Friday, March 31, 2006

Those who live by the Kassam die by explosion.

is reporting that a commander of the “military wing” of the Popular Resistance Committee had died in an expulsion that reduced his Subaru to a smoking metal mush.
A car belonging to as senior commander of the Popular Resistance Committees exploded on Friday in Gaza and Palestinian officials said at least one person was killed. The Palestinians blamed Israel for the explosion.

The target of the explosion was Khalil al-Quqa, commander of the Salah e-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. Al-Quqa’s son said the shirt taken off the dead body belongs to his father.The Popular Resistance Committees initially refused to confirm whether their commander has been killed, but later vowed to avenge their commander's death. Hundreds gathered near the blazing white Subaru in which al-Quqa and another passenger had been. Gunmen affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees marched in Gaza city and called for revenge. Firing shots in the air, gunmen said: “Israel will be attacked with a barrage of rockets in the coming hours.” The said “Israel killed him and it will ay for this.”

The spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees Abu Abir told Ynet that his group’s response will be “painful and unprecedented on every level.” This is not the first time that the IDF attempts to assassinate al-Quqa who is considered as one of the most wanted military commanders in the Gaza Strip. He was responsible for cells that fire Qassam rockets at southern Israel. He dispatched a cell to the West Bank to teach terrorists there how to make and launch Qassam rockets. Another cell was caught near Bethlehem few weeks ago.

The Popular Resistance Committee was set up by former members of Fatah and other factions. The groups is considered as Hamas’ satellite organization and supported Hamas’ in the elections to the Palestinian parliament.

The Jerusalem Post report is here. The IAF has denied involvement with al-Quqa’s death. Work related accident or divine intervention by the IAF – he is still one dead kassam maker.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

No good deed goes unpunished in the West Bank

In the wake of the Israeli elections the attacks continue to come from Palestinian terrorists. Today an elderly Israeli couple were traveling by car towards the North West Bank Settlement of Kedumin where out of kindness and no doubt obedience to the mitzvah they picked up two separate hitchhikers reports YnetNews Online with tragic consequences.

Three Israelis, a couple and a young woman, were killed Thursday evening when a terrorist blew himself up inside the couple’s vehicle near a gas station at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Kedumim.

The terrorist hitched a ride with the Israelis dressed up as a haredi man.The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, claimed responsibility for the attack.

An IDF investigation into the attack revealed that the car contained an Israeli couple apparently traveling from Kfar Saba to Kedumim. They reportedly picked up a young woman and the disguised terrorist at a hitchhiking post near the Karnei Shomron settlement, a six minute drive from the entrance to Kedumim, where the terrorist blew himself up. It remains unclear whether the terrorist was wearing an explosives belt or a rucksack with explosives.

Senior al-Aqsa Brigades member Abu Rish confirmed to Ynet that the terrorist was disguised as an Israeli upon stepping into the vehicle, adding that “there were four other people who were killed besides the terrorists.” Palestinian sources reported that the terrorist, identified as 24-year-old bachelor Mahmoud Masharka from the El Bureij refugee camp near Hebron, was wanted by the IDF since almost the beginning of the intifada, mainly for his Islamic Jihad-related activity, but he was able to escape to Hebron and lived at the El Ein refugee camp in Nablus.

It is simply beyond the pale when civilians are deliberated targeted for cold blooded execution but to take advantage of the kindness of strangers while draping one’s body in the garb of the religious strikes me as so profane that mere words could never convey the ignominy of the act. If I have one regret beyond the wanton destruction of life; it is that the bomber did not live to die a 1,000 deaths daily.

Here's the deal

I finally broke down and bought an ipod. Yes, an ipod. I bought one for the Last Amazon a few months ago and while we were on holiday she loaned it to me to use. I was so impressed that I decided to go out and buy one for myself.

I didn’t study the issue and I have no idea if it was a wise consumer choice and I don’t care. I liked hers. I don’t need an mp3 player that will send email, play videos or make coffee. At my age the last thing I want is to look at anything visually that is only 2 inches by 2 inches so the ipod shuffle is perfect for me. It’s light, completely portable and comfortable to wear. I don’t need more than a Gig of memory and the sound quality for my much abused ears suits me just fine.

Apple has dropped the prices since I last bought one in December and the one advantage I have working for a really large company thatI never considered before is that companies like Apple offer discounts to the employees of large firms. The lack of posts in the last few days is because I am busy loading up the ipod so I am good to go. So rather that reading here I suggest that you visit the latest Carnival of Liberties hosted by the Searchlight Crusade.

It’s official. Canadian Human Rights Tribunals have now jumped the shark.

A complaint has been filed with the Albert Human Rights Commission by Iman Syed Soharwardy against the Canadian Western Standard magazine for publishing the Danish looney tunes. Here’s the announcement from Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant:
Earlier this month, the Western Standard was sued in human rights court for publishing the Danish cartoons. It's been ten years since I've graduated from law school, and I've never seen a more frivolous, vexatious, infantile suit than this.

But that's the point -- this complaint is not about beating us in the law. Freedom of speech is still in our constitution; we'll win in the end. It's a nuisance suit, designed to grind us down, cost us money, and serve as a warning to other, more timid media.

The hand-written scrawl and the spelling errors were what first disgusted me with the suit; but the arguments were what really got me. The complainant, Imam Syed Soharwardy, a former professor at an anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, doesn't just argue that we shouldn't have published the cartoons. He argues that we shouldn't be able to defend our right to publish the cartoons. The bulk of his complaint was that we dared to try to justify it.

He argues that advocating a free press should be a thought crime.

Levant has more here. Talk about an abuse of system and process. Sad to say, it seems that our system lends itself so easily to any half-witted twit with an aggravated and delusional sense of rational attempting to push the envelope on the absurd on the taxpayer’s dime. If the Iman was any kind of man he would have two choices. Call Ezra out and arrange to meet him in the back of the building man on man or sue the magazine in civil court on his own dime and call for costs.

The Western Standard is accepting donations for their legal defense fund or I would suggest that you take out a subscription to one of the few magazines that dared to publish the cartoons in Canada.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

And the winner is....Grey Power

The first television exit polls results are in according to this Jerusalem Post article which puts Kadima 29 seats, Labor 22, and the Likud party with 11 seats but:
The accuracy of the TV exit poll has been marred in the past, most memorably in 1996 when it incorrectly showed Shimon Peres to have narrowly defeated Binyamin Netanyahu for the prime ministership. Final results are expected to flow in the course of the night.

The real surprise/winners are:
Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party won 14 seats, making it the third largest party in the next Knesset. Lieberman has expressed an interest in joining any coalition formed despite his opposition to Olmert's convergence plan. The surprise of the election was the Gil pensioners' party, led by 79-year-old former senior Mossad agent Rafi Eitan, which won 8 seats.


Election day is a state holiday in Israel and the Jerusalem Post is reporting by noon only 21.7% of eligible voters had cast their ballots making it one of the lowest turnouts yet.

While it may be a low turn out there were enough Kadima and National Union supporters on hand in the French Hill intersection of Jerusalem to start a brawl.

Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility for a Kassam rocket attack in southern Israel that killed a father and son near the Karni border crossing.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Israeli Elections

Israelis will be going to the polls tomorrow and the interesting thing is that no one really knows who is going to actually win. Most pollsters are giving Ehud Olmert lead Kadima (previously Ariel Sharon’s Forward Party) the lead in Knesset seats in (30-34 range) which is still a significant drop from the 40+ seats approval rating that Kadima enjoyed under the Sharon leadership. But a 30+ seat count in the Israeli parliament could allow Kadima to go ahead and form the next government coalition.

According to this Arutz Sheva article there is a valid reason why everyone (including the Israeli pollsters) are refusing to take the poll numbers seriously. 75% of all those Israelis contacted by various pollsters refused to answer or participate in poll questions. Of those who did respond; 25% remained undecided which translates roughly into approximately 28 seats up for grabs. Furthermore, of the 15-18% of Israelis who were polled that did have a clear political preference also stated that they would not hesitate to change their mind right up to the moment before they marked their ballot.

Evelyn Gordon has probably the best articles I have read recently on the potential right wing coalition/ alliances for control of the Knesset in the Jerusalem Post. One thing to bear in mind when discussing Israeli politics is that the political spectrum is shifted so far leftward that even the alleged “right-wing” parties come in to slightly left of the Canadian NDP.

Already pundits are predicting a potentially lower than average voter turnout which traditionally favours the more “right wing” political parties but with the 22,000 Israeli securities forces mobilized over the country and 85 terror alerts issued (and the IDF is claiming that 14 of the alerts represent “concrete” threats) who really knows?

Unlike Hamas or Fatah, I am hoping for a Kadima/Labor loss and am prayering for a Likud Coalition win.

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

As hard as it is to believe Hugo Chavez has gone and taken anti-American rhetoric to a whole new level according to this report from Reuters:
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday said he would have a nasty welcome waiting for U.S. forces he insists are preparing to invade his country -- arrows laced with Indian poison.

The left-wing former soldier, who has ordered his military to train civilian reserves for a guerrilla war, including the use of bows and arrows, often accuses Washington of planning to invade to control Venezuela's vast oil reserves. U.S. officials dismiss his assassination and invasion charges as populist rhetoric meant to mobilise supporters before presidential elections in December. But they say Chavez is an anti-democratic threat to the region.

With an audience of ministers, army officers and local officials chuckling, Chavez remarked on how he would target U.S. soldiers with arrows covered with curare, an Amazon Indian poison made from plants. "I am going to practice with a bow and arrow. If we have to put a few arrows into any invading gringo, then you'll be done in 30 seconds, my dear gringo," Chavez said pointing to his neck during his regular Sunday television broadcast.
Bows and poison arrows against the imaginary Marine Corps force that will soon be invading Venezuela? Got to be early onset Alzheimer’s.

(Via Neale News)

Let it Bleed is back and changing lanes.

One thing I'd like to accomplish over the next few months is making LIB a focal point for local conservative politics.* I whipped up the following piece a few weeks back and it never really went anywhere (probably because it still needs work), but in an effort to get this puppy fired up again, here it is. Oh, and if you know any local pols who would be interested in a smidgen of internet exposure, let me know.

A little over eight months remain until one of the most important dates on the Toronto calendar: November 13. The fact that the date doesn’t seem familiar to most Torontonians is indicative of a major problem: it’s the next municipal election. It’s a sad fact that the level of government which most directly impacts our daily lives is also the one which receives the least attention from voters – less than 40% of eligible voters turned out for the last election.

Of course, in order to accomplish this, dedicated conservatives are needed. And they’re out there: but attention is often focused on Queen’s Park and Ottawa, rather than Nathan Phillips Square. So perhaps the first step in the process is that conservatives need to convince themselves of the value and prestige of city politics – and the positive impact that they can deliver for people on a daily basis.

The conservative message of smaller, more focused and therefore more competent government is one that Torontonians need to hear – and one which can improve the experience of living in this great city. But it’s up to conservatives to get that story out there. And with elections looming, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Bob’s is most decidedly right. I live and work in this city and the choices we make come November 13th (municipal election date) are going to impact the quality of every day life in this city, up front and personal, in a ways we have not seen before as the City of Toronto has received new powers of taxation unheard of before in Canadian municipal politics from the province. Frankly, the idea that a municipal sales tax of say 5% be jacked on to the cost of services sold within the municipality of Toronto on top of the provincial and federal sales taxes in order to finance an already unsustainable and ever burgeoning municipal budget should be one that makes the blood run cold.

Last week we saw the provincial government earmark $1.2 billion for the City of Toronto for infrastructure repair and at city hall all hailed this as a good beginning. But think about this; just why is Toronto’s infrastructure been serially neglected by successions of municipal councils that it needs such an infusion? One should be asking oneself just what have municipal politicians been financing in lieu of basic spending on infrastructure repair. We could start with the free crack kits and go from there.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Leaving the Golan

Canadian forces are leaving the Golan Heights after 32 years without peace being withing sight. I can remember when Canadian forces were first deployed and so it was a bit of shock to realize that it has actually been 32 years since their original arrival. The Toronto Star carries a report of the Canadian forces pull-out but it has made no mention that the Canadian deployment as UN peacekeepers to the Golan Heights mission also represented the largest single loss of life for Canadian forces engaged in peacekeeping abroad when Syria fired on an unarmed transport carrying Canadian peacekeepers to deployment.

The Toronto Star contends that the Israelis originally acquired the Golan Heights in the Six Days War:
More than 12,000 Canadian troops passed through the Golan's narrow UN Disengagement Observer Force buffer zone during Canada's decades-long presence on the escarpment east of the Sea of Galilee. The 1,150 square-kilometre territory, although part of Syria, has been under Israeli military occupation since it was captured during the final two days of the 1967 Six Day War. Israel unilaterally annexed the part of the Golan under its control in 1981.

But this is not entirely accurate. Only the southern portion of the Golan Heights plateau came under Israeli control in 1967. It was not until the Yom Kippur War when Syria attacked Israel that almost the entirety of the Golan Heights came under Israeli control. Under the UN ceasefire agreement of 1974 a small narrow section was returned to Syria as a demilitarized zone.

But the Toronto Star cannot leave well enough alone and cannot pass up an opportunity to take a cheap shot at the Israeli governments.
Several Israeli governments have indicated a willingness to return the Golan to Syria as part of a comprehensive peace agreement. But the territory, representing one of the few tracts of sparsely populated green space in Israel's possession, also provides Israel with exclusive access to the Galilee watershed, one of the region's most precious water sources.

But here's the other side of the deal. Despite the Annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 by the Israeli Begin government successive Israeli administrations have offered to returned most of the Golan Heights to Syrian control providing Syria will sign a peace agreement with Israel and will not re-militarize the Golan Heights. In fact, the US attempted to broker a deal concerning the return of the Golan Heights in 1999-2000 but guess who refused to get on board and I will give you a hint; it was not Israelis.

The Golan Heights may represent a “green area” and access to the Galilee watershed but a people who made the desert bloom and are also world leaders in desalination techniques can certainly go back to living without the green or blue of the Golan Heights but what they cannot accept is militarization of the plateau by a country that has a long and belligerent history of threatening the security of her citizens.

Friday, March 24, 2006

May this be only the beginnings of many ‘morning time in Canada’ to come

I voted CPC not so much as I thought they would show outstanding leadership initiative in governing this country or because I instinctively sympathized with middle-aged men with a paunch. It was simply the lesser evil of all possible voting choices. I am no one’s party hack and I would not hesitate to vote NDP tomorrow if they promised to drastically slash my taxes and get the government out of the habit of regulating the every day lives of its citizenry. Of course, if that were the case the NDP would still have to overcome the highly incredulous factor for my $1.75 vote.

That being said I am really starting to like this new Canada under the CPC. I may not agree with everything but at last I can see a new day dawning somewhere over the horizon. Taken from the Globe and Mail:

In addition to members of the RCMP and the military's special forces, the team included diplomats and intelligence officers, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said. "We were there with our very best," Mr. MacKay said in an interview. "We had everyone fully engaged in this operation from Day 1."The extraordinary effort, he said, sends a message: "Canada should not [be], and is not passive when it comes to its own citizens and the protection of their lives."

British troops led the final phase of the delicate operation that unfolded yesterday morning in a neighbourhood in Baghdad. The international team found Canadians James Loney, 41, Harmeet Singh Sooden, 33, and Briton Norman Kember, 74, in a building. They were bound. Their captors were not around. Mr. MacKay said joy at the rescue was tempered by the fact that the operation came too late to save the life of one of the hostages, American Tom Fox. His body was found two weeks ago.

All four men came to Baghdad last year to work for a pacifist organization, the Christian Peacemakers Team. They were taken hostage by a group demanding the release of Iraqi prisoners held by U.S. forces. Mr. MacKay said yesterday's rescue involved close co-operation between the governments of Britain, the United States and Iraq. The final raid was led by the British.

Canadian intelligence officers involved at various times included specialists from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment, a secretive branch of the Defence Department that intercepts international telecommunications. The Foreign Affairs Department combed its ranks to find staff who had experience with these types of situations, The Canadian Press reported. They dispatched a team in early December that included foreign officers, workers from the Jordanian embassy and some RCMP officers. That team stayed in Baghdad through Christmas and into this year.

Liberal MP Dan McTeague, a former parliamentary secretary responsible for Canadians abroad, said the group discreetly made inquiries around Baghdad about the disappearance. They also communicated again and again that the hostages were Canadian, they were humanitarian workers and that Canada was not party to the war.

"This was a remarkable international effort involving our allies, the Americans, the British and the Iraqis," Mr. MacKay said. "This is certainly a great day for Canadians." But the new Conservative government is keeping a tight lid on operational details on the advice of federal security experts. They warn that talk of Canadian military activity in Iraq can make Canadians targets for terrorists. The security experts also say that they want to keep techniques secret that might be needed again if another rescue operation ever has to be mounted. Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted broadly at Canadian military involvement at a news conference earlier in the day. "I'm not free to say more than that because of national security.

No doubt the naysayers and pooh-poohers will try to twist this into some kind of liberal initiative but if the liberals were still running Canada would Canadian security forces taken a significant role in the hostage rescue? I just cannot envision a Martin Liberal government which would have allowed all levels of our securities forces to operate freely in IRAQ (of all places) in tangent with American and British forces. I think not unless they were able to cruise from afar at a safe hand washing distance. Just think William Sampson, Mahrer Arar or just ask Zahra Kazemi – oops, my bad, you can’t ask Kazemi, as she’s dead.

Only one more thing for the Canadian government to do and I will be content. Send the bill to Christian Peacemakers for the rescue operation.

Bored of the Rings

The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star have both waded in on Lord of the Rights – The Musical and pronounced it boring despite its’ $28 million price tag. I ask if anyone is truly and really surprised?

It took multiple attempts for movie makers to finally turn out a half-way decent film on the Lord of the Rings, and then, it still took 3 – 3 hour movies to tell the tale. I think my son called it right last summer when he saw the billboards that were advertising LOTR: The Musical and said, “Some things are just wrong.”

Well, actually I am relieved in a way. If nothing else perhaps this will put the kibosh on the current provincial liberal government’s attempts to become theatre promoters and discourage future provincial governments from going down the same path holding the taxpayer’s purse wide open but considering that I live in a province whose motto should be “Yours to Plunder” I will not be holding my breath.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Talk about your gotchie control

I can understand completely why Cuban ex-pat and former Castro "gofer" Delfín Fernández has made a name for himself on Miami cable television according to this Miami Herald article.

I recognize that its completely feasible for paranoids to have enemies, and Fidel Castro has done more to earn enemies than most people - but I got to ask; who would have thought that Fidel burned his dirty underwear every day to foil any some of chemical assassination attempt?

Is it even feasible to kill by poisoned gotchies? You know, I really would have thought that Castro was more of a "commando" rather than a fruit of the loom type - which just goes to show one can never judge a book by its cover.

Now that this story is out how long before the Palestinians claim the Israelis are killing them by their Hanes?

(t/ Neal News)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Talk about a Sour Zerb

The Zerb aka Toronto Star’s “Media Critic” blogging on Mark Steyn in MacLean's magazine:

We know he's recently lost his gigs in most of the old Conrad Black empire. He burned his bridges at the National Post when the Aspers/Matthew Fraser took over from his Lordness and founding editor Ken Whyte. (The latter has given him a sinecure at Maclean's where he's been writing rambling, self-indulgent prose.)

“Rambling, self-indulgent prose” which I think is a much fairer assessment of what the Zerb’s has written in her “Steyn in my Eye” post than anything that Steyn has written for MacLean’s magazine. And just in case we miss her point in the next paragraph - she goes the extra adjective mile in describing the stylistic substance of Steyn’s Globe and Mail column yesterday and I quote.
So guess where Steyn turns up yesterday, dominating the Comment page with a rambling, self-indulgent 1,500 words, more or less, under the headline "The Cost of Not whacking Saddam was too high"?

Let’s face facts; not even on her best day, when she’s at the top of her game, can she play in the same league as Steyn. She’s a pure bush leaguer whose best column will never measure up to his worst, and isn’t envy one of the ugliest sins to observe in the eyes of others? I'll take lust and greed over envy any day.

Shalom to Moshe Ya’alon and Welcome to Canada

There is something ironic about reading an Israeli paper to find out what Canadian moonbats are up to but life is full of those little ironies. Taken from YnetNewsOnline:
A group of left-wing organizations, mostly Arabs, some Jewish, called on the Canadian government to detain former Chief of Staff Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon who is planning to visit Toronto on Wednesday to appear in synagogue for a fundraising event for the benefit of IDF wounded soldiers.

The organizations claim that their request to ban Yaalon from entering Canada is based on the Canadian law which prohibits entrance of people suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They asked authorities to detain Yaalon if he enters Canada.

Yaalon consulted with the Israeli ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, who is an expert in international law and served up to two year ago as the Foreign Ministry's legal advisor on the subject, opposite the British, the Belgians, and others. Baker said that that he has no knowledge of any request to the Canadian officials on the matter and added that in practicality, the Canadian law is very strict and in order ban Yaalon from entering, there is need for a signature of the Canadian immigration minister.

In order to detain Yaalon on Canadian soil, a court order signed by the Canadian minister of justice is needed. Yaalon, on his part, decided to make the trip to Canada and speak in "Bet Emeth" synagogue. He will be greeted outside the synagogue by many protestors planning to jeer him and carry signs like "war criminal, you're not welcome in Canada."

I know that there were a few faint-hearted threats bantered about to have US President George W. Bush arrested as a war criminal on his first state visit to Canada, but this is the first I’ve heard that Canadian lefties want to arrest former IDF Chief Moshe Yaalon as a war criminal when he visits Canada. Can’t say claim that I am surprised by the suggestion though it is a bit puzzling why the Toronto Star hasn’t run with the story yet. The one frustrating point in the YnetNewsOnline article is that paper does not carry the name of the organization(s) but a quick google search did come with the usual suspects.
All I can say is Good Luck getting Monte to sign the order.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Memo to Online Desk Editor of Zaman: Your veil is slipping!

I have written a few posts recently concerning the Israeli Karni border crossing dispute so when I saw this piece in the Zaman Online News I knew I would have to post it:
With the closure of the Karni border crossing point, the only ammunitions route to Gaza, for security reasons, Palestinians living in the area are in danger of starving.

Freudian, eh?

(Via Meryl Yourish)

There is finally a reason to pay for the Globe and Mail.

Well, at least for today’s dead tree issue – A31. Mark Steyn has been picked up as a guest columnist by the Globe and Mail. Of all the Canadian dailies, who would have guessed that the G&M would be the one to pony up? I can’t find a link online to his column on “The cost of not whacking Saddam was too high” but I can already imagine all the lights popping in the heads of the G&M’s regular readers and whatever would Rick Salutin think?

Conservatives Abandon Alien Amnesty Plan - NOT!

The lead into this article at the Toronto Star reads:
Hard workers can't stay

Illegal workers in Toronto's underground economy are being deported as the new Conservative government abandons a Liberal amnesty plan, immigration lawyers and consultants say.

Which is why this article grabbed my attention. Who knew that that the Liberals had an amnesty plan for the Conservatives to abandon? I didn’t. At one point I recall reading that the Liberals were going to examine the possibility of a general amnesty for illegal aliens and that’s as much as I read. Now I will admit that I am not necessarily the most informed person on the planet but I would bet the rent money if the Liberals had a solid proposal to offer as an immigration amnesty policy it would have been a major campaign issue. And it never came up during the campaign. Not once.

It is not until you get past the first five paragraphs that one learns that Joe Volpe, former Liberal Minister of Immigration had a draft proposal that was never sent to the Liberal cabinet to consider.

Furthermore, unlike the Toronto Star, I am not much interested in the government taking charge and managing the economics of the “underground economy”. I figure the government’s efforts are better spent managing the above ground economy. Nor do I have much sympathy for the plight of the construction industry in Toronto which this article suggests has made illegal aliens a staple of their worker base - not while the general youth unemployment rate is at 11.4% and I suspect it is even considerably higher among black youth in Toronto but I can’t find any race base statistics. Though I would be curious to see exactly how diverse the construction industry in Toronto actually is.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Neverending Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Part xxxxxxxxxx

The Toronto Star weighs in on the Karni border crossing dispute and I quote the highlights:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The incoming Palestinian prime minister presented a Hamas government likely to trigger painful economic sanctions, just as a solution appeared possible for a Gaza border crossing crisis that has caused shortages of vital food products.

On Monday, negotiators are to work out the details of opening at least one crossing to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. Tentative agreement was reached Sunday at a meeting called by the United States to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Also Sunday, Israel, Palestinian and U.S. negotiators came to a tentative agreement to resolve a border-crossing crisis that has caused shortages of vital food products in Gaza, the U.S. ambassador said.

The vital Karni cargo crossing between Israel and Gaza has been closed for most of the past two months, shutting down almost all exports and imports from the poverty-stricken seaside territory. Palestinians charge Israel is punishing the Palestinians for the Hamas victory, but Israel insists it is keeping the crossing shut because of warnings of terror attacks. The lengthy shutdown has led to shortages of flour and milk, among other products, and bakeries are closing, the United Nations said.

While the Karni border was opened briefly today it was closed just as quickly and for the same reasons it keeps being closed by the Israelis. Security alerts.

But the Karni border crossing is not the only border crossing available to the Palestinians. There is another border crossing at the southern end of the Gaza Strip but the Palestinians consistently refuse to consider it as a viable option. Why you may ask? The Kerem Shalom terminal is a heavily fortified crossing unlike the Karni Terminal, and consequently, the opportunity to inflict physical harm to any IDF personnel manning the stations on the Israeli side is minimal at best. But here’s another thought; why don’t the Palestinians expend their markets south to Egypt or North Africa rather than blindly insisting on tunneling only north into Israel?

If there really is a food shortage in the Gaza Strip it is a totally manufactured one caused by the Palestinian Authority who would rather play politics as their citizens starve. Of course, there is a greater irony and that is while the Israelis lived in the Gaza the desert bloomed into an agricultural cornucopia of bounty. I guess you could say those days are long gone.

The Graff Never Ends

Apparently the European Union has stepped up to the plate to the tune for another $78 million for the Palestinian Authority but not to fret as the EU has not revered their previous stance and will not finance a terrorist government, ergo, all future welfare handouts will hinge on whether Hamas decides to sing a different tune reports the Jerusalem Post.

I could have sworn that what they said last month. The real question is how long can the EU keep this up? I personally believe they will never stop the handouts which is just another reason why I am eternally grateful my ancestors left Old Europe for the New World.

How I know that it’s Monday

Gods of the Copybook has updated for the week.

The downside to knowing that it is Monday also means that it is the last day of my holidays which means back to the daily grind as of tomorrow.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Cry Poor, blame the Jews, and have the world fill your coffers

I have an uncle who is notorious for crying poor when he is anything but poor. Live long enough and one always runs into that type. I was reminded of that when I read this story by Lee Kaplan and posted online by Arutz Sheva on the alleged bankruptcy of the Palestinian Authority:
The "right of return" is a non-negotiable theme that maintains these refugees can never be assimilated into the Arab world. Since 1948, Arabs who were forced to be "Palestinians" have left the camps, but had to tithe their income to Arafat. The tithes were collected by the governments of any Arab state where they were living only as alien residents. Meanwhile, the United States and other Western nations' taxpayers helped support those in the refugee camps. The Arab League's donations were always minimal and PLO money usually spent on training and weapons.

From 1964 on, Palestinian terrorism became a protection racket, as Saudi billionaires and the Arab League paid the PLO to roil the conflict with Israel's Jews and keep their own impoverished populations distracted from their leaders' personal opulence. The PLO became a big business during those years, renting itself out to the Soviet Union and KGB and allying itself to revolutionary causes from the IRA to the Basque Separatist Movement to Castro's Cuba by providing training by its military wing.

The PLO also went into legitimate businesses. By the 1970s, the PLO established SAMED, an Arabic acronym for Palestinian Martyr's Sons Enterprises. SAMED is actually a worldwide conglomerate swimming in money. Its portfolio includes farms, restaurants, retail stores, factories and even oil refineries. It holds real estate investments in France, Spain and England, and owns several newspapers. It even has controlling interest in a Monte Carlo radio station. The portfolio also includes large amounts of money invested in Wall Street and in stock exchanges in Tokyo, Paris and Frankfurt, including a large share of Mercedes Benz. Airlines in the Maldives, Caledonia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nicaragua, and duty free shops all over Africa are also in the portfolio, since they serve as covers for moving terrorists around and providing them travel documents - all while turning a profit.

Mandatory tithing to Arafat by Palestinians living in other Arab states generated some $50 million dollars a year, while the Saudis and Gulf States donated billions of dollars to the PLO. Intelligence agencies have estimated that the PLO added $5 million dollars per day to its coffers during the 1970s and '80s, and British National Criminal Intelligence Services in 1994 estimated the PLO's net worth at $10 billion dollars. Besides SAMED, the Palestine Commercial Services Company today has a monopoly in flour, cement, cigarettes, oil and construction material in the Palestinian Authority. The Palestine Development and Investment Company (PADICO) controls 93% of all investments in the emerging "State of Palestine".

The PLO even expanded its operations to the illicit drug trade. Sallagh Dabbagh, the PLO former treasurer, stated, "The entire future of the PLO operation for liberation may hinge on our exporting more drugs around the world." Other illegal enterprises included counterfeiting US currency, money laundering, arms smuggling, murders for hire and even bank robberies. The Guinness Book of World Records estimated PLO-organized bank robberies in Europe netted in excess of 100 million dollars.

Despite all this, the PLO was still raking it in at the height of the "peace process". Direct aid and funds through non-governmental organizations exceeding at least $125 million a month, for only 3.2 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, came from the US, the EU and the Arab League (that only gives nominally). PLO leaders, though, were buying and smuggling guns to destroy Israel, while rewarding Arafat's wife an annuity worthy of a potentate.

This doesn't include millions in UN funds for UNWRA, the United Nations Welfare Relief Agency, that is run not by the UN, but by the Palestinians themselves. UN aid estimates that Palestinians received $300 a year per person in handouts as "refugees", the highest figure given any refugees in the world. While many an average Palestinian may be poor due to graft by the leadership, terrorists in the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade were being paid $50,000 a year; a salary many Americans would love to make, but a fortune in the Middle East, where $800 a month is considered a good income.

Even fewer Americans know that Edward Abington, the former US state department consul general in Jerusalem, went to work for the PLO as their chief lobbyist in Washington at a salary of 2.5 million dollars annually. This, right after he agreed, in his former capacity, to donate 400 million dollars of USAID taxpayer money to the Palestinian Authority.

The first time I learned about the compulsory tithing was in the Eighties from a man who grew up in an infamous Lebanese refugee camp. I am still as outraged about it now as I was then. For those refugees who are allowed the priviledge of leaving the camp to pursue employment opportunities or even the right to beg for alms outside the camps must turn over a portion of their daily earnings to the thugs that run the camps. For most Palestinian refugees there are only three choices: starve, pay it and be grateful to be alive for today or join the beast.

Most people who have heard about it from me live in a kind of denial about it and prefer to believe that the world’s favourite victims could never brutalize or abuse their own; otherwise the western media would have been all over the story. But let’s face facts. Throughout the years there have been voices crying out but they have been downed out by others who prefer their terrorists be covered in the righteous mantle of “freedom fighters’ rather than acknowledge the truth that their freedom fighters are nothing more than cut-throat thieves, extortionists and murderers. There is a reason why the PLO made it into the record books and from all accounts the dubious distinction of being the world’s premier bank robbers is not being threatened by any group located anywhere in the world in the immediate future.

Think about this for a minute. Since the return of the PLO under the Oslo Accords why has there not been one single serious attempt made to relocate a single Palestinian Refugee from any of the neighboring Arab refugee camps into the West Bank or Gaza? Blame Arafat all you want to but he was nothing more than one man in the chain of command in the Palestinian mafia. Chairman Abbas is no better. There was/is an opportunity to ease up the life of those refugees in the neighboring Arab refugee camps and the opportunity still exists but no political party within the Palestinian Authority ran on a platform promising to return immediately any refugee who wanted to settle in the West Bank or Gaza nor would they – it would be bad for business.

(Tipped off by Iris Blog)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I have a confession to make. Saint Patrick’s Day bores me. I really cannot get my head around today and don't understand the appeal where everyone is Irish for a day. I only wear green its strictly an accident. Sure I wear a Claddagh and my mother’s surname is McNamara, but so what? We have been in Canada so long that I am sure that any ties to Ireland were severed long ago and probably with more than just cause. I never had a fear of snakes so I don’t have much use for St. Patrick and frankly, I always preferred St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of loss things but perhaps that’s just the Scot coming out in me.

So in the spirit of the day, I thought I would share my favourite story of my mother. She was with a group of people who were trying to out do each other on the tales of their illustrious lineage. If you live long enough, you run into that type. You know, the ones that claim to be descended from the bastard love child of the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great-lovechild 17th removed of Lord Mountbatten’s cousin.

She sat very quietly and listened to the all the high tales being told by a few bores of their allegedly illustrious lineage. Someone turned to her and asked her to share stories of her ancestors. Very coyly she stated that her maiden name was McNamara and that Mc means “son of” and Namara means “sheppard” in Gaelic. The family got the name because her ancestors were none other than the three sheppard’s that were present when Jesus was born, so in honour of those three; the whole family got to share in the glory till the end of time. That turned a few faces red and the conversation took a decidedly different turn. Throughout the years I have claimed that story as my own and have always found it useful when faced with the ancestral bores.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

“Our government is behaving as if it were ruling in Finland and not in the Palestinian territories."

Hamas is calling for a commission of inquiry into why the Jericho prison guards surrendered to Israeli forces and allowed themselves to be publicly humiliated by stripping down to their underwear as they surrendered the Jericho prison to the IDF Commando forces reports the Jerusalem Post:

Hamas legislators are demanding a commission of inquiry into Tuesday's IDF raid on the Jericho prison, as many Palestinians expressed outrage over the "humiliating" way in which scores of Palestinian Authority policemen, stripped to their underwear, surrendered.

In a separate development, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil announced that the new cabinet could be announced on Thursday. He said Fatah would not join the cabinet, which would consist mostly of ministers who were not members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

A general strike was declared in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Wednesday in protest against the raid. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets, chanting slogans against Israel, the US and Britain. Militiamen continued to issue threats against any American or British citizen who enters the PA territories.

"This is humiliation for all Palestinians," PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters during a tour of the Jericho prison on Wednesday. "This is an unforgivable crime and a violation of all agreements that we have signed." Abbas held both Britain and the US responsible for what happened. "The American and British monitors left the prison five minutes before the Israeli soldiers stormed it," he said. "This shows that they had colluded with Israel." Abbas, however, confirmed that the British government had informed him of its intention to withdraw its monitors. "But," he added, "they did not set a date. They surprised us by leaving very quickly."

Abbas and the PA leadership, meanwhile, have come under sharp criticism for failing to prevent the arrest of the assassins of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi. Many Palestinians said they were more disturbed by the humiliating way in which scores of PA policemen, walked out of the compound than by the arrest of the five members of the PFLP and Karine A bankroller Fuad Shubaki.

Dozens of Fatah activists in the Bethlehem area signed a petition on Wednesday calling on Abbas to resign and dissolve the PA. "The stripping of the PA security officers in front of the entire world is a disgrace for all Palestinians and Arabs," they wrote. "If the Palestinian Authority can't protect its prisoners, it might as well be dismantled." Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Ramallah-based Independent Palestine List, said most Palestinians were deeply offended by the pictures featuring the semi-naked policemen. "What is the value of all the PA security forces if Israel could force their members to strip any time?" he asked. "We have reached this situation because of the Oslo Accords and the imaginary arrangements created under them."

Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA-funded daily Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, described what happened in Jericho as a scandal. "This is a scandal for the Palestinian Authority because it proves that it is on the verge of collapse and that it is unable to achieve anything," he said. "Our government is behaving as if it were ruling in Finland and not in the Palestinian territories."

The world can only wish that the Palestinian Authority ruled like the Fins, and I would consider that a major step up and a quantum leap forward for the Palestinian Authority if they did so. But the real humiliation was not the Palestinian security forces surrendered and stripped down to their underwear but they did so to because the dreaded Zionists beat them on their home turf, again. This is the unforgivable humiliation and it would be germane of us not to lose sight of that fact.

The psychology of the average Arab has been so conditioned to believe that a Jew can never beat an Arab in a fair fight which is why the world is treated to the bizarre spectacle of the Egyptians celebrating their victory in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 with the Israelis every October. How one loses a war and still claim victory should be a psychological text book study on delusional thinking taken to the extreme of human possibility.

It wasn’t for the love of all things Canadian

The Globe and Mail is reporting that a kidnapped Canadian citizen doing foreign aid work in the Gaza Strip by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was eventually released once his identity as a Canadian was suitably established. The Canadian commentators are going full-tilt on a “thank God a Canadian passport still means something theme”.

I suppose I shouldn’t criticize the commenters as much as the reporter who failed to establish that the PFLP were specifically looking for either American or British citizens to use as leverage in the hopes that it would influence the Israeli government back off the capture of the wanted PFLP terrorists.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas wasted no time for suggesting that the American and British authorities were in co-hoots with the IDF’s raid on the Jericho prison which was why the PFLP didn’t let any grass grow under their feet before their hunt to kidnap any foreigners in the Gaza Strip with the hopes of striking pay dirt with an American or British citizen hostage.

Canada has no dog in this fight and therefore no influence. That was the only reason the man was released relatively unharmed and not for a love of all things Canadian. If there was the slightest chance that a Canadian foreign aid worker (working to improve the lot of the average Palestinian) had the slightest chance of influence; Canadians would be seeing the newsreel footage of a Canadian hostage held with a knife held to his throat and pleading for his life. Holding the Canadian aid worker hostage would have been the equivalent of saying, 'stop or the kitten gets it' to a mouse. The PFLP may be delusional but stupid they are not, so instead they released the Canadian.

Imagine the outcry; if Canadian prisons were run like this.

Here is a Times Online piece that highlights the quality of life for a commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmed Sa’adat’s life inside the Palestinian Authority run jail in Jericho. Flowers, books, birds, domestic servants, televisions, faxes, mobile telephones and cigars – sounds more like a war lord rather than a prisoner of the state.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I was originally thinking BBQ but settled on a roast as this is going to be a busy day for me. My contribution for Eat an Animal for PETA Day is marinating in the fridge now - how about you?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Operation bringing home the goods or the Siege of Jericho Ends

Reports the Jerusalem Post:
A tense 10-hour siege of the Palestinian Authority prison here ended Tuesday night when Ahmed Saadat, the mastermind behind the 2001 assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi, walked out and surrendered to troops who were poised to burst in and seize him.

Security forces, led by the police's elite counterterror unit, also apprehended four others involved in Ze'evi's murder, along with Fuad Shubaki, the Karine A weapons ship paymaster. In an operation called "Bringing Home the Goods," IDF forces, tanks, artillery and helicopters pounded the jail Tuesday morning, after US and British monitors stationed there withdrew. Two PA security men were killed in the initial fighting. There were no Israeli casualties.
At first, Saadat vowed to stay put and defiantly told Al-Jazeera in a telephone interview, "We are not going to give up, we are going to face our destiny with courage." Ultimately, however, Saadat, apparently realizing he would eventually be caught or killed, ordered his men to put down their weapons and surrender. Soon after nightfall, the six, stripped to their underpants, surrendered and were questioned by security officials in the jail compound. In addition to the six wanted men, troops also arrested 67 Palestinians who were still holed up inside the compound, a third of which was demolished by IDF bulldozers.

Apart from the two PA security men who were killed during the fighting, another 28 were wounded."The message of the operation is clear," OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh told reporters following Saadat's capture. "The blood of an Israeli minister will not be forfeited and the perpetrators will be hunted down."

The operation sparked clashes and disturbances throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where gunmen abducted at least 10 foreign nationals, among them reporters, teachers and aid workers, and set fire to the British Council headquarters in Gaza. The international monitors deployed at the Rafah border crossing left the site and PA shut down the crossing between Gaza and Egypt, in addition to the Allenby Bridge between Israel and Jordan. British nationals were advised to refrain from entering areas under PA control due to the rising tensions.

Israel denied that it had coordinated the operation with the UK and US and noted that the operation was launched only after the foreign monitors had left. The PA's failure to uphold its side of an agreement, a senior officer said, prompted the international monitors to leave the prison. "Israel maintained its commitment to the agreements reached with the PA and decided to take action only when the PA violated its side of the agreement and the terrorists were no longer under the supervision of American and British monitors as the agreement specifies," an IDF statement said.

There were no negotiations with the fugitives regarding their surrender, security officials stressed, and there was no intention to enter any dialogue with them. "They have a choice to surrender or be taken alive or dead; it is as clear cut as that," one officer said earlier in the day.

In May 2002, Saadat, Shubaki and four cell members involved in Ze'evi's murder were transferred from Ramallah to the Jericho jail. The handover was part of a deal brokered by the US, and allowed Israel to lift a month-long siege of Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters, with the understanding that US and British agents would monitor the jail to ensure that the six would not be set free. The four cell members who actively participated in Ze'evi's murder are Hamdi Koran, who pulled the trigger, Basel al-Amar, Majdi Rimawi and Ahed Gholami.

In April 2002, in a quick military trial in Ramallah, headed by Brig.-Gen. Ribhi Arafat, the four involved in Ze'evi's murder were sentenced to hard labor. Koran was sentenced to 18 years, Asmar to 12, Rimawi to eight and Gholami to one year. Saadat was never placed on trial.
I suspect life for Sa’adat & Company will be radically different from this moment on. No doubt the first order of business will be that Sa’adat will be facing a trial in an Israeli court.

Sometimes the first offence should be the last offence

Years ago I worked as a law clerk for criminal lawyers. Eventually, I made the decision that I would take my talents down a road that had absolutely nothing to do with criminal law. I worked for very effective and very busy criminal defense lawyers but I use to leave work at night feeling dirty and beat up. I learned to school my face, my emotions and my voice so that nothing of the contempt or horror that I felt would ever cross my countenance in any way, shape or form. If I had a nickel for every time I insisted that a client not tell me their side of the story I would have retired a wealthy woman. Trust me, having to comb for the police disclosure was more than enough for me.

I have sat across from the alleged victim of a domestic assault that was so horrific that her face was not even recognizable as human as she tired to use what was left of her mouth and lips to plead her alleged boyfriend/assailant’s innocence. My firm took on his case and I took down her statement. I had no doubt that she was lying and I felt such a profound sense of grief as I wrote down every single lying every word she misspoke. The alleged perpetrator came by a few days after his acquittal to bring the staff flowers and thanked each of us personally for all our help. He insisted on shaking my hand, and after, I smiled and excused myself so that I could discretely go to the ladies room and toss my cookies and wash my hands in peace.

I believe that everyone is entitled to an advocate but this is no compelling reason why my participation is needed in the process. I would rather sleep easy at night and let the job go to others who are rarely troubled by such things as guilt, innocence or just desserts. I rarely think about those days now and I learned many valuable life lessons. I found this at Neale News today and this article from the Edmonton Sun took me back to those dark years:
An "out-of-control" Edmonton father has admitted repeatedly kicking his teenage daughter with his steel-toed boots in a brutal assault that horrified onlookers.

Nagi Ahmad Zrein, 50, pleaded guilty in provincial court yesterday to assault with a weapon for kicking the then-14-year-old girl during an attack which also included him punching, stomping and slamming her face into a van.

An eyewitness to the Aug. 30 assault said she is haunted by the vicious beating. "I wake up every morning seeing her face," said Sharon Trelenberg. "She was brutally attacked. He was out of control." Fellow eyewitness Jody Hickey, who rescued the victim by bringing her into her home and calling police, agreed. "It was probably one of the most violent crimes against a child I have ever seen," said Hickey.

Crown prosecutor Christian Lim told court Zrein went to pick up his daughter at her friend's home and was upset she had had contact with a 39-year-old man. He went there with his wife and began "yelling and screaming uncontrollably" and swearing at his daughter while telling her to get into their vehicle.

While still in the home, Zrein began assaulting the teen by punching her in the head repeatedly with a closed fist, said Lim. The victim ran outside and Zrein chased her down, threw her to the ground and began kicking her in the stomach and arms with his steel-toed boots, said Lim. Trelenberg told Zrein to stop, but he continued and stomped on his daughter twice with all his weight, said Lim, adding Zrein yelled, 'I should have kicked the sh-t out of you years ago. "

He then picked her up by the hair with both hands and slammed her face into the side of the minivan as the two civilian witnesses looked on in horror," said Lim. Zrein again kicked the girl, who was screaming for help and pleading with him to stop, then threw her into the van and told his wife to drive her home.

Hickey grabbed the beaten teen, brought her into her home and called police, said Lim.

You know what I am thankful for? That I live in a country where no one has the right to treat a man, woman, child or dog like this man treated his daughter. I am profoundly grateful that there are still people in this country that would step in and help a 14 year girl escape that brutal senseless beating.

If I have a regret it is that he was not convicted of attempted murder, and instead, will no doubt plead some extenuating circumstances to diminish his responsibility for this senseless brutal assault on his daughter. After all, you dotcha know – it’s his first offence.

If only bloggers ran the Liberal Party

Former NDP Premier of Ontario, Bob Rae gave his speech at the Canadian Club and contrary to rumours he did not announce that he was throwing his hat into the ring for leadership of the Liberal party.

According to this report Calgary Herald Rae still needs a few more days to think and opine on the issue. If you ask me, Bob needs more than a few Rae Days but just how long does it take to process a liberal party membership anyhow?

I still think Occam’s Carbuncle wound make a better leader for the Liberal party. Imagine, I might even have to vote, and Liberal…..then I’m thinking maybe Jay Jardine for Minister of Transportation and the Journal of N=1 for Finance – that’s my idea of fiscal reform I could live with.

(Tipped off by Neale News)

You can’t say the Palestinian Authority was not warned

In 2001 Ahmed Sa’adat, a commander in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine planned and ordered the assassination of Israel Knesset Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi. The Palestinian Authority signed a joint agreement with the United States and Britain to allow international wardens to guard Mr. Sa'adat in a Palestinian jail in Jericho.

The Palestinian Authority pledged to protect the international wardens of Mr. Sa’adat. Hamas has been threatening to release Sa’adat from jail in Jericho. Palestinian Authority Chairman has publicly gone on record saying that under certain conditions he has no intellectual problems with the concept of releasing Mr. Sa’adat from the Jericho jail and would only do so once he receives a letter from the polit-bureau of the PFLP acknowledging that the Palestinian Authority has no responsibility for protecting Mr. Sa’adat once he was released.

Early Tuesday morning the Palestinian Authority run jail withdrew security measures for the international wardens. The United States and Britain removed their wardens from the jail. The Jerusalem Post is now reporting that the IDF has not only surrounded the Jericho jail but is in the process of a tactical assault on the facility with the expressed purpose of capturing Sa’adat and his cohorts.
IDF troops entered Jericho early this morning in what appears to be an operation aimed at capturing the killers of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi who are held in a city prison. According to the Associated Press, the soldiers surrounded the Palestinian jail, amid conflicting reports over whether a top Palestinian prisoner, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) leader, had been released or captured.

The prisoner, Ahmed Sa'adat, is being held for his involvement in ordering the assassination of an Ze'evi in 2001. Under the arrangement, he is guarded by British and US wardens, in addition to Palestinian jailers. Sami Musallam, the governor of Jericho, said he was told Sa'adat was still in his cell and that IDF forces were trying to snatch him. He said the American and British guards had withdrawn before the Israeli forces entered.

According to some reports, the soldiers have already entered the facility. Eyewitnesses said two helicopter gun ships and three tanks were covering the army's forces on the ground. Israel Radio reported that the soldiers also evacuated students and teachers from a nearby school. A bulldozer was also seen on site. Sources in Jerusalem said that once it became evident that the killers of Ze'evi would be released by the Hamas-led PA government, there was no other choice but to take action.

The Israelis warned the Palestinian Authority in clear and easy to understand language what they would do if the Palestinian Authority sent any signals that Sa’adat’s release was imminent. Refusing to provide security for the American and British wardens was in direct violation with the agreement the Palestinian Authority signed and can reasonable construed as a clear signal of Sa’adat’s imminent release.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kadima, First Choice among leading terror groups

First Fatah endorsed Kadima, now Hamas does according to this Arutz Sheva report:
The Hamas terrorist organization which is forming a government to rule the Palestinian Authority has declared that the Likud party’s electoral platform endangers the interests of the PA.

Two weeks ago, a leading figure in the Fatah party, Zacaria Z’bedi, said his party would do everything it could to ensure that Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, does not become Israel’s next prime minister.

Z’bedi said that the Fatah, which has stepped up terror activity against Israel since losing an electoral bout with the Hamas, would consider widening the scope of its terrorist operations, as a means of influencing Israel's March 28 general election.

The Hamas’ opposition to Netanyahu, comes on the heels of an announcement by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah), supporting Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party, because their positions better serve the interests of the PA.

I cannot wait to see which terror group would be the next one to step up to the plate and endorse Kadima. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda? You cannot buy these kind of endorsements.

Now this is Prime Ministerial.

Say what you will but I am pleased that one of Prime Minister Harper’s first official trips abroad was to pay a surprise visit to our troops stationed in Afghanistan. Taken from a report by the Toronto Star.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan—Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on the ground in Afghanistan today to give a high-level boost to the Canadian troops facing an increasingly perilous mission around Kandahar. "These are a great bunch of men and women who are doing a tough job," Harper said yesterday as he emerged from a Hercules aircraft that brought him into Kandahar Airfield after a top-secret, weekend flight halfway around the world.

"I believe Canadians are always behind our troops wherever they go and I think the more they understand about the mission and all the things they're doing ... the more support they'll have for the work we're doing here." This is no flying visit — Harper slept last night in VIP barracks on the base and will be dining in the lunch tent and mixing with the soldiers from the camp most of the day today.

The Prime Minister actually flew the Hercules briefly before it landed in Kandahar yesterday. He pronounced the view of the Afghan countryside "desolate" but said it was "exciting" to be in the country. No prime minister in recent memory has spent this much time at ground level or at the front lines of a Canadian military operation. Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of defence staff, was on hand to greet Harper as he landed in Afghanistan and said Canadian troops will be giving the Prime Minister a rousing and grateful welcome as he moves around in their midst in the camp. "Darn right," Hillier bellowed when reporters asked if the troops would be glad to see Harper.

"Every soldier, sailor, airman, airwoman you talk to here is excited about their mission," said Hillier. "They're proud to be here. They believe they're doing something fundamentally good. They're delighted to represent our country and they're doing the kind of professional job that I know our Prime Minister will see ... in the next hours and days."

This is also Harper's first trip abroad as prime minister and the symbolism is intentional. The Canadian mission in Afghanistan is growing more controversial as the troop commitment — and the danger — has grown in recent weeks.
I have had to give my head a few shakes whenever I hear mentioned the allegedly growing controversy concerning the Canadian forces deployment in Afghanistan. Where were you people in October 2001 when Canadian forces were committed to their first deployed in Afghanistan? Five years later and now you have finally come up with something to say? If after five years you think there should be a debate now; let’s at least frame it right.

We are not in Afghanistan as a result of some Cheney/Bush oil consortium demand. We are in Afghanistan as a direct result to our NATO commitments, and furthermore, the mission is sanctioned by the United Nations. The debate cannot be about whether or not Canadian troops should be deployed in Afghanistan but whether Canada should continue to honour its NATO commitments. But I suspect that is one debate Jack Layton would not want to lead. For all those with early one set Alzheimer’s or incredibly poor memories read this piece at the Torch to clear the air.

Bet you did not see the trial ending in this way

The preliminary results of an autopsy conducted on Slobodan Milosevic has been released and the official cause of death has been pronounced as heart failure. Say what you like, but, I prefer to think that I preceive to the hand of God in his death. The Lord stepped in and took him only because the International Court of Justice could not seem to find the will to bring to the close what has to have been the world’s longest trial for crimes against humanity – five years and counting with no end in sight.

This is grim news in an already grim region

Al Qaeda moves ever closer to a new theatre reports the Jerusalem Post:
Four Palestinians and four Lebanese nationals with suspected links to Al Qaida, who are believed to have been involved in rocket attacks on northern Israel in December, were recently arrested by Lebanese security officials. Lebanese media reports over the weekend revealed that the suspects were arrested by Lebanese Army Intelligence officials in various areas extending from Beirut to the Beka'a Valley and the south.

The Al Safir and The Daily Star newspapers, stated that a large stockpile of weapons, including missiles, rockets and explosives, that had been stashed in caves and on lands the suspects owned, were also seized. According to sources quoted in the newspapers, the Lebanese intelligence had been monitoring the network for some time after receiving tip off's regarding their activities. The investigation is still ongoing.

After the Al Qaida claimed responsibility for the December katyusha attacks on Kiryat Shomona, Shlomi and the western Galilee, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz declared the Israeli security establishment would closely monitor the situation in southern Lebanon. "In the past two years we have noticed that Al Qaida is focusing more and more on the Middle East and Israel," Mofaz told reporters while touring the northern border. "We are prepared to deal with that reality," he added. According to security officials, Palestinian terror factions operating in southern Lebanon assist Al Qaida operatives. At the time, Mofaz estimated that security assessments show that the situation is expected to become more complex in 2006.

The Hizbullah denied involvement in the December rocket attacks, and Israeli intelligence officials estimated that Ahmed Jabril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was responsible. Two days after the katyusha attacks, Al Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility, issuing a statement on an Islamic website, "The lion sons of Al Qaida launched a new attack on the Jewish state by launching ten missiles... from the Moslem lands in Lebanon on selected targets in the north of the Jewish state." Media reports in Lebanon claim that in recent months Lebanese officials have been alarmed over the influx of weapons from Syria that reach militant Palestinian groups based in the Beka'a Valley and the Na'ameh area south of Beirut.

It was just a few weeks ago the Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that there was suspected Al Qaeda activity in the Gaza Strip. No matter how you look at it this is bad news.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

And on the way home I bought more cheese & cookies

When I told my mother I was taking the tribe to their first rally today she was concerned that there was the possibility that the children might get hurt. I explained this rally was in support of Denmark and Free Speech. There would be no flag burning or rock throwing, and the only sign that hinted at potential violence read Behead All Those Who Insult Havarti. No one got offside even when Relapsed Catholic started to shout Cuba Libre in response to a speech from a man representing the Communist Party of Iran.

The Globe and Mail has carried a report of the story here. Winston at The Spirit of Man has posted pictures from today’s rally. The Last Amazon was captured frowning but I won’t tell you where – she wants to maintain her anonymity. Personally, I have always found sunglasses more effective.

In the end only one of the tribe begged off. The Man felt it was necessary to do his part to preserve the dignity and honour of couch potatoes everywhere by staying in his pj’s to watch Kung Fu flicks. Though he did say we can count him in when the beheading/shooting starts but until then it’s Girl on the Right that has hit the mark.

What will be his campaign slogan – Every Other day in Canada should be a Bob Rae Day?

I realize that almost everyone and their mother in this country has declined to run for leadership of the Liberal party but if Bob Rae puts his name into the ring I might be tempted to join the Liberal party just so that I can be eligible to make a run for the leadership of the Liberal party. Actually, maybe I should start a campaign to draft Occam’s Carbuncle for leader.

I remember the age of the Bob Rae days all too well, and frankly, I don’t relish a return. The thought of Bob Rae being elected as leader of the Liberal party and possibly being elected to govern Canada is the stuff of nightmares. When Bob Rae was elected premier of Ontario his government instituted days where civil servants had to work for free as part of his government austerity program. I would hate to see what he would do when the entire country was at his mercy.

I already bought the cookies and the cheese so why not hold a sign?

So what exactly are the tribe and I doing on the second day of our March Break? We are going to the Danish Consulate (151 Bloor Street West) in Toronto from noon to 1:30pm to show our support. Besides it makes a better what did you do on your March Break story and the Last Amazon is feeling positively militant.

(Via Relapsed Catholic for the suggestion)

My Womb Is Not At Service to the State

My children are long past the daycare age. I can’t say I am sorry to see that aspect of their lives end. I have been relatively silent on the daycare debate. Largely because I have nothing new to bring to the debate. I have some wonderful daycare experiences and also a few nightmares. I have had horrendous experiences with relatives or people who came highly recommended by friends of relatives caring for my children. I have two wonderful experiences of people who were absolute strangers to me when they answered my ad and were wonderful substitutes for me. If I were to ask the children what was their best memory of caregivers the institutional daycare side would loose hands down which might not be entirely fair, but the bad definitely negated any of the fun they did have in daycare.

Last fall a British study was released that suggested that institutional daycare might not be the emotionally healthy place we were once assured it was. Drawing on my own experience the worst childcare scenarios I experienced were daycare centres run by the municipality which really should not be a surprise to anyone. The best were run by private community groups.

For almost four years I was a stay at home mom when circumstances conspired against my ability to stay at home with my children. One thing that we should keep clearly in our minds is that there is no one, absolutely no one, who has a bigger stake in the welfare of a child then its parents. No one is going to love your child as much as you do. Not the state, not the centre, and not your hired caregiver. Never presume the values you hold dear will be cherished by others no matter what lip service a center or person gives you.

Even if you choose an institutional setting for childcare you cannot get away from the fact that you still have to have in place emergency child care arrangements for when your child is ill. If Johnny or Susie is running a slight fever from the frequent colds young children are prone too - which won’t necessarily slow them down; working parents have to face a decision to either stay home and possibly endanger their employment situation or have someone who is competent to care for a child whose fever could potentially come worse or not; and that is another potentially expensive cost.

If you were to ask couples what was the biggest impediment to either having children or having more children, I would lay money on the hassle and costs associated with finding affordable child care outside of the home. I don’t have a study to prove it, but that is the sum of my experience and I am not talking diapers, baby formula or the cost of a snowsuit and winter boots. What would have helped me as a working parent in providing care for my children? Lower taxes. The government has so completely mauled my paycheque with its standard deductions that it severely lowered my options and affected the bread and butter quality of my family’s life. Let’s not even whisper the annual rite of self-flagellation the government requires in April – I haven’t mentally prepared myself for that experience yet.

I am not sure why people even want to consider a universal system of daycare for children, our most vulnerable of citizens. If the government cannot run healthcare or a thing as simple as a gun registry in budget; is this the institution to trust to run a universal system of daycare? And frankly, the idea of the government having potentially 8-9 hours of unlimited access to indoctrinate my child scares the hell out of me. My womb is not at service to the state.

Stephen Harper’s CPC ran an election campaign that included a beer and popcorn proposal to give a tax credit to families of young children to offset some of those costs for all parents under school age. It’s simply a half-step in the right direction for allowing parents the ability to put a little bread and butter quality choice back into their child care options. Let me put it another way. The proposal is aimed at giving back some of the money the state appropriates regularly from those who are parents of young children. Opposition MPs and senators are threatening to impede or even derail this piece of legislation. Follow this link for more information on what action you can take to help keep senators and MPs on track.

(Via The Sorry Centrist)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I really have been earning my holiday

The last few days have been very heretic at work and at the home front. At work, I have been busy tying up loose ends and attempting to teach a temp to cover basics of my job so that I can go on holiday without being hassled at home. It hasn’t gone well. I regularly update my job manual and have re-written it just a gazillion times in the ongoing futile effort to make it as idiot proof as possible. I have discovered two new truth maxims. There are no appreciable limits to idiocy and temps don’t read manuals. A temp will never miss an opportunity to stand there and meltdown publicly rather than look for a solution in a well indexed colour coded manual that requires that the skill of reading be utilized.

On the home front, the oldest son has discovered Aerosmith and is attempting to learn “Dude looks like a Lady” in preparation for his longed foray into the musical world of electric guitars. I never really appreciated how loud an acoustic guitar can be, nor how annoying it can be to listen to the same song over and over again – at all hours of the day and night. My ears are aching and the mind is numbing. I am tempted to re-think the whole electric thingie.

But I see that I am not the only one suffering from brain burnout. Ynet News Online carries this article on a truly revolutionary poll undertaken to discover if Arab Israelis will be voting for Zionist based political parties. Save yourself the time it takes to click into the article and use your common sense. The only interesting part is that support was one time as high as 30% and has now dropped to 16%. Talk about a slow news day.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gitmo Detainees Don't All Want to Go Home

In a moment of extreme irony there are some current prisoners of Gitmo Bay who don’t want to go home and instead wish to seek political asylum according to this report from CNN:
The prisoner from a western region of China faced serious accusations as he appeared before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. But he had a much more pressing issue on his mind: Where he might go if he were released.If he were sent back to China, he might be executed, the man, identified only as Mahmut, told the panel at the start of his hearing, according to a transcripts released by the Pentagon. "I do not want repatriation and am seeking political asylum," he said. His fear, according to a review of dozens of other transcripts from hearings at the prison in eastern Cuba, was not uncommon among the detainees.

Prisoners from Uzbekistan, Yemen, Algeria, and other nations told tribunals that they or their families could be tortured or killed if they are sent home. Some detainees worry about reprisals from militants who will suspect them of cooperating with U.S. authorities in its war on terror. Others say their own governments may target them for reasons that have nothing to do with why they were taken to Guantanamo Bay in the first place.

A man from Syria who was detained along with his father pleaded with the tribunal for help getting them political asylum -- in any country that will take them."You've been saying 'terrorists, terrorists.' If we return, whether we did something or not, there's no such things as human rights. We will be killed immediately," he said. "You know this very well." The U.S. has released or transferred 267 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and has announced plans to do the same with at least 123 more in the future.

It is impossible to know how many of the detainees, most held for years now without being charged, fear going home. The U.S. military does not comment on individual cases, and the detainees generally are not in a position to offer any evidence of persecution as they plead their cases before the tribunals.

A Saudi identified only as Yasim, who said he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and was jailed in his country for selling drugs, told the tribunal that after being repeatedly interrogated at Guantanamo, he fears his fellow prisoners as well as others back in Saudi Arabia."I can't go back to my country. I have been threatened to be killed by many people," he said according to the transcripts, which the Pentagon released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit filed by The Associated Press.

A detainee from Uzbekistan told the tribunals in December 2004 that his father and uncles were jailed for their Muslim faith in his native country and said he fears the rest of his family would be tortured if he returned. The prisoner shrugged off the threat to his own safety in Uzbekistan, where the government has clamped down on Islamic groups which are not sanctioned by the state."I'm not afraid to die. We all belong to Allah and we shall return to him," he said.

This Uzbek's fate is unknown, as is that of almost every other detainee whose names are no longer blacked out when they appear in the hearing transcripts. The Bush administration has not said who has been held in the prison it opened in January 2002, and does not announce when or where individual detainees are released. What the Pentagon has said is that 187 prisoners have been released, and 80 others have been transferred to prisons in more than a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Russia, Bahrain and Pakistan. An unknown number of these prisoners were later released, but many languish in other jails, again without charges, let alone trials."We have no authority to tell another government what they are going to do with a detainee," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico told the AP a year ago when asked about dozens of Pakistani prisoners transferred home for continued detention.

The personal threats detainees may face after leaving Guantanamo Bay pose a human rights challenge to the United States, which has stopped bringing new prisoners to the camp and is under international pressure to close it altogether.

I can’t wait for the solution that the peace camp activists will propose.

Not the most auspices beginning

A rocky start to the first session of the Hamas led Palestinian Authority reports the Jerusalem Post:

The new Hamas controlled parliament on Monday voted in favor of cutting the powers of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, triggering a major confrontation with Abbas's Fatah party. Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, accused Hamas of trying to stage a coup against the PA chairman. "Hamas is trying to change the regime in Palestine," he said. "We urge Hamas to reconsider its tactics which jeopardize national unity."

The crisis, the worst between the two Hamas and Fatah since the Islamic movement scored a landslide victory in last January's parliamentary election, erupted when the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC], which held a session here and in Gaza City through videophone, decided to cancel a number of legislations taken by the previous council after the parliamentary election.

Angry Fatah legislators in Gaza City stormed out of the chamber in protest upon learning that the council was about to cancel the legislations. Later, dozens of Fatah gunmen marched toward the PLC building in Gaza City, firing into the air and calling on their party not to join a Hamas-led cabinet.

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah bloc in parliament, said the Fatah legislators would not attend future meetings until Hamas respects the rule of law. "Hamas does not want to resolve this crisis," he said. "We have been trying to negotiate with them, but they don't want to listen. They only want to impose their will on everyone. This is undemocratic."

It will be an amazing feat if this legislative council passes any legislation that does not led to the spilling of blood.

Saudi Hosts

So now we know how much the word of the Saudis are worth. Last November the Saudis made a commitment that it would no longer participate in the Arab boycott of Israel in order to receive membership in the World Trade Organization. The Jerusalem Post is reporting this:
Despite a promise made to Washington last November to drop its economic boycott of Israel, Saudi Arabia plans to host a major international conference next week aimed at promoting a continued trade embargo on the Jewish state, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The Post also found that the kingdom continues to prohibit entry to products made in Israel or to foreign-made goods containing Israeli components, in violation of pledges made by senior Saudi officials to the Bush administration last year.

"Next week, we will hold the ninth annual meeting for the boycott of Israel here in Jidda," Ambassador Salem el-Honi, high commissioner of the Organization for the Islamic Conference's (OIC) Islamic Office for the Boycott of Israel, said in a telephone interview. "All 57 OIC member states will attend, and we will discuss coordination among the various offices to strengthen the boycott," he said, noting that the meeting is held every March. The OIC, consisting of 57 Muslim countries, is based in Jidda, as is its boycott office.

Honi, a former Saudi diplomat, has headed the boycott office for the past four years. The scheduled gathering is listed on the OIC's official Web site in a section entitled "Provisional Calendar of Meetings." Hamed Salah a-Din, of the OIC General Secretariat, confirmed in a telephone interview that the conference would take place from March 13 to 15, describing it as "our regular annual meeting about the boycott." The Saudi decision to host the parley appears to run counter to assurances that Riyadh gave the Bush administration when Saudi Arabia was seeking entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

On November 11, the WTO's ruling general council voted to grant Saudi Arabia entry into the prestigious group, which aims to promote international free trade, after it agreed to scrap restrictions on doing business with Israel. Christin Baker, the assistant US trade representative for public and media affairs, told the Post via e-mail that the US had "ensured that Saudi Arabia in its recent accession to the WTO has taken on all rights and obligations with respect to all WTO members, including Israel.

"Saudi Arabia," she said, "did not invoke the non-application provisions of the WTO agreement with respect to any member," meaning that it must treat all members equally, "including Israel." Likewise, in hearings last month before the US Senate Finance Committee, US trade representative Rob Portman insisted that the Saudis "have a responsibility to treat Israel as any other member of the WTO."
"We've received assurances from Saudi Arabia," Portman said in separate testimony before the US House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee. "They will abide by their WTO commitments."

Nonetheless, the Post has found, Saudi customs officials continue to enforce the boycott, asserting that no Israeli-made goods be allowed into the country.

This boycott of Israel has been going on for longer than I have lived and I cannot see it ending until there is a total revolution in thinking in the Arab world and because the boycott can draw on religious justification for its existence there will be no end as long as religion dictates governance in Arab world.

Monday, March 06, 2006

High time for the Reformation to come of age in Hollywood

Sunday is typically family movie night with the Tribe and last night the boys inflicted Constantine on me. I was held captive by my own set of values of what a good mother is suppose to do. I really need to double check the manual and see if there is an escape clause for demon movies nulling all the obligations of motherhood that requires that I sit there relatively passively. I was suitably irked by the whole concept of demonology so that the blessed big sleep couldn’t overtake me. While watching the movie what struck me as odd is that all these demon/devil films pit Catholics against the Devil/demons types.

Just why is it that Catholics are perceived by Hollywood as the last bastion of hope against the Dark? Where are the Baptists, Lutherans or the Pentecostals? I can understand there being no Presbyterians as the upper echelon of leadership of the USA Presbyterian Church seems to be on a mission to sanctify a number of very human monsters but really where are the other Protestants? Every notice that the devil/demon character types get a real hard on for either fallen or ex-priests? I have yet to see a demon/devil in a movie get very excited about the prospecting of receiving the soul of a United Church pastor.

The only partial exception I can think of is the Left Behind movies but as I have yet to see one I can’t vouch for any Baptists going head for head and battling Beelzebud with dragon’s breathe firing out of some kind of crucifixion gun. I know what my parish priest would say but anyone got an answer? I think the Protestants have a legimate case to be made against Hollywood.

Oscar Mania dies at my door

I don’t think I have watched the Oscars since I was ten and I make no claim on being trendy or upbeat. Nor do I consider it a pull to have Jon Steward hosting but some film called Crash won and I didn’t even know it was in the running. Something about race relations in Los Angeles and all I can think is how very Rodney King of them. Even the Last Amazon hasn’t seen it who watches practically everything released. Do real people outside of the Hollywood bubble still think the Oscar’s are relevant?

The last Oscar winning film I saw was the Aviator and I saw it before it won an Oscar. I thought the beginning and the end were okay and I had a very satisfying nap in the middle. I keep meaning to watch the middle of it to see if I missed anything but I fall asleep every time I tried. Personally, my favourite film of the year didn’t even get nominated but lucky for me I was able to pick up a copy of Serenity for $10. It’s all good.