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10/31/2003

Lighter posting 

Oct. 31 - My work schedule has changed, so I'll be posting at different times on a near daily basis at least until Christmas. I'll try to keep up, but go check out the fine bloggers on my blogroll. They're a good group.

Happy Halloween, too! Save me some candy . . .

Things I don't get 

Oct. 31 - I freely admit that I don't really get Quebec, and since the question of separation was settled long ago in the USA, I have a cultural bias that precludes any pretense at objective analysis. This doesn't exactly help in furthering my understanding:
QUEBEC -- Quebec's National Assembly voted unanimously yesterday to recognize Quebec as a nation, but not all parties agree on what it means.

The unanimous vote comes a day after a heated debate in the [Canadian] House of Commons in which the Liberal majority defeated a Bloc Quebecois motion also calling for the recognition that Quebec constitutes a nation. [Background here.]

The Bloc motion stated that Quebec could withdraw from new federal spending programs with full financial compensation. The National Assembly motion contained no such demands, only a simple declaration: "That the Quebec National Assembly reaffirms that the Quebec people constitute a nation."

The motion was immediately sent to House of Commons, where it will be delivered to all the federal members of Parliament.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who tabled the motion, insisted that the motion will not change Quebec's status within Canada. "Quebec is a nation within the Canadian nation," Mr. Charest said. "It contradicts nothing in the fact that we are both Quebeckers and Canadians."
But maybe there's more politican maneuvering than meets the eye when I remember the flack over the issue of whether Mike Harris speaks French, hmm? And then there's this, which more than anything seems to indicate that polls are useless:
As the debate over the recognition of Quebec as a nation unfolded, a public opinion poll conducted in Quebec for the Council for Canadian Unity showed support for sovereignty-partnership at 47 per cent in September, an increase of six percentage points since last April. However the same poll also showed that 75 per cent of Quebeckers were favourable "to the [Charest] government playing a very active role to help the Canadian federation work better."
Seven people were recently arrested for painting anti-Canadian slogans in a predominantly anglophone former suburb of Montreal and possession of homemade bombs. This report that there is a Quebec militia training and armed to take on the Canadian army. The militia's vice-president says the aims of the militia are defensive in nature:
"We want to act in entire legality. We want to train people to defend and help the Quebec people, for example in cases of natural disasters. We want to defend sovereigntist activists if they're attacked during a demonstration."

The group would also act if the Canadian army moves in after a yes vote for sovereignty, she said.

A former member of the group told the TVA television network that he quit after hearing people muse about blowing up mailboxes in English-speaking areas. The vice-president said such plans are not condoned by the militia.
I hardly think that the FLQ is going to make a dramatic comeback, so there's no panic!

But, and it's a biggie, under a new law recently voted into effect, the Canadian taxpayer will be footing the bill for candidates at the rate of $1.50 for each vote garnered by the political parties in national elections. That means that my tax dollars will go to funding a separatist party, the Bloc Quebecois, as well as a socialist party, the NDP. That's just so wrong on so many levels.

Military equipment upgrades 

Oct. 31 - It's rather neat to be reading a debate over which armoured transport should be supplied to the Canadian army: after so many years of agitating for better equipment, it is a definite improvement that folks are arguing which should be purchased rather urging that purchases must be made even against this backdrop of orders to Defence Secy. McCallum that he reduce military spending.

Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington argues that the Stryker are a Strategic buy and that the opposition should be focused on a bigger issue:
The opposition would be better advised to urge that 166 Strykers be purchased instead of 66.
The Canuckistanian agrees that the Stryker would be a valuable acquisition and cites his own experience (and he too has pictures!).
Have you ever seen a jeep with an oversized gun on it?

Have you ever seen what it can do?

I have and it scared the hell out of me!
Paul still doesn't like the Stryker and links here to a study of Stryker Brigades vs. The Realities of War at the Global Security website, but agrees with Worthington about quantity and also points out that flag officers will outnumber tanks as well as this numbers sting:
Which also brings to mind a rant that has been wandering through my mind of how, if procurement continues the way it has been going when it comes to heavy items - replacing two with one, or less -, by 2100 you should have a grand total of three tanks and two planes facing off against each other on the battlefield ...
Paul wants both more and better. I can't see anything wrong with that, and would be happy to have the heavier tanks as well as the lighter Stryker.

Many of the recommendations by the military are based on a 1998 report which, as I ranted earlier, is irrelevant in this new era of fighting terrorism.

Bottom line: no army would be wise to limit their functionality to a single terrain, field condition, or assumption as to which country they might be deployed to work alongside.

Making purchases on the assumption that larger and heavier American transport will be close by is very short-sighted. Although the Canadian and American military have worked together before, a recent deployment of the Canadian military assisted the French in the Congo, and they are now working with an international force in Afghanistan under German leadership.

What I know about armoured transport is, well, isn't, if you get my drift, but this tiny move by the Liberal Party to seek improvements in the equipment of the military is still a good first step.

Now, about those helicopters:
HALIFAX -- Investigators were examining the engines and gear boxes on two Sea King helicopters yesterday after the aircraft lost power in flight, forcing the military to restrict the fleet's flying time to only critical missions. For the first time in its troubled 40-year history, the aircraft were ordered to stand down and not fly any non-operational flights. The six now able to take to the air in Halifax and the remaining Sea Kings in British Columbia will not be able to conduct routine training missions, but can still respond to emergencies.

That could change as early as today if engineers find enough similarities between the two mishaps to warrant a complete grounding of the geriatric fleet.
Predictably, PM Chretien is not embarrassed that the fleet is grounded. After all, he was willing to see the Snowbirds disbanded for lack of training jets so he could indulge his yen for flying palaces.

We also musn't forget the goofy notion the government put forward that civilians patrol Canada's coast instead of upgrading the navy.

As I see it, fighting for better equipment for the army is Round One. Rounds 2 and 3 are to upgrade the equipment for the air force and the navy.

Support the troops that protect us. It's that simple.

10/30/2003

The Big Picture 

Oct. 30 - Donald Sensing over at One Hand Clapping takes a couple of steps back to look at The Big Picture in the war on terror, the casus belli for military intervention in Iraq, the rationale for that intervention as well as the reminder that heck yes! it's a big gamble, but when have the stakes ever been higher? We're sitting one card short of a royal flush, and what kind of miserable creature would throw in their cards with that hand?

The post is an excellent read, but it's got something extra: it boosted my morale.

We will not falter, we will not tire, we will not fail is a heck of a lot easier for us to say than it is to do here on the homefront, so if we are to keep the homefires burning we must commit to endlessly countering the leftist propaganda, and I admit it: I'm getting tired.

I doubt I'm the only person who would much rather be over there than bogged down here trying to keep the nation's focus on the real successes while the highly weird Democrat Party presidential primary candidates strut their stuff to what is admittedly a generally unimpressed electrorate, but I know I just know that we can't get tired and we can't let up.

As Donald points out:
This strategy is fraught with risk and may not succeed. But playing a deadly game of whack-a-mole with Islamic terrorists is a strategy doomed to fail.

The campaign against terrorism is foundationally a contest of wills - dare I say it, a spiritual struggle.

The real issue is whether the Western Civilization shall prevail against the last vestige of medievalism; whether the rule of men who shoot their prisoners, enslave their women and deny the rights of self-determination to their own people, shall kill us and displace us, to whom the individual and individual rights are sacred and whose laws require respect for freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and whose traditions preserve freedom from fear and cruelty. In the long history of civilization, this task is to be done now. (Emphasis added)
He's right: we can't let them break our spirit.

Further, I'm not sure I properly understood how fundamentally the war on terror would link with the fight against anti-Semitism (simply because I hadn't recognized there had been a resurgence of anti-Semitism until the apologists for Sept. 11 expressed their views) but that too is a struggle that must and will be won.

So I am grateful to Donald for putting together a cogent, reasoned argument that starts with Sept. 11 on through to our current struggle in Iraq (and for us civilians, on the homefront) and most especially and personally because I need it. Morale matters for civilians too.

I don't often bookmark single posts, but this is the exception that breaks the rule.

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Oct. 30 - A dispatch from Stephen Thorne on yesterday's blast which was caused when a lightly armoured front-end loader hit an explosive device. Sgt. Rene Grignon was stunned but uninjured. Investigators will determine what kind of ordinance was involved and, hopefully, may be able to determine when it was laid.

Strykers defended 

Oct. 30 - There's more about the equipment concerns for the Canadian military Strykers defended which I'm only noting for future reference.

I still think that all the discussion about equipment obscures the real problem: that the armed forces in Canada are not given the respect and support from the leadership in this country. But that would require a change in the way Canadian history is taught, and we can't have that, right?

There's more here.

UPDATE: Paul has pictures and asks the Lord to smite John McCallum. There's that delicious word Smite again . . . and he's got even more pictures as well as a defense plan that would personally involve the Defense Minister. (Defence? defense? . . . sometimes I get confused which country goes with which spelling. Sue Me.)

Airport acts on jet threat 

Oct. 30 - An update on steps being taken by Toronto Airport after a missile threat to an El Al flight forced it to divert from Toronto to Montreal and then Hamilton:
Security officials have since provided more air space between flights as El Al jets approach the airport, police said.

Police are also conducting background checks of flights originating from smaller Toronto airports when El Al is in the air to prevent in-air missile attacks. And teams of officers are also cruising highways around Pearson as the flights descend searching for signs of a missile launcher.

WTF? 

Oct. 30 - This from Barrie, Ont. (Barrie? Yikes!): 3 face explosives rap. I never really thought of Barrie as a hotbed of radical or gang activity, so this is definitely in the WTF department:
BARRIE -- Three young adults were in bail court yesterday facing charges of vehicle theft and possession of two grenade-like explosive devices. Nicole Bazin, 18, Mark Burt, 18 and Steven Fiala, 20, all from the Barrie area, are charged with theft and possession of a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder and two counts of possession of an explosive device. They are to be back in bail court this morning.
UPDATE: Doh! Pierre from B.C. points out that the kids probably had explosives for Halloween hijinks, because nothing says Halloween more than blowing stuff up. The bigger the bang the better. I hadn't thought of that, being from the days of rotten eggs and tp-ing the school, but it seems the very likely explanation. Thanks, Pierre.

Contractors face heat in military zones 

Oct. 30 - Interesting story from AP reporter Jim Krane in today's Sun about the outsourcing of jobs by the US military and the dangers they face (Contractors face heat in military zones.) Unfortunately, he veers too quickly from the contractors and goes into a full scale rant on the military-industrial complex, but, rhetoric aside, it raises some valid points about the extent to which civilians are involved not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in Liberia and Kosovo.

Krane fails to draw a fairly obvious parallel between US contractors and contractors for the NGO-civilian-complex, nor does he address how NGOs like the Red Crescent and the UN cut and run at the first sign of danger whereas US contractors stay and do the jobs which with they've been entrusted.

In contrast, Kingdom of the Geeks has been publishing emails from one known as Capt. "L" who is one of those contractors (correct me if I'm wrong) and who has a different take on his role as a contractor than the one Krane describes. In a post describing the bombing at the Al Rashid Hotel, the Capt. notes:
After the hotel was attacked, the military officer that was killed was found by his window with a rifle pointing out the window and set for full automatic. I figure that he must of heard the first hit and went to the window to attempt to return fire, when his room took a rocket strike, killing him.
Capt. "L" is former military, and his reports are full of respect for the military and he wrote earlier that he felt humbled to be working alongside and eating spam with the fine men and women over there.

Capt. "L" knows exactly why he's in Iraq and what role he is playing. It's a pity Mr. Crane didn't interview him or, for that matter, any of the contractors in hot zones. I'll rate the courage and dedication of the contractors over the feckless NGO types every.single.day. God bless and keep them.

Palestinian PM has 2-step plan 

Oct. 30 - The Palestinian PM-For-Today, Ahmed Qureia, has a wonderful idea: negotiate a truce with the terrorist groups that operate freely in PA territory and ask Israel to honour it. Seeing as all previous truces have merely been a breather so the terrorists could plan and launch more attacks, I just can't understand why Israel wouldn't want to go along with this new one.

I get Rocky and Bullwinkle flashbacks when I read such announcements by the PA: remember how Bullwinkle would pretend to be a magician and tell Rockey Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out o' my hat! and Rocky would say Again? That trick never works!

In My World (which is admittedly a poor one compared to Frank J.'s,) those are the words I'd like President Bush to use when he hears about this latest plan. Maybe not aloud, because that wouldn't be, you know, statesmanlike, but I'd sure hope they're what he'd be thinking.

Cecilia on the buses 

Oct. 30 - The TTC has put aside agonising over Sony RPG games and is doing something useful in the city-wide effort to find Cecilia Zhang: they have placed her picture up on posters at subway stations and on toll boxes.

Anyone who has seen Cecilia (links to picture) should call 416-808-8390 in English and 416-808-3681 in Chinese.

In another story, organizers of the festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year next January are using the networking and preparations for it to help in the search for Cecilia.

Does anyone else find it both eerie and hopeful that Elizabeth Smart has been back in the news? Oh well, I'm always greedy for good omens.

A petty scale 

Oct. 30 - Peter Worthington pretty much sums up my attitude toward all the hoopla over the MPs using Irving family jets and fishing lodges when he identifies the corruption as being on A petty scale:
More serious breaches are when ministers give contracts without mandatory bidding process (like the PM getting DND to buy new and unnecessary ministerial aircraft for prestige purposes.[)] Or ministers hiring their girlfriends for consulting work, or paying them to write reports on subjects they know nothing about; or ministers wasting a billion dollars on nothing; or the billion-dollar gun registry boondoggle that will actually increase crime and violence rather than curtail it. The list goes on and on.
Exactly. The media is focused on a relatively tiny breach of ethics at the expense (ha!) of major boondoggles. Classic diversionary tactic, I mutter. Plain-freaking-diversion. Don't fall for it.

10/29/2003

Here we go again 

Oct. 29 - There are some serious rumours that another attack against Internet Haganah is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. The attack is evidently against HostingMatters (which no longer services Haganah thanks in great part to the many bloggers who rushed to their defence by digging deep to donate to the tip jar over there) so whereas it may be inconvenient for us they will miss their target. There's a lesson in that somewhere . . .

Attack my freedom of speech, will you? Not. in. this. lifetime.

For more information link to Snooze Button Dreams: Here we go again.

Also, check at Irreconcilable Musings who's keeping track of the other bloggers keeping track. As he puts it, We shall not be silenced!

(Primary link via The Penguin.)

IMAO 

Oct. 29 - Who does it better than Frank J.? Bite-Sized Wisdom: Me Busy, Me Insulted, Terrorists, Fight Club, and Screw You Guys:
So the terrorists attacked the Red Cross on their own frick'n holy month. For those of you who are behind the curve, these people are evil. EEEEEEEvil. It would be morally wrong of us not do everything we can to splatter these bastards despite the whining of the hippies. Do you want to have to explain why the terrorists aren't dead to your children?

"Daddy, why aren't the bad people dead"

"Because of Demi-crats and Europeans."
Ka-boom!

One Definition of Terrorism 

Oct. 29 - One of my recent additions to the blogroll is Rangting Profs. In the post WHAT DO TERRORISTS WANT? is this neat summation:
Terrorism is, and I don't mean to sound to flippant or glib here, so bear with me, essentially an evil form of performance art.

A Lie About Evil Glenn's Halloween 

Oct. 29 - This is such an affront to Truth, Justice and the American .., oh, wait; wrong villain, start again? Yeah, now GO!

The Filthy Lie I'm about to relate about Evil Glenn's Halloween costume is an affront to every DC Comic fan ever born.

That evil, wicked puppy blender is going as Oswald Cobblepot, The Penguin himself, from Batman.

Evil Glenn is now messing with the Legend of the Dark Knight. Is nothing sacred to the vile hobo killer?? He probably had a hand in the progressively worse Batman films too. Oh yes, there are many MANY more lies in Gotham City, and you can be sure Evil Glenn is blamed for all of them. [All you have to do is post something clearly marked as a lie and he'll be blamed. Simple, really.]

Uh huh, and like now I'm wondering what really happened to that nasty little ankle biter from Batman Returns which would have been a much better movie without Danny DeVito as the Penguin and are we are seeing the pattern here? Hmm?

Precision Guided Humour - Ted Kennedy 

Oct. 29 - This week's assignment in Precision Guided Humor is "What lessons can we learn from the life of Ted Kennedy?"

Being in a somewhat philosophical state of mind today, I find myself reflecting on the influence of the Kennedys during my own lifetime: the invigorating personae of both John F. and Robert F. Kennedy, the shocks my generation experienced upon their untimly deaths, and how deeply the death of John Jr. a few years ago reopened those old pains.

I remember the Inaugural Speech of John F. Kennedy in 1961 only barely (althought it was been replayed many times) but do remember how a certain word gained a new pronounciation: vigor. There is also Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country. The Peace Corp. Drawing the line against communism. Sending in National Guard troops to Little Rock. Profiles in Courage.

I saw John F. in person when he was awarded a doctorate degree from UC Berkeley. My grade school attended the ceremonies along with everyone else in and near Berkeley. I don't remember what he said, but I do remember that he was vibrant and infused with an energy and confidence in the people of America.

I only saw Robert F. while he was waving from a motorcade during the 1968 Dem primary campaign in California, and he too had this magical electricity and confidence in our abilities to take up challenges and succeed. I've never been to the Ambassador Hotel, and never will.

We learned a new word during the Kennedy years: charisma. Jack and Bobby had it, John Jr. had it, Ted, alas, doesn't. But neither did/do Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, although Ronald Reagan had it (which was a really awkward discovery given that I was a lefty back when Reagan was governor of California.) (I've never seen either Bush, Clinton or Bush live before, so don't know about them.)

But that's not a lesson we can learn from Ted Kennedy because it's not his fault that he doesn't have charisma.

The Pope visited Toronto a few years ago, and in one of the most powerful statements I think I've ever heard, he looked gently at the many young people assembled and told them that they didn't know how good they were.

President Bush has reminded the American people that we are a good, generous people who have always treated our friends and enemies with kindness and forgiveness.

President Kennedy had full confidence when he proposed going to the moon that we would succeed precisely because the challenge was so hard. Despite the many conspiracy theories that surround the president's assassination, the evidence remains that a Communist who had lived in the Soviet Union killed Kennedy, probably in retaliation for the events of the Cuba Missile Crisis.

Sen. Kennedy once said that some people look at those things that are and ask why, and he looks at what could be and ask why not. Sen. Kennedy was killed by a Jordanian, Sirhan Sirhan, who claimed he was disappointed because the Senator was a strong supporter of Israel.

I tend to date the beginning of American self-loathing in 1968 when both Dr. King and Sen. Kennedy were killed. Those events marked a downward spiral in our belief in ourselves as a people and a country. It took until Sept. 11 to shake off that malaise of self-destructiveness and reaffirm that there are many, many good things about the USA and Americans.

Sen. Ted Kennedy should have played a vital and positive role in this rebirth of the American spirit and would, after all, have been continuing the family tradition in exhibiting confidence and faith in the American people. But he didn't.

The lesson? Ted Kennedy could have been a contender. That his presidential ambitions may have been dashed when he drove off a bridge so many years ago doesn't change the fact that he still could have contributed to the future of his country today by invoking and giving that which the Kennedys have always given aplenty: complete and total confidence in the American people.

Iraq 

Oct. 29 - Two Soldiers Killed in Iraq Explosion near Baghdad when their Abrams transport was damaged by a land mine or roadside bomb near Balad, 45 miles north of Baghdad.

7 Ukranian soldiers were injured:
A spokesman for the multinational division at Camp Babylon said the attack on the Ukrainians occurred when two of their armored personnel carriers rolled over land mines near Suwayrah about 40 miles southeast of Baghdad.

After the vehicles were disabled, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the disembarked soldiers, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

About 1,650 Ukrainians are serving in the Polish-led stabilization force patrolling central and southern Iraq.
The beginning of Ramadan marks this latest wave of terrorist attacks in Iraq. Americans, British and Canadians have been advised to be vigilant due to increased security concerns in Saudi Arabia.

Bloggers in a different line of fire 

Oct. 29 - Slings and Arrows is back online after the power went back up. He also carries this report from a fellow blogger who did have to evacuate.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy 

Oct. 29 - Michael Moore is being sued:
Detroit — James Nichols, the brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, says he was tricked into appearing in the anti-gun documentary Bowling for Columbine, according to a federal lawsuit filed against filmmaker Michael Moore.

Nichols also alleges in the lawsuit, filed in Detroit, that Moore libelled him by linking him to the terrorist act.

Nichols accuses Moore of libel, defamation of character, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. His lawyer is asking for a jury trial and damages ranging from $10-million to $20-million (U.S.) on each of nine counts, the Detroit Free Press reported.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Moore's publicist.

In the film, Moore asks Nichols for an interview and steers the subject from the Oklahoma City bombing to gun ownership. Nichols tells Moore he has a gun under his pillow, and Moore asks Nichols to show him.

In the lawsuit, Nichols, who lives in Decker, said Moore misled him about the purpose of the interview.

Bowling for Columbine won the feature-length documentary Academy Award earlier this year.
There have been calls to revoke the Oscar due to the many flights of fancy that make Bowling for Columbine less documentary and more mockumentary.

Recently released videos which show the two Columbine shooters purchasing their weapons and engaging in targets practice with their new weapons indicate that the Columbine shootings were not spree killings but planned well in advance of that morning.

(Via Neale News.)

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Oct. 29 - There was an incident today with an explosive device placed on the same track as Sgt. Short and Cpl. Beerenfeger were on when they were killed earlier this month, but thankfully there was no injury this time to the soldier:
Kabul — A Canadian combat engineer escaped injury Wednesday when his lightly armoured vehicle struck an explosive device west of the Canadian military base in the Afghan capital.

The incident occurred at 12:35 p.m. local time as combat engineers were clearing the route on which two Canadian soldiers were killed by at least one anti-tank mine Oct. 2.

The engineer, whose name was not immediately released, was taken to a field hospital at nearby Camp Julien for observation.

The vehicle involved in the incident was a Zettelmeyer front-end loader equipped with a bucket and had been preceded down the track through rolling foothills by combat engineers on foot.

Officials said they did not know if the vehicle struck a landmine or another type of explosive device. An investigation is under way.

Seven face charges after anti-English incident 

Oct. 29 - Only days after it was announced that Sony was removing an imaginary instance of Quebec terrorists capturing the Toronto subway from their game Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, due to protests from Quebeckers and the Toronto Transit Commission that something so negative and unthinkable would be portrayed, seven separatists face charges after anti-English incident:
Seven arrests, the discovery of explosive devices, and anti-English graffiti in communities that want to break away for Montreal have some people in the city on edge.

The arrests were made after police discovered the former town hall for Baie d'Urfe, a mainly English-speaking community, had been defaced with anti-Canadian and separatist slogans.

Police said they caught the men as they were trying to cut down a federalist symbol at the townhall with a chainsaw. Investigators said they later found several homemade pipe bombs in a suspect's car.

The graffiti included the words Canadians Go Home, Quebec Libre (A Free Quebec) and Fusion Montreal.
Paul lives in Montreal and has good commentary here and makes points that people (like me, who often wonder why this continues to be an issue after 30+ years) need to remember.

Just to round this out, there's been a mini-controversy up here over revelations in a recent Chretien biolgraphy that the PM was prepared for a military intervention had the 1995 referendum gone against Quebec staying in Canada. Paul reports and comments here, for Paul's thoughts, and Francois offers some perspective going back to Trudeau's invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970 as well as a possible alternate reason as to why the army may have been on alert.

I don't comment on Quebec because that is irremediably something I don't get, at least from a Canadian perspective, any more than I get bi-lingualism but Murdoc makes a valid point about the UN that I haven't seen elsewhere (but dang! I wish I had thought of it first.)

Cecilia Zhang 

Oct. 29 - This is Cecilia. If you have seen her, call the Cecilia Zhang hotline at 416-808-8390.

9-year old Cecilia Zhang is still missing, and there are evidently no new leads in the search for her. Toronto police have offered a $50,000 reward for her return and the case will be on America's Most Wanted this Satuday.

Police reconstructed the Oct. 19 abduction for reporters (Window of hope) and released the information that two phone calls were made to the home from payphones shortly before the abduction.

Mossad tipped off Canada 

Oct. 29 - The Canadian government has seen fit to share the information they received which prompted them to divert an incoming El Al flight from Toronto to Montreal and then Hamilton (although a cynical person might point out that they only confirmed some rumours): Jet attack tip from Mossad
Canadian security officials yesterday revealed details of the threatened terror attack on an Israeli passenger jet enroute to Pearson airport last week. While the El Al Boeing 767 was in the air Thursday, Mossad agents in Tel Aviv notified airport and Canadian security agents that al-Qaida operatives were planning to attack the jet with a surface-to-air rocket, officials said.

"The tip originated from the Mossad," one senior federal official said, speaking on condition they remain anonymous. "They believed it was very credible threat."

Police suspect the heat-seeking missile was to have been fired at the descending aircraft from a van or truck on either Hwys. 427, 27, 401 or 403, the officials said.

They aren't sure if the rocket was to have been fired from a moving vehicle or one parked on the shoulder of the highway.
The only revelations is that last paragraph, but it seems a little incredible that the rocket would be fired from a moving vehicle. If they missed, that rocket would have hit . . . what? But here's the really interesting part:
Officials said the attack was aimed at that specific flight because certain unidentified Israeli military or government members were on board.

"We suspect there were potential targets on the flight that particular day," one official said.

"The airline never releases the names of its passengers."
That raises some interesting questions. It's a pretty clear implication that either there was a breach in security or there's an insider at work. Maybe somebody who knows more about how secure information about passenger lists might be breached will comment on this.

Zahra Kazemi 

Oct. 29 - The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi continues to be a political fight between the reformists and hardliners in the Iranian government. The official Iran report on Kazemi death highlights this:
TEHRAN -- Iran's reformist-dominated parliament accused hardline Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi yesterday of illegally detaining a Montreal photojournalist and then covering up facts surrounding her death in custody in July. Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian of Iranian origin, died July 10, about three weeks after she was detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during protests against the ruling Islamic establishment.

An intelligence agent charged with her alleged beating death has pleaded not guilty to "semi-premeditated murder."

The parliament holds Mortazavi responsible as the head of the Tehran prosecutor's office.
The reformists control the intelligence agencies, and the hardliners control the judicial agencies.
Parliament accused Mortazavi of covering up facts about Kazemi's death -- he said she died of a stroke -- and having no evidence when he accused her of spying and having no permission to work.

The report said Kazemi was beaten by judiciary officials in Evin prison, north of Tehran. It said 20 guards who witnessed and reported the beating were forced to change their reports.

The report leaves little option for the court but to summon Mortazavi for questioning in the trial.
One of the demands of the Canadian government has been for the return of Kazemi's body to Canada and her son, Montrealer Stephan Kachemi. This has not yet been done.

It's hard to tell how much pressure the Canadian government would have put on the Iranian government to pursue this investigation had not Kachemi, Reporters Without Borders, the Canadian media, bloggers and the Official Opposition kept this issue in the forefront, but it is important to keep the pressure on. Kazemi is one of several journalists who are imprisoned in the Middle East and, had she not been a dual citizen of Canada, her death would probably have been ignored.

We tend to take freedom of speech and freedom of the press for granted, and nothing highlights this more than the incessant whining by lefties that they are being "repressed" when, in fact, the fact that they aren't in jail proves that there is no repression except in their own minds, but, more seriously, their whining insults those who actually are being repressed, tortured and jailed for asking questions, taking the "wrong" photographs and speaking their opinions as free people.

The best way we can aid those who are being repressed is to keep the death of Zahra Kazemi an issue. I think that's the best tribute we can pay to her and her belief in freedom.

UPDATE: The story in the Daily Telegraph says: Yesterday, a parliamentary commission dealing with press freedoms, attacked Teheran's chief prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, who has a reputation for jailing journalists and closing down newspapers.

From Boots on the Ground 

Oct. 29 - Wondering how members of the Iraqi police forces are coping with the recent bombings that have hit their stations and killed their fellow cops? Boots on the Ground reports that their courage and steadfastness remind him of their colleagues in NYC. Inspiring read.

UPDATE: Grr, CNN is talking about getting the Iraqis to do more of the heavy lifting. The last attempt to bomb the UN offices was stopped by an Iraqi policeman. This latest string of bombings would have been worse had not some of the bombers been intercepted and stopped. I dispise this new generation of liberals precisely because of their patronizing attitudes. I'm not a numbers person, but if I find any total numbers for Iraqi police and cadets I'll post them. Damn the media some more.

10/28/2003

Kashmir 

Oct. 28 - From the Times of India:

Indo-Pak thaw making jihadis desperate.
NEW DELHI: Terrorists have struck again in J&K injuring 36 people, a day after the Lashkar threatened renewed strikes during Ramazan. The Army expects more such attacks with winter setting in and the upswing in the Indo-Pak peace process.

Army intelligence sources said, over 2,500 jihadis are waiting across the border in Pakistan waiting for a chance to infiltrate into India before winter sets in.
Good article about something we should be paying more attention to.

As the original poster says, terrorist attacks continue to impede efforts to stabilize hot regions as well as disrupt elections, including the recent killings in Columbia.

(Link via Allahu Akbar.)

Safer NOT 

Oct. 28 - Paul lays a righteous fisking on the Nuclear Safety Commission and their unbelievable decision to not safeguard nuclear reactors in Canada.

Two Towers Extended Edition 

Oct. 28 - There's some nice spoilery information posted about some of the scenes included in the Two Towers extended edition due to be released Nov. 20 here.

Link from Ith who also makes some insightful comments and links to some Return of the King pics.

Two. More. Months

War On Terrorism 

Oct. 28 - Iyman Faris, who also uses the name Mohammad Rauf, was sentenced to 20 years for plotting to cut cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Iyman Faris was sentenced to 15 years for aiding and abetting terrorism, plus five years for conspiracy. According to prosecutors, Faris, 34, travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, carrying out low-level missions for terrorists. He provided sleeping bags, cellphones and cash to members of al-Qaida and met with Osama bin Laden in 2000 at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, his accusers said. He also was accused of providing the terror group with information about possible U.S. targets.
Faris received attack instruction from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. It has been suggested that a second wave of terror was planned after Sept.11 and the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge was intended to be part of that wave.
U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty also said Faris researched the use of ultralight aircraft for al-Qaida missions and communicated with operatives by e-mail using a code he improvised.

[...]

He was born in Pakistan and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. Since his arrival in the United States in 1994, his primary occupation has been as a truck driver.

2 Americans killed in firefight with Taliban 

Oct. 28 - U.S. and Afghan soldiers were in an intense firefight after they were ambushed by the Taliban last Saturday near Shkin, Afghanistan, which is on the Pakistan border.

10 Taliban, and Two Americans were killed in the firefight. The Americans have been identified as William Carlson of Southern Pines, North Carolina, and Christopher Glenn Mueller of San Diego, California. They were said to be formerly with special forces before they became contract workers with the CIA.

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Oct. 28 - Stephanie Rubec writes from Camp Julien that the mechanics are in constant battle with the terrain when patrolling outside Kabul due to the rocky roads travelled by the light vehicles.
Since arriving at Camp Julien in mid-August, the 46 combat mechanics have logged 16,469 hours on 1,150 jobs. They rarely get time off, and there's always a group on call 24 hours a day to repair breakdowns.

The mechanics at Camp Julien service 542 vehicles and trailers. They deal with a shortage of spare parts by cleaning out air filters for repeat use and rebuilding alternators, starters and carburetors.


Mugabe 'flown to South Africa after collapse' 

Oct. 28 - Yet another of the world's leading despots is not feeling too well: Mugabe 'flown to South Africa after collapse':
President Robert Mugabe collapsed yesterday and was flown to South Africa for emergency medical treatment, sources in Zimbabwe said last night.
Ohmygosh, first there was a rumour that Arafat has stomach cancer, then Bin Laden reportedly received a visit from a "foreign doctor" and now Mugabe is ill. How ever can we bear it?
Supporters of Mr Mugabe, 79, were setting up barricades in the capital, Harare, manned by well-armed riot police.

It was reported that senior members of the "Green Bombers", the notorious youth brigades created by Mr Mugabe and responsible for rape, murder and political thuggery, were being flown to the city.

Any transition of power in Zimbabwe would probably be violent as Mr Mugabe's successors in the ruling Zanu-PF party would clash with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Astonishing! There have also been some moves within the PA to consolidate and align position for maximum standing should Arafat die.

Just for the record: we didn't do it. No, really. Everyone knows we suck at assassinating people, and we don't even try because the ones we want to target tend to live even longer than your average despot.

Eurocrats, bureaucrats . . . 

Oct. 28 - European Commission auditors have discovered that the fox is in charge of the hen house. It seems that Brussels failed to shut down a network of slush funds and not only let slush funds stay but allowed abuses to spread.
MEPs called for the head of Pedro Solbes, the economics commissioner, after a final audit report leaked yesterday said missing records and the total breakdown of financial control at Eurostat, the statistics agency, made it impossible to know how much taxpayers' money had vanished or what it was used for.

Investigators identified the loss of £3 million in "a vast enterprise of looting" by senior officials in Luxembourg, mostly through inflated contracts with outside firms.
Suddenly members of the Prime Minister's Cabinet look like a bunch of underachievers.

10/27/2003

Boots on the Ground 

Oct. 27 - Boots on the Ground
I am a Solder of the United States Army, currently serving in Baghdad, Iraq. My goal in making this site is to give people back home and abroad on the daily life for the American soldier here in Baghdad, Iraq. I dont think the media covers this place that well. I will have an unbias'd oppinion, so I'll even be critical toward what the US military does here in Iraq. However, I will also re-iterate, that alot of stories on the news dont always give the full true stories. Anyway, that is my goal, I hope I can get as many people as possable to visit this site.
Count on it!

(Link via Andrew Sullivan.)

Roger's Balancing Act 

Oct. 27 - Interesting transcript from a Broadcasting & Cable interview with Fox News' Roger Ailes Roger's Balancing Act.

The interview persuades me we will probably never get Fox News up here for at least as long as the Liberals run the CRTC:
... I would say, of course, I can be objective about the war and the coverage of the war. But, as a United States citizen, do I want the Taliban to win and subjugate all the women and execute people in stadiums? No, I'm sort of opposed to that. The concept that the journalists are totally objective is crazy. They have friends. They have an education. They've gone to some school where some professor spun their brain out. They've got a view of life. They've got history. They've got parents. They've got people they like and socialize with. They have a view based on their experience. And they bring all that to journalism. Their job is to try to sort through that and get to as much truth as they can get to, which is what we do, every day. (Emphasis added)
Eat that, CBC!

The interview is exceptionally good. Ailes makes some interesting points about advocacy journalism and how he believes Fox News has challenged and changed institutions like the NY Times and LA Times.

(Link via Neale News.)

Al-Qaida planned U.S. forest fires? 

Oct. 27 - I'm not going to try to report on the California fires, but I did note two news items that got my attention: Suspects sought
Authorities announced they were seeking two men for investigation of arson and possibly murder in connection with the fire, which ravaged foothill neighborhoods of San Bernardino and threatened mountain homes. One man was seen Saturday morning throwing something into roadside brush that caught fire, then he and a companion fled in a van, officials said.

The 30-mile fire in the San Bernardino area was formed when two smaller fires merged, covering the region with thick smoke and ash.
From World Net Daily -- Al-Qaida planned U.S. forest fires:
As arson wildfires consumed nearly 200,000 acres in Southern California, destroying 850 homes and killing at least 13, the inevitable question arises: Who started the fires?

While firefighters focus on containing the blazes rather than the detective work necessary to prosecute arsonists, many are wondering about a possible connection with terrorism.
I'll admit it: I'm one of those who wonder, and my suspicions are only increased when reports after the fires break out state that the fire was started by arson but then that fact is downplayed as was the case recently in Western Canada and Australia last year.
In August, Australian authorities launched an investigation into reports al-Qaida planned to spark bushfires in a new wave of devastating terror attacks.

A June 25 FBI memo to United States law enforcement agencies revealed a senior al-Qaida detainee claimed to have developed a plan to start midsummer forest fires in the U.S.

The terrorist hoped to mimic the destruction that devastated Canberra last summer, killing four people and destroying more than 500 homes, as well as in other parts of Australia.

The memo, obtained by the Arizona Republic newspaper, said an unidentified detainee revealed he hoped to create several large, catastrophic wildfires at once.

"The detainee believed that significant damage to the U.S. economy would result and once it was realized that the fires were terrorist acts, U.S. citizens would put pressure on the U.S. government to change its policies," the memo said.
You mean like use bigger bombs? Oh, I probably shouldn't say that. We're still working on the principle that Islam is a religion of peace. It seems like only yesterday that Muslim leaders were urging the US to start the offensive in Afghanistan after the Ramadan festival because it would offend Muslims if war were to intrude on the holiness of that peaceful nature. Why just yesterday at the Baghdad Red Crescent HQ . . .

Oh please, direct your hate to someone who cares. I believe that Islam is a religion of peace just as Judaism is a religion of peace just as Christianity is a religion of peace. It's nothing personal, merely an historical observation. Back me into a corner and I'll cut your heart out. Simple, really.

Back on topic: what I didn't realize was there is a precedent:
In fact, Arab terrorists in Israel have started dozens of major forest fires over the years...

As far back as 1988, Israeli police caught more than a dozen Palestinian adults in the act of setting fires, while other Arabs confessed to arson after arrest. Some fires followed specific calls by underground Arab terrorists. A leaflet issued by the Palestinian uprising's underground leadership called for ''the destruction and burning of the enemy's properties, industry and agriculture.''
Maybe this is just my day of collecting odd bits and pieces of the news, or maybe the quiet speculation is being reinforced by leaked intelligence reports.

I hate wondering about what might be behind cases of food poisoning (I'm kidding) or servers going down (not kidding.)

New French or Old Iraqi Missiles? 

Oct. 27 - According to the Sun (UK), the rockets used in the attack on the Rashid Hotel were new French missiles:
Half of the missiles fired were modern French weapons, said experts -- produced after the arms embargo imposed on Iraq following the first Gulf War.

The shock discovery will further fuel growing concern over blackmarket French arms links with Islamic terrorists.

The French government has furiously denied turning a blind eye to illegal weapon supplies, despite the recent discovery in Iraq of military hardware apparently built there.
This information should probably be taken with a caution, especially as an earlier report that Polish troops found new French missiles proved to be false. An Australian news agency reports that:
The military believes the insurgents are raiding abandoned weapons dumps, a legacy of Saddam's regime, where they find everything from missiles to mortars.

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Oct. 27 - This dispatch from Stephanie Rubec, Dangers in the dark, details the dangerous duty of night patrols in Kabul. It's more dangerous in nighttime Kabul than Toronto, and the Canadian troops are the only ISAF unit who undertake these patrols.

Although there are police in Kabul, they haven't been paid in months and are potentially part of the problem.

Although night-vision goggles give the soldiers the advantage, they use the stars to guide them. And, not suprisingly, the green uniforms are an advantage in the dark.

Good read.

Illegal Immigrants 

Oct. 26 - From Alpha Patriot, a recent report indicates that illegal aliens have changed the makeup of Congress because they are included as residents when seats in the House of Represenatives are reapportioned on the basis of population in districts. He links to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies which indicates that California has 3 new seats and North Carolina has another due to illegal aliens who reside in those districts and 4 states have lost a seat each.

10/26/2003

Sunday Night Funnies 

Oct. 26 - From the blog quebecois:
If you have a power sander, dispose of it now. Throw it in the garbage, give it to Goodwill, annihilate it with a cutting torch.

People with power sanders are like people with pickup trucks. When people need to move on the cheap, they think of people with pickup trucks.
This can only end one way . . .

Susie has some thoughts about moving the clocks around from the viewpoint of someone in Indiana here they stick to the clock all year. Cool.

David wrote a letter to his blog and invokes the spirit of Rod Stewart.

Anger Management has a disturbing story (my favourite kind) about the untimely demise of Miss Piggy.

The Lemon bears the sad tidings that Iraq is being kicked out of the Axis of Evil, but the remaining members are heroically searching for a third member to replace it. There's also a report that Dean is leading in the presidential polls -- in Europe.

The Essay has a house that's easy to care for. Sort of.

Allah Is In The House (actually he's out playing paintball) and has some nice things to say about the NY Times. Sort of.

ScrappleFace is just plain funny. Just start at the top and keep on going.

San Diego Fire 

Oct. 26 - What do you say about a blogger who is reporting on the relentless march of the San Diego fire by looking out his window? Byron of Slings and Arrows is uncomfortably close: this is chilling. This is more chilling.

Take care of yourself Byron.

The Meatriarchy 

Oct. 26 - The Meatriarchy has successfully abandoned Toronto for his new home in Burlington and has started posting again.

Does anyone know where I can find an online Newfoundland Dictionary? (I already consulted my Caper Dictionary) I need to look up fousty.

Transcript of Paul Bremer on 'FOX News Sunday' 

Oct. 26 - The transcript of this morning's interview with L. Paul Bremer is here

UPDATE: Murdoc actually got to watch it, and has makes the point that invoking Sept. 11 overlooks the larger picture about why we need to fight terrorism.

Palestinians in Iraq? 

Oct. 26 - When the Dems and liberals unite to defend the CIA I want to run for cover because I know that the end must be nigh.

But no, it's just partisan politics as usual CIA rejects blame in battle over flawed Iraq intelligence and I don't really care who said or didn't do or any of the sentences that begin Blame Assignment. There are big, gaping holes in that intelligence agency and My Inner Capt. Kirk says I don't care if it takes every man and woman we've got -- I want them off the ship. The President is free to use that phrase, if he so choses.

But at the end of Telegraph article is this gem:
Three former high-ranking officials in Saddam Hussein's Mukhabarat security agency have been shot dead in a suspected punishment attack for assisting American troops, writes Damien McElroy in Baghdad.

Asham Sharif Al-Tikriti, a former ambassador to Tunisia, Mohammad Al-Sabahi, the general director of the secret services section, and Thamur Al-Falahi, a former director-general of the agency in Basra, were attacked at a Baghdad restaurant on Friday night.

An Iraqi intelligence official said the men were helping to trap a network of Palestinian exiles linked to the terrorist leader Abu Abbas that is believed to have supplied suicide bombers for recent attacks on the United Nations headquarters and the Turkish embassy.
Say what? Try Syria threatens to attack Golan settlers if Israel strikes again because toward the end is:
Washington is already planning tough diplomatic and financial action against Syria. Mr Sharaa risked further American criticism in admitting that Syria could not control the border with Iraq and had failed to stop Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians going to fight against American forces.

"We are doing everything we can," he said."We have tightened our checkpoints and are turning people back. But the border is long and we cannot cover it all.

"If America, a rich superpower, cannot stop Mexicans crossing into the United States, then how can we, a poor country, be expected to stop Palestinians getting into Iraq?" he added.
Mr. Sharaa is dissembling. The point is that Syria is encouraging them to go.

Smile and Wave Campaign 

Oct. 26 - This deserves to be read in full: Canuck cheer wins friends because it goes from the smiles and waves to the mission itself: providing security for the war-torn country for the residents
Taylor pointed out that in the areas where he's patrolled, robberies, rapes and crime, which are mostly committed at night when the streets of Kabul are deserted, have decreased.

"In the past two weeks we haven't had anything," he said. "There are women and children who can sleep at night. Internationally it's not a big difference but it is to their family."
and security for the Afghan government as they prepare for the Decemeber summit of the Loya Jirga (council of elders) during which they will be working on the country's Constitution:
Those warlords are duking it out in the many provinces of Afghanistan. They are fighting to gain control of land, and most importantly areas where oil pipelines snake through Afghanistan.

In an effort to destabilize Interim President Hamid Karzai's hold on Kabul, terrorist factions have infiltrated the capital.

They have been identified by intelligence reports as Chechnyans, Yemens and Saudi Arabians, intent on wreaking havoc in ISAF and Kabul.

So Canadians on patrol are always on the lookout for specific vehicles and people, calling on the rapid response force at any sign of the suspects.
Remeber they who serve.

By the way, have you sent your
greetings or parcels to the troops in Afghanistan yet?

Terrorism and Canada 

Oct. 26 - There's been a lot of strange symmetry this week with a round-up of terrorists in and from Canada in yesterday's National Post combined with (unofficial) allegations that Maher Arar gave names to Syrian interrogators and the rationale behind the re-routing of El Al flights away from Toronto Airport.

That there are people in Canada who have been trained by al Qaeda is hardly a surprise: after all, why would Canada be any different in this respect from France, the UK, Australia, Gemany, and the United States?

What bothers me most is government reluctance to publicly address the issue. Toronto Sun columnist Gary Dunford was more irritated than humourous today in his column Flying in the Dark:
REMAIN CALM: Like most, I say we should be told absolutely nothing about why Israeli jetliners have avoided Pearson airport for three days. Canadians, like mushrooms, grow best in the dark.
The story behind the diverted El Al flights from Toronto, according to this, was a telephone threat to an Israeli security agency to bring down an El Al airplane at Toronto Airport report. Officials are unsure if the phone call was made from a pay phone or a cell phone. (Airport security officials spoke on condition of anonymity. Sigh.)

The good news: somebody is apparently examining and seeing if dots connect:
Security officials are also trying to determine if a rocket launcher found in a postal shipment is linked to the threat.

The Mounties and CSIS are tracing the origins and destination of a German-made rocket launcher, found by Canada Customs officers among 14 caches of weapons, entering the country at a Mississauga postal plant from April 2001 to March 2003.

The weapon is designed to be fired from the shoulder and can be outfitted with heat-seeking missiles.

Meanwhile, B'nai Brith Canada is urging members of the Jewish community to be careful in light of the El Al alert.
According to this, Canada's Minister of Transport, David Collenette is considering re-routing more El Al flights destined for Toronto to other Canadian cities, which may seem to solve the problem in the short term but doesn't adddress security concerns. That's about as official a comment on the diversion we're likely to get.

Now this: Canadians warned to avoid travel to Saudia Arabia because intelligence reports indicate that terrorists are planning future terrorist attacks. The warnings specify that Americans, the British and Canadians should be especially vigilant around the upcoming Ramadan:
"It is the Embassy's assessment that terrorist groups may place special operational significance on the upcoming month of Ramadan and American citizens are therefore urged to be particularly vigilant during this time."
According to this, one reason the warning was issued was because explosive belts were found during a raid in Saudi Arabia.

An unusual warning was issued by the FBI to Muslims in the US:
On Friday, the FBI urged extra vigilance for possible terror attacks and violence against Muslims in the United States during Ramadan.

In its weekly bulletin to 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, the FBI said it has no credible information that an attack is being planned by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network or any other terror group during the month.

But attacks overseas have been timed in the past to coincide with symbolic dates, the FBI said, adding that "the possibility of such an attack in the United States cannot be discounted."
Is the FBI warning about attacks on Muslims from non-Muslims or Muslims? Al Qaeda certainly has no scruples about killing Muslims, as has been evidenced most recently in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, and it's no secret that many American Muslims are actively trying to root out terrorist cells within their own communities, something al Qaeda would want to punish. I'm just speculating, but when I see a non sequitur like the above my anteannae go hippity-hop.

Or maybe it's the persistant whispers from the Netherlands and Australia among other places that there is a quiet struggle within the Muslim communities that overtly seems to revolve around whether women should or not should wear headscarves, and more ominously, what to do about women who chose to forgo them, and this fairly well-circulated report by Theodore Dalrymple on the public housing ghettoes in France (ghetto is my terminology), and some further musings from Mark Steyn.

(If you follow only one link, make it the one to Mark Steyn. It may startle you.)

(NP and Dalrymple links via Right On!.)

UPDATE: MSNBC has an article on the harsh life of Muslim women in Paris, which is considerably more on target than the pathetic NY Times article A Crime of the Young Stalks France's Urban Wastelands.

UPDATE: The threat to El Al is officially over. Officials are remaining tight lipped.

Obligatory Baseball mention 

Oct. 26 - Guess I should mention today's Big News: even if the Cubs didn't play in the World Series, the National League won.

I'm over it already. (Wait'il next year.)

Peace march on Washington 

Oct. 26 - Two reports on yesterday's demonstrations, here and here.

Only a few hundred in San Francisco? Things are definitely changing for the better in California.

A picture is worth a lot of words: here is a unique photographic report from Belligerent Bunny Blog. Excellent work.

(Bunny link via Instapundit.)

10/25/2003

New Blog Showcase 

Oct. 25 - I'm voting for Irreconcilable Musing's post on the recent distributed denial of service attacks on Hosting Matters that closed down Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, Anti-Idiotarian Rotweiller and others.

This post issues a call to battle in Defending the Blogosphere Front in the War on Terrorism. The target of the attack was Haganah, an Israeli based website that monitors the internet and works to expose and shutdown terrorist-sponsored sites
Having a sizable portion of the blogosphere taken down is annoying. But stop for a moment. The people who carried out this hack come from the same pool of radical Islam that brought 9-11 to us. The more I read about what Internet Haganha does, the more I came to realize that this weekend's DDoS attacks are nothing less than another front of the War on Terrorism.

Then it hit me. I can do something about this. (Original emphases)
Please read the post and see if you too can help.

Out of here 

Oct. 25 - I'm going to be out for the rest of the morning, so don't forget the stupid clocks tonight and have a safe one.

Donors pledge UN extra £8bn to rebuild Iraq 

Oct. 25 - Billions for palaces, barely a cent for reconstruction from those world renowned humanitarians in the governments of France, Germany and Russia, but others have met the challenge as Donors pledge UN extra £8bn to rebuild Iraq.
The United Nations secured nearly £8 billion in loans and grants to rebuild Iraq at a donors' conference in Madrid yesterday, meeting expectations but falling short of the figure sought by the United States and the World Bank.

The pledges came on top of £12 billion already promised by America, bringing the total offered to around £20 billion - £13 billion short of what the World Bank estimated Iraq's overall requirement to be.

"This is an excellent start. Iraqis are shedding tears. Humanity has stood beside them," said Mahdi Hafez, Iraq's planning minister.

US officials, who had lobbied hard to persuade reluctant donors to contribute, offered fulsome praise for the conference, which they said marked a turning point in international support for Iraq.

But Russia, France and Germany, which led opposition to the war on Iraq and only grudgingly agreed to a UN resolution setting up a multinational force for Iraq last week, failed to pledge any financial aid.
This is a supply your own snark post.


Missile threats at Pearson Int'l? 

Oct. 25 - Second El Al flight avoids Toronto airport following security threat.:
TORONTO (AFP) - A second El Al flight in 24 hours avoided Toronto's airport and landed in nearby Hamilton, after a security threat diverted the plane to two Canadian airports on the first leg of its trip, a transport official said.

On Thursday, an El Al flight to Los Angeles that had been due to stop in Toronto was diverted twice, first to Montreal's Mirabel airport and then to Hamilton's airport. The plane then headed to Los Angeles without incident.

"On its return flight from Los Angeles last night, El Al decided that it wanted to operate using the Hamilton airport again, which it did and has proceeded on to its final destination into Israel," said Peter Coyles, a Transport Canada spokesman.
This next report confirms that El Al had missile threats. The threat is being investigated by CSIS.
HAMILTON -- An El Al flight was diverted from Pearson Airport to Hamilton because of a missile threat, an Israeli source confirmed yesterday. The flight carrying 180 passengers let off Toronto-bound passengers in Hamilton before continuing to Los Angeles on Thursday. The return flight to Israel also landed at Hamilton instead of Toronto on its way back yesterday.

Transport Minister David Collenette said the plane was diverted again because El Al believed the threat against the plane continued. He would not give details, but an Israeli source told The Canadian Press that it involved a ground-to-air missile.
Wasn't another El Al flight from LAX to Pearson diverted within the past year? It was before I started to blog and thus I have no ready source, but maybe another Canadian blogger has kept track. I'll update if I find it. (Keep in mind my memory could be playing tricks, you know.)

(Yahoo! link via Neale News.)

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Oct. 25 - Another dispatch from Stephanie Rubec: Kabul bomb alert:
CAMP JULIEN, Afghanistan -- Soldiers in Kabul are on the lookout for a highly trained female suicide bomber whose target is Canada and other members of the coalition fighting terrorism, Sun Media has learned. Jamila, trained in Iran, "is planning to attack U.S. or coalition targets," warns a document bearing a picture of a veiled young woman. The document was distributed at Camp Julien where 1,900 Canadian soldiers are based.

The Canadians have also been warned that some Afghan women wearing burkas -- a traditional garment that covers them from head to toe -- are known to be smuggling explosives and weapons into Kabul and around its outskirts.

[....[

This week both the commander of the multi-national International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Canadian commander in Afghanistan warned of an infiltration of terrorists in Kabul.

Those terrorists, from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Chechnya, are plotting attacks to destabilize ISAF and the interim Afghan government.

German Lt.-Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth, ISAF commander, said earlier this week those terrorists are working for the Taliban, al-Qaida and a terrorist leader named Gulbudeen Hekmatyar and are poised to use "maximum force and unjust force."
May God watch over and protect the troops.

Cecilia Zhang 

Oct. 25 - 9-year old Cecilia Zhang is still missing, and thousands are holding out hope that she will be found and returned to her family. A few articles today:
Toronto Vigil shines light of hope, and
A tearful plea.

I'm not going to speculate on who has Cecilia and why, but join my prayers that whoever has her contacts her parents and ends this nightmare.

No label suitable for this one 

Oct. 25 - I'd hardly call throwing your baby to the floor because you already thought it was dead the sign of good parenting, but then juries often confound me: 'Gutsy' jury acquits dad:
A Toronto father who twice threw his 13-pound baby boy onto the floor believing he was already dead was a free man yesterday after a jury made the "gutsy" decision to acquit him. Sebastiao Simpson was found not guilty on a second-degree murder charge arising from the death of tiny infant Schadrac.

Schadrac, who was born prematurely and died on Jan. 14, 2001 at nine months of age, succumbed to a brain and skull injury from likely more than one blow to his head.

[...]

Simpson testified that Schadrac's mother, Emiliane Seti-Mayinga, wanted to take the baby to church that day and he disagreed. They got into an argument which evolved into a tug-of-war over the baby, who was pulled from his dad's arms and fell to the floor. Simpson said he concluded his son had died in the fall and was so grief stricken, confused and irrational that he reacted by throwing him down twice more.

Schadrac was found by emergency personnel with vital signs absent. He was revived, but with no obvious brain activity, and was taken off life-support in hospital 12 hours later.
A "tug-of-war" over a baby? Sorry, but I am certain that, had one of my kids fallen and I feared they were dead, whatever stupid argument had caused such a fall would have been forgotten and I would have called 911 and administer whatever first aid I could, including mouth-to-mouth rescuscitation.

Ah, never mind. There are no words to express the contempt I feel for parents whose power struggles are more important than the sanity and health of their kids.

I could let it go with "grow up" but sadly Schadrac will never have that chance.

Bin Laden spotted? 

Oct. 25 - Maybe Bin Laden still is among the living, although that assertion only highlights questions as to why he won't show his face on the routine videos pledging death and destruction. From Camp Julien, come some reports that Bin Laden has been spotted:
CAMP JULIEN, Afghanistan -- Osama bin Laden is hiding out in the mountains less than 200 km from Kabul, according to the latest intelligence reports obtained by Sun Media. The leader of al-Qaida, recently re-invented under Fath-e-Islam (Victory of Islam), has been seen in the Koh-I Kandic mountains in the province of Kunar, an ultra-religious conservative region that supports bin Laden and is pro-Taliban.
The Afghan defence department says that Fath-e-Islam operates two training camps in Pakistan and is trying to get surface-to-air missiles in China.

Bin Laden's hiding place is also reportedly in a Pakistani village 80 km from the Afghan border, according to a top Pakistan newspaper, and a classified document with the Int'l Security Assistance Force says he is hiding with the Guzer tribe in an area said to be inacessible. The same document says Bin Laden was recently visited by a "foreign doctor" to treat his kidney problems. (So where is al-Zawahir, who is supposed to be Bin Laden's personal physician?)

Hall: 2% tax hike 

Oct. 25 - This isn't news, it's reality: Hall: 2% tax hike and a plan to pass a bylaw to limit all increases to the rate of inflation. (I wonder if that will apply to councillors' expenses and salaries?) The real giggle, though, is her approach to sub-contracting city services:
Hall said she would entertain the idea of contracting out some services now provided by city workers.

"I don't see that necessarily as the answer to all of these issues," she said. "I think I'm interested in questions of productivity. I think people in this city expect good service -- efficient service." (Emphasis added)

She added in many cases, contracting out city jobs does not yield cost savings.
Please, how much is the standard salary in the private sector for a position which consists of putting people on Endless Hold and passing a member of the public from person to person, none of whom can answer the questions posed but can cheerfully pass them onto another employee who will place them on Endless Hold?

Just your tax dollars at work, folks.

10/24/2003

Iraqi official says limited German, French help won't be forgotten 

Oct. 24 - Ayad Allawi, the current head of Iraq's U.S.-appointed governing council, may have uttered the quote of the week when he was commenting on the limited German, French help for the reconstruction of Iraq:
"I don't think the Iraqis are going to forget easily that in the hour of need, those countries wanted to neglect Iraq."
Steve at Enter Stage Right points out that the Arab countries appear to be donating what they found in the couch.

Jen finds common ground with Mr. Allawi.

Sometimes our country feel so isolated, and it's good to remember that:
Real friends don't spend all their time telling you what good friends they are. Real friends don't need to.
You can tell who your friends really are by what they do, not by what they say.
Here is a list of the countries that have boots on the ground in Iraq at USS Clueless and his commentary.

It's Friday, which means a Victor Davis Hanson piece up at the NRO and today's is The Event of the Age
[a successful consensual government in Baghdad] will confront radical Islam with a competing ideology that possesses a far more revolutionary message than the Islamists' tired old culture of death that ruined Afghanistan and Iran, ..
Read the whole thing.

Sony pulls gun-toting separatists from new game 

Oct. 24 - Boy, some people are sure sensitive. Both the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and some people in Quebec object to a portion of the Sony game Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain that features "instrument of world peace" Gabe Logan taking down some Quebec separatist terrorists who are trying to take over the Toronto subway system.

Sony pulls gun-toting separatists from new game for reasons that don't actually make a lot of sense. The hero of the game isn't after separatists, he's after gun-totin' separatists which I should think would please the politically-correct gun-registering types that can always find a microphone:
"It's difficult not to be made to feel like a target when you know that games distributed to large numbers are inviting the player to shoot at separatists," the Societe St Jean Baptiste's Jean Dorion told CFCF News.
It's a mainstay of any game that you lose points if you target someone who isn't targeting you, sir. Release the subway car if you want to live.
The Toronto Transit Commission was also upset by the game.

"The fact is someone is putting the Toronto subway as a terrorist site, that is a very dangerous thing to do," spokeswoman Marilyn Bolton told Canadian Press before Sony changed its plans.

"One of the things we have to be careful about is letting some person who's doing something that really doesn't seem ethically correct pit Canadians against Canadians."
I have no idea what the heck she's talking about. Who the heck is this "we," the TTC? The TTC is worried about ethical correctness? Does she have the faintest clue which city council member is on the Commission?

UPDATE: Howard Moscoe is the city councillor, for the Torontonian who emailed me.

Maher Arar 

Oct. 24 - Another subject in a long list of question is Maher Arar (why did the US deport him, why did the Syrians want him and why did they let him go) so why would I be surprised to read this: Arar provided info to Syrians: gov't sources:
Senior government officials in various departments have told CTV News that while in custody in Syria for almost a year, Canadian Maher Arar provided information to the Syrians about al Qaeda cells operating in Canada.

They say Arar also provided information about the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamic group linked to Osama bin Laden, and information about four other Canadians:

Arwad al-Bushi, a Syrian-born Canadian being held in a Syrian jail;
Abdullah al Malki, another Syrian-born Canadian being held in Syria;
Ahmad Abou-el-Maati, an Eyptian Canadian in custody in Egypt; and
Mohamed Harkat, born in Algeria, who is being held under an anti-terrorism security certificate at the Ottawa Detention Centre.

Kerry Pither, an Arar family spokesperson, talked to Arar Thursday night.

"What he's asked me to say is that he's outraged government sources are leaking information to the media," Pither told CTV News, "and if they had any information about him, why is he walking around free."
I don't know why he's walking about free, but I'm with him on the "government sources leaking information" complaint.

Maybe this will add some perspective: Palestinian gunmen kill suspected collaborators.

There really is a moral crisis in our governments on this continent. I don't blame reporters, they are supposed to report whatever dirty laundry they can uncover after all, but I Am Tired Of Leaks. I am tired of wondering if the leaks are true, I am tired of the strain of arguing with people who interpret rumours as fact and believe "senior officials" actually exist, and I am tired of finding the retraction of a leaked rumour by the ubiquitous "senior offical" buried in the paper that first aired the incorrect leak.

For example, what does this leaked information about Maher Arar do to the cases the government may be building against Mohamed Harkat? Will adverse pre-trial publicity be used as a reason to declare the defendent cannot receive a fair trial?

Are leakers as this one malicious, or are there just a lot of dumb people in government who are easily flattered and like to boast about things they know that you and I don't know and which an all too obliging reporter is willing to publicize?

UPDATE: According to this in the Saturday Sun, at least one Liberal MP got that these revelations put Arar and his family in danger.

The suddenness of Arar's release and the leaked information about what he may have told Syrian interrogators make it look as though his release was done out of malice rather than concern for his rights. It sure puts Canada in an awkward position.

Foaming-At-Mouth Status Uncertain 

Oct. 24 - I have been in a particularly nasty mood this past 24-hours.

I received an Eligible Elector Card which entitles me to vote in the upcoming Toronto municipal election, and all I need to do is bring this card and a piece of ID which has my Toronto address.

There's just one problem: I'M NOT A CITIZEN OF CANADA!

I've lived in Canada for over 20 years and I never had this problem before, and I blame it on all the forms and questionnaires and surveys the governments have sent out (there have been a lot of them this past year.)

Statistics Canada knows my status because I ticked the box that said "Landed Immigrant" when I completed my census form.

Ontario knows my status because I told a Registrar I wasn't a citizen when she knocked on my door this summer in preparation for preparing the voter's list for the recent Provincial election. (Full disclosure: I told her twice because she didn't believe me the first time and asked me if I was sure. Uh-huh)

The Office of the Attorney General knows I'm not a citizen because the information was requested as part of the routine jury duty screening questionnaire I completed last year.

I finally located the form to amend my status online, but it doesn't list my particular issue and there is no designated "If Other, Please Specify" section.

What to do? What to do?

I did the ethical thing, of course. I sat on hold at the Election Information Line, but foolishly failed to prepare adquately by reading this.

Trust me, one government agency is like any other government agency. Canada, the USA, Ontario, California, Toronto, Pinole, it doesn't matter. Bureaucratese transcends national sovereignty, languages and common sense.

I hold this truth to be self-evident, all man and women are created equal and are endowed by their governments to life on hold, liberty to listen to shudderingly-awful musack and the pursuit of a live human to address the problems caused by bureaurcratic red tape.

I listen carefully to the menu options voiced by the electronic drone; if there's no mention of We are Recording You To Ensure Quality Control (ha!) I beam happily because at least I can say whatever I chose when a electronic voice comes on to tell me I'm still on hold.

Oh lighten up. I usually just mutter sarcasms because I figure they might be monitoring me and not telling me, right?

More later. Or not. I may do as my oldest recommends: frame the damned thing as a reminder to never ever complete government forms because you never know how they'll screw up perfectly straightforward answers to their deceptively simple questions.

Saudi-funded school in Germany 'linked to terrorist attacks' 

Oct. 24 - Make of this what you will: Saudi-funded school in Germany 'linked to terrorist attacks':
Explosives and a testament like those written by suicide bombers have been found at the home of a man linked to a Saudi-funded school, German secret service sources said yesterday, intensifying pressure for the institution to be closed.

The King Fahd Academy in Bonn was set up eight years ago with £10 million from the Saudi royal family, and was hailed as a "cultural bridge between Germany and the Arab world".

Now it is alleged to be a magnet for Islamic fundamentalists. A spokesman for the city of Bonn said: "According to information from intelligence sources people have been observed at the school over the past few months who have contact with terrorists or are themselves suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks. By that I mean teachers and the parents of pupils."
As I mentioned yesterday, in all the hoopla over the leaked Pentagon memo the fact that Secy. Rumsfeld poses questions about madrasses has been either ignored or overlooked.

I really don't know the truth on this issue. Whereas I don't doubt that some Saudi-funded schools could well be terrorist recruiting and training grounds, I don't know if that is the exception or the rule. Oh well, stay tuned.

10/23/2003

Moscow theatre siege by Chechen Islamist terrorists 

Oct. 23 - Jen remembers another anniversary
Moscow theatre siege by Chechen Islamist terrorists.

Second Rumsfeld Memo Leaked to Media 

Oct. 23 - Yet another Rumsfeld Memo Leaked to Media.

North Korea Horror 

Oct. 23 - I still haven't been able to get through all of the recent report from the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea mostly because I can only get so far before I have to stand up and pace. It is horrible, and I doubt anyone can read it without feeling as though we ought to be doing something.

Steven den Beste over at USS Clueless has a great many thoughts on this report and what action we might take, but I can't select one item to isolate for quote here so don't expect me to.

Get comfortable and link here. It's time well spent.

That 50s show 

Oct. 23 - First, hearty congratulations to Charles who's just bought a new (sort of) house, and second, take time to ponder some wise observations about That 50s show:
Decades, of course, seldom conform to mere chronology, and the Fifties were arguably the longest decade of the twentieth century, beginning 25 June 1950 along the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula and ending 22 November 1963 in the city of Dallas. In the intervening years, we've been taught that the Fifties were a perfectly dreadful era, riven with paranoia and choked with conformity, the spectres of Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy glaring down upon the landscape, and June Cleaver forever stuck behind her vacuum cleaner.

But a truer picture of the Fifties, I think, emerges when you stand these arguments on their heads. Tailgunner Joe's obsession with communists, however overwrought, was based on fact. Jim Crow was about to be plucked: in 1954, Linda Brown won out over the Topeka Board of Education, and the following year Rosa Parks was arrested, precipitating the Montgomery bus boycott. Innocuous pop tunes were displaced by rhythm and blues and its marginally-legitimate child, rock and roll. And while Ward may have been the nominal head of the Cleaver family, it takes less than half an hour to notice that June actually ran things.
It's too easy to make superficial judgements about superficial observations, and lots more rewarding to observe how things evolve for the better. Of course it would be harder to sit around and hate ourselves if we did that!

Day By Day by Chris Muir 

Oct. 23 - Another winner from Day By Day by Chris Muir.

He just keeps getting better.

Belated Happy Birthday, Jay Currie 

Oct. 23 - Jay Currie is celebrating his blogging birthday. Actually it was on Oct 15, 2002, but Jay missed his own birthday. (They say the memory is the first to go when you have children.)

I first ran into Jay's blog last April when I found the Canadian Friends of America website and (blush) learned that there were some fine Canadian bloggers to supplement my war blog reading.

Thanks Jay, and keep blogging.

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