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

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.