February 28, 2005

Canadians not firmly opposed to BMD

Feb. 28 - Just when you think it's the last word on something ... according to Canadians are open to missile plan from the National Post, Canadians seem to "oppose it in practice, support it in principle."

A recent Compas poll indicates that:

The survey shows 54% oppose Canadian participation in the shield and 36% support it. But while opposing the shield itself, many respondents support the principles behind its creation.

For example, 56% said Canada should help protect North America against missiles, while 53% said it cannot be an independent country if it relies on the United States for protection.

Furthermore, 53% of those surveyed believe Canada needs to protect its cities because the country does have enemies and only 30% give credence to the argument that increased military spending will provoke others to attack Canada.


There is also a dwindling belief the United States would help defend Canada against an international attack, the poll suggests.

In April, 1998, 32% of respondents said they had "a lot of confidence" the Americans would protect Canada. By April, 2003, the percentage who gave the same answer fell to 19% and in the new poll, the number stands at 13%.

Only in Quebec is the opposition to missile defence unshakeable, according to the COMPAS poll. In that province, respondents reject the program by a ratio of three to one. Mr. Winn [COMPAS president Conrad Winn] suggested Quebec has a long history of opposing military programs, dating back to the Boer War.

It's hardly a secret that polls are notoriously susceptible to manipulation, but this does seem to indicate that Martin and Harper could have raised the question to the people of Canada - and Parliament - before rushing to end the, uh, dithering.

(Link via Canada Free Press.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:42 PM | Comments (8)

Canada's role in electronic warfare

Feb. 28 - Startling article by Judi McLeod and David Hawkins in Canada Free Press about Canada's hidden, media-ignored role in electronic warfare.

Weapons of electronic intelligence and electronic warfare are where the nation of Canada holds the cutting edge.

Through an intricate series of subsidiaries and sub-contractors, leading back to the blind trust running his Canadian Steamship Lines company, Prime Minister Paul Martin is still at the epicenter of that cutting edge.

In the development and design of Instrument Approach Procedures (IAP) for military aircraft, Canada maintains a first-place role.

IAPs are published instructions to pilots, specifying a series of aircraft maneuvers that must be executed for the aircraft to transition safety from an en route driving final approach, when flying by instruments.

Pretty routine stuff, until we get here:
In addition to CMC and BAE selling flight simulators in the global marketplace, Lansdowne's project managers also conduct something called "Lessons Learned" or what the Americans would call, "Red-Team Analysis" for NORAD's war games--including the simulations carried out on, and just prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Irrefutable proof that NORAD was conducting "simulation experiments" at the same time as the attacks, exists.

It was alleged confusion from these war game simulations that gave the NORAD commanders the convenient (and at the time, credible) excuse to order all U.S. Air Force military bases to "stand down" when they were about to scramble jets to escort or shoot down the alleged hijacked aircraft that nearly one hour later, crashed into several buildings.

Explaining the 9/11 collapse of NORAD command, control, communications and intelligence (C31 war-room) systems, the 9/11 Commission report cited a failure of imagination where no one (in America, at least) conducted "Red Team"--analysis as seen through the eyes of the enemy on how to convert hijacked jets into fuel-laden, precision-guided, un-intercepted missiles. (See www.9/11 Commission Report).

It now appears that project managers for the then-Paul Martin-owned Lansdowne Blind Trust Company were conducting Red-Team Analysis, in support of Canada’s participation in NORAD’s 9/11-style war games–but they just didn’t happen to share their web-enabled war-room insights with Canada’s allies in America.

The 9/11 Commission claimed that prior to September 11, 2001 no one was looking for possible telltale indicators that may have aroused suspicion. Indicators, such as prospective Arab-speaking terrorist group members using the CSL blind trust concealed behind Lansdowne to buy advanced flight simulators from companies such as CAE in Montreal, or flight-training lessons from corporate giants, such as Bombardier, which operates the NATO flight-training schools in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Read this through to the end, where the question is posed
Is Canada’s role in the ongoing attacks on the American-led "Coalition of the Willing", one of counter-counter terror?
Please note that I'm sharing this with you all as I re-read it. It seems incredible.

Posted by Debbye at 03:16 PM | Comments (15)

Mark Steyn

Feb. 28 - Mark Steyn looks at the President's recent European trip and the Aftermath balance sheet.

Mark re-states something about life in Europe that we in North America find incomprehensible, i.e., the failure of European countries to bring Muslim immigrants into the mainstream and, although he doesn't state it, provide them with economic freedom, i.e., employment:

Even more remarkably, aside from sticking to his guns in the wider world, Mr. Bush found time to cast his eye upon Europe's internal affairs. He told his Brussels audience, in his tour's first speech, "We must reject anti-Semitism in all forms and we must condemn violence such as that seen in the Netherlands."

The Euro-bigwigs shuffled their feet and stared coldly into their mistresses' decolletage. They knew Mr. Bush wasn't talking about anti-Semitism in Nebraska, but about France, where for three years there has been a sustained campaign of synagogue burning and cemetery desecration, and Germany, where the Berlin police advise Jewish residents not to go out in public wearing any identifying marks of their faith. The "violence in the Netherlands" is a reference to Theo van Gogh, murdered by a Dutch Islamist for making a film critical of the Muslim treatment of women. Van Gogh's professional colleagues reacted to this assault on freedom of speech by canceling his movie from the Rotterdam Film Festival and scheduling some Islamist propaganda instead.

The president, in other words, understands that for Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations before they provoke the inevitable resurgence of opportunist political movements feeding off old hatreds. Difficult trick to pull off, especially on the Continent where the ruling elite feels it's in the people's best interest not to pay any attention to them.
People tend to migrate in order to build a better lives for themselves and more emphastically for their children, and maybe we don't pay quite enough attention to something which marks a major difference between North America and much of Europe, namely our willingness to welcome those of other cultures and encourage their participation in the workforce in accordance with their ambitions and skills.

Posted by Debbye at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

Lebanon's road to sovereignty

Feb. 28 - On Monday, 10,000 Lebanese defied a ban on demonstrations to press their demands for Syria's withdrawal (10,000 in Beirut Join Protest Against Syria) as the Lebanese parliament opened in its first session since former PM Rafik Hariri's assassination of Feb. 14. [13:00 - This just in: Lebanese government resigns! Also, the crowd size is now estimated at 25,000.]

Syrian president Assad denies any involvement in the bombing which killed Hariri and told an Italian newspaper that to do so would have been an act of "political suicide." That may seem self-evident given ensuing events, but was it so February 14? Of course not.

CNN estimated there were 50,000 protesters in Martyr's Square and elaborates on the ban:

An estimated 50,000 people gathered Monday in Beirut's Martyr Square despite an order a day earlier by Lebanon's Interior Ministry for military forces to "use all necessary means" to make sure the demonstrations did not take place.
I think Damascus has learned the meaning of the phrase The whole world is watching.

What I find most hopeful is that past differences between Lebanese factions seem to have been overridden by the desire to take back control over their own country (see this article on the tent city.) One of the arguments against any form of consensual government functioning in the Mid-east has been conflict - often armed - between religious, tribal and ethic groups which had been arbitrarily lumped together to form a "country" although there were few ties other than geography which bound the inhabitants into a cohesive unit.

The Iraqi people have shown that they can find common ground which can benefit all the Iraqi people and, perhaps more significantly, reach compromises. Although this unity is still in its infancy, within that transcendence of narrow self-interests lies the seeds of the future for countries of the Mid-east.

The question of Syrian involvement in Hariri's assassination is almost moot. Although it serves as a rallying cry for those tired of Syrian occupation and domination of Lebanon, the long supressed aspirations of the Lebanese for national sovereignty lie at the heart of the crisis in Lebanon and defiance of the ban against demonstrations spring from a recognition of the rights of free men and women.

There's been much discussion about Thomas L. Friedman's column in the NY Times yesterday, The Tipping Points (see extended entry for item) in which he discusses three tipping points in the Mid-east: Iraqi elections, the Lebanese defiance of Syria, and Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, but he doesn't tie the events together satisfactorily.

The impetus for change - and that's at heart what the tipping points represent - stem from U.S. response to the events of Sept. 11. Those who observed that the tensions in the Mid-east were reaching critical mass were shocked into recognition that these conflicts had ceased to be spectator sport and had landed in our front yards and that we had to do something, not just anything, and it had to be something that could provide hope to counterpose against the despair of death cultism.

We were paying attention to root causes, but we chose to go the hard course and press to change the biggest root cause from which the others stemmed.

Fact: No democracy has ever gone to war against another democracy.

Fact: One of the characteristics that has propelled homo sapiens forward is our ability to look at what others have done and to adapt it to fit ourselves.

Conclusion: If one people in one country in the Mid-east (besides Israel) can form a government based on and adherent to the recognition of human rights and consensual rule, others will believe that they too can do so and strive towards that goal.

I supported the Iraq war not due to any fears about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction but because it seemed fertile ground for planting the seeds of democracy and, as we had to start somewhere, it seemed natural to pick up where we had (regrettably) left off in Gulf War I.

The Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution and the courageous voter turn-out by the Iraqi people on January 30 are, I think, part of an ongoing revolution which is peaceful by nature but determined in intent (as indicated by the steadfastness of the Lebanese) and the only question now is in the specifics: where the impact of these marches to freedom will next be made manifest.

The United States and the Coalition of the Willing can take credit for planting the seeds, but it is those who strive for freedom who deserve credit for taking these bold steps toward a new future. I don't know how it will all end, but I have to believe that we have averted a war of civilizations that would have seen the destruction of one and the diminishment of the other.

The Tipping Points

Thomas L. Friedman, NY Times
published Feb. 27, 2005

The other night on ABC's "Nightline," the host, Ted Koppel, posed an intriguing question to Malcolm Gladwell, the social scientist who wrote the path-breaking book "The Tipping Point," which is about how changes in behavior or perception can reach a critical mass and then suddenly create a whole new reality. Mr. Koppel asked: Can you know you are in the middle of a tipping point, or is it only something you can see in retrospect?

Mr. Gladwell responded that "the most important thing in trying to analyze whether something is at the verge of a tipping point, is whether it - an event - causes people to reframe an issue. ...A dumb example is the Atkins's diet, which reframes dieting from thinking about it in terms of avoiding calories and fat to thinking about it as avoiding carbohydrates, which really changes the way people perceive dieting."

Mr. Koppel was raising the question because he wanted to explore whether the Iraqi elections marked a tipping point in history. I was on the same show, and in mulling over this question more I think that what's so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once.

Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.

In Lebanon, the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Syria is widely suspected of having had a hand in, has reframed that drama. A month ago, Lebanon was the story of a tiny Christian minority trying to resist the Syrian occupation, which had the tacit support of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and a cadre of Lebanese politicians who had sold their souls to Damascus. After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped. Lebanon became the story of a broad majority of Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druse no longer willing to remain silent, but instead telling the Syrians, and their Lebanese puppet president, to "go home." Lebanon went from a country where few dared whisper "When will Syria leave?" to a country where nearly everyone was shouting it, and Syria was having to answer.

The Israel-Palestine drama has gone from how Ariel Sharon will use any means possible to sustain Israel's hold on Gaza, which he once said was indispensable for the security of the Jewish state, to being about how Mr. Sharon will use any means possible to evacuate Gaza - with its huge Palestinian population - which he now says is necessary for saving Israel as a Jewish state. The issue for the Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there - a Dubai on the Mediterranean. Because if they do, it will fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.

While all three of these situations would constitute tipping points by Mr. Gladwell's definition, I would feel a lot better about all three if I thought that they were irreversible - and couldn't tip back the wrong way.

For Iraq to be tipped in the right direction, it was necessary to have the election we did, but that was not sufficient. The sufficient thing is that a stable, decent Iraqi government emerge that can also quell the Sunni insurgency. That will depend in part on America's willingness to stay the course in Iraq. It will depend in part on the Shiite majority's willingness to share power with the Sunnis - particularly one of the crucial cabinet portfolios of defense, intelligence or interior - and not go on a de-Baathification rampage. And it will depend in part on the Sunni Arab leaders finally supporting the Iraqi majority.

For Lebanon to liberate itself from Syria, the Lebanese opposition groups will have to find a way to translate their aspirations into a withdrawal deal with Damascus. The Syrians will not be pushed out. And for Israelis and Palestinians to really tip toward peace, the moderates on both sides are really going to have to help each other succeed.

Indeed, in the Middle East playground - as Friday's suicide bomb in Israel reminds us - tipping points are sometimes more like teeter-totters: one moment you're riding high and the next minute you're slammed to the ground. Nevertheless, what's happened in the last four weeks is not just important, it's remarkable. And if we can keep all three tipping points tipped, it will be incredible.

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

Saddam's brother arrested in Syria

Feb. 28 - This could be titled "Look what we found" as Syria tries to placate Iraq and the USA with the capture of Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan (Syria captures Saddam's brother) by suddenly locating someone on the "Wanted" list:

Iraqi officials yesterday said Syria had captured and handed over Saddam Hussein's half brother, a most-wanted leader in the Sunni-based insurgency.

The action was described by Iraqi authorities as a goodwill gesture by Damascus, but it followed months of Syrian denials that fugitives from the ousted Saddam regime were hiding on their territory.

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who shared a mother with Saddam, was nabbed with 29 other fugitive members of the former dictator's Ba'ath Party in Hasakah in northeastern Syria, 30 miles from the Iraqi border, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. military in Iraq had no immediate comment.

What could the U.S. military possibly say? You mean he was in Syria all this time? Who knew?

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

Mass murder in Iraq

Feb. 28 - True, somewhat grim title but I feel an anger at the pit of my stomach that has no words over this latest outrage (Car Bomb Kills at Least 115 in Iraq.)

I realize that the death cultists have little recourse but to murder and spread mayhem; after all, what else to they have to offer? On my better days I try to pity them for their failure to embrace the gift of life, but most days I just hate them.

FoxNews reports (at least on the televised coverage) that those present worked together to load the wounded onto ambulances and gather body parts of the dead. It's some comfort to see that solidarity and humanity in the middle of the wreckage, and not a day goes by that I don't see new reasons to respect the courage of those trying to build a new nation.

Courage. What a small, pitiful word for such a breathtaking concept.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

February 27, 2005

The depressing reality of rejecting Missile Defense

Feb. 27 - I don't often get depressed after reading an Andrew Coyne post, but when he's right, he's right, and his conclusions about The missile defence decision are bang on:

... the only objection most of the critics have is that it involves a) the Americans, and b) military hardware. And because a good number of these people are to be found on the Liberal backbench, the Prime Minister feels obliged to kowtow to them. So we will make critical decisions on foreign and defence policy based on purely internal politics -- internal, not as in Canada, but as in the Liberal Party.
To paraphrase V-P Cheney, if Martin can't stand up to the NDP and left-wing of the Liberal Party, how is he going to stand up to rogue regimes?

I had followed Bob's link to a Toronto Star editorial which criticized Martin's decision not to participate in the missile defense shield program and noted but couldn't comment on this assertion until the inner ranting ceased:

Yet, if Martin failed a leadership test, Bush also failed to make a decisive case for joining. And Harper offered Bush no comfort. This was a systems failure from the get-go. The Three Amigos never got their act together.
That's right, they are criticizing Pres. Bush for failing to play a leadership role for Canadians on this issue. Canadians need American leadership, not Canadian leadership, to explain a program meant to protect Canada.

So much for the much-ballyhooed Canadian sovereignty. By blaming Bush, the Toronto Star editorial concedes that Canada's leaders don't have the capability (or balls) to provide leadership on issues that concern the defense of Canada.

The Star editorial ends with misplaced optimism

If that [increased military spending in the recent budget] doesn't buy us credibility with allies, nothing will.
Stay with the "nothing" part and you'll have it right. It speaks volumes that Canada's leading newspaper thinks that credibility, not to mention respect, can be bought rather than earned.

Posted by Debbye at 01:22 PM | Comments (19)

February 25, 2005

The best words on Jeff Gannon

Feb. 25 - There's been commentary aplenty over the hounding of Jeff Gannon, but the best (and funniest) response I've seen thus far is from John Hawkins, who applies the Gannon Standard to a certain "real," "non-biased" journalist who is not a reporter - she's a columnist - but who is a regular at White House press conferences.

I won't tell you who that might be, but if you think "Queen of the Editorialized Question" you'll probably have it figured out.

By the way, second runner-up for best and funniest response is Ann Coulter, in Republicans, bloggers and gays, oh my!

Have a good weekend, everyone. As Dennis Miller used to say on SNL, I. Am. Out of Here.

Posted by Debbye at 04:41 PM | Comments (16)

Raising the troops' morale

condi matrix_hmed_7a 050224_.jpg
(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

Feb. 25 - Damned straight they're cheering and clapping! And it's not only about sex appeal, but also about assertiveness, confidence, and the many good qualities of American womanhood.

All the same, I wonder if this picture will begin to appear in foot lockers (Betty Grable is sooo yesterday ...)

There's a more intellectual commentary at the WaPo on Condi's attire, but I think they missed the point.

Posted by Debbye at 04:01 PM | Comments (17)

Canadian permission to defend ourselves - ha!

Feb. 25 - Greg Weston sees a bright side to Martin's decision to stay out of missile defense:

If average Americans had been following Paul Martin's stand on U.S. missile defence, they would surely be relieved by yesterday's announcement that Canada will not be part of it.

An Armageddon warhead incoming at four kilometres per second is no time to be sharing command and control of North American air defence with a dithering prime minister.

Not so fast there - PM Martin says the USA is supposed to ask Canada's permission before shooting down any incoming missiles:
Prime Minister Paul Martin is insisting that United States seek permission before firing any missiles over Canada.
Two words: Won't Happen.

14:13 - The latest test shot down a short range missile. 5 out of 6 - not bad for a system that "doesn't work." (via Peaktalk.)

Feb. 26 - Terrific post from Evan at 101-280 - Sweet Surrender not only on the ballistic missile defense (BMD) controversy but on the future of NORAD and the state of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 PM | Comments (14)

February 24, 2005

Jihad on the Pacific Rim

Feb. 24 - If you have time (and even if you don't) I strongly recommend reading the article Dire Straits by Austin Bay in the Weekly Standard about the growth of terror networks in the Southern Pacific.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

Syria to withdraw - no timetable

Feb. 24 - Syrian troops says it will move troops stationed in Lebanon to the east, i.e., the Bekaa Valley, a region of some interest after it was cited as one of the places Saddam's elusive WMD were said to have been hidden. (That's just one of many theories, okay?)

When even CNN used death quotes in their web site article this morning, I found myself with little to add (Syria 'commits' to Lebanon pullout) but I am struck with one hopeful (if fleeting) notion: is it remotely possible that the media, administration and American people are all of one mind on Lebanon?

Posted by Debbye at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

Button, button, who pushes the button ...

Feb. 24 - US Amb. Paul Cellucci reflects the confusion of many Americans:

"We don't get it," Paul Cellucci said in Toronto. "If there's a missile incoming, and it's heading toward Canada, you are going to leave it up to the United States to determine what to do about that missile. We don't think that is in Canada's sovereign interest."
Clarification comes if you recall that the best way to duck the dirty work is to let George do it, and Canada long ago left matters of continental defense to the USA.

There is more about US reaction to the latest Martin decision along similar lines as the first linked item in Missile decision prompts U.S. warning. Everyone is saying what you'd expect them to say, but it's all so very pro-forma that I wonder if Martin's announcement could really have been that much of a surprise.

But the timing! Need I even bother to go into the timing of Martin's announcement? The NATO conference was earlier hyped as being the ideal setting for Martin to step onto the international stage and reveal himself as a statesman capable of playing an intermediary role to reconcile Old Europe and the USA. Instead it became the setting for establishing more distance between Canada and the USA!

And what of NORAD? The 2004 amendment to the NORAD agreement to which Frank McKenna, the next Canadian Ambassador to the US, alluded expanded NORAD's mission and thus allowed Canadian personnel assigned to NORAD to track incoming missiles.

Future repercussions are a possibility, though, and opting out of missile defence could alter Canadian role in NORAD:

... retired lieutenant-general George MacDonald says that while excluding itself from the plan may ultimately change Canada's role in Norad, it won't end it. "Canadians will not have any participation in the actual decision-making or the rules of engagement or anything to do with ballistic missile defence," said MacDonald, a former vice-chief of defence staff and now a consultant.

"We will simply be feeding the system. And the question that ultimately may be asked is whether this is still an important mission for Norad to do."

At some point, MacDonald says, the Americans may want to lop off the warning element of missile defence from Norad altogether, thereby excluding Canada from the process outright.

I'd like to think that the US government wouldn't want to eliminate a platform which would facilitate inclusion in the plan should a future Canadian government (or even this one) choose to re-evaluate their role in missile defense, but the Opposition's silence before Martin's announcement makes them look like an Opposition only capable of responding to events rather than crafting them. That weakness might be cause for the U.S. government to judge them as too unreliable to merit future trust.

Pieter has some thoughts on the matter, and an excellent insight on those matters which, being "unspeakable" in Canada, help explain how the Opposition "failed the test of political competency."

23:22 Paul is in top form:

Extensive discussions between Mr. Dithers, Pierre Pettigrew - AKA Ludicrous Hair Man -, and Screeching Bill Graham...that sure does inspire a lot of confidence somehow, doesn't it?

The Three Stooges sort of come to mind for some reason...

Feb. 25 - 00:31: There's a lengthy (for us) thread over at the Shotgun.

New Sisyphus weighs in as, again, do the commenters.

From the Telegraph (UK):

Canada has turned down the Bush administration's pleas to join its missile defence programme, dealing a further damaging blow to relations between the North American neighbours.

Paul Martin, the prime minister, has secretly conveyed the decision to Washington despite a personal request from President George W Bush to think again.


The decision is believed to mark the first time in decades that Canada had refused a US request to join a strategic programme to defend the North American continent. (Bolding added.)

Can a Canadian application to join the EU be far away? (Oh, I'm sorry. Did that sound bitter?)

Feb. 25 - 14:29: It actually has gotten worse. See here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:43 PM | Comments (18)

February 23, 2005

Estrogen Week with a Twist

Feb. 23 - I have to go to work shortly, but it's (hopefully) the last night working this stupidest of stupid schedules so will try to be cheerful, etc.

Just for the record, I hate it when some poor, bewildered man (like, oh I don't know, a respected academic at a leading university) has to apologize for speculating or musing on forbidden topics. It reminds me too much of the "confessions" Soviet and Chinese officials used to make shortly before they were sent into exile or were executed.

So although it's definitely not PC, I find the following side-achingly funny and, in its own twisted way, think it deserves an honourable mention during Estogen Week.

Schwarzenegger Accused of Being Anti-Women and issues a pro-forma apology. My favourite excerpt:

"But I realize that some women are angry with me, and for that I apologize. But let's be honest. When I apologize to women I don't mean a word of it and neither does any man in America.
So when those who have offended the PC police confess and apologize for the deplorable sins of being insensitive and unintentionally causing pain do you:

a) roll your eyes,
b) write down a really good phrase for future use,
c) curse him for being a Wimp and Traitor to Manhood,
d) forgive him, or
e) pump your fist and chalk up another victory for Women's Rights.

Feb. 24: I was unforgiveably sloppy in not making it clear that the linked post was satire and not a true news item. I apologize for the lapse.

Posted by Debbye at 09:00 PM | Comments (2)

Iraqi Confidence

Feb. 23 - Despite the murders, bombs and kidnappings, Iraqi men keep enlisting in the security forces (Iraqi police defy danger.)

"The danger is everywhere, but to serve your country is much better than to be afraid and do nothing"
Courageous words with which a nation is being built.

Posted by Debbye at 08:16 PM | Comments (1)

Canada's in, no out, no both ...

Feb. 23 - Paul Martin, please call home. There seems to be some confusion as to Canada's participation in the Missile Shield Defense program (Missile muddle.)

As the article notes, the amended NORAD agreement makes Canadian participation in the program de facto but there is a loophole if one squints hard enough. Bob explains better than I could.

A generous interpretation is that the Canadian government wants to pretend they aren't protected under the shield in order to placate any one of the xxxx groups lined up to scream hysterically about the weaponization of space, the environment, Canadian sovereignty or the relative merits of Final Fantasy VIII; a less generous interepretation is that they don't know what the hell they're doing.

I expressed a wish long ago that the USA could implement the missile shield without defending a reluctant Canada, and now I read that Japanese inclusion could make that happen. Wouldn't that be interesting!

Via Peaktalk, a CS Monitor headlines nails it: US allies: Australia signs up, Canada signs off (Australia is sending 450 more troops in Iraq in order to protect Japanese engineering teams.) The article points out a key difference: Howard has a majority government and Martin has a minority one, and who really doubted the outcome when Martin decided to form a government with the NDP?

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

Tent city in Beirut - Cedar Revolt

Feb. 23 - Good reads about Lebanon:

The Washington Post has a very suggestive article on Beirut's Berlin Wall and notes that a "tent city" has been set up of protesters. I immediately thought of Ukraine.

Amir Taheri (who should need no introduction) in People Power Hits Lebanon.

Anyone who lives in or near the LA area should check this out: Demonstration in support of Lebanon sovereignty in LA.

Events in Lebanon could still go tragically wrong, but the sheer will and confidence exhibited by the Lebanese after so many years of occupation by Syria is so uplifting that I just want to savour it.

Freedom is on the march, and it's never too late to join.

Feb. 24 - More on the tent city here:

The tent city rose up near the immense crater created by the blast that killed Mr. Hariri and 16 others, peopled by protesters who refused to go home after a demonstration Monday described as the largest anti-Syrian protest ever held.

Divided into small groups according to affiliation -- the Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in one area, the followers of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt in another -- the camp has been growing daily since Monday.

Inspired by December's Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia a year earlier, the protesters have begun to call their action the "Cedar Revolt" in a tribute to the tree that adorns the Lebanese flag.

Posted by Debbye at 07:41 PM | Comments (2)

Estrogen Week in Canada II

Feb. 23 - Welcome to readers sent by Ilyka.

Continuing to celebrate Estrogen Week up here:

Glenda takes a strip off the proponents of national day care with - what else? some common sense:

Are the old white guys in suits asking us to embrace institutionalized day care because it's better for our kids?

Looks to me like they want us to believe that the woman who lives down the street, (the woman I know and trust ) who looks after my kids is providing inferior care. That my kids are not going to be healthy, well adjusted and intellectually ready for school if my mother or my sister agrees to look after them while I work.

Ken Dryden can blow early learning out his ass. There is a reason rich folks hire nannies and live-in house keepers. They know and can afford what is best for their kids. The rest of us do the best that we can. And that doesn't always include institutionalized day care.

Sari writes about the union vs. Walmart in Montreal with some not so well known information as to how long Walmart negotiated with the union:
If Wal-Mart was simply trying to bust unions, they would have closed in October, instead of spending months trying to negotiate. In all that time, however, the union didn't budge an inch, making it patently obvious that the union's negotiaters weren't looking for a workable settlement; instead, they were trying to make a political point.
Sari was, by the way, proven right: the suggested boycott of Walmart lasted all of what - 5 minutes? It was in fact mentioned by the media up here - once.

Kate has only just returned to Saskatchewan after attending a dog show yet I found her post on the show strangely appropriate (I've taken the quoted section very much out of context):

Yeah, I'm a bad loser. A really, really bad loser. I don't make scenes or get in people's faces, but I bitch and complain with the best of them. I don't apologize for it, either. An aversion to losing is a fundamental ingredient to competitive success.

"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser".

Somehow I don't think she had to resort to smelling salts at the show.

The Essay explains the intricacies of being a Ninja Wife. Please note she lives in Edmonton, which explains why she has so much confidence in her ability not only to find a doctor but to find one who can remove an alarm clock from (I hope) a forehead.

Lastly and back-to-the-original-pointedly, The Truth About York takes up the cause of a one conservative female who just might have the mettle to withstand a grilling before a Senate Commiteee and even (gasp!) the Sept. 11 Commission.

(Although this is not how I had planned to spend my night off, this celebration provided an additional upside: there is a Law of Unintended Gratification!)

Posted by Debbye at 12:33 AM | Comments (8)

February 22, 2005

Estrogen Week in Canada I

Feb. 22 - I'll celebrate Estrogen Week in my own back yard!

Welcome to readers sent by Ilyka.

Kateland looks at the disapproval of Canadians over American attempts to encourage the growth of democracies and notes the Canadian fondness for China and Cuba:

Geez, what do you expect from a country where an elected member of the ruling political party can stand up and say, "The government will not tolerate statements that create dissonance in our society" and the official Opposition and/or the Canadian public did not howled her down in outrage. She should have been run out of Parliament on a rail and not returned with a majority.
Kathy refuses to fall in line with all those bemoaning Hunter S. Thompson's suicide and declares him to be a teenage boy obsession.

Marzi has decided she's changed her mind about Michael Moore (in a wickedly wonderful way) and notes his silence after the Iraq elections.

Angua lists reason 4532-76Q why the U.N. is more useless than a bag of doorknobs (scroll down):

I am not actually that picky -- some graffiti on a London synagogue is fine by me if that means that someone somewhere will do something other than tsk about Sudan.
But, but, they tsk so well!

Broad at bat made me laugh while reminding me how grateful I am that I don't have daughters. Her writings are fun and warm, and she proves that you don't need to be a political blogger to demonstrate courage.

More tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 09:59 PM | Comments (7)

PM Martin at NATO Summit

Feb. 22 - From this morning, Martin quiet at NATO summit:

BRUSSELS (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin tiptoed around the edge of the limelight Monday prior to the NATO summit as U.S. President George W. Bush's attempted reconciliation with Europe took centre stage. [Aside: What. Ever.]


Prior to the gathering in Brussels, senior federal officials played up Canada's role as a potential intermediary between the world's only remaining superpower and a continent that is routinely alarmed with the unilateral bent of the Bush administration.

But there has been no evidence of any fence-mending diplomacy by Canada, as none of the prime minister's bilateral meetings during the summit include any outspoken opponents of U.S. foreign policy.

Nevertheless, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew insisted that Canada's role, although unseen, was still important.

"It is a very natural role for Canada to play a bridge between the United States and the European Union," he said.

"We have a lot of friends in Europe. We are highly regarded on the positions we've taken. At the same time, we are the United States' immediate neighbour, their best friend."

Indeed. See the post below on Frank McKenna, Canada's next Ambassador to the U.S., and his views on this bestest of friends relationship. Maybe it's just me, but I'd nominate Australia and Great Britian for best friend status over Canada.

From this evening: the Prime Minister broke his silence to address the delegates on Iran:

Prime Minister Paul Martin warned NATO leaders Tuesday that they should be prepared to stand up to Iran in order to check the Islamic republic's potential nuclear ambitions.

He told the 25 other alliance leaders at the end of their one-day summit in Brussels that the Islamic republic poses a "serious proliferation threat."

While "diplomacy and dialogue" remain a top priority, the prime minister said the world community "must be prepared to stand behind our words with stronger measures, if necessary."

Tougher measures could include UN-mandated sanctions, but U.S. President George W. Bush has repeatedly suggested he's prepared to use military action if diplomacy fails. (Bolding added.)

Right. Sanctions. Golly gee whiz, what Iranian product might possibly be subject to U.N. sanctions?

Given the results of a recent poll, Yanks "Slick" (sic) and Tired of U.N., I don't think U.N. imposed sanctions are going to be well received by either the American public or Congress. (NY Post link via Neale News.)

The PM was at least more candid than his "senior federal officials:"

Prior to the summit, federal officials played up Canada's potential role in bridging the gap between Europe and the United States, but Martin admitted he was largely on the sidelines.

"The truth of the matter is, to the extent there was a rift, I think it was healed by President Bush and the Europeans," he said. "Canada has a pretty good understanding of both sides and we'll continue to play the role."

Continue to play the role of being on the sidelines? Or play the role of having a good understanding of both sides? (To be fair, I think that could be a bit of sloppy journalism, although it's also possible that the writer was just as bewildered by that last statement as I.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (3)

Frank McKenna, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S.

Feb. 22 - The next Ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, has been appearing before the Commons [Parliament] foreign affairs committee and has some interesting observations. McKenna: Canada, U.S. 'never more different'. Some excerpts:

Canadians shouldn't worry about their sovereignty because in many ways this country and the United States have never been further apart, says the next ambassador to Washington.

McKenna thinks the U.S. should back off on criticisms of Canadian marijuana decriminalization. He worries about the gulf between Canadian and American understanding of one another. And he believes the two countries can't do enough to harmonize their shared border.

"I don't think I've ever seen the countries, in many ways, more different," McKenna told the committee.

"We're going in a very different direction from the United States of America."

By example, he cited legislative measures such as same-sex marriage, gun control and pot decriminalization.

And he said Canada's "whole approach with respect to preserving the social structure, social security in Canada, is dramatically different from the direction of the United States of America.

"We just seem to be much further apart than we've ever been before. So my view is Canadians have done a good job of protecting our cultural integrity and our sovereignty."

McKenna touched on the favoured "US objections to decriminalization of marijuana" theme, but here's something I don't get: given the treaties between the two countries to honour things like marriages, wouldn't the US object far more to the legalization of same-sex marriages than the relaxing of laws regarding marijuana possession which hardly differs from the laws of some states?

There are links to two older articles about McKenna: new Canadian Ambassador to the United States and Toronto Sun: NEWS - New envoy is frank.

Posted by Debbye at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

Cosby: Get an education

Feb. 22 - It's good to see that Bill Cosby is staying on message and advising kids to Get an education. Be responsible. Make a difference.

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

Announcing Estrogen Week

Feb. 22 - Readers will pardon anything resembling the vapours and assign it to those delicate sensibilities to which we female bloggers are said to be prone. You see, the writer in the linked article seems to lean toward the notion that the political blogosphere is just too danged uncivilized for us frail, weak females.

He never seems to wonder why women should be poli-bloggers, though. He seems to take it as a given, yet if he understood anything about real - as opposed to popular - feminism, he would recognize that he broke Rule #1 : don't tell us what to do, think, or aspire to.

I first read about this when I read Ilyka's response following a link from Ith (I'll return to Ith for the last word.) Do yourselves a favour and read Ilyka's response - it's funny, well-targeted and well-written.

Meryl turns up the heat with basic fact-checking making it two women that can kick the stuffing (and stuffiness) out of paternalistic men.

21:22: Make that four: Andrea and Michelle. I'm sure there are more, but my poor head is beginning to ache with all this unseemly unpleasantness so I'm going to pour a stiff drink make some tea to soothe my jangled nerves.

Ilkya declares it's Estrogen Week. Just keep scrolling (wonderful banner by another favourite female blogger) and enjoy the posts and comments.

Now, having dispatched the self-indulgent fussing over how few of us there are back to those men who have fixated on it as an "issue," there is another issue that actually does concern us which Ith targets in a chilling post on the lost Voices of Muslim women who do not get a choice in what to do, think, or aspire to and, too often, are not even permitted life.

All the liberal men who want to "advance our cause," "open the doors of opportunity" and "smash the glass ceiling" are, to be blunt, f***ing cowards. They are picking acceptable, soft targets instead of the single hardest one: the way Islamists and fundamentalists (who are deemed above criticism by the culturally sensitive types) treat women.

You want to be on my side and advance my cause? Help my sisters, dammit. I can help myself!

Then connect the dots and realize, finally, that only bringing democracy to the Mid-east will begin to loosen the chains that shackle Muslim women.

Feb. 23 - My, my, the source article was changed by stealth without noting "update" or any of the other conventions bloggers use.

Posted by Debbye at 02:45 PM | Comments (2)

Witchhunts and their fallout

Feb. 22 - Two posts over at Daimnation are well worth reading and considering in tandem. The first presents a series of accusations that are so laughable that they and the accusers are easy to dismiss, and the second demonstrates how hysteria coupled with "experts" can ruin lives and reputations.

The accusations being leveled about suspected sub-text and hidden messages in Shrek 2 require stretching the imagination so far that the actual story line is forgotten, but it's precisely the story that children will pick up on and remember. If there was a hidden message within Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie, my kids failed to pick up on it. But then, I failed to pick up on any sub-text in The Odd Couple (maybe because there wasn't any!)

Children, blessedly, are not as paranoid as adults. I guess paranoia is one of those things that have to be taught.

But how wise are we to shrug off such accusations, however absurd they may be?

The next post, an excellent book review of No Crueler Tyrannies by Dorothy Rabinowitz demonstrates the horror and character assassination that occurs when hysteria (and dubious experts) take command over common sense. Although the book focuses on the hysteria about satanic rituals and sexual abuse in day care centers, the lesson is broader:

Witchhunts tend to backfire in the long run, as people start to assume the witches never existed in the first place. McCarthy’s anti-Communist buffoonery in the 1950s forever discredited anti-Communism (which explains all these execrable Che Guevara T-shirts), and “ritual abuse” hysteria has done almost incalculable damage to the fight against child abuse. It was only in the Fells Acres era that real stories of long-buried abuse were coming to light – notably at the infamous Mount Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland – and it would be an unforgivable sin if we start ignoring these hideous crimes again. But when so many police officers, child-welfare officials, prosecutors and “experts” have shown their willingness to lie and railroad innocent people, what are we supposed to believe?
And, of course, therein lies the real danger.

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2005

Come again?

Feb. 21 - I must really need some sleep (or perhaps wading through two feet of snow to get home has brought out my inner wacky.) Whatever the case, the main webpage for today's Telegraph features some, er, unusual headings:

Confused Spaniards vote for EU Constitution

Primates Show Anger

Girl's name for third Beckham boy

Bush likes gays and smoked pot (Heh. Not a surprise!)

Posted by Debbye at 07:58 AM | Comments (5)

Mass protests in Beirut

Feb. 21 - The Beirut judge heading up the inquiry into Hariri's murder, Rachid Mezher, said yesterday that the killers "had been recruited from Islamist groups linked to Syria and operating against the US-led coalition in Iraq" and believed to have travelled to Lebanon through Syria from Iraq. Mezher further stated that he finds credible the claim by Victory and Jihad in Greater Syria that they were responsible for Harir's assassination.

Abu Adas, 23, a Palestinian Lebanese believed to have fled the country, attended two Beirut mosques known to be recruiting grounds for the Ansar al-Islam group, linked to the Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Investigators suspect that the mosques have ties to Sheikh Abderrazak, a Damascus cleric who has helped fighters travel through Syria to Iraq. The Beirut attack bore similarities to suicide bombings carried out in Iraq by al-Zarqawi, who has increasingly strong ties to al-Qaeda.

"We know that Adas had Saudi Arabian nationality and used his passport to travel to Iraq and Syria," said Judge Mezher in his only interview with a British newspaper.

Outrage over Hariri's death and suspicions that the Syrian government ordered his death has electrified Lebanese who chafe under Syrian occupation. There had been previous demonstrations including those held during the 2002 La Francophonie conference in Beirut.

Thousands of people staged an Anti-Syria protest in Beirut today calling for immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops.

Monday's crowd was mainly comprised of Christians and members of the Druse community, and police reportedly set up checkpoints leading into the city from the predominantly Druse Chouf region and along the city's main northern entrances, where many Christians were coming from.

The protesters included men and women of all ages. Many were wearing red and white scarves, a symbol of the movement calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

There was a grim reminder too that Syria remains in charge:
A significant security presence was also on the streets, with about 300 officers armed with M-16 rifles and AK-47 assault rifles.
I can't help but feel that they are counting on us - the USA, the U.N., Canada, those nations who are willing - for solidarity and support.

Sometimes the insistent desire to be free whispers and sometimes it shouts, but it is never silent.

Posted by Debbye at 07:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005

Fallujah - The Movie

Feb. 20 - This 6+ minutes film is worth watching: ARMOR GEDDON: Fallujah THE Movie.

There's a bit of tech involved, so I recommend reading this if the word Torrent in compu-speak means little to nothing to you.

(Via One Hand Clapping)

Posted by Debbye at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)

Mark Steyn speaks

Feb. 20 - Mark Steyn's regular column in The Western Standard was on Canada's least-known person, Paul Desmarais:

... there has indeed been a Canadian making a difference in the world-and if The National wanted to do a 133-part special report on him, for once they’d have enough material. Most of us know Paul Desmarais as the . . . [those ellipses in original] well, let’s hold it there: most Canadians don’t know Paul Desmarais at all. You could stop the first thousand people walking down Yonge Street and I’ll bet no one would know who he is. But the few who do know him know him as the kingmaker behind Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien and Martin. Jean Chrétien’s daughter is married to Paul Desmarais’s son. Paul Martin was an employee of M. Desmarais’s Power Corp., and his Canada Steamship Lines was originally a subsidiary of Power Corp. that M. Desmarais put Mr. Martin in charge of. In other words, Paul Martin’s public identity--successful self-made businessman, not just a career pol, knows how to meet payroll, etc.--is entirely derived from the patronage of M. Desmarais.

Imagine if Jenna Bush married the chairman of Halliburton’s son, and then George W. Bush was succeeded by a president who’d been an employee of Halliburton: Michael Moore’s next documentary would be buried under wall-to-wall Oscars and Palmes d’Or. But M. Desmarais has managed to turn Ottawa into a company town without anyone being aware of the company. .. Power Corp.’s other alumni range from Quebec premiers to Canada’s most prominent international diplomat, Maurice Strong. In fairness, you don’t have to work for M. Desmarais to reach the top of the greasy pole-Kim Campbell managed it, for about a week and a half.

And down to the heart of it:
we’re in the middle of the UN Oil-for-Fraud investigation, the all-time biggest scam, bigger than Enron and Worldcom and all the rest added together. And whaddaya know? The bank that handled all the money from the program turns out to be BNP Paribas, which tends to get designated by Associated Press and co. as a “French bank” but is, as it happens, controlled by one of M. Desmarais’s holding companies. That alone should cause even the droopiest bloodhound to pick up a scent: the UN’s banker for its Iraqi “humanitarian” program turns out to be (to all intents) Saddam’s favourite oilman.
Read the whole thing.

On a (relatively) lighter note, as the President begins his European tour, Mark Steyn asks and answers the burning question of the day: What's US policy on Europe? No giggling.

What does all this mean? Nothing. In victory, magnanimity – and right now Bush can afford to be magnanimous, even if Europe isn't yet ready to acknowledge his victory. On Thursday, in a discussion of "the greater Middle East", the President remarked that Syria was "out of step". And, amazingly, he's right. Not so long ago, Syria was perfectly in step with the Middle East – it was the archetypal squalid stable Arab dictatorship. Two years on, Syria hasn't changed, but Iraq has, and, to varying degrees, the momentum in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon (where the Syrians have overplayed their hand) is also in the Bush direction. Boy Assad finds himself in the position of the unfortunate soldier in Irving Berlin's First World War marching song, "They Were All Out Of Step But Jim".

The EU isn't the Arab League, though for much of the past three years it's been hard to tell the difference. But it, too, is out of step. The question is whether the Europeans are smart enough, like the savvier Sunnis in Iraq, to realise it. The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt compared the President's inaugural speech with Gerhard Schröder's keynote address to the Munich Conference on Security Policy last week and observed that, while both men talked about the Middle East, terrorism and 21st-century security threats, Mr Bush used the word "freedom" 27 times while Herr Schröder uttered it not once; he preferred to emphasise, as if it were still March 2003 and he were Arab League Secretary-General, "stability" – the old realpolitik fetish the Administration has explicitly disavowed. It's not just that the two sides aren't speaking the same language, but that the key phrases of Mr Bush's vocabulary don't seem to exist in Chirac's or Schröder's.

By the Way, SteynOnline is off it's brief (?!) hiatus and open for your one-stop Steyn reading spot.

Feb. 23 - Austin Bay disagrees with Mark Steyn on the death of the West:

Steyn’s “bleakest last sentence” (to quote Roger Simon) is way too fin d’siecle. Steyn writes: “This week we’re toasting the end of an idea: the death of “the West".” Try and tell that to Ukraine and Poland– and for that matter, Denmark. Post- Theo van Gogh Holland may also object.
Valid point. I too have to remind myself to distinguish between "Old" and "New" Europes.

Feb. 28 - Mark Steyn responds to Austin Bay here (scroll down.) Very worthwhile read.

Posted by Debbye at 03:00 PM | Comments (10)

Possible action in Ramadi

Feb. 20 - From an Australian news agency, Marines aim to secure city of Ramadi:

US and Iraqi troops launched a large-scale operation around the rebellious city of Ramadi today, as part of a nationwide effort to restore order in the wake of last month's election.

Troops from the 1st Marine expeditionary force, supported by Iraqi soldiers, set up a ring of checkpoints around the city, 110km west of Baghdad, and imposed an 8pm to 6am curfew under Operation River Blitz.


It was not clear if today's operation was a prelude to a larger offensive on Ramadi, which has essentially been in guerrilla hands for most of the past year.

Designated River Blitz, the offensive seems in part to be a response to the attacks on Shiite mosques during Ashura observances.

CNN reports the arrests of some persons including one linked to Zarqawi:

Iraqi police arrested Haidar Mulaqatah during a raid in the Maffaraq area of western Baquba, about 30 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province. The area has been a frequent site for insurgent attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi security forces.

Police said they also found weapons, including mortars, and equipment used to make counterfeit identification during the raid.

In another raid near Mosul on Saturday, Iraqi security forces captured another suspected insurgent.

Harbi Abdul Khudier Hammudi, who served as a colonel in the old Iraqi air force, is a leader of the Salafist Jihadist terrorist group and is believed to have been involved in several attacks against coalition forces, including the bombing of an Iraqi national guard convoy last year, police said.

And so it continues.

Feb. 21: Canoe News reports

The new operation was under way in several other Euphrates River cities in Anbar, including Heet, Baghdadi, Hadithah and the provincial capital Ramadi, the military said. Hadithah residents reported parts of the city were bombarded by coalition aircraft overnight. There was no word on casualties.

Posted by Debbye at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

World's longest hockey game

Feb. 20 - Sometimes I get so angry at the snobbery and elitism portrayed by some that I forget to remember the inherent decency and salt-of-the-earth qualities that are also a daily part of life up here. A case in point in this 9-day game in Edmonton. (The Toronto Sun also carries the story here.)

The previous record of 203 hours had been held by a group in Sudbury, Ontario, and the Edmonton players plan to finish up tomorrow after playing 240 consecutive hours. The score at one point was 1,540-1,360 with Team A leading. Sheesh, can you imagine scoring that game?

This game is being played to raise $200,000 for fighting cancer.

Feb. 21: Final score: "about" 2,500 to 2,300 and they did indeed raise more than $200,000. (Also a minor correction: the CBC link says the game was played in an outdoor rink in Sherwood Park near Edmonton.)

Speaking of long playing records, a brief career of Gordie Howe is in today's Toronto Sun. (If that name only rings a dim bell, think "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," which is a goal, an assist, and a fight.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian troops return from Afghanistan

Feb. 20 - Members of the Land Force Western Area returned to Edmonton last night after a 6-month tour in Afghanistan (Hope delivered):

"They kept Kabul, and the region around Kabul, secure in a way that allowed people to start to create normal lives, to start to build houses and invest in their future," said Brig.-Gen. Stu Beare.

"The bottom line, people are making buildings. People are building roads, people are putting in electricity in a country that had none of that during the Taliban era.

"What does that mean? That people have hope, so there's been a huge difference."

Efforts to rebuild Afghanistan are often overshadowed by the bloodier events in Iraq, but restoring stability to Afghanistan is vital to the war on terror and Canadian forces have played an important role in that endeavour.

Despite the questionable support of the Canadian government, members of the Canadian military have steadfastly adhered to their duties, and as the post below demonstrates, this has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by the public.

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

Canadians and the military

Feb, 20 - The following speaks for itself:

Letter to the Editor (one day link life) in the Sunday Toronto Sun:

This is an open letter to the individual who anonymously paid for our dinner at The Keg at the Sheppard Centre last Sunday.

As military officers, we accept our duties and responsibilities without thought of receiving thanks from the Canadian public which we serve.

Your gesture that night was truly humbling and encouraging.

To the group of us who benefitted by your generosity, the other patrons and staff at the restaurant, and colleagues of ours who were not present, your thanks that night was an example of tangible proof that Canadians do support the Canadian Forces and the missions it undertakes on behalf of all Canadians.

On behalf of ourselves, and the others you have touched -- thank you.

Major P. Brunberg

Major S. Banerrjee

Major G. Sexton

Captain J. Goetz

Captain T. Underhill

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

February 18, 2005

Mr. Dithers

Feb. 18 - Everyone's covering this, but no one does it like Paul (heh!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

Hurrah for true hockey fans

Feb. 18 - From Rocket Jones, this is the kind of story that separates the fans of the sport from fans of a team: Our Hockey is still going on.

People who love hockey are playing and/or watching other people who love hockey play. Toronto rinks never close ...

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

Adil Charkaoui freed on bail

Feb. 18 - Adil Charkaoui, (some background here,) has been freed on $50,000 bail after being held without charges for nearly two years.

Feb. 22: Morocco wants to extradite Charkaoui on the basis of an arrest warrant issued last September, but he says he's being framed.

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

That kitchen drawer

Feb. 18 - Sorry about the light posting. It was a day riddled with dumb stuff the dumbest of which was a VHS cassette which partially ejected and then stopped betwixt in and out. It seemed nothing would dislodge it and when I manually pushed it back in it wouldn't engage and the door wouldn't close.

I naturally consulted the user book (which reminds me, I have to fish it out from behind the couch where it landed) and was on the verge of turning the unit upside down and administering a series of smacks on it's, um, backside (think "catsup bottle") but remembered I had some hard plastic pie servers that were slender enough to get in on the top and bottom of the cassette and I finally coaxed it out. Victory!

The moral of this tale is: Never begudge the space given to all the stuff in that kitchen drawer (you know the drawer I mean - the one that has time-saving gadgets, twist ties, and sundry items you never use and can't even identify.)

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

Ashura 2005

Feb. 18 - Religious observances of Ashura in Iraq were again attacked by terrorists leaving at least 27 dead in Iraq blasts. By all accounts, security and police performed well and their efforts - some at the cost of their own lives - reduced the potential death toll of civilians.

I remember the shock of the Ashura terrorist attacks last year only too well. We held our breath, grieved for the dead and wounded, and wondered if a match had been lit. But there was then hope: a march in which Shi'ite and Sunni clerics disavowed sectarian strife:

In an attempt to play down sectarian divisions, Shi'ite Muslim clerics and Sunni preachers led thousands in a march from a Shi'ite suburb in eastern Baghdad to the Kazimiya district where the bombings in the capital occurred.

"We and our Sunni countrymen are, have been and always will be brothers," said Shi'ite preacher Amer al-Hussein, a senior aide to firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an outspoken opponent of the U.S.-led occupation.

Members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council also stressed the need for unity between Shi'ites and Sunnis.

"It was a crime directed not only against Shi'ites, or Islam, but against humanity," said Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a prominent Shi'ite council member. "Anyone who kills a Sunni is against the spirit of Shi'ism. And anyone who kills a Shi'ite is against the spirit of Sunnism," he said.
I continue to be impressed by the will and resilience of the Iraqi people. They are truly amazing.

Feb. 21: The current death toll has risen to 50 dead in 8 attacks. How incredibly sad.

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

February 17, 2005

Climate Change

Feb. 17 - Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette is home.

Well done, sir. And thank you.

Posted by Debbye at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

Flying Kyoto without a plan

Feb. 17 - Still no plan on how to implement Kyoto (MPs rip delays on Kyoto) but there is a dandy quote from Opposition Leader Stephen Harper:

If it costs $4 billion to achieve nothing, how much will it cost to achieve something?
The federal government does have a plan, however, on reducing pollution: a $26 million advertising campaign!

Some might think the Canadian taxpayer is a tad jaundiced on the subject of government ad campaigns.

Posted by Debbye at 12:26 PM | Comments (3)

Negroponte to be named

Feb. 17 - President Bush is just announcing the nomination of John Negroponte as the Director of National Intelligence.

I like it. I haven't closely followed Negroponte's activites as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, but as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during the run up to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom I was impressed by his consistency and focus.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)


Feb. 17 - U.S. Sec. of State Rice has said that the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Margaret Scobey, has been recalled for an "interminate" period of time (Tension mounts between U.S., Syria) and said that the U.S. has an "increasing list of problems" with Syria.

The ball is in Syria's court, but the response from Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha that Syria has cooperated with the U.S. and done everything asked of it is extremely non-substantive.

As always, it's the face down cards that are the most interesting.

14:03: Russia has just finalized a deal to sell short-range anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. They have been identified as Igla shoulder-held missiles called Strelets. A defence ministry spokesman says fears that the missiles could be used against US, British or Israeli aicraft were unwarranted because "the launching device is fixed either on tracked or wheeled gear and is not portable." (We're into tech stuff about which I know little, but if it's not portable, why the wheels? And why are wheels on a shoulder-held launcher?) [To clarify, I realize that wheels or tracks would be for the recoil but on a shoulder-launcher? Must.Google.]

The article ends on an ironic note:

Mr Putin is to meet President George W Bush in the Slovak capital Bratislava next week. They are expected to sign a deal aimed at curbing the spread of shoulder-held missile-launchers.

Posted by Debbye at 07:13 AM | Comments (4)

2 confirmed Canadian O'Reilly fans

Feb. 17 - Calgary Sun columnist Paul Jackson makes some very good points about the straitjacketed Canadian news media and admits himself to be an avid Bill O'Reilly fan (Making airwaves.)

Jackson looks at Fox coverage as a Canadian who is delighted to finally have conservative views given a respectable hearing up here, and I look at Fox coverage as an American who is relieved - and restored - to finally have American views given a respectable hearing up here. Fox isn't perfect (I find it a little too loosey-goosey and cliche-ridden) but I'd have to be either a masochist or a self-hater to tolerate CBC-style coverage of American issues.

The other confirmed fan, Mark, also watches The O'Reilly Factor nightly. This is a sweet, lovable guy who does considerate things like leaving a plate of dinner in the oven for me when I oversleep and don't eat before going to work (he knows that when I get home I'll settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich rather than spend time fixing a proper meal.) I only mention that example of niceness because he's also a pitcher who, with 3 balls on him, would just as soon drill the batter in the ribs for the walk.

Maybe it's a nebulous No Quarter Given factor that inspires viewers. One of the thing Mark likes about O'Reilly is that he doesn't pull any punches (just keep O'Reilly out of the batters box.) Oh well, whatever O'Reilly's immense appeal I seem to be missing it but don't begrudge him or his fans. After all, Fox gives me Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin and Oliver North. People who I've long followed in print are now three-dimensional and I'm loving it.

Fox News has the potential to shake things up in Canada. There is a wide gulf between what Canadians think they know about us and what they actually do know, and that lack of understanding is due in large part to the way the news media slants their coverage. Either the Canadian MSM - excluding Sun Media - don't get Americans and that's why they can't represent us fairly or they do get us and willfully represent us unfairly.

The same could be said about Canadians, by the way, who are monolithically represented by their media at home and abroad.

There is also a notable bigger lack of diversity in how news from other nations - espcially Iraq - is reported. For example, most of what Canadians knew about the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program prior to the Volcker Interim Report was through blogs and Fox News, and more than a few of them are wondering why they had not heard of the scandal before.

The Iraq elections and the Hariri assassination and subsequent reaction to it in Lebanon has focused an unflattering spotlight on Syria, and Canadians who view Fox News with an open mind may not alter their views (whatever those might be) but they will at least be exposed to facts and interpretations of those facts that have been underreported in much of the Canadian media and thus have a clearer understanding of why and how American views differ from theirs.

And to think I have al Jazeera to thank for finally gaining access to Fox News. Ironically, the former still doesn't seem to be broadcasting up here due to concerns over its potential to emit hate speech yet it is and has long been available in the repressive, facist USA.

Sigh. You don't have to actually live in Canada to understand the notion of Orwellian but it helps.

Feb. 21: Tim is definitely in! (and I like his reasoning.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:51 AM | Comments (14)

February 16, 2005

Slush scam

Feb. 16 - This was not the best day to get my T-4 slips, you know? Grits hide $9B in slush funds:

Eight years after the first foundation was set up, for instance, nine of them collectively still have over $7.7 billion of the original $9.1 billion in their bank accounts.

A handy hiding place for the Liberal government to stash its annual surplus on budget day, the foundations hand out grants for everything from hi-tech research projects to student bursaries, aboriginal counselling and, of course, "research on linguistic minorities."

Up to their boardrooms in Liberal appointees, the foundations have been officially declared "independent of government" -- that is, off-limits to the auditor general and exempt from the Access to Information Act.

Greg Weston gives some examples of foundations and how they spend our money or, in some cases, don't spend the money but let it earn a staggeringly high amount of interest.

Agencies which receive public funds yet do not have to account for them are dominating the headlines and the scandals aren't going away. The problem up here is that the party in power, be it Liberal or Conservative, uses the patronage appointments and grant system to reward its party faithful. Until an elected public official takes leadership on this issue and fights for real reform to the system itself, simply changing the party in power won't end the abuses.

Feb. 17 - One bright spot: 10 out of 18 Crown corporations will be opening their books to the Auditor General's scrutiny (and yes, the CBC is one of the 10 but they want the law amended to protect their journalistic sources. Tea leaves and animal entrails require whistleblower protection? Whatever ...)

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

The Restoration of Lebanese Sovereignty

Feb. 16 - The nice thing about chess is that all the active pieces are on the board and thus visible. In life, alas, we have to actively seek out not only partially forgotten pieces from the recent past but infer a great deal from diplomatic moves that speak symbolically rather than overtly.

In The Curtain Rises, Wretchard gives a very shrewd analysis of the withdrawal of the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, the effectiveness of the elections in Iraq as a unifying force and recalls the rumour from last year about special forces readying to take action in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.

In some respects it no longer matters whether Syria is actually guilty - the opposition forces in Lebanon have been emboldened and no fact-finding panel or U.N. inquiry will be sufficient to derail the renewed push for ending the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

The passage of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act a year and a half ago was regarded by many as a U.S. shot fired over Syria's bow. It seems incredible that Syria would orchestrate this assassination at this time, given the success of Sect. Rice's diplomatic missions to Europe and the upcoming visit of the President. One talking head on CNN speculated that France and the USA would lead a joint military mission to Lebanon. I don't know how accurate that assessment might be, but it would be another example of forming "coalitions of the willing" on case by case bases and as Lebanon is a francophonie nation, Canada may well join such a coalition.

There is a lot odd about all this. If indeed Syria did order the killing, it was either an act of incredible arrogance or one of desperation. If the latter, it may have been in part a reaction to the success of the Iraq elections -- Syria must recognize that the Ba-athist strategy of relying on al-Zarqawi to disrupt those elections backfired in a big way and they have irretrievably lost Iraq as an ally. If the former, Syria may have signaled their response to UNSC resolutions calling for an end to the occupation.

The claim of responsibility by Victory and Jihad seems little credited. Maybe the recent kidnapping of Toy Soldier Cody demonstrated the dangers of relying on "known terrorist" web sites for news and information, and the confession by Victory and Jihad that they killed former PM Harisi as payback for him being too close to Saudia Arabia could just be blatant misinformation circulated by the Syrians. After all, Saudia Arabia is Bin Laden's special hobby and it seems odd that an hitherto unknown group would insert itself in what is seen as al Qaeda's especial concern.

There are other forces in play here as well. The announcement of what amounts to a mututal defense pact between Syria and Iran (I'm tempted to label it SIP) merely formalizes what has been implicit for awhile now, and it can either be seen as surrounding Iraq or Iraq can be seen as a physical wedge between Syria and Iraq.

There are other countries that come into play here, however. Turkey, for one. There were suspicions that Syrian forces played a role in the Istanbul bomings of Nov., 2003, and those were not allayed even after Syria turned over 22 suspects.

And what about suspected involvement of Syria in the thwarted terrorist attack in Jordan in April, 2004?

[N.B. MuNu went down in media post so I'm playing catchup before I head for work. This post is not much on analysis but I'm just looking at the cards and trying to figure out if we're holding a low pair or can fill out a straight.]

19:15: Daniel Drezner has a round-up on Syria and one of the commenters speculates that Iran was behind the assassination.

Posted by Debbye at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005

Coyne Returns!

Feb. 15 - Hurray! Andrew Coyne is no longer AWOL and has some new postings on his blog including a list of the things we are supposed to believe that would even choke Alice (of six impossible things before breakfast fame) in My Saturday column [Feb. 12]:

We are asked to believe that Jean Chretien, having created the sponsorship program, having personally secured funding for the program out of the so-called “unity reserve,” having personal authority over every request for funds from that allocation and having been warned in writing by the Clerk of the Privy Council that he would thus be personally responsible for every grant made out of those funds, should accept no personal blame for anything that went wrong under the program.

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

February 14, 2005

Terror attacks in Lebanon, Phillipines

Feb. 14 - This story is still developing: Beirut Car Bomb Kills Former PM, 9 Others. Former PM Hariri's stance against Syrian occupation of Lebanon was well-known, which would tend to make Syria the number one suspect, but a group calling itself Victory and Jihad has claimed the dubious credit by reading a statement on al Jazeera. (They seem to believe Hariri was too pro-Saudi.)

In the Phillipines, Abu Sayaaf has responded to a military offensive against them and claimed responsibility for what they termed a Valentine's Day's "gift" to Pres. Arroyo - 3 bombs have killed seven and wounded over 100.

Feb. 16 - 13:30: Wretchard connects the dots beautifully.

Posted by Debbye at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

Valentines Day Means Mmm, Chocolate!

Feb. 14 - That's right, it's Valentine's Day! Chocolates aren't mandatory, of course. There's lingerie, flowers, wine, jewelry (with or without diamonds,) a nice dinner out (without the kids, definitely) or whatever special thing you can think of that is a little different.

Hey, at least a card and flowers, okay? Even if she or he said it wasn't necessary.

Make that especially if he or she said it wasn't necessary! We're all adults, and know that people often say "it isn't necessary" but they only say that because they don't want to be disappointed ... yet deep down inside is that scared thrill of anticipation just in case you thought enough of them and just had to find some way to mark this special day!

By the way, you get major bonus points for the "I just couldn't help myself" approach. It is extremely sexy.

Posted by Debbye at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

New Blog Carnival

Feb. 14 - After a lot of work, some find people bring you the New Blog Carnival Showcase Extravaganza No. 1 hosted this week by Simon World. There are some pretty good entries up which are well worth your time and believe me when I say that it took longer for the bloggers to compose them than it takes us to read them!

A lot of terrific blogs first got exposure on the (sadly) defunct New Blog Showcase run by Truth Laid Bare, and this Carnival will hopefully give new bloggers the exposure and encouragement they need.

By the way, if you have or know of a new blog (less than 3 months old) and want to submit an entry for the Feb. 21 Carnival, go here (Lucas of Celebrity Cola is hosting it) and follow the instructions.

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

Moving to Canada, eh?

Feb. 14 - The threat by disconsolate Americans that they'll pack their bags and move to Canada continues to receive hype (via No Pasaran!) but putting things in context often diminishes their impact, and Red Granger does just that in a reminder of an earlier mass migration to Canada from the USA - no, not during Vietnam War but much, much earlier.

Posted by Debbye at 07:13 AM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2005

No posting alert

Feb. 7 - Sorry, between work, sleep and helping one of my kids with his homework (!) I wasn't able to do any posting today. Two more weeks of this nutty schedule ...

Posted by Debbye at 07:42 PM | Comments (1)

February 06, 2005

Thailand elections

Feb. 6 - Exit polls (!) indicate that Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra has not only been returned to power with his party Thai Rak Thai to, but that the number of seats they hold have been substantially increased (Thai PM claims victory (07-02-2005).)

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

Reprisals in Iraq

Feb. 6 - This story (Policeman who tackled bomber is election hero) begins with the funeral and story of an heroic Iraqi policeman but concludes with some accounts of reprisals against Iraqi voters including the violent removal of purple-stained fingers.

One need only examine their deeds to reconsider the label "insurgent" and replace it with "cowardly bastard" or what may be closer to the mark: counter-revolutionary.

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

February 05, 2005

Night shifts on Friday suck

Feb. 5 - I don't handle the night shift on Fridays very well. I seem to come home Saturday morning and sleep most of the day, get up for dinner, then go back to sleep for a few more hours.

I'll just keep telling myself that this goofy schedule is only for one or two more weeks ... and really! a person can do anything through sheer force of will and determination. Right.

Good night!

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

February 04, 2005

Events catch up to pretensions

Feb. 4 - This is downright disheartening. Paul covers the story of some very sharp criticisms leveled by John Watson, head of CARE Canada, on Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) which languished in Canada for 10 days after the tsunamai hit Asian coasts until they finally arranged to rent a Russian transport for travel to Sri Lanka in I rest my case... and the criticisms cast doubt on even the value of the team's work after it arrived.

Truth is, I find it very awkward to post about Canada these days. There's a code of honour that dictates you don't kick somebody when they're down (don't remind me that some Canadians don't follow that code - I well know that!) and despite the smugness displayed by much of the media, a lot of people in Toronto and Canada are down. Just here in Toronto, today's paper tells about problems in the education system (even at the elementary level,) the transit systems and despite millions of dollars spent to fight homelessness people are still sleeping in parks and on the streets even though it's mid-winter. Nationally, the sorry tale of Canada's sub purchase reveals yet another stupid decision and the Adscam inquiry is still bogged down in conflicting testimony while questions remain unanswerable due to bookeeping that rivals that of the U.N. for careful incompetency.

The failure of the electorate to administer a sharp rebuke to the Liberal Party for corruption and mendacity is depressing. Some back home say the American press was too voracious in pursuing the Watergate story and the leads arising from the hearings, but up here I'm seeing the other side of the picture: too many in the media seem almost disinterested in learning the truth and complacently let the government investigate its own wrongdoing with the occasional plaintive bleat that the commission has uncovered little of substance.

Two main legs of Canadian identity are health care and hockey, and both are way past life-support systems.

I can't count how many times Canadians used to conclude a (usually friendly) comment about the USA with a grinning "but don't get sick there!" I never took offense (Americans are much more polite and forbearing than we're given credit for) but consider how many people died of SARS in the US and how many died here in the city of Toronto. Might it have something to do with the fact that medical personnel down there wore the proper face masks whereas they were deemed to be too uncomfortable up here? Or maybe the quaint notion of "quarantine" actually meant something in the US even when it inconvenienced people. What happened to the meme if it saves only one life, hmm? They only trot that out when it comes to coke, Twinkies and McDonald's but keep it tucked away when people are actually dying.

Today the despised American-style health system is the only resort for Canadians suffering and even dying on the waiting lists the treasured health care system offers in place of actual medical care, and some treatments are even being offered to Canadians at a discount by some enterprising American doctors.

As for hockey, Attention NHL owners, players, and assorted others: it's February, you morons, and yet you're pretending there might yet be a chance for a hockey season? This season is dead, defunct. It has passed on. Canada survived without NHL hockey and the CBC showed some pretty decent double-billed movies on Saturday nights. End of story.

So what's left when health care and hockey are out for the count? The U.N., peacekeeping forces, and moral superiority.

Exposure of the debasement of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program remains sparse and although a story today speculates about possible Canadian connections to Hussein's oil, the conflict of interest of former PM Chretien due to his familial ties to Power Corp. and thus TotalFinaElf remains an unpublicized and unexplored factor in Canada's membership in the the Axis of Weasels.

Remember when the argument would be made that Canadians had consciously reduced their military in order to nationalize a world-class health system?

Then he who was then Finance Minister and is now the Prime Minister, Paul Martin, decided to reduce the national debt by withholding money from the provinces which should have gone into the health care system. Now there's neither accessible health care nor military strength up here, but cruel history provided events in Liberia, Haiti (including the devastation of last summer's hurricanes) Sudan and a tsunamai to accentuate the harsh reality that Canada can no longer respond to international crises nor provide peacekeeping to protect innocent people from genocide. crimes against humanity.

The only leg standing (as it were) is moral superiority. Above all, Canadians are compassionate. If you don't believe me, just ask them. They will expound at length as to how much more compassionate and caring and enlightened they are than Americans. (They've even got some Americans believing it.) Why, they're close to achieving a plane of compassionate existence that's almost European! Unfortunately, they spend so much time and money proclaiming it that they never get around to actually doing much that is compassionate, caring or enlightened but a cynicism has set in that allows that it's the appearance that matters, not the deeds.

Coming back full circle, as was pointed out in the opening link, if Canada's rapid response to disaster is delayed 10 days while waiting for a foreign power to transport that team, what will happen in the event of a disaster within Canada? How will aid reach Canadians in their own country?

You know the answer to that. You know you do. Despite the recent urging of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci, don't count on Canada spending the necessary money to enable herself to become self-sufficient in the areas of self-defense at home or doing her fair part abroad.

But beware: if the day should come that they need our help, they'll hate us for it not because of what it says about us but because of what it says about them. Gratitude barely disguises resentment.

I do understand in part what lies under the surface in Canada. Canada's moral pose adopted a strikingly higher plane when the US was bitterly divided over Vietnam and demoralized over the Watergate hearings. After all, Canada was just coming out of the FLQ Crisis and needed a boost. The country was in danger of losing federal coherency so everyone rallied around a "we're better than the US" plank. And it worked.

In fact it worked so well, they were reluctant to tone it down. The media and politicos have trumpeted Canada's superiority over their American neighbours increasingly louder since the mid-70's, but as so often happens, reality is slowing catching up and there is growing recognition that Canada has become too complacent and the legs of Canadian identity and culture have become eroded.

But that's not a crime, it's just life. No nation can live up completely to its ideals, but one of life's challenges is to square our shoulders and try again. The important part is to adhere to the truths of those ideals, nourish them, and keep trying.

The deaths of U.S. soldiers and personnel as well as Iraqis unfortunate enough to be near IEDs when they went off provided a kind of comfort zone for those Canadians who have had some niggling feelings that just maybe Canada should have been on board for Operation Iraqi Freedom if only to offer moral support.

But now something has changed, or rather, everything has changed. There were real elections in Iraq in which the people of Iraq defied both the terrorists and the expectations of those with compassionate, caring, and enlightened views and, in so doing, also defied France, Russia, Belguim and Canada.

And we know that the price our sons and daughters are paying can be laid on account against the weasels because we kept our troops in the desert for several months while they pretended to debate in good faith on the U.N.S.C. all the while buying time for Saddam to set up his underground thugs.

Although far too few, however, there are indeed Canadians who have been awe-inspiring rock-freaking-solid in supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom from the onset, and they have earned the right to feel proud of the remarkable events of Sunday because they were part of it. (If you don't know who they are, look at the blogroll and I admit that it's incomplete.) Their numbers include media such as the Toronto Sun and Western Standard. (It hasn't been uncritical support, of course, but that's what friends are for.)

As for some others up here ... If they're examining their souls and wondering how they could have so misjudged the situation in Iraq then I'd advise them not to waste too much time on guilt or shame but pledge only to open their minds to the possibilility that if a stopped clock can be right twice a day, then Americans too might occasionally be right.

Those, however, who are rapidly devising a posture that denies that the success of the elections in Iraq might require a re-evaluation of their world view may as well carry on as though nothing has changed. They no longer matter.

As I wrote earlier, gratitude equals resentment, and therein lies an additional reason as to why the elections in Iraq were so important. The Iraqis need no longer feel lessened by Operation Iraqi Freedom because when it came time for them to take a stand, they alone made the decisions and took the steps toward freedom, braving the threats of those who had proven their willingness to murder them and, in that defiance, asserting the dignity of the Iraqi people beyond all measure and for all time.

One result of that renewed confidence was indicated when the citizens of the Iraqi village of al-Mudhariya fought off an insurgent attack, killing 5 and wounding 8, and then burnt the insurgents' car! (link via Best of the Web Today)

It's become much more simple now. The mission in Iraq is far from over but we have a new member in the Coalition of the Willing: the Iraqis, and this coalition has something the Axis of Weasels could never have - a mandate from the Iraqi people.

The counter-offensive began yesterday, and there are once again families in the US and Iraq who are bereaved. Press advisories come into my inbox advising me of the names and heartbreakingly young ages of the Americans who have lost their lives. It's not fair. It's wrong. It hurts. But we won't be deterred.

You see, we Americans share a national dream that has returned to the fore with renewed vigor and energy. I look forward to that day when all the peoples of the world can join hands and bear witness to the stirring power of Dr. King's words as he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and echo his words saying, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, [insert deity or deities] we are free at last!"

Correction: Feb. 7 - Dr. King's speech was delivered in the steps of the Lincoln Memorial not the Washington Monument as I initially wrote.

Posted by Debbye at 08:22 AM | Comments (16)

Love in the blogosphere

Feb. 4 - He proposed! She accepted!

Click on "read more" for a wonderful, loving picture.

Green Baron and Karen

Posted by Debbye at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2005

Benon faces disciplinary action

Feb. 3 - Report Rips Management of Oil-for-Food and Kofi Annan has ordered disciplinary action (even though Sevan has already retired.) There is the possibility of legal action but in what court? The main victims are the Iraqi people but I doubt they'd be allowed to try him.

A partial transcript of Mr. Volcker's report to the Independent Inquiry Committee is here during which he explains what the report covers and what it does not.

The report (.pdf) is available here and here but I haven't been able to bring either site up up (it's probably deluged with visitors.)


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

For you, Nik

Feb. 3 - It was, after all, inevitable: Bush captures bin Laden.

(via Ace via The Corner.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Volcker Report on U.N. Oil-for-Food Program

Feb. 3 - I hope last night's State of the Union Address doesn't distract too much attention from the release of the interim Volcker Report scheduled for 3 p.m. today. One preview is in Judith Miller's report in the New York Times, Inquiry Faults U.N.'s Oil-for-Aid Program. Unfortunately, the interim report is to be printed in the Wall Street Journal and thus is behind a paid subscription wall.

I don't know how accurate the Miller piece is and prefer to wait until the interim report itself is more widely available before accepting paraphrases over statements contained in the report itself, but the consensus from different sources seems to be that the U.N. is guilty of gross mismanagement, allowing conflicts of interest and failing to meet its own guidelines in awarding oil contracts.

(At one point Miller calls the report an "essay," which is a red flag for me and why I'm not too comfortable with her analysis.)

The best coverage will in all likelihood be by the vigilant people at Friends of Saddam who were (naturally) on top of the story early this morning.

Some links for those who want to brush up on fairly recent developments in UNSCAM including questions about Volcker's possible conflict-of-interest centering on his connections with PowerCorp, Paribas and Total and revelations about Kojo Annan's role in the investigation:

Volcker's Business Ties Raise Questions;

U.N didn't ask Volcker to disclose his financial ties and this opinion piece from the New York Post on that conflict;

Samir Vincent's testimony points to second UN official;

Paul Volcker search results from Telegraph for the very curious (why the Telegraph? because they were on top of this story from the beginning and are more accessible than the WSJ);

From the Sunday Times: Kojo Annan admits oil dealing. (Link from Norman's Spectator;)

From Fox: Oil-for-Food Probe Includes Annan's Son (Fox also has links to the Duelfer Report (in .pdf format) on that page);

Lastly, something that I think ties in with general questions about what constitutes a conflict of interest and full disclosure in the media as well as the public sphere, a transcript of a syposium on Bloggers, journalists and citing conflicts of interest which I feel by inference rebuts the argument that it was okay for Paul Volcker not to cite his conflict of interest because Annan didn't ask him to do so.

One caution: the investigation has reportedly not uncovered any evidence that U.N. officials actually accepted bribes, but getting requested documents remains difficult and whoever originally pointed out that this could far eclipse Enron has been proven prophetic.

I have the same question now as I had when this story first broke in 2003:

For what purpose, exactly, was the 2.2% administration fee levied by the U.N. on the Oil-for-Food Program?

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

New Blog Carnival

Feb. 3 - Simon is announcing the premier of the New blog carnival to be held February 14.

Word of this phenomenon dubbed the blogosophere is spreading. Between Memogate and Toygate and (perhaps soon Jordangate, Gunrunner Kerrygate and [Sarah] Boxergate,) there is growing awareness that the former gatekeepers of information are failing to ensure accuracy when they promote unsubstantiated charges and failing to go after the truth when it doesn't serve their political ends.

Granted, I am more into political blogging, but the old TLB Showcase also brought attention to many writers, poets and word artists who flourish on the internet and they too are part of this growing community.

So if you know of a new blog (or if you are a new blog) go here to make a submission and be watching for it on February 14.

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

2005 State of the Union Address

Feb. 3 - I just finished watching the SOTU address (I had taped it)) and call me a shameless cheerleader but I liked it.

The proposal early in the speech to eliminate more than 150 government programs certainly caught my attention. I anticipate the Democrats will fight that tooth and nail ... possibily just as forcefully they will fight changes to the Social Security Act (although it will be somewhat disguised.)

Sigh. The mantra that failed programs just need more money is uniquitous in Toronto, too.

Americans are optimists by nature, and certain Democrats, currently knowns as the Purveyors of Doom and Gloom, are causing more and more people to shrug dismissively - especially as the Iraqi people have courageously proved themselves to be front and center in the war against terrorism rather than the helpless, trembling victims the U.N. (and Jimmy Carter) prefer them to be.

I was somewhat shocked by amateurish nature of the Democratic Party's rebuttal. Who on earth writes for these people? (My son has suggested that they write their own speeches, and therein lies the problem.)

Afghanistan. Palestinian territories. Ukraine. Iraq. Rebut those voters. Freedom is indeed on the march, and those who stand in the way might now, finally, re-examine the basis of their opposition.

The NY Times' Quote of the Day is the President's statement "I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer." Bingo. Stop your whining and obstructing, come up with rational, workable alternatives and bring your proposals to me (him) for active consideration.

The text of the speech as delivered is here.

12:55: Good analysis of what the president's speech may spell out for Iran (via Instapundit.

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

Blogroll Changes (cont.)

Feb. 3 - This should complete the update of the blogroll and side banners for now.

Rachel Lucas is at Blue-Eyed Infidel.

Andrea Harris is at Victory Soap.

I am overdue at adding Thoughtcrimes.ca.

The presidential campaign buttons have been replaced by America Supports You, a new initiative dedicated to ways civilians and civilian agencies can suport the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. If you haven't yet heard of this you can read more here.

12:30: It's ain't over until ... nevermind. Also added Hugh Hewitt and moved Colby Cosh up to News and Commentary.

Andrew Coyne has gone MIA. He was reportedly last seen in a battle to the death with Evil Software but he and a few others who seem to be missing may yet emerge victorious. (Or, to put it more prosaically, blogging demands a substantial committment of time and energy and sometimes other aspects of our lives need attending.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

UN envoy horrified by attacks in Darfur

Feb. 3 - The top U.N. envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has urged that peace be achieved before the January 2006 African Union summit which is to be held in Khartoum (Darfur attacks horrify U.N. envoy.)

He noted something that has been fairly obvious to most people who've been following the situtation in Darfur:

Pronk said one of the most worrying points of the report was that these human rights abuses were continuing during the investigation, between November and January.
He's right to be worried, because those engaged in the genocide crimes against humanity don't care about the investigation, the report or the U.N.

I'm sorry if I seem snippy. I'm sure the U.N. envoy means well, but attacks on civilians by the Janjaweed have been widely reported for nearly a year yet the situation remains unchanged and the U.N. continues to dither, delay and argue definitions rather than look at what is being done to the (former) inhabitants of the Darfur region.

Maybe the U.N. should change it's motto to "It's Your World (Until Someone Makes you Re-Locate.")

Pronk did have some good words to say about the African Union troops dispatched to the region as truce observers and urged that more be sent, and although he stopped short of accusing the Sudanese government of complicity, he did urge them to stop making low flights over the areas because it might give the impression that they are doing reconnaissance for the Jajaweed.

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

February 02, 2005

16 year olds voting?

Feb. 2 - Why does the goofier stuff that comes up in California always show up next in Canada? Now there is an "all party push to give 16-year-olds the right to vote."

Apparently many teens think it's a dumb idea.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (4)

Blogroll changes

Feb. 1 - Changes to the blogroll:

The Meatrearchy finally left blogspot and can be found here.

Mudville Gazette highly recommends Cigars in the Sand and I Should Have Stayed Home.... Thanks, Greyhawk.

Sobering Thoughts should have been on already ...

Allah Is In the Poorhouse!

I realize a lot of urls in the blogroll are inactive (I ususally try to keep up with actual changes to web addresses) so this is to be an ongoing project.

Posted by Debbye at 04:05 PM | Comments (2)

Meet our demands or the toy gets it!

Feb. 2 - So-called U.S. hostage appears to be toy. Is it possible that these would-be terrorists have a sense of humour? I can't help thinking that, on some level, that prospect contains a grain of hope.

15:55: Ace is also covering the story. Be sure and read the comments!

16:23 From Best of the Web Today, Douglas Kern at Tech Central reports that it was The Slinky who betrayed Cody and led him into the ambush where they encountered (shudder) Eeeevil Bert.

I really meant to do some serious posting today, but between Toy Story and coping with the "comments" left by spambots I'm tapped out. (Die, You Worthless Parasites, Die!) More tomorrow.

20:14: Looks like the poker site dude wasted Nicholas's day also.

20:55: My oh my, the spammers have been busy. Wish I had thought of issuing this.

Posted by Debbye at 07:00 AM | Comments (2)

February 01, 2005

A Reluctant Warrior

Feb. 1 - I meant to cruise around blogs a bit (I'm shamefully behind on my reading) but I stumbled over something that I think readers will enjoy: Revising History is easy from Blather Review.

Guaranteed to bolster the faltering heart, this thoughtful essay calls on us "to reclaim the very human nature of moral clarity from the circular doubt of a cynical academic approach."

I wish I had said that!

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

Canada and Iraq

Feb. 1 - Official Canadian reaction to Sunday's elections in Iraq pretty much followed those of France, Russia and Germany focusing praise on the courage of the Iraqi voters. The link is to the Toronto Star's article Bush capitalizes on Iraq election and despite the spin in it, I'd like to note that the Star did acknowledge the importance of the elections yesterday (check out some of the links in the box to the right of the article and this account by an Iraqi in Baghdad is a must read but I'm issuing a crying alert for it) before they rushed into quoting those calling for a partial birth abortion specific plans for an 'exit strategy.'

I recall that the president has already announced his timetable for withdrawal from Iraq: to leave when the job is done. Works for me.

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

Mark Steyn

Feb. 1 - Mark Steyn comments on the recent elections in Iraq, a demonstration in Spain which protested those elections and makes other trenchant observations in his Telegraph (UK) column Iraq is now the home of the brave - and soon the free. He draws a brilliant picture of one of the many ways ripples of freedom spread:

... The most fascinating detail in the big picture was this: Iraqi expats weren't voting just in Sydney and London and Los Angeles, but also in Syria. Think about that. If you're an Iraqi in Syria, you can vote for the political party of your choice. If you're a Syrian in Syria, you have no choice at all. Which of those arrangements is the one with a future?
Want more Steyn? He officially announces the addition of election fiasco in Iraq to "post-9/11 Western media fictions" alongside the brutal Afghan winters, seething Arab street, etc., in his column The 'civil war' that wasn't in The Australian (latter link via Tim Blair.)

10:40: Hmm. Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, so I suggest that all reflexively anti-American negativists and nay-sayers look for their shadows tomorrow and if they don't see a civil war and if we haven't begun construction of an oil pipeline across Afghanistan and if we aren't stealing Iraqi oil then they'll just shut up for the next 6 weeks!

Bonus points if they just stay in their holes for the next 6 weeks.

Posted by Debbye at 08:00 AM | Comments (2)