Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An idle question

Just when did "Project Samosa" become "Project Samossa?"

From The BT Litter Box

I try not to sound like a broken record, I really do. But there's one truth that just doesn't seem to be getting across to the pundits, bloggers and advocates who are currently reveling in, and stoking, hatred of Muslims for political gain.

And that is: the hatemongers who are now calling for the banning, or the exile, or the internment of Muslims in Canada are EXACTLY the same people who called for the banning, or the exile, or the internment of Jews in Germany.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Project Samosa, the media, and their sources

The publication ban on Project Samosa, the RCMP's latest salvo in the war on terror, has the media scrambling to get unnamed sources and security experts to augment and substitute for accounts of court proceedings. By a happy coincidence for war on terror fans, this allows for far more pants-pissingly terrorfying conjecture than mere straight news would allow.

So far, "sources" have told one security expert, an ex-RCMP and CSIS operative quoted at CTV, that the accused :
1) "would have targeted the Parliament buildings and Montreal's public transit system with bombs",
2) "that the ringleader went to Afghanistan and to Pakistan to receive training",
3) "some of their suspected accomplices could be in Iran or in Dubai."
4) "were assembling components for one or more bombs and had raised money for al Qaeda and the Taliban"
5) "the ringleader was about to take a trip abroad, maybe to deliver the money himself"

This last is the reported reason for the arrests. After a year of watching them :

"Police say a terror attack was likely still months away when they pounced on the plot, but they moved because they feared the men were about to start sending money to other terrorists in Afghanistan."
Last I heard "terrorists" in Afghanistan were already rolling in US tax dollars and drug money but whatever.

A year ago The Star ran an excellent piece on the media's relationship with their "sources" in the Arar case when he was the terrorist du jour :
Learning from media mistakes in Arar case

Canadian Press journalist Stephen Thorne quoted an official source that linked Arar to "a suspected member of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network."

Robert Fife, CanWest's Ottawa bureau chief, "cited an anonymous official who described Arar as a "very bad guy" who had received training at an Al Qaeda base and that intelligence received from Syria had helped the CIA avert an attack on the U.S. embassy in Ottawa."

Craig Oliver at CTV News was "offered a photograph of Arar training in a camp in Afghanistan" Oliver :"The source wanted me to use the information without showing me the photograph. That was a very solid source... This experience has made me more skeptical... I knew these people very well."

Ottawa Citizen's Juliet O'Neill was fed a story that carried the lede "Canada's dossier on Maher Arar: The existence of a group of Ottawa men with alleged ties to Al Qaeda is at the root of why the government opposes an inquiry into the case."

Even after Arar's return to Canada, "Robert Fife was once more the vehicle that Canadian and U.S. intelligence officials used to inform the public that they were "100 per cent sure" that Arar trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan."

Some of these reporters have since stated they were used and apologised to Arar; some have not. The point is they were all used to disseminate to the public false information from anonymous government and police sources. Something to bear in mind when "sources" are once again where we will be getting most of our information on this newest batch of alleged terrorists, given it will likely be months if not years before any actual trial.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oil on troubled flames

In my last post I took a squint at the current feeding frenzy over the recent arrests of alleged terrorists--not only a trial by media, as my co-blogger Marie-Ève commenter deBeauxOs referred to it in the comments, but a virtual conviction by media.

Needless to say, some of the Usual Suspects across the heavily-patrolled blogospheric border have lost no time getting into the action. The mainstream Canadian Islamic Congress is now experiencing a backlash--for, in part, appearing to express apprehension about a backlash.

Here's how that works.

1) Select a statement from a press release and wrench it out of context:

The CIC affirms that Canadian Muslims, more than other citizens, are deeply concerned and disturbed about the arrests and especially about psychological, social and emotional impact of these arrests on the well being of Canadian Muslims.

2) Make a racially-tinged dismissive remark:

"In other words screw you Kuffars, we Muslims is sensitive.

2) Paste up the whole release, but use this trick :

3) Tell the dirty Mooslums to go back where they came from:

"If you don’t like it you may be more comfortable in more Muslim friendly places.

4) Call those Muslims who caution against the immediate presumption of guilt a bunch of liars.

Now, let's see what has been left out of this shrieking narrative. Why, the very first two sentences of the release, in shout-caps:



Gosh. Isn't this the "leaders speaking out" trope that the far Right are always claiming doesn't exist? Best to ignore it and move down the release a tad to find what you're looking for.

Incidentally, I don't think the statement further down about the well-being of Canadian Muslims necessarily refers to a backlash at all, but to the feelings that many ordinary Canadian Muslims undoubtedly experience when alleged jihadists are seen as acting in their name. But backlash there is--as we can PLAINLY SEE.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nostalgie De La Boo

No, it's not a typo. It's a lament for the sad decline of the Ghost in fiction.


Always wanted to act in a film? You're in one now, in real-time: The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. Your neighbours, even your own family members, seem like regular people, but they're...different. Search your neighbourhood for pods.

Presumption of innocence? Don't make us laugh. This is no time for abstract principles. How could these alleged terrorists turn on us in this way? Why? They seemed so normal!

An effortless transition has quickly taken place in the popular mind: Why don't those niqab-wearing, mosque-attending people blend in and become like us? has now become, They're blending in and becoming like us! Security!

Meanwhile, one of the suspected terrorists, Rizgar Alizadeh, strongly proclaims his innocence, but guilty people do that all the time. The McGill-trained doctor and Canadian Idol contestant, Khurram Sher, played ball-hockey. He worked in a Montreal soup kitchen, and volunteered for a month of service in an Israeli hospital. Alizadeh's brother Hiva liked Canada for its wealth and kind people: "He was saying lots of good things about Canada's economy and it was really good for him because he was working and had enough to do."

Heh. We're on to you.

The overstimulation of the body politic's reptile brain continues. The t-words are everywhere. "The threat, as exemplified by the arrests of three Canadian citizens this week, including a McGill University graduate of medicine..." ("Exemplified?" What on earth does that mean?) "A New Threat: Homegrown and High-Tech," blats Canada's National Newspaper, noting in the deck that an
alleged conspirator denies the charges.

"How Terror Came Home to Roost," blares the Ottawa Citizen above the fold. "[T]he cancerous result of al-Qaeda's successful marketing of Islamic extremism," shrieks the deck.

"The spectre of terrorism," we are informed, "continues to haunt North Americans....[A]s highlighted by this week's unmasking of an
alleged bomb plot in Ottawa, the threat increasingly comes not from strangers with rough English and dubious passports. Instead, it resides much closer to home: in urban townhouses, darkened basements--anywhere with an Internet connection."

While in the past the government has "had a hard time proving" other alleged terrorists dangerous, "the terrorist threat in Canada has continued to evolve." CSIS director Richard Fadden says, "It's the people who have been in this country for quite a while who are rejecting the very essence of what we are in Canada."

"The case of Dr. Khurram Sher is the most perplexing," the Citizen's "analyst," Andrew Duffy, continues. "How is it that he allegedly enlisted in a conspiracy to deliver arms to Afghan insurgents and to plant bombs in Ottawa?"

Khurram helped with earthquake relief in Pakistan in 2006, and in 2007 he signed a petition demanding better care for three men held in prison on security certificates. "Could these events have been among those to shape his worldview?" asks the breathless Duffy. Good Lord.

Meanwhile, Citizen regular op-ed columnist David Harris (an interesting man, to be sure) decries Ottawa police chief Vern White's outreach to Muslim community leaders, the word "leaders" placed in shudder-quotes for some reason. That's "politically correct policing," shrieks Harris. It's "feeding the Islamist victimology hype."

"Montreal Muslim community closes ranks," screams another hed in the print edition of the
Globe and Mail. Surprise, surprise.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dissenting View: Stifling a Tear For The Poor Jaworskis

In a surprising turn of events this week, Rush Limbaugh announced he would be inviting President Obama to stand as godfather for the child he and his new wife are expecting. Pamela Geller withdrew her opposition to the not-mosque at not-ground zero. And, oh, yeah, Dr. Dawg and Kathy Shaidle agreed on something.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More quartzies arrested in Ottawa

(DawgNews, Ottawa, August 26) Another nest of violent silicon-based life-forms with funny names has been uncovered, this time in Ottawa. Lashing their tails furiously, two of the hideous creatures were arraigned in a local courtroom yesterday.

A third, who had "passed for carbon" as a doctor and goofy Canadian Idol contestant, was apprehended today. The search is still on for three more of the scaly monsters. It is hoped that a trail of venom dripping from their massive jaws will lead specially trained RCMP attack dogs and armed personnel to their new lair.

Dubbed "Project Silica," the current police operation uncovered considerable evidence of bomb-making, religion and other potential threats. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from a remote northern bunker, connected the plot to recent Russian incursions into international airspace and a boatload of Tamils on the West Coast. He warned that we have seen just the tip of the iceberg.

"Those hard-rockers from space are walking among us today," he said. "They mean us no good. They eat people, and that means you and me."

The succulent soft pink creature urged Canadians to be vigilant: "They always give themselves away," he said. "A word, a phrase, a gesture, an out-of-tune song." Bloggers are expected to play their patriotic part, and already many of them have taken on this new project with aplomb.

"Send 'em back where they came from, wherever the hell that is," reports one well-read commentator. "Yeah, and them, too." "Rockheads are violent retards," says another. Red-blooded Canadians are rising to the challenge--and, it seems, not a moment too soon.

Space cadets

Over the past few days we've helplessly witnessed the Conservative government rattle its sabres over a supposed threat to Canadian airspace from the Russians--awaking memories in the older yokels of The Communist Threat. Minus, of course, the Communists and the threat, but what the hey.

The facts are as plain as the motives. The Russians have at no time violated Canadian airspace. Despite the popular use of misleading words like "incursion," there have been none. Ah, but what if we had not scrambled our creaky old CF-18s? What then? Why, we'd all be drinking vodka on the steps of the House of Commons, and eating caviar by now--like portly Senators in the Parliamentary dining room.

"Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces," sez PM Harper, at no time did the Russian aircraft enter Canadian sovereign air space." Which puts one in mind of the old joke about the man in the psychiatrist's office who wouldn't stop snapping his fingers. "Why are you doing that?" asks the shrink.

"To keep the elephants away."

"But there aren't any elephants within miles of here."

"Works pretty well, eh?"

Well, bigod, $16 billion worth of new F-35s by untendered contract with Lockheed Martin will make our response even rapider. (Lockheed Martin--the kindly American folks who helped us out with the 2006 census.) But the Russian menace makes it downright unpatriotic to question this corporate windfall. Their air exercises are the very definition of serendipity.

And that's not all--we're into all that space-age stuff too, like Radarsat v.3.0 for another half-billion. We have the technology. "The eyes on these satellites," our Leader avers, "will pick up a breaching whale through the fog in the utter blackness of an Arctic winter....From Afghanistan to the Arctic, from the coast of Somalia to the shores of Nootka Sound [on Vancouver Island], we will be able to see what the bad guys are up to."

"The bad guys." So our mindless domestic policy continues, while our plummet to the bottom of the well of international mediocrity accelerates.
The chief threat to our nation may turn out to be, in fact, the prospect of fatal mockery. Save the whales!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You go, Bubble Girl

Charges were dropped. ¡Viva la revolución!

[H/t Firebrand]

This one's about me

MA thesis successfully defended. Pass with distinction.

I'm going out to get drunk.

Who muzzled the RCMP over Insite?

Paul Wells yesterday on the bogus “academic” argument against Insite and the muzzling of RCMP's attempts to fix their earlier support of it :
"The only “research” the Harper government is prepared to rely on, as it fights Insite all the way to the Supreme Court, was not research; was secretly bought and paid for with federal tax dollars; contradicts the actual research; has been disowned internally by the police force that bankrolled it; and would have been disowned publicly by that police force if somebody at the RCMP’s highest ranks or outside it hadn’t put the kibosh on."
In December RCMP in BC were set to hold a presser to acknowledge :
"an extensive body of Canadian and international peer-reviewed research reporting the benefits of supervised injection sites and no objective peer-reviewed studies demonstrating harms.” As well, [Chief Superintendent] Harriman said the RCMP would admit that “reviews” commissioned by the force, which contested the centre’s research, “did not meet conventional academic standards.”

Then BC's RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass called it off : "I’m really sorry, I’ve been ordered not to go ahead with the news conference.” But on whose orders exactly?

John Geddes wrote the original piece on this at Maclean's on Friday, already linked by Pogge and The Jurist. Today Wells is pushing to get some traction on an issue that, regardless of what anyone's opinion of Insite may be, clearly points to government data fudging. Where the hell is the rest of the media on this?

Comments under both Wells and Geddes are running to the "oh well, research, who can tell what's really true?" and "who said the government interfered?"variety.

Well you can tell a couple of things about one of those RCMP commissioned reports, written by Dr. Colin Mangham, and how government figured in them.

Flashback : In May 2008, Tony Clement, then Health Minister, turned up at the Standing Committee on Health intending to combat Insite with one doctor in tow - Colin Mangham, "Director of Research" for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada.

The Drug Prevention Network of Canada is a member org of the Canadian government's National Drug Prevention Advisory Committee and an offshoot of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas, dedicated to "combating the drug legalization movement globally."

The current president of DPNCanada is also on the board of DPNAmericas; the Canadian vice pres is Gwen Landolt of REAL Women. Rounding out the board of our own war on drugs Canadian clonetank is founder and past president ReformaCon MP Randy White, plus a couple of Scientology Narconon graduates.

"Honorary board member" Calvina L. Fay of Drug Free America and Save Our Society From Drugs is touted as having "served as an advisor to President Bush on drug policy".
Yeah, war on drugs!

So did Clement's Dr. Mangham have any data for the Health Committee in 2008 to support his contention that 22 independent research papers in support of Insite were worthless? No, he was just offering an opinion, a "critique".

Cathie was on this back in 2007 with the publishing of Mangham's "critique". The new wrinkle is that someone muzzled the RCMP on coming clean about it last fall.

Now who do we know that has made a veritable career out of muzzling civil servants ?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Slow news month

(Language NSFW.)

[H/t mediaite]

Bringing in the chiefs

Marci McDonald’s recent book on the relationship between the Religious Right and the Harper government,
The Armageddon Factor, may have been unclear on finer points of theology, and it contained a small handful of solecisms over which the Usual Suspects snorted and slobbered. But in general it was a competent dissection of the influence that certain elements of the "faith community" would like to have on governance, and a government (Stephen Harper, that is) that has provided them with unprecedented space—while falling far short of attempting to turn Canada into the Republic of Gilead.

But at least one significant omission should be rectified: the attempts of the government to work with reactionary religious elements amongst the First Nations.

Relations between the Harper administration and First Nations have been fraught almost from the beginning. From attempting to foist Maurice "Starlight Tours" Vellacott upon the Aboriginal Affairs Committee, to its shameful rejection of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ; from its refusal for years to build a children’s school in Attawapiskat to its appointment of Chuck Strahl as Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, whose visceral contempt for the First Nations is a matter of public record. (Chuck has now moved on to become Minister of Transport.)

As for Harper’s much-vaunted “apology” to residential school survivors, he followed that bit of self-serving puffery with deep slashes in funding to aboriginal groups:

But with apology and self-congratulations still echoing, his government cut off funding in its March 2010, budget to the very aboriginal groups set up to administer to survivors. The Ottawa-based Aboriginal Healing Centre loses its last federal money — and with it, some 147 national centres and projects — in 2012.

This past June, however, I watched that same Chuck Strahl receive high honours, in person, from a gathering of First Nations people in Ottawa (actually, outnumbered in the audience by those of the European persuasion). But this was no ordinary meeting. Strategically organized to take place a week before the hapless, hobbled Truth and Reconciliation Commission was due to hold its first hearings in Winnipeg, the National Forgiven Summit, organized by Canada’s Aboriginal Religious Right, gathered to accept Harper’s empty apology.

The master of ceremonies was one Kenny Blacksmith, a former Deputy Grand Chief of the Cree nation, already rewarded earlier this year for his devotion to the Conservative cause by being appointed to the little-known Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Kenny is a protégé of the noted young Christian Dominionist Faytene Kryskow, who featured heavily in MacDonald’s book. Indeed, she helped him set up his more recent Facebook page.

He is devout and pentacostal—not that there’s anything wrong with that. But the subversive wedding of his beliefs with the aims of our government (the Ottawa meeting featured a video clip from Harper on a big screen, and various Conservative notables were in the VIP section) is something else again, particularly given the harm that this government has visited upon First Nations people.

Now, what is wrong with this picture? A group claiming to speak for Aboriginal people, making close links with a government that, despite a so-called apology for the shameful legacy of residential schools, has thwarted them at every turn? A government that even balked at building a school for Indian kids, while providing major funding for a Christian private college, and a Christian youth center in Vic Toews’ NDP MP Pat Martin's riding, over his objections, after the vigorous intervention of Vic Toews?

The only thing the government and Blacksmith have in common, it seems, is Jesus. But one wonders whether the Latter would approve of these goings-on. Does Blacksmith work for his people, or for the government?

Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows. And a slave cannot serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honor the one and offend the other." (Thom 47:1-2)

And is he building unity or dividing his people?

"These 6 things doth the Lord hate . . . a proud look, a lying tongue . . . and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Prov. 6:16-19).

So much for the chant of Kenny Blacksmith, a biddable man who reminds me a bit of Prufrock in T.S. Eliot's eponymous poem:

[O]ne that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse...

So far, I suspect, little real damage has been done--Blacksmith and his following are just more people waiting in the wings, along with the other folks described in McDonald's exposé. But a Harper majority could change everything.

We might recall that the current government is not the first to play this game. The Lubicon Cree, still desperately trying to settle a land-claim, their ancestral lands progressively despoiled, their population ridden with tuberculosis, suffered grievously under the Liberals. And one tactic used by Jean Chrétien, was to invent two Indian bands out of thin air, hoping to lure away Lubicon members. The people of one fake band, the "Woodland Cree," were promised $1000 each if they voted for a federal offer of a pitifully inadequate reserve. They later found out that this would be deducted from their welfare payments.

But the deliberate courting of an idiosyncratic Indian leader as though he actually spoke for First Nations as a whole marks a new and dangerous political departure. The Assembly of First Nations, unsurprisingly, is none too happy with this initiative: "Forgiveness," said AFN president Shawn Atleo, "is an individual choice and a personal decision. No one can forgive on someone else's behalf."

Precisely. But this government will take what forgiveness it can get. All that's missing is repentance.

Battleship: The Movie

I read with interest that production of the $200 M. film "Battleship" is underway. It is not, apparently, a sequel to "Battleship Potemkin" (what IS Warren Beatty up to these days, anyway?) or "Battleship Earth" (what IS John Travolta up to these days, anyway?): rather, it is based on Battleship, the Hasbro board game. You know, the one where you sit there and say "J 10", and the other guy says "Miss. C2", and you say "Hit. G 7", and the other guy says "Hit. C3", and you say...well, you remember.

G20 - The Impersonating a Police Officer Sketch

Paul Jay has posted an excellent two part interview with constitutional/criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby. Ruby is defending British satirist Charlie Veitch, the second person to be charged at G20 under the Public Works Protection Act. You can watch both parts at The Real News Network or at Creekside.

Shorter Ruby: We do have the right to peaceful protest under the Charter; unfortunately we just have no way of enforcing that right.

Veitch faces two charges. One - failure to cough up ID after being escorted by police to within the five meter perimeter of magical police authority. And two - impersonating a police officer. Except that he didn't.

Jay only provides a snippet of the not impersonating a police officer sketch, so here it is transcribed - Veitch's exchange with a rather literal-minded dude from Paragon Security.
CV : "We're from British Military Intelligence, I'm here with the metropolitan police ... so it's all fully authorized at the highest levels ... cause you know sometimes ... have you heard what an Agent Provocateur is?

Security: "I have no ideas."

CV : "What it is, sometimes when there are big demonstrations - I can tell you this because you're security - they use fake protesters to cause trouble, and we're here to be those fake protesters. So it's fully authorized."

Security: "OK, I understand that, do you have a certification?"

CV : "No, we're not press, 'cause we're undercover, and if we carried ID around, we might get searched by protesters."
I really don't see any way for them to avoid reading this little exchange into the record at the trial as evidence. Snerk. Unless, as with the other guy they charged, they just opt for not showing up to the court date at all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Time" exploits victim to promote Afghan war

The August edition of Time magazine published a shocking cover picture of a young Afghan woman who had her ears and nose cut off, accompanied by the title : ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan’.

The story, Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban, begins :

The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband's house. They dragged her to a mountain clearing near her village in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, ignoring her protests that her in-laws had been abusive ... Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved.

And then her husband sliced off her ears and nose.

A hand-wringing note from Time's managing editor explains "how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival." Excerpted :

"I thought long and hard about whether to put this image on the cover of TIME

I'm acutely aware that this image will be seen by children, who will undoubtedly find it distressing. We have consulted with a number of child psychologists about its potential impact ...

"I would rather confront readers with the Taliban's treatment of women than ignore it. I would rather people know that reality as they make up their minds about what the U.S. and its allies should do in Afghanistan.

The much publicized release of classified documents by WikiLeaks has already ratcheted up the debate about the war. ... What you see in these pictures and our story is something that you cannot find in those 91,000 documents: a combination of emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land and the consequences of the important decisions that lie ahead."

About that "emotional truth" in "our story"...

Here's an article from RAWA, which has been fighting the Taliban a lot longer than Time magazine :

"Time" exploits victim to promote war

"In return for allowing Time to publish her photo, Aisha was flown to the US for reconstructive surgery. However, although Time ensured her mutilated face was seen worldwide, they appear less keen for her voice to be heard.

"I heard Aisha's story from her a few weeks before the image of her face was displayed all over the world", Ann Jones, author of Kabul in Winter, wrote in the August 12 Nation. "She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn't figure at all in this account."

The Time story, however, attributes Aisha's mutilation to a husband under orders of a Talib commander, thereby transforming a personal story, similar to those of countless women in Afghanistan today, into a portent of things to come for all women if the Taliban return to power ...

Afghan feminist Malalai Joya : "During the Taliban’s regime such atrocities weren’t as rife as it is now and the graph is hiking each day."

The article at RAWA cites a March 11, 2010 CIA document on spinning the war, published by WikiLeaks : CIA Red Cell

"Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences.

"Emotional truth".

h/t Rabble.

How to destroy a comment thread

A classic, in just over fifty moves. There's a sociology paper in there somewhere. I might even write it myself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gitmo: "Torture? What torture?"

Impossible, one might have thought, but the creature sitting in judgement over Canadian citizen Omar Khadr has disgraced himself still further. Col. Patrick Parrish may as well move right on to the sentencing phase, sparing us all this on-going farce of a "trial."

Here is what this monstrous individual has just ruled is not torture:

At Bagram, [Omar Khadr] was repeatedly brought into interrogation rooms on stretchers, in great pain. Pain medication was withheld, apparently to induce cooperation. He was ordered to clean floors on his hands and knees while his wounds were still wet. When he could walk again, he was forced to stand for hours at a time with his hands tied above a door frame. Interrogators put a bag over his head and held him still while attack dogs leapt at his chest. Sometimes he was kept chained in an interrogation room for so long he urinated on himself.


A few months after Omar Khadr arrived at Guantanamo Bay, he was awakened by a guard around midnight. "Get up," the guard said. "You have a reservation." "Reservation" is the commonly used term at Gitmo for interrogation.

In the interrogation room, Omar's interviewer grew displeased with his level of cooperation. He summoned several MPs, who chained Omar tightly to an eye bolt in the center of the floor. Omar's hands and feet were shackled together; the eye bolt held him at the point where his hands and feet met. Fetally positioned, he was left alone for half an hour.

Upon their return, the MPs uncuffed Omar's arms, pulled them behind his back and recuffed them to his legs, straining them badly at their sockets. At the junction of his arms and legs he was again bolted to the floor and left alone. The degree of pain a human body experiences in this particular "stress position" can quickly lead to delirium, and ultimately to unconsciousness. Before that happened, the MPs returned, forced Omar onto his knees, and cuffed his wrists and ankles together behind his back. This made his body into a kind of bow, his torso convex and rigid, right at the limit of its flexibility. The force of his cuffed wrists straining upward against his cuffed ankles drove his kneecaps into the concrete floor. The guards left.

An hour or two later they came back, checked the tautness of his chains and pushed him over on his stomach. Transfixed in his bonds, Omar toppled like a figurine. Again they left. Many hours had passed since Omar had been taken from his cell. He urinated on himself and on the floor. The MPs returned, mocked him for a while and then poured pine-oil solvent all over his body. Without altering his chains, they began dragging him by his feet through the mixture of urine and pine oil. Because his body had been so tightened, the new motion racked it. The MPs swung him around and around, the piss and solvent washing up into his face. The idea was to use him as a human mop. When the MPs felt they'd successfully pretended to soak up the liquid with his body, they uncuffed him and carried him back to his cell. He was not allowed a change of clothes for two days.


While he was at Guantanamo, Omar was beaten in the head, nearly suffocated, threatened with having his clothes taken indefinitely and, as at Bagram, lunged at by attack dogs while wearing a bag over his head. "Your life is in my hands," an intelligence officer told him during an interrogation in the spring of 2003. During the questioning, Omar gave an answer the interrogator did not like. He spat in Omar's face, tore out some of his hair and threatened to send him to Israel, Egypt, Jordan or Syria — places where they tortured people without constraints: very slowly, analytically removing body parts. The Egyptians, the interrogator told Omar, would hand him to Askri raqm tisa — Soldier Number Nine. Soldier Number Nine, the interrogator explained, was a guard who specialized in raping prisoners.

Omar's chair was removed. Because his hands and ankles were shackled, he fell to the floor. His interrogator told him to get up. Standing up was hard, because he could not use his hands. When he did, his interrogator told him to sit down again. When he sat, the interrogator told him to stand again. He refused. The interrogator called two guards into the room, who grabbed Omar by the neck and arms, lifted him into the air and dropped him onto the floor. The interrogator told them to do it again — and again and again and again. Then he said he was locking Omar's case file in a safe: Omar would spend the rest of his life in a cell at Guantanamo Bay.

If you have the stomach for it, read the whole thing.

This is how the applicable UN Convention defines torture:

[A]ny act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

The US and Canada are both signatories. So much for international law.

I hope I shall be forgiven my momentary fantasies: Harper and Obama in the dock at The Hague, while in some unknown country the bestial Col. Parrish is worked over like the wounded fifteen-year-old kid he has already condemned.

Charity Begins At Home. And Ends There.

A lesson in Christian charity from the Shaidle household; why waste money on dying ragheads - when you can Spend It On MEEEE!

That's Right, sez Right Girl , somewhat more succinctly.

Fuck ‘em.

Instead, Wendy asks that if you have any change left over after you've subsidized Half A Pint of Bitter, you can send her money to buy herself a nice new computer. That way she can keep up her OTHER site - the one where she doesn't beg quite so much because she's explaining how YOU TOO can become a rich and successful blogger like her.

Block that metaphor!

"Unless and until we know what the [independent expert] finds on the hard drive (if anything), this alleged fishing expedition may turn out to have been a wild goose chase."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Catholic than...

Mirabile dictu! The folks at St. Joseph's Parish in Ottawa are supporting the Capital Pride march on August 29.

What, tolerance squeezing through the door of the Catholic church? Not so fast. Big Blue Wave's SUZANNE is MASSIVELY pissed, and she's ratted them out to the Archbishop.

Should be interesting.

The outer limits

As suggested by Lawrence Martin in today's Globe & Mail, the next victim of the Harpershchina appears to be the president of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission. Konrad von Finckenstein is reportedly on his way out; his 2ic Michel Arpin has already been shown the door.

Their crimes against the people? Not dutifully clearing the way to give a "must carry" licence to Fox News North that would force cable companies to include it in local programming.

"You can’t have the Prime Minister handing out radio and TV licences," splutters Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Oh, no?

I can hear Harper echoing a distant predecessor: "Just watch me."

What would the new compulsory programming consist of? Perhaps we've already had a foretaste or two. Sun TV News is an initiative of Quebecor’s Pierre Karl Péladeau, whose father was an admirer of Adolf Hitler.* He's joined by Harper's former communications director Kory Teneycke, who once expressed the hope that marijuana activist Marc Emory would be gang-raped in a US prison.

You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. Under Teneycke's watch, a major Canadian newspaper has openly called for the mass extermination of Tamil refugees. Meanwhile a major television network had no problem mainstreaming white supremacist and neo-Nazi Paul Fromm.

The times they sure are a-changin'. What's next--a mysterious fire in the Peace Tower?

*Péladeau senior liked the man's "iron will and discipline," and kept a bust of Mussolini on his desk. He created a bit of a storm in 1990 by saying that "Jews take up too much space." His hero, of course, had a solution for that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Enema of the people

The Harpershchina purge of the public service appears to be gathering momentum. Here's a portrait gallery of some of the disappeared, no doubt airbrushed out of official photographs
by now.

[H/t Sister Sage]

Nostalgie de la boue

France has begun to round up and expel its Roma inhabitants. Ethnic cleansing, of course, is an old tradition in that neck of the woods.

But so far, at least, no major French newspaper has called for their outright murder.

BT Bingo: "Rape the Vets" Edition

The grownups among us understand that no Canadian government in the last quarter century has been principle-based. The game, as we all know, is to loudly assert a passionate commitment to the Noble Cause of the Day - the Environment, Our Troops, the Elimination of Child Poverty - with an eye on the polls, while quietly pursuing a more pragmatic agenda. The trick, of course, is managing when events in the real world bring to light the yawning crevasse between the Ringing Proclamation of Principle and your actual practice.

New York mosque TOTM

"In fairness, we've been building 'ground zeros' near Iraqi mosques since March 2003."

--Jason Mustian

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Solidarity: save the Willow Pond Bed and Breakfast

My libertarian friend Peter Jaworski of the Western Standard just brought this story to my attention--perhaps the most direct confirmation of anti-statist libertarian fears that one could imagine. This is a case of malicious meddling by petty Ontario officialdom that beggars belief.

As readers will note, the matter touches Peter directly. For the crime of having a conference at his parents' place in the country--one that has taken place annually without incident for nearly a decade--the latter are now facing possible mega-fines in the vicinity of $50K. Never mind that this was a get-together that would be of scant interest to most of us on the left: charging the Jaworskis for allowing it to take place is an obvious infringement of the Charter right to assemble, and a fight-back is essential. Give the family a hand:

The Jaworskis are expected to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice at 605 Rossland Road East in Whitby, Ontario on the 28th of September at 2 p.m in courtroom #103. They are working on setting up a blog (www.willowpondbb.wordpress.com) to draw attention to their plight, and have put together a legal defence fund to help pay for their legal fees.

There are some issues that require solidarity across the usual political crevasses. This is one. Make a contribution, give shout-outs where you can, and send polite emails to Clarington Mayor Jim Abernethy and to the Jaworski's councillor, Gord Robinson Charlie Trim.

Stephen Harper's war on knowledge

Andrew Coyne outdoes himself in Maclean's today.

I am put in mind of the following account, which, although highly dubious historically,
coming as it does from a hostile commentator, is instructive if only because it illustrates a certain familiar mindset:

[W]hen a Christian called John informed the local Arab general that there existed in Alexandria a great Library preserving all the knowledge in the world he was perturbed. Eventually he sent word to Mecca where Caliph Omar ordered that all the books in the library should be destroyed because, as he said "they will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous." Therefore, the books and scrolls were taken out of the library and distributed as fuel to the many bathhouses of the city. So enormous was the volume of literature that it took six months for it all to be burnt to ashes heating the saunas of the conquerors.

We aren't there yet, and the folks at the National Library can breathe easy for now. But it's easy to imagine some eminence grise (Guy Giorno?) advising King Stephen I, "Anything contradicting Conservative Party doctrine is heresy; anything consistent with it but not issued by the PMO is superfluous." In fact, isn't that happening as we speak?

[H/t Vanity Press]

Compassionate conservatives [updated]

A commenter at Jay Currie's place has the final solution to the Tamil refugee problem.

UPDATE: (August 17) The Toronto Sun supports the slaughter option: "Lock and load would be our approach." [H/t reader Kev.]

Why does Harper hate our troops?

Another blow struck against our veterans.

The Conservatives' program of euthanasia continues. They don't seem to grasp the point: what good are watchdogs if you insist on putting them down when they bark?

[H/t Cathie From Canada.]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just the facts.

This is a follow-up to No dogs? Then leash your child, please.

In order to change the designation of a park, with regard to allowing dogs within or not, at least 25 householders within a certain distance of the municipal recreation facilities must present a petition to the City of Ottawa councillor for that area and the By-laws and Regulations Services staff.

The information received is confidential and staff will not release the names nor the addresses of the individuals who signed the petition.

A notice was posted at Sandy Hill park with regard to the request to a change of designation, to ban dogs.

This change was not initiated by City employees. Whatever your personal feelings are regarding the petition presented, whether you support it or oppose it, please do not direct anger towards the staff who are ensuring that the process is handled in accordance with regulations.

Emails and faxes are effective ways of indicating your view and reasons; be succinct, coherent and respectful please. Again, there's no purpose served by being abusive.

Here again is the information; if you put dogs/Sandy Hill park in the subject line, that is helpful and efficient.

Christine Hartig, By-laws and Regulations Services, City of Ottawa, K2G 5K7. Please email or fax your comments to her before September 3, 2010: christine.hartig@ottawa.ca, fax 613.580.2179

More information about City of Ottawa regulations regarding animals.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ideological seepage at CTV

A neo-Nazi joins the talking heads on Conservative Television News, with the familiar message: "None is too many."

[H/t Big City Lib]

UPDATE: (August 16) Anti-Racist Canada directs us to a solid article in the National Post by the unblinkered Joseph Brean, and gives us a little backstory on "free speech activist" Paul Fromm.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Deadly Threat of So-Called "Moderate" Muslims

A favourite complaint of Muslim-baiters is the argument that moderate Muslims are not sufficiently outspoken in their criticism of radical Islam. Since most of them confine their reading to their own tiny daisy-chain of like-minded blogs, and limit their interaction with Muslims to screaming at them at demonstrations, I've always wondered just what sort of gesture they were demanding.

Not, apparently, this one.

No dogs? Then leash your child, please.

It has come to my attention that a long-standing usage of a section of Sandy Hill park in Ottawa (behind the community centre) could be terminated because petty and intolerant individuals want dogs banned from that area. They (whoever they are) have applied for a regulation change.

It would be just as petty and intolerant of me to speculate that those who initiated this application process are irresponsible parents who take their children to public recreational facilities and expect city employees to watch out for them.

You know the type. On planes, they let their child kick the back of your seat until you stand up and ask him (or her) to please stop, at which point the parents will glare at you for curbing their little darling's freedom. They take their children into washrooms or change rooms and let them run about bothering everybody. In restaurants, they don't use the opportunity to educate their children about courtesy and good manners, assuming other customers won't pay attention to their kids' whining, banging or screaming since they've become inured to such behaviour.

The playground and wading pool (summer use) area of Sandy Hill park is clearly delineated and it excludes dogs, for hygienic and safety reasons. In the other section, canine companions with their people are allowed off-leash within the perimeter. When soccer and other games are scheduled, the players' need for the field is usually respected.

There are very few such areas available in the neighbourhood, for dogs and their people to socialize. For those without vehicles (dogs are not allowed on public transportation) Sandy Hill park is well frequented meeting spot. There are many dogs who live nearby; their people are highly responsible in scooping up after them on the streets and in the parks where dogs can enter.

I have no vindication to score and no benefits to lose as my child no longer finds playground equipment exciting nor do we share our lives with a canine buddy - but I do enjoy the practical beauty of that park when invited to walk there with friends and their doggie companions.

I strongly object to a regulation that would exclude dogs from Sandy Hill park, and if you also find such change regressive, please express your opposition to:
Christine Hartig, By-laws and Regulations Services, City of Ottawa, K2G 5K7. Please email or fax your comments to her before September 2, 2010: christine.hartig@ottawa.ca, fax 613.580.2179

The Mayor was an anti-Semite

Today I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress: no official recognition for Charlotte Whitton, please.

Whitton was best known as the eccentric Mayor of Ottawa in days of yore, who once brought a cap-gun to a Council meeting and fired it off at councillors. She was also lightening-fast with a well-placed quip. At a gathering of mayors all wearing their ceremonial chains of office, the Lord Mayor of London noticed that she was wearing a rose on her chest. "If I smell your rose, will you blush?" he asked her. "If I pull your chain, will you flush?" she responded.

It was only when I read None is Too Many that I discovered a darker side to this woman, which Farber has rightly noted. Whitton played an instrumental role in barring Jewish refugees--children, in fact--from Canada when they were fleeing the Nazi gas chambers.

B'nai Brith, playing the contrarian, disagrees with Farber--a little to my surprise, I must say, since they are well-known these days for finding "anti-Semitism" under every bed. Says Ruth Klein, of BB's League of Human Rights, "the very fact that she had these prejudices is something that has to be remembered. It has to be noted, and it has to be commented on."

Something to be remembered, certainly--but surely not to be commemorated.

I'd call for a little consistency here. A once-respected and decorated aboriginal leader, David Ahenakew, lost his honour, his reputation and the Order of Canada because of a few poisonous words uttered when he didn't know a microphone was on. But nothing he ever did or said led directly to the deaths of the people he disliked.

Whitton's biographer Patricia Rooke refers to her virulent anti-Semitism as a "foible." That seems rather the wrong word to describe a hatred running so deep that Jewish children died because of it. She has her place in history: let's leave her there and move on.

Small dead animal

I but take note of this Saskatchewan news story, and mean nothing by it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail...nor the IDF

Good on you, CUPW.

They dare call it treason

Treason, n. 1. a crime that undermines the offender's government. 2. subversiveness, traitorousness (disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior). 3. treachery, betrayal, perfidy (an act of deliberate betrayal).

To be accused of treason is no laughing matter. Nor should it be the stuff of cheap polemics. But the t-word has now entered the yokel lexicon: a new riff on the old demonization game.

Consider my frequent commenter Roger Smith of Burnaby, BC, who socks here as "Peter O'Donnell," "Jolly Old Saint Knickerless," and even "Yokel with Pitchfork 427903." In response to those of us concerned that fellow-citizen Omar Khadr is facing a squad of kangaroos in Gitmo after our own government successfully fought to deny him his Charter rights, this individual had the following to say:

In the moral sphere, you seek complicity with the recent murders of American aid workers under the spurious (if outrageous) charge of spreading Christianity, when you sign up to support Omar Khadr. I think such public declarations of support for Al Qaeda and the Taliban amount to treason, given that we are engaged in a war against them. It's really only because the war is contained and not likely to be lost on our soil that these normal laws do not apply, or shall I say, are not being applied. But the government of Canada would be quite within its legal rights to arrest the lot of you for treason.

Then there's Maria Nunes, aka Dodo, who at this point truly sets the blogospheric benchmark for thick. Refusal to watch an anti-Islamic video at her place and then tell everybody you know about it, she says, "is treasonous....at least in my books." (Dodo has books? Who knew?)

One doesn't have to be a flag-waving patriot to take offence at this drivel. But it's not just a matter of being offended: as citizens, we cannot allow this sort of thing to stand. Those old enough to remember Joe McCarthy wrapping his pudgy body in the American flag will know what I mean: all sorts of organizations like AWARE sprang up; citizens were set upon by others in a rising crescendo of hysteria possibly satirized by The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers ("Search the house for pods"). People lost their businesses and careers, were denounced, shunned and ruined. A mere accusation was enough.

It's no surprise that elements on the Right are now trying to rehabilitate McCarthy. Witch-hunting is fine sport, just so long as you don't run the danger of being hunted yourself. It's classic power-tripping, and it isn't a video-game: real people get hurt in this exercise of sado-politics, and we can't let it happen again. Being falsely accused of treason is obviously defamatory, and there are civil remedies, but this may not be sufficient to thwart a growing political lynch mob.

Thus far, even the Harper government has managed to avoid an overly-casual use of the t-word. But as the PM continues to primp his base, there is no guarantee that this sort of thing won't find its way into Tory talking-points, especially if the practice spreads. We need to nip this in the bud, pronto, or it's back to the future: "I am not now, and have never been, a member or supporter of al-Qaeda."

Decent citizens of this country, proud Canadians all, should rightly ask: Who is subverting the rule of law by proposing to abolish the presumption of innocence and establish guilt without trial based upon religion and/or race? Who is truly guilty of undermining Canadian values and institutions by so doing? Who, in short, are the real traitors among us? And what are we going to do about it?

Under the niqab

The recent controversy about niqabi allegedly being permitted to board aircraft without showing ID was, of course, invented or at least inflated by Tories eager to stimulate their pitchfork-wielding base. Here is one representative offering from the Winnipeg Sun--the unthinking, reactive mental junk food upon which that base thrives. And here's another, from the ever-risible David Harris.

It seems to me, however, that much of the anger expressed across the land has arisen because the women in question are (supposedly) being given a pass when the rest of us have to suffer through the boarding process: compelled to semi-strip, being felt up by CATSA guards, having newer and ever-dumber demands made of us. On my last trip, I dutifully put my laptop in a separate bin, removed its protective sleeve and placed the computer on top of it. "No!" barked a CATSA minion. "The computer has to be separated from the cover! They can't be in contact!"

You know, that sort of thing.

Words like "arbitrary" and "capricious" don't even get close to the truth of today's airport experience. So anyone who has submitted to these ritual humiliations merely in order to get from point A to point B is likely to displace his or her frustration in an instant if it appears that someone else is getting a break.

If this is the case, I think we're looking at the matter in the wrong way. The question here is:
why do any of us have to show ID when boarding a plane?

As indicated in the benighted articles referenced above, most people simply assume that "security" is involved. But hold on a minute. If your person, your cabin baggage and your luggage have already been found to be entirely free of weapons and explosives (not to mention toothpaste and shampoo in too-large amounts, or nail-scissors), why is my security on the flight enhanced by knowing that the woman sitting next to me is really Aisha and not her sister Mayyadah (or Nancy, for that matter)?

Unless the police are tracking a fugitive (who, if managing to board, would have nothing in his or her possession that could pose a threat in any case), what is the purpose of all this ID-checking--when you get your boarding pass, and then again when you've passed through security? If I'm missing something obvious, and I may well be, perhaps this can be cleared up in the comments. A necessary evil? Or just more security theatre?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yokels with pitchforks (2)

One particularly obnoxious commenter at Jay Currie's redoubt has accused me of using code in a recent post of mine: "yokels with pitchforks," he avers, means "Westerners."

Not so.

One counter-example? Lowell Green and his dittoheads, right here in Ottawa. An even better counter-example? Toronto, the centre of the universe, Toronto the sophisticated, Toronto the liberal, appears set to elect arch-yokel Rob Ford as its next mayor.

The Right may find itself in a bit of a bind over this one. How can it continue to slag Toronto when the place will likely soon be run by a mouth-breather like Ford? The man is everything the pitchfork crowd loves--sufficiently nyekulturny, in fact, to satisfy the most discerning bumpkin.

I, bigoted against Westerners? Utter nonsense. Tommy Douglas was a Westerner, as were the working-class heroes of the Winnipeg General Strike. The On to Ottawa Trek was a western protest movement. The CCF got its start out there. All the Western provinces but Alberta have had NDP governments. So this false grievance-mongering by the commenter--about whom I shall have more to say anon--is fairly wide of the mark.

But anti-intellectual, boorish knuckle-draggers? That's a different story. They do not, however, form a "community" by themselves. They are ubiquitous and toxic. Every place and time has had 'em, unfortunately: heretic-hunters, illiterates, idiot-proud know-nothings, flat-earthers, xenophobes, homophobes, anybody-o-phobes. The duty of all citizens is to rise up and counter
this tide of brutishness with firmness and vision: to be intolerant, in a word, of intolerance.

This is not, by the way, another call to arms in the so-called "culture wars." As is the case with a battle of wits, a culture war is not a war at all when one side is virtually unarmed. Instead, it is a call for reason and good judgement. And in this post, gentle Westerners, I am talking to the good people of Toronto--even if some of you, for whatever reason, "think this post's about you."

Conservative College: August 12 Lecture Schedule

Anthropology 204: Professor Wendy "Buy Me Meds and a Computer Instead of Wasting Money on Haiti" Sullivan explains that "in cave man days", it was the women that used to hunt because women excel at "killing for flesh", and therefore shouldn't be working.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Anne - OR IMAN?? The Islamonazification of PEI !!

In a transparent effort to brandish the mailed fist of Islam in the face of God-fearing Christian Canadians, radical Islamists are now threatening to build a Mega Mosque in the very heart of Canadian confederation - Charlottetown, PEI, a mere jet flight away from Ground Zero in Manhattan.