Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Officer School

Time for a pure propaganda piece and I found it in the Jerusalem Post:
Young cadets carry briefcases as they rush to computer labs, Hebrew classes and conflict resolution drills. They are the vanguard of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' campaign to prevent the West Bank from falling to Hamas. The just-opened officers' school is part of Abbas' new security plan to keep the Islamic militants on the defensive, and to reassure Israel and the US that he's strong enough to carry out a peace deal. The first 142 officers will graduate in eight months, returning to their old units with new expertise that Mideast peacemakers hope will help end the chaos reigning on Palestinian streets.

With their new skills - including Hebrew to communicate with Israeli counterparts - they are to bring a sense of professionalism to Abbas' security forces, whose poor training and conflicting loyalties contributed to the fall of Gaza to Hamas in June. The US, meanwhile, has earmarked $86 million in security support for Abbas, and some of that will go to three other training centers in Jericho.

Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza raised questions about Abbas' ability to hang on to the West Bank, where Hamas also made strong gains with a popular network of schools, clinics and charities. Many Palestinians said at the time that Abbas' control does not extend beyond the quiet, middle-class town of Ramallah, his seat of government.

But four months later, Abbas' countermeasures are taking shape: He's closed dozens of Hamas charities, fired Hamas preachers, arrested hundreds of Hamas activists, including many gunmen, confiscated weapons and last weekend issued an anti-money laundering decree meant to dry up millions of dollars in donations from abroad.
The test case for the security plan is Nablus, the West Bank's second-largest city with 170,000 and a Hamas stronghold. "We defeated Hamas," said the local intelligence chief, Abdullah Kmeil, representing a new generation of Palestinian officers that is as comfortable with a laptop as with a Kalashnikov. "They (Hamas militants) can't come back at all."

Sheik Maher Kharas, a Hamas leader and preacher in Nablus, acknowledged that his group has been weakened by the recent clampdown, the toughest since 1996 when then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ordered hundreds of Islamic militants arrested following a bombing spree against Israeli civilians.

However, Kharas, who was briefly detained by Palestinian intelligence earlier this month, said Hamas is strong enough to ride out the storm. Hamas leaders have decided not to fight Abbas' security forces, because such a confrontation would be pointless and only cost the group popular support, said Kharas.

Hamas leaders in Gaza are much more belligerent, saying a Hamas takeover of the West Bank is inevitable. Nizar Rayan, a leading Hamas militant, told a Gaza rally on Monday that one day, Hamas activists will pray in Abbas' West Bank headquarters. "In the autumn, the leaves fall, and Abbas will fall," he said.

Still, Israeli security forces are deployed throughout the West Bank, carrying out nightly arrest raids, and their presence would make a Hamas takeover attempt extremely unlikely. In Gaza, Hamas only carried out its assault on Abbas' security installations two years after Israel's pullout from the territory.

Abbas' security plan is not just a way of keeping Hamas at bay. He expects it to give him leverage in his dealings with Israel, especially in the run-up to a US-hosted Mideast conference in Annapolis, Md. later this fall. Starting with Nablus, Abbas wants Israeli troops to withdraw gradually from West Bank towns where Palestinian security forces are re-establishing control. The Palestinians also argue that while they have made progress in meeting their security obligations, Israel has done very little to keep its promises to the US, such as freezing settlements and removing illegal outposts.

Israel, which has frequently raided West Bank population centers since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, in response to attacks by Palestinian terrorists, has balked at loosening the reins, saying it can't gamble with its security.

Palestinians can take over territory only if they "demonstrate an ability to exert effective security control over those areas, and for Israel that means foiling terror attacks and maintaining order," said Israeli government spokesman David Baker. "They have quite a way to go before the Palestinian forces are indeed performing at that level," he added.

On Tuesday, Abbas' security chief, Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, took 20 European consuls on a tour of Nablus, where Hamas won control of the city council in 2005, but has since been largely stripped of its influence. "What happened in Gaza definitely won't happen here," Yehiyeh said, adding that he expects Israeli forces to halt its arrest raids once some 500 more Palestinian officers are deployed in Nablus next week.

Somebody needs to tell it to the boss because he seems to be operating on a different paradigm.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The internet is a very, very, small place

Apparently, my two cents was included in September/October edition of the The Samaritan Update. I certainly had no idea the Samaritan community was on the web. I love the internet. I really do.

Conservative hidden agenda

This isn’t the first time I have read about something which should have made news in the major Canadian dailies but didn’t - as far as I can tell. I am always amazed when I have to read an Israeli paper to find out what my federal ministers are up to. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
In a further step toward security cooperation between Canada and Israel, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter met Monday in Toronto with his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Stockwell Day. Following the meeting, Dichter and Day announced that they would accelerate negotiations toward the signing of a mutual cooperation agreement on homeland security.

The two signed an interim agreement through which, in the upcoming week, three teams will be established to enable cooperation in the fields of combating terror, fighting crime, and border security. Later, the two ministries will work to iron out details involving the final cooperation agreement, culminating in the signing of a joint agreement.

During the Toronto meeting, Dichter and Day exchanged updates on matters of mutual interest and sought to identify methods to improve the implementation of the bilateral cooperation between the two ministries. They also agreed to work to identify options for direct communication in order to maximize the
exchange of information, technology and operational activity. The two also reviewed the activities of parallel ministry bodies in terms of both administrative management as well as local activity in confronting homeland security issues.

Who knew??? Certainly not the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star.

Palestinian civilians trumph Sderot school children

Apparently, the lights will not be turned off in Gaza in response to kassam fire the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip reports the Jerusalem Post:
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Monday rejected for the time being the Defense Ministry's intention of causing power shortages in the Gaza Strip as a punitive measure for rocket attacks against Israeli communities, the Justice Ministry announced. The decision was made at the end of a late evening meeting attended by Mazuz, State Attorney Eran Shendar, other top Justice Ministry officials, representatives of the Military Advocate-General's department, legal advisers from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister Office and the National Security Council and others.

Mazuz gave the green light for various economic sanctions including cutting economic and commercial ties with the Gaza Strip. However, as far as the army and defense ministry's intention of cutting power supplies to Gaza was concerned, Mazuz said more planning work had to be done before the decision could be carried out. This, "in order to look into the possibility of implementing the measure so that it would be in keeping with the government's decision [of Sept. 19.] That decision restricted sanctions so that they would not cause humanitarian harm to the civilian population."

But it is okay to cause harm to civilian Israeli school children. Self-defense – no. Collective Suicide – Yes. Glad that’s cleared up. In other news today, Israeli Arabs riot in Northern Israel when police attempt to arrest culprits for setting fire to cellular antennas.

Damned if you, damned if you don't

Yesterday, PA Chairman announced Hamas was ripe to take over the West Bank. Today I read in the Jerusalem Post the Palestinian Authority is set to axe 30,000 PA police men in the name of reform:
The Palestinian Authority government is planning to cut the number of policemen in the West Bank by half, officials in Ramallah said over the weekend. The decision was in the context of the PA government's efforts to reconstruct and reform the Fatah-controlled security forces, the officials explained.

But the move, which will leave about 30,000 policemen unemployed, has drawn sharp criticism from some Fatah leaders and security officials, who warned over the weekend that it would trigger a "revolt" against the PA leadership and destabilize security in the West Bank. A senior Fatah official said that it was "inconceivable" that the PA would reduce the number of its policemen while Hamas was recruiting more men to its security forces in the Gaza Strip. "I don't know whose idea this is, but it's a very dangerous one that will only weaken Fatah in the West Bank," he said. "Instead of getting rid of the policemen, we should be looking for more to join our security forces."

The PA security forces have some 80,000 men and women on their payroll. However, it is estimated that nearly half of them don't report to work and actually have no real jobs.

The PA has an unusually high ratio of security forces to civilians. Agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel in 1994 and 1995 limited the PA security forces to some 30,000. Under pressure from the US and EU, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad recently agreed to reduce the number of policemen in the West Bank by half. Previous attempts by the PA leadership to lay off thousands of policemen were called off for fear of a mutiny inside the Palestinian security services.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I don’t blog weekends anymore - make of it what you will. I find it quite extraordinary that I can sit down on my computer after an extended hiatus from not just blogging, but news as well, and find not a great deal has changed.

Here’s what I think have missed or not. Friday night blues was postponed and it messed with my whole vibe thing. Damn all spammers/hackers and other assorted cybernutroots.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas claims Hamas is threatening to take over the West Bank.

Larissa Trimbobler, the weird wife of Yigal Amir, gives birth to a son. I just don’t understand why a woman would willingly marry a man in jail for life and then deliberately having herself impregnanted. Because of Larissa, I have made a special point of mentioning to the Last Amazon that men in jail or with criminal records should never be considered part of her dating pool. This suggestion caused the Last Amazon’s eyebrows to rise and question my general sanity for thinking she needed this warning.

The Israeli cabinet decided to cut off electricity and fuel to the Gaza Strip every time a kassam landed in Israel but to date the cabinet appears unsure on what year Israel will implantment this new policy. Meanwhile Israeli “human rights for everyone but Jews” groups in Israel have petition the Israeli high court to ensure the switch is never pulled on the Gaza Strip.

Then I decided to peruse the Drudge Report and I find this report:
The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist. 100,000 years into the future, sexual selection could mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed.
The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000.

Count on Drudge to go all brave new world.

And closer to home, the Toronto Star reports CUPE union is going to utilize its considerable war chest to fight the opening of private daycare centres. I am so glad I don't have a child young enough to be in this fight.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My retailing hero

One Canadian bookseller obviously gets it. Too bad he’s in Ottawa. Taken from the Toronto Star.
With the Canadian dollar worth more than the U.S. dollar, retailer Christopher Smith has a popular promotion. He's letting customers pay the U.S. price on anything he sells that has both prices printed on it.

Suppose a book, greeting card or toy sells for $19.95 (U.S.) and $24.95 (Canadian). His customers can buy the product for $19.95 in Canadian dollars."People have been saying to me, `When are the prices going to change?' I've been patiently educating customers that it takes a while," says Smith at his Ottawa bookstore, Collected Works.

"But you get to the point where you stop educating consumers and begin boring them. It became inexcusable when our dollar approached and then hit par with the U.S. dollar. Their eyes would glaze over." Store traffic has doubled since he started the promotion, which runs till the end of this year. And he's had lots of publicity – including CBC radio, where I heard him last week. "With books, it's so easy to sit down before your computer and buy online. What could I do? It was better to sell a little of something than nothing.

And shame on General Motors.

Religious denial

There is nothing new per say about religious denial but with the Palestinians it; gets taken to an entirely different level. The Jerusalem Post carries this report.
The former mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, has made the claim that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall was really part of a mosque. "There was never a Jewish temple on Al-Aksa [the mosque compound] and there is no proof that there was ever a temple," he told The Jerusalem Post via a translator. "Because Allah is fair, he would not agree to make Al-Aksa if there were a temple there for others beforehand."

Sabri rejected Judaism's claim to the Western Wall as part of the outer wall of the Second Temple. "The wall is not part of the Jewish temple. It is just the western wall of the mosque," he said. "There is not a single stone with any relation at all to the history of the Hebrews."

Asked if Jews would ever be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount under Muslim control, he replied: "It is not the Temple Mount, you must say Al-Aksa. And no Jews have the right to pray at the mosque. It was always only a mosque - all 144 dunams, the entire area. No Jewish prayer. If the Jews want real peace, they must not do anything to try to pray on Al-Aksa. Everyone knows that." "Zionism tries to trick the Jews claiming that this was part of a Jewish temple, but they dug there and they found nothing," Sabri added.

Why he doesn’t just take one little nudge further over the edge and just deny there never was any people called the Jews is beyond my ability to fathom.

Wearing a head scarf does not cause traffic accidents.

No one has ever accused the Israelis of being the most culturally sensitive people on the face of the earth but one of the things they have obviously got right is their sensibleness concerning the whole head scarf thingy on Muslim women. I read a minimum of three Israeli dailies and have been doing it for years and years, but I have yet to see the level vitriol and bile which comes into play concerning the dress (or lack of) in Muslim women which happens when it gets discussed in Canada.

If a woman believes it is her religious duty to swab herself from head to toe far be it from me to criticize her conscience and dictate her level of religious observance. It doesn’t mean I don’t think the whole body wrapped thing is not wacked, but let us not loose our reason over it. Furthermore, to suggest an accident is caused by a woman wearing a head scarf – we need to take a long pause before we go from the sublime into the outer edges of the absurd.

My grandmother had the biggest head scarves known to man and she worn them regularly when she drove her car. There wasn’t an Islamic bone in her body. Get a grip people as there isn’t a Mohammed hiding under every bed waiting to get you when the lights go out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Count me in

with Jim on this one.

And maybe Diane Brisebois, paid head stooge of the Retail Council of Canada, can explain just how is it Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows cost more at than it does at

Let’s just not blame the publisher for this one, Of course I would also to suggest that when a publisher offers a “suggested retail price” it does not oblige any book retailer to sell at that publisher’s suggested retail price – operative word here being “suggested”.

But I would really love to hear the Retail Council of Canada’s justification for this little online retailing disparity – Just why does offer free shipping when its US online customers spend at least US$25 but makes its online retail customers buy at least Cdn$39 worth of goods to get $6 worth of free shipping?

Can Steve Jobs say price parity????

According to this Globe and Mail article Apple's iPhone is rumoured for a January 2008 rollout date in Canada, but it is this reference to the alleged value of the iPhone that made my jaw drop:
It looks like Apple Inc.'s iPhone may soon be headed to Canada, although not in time for the holidays.

Molson Dry beer is giving away iPhones, valued at $800, as one of a number of prizes in a marketing contest. The rules note that the iPhones will only be available as of January 2008 on the wireless network of Rogers Communications Inc. While winners will get the cool new cellphones for free, they will need to pay for the service themselves.

Apple's iPhone retails for US$399.00 so can I hear someone say price parity? Speaking of parity, just when will Canadian Apple stores drop their prices to reflect the power of the Canadian dollar? And don't even bother trying to tell that doing business in the Big Apple costs less than the Centre of the Universe cause I know you are lying.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I blame the vegans

Drudge is carrying this article about wild turkeys invading Massachusetts suburbia:
The turkeys are spreading through suburbia. Wild turkeys, once eliminated in Massachusetts, are flourishing from Plymouth to Concord and - to the surprise of some wildlife officials - making forays into densely populated suburban and urban areas, including parts of Boston, Cambridge and, most recently, Brookline.

Some Brookline residents have welcomed the birds, happy to see wildlife strolling amid the nannies with $300 strollers and Trader Joe's shoppers. But many others worry what the keen-eyed, sometimes ornery birds might do, prompting as many as a dozen calls to the police department every day.

"Some people are getting very upset," said Brookline police animal control officer Pierre Verrier. "One of the biggest things is, they're afraid. They don't want the turkeys to get hurt. And the other thing is, they're afraid of the turkeys around their children. They don't know what they'll do."

As such, Brookline police issued a statement last month, telling residents what they should - or should not - do if they meet a wild turkey in town. The basic advice: stay away from the turkeys. But still, people keep calling police headquarters to report the strangest sight: Turkeys in downtown Brookline.


July 20, 9:31 a.m., Rawson Road: Caller reports 18 turkeys in her backyard. "Something must be done," caller says. "It's just not right." Requests animal control officer.
What surprised me, was not that animal biologists had managed to bring the wild turkey population back from the brink of extinction, but that people would see the wild turkeys in the street and not think automatically "dinner". If I found 18 wild turkeys (bottled or not) rounding around the backyard I would not be calling for animal controller officer and/or lamenting "something must be done". I would know exactly what had to be done.

the barrage continues

And just because kassams are not front page or even b-section news, don’t think for a minute that kassams are not being launched into Israel via the Gaza Strip: Ynet News:
A Qassam rocket fired by Palestinians in northern Gaza Tuesday landed near a strategic installation near Ashkelon's southern industrial zone. Three more rockets landed near the western Negev city of Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported in the attack.

Around 8 am Tueday morning, the "Color Red" alert system was activated in the Sderot area, and three loud explosions were heard in the city shortly thereafter. A half-hour later another rocket was fired toward Ashkelon.

That was Tuesday am. Here’s how Monday started:
Palestinians in north Gaza fired six Qassam rockets toward the western Negev on Monday. No injuries were reported. The al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility for the attacks. "The barrage was part of our decision to point our weapons only toward Israel," the group said in a statement.

We stand on guard for denial

When incidents like this one happen, it causes me to pause and reflect – shouldn’t there be a better use of my tax dollars than helping to prop up old style prejudice? Then I think, isn’t this where my government, ahem, Prime Minister needs to step up to the plate and tell the Afghans what side of bias we firmly stand? And I wait but I hear nothing more than the sound of silence….

A new twist on short man’s syndrome.

This study, as sensationalized by the Toronto Star, has breached new lows in the search for responsible journalism in the centre of the universe:
Pedophiles are significantly shorter on average than men who are attracted to adults, according to a new study out of Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Similar height differences can be found in men who crave sex with pubescent teenagers, say study researchers, who speculate the link between stature and pedophilia might be traced to conditions in the womb.

The study – which looked at 1,200 men, most of whom were assessed for sexual disorders between 1995 and 2006 at the centre – was published yesterday in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. It found pedophiles were 2 cm shorter than the average Canadian man, who stands 178 cm or 5 feet 10 inches tall, a statistically significant difference.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Heat alert

For some insane reason, which I have yet to fully comprehend, my landlord has insisted on having the rads fully open and having the furnace run full blast. Did I mention outside temperature is over 24 Celsius? So much for living in the Great White North.

It’s hard to think, let alone type or blog in this inferno, so until the weather or my landlord cooperates with my physical need for cool air - blogging will be light. But this Jerusalem Post article suggesting that the US is pressuring Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to appoint Mohammed Dahlan, (the Fatah Gaza Strongman who let the Gaza Strip fall to Hamas), his deputy and logical successor did catch my eye:
The Bush administration is exerting heavy pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to appoint senior Fatah figure Muhammad Dahlan as his deputy, sources in Ramallah said Sunday. According to the sources, Abbas has rejected the US demand, triggering a crisis with Washington. They said tensions between Abbas and Dahlan had escalated over the past few weeks after the latter criticized the PA president's performance.

Sources close to Abbas told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masriyoon that Dahlan had been inciting Fatah cadres in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against Abbas. They said the Egyptian government was now trying to prevent further deterioration. Egyptian mediators, they added, were expected to visit Ramallah soon to discuss ways of resolving the crisis.

Dahlan, a former Fatah security commander in the Gaza Strip, has come under criticism from several of the movement's leaders for failing to prevent the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip last June. According to the leaders, Dahlan and his followers in the Strip had received millions of dollars and weapons from the US and other countries to undermine Hamas before the takeover - a claim Dahlan has strongly denied. Some Fatah officials said over the weekend that the US and some EU countries had made it clear they would like to see Dahlan succeed Abbas as head of the PA.

I have almost become immune to the Bush Administrations inability to pick a winning Palestinian fraction. If this wasn’t bad enough - apparently things are not going to well between Abbas and US approved Palestinian Prime Minister either.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why you should read me on the GOP

rather than Tim Harper at the Toronto Star? I have a better track record for picking winners and separating the wheat from the chaff.

Case in point, this article from Tim Harper at the Toronto Star writing about the Value Voters Summit of the GOP. Harper devotes approximately one sentence at the end of this piece to the man who stole the show and carried a very close decimal second to the GOP front-runner. And I quote -
Though none too popular on site, Romney's heavy online support gave him a narrow victory over former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister.

But I guess writing a scare piece suggesting that the so-con and evangelical element of the GOP have no natural candidates makes for better copy - even if nothing could be further from the truth.

The Other Guy from Hope

I know the policy wanks and politicos all want to think elections are all about platforms, platforms, platforms but nothing can be further from the truth. Most voters will not take the time to learn half the party platform and any party is lucky if the gist of one or two points register, for good or ill, on any given voter’s mind. It’s all about how a candidate presents and the emotional context or quality for those brief moments when a voter’s attention is captured by a candidate.

Canadian politicos should think back to the alleged hidden agenda concept the Liberals have created in the mind of the Canadian body politic. It hasn’t mattered what published platform agenda the Conservative party publishes or what level of depravity the Liberals are caught indulging in; the Conservatives still have yet to a capture the majority vote. And it’s the fear of a “hidden agenda” which holds the crowd of maddening voters back.

I have this theory about the US electorate. The country seems to be fairly well divided between Democrats & Republicans…we saw this in play during the Bush/Kerry 2004 race. There are only two ways a candidate for the presidency can carry the vote. The candidate must be appealing enough to motivate his base to turn out the vote while enticing a small percentage of the other guy’s side to vote against their natural inclination. The other way to win the White House is to pray the other guys choose a presidential nomination which polarizes and/or repels at least a third of their own party to stay home on Election Day and/or motivates the “other” guy’s to switch teams.

The Democrats have two choices for the presidential nomination. Obama and Hillary. If Obama did not present as a personable educated black male there would be absolutely nothing to talk about which leaves Hillary - who can be a very risky choice depending on who the Republicans elect. Hillary can motivate her side and while she is a polarizing figure for the Republicans, she isn’t within her own party. If she wins the nomination even the nut-root wing of the Democratic Party will fall 100% behind her to get out the vote.

The question becomes can Hillary entice enough Republican voters to cast a ballot her way on Election Day? In other words what’s her real pull factor? I’d say it was practically null unless the Republicans really drop the ball and choose a nomination which alienates or divides their party and has minimal pull factor with democrats. For the Republicans 2008 is their election to lose.

The alleged top tier contender is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Romney can raise money, and is a relative conservative but he is dogged by the perception he is a flip-flopper on social conservative issues like abortion and gay marriage. Then there is the fact he is a practicing Mormon. Go ahead and go all JFK on me but at least RC was within the traditional Christian community. In most American minds Mormonism is not even a close second to Christian orthodoxy. Religion might not matter in places like Massachusetts, (home of the nut-roots and the electorate which continues to defy human reason and return Ted Kennedy again, and again, to the Senate) but it does to the rest of the country. America is not Europe. Mormonism is perceived as something separate and apart from Christianity in most American minds and is seen not much better than Scientology. The average American is about as likely to vote a Scientologist into the White House as a Mormon. Just stop and think for a moment, how many times and how many Americans have closed the doors on uninvited Mormons who have come to proselytize at their doors? You cannot buy that kind of bad pr.

The average southern republican will listen politely to Romney speak and say he has a point but will instinctively squirm at the idea of voting of actually voting him into office. Elect Romney and the base will stay home in droves on Election Day.

I am not even taking into account what the nut-root wing of the Democratic Party will do if Romney wins the nomination. From the funny underwear to the rather ambivalent LDS positions on race every nut-root and their momma will hit a bull’s-eye.

Mormons can stand at every corner of America and shut about a belief in equality but if you think for a minute that any person of colour in America will vote for a man whose church sanctioned until the eighties the concept of equating spiritual purity with skin colour - you are a raging idiot. Wait till you see the commercials. And how can you carry the South when every black Baptist minister turns his back on you? Romney cannot carry the South, and if a candidate cannot carry the South, there is no presidency. You better believe Hillary is saying her prayers every night before she sleeps for a Romney win.

Senator John McCain is a decent man but his well-known positions on immigration/ illegal aliens have estranged him with not only his base but a significant portion of
Democratic Party as well. Couple that in with his hawkish position on Iraq and he has alienated the other side of the democrat divide. McCain has no pull factor. Zilch. McCain wins the nomination, bet on the Republicans going down in defeat in November 2008.

Rudy Giuliani, America’s favourite mayor. While I admit Rudy has a significant pull factor among Democrats he is not a big favourite among the social conservative republican base. His well-known stands on abortion, gay marriage and immigration put him directly and actively opposed to all the issues closest to the so-con heart. Not only that, but the judgment he has exercised in his personal life is repugnant to most so-cons. Rudy wins, the soc-cons stay home in record numbers and/or change sides. So Hillary moves into the White House; though, I would bet the debates could get very entertaining in a very vicious kind of way.

Fred Thompson. How boring, tired and old do you want to be? Thompson only excites political republican journalists while he puts everyone else to sleep. He needs to keep his day job of pretending to be other people with character.

So much for the top tier of republican candidates. So is there any republican candidate who can motivate republican voters and steal voters shamelessly among Democrats? Yep, there’s one. Mike Huckabee, the other guy from Hope, Arkansas and former three time governor of Arkansas. He has a rather stellar record for a governor in a non-nut-root kind of state way, but at the same time, he is just nanny-state enough for the average democrat to feel comfortable with him. He is the weakest on foreign policy and presents more as an isolationist/protectionist which has traditionally gone down well with all stripes of American voters.

Put the guy in front of a podium across from Hillary and she becomes Hillary the Hag or at least the evil witch in the mirror from Snow White. Former Baptist minister and still Mr. ‘Squeaky Clean and Decent’ knows how to work the crowd and inspire at the same time. Hillary on a good day can only manage to keep scaring you awake. Huckabee’s decency presents better than Hillary’s ‘nuanced’ decadency. If life was about pop culture - Hillary Clinton would be the Yoko Ono of politics - while Huckabee presents more like a Paul McCartney pre-Linda character.

Personally, I would love to see Hillary use her good o’ girl southern accent against the other guy from Hope. Huckabee will use his guitar to smoke on the water her out. Who better to defeat the Clintons than the guy who came in after and had to clean up the state after them? And that’s another thing. Hillary might have Bill as her secret weapon, but in America - a guitar player always trumps the guy playing sax.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Amnesty International

issues condemnation of Lebanon for their treatment of the Palestinians. World yawns.

Old Europe - who needs it?

Every week I find something which never fails to remind me why I am truly grateful my family managed to get out of Belarus alive.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Much ado about nothing

I haven’t blogged about Ann Coutler to either “defend” or “denounce” her. While it is true that Ann and I share certain things in common. We are both female, allegedly conservative and we possess long blond hair. But mine is longer. Nor do I have Ann’s dark roots. My roots are mostly a light gray/white colour. She writes books which make money; while I am struggling to finish my first novel which has probably already cost me money. Unlike Ann, no one would mistake me for a twig. A trunk, a branch or even a bad weed - but never a twig. If we stood beside each other you would see I am shorter.

Besides I get mistaken for a Russian all the time. In fact, one of the most common things Russians have said to me throughout the years is how much I remind them of such and such back in Russia. Usually they get all teary eyed when they say it – even without the vodka. I have heard this so often that I suspect Russia is inhibited by a million clones of me. The older I get the more scared I am to wear a headscarf and end up as every ex-pat Russian’s babushka. One day I really must go to see for myself. Think about it. I will be one of the few people who would be able to write that I went to Russia to find myself. I cannot say for sure about Ann but I bet no one mistakes her for a Russian.

People throw things like cream pies at Ann. No one has ever thrown anything soft like a cream pie at me. Tables, chairs, dishes, pots, beer bottles, knives but never a pie. Ann likes to think we share the same deity but I harbour very specific doubts about that. Ann believes Jesus was the Messiah and I have a hard time believing he ever existed as a historical figure. In fact, I think I could make a better case for Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson being the Messiah than Jesus. And at least with the Rebbe I know for a fact he was a trained Torah/Talmud scholar. I don’t believe he was the messiah but rather just a really good man who could serve as an example of a decent human being to us all.

Forget Madonna

Suha Arafat is the real material girl and should be a role model to gold diggers everywhere. She has been expelled from Tunisia but not to worry because she has the Colonel coming to her rescue reports Ynet News:
Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi has purchased a home on the island of Malta for Suha Arafat, the widow of late Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat, the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Wednesday morning. According to the report Gaddafi has decided to care for all of Suha Arafat's needs after she and her daughter were recently expelled from Tunisia.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah told the newspaper that the house, which is located in Valletta, one of the Maltese capital's most prestigious neighborhoods, is valued at one million euros. Sources also reported that the Libyan leader sent his son, Saif al-Islam, to oversee the purchase of the house and to provide all Arafat's security needs in coordination with the Maltese government. Meanwhile, three bodyguards have been appointed to protect Suha and her 13-year-old daughter Zahwa.

Arafat left Tunisia several months ago where she had been residing even before the death of her husband. Two months ago the Tunisian press reported that the local authorities had revoked her citizenship; however the reason was not given.

Now we know how Suha will manage to keep her millions in American aid money but odd about Hamas not offering to put her up in Gaza City.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Moshe’s coming to town.

I was perusing Israpundit and discovered one of Israel’s more interesting political leaders, Moshe Feiglin, will be speaking at the Shaarei Tefillah Synagogue at 3600 Bathurst Street, in Toronto on Tuesday October 23, 2007 at 7:30pm. Feiglin will be speaking on Saving Jerusalem.

I have heard Feiglin speak in English and I would not suggest he is a natural orator, (but then again - neither was his namesake) though the power of his ideas has captured close to 25% of the Likud membership. Besides, he is the one man who is guaranteed to give Wye Wye Wye River Bibi nightmares.

It’s not every day Moshe Feiglin comes to the New World…I might even be persuaded to break my rule and travel north of Bloor & Yonge.

Israpundit has more details.

Maybe, it's time for

the World Congress of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations to change its name to something more reflective of its membership? The Jerusalem Post carries this report:
In a last-minute decision, Dubai has refused to grant entry visas to an Israeli delegation of 25 forwarding and logistics firms that were planning to take part in next week's World Congress of the FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations.

"We are astonished to find out that FIATA has neither made any public comment about the refusal to grant us visas one week before the start of the Congress, nor has it voiced publicly its objection to such a policy," said Shlomo Sharon, chairman of the Israel Federation of International Freight Forwarders & Customs Clearing Agents. "We have been under the impression and truly expected that in such a politically motivated decision, where one of its ordinary members is discriminated against, FIATA would come up and do more than just inform us, silently, that there are many problems."

The FIATA World Congress, which is held under the patronage of General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, will take place from October 18-22, and was expected to be attended by 90 delegations from around the world. "It is your duty to protect the principles of free movement of goods and people and you, I am sorry to say, have failed to stand for it," Sharon wrote in a letter to the President of FIATA last week, demanding that the organization reconsider its position.

FIATA, a non governmental organization, represents an industry covering approximately 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, employing 8 million-10 million people in 150 countries. "The responsibility for entry visas lies with the organizer, which in this case is the FIATA," said a representative of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. "As such the FIATA should reconsider its position and cancel the congress altogether."

In the run-up to the FIATA World Congress, the Israeli delegation had already transferred large sums to the organizers, booked flights and spent many working hours getting ready for the event. "Nobody in FIATA has at any time raised the possibility of visa denial, the representatives in Dubai kept us waiting for many weeks with promises but never, I repeat, never felt that it was necessary to inform us about the true nature of the problems," Sharon wrote in the letter to FIATA. "We, therefore, hold you fully responsible for all airline cancellation fees as well as indirect costs that we had to pay regarding the delegation."
Too bad the Jerusalem Post could not include a quote from a Bush Administration official. You know, something along the likes of… the government of Dubai is one of our staunchest allies on the War Against the Jews….I know, I know, it is not the Jews which UAE loathes - but the dreaded Zionists.

The ills which can plague a human heart.

I am entering a very new and uncomfortable stage of motherhood. There was a time, when whatever situation presented itself to my children, I was able to offer either a solution or comfort. Now, I find I am increasingly at loss for even finding words for the situations which are fast developing.

The Last Amazon and I were chatting last night. We seem to chat with even greater frequency than normal. I suppose both of us realize that our time together is fast coming to an end. Next year at this time, she will have left home to study at university and starting a life separate and apart from the boys and me.

She had been a little distant this weekend – chatty but not really engaged. Here but not really here. Last night I learned the cause of her emotional distance. Her best friend has confided in her that her father has just pled guilty to the sexual assault of his girlfriend’s daughter. Really there are no words to describe the incredible world of pain which has opened up for all involved. The shame, the hurt, the anger X and her sister Y feel is beyond the ability of another heart to truly weight or measure. Then of course, there is the pain the acknowledged victim has endured and will continue to endure in the years to come.

X & Y loved their father very much. I suspect it would have been easier for them if he was a distant almost mythical figure rather than their here and now beloved father. He treated the two teenage girls like princesses and now their shame knows no bounds. I think Dante had the right of it when he consigned those who betrayed others to the lowest residence in his inferno.

It made me realize, I have prepared my daughter for everything but the evil that can lie dormant and lurk in the hearts of men and women which merely waits the opportunity to manifest itself in deed. I have spoken long on the need to resist the evil inclination but her world has been so far removed from true evil. To her, the evil inclination was an unkind word or a deed of thoughtlessness and not the propensity to willfully choose to inflict grievous harm on another. Evil acts were consigned neatly to the annals of history – something which happened long ago in another time and place and not something which can happen just around the corner.

I have no solutions nor can I offer any words of comfort for all those involved. I have no words. Really. I only wish I did.

From the outer edges of the human gene pool

Let me decisive. If you can see the image of the former pope in flames I want you to know modern medicine has drugs for this condition. All kinds and in different strenghts. Barring a refusal to take the cure, I do have an old holy grilled cheese sandwich I can sell you.

Abuse of Process

It is after midnight and I woke up in pain. I cannot remember when every muscle in my legs and lower back were last so sore and achy….

I joined a new gym. I have taken to calling it the grown-up gym and I have been working with a personal trainer. I have had one session. I admit to being a little fluxed by the whole experience. You see I have been working out regularly in the last year and thought I had made great strides until Sunday when I learned I was only fooling myself.

The gym is populated mostly by these Conan the Barbarian sized men. There are a few women but they all look like these svelte and well-toned elves. Apparently, I am a great hit among the trainers who all look like they are still in high school. They are not use to middle aged women who openly admit to wanting to put on as much muscle as humanly possible.

Apparently, there was a lottery to see who would have the privilege of ‘beating me up regularly’. This is what passes for hip gym lingo. At first, I thought I had misheard and asked the manager to repeat himself which he did. Then I thought it had a kind of a weird sexual overtone to it. But then I thought, nah, can’t be. It must be just another abuse of language by pop culture. Now I realize it is just an understatement of fact.

My trainer made me realize I don’t have to really work harder but I do have to work a great deal smarter. She gave me a very simple but effective work out for my legs, abs and lower back. A vertical leg press, a few leg curls, reverse lunges and I am ready to cry. Do you know one of the reasons I believe in one loving just G-d? Liquid Advil.

Monday, October 15, 2007

End the Palestinian Occupation of Samaritan Lands!!!

According to this Jerusalem Post article the US Secretary of State believes it is long time for the establishment of a Palestinian state:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that US President George W. Bush has decided to make ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "one of the highest priorities of his administration." An international peace conference expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, in the fall has to be serious and substantive, Rice said at a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "We frankly have better things to do than invite people to Annapolis for a photo op," she said. Israelis and Palestinians, Rice observed, are making their "most serious effort" in years to resolve the conflict. "Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state," she added.
No word if she was ready to lend a hand to end the Palestinian Occupation of Samaritan lands as she posed in her Kodak moment press conference with PA Chairman Abbas. And speaking of Samaritans, the Globe and Mail just happened to carry this rather timely article on the goings on in the ancient Samaritan community outside of Nablus. I am not about to stick a toe into a debate about the relative Jewishness of Samaritans in general but reading this piece I was struck by the notion that the Palestinian Authority will consider them far too Jew to be left in their very ancient homeland.
MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank — There are two ways to look at the journey Wada Cohen took to the south of Ukraine a few years ago. Both are told in this remote hilltop village that is one of the last outposts of the biblical sect known as the Samaritans.

In one version, whispered among the women who gather on street corners to gossip the afternoon away, Mr. Cohen was a lonely man who couldn't find a local woman, forced to look for companionship at a faraway marriage agency. In the other, told by his approving father and some of the other village elders, Mr. Cohen's journey to meet and bring back a bride named Alexandra Krasyuk may just save the Samaritans from extinction.

For millennia, the Samaritans - descendants of the ancient Israelites who practise their own religion based on the Torah - have been slowly dying away, their numbers diminishing to exactly 701 today. Half of them live here on the rocky foothills of Mount Gerizim, a craggy outcrop that looms over the chaotic West Bank town of Nablus.

The Samaritans' numbers have dwindled because of an ancient tradition of marrying only within the community, a strictly observed rule that led to a dwindling gene pool and a rising number of birth defects. The streets of this village are filled with dark-haired young men and women with malformed limbs, twisted faces and speechless tongues.
Geopolitics aside for a moment - does anyone know how this tradition is reasoned or the basis for it within the Samaritan community? I am quite curious because I think the very opposite can be effectively argued.

head counts

In other Mid-East news today the Palestinian Authority are hoping to conduct a census reports the Jerusalem Post:
The Palestinian Authority is gearing up for its first census in a decade, hoping the results will help Palestinian negotiators make their case in future peace talks with Israel. Demographics play a central role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rapid Palestinian growth would bolster Palestinian territorial demands in future peace talks, while Israelis' fear of being outnumbered in areas they now control might make them more willing to consider a West Bank withdrawal.

Later this week, some 5,000 census-takers will fan out across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, first to count buildings, and in December, to count people. Results are expected by February. The first Palestinian census, conducted in 1997, counted 2.89 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War. According to estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the figure now stands at 3.9 million.

Some Israeli critics have dismissed the 1997 figures and the current projections as inflated, a charge denied by Palestinian census officials, who say the counts are being conducted under international scrutiny. In December 2006, Israel's population included 5.4 million Jews, 1.4 million Arabs and 310,000 others, according to Israeli government figures. The census will cost $8.6 million (€6.34 million) cost, with the Palestinian Authority paying 20 percent. The rest comes from a UN agency, Saudi Arabia, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Netherlands and OPEC, census officials said.

No word whether the PA will include ISM supporters, settlers or the dead in the finally Pally head count. I can't wait to see how many lean-tos get counted as buildings.

And Larissa wore blue and white

The Israeli press is set to implode around the 24th of October or whenever Yigal Amir’s wife gives birth. Who is Yigal Amir you ask? He is the man convicted of assassinating Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, In recent years there have been a number of issues raised and questions asked like - if Amir shot Rabin in the back multiple times why were the entry wounds alleged to be in Rabin’s chest? Unlike Barry Chamish, I really don’t have an opinion one way or another. But what does fascinate me is how far the Israeli press goes in detailing anything to do with Amir and the great lengths the press will go in speculating concerning Amir’s family. Take this Ynet News article:
Larissa Trimbobler, Yigal Amir's wife, is scheduled to give birth to the couple's son on October 24, the national memorial day for late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by Amir 12 year ago. The date of the delivery hardly seems like a coincidence, and it appears that Trimbobler had pre-planned it during her fertility treatments.

Trimbobler is set to arrive at the Bikur Holim hospital on the day of the planned delivery and undergo a gynecological checkup. Sources at the hospital expressed concern that the mother-to-be may ask to induce labor in order to give birth on the same day, saying they are not permitted to decline such a request. "Until today, no request for an induced labor or a cesarean section has been received from Trimbobler," a hospital official stressed.

I have to admit I don’t have a great deal of knowledge concerning IF techniques (having had all my babies the old fashioned low tech way) but I would think the chances of successful implantation achieving a specific due date is just about a zillion to one. But why let plausibility or reason get in the way of good yellow journalism? Don’t think this is just the bias of Ynet News. Here’s Ha’aretz reporting on the possibility of Amir attending his son’s circumcision.

Friday, October 12, 2007

So tell me this

I have often thought my biggest problem in life is that my brain doesn't seem to be hardwired like the other people around me. Big topic at the water cooler yesterday was the "low" voter turnout in the province. Forget about nightmare scenarios at the polling stations for a minute.

Here is what I really do not understand. Why is having a low voter turn out an issue?

If any given adult, who is eligible to vote, chooses of his/her own free will not to exercise their vote; why is that a problem or an issue for anyone?

Some people are perfectly happy with not having a say in the legislative process. Others want to be involved. So what? I realize there are certain NDP supporters who labour under the delusion that if every eligible adult voter in Ontario got out and voted; Howard Hampton would be Premier of Ontario. This is just flatout wrong.

So why is it necessary for every eligible voter to vote, so necessary in fact, that there are those who want to legislate mandatory participation in the electoral process. I just don't get it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Post election cheat notes

How odd. It generally was the “blue” tories who managed to carry the riding they were running in. Word to the wise - next time you have a leadership convention - dump the hidden agenda and be radical. Elect a conservative.

And in my riding, my man Danish managed to pull 254 votes and beat out the Commie’s choice.


Ontario didn’t vote liberal for a “big agenda” they voted liberal to maintain the status quo. Big difference.


Just because MMP was soundly defeated (official figures later) does not mean it was a failure to educate the public on what MMP stands for. Most of grown-ups got it but we just didn’t want to buy it. Accept it and move on. You’ll be happier for it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jesus died for someone’s sins…

and after voting today, I am damn sure it wasn’t for any of mine either.

I just came back from voting and have to ask; did the government have a special litmus test to ensure only the mentally challenged and/or functional illiterates would be the only ones manning my polling station?

Is it such an unreasonable a request to have polling stations manned by individuals without any obvious mental challenges and/or whose ability to read in English is not strained beyond 3 letter groupings?

And NO, for the record, I will not shorten my last name to make it more convenient for someone to search for it in an alphabetized voter’s list. I did suggest the woman search at the end of the list and work her way forward to the Y’s as in Young-sam. She looked me dead in the eye and asked why anyone would do such a dumb thing like that…. I tried to suggest speed, convenience, and ease but she maintained it was still the dumbest idea she heard all year and how I should think about shortening my name. At this point, I was reduced to cussing in multiply foreign languages under my breath.

But my horrendous ordeal wasn’t ended with her determining my last name was the very last name on the list for that polling station. Then she had to match out every single letter of my employee picture identification with every single letter on with the list. We, of course, hit a snag. My company pictured ID read “Kateland” and my voter registration read only “Kate” on the list as well as on voter registration card. Big Trouble. Much Angst. Multiple consultations ensued. Did I mention I was soaked from having been caught in the rain without an umbrella before I entered the polling station? Did I mention I looked a dead-ringer to the picture on my employee ID to absolutely no fracking avail?

It took 45 minutes from the time I first walked through the door until I was finally allowed to vote. It took me all of 20 seconds to actually vote. It would have been shorter but I pulled out the chair and sat down, filled out my cards, and then took the time to push the chair back in. The entire time I was there no one else came into the polling station…..and the government wonders why voter turn is low.

Biting the hand that feeds

Arutz Sheva carries this report:

( Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the daily newspaper of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Fatah terror group, featured a cartoon this week that illustrated a prayer for the killing of Americans. A Muslim is shown kneeling in prayer facing a U.S. B-2 stealth bomber, silhouetted in the sky. The words of the cartoon character's prayer adorn four missiles aimed at the American plane. These are his wishes:

"Allah, scatter them!!"

“And turn their wives into widows!!"

“And turn their children into orphans!!"

“And give us victory over them!!"

According to Palestinian Media Watch, which reported the story, this plea for the death and bereavement of Americans is a special prayer for Laylat Al-Qadr (the 27th day of Ramadan), as is noted in the corner of the cartoon.
With moderates like Fatah - who needs extremists?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Election Time in Ontario or who really needs it up the butt?

I didn’t vote for John Tory when he was running for mayor of Toronto (or David Miller - ever). In fact, most people in Toronto didn’t vote for John Tory for mayor of Toronto which is why he is not mayor of Toronto.

Be that as it may, the Ontario Progressive party decided to vote him as party leader. Maybe they figured he needed a consolation prize after losing the election to be the mayor of the centre of the universe.

I said at the time it was a mistake. I grumbled, I groaned, but I was poohed-poohed all around by conservatives. Let him show his true nettle in the legislature I was told. I would be impressed…then he voted for a huge salary increase….I’m still waiting to be impressed. No doubt I will go to my grave waiting to be impressed by John Tory.

People vote for conservative leaders when conservatives elect conservatives to lead them and not when conservatives elect liberal lites to lead them. It is patently dishonest and no one likes to be fooled. This is why John Tory, for all his crying on the back of the bus, will not be premier of the province come October 11th.

Allegedly, I am a conservative but I am not a good party girl. I wouldn’t even join the Blogging Tories. This is probably just as well as I probably would have been turfed out quicker than BEAJ was cast out of the BT forum. Actually, I would vote for the NDP if Baroness Thatcher crossed the ocean to lead them. I have to admit that the federal conservatives are disappointing me too. This move to the centre is alienating me big time and my vote cannot be counted on next time round. I might even keep my dollar $1.75 firmly in my pocket the next time round.

That being said, I am in a bit of a quandary. Who am I to vote for in the provincial election? No one is promising to significantly lower taxes and if any politician was sincere about wanting to tackle child poverty (speaking as a single mother of three) the first stop would be getting their hand out of my pocketbook. I won’t vote for McGirlieman and his liberals nor will I vote Conservative. I don’t like eco-nazis, and Dame Thatcher is not running as the NDP leader. So who is left?

Isaiah Sender inadvertently provided the answer. He is apparently having a mock election in his grade 8 class. He has been pestering me on who I am voting for so he can vote the same way in his class. He made me watch the Roger’s Cable-systems election videos of all the candidates in our riding and it became clear to me.

I am voting for Danish Ahmed of the Party for People with Special Needs. He is apparently a blind, albino Pakistani-Canadian. He has special needs and so do I. He can have my vote and my dollar $1.75. How could I miss my opportunity to vote for a relative of Fenris Badwulf? How many times does that happen in any election cycle?

But this provincial election is just not electing a member to the Ontario legislature. There is the question of electoral reform or not. Do I vote first pass the post or mixed-member proportional representation (MMP for short). Veteran Israeli politico watching that I am means I am inclined to vote against MMP…who really needs the Israelization of the Ontario electoral process. It is already way past my pain threshold. Do we really need to give a voice and a paycheque to 39 more loons and their mothers? But, I am prepared to listen to Fenris’ views on the matter.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My pirate name

My pirate name is:

Bloody Morgan Bonney

Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Need I say more? Oh yeah, h/t Simply Jews

Thursday, October 04, 2007

And just because I want a bike - does not mean I will be eating granola

My mother bought Isaiah Sender a bike when he spent his first summer holiday with his grandparents in the Maritimes two years ago. I knew she bought him a "decent" bike but I had no idea how decent was 'decent' until when my cousin carried it down from the east coast to our home.

Let me put it this way. She bought him the Harley Davidson of bicycles. Even the guy in the specialty bike shop who put the bike back together for us was purring under his breath that this would be the bike he would buy if only he won the lottery. No wonder Isaiah Sender had such a hissy fit to get this bike back. His grandparents are divorcing and he did not want to risk having the bike included as property under divisible family assets.

Great bike. He actually let me ride it. I have not ridden a bike since I was 12 and let me tell you – it is true. Once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget, even if it is 33 years later. Now I want a bike but not like his. His is too complex. I want one of those vintage one-speed ladies bikes so I can ride it to work in my skirts and not worry about my skirt or dress being caught in the chain or the back wheel. Oh, and I want a basket in the front for when I stop at the grocery store on my way home for when I need to pick-up a few things. I want fenders on both the front and back wheels so my clothes will not be covered in mud or sprayed with water when I ride it in the rain.

When the children were young, they all learned to ride and had bikes but once they got to a certain age, we stopped buying replacement bikes for them. It just was too dangerous for them to be out and about downtown without us on their bikes. By the time, the children were finally old enough to ride their bikes without us; it meant they were too old to ride on the sidewalk and needed to ride on the road. Ride on the road, as in - with all the crazy people who believe the rules of the road are only applicable to some unknown "others" residing in Uganda or some such place like that. You have no idea the kind of graphic nightmare images, which have flashed steadily before my eyes every time one of them suggested I buy them a bike.

I was talking to Montana (who had a turn on Isaiah Sender's bike too) about my wanting to get a bike – a one speed vintage one to carry me about the downtown where I live. He thinks it is a great idea. In fact, he thinks it is such a great idea that he wants a man's vintage one speed bike too. He wants something he can easily fix and not have to worry about stripping gears, brakes, or not working properly in the rain. Now the big hunt is on to find two vintage bikes to outfit the two of us.

So why is it okay now for all of us to ride in the road? I think it is because I have slowly been undergoing a de-sensitization process. It started two years ago when Montana insisted on taking the streetcar and subway by HIMSELF, as in TOTALLY ALONE, to Rosedale for his guitar lesson once a week. You have no idea how many times I have seen him swarmed, beaten, thrown into the face of an oncoming subway train and left broken beyond repair. Did I mention mugged and left bleeding out on the street for dead? Of course, then there are the visions which plague me when he is two minutes late coming through the door. I imagine either terrorists or mechanical failure of some kind has blown up the subway. G'd bless parents in Israel. I don't know how they manage to get through the day. All I know is - I couldn't do it without being heavily medicated with heavy-duty anti-psychotic medication.

Then there was Isaiah Sender leaving my roof to sleep under my mother's for two months. I finally learned to get the panic attacks under control this summer. The panic attacks did not go away completely but I did learn how to master them enough so I can function.

More recently, there was the Last Amazon's first date….she thinks it was a bigger dealer for her date than the rest of us, but trust me when I say the boys and I truly suffered. Well, we suffered until she ditched the cowardly lion date and came home early. She refuses to go on another date until she is at university and living in residence – as in - far away from us but that's okay because I didn't like that boy anyway. I did ask the Last Amazon if she wanted a bike too. Apparently, she has no desire to drive a bike but a Lexus would do. I told her not to quit her part-time job at the bakery

There is nothing quite like tales of fraud and embezzlement

To start one's day. This is the latest from my in-box:
from boateng essien hide details 8:51 am (45 minutes ago)
date Oct 3, 2007 8:51 AM
subject Confirm Your Interest ( Confidential)

This email is privileged and contains confidential information intended only for the person named above.Any other distribution,copying or disclosure is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email by error, please notify the sender immediately or delete any electronic hard copy. Thank you.

From Mr. John Kofi
The Manager, International
Commercial Bank Ghana
First Light Branch


I got your contact during my search for a reliable, honest and a trustworthy person to entrust this huge transfer project with. My name is Mr.John Kofi. I am the manager of the international commercial bank Ghana, first light branch. I am a Ghanaian married with two kids.

I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of us$4,500.000.00.
This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am the manager made as profit during the last year. I have already submitted an approved end of the year report for the year 2006 to my head office here in Accra and they will never know of this excess.

I have since then, placed this amount of us$4,500.000.00 on a suspense account without a beneficiary.

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account.

I intend to part 30% of this fund to you while 70% shall be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund.

Mr. John Kofi.
Not very original. I like the ones I got from Suhfa Arafat bettter. Obviously, I am not good a following instructions and my first thought was to wonder if he was a relative/acquaintance to Kofi Annan?

Fake, but could be true in an alternative dimension

David Ben-Gurion (first prime minister of Israel) was said to have remarked (after a rather scathing attack on his leadership by the Israeli daily Ha'aretz) that the last time Ha'aretz sided with the government was during the British Mandate. A similar kind of comment could be made concerning the Israeli daily Ynet News siding with any group of Israeli Jews.

Last August, Ynet News carried this story of alleged settler shenanigans:
Residents of the settlement of Elon Moreh in the West Bank have cut a pipe carrying drinking water to a nearby Palestinian village, and are using it to fill a small swimming pool located at a picnic site, which was itself built on land owned by the village.

The pipe, which carries water to the village of Dir al-Khatab, was rerouted in order to fill the pool. The pipe channels fresh drinking water into the pool and drains dirty water back into the village's water system.

"They not only use water that doesn't belong to them, but they also pollute the drinking water of some of the village residents," said Yoel Marshak, head of the Kibbutz Movement's Special Assignments Branch. "The little kids pee in the water, which flows straight to the taps of the Palestinian school."

The small swimming pool was built at the settlement's picnic site, which is located less than a mile from Dir al-Khatab and on the village's lands. "The settlers of Elon Moreh behave like landlords on our private land," said Jafar Shatai, deputy chairman of the neighboring village of Salem.

The Civil Administration has issued a demolition order for the picnic site following complains by the Palestinian residents, and stated that the order would be carried out in the coming days.
The settler's defense was a small paragraph buried at the end of the article:
"The fountain's water does not constitute the village's main water supply, because the village has been connected to Mekorot (the national water company) for many years. The fountain's water is used as drinking water for the sheep and goats, and as backup in case the water supply is interrupted. No one has blocked the channeling of water to the village," he stated.

Arutz Sheva carried the follow-up:
( Residents of the Shomron town of Elon Moreh have accused extreme-left activists of deliberately damaging Arab property in order to create conflict. They also say Yediot Acharonot and its associated website Ynet have refused to correct their libel.

Benny Katzover, a senior founder of Elon Moreh, spoke with Arutz-7 and recounted the events leading up to what he says were attempts by left-wing activists to sully Jewish residents' good names and create conflict with the neighboring Arab village.

The village in question, Dir el-Hattab, was hooked up to the Israeli water utility thanks to Katzover's own initiative as mayor of Elon Moreh. Recently, Jewish youth who refurbished a park area within Elon Moreh's municipal boundaries set up a small pool, connected to the water line leading to the village. The pool did not disrupt the flow of water to the village until somebody began cutting the pipe flowing toward the village.

A resident of the town recently photographed leftists as they damaged a water pipe leading to a nearby Arab village. Elon Moreh residents argue that the leftists were hoping to lead the Arabs to think that their Jewish neighbors were destroying their water supply.

After destroying the pipe, residents said, the leftists reported the incident to the Yediot Acharonot newspaper, which published an article accusing the Jews of Elon Moreh of harassing local Arabs and stealing their water.

"They were more than happy to publish a half-page story on how we abuse our neighbors, without an ounce of research," Katzover said. He added that the leftists were led by Kibbutz Movement Chairman Yoel Marshak, infamous for his involvement in claims that Arab olive trees were destroyed by Jews, when in fact they had been pruned by their owners and left-wing activists.
I just bet Ynet News is dying to use the "fake but could be true" defense. Arutz Sheva has pictures of the perp in action. And the alleged "swimming pool" in question is about the size of a small children's portable wading pool.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Adventures in Pallywood

Moderation must be in the eye of the beholder. Caroline Glick on Pallywood in action:
As the Jerusalem Post's Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh reported Monday, over the weekend he and the newspaper fell victim to a Fatah hoax. Saturday, Abu Toameh was "summoned" to Fatah's General Intelligence headquarters in Ramallah where he was given a "scoop" - a graphic videotape of the murder of a 16-year-old girl in July perpetrated as a so-called "honor killing." The Fatah officer in Ramallah supplied Abu Toameh with the phone numbers of two "eye-witnesses" to the episode who would corroborate the story.

It later worked out that the "eye-witnesses" were Fatah militiamen in Gaza. The story was a fabrication. The video was taken in Iraq in April. The purpose of the elaborately crafted tale was clear. Fatah wished to use the Post to project itself as a credible, moderate actor battling the forces of evil and darkness in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Abu Toameh had written up the story and it appeared on The Jerusalem Post's Web site on Saturday night. It was removed when the Post was alerted to the hoax and did not appear in the Sunday paper.

Abu Toameh's forthright admission of his error and his report in Monday's paper of the anatomy of the Fatah ruse is a testament to his own journalistic integrity. But he is not the issue here. The issue here is Fatah and what the hoax tells us about the organization on which the Olmert government and the Bush administration are basing all their plans for a future peace between the Palestinians and the State of Israel.

As Abu Toameh noted, the false videotape was Fatah's second propaganda story last week. Wednesday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's terrorist organization's propaganda services announced that its forces in Bethlehem had intercepted two rockets "ready for launch" against Israel in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala. They further announced that they had turned the rockets over to the IDF. This story, which came as Abbas was meeting with US President George W. Bush and other world leaders at the UN in New York, of course projected the image of Fatah as a terror-fighting, Israel-protecting, peace-seeking, credible, moderate actor.

SPEAKING to The Washington Post on Thursday, Abbas used the story to explain why Israel should feel comfortable giving Fatah all of Judea and Samaria and half of Jerusalem. Responding to a question regarding his view of Israel's concern that areas transferred to Palestinian control will be used as operational bases for carrying out attacks against its cities Abbas said, "Last night, [our security forces] seized two rockets. We handed [them] over to the Israelis. We are very worried about these deeds and I think we can put an end to all this. Our security apparatus is ready to stop all kinds of violence."

The Washington Post published the interview without noting that the story was a total fabrication. The "rockets" that Fatah transferred to the IDF were just a pile of metal pipes which had apparently been used as toys by local children. The IDF had already noted that the rockets weren't real when The Washington Post conducted its interview with Abbas. Unlike Abu Toameh and The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Post and its veteran reporter Lally Weymouth saw no reason to mention that Abbas's anti-terror credentials were based on nothing but lies manufactured by his own propaganda arms.

AND THAT'S the thing. Since Fatah's creation in 1959 its primary weapon has been disinformation and its primary asset has been the Western media's willingness to be duped and stay duped. What is notable about the honor killing video story is not that it was false, but that The Jerusalem Post acknowledged that it had been lied to.

I remember reading about both stories but didn’t blog about those incidents. I felt the kassam story had a weird feel to it – I mean, only two never used or gently used rockets (depending on the source), and the honour killing, well this is the mid-east, honour killings are relatively a common form of murder. The Fatah faux outraged was just a mite stage-managed for me but I had no idea I was reading Pallywood in action. It's literally everywhere now.

Pallywood Blood Libel

Natan Sharansky on the first Pallywood intifada production for the Jerusalem Post:
It has been seven years since France 2 Television broadcast the excruciating footage of Muhammad and his father, Jamal, crouching in terror behind a barrel at Gaza's Netzarim junction while, according to the report, under relentless fire from IDF soldiers. The 59-second clip, which ends with the boy apparently shot dead, was presented around the world as an unambiguous case of Israeli savagery.

The tape fanned the flames of what became known as the second intifada. The boy Muhammad was the iconic martyr, his name and face gracing streets, parks and postage stamps across the Arab world. His memory was invoked by Osama bin Laden in a jihadist screed against America, and in the ghastly video of the beheading of American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl.

Shortly following the al-Dura incident, however, a series of inquiries cast grave doubt on the accuracy of the original France 2 report. The official IDF investigation concluded that, based on the position of IDF forces vis-à-vis al-Duras, it was highly improbable, if not impossible, that an Israeli bullet hit the boy. Research by The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and Commentary magazine concurred. Then a German documentary revealed inconsistencies and probable manipulations in the account of France 2's lone journalist on the scene that day, Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahmeh.

And yet France 2 refused to release Abu Rahmeh's full 27 minutes of raw footage. It did, however, agree to let three prominent French journalists view the footage. All three concluded that it comprised blatantly staged scenes of Palestinians being shot by Israeli forces, and that France 2's Jerusalem Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin had lied to conceal that fact.

I really hate to take issue with one point in Sharansky's conclusion. I have read western bloggers and Arab papers who still maintain, contrary to all physical evidence and vociferously, that the Jenin massacre actually happened.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Choking on success

The NY Times ran a simply devastating piece on the environment/health issues facing China in the immediate future. Here is an excerpt:
The toll this pollution has taken on human health remains a delicate topic in China. The leadership has banned publication of data on the subject for fear of inciting social unrest, said scholars involved in the research. But the results of some research provide alarming evidence that the environment has become one of the biggest causes of death. An internal, unpublicized report by the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning in 2003 estimated that 300,000 people die each year from ambient air pollution, mostly of heart disease and lung cancer. An additional 110,000 deaths could be attributed to indoor air pollution caused by poorly ventilated coal and wood stoves or toxic fumes from shoddy construction materials, said a person involved in that study.
That worst-case situation now looks wildly optimistic. Last year, China burned the energy equivalent of 2.7 billion tons of coal, three-quarters of what the experts had said would be the maximum required in 2020. To put it another way, China now seems likely to need as much energy in 2010 as it thought it would need in 2020 under the most pessimistic assumptions. “No one really knew what was driving the economy, which is why the predictions were so wrong,” said Yang Fuqiang, a former Chinese energy planner who is now the chief China representative of the Energy Foundation, an American group that supports energy-related research. “What I fear is that the trend is now basically irreversible.”
To say the future is bleak - is the grossest of understatements.

Monday, October 01, 2007

They know we are bloggers and I am afraid

There is an incredible pathos about the stories coming out of Burma. Here's another blurb from the Times Online about the most unlikeliest heroes:
Since last month Ko Latt, 28, his friends Arca, Eye, Sun and Superman, and scores of others like them have been the third pillar of Burma's Saffron Revolution. While the veteran democracy activists, and then the Buddhist monks, marched in their tens of thousands against the military regime, it is the country's amateur bloggers and internet enthusiasts who have brought the images to the outside world.

Armed with small digital cameras, they have documented the spectacular growth of the demonstrations from crowds of a few hundred to as many as 100,000. On weblogs they have recorded in words and pictures the regime's bloody crackdown, in a city where only a handful of foreign journalists work undercover. With downloaded software, they have dodged and weaved around the regime's increasingly desperate attempts to thwart their work. Now the bloggers, too, have been crushed. Having failed to stop the cyber-dissidents broadcasting to the world, the authorities have simply switched off the internet.

Now Ko Latt and his blogging comrades have abandoned their keyboards and gone underground, sleeping in a different place every night, watching and waiting to see if the democracy movement has been truly crushed or is simply on hold. "When things were hot on the streets, we were not the main worry," Ko Latt says. "But as the situation cools down, they will follow us. They know who we are, they know we are bloggers, and I am afraid."

Read more at London based Burmese blogger at Ko Htike's Prosaic Collection – but it's not for the faint hearted

barely walking and talking

Saturday I think I ate some meat of questionable origins. For the last 48 hours I have been dealing with the mother of all migraines, hives, general swelling of my extremities, and tossing my cookies with great and frighteningly regularity. Doses of A&C and anti-histamines have just managed to take the edge off slightly. As far as I know, I haven’t eaten any pork but oddly enough all my symptoms are reflective of what happens to me if I unknowingly consume pork. Go figure and a curse on all hot dog vendors.

It was in this rather fragile condition that I had to venture out with the Last Amazon to attend the last day of the University Fair and then on to the “Word on the Street” book festival at Queen’s Park. No one can say I don’t keep promises to my children.

The Last Amazon is in her last year of secondary school and the question of what universities offer the best fit has been looming large. The University Fair was suppose to help but instead it has just muddled the waters further. Lucky for her, she can pretty much go wherever she wants in terms of university - unless mid-90’s are too low a bar for admittance. We have already ruled out the Great Satan to the south for much the same reasons we have ruled out of province.

An extra consideration in finding the best fit is that she will only be 16 years old when she graduates from secondary school. It makes her a good two years younger than most of her peers. She’s mature for her age but 16 going on 17 - is still only 16. This is why I am tending to lean towards the smaller sized schools. U of Toronto would give her the illusion of attending school out of town (her program is only offered at the Scarberia campus) and it would keep her home and under my eye.

Although, class sizes ranging from 150 -1500 in some first year course sounds incredibly daunting. I am left wondering how one actually hears the lecture, and if tapes are available for sale after the lecture? And then the tuition is one of the highest. We have a ton of questions about the neuroscience program but apparently we didn’t rate a facility adviser to answer our questions. If only I had wrapped her in a burka we might have rated.

Never really considered Carleton for science but one of the heads of the chemistry department made a pretty compelling case. Though who would have thought Ottawa would cost so much to live in?

University of Guelph had the best fashion accessory give away. A fabric bag which carried the slogan – MY BAG IS NOT PLASTIC. It not only seemed like a decent enough school but it appears to be all awash with scholarship money. I know Western is all the rage lately but there is a lot which is unappealing in terms of living arrangements/programs. Besides, London is very, very white (and creeps out her brother that way who never notices much). In fact, it is almost as white as Queen’s. Speaking of the whiteness of Queen’s – they really need to get recruiters who can carry on a conversation with a black teen without all the “Yo sistah”. The Last Amazon finds it off-putting when it’s done by her peers, and more even more so with when you are white and middle-aged.

Best overall impression from the fair has to be Brock University for neuroscience. The university is smaller and more personal. Average 1st year course size ranges from 15-25 students for her program. Decent honours co-op program and housing. Reasonable tuition even if the university is a little lean on scholarship money. Lucky for us, we were able to speak to a facility adviser in the neuroscience department who filled us in on a lot of the ins and outs of Brock’s program. Brock plans to offer a graduate program in neuroscience within two years time. I have always had a soft spot for St. Catherines but I would be really interested in hearing from anyone who has anything to say about Brock. My brother advises Brock is known for getting the bottom of the barrel students…something about if you can walk and talk you can get into Brock… but then again he thinks I am an evil neocon.