Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Even our MoonBats have defense credentials

I have no idea where this notion came from which suggests Canadians are boring. Loons - maybe, but entertaining loons at that. Take the case of a former Canadian Minister of Defense:
A former Canadian defense minister says be believes advanced technology from extraterrestrial civilizations offers the best hope to "save our planet" from the perils of climate change.

Paul Hellyer, 83, is calling for a public disclosure of alien technology obtained during alleged UFO crashes -- such as the mysterious 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico -- because he believes alien species can provide humanity with a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Mr. Hellyer has been a public UFO advocate since September 2005 when he spoke at a symposium in Toronto. But with concern over global warming at an all-time high, and Canadian political parties struggling to out-green one another, Mr. Hellyer said governments and the military have a responsibility to "come clean on what they know" now more than ever.

"Climate change is the No. 1 problem facing the world today," he said. "I'm not discouraging anyone from being green conscious, but I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet." Mr. Hellyer will be discussing his views at the upcoming screening of a new UFO documentary called Fastwalkers, in Toronto's De La Salle College Theatre on March 7.

All of which just goes to show - one can never really know what will be premiering next at one of Canada’s top private prep schools.

h/t National News Watch

Once upon a time in XBox land

Generally, there is nothing I hate worse than having to call technical support for anything. Talk about an exercise in both patience and frustration. A few months ago I bought the boys (so I tell myself) an X Box 360. I went all out and bought them a new console with the all the upper end premium add-ons rather than buying a used console and piecing it together over time as has been my habit. I actually delaying buying the X Box 360 hoping that Microsoft has gotten all the kinks out the manufacturing process by the time I was ready to buy the machine.

From the get-go the console disk drive door stuck on and off. Often the console couldn’t read brand new X Box 360 games and we would be forced to repeatedly shut-down and restart the system until the game did work. The problems only compounded with time, until eventually the drive door refused to open at all. I was finally forced to accept the fact there was nothing else for it but to call Microsoft’s technical support.

Why call centres hire people whose pronunciation of English is so heavily accented that the language is hardly recognizable for an English technical support line is beyond my ability to fathom. The horrible thing about having any kind of an accent - in almost any language - is that a telephone line will magnify and distort the accent making comprehension a truly Herculean task. It’s like trying to crack a code to understand what the technical support is saying - and that’s just the opening greeting.

After skillfully maneuvering through all the various options on the voicemail tree systems and having to wait forever and an age for a live technical support person to answer the line; I spent another frustrating 30 minutes going over all the trouble shooting tips I had done a 1,000 times before I called technical support. There seemed to be no other remedy but to return the X Box 360 console to the repair centre.

I had returned a Sony Playstation 2 once for repair but I have to give Microsoft full marks because I didn’t have to pay for the cost to courier the console to them for repair. Microsoft arranged for a special couriered return box, prepaid and with all the appropriate labels to be delivered to me. At no point during this process did I have to pay for anything. Last night I picked up what I thought was the repaired console only to discover a brand new spanking X Box 360 had been shipped to me instead. Total turnaround time from my call to Microsoft and a new machine to be delivered to my door – 8 days.

I really have to admit I really did like my old X box. You could drop that sucker on the floor or bang it off the wall and she always worked - every single time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rape as an expression of resisting the “occupation”.

This is one of the most perverse expressions of a culture I have read for some time. But then again, if the brutal murder of an unarmed man in prayer is sanctioned - why not rape?

A universe is lost

Yesterday morning I read the Israeli online papers as is my habit, and I quickly skimmed over the reports of the murder of an Israeli “settler”. A later report carried news that two 18 year old Palestinian Arabs had been arrested and confessed to the brutal stabbing murder of settler.

I didn’t initially pay a great deal of attention to this death. It was just one death among many. Of course, most of the Israeli papers make it easy to forget the individual death of anyone once the dreaded “settler” tag is used. Settlers are great demons of Israeli politics. It’s so easy to characterize and write them off as crazed right-wing religious zealots; and in fact, even my own Minister of Foreign Affairs recently attended an Israeli conference wherein he gave a speech which suggested Israeli settlers are the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East. And no one raised their voice to say ‘bah’ to that.

In fact, I suspect this comment at the Jerusalem Post encapsulates what a great many think and feel about the murder of a settler in Eretz Israel.
23. Natural Reaction to Occupation & Trespassing
02/27/2007 00:58

I feel for this man's family, but lets face the facts. In many countries, one is allowed to kill trespassers such as those who inhabit the illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is a natural reaction to the death and destruction Israel is reaping on the poor innocent Palestinians. The boys were just defending their national right to self determination. This is a pure math equation based on universal laws.
But lets put this settler’s death another way. I want you to imagine in your mind, a simple 42 year old man going outside to pray in forest grove. In an act of personal prayer, unbeknownst to our father of three, he has been stalked by two young men. In the very midst of his personal prayer to his G-d, he is set upon and brutally stabbed to death for “nationalistic reasons” by the two young men.

The young men in question are just 18 years old and have no ties to the victim of their expression of nationalistic rage. He has never issued a cross word to or deed against the two young men in question which they can recount or recall. His only allege sin is he dares to live and breathe in a land where the “other” says no Jews have a right to live or even breathe. Let alone pray.

Later on in the day I read this Jerusalem Post account, wherein I learned the name of the dreaded settler and that he was a Breslov Chassid. And I was moved. I hold a special place in my heart for Breslovers. When I was young, I kept thinking my grandfather had a friend called Robbie Notchman who he would often quote to me. It wasn’t until I grew older that I learned he was quoting the words of Rabbi Nachman.

It’s hard to describe the eternal hope, essential goodness and optimism which in fuses the writings and teachings of Rabbi Nachman and his followers. A few months ago, the Last Amazon talked me into watching a movie from Israel about a Breslov couple. Now the Last Amazon knows very little about Breslov philosophy per say, though there are a few things I have tried to pass on to her as were passed on to me.

Half way through the movie she turned to me and said, "I don’t think I could ever live among these people." When I asked why her answered surprised me. She is a pretty typical secular Canadian teenager so I immediately assumed she meant the clothes or one of the 1001 restrictions which govern their lives but it wasn't that. It was because they strived to be too good, too joyful and too kind. She felt, she would always feel too inadequate and unworthy in their company. I half suspect she is not alone in this regard. It’s easy for many to heap scorn upon the followers of Rabbi Nachman, but oh, how much hard it is to be.

A friend described Erez Levanon in this Jerusalem Post article as a man who “didn't wait for happiness to find him, he was invested in creating it for himself and others around him". Later on I came across these words at Lazer Beams concerning the passing of Erez Levanon:
Erez wasn't a person - he was a universe. He was the epitome of everything beautiful - the Land of Israel, the settlement of Bat Ayin, the Judean Hills, Rebbe Nachman's teachings, Judaism, Jewish outreach, brotherly love, humility, holiness, Chassidism, and the mellow strains of a sublime guitar.

Erez devoted his life to Hashem, to Rebbe Nachman, and to Jewish Outreach. He spent the last seven summers roaming the boondocks of India looking for lost Jewish souls that he could bring back to the fold with the magnetism of his ever-so-gentle personality and sweet guitar.

Words defy description of the evil that could extinguish such an exquisite candle. Erez was murdered while talking to Hashem in personal prayer, at one of his favorite spots for hitbodedut. People ask, "Why?"

Since we don't have the Holy Temple and ritual sacrifices that atone for our sins, Erez of blessed and saintly memory was undoubtedly taken as a flawless sacrifice for all of Israel. We are therefore required - wherever we may be - to mourn his death.

As a martyr who was killed in the sanctification of Hashem's name, Erez shall reach the loftiest portals of Heaven. May he intercede for all of us, amen. Baruch Dayan Emes.

I man cut down in prayer. An entire universe lost forever to us. Make no mistake - we are all the poorer for it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Crying Uncle

Really, with each passing day I am really starting to seriously question not only what the point of UN Resolution 1701 was; but what’s the point of any international “peacekeeping” mission in the Lebanon. Arutz Sheva carries this report.
( The Lebanese army has made a deal with Hizbullah terrorist guerillas, dividing up patrols in southern Lebanon, according to an officer of the United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL).

Hajj Ali, a Hizbullah terrorist leader who lives in the village of Bint Jbil near the Israeli border, declared, "There will be another war in the summer. It is the beginning of the end for Israel; we are preparing."
Somehow, I really don’t think Canadian taxpapers expected CIDA’s Lebanon Relief Fund to help prop a country determined to go down the path to perdition. And in that spirit, I suggest the next time the Lebanon cries “uncle” to the UN; we just let them whine in the corner by themselves.


Just a quick reminder that March 15, 2007 is the Fifth Annual Eat a Tasty Animal for PETA Day. This year I am thinking a veal roast would work nicely.

Is Gaydamak the Israeli Equivalent of Khodorkovsky?

I am starting to believe there is something about Russian businessmen when they involve themselves in the political process which innately rubs governments the wrong way. Think Yukos, and now Gaydamak. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Arkadi Gaydamak, the Russian immigrant billionaire who last week announced the establishment of a movement for "social justice," found himself on the hot seat Sunday when police questioned him about a scandal surrounding an allegedly forged letter.

The interrogation concerned a criminal investigation led by Cmdr. Yohanan Danino of the Investigations and Intelligence Division of the Police which was opened two weeks ago as a result of suspicion that someone forged an official document concerning Gaydamak. In State Attorney Eran Shendar's findings, which he submitted to the police, the letter was found to be generated with the intent of damaging the appearance of the Israeli law enforcement community.

Gaydamak, who has been repeatedly investigated by police for a series of offenses, said upon entering the police station late Sunday morning that this was simply the latest attempt to discredit him. "I haven't done anything," said the businessman. "The police are pursuing me because of my criticism of them." "It is especially interesting that I was called for investigation only a number of days after I established a new party," he added. Despite his claims that he was a hapless victim of a police conspiracy, the billionaire was questioned by detectives of the National Fraud Squad at the unit's Bat Yam headquarters for over four hours.

In the possibly forged letter, which was ostensibly sent from the Justice Ministry to Russian law enforcement authorities, a senior ministry official requested that Russian authorities hand over information about Gaydamak and requested Russian cooperation in the event that Israel decided to arrest the billionaire. The letter also accused Gaydamak of laundering money in Israel and of "trying to bring down the Israeli government." Shendar reviewed the matter and discovered that the document did not apparently originate in the Justice Ministry.

But the investigation into Gaydamak does tend to veer off in some strange directions. Ynet News carries this report.:
Business mogul Arcadi Gaydamak will be investigated by the National Fraud Unit Monday following suspicion he gave perks to the prime minister's bureau chief Shula Zaken.

Zaken was suspended for six months at the beginning of February, due to suspicions against her in the alleged bribery affair at the Tax Authority. During a search of Zaken's house police found tickets to the VIP box at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. According to suspicions, Zaken purchased the tickets from Gaydamak at a discounted price.

Gaydamak is the owner of the Beitar Yerushalayim Soccer Club. On Sunday, the Israeli-Russian tycoon was interrogated for four hours by the Fraud Unit, as part of an investigation into the alleged forgery of an official document signed by the Justice Ministry's supervisor of international affairs.

Gaydamak has taken a number of actions as a private citizen which has shown the Kadima coalition to be a singularly inept administration. For instance, during last summer’s war with Lebanon, Gaydamak paid out of his own pocket for a number of tents cities to be established whose sole purpose was to provide a temporary safe haven for citizens in the north to get away from Hezbollah’s rocket fire. Apparently, the idea of moving civilians from the line of fire has never really entered into the Kadima administration consciousness or plans.

Last week Gaydamak announced the establishment of a political party whose sole purpose was to represent social justice issues and would forge ties with Likud fraction. Gaydamak would remain party chairman but would not stand for political office himself. This week we learn he is under investigation for a multitude of alleged offences.

I’ve got to wonder if the beneficiaries were anyone other than Jews would anyone in the Israeli government care, and more importantly; is there now an Israeli equivalent to Siberia?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Geeze, this brings back memories.

One of the headlines at the Drudge Report reads:

Global warming concerns are keeping children awake at night

Half of young children are anxious about the effects of global warming, often losing sleep because of their concern, according to a new report today. A survey of 1,150 youngsters aged between seven and 11 found that one in four blamed politicians for the problems of climate change.
One of my most prominent memories of early elementary school revolves around the fear I felt knowing that the sun was going to burn out and we would all be trying to survive an ice age where millions upon millions of people would simply perish in the cold.

A few years later, I was told in school that I didn't have to worry about dying in the new Ice Age because the population explosion would happen before the sun went nova. Then we were all going to die in the massive wide spread famine which would be the natural consequences of the unchecked population explosion.

By the time I left grade 6, I was taught I didn't have to worry about the population explosion and subsequent famine; because we were all going to die in the initial fallout from a nuclear bomb going off or in the nuclear winter brought on by the denotation of nuclear weapons. And even if no dropped the bomb; there was a significant risk of one of our nuclear power plants going into meltdown and we would all die in the fallout.

According to the progressive policies of my teachers, it should be considered a blessed miracle I will be experiencing my 45th year of life this summer. What I really wonder now is how I ever managed to survive the fears produced from my early elementary education. Though, I really don’t find it particularly comforting to learn that progressive teachers are still the bane of children in elementary school.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

I suspect this will be the first of many stays. Possibly even the first of 18. The Globe and Mail reports:
Terror-related charges against one of 18 suspects arrested in police raids last summer have been stayed, indicating that the accusations levied against at least some of those charged in connection with Canada's most high-profile anti-terror sweep are not nearly as strong as they first appeared.

A youth suspect, whose name cannot be identified, essentially avoided prosecution after the Crown stayed charges against him related to participating in an alleged terrorist training camp. Prosecutors could decide to reactivate the charges within the next year, but lawyers say this rarely happens without the introduction of new evidence. The decision was made public in a Brampton courtroom on Friday morning.

Charges against two other youth suspects have been reduced to one count from two. Because trials have not begun for any of the suspects, the evidence already presented in court during the preliminary hearing remains under a publication ban.

On June 2 of last year, hundreds of police officers converged on 17 suspects in the Toronto area (an 18th was arrested two months later). Members of the group face several charges in connection with an alleged plot to, among other things, storm parliament hill, behead MPs and blow up several Canadian landmarks using truck bombs.

Nobody can say I didn’t try to raise a flag last June when the arrests were originally made and even more recently.

And can I do gloat now?
Perhaps, I would take these arrests far more seriously if anyone had serious connections to the any known terror groups currently operating, but these Al-Qaeda wannabe’s might never have gotten around past the talking the walk if not for the efforts of our own law enforcement officials. Jihad is real, and the consequences are terrifying and tragic for all who have the misfortune to cross the Jihadists’ path. I just am not feeling it here which is no doubt probably a good thing.

If anything, the CSIS and the RCMP appear to have managed to do what no other international law enforcement agency has done before; which is to shut down a Jihad cell of this size. Who would have thought it possible? Certainly not I, and I bet that Maher Arar wouldn’t either. If my memory is not entirely on the fritz, the US’s department of Homeland Security largest single capture was a grand total of 6 in a single swoop in Buffalo.

Another thing that nags at me is the diverse backgrounds with these pre-dominantly young men. Jihad as it is practiced out in the wider world tends to operate in cells based on a similarity of ethnic background. These young men do not share a common ethnic heritage and the bond that ties seems to be strictly their religion. But where Jihad is a way of life in such places as Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq or even Egypt; groups of Jihadists tend to co-operate in cells based on ethnic/tribal lines. It’s a trust issue. Saudis trust other Saudis before they will trust Syrians, Iranians or Palestinians etc. Who knows, maybe it is just another first for Canadian multiculturalism – our Jihadists cross ethnic/tribal lines.

Don’t get me wrong. Jihad is real and religious hatreds run deep and often explode with brutal but casual violence. Nor do I think there is very little that humans are not capable of doing to each other in the name of anything. After all, I’m the woman who has had to live with a Star of David craved in her door inscribed with the immortal phrase “Kill the Jew”.

I try to do really good gloat when I can, because often when I am right, the circumstances are so horrendous, that I cannot possibly live with myself if I were to wallow in the misery and suffering of others.

rush, rush, rush

I am not quite sure why it is but lately my Friday mornings are far too busy to fit in a little blogging. So instead I will leave you with a few short links:

1 metric ton of explosives found on the Egyptian side of the Gaza-Egypt border. Gee, I wonder how that got there.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, having proven himself to be singularly ineffectual against either Hezbollah or Palestinian militant terrorism, has now decided to take a shot at terrorizing a few Jews. No doubt Olmert will be cheering him on to succeed at something.

Khaled Abu Toameh on the Mecca Accord.

Was Lawrence of Arabia a Zionist? What an extraordinary thought, but I am carrying some doubts.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dial 999T-error

A UK charity thinks this is a great idea and is looking for venture capital for the start-up reports the Jerusalem Post.
A UK-based charity plans to set up call centers for technical support in Gaza and the West Bank, in a joint venture with an Israeli company, to help boost the Palestinian economy.

Transformational Business Network (TBN), based in Wimbledon in south London, says it wants to establish the first centers by the end of this year. TBN is currently raising the $1.1 million for the project from investors and international donors.

The registered UK charity said it wanted to devise an effort that would not be affected by the frequent closures imposed on Palestinian areas by Israel. Call center workers will work in local centers using modern call routing technology.

Initially, computer support to serve the Arabic speaking world will be on offer but TBN hopes to branch out into hotel bookings and other services. It will be run by TBN in close cooperation with Palestinian, Israeli and UK partners. The plans are to locate the centers in Beit Jala and Jenin.

A call centre for technical support in the Palestinian Authorities. Insert your favourite ammo/bomb/terror/al-Qaeda joke here.

Hugh Hefner to the rescue

This has to be one of the most Machiavellian ideas I read in some time. I am quoting a bit longer than I normally would from a fellow blogger but I think it’s important to get a true taste of the idea. Taken from Samson Blinded:

No amount of rational discourse would discredit Islam in fanatics’ eyes. They don’t distinguish Islam from AK-47: both form the one source of their power, strength in the crumbling paternalistic order and hopeless economy. Coca-cola and jeans did a tremendous job of destroying the communist empire whose economic deficiency failed to meet consumerist demands. In Islamic societies which depend on imports, Coke and jeans are not symbolic of the free world. Porn is.

There is two forces able to destroy any religion or ideology in the short run, fission and fusion weapons of ideological war: money and sex. Muslim fanatics cannot get money because they utterly lack economic skills. But sex –they could have an illusion of it.

Instead of the bombs and food packages, drop porn magazines and CD’s on Afghanistan. Broadcast porn from satellites and distribute free satellite dishes. Open adult shops in prominent locations, even if guarded by US Army platoons. The war with Islamic insurgents is not decided by weapons.

Rather, the West must deprive Muslims of their best weapon: a soldier who isn’t afraid to die, a supporter who wants to die a suicide bomber. Fighting the Muslims’ bodies doesn’t help: unless beaten into panic, they do want to die, and with one and a half billion Muslims around, enough recruits would flow to insurgents.

Fight their souls, destroy their commitment, offer them the pleasures of paradise – here and now. Take a free porn magazine, pal, and enjoy it without waiting for heavenly houri. Hollywood is better than heavens. Muslims would prefer Hollywood.
It certainly is an audacious idea to use male sexuality to beat Islamist manifest destiny. I think Obadiah maybe on to something, but it takes a minute to get my mind around the idea of picturing the Larry Flynt's of the West as potential heroes in the WOT.

Canadian tax dollars funding Fatah's Presidential Guard

I am beginning to suspect that Canadian foreign aid is a deep dark black hole in which tax dollars continue to be sucked into the vortex and where no ruling party every knows what becomes of the money. At least I am hoping it’s a non-partisan issue; otherwise it appears that the Harper government is no better or worse than any of its predecessors when it comes to foreign aid policy. And that is truly depressing.

Something tells me I should be reading the British Daily Telegraph more often if I want to see know how Canadian tax payer money is being spent in Gaza:
A former Royal Marine is leading a highly sensitive United Nations operation to train the Palestinian Presidential Guard on a mission that has raised concerns about the impartiality of the UN.

Known as the Karni Project, the operation involves training up to 250 members of the Fatah-controlled force to improve security at the Karni Crossing, the main exit from the Gaza Strip for cargo.

The project is jointly funded by Holland, Canada and Britain.

All three emphasise that the Palestinian Guards are not receiving military equipment but training in border management, including search techniques and perimeter security.

But with Fatah clashing regularly with Hamas gunmen in Gaza, there are concerns that the mission will be construed as favouring one side in a nascent civil war.The situation was not helped by the fact that the project was conceived by Lt Gen Keith Dayton, regional security co-ordinator for the United States, which is at loggerheads with Hamas.

Until repeated inquiries by The Daily Telegraph, the mission was being run under a de facto news blackout. "The UN is meant to be totally impartial, above party politics and factional fighting, so to be seen to be helping just the Presidential Guard, which is connected to Fatah, raises very real risks," one UN field officer not involved with the Karni Project said yesterday. Recent rumours of arms shipments to Fatah from Egypt sparked fierce fighting, with Hamas gunmen attacking a convoy of suspect trucks.

Even though the UN has thousands of employees and numerous agencies in Israel and the occupied territories, a UN "entity" that specialises in dangerous missions was brought in from outside. The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which carries out tasks such as de-mining war zones, sent a small team headed by the former British serviceman to run the training project at Karni.

The team leader was selected because his military background prepared him to work in what is regarded as a hostile environment. The former Royal Marine, who has worked on UN missions for the last 13 years, agreed to meet The Daily Telegraph but his name cannot be used for security reasons.

"Our project is completely transparent and involves nothing except improving the capability of the Palestinians running the border crossing," he said. Nevertheless, he and his small team, which include some other former British servicemen, work in conditions of heightened security, wearing bullet-proof vests when they enter Gaza and never spending more than a few hours on site because of the risk of being caught in Hamas-Fatah fighting.

The Karni Project was born out of the worsening economic situation in Gaza following the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and troops in the summer of 2005. Their departure had promised an economic boom led by the export of high-value agricultural products such as cut flowers and cherry tomatoes that would be grown by Palestinian farmers in hothouses vacated by the Israelis.

But the export project collapsed when Israel repeatedly closed the Karni Crossing, the only route for exports, for fear of attack by militants. According to the plan drawn up by Lt Gen Dayton, only by dramatically improving security on the Palestinian side of Karni could a meaningful flow of exports be re-established.

Starting in December, eight specially-selected lieutenants and majors from the Presidential Guard were brought to Jericho in the West Bank to be "trained as trainers" by the UNOPS team. They were only allowed to travel from Gaza to Jericho with Israeli permission, indicating support from Tel Aviv for the project and the improvement in the Presidential Guard capability.

"The first phase of training went well although we identified some shortfalls in leadership that will have to be addressed," the UNOPS team leader said. In January the project shifted to the Karni Crossing itself in Gaza where facilities were found to be basic with no perimeter fence.

It has taken weeks for the UNOPS team to prepare classrooms, a power generator, a secure perimeter and various other items needed to start training the border guards. The first 80 recruits are due to start training next week. The plan is to erect a formidable perimeter wall featuring a steel fence mounted with motion detectors that will pass real-time data to the control room. The site will be patrolled by vehicles mounted with cameras and sensors sending back more data.

Spikes that rise from the road will stop any unauthorised vehicle long before it reaches the border with Israel although the guards will be trained in arrest techniques. The plan is for the guards to remain unarmed on site.

With Karni being used several times in the past by militants to smuggle bombs into Israel, security is high. Now, only 200 truckloads can leave Gaza each day but the plan is to quadruple the flow to 800 once the training is complete. Holland has committed £1.3 million to the project with Canada providing £500,000. Britain has said it will fund £360,000. Project insiders emphasised that no US money is going to the project.
Before anyone utters a comment suggesting that by training Fatah’s Presidential Guard to be better border policeman it improves the lives of Palestinian people; I would like to remind you that Palestinian border agents are not necessarily ineffectual by nature or by a lack of modern training but by way political orientation.

It doesn’t take a highly trained rocket science to not turn the other check when a “martyr in training” attempts to cross the border from Gaza into Israel or is digging a near-by tunnel in order to infiltrate Israel. And do you really expect me to believe that Fatah’s Presidential Guards are so stupid, that when they spot a group of men digging a tunnel not far from the border; their first assumption is that the guys are drilling for water or buried treasure?

Furthermore, let me quote to you the words of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, famed international moderate, and leader of the Fatah party who issued this statement a little over a month ago, "We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation. It is forbidden to use these guns against Palestinians.”

Let me paraphrase this for the willfully obtuse. Kill Jews – okay; Arabs not so hot. And these are the people we are paying to training.

Food Insecurity

'Food insecurity' rampant in West Bank, Gaza screams the headline at Ynet News:
Around 46 percent of Gaza and West Bank households are "food insecure" or in danger of becoming so, The Independent quoted a UN report as saying. According to The Independent, the unpublished draft report on the impact of the global boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority says the problem "is primarily a function of restricted economic access to food resulting from ongoing political conditions."

It took me a long time to wrap my head around the phrase “food insecurity”. I suspect its one of those strange translations anomalies which results from translating English to Hebrew and then into English again.

You can really the whole article but I can do my bit to summarize it.

For the past 12 or so years the Palestinian Authority has chosen to make the acquisition of bombs, guns, and ammo central to its economy rather than focus all their efforts into building a viable, self-staining economy for the West Bank and Gaza.

This has led to the loss of life, livelihoods and malnutrition, ergo, the need for continued and expended welfare payments from the international community to ensure that all Palestinian households have enough to eat while they pursue their chosen first national priority; killing Jews.

Frankly, this is the logical consequence of consistently choosing guns, bombs and ammo over butter, bread and rice. I say, let them eat bullets.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Ceasefire with Israel is Over

Ynet News is carrying this report:
Hamas's Qassam Brigades have declared an end to a ceasefire with Israel, according to a statement released on Wednesday evening. The call to end the truce appeared on Hamas's official website, in both English and Arabic, and is the first time in months that Palestinian armed forces directly under the control of the Hamas government openly threatened to attack Israel.

Abu Obaida, spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, said in the statement that "the truce with the Israeli occupation is no longer valid," citing the "assassination of Islamic Jihad commander" Mahmoud Qassem as the reason.

Qassem was shot dead in the West Bank by Israeli Border Police on Tuesday, after security forces traced a foiled suicide bomb attack planned for Tel Aviv back to him.

In Hamas' statement, Abu Obaida said: "This crime falls in line with a plan to liquidate Palestinian resistance in the West Bank in particular." "The Zionist enemy continues to try to separate between the Bank and Gaza, and we will not accept that. The assassination in Jenin comes as part of an attempt to take out the Palestinian resistance, especially in the West Bank. We demanded from the start that the ceasefire must include the entire homeland and not be divided at the enemy's discretion," he said.

Abu Obaida called for Palestinian organizations to "unite" and "retaliate" against Israel, saying that "the time has come to restore the honor of the Palestinian resistance."

He added that the Qassam Brigades were "reorganizing their lines in the West Bank after sustaining painful strikes." Hamas's terrorist cells were largely destroyed in the West Bank by IDF operations in response to a series of bomb attacks between 2001 and 2004, although Hamas remains the strongest armed force in Gaza.

Throughout the duration of the 'truce,' rockets launched from Gaza have continued to land in southern Israel, and security forces say they foiled many terrorist attacks aimed at targets within Israel.

The Hamas website also said that the Islamic Jihad Quds Brigades fired two "upgraded Quds missiles at Sderot and Majdal (Arabic for Ashkelon) as a premilinary retaliation to the assassination of Qassem," on Wednesday.

A Fatah faction claimed it too fired rockets, targeting an IDF post.

It should be noted that the statement is not a formal announcement from the Hamas movement as a whole.
The first question we should be asking is which of the various and sundry of the terrorist Palestinian militias has not been firing rockets at Israeli civilians since the alleged state of ceasefire commenced last November.

It’s almost laughable for Hamas to declare the truce over for the shooting death of an Islamic Jihad commander. By way of implication, we are to believe; if the Islamic Jihad suicide bomber was successful in imploding in the streets of Tel Aviv, Hamas would still be honoring the “ceasefire”.

I mean really. An Islamic Jihad commander sends a suicide bomber into Israel to implode in streets of Tel Aviv but the Israeli security forces arrest the team before anyone is injured. Then the Israelis learn the identity of those individuals who were involved in the planning and facilitation of the suicide mission and attempt to arrest the suspects. Rather than surrender, the IJ commander decides to get the quick draw on the IDF and goes into the greater bye-bye in the sky. It’s called the luck of the draw and IJ just drew the dud card.

I suppose this is the new face of Palestinian unity but I tell you there is simply no end to the harm a Saudi with a cheque book can cause.

Cuba’s famed healthcare system

From the Britain’s Daily Telegraph comes this tale of woe concerning Cuba’s famed health care system:
Maria, a plastic surgeon at a major hospital in Havana, never fails to enter theatre without her secret weapon: her own pair of scissors. She says they are much sharper than those provided by the hospital, which she thinks are from China.

Her mobile phone has also proved useful. Towards the end of an operation recently she overcame a blackout by asking the assistant to hold up the phone to provide light as she finished off a repair to a damaged brow. "The patient was distraught but we calmed her down. We have a lot of practice at that," she says. Cuba's renowned health service is in frail condition.

It has been a considerable source of pride for the communist authorities since the revolution of 1959, achieving infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable with America's.

But it is now badly short of medicines, instruments and equipment, while many hospitals languish in disrepair. Doctors can earn more as taxi drivers, while anecdotal evidence suggests growing numbers of medics are trying to flee the country.

Maria, not her real name, accurately describes her department, which is located in a basement, as "humid, dirty and dark". The walls look like they have not seen fresh paint in decades. She qualified 15 years ago, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union robbed the Caribbean island of cheap medical imports and precipitated a decline that now appears to be only worsening.

Washington has meanwhile maintained its widely criticised trade embargo. According to the American Public Health Association, the blockade effectively prevents Cuba from purchasing nearly 50 per cent of new drugs, including those for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma.

Critics of Cuba's president Fidel Castro, who was forced by ill health to retire from public life six months ago and hand over power to his brother Raul, argue that his refusal to reform the state-controlled economy and its convoluted rules has helped impoverish the country.

The medical profession is facing further instability thanks to Castro's extraordinary initiative to export 30,000 doctors and dentists to 68 countries around the world, earning vital revenue for them and the nation. Some medics in Havana say the absence of so many colleagues has led to increases in waiting times at hospitals and clinics; they also lament the poorer quality of new trainees. The government insists that with another 70,000 doctors at home the expatriates can be spared.

Human rights groups have noted that doctors are forbidden from taking their children with them on the three-year stints, effectively holding them hostage to guarantee their parents' return.

A colleague of Maria said: "Some want to go for the money, but others don't. For me, it is not worth it — to work in countries with more crime and violence, to be away from family — no way."

The highest number — about 20,000 — work in Castro's major ally Venezuela, which sends Cuba 90,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange. Most of the estimated 500 medics who have so far defected from the programme have done so in Venezuela, with some claiming that they received lower pay than expected or were forced to work in dire conditions.
It always strikes me as absurd that the American trade embargo is always blamed for all of Cuba’s economic, social, political and now, medical woes. And yet, the United States is literally only one country out of an entire world to trade from.

I would love to see the how much money the Cuba economy has actually raked in from the efforts of Cuban government to promote Cuba as a destination of choice for medical tourism. Wasn’t it P.T. Barnum who said, "There is a sucker born every minute!"?

Ah, the awesome power of free markets

And not one single bit of government sponsored legislation was needed to make Telus change its business model.

Life is a Highway

In Israel:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police investigating why a car was blocking traffic in the fast lane of a major highway on Sunday found a couple inside having sex.

A police spokesman said the female driver and her male passenger gave in to their passions without pulling over to the side of the road, causing congestion and leaving other motorists having to swerve to dodge their stationary vehicle.

A patrolman gave the woman a ticket for holding up traffic.
Only a ticket - now that's liberal or is it libertine? But maybe there's another explanation. Israel is a small country which makes every square inch of space valuable; therefore, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume parking or hotel rooms are outrageously priced…

h/t Sandmonkey

Spot the Road Less Traveled

I don’t know what it is about roads lately, but they do seem to be looming large in my world.

Today’s road, is a speech given at a Canadian university by an Israeli Arab Knesset member for the infamous Israel Apartheid Week celebrations held across universities all over North America. I am quoting the Ynet News account.
Israeli democracy was built on the 1948 transfer, said MK Jamal Zahalka of the National Democratic Assembly (NDA) in a speech in a Canadian University during Israel Apartheid Week last Wednesday. Zahalka, the keynote speaker of the event, criticized Israeli democracy, saying it was plagued with demographic frenzy and legislated racist laws such as the Citizenship Law that prevents family unification.
According to an NDA affiliated website,, Zahalka said that the situation in the West Bank and Gaza is far worse than the South African apartheid ever was, since unlike South Africa, Israel is also separating between Palestinians.

"Israel is implementing apartheid policies in Palestine by building the apartheid separation wall, bypass roads for Jews only in the West Bank, restrictions on movement of Palestinians, hundreds of checkpoints, in addition to the siege and daily violation of basic human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza,” the event's official website reported Zahlaka saying.
I am seriously starting to question whether any Israeli Arab Knesset members possess any sense of irony, humour or history.

Anyhow, award yourself 10 points for every outright fib, five points for every hyperbolic statement and an additional 2 points for every embellishment. The winner gets to keep their self-respect in tact.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Some ceasefire

Both the Jerusalem Post and Ynet News carried online accounts of the Islamic Jihad suicide bomber which Israeli security forces successfully apprehended earlier today in Tel Aviv, but it’s only from Arutz Sheva’s account where one learns it was not the only threat:
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority terrorists shot and lightly injured a contractor who was working on the security fence near northern Jerusalem, according to police. The man was treated by first response personnel at the scene of the shooting.

The PA-based attackers were not identified.

An IDF patrol unit also came under enemy attack on Tuesday afternoon. PA terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at the soldiers as they drove next to the southern section of the security fence that runs along the Gaza Strip. No one was hurt in the attack and no damage was reported.

The Elder of Ziyon has been keeping a track of Kassam rocket attacks launched against Israel since the November truce (obviously he has a stronger stomach than I) and has a handy calendar up for quick reference for the month of February. So far today’s account stands at 8 based primarily from Palestinian sources.

Since this is the ceasefire I hate to think what peace looks like.

A change is as good as a rest

For years, I have purposely refused to consider adding web based ads to my blog. I never really thought the financial model would be rewarding enough to sufficiently compensate me for the hassle of getting the templates working in light of the limitations posed from my own code challenged self. That is until recently, when I received an email from an Israeli web based ad group in Jerusalem asking me to consider joining.

So why did I decide Web Ads was worth taking a tousle with? Well, sitting all nice ‘n’ snug or safe ‘n’ sound as it were, behind my computer screen in North American there are only limited opportunities to tangibly support the Israeli state.

There are so many and varied international divestment schemes working world wide to undermine the Israeli state financially, so when I run across an opportunity to show a little support, I try to do what I can. In my mind, running Web Ads is a win-win situation. I do my small part for Israel, plus capitalism. It’s all good. Besides, there are just only so many bottles of Israeli wine a relative tea/coffee-totaler like me can justify buying.

Saudi graduates of the Jimmy Carter School of Diplomacy

Previously, I asked (only half in snark) how much the Saudis shelled out to Hamas & Fatah for the so-called Mecca Accord.

Barry Rubins at the Jerusalem Post has named the price tag for signing on the dotted line for Mecca Accord deal. Say what you will but no one should accuse either Fatah or Hamas as being a cheap date.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Going down the road

Have you ever had the experience of reading about one specific topic only to inadvertently discover the answer to an entirely different question? I was reading this Ynet News opinion piece concerning Jimmy Carter’s latest book today and discovered a fact about West Bank access roads which had previously escaped me.

For at least the last twenty years, I have been hearing about access roads in Judea & Samaria in which only “settlers” (code word for Jews) were allowed to use. I even seem to recall a 60 Minutes episode (from the outer edges of my memory) which utilized the “settler only roads” to highlight the plight of the Palestinian Arabs under the “occupation”.

I admit I was never overtly disturbed by the idea of “settler only roads’ in light of the horrific history of sniper attacks and random acts of violence in the region by Palestinian terrorists. Quite frankly, it seemed like quite a prudent response given the circumstances.

I admit I was somewhat taken back when I read this Treppenwitz post on access roads given the charges of road apartheid, which have been bandied about liberally for years - nor was the irony lost on me.

But it was this opinion piece by Tamar Sternthal carried in Ynet News that brought the issue into direct focus for me.:
Shulamit Aloni's Dec. 31, 2006 Op-Ed in the Hebrew edition of Ynet, in which she alleged that the "American Jewish establishment's onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth (that) Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies," is no exception.

To make her case, Aloni makes two egregiously false assertions. First, she repeatedly states that there are "Jewish only" roads in the West Bank. While there are West Bank roads prohibited to Palestinians, there are no "Jewish only" roads. Israel's Arab citizens and Israeli citizens of any religion or ethnicity have just as much right to travel on those restricted roads as do Israeli Jews. Israeli Arabs frequently use the bypass roads for business and to visit relatives.

Moreover, at least one Israeli Arab, Wael Ghanem, was fatally shot by Palestinian terrorists on one of these roads. Also, Georgios Tsibouktzakis, a Greek Orthodox monk, was shot to death by Palestinian terrorists, while traveling on a supposedly "Jewish only" road. More recently, on June 11, 2006, east Jerusalem Arab Marwan Abed Shweika was killed in a shooting attack on highway 443, which is largely off-limits to Palestinians but open to Israeli Arabs and other non-Jews. (Incidentally, the Dor gas station on highway 443, close to the Palestinian village of Kharbata, is owned and operated by the Hawaja family, Israeli Arabs. Its signs are in Arabic and Hebrew.)

The "Jewish only" roads falsehood is the basis for Aloni's false, defamatory charge that Israel is guilty of South Africa-like Apartheid "racial separation." The real racism, though, is on the part of Aloni, who completely ignores Israel's 20 percent non-Jewish minority which regularly uses those roads.

All of which goes to show that rarely is anything as it seems on surface and never let those with an axe to grind frame the debate. Oh, and the Israelis really do have the worse PR people in the history of the human race.

And the point of UN Resolution 1701 was……

Ynet News is reporting that Israeli military intelligence estimates Hezbollah’s strength has reached pre-war levels:
The Shiite group Hizbullah has succeeded in rehabilitating its forces, a senior army official said Monday. Hizbullah is now almost at the same strength as it was before last summer's war, he said. Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, the head of the Military Intelligence's Research Division, softened his assessment when contradicted by Defense Minister Amir Peretz who charged that Hizbullah's strength cannot be measured and that Baidatz was referring to the group's potential.

Committee members slammed Baidatz's inconsistent testimony and referred the issue to a subcommittee where discussions are held behind closed doors. Likud MK Silvan Shalom said Baidatz retracted on his initial assessment because he had been "shocked" by his words. "In any case, there is no doubt that (UN) Resolution 1701 is terrible and failed completely. Hizbullah continues to arm, the kidnapped soldiers have not returned," said Shalom, referring to the UN Resolution that ended 34 days of fighting between Hizbullah and Israel.

Turning his attention to Syria, Baidatz said Damascus is upgrading its military arsenal for fear of confrontation with Israel. "Syria is undergoing a process of military strengthening. The Syrians are worried about a military confrontation with Israel and they do not want to initiate that," he said.

Let’s face it. It’s just not nice or very smart to call the Minister of Defense (when he's your boss) either clueless or a liar.

I don't care and you can't make me.

Five things I have absolutely no interest in:

1. Britney Spears – with or without hair.

2. Anna Nicole Smith – I’m way pass done interested in this.

3. Stephane Dion is a big Di-Yawn and so is his little dog too.

4. Stephane Dion on Climate Change and you can’t make me care as long as the temperature is -14°C

5. Diesel launching climate change clothing. Nor do I drink urine to remain 'youthful'.

Friday, February 16, 2007

So why no new posts?

My physical life has intruded into my existence in the blogsphere. I have no idea what’s really going on in the larger world. In fact, anything beyond a 10 foot radius around my physical self is currently a void zone.

To further complicate things, I am to make an appearance here on Saturday night. I suspect it will be another of those learning experiences as I haven’t a thing to say.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Russian Army Puts out the red lights - literally

I have heard so many outrageous stories about conditions and morale in the Russian conscript army so this BBC report which alleges Russian conscripts are being forced to work as prostitutes is not absolutely shocking - only downright so:

The command of the interior ministry unit denied the claims made by the Soldiers' Mothers human rights group. The group says it was contacted by a parent of a conscript who had been forced to work as a male prostitute.

Last year, an 18-year-old soldier was so badly beaten that he had to have his legs and genitals amputated. The BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says the latest claims follow a series of scandals which have damaged the Russian army's reputation.

A spokeswoman for the Soldiers' Mothers, Ella Polyakova, told the BBC that in St Petersburg there was "a network of clients" who would pay for sex with soldiers. Older servicemen are said to have forced younger conscripts into prostitution and then taken the money for themselves.

The Sychev bullying case drew worldwide attention to Russian army abuses. Private Andrei Sychev was forced to squat for several hours by fellow soldiers and then tied to a chair and brutally beaten up last year. As a result he developed gangrene in his legs and genitals, which had to be amputated. Now permanently disabled, Pte Sychev has just announced that he is to write a book about his ordeal.

I suppose this could be characterized as Putin's version of Churchill's "Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash".

Mecca accord stalls

The Mecca Accord has stalled, but it really just underscores how seriously Fatah & Hamas took this whole unity deal thing, as rather than shoot and slug it out on the streets of Gaza, the boys managed to paper over their differences for 6 whole days. Or until the forces that be, well be. Ynet News Reports:
The Palestinian unity government deal reached in Mecca between Hamas and Fatah was thrown into question Wednesday night when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled the Thursday speech in which he intended to present the deal to the Palestinian people.

Abbas also called off a Thursday visit to the Gaza Strip, where he was slated to deliver to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh the letter of appointment for the establishment of the coalition government.

Palestinian sources said the crisis broke out due in part to disagreements over the Interior Ministry portfolio. According to the sources, the conflict primarily resulted from disagreement over appointments. Haniyeh was supposed to serve his resignation Thursday immediately after Abbas’ speech. Now, however, Haniyeh has delayed his resignation.

Hamas officials claimed the delay was due to technical problems, but Fatah representatives said it was because Hamas introduced conditions which contradicted the Mecca agreement. In either case, it appeared that the unity government, which both sides declared would be established already this week, would not go into effect at present.

Where’s a Saudi with a cheque book when you need one?

Tick, tock, tick, tock

I have probably one of the few so-called right-wingers who don’t believe an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is in the cards under the waning days of the Bush Administration. I can always be surprised, and boy, would I ever be surprised to see the US lead a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities anytime in the next two plus years.

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Israel Our Home party and Minister of Strategic Affairs, is saying much the same thing openly to the Israelis reports Arutz Sheva:

( Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Russian immigrant party Yisrael Beiteinu said that the Jewish State will not be able to depend on the international community to protect Israel from the Iranian threat. The Strategic Affairs Minister said bluntly that the world will not defend Israel against a nuclear Iran.

“We will have to face the Iranians alone, Lieberman said in an interview broadcast on Israel Radio. Israel cannot remain with its arms folded, waiting patiently for Iran to develop non-conventional weapons.”

An internal European Union report leaked to the media this week documented that diplomatic interventions have been ineffective and probably will continue to be so.

“In practice…the Iranians have pursued their program at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the United Nations or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone,” read the report. “Iran has shown great resilience to outside pressure in the past……” The EU report noted that “At some point we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons program.”

It’s been my personal belief that despite all the high flaunting rhetoric via the US and the EU on the potential dangers of a nuclear armed Iran it just doesn’t translate as anything more tangible than ‘tisk, tisk’ for the Israelis. Americans carry a strong isolationistic core in their national identity while EU member states have a long distinguished history of appeasement in theirs. Let's be blunt - the annals of history are not exactly overflowing with the names of people or countries who have willfully laid down their lives to help or protect the Jews.

And the clock is ticking.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Terror Free Mutual Funds

I suppose this is only logical - given the times we live in. Taken from the website of The Roosevelt Anti-Terror Multi-Cap Fund:
In 2005, The Roosevelt Anti-Terror Multi-Cap Fund (ABMGF) became the world’s first mutual fund to adhere to the principles of “terror-free” investing. “Terror-Free Investing” is a new values-based investment strategy whereby an investor chooses to divest from -- or screen out of portfolio -- the stock of companies that do business in Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan and/or North Korea. For more information on “Terror-Free Investing,” please go to

“Terror-Free Investing” is usually pursued by investors that:
1. Wish to align their personal views on terrorism-sponsorship with their investment strategy; and
2. Are seeking to protect against risks associated with such business activities (i.e., so-called “global security risk.”
The decision by ABMGF to avoid all companies with business activities in or with terrorist-sponsoring states was based on client interest in investing “terror-free” as well the advantage of avoiding companies that may be exposed to global security risk (i.e., risks associated with doing business in these countries).

Terror-Free Investing in Practice

Over 400 publicly traded companies have active business ties to countries that support terrorism.(1) In many cases, these companies provide important revenues, advanced equipment and technology as well as political cover to Iran, Syria, Sudan and other terrorist-sponsoring nations. These facts are leading many Americans to ask themselves: Why am I investing in companies whose corporate transactions benefit our enemies? A better question might be: Why is my mutual fund or financial advisor investing in such companies on my behalf?

To maintain its “Terror-Free” portfolio, the ABMGF works with Conflict Securities Advisory Group (CSAG). CSAG is a Washington, DC-based, independent, impartial research group that specializes in identifying and assessing more than 400 publicly traded companies with operations in U.S. State Department-designated terrorist sponsoring states.

CSAG has developed a multi-tiered certification process to ensure that the ABMGF excludes all companies that have business ties to terrorist-sponsoring states. Specifically, the fund has access to CSAG’s proprietary database to screen companies prior to acquiring their stock for the ABMGF. CSAG likewise receives real-time reports on any purchase made by the fund to ensure compliance and maintains an open communication line with ABMFG to discuss any issues that may arise regarding a prospective holding of the fund.

Through this extensive certification process, the ABMFG is able to confidently offer its clients the world’s only mutual fund certified by CSAG to be free of any company that has business activities in or with terrorist-sponsoring countries.

This is not an endorsement of the fund, but it certainly is interesting. If we could only get governments to show as much initiative as portfolio managers.

h/t Boker tov, Boulder!

Sex-Fu Challenge

I was riding the subway into the office this morning and I was struck by a thought while looking a particular billboard style ad on the train. The ad which captured my attention was prompting passer-byers to take the Sex-Fu Challenge (text message edition) and win a video ipod.

Now I have an ipod and I am not particularly keen to get a video ipod; probably because I am long past the age where staring into a tinsey bitsy screen holds any kind of reward or pleasure. At 44, size means a great deal. I think it’s a fair guess that I am not the target or key demographic this promotion was aimed at. Although, I was a key demographic riding the subway car in which the ad was posted in.

But here’s my thought. If after 30 years of sex education in the elementary, middle and secondary schools our young people still fail to take in what should be the key components of any sex education program (how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and how to take charge and care of your own sexual health) I think it’s safe to say it’s long past the time to change the curriculum drastically and immediately.

Promoting Sex-Fu challenge on a public subway train represents the most dismal kind of indictment of the sex education programs currently being offered in our schools. While it’s cute and eye catching, it only underscores the failure for our educational experts at the Ministry of Education to develop an effective way of teaching sex education to our young people.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one little irony. Free love can kill you in more ways than one.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Maybe it’s time to re-think the Camp David Accords

And so much for Jimmy Carter’s one great foreign policy success. Ynet News reports this:
Egyptian parliament convenes special meeting to discuss works near Mugrabi Gate; legislators from President Mubarak's party call to 'trample' 1979 peace treaty with Israel; 'that cursed Israel is trying to destroy al-Aqsa mosque,' member of President Mubarak's party says

"That cursed Israel is trying to destroy al-Aqsa mosque...Nothing will work with Israel except for a nuclear bomb that wipes it out of existence." Mohamed el-Katatny of President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) told the Egyptian Parliament.

During the special parliamentary meeting, which was convened to discuss controversial renovations near the Mugrabi Gate in East Jerusalem, other members of el-Katatny's party called to revoke Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel. "The war with Israel is still ongoing whether we like it or not," NDP legislator Khalifa Radwan said.

Mohamed Amer, another ruling party member, said: "What this (Israeli) gang is doing makes me demand that we trample over all the agreements we signed." The parliament has little say in national security issues or foreign policy, ultimately dictated by Mubarak who has rejected similar calls in the past.
I suppose we should be grateful that the Egyptian parliament has so little influence, but if it is any way reflective of popular sentiment of ordinary Egyptians - its time to re-think the whole peace treaty deal. Perhaps it would help if it was renamed the Camp David Détente.

I see I didn't miss much

I’ve spent a lost weekend with the Last Amazon catching up with BSG. The boys didn’t seem to complain much as long as I kept the meals coming and regular. We are almost half-way to through season 3 so I missed most of the news for the weekend.

Apparently, the mayor of Jerusalem has suspended all repair work on the Mughrabi Gate in order to give the Palestinians time to settle down and cooler heads to prevail. Good luck with that.

Kassams continue to be launched into Israel.

Abbas tells Israel there is no choice but to accept the new “unity” government but Hamas still hasn’t changed its tune according to Reuters.

All in all, can’t say I feel like I have missed much.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What do modern men really want?

A French hosiery company thinks men want their own line of panty-hose – I shit you not.
DIJON, France (AFP) - One of France's leading hosiery makers is launching a new line for men next month -- pantyhose with a welcome front opening and big feet, available in thick mannish knit but also as sheer tights.

Gerbe, which is based in eastern France, said this week that the country's first hosiery line for men would go on sale in March "due to increasing demand from male clients."

The pantyhose comes with a larger belt than for women as well as an opening, with "Men opaque", "sheer" or "satin" available in four models of tights, with and without feet, and three models of feel-good knee-high hosiery made to help drain toxins and massage tired limbs.

Where’s John Wayne when you need him? But seriously, I am told lumberjacks will actually wear women’s queen-size panty-hose under the thermal long johns for extra warmth while working in the woods during the winter but….I haven’t actually met a man who owned up to it. Lumberjack or not – well except for the Trannie I met in the public laundry mat a few weeks ago (my washer died after 15 years – damn the Japanese and their planned obsolesce).

The Yahoo article goes on suggesting a French fashion messaging board was responding to the announcement “with a touch of scepticism” but before you breathe a sigh of relief for French manhood the comments posted ranged from "Why create pantyhose for men when women's tights are fine?" said one. Tights are unisex," said another, "except that women's are always softer."

I shouldn’t really be too surprised as this was this was one of the military get-ups of French UNIFIL forces deployed last summer in Lebanon. (French soldiers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).(AFP/Dominique Faget)

French manhood is now officially an oxymoron at The Last Amazon. And for the Last Amazon as well as her mother. I am not sure about the boys. As soon as they can get control of themselves and pick up their heaving selves off the floor - I’ll try asking again. I don’t know, maybe France should seriously consider attracting a huge influx of Lebanese men to coach French males on how to be men and French at the same time.

Are You a Liberal Anti-Semite?

I took the Slate’s "Are you a Liberal Anti-Semite?" Quiz to fill a moment of boredom.

The first question I actually scored a point on was by answering 'a' to question number 4:

4. Which state's offenses against humanity bother you most?

a) Sudan
b) Israel
c) Massachusetts

I ultimately did chose Sudan, but I will own up to pausing and waffling a moment between Massachusetts and Sudan. Just think Ted Kennedy/John Kerry and you should understand my momentary dilemna.

The only other question I gained a point on was question number 10.

10. The term neoconservative suggests:

a) Erstwhile leftie radicals who grew disenchanted with the welfare state.
b) A cabal of pro-Israel intellectuals who have hijacked our foreign policy.
c) A code word for "Jews" used by the people who answered (b).

I have to admit to being a little confused over the term 'neoconservative'. I know what I believe the term means, but then, neo-con has morphed to become code for some many other things (depending on who is hissing it) that I just I can’t seem to keep up with all the various nuances or keep them straight in my own mind. In the end, I thought 'David Horowitz' and went with that.

My result: 2 points in total. Apparently that makes me not an Anti-Semite (no real surprise there) but I am no liberal either. Whoosh, what a relief!:
0-3: OK, you're not an anti-Semite. But you're not a liberal either. You win a lifetime subscription to Commentary and this sheaf of old AIPAC newsletters.

Bumbling into War?

So asserts Caroline Glick’s latest column at the Jerusalem Post:
Today Israel's leaders claim that Saudi Arabia is our new best friend. The Wahhabis will protect us from Iran and its proxies they promise. It's difficult to see how this view jibes with reality.

Indeed today, in a manner eerily reminiscent of last spring, we are on the precipice of a new war and our leaders stubbornly reject truth for delusion. Unless they acknowledge reality soon, they will again bar the IDF from fighting effectively, again maneuver us into diplomatic isolation and so again lead Israel to defeat.
With this in mind, it is our duty today to take a hard look at reality.

As they did in the months that preceded the outbreak of their jihad in September 2000, for the past several months the Palestinians have been accelerating their preparations for war. On Monday Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Director Yuval Diskin revealed some of those preparations.

Diskin said that in 2006, the Palestinians imported 30 tons of explosives into Gaza from Egypt. Hamas has dug 10 tunnels into the western Negev from which it will be able to launch attacks against the IDF or against civilians. The situation along the breached Gaza-Egypt border is even worse. Diskin referred to the weapons and personnel smuggling tunnels there as "one big rabbit warren."

As the Palestinians prepare themselves for battle, this week they invented their justification for attacking the Jews. Just as they did in September 2000, this week Palestinian and Israeli Arab leaders opened their propaganda campaign for war by falsely accusing Israel of conspiring to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount.

Like its excavation by the Western Wall that has been going on quietly for the past several months, the Israel Antiquities Authority coordinated its salvage dig by the Mughrabi Gate of the Old City with the Islamic Wakf, the Jordanian government and all other relevant authorities before its archeologists began their work this week. Everyone understood that the excavation is being conducted 70 meters away from the Temple Mount and will in no way affect it.

But facts are irrelevant. The Arabs are not interested in the facts. They are interested in war. Sheikh Abdullah Nimer Darwish, the head of the southern branch of the Israeli Islamic movement, made this point clearly Thursday morning when he told Israel Radio that the war will likely begin when the heads of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, return from Mecca. It can be reasonably concluded from Darwish's statement that the Fatah-Hamas unity talks taking place in Mecca have more to do with coordinating the coming jihad than with dividing government ministries in their soon-to-be-formed, Saudi-sponsored terrorist unity government.

However the talks conclude, there is no doubt that the PA is gunning for war with Israel. Palestinian television, which Abbas and Fatah control, has been showing incendiary live and archival footage from the Temple Mount for the past three days. The images are interspersed with speeches by Palestinian and pan-Islamic leaders calling on the Muslim world to protect Al Aksa mosque.

As Israel's leaders praise the Saudis for their role in promoting the peace process, Al-Jazeera satellite network is broadcasting live calls to war to the entire Muslim world live from the Temple Mount. While Al-Jazeera reporters have been kicked out of Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan for calling for war against anyone who doesn't talk like Osama bin Laden, and even the PA closed its offices twice, the Israeli government apparently has no problem with Al-Jazeera reporters calling the Islamic world to launch a genocidal jihad against the Jewish state from the Temple Mount.
So too, today, the escalation of enemy incitement and operations is anything but random. On February 21, IAEA inspectors are scheduled to report to the Security Council that in defiance of Resolution 1737 from two months ago, Iran has not ceased its uranium enrichment activities. In the wake of this report, the sanctions set out in the resolution are supposed to be firmly enforced.

On the Iraqi front, hostilities between the US and Iran escalate daily and signs abound that the much awaited US offensive in Baghdad is about to start. If successful, the offensive will seriously weaken Iranian proxy forces in that country and similarly weaken Iran's influence over the Iraqi government.

All in all, a two-front war against Israel would go a long way towards advancing Iran's interests today.

Indeed. It’s well worth reading the whole column here.

Mughrabi Gate Riots, Day XXXXXXX

Ynet News reports that police and rioters continue to clash over the repairs to the Mughrabi Gate on the Israeli side of the Western wall.
Police forced their way into the Temple Mount firing stun grenades at Muslim rioters who hurled stones at policemen in protest at renovation work near the complex shortly after Friday prayers ended.

Five Arab youths have been arrested outside the Old City, police said, for hurling stones and inciting for violence. A total of 17 arrests have been made. Over 3,000 policemen were deployed in Jerusalem as police raised the level of alert in the capital for fear of riots over digs near the Temple Mount.

A number of worshipers who barricaded themselves inside the al-Aqsa Mosque to avoid police arrest were convinced by a number of Arab MKs to vacate peacefully after police officer promised not to arrest them for throwing stones. Police said all forces will leave the Temple Mount complex once the group evacuates the mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine.

The Waqf, the religious Muslim endowment that rules the Temple Mount, warned police against storming the mosque to nab the suspects. Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh demanded that Israel withdraw its "occupation forces" from the Temple Mount and "occupied Jerusalem," describing the police's confrontation with rioters as a deliberate act of aggression.

"This government is determined to play with fire that will spill blood ... It is the Palestinians' right to protest at the provocative works near the al-Aqsa Mosque," Barakeh added.

The operative word here is "near" and not "at" but obviously it is a distinction the Waqf’s has chosen to ignore. I would suggest what really gets under the Waqf’s skin is the fear as more and more excavation occurs, and older and older Jewish artifacts are found from antiquity, it firmly builds up a body of evidence which is almost impossible to repute the fact that the Jews have indeed come home. It changes the whole nuance of who is the occupier.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Don't bring a rifle to a tank fight

The UN Security Council will be investigating last night’s border skirmish when the Lebanese Army fired on the IDF position within the Israeli side of the blue line reports the Jerusalem Post.

The Security Council and the new secretary-general expressed deep concern Thursday at the first clashes between Israeli and Lebanese forces following last year's war between Israel and Hizbullah and appealed to all parties to observe a UN-brokered ceasefire.

Neither the council nor Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an immediate assessment of blame for Wednesday night's exchange of fire - but it appeared that an Israeli bulldozer did not cross the Blue Line, the border drawn by the United Nations after Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 after an 18 years.

The border between Lebanon, Israel and Syria remains in dispute, but the Blue Line is referred to in the ceasefire resolution adopted by the Security Council on Aug. 11 at the end of the 34-day Israeli-Hizbullah war.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Thursday denounced what he called Israel's violation of the Blue Line near the village of Maroun el-Rass, scene of heavy fighting in the war. The bulldozer drove about 20 meters (22 yards) into Lebanon, Lebanese military officials said.

But Slovakia's UN Ambassador Peter Burian, the current council president, said Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno told members at a closed briefing Thursday that "there was no violation of the Blue Line."

Liam McDowell, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon known as UNIFIL, said the exchange of fire was "initiated by the Lebanese army" when the Israeli bulldozer crossed a "technical fence" to clear mines. That "technical fence" was built by the Israelis in their territory but it is not at the Blue Line, and Israel controls additional territory between the fence and the UN-drawn border.

UN spokesman Michele Montas said the exchange of fire was initiated by the Lebanese armed forces after an Israeli bulldozer "crossed the technical fence in an apparent attempt to clear the area between the technical fence and the Blue Line of mines."

The Security Council said it looked forward to ascertaining "all the facts" from UNIFIL and to a forthcoming tripartite meeting of UN, Lebanese and Israeli military officers requested by the UNIFIL Commander, Maj. -Gen. Claude Graziano. "The members of the council expressed deep concern about this incident," a council statement said. "The members ... appealed to all parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety, to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action that could further escalate the situation." When the clash began, Montas said Graziano "was in contact with both sides, urging them to cease hostilities immediately," and both sides stopped.

Some how I don’t think yesterday’s events went quite the way Graziano suggests, if this Jerusalem Post account from yesterday is to be believed.

Shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday evening, Lebanese troops opened fire with machine guns at IDF Engineering Corps soldiers who were operating in Israeli territory in search of roadside bombs and land mines.

The troops returned fire with two tank rounds.

The Lebanese army said none of its soldiers were harmed in the incident; however, UNIFIL claimed earlier that at least five Lebanese soldiers were wounded or killed.

Following the incident, Defense Minister Amir Peretz held consultations with active Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and other top officers. Earlier Wednesday, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) had been threatening to open fire on IDF troops operating near the border.

No doubt the IDF will be criticized for disproportionate use of force when the UN Security council is done its' investigation.

What price unity?

Fatah and Hamas have signed a unity deal in Saudi Arabia. My only comments are to ask how much the Saudis shelled out for ‘unity’ pledge, and if any Jews die, can their families seek restitution from the Saudis?

I can’t believe this dog still has legs.

Ynet News is reporting that Egypt has decided to wade into the Mugrabi Gate Fiasco.
Egypt summoned the Israeli envoy in Cairo to the Foreign Ministry on Thursday to protest against excavations by the Jewish state near Jerusalem's most sacred Muslim shrine.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it told the Israeli ambassador, Shalom Cohen, that the excavations could hurt efforts to revive the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"The Foreign Ministry also stressed that the sacredness of the site makes any movement inside or around it a very sensitive issue for Arab and Muslim peoples, in a way that could cause the situation to explode," the statement said.

Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, on Wednesday called the Israeli excavations a "sinful aggression" and appealed for global action to protect the shrine, Islam's third holiest site. Tantawi is the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar mosque, one of the oldest and most prominent seats of Muslim religious thinking
Egypt, Syria, Iran, Jordan. Oy vey. Who’s next?

I can’t believe I have outlived Anna Nicole Smith.

It’s not like I had a great deal in common with Smith. Her ways were not mine but I can appreciate how she went about living her life larger than her dreams, and Anna Nicole even dreamed big – as in very big. She always emanated a particular kind of zest for life.

Actually, she reminds me very much of my own great grandmother. No doubt the two of them would have gotten on like a house on fire. And yes, my great-grandmother terrorized many a man and the neighbors in her day - as in no man safe, no marriage sacred and no fortune left unturned.

Rest in peace, and go in grace, Anna Nicole.

United in Hate

I shamelessly stole part of the title from a great post at Simply Jews.

It’s bad enough that SnoopytheGoon has me seeing blood libels everywhere I turn since last weekend. From the Koran to Poets, to vampire legends, to a dingbat Italian professor who believes confessions evicted under torture (circa 1100-1500) can be used as valid historical evidence for Jews using gentile blood in religious rituals.

I am so sick of the whole sordidness of the blood libel imagery that I don’t have the heart to even attempt to do a more recent and potentially more serious one justice. Let’s call this the Mugrabi Gate Fiasco and SnoopytheGoon has the details. Besides he not only has all the details put forward in a coherent fashion, but he has pictures plus diagrams. It’s like a three-for 1.


It’s time to start planning and publicizing the FIFTH ANNUAL EAT AN ANIMAL FOR PETA DAY on March 15th. Last year I did BBQ, and since this is the fifth year I am thinking something particularly galling for PETA-ics is in order. I am kind of leaning towards roast veal but I have an open mind for any recipes/suggestions; the only caveat is that it cannot include pork in any way.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dion: Liberal gift that refuses to quit giving to Harper's Conservatives

Check this out. Here’s the money quote that got my attention:
Either Dion hasn't been reading Turner's blog ( which gets a million hits a month, or Garth has made some strong assurances he'll toe the party line.
If Turner’s blog gets a million hits a month, I might as well quit blogging now. Though I have got to wonder who slipped those numbers to Roy Clancy at the Calgary Sun. And does Roy not know; never take anything on faith when supplied as a courtesy from a Liberal – even a newbie Liberal should never be given the benefit of the doubt. There’s already just something dodgy about anyone even contemplating joining the Liberal party of Canada of 2007.

I haven’t blogged about Garth Turner’s floor crossing to the Liberals. It just so bores me, but good luck to Dion.

Actually, Dion is shaping to be an interesting character. The really astonishing thing about Dion is how he has never been Prime Minister and he has been the new Liberal leader for only about three months time; but this guy knows how to collect baggage at a rate in which a lesser liberal would need successive parliamentary terms to require.

No shades of gray

I’m not a good party girl and I mean that literally as well as politically. That’s just one of the reasons I never signed up to join the Blogging Tories. Nor am I overtly fond of a number of political Tories currently holding seats in the provincial and federal parliaments, but I gotta say; I still think Harper’s the Man. The National Post covers a Harper speech:
Mr. Harper's vocal support for Israel has been unswerving despite criticism from the opposition that the government has abandoned Canada's traditional neutral role in the Middle East. The Prime Minister said there are no "shades of grey" when a battle pits a democratic state against terrorist groups seeking to destroy it and its people.
(h/t National Newswatch)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Politicos do Sci Fi

For a long time I just figured that a number of world leaders and even certain members of the Israel’s upper tier political class were more than a marginally daft when you stuck a microphone in their faces and listened to what came out of their mouths concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nothing they said ever seemed to match the events on ground level. Now I finally figured it out and I just feel so stupid. As per the usual, I am one of the last to know. They live in an alternative political reality.

Just like all those alternative reality scenarios which Sci Fi television shows always make at least one episode revolve around per season. Today’s alternative reality moment is brought to us by British Foreign Minister, Margaret Beckett, who is currently visiting Israel. She took the time to address the Israeli press and share her alternative reality. Ynet News reports:

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Tuesday during talks in Jerusalem with her Israeli counterpart that there exists a window of opportunity to revive the long-stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. "If we proceed carefully, there exists at the moment a possibility to push the peace process forward," Beckett told reporters after talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

After I read this, I started to think maybe it would be a good idea if some kind of international litmus IQ test was instituted for all politicians. In order to receive their diplomatic passports and leave their home country to tour the world they would have to achieve an IQ scores greater than 105. It would certainly save Canadians a little embarrassment by keeping our current FM effectively corralled and prevent him from making boneheaded comments while speaking aboard.

I admit the whole “window of opportunity” crap really stumped me. As in my reality, the actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah wouldn’t let me see the window. It didn’t help that Gaza has been smouldering 24/7 for the last 4+ days. And don’t forget the repeated showdowns brought to us courtesy of the world’s longest non-stop ceasefire. That's practically guaranteed to keep your vision so clouded you cannot find a double-wide open barn door - let alone a window of opportunity.

Then it hit me. It’s a vision of an alternative reality. In another dimension things are going along swimmingly. Palestinians of all political moderations are holding hands and singing Kumbaya. The Israelis hear their song and realize not only that peace is on the horizon but is within their grasp; if only they reach out and embrace their neighbours. It’s either that or politicians of all political stripes have embraced the Geobbel principle of telling a lie long and loud enough so that people start to believe the hype.

Terror U

Hamas and Fatah enter into the final stage of another non-stop truce agreement.

No doubt it is to keep up with the spirit of unity that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh calls on all Arabs within Israel and the territories to rally at Al Aqsa Mosque in order to prevent repairs and maintenance work from being done on the Temple Mount by the Israelis.

The rally leads to the arrest of 11 for stone throwing but mostly it’s a poor showing.

Islamic Jihad tries to prop up the protest by claiming the kassams fired into Israel today were in retaliation for the work being done by the Israelis on the Temple Mount. Lame, so very lame.

But really, the most interesting story is this Ynet News report:
Abbas' Special Forces, which raided Hamas' stronghold last weekend, were looking not only for arms but also for any lead on kidnapped Israeli. Palestinian sources say Shalit was held at university for most of his time in captivity but was relocated in mid-October

Kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit spent most of his time in captivity imprisoned on the campus of the Islamic University in Gaza, said senior Palestinian sources on Monday. Shalit was kidnapped on June 25th 2006 and up until three months ago had been held at the university – a prominent Hamas stronghold – but arguments amongst his captors led to his relocation.

The Islamic University is under complete Hamas control, with faculty members and students alike all loyal to the organization. Within its walls there are not only regular academic studies but also military training and religious preaching.

Palestinian officials have labeled the university a "sanctuary for wanted men" and they note that Hamas mastermind Yahya Ayyash fled from the West Bank to Gaza in 1995 and hid in the Islamic University for several months during the time he was being pursued by Israeli forces for his role in numerous suicide bombings in the 90's.

Ayyash and other wanted Hamas members took advantage of the fact that none but Hamas loyalists set foot in the university. That changed last Thursday when troops from Fatah's Force 17 raided the university campus, confiscating some 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, hundreds of RPG launchers and massive amounts of ammunition.

Fatah troops also uncovered a tunnel opening leading all the way to the Palestinian Police headquarters in Gaza City. Estimates suggest Hamas had intended to fill the tunnel with explosives and destroy the police building. Palestinian sources say that during the raid forces also tried to find any clues which may lead them to the location of Shalit.

First there were rumors of Fatah capturing Iranians (including one possible Iranian General) at this Hamas University late last week. Now there is claim that the university harbored an IDF captive. I really don't have to strain too hard to imagine what core curriculum first year students studied –tunnel digging & maintenance, chemical engineering, rocket science…and for the liberal art students; Blood Libel 101.