Showing posts from July, 2008

Afghan air war grows in intensity

The NATO force is called ISAF the International Security Assistance Force. However their priority is security for their own forces not Afghans as the article puts it:
But U.S. and allied troops in trouble take precedence
Karzai has complained constantly about civilian casualties caused by these airstrikes. The response of the U.S. and NATO has been to increase the number of airstrikes rather than reduce them.
Last fall, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, responding to the rising civilian death toll from airstrikes, publicly demanded that the United States find an alternative. But airstrikes only increased.
The increasing civilian deaths will recruit more to the Taliban ranks. This will increase the number of attacks. In response the U.S. and others will increase troop levels and increase the level of casualties and violence. Welcome to the New American Century.,0,6638715.story
Afghan air war grows in intensity
Fears of civilian c…

Clement: Massive dysfunctionality led to isotope crisis.

Dysfunctionality is actually a euphemism for incompetence. No mention of MDS Nordion or its suit against AECL for deciding not to go ahead with the Maple reactors. No mention of the contract between Nordion and the AECL either. AECL's incompetence and shutting down of reactors will cost the taxpayer millions. Instead of cleaning house and hiring competent people the government will probably try to privatise AECL but with the mess AECL is in and its existing contractual obligations no private company will probably buy it even at fire sale prices. The government will probably invest more money to make it saleable and then when it looks profitable will sell it off at firesale prices so that the private sector not the taxpayer will profit from the further investment.

'Massive dysfunctionality' led to isotope crisis: Clement
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 8:47 AM ET CBC News
A "massive dysfunctionality" of communication between parties contributed to the shortage o…

MacKay confirms 200 new troops for Afghanistan.

Nice touch that MacKay ties these further commitments to the Manley report thus linking the Liberals with the Conservatives and the Afghan mission. While our national infrastructure of bridges, roads, etc. crumbles we spend our money on adventures in tandem with the U.S. imperialists in overthrowing existing regimes and trying to build regimes more friendly to U.S. imperialism.

MacKay confirms 200 new troops for Afghanistan
Updated Mon. Jul. 28 2008 11:46 AM ET News Staff
An increase to Canada's troop commitment in Afghanistan to 2,700 would represent the additional boots on the ground needed to run aerial drones and six Chinook helicopters, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson was in Afghanistan on the weekend for his first visit since taking on the portfolio.
While there, he said Canada may boost its numbers in the south by 200 "as more equipment arrives," appearing to link the troops to a new squadron of helicopters and unmanned …

Dion Coy about Fall election

This is from CTV.
Dion has to be coy. He won't call an election until the polls are good for the Liberals and bad for the Conservatives. If this ever happens he claims Canadians want an election. If the polls are bad for Liberals he will claim Canadians do not want an election now. In between times Liberals refuse to defeat the Conservatives and sit on their hands so often they may harm the blood circulation in their hands.

Dion remains coy about fall election call News Staff Updated: Sun. Jul. 27 2008 8:27 PM ET
After triggering speculation this past week that the Liberals may be ready for a fall election, party leader Stephane Dion remains coy about when or if his party would try to topple the Conservative government.
"An election will come between now and October 2009," he said on CTV's Question Period on Sunday.
"(Calling an election) is a decision that belongs to me, that's true ... I will choose a good moment."
Last week, Dion fueled talk of…

Feds deny Air Canada exemption from labour rules

If the existing contract already had rules that required the setting up of committees with workers to settle these matters why was Air Canada trying to get an exemption anyway! Air Canada seems bound and determined to alienate both it employees and its customers. No wonder Westjet is doing better than Air Canada these days.

Feds deny Air Canada exemption from labour rules
Last Updated: Friday, July 25, 2008 5:07 PM ET
CBC News
Ottawa has denied Air Canada's request for an exemption from federal labour law, a move which could make the implementation of planned 2,000 job cuts more difficult.
Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said no Friday to Air Canada's application to obtain a holiday from some labour rules concerning the creation of layoff committees.
"After carefully examining the application, I have decided that there are insufficient grounds to grant a waiver to Air Canada," Blackburn said in a statement.
That means the Montreal-based air carrier will be forced to …

Emerson says 200 more Canadians may go to Afghanistan

This is from
"that troubled country"= that occupied country, occupied by us together with the other junior partners NATO and the UN all coming to the rescue of U.S. imperialism to advance the cause of the New American Century. Bush, Obama, Canadian Liberals and Conservatives all united in this noble cause of rescuing the so-called failed state. The Taliban failed state by the way was able to mostly solve the opium problem and was rewarded with a check for several million dollars by Colin Powell. Of course that was before the Taliban became the bad guys. It is difficult to keep these bad guys and good guys straight. The Taliban types were great guys when they were blowing up Soviet convoys and creating widows in the USSR but now they are creating widows in Canada, the UK, US, etc. they are terrorists. Sunday » July 27 » 2008
It sounds as if in return for the helicopters we agreed to send more cannon fodder as well. Don't expect the Liberals to say too much about…

Winnipeg Sun's Joseph Quesnel claims no evidence Khadr will not face a fair trial.

Joseph Quesnel writing in the Winnipeg Sun has this to say about Khadr's trial in Guantanamo:

Khadr is going to trial before a military court in October and no one has presented credible evidence that he will not face a fair trial there.

But there is lots of credible evidence that he will not face a fair trial there but Quesnel chooses to ignore it. Some of the evidence is presented by people directly involved in the trials on the prosecution side.

They have been condemned by one of their own military defense lawyers (Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler) as rigged, ridiculous, unjust, farcical, a sham, and a lawless process. Another, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, explained to Vanity Fair last March, “The whole purpose of setting up Guantánamo Bay is for torture. Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question people coercively — what some people call torture. Guantánamo and the military commissio…

Forces promote chief of tarnished mission

This is from
So General Hillier intervened to get this chap promoted or at least considered again for promotion even though from the Somali inquiry it seems that he was not up to snuff. It seems that some of the intelligence officers who screwed up in the Arar case also were promoted. But Labbe has played a key role in Afghanistan so he should be rewarded on the basis of his contribution to our mission to help U.S. imperialism.

Friday » July 25 » 2008

Forces promote chief of tarnished mission
Quietly minted general commanded paratroopers who tortured Somali teen to death

David Pugliese
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, July 25, 2008
Canada's military leadership has quietly promoted to general the soldier who led the ill-fated Somalia mission and who was subsequently found by a government inquiry to have failed in his duty as a commander.
The military has not publicized the July 2 promotion of Col. Serge Labbé to the rank of brigadier general. But sources contacted the Citizen abo…


This is a snippet from the CBC.
Actually dandelions are not native to North America but were brought here as a food source. They actually taste good but in Japan they make coffee out of the dried roots. Dandelions also make a good wine. I can still remember tasting a very nice dandelion wine made by Hungarian immigrants when I lived in Toronto decades ago............Maybe an enterprising Manitoba farmer can sell dandelion roots to Japan as coming from the land of Margaret Laurence since she is also popular in Japan.

And this brings me back to dandelions, and a farmer named Raymond Loo.

Loo is selling the flower's roots on the back of Anne of Green Gables (CBC)
Loo has been making connections in Japan over the last few years, working to tie together two of P.E.I.'s most successful industries: agriculture and Anne of Green Gables. He believes he may have hit on a winner with dandelions.
Loo has a contract with a Japanese company to provide about 1,400 kg of dried dandelion root…

Steelworkers vote to strike if necessary against Potash Corp of Saskatchewan

This is from the Canadian Dimension blog.

The vote in favor of strike action was overwhelming. No doubt it is because the Corp. has been raking in the money lately and the workers want a share of the spoils. Given that the corporation intends to expand production they may be willing to strike a deal with the union.

Steelworkers vote to strike if necessary against Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
Canadian Dimension, July 22nd, 2008
SASKATOON, July 22 /CNW/ - Members of the United Steelworkers’ Locals 7458, 189 and 7689 have voted over 96 per cent in favour of taking strike action against Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) if no progress is made towards a new collective agreement.The Monday vote is a rejection of a company offer that does not address key issues, including control over contracting out, pensions, wages, vacation and bonus.The three locals, representing 500 workers at three mine sites, are working in coordination to achieve a fair settlement during a period of skyrocke…

Dion sensing mood for an election!

So lets see Dion is applauding links between U.S. and Canadian policy. No doubt he will also go along with increased U.S. activity in Afghanistan. Maybe he will even suggest we should send more troops to finish up the job in time! I thought that it was Harper that was so enamoured of U.S. policies. No doubt Dion thinks that with Obama or even McCain there will be real change away from Bush policies. Perhaps there will be some minor change in environmental policy but most of the change will be in appearances rather than substance. The same will be the case if Dion manages to win an election rather than Harper. The difference might be that if Dion is in a minority Harper will probably not order his troops to sit on their hands and let legislation they oppose pass.
There is no poll evidence presented that Canadians are in the mood for an election. Perhaps it is polling that suggests Conservatives are going nowhere that induces a mood for an election this fall or perhaps he thinks th…

Mideast Sees more of the Same if Obama is Elected.

This is from the NY Times.
Although the media strives mightily for product differentiation of the McCain and Obama brands with respect to many policies there are only marginal if any differences between the Obama and McCain. Of course these are already framed as the only choices by the media although there may be a patronising hello once in a while to other candidates.
Both candidates in an attempt to get Jewish votes and the support of the Israel lobby declare their undying support for Israel. As many Palestinians point out there is no hope of the U.S. being an unbiased broker for peace, but then there never has been so what you have is more of the same as the article claims.

July 22, 2008
Mideast Sees More of the Same if Obama Is Elected
AMMAN, Jordan — For what feels like forever, Israelis and their Arab neighbors have been hopelessly deadlocked on how to resolve the Palestinian crisis. But there is one point they may now agree on: If elected presi…

Only the weak and discredited commit war crimes.

While certainly these trials will provide some solace to the Karadzic'svictims the whole trial process occurs only because of the fact that the perpetrators are on the losing side of a conflict and no longer have sufficient power to resist being tried. As with all trials of war crimes the victors are never tried for their war crimes. Churchill was never tried for the fire-bombing of Nuremberg, Truman for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nor NATO for war crimes in the bombing of Serbia even though a number of charges were brought forth. See this article. At the time the British defence minister pointed out that it was NATO members who provided funds for the court that was trying Milosevic and others. Of course the U.S. does not support an International Court of Justice only courts that do not try any U.S. soldiers! NATO not only bombed many crucial parts of Serbia's infrastructure such as power plants and water treatment plants it also bombed media outlets killing j…

Harper is not bound.

Certainly Harper is not bound by the former Liberal policy. That policy was obviously wrong and certainly did not comment a Conservative government to follow the same path. Indeed, the Liberals now have changed, having realised the error of their ways, and perhaps because they are now in opposition!
This article does not notice the strangeness of the charges given that the U.S. forces were attacking the compound where Khadr with other jihadists were located. Combatants in a war are not usually charged with murder for defending themselves when attacked! Murder charges are possible only because of the Orwellian concept of unlawful enemy combatant! Such combatants do not apparently have any rights that ordinary soldiers would have in this situation either to be protected by the Geneva conventions or to defend themselves.
The article also neglects to mention that recently evidence has come to light that the grenade involved was a U.S. grenade and hence the death of the U.S. soldier m…

GM, utility companies study electric car impact.

Increased electricity use might be a problem. It would be nice if these articles would give one an idea what the cost per kilometre would be for electric cars versus conventional vehicles. If there is a mass switch to electric cars there could be problems caused by increase power usage in some places. By the way while GM is working on the volt they are also going in the opposite direction in announcing a new Camaro to be produced in Canada. How long before the Camaro plant will close? There is already a low speed fully electric car produced in Quebec the Zenn that is approved by Transport Canada finally. It had already been sold in most U.S. states.

GM, utility companies study electric car impact
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 10:46 AM ET Comments6Recommend2
The Associated Press
The Chevy Volt, when fully charged, will be able to travel 64 kilometres on battery power. (Bruce Reeve/CBC)
General Motors Corp. has joined with more than 30 utility companies across the U.S. to help work…

Natynczyk says Afghanistan situation is worsening

At least Natynczyk is willing to modify his line somewhat in light of obvious facts. However he neglects to notice that there have also been security problems lately in the west of Afghanistan far from the Pakistan border. Natyncyzyk is toeing the U.S. line however that more troops are what is most necessary even though many experts claim that this will not help. One thing is sure and that is that there will be more casualties then. The attempts to reduce troop casualties by air support is probably counterproductive in that it results in bombing of innocent civilians which in a tribal society creates whole family groups eager to wreak revenge on the occupiers. The argument for more troops is presented well enough by Natycyzyk but it is doubtful that there will ever be enough troops to pacify the whole country. Before that happens Karzai or whoever is in power will probably broker a deal with insurgents or at least many of them with or without allied blessings. Or maybe the U.S. can pu…

Why Aghanistan is not the Good War

This is from Counterpunch. Although this is written for an American audience it is relevant to Canadians given our mission. Certainly the Taliban is the main opposition but as this article notes there are other groups involved in the insurgency. The article neglects to mention Al Qaeda foreign fighters. The mainstream media sometimes seems to identify the Taliban with Al Qaeda. They certainly are not the same even though the Taliban did have Bin Laden as a guest when they ruled Afghanistan. The article is particularly relevant now since Obama has made a point of saying that he will send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
I think the article is definitely wrong in claiming that the Taliban would not have much power if there were no foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban came to power in the first place not because of the presence of foreign troops but because of the wretched rule of warlords. The populace was willing to accept the harsh Taliban rule in return for a degree of secur…

Blackwater and Sharia law!

This is from killfile. There is more than a little irony in a firm headed by a devout fundamentalist Christian Eric Prinz defending itself by reference to Sharia law. This is the same Blackwater that got into trouble because its agents shot civilians in Iraq. They also have an air division that includes Presidential Airlines that has been involved in rendition flights.
To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting…

Air strike kills Afghan police, civilians.

This story is also covered in the Globe and Mail.
Air strikes that kill civilians are quite common. Karzai has been complaining for ages but the policy does not change. It does not change because it is NATO casualties that are important not Afghan casualties. Significant casualties suffered by NATO could very well turn public opinion even more against the Afghan war than it already is especially in places other than the U.S. Even in the U.S. a large increase in casualties could cause PR problems for those selling the Afghan war. Both Obama and McCain are for increased U.S. troops so both want to make sure this is not accompanied by too many casualties. Neither Afghan nor Iraqi casualties are even counted.
Note that the first case in which Afghan police are attacked arises from forces not even informing the Afghan side what they are doing! One main force is called ISAF the International Security Assistance Force. So they assist by not letting the Afghans know what they are do…

Experts: Less Crime could hurt "law and order" Tories at the polls.

Has anyone made a study to see if there is any correlation between level of crime and fear of crime? It strikes me as quite possible that the level of crime could actually decline to a degree while the level of fear might actually increase. The media often concentrates for some time on any sensational grisly crimes and this may cause people to fear crime though the rates may be declining. Large cities like Toronto or Vancouver regularly report sensational violent crimes but Regina with a higher crime rate hardly ever makes the national news. I would expect that most people associate Toronto and Vancouver with violent crime rather than Regina! See this article.
Harper claims that emotion (created by media and Conservative fear mongers) is a more reliable barometer than statistics. Translated this means that what is more important is the poll statistics that show that fear mongering about crime gets votes and not the statistics about crime rates. When the statistics about crime rates suc…