19 -- AGAIN 

Aug. 31 -- Two Iraqis and two Saudis are among 19 men arrested by police in connection with the bombing of the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf.
Two Iraqis and two Saudis grabbed shortly after the Friday attack gave information leading to the arrest of the others, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. They include two Kuwaitis and six Palestinians with Jordanian passports with the remainder Iraqis and Saudis, the official said, without giving a breakdown.

Initial information shows the foreigners entered Iraq (news - web sites) from Kuwait, Syria and Jordan, the official said, adding that they belong to the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.

"They are all connected to al-Qaida," the official said.
Colour me not surprised.

(Via On The Third Hand.)

Wannabe Clark 

Aug. 31 -- Pursuant to this claim by Ret. Gen. Clark that the White Huse tried to get him thrown off CNN, he admits that he has no proof but heard rumours. I sense a vast. right-wing. conspiracy.

The Great Blog War 

Aug. 31 -- This is an insightful, satiric account of the Great Blog War between Monkey Boy and Darth Puppy Blender from Anger Management:

Part I
Part II
There is no Part III yet. (Big whopping hint, AG)

(Via Classical Values.)

Still waiting for de Villepin? 

Aug. 31 -- Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian woman kidnapped by Columbia guerillistas while campaigning for election as president has made a video appeal:
The video, broadcast Saturday night, was the first sign that Betancourt might still be alive since rebels released a different tape in July 2002.

There was no way of confirming when the tape was made.

"A rescue, yes, definitely, but not just any rescue," said Betancourt, who appeared in good health in the video shown by Noticias Uno. "It's important that it be the president who directly makes this decision," referring to Colombia President Alvaro Uribe.
It was on her behalf that French Foreign Min. Dominique de Villepin made a unilateral attempt to secure her freedom last July without informing either the Brazilian, Columbian and possibly even French governments of his plans. It is still a bit of a mystery what de Villepin intended to trade for her freedom, although it is suspected that money, weapons, or both were to be used.

Hmm, the Reuters links to the French caper have disappeared, but here one from Free Republic.

Another one bites the dust . . . 

Aug. 31 -- Remember the attack on the Indian Parliament in Dec., 2001? The man accused of being the mastermind and several of his terrorist associates were killed in a shootout with Indian police.

That attack nearly propelled India and Pakistan into war. Good riddance to Ghazi Baba, and sincere condolences to the familes of the slain policemen.

Jemaah Islamiyah and their Pacific Plot 

Aug. 31 -- I'm going to do a somewhat lengthy preface before I get to the meat of this post, so please just bear with me because I could easily be misunderstood in this matter and don't want to be.

Even as events were unfolding on Sept. 11, I tried to hold onto my reason against paranoid thoughts and counselled myself to breathe deeply and think. I know that both irrational fears and intense fury can turn us into lynch mobs to the point that we later reflect and ask ourselves My God, what have we done.

But, even knowing all this, I confronted a steel within myelf that day which has never left me: I am willing to kill to protect my land and my values. I know how to aim, load and fire. On Sept. 10, I would have hesitated to pull the trigger. On Sept. 12, I would have fired several times.

Never, never underestimate the intense debt we owe to the passengers and crew of Flight 93. I may die, but I'm taking you bastards with me before you can murder my people.

Yeah, I scare me. My countrymen scare me. I know us; I know that even in the most timid there is a fire that has never been quite extinguished and try as they might, the transnationalists have never succeeded in making us forget that we're here in America because we didn't want to stay there wherever there was, and we don't want to go back there. It's a simple corollary from that to why would I listen to those fools in Europe now when I already ran as fast as I could away from them?

When I've confided all that to Canadian friends, many look patronizingly comforting and think she'll get over it. Well, I haven't. I won't. Until Canada is attacked, no one here can state with absolute confidence what they'll do and think. Somehow, however, I believe that whatever the Feds say, most Canadians will revolt at being told to Pay Tribute and Move On.

Yesterday, The Canadian posted "Islam Uber Allies" which linked to this article on Front Page Magazine and I'll admit that, although I wasn't entirely dismissive, I was a bit skeptical because I wanted to be. It violates my world view, you see, because I believe that people emigrate to a new country because they wish to be remade, not because they wish to remake their new homes.

I guess it goes without saying that had I read something like this two years ago I would have rolled my eyes, muttered some liberal stuff, and clicked onward to other web sites.

Had I read this article one year and eleven months ago I would have bookmarked it for future reference but retained some skepticism and filed it under future considerations.

On the one hand we have the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Canadian Muslim Congress and their shrill, racist-baiting responses whenever anyone is detained. On the other we have Muslim residents of Dearborn Michigan who took to the streets to celebrate the fall of Baghdad, and the Muslim community in Rochester, NY, who contacted the FBI because of some odd behaviour it had noticed among those who were ultimately convicted.

I believe in the depth of my heart that many of the breakthroughs we've had in tracking down and rounding up those in terrorist cells have come from tips from the Muslim communities in North America and Europe. I can't prove it; it's just something I chose to believe.

Today I don't know what to think about things like the article in Front Page Magazine, but I do know that I can't stop trying to work this out and trying to find a new world view that accomodates both my basic confidence in my fellow humans and my willingness to defend those things which I cherish.

There is in this, as in all things, a balance, and it is finding the balance that is our biggest challenge and could be our greatest triumph.

I say all that as a preface to the following link to Australian news Pacific plot in book of terror that contains some rather frightening aspects of Jemaah Islamiya, the group accused of bombing Christian churches in 2000, the Bali bombings of Oct. 2002, and the recent bombings in Jakarta.

It's difficult to read, as was the Front Page Magazine article, because it violates some truths we've always held dear. What is striking, though, is that Australia is confronting many of the same problems as Canada in that they embrace values of inclusion and diversity yet have drawn a line in the sand against terrorism, and I suspect a lot of Australians are reading this article (or, did, given the time difference) with much the same discomfort level as I.
TERRORIST group Jemaah Islamiyah has drawn up plans for a suicide bombing campaign designed to transform Asia and the Pacific region into Islamic provinces.

The scheme is revealed in a 40-page manifesto - the Pupji book or General Guide to the Struggle of JI - which also shows that Jemaah Islamiyah is a well-formed organisation with a constitution, rules of operation, and leadership structure.

The book refers to "love of Jihad in the path of God and love of dying as a martyr" as one of the group's 10 guiding principles.

It shows that JI is not just a loose amalgamation of extremists which can be paralysed by the arrests of senior figures.

Events since the Bali bombing also demonstrate that the group has moved to embrace suicide bombings as a preferred method of achieving its aims.

Until Bali, JI had not adopted suicide bombings, despite its constitution approving them.

It has now carried out at least two, including the bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

The book was secretly used in the trials of the Bali bombers to draw out evidence about the organisation behind the murders of 202 people, including 89 Australians.

But prosecutors did not reveal that the source of their apparent insights into JI came directly from the organisation's own manifesto.

The Pupji book refers to the education and training of members in physical fitness and weapons.

Written in a combination of Bahasa Indonesian and Arabic, the book was discovered by police during a raid on a Solo home in central Java last December.

In that raid, men now known as the "Solo Group" were arrested for helping to shelter alleged JI leader and accused Bali bombing controller, Mukhlas.

Prosecutors have used contents from the book to help them question Mukhlas in his ongoing trial.

Information from the book also was used at the Jakarta trial of alleged JI spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir.

A verdict in Bashir's treason trial will be handed down tomorrow.

High-ranking JI members have told the court they have read the Pupji which is said to have been written by co-founder of JI, the late Abdullah Sungkar.

The book includes flowcharts of the JI hierarchal structure and illustrates how the organisation works. It does not include names of any members.

It reveals the group is led by an amir or supreme leader.

The amir appoints leadership councils, the advisory council, edict council and legal council. Under them are regional groups known as Mantiqi.

All members must swear a compulsory oath of loyalty to the amir.

The Pupji says funding for JI comes from contributions, donations and acceptable sources.

While the book does not refer specifically to bombing operations or violent campaigns to kill westerners, oblique reference is made in the section on "strength development operations".

This talks about combat operations in which education and training is imperative in subjects such as physical fitness and weapons training, tactical thinking, strategic thinking, leadership and vision.
(I've copied the entire text because I know that the required Java console can be a pain for loading pages.)

The basic reason, I think, that this is hard to take seriously is because we became much too dismissive during the Cold War about allegations of communist plots and spies. It was all propaganda, you know, forgetting that the Soviet and Chinese blocs were also spinning propaganda.

Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist, and there's been too many conspiracy theories about the assassination of JFK for anyone to be certain anymore about his guilt or innocence.

Sen. Joe McCarthy had nothing to do with the House of Un-American Activities because duh, it was a House committee and he was a Senator. When Ann Coulter pointed that out, I gasped in humiliation that I'd missed so obvious a breakdown in logic.

Two things we did learn after the fall of the Soviet Union is that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty, and Alger Hiss was a communist who maintained relations with the USSR.

I was a useful idiot in the 60's and 70's.

You can look it up.


Bruce Balfour 

Aug. 30 -- The verdict has been delayed to allow lawyers to make final arguments in the case of Canadian evangelist Bruce Balfour who is in a Lebanese jail charged with collaborating with Israel. The Lebanese government had received information that Balflour had travelled between Lebanon and Israel in a way that aroused suspicions.

Court is to resume on Monday.

Mark Steyn Speaks Twice 

Aug. 30 -- Two Steyn columns, and one especially for the downtrodden Canadian and American masses (that's us!)
This Labour Day weekend, I find myself thinking about the working class, the masses.

No, honestly, I do. Okay, I’m on the beach, but the folks around me lying on the sand have jobs they'll be getting back to on Tuesday. They work. They would be classed as workers. But they're not a homogeneous "working class," they're not conscripts in Karl Marx's "masses." The transformation of Labour Day, from a celebration of workers' solidarity to a cook-out, is the perfect precis of the history of Anglo-American capitalism.
The second is classic Mark Steyn. He takes a look at the wrangling between the Blair government and the BBC and manages to get it in one sentence:
And then we move to the Hutton Inquiry for a clip of the BBC chairman launching an extraordinary attack on the Government for its extraordinary attack on the BBC for its extraordinary attack on the Government."
He has to get a little help from Abbott and Costello, though.

Pure Can Con 

Aug. 30 -- I was inspired to search through my mailbox to retrieve this gem sent by some dear friends on Cape Breton Island.



1. Weed.
2. Vancouver: 1.5 million people and two bridges.
3. The local hero is a pot-smoking snowboarder.
4. The local wine doesn't taste like malt vinegar.
5. Your $400,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown.
6. A university with a nude beach.
7. You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations.
8. If a cop pulls you over, just offer them some of your hash.
9. There's always some sort of deforestation protest going on.
10. Cannabis.


1. Big Rock between you and B.C.
2. Ottawa who?
3. Tax is 7 percent instead of approximately 200 percent for the of the country.
4. The Premier is a fat, alcoholic who is easy to make fun of.
5. Flames vs. Oilers.
6. Stamps vs. Eskies.
7. You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.
8. You live in the only province that could actually afford to be it's own country.
9. The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups.
10. You can attempt to murder your rich oil tycoon husband and get away with it.


1. You never run out of wheat.
2. Ten months of winter and 2 months of poor skating.
3. Cruise control takes on a whole new meaning.
4. Your province is really easy to draw.
5. You never have to worry about roll-back if you have a standard shift.
6. It takes you two weeks to walk to your neighbour's house.
7. YOUR Roughriders survived.
8. You can watch the dog run away from home for hours.
9. People will assume you live on a farm.
10. Buying a huge John Deere mower makes sense.


1. You wake up one morning to find you suddenly have beachfront property.
2. Amusing town names like "Flin Flon" and "Winnipeg".
3. All your local bands make it big and move to Toronto.
4. The only province to ever violently rebel against the federal government.
5. Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes.
6. Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter.
7. You don't need a car, just take the canoe to work.
8. You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.
9. Because of your licence plate, you are still friendly even when you cut someone off.
10. Pass the time watching trucks and barns float by.


1. You live in the center of the universe.
2. Your $400,000 Toronto home is actually a dump.
3. You and you alone decide who will win the federal election.
4. There's no such thing as an Ontario Separatist. Separate from what? You are the centre of the universe.
5. Your grandparents sold booze to the States during Prohibition.
6. Lots of tourists come to Toronto because they mistakenly believe it's a cool city.
7. The only province with hard-core American-style crime.
8. Much Music's Speaker's Corner - rant and rave on national TV for a dollar.
9. Baseball fans park on your front lawn and pee on the side of your house.
10. Mike Harris: basically a sober Ralph Klein.


1. Everybody assumes you're an asshole.
2. Racism is socially acceptable.
3. The only province to ever kidnap federal politicians.
4. You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbour will move out next.
5. Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada.
6. The FLQ.
7. Your hockey team is made up entirely of dirty French guys who can't skate.
8. The province with the oldest, nastiest hookers.
9. NON-smokers are the outcasts.
10. You can blame all your problems on the "Anglo bastards".


1. You are sandwiched between French assholes and drunken Celtic fiddlers.
2. One way or another, the government gets 98 percent of your income.
3. You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies.
4. When listing the provinces, everyone forgets to mention yours.
5. The economy is based on fish, cows, and ferrying Ontario motorists to Boston.
6. No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick.
7. You have French people, but they don't want to kill you.
8. Everybody has a Grandfather who runs a lighthouse.
9. Just as charming as Maine, but with more unemployed fishermen.
10. You probably live in a small seaside cottage with no television.


1. The only place in North America to get bombed in the war by a moron who set ammunitions ship on fire. (Halifax Explosion)
2. The province is shaped like the male genitalia.
3. Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can't, think they can.
4. If someone asks if you're a Newfie, you are allowed to kick their ass.
5. The local hero is an insane, fiddle playing, sexual pervert homo.
6. The province that produced Rita MacNeil, the world's largest land mammal.
7. You are the "only" reason Anne Murray makes money.
8. You can pretend you have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk and wear a kilt.
9. The economy is based on lobster and fiddle music.
10. Even though it smells like dead sea animals, Halifax is considered Canada's most beautiful city.


1. Even though more people live on Vancouver Island, you still got the big ass bridge.
2. You can walk across the province in half an hour.
3. You were probably once an extra on "Road to Avonlea".
4. This is where all those tiny red potatoes come from.
5. The economy is based on fish, potatoes, and CBC TV shows.
6. Tourists arrive, see the "Anne of Green Gables" house, then promptly leave.
7. You can drive across the province in two minutes.
8. It doesn't matter to you if Quebec separates.
9. You don't share a border with the Americans, or with anyone for that matter.
10. You can confuse ships by turning your porch lights on and off at night.


1. The poorest, drunkest province in Confederation.
2. If Quebec Separates, you will float off to sea.
3. In the rare case when someone moves to the Rock, you can make them kiss a dead cod.
4. The economy is based on fish, seafood, and fish-related products.
5. If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse.
6. You & only you understand the meaning of Great Big Sea's lyrics.
7. The workday is about two hours long.
8. You are credited with many great inventions, like the solar-powered flashlight and the screen door for submarines.
9. If someone asks if you're from Cape Breton, you are allowed to kick their ass.
10. It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders on your wedding day!

Think of the children! 

Aug. 30 -- Former Pres. Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev are set to narrate a "wolf-friendly" version of the children's classic Peter and the Wolf.

The duck (portrayed by an oboe) was unavailable for comment, presumbly because he is too securely ensconced in the wolf's tummy.

This is yet another blantant example of ignoring a victim's righteous plea for justice, unless the arrogant bastards also intend to revise the score. (Yeah, I know, don't give them any ideas.)

No wonder they hate us 

Aug. 30 -- Hate Toronto, that is. The Canadian alerted me to an open letter to the PM (which PM?) and Premier published yesterday in the abominable Toronto Star:
Over the last two years, a remarkable civic consensus has been building in Toronto. Business, labour, the voluntary sector, education, and local government have been working ... to create new ways to ensure that the Toronto region remains prosperous and competitive. The Toronto City Summit Alliance released "Enough Talk, An Action Plan for the Toronto Region," in April. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to endorse that action plan and set out a timetable for each of your government's contributions to implementing it.

"Enough Talk" is a road map for improving our city region.... The action plan sets out realistic ideas for expanding the Toronto region's affordable housing stock, re-invigorating public transit, and building community services infrastructure in our poorest neighbourhoods.
Translation: send more money to a city that screws up every money-spending project they touch, makes more unworkable plans to spend more money that . . . oh, never mind. You already know all this.

The civic workers (and teachers union) has this city by the nuts. We can't even find a place in Canada willing to take our garbage, at least that portion that isn't strewn on our streets.

Whenever I hear someone opine "If only we had someone like Rudy Guiliani" I choke because Rudy had something we ain't got: a city population behind him with the same resolve to make the hard calls and get things done.

"Enough Talk," SHUT UP. We live in a dysfunctional city because we have the most useless, weak-kneed City Council in the history of All City Councils and THEY LISTEN TO IDIOTS LIKE YOU LOT.

UPDATE (or should that be OUCH!): No less a personage than Colby Cosh has taken Toronto (in the form of Robert Fulford, National Post columnist) to task for a totally different example of its egocentricity (or could that cosmocentricity? patriacentricity?) for failing to notice the substantial bits of real estate to the West that are also Canadian.

Run, Hillary, Run (Away) 

Hillary is pondering her many options. Paul already did a fantastic job on this report and, this pretty much sums up my reactions.

Why should I let this report which states she's given it her firm no, ruin my fun? If she wants to test the waters, she'd better know what she is up against both now and in 2008.

Najaf Bombing 

Aug. 30 -- The death toll has risen to 126 from yesterday's bombing of one of Shiite Muslims' holiest shrines. At least 12 people have been detained in connection with the investigation including 2 Pakistanis which has given rise to speculation of a Possible al Qaeda link in the attack.

The UN is doing that which is does best: cut and run.
The United Nations "remains engaged" in Iraq, a U.N. humanitarian official said Saturday, despite the announcement that it will greatly reduce its international staff in the country as a security precaution after last week's truck bombing at the Baghdad U.N. office that killed 23 people.

Currently there are about 400 international U.N. staffers in Iraq -- about 110 of them in Baghdad. A U.N. spokesman in New York announced Friday that after the cuts, only about 40 to 50 essential staff members will remain in Baghdad. He called the reductions a "temporary measure."
As has been previously noted, whoever thought of hiring Saddamites to guard the UN offices displayed the kind of thinking that renders the UN a standing by-word for intransigent, bureaucratic incompetence.

In more serious news, a grenade launcher was used against Bulgarian troops in Karbala but there were no injuries.
The attack was the first against Bulgaria's nearly 500-strong stabilization force since they began patrolling the city earlier this month to help the U.S. restore order in Iraq following a war there.

On Tuesday, military control of Karbala was handed over to a Bulgarian military governor, Lt. Col. Petko Marinov. It was previously run by U.S. Marines.

As well as the 250 Bulgarian soldiers stationed in Karbala, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Marinov is in charge of Polish troops and U.S. Marines serving in Karbala.

The small Balkan country, which was supported by the U.S. in its bid to join NATO, backed the American-led war in Iraq and is now providing a total of 500 troops for Washington's post-war stabilization force.

Bulgaria's contingent will be under Polish command after the U.S. makes another transfer of control on September 3. This will put the entire south central region, including Karbala, under Polish control.
My Polish grandfather (who emigrated to the US as a teenager between the two world wars, fought in the South Pacific during WWII, and who could never decide if he hated the Russians or Germans more) would be so. damned. proud. This one's for you, Grandpa!

Toronto 20 

Aug. 30 -- A 20th 'pupil' suspected of al Qaeda connections has been arrested by Toronto police in an on-going investigation (called Project Thread) into those claiming to attend the defunct Ottawa Business College.

The investigation has produced the person who is said to have provided the students with fake documents which supported their claims to be attending the college. Read the article: this man sounds interesting (and I mean that in a positive way; he is intelligent and sees the big picture.)

Shades of the MFP Scandel inToronto? 

Aug. 30 -- I don't get Canada. No, really. We've been bogged down in Toronto over a scandal over computers that cast a lot of doubt on the integrity of civil servants, but it's the elected officials taking the heat because evidently it's a bigger crime to be fooled by civil servants than to do the fooling.

Now there's a similar scandal on the federal level forcing the Feds to reopen bidding on contract to move staff
The unusual decision comes one month after the Canadian International Trade Tribunal determined that public servants evaluating the bids for the lucrative contract drew up the criteria to favour Royal LePage Relocations.
Now I'm already thinking jail time or, at minimum, termination without a recommendation and disallowing Royal LePage from ever bidding on a government contract again but from what I read, the federal government's solution (drawn up by civil servants, no doubt) is to spend several months to draft new criteria for the project and have interested parties re-submit their bids, and if Royal LePage doesn't get the new contract, the feds will pay penalties for cancelling a rigged bid.

I don't get it. See opening sentence of previous paragraph.

I'm not throwing stones here. I am all too well aware that suspicious, smelly things that walk, talk and quack like corruption exist in the US too, but when caught there is this thing called the law that kicks in to at least give an appearance that some integrity is expected from our civil service.

CNE Air Show 

Aug. 30 -- I'm an US Air Force brat and never get tired of the sound of jets as they scream across the city during the annual Air Show at the Ex. (Noisy? You ain't heard noise until you hear the sound of B-52s as they take off and land from an air base, but I digress.)

I was disappointed yesterday when overcast conditions kept most of the planes grounded, but today it is bright and sunny (okay, so there are only patches of blue sky but there's a brisk wind and I'm an optimist!) so listen up Toronto: salute the warriors of the sky, and honour aviation history which reminds us of what a kick-ass breed those courageous, early pioneers of the strata were.

Maybe this will bring things into focus: there's a very real chance that the Snowbirds will be disbanded.
Former Snowbird Dan Dempsey said it will take new jets to save one of Canada's most cherished national symbols. He wants the federal government to lease or buy more CT-155 Hawks, used as training jets, to replace the 40-year-old CT-114 Tutor jets scheduled to be phased out in 2006.

A brand new Hawk, built by BAE Systems, costs about $20 million, but would be "significantly less" without weapons systems, which the Snowbirds don't use, Dempsey said.

The Canadian Forces now lease 28 of the Hawks for training in Moose Jaw, Sask.

He fears it could be disbanded because of costs, and future generations will miss the chance to be inspired -- just as he was watching the RAF Golden Hawks scream past him at an Ottawa air show in 1959.
Given the funding cuts the DoD is supposed to come up with, his fears could be very real.

Who says we can't fight on two fronts? 

Aug. 30 -- US special forces and the Afghan army continues to track down and eliminate the Taliban as it attempts to regroup. An assault on fortified Taliban positions began late Thursday resulting in the non-combat death of one US special forces soldier (from a fall) and several Taliban fighters. Four Afghan soldiers were injured but no fatalities were reported.

11,500 US forces are in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan. (There is more detailed information about the recent fighting at CNN.)

Canadian soldiers will get a special treat as Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham plans to travel to Kabul to meet Afghan Pres. Karzai, tour the Canadian base at Camp Julien and attend ceremonies to mark the opening of the first Canadian embassy in Afghanistan.

North Korean tired of talks 

Aug. 30 -- Whereas a lot of Toronto newspapers strive to appear intellectual (you know, murky, obfusctating and unbiased,) the Toronto Sun is cheerful, goes for a direct hit and just reports things as they are. Also, their permalinks are more permanent than the National Post.

Take this: North Korean tired of talks. (A headline like that is a sure winner and interactive; it allows millions to respond with "so are we", right?) Excerpts:
BEIJING -- North Korea no longer has "interest or expectations" in further talks on its nuclear program, a spokesman for Pyongyang's delegation to the six-country talks on the subject said today. "There is no need for this kind of talks," said the unidentified spokesman, who made the remarks at the airport to reporters as the delegation was leaving Beijing after the landmark three-day meeting.

"We no longer have interest or expectations either," he said. "We are left with no option as it became clear that the United States wants to disarm our nation."

The United States has demanded that the program be stopped immediately, but the North has refused to comply unless it receives economic aid and a non-aggression treaty from the United States.

Kim said North Korea could allow inspections of nuclear facilities, stop missile exports and tests, and finally dismantle its nuclear program -- but only if the U.S. resumes free oil shipments, provides economic and humanitarian aid, signs a non-aggression treaty and opens diplomatic ties.

In Washington, state department press officer Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said the North Korean statement "is an explicit acknowledgment that the (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has nuclear weapons but the U.S. will not respond to threats or give in to blackmail."

The head of the UN nuclear agency accused North Korea of posturing.
Maybe I've underestimated the IAEA. Despite the fact that both North Korea and Iran continued their nuclear programs right under the noses of UN inspectors, at least the North Koreans couldn't fool them when it came to bluster and bombastic talk, which just goes to prove that you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

A moment of silence for poor North Korea, okay? They came to the talks with the expectation that the US would once again agree to a treaty in which NK only had to make promises and the US quite unreasonably refuses to be fooled again. Worse still, Russia and China won't back their play.

CNN has some cautiously optimistic quotes from the Chinese and Japanese delegates:
"At the same time, the parties have all become aware of the fact that there is a need to consider and address the concerns of [North Korea] in a wide range of areas, including the security concerns," Wang said.

A Japanese foreign ministry official praised the North Korean delegation as engaged and sincere.

"We did not sense any unproductive approach on the part of the North Korean delegation over the 2 1/2 days," he said.

The official added that nothing the North Koreans revealed during the talks set off any alarm bells.

"If you are asking whether what we heard scared us enough to go back to Tokyo and hide behind a bed," he said, "no, there was no such statement."
Maybe he also thinks North Korea is bluffing?

UPDATE: The Sketptician thinks that the lack of progress with the talks was due to squabbles over a game.


Death toll rises in Najaf 

Aug. 29 -- This is truly horrendous: a hospital is saying that at least 75 people have died as a result of the massive car bombing outside the Imam Ali Mosque including the Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim. Read the report; I haven't the heart to quote from it.

There is something so repugnant about targeting people in their places of worship be they in mosques, synagogues, churches or temples. There is something especially evil and twisted about killing people while they are at worship which forces me to pause and know that shaking my head in disbelief just doesn't really cut it and words are inadequate to express the outrage and pain.

I know that targeting innocent people no matter what they are doing or where they are is evil, it's just that an extra degree of evil is added when holy sites are defiled by bloodletting. Maybe it reflects my Western values, but I doubt it. I suspect many Muslims right now are feeling that this latest bombing was an act of pure evil, but somehow I doubt the CBC will be able to locate any of them.

Could we at least take time to grieve before the games commence? No?

The blame game began as soon as the bombing was broadcast early this morning. Props to the CNN desk commentator [I'll enter his name when my brain returns to active duty; he's the other conservative-sounding one] who asked in a very sarcastic voice how this could be blamed on America; that there was a ready answer made me do something I haven't done in awhile: my jaw dropped. Then I realized that, of course, the question was set up so this correspondence could prattle off an answer. Sigh.

UPDATE: Here is the first installment of the blame game but if memory serves me weren't offers of security turned down? Of course, there is something distinctly profane about stationing troops of non-believers (using the term in its pure form) and concrete barricades around a place of worship.

Who wants the US to fail in Iraq? You know it's a long list ... 

Aug. 29 -- Victor Davis Hanson does that which I only aspire to do: weave the threads and connect the dots into a coherent account of events. Read Hoping We Fail. I'm only going to give one excerpt to get you started:
The theocrats all over the region wish us to fail as well. Modernism emanating from Iraq would undermine the strictures of the clerics, in empowering women and eroding the fossilized structures of a tribal society. After all, in the war's aftermath, Arab Idol (dubbed another "American invasion" by Islamists) — a thinly veiled spin-off of the American television show — was suddenly earning a 40-million-viewer market share, as Middle Easterners voted for pop stars in a way that they never could for their own leaders.
See what I mean? Some of us regarded Arab Idol as an amusing anecdote, but Hanson sees what lies under. Go!

(Via On The Third Hand.)

Nuke the nuke 

Aug. 29 -- I assume you already read James Lileks, but he has a beauty that shouldn't be missed on dealing with North Korea.
Why not nuke North Korea’s nuke test? They’ve said they’re going to have a test; I presume we know where that will be. So we nuke it the day before. There’s a big explosion, a mushroom cloud; they blame us. We say what are you talking about? You said you were going to light one off. And you did. No! You did it! Right. We nuked your nuke test. And that makes sense . . . how, exactly? It would certainly keep them off their game. And just after we nuke the test - and every subsequent test, of course - we put a call to Li’l Kim’s cellphone, and someone with a Texas accent says oh, I’m sorry, wrong number. I was tryin’ to reach a live man.

Update on Const. Cyrus Villa 

Aug. 29 -- The young Brantford police officer, Const. Cyrus Villa, who was injured while chasing a suspect last July is doing better; as of Aug. 20 he lifted his arms over his head and has a little movement in both his thumbs.

I too tend to take both the man and women in blue and those in khaki too much for granted, but we can and should remember to include them in our prayers.

Yet another quiz . . . 

This time from the Christian Science Monitor: Are you a neoconservative?.

Hmm, I'm a realist. Cool.

(Via Moving Target.)

Weird news (from France, of course) 

Aug. 29 -- This doesn't appear to be a joke: Politicians new face of reality TV.
A new reality series in France will spotlight the daily routine of French families with a live-in government offical in tow. Not scheduled to launch until October, the series is already sparking debate in French political circles.

Supporters, like government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope, said the show -- for now dubbed "36 Hours" -- could help put France's often remote political leaders in touch with the public.

"It's a way of showing that politicians aren't aliens from outer space," said Cope, who is billed as the star of the show's first episode. Cope is a former lawmaker in France's legislature.

The new reality show, to be broadcast on television station TF1, will follow a government figure as he or she works, eats and lives with a French family for up to two days.
This one has Emmy Award (or the French equivalent) written all over it, although it has yet to be decided if it should be in the documentary or fiction category.

(Via Neale News.)

Canadian troops in Afghanistan 

Aug. 29 -- It is easy to forget about Canadian troops now stationed in Afghanistan, but there is a National Post reporter embedded with them, Chris Wattle who reports on a disgusting trick played on the soldiers' families:
Many of the 1,900 Canadians posted to Afghanistan do not wear name tags for security reasons. Intelligence officers working with the Canadian battlegroup for example, as well as members of JTF-2, the elite Canadian special forces unit.

But a rough count of the men and women walking through the camp yesterday suggested that as many as a third of them have taken their nametags off. They cannot all be doing top secret work.

"I just don't want to take the chance," said the master corporal. "Even if it's a small one."

What the troops are worried about is the situation that is said to have developed during peacekeeping missions to the former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s, when local Croats, Serbs or Bosnians somehow obtained the names of some Canadian soldiers serving as peacekeepers and used the information to get their home addresses and telephone numbers in Canada.

Family members began getting ominous telephone calls late at night.

"Absolutely, it's true," said one officer, who -- not surprisingly -- wore no nametag.

"[It] happened to one of my corporals in Bosnia in '97. Somehow, his name got out, the local Serbs passed it along, I guess, and next thing you know his mom is getting phone calls in the middle of the night with some guy saying: 'Your son is dead.' "

Although Canadian commanders in Kabul said the stories were unconfirmed, they have nonetheless been keeping a close watch on the local workers who help run and construct Camp Julien and on the dozens of poor Afghans who descend on the camp's garbage every morning. Intelligence officers suspect that the names of soldiers in Bosnia were obtained by gleaning through garbage to find discarded envelopes from home, with return addresses written on them.

The names and addresses were then passed along to collaborators in Canada, who began making the calls.

One Canadian intelligence officer in Kabul, who -- needless to say -- wore no nametag, said that the troops have a right to be concerned.

"It happens a lot more often than you'd think," he said. "It happened to the German contingent [who patrolled west Kabul before the Canadians] seven times."
(Via Neale News.)

More on wannabee candidate Wesley Clark 

Aug. 29 -- The Washington Times looks at the Wesley Clark flirtation with politics as evidence of his lack of principles and a basic understanding of the electorate Wesley Clark -- Mercenary
Mr. Clark's evasiveness regarding his Democratic Party affiliations is troubling, but his ignorance of American politics is more disturbing. Last week on ''Crossfire,'' Mr. Clark said: "The majority of the people in this country really aren't affiliated with parties, they're independent." This is dead wrong. Three-quarters of the voters register as Republicans or Democrats, and another five percent or so belong to minor parties. Four out of five voters identify themselves as partisans because they embrace the particular set of political ideals for which their chosen party stands. They grasp something that apparently eludes the general: Politics is about principles.

Mr. Clark is a mature man whose intellectual formation includes West Point and Oxford University. If choosing between political parties is so difficult for him, it reveals a core lack of principles. This mercenary mentality raises serious doubts concerning his fitness for the presidency.

Playing Solomon 

Aug. 29 -- Jonah Goldberg has a solution to the controversy over the Ten Commandments momument: I bring you ten - no, five - Commandments

North Korea Watch 

Aug. 29 -- N.Korea says U.S. endangers nuke talks by their "hostile policy."
The warning came as negotiators were discussing North Korea's nuclear issue on the final day of the six-way talks in Beijing. South Korea's chief delegate told journalists that the six nations had agreed to meet again in another round of talks.

But the North's state-run news agency said the United States had jeopardized the chances of further talks. "The next round of meetings is in danger because the United States refused to change its hostile policy toward North Korea," the (North) Korean Central News Agency said.

"The United States said it can make the next round of talks if we speak of giving up our nuclear program. This means the United States will move only after we are disarmed," KCNA said. It was the North's first public reaction to the six-party muclear talks that began Wednesday.
And it was well worth waiting for, I assure you. So much new information to digest . . .

ABC, BBC, CBC . . . 

Aug. 29 -- The Sun (UK) editorial has some thoughts about BBC-style reporting Is he guillible or just stupid?
THE chairman of the BBC governors, Gavyn Davies, reveals all that is wrong with BBC news.

The sheer incompetence that allowed a grave and false allegation to be broadcast without following the basic rules of journalism exposes the arrogance at the heart of the BBC.

The Today programme’s Andrew Gilligan sparked a storm when he claimed Downing Street “sexed up” the Iraqi arms dossier and the Prime Minister misled Parliament to take the country to war.

We now know there was not a shred of truth in that story, yet instead of apologising for the BBC's dangerous blunder, Davies continues to defend the indefensible.

Davies claims at the Hutton inquiry that the BBC were only reporting allegations from a source — not making them.

What an irresponsible statement.

No matter that the story was untrue, came from just one source and was broadcast unchecked.

Even Lord Hutton was aghast at such a weak defence.

Davies then had the nerve to criticise Alastair Campbell for making a public complaint on behalf of the Prime Minister.

The complete naivety in this whole sorry episode shown by Davies and his fellow BBC governors is enough to make you weep.

Davies says Gilligan’s report is “just another of those episodes which Today tends to trip over occasionally.”

Gullible? Incompetent? Or just plain stupid?

Either way, at least the chairman's head must roll if the BBC is to reclaim any credibility as a serious news broadcaster.


HERE’S a Sun exclusive using the Gavyn Davies standards of reporting:

A senior source tells us that Davies’s real name is Geraldine, he had a sex swap 20 years ago, he likes to Morris Dance in the nude, kicks his dog and has secret massages from Carole Caplin.

Davies denies this allegation, and The Sun looks forward to a public inquiry. (Their emphasis)

Mugabe and fuel prices 

Aug. 29 -- The unveiling of Robert Mugabe's retirement palace must be infuriating to the people of Zimbabwe as Mugabe triples fuel price as country sinks deeper into crisis:
Zimbabwe all but tripled the price of petrol for ordinary citizens yesterday. In an attempt to relieve the critical fuel shortage, the government partly abolished the state oil company's monopoly of fuel imports.

It allowed private firms to impose stiff rises in petrol and diesel prices at the pumps, although they are still far short of black market prices. The state company, Noczim, will continue to supply fuel at heavily subsidised prices for its own vehicles, public transport and agriculture.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis as a result of President Robert Mugabe's decision to seize white-owned farms and redistribute the land to blacks, including his own cronies.

The violent seizures started a severe spiral that has brought plummeting tobacco exports, a cut in international aid, a sharp loss of income from tourism and shortages of food, fuel, foreign currency and even local banknotes. Inflation is 400 per cent.

Farmers and even taxi drivers make more money by selling their allocation of fuel rather than using it. The government has responded by banning anyone from carrying a petrol container without a permit.

Under the two-tier pricing system, private companies will be able to sell petrol at 1,170 Zimbabwean dollars per litre, nearly three times higher than the subsidised price of Z$450 but well below the black market price of Z$2,000.

The price of diesel leapt from Z$200 to Z$1,060.
And this is the guy that African leaders (and Canadian PM Chretien) and so determined to protect. Appalling.

Iraq Watch 

Aug. 29 -- Details are still sketchy about the car bomb that killed the Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, Shiite leader of the Supreme Council for Iraq (SCIRI). His cousin, the Ayatollah Mohamad Sa'eed al-Hakim was the target of a bombing Sunday which killed three of his bodyguards and wounded 10. In that attack, a bomb had been placed next to the wall of his home.

Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim is the brother of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim is a member of the Iraq Governing Council.

The US is protesting the airing of death threats against members of the Iraq Government Council which are being aired on Al-Arabiya.

In a recent interview with Time magazine, Def. Secy. Donald Rumsfeld said we do have enough forces in Iraq but need to make the best possible use of the forces already there. L. Paul Bremer has stated that it isn't more troops that are needed but better intelligence and cooperation from the Iraqi people in order to thwart terrorist attacks.

UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim is the nephew of Mohamad Sa'eed al-Hakim.

Check The Command Post for regular updates on Iraq.

Toronto 19 

Aug. 29 -- Immigration hearings continue into the 19 Toronto men who were detained as security risks. 16 have had hearings thus far; two have been released on bail and 14 have been ordered to remain in custody. One more will face a hearing today and two others will have hearings next week.

Christina Blizzard rightly objects to phrases like "creeping facism" and having these detainments equated with Germany in the 1930's.

UPDATE: According to this Toronto police are looking for the "agent" at the center of the suspected terrorist sleeper cell who is said to be the link between the phantom business school that sold them fraudulent documents and the 19 detained men. They are also looking for another 12 men who may have been part of the cell.

(Via Neale News.)


It's getting better all the time in Baghdad 

Aug. 28 -- From On the Third Hand is news from Iraq that you won't see on CNN (can any of you picture Jane Arraf upbeat? Me neither.)

Go; good read.

NK says it may test nukes 

Aug. 28 -- Better make sure this is in the archives NK says it may test nukes because everybody knows that's the traditional way to celebrate disarmament talks.
North Korea has told multi-party talks in Beijing it is preparing to declare itself a nuclear nation and is contemplating testing nuclear weapons, a U.S. official said in Washington.

The question from the U.S. administration standpoint, the official said, is "whether this is a serious and irreversible statement or part of their past pattern of starting every conversation by being threatening to see if it wins them something."

In July, a Japanese newspaper quoted Japanese and North Korean sources as saying Pyongyang was prepared to conduct a nuclear test unless the United States responded positively to its proposals for resolving the nuclear crisis.
Here's a postive response for them, one with protons, neutrons, electrons . . . Just kidding! Honest!

Mark Steyn Speaks 

Aug. 28 -- A new Mark Steyn column for The Spectator Leave It To America in which he points out the lunacy of turning Iraq over to the UN.
If it weren’t tragic, in the proper sense of the word, it would be laughable. Nonetheless, hurrying back to New York, Kofi Annan held a hasty press conference at Stockholm airport to make sure everyone knew who to blame. ‘We had hoped that by now the coalition forces would have secured the environment for us to be able to carry on the essential work of political and economic reconstruction, institution-building, and for Iraqis to carry on with their work. That has not happened.’

It wasn’t the coalition forces who filled your building with Saddamite agents, Mr Secretary-General. That was your choice.

The Canal Hotel turned out to be a perfect microcosm of the UN: a group of naive internationalists refusing to take the murkier characters prowling the corridors at face value and concerned only to keep the US at arm’s length. Yet for Kofi Annan, the French, the Democratic party and the world’s media, the self-inflicted insanity of what happened to the UN in Baghdad apparently demonstrates the need for Washington to hand over more control of Iraq to the blue helmets because ‘they’ve got far more experience in these kinds of situations’. The UN’s track record at nation-building varies according to the strength of the local obstructionist. Mr Vieira de Mello did such a good job transforming East Timor from the brutalised province of a Muslim dictatorship to a functioning infidel democracy that whoever makes Osama bin Laden’s audio tapes these days added it to his list of grievances against the West. But the dapper diplomat did a less impressive job in Cambodia, where Hun Sen decided to hijack the state, King Sihanouk strung along, and the UN colluded in the subversion of its political settlement.

If Kofi got his hands on Iraq, as world opinion so devoutly wants, the Cambodian scenario would be more relevant than the East Timorese. The most determined obstructionists in this case would be Iraq’s Arab neighbours: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and co. don’t care whether the country winds up under another Baathist psychotic or a rent-a-rant mullah, or even a restored Hashemite as long as he’s at least minimally repressive...

Common sense strikes again 

An interesting essay by Sheriff Mike Cook It's For The Children on how governments could balance the budget if they dumped the laws designed to protect Stupid from himself. Excerpts:
There are three things the government can do to help cut our taxes to a level we can all live with. The first is to stop duplication of services. This is a big one and needs to be addressed. The second one is to repeal all the laws on the books that protect us from ourselves. The third thing is to stop government from giving special interest group agendas protection and special privileges.

The sad thing is that once these laws [which protect us from ourselves] are on the books they are not cost effective. We then put more burden on our law enforcement officers to enforce these dumb laws, instead of focusing their attention on the bad crimes we need them to work on. They even have a fund here in Oregon that gives extra money to local law enforcement for officers to work overtime to enforce seat belt laws. They call these "grants". The truth is that these are tax money that is being spent because someone got a dumb law passed, most likely the insurance companies.

Oh yes, the insurance companies love these laws. Instead of inserting a clause in the contract you sign that they don't have to pay if you are not wearing your seat belt, they get a law passed to attempt to make everyone wear the belt, because the masses are too dumb to do it on their own.

You see it's all a matter of trust. We don't trust the government and they don't trust us to do the right thing. So they keep passing laws for us that will protect us from ourselves. How dumb can it get? Well you watch. We are about to get a bunch of our elected officials time wasted, not to mention tax money, on passing law to regulate ATV's so that people who take them out and have fun with them will be more safe. Remember it's for the children.
(Via Rational Review.)

Hitting the fan in Korea 

Aug. 28 -- Steven den Beste has an essay over at USS Clueless about the ongoing talks with North Korea Hitting the fan in Korea which is, on the whole, pretty optimistic. He also provides some insight as to why the Chinese are anxious to prevent a meltdown.

My 2 cents: That the Chinese are confident that, if provoked, the US will attack North Korea just might just have something to do with our recent expedition into Iraq, hmmm?

Ann Coulter, uh, Speaks 

Aug. 28 -- New Ann Coulter column up Liberal Arguments: Still A Quagmire and it goes without saying she comes out swinging.
But liberals are indignant for every day that we haven't turned a barbaric land into Vermont. They were willing to give Stalin 36 years for the awkwardness of his revolution. We have essentially imposed a revolution on Iraq – and liberals give us a month to work out the bugs. U.S. forces in Baghdad say that Iraq is well on its way to establishing American-style representative democracy and might even be holding its first free elections in less than a year. Within three years, the Iraqi people could be recalling their first governor.
Not to mention compete in the 2004 Olympics minus the evil Udai managing with battery posts and jumper cables ...

A New Quizilla 

Aug. 28 -- A new Quizilla adventure awaits: Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?

I should be in "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" which happens to be one of my favourites (prior to reading it I had never heard of Shroedinger's Cat.)

(Via Ghost of a Flea.)

Hope for Etobicoke 

Aug. 28 -- Paul has a post that folks in Toronto might want to look at: it is about a move by Montreal's former suburbs to demerge. He also has some good comments about the nature of municipal politicans I have come to a conclusion... and their bottom-feeding ways.

US ends military presence at Saudi air base 

Aug. 28 -- I'm a little late with this one, Curtain falls on US presence in Saudi air base, mostly because I'm not really sure what it will be seen to mean when history looks back on it.

Certainly leaving a country that no longer wishes our presence is good, and I don't believe it was done to please OBL nor does it represent a capitulation of any sort to his demands, but it does seem to mark the end of an era and that too is not necessarily bad.

Nevertheless it deserves to be commemorated in our minds and I salute the men and women who served there.

Gen. Clark tries to emulate Gen. McClellan 

Aug. 28 -- Ret. Gen. Wesley "I'm Undecided" Clark claims Bush's men tried to gag him.. If only. Those of us in Canada stuck with CNN coverage of the Iraq war might, however, have wished that this was true, because Clark was so very clearly unhappy with Gen. Frank's plan (even before he knew what it was) because it didn't include massive bombing runs and numerous civilian deaths as had previous campaigns.

Clark had assumed that Gen. Franks would adopt the same strategy as Gulf War I and Kosovo. Is it just me, or is Clark's inability to be innovative not a particularly good quality?

I would like to imagine Clark is going to offer some evidence that the Bush administration thought they could get CNN to cooperate with them, but he is, after all, a Democrat.

What he may be referring to, however, is Gen. Myer's impassioned plea for armchair generals to stop claiming "quagmire" one week into the war and to refrain from criticizing "the plan" when they didn't even know what it was.

I'm not sure why Ret. Gen. Clark would want to reopen the total failure of the armchair brigade to comprehend what was happening from Mar. 19 onward, but it might be that he is hoping for:

a) mass amnesia of the populace;
b) people will doubt the accuracy of their memories in favour of CNN-induced memories.

The McClellan reference? A little Civil War history about a weak, fearful general who's incompetence and failure to press the advantage nearly lost us the Civil War. Pres. Lincoln replaced him. He ran for the presidency as a Democrat on an anti-war platform, confident that the soldiers would vote for him, and was creamed. Of course, he wasn't the last Democrat to totally misjudge the mood, resilience and strength of the US electorate.

UPDATE: This is the link to Gen. Clark I spent most of the morning looking for.
UPDATE: Paul has more complete info and other links pertaining to Prima Donna Clark's behaviour in Kosovo.

Aww, one for the heartstrings 

Aug. 28 -- This is kind of sweet:
A BAGHDAD mother and father, to show their thanks to US President George W. Bush for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, have named their son after the American leader.

Had the couple had twin boys, they say, the would have named them George Bush and Tony Blair.

The new George Bush - probably the only one in Baghdad - was born six weeks ago to Nadia Jergis Mohammed, 34, and her husband Abdul Kader Faris, 41.

"I tell you all Iraqis hated Saddam's regime. It was only George Bush who liberated us, without him it wouldn't have happened. If he hadn't done it the sons of Saddam would have ruled us for years. He saved us from Saddam and that's why we named our son after him," Mohammed told Associated Press Television News.

George Bush screamed in his crib.

Baby Bush, born July 11, carries the full name George Bush Abdul Kader Faris Abed El-Hussein. He weighed 3.5 kilograms (7 pounds 11 1/2 ounces) at birth.

Two older brothers are named - more traditionally - Omar and Ali.
Agence France-Presse

The Toronto 19 

Aug. 28 -- One of the 19 detainees was released and two others filed refugee claims following a hearing before an Immigration and Refugee Board. In a related story the Muslim Canadian Congress is "livid" and demanding the RCMP apologize for the racist detention of the 19 students who attended fictitious schools. The phrase "creeping facism" was also employed, but, as facism is a term that describes an economic system, I haven't the slightest idea what the user is trying to convey.

UPDATE: Ontario Public Security Min. Bob Runciman has begun his own investigtion of career schools because he's "lost confidence in federal authorities to do the job properly".

No matter how this matter is resolved it is going to leave a stain on Canada. The Muslim Canadian Congress may be upset, but when they jump to charges of "ethnic profiling" too quickly they also lose credibility (former lefties like me are very suspicious when rhetoric is invoked instead of reason because we helped write that crap and then learned we had been fooled and those charged were actually guilty.)

I still believe that the Muslim communities both in Canada and the US are natural allies in the war on terrorism. Too many people have immigrated to North America precisely because they wanted to get away from repression and do not want it here.

So let's all try not to jump on a guilty-by-public-opinion verdict, and let's not cry "Wolf!" either. Just trying to keep it sane . . .

Dalai Lama to visit New York, Washington 

Aug. 28 -- China is protesting to the US over a planned visit by the Dalai Lama scheduled for next week. The visit upcoming includes a meeting with Pres. Bush; the two had a private meeting in May, 2001, which also annoyed the Chinese.
"We have already made representations to the U.S. on this and urged the American government to strictly abide by its recognition of Tibet as a part of China," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

It said China had requested the United States "pledge not to support 'Tibet independence' and not allow the Dalai to go to America to engage in activities to split China."
Rumour has it that the US government told the Chinese to stuff it.

Hamas Rocket hits Ashkelon in Israel 

Aug. 28 -- A makeshift rocket fired by Hamas landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon (pop. 116,000) Thursday causing no damage or injuries. Ashkelon is about 5.5 miles from the Gaza Strip.
"It's clear the Palestinians are now upping the ante," Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told Reuters. "Israel cannot tolerate the use of rockets against its major cities."

A Palestinian security official in Gaza said Palestinian forces had rushed to the area where a Hamas squad had fired the rocket at Ashkelon, preventing it from launching more rockets.

"There was a chase and a shootout," the official told Reuters. "Our forces are still searching the area in the northern Gaza Strip."
This report also goes into some detail about the Charity Fund Freeze (their wording):
In an apparent clampdown on Hamas affecting thousands of needy Palestinians, the Palestinian Monetary Authority said it had frozen 39 bank accounts held by 12 Islamic charities, most of which are widely believed to be Hamas-sponsored.

The move followed a U.S. decision to freeze the assets of six top Hamas figures after the group carried out a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem on August 19, killing 21 people in what it called retaliation for Israeli raids.

"We want to be 100 percent sure that the money channeled to these institutions is used for charitable purposes and not for political goals," said Amin Haddad, head of the monetary authority, an institution of the Palestinian Authority.

Several thousand charity recipients, some holding banners reading "Don't make us beggars" and "We are not terrorists," took to the streets of Gaza City and Rafah in protest after banks refused to cash their monthly welfare checks.

Officials of Islamic charities in the Gaza Strip said the Palestinian Authority's move showed it had given in to "dictates by President Bush to fight Islamic institutions."

Hamas denied any official connection with the 12 charities, but many of their directors are former or current senior activists in the organization.
Those crazy kids at Reuters; they sometimes publish articles that are almost balanced.

Admitting mistakes 

Aug. 28 -- It's hardly a surprise that the U.S. miscalculated security for Iraq but it's always nice when government officials admit mistakes in judgement. Excerpts:
[Deputy Secretary of State Richard] ... Armitage suggested that U.S. forces were facing thousands of resisters when he listed the varied enemy: two divisions of Republican Guard soldiers who did not fight during the invasion, Ansar Islam terrorists, foreign fighters, Ba'athists and "a certain amount of criminal enterprise."

In candid remarks delivered after a fact-finding trip to Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said, "There was a plan, but as any military officer can tell you, no plan survives first contact with reality. ... Some conditions were worse than we anticipated, particularly in the security area."

He listed three: Contrary to U.S. hopes, no Iraqi army units defected to the allies where they could be used to impose law and order. Second, the Iraqi police department needed a "massive overhaul" before officers could be put back on the street.

"Third, and worst of all, it was difficult to imagine before the war that the criminal gang of sadists and gangsters who have run Iraq for 35 years would continue fighting, fighting what has been called a guerrilla war," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

Once U.S. Central Command realized it had a guerrilla war on its hands, it changed tactics. It organized a series of sweeps in the area known as the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad. Soldiers arrested hundreds of Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters, and seized tons of armaments.

By June, commanders also realized they had underestimated the massive caches of weapons that Saddam had stored across the country. Bomb-making equipment, rifles, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades now seem to be in endless supply.

In July, commanders noticed the guerrillas, or their jihadist allies, had turned to outright terrorism by attacking civilians and assassinating Iraqis who cooperated with the coalition.

Lost in the weekly casualty count of American dead is the progress being made. Officials point out that many feared disasters, such as food shortages and oil well fires, haven't happened. Schools, banks and many businesses are open.
Tony Blankley counsels patience before deciding if intervention in Iraq is successful, and Tod Lindberg says
As I have noted here, we will probably be making every mistake in the book, because there is no book. The only book that will come is the one we ourselves will write after the fact; it will be a chronicle of mistakes in judgment, failures to anticipate contingencies before they arise, measures taken that turned out to have been inadequate half-measures, lost ground that had to be made up, etc.

Are we, for example, currently in a situation in which we face an escalating guerrilla war, or are we making progress in shutting down the remaining armed resistance? I don't know. You don't know. No one knows. We will find out as we go forward. Provided one exercises due diligence and acts in good faith, there is no dishonor in making some mistakes. On the contrary: Any potentially successful course of action will entail mistakes along the way.
We'll write the book and the revisionists will deconstruct and rewrite it (unless a massive student revolt has caused them to be outsted from their comfy chairs by then.)

Jihadists in Iraq 

Aug. 28 -- There are relatively few Saudis among the jihadists captured and detained by US forces in Iraq, according to Dep. Secy. of State Richard Armitage in al interview with Abu Dhabi TV.
"We've got a relatively few number of Saudis," he went on, "but we have Yemenis and Sudanese, Syrians."

He said he did not know how they got into Iraq and there was no suggestion that the Saudi government assisted them. He contrasted the attitude of the Saudis with that of Iran and Syria, whose borders he said were "particularly porous" and whose governments he accused of "not stopping fighters" from crossing into Iraq.
The article deserves to be read in full; I'm haven't been as quick to jump on the Saudis as have others, and this article implies that the transport routes into Iraq are in Jordan and, of course, Syria. While not denying that there are supporters of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, I don't want too much attention on them at the expense of overlooking the larger problem of Syria which is a state that sponsors terrorism and occupies Lebanon.


It's too hot to jog; I'm walking slowly around the blogs 

Aug. 27 -- Bloggers have been busy as hell today. Have I mentioned how hot it is?

Paul has I want McCallum's head stuffed and mounted on my wall, Thank God for the RCMP which is a necessary read for this followup Oh f*ck off in which Paul responds to demands from Toronto's Muslim community for an apology and an immediate release of the 19 illegal immigrants arrested on suspicions of terrorism (or should that be activism?)

A blogger who I've just started reading is Ith who adds Harrison Ford to the Celebrity Nimnull list.

Smug Canadian looks at the plea to movie-makers from attorney generals of 22 US States that they reduce depictions of smokers, well, smoking in movies States request honest depictions of Democrats in movies (if only).

Colby Cosh links to his new column in the National Post which takes a look at the ideas of Hernando de Soto and foreign aid. I'm emailing it to the US State Dept.

French Libertarian is threatening to go to jail before he'll eat brussel sprouts.

Jay Currie reports the latest move the BBC has taken. I think it's called damage control, although others might call it locking the barn door way too late.

News Junkie Canada has received and posted a letter from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties about Irish hate speech laws. She has also posted the text of the section of the Criminal Code in Canada which pertains to hate speech. Someday someone will explain to me why those laws don't apply to the US President and Americans but I'm content to think of it as hypocrisy for now.

David Janes explains why he's in a blogging funk. His reasons are pretty good.

Right On! has a downright revolutionary idea about how to solve the child care crisis. (Translation: revolutionary these days means common sense.)

Rugged Intellectual is also feeling the depression also known as reading the news but found some relief by looking at songs that go unnghh. There are more than you might think.

The Canadian takes on a rather crude depiction of Christians by Warren Kinsella and also attacks the recent poll from the LA Times which skewed its results in order to show Bustamente is ahead of Arnold in the polls. Is he saying the liberal press lies? Oh no . . .

The Dissident Frogman is looking ever more closely at the actual state of health care in France with another horror story. The demise of the "greatest health care system in the world" must be read, especially as we have to wonder if that's where Canada is also heading.

If you haven't read David Warren's latest essay One-a-day then do it now.

North Korea: we're all thinking about it but not sure what to think. Mike Campbell looks at NK's acceptance of multi-lateral talks and their slow realization that China will not bail them out and connects some dots between resolving the stalemate with North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Check out the following entry also, Up From Slavery, which is about Booker T. Washington's autobiography, and Mike factors in some Canadian history about the Antigonish Movement which, from what I could tell, had a similar "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" approach to ending poverty.

Naturally The Meatriarchy would be at the forefront of the meat recall story and even gives credit to the Toronto Star who finally got to the bottom of this story.

Before I close down I'm heading over to Jay Solo's blog to follow the link to vote in Balloon Juice's blogger awards. You might want to do it also.


An inditement of the US State Dept. 

Aug. 27 -- Front Page Magazine has an article on the US State Department which lists 20 instances in which the US State Dept. has side-stepped the US Congress:
The US Constitution mandates that the US Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, must advise and consent the US Administration in matters of foreign policy.

The time has come for the American people to make State Department policies accountable to the the US Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee, the US House International Relations Committee, the media and the American electorate.

In at least twenty critical matters of Middle East foreign policy, the US State Department has acted independently of US Congressional approval in its implementation of Middle East policy.
Read the list.

(Via little green footballs.)

US affirms that Arafat is still irrelevant 

Aug. 27 -- This is an update to posts already updated numerous times today on the power struggle between Yassar Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas which culminated earlier this afternoon with Yassar Arafat calling for terrorist groups to commit to the ceasefire.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat said Wednesday the authority is committed to a cease-fire with Israel and urged all Palestinian groups to renew their commitment to it as well.

The announcement was made as Israeli forces conducted raids in Ramallah and Nablus, detaining Palestinians for questioning and uncovering a weapons cache and an explosives lab.
The White House has responded:
In Washington, the Bush administration dismissed Arafat's move, saying he is trying to undermine Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and the peace process.

"Nothing has changed in respect to Arafat," said State Department spokesman Phil Reeker.

Reeker and a White House spokeswoman, Claire Buchan both said Arafat is "part of the problem, not part of the solution."

The Great Blog War 

Aug. 27 -- This looks interesting: The American Mind is the founding member of the Neutral Until Bribed Coalition.

I've seen a lot of bloggers plead the Switzerland position on this war; this could be an interesting alignment of forces and, if organized, tip the scales of victory. Or be totally ignored, but then everyone who aligns with it can claim superior morality, pacifism, high ethical values or something equally unbelievable.

Why does that all sound so familiar? Hmm, let me think . . .

Alliance of Free Blood doesn't really sound all that sinister and when I read their web page I remembered to check when the next Blood Donor Clinic down the street is to be held.

But on the basis of name appeal alone, the Axis of Naughty has a certain charm to it . .

Decisions, decisions.

Hong Kong and China Watch 

Aug. 27 -- According to this report in the Washington Post
After several months of permitting China's intellectuals the freedom to call for political reform, ponder far-reaching revisions to the constitution and consider changes in the official history of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the Communist Party has ordered a halt to such debate, and security personnel have begun harassing leading academics, economists and legal scholars, sources here say.
The crackdown includes following, interrogating and ordering participants in a conference about constitutional reform to remain silent about the issues.

Although lengthy, this article is well worth reading because it examines the new political alignments within the Communist Party and particularly how the Chinese government's mishandling of the SARS crisis and subsequent mini-purge spurred reformers to call for more reforms in the press, trade unions and party.
The struggle has also stretched into the news media, which in recent months has been full of conflicting signals.

Following an explosion of ground-breaking reports during the SARS epidemic, the Propaganda Ministry, led by a Jiang loyalist, Liu Yunshan, has issued a series of circulars banning reports on a variety of topics.

At the same time, Liu's ostensible boss, Li Changchun, a member of the Politburo's Standing Committee, has been pushing a major reorganization of the state-run press that will result in the shuttering of scores of party newspapers and end the practice of forcing government units to subscribe to party newspapers. This reorganization, triggered by the increasing power of the Chinese media market, means that many party newspapers that previously enjoyed guaranteed circulation will have to compete to attract readers.
I can't help wondering how much influence the internet has had on the calls for reform.

(Via Rational News Digest.)

I'm Picking On French Libertarian in Quebec 

Aug. 27 -- I guess too many Canadians are born carpetbaggers.

French Libertarian in Quebec continues to focus a lot on events to the south of Canada without paying much attention to events closer to home. I'm only going to get on his case over the first item in the post claims that
... The appointment of Abbas was a crucial step in some master plan (the US attacked Iraq later the same day) that we'll just call "The roadmap". It was crucial that Abbas be appointed before the Arab hearts were inflamed by the US invasion.
This analysis doesn't take into account the facts that the US had been poised in Kuwaiti for several months, that the US had tried to get a 2nd UN resolution, that the US gave Saddam and sons 48 hours to get out of Iraq before they attempted a decapitation strike, and that Australian troops were already in Iraq when that strike was launched.

Perhaps if it could be demonstrated how exactly the appointment of Abbas (which wasn't confirmed until April 30) soothed the Arab street we could discuss this, but I suspect that the main factor has been the revelation that al Jazeera (among other Arab news agencies) took bribes from Saddam to conceal his crimes. This quiet is shock (and perhaps guilt) as Arabs are beginning to learn only now the extent to which Saddam and the regime had been butchering the Iraqi people.

I hope I see a Candian blogger do an analysis of the decision by the Federal government to further cut Canadian foreign aid and funding of the Canadian military in order to subsidize their latest promises. Canadian politicians who love to paint themselves as lovers of peace aren't very willing to cough up the cash for both foreign aid and Canadian peacekeeping forces (which doesn't stop demands the US cough up more cash.)

Pres. Clinton and PM Chretien say all the right things, do nothing and spend less. The foreign press adores them. Hypocrites love other hypocrites.

Americans already know that their disposable incomes would be increased if the US cut foreign aid (especially to unfriendly countries) and stopped subsidizing the UN, and there's sizeable grassroots support for such cuts.

Ten Commandments monument moved 

Aug. 27 -- It was inevitable that the Alabama Ten Commandments momument would be moved but the debate has focused a lot of minds on the First Amendment which is always good.

UPDATE: According to this, only 1 in 5 Americans supported the court-ordered removal of the Ten Commandments monument (77% disapproved.) It's beginning to really scare me that I am so often one of the majority. I might have to get used to it.

Good news about dark chocolate 

Aug. 27 -- I love dark chocolate, so I'm doing the happy dance over evidence that Dark chocolate linked to lower blood pressure. Milk chocolate lovers will have to cope.

(Via Neale News.)

The Canadian celebrates 1st anniversary 

Aug. 27 -- Dang! The Canadian celebrated his first blogosversary yesterday and I missed it (and, apparently, so did he!) so please head over there, scroll down to find his guestmap on the left panel, and sign it.

While you're there, check out his posts on the recent arrests by the RCMP (including the finding of schematics for the CN Tower), link to David Warren's latest essay and speculation about the reasons for the recall of Aylmer's Meat Products.

Amina Lawal 

Aug. 27 -- Amina Lawal is appearing before a Nigerian court today to appeal her death sentence by stoning on charges of adultery.

Not all Palestinians support terrorism against children 

Aug. 27 -- In a different kind of report, Child killings leave bus bomber's family divided in grief:
Inigo Gilmore in Hebron meets a suicide attacker's relatives whose act has evidently caused unease within his family and his community.

Raed Mesk's youngest sister, Samiya, had just been extolling her brother's brave act in murdering 20 Jews, many of them children, when his frail uncle, sitting quietly beside her, finally spoke up.

"Only God knows whether what he did was haram [forbidden] or halal [permitted]," said Abdul-Majid Mesk, speaking softly in Arabic. "He was a father with young children and I believe what he did was wrong."

As the 72-year-old paused, his niece prodded him in the shin with her foot, aware that his awkward comments were undermining the facade of family support. Undeterred, he added solemnly: "It is wrong to kill children."

Mugabe has new palace 

Aug. 27 -- It's a Very Special Moment for Mugabe as builders prepare to put the finishing touches to his new palace.

People who are starving in Zimbabwe can doubtless ease their hunger pangs by gazing at this newest monument to the vanity of their President.

Hate Speech Legislation 

Aug. 27 -- Australia too is grappling with trying to define what is racist or hate speech as a trial proceeds against a man based on his claim that Muslims won't integrate:
ONE Nation MP David Oldfield believes most Muslims refuse to integrate into Australian society and that most terrorists are Muslims.

Central to the accusations against him is the site's statement "not all Muslims are terrorists but nearly all terrorists are Muslim".
I linked to the website cited in the news article here and was greeted by a warning that viewing or downloading the site in Australia in the State of Victoria may break the laws of that state and that I would have to accept that I read and understood the possible illegality before I clicked to enter.

I chickened out. I would know the law would protect me were I in the US, but I'm honestly not sure about the laws of Canada and how much the law would protect me as I'm not a citizen here.

Terror Watch 

Aug. 27 -- Sawad, alias Sardjiyo, currently in trial for his role in mixing the chemicals used in the Bali bombs thanked anti-war protesters for supporting his cause. His co-accused, Abdul Ghoni, warned Australians against allying themsevles with the US.

UPDATE: Tim Blair says he'll thank them, Abdul old pal. Well, not exactly . . .

Abdul Ghoni claimed that the aim of bombing the nightclubs in Bali was to kill Americans.

Uh huh. Because you always try to kill Americans by attacking a resort known for its Australian tourists. And bin Laden was only joking when a recent audiotape message urged his followers to target Australia because of its intervention to prevent a slaughter in East Timor.

In another article, a new report on Jemaah Islamiah by the Interntional Study Group warns that
Thousands strong, and spread across the vast archipelago of Indonesia, JI continues to threaten Westerners and Western interests. Pessimistic about future prospects in Indonesia, the report, titled Jemaah Islamiah In Southeast Asia: Damaged But Still Dangerous, warns bluntly: "In the short term, we are likely to see more JI attacks.

"The information emerging from the interrogation of JI suspects indicates that this is a bigger organisation than previously thought, with a depth of leadership that gives it a regenerative capacity," says the report, written by ICG Indonesia director Sidney Jones.

Arafat-Abbas Power Struggle 

Aug. 27 -- What is always ignored in discussions about the Road Map are the requirements for the Palestinian Authority to crack down on the institutions that incite hatred for Israel, disarm the terrorists, affirm the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, and other requirements to which Arafat and his gang have signed agreement over the past 10 years but done nothing to implement.

But the press still focuses on the political struggles in the Palestinian Authority rather than the total failure in leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. There are a few possible reasons why Abbas has been unable to lead the Palestinian people away from their acceptance of terrorist tactics, but two things seem clear to me: either the Palestinian people do not want to end the violence, or Abbas has not appealed to that Palestinian grassroot sentiment for an end to the violence and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas met with Cabinet ministers in an effort to gather support as he and Arafat continue their showdown. (I'm condensing a lot, so read the articles.) The future of a Palestinian state has become more uncertain as Abbas, who was installed Apr. 30, has been unable to stop terrorist attacks against Israel. Although he blames the Israelis, it is clear that the power struggle has its roots in Arafat's control of the security forces; thus there will be no disarming of the terrorists and no end to terrorist attacks so long as Arafat remains in control.
Abbas convened his Cabinet in Gaza City on Wednesday, and was to hold talk with legislators from the Gaza Strip later in the day. Aides said he would try to persuade them to support him in Monday's vote in parliament. Thirty-five of parliament's 83 legislators are from the Gaza Strip.

Kadoura Fares, a Fatah lawmaker, said he and some of his colleagues were tired of the power struggle between Abbas and Arafat.

If the fighting between Abbas and Arafat continues, "then one of them will have to be pushed aside," said Fares, adding that in this case Abbas should step down since he was appointed, not elected like Arafat.

"We can decide to find someone else to do his job, someone who can get along better," said Fares, who has also been critical of Arafat in the past.
In a related article, Mideast on the Brink, several quotes indicate the total lack of confidence the Israel government has in negotiations:
"The Palestinians never weaned themselves from the basic desire to murder Jews," the Yediot Ahronot daily quoted Sharon as saying. "This was always (Palestinian leader Yasser) Arafat's policy, simultaneous negotiations and terrorism."

A senior security official said that as far as Israel is concerned, "anyone who is in the Hamas leadership is a fair target." Israeli officials said the strikes could be called off if the Palestinian Authority, against all expectations, takes action against Hamas.
Palestinian sources, in turn, state that
Abbas has no plan for handling the situation, members of his inner circle said privately. His policy of persuading Hamas and Islamic Jihad to halt attacks has failed, and in this charged climate, he does not dare order a clampdown, as demanded by the United States and Israel.

"We cannot attack Hamas when the population is sympathetic to them and, what is more important, when Israel is attacking them as well," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ghassan Khatib.
Which ignores the obvious in that, had the PA clamped down on Hamas and others, the Israeli's wouldn't have needed to.

The calls on the US to take a stronger role pre-supposes that the US will take the side of the Palestinians; I too want the US to take a stronger role by cutting off all funding to the PA until it cuts ties with terrorists and demanding that Arafat answer the accusations that he is feathering his own nest as well as giving money to terrorists.

Paul has a nice picture here and Fisks a report from Reuters here that Arafat is urging that the truce be reinstated and "hints" that he plans a crackdown on terrorists (I guess that should be activists or militants or ...) Is it just me or is Arafat a little old to be playing at coyness?

UPDATE: Arafat is calling upon terrorists (whoops, I mean activisits) to commit to ceasefire. Again.

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