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7/31/2003

Flying to California 

My eldest son is safely on the plane to California for a visit with my family (lucky kid will probably sleep off yesterday on the plane.) It's just stupid bad luck (mine) that aviation security concerns are heightened by the recent al Quaeda threat just before his trip, but an article he read here and with which he agrees reassures me that he knows what is important and what to do if he's ever in that situation.

Mind you, I'm still going to check my email a number of times tonight until I get the one he's been ordered to send once he arrives. Mothers have rights too, you know.

Anyway, I'm going to wrap it up for today and try to forcus better tomorrow after catching up with yesterday's as well as today's news and some rest.

Take care.

AC/DC, Isley Brothers rock big in Rolling Stones concert 

I am tired in a way I hope is repeated a few more times in my lifetime after yesteday's concert. There are a number of references to the concert in the media, but a few things struck me that I'll share.

First, the love and pride for our Armed Forces was evident in voices that, hopefully, were heard all the way to Ottawa. A parachuting team from the armed forces (I believe called the Sky Hawks with the Maple Leaf insignia on the chutes) did some beautifully executed maneuvers on their way down to the area behind the stage to the oohs and aahs of the crowd.

An F-18 (or F14?) jet did a low pass circling the crowd and to a thunderous, standing ovation. In fact, everytime the armed forces of both Canada and the US were mentioned, either by citing the the fact that the concert was being broadcast to them or by messages of solidarity with them by the performers, the crowd responded enthusiastically and passionately. (I doubt that will be mentioned in the media!)

You'll see a lot written about how friendly and neighbourly the crowd was. It's all true. The only down note was when some of the crowd was disrespectful to Justin Timberlake, but as I watched the really young kids (aged +/- 10) dancing and rocking to him I was glad he came. There really was something for everyone.

When the crowd was urged to hold their fingers up in a peace sign to the Beatles song "Revolution" a surprisingly large number of people got the political message and pointedly saw down with their hands firmly in their laps.

People listen to their guts, not a group of people commonly perceived as the neediest in the world when it comes to public approval and lurve. Just my opnion.

Norman Jewison came on stage and showed a filmed tribute to Canada on the big screens. The crowds cheered their lustiest for two shots of Mike Meyers: Toronto loves Mike as much because he's a native son as because he came through for Toronto when the sagging tourist industry threatened the fiscal health of the city.

The crowd was terrific for all of the acts (with the one exception) but the younger folks got a big education when the Isley Brothers came on stage. Most of the younger crowd had never even heard of them; at first the ones cheering and dancing were us boomers, but the brothers came through with pure soul and quickly won over the youngsters (heh).

I swear to God sometimes I think the younger kids think my generation listened to the Beatles and Stones and then we switched over to Frank Sinatra type music. Well, we didn't. We'll never be too old to rock and roll, and we are way too young to die.

AC/DC proved an impossibly tough act to follow. I can't find the words to describe how electric and energizing they are. They were indeed TNT, and as tired as everyone was there was no way anyone could sit.

The Stones were great once they got going. There is this love affair between Keith Richards and Toronto that even Mick Jagger can't compete with. Keith said a few words expressing his sorrow that Toronto has been hit so hard that brought tears to our eyes. I don't know why Keith loves Toronto, he could think "those bastards busted me," but the affection he feels for us is as genuine as the affection Toronto feels for him. He's an amazing man.

Food sales were down, especially chicken burgers (damned straight we all ate beef) mostly because it was too damned hot to eat. Yesterday was the only day (including today) these past weeks when there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was remorseless, but that's why they make hats and sunscreen.

As the sun finally set we were urged to put mosquito repellent on. I don't think anyone bothered; you've got 10 layers already of sunscreen and sweat and now you're going to dig through your bag to put more stuff on? Sure. No one around me did it either, and once again the people were right. We mock thee, West Nile. And, for whatever reason, there wasn't a single mosquito to be found on the field.

There's a pretty comprehensive news and analysis round-up at The Stones Rock Toronto if you want.

UPDATE: I had mispelt "Isley" and corrected it. Sigh. See what happens when you rock all night long?

7/29/2003

No blogging Wednesday 

I won't be blogging on Wednesday because I'll be attending the Toronto SARS concert.

The concert will be beamed to 2,000 Canadian troops in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Egypt and the Golan Heights and to US soldiers overseas as well.

See you Thursday, and God bless you all.

Evidently Saddam believes they're dead 

Purported voice of Saddam mourns sons and calls them martyrs.

So he's purportedly still alive and ScrappleFace called it.

Sections of 9/11 report to stay secret 

No surprises here: President Bush says that Sections of 9/11 report to stay secret.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday rejected calls to release classified sections of a congressional report on the September 11, 2001, attacks, saying his administration must protect intelligence sources during the war on terrorism.

The declassified material was sought by some lawmakers and Saudi Arabia, which says it has been smeared by the redacted report and unfairly tied to the hijackers by some members of Congress.

"It makes no sense to declassify when we've got an ongoing investigation. That could jeopardize that investigation," Bush said during a Rose Garden appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Heh. Interesting photo op when making that announcement with PM Sharon before meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister. I wonder if the funding of Hamas was discussed in either meeting.

It really pleases me that the Saudis are so nervous (however much they hide behind their deeply offended posture.) They could have figured out the game was up when former NYC Mayor Guiliani refused their sizeable donation but they too miscalculated what we're like when we're roused.

Well, too bad they are consumed with doubt. Too bad that our normally open, transparent political system has suddenly deprived them from learning what, if any, holes they have to plug to cover their sixes by the judicious use of a magic marker.

They are being forced to wonder not only what and how much we know, but how far up the chain our investigation has led us, and their main sources are speculations from Congress, the press, and their own paranoia!

I don't think President Bush is going to play partisan politics with this one however much the Dems try to draw him out. This is deadly serious, and if the stakes are between forcing the Saudi agenda into the open or them making much needed reforms in Saudi Arabia, so much the better. It will unwind slowly, and we'll build up Iraq in the meantime.

The part that doesn't exactly add up is the power distribution: the way the Saudis are acting, it's as though they feel they must maintain our good will, whereas the criticisms that have been leveled against Bush assume that it's us that need Saudi good will. What gives here?

I wish I could leap forward a few decades to learn how this is all going to play out, but for now I'll have to be content to rely on my untrustworthy crystal ball and predict that we'll see more arrests in Saudi Arabia as they strive to prove that they really are, you know, allies in the War on Terrorism. We might even see some cracks in the Royal family itself.

Just my opinion, of course.

More stupid ideas 

Right On! links and adds some much needed snark to a innovative new scheme by the government Regulate me that, come to think of it, actually does sound like something dreamed up in Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and will undoubtedly stop street-racing much as the gun registry has ended violent crime. Or maybe just end the Auto-Pact.

Another view on gay marriages 

I'm still in the gray in my views on gay marriage (although I support gay rights), and I take it as a given that I must try to reconcile my beliefs in the value of the family and equal rights under the law with the evolution of our society, but then along comes the CBC who found someone to speak against the issue because gay marriage violates women's rights:

From Agnete Kay of Calgary:

Opposition to same-sex-marriage is generally thought to be a right-wing -religious concern only. Not being very right-wing, I see it differently. My personal perspective is that there are issues of women's right here. Something that was always theirs is being taken away, namely the right to be an essential half of the institution of marriage.

Our Constitution's phrases about "not discriminate" once meant "not treat unfairly," but is now re-interpreted as "not distinguish." It is taken to mean that men and women are the very same thing.

Okay, I'm with her so far. There has been a blurring of lines these past several years because equality does not equate sameness if only because biological realities get in the way. I'm not as strong as most men, and I couldn't carry fire-fighting equipment up 50 stories or a victim down a ladder. But there are women who are strong enough and men who aren't strong enough, so the issue has always been (to me) one of evaluating our abilitities as individuals.

... Over the last hundred years there has been good progress in getting women represented in such institutions as the courts and parliament. If it is now decided that a man can represent a woman, will there be any necessity to have women in other institutions? (Emphasis added)
[...]

Huh? Maybe she's just too subtle for me. Read on:

Men are physically stronger than women. They have more influence in society. They earn higher incomes with better pensions. They are employable even after age 50. They are not subject to the potential dangers of childbirth, one of the many uncertainties of a marriage. How can two men, two equally privileged persons, say they form a marriage?
[...]

I hope she isn't saying that women need marriage to be exclusively between a man and a woman because it is the only way women can make up for inequality between the genders. Does that mean that lesbians who marry will be at an even bigger disadvantage? Where does that leave single women?

If her argument hinges on the contention that a man married to a man supposedly has an advantage over a man married to a woman, what does that have to do with women's rights? Am I to suppose therefore that a heterosexual man will look at the comparative advantages and decide "Hey! I'm gonna marry me a man instead of a woman because then I'll be more privileged!"

I really, really appreciate the tireless efforts of CBC investigative reporters who uncovered this threat to women's rights and brought it to the attention of those of us who are actually trying to work out our attitudes on this issue rationally.

(via Daimnation!)

Out-sourcing, Pentagon-style 

From FOXNews: Senators: Pentagon Plan Would Allow Betting on Terrorism.

When I saw the headline, I thought it was an office pool thing, but it turns out to be utilising the talents of futures traders:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon ... views it as a potentially innovative way to get clues about terrorists' plans: a public, stock market-style exchange where traders can profit by correctly predicting terror attacks or assassinations in the Middle East.

M'kay. President Bush did warn us nearly two years ago that the War on Terrorism would be waged with both conventional and unconventional strategies but I'm really going to have to think about this one.

It does make sense to use the talents of traders, but I'm squeamish that they could actually profit on terrorism. It also raises an ugly picture when I think about market abuses like insider trading.

The article states that government agencies will not be allowed to participate and will not have access to the identities or funds of traders... but still I wonder if it is connected in any way to the ongoing investigation of the market dump of shares of American and United Airlines just prior to Sept. 11. (Emphasis added)

Read the article. I report, you decide.

(via Neale News)

UPDATE: Instapundit has a good analysis and some additional links about this here so I'm going to live with my squeamishness and stick with "it's not as crazy as it sounds."

UPDATE: According to the New York Daily News, Pentagon pulls the plug on bet-on-a-threat Website.

Pity.

Nessie a fake? 

A bit of whimsey for the morning: Loch Ness monster does not exist, British Broadcasting Corp. says.

LONDON (AP) - The Loch Ness monster is a Loch Ness myth - at least according to the British Broadcasting Corp., which says a team that trawled the loch for any signs of the famous monster came up with nothing more than a buoy moored several metres below the surface.

Since the BBC has a poor track record on factual reporting, I'm going to continue to believe in Nessie.

This could be interesting 

From CNN Saudi official, Bush to meet on 9/11 report:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A diplomatic source says Saudi Arabia's foreign minister will meet Tuesday with President Bush to seek the release of Saudi-related material that was kept out of the public version of the new congressional report on the September 11 attacks.

A White House official confirmed the meeting would take place, and another administration official said the Saudis are upset about recent verbal attacks in Congress against their government.
[...]
The diplomatic source said the Saudi government wanted "White House help" to quiet the dispute, and said the Saudi government was being "recklessly smeared" by some members of Congress who have said some material was kept classified because the administration is trying to protect the Saudi government and keep incriminating information out of the public eye. (Emphasis added)

Like the French, the Saudis don't get separation of powers, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press.

Asked whether the Saudis wanted the material declassified, this diplomatic source said, "That would be one way to stop some of the reckless things and one of the things to be discussed."
[...]

Looks like a case of soft diplomacy to me. The US government has put more pressure on the Saudis by what they didn't say than by what they did say.

I'm just speculating here, of course. Connecting the dots is a dangerous game which often leads to sticking my neck out.

Defending Freedom of the Press 

From the Toronto Sun Progress slow in Kazemi case:

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham provided little assurance yesterday that progress is being made in the investigation into the death of a Canadian photojournalist. "What we want to do is make sure that those who are responsible for this tragic death are apprehended and punished for it -- whoever it is," Graham said yesterday of reports the lead prosecutor in Iran was involved.
[...]
"We wish to use the case both to open further democracy in Iran and also the protection of journalists," said Graham, whose son Patrick spent time in Iraq covering the war. But Graham has yet to speak with the Iranian foreign minister or confirm the reports surrounding the arrest of five security officials. (Emphasis added)

By George I think he's got it! Finally. This is, and has always been, the crux of the issue. (Maybe he finally learned the difference between international laws and covenants and why calling on Iran to adhere to a law that doesn't exist or a covenant they haven't signed put Canada's case internationally on shaky ground.)
[,,,]
Graham is expected to meet with Hachemi who has called on the Canadian government to impose trade sanctions, charge the lead Iranian prosecutor with engaging in terrorist activity and involve the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Stephen Hachemi has been relentless in his pursuit of justice. Maybe whenever we start to whine "There's nothing we can do" we should stop short and remember him. He's pulling people together to fight a stone-walling Ayatollocracy (TM Paul), and everyone who believes in freedom of the press should be cheering for him.

Over at the Reporters Without Borders website they are calling on Canada to take the initiative:

Reporters Without Borders urged the Canadian government to take the initiative of setting up an international commission of enquiry and to pressure the Iranian government into accepting the commission.

"It is clear now that only an international enquiry will be able to identify who was involved," Ménard said. "The Iranian regime clearly has no desire to shed light on this case and prosecute those responsible for this murder."
[...]
A total of 21 journalists are currently in prison in Iran, 13 of whom were arrested in the past 40 days. This makes the Islamic republic the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East. Thirteen of the detained journalists are being held by Mortazavi's staff and Revolutionary Guards in the same centre where Kazemi was interrogated.

These detainees are denied all rights (such as visits from their lawyer and family) and are kept in deplorable conditions. Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about their fate, especially as their relatives have referred to physical and psychological torture in a letter to President Khatami.

In another statement, they have issued a Call for European Union to break with Iran over journalist's death:

Reporters Without Borders called on the European Union today to break off the "constructive dialogue" it has conducted with Iran since 1998 until officials responsible for the death of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi earlier this month had been brought to trial.

It said it was "unthinkable" that such talks could continue while such a serious crime remained unpunished. It also called on the EU to back Canadian efforts to have Kazemi's body returned to Canada and for an international commission of enquiry to be set up. (Emphasis added)
[...]
A total of 23 journalists are currently imprisoned in Iran, making it the biggest jail for journalists in the Middle East. Thirteen of them are believed to be held by Mortazavi's department and by the Guardians of the Revolution, in the same place where Kazemi was interrogated. They are not allowed visits from family or lawyers and are held in very bad conditions. Reporters Without Borders is very worried about their plight. Their families have written to President Khatami saying they have been physically and psychologically tortured.

Speaking of Reporters Without Borders, there was a disturbing development at the UN last Thursday:

Reporters Without Borders's consultative status with the United Nations commission on human rights was suspended on July 24 for one year at the request of Libya and Cuba because activists with the organisation staged a protest during the inauguration of the commission's last session in March against the decision to let Libya chair the commission. (Emphasis added)

Reporters Without Borders insists that granting the chair to Col. Gaddafi's regime has been a disgrace to the commission.
[...]
Reporters Without Borders today publishes a report which details the excesses, shortcomings and accelerating decline of this commission, which dictatorships such as Cuba and China have taken over in order to strip it of all substance.

The reports proposes a series of reforms that are essential if the commission is to be rescued : limiting the right to vote to those states that have ratified the main international human rights covenants, naming an independent human rights expert to chair the commission, and abolishing the so-called "non-action" motions that have repeatedly been used to block debates.

The results of the vote on the suspension of the consultative status of Reporters without borders :

In favour (27) : Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Against (23) : Andorra, Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.

Abstentions (4) : Argentina, Ecuador, Japan, and Senegal.

7/28/2003

Bob Hope dead at 100 

What can you say about this Bob Hope dead at 100 - Jul. 28, 2003 except "Thanks for the memories."

How Trudeau fought terror, and why Cultural Protectionism doesn't work 

A must read at Daimnation! How Trudeau fought terror, and why Cultural Protectionism doesn't work as he reminds us with a quick tour of history that Trudeau's legacy of fighting terrorism during the FLQ crisis differs greatly with Sheila Copps' views of appeasement and how her "cultural protectionism" views have impeded access to information in Canada.

It's not only instructive but hard hitting, so wear a helmet.

Take case to world court, Kazemi's son says 

From the Toronto Star Take case to world court, Kazemi's son says.

MONTREAL—The son of slain photojournalist Zahra Kazemi wants the Canadian government to take the case to the International Criminal Court.

In a letter sent Friday, Stephan Hachemi and lawyer Marlys Edwardh asked Ottawa to charge Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's chief prosecutor, under the Criminal Code with engaging in "terrorist activity" outside Canada in relation to a Canadian citizen.

"It would seem clear that his conduct was in whole or in part for political, religious, or ideological purposes, etc. to intimidate a segment of the public with regard its security," the letter states.

Hachemi and Edwardh also asked the government to consider imposing trade sanctions against Iran and to use the court to ensure Kazemi's body is brought back to Canada.

Hachemi dismissed reports that five security agents were arrested in Iran this weekend. He called the arrests a "diversion" to throw the Canadian government off track.

"The Iranians have done that in similar cases; they arrest a few implicated agents so they can cover Mortazavi and cover high-ranking officers," Hachemi said yesterday. The International Criminal Court has the power to bring his mother's body back to Canada, he added.

Good for him. Keeping the pressure on both the Canadian and Iranian governments is essential.

(via Neale News because you know I don't read the Toronto Star!)

Israel frees militants in 'gesture of goodwill' 

From the Daily Telegraph (UK) Israel frees militants in 'gesture of goodwill'.

Israel yesterday authorised the release of more than 100 Palestinian militants from its prisons in a "goodwill gesture" designed to boost the "road map" to peace.

The decision to free members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas was passed in the cabinet by 14 votes to nine. It reversed an earlier resolution barring release of prisoners from groups behind the suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis in the past 33 months.

What the hell is a Palestinian "militant" or "activist"? Is it someone who carries a picket sign or participates in a sit-in at a government building? Or maybe someone who circulates a petition?

No, really, I want to know. Are the words "militant" and "activist" to be interpreted as meaning the same thing when we apply them to Canadians and Americans, or are they cowardly media-speak for those who recruit, plan or carry out terrorist actions?

I want to know if the road map is truly being served by releasing these "militants" or if I need to cross my fingers and hope I don't hear of new homicide-bomb attacks on buses or in cafes in Israel.

Burglar shot by Martin to drop £15,000 claim 

From the Daily Telegraph (UK) Burglar shot by Martin to drop £15,000 claim.

The burglar wounded when Tony Martin killed his teenage accomplice is to drop his £15,000 claim for damages, his brother said yesterday.

The civil action cited "loss of income" as the basis for the suit.

The civil action by Brendon Fearon - with the assistance of legal aid - caused outrage among Martin's supporters. (Emphasis added)

Fearon, 33, a career criminal with more than 30 convictions, was released from prison on Friday after serving a third of an 18-month sentence for supplying drugs.

Martin, 58, will be freed today after serving two thirds of his five-year sentence for the manslaughter of 16-year-old Fred Barras. He opened fire with a shotgun during a burglary at his ramshackle farmhouse on the Norfolk-Cambridgeshire border.

Fearon's brother Joe, speaking at the family home in Newark, Notts, said yesterday that the civil action would be dropped in the next few days because of the distress it was causing Fearon's parents.

Malcolm Starr, Martin's most prominent supporter, said: "This action should never have been brought, let alone funded out of legal aid. (Emphasis added)
[...]

(Paul has the story here of the death threats that have accompanied Tony Martin's release Life in the U.K..)

Does anyone doubt this lawsuit could happen in Canada or the US?

DEPRESSING UPDATE: The lawsuit was evidently not dropped after all. Sigh. Well, I can still hope a sensible judge tosses it out of court.

That should be "carefully hung flypaper" 

For a second time from the National Post (sans computer crash) Iraq looms as terrorist magnet: U.S.:

Iraq has become a "terrorist magnet" for guerrilla fighters wanting to attack U.S. troops, a senior American general said yesterday following the fifth death of a soldier in 24 hours.

"We've got terrorist activity, we've got former regime leadership, we have criminals and we have some hired assassins that are attacking our soldiers on a daily basis," said Army Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq.

"This is what I would call a terrorist magnet, where America, being present here in Iraq, creates a target of opportunity, if you will."

First, to give credit where credit is due. David Warren articulated this as a strategy July 5 in his essay Flypaper:

The U.S. occupation of Iraq has done more to destabilize Iran than the ayatollahs could hope to do in Iraq; and then something. This "something" has befuddled the various "experts" on regional security, trapped within their Pavlovian assumptions. They notice that the U.S. forces in Iraq have become a new magnet for regional terrorist activity. They assume this demonstrates the foolishness of President Bush's decision to invade. (Emphasis added)

And, only last February, Osama bin Laden released a tape which declared his partnership with Iraq and urged resistance to US forces and occupation by the faithful.

A senior Bush administration official who listened to the tape said that, if authentic, "At best it is a terrorist making common cause with a brutal dictator and at worst it demonstrates a burgeoning alliance of terror."

Read "Flypaper" by David Warren again, and ask yourself: If self-styled jihadists and terrorists weren't in Iraq, where would they be now and what would they be doing?

Never doubt the sincerity of people like me who voice their gratitude and respect for the brave men and women in Iraq. They are protecting all of us from terrorist attacks by "bringing it on" themselves and being the targets as well as the hunters.

God bless them and keep them.

More headaches for Foreign Affairs office 

From the National Post Canadian held in Lebanon:

A Canadian citizen has been detained for the past three weeks in a Beirut prison in Lebanon without any formal charges, CanWest News Service has learned.

Bruce Balfour, a 52-year-old Calgarian, was stopped on his arrival at the Beirut airport on July 10 and brought to the Rumy prison, where family and friends say he is being held without formal charges.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said a staff member from the Canadian Embassy in Lebanon visited Mr. Balfour in prison on July 24 and a diplomatic note has been sent to the Lebanese government requesting further information about his detention.

Marie-Christiane Lilkoff said the Canadian government is trying to find out the reasons for Mr. Balfour's detention. She did not know whether there had been any delay by the Lebanese government in informing the Canadian Embassy of Mr. Balfour's detention, as is normally done in these cases.
[...]
Mr. Balfour's sister, Laura Mackenzie, said the Canadian consulate in Beirut was not made aware of Mr. Balfour's detention until 10 days after the fact when "an informant" in Lebanon contacted friends in Canada about his situation.

In a letter written July 22 to the Canadian ambassador in Lebanon, Mr. Balfour says he was arrested at the airport because Lebanese computerized records indicated he had once visited Israel.

You should read the article in its entirety because there are differing opinions as to how effective the Canadian government has been in this case before jumping to any conclusions, but it is very troubling that we don't know on what charges or suspicions he is being held.

7/27/2003

Even More Steyn 

First, I guess I should mention that Idi Amin came out of his coma. It is regrettable, in retrospect, that his comatose body wasn't sent to Uganda after all because he'd now be under arrest and facing Ugandan justice.

Mark Steyn in The Sunday Telegraph (UK) has a non-obituary in He will not be missed and, with vintage Steynness, finds the absurdities and takes a free shot at the Saudis:

A convert to Islam, he escaped to Saudi Arabia, where he's been on "pilgrimage" ever since, living on a stipend from the royal family. At least in this instance, unlike their more recent subventions, the House of Saud began giving money to a mass murderer after he'd stopped killing.


News Junkie Canada Is Back 

After a brief (and sporadic!) vacation, News Junkie Canada is back and posting with the same uncompromising sanity I look forward to each day.

Today's post include Multicult 101, a sharp inditement of the Federal government's refusal to give local and provincial police the information they would need to track down 59 war criminals loose in Canada. (These 59 are not leftover Nazis but recent would-be refugees who failed to appear for deportation as ordered.)

Refugee status is that which is granted to people who are fleeing such creeps. It perverts the whole notion of refugee status that the violators of human rights are not put on the first plane back to stand justice in their own countries.

Those who protect and serve 

A sobering piece of news from The Canadian Cops that serves to remind us that those who patrol our streets and answer our calls for help are in constant danger and are entlitled to strong community support.

THE BRANTFORD POLICE OFFICER WHO WAS INJURED WHILE ATTEMPTING TO AFFECT AN ARREST ON THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2003 REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT OF THE HAMILTON GENERAL HOSPITAL FOLLOWING SEVERAL HOURS OF SURGERY ON THURSDAY.

As the Canadian points out,

This release does not tell us nearly enough about what happened and it is interesting to note that while the media across this country is screaming about same sex marriage and legalization of pot a young policeman fights for his life and faces a fate worse than death (total paralysis) for simply trying to do what people pay him to do. Not a damned word anywhere has been mentioned about his situation that I can find but I would be willing to bet that there will be plenty of words wasted on the jerk that caused this to happen.

Who can argue with that?

The post also gives information about where we can call to give our support by helping this young officer's family during this horrible time.

READ THE POST, MAKE THE PHONE CALL AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT! When there's trouble, do you call the Toronto Star or 9-1-1? It's a no-freakin'-brainer.

Chirac denies nuclear tests harmed workers 

From CNN Chirac denies nuclear tests harmed workers

PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) -- French President Jacques Chirac, making his first visit to Polynesia since ordering a final round of nuclear tests in the South Pacific in 1995, on Saturday defended the decades of testing that some islanders claimed gave them cancer.

Chirac, making a five-day visit to the French territory of Tahiti, said the atomic tests that generated international outrage helped establish France as a world power.

"Without Polynesia, France would not be the great power that it is, capable of expressing in the concert of nations an autonomous, independent and respected position," he said.

And that's a good thing because ...

[...]

France detonated at least 123 nuclear weapons in the volcanic rock beneath Mururoa Atoll, about 750 miles southeast of Tahiti, between 1975 and 1996. The French exploded another eight under nearby Fangataufa Atoll. (Emphasis added)

Chirac broke a three-year international moratorium on nuclear testing shortly after coming to power in 1995, sparking a global uproar. The testing was stopped a year later.

But workers vowed to stage demonstrations during Chirac's four-day visit to the Pacific region to force the government to "recognize the health consequences of the military nuclear tests."

Sheesh, the poor guy left France to get away from demonstrating workers. He just can't get a break.

He also declared that French agents who, in 1985, blew up the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" in Auckland, Australia, helped establish France as a unilateral world power.

Okay, I made that last bit up. I defend the second-to-the-last bit because I'm entitled to snarky speculation.

Should have gotten a heroes' welcome 

From the French Libertarian In Quebec Sending them back is inexcusable is justifiably critical in the incomprehensible decision by the US to return to Cuba the innovative people who turned an old Chevy into a boat.

What's happened to the USA? People with that kind of imagination should have received a heroes' welcome, for heavens sake.

New Drinking Game 

From Daimnation The Abu Mazen Drinking Game.

Maybe it should be played in the evening. This one would definitely be more intoxicating than the Star Trek Voyager drinking game (which I had to give up for, er, health reasons.)

A primer on the Tony Martin case in the UK 

Go here for a look at Paul J.'s look at Life in the UK.

Why should Canadians (and Americans) care? Because the Tony Martin case is one of relentless logic as to where we are headed given the goofy way our courts handle criminals and how we too may lose our right to self-defense.

From the Toronto Sun's Lorrie Goldstein Our justice system is a continuing disgrace:

Sometimes I can't believe what I'm reading - the media criticism Toronto mayoralty candidate John Nunziata faced recently for daring to lead a previously planned community protest at the Keele Centre halfway house after it was learned Correctional Services Canada had made an eleventh-hour decision to reverse itself and move Jacobson to a prison near Gravenhurst - for now. Of all the issues that outraged the public over the Jacobson affair, does anyone really think people were angry at Nunziata - who has a long and consistent political record of fighting for tougher sentencing?

I can't believe it either. I mean, I can, but in a twisted, cynical way.

Such is our system. Such is our disgrace.

And with that, it's obviously an ideal time for me to take a vacation, which I am. See you again in early September.

Is it wrong to feel a sense of loss when your favourite columnists go on vaction? Oh well, being a semi-nice person I will wish him a terrific vacation and look forward to his return.

Mmm, AC/DC 

My friends and family are, well, weird. They think it essential I wear an American flag pin to the concert to show US unity with Toronto. They may have a point, especially given the American Friendship rally last April. It just seems like false-advertising, somehow, because I live here so of course I support Toronto.

Rollin' out the red carpet

I can see why everyone is fixated on the Stones. I saw them at the Cow Palace (or was it Keysar Stadium?) in San Fran back in the 60's. I actually made it to a Stones concert before I made it to a Beatles concert. My mother was really freaked out about it too because she had seen them on the Ed Sullivan show and was horrified by Mick Jagger, but at least it swung her over to thinking the Beatles weren't so bad after all. I had to hide my album "Her Majesty's Satanic Service". Mothers.

But I am more excited about seeing AC/DC. My kids introduced me to their music, and I love it. Maybe they were repaying me for all the Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen they heard when they were helpless infants.

5 held in Kazemi case 

This could be good news, from the Toronto Sun 5 held in Kazemi case:

TEHRAN -- Five Iranian security agents have been detained in the death of a Canadian photojournalist who died in police custody, the state-run Tehran radio reported yesterday. The officers were detained Friday after "comprehensive investigations" into Zahra Kazemi's July 10 death, the radio report said, quoting a statement released by Iran's judiciary.
[...]

But the propaganda war goes on:

Meanwhile, the Iran government summoned Canada's charge d'affaires yesterday to protest the shooting death of an Iranian teenager in a Vancouver suburb and the youth's father threatened to sue the police officer who pulled the trigger.

Maybe it's customary in Iran to use a machete to charge someone who's holding a firearm. What's that old joke about bringing a knife to a gunfight? Anyone charging at me with a machete is going to be shot. Period. We call it self-defense.

Gilles Poirier was summoned to Iran's foreign ministry to discuss the July 14 shooting of 18-year-old Keyvan Tabesh by a plainclothes officer in Port Moody, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. He did not elaborate.

UPDATE: This news may be premature. According to the CBC, Canada waits for Iran to confirm arrests in Kazemi case because they haven't received official confirmation of the arrests from the Iranian government.

Iran's state-run radio reported on the weekend that the men had been rounded up after "comprehensive investigations" into the fatal beating of Zahra Kazemi while she was in police custody. (Emphasis added)

All five had been "in close contact" with her during her detention, the report said. Their identities were not released.

Ottawa said it had not yet received confirmation of the arrests. A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Department told CBC News that if true it would be "a welcome development."

Canucks unite thanks to feds 

From the Toronto Sun's Bob MacDonald, Canucks unite thanks to feds an interesting take that the dithering and inaction of the Feds may have united Canadians at the grassroots level.

He may be onto something: it's an old saw that nature hates a vacuum, so this may be the political application of that truism.

Operation Helpem Fren 

I've focused a lot on the Australian-led multi-national operation because I think it is setting an example to other regions on how neighbours help neighbours, and because it contrasts sharply with the French-led intervention in the Congo. In the former, the troops are spreading beyond one city and trying to bring stability to the country. In the latter, the forces are staying close to one city, Bunia, but massacres continue in the rest of the Congo.

US insistence that any intervention in Liberia be conducted in concert with neighbouring countries seems, to this observer, to be taking that tack. Just going into Monrovia will be a nice, public relations, cooperating-with-the-UN or (obeying the UN?)type of operation but will it actually save lives or bring stability to the country as a whole? Ask the people in the Congo and the Solomons which type of intervention they need.

From Australia Troops spread through islands (July 27, 2003).

THE Australian-led intervention force revealed it would move beyond the Solomon Islands capital within days, as the troubled nation's police chief urged rebel leader Harold Keke to surrender.

The intervention force today took an angle grinder to 28 illegal firearms surrendered in the week leading up to the deployment of troops and soldiers to restore law and order.

More than 1,000 intervention force personnel were already on the ground in the Solomons, where supplies and equipment continue to arrive by Hercules transport planes.

Australian warship HMAS Manoora, which has finished unloading at historic Red Beach, sailed closer to Honiara today to become a backdrop for the small city.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Ben McDevitt said the intervention force could soon establish bases outside the capital.

He said the force was planning to set up a number of outposts, initially on the islands of Malaita and Guadalcanal.

Yes, that Guadalcanal.

Intervention force chief Nick Warner said that in just two days, the force had won the confidence of Solomon Islanders.

His remarks were echoed by Paul Tovua, the head of a long-established Solomons peace monitoring group, the National Peace Council.

Tovua said the intervention force's arrival on Thursday had prompted 'many more inquiries' from people wishing to surrender firearms.

"This is a clear sign of the rewards and the trust that the people of Solomon Islands have in the (intervention force)," Tovua told reporters.

Among the weapons destroyed today were six military-style rifles and a 40mm grenade launcher.

The rest of the weapons, which included a cross-bow, were home-made.

Earlier, on national radio, Police Commissioner William Morrell told rebel Harold Keke to give himself up and set free six hostages.

Keke has been operating on the remote Weathercoast of Guadalcanal, resisting calls for a truce.


Mark Steyn Speaks Some More 

From the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Steyn takes a look at the international media and dead-end strategy of the Dems Bush playing his cards right in Iraq.

He finds space to trash the CBC too:

Meanwhile, in Canada, the CBC's main national news found time to give its viewers just one ''typical'' reaction from an ordinary Iraqi to the demise of Saddam's kids. This lone representative of public opinion was outraged at the vicious cruelty meted out to two respectable upstanding mass-murdering torturing psychopath rapists. The CBC had to get its microphone pretty close in to its sole man in the street in order to hear him above all the cheers and celebratory volleys from his fellow Iraqis.

(Via On the Third Hand)

7/26/2003

Call me bloodthirsty 

I can't believe the graphic and gruesome and even colour pictures in today's Sun (UK) which accompanies the story 20 bullets in each body.

(Of course that was sarcasm! Sheesh.)

EVIL brothers Uday and Qusay Hussein were each riddled with more than 20 bullets when killed by US troops, it was revealed yesterday.

But, on a sadder note:

Peter Rudorf, 25, of Salisbury, Wilts, has died while helping to clear mines off the coast of southern Iraq. He was part of a team of civilian experts hired by the US government.

My condolences and gratitude goes out to his family. In a sane world, this would be the top news story over the puerile outrage being bleated by some over the validity of releasing photos of the Evil Brothers carcasses.

Mark Steyn speaks 

How does he keep producing these gems? and why hasn't a Canadian newspaper contracted to publish him?

OK, Steyn doesn't answer those questions but he does take on scare quotes, Andrew Gilligan, Howard Pinter and Robert Fiske as well as Euro-skeptics and German polls in his column in the Daily Telegraph (UK) BBC World News - now with all content guaranteed sexed down.

(NB: hitting the refresh button helps get rid of the pop-up ad.)

Good evening. Reports that the former Italian leader Benito Mussolini is "dead" and "hanging" "upside down" at a petrol station were received with scepticism in Rome today. Our "reporter" - whoops, scrub the inverted commas round "reporter", the scare-quotes key on the typewriter's jammed again. Anyway our reporter Andrew "Gilligan" is "on" the scene "in" Milan. Andrew...

The Canadian 

News Junkie Canada has a satirical (I think, but maybe not?) piece at The Canadian webiste called Review: Marijuana for Dummies.

I laughed all the way through it because true or no, it does represent the epitome of how the Feds deal with everything, i.e., they take the simplest thing and elevate it to the absurdest degree.

Of particular concern is this item:

You don't get their weed--delightfully packaged in black shroud-cloth material with an embossed death's head--until you make 60% on knowledge of the manual.

Could that be for real? I wonder if our friendly neighbourhood dealer will soon be required by law to distribute this manual with every sale (not that I, well, you know, I ... I mean, oh never mind.)

3 soldiers killed while guarding children's hospital 

From CNN: Three killed in grenade attack

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers guarding a hospital northeast of Baghdad were killed in a grenade attack Saturday, U.S. Central Command said.

The soldiers, from the 4th Infantry Division, were guarding the Ba'qubah Children's Hospital. (Emphasis added)

I don't usually blog about US casualties in Iraq because other bloggers do it (and do it well) and because it stirs a personal pain that is hard to convey. These brave souls are dying to protect not only us but our children's futures, and words of respect and gratitude seem empty next to the feelings and tears that spring from their familys' sacrifices.

But, as NY Times guest columnist Paul Bremer pointed out last week in The Road Ahead In Iraq -- and How to Navigate It (unfortunately only available for purchase from the NY Times archives but I blogged and quoted from it here), many of these attacks target successes in Iraq.

The US was villainized internationally for being responsible for the deaths of thousands of infants due to the sanctions against Iraq. Of course, revelations about the true nature of the Oil-for-Food program revealed that Saddam used the money from oil exports not for food and medicine but for palaces and to enrich his own coffers, and the UN signed off on all his purchases.

But the stain on US honour remains because attitudes rarely change when facts come out. (It would be useful if the UN or French government investigated those companies that violated the sanctions but that is not going to happen.)

So US troops are in Iraq guarding a Children's Hospital and they are attacked. Does it escape the media's notice that this attack has a supplementary goal of keeping Iraqi parents from taking their children to this hospital due to their legitimate concerns over safety?

Shouldn't every self-respecting human rights advocate be denouncing this attack?

That paragon of Western journalism, Reuters, in this article mentions but doesn't focus on the location of the attack either but on the prospect that it was retaliatory in nature:

Fourteen soldiers have been killed in the past eight days, including eight since Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were killed by U.S. forces in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday.

At least one shadowy organization has vowed revenge attacks although U.S. officials hope that in the longer term eliminating the former ruling family will undermine a campaign against their troops which they put down to Saddam loyalists.

Baquba, in the Sunni Muslim heartlands that once supported Saddam, has been the site of attacks on American forces in the past.

Explain to me again why I'm supposed to care about what Europeans think of us. Ask me rather why I am disgusted that Reuters doesn't have a problem with a grenade attack that occurs in front of a children's hospital.

Does it occur to any Europeans to wonder why many Americans are starting to have so much contempt for them? Actually, I think maybe some of them do, and I think that each mass grave uncovered in Iraq may bring back memories many of them wanted to suppress and now can't.

I don't say that as a cheap shot at Europeans, in fact far from it. I say that as a reminder that Europeans of all people should be the ones determined to stand up and denounce the forces that allowed the brutality of the Saddam regime go unchecked. They might find they restore their self-respect far more quickly by doing that than by denouncing the USA for ending Saddam's reign.

Just my opinion, of course.

Canada Blinks 

From CTV.ca: Graham promises to investigate death of Iranian

This is beyond outrageous and every city and province should condemn it:

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham rejects Iran's comparison of the death of an Iranian teenager in Vancouver (actually, Port Moody) to the killing of a Montreal photojournalist in Tehran, but said he is willing to hold an investigation into the death. (Emphasis added)

This is so wrong. The Vancouver police are perfectly capable of holding their own inquiry, and "Screeching" Bill Graham (TM Paul) presumes to not only butt in but to implement measures in the inquiry:

Establishing a homicide investigation
Putting the officer involved on leave
Results of investigation will be reported to Crown attorney to see if charges should be laid
Holding a public coroner's inquest into the circumstances of the death
The opportunity for Iranian officials to be present during the investigation
The body of the victim has been returned to Iran


I need a drink. No, really. Words of anger and outrage are choking me but I can't get them out and, after all, how does one sputter indignantly from a keyboard?

I wanted to be wrong when I wrote last Thursday in Counter Punch from Iran that Canada would meekly agree to an investigation.

Anytime a police officer is forced to shoot and kill someone there is automatically a local inquiry held, right? Such inquiries do not, however, fall under the auspices of the Federal government but under the local governments where the use of force occured.

I'm repeating myself because it is an important point; the Vancouver police will doubtless go along because of the international implications, but would it have hurt the Feds to tell Iran that they can attend the inquiry that the Vancouver police will hold? Would it have hurt the Feds to affirm the integrity of Vancouver? Are they really so stupid that they don't recognize that they have just maligned Vancouver?

Canada has just slapped Vancouver in the face by giving the impression internationally that the Feds have to get involved to ensure justice. Arrogant, say-anything-to-appease-at-all-costs idiots.

How do you say "Sell-out" in Canada?

Now for that drink before I get really angry.

Headline and link via Neale News

7/25/2003

Naked Arab Hypocrisy on Display 

I thought I was finished for the day, but this must be seen to be believed: lgf: Naked Arab Hypocrisy on Display.

This post links to a Reuters report "Arabs Shocked by TV Images of Saddam's Sons".

(via Daimnation!)

What don't they understand about "Machete"? 

Iran calls Canadian account of Iranian's death "incomprehensible".

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's foreign minister dismissed Canada's account of the killing of an Iranian near Vancouver as "incomprehensible," in an escalation of the row between Ottawa and Tehran over the death of an Iranian-Canadian journalist after her arrest here last month.

Kamal Kharazi called for Canada to provide a "convincing explanation" of how the man died and the prosecution of those responsible for what he called the "murder."

"For the Canadian foreign ministry to draw a parallel between the death of Ms. Kazemi and the murder of Keyvan Tabesh is incomprehensible to us," Kamal Kharazi was quoted as saying on state-run television.

It was Iran that linked the two deaths, not Canada. But this is a propaganda war, right? And it will be difficult for Canada to argue its case with the Iranian people as long as Cuba is jamming the television signals from the Free Iran people in the USA.

Nevertheless, it is important for Canada to stay on track with this and keep pushing. So long as the eyes of the world remain in Iran, the journalists and dissidents now in Iranian jails could be safer than if they were just forgotten.

[...]

The controversy continued to simmer Friday with a leading Muslim cleric trying to minimise the political fall-out from the affair.

Mohammad Imami-Kashani, standing in for the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni at Friday prayers, said: "A journalist has a problem, this is the sort of thing that happens, but then when the foreign media hear about it, they start going on about human rights.

"Our government has said it is going to hold an inquiry and, quite simply, it will do so, but you are looking for a conspiracy everywhere."

Nobody is looking for a conspiracy. The situation is about as clear as it can get, and it is the duty of free people everywhere to keep up the pressure on Iran.

(Via Neale News)

Dealing with the busybodies 

Smug Canadian has a link which refutes the half-baked theories on global warming It's a bad year for Lefties and this observtion:

It seems to me that increasingly the greatest hazard to democracy and capitalism is created by its own generation of wealth - and I don't mean "that's why they hate us". At no other time in history has the human race been able to afford institutions that support busybodies by the thousands.

Saudis dodge the blame again 

French Libertarian in Quebec has this Congress releases 9/11 whitewash report by Robert Lederman which is a call for different action in the War on Terrorism.

I see he mentions the Afghan oil pipeline without scare quotes, but I still think anyone who would try to construct a pipeline though such mountainous terrain and Pakistan to the sea would need a quick review of the difficult task of protecting existing oil pipelines in Iraq and Columbia from saboteurs.

Furthermore, the 24-hour a day campaign must be taking place in a country other than the US because the media are definitely not supporting Pres. Bush.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories around why the US hasn't targeted the Saudis yet, including the Cheney-Haliburton one, but I think there are a few other things going on.

First, until the export of oil from Iraq is stable, it would plunge the world into economic chaos if the Saudis were targeted.

Second, the Saudis may seem to speak with one voice, but that is far from the reality. I don't think the Saudis themselves have the faintest idea on how to deal with their self-imposed problems but I like the thought that they are arguing with each other. There is a lot of bitter rivalry in that ruling family, and if events are exacerbting those divisions that is to the good.

Does anyone else remember former NYC Mayor Guiliani refusing a sizeable gift from a Saudi prince? I think (without evidence) that he refused after consultations with the White House.

I say we should use the Saudis for whatever intelligence information we can get out of them until we're good and ready to confront them.

I'm looking at the War on Terror in military terms, and that means a different set of strategy and tactics than the State Dept. is competent to handle.

My son always complains that Americans communicate by what we don't say as much as by what we do say. The fact that everyone knows that the blacked-out portions of the report referred to the Saudis tells me a lot, but it's strictly conjecture and possibly from another planet.

Sad state of Canada 

The Canadian has several good posts up today about the state of Canada especially this item "Why Canada has no foreign policy" which is especially good timing considering how ineffective our Foreign Affairs office has been in dealing with Iran over the beating death of Kazemi.

I envy him -- he can log onto the National Post repeatedly without his computer crashing.

Iran Watch 

From the The Globe and Mail.

Nothing new is in this report except Iran has appointed yet another (does this make 3?) person to oversee the investigation into the death of Kazemi:

Tehran — A veteran judge has been appointed to launch an independent inquiry into the controversial death of a Canadian photojournalist who died in police custody, an official at the Tehran Prosecutor Office said Friday.
[...]

And Iran seems to be winning the propaganda war:

In a separate development Friday, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi demanded a thorough investigation into the July 14 shooting death of an Iranian by police in Port Moody, B.C.

Of course he doesn't know that such an investigation is routine in all such deaths.

Keyvan Tabesh, 18, of Burnaby, B.C., was waving a machete and running toward a plainclothes police officer when the officer killed him. Mr. Tabesh was an Iranian citizen with landed immigrant status who had lived in Canada for about two years.

"The Canadian government has failed in its diplomatic responsibility to report this case to the Islamic Republic of Iran quickly," Mr. Kharrazi said in remarks carried by state-run Tehran TV.

I didn't know it was up to Canada to report the deaths of landed immigrants to their former countries. I must tell my family in case anything happens to me to ensure that the Canadian government complies with this.

A Foreign Affairs spokesman in Ottawa said Iran could send observers to Canada to oversee the police investigation into Mr. Tabesh's death. (Emphasis added)

I don't see any mention that Canadian observers will attend the hearings in Iran for Kazemi. Will they request it?

Operation Helpem Fren 

Even The Globe and Mail is paying attention to the Australian-led mission Order returning to Solomons.

Honiara, Solomon Islands — Order is already returning to the Solomon Islands, a day after an international peacekeeping force arrived in the South Pacific archipelago, Australian officials said Friday.

Heavily armed warlords have terrorized the nearly bankrupt government, which pleaded with its Pacific neighbors earlier this month to help reinforce its weakened grip on power.

Australia agreed to lead a force made up of 2,000 troops and 300 police with contributions from New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

The multinational forces, which arrived Thursday, has had joint patrols with local police and began protecting Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza.

"From the moment we arrived things really did change," said Nick Warner, an Australian diplomat who is in charge of the operation.

France had volunteered to join the force but were told by Aus. PM Howard that he felt it would be better for the neighbouring countries to help restore order in the Solomons.

Into a different fire 

It looks as though the USA is getting ready to insert troops in Liberia Bush OKs sending force to Liberia coast - Jul. 25, 2003 which will mainly support trooops from neighbouring countries.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush has ordered positioning of "appropriate military capabilities" off the coast of Liberia to support a West African peacekeeping force that will be deployed to the region, the White House announced Friday.

It was not immediately clear how large a force would be sent.

"The U.S. role will be limited in time and scope as multinational forces under the United Nations assume the responsibility for peacekeeping and as the United Nations arranges a political transition in Liberia," the White House said in a written statement.

The immediate task of the West African peacekeeping force, being put together by the Economic Community of West African States, is "to reinforce a cease-fire and begin to create conditions where humanitarian assistance can be provided to the Liberian people," the statement said. "As the United States has said before, Charles Taylor [president of Liberia] must leave."

Taken together with the Australian-led intervention in the Solomon Islands, I hope a new wind is blowing which asks neighbouring countries to be, well, neighbourly.

In the meantime, in the Congo: Congo swears in rebel ministers:

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Reuters) -- A new coalition government meant to end Congo's civil war took a step forward Thursday when it finished swearing in rebel ministers after resolving a dispute over the oath they had to take.

Ministers from the country's two biggest rebel groups signed a written oath after boycotting a previous swearing-in session attended by other members of the new government last Friday.

The government was officially inaugurated on July 17 to share power between the government, rebels, political parties and civic groups and guide the former Zaire to its first elections since independence from Belgium in 1960.

But the administration hit its first snag a day later, when rebels from the large RCD-Goma and MLC rebel groups refused to take an oath that they said pledged loyalty to President Joseph Kabila, a man they have fought for years.

General: U.S. captures Saddam bodyguards 

From The Sun (UK) Saddam bodyguards held:

US FORCES in Iraq have captured several of toppled tyrant Saddam Hussein's personal bodyguards.

The men were seized during raids in the south of Tikrit following a tip-off from an informant yesterday.

Up to ten of the 13 people arrested in the swoop are believed to have been part of the former Iraqi President's top security team.
[...]

The CNN confirms this report CNN.com - General: U.S. captures Saddam bodyguards - Jul. 25, 2003

MPs postpone publication of Gilligan's evidence 

From the Daily Telegraph (UK) MPs postpone publication of Gilligan's evidence.

The Commons foreign affairs select committee last night postponed plans to publish secret evidence from the BBC journalist at the centre of the David Kelly affair after a confidential appeal from the corporation's chairman. (Emphasis added)

Sure glad the BBC has nothing to hide.

Donald Anderson, the Labour chairman of the committee, said it had "reluctantly" decided to withhold the transcript of Andrew Gilligan's appearance, which was supposed to be released this week.

The decision, based on what he said was a "private communication" from Gavyn Davies that "has to remain confidential", fuelled speculation circulating at Westminster that the BBC is concerned about Gilligan's state of mind. (Emphasis added)

And playing the sympathy card! Based on deep guilt, no doubt. It's not that his career, not to mention the BBC's reputation, is in tatters because he did exactly what he accused the Blair government of doing: sexing up his report.

These guys are shameless.

Interview with Oday's Bodyguard 

From Australia: How Saddam beat US in Baghdad (July 26, 2003) (please note date and remember that pesky International Date Line):

A bodyguard of Uday has broken a three-month silence and consented to be interviewed:

The cousin was the friend of an Iraqi friend who felt sure that, with Uday dead, the bodyguard could be convinced to talk about his years with Hussein's fast-living scion. And Iraqi customs make it hard to refuse someone who comes as a guest with your relative.

During a three-hour interview in a house in a town an hour northwest of Baghdad – an interview given on condition that neither the town nor the 28-year-old's name be revealed – the bodyguard said Hussein and his sons had remained in the capital throughout the war, convinced they could hold the city.

When the first bombs fell on a house in a southern suburb, where the Americans believed Hussein and his sons were meeting, he and Uday were on the other side of the city in one of dozens of safe houses belonging to trusted friends and relatives through which the three men were to pass in the weeks to come.

The bodyguard said the Americans' next "decapitation" strike came a lot closer, and that Hussein survived only because several safe houses had come under attack and he suspected there was an informant in his camp.

Hussein asked the suspect, a captain, to prepare a safe house behind a restaurant in the Mansour district for a meeting. They arrived and left again, almost immediately, by the back door. "Ten minutes after they went out of the door, it was bombed," the bodyguard said.

Hussein had the captain summarily executed, while the Pentagon was claiming that the strike had probably finished off Uday and his father.

When Baghdad fell on April 9, the three men were in separate houses in Adhamiya, a Sunni neighbourhood full of loyalists, where Hussein did a televised walkabout two days before.

Hussein is either in Syria or Russia, and probably the former. Will he break his silence to acknowledge his sons' and grandson's deaths?

ABC, BBC, CBC ...  

The BBC is finally coming under closer scrutiny as MPs become aware (gasp!) that these state-funded agencies seem to report the news slanted with their own politcal agendas. Australia's ABC also has some accounting to do although Labor (who else) is trying to defend it: Obsession on ABC review: Labor (July 25, 2003).

[Please note: that's how they spell labour!]

THE Federal Government was today labelled obsessive over its plans to set up a new panel to review complaints against the ABC.

The Government is considering setting up an independent panel after the national broadcaster's own review rejected allegations of bias and anti-Americanism in the ABC's coverage of the Iraq war. (Emphasis added)
[...]

Gee, why would anyone feel less than confident in an in-house review?

Communications Minister Richard Alston said a new review process would instill public confidence in the ABC.

Opposition communications spokesman Lindsay Tanner called for Senator Alston's resignation, saying his relentless war against the ABC was reaching embarrassing proportions.

"His obsession with the ABC is distracting the Government from the huge challenges in his communications portfolio which go to our nation's very future as an information economy," Mr Tanner said.
[...]

I suspect it is that very future which is at stake, i.e., that the ABC must begin to serve as an information vehicle instead of an active proponent of the nanny state.

Here's a link to a recent entry in Tim Blair's excellent blog Get In Touch With Your Feelings for a current example of why I contend that the Australian Broadcasting Corp. is no different than our very own CBC.

UPDATE: Australian columnist Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun weighs in on the ABC's High price of bias.

Is anyone at the CBC paying attention to the ongoing taxpayers' revolt against the BBC and ABC? Probably not, as the Liberal Party seems firmly in control of Canada right now, but it never hurts to look toward the future.

More than meets the eye 

The events leading up to the shooting at New York City Hall is getting odder as more information is released: Dead man told tale as an anonymous source reveals what Askew told the FBI when he telephoned them earlier that day:

NEW YORK -- Hours before he gunned down Councillor James Davis, Othniel Askew told the FBI that Davis offered him $45,000US to give up a primary election challenge and threatened to hurt his family if he did not, a law enforcement source said yesterday. Askew also claimed Davis, 41, offered him an additional $15,000 a year and a no-show staff job, the source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

First: beware of anonymous sources. Adopt "grain of salt" rule.

Furthermore, [...] Davis, a former police officer, was carrying a holstered gun Wednesday, but did not draw the weapon. (Emphasis added)

Second: beware of hypocrisy from liberals. Coun. Davis was a strong gun control advocate and had even persuaded his local Toys R Us store not to sell toy guns.

How many guns are allowed into City Hall? Have these people already forgotten the San Fransisco killing of Mayor George Moscone and Coun. Harvey Milk by Dan White (infamous for the "Twinkie", i.e., diminished capacity, defense)?

The capacity for stupidity by my fellow citizens is of unceasing wonder.

Reuters, the Smothered Brothers (TM Jon Stewart) and Instapundit 

Count on Reuters to express subtle and not-so subtle doubts about the identity of those killed in Mosul Reuters Sees Baghdad Bodies, Faces 'Rebuilt'.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Officials from the U.S.-led administration in Iraq showed journalists two corpses on Friday that Washington says it is sure are the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons.

U.S. officials said morticians had touched up the faces of Qusay and Uday to repair damage sustained in a gunbattle with U.S. troops on Tuesday in which they were killed.


"I've been shown the bodies and they do appear to be those of Uday and Qusay," Reuters correspondent Andrew Marshall said from an air-conditioned, tented U.S. military morgue at Baghdad's international airport.

A U.S. military official said they had undergone some post-mortem facial reconstruction -- standard practice they said, not an attempt to deceive the Iraqi people. There was no sign that either of them had committed suicide, they added.

The faces appeared to be in better condition than in photographs issued on Thursday by the U.S. military. Those had been taken in the aftermath of the battle on Tuesday in Mosul in which U.S. troops said they killed the brothers.

It was reported on Wednesday that they might clean up the bodies.

"The two bodies have undergone facial reconstruction with morticians putty to make them resemble as closely as possible the faces of the brothers when they were alive," a U.S. military official said.

Qusay's uncharacteristic beard, visible in the original American photographs, had been shaved off but a mustache, which he normally wore, had been left.

A gaping wound in Uday's face, also visible in the earlier pictures, appeared to have been repaired but a hole in the top of his head was still visible to reporters.

U.S. officials say they are certain their troops killed the hated brothers in rocket strikes on a villa in the northern city of Mosul. It is keen to convince Iraqis they no longer have any reason to fear the former ruling family but many say they remain unconvinced by photographs.

It seemed that little short of putting the bodies on public display in Baghdad will convince some Iraqis. Decades of fear and lies under Saddam and deep suspicion of American motives in occupying their country made them a tough audience.

Be sure to get that editorializing in! And who is more suspicious than Reuters about American motives (I said more, not just as)?

Nevertheless, the fact that the bodies are sufficiently recognizable should convince anyone who questions the length of the gunbattle that the primary aim was to either capture them alive or have the remains be in good enough shape so as to be recognizably the Smothered Brothers (TM Jon Steward).

Power cuts and broadcasting difficulties permitting, Iraqis had a chance to see photographs of brothers Uday and Qusay's bloodied heads on satellite television on Thursday.

Ooh, another shot at the US! How about taking a shot at the saboteurs that keep bringing the power lines down? And I mean that literally.

These pictures were taken by the U.S. military, however, so Friday was the first time independent journalists had seen the bodies. U.S. commanders have said four former aides, including Saddam's influential former presidential secretary, had identified the bodies. They also had perfect or near perfect matches on dental records and surgical X-rays.

Members of Iraq's interim Governing Council, a fledgling self-rule body appointed by the occupying authorities and comprising respected community leaders, were also shown the bodies on Thursday.

Iraqi newspapers were not available in Baghdad on Friday morning as local people attended weekly prayers at mosques. But editors said they would publish the photographs on Saturday.

One of the American pictures appeared to show the bearded, shaven-headed Uday, a feared and hated rapist and torturer, with a gaping wound obliterating part of his nose and upper lip. Another seemed to show Qusay, Saddam's heir apparent, also uncharacteristically bearded, his mouth hanging open and with blood trickles congealed inside an ear. (Emphasis added)

Military officers said Uday appeared to have been killed by a bullet in the head, but it was not yet known whether he had been shot by U.S. soldiers or had committed suicide.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he ordered the release of the pictures -- despite questions about its morality and accusations of hypocrisy -- to help convince frightened Iraqis that Saddam's reign was truly over. (Emphasis added)

What did I tell you Wednesday? I watched the DoD briefing with Secy. Rumsfeld yesterday, and sure enough the press questioned him about the morality of showing the "gruesome" pictures because, you know, young children routinely log onto CNN and might see those pictures, and hypocrisy because the USA doesn't show pictures of dead people and protested when al Jazeera showed our dead and PoWs during Gulf War II. [NB: I also learned during that briefing that the Pentagon has its own dictionary. Really!] Secy. Rumsefeld confirmed that they made the decision after much thought (heh) and that he made the ultimate decision.

Many Iraqis, no matter how deeply they loathe Saddam and his family, find it hard to believe anything the Americans say and conspiracy theories are rife across the Arab world.

A second mention of Iraqi suspicion toward the Americans. Reuters, no matter how deeply they loathe [shouldn't that be past tense?] Saddam and his family, find it hard to believe anything the Americans say and conspiracy theories are rife in their press offices.

"We will believe they are dead when Uday's and Qusay's bodies are tied to cars and dragged through the streets so everybody can see them," said Muhammad, a Baghdad engineer.

I'm with him. I've read the Iliad you know.

Businessman Khalil Ali said photographs meant nothing.

"They should have been hung up on poles in a square in Baghdad so all Iraqis could see them," he said.

After they are dragged through the streets, of course. Funny nobody has mentioned plastic shredders yet.

Secy. Rumsfeld often reminds us that the Pentagon is a building, not a person that can be quoted, but nevertheless I'm sticking with the common usage and telling the Pentagon to turn the bodies over to the Iraqis and let them decide what to do. We can defend that decision quite easily because who did the Smothered Brothers (TM Jon Steward) hurt? The Iraqis. Who should decide the disposition of their bodies? The Iraqis. Case closed.

Instapundit reports that Rueters has been caught tampering with the truth and that CNN may still be in the business of supressing news.

First CNN, then the NY Times and the BBC, and now Reuters? These guys just don't learn.

The Canadian 

Scroll down to read "A Chill Wind Keeps Blowing From the Left" and "Update: The Wages of Defending Oneself in the UK" by The Dark Avenger at The Canadian for the bad news about some good news: Tony Martin, who's been jailed for protecting his home from burglars, is out now and in a safe house. The bad news, however, is really bad.

This story has major implications for Canada, the gun registry here and the relentless logic of where this country is heading.

7/24/2003

DoD News: Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Briefing on His Recent Trip to Iraq 

This transcript of Dep. Secy. Wolfowitz's briefing is up DoD News: Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Briefing on His Recent Trip to Iraq
(via Instapundit. Follow the link to read Andrew Sullivan's comments which are, as always, worth reading.)

Their morale is high. They're committed to the mission. And their obvious commitment to getting the job done right is having a positive effect on the people of Iraq. They understand that helping the Iraqis build a free and democratic society will help make our children and grandchildren safer.

That last seems to me to be self-evident, and when I hear or read people argue that we should pull out now I wonder if they have a firm grasp on reality (particularly given the Afghan example of the dangers posed by failed states) or if they know exactly what the stakes are and actively want that outcome.

...Fighting what has been sometimes called a guerrilla war. It's only a guerrilla war in certain similarity of tactics. But even at the tactical level, I believe this will go down as the first guerrilla tactic in history in which contract killings, killings for hire, going out and soliciting young men for $500 to take a shot at an American, was the principal tactic employed. (Emphasis added)

Something that hadn't occurred to me, and that makes it less of a patriotic resistance movement in Iraq to thugs being hired to murder.

After the briefing the press asked questions including this one:

Q Secretary Wolfowitz, could I just also ask you, what did you really mean when you said people in the Middle East will believe almost anything?

Mr. Wolfowitz: It's a -- here's what I mean. And thank you for giving me a chance to clarify. It's a comment on how we are seen as a country that can do anything, that can restore power overnight. Sometimes it's nice to have the reputation for being almost godlike, but frankly, I think it produces this phenomenon that if something isn't happening, it must be because the Americans don't want it to happen; and they begin to invent the most elaborate reasons to explain it. And the fact is -- you know it -- we often just make mistakes. We do stupid things. And then people spend years and years afterwards with elaborate explanations of not, "Gee the Americans are stupid," but, "There must be some very ingenious plot here."


It gets back to the tin foil hat brigade that somehow forgot that X-Files is fiction and that we are just fallible humans who can't predict with more than a degree of certainty what is likely to happen.

Def. Secy. Rumsfeld concisely summed up what we do and do not know: known knowables, unknown knowables, known unknowables and unknown unknowables. That pretty much sums up all of human knowledge.

Counter punch from Iran 

Iran understands how to play the game by Canadian rules: Iran accuses Canadian police of killing Iranian:

[...]
Wire services cited Iranian state radio accusations that police in Vancouver had 'attacked' three young Iranians on Tuesday, and killed one of them identified as Keyvan Tabesh.

A young Iranian émigré was, indeed, killed in Vancouver — although it occurred several weeks ago. Port Moody police say that a young man identified as Mr. Tabesh was shot dead by an out-of-uniform police officer as he ran at the officer waving a machete.

Mr. Tabesh was shot dead after his car was followed into a dead end by a police officer responding to a radio call. With no escape, Port Moody spokesman Constable Brian Soles told The Globe and Mail, two of the occupants of the car jumped out and ran at the policeman. Constable Soles said the officer fired his gun when he felt he was under attack.

Family members have apparently been told that the officer who shot Mr. Tabesh was off-duty; police have conceded that the man was not wearing his uniform and was not driving a marked police car.

"There may be an issue about whether the police officer identified himself," Constable Soles said. "He has a responsibility to do it, if he is able to."

In any case, he added, Mr. Tabesh was about to attack someone.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran suggested that there is a lack of freedom in the Canadian media, saying that controls are imposed by the Canadian government and that "the strong censorship of this story creates more ambiguities." (Emphasis added)

The spokesman called for "an explicit and transparent and satisfactory explanation" and the punishment of those responsible, a near-echo of Ottawa's demands in the Kazemi case.

I would say that the Iranian government has effectively employed four of Canada's biggest Achilles heels: the substitution of red-herrings and unsubstantiated accusations for political debate, a weak foreign affairs department, news blackouts in criminal justice proceedings and the attitude of Canadian media toward police agencies.

Even though the deaths of Zahra Kazemi and Keyvan Tabesh are linked only by the fact that both are Iranians killed by police, this accusation turns eyes back to Canada. Canada appears to be the pot calling the kettle black. A nice diversionary tactic!

Iran 1 - Canada 0

The Iranian government has just launched a propaganda war against Canada, and its up to the Foreign Affairs Dept. to mount an effective response. Since the only foreign government it routinely criticizes is the USA, do they have the tools and cajones to respond effectively or will they use Old Europe's model on how to deal with countries other than the USA? French Pres. Chirac just went on vacation but maybe he can be persuaded to lend his expertise in this matter.

Of course, Canada could try to enlist the support of American-based Iranian exiles to broadcast the facts of the Vancouver affair back into Iran, but Canada's good friend Cuba is jamming signals into Iran.

Iran 2 - Canada 0

Unlike American press (heh), information and testimony before and during trials is often blacked out to protect the privacy of the accused. This pious stance conflicts with openness in the judicial system and many Canadian journalists do feel that the suppression amounts to censorship and have stated such.

Iran 3 - Canada 0

The politically correct media and police oversight boards often take the approach that when the police use deadly force it was because they failed in some way to subdue a suspect. They don't, or can't, take into account the frame of mind of someone who is determined to avoid capture, wants to go down fighting, or is blinded by the desire to kill.

I'm betting Canada is going to meekly promise to conduct an investigation.

Iran 4 - Canada 0

From Reuters Iran Accuses Canadian Police of Killing Iranian:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran accused Canadian police on Thursday of the "criminal" killing of an Iranian, ratcheting up a diplomatic row that began with the death in Iranian custody of a Canadian journalist this month.

Iranian state media said Canadian police in Vancouver had attacked three young Iranians, killing one and injuring one of the others. It identified the dead man as Keyvan Tabesh and demanded those responsible be brought to justice.

Iran and Canada are at odds over the death in Tehran this month of Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian photojournalist of Iranian descent. Canada recalled its envoy to Tehran over the incident and said it would review its ties with Iran.


"Why have Canadian police, who should safeguard the security of the people, committed this disgraceful crime which scared Iranian citizens living in Canada?" it quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.

There was no immediate comment from Canada. (Emphasis added)

We should cut Canadian Foreign Affairs office some slack here given the difference in time zones. The Globe and Mail story was posted online at 6:03 a.m. EDT.

Iran's state media said the Vancouver incident happened on Tuesday. But Canadian media have reported that Tabesh, 18, was shot and killed by a policeman in the Port Moody suburb of Vancouver on July 14 after an apparent road-rage incident.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper in a July 18 article said Tabesh's parents, who live in Vancouver, had strongly criticized police for the shooting of their son. The newspaper said Tabesh was brandishing a machete when he was shot.
[...]
The official IRNA news agency quoted Asefi as saying Canadian media had censored the Vancouver incident. "The strong censorship of this story creates more ambiguities," it quoted him as saying.
[...]

Don Cherry Scores 

Wednesday's CNEWS - Reader Poll asked the question:

Who would have the best chance against Paul Martin in a general election.

Total Votes for this Question: 3541

37% voted for Don Cherry
26% voted for Ralph Klein
12% voted for Brian Mulroney
12% voted for Ron MacLean
6% voted for Ed Broadbent
4% voted for Ben Mulroney
2% voted for Matthew Coon Come
2% voted for Kim Campbell

7/23/2003

ScrappleFace Speaks 

ScrappleFace can always be counted on to see the absurd and the sublime. Today he has two that musn't be missed : Quagmire Index Revised to Reflect Death of Saddam Sons and
Saddam to Offer Eulogy at Sons' Funeral.

Pentagon makes the obvious decision 

After several hours of intense consultation, the Dept. of Defense finally made the right if not only possible decision Rumsfeld: Uday, Qusay photos will be released.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Photographs of the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay will be released, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

The pictures, taken after the brothers died in a firefight with U.S. troops on Tuesday, are described as "graphic."
[...]
The picture of Uday apparently shows he has a shaved head and a bushy beard. Aside from the wound, he appears relatively unscarred, Pentagon officials said.

Qusay's picture shows he has less of a beard and appears badly bruised and scarred, a Pentagon official said.

Autopsies will be performed and the bodies could be re-photographed after they have been cleaned up, a Pentagon official said. (Emphasis added)

I didn't make that last part up. File under "The ways of the Pentagon are mysterious to mortal man (and woman)."

I don't want to infringe on Frank J's territory, but In My World, Secy. Rumsfeld didn't need any consultations to know what to do but appearances had to be kept so that when the inevitable international scrutiny, second-guessing and inevitable outrage at the barbarity of displaying the bodies spews forth he and others can say that it was a difficult decision reached after long discussions and deep introspection.

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