Monday, March 27, 2006

More Stuff (but it's unimportant)

Well Jim Loney came home yesterday, and the other guy, Harmeet Singh, wound-up in New Zealand. Both eventualities arousing a little disquiet in the mind of a mental midget such as myself.

First off, there's Mr Singh, a Canadian Citizen, whom our government, and its resources, has been at some pains to help, who says 'TaTa!' and jets off to the Antipodes. He was to be reunited with his family, who now reside in New Zealand. From his appearance, Mr. Singh Sr., originated in the Asian subcontinent, or was of Indian descent. From his accent, I would assume that his origin was not Canadian. I assume , too, that he was formerly a Canadian resident, if not a Canadian citizen. His Son, Mr. Singh Jr, is a Canadian citizen, either by birth or naturalization, I don't know. I could be wrong, but it appears that the Singhs are very cosmopolitan in outlook and seem well on the way to becoming 'citoyens du monde' - that might be a useful cachet for a hostage.

The second observation, and way off-base to some, is that Mr. Loney was met by his same-sex partner at the Airport last night. A fairly modern perspective displayed by someone engaged in an act of very primitive and basic Christianity. I don't see what Mr. Loney's sexual orientation had to do with his Baghdad experience, but I'll bet it didn't help. Given the Koran's strictures regarding homosexual behaviour, he could never have been entirely comfortable while keeping his orientation secret from his captors. I'm just trying to figure out why somebody decided it was important that we all know that Loney is a gay man? Was it to praise a 'gay' hero, or to give us fair warning, or both?

Friday, March 24, 2006

'Get Back' - by the Bootles

The friendly folks at the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (or whatever they're calling themselves to-day) have started to do their jobs again. The Toronto papers have been showered with letters since they ran an article about honest, hard-working illegal immigrants being repatriated to Portugal.

It's about time. Canada's immigration policy has been a joke since the first 'amnesty' for illegal immigrants happened back in the late 60's. The numbers of 'visitors' who decide to extend the visit for a decade, or two, just build into a multitude that the immigration department stand no chance of catching or deporting - then we have an amnesty and let them all take out citizenship. Who can blame the poor Portugese builders for paying the 'consultants' who told them it was just a matter of time until the next amnesty. I can't undestand why there hasn't been an amnesty.  Like a volcanic eruption in some places, it was well overdue, NOT!

I can't understand how somebody can come here for a summer visit and wind-up owning a house and sending two kids through elementary and high schools, without proper documentation, or paying taxes, before immigration Canada tweak to the fact. School boards should demand citizenship documentation to register children. In many countries, visitors have to show passports to get accomodation, or to travel, and records are kept. Departure dates should be tracked and the visitors contacted if they don't show up for the flight. Canada could do this, but it hasn't.

When I was younger I visited an island in the Caribbean. I guess they had the same trouble with bums such as myself outstaying their island welcome, and stinking the place up. I had to leave the return half of my airline ticket with the immigration department. It was there for me when I left - Canada should do that, too, and either make the Airline, or who ever they're visiting, responsible for getting them home again.

Removing people who have established themselves in Canada, by marrying and starting families is heart-rending. However, there is a process for doing this legally and visitors should know that they will receive no special treatment for marrying a Canadian or giving birth to some.

Rejoicing in the land

It sure looks like a win for the good guys. Jim Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden will be going home with all their body parts intact, hallelujah!

I don't quite understand what 'peace activists' do, other than go places where organized crap occurs on a fairly frequent basis and join the 'underdogs'. In Iraq it meant sitting out the bombing of Baghdad, in Israel joining the Palestinians in confronting the Israeli army. In the current situation, the activists drive (pedal?) around Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul or wherever some 'insurgent activity' is being countered and insinuate themselves into the insurgent area to support the locals.

Now given the fact that the insurgents have a very low tolerance for any westerners, let alone 'crusading' Christian westerners, this seems to be a particularly foolhardy exercise. Sort of like voluntary lions' den-entering.

I have no problem with what they are doing, it's their business. What irks me is that, when they do get grabbed by the powers that be, their friends and family put all sorts of pressure on the government to get them out. Basically, I think they should be extended the same assistance as anyone else who, for whatever purpose, finds himself (herself) a prisoner in some foreign land, sort of like Mohammed Arar got - a couple of visits from the consul and some best wishes from the people at home. If, of course, the Consul knows where they are.

There is, however, a hidden bonus in all this - those guys from the RCMP who assisted in the rescue operation should be flown home immediately and promoted to top rank of the force. They're the only Mounties who haven't come off looking like total 'doofi' ( pl. of 'doofus') of late.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Relative Freedom

News coverage to-day of the world-wide, and yet numerically insignificant Iraq war protests calls to mind an unnoted and, apparently, insignificant event that occurred in Cuba about a month ago.

1 million Cubans - out of a total population of 11.5 million, showed up to walk along the Malecon on Havana to protest US policies Iraq and other places around the world (Venezuela being much in the news at that time). The American networks ignored it completely - the lead story on CNN was about a stolen penguin in London, England.

I read afterward in some neo-con posting that the Cubans were 'forced' to participate. I was in Cuba that week and where I was (Cayo Guillermo on the north shore) nobody had to go anywhere. If it wasn't for the TV coverage leading up to and including the day, it was everything as usual.

One of the notable things was the giant electronic 'news ticker' attached to the upper stories of the US mission building in Havana. This gizmo blinks out reassuring messages about 'freedom' to the liberty-starved Cuban masses and encourages revolution, and overthrow of the Cuban 'tyrants', by the downtrodden. The Cubans have recently erected a bank of flags to obscure its messages.

I wonder just how long a similar gizmo on the side of some foreign legation in Philadelphia, or Milwaukee, would last before the incensed citizens of America, with righteous indignation, tore it down, maybe a day, two? In Washington I wouldn't bet on a life span of more that 4 hours. The Cubans appear to be overly tolerant.

Freedom is relative. America has freedom to do things 'because she can', the rest of us have freedom to do things 'because the America lets us'.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I want an Afghan (istan)

So our Mr Harper has placed Canadians firmly on the side of truth, purity and the American way. Our 'sojers' find themselves on the ramparts of the counter-jihad. In spite of General Rick's bluster and bravado, our troops desire to 'kick some ass' and the supportive visits of the PM, I'm hoping that they're right and that history is wrong.

I would have expected the PM to be making the case for our involvement to the public, rather than the military. That didn't happen. But, mirabile dictu, the PM is acting as if he had to explain it, we'd be too stupid to understand anyhow, so why bother? The soldiers see a wonderful opportunity to do what they've been trained to do - shoot somebody - and want to take a good poke at it.

Canada stands in a long line of those who have tried to tame the Afghan - none of whom have had any lasting success. How are we going to do it?  Easy!  We're going to spend a lot of time driving back and forth, at fairly high rates of speed, looking for suspected Taliban (who look amazingly like everybody else except Canadians and the Afghan government forces) while en route to 'peace meetings' with, possibly, local Taliban personnel (who look amazingly like village headmen and other 'friendly' Afghans but not the Afghan government forces). While doing this, we'll develop a healthy bunker mentality - realizing that we are constantly living in Taliban gunsights.

How will we know when we are accomplishing our goal? When the Afghans can 'roll up the rim to win' and start wearing hockey jerseys. Until then we'll just have to keep a sharp eye out for them nasty little r*g headed b******s - even if the pedicab is full of kids - don't take chances if you want to walk off the airplane in Canada.

I append a website reference. A videotaped experience in Afghanistan. At first the Taliban - very frightening - and then the Afghan police to the rescue. Who beats-up the camera crew? You guess. Maybe that's better than the Taliban who, apparently, seemed to want to shoot somebody. My take is that the Taliban know the local people (they're probably related). The police and the army - they're strangers, from some other part of Afghanistan. In a place like that strangers eventually 'lose'.

Do I support our troops? Yes, the poor saps. Do I support what they're doing in Afghanistan? Nope