Thursday, August 30, 2007

Canada regrets - but I'm sure the Korean hostages don't

These are the guys who thought that Israel's massacre of Lebanese civilians in their last (undeclared) war and the effective mining of southern Lebanon with unexploded cluster bombs was a "measured response".

Excuse me if I don't think much of your judgement.

Canada regrets S. Korean handling of Afghan hostage crisis

So says the newly shuffled Foreign Affairs minister, the guy pulled from Quebec, appointed to the senate and then the cabinet, never elected by anyone, and then given the job to "sell the war" to Quebeckers.

"We do not negotiate with terrorists, for any reason," said a statement issued by Bernier's office.

"Such negotiations, even if unsuccessful, only lead to further acts of terrorism."
Bernier was shuffled into the Foreign Affairs portfolio this month and touted as an ideal point man for communicating with Canadians - especially Quebecers - about the mission in Afghanistan.

South Korea will pull its troops out, something it was going to do anyway, and will no longer allow its nationals to perform Christian missionary work in Afghanistan.

"...Under the deal reached Tuesday, South Korea reaffirmed a pledge it made before the hostage crisis began to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by year's end. Seoul also said it would prevent South Korean Christian missionaries from working in the Muslim country."
Other relief agencies in Afghanistan do not put their people in areas where there is open conflict or danger of kidnapping for purely practical reasons. It's not a feel-good jaunt for these people, but a measured and careful commitment.
"...McCort said CARE takes what it calls an acceptance and integration approach in Afghanistan and the other countries where it has a presence. Workers gain protection of local communities by keeping them informed and getting their acceptance. They also live in those communities and employ a lot of local staff."
"We don't need to change our practice because what they (the South Korean missionaries) did, we would never do," he said.

"If you look at what we do in terms of our acceptance and integration strategies, sending a busload of people down to Kandahar is neither of those . . . We feel that our staff and safety precautions are fairly good so we're not really looking at learning much from their experience."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No such thing as a good war or a bad peace

From Seamus Milne in the Guardian:

How can this bloody failure be regarded as a good war?

"For Afghans, six years after they were supposed to have been liberated, life is getting worse. As the International Committee of the Red Cross reported two months ago, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating and civilians are suffering "horribly" from growing insecurity and violence in an increasingly dirty war. The fighting in the south has driven 80,000 from their homes, and the civilian casualty rate has doubled over the past year: more than 200 were killed by US and other Nato troops in June alone - far more than are estimated to have been killed in Taliban attacks. The savagery of indiscriminate US aerial bombardments provoked violent demonstrations and is widely seen as having increased support for the Taliban's armed campaign.

Given the manifest failure of the occupation to bring either peace or development to Afghanistan, it's not immediately obvious why it's still considered by some to be a good war - though a majority of Britons, Canadians, Italians and Germans, it should be said, want their troops withdrawn."

...[O]f course there was a time, in the 1970s and 1980s, when girls were encouraged to go to school and university in Afghanistan, women accounted for almost half the country's teachers and civil servants and the government redistributed land to the rural poor. But the US spent billions of dollars to destroy it in a cold war coup de grace and laid the foundations for the jihadist Frankenstein of al-Qaida in the process. Gordon Brown now claims Afghanistan is "the frontline against terrorism". In reality, the key to the al-Qaida threat lies in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the dictatorial regimes the west sponsors there, while its support is fuelled by the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

He points out that the majority of citizens in the U.K., Canada, Italy and Germany want their soldiers out of there - now. But why listen to the citizens, eh? After seizing the reins of power, they will have to be "pried out of their cold dead hands". Being able to strut about the world stage is more important than dead soldiers and Afghan civilians, shattered families, destroyed homes and livelihoods, ruined countries, and wasted resources.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The sickening brutality of war: how we fight

A war of aggression, killing citizens in their own country, with a weapon whose brutality is sickening.

Canadians are there and supportive, and are therefore complicit.

From Global Research :

British Army deploys new weapon based on mass-killing technology
Parliament not told, minister says

by John Byrne

"A new 'super-weapon' being supplied to British soldiers in Afghanistan employs technology based on the "thermobaric" principle which uses heat and pressure to kill people targeted across a wide air by sucking the air out of lungs and rupturing internal organs.

"...[A] second DIA study said, "shock and pressure waves cause minimal damage to brain tissue... it is possible that victims of FAEs are not rendered unconscious by the blast, but instead suffer for several seconds or minutes while they suffocate."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

There were more protesters at the SPP meeting

Red Friday Rally in support of Canadian troops attracts 1,000 to the CNE

Even with a captive audience at the CNE, there were only 1,000 at the rally. I guess that just means Canadians don't respond to jingoistic propaganda.

There were even words of "wisdom" from the Rick Hillier.

Among the dignitaries in attendance was Canada's Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, who delighted the crowd before his speech when he removed the top of his camouflage suit to reveal a bright red T-shirt underneath.

“From the soldiers' perspective, we do not believe a group of people who will whip women for wearing heels that click on pavement should be allowed to reassume control of their country and the lives of those people in it,” Gen. Hillier said in an interview.

They even put two of the badly injured soldiers on stage. What an awful thing to do. It might have inspired pity, horror or sorrow, but it won't stir up any support for the war. And we all know that this is what it's all about. There was never an question of support for the military in Canada. We hired them and we'll take care of them, but we don't support sending them somewhere where they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, even if we knew exactly what form "winning" would take.

I wonder if Stephen Harper turned his nose up at the spectacle and called it "...sad".

Friday, August 24, 2007

Okay, now that you know we're lying, we'll tell the truth

How are you supposed to trust people like this?

And they're the ones with the guns and the power.

Of course, the minister for Public Safety, Stockwell Day, tells the protesters to file a complaint and refuses to have anything to do with it himself. Who exactly is he protecting? Don't tell me - I already know, and it sure as hell ain't us.

From the Toronto Star this morning.

With the proof caught on video, Quebec provincial police were forced to admit yesterday that three undercover agents were playing the part of protesters at this week's international summit in Montebello, Que.

But the Quebec police force denied they were attempting to provoke protesters into violence. Rather, they said the three were planted in the crowd to locate any protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating. Police said the trio's cover was blown when they refused to toss any objects.

... [T]he police said after viewing a video clip from and video shot by police officers, they were able to confirm the three were Quebec provincial police officers.

Earlier, both Quebec police and the RCMP denied any of their officers were involved.

Earlier yesterday, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day rejected opposition calls for an inquiry into the role of suspect agents at the North American leaders summit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Methinks the lady doth protest too much

Guess they did it, then.

Police deny using 'provocateurs' at summit

The Mounties and Quebec provincial police deny using agents provocateurs at this week's Montebello summit, despite video evidence that suggests undercover cops tried to incite violence.

The denials Wednesday did nothing to quell mounting outrage over police tactics. Anti-globalization and union activists joined with opposition politicians to demand an independent investigation.

They also questioned whether police were acting on orders from the Prime Minister's Office and called on both Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest to denounce the use of agents provocateurs.

Photos of the men lying on the ground show the three were wearing combat boots with identical markings to the ones worn by an SQ officer kneeling beside them.

Video also shows the three eventually being led quietly away to police vans. By contrast, Coles said four legitimate protesters – whom police say were the only people arrested and charged at the summit – were "roughed up pretty good and dragged away."

Security and Prosperity Partnership in a nutshell

From Ish Theilheimer at Straight Goods:

What the Security and Prosperity Partnership means for Canada:

  • our Canadian laws must conform with their American laws
  • we will only let in people they will let in
  • our military will be led by their military
  • our energy is their energy, and that
  • any laws that hurt the corporations' ability to earn profits must be struck down.
What's not to love about a deal like that?

Stirrers were probably QPP

It seems like the agents provocateurs were probably QPP (Quebec Provincial Police). Note the yellow octagon logo on the arrested "protester" on the ground and the matching logo of the cop to the left of him.

I laughed so hard, I thought I'd never start

From a New York Times report on the SPP meeting in Montebello. Interesting to see that they had to put a hot link to Canada in the report, just in case any of the readers weren't exactly sure where or what it was.

Steven Harper does stand-up. (Don't give up your day job, Stevie. What am I saying? Please, please give up your day job.)

“A couple of my opposition leaders have speculated on massive water diversions and superhighways to the continent — maybe interplanetary, I’m not sure, as well,” Mr. Harper deadpanned.

Praetorian Guards, Part 2

It appears that agents provocateurs, planted by the RCMP, the QPP or CSIS, were trying to stir up trouble at the SPP protest in Montebello yesterday. While unions, student groups, and others were there to make a peaceful protest, even if the ever-arrogant Harper is unlikely to listen, the agents were hoping that any resulting violence would give the heavily armoured police a reason to use tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets - which they did.

There are a group of anarchists, the Black Bloc, who show up at protests all over the place. The police/government plants were apparently trying to pose as one of these. The "real" Black Bloc pointed them out as "policier".

If the RCMP have anything to do with this, their already in-the-tank reputation could drop even further, if that's possible.

A developing story - wonderful. I hope it comes back to bite those arrogant men on their collective, considerable and unlovely asses.

From the Harper Index:

Agents provocateurs active at Montebello?

"...[S]tuart Trew, of the Council of Canadians, saw the video and spoke with people who were there. "You'll hear them [the real "black flag anarchist" protestors from Quebec] screaming 'Policier, policier!' [police]. Eventually Coles looks the guy in the eyes and says 'You're a police officer'."

As Trew said, "They slip behind and start nudging the police line, you can't see if they're saying anything because of their bandanas, the police let them through eventually and take them down to the ground, and appear to arrest them." Trew points out that two agitators had matching bandanas and that there was "a substantial size difference, and what looks likes an age difference" from other anarchist protestors, but admits it is almost impossible to prove they were police officers.

The protest legal aid committee, however, received no report from authorities of their arrests, lending further credence to allegations the two were not genuine protestors. "Yes, these were definitely agent provocateurs, cops, and legal folks have no record of these supposed arrests," said Peoples Global Action (PGA) spokesperson John Hollingsworth at the Indie Media Centre.

By minimizing the significance, seriousness and size of the protest movement against his meeting with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon, Stephen Harper is attempting to manage the messages coming from his summit. Whether he succeeds depends on which spectacle is seen as sadder: the protests - or the Prime Minister holding secret meetings about subsuming the Canadian military, Canadian energy, and important Canadian laws to the dictates of the US."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sad? Yes, Mr. Harper, it is.

Stephen Harper, with the patronizing pomposity that he is famous for, shook his head and declared that the protests against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, taking place in Montebello with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon, were "sad". Such a pitiful bunch - over 1000 of them - who refused to be put in cages well away from the Great Leaders so their protests could not be heard. The inevitable scuffles broke out. Some threw stones and water bottles. The heavily armoured police in full riot gear returned fire with pepper spray and tear gas. Nice to know whose side the police are on.

So, while they meet in secret to pound out the process of turning the continent into Fortress North America, with all good things flowing north from Mexico and south from Canada into the great maw that is the U.S., we are supposed to sit back and allow it to happen.

The thought that Bush, the serial lawbreaker of both international and U.S. constitutional law, the agressor, the liar, the condoner of torture and domestic spying, the trasher of habeas corpus, the vacationer-in-chief, was entertained in our country at our expense, enrages me.

Felipe Calderon probably isn't the elected leader of Mexico. Polls before the elections showed that Manuel Lopez Obrador had a clear lead, but U.S. manipulations in the electoral process, just like they did in Canada, returned a leader who was not supported by the people. In Mexico, as in Canada, we will never know how far that interference went.

Why we should worry about the Montebello talks, by Bruce Campbell, which first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen and is linked here from, gives us more that a few causes for concern.

...[P]assenger 'no fly' lists: In June, Canada's no-fly list came into effect, part of a broader agenda of security measures negotiated under the SPP. The list is rife with potential for abuse—blacklisting innocent people, racial profiling, invasion of privacy, use of false information and faulty criteria for judging high-risk travellers.

Canada's list will likely merge with the much larger U.S. no-fly list, with major negative implications for Canadians' civil liberties.

The Arar Inquiry found that the RCMP, through their intelligence sharing practices, were complicit in the rendition and torture of Canadian citizens in violation of international law. It recommended measures to protect against future abuse. Maher Arar has still not been taken off the U.S. terrorist watch list.

The U.S. continues to systematically violate the Geneva conventions on torture and rendition, recently codifying these practices in the notorious Military Commissions Act. The Harper government has not raised its voice publicly against U.S. abuses. What is it doing at the SPP table?

...[D]omestic processing of oil: Energy security, especially oil, is a top priority for the U.S., and the Harper government is eager to oblige by facilitating the rapid expansion of Alberta oilsands production for export south.

Among the energy accomplishments cited by the SPP leaders at their 2006 meeting was a Canada-U.S. pipeline agreement that would lead to a uniform regulatory approach for cross-border pipelines.

Recently the countries' energy ministers talked about cutting red tape for various planned pipelines that would take oilsands bitumen to the U.S. for processing.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union has produced studies showing that 18,000 jobs that would otherwise be created by processing in Canada will go south.

...[S]ome 40 per cent of the pesticides Canada regulates have stricter limits than U.S. regulations. The U.S. sees them as trade barriers and wants a list of priority pesticides to be watered down.

Thanks to an astute Citizen reporter, we know the Canadian government is in talks to relax its requirements on pesticide residues on U.S. fruits and vegetables.

With the Bush administration aggressively dismantling its own regulatory systems, this harmonization concession amounts to Canada mirroring U.S. deregulation. Will this be the norm or the exception?

...[E]ach step may, or may not by itself have significant consequences for Canadian policy flexibility. But cumulatively, the negative overall impact on Canadian sovereignty and democracy will be huge.

I find serious cause for concern in those provisions. The rule of law trashed in Canada, no energy security and no food security.

What is really "sad" in all this is that we allow the U.S. and the Harper puppet regime to run Canada.

August 21, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rearranging the deck chairs

From "The Voice" on CBC's "The Current" - his take on the Harper regime's reshuffling of his cabinet.

It's Wednesday, August 15th.

Prime Minister Harper moved to re-invigorate his government by reshuffling his cabinet yesterday. Gordon O'Connor was demoted from Minister of Defence... to Minister of National Revenue.

Currently, things should go much better now… in fact some believe handing tax evaders over to the Afghan authorities… is just what the General ordered.

This is The Current.

Let's call it woman's intuition

From Lana Payne - The Telegram (Newfoundland)

Women have good reason for not liking or voting for PM

"Stephen Harper has woman troubles.
Canadian women just don’t like him that much."

"...[A]ccording to recent polls, 71 per cent or more of Canadian women say they do not support Harper, and in Quebec it is even worse if you’re the prime minister of a minority government looking for a majority. As few as 14 per cent of Quebec women say they would vote for Harper.

"...[T]he voting gender gap and Afghanistan are the two biggest problems facing “Canada’s new government.” And they are intrinsically linked. Women tend not to support war.

"...[H]is caucus has a dismal 11 per cent female members, and he refuses to support measures that would increase female participation in his own party and in the political system. He took away child care. He told women advocating for equality that his government would no longer fund their work.

"...[C]anadian women have good reason not to trust, like or vote for Harper. And all the pretty faces and spin doctoring in the world aren’t likely to change their opinion of a guy who doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

"...[W]hat is as obvious as the reasons behind the cabinet shuffle is that the only interests Harper is interested in promoting are his own.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Not in your job description

The Harper government's attempt to censor a report into the kidnapping and transporting to Syria for torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar by the CIA is an attempt not only to cover the appropriate body parts of certain government officials, but also to protect Harper's bestest friends, the Americans.

Excuse me, Stevie, but your job is to preserve and protect the rights of Canadians. (I'm saying this with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but anyway...).

[Immigration and human rights lawyer] Lorne Waldman: The issue is one of protecting the Americans. The Harper government is much more interested in protecting the Americans than the Liberals were, due to Harper's own close alliance with George W. Bush. They tried to keep from the public the direct role of the CIA in order to protect the Americans from embarrassment. I also think this government would be much more sympathetic to the national security establishment....[W]e are sure [former public security minister] Stockwell Day was involved. Given the way Stephen Harper runs this government I can't believe he wasn't directly involved. It was a very political decision at the time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Military Utopianism

Originally written following the "humanitarian" war in Kosovo, the same things apply, and will apply, to Afghanistan.

The idea that war can serve a humanitarian end, and the very concepts of "humanitarian war" and "humanitarian bombing" ...would seem outlandish not only in terms of traditional notions of humanitarianism, but also in the light of historical experience with war. Wars produce a cycle of violence and counter-violence that is hard to contain, and a great deal of cruelty, misery, and destruction. That war can be a useful means to humanitarian ends assumes a degree of control, knowledge, restraint, and nobility of Great Power objectives that we may call Military Utopianism ...The New Humanitarians have scanted discussion of postwar Kosovo, perhaps because it illustrates so well the coarsening and brutalizing effects of war..."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Frankly, my dear, I don't GIVE a damn

Vandoos puzzled by anti-war sentiment of fellow Quebeckers

...[B]ut when the conversation shifts toward people back home in his native province of Quebec who oppose his participation in NATO's fight against the Taliban insurgency, Pte. Archambault's smile quickly fades.

“They look at us like dimwits,” he said. “I don't want to be looked at like that. … I've once had a woman tell me, ‘If there weren't people like you, there wouldn't be any wars.' That's angering.”

...[B]ut to their fellow Quebeckers, the Vandoos's sense of purpose draws little sympathy for the mission. In fact, recent polls suggest as many as two-thirds of Quebeckers would like Canada to pull its troops from Afghanistan.
You may be able to take a person out of Quebec, but you can't take Quebec out of the person, I guess. Most Canadians in other provinces also feel that the Afghanistan debacle is just that, a black hole to throw money and lives into.

So, Pte. Archambault, you're angry because you've "...[h]ad a woman tell me, ‘If there weren't people like you, there wouldn't be any wars.". Well, she's right, you know. War should not be waged or fought by people who are failures at everything else. And war is the ultimate failure.

And if you're angry at people who oppose it, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Afghanistan is post-imperialism for slow learners

Simon Jenkins, in the Guardian, says that "It takes inane optimism to see victory in Afghanistan".

Well, Canada has plenty of both inane optimism and slow learners, with an unfortunately high percentage of them being in upper level government positions.

"...[I]raq is post-imperialism for fast learners, Afghanistan for slow ones.

"...[I]n the provinces, the Americans are running a guerrilla army out of Bagram, trying to kill as many "Taliban" or "al-Qaida" as possible, while the British heroically re-enact the Zulu wars down in Helmand. Neither takes any notice of President Hamid Karzai, whose deals with warlords, druglords, Iranians and Taliban collaborators are probably the best hope of stabilising Afghanistan when the foreign occupation is over. But since that is claimed by Britain to be virtually never, the only certainty is a rising tempo of insurgency.

We don't know what we're doing, so we'll just blow them up instead.

"...[T]hen there is the bombing of Pashtun villages for sheltering the Taliban. Thousands of civilians have died as a result, inducing hostility to occupying forces and a desire for revenge that recruits thousands to the cause of killing western troops. But soldiers sent to fight the Taliban have been ill-equipped and outgunned and needed air support, while air forces have craved a "battlefield role". Again, the policy is known to be counterproductive yet continues because it delivers a cheap [solution].

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Are you afraid yet?

Not only does Canada hold secret trials, in which neither the accused nor their lawyers know what the charges are, but now even the fact that hearings are being held is a secret - for "security reasons". Where have I heard that before? Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez?

I never thought that Amnesty International would have to question the legal system in Canada. What wonders the (neo)Conservative Harperite government have visited on this country in their effort to please the almighty U.S.

A new chapter in the legal drama involving suspected abuse of Afghan detainees has been playing out away from the public eye under strict, court-imposed secrecy, The Canadian Press has learned.

Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association applied on July 11 for an order to force the federal government to release as many as 140 pages of documents related to the handling of prisoners suspected of being Taliban.

...[L]aws allowing the state to keep documents secret are not new, said Amnesty International lawyer Paul Champ.

"Unfortunately, the Canada Evidence Act has some very peculiar provisions that were enacted after 9/11 that prohibited us from even telling anyone that we were challenging them," he said in an interview.

"They are very strange provisions that don't allow anyone to disclose the existence of a [court] application. The court registry is not allowed to disclose it. The registry has to keep our files segregated from the other court files and not tell anyone about them."

Holding hearings in secret is an affront to the justice system and to anyone who believes in the rule of law, Mr. Champ said.

"I think it would offend any Canadian, this whole idea that they can't even know about the existence of a court action."

...[M]r. Champ had asked for documents from National Defence and Foreign Affairs after officials from both departments testified in the first round of court action.

"It's unfair for the government to say there's no risk of torture without them being required to produce the documents they have," he said.

"We think they do have documents that do demonstrate they know there's a risk of torture or that, in fact, torture is going on in Afghan custody. And they're hiding behind the Evidence Act to refuse to disclose those documents."

When The Globe and Mail reported in April that detainees said they had been abused, the Conservative government insisted it was not aware of any suspected cases of prisoner mistreatment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Who you gonna call?

Seems there is a "phantom Taliban government" operating north of Kandahar. It must be phantom, because many of the locals have never seen any Taliban in the region.

It's obvious we've got the wrong people on this.

In a case like this, who you gonna call?


Canadian soldiers from the Royal 22nd Regiment moved deep into hostile territory over the weekend, patrolling a vast region of Afghanistan known to be sympathetic to the Taliban

Canadian troops did not confront insurgents during this trek but they are convinced the territory is guided by a "phantom Taliban government."

...[A]t best, the reception from local villagers was polite and lukewarm, as most men and children - women are absent from public spaces in Afghan villages - watched the soldiers march with a mix of fear, mistrust and sometimes hostility in their eyes.

...[A]bad, speaking through an interpreter, said he had not seen NATO soldiers in the community for at least three years.

...[V]illagers said they have never had a problem with the Taliban. Some said the Taliban have never set foot in the region.

...[T]he International Security Assistance Force, of which Canada is a member, thinks otherwise.

..."[T]here is a phantom Taliban government here," said one officer.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The RCMP as Praetorian Guard

Caesar had his Praetorian Guard, Bush has the CIA and Harper has the RCMP - their own private armies who do their bidding without oversight by the citizens.

Plainclothes Mounties, and the hotel manager, told reporters that the Prime Minister's Office had requested all media be barred from the premises, where the Tories began three days of meetings this morning.

Just one more example of "Questions? I don't have to answer any goddamn questions!"