Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Milestone: U.S. forces death toll in Iraq reaches 3,000

The U.S. military in Iraq reached a grim milestone at year's end as the Pentagon announced a toll of at least 3,000 soldiers dead.

Specialist Dustin Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, who was killed Thursday by small arms fire in Baghdad, was the 3,000th soldier to die, the Defence Department said Sunday.

CBC News

Death of Saddam; the World speaks, Harper is silent.

The Pakistan Times has a good article on the World reactions on the hanging of Saddam (scroll down for world reactions).

I've listened to Dutch radio, German TV (ZDF Heute Journal has a video podcast you can download for free with Democracy Player) and French media; All polical leaders have spoken on the subject, except Steve Harper.

What's wrong with our current government? Can't they take a position on what happened? Everyone is talking about Saddam, and you would think whatever shakes the people, it should be of importance to our democratically chosen leaders. Is the hanging of Saddam the "important milestone" of 2006?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam is dead; the violence continues....

December is (already) the deadliest month in 2006 for U.S. troops with the death toll reaching 106.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 -- Three more Marines were killed in battle in Iraq, the military said Friday, making December the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops, with the toll reaching 106.

Read the whole story - U.S. Toll in Dec. Is Highest of '06

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Corruption Conservatives disclosed

Delegate fees are donations. That's how it works now, and how it has worked for decades before. But Conservatives don't "see" it that way. If it's so hard to see ones own currupt behaviour, one wonders about their honesty all together.

OTTAWA -- After months of heated denials, the federal Conservative Party has quietly admitted it failed to publicly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations.

And the muddle over the disclosure meant that at least three party members -- including Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- donated more than the legal limit last year.

Last Thursday, the party filed a revised financial report for 2005 with Elections Canada, acknowledging that it did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention that year as donations, contrary to political financing laws.

the CPC tried to make certain donations "legal" by changing the law:
The party's letter notes that Mr. Harper's minority government last month attempted to amend the Canada Elections Act to ensure that convention fees in future would not count as donations. But the proposed amendment was shot down by the three opposition parties.

Read the whole article

Update: see also PEJ The gang that (again) promises to shoot straight again.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Military Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9/11 Toll

When numbers tell it all:

NEW YORK (AP) - Nearly four years after the war in Iraq began, the number of Americans troops killed there now exceeds the grim toll of victims from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,974, one more than the number of deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to an Associated Press count on Tuesday.

The U.S. military announced the deaths of two soldiers in a bomb explosion southwest of Baghdad on Monday. The military was withholding the soldiers' names until relatives could be notified.

The 9/11 death toll includes the 2,749 killed at the World Trade Center, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 passengers aboard United Flight 93. While all were killed within a few hours that morning, the deaths in Iraq have stretched across 45 months - with no end yet in sight.

WHOLE STORY: the Guardian

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Iraqi police deaths 'hit 12,000'

What numbers can tell us:

Some 12,000 police officers in Iraq have died in the line of duty since the US-led invasion in 2003, Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said.

The figure is from a total force of about 190,000 officers, he said.

The announcement follows a suicide bomb attack that killed seven policemen and wounded 20 others during a morning parade at a base north of Baghdad.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Iran acts over Israeli nukes

From Al Jazeera:

Iran has called for the UN Security Council to compel Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.

The request, made on Tuesday in a letter to the Security Council, comes after Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, appeared to admit in a TV interview that Israel had nuclear weapons.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

French 'had bin Laden in sights'

It looks like "finding Bin Laden" has never been a priority of the Bush Government.

A new documentary says that French special forces had Osama bin Laden in their sights twice about three years ago but their US superiors never ordered them to fire.

The documentary, Bin Laden, the failings of a manhunt, was made by journalists Emmanuel Razavi and Eric de Lavarene, who have worked for several French media outlets in Afghanistan.

Razavi said the soldier told them it took roughly two hours for the request to reach the US officers who could authorise it, but the anonymous man is also quoted in the documentary as saying: "There was a hesitation in command."

France has roughly 200 elite troops operating under US command near the border. Paris announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing them in the new year.

Read the whole story: Aljazeera

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peru FM calls for CSN meeting to boost regional integration

The second summit of the South American Community of Nations (CSN) is expected to boost regional integration and create a better neighborhood, said Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde on Monday.

"The CSN's future will be improved if we give it a practical reason for its existence," said the minister ahead of the summit slated for Friday and Saturday in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba.


Friday, December 01, 2006


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why I hate TASER guns; UCLA Police use TASER on student.

Have a look at this. UCLA Police tasers a student who is unwilling to "stand up" AFTER he's being tasered.

It's clear that the police is on the wrong track. Although this student was obviously not cooperating, the police could've simply handcuffed him, and have two officers carry him out. Here's how I think the police should handle non-cooperating students.

- talk. Police should be able to reason with a student. Ask what the problem is and try to convince the student it's a lot less hassle (for both parties) to cooperate.
- handcuff him and carry him out.

The police might have talked to the student before, but this video doesn't show this; All we see is yelling officers threatening to TASER the student.

The handcuffing seems not an option to these policemen. What's wrong with the UCLA police?

Tasers are dangerous weapons; "Amnesty International have documented over 150 deaths following the use of tasers."

Personally I believe these weapons should be outlawed; again and again videos like these show up where it is clear the weapon is NOT "used instead of a leathel weapon" (which is often the argument for using TASERS) but out of convenience; the police considers the (threat of the) use of the TASER "easier" than reasoning or simple handcuffing/dragging.

Afer viewing this video we can all remove this UCLA University from our shortlist.

Here's what Wikipedia writes about the incident:

On November 15th, 2006, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a student of the university, was tased for refusing to leave the Powell Library[37]. The media[38] reported that the officers of the University of California Police Department (UCPD) inflicted "multiple taser shots to a 23-year-old student in the Powell Library computer lab". Several students recorded the incident on their phones, which shows Tabatabainejad screaming while being tased multiple times. After being tased, the police asked him to stand up, but Tabatabainejad either could not or would not. The police then continued to tase him several more times. Tabatabainejad claims that he was leaving the library when the police confronted him, and would not let him leave, which is supported by several eye witness accounts. Library policy forbids those who do not possess a valid UCLA ID from entering and using its facilities. Those who are asked to produce an ID must do so or must leave. The police reported that the Mr. Tabatabainejad did not produce a UCLA ID despite repeated requests. In the videos, several bystanders can be heard asking for the police officers' badge numbers as well as condemning what they thought was excessive force. Another police officer can be heard threatening to tase another student, who was protesting the incident, if he did not back away. The video can be seen here. The university is currently investigating the incident.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Iraq war a big mistake, Blair ally says; Guardian Unlimited

Tony Blair has come under fire from one of his closest government allies over the Iraq war and his wider foreign policy, it was reported today.

Margaret Hodge apparently told a branch meeting of the Fabian Society that the war had been the prime minister's "big mistake in foreign affairs".

According to the Islington Tribune newspaper, the trade and industry minister said she had doubted his approach to foreign affairs since 1998. The paper said she was particularly critical of Mr Blair's "moral imperialism" - importing British attitudes and ideas to other countries.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Fossil of the day: Rona Ambrose!


Ambrose earns “fossil of the day” award

NAIROBI, KENYA -- Environmental groups, federal opposition parties, and an official Quebec government delegation have cooked up a rude welcome for Environment Minister Rona Ambrose at the United Nations climate change conference.

Ambrose, who is scheduled to arrive late on Monday night, earned a “fossil of the day” award for comments made last week about Canada’s position on the international Kyoto agreement on climate change.

The awards are handed out on a daily basis by international environmental groups to countries that they believe are heading in the wrong direction.

“Tied for first place, Canada and Australia are both found guilty for making ridiculous claims to the press of their countries and for misleading the public,” Greenpeace Canada spokesperson Steven Guilbeault said on Monday. “Even more humourous is that Rona Ambrose, the Environment Minister was quoted in Canadian press saying that Canada is meeting all of its responsibilities under the Kyoto protocol, except for the bit about emissions targets.”


Friday, November 10, 2006

War on terror is lost ; blog for REAL solutions

I'm not surprised that the MI5 chief comes out with these views. I'm sure this has been common knowledge for many at the top for the last year or so; they were just hoping that things would somehow turn around. Not so.

Many leaders of the Western world have been in denial; the so-called war on terror is a disaster. It's interesting to see that this "denial" has suddenly become so obvious, especially on this continent. The War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan; both wars have become top issues again.

NOW is the time for a complete different approach to the "war on terror". This "war on terror" has become synonymous to a "state of denial"; a denial for real progress. The current world faces real problems, problems that cannot be fixed through "Shake and bake" and "shock and awe".

Keep blogging for REAL solutions; THEY ARE reading our blogs and quickly running out of munition.

MI5 chief says Iraq war is driving British Muslims into terrorism
By Kim Sengupta and Jason Bennetto
Published: 11 November 2006

British Muslims have been driven towards extremism and terrorist acts because of the UK's part in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the head of MI5.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller's warning of the violent threat from more than 1,600 suspects in 200 groups lasting more than a generation, was backed yesterday by Tony Blair.

Dame Eliza stated, however, that the Government's policy had directly contributed to attacks in this country. She said: "My service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it. The video wills of British suicide bombers make it clear they are motivated by perceived worldwide and long-standing injustices against Muslims; an extreme and minority interpretation of Islam promoted by some preachers and people of influence; and their interpretation as anti-Muslim of UK foreign policy, in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing oneself and others in response is an attractive option for some citizens of this country and others around the world."

According to senior intelligence sources, the upsurge in terrorist recruitment was caused not by the Afghan war but by the conflict in Iraq. "Iraq was seen as more unjustified, more an example of Western, British and American, perfidy," said one source.

Dame Eliza claimed her service was aware of about 30 plots to " kill people and to damage our economy".

Mr Blair said yesterday: "I have been saying for several years that this terror threat is very real. It has been building up over a long period of time.

"I think [Dame Eliza] is absolutely right that it will last a generation. It's a very long and deep struggle but we have to stand up and be counted for what we believe in and take the fight to those people who want to entice young people into something wicked and violent but utterly futile."

"This is a threat that has grown up over a generation. In the end, the values we have and hold dear in this country are the values that will defeat those values of hatred, division and sectarianism."

A Muslim Labour peer, Baroness Uddin, said she was concerned about Dame Eliza entering the "political arena". She said: "It seems that the Muslim community cannot remain out of the press for long before yet another indictment on the whole community.

"I hope that what she is saying is truly because she needs the assistance of the community in addressing this issue. I am not very happy with the fact someone in her position would up the ante in the terror threat although obviously there is a deep concern.

"Raising this kind of question in the public arena seemed incredibly political.

"I hope that it is not political and I hope that it is not trying to make the assertion that there are cells all over the place, almost giving the impression that ordinary communities are hiding these kinds of cells."

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "This is why the Government should be taking practical and effective measures to help us in the fight against terrorism, such as a single, dedicated border police, appointing a single minister to co-ordinate our security efforts, and allowing the use of intercept evidence in terror trials.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "These revelations underline the gravity of the threat we all face. The effect of our foreign and domestic policies ... now requires constant vigilance".

British Muslims have been driven towards extremism and terrorist acts because of the UK's part in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the head of MI5.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller's warning of the violent threat from more than 1,600 suspects in 200 groups lasting more than a generation, was backed yesterday by Tony Blair.

Dame Eliza stated, however, that the Government's policy had directly contributed to attacks in this country. She said: "My service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it. The video wills of British suicide bombers make it clear they are motivated by perceived worldwide and long-standing injustices against Muslims; an extreme and minority interpretation of Islam promoted by some preachers and people of influence; and their interpretation as anti-Muslim of UK foreign policy, in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing oneself and others in response is an attractive option for some citizens of this country and others around the world."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Norman Spector calls Belinda Stronach a bitch

Wondering what Victoria based Norman Spector is up to these days?

Norman Spector, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel and chief of staff to ex-prime minister Brian Mulroney, created a stir over the weekend when he said on the radio Belinda Stronach was a "bitch."

"Bitch is a word that I would use to describe someone like Belinda Stronach," said Spector, now a political pundit.


Here's the audio

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Israeli President Moshe Katsav refuses to resign

Israeli president refuses to resign.

The Israeli president, facing calls for his resignation pending a possible rape indictment, has refused to step down.

"I am the victim of a despicable libel campaign," Moshe Katsav said in a statement on Sunday, declaring his innocence. "The authorities must not let the media lynch disrupt the investigation of the truth," Katsav said, adding "I intend to fight to the end to prove my innocence”. The Israeli president also said he did not intend to resign and would await "the final decision" of attorney general Menachem Mazuz, who has recommended that Katsav step aside from his duties pending a possible rape indictment.

"The president is hurting, but is not afraid. The president is completely certain of his justice and innocence. All the authorities should wait for the end of the investigation, including the attorney general's final decision," Katsav said.


Katsav, a bland career politician who rose from obscurity in July 2000 to become Israel's first president from a right-wing party, has repeatedly denied the charges against him and has vowed to clear his name.

Police opened their investigation in July, after Katsav filed a complaint against a former female employee, identified only as A, saying she was trying to blackmail him. The employee in turn accused him of sexual harassment.

As the inquiry unfolded, police investigated complaints from no fewer than 10 women on charges ranging from rape to sexual harassment and abuse of authority.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canada's Embarrassing Foreign Minister; by John Chuckman

I just found this article by John Chuckman:

A Man of Poor Character and Thin Talents

John Chuckman

Were a senior member of any national government to insult a woman in public, there would be reason for concern. An apology might put the act down in the public's mind to poor judgment in the fierce heat of partisan debate. Were the senior member then to refuse admitting what he had done, despite many witnesses, surely a question of character is raised.


We already knew there were serious flaws in MacKay's character. There was his unapologetic, hasty breaking of a written agreement made at the former Conservative Party leadership convention. He simply brushed it off with saying politics was a blood sport, a rather odd choice of words coming from the representative of a party trying to promote itself as doing business in a new and ethical way.

Following Stronach's crossing the floor to the Liberals, MacKay busied himself doing simpering interviews about being abandoned both as deputy party leader and as lover. In fact, without MacKay's bizarre little press blitz, most Canadians would never have known about his affair with Stronach.


Blogging Tories completely ignore a lying MacKay

One of my favourite places to hangout? It's the Blogging Tories Website! Whenever there's an issue of significance, our lying and not apologizing Foreign Affairs Minister MacKay sure is, then the Blogging Tories are the place to visit to get a good perspective.

You would think.

Well, look for yourself, it aint happenin' there.

It's sad to see that not a single blogging tory has the ability to understand the magnitude of the lying (this country can not have a lying Foreign Minister); and not one tory is addressing and discussing the possible outcome of MacKay's lying seriously with their peers.

What a narrow minded bunch of ignorant people!

You start wondering why they blog in the first place.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Israel admits using chemical weapons in conflict with Lebanon

Israel finally admits that it has used chemical weapons in the conflict with Lebanon:

Israel has admitted for the first time to using white phosphorus shells against military targets in southern Lebanon, an Israeli newspaper has reported.

Israel's Haaretz daily newspaper quoted Yakov Edery, the minister for government-paramilitary relations, as saying that the Israeli army used phosphorus shells 'in attacks against military targets in open ground'.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ambrose selling fantasy-land as a red herring

According to Ambrose:

"Industry has to be compliant by 2010 and if you think that happens the night before, it doesn't. They have to start making decisions today as to how they are going to make changes in their business."

But don't take "today" too litteraly; there are no agreed upon targets yet, and there's enough reason to believe these targets will be far less rosy (as far as the environment is concerned) than Ambrose makes them appear.

Now get this from the National Post:
"Aldyen Donnelly, a Vancouver-based consultant who does precisely this sort of analysis for large industrial emitters, says the Conservative plan on greenhouse gases is much tougher than most people in industry had anticipated. "Industry should be shaking in their boots," she said. "This is about shutting plants down."

Regardless of the absence of a hard cap to reduce emissions absolutely until 2020, industry now knows it has to reduce its emissions by half by 2050."
So I started thinking about myself. I'm self-employed, so how can I cut my own emissions by 50% in 2050, just to be "good" in the eyes of Conservative Canada?

Hmmm, 2050, I'm 34 now.....

Ok, so I've got 44 years to deal with this. Now let's see; in 2050 I will be.... 34+44=78 years; I'm really "shaking in my boots". I better make some plans, fast! I'm sure the "old white guys telling us what to do" (in this case the boards of Big Business) are peeing their pants right now since most of them will not make 2050....

We need change now, and change that's achievable. It's a wonderfull idea to work towards a clean environment for when I'm 78, but most of us know that there's little chance this will happen, at least not with Conservatives at the helm; it's a red herring, selling fantasy land instead of dealing the issue head on. Even Aldyen Donnelly, "a self-confessed Liberal" agrees:
"A 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 is really, really, really hard to achieve."
Too bad the National Post keeps interviewing the wrong people (liberal or not). You would almost think there's something wrong with this paper.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

U.S. uses attack dogs on their own people

Planning a trip to the U.S.? Here are some places you probably want to skip.

In the prisons of Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, South Dakota and Utah attack dogs are used against prisoners; when a prisoner will not voluntarily leave his cell when ordered to do so, officers may bring a trained attack dog to the cell front to terrify the prisoner into compliance.

We've probably all seen these aggressive, unmuzzled dogs on TV; attack dogs were also used in Abu Graib, to terrify and even attack prisoners. But U.S. prisons use these dogs on their own people too. Nice thought.

Human Rights Watch
Democracy Now!

Stephen Harper's comments are anti-Canadian

Harper tells us that "most of the contenders for the [Liberal] party's top job were "anti-Israeli."

Bob Rae had the correct response:

"I think to suggest that there is a pro-Israel party in Canada and there's an anti-Israel party in Canada is something of which he should be thoroughly ashamed."

So why label a party anti-anything? It's a simple act of mud-slinging. Yes, sometimes the Liberal Party agrees with Israel and sometimes they don't. But is Stephen Harper suggesting the Liberals have "prejudice" against Israel or discriminate against "the Jews" in general?

Stephen Harper's comments, although given as a serious response to Michael Ignatieff 's "war crimes" comments, cannot be taken seriously. And that's unfortunate. We need a prime minister we can trust, worthy of the country's "top job"; the latest comments by Stephen Harper's are anti-Canadian.

Latest Lancet Study: Iraq death toll over 650,000

Front Page News that doesn't make the top 5 in the so-called "mainstream" media of North America, including CNN, Fox News, CBC News, CTV, Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star.


BAGHDAD, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- More than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a consequence of hostilities in Iraq as of July 2006, according to a new study by a respected British medical journal.

The Lancet estimates that 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths have occurred since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country. Of this total, just over 600,000 were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.

The death toll amounts to 2.5 percent of the population in study areas surveyed, according the journal. Between May and July 2006 some 50 clusters were randomly selected from 16 Iraqi Governorates, with each cluster consisting of 40 households where information was gathered.

The proportion of Iraqi deaths attributable to coalition forces has diminished but actual numbers of persons killed have increased every year, according to the study. Gunfire remains the most common cause of death though a surge in car bombings has been documented.

Iraqi Body Count, the best known tracker of Iraq casualties, estimates that up to Sept. 26, 2006, between 43,491 and 48,283 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion. Figures from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior were 75 percent higher from the same period, while an Iraqi non-governmental organization, Iraqiyun, places the number at about 128,000.

Violent death totals have typically relied on hospital data from the Ministry of Health, mortuary tallies and media reports.

The Lancet says it relied on household interviews to gather more in-depth feedback, taking into account indirect causes, such as displacement and deteriorating health services. Period mortality rates were then calculated by regression models."

Ignatieff needs a strong program

I'm no fan of Ignatieff. I've tried to read his book "the lesser evil" this fall and, to be honest, I was not able to finish it; I can't think of another non-fiction book I've read the last couple of years that is so full of fallacies, regardless of how and why they are presented (this could be a much more interesting debate, but I've got other things to do too :))

I'm not surprised that Ignatieff is in trouble. In his book he tries to find the fine line between good and evil. And that's where his problem is; it doesn't exist. You either (1) try to do good, (2) you try to hide that your evil, or (3) you're an ever balancing politician.

Most politicians are a mix of these three. But Ignatieff is predominantly in the last category, where his "nuanced and intelligent balancing" is supposed to represent the "good". And without upholding clear principles this is a tough starting point, proven by his latest troubles.

But Ignatieff does have a heart:

"I demonstrated a lack of compassion, it was a mistake. And when you make a mistake like that, you have to admit it. And I admit it, because I was a human rights professor, and I'm a professor of the laws of war, and what happened at Qana was a war crime. I should have said that, it's clear," Ignatieff said.

But a heart is not enough. The guy needs a strong program, not questionable cheerleaders who couldn't acknowledge war crimes unless they were a victim themselves.

Stephen Harper, Jack Layton? Like them or hate them, but we do know what they stand for. Ignatieff? Anyone?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Arar deserves immediate apology from Stephen Harper

It's time for Stephen Harper to apologise:

Maher Arar still waiting for apology from the PM:
"'I understand (the prime minister) needs time to examine other issues, but . . . my reputation has been tarnished, I've suffered tremendously, my family suffered tremendously over the past couple years and I expected him to apologize without delay. But this didn't happen.'"


Friday, September 22, 2006

Top secret: Banff security meeting attracted U.S., Mexico officials

A North American security meeting was secretly held in Banff last week, attracting high-profile officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The North American Forum was hosted with the help of the Canada West Foundation and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

Among the attendees at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel affair was Stockwell Day, Canada's minister of public safety.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Getting closer to Uncle Sam; the Toronto Star - Getting closer to Uncle Sam: "Getting closer to Uncle Sam
Public kept in dark as business leads talks about North American integration, By Maude Barlow
Sep. 20, 2006. 01:00 AM

While the media were busy obsessing over rumours of a budding romance between Condoleezza Rice and Peter MacKay last week, a more significant relationship was developing behind closed doors."


Deep Integration Planned at Secret Conference Ignored by the Media

Vive le Canada - Deep Integration Planned at Secret Conference Ignored by the Media: "Here's the scandal that should be outraging Canadians across the country. On September 12-14, elite proponents of deep integration from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico met at a secret conference at the Banff Springs Hotel. Stockwell Day, Tom d'Aquino and other high-profile Canadians were there. But the Hotel doesn't want to talk about it. No major media reported on the conference--not The Globe and Mail, not the National Post, not the Toronto Star, no one. Yet the topic of the conference, deep integration or the formation of a 'North American Community' aka the North American Union, will profoundly affect everything in our lives from our health and security to the currency we use (soon to be the 'Amero') to our very national identity. In essence, we will no longer be Canadians, but North Americans only--and worse, North Americans hog-tied in lock-step with the U.S. even as they gain open access to our energy resources. "


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Europe nuclear TALKS with Iran productive

Europe is not happy with the latest "dis-coveries" of the secret CIA prisons, more so because the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had refused to tell the truth when she visited Brussels (remember her "tour") last December.

So what does Europe do?
It starts TALKING to prospective enemies.

"The European Union says that new talks with Iranian officials on Iran's nuclear programme have been productive.

After meeting Iranian officials on Sunday, Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said the talks had been worthwhile, and Ali Larijani, Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, said progress was made and that some 'misunderstandings' had been removed." (

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Stupidity has a face, and it's not funny.

Watch with amazement how the U.S. commander in chief mangles the English language, and speaks nonsensically about the war in Iraq. Also about America’s standing in the world, his relationship with his father, and Albert Camus. (from

Video 1:

Video 2:

Bush can not be trusted.

"Bush administration claims justifying the war against Iraq were based on fragmented, conflicting, and at times unreliable intelligence, according to two reports released today by the Senate Intelligence Committee." (Bloomberg)

What it means:
It means we can't trust Bush's government. This U.S. "cherry picking" presented misleading evidence. It's time for the Canadian government to let the U.S. government know we do not agree with these malpractises, and therefore we will not support these malpractises.

Going to war is a serious undertaking.

We owe our troops to be at war for the right reasons. This (criminal?) fabrication of facts and so-called evidence should not be awarded with military help from Canada any longer; any future military undertaking led by the U.S. should be turned down.

It's time for the world to wake up. And for Canada even more.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Harper's senate reform is not a "democratic deficit" reform

The senate, normally filled with old people (senex=old man) is going to change, if
Harper's gets his way. In a parliamentary system the house of commons is the dominant chamber, the senate (the "upper house") does play an important part; it puts restraints on the lower house. Together there's the balance of a innovation and restraint.

Still, there is the democratic deficit, a large gap between the wishes of Canadians and the way the government acts. But Harper must be dreaming to think that senate reform is going to narrow the gap.

The deficit has to do with our elective process; the first past the post system forwards too much power to a select few, power hungry, elite.

It's time for change, but the senate reform isn't it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Going home?

BBC NEWS: "Nato to review Afghan challenge":

"Nato chiefs are due to meet to consider committing more troops to Afghanistan, where a British general has warned combat is 'more intense' than in Iraq."
The latest news sounds like the West is "loosin'" the war in Afghanistan. We need a lot more troops or else it's time for the troops to come home.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Does CTV think "friendly fire" IS friendly?

Some media outlets do it right. They use quotation marks to clarify the unfitting euphemism "friendly fire" that has been adopted by the military for these type of deaths.

Not CTV. They don't seem to care about these things.

They don't see that there's nothing "friendly" about getting shot by your own side. It's as deadly as enemy fire, and, to be quite franky, pretty stupid. Why not change it to "stupid fire"?

Anyways, the U.S. seems to have a "friendly" report on "friendly fire".
Here are some, not so friendly, numbers, representing percentages of deaths through "friendy fire" (source: Wikipedia)
* World War II: 21,000 (16%)
* Vietnam war: 8,000 (14%)
* Gulf War: 35 (23%)
* Invasion of Afghanistan (2002): 4 (13%) **

Read also What the hell is friendly fire? by Scout.

**note: fatalities were Canadian Soldiers, not American. Caused when a US fighter pilot dropped a 500 lb (228 kg) bomb while Canadian soldiers were performing a live fire exercise on April 17, 2002 [1]

InSite: Attacking Harper's "New Fascist" ideology works!

Harper's idea about InSite, Vancouver's safe-injection site? Close it down.

There's plenty of reason to believe that the program to save the lives of addicted drug addicts is working, yet Harper does not want to fully support it, yet. Or, should I say, it doesn't fit the Conservative ideology?

Margaret Somerville (McGill University's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law) said it well:

"It can't be simply, 'We have a political platform and our platform is nobody is going to be helped in any way in terms of drug addiction behaviour or illness.' That would be wrong in my view."

And in my view too. Drug addicts are people too, only weakened by their addiction. Killing the weak is a fascist idea, practised by Nazi Germany to purify their own people. With the slogan "Volksgenosse, das ist auch Dein Geld" (Fellow Germans, this is your money too) the Nazis pointed out the financial benefit of killing the weak.

These days we're dealing with the New Fascism, which comes with a smile. The New Fascism doesn't kill the weak and disabled, at least not in the old way, thank God! But it doesn't help them either: ideology and message are very similar.

This message delivered by Harper is a good example (campaign statement December 2005):
"We as a government will not use taxpayers' money to fund drug use"
And the new ideology is not all that different either: Conservatives have no intention to help the weak and the poor. Lowering taxes is supposed to be the one and all "gift" to all people; social programs are a waste of money and can therefore be cut.

Are the Conservatives the New Fascists? Do the Conservatives really wish to see all drug addicts dying from overdosis or infected needles, rather sooner than later?

The InSite program works: it saves lives. And that message is hard to beat. Reason CAN overcome backwards ideology. Halleluhia! But it takes pressure, a lot of pressure. Are we up to it?

PS Doesn't the German doctor in the white jacket look a lot like Stephen Harper? The resemblance is frightening!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Afghanistan's opium harvest at highest levels; so who's in control?

Can anyone tell me what Canada is doing in Afghanistan? Obviously nobody is "in control" given the latest NY Times news:

Afghanistan'’s opium harvest this year has reached the highest levels ever recorded, showing an increase of almost 50 percent from last year, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul. (whole story)

Maybe good news for a neo-puppet like George Bush, being able to fight two wars with one rock. But not so good when you consider that most of the money of these cocaine operations is used for, exactly, supporting terrorism (February 2005):
Doug Wankel, Counter Narcotics Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said the opium industry in Afghanistan is financing terrorism in an interview with USA Today. "It's financing subversive activities. It's financing warlordism. ... And if it's a threat to the government of Afghanistan, it's a direct threat to the national security interests of the United States."
We fought the war for almost 5 years; about 10,000 people died sofar and, given the latest news, no real solution is in sight soon. Highest levels of opium harvest translates in highest financial gains for terrorism. This can fuel the renewed Taliban insurgency for a long time to come.

Jack is right, it's time to do something about it.
We have to change our strategy.
Normalize (remember the effect of Ostpolitik?) the situation with the Taliban (yes, start talking, duh).
And bring our troops home.
We owe them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Does the Taliban have telephone?

What's wrong with Jack Layton? Has he gone mad?

Canada should withdraw its troops from the current mission in southern Afghanistan and invite Taliban fighters to peace talks, NDP Leader Jack Layton said yesterday.

"We believe that a comprehensive peace process has to bring all combatants to the table. You don't accomplish peace if those who are fighting are not involved in the peace-based discussion," he said.
Finally Layton got it right, for once: killing time is over, it's time for a solution.

Sure, we can stay in Afghanistan until the last Taliban is killed (or we run out of troops, whatever comes first). But that time is not going to come soon.

And the so-called "nation building" while still under attack is pure propaganda talk. Nobody in military circles will advice you to start nation-building (building schools, etc.) while troops and civilian are still daily under attack.

In short, we are now at stage we need to do something; and that's CHANGING TACTICS.

The "fun" is over; negotiate, and normalize the situation. It's about time.

I've never voted NDP in my life, but this unexpected quantum leap is about to change my mind! Jack, Bravo!

NB Does the Taliban have telephone?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Freedom of expression: film of fictional Bush assassination

Freedom of expression meets George W. Bush. I'll be looking out for this one. I'm wondering when Pick-a-Flick (Victoria) will have it.

"British television channel More4 plans to broadcast a dramatic film, documentary-style, about a fictional assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush, the network's head said Thursday.

The program uses actors and digital manipulation of real footage to show a fictional account of Bush being gunned down after delivering a speech in Chicago, Peter Dale, the head of More4, told a news conference."


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AIDS - Clinton and Gates care, Harper does not.

What's wrong with Stephen Harper?

Bill Clinton can do it. Bill Gates can do it. Bush can't do it, and neither can Harper.

Both Clinton and Gates have shown to feel compasionate about fighting the AIDS pandemic. The New York Times has a great article great article on Clinton, showing a caring Clinton, a stark contrast with Bush and "Steve" Harper.

“George Bush has actually delivered more resources, but Clinton is ten times more popular in Africa,” said Princeton Lyman, who was American ambassador to South Africa under Mr. Clinton. “That’s because, just like he does everywhere, he portrays that sense that he cares.”

Harper obviously does not present that sense, hence the "missing in action" on the International AIDS conference:

"We are dismayed that the prime minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper, is not here this evening," Wainberg said Sunday.

"The role of prime minister includes the responsibility to show leadership on the world stage. Your absence sends the message that you do not consider HIV/AIDS as a critical priority, and clearly all of us here disagree with you," he said.

Many in the audience stood up to cheer.

While Harper declined to attend the event, Health Minister Tony Clement was present to deliver a speech. But as he addressed the crowd, a group near the stage stood up and chanted "Where is Harper?"

The whole world knows there's something really wrong with George Bush. But what's wrong with Stephen Harper?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Der Fall "IslamoFascist": Welcome to Neo-Fascism 101

Getting worried about fascism after hearing G.W. Bush's speech? You should be! Although maybe still in it's embryonic form, some think it's a lot closer to home than you might think.

Read: Welcome to Neo-Fascism 101

Jason Kenney, Stockwell Day and ties to PMOI/MEK

Cerberus has the following conclusions to the Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day ties to the "terrorist organisation" PMOI/MEK.

His bottom line:

  • It is extremely unlikely that Jason Kenney did not know that he was attending a rally organized by a listed terrorist group.
  • Our Minister of Public Safety has a close personal relationship with members of a terrorist organization and has lobbied the government on their behalf.
Read the whole story: Jason Kenney, Stockwell Day and ties to PMOI/MEK

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Are ALL Conservatives Hypocrites?

Yes, the Conservatives "caught" the MSM photoshopping images. Although nothing new, I thought it was a fair remark, until they were caught doing it themselves.

Then there is Jason Kenney. He's the Conservative who accuses opposition MPs from talking to groups similar to Nazi's, while later on, doing it himself.

Are all Conservatives hypocrites? Why are "the good Conservatives" not standing up and saying; this cannot be, Jason has to resign." Why is the photoshopped image still on their website?

PS1: I emailed the following message to the "contact us" address:
"I would like to respond to the homepage. The image of Kennedy that has been used for days now has been photoshopped. By leaving the beer bottles and Kennedy in focus, while leaving the rest out of focus, you make Kennedy look like some kind of alcoholic. I don't think anyone is served by this representation, or is there? "

PS2: Other Conservatives already have a contest going.

PS3; What's with this post?; did Harper "encouraged Hezbollah to come to the negotiating table?" Isn't Harper supposed to oppose any contact with a terrorist organisation?

Friday, August 25, 2006

The use of cluster bombs can be illegal; no exception should be made for Israel

Many groups (including the Red Cross and the UN) hotly oppose the use of cluster bombs, since these weapons are a major threat to innocent civilians. Now the US is investigating whether Israel has broken secret agreements with Washington with its use of cluster bombs in the Lebanon conflict.

A cluster bomb in southern Lebanon. Many of the cluster bombs that Israel used in the war were made in the United States.<br />According to a UN spokeswoman, "there are about 285 locations across southern Lebanon [where cluster bombs have been found] , and our teams are finding 30 new ones every day" a UN spokeswoman said. "A lot of them are in civilian areas."

Of course, Israel sees no problem at all. An army spokesman said that Israel has done nothing wrong, since the weapons used in the war were legal under international law.

As a matter of fact, the army spokesman is right that these weapons in itself are legal, so to speak. But at the same time, the weapons can be "used" illegally.

Here's a simple analogy;
It's legal, once you have obtained your drivers license, to go for a nice ride, even drive about 80 km/hour on some parts of the highway. But a drivers license does not give you the right to drive 80 km/hour in a school zone (don't try this!). People who do are likely to be punished (when caught) since it's considered irresponsible to drive that fast in a schoolzone; it is considered too dangerous to drive this fast, because innocent people, in this case children, are too likely to be hit.

You might think that this analogy sucks since the context of war is more likely to bring about death than driving a car. Think again.

We've somehow accepted that a certain amount of people die in traffic accidents every year; it's part of participating in traffic. Sure we could limit the number of deaths occurred by traffic accidents dramatically, for example, by changing the speed limit to 15 km/hour everywhere. We choose not to and therefore accept the negative consequences (accidents) of driving 80 km/hour at some "safer" parts of our road system.

Israel is indeed granted, under international law, to use cluster bombs. But not everywhere.

It is illegal to use cluster bombs in civilian areas. And that's for everyone, including Israel.

Bush sometimes happy about Iraq War; Fair

Ever wondered if Bush is happy about the Iraq war? Well, he is! He told reporters that he's "sometimes happy", but CBS and NBS watchers never got to see this since they "cleaned up" the happy talk:

Bush's unedited comment was as follows:

Q: But are you frustrated, sir?

BUSH: Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy. This is -- but war is not a time of joy. These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times, and they're difficult times, and they're straining the psyche of our country. I understand that."

But the viewers of CBS News saw a different edited version:

Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated, rarely surprised. These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times, and they're difficult times. And they're straining the psyche of our country. I understand that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Harper's Pollution Strategy May Delay Emissions Cuts to 2025

The so-called "environmental strategy" by Stephen Harper and friends (Conservatives) may push targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions back to more than 20 years.


When the press does their job right, things can get ugly; military recruiting in the US

The Associated Press has done a 6 month nvestigation into the recruiting practises in at the US Military. They found that "more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistees".

More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams.

Read the whole story: Military recruiters cited for misconduct

Thursday, August 17, 2006

We must demand electoral reform; Toronto Star

People seem to get tired of a PM who doesn't listen to the people of the land. Richard Gere told everyone at the AIDS conference:

"If ( Stephen Harper) doesn't change, don't re-elect him"

Stuart Rogers from Toronto recognizes the problem with this statement; -- we DIDN't elect Harper, the electoral system did.
It's not Harper we have to change, it's our outmoded, perverse electoral system that handed power to a party that almost 65 per cent of voters "opposed." Wake up, Canada! If you don't want your country represented — and embarrassed — by people you didn't vote for, you must demand electoral reform. Write your MP, join Fair Vote Canada, raise your voice. We must replace this crazy system that consistently turns our democratic will on its head.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

War and money: Leaders blamed for war failings;

Leaders blamed for war failings - World -

"While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has promised to take personal responsibility for the shortcomings of the military campaign, the public's attention also turned this week to the conduct of defence chief of staff Dan Halutz, after reports he told his stockbroker to sell tens of thousands of dollars worth of shares on the way to advise the Government to go to war."

So far Halutz has resisted to resign.

In an editorial headlined "First Halutz Must Go", the Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday called for his immediate resignation. "No failure can occur without someone taking responsibility, and no failure can be disguised as a victory with empty words," it said.


PM should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Bill and Melinda Gates, former president Clinton; Toronto Star

Harper missing in the fight against AIDS (2)

For the life of me, I cannot understand how Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government fail to understand and appreciate the significance of the International AIDS Conference currently happening in Toronto. Canada has been given the international spotlight for a moment and, with it, the opportunity to boldly affirm its dedication to helping eradicate this disease that has taken 25 million lives, and is currently infecting 65 million more.

Fox producers resign in protest of network's coverage; Democracy Now!

When slanted news reporting becomes too slanted:

Two weeks ago, two producers working for Fox News in Amman, Jordan resigned in protest of the network's coverage. In their resignation letter, Serene Sabbagh and Jomana Karadsheh wrote "We can no longer work with a news organization that claims to be fair and balanced when you are so far from that." We go to Amman to speak with producer Serene Sabbagh.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Missing in the fight against AIDS: Stephen Harper

Activists decry Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper's refusal to attend the opening ceremonies of the Sixteenth International AIDS Conference during a rally in support of women's and children's rights as part of the global battle against HIV/AIDS in Toronto August 14, 2006.


Wainberg said he believes Harper was afraid of being booed over his opposition to same-sex marriage by the gay-friendly AIDS research and activist community.

"Mr. Harper, for better or for worse, is perceived as being a right-wing fellow who is not a mainstream politician," [Wainberg, head of the McGill University Centre for AIDS and the conference co-chair] said.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stephen Harper, ignorant or afraid?

Many are wondering why PM Stephen Harper will not appear at the International Aids Conference in Toronto. Some say he's afraid of being booed, others complain about Harper's ignorance when it comes to Aids (read the whole article: Harper chooses Arctic over AIDS).

"I think part of the problem is that he's ignorant about the issue," said Laurie Edmiston, executive director of the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. "I wanted him to have a presence here so he could listen and learn."

Lewis has been trying to find a better explanation for why Harper won't show, calling contacts on Parliament Hill. But the New Democrat, who was Canada's ambassador to the UN in the '80s, said he hasn't received a satisfactory explanation.

"I've asked time and again why he isn't coming, and the answer I keep getting is that he doesn't want to be booed," he said.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Unannounced pay increase far from transparent

So much for transparancy by Canada's Conservatives.

The Harper government has quietly pushed through pay increases for senior government officials, sparking criticisms that it is failing to live up to its pledge for disclosure and accountability.

Senior executives, which include deputy ministers, have been given a 2.5 per cent raise on their base salary, while heads of Crown corporations will receive increases of 3 per cent.

The government executives will also get a boost of 1.1 per cent to their bonus packages -- money known as "at-risk" pay that is due to them should they meet a series of goals and objectives.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rough reception for Harper's stand-in

Stephen Harper is in the news again. This time it's about his decision not to attend the event himself.

"But even the mayor couldn't help Public Works Minister Michael Fortier, Harper's Quebec lieutenant and stand-in for the event. Fortier's remarks were swallowed up in a rising tide of boos, which then grew more deafening as much of the crowd began slamming their folding seats up and down. Harper has promised to revisit the issue of same-sex marriage in Parliament.

'Shame! Shame! Shame!' spectators cried, wagging their upraised fingers in unison."

I wonder about the polls...


Polls shows Harper is loosing ground.

Polls shows Harper is loosing ground.

"Despite a post-election surge in popularity for the Conservatives, a Decima poll of 1,009 people released Thursday showed Tory support has fallen to 36 per cent, compared to 30 per cent for the Liberals and 17 per cent for the New Democrats." - Stakes high for Harper:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

UNIFIL observers possibly killed by a so-called precision-guided missile

Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, specializing in Middle East and United Nations issues, explains;

"The four UNIFIL observers were killed after somewhere between six and eight hours of consistent shelling, during which there were ten separate phone calls made by UN officials to the Israeli military, who agreed they knew it was underway and each time told them it would stop. It didn't stop. Instead, it culminated in a so-called precision-guided missile that led to the death of the four that you mentioned."

Democracy Now! | Ahead of New Confirmation Hearings, UN Ambassador Bolton Blocks Measure Condemning Lethal Israeli Attack on UN:

Australia, all talk but the wrong actions

Australia, all talk but the wrong actions;

CANBERRA, July 27 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he would support a major multinational force for Lebanon to disarm Hizbollah, but his foreign minister said that without a ceasefire it would be a "suicide mission".

"If the world community is serious, it will put together a force of tens of thousands. That force will act as an effective buffer, and it will have the power and the will to disarm Hizbollah," Howard told Australian radio on Thursday.

So who is he blaming here, the world community? Last time I looked on the map Australia was still on it too.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel urged to shun cluster bomb; BBC News

"US-based Human Rights Watch says Israel has used cluster bombs in civilian areas during its assault on Lebanon."

See Wikipedia why cluster bombs are a threat to civilians

UN envoy says Israel uses disproportionate force in Gaza; People's Daily Online

"UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said on Tuesday that Israel used 'disproportionate' force in its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

'This is very clear, a disproportionate use (of force),' Egeland told reporters while touring the Gaza power plant, which was destroyed in Israeli airstrikes last month."


Israel-Lebanon: The mounting toll

* Number of Lebanese people killed in the two-week conflict: 422, of whom 375 were civilians.

* A further 27 Hizbollah guerrillas have been killed and 20 Lebanese soldiers.

* Number of Israeli dead since the conflict began: 42, of whom 18 were civilians and 24 soldiers.

* Number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip since the capture of Cpl Gilad Shalit: 121.

* Number of Israeli air strikes on Lebanon yesterday: 100.

* Hizbollah rockets fired yesterday: 80.

* The Israel Defence Force claimed yesterday to have hit 10 Hizbollah buildings.

* That adds up to an estimated $1bn ($600m) in damage to infrastructure.

* Number of Lebanese bridges destroyed: 105

* The number of Israeli bridges destroyed: 0.

* Number of Lebanese ports bombed: 3.

* Estimate of the number of Lebanese people displaced in the fighting: 750,000.

* Lebanon has 2,000 UN troops who have been in the south since 1978.

* Israel's military spending: $9.45bn (in 1995); Lebanon: $540"


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why is there not a murmur of protest from Washington?

Independent Online Edition > Middle East: "Why is there not a murmur of protest from Washington?'
By Kim Sengupta in Nicosia
Published: 21 July 2006

Outside the cavernous US government-run holding centre in Nicosia, Mohammed Shami shook his head. 'I feel embarrassed to be an American. They have given Israel the green light to destroy Lebanon. What they are doing is wrong; it is immoral.'

Mr Shami, who is of Lebanese-American descent, arrived here with 1,000 fellow Americans early yesterday, part of the exodus to Cyprus expected to reach more than 80,000 people fleeing the ferocity of the conflict in Lebanon.


Annan condemns Israel's excessive use of force

BBC NEWS | Middle East | In quotes: Annan on Mid-East crisis: "Israel states that it has no quarrel with the government or people of Lebanon, and that it is taking extreme precautions to avoid harm to them. Yet a number of its actions have hurt and killed Lebanese civilians and military personnel and caused great damage to infrastructure. While Hezbollah's actions are deplorable, and as I've said, Israel has a right to defend itself, the excessive use of force is to be condemned."


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Canada rather deals with symptoms than cause of the problem

Canada wants Israel and Lebanon to guarantee they will not attack seven ships scheduled to pick up Canadians stranded in the strife-torn country, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Tuesday.
The first of seven chartered passenger ships are expected to arrive at the port of Beirut on Wednesday. They will be able to transport an estimated 2,000 Canadians a day.
"We want assurances that those ships will be protected and afforded the utmost safety," MacKay said on CBC Newsworld.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Blog | Russell Shaw: The REAL Reason Israel Is Going Full-Frontal on Hezbollah - NOW | The Huffington Post

Israel uses kidnapped soldiers as pretext:

The Blog | Russell Shaw: The REAL Reason Israel Is Going Full-Frontal on Hezbollah - NOW | The Huffington Post

Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel aircraft strike economic ministry in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) - An Israeli air strike set the Palestinian Ministry of Economy building in the Gaza Strip ablaze early on Saturday, but there were no reports of casualties.

Witnesses said the building was badly damaged and still on fire after the strike.

The army confirmed the attack in Gaza City.


EU: Israel Uses "Disproportionate Force" in Lebanon

The worsening situation in the Middle East has captured the world's attention, including the European Union's, which has accused Israel of "disproportionate use of force" in Lebanon. Violence continued into Friday.

Here's the situation; on June 24 Israel abducted two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother. They were taken to Israel, but knowbody knows where they are right now.
The next day militants in Gaza abducted an Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit), which was followed by the response of Israel; attacks on Gaza. Hezbollah captures two (sic) Israeli soldiers. On Wednesday Israel began retaliating for the capture of two Israeli soldiers and sofar we are left with a death toll of 61.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In Big Shift, U.S. to Follow Geneva Treaty for Detainees

In Big Shift, U.S. to Follow Geneva Treaty for Detainees - July 11, 2006

Neil A. Lewis, John O'Neil - The New York Times:

"In a sweeping change of policy, the Pentagon has decided that it will treat all detainees in compliance with the minimum standards spelled out in the Geneva conventions, a senior defense official said today.

The new policy comes on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling last month invalidating a system of military tribunals the Pentagon had created to try suspected terrorists, and just before Congress takes up the question of a replacement system in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today.

As part of its decision, the court found that a key provision of the Geneva conventions, known as Common Article 3, did apply to terror suspects, contradicting the position taken by the Bush administration." WHOLE STORY

I wonder if this will actually change the practises so common at Guantanamo Bay

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Government Support for BC Ferries; a Stupid Idea

The latest idea from the Times Colonist staff: the government should [..] consider increasing its subsidy to B.C. Ferries to help hold rates down on tourism-critical routes.

First of all, it goes against one of the core points of British Columbia Ferry Commission mandate: (f) the designated ferry routes are to move towards a greater reliance on a user pay system so as to reduce, over time, the service fee contributions by the government.

And, personally, I don't see the "extraordinary circumstances" in rising fuel prices; they are a reality for all travelers, across B.C.

The funny thing is, the article does bring up this argument, but uses it as an excuse; a strange way of using rising fuel costs to subsidize a privately held company. Who do we support next, Air Canada, Horizon Air, WestJet, or maybe the Clipper and the Coho? And what about the taxi companies? They loose business too. And why not give HeliJet some extra support?

And what do we do when oil reaches $120 a barrel, do we double our support to BC Ferries?
It's a slippery slope with no end in sight.

Here's the kind of conclusion that straightforward thinking would produce:
Rising fuel costs are a global issue, which indeed can (and probably will) have an impact on travelers. But to financially support one (privatized) company over an other, under the show of loss of tourism, is an unfair solution and therefore the wrong way to go.

Why then not support restaurants too? If it's more affordable to dine out, then there's more money left to spend on travel; Victoria, the dining Mekka of Canada! And maybe hotels too? Great idea! Let's give everybody $25 dollars if they spend a night in Victoria!

More government support for BC Ferries is a stupid idea.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

House Republican War Crimes; William Rivers Pitt

House Republican War Crimes
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 15 June 2006

There is going to be a debate today on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding Iraq. Is it within the realm of possibility to categorize a debate on the floor of the House as a war crime? Is that too much of a stretch? Leveling a war crime accusation is deadly serious business after all, and not to be bandied about like some meager political football. Given what is expected to take place today in Washington, unfortunately, such a categorization is worth considering.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Stephen Harper and other "Ottawa Stuff"

Stephen Harper is in my hometown Victoria today. And it's busy. I wonder if he will also be challenged by local journalists about his stand not taking questions from the National press gallery anymore.

This issue is an important one. Apart from Harper's (unproven) conceived bias against him, he has not given any reason why it is that the Prime Minister's Office wants to chose who gets to ask the question. What are his objectives with this policy? To ignore tough questions?

In the meantime many abroad get little (but important) snippets of the current feuds. Here are some of the articles about the press feud: Gulf News, United Arab Emirates - Malaysia Sun, Malaysia - Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Australia. Also reactions to the "new Canadian view" on the Kyoto Protocol: Die Tageszeiting, Germany. And how about the fake news about Iran? NRC Handelsblad, Netherlands. In other words, our country is noticed again, but it's far from good news. Is this the image of Canada we want others to have about us?

Stephen Harper and the National Press GalleryHarper thinks that this press-feud is just "inside Ottawa stuff", but that time has long gone; things get noticed everywhere, and that's a good thing! We (, the people) have to be able to scrutinize the government. Harper can not be taken serious by calling the National Press Gallery biased, and doesn't offer any proof either. The argument should be reversed: "Why is Harper so biased against the National Press Gallery?" Linwood Barclay's editorial gives (funny) insight where Harper's perceived bias comes from.

A skeptical press, yes, Canada's press is quite skeptical about the Conservative party. And calling journalists biased while not offering any proof is not a clever thing to do. I hope that Canadians start to realize the importance of the issue. This is not a simple "inside Ottawa stuff" issue: We need to know what's going on in Ottawa. No media can be trusted better than a skeptical media.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is Harper up to the Job of PM?

This story is not about current problems of the media; it's all about Harper.

Stephen Harper has a problem with the media. He tells us the media is biased, but I don't think that's the case; if the National Media was really all that biased he probably would never have in office. The issue is actually quite simple: he wants the media to report what he has to tell them. And please, no questions.

Amy GoodmanIt brings me back to the interview Bill Clinton gave (video) at Democracy Now! (DN!) on election day 2000. Clinton, a Democrat, is also not used to tough questioning by (one of my favourite) journalists {Amy Goodman) which resulted in a hostile reaction:

"Now you listen to me. You ask the questions, and I'm going to answer. You have asked questions in a hostile, combatitive and even disrespectful tone [...], and you have never been able to combat the facts that I have given you."

After this show DN! got a phone call from the White House press office (US version of the PMO):

"[Clinton] called to discuss getting out the vote, and you strayed from the topic. You also kept him much longer than the two to three minutes we agreed to."

Amy Goodman replied:

"President Clinton is the most powerful man in the world, he can hang up when he wants to."

This example describes my position well. Harper does not need to answer all questions in the most detailed way; he can answer them the way he wants, even walk off when the questions become too hostile. If he's not up to dealing with the National Media, he should consider getting an easier job.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Harper: "Media, Bad Media"

Stephen Harper hates the mediaIt's interesting when politicians start blaming the media. Harper accuses the media of "being the opposition of the government". Are things that ugly already?

The media is upset with the latest controversial policy regarding questions to the prime minister. And they should be. Geoff Norquay explains:

The reality is that every new government wants to keep a tight lid on its messages and this one in particular.

I'm puzzled with such announcements. What does this have to do with the way the press functions? Are you telling me Harper is not able to keep his mouth shut when necessary? Is Harper not up to the job of prime minister?

It really isn't about the press; it's about the Conservatives, and their need to control how to "get the message out". Questions are not needed. It's simply a lot easier to answer questions from conservative-friendly journalists than from unrespectful others; you might not have the right answers up front (like Rumsfeld in this video - Realplayer).

"Real politicians" make the news themselves. Stephen Harper is one of them, using a false story by the National Post to make up his own story about a new Iranian law forcing Jews and minorities to wear badges. When the truth of the actual story was questionable, he continued with the following:
"Unfortunately, we've seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action," Harper said.
"We've seen a number of things from the Iranian regime that are along these lines . . .
"It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany."

An apology has been given by the National Post, but no comments yet from Stephen Harper; prime ministers obviously don't apologize to the public. I guess we won't be able to ask him about it either.

What is it what we, voters (and non-voters), want from a govenment? I believe that transparency is essential to a well functioning democracy, where a government is responsive and responsable to it's voters. We need to be able to ask questions, all questions, and let it be up to the prime minister (in this case Stephen Harper) in what way she/he likes to answer.

I always enjoy looking at some of the blogging tories blogs to see what kind of reasoning they can come up with. William Deemers argues that "the media lacks the ethical will to stick to reporting the news, but instead takes it upon themselves to create news ".

When it comes to news you have to take the good with the bad. Yes, free speech has limits which are outlined in our laws. I would be surprised if the majority of Canadians want any change. I also hear often from Conservative circles (and from William Deemers) that
Harper is [...] caught up with his work as PM and does not have time [to] waste every other minute talking to journalists.
Bush supporters claim the same thing too and I can only point to this story by the Washington Post. And mister Harper, it's simply part of your job to take questions from the press; get used to it or step down. Compared to European politics (which I continue to follow) we already see very little of what's going on in Ottawa; deny voters essential insight and we'll see what will happens with the next elections.

I'm wondering if Harper is considering other US tactics too: How about paying reporters to skew the news?. Maybe he'll be in for the same approval ratings of Bush too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Amnesty criticizes War on Terror and Helpless Darfur

Amnesty's latest rapport tells us that the poor suffer from the so-called war on terror. And many countries choose national security above individual human rights. These kind of changes in national policies are a sign of the times. The whole world has significantly changed into a perceived war-zone.

So what do we do to change all this? We send peace-keepers to Afghanistan and Iraq. Strangely enough there is no peace yet; Afghanistan is still fighting and Iraq, well, about 2000-3000 deaths each month tell it all. So what are peace-KEEPERS going to do when a long lasting peace is not even in sight?

Let's agree that we have to get rid of the silly word peace-keepers, and call the peace-keeping operations for what they are: military operations. Oh, I've got one more up for a reality check; how about friendly fire? There's nothing friendly about being killed by your own people. It's probably the most stupid thing that can happen, so why mistake stupidity with friendliness?

Darfur FamilyA military operation is needed in Darfur. But we're not going. All our troops are situated in Afghanistan and, beside the current 17 (!) Canadian troops in Darfur, we are not willing to offer more help than committing $40 million. The US also has it's priorities straight. Over 100.000 troops in the oil-wealthy Iraq, but less than 5% of that in Darfur. Of course, Darfur doesn't directly threaten the US national security so why worry? Who cares about 180.000 deaths when there's money to be made from prison camps to oil? Finding the right words to describe the greed is a matter of choice: state-capitalism at work, or should we call in neo-colonialism? Either way it's power before people, greed before sharing, national security before human rights. And it's not that we haven't seen this before (Arundhati Roy).

See also today's interview of Democracy Now! with Arundhati Roy:

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kyoto Protocol or the "Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate?"

Looking at the title you almost want to forget the troubled Kyoto and start the "Partnership on Clean Development and Climate". The latter sounds a lot better (sexier), but there are some real problems with this so-called "partnership". The big difference with the Kyoto Protocol is that there is no mandatory enforcement mechanism. Yes, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the goal of the partnership, but, no worries, just see what you can do and hope for the best; not much of a plan for the environment crisis we are currently in.

"We've been looking at the Asia-Pacific Partnership for a number of months now because the key principles around [it] are very much in line with where our government wants to go," Ambrose told reporters (source: CBC).

Well, at least Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is honest about where the current Government wants to go. But do Canadians want to go this way too? An Ipsos poll from 4 years ago showed that 74% of Canadians supported the Kyoto protocol. Many (75%) were also of the opinion that it is possible to develope an alternative that is just as effective but would cost the Canadian economy less.

PollutionBut the Asia Pacific Partnership isn't it. It's a cop out. Yes, we will make friends with the political elite of the US (Bush and his friends), but it will come at a huge environmental cost. Canada has seen the limits of Mother Earth before: In 1992 the cod fishery in Newfoundland led to the loss of 40.000 jobs in the industry (source: Greenpeace). This time it is greenhouse gases and global warming that are threating the future of us all. Are we continuing to work on a cleaner future through the Kyoto protocol, or are we turning our backs on the world community?

The world needs a long term solution. And it needs it quickly. Kyoto includes 163 countries, all committed to work (and economically pay) for a better environment though a protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan is there. It might not be perfect for all economic concerns that Canada has but the alternative (sofar only The Asia Pacific Partnership) seems to be "nothing more than a nice little public relations ploy." (US Senator John McCain)