October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks 1913-2005

Rosa Parks and MLK.bmp
Rosa Parks and Dr. King

Oct. 25 - Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. What words can possibly express the immense respect and admiration due this woman who, by a simple act of dignity, brought national attention to a deep injustice in our country thus prodding at and eventually awakening the conscience of that nation?

There was an additional layer to the issue: Mrs. Parks was a woman and it was considered a decent courtesy for a man to give up his seat for a woman, yet she was supposed to surrender her seat to him. It was impossible not to recognize that Mrs. Parks had been denied a common courtesy which her gender should have accorded her - if one considered her to be human. And, of course, that was the ultimate question.

I was too young to be fully aware of the boycott but as I grew older and learned more about Jim Crow laws (those laws mandating "separate but equal" facilities) I was incredulous - as perhaps only a child could be - when I learned that there were states that had laws requiring that, e.g., schools, hotels, drinking fountains, swimming pools, beaches and washrooms be segregated: there must be separate facilities for white people and "colored" people. Anyone's sense of fair play was further outraged when it was recognized that the reality was that there was not necessarily a duplication of services; for example, African-Americans were not allowed to drink out of water fountains marked "For Whites Only" but that did not necessarily mean that there was a water fountain nearby marked "For Coloreds Only." (The indignity worsens when we recall that the same lack of facilities held true for washrooms.)

Those times are thankfully in the past. They may be part of our history but they are past history, and although there are still racists in our midst they no longer have the acquiescence of the state. Which, again, brings us back to Rosa Parks.

The biography which CNN offers in the above link is adequate, but a better one is available here. Both articles note her involvement in the NAACP, but did you know that it was founded in 1909? (read the time line at that last link - you may find some surprises.)

There will likely be a great many public tributes over the next few days but I'd like to think that the better ones will be those many of us will be paying in our hearts to this woman who, with Dr. King, challenged us to be better Americans and better Christians and Jews.

Thank you, Mrs. Parks, and God bless you. You made us better.

Posted by Debbye at 12:59 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

It's not nice to lie to Congress

Oct. 25 - Last May British MP George Galloway scornfully challenged Sen. Norm Coleman to produce evidence that he had received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein during the former's testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which at the time was investigating the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. Well, the evidence been produced (Senate panel accuses British lawmaker) and the U.S. Department of Justice will be asked to consider charging Galloway with perjury and obstruction of congressional proceedings.

The British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, proclaims Galloway's wife 'received £100,000 from Iraqis':

The Palestinian-born wife of George Galloway, the Respect MP, is accused today of receiving $149,980 (about £100,000) derived from the United Nations Iraqi oil-for-food programme.

A report by an investigative committee of the United States Senate says the money was sent to the personal account of Amineh Abu Zayyad in August 2000.


The report includes bank records showing a paper trail from Saddam's ministries to Mrs Galloway. It states that the Iraqis handed several lucrative oil-for-food contracts to the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat, an old friend of the Galloways. A month later, on Aug 3, 2000, Mr Zureikat allegedly paid $150,000 minus a bank commission of $20 from his Citibank account number 500190207 into Mrs Galloway's account at the Arab Bank in Amman.

The senate team also says that a $15,666 payment had been made on the same date to a Bank of Scotland account belonging to Mr Galloway's spokesman, Ron McKay. Last night Mr McKay said he had no recollection of the alleged payment.


Senate staff said at a press conference yesterday that they would send their report to Britain and Jordan for possible action against the Galloways and Mr Zureikat.

George Galloway had been scheduled to go on tour in the eastern U.S. with Jihad Jane and Cindy Sheehan but the trip was abrubtly cancelled last month.

Posted by Debbye at 08:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 24, 2005

Reactions to the Mehlis Report

Oct. 24 - I wish I could report on official Canadian reaction to the Mehlis Report but thus far there hasn't been any. The rest of the world isn't waiting for Canada, though, and Detlev Mehlis, who was commissioned by the U.N. to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, will be addressing the United Nations Security Council tomorrow. It seems likely that the imposition of sanctions on the Assad government will, at the very least, be brought up (U.S., Britain press for action against Syria) :

Diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington said U.S. and French officials have been talking with Russia and other nations about anti-Syria resolutions to put before the Security Council, including the possibility of punitive economic sanctions.
Seems France is still on board, which is good (however deeply I may distrust them.)

It's not really so surprising that Canadian officials haven't commented yet, especially as you'd never know the Mehlis Report was all that damning if you read the CBC webpage today (nor would you find a link to an earlier story on that report.) But you can trust the CBC to emphasize the anti-American element in the following story: pro-government demonstration in Syria today:

In a country where protests are rare, a rally in support of the Syrian government virtually shut down central Damascus Monday.

Among the hundreds of thousands of people at the rally – and a similar event in the northern city of Aleppo – there were government employees let off work for the occasion and students released from classes with the government's blessing.

Imagine: government blessed demonstrations! I haven't seen anything like it in that region since Saddam ruled Iraq. (Do reporters in Syria travel with "minders?" Just asking.)
They chanted anti-American slogans to protest a United Nations report released last week that said Syria and Lebanon played roles in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14. (Emphasis added)
They dislike the findings of a U.N. report written by a German so they chant anti-American slogans. I could be really, really wrong but I am beginning to wonder if this might have been a "staged" event.

The CBC fills us in on more items from the report:

The same report also scolded Syria for its less-than-full co-operation with the United Nations investigation.

[I deleted intervening paragraphs which are not about the report's contents but the CBC report is copied in full in the extended entry for your reading pleasure.]

Syria vigorously denies the allegations in the U.N. report, dismissing its contents as politicized gossip.

The CBC does not report that Detlev Mehlis concluded that leading members of the Syrian and Lebanese governments were involved in the assassination nor does it note that last-minute alterations suppressed the names of several leading Syria officials (including members of Bashir Assad's immediate family) raising suspicions that Kofi Annan had broke his pledge not to interfere. In fact, the CBC doesn't even mention that a computer "gaffe" enabled recipients of the report to retrieve the deleted names.

Imperative No. 1 at the CBC is to suppress any news that makes the U.N. look bad or, failing that, downplay it. (Imperative No. 2 is to hype news that makes the U.S.A. look bad; note the lead picture on their Indepth Lebanon page!) That's part of the reason why some of us are somewhat cynical when CBC reporters are named to the Senate or appointed Governor-General. When your job as a reporter includes tainting the news or even failing to report the news, The News Canadians Trust isn't very trustworthy and neither are its reporters.

Although the news report says that there have been calls for U.N. sanctions, no specific country was named (the article does quote President Bush's response to the report, though.) I think it odd that the CBC completely ignored the involvement of both the French and the British not only because of the shared British and French heritage of Canada but also because the two countries are permanent members of the UNSC. Some might think that when 3 out of 5 permanent members are attempting to build a U.N.-based response against Syria that such an event would be newsworthy.

Same old, same old. For the CBC, it's always All. About. America. and not about, say, the Lebanese (or the Iraqis, for that matter) unless it's about a Syrian response which is All. About. America.

The CBC was so anxious to be even-handed that it didn't even mention the response in Lebanon to the report, unlike the AP, Michael Totten and Expat Yank Robert (and the latter has posted some very moving photos of the commemorative ceremonies at Hafrik's grave that were held last Friday.)

14:25: This CTV report on the Syrian demonstrations contains considerably more information about the Mehlis report although no names of suspected perpetrators are mentioned nor is the revelation that the report was altered to removed key names.

There's also a sobering analysis over at Canada Free Press by J. Grant Swank, Jr.: Syria: Murder & mayhem, but who cares? in which he expresses why he believes the Syrians will not be rising up to oust Assad. He makes several good points and, when you come right down to it, this isn't really about internal matters in Syria but that country's behaviour in Lebanon over the past few decades as well as their support of terrorist groups that attack Israel and (I suspect) Iraq.

The following is the CBC report about today's demonstration in Syria:

Syrians turn out for pro-government rally
Last Updated Mon, 24 Oct 2005 10:28:18 EDT
CBC News

In a country where protests are rare, a rally in support of the Syrian government virtually shut down central Damascus Monday.

Indepth: Syria

Among the hundreds of thousands of people at the rally – and a similar event in the northern city of Aleppo – there were government employees let off work for the occasion and students released from classes with the government's blessing.

They chanted anti-American slogans to protest a United Nations report released last week that said Syria and Lebanon played roles in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14.

FROM FEB. 25, 2005: UN investigates Hariri assassination

The same report also scolded Syria for its less-than-full co-operation with the United Nations investigation.

Syria is intent on countering growing criticism over the affair, which includes calls for U.N. sanctions against the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

United States President George W. Bush has labelled the report "deeply disturbing," and called on the U.N. Security Council to act immediately to reprimand Syria.

"Syria Will Never be Another Iraq," read one banner hoisted by protesters at Monday's rally. "Wake up Arabs, Your Turn Will Come Soon," said another.

Syria vigorously denies the allegations in the U.N. report, dismissing its contents as politicized gossip.

Detlev Mehlis, the U.N.'s lead investigator, is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council Tuesday.

Hariri vigorously opposed Syria's domination of Lebanon. He and 20 others were killed when powerful bombs went off near his car in Beirut in early February.

Posted by Debbye at 01:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

"We did nothing to apologize for."

Oct. 24 - More "religious" riots. So are Egyptians rioting over the release of a DVD of a Christian play or in preparation for elections next month?

According to information gleaned from this CNN account, Four die in DVD-fed Muslim rioting, the rioters have won a partial victory because one of the two Coptic candidates, Maher Khalah, has withdrawn from the parliamentary elections.

But they didn't win the big concession, namely an apology:

"We're not going to apologize because we don't want it to become a precedent," said [Kamil] Sediq of the Coptic Community Council, a secular body of prominent Copts established in 1874 to oversee affairs of the community. "We did nothing to apologize for."
I wish more would follow his example by not apologizing when they've done nothing wrong.

Posted by Debbye at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Still reading "that" book

Oct. 24 - I'm glad I persevered in reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It was becoming more chore than pleasure until Gail Wynand was introduced, and I found him to be so interesting that I continued to read it by standing beneath the street lamp as I waited for my bus this morning.

Even Dominique was beginning to make sense.

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Nadz Online

Oct. 24 - Many thanks to Kevin of Boots on the Ground for recommending Nadz Online.

This is extemely funny.

Posted by Debbye at 01:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2005

The Media got it wrong? Surely you jest.

Oct. 23 - John B. was right on the money. From Newsbusters, Stephen Dupont, the Australian Journalist Who Filmed Burning Taliban Bodies Suggests Media Got it All Wrong and that "the bodies were burned purely for reasons of hygiene when the local villagers refused to retrieve them, and that the American soldiers didn't do anything wrong." (My bolding.)

I sympathize with the villagers who refused to pay any honour to the dead Taliban. I doubt somehow that they are among those who are expressing how shocked, appalled, offended and humiliated they feel - at least now that the Taliban has been removed from power.

There is also some discussion about the psy-ops strategy which I like to call "Come out and play if you have a pair."

Am I take this too lightly? Maybe it's just my way of establishing a defensive perimeter so as to better withstand the expected battery of vapidly moralizing journalists who won't be able to refrain from running and re-running this story into the ground.

Do members of the news media actually fail to grasp what happens when terrorists detonate bombs? The blackening of the body parts is not due to the intense cold.

(Via Neale News.)

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Michael Yon on the Iraq referendum

Oct. 23 - Michael Yon's eagerly awaited article on the Iraqi referendum vote All Quiet on the Baghdad Front in online.

Great read. Michael Yon has the uncommon ability to speak to us - not around, through, over, or beyond us - and reflect those private doubts and fears we allow ourselves to experience only after the fact. He begins by writing about the January elections:

There were bombs exploding, mortars falling, and hot machine guns. The fact that the voting was going great despite the violence was something few people expected. Until that day, I'd been skeptical about Iraq. Not fashionably cynical, merely skeptical. ..But nobody really knew what the Iraqi people had in mind, and the Iraqis were the people who counted most.

The millions who voted sent a message: Serpentine lines of ebullient Iraqis risked their lives--dozens died--to have a say in their futures. ..

The courage of the Iraqi people that January day planted a seed of confidence. These were not timid or cowering souls. ..The voice of the Iraqi people had risen above the clamor of insurgent violence.

Aw, hell. I am so tired of myself crying when I read these things. I may as well accept the fact that I'm incurable and just sniff away as I write.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I expect that everyone will read this article and I don't intend to do much more than highly recommend it, but I must note the honesty about uncertainty as to "numbers" with which Yon concludes:

Next morning, I got information from the Army that there had been 19 attacks on polling sites throughout Iraq, and in January there had been 108. There may be some garble in the numbers (there usually is). There had actually been somewhere between 300 and 350 total attacks on the January election day. And the army would later say that there were 89 total attacks during the voting last week. Who knows? I know that it was quiet from my perch, and that the guns had been silenced long enough that we could hear the Iraqi voice speak for a second time. The voice was louder, stronger, and prouder than it had been in January.
Some of Mr. Yon's best-known photos and the compelling story of his journey in Iraq are here, and, with all deference to UNICEF and the Smurfs, the following declaration must be placed on the balance scales as to why we are in Iraq and why we give battle:
I've been criticized for using terms like terrorist and enemy in my dispatches. Most critics are a safe distance from the battleground. Up close, its more than a matter of taking sides. There's no value in using imprecise language in a futile attempt to appear objective. There is a difference between Coalition soldiers and Iraqi police officers and the terrorists and criminals they confront. Whether you call them insurgents or resistance fighters or terrorists, the people who wake up in the morning plotting how to drive explosives-laden cars into crowds of children have to be confronted.
That is the reality in Iraq and thus the banner under which we fight. That many do not like the fact that the U.S.A. is in the forefront of this war is a damning reflection on the morally impovershed state of those who would take refuge in their acquiescence to evil; the fact that the proud British, Australians, Italians, Polish, Danes and other those of other Coalition nations are capable of seeing beyond narrow confines of immediate gain today and keep their aspirations fixed to the world they envision tomorrow still fills me with awe and breathless gratitude. The Spanish who fled and those who still stand aloof - and I must include Canada among them,
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
I vote we name Michael Yon as the "Most Trusted Name in News."

Don't forget that you can listen to Michael Yon This Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, on Pundit Review Radio.

Posted by Debbye at 02:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

UNSCAM in the LA Times

Oct. 23 - Seems the LA Times actually has a piece on the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, and I'm sure it's not solely because it was a Texas Tycoon Charged in Oil-for-Food Indictment.

The article says that

... Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., [aged 81,] the founder and former chairman of Coastal Corp., [whom] prosecutors in New York alleged ... had used secret bank accounts and other shadowy tactics to funnel millions of dollars to Hussein to obtain the right to pump millions of barrels of oil from Iraq between 2000 and 2003.

Two Swiss business executives and three others who were first charged in April were also named in the indictment.

The indictment of Wyatt — a Texas wildcatter and political donor known for his sometimes flamboyant dealings with dictators — is the latest in a wide-ranging investigation into the oil-for-food program run by the U.N.


Wyatt has denied wrongdoing. ...

The indictment alleges that Wyatt and his associates lobbied the U.N. to set an official selling price for the oil they bought — a price that would allow them to pay the kickbacks allegedly demanded by Hussein and still make a profit. It alleges that Wyatt conspired in the scheme with David B. Chalmers [Jr.], the owner of another Houston oil company, Bayoil USA.

The Swiss citizens alluded to above are "Catalina del Socorro Miguel Fuentes, also known as Cathy Miguel, and Mohammed Saidji, who prosecutors said operated the trading firms 'in close consultation with Wyatt.'"

I find it perversely funny that a writer in LA would consider it bad that someone is a "political donor," and by the omission as to whom and what he donated, I wonder if he donated to the Democrats. If the allegations are correct, Wyatt was involved as late as 2003 which would tend to make one think he was anti-war, no?

The article also claims that Wyatt is "known for his sometimes flamboyant dealings with dictators" but the only thing offered to support that contention is that "[he] may be best known for using his corporate jet to rescue 21 Americans being held hostage by Hussein a month before the Persian Gulf War began."

Well researched article, dude, including the failure to note that Chalmers' correct name includes the appendage "Jr."

Personally, I'm all for throwing all the books at any American who is found to have partipated in Oil-for-Food kickback schemes, and I only wish we could also charge them with treason.

(Via Newsbeat1. Free registration may be required to read LA Times articles.)

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

October 22, 2005

U.N. allegedly doctored report on Hariri assassination (Updated)

Oct. 22 - It is becoming increasingly evident why corrupt governments (like that under the Liberals in Canada) are so comfortable with the workings of the U.N. They have so much in common: lack of transparency, lack of proper accounting controls over expenditures, no whistle-blower protection, a patronage system that rewards corruption, and a brazen willingness to cling to power no matter what the cost - even when it means tampering with their own reports. But covering up a murder? That may be a new low even for the U.N. (as we don't actually know that there is a Rwandan flight recorder in Kofi's safe.)

I wrote yesterday about shame and cited the CNN article that alleged that members of Bashar al-Assad's family were involved in the assassination of Lebanese statesman Hafrik Hariri, but it has now emerged that those allegations were supposed to be suppressed by the office of the U.N. which is yet one more indication of how very unworthy the U.N. is of the esteem many hold for it - unless of course they're thieves or thugs.

Those who doubt the allegations of tampering with the Volcker Report on the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program have another fine mess to rationalize away. From the [London] Times Online: UN office doctored report on murder of Hariri:

THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.

The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.


But the furore over the doctoring of the report threatened to overshadow its damaging findings. It raised questions about political interference by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary- General, who had promised not to make any changes in the report.

One crucial change, apparently made after the report was submitted to the UN chief, removed the name of President al-Assad’s brother, Maher, his brother-in-law, Assef al-Shawkat, and other high-ranking Syrian officials.

The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed “senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. But the undoctored version named those officials as “Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed”. (Emphasis added)

It should be noted that the author of the report, Detlev Mehlis, denied that anyone "outside of the report team influenced these changes and no changes whatsoever were suggested by the Secretary-General.” But then he would say that, wouldn't he, and it doesn't explain the changes that were reportedly made after the report was delivered Annan but before the report was presented to the U.N.S.C.

Hmm, I wonder where does Annan's deputy assistant, Louise Frechette, was at the time? One's second-in-command plays many roles and not all of them are above-board, as anyone who's ever tangled with bureaucracy can attest, and the second-in-command is often deemed expendable when scandal explodes beyond any possible level of containment.

The big question is why would officials at the U.N. tamper with the report? and at who's behest? It's easy to assume that there was a quid-pro-quo at work, but who stood most to gain?

The easy assumption is that, in the name of stability, the U.N. does not wish to see Assad's government fall. That argument was used during the lead up to the Iraq War but, as was later revealed, there were far more persuasive economic reasons (which included billions of dollars collected by the U.N. itself for "administrative fees") to prop up Saddam than a reverence for stability, mass graves and human rights violations notwithstanding. But Assad does not have the same degree of international protection as did Saddam, and even though Arab states may wish to protect him they would surely be wise enough by now to recognize when it's best to leave a sinking ship.

This is only a blog and I'm allowed personal pique, so I vote for France as the ones who stand most to gain by protecting Assad - in part because I really hate those bastards, and in part because I really don't trust them. All the strong words coming out of France about their determination to track down the murderers of Hariri and their support for Lebanon were very nice and made for great press so long as unnamed persons were suspected but now the dots connect all the way to Assad's immediate family (I guess it would be a cheap shot to point out here that France does have a history of collaboration with fascism, so I'll forbear.)

Words really can come back to haunt us. France has been forced into a corner from which all the nuancing in the world cannot extricate them (although I suspect they'll try) so they may now have to actually live up to their promises.

Who says history is dead?

As an aside, the computer "gaffe" itself is very interesting, no?

(Free registration may be required to read the Times Online. I really don't remember at this point which online periodicals required my registration and which were quickly accessible. Sorry about that.)

(Via Neale News.)

Oct. 22 - 01:06: Michael Totten reports from Lebanon on the response there to the Mehlis Report and has some great photos. I find the one of someone scrawling on a wall "And the truth shall set you free" to be particularly apt.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

Another one bites the dust

Oct. 21 - On the one hand researchers claim that working women are too stressed to to add frozen vegetables to boiling water, and on the other hand someone who said that proper child-raising and rising to the top ranks in the advertising industry are incompatible goals has been forced to resign (Top ad guru quits amid sexism furor.)

Mr. [Neil] French confirmed yesterday that he has quit as worldwide creative director of WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest marketing company where he oversaw famous agency networks including Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, Young & Rubicam and Grey Worldwide.
At least the center of this storm isn't backing down:
But Mr. French -- famous both for his brilliant work as a copy writer and his politically incorrect views -- stands by controversial comments he made in response to a question from the audience at a Toronto event sponsored by ad industry Web site ihaveanidea.org. The comments circled around the world after being reported last week in The Globe and Mail's Nobody's Business column.

"The woman asked why there are so few women creative directors. I said because you can't commit yourself to the job. And everyone who doesn't commit themselves fully to the job is crap at it . . ," Mr. French said yesterday in an interview.

"You can't be a great creative director and have a baby and keep spending time off every time your kids are ill. You can't do the job. Somebody has to do it and the guy has to do it the same way that I've had to spend months and months flying around the world and not seeing my kid. You think that's not a sacrifice? Of course it's a sacrifice. I hate it. But that's the job and that's what I do in order to keep my family fed."

One may not like his message, but that doesn't make him wrong.

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"Do these people not feel the shame and disgrace that shroud them?"

Oct. 21 - Lots of people should feel shame these days for things that have been done, things that have not been done or said, and things that should be done but most likely will not be done.

'Omran Salman has written about the continuing extermination of Shi'ites in Iraq and attacks the silence of Sunnis there and that of Arab journalists and statesmen throughout the Mideast: "Aren't the Arabs Ashamed When Some of Them Massacre Iraqi Citizens?":

"What can we say in light of the attitude of the Arab media [in general] and the Arab satellite channels in particular, which report the killings, the slaughters, and the suicide bombings among Iraqi citizens coolly, treating them as routine events [and] as part of what has been termed 'the series of [acts of] violence in Iraq?'

"The war being waged by the Al-Qaeda organization and the terrorists against the Shi'ites in Iraq is among the acts of collective extermination, which is rare in modern history. There has been no case in the past in which somebody has declared a similar war against a race or a group as a whole, except [for the case of] Nazi Germany against the Jews...

"The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq and similar [bodies] in Arab countries have issued dozens of fatwas about current political issues, but have not issued even a single fatwa declaring bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, or Al-Zarqawi to be infidels because of their killing of the Shi'ites."

Salman could have included much of the Western media in his denunciation because they too have failed to place the targeted murders in the context of al Zarqawi's stated purpose, preferring to pretend that the bombings of civilians is part of the "insurgency."

Since we're on the subject of shame, the media silence about the recent Iraq referendum has been deafening, and Oliver North does some sharpshooting in The purple finger effect:

The same potentates of the press who focused for weeks on hanging chads in Florida five years ago widely ignored one of the most dramatic political events of our time. In the midst of a bloody war, politicians in an Islamic country spent seven months drafting their own constitution and then sent it to their people for ratification.
More shame: the U.N. report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri has concluded that Syrian officials were behind the bomb that killed Hariri and
CNN was able to obtain a copy of the report given Thursday to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Security Council members, which lists the names of the men accused of planning the February 14, 2005, bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people.

The names were not in copies of the report released for general distribution.

In addition to Maher Assad, the Syrian president's brother, those investigating Hariri's death accused Assef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law; Jamil al-Sayyed, head of Lebanese intelligence; Hassan Khalil, former head of Syrian intelligence; and Bahjat Suleyman, a personal friend of the Syrian president, as participating in planning the assassination.

A witness, who is Syrian but lives in Lebanon, and who claims to have worked for Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, told investigators that about two weeks before Security Council Resolution 1559 was passed, the officials decided to assassinate Hariri.

President Bush spoke about the report today:
"Today, a serious report came out that requires the world to look at it very carefully and respond accordingly," he said. "The report is deeply disturbing."

Bush said he instructed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to "call upon the United Nations to convene a session as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter."

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, will be meeting with the author of the report, German prosecutor Detleve Mehlis, Friday morning, and will urge the U.N. Security Council to meet and "consider options." That's all very nice, but the U.N.'s options are extremely limited. They can't ignore their own report, but would the General Assembly pass a resolution condemning Syria? and then ... what?

Lebanon is a member of the agency of "francophonie" as are France, Romania and Benin, nations which currently sit on the UNSC, and thus one would expect them to exhibit some degree of solidarity, right? [As an aside, Canada, New Brunswick and Quebec are also members of the agency of francophonie.]

One group that realistically might be able to exert pressure on Syria is the EU. They were quick to make overtures for increased trade with Syria after the U.S. Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act in 2004 and are thus in a position wherein they could at minimum impose sanctions. Right.

(Memri link via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 05:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Canadians in Iraq

Oct. 21 - I must be getting old because I thought this was already well known but evidently the issue is that the knowledge has received official confirmation! Or maybe the issue is that Canadians participating in the "insurgency" tends to minimize the claim that said "insurgency" is an Iraqi-based resistance.

Seems that according to the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, James Judd, some Canadians are taking part in Iraqi insurgency. (Gasp!)

According to Keith Boag, the CBC's Ottawa bureau chief, the Prime Minister's Office was "flabbergasted" that such sensitive information could be released by the head of the spy agency. "They didn't know it was being spoken about publicly and for that they [the PMO] are very angry."

"The prime minister never comments on intelligence matters and they were under the impression that CSIS didn't either," said Boag.

Acknowledgment that Canadians are fighting in Iraq raises a number of questions, such as what will their status be if they decide to return to Canada.

You mean when they return here seeking health care after being wounded in action? That issue has already been settled as has their legal status.
"It raises the longer-term question of what do they bode for the future?" Judd said.
I guess it's really nice that they are at least considering the long-term ramifications but expecting action from this government? Uh, no, although there are those who are more than anxious to prosecute U.S. President George Bush under Canada's Criminal Code, and a Vancouver court has lifted a publication ban on attempts to do just that:
The Kitsilano lawyer [Gail Davidson] got the ball rolling against Bush as soon as he set foot on Canadian soil for his November 30, 2004, visit. As a private citizen, she charged him with seven counts of counselling, aiding, and abetting torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay naval base. She had her charges accepted by a justice of the peace in Vancouver Provincial Court.

Bush faces prison time if the case goes to trial and he is found guilty.

On December 6, 2004, Davidson was at Provincial Court to fix a date for the process hearing. However, Provincial Court Judge William Kitchen promptly ordered a Straight reporter and other observers from the courtroom and cancelled the charges, declaring them a “nullity”. The meeting was deemed to be “in-camera” and Kitchen concluded immediately that Bush had diplomatic immunity during his two-day visit to Canada because he was a head of state.

You can read about the legal wranglings at the link. (I included it because I didn't didn't want anyone to think that Canadians are incapable of taking A Stand On Moral Issues.)

(Links via Neale News.)

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A burning body maybe, but where's the evidence?

Oct. 21 - Okay, I've watched the footage of what appear to be U.S. soldiers standing on a rock under which boots and maybe a human body are burning (available by link at story at CNN.com U.S. State Dept: Video 'very troubling') but what I haven't seen is any evidence that U.S. soldiers set the boots or any body alight.

I heard a U.S. soldier - in a separate shot - reading a statement in which he taunts members of the Taliban to come out and fight like men, but that's nothing new. (I've done it myself.)

I'm trying to think through a lot of possible possibilities, and another thing I can't say I saw was any indication that the purported burning body was that of a Muslim. What if it was that of a Hindu, many of whom are our allies in Afghanistan?

Burning bodies is supposed to be a major no-no for Muslims, yet we didn't hear the same level of aghast horror last year at a bridge in Fallujah so spare me the angst now.

It's hard to burn a human body (but not harder than it is to flush a Koran down a toilet) and I have to wonder why, if this reporter could film a burning body, he wasn't able to film the steps leading up to the burning of said body. Something easy, like tossing a burning match. Something that would be evidence.

There's something very off here.

Oct. 23 - John B. had it right as to hygiene being the reason why the bodies were burned. Read Journalist Who Filmed Burning Taliban Bodies Suggests Media Got it All Wrong.

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What don't get they about "when the mission is completed?"

Oct. 21 - The Washingto Post had an un-insightful item yesterday: Rice Declines to Give Senators Timeline for Germany South Korea Iraq Withdrawal.

I could have included Bosnia/Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa in the strike-outs, but it was already getting a tad long! (Feel free to add your own favourite "quagmire," but Los Angeles is off-limits!)

I hate to disappoint the Post, but most Americans understood going in that it would be a long-term committment. We also understood that sticking this through would meet our long-term objectives far more than cutting and running.

Having said that, it also grieves me that some of our best men and women are being killed and maimed over there. It just seems wrong that the intelligent idiots in their ivory towers babble on while those who many - including me - consider their betters are on the front lines.

Where are all those human shields, anyway? They would protect hospitals and electrical stations under Saddam's rule but not under Iraq home rule? Couldn't they at least protect the defense lawyers for Saddam's trial? (No link yet, but word has it that he has been found dead.) [07:45 - link now available here.

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The real scandal in Dingwall's "approved" expenses

Oct. 21 - David Dingwall explains his expenses and in one respect he is entirely correct: his expenses were approved by the Canadian Mint's Board of Directors.

But that's the point! The fact that those "expenses" were "approved" is a real scandal as much as is the appointment of political hacks who feel it necessary to pad their income by lobbying for contracts for which lobbying is forbidden.

So why is Dingwall getting severance pay instead of jail time? (I know why; just let me emote!)

Patronage appointments lead to corruption. The resistance by the political parties to legislate having such appointments be made strictly on merit and qualifications is why many are indifferent or even hostile to politics, and when the argument devolves to "give the other side an opportunity to appoint their own thieving cronies" then we are well past cynicism and apathy and into a level of contempt that can kill the heart of a country.

Shoot. For. The. Stars. Demand competence, accountability and honesty from all appointed officials. Taxpayers deserve no less.

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Operation Rudolph

Oct. 21 - Operation Rudolph - as in guiding Santa's team to deliver packages to Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan (link via Newsbeat1.)

There's no nice way to say this: public support for Canadian troops up here is all talk and no show. Yes, everyone shows up at the local Cenotaph once a year on Remembrance Day, stands around solemnly and intones "Never Again!" but when it comes to actually giving something (and we won't even go into federal funding for the troops) there isn't the kind of personal, local support here as there is in the U.S.A.

No one's asking you to "give 'till it hurts" (that right is reserved for the taxman) but maybe you can send a thank-you note. Or a donation (tax-deductible, no less!)

I'm as guilty as anyone up here of doing little to support the Canadians in Afghanistan, but then my energy and money go to supporting my people in my army in the U.S.A. What's your excuse?

By the way, before anyone sneers at the Canadian presence in 'stan, they might want to read Canadian forces offer first peek at JTF2 mission in Afghanistan from Sept. 21. (Run the complete headline through google for article.)

Also, read Postcard from Kandahar over at Small Dead Animals.

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Michael Yon on radio

Oct. 21 - Thanks to Kevin for this heads-up: Pundit Review: Michael Yon This Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, on Pundit Review Radio. Mr. Yon in an embedded reporter (his current affiliation is with the Weekly Standard) and his accounts and photos are markedly different from what we read on CNN or Fox.

If you haven't been following Mr. Yon's dispatches online, you can read them here and you might want to begin with this.

The post linked above at Pundit Review in turn links to WRKO and from there you can click on the "Listen Live" button. (I presume! If I'm wrong please let me know.)

I am supposed to work Sunday night, worse luck. Too bad I can't set something equivalent to a VCR for the broadcast, but I am looking forward to reading the reviews or, better, if anyone knows of a transcript of the interview please let me know.

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October 20, 2005

Reading tonight, not much writing (Updating)

Oct. 20 - For reasons beyond anyone's control I'm off work tonight so I'm going to indulge myself by doing more reading than writing.

Okay, I've always tried to be honest here so I'm also watching Stargate SG-1 and will watch the new Smallville episode at 11 p.m. (on the LA W-B station) and a Season 2 episode on YTV at 2:35 a.m.

Here's a couple of worth-while reads:

Relapsed Catholic is on a roll. Just start at the top and keep scrolling and following the links (I spent over an hour there.) If you're short on time, at least read this, which quotes from another:

"Canadian anti-Americanism is, paradoxically, perhaps best expressed in its adulation for one of the US's most infamously unscrupulous and immoral leaders, former president William Jefferson Clinton. .."
They also love Michael Moore up here and don't understand why we didn't elect their choice, John Kerry, for president. That Canadians have preferences isn't strange, but their indignation that we ignore their wishes as to how we run our country and live our lives is nearly psychotic.

I've tried to write about Saddam's trial but can't be dispassionate and the solemn pronouncements of those wonderful human rights sorts would be laughable if their sentiments didn't disguise so total a lack of any respect for human rights. Peter Worthington sums it all up nicely, both in the title of today's column in the Toronto Sun Get it over with: Saddam must die, and in this:

We, in civilized countries that live by law and decency, like to say that the process is more important than the outcome. Certainly that was the case in the first free elections in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With Saddam, however, the verdict is more important than the process: Death for the despot.

Those who doubt the ability of Iraqis to try Saddam are the same who doubt Iraqis - or Muslims in general - are capable of forming and maintaining consensual governments. Coincidence? I think not.

For those who don't know, the Toronto police are conducting a form of work to rule, i.e., they've parked the cruisers and only respond to 911 calls. The issues as stated are:
A first-class constable -- an officer with at least five years on the job -- earns $66,852 annually.

Wilson complained that the police services board wants to cut benefits, require officers to work an additional 40 hours each year without compensation and to reduce retention pay.

The one thing the police desperately need and can't negotiate for is RESPECT from City Council and the citizens of this city. We want them to be saints even as we villify them as demons, and we want them to risk death but pay them less than the city's paper-pushers. We tie their hands yet expect results.

We're so damned enlightened that we imagine ourselves superior to the men and women who put their lives on the line to save our sorry asses.

I said I was going to read more and write less. I didn't intentionally lie ... I'll to back to reading and update this after Smallville. (What? It's one of the funniest shows on TV these days. Every time one of the Kent parental units gives that "exasperated but indulgent look" I crack up. Besides, the episode where Clark met The Flash was wonderful and tonight he's going to meet Aquaman.)

Oct. 21 - 01:50: If you're looking for spoilers on Aquaboy meets Superboy I'm going to disappoint. But if Canadian viewers without W-B access want teasers ... Arthur Currie (Aquaboy) does bring new meaning to the phrase "blew him right out of the water" and there was a cute play on acronyms with Junior Lifeguard Association. Also, Clark gets pissy over some kissy-face at the Kent Farm, which after last week's antics was totally hypocritical.

South Park Does Katrina! Clips for viewing at the link.

Robert has been temporarily stuck at home with an injured foot but it hasn't affected his posting. Annan talks about needing more aid to Pakistan. Maybe Kofi and his "advisors" should read Big Windy In Pakistan dated October 15:

BW has been on the ground here in Pakistan for 6 days now and we have been going non stop. We have 3 Chinooks along with 2 Dco Hooks from Kandahar. In the last 4 days we have hauled thousands of pounds of relief supplies and back hauled well over a 1000 Quake victims. The crews are running from sun up to sun down making turns up into the mountains and back to the airfield of Islamabad. This is the main hub where most of the supplies we pick up are brought in from all over the world. Below are a few photos of operations of the last few days.
These guys do while others talk. I know which are more likely to get results, and now I'm back at that humble-but-proud state whenever I think about the exceptional men and women in the American Armed Forces.

Robert also looks at the coverage by some of the British press of Saddam's trial.

You all know that Kate's back, right? Kate's always great, but the Postcard from Kandahar in particular needs to be read and re-read. It reveals a reality that bland reporting and the "La la la Canadian troops are Happy Peacekeepers" fiction obscures. (Yeah, I know I linked it downstream but ... so what? It deserves double-dipping.)

Ith writes on Social Justice and Cultural Competency and poses an interesting question to a scary scenario. For some weird reason the word "brainwashing" leapt to mind ...

Via Newsbeat1, Michelle Malkin reports on the on-going fight over Able Danger. I'm glad she and others are staying on top of this. Why isn't Congress demanding that the Pentagon stop the stonewalling and tell us the truth? (You'd think the Dems would be all over this. Why aren't they?) We already know there were serious intelligence failures leading up to Sept. 11 and we assume (hope) changes have been made. Or haven't they? After all, nothing more typifies the immoveable object than bureaucracy.

Newsbeat1 has some other great links that I plan to read right now, including the newest Rosett investigatory piece about the UN procurement scandal.

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October 19, 2005

A Canadian institution

(Sent via email by a friend out West.)

Sorry about the no blogging - I feel asleep early and woke up late.

Tim Horton's, for any readers who may not know, is a huge chain of donut shops up here and most have drive-through service. Many a person arrives to work with a Tim Horton's cup in hand.

Tim Horton was a legendary hockey player who, for most of his career, played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and he may have been the strongest man to ever play in the NHL. Story has it that he didn't fight - he just bearhugged 'em. He last played for the Buffalo Sabres and was killed in a car crash on the QEW in the 1974.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

The rogue lobbyists explanation

Oct. 18 - From rogue civil servants to rogue lobbyists - which in turn poses the question as to who, exactly, was roguely lobbied if not rogue civil servants? After all, if certain kinds of contracts and grants are not supposed to be lobbied for wouldn't the person(s) being lobbied know that?

Four lobbyists investigated for possible ethics breaches:

Mr. Nelson said he cannot comment on the investigations, but confirmed that he started them in the past month, although he said that the activities that are being probed are not necessarily that recent. Officials said the investigations cover the activities of four lobbyists.


"I have initiated eight investigations into potential breaches of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct," Mr. Nelson said. "That may not seem like a large number . . . but in contrast, since the code of conduct came into being in the late 1990s, there has not been one investigation."

Mr. Nelson's office, which until last year came under the purview of the prime minister's ethics counsellor, Howard Wilson, has been criticized for what has been perceived as inaction in enforcing the law and code governing lobbyists. The Lobbyists' Act was amended in June to include wording changes proposed four years ago after prosecutors asserted that they could not successfully prosecute René Fugère, an unpaid aide to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, for failing to register to lobby on behalf of companies that paid him a 5- to 10-per-cent commission to obtain government grants.

Stay tuned.

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Referendum results surprise Iraqis

Oct. 18 - Ballots from Saturday's referendum in Iraq are being scrutinized amidst allegations of tampering by many who are suspicious of the strong "yes" vote (Iraqis Continue Checking Referendum Results.)

It's too early to rule anything out, but I wonder if the answer is far simpler. Maybe Iraqis - Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds - are sick and tired of the "insurgency." They are tired of the electrical failures, they are tired of worrying that a visit to the local market will turn into bloodshed, they are sickened by the atrocities being visited in the name of Islam, and they are tired of being linked to monsters.

There is a further consideration. Although many of the stories after the take down in Fallujah were anecdotal, they bore striking similarities (especially of the restrictions placed upon women) and the grisly discovery of bodies and butcher rooms were horrifying. The Sunnis were probably more distressed by al Qaeda rule than has been credited and that too could account for a strong "yes" vote.

Enter the often overlooked brilliance of the "secret ballot." No matter what you say, what poster you carry or what button you wear, once you're in that booth you can vote as you please and it's strictly between you and your conscience.

It's possible that many saw approving a new Constitution - with provisions for later improvements - as a chance to begin to lead normal lives.

Just my $ .02.

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I thought only beavers built wooden dams

Oct. 18 - The only real dam I've ever seen is Hoover Dam so I'm hardly an expert but even so I never imagined a dam would be made of wood unless beavers were members of the construction crew.

Good luck to the folks in Taunton. After this passes, the owners might want to start thinking about upgrading.

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

" ... I am really not a scary guy."

Oct. 18 - I am genuinely sorry that Carolyn Parrish is not running for re-election (Parrish not retiring-in any sense) and my reason isn't all that complicated. For all her faults, she had one redeeming virtue: she was honest, even if that included being outspoken as to her attitude toward the U.S.A.

My own experience tells me that she expresses the truth as to how many Canadians (at least here in the Greater Toronto Area) feel about us and our president. I prefer her upfront, in-your-face brazenness to the smile-in-their-faces-and-stab-them-in-the-back type of creature PM Paul Martin epitomizes.

I do realize that many Canadians consider her to be an embarrasssment, but what real value is there in pretending that the U.S.A. and Canada are bestest buddies? It does not serve American interests (we already came to terms with the peridy of the French) and, although it may appear to serve Canadian interests, how does being dishonest really serve Canada? It seems to me that being two-faced can only inspire contempt from Americans and, to this American mind, better straightforward honesty to blowing smoke up our as*es.

I don't have to like what someone is saying but at least say it openly. Yet with such honest dealing a deeper chasm would be revealed because many Canadians do not agree with the the Liberal government's attitude toward the U.S.A. That is the debate the Liberals continue to avoid.

However, despite the revision of recent history, Caorlyn Parrish was actually booted out of the Liberal Party for remarks she made about Paul Martin, not those she made about President Bush, and she used this interview to remind us of that. That Martin - with the complicity of the news media - tried to turn it around later and pretend that she was expelled for for her anti-Bush antics pretty much says everything there is to say about this government and its media apologists.

I wonder, did Martin hire Earnscliffe to conduct a public opinion poll to ascertain if Canadians would stomach him dropping Parrish for stomping a Bush doll on public TV or if charging her with lese majesty would be preferable?

Her comments in the interview about Paul "Dithers" Martin reflect what many have observed:

"One of my major disappointments in my whole life, and it will turn out to be one of the major disappointments of most Canadians, is Mr. Martin's leadership. He has been so fragile and he's been so tentative," Ms. Parrish said in her first interview since it was announced that she would not be running in the next federal election.

Paul Martin is "too keen to sit on the knee of the American President. He's been weak on softwood even though he's running around making noises now. He's been weak on beef. He's been weak on caucus management. He's got a whole bunch of yes men sitting in the front row. He is thoroughly intimidated by someone like me -- and I am really not a scary guy."


"I expected so much out of him. He's a very charming man but he's almost like a deer in the headlights. He looks old and he looks tired and he looks frightened."

Her loyalty to the Liberal Party seems genuine, despite her disappointment in the leadership of Paul Martin. She explains that she decided not to run because she feared a split vote would give the riding to a Conservative candidate, and it is well known that her vote in the "officially sanctioned" non-confidence motion kept the Liberals in power although a lesser person might have used the circumstance for some payback.

So long, Carolyn. Too bad the Liberal Party doesn't have a big enough tent to allow for a little honesty.

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

On the Iraq referendum

Oct. 17 - From "Debate on al Qaida's losses in Iraq" by Walid Phares in the World Defense Review.

There is some solid analysis of the dynamics of the vote and how the gradual realization that they are one country had shaped the debate about the referendum as well as the growing competency of the Iraqi army and police units.

I'm only going to quote from what I see as the critical component: getting the Sunnis involved in the process. After boycotting the vote last January, Sunnis began to revisit their rationale and

... Seeing a new parliament acting, media flourishing, and political life developing, many Sunni groups, cadres and leaders crossed the line from boycott to engagement in the political process: First by adhering to the constitutional discussion; second by participating in the referendum, even with a "no" cast.

By August 2005, there was a Sunni "position" toward the constitutional debate. Many among them distanced themselves from the Zarqawi "refusal of all constitutions" to a "criticism of this constitution." The integration was slow, and will remain so, but it is happening. The national consensus is not total, but it is widening and strengthening, by bits.

Now an overwhelming majority of Iraqis have put an end to the dictatorial past and rejected the terrorist agenda. The differences are nevertheless wide, but the country wants political "treatments."

The essay also deals with the wider implications of Saturday's vote which makes clear why this was an Iraqi victory.

Do I need to repeat that? The vote wasn't about us. The vote was not a referendum on us but a referendum in which Iraqis cast ballots to decide on the political structure of their country.

Mr. Phares generously calls it an "American achievement" but I think even that overstates it a bit; we created the conditions that made it possible, but the Iraqis made it happen.

David Adesnik at Oxblog looks at the Sunni vote and makes some astute observations. He concludes:

In contrast, I think the Sunnis have decided that they should give the political process a chance in order to see whether it produces better results than the insurgency -- while using the insurgency to improve their position at the bargaining table, just as Arafat used suicide bombings as an adjunct to the negotiating process rather than a substitute for it.

Of course, Arafat was never willing to abandon violence no matter how many concessions he secured. .. Arafat was also able to draw on a major reserve of international support, both political and financial.

In contrast, the Sunnis control nothing and get only few shreds of support from Syria, et al. They have a lot more to gain from peace.

As the president has said many times, we will leave Iraq when the job is done. This vote brings us closer to that day, but neither the referendum nor the results are going to end the insurgency. Other means will continue to be employed. [Fox changed the story so I'm changing the link to a more reliable one.]

(Walid Pharas link via Instapundit.)

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More blogroll updates

Oct. 16 - Venturing into the template to add to the blogroll:

Under News and Commentary:

Right Reason

The Ornery American (I can't believe I hadn't already put Orson Scott Card on the blogroll. Argh.)

I'd really wanted to add Michael Yon under Those Who Serve for, even though he's not a soldier, he does serve, but accuracy compels me to put him under News and Commentary.

From the Great White North:

Bend Government

Girl on the Right


I Am (Also) Canadian

Young Conservative

From the Rest of the World:

It comes in pints.

There are a few seemingly dormant blogs I'm leaving on because I never give up! Someday (I'm looking at you, Paul,) I hope they will resume blogging.

Posted by Debbye at 02:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Collaborationists by any other name still stink

Oct. 17 - It's so hard not to make writing about significant al Qaeda captures a cause for personal celebration. Therefore, I won't try: Al Qaeda 'propagandist caught',

Yasir Khudr Muhammad Jasim al-Karbali, also known as Abu Dijana, was apprehended in the September 25 raid, the military said.

He was the senior Al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda cell leader for Karabilah, Al Qaim and Husaybah, the statement said.

"Abu Dijana's cell consisted of photographers who used video and still photograph images to document insurgent attacks against Iraqi citizens and Iraqi and Coalition Forces," according to the statement.

"Local Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders notified Abu Dijana of impending attacks in the area, at which time he would contact his terrorist cell members and provide them with equipment and supplies needed to record the attacks."

Abu Dijana later collected the photographs and video and forwarded them to other Al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda officials for their use, the military said, and the images were made into terrorist propaganda products for distribution through print and Web sites.

Don't expect me to rationalize why CNN felt it appropriate to include "caught" in their death quotes, but given the degree of propaganda we endure in North America, maybe it requires no explanation.

I guess not only al CNN but also al AP, al Reuters, al BBC, al CBC and al Jazeera will have to find another news tipster. (If you think that's harsh, I'll send you what I deleted.)

Also, well said, Damian. Too many are so anxious so see the U.S.A. fail in her efforts to bring democracy to certain nations that they have forgotten those principles which once impelled those of us who are, and in some rather significant ways remain, liberals.

What madness pits damning US foreign policy against cheering for human rights? Only the wankers can answer that.

For me, truth remains in these immortal words:

That all men [insert "and women"] are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
The racial superiority that lies in the assertion that Muslims are incapable of living under consensual governance is becoming increasing odious and I am finding it harder and harder to contain my rage.

Tell me this: if Muslims cannot abide consensual governance, then why do we welcome them to our countries? and why do they immigrate here? You can't have it both ways! My worldview believes that all people thirst for freedom and that's why they come here and that's why Iraqis hit the polls despite the real threats to life and limb. The apologists for al Qaeda evidently have another worldview and they need to state clearly and unequivocally why they believe Muslims are racially or ethnically unwilling to embrace democracy yet why we welcome them to countries that are governed by consensus.

My worldview takes facts into account. What about the worldview of the wankers terror apologists? They've moved the goal posts so far that they're situated beyond even the bleachers and still moving and headed for what? Lake Ontario? The Pacific Ocean? (I'm indulging in a bit of drowning imagery here. Feels good.)

Yes, I'm angry. I'm actually furious. I'm willing to die for freedom. People I care deeply about are putting their lives on the line in the cause of freedom, yet too many others are willing to applaud those who murder to stifle freedom. Yet they are the "liberals" and I'm the "conservative."

You know what? Bite me! or, to be less polite, FOAD. Like, soon. Either come up with a plausible explanation or crawl in the hell-hole you dug and just shut up. I won't really miss you.

Posted by Debbye at 01:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 16, 2005

Closing a tax haven

Oct. 16 - I'm super late posting on this, but an important private members bill has been submitted to Parliament calling for the closing of a tax haven for Canadian businesses.

A detailed report can be read at Frost Hits the Rhubarb: Proposed Amendment: Income Tax -- Note, CSL.

It is despicable that tax dollars are spent on contracts with firms that dodge paying business taxes in Canada - or in the U.S.A., for that matter. Let's hope this bill gets some support.

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October 15, 2005

Vote in Iraq

Oct. 15 - Today's vote went off smoothly, and the few disruptions were handled by Iraqi security forces. Overall turnout is about 61% and whichever way the vote goes, the result will be determined solely by the will of the Iraqis.

Mohammed reports that coalition presence was limited to helicopter patrols and has photos of today's events.

The big bad terrorists went all out to spread mayhem and fear before today's vote on the proposed Constitution in Iraq: they disrupted the electricity service in Baghdad. Yawn. The most newsworthy aspect of that story is reporters were so desperate for bad news that they actually bothered to report it.

Whenever I read about "the struggle for hearts and minds" I wonder what the heck they're talking about. Seems to me that the flame of liberty is already pretty firmly in Iraqi hearts and they clearly have their own minds!

I'm off for the night, but Instapundit has links analyzing today's events in Iraq.

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October 14, 2005

Bring on the purple finger!

Oct. 14 - How many times and in how many countries have Constitutions been submitted to the electorate for ratification? Five years ago, who would have believed such an event - a free vote - could take place in Iraq, of all places?

From IRAQ THE MODEL: Iraqis preparing to decide:

People on the street, TV and radio are all talking about the coming historic event while papers went on hiatus since yesterday but many of them published the document on Wednesday to ensure that more people get to read it.
Although the distribution didn’t go perfectly, I doubt there are many who didn’t get the chance to take a look as the document was published many times on different outlets including websites and there were many discussions on TV where articles were discusses thoroughly. Add to this the thousands of workshops and lectures organized by NGOs. So I think it’s fair to say that only those who weren’t interested in the subject would say that they didn’t have the chance to read the document.
Those who have bewailed the disagreements, compromises and threats to boycott have kind of missed the point of democracy: the intensity of the political debates in public forums - and I cannot overly stress the word public - is the ultimate counter-argument to those who have tried to persuade the world that Muslims don't have the democracy gene, for what is democracy if not people publicly debating public issues without fear?

Mohammed recalls a different kind of discussion over another vote in the recent past:

I am so excited but a flashback from Saddam’s referendum three years ago still hurts; he wanted a 100% as the 99.96% of the previous one shocked the dictator. I was depressed that way and I decided not to go to the voting office and so did the rest of the family but my father was afraid that not going could be dangerous.
He said that maybe one member of the family could go alone and cast votes for the rest of us. We looked at each other thinking who’s going to volunteer to do this ugly job to protect the family. At that moment my father said “it was my generation that caused the misery we’re living in so I’m the one who should do this”.
I couldn’t stop him and I couldn’t utter a word but I felt sad for him; his sacrifice was big and I had teary eyes when I watched him taking our papers and heading out.
We take so much for granted over here! The purple fingers humble we who casually accept our liberty so let loose! Loudly cheer the steadfast Iraqis (and the Iraqi army, police and security forces) who have braved bombings, kidnappings and assassinations to pursue this freedom thing.

Have doubts about the success of those Iraqis dedicated to protect Iraq? Read this, via Newsbeat1:

While languishing in prison under the Saddam regime, General Rasheed and his superior, General Adnon, formulated the idea of a commando style unit.
Their idea, to say the least, has been highly successful!

I'm off to work but can hardly wait to turn on the news when I get home tomorrow morning. It's going to be a long, exciting night.

Let freedom ring!

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That "rogue civil servant" explanation

Oct. 14 - Testimony previously under publication ban has been released by Judge Gomery which gives a closer look at the financial relationship between Jean Brault and Chuck Guite (Money bound Brault and Guite) all of which seems to be in line with the "rogue civil servant" explanation:

Both men said that after he left the federal civil service in 1999, Guite collected thousands of dollars for advising Brault on how to boost his business, often at the expense of taxpayers.

Guite and Brault are now charged with conspiracy and defrauding the government of nearly $2 million. Their trial is set for May 2006. The testimony made public Friday does not touch on any of the contracts that resulted in criminal charges.


The testimony illustrates the cosy, back-scratching environment that exploded into the $250-million sponsorship fiasco, which featured ad agencies and other middle-men collecting $100 million, often for little or no work.


According to Brault's testimony, his involvement began at the Vancouver Molson Indy auto race in 1995 where Guite taught him how federal sponsorships were really run.

"That's where he showed me that there was a sponsorship the government gave to (advertising company) Lafleur, and by spending three days in jeans with a beer in hand it's much easier to establish contacts," Brault said in the testimony.

"It was the first time that I would say I sowed, as we say in the business, a little seed to get one of these non-conventional contracts."

Both Guite and Brault reaped the harvest. While Brault gathered millions in ad contracts through his firm Groupaction, Guite picked smaller fruit at first.

Both men say Brault gave Guite high-performance Pirelli tires in 1997 for his brand new Ford Mustang. Brault's company billed the sponsorship program more than $1,300 for the tires. A few months later, Brault bought the car from Guite for $35,000 after Guite decided he was too old for a sports car.


Guite testified that Groupaction purchased expensive tickets for him and his family for the Italian Grand Prix in 1998.

Guite said that once he left the public service in 1999 he worked on contracts for Groupaction, receiving $76,000 from the company through August 2000.

Brault said he had put Guite on a $10,000 monthly retainer by 2001 for his "vast knowledge of ... the potential of different organizations working on communications in Canada."

According to Brault, his company gave more than $136,000 to Oro Communications, Guite's firm, from 1999 through 2002.

Guite said he borrowed $25,000 from a Groupaction subsidiary, Alexism Inc., to purchase a boat in 2001.

Guite was to repay the money from a $125,000 commission he was to receive later that year from Brault on a handshake deal. The repayment plan was interrupted when the sponsorship scandal broke and became a criminal case.

Guite said he still intends to repay the money, with interest.

Other testimony released Friday highlighted other aspects of the sponsorship file:

--Paul Coffin, the first man convicted of fraud in the sponsorship program, testified that Guite told him to fabricate invoices to cash in on sponsorships. Coffin pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud earlier this year and received a sentence to be served in the community. The sentence is under appeal.

-- Brault testified that Guite pressed him into making a $50,000 donation to Jean Charest's provincial Liberals through ad agency Groupe Everest in 1998. Brault said Guite named Charest, saying "We must send $50,000 to Charest." Brault later qualified the statement by saying Guite was talking about the Charest campaign, not Charest personally.

Guite denies the accusations.

So much for Guite, Brault and Coffin, but the question lingers: what the hell were those elected to run the country and oversee expenditures doing? Either they were doing their job and Guite, Brault, Coffin and others were doing what they were expected to do, or those elected weren't doing their jobs so what the hell good are they and why would Canadians entrust their future to such fall downs?

(Link via Neale News.)

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Strangelets and black holes and frazzling , oh my!

Oct. 14 - How to destroy the Earth contains a modest disclaimer:

Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

(Via Ambient Irony, and please be sure and read his post on this because it's very funny.)

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October 13, 2005

Eye on the U.N.

Oct. 13 - Great article: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the U.N..

The inability of the U.N. to declare that acts of terrorism against Israelis are terrorism highlights why the U.N. has no true moral credibility. They talk and they meet and they issue inoffensive platitudes - unless they're attacking Israel or the USA. So why does the American taxpayer continue to fund that body?

Eye on the U.N. might be a good site to bookmark (passing on some good advice from Newsbeat1 where I got this link.)

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Loyalty from Diversity

Oct. 13 - Interesting poll results (Canadians value diversity, demand loyalty: poll):

The majority of Canadians believe the country's multicultural society helps guard against extremism, a new survey shows. However, most respondents also believe Canadians should be loyal first and foremost to Canada, not their countries of origin.

The results may indicate where a country that prides itself on multiculturalism is prepared to draw the line on tolerance.

Nice of the Globe to confuse loyalty with tolerance!

To me this poll simply indicates that most Canadians have common sense.

As an aside, I've been doing a marathon thing at work (we call it "gearing up for Christmas") but things are expected to return to normal next week (that's the official story, anyway.)

(Link via Neale News.)

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October 10, 2005

So say we all!

Oct. 19 - What a game! Houston and Atlanta went a record setting 18 innings - Houston prevailed and eliminated Atlanta. (Take that, Mega-Freaking Wanker Ted Turner.)

The ballgame forced Thanksgiving dinner to be a few hours late (we held it today to accomodate the kid who has to get his b*tt back up to Ottawa for school) but it was worth it.

What. A. Game!

The post title above comes from a small thing for which I am also very grateful. Space: The Imagination Station aired the first four hours of the Battlestar Galactica series last night and this evening, and although it will be difficult to wait until January for season 2 (who am I kidding? it's driving me nuts!) I continue to be impressed by the sheer power of the series.

Each time I see the memorial scene in which Adama suddenly reveals that Earth is not a myth and he knows it's location I find myself cheering as the shouting grows louder: "So say we all!"

A vital truth lies in Adama's explanation for the subterfuge: it isn't enough just to live; one has to live for something. Hope is the spur that lends wings to our feet and meaning to our deeds. It's why we continue to breathe, love, and have children. And it's why we have celebrate Thanksgiving.

So say we all.

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October 07, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving and Be Careful!

Oct. 7 - I can't be the only person in Toronto who has taken the alert for New York subways as a warning to up my own Awareness Meter when riding the subway here (Official: Threat cites this weekend) so, in the immortal words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, Let's be careful out there.

I have to work again tonight but before I head out I want to wish all of you in Canada and the members of the Canadian Forces around the world - including Afghanistan - a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.

We do have a lot to be grateful for. I know I gripe a lot but I also live in a country where I can do so publicly.

Mark, on the other hand is not grateful. The BoSox were eliminated and he's temporarily inconsolable.

(Please let the Angels win. I don't think Mark can handle it if they blow a 5-0 lead over the Yankees.)

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Zawahiri: Send money!

Oct. 7 - (Sorry about the silly title, but I'm on my sixth day/night with little sleep and I couldn't help thinking that Zawahiri's reqeusts for funds sounds like the stereotypical college student writing home.)

Nevertheless, the request for money is astonishing. The general impression had been that al Qaeda seemingly had limitless funds, but if the letter accurately represents al Qaeda's financial state I have to wonder if maybe we have indeed been successful in cutting off their funding - including that which many of us suspect came from Saudi Arabia.

The rest of the letter (ahem, treatise) is perhaps less surprising. Zawahiri evidently realizes that Zarqawi is as much a psychopath as Saddam & Sons but he's trying to reason with him. Maybe he should have received the Nobel Peace Prize instead of elBaradei ...

Silliness aside, the implications of this 13-page comminque are deadly serious (U.S. Obtains Treatise By Bin Laden Deputy) and confirms the reasons why the U.S. is hanging tough in Iraq.

These days leading up to the October 15 referendum in Iraq are likely to continue to be bloody but the treatise makes clear how vitally important that vote is. The results are somewhat secondary to the fact that there will be a vote and that the people of Iraq will have the final voice in the destiny of their country.

On the plans to extend jihad, is it just me or would not taking Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Israel effectively tighten a noose around Jordan and Saudi Arabia? And no mention of the Palestinians? That is a glaring omission given the civil war taking place there.

Iran is also left out. Or is it counted as "mission accomplished?"

I still haven't had a chance to do more than scan the transcript of President Bush's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy (and like the passion of what I've read) but hot damn! releasing the treatise at the same time as that speech was well-executed.

Please, Mr. President, do it more often! Let's stay focused on the aims of this war and the horrific consequences of appeasement or, unthinkably, failure.

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Dawn Patrol (even if it is dusk)

Oct. 7 - I have been totally caught up following the links at today's Dawn Patrol at Mudville Gazette and can barely digest it all. To call it a "full plate" would be as to call toast without butter a meal. [Sheesh. I'm trying to say that today's patrol is a banquet.]

Scroll down and take a look. Warning! The final section, Welcome Home, might just fill your heart with gratitude and bring tears to your eyes. It's had that impact on me.

19:23 - Hurrah for the good folks in Brook Park, Ohio! The thousands that turned out for the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, were joined in spirit by millions of us too far away to attend.

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The wanker choice

Oct. 7 - It's almost a relief to wake up and find a major news item that's both outrageous and funny. If I had know that being ineffective and incompetent was the chief qualification I'd have submitted my own name. Or Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's name.

I'm referring of course to the awarding of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei.

On reading the rationale, I gather it's been awarded for doing absolutely nothing to make the world safer from nutjobs having nuclear weapons but for opposing U.S. military action and foreign policy in general:

The Nobel Committee's decision lent support to negotiations and inspections, not military action, as the best way to handle volatile nations. It also was seen as a message to the U.S. administration, which invaded Iraq after claiming UN efforts to eradicate Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions had failed and which opposed ElBaradei's appointment to another term.

UN Ambassador John Bolton, once the U.S. point man on nuclear nonproliferation and a key opponent of ElBaradei's reappointment, refused to comment when asked if the prize was a rebuff to U.S. strategy.

"I'll stick with the secretary's statement," he said Friday as he entered the United Nations, referring to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statement that ElBaradei deserved the honour.

Rice also reaffirmed that the administration was "committed to working with the IAEA to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology."

Well, they are diplomats and I'm not.

On more sober reflection, they should have given the award to Libyan Head of State Omar Muammar al-Ghaddafi. It was through him (albeit indirectly) that the black market of nuclear weapons technology and Dr. Khan were exposed. At least one source was actually shut down, which is more than the IAEA has accomplished.

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October 06, 2005

Anti-Semitism and the Saudis

Oct. 6 - Pieter reports on a disturbing incident at Vancouver Island's Pearson College at which swastikas were painted on the sidewalk greeted Israeli Consul General Cobie Brosh when he visited that campus.

[Oct. 7 - 07:04: Pieter has some information on the response of the college administration to the incident here and I guess it would be safe to say that they dealt with it much as one would expect a U.N. sponsored school to do but perhaps more than one would expect the U.N. to do.]

Is anti-Semitism in North America on the rise? There is certainly reason to be concerned, and certainly reason to confront that possibility. There is also reason to wonder what role the Saudis might have played if there has been an uprise.

According to this article in the NY Sun, the U.S. State Department has demanded that Saudi Arabia answer for their distribution of hate literature to mosques and schools in the U.S.A. I say "their" because the literature bears the official seal of the government of Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the hate literature starting Oct. 25.

The literature appears beyond inflammatory and even incites treasonable actions by recent Muslim immigrants to the U.S. The Sun article deserves to be read in full because, if the allegations are correct, we have a big problem: our views on human rights and liberties are in direct conflict with our need to defend ourselves.

The flurry of activity comes months after a report from the Center for Religious Freedom discovered that dozens of mosques in major cities across the country, including New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, were distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.

A Washington-based group that is part of the human rights organization Freedom House, the Center for Religious Freedom also found during its yearlong study that the Saudi-produced materials describe democracy and America as un-Islamic. They instruct recent Muslim immigrants to consider Americans as enemies and the materials urge new arrivals to use their time here as preparation for jihad. The documents also promote the version of Islam officially embraced by Saudi government and several of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, Wahhabism, as the only authentic Islam.


The Accountability Act, introduced in June, says its purpose is "to halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure fully Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents." The legislation is highly critical of the House of Saud for its support of terrorist activity and cites the January Freedom House report as evidence of the kingdom's complicity in the spread of radical Islamist ideology. As part of the Accountability Act, Senator Specter has in the past held Judiciary Committee hearings into Saudi financing of terrorism and Saudi Arabia's role in injecting ideology into textbooks for Palestinian Arab schoolchildren. (Bolding added)

There has been much criticism of the Bush Administration for its kid-glove treatment of Saudi Arabia and failure to strongly condemn the role in exporting terror particularly through their schools and mosques. The extent to which the Saudis fund terror organizations is also something that has also not been adequately addressed by the Bush administration and accusations that the administration is covering up for the royal family have some validity.

But one peculiarity of U.S. government structure is the separation of the executive and legislative branches, and sometimes Congress takes the lead (as they did in investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program) and it is possible that the White House has chosen to play a diminished but supporting role to this latest Senate investigation:

Also demanding answers about the hate materials is the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Karen Hughes. During a high-profile trip to the Middle East last week, Ms. Hughes said American representatives had addressed the propagation of Saudi hate material in America during private meetings with government officials.
In response to questions as to why the issue was raised privately rather than publicly, Hughes said that "We had been raising the issue privately," Ms. Hughes said, "and as part of raising difficult issues that we need to discuss, I felt it was appropriate."

I have a sinking feeling that there is truth to the allegations. And I don't know quite how we can deal decisively with the Saudis without performing bin Laden's dirty work for him by destablizing the Saudi ruling family, how we can separate those who immigrate in hopes of better lives and those who come to these shores with murder in their hearts.

I'm willing to let the Senate committee take the lead, but I think the Bush administration is going to have to confront the Saudis sooner rather than later.

(I've only had time to quickly read through President Bush's speech to the National Endowment for Democracy but from what I gleaned he didn't admonish the Saudis. It seems to have been a good speech but I need to read it more attentively after work tomorrow morning.)

(NY Sun link via Newsbeat1)

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The media harsher on N.O. than the flood

Oct. 6 - I accused the press of racism on Oct. 4 because they were too quick to believe that black Americans descended into barbarism after the levees in New Orleans broke and flooded large sections of the city. The damage caused by the wholesale failure to confirm information before rushing to press has been partially addressed in a lengthy article in yesterday's Washington Post - News of Pandemonium May Have Slowed Aid and evacuation efforts in New Orleans.

This is quite a comedown. The press was quite self-congratulatory when they believed their fearless reporting of widespread murders, rapes, child molestations and the wholesale looting of the entire gun department at Walmart sped aid to New Orleans and now they can contemplate the reality: that spreading these false rumours delayed rescue efforts and, worse, made other cities fear to welcome those in desperate need of refuge.

The press believed their own press. Who said irony was dead? (Come to think of it, it was the press!)

I'd like to cut writers Robert E. Pierre and Ann Gerhart some slack for at least addressing the failures of the news coverage in New Orleans during those terrible days but although the article starts well it ends with incredible stupidity:

Five weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans, some local, state and federal officials have come to believe that exaggerations of mayhem by officials and rumors repeated uncritically in the news media helped slow the response to the disaster and tarnish the image of many of its victims.

Claims of widespread looting, gunfire directed at helicopters and rescuers, homicides, and rapes, including those of "babies" at the Louisiana Superdome, frequently turned out to be overblown, if not completely untrue, officials now say.

[jumping to the concluding paragraph]

Keith M. Woods, faculty dean at the Poynter Institute for journalists, is willing to cut reporters some slack. "Every institutional source for quality information was uprooted," said Woods, a New Orleans native whose father's and sister's homes were flooded. "It was different than 9/11 because everything was underwater, and you are relying totally on word of mouth. In that situation, invariably, we will get some things wrong. One of the questions that would have served us better is 'How do you know that?'" (Bolding added)

Say what? Reporters didn't know they should ask "How do you know that?" They slandered the residents of an entire city who were coping with a catastrophic flood with decency and dignity and why? because they abandoned basic journalistic standards. No fumbling excuses are allowed on this one.

Another feature of the article that could have been explored more thoroughly is this:

"Rumor control was a beast for us," said Maj. Ed Bush of the Louisiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Superdome. "People would hear something on the radio and come and say that people were getting raped in the bathroom or someone had been murdered. I would say, 'Ma'am, where?' I would tell them if there were bodies, my guys would find it. Everybody heard, nobody saw. Logic was out the window because the situation was illogical."


The Washington Post, in a Sept. 1 front-page article, noted that evacuees at the Superdome were repeating rumors of rapes and killings but quoted Maj. Bush as saying "none of that" occurred. A Sept. 15 front-page story said the precise number of people who died in the convention center was not known at the time, but officials believed it could be as many as 10. (Bolding added.)

Actually the number of bodies was 4. So why didn't they believe Major Bush or, at minimum, consider the truth of his assertions and pursue that angle? How can they give equal weight to statements uttered by an officer in the National Guard and statements made by persons who are reporting what they heard, not what they saw? Is it possible that his statements were discounted because the press is pre-conditioned to assume members of the military lie?
Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, said that reporters got bogged down trying to tell people how bad the situation was rather than "gathering facts and corroborating that information."
He didn't say it this time but we know what he was thinking!

Another panicked rumour has been found to have a more likely explanation:

Federal agents arrested a man for shooting at a helicopter, on Sept. 5. But several officials, including Blanco, now believe that some of the gunfire people reported in the city was attempts to signal rescuers because residents have told them so.
Most people have been taught that three successive blasts on a whistle - or three shots, or three loud bangs - is a signal for help. In retrospect, it seems fairly likely that those who remembered that lesson applied it.

The article does do a credible job of addressing some of the rumours and dispensing of them and, under the sub-title "Setting the Record Straight," it permits one of those who remained rooted in reality, Major Bush, to do just that.

Maj. Bush of the Louisiana National Guard said he is glad the record is being corrected.

"I certainly saw fights, but I saw worse fights at a Cubs game in Chicago," he said. "The people never turned into these animals. They have been cheated out of being thought of as these tough people who looked out for each other. We had more babies born [in the Superdome] than we had deaths." (Bolding added)

And the issue I raised Tuesday still remains: why was the news media so quick to unquestioningly believe and spread lurid tales - which have since been disproven - that depicted New Orleans residents in the worst possible light? Was it because those residents were predominantly black?

(Via Neale News)

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October 05, 2005

FEMA leads to disaster!

Oct. 5 - Larry shows how power point presentations lead to so much audience inattention that they uncritically view one that seemingly shows that FEMA leads to disaster.

I'm not sure how I would redo this, but I think that metaphorically speaking, prevention and preparedness shouldn't lead to disaster.

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ExPat Yank Returns

Oct. 5 - Robert is back from Italy and has some delightful photos and commentary on the trip.

He also posts on a somewhat more serious topic: accusations that Iran has been behind attacks on British soldiers in Iraq, and notes the chief affliction of BBC reporting:

Thus for the reader the meaning is clear: for the BBC, the word of the Iranian theocrats is supposed to be as trustworthy as that of the British government.
Exactly. Welcome back, Robert.

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Is it "sectarian civil strife" if only one side is attacking?

Oct. 5 - Hillah: A bomb kills 25 and wounds 87. Inside a mosque. During the funeral service of a victim of a previous homicide attack. Part of the mosque is destroyed.

CNN notes that Iraqi police were at the funeral and might have been the targets. Riiight.

CNN offers the usual analysis that this is all sectarian civil strife, but is that accurate?

Doesn't "civil strife" imply that both sides are attacking one another and setting off bombs in mosques? Yet bombs have been going on in Shiite mosques, not Sunni mosques. Shiites have been targets of terrorist attacks, not Sunnis - unless they are Sunni Kurds. Non-Kurdish Sunnis are only 20% of Iraq's population, and, despite political overtures from Shiites and Kurds that have been extremely generous, they have been obstructionists to establishing consensual government in Iraq.

Although Shiites are the majority in Iraq, they are not the majority of Muslims, and that may explain why many Muslims are seemingly indifferent to desecrations of Shiite mosques and the murders of Shiite civilians and why the U.N. and Saudis are more concerned about the Sunnis than the Shiites that are being slaughtered.

The religious tensions between Shiites and Sunnis casts a different light on the rebuke delivered by Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr to Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia:

Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, had expressed concern about growing Shi'ite influence in Iraq during a visit to Washington last month.

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a member of the Shi'ite Islamist Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, fired back during a press conference in Amman yesterday, saying, "We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal issues, regardless of their political status. ...

"This Iraq is the cradle of civilization that taught humanity reading and writing, and some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us. This talk is totally rejected," he said.

He could have gone much further. He could have accused the Saudis of exporting the cult of terrorism through the religious schools they've established throughout the Muslim world. He could have pointed out that many suspect that Saudi money is financing the wave of terror aimed at Shiites in Iraq. He did point out that the suppression of political freedoms in Saudi Arabia hardly make them authorities on establishing consensual government:
He also took a swipe at the Saudi monarchy.

"There are regimes that are dictatorships. They have one God. He is the king, he is God of heaven and earth, and he rules as he likes," Mr. Jabr said.

"A whole country is named after a family. If we open these topics without inhibitions, it is neither to our benefit, nor to theirs."

The exchange between the two ministers reflects wider tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites that divide the Arab world and are behind many of the problems in Iraq, including a stubborn insurgency and the failure of the country to unite in support of a new constitution.

I have to admit that the Shiites and Kurds have been far more patient with Sunni intransigence that I would be, but maybe that is changing:
Iraq's National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reverse last-minute changes it had made to rules for next week's referendum on a new constitution.

The United Nations had criticized the change as unfair to Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which had threatened to boycott the vote.

After a brief debate, the Assembly voted 119 to 28 to restore the original voting rules for the referendum, which will take place October 15. Only about half of the 275-member legislative body turned up for the vote.


U.S. and U.N. officials hope that restoring the original rules will avert a boycott of the referendum by the Sunni minority, would have deeply undermined the credibility of the vote and wreck efforts to bring Sunnis into the political process.

To Western minds, those who don't vote have no right to complain about the outcome. The Sunnis boycotted the January elections but were still appointed to government positions in an effort to unite the country (which is something we understand fully as "going the extra mile") but the Sunni insurgents have exploited that sentiment by continuing to attack Shiite targets.

Maybe - just maybe - restoring the original rules will be interpreted as a sign that the 80% of Iraqis who aren't Sunnis are losing patience and want to get on with ratifying a constitution, electing a government, and rebuilding the country.

I'm with the 80%. The Sunnis once ruled Iraq and, hard as it may be to relinquish total power, at some point they must be made to realize that if they are to have any power it will have to within the framework of a power-sharing government.

(Washington Times link via Newsbeat1)

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3 Canadian soldiers injured

Oct. 5 - Three Canadian soldiers received minor injuries today by what initial reports indicate was a homicide bomber about one kilometer outside of Kandahar. Approxomatly 250 Canadian soldiers are stationed in that city at present and the deployment will be increased by 1,250 in February.

Kandahar is considered to be more dangerous than Kabul and thus the risk to the Canadian contingent is higher, but Kabul isn't all that safe either. Two Canadian soldiers sustained injuries Sept. 15 from a roadside bomb there.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 04, 2005

Pink Floyd rules for the Opposition

Oct. 4 - It's a little hard at times to explain the Commons (that's Parliament, for Americans) and how it can sometimes be less than dignified. Even with some of the rowdiness, though, even on my best day I couldn't have predicted that the Conservatives would sing Pink Floyd songs to make a point (Opposition sings a song of Dingwall):

The Conservatives broke into a rendition of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall to reveal their disgust at the excessive spending habits of David Dingwall, the former head of the Mint who retired last week amid allegations that he and his staff spent $740,000 last year.

Tory revenue critic Brian Pallister began the rendition with his version of the tune:

"You don't need no information,
We're in charge of thought control,
Fine wines with caviar in the backroom.”

The other Tories finished with the chorus,

"Hey Tories! Leave those Grits alone.” (Spacing added.)
How about working up some new words to AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap for today's songfest? Oh wait, it's hardly cheap, is it? But so long as it's on the taxpayers dime and they don't mind in sufficient numbers to end Liberal rule ...

There's more here on MP Brian Palliser, who is doing more work on uncovering excessive spending than our (un)investigative press up here.

I really need to sleep. So long until tomorrow.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Turning the work world clock back

Oct. 4 - File this under "I'm glad it's not just me."

When I read this I tried to write a coherent post but I couldn't get past writing "why did she drag the kids out?" but I knew I was missing something.

It was a relief to learn I'm not the only one aghast at the staging of the children. Tim nails it:

Don’t these idiots have any shame? Sure, people have affairs, but dragging your kids out to a press conference to parade your stupidity in front of the world borders on child abuse. What was she looking for, the child-sympathy factor?
Of course, Pam Coburn is not only a mother she's a single mother so naturally is above reproach. /sarcasm

Then my day got even better. Tim linked to a Christine Blatchford column (just follow the Google link he provides) that is considerably more insightful than my aborted post:

Please make her stop before she completes the transformation to damsel in distress, before she turns the work world clock back even further, before she completely ruins the cherished dream that secretly sustains us all from time to time -- sin without sorrow.


In the morning yesterday, Ms. Coburn was having a press conference, to which she had inexplicably dragged her two children and at which she did not deny the dalliance but rather confirmed it (so what was the point, exactly?), and by 3 in the afternoon, with lawyer in tow, she was a guest on The John Moore Show on Toronto radio station CFRB, fielding calls from the great unwashed and even blubbering once, when some poor demented fellow, one "David," phoned in to offer his support.

David's support -- he said he was taking off his hat for her, though a crasser mind than mine would suggest perhaps he look lower down on his person -- was based on his view of Ms. Coburn as a courageous lady who was being "honest and open" and was "trapped in a system which does not accept the reality . . . that two people who work together can very easily become attracted to one another."

This was Ms. Coburn's own theme yesterday. (Emphasis added.)

Playing the single mother card was bad enough, but portraying oneself as a woman irresistibly drawn to a colleague and unable to withstand temptation reinforces some rather ancient objections to letting women enter the work force because it would inevitably lead to hanky-panky. How freaking wonderful. Play to the belief that women are guided by their emotions rather than logic and throw in Woman The Seductress and Homewrecker and why? because the executive director of Toronto's municipal licensing and standards department, one Pam Coburn, reveals too much without revealing the one, unassailable fact: she messed up.

If she writes a book I'll scream. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually prefer Wanda Liczyk's unbelievable denials of being involved with Dash Domi or that her past relationship with Michael Saunders made her more easily manipulated. At least it proves that we can stare 'em down and challenge them to prove the allegations.

When we marched in the '70s we demanded equal opportunities because we knew we were equal to the tasks and responsiblities. When we slip up we must take it like a man adults because if we try to wiggle out by taking refuge behind old prejudices the result, in Blatchford's words, is that it "turns the work world clock back even further."

Thanks, Pam. You're a freaking inspiration - to all those who would chase us out of managerial positions because we aren't hard-headed and shroud us in burkas because we are too prone to lead other astray.

(No, I'm not voting for Hillary in any year. She had her eight years in the White House - "two for one" - and we had Sept. 11. Ordering Arafat outside to smoke his cigars doesn't qualify as "taking a firm stand against terrorism.")

Posted by Debbye at 12:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Don't hold back!

Oct. 4 - Keith really lets loose in fine style in More Islamist murders, Jihadi fashionistas, our cowardly ambassador.

He concludes the fiery post by tearing a strip off Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. over remarks made up here at the Empire Club:

Funny isn't it? Our great leaders take pride in needling the country that spends its own blood and treasure to protect Canada, that buys some 80% of our exports.

But they don't have the guts to do the same with, oh, I dunno, China? You know, China? The country whose government does not hesitate to mow down its own citizens with tanks, to arrest, detain and "disappear" people who speak publicly against it? Dysfunctional? Nooooooo. Hell, the Liberals only wish they could get away with it too.

Or Iran, the country that detains, tortures and kills Canadian citizens.

Sharp, pointed commentary.

Posted by Debbye at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Katrina - mythical and factual racism

Oct. 4 - The New Orleans death toll from the levee breaches and Hurricane Katrina is now at 964 972 Dead and body searches have ended. Mississippi lost 221 souls during the hurricane.

This is far short of the 10,000 feared dead in New Orleans but there is no reason to celebrate.

The looting (and I'm not talking about foraging for food and water) was unsurprising. The indications that some New Orleans policemen deserted and others were looters was surprising.

But the biggest - and most shameful - surprise was how readily the news media believed the horror stories of rape, murder and child molestation within the Super Dome and on the streets. I'm not the only blogger who was skeptical about the stories and didn't repeat them so I'm not bragging but the question remains: what do ordinary Americans have that the news media doesn't?

The answer is common sense - and maybe something else.

The stories were not believed by many of us because they were literally unbelievable. We know ourselves and we know that a dire situation as Katrina tends to unite us even if only the interests of survival. Thank back on the footage we actually saw. Groups of people previously unknown to one another were trapped together on overpasses as well as in the Convention Center and Super Dome and they did as people in such circumstances have always done: stayed together and helped one another until they were rescued.

Look, accusations of racism have been flung about too wildly in the aftermath of Katrina so I'm hesitant to say this, but I can't help believing that racism played a role in the willingness of the news media to believe that black Americans descended into lawlessness and barbarism - there was even an account of cannibalism, for crying out loud - and they should be called on it.

Yet which of those who broadcast these stories as fact has had the guts to wonder why they were so gullible?

It wasn't the black faces in the flooded streets of New Orleans that gave evidence of racism in America but the willing promulgation of lies and sensationalist stories by the news media. Shame on them. They owe all of us an apology.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Paulus Martinius AdScamus

Oct. 4 - Lorrie Goldstein writes a history of Canada from 2,000 years in the future and the pivotal events under the political leadership of one Paulus Martinius AdScamus.

Funny and sad.

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October 03, 2005

Terrorists criticized by Human Rights Watch

Oct. 3 - Maybe I was too pessimistic on Saturday when I despaired that there was sufficient tinder to feed Muslim outrage over terrorist attacks.

Human Rights Watch has condemned terror attacks by anti-Iraqi forces (whom they call insurgents) and accuse them of committing war crimes. They also say that the attacks are backfiring and reducing popular support for the anti-Iraq forces. (Link via Mudville Gazette.)

In Afghanistan, the assassination of candidate Mohammed Ashraf Ramazan sparked protest demonstrations by nearly 4,000 in Mazar-e-Sharif. Ramazan was a Hazara, an ethnic group that is about 10% of Afghanistan's population, and the protesters accused international peacekeeping forces and the Karzai government of discrimination which led to the lack of security which enabled the killing. (Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Captain Ed reports that the Balinese are going from shock to anger and asking Why us?. He also points out the the usual excuses given for attacks on Western targets simply don't apply to Bali or Indonesia as a whole.

It should be remembered that some of the largest demonstrations against U.S. intervention in Iraq took place in Indonesia yet bombs still went off in Jakarta and Bali.

Pieter focuses on some of the reasons why the Balinese are targets and draws a parallel between the challenge fundamentalist forces pose to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Instinctive anti-Americanism once sufficed as an excuse for the apologists of terrorism but the instict for survival may yet prove more persuasive.

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Predator joins border patrol

Oct. 3 - Murdoc reports there are Predators on the line (I'm soft on those predators.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bali Update

Oct. 3 - Tim Blair deals with rumours and some accounts that dispute the official story that the three bombs that hit two restaurants in Bali were the work of homicide bombers as well as the persistent rumours that other bombs failed to detonate by remote because the phone service went down after the initial bombs went off.

It appears that Indonesians (probably Balinese) were the largest number of casualties. CNN reports 21 dead and at least 132 wounded:

The latest attacks killed at least two Australians, one Japanese and four or five other foreigners whose nationalities have not been determined, hospital officials said. The other victims were Indonesian.

Earlier reports put the death toll higher because body parts were entering the morgue in separate body bags, police said.

Among the wounded are 68 Indonesians, 20 Australians, six Koreans, four Americans and four Japanese, with five others unidentified, according to Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari.

Two of the three chief suspects are Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed. They are Malaysians and believed to be al Qaeda operatives. The CNN account is somewhat understated; bin Husin and Mohamed are both wanted in connection with the Jakarta attacks of 2003 and 2004, as well as for their part in the 2002 Bali attack:
Syaiful Bahri, alias Apuy, was sentenced for helping the fugitive masterminds behind the attack make their bomb.
The blast, in September last year, killed 10 innocent people and the suicide bomber.

Judge Sucahyo Padmo said Bahri, 26, was guilty of "providing assistance" to Malaysians Azahari Husin and Noordin Top, who are both wanted over the September 9 attack.

Bahri helped purchase potassium used to make the two-tonne truck bomb that exploded outside the heavily-fortified mission and helped master bombmaker Azahari mix the chemicals into an explosive cocktail.

The judges said he also helped hide Azahari and Noordin, who have managed to evade police despite a three-year manhunt launched after the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people - including 88 Australians.

The pair are also blamed for the 2003 blast that ripped apart Jakarta's JWMarriott hotel, killing 12.

There is something sinister about those who travel about Indonesia and other hot spots building bombs and persuading others to lash on those bombs to blow up themselves along with people eating in restaurants or nightclubbing. Calling them "terrorist enablers" is accurate but makes them sound like a group designed for a wearying number of papers submitted to psychology associations; the words I prefer are not appropriate for a blog my parents read but in their own way are more satisfying.

I'm not as angry as I was Saturday but that's not to say that I'm calmer. Bali is a beautiful island and the ideal target for Islamist extremists. The tourism industry is vital to the island's economy, which was only beginning to recover after the devastating attack of October 12, 2002, and most of the inhabitants are polytheist Hindus or Buddhists and seen as an impediment to Jemaah Islamiyah's stated goal of turning Indonesia into a strict Muslim state. If the intent of the terrorists is to isolate and impoverish Bali they may have finally succeeded.

We in North American don't pay enough attention to the Western theatre of the war on terror (fortunately, the Australians do.) Maybe this latest terror attack will get the public's attention and events in Malaysia, Thailand, the Phillippines and Indonesia will be placed in context in this worldwide war on terror.

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson

Oct. 3 - As women we demand equal rights and accept that, with those rights, come responsibilities. One young woman who accepted those responsibilities was Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson, and on Sept. 28 she became the Air Force's first female casualty in Iraq.

The Cult of the Victim is one side of feminism but I prefer the side that women like Airman Jacobson represent. They let their deeds - not their grievances - speak.

Godspeed though that wild blue yonder, Airman Jacobson. And thank you.

Her story is here and a more personal account is here.

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

The Nationals

Oct. 3 - I covered the Nats opener last spring so it's only right I link this Washington Times story about their season (Nats' 1st year exceeds hopes.)

They played .500 ball, not bad for their first year in D.C.

You all ready for the World Series? This household is firmly in the "anyone but the Yankees" camp which probably means the Red Sox (for as long as they last, which will hopefully be all the way to the Series.)

Ever watch baseball with a coach and an umpire? It can be ... informative. Yeah, that's the word. Loud Informative.

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

October 01, 2005

Blasts in Bali Tourist Area

Oct. 1 - Details are extremely sketchy thus far: Blasts in Bali tourist area:

EXPLOSIONS in a popular tourist area of Bali have injured at least three Western tourists and damaged buildings.

The blasts occurred along Jimbaran beach and in Kuta Square.

The area has been cordoned off and staff from nearby businesses told to leave the area, witnesses say.

A restaurant and neighbouring shop were damaged in one blast.

There is no confirmation of what caused the explosions, nor how many people were injured.

At least three Western tourists were injured in the blasts, El Shinta radio reported.

Just a caution: there is no evidence as of yet that this was another terrorist attack. But that doesn't change the fact that I am having a hard time breathing much less writing coherently. Some memories are seared so deeply that it doesn't take much to trigger a reaction.

Hope and pray. That's all we can do (for now.)

11:30 - The Australian news is reporting at least 4 bombs were detonated in the two areas; at least 19 are dead (mostly foreigners) and 51 wounded. (CNN also has the story here if your browser hates Java.)

It is suspected that Jemaah Islamiyah (an affiliate of al Qaeda) is behind the attacks. From CNN:

A report issued in early September warned that bin laden and his top lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri may be planning a series of attacks in October, dubbed "The Great Ramadan Offensive."
Tim Blair is updating as information comes in. An early report said that at least one Australian was dead and Tim Blair reports that ABC (the American network, as opposed to ABC, the Australian equivalent of the CBC) lists two Americans among the dead.

12:04 - Tim Blair is updating here as information comes in. (Sorry for the redundancy. No sleep.)

12:26 - FoxNews reports two Americans and one Australian among the dead. The nationalities of the other fatalities are not yet known. There are a number of wounded; Fox reports 38 with the largest number being Indonesians (28) which, in all liklihood, means Balinese, i.e., Hindus.

12:35 - According to Focus English News, police found another four unexploded devices were found on the island. They say there are 23 fatalities.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reported to be on his way to Bali.

12:50 - I believe Australia is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time, so it's likely going to be a long and grim night for many Australians and Indonesians as they await specifics.

"The Great Ramadan Offensive" indeed. Remember when the USA was urged not to begin the Afghan campaign until after Ramadan so as not to inflame the Arab street? I wish, I really wish, that they would get inflamed about al Qaeda's new offensive, but having been so quiet about the Iraqis who've been murdered by the pious terrorists it's unlikely they'll be too upset about a few dead Westerners and Hindus.

I keep waiting for that breaking point - that moment in time when Muslims around the world unite in opposition to the desecration of their religion and heritage. This latest attack is unlikely to provide that spark, nor will a few bombs set off in Christian neighbourhoods in Lebanon or in British subways.

Maybe there will be no spark that takes because there is no tinder. It may well be that fatalism and cynicism, two afflictions which also burden us, will prove too deeply rooted for healthy growth.

There are some things I simply must take care of before I try to sleep. Later.

13:27 - It suddenly occurred to me that the BBC would be broadcasting their evening news at this time, and I tuned it in. They are covering the Bali blasts extensively (please don't point out the obvious; I could be shopping or clubbing or ... painting my nails instead of having to spend hours trying to write posts if the American news media would just do their &*@$# jobs.)

The BBC reports there were 3 bombs and there are 22 dead and 38 wounded -35 of which are said to be foreigners.

An expert on Jemaah Islamiyah pointed out that this is the first terror attack in Indonesia since Yudhoyono took office. Trenchant point.

More from Tim Blair: a Japanese woman is among the dead. He also reports that the high number of Indonesia wounded (28) has been reported by Sangla Hospital. Eight Australians and two Americans are also reported to be injured.

I plan to continue to pretend that I can focus on mundane, personal stuff.

20:36 - An Australian news agency is now reporting 32 dead and 101 injured from the bomb blasts. One Australian teen is confirmed to be dead and at least 17 Australians are injured. (CNN reports 36 dead and 103 injured.)

There remains confusion over the identities of the dead and wounded, but it is probable that the majority of those dead and wounded are Indonesian. CBC is reporting 3 Canadians sustained minor injures in the blast and were released after treatment and Fox reports 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Koreans, three Japanese and two Americans were injured, according to an official at Sanglah Hospital. [By the way, I failed to mention earlier that a specialist burn unit at Sanglah Hospital was built by the Australian government after the 2002 Bali attacks. Sadly, it has proven useful.] Early reports that two Americans were killed may have been erroneous.

From CNN:

[Australian Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer said it appeared most of those killed were Indonesian. He said 17 Australians were among the injured. Local media reports also said several foreigners are among those wounded.

So far 15 bodies had been identified, according to Reuters news agency, quoting hospital officials. It said among the dead were 12 Indonesians, including a six-year-old boy, two Australians and a Japanese national. The wounded included 17 Australians, six South Koreans, three Americans, three Japanese and one Briton.

Downer said Australia was sending a response team to Bali, and Australian Federal Police were ready to work with their Indonesian colleagues in investigating the attacks.

It's worth saying again: The al Qaeda network in Asia is extensive and murderous. Australia is the Western front of the war on terror and doesn't get half the recognition she deserves.

Lift a few to the redoubtable Australians this evening and give them praise. Say a prayer for the Balinese who have endured more than their share. Remember that those who have died in terror attacks over the years have been a persistent reminder that the war on terror isn't about a religion but a stand against heartless murderers who attack innocent people because their message is so perverted that they cannot persuade by reason.

Death to them, I say. Death and eternal damnation.

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New offensive near Syrian border

Oct. 1 - Offensive launched in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) - About 1,000 U.S. service members launched an offensive in western Iraq near the Syrian border on Saturday aimed insurgents from this country's most feared militant group, Al-Qaida in Iraq, the military said.

The operation against "a known terrorist sanctuary" began early Saturday in the town of Sadah in the western province of Anbar, about 12 kilometres from the Iraq-Syrian border, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The offensive also was aimed at stopping foreign insurgents from entering the country from Syria and at improving security in the area before Iraq's Oct. 15 national referendum on the country's draft constitution, the military said.


On Thursday and Friday, Sunni insurgents hit two Shiite towns - Balad and Hillah - with brutal bombings that killed more than 110 people, apparently aiming at scaring Shiites away from the crucial constitutional vote. The car bomb attacks seemed staged to kill or maim as many civilians as possible, tearing through busy markets and commercial streets.

Insurgents have vowed to derail the referendum, and the recent surge of violence has killed at least 200 people - including 13 U.S. service members - in the past six days.

The Sunni-led al-Qaida in Iraq, the most feared insurgent group, has declared "all-out war" on Shiites, and since a Shiite-majority government took power April 28, suicide bombers have killed at least 1,345 people, according to an Associated Press count. (Emphasis added

That last figure should give pause to even the most virulent opponent to the war.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
The success of the January elections was a serious blow to al Qaeda and the forces that oppose consensual government in Iraq (and, indeed, in the Mid-East.) Hence the vicious wave of terrorist attacks during the recent period.

Sometimes when I read about the terror attacks I find myself full of wonder that the Shiites in Iraqi can remain steadfast and withstand the temptation to retaliate. I don't know if I could rise to their example.

The Oct. 15 referendum is important - both in terms of who votes and who boycotts - and, as was the vote last January, it has transcended what we in the West think of as "election day." The press continues to be full of commentary as to how important this referendum will be to the USA, which overlooks the rather obvious fact that it is far more important to the Iraqis. But I suspect that the Iraqis are resigned to the stupidity of our journalists and, if that higher power which dictates such things allow, we may be able to sit down some day and laugh at those wankers.

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

Living in Bizarro World

Oct. 1 - I'm just postive there's a logical explanation as to why the feds would consider giving former Canadian Mint president David Dingwall a severance package (Dingwall payout dinged.)

But I can't think of one.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack