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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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7/16/2005

Suicides in waves

At least 58 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in the town of Musayyib, some 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad.

Police told the BBC the bomber blew himself up near a mosque. The blast caused a nearby fuel tanker to explode.

At least another 80 people are said to have been injured.

The blast, the worst single attack in over two months, follows a week of violence in which 100 were killed in 16 suicide attacks in Baghdad.

On Friday alone, 10 suicide bombers blew themselves up in a wave of attacks across the city.

In a statement posted on the internet afterwards, the militant group al-Qaeda in Iraq said their leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had urged them to intensify their attacks.
bbc
al-Zarqawi is following through on his strategy of blowing up Shi'ites as well as innocent by-standers. Which will what? Well, my bet is that it will stiffen the resistence of the Iraqi government, bring the Shia militias out and make the position of the Sunnis in Iraq very uncomfortable. Which it has to be until they give up the al-Qaeda who are sheltering among them.

The Iraqis have been anticipating an upsurge in the violence. What I am hoping is that the assorted border operations of the past few weeks have shortened the reserves of the suicide bombers - almost all of whom are coming from outside Iraq. But it is likely to be an explosion filled couple of weeks.

As the operational tempo increases on the al-Qaeda side there needs to be an even more determined effort on the Iraqi and American sides to close down the cells and to close the borders.

Has anyone told Lloyd?

Canadian troops will take a more active role hunting down the "detestable murderers and scumbags" of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in southern Afghanistan next year, Canada's top military officer said in comments published on Friday.

Canada is boosting its presence in Afghanistan and by next February there will be 1,500 soldiers in the southern city of Kandahar. General Rick Hillier, chief of the defense staff, said the troops would track down members of the former ruling Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"We're actually going there to take down the folks who are trying to still blow up men and woman in Afghanistan and still provide a base for an organisation like al-Qaeda," newspapers quoted Hillier as saying.....

Hillier also confirmed that Canada's top secret Joint Task Force Two commando force would be taking part in operations in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"These are detestable murderers and scumbags, I'll tell you that right up front. They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties," he said.
reuters
Some of the folks in the rightish end of the Canadian blogosphere are taking some relish in General Hillier's remarks. And some suspect he will not be the Commnader of the Canadian Forces very long if he keeps talking like this.

I suspect this is a well calculated move on the part of the Liberals - on the one hand they will have Bill Graham spouting the soft power, Axworthian line, on the other - complete with deniability if anything goes wrong - they'll have "Give'em Hell, Hillier." for those of us who think the Taliban and al-Qaeda are, well, bad.

Never underestimate just how clever the Liberals can be when they are running scared.

7/15/2005

Fighting the Enemy Within

In the House of Commons last Wednesday, I was conscious of taking a gamble by calling on Tony Blair, the British prime minister, to help Muslims deal with the issue of extremists within our midst. Some would no doubt say that, in doing so, we are accepting some degree of culpability for the evil we have spawned.

And yes, I did fear a backlash from irate Muslims – but, in reality, I have been inundated with messages of support from all over the country, including from West Yorkshire where the suspected bombers lived. The Muslim community now realises it must unite in taking an unequivocal stance: we must confront as well as condemn.
Shahid Malik, MP, financial times
The support Malik has received strongly suggests what many people outside Muslim communities have believed for some time: given the support of serious anti-incitement laws and the deportation of the preachers of hate, the overwhelmingly moderate Muslim community would feel empowered (ugly word) to clean its own house.

7/14/2005

Is this anything like the Gun Registry?

A very funny bit of Gilbert and Sullivan agitprop via Andrew Sullivan.

OBL's down in the polls

Osama bin Laden's standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has "declined dramatically," according to a new survey released today.

In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries also shared to "a considerable degree" Western nations' concerns about Islamic extremism, the survey found. Many in those Muslim nations see it as threat to their own country, the poll found.

"Most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries, and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam," concluded the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Compared with previous surveys, the new poll also found growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims surveyed now say democracy can work in their countries and is not just a political system for the West. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco; in Pakistan and Turkey, where significant numbers of respondents were unsure, it rated 43 percent and 48 percent respectively.
washington post
This is encouraging and, if it represents a trend, will more than justify the Iraqi adventure. Getting rid of Saddam was a great reason to go into Iraq; but the full program was the creation of change in the Middle East and the creation of hope for Muslims throughout the world.

The bad news for bin Laden is that this seems to be working. Better in some countries than others; but that is to be expected. Had the West done nothing these numbers would have kept OBL and his cult at the top of the charts in a Middle East entirely without hope.

7/13/2005

Torture?

Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forced a stubborn detainee to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
washington post
Call me a nasty piece of work if you want but I am pretty convinced that sticking a bra on a guy's head was not in the Gestapo's bag of tricks. Nor, frankly, is it something I can get too worked up about. Of course I also could not get too terribly concerned about the guy in the hood with the wires attached to his hands at Abu Ghraib.
Qahtani, according to the investigative report, was once attached to a leash and made to walk around the room and "perform a series of dog tricks." The report also notes the use of "gender coercion," in which women straddle a detainee or get too close to them, violating prohibitions for devout Muslim men on contact with women. Interrogators also threatened to tell other detainees that an individual is gay, according to the report. Detainees at Abu Ghraib were posed in mock homosexual positions and photographed.
washington post
So what? This is not torture, this is the use of a cultural difference to obtain information. Is that so terribly wrong?

Can anyone honestly say that this is worse than this.

You can't say that!

Urgent action to exclude and deport religious extremists from abroad who are radicalising British-born Muslims was announced by Tony Blair yesterday.

The Prime Minister called on Muslim leaders to join him in a world-wide drive to counter the "perverted and evil" ideology behind the London bombings.

The four Muslim MPs who met Tony Blair at Downing Street

He appealed for calm following the disclosure that four of the suicide bombers were born and brought up in Britain.

Mr Blair told MPs he would bring forward talks with the other political parties on new powers for the police and security services to combat the incitement and instigation of terrorist attacks.
telegraph
This is, rather obviously, closing the door after the horse has bolted. However, it is a start. (I wonder what Tony proposes to do with his lovely wife - who is quoted as saying she quite understood the motivations of suicide bombers in the Middle East...but, no matter.) The point is that Blair has finally recognized that you cannot have a bunch of self styled "clerics" preaching hate and conspiracy every Friday without there being consequences.

Regular readers will know that I deeply believe in free speech up to and including the advocacy of the end of a particular state. But there is a line to be drawn. And that line lies where there is incitement to kill in pursuit of that end. It also lies when anyone, mullah or priest, begins to call non-believers less than human. Both of those lines have been regularily crossed by preachers in mosques in Britain - and in Canada.

It needs to be stopped. The people who are preaching incitement need to be arrested and jailed or, if they are not citizens of England or Canada, arrested, jailed and then sent back to their country of origin.

Just as importantly - buildings in which this vile hatred is being spewed need to be confiscated and razed. The symbol of a vacant lot is critical. The Islamic fundamentalists need to know that we will defend out culture and that we are perfectly prepared to use whatever means are necessary.

PC Madness at the BBC

The substitution of the word "bombers" for the word "terrorists" at the BBC online in realtion to the London homicide bombings has been bouncing around the blogosphere. Here's how it happened:

Within hours of the explosions, a memo was sent to senior editors on the main BBC news programmes from Helen Boaden, head of news. While she was aware "we are dancing on the head of a pin", the BBC was very worried about offending its World Service audience, she said.

BBC output was not to describe the killers of more than 50 in London as "terrorists" although - nonsensically - they could refer to the bombings as "terror attacks". And while the guidelines generously concede that non-BBC should be allowed to use the "t" word, BBC online was not even content with that and excised it from its report of Tony Blair's statement to the Commons.

A row has now broken out with a handful of the corporation's most senior journalists and news executives, fighting what one described yesterday as a "disgusting and appalling" edict. He was particularly angry, he added, because most World Service listeners don't even pay a penny for the BBC.
telegraph via Drink-Soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War

Learning from Rathergate

CBS News plans to expand its operations on the Internet to create a 24-hour news operation, potentially one of the most aggressive bets by an established media network on delivering news over the Web.
globe and mail
I suppose having your anchor taken down by the pyjamastani makes you think there might be something to this internet thing.

Update:
Turns out that media blogger and all round smart guy Jeff Jarvis was consulting with CBS from the go. Which means this may not be quite as lame as it first sounded.

7/12/2005

Head Exploding

The European Court of Justice approved the Food Supplements Directive even though the court's own Advocate-General advised that the Directive was invalid under EU law.

The ruling - greeted with surprise - is a defeat for a concerted campaign by more than a million British health food customers and shops. They have argued that the law, which will come into effect on August 1, will impose an unprecedented level of regulation on mineral supplements and could threaten the existence of small suppliers.

The Alliance For Natural Health (ANH), a group backed by the British Health Food Manufacturers’ Association, have contended that it is unfair for health food manufacturers to bear the cost of applying for approval for products they have been selling for many years.
times of london
Ever since I worked as the editor of Common Ground Magazine - a confession I would only make in this circumstance - I have been more than a little wary of the natural foods/healthfoods/food supplement industry. Most of the claims it makes are either unsubstantiated or impossible to substantiate. The pricing is rediculous. And a lot of it simply preys upon the fears people have about their health....But, my libertarian instinct wins on this one.

A good set of product liability laws which would hold the manufacturers liable for any harm taking their products caused should protect the population. And it would not hurt to have a system where private citizens could sue manufacturers of any product for making provably false claims; but beyond that the government really has no business telling a person what he or she may eat or drink.

Babies

The country's total fertility rate – which estimates the number of children that women aged 15 to 49 will have in their lifetime – increased to 1.53 children per woman in 2003, from 1.50 in 2002.
globe and mail
Not a big jump, but at least a move in the right direction. At this point the feds seem to think we need over 300,000 new immigrants a year in Canada just to stay more or less even. The sources for that immigration - leaving aside any cultural issues that level of immigration may create - are becoming less and less obvious as China and India go into hyper development.

One of the positions I believe the poor, benighted, CPC should be taking is a comprehensive policy of working to improve the birthrate within Canada. We can see the effects of a chronically low birthrate in Europe and Japan. It does not take long for a culture to be lost when it does not replace itself.

Once again, Canada can opt for the Euro option and be effectively extinct in three generations or we can try to encourage our citizens to have lots of kids. Creating a kid friendly, family positive (in the non-Focus on the Family sense of that concept) nation could well be a winning plank in a re thought out Tory strategy.

No Women Singing

Iranian Poet and musician Naze Ezizi was called to a security office in Mahabad where she was told, "Woman singing is against the law. The punishment is honour killing". Iranian officials also warned all newspapers not to publish Ezizi's poems in their daily editions.

Ezizi lives in Tehran but at the time of call from the Mahabad security office, she was visiting her parents in Mahabad. When she was in the security office, she was threatened and warned for the songs she sang. Security officers told Ezizi, "We are against the women singing. The punishment for people like you is honour killing or being stoned".

The security office fined her 600,000 Iran Rials (US$67) and told her that if she continues to sing songs the punishment will change to regm (honour killing).

'Women's image and voice belongs to her husband'

Ezizi said, "Art is my life. There is no meaning for me to be alive if my poems and songs are not allowed to exist" and "Even if I have been threatened with being "honour killed", I will not give up my art".
persian journal
Well thank God we have that cleared up.

Root Causes

Around the net in the wake of the London bombings there has been a good deal of "root cause" speculation.

The trial of Mohammad Bouyeri the self-confessed - to the Court and van Gogh's mother who was in Court - killer of Theo van Gogh,

He argued that he did not killl her son, "but I have chopped off his head according to the law that orders me to do so to everyone who offends Allah. I do not not feel your pain as I do not know what it is to suffer the loss of a child"
peaktalk
This is a stone killer who knows exactly what he has done. He was obsessed with death, mutilation and amputations. And all the happy talk of the chattering classes on how these reptiles need to be understood comes to nothing in this psychiatric report:
Experts int the Pieter Baan Center observation clinic got little insight into the mindset of Mohammed B.

He was there for 8 weeks but didn't give the doctors a ghost of a chance. He did not speak to the pychiatrists or the pyschologists. He literally turned his back on them.

On Sunday, the experts completed their evaluation and said that they could not find any mental illness. Therefore he had to be considered totally competent.

In spite of his resistant behavior, the doctors wrote up a report about his stay in the Pieterbaan clinic. PBC pyschologist Dr. Oudjans appeared in front of the court to deliver the report.

Oudejans:" In my 16 years I have never had the experience of someone who said little or nothing. He just put on his headphones and went into his cell—as if I was just air."

One of the most striking things was that Mohammed Bouyeri would give Koran lessons to two people in his ward [This is called da'wa, or missionary work. —ed.] He secluded himself with them against the rules. From that the PBC concluded that he was still busy recruiting for Jihad.

He loaned out books with violent texts in them.
clarity and resolve
My suspicion is that if Bouyeri had not found militant Islam he would have found some other excuse for killing. The root cause is that the man is violently sociopathic and no amount of early intervention or poerty alievation was going to do a damn thing.

Homicide Bombers

Closed-circuit TV video showed that all four had arrived at King's Cross station by 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, about 20 minutes before the blasts began that killed at least 52 people, Clarke said.

In a Scotland Yard news conference, Clarke said police had "strong forensic and other evidence" that the man who carried a bomb onto a subway train that exploded between the Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations had died in the blast, and they were awaiting confirmation from the coroner. Police were trying to determine whether the other three also died in the explosions.
nyt
This is looking like a break and the tracking of the bombers to Leeds is, potentially, very good news. Not only might it solve the crimes; but with luck there will be some intelligence finds.

Interesting that there are reports that the bombers were of Pakistani origin.

More Scenes from the Homeless Front

Ian Welsh left this comment which I am shamelessly promoting to the main page:

And what would I be, your lefty isolationist friend? I opposed the Serbian war, by the way. The only two wars I've approved of in the last couple decades were the Gulf War and the Afghanistan War. Why? Because in both cases they were responses to countries attacking other countries (or in Afghanistan, refusing to turn over someone who was a state guest and had attacked another country.) There are very few occasions which I think justify war other than an attack by one country on another.

And I never liked Clinton (though he looks great compared to the current incumbent) so I feel and felt no compulsion to defend him. Why the hell right wingers think that anyone of the "left" would feel any need to defend a Washington Concensus third way, welfare "reform" president like Clinton has always been beyond me. The man was a very competent technocrat. That's the only good thing there is to be said about him, and it's a fair bit. But it doesn't make him my ideological bedmate.

But then almost no one is my ideological bedmate, because I'm an old fashioned conservative who believes in balanced budgets, conservation, not destroying institutions unless they are clearly harmful, and not interfering in other countries business unless they interfere in ours. I also believe in a strong Canadian military, but since I dare point out the obvious - that the main credible MILITARY threat to us is the US, so-called righties (who seem to think defense means being up the US military's ass as far as possible) don't like what I have to say.

In short, to a large extent, I wish we were the Switzerland of the North (before they started thinking about joining the EU) - stable, well armed, fiscally prudent, wealthy and minding our own damn business.

I thought those were conservative virtues and values. But apparently Conservative values include military intervention in other countries to force our values on them, completely changing venerable institutions like the Senate and the rules of Parliament, telling other citizens how to live their lives, being a satrap to a major foreign country, ignoring scientific evidence of threats to basic prosperity and so on.

I'm not a lefty. I'm a conservative in exile, because the right wing has gone insane and become a bunch of bigotted reactionary imperialists. So I find myself amongst lefties explaining the right to them and explaining the world to them. It's not where someone like me belongs, but since they haven't gone insane with colonial dreams or hatred of people who aren't like them, it's where I'll have to stay.
While I completely disagree with the notion that the right have become "a bunch of bigotted reactionary imperialists" I am very much on board with a vision of a Canada which is fiscally prudent and militarily strong.

Where our difference lies is that I believe there are situations in which military force can be used userfully in nations where there are failed states or states which are either committing genocide or encouraging it. Iraq was anything but a failed state - Saddams regimes was, relative to the Iraqi people, dug in. However, there is no question at all that Saddam was engaging in the slaughter of his population, or rather sections of his population, on a genocidal scale. As with Serbia, I am inclined to think there is a duty to intervene in such situations.

7/11/2005

More good News!

David Ahenakew has been stripped of his membership in the Order of Canada, effective immediately.

Governor General Adrienne Clarkson signed the revocation ordinance on Monday.
cbc
If Ahenakew had really suffered a diabetic lapse a sincere appology would have done the trick...But this was how his actions had to end.

7/10/2005

Must Read

At Canada's own Winds of Change, Dan Darling lays out the state of play in England and the world and offeres some concrete thoughts as to what might be done to reduce the threat. You can read him here and check the comments as well.

If you have time there is an excellent article, complete with the Cabinet Papers, on the origins of the Islamic threat in England at the Times.

A joint Home Office and Foreign Office dossier — Young Muslims and Extremism — prepared for the prime minister last year, said Britain might now be harbouring thousands of Al-Qaeda sympathisers.

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan police chief, revealed separately last night that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people had passed through Osama Bin Laden’s training camps.
times