Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sorry, no story here.

The Jerusalem Post is carrying a German newspaper report that the US is preparing a battle plan for an offensive against Iran.
The United States government reportedly began coordinating with NATO its plans for a possible military attack against Iran. The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel collected various reports from the German media indicating that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are examining the prospects of such a strike.

According to the report, CIA chief Porter Gus, in his last visit to Turkey on December 12, requested Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide military bases to the United States in 2006 from where they would be able to launch an assault.

The German news agency DDP also noted that countries neighboring Iran, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, and Pakistan were also updated regarding to supposed plan. American sources sent to those countries apparently mentioned an aerial attack as a possibility, but did not provide a time frame for the operation.

If the US did not have a contingency plan for an Iranian offensive I would be not be surprised; but shocked practically speechless of what could only be characterized as the total incompetence of the Joint Chief of Staffs office.

Friday, December 30, 2005

EU monitors fled border crossing to safety in Israel

When Israel negotiated control of the Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Egypt with the Palestinian Authority it was contingent upon the European Union monitoring the border traffic from the Palestinian Authority’s side. It would be an understatement to say that the Israelis have a distinct lack of trust in the Palestinian Authority’s ability to be able to police their side of the crossing effectively. To allay the Israeli concerns and fears the European Union stepped into the role of monitoring the Palestinian Authority at the Rafah border.

It hasn’t worked out that well for the European Union contingent according to this Jerusalem Post article:
Palestinian policemen angry over the killing of a fellow police officer stormed the Gaza-Egypt crossing Friday, firing in the air and forcing European monitors to close the border and flee, Palestinian and European officials said. About 100 policemen entered the Rafah compound and took up positions alongside border patrol officers at the customs section of the crossing, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said.

The European observers - responsible for monitoring the crossing and ensuring the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are upheld - fled to an IDF base near the Gaza-Israel border, fearing the situation was spinning out of control, the officials said.

The takeover is the latest in a rash of armed kidnappings and takeovers of government buildings that underscore the lawlessness in Gaza and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' inability to bring order to the coastal area following this summer's pullout.

A British woman and her parents were kidnapped Wednesday by gunmen near the Rafah crossing. The family's fate remains unknown. Palestinian security are searching for the family, while British diplomats keep close tabs on the situation.

The border was closed because according to the Israeli-Palestinian agreement the crossing cannot operate if the European contingent is not present, said Julio De La Guardia, spokesman for the European monitors. "Our monitors are now in the Kerem Shalom military base. When the situation is clear, and these people leave, we will go back to our work," De La Guardia said. Kerem Shalom is an Israeli military base on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza.

The policemen who took over the crossing are angry over the killing of an officer Thursday in a family feud in Gaza. They are friends and family of the policeman who was killed, and are refusing to allow members of the two families and VIPs to leave Gaza.

Debkafile report offers a much darker and more sinister view of the incident.
DEBKAfile reported Sunday, Dec. 25, on the threat by Jemal Abu Sema Dana, head of the Palestinian Resistance Committees chief and Fatah al-Aqsa Brigades, to seize the Rafah terminal and “cleanse” it of foreign monitors. This latest incident signals the final breakdown of agreed measures for securing the Palestinian-Egyptian border built into the international understandings that permitted Israeli troops to withdraw from Gaza. None of these measures are now working, regardless of Israeli government claims to the contrary, especially by defense minister Shaul Mofaz and security coordinator Amos Gilead. Palestinians sources are covering up the seizure by terrorists of the only Palestinian exit point by depicting it as a police blockade in protest against the killing of a fellow officer Thursday.

I suppose that at heart I am a cynic but this time I bet Debkafile account has story bang-on.

Christmas in Bethlehem may only be for the dhimmis if Hamas has its way

In the last week leading up to Christmas I was bombarded with television news coverage from Canadian networks on Israeli security measures/check point into Bethlehem and the potential threat they created to the prosperity of the Arab residents of Bethlehem. I’ll be frank; I just couldn’t see the point of these news stories. The checkpoints were not a new thing under the sun and were originally instigated by Israel as a response to protect tourists and Israelis from attacks by Palestinian terrorists.

If tourism was down significantly in the proceeding years it was a direct consequence of the Palestinian Intifada. Speaking as a tourist, it would not be a deterrent of having to go through an Israeli checkpoint to enter Bethlehem that discourages me from touring the area but I found the Palestinian Intifada really off-putting. Call me mean spirited or even unchristian, but I possess a distinct lack of desire to be made an instrument of aid for anyone attempting to enter their idea of heaven through a martyrdom operation nor has being blown to smithereens made the 1000 Things I Must Do Before I Die list.

The tourists came back to Bethlehem this year but I cannot help but to wonder for how long - if Hamas gets it way. Thanks to the History News Network for bringing this Bethlehem story from Chiesa to light.
It is a fear that took shape after the electoral victory of Hamas, not only in Bethlehem’s municipal elections, but also in those of other cities of Cisjordan: Nablus, Jenin, Qalqilya. A new style can already be seen in the municipalities where Hamas is installed: Christian women employed there, who are accustomed to shaking everybody’s hand, are held at a distance by the newly elected, for whom physical contact violates Islamic principles.

The general plan of Hamas also includes the imposition of a special tax, called al-jeziya, upon all of the non-Muslim residents in the Palestinian territories. This tax revives the one applied through all of Islamic history to the dhimmi, the second-class Jewish and Christian citizens.

In an interview with Karby Legget, published in the December 23-26 edition of “The Wall Street Journal,” Masalmeh, the leader of the Hamas contingent at the municipal council of Bethlehem, confirmed: “We in Hamas intend to implement this tax someday. We say it openly – we welcome everyone to Palestine but only if they agree to live under our rules.”

Batarseh, the mayor, doesn’t agree. He doesn’t want the tax, and says it will never be introduced.
While the current mayor of Bethlehem is a Christian, Christians in Bethlehem are now a distinct minority – another direct consequence of the Palestinian Intifada. How much longer under a Hamas controlled Bethlehem will Christians be able to hold out or make a stand against dhimmitude?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

With Peace Partners like this who needs enemies?

The Jerusalem Newswire Service has posted an online piece quoting Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas claiming that kassam rocket attacks on Israel are strictly an Israeli problem.
Palestinian Authority “president” Mahmoud Abbas has called ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip against nearby Jewish communities “Israel's problem,” and said he has no intention of interfering, according to a report in Ha'aretz.

“Let the Israelis deal with it,” Yasser Arafat's long-time right-hand man was quoted as saying. However, the PA is quick to cry foul and seek international condemnation of the Jewish state whenever Israel does attempt to deal with it.

At the same time, the PA's failure to meet its own peace obligations in terms of combating terror, and Abbas' repeated acknowledgment that that violation is intentional, is eliciting little more than words from the nations involved in the process to bring “peace” to the Middle East.

And so, Israel has officially launched Operation Blue Skies reports YnetOnline:
Operation 'Blue Skies' underway: IDF forces launch large-scale operation, firing artillery rounds against targets in the northern Gaza Strip and at areas close proximity to newly established ‘security strip’; Qassam lands near Sderot just one our before operation begins; no injuries reported

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, as planned, IDF forces launched a large-scale operation, firing artillery rounds against targets in the northern Gaza Strip and at the areas in close proximity to the newly established ‘security strip,’ which is aimed at distancing Qassam launchers from the border with Israel.

The Israel Air Force is also due to join the operation to clear north Gaza of those not engaged in terror activity. An hour before the operation commenced a Qassam rocket landed just south of Sderot in an open field. No injuries or damage were reported. The city’s “Red Dawn” alert system warned residents of the incoming rocket.

Earlier the army distributed leaflets to northern Gaza residents featuring a map indicating the limits of the buffer zone, which includes areas evacuated by Israel in the summer – the former settlements of Elei Sinai, Nissanit, and Dugit. Whoever ignores this warning is putting his life in genuine danger," the leaflet said. "Know that terror elements have turned you into hostages and a human shield and are undermining your interests."

Operation "Blue Skies" marks an IDF attempt to move into high gear when it comes to Qassam rocket attacks but to do so by offering a measured response and avoiding an escalation in the area. Army officials admitted the operation may reduce the number of rocket attacks on Israel but would not curb them completely. “The first phase is intended to create an area empty of citizens and all those who are not engaged in terror activity,” and IDF official told Ynet. “In this way, anyone who remains in the area is considered a terror suspect and therefore may be harmed.”
So much for the “disengagement from Gaza”.

Lebanese déjà vu

Israeli Air Force struck a terrorist training of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine camp in southern Lebanon. If you want the nitty gritty read the YnetOnline report.

The Globe and Mail’s Associated Press account of the air strike in Lebanon attempts to suspend cognitive judgment:
Beirut — Israeli jets attacked a Palestinian militant group's training base in southern Lebanon early Wednesday, the Israeli military and Lebanese witnesses said, hours after an Israeli border town was hit by rocket fire.

The base, located south of Beirut, is operated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a small, Syrian-backed group that has been waging a decades long fight against the Jewish state. "This is in response to the firing of projectile rockets last night toward Israeli communities," the military said. It said it views such attacks with "extreme severity" and holds Lebanon responsible.

Witnesses reported warplanes roared over the PFLP-GC guerrilla base at Naameh, a hilltop base overlooking the Mediterranean seven kilometres south of Beirut, and the sound of two booms were heard. Other witnesses said two air-to-surface missiles were fired and white smoke billowed from the ground. Police had no immediate confirmation of an air strike, but Lebanese troops at a checkpoint near Naameh confirmed an air raid and sealed off the area, preventing journalists from approaching.

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties from the raid on the target, a maze of concrete fortified tunnels built inside a hill that the PFLP-GC had used as a base for decades. The air strike was launched after three rockets landed in a residential area of Kiryat Shemona. The Israeli army said the rockets damaged some property but caused no injuries. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Both Hezbollah guerrillas and Palestinian militants operate in nearby southern Lebanon.

This account reflects what I have been reading a long time in Western media accounts of Israeli military actions. What I label as the cart before the horse journalism. This Globe and Mail/AP report does; is lead with Israeli military action and downplays the rationale for any Israeli military action. This report fails to emphasize that the air strike was the direct result of a rocket barrage that was launched from Lebanon against two Israeli civilian border communities. The barrage was strong enough that Israeli citizens were evacuated into bomb shelters for well over two hours but you wouldn't know it from the G&M/AP account.

The characterization of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as a just a run of the mill militant group is outrageous. For a brief overview of the PFPL history check out the Wikipedia entry on the group. During the late 60’s and 70’s the PFPL emerged as the premier organization of all Palestinian airline hijacking terror groups. The PFPL broke out of PLO umbrella in 1993 with the signing of the Oslo accords as they would not accept any manifest destiny that did not showcase wiping Israel off the map.

It is incredibly lame to continue to portray Hezbollah as guerrilla fighters, and frankly, it is beyond belief or parody. Who exactly is Hezbollah still fighting, and more importantly; why? Israel left Lebanon in May 2000 for better or worse though Hezbollah seems to be stuck in a time loop that disregards the reality on the ground for the last 5 years and seeks to bring back the old gory days.

Just last month Hezbollah tried to infiltrate Israeli territory with the expressed purpose of kidnapping Israeli soldiers. In spite of a UN resolution condemning Hezbollah’s unprovoked incuration into Israel and its lack of remorse; ask yourself why is the PFPL launching an attack on Israel, and for what purpose – whose aims are the PFPL furthering? Southern Lebanon is controlled completely by Hezbollah. No one operates in without approval and the prior authorization from Hezbollah.

Once again, Lebanon is struggling for independence from foreign occupation but without disarming these rogues’ terror groups operating independently inside its borders means that Lebanon is once again endangering its newly won autonomy. As Santayana so succinctly put it - those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Toronto's beginning to look at lot like Ramallah

I didn’t get the Xbox 360 that I wanted but I hadn’t expected to receive it for Christmas. It was way out of the family and friends budget this year. Instead, I got an Irish Claddagh Worry ring and a collection of loose tea and a new teapot. I adore fresh loose steeped tea but cannot abide tea bag tea as it sours in my mouth. Nothing will soothe the soul like a really good cuppa but the wrong cuppa will always fail to soothe, and yes, it needs to be in a china cup as well. Stoneware, cheap glass or paper cup will just ruin the taste. If those are my options, I will opt for coffee every time. I had no idea how soon I would need both the tea and the worry ring.

I was talking to an old family friend on the phone yesterday afternoon when the Last Amazon and her brother (of the Happy Hand fame) gave me a kiss as they went out the door in pursuit of Boxing Day sales on Yonge Street. Their plan was to walk along Dundas Street East to Yonge Street and then go north up to Bloor Street and back again.

Periodically, they would phone home to apprise me of their progress or ask for advice on a potential purchase and at no time did they hint at how close they had come to becoming the latest causalities to fall victim to random violence on Toronto streets. I read Tom Wolfe’s “I am Charlotte Simmons” this past summer and the burning thought in my mind once I finished the book was to contemplate the feasibility of home schooling for the Last Amazon for university.

Call me whatever but I don’t give two shits on the root causes of crime. I could not care less on how troubled the backgrounds of the perpetrators are who turned Yonge Street into the OK Corral. I don’t care how young the perpetrators of this crime are but I do want them jailed, post haste, for a very, very, very long time. Five to ten years of their life isn’t going to do it for me nor do I care if they are only 12 and at the beginning of their criminal malice. I say, now is the time to cut them off at the root.

I have absolutely no patience left to listen to another sob story while a mother’s son or daughter dies. The theme of their lives is old now, and frankly, it’s the same old shit it’s always been with the only difference being a name change. At my root, I have my own sob story and it is enough to last me a life time. But at no time have I ever been compelled to wallow in my misery or use it as an excuse to pick up a gun and fire randomly or carelessly into a crowded public street without thought or care to those whose only crime is that they share the same street with me.

I have complete faith in the Toronto Police Force. They will work long and diligently until every single one of the perpetrators are brought before the court in this shooting and every other shooting in Toronto, but so what? As long as criminal court Justices continue to meet out sentences like the one handed to Tate Best for opening fire on an elementary school yard and injuring an innocent pregnant woman (six years and out in less than 4 years) our justice system will remain nothing more than a revolving door that never hits anyone on the way out. Meanwhile my children, my family, my friends and everyone else who lives or visits Toronto will be nothing more than a victim waiting to happen. It is long past the time to stop the excuses and accept that one cannot legislate salvation for all.

The Lost Budgie weighs in with his two chirps in Toronto Boxing Day Shootings - Wimp Politicians & Police Leadership Eunuchs

Monday, December 26, 2005

Crocs never get enough to satisfy their need to feed

Contrary to popular mythology the disengagement has not brought peace to Israel, and instead, the Israelis remain under a constant kassam missile barrages from the former Gaza Strip. While most of us in the west were sitting down for turkey on December 25th, The Jerusalem Post made note of the latest location to fall victim to a Kassam attack:
One rocket landed near a kindergarten in a kibbutz near Gaza during a Hanukka party that was attended by 50 children. A second Kassam was fired at Sderot and landed in an open field.

Debkafile is reporting that Shaul Mofaz, Minister of Israeli Defense, has received the go-ahead to create a no-go buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip in response to the latest Kassam attacks by Palestinian terrorists.

Mofaz reported to Israeli cabinet Sunday, Dec. 25, on orders given to Israel’s armed forces to intensify aerial and artillery operations for this no-go zone and to step up targeted assassinations. Palestinian areas will stay under closure until end of Hanukah, Jan. 3, he said, in view of terrorist threats to strike inside Israel – especially from the Jihad Islami DEBKAfile`s military sources note that the Palestinian terrorists are rapidly turning the area on the Israeli side of the Gaza border into a no-go zone. The defense minister Shaul Mofaz demanded Sunday, Dec. 25, that the government urgently release INS125m ($50m) to fortify the dozens of small villages and kibbutzim within range of Palestinian missiles and mortar fire. Civilian traffic on the roads in the region has become extremely hazardous. Protective walls are going up in the military base at Zikkim where five Israeli servicemen suffered minor injuries last week from a Qassam hit.

This situation developed following Israel’s pullback from the Gaza Strip since when Palestinian terrorist groups are pressing their advantage. While most Qassam missile barrages are reported, scant information reaches the public on hits in more remote places like Kissufim and Kerem Shalom, or the round-the-clock shelling by 60mm mortars and RPGs that keep IDF patrols and roads outside the border under constant fire. There has also been an increase in bomb traps planted and explosive devices hurled along these patrol routes.

As a response to the coming Israeli no-go zone in the Gaza strip, the animals had this to announce (taken from the Jerusalem Post report):
Three armed Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Monday threatened to continue their attacks on Israel and said they have long-range missiles capable of reaching more Israeli towns and cities.

One of the groups belongs to Fatah, the ruling party headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The two others are the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups, and al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. PA officials in Ramallah expressed deep concern over the threats and said Israel was responsible for the latest cycle of violence. "Israel must stop its military offensive before the situation gets out of control," a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "Israel's decision to set up a security zone [in the northern Gaza Strip] will only complicate matters."

Asked about the new long-range missiles, the official said he did not rule out the possibility that such weapons had been smuggled from Egypt in recent weeks. Representatives of the three armed groups appeared at a joint press conference in Gaza City, where they said attacks on Israel would continue following of Israel's decision to establish a security zone in the northern Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks.

"The security zone will never bring security to Israel," said one of the gunmen. "As the Zionist enemy is in a state of confusion because of our painful attacks, the war leaders of the Zionist enemy are threatening to wage a merciless war on our people and their freedom fighters." A leaflet distributed by the three groups said the current truce with Israel "went to hell" because of Israel's policy of targeted killings. "Launching rocket attacks is one of the means of resistance and soon there will be surprises," the leaflet warned.

Earlier, the armed wing of Fatah, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed that it possessed Grad missiles with a range of 25 kilometers. "If Israel sets up a security zone in the northern Gaza Strip our group will not sit idly by," warned Abu Fadi, a spokesman for the group in the Gaza Strip. "We will use these weapons and the occupation government will be the biggest loser due to its own actions."

"Members of the [Fatah] rocket unit are capable of hitting targets deep in the Zionist entity," he added. "We want to warn the barbaric [Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz that our men can hit targets in Ashkelon. But we have no plans to use these missiles unless Israel attacks the Gaza Strip or assassinates senior Palestinian commanders." The 122-mm. caliber Grad missile, officially known as BM-21, was first used by the Soviet Red Army in 1963. The first missiles were fired from trucks fitted with launchers capable of firing 40 rockets within six seconds.

Its the height of folly to presume one can ever safely appease the Crocs.

Friday, December 23, 2005

So much for good will towards Sally Ann Santas

One of my long time favourite charitable organizations has been the Salvation Army. I rarely pass the Sally Ann kettle without digging for at least some small change. Mainly, I do so because of their tireless energy and zeal to offer practical aid to literally anyone in need of assistance without asking anything of substance in return; except perhaps, the opportunity to be of service to their fellow man.

Our jail system would probably fall into complete chaos without the compassion and practical assistance rendered by Salvation Army volunteers in offering aid and hope freely to all those in the dock without the prequel of membership. And that is just one small part of the work they do. Who would have thought that a Christian organization would actually operate on Christian principles without a litmus test of membership? But the revolution in Christian charities started with the charge led by the Sally Ann.

So I read stories like this one and my back goes up. While I don’t share the passion or the zeal of the Sally Ann’s evangelical missionary spirit nor do I have an overt fondness for accordion music but I do admire them far more than for their limitless good will and devotion to acting on principles. The world is a far better place with the Salvation Army in it. If I had a the power to grant a New Year’s wish it would be this; that the mall management and security staff would one day be in need of the assistance of a Sally Ann volunteer so that they can understand first hand the error of their ways. I would bet the farm that the Sally Ann Santa they sent packing; won’t send them away empty handed.

(Tipped off by Neale News)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Never again until tomorrow

The Jerusalem Newswire Service is carrying a report on statements issued by Iranian Ayatollah, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani:
Two-times former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said earlier this month that the Muslim world would win a nuclear exchange with Israel, aggravating fears Tehran's quest for atomic weapons indeed has one purpose: the annihilation of what it calls the Zionist “cancer.”

“[The] application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel - but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world,” Hashemi-Rafsanjani was quoted as saying by the government-controlled Iran Press Service.

The spiritual leader, who wields ultimate power in Iran, made the comments during a prayer service in Tehran. It was the first time an Islamic leader of such prominence openly suggested a nuclear attack against the Jewish state, media analysts told the IPS. Iran has been pursuing atomic weapons in defiance of international demands.

Now we know the nature of the homily that an Ayatollah preaches in the mosque. But not to worry because those butt kicking European Union thinkers are busy contemplating a way to kick Mullah butt in the 2006 World Cup Soccer Tournament:
But neither Israel nor the US are keen to utilize military force in order to thwart Iran's destructive intentions, and have therefore turned to Europe, which enjoys amicable ties with Tehran, to diplomatically resolve the issue. European officials vowed to deal with Iran's worrying behavior at a European Union summit that opened in Brussels Thursday, warning that the continent's patience with Tehran is wearing thin. However, the most serious punitive diplomatic measure being discussed is Iran's exclusion from the 2006 World Cup soccer tournament scheduled to take place in Germany next summer.

While the comments are disturbing in their own right, they represent nothing new under the Iranian sun. The element that I find truly disturbing of this news piece is a report alluded to that was published by the US Army College and quoted in the article:
Meanwhile, a report published by the US Army War College this week said neither military nor diplomatic efforts were going to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Entitled “Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran”, the report pointed out that “given Iran's extensive nuclear know-how and capabilities, it is unlikely that the United States or its allies can deny Iran the technical ability to covertly make nuclear weapons.”

The authors instead suggested that Israel try to set an example by first dismantling its nuclear capabilities. They admitted, however, that Iran would likely not follow suit, leaving Israel without a deterrent in the crosshairs of a regime with both the desire and the means to annihilate the Jewish state.

I never would have expected this from any report published by the US Army College. Silly me, I thought the whole lay down and die damn Jew theme ended at the gates of Auschwitz but I guess that there is truly nothing new under the sun.

Mock Nuremberg Trial to be held in Cairo

Just when you thought the Bush=Hilter or the Sharon=Hitler was getting stale the Arab Lawyers Union in Cairo comes up with a way to breathe life into it. From YnetOnline:

The Arab Lawyers Union, a Cairo-based organization which includes twenty-four national bar associations of Arab countries, has decided to hold a moot court hearing against “war criminals who harmed Arabs and Muslims,” the Arab media reported Tuesday.

Comprising 400,000 lawyers from 21 Arab countries, the Union drafted a list of “war criminals” topped by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In the “indictment,” Prime Minister Sharon is accused of crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, while Blair and Bush are held accountable for “war crimes” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The mock trial will be held at the Union’s headquarters in Cairo in February with organizers expecting to lure personalities like Nelson Mandela, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, and former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella to act as judges.

Guess which westerners they want to sit on the jury box:
The Union’s head Abed Al-Azim Al-Mughrabi said London Mayor Ken Livingstone, British MP George Galloway and the Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrama Sabri will also be approached to act as juries.

But the big surprise is really who Arab Lawyers Union has asked to be the general prosecutor.
The general prosecutor in the symbolic trial is expected to be former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who is one of the lawyers defending Saddam Hussein. The accused will receive indictment letters through their country’s embassy in Cairo.

Who would have thought that Islamists would view the Nuremberg Trials as a source for inspiration for their own twisted dreams of gory? But then again, who would have thought that former US Attorney General would even consider participating in this nightmare of hate America?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


In a few days the Tribe and I will celebrate Christmas and the coming of another new year. I am not rich but the children and I have reached a level where most of all our material needs are adequately met on a regular basis. The children are doing well in school and after a year filled with health issues the only concern that remains outstanding is a terrible flu-like bug that has laid me low the last few days. In a year that saw the Last Amazon go under the knife and my oldest son diagnosed with a leg tumor (benign) I now think I can deal with a little bug with lots ASA, Nyquil and kleenex and still have room to be grateful for blessings - small and large. I never would have gotten to this position without the help and support of a small circle of friends and family a long the way. One person that was absolutely crucial to my family’s prosperity especially in those early hard days was Valarie, the godmother to all my children.

I met Valarie in a laundry room when I was pregnant with my second son. We had just moved from Riverdale to downtown Toronto and my days were very much filled with ordinary things like cooking and cleaning and watching the Last Amazon grow. I was still in that difficult transition stage of being a stay at home new mom with another on the way. For someone that would often would take a second job just to be busy (okay, I liked the extra money too) it was a hard transition to make and often the only person I had to talk was the Last Amazon’s father. He had his virtues but being a gripping conversationalist was not one of amongst them – the dog was often more responsive.

Valarie was the mother of two at that time and had not yet progressed to the ‘mother of many’ designation. She had been isolated for more years than I could possibly have imagined when I first met her. It was the first time that I actually enjoyed doing the laundry. I loved her sense of irony and her quick wit. She stayed on till I finished doing the laundry and I brought her home for coffee. She was busy warning me about the dangers of living in a downtown high rise. Just the other day she heard a terrible racket in the hallway and went to investigate and the strangest thing happened. She turned the corner to walk into the stairway and before she knew what was happening she was lifted several feet off the ground and pinned by her neck against the wall by a man using only one hand. She was at eye level to the largest black man she had ever seen who was demanding to know what her business was. He had another man in a head lock at the other side of him. She managed to croak out that she lived there and only came out to find out what the racket was. She thought she was a goner but he let her go and ordered her to go home immediately as he was taking care of it. She ran back into her home and was shaking so hard that she could barely get her key into the door. She just finished her story and I was in the process of commiserating sympathetically when the Last Amazon’s father came through the door. Valarie jumped to her feet and screamed that’s him and ran out the door petrified.

I was so use to the Last Amazon’s father’s size that most times I took it for granted that his size and appearance often made him immediately intimidating for those who didn’t know him. I admit that it did have its uses and I wasn’t above using it to my advantage when dealing with rude store clerks. I really miss those days when a store clerk would give me a hard time and I could just call out for his attention and the clerks would immediately sweeten up. I always thought it was really wasted on him because he would often go out of his way to assure most people he was not a threat (unless his family was threatened) and went to great lengths of courtesy to put most people at ease. Being 5’ and not particularly intimidating looking, I have always resented being forced to prove that I am not a benign soul by doing something extreme to prove my point.

Of course, I gave the Man a good what for and lectured him long about going around scaring the neighbors and I was more than a trifle annoyed that he probably ruined the only chance I had in a long time for company during the day. He tried to justify it by saying he caught the man smoking crack in the hallway and he wasn’t going to let the some crackie poison the air where his wife and daughter lived, but if I recall correctly, I think I still burned his dinner that night.

Valarie did gather her courage a few days later and came by to apologize for screaming and running out the door when the Man came home from work and so begin a 14 year friendship that has yet to end. In the course of getting to know each other I learned that Valarie was Métis and originally from Northern Ontario. She lived a very troubled early life that was marked by alcohol and extreme abuse. I was very curious about her culture as she made only the vaguest references to it and I had retained very little information from high school history courses beyond that the fact that the Métis were a mixture of Native and European ethnicity. There was some vague memory that Louis Riel was Métis and played a role that is still considered controversial in Canadian history. Such was the extent of my knowledge.

One day I asked her what being Métis meant and she floored me with her answer; it was to be marked by birth as second rate and to never quite being able to measure up. Where she grew up in the North her family was shunned by the Native community who possessed treaty status, and when her family moved to the city they were shunned by their neighbors for being too “native”. When she took the mandatory Canadian history courses in high school she learned that the man her father revered was judged a traitor to this country; she simply hung her head in shame. Up until very recently she could not tell you what it means to be Métis except to say that it was not something she would ever willing choose to be if the choice was hers alone.

But an interesting change happened about 18 months ago. I started to blog and being a good friend she started to read what I posted. Eventually that lead her to read Darcey at Dust my Broom and from Darcey’s site she found other voices; both Métis and Native. For the first time, she has been given a glimpse into her own solitude and experience. She has heard the voices that were silent to her before. There is a hidden value to internet, blogs and blogging, and it is this; it is a way to reach out to others that previously would have remained firmly locked and entrenched in their separate solitude.

All of which brings me to the bizarre defamation lawsuit brought by Manitoba Métis Federation against Cyber Smoke Signals for hosting an online petition calling for a halt in funding the MMF for amending the bylaws or funding a new election until the MMF has complied fully with a Court of Queen’s Bench order issued January 27, 2004 which calls for a fair and democratic vote.

You can view the original petition here. I am not a lawyer and therefore cannot offer any legal counsel or claim any expertise in the laws governing the defamation in Canada, but quite frankly, I have read far more inflammatory language used calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush or Greenpeace calling for ban on the seal hunt.

And if the suit against Cyber Smoke Signals was not strange enough the original petition was drafted by legal counsel who has now accepted employment with the alleged plaintiff’s. What follows is press release from the Cyber Smoke Signals dated December 16, 2005:
Chartrand Authored Petition: Niederhoffer

Friday December 16, 2005

For Immediate Release

WINNIPEG - A lawyer for one of the defendants in a defamation suit brought by the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is calling on the MMF to include
Winnipeg lawyer Lionel Chartrand as a defendant to the suit.

Terry Belhumeur and Clare Pieuk, respectively the domain-name owner and webmaster of CyberSmokeSignals (, are being sued by the MMF for having posted on the website in January 2004 a petition containing allegedly defamatory comments about President David Chartrand and the MMF Board.

Jeff Niederhoffer, the lawyer for Mr. Pieuk, says his client has e-mails which show that the petition was actually authored by Chartrand, a lawyer with Legal Aid who at the time agreed to advise both Belhumeur and Pieuk on due-diligence issues involving the website.

"Chartrand wrote the petition, and the idea for it originated with him," says Niederhoffer. "It was Mr. Chartrand who originally suggested the idea for a petition, and on January 21, 2004, he emailed a completed draft of the petition to my client and recommended he post it on CyberSmokeSignals."

A few days later, Niederhoffer claims, Pieuk posted the petition on CyberSmokeSignals exactly as written by Chartrand.

Niederhoffer says he believes that, in the interests of fairness, the MMF should add Lionel Chartrand as a defendant to the action. However, the lawyer also indicates he is prepared to act on his own if necessary.

"If the MMF doesn't take action within a reasonable time to include Chartrand as a party, we will likely bring a third-party claim of our own against Chartrand, or find some other way to bring him into this action," Niederhoffer confirms. At the very, very least, we are going to call Chartrand to testify in court as to his role in all this."

Chartrand is currently retained by the MMF as a consultant.

Any Questions, Please Contact:

Jeffrey J. Niederhoffer
Barrister and Solicitor
PO Box 48081 RPO Lakewood
Winnipeg, MB R2J 4A3
Telephone: (204) 471-8682

The heart of this suit is not strictly a Métis issue but an attack on the principle of free speech and free expression which should be of paramount concern to all Canadians. It appears to be orchestrated by those who would consign any viewpoint that does not mirror their own back to the days of endless separate solitudes.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I can only hope the first cuts are the last ones

It was nice this morning not to be part of the weekday struggle for the washroom. Strangely enough, even though I was out of the game, the bottleneck and the hostility levels were actually running higher than normal. Now I am use to the Last Amazon taking longer than the rest of us. Today’s bottleneck was via the oldest son who has traditionally taken no notice of his appearance. I cannot count the times I have put a pair of his youngest brother’s jeans into his drawer by accident and he has come out wearing them a la Steve Erkel style and refused to change. This morning, I learned nothing stays the same forever.

Montana decided that he would shave the hair on his upper lip without my supervision as I suppose he felt that I, being a woman, didn’t have any expertise of value to share with him concerning shaving or it might have been that he didn’t want a repeat of the jock strap incident. Once I peeled the multiple pieces of bloody Kleenex away from his upper lip I discovered that he didn’t achieve any measurable success on his own and he’s damn lucky that he doesn’t need stitches to close the wounds.

I can appreciate that he didn’t like walking around with a mustache and he wanted his clean shaven look back. No doubt at 13 it is not easy not looking so different from one’s peers. I blame myself. I had been ignoring his mustache in the hopes that it would just magically go away on its’ own rather than asking him if he was okay with it. I suppose that way I could put off facing the fact that Babbie Boy was growing up and growing up means leaving home sooner than I would wish.

Montana will get an electric razor for Christmas so there will be no more worries of him bleeding to death on the bathroom floor, but am I correct in assuming one uses a dry face with an electric razor?

Team Martin Liberal Message Stays On Course

I have a very poor opinion of the Canadian Liberal party. No surprise in that, but there is something imminently comforting in knowing that one’s judgment is spot on. Kate at Small Dead Animals has blogged the message here. You have to hand it to the Liberals; they know how to stay psychologically consistent.

Just call me a NRA, gun, beer and popcorn loving Canadian who isn’t going anywhere – anytime soon, and if that isn’t scary enough for you; I have already reproduced beyond the 1.5 average for Canadian women.

Time to pay attention to tort reform in Canada

I am not particularly a high tech kind of person even if I have been using various PCs since 1981. I can still remember obscure programs like WordStar, Visi-Cal and the need to know Basic. I didn’t get a VCR till 1994 and we made do without a DVD player till 2 years ago but I did discover gaming long before we got a DVD player. Consequently, we have Xbox, PS2 and Game Cube as well as a number of gaming platforms regulated to obscurity in the closets around the house. I bought my stereo in 1984 and it still kicks ass.

I have long been suspicious of the need for cell phones and not because of any alleged health concerns. I just don’t want to be that connected. The phone rings constantly at work but do I have to be a slave to it at home too? I think that whoever invented the answering machine should have won a Nobel prize. My attitude is that bad news can always wait and it won’t be any the less bad just because you answered the phone on the first or second ring.

I finally broke down and bought a cell phone when my own phone got disconnected due to a flood in the flat upstairs. It took me an hour to find a working pay phone so that I could call Bell Canada and report the problem but I still couldn’t report it because it was an AT&T payphone and you cannot call Bell Canada 411 service on an AT&T payphone. Who knew that AT&T had payphones in Canada? That horrendous experience convinced me that the times had changed so radically that I needed a cell phone for emergencies, if nothing else.

I bought the cheapest low tech version with the cheapest plan that locked me into a plan for 12 months. The plan was to cost me $20 a month for 150 minutes and unlimited weekend calling. Once the taxes and all the hidden fees were totaled it cost me close to $35 a month and I never came close to passing the 150 minute mark. I didn’t renew the plan and canceled my service once the 12 month period passed.

It worked out until the Last Amazon started high school. She would have to do a great deal of independent traveling and I didn’t want her to get stuck in an emergency and not have access to help immediately if she needed it. I settled on a Fido with a pay-as-you-go plan. It costs me $10 a month but it does give me peace of mind. Now the man is doing a fair bit of traveling, and so, I broke down and bought another pay-as-you-go phone last spring. Again, it’s the cheapest one available. It doesn’t do pictures, you can’t watch TV on it, but it only costs $10 a month, and if he loses it, so what? I am not going to cry me a river over it.

The Globe and Mail is carrying a cautionary tale of what happens if you lose your cell phone which only convinces me that I am right to be so suspect of the value of cell phones for people whose professions do not require them to be connected at all times.

What I find so astonishing is that the standard Roger’s Wireless service contract demands that you waive the right to sue the company or take part in a class action suit if the company violates your service agreement. I am a big believer in living up to one’s responsibilities and this kind of clause makes a complete mockery of contractual law. If wireless providers are allowed to get away with this, how long before other industries follow suit? What’s next – a pacemaker manufacturer demands you waive your right to sue if a substandard product is deliberately implanted in your heart?

So what else did I miss?

I just learned that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has suffered a minor stroke and is expected to make a full recovery. I didn’t know this. The last couple of months the only time I can read the news on weekends or post anything is when I can bully my way on the computer or the children leave the house enmass without me; As The Tribe HOGS It.

This weekend marked the start of my holidays; therefore, the body chose this time to go into full meltdown. I am still feeling queasy but I am grateful that the teeth haven’t picked this time to fall apart, though, there is plenty of time left for that so I dare not uncross my fingers. I do have more than one computer but the children’s computer is still on dial-up, and hence, no one wants to use it. One day when I get a tad more ambitious I will go out and get a wireless router but until then the only time I can get the computer is when I bully my way on.

I also missed the English language candidate’s debate but I can’t seem to find too much written about it. It appears like a big yawn - am I wrong?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hamas Kassams rival Fatah in PA Primaries

Reports the Jerusalem Post:
While the US House of Representatives was expected to approve Thursday a resolution calling to ban Hamas from taking part in the Palestinian elections, the party swept primaries in both Nablus and Jenin. According to results published early Friday, Hamas won the Palestinian Authority primaries in Nablus with 73 percent of the vote, marking victory in 11 out of 13 districts. Hamas also swept Jenin. Fatah, the ruling Palestinian party, retained only 13 percent of the vote in Nablus.

In Ramallah, preliminary results show a victory for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, while the Fatah - running on three separate lists in the city - has taken only some 40% of the vote, Israel Radio reported. On Thursday, efforts were still underway to persuade jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti to abandon his decision to run in next month's parliamentary elections at the head of a new list.

Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in Israel for his role in terror attacks, dropped an electoral bombshell late Wednesday night when he announced, through his wife, Fadwa, that he would contest the vote at the head of a new list called al-Mustaqbal (The Future). Barghouti's decision is also seen by many Palestinians as an attempt to stage a bloodless coup against the representatives of the old guard, including Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other top Fatah officials.

Fatah's problems appeared to be worsening on Thursday night, when exit polls and initial counts following municipal elections in several major West Bank cities indicated big victories for Hamas. In Nablus, Hamas was heading for as much as 80 percent of the vote. In El-Bireh, Hamas was at 53%, with Fatah on 27%, according to the Palestinian Center of Policy and Survey Research. In Jenin, Hamas was on 43%, compared to 42% for Fatah and other groups. Only in Ramallah was Fatah maintaining a narrow lead, 34% to 31%.

It should be noted that Ramallah used to be a Fatah stronghold, and who would have thought that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine would be making a come back?

On a lighter note, the Jerusalem Post is also reporting that Iran is developing longer-range missiles with the potential to reach European shores. If President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran could be induced to comment, no doubt he would assure the Europeans that the Iranian long range missle program has only peaceful civilian applications.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Forward and Backward

According to the Israel National News the prospects for Ariel Sharon’s new political party Kadima (Forward) is not so much forward as it is a 17% backward drop.

No doubt stories like this one from a senior Sharon aide suggesting that Sharon would partition Jerusalem don’t help further Kadima’s cause:

Gayer made the statements speaking with Newsweek about the extent of the withdrawals Sharon is willing to make in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The relevant passage in the Newsweek article states as follows:

"In theory, Gayer says, Sharon would accept a Palestinian state in Gaza and 90 percent of the West Bank, and a compromise on Jerusalem, in exchange for peace. But the Israeli leader does not believe Palestinians will be able to deliver peace or make other compromises—like forgoing the right of refugees to return to their old homes in Israel—in his lifetime (Sharon is 78). In the meantime, Sharon wants to "lay the contours of an agreement with the Palestinians," according to Gayer, by creating a Palestinian state in half the West Bank and implementing confidence-building measures."

Sharon appeared on state-run television almost immediately, denying the accuracy of the claims. "The remarks attributed to Kalman Gayer absolutely contradict my positions and my views," Sharon said. "If those remarks were indeed made, they were made by Kalman Gayer alone and they are complete nonsense. United Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital forever."

Sharon’s problem lies in that his denials have very little creditability. Sharon ran his last election campaign running against the Labour Party’s platform of disengagement from Gaza only to turn around and adopt it as policy six months or so after winning another term as Prime Minister of Israel.

Silence is Deafening

Here’s a question for all the Toronto Star readers. Why is it the Toronto Star is so quick to publish stories like this one:

Israeli air strikes kill 4 in Gaza Strip

or this one?

Israel confirms new settlements in West Bank

But gives the appearance of being deaf and mute on this one:

The PA's New Terror Law

I guess the Toronto Star feels that state sponsored compensation payments to the Palestinian families of suicide bombers and terrorists killed in the line of carnage is not newsworthy in 2005, however; Israelis building a homes in the disputed territories or taking out terrorists is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Liberals set to legislate leading horses to water and making them drink

The Liberal government of Ontario has now revealed its two prong stick part of its stay in high school legislation. The truant teenagers and/or their parents can now be fined up to $1000 dollars for truancy but the provincial government is also determined to go after any employer that allows a teenager to work during school hours and fine them up to a $1,000 as well. But the main prong of the provincial government legislation will be the denying of a driver’s license for any 16-18 year old who cannot provide proof of enrolment in secondary school with regular attendance as well or a diploma.

I remember when I was in grade 11 I took this course called “Man in Society”. I could not have cared less about man in society but I did figure it would be an easy course with which to fill up my timetable. Not only was it an easy course but it was taught by a flaming idiot which made it a singularly mind blowing boring experience. Reading the textbook was more entertaining than sitting in the classroom every other day for 90 minutes listening to him pontificate. So that is just what I did. I read the text book and only showed up for tests or when my classmates paid me too. I ended the course with a 95% average (I lost out on the class participation mark) but because of my stunning truancy the prick made me write the final exam. C'est la vie.

Who would have thought that in 2005 I would be denied a driver’s license because I refused to subject myself to blatherings of an idiot. Such is the world we now live in. Though I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the provincial liberals will not be denying a driver’s permit to any teenagers until the secondary school system has fully incorporated a wider selection of courses, the proposed co-op and apprenticeship programs.

In a psychological consistent country rather than a diseased dominion (to quote Mark Steyn) the Toronto Star would never had published this lead into this story as justification for the latest liberal attempt to remake the province’s youth:
Ontario has some American-style tough love in mind to discourage students from quitting high school. Teens who drop out before turning 18 or graduating won't be able to get or keep a driver's licence under what critics are calling "punitive" and "hare-brained" legislation proposed yesterday by Education Minister Gerard Kennedy. The idea, borrowed from several U.S. states, is the final piece of the government's plan to keep more teens in school. It would raise the age for mandatory school attendance to 18 from 16.

All I have to say is that it’s a fine time to follow America’s lead, and why couldn’t we start with something practical – like the second amendment (the right to bear arms) or something basic like property rights instead?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

German Capitalism in Action

Who says that Germans can’t understand basic principles of the free market? Taken from Ananova:
Business is booming at a German brothel next to a dole office which is offering a special discount rate for the unemployed. The owners of Berlin's Schulz & Co brothel have introduced special rates of just £10 pounds for the country's growing number of jobless men.

Jobless Bernd Gramm, 48, said: "Before I could only have my fun once every couple of months, if that. But now I can go twice a month for a rock-bottom price, and the quality of the service still remains the same."

Gina, one of the brothel's employees, said: Monday was always a slow day and we never used to have more than three clients. But this Monday we have already had twenty. She added: "The dole office is right next door and people are literally bursting in. We give them the same service, just without the long talks that we usually do to get a client going. At that price we can't afford to waste that much time."

I bet Milton Friedman would be proud.

Whatever happened to Kissing Santa?

I have always loved Christmas. Family, food, presents, drinks, more food - what’s not to love? And I have very little patience with those who whine about the commercialization of Christmas. Christmas is only as commercial as you allow yours to be, but maybe I need to rethink the idea:
A department store Santa on his way home for the night was beaten up by stressed-out Christmas shoppers in Germany. Stefan Stettler, 31, from Wiesbaden, was still in character and chatting to other passengers while waiting for his train home.

Police say two men, allegedly stressed after a full day's Christmas shopping, lost their patience when asked to "tell Santa what they want for Christmas". The men took Stettler's sack of presents and beat him over the head with it, breaking his fingers as he tried to protect himself. Stettler said: "Around this time of year shoppers seem to get this glint in their eyes and you can just see they are going to go off any minute.

Talk about a couple of bad elves.

Trouble in Paradise

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that PA Chairman Abbas will now be appointing Fatah candidates to run in the January election rather than accepting the results of the primary run-off:
Tensions were mounting in the ruling Fatah party on Monday following reports that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had decided to name his own candidates to run in next month's parliamentary elections. Fatah gunmen, who took to the streets in several areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, vowed to prevent the PA from holding the parliamentary elections. The gunmen raided a number of PA election offices to protest Abbas's decision to ignore the results of primary elections held for the party over the past two weeks. The elections saw representatives of the young guard in Fatah defeat most of the veteran leaders of the party.

Abbas's decision to hand pick all the candidates is seen as an attempt to sideline young activists who have long been demanding a greater say in decision making. He is expected to announce the party's list in the coming days and according to several sources it consists mostly of old guard representatives. The deadline for registering candidates for the parliamentary vote expires December 14.

According to some sources, the 66-member Fatah list will be headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who did not run in the party's recent primaries. Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who scored a landslide victory in the vote as a representative of the Ramallah area, will be appointed No. 2, the sources said.

Fatah is divided and there is a power struggle going between the old guard and the new. I have no idea which side will ultimately prevail but until one side does; we will see more of this:
On Monday morning Fatah gunmen raided the PA's election offices in the towns of Kahn Yunis and Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip and forced them to close down. Another Fatah group blocked a main highway in the Gaza Strip with burning tires. Similar raids were also reported in a number of areas in the West Bank.

"We are fully confident that there is a conspiracy to divide Fatah and this is a pre-planned systematic conspiracy," said a leaflet issued by the Fatah rebels. "We are completely against appointing any nominees to the Fatah list to run for the coming elections and we are going to boycott this election. There will be no [parliamentary] elections until all the problems are solved."
In yet another sign of growing tensions, some Fatah candidates have decided either to quit the race or run as independents. According to some Fatah activists, Mohammed Dahlan is one of those who is considering running in the elections as an independent. Dahlan originally was to head the Fatah list in his hometown of Khan Yunis. Hakam Balawi, a senior Fatah official from Tulkarm, announced that he will not run in the elections in protest against the decision to appoint the party's candidates rather than endorse those who won the primary vote.

Abu Firas, the local commander of Fatah's armed wing, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, announced that his group will not allow the parliamentary elections to take place in the Tulakrm area saying that the decision was taken in the wake of the Fatah leadership's attempt to exclude grassroots leaders and activists living in the refugee camps.

Remember these are Israel's official peace partners.

Monday, December 12, 2005

There are far worse things in the world than the Christian idea of redemption

Its been a long time since I have read such a venomous screed at traditional Christian philosophy that my back was up and I made the decision to send the Tribe to see the Chronicles of Narnia. Who knows, maybe I’ll talk the Last Amazon herself into posting a review - offers of money are usually an effective inducement.

They were literally rendered speechless when I came home from work and advised them they now how to go see a movie – right then. I make no bones about the fact that I am a collapsed catholic and though I may have my qualms over the church’s teaching, I have an enormous respect from those who are religious among us. I think of the religious as a light onto us all. In this day and age it is by easier to be secular than to keep faith.

I have mixed feelings with the Chronicles of Narnia. I never read the books as either a child or an adult. I tried reading the first book to my two oldest children and the story was a complete washout for them. After a week of bedtime reading Montana declared that the story was so utterly boring that he would prefer that I never read him another bedtime story again rather than continue on with the book. The Last Amazon concurred and the Dreadie was so young at that time that he literally had no opinion on the matter.

But a strange thing happened in school a few weeks ago. The Dreadie picked up the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in class during silent reading and loved the story so well that he asked for the complete Chronicles for Christmas. Now the Dreadie has an aversion to reading anything and the sad part is that he is an exceptionally good reader, but completely indifferent to the written word. I suspect the reason lies because reading is an act that is solitary in nature and the Dread literally loathes anything that is not social. It’s a wonder that at 11 years of age I can now finally send him off to bed by himself and just this time last year I had visions of him graduating from High School still needing the monster bed check before being tucked in at night.

The Last Amazon likes to think that she is a complete sophisticate and Disney stories are somewhat beneath her now but she gave in with good grace because she does have a great passion for movies, and besides, I told her I wouldn’t let her see Memoirs of a Geisha unless she went with the boys. Montana is up for anything and Isaiah was literally jumping around with excitement.

I didn’t tell the children that the story was based on Christian allegory but they came through the door arguing about which of the sisters represented Mary, the Mother. They got it, and not only did they get it, but they got it in a big way and they loved it. Everyone one wants to see it again. I expect that I will have to add this movie to the DVD collection when it is released. And the Dread, he will get the entire Chronicles of Narnia under the tree from Rudolph who always gives the special presents in my house.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Israelis ready to strike

The Times Online is reporting that Israel is ready to strike at Iran’s nuclear capacity at the end of March 2006.
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations. Iran’s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern.

The crisis is set to come to a head in early March, when Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, will present his next report on Iran. El-Baradei, who received the Nobel peace prize yesterday, warned that the world was “losing patience” with Iran. A senior White House source said the threat of a nuclear Iran was moving to the top of the international agenda and the issue now was: “What next?” That question would have to be answered in the next few months, he said.

Defence sources in Israel believe the end of March to be the “point of no return” after which Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead in two to four years.

But way back in July 23, 2004 I linked to a piece from the Jerusalem Post:
"Israel has completed military rehearsals for a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear power facility at Bushehr, Israeli officials told the London-based Sunday Times. Such a strike is likely if Russia supplies Iran with fuel rods for enriching uranium. The rods, currently stored at a Russian port, are expected to be delivered late next year after a dispute over financial terms is resolved.

An Israeli defense source in Tel Aviv, who confirmed that the military rehearsals had taken place, told the paper: "Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors - especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help - to go critical."

The source was also quoted as saying that any strike on the Gulf coast facility at Bushehr would probably be carried out by long-range F-15I jets, overflying Turkey, with simultaneous operations by commandos on the ground. "If the worst comes to the worst and international efforts fail," the source was quoted as saying, "we are very confident we'll be able to demolish the ayatollahs' nuclear aspirations in one go."

The source noted that the strike could be accompanied by an attack on other targets, including a facility at Natanz, where the Iranians have attempted to enrich uranium, and a plant at Arak, which produces heavy water.

In addition, the paper quoted a senior United States official warning of a pre-emptive Israeli strike if Russia continues cooperating with the Iranians. The Israeli source said Washington was unlikely to block Israeli military action."

Late March is the only time that Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike at Iranian facilities because Israel is in the middle of the electorial process and without a clear mandate to govern no caretaker government would willingly elect to launch a pre-emptive strike.

What would be interesting to know is if in December 2005 the Israeli’s still have commandos on the ground, and whose ground exactly are they located on? It puts a new spin on those rumours of Israeli commandos operating in western Iraq.

More than a year ago I speculated that the Americans would use a proxy to ignite the initial confrontation with Iran. Israel would be the obvious choice. Not only has Israel the military capacity to act effectively but it possesses the existential motivation to do so. If Israel has negotiated a deal with the Americans it would go a long way to explain Sharon’s political hard turn 18 months ago.

(tipped off by Neale News)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Good intentions always makes for bad law

Dalton McGuinty, the current premier of Ontario, has announced what the Toronto Star called the carrot part of his "stay in school" legislation which is expected to be officially unveiled next week.
In a bid to cut dropout rates in half within five years, high school students will soon get more hands-on learning through new co-op programs and diplomas that let them specialize, Premier Dalton McGuinty says. The changes are part of a carrot-and-stick plan. The stick comes next Tuesday with long-promised legislation requiring students to stay in school until age 18, up from 16 now.

It’s a given that my taxes are going to soar beyond the known horizon with the carrot part of this initiative for the 45,000 students who actively choose to tune and drop out annually but I admit it's the stick part of the legislation that concerns me more as a citizen and a mother of many.

Our children don’t learn in a one-size-fits-all way nor does education end past the fence of the schoolyard. Sometimes young people need a break from school and a year or two of asking, “Do you want fries with that?” for a living. Life experience is probably the most effective motivational strategy of all time for putting your head to the grindstone and nose back into the books.

I am also concerned that with the past liberal record for shortsightedness that they will neglect to introduce exceptions into their legislation to allow students who finish the secondary school curriculum well before their 18th birthday. With the Liberals running the show I can hear the "oops" already. Imagine graduating with honours and still be required to attend high school for an additional 20 months till you reach your majority. There are students like that. I live with one.

I use to tell my children that the first two years at High School could be rough but wait it out and all those who don’t want to be there will be gone. Teenagers who do not want to be in school create a terribly poisoned environment for learning for those who do but why should Liberals care about them? They don’t meet the litmus test for victimhood - at least not yet.

In my day, the the thug element usually managed to leave at the earliest possible moment which gave all of us greater breathing room. Here’s to walking on eggshells for another 2 years and dodging bullets. When you can’t count on the thug element dropping out just how do you plan to protect the rest? I can’t wait to hear how McGirlieman intends to do that – perhaps there will be a Liberal ban on all things criminal and thuggery? That ought to kick ass.

From where I am sitting on the east side of downtown Toronto; Alberta has never looked so good.

PA Chairman Abbas plays Scrooge in Bethehem

The Jerusalem Post is reporting this:

Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh on Thursday accused the Palestinian Authority of failing to provide financial assistance to his city as it prepares to celebrate Christmas. In an urgent letter to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Batraseh called for solving Bethlehem's financial crisis as soon as possible. He pointed out that the new municipality has not received any funds from the PA since the last elections in May.

"There are many promises, but we haven't seen anything on the ground," Batarseh wrote. "Recently the Palestinian cabinet decided to allocate $50 million for decorating Bethlehem for Christmas, but until now we haven't received the money."

I did think $50 million was a might excessive for Christmas decorations in a town as small as modern Bethlehem, and I admit I was tempted to kick-in a couple boxes of bulbs and lights from Canadian Tire to help offset the costs – it is Bethlehem after all, but then I read this:
According to Batarseh, the municipality has been forced to take loans from different banks to complete the decorations, including setting up a Christmas tree in Manger Square. "Over the past two months we were also forced to take loans from banks to pay salaries for the municipality workers," the mayor told the Bethlehem-based Palestine News Network Agency. He also complained about Israeli security measures around the city, which, he added, are threatening to spoil the atmosphere in Bethlehem on the eve of Christmas.

I can't afford to support anyone elses municipal workers but what ruins the whole Christmas in Bethlehem atmosphere for me would be to be shot, kassamed, stabbed or blown-up in a bus. My advice to the Mayor; forget the PA, throw out the terrorists and then the Israelis will close the checkpoints. That way the tourists will know it is safe to come back and spend money. You will then have the money to pay the municipal workers. You’ll have created what I call a real win-win scenario.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Would you want to fly with Svend?

Last night this story was all over the cable news channels and I have heard far more than I care too but a quick reading of this version at the Globe and Mail online and I had one of those "ah- huh" moments when I realized that this is the same mental disorder that Svend Robinson is claiming that made him act irrationally and become a thief late in life.

Maybe Svend would be wise to re-think the whole MP job thing considering the amount of time an MP does spend flying. And if he is elected, who’s going to make sure he stays on his meds? Ottawa jewelers want to know.

Khadr I say it?

The Toronto Star is reporting on the latest scandal/Khadr son to return home to Toronto from greener pastures. I just don’t care how he was treated or mistreated by his Pakistani jailers nor do I care if any Canadian government officials even knew about any alleged mistreatment. The old outrage meter on my ticker just doesn’t move on that one, but what does make it move, and leaves a distinctly queasy feeling in my gut - is knowing that my Tribe are all now of an age where they frequently go places on public transit by themselves.

Mark me down as a terrible person but I just don’t feel safe with any member of that family sharing a subway car, a bus, or even the sidewalk with my family.

I feel safer already knowing that only the thugs will have hand guns in a Liberal future.

Prime Minister Paul Martin is getting ready to get tough on crime and is expected to announce a ban on hand gun ownership in Canada. Obviously, Martin is a student of history and has taken this lesson to heart:
"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty." --Adolf Hitler (H.R. Trevor-Roper, Hitler’s Table Talks 1941-1944)

Though I cannot help but wish that our current Prime Minister had studied more Thomas Jefferson and chose him for inspiration instead:
"No man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." --Thomas Jefferson.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tinfoil Hat Wednesday

If Tuesday was all request night, then Wednesday’s should be known as tinfoil hat day at the Last Amazon. I have now my tinfoil hat firmly attached to my head and I find that my radar has zeroed in on the most recent suicide bombing at a shopping mall in Netanya, Israel.

I am disturbed by conflicting reports of responsibility and a nagging sense of something much more sinister than is currently being reported for the Netanya shopping mall bombing. Initially, Palestinian State Radio in Gaza originally announced that Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade was responsible for Netanya mall bombing only to recant hours later and abdicate responsibility to Islamic Jihad via an announcement on Hezbollah television in Lebanon. Islamic Jihad’s current leader is reported to be Ramadan Shallah whose last known address was Damascus, Syria.

While Islamic Jihad has reported ties of friendship with Hezbollah, Hezbollah’s best friend among the Palestinian terror groups is Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade. While it is not unusual for groups to falsely claim responsibility for carnage my antenna was further aggravated by this convoluted report that I found this morning at the Jerusalem Post:
Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide attack in Netanya, on Tuesday lashed out at the Palestinian Authority for condemning the bombing and arresting a number of its operatives in the West Bank. PA security forces were only partially successful in attempting to clamp down on Jihad activists for violating the unofficial truce with Israel, meeting fierce resistance in Jenin. Islamic Jihad denied that it has offices in Syria, saying its activities were solely restricted to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A senior Jihad official in Gaza City expressed "astonishment" at statements issued by PA officials in which they condemned the Netanya attack. Referring to Israeli and US charges that the Islamic Jihad leadership was operating from Syria, the official claimed that the organization's secretary-general, Ramadan Shalah, had left Syria several months ago, but refused to elaborate.

Another Jihad official in the West Bank accused the PA of succumbing to Israeli and American pressure. "The Palestinian Authority is serving the interests of Israel," he charged. "This is a very dangerous development and we will have to respond." Hours after the attack, PA security forces tried unsuccessfully to detain a Jihad terrorist in Jenin. The man, who was not identified, was shot in the shoulder during the attempt to detain him. Eyewitnesses said scores of Fatah and Islamic Jihad gunmen, backed by many civilians, foiled the attempt to apprehend the terrorist and take him to a prison in Jericho.

Local members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, voiced support for the suicide attack, pledging to use force to thwart any attempt by the PA to detain Islamic Jihad officials. The group's commander, Zakariya Zubeidi, was among those who welcomed the attack, saying it was "a natural response to Israeli violations of the truce." Another attempt to detain Jihad activists in the Balata and Askar refugee camps near Nablus also failed after dozens of gunmen drove back the PA security forces after pelting them with stones.

However, in the early hours of Tuesday the PA security forces managed to take into custody three Jihad members from Nablus. They were identified as Ayman Abed Rabbo, Daoud Makkawi and Zuhdi Tabileh. PA security officials said the three were not involved in the Netanya attack and that they had been detained as part of a crackdown on supporters of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank for violating the unofficial truce with Israel.

How one violates an unofficial truce I don’t fully comprehend, but be that as it may, Islamic Jihad never signed on to the alleged period of calm that was brokered by PA Chairman Abbas in February 2005 which makes it the perfect umbrella organization to hide behind if one wishes to carry out attacks clandestinely and duplicitously. Perhaps there is a far more nefarious reason for Islamic Jihad not signing on to the period of calm rather than the commonly supposed innate philosophical differences.

The level of support from Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade for Islamic Jihad has now reached an unprecedented level and I remain highly suspicious as to the reasons why Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade is now so willing to go to bat for this relationship.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs which keeps a listing of all major terror attacks from November 2, 2000 to February 2005. Of the roughly 79 major attacks listed, Hamas has claimed responsibility for 28 attacks including 4 joint attacks with Al Aqsa; and 1 joint attack respectively with both Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade took responsibility for approximately 20 attacks. Six of those attacks were joint ventures; 3 with Hamas and 3 with Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad officially took responsibility for 12 of those attacks. Four out of 12 attacks were joint ventures; 1 with Hamas and 3 with Al Aqsa. I was actually astonished by the number of major attacks against Israelis that no terrorist organization has officially claimed responsibility for.

Since the alleged period of calm in February 2005 there have been 4 major terror attacks all apparently initiated by operatives of Islamic Jihad which just happens to be one of the smallest terrorist organizations operating out of the disputed territories. It has the least support by the Palestinian populace and has acess to very limited funding. Furthermore, Islamic Jihad has had the singularly distinction of being the current special target of the IDF since last February. I have a high regard for Shin Bet (Internal Israeli Intelligence force) and the IDF. I cannot see how Islamic Jihad can continue to have that much operational capacity; let alone the ability to carry out 4 major attacks in the last 10 months which represents almost half the number of attacks Islamic Jihad was able to carry out from the period of November 2000-February 2005 when it was not being the special target of the Shin Bet and the IDF.

In the last 10 months the IDF has apprehended a number of suicide bombers before they were able to carry out their missions. Most of the potential suicide bombers were young people reported to have been recruited by Tanzim which is the "militant youth wing" of the political party Fatah. Tanzim is one of those special "militant" groups created during Arafat’s tenure of the Palestinian Authority along with Force 17 and Al Aqsa. One of Tanzim’s special functions is to recruit operatives for Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade. It was my understanding that Tulkram was an alleged stronghold for Al-Aqsa/Tanzim supporters. The Netanya shopping mall bomber was originally from a village outside north east of Tulkram.

Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade were vying for the most active terror groups in Israel prior to February 2005 period of calm. Islamic Jihad never signed on to the alleged period of calm but considering that both Hamas and Al Aqsa signed on and continued to be involved in low level terror attacks, and in fact, the IDF has apprehended a number of Tanzim recruited/Al Aqsa operatives who have been fully kitted out to carry out suicide bombings in Israel during this alleged period of calm. The infamous wannabe suicide bomber, Wafa Ibrahim, who had chosen to target an Israel hospital to blow up countless innocents in June 2005 when she was apprehended at a border crossing was recruited by Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade and not Islamic Jihad. Furthermore Al Aqsa has a history of recruiting the young, desperate and/ or mentally challenged to carry out its carnage which fits the profile of the Netanya shopping mall bomber.

It may on not appear to be important which group of murderous thugs that chose genocide as an tool of political expression but it is. By focusing the political, public and security forces attention on a smaller group and letting the larger group consolidate their power base unchecked does not bode well for either security or peace in the future. It should never be forgotten that Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade is the militant wing of an entrenched political party (Fatah) in the disputed territories and receives its funding directly from Fatah and Fatah is the political party which is perceived to be the Palestinian peace partner for Israel.

It very well maybe that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the recruitment and carnage that resulted at the shopping mall at Netanya but I am suggesting that there is cause to doubt and be suspicious of what we are being told.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The American InterFaith Institute requests your aid

Last week I wrote a post called Talk about a Burning Desire to Nail One’s Butt to Any Cross concerning the US Presbyterian Church leaders who met with Hezbollah as a show of support and to foster improved relations between the two organizations.

Tonight I received an email today from the American InterFaith Institute requesting (very nicely I might add – and that’s a hint for anyone seeking requests from me) help in bring awareness to their protest.
Research through our Faiths For Fairness project shows a long-standing pattern of bias and one-sided advocacy toward the Palestinians by the leadership and staff of the Presbyterian Church USA in their Middle East relationships.

On fact-finding trips to the Middle East, we found that the leadership makes a point of visiting governmental officials in the countries and territories bordering Israel, but have not visited Israeli governmental officials. We have found that the leaders and staff make a point of aligning themselves with pro-Palestinian organizations, but have not been a party to pro-Israel organizations. We have found that the leaders and staff assist pro-Palestinian organizations in making presentations at churches, seminaries, and other Presbyterian venues, but have not solicited pro-Israel organizations to make similar presentations.

To question Presbyterian Church USA leaders about these facts, Faiths For Fairness, the website of the American Interfaith Institute, now includes a letter-writing campaign directed to two top leaders of the Presbyterian Church USA, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick and General Assembly Council Executive Director John Detterick. Through 24 very specific questions, this letter challenges these officials to explain their Church’s position.

As many of you know, a Presbyterian Church USA delegation visited Hezbollah on October 20, 2005. One of the questions in the letter asks about Presbyterian delegations visiting Hezbollah on three prior occasions, in May 2002, June 2004, and October 2004.

More than 8,000 Presbyterian Churches have been notified as to the existence of this letter. They have been encouraged to print, sign and fax the letter to PCUSA headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. We hope you will post information about this letter on your site. The public deserves answers from the PCUSA leadership.

I decided to go check out Faiths for Fairness and peruse their website as I have no knowledge of this organization. I saw nothing that I felt was objectable or offensive and I was pleased to see a page on Palestinian Christian whose plight has been largely ignored in the ongoing canonization of Arafat and his band of murderous thugs by the MSM. I know very little about this organization but I am heartened that someone other than me wants to make a stand against the courting of murderous thugs by so-called Christian leaders.

Just in case any you have any lingering doubts about Hezbollah go visit Michael J. Totten’s blog and view the billboards that Hezbollah has erected at the Lebanese border with Israel. Trust me, Jesus would never sanctioned a group that would display the severed heads of Israeli soldiers as a Welcome to Lebanon.

Grand Opening of Campaign Headquarters

I received an email from the Lewis Reford campaign. Lewis Reford is the CPC candidate in Toronto Centre and he's running against Liberal incumbent Bill Graham.
Grand opening of the campaign headquarters!

Join us from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday December 7th at 403A Bloor Street East for the official opening of our campaign headquarters! Everyone gets to pop a couple of balloons - the more we pop the louder the message we send to Bill Graham, our neighbour down the road! We'll have light refreshments for all our supporters as well as a door prize!

Fully staffed and operational, our offices will be humming from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 1 5 p.m. Sunday, from now until Election Day!

Sign up today to help us out by:
• Taking a lawn or balcony sign
• Donating to Lewis' campaign
• Taking a 3 hour shift in the office assisting us with tasks at hand
• Taking a 2 1/2 hour shift out in the community

We can win with your support!
So much for a hidden agenda. Even if you don’t have the misfortune to live in Bill Graham’s riding, but if you have some free time - go drop by and make some noise.

Palestinian Growth Industry

The Toronto Star has an article covering the mall bombing in Netanya, Israel and presents the rote statement of condemnation from Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas as well as a little bit of insight into the background of the bomber:
Abbas condemned the attack.

“The Palestinian Authority will not go easy on whoever is proved to be responsible,” said a statement issued by Abbas’ office.

Islamic Jihad identified the attacker as Lotfi Abu Saada from Illar, a village north of the West Bank town of Tulkarem. A video released by the group showed the bomber posing with a grenade launcher and assault rifles. Relatives described Abu Saada, 23, as a primary-school dropout who was illiterate and exploited by his handlers. “My son is a poor soul. He doesn’t know anything about this,” said his mother, Amina.

But its from a Jerusalem Newswire Service article that puts into perspective what the PA Chairman was up to at about the time of the Netanya mall bombing and that is the real money quote:
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has approved financial aid to the families of all “Palestinians” killed in conflict with Israel, the majority of whom died while engaging in acts of violence against men, women, children and soldiers.

The order was signed on the very day a Palestinian Arab blew himself up at a shopping mall in central Israel, slaughtering five people and wounding more than 50.

The bomber's family, along with those of every other deceased killer, will now receive at least $250 a month in direct government aid, according to the new law. That amount of money is more than most lower class “Palestinians” can hope to make working menial jobs. This fact, coupled with a culture that glorifies deceased terrorists as national heroes, has the potential to increase the number of young Palestinian Arabs willing to give their lives to kill Jews.

The JNW service also reports that under the new “Martyrs’ Families’” law the PA will now be spending $100 million per year of its total budget on the legal defense of terrorists and payments to Martyrs families.

This has become a cottage industry for the Palestinians and there is no reason to believe that the market for terror cultists will bottom out any time in the near future. Nor is it likely to as long as the Euroweanies and the Americans continue to supply funding without conditions to the Palestinian Authority.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Killing two birds with one stone

The Israel National News is reporting that former US President Jimmy Carter “will head the election supervisors who will be responsible for ensuring the election is held in a fair and transparent fashion.” And he does not come alone. Apparently, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will also be acting as a foreign observer in monitoring the upcoming January 2006 Palestinian elections.

They certainly have their work cut out for them, if this accurately foreshadows with is to come. I can’t help laughing. This made my day. Who gets credit for this idea – Cheney or Rove?

An idea whose time has come

The Journal of N=1 has suggested that the government should personalize our taxes. I really like this idea. Personally, I would love to know what I am paying for.