The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
PS I love you
National Post: Too much government
According to a study released last week by the federal Treasury Board, since the cutbacks of the mid-1990s, the federal civil service has ballooned nearly a quarter, from 195,000 to 250,000 direct employees -- not including Mounties, the military or those who work for arms-length agencies and Crown corporations.
In 2002-2003, the average salary of workers in the core public service was $53,000, increasing to $73,400 when factoring in benefits. . . In the private sector, the average salary was $38,885.
Ottawa Citizen: Mental health leaves in PS soar
According to the study, about 4.3 per cent of the federal government's 200,000 unionized workers--nearly 8,500 in total--were on disability in 2002.
Though that proportion hasn't changed markedly since the mid-1990s, the number of public servants citing disabling depression and anxiety nearly doubled to more than 44 per cent in 2002 from 23.7 in 1991.
There you have it. There are too many public servants, they're way overpaid, and many can't handle their jobs.
Guantanamo is better than freedom
"Guantanamo cell is better than freedom, says inmate fighting against release" reports UK's Times Online:
An inmate of Guantanamo Bay who spends 22 hours each day in an isolation cell is fighting for the right to stay in the notorious internment camp.
Ahmed Belbacha fears that he will be tortured or killed if the United States goes ahead with plans to return him to his native Algeria.
The Times has learnt that Mr Belbacha, who lived in Britain for three years, has filed an emergency motion at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC asking for his transfer out of Guantanamo to be halted. He was cleared for release from Camp Delta in February and his lawyers believe that his return to Algerian custody is imminent.
Mr Belbacha says that if he returns to Algeria, he faces the threat of torture by security services and murder by Islamist terrorists.
WoW, if Islamist terrorists prefer Guantanamo to their own Islamic countries, then it really speaks volumes. Doesn't it?
Monday, July 30, 2007
Progress is being made in Iraq, NYTimes admits
The New York Times ran a potentially seismic op-ed piece today by Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack of the left leaning Brookings Institute.
These two authors have just returned from a trip to Iraq, and they saw what everyone else has seen – noteworthy progress in the wake of the troop surge.
Also, New York Times correspondent John Burns was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt and Mr. Burns noted the progress that has been made on the ground since the troop surge kicked in.
Sharia hate crime
Before me is a recent report that a student at Pace University in New York City has been arrested for a hate crime in consequence of an alleged dumping of the Quran. Nothing repels me more than the burning or desecration of books, and if, for example, this was a volume from a public or university library, I would hope that its mistreatment would constitute a misdemeanor at the very least. But if I choose to spit on a copy of the writings of Ayn Rand or Karl Marx or James Joyce, that is entirely my business. When I check into a hotel room and send my free and unsolicited copy of the Gideon Bible or the Book of Mormon spinning out of the window, I infringe no law, except perhaps the one concerning litter. Why do we not make this distinction in the case of the Quran? We do so simply out of fear, and because the fanatical believers in that particular holy book have proved time and again that they mean business when it comes to intimidation. Surely that should be to their discredit rather than their credit. Should not the "moderate" imams of On Faith have been asked in direct terms whether they are, or are not, negotiating with a gun on the table?
Read it all.
Operating in silence
Well, that's certainly a good name for a cover-up, Operation Silence. You can read about it here in Tehelka and the Globe and Mail: Recording of Air India bombing confession allegedly surfaces 22 years later. See also Vancouver Sun: Bomb-maker's family given funds monthly
Though Singh says he is financially "stretched," the retired Laurentian University math professor has for years sent a monthly cheque to the family of Inderjit Singh Reyat because he believes the convicted B.C. bomb-maker is "our Nelson Mandela."
h/t Prime Time Crime
Just renewed my subscription to The New Criterion. I really enjoy the magazine. The reason this time around I went with the 2-year sub is because an artist friend of mine and his wife dropped by a few days ago on their Albertans-drive-thru-B.C. holiday. One morning while toodling around the house, my friend glanced down and saw the title of this article on the cover of the June issue: Why the art world is a disaster. So while breakfast was being prepared, he started reading. That was it. He got stuck into the whole stack of back issues and ended up taking them with him for campfire reading. His wife just rolled her eyes and said, "Oh great, more stuff" [in the van]. And I thought, you know? I think I have just been taking this magazine for granted. It's a voice of dissent and clarity. What would I be missing if it wasn't there?
It's stating the obvious, but it's worth repeating when just about everybody reads online and much of the time for free: subscriptions keep magazines alive. So if you like a magazine and can afford it--even if you read it online--consider subscribing. Yes, there's self-interest here. I hope you enjoy and subscribe to the Western Standard.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Douglas Murray on Neo-Conservatism
We definitely need more people like Douglas Murray, author of Neo-Conservatism: Why We Need It
This speech is almost one year old but still relevant and fresh! You'll like it...
Support the troops
Thank goodness that Canadian top commander's convoy was left unscathed during the recent suicide attack in southern Afghanistan.
We owe all our brave troops a big 'Thank You' and every one of us, regardless of our political affiliation, can write them and thank them for their service. They're doing an awesome job over there and it is necessary to express our gratitude for their sacrifices.
Let them know they have our full support! They deserve all support and respect they can get from us here at home. Writing them is the least one can do though...
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Our own Mark Steyn wants Iranian regime to be stopped:
"In America, public opinion is in no mood for war with Iran. In Washington, Congress is focused on finding the most politically advantageous way to lose in Iraq. In Europe, they've already psychologically accepted the Iranian nuclear umbrella. In the western world, where talks are not the means to the end but an end in themselves, we find it hard despite the evidence of 30 years to accept that Iran talks the talk and walks the walk. Once it goes nuclear, do you think there will be fewer fatwas on writers, stonings of homosexuals, kidnappings in international waters, forced confessions of American hostages, and bankrolling of terror groups worldwide? These latest hostages are part of a decades-old pattern of behavior. The longer it goes without being stopped, the worse it will be."
Friday, July 27, 2007
McGuinty on the march
It's been quite a week for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. First, the Conservatives sucker him into apologizing for some obscure insult by a low level civil servant in a misdirected email--the "ghetto dude" thing. Then his top campaign adviser Warren Kinsella gets raked over in the media for a lame caption--"I wish I was at home baking cookies"--plastered on a photograph of a young female MPP. And now everyone is blaming him for his citizenship and immigration minister's pre-election heritage daze support. On that last one, here's a piece from Wednesday that mentions yet another group that benefited from Colle's vote buying, the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada. Epoch Times: Fundraiser for Ontario's Colle Links Group That Got 'Slush Fund' Grants. I particularly like this line in the story;
CPAC also works with state and local-level Chinese governments to attract Chinese-Canadians with technical knowledge to return to China to discuss their technology, all expenses paid.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
A caveman could figure this out
The producers are playing with words. Yes, the Geico cavemen are not specifically a "racial metaphor". But everyone knows they are a metaphor for any minority in a first world country obsessed with political correctness. The ad team that came up with this cleverly created a safe, non-existent minority group we could all laugh at as they whined about stereotyping. It's a satire about grievance culture. If the TV show moves away from this premise, then it will fall flat. (btw, I still think the first ad was the best, where the Geico guy is buying the two cavemen lunch and saying, "Seriously, we apologize. We had no idea you guys were still around." The two cavemen play it beautifully. You can watch it here.)
Details of David Pretlove's offer
In London, Ontario, a potential scandal is brewing. In January the federal Liberal riding association discovered $15,000 missing from the accounts. Suspicion fell on former treasurer Suzan Pawlak based in part on cheques that were written to her without supporting documentation. At the time of the discovery of the missing money, Pawlak was a member of David Pretlove's staff. Pretlove was the financial director of the LPC(O). When the riding association made Pretlove aware of the problem, Pretlove responded with an unusual offer:
- David Pretlove would cover to losses for cheques specifically written out to Pawlak (as well as a hotel bill in the amount of $1,000) by cutting a cheque from the LPC(O) account under his control, amounting to $7,200
- The remaining $8,000 required clarification or would not be covered
- In order to receive the cheque, a written assurance would be required that promised no further investigation and no police involvement
- All information regarding Pawlak's involvement would need to be turned over
- The "drop dead" deadline for filing with Elections Canada was only a few weeks away, and the riding association's submissions to the party were "incomplete"
The offer has a hardball quality to it. The last point is the most interesting. Was it a subtle attempt to apply pressure to the riding association? You only have so much time, so take the $7,200, clean up whatever mess is left over on your own, and get it done by March 31 or else you'll have Elections Canada to deal with.
But perhaps the most significant aspect of the offer was that it clearly indicates that LPC(O) funds would be used to cover the losses. Those are funds that David Pretlove had control over, but the president of the LPC(O), Michael Crawley, says that Pretlove was acting on his own and without authority.
And yet Pretlove is still working for the LPC(O). Pawlak, on the other hand, was fired with cause back in March.
The post-Gomery Liberal Party is a lot like the pre-Gomery Liberal Party.
And Stephane Dion's reaction to the financial shenanigans in the Ontario branch of the federal Liberal Party? We haven't heard a thing.
More Christians than Communists in China
On Jon Stewart's "The Daily" (yeah, "I know"), the author of China Road, Rob Gifford, claimed that there are more Christians -- 70 million -- than members of the Chinese Communist Party. He pointed out that the ChiComms more or less ended the pre-Communist religions of Confucianism and Taoism, and people have lost confidence in Communism, so they're going to Christianity.
There's a move afoot to bring Christian intellectuals and philosophers to teach in China's universities. The motivation seems to be an instrumental one, in that Chinese intellectuals see the Christian world view as grounding the West's scientific and economic success.
There are estimates that the number of China's Christians may well exceed 100 million. But I think, in practice, China has simply shifted back to Confucian authoritarianism. Confucian authoritarianism spawned a family and profit driven society and a government by mandarins who saw their control of the state as an opportunity to get their "fair share" of the cash floating around. All the while, the mandarins ruled China on behalf of the emperor with tight, bureaucratic control. China was a kleptocracy, then, and it may just have returned to its Confucian, kleptocratic roots.
And, um, this is the country Canada wants to trade with?
UPDATE: Just to respond to the apparent confusion in certain quarters, shown in the comments, below, let me point out two key sentences in the above. That is: "There are estimates that the number of China's Christians may well exceed 100 million. But I think, in practice, China has simply shifted back to Confucian authoritarianism. "
N.B. the use of the word, "But." :-) And, to elaborate a bit, I think the jury is still out on China. Right now, it's ruled as a Confucian kleptocracy, maintaining foreign reserves far beyond what is necessary, as I reported in a blog post about a Falun Gong (Epoch Times)-sponsored conference at which Frank Xie spoke. Will Christian influence, both in numbers and in the universities, lead to China's transition from a Confucian kleptocracy (I love writing that) to something closer to a constitutional representative government? Or, will the whole PRC state collapse before it can change, leading to a civil war between Confucians, Christians, and Falun Gong adherents? As they say, "developing."
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Down by crime
Here are a couple of interesting critiques of recently released crime stats;
Robert Marshall in Winnipeg Sun: Crime drop in stats not whole story
Scott Newark in Prime Time Crime: The 2006 Crime Stats Analysis - Time for the Truth
Living for today
"It was impressive," said Rebecca Lee, 27, who lives a couple of houses away. "It was shooting over the lamp posts and it was so thick. It was covering all the trees, I wanted to be in the middle of it all."
I just don't know what to make of this quote. All I will say is that three years ago I moved to B.C. from Alberta, and there is a lot, a lot, of marijuana in this province.
National Post: Toronto murder suspect accused in a previous child shooting
Sappleton was among several people arrested two years ago following a drive-by shooting that hit another innocent young victim, Shaquan. He survived but still has bullets embedded in his body.
Daniel Brown, Sappleton's lawyer at the time, said a charge of attempted murder was quickly dropped. Additional drugs and weapons charges were later dismissed after a judge determined that a statement Sappleton made to police was not voluntary.
That judgment referred to in the last sentence above is online, posted on the website of Brown's firm, Pinkofskys; you can read it here. The judge ruled that Sappleton's confession was inadmissable because the police threatened to charge his mother and sister if he didn't take ownership of the gun found in the home. The gun btw was "a .38-calibre revolver with five rounds in the gun and the serial number removed. Police also seized 78 grams of marijuana and .07 grams of crack" according to an August 6, 2005 Toronto Sun story.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
War on Terrorism and Iraq
President Bush recent speech on Iraq and war on terrorism had very important details:
"Some note that al Qaida in Iraq did not exist until the U.S. invasion -- and argue that it is a problem of our own making. The argument follows the flawed logic that terrorism is caused by American actions. Iraq is not the reason that the terrorists are at war with us. We were not in Iraq when the terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. We were not in Iraq when they attacked our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq when they attacked the USS Cole in 2000. And we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001."
Very well said. Islamic terrorism started almost 1400 years ago when Muhammed claimed prophecy and the war in Iraq has nothing to do with today terrorism. Indeed, good men and women of the United States and other coalition forces including Canada are bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan to prevent Al-Qaeda from mounting an effective offense against us here at home. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has had the radical Islamists on the run. This is a good fight and as president Bush said "We must win it" and "we can win it". Failure is not an option.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Stephane Dion insults a great Chinese Canadian in front of a room of Chinese Canadians
On the occasion of the inauguration of the Chinese Canadian Liberal Association, a partisan Liberal crowd, Stephane Dion manages to insult everyone in the room while reading from a prepared speech.
Here is my transcription of Stephane Dion's remarks:
Do you know who is Arthur Lee? Arthur Lee. He has been the first MP of Chinese origin. He was under Trudeau in 1974. It took time, eh? Only in 1974, the first one.
|Launch in external player|
Not the first one. The first one was Douglas Jung in 1957. How could Stephane Dion and his researchers miss that bit of Canadian history? Could it be because Douglas Jung was a dedicated Progressive Conservative?
Douglas Jung joined the Progressive Conservative Party in the early 1950s. He had vowed not to join the Liberal Party of Canada because of its racist legislation against Chinese in the past. Jung was elected as an MP in 1957, representing the riding of Vancouver Centre, under the John Diefenbaker government.
Maybe that's the reason. But it couldn't really be because the Liberals simply didn't know. One June 8 and on June 11, Jim Abbott of the Conservatives and Meili Faille of the Bloc Quebecois each made speeches to recognize the 50th anniversary of Douglas Jung's historic achievement as the first Chinese Canadian to be elected as an MP.
Stephane Dion was in the House on June 11.
But five weeks later, Douglas Jung was forgotten and his place was handed over to Liberal Arthur Lee by Stephane Dion, in front of a group of Chinese Canadians celebrating their community's participation in Canadian politics and Canadian history.
So will Stephane Dion be called on to correct this egregious mistake, and apologize to the memory of Douglas Jung? We'll see tomorrow.
[Extended post is at Angry in the Great White North]
Australia is to get tough on Sharia advocates
It appears that Australian government led by PM Howard is going to consider tougher actions against those radical muslims who advocate Sharia and support other Islamic laws in Australia.
Can we see that happening here in Canada or the States too?
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Supporting the Troops?
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Jihad comes to Canada
Canadian Vision TV has allowed the enemy to gain a foothold in our society: Vision TV airing Jihad lecture:
TORONTO — VisionTV says it will monitor one of its shows more closely after it broadcast a lecture by an Islamic preacher who said scripture requires Muslims to either fight jihad or finance it.
The multi-faith channel, available in 7.8 million Canadian homes, said it took the precaution following a complaint about last Saturday’s broadcast of a lecture by the Pakistani fundamentalist.
In the hour-long talk, Israr Ahmad said, “Jihad in the way of Allah, for the cause of Allah, can be pursued either with your financial resources or your bodily strength when you go to fight the enemy in the battlefield.
Mr. Ahmad runs a seminary and bookstore in Lahore, Pakistan, and his writings foresee the ”global domination of Islam,“ compare Jews to ”parasites,“ describe the Holocaust as ”divine punishment“ and predict the ”total extermination" of Jews.
His followers in Canada include terror suspect Qayyum Abdul Jamal, who was arrested last summer for his alleged role in a plot to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto. According to Mr. Jamal’s wife, Mr. Ahmad was her husband’s teacher and mentor.
The television program left some wondering how the Pakistani preacher, who claims that Jews control the world through a secret conspiracy involving financial institutions, made it on to Canada’s government-regulated airwaves.
And who is paying the Vision TV to be able to stay on air?
(h/t Little Green Footballs)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Thou shalt not feed the poor without government permission
Vancouver's municipal government is happy to have churches help the poor. You just need to get their permission first.
Tenth Avenue Alliance Church, which has two programs to feed and shelter the homeless is in the midst of some renovations. As a result, the people who are being helped are no longer coming in the back entrance of the church. Neighbors of the church, fearing increased crime and drug use as the poor people in the neighborhood come to get free meals, have persuaded the city's Planning Department to insist on several conditions before the programs may continue. As this story notes, the city wants the church to track the homeless, have volunteers do security work around the church while the programs are in operation, and regularly report to the city.
The city's conditions may not seem onerous, but a later editorial explains why such a precedent is ominous:
...the precedent once set may be applied to all churches in all municipalities. What is ultimately at stake is not whether a church can afford to meet the onerous conditions and cost of the ‘social service’ permit, but the state’s restricted definition of a church use to that of religious worship only.
Conservatives need to emphasize that private and religious charities do a much better job of helping the poor and disadvantaged than government does. (Marvin Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion, although it cites American examples, illustrates this quite well.) The city of Vancouver's "harm reduction" program, which merely maintains instead of solving drug addicts' problems, implies that, if the city took over what Tenth Avenue Alliance is doing, a long term civic "feed the homeless" bureaucracy--one that is expensive and ineffectual--would probably be entrenched for years.
Given that Vancouver's garbage collection workers led the civic workers out on strike yesterday, anyone with a heart for helping the poor would want to see that work in exclusively private hands.
There's already a chilling effect on other churches in the city. We may well see similar stories in the media soon, as opponents of church feed-the-poor programs start to target smaller efforts. Small churches with such programs barely manage to pass out food and practically do not have the manpower to do all the necessary paperwork or provide anti-crime security guards as Tenth Avenue Alliance can. Imposing a permit on these small initiatives would kill them, and one has to wonder if the the city of Vancouver's bureaucrats have realized this.
A friend of mine, preaching last Sunday, had a pithy way of putting the issue. I can paraphrase him as saying "So, all that we can do is sit in our churches and pray and sing and listen to somebody preach?"
CBC vs Ayan Hirsi Ali
Hirsi Ali 10 -- Avi Lewis 0
Friday, July 20, 2007
Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't
Here's something amazing: this week the West was blamed for stoking up Islamism in the 1990s, through its actions in the Balkans. The amazing part? The West is blamed for pursuing two different, opposing policies. Here, in London's far-Left Guardian newspaper, is one critic saying the West fuelled Islamism by not intervening in Bosnia. And here, in the Pat Buchanan-founded American Conservative, is another critic saying the West fueled Islamism by being too eager to intervene in Bosnia. Rarely before has the 'root cause' theory shown to be such a fraud.
Anti-smoking ads backfire
A U.S. study shows that anti-smoking ads actually make teens more likely to smoke, as a backlash against being told what to do by the government.
When so much of society goes along robotically with the anti-smoking, anti-energy, anti-fun agenda, it's refreshing to be reminded that young people are wired to criticize the pap that many of the rest of us have begun to accept as conventional wisdom.
David Pretlove story continues to develop
The latest on David Pretlove, the director of the Ontario wing of the federal Liberal Party who appears to have attempted last January to suppress an investigation into money stolen from the London riding association. His efforts failed, and this week one of this former staffers, Suzan Pawlak, was charged with 42 counts of fraud and forgery.
And Joe Preston, the Conservative MP for the riding, joined the call for Dion to "show some leadership" and investigate.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Party has said it will do...nothing!
Michael Crawley, president of the Ontario wing of the party, said Pretlove's offer was made without the knowledge or authorization of party brass.
He said Pretlove decided some time ago he'd be leaving the party, so seeking his suspension is a "moot point."
I don't expect this lull to last long. If Pretlove was acting directly on Pawlak's behalf, and if his actions crossed the line into possible criminal actions, then the Liberal Party has a serious problem. He was the interim director for the Liberal Party when this happened. At the very least, a detailed analysis and audit of all his office's decisions and actions might be in order, to determine if he attempted to use his title, his office, or the funds under his control, to aid Pawlak or anyone else.
And we still don't know what prompted Pretlove to send this strange offer to the London riding association. If it was done on Pawlak's behalf, a question would be why. If there was some sort of relationship that went beyond merely business, the opens up all sorts of other questions and avenues for investigation. It also draws in co-workers who might be asked what they knew of the situation in the office, and why they did not act on suspicions of potential wrongdoings if any suspicions existed.
[A full listing of posts on this developing story is available at Angry in the Great White North]
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Jail time for muslims in America, Iranian regime claims
Any one who converts to Islam in America will be jailed for over 20 years, regime's propaganda machine claims in a Persian language news bulletin that is run by the clerical school of Qum. This news bulletin claims the Morocco based Arabic newspaper "Al-Tajdid" as the real source of the news story and quotes non-existing "America" news agency as the primary source of the false story. The bulletin goes on to say that radical Zionist groups in America have proposed a plan that every convert should be jailed and this proposal has prompted the US government to toughen its intelligence gathering efforts to seek those new converts and prosecute them.
I'm literary wasting my time posting such nonsense to inform you about the amount of propaganda that the mullahs are spreading to completely brainwash the people and yet there is not a strong counter-measure from those who are potentially concerned about the future of this idealogical struggle.
I mean the whole thing doesn't make sense at all and it is a laughing matter to many of us here in the west, but the mullahs and their radical counterparts in the Arab world have an effective propaganda machine to brainwash the naive people. My question is: what are we going to do about it? Let them have their Press TV while we sit back and do nothing to counter them!?!
Ecumenism gone awry
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
From the "truth is stranger than fiction" desk . . .
So, in 2003, when the Episcopal Church's (U.S. Anglican) House of Bishops confirmed the first openly gay bishop, ScrappleFace published a spoof on the announcement, "Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop."
Good one, right?
But, then, this:
The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, who was ordained in 1984 and has been affiliated with St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle for the past six years, became Muslim in early 2006. Redding first became intrigued by Islam in the fall of 2005, when a local Muslim leader spoke at her cathedral. Her interest deepened after an interfaith class the following spring. Redding told the Seattle Times that her mother died around that time, and she could not cope with that death except by “total surrender to God.” In March 2006 she recited the shahada, the declaration of faith that makes one a Muslim.
When Redding went public with her conversion fifteen months later, in June 2007, she felt that she did not need to relinquish her position at St. Mark’s. “I am both Muslim and Christian,” Redding said. “I’m 100 percent both.”
Perhaps the true punchline to the joke ScappleFace made four years ago is how the Diocese of Olympia reacted. The diocese’s newspaper was actually the first to announce that Redding had become Muslim, and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, said that “he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting" (First Things, July 19, 2007).
Okay, ScrappleFace -- top that!
More dope on Afghani opium
Embassy: Senlis Council Has 'Nothing to Hide' about the NGO's support for the idea of licensing the Afghan opium crop. (One of council's supporters is mentioned, Stephan Schmidheiny, who has his own website: see also "Swiss Blood Money" for more background on Schmidheiny).
One thing that that can be said of the Senlis Council is that it hit the ground running.
From the Embassy story:
In 2002, future Senlis Council president Norine MacDonald, a Canadian lawyer who had worked for several other organizations, decided to head to Afghanistan with the express purpose of determining whether licensing opium would be a viable alternative to eradication and help bring stability to the country, as it had in India and Turkey, Mr. McCormick said.
The Taliban fell in December, 2001, at the start of the poppy planting season. Karzai signed a decree prohibiting opium poppy cultivation in January. Harvest was in April, 2002. The Senlis Council was established in May that year. So they were right on top of the issue. Just a reminder, the Taliban's ban on the production of opium was only in effect for one year; (see "Afghanistan ends opium poppy cultivation" June 2001). The year before the crop was reduced by drought (see "UNDCP opium poppy survey in Afghanistan, November 2000).
Legalization and licensing is supported by people like Christopher Hitchens, who argued for this approach in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy. And why not. Last year, the London Times reported: "Poppy harvest at a record level". The argument against can be found in this ISN Security Watch article, "Addicted in Afghanistan":
The Senlis Council, an international policy think tank, proposes the licensing of opium for pharmaceutical purposes. In June, it launched its "Poppy for Medicine" technical dossier that proposes a project model for licensing poppy cultivation that would transform cultivated poppy into poppy-based medicines, such as morphine.
But the US government rejected this proposal, stating that there was no legitimate world demand for legally produced opium from Afghanistan. According to the UN International Narcotics Control Board, the world-demand for opium based medicines is fully met.
"Legalization," the US Embassy in Kabul said in a statement, "would only expand and entrench the drug trade, undermining ongoing efforts to bring security and sustainable economic development."
The US government also claims that the licit opium market is not lucrative enough to entice Afghan farmers.
"The price difference between licit and illicit opium is so substantial that farmers would not quit the black market."
One thing we know about the illicit drug trade, it can create demand by upping production and lowering it's street price. See "Snow Fall" in the recent issue of Altantic Monthly (behind firewall) about the decline the price of cocaine. Canadian crime stats just released show that among drug offenses, those related to cocaine had the highest increase.
Here's an interesting history of opium with this analysis of the drug's supply and demand cycle, in regard to its legalization for recreational use;
It appears that opium, once commercialized as recreational euphoric, produces a disproportionate demand that soon exceeds the original supply. . . Once introduced, commercial opium stimulated demand in China beyond supply, encouraging thereby increased cultivation back in India; which, in turn, stimulated more demand in China, sparking, yet again, higher poppy plantings in India. In effect, even in this earliest era of commoditized opium trading, demand and supply increase through a process of reciprocal stimulation that makes it difficult, analytically, to determine which is the dominant cause.
Note: There's a interesting local angle. U of Calgary's Peter Facchini has "established one of only two cutting-edge opium poppy research labs in the world" and has provided advice to the Senlis Council.
NDP are demanding that Stephane Dion take action against David Pretlove and Suzan Pawlak
Suzan Pawlak has been charged with over 40 counts relating to $15,000 that has gone missing from the London riding association of the federal Liberal Party.
Last year she was the treasurer for the riding association, but when the money was first noticed missing, she had moved on and was employed by David Pretlove, the director of the federal Liberal Party in Ontario.
What makes that significant is that months before the charges were laid, before even the police became involved, David Pretlove offered to cover the riding association's losses on the condition that no formal police or party investigation take place.
The offer seemed very strange at the time, and was rejected by the riding association. Now that we know that one of his employees has been charged, the offer goes well past strange. It raises questions about what Pretlove knew about the missing money, of Pawlak's possible involvement, and what would have prompted him to make that offer, if he did know about Pawlak's alleged role in the matter.
That strangeness has not escaped the attention of the NDP, who have issued a press release:
Liberals are still resisting accountability and courting scandal, says NDP MP Paul Dewar. Dewar is demanding Liberal Leader Stephane Dion show real leadership and suspend his Director of Finance and Administration, pending the outcome of a court case involving the alleged theft of $15,000.
Dewar called on the Liberal leader to address the issue immediately.
"It is baffling why Mr. Dion hasn't dealt with this issue. He needs to learn the lessons of the sponsorship scandal. You can't simply turn a blind eye to serious allegations like this," said Dewar. "Mr. Pretlove needs to be suspended immediately, pending the outcome of the legal case against his former employee Ms. Powlak."
Will the Stephane Dion act on this? Not immediately, if he stays true to form. His weak hold on the leadership of the party makes it difficult to move against anyone, for fear of emboldening his enemies. In any case, when the mainstream media picks up on this story, we will see the pressure build, unless Pretlove can explain his actions ahead of that gathering storm.
[From an expanded post at Angry in the Great White North]
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Gen. Petraeus on Iraq, the surge & war on terror
HH: Now stepping back a little bit from the day to day, General Petraeus, how would you explain to the civilians listening, and hundreds of thousands of them at this moment, the strategic interest of the United States at stake in Iraq?
DP: Well, I think just first of all, we have an enormous responsibility, because of course, we did liberate this country........ So there’s enormous potential implications for some of the courses of action that have been considered out there, and certainly, a precipitous withdrawal would have potentially serious implications for important interests that we have in Iraq, in the region.
He's still looking great
Happy birthday and hats off to John (Jack) Babcock, 107, who is Canada's last known surviving veteran of the First World War.
Revoke China's WMA membership
It's behind a firewall, but if you have access, go read Leigh Turner in today's Globe and Mail: China's deadly scheme to harvest organs. Turner is an associate professor in the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill University. His position is straightforward;
China's practice of killing prisoners and taking their organs raises serious questions about why the Chinese Medical Association is permitted to retain membership in the World Medical Association. The WMA unreservedly condemns China's practice of taking organs from executed prisoners. And yet, the Chinese Medical Association remains a member. This contradiction needs to be addressed, and the Chinese Medical Association's membership should be revoked.
Did a senior Liberal try to protect Suzan Pawlak from prosecution?
Stange goings on in London, Ontario.
Back in January, the executive of the federal Liberal riding association in London discovered $15,000 missing from the association's accounts.
After spending the time to figure out that the money was indeed stolen, the executive prepared to call the police, but then they received a strange offer from the Executive Director of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario), David Pretlove. He would cover the shortfall, but only if the police were not called in.
To their credit, the riding executive decided the offer was just too weird, and called the police.
Yesterday, the police charged Suzan Pawlak with 42 counts relating to fraud and forgery. Until August 2006, she was the treasury for the riding association.
Case closed, right?
We know what Pawlak was doing in August last year. Guess what she was doing in February of this year?
She was working for David Pretlove!
So in January, probably as a result of a year-end audit, the London riding association discovers the missing funds. The information percolates through the Liberal Party. Suzan Pawlak would certainly have heard of the news, since obviously as the former treasurer she would have to be asked some questions. She learns about the problem, and then her boss offers to cover up the problem as long as there is no police investigation. The police are involved and Suzan Pawlak is arrested.
I hate to say it, but it would certainly seem possible, if not likely, that David Pretlove knew something about Suzan Pawlak's alleged role in the missing money and was trying to subvert an internal party investigation in the hope of preventing a criminal investigation to follow.
The other explanation is that this is one of the most mind-boggling coincidences I've ever seen. David Pretlove makes his strange, unsolicited, and highly conditional offer to clean up the problem in London, all the while the person who would be charged with a crime was sitting only a few offices or cubicles away, working in his department.
[For all the links and supporting data, go to the extended post at Angry in the Great White North]
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
An open city with many resources
AFP: Sweden struggles to integrate Muslim immigrants. Maybe something is getting lost in translation here, but this comment from the mayor of the Swedish city of Malmoe is kinda funny;
"We are an open city. We see these immigrants as a resource for our society," Malmoe's Social Democratic mayor Ilmar Reepalu told AFP.
An "open city?" As opposed to what, a walled city? This poor bugger is struggling so hard to be politically correct, I almost feel sorry for him. Hey, we're open, we're multicultural, cosmopolitan, cool.
"The problem is that we have welcomed too many immigrants at the same time," he said . . .
Well, yeah, that's generally the problem with immigration when there is a problem. So it's not so great being an open city welcoming refugees. How many is too many?
Reepalu said 5,000 refugees a year seek asylum in Malmoe, Sweden's third largest city behind Stockholm and Gothenburg, though it is really only able to take in 1,500.
I have to give the mayor some credit here because by giving these numbers he's saying, that's the limit. I guess what the mayor is saying is, we're an open city, but we would like to close it down a bit. But Mr. Mayor, sir, why would you want to limit this "resource for [Swedish] society"?
The result is many overcrowded apartments as refugees flock to immigrant-heavy areas and an employment rate that has dropped to around 50 percent.
50 percent unemployed! That's some resource. What are those unemployed people doing? Well, if you read the story, you'll get the distinct impression they are sitting at home, collecting generous welfare cheques and watching foreign TV.
If nothing is done, [economics professor Yves Zenou] said, the situation in Sweden could explode within 10 or 20 years, as it already has in other parts of Europe.
Within 10 or 20 years? I'd say they're only a year or two away.
Regardless of whether one thinks Conrad Black is a megalomaniacal and rapacious kleptocrat or simply a shrewd businessman who's been unjustly smeared, you've got to wonder about the fairness of a U.S. prosecutorial system which, as the National Post reveals today, is allowed to employ against him, in upcoming sentencing hearings, information related to charges on which he was acquitted.
As the story says, this prosecutorial right was upheld in a 7-2 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court held, "An acquittal on the criminal charges does not prove a defendant is innocent. It merely proves the existence of a reasonable doubt."
Folks, if this ain't double jeopardy, I don't know what is.
Monday, July 16, 2007
A right to not have one's feelings hurt?
According to a complainant in Alberta, the Charter's protection of free speech in Canada should not extend to statements that take "away the rights" of others. He did not -- and could not, of course -- explain exactly how words (be they hurtful or not) directed against a person or group of persons could remove their rights. Unless, of course, he was describing the aggrieved person's non-existent right to be shielded from hurtful commentary.
A mischievous documentary about why and how Canadians hate Toronto actually seems to have some real insights, including: In a country threatened by political divisions and western alienation for years, hating Toronto is a great unifier.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Canadian Troops Vs Insurgency
Our brave men and women are making progress in Afghanistan in many fronts: A) Battling the insurgency B) Training the Afghan military C) Aiding the civilians.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Iranian Police Brutality
This is how Police treat people in Iran. They don't care if the individual is guilty or innocent. This is actually how Islamic regime treats its own citizens and I have witnessed such incidents several times in person. Please note the video is a bit graphic.
Friday, July 13, 2007
CTV's The Verdict asked for my thoughts on Black's conviction. Click here and select "Judging the jury".
What do you think?
The consequences of choice
It's difficult to get excited about the fact that the latest report from Statistics Canada finds that just over 100,000 abortions were performed in this country in 2004. I know there is no one who cheers this figure, not pro-lifers of course, and not any pro-abortionist I know, because even those who refuse to accept the fact--that an abortion takes the life of an innocent unborn child--acknowledge that there is something painful, troubling and nullifying about abortion.
Nevertheless, the 100,000 abortions represents a decrease of 3,000 from the number performed the year previous, and that's somewhat heartening.
But it's hard to see the silver lining when the StatsCan report also finds, "Induced abortions continue to be most common among women in their 20s . . . On average, 25 women out of every 1,000 in their 20s obtained an induced abortion." That's 25 out of every 1,000 women over just one year. If my math is correct, this means that over the course of a decade, it's likely that 250 women in their 20s out of 1,000 -- or one quarter -- will have an abortion.
What a tragedy.
Black day for Conrad
From the Rodney King beating to the Conrad Black document removal, video taping and security cameras have transformed law and order, and the administration of justice. The most serious charge, obstruction of justice, on which Black was convicted today might not have even been laid were it not for the incriminating evidence captured by a camera.
President Bush press conference on Iraq
President Bush does what he is good at: Talking to press honestly
I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region, and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we'd allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
President Bush is right on the money. Unfortunately, leftists MSM and politicians can not bring themselves up to understand the stakes.
Oh, by the way, the same can be applied to us in Canada and to those who want to disengage in Afghanistan and do the infamous "cut & run" thing. Just replace the word Canada with America in the above paragraph.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
"The ecumenism of the trenches"
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
In a statement issued on June 29th 2007 following an audience with Benedict XVI, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement clarifying certain matters of Catholic teaching, Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church. The statement is structured as a series of five questions with responses to each. What has gotten the biggest "response" in turn is the answers given to the second and fifth questions. The response to "Question Number Two" affirms that "the 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church." The response to "Question Number Five" was that "Christian communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century . . . cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."
The evangelical Christian founder of "World Net Daily" cheekily posed his own question and possible responses as a poll for readers -- a cheekiness that seemed almost entirely lost on the usually quick-witted Kathy Shaidle of "Relapsed Catholic." The World Alliance of Reformed Churches responded, here. The Italian branch of the World Evangelical Alliance had held a public meeting in Rome asserting religious liberty, but the WEA to date has not responded -- as far as I could find.
I find it hard to get very worked up about the statement. But then, I've always found it a bit disingenuous to pretend that there's no theological differences between Protestants and Catholics, or among Protestants and among Catholics. That said, I find I have more in common with many Catholics than I do with many Protestants, or -- even though I'm quite comfortable being identified as an evangelical -- that I have some things in common with the magisterial Reformation that I don't share with certain evangelicals.
But while confessional matters are important, I don't find it difficult nor do I experience cognitive dissonance by making common cause in the social, cultural, and political domains with those with whom I differ confessionally. That's true whether the confession is intentionally religious or un-self-consciously so. I've made common cause with crazy Ayn Rand-ers and libertarians, with "charismatic" and Catholic Christians, with Hindus and Buddhists and Sikhs and, yes, Muslims, with liberal Protestants, with people of Jewish faith of various kinds, and with remarkably devout agnostics and atheists!
In short, I've made common cause where the cause was held in common. As for the rest, my ethnic WASP reticence generally prevents me from "getting into it" when I disagree, even when pressed. I've seen my Catholic friends, who know me well enough to know that I describe myself -- tongue planted firmly in cheek -- as "the last self-conscious Protestant in Canada," look on with bemusement as one of their co-religionists attempted to convert me to their faith. I've pointed out to gay libertarian friends that it isn't easy for a heterosexual male growing up on a farm in Alberta where you feed and water the cattle and throw bales AND practice piano and perform as a boy soloist for church and weddings.
And that's one of the great features of joining a political party or another organization dedicated to an issue campaign or to social action or cultural engagement: they bring people of sometimes disparate faiths and backgrounds and experiences together for a time. The coming together doesn't dispel the differences. But it does allow people with differences to set aside their differences at least for a time in order to come together on matters of common concern.
This is, as someone coined the term, "the ecumenism of the trenches."
UPDATE: So much for "the ecumenism of the trenches." ;-) Fortunately, though, this is not representative of the reality among activists I've worked with. And I might add that there's a wide spectrum of views among non-religious secularists as well, with views strongly held. :-)
Speller is welcome to get in touch with me directly (I'm "in the book") if he wants to verify my WASP or evangelical credentials -- and the two categories are not necessarily identical. Many Canadian evangelicals, especially in western Canada, are three or four generations removed from the German, Scandinavian, Dutch, or Russian Mennonite immigrants who came to Canada with "free church" or anabaptist roots. The "Missionary" and "Evangelical Free" churches -- now, merged as one in Canada -- are examples of this. American WASPs are quite different from this, as are the "Upper Canadian" variety.
As usual, Kathy Shaidle does not disappoint -- always entertaining, especially when she's on the attack. :-) Kathy's "not wrong" -- there's plenty of unintentionally hilarious, cultural kitsch and what the evangelical, satirical mag, "Wittenburg Door" many years ago called "Jesus junk" (and, yes, I know that "Wittenburg" is misspelled -- that in itself is a story). But, frankly, there's plenty of Catholic kitsch out there, to go 'round, too.
As for Kathy Shaidle's other point about the Protestant cultural contributions, let me point out a few to balance off her counter-examples: Bach (a Lutheran whose music is loved by Benedict XVI), Isaac Newton, the Calvinist Rembrandt, Shakespeare (a Protestant whom Catholics try to claim as their own . . . now), Handel, and, in the present, Ben Heppner, the Canadian (and evangelical) tenor, and the neocalvinist Makoto Fujimura of NYC, to name a couple. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind was published when evangelicals' recovery was already well underway, and a lot of the leading edge stuff in epistemology, political theory, and sociology, for example, is being pursued by evangelical intellectuals.
But let me reiterate my point: evangelicals and Catholics do well to make common cause on social, cultural, and political issues, where their causes are (frequently) held in common. Likewise, I am happy to make common cause with a wide variety of people where we hold a common view on a given issue. In his The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister, John O'Sullivan points out how John Paul II, the Methodist-Anglican Margaret Thatcher, and the American evangelical Ronald Reagan worked in concert to defeat communist totalitarianism.
Canada joins in the universal condemnation of Iran
“Canada remains concerned with the human rights situation in Iran and calls upon the Government of Iran to live up to its commitments and obligations under domestic and international law.”
It's a 7th century style government and this rogue regime is actively seeking ways to build nuclear weapons as well. Let's not forget that we're dealing with a government that is one of the prime violators of the human rights and human dignity, while funding terrorists across the globe and exploring ways to have nuclear arms. Iranian regime must be stopped!
Ability to exaggerate, dissemble and hyperbolize considered an asset.
So much for the paranoid- extremist-religous motive, or the socio-cultural-protest one as well. U.S. authorities are now alleging Omar Khadr revealed a rather more universal and certainly more coarse motive for his attack on its troops in Afghanistan in 2002: "I wanted to kill a lot of American[s] to get lots of money," he is alleged to have said. The bounty on each soldier's head? $1,500.
Drastic measures, dramatic gestures
Food Navigator: China expects to close half of smaller processors
The number of small processors operating in China will halved, following an announcement made by the national food regulator this week.
So it's official; half of what they produce is crap. I don't know, this seems very drastic, almost dramatic. I'm skeptical whether it will happen.
btw, I love this sentence in the story: "This week, the execution of the former head of the food and drug agency for corruption sent a worldwide message that China is taking food safety seriously." What, do jurisdictions without capital punishment not take food safety seriously?
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Val Ross in The Mop and Pail: Dion's gamble on culture
The Liberal leader is on a charm offensive with Canadian artists and arts leaders and has had face time with artists and leaders from the music industry, theatre, museums and dance in Montreal, Winnipeg and Toronto.
A Liberal charm offensive with the "I-live-on-government-grants" crowd; well, that should be like shooting ducks in a barrel. This is just a bribe to get celebrity party goers like that mediocrity Atwood to up the volume on their slagging of the Conservatives.