Sunday, May 30, 2004

We are a middle earth family

Reading the Fellowship of the Ring, my 10 year old son, described the experience as "like looking into a painting." I would have to agree. It is one of the most beautiful stories to ever entertain my imagination. Here are some of my favourite quotes from all three movies:


"I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone."
- Arwen, as she gives Aragorn the Evenstar

"So do all that have lived to see such times. All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that given to you."
- Gandalf to Frodo


"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when too much bad had happened? But in the end it is only a passing thing...this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stay with you... that meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something." "What are we holding on to, Sam?" "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for."
- Samwise Gamgee


"A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day!"
- Aragorn at the black gates

"The end? The Journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path we all must take."
- Gandalf to Pippin

Watching all three stories together was an amazing treat, and I highly recommend it. But now Duncan and I are going for a walk, cause sitting down in front of the TV for almost 12 hours was harder than we thought it would be! Gotta stretch those legs!

Taking a break today

Due to a death in the family I am not publishing a Sunday Morning Coffee News Briefs today, even though there is some excitement abrew in the world today. Check back next week, I won't be lacking then.

We have an exciting day planned for today - Quynn has just arrived and we are watching all three Lord of the Rings movies (extended versions) one after the other. It is certainly something I have always wanted to do - the movies are so beautiful and I am very much looking forward to it. I must go now as Quynn brought Second Breakfast with him and everyone is feasting.

Friday, May 28, 2004

My Daddy

Firefighters's Prayer

When I am called to duty God, wherever flames may be
Give me the strength to save some life, whatever age it be
Help me embrace a little child, before its too late
Or save an older person from the horror of that fate
Enable me to be alert, and hear the weakest shout
And quickly and effeciently to put the fire out
I want to fill my calling, and to give the best in me
To guard my every neighbor, and protect their property
And if according to your will, I should lose my life
Please bless with your protective hand
My children and my wife.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Why the Flames will win the Stanley Cup

"You know, I don't know, I just know that I'm thankful to be in the NHL. This is something I have dreamed about since I was seven years old. This is the time of my life. It really is."
- Flames Captain Jarome Iginla

The whole team believes. They play with heart. They inspire each other. They feel that it is an honor and a privilege to play for Hockey's most sacred trophy. They skate hard, play and celebrate together, refuse to give up and they have fun doing it.

They are bringing home the cup because they deserve it.

Go Flames GO!

Happy Birthday Daddy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

When Time Stands Still

There really are no words possible to describe what it is like to hold a parent in your arms until they die, cradling them as they have no doubt cradled you. There is no real way to measure the passing of such a time, no way to weigh the importance of each moment or to reflect how suddenly obvious the real priorities in life become.

And today I noticed the grass beneath my feet, revelled in the sun upon my face, breathed in the sweet smell of spring and tried out my first day as a daughter without a Daddy.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder;
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger;
May you never take one single breath for granted;
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed;
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean;
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens;
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance;
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...

I hope you dance...

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance;
Never settle for the path of least resistance;
Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin';
Lovin'might be a mistake but it's worth makin';
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter;
When you come close to sellin'out, reconsider;
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance;
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...

... Dance...

Lyrics: Lee Ann Womack

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sunday Coffee News Briefs a la Allie

ELECTIONS CANADA: We're off to the races. The "pre-election" spending spree can now become the "election" spending spree, as Prime Minister Paul Martin dropped the Writ today, asking Govenor General Adrienne Clarkson to dissolve parliament and call a June 28th election. Current polls suggest that the Martin government is precariously teetering between majority and minority status, so this could be an interesting election run for Canadians. Hmmm. I think elections in our country are carefully disguised ways to stop Canadians from enjoying our only real periods of anarchy...

The Burning Bush: Top Prize at Cannes. Michael Moore's controversial film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," won the Palme d'Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. The film, which takes a critical look at the Bush administration following the Sept 11 2001 attacks, received a twenty minute long standing ovation after its premiere at the festival. The subject of the movie was to illustrate the corruptive influence of the war on Iraq on americans - and contains previously unseen footage of american soldiers' abuse of Iraqi detainees taken last Christmas Eve. It's bound to encourage some interesting conversation in an election year, that is if, ofcourse, if it is allowed to be distributed in the "land of the free."

Learning from History: Hiding in Shadows. The 72 hour long Israeli troop "rampage" through Rafah last week seems to be drawing to an end while the International Committee of the Red Cross was working to get food, water and medical supplies to 25,000 people. Israeli restrictions on the movement of ambulances have been hindering the evacuation of the wounded. A three year Palestinian girl, Rwan Abu Zaid, was shot in the head just outside of her home Rafah yesterday. Rwan's family was able to bury her, in accordance to Muslim tradition, a few short hours after her death. The bodies of more than 16 Palestinians who died in the beginning of the attacks are still waiting to be buried, the morgue they are in sealed off by Israeli tanks. Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor himself, called for an end to the demolitions, saying "I saw on television an old woman picking through the rubble of her house in Rafah, looking for her medicine, and she reminded me of my grandmother who was expelled from her home during the Holocaust."

Friday, May 21, 2004

Signs of the times...

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, and the like.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, and the like.

Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda i s neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Hat Tip: Dr. Lawrence Britt, Bridgewater State Poli Sci Dept.

Just a random blog post today. No idea where it fits into relevance... Just something I stumbled upon today.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I Believe...

The Wedding Invites are almost ready to send out...

We need to do something about the Gaza Strip. And I mean now.

Self fulfilling prophecy?

I often wonder if the people who live in the Middle East, or adhere to the one of the three "great" western traditions, are purposely working towards bringing down Armageddon.

Israel's defiance of international outcry is mind boggling. They rampage, undeterred, through the Gaza Strip, killing 50+ (and rising) Palestinians in the Rafah refugee camp alone. The UN reports that 2,200 Palestinians have become homeless in Rafah since May 1, and that Rafah is "overflowing with casualties from the massive Israeli raid."

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution yesterday calling Israel to halt demolition immediately of homes in Rafah, and to stop the killing (especially of peaceful protesters and children). The resolution (passed 14-0) was adopted after the americans abstained from the vote, declining to exercise its veto on an Israel-related resolution for the first time since September 2002!

Wow. I'm not sure I ever expected to see that happen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Conference Final Champions!


Being a Hockey parent I know well that my celebrating comes in the face of someone elses pain, disappointment and loss. Thats the way of the world most times. The Sharks played well, they deserve some respect.

My throat is sore from yelling so much! GO FLAMES GO!

Back in the saddle again...


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Are You Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

What's going on in the world today? Craziness, I tell you! Craziness...

Bye Sheila!

Sheila Copps "retired" (those are tears of joy streaming from Bweezy's eyes); Sonia Gandhi refused the position of Prime Minister of India (what would make her do that?); A Rocket Launcher was found hidden near a rail-transit station, FBI insists it wouldn't be able to destroy an aircraft or a train (well, that makes me feel better); A key military witness in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal insists there is "Definitely a Cover-Up" (no, really?); Four people were arrested in connection with the beheading of Nicholas Berg (well, isn't that 5th guy dead?), Iraq buried Izzidine Salim (Peace be upon him); Nigeria is in a state of emergency (some countries have no luck); President Vladimir Putin postponed his state of the nation speech (not wanting to be blown up I imagine); and Pope John Paul II turned 84 (ummm, Happy Birthday?).

But really my thoughts remain rooted within the voice of the book I have been reading on the bus back and forth from the university. DEFYING HITLER. There seems to me to be an eery correlation with what the author seeks to impart on me and what is presently happening around me today. His words span a couple of generations in order to enter my world - and they challenge me, threaten me; encourage me. It's like an odd shadow narrative in my head while I read it.

I'll have to gather my thoughts on it for a post on a different day...

Nagging at the corner of my mind...

Should the fact that my 8 year old daughter's Girl Guide camp is called SURVIVOR 2004 concern me?

Monday, May 17, 2004

Now all they need is that Handbasket...

A bomb containing the nerve agent Sarin Gas exploded in Iraq moments ago in what is believed to be an attack against american forces. The gas was delivered in an artilery round that was found by the convoy on the raodside. The bomb detonated and dispersed a small amount of gas before the troops were able to disable it, but there were no causalties reported.

Earlier this morning the Iraq Governing Council Chairman Izzidine Salim was assinated in Baghdad. Salim, a Shiite Muslim from the southern city of Basra, was killed along with several other people, including his deputy, in a car bomb explosion. He will be successed as head of the Iraqi Governing Council by Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer. I'm sure none of us envy his promotion.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Sunday Coffee News Briefs a la Allie

RUMMY’S TANGLED WEB: Heavy Chain of Command. Citing current and former intelligence officials, The "New Yorker's" Seymour Hersh reports that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the expansion of a secret Defence Department operation known as a Special-Access Program (SAP}, already in use in Afghanistan, and that the operation encouraged the abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in order to gain intelligence. Detailed planning was then left to Pentagon Intelligence Chief Steve Cambone. The Pentagon has denied the claims. Hersh is the award-winning american journalist who broke the story of the 1968 My Lai massacre (when american soldiers executed Vietnamese civilians during the war in Vietnam).

PRESIDENTIAL CONDOLENCES: Bringing Democracy To Iraq. The family and friends of Nicholas Berg gathered together Friday in Philadelphia, attending a private ceremony to mourn his death and celebrate his life. The twenty six year old, whose videotaped beheading in Iraq shocked the world, was apparently in Iraq seeking business for his company, Prometheus Methods Tower Services Inc., when he "disappeared," only three days after being released from custody. The FBI visited him on three occasions during his most recent detention, but had also investigated him twice before when he was in america. Amongst many questions arising from this event, the only clear truth remains that Nicholas Berg's life and death in Iraq will remain largely a mystery.

SMARTY JONES: On Track for the Triple Crown. Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones won the 129th Preakness Stakes in a record shattering 11.5 length victory on Saturday. Next stop will be the Belmont Stakes on June 5 where the colt will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed 25 years ago. Smarty Jones is named after a little girl who grew up in the 1920’s, whose given name was Mildred McNair. But once her grandparents nicknamed her Smarty Jones, the name stuck. "She was probably a little bit of a smart aleck," says Mildred's daughter, Pat Chapman, now one of the owners of Smarty Jones. The Chapman’s originally purchased Smarty Jones for $40,000.00, but today wouldn’t sell him for any amount (and it’s been offered). We might have a Triple Crown winner on our hands, folks.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Apocalypse Then. Scientists and Geologists may have finally found the cause of the greatest mass extinction event in the Earth's history; known as the “Great Dying,” the Permian-Triassic Extinction occurred 250 million years ago, and wiped out more than 90 per cent of the species alive at that time. A large impact crater has been discovered off of the West Australian coast, it is speculated that that size of the asteroid/meteor was between 100-200km in diameter when it hit the earth's crust.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


The Soviets used to call it Disinformatsiya, the Pentagon calls it PsyOps, in Canada we call it "disaster management." It could be effectively used to divert attention away from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal if necessary, or save a President from public disintergration.

This morning I watched the video taped beheading of Nicholas Berg. I can tell you it was not what I expected. I was troubled by many parts of it, but what bothered me wasn’t what I thought would. It seemed rigged, rehearsed, not quite right. It raised more questions for me than it answered. I decided to find out more, but again, I have found more questions than answers.

At a time when pictures of British soldiers appear to have been declared fakes (taken in order to take the heat off of american’s, perhaps?) we are now presented with the "beheading video".

There are lots of different opinions out there regarding this video. Debate rages. My post today aims at proving or alleging nothing, you decide.

1. We actually don't know if the beheading was filmed in Iraq or elsewhere.

2. The nature of Berg's business in Iraq is unclear, although we know that he was not there in any official capacity as a contractor.

3. Why would Bergs father be quoted as saying "… I am sure that he only saw the good in his captors until the last second of his life. They did not know what they were doing. They killed their best friend."

4. The event itself did not follow any of the proper practices for beheading in Islam; method, delivery, prayers, etc.

5. It turns out Berg has a history with the FBI well previous to his recent visit to Iraq. He was interviewed by the FBI in an effort to determine the nature of his relationship with Zacarias Moussaoui, as well as certain groups he was a member of.

6. Why was Berg picked up by coalition forces in Iraq and imprisoned – and held long enough that his family had to file a lawsuit against Berg’s illegal detention, and yet he was released without question the very next day?

7. Why did the US deny detaining Berg even though his family claims to have proof they did?

8. Why would he supposedly refuse safe passage to Jordan after being released?

9. Why didn’t anyone at the hotel Berg was allegedly registered at know of him?

10. Why was Berg in an american issue orange prisoner jump suit when he was photographed and killed? None of the other recently kidnapped hostages in Iraq (Japanese, Canadian, Italian) wore any uniformed outfits whatsoever.

11. Is it peculiar that Bergs body was found by an american military patrol along a roadside? Is it more peculiar that if the body was found on Monday (May 10th), or previously "over the weekend" (as priorily reported), how could the execution and video be taped on May 11th?

12. Since the killers were hooded and identities hidden in the video, why would the footage sign off with Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi's name?

13. Could the americans have been too quick to blame Zarqawi with the death of Berg? Besides reports that the accent is all wrong for the real Zarqawi, there is the tiny matter of the able bodied person in the video having two legs, especially after Zarqawi’s unfortunate accident where he lost his leg in 2001. Of course that’s assuming that the April 2003 reports of his death in Falluja were wrong.

14. Weapons experts have suggested that the AK-47 carried by one man in the as the "Gilal," the Israeli-made variant of that weapon.

15. Some analysts around the world are challenging the official translation of the arab in which the word al qaed (the one sitting, doing nothing) is replaced with al Qaeda, which means "the base," and further why a natural arab speaker would make this mistake. Also in question is the awkward way with which the "Allahu Ahkbar" was delivered, why it was strained, and not a natural voicing of a phrase all Muslims say from the beginning of their lives.

16. Is it logically conceivable that al-Qaeda didn't have a motive for this killing? The torture at Abu Ghraib have gone on for a year. If al-Qaeda were in the business of avenging prison abuse, wouldn’t it already have done so? Is it reasonable to assume that al-Qaeda gets their information and news from CNN? And even so, what do they possibly have to gain by releasing this video now, at a time when the most damaging political heat is on their enemy?

17. Isn’t the timing even just a little bit suspicious? Is it a coincidence that the video was released at a time when Private England was telling americans that her superiors gave her specific instructions on how to pose for photos showing her with naked Iraqi prisoners? Or when Rumsfeld was showing the american lawmakers hundreds of new images depicting sexual humiliation and physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners?

18. There are some apparent discrepancies in the time stamping, the times in the video make it appear edited, and why is the video time stamping not shown in Arabic? Do Arabs use western military time too?

19. When was Berg killed, or found, or what? Why did everything happen perfectly in the matter of a few short hours? Was he found on the weekend, or killed on the Monday?

So, Who killed Nicholas Berg? Plausible list of suspects: Al-Qaeda terrorists, Arabs, Muslims, Israelis or american counter-insurgency operatives? Or mercenaries who work for companies like Halliburton, Brown & Root or Bechtel or Blackwater Security?

The only thing not in doubt is that Nicholas Berg actually was beheaded and killed.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Parlez Vous Français?

Beauty. Look closely at the extended french "washing instructions" for a hidden agenda. Loosely translated I think it says "We are sorry our President is an idiot, we didn't vote for him."

Hat Tip: Michele


As hundreds of prisoners are reportedly being released today from the evils of the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison, my thoughts wander through the recent Iraqi Horror picture show and all of the political rhetoric and propaganda one might expect to find in the midst of disaster occuring in an election year.

In particular, my thoughts rest momentarily upon the words of the american president, whom just a month before these pictures became public, proclaimed to the world that as a result of deposing Saddam, "there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq. As a result, a friend of terror has been removed and now sits in a jail".

Actually, as Jon Stewart ever so succinctly put it, Iraq's torture chambers are "Not really shut down so much as under new management."

And there is more, the worst even, yet to come - pictures that tell the sad story of the rapes of men, women and children. Thousands of pictures. The nature of these newest images is that of dark and cruel sexual torture, specifically designed to shatter human dignity. The images will repulse us, nauseate us, disgust us, and wound us: forced nudity; leashes; genitals; masturbation; rape; sodomy; a litany of sexual pain and fear as dictated by power hungry bullies with more than cameras to shoot with.

Collectively, it is the worst of our nightmares, eerily reminiscent of the pictures of naked Jewish people in holocaust era Nazi concentration camps that have been bored into our minds.

They will both insult and intoxicate our senses and sensibilties. They will occupy our imaginations for years to come. But will they move us to action?

As much as the images might rattle one's synaptic processes, they do provide us with empirical evidence of events the Bush Administration would like to keep far from the public awareness and scrutiny of the world - evidence of crimes that demand attention and justice.

These crimes, perpetrated by some of the world's strongest and most "civilized" forces, were commited in order to remove the dignity and human rights of the Iraqi people (not just those who were involved), artfully masking their humanity in an extended cycle of abuse that has now touched us all. Every one of the soldiers involved should share some guilt for the murder of Nicholas Berg. They should also be painfully aware that they have added to the further endangerment of american soldiers and civilians in Iraq, around the world, and on their own home soil, as well as the potential destabilization of world politics.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then each of these illustrations must be worth a thousand new terrorists, each ready to wreak as much havoc on an unsuspecting american/western public as they can possibly dish out.

And this is only the beggining.

Out, Out, Damn Spot!

"It's a stain on our country's honor and our country's reputation, I fully understand that," said George Bush, in his recent apologia intended to dissipate the mounting Iraq-torture centered scandal. But like we all discover through the story of MacBeth, the stain remains.

How will america exorcise it's demons?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Love, is a burning flame

Love is a burning thing
and it makes a firery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire...

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down,down,down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns,burns,burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like our's meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild..

Nicholas Berg's last moments

I have some mixed feelings about this, but so far today I have had more than 140 hits from people searching for pictures or video of the beheading of Nicholas Berg in Iraq.

You can watch the sequence of events here. Be warned, the pictures are graphic, clear and completely show the severed head of Nicholas Berg after he was murdered. If that isn't enough for you, I understand the video can also be downloaded, but I am not providing that link.

It should be noted that the Arab world has denounced this action.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Fastest Divorce in the West

Wow! Not quite two weeks ago I took all of my papers to the court house and walked them through the various departments to make sure everything was alright, and then I filed them. That was 8 business days ago, and it seems like the extra effort and attention paid off, seeing that my Divorce Papers came in the mail today! Yay me! That means in 30 days I will be officially allowed to remarry!

Hey Duncan sweetheart, after we come home from celebrating my newfound singlehood, wanna have sex without committing adultery?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

It's happening...

The lights were filmed on March 5 by pilots using infrared equipment. They appeared to be flying at an altitude of about 3,500 meters (11,480 feet), and allegedly surrounded the Air Force jet as it conducted routine anti-drug trafficking vigilance in Campeche. Only three of the objects showed up on the plane's radar.

Hmmmm. I think I will go to bed and see if the world remains uninvaded come morning.

Flames Cooking Shark Tonight

Slash Shark into steaks.

Cover, marinate and leave on ice for 60 minutes.

Grill over hot flames until shark flakes easily when tested.

Sweeten and serve.

american killed in Abu Ghraib retribution stunt

An Al-Qaeda-related website has just posted a video which shows the beheading of 26-year-old jewish american civilian Nicholas Berg, a private businessman from Pennsylvania who was in Iraq looking for contracts. His body was found in Baghdad over the weekend.

Berg, who was executed with a long knife, was beheaded to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers. The event was similiar to the 2002 murder of Daniel Pearl, who was forced to admit his Jewishness on tape just before his captors cut off his head.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Our Mother's Day Special is Flame Broiled Shark, done to mouthwatering perfection.

I need a little break from the news today.

For today, let's pretend everything in the world is wonderful and great, and the most important thing that has happened recently is that the Flames won game one of the Western Conference Finals the same day Canada won Gold at the Worlds. Ah Hockey, a warm safe place to hide.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Sunday Coffee News Briefs a la Allie

Assasination: "Passed Away Undefeated". Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov was killed today in an explosion at Grozny's Dynamo stadium. Thirteen other people died in the blast and as many as forty-four people were reported wounded, including the top commander of Russian forces in Chechnya, Gen. Valery Baranov. The stadium was crowded with people celebrating "Victory Day" which commemorats the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. The Russian media are blaming Chechen separatists for the attack, of whom Kadyrov was a part until abandonning the revolution and seeking peace with Russia in 1995. It has been specualted the bomb may have been buried in concrete under the VIP stand since renovations occurred there 3 months ago.

Iraqi Horror Picture Show: "Leaking Like Toxic Waste." In his own vivid portrayal to the Senate Armed Services Committee Donald Rumsfeld, speaking of hundreds of different pictures illustrating american soldiers torturing and abusing detained Iraqi citizens and POW's, described the yet to be seen photo's as "brutal, cruel and so inhumane." Rumsfeld emotionally concluded that he felt terrible about what has happened to the victimized Iraqi detainees. "They were in U.S. custody. Our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn't, and that was wrong," Rumsfeld said, apologizing. "So to those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology." Referring to unreleased images Rumsfeld has reassurred the world that "It gets worse."

Worse? Really, how could it get worse? It's already very, very bad. Well, atleast he apologized.

Surprise!: Humans in Iraq are still considered Humans. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights announced today that they will be investigating the events in Iraq since the April 2003 start date of the american occupation. Long-time human rights expert Jakob Moller will be involved in preparing the report, which will also be released to the press. The document means to address the treatment of detainees as well as the military-security situation, including suspected acts of terrorism. The Human Rights report will also deal with protection of civilians, displacement, the situation of women and children, freedom of religion or belief, core rights, and accountability.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

What or who is an american?

A recent blog visitor asked me if I should make a distinction between the american public and Dubya's administration. I mulled it over during the bus ride to the university this morning. The answer is not as cut and dry as the question itself may suggest.

There exists a fine line between the american public and their President, whom they (usually) elect in a democratic process and therefore provide with a mandate in not only their own personal governance but also in matters of their foreign policy and military activities. I am largely unprepared to absolve the american public of their democratic rights and duty to influence their government and their policies. The american Declaration of Independance defines this intricate relationship in no uncertain terms:

"... Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

Ofcourse I don't think that all american's are evil. Actually, I would dearly like to believe that the majority of americans are appalled enough about the behaviour of their military to demand some action and accountability. However I am not naive enough to feel secure in the current state of voter apathy I have observed amongst the american public. Let us not forget that Hitler derived his powers legitimately through the democratic process, elected by people who subsequently empowered him to do what he did, even if that was not their original intention. They allowed subtle changes in their laws to take place that eventually removed or altered their ability to influence, speak out against, or remove their government. What eventually became Hitler's Germany was a dark spot in our collective history that we should all guard against repeating.

It really is beyond me how anyone can try to condone or find some justification for the activities illustrated in these pictures. A blog I visit regularly made a very good point of all the "excuses" being bantered around:

"... but they've bundled their apologies with excuses, thus negating any sincerity. My favourite excuse: "The guilty persons weren't properly trained in the rules of the Geneva Convention." Really? Really? Do you really need to be told that this isn't right? So ... their soldiers do not naturally know how to treat human beings? They need to take a special course to know that pissing on people, dragging them around on leashes, and stacking them in naked human pyramids is not proper?"

People make conscious choices to act in certain ways. We all know that our actions have consequences that we need to take responsibility for, ourselves, regardless of who or where we are in society or the world. When I was in the army we were all well briefed in Military Law, basic rules of engagement and the Geneva Convention, especially as it pertains to the taking and treatment of prisoners/detainees, from our Basic Training onwards. I can't imagine it would be that different for americans. Regardless, it remains the duty of every soldier to question and defy any order that is thought to be unlawful until that order is confirmed from higher up the chain of command. Further, I would humbly suggest, it is the duty of every human being (especially of a free citizen) to guard against outrages upon the personal dignity and wellbeing of another human being. But maybe that is just my opinion.

So, for now, I will reserve judgment. In the best case scenario this will all prove to be isolated cases, illegal acts committed by a very few number of people who were operating of their own accord and not under a command structure that allowed this type of behaviour to prosper. But while this current situation in Iraq *might* be representative of only a minority of american people, the eyes of the world are waiting on the reaction of the majority before we decide.

In conclusion, let me add that america needs to leave Iraq. Troop escalation will not help; there needs to be an immediate and unilateral withdrawal of american (and British) troops. The longer the occupation remains, the potential for it to get worse increases. But this is a blog for another day.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Put to Shame

I am at a loss for words this morning... so I will defer to the definition of Shame:

A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace; A great disappointment; To bring dishonor or disgrace; To disgrace by surpassing.

Surpassing. Yah, that just about sums it up for me today.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Political and Tactical Misrepresentations

It was Homer Simpson that said "It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen"

It was George Bush that recently said ".... it's very important for the people of the Middle East to realize that the troops we have overseas are decent, honorable citizens who care about freedom and peace; that are working daily in Iraq to improve the lives of the Iraqi citizens, and these actions of a few people do not reflect the nature of the men and women who serve our country."

Canadian, Hossam Shaltout, tortured by americans.

I am getting tired of this "we want to help Iraq, and we care about the Iraqi people" stuff I am hearing from George Bush and others in his administration. I know he is attempting damage control in the wake of an increasing investigation into torture and abuse charges, but still, lets not skirt the facts.

The americans decided to target Saddam Hussein, not exactly with the best of intentions, and in doing so they invaded Iraq in what most would agree was not an entirely legal invasion.

During the time they have occupied Iraq, they have destroyed it's infrastructure; killed countless civilians (including children) in abhorrent manners; imprisoned scores of people who were then apparently tortured, abused and in some cases, killed; installed (or are attempting to install) a new american friendly government (similiar to the fashion they installed Saddam); bullied "co-alition" countries into providing forces; and have more than overstayed their welcome.

All the while at home, they have slowly changed their own laws to subtly remove individual rights and freedoms; almost reinstated the draft (and changed it to include women in mandatory service); continually "lied" to the american people until forced to reveal the truth; produced the largest budgetted deficit in history; run a Presidential re-election campaign; and carried home 769 boxes (to date) draped in the american flag.

The american's don't care about individual Iraqis and I am getting tired of the two faced claims. Call it like it is, please.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Proud of my Man!

I, ofcourse, have many reasons to be proud of Duncan. He accepts all sorts of challenges and then works really hard to master whatever it is that he has set out to do. Many of you who have seen his blog, so you already know what I am bragging about, but I have been waiting patiently for a chance to show off his latest creation, so here it is!

It is a vector image. That means he drew it himself, in photoshop, from another actual image, a photograph. Each area/colour/shade had to be accurately and patiently hand drawn, and it was amazing to watch him put it together, especially inspiring when he had difficulties and still pressed on with determination until he had finished it. And this was on his first try! I am looking forward to his next project!

They say Laughter is the best Medicine!

This note came in the mail today where I work (I work in a university parking services administration office). It reads:

I was glad to see the ticket I recieved yesterday, because it meant that you and your parking attendants would make the rude and arrogant illegal parkers "pay" for their attitude.

Thanks again,
(name deleted)

We don't handle the enforcement part of parking in our office - we handle the administrative side of things, and I giggle when we get something like this sent in the mail. Attitudue is everything, and you have to be able to laugh at yourself right? This person got their ticket cancelled just for making us laugh!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

american's don't just torture Iraqi's

A 57 year old Canadian man who was taken prisoner by american forces in Iraq last year is now suing the U.S. army for $350,000 (USD) admist claims he was tortured and unjustly injured by american troops while he was detained and interrogated.

Hossam Shaltout was taken to the Camp Bucca detention centre by american forces shortly after the invasion began last year. There, falsely accused of being Saddam Hussein's speech writer, he was beaten and $119,000.00 (USD) was confiscated from his Hotel room, as was his passport and other personal effects that were never returned. After he was released he went to Egypt, but is unable to return to his american home to get his property because american authorities won't return his green card.

While he was at Camp Bucca he saw other prisoners being abused as well, and stated that the abuse suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, which he admitted was less than what he was faced with, could only be described as "unthinkable."

While the american army is reeling from the evidence of torture being accumluated and released now, this case more than suggests this type of behaviour has been going on from the very beginning of the occupation, or at the very least April 9th 2003.


Down the Rabbit Hole

"Dear, dear! How odd everything is today," she said in a bewildered tone of voice. "Yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same person when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!"

Hat Tip: Lewis Carroll

Monday, May 03, 2004

Three Words: Western. Conference. Finals.

HOLY HOCKEY PUCKS! That felt so good!

An order of Wings to go, please...

I'm EXCITED! Tonight's the night, the night we can eliminate the best team in the League, and I know we are going to put our hearts and souls into it. We're going to have to, cause Detroit will be desperate to win, and we will have to want it more than they do.

Detroit has always been a team that could/would win the cup for a reason (like to honour fallen teammates, or for Hasek and Bowman) and until Yzerman's injury last game I didn't think they had a reason to this year. Let's hope they don't decide Yzerman's season ending injury is enough to propel them onwards for their Captain, and that we finish them tonight, at home, in Calgary.

Go Flames GO!

Shooting From the Lip

"The mission in Iraq, which is showing itself every day to be a failure, should serve as a lesson to the international community: pre-emptive wars, never again; violations of international law, never again."

- Spainish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sunday Coffee News Briefs a la Allie

Bastion of Democracy: Iraqi POWs live american nightmare. In the latest scandal to surface from the american occupation of Iraq, and with blatant disrespect to Article 13 of the Geneva Convention, american troops have been torturing, sodomizing, humiliating, beating, threatening and in atleast one known case killing, Iraqi POW's. As the evidence is being gathered it is, not surprisingly, becoming clear that this type of behaviour has been going on for atleast 6 months, but it has likely been longer than that.

President Bush has said that he "... shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated. Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the american people." But alas, can there can be any other measure of a people than how they treat their prisoners of war?

No Room to Breathe: SARS resurfaces in China. With a confirmed SARS death and several new or suspected cases of SARS, China is yet again wrapped up in the panic that gripped them when SARS hit last year, which world wide, killed around 800 people. The source of the new virus is still speculative, although these latest outbreaks in China seem to be traced to poor lab practices spreading the disease once again. Hopefully the WHO is correct in assessing that China has this outbreak under control, and it will remain an isolated incidence. Meanwhile, scientists in Toronto have discovered specific criteria in relation to the SARS infection that will possibly lead to an early and easy blood test for SARS.

That's gotta hurt: Wing's Yzerman downed by puck. A puck errantly deflected into the face of Stevie Yzerman during the second period of Saturday's Game against the Calgary Flames has taken the Detroit Captain out of the game, indefinitely, with his team admitting he will not play again this season. Yzerman suffered a scratched cornea and multiple fractures of his orbital bone, and required 4.5 hours of surgery to repair his vision. Concern for Yzerman was apparent from both teams yesterday. It is expected that Yzerman will make a full recovery.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Kiprusoff 3:16

For god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to play in net for the Calgary Flames. Whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Kiprusoff 3:16

"I hereby claim this land in the name of all goalies; that all others shall respect our borders in the knowledge that hostile intruders caught tresspassing will be severly punished"