Thursday, August 31, 2006

Win A Date With Ruby Dhalla

If the Conservative Party were to auction off a lunch date with Helena Guergis for a fundraiser, the media would be saturated with condemnatory articles and editorials blasting the party for its sexist attitudes and treating its women like prize cattle.

But since it's Michael Ignatieff's campaign raffling off Ruby Dhalla, the usual commentatrices have fallen silent.

But give credit to Ignatieff for realizing that nothing's better than an attractive woman for raising money: she's up to $3,500 with eight days before the close of bidding.

That's more than all time with all the other MPs in the auction combined.

Would you rather spend less and end up on a golf course with John McCallum instead?

Compare And Contrast

The Liberals prided themselves on nuanced diplomacy, moral neutrality and studied evenhandedness in its dealings with Middle East dictatorships.

Zahra Kazemi paid the price.

The Conservatives have taken sides unequivocally with Israel, the West, and liberty.

Ramin Jahanbegloo is alive, free, and unharmed.

Canada has not become a significantly stronger power, militarily, economically, or politically, during the past three years.

But showing a little more strength of character and determination gets results from people who only recognize strength.

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Amateur Jihad Hour

You don't need to spend years training in some madrassa/boot camp in the mountains of Pakistan to become a jihadi. You don't even need to know Osama Bin Laden's third wife's brother's cousin' next door neighbours' camel driver.

Just get behind the wheel of your SUV and floor it.

Or go to the beach and beat up any woman in a bathing suit.

Your 72 virgins await!

Iggy Pops Off

Michael Ignatieff's commitment to Canada and the Liberal Party are well-known throughout the land. So great it is, that he might just decamp for Harvard or Oxford agains if he doesn't get the top job:

Toronto MP Michael Ignatieff won't commit to running in the next election if he loses his bid to become leader of the federal Liberal party.

"Depends who's leader," Ignatieff said yesterday when asked at a meeting with the Toronto Star editorial board if he would run for the party in the next election if he loses the leadership vote in early December.

However, Ignatieff, 59, considered by many to be the frontrunner in the race, denied having indicated that there are some leadership hopefuls for whom he would not run.

"No. It really is that I have to look what I am looking at," he said.

However, he said, nobody should "doubt my devotion" to the party, adding he's been a committed Liberal since he was 17.

"There are all kinds of ways you can stay committed and involved and active in the Liberal Party of Canada, believe me, without being an MP," said Ignatieff, who was elected for the first time in Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding in the Jan. 23 vote.


Liberals should love Ignatieff's sense of entitlement to power and position; it's what defines their party above all else. Ignatieff didn't come back here for any other reason except to be the man on the white horse. Becoming just another cabinet minister, or worse, another opposition MP, is beneath this great public intellectual's talents.

Thanks for the condescension, Count Ignatieff.

Source: Toronto Star

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Window Dressing

Too many people must have been asking too many uncomfortable questions about the role of women in Islam, because the Islamic Society of North America has decided to stick a Canadian convert woman up there as its president:

The Islamic Society of North America (www.isna.net), the largest religious organization representing Muslims in North America, has elected Dr. Ingrid Mattson as its President. She is the first woman to head the organization.

Dr. Mattson, who earlier served as the first female ISNA Vice President, is Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of Islamic Chaplaincy at the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT. Dr. Mattson, born in Canada, studied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (B.A. '87) and earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999.


Dr. Mattson has numerous publications exploring the relationship between Islamic law and society, as well as gender and leadership issues in Muslim communities. Her forthcoming book, The Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Societies, is being published by Blackwell Press. Dr. Mattson lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

ISNA members also elected Imam Mohammed ibn Hagmagid – popularly known as Imam Magid -- as the organization’s Vice-President. Imam Magid is the Executive Director and Imam of The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS; www.adamscenter.org). He is also Chair of Fairfax Faith Communities in Action, member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington Assembly, and Board Member of the Fairfax Youth Partnership. Imam Magid lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and five children.


Local Muslims can point to Dr. Mattson and claim, "See! We're not all misogynists who stuff their wives in burqas to hide the bruises! Look how much we respect the contributions of educated women--revert women, at that!"

But they've left her on a tight leash with an imam from Sudan (Darfur, anyone?) who's a graduate of Al-Azhar University (the Harvard of the madrassas) in Cairo as vice-president--no doubt to make the real decisions while Dr. Mattson acts as the public relations face of ISNA.

The people who want to be fooled, and whom ISNA expects to be fooled, will be.

And from ISNA's point of view, that's all that matters.

Three Jeers For Kofi

Even considering who did it, just the fact that it happened warmed my heart upon reading of it:

UN chief Kofi Annan was booed by a crowd chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans on Monday as he toured Beirut’s southern suburbs devastated by Israel’s war against the militant group.

Dozens of men, women and children angrily waved pictures of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and shouted ‘Allah, Nasrallah and all of the suburbs’ as the UN secretary general emerged from his car to survey the destruction in the heart of the Haret Hreik area, a Hezbollah stronghold.

....

One woman, clad in a black chador, laid a portrait of Nasrallah face down on the tinted glass of one of the moving vehicles.

“To hell with the United Nations and Annan,” said Jamil Bashir Al-Abed, 31, a resident of the area whose home was damaged by the Israeli bombardments.

“Let him look at what the UN and the United States have done and at all this destruction,” he added, pointing to flattened building and tons of debris. “This is their work.”

A group of women carrying posters of Nasrallah angrily denounced the United Nations saying the world body was in collusion with Israel.


What an ungrateful bunch. The UN has done more for the Islamist cause, short of actually organizing an invasion of Israel, than any other multilateral organization, and this is the thanks it gets!

More proof that trying to play the "honest broker" only gets people thinking that you're not honest, and probably flat broke.

Source: Dawn.com

Toronto Off The C-List

The Centre of the Universe's newspaper of record is distraught and dismayed that the exemplar of multicultural tolerance and diversity (or is that tolerant diverse multiculturalism? diverse multicultural tolerance?) has been left off somebody or other's list of world class cities:

Vancouver and Victoria have the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains.

Quebec City and Montreal have history and culture.

But what does Toronto have to entice tourists from around the world? Not much, according to the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.

Four Canadian cities ranked in the top 10 U.S. and Canadian destinations in the popular travel publication's annual World's Best awards.

Vancouver ranks the highest at Number 6, followed by Quebec City, Victoria and Montreal.

But noticeably absent is Canada's biggest city.


You mean that the world's largest collective sense of smugness isn't a sufficient tourist attraction? Or the greatest and most aggressive army of panhandlers? Not even the hottest cauldron of silently seething ethnic tensions? I'm all verklempt.

Yet another pretension to world-class status exposed along with Toronto's insecurity about same. If New York had been left off the list, would the Times have even noticed?

Source: Toronto Star

Monday, August 28, 2006

Benoit Sauvageau, 1964-2006

Bloc MP Benoit Sauvageau was killed today in a car accident, leaving behind a wife and four children.

A sad reminder of the fragility of life, at one moment busy with the mundane matters of life, the next taken cruelly away therefrom:

Duceppe said Sauvageau was on the phone to his office staff before he died asking him to attend an event in his riding. He said Sauvageau was on his way to a caterer before the accident.


Remember him, and his family, in your prayers.

Bomber's Remorse

Perhaps we were all a little too quick to call Israel's half-hearted campaign against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon a victory for the terrorists:

The leader of the militant group Hezbollah says that if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn't order the capture of Israeli soldiers that ignited the war in Lebanon.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah in the Aug. 27 TV interview. (New TV/Associated Press) "You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not," Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Lebanon's New TV station broadcast Sunday.

The war devastated Lebanon, where at least 850 militants and civilians died in Israeli bombardments and land attacks, while Hezbollah rockets and fighters killed at least 157 Israeli civilians and soldiers. Estimates of the cost of repairing damage to Lebanese buildings, roads and infrastructure run into the billions of dollars.

Hezbollah fighters crossed from Lebanon into northern Israel on July 12, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two more. Israel responded with attacks that lasted until a UN-organized ceasefire took effect on Aug. 14.

"We did not think, even one per cent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude," Nasrallah said.


Time is making matters clearer. Hezbollah's propaganda victory is looking increasingly hollow outside the Islamic echo chamber; too many reports of Hezbollah rockets being fired from civilian areas at Israeli civilians, and the utter devestation left behind, have started making even knee-jerk anti-Israelis take notice.

Hezbollah looks less like a brave popular resistance force and more like what it is: Iran's sock puppet.

At least among common opinion, anyway. The elites who govern us are still blithering along about "moral equivalence" and "proportionate response."

Source: CBC

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Swordpoint Conversion

The two Fox News journalists released after two weeks in captivity at the hands of Palestinian militants apparently secured their release, and their lives, by apparently converting to Islam:

The kidnappers, meanwhile, released new video of Wiig and Centanni Sunday. In a written statement attached to the video, the kidnappers claimed the two men had converted to Islam.

In one segment of the footage, Wiig is seen sitting cross-legged on the floor, dressed in a beige robe and reading from crumpled notes, delivering an anti-Western speech. He also read out an Islamic blessing in Arabic, his fingers following the written text.

"The people of Gaza have suffered for many years in what is effectively a prison camp," he said in a halting voice, his face expressionless. "They have not been free to come and go. Some say this was all started because of 9/11, and of course that wasn't true.

"It is Apache helicopters firing hellfire missiles made in America that kill the residents of Gaza. America and George Bush are seen as being evil in some people's eyes in this part of the world," Wiig said. "It it's time that the leaders of the West listen to the people, take notice of the millions protesting in the streets, stop hiding behind the `I don't negotiate with terrorists' myth."

In another segment, Centanni said he has converted to Islam and raised his index finger in an oath of allegiance to the religion.


Those who remember the Vietnam War will remember how POWs used to read out anti-American propaganda statements, without enthusiasm and often withh subtle signals of hostility, just to stay alive and avoid worse tortures.

These men's "conversions" to Islam should be seen in the same light.

But their eventual renunciations will put themselves in even further jeopardy, for the penalty for "apostasy" from Islam is death.

Perhaps this will be a new method of Islamic terror: kidnap non-Muslims (especially Western Christians and Jews), publicly broadcast their "conversions" to Islam, release them, wait for them to renounce their coerced "conversions", and then declare a fatwa on them.

That way, the kidnap victims can never really escape their captors.

Source: CBS-5

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Not Tonight, Dear, I Have A Headache....

....is not an acceptable excuse in Pakistan:

A woman Member of National Assembly (MNA) in Pakistan has said that married women in her country should not be treated like “buffaloes” when it comes to men forcing sex on them, and be given due respect.

Kashmala Tariq, who is also a member of the NA’s Select Committee on Women’s Protection Bill, proposed that a husband having sex with his wife without her consent “should be tried under rape charges”.

Men should not have sex with their wives against their will, the Daily Times quoted her as saying.

According to her, other members of the committee, including Mehnaz Rafi, Zahid Hamid and Wasim Sajjad, had endorsed her viewpoint.

However, Rashmala’s proposal received a jolt when federal Minister of State for Religious Affairs, Dr Aamir Liaqat Hussain opposed her idea saying that it was “un-Islamic to stop husbands from having sex with their wives even if they were doing so without their consent”.


Meanwhile, the sounds of crickets chirping and tumbleweeds blowing through windswept halls reverberate through the office of Status of Women Canada, following a hysterical crying jag about an Ottawa housewife's call to take away their funding.

Contraband

In many a courtroom, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy--and that's just counting the lawyers and the judge.

So naturally you'd find even more of the same among the arraigned, accused and spectators in the courtroom where the man who made Pickton Farms sausage infamous will face his judgment:

They thought they had done their homework and planned for all possibilities when they introduced tough new security measures at the front door of the courthouse where Robert Pickton was on trial for first-degree murder of 26 women.

But the sheriff's office did not anticipate what they would find on belt buckles, in breath-mint containers and on chains around the necks of people going into the courthouse for other trials.

During the first six months of the trial that began Jan. 30, hundreds of people have been pulled aside for trying to bring weapons and drugs into the courthouse. The unanticipated bounty included 2,196 knives, 33 cans of pepper spray and 30 syringes. Officials seized drugs — marijuana, crack cocaine, amphetamines, crystal meth and heroin — on 54 occasions.

They found six items identified as ammunition, explosives and/or gun parts, including one box of ammunition with 50 bullets for a .22-calibre gun.

The weapons came in many guises, including a belt buckle, a pen and a crucifix. The sheriffs found a knife, called a push dagger, in a black square designed to fit in a wallet. They discovered drugs in inconspicuous places, such as cigarette packages and breath-mint containers.


Sounds like people are anxious to finish Pickton off because the courts won't. Let the guard down for half a day and he won't be alive at the end of it.

Source: Globe and Mail

Friday, August 25, 2006

She Is Woman, Hear Her Roar

I've met the lady who runs Big Blue Wave; I can say that she is one of the most unlikely people to strike fear and terror in the hearts of the establishment.

Yet her campaign to pressure the federal government to shut down funding to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women is causing many an MSM reporterette and feminist blogger to break down in hysterics at the thought.

One wonders what exactly SOW has been doing with its $23 million a year to improve the lot of Canadian women. The only women's lot who have been improved, it seems, would be those who work for SOW and get grant money from it.

If SOW were to close up shop tomorrow, would women be forced en masse back into the kitchen to cook, clean, and breed? Would their rights to vote and hold property in their own name be taken away? Would they never be permitted to hold a thought of their own without their husbands' or fathers' permission?

What has SOW done for women lately except to advocate policies that treat women as the helpless weaklings or sexual playthings things SOW claims that they aren't?

Well done, Suzanne.

You, a supposedly downtrodden housewife, have shown yourself to be a stronger and more independent woman than the feminists who wring their hands and weep at the threat of losing their government sugar daddy.

Garbage Power

Halton Region is going to turn its excess garbage into electricity.

And if it works, they'll use Garth Turner as a hot air heating source too.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto Voted Off The Solar System

Definitions are no longer constant any more, it seems.

Up is down, black is white, good is evil, and Pluto isn't a planet anymore:

Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto was no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is — and isn't — a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have laboured since Copernicus without one.

The gathering in Prague has decided that Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus Saturn and Neptune remain planets, but Pluto becomes the first member of a new category, known as dwarf planets.

The historic vote officially shrinks Earth's neighbourhood from the traditional nine planets to eight. But the scientists made clear they're as sentimental as anyone about the ninth rock from the sun.

....

Much-maligned Pluto — named for the god of the underworld — doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: “a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.”

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of “dwarf planets,” similar to what long have been termed “minor planets.” The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun — “small solar system bodies,” a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.


But fear not for Pluto: all it needs is someone to make a Charter challenge on its behalf and the courts will redefine it as a planet again.

In fact, there may already be an argument that calling it a "dwarf planet" is discriminatory, according to one perspicacious (if politically correct) Globe and Mail combox commentator:

keith stringer from Cincinnati, United States writes: Actually, the newly proposed terminology might be troubling from a social perspective. Under the new terminology, it is to be accepted in elementary school classrooms that 'dwarf planets' such as Pluto are not real planets. This terminology sets up the obvious possibility of childhood verbal cruelty, along the lines that a dwarf human is therefore not a real human. Dwarfism is a condition that impacts thousands of human families - perhaps after receiving those corrective opinions from geologists, the astronomers should have consulted pediatricians in their search for an appropriate term. There must be other terms besides 'dwarf' that could be used to describe small size.


You see? Just as the concept of "civil union" was considered derogatory to homosexual couples, so too the concept of "dwarf planet," with the bonus of being insulting to persons with human growth disabilities.

Pedants may point out that the Charter does not apply to celestial bodies, but our learned justices are capable of trying to shape the laws of nature to their ends as they do the laws of the land.

Nothing For Money

The Liberal Party has finally publicly admitted that fundraising is its Achilles heel. And what a painful admission it is:

For the first time, the federal Liberal party is bluntly admitting that it has been outgunned by the Conservatives in adjusting to Canada's tough new political fundraising laws.

In a strongly worded report that calls for massive downsizing of the party structure, a "red-ribbon panel" warns it's crucial that the Liberals confront the reality of an unwieldy, top-heavy organization and over-reliance on now-banned corporate donations.

"Our party's structure has left us disconnected from members and small-donation supporters, thus greatly impeding our ability to raise money," says the report obtained by the Star in advance of its circulation to party rank and file.

....

The Liberals raised just $1.3 million from about 6,500 contributors in the first quarter of this year. The ruling Conservatives raised almost five times as much from nearly five times as many donors — $5.6 million from 37,000 contributors.

"It's no secret that, for years, we have been hard-wired as a party to rely on large donations from corporate donors," the report says. "We have fallen victim to never asking supporters for money."


Getting Joe Liberal instead of Joe Liberal's employer to pay the bills is going to require an attitude shift in the Liberal Party: namely, that it isn't the natural governing party of Canada and that its grassroots count for more than warm bodies for campaign work.

The Conservative Party's broad donor base is a reflection of the old Reform/Alliance populism. People give money with the expectation of being listened to; whether the party always hears them or not, at least average Tory member has the sense of being a member of a grassroots party.

And curiously enough, it's a reflection of the loyalties of the old Progressive Conservatives after the 1993 debacle to their party. Those who stuck by the PCs in their nadir were those who were more likely to give money as a result of their loyalty.

The Liberals, never having had to face such an existential crisis, have never felt the need for serious change.

Now they're suffering for it, in the pocketbook.

While Tories pass the hat, Grits pass the buck.

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pump Up The Terror

Another member of the broad strata of society gets caught in an embarrassing situation involving airport security:

A man who panicked out of embarrassment when asked about a suspicious object in his luggage at Chicago's O'Hare airport and said "bomb" could go to jail.

Mardin Azad Amin made a preliminary appearance in court Wednesday, charged with felony disorderly conduct as a result of the Aug. 16 incident in which he was too embarrassed to tell airport screeners the suspicious object was part of a penis pump.

Twice when asked to identify the grenade-shaped device on the X-ray screen, Amin replied "a bomb," the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Amin later told investigators his mother was standing nearby and he didn't want her to hear what it really was, the report said.

The charge carries a possible prison sentence of three years, prosecutors said.


Consider the subtext: this man finds taking loaded bombs on airplanes less embarrassing than telling a little white lie to hide his performance anxiety.

Perhaps he was afraid that he couldn't handle his 72 virgins.

Source: UPI

Divide And Be Conquered

The Liberal Party owed much of its electoral success to the fact that it had decided, through immigration reform and multiculturalism, to dissolve the old Canadian people and elect another, who could be managed as discrete ethnic blocs, to be conciliated or played off each other as needed.

Unfortunately for a brokerage party, some parties would rather break the party than be brokered.

And that's what happening to the Liberals right now, as they discover that they can't resolve their own Middle East crisis:

Key figures in the Liberal Party warned yesterday that discipline within its caucus of MPs is unravelling over the issue of the Middle East conflict, in a party stretched over a long leadership race.

Some candidates for the leadership called for MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj to be removed from his post as deputy foreign affairs critic over his reported assertion that Hezbollah should be involved in Mideast negotiations and removed from Canada's list of banned terror groups.

That dispute is only the latest that has seen MPs and senators criticize their party's Mideast position, as well as the decision of Mississauga Liberal MP Wajid Khan to accept a post as Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's adviser on the Middle East.

Leadership candidate Bob Rae said he has concerns about MPs "freelancing" their views in public comments that will undermine confidence in the Liberal position.

"It's a free world, but I think there has to be some discipline in recognizing the need to try to come to a common approach and a common point of view. I think that's what people look for in a political party. That's why we're all supposed to be working together."

MP Irwin Cotler, who has pushed fellow members to come to a stronger defence of Israel in the crisis, said Liberals agree on the basic principles, but the party's message is inconsistent because it is in the midst of a long leadership race.


The Liberals agree on only one basic principle: power at all costs.

But its Islamic and Jewish blocs hold to even higher principles than putting the Liberals in power.

The two sides cannot, and will not, be reconciled indefinitely within the party.

Knowing the Liberals, we know which side they'll take. They can read census figures and birthrate projections, after all.

Source: Globe and Mail

Borys The Spider

Looks like someone's feeling the heat for trying to treat Hezbollah as a legitimate organization instead of rhe terrorist gang that it is:

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj has denied reports he said Hezbollah should be taken off Canada's terrorist list.

The politician, from the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre, is one of three opposition MPs touring the southern region of Lebanon on a fact-finding mission.

The group has come under fire for comments suggesting that Canada should be more open to talking with Hezbollah. Wrzesnewskyj was quoted in some newspaper reports Monday as saying the group should be removed from Ottawa's official list of terrorist organizations.

Wrzesnewskyj said Monday he favours changing Canada's laws that forbid any contact with known terrorist organizations. He said the law undermines efforts to seek lasting peace between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas after a brutal 33-day war.

But Hezbollah's terrorist status should not change, he said in an interview from Lebanon.

"I've said all along that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and will continue to be," Wrzesnewskyj said. "Where I have difficulty is with the legislation that says a group on the list cannot be communicated with."


Now just why anybody in Canada should feel the need to talk to Hezbollah escapes me, unless it be for nefarious or naive purposes.

For a good many concerned Canadians, probably naive ones, in the hopes that we can revive the old myths of Canada as peacekeeper and honest broker to the world long enough to appear to be relevant to the Middle East situation.

But for a few others--including a virulent yet vocal subset within the opposition parties, academic and public policy fields--an opportunity to put Canada squarely on the side of the Islamic bloc against Israel.

Hezbollah doesn't lose much by being on Canada's blacklist, or gain much by being off it.

But the battle over the blacklist matters greatly to the Liberal Party, which has seen the census figures and is fighting to see whether losing the Jewish vote will be more than offset by locking up the Muslim vote.

Source: Canoe

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Apocalypse Not

August 22 has come and passed in much of the world, but perhaps most importantly, in Tehran and Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's ravings about unleashing death and destruction upon the earth to celebrate the anniversary of Muhammad's midnight ride to heaven and hell on his centaur Buraq have proven to be just more of his usual gaseous rhetorical excesses.

Instead of incinerating Tel Aviv or New York, the power and might of the Iranian armed forces instead fell on one lone Romanian oil rig:

Romania said Iranian troops opened fire from a warship and seized a Romanian oil rig Tuesday off the coast of Iran, holding its workers in an incident stemming from a commercial dispute.

Sergiu Medar, a national security adviser to Romanian President Traian Basescu, said the seizure resulted from a commercial dispute Iran is treating "in an extreme way." He gave no details.

Romania's Foreign Ministry called on Iranian authorities to immediately free Romanian crew members being held by the troops who took over the rig. The rig operator said seven Indian crew members had been released but 20 Romanians were still detained.

"We are dealing with a commercial dispute that is being treated in an extreme way by the Iranian authorities," Medar told Realitatea TV. He added that Iranian authorities had not confirmed the incident. Iranian officials and state media offered no immediate statements.

The company that operates the rig was in Iranian courts earlier this year over a dispute involving another one of its oil rigs, the Romanian financial weekly Saptamana Financiara has reported.


I would remind the Iranian government that Romanians have had their ways of dealing with arrogant Islamic interlopers in the past:



Source: Washington Post

Your Name Here

One of the advantages of long-running tenure in government is being able to build a legacy, not just in the statutes, but also in bricks and mortar, and leaving your name and the names of your cronies carved therein for eternity.

Thus why our federal government has many more buildings named for Liberal politicians than Conservative politicians.

But that may be about to change:

The handful of Conservative political names on federal buildings includes Mr. Diefenbaker -- with the Saskatoon airport named in his honour -- Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir John Thompson, a justice minister under Mr. Macdonald, George Etienne Cartier, Macdonald's co-leader of the Great Coalition at Confederation, former prime minister Arthur Meighen and Harry Stevens, a Conservative MP who opposed Asian immigration at the turn of the 20th century.

In contrast, former Liberal prime minister Lester B. Pearson, Mr. Diefenbaker's arch-foe, has his name on two buildings -- the Lester B. Pearson Building on Sussex Drive, the headquarters for the Foreign Affairs Department, as well as the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada's busiest airport.

Louis St. Laurent, the Liberal prime minister who succeeded Liberal wartime prime minister Mackenzie King, has been honoured with his name on two buildings as well, one in Hull and one in Quebec City, as has Pierre Trudeau. Montreal's Dorval Airport was recently re-named the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, while a proposed Federal Court building in Ottawa that will not be constructed for years has already been named after him.

....

Public Works Department policy stipulates that the minister of the department is responsible for approving the names of all federal government structures, including bridges, buildings and other installations. A copy of the policy says the department's deputy minister is formally responsible for submitting proposed names to the minister.

In a change from past practice, Public Works Minister Michael Fortier last month invited citizens of Regina to submit nominations for naming a new federal building in the Saskatchewan capital.

....

There are 82 named or dedicated federal buildings in Canada, according to a list provided by the department of Public Works -- 27 are named after Liberals, nine after Conservatives, two after other political leaders and 44 after other historical figures.


The usual practice was to wait until people (with the exception of the Royal Family) had died before naming public buildings in their honour.

But this practice has fallen by the wayside, so why not think of a few living Tory worthies to whom government buildings can be dedicated? Surely there's a building worthy of bearing Brian Mulroney's name. Or Ralph Klein's. Or even Garth Turner's.

Or maybe we can start renaming airports again. Joe Clark International Airport in Calgary, anyone?

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Hezbaloney Update

When I drew an analogy yesterday between Hezbollah and the Bloc Quebecois, I didn't expect someone to take it up and twist it like this:

Windsor West MP Brian Masse believes Canada should consider dropping Hezbollah from its list of banned terrorist organizations, and compared the group’s political wing to the Bloc Quebecois.

‘’Canadians in Quebec have elected those members,'’ Masse said Monday. ‘’I don’t like it. They’re dedicated to a separate state in Canada. But would we then extract them from the Canadian government?

‘’That’s what someone outside looking in could say. Why don’t you eliminate them? We have to respect the democratic process. Whether we like it or not, they’re democratically elected.'’


I'm not sure if Gilles Duceppe would be flattered or insulted by such a bald comparison to Hezbollah, but there's still a spark of his Marxist revolutionary past in his soul somewhere, and it came out when he marched under the Hezbollah flag at a recent demonstration in Montreal.

If the BQ revives the FLQ and ends up being turned into its political wing, Masse's analogy will be apt. But until that day, it's just another example of the NDP's naivete and wilful blindness about the nature of terrorism and sham democracies in the Middle East.

Source: Blue Blogging Soapbox

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hezbaloney

Imagine if the FLQ still existed and the PQ and BQ acted as its political wings.

Imagine if the governments of Canada and Quebec had effectively ceded control of the area around Quebec's borders to the FLQ, from which it could launch attacks with impunity against the rest of Canada and even the United States.

Imagine still that no government in either Ottawa or Quebec could be sure that the FLQ would not turn its guns on them, and made numerous concessions to it just to stay in office.

Would the public be demanding that the FLQ be treated as a legitimate actor in the democratic process, as these politicians are demanding for Hezbollah to be treated?

Dropping Hezbollah from a list of banned terrorist organizations in Canada would aid the cause of peace, according to two MPs now on a fact-finding mission to Lebanon.

When asked if he was in favour of Hezbollah being taken off the terror list, Etobicoke Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj said: "Yes, I would be." He likened the situation in the Middle East to Northern Ireland, where "if there wasn't the possibility for London to negotiate with the IRA, you'd still have bombings."

"Hezbollah has a political wing. They have members of parliament. They have two cabinet ministers. You want to encourage politicians in this military organization so that the centre of gravity shifts to them."

New Democrat Peggy Nash, who represents the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, said her discussions in Lebanon had led her to believe "that it is just not helpful to label them a terrorist organization.

"If the political parties in Lebanon who may disagree with Hezbollah ... can figure out a way to work with Hezbollah and try to get along internally, then perhaps we should take a cue from that."

This was the message that both MPs said they would bring back to their caucuses, and eventually to the House of Commons, when they return to Canada later this week.


A political party with a paramilitary or terrorist arm cannot possibly be considered a legitimate participant in a democratic system, such as Lebanon has, on paper anyway.

The very definition of responsible, democratic, constitutional government precludes the notion of changing or controlling the government through illegal and unconstitutional methods.

What Hezbollah can't get with ballots, it tries to get with bullets.

And not just in Lebanon or Israel either, but wherever it can influence foreign policy.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Shoot Back

It seems rather odd that an armed force needs to be told that it has the right to shoot back against its enemies, but such is the nature of United Nations peacekeeping:

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to recommend Monday that the rules of engagement of the enhanced UNIFIL force to be deployed in Lebanon include opening fire on Hizbullah where necessary, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

While UN Security Council Resolution 1701 mandated an enhanced UNIFIL force to help the Lebanese Army deploy south and along the border with Syria, it did not spell out the operational procedures of this force.

....

The question of the rules of engagement was addressed last Thursday in New York at a meeting of those countries considering sending troops to the force, with some of those countries opposed to being able to open fire, concerned that Hizbullah would then shoot back.

Nevertheless, reports reaching Jerusalem Sunday indicated that Annan, in interim suggestions that are expected to be presented Monday, would give UNIFIL clear authorization to open fire.

"This is to date the most explicit expression of the upgrade to the UNIFIL force that has yet been received," one senior diplomatic official said.
Nevertheless, even if the UNIFIL forces had authorization to open fire, whether they would indeed do so and subject themselves to a firefight with Hizbullah is questionable. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office reserved judgment, saying they wanted to see the recommendation before responding.


Any takers on when the UNIFIL decides to reinterpret its authorization to start shooting at Israel unprovoked instead?

Source: Jerusalem Post

Under The Bridge

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.--Anatole France

City officials have warned a man living under a Gardiner Expressway off-ramp that they will demolish his makeshift house this week in a move that could spark a confrontation with anti-poverty activists.

Chris, 44, who said he sometimes uses Gardiner as his last name, said he has lived under an off-ramp near Spadina Avenue for eight years in a small three-room house built out of scrap wood.

But city officials have repeatedly told him in recent weeks that planned rehabilitation of the Gardiner's concrete pillars means he has to move.

Chris has refused an apartment and various support services offered by outreach workers, saying that because of his religious convictions he does not recognize the right of landlords to charge rent.


The anti-poverty activists who insist on this deluded man's freedom to squat in a shack under a highway overpass are not his friends, their fevered protestations to the contrary.

They should be more correctly styled pro-poverty activists, because they fight hardest to keep their charges suffering, whether it be by defending their right to freeze on the streets in winter, or to panhandle, or to be prevent their involuntary committment to mental hospitals.

They are the most cruel of persons because they do others harm in good conscience.

This man needs help, but his "advocates" will make sure he never gets it. For his own good, you see.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Firing Line

Nuanced diplomacy and appeasement in dealing with Iran is at last bearing fruit:

Iran on Sunday test-fired a surface-to-surface short-range missile a day after its army launched large-scale military exercises throughout the country, state-run television reported.

"Saegheh, the missile, has a range of between 80 to 250 kilometers (50 to 150 miles)," the report said. It said the missile was tested in Kashan desert, about 150 miles southeast of Tehran, the capital.

Saegheh means lightning in Farsi.


Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Source: Iran News

Body Count

The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.--Gen. George S. Patton

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Taliban bodies were said to be piling up Sunday after heavy fighting with Afghan and Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan.

Between 60 and 72 Taliban insurgents were killed in battles that began late afternoon Saturday and lasted throughout the night, NATO said.

The death toll could not be independently confirmed.

There were no casualties among soldiers from NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.

However, sources said as many as seven Afghan police died in the battles while another said four Afghan government fighters died and four others were injured.

Bodies and body parts were found scattered throughout the area following the fighting, which was part of a "deliberate operation," NATO said in a statement.


This bit of news puts the deaths of 26 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan over four years in much-needed perspective.

For every one of ours they kill, we're killing a dozen more of theirs.

Just once, I'd like to see the Canadian media highlight the number of enemy fighters we've sent to meet Allah.

Of course, if they did, the same people who are bleating that too many of our men are getting killed would start complaining about our "disproportionate response."

Source: Canadian Press

Saturday, August 19, 2006

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In Vino Veritas

A disgraced Toronto lawyer convicted of laundering money is blaming the booze for his thefts.

Nonsense.

I've knocked back a few in my day, but the last thing on my inebriated mind was to turn thief.

A man doesn't turn to crime because he drinks.

It's never the beer talking, or acting.

Source: Globe and Mail

Friday, August 18, 2006

An Epidemic Of Nonsense

The political dog and pony show that was the 16th International AIDS Conference is packing up and leaving for the next town, in time for Torontonians to take in the more agreeable displays at the CNE.

Tony Clement really wished he was in Stephen Harper's place right now, because he drew the short straw and had to go:

The federal minister of health says he didn't make funding or policy announcements at the International AIDS Conference because it was becoming difficult to have a “rational discussion.”

During a visit to Nova Scotia on Friday, Tony Clement said that activists and “so-called experts” had started to skew the dialogue towards grandstanding political demands during the weeklong gathering in Toronto.

“That conference in our view was becoming a place where you couldn't have a rational discussion,” he said during an interview.

....

During the week, Mr. Clement postponed but then didn't reschedule a funding announcement on Canada's contribution to combatting the epidemic.

During a candlelight vigil, he was heckled by members of the crowd as he lit candles in honour of different groups in society that have been greatly affected by AIDS.

By week's end, Mr. Clement said he'd had enough, given that Canada has doubled its domestic funding for AIDS and is about to announce additional funding beyond its current $800 million commitment to the international effort.


Look how much attention was lavished on the celebrities who lent little more than their names to the cause, and on the protestors who offered nothing more than slogans and street theatre, and how little was given to the scientists, physicians and care workers who have been doing the real work in dealing with AIDS.

For some activists, AIDS isn't a disease to be cured: it's a cause to be exploited.

Source: Globe and Mail

Man Of The Year

Sometimes media hagiographies are embarrassing and disgraceful, such as Alexandre Trudeau's recent love letter to Fidel Castro in the Toronto Star.

Sometimes they're just hilariously inaccurate:

A prestigious British business magazine owned by the Financial Times has named Premier Dalton McGuinty its world "personality of the year."

Foreign Direct Investment magazine, which is publishing its August-September issue today, has bestowed the honour upon McGuinty for making Ontario a more business-friendly jurisdiction by promoting research and innovation.

Praising him as "outgoing and upbeat in that very North American way," the five-year-old publication hails his "infectious enthusiasm" and notes that "should Ontarians run short on energy, they could always plug in to their high-octane leader."


The residents of Caledonia could not be reached for comment.

Source: Toronto Star

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who Writes These Scrawls On Bathroom Walls

Stephen Harper must be sweating bullets now because the graffiti artists are scrawling insults at him on sculptures now:

The words Stephen Harper and AIDS have appeared together in many situations, but never quite like this.

At a busy intersection in Toronto stands a two-metre tall sculpture created from the letters that spell AIDS, the four letters compressed into two rows within a perfect square. An angry would-be artist scrawled "Stephen Harper you shame us!!" on the base of the statue.

The Prime Minister has been criticized for not attending the International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

The artist who helped create the sculpture isn't concerned at all that people are drawing on his work — he is actually encouraging people to add their own message.

"It's a site for dialogue; it's intended to be written on. It's like a public blackboard," said AA Bronson, one of the Canadian artists who created the piece in 1989.

The comments written on the sculpture usually mirror the issues at the moment, but they are generally AIDS-related, Bronson said. This is the first time a message has been directed at a specific political figure, he said.

"There has never been something so pointed before. It's always been much more general," Bronson said.


From the outrage directed at Mr. Harper for not making at least a cameo walk-on, you'd think that he'd been boiling up fresh superstrong airborne AIDS virus in his secret underground lair to unleash on the unsuspecting citizens of Toronto as his greatest evil revenge yet!!! BWAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA!

Yet if he had shown up, he would not have been thanked for coming, but made another target of gratuitous abuse and undeserved blame for the spread of AIDS.

So why give these people the satisfaction?

Let them rant on about this non-issue while the grownups actually deal with the real problems surrounding AIDS.

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

All Wet

The confusion of needs with wants and with rights is a testament to the powerful hold that the notion of free-floating rights has in our society.

The United Church's proposed resolution to boycott bottled water is further evidence of that confusion:

Richard Chambers, the social policy co-ordinator with the national office of the church, said that water is a human right, and no one should profit from it.

"We're against the commodification, the privatization is another way to say it, of water anyway, anywhere," he told CBC News.

"And bottled water that we see being sold in Canada is just an example of that. The thin edge of the wedge of the privatization of water."

Chambers said congregations would be asked "to put their energies and their resources into making sure there is safe public access to water locally."


A man dying of thirst or suffocating from lack of air might be said to have his right to life infringed upon, provided that someone is actually acting against him with the intent to deprive him of life, rather than his deprivation arising out of mere accident or misadventure.

But to speak of the need for water as an abstract right to water is meaningless. As well say that man has a right to gravity.

Further, if it is the economic exploitation of water that concerns the United Church so much, then what differentiates the sale of drinking water from the generation of electricity from water power? Or from the use of water in irrigation? Or industrial processes?

If even the mere use of a product in commercial enterprise is commodification, then isn't everything under the sun--and radiating from it--commodified?

Source: CBC

Planetary Shift

The solar system is about to get a little bit bigger. I don't pretend to understand the scientific reasoning behind it, but the astronomers are about to add three new planets:

The universe really is expanding — astronomers are proposing to rewrite the textbooks to say our solar system has 12 planets, rather than the nine memorized by generations of schoolchildren.

Much-maligned Pluto would remain a planet — and its largest moon plus two other heavenly bodies would join Earth's neighbourhood — under a draft resolution to be formally presented Wednesday to the International Astronomical Union, the arbiter of what is and isn't a planet.

"Yes, Virginia, Pluto is a planet," quipped Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The proposal could change, however: Binzel and the other nearly 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries meeting in Prague to hammer out a universal definition of a planet will hold two brainstorming sessions before they vote on the resolution next week. But the draft comes from the IAU's executive committee, which only submits recommendations likely to gain two-thirds approval from the group.

Besides reaffirming the status of puny Pluto — whose detractors insist it shouldn't be a planet at all — the new lineup would include 2003 UB313, the farthest-known object in the solar system and nicknamed Xena; Pluto's largest moon, Charon; and the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it was demoted.


I can't help but think about the differences between scientists redefining planets and judges redefining marriage. The former seem to take much more care and study than the latter, who just blithely blast away with their pet theories.

Source: CBC

Hezbollah's Puppet Masters

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Iran masterminded the July 12 attack on an Israeli military squad by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah which ignited a major military offensive against the group by the Jewish state, Iran Focus has learnt.

A well-placed source inside the clerical establishment told Iran Focus that prior to the start of hostilities Tehran dispatched several top officials including the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to attend a summit in Syria which took place on July 4 and focused on ways to upset the regional balance in the Middle East.

Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, travelled to the Syrian capital last month, staying in Damascus between July 1 and 6 under the cover of pilgrimage to a revered Shiite Muslim shrine.

Simultaneously, several top Hezbollah officials arrived in Damascus for what they claimed was to meet Hassan Khomeini.


Do we need any more reason to deal with Iran, now, before it finishes building its nukes?

Source: Iran Focus

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fruit Of The Poisinous Orchard

Jason Cherniak and Dispatches From The Socialist Gulag are reporting that David Orchard is about to give Stephane Dion his endorsement.

Cherniak thinks that getting Orchard on side is the best thing to happen to Dion since getting plucked out of academe to save the country:

Unlike others who recently announced their support, David Orchard has the ability to bring his supporters with him. We saw it in both his runs for the PC leadership (with 20% of the members) and we particularly saw it when he put Peter MacKay over the top. Support from Orchard would give Dion a major boost in rural Canada. I also happen to know that Dion has too much credibility to ink any deals for support.


A few small quibbles here:

David Orchard could not have done what he did in two runs for the federal PC leadership had the party not been moribund and open to a mass takeover of riding associations by a single-minded political adventurer.

His supporters will follow him anywhere, but they will not stay around to help the Liberals if Orchard leaves.

Orchard's own personal record with the electorate is dismal--a mere 12% of the vote in Prince Albert, in fourth place, for the PCs in the 2000 election. Even worse than the party's total share of the national vote. His own riding association also deserted him on the merger vote in 2003, returning a unanimous slate of pro-merger delegates.

Orchard will have named his price, and he will not make the mistake of simply taking Dion's word for it again. That price might just be Ralph Goodale's seat in Wascana and a seat in Cabinet.

Imagine International Trade Minister David Orchard.

And shudder.

No Farewell To Arms

In case you had any doubt as to who won the war between Israel and Hezbollah (and even to call it a war between a state and a terrorist organization should leave no doubts):

A compromise agreement now being hammered out between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government would allow the Shi'ite guerillas to keep hidden weapons in south Lebanon, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Tuesday.

While Hezbollah would need to keep the weapons it possesses south of the Litani River hidden, an agreement for areas north of the river would be "left to a long term solution," the paper reported.

If the proposed compromise is accepted Tuesday by the Lebanese government, it would violate the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 ending the war in Lebanon. The resolution rules that the Lebanese army and UNIFIL may be the only armed forces in the territory between the Litani River south to the Israeli border.


This deal with Hezbollah--presumably made in the fear that Hezbollah might take over all of Lebanon--will allow Hezbollah to keep rocket launchers in people's backyards for the next go-round with Israel.

And it's also a veiled threat to the Lebanese government itself. There will never be an agreement to keep hidden weapons out of northern Lebanon. The only long term solution acceptable to Hezbollah, and to its Iranian and Syrian backers, is for Hezbollah to take over all of Lebanon.

Which will give it an even stronger base for the next war with Israel.

The UN wanted this ceasefire. Let the UN enforce it!

Source: Haaretz

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mo Who?

You never heard of Maurizio Bevilacqua before.

You'll never hear of him again.

Power tends to corrupt, but only Power Corporation corrupts absolutely.

Besides, the Liberal Party ain't big enough for two rightish-leaning Toronto Italians.

Castro Death Watch

Fidel Castro is probably not dead yet. But his epigoni are already shovelling the dirt over him with these carefully-written public statements:

FIDEL CASTRO was seen for the first time since undergoing surgery two weeks ago when the Cuban Government released a series of photographs of the Cuban leader to mark his 80th birthday yesterday.
The President said in an accompanying statement that he felt “very happy”, but the wording of the text gave the impression that he was far less optimistic than his aides that he would return to work.

“To say the objective stability (of my health) has improved considerably is not to invent a lie,” he said in a typically convoluted passage. “(But) to say that the recovery period will last little and that there is no risk would be absolutely incorrect.”

SeƱor Castro, apparently preparing Cubans for a life without him, said that they should remain optimistic while being “ready to face any bad news”. “The country is marching on and will continue marching on perfectly well,” he said.


If Castro were really on the mend, he would have been up and about for his birthday, giving one of his interminable speeches on live TV.

The euphemistic language could not be clearer: the old tyrant is going to push off.

The dictator is always immortal right up until he dies.

Source: London Times

No Peace In Our Time

Barbara Amiel exposes the fallacy underlying the ceasefire against Hezbollah: that a determined enemy will lay down its arms after having secured advantages it could never have won without them:

Hezbollah is disciplined, armed, committed to their cause to the point of suicide and supported by Iran and Syria plus a whack of noisy Islamists around the world. Those who have demanded they give up their arms -- the UN and some members of it -- are largely irresolute, indeterminate and agnostic at best when it comes to the UN Charter and the beliefs for which it is supposed to stand. Given this balance, it is pointless rhetoric to expect that Hezbollah will line up at points designated by the French foreign minister or the New York Times and quietly hand over their weapons.

Incredible though the belief in such a notion is, the tooth fairy is being asked to grant an even more wondrous wish. The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana hopes Hezbollah will simply decide they don't need arms, having attained their political aspirations, though he is a bit foggy about what that means. His wish is to wake up and find Hezbollah "dissolved."

Hezbollah and its supporters are not so foggy. They are happy to explain their aim is to see Israel eliminated from the Middle East along with all Western influence. That done, their cause will have been achieved and Hezbollah will "be playing a role in the political life of Lebanon, but not be part of any other thing," just as (Javier) Solana hopes, though I suspect in that scenario swords are unlikely to become ploughshares.


Why should Hezbollah honour the ceasefire and disarm? The UN's own resolution doesn't demand disarming, and even if it did, Hezbollah knows that the UN could never disarm them even if it wanted to.

In fact, the UN resolution has given Hezbollah the recognition it has always sought--that it is the effective government of southern Lebanon. And given Ehud Olmert's irresolution, also its first real victory over Israel.

Hezbollah won't quit while it's ahead.

Expect the rocket attacks to resume, heavier than before, presently.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Does This Burqa Make Me Look Fat?

The Islamist propagandists at Al-Jazeera bring us an article that is both unintentionally hilarious and deeply saddening at the same time, as we discover that Arab women can be as silly about fashion when it comes to choosing black potato sacks as Western women:

Reema and her friends are slowly parading around a Doha shopping mall, making sure their fashionable floor-length coverings are seen.

The glamorous girls shroud their jeans and colourful tops with long black robes, mixing fashion with religion and tradition.

"I think it looks really elegant. There are so many abayas on the market at the moment - the latest being the farasha, or butterfly-style abaya. It isn't tight-fitting like the French-style abaya, which is made to fit the body.

"It's loose with tight sleeves often embroidered with colourful threads."

The abaya is an over-garment worn by many Muslim women in the Gulf. It is the traditional form of hijab, or modest Islamic dress, for many countries of the Arabian peninsula.

But for many women, the abaya is worn with style and purpose. It is another form of expression that offers advantages over Western outfits.

Denise Al-Shammari, an American convert to Islam who lives in Kuwait, wears the abaya strategically.

"It's a convenience thing ... I don't wear the abaya, but if I have to take the kids to school in the morning, I may just whip it on over my pyjamas."


Not really convenience for most of these women, but a necessity. If they don't go out covered head to toe, they risk being treated as "whores" by the local men, who apparently are all so uncontrollably horny that the sight of a woman's ankle turns them into rampaging sex machines.

And of course, it's all their fault if they get groped or raped or worse.

This isn't modesty, but prudery.

But of course, this is all because Islamic men honour their women so much:

"The Prophet Muhammad told women to cover themselves and to not show their shape. A Muslim woman must cover everything except her hands and face, and this is the best way to do it.

"Women should not show their beauty to male strangers."

Women's dress in Islam is based on a principle of modesty.

"In Islam we value women, like jewels and diamonds. They are so precious that they should be covered. They are not like pieces of broken glass lying on the street," Al-Basyouni said.


Well, an abaya does cover all those nasty bruises. But you can't help but hurt the ones you love.

The Tyrant I Loved

The fevered protestations of the Cuban government to the contrary, everyone senses that Fidel Castro is on his way to somewhere hotter than Havana.

Alexandre Trudeau's essay about the friendship between his father and the Cuban tyrant could have run unedited in Granma, the Castro regime's propaganda paper:

Fidel may have been at first a political contact of my father's but their relationship was much more than that. It was extra-political.

Indeed, like my father, in private, Fidel is not a politician. He is more in the vein of a great adventurer or a great scientific mind. Fidel doesn't really do politics. He is a revolutionary.

He lives to learn and to put his knowledge in the service of the revolution. For Fidel, revolution is really a work of reason. In his view, revolution, when rigorously adopted, cannot fail to lead humanity towards ever greater justice, towards an ever more perfect social order.

Fidel is also the most curious man that I have ever met. He wants to know all there is to be known. He is famous for not sleeping, instead spending the night studying and learning.

He also knows what he doesn't know, and when he meets you he immediately seeks to identify what he might learn from you. Once he has ascertained an area of expertise that might be of interest, he begins with his questions. One after the other. He synthesizes information quickly and gets back to you with ever deeper and more complex questions, getting more and more excited as he illuminates, through his Socratic interrogation, new parcels of knowledge and understanding he might add to his own mental library.

His intellect is one of the most broad and complete that can be found. He is an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything.

Combined with a Herculean physique and extraordinary personal courage, this monumental intellect makes Fidel the giant that he is.


Leave aside this hagiographic nonsense for a moment; it is so exaggerated in its praise that it is obviously unbelievable.

Consider the more chilling conclusion to be drawn: Pierre Trudeau was attracted to Fidel Castro and the tyrannical society he built because he saw something of himself, and the country he wanted to remake, in Castro's Cuba.

Both men did indeed work destructive revolutions upon their country, although only Castro had the power to imprison and execute dissenters, and reduce his country to complete beggary.

Recent reports of Trudeau's youthful flirtation with nationalist fascism during the Second World War only underscore the nature of the man's attraction to authoritarian state-worship.

Imagine what he might have done to Canada, had Canada been a much more unstable country.

And look at the ideas he has imparted to his son.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hokum Night In Canada

While much of the world concerns itself with a minor spat in the Middle East, it's reassuring to see that Canadians are worrying about a genuine crisis: Hockey Night in Canada being sold to CTV!

The issue is simple, right? CTV/TSN is offering much more money for the rights than CBC could hope to pay. So naturally, Hockey Night in Canada should go with the highest bidder. Seem fair?

Not to many of the commentators on the Globe and Mail website, who regard such a simple business decision as a virtual act of treason:

Glenn Finockio from Winnipeg, writes: If there is no 'Hockey Night In Canada' on CBC, then really... there is no Canada as we knew and loved it. Say it ain't so.

....

Ira Levy from Toronto, writes: Does anyone thing HNIC will be the same on TSN-CTV? While I enjoy watching our feeble leafs try thier darndest to make it to the Cup finals, there is something that all Canadians share.. and it begins with that ever soo popular ringtone..I mean theme song. While I am all for the Capital Markets, I think there needs to be a little bit of tradition left in Canada. It just makes it one more step in becoming Toronto, Ontario, USA (Substitute in your city and province). One more thought, Will Saturday evenings at the bar/home be the same watching CTV's Hockey Evening In the Great White North? (You know for sure that CBC' is going to keep the trademark). I think not.

....

Bill Hansen from Vancouver, Canada writes: I guess it will likely be called 'Hockey Night in 'Canam' or some other asinine thing and become lost in the American push to take over everything that is Canadian like Canadian National Railways (hah, how many days to another derailment?), Hudson Bay, Eatons etc. Seems a shame to me that our country always appears to be for sale to the highet bidder. However, I agree that it is likely no big loss and the CBC can concentrate on it's award winning documentaries etc. Except Harper and Sons may pull the funding and then the loss of the hockey revenue will hurt big time.

....

evelyn robinson from vancouver, Canada writes: Hands off; Let Hockey night in Canada remain with CBC. We do not need any more Media empires; we need to keep more independent media sources open that Cannot be bought or controlled by any political persuasion. Hockey in Canada helps to support CBC. I am very concerned with the control of our media by CanWest; The newspapers do not operate independently any editorials are controlled by the majority owners (the Asper family) Most articles now ARE written similar to editorials. They may cover the stories but the placement in the paper and follow ups control how much we hear and therefore whether it remains in the public conscience. This media empire could be bought by foreign or political interests: CBC cannot.


The self-styled intelligent, broad-minded progessives who make up CBC-TV's diehard audience have never been entirely comfortable with the fact that the audience of Hockey Night in Canada, which it regards as inferior in all respects, effectively pays the bills for their self-indulgent programming.

Many of them would welcome the loss of Hockey Night in Canada if it freed up more airtime for documentaries on lesbian feminist collectives in Afghanistan and TV movie hagiographies on dead Liberal and NDP politicians.

Yet how many of them would step up and replace the ad revenue Hockey Night in Canada brings in with their own sponsorship donations? How many of them would instead demand that the budget be raised to cover the shortfall, or that our pockets be picked instead (licence fees, anyone?)

As for those who watch CBC for nothing else except hockey, how many of them really care whether CBC or CTV is carrying it, as long as they can see the games, follow the playoffs and laugh at Coach's Corner?

The real fear of those who don't want to lose Hockey Night in Canada is that its loss might be the final nail in the coffin of CBC-TV. Yet losing it might finally allow CBC to become what its fans and programmers have really wanted it to be: a 100% Canadian highbrow cultural content broadcaster.

Yet any change is feared and resisted by the CBC crowd with the full fury of enraged reactionaries. They want the CBC as they always imagined it to be, in the days before cable and satellite TV and umpteen specialty broadcasters, the indispensable voice of Canadian broadcasting.

Well, it isn't anymore, and Hockey Night in Canada on CTV would be living proof thereof.

Castro: Legacy Of Lies

The more vehement the vague assurances that Fidel Castro is recovering from his stomach surgery, the more certain we can be that Castro is at death's door and his underlings are keeping him on life support (or ice) as they jockey for position.

When it's finally safe for his successorts to announce his death, the international press will be full of laudatory obituaries for this great "revolutionary", "hero of the common man," and "champion of progress for Cuba."

Ignored or glossed over will be the staggering impoverishment, the brutal repressions of dissidents and ordinary Cubans, the foolhardy military adventures, and the corruption that have marked his decades of tyranny.

Yet, for all of his fame and fortune, he is, at heart, just another jumped-up Spanish caudillo, as Georgie Anne Geyer explains in this article.

And that, perhaps, is as much a tribute to the endurance of national character in the face of Communist ideology as anything else.

What was Soviet communism except the excesses of Czarist brutality and tyranny carried to unrestrained extremes, with collectivization a new serfdom, the nomenklatura a new nobility, and the gulags a harsher form of exile to Siberia?

What is Chinese communism except the old Empire underlaid with Marxist rhetoric?

What is North Korean juche except old Korean dynastic rule with ancient ancestor worship?

And what is Cuban communism, except the rule of the most brutal caudillo in Latin American history?

A Resolution Of Irresolution

Courtesy of Haaretz, the salient points of the draft UN Security Council resolution:

THE SECURITY COUNCIL, ...

Determining that the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;


An international law victory for Hezbollah, in that a terrorist organization has been recognized as the equal of a sovereign state. No mention of Iran, the state which is backing Hezbollah; no mention of Lebanon, the state where Hezbollah is based. Hezbollah gets top billing in the marquee!

2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL (The UN Interim Force in Lebanon) as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the south and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel;


So the Lebanese army, which can't or won't do anything about Hezbollah, along with the UN, will be expected to deal with Hezbollah, while the IDF, which can, is told to get lost. Someone get lost using the road map to peace?

6. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbors, consistent with paragraphs 14 and 15, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;


Yep, we have to pay for those dual citizens of convenience to go back to Lebanon again. On top of all the aid money that's going to end up lining a lot of other people's pockets.

8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

* full respect for the Blue Line by both parties,


Subject to Hezbollah's, and ultimately Iran's, veto;

* security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani River of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area


Until this time next year.


* full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state

* no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government

* no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government


Hezbollah will find that it's easier to seek forgiveness than permission. Especially when forgiveness comes in the form of ex gratia payments to the Lebanese and UN watchdogs.

* provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession


And when does Hezbollah tell the UN where its rockets are?

9. Invites the Secretary-General (Kofi Annan) to support efforts to secure as soon as possible agreements in principle from the government of Lebanon and the government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 8, and expresses its intention to be actively involved


More UN meddling.

11. Decides, in order to supplement and enhance the force in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operations, to authorize an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and that the force shall, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426 (1978)

a. Monitor the cessation of hostilities

b. Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon as provided in paragraph 2

c. Coordinate its activities related to paragraph 11 (b) with the government of Lebanon and the government of Israel

d. Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons

e. Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment of the area as referred to in paragraph 8

f. Assist the government of Lebanon, at its request, to implement paragraph 14


15,000 peacekeepers get to sit around and watch, while doing a little social work on the side. The same formula that worked wonders in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

14. Calls upon the government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11 to assist the government of Lebanon at its request


If Lebanon could or would control its borders, it wouldn't need a Security Council resolution to tell them. Is UNIFIL also going to play border patrol and customs agent?

15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft,

(a) the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and

(b) the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11


We just need those rockets and explosives for New Year's Eve fireworks. That's it, New Year's Eve fireworks. Can't ring in the New Year without firing off a few billion rounds, either.

16. Decides to extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2007, and expresses its intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements to the mandate and other steps to contribute to the implementation of a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution


Yep, same time, same place, same channel, next year.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bomb Bust

Colby Cosh performs a much-needed reality check about the dangers of acetone peroxide, the highly unstable liquid explosive which has led to the banning of highly stable liquid non-explosives:

This morning's press is abuzz with talk of TATP (acetone peroxide), a liquid explosive favoured by Middle Eastern bombers that is "easy to make and hard to detect." With advantages like that, surely there's some catch? Just so--TATP is easy to make, but far, far easier to blow one's limbs off with in the making. In its high-explosive form it's even less stable than nitroglycerin. And after five years' experience with the New Transport Security, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that the scenes of security officials pouring hand lotion, hair gel, and bottled water into giant waste bins apparently represent a spectacle every bit as irrational as a witch-dunking. It didn't blow up, therefore it was safe all along! Have a nice day!

....

So you tell me: we're talking about maybe 200 or 300 mL of an explosive that's not under serious compression, and that isn't quite TNT-equivalent even when it's not in liquid suspension? I realize airframes are fragile because of the annoying necessity to leave the ground, and that's certainly enough TATP to cause some death and carnage in the cabin. I'm not sure it would reliably breach the skin of the aircraft, let alone guarantee that it crashed. Even assuming you didn't bump into anything on the way through the security inspection. Or attract a whole bunch of attention by carrying a bottle of Gatorade like it was a carton of sparrow's eggs. Or get the dye job not quite right.


Cosh may be right in suggesting that the British bomb plot suspects weren't the savviest of plotters, given their choice of explosive.

But these people don't have to be brilliant, or even of normal intelligence, to execute such a plot; they just have to follow instructions and have luck break their way.

Evil geniuses don't need geniuses to carry out their evil.

Terrorist Liquidation

In its neverending quest to appear to be doing something to improve air travel security, instead of actually dealing with the problem, Transport Canada has decided to ban passengers from carrying any liquids on to commercial flights:

The following security measures are in place until further notice:

Effective immediately and for all flights to and from the United Kingdom and the United States, liquids or gels in containers of any size are not permitted to be brought onboard by passengers; this includes liquids or gels in carry-on baggage;

and

Effective 12 p.m. E.S.T. and for all other flights, including Canadian domestic flights, liquids or gels in containers of any size are not permitted to be brought onboard by passengers; this includes liquids or gels in carry-on baggage.
Liquids or gels in containers of any size include: all beverages, shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.

Passengers may bring aboard baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is travelling. Prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger's ticket, insulin and essential other non-prescription medicines are allowed.

Passengers should pack liquids or gels in checked baggage.


Would such a ban have foiled the British Muslim airline bomb plotters? Not in the least; they'd have just put their liquid explosive in their checked baggage and had it attached to a timed detonation device.

Will it foil any other terrorist plotters? Not at all; they'll just use other explosive devices that don't fall under the ban.

Will it needlessly inconvenience ordinary passengers? Absolutely.

When the next lot of plotters are caught with solid explosives, will all solid objects be banned from carry-on luggage?

Is there any evidence that these picayune bans have enhanced security instead of passenger aggravation?

When will those responsible for airline security start profiling passengers instead of potables?

Spare Change? No Thanks, I've Got Plenty!

You see them all the time in Toronto.

They want spare change for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.

But that coffee had better be fair trade low-fat decaf from Starbucks with a low-fat almond croissant, because even panhandlers have some taste, after all:

Whenever I'm solicited for a cash donation, I always ask where my money will be invested. The answer is always food. I simply decided to cut out the middleman.

But my offer of a free lunch wasn't universally embraced. And sometimes, rejection was less than civil.

Case in point: the Yonge Street lass. She wanted none of my pre-packaged food because she wanted to eat "something hot." As luck would have it, a Mamma's Pizza franchise was steps away. Yet, my offer to buy her a deluxe slice triggered a fit of rage.

My food test was prompted by an incident near Yonge and Bloor. A young man was entombed in a sleeping bag in front of a vacant store. When I didn't drop some coins in his cup, he fired off a snide remark.

I came to an abrupt halt, pivoted, and asked him why he was harassing passersby. More sarcasm. Then, a digitized chime rang out.

"Just a second," he said as he reached for his cellular phone. Interesting ... I don't have a cellphone.

As he chatted, I saw his sleeping bag move. It turned out to be his pet German shepherd. Interesting ... I don't have a dog.

So, I wondered, how oft-put are Toronto's street people? I'm not sure. No one seemed to be actually starving.


Indeed. A certain class of these so-called starving homeless are nothing more than common bums who know how to work a system that does everything for them except helping them become self-reliant.

They're the ones who harden people's hearts towards those on the street who really need the help, and won't get it as long as these lazy vagabonds are the public face of homelessness to the average man.

These are the ones who could have been busted on vagrancy charges and run out of town in the old days, or sent to the workhouse, to make some use of them.

But this is a more enlightened age, apparently.

Source: National Post

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wrath Of Khan

As Jason Cherniak is wont to remind us, the primary role of opposition politicians is to oppose the government.

So naturally Wajid Khan's fellow Liberal MPs are irate over his appointment as a special advisor to Stephen Harper on the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Yet it's difficult to see what parliamentary or constitutional convention has been violated here. Khan is not joining the government as a minister; he will not be making final policy decisions, nor will he be binding himself to vote with the Conservative government on said policies.

No rule or convention has ever prohibited the government of the day from seeking the counsel or advice of members of the opposition. If any such rule existed, parliamentary committees would be powerless to recommend changes to legislation, and other parliamentary business would be more difficult if not impossible.

Stephen Harper thinks that Wajid Khan has particular expertise and insight that is lacking in his own caucus, or else why would he have made the appointment? He is empowering an opposition MP, not simply out of partisan political considerations (though those are present too)*, but also to show that government need not be suffocated by rigid party discipline in times of crisis.

This appointment, in fact, is a small step to bridging the democratic deficit that the Liberals were always pledging to remedy.

*Keeping Joe Volpe's leadership campaign in the media as the public face of the Liberal Party is always smart politics, no?

UN Resolution: Screw Israel

Israel had better finish off Hezbollah while it still can, because once the United Nations gets its way, Hezbollah will be celebrating a political victory and preparing for a future military one:

The parties involved in diplomatic negotiations for a UN-brokered cease-fire resolution aimed at ending the fighting in Lebanon reached a breakthrough Thursday, paving the way for the stationing of international troops in Lebanon as part of a package which would end the month-long confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

The UN Security Council will convene Friday to discuss the new proposal, which has been agreed to by the United States as well as France.

The sides are currently putting the finishing touches to the final wording of the resolution. The revised draft calls for a "progressive" Israeli withdrawal, a senior Lebanese political source said on Thursday.

....

"The breakthrough is based on the inclusion in the call for a cessation of hostilities for a progressive Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory to go simultaneously with the deployment of the Lebanese army backed by reinforced UN peacekeepers."

The source said the peacekeepers would mainly be reinforced by French soldiers. As part of the deal, Hezbollah would pull out from south of the Litani river.

....

The resolution will stop short of requiring peacekeepers to disarm Hezbollah but will call for an embargo to prevent the group from bringing in arms from Iran and Syria, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the resolution would also call for creation of "an emboldened UNIFIL", the UN force currently in Lebanon and long derided by Israel as ineffective.

But the official said: "The (international) force will not have any mandate to disarm Hezbollah."

The official added that the resolution would also include "an embargo that will prevent the supply of arms to Lebanon that are not for the Lebanese army."


Let's get this straight. The Lebanese army, backed up by the UN, backed up by the French, will all go to the wall to restore the status quo ante.

Three weaklings don't add up to one tough guy.

The Muslim world will hail the UN agreement as a great victory for the cause, Israel will be humiliated by its own government if it goes along, and Hezbollah and their Iranian backers will be emboldened to do more than fire rockets at Israeli civilians after taking time to rearm.

Israel must not allow the "international community" to sell her out.

Israel cannot rely on anyone but herself.

Keep up the fight!

Source: Haaretz

British Bomb Bust

British police have arrested 21 men in a foiled plot to smuggle explosives on to as many as ten commercial aircraft to cause the deaths of thousands, according to this BBC report.

And here's the kicker:

According to BBC sources the "principal characters" suspected of being involved in the plot were British-born. There are also understood to be links to Pakistan.

British-born, to be sure, but very likely raised from the cradle to hate Britain and all that it stands for, with the help of both the public education system and the local mosque.

Just like the Toronto 17.