October 30, 2004

Transcript of Osama tape

Oct. 30 - I still haven't seen the tape (and am unlikely to, as I'd have to, like, tune on CNN and pay attention in order to view the tape ... yeech!) but the Fox website has what appear to be most of the words and Matt Druge has the transcript.

Is he actually suing for peace? I think we've gone way, way beyond that, although it will please those who are openly in favour of appeasement.

So long, Osama. Nice to hear from you again, but we're a bit busy these days hunting down your friends and dispatching them to the lower regions of Hell.

If you let us know where you can be reached, we'll drop a daisy cutter by for tea someday.

11:23: Some different views on the tape from Wretchard (who says "Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out,") Beldar (who believes he is making "an invitation to Pres. Kerry to negotiate a truce,") Donald Sensing calls it a "yawner" and notes "the tape is the best al Qaeda can do. A videotape is their pre-election surprise" and although he cautions against letting our guard down thinks "... the new OBL tape should encourage us that we are winning. Before 9/11, bin Laden acted, not blustered. Now bluster is about all he's got against America, though al Qaeda sadly still kills abroad." Roger Simon reluctantly admits OBL seems alive, and links to a commenter with more than the usual credentials who makes some interesting observations that suggest OBL really is dead (a must read!)

It struck me that OBL is suing for a separate peace. That would mean that, having initiated and take the leadership in the war on terror, we could just abandon it and save our skins, but what of our allies? What of Iraq?

Another thing: he focuses solely on the Mideast, but doesn't mention other hot spots, such as Indonesia. Australia has her own just grievances against OBL, but unless something has occurred in the past few hours, a similar offer hasn't been made to her or any of our other allies (the real ones, I mean, not the "traditional" ones, as an offer was allegedly made to France in exchange for rescinding the headdress ban.)

There have been a variety of opinions as to whether this helps President Bush or Senator Kerry, and we should see a lot of spin from the media and their trained seals experts as to which. As though we haven't already had plenty of that in the course of this campaign.

To more important matters: it appears the assault on Fallujah is underway, and eight good Marines have died.

Semper fi.

Oct. 31 - 18:01 - I'm wrong about the campaign in Fallujah. Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawai is warning that patience is wearing thin:

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's warning, delivered in a nationally televised news conference, occurred as U.S. forces prepare for a showdown with thousands of militants holed up in Fallujah - the city that has become the focal point of armed resistance to the Americans and their Iraqi allies.

Allawi appeared to be aiming to prepare the Iraqi public for an onslaught likely to unleash strong passions, especially among the country's Sunni Muslim minority.


U.S. officials say Allawi will personally issue the final order to launch any all-out assault on Fallujah and other Sunni insurgent strongholds north and west of the capital.

Allawi gave no deadline for talks with Fallujah city leaders to bear fruit, but he insisted they must hand over foreign fighters and allow Iraqi security forces to take control of the city.

"We have now entered the final phase of attempts to solve Fallujah without a major military confrontation. I hope we can achieve this, but if we cannot, I have no choice but to secure a military solution," he added.

It's easy for me to sit over here and wish for faster action, but Allawi has to think of Iraq's future and the difficult task of knitting together the different factions to create a strong, unified country.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 AM | Comments (4)

October 29, 2004

Osama Speaks!

Oct. 29 - The MuNu server went down before I published anything this morning (which I took as a sign to get some sleep) and I woke up to learn I had slept through a new Osama tape. CNN is all a-twitter about it, but the only thing that surprised me was that he actually seems to have taken credit for the Sept. 11 attacks, which deals a severe blow to those who insisted it was Mossad, the CIA, or never even happened. Other than that, I don't see that it informs me of anything we didn't already know: he doesn't care who wins the election because he hates us. Period.

The tape did say that they will continue to attack us until we stop attacking them, which is a backwards endorsement for President Bush as it affirms that we are attacking them and a blow to Kerry who insists Iraq was a "diversion."

It's hard for me to tell if I'm overly dismissive about this latest tape (although I'll concede it appears the bastard is still alive) or if it is truly dismissible, but I think maybe the media is running too hog-wild with it because the missing explosives story is faltering and they want to divert us.

Maybe I'm just tired of everyone trying to divert us. Taking the fight to the enemy is basic military strategy, so what does make my eyes light up is news that finally, finally, it appears that we are going to renew the campaign in Fallujah. Sooner, please?

As for Osama? He still hates us. And after all we've done for him ...

And as for me, I am off to work.

Update: This should learn me (again!) to trust CNN snap headlines. Now that I've been able to read the transcript I think this is a significant change from the usual bin Laden message. But I think he still hates us.

Posted by Debbye at 06:22 PM | Comments (2)

What is in those boxes?

Oct. 29 - The issue from beginning of this story was when did they go missing.

A news video might be of the missing explosives or they might show another explosive material classified 1.1D.. (I didn't see ABC News last night so can't comment to the video shown in that broadcast, but Deacon at Power Line says its useless.)

By the way, Fox has the IAEA report of January 14, 2003, online here in .pdf form for anyone who is interested (it's about 11 pages long in Adobe Acrobat.)

CNN has what may be the best description of the affair: Two more bits of possible evidence have surfaced in the mystery of the missing Iraqi explosives, but they appear to bolster two different scenarios as to what may have happened to the cache.

Maj. Austin Pearson with the 3rd ID has stated that they removed and destroyed about 250 tons of explosives from Al Qaqaa in April, 2003 but doesn't know if they were the ones said to be under IAEA seal.

I turned CNN on in time to hear commentators express incredulity that the Pentagon cannot yet state which explosives were destroyed by the 3rd ID, which reinforces the fact that none of them have ever served in the armed forces. Sen. Kerry is pounding the same theme, though, which is odd because we all know that he did serve so he should know fully that backtracking events in the military is laborious and time-consuming. They don't call it "the army way" for nothing.

The stickers said to be on the boxes in the video released by ABC evidently are of a substance that is mixed with water (or did ABC use stock footage of boxes that were not at Al Qaqaa?) I've had some small experience with Hazmat designation numbers up here in Canada, and all I know for sure is that the classification numbers are intended to tell emergency crews what they are dealing with - corrosives, explosives, etc. - rather than identify any specific substance. If I'm following this correctly, the IAEA numbers have the same degree of specificity.

But now the debate has shifted over to things that make my eyes glaze over as the last chemistry class I took was long ago.

Wretchard does his best to clarify matters for even a science-challenged person like me here and looks at the possible content of those boxes here.

Sometimes one just has to rely on their common sense. Power Line notes drily "I'm not sure how you would "specifically search for" seven hundred fifty-four thousand pounds of explosives, but somehow, I suspect that if you saw them, you'd notice." The supposition that two different military units failed to notice that many boxes under IAEA seal just doesn't hold water.

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

Online exit poll

Oct. 29 - Space Monkey is conducting an online exit poll here. Those who have cast early or absentee ballots can, if they chose, state who they voted for and in which state.

Posted by Debbye at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

A woman of courage

Oct. 29 - Be sure and read Humalia Akrawy: An Iraqi Woman Speaks Out.

I tried to excerpt it to give you a taste of how passionately the post vibrates with her love of freedom, and couldn't. You will have to read it for yourself.

(Link via One Hand Clapping.)

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

October 28, 2004

Those missing explosives wrap-up (for now)

Oct. 28 - Okay, I had some dinner (it's a shift work thing) and have had time to try to let this thing settle. The fact remains that the IAEA inspectors cannot have inspected the explosives if the bunkers were sealed, so the repeated assertions that they "inspected the explosives" is simply untrue - the inspectors merely looked at the seals.

I'm willing to attribute the inaccurate assertions of "inspected the explosives" to careless wording by the New York Times and other news media, but if the ABC story that the bunkers were readily accessible without breaking the seals holds up and we remember the NY Sun article stating that the IAEA refused to destroy the explosives despite the urging of the inspectors, some of the statements in that NY Sun article suddenly seem more than speculative:

On Monday, a spokesman for the American mission at the United Nations questioned the timing of the release of the material on the part of Mr. ElBaradei. Rick Grenell told the Sun's Benny Avni the "timing seems puzzling."

After a behind-the-scenes battle inside the State Department this summer, the Bush administration opted to reject Mr. ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director general of the atomic energy agency.

At the time, Washington was collecting intelligence - disputed by some agencies - that Mr. ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanction from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs.

Mr. al-Baradei has publicly urged the Iranians to heed an earlier pledge to suspend enrichment, but he has also opposed America's policy of taking Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council. Mr. al-Baradei has announced he will nonetheless seek a third term. Nominations for the director general position close on December 31. [Emphasis added.]

The bolded portion of the article is a bombshell but really, why shouldn't we consider that possibility? The investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program revealed a bureaucracy without accountability, and had coalition forces not liberated Iraq and removed the Saddam regime, we would never have known about the extent to which that program was corrupt, the inspections would have gone on until they declared Iraq disarmed, and the sanctions would have been lifted. Saddam would have resumed his quest for WMD (including nuclear capability) and the world would have been in mortal danger.

Suddenly Hans Blix is no longer merely irritating and Mohammed El Baradei is no longer merely pompous. They are two incredibly powerful men who literally had the world in their care and dropped the ball. The question is if it was due to negligence or corruption.

The case for war has suddenly, in retrospect, been altered. (No, I don't think the president lied, but I've always assumed that the government concealed information - not out of malevolence toward the American people but because that is the nature of being at war.)

Many of us who supported the war had some lingering hope for the inspection process but recognized that regime change, which is to say removing Saddam and his psychotic sons, was the only right thing to do. But now we are faced with the fact that Iran and N. Korea have or are close to having nuclear capability and it was done on the El Baradei's watch.

The mood of the American electorate as both El Baradei and Benon Sevan are revealed to be incompetent at best or corrupt at worst will not bode well for the U.N. The one poll that hasn't been conducted lately is to assess the confidence of Americans in the U.N., but the most recent ones had indicated growing disillusion with that organization, and that will be a consideration when voters cast their ballot for "American unilateralism with staunch and valiant allies" or "global test."

Five.More.Days. Judging by the past four days, it will be longer than a lifetime.

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

The terrible twos

Oct. 28 - Ghost of a Flea celebrates his Second Blogiversary. Go thank him for his wonderful contribution to the blogosophere. Right now!

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

Those missing explosives III

Oct. 28 - This is going to be one of those crescendo posts, so if you're in a hurry, skip to the last two links.

The NY Times reports today that President Bush responded to the charge that US forces were negligent and allowed 380 tons of explosives to fall into terrorist hands:

"Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site," Mr. Bush told thousands of Republicans at an airport rally in Lancaster County, Pa., his first stop of a day that took him through three states.

"This investigation is important and it's ongoing," he said, "and a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

The exact timing of the disappearance of the explosives is critical to the political arguments of each campaign. Mr. Kerry's contention that the administration did not adequately secure the country and was unprepared for the war's aftermath presumes that the explosives disappeared after the fall of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003, as officials of the interim Iraqi government say.

If the explosives disappeared before Mr. Hussein fell, as Mr. Bush now says is possible, that would undercut Mr. Kerry's argument and bolster Mr. Bush's contention that his opponent is making charges without all the facts.


The last time that international inspectors saw the explosives was in early March 2003, days before the American-led invasion. It is possible, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency say, that Saddam Hussein's forces may have tried to move the material out of the 10 huge bunkers at the Al Qaqaa facility where it was stored to save it if the facility was bombed.

If so, that would partly support Mr. Bush's contention that the Iraqis could have moved 380 tons of material very far without being detected.

But Mr. Bush on Thursday did not address a critical issue raised by the discovery of the missed explosives: why American forces were not alerted to the existence of a huge cache of explosives, even though the atomic energy agency and American officials had publicly discussed the threat it posed, and knew its exact location.

The commander of the troops that went into the Al Qaqaa facility on the way to Baghdad in early April, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, has said he was never told the site was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began.

I'm not necessarily knocking the Times, but if I'm following this story properly, what the inspectors saw in early March were seals, not explosives, and they only verified that the seals had not been broken. A small detail, but one which may be significant.

Another article in the NYT, 4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in "03, revisits the looting (perhaps because it's the only leg this story has left to it?) and still can't answer when the explosives went missing:

Agency [IAEA] officials examined the explosives in January 2003 and noted in early March that their seals were still in place. On April 3, the Third Infantry Division arrived with the first American troops.

Chris Anderson, a photographer for U.S. News and World Report who was with the division's Second Brigade, recalled that the area was jammed with American armor on April 3 and 4, which he believed made the removal of the explosives unlikely. "It would be quite improbable for this amount of weapons to be looted at that time because of the traffic jam of armor," he said.

The brigade blew up numerous caches of arms throughout the area, he said. Mr. Anderson said he did not enter the munitions compound.

The Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division arrived outside the site on April 10, under the command of Col. Joseph Anderson. The brigade had been ordered to move quickly to Baghdad because of civil disorder there after Mr. Hussein's government fell on April 9.

They gathered at Al Qaqaa, about 30 miles south, simply as a matter of convenience, Colonel Anderson said in an interview this week. He said that when he arrived at the site - unaware of its significance - he saw no signs of looting, but was not paying close attention.

Because he thought the brigade would be moving on to Baghdad within hours, Al Qaqaa was of no importance to his mission, he said, and he was unaware of the explosives that international inspectors said were hidden inside.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday that analysts were examining surveillance photographs of the munitions site. But they expressed doubts that the photographs, which showed vehicles at the location on several occasions early in the conflict, before American troops moved through the area, would be able to indicate conclusively when the explosives were removed.

Col. David Perkins, who commanded the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, called it "very highly improbable" that 380 tons of explosives could have been trucked out of Al Qaqaa in the weeks after American troops arrived.

Moving that much material, said Colonel Perkins, who spoke Wednesday to news agencies and cable television, "would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks."

He conceded that some looting of the site had taken place. But a chemical engineer who worked at Al Qaqaa and identified himself only as Khalid said that once troops left the base itself, people streamed in to steal computers and anything else of value from the offices. They also took munitions like artillery shells, he said.

Mr. Mezher, the mechanic, said it took the looters about two weeks to disassemble heavy machinery at the site and carry that off after the smaller items were gone. [Emphasis added.]

Again with examining the explosives and determining the seals were still in place, which is be a contradiction.

What the NY Times story doesn't tell you is that there was a major battle in the area before the 3 ID entered the facility on April 3.

[Army Col. David] Perkins commanded 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division. A unit under his command, the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, entered the depot on April 3, 2003, and defeated the enemy forces there in a two-day battle.


Perkins, now assigned to the Joint Staff, said it is "highly improbable" that the enemy was able to take the explosives out any time after U.S. forces arrived in the area. It would require "that the enemy sneaks a convoy of 10-ton trucks in and loads them up in the dark of night and infiltrates them in your convoy and moves out," he said. "That's kind of a stretch too far."

When his battalion arrived at Al Qaqaa April 3, it engaged several hundred enemy soldiers and the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam in the area. The unit killed or captured all who were there, with the battle lasting through April 5.


At the same time, Perkins said, the soldiers of the unit did an initial assessment of the depot. "The concern was what's the capability of the munitions, rather than how much was there," he said

His soldiers concentrated on looking for weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical weapons. They found suspicious white powder and reported that through the chain of command. A chemical unit arrived, tested the powder and determined it was safe. The soldiers did not find the IAEA- sealed explosives.

Iraq was one of the most heavily armed countries on Earth. Perkins said it is important to remember that in its push to Baghdad, the brigade passed many depots containing thousands upon thousands of tons of arms and armaments. The brigade had no indication that the Al Qaqaa depot was anything special. "It was just another cache of weapons like the dozens we had passed," Perkins said.

The unit left the area April 5. "The mission was to quickly defeat the enemy and cause the collapse of the regime," Perkins said. "So what we did then was continue to push down the east side of the Euphrates because there was a whole brigade of the Medina division facing them."

After the 3rd Infantry Division left the area, the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, took up residence through April 11.

The 75th Exploitation Task Force visited the facility May 7, May 11 and May 27. They found no IAEA material during any of these visits. [Emphasis added]

No, that isn't the final word, but maybe this is:
Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
But I think this may be the final word:
Iraqi officials may be overstating the amount of explosives reported to have disappeared from a weapons depot, documents obtained by ABC News show.

The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.

But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.

The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.

The IAEA documents could mean that 138 tons of explosives were removed from the facility long before the start of the United States launched "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in March 2003.


The IAEA documents from January 2003 found no discrepancy in the amount of the more dangerous HMX explosives thought to be stored at Al-Qaqaa, but they do raise another disturbing possibility.

The documents show IAEA inspectors looked at nine bunkers containing more than 194 tons of HMX at the facility. Although these bunkers were still under IAEA seal, the inspectors said the seals may be potentially ineffective because they had ventilation slats on the sides. These slats could be easily removed to remove the materials inside the bunkers without breaking the seals, the inspectors noted. [Emphasis added]

(ABC link via Michael Totten at Instapundit.

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 AM | Comments (4)

October 27, 2004

Those missing explosives II

Oct. 27 - There still hasn't been anything definitive as to when the explosives were taken, but everyone has pointed out that a cache that large would have required 40 trucks to move, and since there seems to have been a lack of IAEA seal sightings, the implications are that they were moved before US troops arrived.

Almost time to go to work, but here are some links on Bombgate (or NYTrogate as Captain's Quarters is calling it, or Qaqaagate from Powerline) starting with the CBS report filed April 4, 2003, which indicates that

a) CBS doesn't believe their own stories, and/or
b) CBS doesn't read their own stories, and/or
c) they still don't both to fact check their stories in their rush to impugn the president, and/or
d) all of the above.

From the CBS story:

U.S. troops found thousands of boxes of white powder, nerve agent antidote and Arabic documents on how to engage in chemical warfare at an industrial site south of Baghdad. But a senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the materials were believed to be explosives.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the materials were found Friday at the Latifiyah industrial complex just south of Baghdad.

"It is clearly a suspicious site," Peabody said.

It seems that the 3rd ID visited the site before and after the 101st Airborne, and indications are that the 3rd ID didn't find anything with IAEA seals on their first visit.

It would have been nice had they destroyed the explosives then, I guess, but since suspicions were high that there were chemical and biological agents hidden in the facility, maybe that wouldn't have been such a good move, hmm?

Good old 20/20 highsight. It never comes in time to actually inform decisions.

Super good links to follow are Captain's Quarters which was first with the CBS story about the 3rd ID visit to Al Qaaqa in April, 2003. (Link via Instapundit post by Michael Totten.)

Wretchard clarifies matters best. Excellent post as always.

The NY Sun says UN inspectors were urged to destroy the explosives in 1995.

N.Z. Bear wonders why the explosives haven't been used and has a comprehensive link round-up including this one which wonders about Mohammed Al Baradei's motives.

Power Line covers the President's response to the issue.

I have to get ready for work, but am taking a moment to reflect on the way things were in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

You remember the March and April days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, don't you? When the troops kept their gas masks close at hand, and we were braced for an attack of sarin or mustard gas. When we prayed it wouldn't happen because even though the troops had personal protective equipment the Iraqi people didn't and the death toll of civilians would have been staggering.

We weren't looking for conventional weapons. Those we found. We were looking for the unconventional ones. We didn't find them, and that has been a campaign issue.

We found conventional ones, and that has become a campaign issue too.

6 more days. Please let the country stay sane.

I was in media post when the server went down, and regret I don't have time to respond to some comments in earlier posts, but I'll miss my bus if I don't get the heck out of here. Please excuse poor grammar, spelling errors and incorrect syntax.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

This is getting out of hand ...

Oct. 27 - Sorry, MuNu went offline this morning while I was writing this post, but in truth I needed sleep more than I needed to post (selfish, I know.) It was a very rough night at work, so going to bed early might have been for the good.

I haven't focused on the vandalism and intimidation that has becoming a worrisome part of this campaign but now I read that someone tried to run down Rep. Katharine Harris with his car before swerving away at the last moment.

It would seem Bush supporters are safer in Canada than in the USA!

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

October 26, 2004

NBC Embed confirms material already gone in April, 2003

Oct. 26 - [Update: The Third ID was at the facility a week before the 101st. Scroll down for more.]

An NBC crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division accompanied the soldiers to the Al Qaqaa weapon storage facility on April 10, 2003, and found the powerful explosives already gone. (Note that the fall of Baghdad occurred April 9, 2003.)

The last IAEA verification that the material was at the facility was in January, 2003.

Aside: Joe Lockhart, Kerry's senior advisor, is an ass. After the story went Pop! there was a somewhat petulant exchange:

"John Kerry's attacks today were baseless," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said. "He said American troops did not secure the explosives, when the explosives were already missing."

Schmidt also said that Kerry "neglects to mention the 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that are either destroyed or in the process of being destroyed" in Iraq.

But Kerry senior adviser Joe Lockhart fired back with a statement of his own, accusing the Bush campaign of "distorting" the NBC News report.

"In a shameless attempt to cover up its failure to secure 380 tons of highly explosive material in Iraq, the White House is desperately flailing in an effort to escape blame," Lockhart said. "It is the latest pathetic excuse from an administration that never admits a mistake, no matter how disastrous."

I think CNN got the last word here:
Lockhart did not elaborate on how the Bush campaign was distorting the NBC report.

8:06: The CBC is sticking with the original story as of this time.

UNITED NATIONS - Hundreds of tonnes of high explosives are missing and probably looted from a former Iraqi military facility, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Monday.


The Al Qaqaa facility, a large military installation located 45 kilometres south of Baghdad, has been under U.S. military control since the war, but has repeatedly been looted.

Some wonder whether the missing explosives are now being used in insurgent attacks against the forces of the U.S.-led coalition. (Bolding added)

I'm certain they'll update the story soon.

10:58: The National Review has the transcript of the story from last night on NBC News:

Here's the MSNBC report of this story. (Update: It seems to have been expanded at my second viewing at 8:51 p.m.)

12:01: The CBC still hasn't updated the story, and the Toronto Star is carrying the original account, or yesterday's discredited news today. I almost feel sorry for them, they're having such fun over an already discredited story.

By the way, today's account in the NY Times is Iraq Explosives Become Issue in Campaign. Yep, you might say that.

Wretchard ties in the removal of the explosives some time between January and April, 2003, with the "global test" so many promote:

Although it is both desirable and necessary to criticize the mistakes attendant to OIF, much of the really "criminal" neglect may be laid on the diplomatic failure which gave the wily enemy this invaluable opportunity. The price of passing the "Global Test" was very high; and having been gypped once, there are some who are still eager to be taken to the cleaners again.
[I first posted this at 7:40 but am bumping it to the top.]

21:00: It appears the Third Infantry Division arrived at al Qa Qaa a week earlier on April 3, 2003 (google search here - you need a paid subscription to read old articles on The Straits Times.) I haven't seen anything on what explosives the Third ID found but this reprint of an AP story is extremely interesting:

Closer to Baghdad, troops at Iraq's largest military industrial complex found nerve agent antidotes, documents describing chemical warfare and a white powder that appeared to be used for explosives.

U.N. weapons inspectors went repeatedly to the vast al Qa Qaa complex - most recently on March 8 - but found nothing during spot visits to some of the 1,100 buildings at the site 25 miles south of Baghdad.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said troops found thousands of 2-inch by 5-inch boxes, each containing three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

A senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the powder was believed to be explosives. The finding would be consistent with the plant's stated production capabilities in the field of basic raw materials for explosives and propellants.

(Drumbeat may be on hiatus, but the archives endure.)

Remember: in the first months of OIF, we were more concerned about stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The MSNBC has expanded their earlier article on this including the recollections of the embed who was with the 101st Airborne on April 10 which are that the 101st was only there 24 hours and didn't conduct a thorough search.

The Toronto Star reports on the NBC embed's recollections but that aspect has lost traction after the report that the 3rd ID had been there a week earlier.

From Drudge, Elizabeth Jensen of the LA Times reports:

CBS News' "60 Minutes" landed a major story last week: the disappearance in Iraq of a large cache of explosives supposed to be under guard by the U.S. military. But the network nevertheless found itself in the journalistically awkward position of playing catch-up when it wasn't able to get the piece on the air as soon as its reporting partner, the New York Times, which made the report its lead story Monday.
A number of questions are being raised by this story, the biggest of which has to be if the "insurgents" have those weapons, why haven't they used them? The other should be why didn't the U.N. destroy those explosives but we already know they chose to let Saddam keep them for "construction" uses.

Tangentially, Roger L. Simon urging that the possibility that Mohammed El Baradei is the source of this story - and the timing - be explored further. If the UN is attempting to influence the US elections it is a major scandal, although after UNSCAM I guess I'm prepared to believe the worst.

CBS and the NY Times really should consider putting on their 'jamies occasionally and researching articles more fully. Unfortunately, I have to change out of mine and dash off to work.

Posted by Debbye at 12:28 PM | Comments (3)

More coalition casualties in Iraq

Oct. 25 - From an AP story, Convoys bombed, 8 killed:

BOMBINGS STRUCK four coalition and Iraqi military convoys and a provincial government office yesterday, killing at least eight people, including an American soldier and an Estonian trooper in the Baghdad area. Coming a day after the bodies of nearly 50 Iraqi military recruits were found massacred, the bombings occurred as a UN agency confirmed that several hundred tonnes of explosives were missing from a former Iraqi military depot in an insurgent hotspot south of Baghdad. [Note: explosives story has been discredited]

The revelation raised concerns the explosives fell into the hands of insurgents who have staged a spate of bloody car bombings, although there was no evidence to link the missing explosives directly to the attacks.

Estonia, another country Kerry dismisses. Oh well, he was dismissive of Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War too.

Thank you for your support and sacrifice, Estonia.

Yesterday, a roadside bomb in western Baghdad killed one U.S. soldier and wounded five, the U.S. military said. An Estonian soldier died when a roadside bomb exploded at a market just outside Baghdad as his patrol went by, the Estonian military said. Five other Estonian soldiers were wounded.


Insurgent attacks across Iraq have increased by 25% since the holy month of Ramadan began two weeks ago.

Do you suppose AP would get upset if I put death quotes around "insurgents?"

[Note that the paper editions of, er, newspapers were printed before they realized that the missing explosives story was wrong.]

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

It's a tax, not a premium

Oct. 26 - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has affirmed that the new health care tax is a tax, not a premium which means that people, not employers, must pay it.

His statement came in response to an ruling that a nursing home must cover it's employees at a cost of up to $900 per worker because the arbitrator considered it to be a premium and the contract said that the employer covered OHIP [Ontario Hospital Insurance] premiums. Another arbiter ruled that it was a tax, so opinion is divided.

If it is a premium, then the Ontario government (which means us) will have to pay it on behalf of government employees which could run as high as $2 billion, according to NDP leader Howard Hampton.

It's all about the wording. Premier McGuinty said

"But the intention remains the same, and it's been very clear from the outset, this is a tax provision found within the Income Tax Act and our intention is that taxpayers will pay this new premium."

McGuinty called the tax a premium in an advertising campaign, and Finance Minister Greg Sorbara referred to it as such in his official budget speech.

[NDP leader Howard] Hampton said their statements have created a problem for labour arbitrators who are dealing with contracts that refer to health premiums.

"I suppose the government could bring in legislation that says that Dalton McGuinty and Greg Sorbara misinformed the public," Hampton said.

Tory Interim Leader Bob Runciman said the government may have to bring in legislation to clarify that the premium is, in fact, a tax.

Free health care is not free. It is paid for by taxpayer money, and is expensive in part due to the layers of bureaucracy that exist to ensure the system is not abused, in part because those working in the public sector are paid higher wages and receive more benefits than their counterparts in the private sector, and in part because the marketplace checks that would get rid of ineffective and inefficient administrators and facilities don't exist in the public sector.

This crisis in health care has reached alarming proportions. Waiting times for diagnostic tests can run to several months. Imagine a doctor saying I don't want to alarm you but I'd like to schedule a CAT scan because I think you may have a brain tumor. Let's see, you should be able to get the test 6 to 9 months from now so we'll schedule a follow-up appointment for next year and review the findings of the scan, okay?) "Americanized health care" is demonized but it's also what desperate Canadians utilize by travelling to the US, getting the CAT scan the day after they arrive and the results of the test that day.

Has the Canadian federal health care system become one of rationed health care? Yes, at least here in Ontario.

Robert A. Heinlein used a word in his book The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress which means "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" - tanstaafl. The failure to heed the lessons of that 1966 novel are being driven home in Canada because the cure for less and less efficient delivery of those services is proclaimed to be Yet More Money which will ensure that services won't deteriorate as rapidly.

In spite of their inability to maintain health care services, the Canadian federal government is already setting the groundwork for establishing a federal child care program (or is that an early education program?)

The extra neat twist is that, according to the Canadian Constitution, health care and education are provincial mandates, so the federal government has usurped one set of provincial powers and is preparing to usurp another set of provincial powers with nary a whimper from Ontario.

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

Robert Merrill (1919?-2004)

Oct. 26 - Another legend has passed on, baritone Robert Merrill. One of my favourite recordings of La Boheme is with him as Marcello (it was a record set which I had wisely copied to tape cassettes.) It also featured Jussi Bjorling and Victoria de los Angeles.

Robert Merrill, Roberta Peters and Beverly Sills were names I cam to know as I was exposed to and learned to love opera. (The biggest influence, though, remains dear Leonard Bernstein.)

Although I couldn't find a mention of it, I am pretty sure Merrill once appeared on The Odd Couple TV series and TV Tome has these listings for him.

Posted by Debbye at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

Election Predictions

Oct. 25 - John Hawkins at Right Wing News conducted a poll among 85 right-of-center bloggers about the elections, and the results are in.

No real surprises, but it's still gratifying!

Posted by Debbye at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

Those missing explosives

Oct. 25 - I've been trying to think of something to say about the Tons of Iraq explosives missing but I've developed a severe headache from banging my head on the desk.

Posted by Debbye at 01:04 PM | Comments (4)

Kosovo update (depressing)

Oct. 25 - This report on the Kosovo elections is sharply critical of the failure of the U.N. and the recent elections (Kosovo poll reveals failure of UN rule) which were notable for their apathy and the boycott by Serbs:

Early results from the weekend's general election showed that five years of UN rule had only deepened ethnic divisions as Kosovo's voters signalled their despair with the Balkan province's administrators.

Barely more than half of Kosovo's 1.4 million voters went to the ballot box. While the province's majority ethnic Albanians were struck by apathy, its 130,000-strong Serb minority was seized by anger and completely boycotted the poll.

Only a handful of Serbs voted, following calls from Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian Prime Minister, and the Serbian Orthodox Church to stay away. Mr Kostunica described the election as a "failure".


A victory for the moderate Albanian LDK party of current President Ibrahim Rugova was indicated by early results but it has once again fallen short of an outright majority and will have to form a coalition.

Once formed, the local government will have a slim portfolio of responsibilities, while all meaningful power remains with the UN.

The provisional result equates to a maintenance of the political status quo by default, as both Kosovo's bitterly opposed ethnic Albanians and Serbs signalled their dissatisfaction with foreign rule.


At the moment, though run by the UN, Kosovo is still officially part of Serbia and a land which Serbs have cherished for centuries.

Long happy to do nothing, Kosovo's international administrators were stung by riots in March that made clear that maintaining the stand-off was counterproductive. Now Kosovo appears deadlocked.

Not the most postitive outlook.

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

Canadian military news

Oct. 25 - It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but this does: Military housing rents to be increased:

CANADA'S cash-strapped soldiers living in military homes will see their rents hiked by up to $100 on Nov. 1. Defence department spokesman Tina Crouse said the Canadian Forces Housing Agency will increase rents on bases across the country to bring them in line with surrounding rental prices.

"For the small number of occupants who have not reached appraised shelter values, their rent will continue to increase until they are paying based on the appraised value of their home," Crouse said.

Crouse said about half the military's 15,000 homes and apartments will see a rent increase to a monthly maximum of $100.

The boost comes while soldiers haven't seen their pay increased since April 2003, when they received a 2.5% hike. The lowest-paid private makes $26,616, while a sergeant can receive a maximum salary of $53,484.

I often wonder if the Canadian government is trying to actively discourage enlistment, but that can't be so because PM Martin wants to increase the size and capability of the military, right? I mean, that was a campaign promise, right?

Nov. 18 19:00: There may be a reprieve on the rent. Let's hope.

Posted by Debbye at 11:39 AM | Comments (3)

Cherry speaks on Cherry

Oct. 25 - Don Cherry will be the featured "great Canadian" on CBC tonight. Wrestler Bret Hart will make the presentation.

Don says here that

... he's a good Canadian, not a great one. On CBC last week, he threw his support behind another Top-10 finalist, Sir John A. Macdonald.

"Gotta endorse another good Kingston boy," he said.

He now says he would vote for Canada's Unknown Soldier, who placed No. 21 on the list. "As far as I'm concerned, he's the guy who should be the greatest Canadian. He paid for Canada with his life."

Cherry thinks he'd win hands down if the show was called The Most Popular Canadian. "I've got no humility on that one," he told the Sun.

He seems to be enjoying the consternation of the "white wine spritzer-drinking" elite" over his nomination.
"It's funny, eh? The frenzy the left-wing media is in," Cherry said.

"So far, I've been called shallow, narrow-minded, high-collared, low-brow, racist, retarded, hidebound dinosaur -- I don't even know what that means, hidebound," he said.

Cherry continued: "Embarrassing, buffoon, monster, cash cow, beer-swilling, puck-chasing hoser. Beer-swilling, puck-chasing hoser -- that sounds like a good Canadian to me."

Outspoken? Definitely. A breath of fresh air in what is too often a stiflingly, politically-correct country? Oh yes.

Posted by Debbye at 11:33 AM | Comments (1)

Pfc. Stephen Sensing, Marine

Oct. 25 - Donald Sensing has posted some joyous news about the Graduation Day of a Marine.

There are some other posts at One Hand Clapping, including one about the probable impossibility of stopping nuclear proliferation.

I don't know if the good Reverend plans to begin posting daily to his blog, but I certainly hope so.

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

Our real allies

Oct. 25 - The news that 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers were waylaid and murdered is perhaps the grimmest in several acts of violence in Iraq yesterday which also saw the death of a U.S. diplomat, Edward Seitz, and has been more than adequately covered everywhere, but I wanted to bring attention to the death of a Bulgarian coalition soldier which may have been overlooked:

A Bulgarian soldier was killed and two others were injured in a car-bombing near Karbala, the Bulgarian Defense Ministry said. Karbala, a Shi'ite holy city south of Baghdad, had been quiet since U.S. troops routed Shi'ite militia there last spring.
We don't often remember to thank the soldiers from other nations that are actively supporting the efforts in Iraq. My condolences to this man's family and hopes for a speedy recovery for the two injured soldiers.

11:56: 3 Australian diggers have been injured in the first ever attack on an Australian convoy:

The three-vehicle convoy, which protects Australia's diplomats, was hit when a bomber drove a car laden with explosives into it at about 8am Baghdad time, also killing several Iraqi civilians.

The attack happened 350m from the Australian embassy, which is outside the city's fortified Green Zone.

The convoy was believed to be on routine patrol or having returned from dropping off a diplomat. There were no diplomats with it at the time.

Defence Force spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan said one of the soldiers was undergoing surgery last night for facial injuries, another was concussed and the third was treated for minor abrasions and released.

He said the injured were taken to a US medical facility and their families were being contacted.

What can one say about the valiant Australians? (Not enough, quite frankly.) Thank you, mates.

The most arrogant aspect of the Kerry campaign has been his disregard for the real allies who are fighting and dying in Iraq in favour of promoting his phantom allies:

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
Kerry probably got the year wrong, having meant that they all chatted that Christmas they spent together in Cambodia.

It's likely there will be a sustained campaign against American, Iraqi and coalition forces this coming week as the increase in violence is clearly intended to influence the U.S. elections, but it is my belief that knowing we are being manipulated will stiffen, not weaken, our spines.

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

On the draft

Oct. 25 - For some reason I am getting a large number of google searches on the draft, and although I don't recollect writing about it, I'll address the subject briefly.

Only Congress can pass legislatation to enact conscription, aka compulsory military service aka the draft. It would be political suicide for them to do so, and if there's one thing we can assume about the majority of politicians it is that they don't self-destruct (at least on purpose!)

The President has gained a great deal of political capital on the tremendous successes of our volunteer army. He certainly won't request such legislation because he too is a politician and why tamper with success?

The successes of our volunteer army has proven decisively that men and women who want to perform a task are far more effective than people who begrudgingly perform a task. The troops don't want the draft either because their lives depend on their fellow soldiers.

Today's military is composed of highly trained professionals and a great deal of money over a period of years is spent in that training. It would be wasteful and non-productive to train draftees only to release them from service before they are even capable of being utilized as warriors.

The email campaign that says President Bush plans to reinstate the draft is based on a lie and intended to alarm people, not alert them.

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

The sanctions worked, hmm?

Oct. 25 - More on UNSCAM: AP EXCLUSIVE: Iraqis reveal in secret interviews how Saddam manipulated oil-for-food program. In addition to the information already contained in the Duelfer Report about the use oil vouchers to enlist support for the lifting of sanctions, a Congressional committee has gathered evidence of further corruption:

One investigator described the exempt list as the equivalent of the list in Duelfer's report of oil voucher recipients, but in this case for goods imported under the U.N. program.

"Until now, it had been thought that only vouchers for oil were handed out, but due to disclosures by Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Trade, we now understand that the practice was spread even further," said the investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Companies on Saddam's special lists got vouchers giving them priority for deals in humanitarian goods under oil-for-food, or to act as middlemen for companies providing goods.

Some Iraqi officials confirmed the lists were crafted to reward companies from countries supporting Iraqi political goals, especially the lifting of U.N. sanctions, investigators said.

"These lists illustrate how Saddam Hussein cynically manipulated and corrupted the oil-for-food program," said Hyde [Chair of the House International Relations Committee Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.] "The fact, disclosed in the Duelfer report, that some countries based their Iraq policies on these corrupt practices is shameful."

The exempt list came from an official at the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and was authenticated separately by over a dozen current and former Iraqi officials, investigators said.

There were also companies black-listed:
Over 250 companies appear on Saddam's blacklist, obtained from an Iraqi Health Ministry official, according to congressional investigators. The document also details reasons the companies lost favor with the Iraqi government. Dozens of the companies are blasted for "dealing with the Zionist entity," apparently referring to Israel.

One contract in English obtained by AP from investigators required companies given deals with the Iraqi government to sign a pledge that says, "We hereby confirm our commitment and pledge not to deal with Israel."

American companies Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard Co., and Eli Lilly and Co., make the list for this reason and Agilent Technologies Inc. -- which was spun off from Hewlett-Packard -- is accused by Vice President Ramadan of changing its name from Hewlett-Packard to "enter into Israel," according to the document.

The Russian oil company Lukoil seemingly scored a hat trick:
Lukoil, which reportedly clashed with Baghdad after refusing to break sanctions to begin development of an Iraqi oil field, is the only company to make the oil voucher list, the exempt list and the blacklist. Its entry onto the blacklist is dated October 2002. In December 2002, Iraq announced the cancelation of a $3.7 billion contract with Lukoil to develop the oil field.
(Link via Instapundit.)

The AP story is also up at the ABC News website.

Posted by Debbye at 03:15 AM | Comments (1)

Good news from Iraq

Oct. 25 - Long but well worth the time to read and digest: Arthur Chrenkoff has written a comprehensive review of the good news from Iraq:

In truth, of course, there is only one Iraq. Even if we don't see it too often reflected in the news coverage, we instinctively know that Iraq of violence and Iraq of recovery can, and do, coexist with each other within the same physical borders. We know that there is nothing mutually exclusive about tragedy and hope, horror and promise, frustration and exuberance. This is true in our own lives; and so it is just as true in lives of whole nations.
This article is also available at the Opinion Journal online as Two Nations as One if the demand makes the first link inaccessible.

I'm not going to comment further; I want to re-read the article.

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

October 24, 2004

Jack's Newswatch

Oct. 24 - Jack should be recuperating, but you just can't keep a newshound down. Jack says "only one entry today" but that one entry is full of links and commentary.

Jack doesn't wish Arafat "well" and has an amusing recollection on the last sighting of "bin Elvis."

Welcome back, Jack. You've been missed.

Posted by Debbye at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Guardian columnist under investigation

Oct. 24 - By now I guess everyone has read Charlie Brooker's column in the Guardian which he concludes by expressing his hope that someone would assassinate President Bush (or maybe you only heard about it, as the Guardian server was overwhelmed and knocked off line for a few hours yesterday.) The column has been pulled, and a disclaimer posted in it's place that the column was meant to be humourous although the disclaimer concedes it was "flippant and tasteless."

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the original column was preserved and can be here. (Link via Power Line, and, as does Hindrocket, I leave it to you to determine if it was meant to be humourous.)

Brooker is evidently being investigated by the Secret Service but so is Matt Drudge apparently for the way in which he publicized the column:

Citing federal statute 18 USC 879, Florida attorney John B. Thompson, called in the Secret Service Protective Intelligence Unit. "Please do whatever is necessary to punish the UK Guardian and to educate Matt Drudge on the meaning and scope of statute 18," Thompson wrote in a letter faxed to the SS on Saturday.

Thompson's letter indicates that not only was his complaint being taken seriously by the SS, but that it had already been tipped off about the Guardian story before receipt of his letter.

"I am relieved to find out that you were alerted to this danger last evening and are working on it."

To be honest, I don't know if I would have followed the link to yet another tiresome Guardian column had I not read the controversial quote and I sincerely hope that the citizens of Clark County, Ohio, also saw it in order to better judge thosee enlightened Britons who sought to influence the vote.
Thompson's concern is that the combined circulations of the Guardian and Drudge Report manifest a siren call to whackos among the millions of readers reached by the publications.

Memo to the Secret Service: wackos don't require urging from the Guardian or Matt Drudge for inspiration, but Americans do need sites like Drudge so citizens and bloggers can get information that MSM would prefer to hide.

Posted by Debbye at 06:07 PM | Comments (1)

Rosie O'Donnell Speaks Out!

Oct. 24 - First Cher and now Rosie O'Donnell.

Probably most of you don't really care what Rosie had to say in support of Sen. Kerry, but the heart of this story is that evidently voters in Ft. Lauderdale don't care either, as only a few dozen people turned out to hear her (story via Drudge Report.)

I'll give Rosie points for being much more articulate than Cher but she too flunked history:

Rosie said the Bush Administration's actions go "against the foundation of what our country was built on," giving example of Administration telling the "United Nations we would ignore their doctrine and their resolutions."
The primary foundation upon which our country was build is a document called "Declaration of Independence," Rosie, in which we asserted our determination to establish consensual government in defiance of the conventional wisdom by which elites governed Europe.

The sad fact is that elites still govern much of Europe, and we are still in rebellion against them.

This was also disturbing:

At CLUB OVATION Rosie endorsed Kerry's assertion in debate that America needs to pass a "global test" before acting in the world.

"The best part to me in the entire debate was when John Kerry said we have to pass a global test before we enter into a war...

So Rosie must not have gotten the memo that, far from being the "best part," that assertion was the worst part and Kerry has been trying to work his way out of the logical inference that having a "test" would give other countries a veto over US foreign policy.

Aren't Democrats even interested in what the test questions would be, much less who would administer and grade it? There is a global test, of sorts, already: what else can we call nearly routine U.N. Security Council and U.N. National Assembly motions which condemn Israel for her acts of self-defense but which fail to condemn those attacking her?

Stick to comedy, Rosie, unless you are more interested in being comedy these days.

Posted by Debbye at 05:47 PM | Comments (1)

The spectre of Halliburton

Oct. 24 - Halliburton. That name has become a byword to invoke images of Evil Corporate America yet few actually know what it is and what function it performs.

I have come to learn one thing about Halliburton: When other agencies fled Iraq, Halliburton and its employees stayed and continued to perform their duties in the best tradition.

FoxNews looks at Halliburton's subsidiary KBR, which supplies food and supplies to US troops in Iraq, and calls those employees America's Unsung Heroes. It looks to me that the KBR employees have found a higher calling in Iraq other than the high pay, and it's time they were recognized and applauded.

Posted by Debbye at 05:25 PM | Comments (6)

Blogroll Update

Oct. 24 - I've done some additions to the blogroll lately:

A while ago I added:
A Chick Named Marzi,
Blog Iran,
Highway 99,
No Pasaran!,
Ubique Patriam Reminisci, and
Yankee from Mississippi.

Now I've added:
The Diplomad,
A Western Heart,
Where the Hell Was I?,
INDC Journal,
The Truth About York,
The Last Amazon,
The Red Granger,
Taylor & Co.,
Spiced Sass, and
The Sundries Shack

Also, (sound the trumpets) I finally got the script around the Shotgun button fixed so it actually links to the Shotgun blog.

Lastly, there's been some scuttlebutt that bloggers should identify party affiliation and how they intend to vote.

For the record, I am registered as an Independent voter in the State of Georgia, and I already voted for President Bush by absentee ballot.

Posted by Debbye at 01:38 AM | Comments (2)

October 23, 2004

Stolen Honor

Oct. 23 - Canadians will be able to see Stolen Honor (or, in Canadian, Stolen Honour) the film that has stirred so much controversy because it brings back some history that many of us want to forget.

As I mentioned before, I remember Kerry's testimony before the Senate, and it was so shocking that I was skeptical as to its veracity, anti-war though I was.

It can be viewed here: Stolen Honor (The Video Kerry Doesn't Want You to See).

Link via a post at Ghost of a Flea, who also has links to two other sites here.

I am about to watch it, which should satisfy those family members who have implored me to continue not supporting the Red Sox as my vital contribution to a Boston long overdue World Series victory.

21:20: Stolen Honor was compelling, so much so that the baseball fans here used the mute button in order to first hear and then watch the documentary. Roger Simon says

While viewing this movie, I imagine most of my generation find themselves reviewing themselves and their actions at the time rather than the film.
That is certainly true, and some of the tears I shed were due to my guilt over my own indifference at the plight of PoWs, but there is also this: those of us who learned from our mistakes and regret our indifference to how our actions affected those who served in Vietnam have applied the lesson to the current conflict in Iraq.

When the prospect of the war in Iraq first loomed, I'm surely not the only person who thought long and hard about what we were asking of our military men and women and understood that, in return, the very least they should expect from me was to hold faith with them, to support them, and to be strong in the face of the anticipated pessimistic and alarmist reports filed by peace war correspondents.

To bolster our resolve, we had already been through the harsh Afghan winter and that action was hailed as a quagmire right before victory.

I want to believe that the American people learned a critical lesson from Vietnam: breaking faith with those who serve is a heinous, unforgiveable crime. The test will be how we vote on November 3. If Kerry wins, then those men and women who have served will be within their rights to spit on us.

Posted by Debbye at 08:24 PM | Comments (2)

Midnight Cowgirl

Oct. 23 - You know what's good about working the midnight shift? Not a damned thing. Well, the steady paycheck is a good thing, but trying to figure out what day it is and attempting to be, you know, sharp and focused are frustrating especially when I'm trying to write insightfull stuff.

I've determined that the source of my problem is that I stopped taking my multi-vitamin pills. I remembered reading that the red dye on the shell could cause insomnia, and I realized that my problems with getting sleep were probably due to that factor (I dismissed the foolish notion that the coffee I imbibe during the night might be contributing to the problem.)

Anyway, what is evening to you is morning to me, but at least we both know it's finally Saturday. (That last sentence is not intended for any Australian readers, who know that it's morning but also believe it's Sunday. Oh well, at least we can all agree on something.)

Another cause for lamentation is that I finally had to wear woolly gloves this morning. That acceptance of the approach of winter preceeds the next one, which will be to wear a neckscarf and then, alas, the winter boots that will replace my dearly beloved and incredibly comfortable running shoes. The tocque will be my final concession, and I won't wear one unless it's 20 below with 80 kph winds.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 PM | Comments (5)

Cher Speaks Out!

Oct. 23 - Cher issued dire warnings at a Florida disco about the era of repression that will destroy our freedoms if the president is reelected.

People in Florida still go to discos? Only a few hundred, in this case, but then they also went to see Cher which is another head-scratcher.

"There were supposed to be thousands of people here tonight. I'm not sure why that didn't happen, obviously the people putting on this thing were just not very good at it," an embarrassed Cher explained to the crowd.
Didn't she have a farewell tour? These divas are like freaking stray cats - they just keep coming back and won't stay away.
"Alright, but you guys are here, that's right. When I was coming down the steps I though 'Oh s**t, well I'll just go out there and give it my best.'"
You would be excused for thinking that she proceeded to sing, but you'd be underestimating the multi-talented entertainer.
Cher warned moveon.org clubgoers to fight Bush, before "it's too late":

"All the gay guys, all my friends, all my gay friends, you guys you have got to vote, alright? Because it would only be a matter of time before you guys would be so screwed, I cannot tell you. Because, you know, the people, like, in the very right wing of this party, of these Republicans, the very very right wing, the Jerry Falwell element, if they get any more power, you guys are going to be living in some state by yourselves. So, I hate scare tactics, but I really believe that that's true."

"I think that as Bush will, if Bush gets elected, he will put in new Superior Court judges, and these guys are not going to want to see gay pride week."

Cher declared that Abraham Lincoln "looks like Kerry on a crappy day."

She's warning Move On "to fight Bush"? What does she think they've been doing these past four years? Yet Cher's ignorance of contemporary events, and especially Kerry's and Edwards' gay-baiting Mary Cheney, is matched only by her keen grasp of American history as demonstrated by her comparison of Kerry to Lincoln.

In 1864, Lincoln was the war candidate and George McClellan was the appeaser.

Lincoln was often cartooned as a simian, and McClellan was depicted as the war hero.

McClellan was the darling of the news papers which regarded Lincoln's awkward speech and gawkish appearance embarassing. (Even back then the news media fretted about European perceptions of Americans.) Lincoln was savaged in the newspapers in ways that made the treatment accorded to Bush seem gentle.

Lincoln's decisive victory was due in part to the votes of those soldiers that McClellan pompously assumed would vote for him. Yes, the very same soldiers who were actually fighting and dying in the war to preserve the Union supported the war and their president.

Did I mention that Lincoln won and McClellan lost?

Posted by Debbye at 03:34 PM | Comments (3)

Two positions from the British

Oct. 23 - Leader in today's Telegraph on the presidential election: If Bush loses, the winner won't be Kerry: it will be Zarqawi.

Charles Brooker, a writer for the Guardian, has gone off the deep end completely. After lamenting the failure to to influence voters in Clark County, Ohio, he seems to have accepted the inevitability of a Bush victory with less than grace:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us.
[Oct. 24 - 22:35: The original column has been pulled and a "We was only fooling!" disclaimer put in its place, but the original column was preserved here. Well done, William!]

M'kay. They managed to sneak in a disproof of God, which I'm sure is very clever and all, and the fact that they don't like our president is certainly stop the presses news, but the closing line is beyond punditry and strays dangerously close to hate speech:

John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
Getting beyond the contemptible advocation of murder, I'm stopped cold by his assumption that the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were good things. (I'm not surprised he might consider the attempt on Ronald Reagan's life to have been good.)

And he wonders why Americans don't value the advice of Guardian readers.

(Guardian link via Drudge Report.)

Update: Shannon makes a good point:

What I find incredibly odd - er, refreshing - is that the article's author seems to buy into the whole Bush-was-wired-during-the-debates conspiracy (which, it must be said, my friends of the left also do not buy into), yet he seems to actually think Oswald killed Kennedy. Apparently, he hasn't seen JFK.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (1)

October 22, 2004

France urged to respond to accusations

Oct. 22 - Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX,) the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to President Chirac urging him to share any information from investigations into allegations of corruption by French businesses and politicians in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program which was detailed in the Duelfer Report.

From the letter:

The Report cites compelling documentary and testimonial evidence suggesting that France's policies toward the Program, and Iraq in general, may have been motivated by economic self-interest. According to documents obtained by Mr. Duelfer's team from Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization, several French politicians received allocations of Iraqi oil, including Charles Pasqua, France's former Interior Minister, and Jean-Bernard Mérimée, the former French ambassador to the United Nations. Moreover, Iraq's former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz claimed to have personally awarded several French individuals substantial oil allotments, adding that these individuals "understood that resale of the oil was to be reciprocated through efforts to lift UN sanctions, or through opposition to American initiatives within the Security Council." Finally, recovered Iraqi Intelligence Service ("IIS") documents reveal that Saddam's regime "targeted a number of French individuals that the Iraqi's [sic] thought had close relations to French President Chirac, including, according to the Iraqi assessment, the official spokesperson of President Chirac's re-election campaign, two reported 'counselors' of President Chirac, and two well-known French businessmen." These IIS documents also describe a May 2002 meeting between a representative of Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a French parliamentarian, during which, "The French politician assured the Iraqi that France would use its veto in the UNSC against any American decision to attack Iraq, according to the IIS memo."

This Committee also has concerns that French companies may have been selling weapons to Iraq during the sanctions period, in direct violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 661. According to the Report, Mr. Duelfer and his team found evidence that as early as 1998 French companies received "offers and contracts from Iraq for conventional weapons systems and [engaged in] negotiations for possible WMD-related mobile laboratories." For instance, recovered documents show that the French company Lura supplied a tank carrier to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in late 1998 or 1999 and that a French expert "arrived in Iraq in September 1999 to provide training and offer technical expertise on the carrier." Moreover, by 1999, "French firms displayed a willingness to supply parts for Iraqi conventional military items, mainly related to aircraft." IIS documents reveal that the Deputy General Manager of SOFEMA, a French company, planned to visit Iraq in January 2000 on behalf of a number of French military companies to "seek possible trading between the two countries" concerning Iraqi air defense capabilities. These efforts continued right up until Operation Iraqi Freedom ("OIF"). The Report notes that in late December 2002 Iraq "initiated efforts to acquire replacement parts for the Roland II Surface to air missile system, valves for Iraq's air defense system, and various other high technology items with military and battlefield applications" from the French Thompson Company and that Mr. Duelfer's team "found evidence of coordination on this procurement up until 23 days before OIF."

As has been noted before, one has to wonder if the French were against the war or on the other side. (Okay, I don't really wonder, but I'm trying to appear objective.)

Speaking of being on the other side, the failure by much of the main stream media to report the facts contained in the Duelfer Report on UNSCAM couldn't be due to Kerry's pretense that the French and Germans are allies who would have joined us in Iraq had President Bush only been nicer, could it?

I'd love to link to what the Canadian mainstream media is saying about the ongoing revelations about Oil-for-Palaces, but I haven't seen any items.

Over at the Shotgun, Kate says of the failure of the media to cover the bigger issues uncovered by the report that It's Not Apathy, It's Malpractice. She's being much too generous; I'd call it malfeasance, which my dictionary defines as misconduct or wrongdoing; especially wrongdoing that is illegal or contrary to official obligations. Of course, my definition won't apply once the MSM types abandon their posture of being non-partisan.

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

The youth vote rocks

Oct. 22 -

American teens have spoken, and they want George W. Bush for president. Nearly 1.4 million teens voted in the nation's largest mock election, and the Republican incumbent wound up with 393 electoral votes and 55 percent of the total votes cast.
OneVote Results also has breakdowns of the votes state by state.

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

Hassan pleads for her life

Oct. 22 - There is often something horrible about how events can become predictable, and when I saw the following item on the CNN website I hated how unsurprised I was but I hated more how these monsters use our compassion against us. We understand the stakes, yet know we must remain stern and unflinching. And I feel rotten about it.

CARE worker pleads for her life:

In the video aired Friday by the Arabic-language TV channel, Hassan is speaking to the camera, sobbing and crying.

"Please help me, please help me, these might be my last hours.... Please help me, please British people ask Mr. (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair to pull the troops from Iraq and not bring them to Baghdad.

"Please, please I beg of you, the British people, to help me. I don't want to die like (Kenneth) Bigley. I beg of you, I beg of you."

Many of us were awestruck with the bravery of Italian Fabrizio Quattrocchi, the man who defied his murderers and denied them the triumph of using his death to frighten and intimidate others, and I'm not the only person who thought of Fabrizio while we witnessed Ken Bigley's desperate pleas to Tony Blair.

As we feared, the Kenneth Bigley saga has resulted in an upping of the ante: they've kidnapped a woman.

It is a harsh and cruel thing to be held in captivity by people who have proven their capacity for brutality, and no one can pretend to know what Margaret Hassan has endured.

I pray her captors let her go. I hope she returns to her home and husband safely and will be able to reclaim her life and resume her humanitarian activities.

But make no mistake: Ms. Hassan's life is not in Tony Blair's hands, but in the hands of her captors.

And I hope she understands that the very barbarity of her captors is precisely why we cannot, must not, surrender to them even for her. Or me.

Update: A video was discovered which seemed to show Margaret Hassan's execution, mercifully (?) by a bullet to the head. Bastards.

Posted by Debbye at 12:09 PM | Comments (8)

Courage in the face of world indifference

Oct. 21 - Opinion Journal argues that there has been substantial progress in Iraq, citing in particular in the latest offensive in Fallujah.

At the heart of this - and any - progress lies the single most important component: the will and determination of the Iraqi people:

Which brings us to another point that deserves more attention: the courage of the Iraqis. Young men continue to line up by the thousands outside the police and National Guard recruiting stations that have so often been targets of terrorist attack. On Tuesday a mortar struck the ING headquarters in Mushahidah, killing four. But recruit Qusay Hassan was quoted saying, "If I don't join the army, who is going to defend the country from the terrorists?"
Who indeed? Those brave, courageous human shields who were so anxious to prove their bravery by going to Iraq yet who left before the going even got tough and failed to return when they were actually needed?

Or the U.N., which arrogantly failed to acknowledge the dangers and, rather than admit to and rectify its error, fled?

Or maybe Western liberals, who should be thrilled at the blossoming of freedom in Iraq but who cannot abide the notion that the USA has done something right, thereby allowing their hatred for America overshadow their oft-proclaimed love for their fellow men and women?

The contempt I feel for those who would diminish people like Qusay Hassan cannot find words. We are witnessing mighty deeds and heroes from which songs are made, and even as I rejoice that there is still such in this world I am pained to see a portion of our civilization, aided and abetted by main stream media, try so hard to prove itself frivolous.

When our children and grandchildren ask about "our day," it won't be curiousity about Michael Jackson, Teresa Heinz-Kerry or even the curse of the Bambino: it will be about the struggle of freedom vs. tyranny in the Mid-east. However shall we answer them?

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 AM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2004

Don Cherry, Greatest Canadian II

Oct. 20 - The endorsements are coming in for Don Cherry, Greatest Canadian.

First mention goes to The Meatriarchy, who started this whole thing last Spring, and his posts here and here.

Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun weighs in his reasons to support Grapes.

The Monger is supporting Cherry and I find his rationale to be both witty and appealing.

I have to go to my "real job" so will continue to look for other supporters tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 08:16 PM | Comments (2)

Being a mother isn't a real job

Oct. 20 - So raising children isn't a "real job"? Well, I guess that's true, in a sense.

Read jobs have fixed hours. Real jobs pay real money. Real jobs have real vacations and honour statutory holidays.

Even had Teresa H-K been correct and First Lady Laura Bush never held a job as a schoolteacher or, let's be honest, as First Lady, she would still be among the millions of mothers who are on duty 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off for our kids' good behaviours and even in the soundest sleep being alert for the kinds of sounds that mean "sickness" or "trouble" from the kids' rooms.

We do get statutory holidays and vacations, of course. It means spending more time (on the job) with our kids.

But not having a "real job" has one, unequalled perk: we love our not-real work, our very real and often rambunctious charges and, hopefully, our co-worker(!)

And maybe that's why Laura Bush is "calm" and has a "sparkle in her eye."

Note that Teresa H-K has retracted her comments, yet she still missed the point that Laura Bush's life and experience is much closer to the norm than that of a millionairess.

Posted by Debbye at 07:16 PM | Comments (1)

Schoolgirls expelled in France over scarves

Oct. 20 - The controversial ban of conspicuous religious symbols in public institutions has begun to produce questionable results: four girls have been expelled over their refusal to remove their headscarves and 3 boys (Sikhs) have been kept out of classes over refusal to remove their turbans.

Over 600 cases of "defiance of the law" have been reported since the beginning of the school year in France.

I still don't really understand the ban, as it seems to confuse "tolerance" with "pretending differences don't exist," but then I'm an American and we tend to frown upon the government prohibiting freedom of religious expression anyway.

Nevertheless, I was somewhat curious to see if the French government would back down after the two French reporters were kidnapped, and thus far they have been firm on upholding the ban.

Posted by Debbye at 06:41 PM | Comments (4)

Why Nelson won't vote for Bush

Oct. 20 - Nelson Ascher explains why he's a Sept. 12 guy and why he won't vote for Bush (and, as my tipster urges, read this to the end. It's a beaut.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

Countries ranked for corruption

Oct. 20 -

TI estimates that the amount lost due to bribery in government procurement is at least US$ 400 billion per year worldwide.
This is from the press release issued by Transparency International that accompanies their report Corruption Perceptions Index 2004.
A total of 106 out of 146 countries score less than 5 against a clean score of 10, according to the new index, published today by Transparency International, the leading non-governmental organisation fighting corruption worldwide. Sixty countries score less than 3 out of 10, indicating rampant corruption. Corruption is perceived to be most acute in Bangladesh, Haiti, Nigeria, Chad, Myanmar, Azerbaijan and Paraguay, all of which have a score of less than 2.
As the title of the report indicates, these scores are based on perceptions and the ratings are based both on bribes requested and bribes paid.

According to the table here (scroll down,) the three least corrupt countries are perceived to be Finland, New Zealand and Denmark, and the three most are Nigeria, Bangladesh and Haiti.

Australia is ranked 9th least corrupt, the UK 11th, Canada 12th, the USA ties with Ireland at 17th, and France and Spain tie at 22th. Russia is far down the list at 90th.

Posted by Debbye at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

Osama bin Laden appearances timeline

Oct. 20 - Interesting look at the timelines of OBL appearances at The Belgravia Dispatch, Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Maybe I'm just tuning him out, but it seems Kerry hasn't mentioned OBL for awhile. Or maybe his handlers advised him that most Americans are smart enough to recognize that capturing or killing bin Laden won't end either al Qaeda or terrorism.

I maintain OBL is probably dead (although I'd be just as cheerful if it turns out that he's deathly ill and in perpetual agony.) And if Zarqawi is taking orders from him, I want to know if the use of a Ouija board is permitted under Islam.

I think I got the link from Instapundit.

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

October 19, 2004

Of buffoons and cowboys

Oct. 19 - In another world, journalists and other great thinkers of the day (heh!) would look at these three news items, Anti-Bush Canadians Put Gov't in Quandary, UK anti-Bush letters spark outrage (with more and better samples from the Guardian site here,) and Cherry among ten greatest Canadians?, and do the patented Arsenio Hall hmmm. They might even connect the dots between the first two and reach the conclusion that the last item is highly relevant to the first and second and, in fact, contradicts some assumptions about the first.


The Toronto Star front page item on Canadian great Don Cherry (I wish I could reproduce the page just to show how huge the headline was!) has Garth Woolsey bewailing the fact that Don made it to the top 10 list of Greatest Canadians.

The stereotypes are true: We really are a nation of shallow, narrow-minded, beer-swilling, puck-chasing hosers.

Proud of it, too.

Confirmation comes in the high-collared, low-browed form of Don Cherry making the CBC's list of "The Ten Greatest Canadians" of all time, as voted upon by some 140,000 citizens of the Great White North.

Oh Canada, woe Canada, you have spoken. You have accorded Cherry a place in the pantheon, alongside Tommy Douglas, Sir John A. Macdonald, Terry Fox, Frederick Banting, Lester Pearson, Alexander Graham Bell, David Suzuki, Pierre Trudeau and Wayne Gretzky.

Canada to Star: maybe votes for Don were a rejection of the stereotypical Canadian you are so anxious to promote.

Don is an individualistic individual. He is refreshingly, heart-warmingly outspoken, and it isn't so much what he says (although it often is!) but the fact that he refuses to be gagged by the political correctness that has rendered political discourse in this country a vapid recitation of approved cliches which have little content but won't grab the attention of the Language Police.

His love for this country runs true and deep. He's no more a buffoon than the men who stormed Juno Beach, his support of the troops doesn't wait for the photo-op of a funeral, and he has given more good advice to Canadian kids on how to live and play with dignity and honour than all the Canadian government agencies and schools combined.

The article contends that mother won't let their kids watch Coach's Corner. That's b.s. Don consistently hammers home the need for sportsmanship as well as hockey skills. He's a sports parent's best friend.

The Yahoo article is only one of similar articles one finds everywhere which defends Canada's obsession with the USA with the usual lame excuse:

Measured by shared boundaries and trade, no foreign country has a larger stake in the U.S. presidential election than Canada. Its citizens, by an overwhelming margin, hope for President Bush (news - web sites)'s defeat, but its government — unsure of the Nov. 2 outcome — is trying to keep bilateral tensions from escalating.

Many Canadians have intently followed the campaign, watching the TV debates and writing impassioned letters to newspapers. Two recent polls showed Democrat John Kerry (news - web sites) favored by more than 2-to-1 across Canada; in French-speaking Quebec, Bush's support was only 11 percent.

The only surprise here is that so many Canadians, albeit outnumbered, support President Bush! (I've confessed before that living in Toronto colours my perception of Canada and Canadians, and this is welcome proof of that. What would be the result if poll numbers from Quebec and the Toronto area removed?)

The CNN and Guardian articles are pretty clear indications of how dimly Americans view outsiders meddling in our affairs. Take.The.Hint.

Canadians who are worried that events in the USA might impact Canada should look to their political leadership for solutions: that's why they hold office.

The primary issue for US voters remains national security. We were attacked several times during the 90's and our gentlemanly forebearance only convinced our enemies of our weakness culminating in the outrage of Sept. 11. (I can't believe I still find it necessary to remind people of that, but there it is.)

Due to an incredible series of strategic and personnel errors, the Democrats have found themselves saddled with a candidate who has a Sept. 10 mindset. Shame, shame on them.

I think that the candidates for Greatest Canadian preferred by the Toronto Star and the readers of the Guardian have Sept. 10th mindsets, and Don Cherry is a staunch Sept. 12th guy. I believe that of all the people on the Top 10 list, Don understands that the ideals of Canada must include unyielding opposition to terrorism and unceasing support of the spread of democracy.

If my assessment is right, Don made that list because others recognize that he represents a powerful symbol for those who know that readers of the Toronto Star and Guardian must stop yearning for Sept. 10 and accept Sept. 12 realities if we are to face the future.

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

Coup in Burma

Oct. 19 - A government spokesman in Thailand has confirmed that there has been a coup in Burma. Burma's Prime Minister, General Khin Nyunt, has been placed under house arrest on corruption charges.

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

PM Howard wants new security pact with Indonesia

Oct. 19 - One of the many reasons I like Australian PM John Howard is his resolute leadership in the South Pacific. His latest initiative is to seek a new security pact with Indonesia:

PRIME MINISTER John Howard wants to strike a new anti-terrorism treaty with Indonesian President-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after he is sworn in as leader of the world's largest Muslim nation.


While law enforcement agencies already co-operate on many fronts, Mr Howard now wants to enter into a formal deal with Indonesia to help pursue terrorists.

The south-east Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah, which has close ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, is based in Indonesia and has carried out a string of deadly attacks across the country in the past three years, most notably the Bali bombing which killed over 200 people in 2002, and the attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta last month.

Mr Howard said today he would use his visit to Jakarta to signal his strong commitment to Australia's relationship with Indonesia.

Mr. Howard also intends to visit the Australian Embassy in Jakarta which was attacked shortly before the Australian elections.

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

Sevan to be indicted in US?

Oct. 19 - This should be interesting: UN oil for food chief faces inquiry into property deals:

American prosecutors are preparing charges against Benon Sevan, the former head of the United Nations oil for food programme, who has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks from Saddam Hussein's regime.

Congressional investigators examining alleged corruption in the programme disclosed that Mr Sevan's diplomatic immunity would not prevent an indictment being issued. Mr Sevan has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

"We have tried to find out what part he had and we've been working to lift the lid on what he did," said one official on the US Congress International Relations committee. "My understanding is that we can indict him without lifting diplomatic immunity. That's what we did with Noriega."

Former officials in Iraq's state oil company, Somo, have alleged to investigators reporting to the International Relations committee that Mr Sevan was "sacked" on Saddam's orders in 2001 for failing to keep promises to campaign on ending sanctions.

"The basic understanding of these officials is that Saddam felt short-changed by this guy who took the money but did not deliver," said one committee staffer.

Playing both sides against the middle does have its drawbacks, it would seem.
A spokesman for the Southern district of Manhattan's federal prosecutor's office said it was "too early" to comment on its indictment efforts over Mr Sevan. Officials are, however, examining the diplomat's extensive property portfolio in the United States.

According to records, properties registered in his name include a flat in Manhattan, a house in the Hamptons on Long Island, a house in the nearby district of Rye, and a house on New Jersey's "Gold Coast". The Congressional official said: "It's an issue that he has property in the Hamptons and Manhattan."

I wonder how this will proceed.

Posted by Debbye at 08:49 AM | Comments (1)

Cdn. govt. to argue against refugee status for deserters

Oct. 19 - GI's no refugee, feds will argue:

THE FEDERAL government is challenging an American soldier's bid for refugee status in Canada. A government official confirmed the feds will oppose a refugee application from Jeremy Hinzman because he "does not fit the criterion for status refugees."

Refugee cases are heard by an independent tribunal and the federal government intervenes in hearings only when there's a novel legal argument or high public profile.

The hearing is scheduled to begin December 6.

Posted by Debbye at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2004

HMCS Chicoutimi update

Oct. 18 - Two items on the Chicoutimi: this which alleges that the hatches were left open and the fire may have been due to human rather than mechanical error, the inquiry in Glasgow is a closed-door affair, and there may be a bill forthcoming from the British for the rescue of the stranded submariners.

I have a meeting tonight before work so have to get going. So long, everyone!

17:49: Oops, another bit of information: a House of Commons committee will investigate the purchase of the subs. But it's not really news when it's a given, is it?

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

Numbers games over Sudanese deaths

Oct. 18 - Note the dates in this news item: Up to 70,000 Sudanese dead:

GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- The World Health Organization says that up to 70,000 refugees have died in Sudan's Darfur region since March 1, 2004 due to various causes, including diseases and malnutrition.

WHO spokesman David Nabarro said Saturday the figure does not take into account deaths from direct violence in the conflict-torn region.

Nabarro said the number of displaced people in Darfur increased to 1.8 million in September.

Sudan disputes the WHO figures, saying there could not have been more than 7,000 deaths in Darfur refugee camps.(Emphasis added)

There is no way for me to independently verify any of these numbers, but even if I take the low number - 7,000 since March - does that really make it better?

These numbers will produce one beneficial result, at least for WHO: more funds will probably be allocated to assist the people in the camps and more refugee camp workers are likely to be hired.

Nevertheless, there should be no "displaced persons." People should not have been driven off their lands and forced to seek refuge, and if anyone really cared about the opinions of the international community, international law, or feared the might and moral authority of the International Criminal Court ... well, we would be living in some alternative universe instead of this one.

Posted by Debbye at 04:13 PM | Comments (3)

No Protection for EU Whistleblowers

Oct. 18 - The proper definition of whisleblower, as I understand it (and keeping in mind the I am not a lawyer disclaimer) is someone who goes to the press with information on matters of legal and/or ethical wrongdoing.

Many of us were surprised to learn that there is no whistleblower protection for UN workers, and a recent ruling by the European Court means that there is also none for EU workers (EU judges end human rights law for press) because it seems that Washington D.C. Brussels is above considerations like press freedoms and human rights:

The European Court has quietly brushed aside 50 years of international case law in a landmark judgment on press freedom, ruling that Brussels does not have to comply with European human rights codes.

In a judgment with profound implications for civil liberties, Euro-judges backed efforts by the European Commission to obtain the computers, address books, telephone records and 1,000 pages of notes seized by Belgian police - on EU instructions - from Hans-Martin Tillack, the former Brussels correspondent of Germany's Stern magazine.

It is a test case of whether the European Court will adhere to the democratic freedoms and liberal principles upheld for the last half-century by Europe's top rights watchdog, the non-EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, or whether it will pursue a more authoritarian line as it grows in power.

Maybe they still miss the point that power corrupts.
Mr Tillack had written a series of hard-hitting exposes of EU fraud and skulduggery, relying on inside sources. By obtaining his archive of investigative files amassed over five years, the commission can identify key sources and "burn" a generation of EU whistleblowers.
That's one way to handle corruption: fire the whistleblowers and block future exposes. There are other ways, which include rooting out and firing the corrupt officials, but that's doesn't seem to be an option.

He was arrested by the Belgian police in March and held incommunicado for 10 hours for allegedly bribing an official to obtain internal EU documents.

The action was requested "urgently" by the EU's anti-fraud office, which claimed Mr Tillack was about leave for America. In fact, he was moving back to Hamburg.

Leaked anti-fraud office documents have since shown that the allegation was concocted over dinner between two commission spokesmen.

But everyone knows that fascism is descending on the USA! That's where civil liberties are under attack!
Raymond Kendall, the former Interpol chief and now head of anti-fraud office oversight board, testified to the Lords in May that officials had acted improperly "purely on the basis of hearsay" and were "obviously" in collusion with Belgian police to identify Mr Tillack's sources.

Claiming that the anti-fraud office head had more power to launch raids and seize documents than any other police chief in the world, he said the body was a danger to civil liberties. "They can do whatever they want to do. There is absolutely no control whatsoever," he said.

No, no! Stop reading this and rail against the Patriot Act! That's what Europeans must focus on! The evil neo-cons, and stupid, gun-toting Americans who'd fight to protect their liberties ... Halliburton! Roswell! Uh, Cowboys! Yeah!
Mr Tillack filed a lawsuit at the European Court with the backing of the International Federation of Journalists to block commission access to his records.

The federation pleaded that the EU's attempt to identify a journalist's sources in that fashion was a "flagrant violation" of press protection established over decades in European Convention law.

If the commission is allowed to sift through his records, it would render investigative journalism "virtually impossible" in Brussels. (Bolding added.)

Which, of course, is precisely the point. The courts will, by exposing the whistleblowers, avert a bigger evil, which is to expose the wrong-doers.
Mr Tillack's lawyers cited extensive case law, including the case of "Goodwin v UK" in 1996, ruling that the protection of sources was the cornerstone of a free press and "genuine democracy".

The human rights court ruled against Luxembourg last year that identifying a source of leaks did not constitute a "pressing social need" that could justify a breach of Article 10 on press freedom.

But the EU's Court of First Instance ruled against Mr Tillack last week on the grounds that the case was a strictly Belgian matter.

Euro-judges accepted commission claims that it played no role in the arrest of Mr Tillack, even though leaked anti-fraud office documents show it orchestrated the raid from the beginning.

Another pesky leak! When will it all end?
It is not the first time the European Court has appeared to ignore established human rights law.

It ruled in "Connolly v Commission" in 2001 that the EU could curtail civil rights to defend the "general interest of the communities" where necessary, despite human rights case law clearly and repeatedly banning recourse to such sweeping powers.

In theory, the European Court is obliged to defer to the court of human rights as the higher authority in all areas of rights protection. The Tillack and Connolly rulings offer the first evidence that Euro-judges may create their own very different brand of civil rights law.

Add this to the list of Why we would be stupid to go within a thousand miles of the International Criminal Court. We believe in the rule of law, and this ruling by the European Court indicates an adherence to the rule of expediency and protecting the privileged.

Posted by Debbye at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)

Canada vs. Denmark (again)

Oct. 18 - It seems like only yesterday the Danes claimed Hans Island (more here including some interesting comments.)

Today it's the North Pole:

Denmark has launched an extraordinary bid for ownership of the North Pole, one of the world's last untapped sources of oil and natural gas.

In recent decades the remote polar region has largely been left to a few explorers and tourists. Now, however, the effects of climate change have dramatically raised the stakes.

Scientists estimate that the ice in the Arctic Ocean is melting at a rate of three per cent a year - in time allowing the economic exploitation of a region that is almost totally unexplored.

In the words of one Danish scientist: "The Vikings hope to get there first."

The Danish claim has geographical foundation:
At present, the North Pole is considered international territory. The Danish bid is based on new geological data claiming to show that the Pole and Greenland - which has been owned by Denmark since 1814 - are linked by a 1,240km underwater mountain range, the Lomonosov Ridge.
The receeding ice cap could also be the realization of the quest for a Northwest Passage as well as previously inaccessible fishing grounds.

The Danish claim has been countered with rival claims from Canada and Russia.

I wonder if PM Martin's recent meeting with Russian Pres. Putin included some discussion of this issue.

(Via Neale News.)

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

October 17, 2004

Mark Steyn on the Australian elections

Oct. 17 - Mark Steyn writes about Australian PM John Howard for The Australian in The short man stands tall. An excerpt:

But it wasn't until 9/11 that I – and many others around the world – came to appreciate just how good the new bloke was. Rhetorically speaking, Howard is my favourite of the Anglosphere warriors. Tony Blair oscillates between being excessively messianic and vocally anguished in a rather camp way. George W. Bush staggers around like a groggy prizefighter stumbling through the same lines over and over ("Saddam Hussein is a dictator. He gassed his own people. He's a dangerous man. He gassed his own people. He's a dictator", repeat for 15 months, then invade).

But Howard, for a man routinely described as having no charisma, manages to hit just the right tone. The French got all the attention in the days after September 11 with that Le Monde headline – "Nous sommes tous Americains" – but even at the time I preferred Howard's take: "There's no point in a situation like this being an 80 per cent ally."

You can take that one to the bank. The "we are all Americans" stuff turned out to be not quite as straightforward as at first glance, and masked a ton of nuance, evasion, sly Yank-bashing and traditional Gallic duplicitousness as ripe as an old camembert wrapped in Dominique de Villepin's poetry. Even when they were touting that headline, the French were never more than 34 per cent allies.

By comparison, that ABC radio interview three years ago where Howard did the 80 per cent riff is brimming with great material. I especially liked this bit: "I'm sure the Americans will behave in a targeted yet lethal fashion."

If you're still here ... why?

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

Live Blogging Greatest Canadians

Oct. 17 - I suffered through the Yanks-Sox game last night with two Sox fans - one a diehard, the other of the anyone but the Yankees variety. The less said, the better.

That same peanut gallery was cheered immensely was Avril Lavigne placed high than Jean Chretien as the "greatest Canadians." (It's not that they are Lavigne fans, but they liked the fact that a pop star beat out the last Prime Minister.) Wrestler Bret Hart beat them both out, and I recall hearing actor William Shatner's name but missed the ranking (Flea informs me Shatner was actually #55.)

Flea is live-blogging this over at the Shotun!

Laura Secord is also there, one of the six women who made it to the top 50.

Truth is, I didn't really pay attention until they mentioned Mr. Dressup (Canada's Mr. Rogers, if you will) but will try to keep up henceforth and link to the CBC story which is bound to list them all when it appears.

I'm trying to add some links for the lesser well-known Canadians for American readers, but I'm resistant to having to link hockey stars - if you're a fan, you'll know their names when you see them!

#33 - Gordon Lightfoot
#32 - Michael J. Fox
#31 - Pierre Berton (a Canadian icon in journalism)
#30 - Rick Hansen
#29 - Jim Carrey (the 3rd of 4 comedians who made the list)
#28 - Sir Isaac Brock
#27 - Celine Dion
#26 - Dr. Norman Bethune
#25 - Nellie McClung (the "Persons" case)
#24 - Arthur Currie
#23 - Maurice "Rocket" Richard
#22 - Harold Rogers
#21 - The Unknown Soldier (same symbolism as we have the USA)
#20 - Mike Myers
#19 - Bobby Orr
#18 - Shania Twain (she's the top ranked woman)
#17 - Stephen Lewis who is also the former leader of the leftist New Democratic Party.
#16 - Gen. Romeo Dallaire
#15 - Peter Gzowski (radio and television interviewer)
#14 - Neil Young
#13 - Stompin' Tom Connors
#12 - Jean Vanier
#11 - Louis Riel (finding a link is easy, but there are some real divisions as to whether he was a patriot, demagogue or just nuts. They are referring to him as a "Canadian Che Guevera" but John Brown might be more accurate as they both saw themselves as God's instruments.

Next up: The Top Ten. Terry Fox, Pierre Trudeau, Dan Ackroyd and Don Cherry are probably on it. Let the voting begin.

The finalists:

Sir Frederick Banting
Alexander Graham Bell
Don Cherry
Tommy Douglas
Terry Fox
Wayne Gretzky
Sir. John A. MacDonald
Lester B. Pearson
Dr. David Suzuki
Pierre Trudeau

According to the website, these are the rules for voting for the Top 10:

October 18 - November 22, 8 p.m. : Watch The Greatest Canadian on Mondays and Wednesdays to see in-depth profiles of each of the Top Ten Greats. After every episode, vote (requires registration) for the Canadian you think is greater than the rest.

November 28, 8 p.m. : Take one last look at the Top Ten candidates and then cast your final vote for the Canadian you feel is the cream of the crop.

November 29, 8 p.m. : The results will be broadcast on CBC.

Oct. 20 - 17:47: The list of the 100 greatest Canadians is here.

Nov. 4 08:43: A Greatest Canadian message board has been opened here. By the way, as of October 27, the top 3 were Tommy Douglas, Don Cherry and Terry Fox.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 PM | Comments (12)

Canadians in Uniform

Oct. 17 - This article from Toronto Sun writer Stephanie Rubec about the Canadian Forces Our troops great, but the gear reeks points out something which has become nearly cliche: the people in the Forces are exceptional, and they persevere and get the job done despite equipment that routinely breaks down and spends more time in the shop than on deployment.

I find it awkward to comment on the Canadian Forces because I come from a country that is willing to spend massive amounts on her military and it's impossible for me to reconcile the facts that Canadians support their military in words but are not willing to support them with tax dollars.

I know that sounds harsh, but it is reality. The crocodile tears flow profusely when a sailor or soldier is killed in the line of duty, but once the photos are published, it's back to business as usual, and that business doesn't include a sober appraisal of improving the capability of the military and allocating the funds necessary to that endeavour.

Ms. Rubeck (who also wrote a series of articles from Afghanistan last spring) and the Toronto Sun are to be commended for their ongoing support of the Canadian Forces between funerals, but the voters of this country (although, arguably more precisely, the voters of the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec) chose funding the bottomless pit of social services over improving the military.

You get what you pay for and take your chances.

The real wonder is that so many good men and women continue to enlist in the Canadian Forces, and that doubles the shame on the Canadian voters who have either failed or been unable to hold the Liberal Party to account for both the neglect of the military and their record of fiscal mismanagement at best and outright theft at worst.

Posted by Debbye at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

Jihad and the Barbary Pirates

Oct. 17 - History buffs alert, courtesy of Ghost of a Flea, an article in FrontPage Magaine, John Quincy Adams Knew Jihad by Andrew G. Bostom, has caused me to consider that there was an additional level to the invocation of the tradition of the Barbary Pirates which I cited near the end of this post.

I am a great many years away from practicing scholarship and my tools are rusty, so I don't feel competent to analyze the article properly but there are some intriguing notions put forth that cause me to wonder to what extent the historical record as taught in schools and universities has been revised following the collapse of the Ottomon Empire.

This was a monumental surprise: John Quincey Adams wrote

... The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force. Of Mahometan good faith, we have had memorable examples ourselves. When our gallant [Stephen] Decatur ... had chastised the pirate of Algiers, till he was ready to renounce his claim of tribute from the United States, he signed a treaty to that effect: but the treaty was drawn up in the Arabic language, as well as in our own; and our negotiators, unacquainted with the language of the Koran, signed the copies of the treaty, in both languages, not imagining that there was any difference between them. Within a year the Dey demands, under penalty of the renewal of the war, an indemnity in money for the frigate taken by Decatur; our Consul demands the foundation of this pretension; and the Arabic copy of the treaty, signed by himself is produced, with an article stipulating the indemnity, foisted into it, in direct opposition to the treaty as it had been concluded. The arrival of Chauncey, with a squadron before Algiers, silenced the fraudulent claim of the Dey, and he signed a new treaty in which it was abandoned; but he disdained to conceal his intentions; my power, said he, has been wrested from my hands; draw ye the treaty at your pleasure, and I will sign it; but beware of the moment, when I shall recover my power, for with that moment, your treaty shall be waste paper. He avowed what they always practised, and would without scruple have practised himself. Such is the spirit, which governs the hearts of men, to whom treachery and violence are taught as principles of religion.” [p. 274-275]

“Had it been possible for a sincere and honest peace to be maintained between the Osmanli and his christian neighbors, then would have been the time to establish it in good faith. But the treaty was no sooner made than broken. It never was carried into effect by the Turkish government.” [p. 276] (bolding added)

I don't speak or read Arabic, so when I read, for example, assertions that Yassar Arafat would say one thing in English and something entirely different in Arabic, I was trapped in that I couldn't determine the truth for myself but forced observe how events unfolded before deducing that, indeed, he was engaged treacherous deceptions.

The above quote would indicate that, had we known our own history better, we might have been better prepared to confront this double-dealing, but it is perhaps our curse to try to turn the vanquished into friends and we do this by down-playing past betrayals.

One of the accomplishments of the Bush Administration must be that the true nature of Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian Authority has been exposed, that we and the European Union are demanding fiscal accountability from them.

Back to John Quincy Adams, the Barbary Pirates and US neutrality: read the article. More than once.

Posted by Debbye at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

Ramadan Begins

Oct. 17 - Violence mars start of Ramadan in Iraq - Oct 16, 2004. We have come to a sad state of affairs when honest Muslims, Jews and Christians regard the beginning of Ramadam with trepidation rather than joy.

I'm certain I'm not the first person to wonder how the world would respond if Christmas was celebrated by bombing mosques.

File this under "how depressing."

Posted by Debbye at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

Madrid train bombings update

Oct. 17 - Police identify mystery ringleader of Madrid bombings, Allekema Lamari, as one of the men who blew themselves up in an apartment after a shoot-out with police shortly after the March 11 bombing.

A special operations policer officer was killed and several other policemen were wounded in that explosion.

The other suspected terrorists killed in the April suicide blast were identified as: Tunisian Serhane Ben Abdelmajid, Moroccans Jamal Ahmidan, Asri Rifaat, Abdennabi Kounjaa, and Rachid and Oulad Akcha, brothers who were also from Morocco.

Officials say several of the seven were ringleaders of the attack.

Another suspect, an Egyptian called Rabei Osman Ahmed who is currently in Italian custody awaiting extradition to Spain, is also suspected of helping mastermind the Madrid train bombings.

The response of the Spanish electorate to the bombings has been analyzed elsewhere, but what is notable is that, appeasers or no, those countries that did not participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom are nonetheless engaged in the larger war on terror by tracking down terrorists in their midst and that is something that should not be discounted.

Americans who counterpose police action vs. military action are missing the point: successfully combating terrorism will require any and all tools available. Neither course need be sacrificed to bolster the other and to argue issues on that merit either indicates a lack of understanding or lack of committment to combatting terrorism.

Posted by Debbye at 06:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004

Good stuff

Oct. 15 - Some quick hits before I go to work:

The voice of another American abroad! Greg writes what I think may be the best statement on the critical need for religious tolerance from his perch in Denmark.

Silicon Ninja catches Teresa Heinz-Kerry in a mistatement and points to actual, proven links of Saddam-era Iraq and terrorism in $72 million is not zero.

Paul reports that Teresa Heinz-Kerry has a dandy remedy for arthritis pains.

The fact that Heinz-Kerry is graceless woman if not a barking moonbat outspoken didn't really affect my vote: Sen. Kerry failed to win support by his own lack of merit. Nevertheless, she has provided some comedy relief in this campaign. (You go, girl! Go anywhere but to the White House ... should Kerry be elected, I predict an historical Congressional vote to duct-tape the First Lady's mouth by the end of February. When Bill Clinton promised two for the price of one I don't think this is what he had in mind ...)

I got side-tracked with this game (thanks to Flea.)

(Note that some of the following links go to blogspot so you may have to hit the refresh button to get the page to load properly.)

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

Operation Guardian

Oct. 15 - Count me in! I've already voted and I have a delete button in my mail box ...

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

Crackdowns in Iran and Canada

Oct. 15 - Go immediately and read about the arrest of six Iranian bloggers and internet journalists in Thoughtcrimes and then read these link-filled roundups of the threatened legal action by a political hack former Chretien aide Warren Kinsella against Canadian bloggers here and here.

The two items are not exactly comparable: the first involves arrest, jail, and all the other delightful aspects of incurring the mullah's wrath, and the other involves the threat of legal action to stifle criticism of a public figure who has an underdeveloped sense of taking responsibility for decisions which he may have influenced.

But Canada is supposed to be a free country. Normally, in a free society, some of the possible responses to Kinsella would have been "Bite Me" or "F**k off and Die" but the very real prospect of lawsuits and incurred legal fees has had the effect of stifling freedom of speech by threatening a lawsuit which should not make it onto the docket but well might.

The bloggers who removed their posts chose discretion, but the fact that they took the threat from Kinsella seriously (and, I might add, with good reason) exposes an underbelly of Canadian politics where deviating from the "correct" political line is increasingly deemed anti-Canadian.

The initial outrage is one thing, but will I and others have this affair in the backs of our minds when we write posts? Probably. It will affect each of us differently, but it seems to me that the fact that it will affect us at all is an attack on our freedom of speech up here.

I don't know how to make a google-bomb, but I think Warren Kinsella richly deserves one. Maybe by tomorrow morning I'll come up with a suitable label for him but as I'm stuck working tonight I'll have to, er, work on it.

Oct. 17 - 22:12: This kerfuffle is settled, as recounted by Jay and Sean, so no google bomb this time around. Nevertheless, I hope Mr. Kinsella has become aware that bloggers will unite from across the political spectrum (and around the world) to defend our freedom of speech as well as his.

I've read no updates on the more worrisome item that began this post, that of the arrests of six Iranian bloggers, other than this and this which specifies the charges against them (and which pre-date my post.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 PM | Comments (2)

October 14, 2004

Questions about HMCS Chicoutimi

Oct. 14 - A "damning" British report recounting numerous problems with the four Upholder subs was brought up in the Canadian House of Commons today in an effort to ascertain if the Federal government had known about the report and problems with the subs prior to their purchase 5 years ago. They didn't receive a straight answer.

Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald in Forces chopped into shame recounts some of the penny-pinching measures behind the decision to purchase the 4 mothballed submarines as well as some in their refit.

Canada's navy was forced to tie up the rest of its fleet of second-hand submarines yesterday as a safety measure -- on the same day that a whopping $8-billion federal budget surplus was revealed.

Earlier, Conservative opposition leader Stephen Harper revealed in the Commons that it was Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin who chopped $54 million from the funds to make the four used British subs safe. Martin did this in his earlier role as finance minister.

Harper charged that the chop left the navy unable to safely re-equip the subs or properly train its crews.

Of course, the Grit government dodged answering his charges with deputy PM Anne McLellan saying "all answers" will come out sometime in the future at a naval board of inquiry.

Lieut. Chris Saunders, the first Canadian submariner to die on duty in almost 50 years, was buried today. Rest in peace, Lt. Saunders.

Posted by Debbye at 08:13 PM | Comments (6)

Martin and Chirac

Oct. 14 - This is such a surprise: PM not sending troops to Iraq.

Canadian PM Paul Martin is in France after meeting with Russian Putin earlier this week. The headline may be an eye-catcher but hardly constitutes the bulk of the article.

During his meeting with Chirac, Martin described French-Canadian relations as "exemplary," according to presidential spokesman Jerome Bonnafont.

"We are hand in hand on most international questions and our bilateral relations are excellent," Bonnafont quoted him as saying.

Martin and Chirac reviewed international issues, including Afghanistan, where both Canada and France have troops, Congo and Iraq. However, the broad discussions also included issues like commercial fishing.

Martin voiced his "concern" over exploitation of fish resources, a position supported by France, Bonnafont said.

Chirac "suggested that Canada and France, with other interested countries, work out a common initiative," the spokesman said. However, he would not specify what such an initiative might entail.

Just a nondescript, friendly chat? Maybe so, but then there is this:
Asked about Quebec Premier Jean Charest's planned November trip to Mexico, Martin played down the significance. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is to accompany Charest there.

"The prime minister of Canada speaks for Canada," Martin replied. "There is but one voice on the international scene and that is the prime minister of Canada."

The Mexican trip, he said, is a "commercial mission."

Some provinces, particularly Quebec and Alberta, have indicated the desire to conduct their own international dealings, thus by-passing Ottawa.

Oct. 18 - 00:12: be sure to read Andrew Coyne's National Post column, Forty Years of Federalist Backpedalling, posted at his website.

Posted by Debbye at 07:52 PM | Comments (1)

Why we need experts

Oct. 14 - Terror suspects jailed in Britain losing their minds

LONDON (AP) - Foreign terrorist suspects detained indefinitely without trial in Britain have suffered severe and possibly irreparable damage to their mental health, a group of psychiatrists who examined the men reported Wednesday.

The experts, who met eight men held under Britain's anti-terrorist laws, said all displayed similar symptoms of depression, anxiety, self-harm and thoughts of suicide. "All of the men I saw were extremely desperate," said Ian Robbins, a clinical psychologist at St. George's Hospital in London. (My bolding.)

To be fair, I'll include the rest of his statement:
"All had considered suicide and had attempted self-harm, either through cutting themselves or in one case by trying to hang himself."

In their report, the seven psychiatrists and one psychologist concluded mental health damage "is inevitable under a regime which consists of indefinite detention."

The detainees were examined at the request of their lawyer. The British high court is considering an appeal brought by nine detaineese "who argue their detention is inconsistent with Britain's democratic principles."

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

Canada and Missile Defense Shield

Oct. 14 - So that's what Carolyn "Americans are bastards" Parrish is - a rebel grit!* And here I thought she was a %&$*#.

Rebel Grit says PM fixing votes on missile shield defense vote.

The fix is in. Canada will be protected whether she likes it or not.

Look, I'm no techie but I do have absolute confidence in the "work around" approach to any and all tech issues (it also helps to avoid anything called "beta.")

The last thing the American government wants to do is be divisive in Canada, so surely we could come up with a missile defense program that doesn't cover Canadian terroritory and let Canada decide which it prefers.

(*grit is slang for Liberal Party members.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:45 PM | Comments (1)

Presidential debate 3

Oct. 14 - I was unable to see the debate last night (work) but it wouldn't have altered my vote anyway. The transcript is here.

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

October 13, 2004

Their coaltion is collapsing

Oct. 13 - I have to get ready for work, but read and ponder this: Insurgent Alliance Is Fraying In Fallujah at the Washington Post (free registration may be required):

BAGHDAD, Oct. 12 -- Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses.

"If the Arabs will not leave willingly, we will make them leave by force," said Jamal Adnan, a taxi driver who left his house in Fallujah's Shurta neighborhood a month ago after the house next door was bombed by U.S. aircraft targeting foreign insurgents.

Sometimes common sense can leap ahead of history to make fairly accurate pronouncements, so there are a couple of snap possibilities I can offer:

The Iraqi insurgents who target coalition forces have been lumped with those terrorists who deliberately target civilians, and it has damaged the Ba'athist cause.

The infrastructure in Fallujah is collapsing, and life ain't easy without electricity and running water.

Those damned US warplanes keep pounding at them.

The elections are looming, and Def. Sec. Rumsfeld has already allowed for the possibility that the Ba'athist strongholds may not participate. In what many thought a faux pas I saw Classic Rumsfeld: by pointing out that elections could still be held without Fallujah and other insurgent hotspots, he made it clear that the January elections would go forward with or without them. They clearly understood the implications of this even if the NY Times didn't.

I suspect the last one is the final straw that has caused them to re-examine their strategy. The olive branch and prospect of sharing power is still on the table: they simply have to accept that they must share, not dominate.

So will they chose to die for a past that will never return or live for a future that may be different than they had anticipated under Saddam but will still not be altogether unrewarding?

Some things I'm not willing to forget: there's a bridge in Fallujah that needs to be obliterated before this chapter is finally closed.

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (1)

The burden of history

Oct. 13 - Another Mass grave unearthed in Iraq:

Many of the bodies found at the site near al-Hatra are believed to be the bodies of Kurdish women and children thought slaughtered by the Saddam Hussein regime.
As I read this it struck me that I have lost count of the number of mass graves that have been unearthed, not because they are unimportant but because there are so damned many.

There has been so much focus on the failure to find stockpiles of WMD that it has been easy to forget that there were also human rights requirements included in the flouted U.N. resolutions that formed the cause for resumption of hostilities against Iraq.

After Saddam fled Baghdad, TV crews filmed people digging and clawing through tunnels in the hopes of finding loved one who had been arrested and never heard from again. Our forces found mass graves filled with those who had been hastily killed within two weeks of the opening assault in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I still can't forget images of those people who, when mass graves were found, dug with their bare hands in hopes of finding an identity card, bit of clothing or other trace indicating they had finally located the remains of a loved one.

There were many reasons to support this war, but the decision to leave Saddam in power after 1991 still forms the bedrock for those reasons and I remain proud that we rectified that error even as we grieve those who have been lost in this endeavour.

The president's answer during the last debate about mistakes he may have made was the only possible one: history will determine what was a mistake and what was not.

Responsible leaders make decisions every day knowing that they cannot forsee all possible outcomes and knowing that, in the end, they can only judge themselves as to whether they did their best to do what was right with the information available at the time. History not only has the advantage of hindsight but also the advantage of not bearing the burdens of the decision makers it presumes to judge.

One thing history may judge is the degree to which the stated intention to force a regime change in Iraq kept many countries from joining the Coalition and, for those who bewail the lack of France, Germany, Russia (and Canada,) it would do well to consider if the war would have been worth the cost had the butcher Saddam and his psychotic, homicidal sons remained in power.

I think not.

The highlighted section from this passage in President Bush's speech to the Joint Houses of Congress on Sept. 21, 2001, was prescient of today's state of affairs:

... Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. (Emphasis added)
The unfortunate truth is that we had to convince others - and especially Iraqis - that we wouldn't turn tail and run this time as we had in Lebanon, Iraq, and Somalia. We had to prove that we were willing to get down and dirty and fight a real war on the ground instead of from the skies as we had in Kosovo.

I hate the fact that we had to sacrifice coalition and Iraqi lives in this endeavour. I would have much preferred that we could have gathered together with some of Saddam's friends, family and associates, had a barbeque at one of his palaces, and then confronted him with his failings in some kind of intervention and through those means have persuaded him to change his killin' ways.

But that wouldn't have been reality, it would have been a dream sequence on "Friends."

So we sacrificed blood and treasure, a neat little phrase that obscures the painful truth that we sacrificed the futures of some fine men and women - American, Iraqi, British, Polish, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Italian, Spanish and others, and, although no Australians have been lost, they too were willing to die.

There are lessons in our own past that point to how we can redeem the blood debt we owe to the fallen. In the immortal words of President Abraham Lincoln:

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
Or this crisp admonition from Tom Hank's character in the movie "Saving Private Ryan"
"Earn this."

This post at Tim Blair's site and especially the commenters' discussion about the historical evaluation of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies is very thought-provoking.

Posted by Debbye at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

Overslept (but I'm glad)

Oct. 13 - I meant to start posting when I got home this morning but ended up sleeping - for a solid 9 hours. Not to be utterly selfish, but the cooler weather and kids being at school (and thus making their wonderful noises far, far away from my bedroom window) does makes it a lot easier to sleep during the day.

Anyway, I slept soundly for a glorious 9 hours. (Okay, I already mentioned that.)

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

October 12, 2004

Decisions, decisions

Oct. 12 - It's been harder to decide which team to root for than it was to decide for which candidate I'd vote in the presidential election.

The options are not exactly inspiring:

NY Yankees - as if

Boston Red Sox - so they can break my heart again? I'm an SF Giants fan so I'm pretty tough, but Boston takes you right to the edge before pushing you off the cliff. Besides, maybe if I don't root for them, it will work to their advantage.

SL Cards - Maybe. I've never rooted for them before ... but they are National League (I hate the DH rule) so they already have my loyalty.

Astos - Yes. Why? Um, they're National League, and they've never won. (I don't think I've ever even watched an Astro game before.) When their pitching starts to tank, I can say "Houston, we have a problem" and all kinds of witty things.

Science, logic, stats and intuition were not used to make this world-shaping decision, but then neither was eeny meeny miney moe which is my usual backup plan.

I have to go to work, so be careful you all.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 PM | Comments (7)

Chicoutimi Update II

Oct. 12 - More information about the ordeal aboard the HMCS Chicoutimi ('Nightmare' at sea) and a sobering assessment of the state of the equipment of the Canadian military.

Defence Minister Bill Graham doesn't rule anything out (responding specificially to the prospect of scuttling the subs altogether) and wouldn't answer questions about the possibility of taking legal action again Britain who sold the 4 submarines to Canada.

Posted by Debbye at 08:53 PM | Comments (2)

Peter Worthington in Afghanistan

Oct. 12 - Today's Worthington column is on The rise of Afghan women. Very inspiring read and reinforces what feminists once knew but have seemingly forgotten: we have the right to select the paths for our own lives and that includes the right to wear or not wear the burka.

Saturday's entry in David Frum's diary has been updated to include a picture of Peter Worthington, who reported on the elections from Kabul.

For comparison, read this report that the Saudis won't let women vote, fearing that reforms are going, you know, too fast.

Posted by Debbye at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

Mistaken Identities and Mistaken Notions

Oct. 12 - One of the biggest lies being promoted by Sen. Kerry is that we were loved before 2000. Its corollary, that we had lots of support after Sept. 11, is equally false. [Commenter Paul points out that Kerry hasn't said we were universally loved which caused me to stop, think and realize that he is indeed correct. I got carried away with my own hyperbole.]

The issue is actually incredibly simple. Which is the better representation of a person's views: the one they say to your face, or the one they say behind your back? (If you need help with that one, stop reading right now because you're too nuanced and I'm probably going to piss you off.)

I received an email from a Canadian who moved to the UK in 1993. He made some extremely pertinent observations from the perspective of a Canadian who was often mistaken for an American. When he would identify himself as a Canadian, sometimes the assumption would be made that he hated Americans too and he would hear what he described as some pretty vile comments. Both he and I heard things that most Americans never heard before Operation Iraqi Freedom (remember that people up here assume I'm a Canadian until I set them straight.) In retrospect, I should have spoken out about it, but back then I didn't recognize the danger it represented so shrugged it off. After all, we were strong and could afford to be tolerant.

My kids have also heard far too many expressions of anti-Americanism up in this bastion of tolerance and diversity, and much of it came from teachers and university professors.

But this nonsense that we were universally loved before GWB became president and before Operation Iraqi Freedom is so false and so dangerous that it must be confronted.

I was not blogging (hadn't even hear of blogs) on Sept. 11, but does anyone else remember a women's forum held in Toronto within a week of Sept. 11 in which a speaker supported the attacks and everyone in the room applauded her? Does anyone else remember Judy Rebick's column on the main CBC web page which applauded the death and destruction of the attacks as America's due desserts? That freaking column stayed up for over six months after the attacks, and I was genuinely shocked at the large number of posts supporting her position.

What I remember as well about those days is how quickly the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the TV news media used a lot of ink and air time to recount the errors of US foreign policy and express their hope that the American government would recognize its errors and rectify their approach to the world and the Mid-east (I had never read the Toronto Sun at that point, snob that I was, and am beholden to the person who showed me an editorial supporting the USA.)

Here in Canada, the war in Afghanistan was opposed bitterly by most of the media until Canadian troops were committed, and then they abruptly made an about face. (Principles are such fleeting concepts ...)

Do not tell waste your time lecturing Americans abroad about the sympathy we had after Sept. 11. It stemmed from two entirely different sources: our real friends were genuinely shocked and horrified, and our unfriends were delighted that we had been brought down a peg and irritated when, unchastised, we vowed to fight back. These sentiments were expressed to me until I set them straight as to my nationality. (In retrospect, I should have punched them in the jaw. Oh well.)

The grief was also caused by the large numbers of citizens from countries other than the USA who died in the attacks, including 25 Canadians.

On the first anniversary of Sept 11, the Canadian Prime Minister, then Jean Chretien, expressed his view that the USA had brought the attacks on itself.

I was here. I am a witness. Far too many Canadians hated us before Sept. 11, before NAFTA, and before Ronald Reagan. Even the rescue of American Embassy workers in Tehran is said to have been arranged by the CIA, and although the Canadian government did help, it was begrudgingly done.

Where is Amb. Ken Taylor today?

Have people actually forgotten the image of the "Ugly American" and how typical American tourists were portrayed as unmannered, wore loud shirts, couldn't speak the language but expected everyone to speak English, and complained when they couldn't find a McDonald's near by?

CanCon: Americans who supposedly came to Toronto in August with their skis and ask "Where's the snow?" and presumably thought everyone here lived in igloos (maybe that's why the tourist trade is suffering - an igloo shortage.)

I've lived here for 30 years and gritted my teeth for far too many of them, so don't waste my time with re-written history.

Of course there were Canadians who were genuinely friendly to the USA. Of course we aren't hated by everyone in every country, but the unfortunate fact is that we make far too many of the social democracies look bad because we are a thriving, active and industrious people who exude confidence and determination.

But made no mistake: the elites in Canada and Europe hate us virulently, and their media reflect that hatred. They always have and always will. They hide it when they want something, and bring it out, fully formed, when we're down.

And why? Because our standard of living and way of life shame them. Our technological advances, the fact that Americans are actually happy gives lie to all their deconstructionism and nihilism and what really angers them is that we don't care. That stubborn Yankee independence stands between them and world domination, and they don't like it.

And we have the finest military in the world. And make no mistake: we've used a lot of tax dollars for that military and thus have sacrificed to have it.

Thank about it. When a country's social democratic programs are bankrupting it, they resent countries that manage to thrive without a huge civil service to oversee those mountains of regulations that stifle economic growth and keep people on the dole. When a country has been paying off terrorists, it makes them look bad when another country chooses to fight back. When a country has pandered to its citizens' notions of entitlement, it's hard for them to persuade their citizens that those policies are not self-sustaining but so long as there is the possibility of channeling resentment away from the failures that produced it and towards a people, like us, that are flourishing because we renounced socialism, they have gained one more term to rule.

And make no mistake about Canada: the Liberal Party rules Canada, and are even referred to openly as the Ruling Party, whereas in the United States, we refer only to that party which holds a majority because the basis of our political tradition is the underlying principle that ultimate power rests with We, the People.

The dislike of Americans has been around ever since our country was conceived. Only 20 years ago, President Reagan was reviled and considered a threat to world peace. Have people actually forgotten that, after the Lockerbie bombing, only the British PM would allow us to fly over her air space when we retaliated against Libya (and forgotten the heat Dame Thatcher took for that in the British House of Commons?) [Commenter Jeff corrects me in that the strike against Libya was in retaliation for the disco bombing in Germany, and a quick Google confirmed that he is right.]

If we want the tired Old Europeans to love us again, it won't happen because they have never loved us. Now, we could be deemed more acceptable if we sink to their level, but at what cost? The cost of our ideals? Our individuality? Our self-esteem? Our beliefs in justice? Our prosperity?

Canadians have been arrested and tortured abroad and left to languish while the Canadian government applies "soft" diplomacy. Zahra Kazemi died in Iran, and Bill Sampson, who holds dual citizenship with the UK and Canada, was released by the Saudis due to American intervention as a favour to the UK. He now makes his home in the UK in recognition of the country which continued to fight for him (and which isn't Canada.)

Is that what Americans want? It would make some Canadians feel better about their own feckless foreign policy, but, again, at what cost?

It's all very nice for Sen. Kerry to promise to form a coalition, but when has he ever done so? He was in the Senate for 20 years and never once put together a coalition of his colleagues to get legislation he proposed passed.

He claims he joined others to get legislation passed. When you think about it, that's a very big danger sign.

Kerry is a joiner, not a leader. He is truly "unfit to command" not only because of his behaviour in the 70's but because of his failure in the Senate.

I was an anti-war activist in the 60's and 70's, and even I didn't believe his claims about US soldiers all being war criminals as he testified. Like many other of my generation, I knew men who were serving and had served in Vietnam. They were decent, honourable men (although they were boys when they left) and one effect of Kerry's testimony was that my opposition to the war was actually shaken, not strengthened. I knew he was exaggerating, but I was too damned stupid (and young) to recognize the full calumny of his testimony.

Note to Swift Boat Vets: Keep. It. Up.

Sen. Kerry talks about how our allies picked up a portion of the bill for Gulf War I. How much of the bill for the Kosovo campaigns have they picked up? (We're still in Kosovo, if you need a quagmire to oppose.) How about Macedonia, Liberia and Haiti (Parts 1 and 2)? How much of the bill for Somalia have they picked up?

Exactly what country pays the largest portion to maintain the U.N.? (and now that the UN Oil-for-Food program is defunct, they'll need more cash!)

The sad reality is that, should the U.N. decide to pick up the bill for Iraq, we would still have to give it to the U.N. in order for them to pay it back to the USA (less the fees the U.N. will charge as the middle-man.)

[I realize that all the pundits said "Irony was Dead" after Sept. 11, it's in the same file as the harsh Afghan winters, the cruelly hot Iraq summers, the thousands of US casualties we would sustain fighting house to house to take Baghdad, the fierce Arab street, the humanitarian crisis that would be created in Iraq, ad infinitum. Yes, it's a big file.]

Who pays to station troops in South Korea, and Germany? The Germans and South Koreans hate us but don't want us to leave because our troops represent income in the former case and the front line of defense in the latter. (By a strange coincidence, Sen. Kerry wants us to stay in Germany too. He hasn't offered a sound, military reason why we should stay, though.)

Of course, bashing the Germans is almost unkind. I wondered what those Germans who carried Bush=Hitler signs thought as openly neo-Nazis were elected to the German Parliament. They were so self-righteous that they failed to see the fascist danger in their own backyard.

What did Instapundit Glenn Reynolds say? Something like fascism is always supposed to be hovering over America, but it always lands in Europe.

Anti-Americanism serves a lot of purposes, not the least of which is to divert citizens from observing the actions of their own governments. But the places that matter, as in being on the front lines, like Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, are electing leaders who are committed to fighting terrorism. What does that tell us?

More CanCon: did anyone else feel a moment of recognition when President Bush described national health care as "rationed" health care? It sent a chilll down my back.

Back to the two-faced bastards our good allies.

We may never really know the content of the conversation when Chirac flew to meet with Presdident Bush shortly after Sept. 11, but I do remember that shortly afterwards, President Bush invoked the tradition of the Barbary Pirates in describing how we would fight back. I don't know if others got the point but I certainly did: we were not going to pay tribute, despite the best advice of our European friends, any more today than we did back in the early 1800's when they gave the same advice. (Yes, I know what the historical record actually says about us negotiating a better deal with the Pirates. So does the President; hence the word "tradition." Heck, I don't even know if Lt. Stephen Decatur really pulled out a pistol at the last moment and shot a cutlass-waving pirate to avoid being skewered. But I want to think he did, and it added some delicious flavour when I lived in Decatur county back in Georgia.)

Students of American history will also recall the infamous "XYZ Affair", which gave birth to the meme "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute."

It is probable that few people outside the USA even know about those confrontations of our early years as a nation (I'm not touching the sad fact that probably a lot of Americans lack "historical perspective" as do much the MSM - main stream media, Dad) but I for one got the President's point loudly and clearly.

Bottom Line: We stood up to the the tribute-demanding pirates and didn't take the advice of European leaders back then. We had some colourful naval skirmishes. It is even credited with improving our Navy.

That's the tradition President Bush invoked, and those of us alert enough to make the connection understood immediately our strategy in the war on terror.

It wouldn't be over in a day. We would have to find them, harry them and keep them guessing as to where we would strike at them next. And it would take years, if not decades, to finish the job. And our European allies would think we were foolish to fight when we could just pay up and carry on about our business.

And you know what? We succeeded. The reign of the Barbary Pirates ended. We fought them all the way to the shores of Tripoli, folks. And where are they today? Languishing in the dust bin of history and of interest only to weird history lovers like me. Until now.

The history of the USA, from our first vow of "No taxation without representation" to today's dilemma of paying ransom is laden with examples of refusal to bribe our way out of difficulties. (Don't bother to point out times that we have violated that tenet; the point is what we've striven to achieve; whenever anyone reaches for the stars they often fall short but hey! try again. It doesn't hurt half as much as putting your tail between your legs and accepting defeat.)

I woke up this morning with two phrases running through my head. The first was a recollection when I first heard the "Yes, but" conditional sentence. It was "I'm not a racist, but ..." back in the early 60's. Funny how I had forgotten that. It was rightfully reviled back then by liberals. Today, that formulation is on most liberals' lips.

The other was something from a (good grief) Space: Above and Beyond episode:

Mean as hell
All the time
Rough and ready
In the mud
Never quit
Ever faithful
Semper fi!

The terrorist attacks and the passengers and crew of Flight 93 taught us that we are all on the front line of this war, and we'd better think more like Marines than flower children. It may not be nice, but it is reality.

This rant has been brought to you coutesey of my BALLOT ARRIVING IN TODAY'S MAIL and I'm off to send it back, properly marked with a vote for our Cowboy President and our Kick-Ass Vice-President.

I voted for Nader in 2000 (it was a protest vote) and, in a strange way, my vote today is also a protest vote. I'm protesting stupidity, cynicism, cowardice, avarice, lies, delusions, hypocrisy, and most of all, appeasers of fascism.

Ain't life grand?

20:06: Holy cow, it seems I'm not the only ex-pat speaking up. After reading this account by playwright Carol Gould of her life in England(via Daimnation,) I'm ashamed that I let comparatively mild events in Toronto get to me.

Also, I should hasten to add that, as I live in Toronto, my face-to-face experiences and encounters with strident anti-Americanism are limited to Toronto. But as governments interact with governments, not people, the Canadian government is what the American government has to work with and the actions of the government of Canada hardly stands up in comparison to that of Australia, another Commonwealth nation.

Posted by Debbye at 01:39 PM | Comments (25)

October 11, 2004

Jack's Newswatch

Oct. 11 - Note new address for Jack's Newswatch, a daily briefing of news from Canada and the rest of the world. Jack includes some of the text from the items, and sometimes even his own commentary (although not often enough, to my mind.)

Oct. 12 17:40: Jack just informed me that he's undergoing major surgery tomorrow and will be away for at least a week. I'll be praying for you, Jack, and looking forward to your return.

Posted by Debbye at 11:51 PM | Comments (1)

Philippine Ferry update

Oct. 11 - This is not a surprise (Bomb caused ferry blast in Philippines that killed more than 100 in February) but I do find it depressing. Would I feel more sanguine if I managed to regard it a mere nuisance?

When the left is willing turn a blind eye to suffering around the world and the right is the side that grieves, it does indeed render labels meaningless.

Kerry is not a liberal, at least not in the classic sense of the word. He may be a sanctimonious, self-serving scumbag, but he is not a liberal.

Damn, now I'm channeling Star Trek.

Posted by Debbye at 11:40 PM | Comments (1)

Canadians see terror threat increased

Oct. 11 - According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted in Canada, 48% fear terror hit in Canada. The poll suggests that Canadians think the war in Iraq, which Canada did not support, has heightened the threat to Canadians.

This is the mind-boggler:

Canadians were generally satisfied with the way Prime Minister Paul Martin handles the war on terrorism. Sixty per cent said they approve and 32% said they disapprove.
As I can't think of anything the PM has done in this regard, I guess that those polled prefer that the PM do nothing.

No wonder Canadians would prefer to see Kerry elected President: he almost makes Martin look good.

Oct. 12 - 01:23: It seems Canadians weren't the only ones included in this poll; according to this at CNN

Leaders of those countries -- prime ministers Tony Blair of Britain, John Howard of Australia and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy -- all get low marks from their people for their handling of the war on terrorism, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll shows. (Emphasis added)


"In the context of the presidential campaign in the United States, this is undeniably a blow for George W. Bush, since it shows that a majority of Americans don't agree with the main justification for his policy in Iraq," said Gilles Corman, research director at Ipsos-Inra of Belgium, who studies public opinion trends across Europe.

This could be even more a blow to the Australian PM, who is facing an election which has been described as too close to call ... oh, wait. He not only won, he increased his party's majority!

Something is seriously wrong with this poll. But then, the only poll that matters is the one that opens on election day.

Posted by Debbye at 05:51 PM | Comments (2)

The nuisance of terrorism

Oct. 11 - The issue is supposedly whether the remarks are taken out of context (Bush campaign to base ad on Kerry terror quote) but I think that, once again, Kerry's attitude toward terrorism was revealed.

In the magazine article, a largely analytical cover story by Matt Bai, Kerry is asked "what it would take for Americans to feel safe again." ((Special Report: America Votes 2004)) (sic)

''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' the article states as the Massachusetts senator's reply.

''As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

Let's pause and remember that many people call for the decriminalization of prostitution. Now, I very much doubt that Sen. Kerry actually contemplates decriminalizing terrorist acts, but he does equate terrorism to a law enforcement issue. He can spin, but he can't hide.

The other question, of course, is how homicide bombers and those willing to shoot children in the back can ever be seen to be a "nuisance?" Unless, of course, he means that so long as only people in Africa, the Mid-East, Asia, South America and Europe are the victims of terrorism, we Americans can safely ignore it. And if Americans are killed abroad, well it happened far away so is just a one-day news item.

And what of bin Laden's declaration of war on the USA? Is it once again to be considered mere rhetoric? The events of Sept. 11 forced a different evaluation and rejection of that complacency, and however much Kerry would like us to return to the delusional halycon days of the '90s, wishing something don't make it so.

Posted by Debbye at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)

New Vatican postion on Iraq

Oct. 11 - Who would have figured the Vatican to jump aboard a band wagon? (Vatican buries the hatchet with Blair and Bush over Iraq):

Now, in light of the post-war chaos, Cardinal Sodano has announced a newly hawkish line on Iraq from Rome. "The child has been born," he declared recently on behalf of the Vatican. "It may be illegitimate, but it's here, and it must be reared and educated."
Interesting and probably intentional analogy.
In a trenchant interview in the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, Cardinal Sodano said that as the crisis in Iraq deepened, the time had come to forget past differences over the decision to invade.

His comments appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign to galvanise military and financial support for a democratic Iraq among critics of the war such as France and Germany.

Inasmuch as both Germany and France have declared they won't send troops to Iraq whatever the outcome of the US presidential election in November, I somehow doubt that words from the Vatican are going to sway them, but does it confer a belated legitimacy to the actions of our Italian allies and a back-hand slap at the Spanish and Philippine decisions to withdraw?

I seem to recall a member of the Vatican on Saddam's list of oil voucher recipients. Any connection?

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

October 10, 2004

Activistchat opens Iran Blog

Oct. 10 - Time to bookmark! Activistchat has begun it's own blog: BLOG-IRAN by Activistchat.com (Iran News & Views).

The ongoing struggle for freedom in Iran has been ignored by MSM since the February elections, but it continues nonetheless.

Read them. Support them. Be inspired by them.

Let freedom ring!

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

HMCS Chicoutimi update

Oct. 10 - (This should be titled "Why President Bush is a better person than almost everyone": Sub's ordeal nears an end.) The HMCS Chicoutimi, which was disabled by a fire last Tuesday, arrived in Scotland this afternoon - 1 day earlier than expected - because an American tug was dispatched to assist the Canadian sub and was able to tow the sub faster than the smaller British tug boat.

Lt. Chris Saunders died of injuries he sustained when the fire broke out, and the tentative cause of death has been "inhaling hot fire gas." Preparations are being made to return his body with full honours to Canada.

A great many luminaries are expected to be on hand for this event. You can expect many grave faces and words - lots and lots of words - because words are cheap, but outfitting and materially supporting the military aren't.

The real wonder is that so many fine Canadian men and women continue to enlist and staff the military. They get something that the so-called leadership of this feckless country doesn't: the need to stand on guard.

Even as Canadians mourn Saunders, it should be remembered that the crew of the Chicoutimi performed their duties and saved the ship.

Returning to the US tug that returned the Chicoutimi to port, let us all take a moment to reflect on how Haliburton and the oil companies are profiting by this because everyone in Toronto 'knows' that the USA does nothing unless it's to her material advantage.

Sheesh. The failure of this President to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity for a little payback by the simple practice of doing nothing must be added to Sen. Kerry's list of accusations. Or, perhaps the President feels as I do: that the uncomfortable spotlight which has exposed the sorry state of the Canadian military is not a cause for celebration but of sorrow.

As did many others, I waited for the President to slam the French, Chinese and Russians for their conspiracies with Saddam as they exploited, corrupted and debased the UN Oil for Food Project during Friday's debate. He declined the opening.

I get that we need to keep the door open to future Chinese, Russian and, yes, even French participation as the war on terrorism evolves.

I get that even though personal attacks are made on the President daily in the Canadian news media it would be childish for him to allow whatever personal pique he may feel influence his response in an emergency.

I even get that US assistance will not improve his image in Canada. The odds are that most of the voting American public won't even be aware of our assistance and the Canadian public will shrug it off as inconsequential and besides, Canadians are entitled to benefit from all things American.

But damn, doesn't President Bush know about shadenfreude? He still needs to learn more from our enlightened European cousins about these very important matters.

(Do I even need to attach sarcasm tags?)

I guess the long-term need to keep avenues open in the fight against terrorism overrides the very human short-term need to return personal shots.

And that why he's the President and I'm not.

Bob MacDonald has thoughts along similar lines:

It seems George W. Bush sticks to doing what he believes is right -- and not even his sniping opponents will stop him.
The personal nature of the attacks during this political campaign and indeed over the past four years is the main reason it's hard to take the President's opponents seriously - both at home and abroad. I get that nicely placed personal shots make people grin and feel superior, but such also mask a lack of strategy much less a plan for dealing with the very real threats we face.

Of course, Sen. Kerry does have a plan: hold a summit. Hmm, that's a page right out of Canadian Rules of Engagement! Peabrains do think alike!

16:43 - Kate ties the tow of the sub to Carolyn Parrish beautifully. I had noted that the tug's name is the Carolyn Chouest -- can't someone please come up with a zinger on that shared first name (other than the obvious similarities of their respective appearances?)

Oct. 11 - 18:22: See the comments section for some interesting information about the Carolyn Chouest from Chris Taylor and he's right - we don't want to connect the tug boat with Parrish.

17:00 - The FBI has uncovered a cache of what may be Kerry's plans (according to ScrappleFace!)

Oct. 11 - Coverage of the arrival of Ltd. Saunder's body in Halifax and the HMCS Chicoutimi in Scotland, and this from the UK's Daily Telegraph, contained this good news:

Two other crew members were also airlifted to Sligo General Hospital. Petty Officer Denis Lafleur and Master Seaman Archibald MacMaster, who is still in intensive care, are expected to make a full recovery.

Posted by Debbye at 03:45 PM | Comments (6)

October 09, 2004

Being Sane in T.O.

Oct. 9 - First, an apology. I was originally AWOL due to a (slight) computer problem and sudden increase in work-related demands, but once the temporary problems ceased I found I had been overrun by a Demon Within - the snarly, slobbering, fanged and clawed variety.

Okay, that's overstating things a lot. The simpler explanation is that I was writing a post which was angry in a mean-spiriteded way but my attempts to edit it only made it worse and revealed some things inside that I needed to confront.

I was full of anger, spite and a near vicious attitude toward my fellow Torontonians, and it all came to head at work over coffee, or rather the lack of coffee. It's one of those small, inconsequential kerfuffles that would ordinarily be shrugged off but it became a source of fury for me, and because I knew I was over-reacting I also knew I needed to look within. What I found was a big hole where tolerance and understanding once dwelt.

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I take a certain amount of heat from co-workers because I am an American. The movie Farenheit 911 gave Bush haters some talking points (let's move quickly past the mentality of those who take their cues from Michael Moore!) and as I actually have a vote in the upcoming election and they don't, it infuriates them that I support the President.

So what does that have to do with coffee? Well, my co-workers want someone to organize and run a coffee pool, and for some reason She who is a Warmonger was also the only person they could think of to organize and run one. Simple persuasion didn't work, so they employed Shameless Flattery.

I know I'm overreaching, but that state of affairs in coffee does seem to have a certain parallel with the state of the world and what the international community expects from the USA.

Is Canada one of the 'allies' Kerry thinks he can bring on board? America, trust me when I say that you are better off without them so long as the mentality that rules Toronto also controls Parliament.

One of the questions in last night's debate was about the experiences of Americans abroad. Anyone who believes that President Bush's policies provoked anti-Americanism is living in a state of denial as to how deep anti-American sentiments ran long before the 2000 elections and September 11.

Vicious attacks on the USA and Americans were written even as the dust was still settling over the hole in Manhatten, and they ranged from "blood is on America's hands so payback is good" to "maybe this will cause Americans to reconsider their place in the world" (which was evidenced in the US press as "why do they hate us" columns and editorials.)

So I'm still trying to get the Demon of Resentment under control and I don't want to inflict that kind of negativity on anyone (or do I just want to keep it hidden from everyone?) but maybe the rest of the world needs to know that we Americans sometimes make up for our lack of nuance by keeping our mouths shut but that silence is not to be mistaken for compliance or acceptance of their judgement but rather a willingness to bide our time, have our election, and proceed from there.

Mark November 2 on your calendars. I predict that Americans will speak very loudly that day, and the world should indeed worry about the re-election of President Bush because he may be above settling old scores but I'm not guaranteeing that the rest of us can live up to his example.

I owe personal apologies to those who emailed me and to whom I haven't responded. It was hard to compose letters when I couldn't compose myself, but I am dedicating Thanksgiving Day to wading through the spam in my Inbox and responding.

I know I owe a more profound and lengthy apology for my unexplained absence (a simple post that I was taking a break should have been made) but it's taken nearly three days to get this out and I have to face the fact that I'm unlikely to be happy with the lengthier apology but writing one will only allow me to procrastinate posting a mea culpa.

And the Coffee Issue? I solved it in a good ol' American way: I bought a thermos and bring my own coffee to work.

Speaking of work, I'm on an afternoon shift and have to go. More later.

Update Oct. 10 - 15:57 Thank you all for your support and encouragement. As I said, I have to battle a mean-spiritedness that is creeping into me and try to remain focused on the issues.

On or around Sept. 12, 2001, it occurred to me that part of the reason the USA is subject to so many misconceptions and slanders might in part be due to the fact that many of us who live abroad have tended to shrug our shoulders rather than respond to the attacks both in the media and from people with whom we interact.

Americans who live in Canada can "pass" for Canadian, and thus hear more slurs on our country than US citizens in other countries who would often be immediately indentifiable by their accents. My usual response in the past was to inform them that I was an American, and the usual response of an attacker would be to change the subject (which meant dropping the attack.) I now wonder if I should have pressed a counter-attack (in a very polite way, of course) which would have provided more talking points post Sept. 11.

I have questioned wearers of Kerry buttons as to whether they are American citizens, and haven't encountered one who is.

But I wear my Bush-Cheney button proudly, and when confronted, I say brightly "I'm an American citizen" confident that this announcement explains everything. It does take people aback! They haven't quite figured out the implications of a Bush victory, especially the impact on an American electorate that will finally leave hanging chad memories in the past and stride forward with a firm mandate for the President.

Expect lots of wailing as ex-pats who waited for the last minute find themselves unable to vote (these wankers think the Pentagon should assist them? The connection with the US for private citzens abroad is through the State Department, which could provide new fodder for the ineptitude of that department but certainly doesn't reflect on the President.) Expect impatience and dismissal from those of us who maintained our status on the Voter's List.

Those who didn't value their voting rights sufficiently to maintain them may find they have temporarily lost them. Talk about your Basic Life Lessons ... Mom and Dad are proven right yet again.

Note to Tim G.: Good on you! I'd love to see a tally of ex-pat voters but I think we'll be grouped with military personnel as absentee ballots and, as I can't imagine being in finer company, I'll willingly forgo the chance to counter Democrat whines that President Bush has made the world more "uncomfortable" for Americans and be content with victory.

Posted by Debbye at 09:47 AM | Comments (25)

Hurray for Howard!

Oct. 9 - Leapt out of bed, logged onto Australia news and began to breathe again: Latham concedes defeat to PM.

Throughout last night's Kerry-Bush debate I noted the lack of any mention of Australia, and surmised it was due to the fact that the voting was taking place.

Great news! Now I can admit how worried I was (probably because the election had been described as too close to call) that we would lose our staunch ally.

The Anglosphere, aka Chirac's Biggest Nightmare, is speaking. Is anyone listening?

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)