March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo dies

Mar. 31 - Terri Schiavo Dies at the age of 41

Posted by Debbye at 11:04 AM | Comments (20)

States respond to Schiavo issues

Mar. 31 - From the NY Times, States are taking a new look at end-of-life legislation (alternate and longer-life link from the UPI-Washington Times article on the same subject here if you don't want to register with the NYT.)

Some legislative proposals are drawn straight from the battle between Terri Schiavo's parents and her husband. Among them is the Alabama Starvation and Dehydration Prevention Act, which would forbid the removal of a feeding tube without express written instructions from the patient. And a legislator in Michigan is writing a bill that would bar adulterers from making decisions for an incapacitated spouse.

In other cases, state lawmakers want to make living wills more widely available or simply to clarify the laws that govern the fate of someone in Ms. Schiavo's position. She left no written instructions.

New end-of-life legislation has been introduced in at least 10 states. ..


In Michigan, Representative Joel Sheltrown, the author of a proposal to strip people who are having extramarital affairs of their right to make decisions for an incapacitated spouse, is a Democrat, meaning he may have an uphill battle in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

But Mr. Sheltrown was not the only one to entertain such a notion. Last week Ken Connor, a legal adviser to Governor Bush on the Schiavo case, said Florida should have such a law. Opponents of Ms. Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, say he should not be allowed to make medical decisions for his wife because he is living with another woman.

Other bills seek to draw a line between a feeding tube and other life-sustaining measures. In Louisiana and Alabama, Republicans have introduced bills that would assume, in the absence of a written directive, that a patient wanted food and water. In Louisiana, the bill would require that a feeding tube remain in place until any litigation over its removal was resolved. In Alabama, Representative Dick Brewbaker, the bill's Republican sponsor, said he would probably make the law apply only in the event of a family dispute.

And so the process to fix the process begins.

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

From euthanasia to ... where?

Mar. 31 - While Americans struggle with hearts and minds over the many issues that have been brought to the fore during her parents' fight to save their daughter, Terri Schiavo, the Dutch are now contemplating what should be done when doctors decide it's best to kill infants, the mentally handicapped or the demented. From AP:

THE DUTCH government, first to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill people, will tackle an even thornier ethical dilemma: What to do when doctors say it's best to end the lives of infants, the mentally handicapped or the demented. The Royal Dutch Medical Association says guidelines and a panel of experts should be created to vet such cases. Doctors acting with the families' permission would not be punished for administering lethal sedatives to "people with no free will" in cases that pass review.

Under current law, euthanasia is restricted to terminal patients suffering unbearable pain with no hope of improvement and who, when they are still of sound mind, request to die.

I began this post over 45 minutes ago and I'm still groping for words. This has just got to be some kind of twisted joke. Real people, the kind who can walk upright and string words together to form coherent sentences, could not be contemplating such barbarity.

Posted by Debbye at 08:46 AM | Comments (10)

March 30, 2005

Don't mess with Ann

Mar. 30 - Not entirely a surprise: Ann Coulter causes stir at KU although the headline is misleading - usually, it's the hecklers who are said to cause the stir.

Or maybe they didn't approve of her solution:

"Could 10 of the largest College Republicans start walking up and down the aisles and start removing anyone shouting?" Coulter asked.
(Link via Drudge Report.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:17 PM | Comments (23)

Kassem Daher charged as money raiser for al Qaeda

Mar. 30 - An former Edmonton man, Kassem Daher, was named as a money-raiser for al Qaeda and is believed to have operated movie theatres towards that end.

Daher hasn't resided in Edmonton since 1998.

In 2000, he was arrested in Lebanon after a shootout between police and alleged terrorists. After his arrest, Daher's relatives denied he was ever involved in terrorism and urged the Canadian government to intervene on his behalf. He was never formally charged with a crime in Lebanon or Canada and has been free on bail for the past year, Barbara Campion, a spokeswoman for CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) told CanWest News Service on Tuesday.


Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami released a 14-page affidavit sworn out by FBI agent John T. Kavanaugh detailing what he described as the "Jayyousi-Daher-Hassoun North American Support Network" for Islamic terror.

"The investigation of Jayyousi, Daher (and) Hassoun began in late 1993 and revealed that they had formed a network across North America to fundraise for and recruit mujahedeen to train and fight in various jihad areas including but not limited to Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Somalia," the affidavit states.

"During the times relevant to this investigation, Daher resided in Leduc, Canada."

FBI surveillance teams recorded numerous conversations between the three men and others involved in the network, including onetime leader Mohamed Zaky, who died in 1995 fighting in Chechnya.

The tapes are said to have Daher describing his money-laundering, and one 1995 tape involves a conversation between two of the men in which they discussed their efforts to raise money to move "jihadist soldiers between Algeria, Egypt, Somalia, and Eritrea." They also expressed their wish they could raise enough money to send soldiers to Chechnya.:
"Daher and Jayyousi also discussed setting up a for-profit business in order to fund jihad," the affidavit states. "Daher then mentioned his organization, the Canadian Islamic Association, which he described as a 'cover, I mean it's very good.' "
Jayyousi is in U.S. federal custody in Detroit and was scheduled to appear in court today. Daher is believed to still be in Lebanon.

I ran a google to find the Canadian Islamic Association and found that it is a registered organization, has a business license in Leduc (among other places,) and was cited in an item at the Canadian Newspaper Association web site: Muslim chastizes Canadian media for erroneous coverage of Islam and terrorism.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

MPs must learn about the sex trade abroad

Mar. 30 - Five upstanding, hardworking Members of Parliament plan to spend $200,000 visiting brothels in Europe and the USA.

Don't worry, it's legit. Really. The MPs are members of a federal committee that is reviewing prostitution laws (some people, including sex workers, believe the trade should be legal and taxed.)

An MPP (member of provincial parliament) made the federal MPs a counter offer: MPP Peter Kormos (NDP) [said] "We're talking about five federal members on a junket touring European whorehouses at a cost of $40,000 each," Kormos said yesterday. "I can take anyone of them down to Bridge St. in Niagara Falls and get them laid for less than $50."

Give up the glories of "Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Nevada" for a weekend trip to Niagara Falls? Save the taxpayers the unnecessary expense of travel abroad when the "research" could be done in our own backyard?

Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell does a nice bit of commentary on this in Merry mission. As he says, "For once, call it what it is. The $200,000 sin city soiree, the vice-is-nice world tour, one jolly junket."

He also has some questions about other aspects of the spending:

The cash to cruise goes to five MPs and three staff for transportation, hotel, food and ... I hate this word ... miscellaneous. In this case, miscellaneous means money for interpreters, gifts and fees. Gifts and fees? Are there going to be receipts?
It's almost a relief to be able to laugh at them again ... does all this indicate that elected officials believe they're in office for a good time, not a long time?

Apr. 12 - The trip may be off.

Posted by Debbye at 12:41 PM | Comments (2)

Tuning Spork answers Neal Boortz

Mar. 30 - Tuning Spork made a wonderfully terse comment on an earlier post that summed up the base line in the Terri Schiavo case: At some point we gotta, finally, ask ourselves if the value of life is worth the value of a Life.

Tuning Spork rips apart Neal Boortz's weird column on why Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die. (Did I say weird? It was beyond weird, and read more as though Boortz drew the short straw when they were divvying up debate positions in journalism class.)

Tuning Spork answers Boortz as perhaps only a sometimes-agnostic sometimes-atheist can do in by looking at science, not metaphysics, and uses logic rather than New Age out-of-body experiences.

He also uses some more excellently blunt language:

What we are forgetting about here is that God instructs us on how to live. This is IT, folks. This is the Test. This is the time. This is who we are. Right frickin' NOW!
Exactly. Exactly.

The ongoing debate really isn't about religion, scriptural verses, or anything other than Who.We.Are, and if we have retained sufficient humility to know that we don't know the answers to everything, and therefore, as there is doubt, chose to do no harm.

It wasn't that long ago that liberals were arguing cases for the mentally and physically handicapped and urging that every effort should be made to try to teach and provide therapy that would allow them to experience the fullest lives of which they were capable despite their disabilities.

Or maybe I am one of the few who remembers the advocacy for newborns who were diagnosed with Down's Syndrome and had been allowed to die by withholding nourishment.

Posted by Debbye at 06:27 AM | Comments (7)

Volcker Interim Report Pt. 2 (updated)

Mar. 30 - The second part of the Volcker Interim Report (on the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal) is available in .pdf here.

Note: I was unable to view ithe document until I updated my version of Adobe Acrobat. If you're having problems, try googling "Adobe Acrobat + [insert your OS]" to find a link that will upgrade properly.

Link via Roger L. Simon, who comments on the report here and on some pre-report information here and here (although I doubt I need tell anyone who has followed this scandal to read Roger!)

14:25 - The Montreal Gazette thinks that the Volcker Interim Report did not clear Kofi Annan of wrongdoing but left it up to the public to connect the dots themselves. Oh, those shredded documents ...

Posted by Debbye at 05:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

Mohamed Harkat

Mar. 29 - Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa resident, faces deportation to Algeria after a federal judge ruled that he was a terrorist on March 22 and poses a threat to national security:

Judge Eleanor Dawson ruled that two federal cabinet ministers made a reasonable decision in December 2002 when they concluded that Mr. Harkat was a member of al-Qaeda, the world's foremost terrorist organization.

And she flatly dismissed Mr. Harkat's sworn testimony, during which he denied any connection to terrorism or the al-Qaeda network, as the work of a liar.

There is credible, reliable information from a number of independent sources, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), that contradicts Mr. Harkat's evidence, the judge said.

"On the basis of the confidential information," she said, "it is clear and beyond doubt that Mr. Harkat lied under oath to the court in several important respects."

The judge is not required to divulge the confidential information that led to her decision, but she reportedly said that
... she did not rely on the evidence of Mr. Zubayda, who was thought by Mr. Harkat's defence team to be a linchpin in the government's case.
There are allegations that Zubayda was tortured by the U.S. military to obtain information.
Judge Dawson said she could not rely upon Mr. Zubayda's evidence because she was not told exactly what he said or the circumstances under which he identified Mr. Harkat.

Mr. Zubayda had been the only informant identified by the court as giving credible evidence against Mr. Harkat.

As a result, the defence team spent considerable time trying to establish that Mr. Zubayda had been tortured into giving that evidence.

Mr. Copeland said the experience highlights the "impossibility" of defending someone against a security certificate: "In these cases, you have no idea of the case you have to meet, and you have no idea of how to meet it.

"It is a process that is unfair and violates fundamental justice. But the courts don't seem to agree with me on that issue."

Indeed, Judge Dawson defended the process in her decision, arguing that it is constitutionally sound and offers fundamental justice to foreign citizens accused of terrorism.

The judge concluded there were reasonable grounds to find Mr. Harkat is a member of al-Qaeda who has repeatedly lied to Canadian officials about his terrorist links.

Mr. Harkat came to Canada in 1995 after five years in Pakistan, during which time he said he worked as a warehouse manager for the Muslim World League.

But Judge Dawson said there's reasonable grounds to believe Mr. Harkat travelled to Afghanistan during the early 1990s and developed an association with Mr. Zubayda, who ran two al-Qaeda training camps.

Harkat also was allegedly associated with Ahmed Khadr:
The judge found that Mr. Harkat was also unbelievable when he described his relationship with Ahmed Said Khadr, a known associate of Osama bin Laden's who was once the ranking al-Qaeda member in Canada. (Mr. Khadr was killed in the fall of 2003 during a gun battle with Pakistani forces after fleeing Afghanistan.)

Mr. Harkat admitted on the witness stand that he met Mr. Khadr in Ottawa and travelled with him to Toronto by car. Mr. Harkat claims he met Mr. Khadr through his roommate, Mohamed El Barseigy, and that he did not converse at length with him during a five-hour ride to Toronto.

Judge Dawson concluded that testimony was "inherently implausible and incredible."


Judge Dawson's decision on the reasonableness of the security certificate cannot be appealed to a higher court.

Posted by Debbye at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Increase of Predator fleet

Mar. 29 - One of my favourite tools in our arsenal is a Predator armed with a Hellfire missile. It has the elegance of hitting them when they least expect it, and the tactical advantage of making them feel (rightly) vulnerable - by the time you see it, it's too late.

I am pleased that there are plans to increase the fleet which Murdoc has covered here and he also provides the link to a video of a Predator firing a hellfire missile.

Posted by Debbye at 03:36 PM | Comments (10)

Bush, Fox and Martin met (and accomplished nothing)

Mar. 29 - I probably should have commented on the the meeting between PM Paul Martin, Pres. Bush and Pres. Fox but I was too irritated that the press up here kept calling them The Three Amigos (doesn't anyone up here speak enough Spanish to know that amigos means friends?) (and yes, I saw the stupid movie) and it wasn't as though it was more than a meeting for public consumption, the "We are family" kind of public appearance in which the press up here imagines Important Stuff is going on and the rest of us are wondering if Presidents Fox and Bush managed to reach some understanding about the growing numbers of illegal immigrants undocumented workers that are coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

But there was some interesting commentary too. Greg Weston in Smiling Texans, glum Canucks notes too that nothing really happened at the meeting between Bush and Martin.

I agree with that assessment, unless "more of the same" counts. Measures for Establishing North American Security since Sept. 11 have been announced after every meeting between Canada and the USA and will likely continue to be announced after every future meeting. The press keeps reporting on that as though it's really news, so either they are dumb enough to actually believe it this time or they haven't noticed yet that the it's the same, tired press release. (I guess that also translates to being dumb. Whatever.)

Back to the meeting. There are actually real outstanding issues between Canada and the USA involving (what else?) trade. For those keeping score:
Soft wood lumber - no resolution.
The cow thing - no resolution.
Lunch - BBQ or Thai?

Douglas Fisher thinks Canada should be more curious about George but I suspect his advice is falling on deaf ears (if that's what you call people who have their fingers stuck firmly in their ears.)

Bob MacDonald's column notes that Martin actually stepped foot on the ranch, something Chretien never accomplished, and received a gift from the President - a pair of cowboy boots. (Make your own joke. I'm not touching it - besides, my heart is set on a pair like Condi's. Mmm.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:05 PM | Comments (2)

Army deserters in Canada

Mar. 29 - Cliff Cornell is an army deserter who is now a peace volunteer and one of 8 deserters all of whom want to stay in Canada.

From Mar. 25, Jeremy Hinzman will appeal the refugee board decision which denied him asylum status (Dodger insists: I'll stay) yet as the headline indicates, there is a persistent attempt to evoke the Vietnam era by terming him a dodger - he is not a draft dodger but a deserter, having voluntarily joined the US Army and even served in Afghanistan.

Supporters of Hinzman claim the decision was pro-war advancing the notion again that it was "illegal" and "Bush's war," despite the fact that it was approved by Congress.

Bill O'Reilly had it wrong, by the way, when he talked about the case. The decision by the appeal board had little to do with concerns over U.S.-Canada relations and more to do with the large number of claimants seeking asylum that arrive in Canada each year and a population that has grown increasingly suspicious of the process due to a large number of bogus claimants. Hinzman's assertion that he would be harshly punished pales in comparison to the real dangers people face were they to be returned to their native lands and indicated his real contempt for genuine asylum seekers who don't face jail but face torture and death.

Refugee claimants are already viewed with cynicism. Hinzman may well have hoped to capitalize on anti-American sentiment but had the refugee board granted his request it would have set a precedent for granting asylum on political bases rather than humanitarian and would have further undercut the credibility of the board.

Posted by Debbye at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

He's ba-a-a-ck

Mar. 29 - I'm referring to the King of Snark, Paul, who has some new posts up. My favourite (because I love it when Paul gets nasty satirical) is This Week in Revisionist History in which Paul notes a number of measures that seem to defraud history, much as air-brushing the cigarette from Satre's lips has done. For example, he wonders about the sudden urge to remove a statue of Franco in Spain:

Don't get me wrong, I can understand when statues are toppled by people during revolutions, and I'm all for that, but when the people can't be bothered to go out and destroy the bloody thing themselves, I find these arbitrary governmental decisions peculiar, especially when, like in this case, it's so long after the man's death, and calling the statue a "symbol of division" seems like a rather flimsy excuse (not to mention that, considering Zapatero's core beliefs, it seems like nothing but a settling of scores with someone who can't fight back; if Franco was alive, I suppose that Zapatero would have gone with his usual drop pants, pass the KY solution).
That's Paul in his Take-No-Prisoners Mode. Read the other posts while you're there - you won't be disappointed.

Posted by Debbye at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)

The Code of Hammurabi (updated)

Mar. 29 - Education just isn't what it used to be: Death Penalty Tossed Over Jury's Bible Study:

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.

On a 3-2 vote, justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life in prison without parole for kidnapping 25-year-old cocktail waitress Rhonda Maloney in 1994, raping her at gunpoint for two hours and then fatally shooting her.

The jurors in Harlan's 1995 trial sentenced him to die, but defense lawyers discovered five of them had looked up Bible verses, copied them down and talked about them while deliberating a sentence behind closed doors.

The Supreme Court said "at least one juror in this case could have been influenced by these authoritative passages to vote for the death penalty when he or she may otherwise have voted for a life sentence." [Irritating (search) notations deleted]

As an aside, I have yet to meet anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the Bible who needed to write the one cited passage down. It's only one of the most well known passages in the Bible, so there must be more to the story that is being reported, and now I'm curious as to what passages were relatively unknown and actually needed to be written out.

But the real curiosity was in the findings of the appeal. The judge should have known that the legal concept of equal punishment for equal transgression was actually codified by a Babylonian king in 2500 B.C. in what has come to be known as the The Code of Hammurabi which systematically organized earlier laws into one code:

The code then regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society. The judge who blunders in a law case is to be expelled from his judgeship forever, and heavily fined. The witness who testifies falsely is to be slain. Indeed, all the heavier crimes are made punishable with death. Even if a man builds a house badly, and it falls and kills the owner, the builder is to be slain. If the owner's son was killed, then the builder's son is slain. We can see where the Hebrews learned their law of "an eye for an eye." These grim retaliatory punishments take no note of excuses or explanations, ..
On second reading, maybe the judge had his own reasons to consider the potential influence of the Code to be dangerous.

Oh well, at least weird stuff is finally coming out of Colorado again (All the, um, semi-oddball states have to do their part, you know.)

(No offense intended to residents of Colorado. I'm a native of California, so I get that you may be tired of everyone thinking you're all crazy.)

(Really, I more than get it. I endured years of strange looks when I told people I was from California. They either thought I was either crazy to leave or as nutty as a fruitcake just because I was born there. You just gotta know when you can't win.)

Mar. 30 - 02:20 Many thanks to commenter TimR for providing a link to the NY Times article on the Co. Supreme Court ruling which has much more context than the Fox report.

Mr. Harlan is one deranged man. His victim escaped and waved down a passing vehicle, Harlan caught up with them, shot the motorist leaving her paralyzed and then shot and killed his first victim. He did not kill on impulse but exhibited a cold determination to kill.

The defense lawyers brought up the Bible (it's inferred that this happened during statements before the jury retired to consider the sentence) and urged the jurors to consult Biblical wisdom, including the mercy God showed to Abraham (referring to Isaac, I assume.)

Legal experts said that Colorado was unusual in its language requiring jurors in capital felony cases to explicitly consult a moral compass. Most states that have restored the death penalty weave in a discussion of moral factors, lawyers said, along with the burden that jurors must decide whether aggravating factors outweigh mitigating factors in voting on execution.
Furthermore, the judge instructed the jury "to think beyond the narrow confines of the law" and that "each juror ... must make an 'individual moral assessment,' in deciding whether Mr. Harlan should live." The Supreme Court could have found the judge erred in his instructions, but the article only states
The Bible, the court said, constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the court called a "higher authority.
Professor Howard J. Vogel is quoted in the article to say "I don't think it's a religious text that's the problem here, but rather whether something is being used that trumps the law of the state."

Personal moral compasses and reliance on "higher authorities" have long trumped the law of the state and many brave souls, such as the early Christian martyrs, Henry David Thoreau, John Brown, Susan B. Anthony, those who sheltered Anne Frank and defied Nazi law, Mahatma Ghandi, Dr. King, and thousands of freedom marchers have disobeyed the law and inspired millions more and, by their appeal to the moral compasses of others, profoundly changed the world for the better.

Moral compasses have long trumped the law because when it does not do so we silently allow gays, Jews, gypsies and other "undesirables" to be transported to gas chambers, we do not challenge laws that legislate second class citizenship within our nations, and we stand idly by while genocide is committed in places like Iraq, Rwanda and Sudan.

Free people have moral compasses. Sheep do not.

Colorado Conservative Darren has some reflections on the decision and more information about the Colorado ruling.

Posted by Debbye at 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

March 28, 2005

The young, the younger and the elderly

Mar. 28 - Hello everyone! We spent a fairly intensive family-filled weekend. Mark's brother came down from Sault Ste. Marie to attend a bridge tournament here and we managed to catch up on family news and solve most of the world's problems (funny how much of that goes on in living rooms!)

I always have mixed feelings on holidays. There's the ubiquitous nostalgia for the days when we'd hide the eggs anticipating the fun as the kids would uncover them in the most unlikely places (although the dog beat them all on that score!) but those memories contrast sharply with the living reality of seeing competent, adult children who managed to turn out alright despite our fumbling, learn-it-as-you-go approach to child-raising. Raising children is a humbling experience, and even though one does everything one can to protect them from every conceivable danger and to teach them right from wrong, there is simply no certainty and far too often unpredictable luck saves, teaches, and/or hurts them.

The news over the weekend seemed dominated with issues of life and death, and in two of the instances the parents have been at the forefront. It was sobering, to say the least.

Terri Schiavo and the determination of her parents to save her continued to figure prominently in the news, and I think one aspect of her case that younger reporters don't understand is the horror of losing a child. I keep hearing interviews with people referring to making similar decisions on behalf of their parents or with others who believe the case has become personal because we might each be a Terri, but but that completely misses the point.

What would we do were one of our children in Terri's state? One thing I never envisioned would be that I might have to talk to my kids about what they would want us to do should they be in such a condition and it's not a conversation I am looking forward to. (We chose to avoid it at Eastertime. It seemed wrong to have such a conversation while we were celebrating the triumph of life over death.)

We know that we will eventually have to say goodbye to our parents or that we could be struck down and left half-way between life and death, but what parent really expects to bury their child? There's a good reason we have the phrase "a parent's worst nightmare" and it's because such thoughts rarely intrude in our waking moments (in large part because we hastily push them aside - who could abide such thoughts without going mad?) The struggle around Terri Schiavo has a specific personal content for those of us with adult children and raises questions that are not easily answered.

When do we really give up guardianship over our children? Does marriage supercede parental care? I've tried to avoid attacking Michael Schiavo because I can't see into his heart and it is quite possible that he believes he is following Terri's wishes, but I don't understand why he has failed to authorize medical procedures that have been developed over the past fifteen years or aggressive therapy techniques that could have improved her condition. Most parents would pursue any and all courses that might restore, even partially, their child.

It is so easy to assume that we would not want to live in such and such a condition, but humans have a stubborn tendency to fight to live despite terrible pain and our instinct for surivival is not a thing stemming from our heads but from our hearts, and that instinct for survival includes the lengths to which we will go to save our children.

The Constitutional issues this case has stirred are not easily resolved, but there seems a clear antagonism between the executive and legislative branches - federal and state - and the judiciary which exceeds the definitions of federal and state jurisdictions. I tend to refrain from hoping that Gov. Jeb Bush will violate the law, which he would be doing should he defy the courts, but that's reflective mostly of a reluctance to see a publicly elected official put himself above the legally installed judiciary and the implications of such an act.

Yet the governor of a state can legally intervene to stop a legally ordered execution of a prisoner on death row. It doesn't make sense to allow the power to grant life in that instance but not in Terri's.

The intransigence of the courts may be the ultimate root story here. The federal court chose a narrow interpretation of "Terri's Law" which went contrary to the intent of the legislation, and that may well cause more people to question if the judiciary is tipping the balance implicit in the Constitutional separation of powers rather than maintaining it. This case may well begin a series of legislative initiatives to restrain courts which have tended increasingly to make laws rather than interpret them. It will certainly lend flavour in confirmation hearings for judicial appointments where the philosophies of strict interpretation of the Constitution and laws is counterposed to those who believe the Constitution is a "living document."

Far less easily addressed are the questions which must be raised on behalf of those parents who were forced to endure the worst of a parent's worst nightmare during Easter week. There is simply no comment that I, or anyone, can make that could adequately address the hell they went through and the grief of the outcomes much less reflect on what those young girls suffered, so there's been mostly focus on the more clinical analysis of how laws and the courts serve to protect our children from predators.

Most people understand that we must protect those who cannot defend themselves, and the growing anger at the failure of the legal system to keep faith with those who believe in that principle are combining to challenge what is seen as a "soft" approach to pedophiles and other sex offenders who, in accordance with one of our most basic principles, are released after serving their time without being branded or otherwise marked to warn of the danger they may represent because they served their time and have been released with the injunction not to break the law again.

Two, basic legal precepts are in stark contrast, and there needs to be some way found to reconcile them. We believe that those who serve their time should be regarded as rehabilitated and given a chance to begin new lives, and we believe that our children must be protected from predators who defy rehabilitation.

The other big story this weekend, the failing health of John Paul II, represents a different kind of contrast to the first two stories. This man, who led the Catholic Church during a tumultous period which saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the struggle against Islamofascism and the child abuse scandals, might be said to have fulfilled his destiny. He will leave this world with a legacy that historians will eventually define, but I suspect that one part of that legacy must be the extent to which it inspired and provoked people much as the struggle for Terri Schiavo has.

It is appropriate, although harsh, that the Easter weekend was the backdrop for vast issues concerning the meaning of life, crime and punishment, and death with dignity. We rarely resolve such issues until major controversies force us to confront the fact that they are indeed issues in need of resolution, and the matter of whether those issues are to be resolved with or despite the courts is not the least of the matter.

Mar. 29 - 11:36: Bill of Strong World provided a link in an earlier comment to an essay by Alan Keyes, Why Jeb Bush has the power to act now, which goes into more detail (and better) than I did on the options available to the executive and legislative branches when the judiciary exceeds its authority.

Darned good article. I don't agree with Mr. Keyes's call to action only because I don't think the American people are yet persuaded that the judiciary needs to be restrained and they would view vigorous executive action to defy a court ruling with alarm (yet another downside of the failure to teach the Constitution and civics in schools is the total ignorance of Americans about the workings of their own branches of government, but that's a rant for another time.)

What I do see is that relatively mild surprise has been generated by some of the recent, more questionable rulings which has yet to cascade into the kind of public outrage the legislative and executive branches feel they must have before they actually confront the judiciary. (Or I could be wrong, and Jeb Bush will ignore the court ruling, take guardianship of Terri Schiavo, and appoint an independent advocate on her behalf.) I think it more likely that we may see a series of legislative initiatives that will indirectly confront the courts and gain public support by putting a spotlight on questionable rulings.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who noted that the Supreme Court ducked the Pledge of Allegiance issue on a loophole!

12:01 - Hmm, FoxNews is reporting that Rev. Jesse Jackson is visiting Terri Schiavo's hospice, praying with Schlinder supporters, and strongly criticizing the court rulings ordering Terri's death. He's isn't always an accurate weather vane, but his position will put the liberal media in a bit of a quandary as he is generally regarded as a leader of the national African-American community.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 PM | Comments (30)

March 24, 2005

Islamic school suspends teachers over student's hate-filled tale

Mar. 24 - I wish I could be surprised at this: Ottawa Islamic school suspends teachers over student's hate-filled tale.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:40 PM | Comments (8)

Send in the National Guard

Mar. 24 - The Supreme Court has declined to hear the Schiavo case, and Florida Gov. Bush filed a motion to take custody of her which has been denied (14:08.)

Someone (sorry, I don't remember who) speculated that the Schiavo case was another Gary Condit non-scandal which consumed the media waves despite the lack of substance. I don't agree. As a nation we've been through so much sacrifice, heroism, death, loss and recovery these past 4 years and in some respects we are now looking at if (or how much) these momentuous events have changed us.

Follow the "continued" link below if you want to read more, or skip it if you're tired of the subject. It's exhausting, and should be. We've been through two wars, are holding our collective breaths over Lebanon and Krygyzstan (and now Estonia) and once again need to define who and what we are.

I need to sleep or I'll be a total wreck tonight, so I'm signing off (unless I can't sleep. Sigh.)

By the way, there is a somewhat atypical Ann Coulter column, Starved for justice, up at, and she makes a suggestion that is very appealing:

Democrats have called out armed federal agents in order to: 1) prevent black children from attending a public school in Little Rock, Ark. (National Guard), 2) investigate an alleged violation of federal gun laws in Waco, Texas (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), and 3) deport a small boy to Cuba (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

So how about a Republican governor sending in the National Guard to stop an innocent American woman from being starved to death in Florida?


In two of the three cases mentioned above, the Democrats' use of force was in direct contravention of court rulings.

If you're scratching your head and wondering what the second case was, run the name Orval Faubus through your mind and see if something clicks.

This has been a difficult case for many of us because there are some very sound reasons why a person might not want extraordinary medical intervention to prolong their life. I had followed the Karen Ann Quinlan case in the 70's and initially believed that Terri Schiavo was in a similar condition and believed she did have the right to die.

But the initial "facts" about Terri Schiavo's medical condition turned out to be erroneous, and it was hard to ignore Michael Schiavo's potential conflict of interest. (I'm only saying potential - none of us really knows what is in his heart and he is probably neither an angel nor a demon.)

Something very precious is at stake - a human life - and something very important is being defined - the quality of that life. I don't think there is a single answer to the latter, and each of us will evaluate and make different decisions about what constitutes such and those decisions will be reflected in the living wills that people need to make.

We need to remember that science is only as good as yesterday's research, and one of the glories of life is that the unknown continues to be far more vast than the known.

When my first son was born, his father and I talked to him while they were cleaning him and he would look in turn specifically at whomever was speaking to him.

This was over 23 years ago, and it was an established "fact" that newborns could not see, but the experts now admit they were wrong, and that newborns have 20-20 vision (barring any congenital diseases or disabilities.)

When he first smiled, the experts said it was gas. I (as well as all mothers!) knew better, and my smile broadened. Experts have since reversed their opinions and now agree with centuries of mothers who knew that baby's funny grimace was baby's first attempt to smile.

When my sister initially came out of her coma, it was believed that all her disabilities were permanent and she would never walk again, but she did. Subsequent research began to indicate that when one part of the brain is damaged, other portions of the brain often take over the tasks originally performed by the now-damaged part.

One of the biggest misconceptions in recent history was the capabilities of children born with Down's Syndrome, and past practices of locking them into institutions seem barbaric (because they were) but what of their quality of life? Even the term "severely disabled" is a fluid one, as new therapies and educative techniques have proven effective.

There is a very good reason why we do not elevate science above human values: new discoveries are made daily which refute long established theories, but lessons about compassion and mercy are also learned daily which can shake our world more profoundly than the discovery of a tenth planet or the reduction of Pluto to an asteroid.

The weeks leading up to Easter have been strange and wondrous: Brian Nichols felt "he was already dead" yet found the strength to show Ashley Smith mercy; many feel Terri Schiavo is already dead, but I fear that the courts will not show her mercy.

Brian Nichols and Terry Schiavo have shaken my world, and have caused me to re-evaluate some of my beliefs and confirmed others, most importantly my dislike of the death penalty (which is now firm opposition.)

I don't know if others are finding this case as throught-provoking or disturbing as me.

Posted by Debbye at 01:07 PM | Comments (10)

Kyrgyzstan president flees country?

Mar. 24 - Interfax news agency reported that Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and his family left the capital Thursday evening by helicopter after protesters seized control of government buildings and communications centers and a later report said that they were headed to Russia.

Caution: These reports have not been verified and rely on unnamed sources.

kyrgyzstan_2 4_22_032405_.jpg
March 24: Protesters surround the presidential compound in Kyrgyzstan.

The storming of the compound was the culmination of the first major rally in the Kyrgyz capital since opposition supporters seized control of key cities and towns in the south to underline their demands that Akayev step down amid allegations of fraud in this year's parliamentary vote.

The rally started with about 5,000 opposition supporters moved down Bishkek's main avenue, halting in the city's main square adjacent to the white stone presidential and government headquarters. The building was surrounded by helmeted riot police with truncheons and shields. Protesters chanted "Akayev, go!"

Many of the demonstrators had come from a rally on the outskirts of Bishkek, where protesters roared and clapped when an opposition activist asserted that Akayev's foes would soon control the entire Central Asian nation.


Many of the demonstrators wore pink or yellow headbands signifying their loyalty to the opposition — reminiscent of the orange worn by protesters who helped topple the Ukrainian government late last year.

The situation in Kyrgyzstan is dissimilar to those in Georgian and Ukraine in that there is no single opposition figure which can assume leadership of the country, so there could be some instability should Akayev step down. Also, there have been several clashes between protesters and government supporters (? - AP describes them as "men in civilian clothes and blue armbands".)

Stay tuned.

Posted by Debbye at 09:46 AM | Comments (7)

March 23, 2005

Mohammad Mahjoub

Mar. 23 - Another moral dilemma: Bail bid for detainee Mohammad Mahjoub, who has been held in a Toronto jail for nearly 5 years on suspicion of terror connections:

AFTER BEING held for nearly five years in a Toronto jail because of secret evidence and a national security certificate, Mohammad Mahjoub must wait several more months to learn if he will be granted bail. Mahjoub, 44, an alleged high-ranking terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden, is one of five Canadians held on secret CSIS evidence as a threat to national security.

He appeared in federal court yesterday seeking bail, while Ottawa continues its efforts to deport him to Egypt, where, all sides agree, he faces the risk of torture.

The evidence is secret, so we are going on faith that it is valid. From what little I know of the case no charges have been filed although the article notes further down that he lied under oath previously. Generally speaking, we don't detain people for five years because we believe they might commit an illegal act but our new awareness of "sleepers" has changed our perception of what consitutes real and present dangers to national security.

One more for the "no easy answers" category. (I'm kidding; I don't have such a category ... yet.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:27 AM | Comments (3)

The quality of mercy

Mar. 23 - Charles Krauthammer speaks to the issues in the Schiavo case, The law is failing Terri and to the conflict over whether Congress and the president overstepped their bounds:

The general rule of spousal supremacy leads you here to a thoroughly repulsive conclusion.

Repulsive because in a case where there is no consensus among the loved ones, one's natural human sympathies suggest giving custody to the party committed to her staying alive and pledging to carry the burden themselves.


Given our lack of certainty, given that there are loved ones prepared to keep her alive and care for her, how can you allow the husband to end her life on his say-so?

Because following the generally sensible rules of Florida custody laws, conducted with due diligence and great care over many years in this case, this is where the law led.

For Congress and the president to then step in and try to override that by shifting the venue to a federal court was a legal travesty, a flagrant violation of federalism and the separation of powers. The federal judge who refused to reverse the Florida court was certainly true to the law.

But the law, while scrupulous, has been merciless, and its conclusion very troubling morally. We ended up having to choose between a legal travesty on the one hand and human tragedy on the other.

No easy answers to this one. I think many of us have simply listened to our hearts, which whispered Mercy. As Tolkien pointed out, letting mercy stay one's hand may seem foolish but we should not be so quick to take away life when we cannot also restore it.

I can't judge if Terri Schiavo is truly "brain dead." I can't judge what her wishes would be could she express them. I can't judge if she is or is not capable of responding to therapy.

I can only judge that her life has great value to her parents and that they are willing to fight to preserve that life.

I prefer to go with the option that does less harm, the option that is not irreversible, the option that springs from love and faith.

I prefer not to play God.

05:45 - I think what is most in my mind when I look at this case is (almost unavoidably) the example of Pontius Pilate, who followed the letter of the law and has been reviled for doing so by Christians. It's so easy on this side of the judicial bench ...

I dislike publishing personal facts about my family, but after thinking about this I think I should probably disclose that my sister was in a coma for several months, was non-responsive, and that the odds she would recover were low (she suffered a base skull fracture.) BUT she did wake up, and despite her chronic physical problems due to the injury, I know for a fact that she is glad to be alive as indeed are those of us who love her. That is probably why I shrug when I read assumptions printed as "facts" about Terri's awareness and potential for recovery. Doctors, like weather forecasters, make predictions based on probabilities but do not - or should not - exclude possibilities.

06:22 - Michelle Malkin sheds considerable light on the ABC poll which purported to show most Americans would prefer not to be kept alive in similar circumstances as Terri: they were misled about her condition!

6:32 The 11th Circuit Court denied the request to re-insert the feeding tube 2-1. The Schindlers plan to appeal.

06:53 - Kateland is also awake and posting early. She has a couple of posts on Terri Schiavo, and poses an challenging question on the Pope's quality of life and why people in Israel might be horrified that a woman be allowed to die of thirst and hunger. Good, penetrating posts.

07:19 - Peter Worthington points out that should Mr. Schlinder kill Mr. Schiavo, Mrs. Schlinder's wishes would prevail. (Pull in your horns, people, no one is actually advocating such an act! He's simply making a point about the illogic of the current law which would, in the absence of the husband, grant the decision in this case to Terri's next closest kin.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:33 AM | Comments (5)

Oil-for-Food to pay Sevan's legal fees

Mar. 23 - Just when you'd think the leadership of the U.N. might be worried about their image they prove once again that they are better at looking after the interests of their fellow bureaucrats than they are at helping the oppressed peoples of the world: U.N. to Reimburse Sevan for Legal Fees:

Payment for Sevan's legal fees was to come out of the account containing the 2.2 percent of Iraqi oil revenues from the $64 billion program earmarked for its administration, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Sevan's fees are to be reimbursed with Iraqi oil funds set aside to help administer the program. That means Iraq oil money would essentially pay for Sevan to defend himself against charges that he bilked the program.

This is all the more apalling coming as it does on the heels of Kofi Annan's suggestion that developed nations should be levied to support Millenium Development Goals -- the funds for which are to be administered by the U.N.

I'd sooner invest in Enron.

By the way, Belmont Club has a new home and a post on the reforms Kofi Annan has proposed for the U.N. One sentence sums up everything that's wrong with the U.N.:

It is a maxim of the United Nations that progress is achieved by doing everything that never worked all over again.
I believe that is also a definition for insanity.

04:17 From Roger L. Simon, this post links to an article in the Financial Times, Annan son received $300,000 in payments from Cotecna , not the $175,00 that had previously been reported. It would seem some creative bookkeeping may have been at work as "... payments were arranged in ways that obscured where the money came from or whom it went to."

Posted by Debbye at 02:21 AM | Comments (4)

Another bombing in Lebanon

Mar. 23 - I've tried to avoid the implications, but this is the third time a Christian area has been hit with bombs in Beirut: Shopping mall blast near Beirut kills three.

I have to conclude that some elements (Hezbollah, Syria?) are trying to incite the same kind of sectarian violence which they failed to do in Iraq. I hope the Lebanese show the same restraint as or chose to fight back as Iraqis have been doing.

Do Lebanese Christians celebrate Easter by the Eastern or Western calendar? I've got a bad feeling about this weekend ...

06:50 - Many thanks to Kateland for answering my question so quickly in the comments. It appears that the majority of Lebanese Christians will celebrate Easter this weekend. (I also think I'm being overly nervous. I'm beginning to have "bad feelings" every holiday, clearly a case of The Other Shoe Syndrome.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:17 AM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2005

SSM and the CPC conference

Mar. 22 - The recent Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) policy conference was live-blogged by insiders Stephen Taylor and Hacks and Wonks.

Stephen covers it here and here, covers Stephen Harper's speech here (.pdf text of speech here.) He also covers the Party party here.

Hacks and Wonks covers the conference here and here here and here.

It's worth the time to read both bloggers. They have different styles and observations about the proceedings and the combination of the two adds dimensions and tone.

Two policy issues dominated after the initial procedural kerfuffle. The first was abortion, and the CPC decided not to challenge the current laws.

The other was same-sex marriage, and the CPC's decision to fight it while supporting civil unions has produced a lot of debate in the blogosphere as people decide if they can support a conservative party that does not support same-sex marriage. I've mostly been following the comments and links at Jay Currie's site here and here.

Crafting a position on same-sex marriage is a problem for the Conservative Party. On the one hand, the impetus to merge the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party came about largely as a reaction to federal government moves to recognize gay marriage (and, more specifically, to call those unions marriage) and on the other hand, the influence on the party by what are called "so-cons" (i.e., social conservatives) run directly counter the views of hipper, urban conservatives and libertarians who should, by all that's logical, form a strong base of support for the party by Canadians who are tired of the ever-expanding tax load and furious over Adscam yet are strongly committed to human rights.

Ben takes a moderate view and Alan wants government out of marriages altogether. The Monger makes a good case for the 40% muggers (in a post about taxes, not SSM.)

Gay marriage is just not the big issue for me right now. I guess it's the curse of being an American and having American issues on my mind, but I'm still more worried about Islamofascists who want to kill gays than arguing over the designation of what to call legalized gay relationships.

I do hate the phrase "civil union," though. It is sterile, and fails to acknowledge the deep committment and love between gay couples.

I will state outright that I am annoyed that proponents keep pushing the notion that calling gay unions anything other than marriage is somehow an instance of "separate but equal" -- a barely disguised effort to connect this issue to the civil rights movement in the 60's -- but which displays either ignorance about or indifference to the institutionalized inequality of African-Americans in some states.

As those of us who were actually alive back then remember, "equal" was hardly a description of the public institutions and facilities made available to African-Americans who lived in states with Jim Crow laws (and in Northern urban areas.) There were also the matters of little or no police investigations into lynchings and the rapes of black women, being denied the right to vote, and being denied protection and due process under the law.

So unless it can be demonstrated that the designation "civil union" (or a more agreeable term) means fewer benefits, legal rights and protections, I am unconvinced that the failure to alter the ancient definition of marriage equals bigotry (nor can I deny there are some extremely homophobic voices raised against gays as well as gay marriage. That's the real pity and has clouded the debate somewhat.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:03 PM | Comments (6)

March 20, 2005

Spring and the TTC

Mar. 20 - It's officially spring. It's been a pleasure to see the beginnings of dawn as I leave work and view full rosy dawn as the subway pulls out of Kipling station.

I can glare at the snow banks and think You Are Doomed! Doomed!

On a dour note, is it just me or has TTC service really sucked lately?

I hope the drivers aren't indulging in a little pre-strike action of their own. I think, given the chance, most riders would gladly dump the members of the Transit Commission. We'd even burn them in effigy if service would improve as a result.

Just some thoughts as I prepare to start my work week (which starts in a little over an hour.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:08 PM | Comments (30)

Don't mess with Australian diggers

Mar. 20 - Investigations into allegations of sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers has brought this to light: in 2001, an Australian digger who reported allegations of abuse in East Timor had to be defended and Diggers drew guns during a confrontation with Jordanian troops.

Australian digger Corporal Andrew Wratten had been told by some children that Jordanian peacekeeping troops had offered them food and money for sex.

"Wratten informed PKF (peacekeeping force) that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt (Jordan Battalion) abuse," said a senior UN official who was based in Oecussi at the time.

"A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo (helicopter) refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened.

"There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jorbatt M-16s pointed at Aussies."


Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the pedophilia that occurred in May 2001.

The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

Two Jordanian peacekeepers were expelled in July, 2001, after an investigation into the abuse.

As no Jordanian is quoted in the above story, we don't have their side as to what happened and the Jorbatt involved may not even have been aware that they were protecting pedophiles.

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 PM | Comments (26)


Mar. 20 - Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan.

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

Miss Canada Pakistan

Mar. 20 - Last night, in A crowning moment, 13 contestants in ethnic dress competed for the title of Miss Canada Pakistan.

A mini-controversy has swirled about the event, with some claiming that it violates the beliefs of Islam, and others saying it advances the cause of Pakistani women:

"It's a great opportunity to get out there and speak on behalf of the Pakistani community," contestant Sarvat Khan, 20, said.

"They call it a beauty pageant, but that doesn't make it wrong."

Organizer Sonia Ahmed said nothing, including threats or hate mail from radicals, would have prevented the third annual pageant from going ahead.

"We're trying to show strong, independent Pakistani women (who) will show their talents boldly in front of an audience," she said. "Canada is a free country and we have the right to express ourselves freely."

Indeed they do.

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

One-stop Adscam review

Mar. 20 - Lorne Gunter has a nice compilation of Gomery inquiry revelations about Adscam in the Edmonton Journal and a compact paragraph that lays out David Dingwall's role:

... In perhaps the most incestuous Adscam deal, Lafleur hired the minister who created Adscam, David Dingwall, to lobby the federal cabinet to give more money to VIA Rail, itself an Adscam player and recipient. In a twist of intrigue worthy of Kafka, sponsorship monies were paid to a sponsorship ad agency to pay the sponsorship program's founder to lobby the source of sponsorship cash -- Ottawa -- for even more sponsorship money for a Crown corporation that was already dispensing buckets of sponsorship cash. Over just seven months, Dingwall received $133,500 from Lafleur ($19,000 a month).
Must read.

(Link via Neale News.)

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

House to meet in special session for Schiavo bill

Mar. 20 - Terri Schiavo's feeding tube may be restored due to a House, Senate Compromise on the Schiavo Bill. The compromise would allow for the tube to be re-inserted while a federal court reviews the case.

The Senate passed the legislation today (Sunday) and the House will meet in special session tomorrow to consider the legislation.

The President will return to Washington tomorrow to sign the bill into law.

Mar. 21 - The House passed the measure 203-58 and the President signed the measure at 1:11 a.m. It now goes to the federal district court in Tampa.

Posted by Debbye at 12:24 AM | Comments (30)

March 19, 2005

Hope Trumps Despair - 2 years in

Mar. 19 - There have been a series of terrorist attacks in Asia today:

27 Killed in Pakistan Bombing at a Shiite shrine located about 210 miles south of Quetta. Two other bombs went off further south wounding four people.

A car bomb in Beirut wounded nine. Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud said he won't attend an upcoming summit of Arab leaders in Algeria due to security concerns in Lebanon.

A bomb in a Qatar theater killed a Briton and wounded 12.

Five police officers were killed in Iraq.

On Thursday, a bomb killed 5 and wounded 32 in Kandahar. A suspect has been arrested.

Mar. 20 - 00:37 Australian News is reporting that Scotland Yard has issued an alert for a new campaign by "rogue Irish republican groups." /end update

Today in Europe, tens of thousands of people protested the ongoing violence intended to derail Iraq's steps toward consensual government after Iraqi voters defied terrorists and voted in the historic elections there Jan. 30. Oh wait, that's wrong. They were protesting against the war that removed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I think it's important to show that we still care about this," said Linn Majuri, 15, a member of the environmental organization Green Youth, who held a banner reading "Drop Bush, not bombs!"

"People have become apathetic about this, it's no longer something they walk around thinking about every day," she said.

Didn't millions of Iraqis disprove her assertion that "people have become apathetic about this" only last January?

Okay, I'll behave. They were actually protesting non-U.N. sanctioned American action (because the U.N. represents corruption international law, you know) against Iraq, and what they perceive as the unleashing of America's military might.

Silly rabbit, Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in order to avoid unleashing America's full military might. In terms of air power alone, we conducted that war with one arm tied behind our backs.

Sept. 11 represented an escalation of on-going attacks and our counter-attack could have taken many forms (and don't imagine for a minute that there weren't plenty of people agitating for the nuclear option) but the best, albeit most risky, response was to try to avoid the ultimate confrontation by offering the people in the Mid-east a different future: one of hope and realized aspirations. Wicked, huh?

There were small demonstrations in Canada, the largest of about 3,000 being in Montreal. There were also demonstrations in the U.S.A., but, again, they were sparsely attended.

President Bush said

America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women, and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin.

Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources, and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.

No, wait, that was in October, 2002. His message today was
On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world from a grave danger.

Before coalition forces arrived, Iraq was ruled by a dictatorship that murdered its own citizens, threatened its neighbors, and defied the world. We knew of Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew of his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction, and we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently. We must, and we will, confront threats to America before they fully materialize.

Now, because we acted, Iraq's government is no longer a threat to the world or its own people. Today the Iraqi people are taking charge of their own destiny. In January, over eight million Iraqis defied the car bombers and assassins to vote in free elections. This week, Iraq's Transitional National Assembly convened for the first time. These elected leaders broadly represent Iraq's people and include more than 85 women. They will now draft a new constitution for a free and democratic Iraq. In October, that document will be presented to the Iraqi people in a national referendum. Another election is planned for December to choose a permanent constitutional government.

Free governments reflect the culture of the citizens they serve, and that is happening in Iraq. Today, Iraqis can take pride in building a government that answers to its people and honors their country's unique heritage.

On the current political landscape in the Mid-east:
Today we're seeing hopeful signs across the broader Middle East. The victory of freedom in Iraq is strengthening a new ally in the war on terror, and inspiring democratic reformers from Beirut to Tehran. Today, women can vote in Afghanistan, Palestinians are breaking the old patterns of violence, and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are rising up to demand their sovereignty and democratic rights. These are landmark events in the history of freedom. Only the fire of liberty can purge the ideologies of murder by offering hope to those who yearn to live free.

The experience of recent years has taught us an important lesson: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. Because of our actions, freedom is taking root in Iraq, and the American people are more secure.

Yes, I know, the new meme is that bringing freedom to the Mid-east would have a domino effect was an afterthought when locating WMD didn't pan out, but if that is so, why has so much bandwidth been used these past two years with arguments over the feasibility of functional consensual governments in Muslim countries?

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

March 18, 2005

Updating the blogroll

Mar. 16 - More additions to the blogroll, mostly in the growing Great White North section (and a big hooray! for the growing blogging community up here.)

Under News and Commentary:
Austin Bay Blog
Salim Mansur homepage
Canada Free Press

From Canada:
Italics Mine
Angry in the Great White North
A Journey Through Time
Hacks and Wonks
Strong World
Canada Free Press Blog
My Left Wing Girlfriend, a Canadian living in Shanghai

Soldier blogs:
letters from garrison
Marine Corp. Moms (don't tell me they don't serve!)

The rest of the world:
Davids Medienkritik, an American living in Germany
Country Store
Who Tends the Fires
Geek Empire
The Warrior Scholar
Garfield Ridge

I know some of the sites already on have gone dormant, but I stubbornly hope they will return to posting (because I'm a hopeless optimist.)

Off to work. Party hearty, you lucky souls for whom Friday is Friday.

Posted by Debbye at 08:36 PM | Comments (9)

Party financing and national unity

Mar. 18 - A portion of our taxes are now turned over to political parties to pay for their campaign expenses during federal campaigns. This legislation, which came into effect in 2004, was heralded as ending the corrupting influence of corporations, through their donations, on political parties.

Let me repeat: my tax money goes to finance the election campaigns of parties with which I vehemently disagree, such as the Bloc Quebecois, which advocates separation from Canada. As the money is apportioned to the politcal parties based on the percentage of votes they garnered in the previous federal election, I don't even have a little box on my tax form to indicate to which party I want my involuntary donation to be directed.

Corporate donations to finance political parties = bad. Nassty corporations. We don't likes them or their filthy lucres.

Earmarking taxpayer dollars to finance political parties = good. Stoopid taxpayers. They don't have the sense to know to which parties they should give their money. We don't trust them to make sensible, personal decisions, so we'll make those decisions for them.

Stealing taxpayer dollars, under the guise of promoting national unity, to finance the Liberal Party = genius. National unity is best achieved if there is only one political party, the Liberal Party. There can be only one.

Adscam started as an inquiry into the funneling of tax dollars to Liberal-friendly advertising agencies and the appearance was that these funds were in payment of services received or about to be received, but testimony again today indicates that actual cash donations were funneled back to Liberal Party workers.

CBC News: Groupaction masked payments to Liberals, Gomery told:

Bernard Thiboutot worked for former Groupaction advertising executive Jean Brault, who made millions from the sponsorship program.

Thiboutot, who had his own consulting company, told the inquiry that Brault asked him to send five cheques worth $57,000 to five people. Brault then paid Thiboutot $57,000.

The inquiry hasn't yet heard what type of work the five did, but Radio-Canada says Michel Monette, Jacques Roy, Guy Bisson, Franco Iacono and Louis Pichette were all Liberal Party organizers.

Bisson worked on the Liberal campaign in 2000, Roy worked as an organizer for the Liberals in Montreal, Monette worked on the Liberal campaign in Laval, Iacono was a lobbyist who used to work for former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano and Pichette was a Quebec campaign worker.

Brault didn't want to appear connected to the five people, Thiboutot said. The payments instead went through Thiboutot's company, Commando Marketing, in the same week in October 2000 that former prime minister Jean Chrétien called a federal election.

Brault faces criminal charges related to the sponsorship scandal and has been named in a $41-million government lawsuit.

Thiboutot also testified that Brault pressed him to make two contributions of $10,000 to the federal Liberals.

Earlier in the inquiry, another communications executive, Gilles-André Gosselin, said Brault asked him to make a $10,000 donation to the Liberals.

There are bigger questions which have yet to be addressed, and the biggest one is the ease with which the Prime Minister usurped the powers of Council and Parliament. That must be addressed but has not been addressed. That is my biggest concern, but I'm just an American who doesn't understand all this enlightened stuff and worries about minor stuff like a Prime Minister who promises a Parliamentary debate on ballistic missile defense but suddenly announced the decision without a public debate. Martin promised to address the "democratic deficit" in Parliament and he did so in a manner reminiscent of Ed Norton's advice to Ralph Kramden in the golfing lesson: Hel-lo ball!

Then there is the involvement of Canadian civil service workers and patronage appointees in furthering the misappropriation of public funds. The systems of political patronage appointees as well as the hiring and promoting civil service workers desperately needs reform. Whistle-blower protection also needs to be enacted.

Another mega-question is how millions of taxpayer dollars could be stolen over a period of several years and nobody knew, including the Finance Minister, who at that time was current PM Paul Martin. (I can't help wondering if his new persona, Mr. Dithers, is a smokescreen as he might be forgiven for being a bumbling fool but not for being competent and thus a knowing enabler of Adscam.)

A new controversy has recently arisen about the use of federal funds to finance foundations, many of which bank rather than spend the money, none of whom are accountable for the public funds they receive, and the potential of that money to find its way back into Liberal Party coffers.

Non-accountability, thy name is Bureaucracy, and that issue is also at the heart of the Oil-for-Food scandal as well as Adscam.

[N.B. Despite the plethora of Quebec locations, this is a scandal involving the federal Liberal Party, not the provincial Liberal Party. There is a difference.]

Personal aside: I'm tired of those who shoot back "Yeah, what about Watergate?"

What about it? Did the Nixon campaign steal millions of taxpayer dollars to finance his campaign, or did they misuse private donations to the 1972 Republican election campaign? As we say back home, That dog won't hunt.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 PM | Comments (8)

UN Whistleblower blasts Oil-for-Food

Mar. 18 - Whistle-blower: 'Gaping holes' in oil-for-food:

Rehan Mullick testified that by his estimate more than 20 percent of the shipments to Iraq, worth $1 billion a year, were not distributed properly, with many goods pilfered by the Iraqi military.

"A fourth or fifth of the supplies were not distributed," he said.

Mullick, 39, an American sociologist of Pakistani origin, appeared before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations in Washington.

Mullick was a data analyst for the U.N. program, and his duties included monitoring the humanitarian shipments into Iraq.
"Soon after I started my job, it became amply evident that there were gaping holes in U.N.'s efforts to meet [its] objectives," Mullick told the committee in his written statement, though he read aloud only parts of it.

Mullick said in his statement that a database to track the humanitarian shipments was "muddled beyond repair," that survey techniques "were at best amateurish," and that statistics quoted by the United Nations were "misleading."


Mullick told the subcommittee that he repeatedly alerted U.N. officials of problems he observed but was rebuffed.

"Each suggestion resulted in my supervisors reducing my job responsibilities," Mullick said. "This continued to occur until my only job was to run the slide projector at staff meetings."

Mullick said he eventually submitted a 10-page report to U.N. headquarters in 2002 reporting that 22 percent of supplies imported under the program never reached Iraq's 27 million people.

"I heard nothing," Mullick said. "Finally I was contacted and told my contract was not being renewed."


... the United Nations found the program to be a success, saying, for example, that food delivered reduced the malnutrition rate among Iraqi children by 50 percent.

Mullick described the United Nations as having "old mafia-style management."

He added in his statement, "Had the U.N. chosen to listen to and offer protection to those who blow the whistle on bureaucratic injustice and corruption, a program like oil for food would have worked more in the interest of the impoverished Iraqi people rather than their detractors." (Bolding added.)

So who did he alert? Was it Frechette?

There is no whistle-blower protection for U.N. employees, and the human cost of unreported crimes has spread from Iraqis who were supposed to benefit from the Oil-for-Food to shocking revelations about sex-crimes committed by blue-helmeted troops and U.N. workers.

The U.N. is said to represent "international law." Those who would chose to live under the rule of an unaccountable, cynical bureaucracy don't know the meaning of the word "law" much less understand the power of freely electing one's own lawmakers with the attendant power to replace them in regular election cycles.

From one of my favourite 60's-era songs:

Oh, Freedom!
Oh, Freedom!
Oh, Freedom over me!
And before I'll be a slave,
I'll be bured in my grave,
And go home to my Lord and be free.

Posted by Debbye at 06:11 PM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2005

Happy St. Pat's

Mar. 17 - Sorry for the light posting today, it's been a wild week at work and I slept longer than usual today. (In other words, I overslept and even as I write this, I'm waiting for the ride I begged from my first-born.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005

Iraqi Assembly Sworn In

Mar. 16 - This is a history day for three reason.

Today marked the anniversary of the 1988 gas attack on Halajba which killed 5,000 people.

Second, Iraqi Assembly Sworn In:

"In the name of God, I swear to carry out my duties and legal responsibilities diligently. I swear to protect the sovereignty of Iraq and the interests of its people and to protects its land and air, its natural resources and its federal democratic system. I also swear to protect public and private liberties and the independence of the judiciary system and to carry out the country's laws, so help me God."
Third, the swearing in ceremony was televised.

(Not historic but nonetheless notable: Iraq forces now number over 14,000.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (2)

Or maybe we'll go just a little

Mar. 16 - I said I wasn't going to go into it, but how can I resist when National Post Columnist Barbara Kay takes a more sober look at the lack of female columnists and, by implication, of female bloggers, and makes this very insightful observation:

Dowd ends her column with a kneejerk feminist suggestion: "I have no doubt there are plenty of brilliant women who would bring grace and guts to our nation's op ed pages ... We just need to find and nurture them."

No, Maureen, you've got it backwards. If a woman needs finding and nurturing, she's wrong for the job. We don't want shrinking violets on our op-ed pages. We want strong proactive women writers with definite opinions, who scorn affirmative action and like to duke it out in public.

Either we are equal or we are not, and that means our work should be judged without consideration of our gender.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:33 PM | Comments (5)

Darfur death toll may be as high as 180,000

Mar. 16 - According to Jan Egelund, special U.N. envoy, Darfur death toll double previous UN estimates:

Jan Egeland, the UN's under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, said that war-induced starvation and disease were killing around 10,000 in Darfur every month, with many of them dying in squalid refugee camps.

Mr Egeland's latest assessment indicates that Darfur's crisis is far worse than previously thought.

Moreover, the figure of 180,000 does not include those who have died violent deaths. Sudan's Arab-dominated regime has been accused of waging a "genocidal" counter-insurgency campaign by unleashing the notorious janjaweed militia on Darfur's black African tribes.

Those who have been killed by these mounted raiders and government forces - or the equally brutal rebels styling themselves the Sudan Liberation Army - number in the tens of thousands.

What, exactly, is the numbers threshold to declaring mass murder to be genocide?

We have a legal concept known as "accessory before and/or after the fact." Those who have died in refugee camps were murdered as surely as those who remained in their villages and died.

If people think I am too harsh of Canada's reduced military, it is precisely because of places like Sudan, or Haiti or even Lebanon. Peacekeeping missions with Canadian troops would be viewed far less suspiciously than American troops would be and would re-affirm Canada's role as peackeeper.

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

Air India jury acquits (Updated)

Mar. 16 - Lots of links at the top of this story, Air India defendants cleared.

I gave up following the trial once it became clear that too much of the evidence consisted of conversations, which, without compelling supporting physical evidence, leaves a "shadow of a doubt" in judges' minds.

Sadly, the relatives of the 329 people who died in the 1985 downing of Air India Flight 182 (see this fact sheet if you can't remember it) have yet to see justice for their loved ones which leaves a gaping wound in their lives.

Mar. 17 - It cost $7.4 million to build a special courtroom. It cost $130 million on investigations and trials. And we learned during the trial that CSIS destroyed evidence that could have led to convictions rather than turn it over to the RCMP.

From today's editorial in the Toronto Sun editorial (one-day link):

During the trial, Judge Josephson cited what he described as the "unacceptable negligence" of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service for, among other things, erasing hundreds of crucial wiretap tapes connected with the case. The court also heard that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police bungled their investigation and did not follow correct procedures. As a result, the judge rejected the testimony of a number of Mounties.

In addition, turf wars and infighting between CSIS and the RCMP (and a poor relationship between the RCMP and the FBI) were said to have resulted in a failure to share information in a timely way and in the burying of some evidence.

There was speculation from RCMP sources that CSIS had a source inside the alleged conspiracy, had advance knowledge that planes might be bombed but failed to act, and that it tried to undercut the court case to protect its source.

CSIS has categorically denied any advance knowledge of the bombings, having an inside source or that it deliberately bungled the case. CSIS officials have accused the RCMP of attacking CSIS as a method of diverting attention from their own incompetence in the event the charges were dismissed.

Given all this controversy about a terrorist act that ended in Canada's worst case of mass murder and the troubling questions it raises about CSIS and the RCMP, a public inquiry is clearly needed to find out what went wrong with this investigation and to come up with ways to insure it never happens again.

The automatic "hold an inquiry" notion over problems between CSIS and the RCMP that happened 20 years ago might seem foolish were it not that many suspect that those problems still exist, but Deputy PM Anne McClellan has rejected a probe. The difficulties between the FBI and RCMP are another issue, and looking at the relationship between Canada and the U.S.A. today, I'm sorry but I don't know how much information I want the FBI (or CIA) to share with their respective Canadian counterparts (and I state that even knowing how incompetent the American agencies are) because I don't trust either the honesty or honour of the Canadian government or its appointees.

Bob MacDonald has more about the screw-ups of CSIS and ties it into the "soft on violent crime" approach of the Canadian justice system. (He ties into grow operations too. Sigh.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Semitism in Toronto

Mar. 16 - A report issued by B'nai Brith says that out of 857 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Canada, 405 happened here (Problem worst in GTA with more here.)

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not. Tolerance is easy to talk about but harder to feel and impossible to enforce. I constantly overhear anti-Jewish comments which go by unchallenged but, were they directed against African- or West Asian-Canadians, would be immediately denounced by everyone in the room.

Something else that would be interesting to track would be expressions of hate toward Chinese- and East Asian-Canadians.

The Toronto police will release a report next month on acts which legally constitute "hate crimes."

Posted by Debbye at 06:28 PM | Comments (2)

7,000 plants make it a grow-op

Mar. 16 - At one point in my life, I would have fervently wished I was standing upwind - Pot up in smoke.

The fiery debates over grow houses could end very easily - either legalize it or don't. Decriminalizing possession is hypocrisy, much like letting johns go free but prosecuting prostitutes (er, sorry, "sex workers.")

Commentary here, and a little hysteria here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

The IRA in America

Mar. 16 - Robert at Expat Yank is continuing his excellent coverage of the IRA and Sinn Fein while they court Irish-Americans. Just keep scrolling.

I am of partial Irish inheritance, and had a sentimental attachment to the struggle for Irish freedom, but I understood quite clearly that our tolerance of the IRA had been wrong and that we couldn't allow for Irish terrorism if we were to honourably combat Islamic, Basque, and Columbian terrorists.

No "Yes, but" on this one.

19:03 Judi McLeod reports that Toronto Mayor David Miller attended a fund-raising dinner for Sinn Fein in 2002 (Miller was a city councillor at the time) but the heart of her article is a tribute to the courage of Robert McCartney's sisters, who have taken on Sinn Fein's continued ties with the IRA in their pursuit of justice for their brother.

CNN covers their visit with senators here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

Precision Guided Humo(u)r

Mar. 15 - It's been awhile since I've been able to do the New Precision Guided Humor Assignment for the Alliance of Free Blogs, but this week's essay exam is a goodie that even I should be able to finish on time: What should Dan Rather have done to make his last CBS Evening News broadcast more memorable?

Dan's farewell would have been more honourable had he said his last word, Courage, and given an example, so I think he should have said that he wished he had had the courage to investigate the phony documents that ultimately brought him down.

He should have said that even though stonewalling didn't work for Nixon, he was absolutely positive it would work for him.

He should have said that he had been forced to run the story because he needed to get the negatives* of certain photos.**

He should have said that those negatives are also why he conducted a sympathetic interview of Saddam during the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and then would have been overheard muttering Sean Penn promised "this would be the last time."

*Plausible Denialibilty - he is a journalist who chases stories.
** I know, I know. Video Camera!!!!! No.

Seriously, I wonder if he understands how the degree of his own hubris - pride - brought him down as surely as had Richard Nixon's, and if he understands that basically, they both received pardons.

I didn't always disagree with him, but and his broadcasts, like Cronkite's before, were a staple of my life and it is incredibly sad to see this man who once excelled in his profession publicly disgraced.

And that is why I am angry at him.

Note: I corrected a word error in the second paragraph from the end.

Mar. 16 - Blair of Italics Mine has a good post on Rather's next assignment. Love that final sentence!

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 PM | Comments (6)

Here we don't go again

Mar. 15 - I wanted to ignore this one, Blogging Beyond the Men's Club by Steven Levy, and the call for more diversity in the blogosphere. I didn't want to point out again that blogger is freaking free so the only impediment to anyone is taking the time to sign up and start posting and linking to other bloggers.

I didn't want to point out that some leading blogs, and I'll cite Wretchard as The Prime Example, may or may not be written by men. Hard to tell if they don't tell.

Even when they tell, how do we really know if the blogger is male, female, white, black, Asian, American or Nepalese?

Yes, I am irritated. And I need sleep. And I really don't need the adrenaline rush this kind of foolishness brings. And I was going to shrug and continue my blog rounds.

But I read this:

And at the Harvard conference, Suitt challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren't male, white or English-speaking—and link to them.
Guess the fool missed Estrogen Week. Sheesh. If you're going to emulate Kevin Drum, at least check his freaking trackbacks.

I'm ending this post and getting some sleep before I really go estrogen on Levy. The poor man probably means well but just can't overcome the disability of either being a moron or Google-challenged.

(Link via Angry in T.O. in a post which should be read.

Mar. 16 - 17:43: Mr. Levy has at least succeeded in uniting women from both sides of the political spectrum over the Invisibility Factor. Even as he wrote, some sisters were already celebrating Estrogen Month. (Love that poster - I'd love to steal and post it with a bit of editing to change "liberal" to "libertarian".)

Thanks to commenter Elayne for the pointer.

20:18: National Post Columnist Barbara Kay takes a more sober look at the lack of female columnists. I've posted more on it here.

Posted by Debbye at 04:45 PM | Comments (3)

Canada Free Press Blog

Mar. 15 - One of the bloggers I had the pleasure to meet at the Bloggerbash was Victor of the Canada Free Press Blog. I've been reading the blog for awhile and it. is. good.

His post From the people who brought you HRDC, the gun registray, Adscam... states the problems with Kyoto and why the Canadian government is determined to implement it:

If the usual pattern of Liberal incomptence, corruption and profligacy holds, the final tab should end up being somewhere between $40 billion and several trillion dollars. But hey, it’s not their money, so who cares. The only important things are that it provides lots of photo ops for Liberal hacks to show that THEY CARE, and it gives the government yet more control over the lives and bank accounts of its peons subjects citizens.
Both the Canada Free Press and the blog are proving their mettle - it was CFP that broke the Volcker connection to Power Corp. - and should be on everyone's blog reading list.

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

Syrian intelligence begins pulling out of Lebanon

Mar. 15 - Syria intel pulling out of Beirut:

Under pressure from the United States, Europe and significant portion of Lebanon's populace, Syrian intelligence units Tuesday were in the process of leaving Beirut, a Lebanese army source told CNN.

Witnesses said two pick-up trucks were being loaded at Syrian intelligence headquarters in the Lebanese capital's Ramlet al-Baida district, Reuters reported.

There is more, but it seems spotty and inconclusive. Shell game or are they truly leaving?

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek paid an unannounced visit to Syria and is said to have discussed Lebanon with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

There is also some ambiguity as to the future of Hezbollah in Lebanon:

Syrian officials say they were following U.N. Resolution 1559 as well as the Taif Accord, signed in 1989, which legitimized Syria's presence in Lebanon at the end of a bitter civil war there but called for a later withdrawal.

But U.S. President George W. Bush and other world leaders have said Syria must immediately pull all its forces from Lebanon.

Resolution 1559 also calls for Lebanon to disband militia groups, including Hezbollah. The Taif Accord allowed Hezbollah to remain in place.

There is disagreement as to whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization which is irrelevant if Syria intends to act in accordance with the U.N. resolution.

Posted by Debbye at 02:22 PM | Comments (4)

Way to go Robert!

Mar. 15 - All I wanted to do was link to Ex-pat Yank's coverage of the Robert McCartney killing and the exposure of Sinn Fein as hoodlums (more here, here, here, here, here, here and especially here and I find he's become famous!

He was quoted at Slate! And doing what bloggers are becoming known for doing best - fact checking.

In a post on the recent fatwa issued by Spanish clerics on bin Laden, The Next Salman Rushdie By David Wallace-Wells, Robert's post which questioned the number of Muslims in Spain is quoted.

From Slate:

Expat Yank Robert Tumminello takes issue with news stories that estimate there are 1 million Spanish Muslims. "Hmm, but less than a year ago," he says, the Boston Globe counted only 500,000 Muslims in Spain, and guessed there were perhaps only 200,000 more living there illegally. "Quite a growing population," he murmurs.
No apologies needed, Robert, but congratulations are indeed in order.

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

Fighting Quebec separatists in Italy

Mar. 15 - Adscam is a bewildering mess. Now it has taken on international dimensions.

Separatists were everywhere! The danger was so great in Chretien's own riding of Shawinigan that it received it too received money:

Former prime minister Jean Chretien's riding was a major destination for money from a $490,000 annual sponsorship slush fund in the 1990s, an inquiry was told Monday.

Documents tabled at the inquiry into the federal sponsorship program include several references to sponsorship allotments in the 1990s for "unforeseen events," including several in Chretien's former riding, which used to be known as Saint-Maurice.

The events include a hot-air balloon show, a canoe festival and the Grand Prix de Shawinigan-Sud automobile race.

And Alfonso Gagliano
... attended a ceremony in Italy where nearly $7,000 of sponsorship funds were used to brand a small village with the Maple Leaf. ..

Documents show the plaque, marking a spot called Canada Place, was inaugurated in May 1998 in the south-central Italian village of San Martino.

The documents also suggest the project's true source of funding was initially hidden. The plaque was not explicitly named as a funded sponsorship project, but was instead accounted for under money allotted to a ice-sculpture show that took place under a similar name in Ottawa."

Shameless. I'm trying to imagine Gagliano and Chretien each saying "I am not a crook."

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

Update on RCMP slayings

Mar. 15 - Radio station 630CHED has learned some details about RCMP slayings near Mayerthorpe last week:

Investigators believe Roszko used a sheet as camoflage as he sneaked through snow to reach the quonset hut. He had socks over his boots to muffle sound and to cover his tracks.

Once inside, Roszko armed himself with an assault rifle, a hunting rifle and a pistol.

He sprung from hiding and killed four Constables in a matter of seconds.

One of two Auto Theft investigators outside is also a member of the elite RCMP Emergency Response Team.

A crack shot, he engaged Roszko and fired a volley of shots when the gunman came outside.

One bullet hit a pistol Roszko had tucked in his pants, another hit the stock of the assault rifle and two bullets hit the man in the groin area.

He stumbled back into the hut and killed himself.

Under the dirt floor of the hut investigators have found a hidden compartment they believe was used to store weapons. (em/jn)

The ever-vigilant Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan hastily blamed it all on grow ops - as though 20 plants constitutes an operation that qualifies for little more than personal use - and although the initial story has been discredited, the minority Conservatives are pushing for harsher minimum sentencing of those convicted of running grow ops (rather than targeting defaulters on truck payments, which was what began the events that led to the killing of the officers.)

Jay punches a number of holes in their proposal.

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

Phillipine terrorist suspects killed as police retake prison

Mar. 15 - Philippines braces for retaliation after 28 die in prison uprising:

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippines braced for retaliatory attacks after some of the country's most hardened terror suspects were killed in a failed prison uprising that left 28 people dead, most of them inmates killed in a barrage of bullets as hundreds of police stormed the maximum security facility.

The dead included three leaders and a fourth member of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for deadly attacks and ransom kidnappings in which hostages have been beheaded.

The crisis began with an Abu Sayyaf suspect snatching a guard's weapon and quickly turned into a prolonged standoff with at least 10 of the group's top suspects leading the rebellious inmates. Three guards and 24 inmates died - 22 in Tuesday's assault to take back the prison. A police officer also was killed, his body discovered under debris hours after the operation ended.

The next is significant:
Sweat-soaked police marksmen filed out of the building after the assault to the applause of bystanders, escorting prisoners stripped to their underwear and with hands clasped behind their heads.

"The terrorists got what was coming to them," Ignacio Bunye, press secretary for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said in a statement. "The crisis team gave them all the chances to peacefully surrender." (Bolding added.)

Abu Sayaaf has promised to retaliate, but they've bombed, kidnapped and terrorized the Phillipine people for years as part of their SOP so it's not exactly as though they've agitated quietly and peacefully and are only now thinking of escalating their tactics.

The good news:

Three leaders were among four Abu Sayyaf members killed: Alhamzer Manatad Limbong, known as Kosovo; Ghalib Andang, known as Commander Robot; and Nadzmie Sabtulah, alias Commander Global.
Limbong allegedly was involved in a mass kidnapping in 2001-02 that left several hostages - including two Americans - dead, and a ferry bombing a year ago that killed more than 100 people in the Philippines' worst terrorist attack. Others were accused of ransom kidnappings and other criminal acts.
The Phillipine media seems cut from a different cloth than ours:
"Throughout the day, the nation had to listen to the demands of people who had just killed three jail guards and were on trial for multiple murder and kidnapping," The Philippine Star daily wrote in an editorial. "And we wonder why the country is turning into a terrorist paradise."

15:15 - The Australian press has more.

Posted by Debbye at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

Pro-Syria protesters at US Embassy in Beirut

Mar. 15 - The photo below is of yesterday's "Syria Out!" protest which was attended by hundreds of thousands.

Mar. 14 - Lebanon
AP Photo

For reasons I can't even begin to explain, that photo accompanies a news story about a much smaller demonstration held today in Beirut: 2,000 pro-Syrian protesters marched on U.S. Embassy:

The protesters, waving Lebanese flags and chanting, “Ambassador get out! Leave my country free!” stopped at the barbed wire blocking the road about 500 yards from the fortified hilltop compound. The crowd did not try to break through.
I'm not sure how, well, intelligent it is for pro-Syria forces in Lebanon to try to counter the movement for Lebanese sovereignty with "Hate America" messages right now. If they're trying to push that particular button in order to incite the Arab Street then they just aren't paying attention: the Arab Street in Beirut is incited, and they are directing the power of that street for Lebanon and against Syria.

Oh well, they warned us about the Arab Street. Too bad they didn't listen.

14:25 - CNN coverage (with assistance from AP) estimates the demonstrators to be 3,000 pro-Syrian students with the obligatory "Death to America" chants and this:

"Don't interfere, leave us alone, we don't want your fake democracy that we Iraq...through your massacres and human rights breaches there...and in Palestine through your support to Israeli massacres," one speaker said, Reuters reported. (ellipses in original)
I wonder if they will follow the example set - and later regretted - by Sunnis in Iraq and boycott the elections in Lebanon.

Posted by Debbye at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

Ninjas or not? You decide ...

Mar. 15 - I really don't know how to take this. Obviously I should be all puffed up with righteous feminist indignation, but that might lose its effectiveness when I'm doubled over with laughter.

Update: Forgot to include the obligatory be sure and read the comments.

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

Everything you ever wanted to know about Power Corp.

Power Corp chart.jpg
Kevin Steel, Western Standard

Mar. 15 - Have I been complaining about the lack of investigative reporting up here? This graph and accompanying Western Standard news story The scandal spills north prove me wrong:

Just a month before the Canada Free Press revealed that Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, is a member of Power Corp.’s international advisory board--and a close friend and personal adviser to Power’s owner, Paul Desmarais Sr.--a U.S. congressional investigation into the UN scandal discovered that Power Corp. had extensive connections to BNP Paribas, a French bank that had been handpicked by the UN in 1996 to broker the Oil-for-Food program. In fact, Power actually once owned a stake in Paribas through its subsidiary, Pargesa Holding SA. The bank also purchased a stake in Power Corp. in the mid-seventies and, as recently as 2003, BNP Paribas had a 14.7 per cent equity and 21.3 per cent voting stake in Pargesa, company records show. John Rae, a director and former executive at Power (brother of former Ontario premier Bob Rae), was president and a director of the Paribas Bank of Canada until 2000. And Power Corp. director Michel François-Poncet, who was, in 2001, the vice-chairman of Pargesa, also sat on Paribas’s board, though he died Feb. 10, at the age of 70. A former chair of Paribas’s management board, André Levy-Lang, is currently a member of Power’s international advisory council. And Amaury-Daniel de Seze, a member of BNP Paribas’s executive council, also sat on Pargesa’s administrative council in 2002.


The reason investigators [from several Congressional committees] are interested in Power’s possible links to the bank that acted as a clearing house for Oil-for-Food is because the firm also appears to have had a stake in an oil firm that had been working out lucrative contracts with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Subsidiary Pargesa owns the largest single stake in Total Group Inc. (a Belgian-French petroleum multi-national corporation formed from the merger of Total, Petrofina and Elf Aquitaine), which reportedly had been negotiating, prior to the U.S. invasion in March 2003, rich contracts with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. Those regions are estimated to contain roughly a quarter of Iraq’s reserves. The contracts were on the verge of being signed in 1997, one year after the beginning of the UN’s Oil-for-Food program replaced U.S. sanctions on Iraq, when the French government intervened and stopped the deal. Paul Desmarais Jr., now chairman of Power Corp. (Paul Sr. retired in 1996, but is said to be active in the firm), sits on the board of Total, and Power director, François-Poncet, also sat on the board of Total’s predecessor firm, Totalfina Elf. Paribas also owned shares in Total as recently as 2000, records show.

Add up the facts that Power Corp. appears to be connected to an oil company that would benefit extensively if Saddam remained in power, with the bank appointed by the UN to help broker an Oil-for-Food program that appears to have been directly enriching Saddam, and which is being investigated for irregularities that may have abetted the wholesale corruption that eventually engulfed Oil-for-Food, and that Power’s owners have a professional and personal relationship with the man hired by the UN to investigate the corruption, and it’s no wonder that more and more questions are being asked about the firm.

The United Nations has refused to co-operate with the U.S. Congress investigations into the US$67-billion Oil-for-Food program and Security Council members Russia and France have refused to give Volcker the right to subpoena witnesses in the internal UN probe.

Read the whole thing. Email the link to your friends.

Posted by Debbye at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2005

Some things greater than us all

Mar. 14 - I am one of those who never expected Brian Nichols would be taken alive. But reading this account from Ashley Smith, Faith Helped Courthouse Shootings Hostage, I am reminded that I am one of those really Sophisticated People who overlooks the power of simple faith:

Although she knew about the courthouse shootings, Smith said, "It wasn't until after he took his hat off that I knew it was him ... I just thought it was a random mugger or something." Over the course of the night, Nichols untied Smith, and some of the fear lessened as they talked. Nichols told Smith he felt like "he was already dead," but Smith urged him to consider the fact that he was still alive a "miracle."

"You're here in my apartment for some reason," she told him, saying he might be destined to be caught and to spread the word of God to fellow prisoners. She told him his escape from authorities had been a "miracle."


... Gwinnett County Police Officer Darren Moloney [said] "It was an absolutely best-case scenario that happened, a complete opposite of what you expected to happen. We were prepared for the worst and got the best."

The phrase "God works in mysterious ways" comes to mind.

Discussions about the role of religion in the USA are often leveled as accusations, but I think one fact that cannot be discounted is that the horrific events of Sept. 11 found many of us groping for God and finding Him, even after ignoring him for decades.

I'm not trying to preach here, but just sharing a story that has moved me at the deepest levels of my consciousness. It may seem paradoxical, but the movie Dogma had much the same effect on me as I am someone who has been estranged from religion and church because the trappings and pretensions reeked of hypocrisy.

I believe that our renewed value in faith is why we can pursue the war on terror without diminishing the worth of Muslims faithful to the words of their God, and why President Bush is genuinely outraged that al Qaeda and the like have hijacked that religion.

I know many will disagree with my assessment, but maybe they don't understand the degree of humility that religion brings into our lives, and that humility often brings profound respect for other people of other faiths.

Tell the truth, Moms and Dads: when you see how young girls are dressing, don't you wish for more modesty? I'm not saying head-to-toe covering, but maybe you'd like to see daughters with just a little more covering?

A Hindi co-worker recently told me the background story of Diwali. I wouldn't dare try to relate it here as my memory would be necessarily faulty, but the themes that struck me most forcibly were those of honour, duty, and love and I was reminded that, truly, some things are universal.

It's a beautiful story, and I'll try to track down a credible account on google later.

I have to go to work - I overslept a lot this day but after working six nights straight I'd say I was entitled! So long. Mar. 15 - Too bad I can't count - I'd only worked five nights straights and Monday was the sixth.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2005

Monty Python meets the President

March 13 - Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington notes a recent item by George Baker in the London Times Online Praise for Yankees! but minus the permalink to the original article which is What have the Americans ever done for us? Liberated 50 million people... (may require initial, free registration.)

I like Worthington and I'm not taking a personal shot at him, but I do wonder just what it's going to take to get permalinks embedded in online columns and newspapers.

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 PM | Comments (2)

Serendipity Plus

Mar. 13 - Damian Brooks is one persistent fellow (and a smart blogger.) He read a news item that seemed to demean the men and women who join the Canadian military, wanted to scrutinize the report and ask questions, and did some research on the reporter. Result? Serendipity.

It is a fascinating account made all the better by a certain "meant to be" quality. Read the post and follow the links (and then read this by the same Stephen Thorne about the smoke and mirrors of the promised increased funding of the Canadian Forces.)

Well done, Damian!

[I realize the prospect that Canada will simply cease to have a military has been cause for a lot of quiet speculation, but the impact of that on the Canadian psyche would be devastating - just consider these five words: "the tradition of Canadian peacekeeping," which, however poor the current deployments, signify something of considerable value to Canadians and us.]

I'm off to work. So long.

Posted by Debbye at 07:55 PM | Comments (2)

Distasteful, not hate speech

Mar. 13 - Go figure. Don Cherry gets into trouble for stating that it's mostly French and European guys - hockey players - who wear face shields on their helmets, and Mohamed Elmasry says that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets because they are all members of the Israeli army (he later claimed he only meant "some Palestinians" believe that to be so.)

The remarks were investigated, and Elmasry was spared arrest because his remarks were deemed "distasteful," not hate speech.

He didn't even get hit with a 7-second delay.

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

Ayman Nour released from Egyptian jail

Mar. 13 - Good news from Egypt: Egyptian Pres. Hopeful Out of Jail:

Word spread fast of the 40-year-old lawmaker's release, and within 15 minutes, a crowd of 400 supporters swelled to a few thousand. Firecrackers popped on the streets and members of the crowd threw candy in the air and trilled with joy.

"We are paying the price of our search for freedom," Nour said. "They tried for days to destroy a national project, the Tomorrow Party. But they failed."

As the crowd cheered, Nour repeated last week's jailhouse announcement that he would run for president this year against 24-year incumbent Hosni Mubarak.

"I announce that I will run in the presidential elections for you," Nour said.

I am certain plenty of people will deny this had anything whatsoever to do with U.S. criticisms of the arrest.

Posted by Debbye at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

Volcker Commission rectifies "omission" - Updated

Mar. 13 - More on the U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal and the Volcker interim report: Volcker Panel to Correct Frechette Omission which is to say they will correct the report to include her name instead of referring to her only by title as they had when the report was first released.

So why was her name left out?

It's well known that the Volcker commission's executive director, Reid Morden, and Louise Frechette have had a "longstanding professional relationship" for 30 years, according to the Independent Inquiry Committee — dubbed the "Volcker commission" after its chief, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Morden was Canada's deputy minister of foreign affairs in the 1990s. Frechette is U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's No. 2 at the international organization. But Frechette also was Canada's ambassador to the United Nations at the same time Morden was her boss.

The Volcker commission, however, says Frechette did not directly report to Morden in the Canadian Foreign Ministry. The commission offered its take on the Frechette-Morden association following a FOX News story last week.

FoxNews doesn't pull any punches:
Committee officials admit that Morden discussed working on the U.N.-commissioned investigation with Frechette before he took the job with Volcker but they insist the friendship has not influenced Volcker's work at all and that the investigation is being conducted in a thorough and impartial manner.
They are following the Canadian model for citing conflict of interest, which is to airily state "I'm not in any conflict of interest!" to which the bobble-heads - including far too many in the news media up here - obediently assent. The Vocker Commission is investigating fraud which was enabled by that ploy and they caught are using it themselves. How bad is it when you have to investigate the investigators?
Congressional critics like Rep. Tim Murphy, who also is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is investigating Oil-for-Food, has accused the investigation of having an unreported conflict of interest.

"One of the things that occurs when one is part of an investigation is, you disclose in the first page what your relationships are so it's very clear — it's very clear — if there's any potential conflict of interest," said the Pennsylvania Republican.

"The fact that in this report, they didn't even refer to her by name or by title, and it seems to be that there is some attempt here to hide that there is any link or relationship there, I think only heightens or magnifies the concerns here that there's a potential for a conflict of interest."

That is self-evident only to Americans because we have a fairly simple rule which we apply in situations which may constitute a conflict of interest: if it even remotely might be construed as a conflict then it must be cited if only as a "potential" conflict of interest. Simple, right?

(Link via Kate, who does a search of Canadian media on Volcker-Frechette. Guess what she finds? As one of the commenters points out, odd that Canadians would be part of the investigating team as well as a subject of the investigation yet it not rank a mention up here. Maybe it will become a "Heritage Moment" some day. Or not.)

18:03 Canada Free Press is covering the Frechette connection, and is connecting dots:

Louise Fréchette joins the illustrious Canadian connection in the UN Oil-for-Food Program, where there is her former boss, Prime Minister Martin who replaced Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Jean Chretien’s daughter, France is married to Andre Desmarais, the son of Paul Desmarais. Desmarais is the chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Canada's Power Corporation, and the largest shareholder and director of France's TotalFinalElf. TotalFinalElf was one of the largest benefactors of Oil-for-Food contracts. According to the Financial Post, "In 1974, Desmarais, Sr., made Martin president of Canada Steamship Lines and then in 1981, he made him spectacularly rich by selling the company to him and a partner for $180 million." As CFP previously reported, Canada, the seventh largest contributor to the United Nations, will not investigate the Oil-for-Food Program.
(Link via a commenter at this post at The Shotgun, the blog of the Western Standard. (In case it isn't obvious, the Western Standard is also covering the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, aka UNSCAM. There are honest media up here.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:38 AM | Comments (16)

March 12, 2005


Mar. 12 - Alternate title: It's Official, The Meatriarchy's Mental. (Silly play on the post I'm linking to - It's Official: I'm Mental - from The Meatriarchy. Never mind, just read it or none of this will make sense.)

It seems that Antonia Zerbisias attended the Bloggerbash we had a few weeks ago. I learned that after I read some of the posts on the bash and, after the initial surprise, I decided it really didn't matter because I achieved what I wanted from the bash: to see some wonderful people again, listen to stimulating discussions, and relax.

I should note here that I never posted on the bash because everything I wrote turned out gooey and several of the conversations were extremely personal, and my pathetic attempts were rendered even more so after I read Michael's wonderful satire on the evening.

Anyway, to the point of the post. Zerbisias doesn't get blogs if she thinks the end goal is to gain attention from mainstream media - a separate matter from bringing attention to their lapses - much less replace them. It isn't, at least for me. I actively feed off the media to write my posts, but I also feed off my own interpretation, analysis and feelings.

What drives blogs best (again, I'm only speaking for myself) is instantaneous internet access to media publications and to other bloggers around the world. That means that I can check what bloggers in Spain, Italy, and Germany are saying whenever something happens there, and they will be linking to the news items in local papers and then I can try - try - to get a comprehensive picture by comparing different accounts and then I get to apply my common sense! (What journalist is allowed to use common sense? Heh.)

We have similar goals as professional journalists, but are using an expanded number of tools (which includes an expanded number of journalists.) The time-consuming part is tracking what opinions we read and where so we can link back and give credit accordingly.

To the personal: she says in today's column that I had previously:

... accused me of lacking "class, restraint and compassion" in my columns, even as she cheers the war in Iraq.
As I don't write about Zerbisias it took me by surprise as my targets tend more to big-hitters like the Prime Minister of Canada and the NY Times, but I would like to make one correction in that I think it would be more accurate to say that I cheer the goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom, since I tend to remember not only the whats but also the whys. Anyway, I thought of Bob Zangas and finally remembered when I cited her: she had been crowing last spring about how the war bloggers had fallen silent, and cited Kathy Shaidle, who was on a previously and well-announced temporary leave, and Damian Penny, who was still posting regularly. Even so, I still had to search my own site for the post.

I wrote yesterday about events from last March in my lead-up to a post about the fatwa against bin Laden issued by Spanish clerics. Equally horrific events can be found throughout that spring, which is why steely resolve was the theme of the year. We expected a counter-offensive and we got one, and we endured.

She still doesn't get it. I find it amusing that today's column was All. About. Zerbisias. and not about Lebanon, the fatwa issued by Spanish clerics, or the bombing of yet another Iraq funeral procession which can all be connected to OIF. I guess each of us have different priorities.

Anyway, I guess I should respond by posting the reference to Zerbisias on this blog which criticized her unconcealed joy at everything that might imply a setback for US forces without regard for the human cost of those "setbacks" and I cited the pain of the personally felt death of Bob Zangas, a good man who also wrote a blog from Iraq:

The war has a personal face for most of us, and it isn't fun or happy. But for some reason, we manage to keep posting. And we manage to do it with a lot more class, restraint and compassion that anything you churn out.
I stand by that sentiment. The bombings of a funeral procession earlier this week and again today don't make me happy and I don't find posting about them fun - and sometimes the emotion is too much and I end up with an emotional draft but nothing I can publish. I try to maintain focus on the goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom and do cheer the fact that it is now the Iraqi people who are implementing those goals and even inspiring those in the region who want freedom.

Now could somebody please tell me exactly when she arrived? I must have been in a really engrossing discussion if I missed all that huhu.

And did you guys really gush over her? That is so cool. I must remember it and use it against you.

Note: Other responses to that column appear from Kathy, Damian, and Greg. Update: Kate also weighs in. Sorry, guys, Kathy and Kate win this round. Also, it should be noted that there were a number of non-gushing men there.

I have to go to work tonight (insert plaintive chorus of Oh No!) so if I missed any responses please forgive me and let me know.

Mar. 14 - 06:30: Bob lays claim to glories (and fame) (and riches) for being mentioned on page H2 of the Toronto Star. (Bob, why bother with the mysterious-sounding H2 designation? We can't hide the fact that the story appeared in the freaking Entertainment section forever ...)

Canadian Headhunter takes gentle exception (ha!) to the implication that the male bloggers were just regular guys who crave recognition and true lurve. Drink alert on this one, by the way. Michael has a gift for satire and combines it with great imagery but is never mean-spirited. Zerbisias should study his style if she wants people to think she's funny.

Mar. 15 - 07:05 - The Ambler offers another viewpoint. I suspect he and I differ on what we consider humourous, but he gets points for merging two quotes posted 10 months apart which I do consider laughable. Kathy responds. If this is going to be a flame war, I'll hope somebody mentions Hitler so I can lower the Godwin boom on 'em.

Posted by Debbye at 06:06 PM | Comments (5)

March 11, 2005

Ward Churchill's Canadian connection

Mar. 11 - Via Drudge, it seems Ward Churchill has a Canadian connection: he is accused of plagiarizing the work of Professor Fay G. Cohen of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

"The article . . . is, in the opinion of our legal counsel, plagiarism," Dalhousie spokesman Charles Crosby said in summarizing the report's findings.

Churchill did not return calls to his home or office Thursday seeking comment.

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn't pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Cohen still declines to talk publicly about her experience with Churchill, but she agreed the Dalhousie report could be shared with CU officials, Crosby said, because "whatever concerns she may have about her safety are outweighed by the importance she attaches to this information getting out there."

Crosby declined a request for a copy of the report but said it does not contain information about the alleged threat from Churchill.

It is not clear if CU officials are aware of the alleged threat. A CU spokeswoman said officials there would not comment on any matter related to an ongoing review of Churchill's work.


In 1991, Churchill edited a book of essays published in Copenhagen, Denmark, which included a piece by Cohen on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin. When publishers wanted to reprint the essay in the United States, Cohen declined to allow her essay to appear, Crosby said.

So, Churchill penned an essay on the same topic under the name of the Institute for Natural Progress, a research organization he founded with Winona LaDuke. In the contributors section of the book, Churchill said he took the lead role in preparing the essay. (Ellipses in original)

Other cases of plagiarism had been cited by The Rocky Mountain News here. If that isn't enough to fire him, what is? Plagiarism until recently was grounds for immediate expulsion from university, and it's incomprehensible that a professor wouldn't be fired for it.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 PM | Comments (5)

March 11 Honoured

Mar. 11 - March 2004 was a bad month. There were a horrific series of terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan targeting Shi'ia observances of Ashura, the Madrid train bombings, terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan and the Phillippines, and, closer to home, a plague of anti-Jewish graffiti in Toronto. Four contractors were murdered and their bodies mutilated and strung up on a bridge outside Fallujah, and Canadian Andy Bradsell was killed in Iraq protecting a convoy of people trying to restore electrical service in Mosul.

Each of those memories are searing and produced responses both good and bad, but I really didn't see this coming: Muslim clerics in the Islamic Commission of Spain have issued a fatwa on Osama bin Laden and declared terrorist acts totally banned:

The commission's secretary general, Mansur Escudero, said the group had consulted with Muslim leaders in other countries, such as Morocco -- home to most of the jailed suspects in the bombings -- Algeria and Libya, and had their support.

"They agree," Escudero said, referring to the Muslim leaders in the three North African countries. "What I want is that they say so publicly."

(More at Bin Laden fatwa as Spain remembers - Mar 11, 2005.)

My initial reaction was to feel how very, very difficult this was for them. Muslims have felt under intense scrutiny since Sept. 11, and although I could never entirely condemn the natural inclincation of many to close ranks thinking to protect themselves, I was frustrated by the "Yes, but" defense as attacks in Iraq targeting Muslims mounted.

There was too common an assumption that the war on terrorism was some kind of codename for a war on Islamic fundamentalists, somehow assuming that terrorism was the unique province of Muslim fanatics and totally overlooking places like N. Ireland, Columbia and Spain.

There were even numerous arguments these past 4 years over the usefulness of labelling this a "war on terror," but its appropriateness has become more and more evident culminating, for me, with the anti-terror demonstrations last year in Columbia after a night spot there was bombed. They got it, even if some of us were slow to do so.

I suspect that it is due to Spain's internal problems with terrorism perpetrated by Basque separatists in the ETA that put the Islamic Commission of Spain in the unique position of being able to credibly denounce terrorism, including that espoused by bin Laden, and the additional fact that they contacted and communicated with those in countries from which the March 11 attackers originated makes this appear to be more than a local fatwa.

I don't know if this will be the first of many fatwas from different countries or if it will dangle indefinitely as a lone example, but it's a good beginning.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (2)

Honouring the RCMP's fallen

Mar. 11 - I really can't add anything to Thane Burnett's column, Only too human, on the memorial service for the four RCMP officers who were killed last week. It is a beautiful tribute.

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

Pressuring Syria

Mar. 11 - It seems downright astonishing that thus far the worst hasn't happened in Lebanon - no crackdown, no forcible dispersal of demonstrators in Freedom Square, and no arrests. When the "worst" is Hezbollah staging peaceful, pro-Syria demonstrations (leaving aside allegations that participants were trucked in, coerced, etc.) I am still, um, cautiously optimistic.

The words unilateral and multilater have seemingly evolved (and are thus rendered useless) so I'm going with united front to describe the pressure being applied to Syria's total withdrawal from Lebanon and satisfaction that the focus on the withdrawal of Syrian troops is being coupled with the withdrawal of the secret police.

The article in today's Washington Post, Top U.N. Envoy to Present Syria With Ultimatum, contains some further good news that the EU will apply economic pressure on Syria:

"When you look around now, who will bail out Syria's economy? The impact of isolation would further weaken a weak economy, lower living and thereby increase popular discontent," he added.

Syria was worried enough about being isolated after the U.S. Congress passed the Syrian Accountability Act -- which called for punitive steps against Damascus -- that it hastily concluded an economic cooperation agreement with the European Union to have a lifeline, Kattouf said.

That lifeline appears to have been cut. Without an illegal trade in oil to offer as incentive - as Saddam had - Syrian President Assad is slowly being backed into a corner.

Posted by Debbye at 05:59 PM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2005

Sorry, computer problems

Mar. 10 - Sorry I've been off-line; the fan seized on my computer and I had to take it in to the shop.

I haven't made it through all the comments on earlier posts (although I can see things have been busy) nor have I been able to check my mail box yet. I don't know how much I'll be able to do before I head for work tonight (Mark needs to check and respond to his mail as well) so I probably won't be posting on topical events until tomorrow morning.

The sad part is all the stuff I got done while the computer was down -- horrible stuff like "mending" and cleaning the oven. I suppose it was a shame that it was too cold to do the windows ...

Mar. 11 - Still catching up with comments in earlier posts. I'm beginning to understand why the fan gave out ...

Posted by Debbye at 05:21 PM | Comments (3)

March 04, 2005

The Road to Damascus

Mar. 4 - Charles Krauthammer on the cedar revolution in The Road to Damascus

Revolution is in the air. What to do? We are already hearing voices for restraint about liberating Lebanon. Flynt Leverett, your usual Middle East expert, took to the New York Times to oppose the immediate end of Syria's occupation of Lebanon. Instead, we should be trying to "engage and empower" the tyranny in Damascus.

These people never learn. Here we are on the threshold of what Arabs in the region are calling the fall of their own Berlin Wall and our "realists" want us to go back to making deals with dictators. It would be not just a blunder but a tragedy. It would betray our principles. And it would betray the people in Lebanon who have been encouraged by those principles.

I need to sleep, but on behalf of those of us who have to work Friday night, please, please enjoy the opening night of your weekend!

Posted by Debbye at 02:48 PM | Comments (31)

Australia requests appeal for light Bashir sentence

Mar. 4 - Update: 12:42 - Darn, I should have read Belmont Club earlier. Wretchard's post The Foundations of Barad-dur confronts the issue behind the issue.

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was sentenced to 30 months for his part in the 2002 Bali bombing which killed 2002 people:

The radical Muslim cleric was yesterday sentenced to just 30 months in prison for his part in the deadly conspiracy that claimed 88 Australian lives in October 2002.

He was also cleared of four other serious anti-terrorist charges including the 2003 J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta which killed 12 people.

But the court heard no testimony from Mubarok, sentenced to life in prison, or Amrozi, sentenced to death. Mubarok refused to testify, and Amrozi never appeared in the makeshift court in the Agriculture Department's auditorium in south Jakarta.

The judges also found Bashir visited a JI training camp in The Philippines in 2000.

But they cleared the Islamist cleric of all charges connected to the 2003 blast at Jakarta's Marriott hotel, which killed 12 people.


One of Bashir's senior defence lawyers, Mahendradatta, told reporters the judges' finding was "illegal", because they had not relied on direct testimony to convict Bashir, but rather on police interviews.

The preacher has always denied any connection with terrorism, and repeatedly alleged the US and Australia pushed Indonesia into trying him. His lawyers have pointed out Bashir had been in prison for nine months when the suicide bomber attacked the Marriott hotel.

Bashir was jailed shortly after the Bali bombings, and he has already been tried and convicted once. Released and immediately rearrested in April last year, the preacher was charged under Indonesia's new anti-terrorism laws in connection with the Marriott blast, and under the penal code in connection with the Bali bombings. After a five-month trial, the judges from South Jakarta district court acquitted him of all five charges in connection with the Marriott blast, and two of the three charges connected to the Bali bombings.

Both Australia and the U.S. have condemned the light sentence, and Australia has called for the prosecutor to appeal the sentence.
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said the issue was something Australians felt "very passionately" about.

"Our ambassador in Jakarta has already raised with officials in Jakarta that the sentence isn't very long," he said.

"We feel this as Australians because so many Australians died in the Bali bombing. We've got to, as a country, not just a Government, express the view on behalf of those whose loved ones were killed in Bali."

He believed a sentence of about eight years, as sought by the prosecution, would have been more appropriate.

Ba'asyir (Bashir) was found guilty of "an evil conspiracy" but acquitted of direct involvement. As he has already been in jail for 10 months due to his suspected links to the 2003 bombing of the Marriott, he will be released next year. He was acquitted last year of being the head of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group in Indonesia that has ties to al Qaeda.

CNN barely covers the reaction: Dismay over Bali bombing sentence:

Australia will ask Indonesian prosecutors to appeal for a longer jail term, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

"It's of some concern to us that the sentence is as short as it is. We're disappointed about that. We'd like to see a longer sentence," Downer told Australian television.

"I have instructed our embassy in Jakarta to raise this whole question of the short sentence with the Indonesian authorities and to say from our perspective we'd like to see a longer sentence," Downer said.

"We ask that the length of the sentence be appealed in the Indonesian courts."

Although the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said that the light sentence could provoke futher terrorist attacks against Australia, intelligence agencies there have not reported an increase in threats, according to Attorney-General Phllip Ruddock.

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)

Senate votes to ban Canadian cattle

Mar. 3 - In a further blow both to President Bush, who has worked to re-open the border to Canadian cattle, and the Canadian beef trade, the U.S. Senate blocked importing Canada beef by a bipartisan vote of 52-46.

This isn't about missile defense, people, although that is little comfort to beef farmers and meat packers up here. The bipartisan vote in the Senate (and the probability is that measure will pass in the House of Rep.) was due to concerns about being able to re-establish trade with Japan and South Korea because they banned American beef when a cow with BSE was discovered in Canada two years ago.

Let me repeat: BSE was discovered on an Alberta farm over two years ago. American beef was therefore banned in Japan and South Korea because the source might have been Canadian. (Japan wants the origin of the beef indicated on the labels. We said no.) Canada's interests lie in re-opening the American market, American interests lie in re-opening the Asian market. Meeting both expectations is proving difficult.

Nevertheless, Martin's decision not to participate in the proposed missile shield is being factored into this latest setback by "some" Canadians:

Some Canadian industry observers wondered just how much support to expect from U.S. officials clearly disappointed about Canada's recent decision to stay out of the American ballistic missile defence program.
Get over yourselves. Canada's decision to stay out is not relevant. The manner in which Martin chose to make the announcemnent without informing President Bush first and the timing, which occurred while Bush was attending a summit with Russian President Putin, reflects poorly on Martin but it doesn't derail missile defense. We'll defend ourselves, and Canada will continue posturing. In other words, business as usual, and many would like business to include re-opening the cattle and beef market.

As for the extent of the President's "influence" in Congress, it's hard for Canadians to understand the workings of the U.S. government structure which separates the executive and legislative branches of the government. The word separate must be applied literally: each branch of the government - the executive, the legislative and the judicial - guards its powers jealously. The system may be unwieldy at times, but it works to prevent any branch from becoming too powerful.

The CNN article says that the President will veto the bill (that's one of those "checks and balances" things) if it passes the House and comes to his desk and it doesn't look as though they have enough votes at present to override his veto (that's another.)

It's hard for people who live with Parliaments to understand our Congress, but if it's any comfort, it is equally bewildering for Americans to grasp the subtleties of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet being members of Parliament and the routine practice of invoking party discipline for votes. (Don't get me wrong, such can be invoked in the U.S., but it really, really pisses off the electorate. Members of the House face re-election every two years -- they don't dare piss off their constituents by appearing like sheep.)

"Some" Canadians seem overly anxious to see this as payback. It will be interesting to see how this story progresses.

Posted by Debbye at 08:05 AM | Comments (57)

Assad to address Syrian parliament Saturday

Mar. 4 - Syrian president Bashar Assad is going to address the Syrian parliament Saturday in which he is expected to be 'announcing partial pullout' of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the redeployment of those remaining to the border.

Russia has joined the growing number of countries urging Syria to withdraw:

"Syria should withdraw from Lebanon, but we all have to make sure that this withdrawal does not violate the very fragile balance which we still have in Lebanon, which is a very difficult country ethnically," Reuters quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

Moscow abstained when the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 calling for foreign forces to leave Lebanon and militias to disarm. But Lavrov said the resolution, like any other Security Council measure, must be implemented.

I'll leave that one alone. It is too easy.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said Lavrov's talks with al-Moalim would focus on the U.N. resolution requiring the Syrian pullout, The Associated Press reported.
The CNN story also elaborates on the communications from the Saudis and Egyptians:
And on Thursday, Saudi leader Crown Prince Abdullah sharply told Syrian President Bashar Assad to start getting out soon or face deeper isolation, wire services reported.

Abdullah told Assad that "Syria must start withdrawing soon, otherwise Saudi-Syrian relations will go through difficulties," Reuters quoted one Saudi official as saying.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the Saudi comments lacked credibility, adding: "The talks were...constructive and fruitful and were conducted in an extremely amicable fashion," according to Reuters.

Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo on Thursday, added to the pressure, expressing support for the diplomatic push by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, AP reported.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Wednesday he has long encouraged Assad to withdraw.

"I have been talking to him about the withdrawal for two years because I was afraid of the external pressure," he told reporters Wednesday. "Now I hope the issue will pass peacefully."

I noted that there was no mention in this article of any plans for the withdrawal of the Syrian secret police in Lebanon, which is a key demand of the Lebanese opposition, nor was there any mention of finding the murderers of Rafik Hariri, another demand which many suspect is connected to the secret police.

President Bush, in an interview with the NY Post, has set a deadline of May for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon so the country can have free elections:

"The subject that is most on my mind right now is getting Syria out of Lebanon, and I don't mean just the troops out of Lebanon, I mean all of them out of Lebanon, particularly the secret service out of Lebanon — the intelligence services," he said.

"This is non-negotiable. It is time to get out . . . I think we've got a good chance to achieve that objective and to make sure that the May elections [in Lebanon] are fair. I don't think you can have fair elections with Syrian troops there," the president said in a wide-ranging Oval Office interview with The Post's editorial board.

Asked if there is a threat of military action as an "or else" if they don't, Bush replied, "No. The 'or else' is further isolation from the world. You know, the president should never take any options off the table, [but] my last choice is military."

It was a wise move to set a specific deadline for total Syrian withdrawal and a month (date probably open pending consultation with the U.N.S.C., maybe?) for free elections in Lebanon. It gives the political opposition there a focus around which to organize and will help maintain the momentum that will force Syria out.

Hope trumps despair, remember?

Posted by Debbye at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

4 RCMP officers dead after Alberta shootout

Mar. 3 - I have to run off to work, but want to note this (Four Alberta RCMP officers killed during raid.)

By American standards it may not be big news, but up here, it is indeed major. And shocking.

I support the decriminalization of marijuana, but too many of these grow houses are run by people who really are criminals (as in criminally-minded.)

As I said, a shootout up here involving the deaths of 4 law enforcment officials is shocking news (even in Toronto, where shootouts are becoming too damned commonplace, but I can't recall an instance where 4 officers died.)

I'm off to work, more tomorrow.

Mar. 4 - I fixed a grammatical error and clarified what I meant by "criminal." The organization and set-up of most "grow" houses is actually quite impressive, and it's hard not to appreciate the pure entrepreneurial spirit they embody. Unfortunately, the downside is organized criminal connections and the fact that they are illegal (and drive up my hydro prices!)

The assailant was the 5th casualty, apparently by his own hand, and it looks as though he was a known wacko. At least we and the families of the slain officers will be spared a trial.

The main story is here, a partial biography of Roszko is here, and former Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino's response is here.

14:00 - According to this, they also found a chop shop and may have been at the farm initally looking for stolen cars following up a tip regarding a high speed chase. Also note how quickly this tragedy has become politicized by the Canadian Public Safety Minister, Anne McClellan, even though she may speaking without all the facts.

14:21 - The RCMP has opened a book online for those who wish to express their condolences.

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (7)

Hope trumps despair

Mar. 3 - Good item from the Montreal Gazette: 'Great democratic experiment' ignited by U.S., analyist says:

The dramatic changes underway in Lebanon are signs of a "great democratic experiment" ignited by the United States that could sweep through the Middle East this year, says a scholar of Islamic politics here.

"Democracy is knocking at the door of this country and, if it's successful in Lebanon, it is going to ring the doors of every Arab regime," says Nizar Hamzeh, a political scientist at the American University in Beirut and author of a new book on Islamic militia movements.

"I don't think any country in this region is going to be spared from this wave."

After a report on the meeting of the current opposition in Lebanon, the article continues to interview Hamzeh:
Hamzeh said the difficult work of solving these issues and bringing true democracy and sovereignty to Lebanon now falls to its people. But he insisted yesterday that the United States deserves the credit for inspiring the winds of change in this region.

"Definitely the credit here is to the United States and President (George W.) Bush," he said yesterday.

"What's happening in Lebanon is not just power of the people, with all due respect to them. Whether people like the U.S. or hate it, this process of peaceful political transformation would not have started if the U.S. had not initiated it."

Hamzeh said the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, coupled with U.S. pressure on Syria and Iran to mend their ways as sponsors of terrorism - what he calls "coercive diplomacy that falls just short of war" - has emboldened opposition movements throughout the Middle East and created a climate of political opportunity in a region whose people were desperate for change but needed international encouragement.

He said elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, plus the prospect of genuinely free elections in Lebanon and Egypt, are signs of a movement that could spread to Jordan, the Gulf states and even Syria and Iran.

In Lebanon, however, Hamzeh said the rest is now up to the country itself. "The U.S. can't fight all our battles."

Some Lebanese at Beirut's protest camp agreed yesterday the United States laid the groundwork for their goals. The handful of people interviewed by CanWest News Service said they were fans of Bush, but also said the United States and Europe need to do much more.

"The U.S. should invade Syria, just like Iraq," said Peter Geagea, a university student. "Syria has been talking for 15 years about leaving Lebanon, and it never has. The only way is to force them out."

At the nearby grave and memorial of Hariri, whose murder helped spark the Beirut protests, businessman Nage Abesaad said the Lebanese people, not the United States, are the agents of change here.

"This is the first time that we've stood up together, as one, and demanded freedom," he said. As for Lebanon leading the rest of the Middle East into a new political era, Abesaad was skeptical.

"We will have true democracy here, maybe," he said, "but in Syria, I don't know. If you want real peace in the Middle East, you need to get rid of the (ruling) Baath Party in Syria - the same way the U.S. did in Iraq."

The U.S. has pledged assistance in organizing and holding elections in Lebanon, which is somewhat less than invading Syria but is considerably more than anyone imagined a year ago.

"Coercive diplomacy that falls just short of war" is made much easier when 140,000 troops are parked next door, something Syria could not have failed to note, and their response will likely be to stage an increased number of attacks in Iraq -- I suspect Syria would prefer they fight the US in Iraq rather than in Syria.

David Frum has some ideas as to what Syria is likely to do to re-introduce the rule of fear to combat the hope that is beginning to thrive here.

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

Pressure builds on Syria

Mar. 3 - Bush renews demand on Syria:

"The world is speaking with one voice when it comes to making sure that democracy has a chance to flourish in Lebanon and throughout the greater Middle East," he said. "Freedom is on the march. It's a profound period of time.

"So I look forward to continuing to work with friends and allies to advance freedom -- not America's freedom, but universal freedom, freedom granted by a Higher Being," he added.
U.N. Resolution 1559 calls for full and immediate withdrawal, not "in a few months" as Syrian president Assad has pledged, and full withdrawal of the 15,000 troops stationed there, not partial as Assad has pledged.

The Lebanese opposition is maintaining the pressure to withdraw and will not engage in talks about forming a new government until Syrian troops and intelligence personnel have withdrawn.

The House of Rep. Middle-east sub-committee of the U.S. Congress passed a resolution yesterday calling for the withdrawal and asserting support for Lebanon sovereignty:

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, calls Lebanon a "captive country" and describes Syria's occupation as "a long-term threat to the security of the Middle East."

The measure also demands "the immediate release of all Lebanese detainees in Syria and Lebanon" and calls on Mr. Bush to "freeze all assets in the United States belonging to Lebanese government officials who are found to support and aid" the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
The Saudis too are urging Syria to withdraw, saying failure to do so would would strain relations between the two countries.
Assad said he is trying all he can to resolve the problem but that not everything is up to him, the official told The Associated Press.
An Arab summit is scheduled for March 23 in Algeria, and CNN reports that
The Saudis rejected a Syrian request that the summit officially ask Syria to withdraw, which would provide political cover by giving the pullback an Arab endorsement, the Saudi official said.

Before the talks in Riyadh, Syria told Arab countries it needs to keep 3,000 troops and early-warning stations inside Lebanon to maintain its security, an Arab diplomat in Cairo said Thursday. But Arab countries maintained the Syrian demand is not viable, the diplomat told the AP.

Arab leaders meeting in Cairo publicly urged Syria to follow through on a 1989 accord to withdraw its troops from neighboring Lebanon, with no timetable set -- even as they negotiated behind the scenes to push Syria to move quickly.

Syria has said it would comply with the accord. But an Arab diplomat involved in efforts to resolve the crisis said the Syrians told Arab leaders earlier this week that they want a new, broader arrangement -- including resuming peace talks with Israel -- as part of any troop withdrawal from Lebanon. Syria wants Israelis to leave the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau they captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Syria still wants to keep about 3,000 troops in Lebanon "for the time being" -- without giving a timetable -- and to keep "early monitoring stations" in eastern Lebanon.

The Syrian army already operates radar stations in Dahr el-Baidar, on mountain tops bordering Syria. Israeli warplanes have attacked the sites in the past.

Haven't the Syrians absorbed the implications of the failure of the Palestinians to rejoice after the last murderous attack in Israel last week? Old strategies aren't working and there is indeed a new wind blowing.

Posted by Debbye at 05:54 PM | Comments (2)

Fact checking CTV

Mar. 3 - According to CTV, PM Martin attempted to advise President Bush prior to announcing his decision not to participate in the missile shield, but Bush ignored Martin's call.

A day before he announced that Canada would have nothing to do with U.S. missile defence, Prime Minister Paul Martin placed a call to the American president to tell him of his decision, senior American officials told CTV News.

But the leaders never actually spoke that day. And almost a week later, President George W. Bush has yet to return Martin's call.

This is further evidence of Washington's deep displeasure with Canada's decision to opt out of the U.S. ballistic missile defence program (BMD).

According to this, Martin announced the decision on Thursday, Feb. 24.

According to this, President Bush was attending a summit with Pres. Putin in Slovakia on Feb. 24.

Note how cleverly the article is worded: Paul Martin placed a call to the American president to tell him of his decision, senior American officials told CTV News. It doesn't say if the call was placed to Washington D.C. or Bratislava.

Now it is possible that the CTV is the only news media in the entire world which was not aware that there was a major summit between the leaders of the USA and Russia on the day that Martin made his announcement. In fact, I'd say it was probable, or they would have mentioned that in their article as a possible reason why the President didn't speak to Martin when he called.


(CTV link via Kate at the Western Standard blog, The Shotgun.)

Mar. 4 - According to this, President Bush and PM Martin did have a chat about Canada's participation in BMD at the NATO conference:

A U.S. State Department source told The Canadian Press that Bush is upset Martin didn't tell him personally about Canada's decision not to join the missile plan when the two met at the NATO (news - web sites) summit in Brussels last week.

The source said Bush asked Martin specifically about the matter during a brief conversation and the prime minister didn't mention that a decision had been made. A short time later, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew told his American counterpart Canada was opting out. (Bolding added.)

I doubt any of this is going to change minds up here. People like Lloyd Axworthy (great name!) are having much too much fun posturing. (By the way, Let It Bleed's response to him constitutes a direct hit.) Others, somewhat to their credit, are worried that the U.S. Senate was thinking payback when they voted to keep the border closed to Canadian beef but let's be honest: when in the history of the U.S. did we allow petty differences with allies (or even neutrals) get in the way of trade?

We're greedy, money-grubbing captialists, remember?

Posted by Debbye at 06:43 AM | Comments (5)

March 02, 2005

Chrenkoff interviews Hanson

Mar. 2 - Chrenkoff interviews Hanson.

Two giants in one post. I'll never be the same.

Posted by Debbye at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

Things that horrify, things that really horrify

Mar. 2 - Greyhawk's post begins with the murder of a judge in Iraq assigned to Saddam's trial. Then he takes a brief look at Ramsey Clark's posturing about joining Saddam's defense team.

And then what the sands reveal about Saddam's crimes.

"Rush to war" indeed.

Mar 3 - Welcome Mudville Gazette readers! I almost wish this post was longer, but the first comment under this post actually says it all and far better than any elaboration I could have added.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (2)

Ya mean that was the plan all along?

Mar. 2 - Sorry, the site went down for awhile.

It all seemed very simple. The Iraqi elections, despite the nay-sayers, were held. As promised. When they were promised. The Iraqis -voters and security personnel -did the rest.

A columnist with a Chicago paper wrote that maybe he'd have to admit that Bush was right all along.

And then the Lebanese people responded to the murder of Rafik Hariri with peaceful solidarity and determination. Those of who who understood and supported the aim of bringing consensual government and respect for human rights to the Mid-east applauded them.

Thomas Friedman wrote a column, and the NY Times wrote an editorial.

But now the rush onto the bandwagon is downright getting out of hand. (Ace is calling it a stampede.) Respected liberals are admitting that Iraq was a good place to start. Others are even going so far as to admit that maybe Bush was right. Even the BBC and Arab media is beginning to catch on.

But then there are others, and Jon Stewart is messing with a guest and suggesting that nobody knew that Operation Iraqi Freedom was all about bringing democracy to the Mid-east! It was a secret! It was a secret plan hatched by Karl Rove and nobody knew (except for the millions of Americans who voted for Bush - they knew!)

18:30: Ace has been on a roll keeping up with all this, and he's got a round-up of his "stampede" posts here. (Of course he would do that after I've been patiently linking every time a new post popped up on his site and me doing all that hard work.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (2)

Regime change

Mar. 2 - Glenn Reynolds re-posts some thoughts from 2002 on the hollow nature of despotic governments and preference cascades. His excerpt is taken from Patriotism and Preferences

:... In what's known as a "preference cascade," the vanishing of flags and other signs of patriotism from the homes, cars and businesses of the style-setters caused a lot of other people to go along with the trend, perhaps without even fully realizing it, a trend that only strengthened with the politicization of flag displays in several 1980s political campaigns.

The result was a situation in which a lot of people's behavior didn't really match their beliefs, but merely their beliefs about what was considered acceptable. Such situations are unstable, since a variety of shocks can cause people to realize the difference and to suddenly feel comfortable about closing the gap.

That's what the September 11 attacks did.

Sometimes it takes a traumatic event for individuals to decide that they don't care what their neighbours think - they're going to express their feelings and do it assertively.

For Americans it was Sept. 11. For the Lebanese it was the murder of Rafik Hariri.

Posted by Debbye at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

The NY Times ain't dead

Mar. 2 - I used to scan the NY Times editorial first thing each morning but gave it up -- too soon, it would seem. With encouragement from this post at Roger L. Simon's blog, I logged on to behold:

Editorial: Mideast Climate Change:

It's not even spring yet, but a long-frozen political order seems to be cracking all over the Middle East. Cautious hopes for something new and better are stirring along the Tigris and the Nile, the elegant boulevards of Beirut, and the impoverished towns of the Gaza Strip. It is far too soon for any certainties about ultimate outcomes. ...

Still, this has so far been a year of heartening surprises - each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power. Washington's challenge now lies in finding ways to nurture and encourage these still fragile trends without smothering them in a triumphalist embrace.

Okay, so the last sentence proves that aliens didn't take over the Times as we slept. But is there anything wrong with claiming that what triumphed is the human spirit?

However, the editorialists at the Times need, well, editors:

Yesterday, with protests continuing, the pro-Syrian cabinet resigned. Washington, in an unusual alliance with France, continues to press for full compliance with the Security Council's demand for an early and complete Syrian withdrawal. (Bolding added)
Come on, Times, you can't have it both ways. Either the French are our "long-time allies," as the folks at the Times (and the French) have often averred in the past, or an alliance with them is "unusual." Of course, having French troops in Afghanistan somewhat settles that issue for those who care to look.

I tend to believe that having both France and the USA apply pressure on Syria has restrained Syria's hand, and the Bush administration stated in the past that they would likely find allies on a case by case basis. Events in Lebanon produced agreement by a large number of allies - including Canada - and the U.N.S.C. resolution calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon appears likely to be implemented, if only partially (for now.)

But that never would have happened without the valour of the Lebanese people, and that's something that no one should ever forget.

Posted by Debbye at 12:58 AM | Comments (5)

March 01, 2005

Mark Steyn

Mar. 1 - New column up at the Telegraph (UK) by Mark Steyn, The Arabs' Berlin Wall has crumbled, in which he looks at the rapid shifts in policies in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the displeasure of Palestinians over the latest terrorist attack in Israel and asks:

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."

... In the space of a month, the Iraq election has become the prism through which all other events in the region are seen.

No, I can't condense Steyn. Just read it.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (15)

Frechette blocked UNSCAM probe

Mar. 1 - Investigations into UNSCAM have revealed a systematic attempt by the Deputy Secretary-General, Canadian Louise Frechette, to block results of audits into the Oil-for-Food program from the Security Council:

UNITED NATIONS — With U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan next up for review by Paul Volcker’s inquiry into the Oil-for-Food scandal, a crucial question is whether Volcker will expand upon information tying the scandal directly to the U.N. chief’s office — by way of Annan’s second-in command, Louise Frechette.
Louise Frechette went to the U.N. after out of a long career with the Canadian civil service including a term as Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. 1992-1995. She became the first Deputy Sec.-Gen. of the U.N. in 1998. Is that sufficient Cancon to put this story on the CBC Evening News?
Four years into the seven-year Oil-for-Food program, with graft and mismanagement by then rampant, Frechette intervened directly by telephone to stop United Nations auditors from forwarding their investigations to the U.N. Security Council. This detail was buried on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released Feb. 3.

This decision from within Annan’s office left only the Secretariat privy to the specifics of the waste, bungling and contractual breaches detailed by U.N. internal auditors in dozens of damning reports. The extent of what Annan’s office knew was not available either to the Security Council or the public until Congress finally forced the issue and the United Nations produced the reports in conjunction with a Volcker "briefing paper" in January.


Frechette’s actions stand in sharp contrast to the assertions of Annan and his public relations staff that the Security Council – and not the Secretariat – supervised the more than $110 billion Oil-for-Food program. Her decision, as documented by Volcker, also places responsibility squarely in the secretary-general’s office for obscuring mismanagement of the program from the Security Council.

The cover-up did not stop with Benon Sevan, the now-disgraced Oil-for-Food executive director, who reportedly blocked audits that originated lower in the chain of command. The obstruction went all the way up to Annan’s office on the 38th floor.

Frechette's intervention was disclosed by the Volcker committee as the result of an interview with Dileep Nair, head of the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the organization’s internal watchdog. In the year 2000, Nair’s audit department repeatedly urged that audits of Oil-for-Food be sent to the Security Council.

On Nov. 30, 2000, Nair’s top auditor sent a memo to Sevan informing him that despite his objections, the auditors planned to start sending reports on Oil-for-Food to the Security Council. By Nair’s account, what settled the issue was a telephone call from Frechette, who came down on the side of Sevan. After that, reports Volcker, Nair "abandoned the effort to report directly to the Security Council on [Oil-for-Food] matters."

When questioned about the telephone call at a recent press conference, Frechette said she had no recollection of it. “But I’m quite prepared to accept Mr. Nair’s recalling the conversation,” she told reporters. (Bolding added.)

The article mentions that although the Volcker Commission interviewed Frechette, the results as well as her name were not published. During her tenure as Canadian Ambassador to the U.N., current Volcker executive director Reid Morden was the Canadian Deputy Minister.

That explains something else to me: why the name of former Canadian PM Jean Chretien and his ties to Paul Desmarais as well as Paribas and Total haven't been made more public.

So what did Frechette know and when did she know it?

Frechette had connections to a number of Oil-for-Food figures. She had direct oversight of both U.N. watchdog Nair and Oil-for-Food director Sevan, although both reported to the Secretary-General. .. Asked why Frechette was mentioned only by title, not by name, Morden refused to comment.
Audits were blocked with the excuse that it would be a waste of money to audit a "program with an uncertain future" but evidently the temporary nature of the program was sufficient to spend $3 million to rent and renovate new officies for it.

I've already quoted too much from the news report, but Canadians who have followed the Adscam inquiries will probably recognize that some aspects of the failure to audit the Oil-for-Food program parallel those which allowed millions of dollars to be stolen in the name of national unity.

As with Adscam, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was introduced for a worthy goal, in the latter case to assist the people of Iraq who were harshly affected by the oil sanctions imposed when Saddam didn't meet his obligations under the cease-fire that ended Gulf War I.

As with Adscam, those administering the program reported directly to the top, i.e., the Secretary-General's office, not the U.N. Security Council.

And, as with Adscam, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was cynically manipulated to enrich individuals, too many of whom are connected with Jean Chretien.

Also, please keep in mind that there are no provisions to protect "whistleblowers" in the U.N.

The closing paragraph is particularly amusing:

Among other things, that audit found that Sevan had failed to hold any management meetings of his Oil-for-Food team for the previous two years. It remains to be explained how that fact had escaped the attention of Sevan’s direct supervisor, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, or that of Kofi Annan himself.
As with Adscam, ...

[Note: I've edited out the (search) markers in the Fox Report.]

Mar. 2 - Kate has kindly linked to this post, and has done some research which ties Volcker, Frechette, Morden, Desmarais and Maurice Strong. Sheesh, is anyone of influence in Canada not connected to Desmarais?

Naturally, I expect a major story on the CBC about these revelations, as well as outraged editorials in the Star and Globe and Mail. It shouldn't be too hard, as bloggers have done the digging.

Just imagine this was about Halliburton - I'm certain it would be plastered all over the front pages, but something with true Cancon can't summon a particle of interest. The words smug hypocrisy barely covers it. (And you folks in the USA think you have a problem with the myopia of MSM? Trust me, we've got you beat.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (33)

2,000 Iraqis say "No" to terrorism

Mar. 1 - One reaction to the car bomb in Hillah that killed over 125 and wounded nearly 150:

More than 2,000 people demonstrated Tuesday at the site of a car bombing south of Baghdad that killed 125 people, chanting "No to terrorism!"


The Internet statement by al-Qaida in Iraq said that the attack targeted a registration center for Iraqi police and National Guardsmen. It made no mention of the medical clinic or a nearby market where a number of people were also killed.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the statement, which was posted on the Web site that has previously carried al-Qaida material. The statement was also posted under the name of Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the designated media coordinator of al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

More than 2,000 people held the impromptu demonstration on front of the clinic, chanting "No to terrorism!" and "No to Baathism and Wahhabism!"

Wahhabism is a reference to adherents of the strict form of Sunni Islam preached by Osama bin Laden, while the Baath party was the political organization that ran Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The demonstrators also demanded that interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi step down.

Police prevented people from parking cars in front of the clinic or the hospital, where authorities blocked hospital gates with barbed wire to stave off hundreds of victims' relatives desperate for information on loved ones.

Provincial Gov. Walid al-Janabi said no funeral procession would be held in Hillah due to "security reasons." He did not elaborate, but police said they feared new attacks. (Bolding added)
From AP

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

Iraqi voters deserve Nobel Peace Prize

Mar. 1 - Peter Worthington supports an idea raised by Daniel Henninger of the WSJ that the Iraqi voters deserve Nobel Peace Prize:

As Henninger notes, the voters demonstrated "in a single day a commitment not seen in our lifetime to peace, self-determination and human rights -- the goals for which the Nobel Peace Prize began in 1901."
I need to get some sleep. More later.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 AM | Comments (13)