March 31, 2004


Mar. 31 - Schwarzenegger takes sexual harassment course.

Now men need to take courses to learn how to be sexually harassing?

Posted by Debbye at 11:37 PM | Comments (3)

Wahhabis arrested in Uzbekistan

Mar. 31 - The violence in Uzbekistan lessened today and several people arrested.

Police were scouring the capital Wednesday in pursuit of fugitive militants, and reportedly arrested at least 30. A police official said those in custody so far were adherents of the strict Wahhabi Islamic sect, which was believed to have inspired al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and not members of an extremist group President Islam Karimov has implied were behind the attacks.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is not considered to be a terrorist organization by the US., and its British office denies the group has been involved in the recent attacks.

Posted by Debbye at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

Sudan gov't says coup plot thwarted

Mar. 31 - The Sudanese government arrested Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi on charges that he was plotting to overthrow the President, Omar al-Bashir. According to the BBC report:

Those detained are also being linked to the uprising in the Darfur region. On Wednesday talks between the government and the Darfur rebels got under way.

Although the government delegation and a number of rebel representatives failed to appear at the opening ceremony in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, on Tuesday, the opposing sides are now involved in indirect talks.

Ten military officers and seven opposition leaders have also been detained.

Bakri Hassan Salih said state security discovered the group was planning "acts of subversion on a number of strategic and service establishments." "The group was planning to carry out its plot in the coming few days, as a pre-emptive move to abort the current peace process in the country," Salih said on state-run television.

Salih said the officers, led by a colonel, had been planning the coup since the middle of last year, assisted by the opposition Popular Congress, whose leader was arrested earlier Wednesday.

The fighting in the Darfur region has killed unknown numbers and forced inhabitants to flee.
Communications Minister El-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said Turabi was arrested because he had issued a provocative statement in which he had advocated "regionalism and tribalism."
Again from the BBC report,
The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) rebels say the government has been oppressing blacks in favour of Arabs.

The United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, said that government-backed Arab militias have been systematically raping and killing in Darfur.

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

Arrests in Toronto hate crimes

Mar. 31 - Three people, 18-year old Steven Vandermey and two 15-year olds, were arrested and charged last night on counts incurred by knocking over headstones in a Jewish cemetary and spray painting anti-Semitic graffiti on a mosque, school and homes.

Posted by Debbye at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)

Auditor-General's Report on Security II

Mar. 31 - The Canadian federal government spent 7.7 billion dollars to improve security after Sept. 11.

In a follow-up to this, more information has been published about the Auditor-General's report on the money was spent.

The results are dismal. They aren't necessarily worse than everywhere else, including the US, but the kinds of problems found are in the basics.

One problem found is that the Watch list is out of date and communications between departments to keep it up to date are faulty. It can take months to enter names.

Airport personnel are not properly screened, and about 20% of them had family or other links to organized crime (like the Hell's Angels. That's old news, yet remains uncorrected.)

Departments don't want to share information. And more, but it's depressing and familiar.

Andrew Coyne has a nice summation of the facts, links to the usual shocked and horrified pundits, and plenty of snark.

Apr. 1 - 18:22: The Auditor General's report is available here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:31 PM | Comments (1)

Iraq (Updates)

Mar. 31 - I'm not going to deny that this makes me angry.

But it doesn't make me lose my head and it sure as hell doesn't shake my resolve.

Don't they get it? Sure, there was a time when that kind of barbarity could horrify us and have us stand with our fists clenched in our mouths totally aghast at the dreadfulness of it all BUT NOT ANY MORE.

Something happened a few years back and we left la-la land.

We call people like those who participated in this recent event deadenders because we hunt them down, kill them, and bury them.

22:20: Mark Steyn's thoughts.

Apr. 1 - 12:07: 2nd CNN link added to last paragraph, and, again, note who ran (NGOs) and who stayed (Halliburton.) V-P Dick Cheney's old company keeps looking better and better; how fast do you think TotalFinaElf would have skedaddled?

13:20: Omar issues a firm response to this atrocity.

13:45: Ralph Peters looks at the causes and effects and closes with this:

We're learning. Future occupations elsewhere - and we shall see them, like it or not - will benefit from lessons learned in Iraq. Meanwhile, it's essential that Americans do not succumb to the media hype implying that the atrocities in Fallujah were a defeat. On the contrary, they underscored the frustration and exasperation of enemies who can only bring off small-scale bombings and assassinations.

Confident enemies do not drag bodies through the streets and mutilate corpses. The grim display in Fallujah was a symbol of weakness, not a sign of strength.

Mudville Gazette has a round up of Milblog reactions - must reads.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 PM | Comments (7)

War on Terror vs. Victimhood (Updated)

Mar. 31 - The Mar. 29 (Monday) arrest in Ottawa of 24-year old Mohammad Momin Khawaja, a software developer who works on contract with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, makes for a very interesting supposition:

Mohammad Momin Khawaja, 24, is charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act with participating in the activity of a terrorist group and facilitating a terrorist activity.

According to an RCMP news release some of the activity may have taken place in London, England.

An insert on the CBC page details the charges:
That Mr. Khawaja did:

1) On or between November 10, 2003 and March 29, 2004, at or near the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario and at or near the City of London, England, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, an activity of a terrorist group, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, as defined in section 83.01(1) of the Criminal Code, thus committing an indictable offence, contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code.

2) On or between November 10, 2003 and March 29, 2004, at or near the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario and at or near the City of London, England, did knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity, as defined in section 83.01 (1) of the Criminal Code, thus committing an indictable offence, contrary to section 83.19 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Khawaja appeared in court today at 1:30 p.m. in Ottawa at which time he was remanded in custody until Friday, April 2, 2004 at 1:30 p.m. A publication ban on the proceedings was granted by the court.

The speculation is inevitable: were the near-simultaneous raids in Canada and England conducted as a result of coordinated and cooperative investigations?

Robert at Expat Yank continues coverage of the Tuesday arrests of 8 British citizens in southeast England, raids on 24 locations, and the seizure of half a ton of ammonium nitrate here noting that the response of the Muslim Council of Britain was first initiated following the train bombings in Madrid.

A portion of the MCB letter, which was redrafted after the arrests, urges British Muslims to remember that they too must do what they can to stop terror attacks:

The letter asks for the "utmost vigilance" to help "safeguard" the UK.

Sermons will be delivered on Friday saying terrorism has no place in Islam, while booklets being printed will remind Muslims of their obligation to help safeguard Britain's security.

"A terrorist attack will not discriminate between Muslims and Christians", Mr Bunglawala said.

"As British citizens, we have a right to help the safeguarding of this country by co-operating with police."

However he also urged caution because a number of "high-profile arrests in the past of Muslims" had led to no charges or convictions.

The laudable stand taken by the MCB is somewhat diminished though by the BBC report that says that the letter was drawn up as part of the council's long-term plan to combat "Islamophobia". I liked it better when I thought it was drawn up to combat terrorism (although the BBC may be putting their own spin on it.)

Or not: an MCB campaigner said the press coverage of the arrests was unfair:

Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain picked out one headline which described the police operation as: "Islamic bomb attack foiled".

"First of all we don't know whether it was a bomb attack," he told BBC Breakfast.

"And secondly, to describe it as Islamic is offensive to ordinary Muslims."

Robert notes on the first
But, he's right, technically, one supposes. After all, the chemical hadn't been turned into an explosive as of their arrests.

Actually, that's profound: Is an unexploded explosive actually an explosive?

and on the second
However, it is an unfortunate and undeniable fact of life that all Islamist terrorists are indeed Muslims. They blow up themselves and/or others in the name of Islam. If that is a problem for most Muslims, then one would think most Muslims would want to begin to deal with it.
It might seem that we are still are square one: as Dr. Daniel Pipes noted some time ago, the solution to Muslim radicals is Muslim moderates. Yet public statements by Inayat Bunglawala notwithstanding, there have been quieter (and less publicized) actions by Muslim citizens in places like Cleveland, and the recent elections in Malaysia resulted in a complete rejection of fundamentalist Islamists.

Yet the media by and large remains focused on one theme: Muslims are victims - not of radical Islamists in Muslim countries (which they are) but of Western nations who take action to stop terror attacks by arresting suspected terrorists before they strike.

A BBC website report about arrests made under Britain's Terrorism Act of 2000 is headlined Whatever became of Britain's 500 'terrorist suspects which does eventually refute accusations of racial profiling:

Of the 529 arrested, 77 people have been charged under the Terrorism Act. Only seven have been convicted. Baghdad Meziane and Brahim Benmerzouga were found guilty in April this year of raising funds for terrorism and were each jailed for 11 years. Last year two men were jailed for belonging to a banned network, the International Sikh Youth Federation.

In June this year, three men were convicted under the act of belonging to another banned group, the Red Hand Commandos, linked to the Irish UVF.

Note that the Red Hand Commandos is a banned group, not a terrorist group.

And then this:

Critics say the sweeping powers granted by the law, which lower the normal standards of reasonable suspicion, have been used to target Muslims in particular.

Community groups describe this as "racial profiling", for example considering somebody suspicious because of their style of dress.

But the law has been applied more widely. The trial of three men charged under the act with possessing guns and bomb-making devices to further the aims of the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Freedom Fighters, is due to start soon.

Yet to some, the fact that so many have been arrested then released without charge is evidence of a "fishing expedition" by the police.

I don't know British law so I don't know exactly what "arrested then released without charge" means, but can someone be arrested without charges being laid under British law? Is this the equivalent of "taken into custody for questioning" which, under Canadian and US laws, is not the same as being arrested?

If indeed the "fishing expedition" is to conduct an interrogation, then it isn't that different from the steps taken in any criminal investigation. I tend to doubt that the British police and anti-terror divisions have sufficient personnel to question everyone in Britain because of the apparel and that other evidence is necessary before someone is picked up.

But the MCB letter is also somewhat after the fact given this:

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the raids followed the infiltration of alleged extremist Islamist groups.

He said sources had told him the alleged targets of any bombing were not military or government-related but members of the public.

Infiltration likely means that British Muslims infiltrated and were instrumental in gathering the evidence that led to the arrests and ammonium nitrate seizure.

Algerian journalist Mohamed Sifaoui has lost family and friends in terror attacks. He therefore posed as a terrorist sympathizer and then wrote a book, Inside al Qaeda, which states uncategorically that Britain is the biggest safe haven for hard-core fundamentalists. He also denounces the foolish romanticising of terrorists and the failure to comprehend that they primarily murder Muslims.

And last September, Mohammed Nasim, chairman of the moderate Central Mosque in Birmingham, accused the British authorities of letting British Muslims down by not taking stronger action against radical Islamists in Britain.

Early reports on the arrests of the Lackawana Seven (more here) said that some members of the Lackawanna Muslim community were concerned about the odd behaviour of some of the men so contacted the FBI. That tip led to the discovery of an al Qaeda cell.

There are several reasons to believe the early assertion (not the least being televised interviews with members of the Muslim community in Lackawanna immediately after the arrests) and of course the fact that the defendents pled guilty and thus the US government did not need to call witnesses during trial proceedings but I still find the failure of the media to credit American Muslims with the willingness to confront terrorists within their midst disheartening.

The CBC coverage of the Khawaji arrest has thus far been a repeat of their coverage of the Khadr family - interviews with family members who might not necessarily be objective and insist this has been a dreadful mistake and the police are storm troopers.

They are proving their enlightened state by sympathizing with the victim, and it is that assumption on their part - that anyone arrested for terrorist related activities must be a victim - which most clearly indicates their bias.

The BBC couldn't run the the same show on their side of the Atlantic because half a ton of unexploded explosives is a little hard to explain away, so they are forced to content themselves with portraying all British Muslims as victims who will suffer because 8 Muslims have been arrested.

It aggravates me because the CBC and BBC, in their desire to prove that they are enlightened beyond all other mortals, overlook the primary targets of Islamist terrorists: other Muslims.

We know that they don't mind killing other Muslims. Think of how many Muslims have died in the terror attacks in Istanbul, Riyadh, Mombasa, Casablanca, and Baghdad? Jakarta? Pakistan? Kashmir? Bombay?

After all, what does a word like apostate imply? Something a little stronger than "we'll have to agree to disagree."

We know that the ultimate aim of the Islamists is to purge the world of infidels and that includes Muslims who do not accept the narrow, constricted view of Islam made manifest by the Taliban.

We know this because they have told us this repeatedly through their videotapes, indeed through the very press agencies that would have us believe that Muslims are victimized by Western societies that allow them to practise religion freely and without state interference.

No thinking person should doubt that the vast majority of Muslims support the goals of the war on terror yet the media have done everything in their power to divide those of us who would fight.

We must strive to change this.

22:40: Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew says moderates must speak against acts out or Western countries will think they are the only ones fighting terrorism.

21:51: Canadian Mohammad Khawaja's father, Mahboob Khawaja, has been detained in Saudi Arabia according to his son, Qasim Khawaja. The Saudi government has not confirmed the detention.

Apr. 1 00:15: Silence the preachers of hate

Britain's most prominent Muslim leader last night demanded a crackdown on "rogue" Islamic preachers, blaming them for brainwashing young men with sermons promoting holy war against the West.

Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was backed by the families of some of the eight men arrested in Tuesday's anti-terrorism raids in south-east England.

Read the whole thing.

21:18: Rantburg has a good compilation and solid speculation as to the possible targets of the British cell.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)

March 30, 2004

Al Aqsa Threatens US diplomats

Mar. 30 - Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade issued a threat against US diplomats (Palestinian militants threaten U.S. diplomats) and then withdrew it.

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

Uzbekistan and the Phillippines

Mar. 30 - In Uzbekistan, 43 people have been killed in the past two days in terror-related events. The suicide attack in a market was shortly followed by series of attacks primarily against police and state authority targets in which 23 have been killed. The account of events is swift, and the article includes a time-line from the 1991 declaration of indepedence from the Soviet Union through to the present.

Apr. 1 - 21:48: This and this are excellent summaries of events.

In the Phillippines, four members of Abu Sayyaf were arrested and 80 lbs. of dynamite were seized and authorities believe the arrests prevented a planned attack on Manila of the same scale as the Madrid train bombs.

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

March 11 Update (s)

Mar. 30 - This Inside Europe: Iberian Notes post has some interesting information about one of the suspects in the March 11 train bombing in Spain and an earlier post here makes some pretty sharp comments about the implications of the attack having Moroccan connections.

And it was only three weeks ago, on March 13 and 14, that everyone was screaming that the government had lied and they wanted the facts. Well, here's the facts, Jack: this was an Al Qaeda hit, the Moroccan Combatents Group is an Al Qaeda franchise, and Al Qaeda would have hit Spain whether it had sent troops to Iraq or not.
And on the troop rotation out of Iraq
The exchange of the Spanish troops in Iraq for new soldiers began yesterday; 160 left Zaragoza last night. Aznar demanded that Zap and the PSOE put their consent in writing; Zap did so grudgingly. Zap can't oppose the rotation of troops because the army guys there deserve to go back home; they've done the spell they were told they were going to do and now they must come home. But he's going to look like a real moron when he pulls the new troops out just a week after they all got there.
Would it be out of line if I started referring to PM Zapatero as Zap? It would? Oh well.

Iberian Notes recommends (and I concur) this by Michael Ledeen, which connects al-Zarqawi to the Madrid bombing, Tehran, and points to a potential for a terrorist attack in Italy.

Apr 1 12:44: Tunisian Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet named as ringleader.

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

NATO alliance grows

Mar. 30 - Seven countries officially joined NATO yesterday and Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington marks the historic occasion in a memorable column.

The seven countries are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Estonia has a special significance for me. When I was young, we lived near a family that were from Estonia, and they were tireless in their efforts and faith to see Estonia become a free nation again.

I don't know if they are still alive, but I do know that they would be very proud to see their dream live.

Apr. 2 - 12:20: The flag raising ceremony at NATO headquarters marked the expansion of NATO to 26 countries, and increased measures and co-operation in fighting terrorism were announced.

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

Andy Bradsell, KIA in Iraq

Mar. 30 - Canadian Andy Bradsell, a security agent in Iraq, was killed in action on Sunday, March 28. Mr. Bradsell, a former British Royal Marine, died in the line of duty in northern Iraq:

"Andy was in the rear vehicle and they were escorting the client to the power plant," Larson said. "When they were close to the power plant three vehicles with armed men came along side."

Bradsell and his partner sped forward to put themselves between the gunmen and the client.

While they took the fire, the other vehicle sped ahead and managed to pull away safely, but Bradsell and his partner were killed.

Mr. Bradsell was employed by Olive Security, a British security company.

Mr. Bradsell came from Vancouver, and leaves behind a wife and 3 children.

Our deepest respects and condolences to his family.

UPDATE: More information here (brief link life) which is also to linked from Madagascar News.

Apr. 5 - 09:01: The memorial service held on Apr. 2 invoked many images of Andy Bradsell, and he seems to have been an assertive, confident man who was unafraid to be true to himself.

One friend laughingly remembered Bradsell as he was in high school, all tattoos, earrings and tough guy demeanour.

When the teenager's family had a litter of kittens to give away, he grilled prospective owners on the quality of home the animal would have.

It's tempting to compare Mr. Bradsell with other "human shields" except for one fact: unlike those who talked much and did nothing, Mr. Bradsell and his partner, Christopher McDonald, were truly human shields, who deliberately put themselves between the assasins and the convoy they were escorting. My oldest remarked "They knew they could die."

That is the definition of hero.

Apr. 21 16:07 Andy Bradsell has taken his place on the honour roll of The Fallen.

May 11 June sent me this photo of Andy and family to post:

Andy Bradsell.jpg

and this picture of Hunter:

Hunter big eyes.jpg

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 PM | Comments (82)

Greg Sorbara, Ont. Min. of Finance

Mar. 30 - Another chapter in the Greg Sorbara and his not-conflict-of-interest story: Sorbara loses TSE role:

Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara was quietly stripped of his responsibility to oversee the Toronto Stock Exchange after it was publicly tied to an investigation of the company he recently directed. Premier Dalton McGuinty also pulled Sorbara's role as overseer of the Toronto Futures Act that same day, March 4, after news broke that the TSE had advised Royal Group Technologies in December that it did not have to admit publicly it was under investigation.

The rest of the article is background, quotes from Opposition critics, this and that, and this:

Sorbara and McGuinty said the removal of TSE and the Futures Exchange from his ministry was a matter of housekeeping that was done a week after responsibility for the Securities Commission was handed over to Management Board Chairman Gerry Phillips.

Posted by Debbye at 06:00 PM | Comments (7)

Canada vs. Denmark (Update)

Mar. 30 - Cooler heads are trying to prevail: Danes summon envoy over Arctic fight:

Canada's top remaining diplomat in Denmark was called before the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday to discuss the disputed territory of Hans Island, a barren rock in the high Arctic.
The Danes have said they will take exception if Canadian soldiers step ashore at Hans Island.

If it comes to war, the proud but cash-strapped Canadian military will come up against the better armed Danish army and navy and, if the Danes get really nasty, them.

(Post link via Jack's Newswatch, second link from Tuning Spork.)

Apr. 1 11:37: There is no dispute, there is no crisis according to a spokesman for the Danish Navy. Cuts to Canada's military means that there is no spokesman available for a response from the Canadian Navy.

Posted by Debbye at 05:06 PM | Comments (6)

Auditor-General's Report on Security

Mar. 30 - Auditor finds major gaps in security. Really? Let's see:

The auditor general said, for example, border guards should know more about missing passports.

About 25,000 passports are lost or stolen each year, and front-line officers have no access to information about them, the report says.

The report said "watch lists" immigration officers use to screen applicants are inaccurate and poorly updated.

And federal agencies don't share information effectively which causes a number of concerns.

This all sounds hauntingly familiar. Very haunting and very familiar.

How bad is it?

For one, Transport Canada can't fully access the RCMP's criminal intelligence when screening airport workers. Because of that, the auditor general found 4,500 people with access to restricted areas at five major airports have criminal associations worth investigating.
The Auditor-General has access to the criminal intelligence files from the RCMP but Transport Canada doesn't. Huh?

There is good news: a number of departments have been consolidated into under the Public Safety ministry.

There is also bad news: Anne McLellan (the former health minister who tried to kill us during the SARS outbreak) heads the Public Safety Ministry.

Posted by Debbye at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

More hate crimes in Toronto?

Mar. 30 - This is very strange: Swastikas at blast site:

Swastikas were found spray-painted in the fire-gutted office of a company owned by a Muslim businessman in a Woodbridge industrial strip mall. Police suspect an arsonist was responsible for an explosion at 11 p.m. on Sunday inside one of 19 units at 910 Rowntree Dairy Rd. -- southeast of Hwy. 7 and Pine Valley Dr. -- that blew out windows and doors at the front and rear of Central Pallet.

Once the fire, which caused $200,000 damage, was doused and the dust had settled, two large swastikas spray-painted in black paint were visible on walls in the front offices.

"It appears to be a fire and an explosion. But what came first, we don't know yet," York Regional Police Det. Russ Lauria said yesterday.

Police aren't sure if the blast and fire are related to the recent string of hate crimes in York Region and other parts of the GTA.


Until they can determine if there is a "correlation" between the graffiti and the blast, police are treating the incident as a case of possible arson.

"I don't know what to think of this," said a distraught and confused Peter Ally, 30, whose company builds and repairs wooden pallets used to transfer cargo.

The married father of two ran his business in the mall for just over a year. He is Muslim, not Jewish.

"Everything I own was in there," Ally said. "I don't know why someone would want to do this to me."

Posted by Debbye at 04:32 PM | Comments (2)

Anti-terrorist raid in London

Mar. 30 - Robert is keeping abreast of developments in the raid that netted half a ton of ammonium nitrate in London, England here. He'll be updating as more information comes out, so keep checking. (Time zones - I guess it's 10 p.m. there?)

He's also following the raid in Ottawa and notes:

When they are arresting people even in Canada, you have to suspect that "things" are really "going on."
CBC Newsworld is responding as we'd expect: they've described the chemicals seized in the UK as "a large amount" - and interviewed one of those questioned in Ottawa who said the RCMP had machine guns when they approached the house. Machine guns? On second thought, I'll let that one pass.

The CBC link for the Ottawa raid is here. It provides little information but makes it up for that with lots of nuanced information.

Posted by Debbye at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian Justice (Updated)

Mar. 30 - What's wrong with this picture? The city is undergoing its ritualistic mea culpas over the death of Cecilia Zhang and a monster is sentenced:

A former Kingston escort-agency operator admitted he once pimped his own wife and stepdaughter, and molested children aged four to 17 years old. "These were young males of tender and impressionable years," said Mr. Justice Arthur Gans in sentencing Shawn Bansfield, 47, to the equivalent of eight years and four months for three sexual-abuse offences and keeping a common bawdy house charges.

"You better govern yourself accordingly or you'll spend the rest of your living days in (prison)," Gans said.

Bansfield, who has 49 previous criminal convictions and four prior sexual offences, had never been sentenced to more than a year in jail, said Crown attorney Mary Humphrey.

Bansfield spent 38 months in jail awaiting trial and was given six years and four months credit.

He was given two years less a day on top of that and also sentenced to three years probation.

"If not incorrigible, he's a sociopath and remains a present danger," Gans said.

He then warned Bansfield he faced much longer sentences if he didn't curb his criminal lifestyle. (My bolding.)

Because this time we mean it!

17:50: It gets better and better. Today's editorial in the Toronto Sun posed the question How did we fail Cecilia? and some of today's stories are there answers. The first one is especially rant-worthy.

Posted by Debbye at 03:38 PM | Comments (3)

A Failure Policy that Succeeds

Mar. 30 - Good op-ed piece by educator Marlene Heath in the NY Times about the success of holding students back until they have achieved the aims of each grade (you know, like being able to read) and how holding them back to get the basics allows them to succeed as they continue their education. (A Failure Policy That Succeeds.)

CHICAGO — I'll never forget the little girl who sat with a book, ran her fingers across the words, turned the pages and pretended to be reading. She was in one of my first fourth-grade classes at the Beethoven Elementary School on the South Side and we quickly discovered she couldn't recognize the simplest of words, like "in," "it" and "the."

That was in 1990, when we thought holding a child back a grade would hurt his or her self-esteem. So while my pupil was noticeably behind her peers in reading, she and others like her were pushed through each grade anyway, often struggling so much that, hopeless, they dropped out of school at the first chance.

So it's official: advancing the kids and putting at a further disadvantage relative to the other students made them feel worse about themselves, not better.

(No, I'm not taking a shot at the author, just at the faulty mindset that afflicts the idiots who run our school boards.)

In 1995, Mayor Richard M. Daley began the process of ending this practice, known as social promotion, much to the skepticism of teachers in the Chicago public school system — including me. We decided we'd take a wait-and-see position and let the new policy run its course until we could go back to the old way of doing things. Surprisingly, the results converted even the most obstinate among us.

Now, the decision by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City to end social promotion is being met with the same doubt that many of us in Chicago first expressed almost a decade ago. But as the debate continues, the figures in Chicago speak for themselves:

Only 26 percent of our elementary students were able to meet national norms on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in reading in 1995. That number is now 41 percent. At Beethoven alone, reading comprehension jumped to 46 percent last year from 22 percent in 1997.

About 48 percent of Chicago public school students tested in the lowest quarter nationally before social promotion ended. Now that number is half of what it was. The high school drop-out rate, which was nearly 17 percent in 1995, is now at 13 percent, while the graduation rate has steadily climbed.

But the students who have come through my classrooms over the last 14 years offer the most convincing evidence that retention is one of the best things we can do for a child who needs that extra year to develop literacy skills. I began teaching sixth graders in 1992, and shortly after social promotion ended, I began to see students who were much better prepared. This new caliber of students allowed me to do what I should have been able to do all along — teach sixth-grade-level work to all my students. That hadn't been possible with the two or three nonreaders who had passed each year through my class before.


Posted by Debbye at 03:22 PM | Comments (2)

Home of the Green Baron

Mar. 30 - A welcome new addition to the They Who Serve blogroll: Thomas, Home of the Green Baron, is posted in Korea.

Thomas tells a bit about himself and please note his Canadian Connection and cat named Attila!

Posted by Debbye at 03:04 PM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2004

When Mountain Lions Attack

Mar. 29 - Murdoc tells us How to escape from a mountain lion.

He's also got the latest on military vehicle equipment and he is talking ammunition with Airborne Combat Engineer.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (3)

American Girl With Pride

Mar. 29 - America, stand up and salute 14-year old Laura Elfman, the young American student living in Canada who was booed while carrying her country's flag in Montreal last week.

Some of us were pretty het up about that incident, but there was probably another feeling inside, one we didn't talk about, and Laura did exactly what we knew she'd do once we realized this was the second year this had happened to her yet she was carrying Old Glory again.

"Try it again, because you will feel better. It makes you feel strong," she said.


Laura, who doesn't follow politics, acknowledged that last year she ran off the stage in tears.

But contrary to news reports, this year: "I stood up for myself" and in no way left the stage crying, she said.

"I said, 'Hi, my name is Laura,' and when people were booing, I was talking over them (into the microphone), and I said, 'and I'm very, very proud to be holding the United States of America flag.' "

She said only a few students booed.

Read the whole article, and read between the lines. Wonder at the school administrations efforts to thwart us from hearing Laura's side of the story and the reporter's determination to learn the story from Laura, and as Laura and her schoolmates are minors, that wasn't easy and got her .

The initial report was incomplete. It was written without independent verification and was entirely based on statements by the school personnel.

They forgot she was an American, and they have no idea what that means.

The school wanted the incident behind it, and was also concerned Laura might get teased again, she said. When a reporter showed up at the school, she was kicked off the premises.

For Laura, it was another lesson in standing up for what she believes.

(Link via Neale News.)

"I wanted to say what I wanted to say. Everybody else had their part. Why don't they want to hear from the person who actually got booed?"

Yesterday, sporting her new sequined U.S.-flag running shoes, she sat down with a reporter.

She said she realizes most Canadians don't support what happened to her, and she has received some kind gestures of support, including a $25 gift certificate from a student in British Columbia.

Laura, you have rocked my world. God bless you.

Posted by Debbye at 06:02 PM | Comments (13)

Syria seeks Australia's help

Mar. 29 - Via Instapundit, Syria seeks Australian help to woo US:

SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US.

Secret talks between the two nations have been under way for months but have become more urgent as rogue nations reconsider their role in allowing terrorists to thrive, in light of the US determination to take pre-emptive military action.

Nothing says "change your ways" like having the US army as a neighbour.

Posted by Debbye at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

UN Oil for Food Scandal

Mar. 29 - More publications are taking a closer look at the corruption in the UN Oil for Food program (except the Canadian media. Right. Or maybe that should be Left.)

William Safire has another op-ed today on the UN Oil for Food Program and has maybe given the scandal a name: Follow-Up to Kofigate. I'm going to do something wrong and quote the entire column (curse you NYT and your 2-week link life):

Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal.

At least $5 billion in kickbacks went from corrupt contractors — mainly French and Russian — into the pockets of Saddam and his thugs. Some went to pay off his protectors in foreign governments and media, and we may soon see how much stuck to the fingers of U.N. bureaucrats as well.

Responding to a harangue in this space on March 17, the spokesman for Kofi Annan confirmed that the secretary general's soft-spoken son, Kojo, was on the payroll of Cotecna Inspections of Switzerland until December 1998. In that very month, the U.N. awarded Cotecna the contract to monitor and authenticate the goods shipped to Iraq.

Prices were inflated to allow for 10 percent kickbacks, and the goods were often shoddy and unusable. As the lax Cotecna made a lot of corporate friends, Iraqi children suffered from rotted food and diluted medicines.

The U.N. press agent also revealed that Benon Sevan, Annan's longtime right-hand man in charge of the flow of billions, was advised by U.N. lawyers that the names of companies receiving the contracts were "privileged commercial information, which could not be made public." Mr. Sevan had stonewalling help.

To shift responsibility for the see-no-evil oversight, the U.N. spokesman noted that "details of all contracts were made available to the governments of all 15 Security Council members." All the details, including the regular 10 percent kickback to the tune of $5 billion in illegal surcharges? We'll see.

To calm the belated uproar, Annan felt compelled to seek an "independent high-level inquiry," empowered by a Security Council resolution, as some of us called for.

Nothing doing, said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabličre. The money for the huge heist known as the Iraq-U.N. account passed exclusively through BNP Paribas. French companies led all the rest (what's French for "kickback"?), though Vladimir Putin's favorite Russian oligarchs insisted on sharing the wealth. That explains why Paris and Moscow were Saddam's main prewar defenders, and why their politicians and executives now want no inquiry they cannot control.

Nor are the White House and State Department so eager for a real investigation, because as the truth emerges, the U.N. may use the furor as cover for refusal to confer its blessing on the new Iraq. Our present and former U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. would have to take issue with Annan if he tried to hide under their wing. Peter Burleigh and Andrew Hillman, our frequent representatives on the "661 committee" — so named for a sanctions resolution — are not about to be the U.N.'s scapegoats.

If the secretary general appoints a Franco-Russian Whitewash Team, to whom can the world turn?

1. The Iraqi government-in-formation. Spurred by Kurds who have been blowing the whistle on this superscam for five years, free Iraq has hired accountants and lawyers to sift through captured bills and contracts in Baghdad. Former spooks are freelancing usefully. Paul Bremer, our man in Baghdad, has placed a trove of additional half-corrupted tapes and damaged and damaging documents under seal to be turned over after June 30, Sovereignty Day.

2. The House International Relations Committee's chairman, Henry Hyde, whose interviewers are in New York today, will hold initial hearings on April 21. Congress's investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, will testify about the scope of the chicanery that it estimates at $10 billion (including Saddam's clandestine oil smuggling to Syria and Jordan). It's a start that should awaken Senate Foreign Relations as well as Justice.

3. The press, stimulated by U.N. stonewalling, is on the trail.

Al Mada led the way. Already denying the feisty Iraq newspaper's findings are a former French interior minister, a pro-Saddam member of Britain's Parliament, Arab writers and a financier reportedly behind a Scott Ritter film. The Times, Wall Street Journal and Sunday Telegraph have been exposing the outline of what Newsday admits is "the most underreported story of the year." Among magazines, National Review is out front with no interest shown by The New Yorker and Newsweek.

All of us need an embittered whistleblower. If an ex-U.N. type named Shaukat Fareed reads this — call me.

Safire is overlooking an important point here: the call for a full inquiry is better coming from Iraq, which suffered because of it, than the US, which may have lost prestige and remains accused of continuing sanctions which harmed the people of Iraq but is still not the primary victim.

From Roger L. Simon is a link to an article in an Australian paper, The Age, Scandal bubbles to surface. The author, Roger Franklin, takes a deeper look at the Oil for Food program and emphasizes this point:

Again, the UN's stonewalling makes it hard to determine exactly how much was fleeced, but there are some tantalising hints. Before Oil for Food was handed over to Iraq, the UN conducted an urgent, last-minute review of thousands of contracts.

Rosett calls it a "house cleaning", but whatever description is used, some 1500 supplier contracts - one in four - were immediately suspended or banned outright from further participation.

So where did the money go? Into Saddam's pocket is a good guess, with lesser amounts creamed off by the operators of front companies, smugglers and, perhaps, even UN officials.

According to the best estimate of the non-partisan US Government Accounting Office, Oil for Food generated at least $10 billion for Saddam's family, and a further $1 billion to pay the 1000-plus UN bureaucrats who were supposed to be keeping it honest.

Again, the focus is on Kofi Annan, who helped set up Oil for Food in 1997 and installed his close friend and fellow diplomat Benon Sevan as its director. Last week, with Rosett's series igniting a firestorm over the UN, Mr Sevan was not answering his phone. According to a UN spokesman, he is using up accumulated leave before retiring.

For his part, a po-faced Mr Annan now concedes "it is highly possible there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing", and has authorised an internal investigation.

Neither Rosett nor congressional investigators hold much hope it will be more than a whitewash. The UN has other matters it would much prefer to talk about, like a $1.2 billion interest-free loan from Washington to renovate its decaying New York HQ. George Bush has rejected the request, saying the UN could have the money at the standard interest rate charged to American home buyers. (My emphasis)

This article also appears in New Zealand News (link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Niles Lathem in today's NY Post doesn't waste time with nuance in 3,000 U.N. Staffers Probed (no, not that kind of probe! Sheesh.):

Investigators probing the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program are taking a close look at allegations the scandal-plagued initiative was filled with spies, terrorists and do-nothing bureaucrats earning exorbitant salaries.
But new questions have surfaced about the presence on the oil-for-food program's administrative staff of a bureaucrat who was widely known to be an undercover agent for the intelligence service of France, a country that had huge financial interests in the program.

Kurdish officials in northern Iraq also made repeated complaints about the fact that Iraq, with U.N. approval, kept Americans, Britons and Scandinavians off the staff that administered the 13 percent of the oil-for-food proceeds earmarked for Kurdish provinces. Only workers from countries perceived to be friendly to Iraq were approved. Howard Ziad, the Kurdish representative to the United Nations, told The Post that Kurdish authorities made repeated complaints to U.N. higher-ups that the staff assigned to his region was riddled with spies working for Iraqi intelligence.

In July 2001, Kurdish security forces arrested a Tunisian U.N. employee with a car full of explosives meant for a terror bombing in Erbil. He was held for four months until the United Nations quietly negotiated his release, Ziad said.

Now the near-automatic oh come on, this is a silly accusation reflex meets a caution: The Kurds have been in the forefront of exposing this program since 1998. Do those who have discounted their claims for the last 5 years have the moral stomach to scoff at them again?

There are many who will point out that the United Nations is still the best vehicle for international cooperation and peace mechanism we have at present and must be maintained at any cost.

But as a wise (albeit fictional) being once said, some things can come at too high a price, and in this instance, a very high price is being paid to sustain a mere illusion, and I'm not simply referring to monetary expenditures but to the ignored hopes and aspirations of the world's oppressed and destitute. I have my doubts that the UN can be fixed, but according to the article Voting Bloc from Reason Online, there is a bi-partisan effort to form a caucus of democracies at the UN which could either force reform or even supersede the UN.

The interesting part is that this is actually getting approval from both branches of government which shape foreign policy: the executive and legislative:

Since 1996, a handful of foreign-policy wonks have been kicking around the idea of a "democracy caucus" at the U.N. Two administrations, first Bill Clinton's and then George W. Bush's, took quiet but significant steps in that direction. Now, according to Bush administration officials, the concept will be test-flown at the six-week meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights that began on Monday in Geneva.
On Capitol Hill, support is strong in both parties. In 2003 the House overwhelmingly passed a bill, still awaiting Senate action, requiring (among other things) that the U.S. seek a democracy caucus. "It's a very high priority for a number of us who want to push it through," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who is the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, and whose co-sponsor is House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif. In the Senate, Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on Foreign Relations, is sponsoring a similar resolution.

Two things strike me: it would be refreshing to have an international organization in which France, Russis and China didn't have veto power, and so far as I can determine, only two or possible three Mid-East countries would even qualify to join, those being Iraq and Israel and perhaps Turkey, although admission to the EU somewhat emphasizes the part of Turkey that is in Europe. Many African nations would have to stop pretending that they are the moral equality of functioning democracies.

And Canada - what indeed of Canada?

PM Paul Martin said at a recent Geneva conference that the The future of the U.N. lies with Canada, and the future of Canada lies with the U.N.. Kofi Annan was lauded by the same Liberal Party government which is now vainly trying to claim ignorance of the misdeeds we call Adscam.

Do Canadians who rely exclusively on Canadian media have any notion that the UN is at the center of a scandal of this magnitude? They are certainly aware that, ten years after the fact, the UN has finally figured out that they failed in Rwanda, but have Canadian sensibilities reached 2004? As a taxpayer in Canada I am furious that my tax dollars have been stolen, but the $100 million misdirected through Adscam is mere chicken feed compared to $11 billion unaccounted for by the UN and that scandal truly resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

The U.N. bureaucracy is just as culpable for what happened in Iraq as for what happened in Rwanda and for is happening in the Sudan. Will they require another ten years to work those out? Can the Sudanese afford to wait?

I want to know if PM Martin actually recognized exactly what he was saying when he proclaimed that Canada's future lay in the U.N.

Yep, Glenn Reynolds and Roger Simon are much faster than I.

But I'm still nastier: Anyone else wondering if Kofi Annan is one of the international leaders who has confided his hope that John Freakin' Kerry wins the presidency?

[N. B.: I'm aware of Reason Online's bias, but then I still read the NY Times and Washington Post too.]

20:59: WaPo link to their mild Oil for Food Program article fixed.

Posted by Debbye at 01:11 PM | Comments (6)

Andrew Coyne

Mar. 29 - What do you call a respected columnist who starts a blog and continually adds improvements like comment enhancements and then even enables music access through his site? Canadians Who Know call him Andrew Coyne and he makes some of us look like code inepts (probably because we are, but I digress.)

Of course his chief charm is his Snark.

All irreverence aside, Andrew Coyne is The Man when it comes to Adscam coverage, and that's in no small part due to his single-minded focus and ability to track events despite the bewildering speed with which this scandal and similar relevations of mis-spending have unfolded.

I've posted less on Adscam than I'd like due to my belief that al Qaeda is launching a counterattack committment to the war on terror and desire to see a full investigation into the Oil for Food scandal. That's my excuse, and it sounds much better than Brain Cell Overload.

Anyway it's Monday and there are ongoing investigations that actually mean something (as opposed to that other investigation going on to the south of here) so check Andrew Coyne each evening and the next time someone piously intones that Canada's future lies with the United Nations Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. Or kick them in the shins.

Posted by Debbye at 11:40 AM | Comments (6)

Spain to increase Afghan force

Mar. 29 - Incoming Spanish government to double Afghanistan contingent.

After the increase, the total Spanish force in Afghanistan will be 250.

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

Terror attack in Uzebekistan

Mar. 29 - Putting a bomb outside a large children's store is surely one definition of evil: Blast rips through Uzbek market in Tashkent, the capital city of Ukbek. It killed two and injured at least 20. It is suspected that a woman was a homicide bomber.

Uzbekistan became an ally of the USA in the build-up to the Afghanistan war and allowed air bases for our military. The country has a poor human rights record, and has suffered from terrorist attacked conducted by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which is said to be linked to al Qaeda.

CNN has the war on terror in death quotes in an article about death from terrorism. Nice.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (4)

Mark Steyn Reprise

Mar. 29 - Mark has reprinted some of his columns during the Iraq War and this latest is one of my favourites from the Mar. 27, 2003 National Post in his Topical Take.

He was writing on the media take of the war (for some weird reason he chose to watch CBC, which he likened to attending a White Russian tea party in 1917) and was commenting on the oh my god they're bogged down and some people have died and others been taken prisoner, it's like a war there frenzy that went on at CNN that must have been even sillier at CBC.

Steyn knocked me off my chair when I read this last year and Damn! It's still right on target:

... The best way to honour the dead is to press on to victory. Fleet Street has a diverse press from gung-ho right-wingers to unrepentant Stalinists. But it doesn’t have a lot of mushy ninnies for whom a run of bad luck is cause to question the entire strategy. There are times when there’s something to be said for stiff-upper-lipped public-school emotional repression, and war is one of them.

Then, at the weekend, it was the Pentagon’s turn for a run of bad luck, from a US Muslim soldier going postal on his comrades to the parading of American prisoners on Iraqi TV. And the big networks collectively decided that somehow they’d been misled about how “easy” it was supposed to be, and ever since have been convinced that the war plan’s a bust. General Franks has been transformed from the new MacArthur into the new MacArthur Park: someone left his cakewalk in the rain, we don’t think that he can take it ‘cause it took so long to bake it and he’ll never find that recipe again. Oh, no.

It's too bad the recent anti-war columnists didn't re-run their columns and dire predictions from the second week of the war.

Okay, Mark also has a new column, this one about Nader's candidacy:

AND, OF course, lurking in the Democrats' darkest nightmare is the spectre of November 2000: Nader angrily denies he's a spoiler, claiming that what he brings to the election are groups who wouldn't normally vote.

That's true. In a normal election, the Supreme Court wouldn't have wound up voting, but, thanks to Ralph's showing in Florida, they did.

Ba da boom.

Posted by Debbye at 04:39 AM | Comments (0)


Mar. 29 - (This really is the last post tonight. This morning. Whatever.)

Munuvia is this and this.

What is Munuvia? The Story of Munuvia is here.

And there was much rejoicing as we were freed from the bondage of Blogger and other undesirable habitats, and then there was a Fourth Sign.

20:10: And now The Fifth Sign

And thanks again, Pixy Misa.

Posted by Debbye at 03:17 AM | Comments (0)

Too late to post, too early for bed

Mar. 28 - [The title needs work] It's been awhile since I did a series of links to other sites, and I need a lift after the news about Cecilia Zhang, so here goes.

I never know what to expect at Ghost of a Flea, but he usually finds things of wonder.

Ever wondered what Earth looks like from Mars?

Compared the old and new Batmobiles yet?

I think the Danes are just getting even for the assignment of Adscam player Alfonso Gagliano as Ambassador to Denmark, but Flea suggest there's a Viking undertone. They might reclaim Newfoundland and Labrador next!

Colby Cosh suspects A Dangeld Strategy.

Mike Campbell is finally back and posting after recovering from a sports-related injury and weighs in on those Cheeky Danes and do scroll down to "Heaven on Earth" for the book review from a Churchillian.

Mar. 29 10:25 Peter Worthington publishes a reader's suggestion that Canadian sovereignty of Hans Island would be ensured if it had occupants. So far the names Adrienne Clarkson, her oh-so-intellectual consort, and Alfonso Gagliano have come up.

Oh, you're still wondering who is this Gagliano that might have given the Danes cause for resentment? This report from Spin Killer indicates why we dumped shipped honoured the Danes with his appointment as Ambassador. Spin Killer is a bit frustrated. You see, he reads the news and can't get the answer to a simple question Spiritual Leader...Terrorist...Media...PLEASE EXPLAIN

The media need to read Pixy Misa at Ambient Irony. He tells us why.

Go Kathy! relapsed catholic wipes up the floor with Antonia Zerbisias [Americans: think Maureen Dowd wanna-be, Australians: think Naomi Klein, oh, wait . . .] in the aptly named post She's fat AND stupid (with update, below). Seems Zerb senses there is a vast right-wing conspiracy behind CBC Watch. As Kathy scathingly points out,

"Considerable research resources"? You mean, like, they watch the CBC, comb the Newsworld site, and write about it? Like all dumb leftists, Zerb is so conspriacy minded, she actually thinks this guy and his pals are being paid to blog, by--who? The Conservative Party? The National Post (which is owned by Liberals)? Frankly, my money's on the Freemasons...
Zerbisias, a "noted" Canadian columnist (well, at least one who has mastered the fine art of death quotes) redefines investigatory journalism because she's evidently unaware of BBC Watch, ABC Watch in Australia and Media Research in the USA.

Clearly there is vital need for a Toronto Star watch, which is why I always read Let It Bleed most especially on Sunday, because all the wingnuts are paraded in the Star's opinion section on Sundays and Bob makes has thoughtfully provided a brief description of Antonia Zerbisias today:

Finally, we turn to cub reporter Antonia Zerbisias. Her column today is the usual piffle (something about media convergence, which is evidently a bad thing, so long as Starcorp isn't the acquiring party), but her column from a couple of days ago is the real winner. Entitled "Fog of war still hasn't lifted", you can probably guess where it's going: the same freakin' place she's always been. Bush is bad. Saddam was a great guy. Bush is mean. Why was he so mean to Saddam? Bill Maher is a martyr. Why was Bush so mean to Bill Maher? etc. etc.

Tony starts off with a quote from Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Note to Tony: beginning a column with an epigraph is generally a sign that what will follow is pretentious twaddle. Taking an epigraph from a book you've likely never read is even more pathetic.

See! MoDo, eh?Paul found a site that rates flags. And I thought I had too much time on my hands.

Bruce at Autonomous Source looks at the 1789 Rights of Man and Chirac's proposed additions. Looks to me as though Chirac is engaging in subtraction by addition.

While we're in government-think, Jaeger picks a Thomas Sowell quote for Quote of the Day and, do you suppose he was thinking of Chirac too? Jaeger also looks at the new scientific methodology of the bureaucrats in the Ministry of the Environment here in And then they came for the sawmill operators . . .

Gnotalex just made me give up camping.

Now it's late for bed. Good night!

Posted by Debbye at 01:43 AM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2004

The financing of terrorism

Mar. 28 - Ottawa links $35-million in cash transfers to terrorists:

Ottawa — Canada's anti-money laundering centre uncovered $35 million in suspected terrorist financing in the first nine months of the fiscal year, outstripping the tally for the entire previous year.

The amount reflects the total detected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre from April through December 2003, forming the basis of 29 case files passed to police or intelligence officials for further investigation.

The figures obtained by The Canadian Press are the latest indication that dangerous organizations continue to try to use Canada's financial institutions as conduits for bankrolling terrorist acts.

Fintrac, as the federal centre is known, identified 25 cases of suspected terrorist financing involving $22 million in all of fiscal 2002-03.I'm not sure from reading this articles that the transfer of funds was detected and stopped. There have long been rumours that the Tamil Tigers received a great deal of their financial support from Canada, for instance, and those holes had been plugged.

(Link via Neale News, which has teamed up with Tabloid News and will keep going after initial reports that it would be discontinued.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

Cecilia Zhang found

Mar. 28 - I don't want to post this. I guess I must because so many us in Canada have posted on Cecilia's disappearence, used Amber Alert scrolls on blogs in addition to the substantial number of Canadians and Americans using email to routinely send out her picture to keep the search for Cecilia active. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to note the final sad chapter. Missing Girl's Remains Found.

Cecilia's picture is literally all over Toronto - on every TTC bus and at every subway station, in stores, and on community bulletin boards.

The city never gave up hope.

Deepest and heartfelt condolences to her family. Cecilia would have been a mere 10 years old on Tuesday.

(Link via Neale News.)

Mar. 29 10:34: This is the link to articles about Cecilia. Rest in peace, child, and may your killer know no peace.

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 PM | Comments (3)

Rantisi doesn't like Pres. Bush

Mar. 28 - New Hamas leader: Bush is 'enemy of Muslims'

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- New Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi delivered a fiery speech at a memorial service Sunday for his slain predecessor, blasting Israel for its Palestinian policies and calling U.S. President Bush "an enemy of Muslims."

"Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam, an enemy of Muslims," Rantisi said at Gaza's Islamic University, where thousands had gathered to remember Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who -- along with seven others -- was killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike on Monday.

He said it came as no surprise that the United States -- which he said consistently sides with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government -- vetoed a United Nations' resolution condemning the killing of Yassin.

"America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon," Rantisi said. "The war of God continues against them and I can see the victory coming up from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas."

We're on Hamas' list, we're off, now we're on again. The only that matters is if Hamas is on our list.

I'm not trying to be flippant, but I think most Americans are already aware that groups like Hamas are terrorist organizations and, as we are at war, shedding illusions is a good rather than a bad thing.

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)

Arafat Next?

Mar. 28 - This Sunday Telegraph points to indicators that Yassar Arafat is harbouring known terrorists in his compound, may be next, and cites the US refusal to condemn the removal of Yassin as tacit permission: Israel to turn its sights on the terrorists surrounding Yasser Arafat. Read the whole thing.

The article also notes that Arafat has appealed to the United Nation to protect him.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)


Mar. 28 - Albanians posed as Serbs to stoke ethnic fires in Kosovo:

The murder of a United Nations policeman in Kosovo last week was committed by ethnic Albanians who posed as Serbs in an effort to cast their bitter rivals as villains, the Telegraph has learned.
And then there's this:
The violence flared when three Albanian children drowned after allegedly being chased into a river by Serbs. Unrest quickly spread and, according to one UN official, the "subsequent disturbances all over Kosovo, and their prolonged nature, point to widespread orchestration".

Doubts have also been cast over how the children came to drown as suspicions grew that the blame had been wrongly placed on Serbs. Allegations that they were involved were made by a fourth child who survived, yet during the violence a spokesman for the UN mission, Derek Chapple, said that police had no conclusive evidence. Last Wednesday, Mr Chapple was "moved to other duties" on the orders of senior UN mission officials, who are believed to think he had been too frank.

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

Al Qaeda planned on attacking Heathrow

Mar. 28 - Remember the BA flights to Saudi Arabia that were cancelled in early winter? Maybe this is why: Al-Qaeda planned London attack.

Al Qaeda operatives in the UK were supposed to organize a strike on Heathrow Airport shortly after Sept. 11, according to a British newspaper that claims to have seen transcripts of the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (everyone's favourite poster boy for undershirts) but, according to him, it didn't happen because he was sloppy:

Mohammed, 37, who was seized in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in March last year, stated that he met bin Laden in the Afghan capital Kabul several days after the September 11 attacks.

"It was at this time we discussed the Heathrow operation," he was quoted as saying in the transcript.

"Osama declared (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair our principal enemy and London our target," he said.

The Sunday Times said Mohammed arranged for operatives to be sent from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the British capital where they began surveillance of Heathrow and surrounding areas. But the operation never got beyond the planning stages, he reportedly told his interrogators.

"There was a lot of confusion," he said. "I would say that my performance at that time was sloppy."

Or maybe arrogant and smug? As in mere mortals?

As we continue to probe our weaknesses and failures, never forget that the enemy too is prone to weaknesses and failures.

Our biggest problem is facing the threat amid official recalcitrance:

David Blunkett has rebuked Sir John Stevens, Britain's most senior police officer, for warning that a terrorist attack on London was "inevitable" following the Madrid bombings.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Home Secretary made clear it was wrong for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to describe an attack on the capital as "inevitable" because the word would would make people "jumpy without good effect".

That strikes me as ironic given the current status of the Sept. 11 commission here. It seems you really can't make everyone happy.

UPDATE: I understand that some British media are depicting this as some kind of payback for PM Blair's support of the US after the attacks. Unbelievable.

Posted by Debbye at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

More hate crimes in Toronto

Mar. 28 - The following may not seem like a major red flag until you connect some dots: Cyber hatred!:

Police are investigating a rash of anti-Semitic e-mail around the Thornhill area which is adding to the "unprecedented" number of crimes against Jews in Toronto. The e-mails say, among other slurs, that Jews are spoiled, drugged-up, sex-obsessed sluts who deserve to have their teeth kicked in.

"We just learned about these. They are going to be a part of the investigation into the (recent) anti-Semitic graffiti," York region police Det. Andy Atkinson said yesterday.

They are still trying to pin the vandalism on young offenders, of course, citing that the vandalism occurred during the March break. But then there's this:

The e-mails started to be circulated in early March, about a week before vandals targeted 13 Jewish families along Beverley Glenn Dr., in Vaughan with anti-Semitic vandalism.
Nationally, anti-Semitic activity -- including violent acts against persons -- was up 27% in 2003, with 584 cases reported, said Anita Bromberg, human rights co-ordinator at B'Nai Brith Canada.

Of the 584 cases, 315 occurred in the GTA. (Emphasis added.)

The emails were generally a private issue in that they weren't initially reported to the police, but if the previously unreported emails are linked to the subsequent vandalism then we may be looking at an organized series of attacks on Toronto's Jewish community rather than acts inspired by other acts. Note that the emails were sent before Spring Break, before the anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom (which has been cited as the "root cause" although it's not clear why anyone would make that connection) and before the removal of Yassin.

What do you do when the facts don't fit the theory? Maybe the police need a new theory.

I don't have time to run a real google search this morning, but I recall a Michael Coren column in 2002 in which he cited an alarming increase in anti-Semitic crimes in that year and I suspect the figures for 2001, 2002 and 2003 will be more alarming than some may want to concede.

Posted by Debbye at 09:45 AM | Comments (1)

Mark Steyn

Mar. 28 - Mark Steyn's Telegraph column is up and he says, in reference to Clarke's testimony, that Bush has nothing to fear from this hilarious work of fiction. As contradictions go, those who place faith in Clarke's testimony (mainly because it is grounds for Bush-basing) are on shaky foundations when we look at the basis for the charge that Bush should've could've hit al Qaeda sooner in that the plan and operatives were ready before Bush took office. Who let them in, again?

And then there's this:

In October 2000, Clarke and Special Forces Colonel Mike Sheehan leave the White House after a meeting to discuss al-Qa'eda's attack on the USS Cole: "'What's it gonna take, Dick?' Sheehan demanded. 'Who the s*** do they think attacked the Cole, f****** Martians? The Pentagon brass won't let Delta go get bin Laden. Does al-Qa'eda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?'"

Apparently so. The attack, on the Cole, which killed 17 US sailors, was deemed by Clinton's Defence Secretary Bill Cohen as "not sufficiently provocative" to warrant a response. You'll have to do better than that, Osama! So he did. And now the same people who claim Bush had no right to be "pre-emptive" about Iraq insist he should have been about September 11.

But Clarke's testimony wasn't about a consistent policy, it was about him trying to absolve himself of responsibility, and his testimony (and book) are as much about fact as was Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, which is to say none.

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

March 27, 2004

Bomb in Thailand injures 30

Mar. 27 - Thai bomb blast injures at least 30. A bomb on a motorcycle exploded outside a bar on the Malaysian border. Two of the injured were in serious condition, and most of those injured were Malaysian tourists. The recent elections in Malaysia was a rejection of the Islamist party.

No one has taken responsibility for the blast and the police did not speculate on the motive, but there have been a number of terrorist attacks in the region killing nearly 50 people, mostly security personnel.

On Jan. 4, 4 soldiers were killed and hundreds of weapons stolen in a raid on an army armory. According to the AP correspondent,

Sungai Golok is a popular destination for male tourists from Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim. The town is known for prostitution and smuggling.

Since January, a wave of violence has wracked the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.


No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but the government blames them on Islamic separatists reviving a decades-old independence campaign for the region.

On Tuesday, a time bomb exploded near city hall in Narathiwat town, the provincial capital, as Thailand's Interior Minister Broken Bhalakula and Defense Minister Gen. Chetta Thanajaro were meeting with senior police officials there to discuss the violence in the south. At least one person was injured in the blast.

The police have made several arrests in connection with the January 4 raid, but their cases have not yet come to trial.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 PM | Comments (2)


Mar. 27 - I'm running late for work, but this item is one of the reasons I didn't want us going in to Haiti: Caribbean leaders won't recognize U.S.-backed Haitian government.

If the UN backs up US action in Haiti, it will be because that body is just a puppet, right?

Far better than we had let Aristide dither and dally as did former Liberian president Charles Taylor, right?

No. Win. Situation.

I'm late, so check out the blog roll and enjoy the excellent Toronto weather.

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

War on terror update - Israel, Spain and Canada

Mar. 27 - Hamas planed and attempted to execute an Attack from sea:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Armed Palestinians in wetsuits and flippers emerged from the Mediterranean and fired toward a beachfront Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip, the army said yesterday. Two attackers were killed, and a third was wounded and fled. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack on the Tel Katifa settlement in Gaza. Hamas has threatened to carry out attacks on Israelis to avenge the assassination of its founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

There was an incident in Bethlehem yesterday:

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian in a brief clash with about a dozen youths hurling stones near the Rachel's tomb holy site, according to hospital officials and witnesses.
And there was another attempt which was thwarted when the bomb exploded prematurely:
In the nearby [to Nablus] Balata refugee camp, a Palestinian militant was killed when a car he was driving exploded. Palestinian security officials said explosives in the car apparently blew up prematurely. The blast killed Ahmed al-Abed of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
Interesting news about the Mar. 11 bombing in Spain:
MADRID, Spain -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian linked to al-Qaida and suspected of heading a terrorist network in Iraq, is now believed to have been the brains behind the deadly Madrid railway attacks, a French investigator said yesterday. Investigator Jean-Charles Brisard said Spanish officials told him some suspects held in the March 11 attacks were in contact with al-Zarqawi as recently as a month or two before the bombings, which killed 190 people and wounded more than 1,800.

"They believe today he was the mastermind," Brisard, who is probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, said in a phone interview from Geneva.

The Spanish interior ministry declined to comment. "The investigation is at a critical stage," a ministry official said.

Brisard's comments came as the probe spread to Germany, a key staging ground for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

German police raided an apartment in Darmstadt, where a Moroccan suspect arrested on Wednesday in the Madrid train bombings stayed briefly last year. The 28-year-old man is suspected of membership in a foreign terrorist organization, a prosecutor said.

German officials said they had no evidence the Madrid attacks were planned or prepared in Germany.

A total of 19 people have been placed in custody in Spain.

Successes by the Canadian military in Afghanistan could result in terrorist attacks in Canada:

MONTREAL -- Raids by Canadian troops in Afghanistan could lead to retaliatory attacks at home, a top federal official said yesterday. "If our very brave soldiers are successful in having a major incursion against al-Qaida, we'll be back on a list (of targets)," Robert Wright, national security adviser to Prime Minister Paul Martin, told those attending a security conference.


He told a Senate committee last month Canada has received warnings about terror threats to planes. He refused to give details.

Wright noted Canada fell off al-Qaida's list of targets when the federal government decided not to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

But a suicide attack that killed Canadian Forces Cpl. Jamie Murphy in Kabul two months ago drove home the reality that Canadians aren't safe from terrorism. The attack followed a raid by Canadian troops in which suspected terrorists and alleged drug lords were captured.

Wright noted Canada has spent $8 billion on security since Sept. 11, 2001.

Posted by Debbye at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)

Michigan doesn't want Toronto garbags

Mar. 27 - Being picky at curb:

Garbage crews will be more picky about what they collect at the curb now that Michigan turned up the heat in its trash war with Toronto, a city works official warned yesterday. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm imposed restrictions designed to stop Toronto trash trucks from dumping tires, pop bottles and other beverage containers in her state.

Michigan's politicians and many other opponents object to their state being a dumping ground for Toronto's rubbish.

Geoff Rathbone, of the city's solid waste department, said collection crews will "absolutely" be more vigilant in leaving garbage that can be recycled at the curb.

Toronto sends 140 garbage trucks daily to the Carlton Farms Landfill in Michigan's Sumpter Township. With no dump of its own, the city ships 1.2 million tonnes of waste to Michigan each year.

As they aren't supposed to pick up items like tires to begin with, this should be raising more than an eyebrow.

Posted by Debbye at 09:47 AM | Comments (4)

More hate crimes in Toronto

Mar. 27 - Toronto's Jewish community aren't the only ones at the receiving end of hatred: Catholics are latest hate target and a Pickering Islamic Centre was torched Tuesday night. The Canadian Jewish Congress condemned the arson.

Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter says that hate crimes should be treated more seriously under young offender legislation and subject to tougher penalties because of the potential for tuning community against community.

I'm not sure what the last item is supposed to mean given that young offenders' legislation is a mere handslap. Does it now require two hand slaps instead of the one?

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

March 26, 2004

Rwanda Memorial Conference

Mar. 26 - What happens when UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister share sanctimony and a platform? Absolutely nothing (unless you count me getting a 3-aspirin headache.) The concept of "happens," which presupposes an ability to "act," doesn't exist in their dimension.

But there were a lot of sanctimonious words from both men over their dereliction of duty which led to the Rwanda genocide (At Rwanda Memorial, Annan Takes Blame for U.N.) but which (surprise!) stopped short of actually suggesting some corrective measures:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday opened a memorial conference on the 1994 Rwanda genocide by accepting institutional and personal blame for the slaughter of 800,000 civilians that was initially ignored by world leaders.

"The international community is guilty of sins of omission," said Annan, who was head of the United Nations peacekeeping agency at the time and had asked countries to provide troops.
Next time try to state what the mission was. Some of us still remembered Somalia.
"I believed at the time that I was doing my best. But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support," Annan said in a speech to open the "Memorial Conference on the Rwanda Genocide."

It was not the first time that the secretary-general had criticized the United Nations and his own mistakes, but he said the painful memory of Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s "has influenced much of my thinking, and many of my actions" as head of the world body.

Name a subsequent UN action that was influenced by events in Rwanda, just to humour me. Hint: answering a phone call from the next man assigned to a mission similar to that of Dallaire doesn't count. (Come to think of it, you didn't respond when two peackeepers in the Congro were in trouble, either.)
Canada, which has been a leading organizer of much of the U.N.'s self-examination
Is that another way of saying collective but still unproductive naval-gazing?
over Rwanda, said on Friday that the international community had not yet learned how to build structures capable of withstanding such brutality next time.
Because Iraq doesn't count. That genocide was being funded through the UN Oil-For-Food program.
"Or, to put it more starkly, we have learned what we need to do but I suggest, colleagues, we lack the political will
We? Who we? Not my we, although maybe your we.
to achieve the necessary agreement on how to put in place the type of measures
Predator. Hellfire. End of problem.
that will prevent a future Rwanda from ever happening again," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told the memorial conference.
As for Canada, events in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina startled the government into awareness that if Canada was to lead the world in peacekeeping efforts they would need to re-invest in their military after the deep spending cuts that had reduced Canada's once-proud military to sub-standard. /sarcasm

After all, Chretien's purchase of two executive jets from Bombardier came out of the defense budget, remember? /not sarcasm

And millions of dollars were skimmed by person or persons unknown at the DoD for fraudulent invoices from someone who no longer workds for H-P. /not sarcasm

Many thanks to reader Nik for the link.

UPDATE: Mar. 28 - 10:02: Dalliere recounts his anguish. Note this:

Dallaire, 57, has been widely lauded as a hero for his efforts to draw the UN's attention to what was about to happen in Rwanda in early 1994. He warned that unless more soldiers were sent and his orders changed to allow his troops to use force to prevent slayings, then a massive number of lives would be lost.

Instead, the UN cut its peacekeeping force from about 2,500 international soldiers to just 270. Dallaire and other military officers in Rwanda believe they could have prevented what happened if the United Nations had beefed up its peacekeeping force to 5,000 troops. (Emphasis added)

One might say the UN cut and ran when the going got tough.

UPDATE: Mar. 29 - 01:03: Good article from the Economist Rwanda, Remembered.

Posted by Debbye at 05:06 PM | Comments (12)

Hamas, Gaza and Elections

Mar. 26 - Interesting direction at the NY Times: two items that point at new elections in Gaza as the logical outcome to the withdrawal of Israeli troops although the second slips in an attempt to link elections to a halt on the construction of the wall.

The first suggests that Hamas would welcome elections (Sharon's Gaza Strategy: Good for Hamas, or Israel?):

Hamas sees a unilateral Israeli withdrawal as a political opportunity. In the weeks before he was killed in an Israeli missile strike on Monday, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, was in talks with other Palestinian factions over how to govern Gaza if the Israelis depart, according to officials of Hamas and Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction.

That is a landmark change for Hamas. A fundamentalist group that officially seeks Israel's destruction and rejects any negotiated end to the conflict, Hamas always refused a role within the governing Palestinian Authority, regarding it as a creature of the Oslo peace framework. Since Mr. Sharon is planning to leave Gaza without an agreement, Hamas now feels free to step in, its leaders said.

How much of a role the group wants to play in running Gaza in the near term is unclear. Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, one of its leaders in Gaza, said, "We are going to contest municipal elections."


Dr. Zahar said Hamas would not contest the Palestinian presidency, which is held by Mr. Arafat, until Israel withdrew from the West Bank as well.

Dr. Zahar, who referred to Fatah as "the left wing," bridled when it was suggested that Hamas was a radical group. "Radical?" he said. "We are not radical. Your concept of radical means extremist."

He added: "The radical system describes people who lived in the Middle Ages, who prevented science and propped up the church at the expense of the poor people. This does not apply in our life."

The second is a NYT op-ed by Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research:
If the withdrawal — whether by Israeli design or as an unintended consequence — led to the emergence of a Palestinian faction or entity in the Gaza Strip separate from the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian people would lose the unified voice they need on the world stage. Such a schism is possible given the weakened state of the Palestinian Authority. Harmed by Israeli retaliatory measures during the last three years and plagued by corruption, inefficiency and internal divisions, the authority has been speedily losing legitimacy at home and abroad. As we are already seeing, this has led to the rise of nationalist warlords and Islamist organizations, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, seeking to fill the vacuum left behind.

If the Israeli military also limits its withdrawal to Gaza and excludes the West Bank, as Mr. Sharon has indicated it might, that could further threaten the territorial integrity of the two geographically disconnected areas. This would only heighten divisions among Palestinians and encourage a greater role by the militant groups.

What can be done to prevent this? It is essential that the Bush administration propose ways to ease the potential negative consequences of the Israeli move. One of the most effective would be to hold Palestinian elections before the Israeli withdrawal, perhaps as early as September. The American-backed Middle East peace plan known as the road map already calls for such parliamentary elections. Linking the withdrawal to the road map — and the international support that comes with it — would only strengthen Israel's hand and serve the larger purpose of the peace process.

More important, holding elections would renew the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, providing it with the political will to project leadership at a time when its existence is at stake. With legitimacy comes the ability to lead and take risks. The authority's crackdown on Islamist militants in March 1996, for example, would not have happened had the authority's leadership not gained legitimacy two months earlier in the first Palestinian elections.

In addition, elections would provide Hamas and the nationalist warlords with the opportunity to translate their popularity into parliamentary seats. The integration of these forces into the political system would make it possible for the new government to enforce existing laws against vigilante violence and to collect illegal arms. Finally, elections could provide Palestinians with the means to find their way back to democracy and good governance. No single person, no matter how authoritarian, would again be able to concentrate so much power in his hands.

But he then ties this in with a call for Israel to cease construction of the wall:
Israel must also play a role. Elections would require Israelis to respect the Palestinian cease-fire by observing one of their own and by halting their incursions into Palestinian areas. During the election period they would also, among other things, need to declare a moratorium on the construction of their separation wall and end their occupation of Palestinian cities. If Israel is sincere in encouraging Palestinian democracy and seeking a credible peace partner, it should welcome elections as a way to get both.
So the construction of the wall and pull-out of Israeli forces from Gaza have provided impetus to holding new elections, so Israel should cease construction and not pull out as a sign of good faith. It always comes back that, doesn't it. Israel, who has negotiated in good faith, is expected to expose her citizens to danger as a sign of good faith, and the Palestinians, who have not negotiated in good faith, would harnass world opinion to pressure her to do so while offering no good faith in return. That anyone has the effrontery to make that demand on Israel is beyond audacious.

And of course the responsibility will be that of the US president. Why not the Arab League? or the EU? or some other sucker even-handed country? Canada, for one. Let PM Paul Martin put action to his numerous statements about Canada playing a leading world role.

There are two things to be noted. One is the automatic assumption that the PA is riddled with corruption. Was it only a year ago that such charges were met with hot denial and denounced as fabrications and attempts to destroy Arafat's credibility?

The other is the acceptance that elections should be held. That provision of the Road Map was also denounced as was any presumption that Arafat was not the democratically elected leader of the PA or that he lacked relevance.

If the wall has achieved anything, it has forced supporters of the Palestinians to scramble to find new positions. Now the PA, which wasn't corrupt before, needs to clean up its act ,and elections, which were deemed unnecessary only a short while before, must be held in order to present a credible front to the world and to provide Israel with an honest partner in peace.

Stephen den Beste disagrees with Wretchard that Israel wants to meet Hamas on the battlefield:

Israel doesn't want to meet Hamas on the battlefield. Israel wants Hamas to meet Islamic Jihad and Fatah on the battlefield.
I can't help wondering if the sudden interest in holding elections is also an attempt to stave off the civil war that everyone denies is erupting. Whether the Palestinians are "ready" for statehood is no longer relevant: they will have it regardless. I, as does anyone, hope fervently that the Palestinians can rally behind a leadership that offers hope instead of a death wish, but there comes a point when we must recognize that people are going to do what they are going to do and that further remonstrations and admonitions will fall on deaf ears.

Stephen also takes exception with many of the points in an Amir Taheri analysis of why Sharon had Yassin eliminated. I tend to think that Teheri is being unduly optimistic that the Arab world will actually intervene and act as peacekeepers, but these are times in which many unlikely things seem to be happening.

Taheri also cites that many of Hamas' funds have dried up, including the financial support once supplied by Saddam, and that Iran has lowered its payments to the families of suicide bombers. Coincidence? hardly.

Finally, what isn't in these articles is what I find most interesting: none of them call upon the UN to aid or assist in elections or even administer the area once Israel has withdrawn.

Posted by Debbye at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

Lileks and Jarvis

Mar. 26 - Read James Lileks. Now.

UPDATE: 09:42: And Jeff Jarvis, who states why Clarke's apology didn't rest well with him (and why the clapping of the observers didn't rest well with me):

This assumes that government absolutely could have stopped the attack -- and failed. Oh, I wish we could be guaranteed that government absolutely could stop these things but I've seen no proof or assurance of that.
He's practically treating government the way a fundamentalist treats God: an omnipotent being who could and would intervene and fix this if he wanted to. So he's turning government into a bad god -- is that thus a devil? -- who could have stopped these attacks but didn't; it failed.
Any suggestion that the government can do everything and anything perfectly has frightening implications because I reject the notion of any government that believes itself to be omnipotent. After all, if they are omnipotent then what does that make citizens who disagree with them? Heretics? Unpatriotic?

We can't have it both ways. Either Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act are evil, wicked entities that are setting us on the path to fascist repression or we admit that preserving our freedoms also means preserving our vulnerabilities.

I need a government that tries to do the best it can. I expect a government that knows it is run by humans and is thus fallible. I demand an electorate that accepts its responsibilities to keep an eye on the government, criticizes it when they think it errs, and makes corrections through the ballot box (and blogs.)

To repeat a theme I've stated before, did We, the People, make terrorism an issue in the 1996 and 2000 elections? (I should also like to point out that we did make terrorism an issue in the 2002 mid-term elections and did so somewhat in defiance of media expectations!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004

UN Oil for Food Scandal

Mar. 25 - Two articles by Niles Lathem in the New York Post. From yesterday, U.N. Stalling Iraq Gov't Probe of $ecret Oil Acct.:

March 24, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - U.N. bureaucrats are stonewalling requests from Iraq's new government for records from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food account set up in Saddam Hussein's handpicked French bank, officials said yesterday.

The mysterious activities over the handling of the U.N. account at the French banking giant BNP Paribas, where $100 billion worth of oil-for-food transactions flowed until the war, has emerged as a central focus of several investigations in the wake of the massive bribery-kickback scandal that has rocked the world body at its highest levels.

United Nations custody of the account was so secretive and unusual that even Saddam, who stole $10.1 billion from the program and bribed sympathetic pols with some of the proceeds, pressed unsuccessfully to have the account transferred out of the bank he originally insisted handle the program, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the British businessman advising Iraq's Governing Council on the issue.

"The key question in this investigation is, what was the relationship between the U.N. and this French bank?" Hankes-Drielsma added.

Link via Jack's Newswatch

And from today, U.N. Let Saddam Rob Us Blind: Kurds:

March 25, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The United Nations allowed Saddam Hussein to shortchange Iraqi Kurds out of billions of dollars from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food program, and funds for the oppressed population mysteriously vanished after the war, The Post has learned.

Howar Ziad, the Kurdish liaison to the United Nations, revealed in an interview new details about the extent of mismanagement and corruption within the $100 billion U.N. humanitarian program - portions of which were mandated to be spent in the semiautonomous Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq.

"We don't know what happened to the money," Ziad said. "We have been requesting for months a straightforward accounting of how the accounts operated and how they were managed. But we have not received a reply from the U.N."

Ziad accused U.N. bureaucrats of "political appeasement" of Saddam's greedy regime, and said they ignored longstanding complaints by the Kurds about corruption within the program that resulted in vital aid not reaching the people most in need.

(Link via Roger Simon.)

Bit by bit, it will come out.

Posted by Debbye at 08:47 PM | Comments (7)

Insurrection in Syria

Mar. 25 - Eventually the NY Times catches up with events: Gains by Kin in Iraq Inflame Kurds' Anger at Syria:

Kurdish Syrians, 2 million of Syria's 17 million people, say that watching rights for Kurds being enshrined in a new if temporary constitution next door in Iraq finally pushed them to take to the streets to demand greater recognition. In their wake is a toll of blackened government buildings, schools, grain silos and vehicles across a remote swath of the north.

"What happened did not come out of a void," says Bishar Ahmed, a 30-year-old Kurd whose cramped stationery shop sits right next to a cluster of blackened buildings in Malikiya. "The pressure has been building for nearly 50 years. They consider us foreigners; we have no rights as citizens."
The usual accusations that outside agitators funded by the US follows, and then this:
For their part, Kurdish residents claim the government responded to what they call peaceful protests with violence as an excuse to say Syria remains too unstable to introduce the kind of democratic reforms that are helping their brethren in Iraq.

"We want democracy like the others," said Hoshiar Abdelrahman, another young shopkeeper in Malikiya, 60 miles east of Qamishliye.

The question of minorities remains a highly sensitive, largely unspoken topic in Syria, particularly because one small group, the Alawites, dominates the government. "Unity" has been their rallying cry. Already edgy about the possibility Iraq will split on sectarian lines, Syrian officials see the Kurdish riots as another step in an attempt to partition all Arab states. (Emphasis added)

A fairly balanced article.

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


Mar. 25 - Getting results:

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, told Kosovo Albanians yesterday that intelligence officials had a 'Clear picture' of who led last week's violence.

"When we start arresting those responsible, do not clamour for their release," he was quoted as saying after talks with the province's president, Ibrahim Rugova; the prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, and other ethnic-Albanian leaders.

Nato nations have blamed Albanian extremists for the arson, rioting and expulsion of Serbs.

On Tuesday night a Ghanaian United Nations police officer and his Albanian partner were shot dead in their patrol vehicle outside the capital, Pristina.

(That's all the article says!)

Posted by Debbye at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

African Uranium

Mar. 25 - Remember when the Blair government said that Saddam was trying to get uranium from an African nation?

Look what the UN found: Illegal Uranium Mining in Congo, UN Wants Answers.

SHINKOLOBWE, Congo (Reuters) - A mine in Congo that provided uranium for the first atomic bombs is being illegally quarried and the potentially dangerous raw material exported without control, industry experts say. That rang alarm bells with the United Nations Thursday and the U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had asked the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for more information.

"If there is the possibility that large quantities of uranium are being mined and exported, it is disturbing," said a spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


"The uranium from Shinkolobwe is mostly uranium-238, and therefore not immediately fissionable," says Professor Fortunat Lumu, Atomic Energy General Officer at Congo's Ministry of Scientific Research in the capital Kinshasa.

"It could only be dangerous in the hands of those countries that have, or are trying to develop, expensive nuclear reactors and laser technologies that can process uranium-238 into highly radioactive materials," he said.

Shinkolobwe was once prospected by North Korea, which sent a team of engineers to the site in 1999, only to be thrown out after Washington put pressure on Congo's government.

Nowadays, local residents say, it is Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and South Korean smelter operators who are buying up the amalgamate compounds for smelting in Likasi -- an industrial town not far from Shinkolobwe -- or for direct export.

Thanks to Nik for sending me the link.

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

New Zawahiri Tape

Mar. 25 - A new taped message has surfaced (New tape said to be bin Laden's deputy) was aired by al Jazeera today.

Posted by Debbye at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Mar. 25 - There are a number of links to note:

The most important is the website for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The archives for prior hearings and commission findings are here; the latest full transcripts are from January, 2004, and the ones from March should soon be available.

However, the agenda, witness list and prepared statements from this week's session are available here (the statements are in .pdf format.)

Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld's remarks are also here at the DoD website in friendly, non-.pdf format.

Glenn Reynolds has a series of links including this batch on Richard Clarke and Condi Rice, one of which is from a Rice interview during the 2000 campaign which destroys Clarke's contention that she had never heard of al Qaeda before he briefed her.

That contention and its easy refutation tends to give more credence to assertions from the White House that Clarke was a disappointed appointment seeker.

More Instapundit links from yesterday in a later post here including this one to Eric of Classical Values who takes a close look at Clarke's Y2K work.

And again from Instapundit, another batch from today here.

(This topic will undoubtably come up again as the electoral campaigns gather momentum so I'm just preserving my links in one, handy-dandy place!)

Naturally, the Fox transcript of the 2002 Clarke brief must be included. Did anyone else fall over laughing when one of the commission members attacked Fox for pulling out the Clarke briefing from their archives? It was unfair, unfair to use an important part of the public record to discount the veracity of a witness's testimony!

One things that astonished me is how dumb uninformed some of the commission members are about military strategy. Don't they teach concepts like beachhead and overflight permission in schools anymore? Did they fail to grasp the significance of Sec. of State Powell's statements about the ongoing efforts that had been made to come to an agreement with Pakistan and Uzbekistan before Sept. 11? (and which also explains why we were able to mount a campaign into Afghanistan so quickly after the attack as well as provide indirect evidence that the Bush administration continued some of the strategy of the Clinton administration.)

Still think it's a bad idea to have a military man as Secretary of State?

The catalogue of human rights abuses of the Northern Alliance also gave a clearer explanation as to why the Clinton and Bush administrations didn't rush to make them allies sooner. (I seem to remember the Alliance protesting that they were included but not in charge of the interim council in Afghanistan which would tend to confirm the president's continuing committment to human rights in the countries we liberate.)

A last complaint: I really wish CNN would stop referring to the small group at the Commission hearings as The families of 9/11. Considering that over 3,000 people were killed that day, it seems disproportionte to the numbers of actual family members who lost loved ones and implies that those gathered at the hearings actually represent all the families.

Posted by Debbye at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

You are what you eat

Mar. 25 - This is somewhat worrisome:

UNITED NATIONS -- The brainpower of entire countries has diminished because of a shortage of the right vitamins, and slipping nutrients into people's food seems to be the only solution, a new UN survey says. To fight the problem, the United Nations is prescribing a whole pantry of artificially fortified foods: Soy sauce laced with zinc, "super salt" spiked with iron, cooking oil fortified with vitamin A.
Some things, like fluoride, have been slipped into our drinking water with beneficial results.

But to take a quasi-idiotarian stance, why would I trust the UN to not slip additives into food that make people more complacent and less likely to rebel? The UN does seem to interpret their charter as preserving the status quo even under dictators, however brutal that status quo may be.

They better not try to slip any tofu onto my pizza. Seriously.

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

Torontonians take a stand

Mar. 25 - Torontonians made it clear last night tht they view an attack on the Jewish community here as an 'Attack on all of us'.

Nearly 2,500 turned out for an anti-hate rally in North York at the at the Lipa Green building for Jewish services. The rally was attended by Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto Mayor David Miller and Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino.

Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman met with members of B'nai Brith Canada at the Ontario Legislature and likened anti-Semitism to a "vile disease."

The responses of public figures are important but fairly predictable. What isn't so predictable is the response of private citizens, in this case the owner of Goodbye Graffiti who has volunteered to clean up the hate messages for free.

Sometimes I feel as though the unofficial motto of this town is "Yeah, whatever," but Torontonians do have a sense of community and pride that was made evident in this latest series of hate crimes and the black-out last August.

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (3)

US Peewee Team Returns to Canada

Mar. 25 - A visit to Canada last year by the Brockton Boxers, a peewee hockey team from Massachusetts, turned into a series of ugly incidents. That visit had coincided with demonstrations against the US war in Iraq, but the treatment of the hockey players was all the more shocking because it was aimed at 12- to 13-years old kids.

Folks in New Brunwick decided to do something about it and invited the team to a tournament in Frderickton, giving them an all-out welcome and a Big 'hi'.

They will be in Frederickton for a two-day tournament and will be visited by hockey great Frank Mahovlich and even get to see the Stanley Cup, which is currently on display in the city.

It's so tempting to focus on the strident tone of remarks from the CBC, Toronto Star and the like where we see anti-Americanism and thus forget other things, like the Friends of America rallies held here last April and the incredible hospitality of Newfoundlaners who suddenly found themselves dealing with hundreds of stunned airline passengers on Sept. 11 who needed beds, food and kindness.

Thank you, Frederickton, for reminding me (and others) of this other side of Canadian-American relations, and to Mader Blog, who reported on the Yes to Liberty demonstration last Saturday.

UPDATE: 20:03: Longer story here

Posted by Debbye at 09:30 AM | Comments (2)

French-based bombers seek self-improvement

Mar. 25 - This is the follow-up story to the discovery of an explosive device on train tracks in France:

PARIS (AP) - A mysterious group that claimed to have planted bombs on the French railway network announced Thursday that it is suspending its terror threats while it improves its ability to carry them out.
C'mon, you knew it was wrong to burst out laughing, right?

Posted by Debbye at 08:47 AM | Comments (3)

Blair visits Khadaffi

Mar. 25 - British PM Blair made a historic visit to Libya to meet with Gadhafi in historic talks. This visit and one Tuesday by US Asst. Sec. of State William Burns are the first since the early 1980s and follows Libya's decision to disclose and dismantle their WMD program.

This visit has been somewhat controversial in the UK and made more so by the Conservative Party and UK Families Flight 103 campaign group.

Expat Yank Robert has some good insights and offers a common sense view the Opposition should read and study.

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

March 24, 2004

Pvt. Dwayne Turner

Mar. 24 - I had never heard of Pvt. Dwayne Turner until I read this. Now I don't think I'll ever forget him.

Honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 11:17 PM | Comments (6)

Precision Guided Humour

Mar. 24 - The Alliance of Free Blogs PGH assignment this week is What Would John Kerry Do in His First 100 Days in Office?

Day 1: His first act of president would be to set out his policies in his Inauguration Speech.

Day 2: He would add nuance to the policies enunciated in his Inauguration Speech.

Day 3: He would add colour and tone to the policies enunciated in his Inauguration Speech.

Day 4: He would reverse the policies enunicated in his Inauguration Speech.

Day 5: Now that no one (including him) had the slightest idea what the policies enunciated in his Inauguration Speech were, he would get down to business and send a non-hostile agreement with North Korea to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Day 6: He would reverse his position when the agreement was returned to him in an envelope in itty bitty pieces.

Day 7: He would appoint a Special White House advisor to tape the pieces together.

Day 8: He would send an envoy to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to explain that he had no intention of honouring the provisions of the agreement and ask them to review it again.

Day 9: The envoy would be returned in an envelope in itty bitty pieces. The words "Been There, Done That" would be barely descipherable on one of the pieces.

Day 10: He'd send a proposal to drop sanctions against Iran to the Foreign Relations Committee.

Day 11: See days 6-9 for the events of Day 11-14.

Day 15: He'd go to Disneyland.

Sorry, folks. Some of us just weren't born funny, but at least it's on time.

Posted by Debbye at 05:00 PM | Comments (1)

French Foreign Policy

Mar. 24 - Winds of Change takes a look at French foreign policy and their triangulation policies in the Mid-East and Africa in France - Pas Comme Les Autres.

The extent to which statism creates an ability to carry out whatever foreign policy the government chooses with little interest from the people is something I had never before considered.

UPDATE: 17:41: Ambient Irony links to some other pieces here and here.

And too, the discovery of a bomb on a French train track is suggestive, but was it an attempt at extortion or terrorism?

Posted by Debbye at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)

Nexus of Terrorism (cont.)

Mar. 24 - Army chief says Arafat may die too and Abdel Aziz Rantisi has been selected to replace Sheikh Ahmed Rassin.

The latter link to the story from AP continues the fine tradition of missing the point completely as they still shy away from recognizing that a civil war is brewing on the West Bank with the terrorist organizations parceling out territory much as criminal gangs mark out their turf.

Wretchard provides a much better analysis:

Israel's main problem was to escape the cycle of murder and negotiation that was slowly bleeding it to death. No matter how horribly Israel was attacked it was always expected to return, in an attitude of abjection, to the negotiating table... But the operation against Yassin reverses the dynamic. By striking at so senior a terrorist target, the Jihadis will be in no mood for negotiations. They themselves will cast away the Peace Process and sheer fury will make them forswear their favorite tactic, the faux hudna -- thereby granting Israel a meeting on the battlefield. For this is Israel's mortal challenge to Hamas which has often said it would kill the last Jew. The message, now ringing in their ears, is that the Jew will kill the last terrorist, beginning at the top. (My ellipses)
The alacrity with which seemingly spontaneous demonstrations and denunciations of Yassin's killing erupted in Iraq are somewhat suggestive of events in Kosovo, and I'm reminded again of the nexus of terrorism which I am beginning to see with more clarity.

I'm also relieved that NATO troops in Kosovo are actually going after the ringleaders of the recent violence. To bring back a slogan from the 60's, we need less talk and more action.

The linked story to CNN lists the attack on the Sheraton Hotel with events following Yassin's death probably because they were providing a round-up of Iraq events.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting coupling. Events on the West Bank could be used as a springboard to drive a wedge between Iraqis and the US administration there, as noted in this Time Magazine article.

Admittedly I could be overly watchful, but the recent upsurge of anti-Jewish hate crimes in Toronto is also suggestive. It's not that I'm saying there is a connection so much as I'm not willing to rule one out, and to re-state the point made in earlier posts on the subject, it's important to note that this upsurge happened before Yassin's death.

There is also the consideration of the inital threats Hamas made to retaliate against the US which have seemingly been withdrawn, although Wretchard again explores what that retraction may really mean as Rantisi attempts to consolidate power. I daresay things looks different from Gaza than they do from Syria -- one wants to avoid looking down the throats of US guns, and one already is. One wants to avoid insurrection and open civil war, and one is facing it.

There are also the looming implications of the Syrian Accountability Act passed recently by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. I'm calling it a shot across the bow, at least for now.

When I first heard the Hamas threat against the US, I have to admit that my initial thought was Bring It On. Not very diplomatic, to be sure, but I'm a private citizen and thus free to respond to threats with counter-threats. I wonder if the Hamas leadership recognizes how grim much of the American public has become since Sept. 11 and recognized that attacking us would really open the Gates of Hell as many of us are downright itching to do more to support Israel.

Israel has the front line of this battlefield for much too long, and I don't like seeing true allies standing alone. But then, I make a poor Machievellian.

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 AM | Comments (3)

Anti-Semitism in Toronto (cont.)

Mar. 24 - Another round of hate targeted Toronto's Jewish community yesterday. A war on hate is being conducted using more strong words and added police patrols as the weapons of choice.

After initial attempts to link the incidents to the anniversary of the Iraq War fell flat, I wonder if the fact that it is allowable for much of the media to spread hate for Israel will become a consideration.

Reza Safai, who was arrested while spray-painting hate messages near Bloor and Quebec Ave., has been released on bail and seems anxious to avoid media attention. Indeed, it is so unfair that a coward someone who chose to act in the dead of night and without witnesses is thrust under the spotlight.

There seems to be an upsurge in such crimes in France as well, although the surprise may be that such incidents are being publicized.

By happenstance, there will be the first commemoration of holocaust victims on Parliament Hill this April 18, a date which intentionally coincides with Yom Hashoah, a day designated in 1951 by Israel as the Day of the Holocaust and which marks the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943.

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

March 23, 2004

Anti-semitism in Toronto and an arrest

Mar. 23 - At least the latest incidents of ant-Semitism have been receiving press attention and, more importantly, there has been an arrest. Quote of the day:

Painter Rafael Gonzalez, who moved to Canada 14 years ago from Argentina, covered the hate message with green paint at a condo project near the suspect's home.

"This is stupid, absolutely stupid," Gonzalez said. "I don't like this kind of thing.

"Next they put (messages) against Spanish people, and then black people."

Exactly. Someone should hire him to speak for Toronto because he is a refreshing change from the pablum talk of it being unacceptable and not acceptable that we hear from our intrepid leaders.

It is unacceptable for a pitcher to fake a pick-off throw to first. It's wrong to spray-paint hate propaganda alongside city streets. Just so we have our terms clear here.

Angua knows which terms fit her feelings.

Posted by Debbye at 03:10 PM | Comments (9)

Sept. 11 hearings

Mar. 23 - I've been watching the hearings of the independent commission of Sept. 11 on CNN, and it is frustrating. Did the administration under FDR have to face a similar inquiry about lapses of failure after Pearl Habour? (That is strictly a rhetorical question, okay?)

There is so astounding a lack of common sense and humility in these proceedings that it begs the questions Are you more interested in winning this war or this election? In what way does what did or did not happen before Sept. 11 actually pertain to the post-Sept. 11 period?

Honestly, just when did The Blame Game become the second American pastime? That sort of nonsense is generally ignored when there's not much else going on, but is this really the time for self-indulgence? It's like bringing the self-therapy of the 70's into Congress. I'm Okay, You're Okay. I Knew, You Didn't. You Let Them In, You Let Them Stay. I Didn't Know, You Should Have Known.

Hell, why not go all the way back to the first El Al flight that was hijacked and do a complete self-criticism session from that point. I could actually get behind that. I could get behind a sober analysis of why we weren't more forceful about denouncing the terrorism going on in Israel and Ireland.

I dare them, I double dare them to ask Would the American people have supported going to war against Afghanistan before Sept. 11? because I guarantee the answer would be a resounding No. Hell, the left hurridly tried to put together an anti-war movement to agitate against military action against Afghanistan even after Sept. 11 and they only lacked the necessary time to build it, not the footsoldiers to attend the marches.

Had the US launched an invasion of Afghanistan without a Sept. 11, I might well have been one of those who marched in protest because I believed in the sacrosanct nature of national sovereignty and the mechanisms of the U.N.

I can't summon up outrage against the Clinton administration. I can't summon up outrage against the Bush administration. The somebody should have known mindset is all very well and good if you actually believe the technology in The X-Files is online and available to our government.

Maybe if one of the terrorist attacks thwarted during the Millennium celebrations been successful we'd have a different scenario today. Maybe. Maybe. That's the stuff of fiction, though, not policy.

We're not omnipotent. Is that so hard to get?

Another aspect (and I doubt it will be mentioned) is that after the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing we were far more concerned with domestic terrorists than foreign terrorists. When that second plane hit the North Tower, I knew it was the work of terrorists but until the third plane hit the Pentagon I was unsure if it was domestic or foreign. How many millions of Americans had the exact same thoughts that day?

Ooh, brainstorm! Why don't we just blame the terrorists for Sept. 11?

16:51: This is a brief summary of this morning's testimony by the former and current Sec. of State.

Mar. 24 12:55: Jeff Jarvis has the last word:

I saw people die that day not because of anything we didn't do but because of what a bunch of soulless murderers did do. Let's never forget that.
It's us against them, not us against us.

Posted by Debbye at 01:40 PM | Comments (7)

Elections in Malaysia

Mar. 23 - The election two days ago in Malaysia were a defeat for those who campaigned to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state and, by a 90% majority, a mandate for moderation.

There's a brief summary in yesterday's Toronto Sun.

Posted by Debbye at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

Dr. King Under God

Mar. 23 - Op-ed in the NY Times today about the Pledge of Allegiance case which will be argued before the Supreme Court tomorrow One Nation, Enriched by Biblical Wisdom. Using the book "A Stone of Hope" by David L. Chappell, Brooks explores the religious nature inherent in that movement as embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and draws an interesting conclusion:

Chappell argues that the civil rights movement was not a political movement with a religious element. It was a religious movement with a political element.

If you believe that the separation of church and state means that people should not bring their religious values into politics, then, if Chappell is right, you have to say goodbye to the civil rights movement. It would not have succeeded as a secular force.

But the more interesting phenomenon limned in Chappell's book is this: King had a more accurate view of political realities than his more secular liberal allies because he could draw on biblical wisdom about human nature. Religion didn't just make civil rights leaders stronger — it made them smarter.

Whether you believe in God or not, the Bible and commentaries on the Bible can be read as instructions about what human beings are like and how they are likely to behave. Moreover, this biblical wisdom is deeper and more accurate than the wisdom offered by the secular social sciences, which often treat human beings as soulless utility-maximizers, or as members of this or that demographic group or class.

Whether the topic is welfare, education, the regulation of biotechnology or even the war on terrorism, biblical wisdom may offer something that secular thinking does not — not pat answers, but a way to think about things.

For example, it's been painful to watch thoroughly secularized Europeans try to grapple with Al Qaeda. The bombers declare, "You want life, and we want death"— a (fanatical) religious statement par excellence. But thoroughly secularized listeners lack the mental equipment to even begin to understand that statement. They struggle desperately to convert Al Qaeda into a political phenomenon: the bombers must be expressing some grievance. This is the path to permanent bewilderment.

Indeed, how can people who lack a spiritual nature nourished by God truly comprehend the murderous nature of those who believe they are the divine instruments of Allah? How can people who have no beliefs understand that there are fanatics who are consumed by their beliefs?

Equally true is the fact that those who acknowledge their own spiritual natures are capable of recognizing the spiritual nature of others as it manifests in the others' religions. However much Americans are mocked because we have retained our religious sensibilities, the existence of those sensibilities enables us to truly respect Muslims rather than patronize them.

The legacy of Dr. King and that part of our American soul he occupies have been subject to manipulation by many people to further their own causes - not Dr. King's - yet it is hard not to wonder what Dr. King would say were he alive to witness Sept. 11.

I'm not going to stray there, but I do know that Dr. King recognized that there was evil in human hearts, that he was not afraid to judge those who would do evil, and that, although he advocated a path of non-violent resistance to fight Jim Crow on American soil, he knews that some fights - like WWII - had to be fought by means other than sit-ins and marches.

UPDATE: Jaeger at Trudeaupia expands on the theme. (Ctrl + F "Note to self")

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 AM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2004

Moving and Being Finished

Mar. 22 - A couple of moves have taken place:

Paul of All AgitProp, all the Time...Frozen in Monreal has a new address as does

Ith of Absinthe and Cookies (a little bit bitter and a little bit sweet).

Update those bookmarks

Posted by Debbye at 10:53 PM | Comments (3)

How to waste time

Mar. 22 -

Q: What do you do when a friend sends you an link to a deconstruction of a Frank J. classic?

A: You follow the link.

Q: What do you do when the post and links are so funny that you spend your time reading them instead of finishing the boring report you agreed to do for someone (like, for money) and now the clock is ticking louder and you're looking at spending the entire night working on the report?

A: You say "Thanks, Harvey!"

Posted by Debbye at 05:18 PM | Comments (4)

James Lileks

Mar. 22 - Lileks is angry today and when when he rolls, it's all to the good.

BUT the guy with the sign isn't (strictly speaking) a traitor. He's a lot of things including an idiot, a maroon, a 33rd degree moonbat, and a few more things but there are real traitors in the US and I don't want that word diluted to include the oh-so-very-clever nut fringe less we forget those who have actively collaborated with our enemies to destroy us.

UPDATE Mar. 23 - 01:07: Robert over at ExPat Yank argues for the need for a third term which can define someone like the nut in the photo.

Murdoc points that this sign is treasonous (and for the record, troops to Vietnam were deployed by air, not by sea.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:46 AM | Comments (11)

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

Mar. 22 - Top news of the day is the successful Israeli air strike that killed Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The CNN broadcast keeps referring to him as having been confined to a wheelchair, but are they really so forgetful as to not realize that most of us remember another man who was in a wheelchair ? When we captured Abu Abbas in Iraq, millions of Americans remembered Leon Klinghoffer (so much for American amnesia!) and, unlike Yassin, Mr. Klinghoffer didn't send others to carry out terrorist attacks designed to kill women, children and men.

This explains the justification for killing him far better than I can. (Link via a commenter at this Winds of War post.)

I see the PA has predictably denounced the killing. Had they lived up to the part of the "Road Map" that required them to stop terrorist attacks and arrested him themselves, Israel wouldn't have had to take him out.

UPDATE 23:01: Neither Paul nor Denise are exactly unhappy about this news. Burnside has done a terrific and comprehensive round-up of blogger reactions and collected the reactions by PM Martin and Min. of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham.

Mar. 23 - 14:36: And then there's the mandatory knock-knock joke!

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)

March 21, 2004

Title? Uh . . .

Mar. 21 - I attended the Poliblogger Bash last night - it was overwhelming and I'm still caught up in the emotion too much to get beyond it to say much that would be lucid (although I think I managed to pull off composed okay. These people saved my sanity when I discovered their writings - how does one deal with meeting them face to face?)

I was in the company of some of the most interesting and intelligent people I've ever met before and I still can't believe it really happened.

I'll post more after work after I've figured out what the rules of blogging etiquette are for these kinds of get-togethers and what should and shouldn't be disclosed.

Many thanks to David Janes for organizing it, and cheers for Damien Penny who, by coming to Toronto, provided cause for the party.

It was incredible. Did I make that clear? Just incredible. I'm babbling; good time to shut up.

UPDATE: Mar. 22 07:26: Others have covered it: Angua, Nicholas, Spinkiller, Accordian Guy, a member of Tonecluster, Michael, guest of honour Damien, and of course the brains behind the event, David. Kathy, Mark Wickens and Rick McGinnis also attended. I hope I didn't leave anyone out; there was a large group but it was a seated event so the mingling was limited by chair space.

The Meatriarchy had an excellent excuse for not being there but we comfortably plotted behind his back anyway.

Once I got past the I don't know any of these people part I came to realize that I did know them. They were variously as passionate, direct, energetic, no-nonsense, capable of recognizing the wondrous, funny, insightful and sardonic as their writings indicate.

I'm not going to "out" anyone, but the comments already indicate that Flea and I share a reverence for Babyon 5 and in particular the episode "Severed Dreams" (Bab5 breaks from Earth and Delenn disbands the Grey Council) and still get chill moments at certain moments during that episode. Isn't one of the definitions of a classic is that it can still move and inspire us?

And I'm never going to be able to listen to "Born to be Wild" in quite the same way again!

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (7)

March 20, 2004

Off to work

Mar. 20 - You will all be spared my rantings today because I must work (although had I sooner known about today's The World STILL Says YES to Liberty! rally in Toronto I would have made alternate arrangements) and won't be home until quite late.

As always, give the folks on the blogroll a look and you don't be disappointed.

Ha! A brief snow flurry passed and I intend to mock each and every pile of snow I pass because they are Destined to Melt.

Posted by Debbye at 10:21 AM | Comments (7)


Mar. 20 - Two reports in the Daily Telegraph about the arrival of troops from Europe and a quite sobering one about the coordinated attacks on Serbs and the destruction of their homes and farms after they fled - ethnic cleansing, anyone?

There is also a piece in the NRO by Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic Kristallnacht in Kosovo. It isn't an objective commentary, but does reinforce something that struck me when the violence first broke out: the accusation that Serbs caused the drowning deaths of the children (one account claimed that Serbs dared the children to swim the river!) was painfully reminiscent of stories like The Prioress's Tale from The Canterbury Tales and the variety of accounts of how Serbs were said to have been responsible for the drownings confirmed my suspicions.Can we all say Incite to Riot? This is so out of the KKK Hand-book (but without the "first liquor the mob up" part.)

CNN reports one version of the drowning story from a UN official (although not as a version!) and also that Putin denounced the attacks and that

Russia's parliament passed a resolution condemning the failure of international organizations to stem the violence in Kosovo and said military forces from Serbia-Montenegro's government should be allowed to help defend the province's Serb population, AP reported.
This poses the question if NATO and UN forces are up to the job. The UK responded quickly and firmly and probably stopped the violence from continuing but that's scant comfort for those who watched their churches and home burning.

Yet those who believe there is an international community really think involving the UN in Iraq would be an improvement there?

UPDATE: Mar. 21 09:35: A report from the other point of view in today's Telegraph here. This article too is pessimistic about the prospect of building Kosovo as a multi-ethic society.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 AM | Comments (4)

March 19, 2004

Marking this day

Mar. 19 - Good for Denise! She chose an appropriate way to mark today by reprinting the President's speech delivered One Year Ago as the Iraq War commenced.

The President marked this day with a speech in the East Room before an audience that included the Ambassadors from Great Britain, France and Germany. He extended the sympathies of the American people to the ambassador from Spain, and re-stated our purpose:

On a tape claiming responsibility for the atrocities in Madrid, a man is heard to say, "We choose death while you choose life." We don't know if this is the voice of the actual killers, but we do know it expresses the creed of the enemy. It is a mindset that rejoices in suicide, incites murder and celebrates every death we mourn.

And we who stand on the other side of the line must be equally clear and certain of our convictions. We do love life, the life given to us and to all. We believe in the values that uphold the dignity of life: tolerance and freedom and the right of conscience. And we know that this way of life is worth defending.

There is no neutral ground -- no neutral ground -- in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation.

The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies, they're offended by our existence as free nations.

No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror.

There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations.

The only certain way to protect our people is by united and decisive action.

In this contest of will and purpose, not every nation joins every mission or participates in the same way. Yet every nation makes a vital contribution, and America is proud to stand with all of you as we pursue a broad strategy in the war against terror.

Eloquent, sincere, and straight on the path. He reminded all that we and those with whom we've recently disagreed still stand together in the larger war against terrorism, and that although paths may deviate and detour, he works to keep unity toward the ultimate goal.

I read a biography of Robert the Bruce years ago and the author stressed how often and doggedly the Bruce would go the extra mile to build the fragile coalition he had formed with the quarrelsome Scots to unite Scotland under his kingship and to stand against the English.

When I see the president rise above the meanness and sometimes vindictiveness of other leaders (and even some of our own) it impresses upon me anew that there's too much at stake in this battle to let the small stuff distract us from our objective.

Maybe he also read that biography. Certainly he goes the extra mile.

We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail.

UPDATE: US Deputy Sec. of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has a guest op-ed in the NY Post in which he explains how a democratic Iraq means Terror is Losing. (Link from Roger L. Simon.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

UN Oil for Food Program

Mar. 19 - William Safire in his NY Times column Scandal at the U.N. credits the Claudia Rosett article in the Times last year with alerting him to the scandal and began his own investigtion.

Safire quickly outlines the hidden kickbacks, the secrecy and the corruption and concludes:

Under mounting pressure, this week the U.N. let it be known that its laughably titled Office of Internal Oversight Services would look into the matter. An internal whitewash? Not nearly good enough.

Will the Security Council appoint an independent counsel to clean house in an inept or corrupt Secretariat? No, because France and Russia had their hands in the kickback till.

But free Iraq, backed up by the U.S., is not helpless. Our Congress supplies 22 percent of the U.N. budget, and we have a right to an accounting. Chairman Henry Hyde, of House International Relations, calls this "an outrage" and will arrange for a G.A.O. briefing this week, to be followed by open hearings in April.

See here for a link to the NY Times Rosett column as well as other pieces on the UN Oil for Food program.

The NY Post also ran a column on the scandal with a report from the GAO that

Saddam Hussein stole a staggering $10.1 billion from the humanitarian U.N.-run oil-for-food program - billions more in thievery than earlier estimates, a congressional investigation revealed yesterday.
Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Mar. 20 09:02: CNN reports that Annan is calling for an independent inquiry into the UN Oil for Food program. In writing!

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 PM | Comments (2)

Mahathir endorses Kerry

Mar. 19 - Did Sen. Kerry really not understand that his boast of having contact with foreign leaders who have confided they want him to win would blow up in his face?

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has endorsed Kerry. Read this post at Right Wing News in case you've forgotten Mahathir's anti-Semitic views.

Guess Mahathir didn't like Pres. Bush stating outright that he didn't agree with those views.

Posted by Debbye at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

"Yes to Liberty" rally in Toronto

Mar. 19 - From Mader Blog: There is to be a "Yes to Liberty" rally and march tomorrow, Saturday, March 20 in Toronto

Our rally/counter-protest will be held at Nathan Phillips Square on Queen St. W. in downtown Toronto on Saturday March 20th. We ask that those interested in joining us assemble at this location between 12:00pm and 12:30pm. The "anti-war" protest is scheduled to commence at 1:00pm, so we would like to get there prior to their march. We may proceed from the Square to the US Consulate depending on our turnout and how events transpire.
I must work tomorrow and cannot attend, but damn, this is good news.

UPDATE: Mader Blog has a report on the rally and a link to pictures!

Posted by Debbye at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

APTN discussion of Iraq

I received an email about an upcoming broadcast on APTN (the Aboriginal People's Television Network):

Iraq 1 Year Later: Liberated or Colonized?
LIVE Friday March 19 @ 8 pm et / 5 pt
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
(Read details in extended.)

Coming up this Friday on Contact - it's been one year since the US invaded Iraq. What's changed? Did the war make life better or worse for the people of Iraq, not just now but in the long term? Is the world a safer place because Saddam Hussein is gone?

Critics say the war was about oil, greed and power, that the US and its allies had no right to invade. But supporters say Saddam Hussein had to go, and the Iraqi people were in no position to do it themselves. Now, one year later, people wonder whether Iraq is headed to a new future, and when, if ever, the US will leave.

Join us *live* this Friday at 8 pm et, 7 ct, as we discuss the war and occupation of Iraq. To take part, call toll free 1-877-647-2786 or email during the show.

Posted by Debbye at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)

Nexus of Terrorism

Mar. 19 - I fell asleep on the couch shortly after No. 1 Son left last night. I wonder why? The real question: am I looking too closely, or are there signs that al Qaeda and other terrorists have started a major counter-offensive? Events in Syria and Iran indicate that the forces for freedom are also on the move.

Mar. 2 - Multiple attacks on Shiite commemoration of Ashura in Iraq.

Mar. 4 - Abdul Raouf Naseeb captured in Yemen.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahaman Khadr admits family closely connected to al Qaeda

Mar. 4 - Sunni and Shiite clerics march together in Iraq to protest terrorism.

Mar. 4 - Insurrection in Iran.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahman Khadr says he was a CIA agent in Bosnia.

Mar. 5 - Palestinian civil war begins?

Mar. 8 - Interim Iraq Constitution signed

Mar. 8 - Int'l Women's Day march in Iran attacked by security forces

Mar. 9 - North Korea issues rhetoric, withdraws from meaningful talks

Mar. 9 - Abu Abbas dies

Mar. 11 - Terrorist attack in Spain.

Mar. 12 - Millions of Spaniards demonstrate against terrorism

Mar. 13 - Uprisings in Iran

Mar. 14 - Elections in Spain, appeasers voted in.

Mar. 14 - Two terrorist attacks in Ashod, Israel, kills 10

Mar. 15 - Israel retaliates

Mar. 15 - New Spanish government announces they will withdraw from Iraq.

Mar. 15 - Polish government says Fine, we'll carry on without Spain

Mar. 15 - Uprisings in Syria, Iran.

Mar. 15 - Vandals in north Toronto target homes of Jewish citizens with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Mar. 16 - Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir (aka Kahlid Ali Hajj, "The Poet") killed in Saudi Arabia

Mar. 16 - Group with possible Chechen links threaten French over head-scarf ban

Mar. 17 - Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad hit by car bomb

Mar. 17 - Renewal of violence in Kosovo.

**Mar. 17 - Spain goverment received communique dated Mar. 15 claiming to be from al Qaeda which declared a cease-fire with Spain.

Mar. 18 - Pakistan troops heavily engaged in battle in north, may have surrounded al Zawahiri.

Mar. 18 - Additional troops go into Kosovo in response to renewed violence.

Mar. 18 - British announce additional 650 (+-) British troops to be deployed to Kosovo which will be augmented by US and Italian forces.

**Mar. 18 - Second communique claming to be from al Qaeda threatens further attacks in retaliation for death of Khaled Ali Hajj (aka Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, The Poet) in Saudia Arabia.

**Mar. 18 - Attempted assassination of Jose Murat, Governor of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Mar. 19 - President and Vice-President of Taiwan shot by would-be assassins and a FARC plot to assassinate the president of Columbia has been thwarted.

Mar. 19 - First of British troops land in Kosovo; an additional 600 German troops are also to be deployed.

Mar. 19 - French restaurant in Bahrain stormed by Islamists angered by alcohol served. Cars of restaurant patrons hit with Molotov cocktails.

**Mar. 19 - Car bomb in Basra kills 3 people, angry residents catch bomber and kill him:

A man who left the vehicle shortly before the blast was caught by passers-by and stabbed to death, said police Lt.-Col. Ali Kazem. Two others spotted getting out of the vehicle were caught by members of the public and later arrested.
Three Iraqi journalists killed, nine wounded in by drive-by shooting, three US soldiers killed by mortar fire.

Mar. 19 - Plans for the Pakistan-India cricket match remain firm. (I see a major political message in this sports event.)

I left some things out, including the letter purporting to be from al Qaeda declaring a cease-fire in Spain and today's bomb threat targeting DC schools.

Do you suppose the seeming simultaneity is what Sec. of State Colin Powell meant when he used the expression a nexus of terrorism to describe the link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein during his UN presentation last year?

These events may be linked on purpose or they may have inspired one another, but anyone who understands that we are at war might also believe that terrorists are being flushed out into the open.

Others will doubtless say that the events are a direct result of US intervention in Iraq, but there were so many events which preceeded that war that I don't think it an adequate explanation.

**late additions to list

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)

Important stories from Thursday

Lots more on Adscam, but Andrew Coyne is doing such a terrific job I'm going to let him carry this ball.

According to the Chinese ambassador, Canada's lot lies with EU

The Chinese Ambassador in Brussels said the other day, in that big-picture Chinese way, that the creation and success of the European Union is one of those transforming human events that happens every 300 or 400 years.
The article notes that the EU has successfully avoided war. It doesn't note that one of the wars it avoided was the ongoing one in Kosovo.

More anti-Semitism in Toronto:

Police had to be called to York University on Tuesday after a dramatization of an Israeli border crossing by pro-Palestinian students led to a rival demonstration at the politically charged campus.
Is there a connection with what happened yesterday? As Margaret Wente points out, We Can't Afford to Look Away noting that the West is looking away from blatant anti-Semitism in the Arab world.

The insurrection in Syria went into it's fifth day. The death toll is reported to be at least 30. A timely reminder:

Kurds comprise almost two million of Syria's 17 million population although about 200,000 of them are not recognised as citizens of the country as a punishment for seeking to establish an autonomous homeland.
Australia and Japan were mentioned as possible targets on the Al-Quds al-Arabi webiste but both governments said they wouldn't be intimidated. The website also reassured the Spanish government that they needn't worry:
In its statement, Abu Hafs al-Masri said it was calling a truce in Spain to give the socialist government that was elected Sunday, three days after the train attacks, time to carry out its pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq.
How humiliating it must be for the Spanish to be told that the group which has claimed responsibility for killing 202 people in the attack last week is pleased with their election results.
The group appeared to boast it had the power to change governments. The socialists, who have long opposed Spain's military involvement in Iraq, were running second in Spanish opinion polls until Thursday's bombings.

"We change and destroy countries," the statement said. "We even influence the international economy, and this is God's blessing to us. We won't accept to be an object in this world, but a player, a strong player - with God's will."

The statement tells American voters that Abu Hafs al-Masri supports the re-election campaign of U.S. President George W. Bush: "We are very keen that Bush does not lose the upcoming elections."

The statement goes on to boast that it is anxious to have the Arab world see how dreadful the US really is. Sounds a lot like the Maoist rhetoric I heard back in the 60's.

Many thanks for the links to these stories which were available because I receive Jack's Newswatch by email daily.

Posted by Debbye at 10:45 AM | Comments (4)

Important stories from Wednesday

Mar. 19 - These are some important stories I missed Wednesday:

There was an ugly incident of anti-Semitism here: T.O. police probing anti-Semitic hate crimes in north Toronto.

Part of the rise in anti-Semitism last year is being blamed on the war in Iraq, which produced a spike in hate crimes. The ongoing tensions and violence in Israel is apparently giving licence to hate mongers.
The Canadian media, always ready to Blame America.

More news from Syria about Syria uprisings and Syrian officials blame US for the Kurdiah uprising because US flags were spotted in crowd. I'll own up to such that blame inspiration gladly and gratefully.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda yesterday accused France of direct responsibility for the 1994 genocide of at least 800,000 people in the central African country.

M Kagame claimed that the French government supplied weapons, logistical support and even senior military planners to the regime of militant ethnic Hutus responsible for the slaughter of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. (UPDATE: Mar. 24 - See this for seeming verification of the charge.)

France's growing closeness to the Chinese leadership was signalled yesterday when the two countries held joint naval exercises and the European Union said it wanted to scrap its post-Tiananmen Square arms embargo. Hmm, Chretien was visiting China when Adscam broke out.

SAN'A, Yemen (AP) - Nine suspects in the 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole have been arrested, the government of Yemen said Tuesday, including eight who escaped from jail last year.

These and other stories were on my daily email from Jack's Newswatch which I can keep and use the links to refer back to important stories as they develop.

Jack changes the page daily, so bookmark it for your first stop visit to catch Canadian and international news stories.

Incidently, Jack is a veteran, and pays special attention to Canadian troops troops and to the history of the regiments in Canada. In a country that all but ignores it's military unless it makes for a good sound-bite, Jack is a lone voice of support.

You can sign up to be on his mailing list with an email to Jack Davies (contact address at the site.)

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

Bush calls it appeasement

Mar. 19 - Appeasement will not halt terror, Bush tells Spain. Germany foreign minister Joschka Fischer says it's not fair to call it appeasement, but Thomas Friedman in a NY Times op-ed doesn't care; he says there is an Axis of Appeasement (but he also thinks sending more troops to Iraq to pave the way for the UN is the solution. Right. Guess he doesn't read Safire

Posted by Debbye at 08:04 AM | Comments (3)

750 UK Troops Dispatched To Kosovo

Mar. 18 - Can't fight on more than one front? Renewed violence in Kosovo is being met with determination: 750 British troops are being deployed to Kosovo in response to a NATO request after violence broke out Wdnesday. 8 people were killed, and a Serbian Orthodox Church was torched. French troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the Albanian mob.

Three companies of NATO peacekeeprs, approx. 350 soldiers, have already been sent into the area and hundreds more are on standby.

The USA will send one company from Bosia as will Italy. A third will come from the Nato-run peacekeeping force's strategic reserve.

Recent events are described as being the worse since 1999. There have been uprisings in every major city in Kosovo, and at least a dozen soldiers in the NATO forces have been injured and a French soldier killed.

See this for 600 Brit troops and more troops from the US and Italy to go in.

The death toll in Kosovo now stands at 31.

Albanian crowds trying to enter a church through hand grenades at Finnish soldiers guarding it and they fired back.

This CNN report states that 150 US and 80 Italian troops arrived in Kosovo Thursday and 750 British troops will arrive Friday.

UPDATE: Mar. 19 0800 The first 100 have landed in Kosovo.

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 AM | Comments (4)

Analysis of Spanish Elections

Mar. 19 - There's an excellent, well-linked analysis at the Winds of Change of the attack in Spain, the Spanish elections and their aftermath which Dan Darling characterizes as "a definite victory" for al Qaeda" (Winds of Change.NET: Special Analysis: An Al-Qaeda Victory.)

The analysis of the terrorist attack in Spain points to precedent in Israel and Russia (excellent point) and gives some perspective, particularly on Moroccan and Tunisian terrorists who may have fled to Spain to escape the crackdown following the attacks in those countries.

Posted by Debbye at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2004

Meanwhile, on CNN . .

Mar. 18 - I've surrendered to CNN, and even though the insipid commentary is infuriating, I'm watching the reportage of events in Pakistan.

CNN is all antsy about what will happen at nightfall. C'mon, murdoc, say it with me: Predator. Hellfire. Boom.

CNN is also speculating that neight OBL nor Zawahiri will allow themselves to be taken alive. Odd that this is the one thing the two men and I agree upon. In this aspect only, I wish American soldiers were more involved, because I know they know their duty.

One thing I don't get: they repeatedly say that, unlike the Mafia, you can't take out al Qaeda by taking out the leadership.

What moron believes that the Mafia disappears because the head kingpin is put out of action?

I wonder if OBL and al-Zawahiri are watching CNN.

Posted by Debbye at 03:12 PM | Comments (3)

Hate speech laws 2.0

Mar. 18 - Bill C-250 is legislation to include sexual orientation under laws against hate speech which has engendered a great deal of controversy (Hate Bill 'censors' Canucks) and is now before the unelected Senate for passage.

40 Liberals actually voted against it in Parliament
last fall (the measure passed 141-110.)

I'm against hate speech and against laws that inhibit the freedom of speech. Easy, right?

Posted by Debbye at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 18 - Bill's much-awaited essay is up at Eject! Eject! Eject!

I say simply this: Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by Stupidity.
Bill brings a new element to dealing with social engineers: if implementation of the theory requires a miracle, it's doomed.

Posted by Debbye at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)

Hockey and the American Public

Mar. 18 - I found this gem over at The Meatriarchy's site I Come to Praise Hockey, Not to Bury It. I've been trying to figure out myself why the American audience doesn't love hockey; I incline toward the "not sufficiently exposed to it" theory but that's probably pre-Canadian resident mea culpa projection.

I get why Americans don't particularly care about Formula One, but I thought hockey would catch on much more than it has.

Colby Cosh also has some thoughts on the subject.

Posted by Debbye at 12:22 AM | Comments (5)

March 17, 2004

More Canadian Mint Woes

Mar. 17 - Brian Legris, the chief executive of the Royal Canadian Mint is also a frequent traveller (Expensive business trips also on the bill.) No total is provided (Crown corporations don't have to divulge expenses) but there is this:

Mint spokesman Phil Taylor could not explain a $1,632 hospitality expense June 6, 2002 claim that Legris filed. There were no supporting receipts or explanations on what Legris spent the money on.

But Taylor said the mystery claim would no longer be approved under improved rules implemented since 2003.

There. Don't you feel better now? Oh wait, there's more!

Mr. Legris lives within a 3-minute walk from work, and in fact deliberately moved so close in order to walk yet still racked up $3,681 for gas, car repairs and parking in downtown Ottawa between February 2002 and December 2003 in addition to his $10,000 per year car allowance. (Don't get me wrong, I don't blame him for driving 3 blocks between December and February; after all, we're talking Ottawa In Winter here.)

Previous story about the highly paid executives at the Canadian Mint here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 PM | Comments (2)

Min. of Fin. Greg Sorbara

Mar. 17 - The Ontario ethics commissioner has cleared Greg Sorbara, the Ont. Finance Minister, of being in a conflict of interest when he failed to disclose that he used to sit on the Board of Directors of Royal Group Technologies upon being told the company was being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission.

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

The U.N. Card

Mar. 17 - Bob takes apart a recent Globe and Mail piece by Salim Lone, "director of communications for the UN mission in Iraq". Sigh. Bob makes it look so easy.

UPDATE: Mar. 19 10:20: Commenter Sammie pointed to this USAID Mission to Iraq page. Establishing honest and democratic local governance is, for me, the key to success in Iraq. Local control over local affairs is the basis of democratic, accountable government. We call it grass-root democracy, and it safeguards democracy in a country (but it seems the UN is still struggling with the concept that people should have control over their own lives. Bureaucracies are like that.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (2)

France Under Threat

Mar. 17 - More detail about the threatening letter sent to France.

Updated with further references to the new al Qaeda counter-offensive.

The letter, from a previously unknown group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise," said it planned to take action after Muslim girls were banned from wearing headscarves in schools.

The bill was passed last month by the National Assembly.

"You have let loose on yourself a river of hate and ignorance, not only toward Muslims but toward Islam itself," the letter, addressed to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said.

"We will plunge France into terror and remorse, and we will make blood run to your borders."

Describing France as a country of "wine, pigs, loose morals and nudity," the group said it planned to use attack techniques imported from Gaza and Chechnya that "have never been used in the West until now."

The letter, postmarked from Paris and sent to the chief editor of "Le Parisien," urged Muslims to stay out of crowded areas.

"Europe is a new war zone for the Jihad," it says. "Know that our fight has only just begun."


The letter urges the National Assembly to reverse the headscarf bill or face the consequences.

"This law is like a declaration of war directed at the Muslim world. If you don't retract that law immediately, we will respond strongly and severely with amazing intensity in your country."

The letter says they are awaiting three signs: the vote on the headscarf ban, a "clear and explicit" signal from Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a third which they did not reveal.

Mar. 28 12:08 Two posts from Belmont Club:

The attacks in Spain may have succeeded due to Morocco's pissiness: from this:

Flash! The Guardian reports that Spain's hesitance to concede the disputed of island of Perejil may have prevented Morocco from sharing information with Spanish authorities that could have thwarted terrorist attacks.
and this:
They are not the only terrorists who have fled to Europe looking for easier pickings. The group which has been threatening France with mayhem if it does not rescind the law banning Muslim headscarves in schools is thought to be either Chechen in origin or a false-flag operation by the Russian FSB, the descendant of the dread KGB. Either way, it represents a migration of an ongoing struggle onto more congenial grounds. An attack on the defenseless. Europe has long been the preferred base for the political arms of terror organizations. The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade which initially claimed responsibility for the Madrid attacks is thought by Dan Darling to be a public relations front for a variety of Jihadist groups based in London.

Militant Islamists, perhaps embolded by a perception of European weakness, are challenging it to its face. In Mitrovica, 400 miles from the Austrian border, Albanian Muslims were purging themselves of the last infidel Serbs, reasonably certain that Europe cannot nerve itself to stop ethnic cleansing, at least not when the cleansees are Orthodox Christians. As Serbia's nominal overlords, the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) appealed for calm, churches burned.

Also, note the this from AP and this Reuters report about renewed ethnic clashes in Kosovo. [Note: I'm sure that people who are prepared to set off bombs are worried about rubber bullets and teargas! Back in the day, we used to scoff at teargas because however effective it may be within an enclosed area, it has only temporary effects out in the open where people can run and regroup.]

The UN continues to destroy the credibility the left would confer on it.

Daily there are signs of the wisdom of the president's warning: You are either with us or with the terrorists.

Don't get me wrong; I know that the left is not "with" the terrorists in terms of supporting their goals or methods, but certainly they hoped that, with time, the terrorists would become enlightened, soothed, and cease their murderous attacks.

Very idealistic, and very doomed. The left, by continuing to see this as a war which the West began, are analyzing events and attacks more irrationally as terrorist attacks escalate.

When Islamofascists spoke, the left failed to heed it's own rule: To really listen.

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 PM | Comments (3)

Spanish Elections and the EU

Mar. 17 - Post at Iberian Notes about the responses of the US and Polish presidents to the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq and how the new Spanish government will likely affect deliberations over the proposed EU Constitution

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

Mount Lebanon Hotel Attack

Mar. 17 - I'll try to keep abreast of whatever news I can find about the latest terrorist attack in Baghdad. The attack leveled the Mount Lebanon Hotel and which houses civilians, including many Egyptians and Kurds, and houses nearby. Iraq agencies are taking care of the wounded and trying to find survivors in the rubble.

17:40: It's been confirmed that it was a suicide car bomb, and one reporter said it was reminiscent of the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy.

According to CNN (same link as below):

Iraqi leaders had reached an understanding with the United Nations, asking for advisers to help them put together an interim government before the June 30 political handover, a British diplomat said Wednesday.
But will the UN stay this time?

It's about time the Vice-President started reminding people what is happening in Iraq. This isn't electoral politics, despite the inclusion of Kerry, this is the leadership of a country speaking to the people about what we are doing, reminding them how important it is and boosting morale. Election schmelection, this is the duty of the President and the Vice-President.

15:38: The Iraq security forces, police and rescue workers are still digging by hand and trying to find survivors in the debris. They show no signs of giving up. US officials seem to believe it was a suicide attack, that a large vehicle was used, and the explosive used was combined with military ordinance which gave the blast more power. The death toll has climbed to 28.

15:20: US Military officials are saying it was caused by a 1,000 lb. bomb.

14:54: More information here.

14:35: Alaa has two posts about yesterday's deaths in Iraq here and here and has a very direct message:

It is a question of taking the initiative, It is not right for the Greatest Power on Earth, supported by the majority of the people of the country to be harassed in this way by gangs of thugs and murderers.
14:19: From Fox word that at least 27 are dead and 41 injured.
The hotel is inhabited mostly by Kurds and Egyptians and is located very close to the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the Arab language satellite television station.

The blast, which hit around 8 p.m. local time, was probably caused by a rocket attack, Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhim told Reuters. Other experts, including U.S. officers on the scene, said it looked like a car bomb, since the hotel had lax security and it would be easier for a terrorist to drive a car up to the building, detonate it and kill many people.

From live coverage on CNN, some of the reporters have sounded angry at the attackers and outraged over the attack.

13:30 I just got home from work and turned on CNN to learn there had been another terrorist attack and that the Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad had been hit. Preliminary reports on TV indicate that there were mostly civilians in the hotel and that it was either a car or truck bomb.

Has the other shoe dropped?

I'm angry again. Like many others, I was feeling let down over the results of the Spanish elections and the decision of Honduras to withdraw was one more piece of discouraging news, although Steven Den Beste's post on the rout, The Stampede Begins gave me heart.

The French barely had a chance to welcome the newest weasel before being confronted with reality and an anonymous threat. (See commenter Keith's report on what the threats said here.)

Al Qaeda is on the offensive, and they are going after weaker targets. A surprise? Hardly, but more than just bullying, it's basic military strategy.

Al Qaeda is basically a coalition of terror groups as opposed to one, monolithic organization, and it's a matter of basic strategy to join forces with other, like-minded groups who employ terrorism as their basic (and only) tactic.

I wondered if the Spanish train attack was a joint operation between al Qaeda and a splinter group from ETA - probably younger members who admired al Qaeda's audacity and wanted to emulate their methods, and am becoming more convinced of that theory.

We are at war. Why on earth is it a surprise that al Qaeda is now taking the initiative and staging a counter-attack? Don't people read history books anymore?

I think al Qaeda is trying to isolate the US from our allies, and they are going after the weaker links. Spain was wobbly, although former PM Aznar was firm, and the Iraqi people are both strong and weak because it's damned hard to be on the front lines.

Even if we are left standing alone (not that I believe the UK and Australia will back off from their support) I'd rather go down fighting than hide in a corner. We've been backing off, initiating dialogue, examining root causes and diverting ourselves from the clear and present danger for too long as it is.

We are a free people - free people who have a legacy of taking incredible risks and chancing everything for a better life. This goes back to the very first settlers on Roanoke Island and the Pilgrims who got lost on their way to the New World and stepped off the Mayflower and onto Plymouth Rock.

Being a slave to fear is a living death, and I really prefer true death to almost-death, just as I would rather be allowed to pass on than be a vegetable hooked up to machinery.

Never surrender, never retreat. Let that be our motto.

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

Allah Pundit vs. Toronto Star

Mar. 17 - (Note: I actually posted this somewhat later, but have changed the time so as to keep the terrorist car bombing in Baghdad on top.)

Allah Pundit read yesterday's Toronto Star editorial about the implications of the Spanish elections and gets very serious: he (?) blasts the Star for their lies distortions.

Then he compares their editorial with the editorial of another newspaper and closes in for the kill:

The Arab fucking News. Congratulations, Toronto Star: You just got fact-checked by the house organ of the world's foremost terrorist state. Wonderful.

Link via Neptunus Lex.

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (7)

Best of Mark Steyn

Mar. 17 - Right Wing News has a terrific compilation of The Best Quotes From Mark Steyn's Last 52 Jewish World Review Columns.

Posted by Debbye at 12:06 AM | Comments (2)

March 16, 2004

Offically moved

Mar. 16 - Offically moved to a terrific site at Munuvania with the same blog name Being American in T.O..

See you all there here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:19 PM | Comments (6)

All About the (French Lust for) Oil

Mar. 16 - The automatic assumption that anything the US does is eeevil allows for quick and satisfactory explanations for each and every one of the world's ills and problems. The problem with that is that everything else goes entirely under the radar and lets other, not so very philanthropic people and corporations operate without detection.

One of the lesser known aspects of Iraq under Hussein was the efforts he made to get the sanctions lifted through a contract between the him and the oil giant TotalFinaElf (formerly Total SA and Elf Aquitane and renamed when they merged.)

From the NY Post, The French War for Oil:

The first of two massive deals was announced in June 1994 by then-Iraqi Oil Minister Safa al-Habobi - a well-known figure whose name had surfaced in numerous procurement schemes in the 1980s in association with the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, which supervised Saddam's chemical, biological, missile and nuclear-weapons programs.

Speaking in Vienna, al-Habobi confirmed that his government was awarding Total SA rights to the future production of the Nahr Umar oil field in southern Iraq, and that Elf was well-placed to be awarded similar terms in the Majnoon oil fields on the border with Iran.

Those two deals, which I detail in "The French Betrayal of America," would have been worth an estimated $100 billion over a seven-year period - but were conditioned on the lifting of U.N. sanctions on Iraq. Simply put, analyst Gerald Hillman told me, the French were saying: "We will help you get the sanctions lifted, and when we do that, you give us this."

It gets better.
The Total contract, a copy of which I obtained, was "very one-sided," says Hillman. (Hillman, a political economist and a managing partner at Trireme Investments in New York, did a detailed analysis of the contract.) An ordinary production agreement typically grants the foreign partner a maximum of 50 percent of the gross proceeds of the oil produced at the field they develop. But this deal gave Total 75 percent of the total production. "This is highly unusual," he said. Indeed, it was extortion.

But Saddam willingly agreed: He saw the Total deal, and a similar one with Elf, as the price he had to pay to secure French political support at the United Nations.

Most Canadians still don't realize the close connection between the Chretien and Demarais families and TotalFinaElf through the Montreal corporation Power Corp. The question is, do they care? They've had recent revelations of how very corrupt the government was under Chretien, but are they willing to face the entire truth?

France tried to keep Saddam in power with every trick and device in the book. We know what they did under the pretense of seeking peaceful solutions, but the real reason Chirac went to such lengths remains unexplored even though journalists have access to the same information as we do.

Chretien stood on high moral ground and officially, Canada did not offer even symbolic support to the US or even wish us good luck.

TotalFinaElf. Jacques Chirac. Jean Chretien. Paul Desmarais.

It's all about the oil. Really.

Links: From last September, a link to an interesting rundown of Paul Desmarais, this from a post by Kate at Anything Prose. A portion of the Francis column is here and Winds of Change also has a post that stemmed from the Francis column on Chretien's connection to TotalFinaElf here as well as another as well as two Instapundit links about another corruption scandel in France which involved TotalFinaElf (the case involved Elf Aquitaine, a parent company of TotalFinaElf and Mitterand, and there were convictions and fines levied.)

There are Belgium ties to TotalFinaElf too: follow the links provided here (I'll tidy this up a bit tomorrow.)

A final note: former PM Chretien awarded the Order of Canada to Andre Desmarais (his son-in-law) last August.

Another final note, this from Dow Jones Newswires from January, 2003, Inc's Cosy Deal with Iraq at Risk as War Looms.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (5)


Mar. 16 - Politopia: The Land of Custom-Made Government


Posted by Debbye at 06:49 PM | Comments (14)

Chechen link to French threat

Mar. 16 - What to think of this? A group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise" has sent a letter to the French government which threatened the French people which has a Chechen link : it was signed by "Commando Movsar Barayev," an apparent reference to the Chechen leader who took over a theatre in Moscow in October, 2002. Barayev was killed when Russian forces pumped anesthesia into the theatre and re-took the building.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the letter contained "menacing threats for the entire nation..."

The threat was revealed as French President Jacques Chirac pledged to step up the fight against terrorism to protect citizens and institutions.

"Europe must always fight terrorism with all its strength," Chirac told reporters.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, appearing with Chirac after bilateral talks in Paris, said he agreed with that assessment.

The leaders were meeting in the French capital nearly a week after bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 201 people.

Both leaders expressed solidarity with Spain in the wake of the terrorism, and vowed better cooperation among European nations to collect intelligence on various attacks.

Military force is not the only solution, Schroeder said. "One needs to look at the roots of it," including lack of development in the developing world.

Still looking, are we? And after you've looked, what do you propose to do?

UPDATE: 23:06: ABC News has more details about the letter:

The letter, sent to several newspapers, threatened "to plunge France into terror and remorse and spill blood outside its frontiers," Jacques Esperandieu, deputy editor of the daily Le Parisien which received a copy, quoted it as saying.

The ministry confirmed earlier Justice Ministry reports that the threat, which it said was sent "on behalf of the servants of Allah, the powerful and wise," mentioned possible attacks in France and against French interests abroad.

The ABC article differs in some details from the CNN report, and cites the ban on headscarves recently passed by the French legislature as well as the French efforts against terrorism in France as well as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

Posted by Debbye at 05:53 PM | Comments (3)

I'm here!

Mar. 16 - Thanks to Pixy Misa, I am in the process of moving to the Munuviana site at Being American in T.O..

I'm posting in both places until I actually think I know what I'm doing. Come have a look!

Posted by Debbye at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda operative killed

Mar. 16 - So much for light blogging when events continue to pile on: Al Qaeda boss 'the Poet' killed

A senior al Qaeda leader -- described as the group's "chief of operations in the Arabian Peninsula" -- was killed in a shootout in Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials have told CNN.

A U.S. counterterrorism official called the death on Monday "very significant, and a major blow to al Qaeda."

The man was identified as Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, also known as Kahlid Ali Hajj. He was also nicknamed "the poet," officials said.

The "Poet" was a suspect in the Riyadh bombings last May which killed 23.

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

Spain: al Qaeda link found

Mar. 16 - Spain: More al Qaeda links found but it's old news from Sunday.

If 90% of the Spanish were against Iraq, why did The Partido Popular win so many seats?

Posted by Debbye at 04:07 PM | Comments (6)

Iraq Confidence

Mar. 16 - Majority of Iraqis See Life Better Without Saddam:

Just a quarter said they had confidence in U.S.-led occupation forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders (70 percent), local police (68 percent) and the new Iraqi army (56 percent).
This growing confidence in their own capabilities is so uplifting and just what I hoped for most - they shouldn't depend upon anyone, including the US, but upon themselves.

Funny, no questions about how Iraqis feel about the UN.

Posted by Debbye at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called hum Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
and Blink said Weeck! which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm,
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets, but they didn't hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim.
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pirate.

But presently up spoke little dog Mustard,
I'd been twice as brave if I hadn't been flustered.
And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink,
We'd have been three times as brave, we think,
And Custard said, I quite agree
That everybody is braver than me.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

Ogden Nash

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 AM | Comments (22)

March 15, 2004

Insurrections in Syria and Iran

Mar. 15 - There's an uprising in Syria near the Turkish border. It started at a soccer game wherein it would seem team rivalry became political rivalry:

The violence began in Qamishli when the local Jihad soccer team, comprised of mostly Arab and Kurd players, was playing the Fituwya group from the city of Dar el-Zur, near the Syrian border with Iraq. Fituwya fans began calling out "long live Saddam Hussein." The Jihad team responded with "long live Barazani" shouts, referring to one of the Kurdish leaders in Iraq.

Clashes ensued between the two camps inside the stadium, which contained some 5,000 people at the time, and three children were trampled to death during the ruckus.

Following the stadium incident, violent demonstrations spread on Friday to other cities in Syria's Kurdish regions. During the protests, signs and slogans slamming Assad's regime as well as the ruling Ba'ath Party were displayed. A demand was also raised for an international investigation into human rights violations during the incident.

From AP (short lived link):
QAMISHLI,Syria (AP) -- Armed police stood guard Monday on main streets in this northeastern town, where most stores were closed and the atmosphere remained tense after the worst unrest in Syria in years.

At least 15 people were reported killed and more than 100 wounded in riots over the weekend that started with clashes between Kurdish and Arab soccer fans.

The violence, which gave rise to Kurdish protests in several European cities on Monday, poses a challenge to President Bashar Assad, whose government is already facing calls to improve human rights and threatened U.S. sanctions for alleged support for terrorism.

The riots also raised concerns that the long-ignored minority Kurds, emboldened by a bigger role for fellow Kurds in neighboring Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, might push for greater recognition.

Kurds number about 1.5 million of Syria's 18.5 million people. Most live in the underdeveloped northeast and many have been denied Syrian nationality, meaning they cannot vote, own property, go to state schools or get government jobs.


In Athens, nearly a thousand Kurds holding candles marched through central Athens to the U.S. and Syrian embassies, chanting slogans against Syrian President Bashar Assad. In Geneva, more than 20 Kurdish demonstrators occupied the Syrian mission to U.N. offices for nearly two hours Monday to protest the deaths of Kurds.

A suggestion that Iraqi Kurds may get involved as well as an audacious proposal for US air support is at FreeArabForum

Funny CNN isn't covering this. Could be they are too busy not covering the uprising in Fereydunkenar, Iran, which has resulted in the resignation of a hardliner from Parliament.

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

French Allies in Afghanistan

Mar. 15 - Sometimes we forget that the French are our allies, despite their actions in the UN Security Council over Iraq which infuriated so many of us. This article (France: Bin Laden Nearly Caught in Afghanistan) is interesting for, among other things, an understanding of what Bin Laden and al Qaeda represent:

[France's chief of defense staff] Gen. Henri Bentegeat said about 200 French troops were operating with U.S. forces in southeastern Afghanistan against the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda.


The general said it was essential that bin Laden be caught.

"He symbolizes September 11 and is certainly not completely innocent in what happened in Madrid," he said, making a link between the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and the Spanish train bombings last Thursday.

But he added that arresting bin Laden "would not change things directly. (Al Qaeda) is a hydra with many heads. If we catch one head, there will be others."

Bentegeat said the minute preparations needed for the Madrid bombings were "the clearest indication" that al Qaeda was probably behind them.

He said the threat of Islamic radicalism was spreading beyond the Middle East. "It's a phenomenon we're seeing step by step in Africa," he said, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Then there are countries that are adrift, that we are trying to help to not sink, such as Ivory Coast or the Central African Republic," he added.

The hard part is how to help those countries that are in danger to succumbing to Islamic radicalism and are adrift. The easy answer would be to support whatever governments stand up against the radicals, but that would be to employ Cold War tactics in a war that is hot.

(Hat tip to Nik for the link.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

The Triumph of Euro Isolationism

Mar. 15 - This opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph (UK) (Euro isolationism is triumphant) confirms what Paul and Alina have said:

... It also appears that elements in the Spanish security forces were angered by what they considered to be their government's opportunism in initially blaming the more obviously unpopular target of Eta (rather than al-Qa'eda) and went over the heads of the Interior Ministry to speak to the opposition Socialists and to the press. They seem to have based their reasoning upon the need to alert Europe as a whole to the Islamist threat, but the effect appears to have been to hand victory for the Socialists who have taken a far less robust view of the war on terror.
UPDATE: 17:32: Robert punctures the "government lied to us" excuse pretty severely and is backed up by the redoubtable Allah.

The DT opinion piece also hits on a major problem in how poorly the war on terror has been explained:

Above all, the Americans and sympathetic European governments have not managed to convey the idea that there is no policy shift which they might undertake that would appreciably alter Islamist behaviour.
No argument there.

As rational people, it defies our understanding that someone wants to kill us because of who and what we are as opposed to who and what we've done. We should know better: the Holocaust demonstrated that the willingness to commit genocide exists in some recess of the human mind, as did the massacres in Rwanda, Congo, and the Balkans. Yet despite recent history, we are still trying to find reasons and thus be able to resolve problems rather than accept the unthinkable even when our enemy spells it out for us: they want us dead.

I've been trying to remember the salient points of bin Laden's first taped message after Sept. 11, and I have managed to remember that he accused the US of killing Iraqi babies and spoke to what he considered the sacrilege of US service personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Check. Situations rectified. But it made no difference.

Why did al Qaeda strike at vacationers, primarily Australians, in Bali? To retaliate for Australian intervention in East Timor. The people there had voted for independence and were being killed because of it, and al Qaeda sought to punish those who stopped the punishers.

Why did al Qaeda strike at the Spanish? The latest tape (which has not yet been shown to actually be from al Qaeda) claimed it was in retaliation for Spanish support of the coaltion in Iraq. So the Spanish, by being part of a coalition that stopped the deaths of Iraqi babies and freed the Iraqi people from the single worst killer of Muslims, are to be condemned because they saved the lives of Muslims and Iraqi babies.

It strikes me now that, by staging an attack on the eve of the elections, the situation in East Timor may be more relevant to what happened in Spain than I had previously considered. One was a punishment after election results were in, and the other was a warning before an election occurred.

Having said that, I suspect that most previously uncommitted voters voted as they did for a large number of reasons, but that al Qaeda is likely to interpret the results one way and one way only. They have utilized a new weapon, and our belief in the strength of the electoral system is likely to become severely tested.

The president has often stated that we are hated because we love freedom, and however much that may be true, such an argument is far too broad and unspecific to advance without concrete examples to back it up.

I think that after two and a half years of al Qaeda actions, we have enough recent, concrete examples to support that position, and people who look at recent events and try to justify al Qaeda's actions continue to do so in defiance of al Qaeda's stated positions.

But al Qaeda does not chose to debate with us! Their actions and words are interpreted (and thus discounted) by far too many people and that is the biggest problem in trying to make people understand, as the Telegraph put it, that there is no policy shift which they might undertake that would appreciably alter Islamist behaviour.

Nobody wants to believe that there is nothing we can do to appease, alter or persuade them to end this war. There must be something we can say or do, intelligent and rational minds insist.

The reason there is no opening by which we can deal with them is simple: the conflict is deeply rooted in their hatred of our concept of free will. The hallmark of western civilization has been institutions of consensual government which are not supposed to infringe on personal rights except to protect those rights. The hallmark of militant Islamism, judging by the strict rule of the Taliban, is to infringe on everyone's personal rights in the pursuit of some higher good.

Free will is what allows men and women to seek to educate themselves and work where they chose. Free will is what allows people to celebrate the end of the football season in Bali. Free will is what allows Shiite Muslims to observe Ashura. Free will is what allows a man to grow a beard to whatever length he choses - or not at all - and a woman to be educated, dress as she choses, and go outside without being accompanies by a male. We even allow women and homosexuals to hold positions of authority over heterosexual men.

Free will also is what allows people to vote on who will form their government for the next interval. The Madrid attack struck at a basic tenet by which consensual government is chosen: that rational people cast their votes after due consideration of the issues and in the cold light of reason. If we frown on those who get voters drunk and then drive them to the polls, what should we think of those who kill hundreds and injure thousands?

The targets of Islamic terrorists are growing, yet some still hope to wait out the attackers. This goes beyond all reason, once we accept the simplicity of the reasons for Islamic terrorism. But we can't do that unless we listen to what they are saying and look at what they are doing instead of how those things are interpreted.

Free will allows us the independence of mind to make rational determinations, and we'd better start using our minds on the basis of evidence, not wishful thinking.

(Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

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

Colby Cosh on Spain and Canada

Mar. 15 - I don't know how long this will be available without a paid subscription to the online National Post but Colby really outdoes himself in his observations about the terrorist attack in Madrid (it was written before the final election tally in Spain) and it's implications for Canada and, I think, every nation including the USA in Spain was the victim, Canada the audience:

... I can't help noticing that, as "tense" as things sometimes get between us and the southern neighbour, compressed dynamite in a backpack never enters into it. Spain was the victim on Thursday, but the intended audience was Canada -- Canada and every other country that is wavering in its determination to support a Pax Americana. To do so carries moral risks, but to acquiesce in the taking of the free world as a hostage is immorality on a much larger scale.

In Spain, opponents of conservative Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar are calling him a "war criminal" and unashamedly endowing him with responsibility for the attacks, because he stood alongside George W. Bush and Tony Blair on the issue of the Second Gulf War. The disarmamentarians and crypto-communists will argue that they don't mean to take away the guilt from those who built the bombs, even as they do just that. It's a recipe for Spain to be rendered invertebrate once again -- as spineless and feeble as Canada. (My bolding)

I think that this tactic by terrorists will, sadly, be effective in Canada (see next post. Canadians have oh so generously given Americans an out by deciding that the president knowingly lied - President Bush, that is, not Clinton or Chirac or any of the other world leaders who too said Iraq had WMD.)

Read the whole thing, and if it has disappeared from cyberspace, check at Colby Cosh's website where he usually posts his columns about a week after they're published in the Post.

(Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

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

Polls on Canadian attitudes to Americans

Mar. 15 - Take your pick:

The poll says Canadians call U.S. best pal - Yanks pick Brits, but that's only because Americans are ignorant about Canada.

Or are they?

This poll says Bush lied to justify Iraq war, Canada right to stay out Canadians believe the American president deliberately lied. Maybe Americans know Canada better than one might think.

(Links via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

News Planet Sedna

Mar. 15 - A new object circling our Sun, the most distant object in the solar system found yet, was confirmed by NASA. It has been provisionally named Sedna after the Inuit goddess of the sea. NASA is supposed to make the announcement this afternoon.

Sedna is mostly composed of ice and rock, and how scientists define "planet" will probably frame Sedna's designation. The existence of Sedna was anticipated by many scientists due to anomalies in Pluto's orbit.

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

Spanish Troops to be Withdrawn

Mar. 15 - No surprise here: Spain PM-elect: Troops out of Iraq on June 30 (why did CNN state it would be "by" June 30?) unless there is a UN resolution but

Later Warsaw's Ambassador to NATO, Jerzy M. Nowak, told Reuters that Poland was willing to stay in command of the stabilisation force in central-south Iraq if Spain withdrew.

Spain had been due to take charge of the division on July 1.

After 83% of the vote counted, the Socialist Party looks as though they have won 164 seats (still less than a majority) and the Popular Party won 148 seats out of 350 seats.

Zapatero, leader of the Socialist Party, has pledged to continue to fight terrorism but also talks about taking steps to achieve peace. He's going to have to do some careful balancing, and if he appears to appease terrorists I think the Spanish people could turn on him.

It is so hard for people to grasp that they are still safer confronting and fighting terrorism even after an attack such as we saw last Thursday. All many can comprehend in moments of grief and horror is that they were attacked, and it is difficult to recognize that living under the threat of terrorism is also an ongoing attack.

They now live with a new danger: weighing every decision and public stand with What would al Qaeda think? in the backs of their minds. That is not the signature of a free people.

Paul provides some much needed perspective in a brief description of all the parties that ran in the elections and his analysis and pay special note to the shift in seats - most down - in fringe parties.

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)

Terrorist Attack in Israel

Mar. 15 - Two homicide bombers killed 10 and wounded 20 in the port city of Ashod yesterday. Al Aqsa and Hamas have claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks. [I was glad to note that CNN did not include the terrorists in the death toll.] Israel responded with missile fire from helicopters in Gaza City on buildings said to be "used by the Hamas terrorist organization for the development and manufacturing of weapons, including Qassam rockets and mortar shells."

Israeli PM Sharon called off a scheduled meeting with PA PM Queria (now spelt Qorei?] and I have to say he was correct to do so. The sentiment expressed by the Queria, that now more than ever they should meet to negotiate in an attempt to revive the Road Map, doesn't address the PA's responsibility to stop terrorist attacks and either the PA won't, in which case they are bargaining in bad faith or they can't, in which case they don't have the necessary authority and control over the "militants" so what is to be gained by bargaining with them except to confer undeserved legitimacy?

I should also note that the PA condemned the terrorist attack and called for a ceasefire - again.

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

March 14, 2004

The Spanish Vote

Mar. 14 - The vote is in and the result is what most of us suspected it would be: a repudiation of the Popular Party, formerly led by Jose Maria Aznar, and victory for the socialists.

I had commented earlier that the fact that the vote was taking place at all was one victory against terrorism. I don't know what domestic issues dominated the elections, but on this side of the Atlantic we have only been focused on three issues: their participation in Iraq, their war on terror, and their foreign relations. That's not fair, but it is reality.

The main reason I feel the fact that the elections went forward constitute one form of victory over the terrorists is because I remember a different Spain, one ruled by Franco. A blood civil war in that country was seen by many as an opening salvo by fascism to extend its grip beyond Germany, and many men and women went to Spain to fight for the loyalists. They were defeated, and some years later another battle between fascism and the forces of democracy was replayed with all of Europe as the battleground.

The success I was looking at - with an admittedly glass half full perspective - was that the elections were not postponed or even cancelled, that the country was not placed under martial law, and that the governing party probably knew they were going to lose yet adhered to the Spanish constitution and the elections went as scheduled.

Those who remember Franco's Spain know what Franco would have done because we remember what he did.

A lot of things about this election weren't fair. It wasn't fair that a people who struggled against fascism and succeeded in restoring their Republic and constitutional monarchy were targeted for death by a group that doesn't believe in adhering to Constitutions.

It wasn't fair to thrust the Spanish people into the international spotlight and have their election be held under world scrutiny so soon after a terrorist attack that killed 200 men, women and children and left over 1500 wounded.

It wasn't fair that we hoped they could see beyond the attack and recognize that they were being manipulated by either al Qaeda, ETA or an as yet unknown group.

It wasn't fair that they had no chance to recover their equilibirium before casting their votes.

It wasn't fair. But, to repeat, it is reality.

The Prime Minister elect, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, does not have a majority government, The Socialist Party apparently having won 148 of the 350 seats in Parliament and 42.07% of the popular vote compared to the the Popular Party's 37.6% (although the CNN story does not mention how many seats they or other parties won.)

One thing I do know is that the new Prime Minister and the Socialist Party will find, as others before them have found, that being in Opposition and sniping from the sidelines is easy, but things look a lot different when you actually have control over and, more importantly, responsibility for the country.

No one can be sure of how future electorates in Western countries will react if (or, more likely, when) placed in a similar position. They will have one advantage over the Spanish, though, because of what happened in Spain - 20/20 hindsight.

And, tangentially, this event proves another axiom: that those who have been deprived of freedom value it the more fiercely. Despite the terrorist attacks in Iraq March 2, the interim constitution was signed.

Will future electorates mirror the Iraqis or the Spanish?

Interesting times.

UPDATES: Mar. 15 07:18: Paul analyzes the elections results and reports a conversation with Alina (yes, she is fine!) and her perspective on why people blame the Partido Popular.

07:46: Tim Blair has a round-up of bloggers' reactions and Andrew Sullivan made an exceptionally apt point.

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

Work beckons

Mar. 14 - Work beckons . . .

Iowahawk had a post on Mar. 12 which noted News You Can Use which is targeted squarely on media coverage of Mar. 11 and a message to Our Brothers in Spain.

It's early yet, but I suspect Let It Bleed, Trudeaupia, Le Blog de Polyscopique and Canadian Comment will be taking a critical look at the Canadian media pundits. (This is in haste so I've probably overlooked some, but see True North blogroll for more CanCom.)

Paul has been posting translations of media accounts from Spain and could use our prayers to sustain him until he hears from Alina.

Robert is following the media accounts from the UK.

We're all watching the Spanish elections today, but need to remember that, whatever the outcome, the fact that they are taking place at all constitutes one victory against terrorism.

Mark Steyn's column with the Chicago Sun Times is up here and today he takes a look at the media handling of the arrest of Susan Lindauer.

I guess I take it for granted that people read Instapundit, Belmont Club, USS Clueless, ScrappleFace and Frank J..

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

Spanish Elections

Mar. 14 - [Note: bumped to top]

01:23: Tape claims al Qaeda responsible for terror attack and Spanish National Police have arrested 5 people, 3 Moroccans and 2 Indians, in connection with Thursday's terrorist attack in Madrid. Another article on yesterday's events here contains this:

The bag that provided the police with vital clues is believed to have been taken from the devastated train during the rescue effort and piled up with abandoned luggage after the blasts.

Station attendants were alerted when a mobile phone alarm went off in the bag. It had been set for 7.39pm, rather than 7.39am as the bombers intended. The 10 bombs that did go off were all detonated by mobile phone timers.

It is believed the mobile in the bag has been linked to another telephone found in a stolen Renault van parked in Alcala, from where the doomed trains left for Madrid. The police were suspicious because the van contained detonators and a tape of Koranic verses.

In some ways, I wish the above details hadn't been released, but maybe it's heartening to remember that even with terrorists, mistakes lead to arrests. In the first WTC attack, one of the conspirators was apprehended when he tried to collect his deposit from the rental company from which he obtained a van.

UPDATE: 08:29: Paul has translated articles from La Vanguardia on the election and investigations into the Madrid attack here, here, here, and here. (They are consecutive posts, so you could link on the first and then click on subsequent posts.)

Better option: Paul has posts organized by categories, so you can read ongoing commentary at Spain which includes tributes to the killing of Spanish intelligence officals in Iraq.

UPDATE: 09:26: Article in today's Sun about the purported al Qaeda tape and documents found on an Arabic language website discovered by Norwegian defence department researchers which discusses attacking Spain right before the elections. One of the documents notes:

"We must make maximum use of the proximity to the elections in Spain in March next year. Spain can stand a maximum of two or three attacks before they will withdraw from Iraq," Norway's VG newspaper reported the documents as saying.

"The fact that they specifically mention the election in Spain makes us have to see this in the light of the action in Madrid, three days before the election," researcher Thomas Hegghammer said.

The documents do not refer to Thursday's attacks in Madrid but outline a strategy to put pressure on Spain, described as the weakest link in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, to stop co-operating with the United States.

Damian makes some very solid comments on the challenges this poses to the Spanish electorate and, in fact, the world.

Interesting op-ed in the today's Daily Telegraph (UK) Spanish Proudly Defiant in the face of terror:

The scenes on the streets of Madrid last night were profoundly impressive. It is a pity that Britain, unlike Italy and France, was not represented by its Prime Minister. The Castilians, like the British, are not given to self-indulgent expressions of emotion; perhaps even the murderers who planned Thursday's outrage will have been taken aback by the white-hot anger they have provoked.


For the Basque extremists also hate Mr Aznar, and for much the same reason as their Islamist counterparts: his unswerving opposition to terrorism, which - unlike that of certain European politicians - is not confined to the realm of rhetoric.

In its dealings with the Basques over the past eight years, Spain's conservative government has achieved something that has eluded Tony Blair in Northern Ireland: it has driven a wedge between the apologists for terror and their natural constituency.

(The DT supports the Conservative Party.) The main point of the editorial is one that more newspapers seem to be recognizing:
Mr Aznar announced yesterday that people from 11 nationalities - mercifully including no Britons - perished in the bombings. That fact, in itself, underlines the wisdom of his belief that, in terms of the threat it poses to the world, terrorism is indivisible.

Eta or al-Qa'eda, alone or together: the identity of the murderers matters less than our ferocious determination not to make the political changes that the murders are intended to effect. Mr Aznar possesses such determination in spades.

Mark Steyn makes a similar argument here and here but with Steynesque prose.

Tim Blair has a post indicating that some others in Europe, notably Norway and France, are finally seeing the light.

Iberian Notes has some observations about the arrests and elections here, here and here.

UPDATE: 0919: More updates from Iberlian Notes here and here. Quoting from the second post: The death toll in the Madrid bombings has reached 200, and the wounded count is at 1511. 266 people are still hospitalized, with 17 in critical condition, 41 in very serious condition, 138 in serious condition, 42 in good condition, and 28 in an undisclosed condition.

UPDATE: 10:00: I found the link I couldn't find at 1 am to the Le Monde editorial that may indicate a shift in the French government over at Gary's website. (Yes, I know I could have just remembered Andrew Sullivan first spotted and translated it. It was at 1 a.m., though.)

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

Attention: Liberal Party

Mar. 14 - Lorrie Goldstein offers 20 simple rules for keeping our votes. They are all excellent (probably because they are simply common sense rules) but this one is most relevant to the over-use of consultative fees:

5) If your main problems are that your nuclear plants are breaking down and your electrical transmission grid desperately needs repair, no amount of consulting advice - whether Liberal or Tory - is going to help you. You need to fix the problem, not get more advice on how to "spin" the problem.
Greg Weston notes that had the government paid attention to Allan Cutler, the whistleblower who alerted those in charge in 1994 that there were worrisome violations in the awarding of public contracts, Adscam and the whole fiasco might have been avoided.

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

Ali Ismail Abbas

Mar. 14 - Everyone remembers Ali Ismail Abbas, the young Iraqi boy who was orphaned and left a multiple amputee by a bombing strike during the Iraq War. Many hearts and wallets opened to try to provide care and hope for this young man, but there are some questions as to whether committments were honoured and how much of the money raised to assist him - if any - has been used for that purpose.

A Canadian doctor, Iraqi-born Dr. Falah Hafuth, is one of those who remained committed to Ali. Nearly a year after the war, Dr. Hafuth has some serious questions and concerns about Ali and how the aid promised him has failed to materialize.

Posted by Debbye at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

UN to investigate its Oil for Food Program

Mar. 14 - A formal announcement is expected next week stating that the UN will conduct inquiry into its Iraq oil-for-food program:

The United Nations has bowed to international pressure to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding its oil-for-food programme, under which Iraqi oil was sold on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The move follows claims that UN officials were caught up in a reward system set up by Saddam, which apparently granted proceeds from the sale of million of barrels of oil to friendly politicians, officials and businessmen around the world.

Iraq's new governing council has hired the accountants KPMG and the international law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to investigate claims that large sums of money - which should have been spent on food and medicine for ordinary Iraqis - were diverted through oil "vouchers" to line pockets abroad.


Mr Hankes-Drielsma [British businessman and former chairman of the management committee at Price Waterhouse accountants] launched the governing council inquiry after Mr Annan offered no response to the documents from the Oil Ministry. KPMG accountants and the Freshfields law firm have been instructed to investigate a list of irregularities including:

UN approval of oil contracts to "non-end users" - middlemen who sold their stake on for a profit.

A standard 10 per cent addition to the value of oil invoices, which generated up to ÂŁ2.2 billion in illegal cash funds for Saddam.

A fee of two per cent, levied on all oil-for-food transactions to allow the UN to inspect all food and medical imports - which does not appear to have been effectively spent since food was rotten and medicines out of date.

The role of Middle Eastern banks, their auditing and their possible suspected connection to Saddam's secret service.

Mr Hankes-Drielsma last night described to The Telegraph three documents on which he said the name of the UN official appeared, and said: "Our report will clarify the details."

One is headed, "Quantity of Oil Allocated and Given to Mr Benon Sevan," and records 1.8 million barrels allocated to Mr Sevan.

Assistant Secretary General Benon Sevan's name appeared on a list purporting to be people who had received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein.

I wish I could think of something suitably gratifying to say but, after agitating and pushing for so long, I'm flat. Go figure.

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

March 13, 2004

Insurrection in Iran

Mar. 13 - Both Damian Penny and Roger Simon are covering the story of an uprising in North Iran.

Nothing on this in the mainstream media yet.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Work Bound

Mar. 13 - I'm off to work, so refer you to the blogroll and, in particular, check out these folks

Bob at Let It Bleed,

The good folks over at Canadian Comment (and note the new url)


Roger Simon

Jaeger at Trudeaupia

Spin Killer,

Laurent at Le Blog de Polyscopique

Anthony at The Meatriarchy and Bill at Eject! Eject! Eject! are working on major projects and may be finished today.

Steven at USS Clueless has an insightful post about the Iraqi intermin constitution and how it compares to the constitutions of the US and EU.

Weather alert: sunny and bitterly cold in Toronto.

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

Spain Defiant

Mar. 13 - Front page of the dead-tree Toronto Sun reads SPAIN DEFIANT - Millions pour into streets to protest terrorist attacks that killed 199.

I know it's a tabloid and tends to be sensationalist, but when it comes to the important issues, the Sun gets it right. And their permalinks last longer than 2 weeks.

The story, Millions rally in Spain, includes the estimate that over 11 million people demonstrated across Spain yesterday.

More Sun coverage about Spain: trains still running, the upcoming election, the the recent reference to Spain in a Bin Laden (?) tape, the Greek request for assistance from NATO to provide security for the Olympics and comparing the numbers of casualties between Sept. 11 and Mar. 11.

Paul lays to rest some misunderstandings about ETA which I wish CNN, the BBC, and the lot of them would freaking read and take to heart.

Iberian Notes posts about the reaction of the Spanish press to the bombings (just keep scrolling and read all the posts) and reports that La Vanguardia is planning to run obituaries for all the victims:

Part of the tragedy here is that the people killed were all solid citizens, among the best and the brightest, family people, people on the train before 8 AM to get to work or school. These were people with prospects, responsible and dedicated people, people who made a difference in the lives of those around them.
Back Seat Drivers also has continuous commentary and makes some pertinent observations on those who used the event to score political shots.

Coverage of the demonstrations yesterday and a summation of who did it in Bombs were Spanish-made explosives and here's something I nearly overlooked when first reading it late last night:

Authorities said they found and safely detonated three more bombs, apparently set on timers to explode later, when rescuers and security forces were on the scene.
Robert continues his excellent coverage of the British press and the necessity to place our lives in the hands of strangers when we use mass transportation systems.

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

Patronage and Adscam

Mar. 13 - More patronage appointees are culled: Michel Vennet, head of the Business Development Bank of Canada was finally, and I do mean finally, fired.

Technically the controversy over Vennet, Beaudoin and the bank are not part of Adscam so belong to an earlier scandal called Shawinigate but I'm not in the mood to distinguish between rats today. The same arrogance and corruption ties these scandals together and I'm going with what they have in common.

Anyone who's been reading Andrew Coyne might be excused for wondering what took them so long when lesser figures were summarily fired for lesser offenses and because I'm suspicious I wonder if they just gave him time to, er, tidy and clean out his files and computer records. As is noted here, they are suddenly reviewing the Governor-General's expenses or are they trying to change the subject?

Politics of diversion? In Canada? Oh, my!

The latest Adscam revelation: even the small amount of money allotted to the Department of Defense was subject to theft:

So far, only one federal employee, civilian director Paul Champagne, has been fired after auditors discovered national defence had paid $160 million for military computer hardware and support services it never received.

The principal company involved, Hewlitt Packard, has said that Steve Bailey, a sales representative who worked with Champagne, is no longer with them.


Tory Cheryl Gallant noted the Financial Administration Act limits the signing authority for public servants to $250,000. "How could one person have signing authority for $160 million?" she asked.

Andrew Coyne has more here and here.

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

March 12, 2004

Attack in Spain

Mar. 12 - Solidarity with our friends in Spain:

UPDATE: 20:00: Don Sensing has some screen shots of today's demonstrations in Madrid. CNN reported earlier than between 7-10 million people turned out in cities across Spain.

UPDATE 18:13: Is the media still failing to understand still that all terrorists are terrorists? That answers itself if you've watched or read the news at all today.

Tim Blair has posted A Sad Postcard From Spain which need to be read, absorbed, and re-read.

Robert echoes their sentiments with a simple suggestion:

Simply go after both ETA and Islamist terrorists.

And, as was said in a different context, "Let God sort them out."

Problem solved.

UPDATE: 15:29: Estimates place those who turned out in Madrid at 2,000,000. There were also affirmations of strength in other Spanish cities including Valencia, Barcelona, and Bilbao, which is the largest city in the Basque region.

And there is this:

Among those attending the rallies in Madrid were Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, European Union President Romano Prodi and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
It. Takes. Time to build a coalition, and there will be challenges other than Iraq as the effort to end terrorism continues.

It was long ago, Sept. 21, 2001, when President Bush spoke these words before the Joint Houses of Congress:

This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world. The United States is grateful that many nations and many international organizations have already responded -- with sympathy and with support. Nations from Latin America, to Asia, to Africa, to Europe, to the Islamic world. Perhaps the NATO Charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an attack on all.

The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror, unanswered, can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments. And you know what -- we're not going to allow it.
I was reminded of these words when I read Gerard Vanderluen's words here:
Terrorists will succeed. Terrorists have succeeded. Terrorists and Terror will continue to thrive and to live ...until... until there is a stark moment of decision that comes to all the people of the Earth that wish to live lives free from terror.

At that moment, we will cease hearing from the current crop of bland pap peddlers such as John Kerry and his ilk about the need to “understand.”

At that moment, we will no longer credit the pundits and columnists who whine and report on the “oppression” and “despair” from which all this springs.

At that moment, we will begin to see very real and immediate demonstrations, on the home soil of every government on Earth that supports these insects, that there will be a heavy at-home price to pay for indulging or promoting the sick mindset of terrorism.

At that moment, there will be an abrupt end to this dilly-dallying discussion of “Who did what to whom when and why and with what,” as if the whole problem were just a night-out at a Clue Party.

At that moment, the war against terrorism will move out its retail phase and go wholesale.

We will win this fight if we remember that right now, our survival renders the intermittent hic-cups in the economy irrelevant. We will win if we remember to keep the aims of this war at the forefront. There have been many distractions (and maybe French-bashing is one of them) but each atrocity serves to remind us that disunity is the friend of our enemy.

What American did not find themselves thrown back to Sept. 11 yesterday as if in a time-loop?

The media tried so hard to keep us on track - the Kerry blooper into a live mike, Tdod Bertzuzi (google avoidance alert), the saga of Matrha Stewatr, employment figures - and they failed. 'Fess up: I'm not the only person who sent furious emails to CNN and demanded they cover the demonstrations today in Spain. This morning and into the afternoon they've been covering the real story, the one over there, and it doesn't make up for their lapse when Bali was bombed but it's a start.

We are at war. The people of the world who live by constitutions and laws and consensual government are at war against those who would impose their rule on us either by fear or conquest and we will not surrender.

13:40: The scenes on TV of the Madrid demonstrations of solidarity with the victims of yesterday's attacks are at once beautiful and sombre. I found myself repeating my pattern of 2-l/1 years ago: turning on CNN every hour (or less) just in case.

As this guest op-ed by Javier Marias (Another Silent Noon in Madrid) demonstrates, though, the Spanish have always made a unified response in the aftermath of terrorist attacks:

The terrorist attacks almost always happen in the early morning. Whether it turns out that yesterday's train-station bombings were the work of the usual suspects — the Basque terrorist group ETA — or of Al Qaeda or another group altogether, the murderers stuck to the usual timetable.

Spain has developed a customary response to these morning attacks. At noon, the local officials in every Spanish city stand outside the doors of their buildings, in heat, cold or rain, for a minute or two of silence. They're joined by anyone who wants to join them, whoever happens to be nearby. It makes a strong impression, this silence of mourning and condemnation, a collective hush maintained by people who interrupt their tasks or their errands to stand wordlessly in the middle of the street. Any curse or outcry against the murderers is usually quieted, because at those moments true condemnation consists of saying nothing. And no matter how many times the tradition has been repeated over the course of far too many years, it loses none of its force.

Unlike the terrorists, I get up late. From my balcony I can see the Ayuntamiento, or city hall, which stands at the heart of the capital. If I'm absorbed in writing, a sudden silence lets me know an attack has happened. Who could it have been? I wonder. Who was it this time? Some poor town councilman who was also a carpenter or the owner of a candy store? A journalist? A soldier? A policeman? A judge? A mother and her children who just happened to be going by when the bomb went off? Perhaps this time it was some firefighters who were helping the first round of victims when a second, delayed bomb mowed them down during their rescue work.

Yesterday, from inside my house, I noticed that strange silence. I went to the balcony and saw the mayor and the entire city council, those from the mayor's party and the opposition, standing in front of the Ayuntamiento in silence. There were many more ordinary people than usual, just standing there. The flags were at half-staff.

"It's happened again," I thought, and wondered who it could have been this time. But yesterday that question had no answer, because for the moment there were only anonymous corpses, more than 190 of them as I write these lines. There were at least 10 bombs altogether, at three Madrid train stations, just when the commuter trains were full of people on their way to work, students on their way to class, sleepy people who had just gotten out of bed.

It is the bloodiest terrorist attack in Spain's history, and it took place only a couple of days before the general elections, the elections we never fail to vote in — at least those of us who lived under Gen. Francisco Franco and yearned to be able to vote at least once in our lives — however little we like the political parties currently on offer.

Eventually we will find out which group was behind this atrocity. But even if the ETA isn't responsible for yesterday's bombings, the attack serves as a reminder that Spain has switched from one dictatorship to another. Indeed, it's quite evident that the ETA misses the Franco era. Back then, it could at least appear to be a "resistance" group. These days, set as it is in a democracy, it cannot.

Moving affirmation that the Spanish hold their democratic ideals dearly.

Posted by Debbye at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

America Stands with Spain

Mar. 12 - Pictures and story at Instapundit of today's expression of mourning and solidarity with Spain at their embassy in D.C.

Posted by Debbye at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 12 - Martin aides tied to scandal:

Aides to Prime Minister Paul Martin have been linked to an advertising firm involved in the sponsorship scandal, according to newly-released documents. Martin's former chief of staff at the finance department, Terrie O'Leary, and a former legislative assistant, Karl Littler, were both identified in documents in which Groupe Everest was awarded a lucrative contract in 1996.

Littler is now Martin's Ontario organizer and O'Leary remains a trusted adviser.

According to this, the commissions were being funnelled to friendly ad agencies in 1994.

The drip, drip, drip as each revelation comes out . . . what will be the ultimate impact on Canadians?

UPDATE: 15:08: The owner of the Auberge Grand-Mere, Yvon Duhaime, which was at the heart of the Shawinigan scandal some years ago, has been charged with arson.

Posted by Debbye at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

Susan Lindauer, Saddam's Agent

Mar. 12 - Susan Lindauer, the Former U.S. Aide Accused of Working With Iraq, has quite a history. She also has quite an ego:

"I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else," she said.
More than anybody? Uh, no.

The NY Times confirms that she is the same woman who asserted that Syria was behind the Lockerbie bombing.

And and there is this:

Ms. Lindauer is the fourth person charged in connection with what officials described as a widening investigation into improper intelligence gathering in the former Iraqi mission in New York City under the Hussein government.

Khalid Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, a Jordanian who lived in the Chicago region and who published Arabic periodicals, has been convicted of conspiring to pass information to Iraqi intelligence officials in New York City before the war, and he is due to be sentenced this month.

In addition, two sons of a former Iraqi diplomat in New York City have been charged with secretly aiding Iraqi intelligence officials. Ms. Lindauer was charged as part of the same indictment as the two brothers, Wisam Noman al-Anbuge and Raed al-Anbuge.

Thomas Nooter, a lawyer for Raed al-Anbuge, said the brothers appeared to have had contact with some of the same Iraqi intelligence agents Ms. Lindauer is accused of contacting. But he said he is aware of no other connections between the two cases, and he suggested that prosecutors had joined the cases only to delay the brothers' trial.

Wrong, Mr. Nooter. Authorities probably delayed the arrest due to Ms. Lindauer's connection to Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun and her campaign in the Democrat presidential candidacy race.

I was tempted to regard her as a nut until I read the Washington Times article which contains a rather chilling paragraph:

According to court papers filed in the case, Miss Lindauer met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Manhattan, N.Y., on Oct. 14 and Oct. 19, 1999, and "accepted a task" from the Iraqi agent.

Under an alias, Miss Lindauer supplied the Iraqis with the location, employment and family status of Iraqi expatriates in the United States, including the son of an Iraqi diplomat, the documents state.
I hope none of those she reported on or their families came to harm under from the former regime.

Posted by Debbye at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

Terrorist Attack in Spain

Mar. 12 - The email address for the Canadian Spanish Embassy is (thanks to Damian.)

The addresses for the Consulate General of Spain in Toronto are 200 Front Street West and 55 Bloor St. West. and their email address is (thanks Bob.)

Glenn Reynolds has posted on how and where to send flowers and condolences to the Spanish Embassy in DC and here is a list of Spanish consulates in the US from a transplanted Canadian living in the SF Bay Area.

The death toll is now at 198. I marvel that I am now two people: one who can type that sentence with detachment and another who took several minutes to get past that sentence. We've been through this before - Sept. 11, Oct. 12, March 2 - and it hasn't gotten any the easier.

No. We won't learn to shrug and be worldly, sophisticated or nuanced about arocities. We will be horrified, grieved and furious each and every time. The Spanish people were stunned yesterday; today they will mourn and defy the terrorists; Sunday they will vote. Because that is what we do. We stare down the terrorists by re-affirming who and what we are. We stand up and shout "NO!"

James Lileks in today's Bleat hit on the substance:

When I heard the Spanish PM's address to his nation, I was struck by a repeated mention of "The Constitution." Spain has one. So does Iraq. Spain was a fascist nation. So was Iraq.

The appeal to a document is more than a nod to flowery words on expensive paper; it's an appeal to a shared idea, a concept of justice that resides in natural law, a notion of civil society that derives its legitimacy from the assent of the governed, not the dictates of generals.

Read the whole thing, and follow the link to PM Aznar's speech yesterday. An excerpt:
We're on the Constitution's side. It's the pact of almost all Spaniards that guarantees the liberties and rights of all. It's also the great accord over our political regime, and it's the expression of our united and plural Spain. We won't change our regime neither because they kill nor for them to stop killing.

That's why I tell all Spaniards that we shouldn't aspire to anything else less than the complete defeat of terrorism, its complete and total defeat, its unconditional surrender.

He called upon the Spanish to demonstrate against terrorism under the slogan "With the victims, with the Constitution, for the defeat of terrorism."

The elections will happen on Sunday. The city elections happened after a brief delay in New York. The constitution in Iraq was signed after a brief delay. Rule by Constitution will remain the benchmark of civilization, and those who would disrupt that will fail.

Those who don't see the connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism don't understand the moral underpinnings of rule by constitutions as opposed to rule by caprice.

Those who don't understand why countries which were under fascists heels - Italy and Spain - were forthright in their support of the war in Iraq cannot hope to understand the rightness of the ongoing struggle against fascism.

Both CNN and CBC Newsworld are again treating the terrorist attacks in Madrid as their top story early this morning (as opposed to the fluff they served up last night.)

Christianne Amanpour reported having similar feelings as she had Sept. 11 upon seeing the outpouring of sorrow - the spontaneous shrines that have sprung up with candles, flowers and verses. She's still behind the curve: had she read any blogs yesterday she and CNN might have caught up sooner.

As many others have posted: Now we are all Spanish. It's not the first time that we have felt this solidarity with Spain as we remember the terrorist attacks their forces suffered in Iraq. We have also felt solidarity with Australia, Poland, Italy, the UK, Bulgaria, and the other countries that have stood with us there and around the world.

How odd that, whereas the transnationalists talk about it, we feel it. We feel this solidarity that allows us to cry when we see the images of train cars twisted and bent out of recognizable shape or the frantic digging in a mass grave in Iraq or the horror on faces in Israel after a bomb destroys a pizza parlour. And we feel it all the more strongly because we understand the nationalism within ourselves, not in the chauvinist sense but in the unifying sense that pride, love and affection for one's country and fellow citizens may be accompanied with a wry smile but becomes fierce when attacked.

Enough of my thoughts.

The timeline demonstrates that the 10 bombs went off within a 13 minute period.

Expat Yank has the latest news reports and analysis from the UK and a sleepless Paul is translating news reports from Spain into English.

This BBC report finally addresses the scenario that I think has been playing in the back of most of our minds:

The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, says the nightmare scenario for Spain would be a collaboration between Islamic and Basque groups.

He says recent events in Iraq have shown how different groups can work together in a common cause.

IRA collaboration with Palestinian and Columbian terrorist groups preceeds Iraq and that fact had probably led intelligence services to examine the possbility long before yesterday's events.

Bin Laden previously made the 15th century expulsion of the Moors from Spain his cause and called upon his followers to seek to reclaim the country. The blasts in Morrocco last year were by a Spanish restaurant. Do we need to help the memories of the media? It's probably useless anyway.

The Spanish government has asked the Israeli's to assist in the investigation, which increased my respect for them even more. There was a nice sub-textual message in that request.

We are all in this together.

Posted by Debbye at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2004

Terrorist Attack in Spain

Mar. 11 - I'll keep adding links as I locate them and updating in reverse order so the latest will be on top. I'll also change the time on the post to keep it on top.

UPDATE: 20:29: The Dissident Frogman has captured my thoughts and, I suspect, that of many others in his post Terror? No:

It's a determined combination of burning rage and cold fury.

My first thoughts for Spain, at the end of this bloody day, are strictly identical to those I had for the USA in the evening of 9/11.

At least 190 dead now.
Bury and mourn them.

At least 1240 wounded now.
Dress their wounds.

And then, hunt the enemy down, whoever and wherever they are. Hunt them down relentlessly. Never give up. Not now, not in ten years, never. Hunt them and terminate them. All of them.

You can't give up, and you have at least 1430 good reasons for that now. (Bold and italics in original.)

UPDATE: 19:47: I'm too tired to do precision math, but Burnside says it' been 911 days since 911 and that seems about right. This update from CNN is somewhat inconclusive as to who is to blame for this morning's horror in Madrid.

UPDATE: 17:00: The death toll is over 192. Paul is finally online, and consider it required reading. Send you best thoughts and wishes to him as he tries to track down a good friend in Madrid, and Nick has extremely relevant memories and thoughts.

Robert of Expat Yank is tracking the news as it appears in the British media and has heard more details from the communication to the London newspaper than I've seen thus far.

This is so grievious, and so full of anger and horror. If those bastards think they are going to scare people into submission they picked the wrong human race.

UPDATE: 16:37: According to this from Australia, London's Arabic-language daily Al Quds Al-Arabi has received a letter purporting to be from al Qaeda in which they take responsibility for the Madrid bombing.

The group, calling itself The Brigade of Abu Hafs Al-Masri, said it was acting in the name of al-Qaeda in a letter to London's Arabic-language daily Al Quds Al-Arabi.

It said one of its "death squads" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain".

UPDATE: 15:07: The possibility of an al Qaeda link isn't so remote. My eldest just reminded me that Zawahiri mentioned Spain in the latest tape, and there's been a discovery of detonators and a tape in Arabic. Fox link here.

UPDATE 10:39: The death toll has gone over 180. I found Inside Europe: Ibernian Notes and Back Seat Drivers through Instapundit. They seem to be updating and tracking the developments in a very timely fashion. It must be hard, and I doubt I'm the only one having flashbacks to events 2-1/2 years ago.

Iberian Notes makes the point that those news media which identify the ETA as a "separatist group" are inaccurate as there are many people who agitate for separation but do not support terrorism. Seems another instance wherein trying appear balanced and even-handed means spreading misinformation.

09:50: Some early links here and here. CNN TV is doing a fairly credible job of reporting this terrorist attack as is the CBC (they even broadcasted a statement by PM Aznar.)

ETA is denying responsibility for the attack and says it was done by "Arab resistance," and I can't help thinking of recent reports that France was inspecting every inch of their railroad tracks due to threats from an unknown group.

Spain is a coalition partner in Iraq and has had numerous arrests and prosecution of of al Qaeda suspects there.

Today's March 11.

I can't justify the feeling I have but I think there is something here that requires more open-minded investigation.

Posted by Debbye at 03:07 PM | Comments (1)

UN Oil for Food Program - Essential Links

Mar. 11 - This is going to be a tour because there's a fair amount out today about the UN Oil for Food Program.

Start here for the opening scene.

Now a September, 2002, a Wall Street Journal piece on the Oil for Food Program Kofi Annandersen by Claudia Rossett and her April, 2003, NY Times piece Oil, Food and a Whole Lot of Questions.

Now it's finally March 11, 2004, and there's Kojo and Kofi by Claudia Rosett in the National Review and and article by Therese Raphael in the Wall Street Journal The Oil-for-Food Scandal.

Kofi Annan's son? WTF?

Canada: Adscam meets the man who signed off on the vouchers for the Oil for Food Program. Well, no, but here we are in the midst of a huge scandal about unaccountability by bureaucrats and the Toronto Star highlights segments of Kofi Annan's speech to Parliament here with all the adulation worthy of the Second Coming. And there's this opening remark:

It is often said that "all politics is local." Yet in our globalized age, local events are connected, in a myriad of ways, with situations far afield.
I'm probably interpreting that in a far different way than the Star intended.

Finally, because he has been unrelenting and deserves the final word, Kojo, Kofi & Kerry by Roger L. Simon.

I can't comment rationally on this right now. Events in Madrid are bring back some horrible memories and my heart is breaking at how Spaniards are going through scenes only too similar to those we remember - haunting hospitals and make-shift morgues looking for loved ones, and trying to comprehend the horror.

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

Susan Lindauer, Saddam's Agent

Mar. 11 - One Susan Lindauer has been arrested and charged with spying for Iraq (American charged with spying for Iraq.) She is 41 and was arrested in her home town of Takoma Park, Md. Few details about her have been made available.

When in doubt, google: according to this July 2000 Middle East Intelligence bulletin on the Lockerbie investigation:

Last month, MEIB reported that Dr. Richard Fuisz, a major CIA operative in Syria during the 1980s, met with a congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer in 1994 and told her that that the perpetrators of the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland were based in Syria [see "The Lockerbie Bombing Trial: Is Libya Being Framed?" Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, June 2000]. One month after their meeting, the Clinton administration, which holds Libya responsible for the bombing, placed a gag order on Dr. Fuisz to prevent him from publicly discussing the issue.
The December, 1998, deposition made by Susan Lindauer is in the post (although there is no way to verify this.) The deposition advances the theory that Syria, not Libya, was responsible for the bombing of Flight 103 with the intention of striking at US drug agents for disrupting the flow of heroin from Lebanon.

This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald also on the issue of who was responsible for Lockerbie.

According to this next piece from the Daily Egyptian, a Susan Lindauer is a spokeswoman for Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (Ill.). The article would have appeared in April, 1996.

Obviously, I don't know if the woman who was arrested for spying is the same as either or both articles, but both articles do refer to a Congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer.

There will probably be a lot of speculation and theorizing about this should the woman arrested prove to be the same congressional aide noted in the 3 google links. That isn't intentional sarcasm, but is undeniably an understatement.

UPDATE: 13:08 CNN has expanded the story from the measly 3 paragraphs that first appeared and are using the same link. Maybe there will be more information included by the day's end.

UPDATE: 15:05 CNN just identified the arrest woman as having been a congressional aide for two legislators (they didn't mention names) and had worked for two news publications. Googling rules.

UPDATE: 1519: Commenter Sammie found another place when Susan Lindauer's name appears:
Signers of the Peace Pledge. Her name appears under Maryland.

UPDATE: 22:11 Instapundit has more links on Susan Lindauer here and here. The other Congressmen she worked for were Ron Wyden and Peter DeFazio

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

Syria Accountability Act

Mar. 11 - Pursuant to the passage of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, President Bush is required to decide on which two additional sanctions listed in the act will be chosen.

According to this story from CNN, U.S. to hit Syria with sanctions, economic rather than diplomatic sanctions will be imposed and that it's unlikely that components for aviation or communications equipment related to telephones or the internet will be banned.

This reports on a human rights demonstration organized by the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria in which at least 30 people were arrested for conducting a sit-in before the Parliament Building in Damascus.

It was held on the 41st anniversary of the day the Ba'athists seized power. They declared Syria to be in a state of emergency and the laws they passed to deal with that emergency still are in place.

About 20 minutes into the protest, the main organiser, Aktham Naisse, was detained along with several others.

A Paris-based spokesman for the protest's organisers told Arabic television station al-Jazeera that the campaign for reform was a purely domestic issue for Syria.

"We categorically refuse any foreign pressure, particularly the US pressure [for action against Syria] which we condemn," Ghayyath Naisse said.

"At the same time, we do not believe that the call for reform, which was initiated three years ago, should be disregarded."

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

March 10, 2004


Mar. 10 - They even stole from the Boy Scouts? The Scouts in Quebec, L'Association des Scouts du Canada, asked for $250,000 to assist in funding a Boy Scout Milllennium Jamboree and received it, but the Public Works website states the amount contributed was $600,000.

The case joins 720 other files that will come under scrutiny as special counsel André Gauthier seeks to recover sponsorship funds misspent between 1997 and 2001.
Misspent funds. Gotta love the spin!

Groupaction Strategic Communications handled the transaction.

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

Margolis and Kerry . . .

Mar. 10 - Bob lets rip with an excellent fisking of Eric Margolis who's adoration of Sen. Kerry is almost frightening in Margolis and Kerry, Sittin' in a Tree.... Heh.

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

Protest Warriors

Mar. 10 - Caught this at Canadian Comment (note new url) and followed it over to Le Blog de Polyscopique (it's an alphabetical thing). Read both posts and cheer.

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

Copps Out, Parrish In

Mar. 10 - Allegations of wrong-doing are coming so fast and furious that it's hard to know when to laugh and when to pause and consider that, much as one (okay, I) may dislike Sheila Copps, there may well be something very wrong going on here. I won't summarize because it's worth reading the accusations she's made that caused the Mounties to be called in by Copps and reading this gave me some more bothersome thoughts about right and wrong.

Both Sheila Copps and Carolyn Parrish are standing Members of Parliament, and they have had to fight to retain the nominations of their ridings (the Canadian equivalent to districts) due to re-districting (so to speak) for the as yet uncalled national election.

See the Parish-Mahoney and Copps-Valeri skirmish round-ups for a summation of some of the dirty deeds (and there are probably enough childish accusations on both sides to make you do the laugh-cry thing) and then look at this account which suggests that PM Paul Martin's desire to tighten his grip on Parliament by controlling who can run might be a credible theory even though he's also the one who gave a name to and promised to address the democratic deficit.

Is he the party leader or the party ruler?

Granted, each of the two MPs has stuck her foot in her mouth on more than one occasion and each might be considered embarassing to her party if not the nation. In short, not too many people would be that sorry to see them depart the national political stage. But.

I'm remembering that purges often start with the least defensible members so that people (who should know better) are generally so relieved to see the irritants go that they don't worry overly on the hows of the matter. Then the purge of less irritable but independent-minded types begins. So when do you decide that it's better to hang together than hang separately?

This isn't only about the Liberal Party, because it would seem irregularities in voters lists cross party lines.

It would be easier if I just declared that they all deserve to be turfed because they suffer from Condit Syndrome, the name I just made up for someone who exhibited supreme stupidity as in continuing to fool around with an intern even after the Clinton unpleasantness, or, in this case, someone who hasn't figured out that the press smells blood and is avidly chasing any and every story that might lead to a scandal.

I was going to link yet another Coyne post but this is getting silly, so just link to Andrew Coyne and read it daily (he seems to like running a blog as his posts are becoming more frequent during the day and he even apologized when he went several hours without posting. Hey, I do believe he's got the blog bug!)

UPDATE: Ugh, read this analysis of Putin courtesey of Bob (I'm hardly suggesting that Martin is quite that bad but some of the signs are worrying.)

UPDATE: I was checking the British press for information of the train bombings in Madrid and ran across another perspective of Putin here. One quote:

Yuri Levada, a veteran political analyst, described him as a "president of hope, not achievement".

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

United Nations University for Peace

Mar. 10 -

OTTAWA -- A United Nations University for Peace campus is set to be built on the city's waterfront. Liberal MP Dennis Mills was given the thumbs up from Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday to move ahead with his plans to bring the campus to Toronto.

After a historic speech to a special joint parliamentary session, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was introduced to Mills by the PM as the man who would make the university a reality for Toronto.

"It is unbelievable," Mills said. "It is the most amazing thing: United Nations Peace University comes to Toronto's waterfront."

Will the students' cars be liable to be towed? Can they be arrested for shoplifting? Will there be rapid-fire weapons cached in the basement?

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

Kofi Annan Visits Canada

Mar. 10 - Two articles about Annan's visit: Annan tells us: 'Aim higher' (that's "us" Canada, not "us" US - he wouldn't dare say that to "us" US because he knows we're crazy) and Agonized voices of Iraq scrupulously ignored: UN rarely acts - instead, it talks.

Mark did a lot of yelling about the Oil for Palaces Food Program (like, thoughout dinner and the news) but I figure you already know about the program and the illegal pipelines to UNSC member Syria.

Posted by Debbye at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

Maher Arar

Mar. 10 - I don't quite understand why anyone would be "startled" about this: New twist in Arar case when Ottawa Police Chief Vince Bevan revealed that they cooperated with the RCMP in investigating Arar.

This, however, was startling: Monia Mazigh, Arar's wife, will run as an NDP candidate to represent the Ottawa South riding in the as yet uncalled election.

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

Civil War on West Bank

Mar. 10 - Aw, terrorists groups are trying to establish their turfs without more violence: Hamas seeks a deal although Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin didn't come right out and say that Hamas wants to stake out their claim too.

First the expert analysts and now even the press figured out that without Israeli targets troops to keep order a civil war is brewing.

Posted by Debbye at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

Abu Abbas

Mar. 10 - Didn't take long for the accusation that we killed poor little Abu Abbas (although I had a bet riding that it would be made sooner.) Choice quote:

"It's poetic justice," said Ra'anan Gissin, a top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "He started as a terrorist in Iraq, he was brought to justice in an Iraqi prison under U.S. control, and he'll be buried in Iraq."
Actually, the place he'll be buried hasn't been made public as of yet, but the sentiment is quote-worthy. We'll probably turn his body over to the PA because it's the right thing to do so there's only a small window for indulging in fantasies.

I'm having very unworthy thoughts of a commander (under protest) ordering those dispatched to turn the body over to the PA not to fly over the Mediterranean.

Link lifted enthusiastically from Paul.

Posted by Debbye at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2004


Mar. 9 - Kathy has 3 links to the events of International Women's Day in Iran as well as an analysis of how women's rights there have been eroded here. There's a nice summation of Christianne Amanpour in the first one, and given that CNN already kept the truth about Iraq to themselves under the Saddam regime, I'm not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt in their failure to report much of what's happening in Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

Victor Davis Hanson

Mar. 9 - My favourite war historian has his own website - Victor Davis Hanson. Hooray! No more waiting until Friday . . .

(Via Damian Penny.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

Abu Abbas Dies

Mar. 9 - The mastermind of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro has reportedly died of natural causes in Iraq. American officials there have not confirmed the report.

American wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, 69, was shot and thrown overboard with his wheelchair during the hijacking for the crime of being Jewish.

Mohammed Abbas had been given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein despite the international warrants for his arrest and many of us cheered when he was apprehended by American troops.

No terrorists in Iraq? God willing, we will eventually be able to say that.

UPDATE: Reuters is also carrying the report. I believe the report erred in two facts, however; the US never waived its right to prosecute Abbas although Israel did. Furthermore, there is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

Posted by Debbye at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

Kofi Annan in Canada

Mar. 9 - Kofi Annan spoke before the Canadian parliament (Canada is a pillar of the UN, Annan says) and at a banquet held in his honour.

UPDATE: Jaeger has much more on the Annan visit here (Ctrl+F "Kofi comes to Ottawa")

Posted by Debbye at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

North Korea

Mar. 9 - North Korea has put up more obstacles which may derail the upcoming multilateral talks. They are now linking the withdrawal of US troops to S. Korea to a settlement (totally overlooking the fact that when we began to withdraw troops earlier they accused of doing so in readiness for an attack on them) and stating that it is unrealistic for the US to expect them to disarm (which I happen to agree with although for different reasons.)

U.S. insistence that North Korea "completely, verifiably and irreversibly" begin dismantling its nuclear programs before receiving concessions was a key sticking point in last month's six-nation talks aimed at brokering a deal.
Indeed, as the last deal brokered went so well with both sides honouring the pact.
The talks bogged down over differences about what nuclear projects would be subject to being dismantled and how that would be verified. They ended without a major breakthrough.

North Korea blamed the outcome on an "unrealistic old assertion that the DPRK should scrap its nuclear program first," adding that a change in "U.S. attitude is a prerequisite to the settlement."

Thank you, Sen. Kerry, for giving N. Korea reason to dither and delay in hopes of a better attitude achieving a more lucrative settlement for them.

Nothing to see here, folks, at least until after November.

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


Mar. 9 - According to the Washington Times, an unnamed State Dept. spokesman said that after the plane carrying former Haitian president Aristide was already in the air, they learned that S. Africa refused to take Aristide at least until after the elections there. There's a bit of a he said he said thing happening, but it does raise some questions in the context of the story that Paul covered when Mbecki joined with Caricom in denouncing Aristide's "forcible removal" from Haiti.

Posted by Debbye at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

Adscam and Tall ships

Mar. 9 - Tall ships like Bluenose II have graced the waters of Lake Ontario and San Fransisco Bay and never failed to fill me with awe. The masts towering above the San Fransisco fog seemed to reach into heaven itself, and the sailors scrambling atop to the crows' nests defied both gravity and fear.

Does everyone have a pet heritage project that, when stung, makes them madder than reason would dictate? Count me as one who is more than furious that Bluenose II was victimized in the Adscam sting: out of $2.3M allotted, only $359,000 was received by the trust that oversees the schooner. Lefleur Communications was supposed to handle the transaction.

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


Mar. 9 - Allan Cutler, who was fired (and fought to retain his job) after he filed a complaint in 1996 about the questionable handling of the sponsorship program has been guaranteed that he will keep his job when he testifies Thursday on before the Commons public accounts committee on who knew what and when about Adscam.

Maybe the real scandal is this:

Public Works called in a private auditing firm to probe Cutler's complaint in 1996 but both Cutler's concerns and the audit were kept secret by the Liberal government until they were unveiled by senior public servants testifying at the committee last week.

I'm never going to be able to wrap my brain around this aspect of Adscam. It must have been apparent to whomever was in charge of this thing back in 1996 that the truth was going to come out, but if a conscious decision was made to sit on the truth for as long as possible, I have to wonder why? and who benefitted? The too obvious answer is Chretien, but that doesn't really make sense either as he could face criminal prosecution (unless PM Martin pulls a Ford and pardons him before any charges are laid. Would that pig fly?)

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

Do the Right Thing

Mar. 9 - There was some ugliness at Burnhamthorpe CI yesterday (3 Thugs invade school) but this is the part that leapt out at me:

Students tried to break up the fight but not before the victim was bruised and beaten.
Looks like the kids know what's right even if the school board has dopey zero tolerance rules.

I've noticed more stories about bystanders intervening to stop beatings, muggings and purse snatchers. I don't know if it is really a post-Flight 93 thing or if the media is just covering it more, but I welcome it.

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

Interesting Links

Mar. 9 - Some interesting links:

Paul has a new Mugabe Watch item that makes for hard reading about the abuses endured by girls Inside Mugabe's Camps of Horrors.

Ith firmly debunks those who, as "Families of Sept. 11," denounced the visuals of the devastation after the attack used by the Bush ads and guess what! There's a money trail straight back to the Kerrys. (And Glenn Reynolds has more links to the issue here.)

Kathy is tired of "-gate" being affixed to every scandal and links to an article that suggests the internal memos of the Democrats reveal the delays on approving judicial nominations were a deliberate obstruction of justice.

Jen has some news for the Saudi clerics who've issued a fatwa forbidding the faithful from watching or listening to the new US television station Al-Hurra because she knows human nature!

Rita links to a speech to the Senate that proves that Sen. Joe Lieberman has remained firm and true to his principles:

We cannot allow a singular quest for electoral victory to impede the more important quest for victory over terrorism, a victory that will enable the American people to feel fully secure again here at home, our soldiers to return from Iraq and the Iraqi people to enjoy the blessings of liberty which it is America's historic mission to advance and defend.

As important as our party's victory is for each of us, it is not more important than a victory against terrorism for all of us.

Andrea Harris is sick of the pretzel language we're stuck with and asks "Is it just me, or does the new habit of using the words "female" and "male" where the words "man" or "woman" used to be used grate on the ears of others than myself?"

The Essay doesn't suffer foolish salesmen gladly.

Roger L. Simon takes note of an International Women's Day parade in Iran that was attacked by regime forces.

Posted by Debbye at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2004

Canadians and Americans

Mar. 8 - Peter Worthington cuts to the heart of the matter amidst the recent uproar over revelations by Abdurahman Khadr that indeed the Khadr family did knowingly and joyfully provide support - including from money provided by the Canadian government and citizens - to al Qaeda, and that he himself rejected Al Qaeda and worked with the CIA to infiltrate and expose al Qaeda in Bosnia.

For a profession that claims to have a monopoly on truth, the media hasn't been very happy with it. Maybe they just fail to understand the truth about truth: for you shall know the truth, and the Truth must set him free:

We should be treating this guy as a patriot -- someone who risked his life to do the right thing. Instead, he's viewed as a traitor or pariah -- certainly by his family.
The point Worthington makes can be extended to the Canadian media as well. Which is the worse sin: collaborating with the CIA to bring al Qaeda down, or being involved with al Qaeda? Dollars to donuts, the thing that sticks in much of the Canadian media craw most is Abdurahman Khadr's association with the CIA because their hatred for the US is so implacable that they can no longer look at and analyze events but merely react with excess emotion and fury.

There was a shift in the Canadian media and politics after Sept. 11. Usually subtle anti-Americanism leapt from media heads fully grown and ready for the kill. There was just one problem: we didn't wallow in wondering why they hate us and that was, for outlets like the CBC and Toronto Star, more damning than the actual state of war we found ourselves in, and our decision to fight back was seen as a bigger outrage than the terrorist attacks themselves.

There was a counter-reaction as well. Some of the media recognized the global threat of terrorism and the threat from within that knee-jerk anti-Americanism enabled, and they along with many Canadians became more vocal in their support of the US-led fight on terrorism.

Has the US polarized world opinion? No, the reactions of the world to what has been set in motion has done the polarizing. Those of us from the 60's who left the 60's behind recognize the make the victim the criminal ploy quite clearly because familiarity makes it easier to discern.

The Canadian government in the person of Jean Chretien responded with - silence. Eventually, many Canadians looked south for leadership and found it in the person of President George W. Bush. That infuriated much of the media, but their anger should have targeted the Canadian government's silence rather than the man who filled the vacuum as a leader who voiced hope and confidence.

The Canadian people were deprived of Canadian leadership, and the fault should not be laid at the feet of GWB but on the feckless Liberal Party which refused to lead.

The Canadian media ignored the 2002 attack in Bali just as much as their counterparts in the US. That indifference was a major red flag for those of us who were already critical of the media because they were ignoring a blatant attack on a Commonwealth country - which should have had resonance in Canada - as well as a firm ally of the US.

Why would they ignore it? It should have been a major story, but was treated with less attention than the DC sniper and later with the Laci Peterson and Martha Stewart cases (as well as the Winona Ryder case, the Robert Blake case, the Michael Jackson case, the Super Bowl half-time Wardrobe Malfunction, and well, you get the idea.)

CNN often leads a story off with the phrase "Most Americans are unaware that . . ." and I yell with frustration because, if indeed most Americans are unaware of something, it's because the news media doesn't inform us! How can it be our fault if those we trust to inform us chose not to do so? The answer is that we no longer trust them, and the joke is that they don't realize it.

Enter the blogs. The number of blogs grows daily, and more and more people are accessing the internet for news across their nations and around the world. One thing all sides agree on is that their distrust of the big news media is absolute.

The quest for truth is as old as curiosity. As Captain John Sheridan said, You can't kill the truth; well, you can, but it always comes back to haunt you. Eason Jordan and CNN killed the truth in Iraq before the war, and nobody has forgotten or forgiven that. And that's the one we know about - what about the others?

Today's Globe and Mail has a column by Lysiane Gagnon that unwittingly exemplifies why Canada is an uncertain ally but Canadians aren't. She says in Canadians relate to Democrats:

I'm sure most Canadians will be rooting for John F. Kerry during the tough fight he will have with George W. Bush. The latter is especially hated for his foolish war in Iraq, but even in a time of peace, Canadians feel more at ease with the Democrats for the obvious reason that in Canada, the political spectrum is much further to the left. (Emphasis added)
The opening assumption in this column is quite wild, and her expressed hope that Canadians will be rooting for Kerry is based on an unstated truth: the recent primary returns marked one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent US primary history. Democrats stayed home rather than vote for any of the candidates, and she has persuaded herself that Canadians are like American Democrats? The uncomfortable and unstated truth in this assertion is that Canadians also have been staying away from the polls, perhaps because Canadians, like Democrats, don't perceive that there has been a positive alternative to the status quo in past elections.

That Gagnon employed emotion-laden terms like hatred and foolish is not evidence of journalism but of unadulterated and vicious propaganda, yet an observer would wonder why she indulges in this so openly. If everyone in Canada agrees with her assessment, why beat it into the ground?

The Liberal government of Canada is staggering under non-stop revelations of mis-spending at best and corruption at worst and what is supposed to be the focus of Canadians? The US presidential elections.

That tactic has a lot of names: red herring, politics by distraction, carpet bagging. This tactic has worked well in recent times, but that was before the recent Auditor-General's report that showed the Adscam crisis was worse than anticipated and that spending by government appointees is so carefree because the Canadian tax-payers who foot this extravagance are helpless to stop it. This tactic also worked better before the accusations against the Khadr family were proven to be correct. What's a poor columnist to do?

When in trouble, attack. It doesn't have to be on any real issues, just write so as to hopefully make Canadians smile and remember how superior they are. But as with many tactics, over-use has its limitations, and this one may finally have met its expiration date.

How Canadians respond to these scandals whenever the much-anticipated election is called will be very telling and establish if Canada is truly a sovereign nation or composed of citizens who can't bear the inadequacies and corruption of their own government but, rather than confront it, flee the reality of the Canadian political landscape to immerse themselves in American politics which is one are in which they full of opinions but have no power. Yet by choosing to escape the horror that is Ottawa, don't they sidestep their own complicity in allowing it to continue unchallenged and unabated? How does that square with sovereignty?

I suspect the anti-American card will be played both subtly and flagrantly in the upcoming election. The Conservative Party will be portrayed as one pandering to American interests and the Liberal and NDP Parties as those bravely and courageously standing against the dreaded Americans and the sub-text will be Hey, so the Liberals are liars and thieves! But they stand between us and being Americanized.

How does that square with choosing the government that will best deal with Canadian issues? It doesn't, of course.

At the same time there will be accusations that the Americans aren't paying attention to the election up here whilst never conceding that, because it's an internal Canadian matter, Americans believe it would be rude to get overly involved in the domestic matters of a friendly sovereign nation.

In my angrier moments up here, I have wished that the American media would take the gloves off and attack things Canadian as viciously as Canadian publications attack the US generally and GWB specifically. I wish that Canadians would be treated to the same appalling, personal attacks on Paul Martin as I suffer when the media attacks my president.

I desist, however, because I've lived here too long to know the Cult of Canadian Victimology. Far too many wouldn't recognize that the same tactics are being turned back on them but would wail and bemoan how Americans Don't Respect Them. The capacity for self-delusion in the Canadian media is a bottomless pit of wallowing in shallow sentiment and perpetual indignation yet never addresses the primary question: why should Americans respect Canada?

The answer to what Canadians believe about their strength and future will be revealed whenever the new Canadian government is chosen. If the Liberals are returned to a majority government, it will be seen in part to be due to the success of fear-mongering and paranoia that somehow a Conservative majority can roll back social gains (which in itself indicates total ignorance of the limits of government) and the successful playing of the anti-American card. If they are turfed, then it will be due to the willingness of Canadians to demand more accountability and respect from their government.

The US and relations with the US shouldn't have any real impact of Canadian elections. No elected government up here is actually going to scrap NAFTA despite the rhetoric, and trade is a far more persuasive diplomatic tool than visits to the Crawford Ranch.

No, the real issues in a Canadian election will be completely Canadian, and the electorate here will be quite right if they manage to keep their candidates on topic.

Eleanor Roosevelt once commented that you can't be made to feel inferior without your cooperation. In the case of Canada, it is not cooperation so much as collusion: the media up here won't let go of the American card and focus on Canada exclusively in Canadian terms, but much of the electorate is tired of that tactic especially when they look at the extent to which government spending has gotten out of control due to the failure to admit that Canadians too are liable to be corrupted when the means present themselves.

The concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office and exclusion of Parliament as the rightful wielder of that power is also a failure to realize that power corrupts and another concern for those who would reform the system. How directly will that issue be confronted?

The hard part is that no matter who or which party is in power, the promise to dismantle the patronage system deprives them of the means to secure power in that they have fewer rewards with which to offer those who support them.

In the Unites States, it took the assassination of a president - McKinley - to finally begin to reform the civil service and reform is still ongoing. What it will take in Canada is anyone's guess, but it is possible that Adscam is the final straw.

In short, if Canadians show some respect for themselves, Americans will reciprocate. If Canadians prefer a government proven to be corrupt, then there won't be a lot of stated and printed ridicule (excluding that from bloggers) but the general consensus south of the border is that Canadians are hopeless - in both senses of that word.

The Canadian media, of course, faces another daunting task when GWB wins: how to reconcile how they can hate the president so viciously without coming out and admitting the truth: they hate America. Of course they hope Kerry wins - that hope is born out of desperation because they have been backing themselves into a corner for 4 years and there is no escape unless the American electorate validates the views of the Canadian media. (Some might think it more relevant that the Canadian electorate validate the Canadian media, but that overlooks that what the media up here desires most is American approval.)

(As for what Canadians think of Bush: I don't care. I don't mean that in disrespectful terms but I am being honest: the future of Canada is in their hands, and the future of the US is in our hands. That's a weighty enough burden for both electorates should they chose to accept that responsibility.)

The reaction up here to the revelations of Abdurahman Khadr which revealed how deeply the Khadr family were involved in al Qaeda have failed to address the most critical flaw in some of the Canadian media: their defense of the Khadr family and the outcries over the "Toronto Teen" - another Khadr family member - imprisoned at Guantanamo were unabashedly set in the context of anti-Americanism, but now they are enraged that they were played for fools: yet whose fault is that? They failed a basic tenet of journalism, which is to pursue the truth rather than an agenda, and that the Khadr family should play on that weakness was predictable to anyone with an ounce of common sense.

So, in another unintentional context, Lysiane Gagnon is right: the one challenge that both Americans and Canadians must face is their capability to judge candidates on the sole basis of the issues.

I see in today's news that Pres. Chavez of Venezuela is also accusing us of being behind his troubles without acknowledging the possibility that they might be self-inflicted. He's playing the oil card too, and although there are probably many relieved to have yet another It's all about the oil issue to sink their teeth into, should events in Venezuela break into open civil war, will the UN asks us to go in and restore order in Venezuela?

The truth that sets us free is usually found within us. We must recognize that our desire to retreat to times and places of seeming comfort and security is delusional because those times and places never existed. We Americans were determined to ignore the truth as was evident in our non-reactions to the first bombing of the WTC, the attacks on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the thwarted millennium attacks, and the successful attack on the USS Cole. Those who chose to blame the Clinton administration are overlooking our own complicity because we didn't make it a campaign issue in 2000.

Those who chose to blame the Bush administration for not rallying Old Europe and Canada to our cause in Iraq are also delusional: those nations were opposed to regime change, and ridding Iraq of Saddam could only be accomplished with a coalition that shared that goal. In what possible way were we weakened by not having uncertain allies? If your ally isn't going to watch your back, you are much better off leaving him at home. That's a truth that anyone who plays computer RPGs (role playing games) knows (along with an excellent appreciation for building up one's hit points and having a diversity of weapons for use in different situations and against different enemies) and that means that our kids understand the basics of military strategy better than many of us.

Sometimes we play Risk and sometimes we play Diplomacy, but playing Diplomacy with proven enemies and without the willingness to use the military option usually results long, fruitless talks (unless you can bribe your enemies outright, but any agreement under those circumstances lasts only until the money runs out.)

Yet things change, and usually these changes are not heralded with major announcements but by attention to events. A critical observer would notice that French and American soldiers are co-operating in Haiti and Canadians will soon join them as will Brazilian and Chilean troops.

The French and Canadians outflanked Sen. Kerry and Corinne Brown! Even more: Canada is sending more soldiers to Haiti than she can actually afford! Whatever bought about this remarkable change?

[Note: For some reason I had written Maxine Waters. I don't know why, but I recognized my error while washing the dishes. The mind is a strange place.]

It's all about Iraq. It's all about the realization by the nations of the world that stability isn't necessarily a good thing, and that if they want to participate in the events that will change the world they have to be part of it rather than sniping from the sidelines.

I can't think of a single more impressive validation of the Bush Doctrine other than the disarmament of Libya, and those who would be critical viewers of the changing world we live in need to take a step back and recognize that the map has changed and there are new ideas and strategies that we barely recognize as yet.

Canada's role in this is revealed is another editorial in today's Globe and Mail, this one by David Malone purportedly about Kofi Annan but which takes the usual swipes at the US without more than a token admission of how Canada figured in the outcome:

While successes were registered in Cambodia, Mozambique and El Salvador, the UN's attempts to implement peace-enforcement decisions by the Security Council stumbled badly in Somalia and Bosnia, contributing to the shocking 1995 civilian massacre at Srebrenica, and to reluctance by key member states (mainly the Americans) to reinforce General Romeo Dallaire's beleaguered peacekeeping mission in Rwanda in 1994.

Blame for international inaction at the time of the Rwanda genocide is widely shared, particularly within the Security Council. Ottawa offered the bare minimum of support to Gen. Dallaire; former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who breezily apologized, never appeared alarmed by his own responsibility in failing to prevent the genocide. By contrast, Mr. Annan commissioned an in-depth inquiry into the UN's role (with which the United States failed to co-operate) accepting personal responsibility for the UN's sorry record (although then-U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright's responsibility was surely much greater.)

And what was Canada's responsibility? Gen. Dallaire is a Canadian, and Ottawa ignored him, and that is the fault of the US how? Had the events in Rwanda persuaded the Canadian government that they needed to improve the military and thus peacekeeping capacity of this country I could excuse them, but they didn't and rely upon those like Malone to shield them from their own culpability.

The self-proclaimed "international community" is composed of nations who are too enlightened to get their hands dirty by actually fighting, and from this elevated morality they want us to fight and possibly die? Don't blame us for having contempt for an attitude that is disgusting and contemptible. Old 60's phrases like "cannon-fodder" are being recycled with a twist: the transnationalists of the world still want us to be cannon-fodder but at their beck and call, although they have no claim other than their self-pronounced superiority.

This is the foreign relations policy that Sen. Kerry advocates: the UN does the pontificating, and we do the dying.

Look, how many times do you go out at dawn to boost your neighbour's car before you irritably suggest they ought to purchase a new battery?

We have a saying back home: put your money where your mouth is. Until Canada and other nations invest in their own militaries, the "international community" is a group of talkers who want to decide where American lives will be spent. This is wrong on so many levels that any American who is willing to face that truth should be outraged. They are playing us for fools, and our horror of the events of Sept. 11 and the resultant amnesia that horror produced must not be allowed to destroy our belated recognition of the threats that face us. If we refuse to take the hard but necessary steps to confront terrorism our so-called friends will come to our funeral but will secretly rejoice that we got our comeuppance.

The "international community" is not our friend: it is a parasitic entity that has thrived by ducking responsibility and hiding behind platitudes to make us expend our blood in the hope that it will weaken us and render us more vulnerable to the forces which threaten us.

They believe that once we fall, they will step into the breach. Fools! They are so caught up in their own self-importance and smugness that they won't see that we are all that stands between them and total ruin. Their ambition is no less self-serving than that of any other Evil Overlord and they too have minions who have been brainwashed into adoration and uncritical compliance.

The media in the US and Canada fawn over these elites to such an extent that we are forced to doubt their loyalty and independence, and they are so far behind actual events that we can be excused if we wonder at their intelligence.

Take the French: they have undergone some interesting shifts and are far more aware of the dangers in France from Islamic militants than they let on publicly. I still doubt that banning scarves from schools and public facilities will actually result in the assimilation of the Muslim population, but they have the right to try whatever they think will work and have at least acknowledged that they know they need to deal with the problem. Their greatest difficulty is going to be confronting the fact that racism is much more entrenched than they want to admit, and that unemployment among the Arab youth can only be dealt with if the unions loosen their grip. (The last problem in particular is why I doubt the banning of the scarves solely will achieve the desired result.)

The election of a conservative government in Greece is astonishing and may reveal a reaction in part to the changing landscape of the world post-Sept. 11 and post-Saddam Iraq. Another Socialist-led government has fallen, and the self-image of some Canadians that they are more European than American has suddenly been turned against them with some interesting implications. The political shift in Greece taken in concert with the declining fortunes of Gerhardt Shroeder in Germany may have indirectly proven Gagnon's assertion that Canadians are more like Americans that she may like!

A bit of advice to Gagnon: when you have one foot on one continent and the other foot on another continent, beware of continental drift. You are likely to land in the water.

There is one, main truth that must be stated with urgency and clarity:

Those who would challenge the Bush Doctrine must state alternatives rather than platitudes. Those who are still enmeshed in the blame games and conspiracy theories should, to be blunt, indulge their hobbies off the stage of serious discourse. The conflict in Iraq was a crucible: a new world view is forming right now, and those who can't intelligently and seriously look at the benefits and consequences are little more than distractions and have little to offer.

UPDATE: Looks as though I'm hardly the only one irritated at the external pressure to vote for Kerry. In response to this jaw-dropping announcement Kerry predicts character attacks, foreign support, this from Ranting Profs:

Except how the hell do we even know we're talking about leaders we want a president getting along with, or getting along better with . . . or feeling even slightly beholden to? When did it become even slightly appropriate for foreign leaders to express an opinion on an American election? Why should we believe they aren't evaluating the outcome from within the perspective of their interests -- and without knowing who they are we of course have no way of determining how well their and our interests intersect.

And at what point did it become appropriate for a candidate for office to have contact with foreign leaders? Doesn't Kerry realize the damage that can do? If he leads any foreign leader to believe that he'd be more sympathetic to their arguments and interests -- which clearly he's done -- how isn't that a signal to those countries to hold off any dealings with this administration in the hopes it will soon be sent packing and they'll be able to do better? And if that's the case, then why isn't Kerry now interfering with American foreign policy in a way that could potentially benefit him (by reducing the level of success this administration can chalk up between now and the elections since at least some leaders will be stonewalling hoping for a better deal)? No doubt some of that kind of stonewalling is likely with other governments during any election season -- should Kerry be explicitly encouraging it?(My bolding)

Raymond Chretien, former Canadian Ambassador to the US, publicly expressed his preference for Al Gore in the 2000 election. It wasn't appropriate, but that didn't stop him, and it won't stop those like Mugabe, Castro, Arafat, Kim Jong Il, Assad, and the mullahs in Iran from hoping that a more easily manipulated and pliable president will replace Bush.

Posted by Debbye at 11:31 AM | Comments (2)

March 07, 2004

Expenses, expenses

Mar. 7 - Mark has expanded his rant-worthy topics from the cost of the gun registry to travel expenses.

I already knew his reaction to the Conservative Party leadership debate, so I made the innocent mistake of asking "anything in the news?" before dinner. Wow. It seems because there's been yet another public servant who's been shamelessly exploiting their travel account for much more than a healthy respect for taxpayer money should command: Lucie McClung, commissioner for Correctional Service for Canada, racked up approximately $142,00 in travel expenses between 2001 and 2003.

Dinner was peppered with non-questions like Why Hong Kong? Hasn't she ever heard of the Holiday Inn? How can you go to Hawaii and not remember? Rio de Janeiro because what, the prisons in there are so great - Sure!

Some women and men may already know the best response (with apologies to Keats):

Or if thy lover some rich anger shows,
Emprison his dear hand, and let him rave,
And feed deep, deep upon his peerless eyes.


Posted by Debbye at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

Lieut. Jay Feyko

Mar. 7 - We rarely hear about the survivors of an attack, even though they carry the scars for the rest of their lives. The Toronto Sun has a story about Lieut. Jay Feyko, the paratrooper who was seated next to Cpl. Jamie Murphy (the Canadian soldier killed in a suicide attack in Kabul last January) and who, although he lost the sight in one eye and will carry shrapnel in his leg forever, is anxious to get back to duty to lead his paratroopers and make some more jumps.

In the blast, a piece of shrapnel the size of a peanut entered his head just below his right eye, cutting his eyeball. It hit his skull and lodged between it and his eye.

"My skull did its job," he said.

Where do we find such men?

Always honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Work Bound

Mar. 7 - I'll be at work for most of the day, so be sure and check out

Jack's Newswatch and Rantburg for news and commentary links.

Some sites that offer good insights and overall good critiques are (in no particular order) Le blog de Polyscopique,

Let It Bleed,

Jay Currie,

Canadian Comment,


The Owner's Manual, and for views from without Canada you can try

Expat Yank,

One Hand Clapping,

Roger L. Simon,

murdoc online, and

Tim Blair.

Each of the Iraq and military blogs deserve a look. You'll note that Kevin made it home safety and has posted a summary of his thoughts about being in Iraq. I've only had time to scan it, but intend to read it more thoroughly tonight.

hM is getting ready to return stateside as well so go offer some cheer while she navigates red tape and B.S. Doing things the army way can be a trip into a strange wonderland.

The online discussion about the Conservative leadership race continues at Andrew Coyne's site. I don't think I have to mention that it really isn't one in which Americans should participate - it is about an internal Canadian matter, after all - but you will be safe if you have your own Gratuitous American Reference Drinking Game: these people are serious about Canada and above the usual distract from issues by using the anti-America card and that puts them above and beyond the usual punditry that is so wearisome in the Canadian media.

The Globe and Mail is threatening to do several insightful articles about Iraq next week which will doubtless be another effort to convince themselves that Canada did the right thing to stay out of it. Give it up, will you? Nobody else cares anymore . . . the die was cast, get over it. It is so unbecoming to snipe from the sidelines especially when some of the readers (you know who you are!) are armed with Hellfire missiles.

Mark Steyn always has sharp articles worth reading, Stephen Den Beste is back and writing, and Bill Whittle should be delivering on his promise for a new essay.

The Yankees and Red Sox are playing today on the Boston UPN channel for those who receive it!

It's cold and windy outside so I have to drag out my gloves and scarf. It's unfair, I tell you!


Posted by Debbye at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004

OBL Capture Poll

Mar. 6 - Murdoc in running a Catching bin Laden poll:

There's been a lot of talk about how we might know where Osama is and how there might be a big operation along the Pakistan border soon. There's also been a lot of talk about how the capture of OBL might be "managed" by the Bush administration for maximum political effect. I get the feeling that whenever he's caught, there's going to be a general outcry of "politicization".

So I'm taking a poll to attempt to determine what the window is to capture OBL without appearing to have staged it. Vote. Tell your friends. Let's see what people think.

Exercise your franchise! Vote!

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

Work Bound

Mar. 6 - I have to go in to work today, so check the blogroll particularly for Canadian and Iraqi views on the latest events.

There is an excellent debate over at Andrew Coyne's place on the Donnybrook comment thread (listed over at the right sidebar) and the wording of his news headlines are getting better and better.

Oh, I have updated the blogroll and fixed soma glaring error from my last tinkering [and blogger didn't go down! I'm 3 for 5 now . . .] so some I thought were on actually are on now (with profound apologies to The Owner's Manual in particular) and given the humourous sites their own exalted spot.


Posted by Debbye at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)


Mar. 6 - More coalition injuries: Four British soldiers were wounded during three hour firefight in southern Iraq. The soldiers returned fire after being hit with handgun and rocket-propelled grenades inQalah Salih, south of Amarah.

None of the injuries were life-threatening. Southern Iraq has not seen the same degree of attacks on coalition forces as we've seen in Baghdad but there have been retaliation killings of those associated with the Ba'athist regime.

The interim constitution is yet unsigned. This CNN report says the issue is over veto power:

... a clause that says if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces reject the permanent constitution it will not go into effect until it is revised, said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the governing council.

Shiites felt those procedures gave too much power to the Kurds, who enjoy self-rule in three provinces in northern Iraq.

How power is distributed - enough to guarantee the rights of the minority but not so much as to keep the country moving as a single entity - is often difficult and involves the most concession and compromise.

There was bound to be a reaction to the horrendous Tuesday attacks on Shiites during religious processionals, but that it seems to have affected the constitutional process rather than blood-for-blood retaliation is extremely encouraging and again defies the worst prognostications of the pundits who can't imagine this process would ever have begun much less be so close to the finish line.

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


Mar. 6 - Isn't this typical: Gagliano threatens lawsuit. I remember when he was appointed Ambassador to Denmark and there was a (brief) storm that he was being hurredly shipped out of town in an effort to deflect the brewing storm over the Sponsorship scandal. Some even pointed out that it was an insult to the Danes and didn't speak well as to how we regard amicable relations with them.

We've already apologised for Alfonso Gagliano. We've apologised a number of times.

I also seem to remember that he was first to have been appointed to the Vatican but they didn't want him (or was that another appointee? So many scandals, so little time . . .)

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

Ontario Patronage II

Mar. 6 - Political spin Communications is a much more lucrative field than I'd imagined: Gravy train rolls for Grits:

A review committee headed up by former deputy prime minister John Manley recently hired on the company of Chretien's former communications director Peter Donolo.

Since Feb. 5, Strategic Counsel -- for which Donolo is executive vice-president -- has given $6,500 worth of advice about the committee's roundtable discussions and "styling" contents of its report, officials confirmed. (My emphasis)

Styling contents are much more important than Content contents. Got it.

(See next post look at how much other communications needs costs us.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

Ontario Patronage

Mar. 6 - The most ridiculous thing about this latest scandal is that, given that the LCBO has a monopoly (much as Ontario Hydro,) what do they need a "communications advisor" for? Why bother to pay anyone (Tory pal got $5Gs a month) when the only choice the consumer has is which LCBO store to frequent?

Tory insider Paul Rhodes was put on a $5,000-a-month retainer to provide communications advice to the LCBO. In total, the party strategist secured more than $1 million in contracts from government ministries and agencies during the Mike Harris and Ernie Eves governments.

It's the system, I tell you. No matter who is running the government, there are too many positions available which require no more qualification than being a supporter of the ruling party.

Rhodes was paid $560,238 to provide communications advice to taxpayer-owned hydro companies from 1998 to 2000 and $248,142 for advice to the government's own environment ministry during the Walkerton crisis.
Oh, he did have his fingers in the hydro pie. And Walkerton needed quicker - not more - communication and less spin. In fact, communication might have actually saved lives, but I digress.
The LCBO, hydro and environment ministry all have full-time communications specialists on staff.

Rhodes said he provides crisis communications, helping companies and ministries respond to difficult issues.

Ontario Hydro and the LCBO are having issues? No kidding. Read the article. Contemplate the money they've wasted - our money.

Looked at your hydro bill lately? Nice to know that when you're paying less for the hydro you actually consumed and more on back-debt and hydro you never received that there's yet another "consultant" who is adding to Hydro costs.

I'm not even touching the revelation that they all have communications specialists on staff. The ones at Hydro probably produce those adorable little inserts tucked in with our bills that we read (not) after we recover from seeing how much the damned bill is.

The article says he resigned in October after the Liberals were voted into power here. I wonder who now holds his position . . .

Reform the system. It's that simple: get rid of the useless "positions" in public institutions and give the buying public some relief and hey! if we had more money in our pockets, we'd be able to buy more stuff and boost the economy! Do you have any idea how much I could drink for $5,000 a month?

Posted by Debbye at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

Doggerel Pundit Goes Canadian

Mar. 6 - Found mention of this over at Transplanted Texan: No doubt everyone remembers the new, hitherto unscaled (and unsought) height of lunacy when the Nova Scotia government decided to target the media and force them to stop using words like "nutty" and "lunatic" and phrases like "mental hospital" and "nervous breakdown" as all such are deemed insensitive to people with mental issues. The government not only sent out lists of the proscribed words and phrases and asked citizens to monitor the media and report back to the government but added cash incentives for compliance.

Well, nothing escapes the folk over at Doggerel Pundit (especially when Glenn Reynods, bless him, tips them off) and they have risen to the occasion to commemorate this in Pass the Word.

Nova Scotia has found its own niche in history.

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

March 05, 2004

Advice for the Liberal Party

Mar. 5 - Glenda has a new post up and lays it on the line for the Liberal Party: Spin too much and you end up biting your own tail. Do read.

Posted by Debbye at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

The First Amendment

Mar. 5 -

Americans are generally uninformed when it comes to the United States Constitution. The results of a 2001 survey show that 84% of adults don't know that freedom of religion is one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment! On the flip side, the majority of Americans wrongly believe that the phrase "Separation of Church and State" is actually found in the Constitution.
Good, history-based article on The Separation of Church and State.

Posted by Debbye at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

James Lileks

Mar. 5 - From today's Bleat:

So the ad is bad because it reminds us of those days. I know, I know - some things ought not be used for transient political advantages. For some, the the real issue isn't what Willie Horton did, it's pointing out that he did it. I know. But we need to be reminded. In an odd way, the attacks on New York and Washington were so harsh they cauterized the wound they caused. Or to switch metaphors - we were stabbed in the back, and that's not a scar you see when you face yourself in the mirror.

People forget. People must not forget.

People forgot the Cole the day after it happened. People forgot the embassy attacks - if they were aware of them at all - by nightfall. People shrugged at Desert Fox and the Tomahawk attack on empty Afghan camps. No one took it seriously until we were all sitting in a dark room at 1 AM staring at the TV, watching the crawl, wondering what was next, stunned and horrified and scared. Three moments: Bush's speech on the pile, the speech at the National Cathedral, and then the jaw-dropping State of the Union address, which was the moment when the national mood got off its knees and balled its fists and said that's not going to happen again.



Will Bush run ads that accuse the Democrats of fumbling the ball on al Qaeda in the Clinton years, and suggest that the last Democrat in the office seemed more concerned with slipping in some lap nooky before quitting time than killing bin Laden? No. Will Bush run ads that contrast John Kerry's sonorous litany about "the worst foreign policy" with pictures of women in Kabul throwing off the burqa or men in Iraq toppling a statue? I can only hope; it would be right on the money. We fought back - but they were not wars of retribution. We salted no fields. We entered their lands - but they were not wars of conquest and sublimation; we demanded no tribute. We could have nuked the place flat. History will note that when we left, we left them with a constitution, a hundred thousand roofs festooned with satellite dishes, a souk where people could speak their mind again and buy newspapers that criticized the nation that had made this freedom possible. (Bold added, italics in original.)

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

Death from Above

Mar. 5 - Ever wondered how the Pentagon made decisions? Murdoc figured it out: it's Death from above via blog-guided munitions. You heard it here, er, second.

Posted by Debbye at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

Palestinian Civil War

Mar. 5 - While the world's attention is focused on Haiti, the situation is rapidly deteriorating in places like Nablus as Jay notes in Is anarchy civil war?. (Excellent piece with many links.)

Steven Den Beste states in an uncharacteristically brief post

The violent phase of the Palestinian Civil War has begun. I didn't expect it quite this soon.

Posted by Debbye at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 5 - Aristide denies 'formal resignation,' plans return:

After the 14-nation Caribbean Community refused Wednesday to participate in a peacekeeping force, two South American countries - Chile and Brazil - agreed to send forces in support of about 1,200 U.S., French and Canadian troops already on the ground.

Chile sent about 130 troops, but that number was expected to rise to 300.

A spokesman for Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said his country is preparing to dispatch 1,100 troops.

The spokesman, Andre Singer, said last night that French President Jacques Chirac told Mr. Lula in a telephone conversation that he and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan want Brazil to lead the multinational force.

Canadian officials said earlier that military representatives from nine countries ready to take part in the force met yesterday at the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami. They declined to identify the participants.

It is proper for neighbouring countries to take the lead in peacekeeping efforts in Haiti, but a major difficulty might be language: Brazil is a Portguese-speaking and Chile a Spanish-speaking country, and of course Haiti is French-speaking, which is why Canadian involvement would be a good fit.

I'm not sure how many Canadian soldiers are in Haiti at the moment, but I've seen numbers between 60-100 in various reports this morning. Some have evidently pulled back in the Dominican Republic (where Spanish is spoken) but a CBC report says Canada will deploy 450 to Haiti in the next few days for a 90-day mission.

The following, however, has got to raise some eyebrows: even Kofi Annan has seen fit to express his hope that PM Martin will increase funding to Canada's military before it crumbles. One can imagine hearing some bobble-heads already: Well, if Kofi Annan says it's a good idea, maybe we should! because, you know, the UN is all-wise and all-knowing. The International Community has spoken! Sheesh, this is the third time recently Canada has had her knuckles rapped by the UN: over spanking earlier this year, earlier this week over a safe-injection centre and now over her military.

Right, Haiti: do you suppose Aristide's urgency to get back has anything to do with this:

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, meanwhile, reported that looters found stacks of $100 bills - possibly as much as $350,000 - in a hidden safe at Mr. Aristide's mansion in the suburban town of Tabarre.

The bills were either crumbling into dust or stuck together so tightly that they could not be pulled apart, the newspaper said.
Something I failed to post yesterday (due to excessive astonishment that he's still alive) was a news report regarding Papa Doc Duvalier's wish to return to lead Haiti in its time of trouble. My grumpy side is inclined to set both of them down smack in the middle of Port-au-Prince and let events take their course . . .

But note this interesting accusation:

Mr. Aristide also insisted he is still Haiti's president and accused France of "colluding" with the United States to oust him.
In today's column for the National Review, Victor Davis Hanson wrote:
Far from polarizing our allies, we are entering into a more mature relationship that has dispelled much of the dishonesty of the last 20 years. Expect more, not less, cooperation from Germany and France around the globe.
Paul is not in the mood for any of Aristide's manipulations and totally unimpressed by the Caricom withdrawl and South Africa's involvement.

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


Mar. 5 - Libya Discloses Stockpiling Mustard Gas and revealed the location of a production plant as well as declaring thousands of tons of precursors that could be used to make sarin nerve gas and two storage facilities.

Over 3,300 bombs designed to carry chemical payloads have been destroyed this week in Libya is part of dismantling its chemical weaponry.

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

The Khadr Family

Mar. 5 - My eldest sent this link about how normal OBL is: Bin Laden Loves Volleyball, Hates Ice. Perhaps other bloggers watched part 2 of the CBC interview on The National last night so I'll be linking them should I find any.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the Toronto Sun on part 2 Canuck: I worked for the CIA.

Double-take - that's indeed what it says. It also says he passed a polygraph:

Key elements of Khadr's story were subjected to polygraph tests and he passed, the network said.
As the network and not Khadr said this, is the implication that CBC administered the tests? I don't even want to contemplate that one . . . now I really want to find out what people who watched the program think. Here's the link to the CBC webpages on The Khadr Family.

Give the CBC some more credit: the main page has links to, among others, the story from last December in which a lawyer for the family in Toronto charged the Canadian government officials were "lying through their teeth" that Abdurahman had been denied assistance at embassies after his release from Guantanamo.

I wonder how much this story will grow. It certainly calls a lot of assumptions into question but I still believe Canadian bloggers should be picking it up instead of me as my admitted bias (read: fury) yearns too much to break free.

UPDATE: A rather sad article in today's Globe and Mail Khadr changes story, now says he was CIA spy. Quickly, I don't think those who believed in the innocence of the Khadr family have reason to feel shame - there are many worse failings than to believe in someone's innocence, and the fact that he and the others in the family were members of al Qaeda and lied about it doesn't reflect poorly on those who trusted them. I think, given my choice, I'd rather believe someone innocent and be proven wrong than believe in someone's guilt and be proven wrong.

The clipped tone of the article is another matter, but I don't expect the G&M to learn humility from this story.

UPDATE: Whatever I may think of the Toronto Star, today's editorial is a model of professionalism in that it lacks the bitterness of the Globe, but I have to wonder: on what basis could the government detain any of the Khadr family? The Star says

If any of the Khadr clan do arrive in Canada, they should be immediately detained until our security services can ensure they pose no threat to the public. Osama bin Laden admirers who hate Americans and back suicide bombers must not be waved through immigration with a nod and a smile.
Just slow down a minute! Unlike those who have been detained in the US (and for which the Star has repeatedly denounced us) there has been no indication that the mother or daughter were involved in money-raising or money-laundering, conspired to provide material support for terrorist-related activities or trained at al Qaeda camps.

They lied about the activities of the father, husband, sons and brothers. But unless it was in court or in front of a formal inquiry, I don't think they've actually broken any Canadian laws and cheering as the planes hit the towers, while repugnant and something that makes me spitting mad, isn't illegal.

It's awkward, it's tricky, and nobody (especially the media) likes being taken for fools, but this is still a country of law and due process, and I would have expected the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail to remember that.

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

Russian aid to Saddam

Mar. 5 - Article in the NY Times today Russian Engineers Reportedly Gave Missile Aid to Iraq:

Because some of the Russian experts were said to have formerly worked for one of Russia's aerospace design centers, which remains closely associated with the state, their work for Iraq has raised questions in Washington about whether Russian government officials knew of their involvement in forbidden missile programs. "Did the Russians really not know what they were doing?" asked one person familiar with the United States intelligence reports.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington denied any knowledge of the allegations of recent Russian technical support for Iraq's missile effort.

"The U.S. has not presented any evidence of Russian involvement," said Yevgeny Khorishko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy.

That in part echoes some of my frustrations with getting at the truth about the UN Oil for Food program as well as an event during the Iraq War - the attack on a Russian covoy heading for the Syrian border, Condi Rice's weekend trip to Moscow, and the Russians not saying a peep in protest of the attack after her visit (it's my standard fretting over what was in her briefcase and will it be revealed in my lifetime? issue!)

The article doesn't say much we didn't suspect, but does draw some inferences between Saddam's attempt to purchase missiles from North Korea and some of the findings of the October Kay report and looks at why the President isn't forcing exposure of Russian complicity in violating UN sanctions which are highly speculative and fail to take the multilateral talks over North Korea's nuclear program into account.

I've been chewing over this, which looks at some criticisms of the restricted nature of Dr. Kay's hunt, and the accompanying links for a couple of days. IIRC, Dr. Kay said one of the reasons he was ending the search was because the Administration wasn't allowing enough funds or personnel to do the job adequately although I suspect that the actual hunt may be taking place under another agency and possibly in another country, but that too is highly speculative.

UPDATE: Wretchard also examines the Douglas Hanson article in The American Thinker and points to another possibility:

Saddam would have looked at a nuke or bioweapon not simply as a lethal device but as an investment. Dr. David Kay's findings may not mean that Saddam destroyed or hid his weapons before the war. It may merely mean that he sold them.

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

Tony Blair Speaks

Mar. 5 - This contains some highlights of a speech British PM Blair recently delivered which I noted with more interest than a speech would normally engender perhaps due to this post at Instapundit about the lure of forgetfulness (the post has grown considerably since I read it early this morning. It's well worth checking out.)

One thing I noted as I watched CNN this morning: the early airing stated (I'm paraphrasing) that "the families of victims of Sept. 11 object to the ads; later in the morning I noted that the newscaster was saying "some families of victims" etc.

UPDATE: This is the text of the speech (via Instapundit, which is kind of funny. Of course, as he didn't link me, he'll never know how funny it is!)

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

Wang Youcai Freed

Mar. 5 - China frees democracy activist:

Wang Youcai, 37, was given medical parole and left the Zhejiang No. 1 prison in southern China early in the day, said John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation, a rights group. He boarded a plane for the United States after bidding his family farewell.


Wang was sentenced in 1998 to 11 years for activities related to his founding of the China Democracy Party.

He was also one of more than a dozen student leaders of the 1989 demonstrations that led to the Tiananmen Square military crackdown in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, died. He served a year in prison in 1990 on charges related to those activities.

The fact that he had to leave China - probably forever - lessens the victory somewhat.

The article notes also that other activists have been released recently by the Chinese government. So now how about the rest, hmm?

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

March 04, 2004

Hammorabai Blog

Mar. 4 - I've been timid about updating the blgoroll, and then a horrible thought struck me - one that I have on my list to add is a blog from Iraq, Hammorabi. I mention it now because he has pictures and words both strong and grief-stricken about the Tuesday bombings of Shiites.

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

Never Again

Mar. 4 - Can you bear to read this? Can anyone read it and still not understand?

(Via Laughing Wolf.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

Insurrection in Iran

Mar. 4 - Caught this at Roger Simon's place: Project: FREE IRAN! - UPDATED News on Anti-Regime Riots & Civil-Disobedience

Mar 2, 2004
Thousands of Iranians seized, this evening and for the 2nd consecutive night, the religious ritual of Ashura in order to come into the streets and to show their rejection of the theocratic regime.

Slogans qualifying the regime as tyrannical and despotic were mixed to the noise of fire crackers and gave again a total different aspect than a religious mourning which the regime has based on it one of its ideological bases. Many slogans accused the regime to be the real mastermind behind the today's deadly explosions of Karbala and Baghdad as many Iranians still remember the scandal over the bombing of the 8th Imam of the Shi-a, in Mashad, which was in reality carried by agents of the Islamic regime instead of opponents who were executed few years ago for such charge.

Sporadic clashes leading to injuries and arrests, among the demonstrators and also the regime forces, rocked several areas of the Capital and also several provincial cities, such as Esfahan and Shiraz. Hand Made grenades and incendiary devices responded to the regime's men clubs, chains and tear gas which were used against young Iranians striving for freedom and an end to the promotion of the culture of mourning.

Several security patrol were damaged by the incendiary devices thrown by the crowd angered by the persistent repression and back warded ideology.

Most perimeters to Madar, Mirdamad, Zarab Khaneh Shahrak Gharb, Tehran Pars, Narmak, Vanak, Eslam Shahr, Dolat, Tajrish and Vali- e-Asr (former Vali-Ahd) were closed in the Capital due to the wide scale demos and sporadic clashes. The same security measure were instated by the regime's local forces in the cities of Esfahan, Abadan and Shiraz.

Has there been any mention of these demonstrations in the mainstream media?

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

Rumour of Zarqawi's Death

Mar. 4 - According to the Toronto Star, a statement circulated by "Leadership of the Allahu Akbar Mujahedeen" claims that Al-Zarqawi dead and was killed when US forces bombed the mountains in northern Iraq. The statement does not when he was supposedly killed.

The statement also claims the the letter the US intercepted some months ago is a forgery.

Posted by Debbye at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

Bans and . . .

Mar. 4 - Jay of The Freeway to Serfdom seems a tad exasperated with more nanny-state measures in Canada in Bans, and the Banning Banners Who Ban Them.

(Link via Let It Bleed.)

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


Mar. 4 - Interesting piece by Max Boot for the LA Times Democracy's Bus Is Rolling in Iraq. An excerpt:

There is more good news coming from Iraq. Thanks in part to the much-maligned work of Halliburton, the country's oil production and electricity generation will soon surpass prewar levels. The number of coalition soldiers killed in January and February (75) was 52% lower than in November and December (158). The number of U.S. soldiers wounded fell even more during that period - to 260 from 638.

Of course, the glad tidings shouldn't be exaggerated. One reason why attacks on coalition soldiers are down is that, as Tuesday's atrocities in Baghdad and Karbala demonstrate, terrorists are finding Iraqis an easier target. But although the terrorists can kill and maim, they cannot win public support. In the Sunni Triangle, where most of the violence is occurring, 21 imams issued a fatwa condemning "any act of violence against Iraqi state government workers, police and soldiers."

Staying the course and keeping their eyes on the prize is why Iraqis for generations to come will stand tall and proud. It is so humbling to know that whereas we may have opened the door, they seized the opportunity and boldly walked through it.

UPDATE: Sunni preachers and Shiite clerics march together in Baghdad to affirm their solidarity after the horrific bombings Tuesday.

Posted by Debbye at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

USS Clueless Returns

Mar. 4 - USS Clueless is back and posting! Hurrah!

Now if only Bill would finish his danged essay. (It sucks when people have day jobs.)

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

Turn off the mike, stupid

Mar. 4 - Read these first: MPs in Panic and Fur flies in Grit caucus. Both articles refer to a Liberal caucus meeting which was publicly aired due to a technical error.

Okay. There was a major scandal in California when the Democrats' Caucus was overheard on the loudspeaker plotting to craft a budget that would make the public suffer so much they'd be willing to drop the restrictions imposed by Prop 13 so the Dems could get their greedy little hands on more taxpayer dollars. (Note that Prop 65 was, in fact, defeated. Californians may be a little nutty but they aren't stupid.) Everyone in the California Assembly knew there were problems with the intercom system, but nobody was assigned to make sure the switch was in the "OFF" position? Well, it can happen once, I guess. [I'll try to locate the link later - it should be in the August or September archives.]

The Democrats in the US Congress knew there was a snarl in the computers and their internal documents were not secure, but nevertheless they left some highly incriminating documents accessible which outlined their filibuster strategy to stop the president's judicial nominations. It can happen twice? Don't the Dems read the papers or their own newsletters? After the California disaster I'd be very very careful, but I've never held public office.

The Federal Liberals, not to be outdone, recently broadcast their recent caucus meeting over a parliamentary audio channel (an "apparent technical error" is blamed) but what stands out is that their primary concern is not the depths of the corruption the scandal has exposed but their pitiable state at how their fortunes have declined because of the scandal.

Accountability? Change the subject, one recommends. Introspection? My own sister questions my ethics! Reform? I might not be re-elected!

Glad to see where the Natural Governing Party's priorities are.

Is there an Active Nemesis Factor at work here? Or something more?

Needless to say, many will watching the outcome of the (possible) May election and drawing conclusions.

Posted by Debbye at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)


Mar. 4 - One of the reason I love being a historian is that I can view things in a totally different manner and connect seemingly unrelated dots in a plausible fashion. The downside is that, lacking actual bases for these inter-connections means that the plausible fashion part is mostly in my own mind so it would be irresponsible to make any claim of fact until mountains of actual evidence becomes available.

So please forgive this self-confessed bias, but I've wondered for awhile what the long-term impact of the recall movement in California would be - not on California, for that is self-evident - but upon electorates in other states and even other countries. Some of the statements of those opposing the recall tend to support my hypotheses, but I don't believe in building theories on negative data however suggestive they may be.

So yes, I am looking at events surrounding the movement in Venezuela to recall Chavez with the aforesaid built-in bias, but, by stating my bias openly I am content to let it ferment without removing the lid for a quick peek to see how it's coming along, m'kay?

This, however, is unexpected and starts my speculative juices roiling: Venezuela's UN ambassador, Milos Alcalay, resigns:

Milos Alcalay told a news conference at U.N. headquarters that his key concerns throughout a 34-year diplomatic career were to promote democracy, human rights and a non-confrontational foreign policy.

"Sadly, Venezuela now is operating devoid of these fundamental principles, which I still remain intensely committed to, he said.

"The increasing bipolarization and problems we are experiencing at home in Venezuela have impacted our relationships around the world," he said.

Is it remotely possible that ethics are beginning to make a comeback internationally? The response from Venezuela is odd:
In Caracas, a leading political ally of Chavez in the National Assembly condemned Alcalay's resignation as hypocritical.

"Milos Alcalay looks very bad because everyone remembers him as an apologist, a defender, in extreme terms, of the foreign policy of President Hugo Chavez's government," said Tarek William Saab, president of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee.

Unless it has lost something in the translation, would seem to condemn the Chavez goverment more than Sr. Alcalay as though to say that the Chavez government has gone so far off course that the former UN Ambassador has decided he can no long apologize for or defend it.

Interesting times. Of course, the neo-communists in Europe and Canada will be having kittens over events in Nicaragua (and may even start to agitate for unilateral US intervention) but as they let events in Haiti overtake their natural lethargy, their impotent hyperventilations will serve only to highlight how useless and tiresome their rhetoric has become and the US responses to Liberia and Haiti gave evidence to the at a time of our choosing section of the Bush Doctrine.

I have another bias: I totally approve of democratic revolutions. Che had it right: Two, three, many revolutions. We American neo-con-libertarians are very, very naughty: we also adapted Mao's domino theory.

UPDATE: Bruce gives some great analysis about Chavez here - and check out his new look!

Posted by Debbye at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

Abdurahman Khadr

Mar. 4 - Canadian Abdurahman Khadr admits al-Qaida link. Read the article, I'm not in the mood to be objective or nice today, but if our enemies are actually as simple-minded as this guy and his family, we are in better shape than I thought:

"Everybody loves to die for his religion. Every Muslim dreams of being a shaheed for Islam, like you die for your religion. Everybody dreams of this, even a Christian would like to die for their religion."
This is, after all, Canada, wherein no history class can admit that white men actually made any valuable or important contributions. However:

It strikes me that there are two kinds of people reading that quote: those who instantly think of names like GEORGE SMITH PATTON and those who have perfected the bobble-head routine.

Some Canadian comments from Burnside, Paul and Jaeger.

Posted by Debbye at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda leader caught

Mar. 4 - Abdul Raouf Naseeb has been arrested in Yemen after tanks and helicopters surrounded his mountain home. Naseeb is a leading player in al Qaeda and a leading suspect in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole which killed 17 crewmen.

Civilized people might want to stop reading this post right now.

Remember the Predator and Hellfire missile that took out the car on a Yemeni mountains road? The strategic implications of that attack still put a big grin on my face . . . look! up in the sky - it's a bird, it's a plane, it's a ... oh f*** (ka-boom!)

Q: If a Hellfire missile falls in the desert and everyone gets blowed up, does it make a sound?

Yes, I am an unapologetic barbarian and enjoy every single second of it.

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

March 03, 2004

Toronto Matters

Mar. 3 - You know what to do when someone swears they aren't making something up, right? Well, Let It Bleed says I Swear I am not Making This Up and made me look, and he isn't. I swear.

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

Not a matter of right and left

Mar. 3 - Laurent proves that some can remain sane when those about him are locked into partisan mind sets that require vast contortions of reality to make the patterns fit.

In Vive Clinton, Vive Bush! he makes the case that

That's not a matter of left and right. That's a matter of minimizing the damage brought on by dictators and of not propping up formerly democratically elected leaders who morphed into dictators with time. (My emphasis)
Exactly. Too bad the phrase "move on" has been discredited for otherwise it could easily become a rallying cry for everyone who has become impatient with those on the right and the left who are mired in the pettiness of the past.

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

Nova Scotia Madness

Mar. 3 - What do you call it when the government asks citizens to watch TV and scrutinize the news for using such dreadful terms as "psychotic." "madman" and "nervous breakdown" and will pay them when they report such language transgressions? The Transplanted Texan calls the Nova Scotian government on their latest and possibly most bizarre enterprise ever and does a lovely fisking.

Posted by Debbye at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

Canadians in Haiti

Mar. 3 - Defence planners 'scramble' as Martin's Haiti demands evolve

Defence officials were "scrambling" to meet government's changing demands until Prime Minister Paul Martin finally acknowledged Wednesday that Canada's military commitment to Haiti may be less than desired.

"We're stretched quite thin and so we're looking at our capacity to go there and we're looking at the length of time that we think it would take," Martin told a news conference in Peterborough, Ont.

"We're not going to have the capacity that we would like, but we are going to be able to make an important contribution."

This is sad. Canada's once proud armed forces could once have made an important contribution, but now will be hard pressed to send even a token force to the only other French-speaking country in this hemisphere.

Spin away, Mr. Former Finance Minister, and remind Candians how you proudly balanced the budget by destroying the armed forces and rendering the health care system dysfunctional while the gun registry budget soared by 1000% not to mention misplacing HRDC funds, purchasing new jets for the PM out of the defence budget and misappropriating overpayments into the EI program.

Adscam is just another in a long series of treating taxpayer dollars with no respect for the taxpayer.

Posted by Debbye at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

Mars Had Water

Mar. 3 - NASA's big announcement yesterday turned out to be confirmation that Mars was once "water soaked" and although (despite this headline Mars: Strong signs of life!) no evidence of life has been found, the conditions for life to have developed were indeed there.

Some, however, suspect a deep, vast conspiracy to hide the truth because a political and ego outcrop hangs over science.

UPDATE: Others note similarities to the Kay WMD Report and ask: Did NASA lie?

But there is a bright side; now that the onetime existence of water is confirmed, Kathy points out that readers of old SF can still dream about the canals!

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

Oh no, not the Mint!

Mar. 3 - It's becoming a tidal wave! (because we're too close to spring to use the word snowball!) Now the Canadian Mint is being audited because in a time when the mint was losing money, top officials received a 45% salary increase even though staff members were being laid off due to shortages of money.

The Mint is a Crown Corporation and therefore does not have to make the audit public. The audit came about due to a whistleblower who learned that, after he was laid off in 2003, 12 others were laid off and 59 others were offered early retirement but the salaries of the top executives continued to grow.

Figures from the Mint show that between 1999 and 2003 the president's salary rose from $181,700 to $240,900. Vice-presidents got a $63,000 boost to $201,000 in that time period, while directors got a similar $60,000 raise to $189,662.

During the same period the financial fortunes of the Mint changed drastically. In 1999, it posted a $23.1-million profit. By 2003, that dropped to a $6.6-million loss.

Will public outrage finally force some reforms in how Crown Corportions are administered? PM Martin has made indications that future patronage appointments will be subject to vetting by Parliament during a meeting with Smith Falls' civic leaders yesterday.

In another development, warrants were opened to justify the RCMP raid on the BC legislature late December and it turns out the raids were conducted as part of an investigation into a breach of trust:

The summary prepared by special Crown prosecutor William Berardino says RCMP are investigating whether two government officials were offered promotions or employment opportunities for passing unauthorized confidential information to "persons interested in government business for the purpose of obtaining a benefit."

The case initially focused on one official and concerned proceeds of crime and corruption, the brief says. It led police to identify the second official and one other as persons of interest. The information used to obtain search warrants for the legislature referred to a B.C. government bulletin from Dec. 17, 2003, and the B.C. Rail Fairness Report done for former transport minister Judith Reid.

That report found the sale of B.C. Rail was conducted properly.

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

UN Chastises Canada

Mar. 3 - UN rips addict haven in B.C.. The UN is calling Canada to account for allowing a safe injection site in Vancouver for claiming the haven is contrary to international agreements to control drug abuse.

I wish the UN would focus on things like child slavery than how Canada choses to try and deal with the difficult problem of drug addiction.

Motes. Beams. Grr.

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


Mar. 3 - Who knew what and when they knew it seems to also be a why they did what they did and who knew they did it: Ex-official: Chretien accessed slush fund:

Former prime minister Jean Chretien dipped into a federal slush fund reserved strictly for his pet projects to create the sponsorship program, according to a senior public servant. Peter Harder, former treasury board secretary and comptroller general, said Chretien signed the submission launching the sponsorships in 1996 to ensure it got funding from a special pot.

"It was to access funds that were under his control in the fiscal framework," Harder told the Commons public accounts committee probing the AdScam scandal.

Harder, who held his position from 1995 to 2000, said it was "rare" to see the ex-PM's signature on a submission for cash, adding Chretien usually only backed those for Privy Council funds.

Harder, now a foreign affairs deputy minister, said the creation of sponsorships in 1997 was hidden by the Liberal government within the federal communications budget.

Why did the government feel it necessary to hide a program that is supposed to promote unity? I'm bewildered.

Posted by Debbye at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 2 Attack in Iraq

Mar. 3 - As more information comes out about yesterday's attacks on Shiites in Quetta, Pakistan, and Karbala and Baghdad and the aborted ones in Basra and Najaf, Iraq, and the subsequent retaliation against Sunnis in Pakistan, I'm trying to put aside my personal horror that religious processions, mosques and shrines were attacked with murderous intent and focus on what it says about the war on terror. I'm finding it very difficult because murdering in the name of religion is something that the West has rejected as wrong. (It should go without saying that this rejection came about after a great deal of blood was shed in the name of religion and that this rejection is sadly incomplete.)

The concept that committing bloodshed upon religion and religious figures is offensive is even in our pop culture: remember in Sister Act when the killers wanted Whoopi Goldberg's character to remove the nun's habit and stop praying so they could kill her with a clear conscience? They knew she wasn't a nun, but couldn't get past their instincts that killing a nun - even a non-nun in a nun's habit - was sacrilege and sacrilege is worse than murder. I laughed during the scene, but part of my laughter was because I knew it contained truth however illogical that truth may be.

We still regard the concept of taking sanctuary in a house of God as inviolable, and violence within or against a religious edifice as a terrible sin. The notion of bombing a church, as happened in Birmingham so many long years ago, offended even the most die-hard bigots.

I might add that using a church, synagogue, temple or mosque from which to launch attacks is also something we find repugnant, and it requires a mighty struggle with our consciences to enter such a place with guns drawn to stop such attacks even though we recognize that it is done to save the lives of innocent people. The prospect of our military bombing such a place is not even contemplated.

There have been numerous columns, articles and blog posts that have highlighted the fact that terrorist attacks conducted by al Qaeda have been aimed more at Muslims than Westerners, or, more specifically, aimed against Muslims who are regarded as being of the "wrong" type of Islam.

To me, this is a reminder that al Qaeda has two distinct but intertwined goals: they are determined that all Muslims view that religion and practise it in the way al Qaeda believes is "correct," and therefore they target the West because one of our most cherished freedoms is the right to freely worship the deity or deities of our consciences and to do so without state interference or forcible compliance.

The notion of putting someone on trial for heresy in Western civilization is so anachronistic that I don't even know when the last one occurred. We speak of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre and the Salem Witch Trials with revulsion, and many who hear the phrase "Spanish Inquisition" are more likely think of the timeless Monty Python sketch before the historical attribution.

I believe that should Western notions of religious tolerance become widely accepted in the Mid-East and Africa, al Qaeda is doomed and they know it. That is why they are attacking Shiites in Iraq and Pakistan: because they are counting upon the Shiites to retaliate which will harden attitudes and hatred and make tolerance impossible. In Iraq they have thus far failed; in Pakistan they have had some success but, in a strong move, the Pakistan army moved in to stop the retaliations.

I believe al Qaeda pursues this strategy confidently because they believe they understand human nature, and in some ways I can understand why they take this view due the dangers we faced after the events in the USA. After all, who didn't fear that Americans would retaliate against American Muslims in the aftermath of Sept. 11? I did. That fear was companion to my fear of further attacks by al Qaeda, and I am now ashamed as well as proud to have been so wrong as to distrust my people.

Did al Qaeda hope to prompt bloody retaliation by Christian and Jewish Americans upon Muslim Americans? I don't honestly know, but it is a real possibility that such was their hope and that the total failure of that plan is among the reasons they haven't hit us on the homefront again (or yet.)

Did they hope to achieve those ends when they hit Bali? Australians too refused to take the bait and rose to reaffirm their values and beliefs and can stand proudly as people who saw past their anger to help and aid the Balinese and Indonesians as they earlier helped the East Timorese and later helped the Solomons.

It comes down to the ability to recognize who the enemy is and who it is not. That, in short, is the legitimate offspring of tolerance, that we not tar all with the same brush but focus on those individuals who commit the outrages.

One of the things that made me stand straighter as an American was the respect for Muslims that President Bush enunicated during his address to the Joint Houses of Congress in September, 2001, because I recognized that, as our Commander-in-Chief in wartime, he was requesting (because he can't issue order to civilians) that we remember who and what we are, and that we remember who and what our Muslim brethren are. Our President, a man who is more openly religious than many of his predecessors, reached out as a Christan to firmly state his respect for the piety and decency of Muslims. He led by example.

Maybe the President doesn't do nuance because he lives as a Christian and lets his deeds speak for themselves. He doesn't obscure his beliefs and feelings. He is capable as a Christian of recognizing that love of the deity or deities is something that transcends differences and tries to be an example that, as Christians are commanded, we love one another and treat one another with compassion.

He was just short of stern when he reminded us that we are a good nation, a tolerant nation. He cooled the heat of righteous indignation. It was a tremendous risk for him at the time because most Americans were decidedly not in a tolerant and forebearing mood. We wanted to hit hard with deadly force to avenge our dead, but he understood the deeper heart of the American people and he rose to nurture the better angels of our nature.

The example he set represents the biggest danger to al Qaeda. The retaliation Muslims had reason to fear didn't happen, and however inconceivable it may be to jaded sophisticates, it is in part because he helped us find our peace with God. They do not want to trust him, and may never drop their suspicions of him and his motives, but what can they truly point to that proves he means other than what he says he means?

So they have retreated and made a mighty spin to try to depict this admission of brotherhood as cynical and manipulative, and I'm beginning to think that, as the Democrats continue to campaign on their Hate!Bush platform, that their real issue is that they know the American people were affected by love and respect for this man who defied all the pundits and rose to lead us at the darkest hour of our time.

In other words, the only chance the Democrats have to win in November is if they can fan the fires of Democrat hatred for the President. It doesn't take a psychologist to recognize that this is evidence of his immense stature among the American people, and it doesn't take a genius to recognize how destructive and horrifying their campaign really is.

I say destructive and horrifying because the Democrats are pandering to the worst of our natures. They are actively pitting cynical sophistication, which believes the worst of people, against the natural optimism of our country. They are urging us to indulge in selfish, short-time interests instead of recognizing a higher goal of renewing opportunities for peace, prosperity and freedom to the peoples of the world and, in so doing, lessen the danger to ourselves.

Can one be truly free when one's brothers and sisters are enslaved? We answered that question within our own borders over 100 years ago, and today are faced with the same question. Are we to now answer differently?

The irony hasn't escaped me that the Republicans gave one answer in 1860 and the Democrats another, and we finally purged our country of slavery through blood.

Given the choice between those who acknowledge and revere the best of humanity and those who darkly believe the worst, I will go with the first every time because I've seen too much evidence in my lifetime of how good and decent people innately are.

Think about this contradiction: Kerry has raised the scarecrow of "exporting jobs" and the prosperity it brings to Third World countries even though those exported jobs helps create a middle class in those countries - and the independent businesses that can grow in those countries because they provide commodities to that middle class - and thus promise development and reducing if not ending poverty as well as creating the class that will bring about democratic reform.

He depicts this development of a middle class in Third World countries as a bad thing! He is campaigning for American First! How does that reconcile with the Democrat affectation of being oh so concerned about poverty and tyranny in the Third World? Is his plan to bring jobs back to the US and then raise taxes on the working class so the American workers can feed those in the Third World who are now unemployed and thus strengthen the resentment of those who would be dependent on hand-outs instead of the dignity of their own labour and effort?

Why do they hate us? Among the proferred answers: tyranny, poverty, despair, etc. etc. all of which are supposedly our fault. What would be the result of Kerry's foreign policy? He would end the sanctions on Iran and strengthen the grip of the mullahs, send Third World countries into economic disaster by ending jobs, and pander to those European elites who don't believe that the peoples of their former colonies are capable of embracing freedom. Gee, do you suppose "they" would hate us even more? Can't the Dems achieve any consistency? Maybe it's hard to do so when you don't really have a plan other than getting elected!

Kerry is a populist of limited vision and, unlike most populists, no personal appeal. There's no nicer way to put it. He has no vision, no plan, panders to discontent and selfishness and has focused on his actions of 30 years ago because that's when his contributions to the USA ended.

I watched CNN earlier today when the commentators were wistfully opining that, with the primaries and opponents for the nomination out of the way, Kerry will reveal his true self and his true vision for the future. What better admission that he is a hypocrite and a charlatan.

UPDATE: Wow, it looks as though Kerry's near-certainty as the Dem presidential candidate has been the cause for a lot of reflection by a lot of people. Glenn Reynolds wondered if Pres. Bush was losing his war support base and gotten a lot of good answers.

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

California Proposition Results

Mar. 3 - 3 California voters OK Schwarzenegger's budget rescue approving Propositions 57 and 58 and defeating Propositions 55 and 56.

Proposition 56 proposed that budgets be passed by a 55% majority in the legislature and was an attempt to water down the state law (enacted by earlier passage of Proposition 13) which requires that budgets be passed by a 2/3 majority. It was defeated with 64% of the voters voting against the measure.

Proposition 55 was a school bonds bill and, according to CNN, was trailing with 48% approval.

California politics are weird. The majority of the state is fanatically Democrat and keep electing a Democrat Assembly but don't trust the Democrats or even want them to act like Democrats so they continuously handcuff them by refusing to let the Democrats have their way with budgets, by rejecting school bonds, and won't let them raise taxes.

[Note: California is my home state and I wrote the above with affection. It's just the way politics have been conducted in California ever since I can remember.]

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

March 02, 2004

What Goes Round . . .

Mar. 2 - Marybeth notes that the the French don't seem to grasp that What Goes Around...

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

The Proliferation of Blogs

Mar. 2 - A computer in every home, and two blogs on every hardrive? The figures in this post by Jeff Jarvis indicate that the desire to write about what we see and feel is more widespread than even optimists believed.

Posted by Debbye at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

Mark Steyn

Mar. 2 - Mark Steyn examines Kerry and nuances, about which he says Kerry has got nuances coming out of his nuances:

... As the New York Times put it in its endorsement of the Senator: "What his critics see as an inability to take strong, clear positions seems to us to reflect his appreciation that life is not simple. He understands the nuances."

That may be the most lethal endorsement since Al Gore leapt on the Howard Dean bandwagon and sent it careering into the ravine. Just for the record, Kerry can take strong, clear positions. It's just that he tends to take both of them.

Oh well, Kerry can always stand on his record. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act under Clinton, but is against gay marriage. He voted against Gulf War I, but was for it. He voted for Gulf War II, but was against it. He has voted against military appropriations but supports the troops.

Now that Edwards has dropped out of the race, Kerry says he is ready to take on President Bush. If he approaches the campaign with much more nuance, though, we may be excused for deciding that his campaign planks are NUBAR - nuanced beyond all recognition.

Posted by Debbye at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

The Secessionists of Vermont

Mar. 2 - The people have spoken: Killington residents vote to secede from Vermont:

Town officials said about two-thirds of the 200 to 300 people who attended the town meeting supported secession.
Yes, Virginia, there are still places where town meetings are held to vote on matters of concern to the town's citizens.

There were some other places voting today but I'm holding out until I hear the results from California (no, not the Dem primaries, the propositions!)

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

PA Reforms

Mar. 2 - Arafat has reportedly agreed to a plan to reform the means by which security officers are paid according to AP. This has been done to get more international aid for the bankrupt Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Arafat agreed to the financial reform step at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. "President Arafat approved paying all the security men through the banks," Qureia said after the meeting.

The 2004 Palestinian budget, approved in January, projected a 50 percent deficit of $800 million, underlining the critical role of foreign aid. The Palestinian economy has been decimated by more than three years of Mideast violence.

Palestinians blame Israel for punitive travel restrictions, but Israelis cite the need for security measures after thousands of attacks, including more than 100 suicide bombings.

Punative travel restrictions? Oh, the humanity! A series of murderous attacks, thankfully some aborted, has resulted in travel restrictions! Next thing you know, even children will be under suspicion.

And the report includes this:

In Gaza City, meanwhile, Arafat's position of authority took another blow early Tuesday when gunmen shot and killed Khalil al-Zaben, a close associate of Arafat for four decades. The killing was seen as part of escalating Palestinian power struggles in Gaza, and some feared chaos and civil war there.

Posted by Debbye at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Mar. 2 - My curiosity, originally aroused by references to Gulbiddin Hekmatyar here and here, drove me to google him and I found Afghanistan Online: Biography (Gulbuddin Hekmatyar) which has no information beyond 1997. YMMV.

I'll add more when I find something relatively objective.

NOTE: Ouch, really poor wording. When I re-read this, I realized it sounded as though I was casting doubt on the objectivity of the biography I linked, which I wasn't. What I meant was that I found some links during my brief google that weren't as objective.

Posted by Debbye at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

The Passion of The Christ

Mar. 2 - Good post over at Let It Bleed on some of the reactions On Gibson with a focus on David Frum's Feb. 29 entry in his NRO diary which I too found odd.

By the way, today's entry includes mail - a lot of it - from some of David's readers.

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

SARS (still)

Mar. 2 - Nurses bore the brunt of SARS fears according to a Study:

The researchers, from Toronto's Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, found personnel higher up the hospital pecking order -- hospital administrators, supervisors and doctors -- suffered less distress and were less fearful for their lives than workers lower down the power structure who were on the front lines.
They needed a study to tell them that? How much did they pay for this insightful, hitherto unknown insight?

Posted by Debbye at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Quick Hits

Mar. 2 - Canada assailed for failing to step in and save Aristide. Indeed. Who might fall next if Canada doesn't take a firmer line and flex soft diplomatic muscles for all they're worth - Mugabe? Chavez? the Iranian Council of Guardians? Shame! Blame France Canada? No, because PM Martin thinks that the rebels should consider sharing power with Aristide (because that has worked so well in Ivory Coast?)

Blacks angered by gays' metaphors:

"We find the gay community's attempt to tie their pursuit of special rights based on their behavior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s abhorrent," Bishop Andrew Merritt of Straight Gate Ministries and several other Detroit pastors said recently in a statement supporting traditional marriage. "Being black is not a lifestyle choice."


Black Americans have been liberal on many social issues, "but not this one," according to Star Parker, a California-based conservative leader.

The homosexual "marriage" issue "is where we get off the bus," she said.

Several black pastors are gathering today in San Francisco for the first of several rallies to denounce same-sex "marriage." Others are planning rallies in Boston on March 11, when Massachusetts lawmakers reconvene to consider an amendment upholding traditional marriage.

Democrats play it safe on gun issues but both Sens. Kerry and Edwards were making a rare appearance in the Senate today to vote for renewing the ban on assault-type weapons and to strengthen controls over gun show sales. Kerry will avoid talking about it with his usual response - I was in Vietnam, you know - but Edwards will have to negotiate this one a bit more carefully maybe saying it's the President's fault that we are using assault-type weapons in Vietnam Iraq. Or something.

Chalk another stupid and harmful stunt up to Jackass: 15-year-old seriously burned trying to copy TV stunt. It's called Jackass! That's a clue! What do they learn in schools these days?

(The above were gleaned from Neale News.)

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

Toronto Matters

Mar. 2 - A different approach to ending crime to think about: according to David Kennedy, a Harvard criminologist and director of the Boston Gun Project, says "Ceasefire works"

But where Kennedy and the chief part is over what to do about it. Fantino has tried a conventional crackdown, using specialized task forces aimed at guns and gangs and street violence, along with a few immigration and parole violator sweeps.

"Everybody does that -- it doesn't work," Kennedy said.

Instead, he recommends something called Operation Ceasefire, which brings together all the law enforcement agencies -- police, prosecutors, parole and probation services, along with social services and community groups.

The key is to gather as much intelligence as possible about the social networks -- Kennedy dislikes the term "gangs" -- and groupings who are committing the crime, then tell them in face-to-face meetings the next violent crime by one of them will see all members of the group -- their friends -- punished.

That's backed up with offers of help and support to get clear of drugs and crime and a relentless approach to enforcement if the offer is spurned.

The result is something Rochester, N. Y. district attorney Mike Green calls "reverse peer pressure."

It seems simple, really: give the relatively small number of gang members a warning, an alternative, and enforce the warning if they fail to heed it.

I think people who live in communities in which the sounds of gunfire and the shock and grief that arise from the deaths deserve a more serious, immediate response than after-school basketball games.

I think my workmate who runs "gunfire drills" so her young children will know to dive under their beds or otherwise take cover when they hear the sounds of shots deserves more than empty, predictable words from our pitiful city leaders. (UPDATE: Link tag fixed)

Of course I have no idea if this approach would work. If I was that smart, would I be running this small blog from my home? I'd be rich and famous, don't you know, making tons of money off the lecture circuit and landing huge grants for consultations as well as royalties from my scribblings.

I only know that I am sick and tired that my tax dollars are spent on efforts that are known not to work.

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


Mar. 2 - PM Martin has pledged Canadian troops to help Haiti and thinks that, although the Canadian Forces are stretched "very thinly," there will be enough available troops to do the job.

Talk is cheap and grabs the headlines, but how many American troops are they counting on to transport, outfit and supply them?

Sorry, Canada, but I wish President Bush had stayed out of this one and let France and Canada put their troops where their mouths are (with profound apologies to the many Canadians who are appalled at the state of Canada's military. Maybe being embarassed in the international arena and at the UN would be what is needed to get the Canadian government to take the plight of the military seriously.)

I guess a truly objective appraisal of events in Haiti should include Aristide's reported claim that he was kidnapped and forcibly removed from Haiti but I remember former Liberian president Charles Taylor's excessive delays and can't get as upset as maybe I should at the prospect that there might be even a kernal of truth in his allegations.

Posted by Debbye at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

Greg Sorbara, Ont. Min. of Finance

Mar. 2 - According to the Ontario Securities Commission, there was no rule against Sorbara talking to Ontario Premier McGuinty or the ethics commissioner to disclose his potential conflict of interest with the inquiry into Royal Group Technologies.

Why would Sorbara need to talk to anyone? The minute he learned of the investigation he must have known he was at least in the appearance of a conflict! The suggestion that he might require an ethics commissioner to tell him so reflects very poorly on how the concept of ethics is often perceived.

Is it too much to ask that the Ontario and Canadian governments select their Ministers of Finance with at least some appreciation of how essential it is that they be above reproach? They control how we, the people's, money is spent. Shouldn't a basic understanding of ethical behaviour be a job requirement?

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


Mar. 2 - Although PM Martin has requested that those who didn't blow the whistle earlier come forward now, it only serves to underline the danger of not having protections for whistle-blowers in place. According to this report, not only was money of the budgets for other projects cut back to fund the program, Alfonso Gagliano, the Cabinet minister in charge of the sponsorship funds, was directly involved in deciding who got funds, and others observed the by-passing of procedure:

Both Quail and former public works deputy minister Janice Cochrane told MPs that in hindsight they see grave problems in the sponsorship program.

Cochrane said she was "never able to receive a satisfactory answer" to why the program was being run outside the normal checks and balances.

Who can doubt that many civil servants took their lesson from the treatment of the former president of the business Development Bank, Francois Beaudoin, to heart?

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

First Amendment Rights

Mar. 2 - This is disturbing: Catholic Group Is Told to Pay for Birth Control by the California State Supreme Court.

The ruling has sweeping implications for religion-based nonprofit organizations and hospitals throughout the state and could influence decisions made in at least 20 other states that have similar laws requiring employers to provide contraception as part of employee health coverage, legal experts said. A similar case, brought by Catholic and Protestant organizations, is winding its way through the New York courts.


The United States Supreme Court has narrowed its protection of religious practices, a move legal scholars attribute to its reluctance to force judges to weigh the relative merits of church and state interests.

"This is a shocking interference with internal church affairs, but it's the way the law has been headed broadly," said Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Texas. "They shouldn't be able to do this, because as a matter of principle this is just wrong, but cases have been going this way."

Catholic Charities of Sacramento, which brought the case in 2000, argued that it should be exempt from the state law because it is a unit of the Roman Catholic Church, and the law does allow an exemption for "religious employers" like churches.

But the State Supreme Court ruled that the organization did not meet any of the criteria defining a religious employer under the law, which was passed in 1999. Under that definition, an employer must be primarily engaged in spreading religious values, employ mostly people who hold the religious beliefs of the organization, serve largely people with the same religious beliefs, and be a nonprofit religious organization as defined under the federal tax code.

Mr. Dolejsi said the court had either ignored or misunderstood the relationship between Catholic Charities and the Roman Catholic Church.

"Every Catholic Charities is part of the Catholic diocese in the area where it is," he said. "Officially and formally, Catholic Charities of Sacramento is part of the Catholic Church in Sacramento, answerable to the local bishop and providing the services the church provides as a religious organization."

This, to me, is not about upholding reproductive rights (although it is seen as such by far too many people, including the ACLU) but about the Court's failure to protect the freedom of religious expression. The Catholic Church's stance on birth control is public and well-known, and however much I may disagree with their stance, I see it as critical that their right to uphold their stance in Catholic institutions is guaranteed under the Constitution.

I'm among many former (or is it lapsed?) Catholics who left the Church over their stance on birth control. I'm very uncomfortable with abortion - it's hard to dispute the "fetus" is alive when one has actually had children - but I do believe in using contraceptive devices for reproduction control as bearing a child at my age would be more than difficult. But contraception is not 100% effective, so what would I do should I learn I was pregnant? I don't know, so in all honesty can't condemn abortions or those who have them.

But I think this is more a political than a judicial decision, and another reason to consider legislation that might serve to remind judicial activists that the Constitution restricts as well as guides them.

Times links have brief lives, so here is the CNN report, which offers this elaboration on the ruling:

But the Supreme Court ruled that the charity is not a religious employer because it offers such secular services as counseling, low-income housing and immigration services to people of all faiths, without directly preaching Catholic values.
Actually, isn't the offering of these services to people in need who aren't Catholic completely in accord with Christian values? And if these services were delivered with preaching Catholic values, how loud would the screaming be about forcing Catholic values on those in need of these services?

UPDATE: Donald Sensing compares lthe implications of this and other rulings to endorsing discrimination against religious people:

More and more, the relationship between the state apparatus in America and religious people and denominations is resembling how the old Soviet regime dominated eastern Europe: "I get to do what I want to do, and you get to do - what I want to do."

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)


Mar. 2 - Another Instalaunch for The Globe and Mail and Margaret Wente's latest column in which she calls Jean Pelletier, Chretien's "Silent Executioner," on his arrogance:

There's only one explanation for Mr. Pelletier's bizarre remarks. He has pushed so many people around for so long that he thought nobody could ever push him back. For the past decade he was the PM's man, doing the PM's work. He had the habit of unchecked power, and old habits die hard.
On one hand, I'm glad to see Glenn helping expose the wretched state of how the Liberals run roughshod over anyone who tries to expose their thuggery, but on the other I'm saddened that the possibility of a spring election up might result in actually giving the Liberals a mandate which will make Canadians look incredibly ____ (fill in your own blank - I can't actually find a word.)

I think Glenn's motive, however, might be more that of taking aim at Americans who have been too admiring of Canada's public image without looking below the surface, so please put a hold on any return fire.

UPDATE: Could we please stop using the phrase street-fighter to describe Chretien? It insults street-fighters. Chretien was more a mobster, or thug. who wielded power by hiding behind those like Pelletier.

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

March 2 Terrorist Attacks

Mar. 2 - What can I say about the attacks and attackers in Baghdad and Karbala that have killed over 140 people and wounded countless others on the Shiite holiest day of the year?

Of course, these events don't prove that "insurgents" are trying to foment rage against Sunnis. Not one bit. (That was sarcasm.)

Nor does the simultaneous nature of the attacks - at least five homicide bombers - actually prove al Qaeda involvement because it is reasonable to assume that other groups would adopt the same tactics. (That isn't sarcasm.)

CNN, of course, is far more impressed with the few hundred that demonstrated in Karbala who blamed the US for the attacks (opportunism much?) because they can handle that kind of report better than reporting on the true evil that is terrorism.

UPDATE: Maybe it was al Qaeda: there has also been an attack in Quetta, Pakistan, in which at least 38 people were killed and hundreds wounded after gunmen open fired on a procession of Shiites, and a local Shiite leader was shot and killed in Mundi Bahauddin.

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

Education in the USA

Mar. 2 - Why I still take the NY Times seriously: this editorial which supports the No Child Left Behind program (Rescuing Education Reform) and, although taking some sideways shots at the Bush administration, calls upon Democrats to recognize that the positions taken by the NEA (National Education Association) are not supportable:

Democratic legislators are also fearful of the National Education Association, the country's largest and most powerful teachers' union. The union has a history of vigorously resisting standards-based change and is dead set against making teachers subject to federally dictated qualification and performance standards. While Mr. Paige made an egregious error in referring to the union as a "terrorist organization," the N.E.A. has not served the cause of quality education well in this fight, particularly when it attempts to turn suburban parents against the new law.

Instead of pandering to the law's opponents, whoever wins the Democratic nomination needs to seize what may be the country's last opportunity to achieve basic fairness in public education. That means standing up to wavering Democrats who are eager for a chance to jump ship.

If this keeps up, I'll have to stop referring to the Toronto Star as NY Times-lite so as not to unfairly insult the Times.

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

Adscam: The Basics

Mar. 1 - Some background and players for framing questions that need to be asked to learn Who knew what and when

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

Interim Constitution of Iraq

Mar. 1 -

"For the next 100 years this day will be mentioned as one of the most important in Iraq's history," said council member Samir Shaker Mahmoud. "This will be remembered in the annals of history as a turning point in relations between the state and citizens in this country and in the region."
Iraq Constitution Has Checks and Balances and is the framework for a federalist state in which the Kurds and other regions will retain some degree of autonomy and will have two official languages - Arabic and Kurdish.

Islam will be the state religion but will not be the sole basis of the law.

A thirteen article bill of rights establishes protections for the freedoms of speech, religious expression, assembly and due process.

The national assembly will be chosen by direct elections and they will chose a president, prime minister and two deputy presidents.

The prime minister will administrate the country's affairs, and the president will command the armed forces and have a veto over the national assembly's resolutions. He can declare war, but not without the assembly's explicit approval.

The report states the interim constitution was finally agreed upon at 4 a.m.

That the charter was produced at all was partly a product of the framers' understanding that they would make history if they succeeded, an eventuality that required a strong dose of compromise.

"We fought our way inch by inch toward the center," Mahmoud said. "And then, at 4 a.m. ... or thereabouts, we got there."

Indeed they did.

UPDATE: Damien Penny points out one glaring defect in the charter.

Posted by Debbye at 07:22 PM | Comments (0)

Iraq Reconstruction Fund

Mar. 1 - $1B released for Iraqi reconstruction programs will be initially overseen by Japan. From what I caught on CNN, other countries that pledged more than a specified amount (possibily $1 million?) will also be part of those who scrutinize the books.

I'd like to read words like "open and transparent" transactions about these funds if only to remind the world how it's supposed to be done.

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Phillipine Ferry Fire

Mar. 1 - Phillipine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that there was no evidence that the ferry fire that left 184 people missing was caused by a bomb, and dismissed claims by Abu Sayyaf that they were responsible.

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

James Lileks

March 1 - After chatty commentary about seeing the movie Mystic River, today's Bleat looks at how Kerry answered a question and what he revealed. Great read.

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

Rumsfeld's War

Mar. 1 - First and second in a series of excerpts in Rumsfeld's War, a book about US Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, courtesy of the Washington Times.

Rumsfeld's immediate recognition that we were at war initiated his list of needed changes, including how Special Operations would be allowed to function. (See this for some recent steps to give Special Forces more flexibility.)

(Yes, I am a total Rumsfeld fan. Nuance in wartime is highly overrated.)

OFF-TOPIC: Today's Washington Times takes note of Peter Worthington's column of yesterday which had appeared in the Toronto Sun.

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

Who is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar?

Mar. 1 - A a link provided by an lgf commenter led to this article about how, in 1999, the CIA had forged a working releationship with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud (who, you may remember, was killed by terrorists posing as cameramen Sept. 9, 2001) in an effort to capture or kill Bin Laden.

Flawed Ally Was Hunt's Best Hope:

The CIA first sent Massoud aid in 1984. But their relations were undermined by the CIA's heavy dependence on Pakistan during the war against the Soviets. The Pakistani intelligence service despised Massoud because he had waged a long and brutal campaign against Pakistan's main Islamic radical client, the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. As the war against the Soviets ended, Pakistani intelligence sought to exclude Massoud from the victory, and the CIA mainly went along. But under pressure from the State Department and members of Congress, the agency eventually reopened its private channels to Massoud.
From Feb. 15, the name Gulbuddin Hekmatyar appeared here when I linked to a story about the capture of a key player in Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's terrorist organization in Afghanistan by Canadian troops
However, Kabul police chief Gen. Baba Jan said ousted Taliban insurgents, al-Qaida fighters and Hekmatyar's rebels have formed a tight alliance that is spreading violence throughout the countryside and into Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bomb blast that killed Cpl. Jamie Murphy and an Afghan civilian on Jan. 27 but the man arrested was said to be a disciple of Hekmatyar's.

"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.

There are a few other interesting things in the article about Massoud that I want to think about before I speculate.

UPDATE: The Yahoo link is apparently dead, so here are the Washington Post articles here and here upon which the Yahoo story was based and this is an account that casts doubt on some of the unsavoury rumours about Massoud.

Posted by Debbye at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)