Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The Miserable Truth of Afghanistan
A Senlis Council survey found that fully half the men in the hotspot provinces of Helmand and Kandahar believe the international community will be defeated by the Taliban. In a counter-insurgency situation, half is not a 50/50 proposition, it's not even a C-minus, it's an F.
According to Senlis founder, Norine MacDonald of British Columbia:
- woefully inadequate aid and development, and misguided counter-narcotics policies, are turning people against NATO forces and making their work much more dangerous
- the survey shows alarming gains in Taliban support in the south, with 27 per cent of respondents backing the militants, compared with only 3 per cent in December 2005
- Eighty per cent of people surveyed said they worry about feeding their families, and 70 per cent know how to fire a weapon. People are hungry and angry, and when bombing campaigns level villages, it's not difficult to see how those facts come together
- In Kandahar and Helmand provinces, 80 per cent of respondents said the international troops were not helping them personally, and 71 per cent believed the Afghan government was also unhelpful.
"Meanwhile, a survey by the independent monitoring group Integrity Watch Afghanistan said that in the past five years – after the Taliban lost power –'corruption has soared to levels not seen in previous administrations,' and about 60 per cent of responders believed it was the most corrupt government in two decades.
"The poll of 1,258 Afghans said that under President Hamid Karzai, money 'can buy government appointments, bypass justice or evade police' with impunity. Weak law enforcement was mainly to blame, said the group's executive director, Lorenzo Delesgues.
"'Corruption has undermined the legitimacy of the state,' he said yesterday in Kabul.
Canada sent forces to Afghanistan treating it as a predominantly military issue. Our top general swaggered and boasted that his combat brigade was going to Kandahar to kill a "few dozen ...scumbags." It's becoming apparent that Hillier didn't bother learning the history of the place which would have shown him that these "scumbags" have, for centuries, proven themselves to be determined, skilled, resilient and courageous fighters who have repeatedly defeated larger, better organized and more powerful foreign armies. He didn't bother to learn the rudimentary lessons of counter-insurgency warfare, particularly the two fundamentals: you have to flood the place with large numbers of troops and you try to avoid using heavy firepower. Instead Hillier fashioned a force that was paltry in numbers and, in the result, unavoidably dependent on airstrikes and artillery to offset their weakness in numbers.
We committed our soldiers to Kandahar without regard to the shakey political dimension of this struggle. It was as though we assumed that Karzai's government was legitimate or perhaps we considered that to be America's problem. Either way, we're defending an illegitimate regime that most of the Afghan people in our area of operations utterly fear and loathe.
Deciding that the Karzai government deserved our support only because it wasn't the Taliban was naive, even stupid. Sending our soldiers over there equipped, staffed and trained to fight our notion of warfare, not the locals' was just as stupid, even irresponsible. Let's remember that support for the Taliban in Kandahar province has increased NINEFOLD since we assumed control of the place. If we keep going like this, where is that number going to stand by 2009?
We owe it to the men and women we send over there to fight and sometimes die to do what we neglected to do during Harpo's sham debate; to ask the tough questions and demand some straight answers from the government and General Rick Hillier, answers that are long overdue.
Monday, March 19, 2007
It's in the nature of the beast for politicians to latch on to whatever issue has the public's attention. Sometimes the pols engineer the issue (remember Saddam's WMDs?) and sometimes the issue is something extrinsic. Either way, whichever direction the public is looking at election time, that's where the politicians will be jostling for space.
Harpo's environmental conversion is a particularly telling example. This bozo has flip-flopped on one core principle after another since he assumed office. Liberal initiatives that he scrapped, he now shamelessly restores, claiming them as his own. However, one issue stands alone - the global warming question.
Our Furious Leader didn't embrace the global warming issue because he believed in it. He jumped onto this bandwagon because he realized it would cost him at the voting booth if he didn't. And, like his masterfully dissembling American Idol, he knew that seeming to take charge of the problem was actually his best way to defend his real concern, Big Oil and Big Coal. But I digress.
The real problem with the way the global warming issue is being approached - by all parties - is a lack of balance. It is a genuine and growing threat to us and especially to the generations to follow us and it requires measures that are as big as the problem, but... and here's the real but... it can't be allowed to distract us from the many other problems that also need to be confronted and not just at home but abroad as well.
This is an opportunity being thoroughly exploited and abused by the greenhouse gas deniers. Seizing upon a half-truth, they point out that climate change won't be cataclysmic and may even have some side benefits.
You may not have heard this before, but that is a thoroughly and disgracefully racist argument.
It's true that global warming probably will be less destructive, at least initially, in the northern hemisphere where the vast majority of the greenhouse gases are created. However, it is already having a devastating effect that will only worsen in vulnerable regions of the southern hemisphere, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. But they're blacks and the one thing the West has shown over the past two decades is that black people don't matter. They and their plight certainly don't matter to the greenhouse gas deniers because that would completely destroy their arguments that the problem is overblown.
So long as we take a "them and us" approach to global warming and associated problems, we'll never solve this. If we allow their homelands to become unable to support their populations, we'll force them to migrate. They're not responsible for the global warming that besets them, we are. When they have to migrate simply to survive it'll be because we made that necessary, we ruined their homeland.
They'll begin by migrating into neighbouring territories that are also distressed and least able to accommodate climate refugees. That will lead to a new sort of war, one that's already happening but we rarely hear mentioned in our media, wars of sustenance. Eventually this migration will affect more distant countries in normally temperate climes. This has already begun to plague Europe and it's a problem that's going to worsen rapidly and it's going to spread.
In wars of subsistence, it's the 'haves' versus the 'have-nots' and they quickly come to see and treat each other as genuine enemies. When the haves begin to worry about their own supplies of food and water, the have-nots loom large as mortal threats to be resisted and, if necessary, destroyed.
Leaving this unresolved reduces our options and flexibility and that, in turn, increases the dependence on military force as a default response. If we are to preserve our options, we'll have to begin by treating the welfare of the have-nots as critical to our own.
We should probably hope that the migrants never get beyond tribal status. Were they to organize into regional or even sub-continental movements, they might be able to add a political and even military dimension to the challenges they'll pose to us.
There is no problem or group of problems for which there are no answers. Indeed there are several answers to resolve each and everyone of these problems. If we choose not to pursue the best solutions, a less happy solution will become our reality. That's a little truth we all need to acknowledge. That's why we must begin treating the current situation as an opportunity not a burdensome scourge to be deflected or avoided. Only if we see it as an opportunity, a chance to take the best options still open to us, will we be able to avoid having to accept a poorer solution when today's best options are foreclosed.
The existing environmental challenges all result from neglect built on indifference and greed. This has generated a degree of finger pointing that only blinds us to the enormity of the challenges we face.
We rather arrogantly say we'll not act unless the emerging Third World economies, particularly India and China do the same. Without their equal sacrifice, our best efforts are relatively meaningless. Good point. They take a different approach. We Westerners have had the benefit of growing our industrial economies by polluting the world for many decades so we ought to clean up our emissions first before expecting others to do the same. That's a pretty good point too. Two arguments of varying moral and logical suasion but each sufficiently valid to create a stalemate of inaction. Unless both sides move past this nonsense, our respective indignation will be our collective undoing. Just how stupid can we really be?
So we need an abrupt attitude change on global warming. We need to approach it as a global problem in which we all share all the problems and share in the answers. We need to see the current situation as an opportunity and understand that we'll pay dearly for it if we don't.
We also need to understand that global warming can't be addressed in isolation of the many other challenges facing our civilization today. We must reach consensus on a global response to the many other threats that confront us today such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, depletion of non-renewable resources, desertification, the spread of viruses, diseases and pests, the over-exploitation of ground water resources, our steadily disappearing stock of arable land and forests, exhaustion of our fisheries, species extinction, overpopulation, the list goes on.
Focusing on one or even a few of these to the exclusion of others will leave us off-balance. A narrow approach will also be ineffective. Taking a broader, inclusive approach offers the best chance of keeping these issues manageable while they're being sorted out. We will also find that the same solutions we apply to one problem will be similarly beneficial to others.
We need to find balance and to see these challenges as more than election issues. The way forward will entail a realignment of our economic, political and social models and philosophies, the way we see the world and interact with it. Xenophobic nationalism is a malignancy to the future health of this planet.
The best solutions to our array of problems are already long gone, closed off. In many respects we simply weren't aware of these gradually mounting threats so we couldn't even consider remedies. However even though some of our options are gone, many remain, but the best of them will be the first foreclosed. The longer we wait, the worse the solution will be.
It's sort of like the movies where the hot air balloon suddenly lifts off with a ground handler still clinging to one of the ropes. The handler panics and refuses to let go until he's gone past the point where he can survive the fall and yet the fall, now fatal, is inevitable. We still have time to let go of the rope but we're climbing higher all the time. Let's do it while we can still have a survivable landing.
The Bitter Truth
"The reasons for this are fourfold. First, the Taliban are still the dominant force among Pashtuns in Afghanistan's south, where Canadian troops are operating. NATO bête noire Mullah Omar 'remains unchallenged as leader of the Taliban,' Smith writes. 'There is no alternative representing Pashtun interests who has more clout than he.'
"Second, neighbouring Pakistan 'is highly ambivalent about crushing the Taliban insurgency.' While technically on NATO's side in this matter, important elements of the Pakistani state apparatus, Smith writes, continue to support the Taliban as their proxy in Afghanistan – mainly as a way to fend off what they see as hostile Russian and Indian influences.
"To destroy the Taliban would be to end Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, he says – which perhaps explains Islamabad's less than total support for the NATO mission.
"Third, the NATO strategy of using air power and heavy armour is backfiring. So is the policy of opium eradication. One destroys Afghan lives, the other their livelihoods. The net result, writes Smith (and here he echoes reports from the London-based Senlis Council), is to make Afghans even more hostile to NATO troops.
"Fourth, NATO countries don't have the will to fight a protracted war in a faraway country.
'If NATO states it will only be satisfied with a decisive military victory, the Taliban will call our bluff,' Smith says. 'The Taliban have demonstrated greater resolve, tactical efficiency and ability to absorb the costs of war over the long term than have NATO forces.'
"As a result, 'talking to the Taliban' emerges as the only feasible solution. 'Given the costs of war,' he writes, 'NATO needs to look candidly at the prospects – aware that there can be no guarantee – of a political solution.'"
Is Bush Just Reagan Without Restraints?
I sometimes think that the shroud of nationalistic myth has done more for Reagan than it ever did for George Washington. Americans positively revere Reagan and that takes a willingness to ignore an awful lot of his true record.
For a notional conservative, Reagan transformed the US in just two terms from what had been the world's largest creditor nation into the world's largest debtor nation. He genuinely served the rich and powerful at the direct expense of the middle and lower classes. It was Reagan who drew the line between America's "haves" and "have nots". He violated his nation's laws, trashed its constitution and supported terrorism in Central America, South America and Africa. Reagan's hands were sopping with innocent blood by the time he left office. That this man should be revered rather than despised is quite phenomenal.
The Reagan miracle was that he knew what sold. He made America appear powerful again and, to its people, he restored their self-image as dominant and tough. With that parlour trick, Reagan was able to get a blank cheque for policy.
To draw comparisons, Krugman cites a 1993 article in The American Prospect by Johathan Cohn in which the author, "...described how the Interior Department had been packed with opponents of environmental protection, who 'presided over a massive sell-off of federal lands to industry and developers' that 'deprived the department of several billion dollars in annual revenue.' Oil leases, anyone?
"Meanwhile, privatization had run amok, because 'the ranks of public officials necessary to supervise contractors have been so thinned that the putative gains of contracting out have evaporated. Agencies have been left with the worst of both worlds — demoralized and disorganized public officials and unaccountable private contractors.' Holy Halliburton!
"Not mentioned in Mr. Cohn’s article, but equally reminiscent of current events, was the state of the Justice Department under Ed Meese, a man who gives Alberto Gonzales and John Mitchell serious competition for the title of worst attorney general ever. The politicization of Justice got so bad that in 1988 six senior officials, all Republicans, including the deputy attorney general and the chief of the criminal division, resigned in protest.
"Why is there such a strong family resemblance between the Reagan years and recent events? Mr. Reagan’s administration, like Mr. Bush’s, was run by movement conservatives — people who built their careers by serving the alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. And both cronyism and abuse of power are part of the movement conservative package.
"In part this is because people whose ideology says that government is always the problem, never the solution, see no point in governing well. So they use political power to reward their friends, rather than find people who will actually do their jobs.
"If expertise is irrelevant, who gets the jobs? No problem: the interlocking, lavishly financed institutions of movement conservatism, which range from K Street to Fox News, create a vast class of apparatchiks who can be counted on to be 'loyal Bushies.'
"The movement’s apparatchik culture, in turn, explains much of its contempt for the rule of law. Someone who has risen through the ranks of a movement that prizes political loyalty above all isn’t likely to balk at, say, using bogus claims of voter fraud to disenfranchise Democrats, or suppressing potentially damaging investigations of Republicans. As Franklin Foer of The New Republic has pointed out, in College Republican elections, dirty tricks and double crosses are considered acceptable, even praiseworthy."
Krugman shows that modern conservatism is indeed "movement conservatism" a far-right wing ideology stripped of any progressive tendencies. It is a movement that advances by dividing, by exploiting wedge issues. It confounds and deceives the center so that it can serve its real constituents on the far right. It strives not for democracy but for oligarchy.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Tell Us Karlheinz, Please Tell Us
Warmest Winter Ever
The Greatest Democracy on Earth. Hardly.
"John McKay, one of the fired attorneys, says he was pressured by Republicans to bring voter fraud charges after the 2004 Washington governor’s race, which a Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won after two recounts. Republicans were trying to overturn an election result they did not like, but Mr. McKay refused to go along. 'There was no evidence,' he said, 'and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.'
"Later, when he interviewed with Harriet Miers, then the White House counsel, for a federal judgeship that he ultimately did not get, he says, he was asked to explain 'criticism that I mishandled the 2004 governor’s election.'
"The United States attorney purge appears to have been prompted by an array of improper political motives. Carol Lam, the San Diego attorney, seems to have been fired to stop her from continuing an investigation that put Republican officials and campaign contributors at risk. These charges, like the accusation that Mr. McKay and other United States attorneys were insufficiently aggressive about voter fraud, are a way of saying, without actually saying, that they would not use their offices to help Republicans win elections. It does not justify their firing; it makes their firing a graver offense."
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I'm Guilty - Of Everything, Really I Am!
The question becomes if he's just making a lot of this up? He's obviously aware that he's not getting out of this one alive. Rope, chair or injection, he's got a one way ticket to Allah. So what's he got to lose by taking responsibility for every outrage that's blamed on al-Qaeda?
KSM is taking sole responsibility for 28 attacks and plots and shared responsibility for three others including plots to assassinate Pope John Paul and Pakistan strongman Pervez Musharraf.
I wonder if he's responsible for the Hindenburg too?
Nighty Night, Turn Right at the Light
Fueled by television and print advertising, sales of these potent products has jumped 60% since 2000. Apparently they work, sometimes too well.
The FDA got involved due to a New York Times article published, "...after some users of the most widely prescribed drug, Ambien, started complaining online and to their doctors about unusual reactions ranging from fairly benign sleepwalking episodes to hallucinations, violent outbursts, nocturnal binge eating and — most troubling of all — driving while asleep.
"Night eaters said they woke up to find Tostitos and Snickers wrappers in their beds, missing food, kitchen counters overflowing with flour from baking sprees, and even lighted stoves.
"Sleep-drivers reported frightening episodes in which they recalled going to bed, but woke up to find they had been arrested roadside in their underwear or nightclothes. The agency said that it was not aware of any deaths caused by sleep-driving."
A study by a forensic toxicologist confirmed that some users really were having weird behavioural problems as claimed. The FDA has ordered that the pharmaceutical companies print more forceful warnings on the products' packaging.
Is It Environmentalism or Is It Managing Environmentalism?
In his bid for a majority, Harpo is throwing around all that cash the Liberals left him and he's tossing it about in big numbers - a hundred million here, two hundred million there and there and there too. He doesn't show his face anywhere these days without packing along a 9-figure cheque for the locals.
He's made a lot of noise about the environment and he's doled out a lot of cash but the question remains whether he really gets it or is he really trying to manage what he sees as the fallout of environmentalism. I think Harpo sees the global warming business as something he must appear to accept if he wants to survive. I suspect he's also gambling that the public interest is a fad and that he can best serve his real constituency, the Tar Patch and the province of Alberta, by ensuring that Big Oil and Big Coal get off as lightly as possible.
Hell, the guy just used the Stemlach to fence $150-million tax dollars to the fossil fuel industry. The money went to the province but that was the best way to politically launder it. At the end of the day, it's still a subsidy to the impoverished oil companies, using federal taxpayers' money so that Big Tar doesn't have to spend its own on cleaning up its mess. He fenced it, and it will be laundered but it's still a giveaway to Big Tar.
Of course scores of millions of dollars is just the start of Harpo's gift basket to Big Tar. The real present will be "intensity-based" limits on greenhouse gas emissions. That's about as close to business as usual as our Furious Leader can get without getting lynched by the public. Besides, it's the very same sham policy adopted by his American idol, the chimp in the White House.
This isn't environmentalism. It's damage control and it's a scam.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Pushing Gonzales go the Edge
All along he's assured Congress that the firings weren't politically driven, they were based on performance problems. New documents released show that it was two sides of the same coin. Yeah, they were canned because they didn't perform politically as required.
"D. Kyle Sampson, chief of staff to Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, came up with a checklist. He rated each of the prosecutors with criteria that appeared to value political allegiance as much as job performance.
"He recommended retaining 'strong U.S. attorneys who have … exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general.' He suggested 'removing weak U.S. attorneys who have … chafed against administration initiatives.'
The corollary to this, of course, is that the other 87 must have been "strong" attorneys who very willingly accepted the administration's initiatives. With an administration as morally reprehensible as this one, chances are that meant being willing to politicize their prosecutions. That might account for the grossly disproportionate ratio of proceedings against Democrats instead of Republicans and the stunning lack of action on profoundly blatant voter fraud cases in Florida and Ohio. Any way you cut it, that's a perversion of justice for the purposes of partisan advantage, something you once saw in courts in dictatorships.
Maybe George Bush simply doesn't care any more. Everything he's put his hand to has pretty much failed - from Iraq to his Mid-East democracy initiative to his aborted Social Security reform. He's so fouled the American presidency that it may take years for American stature to be rehabilitated. So, what's one Gonzales, more or less in this compendium of incompetence and failure?
That's not to say Congress will agree to leave it at that. They've got Bush bleeding in the water and that inevitably attracts sharks.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Global Warming? Blame the Trees
The logging industry has sometimes been the subject of controversy, at times heated controversy. Environmentalists, often called "tree huggers", have used legal and illegal means to try to halt logging in the remaining old growth forests. Then there's the way some forest companies harvest trees, leaving clear cut swathes when they're done.
Now there's a carbon factor to consider in felling trees. Trees soak up carbon dioxide as they grow. The decaying vegetation, moss and small plants on the forest floor can also, over time, evolve into a carbon sink.
Logging in Canada today creates more greenhouse gas than all the truck and car traffic combined. A Vancouver-based group, ForestEthics has released a report calling for curbs on logging in Canada's boreal forest, the type found in the northern regions of most Canadian provinces.
The effect of logging on global warming was identified in the IPCC reports which claim that a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to logging and deforestation.
On Faith and Fundamentalism
God is inscrutable, mysterious and unknowable. We do not understand what life is about, what it means, why we are here and what will happen to us after our brief sojourn on the planet ends. We are saved, in the end, by faith - faith that life is not meaningless and random, that there is a purpose to human existence, and that in the midst of this morally neutral universe the tiny, seemingly insignificant acts of compassion and blind human kindness, especially to those labeled our enemies and strangers, sustain the divine spark, which is love.
These small acts of compassion - for they can never be organized and institutionalized as can hate - have a power that lives after us. Human kindness is deeply subversive to totalitarian creeds, which seek to thwart all compassion toward those deemed unworthy of moral consideration, those branded as internal or external enemies.
Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God. These false prophets - the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons - clutching the cross and Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in this process they elevate themselves above us. They remove the anxiety of moral choice, the fundamental anxiety of human existence. This is part of their attraction. The give us the rules by which we live. But once we hand over this anxiety and accept their authority, we become enslaved and they become our idols. And idols, as the Bible never cases to tell us, destroy us.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Not Your Father's Terrorists
"She studied business in college, hung out at the pub with her friends and was known for her fashionable taste in clothes.
"So residents of this 900-year-old river town were thrown for a loop last year when Bouchra El-Hor, now 24, appeared in a British courtroom wearing handcuffs under an all-encompassing black veil. Prosecutors said she had covered up plans for a terrorist attack and wrote a letter offering to sacrifice herself and her infant son as martyrs.
"...terrorism suspects from atypical backgrounds are becoming increasingly common in Western Europe. With new plots surfacing every month, police across Europe are arresting significant numbers of women, teenagers, white-skinned suspects and people baptized as Christians -- groups that in the past were considered among the least likely to embrace Islamic radicalism.
"The demographics of those being arrested are so diverse that many European counterterrorism officials and analysts say they have given up trying to predict what sorts of people are most likely to become terrorists. Age, sex, ethnicity, education and economic status have become more and more irrelevant."
Let'em Eat Canadian Geese
"If their parents don't migrate, they don't migrate, whereas other birds have built-in migration. So, regardless of the parents, they migrate."
Canada geese also tend to proliferate because they produce as many as seven goslings a year and have no enemies, he said. Prof. Hofmann has eaten goose -- albeit a domesticated, European species --and describes it as gamey and greasier than duck.
O'Connor Holds Kabul To A High Standard, Really He Does, He Even Says So.
Obviously not having a clue what he was talking about, O'Connor told the Commons that the detainees were fine because he would've heard from the Red Cross if they weren't. This veteran military man, a retired brigadier no less, had no idea how the Red Cross works.
So Harpo told Gordo to get his camos pressed and get his sorry ass to Kandahar and to be sure to wipe next time before he flushes. Here's what Galloping Gord told reporters when he arrived in Afghanistan. "I want to look the man in the eyes and I want to confirm that they are going to do what they say they're going to do"
Hey Gord, while you're at it, how about you take a few minutes to confirm that you're going to do what you say you're doing. It'd be a good start.
"We use the term detainee abuse but there's no proof that there is any detainee abuse," Mr. O'Connor said. "But it's an important factor because we hold the Afghan government to a high standard."
If he wants proof of detainee abuse, he should contact the US State Department which has issued its own proof of torture and disappearance of prisoners who fall into Afghan custody. As for the "high standard" bull crap, has this loser even figured out that control of this government has come into the hands of murderous warlords, drug barons and common thugs?
Scraping the Barrel to Surge
"'This is not right,' said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. 'This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers,' he said angrily. 'If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight.'
"As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.
"On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny."
Salon claims many of these soldiers are being sent to Iraq for their third tours.
Japan's War on Trial
Manslaughter in Kandahar
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service has charged Master Cpl. Robbie Fisher, based in Shilo with 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry regiment, with one count of manslaughter and one count of negligent performance of duty.
Details of the indictments haven't been released but the second charge, negligent performance of duty, suggests the shooting wasn't deliberate.
Is Alberto Gonzales a Marked Man?
Blix Slams Blair on Iraq
"However, he said pre-war intelligence such as the UK government dossier which claimed Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and could deploy some within 45 minutes, appeared to have deliberately overstated the case for war.
"I would never dare to accuse any statesman of bad faith unless I had absolute evidence of it. I do think they exercised spin," said Blix.
Time to Cut'N Run - Straight Out of Iraq?
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Do You Realize What Being Liberal Means?
"Liberal is often a term used to describe any person who considers themself a strong proponent of a large and controlling government. They believe that powerful bureaucracies are needed in order to provide equality, personal safety and many other services such as health care.
Their speech and actions convey emotional or popular opinion which is often used as a method of solving the perceived problems of society.
Liberals also tend to admire popular or authoritarian figures such as dictators, movie stars, or anyone holding positions of power that are in line with a their own philosophy. Since the election of George W Bush in 2000 they have become overtly angry in their demeanor with anyone who disagrees with them while showing support for dictators such as Hugo Chavez (who recently nationalized many of the industries of Venezuela).
Liberals openly use their collective positions of power within government to perpetuate their causes such as the current popular notion of a man made climate change. (Man Made Global Warming) Scientists who have openly disagreed with this premise have been threatened by the removal of their licenses or titles.
Retrieved from "http://www.conservapedia.com/Liberal"
There you have it. We admire dictators, believe in man-made global warming and use intimidation and threats to silence scientists who disagree.
"The term "liberal" is used often in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Some examples of liberal beliefs include:
taxpayer funding of abortion
prohibiting prayer in school
equal rights for men and women
distributing wealth from the rich to the poor
government programs to rehabilitate criminals
amnesty for illegal aliens
teaching of evolution
increased taxpayer funding of public school
protection of endangered species
taxpayer-funded rather than private medical care
increased power for labor unions
dependence on government programs such as welfare
reduction of millitary expenses"
The site then gives us this, "An alternative definition of liberal is anything that is not conservative."
"For example, the American Heritage Dictionary includes this definition of "liberal": ' Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas ... '"
There's a real nihilistic element to this sort of thinking. It admits of no mutuality of interests or beliefs whether political, economic, religious or social. It thus casts liberals as the natural enemy of conservatives. We skulk about, using "our collective positions of power within government" to "perpetuate" our causes such as the preposterous notion of man-made global warming. There's a real McCarthyist phobia in this thinking.
Germany's Global Warming Albatross
In Name Only
One Republican state senator the governor's post-partisan approach as, "the process by which Arnold sits down with Democratic leaders and gets them to do exactly what they wanted to do all along."
Two of the governor's most heralded accomplishments are a plan for cutting prescription drug prices and a program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. California's Republican legislators were nearly unanimously opposed to both initiatives.
Black - The Movie
Now I know CBC did a docu-drama on the man but it was far too CBC for mass consumption. No, once the trial is over this will be the fodder for mainstream movie treatment. Perhaps the measure of Black's life will be whether that translates into a real flick or a made-for-TV yawner.
Here's the question: who would you cast to play Lord Black and the other half of this story, Barbara Amiel? I'm having trouble coming up with an actress to play Babs but I have a guy in mind to play Connie - cold, aloof, at times sinister. The only drawback is that he's dead. My pick is Charles Laughton:
O.K. Corral - Kajaki Style
Stemlach & The Tar Boys Bluffing Ottawa
The Tar Patch is concerned about the levels of pollution they create. Actually what really concerns them is that they might be compelled to clean up their operations. Clean up = Cost = Less Profit. The last item, profit, is taken to be a right and one that comes with precious few responsibilities beyond that of making more profit.
The ever-helpful Stemlach yesterday told the Tar Patch boys that Ottawa should but out. "We're the trustees. Those resources belong to Albertans and Albertans are the ones who will decide the best way to approach them."
So, let's get this straight: the bitumin (tar) belongs to Albertans and they should decide how it's produced although they are willing to freely share one part of the deal - the pollution - with the rest of Canada and the world. Stemlach's argument might have some validity if Alberta kept all the Tar Sands emissions in Alberta, all of it. But of course, in the many years his government has been in bed with Big Tar, they really haven't found it necessary to be particularly bothersome to this industry - not for ground pollution, nor for water pollution and certainly not for greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, Big Tar spokesman, Pierre Alvarez, wasted no time before playing Chicken Little. "There's the perception out there that the industry is just going to carry on and continue to grow regardless of what happens out there and I just don't think that is the case. ...we could be in for a period of tremendous uncertainty," Mr. Alvarez said. "When you're spending tens of billions of dollars a year, uncertainty is not helpful."
One thing is clear. Big Tar is willing to go just as far as they're shoved and not one inch further. It's a safe bet they'll continue to puff themselves up and complain and threaten. This bunch isn't going anywhere without a fight and, if it comes down to a fight, they'd much sooner fight a wimp like Stemlach any day.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Food for Thought
They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.
Truman administration Vice-President Henry Wallace, April, 1944.
from American Fascists, by Chris Hedges
The Price of Peace
Afghanistan's majority ethnic group is the Pashtun. They're in the south and along the border with Pakistan. They have only a marginally effective presence in their parliament and virtually none at all in the cabinet of Hamid Karzai.
The civil war was won (with essential American assistance) by the Northern Alliance, a cobbled-together alliance of warlords and murderous thugs from the Uzbek, Tajik and Hazari regions in the north. When the Taliban and al-Qaeda were driven out, the Americans helped create a supposed democracy. However, the victorious minorities were not about to see another government controlled by Pashtuns and they took over Karzai's cabinet. This is Karzai's conundrum.
The northerners have sought the backing of India, the traditional foe of Pakistan, and they've got it. India backs the Afghan government and its army, if only to give Islamabad fits. Pakistan, of course, has traditionally supported the Pashtun in Afghanistan whose tribal lands are pretty evenly split between the two countries.
Here's the rundown. The minority northerners, who control the Afghan government and army, serve as India's proxies. The majority Pashtun, through their home team, the Taliban, serve as Pakistan's proxies and its main hope of keeping Afghanistan within its influence.
The map shows what an Indian-dominated Afghanistan means to Pakistan. Already outnumbered and massively outgunned by India on its eastern border, it would also face a threat along its western border. Pakistan can't resist helping, or at least acquiescing, to the Taliban's activities in its tribal lands. This is Pakistan's conundrum.
It is not in the interests of the United States to see the Pashtun retake control of their government. America does not welcome the prospect of a return of the Taliban. Pakistan just doesn't have much clout with Washington. The nation they're courting is India, mainly as an ally in containing the threat of Chinese expansion. India is also economically far more important to Washington than Pakistan can ever dream of becoming. This is America's conundrum.
Afghanistan cannot become a genuine democracy when minorities hostile to the majority control the government's key ministries and its security forces. India seeks to undermine Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan and so supports the minorities in control, effectively putting India also in opposition to the Pashtun majority. America also sides with the northern minorities, undercutting Pakistan's influence.
There's your problem - India, Pakistan and America are each exploiting Afghanistan to advance their own, divergent interests. The stability and wellbeing of Afghanistan and its supposed democracy are really secondary factors if they factor in at all. It's the "Great Game" played out in yet another variant and history shows that it's a game that rarely turns out well for the visiting team.
The Nuclear Threshold
Falwell and Gingrich Wed - Finally
Gingrich, as you've probably heard, just came clean about screwing around on his second wife during the Clinton impeachment hearings and then taking up with an aide 20-years his junior. That's like the second time the Newtster has pulled that one. However, now that he's considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, he figured it was a good idea to get this little pecadillo out before he got outed by a rival.
Man, the Christian Right couldn't be happier with the guy. Even Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart had to go through a spell of fundamentalist purgatory but not Newt, no sir.
Now the fundamentalists have been going through a bad spell of their own. None of the early Republican candidates were really reliable enough - make that Christian enough - for the religious extremists. John McCain has been trying to turn himself inside out to win the born again backing but he's still not trusted and Rudy Guilliani, well he's a positively unrepentant sinner who is absolutely not to be trusted. Newt, however, there's a man you can deal with and just the guy for the Christian Right.
Oh yeah, back to Falwell. Falwell literally fell over himself to grant Gingrich absolution for his serial sins. No siree, Gingrich, says Falwell, is the real deal, a man redeemed:
"Falwell, in his newsletter, said he has usually been able to tell when a man who has experienced ''moral collapse' was genuinely seeking forgiveness. 'My sense tells me that Mr. Gingrich is such a man,' he wrote."
Now if King Grinch can just get Pat Robertson on side, he'll have the Republican Trifecta. Yes!!!
New York City - Weighing Its Options
All three of New York's airports now experience some flooding each year and no one is expecting that situation to do anything except worsen. The city itself includes a large number of old, brownstone buildings that are built upon extremely fine sand, leaving their foundations very susceptible in the event of flooding.
It's not so much the rising water that New York fears so much as hurricane-force storms that are expected to increase in both frequency and intensity. Here's a map of areas that may be hardest hit:
Is this just a load of alarmist pap? Well, according to the New York Times, major U.S. insurers don't think so. They've already stopped renewing policies for areas they consider vulnerable:
"Among insurers, all of whom factor climate change into their risk assessments, some like Allstate are already refusing to renew homeowners’ policies in the eight downstate counties (including metropolitan New York) most vulnerable to hurricanes and other major storms that could proliferate in a warming climate."
"Structures at particular risk from storm-related flooding include tenements, brownstones and any building with old masonry foundations, said [structural engineer] Joe Tortorella.
"Mr. Tortorella noted that much of the West Village and Lower Manhattan — neighborhoods whose low elevation renders them vulnerable to flooding — is on a precarious perch. “It’s like the finest sand you can find, so that even if you could put it on a table, you can’t mound it up in a pile,” he said
"In a hurricane or severe northeaster, Mr. Tortorella said, “if the water moves fast enough and recedes fast enough, there could be scouring like a tide that takes sand with it on the beach. As the water recedes, it pulls silt out and could undermine the building. It could be a disaster of epic proportions in New York for the smaller buildings.”
This Sounds Highly Auspicious
It is not the ideal CV for a man appointed to root out corruption in the country that is overwhelmingly the world's biggest supplier of opium, from which heroin in refined.
"Mr Wasifi's past came out after an investigation by the Associated Press, which pieced the story together from court records. They revealed that in 1987, Mr Wasifi was arrested at Caesar's Palace Hotel.
"Identifying himself only as Mr E, he tried to exchange a bag containing a pound and a half of heroin for $65,000 (£34,000) in cash, unaware the "customer" was a policeman. Mr Wasifi was released on parole after three years and eight months.
"The government of President Hamid Karzai has refused to say whether it knew about the drugs conviction when Mr Wasifi was appointed to his post two months ago. A childhood friend of Mr Karzai, today he heads an anti-corruption office of 84 people."
Friday, March 09, 2007
Speaking of Clots
But - Gee Whiz, What Happened to Scooter?
Maybe the European Union Will Lead After All
"By 2020, CO2 emissions across Europe are to be cut by 20 percent as compared to 1990 emissions.
"Renewable energy sources are to make up 20 percent of the EU's energy mix by 2020 -- up from their current 6.5 percent share."
"The decision over renewable energy in particular led to heated discussions which could only be defused on Friday morning. France joined together with several Eastern European countries to create a front against the plan proposed by Germany, the UK, Italy and the Scandinavian countries to set a binding target."
Why We're Losing in Afghanistan
Hey Gord, About Those Three Detainees...
"Canadian troops usually turn detainees over to the Afghan National Police. The State Department said, "The ANP . . . was the predominant government institution responsible for security in the country. Its performance engendered mistrust among the local population, and reports of corruption and mistreatment of citizens in custody were widespread."
How to Corrupt Democracy
Paul Krugman, writing in today's New York Times, describes the corruption of America's justice department:
"For now, the nation’s focus is on the eight federal prosecutors fired by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In January, Mr. Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that he 'would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons.' But it’s already clear that he did indeed dismiss all eight prosecutors for political reasons — some because they wouldn’t use their offices to provide electoral help to the G.O.P., and the others probably because they refused to soft-pedal investigations of corrupt Republicans.
"In the last few days we’ve also learned that Republican members of Congress called prosecutors to pressure them on politically charged cases, even though doing so seems unethical and possibly illegal.
"The bigger scandal, however, almost surely involves prosecutors still in office. The Gonzales Eight were fired because they wouldn’t go along with the Bush administration’s politicization of justice. But statistical evidence suggests that many other prosecutors decided to protect their jobs or further their careers by doing what the administration wanted them to do: harass Democrats while turning a blind eye to Republican malfeasance."
Krugman cites a study done by two professors into investigations and indictments of politicians since Bush took office. The score: 67-Republicans, 298-Democrats. He also pointed out how candidates backed by Karl Rove tended to find themselves blessed by an FBI "investigation" of a Democratic opponent that almost always evaporated after the election. Does that sound strangely familiar?
According to the ousted federal prosecutors, intimidation was used to try to keep them silent but it didn't work. Now the Democratic Congress can subpoena witnesses to hearings that may just get to the bottom of this dirty business. Krugman predicts, "...we'll learn about abuses of power that would have made Richard Nixon green with envy."
I think this is one story we may all want to follow.
Corrupt judiciary, indefinite detention without charge, secret trials - forget Richard Nixon, this sounds positively Stalinist.