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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?" 

Posted by Rick Hiebert on July 21, 2007 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (41) | TrackBack

CBC vs Ayan Hirsi Ali

Hirsi Ali 10 -- Avi Lewis 0

Posted by Winston on July 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (159) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Jordan Michael Smith on July 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Ezra Levant on July 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack

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.

The Conservatives have joined the NDP in demanding some sort of investigation in David Pretlove and Suzan Pawlak:

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]

Posted by Steve Janke on July 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

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!?!


Posted by Winston on July 19, 2007 in Media, Religion | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack

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!

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on July 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Kevin Steel on July 19, 2007 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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]

Posted by Steve Janke on July 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gen. Petraeus on Iraq, the surge & war on terror

Is The Surge Working? An Interview With General Petraeus:

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.

Posted by Winston on July 18, 2007 in Current Affairs, Military | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 18, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Kevin Steel on July 18, 2007 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

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?

Not quite.

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.

Yeah.  Sure.

[For all the links and supporting data, go to the extended post at Angry in the Great White North]

Posted by Steve Janke on July 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Kevin Steel on July 17, 2007 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (54) | TrackBack

Double jeopardy

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.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 17, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (42) | TrackBack

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. 

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 16, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (38) | TrackBack

Hating Hogtown

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.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 16, 2007 in Humour | Permalink | Comments (49) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Winston on July 15, 2007 in Current Affairs, Military | Permalink | Comments (64) | TrackBack