Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Galloway - 1. Harper and Kenney - 0.

George Galloway was in Calgary yesterday. His speech was sold out to a seven hundred and fifty seat house.

Before the event, he decided to visit Jason Kenney's constituency office. Kenney was in Ottawa.

Kenney, as Immigration Minister, tried to keep Galloway out of Canada under the pretense that he was a terrorist and terrorism supporter, a claim that was refuted by a judge in a sixty page decision.

Galloway wants to sue (I hope he wins big) with any money going to the Canadian antiwar movement.

From the Rabble.ca website and YouTube:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fake Taliban leader. Real money.

I can't believe this.

Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor

"For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise...[B]ut now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. ...[A]fghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

The last sentence made me laugh. It really shouldn't have but what else can you do when the world, or you, are going mad.

But wait! There's more!

"The fake Taliban leader even met with President Hamid Karzai, having been flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace, officials said."

Somebody is laughing all the way to the bank.

I'm simply don't know what to say.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chalmers Johnson: August 6, 1931 - November 20, 2010

Rest in peace, Mr. Johnson. Your books were an inspiration.

Chalmers Johnson

We lose the good ones too soon and the bad ones hang around far too long, destroying things for everybody.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free F-35's with every frozen settlement

While defense minister Peter MacKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are tying themselves in knots trying to justify the ever-larger number of billions of dollars they're going to spend on the useless hunk of flying electronic junk called the F-35, they missed out on the "Free F-35's with that" offer. All you have to do is freeze a settlement for three months.

We have some that are already pre-frozen, for more than three months every year - Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Alert - and many more. Heck. Most of settled Canada is frozen for at least three months a year.

How many F-35's to we get for that?

Or is the offer not available in North America?

"This weekend, the Obama administration promised to turn over $3 billion in stealth fighters to Israel (supplementing the 20 F-35s it will buy with the $2.75 billion in "grants" it gets from Washington) and veto any U.N. resolution that questions Israel's legitimacy -- all in exchange for Israel's pledge to extend a ten-month partial settlement moratorium for another 90 days."

Obama's Embarrassing gift to Israel by Mark Perry

Monday, November 08, 2010

The New anti-Semitism and Harper Newspeak

Several Canadian MP's as well as other "lawmakers" from around the world "vow" to fight the "new" anti-Semitism, which is basically any criticism of Israeli government policies in the middle east.

Even our very own Dear Leader Harper "pledges ‘relentless’ stand against anti-Semitism". Fine on the face of it but it's Newspeak. He's redefined it to fit his own ideolological agenda and it should not be allowed to happen.

The old anti-Semitism is well known and well understood - hatred and persecution of Jews because they are Jews. That's it and it's repellent. To redefine it will give a legitimate cover to the real anti-Semites who will lump themselves in with people who criticize the racism of the present right-wing Israeli government.

This is a very dangerous practice.

The group Independent Jewish Voices and others have put together a video to resist the curtailment of free speech that Harper and others are trying to enshrine here in Canada. Scott Reid, M.P. for this area, has been a member of the of this group trying to redefine anti-Semitism for their own purposes. He appears at minutes 3:20 to 3:21, the person on the left with the little beard, red tie and Remembrance Day poppy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Trial of Omar Khadr, by Kafka et al.

Canadian newspapers are full of the official story of the Omar Khadr trial. They seem to be swallowing it and spitting it out whole - CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star. Days and days of it and pages and pages of mostly ignorant comments.

American newspapers, on the other hand, know that the official coverage is a crock. It's very refreshing.

The foaming-at-the-mouth types seem never to have read any real coverage of the firefight and air bombardment and statements of witnesses who were there. They are confused and contradictory, but one thing is for sure. No one saw who threw the grenade that killed Sgt. Speer, who, incidentally, was not wearing his helmet at the time. He died of shrapnel injuries to the brain.

Wikipedia has an excellent, multi-referenced article on Khadr, including a detailed account of the firefight. If all the evidence had been entered into the record at something that even looked like a legitimate hearing or trial, the charges would have been laughed out of court.

From Rabble.ca and You Tube, Lalo Espejo on the trial and the Canadian response to it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First they came for Ali...

As authoritarian regimes try to stifle freedom of speech and cover their crimes with secrecy and denial, maybe we should remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller.

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Massive casualties

The commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan has said that a "flurry" of activities will occur in the fall and into next year.

When I read this, my heart sank - just when I thought it couldn't sink any further.

'Massive activities' from Canadian troops coming in Afghanistan: Lieutenant-General

"There’ll be a flurry of military operations starting with the major ones this fall, (and) there’ll be other ones certainly in the winter and spring," said Lt.-Gen. Lessard, head of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command. "We’re ready to launch."

Massive activites will lead to massive casualties but they don't seem to care.

Then comes the usual crippled logic for the whole thing.

If Canadian troops do not improve conditions in the districts before leaving next year, their sacrifices since 2006 will have been wasted, he suggested.

I can't believe that anybody with more than two functioning neurons is still using that stupid justification for mass death - of civilians and of soldiers.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

IED attacks in Afghanistan from WikiLeaks info

Using the massive sea of data that WikiLeaks released, this very disturbing video was made of the escalation of IED attacks in Afghanistan since the invasion and occupation.



Canadians seem most disturbed by a report in the WikiLeaks info from September 3, 2006 that states that four Canadian soldiers were killed by "friendly" fire (they should really retire that description) - a bomb dropped by U.S. forces called in for air support. Soldiers who were there say, in conflicting reports, that one was killed while walking along a road while another says he was killed when sticking his head through a hatchway. Canadian military types at first denied that it was friendly fire, as if getting killed one way was somehow more honourable or worthwhile than getting killed another way. Families of the dead soldiers had to relive the whole thing again. And of course we still don't know.

The next day, a Canadian soldier was killed by a U.S. bomb. There doesn't seem to be any argument on that point.

With casualty numbers going through the roof, 414 soldiers this year so far with a total of nearly two thousand since 2001, with uncounted thousands of Afghan civilians dead, wounded or displaced, why is this war still being fought?

Worse still, what is being covered up by the Canadian government - the treatment of prisoners, the numbers of wounded in mind and body, the use of defense contractors, the cost of the whole thing - now and in the future?

Who knows? Harper is taking a summer holiday. Nice that he can, that he has an income, a house that's safe to live in, in a country that hasn't been invaded by people with too many weapons and no plan.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Canada exports death around the world

-
More of the Harper government policies that are making us look really, really good.

From McClatchy:

Lobbyists push use of deadly asbestos in developing nations

A global network of lobby groups has spent nearly $100 million since the mid-1980s to preserve the international market for asbestos, a known carcinogen that's taken millions of lives and is banned or restricted in 52 countries, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found in a nine-month investigation.

Backed by public and private money and aided by scientists and friendly governments, the groups helped facilitate the sale of 2.2 million tons of asbestos last year, mostly in developing nations. Anchored by the Montreal-based Chrysotile Institute, the network stretches from New Delhi to Mexico City to the city of Asbest in Russia's Ural Mountains. Its message is that asbestos can be used safely under "controlled" conditions

Early in Harper's tenure, an international group met to discuss banning the mining and export of asbestos around the world. Most countries had already done so. The group expected that Canada would join them. The Harper government's representatives showed up at the meeting, were rude and dismissive and completely surprised one of the observers there by their boorish behaviour. That didn't surprise me, but the rest of the world hadn't got the message yet about Our Glorious Leader and Our Glorious Leader's new regime.

I sent the then-Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn an email expressing my surprise that asbestos was being mined and exported given that its use just about everywhere in Canada was banned. I received no reply. (Whoa! Who would have expected that?)

But I must admit that I thought our representatives actually represented us in those days instead of channeling Harperite policies to the 63+% of the people who hadn't voted for his party. I have been rudely awakened from that dream since then.

Gary Lunn has since been bumped down to Minister of State for Sport. I doubt whether it had anything to do with this, though. There were reports that he was giving wealthy landowners grants from a green fund to aid sustainable development, which actually didn't aid green development - but it sure aided his friends.

The present Minister of Natural Resources is Christian Paradis, Conservative MP from Quebec, smack in the middle of the mining district. The asbestos lobby is housed in Montreal and you can bet your next meal there's no asbestos in their lobby.

I'm so proud.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Officer Bubbles

Looks like a billion dollars was well spent. This "police officer" was venting his probably steroid-induced rage at a young woman blowing - oh my GAWD - bubbles at him. I felt sorry for the young woman police officer standing by this thug in his armoured, shaved-headed, bug-eye-sunglassed glory who demanded "respect".

The world needs saving from bubble-blowers.

You know, in all my years on earth I have never heard of even one bubble-induced injury. And the jerk tried to make out that it was the woman cop he was "protecting". She was handling this situation just fine until robocop tried to start something. Was he a real cop or a rent-a-thug, I wonder?

Support REAL NEWS.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Climate change effects hit Stevie's backyard

A brief but violent thunderstorm blew through Calgary yesterday accompanied by wind, funnel clouds and golf ball sized hail.

Calgary Southwest is the constituency of Stephen Harper, Our Glorious Leader and climate change denier extraordinare. Never saw a tar sands project he didn't like.

So far this year in various parts of Canada we've had insufferable heat, humidity and polluted air very early in the year, floods on the prairies - you know - where huge amounts of our cereal grains like wheat are grown, tornadoes in Ontario and Quebec, and on and on.

This is a video of what happened to the roof of the greenhouse at the University of Calgary in a few short minutes. Planning to get around climate instability by growing a country's food supply under glass? Maybe the climate deniers should check this out.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Jeremy Dwyer - nineteen-year-old hero

This guy gives me great hope for the future of Canada. Jeremy Dwyer is a human rights activist and artist. He was chosen to represent Newfoundland in an exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg.

When he found out minutes beforehand that Harper would be attending an making a photo-op out of it, he told museum staff that he would not shake hands with Stephen Harper. As Harper made his way down the line, the staff asked Mr. Dwyer to step back so he would not even be given the opportunity to politely decline the handshake.

Then they lied about it.

"...[a] spokesperson told the Telegram newspaper that Dwyer stepped back on his own because he was overwhelmed.

“That's just a ridiculous statement,” said Dwyer. “Stephen Harper does not overwhelm me.”

N.L. teen refuses to shake PM's hand
By SHEENA GOODYEAR, QMI Agency


Bravo, Mr. Dwyer! You are one of the bravest of the millions and millions who are completely underwhelmed by this man.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Opposition leaders adopt non-ostrich stance

Canadian opposition leaders - Michael Ignatieff (Lib.), Jack Layton (NDP) and Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois) - have finally pulled their heads out of the sand, or wherever they were keeping them, and have decided to set up a committee of inquiry into the G20 "security" violence against peaceful citizens. If the HarpoCons tell their ever compliant members not to show up - and they would obey because they never think for themselves - the committee would founder, as it requires members of all parties.

This would be right up Harper's behavioural alley.

We live in hope, though - the only thing left in Pandora's Box.

That vicious looking woman with the baton towards the end of the video is a cop, by the way, bashing the hell out of someone with - a CAMERA.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Police State Canada

This is video from the protest marches during the G20 summit in Toronto. One billion dollars was spent for "security" at these summits. In spite of the huge outlay, supposed "Black Bloc" protesters smashed windows and committed other crimes while the police did NOTHING.

After a police car was set alight - one that had been mysteriously left abandoned with an empty tank and the gas cap off - it was left to burn. Once again the police did NOTHING.

When peaceful protesters started to march and journalists tried to record the scene, the police weighed in with batons and attacked, brutalized and arrested nearly one thousand people who had done NOTHING.

The treatment of women held in detention at the hands of male police officers was described by one journalist. It is enough to make you sick.

But don't worry. The cops got lots of new toys to use against the next bunch of upstart citizens who dare question anything their thuggish leaders should decide. There are water cannons, police cannons and high powered assault rifles just in case you might get uppity.


Police State Canada from bill johnson on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Canada is Israel...at least in Venezuela

You learn something new every day.

Canada is really earning its stripes as the Israel's new BFF in the whole world.

This from Yves Engler, Montreal activist.

When will Canadians demand Ottawa stand up for justice for Palestinian people?

Compared to Ottawa’s cheerleading, most of the world was hostile to Israel’s actions [Gaza massacre]. Many countries criticized the killing of civilians. In solidarity with Gaza, Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador at the start of the bombardment and broke off all diplomatic relations two weeks later. Israel didn’t need to worry, since Ottawa was prepared to help out. The Canadian Embassy in Caracas took over Israel’s diplomatic relations there. Canada officially became Israel, at least in Venezuela.

I'm so proud (not).

Lighthouses or killer aircraft?

Ottawa has announced that 1000 lighthouses around Canada's coasts, 206 of which are in Nova Scotia, are "surplus to requirements" and will be sold off. Since this government has managed to put Canada into the deepest hole in a very long time and is still digging, very few will be acquired for public use. Our heritage sold off to balance the books of an incompetent administration.

In its usual doublespeak, the HarpoCons call this "an opportunity for coastal communities". Uh-huh. I believe you.

The story of the acquisition by Canada of 65 F-35 killer aircraft for the sum of $9B made me do a little math. Now, we know that $9B is a lowball estimate. The things are bound to double or triple in cost before this is all over and I can't even find an estimate anywhere of the maintenance costs.

But even the original figure yields the following:

The estimated cost to maintain the Cape Forchu Lightstation, taken over by volunteers, was $80,000 a year. Using this as an average, $9B would pay for the care and upkeep of all 206 NS lighthouses for 546 years.

Added bonuses? They don't make noise, use gazillions of gallons of expensive jet fuel, or kill anybody.

Toys for the boys or joy for the rest of us?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Photo essay of Afghanistan in the 1950's and 60's

For everyone who says that Afghanistan is a "medieval" country, this photo essay of Afghanistan in the 1950's and 60's may be an eye-opener, for those who have eyes to open, that is.

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan...by Mohammad Qayoumi

Friday, June 04, 2010

Setting up North Korea

I'm not a big fan of totalitarian dictatorships but the recent attempt to put North Korea in the crosshairs for something it didn't do is either foolish, willfully mendacious or insane.

So, in answer to my question of "Why the hell would they do that?", the following articles clear things up a bit. It was either a "friendly fire" incident by a U.S. mine laying operation while it was playing war games with South Korea in the area, which was then lied about and covered up, or it was an accident by the South Korean vessel colliding with a reef.

At first, the U.S. in the person of Hillary Clinton managed to ramp up thoughts of war in the area and wring a new base on Okinawa from the Japanese, causing the downfall of the coalition government and the frustration of the wishes of the people who live on that beleaguered island.

After the dust settled and the new base was assured, everyone else started using the real story to their advantage, wringing concessions from the U.S. - more money to South Korea, more diplomatic and economic leverage from China, more influence on both sides by Russia.

So, here are the theories, all of which make more sense that the North Korean explanation.

A U.S. rising mine sank the Cheonan in a friendly-fire accident.

U.S. mine theory from another perspective

U.S. mine theory - part three

Russia's involvement in the region

And last but certainly not least, John Pilger on illusions that lead to real consequences, Korean and otherwise.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Plucky little Israel

The stories are all over the place today, in print and online, of the attack by Israeli commandos on a flotilla of ships laden with relief supplies for the people of Gaza. In the millions and millions of words, the Israeli military whines to the world that the people on board the boats "hit them with sticks".

Now, let's think about that for a moment. One of the most well-equipped military groups in the world - probably the most heavily militarized for its size - is complaining that someone hit them with sticks, for gawd's sake. These are the guys who rappelled down from a helicopter in the dark in international waters looking like the cast from Star Wars, automatic weapons at the ready and, by some reports, firing them as they hit the deck and somehow they are the victims. What are they putting in the water over there?

Of course, here in Canada we had a unique prospective on all this. Our land was graced by the presence of Bibi Netanyahu on an official visit to his BFF Stephen Harper and his neocon friends in faith, no doubt drooling at every word that dropped from Bibi's lips. He made a speech to about a thousand followers in Toronto and collected a load of money for Ethiopian (?) Jews in Israel, I believe. It was the "Walk with Israel" appeal.

Do I think the timing was an accident? No. I'm sure Netanyahu knew of the timing of the raid. He was where he thought he would be the most welcome. And he could always use the excuse that he wasn't at home when it all happened.

Canada is now considered to be Israel's closest ally in the world. For the life of me, I can't think why. Harper's reply to the press was along the lines of regretting the action - kinda like slopping red wine on your host's antique linen tablecloth - but saying they'd had a nice chat anyway. Shame about the massacre that messed things up.

At least two Canadians were aboard those ships. No word whether they're alive or dead. But they were dangerous - you know, peace and human rights activists. You can't get much more dangerous than that.

While the rest of the world reels in horror, Canada regrets the lost photo-op. Harper's guts must be tied up in a knot. He's such a control freak that he blows gaskets when he can't manage every aspect of his image to the public. The video of him pressing the flesh with Bibi for the cameras is a sight to see. It looks like Harper has just been handed a two-week-old mackerel that's been left out in the sun.

How much longer will the Canadian government officially back the Israeli regime? What exactly do they have to do before they're give a whack up the side of the head? When will our country stand up and tell plucky little Israel that it can't do what it plucking well feels like whenever it wants?

As usual, more questions than answers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

No Plan A, either

From the Washington Post and Karen de Young on the Kandahar plan.

"The Obama administration's campaign to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan's second-largest city is a go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed. The bet is that the Kandahar operation, backed by thousands of U.S. troops and billions of dollars, will break the mystique and morale of the insurgents, turn the tide of the war and validate the administration's Afghanistan strategy.

There is no Plan B."
I'm not sure there was a plan A either.

This is going to be horrible.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is Canada slipping toward fascism?

YouTube video of Laurence Britt's 14 Points of Fascism. This was put together in the U.S. and posted on the War Is a Crime site, formerly known as After Downing Street. In Canada, almost all the signs are there.

Our one bulwark is our judiciary at the moment which has upheld that Omar Khadr's human rights are being violated in the Guantánamo prison camp, among other rulings, which has led the Harpocrits to claim that the Supreme Court is "activist" or some other such tripe. The Harper regime maintains that they will let "justice" take its course. Other examples are legion. In the last few months, they've been flowing like a waterfall.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Important documents on Afghan detainees missing

A report from the Hill Times today says that members of parliament are doubtful they will see all the documents relating to the Afghan detainee transfers and subsequent treatment at the hands of the ANP and the Afghan army. The Department of National Defence and the military appear to have "lost" them. Is this going to be Somalia all over again?

Opposition MPs are wary about the Defence Department's commitment to produce all documents on detainee transfers in Afghanistan following the Army's inexplicable failure to locate a month's worth of crucial logs and reports for an internal inquiry into detainee beating at the hands of Afghan police in 2006.

...[M]Ps say the loss of documents surrounding the 2006 incident raises comparisons to Defence Department attempts to hide and destroy documents demanded by a commission of inquiry into the beating death of a Somali civilian by Canadian troops in 1993.

Are Stephen Harper and others in the relevant groups just trying to distract and delay until they can manufacture another cause for an election and deep six the investigation? The level of secrecy is astounding. The excuse of national security seems more than a little artificial.

Neil Kitson on his blog Canadians in Afghanistan, has pointed out the conflict of interest if either Gordon O'Connor (former MND) or Peter MacKay (present one) was included on the "secret" panel:

In the nomination of of a new committee to review such documents, Gordon O'Connor, and Peter MacKay, should now be excluded by conflict of interest. Mr. O'Connor was Minister of National Defence during some of the most important periods in the transfers now under scrutiny, and he was succeeded by Mr. MacKay. Participation by either in the forthcoming review of documents would obviously put them in the impossible and illegal position of participating in Parliament's investigation of their own decisions.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The First Law of Economics

Harper once called himself a "trained economist" on a CBC interview. For the record, he has a master's degree from the University of Calgary, has never taught, run a business, met a payroll or had any direct connection with the Canadian economy - but he still knows how to run it. He was the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a mild-mannered sounding group whose real objective is reducing government to the size of something you could drown in the bathtub. All taxes are bad, according to these guys, although they and their appointed friends in the government are living high off the hog thanks to these taxes. Hmmmm...a slight disconnect here.

Harper was in Germany on Saturday - stunningly bad timing considering it was VE day - to demand, along with his sidekick Angela Merkel, that the rest of the world "rein in its spending". Astonishing hypocrisy considering the growth of non-elected Con partisans on the company payroll in Ottawa.

Today I read that Angela Merkel's party lost an election in the north of Germany on Sunday, which puts her party in a non-majority standing. She won't be able to force through her tax cutting measures. Looks like the German government is in as much disarray as everywhere else.

As for the "trained economist" blather, here's a wonderful quote from an Australian podcast called Ockham's Razor on the problem of peak oil.

The peak of oil production is past

The flat oil production plateau of 2005 to 2008 was a brilliant illustration of the fact that the predictive powers of economic theory are very limited. In spite of its technical jargon and its liberal use of mathematics, economics is more art and guesswork than a science. That's why the First Law of Economics states that for every economist there exists an equal and opposite economist.

Most of the economic policies and bank regulations were in place before Harper took command of the ship. He was busy trying to deregulate everything, including a push for zero down/forty year mortgages and allowing U.S. mortgage lenders and their lack of any checks or regulations to operate in Canada.

It was sheer luck and fortunate timing. The world started to melt before Canada had boarded the ice floe. To think that Harper has anyone to thank for it but his Liberal and Progressive Conservative predecessors is a fantasy.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

An offensive by any other name is still offensive

From Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com:

As NATO Rebrands Kandahar Invasion, Residents Express Concern

Having spent months touting its upcoming Kandahar “offensive” to the world as the centerpiece of their 2010 plans for the ongoing Afghan War, NATO has decided that “offensive” doesn’t sound very good, and has reported decided to rebrand the invasion as a “process” or conversely a “series of efforts.”
The Kandahar Process. It sounds like a chemical process.

Or maybe a reverse Philosopher's Stone which turns gold into lead.

As for the Kandahar Series of Efforts - nope. Won't fly.
“More foreign troops means more attacks and more dead civilians,” noted Khan Mohammed, a car dealer in Kandahar, adding that NATO should “open their eyes and realize they can’t beat the Taliban through military means.”
Will somebody take this guy and make him King, please? He seems to have a firm grip on the situation.

And, after nearly a year under McChrystal's command, every month from July 2009 onward (he took command in mid-June 2009) had more casualties than any other of the same months since the beginning of this "war". How, in anybody's reckoning, does this look like success?

As I write this, the casualty count for 2010 is 185, almost as many as all of 2006 at 191. Numbers have been going up exponentially year after year.

And, of course, there's this to look forward to.

Attacks signal end of poppy harvest in Afghanistan

Once the crop's in, the guns and bombs come out.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Note to Erik Prince: praise from a psycho isn't praise

Jeremy Scahill received a taped copy of a speech by Erik Prince revealing the extent to which his mercenary operation is involved in the death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and his plans for endless war across the planet anyplace his ultra-right wing crusader mentality decides.

Iran is the "centre of badness" according to this wingnut. We keep hearing the same garbage from Harper's government spokes-droids, including Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, who said this at the U.N. the other day:
"It's the same speech, the same aggressive tone," Cannon said. "Nothing today would indicate that that tone nor that aggressive behaviour on his part, nor on the government of Iran's part, has changed."
Interesting that he could comment on a speech that he walked out on. Must have superhuman hearing.

Forget that Iran hasn't attacked anybody in about a thousand years. Why spoil a good story with the facts?

Americans are paying good money to Prince's operation - but so are Canadians. Blackwater trained some of our soldiers at our expense. Who knows what else they were trained to do?

He had these words about Canadians, which damn near made me sick.
Canada, however, received praise from Prince. "The Canadians have lost per capita more than America has in Afghanistan. They are fighting and they are doing it and so if you see a Canadian thank them for that. The politicians at home take heavies for doing that," Prince said. He did not mention the fact that his company was hired by the Canadian government to train its forces.
As far as I'm concerned the politicians here aren't taking nearly enough "heavies" for this.

I hope this has nothing to do with the Afghan detainee issue and cover-up by Stephen Harper's government.  I feel a bout of nausea coming on.

And keep your thanks to yourself, Prince and Princelings. It's not welcome.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The shame isn't only Obama's

Andy Worthington writes about the kangaroo court that is dealing with Omar Khadr in Guantánamo Bay.


Prosecuting a Tortured Child: Obama's Guantánamo Legacy

From the most important thing - that he was fifteen years old at the time - to his untreated injuries, torture, evidence that was revisionist, to say the least, retroactive laws drawn up after to cover what happened before and the attempts at a plea deal to subject him to even more time for a crime he was not old enough to, or no one is even sure he did, commit, the whole shameful episode is all there.

But the shame isn't only Obama's. There was not a peep out of the Canadian government either, which follows a deplorable trend under Stephen Harper's Conservative minority government to simply abandon Canadian citizens abroad if they happen to be the wrong colour (anything but white), the wrong sex (anything but male), the wrong religion (only Judaeo-Christians need apply) or less than stunningly wealthy. If you have one or more of these marks against you, you're out of luck.

On second thought, being stunningly wealthy will go a long way towards having the other drawbacks ignored. 

A small sample here:

Abousfian Abdelrazik

Brenda Martin

Suaad Mohamud Haji

Harper insists that the U.S. government has a right to continue to do what it does, in spite or our laws, our constitution, or that Canada is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and to the U.N. Declaration on the rights of the child. The law seems to be of no concern to him except when it applies to someone else's supposed violations of it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Secrecy - the first refuge of incompetents

What is Stephen Harper covering up when he cites National Security and the security of the "troops" as reasons for not disclosing relevant information regarding transfer and subsequent torture of Afghan detainees?

Now, if that's not enough to make a person lose their last meal...

Scott Horton, referring to the subpoena of a NY Times reporter and author who disclosed CIA incompetents (and incompetence) in dealing with Iran refers to a the report of the Commission on Government Security, the Committee on Government Operations of the [U.S.] House of Representatives, 1960 Report and the place of secrecy in a democracy:
"Secrecy—the first refuge of incompetents—must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society, for a fully informed public is the basis of self-government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than the people."
 Horton goes on to say that
"... But mistakes that are kept secret are more likely to be repeated, and those who commit them are more likely to advance to positions in which they can do more costly damage. ...[T]he public’s security was in this case plainly served by disclosure, and the prosecution that is apparently being mounted is another gallant defense of the government’s right to keep its inept conduct secret not from foreign enemies but from the American public. Such steps make us dumber, weaker, and less safe."
Same goes here. Incompetents in high places is not a recipe for success.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bring it on

Neil Kitson, doctor, educator and anti-war activist is keeping an eye on Canada's freaking government and its activities in Afghanistan.

Neil's blog, Canadians in Afghanistan gives you an idea what this guy is all about.

Re the Harper government's refusal to hand over papers on detainee abuse in Afghanistan, here's a quote from an article posted on Antiwar.com today, Canada’s ‘Whole Freaking Government’ Approach in Afghanistan
"One of the reasons for the flagrant obstruction of justice by the current government in Ottawa might be that if the truth comes out in Canada, the truth will also come out about NATO, a lot of famous people might end up on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, or even better, Québec Superior Court, which conducted a successful investigation and prosecution regarding war crimes in Rwanda (R.C. Munyaneza, 2009 QCCS 2201) using the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act of 2000 [.pdf] and subsequent case law, and the world might never be the same."

Bring it on.
Dr. Kitson, I second that emotion. (Thanks, Smokey.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whoo-hoo! Milliken rules!

Tories have two weeks to release Afghan files
"Speaker rules government's refusal to hand over uncensored documents on Afghan detainees violates privileges of House of Commons."
Apparently Stephen Harper wasn't in the House when the ruling came down.

Surprise, surprise.

Sliding towards dictatorship

It looks like Duncan Cameron doesn't think Peter Milliken, speaker of the house, will rule against the Harper regime. It will more likely be a slap on the wrist and presto! the basis of our government has changed.

Parliamentary supremacy and the Speaker's corner
by Duncan Cameron at rabble.ca
"Most people expect Speaker Peter Milliken, a Liberal, to sidestep the issue of parliamentary supremacy; he may issue a rebuke to the Harper government, but acknowledge the legitimacy of cabinet ministers making their own secrecy determinations."
I'd love to see him rule that the Harperite stance is illegitimate, but I fear he won't. But will they get away with this?
"The Conservatives have breached international law by handing over of Afghan detainees to be tortured, and should be prosecuted under the Geneva Convention, irrespective of the Speaker's ruling. We do not need additional proof or "secret" documents in order to arrive at that conclusion. But we do need to face the issue of disregard for parliament raised by the Harper government on a daily basis, irrespective of any crimes it has committed."
And what of the whistleblower Richard Colvin, one the people supposedly given "real protection" by Harper and his Accountability Act?
"Richard Colvin is the Canadian diplomat who raised the issue of torture inside the government. He was called to testify before a parliamentary committee on what he knew, and when he knew it. While making his testimony, on orders of the Conservatives, he was denied access to his own emails.

A public servant called as a witness before a parliamentary committee and unable to access his own work while testifying? Even George Orwell did not imagine tyranny being that imaginative. Every Conservative MP deserves to be defeated in the next election."

So, "real protection" consists of piling on Colvin as soon as he opens his mouth, virtually calling him a liar, misrepresenting his work, and then taking cover behind a pile of redacted documents as high as the Berlin Wall?

I feel a major depression coming on...again.

Last bastion of Bushism

Harper is trying to put a human face on his regime by pretending to be concerned about maternal and child health in developing countries. He even put it forward as as the theme of the upcoming G8 meeting.

At first it didn't include family planning and contraception.

Then it did.

But now, it does not include funding for safe abortion services. No, no way, nohow. Abortion is legal and funded here (for the time being, anyway). But other countries? Not for Harper and his base.

From the Globe and Mail:

Ottawa refuses to fund abortion in G8 plan
"The question of whether family planning would be part of the G8 maternal-health initiative is deemed important by most experts because many of the estimated 500,000 childbirth deaths in developing countries each year are caused by complications from women becoming pregnant too young and too often in quick succession.

The inclusion of safe abortion services, where they are legal, is also promoted by many experts, because so many deaths are caused by complications from botched abortions."
...[F]unding family planning but not abortions will be impractical in the real world, said Katherine McDonald, executive director of Action Canada for Population and Development. To cut off abortion funding, Canada must cut off all funding for any family-planning program that provides abortions.

“If Canada follows that model, it’s a replica of the Bush-era global gag law. If they don’t, how will we know that none of the money is used for abortion?” she said.
 Bush-era global gag law. We're looking better and better here.

Arrogant bastions.

George Galloway hearing postponed

George Galloway, MP (Respect), is contesting his being banned from entering Canada on the grounds that he is a supporter of terrorism and a danger to the country.

His hearing was supposed to take place yesterday, but due to an injury sustained by one of his lawyers, the hearing has been postponed until tomorrow. (She fell down the stairs and possibly broke her foot. I've done that. I thumped around for two weeks like Long John Silver.)

Just a reminder of it all from a year ago (April 1, 2009) on Democracy Now, when Amy Goodman spoke to him after he had to do his scheduled talks by video link to Canadians.

GEORGE GALLOWAY:"It’s not as good as being there in person. But it just shows that it was a foolish move politically, as well as quite a dangerous one. It’s a creeping problem, I think, in Canada, that their government is the last bastion of dead-end Bushism in not only North America, maybe in the world."

....AMY GOODMAN: Finally, George Galloway, President Bush did get into Canada, despite a Canadian group, the Lawyers Against the War, calling for his arrest or deportation. The Canadian government ignored their request, though they did deny you entry.

GEORGE GALLOWAY: Yes, and on the grounds that I was a national security risk, which will have come as a surprise to the Homeland Security Department here and to the Speaker of the House of Commons, with whom I’ve sat with for twenty-three years. Yes, I mean—

AMY GOODMAN: We have twenty seconds.

GEORGE GALLOWAY: George Bush, dangerous killer, here’s a million-dollar fee, come and speak. George Galloway, antiwar leader, don’t bother turning up.

AMY GOODMAN: George Galloway, that does it for today’s broadcast, British lawmaker, British MP, banned from entering Canada. He’s addressing the Canadian people through video link every night from here in New York.
"..the last bastion of dead-end Bushism in not only North America, maybe in the world."

Thanks, Stevie. I'm so proud.

Your tax dollars at work

This morning, the National Post announced that Blackwater trained Canadian troops.

Yes, Canadian taxpayers enriched the degenerate and probably criminal Prince and his mercenary company.

But, this is news?

I don't think so.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Charles the First moment

Next week, the Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, will rule on whether Stephen Harper was in contempt of parliament when he refused to hand over unredacted papers to the parliamentary committee investigating allegations of torture of Afghan prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities.

From The Hill Times:

House Speaker to rule on historic confrontation between PM, opposition parties

"House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken will rule this week on the historic confrontation between the opposition parties and the government over Prime Minister Stephen Harper's refusal to hand over secret information about potential detainee torture in Afghanistan, sources say. "

Attorney General Nicholson maintains that it is his right to refuse access for national security reasons. Others maintain that the power of governance is in the hands of the elected members of parliament, most of whom are not members of the minority Conservative Party now in power.

I hate to think what may actually be in those papers if they are trying so hard to cover them up. The truth will out, I'm sure. Harper just hopes he can stall long enough that the whole thing will just go away.

"Liberal MP Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River, Ont.) launched the Commons legal attack against the government nearly two months ago, after Prime Minister Harper suspended Parliament for a month to delay the government's reaction to a Dec. 10 opposition motion ordering production of the uncensored documents...'[I]t is only among the uninformed and the negligently ignorant that the power to send for persons, papers and records would appear unclear,' Mr. Lee told the Commons in his rebuttal to Mr. Nicholson. 'Those powers and authorities are all part of Canada's Constitution. How desperately embarrassing it is that the attorney general of Canada could stand in this place and say these things.'"

The uninformed and negligently ignorant. That's what we're stuck with at the moment.

The Globe and Mail on April 21 quoted Errol Mendes, University of Ottawa law professor and constitutional expert, on the importance of Peter Milliken's decision.

“It’s huge,” said Errol Mendes...[C]enturies of precedent dictate that Parliament is supreme in holding the government to account, he observed.

“If the Speaker rules against the opposition motions, it would not be too hyperbolic to say we have changed our system of governance,” he maintained. “The executive would no longer be accountable to the House of Commons.”

But then again, Stephen Harper never wanted to "first among equals" or to share power with anybody. He doesn't even have a deputy prime minister. I suppose that would be as alien to him as the idea of a deputy dictator.

In 2006, Shortly after Stephen Harper was elected as PM, D.L. McCracken brought together this trio of quotes by and about Stephen Harper.

"Three ads in particular stand out - Stephen Harper is quoted in the first ad as saying, "America, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world"; from an article in the Washington Post in late 2005, "Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the western world. Harper is pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto and socially conservative. Bush's new best friend is the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader. A Harper victory will put a smile on George W. Bush's face."; and finally this little gem, "Canada is content to become a second-tier socialist country boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status. You won't recognize Canada when I get through with it". "

It must be working. I don't recognize Canada. I'm a stranger in a strange land. What we need at all these hearings and inquiries is a Fair Witness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tell me, dear, did the earth move for you?

I think Rush Limbaugh may have found his spiritual soulmate in Iran.

Cleric: Promiscuous women cause earthquakes


A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

Makes more sense than Rush's health care bill accusation...just.

Maybe the Iranian cleric was being a bit subjective. TMI maybe?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Several minutes of insanity with Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh thinks that some god vented his spleen in Iceland because Obama passed some version of health care in the U.S.

Of course.

Makes sense to me.

Is there any link between the institution of European and Canadian universal health care and eruptions in the U.S.? I'm not even going to waste my time checking that out.

Limbaugh loses his last marble

...[c]onservative icon Limbaugh said the surprising strength and timing of the eruption suggests a God displeased with the passage of health care reform.

"You know, a couple of days after the health care bill had been signed into law Obama ran around all over the country saying, 'Hey, you know, I’m looking around. The earth hadn’t opened up. There’s no Armageddon out there. The birds are still chirping.' I think the earth has opened up. God may have replied," he said on his radio show Friday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Twenty minutes of sanity with Andrew Bacevich

Why isn't anyone listening to this guy?
"...I'm sure this sounds too simplistic. It would be way too simplistic for people in Washington. But if you want to get out of a war, you get out of a war."
Andrew Bacevich talking to Bill Moyers on April 9, 2010.

Friday, March 26, 2010

When injured soldiers become annual statistics

We are a small country, population-wise, and every military death in Afghanistan, whether battle-related or not, has been reported in local and national newspapers, accompanied by a solemn, usually young, face looking straight at the observer. With every report of a death, there has been the number of wounded, too, until recently.

That was why many people were surprised to hear of the death in an Edmonton hospital of Corporal Darren Fitzpatrick of severe injuries to his lower body by an IED outside Kandahar. He was treated first in Kandahar, then the U.S. hospital in Germany. He was stabilized and brought back to Canada at his family's request and died the next day. He spoke to them before he died, a small comfort, I suppose, in a world of hurt.

But if he had not died, we wouldn't have known. The Department of National Defense does not report the number or severity of injuries, only the number of casualties so Canadians in general are completely unaware of them.

But now the propaganda is coming out, even if the facts aren't.

Canada forbids reporting of battlefield wounded

"The Canadian military has quietly stopped reporting when soldiers are wounded on the battlefield and will instead deliver annual statistics to the public.

The stark policy shift is described as a deliberate attempt to keep the Taliban in the dark."

"The weekend death of Corporal Darren Fitzpatrick in an Edmonton trauma centre brought the directive to the forefront. The 21-year-old was mortally wounded in a previously unreported March 6 roadside bombing."

Apart from the deliberate attempt to keep the horrible consequences of an ill-conceived war from Canadian citizens, it was the cool determination to relegate them to annual statistics that bothered me the most.

First, how many years are we expecting to be reporting these statistics? I thought the "mission", whatever it is, is supposed to be finished in 2011, although that seems highly in doubt now.

And second, since when do military injuries become numbers to be reported like the annual per capita consumption of cheddar cheese or the vacation destinations of the traveling populace?

It's the second line of that quote that tells it all, though, that the withholding of injury statistics would keep the "Taliban in the dark".

One problem with that, though. The Taliban were there. They saw what happened and they send the information to their network. They don't send GPS-guided rockets or direct missile-laden drones from miles or continents or hemispheres away.

So, who exactly is being kept in the dark here, eh?

We have become a nation of mushrooms.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I guess Canadians aren't really leaving Afghanistan, then.

Peter MacKay, Minister of Defence, has kicked General Leslie, the head of the Canadian army, out of a job. Well, not really, but they just don't know where they're going to put him yet. So they say. I believe them. Sure.

Head of Canadian army shuffled out of job

"The head of Canada's army, who was set to play a major role in the withdrawal of the Canadian combat mission from Afghanistan next year, has been moved out of his job, officials said on Wednesday."

"Leslie, chief of the land staff, made headlines early last year when he said the army was worn out and would need at least a year to recover once the 2,800-strong Afghan military mission ended in 2011...He later reversed his position, citing increased investment in the military.

"He is no longer chief of land staff, but he awaits future responsibilities ... (he) has several options under consideration. He's a very capable and valuable officer," said a spokesman for Defense Minister Peter MacKay."

Yeah, yeah, sure, Peter. What a mealymouthed, lukewarm piece of organic fertilizer that is.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come not to bury Leslie but damn him with faint praise!
You believe me, don'tcha? Huh? Huh? Don'tcha?"

In his place?

"Leslie will be replaced by Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, currently deputy commander of Canadian troops based abroad. He served a 15-month tour in Baghdad from 2006 to 2008 with the U.S. military as part of an exchange program."

So that makes two. Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk was also in Iraq. Few Canadians know the extent of Canadian military involvement in the illegal Iraq war.

Now the chief and the head of the army can boast of having Iraq War creds carved into their bedposts.

Could this have anything to do with the rumour that the U.S. will be asking (demanding?) that Canadian soldiers stay in Afghanistan, supposedly as "trainers" after the parliamentary mandated 2011 withdrawal date?

General Leslie said last year that the Canadian army is exhausted. So are the Canadian people and their tax money.

Generals speaking inconvenient truths?

Just put them in the discard pile and shuffle the deck.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Secrecy - the first refuge of incompetents

Here are a few words to the HarperCons while they attempt to cover up the "who knew what and when" of Afghan detainees captured by Canadian soldiers and handed over to Afghan authorities, even after the government had been warned by the Red Cross and their own diplomats in Afghanistan that they would be almost certainly subjected to torture.

They have repeatedly denied knowing anything, then attempted to hide behind the Canadian military or the previous government.

This from Scott Horton, constitutional law expert who writes a blog titled No Comment for Harper's (no connection to Stephen Harper, not at all).

Scott Horton, March 19th, Harper's, No Comment

The Pentagon loses a Skirmish with WikiLeaks

On the subject of secrecy:

In 1960, a congressional committee, recognizing the need to rein in the extravagant claims of secrecy that were thriving in the Department of Defense and intelligence community, observed that

Secrecy—the first refuge of incompetents—must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society, for a fully informed public is the basis of self-government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than the people.

I don't suppose the Harper regime is listening, though. They never do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Vengeance is MINE", sayeth Stephen Harper

Looks like the HarperTories are ignorning research that conflicts with its "beliefs", "values", or whatever they're calling their own small minded views which bear no resemblance to facts or reality.

Tories ignore taxpayer-funded crime research
By BRUCE CHEADLE, The Canadian Press


"The most recent issue of “Criminological Highlights” published last month by the University of Toronto’s Centre of Criminology, with federal assistance, blows gaping holes in several of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s most cherished anti-crime measures."

In the cross-hairs is mandatory minimum sentencing, loved dearly by all the Harperites who think they are the old testament god raining pain and punishment on the sinners and miscreants...unless it's one of their own, of course.

Rahim Jaffer, former MP for Edmonton Centre and married to present sitting MP Helena Guergis, was apprehended last year for speeding and driving dangerously, driving while intoxicated and possession of cocaine. Under Stevie's Tough-on-Crime laws, he would have been inside for about fifteen years. Instead, he got a dangerous driving rap, a $500 fine, and a walk - no criminal record.

"Mandatory penalties, says the research digest, “undermine the legitimacy of the prosecution process by fostering circumventions that are wilful and subterranean. They undermine . . . equality before the law when they cause comparably culpable offenders to be treated radically differently.”

In simpler language, people who can afford good lawyers cop backroom plea bargains to avoid harsh mandatory sentences, while the average Joe is hit hard."

The studies have shown that MM sentences do not deter crime, but the Tories just don't believe it. After all, what you "believe" is more important.

"What is certain is that mandatory minimum penalties increase prison populations at huge cost to taxpayers, which is why many U.S. states, New Zealand and Britain all are attempting to unwind such sentencing rules after many years of costly experience."

So, while the economy is tanking and people need help, the Tories want to expand prison building all over the country. One in Kingston, Ontario, had a farm attached to it that produced milk, eggs and other foodstuffs for the population, processed meat for the local livestock operations, and gave inmates experience in working in a business - orders, billing, shipping etc. Now the Harperites want to close the farm so that they can - ta, DAH! - build more prison space to house the expanding prison population.

Is this the new job creation program - lock up more people and then hire a bunch of out of work people to guard them? Is this sustainable? I don't think so.

So - why are they doing this? I think this guy might have the answer.

“The great appeal of mandatory minimum sentences is that they give politicians the appearance of doing something, of being seen to be doing something,” Craig Jones, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, said in a recent interview.

“You must never underestimate the need for politicians to be seen to be doing something — even if, in some cases, it’s the wrong thing.”

But Harper gets his inspiration from the movies, not research.
“Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong, they say; crime is really not a problem. These apologists remind me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wizard says, ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”’

Harper's mephistophelean former chief of staff Ian Brodie said

"that informed criticism of the government’s justice agenda is a political gift: 'It helped us tremendously to be attacked by this coalition of university types.'"

I wonder if these guys would like someone with the least or no qualifications to operate on them, fix their car, wire their house or fly their plane. When it comes to government policy, they are basing their decisions on hot air and revenge. They aim not at the lowest common denominator but the lowest IQ that can sustain life.

Wonderful.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The big Marjah lie, or the lie that Marjah is big

Good heavens! Is General Staley McChrystal and his army of COIN swallowers lying to us? No. Can't be.

Somehow, I'm more likely to believe Gareth Porter.

Fiction of Marjah as city was U.S. misinformation

"For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a "city of 80,000 people" as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marjah was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centers in Helmand.

It turns out, however, that the picture of Marjah presented by military officials and obediently reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as a historic turning point in the conflict.

Marjah is not a city or even a real town, but either a few clusters of farmers’ homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmand River Valley."

Go on. Check it out on Google Earth.

And even with such sparse population, they still managed to get it wrong and kill civilians and then cry big tears about it.

In April 2006, John Pilger, who's been reporting on disastrous wars and lying politicians for a long time, had this to say about unquestioning belief in his article The Real First Casualty of War:

"During the 1970s, I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. The dissident novelist Zdenek Urbánek told me, "In one respect, we are more fortunate than you in the west. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and watch on television, nothing of the official truth. Unlike you, we have learned to read between the lines, because real truth is always subversive."

This acute skepticism, this skill of reading between the lines, is urgently needed in supposedly free societies today. Take the reporting of state-sponsored war. The oldest cliché is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship that goes unrecognized in the United States, Britain, and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries, such as Iraq."

And the new guy, handpicked to oversee Marjah (with binoculars, I presume) and bring peace and stability?

New Afghan leader was jailed for attempted murder in Germany

"Abdul Zahir, the Afghan tribal leader chosen to bring law and order to the area cleared by the joint US and British troop surge, has previously been jailed for attempted murder.

Mr Zahir, who has been appointed as administrator for Marjah, was given a four-year sentence in Germany for stabbing his 18-year-old stepson with a kitchen knife.

He will now be in charge of bringing good government to the former Taliban stronghold targeted in Operation Moshtarak after being backed by President Hamid Karzai and US military commander General Stanley McChrystal."

Whoops. Looks like the Telegraph swallowed the "Taliban stronghold in Operation Moshtarek" organic fertilizer, too.

But the new Marjah mayor? He's - what can I say? - perfect.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Are we there yet? Turning corners with Petraeus.

Petraeus was in Ottawa yesterday, chatting to his military buddies. Don't blame me. I didn't invite him.

Really - these guys have got to get some new speechwriters.

Captions for this picture?

"David! Lovely to see you. Mwah!"

Afghan mission turning a corner, Petraeus says

“There's some minefields that you should go around rather than go through,” he quipped in response to a question on Ottawa's exit strategy.

I'm not much on military strategy here, but who in their right minds would choose to go through a minefield?

Later, speaking to reporters, he said: “Obviously, we always like to see everyone continue to pitch in.” But he added that military commanders will find ways to compensate for the loss of Canadian combat troops.

Pitch in? What is this, a barn raising or a pot-luck supper?

In the meantime, he said, the fight in southern Afghanistan will become yet tougher before the situation improves. Still, he argued that after nine years the war has turned a corner

Always darkest before the dawn, yadda, yadda. And exactly which corner would that be? The one you turned to avoid the minefield? What is this guy talking about?

“Having worked hard this past year to get the inputs right … now [the International Security Assistance Force] and its Afghan partners can start to see the progress that is possible,” he said.

Getting the inputs right is okay if you're setting up a sound system or working on a spreadsheet. I don't have the slighest idea what he's going on about here. What inputs? What makes them right? But the "we can start to see that progress is possible" is a total load of organic fertilizer.

Gen. Petraeus...[p]redicted that NATO will “regain the initiative from the insurgency” by following a counterinsurgency strategy similar to the one he followed as a commanding general in Iraq.

Yeah, that's going well.

The offensive in Helmand province to retake the town of Marjah will serve as a model for future operations in other Taliban strongholds, including Kandahar.

An aside. Once when I was traveling on a rather long plane trip from a northern location, I was sitting beside a cook from a lumber camp. Apart from a few tips on how to cook arctic char (landlocked salmon) he said that after cooking for hundreds at every meal, he was really bad at cooking for small groups. He said that recipes don't scale up or down very well, i.e. that cooking for one hundred people didn't just require multiplying a recipe for ten by ten. That's the kind of scale we're talking between Marjah and Kandahar.

Just saying.

“What we learned from Marjah was it's okay to announce that you're coming if you don't want to get into a slugfest right in the city you are trying to save,” Gen. Petraeus said. “That means some of the bad guys are going to get out the back door. That's okay, because we'll track them down. The objective is to secure the population.”

Slugfest, bad guys - sounds like comic book. Bam! Pow! Gotcha!

Ye gods.

“There's an Afghan clock, a Washington clock, an Ottawa clock and a lot of other clocks out there. … We know we've got to get on with it.”

Oh my gawd. He's added an Ottawa clock to all the other clocks.

Does anyone know what time it is?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The plan for future wars - NATO has the answer

.
I think we may be in a lot of trouble here.

Afghanistan a model for future crises: NATO

Afghanistan will serve as a prototype for future civil-military co-operation in handling crises in other weak or failing nations, says NATO's chief.

What planet is this guy living on?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The future face of Canada - white, ugly, and bigoted

Jason Kenney, the Immigration Minister for Canada, represents the ugly face of Canada in the future if the HarpoCons have their way.

Kenney blocked gay rights in citizenship guide: documents

"...Kenney told a session with Toronto-area Punjabi journalists that gays had every right to marry — as long as it wasn’t someone of the same sex."

Sorry, Mr. Kenney. I don't expect you to know this but gays have every right to marry whomever they please in Canada. You should know that. Spreading misinformation is unbecoming to a cabinet minister. It may even be illegal.

"...[K]enney appointed a longtime Conservative who opposes same-sex marriage to the Immigration and Refugee Board, which among other things makes decisions about whether gays can be given refugee status in Canada.

That sounds completely illegal. too. But what does the law matter to the HarpoCons.

When questioned by a gay rights group, Egale,

"...Kenney told the group that gay rights had been “overlooked” when the guide was being prepared, executive director Helen Kennedy said in an interview from Toronto."

That's either a baldfaced lie or you don't know what's going on in your own department. Neither looks very good in the old competence thing, does it, Jason? Thought nobody would notice?

"Kennedy expressed surprise when told draft versions of the guide did, in fact, contain references to gay rights and that they were ordered removed."

Is that your trousers I smell burning, Mr. Kenney, or is it the hellfire and brimstone under your feet?
"...The Canadian Press previously reported that other sections of the draft version of the guide were excised at the suggestion of the panel of prominent Canadians.

The deleted sections included one reference that said Canadian churches ran Indian residential schools, where aboriginal children were abused.

Oh, yeah, the residential schools thing, where children were sexually and physcially abused by sadistic or pedophilic religious figures, including Catholic priests.

Did I mention that Jason Kenney is an evangelical and vocal Roman Catholic, intent on foisting the church's beliefs on other Canadians who do not share them?

Amazing what gets left out if you have sufficient clout and money behind you, isn't it?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Canada voted against the UN Goldstone report resolution

Well done, Canada. By such short-sighted policy, you have put our country in grave danger and are now supportive of war crimes.

Harper and his cronies have put the rest of us in the august company of Israel, Nauru, Panama, Micronesia, Macedonia and the United States.

I'm so proud.

Of course.

Are liberals and atheists smarter?
Psychologist links teen IQ levels with adult views on religion, politics and family

In new research bound to irk conservative geniuses, people with high IQs are deemed more likely to be liberal, monogamous non-believers than those who are less intelligent.

A trial for David Frum - in a just world

Dr. Juan Cole, editor of the blog Informed Comment, mentioned our very own native son David Frum in his comment on February 18th.

The Decline of the Israeli Right and the Increasing Desperation of the 'Anti-Semitism' Charge

"...[F]rum, a Canadian who only became naturalized as a US citizen in 2007, was important in the early years of the Bush presidency and crafted many of the falsehoods and propaganda points that got up the Iraq War. He bears a heavy responsibility for the unnecessary deaths of over 4000 US military personnel, for the deaths of some 600,000 Iraqis, and for the displacement of nearly 4 million Iraqis. In a just world, David Frum would be on trial for his role in severe violations of international law, as would Bush, Cheney, Perle, and the rest of those bald-faced liars and warmongers."

In a just world...

David Frum's embracing U.S. citizenship might have been a clever move, as the U.S. does not recognize the ICC and would not extradite him to the Hague to be tried for war crimes.

Stephen Harper made his case for equating criticism of Israeli government policy with antisemitism back in 2008.

Harper also said, "Some of the criticism brewing in Canada against the state of Israel, including from some members of Parliament, is similar to the attitude of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned yesterday.

"I guess my fear is what I see happening in some circles is (an) anti-Israeli sentiment, really just as a thinly disguised veil for good old-fashioned anti-Semitism, which I think is completely unacceptable," Harper said in an interview with CJAD radio

This is both ignorant and dangerous.

But then, so are Stephen Harper and his policies. He puts us all in danger.

Stockwell Day, fundamentalist Christian, unquestioning Israel supporter and then Foreign Minister for Canada, signed an agreement with Israel which pretty well dragged us into defending Israel no matter what it did. He first denied then acknowledged that he had done this.

The matter came up again recently with the following pearls falling from the lips of Peter Kent, junior Foreign Affairs Minister:

Junior Foreign Affairs minister Peter Kent is suggesting Canada would rush to Israel's defence in a military confrontation, telling a Toronto publication that “an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada.”

But he later declined to say whether this means that Canada would automatically declare war on an aggressor attacking Israel.

Ahem! Excuse me! Don't the rest of us get any say in this?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Harper at the Olympics

Our glorious leader, Stephen Harpericus, on the Canadian hockey team:

"Man for man, our team is the superior team but let's not kid ourselves, the most consistent team in this tournament to date has been Team USA," Harper said in an interview on CTV.

Don't overdo the enthusiam there, Stevo.

He also has advice for them on how to win. If I were them, I wouldn't take any winning advice from him.

He had our hopes up for a minute with this statement on short-track speed skating.

"That was the most exciting event I've ever been at in my life. I think I almost had a heart attack before it was over," Harper said.

Don't you have to have a heart first?

Ah, well.

There's always the hockey game this afternoon, though.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NATO - a multinational military dictatorship

Seems that U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just can't get enough of war.

Gates: European aversion to war a danger to peace

Gates warned that Europe’s aversion to war was doing serious harm to assorted US military operations with NATO backing, and was therefore “an impediment” to the lasting peace he envisions those wars eventually creating.


Perhaps it's the memory of two world wars that devastated their countries in the last century that makes Europeans a little wary of militarization and armed conflict. Do you think?

The late British WW1 veteran and later peace activist Harry Patch from Britain didn't find any glory in it.

"Too many died. War isn’t worth one life,” and [he] said war was the “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings".


WW1 set the stage for WW2. Every war sets the conditions for the next. If you want peace, another war isn't the way to get there. It wastes lives, it destroys families, it squanders resources and destroys economies.

If you're an arms dealer or munitions manufacturer, though, it's definitely the way to go.

An interviewer spoke to a young German woman during a recent antiwar demonstration. The citizens of Germany, like those in all the other countries involved in the Afghanistan mess, want it stopped now. She said that the German constitution prohibits the use of armed forces in war unless the country is attacked from outside. It also prohibits the use of its armed forces against its own citizens. But it seems that the almighty NATO can simply demolish national laws. This makes it effectively a multinational military dictatorship.

Even the Iraqi vice president warned that increased militarization of a society is setting the stage for a military coup.

Too bad our jonesing-for-war government "leaders" still don't get it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

McChrystal needs an equine proctologist: Fred Reed

Lordy, lordy. Some words should be written in letters twelve feet high and put on display for all to see.

Fred Reed and his Thoughts on an Interview with General Stanley McChrystal

Yes, [McChrystal]thought, we really should stop killing so many civilians, but we would stop. We were going to help the Afghans, as soon as we finished killing most of them. (He didn’t say the part about killing most of them but seems to be working on it.) We would win their hearts and minds by beneficent and salubrious bombing. (OK, he didn’t say that either. It seems to be what he thinks.)

Gret Gawd, I reflected not too charitably, if this guy ever gets sick, he’ll need an equine proctologist."


And as the numbers of dead soldiers and Afghans skyrocket - the last 27 civilians killed in a bus convoy was a Special Ops operation and they were WRONG - Fred Reed makes the following suggestion:

Now, if America wants to kill its own soldiers, that is America’s business. It is a matter of national sovereignty with which no other country should have the right to interfere. McChrystal could maybe hold a private war somewhere in the southwestern deserts. You know, McCrystal vs. David Petraeus, with two divisions each, twelve rounds or knockout, no holds barred, but they have to buy their own weapons.

But leave others out of it.


Amen to that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hard power gets Harper off

The immortal words of Our Glorious Leader Stephen Harper when asked about military expenditure while checking out relief efforts in Haiti:

'To do soft power, you need hard power,' Prime Minister says of Canada's relief efforts


Apart from bringing up (no pun intended) all kinds of Freudian connections with that particular quote, we could investigate why military resources are used at all for civilian relief efforts.

But this whole thing is a shameless photo-op for Harper. After closing down parliament and telling everyone to go to the Olympics (does this remind you of Bush telling everyone to go shopping after September 11th?), and making an appearance there himself, now he has to strain the infrastructure by making an "official visit" to Haiti to show us his deeply caring heart. Give me a break already!

I might believe it if he flew there on his own dime. After all, he said he bought his own Olympic tickets. Where exactly does he think his salary comes from, I wonder?

Some of our aboriginal communities are in as bad a state as Haiti - poor water, poor roads, poor schools and health care - but I don't see him making too many visits there. The Kelowna accords, carved out with Canada's aboriginal groups by our last Prime Minister but not completed because of an election and cancelled by Harper's Wreckers when he got into power, could have made a terrific difference to some of Canada's poorest people.

And the Olympics themselves are staged on contested aboriginal lands, never surrendered or ceded by treaties.

Harper's last photo op in Haiti was at a school in Cité Soleil a few years ago. The little girls he had his picture taken with weren't smiling either, just like the poor kids in the article above.

As for your "hard power", Harper, keep it at home (or wherever) behind closed curtains, will you? Some of us are trying to hold on to our last meal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

They lied about the rocket "veering off course"

So they lied about the death of Afghanistan civilians.

Looks like that errant rocket that "veered off course" and killed fifteen Afghan civilians a few days ago didn't "veer" anywhere. It went exactly where it was supposed to go. Civilians didn't really matter to these guys. They either didn't know or didn't care.

Odds on that it was both.

From Wired.com:

Deadly Afghanistan Rocket Attack Actually Hit Its Target (Updated)

When a pair of rockets killed 10 or more civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday, the military initially said that the weapons had veered away from its intended target by a thousand feet or more. But a spokesman for the American-led coalition now tells Danger Room that the weapons from the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) actually hit their intended target. Troops were unaware that there were civilians were inside.


And the sweet voice of reason, Malalai Joya, called McChrystal's Afghanistan strategy "ridiculous".

Dear heavens, will someone please listen to her?

From the Independent:

Joya condemns 'ridiculous' military strategy

"It is ridiculous," said Malalai Joya, an elected member of the Afghan parliament. "On the one hand they call on Mullah Omar to join the puppet regime. On another hand they launch this attack in which defenceless and poor people will be the prime victims. Like before, they will be killed in the Nato bombings and used as human shields by the Taliban.


Joya spoke to Allan Gregg on TVO not long ago. I think he was a little taken aback by her intensity and her bordering on despair while her people were massacred and her country destroyed. This is one amazing woman.

No wonder Stephen Harper wouldn't speak to her. She would have wiped the floor with him.

Malalai Joya in conversation with Allan Gregg on TVO

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blame the other guy

More civilians were killed in another "success" for McChrystal's brilliant strategy to "win" the war in Afghanistan, whatever that might mean.

NATO's novel battle tactic spawns opposite effects

Not content with merely screwing up, McChrystal weeps buckets of crocodile tears and then - ta DAH! - blames the other guys. What a prince.

"On Sunday, two International Security Assistance Force rockets hit just such a home, killing 12 civilians and sparking an outcry. The rockets had been aimed at a group of Taliban fighters engaged in a gun battle with coalition forces 300 metres away."

"...[W]e deeply regret this tragic loss of life,” U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, ISAF's top commander, said in a statement apologizing to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“It's regrettable that in the cause of our joint efforts, innocent lives were lost.”

How to know you're on the wrong track

From Antiwar.com and Australia's Sydney Morning Herald:

Cheney 'a complete supporter' of Obama Afghan effort

Time to go.

With friends like Cheney, who needs enemies?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How much is a trillion dollars?

The U.S. deficit is expected to reach $1.6 trillion this year. Barack Obama has just sent a $3.8 trillion budget to the U.S. congress for approval.

How much is a trillion dollars? Well, thanks to Eric Margolis in this article, we now know.

To understand the immensity of one trillion dollars, one would have had to start spending $1 million daily soon after Rome was founded and continue for 2,738 years until today.


So, tell me again, why are we hitching our economic wagon to this falling star?