November 30, 2004

Pierre Berton 1920-2004

Pierre Berton.jpg

Nov. 30 - Some truly sad news up here: Pierre Berton has died. He was a respected author and his face was one of my earlier introductions to Canadian TV from when he was a panelist on Front Page Challenge.

He was unpretentious (many documentarians could learn a lot from his style and delivery,) had an optimistic view of Canada and the world, and was voted #31 on the recent Greatest Canadians list.

The CBC page has a funny story about Berton giving lessons in rolling a proper joint which is worth reading. That tale fits him wonderfully.

I don't see it listed on the imdb page dedicated to him, but didn't he also host Great Railway Stories?

There's a short biography of him here and which is also where I got the photo.

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

The President comes to Canada

Nov. 30 - Welcome to Peaktalk readers!

Bumping this up as it is very much the news of the day up here.

No, I'm not in Ottawa wishing the president well and adding my voice to those who genuinely welcome him. He heard my voice when I voted, and I think he is aware of the large number of ex-pats who defied the pundits and turned out to vote for him in large numbers.

As I post this President Bush is landing in Canada, and the malice from those polite Canadians at work - which had been suspended after the election - picked up again but with different results because I wouldn't play. Why should I? These are people who assert that if there was oil in Sudan the USA would have been in there ... they trust CBC and the Toronto Star, and I trust facts. There is no common meeting ground beyond work and I can smile, nod, and know I am looking at people who have failed to acknowledge that the world is beyond that which our mainstream media portrays.

Canadians have Martin and we have Bush. We have as president a man who says what he means and means what he says, and they have a prime minister who's most notably strong move has been to kick Carolyn Parrish out of the Liberal caucus for criticizing him despite CNN's assertion that it was for her anti-American statements and behaviour on TV.

I have total confidence that the president will listen to NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe politely and pay little heed to the dial-a-demonstrations; after all, he is President of the USA, not of Canada.

Nevertheless, I really do wish there would be some research into the feasibility of deploying a missile shield that does not cover Canada.

Much of North American is speculating as to whether official relations will or will not be smoothed between the two countries but what has always been at risk are the unofficial relations, i.e., the attitudes of the two populations which are decidedly not affected by official dinners, pomp, and speeches before Parliament.

I warned prior to the election that the rest of the world was gambling far more than they realized with the Bush-hatred, and now that the American electorate has spoken decisively (and the more observant should have drawn the proper conclusions noting how far to the right John Kerry had to bend to get the vote he did get) and as it would appear that much of the world media has chosen to declare that we, the American people, are as dumb as our President, some lines in the sand are irremediably drawn.

So be it. So why are they busy kissing our asses now? It's all about the trade.

I would have said more but Flea beat me to it with comments he made on what is actually a non-related subject but totally apropos:

What surprises me about this latest analysis is the continuing realization that so many people truly believe the United States to be omnipotent. It is not. In this respect I see the street protests as a psychological reaction to an imagined "bad father" who should have protected them on September 11. Continuing troubles in an imperfect world are, in this light, an immoral or irresponsible choice on the part of the bad father rather than an improvisation in the face of the bad hand dealt to us by the jihadists and the better part of a century of accommodation with the ruling family of Arabia. (Bolding added)
Either we are all-powerful and all-seeing, in which case we can never make any mistakes, or we are as error-prone as any other human and doing our best under adverse circumstances. One isn't supposed to be able to have one's cake and eat it too, so I wish folks would make up their minds and pick either omnipotent or mere mortal. It would make debates much more manageable.

10:59: I am watching the CBC, and whathisname actually asked what impact demonstrations in Canada would have on Americans. The response by Allen Gottlieb was that the demonstrations would have less impact than had he been heckled in Parliament.

Perhaps so, but my answer would have been that the Democrats - none of whom live abroad except Chelsea Clinton, and she was dismayed at the degree of anti-Americanism in Oxford immediately after Sept. 11 - would whine about how much our "prestige" has "fallen" in the world, and most Americans would shrug regardless. Since the dismal state of the Canadian military is a pretty widely-known fact, how much respect can Americans have for a people who are unwilling to defend themselves?

11:01: The contribution Canada could make to running the elections in Iraq leaves out the fact that any Canadians there would be targets. Would Canada risk their own to help Iraqis have free and open elections? Right.

11:04: David Frum is more analytical than I in a column published in today's National Post (available here) as well as more conciliatory:

Bush is working on the assumption that many allied governments feel that they have allowed their disagreements with the United States to go too far. In 2002 and 2003, for example, Jean Chretien--like Germany's Gerhard Schroeder and some other leaders as well--seemed to have decided he could earn some easy political points on the left-hand side of the political spectrum by running against George Bush. That decision may have been aided by a calculation that Bush was an accidental president likely to lose in 2004. Now that the President has been returned to office with great political power, those 2002-03 calculations are looking less shrewd. A minority Canadian prime minister does not want to spend the next four years quarrelling with a popular president backed by a congressional majority. (Emphasis added)
In other words, the president, from a position of decidedly stronger domestic strength than, say, Prime Minister Martin, is extending his hands in friendship; a lesser man would behave far differently, but I doubt rabid Bush-haters will recognize or understand what they are seeing.

Wiser heads may reflect that he is capable of doing so because he has much bigger concerns than personal pique or feelings of self-consequence; they will even recognize that he is indeed a leader because he can consign the slurs and insults to their proper place and keep this young century's chief challenge at the forefront of his agenda.

He is determined to give credit wherever he can, to encourage the efforts - large and small - to the allies in the war on terror, and to continue to build that coalition and urge it forward.

15:00: A Minority of One takes a look from Ottawa and has some well chosen words for Canadians who chose to forget Canada's tradition before peacekeeping:

Hey, you there, you, with the stupid sign. So how should Canada, with its sacred values, have addressed the agression and murderous thuggery of Hitler and Co.? What should we have done in response to the conquest of Hong Cong and the subsequent use of Canadian citizens as slave labour in Japanese coal mines? Curious minds want to know.
A small part of an excellent rant!

16:13: The CBC is estimating that 5,000 demonstrators got to mix it up with police, and something very strange:

Also present were activists in favour of legalized marijuana, same-sex marriages, and a woman's right to choose, as well as students, grandmothers and groups ranging from Lawyers Against the War to Bellydancers Against Bush.
There are more demonstrations planned for tomorrow, they say.

A CBC Online Diary gives a moment-by-moment account of the Bush visit. Read it and judge for yourselves.

17:32 - Toronto Star headline reads Defiant Bush stands by foreign policy. The-title-under-the-headline is Smaller-than-expected protest greet U.S. president. (It must have really hurt to have to print that one.)

The story:

OTTAWA — George W. Bush rode into town today with kind words for Canada but a defiant message for anyone who thinks he’ll back down from his controversial foreign policy.

The U.S. president arrived in Ottawa for a whirlwind two-day visit designed to warm bilateral relations and begin mending international fences in the wake of the Iraq war.
Still with that excuse? I lived here too many years to let them get away with pretending all the troubles began when we went to Iraq. The Star was especially vicious immediately after Sept. 11.
But the Texan was unbowed when asked about a recent poll suggesting most Canadians don’t like his policy direction.
He's not the president of Canada but of the U.S.A. It's not his job to please Canadians.
“I’m the kind of fella who does what I think is right,” he told a joint news conference with Prime Minister Paul Martin.

“We just had a poll in our country where people decided the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to stay in place for four more years.”

It was not exactly the message many had been expecting from a second-term president reputed to be eager to win back allies alienated by his decision to invade Iraq.

Nonsense. The only Canadians pretending to have expected a different message are probably writers for the Star setting up tomorrow's editorial and columns. (Now you all know why I rarely read the Star.)
It also did nothing to soothe the anger of protesters who scuffled with police after being blocked from marching down the main thoroughfare in front of Parliament.
That, of course, is the real reason President Bush is visiting Canada: "to soothe the anger of protesters."

The prevailing attitude in most of the mainstream media seems to be that Bush needs to repair relations with Canada, thus implying that the USA has more to gain from better relations than Canada, yet without missing a beat stories go straight to the numerous trade issues (especially softwood lumber and the beef trade) which are rankling Canadians.

What exactly does the USA gain from better relations from Canada? I have my own reasons which center on increasing US security, but Canada has a great deal to lose should the border be closed in the event of another terrorist attack and should that attack originate in Canada there will be hell to pay.

18:02 - Heh. Lou Dobbs on CNN is reporting that the president found Canadians less than friendly, and John King is also promoting the Myth of Bitter Disputes Over Iraq. (But then CNN is still disconsolate that France didn't join us so their observations may be less than objective.)

As I recall, then PM Chretien announced that Canada wouldn't lend even moral support because he didn't support the notion of regime change, and the bitterness was pretty much limited to those Canadians who felt Canada should support her traditional allies Great Britain and Australia (and the USA,) and those who were far too enlightened to stop a maniacal, genocidal monster who terrorized his own people.

18:30 - The Fox website says that "Bush had a cool relationship with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien (search), but Martin, in office less than a year, has sought to repair the damage." What they imply but don't say is that Martin has had to step carefully because the anti-Americanism which was given full rein under Chretien is harder to put back into the bottle than it was to let out; furthermore, and this is the part that is hard for Americans to understand (as we don't have a Parliamentary system,) is that he is in a coalition government with the leftist New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal Party depends on their support to remain in power.

Posted by Debbye at 02:15 PM | Comments (17)

Top 10 TV characters

Nov. 30 - Updating this, The top 10 Greatest TV Characters have been announced:

10. Tony Soprano
9. Capt. James T. Kirk
8. Mary Richards
7. Lt. Columbo
6. Seinfeld Cast
5. Homer Simpson
4. The Fonz
3. Lucy Ricardo
2. Ralph Kramden
1. Archie Bunker

Some good calls by us commenters, but Daisy Duke, Dr. Who and George & Gracie have been most unaccountably left out.

Looking at it one way, the top five has three cranky men, a dizzy redhead and the Fonz.

Or, the top five has 2 characters from the 50's and one who portrayed someone from the 50's. Archie is a 50's guy living in the 60's, and Homer is A Timeless Man of All Decades. Heh.

Posted by Debbye at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

Happy birthday, Sir Winston!

Nov. 30 - Mike Campbell, Canada's leading Churchill scholar to the blogosphere, advises a dram of good single malt is an acceptable alternative to brandy in celebration of Churchill's 130th birthday.

Sir Winston has been in the minds of many of us since the president warned we were about to begin a long and arduous war on terrorism, and I've learned much more from Mike's Churchill webpage and posts than all the history courses I took (and this admission from a history major!) and although, alas, he debunks the myth of Charlie, Churchill's supposed Nazi-bashing trash-talking parrot, there is much about Churchill's true accomplishments to give great heart and courage in the struggle we face today.

The decision to go to war against the fascists of Germany, Italy and the militarists of Japan was long in coming (and in the case of the USA painfully overdue) but at that time too was a strong pacifist movement that earnestly in some cases and mendaciously in others opposed that war. Yet Churchill persevered and the British were far readier for war when it came than, quite frankly, we were when it came to us on Sept. 11.

Many others have pointed out that the harsh cost to Europeans in that war was not because they engaged in it but because they delayed so long; as history doesn't allow for do-overs those arguments necessarily remain conjecture only, but I think the present war puts that argument to the test and, as always, history alone will judge (which is another way of saying history will smile if we are successful and frown if we are not. History isn't really all that complicated.)

A portion of making mature judgements is understanding when conflict can be avoided and when it cannot (many successful careers, marriages and childhood raising issues rely on just those decisions) and even when policies of appeasement were approved, Churchill stood true to his convictions even though he went against international opinion.

I find realism and resolve personified in Sir Winston. He has inspired many of us, including Ghost of a Flea and his ongoing Winston Review (the most recent is No. 21) and I think Churchill would take great satisfaction that his spirit guides and nourishes us today.

Thank you, Sir Winston, and a very happy birthday.

Posted by Debbye at 01:27 PM | Comments (2)

Ukraine elections IV

Nov. 30 - Nine days! Ukrainians continue to remain vigilant in an awesome display of idealism and determination. The massive numbers of people who continue to block government buildings in frigid weather is humbling and one has to ask oneself would I be out there given the discomfort much less the risks if we lose? Naturally I say Yes! but I'm not actually there and, accustomed as I am to the leniency of North America when it comes to tolerating demonstrations, confronting tanks on the streets of my hometown is just not really an expectation.

[The more time goes by, the more I doubt such will happen in Kiev mostly because the whole world is watching, but it was certainly in the back of my mind in the early days after the election and it is unlikely that those who gathered outside the government buildings were unaware of the danger.]

Latest news is that the opposition has cancelled talks and, I'm surmising, have wisely chosen to place their confidence in the hands of those who have vowed to not stop blocking the buildings until their demands are met.

According to CNN, these demands are:

The government must admit that the election results were falsified.

Yanukovych's government and the Central Election Commission must step down.

Some action must be taken against three regional governors who threatened to take steps toward autonomy in the wake of the dispute.

Interior Minister Nikolai Bilokon, who they believe was part of the effort to manipulate the election, must be fired.

John O'Sullivan makes some interesting points in his Chicago Sun-Times column More than presidency at stake in Ukraine (link via Instapundit) in which he looks at the divided nature of Ukraine and the surprisingly clumsy role played by Russian President Putin as well as something I hadn't even considered: the losing role of French President Chirac and others.
A third loser is French President Jacques Chirac and those European leaders who want the European Union to be an anti-American counterweight to America. International crises involving Russia tend to remind Europeans that the United States remains a very valuable ally in a dangerous and unpredictable world. Fantasies of a superpower Europe seem insubstantial delusions by comparison with this tested alliance.
I'm not sure about that, and I certainly haven't noticed such in Toronto (although East European immigrants here are often sympathetic to the US.) I've been pretty focused on what this upsurge means to the people of Ukraine without consideration of the role their struggle plays in a wider geopolitical struggle for power so leave such matters to real pundits.

I don't expect everyone to take our path but merely support their right to chose their own paths, and it appears that such is exactly what they are doing; that is the defintion of freedom.

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

Sorry about my absence ...

Nov. 30 - I got off work Friday morning feeling the symptoms of a cold and spent most of the weekend sleeping, reading, and taking plenty of liquids. I see you carried on without me ...

Is it a definite sign of decreptitude when someone gets sick on weekends? I've always faithfully observed the rule about only being sick on work days but it seems some things have gotten beyond my will power since I turned *ahem*cough* years old.

The weekend wasn't a total loss as I was able to finish my leisurely re-read of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien as well as Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

TV Ontario had an Austen-fest Saturday night and I was fully prepared with my kleenex, tea and popcorn for the airing of the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility, a horrible 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice (Greer Garson is horrible as Elizabeth) and a reasonable version of Persuasion. Unfortunately, I fell asleep at around 6:30 p.m. and woke up at around 4:00 a.m. so missed the whole thing.

I brightened up considerably when I saw that the Vancouver CITY station was showing Boondock Saints at 6 a.m. ET, and it wasn't until I was applauding the confessional scene that I considered the oddity of liking both Jane Austen and a movie like Boondock Saints.

There's probably a significant philosophical undercurrent that transforms that seeming weirdness into something deeply profound, but whatever it is, it escapes me and I can only justify my taste with "I like it!"

Oh well, don't cross the road if you can't get out of the kitchen.

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

November 26, 2004

Kojo Annan and Cotecna

Nov. 26 - Claudia Rosett, who has determinedly investigated the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food Program for years, has information that may put Kofi Annan personally in a direct conflict-of-interest. Although his son Kojo was said to have left Cotecna in late 1998, some weeks before the comapny won the U.N. contract to check imports into Iraq under the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program, Rosett's article in the New York Sun reveals that Annan's Son Took Payments Through 2004 from Cotecna:

The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna's work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

This latest bombshell involving the secretary-general's son was confirmed Wednesday by Kofi Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, in response to this reporter's query, based on information obtained elsewhere. In an email, Mr. Eckhard wrote: "I was able to reach Kojo's lawyer this morning. He confirms that Kojo Annan received payments from Cotecna as recently as February 2004. The lawyer said that these payments were part of a standard non-competition agreement, under which the decision as to whether to continue the payments or not was up to Cotecna."

Mr. Eckhard added that, according to Kojo Annan's lawyer, the information has "been reported" to the U.N.-authorized inquiry into oil-for-food, led by a former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker.

Labeled as compensation for Kojo Annan's agreeing not to compete with Cotecna's business in West Africa, the post-employment payments were in the amount of $2,500 per month, according to another source with access to the documents. If the payments were continuous over the slightly more than five-year period involved, that would have totaled more than $150,000.

Cotecna officials, who this past April received a gag letter from the U.N. Secretariat, did not respond to queries from The New York Sun about why the company continued its non-competition payments to Kojo Annan for more than five years, instead of the one year previously reported. Neither did the company answer a question about why the payments apparently stopped this past February - just after the oil-for-food scandal erupted into the headlines following allegations in a Baghdad newspaper that the program was massively corrupt. Cotecna earlier this year denied any wrongdoing, saying that Kojo Annan's portfolio involved West Africa, not the U.N. or Iraq. Kojo Annan's lawyer at the London-based firm Schillings said the younger Annan is cooperating with the Volcker inquiry, but would not comment to the press on his payments from Cotecna.

Conflict-of-interest guidelines are far from uniform as are those for full disclosure, but there is seemingly a conflict in the information that has been given out about Kojo Annan's financial relationship with Cotecna and the dates which have been mis-reported are quite significant.

There is more, so read the article in entirety.

(Via Daimnation.)

Nov. 30 - 15:35: Kofi Annan has said he was unaware that the payments had continued and expressed his disappointment.

Posted by Debbye at 09:35 AM | Comments (53)

Ukraine Elections III

Nov. 26 - Opposition steps up Kiev protest:

In the center of Kiev, protesters stood linked armes and stood five deep in the freezing cold to encircle the Cabinet building, The Associated Press reported. The building holds the offices of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the official winner of Sunday's election.
The decision of the Ukraine Supreme Court to hear the challenge filed by Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and their order to withhold election results pending review has had an electrifying effect on the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians there and around the world as well as on freedom-lovers everywhere.

Foreignnotes, a blog run by an American in Kiev, is atop events there (via The Corner.)

The Command Post Global Recon Page has been on top of the situation as well and updating the news as it comes in.

A Fistful of Euros continues to have round-ups of both news items and information posted by Ukrainian bloggers (via Instapundit.)

Something spectacular has happened: A Fistful of Euros reports that

The showdown may have begun. Victor Katolyk reports that, following a “declaration of truth” by several hundred Ukrainian television employees, several tv stations have begun broadcasting “real” news. While several hundred Policemen appear to have pledged allegiance to the people, and former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko apparently declared the beginning of a seige of Presidential Administration, Cabinet of Ministers, and the Parliament, there are also reports of pressure on Supreme Courst judges and their families to rule in favor of Mr Yanukovich.
Classic revolutionist strategy calls for gaining control over the communications sector and the army. The post also reports that Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has also rejected the election results.

I had heard there was to be another vigil last night at the Ukrainian Consulate here in Toronto and although I haven't seen anything on the news to confirm it I would be extremely surprised if there wasn't one. It has been inspiring to behold the surge of determination and pride by ex-pat Ukrainians and, at the risk of being very cliched, we do take so very much for granted here that are elusive dreams for others elsewhere.

May freedom ring!

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

November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov. 25 - Just a quickie to wish Americans back home and abroad - and particularly the wonderful members of our military - a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

There are many things for which we can be grateful, but the one thing that strikes me this day is that we are still a people who fail the global test of world weary cynicism and can cheer wholeheartedly for the Ukrainian people and admire their courage.

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 PM | Comments (2)

Invisible ink used in Ukraine elections

Nov. 25 - 'Invisible ink' used in election fraud according to British MP Bruce George:

THE senior British MP in charge of monitoring last Sunday's polls in Ukraine has revealed how the election was undermined by intimidation, fraud and invisible ink.

Bruce George, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee and head of the international Short-Term Observation Commission in Ukraine, told The Times one of the election monitors handed him a suspicious pen from a polling station.

Mr George, a veteran Labour MP who helped to oversee the election in Georgia last year, found that anything written with the pen vanished in 15 minutes. "I saw a pen that had ink that disappeared when it dried," he said.

"People were issued with pens to cast their votes, but their votes would have disappeared after they dropped the paper into the ballot box."

There's more, including reports of the dead voting.

Posted by Debbye at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

Surge in illegal immigrants concerns officials

Nov. 25 - From Poisoning Pigeons v. Xmas: I'm nice during the holidays. Don't piss me off.The insantity must be stopped:

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."

(Via Absinthe and Cookies)

On a more serious note, deserters from the U.S. military who sought asylum in Canada on the basis that the Iraq war was illegal have had that argument rejected by the refugee board.

Posted by Debbye at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)


You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read. Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.
What kind of blogger are you?

(Via Ghost of Flea.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:12 AM | Comments (4)

Arrests in Australian embassy bombing

Nov. 25 - Four men involved in the pre-election bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta last September have been detained and were planning more bombs, police say:

National police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said crack anti-terror police arrested the embassy attack field co-ordinator, named Rois, near Bogor on November 5, along with three other men: Hasan, Apuy and master bomb-maker Sogir.
Officers burst into their hideout and overpowered them before they could set off suicide bombs.

A cache of explosive packs and bundles were found at the scene -- chilling evidence more attacks were planned in the wake of the September 9 embassy car bomb blast that killed 11.

The four were detained in secret for almost three weeks as the hunt for other terrorists continued.


Even so, JI's [Jemaah Islamiah] principal bomb masterminds -- Malaysians Azahari Husin and Noordin Top -- are still on the run.


The missing pair are also implicated in the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed 202 people -- including 88 Australians -- and the August 5, 2003 attack on the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, which killed 12 people.

The most important of the four arrested is Rois, alias Iwan Darmawan.

He is accused of being the right-hand man of Azahari, the bespectacled, British-trained engineer believed to have overseen design of the Bali bombs.

Rois is said to have recruited Heri Golun, the embassy suicide bomber.

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

Canada "mending" diplomatic relations with Iran

Nov. 25 - Canada withdrew her ambassador to Iran last July to protest Iran's failure to bring justice to Zahra Kazemi's killers but it was announced that Gordon Venner will assume duties as Canada's ambassador to Iran.

Despite the request of her son, Stephan Hachemi, and Canada's backing of that request, Kazemi's body has not been returned to Canada and thus an independent autopsy was never performed.

Why resume diplomatic relations after Iran killed a Canadian citizen?

NDP MP Alexa McDonough said Canada is better served by having a diplomatic presence in Iran.

"It's certainly clear that the Iranian government has not satisfactorily addressed the Kazemi fiasco, but at the same time, when there's an empty chair there's no dialogue ..."

Jean Chretien was prime minister when Kazemi was "interrogated to death" (per Mark Steyn) and his outrage seems to have eased after he left office and vanished entirely when he decided to visit Iran:
Mr. Chretien, now a private citizen, will travel to Iran next month to meet top Iranian government officials.

But Mr. Chretien isn't there to seek justice for Ms. Kazemi. Nor will he speak for the dozens of Iranians rotting in jails for the crime of believing Iran should have the same democracy Canadians enjoy.

Instead, Mr. Chretien is going to Iran as a "special adviser" to the Calgary oil company PetroKazakhstan, which wants to ship Kazakh oil to China and Iran. His job is to convince the Iranians that this is a good idea.

He succeeded.

Posted by Debbye at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

Ukraine elections II

Nov. 25 - There has been a call for a general strike in Ukraine and Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has filed a complaint to Ukraine's Supreme Court regarding the actions of the Central Election Commission after an election that has been denounced by most Western leaders: Deputy PM Anne McClellan of Canada, U.S. Sec. of State Colin Powell, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Australia.

Dep. PM McClellan also threatened sanctions if there isn't a full and open review of the electoral process.

Lech Walesa addressed a crowd in Kiev and expressed his solidarity and admiration for them.

For a second night, a protest was held in front of the Ukrainian consul in Toronto and today's editorial in the Toronto Sun (one day link) also condemns the fraudulent election:

BRAVO! Canada did the right thing yesterday in refusing to recognize the disputed Ukrainian election result.

In light of widespread reports of voting fraud -- some from Canadian MPs who were there as observers -- this country cannot endorse the purported election of Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin-backed former prime minister.

Sun columnist Bob MacDonald writes Ukraine pays price of freedom, elaborating that The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

The leader in the Telegraph (UK) notes the chance of a re-run of the election Ukraine has chance to fulfil its democratic pledge:

Viktor Yanukovich, the prime minister, said he was not interested in a "fictitious" victory and that "no position of authority, no matter how important, is worth a single human life". Leonid Kuchma, the outgoing president, ruled out the use of force. From outside, President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland said he had been asked to mediate, while Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schröder, having spoken by telephone, urged that the crisis be solved by legal means.

The receding prospect of violent confrontation is welcome news in a country whose eastern and western regions have been deeply split electorally over the past decade. Add to this growing secessionist tendencies in Crimea, which was given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954, and you have the potential for national disintegration.

Meanwhile, the Russian Duma has affirmed their support for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich .

9:54: Via David Frum's Diary, be sure to read Anne Applebaum's column The New Iron Curtain in the Washington Post which takes a critical look at Russia's motives in interfering in Ukrainian politics.

19:56: The Telegraph's Julius Strauss also looks at why the Russians are so determined to install Yanukovych as Ukraine's president:

Mr Putin's immediate aim is to create a single economic zone in the region. Echoing Comecon, the Soviet-era trading bloc, the plan is to form a common market on the territories of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

The Kremlin's hope is that this will be a milestone on the road to raising Russia to the status of the controlling regional power and perhaps eventually regaining its superpower status.

Winning Ukraine is the chief pillar of the Kremlin's ambitions. The 48 million-strong country is the largest in Europe, rich in agriculture and a key transit route for Russian gas to the EU.

It's not all about the oil. For many of us, events in Ukraine are not simply about wanting to stop Russia from regaining superpower status but something far more basic: memories of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the chance to keep history from recording a repetition of that shame.

Aside: Has Kofi Annan said anything yet about the Ukraine elections?

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

November 24, 2004

The shifting moderate centre

Nov. 24 - Damian has an excellent (and heartfelt) post about the things he believes and the Canada he wants in Our shifting 'moderate centre'.

[You know, I believe there is really a chance for South Park Conservatism in Canada. If only people didn't freak out when we try to explain what it is ...]

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

Ukranian elections

Nov. 24 - The official announcement of the results of Ukraine's national election is pending so I have CNN on. (Sleep? as if ...) CNN's website headlines Ukraine poll tensions mount which is one massive understatement.

There are probably hundreds of millions of people in North America who aren't having an on the edge of history moment but I'm not one of them.

A co-worker is from Ukraine. I asked her last night if she was okay, and she took a breath, nodded, and pumped her fist. "So long as the people ..." and I sensed a very familiar feeling, the kind I remembered from 1968 Prague and 1989 Tiananmen Square, and again in Georgia earlier this year which was followed by gratified astonishment ... and I also sensed the one you get when faith in your countrymen and women fills you from head to toe and floods you with resolve, solidarity and strength.

I am worried - very worried - that there may be bloodshed this day. But I also know that there are times when you simply must make your stand because you've come to the Now or Never point and there's just no backing down from that one.

Today's post at Belmont Club is cryptically titled The Ukraine and sums up the situation in typical Belmont Club form (and quotes from a letter from Vaclav Havel supporting Viktor Yuschenko.) Wretchard reports something I hadn't yet heard, namely that Russian special forces were dispatched to Ukraine and were wearing Ukrainian Special forces uniforms (the link is to observer Bob Schaffer's reports. Begin reading from the bottom entry - it's well worth the time to read the entire thing.) Wretchard reports that American, Canadian and European diplomats "all expressed concern at the Kremlin's actions, creating remarkable psychological solidarity which is in stark contrast towards the wrangling over Iraq."

The Washington Times describes the crowds supporting both sides maintaining vigils despite freezing temperatures and there was a demonstration of over 1,000 last night in front of the Ukrainian Consulate in Toronto in solidarity with Yushchenko's supporters in Ukraine. (More here.) Update: Many, many demonstrations worldwide by Ukrainian ex-pats.

The Toronto Star has a story about the illness that has plagued Yushchenko and speculations that he was poisoned.

International reaction to the election has been fairly consistent and centers on the electoral process. There could be unspecified "consequences" if there is not a "complete review of the electoral process," according to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

I haven't located a link to the entirety of Canadian PM Paul Martin's statement (he's in Brazil) but he too expressed dismay over the electoral process.

A statement from the White House expresses President Bush's concerns about "extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, ... " and urges that violence be avoided.

On the other side, Russian President Putin has "criticized Western assessments of the vote as flawed, stressing the results were not yet official. On a state visit to Portugal, he called for calm and respect for the law in this former Soviet republic."

Bob Schaeffer notes that Putin seems to have backtracked somewhat (see entry at 1:40 MST) from an earlier statement.

10:41 and still waiting. CNN is having continuous coverage of ... travel and weather updates. I know it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, but still.

11:14: Arthur Chrenkoff has the response of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to the Ukraine election.

11:34: (Doh! I'd forgotten I had BBC. Much better coverage than CNN.) The Election Commission announced the results of the election declaring Yanukovych the winner. It appears the prospect of holding the election again is slim.

Posted by Debbye at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

150 sex abuse cases charges in Congo Peacekeeping

Nov. 23 - Michelle Malkin calls it The U.N.'s Abu Ghraib, citing an item from Reuters: U.N.: 150 sex abuse charges in Congo peacekeeping.

The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.

Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the charges came to light since the spring.


In May the United Nations reported some 30 cases of abuse among peacekeepers in the northeastern town of Bunia, where half of the more than 10,000 soldiers are stationed.

Last month, one French soldier and two Tunisian soldiers were sent home, U.N. officials said. Three U.N. civilian staff were suspended.

So action has been taken: some peacekeepers have been sent home, 3 U.N. staff members were suspended and an inquiry has been initiated. It resembles Abu Ghraib because here too the story was broken after corrective measures had begun, but I think it unlikely the photographic and video evidence will receive the same (if any) exposure as the infamous ones from Abu Ghraib (I wouldn't want to be the only person not to say that!)

Needless to say Kofi Annan is shocked and outraged, but as the article notes,

The United Nations has jurisdiction over its civilian staff but troops are contributed by individual nations. Consequently, the world body has only the power to demand a specific country repatriate an accused soldier and punish him or her at home.
The fact that Reuters has reported on it is significant, but this isn't the first report of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeeping troops in the Congo. When I followed a trackback to Malkin's post to U.N. Seraglio in the Congo getting little attention at Captain's Quarters he cited his May 25 post UN Implements Sex-For-Food Program In The Congo from a report in The Independent (which is possibily about cases referred to in the 6th paragraph of the Reuters article?)

It will be easy to blame Kofi Annan for the growing pile of scandals that are plaguing the U.N. from Oil-to-Food, to possible attempts by IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei to influence the U.S. election, to the reports of misbehaviour at best and criminal behaviour at worst by the very troops sent to protect innocent people but which in fact victimize them. It will, in fact, be too easy to place the lion's share of blame onto one person and a few flunkies and then, feeling absolved, quickly move on.

But the problem isn't just Kofi Annan. The problem is the U.N. itself, which is composed of unelected, unscritinized, and unaccountable people. They presume to usurp moral authority from legally elected governments, pander to dictators and statists, and are as corruptible as all humans - and in that last all-important detail we find that dangerous flaw to which we are all subject (you know, the one about the inevitability of power corrupting mere mortals.)

I hope I'm not breaking any, er, blogiquette by posting a link to a May 2 Telegraph article UN threatens authors of 'racy' expose take from one of the Captain's commenters on the May post. The article says:

The United Nations has threatened to fire two officials who wrote an expose of sleaze and corruption during its peacekeeping missions of the 1990s.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, is understood to have favoured an attempt to block publication of the memoir, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, a True Story from Hell on Earth, due to be published next month.

Still reeling from the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, officials in the upper echelons of the UN are alarmed by the promised revelations of wild sex parties, petty corruption, and drug use - diversions that helped the peacekeepers to cope with alternating states of terror and boredom.


The co-authors, who met in Cambodia in 1993 and later worked in Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia and Somalia, claim that petty corruption over expense accounts and living allowances was rife.

Ms Postlewait was in her early thirties when she went on her first trip abroad for the UN, supervising elections in Cambodia. There, she soon worked out that she could save enough money from her expense account to set herself up nicely back in New York. In other frauds, UN staff were said to quote blackmarket currency exchange rates to pad out their expenses.

The authors also complain that they encountered "bureaucratic betrayal" on missions, as the UN allegedly struck cynical deals with corrupt local officials.

Much as we might fondly imagine otherwise, people who work for the U.N. are not saints but people with all the fallibilities - including greed and pride - that beset each of us.

(Via Michelle Malkin and following the trackback to Captain's Quarters.)

14:09 From this post at Friends of Saddam's, it seems AP has picked up the story with some notable additions:

The United Nations mission in Congo has about 10,500 soldiers and police as well as 1,000 international staff from 50 countries. It began in 1999. Investigators are now checking the 15 other U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world to see how widespread the problem is, Lute said.

Allegations of sex abuse and other crimes have dogged U.N. peacekeeping missions almost since their inception in 1948. It's been difficult to clamp down because the United Nations doesn't want to offend the relatively small number of nations who provide most of its peacekeeping troops.


In recent years, the United Nations has tried to clear up sex abuse problems by putting more emphasis on training peacekeepers - known as "blue helmets" for their distinctive headgear - and re-emphasizing codes of conduct.

But Lute said those efforts have not kept pace with the massive growth in peacekeeping missions, and their complexity - where soldiers often are deployed in highly volatile, lawless areas rather than manning clearly defined truce lines.

Lute said U.N. leaders were now determined to get tougher. On Friday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "absolutely outraged" by the allegations.

So-called "personnel conduct officers" have been sent to the missions in Congo, Burundi, Ivory Coast and Haiti. (Bolding added.)

That last sentence forces me to wonder if there have been allegations in those places as well.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (7)

Top 100 TV Characters

Nov. 23 - Newsday has compiled a list of the top 100 TV characters. They only list the top 90 at the link and will reveal the top 10 on Bravo Channel Friday night. (I think they mean USA Bravo.)

Some of the choices are interesting. Bret Maverick placed at #33, and Mulder and Scully placed at #32. Maynard G. Krebs placed at #93 (not that I'm complaining; I'm actually pleased that other people out there have fond memories of TV's first recurring beatnik.)

The top 10 might be deducted in part by who is not on the list thus far, so I'm figuring Archie Bunker, Mary Richards and Ben Cartwright (or one of his "sons") might make the Top10!Greatest!TV Characters.

Any other all time greats that aren't listed yet? I'd like to see Delenn or Capt. John Sheridan of Babylon 5 make it but, hard as it is to believe, that show seems to still be in the "cult favourite" catagory.

Nov. 30: The top 10 are named here. We made some good calls (with a few disappointments.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:31 AM | Comments (6)

Black Watch in "Triangle of Death"

Nov. 23 - A report in today's Telegraph (UK) on British troops in Iraq which have blocked escape routes out of Fallujah:

Hundreds of Iraqi insurgents are trapped inside the "Triangle of Death" following the American assault on Fallujah and the blocking of key escape routes by the Black Watch, according to a British military intelligence officer.

He said a "hornet's nest" of insurgents had been stirred by the arrival of the Black Watch and the Queen's Dragoon Guards three weeks ago.

"British troops and US forces have sealed off the insurgents' escape routes and they have nowhere to go," he said. "They are fixed in that area and they are angry.


The Black Watch base has been hit by rockets and mortars almost every day since the troops arrived. Four British soldiers have been killed and 14 injured. There have been no casualties in the past two weeks, however, and this has led to a growing feeling that the Black Watch is gaining control in a key area.

There are 850 troops at Camp Dogwood, including 550 Black Watch, 105 Queen's Dragoon Guards, a small unit of Marines, plus Engineers and Signals.

There are other Brits in Iraq as well, including the two who were arrested after a gunfight with men guarding the home of the Iraqi Minister of the Interior, Falah al-Naqib.

They have been turned over to the British embassy in Baghdad.

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

Medicinal Chocolate

Nov. 23 - Got a cough? Try eating some chocolate:

Eating chocolate could be a better way of stopping persistent coughing than anything available from the chemist's, according to new research.

Theobromine, an ingredient of cocoa, was found to be almost a third more effective in preventing coughing than codeine - considered the best available cough medicine.

And it is safe to drive or operate heavy machinery after eating chocolate, too!

Posted by Debbye at 08:40 AM | Comments (4)

November 22, 2004

The true Iraqi warriors

Nov. 22 - An assessment of the willingness of Iraqi soldiers to fight for their country is in today's Washington Times in Iraqi forces stick to their guns in battle. Room for improvement? Always. Stronger hope for the future of Iraqi? Absolutely.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Reclaiming lost ideals

Nov. 22 - Holland is not a 60-year-old story anymore about Canadian soldiers and liberation from the Nazis.

These opening words of today's Ezra Levant column (Militant Islam rising) makes clear that we need to comprehend that the elegant, tolerant Europe we envision no longer exists but has become one that faces challenges that their leaders and media have been too slow to grasp:

For a generation, the public square in Western civilization has been systematically voided of any Judeo-Christian moral content. And into that void has come a competing set of moral values: Militant Islam.

Nature and politics abhors a vacuum. For a generation, Europe -- and Canada -- has been told that nothing is right or wrong, there ought not to be Judeo-Christian morality in public life, and that the philosophical compatibility and integration of immigrants is not important. That may have worked before; but it does not work in the era of Osama bin Laden and al Jazeera. These are not people coming to join things.

The other side of that coin are the numbers of Muslims who emigrated to Western countries in order to escape the harshness of some aspects of sharia yet have found themselves still subject to that rigid system due to the reluctance of Dutch and other governments to appear intolerant by interfering within what was judged to be community matters despite the cost to Muslim women who would chose to embrace Western lifestyles and aspirations.

Ghost of a Flea provides a link to the Theodore Dalrymple article Why Theo Van Gogh Was Murdered which argues that

more likely it resulted from his work’s exposure of a very raw nerve of Muslim identity in Western Europe: the abuse of women. This abuse is now essential for people of Muslim descent for maintaining any sense of separate cultural identity in the homogenizing solution of modern mass society.


The abuse of women has often, if not always, appealed to men, because it gives them a sense of power, however humiliated they may feel in other spheres of their life. And the oppression of women by Muslim men in Western Europe gives those men at the same time a sexual partner, a domestic servant, and a gratifying sense of power, while allowing them also to live an otherwise westernized life. For the men, it is convenient; interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, almost the only openly hostile expressions toward Islam from British-born Muslims that I hear come from young women, some of whom loathe it passionately because they blame it for their servitude.

We urgently need a long overdue assessment of the extent to which Western society has failed Muslim women.

Ayyan Hirsi Ali is an outspoken (and fearless) women from Somalia who is a member of the Dutch Parliament but who is also under 24-hour guard due to the death threats she has received in tolerant Holland.

A Canadian Muslim woman, Irshad Manji, authored an article that is on the UPI page about Van Gogh's murder Challenging Islam is Risky which she points out that risky though it may be, at least raising questions in Western society doesn't involve incurring the wrath of the state:

... If Muslims in the West dare to ask questions about our holy book, and if we care to denounce human rights violations being committed under the banner of that book, we need not worry about being raped, flogged, stoned or executed by the state for doing so. What in God's name are Muslims in the West doing with our freedoms?

I know what many young Muslim would like us to be doing -- thinking critically about ourselves and not solely about Washington. Indeed, a huge motivation for having written my book came from young Muslims on American and Canadian campuses. Even before 9/11, I spoke at universities about the virtues of diversity, including diversity of opinion. After many of these speeches, young Muslims emerged from the audiences, gathered at the side of stage, chatted excitedly among themselves, and then walked over to me.

"Irshad," I would hear, "we need voices such as yours to help us open up this religion of our because if it doesn't open up, we're leaving it."

They're on the front lines in the battle for the soul of Islam. Whatever the risks to my own safety, I won't turn my back on them -- or on the gift of freedom bestowed by my society.

I have ranted (many times) before about the bankruptcy of both those who pretend to preach tolerance and today's feminist movement which either forgot or abandoned the notion of sisterhood and attributed such to partisan politics, but now I've come to realize that the problems run deeper and I can't expect much more from those who have also abandoned the notion that all people, including Muslim women, are entitled to freedom.

The founding ideal of the modern feminist movement in the '70s was to proclaim that we had the right to determine the course of our lives, but if we don't affirm that those rights extend to our Muslim sisters then we have betrayed that ideal and stand exposed as selfish hypocrites.

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 AM | Comments (6)

Arafat's wealth linked to Ontario firm

Nov. 22 - It will be interesting to see if this gets coverage up here: Arafat's massive wealth exposed and among his holdings is a pharmaceutical firm in Belleville, Ontario:

THE late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat controlled a network of companies, investments and bank accounts with a value totalling at least $US1.5 billion ($1.9 billion), according to Austrian business magazine Format.

Quoting a Central Intelligence Agency report, it said the CIA had conducted inquiries after receiving information that a holding company of the Palestine Liberation Organisation had invested $US9 million in a small pharmaceutical company in the Canadian town of Belleville, Ontario.

Format said investigators had "stepped on an anthill" when they uncovered the stake held by the Palestinian Commercial Service Corporation in Bioniche Life Sciences, revealing a network of PLO funds such as Chalcedony, Onyx, Evergreen, SilverHaze and Avmax International, the last based in Aruba in the Caribbean.

The weekly said it had seen a file "detailing in concrete terms for the first time how much money was involved".

One component of the financial network alleged to have been run by Arafat, who died in a hospital near Paris on November 11, indicated that Austrian interests had been involved.

The magazine said, from 1998 to the Palestinian uprising of 2000, the Austrian bank Bawag and a group called Casino Austria had financed a gambling casino much frequented by Israelis at Jericho on the West Bank. Bawag had later financed Arafat's private jet, a Challenger 604 worth $US23 million registered in Austria.

Format also alleged Arafat controlled $US800 million in bank accounts in Austria, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The speculation about the cause of Arafat's death has overshadowed the hunt for the money which he allegedly invested on behalf of the Palestinian people but about which he failed to make public.

According to Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat's nephew, medical records reveal that no poison was found but the cause of death is still unclear.

Posted by Debbye at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

Martin proposes new forum for talk

Nov. 22 - At the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit Martin made a pitch for his latest idea to reform the U.N. which would be to establish - wait for it - a new bureaucracy as a forum which could move more quickly on urgent matters.

France and Russia are among those who endorse the idea, which alone should raise eyebrows as it was they who blocked U.N. action to address repeated violations of the cease-fire which ended the '91 Iraq war and have been cited as having been among the chief beneficiaries of the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food program. Russia has delayed taking action in the Sudan, and Canada lacks credibility as they would contribute talk but no army with which this new council could implement decisions or, to be blunt, is unwilling to put her sons and daughters in any danger but would pressure the USA to do so.

If Canada wants to push for more active international peacekeeping forces she will have to be willing to provide a substantial increase in the troops she can field, and that isn't going to happen.

President Bush is skeptical of the notion and

... challenged Martin to prove his idea would be anything more than a forum of talking heads making speeches before the cameras.
Seems Bush's advisors have done a good job of prepping him for his visit to Canada as to how the government up here responds to issues.

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

Death in Fallujah

Nov. 22 - U.S. officials in Iraq believe they may have found the Kenneth Bigley death site in Fallujah:

Details of the house match videos Bigley appeared in during his captivity, including writing on the walls and being held in a chicken-wire cage.

The house also contained shackles and handcuffs.

Based on the evidence, "U.S. intelligence experts believe it is the house, but are not 100 percent sure," Arraf reported.

The Islamic militant group Unification and Jihad claimed to have kidnapped the men. It claims allegiance to terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al Qaeda.

The discovery of these houses (estimated to be as many as twenty) is almost too horrible to contemplate, and although their connection to Westerners who were held captive and beheaded is well-known what is overlooked is the number of Iraqis who were also caged and beheaded as well as the brutalization of the residents of Fallujah under the rule of the anti-Iraqi forces.

Some of these stories defy our current Western notions about the world, which may be why there is an attempt to romanticize those who held sway in Fallujah and to compare them to Minutemen, but that is naive at best and criminal at worst.

Iraqpundit lays it out squarely in the post Cunning, Resolute, and Tenacious?:

America's agenda-setting press has been quite impressed by the thugs who have been targeting, kidnapping, and murdering defenseless Iraqi civilians. A front-page headline out of Iraq in Friday's New York Times, for example, reads, "Showing Their Resolve, Rebels Mount Attacks in Northern and Central Iraq."

Got that? These murderers have been demonstrating "resolve." Indeed, throughout the battle of Fallujah and in the battles that have followed, American journalists have discovered many impressive attributes in these criminals. According to a week of major-press stories, the "insurgents" are a cunning and courageous band who have been putting up a tenacious struggle.

Here's an alternative headline the Times' staff might have considered: "Showing Their Resolve, Rebels Terrorize Families, Target Children, Disembowel Women, Behead the Elderly."

Iraqpundit cites this London Times as a "reality check" for those who claim to worry about innocent lives yet who would allow those "rebels" of Fallujah free rein to wreak their perverted "resolve" on the residents of Fallujah.

(Iraqpundit link via Instapundit)

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

Salim Mansur

Nov. 22 - Salim Mansur has another column in which his gift of restoring order to the tumult of individual news stories and thus providing a focus proves invaluable. In A scandal even bigger than (lack of) WMD he pulls together the threads in Dr. Mahdi Obeidi's book The Bomb in My Garden, the Duelfer Report, the Oil-for-Food scandal, Rwanda, the pre-war bickering in the U.N. Security Council and "inverse proportion of rage":

From the killing fields of Rwanda to the killing fields of Iraq, the UN was not an innocent bystander, and Kofi Annan, the man who runs it, has much to answer for.

The great irony in all of this is the inverse proportion of rage against America's liberation of Iraq by non-Iraqi Arabs and Muslims and the Michael Moore crowd in the West, to the rage of Iraqis, as Obeidi narrates, against those who kissed and danced with the devil incarnate in Baghdad.

Reflexive reverence for the U.N. and automatic dismissal of anything said by U.S. officials may be responsible for more deaths than otherwise humane people can stomach.

Posted by Debbye at 03:59 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2004

Linky Stuff

Nov. 20 - Sharing some good links:

There's a lot of interesting posts on the startling backlash in Holland to the murder of Theo Van Gogh starting with Jujitsui Generis: A Clash of Civilizations? (link via The Transplanted Texan.) It may well be that there's much more repressed resentment in Europe than we had thought. I don't know how accurate this analysis might be, but if Borders and Glenn Reynolds are right and far too many Dutch have lost faith in the ability of their government to handle this crisis then I worry about Europe in general. Peaktalk is not allaying my worries with his look at the response of the EU and Germans to Dutch proposals on limiting immigration.

Jay takes a hard look at the "mythology of multiculturalism:"

Toleration is not licence, nor is an invitation to relentlessly call for the destruction of the host culture. Muslims - and others - who do not realize this need to be reminded, initially by their own communities but, if they persist, through the criminal and immigration law.
As Jay points out, it's not only Muslims but "others" who have turned their right to expect tolerance upside down by being themselves intolerant. I believe we thought that we could teach by example, which is not an unrealistic belief, and that it seems to have failed in some cases doesn't mean it failed in all cases; perhaps making it clear that there is a responsibility for immigrants to be tolerant can enter the politically correct lexicon.

Steve is uncompromising in A Conservative Country is a Liberal Country That Got Mugged :

The Dutch, on the other hand, responded to a single murder by repudiating the leftist drivel they've been spewing proudly for decades. Holland is one of the most liberal countries on a liberal continent, but now they're putting and end to their touchy-feely, all-embracing, nuanced immigration policies.

Wonder why that is. Could it be because conservatives really believe in their values, while liberals only pretend to believe in theirs? In a word, YES. Everyone is a liberal when the living is easy. But when reality intrudes and bursts your soft utopian bubble, people turn conservative. Fast. Remember how New Yorkers adored President Bush for six months after 9/11? That's the state the Dutch are in right now.

He says a lot more, of course, so read it . And as one of the commenters pointed out, GWB made impressive gains in that historically Democrat-owned city in the last election. (Link via AlphaPatriot.)

Damian Penny is looking at two other incidents in Europe that are disquieting: the shooting death of an Orthodox Jew in Antwerp (Jerusalem Post article here)[Update Nov. 23: Belmont Club links to a JP article which says Belgium police have ruled out anti-Semitism as a motive in Moshe Na'eh's murder] and racist heckling of 2 British soccer players in Spain. From Spain, John goes into more detail including past and ongoing incidents of racism in Spain which seems to find an outlet at soccer games but notes that racism against blacks is something seemingly new. What the hell is going on over there?

The Diplomad carries the BBC story of 3 French fighters who were killed in Iraq ... and notes the spirit of Petain continues. [Nov. 26 More in-depth article in today's Washington Times, Decision to join Iraqi rebels fatal for French teens (two of them were 19 and the third was 20 years old.)]

Over here, Condoleeza Rice has been subjected to levels of racism (link via Kate at this Shotgun post) which I never believed would have been resurrected in in the USA - much less by liberals - and the latest insult has been to be called "Aunt Jemima" by a Milwaukee radio talk show host. The accusations that Bush's re-election would be accompanied by a resurgence of racism seems to be coming true, but the racism is coming from some of those who made that accusation.

He's got an explanation, but it is not just stupid but outrightly not believable. If he wanted to say that he finds her too subservient, why didn't he just say exactly that? One expects someone who is as a radio host to have a vocabulary, and whereas the tendency to disagree with something by hurling insults has become much too much a part of political discourse it is nonetheless disheartening to see how quickly racist epithets and stereotypes have leapt into mouths and on print.

If the Democrats don't disassociate themselves quickly from all this they will lose even more standing from independent members of the electorate.

Before someone says - however subtlely - that Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice aren't the "right kind" of African-American I'll warn them that I heard that kind of talk 40 years ago and regard it as racist now as then. To allow dignity to African-Americans only so long as they espouse the "correct" political line is racist. Period.

Things long over-due are happening: Annan faces a vote of no-confidence by UN staff, link via Alpha Patriot, who also reports that WaPo has finally dumped Ted Rall. [Update: There was indeed a vote of no-confidence in senior management at the UN, but a spokesperson says it wasn't directed at Annan but at the staff as a whole. The text of the U.N. staff resolution is here.]

Alpha Patriot also Deconstructs the CIA for those (like me) who need their memories refreshed about how the CIA moved from an "intelligence to an anti-intelligence footing." A lot to absorb in that post. Time to put Watergate in the same past to which Vietnam and Mogidushu have been relegated and get back to defending our country by and with whatever means are at our disposal.

And Iran; what indeed of Iran? Kateland has the excellent Question Period: Iran which needs to be read, answered and have an adequate response crafted.

The Diplomad has some constructive ideas for Dr. Rice as she takes on the denizens of Foggy Bottom here and here.

The media is still pushing the story of the US Marine who was filmed allegedly shooting a wounded man. Donald Sensing goes over the rules for treating the wounded (as well as rules regarding religious sites which are used by combatants) but the unfortunate fact is that the decision to booby-trap dead bodies and wounded anti-Iraq fighters in order to kill the Marines tending to them worked to alter the application of those rules.

Greyhawk has a great post on that subject Fish Gotta Swim ... (and has compiled an impressive list of Milblogs.)

PowerLine has some words on the subject in A Message from Baghdad from a reader:

I just got of the phone with my father in Baghdad. I asked him what is the reaction of the Marine killing the injured Iraqi in the Mosque in Felujah. His first words were "Good riddance."

People are not giving it a second thought. Any terrorist who attacks soldiers from Mosques has no sanctuary. Any terrorists who fake death to kill in a mosque deserve no mercy. He says Iraqis (including Sunnis) are fed up with the terrorists and want them eliminated.

There was much uproar about the brutal kidnapping killing of Mrs. Margaret Hassan. Iraqis are upset outraged and disgusted with her brutal abduction & killing. She helped us, helped the poor & needy and this what the terrorist do to her and her family.

That reality, of course, is what has been lost as the media thinks they've got another My Lai Abu Ghraib with which to batter the military - the cold-blooded murder of Margaret Hassan.

Her murder has sparked further concerns for those who would assist Iraqis: Aid agencies fearful for staff operating in Iraq. It goes without saying that far too many aid agencies are contemptuous of the very military which they expect will protect them ... and, of course, you can always count on sometone saying that her death is the fault of the USA. Why is it too hard to blame her death on those who killed her?

Dr. Funk has an ironic account of a CBC interview with someone claiming to be a friend of Margaret Hassan. Refer to question above.

Back to the question of how to deal with bombs masquerading as wounded fighters, there are Canadians who get it, such as Damian who states the reality pithily:

The difference any day right now between a live Marine and a dead Marine in Falluja might be a double-tap into a wounded rebel in a mosque.
So to any Marine, coalition or Iraqi soldier reading this are to hear this CFB: Your mission is to come home alive.

Gotta lighten up some. It's finals at the Greatest Canadian competition at the CBC, at Autonomous Source is entering the finals of The Most Annoying Canadian (vote on the main blog page.) Bruce is very annoyed with Carolyn Parrish for reasons no one else has mentioned and has the word on another contest: The Most Embarassing Canadian. (The biographies are hilarious.)

One very funny link (er, a link to more links, in truth) is Smokin' Good Posts with tips for Dr. Rice for her visits with dignitaries and advice for those lefties who are embarassing themselves with their public woebegone-melodramatics (and, yes, I am being disrespectful. They are in the depths of despair over a lost election but have another chance in '08 -- it really, really isn't the end of the world. We lost Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy so shut up already, m'kay?)

Shannon has word that a list of the 100 top movie quotes is being compiled so has made up her own list. Anyone can play ...

I've gone through the depressing, the funny and the fun, and now it's time for some things uplifting: Ghost of a Flea's Winston Review No. 20. (If you're new to the review, it is well worth the time to go through the archives and read the previous entries as well.)

Yesterday was Friday, which to many of us means a new Victor Davis Hanson column:

If someone wonders about the enormous task at hand in democratizing the Middle East, he could do no worse than ponder the last days of Yasser Arafat: the tawdry fight over his stolen millions; the charade of the First Lady of Palestine barking from a Paris salon; the unwillingness to disclose what really killed the "Tiger" of Ramallah; the gauche snub of obsequious Europeans hovering in the skies over Cairo, preening to pay homage to the late prince of peace; and, of course, the usual street theater of machine guns spraying the air and thousands of males crushing each other to touch the bier of the man who robbed them blind. Try bringing a constitution and open and fair elections to a mess like that.

But that is precisely what the United States was trying to do by removing the Taliban, putting Saddam Hussein on trial, and marginalizing Arafat. Such idealism has been caricatured with every type of slur — from both the radical Left and the paleo-Right, ranging from alleged Likud conspiracies and neo-con pipe dreams to secret pipeline deals and plans for a new American imperium in the Middle East shepherded in by the Bush dynasts. In fact, the effort not just to strike back after September 11, but to alter the very landscape in which our enemies operated was the only choice we had if we wished to end the cruise-missile/bomb-'em-for-a-day cycle of the past 20 years, the ultimate logic of which had led to the crater at the World Trade Center.

Oddly, our enemies understand the long-term strategic efforts of the United States far better than do our own dissidents. They know that oil is not under U.S. control but priced at all-time highs, and that America is not propping up despotism anymore, but is now the general foe of both theocracies and dictatorships — and the thorn in the side of "moderate" autocracies. An America that is a force for democratic change is a very dangerous foe indeed.

When he puts it that way, I guess we are crazy (and dangerous.)

Out for now ...

Nov. 22 - 05:52: A commenter points out that the attacks on Dr. Rice have been prompted by her political views. I believe that those who disagree with her views and actions should formulate their arguments on those grounds, but when her race is included as an attack point that is, by definition, racism.

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (2)

November 18, 2004

Debunking Walkom

Nov. 18 - Bob of Let It Bleed shreds Thomas Walkom and the notion that President Bush could/should be arrested and prosecuted for war crimes when he visits here in "It's an interesting question". The "h" word - hypocrite - is used well and often.

Posted by Debbye at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

Fox News coming to Canada

Nov. 18 - It's finally happened: Fox News coming to a Canadian digital channel near you.

Which, for me, will mean only that, on a daily basis, I have the option of watching the 6 a.m. news on Fox. The bigger picture is that it will certainly challenge the Canadian media who have under-reported things like the Oil-For-Food scandal and offer Canadians a different look at American attitudes and values than that offered by CNN.

I found this amusing:

Critics of Fox complained to the CRTC that Fox News Channel and its high-profile commentators are far too close to the Republicans and U.S. President George W. Bush to justify the slogan of delivering "fair and balanced news."
Uh huh. They never, of course, accused ABC, NBC, CBS or CNN of being too close to President Clinton.

The article says "as early as next year," so I need to call my cable company. Several times.

Posted by Debbye at 07:21 PM | Comments (9)

Twinkies and Anteaters II

Nov. 18 - The tiger who is accused of allegedly mauling a stripper has been named: Paka.

Yes, the proceedings have revealed much about the little known world of lap-dancers (Pay drop blamed on tiger attack.) I'm going to assume you'll read the post, but can't resist noting these intriguing, little-know aspects of the craft:

ALS lawyer Douglas Wright was cross-examining Cowles on what effect the apparel had on her earnings as a stripper.

He noted she notched her best payday --$500 a day -- three times after the attack.

"It was unpredictable," Cowles said of her fluctuating earnings from lap-dancing, saying the totals depended on other factors such as bar crowds and number of competing dancers and the number of private dances she performed.

She kept tallies of her earnings by marking numbers accompanying happy faces denoting profits and "frown faces" indicating losses. She had to pay up to $180 a day in disc jockey fees, cab fares and her bar tab. On some "slow days" she actually lost money as a freelancer. Cowles said she was so depressed that she drank heavily -- consuming between three and 10 double-shots of Southern Comfort and Coke and later vodka coolers -- each shift.

Please, do not become a nurse. Is it unfair to note that we already have more than enough health professionals who do not follow mundane instructions for things like sterlizing equipment?

And yes, she lowered the window to take pictures (my husband is grinning because that was his immediate guess after reading the article.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

See. Remember. Honour.

Nov. 18 - There is a picture to see and story to read: Generations Apart, Brothers Forever.

(Link via Ith.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:40 PM | Comments (1)

Parrish and the CBC join forces

Nov. 18 - The CBC and MP Carolyn Parrish have joined forces in what the Toronto Sun is calling Voodoo politics:

SHE'S DONE it again. Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish was filmed this week for the comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes stomping on a George W. Bush doll, just weeks before his first visit to Ottawa.

The TV clip -- the latest of her anti-American gestures -- ignited renewed calls for Prime Minister Paul Martin to oust Parrish from caucus.

Conservative House Leader John Reynolds called Parrish's TV appearance "sick."


What is sick is that my tax dollars go to pay for this display of a Canadian MP behaving like a child, but if that were grounds for expulsion from Parliament we'd be left with legislators who actually worked on crafting policies and passing laws.

It's tempting to find a doll of Caroly Parrish and stomp on it myself, but a) I don't have the time or inclincation and b) I don't think they make fat, ugly dolls with feet in their mouths.

The same issue of the Sun has a series of articles about the failing film industry in Toronto. Somebody is finally realizing the real effect of a high loony loonie.

18:15: PM Martin has thrown Parrish out of the Liberal Party caucus perhaps for reasons other than her boorishness towards Americans:

But the final straw for Martin came after Parrish took direct aim at his leadership in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Parrish, 58, had said that if Martin "loses the next election and he has to resign, I wouldn't shed a tear over it."

"I have absolutely no loyalty to this team - none," she said.

She said she lost respect for Martin when he refused to intervene to ensure a "clean race" for the Liberal nomination in her riding of Mississauga-Erindale.

Damn, I was already set to disagree with those who applauded her expulsion on strict freedom of speech grounds, but I actually agree with her criticisms and assessment of that miserable proceeding!
"I cannot, as leader of our party and the government caucus, tolerate behaviour that demeans and disrespects others," Martin said less than 24 hours after Parrish's attack.

"It is unacceptable."

Lighten up, Martin. Look to GWB for inspiration on how a real leader handles jeers from the peanut gallery.

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

Another warning for Sudan

Nov. 18 - Annan has issued the 'Strongest warning' yet to the government and rebels in Sudan and expressed disappointment that they had not adhered to a cease-fire agreement signed previously.

The U.N. has not really dealt with the ongoing murder and "relocations" in Sudan beyond admonitions to play nicely, but

The council is expected to adopt a resolution on Sudan Friday.

The council's draft resolution is holding out a carrot of development aid, including debt relief for all parties, once a north-south pact is sealed. But so far there is no sign of a stick other than U.S. sanctions.

There are divisions on the 15-member council. Russia, China, Pakistan and Algeria object to strong language in a draft declaration condemning the atrocities in Darfur.

Earlier, the four abstained on a council resolution threatening an oil embargo if the Sudanese government failed to rein in the militias and hold them accountable for human rights atrocities.

In September, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell -- who has called the violence in Darfur a genocide -- accused the four countries of valuing business with Sudan over humanitarian concerns.

China's protective attitude toward the Sudan government may be due to the fact that they are the largest purchaser of oil from Sudan and have contracts for exploration and development in that country.

The U.N. is caught again in an ongoing atrocity of a member state, and
I doubt I'm the only person to point out that there haven't been massive demonstrations in front of Sudan embassies or the U.N. Although it's only been 10 years since the genocide in Rwanda and less than a year since dignitaries attended solemn commemoration ceremonies there and intoned "Never Again," the international community merely watches as it happens again.

Posted by Debbye at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Australia renews pledge to fight terrorism

Nov. 18 - From Nov. 16, a reminder that the valiant Australians are leading the fight on terror in the Pacific (Canberra vow to boost terror fight) and forging an impressive coalition with her nieghbours.

In a speech delivered at the opening of the 41st Australian parliament, their firm committment to fight terrorism was re-affirmed and some new steps announced:

[Governor General Michael] Jeffery said the government intended to keep a controversial election promise to create six Australian police "flying squads" for quick deployment across borders to "disrupt terrorist networks."

Canberra also will create a counterterrorism and intelligence training school for Southeast Asian and Pacific countries.

"The Australian government places high priority on strengthening cooperation with our regional neighbors and offering assistance in capacity building in the fight against terrorism," Jeffrey said.

There is much too little in the news media about Australian leadership in the war on terror, but I for one feel heartened to have these doughty warriors as good friends and allies.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

Nights are days and days are nights

Nov. 18 - Sorry for the light posting. Sometimes the lack of sleep makes it impossible to put thoughts and words together in a coherent fashion, and other times I have sufficient sleep but that translates to having barely enough time to get ready for and travel to work.

I'm not sure I'll ever get this night work thing down pat (although the hours should lighten after New Year's.) There's a fair amount of perpetual confusion in going to work one day, coming home the next, and returning the same day. It's hard to separate one day from another. I'm comfortable with an operational standard of "it's not tomorrow until I wake up" but the newspapers and television don't share my views so I'm always feeling behind.

The worse part is Friday, which is not my Friday until I get home Saturday morning. The second worse part is that Monday is still Monday even if it doesn't actually start until late in the evening.

Sleeping during the day isn't so bad on one like this day, which was overcast and comfortably cool. (Apologies to Torontonians for wishing for non-sunny days!)

Mark Steyn is on hiatus, darn it. Oh sure, he's earned it, but I miss his pith.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004

No posting alert

Nov. 15 - I have to prepare for a meeting so won't be posting today (unless something absolutely phenomenal happens.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:57 AM | Comments (3)

November 13, 2004

Twinkies and Anteaters

Nov. 13 - NDP party leader Jack Layton wants to outlaw twinkies. Seems they have too many transfats.

Food nazi.

And tied for you couldn't make it up is the exotic dancer from Hamilton who is suing African Lion Safari after her then-boyfriend, David Balac, and she were injured after being attacked by tigers during a visit to the park because it's clearly the park's fault they let the couple in she rolled down the window.

It seems she had dreams:

The disfiguring injuries and psychological toll the tigers' mauling exacted on her cost her dream of becoming a grand-a-day headliner, [Jennifer-Anne] Cowles said.


Cowles said she hoped to exploit her natural "assets" -- long hair, large breasts and slim torso -- to become a $1,000-a-day exotic dancer. Ultimately, Cowles wished to become a nurse.

And to work for world peace.
But the scarring injuries to her head and hip forced her to wear bandannas, hats and a skirt. Her colleagues mocked and tormented her and tried to turn patrons, who were used to naked dancers, against her, she said.

Her earnings plummeted and she was forced to work as a waitress and temporarily leave her children with relatives while she recovered.

Bummer: from exotic dancer to waitress.
She had to abort the baby because the pain-killers she needed would have damaged the fetus. However, she had earlier decided she wasn't going to have the baby.

She also suffered panic, anxiety attacks and depression.

I almost wish I could feel sorry for her, but had she also lost her ability to procreate I'd be submitting this for a Darwin Award faster than you could say Tony the Tiger.

But really, why I am being a hard-hearted bitch? Maybe due to the ubiquitous millions-of-dollars lawsuits (you knew there just had to be a lawsuit, right?) which will make everything all better:

She is suing the popular Rockton game park for $2.2 million in damages resulting from the April 19, 1996 incident. Balac is seeking $1 million.

Balac is also suing Cowles, accusing her of opening the window, and she's suing him, charging that he was driving a car that wasn't working properly.

Are you following this? He took her to the theme park, she opened the window, they are both suing the theme park owners as well as one another. (The article doesn't say in what manner she alleges the car didn't work properly, unless it's that the car should have refused to enter the park with a fool in the passenger seat.)

Remember the Monty Python skit "Vocational Guidance Counsellor"? People need to do some reserach, you know? Like the hidden meaning of signs which say "Keep All Windows and Doors Closed Because Big Predatory Animals Will Attack and You Could Die."

And speaking of stuff that comes back to bite you, Ottawa Sun columnist Douglas Fisher is warning that Disdain for Bush is hurting our economic future:

The majoritarian contempt among Canadians for Bush -- for what we take as his strident patriotism, his often ignorant unawareness or thoughtless discounting of other democracies' views and qualities -- is tangible and widespread.

Awareness of this contempt seems to be increasing among Americans, particularly the politicians in Washington. Such recognition was not what led to the problems with our softwood lumber and beef exports to the U.S., but surely it's been a factor.

Over time, we cannot escape paying a high price for it with lower, less remunerative trade, including tourism, when we openly radiate a national hostility, largely founded on a Canadian morality we take as superior to that intrinsic in American mores.

This superiority centres on our distaste for the character, style, religiosity, and governance of the American president. Our attitude has become cumulative as he and his views loom larger and larger in international affairs.

Well, what Bush symbolizes is real and he has it for the next four years. We, however, have a government that faces problems of survival, given its minority status in the House of Commons.

John Kerry's defeat means Prime Minister Paul Martin has been denied the interlude in which the executive team changes in Washington.

Translation into American: Whoops. Kerry lost. Do we have a Plan "B?"

Heh. 60.480 million Americans thus far voted for Bush, and they're still counting ballots ...

Posted by Debbye at 04:00 PM | Comments (12)

Forget MoveOn, just move!

Nov. 13 - I guess the good news is that Canada is only one of many potential destinations offered by the public-minded folks at Help Them Leave.

The bad news is that, like many children, they often threaten to run away from home but never actually do so.

(Link from Ace of Spades HQ: The Ultimate Buhhh-bye.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2004

Arafat's Legacy

Nov. 13 - There seems to be a lot of activity (and optimism) about renewed efforts to establish a democratic Palestinian state that would co-exist peacefully beside Israel. U.S. Sec. of State Colin Powell is busily setting up meetings. (I suspect that, whatever the veracity of the rumours about his impending resignation, Powell will stay around to see this one through.) [Update: I'm wrong on that last one; see below.]

The U.S. mainstream media has underscored that "Arafat died without realizing his dream of a Palestinian state," but unless the Arab media has also laid grounds for hope that peaceful co-existence can be realized, I'm not as optimistic as President Bush and PM Tony Blair seem to be (report of their meeting here.) (But I also believe in the motto "Never Quit.")

It's interesting that former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has been named as PLO chairman following Arafat's demise. The power struggle between Arafat and Abbas when he was Prime Minister (was it only last year?) underscored how much power was concentrated in Arafat's hands, so it will perhaps be an indicator of how justified the optimism is when we see to what extent he and Qureia (who has been running the Palestinian Authority during Arafat's incapacitation) can prove themselves capable of co-operating with one another or if, as is feared, a power struggle will consume this opportunity for peace.

The Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade (newly renamed the Arafat Martyr Brigade) will also be interesting to watch; to whom will they be loyal? Or will they prove capable of growing beyond their personality-cult origins and be loyal to the notion of a Palestinian state? Hamas and Hezbollah are unlikely to be placated by the prospects of peaceful co-existence and a democratic Palestinian state, but their sponsors Syria and Iran will have to make some hard choices as to whether they want to appear to be obstructionists to a peaceful settlement. I'd guess there will be a split decision: Syria will at least say all the right things, and Iran will denounce any peace accord. (What they actually do may prove to be something else entirely.)

Next question: where's the money? Even CNN finally picked up on this one:

Meanwhile, officials in the Palestinian Authority are searching for millions of dollars believed hidden away by the Palestinian leader. Last week, as Arafat lay in his death bed, Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad held a teleconference with donors spelling out massive budget problems. He said the authority had only $19 million to meet payroll expenses of $225 million by the end of this year alone.
Millions of dollars are an estimate on the low side. The EU had suspended payments until an audit was performed then relented in order to pay security personnel. (The audit was a partial one as there were many holes in the accounts.)

The assumption has been that Arafat's widow, Suha, knew where the money was, and (unspecified sources alert) she will reportedly get a hefty settlement from the Palestinian Authority:

The 41-year-old wife of Arafat had been demanding half his billions in hidden assets and threatening to withhold details about where to find them from the new Palestinian leadership, according to newspapers in Italy and Israel.

After intense negotiations, she agreed to a deal with Arafat's successor as PLO chief, Mahmoud Abbas, when he visited Arafat's hospital.

According to one account in Corriere de la Serra, Suha will receive $22 million a year from the Palestinian Authority budget.

Another account, cited by the newspapers Maariv and La Repubblica, Suha will receive:

* A one-time payment of $20 million.

* A stipend of $35,000 a month for life.

* More than $10 million that was discovered last year by French authorities investigating money laundering.

French sources said yesterday that earlier this week, Suha turned down a $2 million offer. That settlement would have allowed doctors to complete medical tests to determine what illness proved fatal to the 75-year-old Palestinian leader.

Paul posted some choice Images of the Day which may be work safe but are definitely not snark safe.

9:50: Damian isn't optimistic either.

Nov. 15 - 10:30: Colin Powell has submitted his resignation.

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 AM | Comments (3)

November 11, 2004

Today BBC, tomorrow CBC

Nov. 11 - It's a tossup if I more resent my tax dollars going to political parties like the NDP and Bloc Quebecois or to support the CBC, so I am thrilled on behalf of British taxpayers that they might get a break (Half of BBC staff face the axe (um, that's a figurative axe, right?):

The BBC is planning to axe as many as 50 per cent of jobs across the board, insiders revealed today.

A raft of cuts is being designed to prove the BBC is giving value for money before a review of its 10-year royal charter in 2006.

High-ranking sources say earlier rumours of 6,000 losses from 28,000 staff may turn out to be a wild underestimate.

I can dream, can't I?

(Link via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:54 AM | Comments (3)

Ivory Coast update

Nov. 11 - Things aren't going too well in Ivory Coast: Foreigners Evacuated From Ivory Coast but there will be talks:

The mayhem, checked only intermittently by Gbagbo's government, has been unanimously condemned publicly by Gbagbo's fellow African leaders and drawn moves toward U.N. sanctions. It threatens lasting harm to the economy and stability of Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer and once West Africa's most peaceful and prosperous nation.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said that President Thabo Mbeki (search) would open the talks Thursday in Pretoria.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said Ivorian rebel and opposition leaders, including former prime minister Alassane Outtara, will arrive in Pretoria on Thursday for the talks.

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said a resolution to the crisis was critical.

"A full scale war in Ivory Coast could affect a lot of other countries in the region," she told a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs in Cape Town. "We need to contain it in Ivory Coast and bring it under control, or it could turn into a regional problem."

The violence began Saturday when Ivory Coast warplanes killed nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker in an airstrike on the rebel-held north in three days of government air attacks that violated a more than year-old cease-fire in the country's civil war.

France wiped out the nation's newly built-up air force on the tarmac within hours. The retaliation sparked a violent uprising by loyalist youths who took to the streets waving machetes, iron bars and clubs.

Including the airstrike, the turmoil since Saturday has claimed at least 27 lives and wounded more than 900. The toll, likely incomplete, includes the 10 victims of the airstrikes, five loyalists whose bodies were shown on state TV, and 11 loyalists and one Ivorian security force member received Monday and Tuesday by hospitals. Ivory Coast presidential spokesman Alain Toussaint said 37 loyalists had died.

I'm not being flippant about the situation, because this does indeed impact on Ivory Coast's neighbours, but the failure to actually resolve the situation has kept that region simmering for the past three years and unresolved conflict tends to harden lines rather than soften them.
At the United Nations, France revised a U.N. Security Council resolution Wednesday to give Ivory Coast more time to resurrect a peace process with northern rebels or face an arms embargo and other sanctions, diplomats said.

The decision to push back the deadline from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10 was made at the request of the United States, which thought Ivory Coast's government and the rebels needed more breathing room to return to the peace process, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

The "condition of anonymity" part translates to "grain of salt" but I would suspect that talks would be useless until there is a willingness by both side to actually work at sharing power, and Pres. Gbagbo has a poor record on that score.

Nov. 18 - 19:45: Pres. Gbagbo says they are not at war with France and appealed to the USA:

The Ivorian leader also appealed to the world's superpower to intervene on his government's behalf -- helping him with France, and with disarmament of rebels holding Ivory Coast's north.

"Americans have a good role of mediation to play ... since the French conducted themselves the way they did," he said.

"Americans can serve as a unifying force and Americans can bring pressure to bear so that disarmament takes place."

I trust the US government won't take the bait. The minute we go in it will be called a quagmire.

Despite the arms embargo the U.N. imposed Nov. 15, Gbagbo plans to rebuild his air force and the rebels have vowed to fight on.

Posted by Debbye at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

The legacy of Arafat

Nov. 11 - The news is all about Yassar Arafat and the departure of the helicopter carrying his remains, but I find this more indicative of Arafat's legacy: Troops find captive chained to wall in Iraq.

11:15: Australian PM Howard's candour is refreshing: "History will judge [Araftat] very harshly for not having seized the opportunity in the year 2000 to embrace the offer that was very courageously made by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barack, which involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 per cent of what the Palestinians had wanted." (link via Daimnation.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Remembrance Day and Veterans Day

Nov. 11 - In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent and World War I ended. That day became known as Armistice Day.

On Nov. 11, 1921, The Unknown Soldier was laid to rest at Arlington and President Warren Harding asked that, at the eleventh hour and on that day, all Americans observe "a period of silent thanks to God" for the valor of those who fought in that war. In 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in recognition of all men and women who served their country.

That same day and hour is marked in Canada as Remembrance Day. The poem In Flander's Field by Canadian Lt-Col. John McCrae (background and text here) is recited in schools and at cenotaphs, and, as the words of the poem suggests, it is a day dedicated to remembering those who died in the cause of freedom.

But today I'm more mindful of those veterans who survived their wars: those who, without fuss, caught that torch from the failing hands of the ghostly narrator and indeed held it highly - and then returned to their civilian lives.

I think it's because we are at war, and today we are engaged in action in Fallujah and it is vital that we believe that our warriors - Iraqi and American - prevail and return to their familes. Our enduring optimism is our biggest strength, and today it is one to which we must adhere and embrace. We give reverent thanks to both the dead and the living, and to that inner prompting that leads men and women to dedicate their lives in the service of their country.

Back to speechifying (never absent on national occasions!) The Gettysburg Address is more to my taste because it views the legacy of the dead as a stern injunction to the living:

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract... 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, as Robert Heinlein would have put it, Tanstaafl: there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

But the Muse of Serendipity provided the right classic for this day, as on a completely unrelated topic I was reminded of Shakespeare's Henry V and the inspiring St. Crispian's Day Speech:

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors.
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forget,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
May all our warriors return safely, and may a nation never forget or be indifferent to the mighty deeds of our fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

10:45: CBC celebrates Remembrance Day in its own special way with this article: Solve problems without war: veterans.

George Orwell had a harsh view of pacifists.

Posted by Debbye at 08:49 AM | Comments (2)

November 10, 2004

From the ground in Iraq

Nov. 10 - Mudville Gazette is back up and even though Greyhawk says The Forecast calls for Fog (of War) he cuts through some of that fog decisively with reports on the kind of "insurgent" attacks on Iraqi civilians that go unreported in our own news media and scores a direct hit on Kofi Annan's interference and posturing (with more on that here, including a report from the NY Times that the registration of voters in Iraq is ahead of schedule. Take that, Kofi.)

Fox reports that 70% of Fallujah is under control, and the discovery of a hostage slaughterhouse in combination with the abduction of two members of President Allawi's family and Greyhawks report should suffice to remind us (and Annan) that taking Fallujah and tracking down those who escaped will do more to protect innocent Iraqis than Kofi's pious sentiments.

Tomorrow is Veterans down south of the border and Remembrance Day up here. Is it so much to ask that at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that people stand at attention and pay honour to the millions of brave men and women who made the struggle for freedom their personal responsibilities? I don't think so.

Nov. 11 - Timbre reminded me that Nov. 10 is the 229th birthday of the US Marine Corp. Semper fi!

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 PM | Comments (1)

November 09, 2004

Fallujah Update (and bumped)

Nov. 9 - From David Frum:

For days before the U.S. election, Marines and Iraqi troops massed around the city of Fallujah. As the voters arrived at the booths, they knew that their ballots would determine the whole future course of the war in Iraq. With everything at stake, they cast those ballots for George Bush.

Now the battle has begun. What is to come we cannot know. But we can know this: Fully aware of the stakes, American voters massively rejected the candidate who promised to put an end to battles like Fallujah--and massively voted in the candidate who pledged to do whatever was necessary to win these battles.

It is a hard thing to read of casualties and know them to have been in obedience to our wishes. We owe it to them to stay the course and give meaning to their sacrifice. Godspeed to our troops and Allah bless their Iraqi comrades.

For analysis and insights read Belmont Club (read this, this and this sheesh he's fast and, this latest.)

The contributors at The Command Post comb the internet and get information online faster than CNN. Go to their Iraq page and check back often for updates on Fallujah as well as the rest of Iraq.

I just can't take any more of CNN. Is it just me, or is it as plain as daylight that for the Iraqi army to work with us to take Fallujah is in many significant ways more important for them than for us? CNN's main talking point continues to be that having the Iraqi army fight is part of our exit strategy, which overlooks the rather obvious fact that the Iraqi army is taking responsibility for the future stability of Iraq on behalf of and for the Iraqi people and, if you will, this is a major part of their entrance strategy as a sovereign nation.

Is it me, or are the people at CNN racists? They simply refuse to give the Iraqis the respect they have so completely earned.

I really hate don't like CNN.

12:36: Instapundit recommends this war coverage media viewing guide. (What liberal media?)

Murdoc recommends The Fourth Rail, and rightly so. (Murdoc is always right.) I recommend Murdoc's post here (I'm a sucker for aerial shots.)

Chester is doing live-blogging over there, and ACE is reading between the lines of the news and profiles the new Pumpkin-Hurler, but I haven't been able to get Greyhawk since last night.

15:05: Spot on from Lileks:

This is one of the big battles of the Iraq campaign; this is where the loop that began in Somalia is closed and welded shut.
Remember those who serve in our names.

Posted by Debbye at 03:05 PM | Comments (3)

Last words

Nov. 9 - Word is that Arafat hasn't revealed where he stashed the money yet technically is still alive (Arafat 'suffers brain hemorrhage' -- and what's with the death quotes? Is CNN parodizing themselves?)

I'm serious about the money, by the way. I have this vision of Chirac, Arafat's wife Suha, and a plethora of Palestinian leaders hovering over the bed hoping to hear the bank account locations and numbers. Art becomes reality (with apologies to Jimmy Durante.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

RNC response to prospect of Dean as DNC Chair

Nov. 9 - Following the announcement that Howard Dean may seek the chairmanship of the DNC, the Republicans were quick to respond. Ace has the letter here. (Work safe, but not liquid.) [Note: you may have to scroll down past the empty white section to get to the post. It's worth it.]

Posted by Debbye at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

Farenheit 911 labeled a documentary

Nov. 9 - I know you've been waiting breathlessly for this: 'Passion,' 'Fahrenheit' hit Globe snags (the awards, not the planet.)

"Fahrenheit" (Lions Gate/IFC/Fellowship Adventure Group) will not be eligible in any Globes categories because it is a documentary. The rules of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which administers the Globes, state that docus are ineligible for consideration in the top film award categories; there is not a separate documentary category.
Calling Farenheit 911 a documentary is like expecting a cat named Einstein to understand relativity. Just because you call him that don't make him a great theorist.

They duck the second bullet too:

"Passion" (Newmarket) cannot compete for best drama because it is considered a foreign-language film. The HFPA considers any feature with a non-English dialogue track to be a foreign film. The organization's rules reserve the best picture awards for movies in English.

"Passion," in which much of the dialogue is spoken in Aramaic, can be considered for best foreign film and under the rules can compete in all other categories.

Well, Mel Gibson is rumoured to be an Australian ...

Posted by Debbye at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian-American group to study bi-lateral maritime defense

Nov. 9 - A Canadian-American planning group is studying the feasibility of establishing a 'Maritime NORAD'. A report is due to be released soon, and any implementation of those recommendations for the project would have to be approved by both Canada and the USA.

A great deal of informal co-operation has already taken place since Sept. 11 but this a project to formalize that co-operation:

The binational planning group was formed in December 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. Morrell said the group is independent of both NORAD and U.S. Northern Command and comes under the command of Canadian Forces Lt. Gen. Rick Findley and his American deputy, Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge.

The concept of a "maritime NORAD" has a large group of endorsers, who envision an automated, oceanwide, vessel-monitoring surveillance network.

The study group has a great deal of support in the US and in Canada:
... The September issue of Canadian American Strategic Review calls a maritime NORAD "a logical next step" in increasing intelligence and surveillance data sharing between the two countries' maritime-security forces.

Author Philippe Lagasse called the concept "a win-win opportunity," noting that the United States' providing Canada with access to U.S. satellite and radar data increase continental maritime security while saving Canada the cost of building its own comparable capabilities.

The means by which we could prevent an attack by sea is one area that remains largely unaddressed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq

Nov. 9 - Many good features in this Arthur Chrenkoff article, including a look at how the flourishing Iraqi news media is reporting on and encouraging participation in the upcoming elections, procedures for registering voters for the January 27 elections, and a poll on how the Iraqis view the terrorism and "insurgents."

Who could have envisioned such events only four short years ago?

I think it proper to reflect that Iraqis and Americans alike know fully for what their and our brave men and women are fighting in Fallujah.

Posted by Debbye at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2004

Annan speaks

Nov. 8 - It just wouldn't be right to end the weekend without noting the latest nonsense thoughtful pronouncement uttered by the U.N.'s Secretary-General: Annan Warns Assault May Affect Vote:

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) warned U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq that new military campaigns in Fallujah and other insurgent strongholds could jeopardize upcoming elections, according to a letter obtained Friday.

In the letter dated Oct. 31, Annan told American, British and Iraqi leaders that the United Nations wants to help prepare for the elections, scheduled for the end of January, but fears a rise in violence could disrupt the process.

"I have in mind not only the risk of increased insurgent violence, but also reports of major military offensives being planned by the multinational force in key localities such as Fallujah," Annan wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

What-freaking-ever, Kofi. Some people would think that securing Fallujah would, you know, lead to a more stable Iraq (unless you support the "insurgents," in which case you would naturally be disturbed that they are being removed.)

But I am also aware that Def. Sec. Rumsfeld was correct in pointing out that, although it's not the best scenario, elections could be held without the participation of Fallujah and other spots that remain "insurgent" hotbeds. Somehow, I suspect Kofi doesn't like that option either, though.

Is it possible that Kofi is against elections whatever the scenario? Couldn't be, could it? Surely he's not among those dictators and tyrants that fear the spread of democracy to the Middle East, is he?

Like many over here, I'm following the news from Fallujah and other hot-spots but unlike Kofi, I'm rooting for victory rather than the kind of stability (read stalemate) the U.N. promotes in Kosovo and Ivory Coast.

Pray for those who serve, and remember how much we owe them. Semper fi!

Posted by Debbye at 01:05 AM | Comments (5)

November 07, 2004

I think I get it ...

Nov. 7 - In response to Bob's post I Don't Get It, I'm sorry to say that I do, which is another way of saying Bob is absolutely right. We live in a country where we are free to express our opinions, and as someone who detests the lack of democracy within the political parties up here and who wondered how the promise to correct the democratic deficit (which was a feature of the Martin campaign) was to be achieved, I must say I don't approve of the sudden crackdown on Parrish.

My explanation for Martin's sudden concern is that it was prompted by the Suck-Up Factor, i.e., let's pretend we are really, really happy about Bush's re-election to the presidency. (I would have been more impressed had he stated his disapproval before the election, admittedly, but still critical that he was denying her the freedom to speak her mind.)

Evidently the PM thinks that we are as dumb as Parrish believes us to be if he expects us to fall for that old trick.

If Martin knew the first thing about Americans, he would realize that although we may not like what Parrish says, we defend her right to say it.

Posted by Debbye at 11:46 PM | Comments (2)

Bashing with Bloggers

Nov. 7 - I've been trying to find some intelligent comments I could make on the blogger bash in Toronto last Friday night, and all I can come up with is awe that so many of them are so wonderfully exuberant (and young!)

Yes, I know that sounds incredibly superficial. Yet given the plethora of media reports about how young American idealists were supposed to rock the vote and follow the Boss to the polls, I think it significant that so many 20 and 30 somethings up here are openly espousing the Western ideals of individualism and independent thinking that is probably the greatest achievement of this civilisation that we love to criticize and defend.

Michael of Canadian Headhunter had described last spring's meeting with guest of honour Damian Penny as like watching Mystery Men, i.e., ordinary people engaged in battling super villains without superhero skills. That description has grown on me because most bloggers are indeed Everymen who have chosen to break from bobble-head acquiescence of mainstream media punditry and tried to apply common sense to political observations.

The sour comments by Dan Rather about bloggers presumably organizing a call for John Kerry to concede missed the entire point about bloggers: no one tells us what to write. Yes, we do read and link to one another, but only if we want to. Unlike Mr. Rather, we don't rush to publish something that doesn't pass our individual litmus tests for truth.

The blogosphere has given new life to those who feel disenfranchised by mainstream media, and whenever a blogger says maybe it's just me you can bet your bottom dollar that it isn't.

Flea has a post on the meet and lists some of the attendees including their urls and Nicholas of Quotulatiousness has a more extensive post and (ohmigosh) pictures!

As always, if you wait long enough someone else will write something coherent and the rest of us can just link to it ... but it will never be redundant to say how wonderful it was to meet finally meet the people behind the blogs.

Posted by Debbye at 10:54 PM | Comments (3)

Canada and Holland

Nov. 7 - The murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland was somewhat eclipsed by the US presidential campaign and downplayed by most of the MSM but I realised I wasn't overreacting when 8 others were held in his murder. But the same question dominates which was asked after the Madrid train bombings: what conclusions will the Dutch and Europeans draw from this latest murder? (I'm not suggesting that there are any conclusions to be drawn yet, only that this latest killing will have an effect.)

In case you haven't been reading Peaktalk, his coverage of the Theo van Gogh murder has been outstanding. His post A War of Courage highlights the essence of this struggle for Muslims:

It requires guts to line up for a police job in Baghdad and you equally have to be willing to risk your life to walk into an Amsterdam mosque and explain the principles of freedom of expression. Without these courageous Muslims this war can never ever be won. Let’s help them, let’s enlist them, they are the most important ingredient in this struggle for freedom and democracy.
Bang on!

Pieter has a great many posts of the murder of Theo van Gogh from when it was first reported here to an examination of the existence of a Fifth Column here, the reaction of Ayaan Hirsi Ali here, a less than optimistic outlook for Holland here, a translation of the letter pinned to van Gogh here, a more hopeful outlook here, a re-assertion of political correctness in Holland here followed by a re-assertion of Dutch pride here to the most optimistic post I first cited. Read them all, especially as there is a direct correlation of some events in Canada as the public here tries to digest what has happened, tries to make sense of it, and might recognize an implicit threat and hope.

11:59: This post at Belmont Club points to the way political correctness still constrains a meaningful response to the crisis. I would have run additional showings of the movie Submission and commissioned many more murals as my response to attacks on freedom of speech. When possible responses are assertion or appeasement one would like to think the answer was obvious.

There had been an undercurrent of speculation in Canada over the possibility of a Fifth column here which peaked when the notorious Khadrs (We-are-a-terrorist-family) returned to obtain medical treatment for the youngest (who had been wounded, captured and released by US forces) but three recent events (which also were eclipsed by the US elections) occurred which should have re-introduced discussions about the need to find some tangible means of encouraging tolerance in Canada which do not unintentionally breed intolerance.

On October 8, the Toronto Star carried a report that a Canadian had been killed by the Russians in Chechnya. After the usual expressions of disbelief and doubt as to the accuracy of the Russian claims came a report about the leader of the mosque attended by the dead Canadian, Sheik Younus Kathrada, on which Jay Currie reported here and then on October 19 Dr. Mohamad Elmasry, leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress, was a guest on Michael Coren's TV show and said that all Israelis - including seniors and babies - were fair targets for Palestinian terrorists.

Colby Cosh has a column with the National Post that points out the good news and the bad news. The good news is that as early as August, 2002, 20 B.C. Muslims had published an open letter which called upon Kathadra "to recant his teachings and apologize for them" but the bad news is that he didn't feel compelled to re-examine his views in this multicultural, diverse and tolerant country.

It is becoming more usual to read posts that sarcastically ask where the moderate Muslims are when a Nick Berg is beheaded or the head of CARE is kidnapped in Baghdad, and the fact that letters as the one Colby cites are not reported in the mainstream media does more a disservice to Muslims than would an exposure of a debate which may be quietly taking place within Muslim communities.

Dutch Muslims are responding to van Gogh's murder by recognizing they have a problem and if they don't provide strong leadership now the problem will only worsen.

Back in Canada, three forceful body blows struck the Canadian myth of super-tolerance, and much of the Canadian media responded by (what else?) lamenting the stupidity of the American voter. Do not expect strong leadership here so long as the public's attention can be diverted from issues which actually do impact on the average Canadian (and yet they call us stupid? It boggles the mind.)

Nov. 8 20:30: Some Dutch citizens have taken matters into their own hands, I'm sorry to report. An elementary school, for heaven's sake?

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

November 06, 2004

The Second Axis of Weasels

Nov. 6 - EU 'triple axis' gangs up on Blair:

France, Spain and Germany launched a "triple axis" yesterday aimed at taking charge of EU foreign policy and limiting Tony Blair's influence in Europe.

Jacques Chirac, the French president and a harsh critic of the war in Iraq, brushed aside appeals for better transatlantic ties after George W Bush's re-election triumph and instead called for a stronger EU to confront Washington.

Posted by Debbye at 04:10 PM | Comments (8)

Ivory Coast update

Nov. 6 - Eight French soldiers peacekeepers and one American were killed and 23 were wounded in an air strike by government forces in Ivory Coast. The the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting to form a response to the crisis and the French and American ambassadors are drafting a letter warning of "serious consequences" if the rebels don't cease hostilities.

The French have responded by bombing government planes at the airport, sending three more Mirage jets, and deploying two more military companies to augment their forces.

The French had tried to impose a coalition government with representatives from both the rebels and government in April of 2003 but it collapsed before it began. There are currently 4,000 French and 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast and the threat of renewed government attacks on rebel positions highlights the eternal contradiction of U.N. missions: peacekeeping is irrelevant until the peacemakers complete their task.

(If you're expecting me to go all snarky on the French on the occasion of their fallen soldiers, don't. Men and women who enlist to serve their country deserve respect, and whatever I may think of the French government, I am beginning to wonder how much their mainstream media misleads and misrepresents the French people.)

Nov. 7 23:50 France is beginning to evacuate civilians trapped at the Abidjan Airport in Ivory Coast and advises the rest to stay indoors. The death toll of French troops now stands at 9.

Posted by Debbye at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)

Additions to blogroll

Nov. 7 - One of the great things about blogger bashes is learning about newish Canadian blogs to add to the roll:

The Tiger in Winter
Babbling Brooks
Free Advice
Political Staples
Radio Weisblogg
Brock on the Attack (who I thought I had already put on)
David Artemiw (who I knew I put on before - maybe these last two were lost when everything crashed as.per.usual whenever I added to the blogroll on blogger?)

Long-time astute commenter Keith has finally opened his own blog: Minority of One!

And two more milblogs: The Green Side and
The Adventures of Chester.

I'd say the fact that I can't keep up is a good thing in a healthy blogosphere, hmm?

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

Bush 286, Kerry 252

Nov. 6 - The final Electoral College tally is Bush 286, Kerry 252 and there is a terrific county-by-county map at the lgf link.

(Via RightOn!.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Canadians rally 'round the flag

Nov. 6 - The fury continues at the refusal by Bloc Quebecois MP Andre Bellavance to hand out 3 Canadian flags for Remembrance Day ceremonies.

This recent flag controversy is the latest in a lengthy list of flag flaps, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the surge of outrage at Andre Bellavance's boorishness. The fact that MPs who represent the separatist Bloc don't mind collecting their Canadian taxpayer funded paycheques, pensions and election campaign funding has been an irritant for a long time, but that's the price one pays for appeasement policies, right?

But the Canadian public has become more honourong of their military (and more concerned about its dilapidated state) these days and Remembrance Day ceremonies have been well attended since Sept. 11, 2001.

The MP from Quebec hit two Canadian nerves: irritation at Quebec's special status and dishonouring good men who died for this country.

Sean's letter to MP Bellavance could easily be signed by millions of Canadians, and his story about a vet's refusal to provide CPR to the same MP is a must read (as is the disclaimer at the bottom of the post!)

Nov. 10 - 7:30: Cyrus doesn't pull any punches.

Posted by Debbye at 02:11 PM | Comments (2)

Unionizing ministers

Nov. 6 - United Church of Canada ministers want to unionize under the Canadian Auto Workers.

The group of clergy cite abuse from parishioners, low wages and a lack of security for their interest in unionizing.

"Our congregations and presbyteries are served by volunteers who are usually well-intentioned people, but they are not skilled in human resources or versed in labour law," said Karen Paton-Evans, wife of Rev. Jim Evans. "Our clergy need representation by people who are trained in employment rights."


The United Church, Canada's largest Protestant denomination, has 4,000 pastors and more than 3,600 congregations. In the 2001 national census, three million Canadians identified their religion as United Church.

A United Church minister's pay begins at $30,000, plus housing. Low pay has been cited as one reason why the United Church has had difficulty filling empty pulpits. But security issues seem to be of bigger concern.

Nov. 13 - 17:42: Not everyone thinks it is a good idea, but it seems to be going ahead. From The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix:
However, the church's general secretary said Friday that unionization is not a "good fit" for the clergy.

"They are not a good fit for United Church clergy," Rev. Jim Sinclair Said Friday.

He said unionization would fundamentally change the church's understanding of the role of a minister and the character of his or her relationship with a congregation.

"Labour legislation was not designed for the larger servant role that a minister has with a congregation. Confining it to these historic relationships of labor relations just fails to note there is responsibility to God as well as individuals," said Sinclair.

That said, the CAW's national director of organization, Mike Shields said: "We've just been inundated with calls and requests" from ministers inquiring about joining the union. "I feel like I have been talking to ministers all week."


Shields said the church's own figures show 18 per cent of the church's 3,000 active ministers are out on a stress leave. "If that happened in your workplace or mine, there would have to be a major investigation."

He said United Church ministers want to join a union because of their treatment by congregations.

"A small group in a congregation have the ability to run them out of town. They have a spouse, and 2.3 kids. When they are uprooted with little or no notice, it affects the whole family. They want some security, and to be treated with dignity," he said.

(Link via Neale News.)

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

Most Annoying Canadian

Nov. 6 -Yet another chance to vote! Bruce is running a poll for the Most Annoying Canadian. You can vote on the main page of Autonomous Source (there are additional details and the voting schedule here.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2004

To sleep, perchance to ... sleep

Nov. 4 - I've just realized that I've only slept a total of 3 hours since Monday afternoon. A part of me feels like an 18-year old who itches to find a party but the other part is faintly aware that I am not 18 any more. I have, you know, responsibilities. I must be mature. (If only I didn't have this silly grin on my face which totally ruins that image.)

But I'm going to try to sleep. It's the mature thing to do. Right? Right?

Posted by Debbye at 10:52 AM | Comments (5)

Lawyer shoots lawyer

Nov. 4 - I know, I'm seriously twisted, but I find this funny: Lawyer shoots lawyer. Money quote:

It was not immediately known whether Joice [the shootist lawyer] was represented by a lawyer.

Posted by Debbye at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)

The Greatest Canadian

Nov. 4 - Voting continues at the CBC website for the greatest Canadian. As of October 27, the top three candidates were Tommy Douglas, Don Cherry and Terry Fox. If you haven't been voting regularly, it's time to catch up!

And, to add to your multiple voting pleasure, a message board has been started: The Greatest Canadian? is open. (And many thanks to Mark for the tip!)

Vote early, and vote often!

Posted by Debbye at 09:06 AM | Comments (2)

November 03, 2004

Sudan camp under siege

Nov. 3 - Back to business. The crisis in Sudan has taken an odd turn - probably for the worse: Sudan camp siege as UN workers flee:

Sudanese soldiers surrounded three refugee camps in Darfur yesterday, forcing out aid workers in a development that could worsen the plight of thousands of African tribesmen who have fled the region's smouldering civil war.

The United Nations said soldiers sealed off the camps at 3am, raising fears that refugees could be ordered back to their villages where there is less protection from government backed militiamen known as the Janjaweed.

President Omar al-Bashir's government denied that its forces had besieged the camps. If true, the operation would violate two UN Security Council resolutions ordering Khartoum to end the violence in western Sudan.

Some 88 aid workers were forced out, according to the UN World Food Programme.

The timing is suspicious. Is it possible that the Sudanese government was counting on continued uncertainty in the US election results which might have delayed our response?

Give credit where it is due: Sen. Kerry's concession may be more important to the people of Darfur than anyone could possibly have foreseen.

14:32: No time stamp on this report that the Sudanese government and rebels are close to signing a peace deal, but I daresay it was written before the above account.

Posted by Debbye at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

Kerry concedes

Nov. 3 - Sen. John Kerry telephoned the president to concede the election and to congratulate Pres. Bush on his victory. The formal concession speech will be made at 1 p.m. ET. 2 p.m. EST.

I hope that this gracious act by the Democratic Party candidate will finally put an end to the bitterness of the 2000 election so that we can, finally, move on and get on about the nation's business. (But not health care. Let Canada continue trying to iron out the problems and learn from them rather than allowing the US gets stuck with the same problems and deadly waiting times.)

The biggest winner of this election was the American soldier. I had expressed the hope after viewing "Stolen Honor" that we had learned our lesson after Vietnam: we cannot ask soldiers to go to war and then renounce that war and therefore them. The Swift Boat vets deserve full credit for raising the public's consciousness as to what we owe our fighting men and women, and I can't prove it but I think that awareness played a role in today's win.

You might find it worthwhile to pay a visit to some ex-pats who have been firm in the defense of their country during these trying times in sometimes politely (and impolitely) hostile countries and usually with overtly hostile news media:

Robert, Austin, John, Jason, Tim, David, Greg, The Diplomad, and Chad (who channels a good Monty Python!)

Although she isn't a blogger (at least so far as I know) ex-pat Janet Daley has a terrific column up in today's Telegraph on a theme which is only too familiar to the rest of us ex-pats.

I wish I could think of something suitable to say to Michael Moore but maybe I'll just go see Team America and giggle a lot.

So ends the election in the second Anglosphere country of the coalition, and unless I was dreaming I seem to remember that Tony Blair too has called an election. Hat trick, anyone?

Posted by Debbye at 12:17 PM | Comments (3)

Ohio, thy name is uncertainty

Nov. 3 - The radio station I listen to during breaks at work was calling it for Kerry last night, but I remained serene and didn't respond to the cheering from my (Canadian) co-workers. I had reached the comfort level of knowing that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the outcome and I will willing to let the people decide without anger or (much) regret.

Okay, you want the truth? I had a bad feeling when I left for work that the president was going to lose this one and had already decided on stoicism. Knowing there would be some subtle jabbing had prepared me to take it all with a rueful smile. It wasn't a courage thing but a prideful thing.

Then, when I got off this morning I learned that the president had won the popular vote (and that is one terrific boost!) and that Ohio was unable to declare a winner due to provisional ballots which left the election results undecided.

If you are looking for polished prose, go to any of the fine names on my blogroll because, in all honesty, I'm stuck somewhere between laughter, frustration, euphoria, and love for my crazy country.

However, if I hear Donna Brazile or any other Democrat say "this president" again I'm going to um, use coarse language. Yeah, that's it. I'll curse 'em heartily.

9:01: I'm finally starting to read and digest the incredible impact of this election. Bush has 51% of the vote. Republicans held onto the White House and increased their majorities in the Senate and House.

Maybe this is the most important victory, though, as commenter mikem said:

... and a final belated and well deserved victory for Vietnam veterans.
That's the part that hurt most during the hours of doubt last night: a sense of having betrayed our soldiers and elected someone they rightly despised as their Commander-in-Chief. The pundits will be analyzing this election ad nauseum but I doubt they will understand how profoundly the American soldier influenced this election.

And speaking of our soldiers, Greyhawk has a series of posts (start here and keep clicking to each post on the right.) I dare you not to cry.

Bill Whittle has a short post up:

It's Bush. Thank God, it's Bush.
Don't hold back, Bill, tell us how you really feel!

He also has some ideas for what we need to do over the next four years. No resting on our laurels, I guess.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 AM | Comments (6)

November 02, 2004

Election and Good Advice

Nov. 2 - I predict that a lot of you won't get much more sleep tonight than I did today and that, whatever the outcome, we will survive.

I feel a sense of relief that it's over, and both sides know they have done their best. [Update Nov. 3: I spoke too soon! It isn't over yet ...] It will be interesting to see if there are any observable after-effects of the unprecedented voter turnout and renewed political activism of so many citizens.

Greyhawk is giving some Free Advice, which I think is one of his finest pieces yet.

Until tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 07:58 PM | Comments (3)


Nov. 2 - From this surprisingly emotional article about a U.S. Air Force mission out of Rwanda on Oct. 30:

The mission may have been clear and simple for the Americans involved, but as the airmen quickly realized, the Rwandans did not view the U.S. Air Force's airlift to Darfur as just another day at work.

Marching to the music of their own formal military band, the Rwandan troops carried more than their rifles as they entered the belly of the C-130. Their faces seemed to carry with them the concerns of a country that only 10 years ago experienced the horror of genocide.

Worth reading the whole thing. Sudan is still a nightmare regardless of the election results and should have a more prominent place on our list of things to solve.

Canada is getting more involved as well. PM Martin to visit Sudan, calling for an end to violence, humanitarian crisis:

Prime Minister Paul Martin will visit strife-ridden Sudan this month to urge the government to halt ethnic and religious violence that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes.

Martin will meet with President Omar el-Bashir at a brief stop in Khartoum during a 10-day trip to Africa.

"He'll urge the government to honour their commitments and act decisively to end the suffering," said Martin spokeswoman Amy Butcher.

"It's an opportunity to urge the (Sudanese) leaders to honour their word. G-8 leaders have a responsibility to engage and face-to-face meetings can be an effective tool to get leadership to act."


Martin had long been mulling the trip, and was encouraged to go in recent chats with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) and the head of the United Nations.

Canada has pledged about $37 million to humanitarian efforts in Sudan and also contributed equipment to African Union peacekeepers.

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

The search for the perfect male, um, organ

Nov. 2 - Meanwhile, back in Canada, it would seem our MPs have entirely too much time (and our money) on their hands, and Paul reports on how they are spending it: My Tax Dollars at Work.

I think the expression is "this stuff writes itself."

Posted by Debbye at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2004

Vote for Bush, dammit!

Nov. 1 - We are having a presidential election campaign at a time when our nation is under attack. How stupifying that Anyone But Bush remains the guiding theme of the opposition! Surely this is a sign of shallowness at the least and outright insanity at the most because it means that personal feelings about a candidate are motivating far too many voters at a time when national security is the dominant issue for the first time in their lifetimes.

I don't care if you don't like the President. This shouldn't be a popularity contest because it's an election in a time of war that tests our national character and our ability to look beyond personal likes and dislikes to judge the candidates solely on the basis of how they will address the threat.

This shouldn't be about getting even for the 2000 election. Anyone still angry about that should look at a crater in New York City and consider changing their priorities.

I have some sympathy with those who are having a major ick at the thought of pulling the lever for a Republican. I had never voted Republican in my life before this election. I voted Independent or Democrat without ever considering that a Republican might deserve at least some scrutiny.

That changed Sept. 11, 2001. Ironically, one of my first thoughts was "Thank God a Republican is in the White House" and although I didn't go so far as to decide that hanging chads were instruments of God, I did know that a twist of history had served our country at a time of peril.

I knew instictively that a Republican was more likely to launch a determined counter assault. I knew that something had to break the murderous deadlock at Israel's borders. I knew that we had to deal decisively with Saddam Hussein. Those were my immediate thoughts that fierce day, and I believe more than a few of those who are considering voting for Kerry had those same thoughts until the ongoing propaganda campaign waged by the Michael Moores and Democrats caused them to retreat.

Making fun of Bush may make for clever, cocktail party repartee, but is that actually a strategy for victory?

When we focus on the issues, exactly how does Kerry's platform differ from the president's? Why, he'll do things differently! That is an astonishing statement from the party that had the chance to do things differently for eight years but stayed with a law enforcement approach to international terrorism, and an onimous statement from a man who reminded us that he was a prosecutor and that he wants terrorism reduced to a nuisance comparable to gambling and prostitution.

It is insulting to the survivors and families of the dead from Sept. 11th, Bali, Madrid, Kashmir, Bombay, Jakarta, Moscow, Beslan, the Phillipines, Iraq, Algeria, Tel Aviv, Morocco, and countless other places to realize that a would-be president believes that that they were inconvenienced, not attacked!

We tried the law enforcement approach. We tried the appeasement approach. The Daddy of Terrorism, Yassar Arafat, was a guest in the White House, and you just can't be more accomodating than that.

As for the global test, as events in Rwanda, the Sudan and Iraq failed to pass this global test the less said about it the better.

President Bush did things differently, and the latest bin Laden tape indicates that his approach is working.

Of course that tape too, as with all previous tapes, is pure propaganda. Now we learn that the root cause for Sept. 11 was Lebanon, 1982, not dead Iraqi babies or American troops in Saudi Arabia. It also seems to echo much of Michael Moore's Farenheit 911, and I hope that people are finally making the connection that Moore's work is also propaganda.

We overtly reject OBL's offer of a cease fire, but the Kerry campaign in effect promotes a cease-fire by his failure to embrace the underlying reasons for launching Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Governments in the Mid-east that are governed by consensus, freedom of speech, press and religion will undercut the themes of desperation and impotency that al Qaeda and other Islamists use to encourage terrorist acts.

It's a long shot, admittedly. It's risky. It's one of the biggest gambles in our nation's history (maybe as as big as the one in 1776) and can backfire even now, but attempts to maintain the status quo in the Mid-east have already backfired and only greatened the threat.

We are fighting now so that our children and grandchildren don't have to fight. We are fighting now, when we have a chance of victory, than wait until we are cornered. We are fighting now to save Muslim lives, because if we are cornered there's no telling what we may do to save ourselves.

I voted by absentee ballot for President Bush because if we are to stand for anything it must be defiantly on our feet, not abjectly on our knees.

Note: One person who epitimized defiance in the face of the enemy was Winston Churchill, and Ghost of a Flea has the latest in his Winston Reviews on line. I urge Americans to read his latest, Review No. 17, here, and Canadians to read his Can-con post here.

Posted by Debbye at 05:41 PM | Comments (13)