Thursday, January 31, 2008

Natalee Holloway case "solved" by Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries

Finally there seems to be a breakthrough in the Natalee Holloway case:

Oranjestad - The Dutch television crime reporter, Peter R de Vries, says that he has solved the Natalee Holloway case. In recent weeks, he has been filming with a concealed camera on Aruba and this has, he says, clarified the facts behind the young woman's disappearance.

Mr de Vries, who has made his information available to the Aruban Public Prosecutor's Office, will not state who he believes is responsible for Ms Holloway's disappearance. He says that that will be made clear in his television programme on Sunday.
A preview of Sunday's program can be viewed here:
Natalee Holloway case "Solved" Preview (RealPlayer, Dutch only)

See also the press release of Peter R. de Vries (Dutch only), found in his website.

- Radio Netherlands Worldwide: Holloway case "solved" (English language)
- Nova: Heeft Peter R. de Vries de zaak-Holloway opgelost? (ncludes video; Dutch only)
- Peter R. de Vries

Canadian Police paid in stock by TASER International

Taser is in the news again. This time Thomas Smith, Taser stun gun manufacturer, was grilled by MPs on Parliament Hill. The Public Safety commission was questioning Mr. Smith as part of study stemming from death of Robert Dziekanski.

Deadly Tasers

OTTAWA — With his company under intense scrutiny following a high-profile death, and with a potentially lucrative Canadian business deal on the horizon, the CEO of Taser International vigorously defended his company's signature stun gun on Parliament Hill yesterday. [...]

The committee's study of tasers, and in turn Mr. Smith's appearance, were in large part prompted by the case of Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant who died last October after RCMP officers tasered him at Vancouver International Airport.

Mr. Dosanjh asked Mr. Smith whether he was suggesting that tasers played absolutely no role in the 300 or so North American deaths that occurred after the [use of one or more Tasers] in the past few years. Mr. Smith said the use of tasers was deemed a contributing factor in [the deaths of] about 30 cases.
Victoria Police Darren Laur paid with TASER stock
Here's another reason why the police love their Taser so much:
It was during subsequent questioning about Taser International's financial relationship with Canadian police officers that Mr. Smith revealed TASER International had paid two Canadian officers for services.

One of those officers, Darren Laur of the Victoria B.C police, was compensated with Taser stock after designing a holster for the device. However, it was not publicly known that a second officer was paid until yesterday's hearing. After the session, Mr. Smith said he believes the second officer was from a Montreal police force and was paid to provide taser training in Europe because he could speak French.

- Wikipedia: Taser International
- Globe and Mail: Taser CEO grilled by public safety committee
- Getting it Right: Why the Police love their Tasers so much

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Manley Panel" puts forward a "cut and paste" BS report

These are the people that undermine a democratic Canada (p4 report), by presenting a so-called "Independent" report on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan:

- The Honourable John Manley,(Chair)
- Derek H. Burney
- The Honourable Jake Epp
- The Honourable Paul Tellier
- Pamela Wallin

Excellent posts from the following bloggers to clarify why:

The Scott Ross:

The Manley Panel's Report came out today, I have just completed reading it as well as another interesting report, John Manely's contribution to a journal, Policy Options. In the October issue of that journal, John Manley wrote an entry on Afghanistan, this was before he was picked to head the 5 person panel appointed by Stephen Harper. In reading both, two passages struck me. They were not only similar, but bordering on exactly the same.

Why this troubles me is two points: the first, it seems quite perplexing how John Manley's opinion before he spent three months looking at facts and talking to witnesses can be so similar to his opinion after; the second point, is plagerism and how it affects the Panel. Now some may suggest this is not plagiarism, academically it is; but besides that fact, the references I give, by his use of old material in the forward of the report and imposing it on the work done by the Panel, it appears that he attributes conclusions he made seperately and previously, onto the Panel.
Galloping Beaver:
The report from the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan, a.k.a. The Manley Report, is now available to the public - all 40 pages of it. (Plus some pretty maps, a glossary of terms, some glowing biographies and a list of contacts).

Honest to gawd, if I had been sent on a fact finding mission for three months and produced such a piece of fluff I would have been torn to shreds. When I first read it I thought I had copied an executive summary and had missed the full document.
Far and Wide:
The people who defend the Manley panel’s relevance, point to the report’s demand of 1000 NATO troops to assist Canadian forces in Kandahar, as evidence of a hard-nosed approach, evidence the status-quo is unacceptable, moving forward. Yesterday, I pointed out that this demand was more bluster, than actual position, because the panel already had indications that NATO, specifically the Americans, were already on side with this troop increase.

Today, it comes as NO surprise to read the following:
Sources at NATO headquarters in Belgium and in the United States have indicated in recent days that two marine battalions being sent to southern Afghanistan for seven months this spring with specific orders to assist the Canadians are likely to be followed by even more marine battalions in 2009 and 2010. This was possible because the Pentagon has begun to slowly wind down combat operations in Iraq and because the marine leadership has been pressing hard for a bigger role in Afghanistan.

The officer, who did not wish to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the issue, said U.S. help for the Canadians had been in the works for several months.

A nifty post at The Scott Ross which argues that the Manley Report is a rehash of his earlier article in Policy Options, "Afghanistan: Meeting the Development Challenge". Since the article was published in October of '07, before he was chosen to lead Stephen Harper's panel, Ross suggests that the panel itself was an empty pantomime, and the other panellists sock-puppets meant to function as a chorus to John Manley's pronouncements.

Read the whole thing at the link above, but here's a couple of passages that clearly imply a degree of self-plagiarism on Manley's part.

From the report:

Whenever we asked Afghans what they thought ISAF or Canada should do, there was never any hesitation: “We want you to stay; we need you to stay.” Without the presence of the international security forces, they said, chaos would surely ensue.

From "Policy Options":

Whenever we asked Afghans what they thought ISAF or Canada should do, they did not hesitate to say that we must stay. Without the presence of the international forces, chaos would surely ensue.

So Canadian tax-payers forked out how much for this cut-and-paste job?
Canada deserves better. A lot better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Geert Wilders' Anti-Koran Movie Delayed; Wilders opion piece NOW in Dutch national paper De Volkskrant (1)

While Dutch MP is still editing his movie, Netherlands National Anti-Terrorism Coordinator Joustra warned Mr. Wilders that he will most likely have to leave the country due to security concerns.

It is interesting to read Mr. Wilder's opinion piece titled "Netherlands ruled by the Fear for Islam", which will probably be published in the Volkskrant of Wednesday January 23, 2008 (now already online).

In this opinion piece, he's tryng to convince readers that there
's a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity (rush translation):

"Imagine that when people had learned by the end of November last year that I was going to make a movie about the fascistic character of the Bible. That I had argued in an article that I would want to ban the Bible, and forwarded a motion in the Tweede Kamer (parliament).

Would our prime minister then have used the words "severe crisis" to describe the situation? Would there have been a special [secret] meeting between ministers involved and the National Anti-Terrorism Coordinator? Would the editors-in-chief of several Dutch public news shows have convened to discuss how to approach this release [broadcast or not]? [...]

Would the Vatican, would the nuntius of several archbishops of Catholic countries have uttered a similar message as the muftis of Syria and Jerusalem, namely that I'm responsible for any bloodshed that would take place after the showing of the movie? [...]

Would mayors accross The Netherlands have held meetings with priests and clergymen and ask of them not tobe provoked [by the movie]? Would I have received many tens of death threats in the last few weeks? [...]

Would the Dutch Embassies in contries where many christians live, like Germany and Belgium, have notified their citizens, and would they have made plans for possible evacuations? Would Dutch businesses have been affraid that due to the film, their export of their products to countries with many christians would have been jeopardized? [...]

Of course not.

But now this movie is not about the Bible but about the Koran, now government, media, Muslims and others have been in a hysterical panic? How can this be explained?

First of all, Islam is an intolerant ideology that does not stand criticism. Pictures of the Sooreh Hera, the Satanic Verses of Salman Rushdie, the movie "Submission" from Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh, Danish cartoons, a joke from Rudi Carrell, the opera "Aisha and the women of Medina, or my movie, time and again severe reaction will come from the Muslim world. There seems to be no place for self-reflection or self-criticism within the Islam, while responsibility and self-control is alien.
part 2 hopefully in my next posting: to be continued....

- Volkskrant: Angst voor islam regeert Nederland, Geert Wilders
- Volkskrant: Wilders-film laat nog paar weken op zich wachten
- All Geert Wilders posts

Michael Ratner (CCR) on Maxime Bernier, Maher Arar, Canada and good old torture (video)

From The Real News:
Michael Ratner is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and is shocked about what has has happened:

A Canadian Foreign Affairs training manual has created a diplomatic firestorm. At issue is a list of countries with possible torture and abuse cases. The list includes the United States. The manual was inadvertently released to lawyers from Amnesty International working on a lawsuit involving alleged abuse of Afghan detainees by Canadians. US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins has stated that the inclusion of the United States is absurd. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine Bernier promptly issued an apology, stating that the manual will be reviewed and rewritten. The Real News spoke with Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a leading expert in international law and torture and abuse cases.

Michael Ratner:

I mean, there should be just people in Canada screaming at the government about this, just screaming. It's pretty shocking that the United States ambassador picks up the phone or says something publicly and is able to essentially change what the truth is, basically change the facts, and say despite the fact that you know about Iraq, that you know about Khadr in Guantanamo, or we know torture was an everyday technique used for interrogation in Guantanamo, that one phone call, Canada would just fold when it actually, as I said, was sort of heroic for us in the United States, that our northern neighbor who had its citizens, at least Arar—and it didn't protect Arar initially—that it then went ahead and did.

- The Real News: Did Canada cave under US Israeli pressure?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Israeli Jews keep killing Palestinians at a disproportional rate; and there's more...

The Progressive reports today that Israel continues their disproportionate killing of Palestinians in Gaza:

In the first 72 hours after Bush left the MidEast, Israel killed 37 Palestinians and injured more than 90, many of them civilians. Israel said these attacks were in response to crude rocket assaults from militants in Gaza, which injured two Israelis.
But it doesn't seem to stop there:
[...] Israel is now engaging in collective punishment against all Palestinians in Gaza. It closed the borders on January 18, so not even the UN humanitarian supplies could get in. As a result, hospitals in Gaza are running out of medicine.
And there's more:

And now Israel has cut off electricity to Gaza, leaving an entire population literally in the dark. Palestinians have no way of getting clean water or staying warm during cool nights or getting enough food or cooking oil for their children, or any fuel to get to and from work.

So can Israel just do as it pleases? What about international law?

Collective punishment has long been against international law, and it violates the Geneva Conventions.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories called Israel’s actions “serious war crimes.”

War crimes, war crimes, who cares?

- the Progressive: Israel Metes Out Collective Punishment of Palestinians, Bush Yawns

Will Dutch MP Geert Wilders burn the Koran on National TV? (video)

In name of Theo van Gogh I would say: go ahead, but be prepared.

Not that book burnings are very original....

Among others, Geert Wilders claims that the Koran is used as a "source of inspiration for intolerance [..]".

It looks like he's at least right about that.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders is going to present his anti-Koran movie next week (video)

From the Dutch News show NOVA (video with English subtitles; part of the video is in the English language):

The Dutch government is getting prepared for the possible fallout of the anti-Koran movie by Dutch MP Geert Wilders, that will likely be shown somewhere in the Netherlands next week. All Dutch ministers involved with the possible fallout have discussed the issue with the National Terrorism Coordinator Tjibbe Joustra.

The ministers explained that the movie can't be censored, but stress that the movie is not supported by the dutch population or its government. If Wilders finds a hall prepared to play the movie, then it will be shown next Friday.

The gist of the movie will be something like this:
Wilders: “With the help of existing images I want to show that the Koran is far more violent than all other holy books.

"It's a fascist book, because it inspires people all over the world to the most barbaric deeds, which are contrary to all our laws and values we believe in."

A Dutch branch of the Arabic European League will present a counter-movie on the very same day. "I ask all Muslim leader to be part of this political debate and to be assertive."

The Netherlands is on high alert because of the reactions of the international Muslim community after the Danish Cartoons appeared in a newspaper in 2006. The grand mufti of Syria spoke a few days ago at the European Parliament:

“I ask the Dutch authorities to do something to prevent these kind of provocations of the feelings of one and a half billion Muslims. I also ask from the Dutch Muslims to be wise and to dialogue with those who want to burn their holy book. These kind of cases ask for wisdom, and not for retaliatory measures."

The video includes an interview with Flemming Rose, the Danish journalist who organized the Mohamed cartoon competition, which later on spawned the infamous riots. He's been asked how this upcoming movie will be received in the Islamic community.
- Wikipedia: Geert Wilders
- Wikipedia: Nova
- Wikipedia: Dutch Government
- Nova's website(in Dutch) | original broadcast (mov)