Monday, July 31, 2006

Deeply regret...omelet...eggs

As noted here, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay has thus far restricted his own public statements on the Israel/Lebanon conflict to those previously stated by Condi Rice.
Today MacKay will face questions from the opposition for the first time.
In light of this, I have compiled the following helpful cheat sheet for him.

Number of children killed in Israeli air raid on Qana yesterday - 34

Number of Lebanese refugees - 750,000
Number of Lebanese casualties - 750
Number of Israeli casualties - 33 soldiers and 18 civilians
Number of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails - 9,153
Number of Israelis captured by Palestinians since 1984 - 1

Bonus tip : Polling on Lebanese support for the Hezbollah resistance as reported by the Christian Science Monitor: an increase of 29% since February :
Shiite - 87%
Sunni - 89%
Christian - 80%
Druze - 80%
So if you wanted to finish on an upbeat note, Mr MacKay, you could point out that your government's support of the US/Israeli "Birth of a New Middle East" policy is helping to unite Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians in a common cause.
Or you could just quote Condi again : something about deeply regret...omelet...eggs.
Tuesday update - Two corrections required here :
A typo : Number of Israelis captured by Palestinians since 1994 : 1
And not doing my own fact checking : Shiite support for Hezbollah resistance : 96.3%
You can read the rest of the Beirut Center For Research poll here.
Update #2
No regrets or eggs or omelets from MacKay today.
I guess Israel denouncing the ceasefire an hour after Condi's plane left the ground following her announcement of an immanent ceasefire threw him off his game a bit.
Wait a minute....what's this? Holy shit! New post!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Middle East Infographic - updated version

The Independent ran an infographic as its front page a week ago.
I've, uh, updated the text and moved Canada over to the 'right' side.

You can see the original here, thanks to The Gazetteer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A matter of judgment

Then :
When the National Post ran a story back in May claiming that Iran had passed a law requiring Jews to wear coloured labels in public, Harper came out of the gate guns ablazing :

"Unfortunately, we've seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action," Harper said.
"We've seen a number of things from the Iranian regime that are along these lines . . .
"It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany."

Guilty as charged by NaPo.
Unfortunately for Harper, that story was complete bullshit, a bogus plant from an American neo-con shill.

Now :
When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan charged Israel with "deliberately targeting" the clearly marked UN post with six hours of shelling despite ten phone calls asking them to stop - which were answered each time with promises that they would do so - until a direct hit wiped out the post entirely, Harper has doubts.:

"Harper says he seriously doubts Israeli forces deliberately targeted a UN post in south Lebanon, killing a Canadian and three other unarmed observers, and wants to know why the station was even being manned in the midst of what amounts to a war."

Or as Rusty Idols so eloquently puts it : (satirically, I might add)

"Bitch shouldn't have been wearing those 'come fuck me' pumps after dark in that neighborhood. It's her fault and she probably wanted it."

Yeah, I'm totally fine with having a PM whose unquestioning support of all things National Post extends to his blaming Canadian UN peacekeeper Major Paeta Hess-Von Krudener for getting killed if it makes Israel look bad and puts him on the spot with his neo-con buddies.

And the other shoe drops

Back here we were waiting for the junior member of the fabulous duo tag-team of Rice&MacKay to catch up to flip-flop speed.

July 21 Condi : Ceasefire bad
July 23 MacKay : Yeah, bad!
July 24 Condi : Ceasefire urgent now!
July ?? MacKay : ......???.........
(.....where'd my dish go? it was right here a minute ago...)

But yesterday MacKay got his second chance:
Condi : "We have to have a plan ...a ceasefire that will be sustainable."

Wait for it....wait for it....don't rush it..... and Good boy!
"Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay agreed with Washington's position."

I must admit I was skeptical at first, but now I believe MacKay is really getting the hang of this whole Foreign Lapdog Affairs thing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's like a whole bunch of tubes, see...

The federal government recently paid $65,000 for a report that told them :
1) people use search engines to find things on the net and
2) their website blows.
And to think I could have given them that exact same information for only about $50,000.

The relevant quotes from CanWest :

"Most searching was done through a search engine, felt to be by far the easiest way to find whatever one is looking for," the report's executive summary concluded.
"There was very little spontaneous recall of the Government of Canada Web site."

Really? Even with those pictures of Steve about to snort some kittens?

OK, to be fair, the report was not really about the gov site itself. It only assessed the public's ability to remember vanity URLs and the extent to which they use search engines.
(Ed : Never and lots. Where's my $50K?)

Still, the report did recommend changing the current "gc" suffix to "gov".
Just like, you know, in the States.

So how about Did you try that one?
Or ?

But to really increase traffic from search engines, I would recommend the Canadian government use something more along the lines of

Probably need a tinyhurl for that last one.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Kidnapped?...or captured inside Lebanon

India enews reported on July 12 2006 ...July 12... that Hezbollah announced they had captured two Israeli soldiers attempting to infiltrate the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border.

Evidently they were hoping to trade the Israeli soldiers for three Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.
"We are now counting on Hezbollah to strike a deal to get my brother and other prisoners released."

If this is true.......good grief.
Am I the only one who missed this?

Update : From AP
"A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrillas did not expect Israel to react with an all-out offensive after the capture of two soldiers" ...
"The truth is — let me say this clearly — we didn't even expect (this) response ... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati.
He said Hezbollah had expected "the usual, limited response" from Israel after the two soldiers were seized by guerrillas on Israel's side of the border on July 12.
Komati said his group had anticipated negotiations to swap the Israeli soldiers for three Lebanese held in Israeli jails, with Germany acting as a mediator as it has in past prisoner exchanges."

Bold above mine.
Note that while the article says "on Israel's side of the border", this is not in quotes from Kamati.
And if you look at a map, Aitaa al-Chaab is definitely in Lebanon.
Either way, this provides some corroboration of the India News article, namely that the Israeli soldiers were captured with the intent of trading them for the three Lebanese also mentioned in the India News article.
And that Hezbollah only expected "the usual limited response".

Update#2, Tuesday : Joshua Frank at is now on this with more corroborating evidence, including an on-the-ground report dated July 15 that states Israel had not yet come back to Aitaa al-Chaab to pick up the Israeli soldiers' tank. He ends with this :

"Israel didn't need the truth of the matter to play out before it invaded Lebanon. As with the United States' illegitimate invasion of Iraq, Israel just needed the proper media cover to wage a war with no genuine moral impetus."

Update#3, Friday : Dave at Galloping Beaver puts it all together.

Mr MacKay, your order is ready for pick-up

Condoleezza Rice on July 21 :
"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo"

Peter MacKay on July 23 :
"A ceasefire and a return to the status quo is a victory for Hezbollah"

Condoleezza Rice on July 24 :
"We believe that a cease-fire is urgent"

We're waiting, Mr. MacKay...

And if, as most news reports would seem to indicate, Israel's death toll of 35 is somehow comparable in scope to 365 dead Lebanese and a further 20% of the total population driven from their homes in what the UN is calling a humanitarian crisis, one wonders why ships are not steaming right now to Israel to evacuate all our foreign nationals stranded there.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A four-tier Canadian passport system

A quick scan of the blogosphere and some comments under this Glib&Mall article on the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon reveals our current Canadian passport system to be just not Canadian enough for some folks.
It is apparently woefully inadequate to the task of classifying different types of Canadian citizens.

Which citizens are merely "Canadian-born"?
Which ones spend too much time in other countries we've never been to?
Which ones truly love beer and hockey?

Obviously having the same passport for everyone just isn't working out here.
Time for a four-tier passport then - to more accurately reflect true Canadian values.
Think you're top-tier? Think again.

PlatinumPlus Passport
Congratulations. You are a multinational corporation with all the rights of full citizenship.
Nice doing business with you and may we say it is an honour to serve you, sir.
We hope you enjoy your stay in our country.

Gold Standard Passport
You are white, or at least wealthy, and you vote ConservaLiberal. Your country of origin is really none of our business and we're very sorry to have bothered you. Never mind about that whole silly taxes nonsense.

Silver LoneStar Passport
You are white, or aspire to be, and you were born here. Whoop-de-doo.
Oh, and as you never tire of pointing out, you pay taxes. Go, Oilers!

Bronze Age Passport
Also known as the "brown-skinned" passport, applies to all "Canadian-born", including First Nations.
Shut up, get back in line, and quit complaining in your funny accent.
A little gratitude wouldn't go amiss here you know.

Yeah, this should work out nicely.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Looks like Steve had it right after all

because "measured" can also mean "deliberate".

Globe&Mail and Jerusalem Post :

"It couldn't have happened without the capture of the Israeli soldiers, who gave their government the pretext to dismantle as much of Hezbollah's power as possible, just six years after the withdrawal from Lebanon.

"The capture of the soldiers allowed Israel to react. . . . No one expects the army's military operation to bring back the soldiers."

Civilian infrastructure has been targeted -- partly, he said, because those bridges, roads and fuel depots are used by Hezbollah, but also to "send a message to the Lebanese that they will pay a high price" for the militants' cross-border attacks.
Israel says it has not used all of its military might because it fears wider action could topple the Lebanese government. Israel has an interest in keeping the fledgling elected government, which is largely anti-Syrian, in power.

The generals had also been itching for the green light to enter Gaza with tanks, bulldozers and infantry soldiers to attack Palestinian militants and their Qassam-rocket factories, and it wasn't until three weeks ago, when militants captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid, that the military got approval.

In that case, the operation also gave the Israeli government the ability to further weaken the Hamas-led Palestinian government. It detained half the cabinet and a third of the parliament, essentially crippling the government."

The new rules of self-defense :

Deliberately crippling two democratically elected governments and targeting their civilian infrastructure.

At least this means we won't have to listen to bullshit protestations of innocence as regards targeting civilians any more . Right?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Zoe takes a taxi to Syria

"Extraordinarily quickly" is Steve Harper's assessment of his government's ability to evacuate exactly none of the 30,000 to 50,000 Canadians stranded in Lebanon thus far.

"We have shown a great deal of movement," stated the hapless Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay.

From CBC : "Israel has offered to get Canadians out of Lebanon, but transportation within the country is very difficult because of the bombing."

That would be Israel doing the bombing here.

Additionally, according to Canadian Press, "Israel's ambassador Alan Baker suggested Tuesday that Hezbollah, the militant Islamic group that controls much of southern Lebanon, might deliberately target Canadian refugees in order to provoke an international incident."

But Ottawa native Zoe Horn, 23, stuck in Beirut and discouraged at having heard nothing from the Canadian embassy after four days, joined an overnight truck convoy over the mountains into Syria and on to Jordan.

From Canadian Press again : "The major highways had all been targeted by Israel, she said.
After crossing the border into Syria, Horn said they could relax as the last leg of the 22-hour drive took them through that country and into Jordan."

Syria as a safe haven for a stranded Canadian student who was fed up with being rescued "extraordinarily quickly". Heh.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Five Ring Circus

rolls into your town for two weeks and people come from miles around to see the wondrous spectacle.
Ah the magic! The drama! They pitch their tents, amaze the crowds, separate the locals from their money, and then pack up and move on to the next town leaving behind unpaid bills.

Just ask Montreal. Thirty years later Montreal still has two debt payments left to make on the 1976 Olympics because their $156 million budget ballooned into $2 billion. But in the end it was worth every penny because according to the International Olympic Committee president :

"Canada has created a strong Olympic legacy which paved the way for Calgary to host the Olympic Winter Games in 1988 and for Vancouver to host in 2010."

Why do I think 30 years from now people in Flin Flon will be laughing at Vancouver for finally paying off their Olympic debt, secure in their belief that the Flin Flon Olympics is fer sure going to be the best Olympics ever?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Measuring the inevitable

Harper has called Israel's bombing of Lebanon in reaction to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight others "measured".

Then : Immediately after 9/11, Harper cited the deaths of the 24 Canadians killed in the World Trade Towers as reason enough for Canada to join in the US bombing of Afghanistan and then later Iraq.

Now : Harper is real sorry about the deaths of the 7 Canadians killed in the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, but refers to them as "inevitable".

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether Harper would have used the words "measured" and "inevitable" to describe the deaths of those seven Canadians had they been killed by Hezbollah or Hamas instead?

Bonus : Two more events whose eventual ramifications were "inevitable" but were not adequately "measured" at the time :
  • The 1982 Israeli bombing of the towers of Beiruit in which 18,000 Lebanese were killed, the event which Osama bin Laden says radicalized him and for which he claimed retaliation with 9/11.
  • The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, resulting in the formation of Hezbollah.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Kings do "This is Spinal Tap"

Think Progress has video up of US Rep. Steve King demonstrating a fence he designed himself for the US/Mexican border. Tell me the first thing that popped into your head when you saw this picture wasn't the Stonehenge scene from "This Is Spinal Tap" :

"I think that the problem *may* have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being *crushed* by a *dwarf*. Alright? "

Another fan of fences is Rep Peter King, the Chair of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee. He will be up in Canada tomorrow checking out whether we need a fence too, "whether it's an actual barrier or a virtual wall with sensors and other equipment".

Says Peter King : "I think it's a disproportionate number of al-Qaida in Canada because of their very liberal immigration laws, because of how political asylum is granted so easily."

Yes, and we will be proudly granting political asylum to US war resistors too. The Canadian government won't, of course, but the rest of us will. Just like last time.

I sure hope I haven't confused you here by mentioning two fence enthusiasts named King in the same post.
Fence-building Rep. Steve King is a total whackjob who described the Abu Ghraib torture as hazing, says Iraq is safer than Washington DC, and claims Senator Joe McCarthy as a personal hero.
Whereas House Chair of Homeland Security Committee Peter King is merely a former IRA supporter who still believes there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda and wants the New York Times prosecuted for treason. Sigh.

Hey, just for fun, given that Steve says his fence could go up at a rate of a mile per day, how long would it take for Peter to have one built along the Canadian border?
Let's see....4000 miles divided by 365 days....equals 11 years.

One more quote from "Spinal Tap" seems appropriate here :
"The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and... "

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"A danger to society"

I know I'll personally feel much safer just knowing that this 78 year old grandmother is going to be locked up for at least the next two months.

Energy security and prosperity pardnership

Gosh is it G8 time again already?
Yes it is, and Harper will be leaving for St Petersburg this week.

You remember last year's G8 summit in Gleneagles, right?
The televised Live 8 concert and the billions of dollars in aid promised by the world's richest nations to the world's poor.
On the way over, Harper will first make a stop in England, who failed to meet the Live 8 Aid to Africa target they set for themselves last year, and afterwards he'll spend a day in France, the only country who did.

The focus of this year's G8 is "energy security".
Well, that's handy - Harper should be really well boned up on this one.
As it happens, "energy security" was also a focus of the "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" pact which Harper endorsed in his meeting with Bush just this last March. In fact the phrases "North American energy security" and "North American energy markets" appear repeatedly in this document, along with the stated goal of "Increasing private sector engagement in the SPP by adding high-level business input".

Plus of course Bush and Harper announced the implementation of the North American Big Box Competitiveness Council.

Death to regulation of industry by government, but pleased as punch to have industry regulating government.

I wonder what grand promises will be made in the interests of the public good this time round.
And whether Harper will be "standing up for Canada" or North America.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

7-Q!da rOxxOrs!

Members of an alleged terrorist ring were arrested today in a daring predawn raid on RCMP offices in Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. A joint US/Canadian security task force had been quietly monitoring RCMP communications for several months when they noticed a sudden increase in RCMP terrorist-related activities. Undercover operatives were then sent in to make contact.

"When we approached the RCMP, they immediately offered us cell phones, cameras, guns, surveillance name it," stated a source at the terrorism task force who spoke to us on condition of anonymity. "They also promised to put us in touch with al-Qaeda, but never actually followed through."

This morning's raids netted hundreds of pages of transcripts from internet chatrooms in which the RCMP anonymously made repeated references to al-Qaeda. Also confiscated were firearms, detailed maps of key public buildings and transportation systems, a large quantity of fertilizer that could be used in the making of a bomb, and some boxes of doughnuts which have been sent to local forensic labs for tests.

Canadian civil rights groups were quick to denounce the arrests as an infringement on Canadian sovereignty based solely on circumstantial evidence, but a spokesperson for the sting operation code-named Operation Scanner Darkly waved these objections aside.

"Nonsense," he said. "The RCMP were clearly in the aspirational stage of terrorism. We have averted the danger. Freedom, democracy,, these doughnuts really are quite excellent, aren't they?"

Further arrests are expected as soon as experts have cracked the code of the RCMP chatroom communiques.

First edited by bogger; then re-edited by me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The far side of crazy

From the transcript of the Bush/Harper press conference yesterday, here is Bush answering a question about the threat posed by North Korea :

Are you ready, Ginger?

"blah, blah, blah, blah, we're trying to make sure, by the way, that the missile that he fired wasn't headed for Canada. We don't know, for a fact, where it was headed. But, for example, one thing that Stephen and I talked about is he could be seemingly firing a missile at the United States, say, at -- I don't know, this is all speculation -- but could be headed toward the Northwest of our country, and it wouldn't take much for it to get off course, and end somewhere where he may not have intended blah, blah, blah, blah."

Did you get all that, Ginger?
What's that? You only heard "missile headed for Canada"?
Good boy, Ginger, good boy!

At this point Harper is balancing sucking up to Bush with not freaking Canada out about it.
Harper has hitched his wagon to Bush's falling star and up till now Canadians have shown little inclination to follow. We are especially leary of hitching Canada's wagon to Bush's Star Wars shenanigans.
Harper's best hope here is to convince Canadians that it is already too late to base our security on our ability to keep our distance from the egregious imperialist misadventures of our neighbours to the south.

So the question for Canadians is : Are we any smarter than Ginger?

Bonus snark : Bush calls Harper "Steve"; Harper calls Bush "Mr. President". Try to imagine Harper calling Bush "George".

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What is it they say about guys who wear huge belt buckles because they have small...

In this picture we can see that Harper liked the big belt buckle he gave Bush for his birthday so much that he decided to get one too.
Just a couple of choads, hanging out...

"Happy birthday, Mr Resident"

By now Harper will have finished dining with Cheney in Washington and in a few hours he will be meeting with Bush on the occasion of the Resident's 60th birthday.

Hmm...what to give the guy who has everything?

We've already given him our troops for his "war on terror", our energy security in NAFTA, our unquestioning support at the UN, and $1-billion worth of illegal lumber tariffs.

Now what else would he like?

According to CBC, Harper finally settled on symbolic gifts - "an RCMP Stetson was chosen as a symbol of Canada's history of policing and security, and a Calgary brass belt buckle in recognition of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington". You know, the "festival" in which Alberta "culture" is represented by the tar sands and a monster truck.

That is some serious sucking-up symbolism there, Harper.
And presumably your damp handshake will be symbolic of your readiness to hand over our water.

By comparison, in 2003, following his decision not to 'sign on' to the US war on Iraq, Jean Chr├ętien presented Bush with a wooden pen rest, estimated to be worth approximately $20. Heh.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Gravy train spotting

Some people hate the Americans.
I don't.
Americans are just wankers.
We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers.*

Eleanor Grant has a great piece up, tracing the history and players of "deep integration", or, as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives winningly puts it : "creating a single economic space".
The only thing I would add to her summary is that it's always worth dropping by the CCCE website from time to time to listen to them take credit for it.

*with apologies to Irvine Welsh

Monday, July 03, 2006

Extra soft and super absorbent

David Emerson hailed the new improved softwood lumber agreement as "a nation-to-nation agreement, it's a treaty."

Ha! Why, sure, if by "treaty" you mean another 2-ply extra-soft super-absorbent guarantee that the US will treat like so much used toilet paper whenever it suits them. And what do we get out of it? In return for $1 billion, the US promises not to bother losing any more NAFTA court battles to us for the next two years.

Harper released a statement hailing the agreement as "a great day for Canada" and CTV further reports:
"the Tory hope is that, with softwood out of the way, Harper and Bush can concentrate on issues like global security, water exports..."

And photo ops. Lots and lots of photo ops.
You're not fooling anyone, you know.

Update : Ross at The Gazetteer is all over this.
And Canadian Cynic weighs in on water exports.

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