods integrated with little problem, the desegregation of the Armed Forces caused little difficulty.

I can personally attest to that last item because I was born in the military, and nobody ever bothered to inform me that the neighbours on the left were Negroes and the neighbours on the right weren't. Like most kids, we were more concerned about what toys our neighbouring playmates had, what snacks were available in their homes, and how much trouble we were going to get into when we broke the rules.

Sometimes the children do lead the way.

I've stated earlier that ultimately the issue will be recognized as one of equal protection under the law, but there's no absolute time-frame during which different compromises and state-by-state approval of same-sex civil unions must take place, and that's the good news and bad news about how things work in the US.

(I'm ignoring the hoopla in San Fransisco because I can recognize populism and extra-legal publicity stunts without cue cards.)

Judicial activism is a run-around to the democratic process. On any given issue, it may seem enlightened but that in itself argues a kind of elitism that Americans have long rejected. Taking decisions out of the hands of the electorate represents the worst kind of danger to democracy because although the will of the people may sometimes be wrong, establishment of unprecedented law by the imposition of 5 judges is by far the biggest danger that faces a democratic people.

In order to really believe in the democratic process, one has to believe that given time and reason, people will do the right thing. Without that implicit faith, we are a hollow pretense socially and politically.

Posted by Debbye at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

Abu Hamza Dead

Feb. 26 - Reports that Abu Mohammed Hamza, Zarqawi Bomb-Maker, was Killed in Iraq Feb. 19 were confirmed Tuesday in a DoD briefing.

Soldiers going door to door on a civil affairs mission (Fox reports they were handing out election pamphlets) were met with gunfire when they knocked on the door. Hamza was killed in the gunfight and 3 others captured. Soldiers found a quantity of explosives and bomb making materials inside.

The Fox report states that a soldier was killed, but the DoD briefing indicates he was wounded.

Posted by Debbye at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

Missile Defense Vote

Feb. 25 - Liberals break ranks during missile defence vote

According to the above, 30 out of 71 votes in support of a Bloc Quebecois motion against participating with the USA in talks about a missile defense program were from the Liberal Party caucus (155 MPs voted against the motion.)

Allowing more free votes in Parliament should prove extremely interesting for constituencies as well as giving Canadians as a whole a closer look at the different political viewpoints within the Liberal caucus.

Posted by Debbye at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

New al Qaeda tape

Feb. 25 - Things certainly have changed these past two years. Now a new tape purportedly from al Qaeda barely makes a ripple (Probable al Qaeda tapes warn of more attacks.)

But this is rather odd:

The messages -- also heavily criticizing U.S. President George W. Bush -- were aired on the Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera Arabic-language TV networks Tuesday. According to Al-Arabiya's chief editor, the tapes were different.

Posted by Debbye at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Kerry and Iranian Elections

Feb. 24 - Michael Ledeen on the The Great Iranian Election Fiasco:

The regime clearly intends to clamp down even harder in the immediate future. Hints of this were seen in the run-up to the election, when Internet sites and foreign broadcasts were jammed, the few remaining opposition newspapers shut down, and thousands of security forces poured into the major cities. One wonders whether any Western government is prepared to speak the truth about Iran, or whether they are so determined to arrive at make-believe deals - for terrorists that are never delivered, for promises to stop the nuclear program, that are broken within minutes of their announcement, or for help fighting terrorism while the regime does everything in its power to support the terrorists - that they will play along and pretend, as Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has put it, that "Iran is a democracy."

For those interested in exposing hypocrisy, it is hard to find a better example than all those noble souls who denounced Operation Iraqi Freedom as a callous operation to gain control over Iraqi oil, but who remain silent as country after country, from Europe to Japan, appeases the Iranian tyrants precisely in order to win oil concessions.

Meanwhile, the only Western leader who consistently speaks the truth about Iran is President George W. Bush, and the phony intellectuals of the West continue to call him a fool and a fascist. Meanwhile, his most likely Democrat opponent, Senator John Kerry, sends an e-mail to Tehran Times, Iran's official English-language newspaper, promising that relations between the United States and Iran would improve enormously if Kerry were to be elected next November.

That last bit, the overtures by Sen. Kerry to the mullahs, is hardly in the spirit of the real JFK, John F. Kennedy.

Many people, both domestically and internationally, put themselves out on a limb when they denounced action in Iraq and called for policies of negotiation and containment for Iran and North Korea. The Democrat primary season is already full of those who would rather talk with those who openly call for our destruction than take a strong, firm stance (backed up by the proven willingness to use force) and those candidates ignore the biggest problem with their position: that the suggested containment is for countries that have developed sophisticated work-arounds for trade sanctions, and the suggested negotiations are with countries that have consistently violated treaties.

A fascinating aspect of the nuclear arms trade uncovered since Libya chose to disarm voluntarily is the far-flung international network set up to disseminate nuclear weapons technology and the success with which these programs operated under the noses of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I would like to see the remaining Democrat hopefuls address these issues and explain how trusting our defense and lives to their appeasement policies is safeguarding the future.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

Islam in Conflict in Cleveland

Feb. 24 - An interesting article over at Tech Central about a conflict within a Cleveland mosque (Islam in Conflict in Cleveland) which seems to lend weight to speculation that Muslims in the US are involved in a quiet struggle to expose and remove radicals who support and agitate for jihad against the USA.

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

February 23, 2004

Ralph Nader

Feb. 23 - The fabricated firestorm over Ralph Nader's announcement that he will run in the upcoming presidential elections is a good example of the media creating a story where there is none. They are focusing on the effect of the Nader campaign in 2000 without providing the context of Sept. 11.

Did anyone in the USA wish fervently that Nader had won after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon?

There is also a gross deception: the pundits are ignoring the facts from the 2000 campaign by failing to recognize the splinter votes that went to the Libertarian and Reform Parties.

Third Party Unlikely to Field a Spoiler offers a bit of balance.

There have been important third parties in America's history. Ross Perot's Reform Party was the most successful in recent years, but the campaigns of Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party and the Socialist Party under Eugene V. Debs also had an impact in national elections. Furthermore, have members of the media totally forgotten the roots of both the Democrats and Republicans?

Actually, the Whigs aren't entirely gone or forgotten, although I'm not sure if Alexander Hamilton would consider the latest incarnation his true heirs.

Posted by Debbye at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

Adscam

Feb. 23 - Auditor General Sheila Fraser is naming some names: Who got what.

Not surprisingly, Groupaction is involved:

Groupaction got $6.7 million in two uncompetitive ad contracts.

One, for $5.4 million with Justice Canada, was given despite protests from Justice officials, who twice informed Public Works "they were not satisfied with Groupaction's work." The other, a $1.3-million deal with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, was given months after Public Works canceled a competitive process to pick an agency.

Groupaction was paid $795,000 for two contracts for which there is no evidence services were actually provided - one to promote the federal gun registry and another to sponsor, among other events, car races and horse shows.

The CCRA was involved? Anyone else up to their eyeballs with their employer's fiscal year end as well as readying their income tax returns? It's getting hard not to take these revelations personally.

Posted by Debbye at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Adscam - It's about our money, idiots

RECAP: Jaeger wrote Nous sommes en direct de la Rue des Pussies.

Laurent wrote We're All Catholics Now in response and Jaeger wrote We're All Catholics Now?. I'm putting them up at the top here because these posts have been a fascinating analysis of political and social changes in Quebec and thus Canada over the past 50 years.

Colby Cosh pointed out when the extent of outrage over Adscam became apparent that, in a twisted way, the aims of the Communication Canada program had been achieved: the country seems quite united--against the Liberals-- and we've seen the true nature of the government.

Tom Brobeck says it's all about trust:

What some Liberal MPs don't seem to understand about the Paul Martin scandal is that it goes well beyond the $250 million squandered on a bogus sponsorship program.

It's not about Quebec versus the rest of Canada -- a charred old chestnut some people in Ottawa are still willing to roast.

And it's not really about the extent to which the prime minister knew of the bogus contracts.

What this story is really about, and what the anger toward the Liberal government is about, is trust.

Paul Martin and the Liberal government broke the public trust.

[...]

Anyone who thinks this is just about the funneling of $100 million into bogus commissions to Liberal outfits doesn't understand politics.

You've got to go through the body count to even begin to understand what all the fuss is about.

It's the Human Resources "billion-dollar boondoggle," where hundreds of millions of dollars went missing and contracts were given out to companies where rules of engagement were completely ignored.

Paul Martin was the finance minister and vice-chair of Treasury Board during those years. Did he not pay attention to where all the money was going?

It's the billion-dollar, soon to be $2-billion, gun registry -- a program with questionable benefits that's gobbling up tax money faster than they can print it. Anne McLellan was the justice minister through many of those years. Did she have no handle whatsoever on the costs? She's now the deputy prime minister.

It's the employment insurance scandal, where billions of dollars are going missing every year. Paul Martin has charged workers and employers $44 billion more in EI premiums than he's paid out. And the money has been lost in general revenues.

Those were decisions Martin made. He balanced the books with EI money. And people got ripped off.

There's the advertising scandal exposed in Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report where -- among other things -- contracts were going out when no work was done at all.

Martin was in charge at the time. Where was the due diligence?

Then there's the sponsorship scandal where Liberal-friendly communications firms were getting 40% commissions for doing virtually no work at all.

What strikes me is that, although the stated aims of Communication Canada may have seemed superficial, Canadians were willing to pay for the program because they are genuinely interested in keeping Quebec in Confederation. That the program turned out to be an opportunist method for the federal Liberals to repay past contributors betrayed that interest, and, I think, hurt Canadians to the quick. The attempt to pass it off as Quebec corruption was a totally unprincipled act: those who claim to desire unity appealed to francophobia in an attempt to save their own hides.

People who speak about the lesser of two evils might want to re-think what they call evil.

So what next?

Andrew Coyne has been hosting a Constitutional debate here and the question of if Martin will call an election in the spring or wait until the investigation into Adscam is concluded here with Jay Currie's thoughts on the probable timing of the election here.

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

Iran's Election Aftermath

Feb. 22 - From the IHT, Eight Iranians are dead in two incidents between protesters and police in the aftermath of Friday's elections.

Four people, including one police officer, died in Firouzabad in the Fars province in southern Iran. After a crowd marching to the governor's office to demand a recount was fired upon and one person wounded, the crowd grew and three civilians and a policeman were killed.

An additional four were killed in Izeh in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran when police and demonstrators clashed in a protest over election results.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: From reports from the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran and Iran va Jahan: there were additional protests at election fraud in Dehdasht where between two and nine people are reportedly killed, and this link says that the outgoing MP in Izeh was beaten by the bodyguards of a judicial official after pointing out the cheatings, went into a coma and died (that adds considerably more context to the clashes there than the first link.)

A conscript soldier was reportedly killed in clashes in Firoozabad, Fars (it's not certain which side he was on and if his death was the one said to be of a police officer in the IHT article) but the article doesn't mention further deaths. The people have set fire to the banks in Estefan in response to financial fraud.

The reports state that the security forces are composed of those who support the hardliners as well as Afghanis and Iraqi refugees here and here.

(Links via Kthy at On the Third Hand.)

Pedram has written a wonderful movie version of the situation in Iran "Hollywood style" to respond to those who wonder why the Iranians don't just Get up & get rid of their tyrants. It's incredibly funny and sad and truthful.

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

February 22, 2004

War on terror - Afghanistan, Israel

Feb. 22 - My family can be very strange sometimes. They spent the evening on the MLB website and discussed baseball during the breaks in last night's hockey game.

Don Cherry's hat, however, had their undivided attention.

Yes, they too often read the scroll on the (muted) Sports Highlight channel or rewatch the Sports Centre several times in case breaking news is announced.

News I want to reference but don't have time to comment overly on:

Suspect captured in land-mine incident last year's incident that killed two Canadian soldiers and possibly linked to the bombing attack that killed 4 German soldiers.

The suspect is believed to be a member of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, which Canadian officers describe as the third-largest terrorist organization in Afghanistan, after al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Conservatives in Iran claim victory. Or a landslide. It's one thing to hold power, another thing to wield it.

Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade is claiming responsibility for a terrorist attack in Jerusalem that killed 7 and seriously injured 11 (I don't count the killer among the casualties.)

Palestinian negotiator Serb Erakat is quoted with the usual rhetoric in the article. He condemns the terrorist attack and still refers to the road map. You need new material, sir. That old line isn't flying.

UPDATE: Roger Simon links to a BBC article from last November which states that the Palestinian Authority has been giving members of Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade money for living expenses - approxmately $250 per month - in an effort to "wean the gunmen away from terrorism" totalling about $50,000 per month. The BBC also claimed that close links exist between by el Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade.

Hearings begin tomorrow in the International Court of Justice over whether the wall violates international law. Kofi Annan says the wall is counterproductive to the road map. Hello? So are bombing attacks on Israeli citizens. If a state won't take measure to protect its citizenry it fails in its primary responsibility.

Yahoo Canada is down and I can't access my email, but I'll try again after work.

Take care, it's a beautiful, sunny day outside and the snow is melting quickly. For my neighbours who haven't cleared the drains, do you think you could get around it today? I love lakes, but this is ridiculous.

Take care, everyone.

Posted by Debbye at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2004

Running late

Feb. 21 - I'm running late, but wanted to pass a suggestion that people follow the link at Andrew Coyne's website and read his column.

Also, Iranian bloggers have continued to post as they await the results of yesterday's election.

Take care, I'll be checking in after dinner.

Posted by Debbye at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Iran Elections

Feb. 21 - Some reports from Iran:

A number of election day observations at iranFilter that indicate the pressure to have evidence that you voted stamped on your ID card was intense, there were a lot of police guarding the polls and some other things noticed that were out of the ordinary.

The eyeranian added updates during the day as well as a report on some jerrymandering that was caught out. Keep scrolling, he's got some interesting things to say on a lot of subjects.

IRVAJ English

One student preparing to take her university entrance exams was told that if she had a stamp, then the academic authorities would look upon her more favourably – she would be seen as having done her civic duty.

Some of those turning up for stamps, and others just making a stand, have submitted blank ballots. Even reformist candidates who had not been disqualified boycotted the election. It's a big movement.

Read the whole thing.

(Last link via Kathy)

Posted by Debbye at 02:44 AM | Comments (0)

Malaysian connection to Dr. Khan

Feb. 21 - A report prepared by IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei for presentation to a board of directors meeting next month is to reveal that Libya made plutonium, according to diplomats (no names are given in the report.)

Libya's success in enriching uranium means that its weapons program was much more advanced than the IAEA had originally believed.

The man who was suspected of being the negotiator and representative for Abdul Oadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology on the black market to countries as Libya and Iran, is Malaysian resident Buhary Syed Abu Tahir and he admitted Friday that he was the middleman in many transactions on behalf of Khan in his black market network.

According to a statemen issued by Malaysian police, in 1995

"[Khan] had asked B.S.A. Tahir to send two containers of used centrifuge units from Pakistan to Iran," the statement by Malaysian police said.

"B.S.A. Tahir organized the transshipment of the two containers from Dubai to Iran using a merchant ship owned by a company in Iran."

Posted by Debbye at 02:13 AM | Comments (0)

Quebec

Feb. 21 - Jaeger has written about the "Francization" of Canada in Nous sommes en direct de la Rue des Pussies that needs to be read more than once.

... Up until 1968 the British model of decentralized free institutions suited Canada fine, even when the Prime Minister was a French Canadian. Until then if there was a conflict between French and Anglo ideas it tended to be the Anglo majority that would triumph. That only changed when we elected a megalomaniac who decided to remodel the federal government into something more amenable to the French intellectuals on the left bank of the Seine. The French intellectuals and their fellow travelers may sneer at McDonald's fast food, but when it comes to government they insist on SuperSizing and centralizing it. ..

[...]

And when it comes to governing philosophy, size matters. It is not entirely incorrect to generalize that Quebec politicians will lean toward the interventionist, dirigiste, l'tat c'est moi philosophy as is fashionable in France, and Albertans won't. That wasn't true in Laurier's time, but it is in ours. And it is certainly true that bloated, interventionist governments attract charlatans, hucksters and crooks like moths to a flame. So if that's the type of Quebec-bashing people want to engage in, I say bring it on. ..

Terrific, fact-based post about the political environment in Quebec.

Laurent has replied to Jaeger's post and argues that Canada has undergone Catholicization in We're All Catholics Now:

... I think the key to understanding the last decades of change in Canadian politics is not French vs. Anglo but Catholic vs. Protestant. Quebec and Canada may now be quite secular, but the cultural habits of thought and action shaped by centuries of religious belief and practices simply don't go away overnight.
Another post that needs to be read more than once.

UPDATE: And Jaeger responds.

Posted by Debbye at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

Haiti

Feb. 21 - Bob is paying some attention to a neighbour in trouble, Haiti, and analyzing why nobody is talking about it. Good read.

Posted by Debbye at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

I'm off

Feb. 20 - I'm off to work, so don't forget to check Andrew Coyne for the latest news on Adscam (and don't forget to use "Adscam" in your post - google is up and running with it.)

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

Kazakhstan in nuclear black market?

Feb. 20 - Kazakhstan has opened in inquiry into the possibility that the nuclear black market might be linked to the Almaty office of a Dubai company:

The black market's potential connection to Kazakhstan - which served as a nuclear testing ground until it disarmed after its 1991 independence - has raised concern about the proliferation of remnants of the Soviet weapons program. Kazakh officials strongly deny any highly enriched uranium - the form used in weapons - has leaked out of the country.
Note that this is still speculation, but questions have arisen repeatedly about the security of Soviet weapons and weapons programs since the fall of the Soviet Union.

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

Chretien: Teflon; Martin: Velcro

Feb. 20 - Margaret Wente's column If Chretien was Teflon, Martin is Velcro gets an instalaunch.

Posted by Debbye at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

Elections in Iran

Feb. 20 - Some quick hits about today's elections: Telegraph (UK) reporter David Blair compares attitudes toward the USA in Iran including something I didn't know:

Some of those who scaled the embassy walls in 1979 are now among the reformist politicians who have been disqualified from contesting today's parliamentary election.
Memories of the Embassy takeover doubtless plague Americans as well as our leaders, but from what I've read around the blogosphere, Americans are increasingly impressed by those waging the struggle for freedom over there and that's the best cure for past grudges.

Americans never met a freedom fighter they didn't take to heart. We're weird that way, if not always accurate in our assessment. But in Iran, actions - or in this case, inaction - are speaking louder than words as they could face prosecution for failing to vote.

But Eye on Iran notes that streets are empty and that there have been reports of police finding truckloads of fake Iranian ID booklets which may indicate an attempt to artificially inflate the number of votes.

Keep checking Iran Filter today for news about the elections, and keep some good thoughts for those in Iran who are facing one of their biggest challenges in recent years.

Just another quick point: we often forget that Iranian bloggers are working underground, and that if caught, they are jailed. How much we take our freedoms for granted here . . .

UPDATE: The BBC is reporting that polling hours have been extended because, according to the Persian government, too many people want to vote (or is that too few?)

UPDATE: David Frum issues a call to Pres. Bush to formulate policy and strategy for Iran.

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

Federal Marriage Amendment

Feb. 20 - California's Governor Schwarzenegger has been forced to state the obvious: Gay marriage licenses illegal. Thank you CNN, we know that the governor does not have to power to overturn state law.

I'm going to be brief (you're welcome!) because we went through this in Canada some time ago. (UPDATE: I meant to be brief, but sometimes these posts take on lives of their own.)

Firstly, I high recommend people read this by Eric of Classical Values:

Forget logic, and forget facts. Americans simply do not like being told from above what to think, and what laws they may not have. While getting rid of sodomy laws was certainly the right thing to do, there is nonetheless something undignified about the Supreme Court simply issuing decrees as an end run around popular prejudices -- regardless of how indefensible those prejudices are.

This apparent fickleness, in my view, reveals an indelible feature of the American character -- a contrarian spirit which can be both damnable and laudable. A leading Israeli intellectual recently stated that most Israelis have a Mezuzah attached to their door frames, but that if the government were to order them to display a Mezuzah, about half of them would run outside and yank them off.

That's right, he wrote it short after the Lawrence vs. State of Texas decision last year, and his points about our contrarian instincts briefly overcoming our deep beliefs in equality under the law hold true today, as well. (I'm certainly not disparaging the contarian instincts either; often it's a good knee-jerk reaction to er, knee-jerk reactions.)

Eric also explains the problems with the temporary restaining order filed in San Francisco and agrees that it fails to meet the "irreparable harm" criteria.

I still don't believe that the Federal Marriage Amendment will be approved by the requisite number of state legislatures (don't forget a state legislature can reverse approval at a later date) but I do believe that a number of states will recognize the fairness of passing "civil union laws" or, perhaps as Donald Sensing suggests, sensibly get out of the marriage business altogether (but it's highly unlikely - governments rarely give up jurisdiction over anything, at least at this point in our history.)

One Constitutional amendment I could really get behind is one Doc Rampage brings up is "An alternative to the Federal Marriage Amendment":

So how about an entirely different amendment that would use this popular issue to do something worthwhile? Instead of a Federal Marriage Amendment, we could have a Federal Constitution Amendment that says we are a constitutional federation of states governed by elected representatives, not an oligarchic monolithic state ruled by appointed judges. With the growing outrage over judicial activism, this may be our best chance to get such an amendment passed.
It is common sense to respond to popular indignation by addressing the root causes of that indignation, so to introduce a constitututional amendment that reaffirms the Constitution and the rights of the states would stop the bigger danger of an activist judiciary and, by refocusing people on what they are really upset about, give them time to remember that denying gays civil rights goes against our deepest value, which is that all citizens are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

Food for thought.

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

Bloc and Conservatives could form minor govt?

Feb. 20 - Fascinating post at Le blog de Polyscopique which jabs the NDP over-eagerness to form a minority government with the federal Liberal Party but makes a point that is, in retrospect, perfectly obvious (which is probably why it has been overlooked):

Maybe a Conservative-Bloc coalition (which would be vaguely reminescent of the Conservative-Nationaliste alliance which formed the Borden government in 1911) could endure as long as the Bloc did not have emotive social-democrat reactions and realized that an agenda of reducing the size, budget and influence of the federal government is perfectly compatible with an agenda of greater provincial autonomy.
He also notes the difficulty of keeping such a government focused, but the possibilities are intriguing.

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

Toronto isn't Hobbiton

Feb. 20 - Anthony wants Mayor Miller to realize he's not in the Shire anymore. Excellent post.

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2004

Elections in Iran

Feb. 19 - Tomorrow are the Iranian national elections. The banning of thousands of candidates, including some sitting parliamentarians, has led to calls for a boycott of the elections, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi has announced she will not vote, the Council of Guardians has made threats against boycotters, and the Ayatollah Khameini has told Iranians to vote.

The office of the main reform party, the Islamic Iran Partipation Front, was closed and sealed and two newspapers which supports the reformers were also shut down today by authorities in Iran. hoder writes from Iran:

If we really needed one thing to stop the more traditional supporters of the reform from voting, that'd be it, the closure of two major papers.
He also expresses fear that shutting down the one paper, Yaas-e No, which was the only publication permitted to be published by the main reformist party, is a prelude to shutting down the party.

The outcome of the vote is pre-determined, but the question is how many will defy the Ayatollah and boycott the elections?

Michael Ledeen at the National Review has an interesting piece up, and some of the rumours parallel those we heard last summer during the student demonstrations - that the police wouldn't break up the demonstations - with stories that soldiers from the regular army joined demonstrators in Marivan in west Iran 5 days ago.

Not all legislators have been as weak-willed as President Khatami:

The other great lesson is that many Iranians, when pushed to the wall by the tyrants, do indeed have the courage to fight back. In an unprecedented step, more than 100 reformers issued a letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei, in which they used language more traditionally reserved for greater and lesser satans in Washington and Jerusalem. They surely know that punishment will be severe, but they did it anyway. One fine day such shows of courage will inspire the Iranian people to defend them en masse, fill the public spaces of the major cities with demonstrators, and demand an end to the regime.
Some of the letter's contents are here, and Bob expresses his admiration for those who signed the letter and hopes they will be remembered for generations to come.

After a rundown of some of the candidates, Ledeen includes a chilling piece of information:

The chief of staff of the armed forces has cancelled all leaves for all military personnel starting Tuesday for one week. All soldiers have been commanded to cast their ballots in the elections on Friday, as have all members of the revolutionary guards and all air force personnel.
The fact that they have been ordered to vote is one thing, but the real threat is that all leaves are cancelled so the military is effectively in a state of alert.

There is an inherent problem with sending in the army to quell civil demonstration: the soldiers have families and communities, and they are unwilling to fire on a crowd of civilians who may include people they know. Furthermore, many soldiers are sympathetic to the aims of the demonstrators and know that many reforms passed by Parliament were rejected by the Council of Guardians.

The earthquake in Bam angered a great many Iranians who understood fully that the death toll was so high because the government was not using the wealth of the nation to upgrade the homes much less the lives of its citizens, and there is deep suspicion that the explosion that killed so many yesterday was due to the aging brake system on trains that were poorly maintained.

The elections will be covered by bloggers according to Hosseim Derakhshan (you can read his call to blog here) and they will have a site in English here for what he is calling the 9/11 for the Persian blogosphere.

I find it wryly amusing that CNN has discovered that there are Iranian bloggers and their numbers include women. Too bad CNN doesn't read Instapundit or they'd know that was hardly news.

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

Russian Hypersonic Missile

Feb. 19 - According to Russian Col.-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, the Russian military has successful tested a hypersonic missile that would be able to move too quickly and evasively to be stopped by a missile defense shield.

After assuring the world that they did not intend to use the missile against the US, the Russians said that the missile expired after the test, probably meaning that it burnt up in the atmosphere.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Nuclear Black Market

Feb. 19 - According to US officials, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have found Uranium enrichment centrifuge parts found in Iran that were much more sophisticated that those declared.

Also, the Roots of Pakistan Atomic Scandel Traced to Europe according to the NY Times.

The records show that industry scientists and Western intelligence agencies have known for decades that nuclear technology was pouring out of Europe despite national export control efforts to contain it.

Many of the names that have turned up among lists of suppliers and middlemen who fed equipment, materials and knowledge to nuclear programs in Pakistan and other aspiring nuclear nations are well-known players in Europe's uranium enrichment industry, a critical part of many nuclear weapons programs. Some have been convicted of illegal exports before.

The proliferation has its roots in Europe's own postwar eagerness for nuclear independence from the United States and its lax security over potentially lethal technology. It was abetted, critics say, by competition within Europe for lucrative contracts to bolster state-supported nuclear industries. Even as their own intelligence services warned that Pakistan could not be trusted, some European governments continued to help Pakistan's nuclear program.

[...]

The problem began with the 1970 Treaty of Almelo, under which Britain, Germany and the Netherlands agreed to develop centrifuges to enrich uranium jointly, ensuring their nuclear power industry a fuel source independent of the United States. Urenco, or the Uranium Enrichment Company, was established the next year with its primary enrichment plant at Almelo, the Netherlands.

Security at Urenco was by most accounts slipshod. The consortium relied on a network of research centers and subcontractors to build its centrifuges, and top-secret blueprints were passed out to companies bidding on tenders, giving engineers across Europe an opportunity to appropriate designs.

Dr. Khan, who worked for a Urenco Dutch subcontractor, Physics Dynamic Research Laboratory, was given access to the most advanced designs, even though he came from Pakistan, which was already known to harbor nuclear ambitions. A 1980 report by the Dutch government on his activities said he visited the Almelo factory in May 1972 and by late 1974 had an office there.

The Dutch government report found that in 1976, two Dutch firms exported to Pakistan 6,200 unfinished rotor tubes made of superstrong maraging steel. The tubes are the heart of Urenco's advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges.

In 1983, a Dutch court convicted Dr. Khan in absentia on charges of stealing the designs, though the conviction was later overturned on a technicality. Nonetheless, in the late 1980's, Belgian ministers led delegations of scientists and businessmen to Pakistan, despite warnings from their own experts that they were meeting with people involved in the military application of nuclear technology

"Every well-informed person knows the inherent danger of an intense collaboration with a country such as Pakistan," wrote Rene Constant, director of Belgium's National Institute of Radioactive Elements in February 1987, chastising Philippe Maystadt, then the country's minister of economic affairs, after one such visit.

That same year, despite American warnings to Germany that such a sale was imminent, a German firm exported to Pakistan a plant for the recovery of tritium, a volatile gas used to increase the power of nuclear bombs. The company simply called the plant something else to obtain an export license.

"The export control office didn't even inspect the goods," said Reinhard Huebner, the German prosecutor who handled the subsequent trial of the company's chief, Rudolf Ortmayers, and Peter Finke, a German physicist who went to Pakistan to train engineers there to operate the equipment. Both men were sentenced to jail for violating export control laws.

But there were clues that the technology had spread even further: a German intelligence investigation determined that Iraq and possibly Iran and North Korea had obtained uranium-melting expertise stolen from Urenco in 1984, Mr. Hibbs reported in Nucleonics Week several years later.

In 1989, two engineers, Bruno Stemmler and Karl Heinz Schaab, who had worked for Germany's MAN New Technology, another Urenco subcontractor, sold plans for advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges to Iraq. They went to Baghdad to help solve problems in making the equipment work.

In 1991, after the first Iraq war, international inspectors were stunned to discover the extent of Saddam Hussein's hidden program. Mr. Schaab was later convicted of treason but only served a little more than a year in jail. Mr. Stemmler died before he could be tried.

David Albright, a former weapons inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he helped retrieve a full set of the blueprints from Iraq after the major combat operations ended last year. United States inspectors have not found evidence that Mr. Hussein had restarted his nuclear program, but Mr. Albright said there were still drawings unaccounted for.

As always, read the whole thing.

Since I'm looking at nuclear proliferation, I'm also including a Washington Post article Libyan Arms Designs Traced Back to China:

The bomb designs and other papers turned over by Libya have yielded dramatic evidence of China's long-suspected role in transferring nuclear know-how to Pakistan in the early 1980s, they said. The Chinese designs were later resold to Libya by a Pakistani-led trading network that is now the focus of an expanding international probe, added the officials and experts, who are based in the United States and Europe.

The packet of documents, some of which included text in Chinese, contained detailed, step-by-step instructions for assembling an implosion-type nuclear bomb that could fit atop a large ballistic missile. They also included technical instructions for manufacturing components for the device, the officials and experts said.

China's assistance to Pakistan is believed to have ended in the early 1980's.

The atomic weapon exploded by Pakistan in 1998, however, is of a different design than that in the blueprints found in Libya.

Finally, the middleman who delivered the material to Libya is still unknown and is said to have covered his tracks quite well.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

Iran Train Explosion

Feb. 19 - The death toll has risen to 320 and injuries to 460 from the explosion that killed 182 firefighters and flattened homes in five villages after an unattended freight train rolled out of a station before dawn and, after traveling 31 miles and reaching speeds of more than 90 mph, all but 3 of 51 cars derailed when it came to a turn near Khayyam and jumped the track.

The train had caught on fire after derailing and burned for nearly 5 hours. It was nearly extinguished when fertilizer, gasoline and industrial chemicals which were aboard exploded. The explosion measured 3.6 on the Richter scale and left a 50-foot deep crater. The firefighters, rescue workers, Governor Mojtaba Farahmand-Nekou, and officials from the city of Neyshabur including the fire chief and mayor who were on the scene were killed instantly.

The AP article makes for difficult reading, and it's even harder when we remember the devastating Bam earthquake last December that killed more than 41,000 people.

More than 20,000 mourners lined the streets as the flag-draped body of their governor, Mojtaba Farahmand-Nekou, was driven through the nearby city of Neyshabur.

The cause of the derailment has not been established, but investigators are looking at negligence or brake failure.

The Toronto Sun has coverage here.

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

Stirrings of Democracy

Feb. 19 - Thomas L. Friedman makes some interesting observations about Look Who's Talking and what they're talking about.

... What the critics miss, though, is that the U.S. ouster of Saddam Hussein has also triggered the first real "conversation" about political reform in the Arab world in a long, long time. It's still mostly in private, but more is now erupting in public. For this conversation to be translated into broad political change requires a decent political outcome in Iraq. But even without that, something is stirring.
It's too easy for me to go all happy at cautiously good news, so I'm trying to restrain myself here but I am pleased that one of my war aims seems to be proving out.

I saw changing regimes in Iraq as the best, possibly last hope for upsetting stability in the Mid-East. I know that offends a lot of people, but considering that the status quo consists of keeping millions of people living in tyranny, arguing to preserve that status quo and thus that stability overlooks the fact that the only stable place in this life is in the grave.

The regime change in Iraq and the revelations about Saddam's rule have been sobering for many people and not only in the Middle-East. As the humiliation factor began to be discussed, others recognized the opportunity factor because, if Iraq represents anything, why not the prospect for changing our own country factor?

To put it another way, why despair when you can have hope?

I believe, as I said yesterday that the most important inspiration comes from the students in Iran, and that is as it should be. There is a similarity of experience, repression, lack of seeing a better future unless things change, and, above all, there is the all-important leadership by example that causes people to think If they can do it, why can't we?

So Iraq will be the proof that a Mid-East country can have a successful government run by consensus, and Iran will be the proof that struggle is possible.

As every tyrant knows, nothing is more dangerous than ideas. People who have ideas tend to discuss them with other people, and suddenly a lot of people are discussing and sharing those ideas and then they gain confidence that as rational, thinking beings, they don't need to be ruled by anyone except themselves.

Maybe the closest analogy I can come to is the collapse of the Soviet Union, and how events separated by time but closely related by ideas sent not a shock wave but long, continuous tremors throughout Eastern Europe. Hungary and Czechslovakia rebelled in different ways, and each country dealt with the invading Soviet army differently. People had never given up, they were thinking, learning and planning new strategies. So the Poles tried a different approach, and the Soviet Union, already over-extended and weary after the stiff resistance they faced in Afghanistan, couldn't stop them.

The victory of Solidarity is when I date the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union, and yet three important events preceeded it and several more followed. But that's how I view history, as a series of changes in methods of production and distribution which combined with ideas and producing remarkable and often unexpected events.

But things never happen in a straight line. Right now, the elections in Iran are being derailed by the Council of Guardians yet a woman is running for Parliament! Things many never considered possible are happening every day, and it thrills me.

Liberating Iraq set the ground for change, but it is up to the people there and in other Mid-East countries to determine how those changes will be formed and implemented. I doubt one size will fit all, but the possibilities are fascinating.

Posted by Debbye at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Administrative failure

Feb. 18 - A 2000 Audit alleged fraud changes the current answer to that all-important question: what PM PM knew and when he knew it:

OTTAWA -- A 2000 public works internal audit that Prime Minister Paul Martin says only highlights the sponsorship program's "administrative failures," in fact details double-billing by ad agencies and alleges fraud. The 1,180-page audit points out specific instances in which ad agencies billed for items they didn't produce or expensed travel that wasn't linked to the sponsored event.

Martin has insisted it wasn't until a 2002 auditor general's report, which found that public servants broke the rules when they handed Groupaction $1.6 million for three almost identical reports, that he realized how serious the problems were in the $250-million sponsorship program. But the internal audit is filled with examples of questionable billing practices by ad agencies and secret deals between those firms and public servants.

According to the probe, taxpayers paid the Gosselin ad firm to produce different signs for the 1999 Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indies. Auditors found that the same sign was used twice.

Administrative failure. There ought to be a google for that. (busy sounds) Yes indeed: 2,210,00. Who knew?

At least some government types in Ontario are alert:

Ontario bureaucrats are rushing to reform a $1-billion research fund -- modelled after a similar federal program -- after the provincial auditor exposed its nearly complete lack of government oversight. Economic Development and Trade Deputy Minister Don Black said yesterday the Ontario Innovation Trust and other research grant-giving agencies will be opened to greater public oversight before the March 2005 deadline.

"A year from now is far too long," Black said. "Obviously what we had in place was not working."

New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson complained that changes come far too late. "I think the horse left the barn already."

Black and other ministry officials were before a legislative committee explaining how the five-year-old innovation fund could pay out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with no cabinet or ministerial scrutiny.

We all know what happens when there's no accountability, right?
Instead, an arms-length, non-profit subsidiary called Innovation Institute Ontario administers the $1-billion fund.

That same subsidiary was later awarded a $1.35-million contract to administer Ontario's $750-million Research and Development Challenge Fund without the normal public process of a request for proposals.

Not only did the auditor find apparent conflicts of interest within that organization's board, the office found miscalculated grant payments of up to $277,000. The auditor also reported a lack of proof that grants were being awarded in a fair, open way.

Columnist Mike Strobel has reassuring words for Canadians, though, that Adscam is Scandel-lite by, you know, American standards. Except that we don't routinely vote the bums back in with the pathetic better the devil you know excuse. We have a system which reduces patronage in the civil service which, though flawed, is considerably better than anything Canada has.

We vet our appointees at the Congressional level, including our Supreme Court judges. We also elect our Senate. The pork-barrellers up here don't even have to steal, they just have to bide their time to get life-long appointments and cushy pensions.

How do they get away with it, you ask? François Beaudoin knows what they can do to whistle-blowers. M. Beaudoin was recently vindicated, but how many have his resources to fight it all the way up to Quebec Superior Court?

There is no protection for whistle-blowers here, you see, but for the inquiry into this scandel, they are being guaranteed protection if they come forward. What about the scandels that have yet to be uncovered? Up. The. Creek.

Still wonder why taxes in the US are considerably less than in Canada? It's not about the free health care system, it's about the extravagent patronage system.

Posted by Debbye at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

Dean ends campaign

Feb. 18 - Dean ends presidential campaign.

You think Sens. Kerry and Edwards are ducking phone calls from Gore? Maybe lighting incense and making burnt offerings to nudge the Nomination Deities to get Gore to endorse the other guy?

Posted by Debbye at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Love Immortalized.

Feb. 18 - Love Immortalized. Just go. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by Debbye at 04:05 PM | Comments (1)

Retribution for Osama

Feb. 18 - Must-read over at One Hand Clapping. Someone has finally come up with a better plan of retribution for Osama than I.

Posted by Debbye at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

Blogroll Change

Feb. 18 - I've long meant to blog roll a fellow Torontonian, The Transplanted Texan (you should already know about me and my template issues) and now there's another point of convergence: an Ontarian who lives in Texas who wisely takes it One Day at a Time.

Texas is kind of like Manitoba: sometimes a southern state, and sometimes a western state. I like Texans any which way.

Posted by Debbye at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

Assassination attempt in Jenin

Feb. 18 - Palestinian minister survives shooting:

MASKED gunmen opened fire on a Palestinian minister and a top economic official in a Jenin restaurant today, the latest in a series attacks on Palestinian officials in the increasingly lawless West Bank.

Both men escaped without injury, but two bystanders were lightly injured, including a Palestinian policemen.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent group loosely linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Loosely linked to Arafat? Please, I recognize the need to be fair and balanced, but this is ridiculous. If it walks like a duck . . .

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

Iran Train Explosion

Feb. 18 - Grim news from Iran: 200 dead in a massive explosion and train derailment in northeastern Iran.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Runaway train cars carrying fuel, fertilizer and industrial chemicals derailed and exploded in northeastern Iran on Wednesday, killing more than 200 people, injuring hundreds more and devastating five nearby villages, the government news agency said.

Most of the known dead were fire and rescue workers, who died in the blast hours after the train cars derailed and caught fire. Officials in the city of Neyshabur - including the local governor, mayor and fire chief - were among those killed. (Emphasis added)

I emphasized that part because it serves as a reminder that fire and rescue workers around the world put themselves in danger so that others can be saved. Our losses on Sept. 11 are still of bitter memory, and it even flashes me back to Chernobyl, come to think of it.

Further down in the story, they are estimating that approximately 182 of the dead were firefighters.

Is it just me, or have those fire and rescue workers have truly earned their places in Paradise? The theory of jihad as a personal struggle which might involve actions like defusing land mines in Afghanistan, for example, says they did. May they rest in peace.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

Russia Military Maneuvers

Feb. 18 - Here's something I never expected: Sweden calls for common U.S.-EU stance against Russia.

Mr. Powell offered muted criticism of Russian domestic and foreign policy during a January meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and Mrs. Freivalds said EU leaders are trying to formulate a new strategy for dealing with Russia.

"The United States and the European Union have to work hard to cooperate on Russia," Mrs. Freivalds said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "We share some values, and we are not sure that Russia today shares those values."

When Washington and Brussels present the same message, she added, "it is much more likely to be heeded."

Her remarks came as Mr. Putin and top Russian defense officials gathered in the Barents Sea to observe what are being billed as the country's largest military exercises in more than two decades.
Read it while I go into the bedroom just to see if I'm still there sleeping. If I'm not there, I'm checking the British press.

(Sorry if the flippancy seems irreverent, but I am shocked, and I don't mean in the Claude Rains sense.)

Also, be sure to read Paul's newswatch compilation of the, er, evolving story about Putin's participation in the military exercises in the Arctic seas. It's significance sure changed after I read the Washington Times piece.

UPDATE: Nothing in the Telegraph (UK) but they are somewhat gleeful about the miltary exercise spectable Putin's nuclear show blows up in his face:

Russia's biggest military exercise since the collapse of communism flopped yesterday, ruining an attempt to project Vladimir Putin as a global leader and reaffirm the country's status as a nuclear superpower.

With Mr Putin and a host of military officials watching from the nuclear submarine Arkhangelsk, two intercontinental ballistic missiles went wrong during a firing from a submarine believed to be the Novomoskovsk. They were aimed at Kamchatka on the Pacific coast. A malfunctioning satellite was blamed.

I'm not so sanguine as the Telegraph; maybe it's my Inner Nervous Nellie popping up after years of dormancy or I've seen Dr. Strangelove a few times too many, but what if one of those missiles had gone astray into, say Alaska? (see the map I've so thoughtfully provided.)

To paraphrase from Vern Partlow's Talking Atom blues, You know, Sweden said there were scared, And if they're scared, I'm scared. Actually, I'm not, but I am working slightly harder at being my usual calm, cheerful self. /mendacity

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

Polish base attacked

Feb. 18 - Another terrorist attack on coalition forces in Iraq killed 9 Iraqis and two would be attackers at the Polish base in Hillah. Two cars packed with explosives attempted to crash through the gate of Camp Charlie - troops fired on the first car killing the driver, the second car ran into the first car and both exploded [according to the AP dispatch the vehicles were trucks, and the first one exploded after being fired upon and the second truck exploded after being fired upon and hitting a concrete barrier.]

The blast caused several nearby home to collapse and the victims included women and children. The 31 wounded include Iraqis and troops from Poland, the Philippines, Hungary and the US.

The AP report states that nearly 300 people (I presume they mean Iraqi civilians and terrorists) have been killed in attacks since the beginning of the year. Is anyone tracking casualty figures of Iraqi cvilians, Iraqi attackers and foreign attackers?

The US has instituted a 3-level system offering rewards for information leading to the capture of Ba'athist leaders and terror cells in Iraq, and for the first time have released a list of 32 individuals they wish to capture.

Read both links to get a fairly comprehensive picture.

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

Discuss the issues

Feb. 18 - Wonderful post at Laughing Wolf that should be sent to every politician on both sides of the border addressed To Those Candidates Who Believe The End Justifies The Means.

In short, discuss the issues. I don't really give a flip about what you did 30 years ago, unless it has bearing on your character and abilities today. I don't care if you have slept with every person of the opposite (or same, for that matter) sex you have ever met, provided you did not use lies or violate sworn oaths in so doing. Discuss the issues.

Violate every tenet of modern politics and give me straightforward, simple, honest answers. I may not like all of them, and they may not play well with everyone. Deal with it. The job you want is to lead, not win a beauty contest. So show me you can do the job, and lead from the start. You may not win my vote, but you will win my respect. (Emphasis added)

Damned. Freaking. Straight.

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

February 17, 2004

Conan apologizes

Feb. 17 - NBC's Conan O'Brien Issues 'Apology' to Quebec. Read it and laugh.

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

Censorship no solution

Feb. 17 - Wendy McElroy at FOX News comments on the probable passage of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 (Censorship Is Not Solution for Trashy TV):

Today, the first response to any controversy is, "there ought to be a law." But in matters of morality and freedom of speech, it is best for law to be the very last recourse society considers. The first resort is to let freedom and the free market function.
Amen.

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

Feb. 17 - The yearning

Feb. 17 - The yearning for liberty beats in every heart: Stirrings of Freedom Among the Arab Youth?

At a recent soccer match involving Saadi Gadhafi, Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi's soccer-playing son, fans from the opposite team reportedly chanted "Saadi, Saadi, son of the ruler, your fate will be the fate of Uday." The phrase — it rhymes in Arabic — refers to one of the sons of Saddam Hussein who was killed in an American raid.

In this sense, Iran appears to have provided a model for the Arab youth. Its rebellious young men and women led the freedom march in the Muslim world.

This is not unexpected and one of many reasons so many of us support the Iranian youth. Read the whole thing.

(Link via Kathy at On the Third Hand.)

UPDATE: It looks like Sen. Kerry couldn't wait to betray the Iranian students. Doesn't he understand that a free Iran (in fact, a Free Any Country) is the best of all possibilities? See Roger Simon's post here.

UPDATE: I was reading a comment over at Kathy's and I realize that I hadn't mentioned that there were some sly anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War (e.g., Bogged!Down) aspects to the piece. Frankly, I'm so used to it (I've lived in Canada a long time) that it barely registers; I tend to skim right past to get to actual information. FWIW. I wonder, though, what Mr. Gerges thinks of Sen. Kerry's overtures to Iran's Council of Guardians.

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

Oil Vouchers

Feb. 17 - This is interesting: remember sometime last April when someone in the British Parliament said that PM Tony Blair was "being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers"? I had since forgotten the person's name, but it was Father of the House Tam Dalyell, and his name has come up again in documents that have recently surfaced which allege that illicit funds from the Oil for Food program were used to finance anti-sanctions campaigns:

Undercover cash from oil deals went to three businessmen who in turn supported pressure groups involving the ex-Labour MP George Galloway, Labour MP Tam Dalyell, and the former Irish premier Albert Reynolds, it is alleged in documents compiled by the oil ministry, which is now under the control of the US occupation regime.
There's much more, so hop over to the post at Protocols (if blogspotted, run find and "Anti-Semite Was A Saddamist")

I wonder how more willing people would be to believe these documents had Halliburton executives appeared among the names?

(Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

Liberian ships

Feb. 17 - Only Trudeaupia could have made this connection!

Hmm. A new arrangement was was recently signed between Liberia and the US which allows the US to board Liberian ships.

This has got to be fodder for some conspiracy theories.

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

Norweigen Friends of America

Feb. 17 - From a rough transcript of a panel discussion which included Norweigen Friends of America founder Fredrik K.R. Norman:

Knut Olsen: Is Bush worth dying for?

Fredrik K.R. Norman: Hopefully we won't have to die because of Bush. Hopefully, we also won't have to die because of Osama bin Laden, terrorists and tyrants -- and that's what the Americans are trying to save us from.

Knut Olsen: But is he worth fighting for?

Fredrik K.R. Norman: We should fight for ourselves and our own interests, and they are the same as American interests: liberty, democracy and human rights. This, we shall fight for, hopefully together with our allies.

(Link via Roger Simon.

Posted by Debbye at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

Conan's Canadian Visit

Feb. 17 - Some extremely news-worthy items lately have been hard for me to post about. I never started this blog with the intention of ridiculing Canadians because I have a great deal of respect for them, and I recognize that vicious, mean-spirited criticism of the leaders of this country implicitly criticizes the people who elected them.

Although I chose not to become a Canadian citizen, I am a member of the tax-paying public up here so there are issues in which I consider the Federal government to be fair game.

The recent corruption scandels and what Stockwell Day has termed the government's nonchalant approach for cost over-runs have given rise to a different kind of discussion up here, though, and as I believe that there are some issues that are best handled and discussed between Canadians I've steered somewhat clear of it.

My kids travel under a Canadian passport, so the failure of the Canadian government to protect their citizens abroad is also one that comes under my list of concerns.

I didn't comment about the hype before the Conan O'Brien visit to Toronto. I found the whole affair sordid, bewildering, and depressing.

I was surprised to read (courtesy of Smug Canadian) that Polyscopique thought I was cheering. He's wrong. The whole reaction - including the discussing of it in Parliament, of all things - to the brand of humour expressed by a puppet served only to make me more bewildered and more depressed.

But the post does mean that I maybe I should set the record straight by clearly explaining my attitude.

So here it is: I feel disgust for the Canadian government. I feel that they insulted Americans by pitching and spending money on the notion that bringing Conan up here would mean that all was forgiven and hey! we like you (and your money) again. If that is equal to cheering, with then we need to come with up some new definitions for feeling contained anger and resentment when one is treated like a cheap whore.

The Feds believed that Americans would respond to excessive fawning and drooling over an American!Entertainer and that indicates how shallow and superficial they really believe we are, and the bandwagon that the media hopped aboard means that they too share that evaluation.

Americans have their feelings hurt and that's why they're staying away. Let's just lavish insincere flattery on them, pretend that our PM and their President are, you know, friendly, and for extra measure we'll pretend we like their humour and they'll be so happy they'll rush up here and spend lots and lots of money.

Hmm, as I write this I'm suddenly realizing just who the real whore is.

Fuck. Off. And. Die. Yeah, I think that pretty much sums up how much I cheer this latest innovation to lure American tourists to Toronto as well as cheer the rantings of some stupid plastic puppet. It's going to take a lot more to fix this one, and your government has actually made it worse.

Canadians don't get Americans. In fact, many refuse to do so, because we've told you a million different times and in a million different ways that if you want to be our friends, you can do so by disagreeing without being disagreeable. And I'm not referring to your entertainers, like say Rick Mercer, but to your media and your government spokespersons. They are your public face, Canada. Cope with it.

For the record, I think that the FCC investigating a Wardrobe Malfunction was also absurd.

I don't know enough about Conan or Triumph's uh, voice to know to what extent they realized what the Feds were trying to achieve. I don't even know if he believed the cover story that it's all about SARS.

Members of the Canadian federal government insults Americans and a doggie puppet insults Qubeckers. Is there a difference?

I wonder how Quebeckers feel that the federal government believed that, if enough money was spread around, Quebeckers would quickly drop their separatist aspirations and if I'm the only one who wonders at the irony that Quebeckers and Americans have something in common. (Please note I used the word wonder, not asked.)

I don't comment on the unique relationship Quebec has with the rest of Canada nor do I comment on aboriginal issues because my instincts are American and I recognize that they render me incapable of truly understanding, commenting on or representing Canadian views on those issues.

The relationship Canada - and Canadians - have with the United States - and Americans - is of a different category. When some people in Quebec boo my national anthem at a hockey game, I shrug off-line. When some people in Quebec throw rocks at a kids minor hockey team bus or hurl anti-American insults at kids while they're playing a hockey game, however, I will speak out. The targets were kids, and such behaviour is over the line by anyone anywhere.

When a Muslim hijacks a Montreal memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to spew his hatred for Jews, I will speak out. There are insults and transgressions that I will not overlook and I don't really care if Canadians understand how we feel about Dr. King but I do care if I fail to rise to challenge and condemn those insults as well as defend Dr. King's memory. I can't stop you from revising your own history, but keep your hands off mine.

I ignore trolls, flames and cross-posted blog wars. I spent too many years on Usenet to fall for those tired old tricks.

I might add that when I find posts that may have a different view than I but are thoughtful and based in facts I'll also link it because I still think it important for Americans to know that what they read in the papers or on this blog about Canada and Canadians isn't the entire story.

Other Yanks living abroad know fully, as do I, that sticks and stones do hurt, but we also know we'll survive. If you need some wanker who will crumble when you toss accusations (!) like "right-winger" or "conservative" my way, you picked the wrong person because, like most of my countrypeople, I don't care.

Dinner's ready so I retain my right to fix the massive spelling, contextual and malapropisms I'll find later!

Posted by Debbye at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

Blog babies

Feb. 17 - Of course it's not a war, but there are some cute baby pictures up these days!

Smug Canadian is a new daddy and the photo looks as though Ada is growing weary of the flash going off (just hang in there, darling, it will cease when you're about, oh, 10-years old) but Max and Talia, Bruce's recently turned 1-year old twins are old enough to pose and get into the spirit of things.

Yes, bloggers do indeed have real lives.

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

U.N. vs. the Jews

Feb. 17 - A sobering post over at Daimnation! is another good example of the moral bankruptcy of the UN and it's inability to actually implement the principles to which it claims to be committed. The UN vs. the Jews isn't new news but part of the ongoing critical failure of the UN to be credible.

Sometimes I think the UN really believes it is a government: it prefers to protect popular and well-monied causes rather than actually uphold the rights of people who are actively targeted for genocide (which is only one of the most damning among a large number of failures to prevent genocide.)

Damien's post does force me to re-think my determintion to see the UN relocated in Canada, although I did enjoy the panicked scurrying for cover when MP Dennis Mills also brought it up.

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

Arafat vs. PM #2

Feb. 17 - Arafat and Palestinian PM at loggerheads. I'm getting a severe case of deja vu here. Can't Arafat find anyone to install as PM who will meekly do his bidding? There is no justice in this world. [Note: I'm struggling to keep my snark under control here, but I can't guarantee success I'm failing.]

It appears the incredible breakthrough that had the Globe and Mail gushing with delight has already been thwarted by the Troll of Ramallah (TM Jay Currie.) PM Quereia's Cabinet had approved altering the way security forces are paid but Arafat refused to implement it.

Colour me surprised.

Quereia has denied rumours that he has threatened to resign, but he has been put in an awkward postion as he is travelling to European capitals to ask for yet more money. The Europeans are concerned about corruption in the PA and have actually begun to question how Arafat is re-diredting funds to his private bank account spending the funds already granted.

You'll have to read the whole thing yourselves. I have my limits.

Before I'm accused of cheering, let me assure you that is not the case. Cheering is when I say "way to go!" or the like. So I will pointedly cheer the excellent tag-team play by which Pres. Bush and PM Sharon declared Arafat was irrelevant to the road to peace. [Quick explanation: Sharon declared Arafat irrelevant, Bush said no no no and invited Arafat to prove his relevance. He didn't, and failed to recognize that he had One Last Chance to evade the clear-as-day trap that the president had set. I love it when a plan comes together.]

This post, however, isn't cheering, it's outright hostility to a corrupt, murderous bastard who should be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize and dispatched to hell by people who actually want to improve the condition of Palestinians and end the terrorist attacks in Israel.

Posted by Debbye at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

Journalists in Gaza under attack

Feb. 17 - From the CBC, which has redeemed itself somewhat by putting pressure on the Canadian government in the Zahra Kazemi case and breaking the story on the mushrooming cost increases for the Gun Registry, is this story of journalists in Gaza under attack yet standing up for freedom of the press: Palestinian journalists stage sit-in after string of attacks.

There have been a number of attacks on media offices and an assault on a journalist, and evidently security forces haven't been eager to investigate or bring the perpetrators to justice. Journalists had been covering the state of lawlessness that exists in some parts of Gaza and the West Bank:

About 200 protesters entered the empty building and stayed for several hours. They declared they wouldn't write stories about the justice and interior ministries. Included in their boycott was the Palestinian security forces for failing to stop the crimes.

On Saturday, the car of Al-Havat Al-Jadida's Gaza City bureau chief was set on fire.

Much of what I read or hear on CBC is extremely hurtful but I do respect them for championing press freedoms around the world.

Thanks to John H. for the link!

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

Rumsfeld Fighting Technique

Feb. 17 - Pictorial depiction of Rumsfield Fighting Technique via Tim Blair.

My hours have changed this week because I'm too freaking stupid to say no that's the way life is.

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

Democracy in Iraq

Feb. 17 - Alpha Patriot links to an interesting piece from the International Herald Tribune on the steps Iraq is making on the local level in Democracy Growing in Iraq which focuses on the selection of the civic caucus in Fallujah - during the gunfight.

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

Discuss the issues

Feb. 16 - Jeff Jarvis has a specific list of things he could not care less about in the upcoming presidential election.

Short, succinct, and dead on target.

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

February 16, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food scandal

Feb. 16 - Roger L. Simon has been unrelenting in his insistence that the books of the UN sponsored Oil for Food program be opened for inspection and, despite mounting evidence and accusations of corruption, the UN has refused to do so.

I know why this issue is a burr under my saddle. For one thing, there's a small matter of national pride. For years, the US and UK were accused of complicity in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi babies. Osama bin Laden used this very accusation to justify the war al Qaeda has waged against the USA. Millions of people globally believed it.

The fact that this charge has been proven to be bogus has not (surprise!) elicited any apologies from those who focused much of their agitation and propaganda on this very point. The best reactions seemed to be much along the lines of well, even if you're not guilty of this you are guilty of other things.

Do mention that in any respectable court of law, guys, even as you utter your insistence of words like alleged.

But my anger is even more personal: I actually fell for that crap.

It gets worse. I opposed the '91 Gulf War. I marched in an anti-war march here in Toronto that winter and my sign read "This American says give sanctions a chance." I guess I was already working my way out of leftism, though, because once the war began, I prayed for a quick end but was outraged that we didn't finish the job. I regarded Saddam's brutal crackdown on the Shiite revolt as a crime in which the US was guilty by omission.

No, I'm not throwing any rocks at GHB. I've studied history too long and too thoroughly to dwell on might have beens. What actually happened in history is instructive; what might have happened is the stuff of fiction but not serious analysis.

I recognized early after Sept. 11 that the situation and the human cost from the sanctions in Iraq had to end, which is why I then advocated dealing with Saddam by any means necessary. (The unexpected consequence is that more than 2 years later, my family thinks I'm a freaking genius, but I digress.)

Anyway, if any of you wonder why I keep harping on this issue, that's the reason. It also is why I am so implacably angry at the UN.

This trip down memory lane has been brought to you courtesey of a recent thread over at Tim Blair's wherein a lot of people 'fessed up about their previous lefty sympathies. There are a lot of us out there.

Back to the UN Oil for Food scandel, Roger provides two links in his post on the scandel Oil Spills that raise yet more questions about the program and connect some dots.

The article over at Tech Central Station Oil for Fools looks very closely at the Russian as well as global connections that are accused. Those who would deny any wrong-doing have to face one unassailabile fact:

Third, persistent rumors are worth checking. Stories about Saddam's global payola have been in circulation for years, with nobody investigating.

Similar stories are in circulation about Saudi and Chinese influence-buying. It is high time the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Europe cooperated in investigating. (Emphasis added)

No Canadian is today in a position to disagree that the failure to investigate is, at this state, of criminal proportions.

The other link Roger provides is to the Radio Free Europe article (categorized under the Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch) Did Saddam Hussein buy support in Russia and the West? (Part 1) which answers a question that has been on my mind, namely how UNSC member Syria and the illegal pipeline that ran from Iraq to Syria might have factored in:

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute's (MEMRI) "Inquiry and Analysis Series, No. 160," of 29 January (http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=IA16004): "The voucher recipients sold the vouchers to oil traders, who then collected the oil against the vouchers from the Kirkuk-Banias (Syria) pipeline terminal, which was operating in contravention of the Security Council sanctions."

However, it seems feasible that some of these coupons were distributed to friends of the regime who then sold the oil and deposited most of the money into offshore accounts owned or controlled by Hussein or members of his inner circle. A portion of those vast sums might have been kept by recipients as "handling fees."

I recognize that some people reading this have already dismissed the claims, but I ask you: given that you have been lied to repeatedly by those who opposed the war in Iraq, what do you have to lose by considering the possibility that these assertions might be true?

One of the biggest demands among the left used to be "open the books." It remains a good demand. Should public and government funds should be subject to transparent accountability? The tax dollars of billions of people globally are what fund the UN (leaving aside the 2.2% commission that UN charged for administering the Oil for Food project) so I do believe the UN is accountable for how the money is spent.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Kofi Annan, like Adrienne Clarkson, considers himself "above politics" and doesn't it believe it necessary to answer questions as to how millions (billions, in Annan's case) of dollars have been spent.

Considering that the Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin, recently proclaimed that Canada's future lies with the United Nations, the fact that both the UN and Canada are embroiled in massive corruption scandels should be at least pause-worthy.

UPDATE: Jay Currie is also calling for an independent audit.

Posted by Debbye at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

Praise Allah and pass the ammunition

Feb. 16 - Posting will be sporadic today, but I'll be pointing the way to some excellent posts. The one that gave me a huge shot of adrenaline is over at Donald Sensing's blog and and praises the courage and fortitude of the Iraqi police in the recent firefight in Fallujah. A commenter points out that the firefight lasted 30 minutes which I hadn't recognized for what it is: testimony to the will and endurance of the police.

(I know I've stated this before, repeatedly, and maybe even excessively, but I'll never stop stating it: the events in Iraq right now are a testimony to the spark of freedom that has been given birth in Iraq. The coaltion forces that liberated that country only opened a door, and the Iraqis are rushing through it.)

GWB said long ago (or at least it seems long ago!) that freedom is not America's gift to the world but God's gift to the world. May whatever deity the brave men and women in Iraq worship bless them and smile down upon them. It won't be an easy transition, but few things of value in life are easy.

I shamelessly stole the title for this post from commenter htom at Donald's site.

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

Zahra Kazemi

Feb. 16 - A witness has come forward to provide more information about the events that led to Zahra Kazemi's death last July while under detention in an Iranian jail. Revealed: how photographer died after Iran prison beating reports on a segment of BBC programme This World and contends that she was still alive and conscious when taken to the hospital, but was not given timely medical attention that could have saved her life.

The guards remained with Ms Kazemi while she was seen by doctors, who ordered brain scans several times. However, no scan was done for 12 hours, by which time Ms Kazemi was in a coma.

According to the BBC's This World programme, the witness said the scan showed that Ms Kazemi's head "had been hit very hard, causing severe brain damage and bleeding".

In a situation like that, the witness said, "every second is vital". Iran's health minister, Masoud Pezeshkian, has admitted that had she been treated promptly, Ms Kazemi might be alive today.

Ms. Kazemi was arrested after taking a picture of families holding a vigil outside the prison for people insaide who had been detained during the demonstrations and subsequent crackdown that month.

There's also a recount of the actual arrest:

When Ms Kazemi was first challenged, she was told to leave her camera and collect it the following day. She refused, ripping out the film to expose the frames. Her defiance ensured she was kept in prison.

"She was confronted by the authorities and asked to give the camera and the film," said Hamid Mojtahedi, a Canadian human rights lawyer with access to officials involved in Ms Kazemi's case. "She resisted."

Read the whole thing.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:08 AM | Comments (0)

PA reforms

Feb. 15 - Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia fears the US may be abandoning the road map so has complied with one of the provisions: he announced he's going to change the way the security forces are paid. In the past, the pay as a whole was given to commanders. Now the pay will be deposited direcly into the officer's individual bank accounts.

The Globe and Mail describes the move as meeting one of Washington's "key demands in the area of financial reform."

There are simply no words to describe PM Qureia's remarkable announcement or the extent to which it emphasizes how seriously the Palestinian Authority regards the road map. The method by which security forces are paid is one of the most important aspects of the peace plan because we wouldn't want any of them to despair and do something rash, like blow up a bus in Israel.

The real story is further down the page:

A group of U.S. envoys is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon next week to discuss an alternative Israeli plan involving the unilateral withdrawal of troops from some Palestinian areas.

Mr. Qureia said there are signs the United States may come out in support of the plan.

"What I heard is that they may accept Sharon's plan. And this 'may' is irritating and worrying," Mr. Qureia told reporters Saturday.

Palestinians fear the new plan would leave them with far less land than the stalled "road map" peace plan that the United States has championed for months.

Are we still "championing" it? I suspect it will take a lot more than a bookkeeping change to revive it, but maybe that's just me.

They say that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure that is visible from space. No matter how many documentaries I've viewed, I've never lost my fascination for it. It's not such much for the structure, which is quite impressive, but for the harsh vision and iron will that led to its triumphant completion. The Chinese saw a threat and came up with what they saw as the only possible solution to ensure their survival.

We do learn from history.

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

Iran elections and sales of enriched uranium

Feb. 15 - Iran has announced that it will be selling enriched uranium on the international market for peaceful purposes, of course. The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

Also, over 500 candidates have withdrawn from the elections in Iran to protest the disqualification of thousands of candidates by the Council of Guardians.

The huge 67% turnout in 2000 in which the reformers took control of Parliament had led to smaller turnouts as voters have become more apathetic as promised reforms were passed by Parliament only to be vetoed by the Council. A large turnout would be seen as support for the Council of Guardians, but current predictions are for a 30% turnout (although if I'm reading this rightly, the predictions were made before today's withdrawals.)

The ayatollah has urged a strong voter turnout in the Feb. 20 elections.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

Abdul Razaq captured

Feb. 15 - Abdul Razaq was captured Sunday by the Iraqi Police:

The captured Abdul Razaq once headed Saddam's Baath Party in the northern provinces of Nineveh and Tamim, which include the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. He earlier served as interior minister, and Ibrahim said he kept a "personal prison" behind the police academy where "innocent people" were held in dog cages.
Normally I'd quibble over the use of death quotes for innocent people, but I'm too pleased for the Iraqi police to let that ruin my joy. Maybe she meant it as a true quote.
Police caught Abdul Razaq's trail when they were tipped off that his son was trying to obtain weapons and fake passports, Ibrahim said.

Police watched the elder Abdul Razaq for 10 days before the special operations unit - trained by U.S. experts - moved in on his house in the Baghdad suburb of Saydiya on Sunday afternoon and found him on the second floor, Ibrahim said. Abdul Razaq offered no resistance.

This is especially good news for the IP after the assault on a Fallujah police station which left so many dead. That raid was highly unusual in that it seemed to be performed by people with knowledge of small unit precision which has not hitherto been a feature of attacks in Iraq.

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

February 15, 2004

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar operative arrested

Feb. 15 - Kabul - Canucks nab terror suspect who is described as a "key player" from the terrorist organization of Afghan rebel Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. According to Kabul police chief Gen. Baba Jan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has linked with outsted Taliban and terrorists and are responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Kabul.

"These organizations are one and the same, but Hekmatyar is now the greatest threat, more dangerous than (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar or (Osama) bin Laden," Jan said, adding Hekmatyar is more familiar with Afghanistan's power structure and the streets of Kabul than either of his two insurgent counterparts.

He also controls more skillful fighters.

"His agents have infiltrated every level of Afghanistan society, so when something happens here, you know he has a hand in it," he said.

Canadian troops have been undertaking more raids of late, which means they are in more dangerous situations.

Remember those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

Work

Feb. 15 - I'm off to work now. It's sunny outside, which means it's bitterly cold, but I keep telling myself it's colder just about everywhere else in Canada (even if doing so doesn't help a darned bit.)

Later . . .

Posted by Debbye at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

Hockey rule changes

Feb. 15 - Anthony has a good post looking at some of the proposed rule changes in hockey and some suggestions of his own (Shooting Wide.)

Anyone else see Coaches' Corner last night? Don pulled off subtext quite nicely, I think. I told you 7 seconds wouldn't be enough for the CBC Censors! (Either that, or the CBC actually indulged in a play to improve rathings. I speculate, you ignore.)

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

Aging pets

Feb. 15 - Anyone with an aging pet will sympathize (and maybe cry) over this post by Ith on her beloved cat (My Old Kangle).

We're here for you, Ith.

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

Text of Zarqawi letter

Feb. 15 - Here is the Text of Zarqawi Letter. It's chilling.

UPDATE: Here's a new link that works.

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

More Conan

Feb. 15 - My sides are killing me from laughter over Paul's latest take on the Continuing Saga of Conan This BS is getting out of hand... II. If my humour antennae are working properly, he's fisked a satire. Priceless.

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

Fallujah IP firefight

Feb. 14 - My oldest son asked me the other day how many Iraqis I think have died. I asked him "From terrorism?" assuming that was what he meant, and he stopped short. He's a reasonably well-read man, but I think even he had failed to absorb the fact that the death figures being circulated don't make that distinction either. He also hadn't really taken into account the strides the Iraqi people have taken to take charge of the security of Iraq and how courageously they have conducted themselves.

Wretchard has a post that ties in the 17-page letter purported to be from Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, the simultaneous attacks in Fallujah yesterday, and Iraqi police response At Their Finest Hour.

Kevin at Boots on the Ground feels very discouraged about the failure of the Iraqi Police to repel the raid in his post Frustration (if blogspotted, use find feature on your browser and "Frustration")

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Posted by Debbye at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

New blog baby!

Feb. 14 - There's an addition at Smug Canadian's house and a picture! (C'mon, she's adorable so Just Say It: Awww.)

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

Conan in Canada

Feb. 14 - Janet Who? Don Who? Joe Wormington puts it in perspective:

You know it's controversial when Ed the Sock is offended. Did Parliament really spend time talking about this whole Triumph the Comic Dog insulting Quebec thing on Conan O'Brien? Anything rather than to talk about the missing millions, I guess.
At least the premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, is showing some common sense - he didn't find the Triumph skit funny, but is able to be philosophical about it.
"Ontarians have a wonderful relationship with the people of Quebec," the premier said. "I just don't think it's incumbent on me to tell scriptwriters ... what to write and what not to write."
This contrasts with former NDP-leader Alexa McDonough, who, as Damien points out, has finally found a government expense she doesn't like.

As Dana notes:

Second, would you politicians and professional agitators please give it up with the PC crap already? Triumph tore into Hawaii a while back, and no one south of the border thought anything of it.
There are a number of good points in that post, by the way, so read the whole thing.

What do most people think? Much the same as people everywhere - a little of this and a little of that.

Since I loved seeing AC/DC and the Isley Brothers at SARStock last summer, I would be a hypocrite if I complained overly about the money spent to bring Conan here, so I'd rather bitch about how expenses for the Governor-General's trip to Russia, Finland and Iceland magically grew from $1 million to $5.3 million. How can you overspend your budget by $4.3 million? Also, I can't find a link, but just before my favourite man left the house he was ranting that costs for the Gun Registry have risen to $2 billion, up from the original estimte of $2 million. (We have a Division of Rant Labour in this house, and the hiding of the cost of the gun registry is Mark's.)

UPDATE: The link is here.

This fixation on entertainers period is insane. They're entertainers! Sheesh, we put up with the lunacy of media pundits every day, and I'm supposed to care about the ravings of a freaking doggie puppet, a medallioned breast, or if those who wears visors are wimps? When they come down from Mount Sinai with stone tablets I'll pay attention.

You either like Conan or you don't (or, like me, you've never even seen the show) but he doesn't speak for Americans or Canadians and I'm certain the dog puppet doesn't speak for other dog puppets like Finnegan. But some perspective: the name Triumph The Insult Dog is a clue, you know?

Of course, when this broke yesterday and I saw "Triumph" emblazoned in the headlines, I thought they were talking about the rock band. Yes, that does age me some.

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

February 13, 2004

The Wound

Feb. 13 - From American Digest this post simply called The Wound:

If someone tells you that the melted wax from the candle shrines at Union Square had a radius of 20 feet and a depth of 4 inches at some points before it was scraped away, that's just a data point.

If someone mentions that there were pictures of those we called "the missing" put up on walls about the city, you might recall that. What you won't recall is that they appeared everywhere and grew in numbers on nearly every surface on the island until there was no block and no main station that didn't host a grim and large gallery of these images.

You've forgotten about the shrines, large and small, that appeared at the door of every fire and police station of the city overnight. You don't remember how they grew and then shrank until only a few vases of flowers and faded flags remained.

I could show you the Post's headline from the 12th declaring: 10,000 FEARED DEAD. Many of you would say, "Well, it was only 3,000 and we/ve moved on."
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

Lies about Glenn

Feb. 13 - I'm floudering here. I need to come up with a Filthy Lie about Evil Glenn's Movie Remake for The Alliance and my mind is blank.

There was a commercial recently which I only noticed because it featured the theme song (whistled) to the old TV show Lassie. I looked at the TV and it showed a collie walking with a blonde kid and I inadvertantly said aloud "That's not Timmy" which made everyone fall over laughing (they only know the expression "rescue Timmy from the well" but never realized there really was a Timmy. Hell, I remember when Jeff was Lassie's master!)

Ahem, getting back to the assignment, maybe my problem is that I really like dogs - real dogs, that is, not those ankle biting, yapping things who are only pretend dogs but real dogs like Rin-Tin-Tin, Bullet and Lassie. I should include London of The Littlest Hobo but he was more of the Touched By An Angel type (although he probably would go get help to rescue a kid in a well in a pinch.)

The most horrible thing I can think of, however, and the lie that would keep me up at night would be a re-make of the cartoon and sequel to the movie Scooby-Doo with the horrible, dreadful, show-killing Scrappy-Doo in it.

Posted by Debbye at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Damien vs. The Star

Feb. 13 - The stuff that happens when I'm on a work marathon - The Star vs. Daimnation! is not a cute story, it is a real and potentially serious attack on blogging in Canada.

Canadian blogger emeritus Damien Penny is being threatened by the Toronto Star with a lawsuit for copyright infringment if he doesn't remove a post in which he quoted from a column in the Toronto Star which compared Bush to Hitler.

Damien does a fine fisk to be sure. I can see why the PC crowd at the Star might want to shut him down and why it's important for the blogosphere to partake in his defense.

I've noted in my own referrals that both the CBC and the Toronto Star check up on articles that use them as sources (which I found extremely funny as my state of permanent blogspottedness means they would have to keep reading until they found whatever of theirs I used) and although I knew they were pretty full of themselves this is ridiculous.

CORRECTION: The Star didn't come right out and threaten Damien with a lawsuit, they just insisted he remove the post.

Posted by Debbye at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

Andrew Coyne

Feb. 13 - Andrew Coyne has a new url and it's really, really easy to remember.

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

Toronto Affairs

Feb. 13 - I know that everyone means well, but what the city plans to do (Chief hunts ideas, not cash) about "teenage delinquency" is to keep doing the same stupid things that have never worked:

Mayor David Miller said he didn't hear anything new from Fantino during the 45-minute, closed-door meeting, but agreed with the chief that fighting crime will have to begin at the community level with initiatives like social programs.
Remember the lyrics to "Officer Krumpke" from West Side Story? We loved that song, because it pretty much summed up how all of us felt about Do-Good Adults Helping Troubled Teens back in the day.

Teenagers will not go anywhere near something that is a poorly disguised babysitting service. It might be useful for kids aged 12-14, but past 15? Forget it.

One of the more amusing aspects in my involvement in minor sports are the number of coaches who piously say they regard themselves as role models. (I usually manage to keep from retorting that kids tend to pick their own role models and how a coach may regard him or herself is irrelevant, but narcissism is a chronic disease after all and I've learned to shrug it off.)

Teens today are no different than we were: they prefer to keep their distance from adults and especially from Social Program-type Adults. Trust me on that one.

What to do? I'm actually not altogether sure. I still think a stronger parent role is the key, but I don't think you can regulate or legislate that.

Another aspect that we aren't looking at closely enough is the reduced role of men in the family. I do think that mothers guide the development of the girls and the fathers guide the development of the boys, but my evidence is anecdotal, not scientific, and questions some of the underlying assumptions of the latest incarnation of feminism.

What I do know is that my kids are now beginning to grant grudging respect to the fact that their father was such a hard-ass. I could lecture them stiff, but Dad could lecture them into an advanced state of rigor mortis. They still resent him, of course, but they've grumpily started to see that maybe Dad had some good points to make and wasn't so wrong and stupid after all. And it only took from half their lifetimes (the youngest are about to turn 21.)

Maybe if the schools and media stopped telling the males in this part of the world how totally useless, barbaric and worthless they are, men would be able to value the fact that they are men and rejoice in their maleness. Given that our genders are an important part of our identities, isn't it logical that how we regard ourselves as men and women an important part of individual self-esteem?

Posted by Debbye at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

Conan in Canada

Feb. 13 - Is everyone outside of Canada clear on the fact that Conan O'Brien is hosting his late night show from Toronto? It's been big news up here for over a week, subject to high level hob-nobbery and part of the effort to stimulate tourism here. (He is supposed to prove that Toronto is a terrific city and isn't still in the throes of the SARS virus. Whatever.)

Much press has been devoted to contentions that Americans are scared of SARS and that's why they are staying away with less attention paid to the dollar exchange and perceptions that Americans who read the Canadian press or can access CBC-TV might think that Canada is less than hospitable.

So the timing of an article today which has backers of the move enthusing what a success it will be seems either off or spot on target given that last night's show trashed Quebec and Quebeckers. [Disclaimer: I didn't see it. I'm not even sure what time it's on except that it's past my bedtime.]

The second link frets that Conan's comments might impact Quebec tourism to Florida. I don't think the writer wants to know how Floridians regard Quebec tourists much less drivers on the main highways from Quebec to the Sunshine State. Talk about ducking the real question, which is how many people in the US and Canada cheered Conan's remarks?

There are a lot of differences between Canadians and Americans, and one of them is how vocal people in the two countries are over grievances. Canadians talk about them a lot - for example the four friendly-fire deaths in Afghanistan two years ago - and Americans don't.

But the fact that we don't talk about some things doesn't mean we forget about them, as was proven by the sentiments that led to declaring war on terrorism: we clearly hadn't forgotten the unfinished business of Gulf War I, the first attack on the World Trade Center, or even the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut over 20 years ago.

So I figure Americans remember with perfect clarity the treatment a kids' hockey team received last year in Quebec, and enjoyed hearing - finally - someone trash Quebec. And because we live in an ironic world, that might actually stimulate tourism to Toronto.

I only know from my own circle of friends how Canadians regard Conan's remarks, but I've already had three phone calls this morning urging me to be sure and read all about it. And they weren't offended in the least.

I'm just sayin'.

UPDATE: This Globe and Mail article has more information as well as some on-target quotes from Don Cherry about the show.

Some comments from other Canadians: Bruce reminds us that the $1 million spent to bring Conan here is taxpayer money and mocks the CRTC; Smug Canadian suggests that a healthy democracy is supposed to be able to tolerate jokes about itself; Damian Penny says Canada is having an existential meltdown.

UPDATE: Now Yahoo via Reuters is carrying the story: Canada condemns "racist" Conan O'Brien TV show. When did Quebeckers become a "race?" Doesn't the frivolous and incorrect use of that word diminish real racism?

Posted by Debbye at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

Police force in Iraq

Feb. 12 - I read this at DoD News: Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing which spoke to the release of the 17-page letter to al Qaeda leaders and two things stood out:

Some 300 Iraqi police officers have been killed in the line of duty or being targeted. A number of Iraqi police chiefs have been targeted. And yet, after each of them -- police stations have been targeted too. And after each one of these incidents, we have not seen a change in the recruiting trend line, in the pattern; it's been a constant upward slope.
Some of those deaths are from us in friendly fire incidents - that means they were killed by American fire - but that horrible fact hasn't deterred the Iraqi will for freedom nor has it pushed them into the camps of the Ba'athists or terrorists.
We find that despite attacks, Iraqis seem to be fully engaged and interested in playing a part in the security of their own country. And so, when we talk to Iraqis and they talk about a sense of national pride, and they talk about a sense of patriotism, about being involved in the security of their own country, we believe that these sorts of attacks tend to strengthen that sense of unity, that sense of patriotism, that sense of call to public service. And that continues.
The large number of Iraqis killed by what some call "insurgents" and others (like me) call terrorists means that people who keep hammering about American deaths might want to consider that the people of Iraq have stepped up to the plate to take charge of their future and they have not been deterred by attacks on their police, army, religious leaders and civilians. They are freedom fighters in the hard work sense of the term because they aren't doing the old guts and glory thing but the unsung, day-to-day jobs that doesn't make the news until some of them die but is indispensable toward forming a better Iraq. The people of Iraq have earned the full measure of our respect and support. Accord them that respect.

The other thing is my growing hatred of the phrase "innocent Iraqis" not because I don't think the civilians killed are innocent but because it is so patronizing and implies innocence as existing in a state of childhood, which has been proven to be wrong on every level by the actions of the Iraqis.

The people of Iraq are a strong, proud people, and they have earned the right to be regarded as such. Stop reducing their dignity by thinking of them as victims instead of what they are: a people who have dared to go into unknown terroritory by

a) trusting in the good intentions of the United States, and
b) trusting that they can prove that democracy is compatible with Islam.

I think their actions prove that they know exactly what is going on and what is at stake. Just because some people outside of Iraq believe it preferable that Iraqis be subject to any amount of plastic-shredding tyranny rather than endure the horror of gasoline and electric shortages doesn't make it so, and there are too many Iraqis who are capable and willing to see the bigger picture and brighter future.

To me, everything after the fall of Baghdad is going to plan because that plan was to let the Iraqi people engage in free debate and discourse over their future yet prevent a civil war.

One of the most encouraging signs is the seeds of grass-roots democracy in Iraq, and those are the seeds from which freedom and democracy grow and endure.

There is no precedent in the Middle East for the amount of freedom in Iraq these days and that alone is a victory, and given the number of publications that arose right after the liberation, I'd say the Iraqis are handling freedom just fine.

Judging by the fact that the Democrats' campaign strategy has been reduced to the wearying sniping about GWB's activities 30 years ago, I'd have to conclude that they realize that everything that has happened in Iraq has been a success in Big Picture terms.

Since things that happened 30 years ago are the rage of today, I've been trying to remember my own activities in 1970-72. I do remember what cities I lived in, and I know I was at SFSC until the end of 1971 and distinctly remember moving to Atlanta at the end of 1971, and I even think I remember where I worked that first summer in Atlanta and that it is really, really hot and humid in Atlanta during the summer, but had to refer to my college transcript to refresh my memory of what courses I took while I was in San Francisco and Atlanta and thus the details of my day-to-day activities.

It says I got an "A" in an upper division Lit course, Fables and Folklore in 1971 at SFSC. I took a course in Fables and Folklore? Hmm, I usually did well tests that were of the Essay Persuasion so that could be how I got an "A" in a course I don't even remember, but how about the "B" I got in Astronomy that same year? Considering how bad I am in science there had to have been much angst, teeth-gnashing and unseemly language given that the course would have involved mathematics and physics so I really ought to remember the anguish if not the course (although maybe my roommates might remember!) Oh well, at least now I know how I completed the Sciences requirement in the pursuit of Diploma Heaven.

There are some things I do remember. For example, I remember the May, 1970, invasion of Cambodia and the deaths at Kent State, and university students around the country going out on strike in protest. I remember the first Women's demonstration on August 26, 1970, celebrating 50 years of the vote, and I do remember being annoyed that the press could only focus on "bra-burning" even though it never happened.

I know there were two big anti-war demonstrations in 1971, and I remember meeting Harvey Milk at an anti-war planning meeting sometime in the Fall. He organized the Gays Against the War contingent in San Francisco that year.

I remember things that were of historical importance a lot more than what I was doing on any other, less important, days and, quite frankly, what any one person did on most of the other days of those years is extremely unimportant in any scheme of things.

But I'm not planning on asking the president what he was doing on August 26, 1970. Like most men back then, he probably watched the evening news and wondered what was with this Women's Lib stuff. I daresay Sen. Kerry had much the same reaction.

Posted by Debbye at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2004

Auditor General's Report

Feb. 11 - I've given up writing anything coherent about the Auditor General's latest report.

Sure, it's my tax money they've lost/stolen/abused. Sure, it's about events that go back several years and the trail is probably cold, but it's one of many boondoggles from the Palestinian Authority, the European Union, allegations that Chirac's party was involved in redirecting public funds to itself and the failure of the UN to investigate corruption in the Oil for Food Program.

I'm stuck at the notion that Canada certainly is becoming more European, and I don't know how to write about that without being really, really nasty.

UPDATE: Colby Cosh has quite an impressive post about the mess, and suggests that, in an odd way, the Communications Commission may actually have succeeded in its mandate:

But in an odd sort of way, the sponsorship program may have accomplished exactly what was intended for it. It was meant to create national unity and teach Canadians about the true nature of their government. Today the country seems quite united--against the Liberals--and as lessons in Liberal administrative practices go, it is hard to imagine a better one.
Ouch.

Posted by Debbye at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

Canadians in Afghanistan

Feb. 10 - Lt.-Gen. Rick Hillier takes command of the 6,000 person NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan but says Canadians will not operate outside of Kabul where they currently patrol.

Meanwhile, DNA testing should confirm or refute a Taliban claim that the bomber who killed Canadian soldier Cpl. Jamie Murphy last January 27 was in fact the son of a Canadian:

KABUL (AFP) - Photos of the head of a suicide bomber and DNA testing of his remains would be used to determine whether the man responsible for the deadly attack on a Canadian patrol was the son of a Canadian al-Qaeda member, an official said.

A Taliban spokesman has told AFP that the bomber, who walked up to a Canadian peacekeeping patrol on January 27, killing one soldier and a civilian, was Mohammad Abdullah, an Afghan from south eastern Khost province.

The spokesman claimed that Mohammad Abdullah is the son of a Canadian citizen from Egypt named Abdul Rehman who was killed in October during a Pakistani Army operation.

He could be referring to Ahmed Said Abdur Rehman Khadr, identified by Pakistani authorities in late January following DNA tests, but the Canadian defense ministry is still uncertain.

One of Khadr's five sons, Abdullah, has not been seen since the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

Meanwhile, the Khadr family will have to pay the expenses to bring the 14-year old son, Abdulkareem, to Canada. Abdulkareem was paralyzed when he was shot in the spine during a firefight with Pakistani forces and his Toronto family wish to bring him here:
The government official said authorities are limited in what they can do for Abdulkareem Khadr and would normally only consider assistance when all other possibilities of private funding are exhausted.

"This does not apply to him because the family as a whole had resettled in Pakistan. You don't start being interested in your Canadian citizenship simply because it suits your needs."

The young Khadr has lived outside Canada for at least five years, said the official, and it's doubtful he would even be eligible for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

"It's not an automatic resumption of medical coverage."

Khadr is a probably a stretcher case who will need medical escort and possibly a private plane or air ambulance, likely costing more than $30,000.

The father, Ahmed Said Abdur Rehman Khadr, was arrested in Pakistan in connection with the Egyptian embassy bombing in Islamabad but former PM Chretien personally intervened and secured his freedom in 1995.

Posted by Debbye at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

Auditor General's Report

Feb. 10 - According to a "source," Audit will flail feds:

OTTAWA -- The Liberal government is bracing itself for what many expect will be the most scathing report yet from the auditor general, scheduled to be released today. Auditor General Sheila Fraser will report on the way the federal government handed out ads, sponsorship and conducted public opinion research. Of particular interest to Fraser is the involvement of crown corporations, such as VIA Rail, in the programs.

"I won't sugarcoat this: The report is dreadful (for the government). It makes some very serious allegations which we will have to respond to immediately and in a robust way," one official said.

"This is going to be much, much worse than people had expected ... On one level all we can do is put up our hands and say 'Sorry.'"

On another level, why can't we say: "You're fired"?

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

Youth sports in Toronto

Feb. 10 - Youth sports associations continue to take financial hits (Kids' hockey tix may rise) as the city is proposing to charge higher fees for rinks and some family day-trip sites:

Toronto's economic development committee adopted a plan yesterday to hike hourly ice rink rentals by 3% -- from $133 to $137 in the case of competitive youth hockey.
That may not seem like a lot, but that is per hour and youth hockey uses arenas from pre-dawn to post-dusk seven days a week. (Many arenas here operate 24-hours a day, with older players using the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. slots for adult hockey. The adult leagues pay substantially more to rent ice.) We haven't seen the figures we'll pay this year for baseball parks, but rumour has it they will rise substantially.
Committee members recommended other revenue boosters:

- Weekday parking fees at waterfront parks -- $1 per hour to a maximum of $5.

- The same fees on weekends at regional parks, including High Park, Edwards Gardens, James Gardens, Sunnybrook Park and G. Ross Lord.

- Increasing the cost of adult fitness sessions -- typically nine classes -- by $5 to $50.

- Boosting fees for city-run day camps by $5-$30 a session -- one or two weeks.

When combined, the new fees would provide the city with $846,000 this year. Councillors face a $344-million shortfall as they work at balancing this year's proposed $6.7-billion budget.

One of the biggest source of revenues used to be from bingo halls where the parents would volunteer to work as runners, but the opening of the casino at Woodbine and Casin-o-rama to the north of Toronto has caused the older halls to close.

As I posted earlier, youth sports associations are non-profit and offset costs by registration fees, sponsorships and fund-raising activities.

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

2003 Report cites Jewish targets in Ottawa

Feb. 10 - According to a July 2003 report prepared by the federal research division of the U.S. Library of Congress, a 1999 plot to attack Jewish targets in Ottawa foiled as well as attacks in Argentina and Paraguay but the report doesn't say which targets or how the plot was foiled. The planning took place in the Tri-Border area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet.

[The report] ... also details how Hezbollah operatives in South America have funnelled large sums of money through Canada to finance operations in the Middle East.
Humanitarian operations, no doubt. Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers were long misunderstood - by the Canadian government, at least.

Yes, I am still pissed off that my tax dollars went to fund the activities of Ahmed Khadr, the Tamil Tigers and other terrorists.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

Don Cherry

Feb. 10 - Cherry fans seeing red during a phone-in segment on Fan 590:

During last night's two-hour segment of Grapeline (Coast-to-Coast Live) on the Fan 590, Cherry tap-danced around the latest controversy that surrounds him, one that prompted his employer -- the CBC -- to announce they will broadcast Coach's Corner on a seven-second tape delay when it returns to the air Feb. 14.

If Cherry's fans expected him to pop off on the subject last night during the phone-in show, which also featured Brian Williams, they were greatly disappointed.

Cherry declined to bash the CBC, but didn't censor callers who chose to do some bashing:
The Cherry that people love and expect came to the fore when one caller suggested:" I think it's time you tell them (the CBC) to stick their visor --"

At that point Williams jumped in: "There's going to be no bashing here tonight."

That got Cherry's hackles up.

"Just a minute, whoa, whoa, whoa," he blasted. "Wait a minute. Let's get something straight here. I said right off the bat we are not going to censor anybody. If they want to bash me, they can bash me. If they want to bash anybody else, they can bash them.

"We're not going to say whoa, whoa, whoa you can't say that or I'm getting off here. I'm telling you right now."

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

Mohammed Warsame

Feb. 10 - An FBI affidavit indicates the nature of the materrial support which Mohammed Warsame, the Canadian arrested in Minnesota, provided al Qaeda:

... [he] trained in martial arts and with weapons, taught English to al-Qaida members and joined the Taliban front lines, according to an FBI affidavit.

Mohammed Warsame, 30, twice saw combat with front line units of the Taliban while in Afghanistan and once sat next to Osama bin Laden at a meal, said the affidavit, which investigators said was based on interviews with Warsame. "The defendant stated that bin Laden was very inspirational," according to the affidavit.

Investigators say he has acknowledged travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001. In early 2001, they say, Warsame asked al-Qaida for money to move his family to Afghanistan.

According to the affidavit, an al-Qaida leader instead paid for Warsame's airplane ticket back to North America, and gave him $1,700 US in travel money. Warsame admitted he later wired money to people he had met in the training camps, investigators said.

This seems to indicate that Warsame fought with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance but left Afghanistan prior to Sept. 11 and has been living in Minnesota since 2002.

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

Zarqawi letter

Feb. 10 - On Jan. 23, a block of cyanide salt and an electronic copy of a 17-page letter were found during a raid on a Baghdad safe house. Portions of the letter are in today's NY Times (Violence: U.S. Aides Report Evidence Tying Al Qaeda to Attacks.)

The letter contained a request for assistance from al Qaeda and report to senior al Qaeda members:

In a raid on a safe house in Baghdad on Jan. 23, American officials found an electronic copy of a document believed to have been written by Mr. Zarqawi. That document was a detailed proposal asking senior leaders of Al Qaeda for help in waging a "sectarian war" against Shiites in Iraq in the next six months. Parts of it were made available to The New York Times.

The writer of that document indicated that he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq, "some of them against Shiites and their leaders, the Americans and their military, and the police, the military and the coalition forces." A senior United States intelligence official in Washington said Sunday that he knew of "no reason to believe the letter is bogus in any way."

The letter is another piece of evidence that may connect al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to three of the most devastating car-bomb attacks in Iraq during the past six months: the August car-bombing of an important mosque in Najaf which killed 83 people including the Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, the August car-bombing of the Bagdhad UN HQ at the Canal Hotel, and the November bombing attack on the Italian police station in Nasiriya. Over 100 Iraqis died in those attacks.
In the period before the war, Bush administration officials argued that Mr. Zarqawi constituted the main link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. At the United Nations in February, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell accused Iraq of harboring "a deadly terrorist network" headed by Mr. Zarqawi, whom he called "an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants."

[...]

Last fall, American military, intelligence and law enforcement officials said they did not know whether the August bombings were part of a coordinated campaign. At the time, they said they were wrestling with several competing theories about who might be behind them, including the possibility that they were carried out by former members of the Iraqi military or paramilitary forces.

Investigators said at the time that they had not seen a common signature in the bombings, but that the attack at the United Nations headquarters and another on the Jordanian Embassy had used vehicles packed with explosives drawn from old Iraqi military stocks. American officials have not said publicly what kinds of explosives were used in the attacks in Najaf and Nasiriya.

On Monday, senior American officials were careful to describe Mr. Zarqawi as "an associate" of Al Qaeda rather than a member. American military officials say that at least 90 percent of the attacks on United States troops are thought to have been carried out by Iraqi Sunnis opposed to the occupation.

An item at a DoD website commenting on the story confirms the information and details of the NY Times story and links the letter to Hassad al-Ghul, who was intercepted carrying the letter near the Iranian border last month.
Meanwhile, U.S., coalition, and Iraqi forces are keeping the pressure on insurgents in Iraq, Kimmitt reported, noting that 1,520 patrols, 16 offensive operations and 18 raids have been conducted in the past 24 hours. Seventy-eight anti-coalition suspects, [Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmet] he added, were detained during that time frame.
The CNN story on today's car-bombing says that the letter was meant for delivery to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri [so they are together?] and contains a clue as their biggest tactical problem:
But the writer states that few Iraqis have been willing to support his fighters beyond offering them refuge and says they will "lose the pretext" for waging attacks if a new Iraqi government takes power as scheduled at the end of June.

Senor said the letter "was clearly intended to be read by senior leadership of al Qaeda outside Iraq." It asks the intended recipients' help "to bring the Shia into the battle," according to an excerpt published in the Times.

"It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," it says. "If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis, who are fearful of destruction and death" in a potential civil war.

Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter who was given access to the document by the U.S. military, told CNN it was "sort of part business plan and part plea for help."

"Basically, they were saying, 'It's really hard here. We're not getting a lot of support. We think we're losing. Here is this sort of last-ditch plan that we can come up with. Can you help?' "

Further, Filkins said, the author of the document was deferential to the recipient, telling him: " 'We realize that you're the big fish, and we're not competing with you, but we are at your disposal. And you just tell us what you need to do, and here are our ideas.' "

A police station and neighbouring courthouse were car-bombed this morning in Iskandariyah killing over 40 people and wounded several others. Iskandariyah is about 25 mi. south of Baghdad.

The Fox article notes that Hassan al Ghul was arrested by Kurdish forces near the Iranian border as he attempted to enter the country from Iran:

The Times report quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying that American forces arrested a man who had the document on a computer disk and was taking it to Afghanistan to get it to Al Qaeda's senior leaders.

The author of the document claimed he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq, but said the resistance against the U.S. occupation was struggling to recruit Iraqis and to combat American troops.

The memo even offers a kind of praise for U.S. forces, saying "America, however, has no intention of leaving no matter how many wounded nor how bloody it becomes."

The letter expresses frustration over efforts to force the United States out of Iraq and suggests that attacks on Shiites would prompt retaliation against Sunnis and a cycle of widening violence, the newspaper said.

"It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," the letter says, according to the New York Times. "If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands" of Shiites, it said.

The Fox report says that the letter will be released today.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the first NY Times article on the letter from yesterday.

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

February 08, 2004

Canada's Illegal Arms Race

Feb. 8 - Interesting series of reports in the Sunday Sun on the Illegal arms race.

One interesting thing in these articles is a refutation of the assumption that most illegal weapons here are smuggled in from the USA. The article says that the majority of them are obtained in Canada through theft of stores and private collections.

Posted by Debbye at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2004

CBC apologizes for Cherry

Feb. 7 - CBC apologizes for Don Cherry comments about European, francophone players:

OTTAWA (CP) - The CBC has placed controversial hockey commentator Don Cherry on a seven-second tape-delay leash and publicly reprimanded him over what management called an "inappropriate and reprehensible personal opinion" expressed on air.

The announcement came Friday from Harold Redekopp, executive vice-president of CBC Television, and capped a day of Cherry-baiting invective that rivalled some of the former NHL coach's colourful public pronouncements.

"Mr. Cherry's role on Coach's Corner is, and has always been, as a hockey commentator," Redekopp said in a release.

"However, during the Jan. 24 show, he unacceptably stepped beyond that role by expressing an inappropriate and reprehensible personal opinion as part of his discussion about the use of visors.

"CBC Television categorically rejects and denounces the personal opinions Mr. Cherry expressed during the segment. Comments such as those expressed during the show cannot be repeated and will not be tolerated."

I kid you not. Cherry as commenting on the the wearing of face shields by hockey players, and that isn't about hockey? He pointed out that the only ones who wear them are European and french players, and, more importantly, pointed out that the perception that players are better protected has led to more, not less, cheap shots and more, not less injuries (I actually saw that Coaches Corner spot.)

This goes back to comments he made that implied Europeans and French hockey players are "sucks." (For non-Canadians, "french" means Quebecker up here.)

This is an epidemic, folks. this man has also been forced to impose a 7-second delay.

Don Cherry gives a good rant, and I guarantee more viewers will watch Coaches Corner tonight just to see if they bleep him.

Our tax dollars at work, folks.

UPDATE: Arrgh, I forgot to make my point!

What good is a 7-second delay inasmuch as Cherry's remarks were made January 24, and it took them nearly 2 weeks to get upset?

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

February 06, 2004

Work

Feb. 6 - I'm sorry about my absence yesterday, a minor crisis and major changes at work (don't the two always go hand in hand?) means my schedule will be somewhat erratic until Monday.

Check out the blogroll, there are some fine people there including some gems that have kept me sane!

Take care, and enjoy the weekend. (I know I won't! It really crimps my psyche when I can't post regularly, but sometimes you have to go above and beyond to keep that paycheque rolling in. Damned bills.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)

Feb. 6 - The men

Feb. 6 - The men in my family are on this case: Languages commissioner investigates Cherry:

CBC SPORTS ONLINE - Don Cherry's recent remarks about francophones have launched a government investigation.

A spokesperson for Dyane Adam revealed Wednesday that the official languages commissioner is investigating Cherry's comments about francophones aired during the Jan. 24 instalment of Coach's Corner on Hockey Night In Canada.

Cherry, who turned 70 on Thursday, was discussing the merits of protective visors as mandatory equipment in the NHL when he said: "Most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys."

I came home late last night and it took me awhile to figure out what all the dinnertime ranting was about.

It was along the lines of All he did was tell the truth! Why do they investigate someone for telling the truth! I thought they were talking about George Tenet's speech (which I caught right before I went to work) or the president, but those are my standard rantworthy issues so I was lost until they finally told me what was happening with Grapes.

(Oh, and sorry to Ottawa fans, but way to stage a comeback, Leafs! Not that I minded being woken up by excessive cheering from the fan section of my livingroom. It was for a good cause.)

Darren provided a link to a more detailed article in the Globe and Mail. Thanks, Darren!

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

American Thoughts

Feb. 4 - American Thinker has a very interesting article that focuses on what effect his MBA from Harvard has had on the President's management style. It parallels thoughts I've had, particularly on makeup and behaviour of the Cabinet, but reminds me of some things I knew but had let slip to the back of my mind.

The President's primary identification for me these past years has been as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and although I employ the terms Chief Executive and Executive branch of the government I haven't given as much thought to those designations (understandable enough in a time of war) until the post set out what being awarded an MBA from the Harvard Business School entailed and how that education and training has benefited the President especially given the suddenness of of Sept. 11 and course correction that required.

It never bothered me that the Secs. of State and Defense disagreed. I expected them (and other Cabinet members to disagree) because their job is to advise the President. I wanted them to engage in lively and healthy debates before decisions were made. It fits my own attitude as to how a democracy must function: different points of view honestly advocated, debated, and thrashed out with the aim of exposing the strengths and weaknesses of differing positions. That is the optimal way of reaching decisions, and if it is imperfect, it is still better than any alternatives.

A different problem is the failure of decisions reached at the highest - and, I might add, appropriate - levels which are not being implemented by the staff of those departments. Personnel in both State and Defense have rightly come under fire for failures to follow policies set by their respective chains of command.

It's a good article, and gives a perspective to not only the President but to the presidency that isn't often considered. (Those who take umbrage and rail against Corporate America will disagree!)

Another good post up is this at Chaos Central:

Because nearly every conservative truly DOES understand the left's position. Why's that? Because, by and large, most conservatives were once liberals.

Conservatives KNOW that there is a rational reason to believe what the left believes. It comes from emotion and love for humanity. The divergence comes when someone gains enough experience in the real world to understand that the best way to help these people is not through the policies that your heart espouses.

Conservativism is the answer to their problems. We conservatives want to help the poor or disenfranchised as much as the next guy. But we don't want to do it for them. We want them to succeed on their own because that is the only way to truly help them. Liberals can't understand this position because they have never decided to make the tough decisions. The hard decisions.

It's not just the left, of course, it's many the nations who do not have to make the hard calls decisions because they chose long ago to let the US take the leadership in the Cold War and were content to snipe from the sidelines and when the world changed on Sept. 11, found themselves unable to support the US and yet could not in good conscience support or defend terrorism.

One of the most interesting aspects of American history has been the evolution of our relationship with the British. When I was in school, American history courses began with the Magna Carta. We studied the development of English democracy and institutions, read Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith and, after a brief tour with the Portuguese, Spanish, French and English explorers and conquistadores, began to study the founding of Jamestown, hopped back to England for a quick look at Cromwell's rise and fall and then landed at Plymouth Rock. We stayed with the colonies until the passage of the Intolerable Acts, briefly discussed the extent of King George's madness, and then read the Declaration of Independence.

Extra points went to the student who said "whoa" when the poor King is accused of single-handedly forcing slavery upon the colonies.

We were extremely paranoid after the Revolutionary War yet remained closely connected with Englands through trade and by our shared language, culture and political traditions. There have been events throughout the centuries that nurtured and forced the rebellious child to stand on its own, grow, learn, and proper, and finally mother and child learned that the other wasn't so bad after all. There were several make or break issues: whether they would stand by us when we took on the Barbary Pirates (they did and continued to protect our shipping interests worldwide,) whether we could side with the British, French or remain neutral during the Napoleonic Wars (we did all three!) whether the British would recognize the Confederacy (they didn't,) and the ultimate test in WWI when again, we finally decided we wouldn't abandon our British heritage or brethren. When the crunch came again during WWII, the irritation against the French insistence of harsh penalties imposed at Versailles kept us out of that war, foolishly deciding to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Fortunately, the Japanese were so anxious to have us in they sent an invitation we couldn't refuse.

Prime Ministers Blair's speech to Congress last July contained a message that only someone who represented that which was once known as the British Empire and the representative of the island that withstood the German assault in WWII could deliver with compassion and understanding for the terrible burden that we inherited by dint of winning the Cold War.

As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but, in fact, it is transient.

The question is: What do you leave behind?

And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty.

[...]

And I know it's hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to, but always wanted to go...

I know out there there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me? And why us? And why America?"

And the only answer is, "Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do."

A lot of us are with that guy in Nevada (or Idaho) and just wanted to get on with our lives. The Cold War was over, armageddon was averted, and the kids needed to get to the baseball field.

Oh well. You have to deal the cards played to you.

Posted by Debbye at 05:01 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2004

Steyn on the war on terror

Feb. 3 - Steyn has a column in the Jerusalem Post today in which he recognizes that the war on terror - by freezing terrorist assets and fund raising - has had a beneficial effect on reducing terrorism in Ireland, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Nepal and Columbia where the US sent special forces to train counter-terrorist units in the Columbian army shortly after Sept. 11, has proven the validity of calling this a war on terror International terrorism takes a hit.

But here's the interesting thing. Pace the historian, it seems you can wage war against a phenomenon. If the "war on terror" is aimed primarily at al-Qaida and those of similar ideological bent, it seems to have had the happy side-benefit of discombobulating various non-Islamic terrorists from Colombia to Sri Lanka.

This isn't because these fellows are the administration's priority right now, but rather because it's amazing what a little light scrutiny of international wire transfers can do.

He looks especially hard at the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lanka.

Posted by Debbye at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

North Korean horror

Feb. 4 - It's been hard to read the articles and blog posts on North Korea. Spin Killer has kept on top of it The horror is happening again ....

Posted by Debbye at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

Journalistic fascism

Feb. 3 - Interesting column by Martin Kettle of the Guardian (UK) about some of the lessons and reactions to the Hutton Inquiry The threat to the media is real. It comes from within:

[Former BBC Today producer Rod] Liddle's article in the current Spectator exemplifies this approach, and incarnates a great deal of what is wrong with modern journalism. Liddle's article is wrong on the facts (Lord Franks, chairman of the inquiry into the Falklands war, was not a judge, much less a law lord), sneering (Lord Hutton's Ulster brogue is mocked, and he is described as anachronistic and hopelessly naive), and unapologetic (the best Liddle can manage is that Gilligan's famous 6.07am report went "a shade too far"). Above all, Liddle's piece is arrogant, embodied in his remarkable final sentence: "I think, as a country, we've had enough of law lords."

Think about the implications of that. To Liddle's fellow practitioners of punk journalism, it can be excused as sparky, or justified on the grounds that it is what a lot of other people are saying. To criticise it is to be condemned as boring or, like Hutton, hopelessly naive. To me, though, it smacks of something bordering on journalistic fascism, in which all elected politicians are contemptible, all judges are disreputable and only journalists are capable of telling the truth, even though what passes for truth is sometimes little more than prejudice unsupported by facts.

Posted by Debbye at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

Janet's medallion

Feb. 3 - I wasn't going to post anything on the silly furor over the Super Bowl half-time show but I can't resist Chuck's take.

Posted by Debbye at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

Canadians obsessed with the USA?

Feb. 3 - It's hard to read (much less post) an article like this without wanting to take a few swipes of my own, but I'll just let it stand on its own merits: Canadians to Bush: Hope You Lose, Eh. (Hat tip to Nik, who sent the link with the subject line "More Maclean's BS.")

UPDATE: Let it Bleed is astonished that this is Canada's Most Pressing Issue.

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

Mark Steyn

Feb. 3 - He who should have a column running in at least one Canadian paper whacks the BBC, Greg Dyke and multilateralism in The alternative to war was simple: defeat.

There was no sharper way to draw a distinction between the new geopolitical landscape and the September 10 world than by removing a man who symbolised the weakness and irresolution of "multilateralism". He was left in power back in 1991 in order, as Colin Powell airily conceded in his memoirs, to keep the UN coalition intact. Lesson number one: don't form coalitions with people who don't share your war aims.

If the Gulf war was a cautionary tale in the defects of unbounded multilateralism, the Iraq war is a lesson in the defects of even the most circumscribed coalition. The Americans settled on WMD as the preferred casus belli because it was the one Blair could go along with: as one of his Cabinet ministers told me, they were advised that a simple policy of regime change - the Clinton/Bush line - would have been illegal. So they plumped for WMD. American and British intelligence were convinced Saddam had 'em, as were the French and Germans. Saddam thought he had 'em. So did his generals. It's believed that they were ordered to be used against the Americans as they galloped up to Baghdad from Kuwait. But when Saddam got there, the cupboard was bare. Strange, but apparently true. Anyone who's really fearless in his search for the truth can read David Kay's conclusions: it's a much more interesting story than "Blair lied!"

So Saddam didn't have WMD. Conversely, Colonel Gaddafi did. And hands up anyone who knew he did until he announced he was chucking it in. The only way you can be absolutely certain your intelligence about a dictator's weapons is accurate is when you look out the window and see a big mushroom cloud over Birmingham...

The Left is remarkably nonchalant about these new terrors. When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, the Left was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute, and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted number in Islamabad in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left couldn't care less.

The supposition that Saddam thought he had weapons (advanced by David Warren in his essay about the Intelligence Failure) is gaining credibility because it fits the facts once we drop what we thought we knew and look at what we now know
Saddam put himself personally in charge of all the weapons programmes, and trusting no one except the people running them for him, allowed them to pocket huge amounts of oil money for projects that never bore any fruit. Copious hypothetical plans were drawn up, and again and again the Kay teams found the paper equivalent of a "smoking gun", only to be unable to pair it with real-life evidence. That was because Saddam's weapons programmes -- except for some progress in illicit missile-making -- existed only on paper.

The result was, every senior person in Saddam's regime sincerely believed that, while he did not himself have access to "WMD", almost everyone else had.

That might explain why chemical protection suits and injection kits were found in abandoned warehouses near the front but no trace of weapons: they were guarding against other Iraqi units deploying WMD.

I've no doubt that the results of the inquiry will be highly politicized and despite the long list of recommendations that will undoubtably come out of it, they won't be able to circumvent the fact that human intelligence is subject to human frailty, and it's still a guessing game.

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

Germany seeks new partners

Feb. 3 - Germany has signaled it is disengaging from some of its closeness to France and seeks closer ties with Britain, the U.S., and perhaps Poland:

They said the row with Washington over Iraq had been "catastrophic" for Berlin and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had become "a prisoner" of President Jacques Chirac's campaign to oppose the war to topple Saddam Hussein last year. (Link included)

"We were more dependent on the French in that situation. But this will not be a permanent situation," said one authoritative source.

Another official explained: "We have to be careful that we are not identified with every word that the French president utters. We must have our own identity and be a little more clever."

[...]

Germany has no intention of abandoning the close partnership with France, a central plank of its foreign policy. Any change, if it comes, is likely to be gradual.

But Berlin apparently wants to redesign the once all-powerful "Franco-German motor" to include Britain and perhaps Poland.

"German-French understanding is a necessary condition to move Europe forward, but it is not sufficient," said one senior official. "The European project cannot move without Britain and Poland. This is not always understood in France."

Foreign Affairs Minister Jack Straw noted action such as the pressure put on Iran to be honest about their nuclear weapons programme by Britain, France and Germany thorugh the EU, but the article counters by citing the surprise move by Libya to voluntarily disarm, an action in which Britain proceeded without involving the EU.

Sources say that Germany will not oppose sending NATO peacekeeping forces into Iraq (although not German troops) and may also offer limited help in Iraq (presumably in reconstruction projects.)

UPDATE: Tim Blair notes that they should be embarrassed to admit they were pushed around by the French.

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

Scientism in CIA analysis

Feb. 3 - David Brooks nails it in today's NY Times The C.I.A.: Method and Madness. Describing the mentality that believed human behaviour could be scientifically analyzed, Brooks says:

If you read C.I.A. literature today, you can still see scientism in full bloom. The tone is cold, formal, depersonalized and laden with jargon. You can sense how the technocratic process has factored out all those insights that may be the product of an individual's intuition and imagination, and emphasized instead the sort of data that can be processed by an organization.

This false scientism was bad enough during the cold war, when the intelligence community failed to anticipate seemingly nonrational events like the Iran-Iraq war or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But it is terrible now in the age of terror, because terror is largely nonrational.

What kind of scientific framework can explain the rage for suicide bombings, now sweeping the Middle East? What technocratic mentality can really grasp the sadistic monster who was pulled out of the spider hole a few weeks ago? Under Saddam, Iraqi society seems to have been in a state of advanced decomposition, with drastic consequences for its W.M.D. program. How can corruption and madness be understood by analysts in Langley, who have a tendency to impose a false order on reality?

Is there something in the water that makes government bureaucrats dull and unimaginative? I think it's just an awareness of the political reality in DC which places the fear of appearing risky above innovation, similar to that caused cancellation of letting futures speculators predict future terrorist targets.

UPDATE: The British are to undertake their own inquiry into the lapses of intelligence, but John Keegan of the Daily Telegraph notes the massive intelligence failure during WWII that failed to give credence to reports about the Germans developing plans for an unmanned rocket, the V2 and provides ample evidence from history that intelligence is not necessarily the deciding factor for victory and that, in the case of Iraq, there was one big problem:

Above all, it must be remembered that British intelligence was attempting to penetrate the mentality of a man and a regime which were not wholly rational.

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

Martin's $161 million bank error

Feb. 3 - From the Montreal Gazette:

In Ottawa, the bank error in favour of Paul Martin's shipping company was $161 million more than the first reported figure of $137,000 in contracts to Canada Steamship Lines.
That is not a misprint.
But Martin's problem isn't the money, as curious as the accounting or administrative error might be. It's that in the government game of Monopoly, he was both the banker and a player.

Fortunately for him, more than two-thirds of CSL's contracts with Ottawa were awarded by the Tories before the Liberals took power in 1993, or since Martin left the government in 2002. CSL received only $46 million in federal government work during Martin's nine-year tenure as finance minister, and his business interests were presumably in a blind trust during the entire period.

So Martin's companies did better under the Tories than under the Liberals. And as a man of unquestioned integrity, he would never have knowingly placed himself in a conflict of interest. If there had ever been a cabinet discussion relating to contracts for CSL, no one doubts that he would have recused himself.

In opposition and as a government backbencher, Martin was perfectly entitled to be aware of, and even involved in, the business dealings of his companies, ownership of which he transferred to his sons last year to avoid any suggestion he would be conflicted once he became prime minister.

Unfortunately for Martin, the question is whether he was able to avoid even the appearance of a conflict during his nine years as finance minister. So the important number isn't $161 million, but the $46 million awarded to CSL during his tenure as chief financial officer of Ottawa Inc., and whether he participated in any discussions or decisions around it.

The answer is, probably not.

The Globe and Mail doesn't take the same conciliatory approach as the Montreal Gazette, however. Comparing it to Watergate (the obligatory Amer-Con reference) the Globe notes that the error streches the PM's credibility:
One piece of sticky tape over a door latch in the spiffy Watergate Hotel in Washington eventually did in the presidency of Richard Nixon.

One so-called "administrative error" may not do in the prime ministership of Paul Martin, but it has already driven a hole in his credibility. It could also be a thread that unravels more interweaving of Mr. Martin's business and political interests.

In the case of Watergate, it was not the initial break-in but the efforts to hide it that eventually led to Mr. Nixon's demise. Similarly, there may have been nothing untoward about the activities of the companies in Mr. Martin's blind trust. But the way that information has been handled raises the question of whether there was deliberate obfuscation.

To take the Prime Minister's words last week at face value, the notion that a $161-million discrepancy could be dismissed as an administrative error is just not credible. Nor is Mr. Martin's claim he knew nothing about it until the opposition caught it.

Two persistent journalists unravelled the Watergate saga. In the case of the Martin contracts, it was two persistent researchers for the Reform/Canadian Alliance Party who have been tracking Canada Steamship Lines and its subsidiaries since Mr. Martin became finance minister.

Given the political situation, with Mr. Martin having been fired from the cabinet but the odds-on favourite to become prime minister, there is no way this dossier would have stayed on the desk of some low-level clerk or number cruncher at the Department of Public Works and Government Services, which handles most government contracting.

The $137,000 answer, as incredulous as it was given there were at least 548 contracts given out by the department, would have to have been signed off at several levels, at least up to an assistant deputy minister, maybe even to the minister's office. (Emphasis added)

PM Martin signed over control of his company to his children upon becoming Prime Minister in order to avoid any conflicts of interest.

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

The Corruption of Chirac

Feb. 3 - I followed a link at Mischa's to an article in Prospect Magazine about a French magistrate, Eva Joly, who investigates corruption, and the harrassment she receives. The allegations in the article were shocking, and I found it hard to believe until recent events provided confirmation.

The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports that Chirac has seized control over the investigation of Alain Juppe, France's former prime minister, and 21 of Chirac's former aides and business partners, on illegal party funding during the 80's and 90's.

The magistrate who ruled in the investigation has, like M Joly, been subject to harrassment, says her office and computers have been broken into, her phone tapped and that she received a death threat before passing sentence on Juppe.

Now Chirac has stepped in:

M Chirac seized charge of an inquiry into alleged telephone taps, break-ins and violent threats against judges investigating Alain Juppe, the former prime minister and his heir apparent, convicted on Friday of organising illegal party funding.

The extraordinary intervention came the day after the justice ministry announced it would investigate the allegations.

His gazumping of his own ministry indicates the seriousness with which he is taking the insinuation that he or his allies tried to pressure the judges in the Juppe case.

[...]

The allegations lend a murky aura to a long legal process which has bedevilled M Chirac and his entourage. They are also consistent with complaints by other judges who have threatened the highest levels of the establishment.

Eric Halphen, a magistrate who spent seven years investigating alleged kickbacks paid to M Chirac's staff for building contracts while he was mayor of Paris, left the legal profession in 2002 and wrote a book describing what he endured. He said threatening notes were left on his windscreen and his telephone was tapped.

M Halphen summoned the president as a witness in the case, but after months of delay M Chirac succeeded in having the law on presidential immunity changed to protect him from legal suits while in office.

Several other cases against M Chirac remain in legal limbo because of his immunity. These include charges that he fiddled his grocery bill at the Paris town hall.

The leader (editorial) in the Telegraph notes that Chirac was seen as a "decent" man compared to Mitterand and this prediction:
A Gallic shrug may greet this latest evidence of venality and harassment of those who seek to uncover and punish it. But do not be surprised if voters react in disgust by voting for Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-Right Front National, which offers itself as a clean alternative to the mainstream parties, in forthcoming elections for regional councils and the European Parliament.
The Telegraph is more optimistic than I. What good is a charge of corruption if they can't connect Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton? What good is wiretapping and illegal fund raising if they can't connect it to Watergate?

Posted by Debbye at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

Iran Elections - Boycott Called

Feb. 3 - Although the reformers have held a majority in Parliament since 2000, laws passed to ease restrictions on speech and the press have been vetoed by the hardliners on the Council of Guardians, the judiciary and police remain under the control of the Council, critics have been beaten and jailed, and 3,600 of the 8,200 who filed to run in the Feb. 20 elections were banned by the Guardians. Although 1,160 of them were reinstated, the field of candidates remains constricted such that the conservatives have guaranteed they will hold a majority after the elections.

There are 290 seats in the Iranian Parliament, and 125 resigned on Sunday to protest the ban.

These events have prompted Iran's Leading Reform Party to Boycott Election. Islamic Iran Participation Front leader Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of Iranian Pres. Mohammad Khatami, said ""We have no hope that free and legal elections will be held on Feb. 20. Therefore, it is impossible for the Participation Front to take part in the elections under current circumstances."

[It is unclear if the following quote was made at the same press conference as the previous quote]

"Unfortunately, at a time when the world is moving toward democracy and free elections, and we have good experience of democracy, at the 25th anniversary of our revolution, we do not see conditions appropriate for healthy competition," Mohammad Reza Khatami, the party leader, said on Monday. "The government cannot be called the reformist government anymore if it goes ahead with the vote."
The Interior Ministry has appealed for a seond time to postpone elections and review more candidates. 87 sitting members of Parliament are among those banned.

The office of Akbar Alami, an outspoken member of the reformist party and one of those who resigned on Sunday, was attacked Sunday by "hard-liners" who spray-painted slogans on the walls and severely injured an employee.

A student organization is applying for permission to hold a public demonstration on Wednesday to protest the ban.

Today's editorial in the NY Times looks at the Reformer's Endgame in Iran and notes that the anticipated conservative majority in Iran's Parliament will have more implications internally than externally:

On some international issues, that may not make much difference. The conservatives support more access for international inspectors of Iranian nuclear sites and have shown themselves open to some forms of pragmatic cooperation with the United States over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Inside Iran, however, crushing the reform movement would be felt acutely. The mullahs have failed to prepare their country for the modern world. A quarter-century after its Islamic revolution, Iran remains utterly stagnant. Its economy, supported by one of the world's largest oil reserves, is mired in corruption and mismanagement, and is failing to generate jobs and prosperity. The young are keenly frustrated. By shutting off the last safety valve within the political system, the conservatives are sowing the seeds of more radical forms of discontent.

An article from yesterday's Globe and Mail ends even more ominously:
Hardliners may have to resort to extraordinary measures - perhaps even relying on the elite revolutionary guards and other armed forces - simply to hold the elections in two weeks as scheduled.
UPDATE: Today's Telegraph (UK) closes with this:
The un-elected council, custodian of Islamic law in Iran, has already rejected the possibility of postponing the elections and threatens legal action against anyone deemed to be boycotting the polls.
UPDATE: The request to hold a demonstration to protest the banning of the candidates has been denied (Via InstaNews.)

UPDATE: Michael Ledeen thinks appeasers belong in the bottom circle of Hell with traitors. In this instance, I'd say he's being generous to call them appeasers. With the current restrictions that have been placed on the Feb. elections in Iran, a visit by US elected officials at this time is back-stabbing worthy of Brutus and Cassius. (Via Roger Simon.

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

February 01, 2004

Toronto Affairs

Feb. 1 - Good column today by Lorrie Goldstein:

But [Toronto City Councillor Michael] Thompson also argues the difference between losing a young person to a life of gangs and guns and keeping them out of its clutches can start with something as simple as whether the school gym is open after hours, so kids can play basketball inside instead of being out on the streets.

It can start with a prohibitively high user fee for a community or recreational facility - or whether such programs exist in the community at all. It can depend on the length of time it takes a young person who wants to get off drugs into treatment - the longer it takes, the greater the risk.

If the problem with the left is that it doesn't want to talk about black crime, the problem with the right is that it doesn't want to talk about the issues Thompson is raising.

Amalgamation in Toronto resulted in bad news/worse news for youth programs. Whereas youth baseball associations, for example, in the old City of Etobicoke (and Scarborough) always had to pay user fees for diamonds, those which operated in the former City of Toronto didn't, and those associations were forced to raise fees for their programs substantially once user fees were imposed.

Whereas youth groups like Girl Guides or basketball associations in Etobicoke had to pay no or minimal fees for use of school facilities - classrooms and gyms - before amagamation, the fees after amalgamation jumped so high that many programs had to be cancelled unless they could find an alternative meeting site, something that was easier for Girl Guides than the basketball associations.

It is impossible now to find daytime supervised youth programs during the summer for kids over 12, which coincidentally is the same age when it is legal to let kids stay home without adult supervision. Before amalgamation, the former City of Toronto staffed and funded community centers which provided coaches to teach skills and facilities for supervised pick-up basketball and baseball games among other activies, but the funding has been cut yearly and although the programs have been maintained due to volunteers the facilities are endangered.

The decision to streamline programs and user fees across Toronto was to charge everyone the maximum rather than look at the value the programs provide for Toronto communities and encourage their growth by reducing or holding fee levels.

I'm just touching on a particular sore point for me as I am involved in youth sports, but the column goes into much more depth about steps the city could take that would focus on root causes now and is well worth reading.

Posted by Debbye at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

New Blog Showcase

Feb. 1 - Time to vote in The Truth Laid Bear: The New Weblog Showcase.

I'm voting for Ivy's discussion about Paired Things because the conversation about the poem could have taken place in my living room with my Mark who is wonderful but exasperatingly practical and because she was able to convey that beautifully. Good writing!

Next is Rasslin' Republicans' post (blogspotted, so Ctrl+F "constitutional amendment") on the much-discussed Constitutional Amendment to protect marriage because he makes some valid points in an unusual way, and although he touches on conservative concerns reaches the conclusion that marriage is not a governmental matter. I'm more inclined to allow each state to decide rather than remove any legal status for marriage and/or civil unions altogether, but the federal govenment most definitely has no jurisdiction in this matter so a constitutional amendment is wrong for constitutional reasons.

Posted by Debbye at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

Norman Steinberg

Feb. 1 - The TV and sound system purchased by ethics commissioner Norman Steinberg has been moved from his office and relocated to a federal boardroom.

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

Super Bowl

Feb. 1 - Looks as though I'm the only person in the blogosphere who hasn't made a prediction for the Super Bowl, so here goes:

Pats will win 28-13.

Global TV will not show the same commercial over and over and over. They will show the same two commercials over and over and over . . .

The "surprise" guest during half-time will either be President Bush or Muhammed Ali.

If my predicted score is wrong and it looks to be a blow-out, I won't watch the 2nd half. Please let it be a game game!

I have laid no money on any of the above, which indicates how confident I am.

UPDATE: I was wrong on nearly every one of my predictions BUT I got my wish! It was indeed a game game.

Posted by Debbye at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

Steyn on Kerry

Feb. 1 - Steyn column up at the Chicago Sun-Times The Kerry biography: He's risen without trace in which he crunches some numbers:

But just to make it simple: The G-7 comprises the world's major industrial democracies. Aside from America, there are six other countries. Three -- the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan -- have troops in Iraq. Three -- France, Germany and Canada -- do not. So a majority of G-7 nations are members of this ''fraudulent coalition.'' Eleven of the 19 NATO members have contributed troops to the ''fraudulent coalition.'' Thirteen of the 25 members of the newly enlarged European Union have forces serving in the ''fraudulent coalition.''

So, when John Kerry pledges to rebuild America's international relationships, what he means is that he disagrees with the majority of G-7 governments, NATO governments, European governments and key regional players in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the people of Iraq.

On the other hand, Kerry's position has the support of a majority of the Arab League.

Considering that recent news from France has been continuing exposes of corruption and their intention to deal with growing anti-Semitism by outlawing thee wearing of conspicuous religious in schools, some of us are downright relieved the French aren't in the coalition and that relations between the two countries are strained.

Can we say X, Y, Z Affair? Of course we can, and we all know how that turned out.

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

More Intelligence Inquiries on WMD

Feb. 1 - Michael Howard, leader of the Conservative Party in the UK, demands that 'isolated' Blair calls inquiry into intelligence on WMD.

That's the reaction not only in the UK but in the USA as well, but is it so in France and the UN? As it appears that everyone was fooled and the fooling was furthered by relying on reports from those fooled, I'm not sure inquiries country by country will actually lead to answers in how we had all been so fooled about the existence of stockpiles of WMD (and please remember, Kay's testimony before the recent Sentate Intelligence Committee concerned stockpiles as Kay's earlier report on WMD programs before a House committee made clear that those had not been abandoned) by the regime.

The NY Times covered many of the questions by committee members and noted the partisan nature of those questions, but even the Times article did not refer to Sen. Clinton's question as to whether continued inspections by the UN team would have produced the same results as Kay's, to which he adamantly responded No, because the people Kay's team interviewed would not have volunteeered the information so long as Saddam was in power and able to intimidate them because of his known fondness for shredding.

In many ways, the intelligence lapses before the war might finally put to rest the attitude that the USA is omnipotent, an attitude Americans don't share but others irrationally believe. Disagree? Then explain why anyone would be astonished that an incomplete set of dots combined with Saddam's refusal to cooperate with the UN teams resulted in an inaccurate assessment.

It's not a simple matter of 2 + 2 = 4, it's more a matter of 2 + x = y, and intelligence experts are expected to accurately ascertain the values of both x and y. People like me get to say "there's not enough information" and beg off, but the intelligence agencies in the world can either a) contract out to Wolfram & Hart and ask their psychics for help (gratuitous Angel reference) or b) they can take their best guess based on past experience with Saddam and Iraq's known weapons programs and stockpiles at the time of the 1991 ceasefire agreement.

There are two dangers in such intelligence lapses, of course: that we may inaccurately assess a threat to be more than it is or less than it is. As more information emerges about North Korea's aborted missile sale to Saddam, Pakistan's role in selling nuclear weaponry expertise, how advanced Iran's nuclear weaponry program is, and Libya's involvement in a weapon's program that circumvented detection by UN inspections, there is also a question as to whether their belief that Saddam had such weapons was a factor in their pursuit of WMD programs which would also justify one of the reasons for war: that Saddam posed a threat to his neighbours.

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

Andrew Gilligan

Feb. 1 - Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who claimed the Blair government had "sexed up" the weapons's dossier, was facing disciplinary action prior to his resignation last Friday. BBC chiefs vent anger on 'devious' Gilligan saying that his assurances that his claims were correct and refusing to admit he had been speculating when the government first challenged his assertions led to Dr. David Kelly's death, the Hutton Inquiry and the crisis at the BBC.

Gilligan for months insisted to BBC executives that his reporting had been a fair and accurate account of what Dr Kelly told him during their fateful meeting in May 2003.

One said: "When Richard Sambrook [the head of news] investigated and saw that his notes of the meeting were inadequate, Gilligan said, 'You know what notes are ... they are only partial'. He then gave his word that all his reports were accurate."

BBC executives learned that was incorrect only when Gilligan appeared before the Hutton inquiry on September 17, 2003, and made an unambiguous apology for his infamous 6.07am Today broadcast on May 29, 2003. In this report, he accused the Government of inserting intelligence into the Iraq dossier which it "probably knew" to be wrong.

One executive said yesterday: "He should have been more forthcoming about the weaknesses in his story. He left that far too late. He was also wrong to 'out' David Kelly as a source for another report on weapons of mass destruction.

"The disciplinary procedure could have resulted in him being sacked. At the very least he would have been seriously reprimanded for his shortcomings."

Gilligan will not receive severance pay because he failed to give an undertaking not to discuss the corporation's affairs in public. He had a negotiated an agreement to sell his story to another publication prior to his last meeting BBC executives, and even announced his resignation through the Press Association rather than the BBC.

Short version: the BBC stuck its neck out for him, he continued lying to them, then betrayed them, and is now selling his story to the highest bidder.

A defiant Gilligan insisted that he could not be held responsible for the downfall of Mr Dyke. He told the Telegraph: "Ninety per cent of my original story was right. I have admitted that the 6.07 broadcast was a bad idea.

"No one has ever told me about disciplinary action. That is not the reason why I left the BBC. I had my own reasons for going and I wanted to go quickly.

"By Friday morning I could not see myself having a useful role at the BBC. I knew I had to go and the only question was whether I should resign with dignity or try clinging on. I did not want to stay and be regarded as the man who brought down Greg Dyke. Greg Dyke brought down Greg Dyke."

What a guy!

AP reports that the entire BBC board is considering quitting. They still fail to understand where they went wrong; it isn't about protecting whistleblowers, it's about fabricating a statement from someone who was not a whistleblower. It's about the lying and the assumption that they are entitled to lie. Astonishing.

UPDATE: Jay analyzes the accusation of Hutton Whitewash:

In a sense this argument is really about whether or not it is possible to come up with facts of the matter when ideas like truth are seen as the products of given agendas.

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

Council of Guardians bans candidates

Feb. 1 - Iran's Council of Guardians has refused to allow thousands of candidates to run in the national elections scheduled for late February. The reformists have accused them of trying to control the outcome and 117 lawmakers have resigned in protest from Parliament.

Each of those who resigned will address Parliament this week explaining why he resigned and Parliament will vote on whether to accept the resignations.

Some lawmakers have appealed to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene.

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