Monday, January 31, 2005

When the State’s your Pimp

I am all for employment insurance reform and am a great believer that any type of employment is better than none but this is where I draw the line. From the Telegraph:
A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year. Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe. She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer. "There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Miss Garweg said that women who had worked in call centres had been offered jobs on telephone sex lines. At one job centre in the city of Gotha, a 23-year-old woman was told that she had to attend an interview as a "nude model", and should report back on the meeting. Employers in the sex industry can also advertise in job centres, a move that came into force this month. A job centre that refuses to accept the advertisement can be sued.

I cannot help but wonder, in light of the recent Visa Buffgate/Strippergate scandals, if this is the next logical direction for the Liberal government.

(tipped off by the Imperial Armorer)

Red Ensigns Rises from Seoul

Nathan, our ex-pat Red Ensign Blogger in Seoul has hoisted the 14th Red Ensign Standardand done a fine job of summarizing what my fellow Red Ensign Bloggers have been blogging on about since the last Standard.

I hoisted the Standard way back in the early days of August when our membership was still in its infancy and can speak with some degree of authority when I say that playing host is a Herculean task. That being case, Nathan can be forgiven for not following the ongoing archeological research at The Centre for the Study of Eurasian Nomads in the Altay Mountains region which borders China, Russia and Kazikstan. Where among an astounding array of archeological finds; burial kurgans have been excavated containing the remains of warrior women.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Men's Carnival of Recipes is up.

Kin of Kin's Kouch plays host to the latest Carnival of Recipes and this week's focus is on a Man's touch.

Don't make me show you what is in the handbag

The Flea and the Monger both took this quiz. I am a sucker for these things. If I knew how to make a decent living by creating wacky quizzes all day, I would change my minor.

20 Questions to a Better Personality:

Wackiness: 28/100
Rationality: 60/100
Constructiveness: 40/100
Leadership: 60/100

You are a SRDL--Sober Rational Destructive Leader. This makes you a Mob Boss.

You are the ultimate alpha person and even your friends give you your space. You can't stand whiners, weaklings, schlemiels or schlemozzles. You don't make many jokes, but when you do, others laugh out loud. They must.

People often turn to you for advice, and wisely. You are calm in a crisis, cautious in a tempest, and attuned to even the finest details. Yours is the profile of a smart head for business and a dangerous enemy.

You have a natural knack for fashion and occupy a suit like a matinee idol. Your charisma is striking and without artifice. You are generous, thoughtful, and appreciate life's finer things.

Please don't kick my ass.

Of the 84806 people who have taken this quiz since tracking began (8/17/2004), 3.6 % are this type

What more is there left to be said?

Standing at the border of the Promised Land

Election Day cometh to Iraq and all I can think is what a great day it is to be an Iraqi. In Canada, we either vote or not on election day but we don’t run the risk of being killed for going to the polling station or have to worry about being targeted afterward for reprisal attacks by terrorists for participating in the election process except later in your pocketbook.

Nor do I think it matters what argument you believed to justify the invasion of Iraq because the bottom-line is about FREEDOM. The Iraqi’s may not have the security that they deserve but they are exercising their rights as free people and that is a truly wondrous thing to witness. If I knew a wish fairy who would grant me one wish, it would be this; that the Iraqi people will live out the promise of freedom with dignity and security, and therefore, be a light onto others in the Arab world to do the same. They deserve no less.

Spirit of America will be offering coverage of the Iraqi elections and it will be carried on C-SPAN from 2pm-4pm (Eastern)today for those who have satellite and Friends of Democracy is carrying reports and photos. Friends of Democracy is asking for your comments, so if you are so moved go visit the site and tell them what you think.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The time for pogroms has not yet passed.

This week marked the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by allied Soviet forces. Auschwitz was the largest of the death camps created by the Third Reich. It was a testament to Germany efficiency and ingenuity. At the time of liberation there was an estimated 7,000 souls. They would die in the hundreds after the liberation directly attributed to the lack of care and constant physical abuse. When I was a teenager I met a teaching associate at a Canadian university who had a most singularly distinction of being born in Auschwitz in the early winter of 1945. Take a moment to ponder how having the singular distinction as having Auschwitz as your place of birth would mark you.

The miracle was not just that he survived but I take it as evidence that of the grace of does G-d does indeed touch us. I am heartened that in the midst of possibly the most dehumanizing circumstances conceivable that there were others who risked what was left of their humanity and life so that his mother could conceal her pregnancy, his birth, and his existence from the eyes of the overseers of death. But the miracle did not end there. Both his parents survived though no more children were born to this family. It is somehow apt that a son of Auschwitz would seek to become a philosopher.

My best friend is the daughter of a survivor of Auschwitz. Her father was just a young teenage boy when the German blitzkrieg rolled into Minsk. And it was chance that he was not rounded up and murdered like the rest of his family. He became a partisan and fought the Germans behind the lines only to be captured in the last few weeks before the liberation of Auschwitz. He was brought to Auschwitz where he was selected to be shot multiple times and left in a ditch for the dead rather than being gassed. The Sommerkind entrusted by their overseers to dispose of the dead knew him for a partisan and risked their own lives to conceal and nurse him as best they could. He too survived. But his story does not end there. Once in the Red Cross hospital where he was nursed back to life he was almost overwhelmed by the other great tragedy that the survivors faced and became a partisan for another cause. He used his survivor skills born of desperate need and honed by war to smuggle Jews into British Palestine.

The survivors of the death camps were once again marginalized and dehumanized after the war. They became the spoils of war that no one wanted to claim. Let me repeat that. NO ONE WANTED THEM. No country stepped up to the plate and said, "We bear witness to their suffering and need and will offer them safe harbour." Not one allied nation changed their immigration laws or quotas to accept the Jews. In fact, a Gallop poll taken in 1946 asked Canadians what group of immigrants did they did not want to accept;. 49% responded Jews. Only 34% were against allowing German immigration.

Let us not delude ourselves in thinking that the proposal for a Jewish state in the British Mandate of Palestine was born of humanitarian motives. It was seen as the perfect solution to a displaced disposal people that no one wanted to take in. Not in my neighborhood was the overwhelming sentiment of the world. The first and only time the Soviets voted for a pro-Israeli UN Resolution was in the creation of the Jewish state. Truth be told; they like others, had no desire for their Jewish nationals to be returned and probably speculated that the Arab population would wipe them off the map and end a potential source of dissent for generations to come. Hence, another miracle was born was born when the Star of David rose once again over Eretz Yisrael.

But what of 2005 and what has the holocaust taught us? Very little I surmise otherwise the world would not have tolerated the Soviet Gulag, the killing fields of Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, and Sudan. Or allowed Eretz Israel to become a battleground for a people whose leaders preach genocide and whose rallying cry is "Death to the Jews." The very fact that a United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that a fence/wall designed to protect Israeli life and limbs but causes Palestinian inconvenience is one of the gravest miscarriages of justice and is nothing more than a modern later day pogrom.

No matter where you look, how far or wide, the pogroms against the Jews have not passed away. Even in my own Canada, there are voices among Christian churches and universities calling forth for the financial divestment of funds in Israel and their cries grow ever louder. When a former Prime Minister of Israel is not allowed to speak at a Canadian University or when a prominent Canadian university allows a faculty to sponsor an Israel-Apartheid Week wherein Israelis are demonized and equated with murdering racists is no more than the blood libels of the past brought forth in modern guise.

Who says size doesn't matter.

For the man who has everything and one-size-fits-all won’t do:
A Taiwanese company has introduced a new service allowing men to order tailor-made size condoms. SakuNet International makes 55 different sizes of condoms from just three inches long to 9.4 inches, reports Sina News.

The company says the most popular condom sold in Taiwan is 4.2 inches long and 1.9 inches in diameter. Company manager Huang Wanting says uncomfortable condoms can easily break or slip, adding to the risk of infection or pregnancy.

Men can log onto the company's website and download and print out the length measurement card so they can order the most appropriate condom. Huang says that since they introduced the service, there have been more than 20,000 downloads of the measurement card, and they have sold 5,000 dozens of condoms in different sizes.

What on earth will they ever think of next?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Eh, Piss on it!

I stand in awe of the resourcefulness of the human mind and beer. From Ananova:

A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it. Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out. But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported.

He said: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there."

I wonder if Ben at The Tiger in Winter knows that he should be carrying beer as part of his survival kit as he tramps around the top of the world and someone should probably let Alan at A Good Beer Blog know, though he'll probably want to know the brand.......

(Tipped off by Drudge Report)

A Year in Iraq

Frank at the Cool Blue Blog has linked to a USAID & CPA reported just published on:

The emergency relief and reconstruction aid delivered to Iraq during the 12 months since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April, 2003, was the biggest U.S. foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan, delivering $3.3 billion in help to Iraq’s people.

This text explains how the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) have supported Iraq's recovery from three decades of tyranny and mass murder.

As the Iraqi people prepare to go to the polls and vote for in their first free election in over 30 years; it would not hurt the rest of us to see what kind of a bang for their buck the US taxpayers are getting in Iraq.

Peace on the horizon or does the song remain the same?

The Toronto Star is reporting that the Palestinian Authority under the guidance of Mohamed Abbas has issued a decree forbidding Palestinians from carrying weapons though it is important to note that Abbas is still preferring to negotiate with the terrorists rather than arresting the lot and taking control back from the terrorists. The Jerusalem Post has a somewhat different take on the issue and notes that the decreed only forbids the citizenry from possessing unlicensed weapons. Nor has this been the first time such a bann has been issued. Arafat regularly issued such banns.

The Palestinian Authority has also decided to retired 1,000 old guard police officers to make room for some new blood. The rationale given is that these new police officers are allegedly untouched by the corruption in the PA which thrived under Arafat’s rein. Of course, one could be cynical and say that the new police officers were simply the wages of patronage for loyalty given.

I remain skeptical and am reminded of an old political cartoon that showed Arafat issuing an order to his forces to arrest all the terrorists during the Israeli Desert Shield operation. They in turn had to turn the guns on each other. There was no one left to run the PA. On another note, the Jerusalem Post and Debka are reporting on what the Toronto Star choose not to report which is the huge election win Hamas has had in local Gaza elections.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Jacques Chirac: Now would be a good time to shut-up.

You know I really think that its time that somebody should liberate the world from the likes of Jacques Chirac and all like minded ones. Not content with taxing his fellow citizens he keeps coming up with proposals for new international taxation schemes. At the beginning of January he was busy hyping an international tax to develop a fund to help poor countries manage disaster relief efforts. This week he is proposing an international tax for AIDS. Yahoo News is reporting:
French President Jacques Chirac called for an "experimental" international tax to help fund the war against AIDS, suggesting it could be raised via a levy on airline tickets, some fuels or financial transactions.

In a speech via video link to political and business leaders in the Swiss resort of Davos, he said at least 10 billion dollars (7.7 billion euros) a year was needed -- up from six billion annually now -- to stem the spread of the disease.

Chirac, prevented from flying to the World Economic Forum here through poor weather, said that despite huge efforts so far, "we are failing in the face of this terrible pandemic."

He suggested options including: a "contribution" on international financial transactions, a tax on aviation and maritime fuel, a tax on capital movements in or out of countries which practised banking secrecy, or a "small levy" such as a dollar on the three billion airline tickets sold every year.

"What is striking about these examples," Chirac said, "is the disproportion between the modest efforts required and the benefits everyone would reap from them." The president said developed countries should also create tax incentives to stimulate private donations to charity.

I don’t know how they do it in France, but here in the New World governments already give income tax credits for charitable donations. Someone ought to tell Chirac that the Americans went to war for the right not to be taxed without representation. Trust me, they’d do it again, and I, for one, would not hesitate to bring the ammo. And for the record Chirac, McGirlieman beat you to my paycheque at the office.

In Pursuit of Excellence

Canadians are always looking for new ways to be Number 1 and feel good about themselves for just being Canadians. Not only is a Canadian Rock, Paper, Sissors Champion of the World, the Globe and Mail reports another first for Canadians:
Canada is now the largest single supplier of pot, speed and steroids to the United States, says a top customs official.

American authorities are making more seizures both at and south of the border, says George Webb, head of counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Though I do find it hard to find the bright side of being Number 1 when it means suffering and death for thousands.

(tipped off by Neale News)

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Knights of Columbus: the latest lamb to the slaughter

I am going into my psychic mode and predict that the BC Human Rights Tribunal will rule in favour of the lesbian couple that attempted to rent a Catholic wedding hall from the Knights of Columbus and had their booking cancelled once officials at the Knights of Columbus realized that it was being rented for a same-sex marriage reception.

The couple claims they had no idea that the Knights of Columbus was a Catholic men’s organization despite the fact that the Knights of Columbus has been in existence since 1881 or is so widely identified as a Catholic organization that even Archie Bunker knew it was filled with Papists. C’mon ladies, you have to do better than that.

But here’s the real deal. Ladies, you base your claim for discrimination on the fact that the hall is being rented to the general public per say. And as such, you believe that the owners of the hall have no right to refuse any member of the general public the use of their hall. No doubt the BC Human Rights Tribunal will rule in your favour as these types of organizations are apt to do regardless of the rights of the religious.

And yet, if the Knights of Columbus refused to rent the hall to Hookers R Us Reunion Ball-no one would utter a peep. You deliberately target a Catholic organization and then cry foul when the Catholic organization will not allow their facilities to be used for any purpose that Catholic Church would not sanction. You will win your suit, but it won’t win you the respect or approval from the Catholic Church on your union that you seem to crave. Two thousand years of catechism will not change for your sensibilities or even mine; though I am pained that the rights of the religious will be offered up as the sacrificial lamb on your quest for societal legitimacy and relentless need for public approval.

Caveat: I don’t give a pig’s arse who marries whom. I would rather see the government oversee civil unions and leave the whole question of marriage to the religious communities, furthermore, I find it repugnant that the government is being calling forth to pass judgment on the catechism of religious communities.

(tipped off by Neale News)

George Bush Questions

The National Post is running a story concerning a statement US President George W. Bush made to Canadian officials during his November state visit to Canada:
The newspaper quoted an unidentified Canadian official who was in the room as saying Bush waved off their attempts to explain how contentious the issue is for Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government.

"(Bush) leaned across the table and said: `I'm not taking this position, but some future president is going to say, Why are we paying to defend Canada?' '' the official was quoted as saying.

"Most of our side was trying to explain the politics, how it was difficult to do,'' he said. But Bush "waved his hands and remarked: `I don't understand this. Are you saying that if you got up and said this is necessary for the defence of Canada, it wouldn't be accepted?' ''

Yep, that about sums it up. I have often wondered what it would take for Canadians to stand up and demand adequate funding for our military. Among friends, I have glibbly suggested that the White House should send a bill to Ottawa for defense. In retrospect, maybe that is not as off the mark or that time not so long off as I once jested. Maybe if the Canadian public can be made to equate defense spending as the ultimate act of Anti-Americanism the armed forces can be saved from clutches of irrelevancy and/or bankruptcy.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Rosie's Kitchen

I learned to cook by growing up in my grandmother’s kitchen. She was the most amazing cook. She could eat something once and knew how to cook it for life. She was the oldest child among many, born in poverty and came of age in the great depression. As such, she felt that restaurants were a decadent extravagance, verging on mortal sin. "Why waste your money eating in a restaurant when I can make it right here?" she’d say. It didn’t matter what you wanted; Chinese, Italian, Russian, Polish, Greek, French, she made it all. The only problem was she cooked like she was cooking for a mess hall feeding a full battalion rather than just my grandfather and myself. By the time she passed away, the house held 3 full sized freezers and four fridges. She liked going to visit my uncle in North Carolina. He had four children and a wife. She would visit twice a year and leave enough food behind in the freezer to keep them going for six months at a time.

Going to eat at a restaurant was a very perilous thing to do in my Grandmother’s house. It wasn’t until I moved out of my grandmother’s home that I felt that I could eat in a restaurant in relative peace. I never told her if I were going to eat in a restaurant with friends but she always knew the minute I walked through the door. Then the interrogation would begin, and let me tell you, the CIA had nothing on her. She not only knew I had eaten in someone else’s kitchen but she could sniff out what I had eaten. She sang as she cooked and she had a lovely alto. In another life she might have sung professionally in one of the opera’s she so adored. To this day when I hear certain arias, I have a desire to eat.

She never followed a recipe in her life. Her friends and daughters-in-laws often use to ask her how to cook certain dishes and she would duly write it down but there always seemed to be something missing for it never turned out like hers. My mother and my aunts thought it was a vanity of hers not ever giving out the recipe exactly but I now know it for something else. If you wanted to know how to cook the things she made; there was only one way. You needed to apprentice in her kitchen. You needed to learn how to compensate for the size of things, when to add more, when to add less, how to substitute this, for that.

Overall I have not done badly by learning to cook this way. Once a year I give a big sit-down dinner for friends based on my grandmother’s favourite comfort foods and they never refuse what is offered. At nine, my oldest son, came home from a play date at a friend’s house and asked me if I knew that you could buy soup in a can? I pretended to be shocked though I was smugly pleased when he announced that he didn’t like it. For him, Rosie lives on in food.

The problem with serving my apprenticeship in my grandmother’s kitchen is that I cannot follow a recipe as written. I always find myself thinking it needs this or that. So it never turns out quite like it is suppose too. Sometimes better and often not. Subsequently, I own very few cookbooks; mostly they have been gifts and gather dust on the bookshelf. I admire people who can write out a recipe exactly, and for others who persevere by sticking to the recipe as written. I lack my grandmother’s empathy for food and cannot cook anything I tasted just once. I can only cook what I learned in her kitchen. I think of it as a kind of dyslexia and resigned myself to only cooking what I learned 40 odd years ago. But lately I find myself restless and discontent for cooking what I know. For months now, I have been receiving notices about the Carnival of Recipes and I have duly followed the link and read through the recipes offered. I have often been tempted to try, but I chicken out in the end, though I like to think that my capacity for learning has not been stalled with my entrance into middle-age so I am taking the plunge and trying a few dishes that have been posted at the Carnival of Recipes. Caltechgirlsworld is hosting the latest Carnival, and this time; I am going to see if an old dog can learn a new trick.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Breakfast of Hate

I readily own up to the fact that I possess a slight petty streak which is often mixed with a rather warped sense of humour. That’s why I am compelled to read Hog on Ice on a regular basis. Steve H often writes something that I wish I had. Like Friday, on Breakfast of Hate, he comments on the US Senate Hearings and Condoleeza Rice:
The hearings were historic, mainly because it’s not that often that you get to see seven or eight Democrats slander and abuse a successful black woman. Not since they stopped wearing sheets. But then Condi isn’t black or female. She’s conservative, so NOW and the NAACP revoked her credentials. From now on, whenever she fills out a government form, she has to list herself as a white male, and in certain states she could also be forced to buy golf clubs.

Condi Rice is a big favourite of the Last Amazon and she hopes to be grow-up to be the soldier/scientist - much taller version of Condi Rice. The Last Amazon has a great deal of empathy for Condi Rice, she too has often felt that her membership in NOW and NAACP has been made null and void for much the same reasons Condi’s has. Though the Last Amazon already plays golf, she cannot yet afford Condoleeza Rice’s choice in shoes but speaking as the mother of the Last Amazon it is my professional opinion that everyone needs something to work towards.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Morning Rush Hour Just Got Easier

Among all my many failings, there is one bad habit I commit on a regular basis. Upon rising, I usually don’t make my bed unless company is coming. That being said, I still duke it out with the sons in the morning rush to have the boys make theirs. Now I think that my efforts have been entirely misguided:
Research suggests that while an unmade bed may look scruffy it is also unappealing to house dust mites thought to cause asthma and other allergies. A Kingston University study discovered the bugs cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed. The average bed could be home to up to 1.5 million house dust mites. The bugs, which are less than a millimetre long, feed on scales of human skin and produce allergens which are easily inhaled during sleep. The warm, damp conditions created in an occupied bed are ideal for the creatures, but they are less likely to thrive when moisture is in shorter supply.

(tipped off by Israellycool)

John Kerry, Barbara Boxer: Just Say No

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state after two days of hearings in which she faced strenuous Democratic assaults on the Bush administration's handling of Iraq.

Pending approval by the full Senate, Rice would be the first black woman to hold the job. She was confirmed by a 16-2 vote with Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California voting no.

Talk about sore losers and sour grapes.

(tipped off by Drudge Report)


US Senate Confirmation Hearings for Secretary of State:

US Senator Barbara Boxer:
"I personally believe that your loyalty to the mission you were given to sell this policy overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Boxer told the nominee during Rice's confirmation hearing.

Nominee Condi Rice Responds:
"I have never ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature, it is not my character," Rice said. "And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said, without impugning my credibility or my integrity."

This much I know is true

"Taxes, CPP erode take home pay" so sayth the Toronto Star (registration required):
Ed Clark, outspoken president of the Toronto Dominion Bank, wanted to know why his childhood buddies didn't feel better off than their parents. For the answer, Clark called up his chief economist, Don Drummond. The result is a scathing report chastising government for over-taxing Canadians, spending money on the wrong things and leaving take-home pay stagnating for 15 years. "(Clark) said, `Here is your task: Every time I get together with high school friends or university friends or other ordinary Canadians, they all say they don't feel any better off,'" said Drummond. It turns out they aren't imagining things, according to a TD report released yesterday.

For what it is worth, here’s my anecdotal evidence of the erosion of Canadian paycheques. I left the workforce in the spring of 1991 because of the birth of my first child. I returned to the work force in 1998. My salary level upon my return to the work force equaled the salary I had exited the work force from in 1991. Here’s the legal thievery: even though I claimed three dependants in 1998, I was robbed more in income taxes, CPP and EI bi-monthly than I had in 1991 as a single person with no dependents. The difference in the rate of legal thievery could not be explained away by the rate of inflation.

Unabashedly American: Fox News Network

I started to watch Fox News Network because of the curiosity factor. I have been monitoring the network for the past month and have some general observations. First thought that hit me is that this is an American broadcast from a distinctly American viewpoint. There is no pretense that the station is trying for a truly "international" flavour. If Fox takes on the international market it will do so from a strictly American viewpoint rather than an internationalist agenda. Not only does Fox sound like America; it is unapologetically American. No American apologists at Fox and what a contrast to the apologetically Americanization of CNN.

Then there is the sound of Fox. None of those generic accents at Fox that make so many North American broadcasters sound like they are all from the same region of North America. Fox has the diversity of accents in all its wondrous varieties. This is the diverse sounds of America that I remember from traveling through.

When an issue at Fox gets debated there is readily understood a true divergence of opinion. There is no highlighting left and lefter opinion, no shades of nuance at Fox. Fair and balanced? I am not so sure about that but despite the rhetoric; impassioned pundits get an equal opportunity to get their cheap shots or digs in, and hard questions are being asked more often than not. That is, in itself, a revelation in broadcast cable news.

No Larry King. Enough Said.

G-d makes the lexicon in ordinary speech at Fox. Broadcasters do not hesitate to affirm their faith or invoke the name of G-d. Imagine Peter Mansbridge invoking the name of G-d or affirming his religious viewpoint? Not going to happen unless he is reporting on the actions of alleged evil Christians attempting to encroach on the rights of the others. Furthermore, the actual broadcasters will not hesitate to take a personal stand on an issue and let the viewer know where their bias is coming from. It is all front and centre, in your face. No guess work required.

Many in Canada were surprised and shocked that George W. Bush won re-election to the American presidency and it shouldn’t have been, unless you were spending all your time reading Canadian Mainstream Media and watching CNN, and as such, you were not only poorly served but misinformed.

Yesterday and today, while I was watching Fox’s morning show they took the time to acknowledge that Fox was now being broadcast to Canadians and they encouraged Canadians to take the time to write in and tell them what we think, and what we would like to see in Fox. So, time to step up to the mark people and send your 2 cents to

Monday, January 17, 2005

Red Ensign Standard Vol. 13

Jay at The Freeway of Serfdom Hoists:
Welcome to the 13th edition of the Red Ensign Standard, a forum where we highlight some of the best subversive commentary from across the great northern Dominion.


Flying across the country, as has become so routine for many of us - I'm always in awe of what Canada's pioneers accomplished. Those who came to North American shores and moved their way across the unforgiving landscape had to literally dig themselves an existence out of the rocks and brush and swamp. They sure as hell didn't have a Nanny State nagging over their shoulders. Our post-Trudeaupian deference to government authority would be alien to most of them. They would be unable to comprehend why we are constantly up in each other's faces over what percentage of our income will be poured into this or that government sink hole. It's that Canada I pay tribute to when I fly the Ensign - I'm not envious of the comparative state of freedom in the US: I honestly think we can do better, as history has shown.

Me too. Check out the rest here.

Live from University of Toronto: Israeli Apartheid Week

University of Toronto will play host to the Israel=Apartheid Crowd from Monday, January 31 to Friday, February 4, 2005 organized by the University of Toronto Arab Student Collective and sponsored by Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies.

John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty makes a guest appearance and will host the forum on Palestinian Migrant Labour in the Apartheid State – has this man ever held a real job in his life - let alone one in the Apartheid State? I suppose suicide bombers could be considered a kind of migrant worker – it did tend to be lucrative under Saddam and the on the job promotion to heaven is/was seen as a kind of perk.

Unfortunately, there have been no scheduled speakers to discuss women’s equality issues either in the workplace or before the courts in Palestinian society. There will be no discussions on honour killings; and no one will update the crowd on how the battle goes to end the barbaric practice of female circumcision. Finally, don’t look for anyone to discuss the lack of rights and brutal treatment meted out to the Christians, Druze, Domi or homosexuals in Palestinian society. Though there is a lecture planned to discuss the Illegality of the Apartheid Wall and Canada’s responsibility. No doubt that should be informative.

The lecture series opens with a discussion on the Right of Return on the 31st though I do see that no one from JIMENA will be speaking.

Now all I have to do is clean my "Six Days, Bitch" T-shirt and I will be good to go. And to the Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at University of Toronto, I say, "HARAM ALEKEM!"

(Tipped off by Little Green Footballs)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Failure of Soft Power

It is not often that I am not at mental loggerheads with Amnesty International but this is one case where I have come to the same conclusion about Canada’s foreign policy and have to say, Here, Here! The Toronto Star reports:
Canada's 10-year preoccupation with trade as a means of fixing human rights abuses has been a dismal failure, human rights activists said today. They called on Prime Minister Paul Martin to take a firmer stand when he visits China during his Asian tour next week.

"We cannot leave human rights simply to the whim of market forces," Alex Neve, head of Amnesty International Canada, told a news conference. "To have pursued that as almost the solitary approach to how human rights were going to be raised and advanced in the Canada-China relationship was inadequate."

But it is just not China where that policy has failed, it has failed everywhere we have tried it. It hasn’t worked in Iran. We sell them wheat and buy oil, but the Mullah’s still don’t hesitate to bludgeon to death a Canadian citizen when the urge comes upon them.

Take Cuba, and you know Canadians feel so smug and superior to the Americans because we have diplomatic relations with Cuba and they don’t. It definitely brings out the ‘huha, huha, huha’ factor in Canadians. For decades now Canadians have been traveling to Cuba and spending their hard earned northern pesos, and yet, no matter how much trade or tourist dollars Fidel receives from us; he is still imprisoning poets, writers, musicians, homosexuals or anyone else Fidel & friends take a notion to imprison and torture.

I know what you are thinking; everybody in Cuba can read and write and they have free medical care. Great skill to have but if using those skills lands your genitals a date with a car battery or there are no books to read; what’s the point? Free medical care is a definite bonus providing that you can get it. Again, I fail to comprehend the benefit in having a doctor attempt to diagnosis a health issue without the equipment, tools or the drugs to cure you. But hey, it’s free.

If you really insist on believing the myth that using soft power diplomacy with despots makes a despot more humane I have an idea for you to try the next time your lying on one of Cuba’s sandy beaches sipping rum and having the sun warm your skin; try to imagining the song a Cuban sings on a date with a car battery attached to their genitals.

China - Canada: what's the difference?

I had one of those huh moments when reading an online Toronto Star article about a reporter and a camera man from New Tang Dynasty Television Canada that wanted to accompany Prime Minister Martin on his upcoming China Trade Mission trip. The Chinese government without explanation pulled the visas for the reporter and cameraman. Danielle Zhu of New Tang Dynasty Television Canada is quoted as saying:
Danielle Zhu and David Ren say the withdrawal of their visas shows how far the Chinese Communist government will go to quash freedom of the press. "I came to Canada in search for freedom," said Zhu, near tears. "And now I found that even with a Canadian passport, I'm not enjoying full freedom like I should be ... because Chinese power has extended to Canada."

All I can do is hope that the Canada Press reporter misquoted Danielle Zhu because I would shutter to think that Ms. Zhu is so deluded that she cannot comprehend that China is a totalitarian communist state; and as such, Freedom of the Press is not a given. Canada, soft power or not, cannot control the internal laws of another sovereign state. It is the prerogative of all sovereign states to determine who enters and when. As such, the Chinese government exercising their visa laws does not mean that the Chinese government has extended its control into Canada - at least not by this act. Once they buy up the country she might have a point.

Friday, January 14, 2005

To bare or not to bare; that is the question!

From the Toronto Star (registration required):
Federal Immigration Minister Judy Sgro will step down today following allegations she promised a Brampton man asylum in Canada in exchange for assisting in her election campaign.

Sgro's decision to step aside came only hours after the Toronto Star obtained a copy of an affidavit in which pizza shop owner Harjit Singh claims Sgro pressed him to supply food and workers for her campaign last spring.

Singh, a father of three facing deportation from Canada, alleges in the sworn affidavit filed in the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto yesterday that when word of his arrangement with Sgro started to leak out, Sgro suddenly reneged on the deal and last month ordered his arrest and removal from Canada "to save her job."

Last night, federal sources confirmed that Sgro, 60, already at the centre of an ethics investigation over her conduct as immigration minister, would be leaving cabinet until she can clear her name.

What I want to know is - what was the reason she allegedly reneged on her word? Could it be: a) because she is a Liberal or b) because he wouldn’t work as a Chippendale?

(tipped off by Neale News)

By the way

I love my mother. Not only is she a role model for middle-age, she is leading the way in showing me how to grow old with grace, faith, joy and hope. She was a young woman in the 60’s. She didn’t tune-out or drop-out. I never had a million alleged uncles growing up. I cannot recall her ever being drunk or stoned out of her tree. She tried to improve the lives of all those she came in contact with and still does. She has never stopped learning or wanting to learn.

She is the most amazing of grandmothers and she is held fast and tight in the hearts of her grandchildren. When she was told that a tumor was malignant and why surgery and then chemo had to follow immediately, the doctor asked her if she had any questions. She looked him in the eye and said, "Yes, can you tell me what Batman’s belt looked liked?" What was most important to her was not that her life could be precarious and shorter than presumed; but that she exercise control over what she could control – the here and now. A promise made, was a promise kept. She promised her grandsons Batman and Robin costumes for Halloween, and though mortality might bar the way, she had a belt to make for Batman’s costume, and by jove, she was going to make it or die trying. She presumed that the young doctor was still young enough to remember. That Halloween while I worried and fretted, the children went out trick and treating as Batman, Robin and Xenia.

And I am so grateful that I was not raised by a wing-nut like this and that I never have had cause to worry when the children were in her care.
Toronto Star — A 43-year-old Oshawa woman faces several charges after police allege she was caught smoking marijuana when pulled over for a routine traffic stop — with her two grandchildren in the car. Durham regional police say the car was stopped last night because it had an expired licence plate. Police allege the woman was puffing on pot while her grandkids — aged one and four — were in the vehicle without seatbelts.

(tipped off by Neale News)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?

You are Gaius Caesar Germanicus - better known as Caligula! Third Emperor of Rome and ruler of one of the most powerful empires of all time, your common name means "little boots". Although you only reigned for four years, brief even by Roman standards, you still managed to garner a reputation as a cruel, extravagant and downright insane despot. Your father died in suspicious circumstances, you were not the intended heir, and one of your first acts as Emperor was to force the suicide of your father-in-law. Your sister Drusilla died that same year; faced with allegations that your relationship with her had been incestuous, you responded, bafflingly, by declaring her a god.

You revived a number of unpopular traditions, including auctions of properties left over from public shows. When a senator fell asleep at one such auction, you took each of his nods as bids, selling him 13 gladiators for a vast sum. You attempted to have your horse, Incitatus, made into a consul and hence one of the most powerful figures in Rome. It was granted a marble stable with jewels and a staff of servants. At one point you forced your comrade Macro to kill himself - in much the same vein as your father-in-law - accusing him of being his wife's pimp. You, of course, were having an affair with said wife at the time.

Things went from bad to worse. When supplies of condemned men ran short in the circus, you had innocent spectators dragged into the arena with the lions to fill their place. You claimed mastery of the sea by walking across a three-mile bridge of boats in the Bay of Naples; kissed the necks of your lovers, whispering sweet nothings like "This lovely neck will be chopped as soon as I say so,"; dallied with your sister's lover and made her pull her unborn child out of her womb prematurely. Towards the end of your reign, you had a golden statue of yourself made and dressed each day in the same clothes you yourself wore. When you eventually died, the terrified people of Rome refused to believe that such a cruel reign could ever end, and believed you to be alive for years afterwards.
I'm Caligula!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

I just don’t get it. I took the test twice; once in the morning and then later in the afternoon and still came out as Caligula. Of all the historical lunatics I could have been; I just don’t grasp how I keep scoring as Caligula when I really am much more the Medici Lunatic-type. Trust the Flea to score all the fun lunatics.

Crossing Lines

One particularly nasty and distasteful element that has become a trademark in a Michael Moore film is his constant mocking of the working class as it goes about the business of working though it is a criticism that seems to be rarely voiced. Perhaps, it is because modern society seems so very tolerant on the use of appallingly bad manners in everyday situations. So I read this story from the Times of India and felt there might be a place in this new age for myself after all.

Two US radio jockeys who abused an Indian call centre agent in a comedy skit on outsourcing went off the air for a day, suspended by the radio station and its parent company in response to a firestorm of protests from Indian community activists.

The station, Philadelphia's Power 99 FM that road broadcasts mainly hip-hop music, also apologised for their excess. "The Star & Buc Wild Show prides itself on walking on the edge. On December 15th, we crossed it. We know the pain racial slurs cause and apologize that this comedy segment went too far," a statement posted on the station's website said.

In the segment, Star, whose real name is Troi Torain, phones a call centre taking mail orders from the US for hair beads and gratuitously abuses a female agent named Steena, calling her a "bitch" and using a four-letter word. He then hangs up, hooting with laughter.

I would imagine that working at a call centre and dealing with the general public can be stressful at the best of times, and while I am no fan of outsourcing, call centres or telephone marketers, to be subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation for doing no more than one’s job by answering the phone all for the sake of a cheap laugh is unconscionable. Oh, and that parent company, Clear Channel Communications.

No Longer Content with Condemnations & Resolutions

It was outrageous enough last summer when the UN High Court of Justice ruled that Palestinian convenience trumped Jewish lives and limbs when it ruled the security fence protecting Israelis from Palestinian terrorism from the West Bank was illegal and must be torn down. Now the UN finds itself no longer content with passing anti-Israeli resolutions but is seeking to establish a Claims Registry Office for Palestinians who have been displaced or inconvenienced by the security fence in the West Bank. From the Jerusalem Post:

A UN General Assembly anti-Israel resolution passed in July asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish a register of damage caused by the fence's construction for possible future claims and legal action.

The resolution was based on the advisory opinion issued last summer by the International Court of Justice at The Hague demanding the demolition of the barrier in areas beyond the pre-1967 borders.
Annan took the first step Tuesday to create a claims register by sending a letter to the General Assembly president setting out a framework for the register and the next steps in its creation.

The registry office, as envisioned by Annan, would be based in Palestinian territory "so that it will be close to the people who will be submitting their damage claims for inclusion in the register," the note said. Details on staffing, size and cost remain to be worked out, but Annan proposed that the registry office be financed from contributions by all 191 UN member states.
Just why is it that the UN cannot comprehend that Israel does not have or run a 4th rate judicial system unlike all of the tinfoil brigade neighbors?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A Secular Pope and Blue Helmets

A commentator left the following comment on my post about the Blue Helmets:
To be fair, it's not entirely a symptom of the UN. Unit order and discipline begin at home, and if the contributing nations (and their combatant force COs and NCOs) haven't instilled a healthy respect for the civil population, the troops are not likely to develop it all on their own.

I am inclined to agree up to a point. But where we differ is that if the UN is going to accept troops from a member nation than it is only reasonable that the UN set the mandate for standards and the conduct of all member nations troops while wearing the blue helmet. For example, the UN has strict protocol governing the rules of engagement between hostile forces and does enforce those rules. I do not think it unreasonable that UN also enforce rules of conduct between the civilian refugee population and the Blue Helmet troops. The sysmetic failure of the UN leadership to effectively address the issue of the exploitation of women and children by UN Blue Helmeted troops reaches back over a 10 year span ranging from Bosnia to West Africa. From the Weekly Standard we learn this:
LAST MONTH A CLASSIFIED UNITED Nations report prompted Secretary General Kofi Annan to admit that U.N. peacekeepers and staff have sexually abused or exploited war refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The worst of the 150 or so allegations of misconduct--some of them captured on videotape--include pedophilia, rape, and prostitution. While a U.N. investigation into the scandal continues, the organization has just suspended two more peacekeepers in neighboring Burundi over similar charges. The revelations come three years after another U.N. report found "widespread" evidence of sexual abuse of West African refugees.

"The issue with the U.N. is that peacekeeping operations unfortunately seem to be doing the same thing that other militaries do," Gita Sahgal of Amnesty International told the Christian Science Monitor. "Even the guardians have to be guarded." That's not far off the mark. Various U.N. reports and interviews with humanitarian groups suggest that international peacekeeping missions are creating a predatory sexual culture among vulnerable refugees--from relief workers who demand sexual favors in exchange for food to U.N. troops who rape women at gunpoint.

Allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct by U.N. staff stretch back at least a decade, to operations in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. A 2001 report, released by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children, found that sexual violence against refugees in West Africa was endemic (though some of its findings were denied by a subsequent U.N. team). A year later a coalition of religious organizations sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell urging the United States to send more human rights monitors into Congo. The U.N. then introduced a "code of conduct" to help prevent future abuses, including prohibitions against sexual activity between staff and children and the exchange of money or food for sex.

It now appears, however, that little has changed on the ground. The U.N. Mission in Congo (MONUC) employs about 10,800 peacekeepers from 50 countries, in addition to many civilian staff. Yet there is no independent oversight of U.N. operations in its refugee camps. For that matter, none of the international agencies in the country has U.N. authority to protect the civil rights of internal refugees. Almost a year after the MONUC office in Kindu sent a memo in August 2003 to its headquarters in Kinshasa, detailing suspicions of sexual exploitation, the London Independent discovered action still hadn't been taken.

I have long made it clear that my attitude to sexual exploitation and abuse is one of zero tolerance, without exception, and I am determined to implement this policy in the most transparent manner," - Kofi Annan

But the reality between Mr. Annan’s words and deeds lays bare the bold-faced hypocrisy of the Secretary-General of the UN. It was just a little over two months ago when the news broke that Kofi Annan cleared Ruud Lubberg, UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees from charges of sexual harassment despite an internal inquiry that backed the victim.

A Secretary-General who would not penalize a UN High Commissioner for Refugees for sexual harassment despite an internal report backing the victim has little motivation or inclination to enforce the UN policies that are already on the books for the conduct of the UN Blue Helmet troops. I would call that a systematic failure of command by the United Nations.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Making Sense of the Little and Big Jihad of Abu Mazen

Daniel Pipes has an interesting article on Deciphering Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazen on Front Page Mag which acts as a foil to all the best chance for peace commentary being offered by the national MSM outlets. He concludes by drawing a parallel between Stalin 1930 and Abbas/Mazen 2005.
For an instructive parallel to Abbas having concluded that violence is inappropriate, consider Stalin in the decade before World War II. Aware of his weakness, he announced in 1930 an intent for the Soviet Union to be a good international citizen:

Our policy is a policy of peace and of increasing trade connections with all countries. A result of this policy is an improvement in our relations with a number of countries and the conclusion of a number of agreements for trade, technical assistance, and so forth. … We shall continue to pursue this policy of peace with all our might and with all the means at our disposal. We do not want a single foot of foreign territory.

These were not empty words; Stalin did largely keep to this program until 1939, when he felt strong enough to go on the offensive, at which point he initiated an unparalleled half century’s campaign of aggression which ended only with the Soviet state’s collapse.

For Abbas, it is 1930; he understands the need to cool things down. As someone who can realistically appraise circumstances and quietly respond to them, he is potentially a far more formidable enemy to Israel than the one-note, blindly violent, and flamboyantly evil Arafat.
I’d say, in for a penny, out for a pound.

Blue Helmets

It is reports like this one taken from the Telegraph that clearly illustrates why the UN cannot be considered a moral authority for anyone or in any place:

Peacekeeping troops guarding refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo sexually abused girls as young as 13, giving out scraps of food or money in return for favours, the United Nations admitted yesterday. A bar of chocolate or two eggs was the accepted payment for sex with young girls.
Soldiers continued abusing children even after the onset of an internal UN inquiry.

So who will protect the children of the Congo from UN Peacekeepers? Kofi Annan?

(tipped off by Neale News)

It that a report in your pants or are you just glad to see me?

I was listening to Fox News this morning and I heard mention of this story from the New York Post: But could not find the link till I visited the Corner.
The criminal probe into why former Bill Clinton aide Sandy Berger illegally sneaked top-secret documents out of the National Archives — possibly in his socks — has heated up and is now before a federal grand jury, The Post has learned.

The "Socks Docs" probe forced Berger, who was President Clinton's national security adviser, to step down as Democrat John Kerry's top foreign-policy adviser last summer. "It may have been off the front pages, but the investigation has been active," said a source with knowledge of the probe. "[Berger] has been interviewed several times by federal agents — FBI and prosecutors."

Berger admits removing 40 to 50 top-secret documents from the archives, but claims it was an "honest mistake" made while he vetted documents for the 9/11 commission's probe into the Twin Towers attacks. Berger has also acknowledged that he destroyed some documents — he says by accident.

I was wondering what happened to Sandy Sock-it, and I admit to being a tad fascinated in whether the Grand Jury will buy into the it-got-into-my-socks/pants-by-accident defense; though how you claim it was an accident when 40 odd documents goes missing seems a bit of a stretch on human imagination in the first place. I would have loved to been a fly on the wall during that questioning.

Monday, January 10, 2005

And I Did It My Way

I blame the Flea for this nonsense – he knows that there are many that cannot resist taking these silly quizzes.

At least I'm not Drew Carey
Which Survivor of the Impending Nuclear Apocalypse Are You?
A Rum and Monkey joint.

The sad part is I think I really was the most hated, loathed, reviled (use your favourite expletive) female in High School. All because I gave a 90 minute class presentation in Canadian Law on the Evils of Censorship dressed in black fishnet stockings, knee high boots and corset while the Sex Pistols played in the background. Ten years later a good friend ran into two girls in a Deli that we went to High School with. They had absolutely no recollection of him but they remembered clearly how venomously they hated me, and still did.

La vie en rose moments

A good editor is hard to find at the Globe and Mail and it very well may be that a good editor’s price is more precious than rubies. From the dead tree version of the Globe & Mail Michael Adams waxes on in "My Canada doesn’t include religiosity":
The devout Roman Catholic Pierre Trudeau had no trouble liberalizing our divorce laws in 1967.
I had to grab onto my desk as I was laughing so hard that I nearly fell out of my chair. Pierre Trudeau was many things but a devout Roman Catholic he was not. A man who was instrumental in liberalizing the divorce laws and instituting abortion on demand cannot be considered a devout Catholic by any stretch of imagination. Pierre Trudeau philosophically would have been more at home in the United Church of Canada than the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The Song Remains the Same

Hate to rain on anyone’s parade but the latest election is not the greatest hope for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis contrary to what you hear or read. Abu Mazen was part of Arafat’s inner circle for decades. His thesis was based on the Holocaust being a lie. He has never denounced terrorism as being morally repugnant. You cannot remain a supplicant without being cut from the same mold. Arafat held an election too, and what did that get the Palestinians? Widescale corruption, tyranny, and the infitada. Nor do I buy into Mazen winning 65-70% of the vote as a sign that the Palestinians are willing to embrace a peace with Israel when the turnout is not what it appears to be. The Globe and Mail reports on what the Palestinian Central Election said:
Some said that lower-than-expected turnout figures — the Central Election Commission said only that "at least" 66 per cent of eligible voters had cast ballots — would damage the president-elect's credibility and give him weakened bargaining power with militants.

Do the math. Israel National News has reported on exchanged broadcasted on Israel Radio’s newsmagazine:

Appearing before cheering crowds last night, Abu Mazen did little to allay Israeli fears that he is no different than Arafat. He said he dedicates his victory to "brother shahid [martyr] Yasser Arafat," to the "shahids and prisoners," and to the "Palestinian people from Rafiach to Jenin." The crowd responded, "A Million Shahids Marching to Jerusalem!"

Abu Mazen also said that the period of the "little Jihad [holy war] had ended, and now the big Jihad is beginning." This quote led to a quaint exchange on Israel Radio's morning newsmagazine. Arabic-speaking correspondent Avi Yisacharov played the tapes of Abu Mazen's quotes, and then quickly said, "Regarding the future..." He was immediately interrupted by anchorman Aryeh Golan, who said, "Whoa, wait a second. What's this 'big Jihad' stuff?" Yisacharov gave a nervous chuckle and said, "I don't think he means a real Jihad, he just means the challenges ahead of reforms in the PA and the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel..." Yisacharov similarly played a recording of a leading Abu Mazen supporter singing in joy at the results of the election, and explained that it was simply "an old PLO war song."

So the little jihad is over and the big jihad will begin. It all leaves me very unimpressed.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Not content with taxing its' own citizens, France seeks to enlarge the tax base by suggesting that there should be an international tax and will try to pitch the idea at the next G-8 meeting reports The Australian:
FRENCH President Jacques Chirac made a new call today for an "international tax", saying such a levy would help generate funds to help poor countries and those hit by disasters such as the Asian tsunami.

"These events stress the need to increase public aid towards development and to find innovative financing mechanisms such as an international taxation," Mr Chirac said in a New Year speech to the Paris diplomatic corps.

He said France would press the international tax idea this year at meetings of the Group of Eight - the G7 rich countries plus Russia - and at the United Nations, but gave no details of his proposals.
Of course, this is an idea that has been kicking around for years and prior to Chirac picking up and trying to run with this ball, The Center for Individual Freedom reported on Kofi Annan's efforts to find support for an international tax last summer:
Like a bad sequel to a rotten horror movie, the debate over global taxation once again is rearing its ugly head — courtesy of the United Nations. And, despite lacking the requisite hockey mask and chain saw, the seemingly countless proposals for the imposition of global taxes are truly terrifying.

In July, Inter Presse news service reported that a top U.N. official was preparing a new study that will outline numerous global tax proposals to be considered by the General Assembly at its September meeting. The proposals will likely include everything from global taxes on e-mails and Internet use to a global gas tax and levies on airline travel. If adopted, American taxpayers could wind up paying hundreds of billions of dollars each year to the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is among those leading the charge, having stated that he "strongly supports finding new sources of funding" for the U.N. through global taxes, according to Inter Presse. In fact, Annan made very clear his support for the imposition of global taxes in a 2001 Technical Note that he authored for a U.N. conference. "The need to finance the provision of global public goods in an increasingly globalized world also adds new urgency to the need for innovative new sources of financing," Annan wrote. The Note goes on to describe and evaluate the merits of several global tax proposals.

I, once again, am forced to ask - what are the odds that a Canadian Liberal government will not support any UN/French initiatives on international TAXATION?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Blame Game

From the Jerusalem Post:
The earthquake that struck the Indian Ocean on December 26, triggering a series of huge waves called tsunami, "was possibly" caused by an Indian nuclear experiment in which "Israeli and American nuclear experts participated," an Egyptian weekly magazine reported Thursday.

According to Al-Osboa', India, in its heated nuclear race with Pakistan, has lately received sophisticated nuclear know-how from the United States and Israel, both of which "showed readiness to cooperate with India in experiments to exterminate humankind."
Of course, the Israelis did it, don’t they always? But what took the Egyptians so long to figure it out this time? I really expected better from the Egyptians - after all they did get a major heads-up on the rest of us.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

No room at CTV for a woman with child.

As I write this, CTV is airing its latest movie of the week; Choice: the Henry Morgentaler Story. I first saw this movie of the week being hyped during the holidays and my immediate thought was; why would anyone want to make a movie about an abortion doctor? My next thought was how ironic that CTV executives elected to feature and promote the story of Canada’s premier abortion doctor during the Christmas Season considering that a sub-text of the story is that there is no room in the inn for a woman with child.

(tipped off by Neale News & Relapsed Catholic)

Ka-ching, Ka-ching

The Last Amazon called me at work today as soon as she arrived home from school. She was breathless with excitement and it took several minutes for my normally articulate daughter to express herself. I was expecting her wanting to discuss a new math theory or a science experiment but no, it was about – HOCKEY.

In gym class she played her first game of hockey. She had skates but has never played hockey before. She had to borrow a helmet and a stick but once she got on the ice she was good to go. Now she is talking about wanting to join a league and finally finding her true sport……

I admit I was a little taken back last spring when she and her brothers wanted to take up golf but I understood the appeal factor. You get weapon and a ball and the goal is to hit the ball with the weapon and get it in the hole. I understand the appeal but HOCKEY?

I don’t like hockey, I didn’t start out that way but I learned to loathe hockey with a passion that has never left me. When I was a young girl I even played hockey back in the day when the schools let you play hockey and every elementary playground had an outdoor rink made by the school janitor with old planks and water as soon as the first snow fell. I played in the morning before school, at recess, after school and I was always ready for a game on weekends too. I admit I didn’t play hockey with many girls, most didn’t seem to like it and if I really was going to be a ballet dancer skating was a no-no, but I didn’t care. I loved hockey. I loved racing down the ice and literally giving the shoulder to anyone that got in my way. In those days we didn’t play with helmets or padding. It was a tough, fast game and you had to be prepared to take your licks and get your butt in gear, no matter what.

That all changed when I got to grade 7. Suddenly, I was no longer allowed to play hockey in school. Girls played Ringette. You were not allowed to body check in ringette. You played with broken hockey sticks – and not because you busted it over someone’s head and were forced to finish the game that way - it was really meant to be broken so that no one would get hurt. There wasn’t even a puck but a stupid soft rubber ring so no one would get hurt. Girls played Ringette because it was not as tough as hockey. Furthermore, real girls didn’t play hockey with boys because the boys were too big and rough or so I was told over and over. Years later I met Wayne Gretzky by accident and couldn’t stop smirking because I figured I could take him out in less than 10 seconds with either my chair or a bottle; so much for big and tough. I grew angry and frustrated that what I loved was being taken away from me; not because I could not compete or that I wasn’t good enough but because I was female and females didn’t play hockey.

It didn’t matter how I begged to be allowed to try out for the boys’ intramural teams. It cut no ice with the teachers that I could out skate or out stick any of my male contemporaries. It didn’t matter that in pick-up games I was always picked first by any of the boys for their team. It didn’t matter that the guys wanted to me to play. This was 1974 and girls played ringette. I wasn't demanding to use the same changeroom as the boys. I'd have been happy with a broom closet by myself to change in. I hated ringette and if I wasn’t allowed to play hockey, f**k hockey and the stick you rode in on.

I was never able to get over my apathy towards hockey and could come up a long litany on why I wouldn’t sign either the Last Amazon or her brothers for hockey. It also helped that my husband was a Chinese-Jamaican immigrant. Jamaicans don’t do hockey; cricket, basketball, rugby, soccer, boxing, football, the odd bobsledding but no hockey. The schools today made it easy for me to ignore hockey; they don’t teach the sport and they no longer allow rinks to be made outside - even floor hockey is banned. It promotes aggression and competition. Yes, things were working out just grand until the Last Amazon won a scholarship to a private prep school where not only does everyone play hockey but the school has its own indoor rink.

One thing I have learned running this home is where the Last Amazon dares to tread; the Spartans will want to follow. All I can think of now is ka-ching, ka-ching and I have to fight the urge to close my wallet. I will probably have to look around and see if I can’t come up with a part-time job to help her and her brothers play. And now you know why, when I grow up I want to be my daughter.

Some Guys Have all the Luck

You just can’t make up this stuff. The Telegraph is reporting:
The Muslim cleric Abu Hamza refused to appear in court yesterday because, he said, his toe nails were too long.Hamza, 47, had been due to appear at the Old Bailey by a video link from Belmarsh prison, south London, for a plea hearing.

He faces 16 charges of soliciting the murders of non-believers, including Jews, and stirring up racial hatred. But when the case was called, a prison officer told the video link: "He is refusing to come over here. He is being checked over by medical staff. He says he is unable to walk."

Paul Hynes, for Hamza, the former imam at the Finsbury Park mosque, north London, said that the cleric had a "particular physical difficulty". He said: "He has been perambulating around the prison in bare feet for the last few days. It is a long-standing problem." Adina Ezekiel, prosecuting, said Hamza was "complaining his toe nails are too long, which the Crown is rather cynical about".

I just broke a nail, can I go home now?

(tipped off by Nealenews)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Musing on the Red Ensign Bloggers

Jason at Musings hoists the Red Ensign Standard. Go check it out but remember to scroll way down:

Our roots are what make us strong:

Like me, the other Red Ensign bloggers see Canada as a land blessed with unparalleled beauty, a wealth of natural resources, and - most importantly - a hearty, strong, welcoming, friendly population. From where I stand, in Alberta, I see a country that embraces its past and looks forward to a dynamic and exciting future. As a country, we recognize that our past has some warts with which we must contend. We admit that some choices we have made could have been handled better. However, despite the warts, we see a growing number of bloggers and general Canadian citizens recognizing that the core beliefs that built this country - personal responsibility, individual and religious freedoms, and a willingness to do the work yourself - were right and proper. More and more, we recognize that amidst the necessary growth and change associated with any culture, those core beliefs must be retained and strengthened to ensure this country remains great.

Well said.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Getting a leg up on trends for the ages or old boobs

One of the most popular posts I had made in the past year was called Tattoos Today and Topless Tomorrows. I am not sure why this post has grabbed the most attention, but there it is. Apparently it comes in quite high on a search of "topless tomorrows" or "old topless women". Really it was just a short piece on middle aged women being the big growth market for tattoos and the Romanian government banning 60+ year old women from going topless on the beach as it is said to put off the tourists. I couldn't imagine for the life of me why anyone would type in "old topless women" and want to get a gander at what websites featured that. It always made me smile and I thought it was such a lark that they found the Last Amazon instead.

I was discussing this with a friend and he suggested that I really ought to find out what is listed there but being the modest, fearful type, I deferred and designated the job to him. Being in early middle-age I prefer that the future remain a mystery better experienced by getting there rather than having to live in fear for the future. He emailed this story and advised that this Ananova story is No. 1 on the list:
Woman, 75, upsets neighbours by cooking topless

A 75-year-old woman has upset her neighbours in southern China by cooking topless on her apartment balcony. Neighbours complained to local authorities about the woman who cooks topless even in icy weather on the balcony of her home in Dongguan.

The widow appeared to be polite and intelligent in all respects other than her tendency to remove her top before cooking out of doors, the Southern Metropolis News said.

The neighbourhood committee talked to the woman but she told them it was "nobody's business" how she dressed at home. Explaining why she cooked topless, the woman reportedly quoted an old Chinese saying which goes: "Women over the age of 40 are like men."

Which really makes me think that there is a dubious value to old Chinese proverbs that I had not considered before. I haven't a clue if this story is true or not, but I am calling my mother and giving her one last chance to get hip.

Man’s best friend is not always a dog

I have always had a particular fondness for elephants. I cannot really say when it first it began; I just know that as far back as I can remember I have been held in awed by them. More often than not, I choose to wear my silver elephant pendant on a chain around my neck (and no, I don’t wear elephant earings, dresses or ivory either). So it was not surprising that this story caught caught my eye from Naharnet:
Elephant Saves Children from Deadly Waves in Thailand

Several children who were on a Thai beach when the tsunami struck were saved by an elephant, a British tourist said Wednesday. The elephant had been brought to the beach in the resort of Phuket to entertain the children, Laura Barnett, 40, told Britain's Press Association news agency. The youngsters were put on the back of the animal by its keeper, enabling them to escape unscathed as the killer waves approached, she said.

But the aid rendered from the mighty tuskers does not end in saving lives in the Tsunmani disaster and and the India Express reports:
Elephants, Thailand’s ancient war vehicles, are being brought in to help disaster workers retrieve and transport bloated bodies from tsunami-hit beaches and islands, an owner said on Saturday.

About 24 elephants were expected to land on the devastated resort island of Phuket and the mainland beaches of Khao Lak where rotting corpses lay buried beneath rubble and tonne of sand and debris following the devastating tsunami on Sunday.

"Elephants are better than four-wheel-drive trucks, better than back hoes. Those can’t go far, but elephants can," Sompast Meephan said as he loaded elephants onto trucks for the 800-km (500-mile) ride from Ayutthaya, the former capital in central Thailand, to Phuket.

I ask: what more do you really need in a blog?

There are just so many reasons why I visit Trudeaupia on a regular basis that there are just not enough hours in any given day to list them all, but, besides the latest scoops for new uses the Saudi’s find for their goats, life lessons, witty and insightful commentary; Kevin now has highlighted a blog featuring: Christopher’s Guide to Your 2005 Horocope.
Cancer: All of those years of carrying that nagging suspicion that you were a victim of a conspiracy bear fruit as you discover that they really are out to get you.

I knew it, and that is why I keep my handbag locked and loaded!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Bounder of Adventure

In my email last night I received a notice that a new blog has been born called Bounder of Adventure. It’s kind of like a one-stop-blog summary of what Canadian right of centre blogs are posting. Interesting concept Martin, but get busy – there are much, much more of us than that.

Liberal Recruitment Drive

The London Fog, ever vigilant to our increasingly loss of liberty in Canada ends the old year with this story concerning Liberal Senator Mac Harb's crusade to add an amendment to the Canada Election Act that would make voting mandatory in Canada or pay a hefty fine. The London Fog has the news links here.

Senator Mac Harb, author of the bill S-22 is quoted as saying:
Despite its name, mandatory voting will actually enhance Canadians' rights in our democratic society," Harb said in a prepared statement.

Do tell how so Harb?
"Low turnout rates disenfranchise the most vulnerable in our country and this legislation will boost the legitimacy and efficacy of our democratic institutions."

Gee, Harb I just cannot quite follow your logic and do you have any proof that it will boost the legitimacy and efficacy of our democratic institutions? Didn't Saddam and the Stalin have 100% electoral turnout rates? Colour me whatever, but I fail to understand how this helps to end the disenfranchisement of those who are drunks, druggies, hookers, crazies and the downright lazies - but I do know that your going to have to add a whole new branch to the government to handle all those who choose to break this law just like all the other ones they collectively thumb their noses at. My only consolation if this piece of idiocy becomes law will be watching the fine enforcement officers trying to arrest the various and sundry outside my downtown Toronto livingroom windows.

But seriously Senator, wouldn't it be easier to take at leaf out of the past and just let politicians bribe voters with drinks or cash again?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Be forewarned: I am holding my handbag

I had not intended to write this post, if anything, I had decided that I would not turn an individual decision to join a group or not into an issue of public debate in my blog. I had no desire to appear to be potentially fisking those who have freely chosen to join. Nor did I wish to be perceived as discouraging any others from participating in what could be construed as a noble endeavour; but after reading this post on my alleged view and never published before on my blog, I am compelled to wade into the fray.

I have never been a political partisan. I have never joined a political party nor desired too. I have voted more often than not for a conservative leaning party but I try to base my vote on what I perceive to be the issues and whose party’s stance most closely mirrors my own notions of what is best for the country. Call me what names you will, but I would vote liberal tomorrow in a heartbeat if the Liberal Party of Canada could resurrect Laurier from the dead and have him re-shape the Liberal Party of Canada. If Margaret Thatcher would run in Canada on the same platform as she did for the Tories in Britain as leader of the NDP, I’d cast my vote her way without hesitation but perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking that the apocalypse must be close at hand.

Among my many and varied character flaws is the inability to commit to anything that I cannot wholeheartedly endorse. Buying into 51-60% per cent of a party platform and rejecting outright the rest, is in my mind, how to cast a vote but not enough of a cause to align one’s loyalty to any given party platform. Loyalty is more than just a word for me but a concept that requires that I live out with my words and acts in a given manner. I refuse to align myself to anything that requires my own concept of honour to shelf 40-49% of my principles for as the price to be paid for power. Though I recognize that there are many principled others who would disagree with me on this; I am just not ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of woman.

Before you accuse me of being high and mighty let me state that I am not a leader or a visionary. Occasionally my youngest child accuses me of prophecy but that is only because I have lived long and experienced enough to foresee the potential consequences of any given action. The argument has been made that the Conservative Party has a secret agenda that it will not hesitate to implement if it ever gains the necessary power in Canada which I reject outright but it is often hard to discern where the conservative lies in the Conservative Party when it supports or mirrors liberal policy think: transfats, missile defense, Quebec, abortion. The Conservative Party wins and wins big, when it takes on a conservative mantle and keeps its backbone rather than practicing its pandering technique – think Mike Harris versus Ernie Eves. And yes, I did vote for Ernie Eves and not because I approved of his job performance per say but I had hoped there were enough Harrisites left to keep him in line and the alternative would be untenable - so now I live in untenable times and the best I can hope for is another red tory to defeat the McGirliemen Fiberals next time round; and that the red tories will somehow manage to keep their hands off what’s left of my liberty or paycheque.

The Conservative Party of Canada probably has my 'hold my nose and vote’ vote. I don’t hold the CPC in the same level of contempt that I hold for liberals or NDP, but alas, I can recognize a door when I am shown one. Here’s a thought, if voters like myself are feeling alienated from the current platform does the CPC really believe if it morphs full blown into Liberal Lite its pick-up vote will include enough former Liberal voters to carry the election without us?

Honour Reclaimed

Of all the stories, disasters natural or otherwise, of all benchmarks reached or failed in 2004 there was one story that reverberated for me beyond others. I witnessed something begin that I had thought not to witness until the generation immediately preceding me had passed or faded away. That story started with John O’Neil and his band of Swiftboat Veterans. Front Page Magazine has named John O’Neil their Man of the Year and claims the mission was accomplished but something more has rippled from that long ago battle that has yet to reach the shore.

While the story began with John O’Neil and the Swiftboats; it quickly swelled until it was more than a small group of Veterans of the Vietnam conflict speaking out against the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States. It inspired Vietnam Veterans and their families collectively to make a public stand to reclaim their honour and their valour. They were no longer content to allow their service in Vietnam to be framed as a shabby shameful episode in their lives. They refused to live publicly with the label of "war criminal" collared around their neck for doing their duty or be content to have their service charactized as being reminiscent of the army of Genghis Khan.

No doubt, there are those would argue that individually veterans and their families had made their stand before; but in truth, the difference lies that this time their voice rose so loud and clear that it soared far above the cries made by the madding rabble of detractors who’d embraced the memories of the veterans of the Summer of Love or Hollywood’s pseudo-historians. And so the torch that was lit by B.G. Burkett and grasped by Vietnam Veterans has been passed; and the siren’s call has come to a new generation to re-examine Vietnam without the lens of Hollywood or by those who so heartily embraced the politics of the Summer of Love and deemeded that noble.

2004 represented to me the year when the words of former US President, Ronald Reagan would more manifestly resonate now then when first spoken on May 28, 1984 to commemorate the tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict.:
He saw the horrors of war but bravely faced them, certain his own cause and his country's cause was a noble one; that he was fighting for human dignity, for free men everywhere. Today we pause to embrace him and all who served us so well in a war whose end offered no parades, no flags, and so little thanks. We can be worthy of the values and ideals for which our sons sacrificed--worthy of their courage in the face of a fear that few of us will ever experience--by honoring their commitment and devotion to duty and country.