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Thursday, January 13, 2005

NORMAN'S SPECTATOR

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.

With the death toll in Indonesia alone now estimated at 210,000, the papers continue to ease away from the tsunami disaster to focus on domestic concerns.

In the UK, tough times for toffs to report today, I’m afraid. Maggie Thatcher’s son will plead guilty in a Johannesburg courtroom.

State schools have come out ahead of public (i.e., private) schools. Yesterday, Prince Harry was splashed on the front page of the Sun in Nazi regalia.

On the other hand, the Chancellor is in Africa and has some new ideas on saving lives. The Financial Post reports US complicity in oil-for-food—today’s top international story.

At home, CBC reports Canada was close to signing a deal to join the U.S. missile defence program before last June's federal election.

The Inuit will sign a land claims agreement today. DART is showing its stuff in Sri Lanka. Judge Gomery will have a better day today, and so he should.

Pratt and Whitney will gets lots of dough from Ottawa. DND has told the Information Commish to take a hike. It's getting a new CDS.

One day after, it seems that Nortel execs are not exactly facing poverty. Offshore talks with Nova Scotia are going well.

Alberta's mad cow is still making news and excuses, while its Premier is still on the road talking about his way, or the third way, or whatever.

The Prime Minister is about to hit the road again for China —where he’s being told to give them whatfor. He'll also tour the disaster areas, and his officials re-assured Ottawa reporters that he won’t get in the way.

One of those reporters, first day back from vacation, scores today’s top story--about a minister who went on vacation.

Big deal: In the let-them-eat-cake department, a Thai Princess arrives in Whistler today on a vacation scheduled before the tsunami disaster. And new numbers are out on high-living Canadian diplomats.

Runner-up for top story? A Martin backbencher, who seems to be marching to his own drummer in Sri Lanka. What the heck: I suspect Foreign Affairs will be dealing with other matters today.

It was close for runner-up, mind you: another backbencher—a Privy Councillor yet—says the Ukraine election observer mission was tainted by patronage. Quelle horreur.

In France, GP's inked a new deal.  Jean Marie Le Pen says the Nazi occupation of France was not all that bad. Iraq’s president is finally visiting Paris.

In the US, the New York Times and The Washington Post lead with the Supremes on mandatory sentencing guidelines—judges have their discretion back.

The Times fronts new evidence the White House knew about prisoner interrogation methods.

The Post reports the Administration is lowering expectations for Iraq’s elections.

The Los Angeles Times leads with a glitch in FBI software, and fronts more on the Aussie Arar.

The editorial board looks at political conflict in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and rain in California.

Max Boot says it’s premature to fall in love with Abu Mazen. Margaret Carlson says CBS are not as big liars as the Admin.

The New York Times’ editorial board comments on the wind-up of WMD inspections that found zilch. Tom Friedman concludes that the Iraq elections should go ahead.

Frank Rich says CBS is not the only network that deserves criticism. Maureen Dowd says men don’t want to marry smart women, they want mommy or their secretaries.

The Washington Post’s editorial board weighs in on peace in Sudan and internet pharmacies in Canada/Australia.

David Broder looks at homeland security, Jim Hoagland at Iraq after the election. Richard Cohen says CBS capitulated to the Administration.

The Wall Street Journal fronts friction over trade rules for tsunami countries. Peggy Noonan weighs in on CBS and journalism.

Glen Yago and Don McCarthy look at economic growth in the Mideast. The editorial board looks at the oil-for-food audits:

“The audits -- now available www.iic-offp.org -- demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that U.N. headquarters was well aware of serious problems with the program. They also elucidate the motives the Secretariat might have had for sending out a flurry of "hush" letters threatening program contractors with legal action if they cooperated with U.S. investigators. That's because the audits shine a particularly unflattering light on the work of the companies charged with inspecting the oil and goods traded under the program -- Saybolt (oil), and Lloyd's Register and Cotecna (humanitarian imports). …

Which brings us to the fact that the Volcker Commission appears to have drawn some fairly damning conclusions already. In the briefing paper accompanying the release of these audits it marvels at the critical aspects of the program that weren't audited. Although "the potential for abuse was a principal concern of the U.N. team that negotiated the Memorandum of Understanding with Iraq in 1995," the Commission writes, "there were no examinations of the oil and humanitarian contracts" or the processing of letters of credit by BNP Paribas, which handled the program money. Such examinations, the Commission states, might have deterred the surcharge and kickback schemes Saddam used to get around sanctions.

Last April we wrote that Oil for Food had been "so secretively run that it seemed almost designed to facilitate the corruption that fleeced [Iraqis] of billions of dollars in aid." What sunshine we've had from the U.N. since has done nothing to change that conclusion.”

Returning home, the Globe and Mail fronts MRI’s in Nfld., the Crosby jersey, Klein on cattle, and Li pulling out of Canada in a blaze of glory.

From Washington, Paul Koring reports that Indonesia is cracking down on aid workers.

In commentary, Margaret Wente weighs in on mad cow (Memo to Peggy: Check out the failures of Alberta ’s inspection system, and some evidence of shenanigans on this file in Ralph’s world):

“Are we just victims of bad luck? Or has somebody badly bungled this?

The answer is, somebody has badly bungled this. Make that several somebodies, led by your federal government, your watchdogs at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the cattle industry itself. They're still in denial, desperately hoping the problem will go away. Meantime, almost everyone who knows something about mad cows says this latest case is no surprise.”

Lawrence Martin says the validity of the Iraq election is riding on the shoulders of Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer; here I thought our observers would be observing from outside Iraq:

“Options are limited. Postponing the election probably would not solve anything. At this stage, a fault-ridden election is likely to be better than none at all.

But the Kingsley group need be wary. If it gives a seal of approval to a corrupt vote, it could bring more hell to Iraq.”

The editorial board defends Judge Gomery:

“A little perspective, please. Judge Gomery's comments to The Globe and Mail and CanWest were remarkable for being more open than the ones judges usually share with the press, but they were not out of line. He is not presiding over a criminal trial; he has no power as a commissioner to lay criminal charges or make findings of civil liability. He is an active participant in the inquiry, seeking to get at the truth of the matter so that he might explain what happened and recommend ways to prevent any abuses from recurring. His comments to the press did not compromise that search. He revealed only that he is human, has a sense of humour and, like the rest of us, follows the news.”

Another editorialist says if we want to be international humanitarians, we must increase military spending:

“Prime Minister Paul Martin wants to raise Canada 's international profile and take a more active role in world crises. Our military has neither the numbers nor the equipment to do the job. If we want to have a presence in international humanitarian disasters, either natural or man-made, we have to be able to get our forces there quickly and in force. At present, they are stretched to the breaking point. To relieve that pressure, Ottawa has been reducing our military presence in hot spots such as Bosnia and Afghanistan . Because of troop shortages, Canada could send only a small force to Haiti when that country plunged into crisis last year.

Finally embarrassed into action, the government promises to increase the size of the forces by 5,000, but when exactly that will happen is still foggy. The tsunami disaster shows how urgently we need to renew and rebuild the neglected military.”

A third looks at liquor privatization:

“The beer consortium has previously proposed merging its beer stores with those of the LCBO. That would be great for the beer companies, but how it would benefit consumers is hard to fathom.

A far better solution would be to break up both monopolies and open the market to all comers. Alberta successfully went through this exercise more than a decade ago. Many other governments also leave the sale of alcohol to private enterprise, with no signs that the societies they govern are going to hell in a handbasket.”

The Toronto Star fronts Li, a Hep-C victim and icy roads.

Andrew Mills is following Canadian aid in Aceh. Peter Calamai reports that tourists will soon be coming to Canada in winter to golf.

Vinay Menon sets up tonight’s benefit concert. (Here’s Paul Wells in Macleans.)

In commentary, Haroon Siddiqui says Canada can help in Darfur by getting the US to do something about the situation. Jim Travers—who broke the story before Christmas—outlines the challenges awaiting Frank McKenna in Washington.

The editorial board welcomes a debate with Ralph Klein on health care, and weighs in on the mad cow. (In the Edmonton Sun, Neil Waugh wonders how Paul Martin will get us out of the doo-doo in Washington.)

The National Post and The Ottawa Citizen front a high-living Canadian ambassador, while the Vancouver Sun fronts one who's being given the cold shoulder by the Saudi Excellency.

The Sun fronts new cancer drugs, the Post features the goose-stepping prince, Russian arms sales to Syria and Lorne Gunter on the Bush Inauguration—the first of a six-part series. Yikes.

The Citizen also features DND bucking FOI, its CDS-to-be and a new exhibit and gala planned by the National Gallery.

Inside the Post, Andrew Nikiforuk wades in on mad cow. Don Martin is wondering why Ralph Klein is touring the country. Good question.

Paul Kedrosky looks at Apple. David Frum says we’ll never run out of oil, though some day we’ll stop using it.

The editorial board praises Romeo Dallaire's remarks on Darfur, yesterday's top story.

Elsewhere in CanWest land, hospitals are clogged in Victoria. The Calgary Herald says the top priority must be to keep the border open to beef.

The Montréal Gazette editorial board weighs in on behalf of Judge Gomery:

“the best part of the day's proceedings came when Gomery switched from defence to offence, so to speak. Refusing to apologize for the interview comment that "judges hate being lied to," Gomery said this: "I don't withdraw that statement at all. If people find that is a threatening statement, well, they don't need to be concerned. All they have to do is tell me the truth."

This response seems to have left Scott gasping and floundering, but to all us non-lawyers it's simple enough. Trying to derail the inquiry on such flimsy grounds is indefensible.”

(Here, for comparison, is Le Devoir’s take, which should also cheer up Mr. Gomery.)

Posted by Norman Spector on January 13, 2005 | Permalink

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