Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

2007 - unremarkable, but a 'doozie' nonetheless.

Canada's foreign adventures continue unabated. Much as they were at this time last year, but thankfully with less traffic on 'Heroes' Highway' - east or west. CF continues to battle the Taliban in the Panjwai district as they have for the past year and a half. On the positive side, some of the residents are now 'friendly' and receiving the development aid most Canadians were happy to sign on for. The negative side is that some of the residents are not friendlies and receive the ballistic forms of aid Canadians didn't get a chance to sign on for. Prognosis for 2008: Continued work in Panjwai.

The Native protest at Caledonia continues marked by a brouhaha in one of those non-tax 'smoke shops' the indigenous folk run. This actually wound up in police charges and the case is before the courts. That means most of the charges are against white folk, as the Natives' healing circles deal with their criminal element, and provide a nice lunch. Negotiations, I think, continue.

A ray of hope in the otherwise snowy firmament of Native affairs is the new minister of said portfolio. He's gone and cut through red tape to remove the Provincial Park signs at Ipperwash (and the watchful police), to give the Stoney Point Band back their ancestral land. Amazing what somebody can do without 'Common Sense'. Amazing, too, what the application of spurious 'common sense' by a band of doofi and dunderheads can do. 9 freakin years to sort out the sorry mess made by that fatheaded wunderkind Mike 'Blow Me' Harris, and his band of merry masturbators.

To round out the year we have the Bank of Canada forking out 3 billion dollars to help Canada's chartered Banks stay afloat in the self-inflicted scuppering by sub-prime mortgage market fiasco. This should enable the deserving to get their Christmas 'performance' bonuses. Any mistakes they made couldn't have been foreseen, as all they were trying to do was make a buck for the bank. How could they be expected to know they were buying shit? The paper was issued by the finest establishments in America and the deal was too good to pass up. It must have been a tense month waiting for one of the stockholders pipe up about lack of due diligence, make some nasty comment about fiduciary responsibility. Oh well, they can breathe easy over the cigars and sherry, their labours well-rewarded.

I wonder why the Bank of Canada wasn't so generous to the mutual stock holders who lost their shirts during the dotcom meltdown a few years back when the Banks - probably due to the foresight they lacked this time, were able to 'get out' in time to post one of their most profitable years. I guess if you lose some investors you can always get new ones. Losing a bank, on the other hand, would be like losing a Bank. Prognosis for 2008: More billions to prop up the banks - if we all don't go down some US designed toilet.

(Canadians don't 'pay' for the Bank of Canada do they???? If I thought those billions were guaranteed by those ex-Harris wankers in Ottawa, I think I might take to my bed and not getup for a fortnight.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Police Fiasco

One of the last atrocities in the string that comprised the last round of Ireland's 'troubles' came to an end in an Ulster courtroom this week with the dismissal of the case against Sean Hooey the only man charged with the Omagh bombing.

The bombing of the market in the Northern Ireland town of Omagh on a Saturday morning in August of 1998 took the lives of 29 people. It was a final outrage at what seemed to be the end of the of the sectarian violence that had started 33 years before. Another bombing by a splinter terror group that was made more effective by faulty police communications which directed people into the blast rather than away from it. From the 'get go' it was a police cock-up.

The case against Hooey was marginal at best and based mainly on DNA evidence. Not the normal DNA evidence but a rather more iffy sort where one or two cells are built into a profile. It was apparent from the outset that the method itself was unreliable. But it was even more evident that some wishful thinking had been turned into a police reality that took little professional care in gathering evidence or in using it objectively. The police set-up Hooey, but they bungled even that.

Hooey walked out of court a free man, but in the minds of many a freed killer. The police have yet to apologize to him, let alone admit that they made errors, venial or grievous in nature. Hooey's a walking target for the payback that is yet a reality, too.

The RUC who initiated the investigation were transmogrified into the nominally less biased but equally as incompetent Ulster Police Service. Officers in command remained in command and received the promotions due their state. They were promoted despite incompetence and many are still in office.

The judge castigated them openly for their poor performance and any ramifications for improvement remain to be seen. Save to say the the UPS will be looking into all cases where such DNA, as was used against Hooey, was used against others. They won't be doing that any more.

The UPS still carries a lot of baggage from the troubles when police work became an adjunct of the military action. Intelligence gathering and involvement in 'wet jobs' on behalf of the Crown forces have been indicated but never investigated. If the RUC was paramilitary when the 'troubles' started, it was thoroughly militarized when they ended. That it was a sectarian organization at the outset and isn't any longer is only a recent development. The command staff remain largely the same.

As I've alluded in other posts the former RUC holds a cachet in police circles shared by few other organizations. Many of its members have emigrated and have taken places in other police organizations. They have brought their 'bunker mentality' with them, or inculcated it to others to combat 'terrorists'. Police services, while claiming to be more accountable than ever, have actually become the opposite, far more closed and removed from society. They only thing they don't wear is black masks - or most of them don't. No policeman wants his calling bruited abroad, or his residence, or his personal information - they take great pains to maintain 'privacy' that other public servants don't get. Police 'stations' have suddenly acquired the trappings of high security buildings. Places where people once went for help, remain closed to the public by and large. Public admittance seems restricted to the accused.

A bunker mentality in a police 'service' is a contraindication of what the job should be about.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Birds of a Kidney

Brian Mulroney takes the stand to-day in the Karl Heinz Schreiber hearing. He's expected to try to explain what he was doing taking $300 000 in cash payments from the German middleman. And that might be difficult for him, as the last time he was in the news with Schriber he was huffing and puffing about being accused of taking benefits from the sale of a fleet of Airbus Industrie's flying products.

During that last go round he huffily claimed that, like Peter outside Pilate's house, he didn't know the man, and had no business dealings with him. It wasn't known at the time, but Mulroney had already met Schreiber on more than one occasion and had entertained him at the Prime-ministerial retreat. There followed at least three other meetings where 'envelopes' changed hands. Mulroney claims it was payment for services rendered in some fast food business. Schreiber claims it had more to do with setting up an LAV production site in eastern Canada. In any case he claims the 'Mulster' provided no benefit for the expenditure and is suing to get it back.

Brian also forgot to declare the money, or pay tax on it until a much later date.

He is making a lie out of his former claims to innocence which resulted in Canadian taxpayers paying his legal bills, well over a million, and having the government of the day apologize.

It's amazing how these two birds resemble reach other, physically. They're probably much alike morally, as well, being fellows who were well paid for glorified 'pimping' jobs. Schrieber in peddling Euro-tech around the world and Mulroney doing the world's second oldest 'profession'. Both of them, and a cast of characters with whom both were associated, were featured in the book "On the Take" an expose of the grasping that went on while 'Lyin' Brian' was at the helm as Canada's 'greenest' PM. It's interesting that a guy who values his 'good name' as highly as Mulroney does, has never really done anything to get back at writers who've pilloried him. I imagine that he knows politics better than he does the ink trade, and not knowing them there's fear of a 'screw' factor with which he's not too comfortable.

Ditto Schreiber. Who'd have known the little weasel was a record-keeper. He's got it all down on paper in little diaries. His dealings with Mulroney's right-hand boys - Frank Moores and the St. FX mob. One would have to walk softly and hopefully appear to have a stick.

How Brian is going to play it, is a mystery. Probably an apology for an oversight that has poor optics but no nefarious intent. But a claim to fundamental honesty and the desire to make a decent home for his family. They'll all be there if his pals aren't to be seen. Maybe he can get a nice letter from Gorby, who has a reputation for personal honesty. The Gipper's dead but Missus Gipper might remember those Irish eye's a-smilin' and those lips just sucking shit. No harm in asking. Whatever he does it will be in the damage control mode. For once having laid down with swine, your pin stripes pick up the odor.

The Canadian taxpayer may never get his lawyers' fees back, or any of the stuff he has stored in Toronto - Mulroney's the only PM who left office with more furniture than he brought to it - multiple semi-trailer loads. But he was also, so we're told, cash poor, and that's why he wanted to help Schreiber. It's highly likely that even if the money was a business deal, and it wasn't taken to create an inner track, Mulroney's reputation will be salvaged, not unless he does a decade on the streets of Calcutta.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Willie Gets Porked

The Picton trial has come to an end. The jury found the pig farmer guilty of second degree murder in the six cases with which he was charged. That's like saying they got killed , even by Willie, but he didn't mean to do it. It's worse than manslaughter, where he really didn't mean to kill anybody, but it's not like he planned it, or anything. Bottom line, as Willie might well appreciate, as a pork producer, and a man who needed regular service, he got 'screwed'.

What else to expect. He ran party central where the denizens of Vancouver's nether parts could gather to kick back and dope up in an atmosphere free of police pressure. And this went on for a number of years without attracting undue attention from law enforcement.... Willie and his version of Swine Lake.

There is no evidence that anybody was coerced into attending the 'ballet', just that some attendees failed to return. The physical and DNA evidence makes it apparent that many met a gruesome end at the farm. But who dunnit?

The prosecution would have led us to believe that Willie Picton managed to eliminate more than 40 women - completely, in most cases, all by his slow little lonesome. Willie the special ed kid and momma's boy was shrewd enough to dispose of more than 40 corpses, some of which won't reappear until the Second Coming. But he was stupid enough, or brazen enough, to brag to a 'cellmate' he'd never met before, that he hadn't 'done fifty'. Willie did what he wanted to do for a decade without raising any suspicion? Then he brags it all away to some goof he met in a holding cell? That's entirely credible.

I think the verdict is a sop to a miserable case of policing. Don't get me wrong, I think Willie Picton was in it up to his eyeballs, how could he not be, he lived there. But the policing in this case was flawed from the day the first girl disappeared. That thing about 'not being able to track prostitutes' was an excuse for an uncaring attitude. That had a lot to do with Willie's 'success'. With a little hard work Willie might have been stopped before he hit double digits. All the 'lowlifes' in Vancouver seemed to know about him, the police didn't?

Willie's looking at life in the slammer, and I think he deserves that, but the sentence, too, is a sop to sloppy enforcement and a sloppy prosecution. Given the millions spent on this case, how could any judge with an eye to his future rule otherwise? It could be that the 'error' in instructing the jury might lead to a successful appeal and that couldn't be good.

There are probably some nervous people running around BC now, worrying if Willie, like Clifford Olsen, might be hoping to 'soften the blow' by telling what he knows about his slaughterhouse, and his parties. I think Willie had help.

The murdered girls, we trust, are in better hands, in a better place.

Friday, December 07, 2007

None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See

It’s hard for the mentally challenged to maintain a grip on reality on many occasions and it’s even more difficult for them to maintain objectivity and defer their judgements. For the normal person, and especially those normal people in positions of trust and or authority, the failure to maintain an open mind can have grave consequences for others. In the first case such errors are written-off to the condition of the ‘errer’, except when crime is involved. In the latter the mistakes are due to a ‘human error’, or ‘an honest mistake’. In either case to punish the person who made the mistake(s) is often beyond society’s power, or volition.

Some cases in point in the news of late.

The first relates to the months-old trial of Robert Picton, a pig farmer from BC accused of killing, dismembering and disposing of a significant number of “sex trade workers”. The case is now before the Jury and the evidence as presented is being weighed. Needless to say the police witnesses came off looking somewhat ‘Doowright-ish’ and the telling points against Picton came from habitues of his farm, who might, themselves, have been just as involved.

One of those with the ‘doors slammed shut’ is newspaper columnist Rosie DiManno. In her almost daily rants against Picton she tries to let her readers ‘feel the pain’ of prostitutes and those who survived them, and the hands of the wicked (substitute thesaurus entries for ‘guilty’) Robert Picton. If some errant bellhop dropped one of the newspapers carrying her ‘emoticons’ at a juror’s door by mistake, the trial might be derailed. She should save the screaming for a best-seller, after the verdict is in.

Another, on the other hand, could be the trial judge. In his haste, or whatever, to get the jury sequestered he “inadvertently” wasn’t as thorough as he should have been when preparing his instructions to them. Granted this was a lengthy and convoluted trial, but if it’s anybody’s job to ensure that evidence admitted is germane to the charge, it’s the Judge. If it’s anybody’s job to ensure that the digressions of the dramatic are minimized, it’s the Judge. If it’s anybody’s job to ensure that the jury are clear about what they are doing, it’s the Judge. If anybody in that room should maintain objectivity, it’s the Judge. Any less could be a miscarriage of justice.

We’ll have to see what happens to Picton.

Another recent case being inquired into, is that of a former Ontario provincial coroner Dr. Charles Smith, who made a career of seeing anybody related to a dead child face the courts. His ‘expert’ testimony jailed quite a few people for murdering their own, or another’s, child. A half dozen years back it was determined that his ‘expertise’ was largely verbal, as the medical part was often slipshod if not downright incompetent. He resigned and took his professional laurels to another job out west. In the interim, a number of convictions have been overturned after his testimony and the evidence he presented was reexamined by competent pathologists. The lawsuits and settlements will take years and millions to work out. Needless to say the doctor’s ‘human error’ hasn’t precluded his continued practice, or required him to face sanctions. The law might even protect him from lawsuits.

A third case of applied blinkers relates to a case involving the London (Ontario) police service and a young mother Erin O’Neill who was charged with murder a year ago after she fell down stairs while holding her infant child. Somehow the bozos in blue thought that she’d done it deliberate and so they set out to prove. She claims they had been affected by her ex-spouse and had adopted his notions of her. The result was: the better part of a year in custody including 114 days in solitary confinement, the loss of another child to Children’s Services, denial of access to family members, $400 000 in legal costs and all the mental and physical turmoil deriving from a case where the police think they have you dead to rights, but can’t prove it unless you confess. She didn’t, they couldn’t and yesterday the “Crown” withdrew the charges.

The judge admitted “some serious mistakes were made” but you can bet your bippy the ‘tec’ squad will continue to draw their pay and work toward their publicly-funded pensions. The Chief will continue to admire himself in an egg-salad laden shako with the nice ‘golden badges’. The force will continue to serve and protect and get annual budget increases. It would be nice to think that any damages Ms O’Neil might get out of them would make them any more objective about their work. It won’t. Somebody needs to look at that ‘Pleece service’ - three major ‘blips’ on their horizon in a year might be more than kismet.

And what protection do the innocent have from a Crown Prosecutor willing to go to trial with no evidence? There’s a man who might be better engaged at a lesser task. “ I was sure I had ‘er yer honour, by the short curlys, sir - but the investigators let me down! Egad!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Still Skidding After All these Years

The Rt. Honourable Brian Mulroney is back in full form, full of 'piss 'n vinegar' in defence of his reputation as Canada's 'greatest' Prime Minister.

This time after a public inquiry was announced to look into his relationship with German 'entrepreneur' Karlheinz Schreiber. The aforesaid businessman, currently being 'held' in Canada while a deportation order is appealed, has just remembered that he gave his dear pal $300 000 in cash to do some middleman stuff for him. He claims he wants a refund because Brian didn't carry through his end of the 'deal'.

A court ruled a week later that there was no impediment to the 'Kinder from Kirchenhausen' going back to face fraud charges in his homeland. Meanwhile the 'boyo from Baie Comeau' who had forgotten to mention the cash payments at an earlier time when he denied having any business with Schreiber, wanted a public inquiry to 'clear his name'. That last denial got him $2.5 million to cover 'legal fees' in a case that had something to do with 'pay offs' for airliner sales managed by Schreiber. Writers have posited that it happened, but the ironclad proof isn't there. The only guys who know what happened and how, with any degree of certainty are the two in the news right now.

And it looks like one of them might not be sticking around for the inquiry. No witness? No case. It's debatable whether the Harper government will want to spend millions on another protracted hearing which might prove to hold some political embarrassments for the Tories. Or whether they'll let Schreiber take a long overdue one-way trip to Deutchland and hope he keeps his fat mouth shut. I daresay the former PM would prefer that, and another apology.

I wouldn't trust Schreiber as far as the fat man could be tossed by an octogenarian. Mulroney, if those billets doux that came out in the media are to be believed, is, at least guilty of lying down with swine. If he doesn't like the smell of pig crap now, tough. Karlheinz seemed to be more than a passing acquaintance.

On the Skids

When you're on the way down, it seems that misfortune piles on misfortune in a karma pay-back of sorts. And so it is with Canada's RCMP.

The latest bead on the forces rosary of peccadilloes happened in Vancouver Airport recently.

A polish immigrant who didn't speak english and who had been acting badly after a 10 hour wait in the 'secure area of the airport was tasered by RCMP and died as a result.

Investigations are pointing up a number of problems that happened that day. Lack of a polish speaker, poor security, logistics etc in the secure area, inadequate security training and an overpowering police response ... all leading up to a needless death. The man's mother who was in the terminal to meet him was sent ho9me by airport personnel who didn't realize the man was being held after his arrival from Poland. No one who spoke polish was available although onlookers told authorities they thought he was speaking Russian, apparently no Russian speakers were available either.

Initial reports of police conversation about using the taser before they approached the man were rebutted by police sources. They were unaware hat the incident had been taped by an onlooker and that video has recently surfaced. It shows the officers deploying the taser within 30 seconds of approaching the man, who is knocked down and tasered again before being 'subdued' by 4 officers.

It seems that Canada's national police force is becoming noted for professional bungles and spectacular funerals. On the scale of of screw ups they're not where the Airborne Regiment got to, yet. But given the great wheel of Karma, they've could have a few more embarrassments to get through to atone for a century of pomposity and prevarications. the RCMP needs a culture-readjustment that it won't get from within.

The civilian appointed to head the force seems to be cruising down to pension, or something since he has remained well off the radar since he took the job.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Some Guys Really 'Slay' Me

One of the recent bits of entertainment in our local rags was a murder story involving a retired cop. The 'Wills case' amazed readers in the Toronto area - not with its revelations or bloodthirstiness, but with the bullheaded stupidity of this former 'peace officer' and the way he planned and managed the side show that was his murder trial. He was ultimately found guilty. And then the rest of the story came out.

Wills had been a member of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force when he met and had an ongoing affair with Linda Mariani. The affair ended, the trial uncovered, when he bashed her head in with a baseball bat and stuffed her body into a plastic garbage can for later disposal. Her putrefying corpse was discovered some 4 months later behind a phony wall.

At the trial Wills portrayed himself as a lothario, a genius, a superlative business mind, a great wit, raconteur, family guy, good cop, ordinary Joe, nice guy and dedicated man. He also came across and a bully and an ignorant lout which may be closer to the real him, but he's probably too vainglorious to realize that. His testimony of the relationship and the events of the 'noche triste' ran two weeks in court. He tried pinning the blame on her husband and denied all knowledge of the woman while she rotted in his basement. He claimed she fell, hit her head and died. The storage was part of a lovers' pact to inter each other at a cottage property. He didn't explain how the rope came to be tied around her neck, or the baseball bat included in 'the garbage'. The judge 'bent over backwards' to accommodate his antics.

Afterwards it was learned that confession (to his sister, and a friend) evidence was witheld from the jury by some legal sleight of hand when they were listed as defense witnesses but never called. It also came to light that Wills had divested himself of all his property, signing a number of properties and his police pension over to his ex-wife. So, as a pauper, Mr. Wills undertook to mount his own legal defense. The judge realizing that without advice, Wills was apt to do something that would cause a judicial ruling that might give rise to a later mistrial. So legal assistance was ordered by the court and paid by legal aid. Wills worked through seven lawyers in the course of the trial and his defense cost the public well over 3 million dollars.

They say there's a sucker born every minute. Wills makes everybody look like a sucker. After his appeal, no doubt he'll be afforded special protection in prison due to his former profession. Maybe he can develop some malady that will have him on the 'farm' on light duties with lots of regular exercise, conjugal visits and day passes. Somebody is just stupid enough to give it to him.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's Ramadan around the world, the Muslim holy month. Muslims fast and pray during the day and break their fast after sundown. They do that everywhere from Edmonton to Shiraz St. in Alabaster, Alabama and anywhere Muslims are in between. That includes the 'front lines' - Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, the Philippines - places where Muslims are actually at war about something.

They claim they're fighting 'crusader aggression'. The opposition - the 'freedom loving' countries of the world, claim they're fighting the first stages of a war of world domination. First, Muslims want to crush the State of Israel and then the rest of the Christian, and other, worlds.

Who's being aggressive? The 'Muslims', particularly a small fringe group of 'radical' muslims attacked the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. There has been muslim aggression since, and there was some before, but 11/09/01 is a watershed moment.

After 9/11 the way was clear to ramp-up freedom-loving aggression like it hadn't been ramped-up for 5 years since Desert Storm - the 'mother of all battles'. There was the up-graded embargo that hurt every Iraqi but Saddam Hussein, kids mostly; there was the military build-up; the PR exercises at the UN; then 'Shock and Awe' and the romp to Baghdad. After that was a, I think deliberate, 'looking the other way' as civil order in Iraq disappeared. It suited the purpose of 'democracy' to rebuild from the ground up. It's just that the 'democrats' didn't see the truck that hit them coming.

The aggression has continued and escalated. The 'peaceable', reformed Iraq has yet to appear. The 'democrats' think that just a little more killing is going to do it, that one day the Iraqis will give in to inevitability and westerners will be able to stroll downtown Baghdad with a bellyful of daiquiris after dinner. For the foreseeable future that's far from inevitable.

Last month General Petraeus made his report that the 'surge' was taking effect. This was to be expected as he was given his position with this end in mind. Self-criticism might happen, but certainly not in front of a Senate committee. To an extent Petraeus is right, violence does seem reduced, American casualties are in decline and then Ramadan. Unlike last year, this years' Ramadan seems to be relatively peaceful. Whether it was intentional or not, the BBC stopped carrying a weekly 'surge report' of five or six basic comparisons from week to week of the surge, this after two weeks of notable improvement. That has been replaced by the 'body count'.

Started in Afghanistan three months back, the coalition forces began to report numbers of insurgents killed in operations. It must have seemed such a good idea that it has been emulated in Iraq. Someone has forgotten that, thirty years ago, all the statistics and numbers pointed toward victory in Vietnam. The enemy was beaten wherever he showed up. And yet, somehow, that war was lost. Probably when the public started to wonder about the reported success and the evident failure. Scoring the dead is a slippery slope. Particularly during Ramadan. Bragging to the media that the surge is working could be asking for a riposte.

The mentality behind this war continues undiminished. President Bush needs another 190 billions to prosecute his war. At the same time the USA, number one in arms sales with a bullet - is preparing to arm its friends in the middle east. If you happened to be a non-friend you might be sending some weapons buyers to see the world's 'we try-harder' arms dealer, Russia. Iran, trying to get a nuclear plant working, is the world bogey-man while the North Koreans who actually built and detonated a bomb are now the recipients of American largesse, if they promise to 'forget how they did it'. Speaking of largesse, Hamid Karzai says he's willing to talk peace to the Taliban and America offers $200 000 a head for their leadership - 'dead or alive'.

Somebody , a graduate of the LBJ Academy for the Wise Application of The Buck, forgot the part about how, although everybody likes it, some people won't take it and it makes others very unhealthy. Reminiscent of the SNL parody about H. Ross Perot's money and 'squealing like a pig' for 50 bucks.

If it isn't over , the month after Ramadan could be a 'doozie'.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Frost is in the Air

The first cool evenings are telling us that summertime is all done. If it was down south the catfish would be stoppin' the jumping and the cotton would be high ( all 2.5 feet of it). But this is Ontario and the pot is the only thing that's high right now, as summer corn season's over, and the only things jumping are the 'pollyticians' trying to get themselves another 4 year sinecure on-the-way-to-a-pension.

The Ontario election is in full swing and the BIG issue, to distract us from the important stuff, is education. Not the soaring cost of college or university, mind you, but the minds and hearts of our 'little ones'. This time it's about extending the school system to accommodate the polyglot panalopy of multicultures that is Ontario. Not the watered-down, politically correct no-child-is-an-asshole and we are all together Public School System (although that is the currently touted 'option'), but the notion of letting parents, and the other ratepayers who support their views, pay to educate their kids in the Ontario curriculum plus the other things the 'politically correct' would like them to do on Saturdays. The PC candidate , whom I personally think rates up there with the non-juvenile assholes, wants to extend funding to what are now private schools. I'm OK with that, but that's only part of his agenda, and the rest of it spooks me.

What he has succeeded in doing, is whetting the appetites of those who think a one-size (theirs) fits-all solution is the best one. From the beginning, the protestant ascendancy in Ontario was forced to make allowances for Catholics - because the reverse was required in Quebec. They did it grudgingly. So grudgingly in fact, that full and equitable funding to Catholic schools took more than a century to arrive, and even then a significant amount of taxes (corporate taxes) were reserved, in the main, to the public system. The recent takeover of school funding taxation by the provincial government, as opposed to school boards, has leveled the playing field even more.

There are 4 'public' school systems in Ontario at present - English and French Catholic and Public Systems. These are funded from Government revenues - taxes. Taxes are paid by 'Francophone' and 'Anglophone' (a new Ontario wrinkle) Catholic , or other, taxpayers. Catholics may designate the 'education' portion of realty taxes to Catholic school support, or otherwise, ditto for French- speaking Catholics. Everybody else, by law, has to support the 'public systems. Non-Catholics can't support the Catholic systems. The proposed change would allow taxpayers to allocate their taxes to support the schools of their choice.

That's not how others see it. They cry out that "public money" will be taken from Peter to pay Paul - forgetting where that 'public' money comes from. They say that having kids learning other than the humanist values-based system of majority-rules morality will cause the fracture of society. That hasn't happened, even given more than a century of schoolyard banter and shenanigans, because WE didn't want it to happen. They seem to think that the 'public schools' somehow embody what Ontario is all about. They're good, but they're not all they're cracked up to be. There are some 'modern' values they teach and espouse that fly in the face of all that some people hold sacred. Put on a cost-effectiveness scale, it might be better to, scrap the public and go with one Catholic system as they've been raised to 'do more with less'. They teach the same curriculum, plus religion and they manage to accommodate cultural sensitivity and awareness - it is a universal Church, you know?

Meanwhile other, more important issues slide by the wayside. Healthcare in Ontario sucks. Even given the massive infusion of a per capita health tax waiting times are intolerable and medical 'service' is declining. The root problems have not been solved by giving doctors a raise.

Right now gasoline sells for 2005 prices, even given the fact that world oil hit $100 per barrel. The price of gas, I believe, is being held down so that it's not an election issue. After the election watch it soar, and with it the revenues of the newly-elected government.

The economy is booming. But the dollar hit par with the US to-day and other than water, Ontario has little to sell other than its manufactures. A readjustment is overdue, and it could be just around the corner. No Ontario government has been able to stop big business from cutting losses by cutting Ontario jobs - even given millions in public incentives, loans and investment.

The liberals, crying the poor mouth when elected, have found themselves on the nice end of the checkbook. Pay down the deficit? Eliminate some of the Hydro debt? Reduce the Health tax? Hell no! Build some community resources for immigrant groups - that's the ticket. A casino for the Canadians, but if you've just stepped into Canada from wherever, the Trillium fund will help you build a retirement home for your aged Granny. That Temple you want to put up can get a couple of million if there's a 'community centre'attached . Horse pellets! It's called pandering.

There was a minor scandal about this, now forgotten, where, for instance, a lawn bowling club asked for $40 thousand and were given a million and a half by a government cultural agency with more money to give away than horse sense. They weren't asked to return the money - just spend it on something worthwhile. Nuts!

So it looks like I'm not voting, or if I do, I'll be voting the local rep, or writing in a name. There is no party that clearly wants what I want. We'd need a new one - ' the Sensible Party' or the thoroughly Stupid one.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brad MacArthur

Brad MacArthur was my friend. He died yesterday.

He was an ordinary guy, but an extraordinary guy in a lot of ways as well. He never had much in the way of those 15 minutes of fame, but that's just as well, he was no celebrity.

He was a traveler - I guess when you come from a small town you either want to see some of the world or you're content in your oyster. Brad was both. He got to see Canada, or a large chunk of it, and did some traveling in the States, as well, as far south as Texas. The time he spent in BC working with his brother Terry were formative years for him. It was there he developed his knowledge of forestry and horticulture that would provide him with a start in life.

Those travelling times created tales and engendered a 'family' of Bud's friends from one side of the land to the other. For Bud was good at attracting, and keeping, friends. From the beach on South Padre Island to Lumby BC , Brad's travels and adventures were the treasures of his lifetime.

I met Brad when we moved into the house next door to his folks some 30 years back. He was just leaving on the first of his out-west peregrinations, so meeting him, as opposed to his Mom and Dad, had to wait a year or so. There are some people you meet you have an affinity for, and Brad was one of those for me. We were constant companions in a number of projects and adventures and capers over the next decade. It got to be that some people confused us thinking I was him or vice versa.

Brad was a constant in our house at Christmas and birthdays - our kids got to know him as an uncle. It was at our place that Brad met the gal he married, Marianne. We were involved in a Church group, so was she, they met at our place. One night Bud dropped in .. the wedding was about 8 months later. Brad and Marin had two kids of which Brad was immensely proud. His family became his focus and that was perhaps the most remarkable thing about him. He was as constant a husband and father as he was a friend. Not being particularly 'churched' or describing himself as 'holy' by any stretch. Brad became a Roman Catholic - to be a better example to his kids. He became a 'good' Catholic, attentive to the requirements of his faith, and perhaps holier than he would have admitted to being. There's every chance that faith has paid-off for him to-day.

Life gave Brad a number of knocks, like everybody, I guess, but he dealt with them well. He had a government job, in the Highways Department for a number of years. He was 'downsized' in the eighties and work for him became a series of 'contract' positions. He always had work, but it was never secure work, the kind you could plan on. When he died, on the job yesterday, he was working two jobs seven days a week. His health had been up-and down. He smoked for years and found quitting hard, but eventually he did it. For a while he looked ill, pale, grey, diminished. But taking another full-time job as a meat inspector seemed to revitalize him, he waxed and looked well, healthier than ever. A burst appendix emergency revealed an undiagnosed heart problem a few years back. Whether that, or the strain of too much work, affected him, who knows?

He went quick. He would have wanted to go that way. He missed his Brother Terry who died a year ago almost to the day. Every one of his nieces and nephews, some from out west, just happened to be 'at home' this week when he died, so they're all here for his funeral. His sisters, Mom and Dad as well. He couldn't have planned things much better - other than for his buddies out west.

Brad's the first of my friends to go. A dear friend and a good buddy. I'll miss him, but I'll have the tales, and memories.

Brad MacArthur wasn't as great as some men, or wealthy, or brilliant - he was just good at everything he did, I think he deserves to be noted for that and writing this is something I owe him, and me.

Be seein' ya Bud! No more "Running on Empty."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Montebello Que.

The leaders of the free world came, and saw and had a laugh. At least two of them did, the little stick-in-the-mud from down Mexico way, is a bit anal retentive. They harkened unto the Cap'ns of industry as they laid down chapter and verse on the best way to make the continent secure for the bottom line. Never mind that the stock market had been acting like a roller coaster with an inebriated carnie at the helm. This was about the important stuff - Jelly Beans.

Mr. Ganong - one of Canada's originals, after Laura Secord, at making candy, was there to decry the fact that we're not 'unified' enough. Canadian beanz can't hold a torch to those American beanz. Ours are bigger, but come in a restricted number of non-flavours. Theirs are pretty good - coming in a plethora of tastes from peanut butter through 'broccoli' and even 'dental caries' and ' halitosis' flavours. The problem is that silly rules and regs and non-standardized packaging and listing requirements are crimping the bottom line. A bean, should be a bean anywhere in North America. Right?

Some people aren't concerned about jelly beans, they're concerned about other non-standardized or unreported things like allowable amounts of pesticide residues, trace elements of toxic materials, antibiotics or disease elements. But Prime Minister Harper tried to make it simple for us.

Meanwhile outside the gates, Mr Harper described the situation as "Sad". Whether he was referring to the numbers of protesters, or the fact they showed up at all, wasn't too apparent. They were, in comparison to other venues, a fairly moderate bunch with only a few arrests announced.

That's not the cops fault. Apparently the 'Doofi' in blue, midnight black, grey or urban camo, had sent a couple of stalwarts into the rabble to keep an eye out for the lunatics and to see what they could do to 'preserve the peace'. It's rather unfortunate that the three stooges had to get caught by protest organizers, getting ready to chuck some rocks at their brothers in order to 'egg on' the anti-democrats. This all captured on video and dropped on UTube A step down in stupidity since Sgt. 'Roxxoff' of the RCMP was taped lacing a west coast crowd with an industrial strength container of mace a few years back. As if there isn't enough trouble in the world. The assholes have to create more to justify their 'security' overtime pay. What royal twits. 'It's a dirty job, Bobby, and it takes a right lout to do it. Set a rioter to catch a rioter I always sez.'

I don't know how impressed the Surete de Quebec will be - after they've spent their monnaie. But I wouldn't be counting on a law and order vote there. I'll be surprised if Portobello brings Mr. Happy any votes in Quebec, it didn't change my mind, the guy's a wet fart in disguise.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dieppe: 60 Years On

This last week-end marked the 65th Anniversary of the Dieppe Raid during World War Two. The event was marked with reminiscences by old warriors and a ceremony on the beach which included the standard contingent of government-sponsored attendees and family members. A notable day to commemorate a fiasco which seemed more bloody than heroic at the time. Notable, too that this anniversary - the 65th, is celebrated when the 25th, 50th and 60th all passed with little to remark them.

This was the Canadians first real debut in the Second War, if the equally, if not more profound, disaster at Hong Kong a year and half earlier is overlooked. The Canadian First and Second Divisions had been training in England since shortly after the war started and had been held as a force in readiness while English forces were reformed after the Dunkirk evacuation and the fall of France. By 1942 they were reaching the point of being over-trained and were spoiling for a fight. The German invasion of Russia was into its second year and the Stalingrad looked like another German win, when the British decided that something must be done to distract the Germans and a large scale raid on the French coast was considered. The Second Division was tasked for the raid.

The King's cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, had recently acquired responsibility for a revitalized department of Combined Operations, and to him fell the responsibility of putting the raid together. The Canadian C in C Andrew McNaughten was all for the operation, but as planning proceeded and some necessary preconditions (in his estimation) were dispensed with or diminished his feet became cooler, or so the legend has it. The actual raid was commanded by "Ham" Roberts who would be decorated, and then 'dumped' for a lacklustre performance. The raid's outcome would force MacNaughten to resign as a field commander (but become the War Minister).

According to Canadian legend, Air and Naval support resources for the raid were notably reduced from the first plan. The raid itself was almost scrapped but for the personal promotion of it by Lord Mountbatten. It became a reason in itself. Even at that, criticism notes, it was never vetted by the general staff and so planning was later questioned.

The raid went askew early with delays in departures and the meeting with a German convoy en route. One initial commando landing was a success, another on a total failure. The element of surprise, if there was to be one, amounted to the surprise of the Germans at the wide range of targets that appeared in full daylight before their armed gunsights. The Canadians stood the storm all morning, with only one small party succeeding in getting off the beach. The remnant was withdrawn in the early afternoon and those left behind surrendered. The dead numbered some 1000.

Another 1800 prisoners entered German POW camps. The survivors took their recriminations back to England, and ultimately Canada. Only time has put a 'gloss' on what was then considered to be an unnecessary and fruitless sacrifice.

It took a year to reconstitute the Second Division which went on to take a role in the Battles for France, Belgium and the Netherlands later in the war.

What seems certain is that the lessons of a landing on a hostile coast were taken to heart. Gone the notion of 'grabbing a port'. The raid led to innovations in support armour and attention to the needs of landing tanks early in the invasion. Landing craft were also improved as a result of Dieppe. The notion of creating a second front without proper planning and support wouldn't be repeated, Russia would have to 'hold on'.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Caveat Emptor - Airbus the Sequel

The egg may be congealing on the pusses of the Ottawa gang who were gloating over the recent arrivals of Canada's newest military hardware. Canada received, this past week, its first, of 4, C-17 'Globemaster III' Boeing cargo jets. Yesterday Canada's first Leopard 2's rolled off an Antonov heavy-lifter onto the tarmac at Khandahar airport.

The army was ecstatic with the tanks, a hundred of so will put Canada back into the mechanized forces category on a numerical par with Poland and Hungary. The Afghan contingent will appreciate the climate-controlled environment rather than the water filled cooling vests they had to wear. Mind you, if one of those liquid metal IED penetrated the tank, I'd rather have a 1/2 inch of cold water between me and it, rather than a tankers' coverall and some climate-controlled air. But they're sure the 'cats' will put the wind up the Talib.

The C-17's are the offspring of the reconciled lumber trade dispute that first arose 5 years ago.

The WTO ruled in Canada's favour and the US had to repay some tariffs they had imposed on Canadian lumber - about $5 billion worth . Being the business types they are, the Yanks wanted us to take it 'in trade'. So we bought 4 'big birds' for 3.4 of those billions. Enough to move all of Canada's new tanks for servicing in Holland over the course of any two-month period.

Now the interesting part. Up until those 4 big birds are flight tested and the crews worked up to speed, Canada will continue to depend on leased Russian heavy movers to get its forces positioned and supplied. Yesterday, an Antonov-124 'Ruslan' brought two Leopards from Holland to Afghanistan. The same day the Russians announced their whole 'Ruslan' fleet was going up for sale - all 32 aircraft. The asking price is estimated to be somewhere in the area of 350 - 500 Million dollars.

It seems strange to be laying out 3.4 billion dollars for 4 aircraft, when 1/6 of the price would have bought 32 of them. It's not as if the Ruslan isn't a good aircraft, the CAF has used them repeatedly. And it isn't that the C-17 is a vastly better aircraft - it isn't. It seems comparable but might lose on the maintenance requirements to the rougher Russian bird. The big difference is cost. What couldn't Canada have done with 2 and a half billion dollars, other than delay the close of Boeing's Seattle C-17 operation for a few months.

Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you don't. If we hadn't been owed those lumber billions, those Ruslans would look even more like the good deal they are. Looking on the bright side we got our Globemasters 'free'.

Bring 'Em to JUSTIS

The Padilla case in the States is almost wrapped-up. Padilla, an American who converted to Islam and then went on a trip to Pakistan and, possibly, Afghanistan among other places, was found guilty of charges of 'conspiracy to support a terrorist organization'. Padilla, at the root of everything, was convicted of 'thinking' of doing something.

This case marks a sea change in American jurisprudence and opens the doors to more charges and convictions for 'doing' nothing more than thinking about something. When it comes to 'ordinary' crime, nothing can be done about it until an actual crime is committed - something is done to break the law. When it comes to security against 'terror', nothing needs be 'done' and someone's opinion can haul you into court.

The evidence against Padilla was flimsy at best. It consisted, in the main, of two items. First a reputed confession to another inmate in a military brig. The second an ' application form' that Padilla is supposed to have completed in an attempt to join an AlQaeda training camp in Afghanistan. There were also some transcripts of conversations with others charged with similar 'crimes' - these will be used as evidence of conspiracy against them, but it was admitted that Padilla's conversations were not incriminating.

As far as the first piece of evidence is concerned, Padilla would have had to have been even more of a dope than the prosecutors at his first 'trial'. They botched it so badly, the government had to have Padilla re-arrested and confined by the military as a designated 'enemy combatant'. He was also moved out of the jurisdiction of that court to North Carolina where he is supposed to have bragged to a cell mate about his terroristic endeavours. He maybe believed they weren't really out to 'get him'? That's not surprising because some sensory deprivation experiments he 'volunteered for' while in military custody have reportedly reduced him to gibbering idiot status. Even at that his trial took place in a third jurisdiction - Florida, where it was felt a conviction was a 'slam-dunk'.

The second piece of evidence was retrieved from Afghanistan. However secretive the Taliban and AlQaeda might be, they apparently keep good records, not only of those attending their jihad camps, but of applicants as well. And being sticklers for factual accuracy, they make sure that applicants use their real names and give accurate biographical information. I guess that was in case next of kin needed notification. Anyway, out of all the thousands of applications from Abduls and Saleems who passed through those Afghan camps, Padilla's application popped right out at the guys who 'found' it, probably because of the New Jersey address and phone number. There are people running all over America who can forge any document you might want to buy, but the 'good' guys wouldn't do anything like that to nail a 'renegade'?

One has to wonder about Padilla's defense. The trial ended in a welter of crap that concluded with the Judge instructing the jury that the defense of 'justification' was not to be considered in Padilla's case. What happened to 'he didn't do anything'? The defense caved and started to argue that the prosecution was right about the conspiracy but it was a 'justified' conspiracy? Horse crap!

Padilla never 'did' anything except go to Asia, (thousands of armed Americans are in Asia right now). He didn't go to that camp, or buy any guns or build any bombs. But National Security thought he might, and that's why he was locked up 4 years ago. They didn't try him for thinking of building a bomb, they tried him for thinking of supporting Al Qaeda. And they convicted him of that.

He could get life for it.

Another stupid article was this week's announcement that the US wanted Canada to help them out by taking a couple dozen Yazgur 'refugees' they've been holding at Guantanamo for the past 4 years.

It seems that investigations have shown that these Chinese Muslims, captured in Afghanistan, aren't any threat to America. But the US Army is keeping them in Gitmo because there's nowhere else for them to go. They conned Albania into taking a couple, but I guess the CIA can't just drop these guys off downtown in European or African cities anymore. And they certainly don't want to send them to China where a gruesome fate might await them. The Chinese call most ex-pat Yazgurs 'terrorists'. So the new kindler, gentler detainee apparatus wants to send them to Canada. (Canada is trying to obtain the release of a Yazgur/Canadian the Chinese have tried and plan to execute, so the Yanks must think we have a soft spot for 'em.) The soft spot would have to be in the head, so PM Harper's probably got a ministry considering it.

In the news this week the poker-playing leader of the free world has decided to up the ante and call the Iranian bluff by declaring their entire Revolutionary Guard a 'terrorist organization'. Now that, at best, would set up those 4 "Al Quds 'honchos'" the US captured in Iraq last winter, for a show trial and a Cuban vacation. Or, at worst it's going to get some Iranian bank accounts in the great US of A frozen, if they're not iced already. Other than that, though, you'll need $5 to get a Starbucks with that story. I guess somebody thought the Iranian 'royal tour through the 'Shanghai pact' was 'provocation'.

And finally speaking of provocation. the Russians have announced their resuming their Atomic war training exercises by practicing navigation skills for targets in Asia, Europe and North America. This wouldn't have anything to do with George's deciding the ABM Treaty was stupid, and rebuilding America's atomic arsenal, would it?

America has some of the smartest, most creative, inventive and industrious people on earth, the opposite end of the scale is in power, however. In my opinion, positive 'smarts' count for bat scat and ignorance - either blissful, or malevolent, and the creativity like that of the Hun is endangering the world.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gettin' Any?

One of the myths of America is that the 'Ordinary Joe' can 'own' a piece of the action by investing in the stock market. This is the extension of the old 'streets are paved with gold' tale that lured many an ignoramus or fortune seeker from Europe to populate the New World. Some did indeed 'strike it rich' but, like stock market investors, by and large, the return was illusory.

The stock market used to be a 'closed shop' where only the wealthy had the opportunity to speculate and buy into the industry and resource development of the world. 'Risk' companies were formed as early as the 14th century to invest in trade. As in all risk, there were losses, but a return could make up for all, times over. The 'risk' enterprise gave rise to the insurance industry , a way to minimize exposure by sharing loss among all involved in risk and reward. And so it has continued to this day.

The wealthy continue to risk investment. It's the best way to achieve 'gain'. But the risk is the area that has changed? How? Insurance works, but it itself has become a target of investment and, to enable a gainful return, it engages in risk, too. Wise investors - those with most to lose- have worked hard to ensure there's a 'buffer' between them and loss, to minimize their exposure to risk in the stock market. The buffer is the small investor.

Banks, which are among the largest investors, insurance and security companies, too, sell 'products' designed to get the little guy, and his money into the market. In good times there's wealth to be shared by all. When things turn sour the big players make sure the little guys take the first hit. It gives them a chance to sell out at the best price and get their cash into safer investments. How? Simply by selling to their investors.

In the last big recession, banks mutual funds, indeed all mutual funds, lost value that has never been recouped in the 10 years since. But the banks which managed these funds posted record breaking profits during this period too. Mutual funds' market holdings lost value, the banks' either didn't - or they managed to sell them off in a timely fashion, before they bottomed out. Which they did, in the hands of the bank-run mutual funds which were left 'holding' a deflated bag.

Another form of insurance is to loan money for investments. Margin dealing allows people to extend themselves into investments further than they might otherwise go. It preys on the greed factor where good times can provide a lucrative return on money that only costs the interest paid on it to invest. Interest payments provide a steady and relatively low risk return on the bank's investment, as the bank holds he shares as security, and the borrower has a debt obligation that exists despite the vagaries of the market. Needless to say a downturn in the market engenders a call-in of margin loans when the market value of shares held falls below the cost value. the little guy often has to sell out at a loss - somebody gets to 'buy low' - or sell real property or take a forced debt to repay the bank. This is the situation - to the tune of 14 billion dollars at the current time in Canada.

The Market regularly readjusts and 'fleeces' the small investor. This is a form of 'profit taking' for the big boys, akin to the profit-taking they do from when they 'sell high'.

There are real opportunities to make money in the stock market, but they're a bit like playing a lottery. A friend made a substantial profit off a small initial investment in 'e-bay' and any original buyer of Microsoft is probably chuckling still. The purveyors of mutual funds are fond of hauling out the chart that shows that investment value has grown steadily this century. Despite wars and a great depression, the chart showing share value has risen steadily. But what they don't show is that relatively few companies that started the century in trade on the stock market, are still there. Some have merged and changed form and their stock has been redeemed and reissued. Anyone who still holds the original certificates has some interesting curios for sale on 'e-bay', for they won't negotiate at any investment house. Along the way, far more companies have passed out of existence, often taking investment with them. That steady stock market gain should have another line below it to represent the aggregate losses of investment year-by-year. That line would have a steady growth as well.

Banks which used to exist to safeguard the little guy's money are now as intent as any other 'retailer' to get it off him. The old notion of using peoples' savings to invest in mortgages and consumer loans has long gone by the board. Banks are into the market and they encourage their patrons to join the fun, by making 'investment' look like the best way of getting any sort of return on money 'in the bank'. If it's invested, the bank doesn't have to be responsible for a loss.

The Great Depression occurred, in large part, because a loss of confidence caused a 'run on the banks'. But the banks were already weakened by a collapse of loans made to allow stock market investment. What triggered the bank run was the collapse of share value in an over-inflated stock market. The world is more than ready for something like that again. In the interim, it's time for another 'fleecing'.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Old Soldiers Never Die

A story in to-day's Toronto Star was devoted to the potential, problems of head injuries facing soldiers in to-day's war zones.

Starting with the use of antibiotics in preventing septic poisoning and combating pneumonia in wounded soldiers back in World War Two the mortality rate among military personnel began to decline. That continued with the application of quick evacuation during the Vietnam and other wars where the helicopter made surgical attention within 2 or 3 hours of being hurt a reality. To-day the big killers are no longer shock and lack of care, but blood loss and head injury. The first is being attenuated with a clotting product that acts something like a cement plug to stop massive bleeding. But the latter remains difficult to treat. Closed head injuries due to blast effect are cited as a major cause of death and maiming. It strikes me, however, that any blast that could injure the brain without piercing the skull would probably wreak havoc on soft tissue like the lungs and gut.

Head injuries are notable - not only for their intractability but because of the physical and emotional devastation they cause. If you're not bleeding, you're not hurt. If you're not hurt then any problems you've got are probably mental or self-inflicted. This seems to have been what has happened in the US where 'injured' soldiers have tried to seek paid treatment and been brushed off by Veteran's Administration and the Army. Many army veterans think little of the unmarked wounded and their claims - remembering that 80 percent of 'veterans' don't serve on the sharp end of the stick, and chance are, will return home intact. The Army family has a pecking order and unwounded but 'hurt' soldiers are fairly well down the list.

Canada has yet to see things like this, but then we haven't the same numbers engaged. The severely-wounded are looked after - I don't know what their pension and insurance benefits are like, but their care and treatment is covered and, I believe, their families are looked after. If we are to have problems it will show up in other areas - family discord, drug and drinking problems and affects such as that. A number of ' family support' groups have been started in the military to address and assist with these needs. The problems have yet to become highly evident.

Soldiers are hurt, as always, in wars, but thankfully not as many die. This means that for the fourth time in the USA and the third in Great Britain and Canada there will be appreciable numbers of war wounded living out their lives in the future. The wounded of the previous wars are long gone now, but it doesn't strike me that their welfare was any more than the target of some annual charitable exercise - their families were, by no means, as well-off, as if they had been working. In America some wounded veterans of Vietnam paid the price for a lost war in reduced public interest in their plight. They even received hostility, and still do, from a number of their own, who hadn't seen the same type of service and couldn't understand how they could have behavioral problems rooted in their experiences. What happens in the future will be a measure of how seriously we take our wars, I don't think they're taken seriously at all.

An Order of Kung Fu to Go

Amazing the stuff that's happening with food these days. Not that it's any worse or better than it ever was, but that, when there's a blip in the killing-factor, the whole world can go on a grub alert.

The recent tainted pet food 'thingy' is a case in point. Producers of some 'fancy-dan' pet nourishment corporation bought what they thought to be a harmless Chinese-produced by-product to 'beef up' the protein content of their product. Little did they realize that the canny Chinese had been putting a few additives of their own into things including 'melamine' - a protein usually found in plastics and counter tops. Melamine, while passing through the gut of some ruminant like ourselves is harmless, apparently it has a toxic effect on the excretory system of pussy cats in particular. When people's tabbies and Sylvesters starting ailing, the kitty litter hit the proverbial fan and the lawsuits started flying, and the blame was placed squarely on the Chinese. Never mind the pet food folk who don't test what they tip into the mix.

Now, it strikes me that not all that long ago China was a wet fart away from mass starvation at times. They used to be a main reason the federal government subsidized the railway companies and western wheat growers in Canada. The annual Chinese wheat sales were budget makers. All that, subsidies and sales are gone now, a miracle has occurred in China. But I missed it.

Over the years since then I've seen and read nothing in the media about China's 'wirtwissenschaftwunder' in the food sector. Oh yeah a few years ago I cottoned onto the fact that Chinese 'gelatin' treats had become a big hit in some parts of Canada, and the world. Right, no big deal. But apparently China has reached a point where she has not only managed to feed her teeming multitudes, who only stopped increasing the teeming part a year or two ago for the first time ever. China has become a net exporter of food. Basic food materials like the above grain derivative for cats, but also chicken and seafood. China has become not only a producer of cheap consumables but a source of cheap food. And there lies a rub.

The chinese notion of how food should be handled has taken some time to catch up with the new mass food production facilities. What is fed to food and the additives food animals are given, are not controlled with the same rigor as they are 'here. Not that we're much better, but the Chinese can be downright lakadaisical. You can say one thing about them, however, the food bosses don't get to screw-up twice. In fact the 'handshake' they get includes a lead pill and a permanent retirement. If this was the case here, those top-dog CEO's who command millions in salaries and bonuses would deserve it - if a screw-up or a rip-off was going to cost them their lives, instead of six months on a crappy par 3.

The Chinese react a lot more quickly to criticism than our folk do. There was a mild flurry last week when some mid-level purveyors of off-brand canned food in Louisiana started a recall because somebody had suffered an attack of botulism and claimed it was from some of their chili. There's nothing like botulism to put the wind up food canners, and WalMart - the main customer. Two years worth of production was being called back.

What do they do with two years worth of canned stew and chili? Wouldn't want it in my landfill. Opening, testing and reselling to a hog operation , or the like, would cost more than getting it all back. Best to buy a warehouse, stockpile and forget it. Let some whiz-kid find it in 50 years after profits have all been taken and turned into stuff that's worth nothing.

I'll bet, if somebody really checked, there are some food sources here that fall below Chinese standards. The raids for illegal immigrants at Swift's factories are an indication that they're running on a maximize-profit basis. But, hey, those immigrants would do what they're told safety-wise, they wouldn't want to lose a steady job.

Where are we on 'mad cows'?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Staying the Course

An op-ed piece in the Toronto Star to-day by the doyenne of Canada's Great Afghan Adventure, Rosie DiManno, mourns the loss of six more Canadian Servicemen, and goes on to extol the cause which put them in combat.

Basically Rosie is saying, in her piece, that Canada is one of the few western nations who have lived up to their commitment to the 'Bonn agreement' which was the basis for to-day's Afghanistan. She denigrates those countries who 'signed on' to rehabilitate the country, but who have yet to join the fray against the 'problem areas'. This is OK, but the 'agreement' she mentions is a fairly significant one, and should be looked at more carefully.

The agreement came from a meeting of disaffected Afghan parties held after the American forces had toppled the Taliban government in 2001. Those parties meeting in Bonn represented most of the Afghan groups who opposed the Taliban - Royalists, warlord forces, Northern Alliance, socialist and democratic exiles, etc. The meeting, largely called at the behest of the US, laid the 'framework' for setting up an effective and recognized government in Afghanistan. The UN gave the agreement its blessing and NATO was called upon to assist. Needless to say, most of the agreement's parameters were put into effect: the provisional Karzai government was confirmed and internationally recognized, a constitution written and signed into law (not without controversy) and a pacification and development program initiated. The US was looking after the former, and NATO (including Canada) was doing the latter.

It didn't take long for the US forces to generate resistance to to their 'drive, shoot and call in the air strike' pacification tactics, particularly in the south and western provinces of the country. In fact the resistance developed to the point where the US started asking for more NATO assistance. The coalition forces including Britain , Australia and some others were first in, and Canada's contingent was eventually switched from development and reconstruction to combat operations in Khandahar province. The coalition (US, UK, Netherlands, Canada, et al) remains engaged in suppressing Taliban activity, while the US maintains its own, separate anti-insurgency operation and other NATO forces from France and Germany, etc. concentrate on the original reconstruction and development mission.

The original notion of the Bonn agreement, setting up a strong, centralized government, was compromised from the get-go by American support for different Afghan groups which permitted them to get a firm hold on various areas of the country, and the government, which they have since used to enhance their power bases. Afghanistan's continuing organizational problems and burgeoning opium trade can be laid in large part to this.

Outside interference - from tribal areas of Pakistan and more lately from Iran - continue to be blamed for problems that more likely have a cause of domestic nature.

Afghanistan has yet to develop an independently operating military or security force. Development and reconstruction remains 'spotty' with a preponderance around the capital and larger cities and none in areas that are not 'secure'. Transportation remains vulnerable and some aspects like hydroelectric or water management systems remain concerns for security purposes.

One overriding consideration, and particularly applying to the 'problem ' areas of Afghanistan is the proposed oil pipeline route, which has to run through Shiite and Taliban areas of the country. Without peace there can be no pipeline, and without the pipeline, Caspian Sea oil remains exactly that, only potentially useful.

So where does this put Canada? Having bought into the American-created problem of having to make Afghanistan free for democracy, Canada is stuck on the old 'cut and run' or 'stay the course' dilemma. Some pundits would have us believe that we're making a difference in Afghanistan, but what kind of difference. These six young Canadians were killed only miles from where their unit first engaged the Taliban last Fall when it was first deployed. So their six month stint has been spent pacifying an area that remains unpacified. The Vandoos take over next, and so things will continue until, at least, 2009.

Rosie notes the fact that military men are different from the milquetoast pols who put them in harm's way. The military has the gumption to hold on, while the easy bleeders might decide to pull the plug on their valor. She also mentions that the Taliban have more patience than our politicians. In doing that she hits the nub of the problem, but she misses the point. She buys into the common wisdom that, like AlQaeda in Iraq, the Taliban are a group of outsiders bent on upsetting a nice applecart, or a group of unemployed Afghans who'll take $20 for burying a bomb. When actually their patience comes from the fact that they have nowhere else to go. They live there, Panjwai and the other 'hotspots' are their homes, and the Canadians, Americans - whoever, patrolling the roads and villages, doing visits and rounding-up suspects are foreign invaders - no matter what they call themselves, or how they describe their 'mission'.

They want something out of Afghanistan. And it isn't girls' schools or a washer dryer in every mud hut. Rosie ought to take a look at why the Afghans, even the Taliban, aren't buying into our 'mission'.

Valor and military acumen there is in abundance, but there's also an element of 'seeing the elephant' just below the surface, of 'sojers doing what sojers have to do'. There's a lot of Canada invested in Afghanistan, I'm just not sure that we, or Rosie, really understand why.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Two Favourite Topics, in One

Our boys in red have run afoul of our aboriginal peoples, and possibly the press in this story of their latest adventure.

As the story is outlined a soccer victory led to the brutal and inconsiderate police pepper-spraying somebody's baby and a trip to the hospital for 30 or so formerly happy 'celebratees'.

Police claim that a patrol unit observed a pick-up truck containing a number of young people unsecured in the truck bed. leading a parade of vehicles through a Sunshine Coast BC neighbourhood. Their signals to the driver to stop were ignored, and according to the police the driver drove off the road to get around them and only came to a stop further down the road.

A video of the confrontation that ensued shows two officers talking to the driver of the truck, one Troy Mayers a member of the Sechelt First Nation. There are a number of people standing around watching or engaging the officers in conversation as they talk to the driver. At some point more police show up and the video shows the police then taking Mr. Mayers to a cruiser while the crowd chants "Bullshit! Bullshit". At one point it looks as if Mr. Mayers turns as police are trying to hand cuff him and then an individual wearing a red shirt runs up to the officers gesticulating and swearing. He gets a faceful of pepper spray and the incident degenerates from there, as the videographer seems to focus on the well-being of the interloper. There is a bit of a panic on the tape the cause of which is not evident.

The ensuing story indicates that a baby boy was also hit by the pepper spray and had to be taken to hospital. He might be the lad carried by a woman in the tape, who was fairly close to the cruiser when the red shirted-fellow appeared. A number of others also claim to have been sprayed.

It was also pointed out that this celebration was some sort of annual event for which police had previously closed roads to facilitate it.

Perhaps the RCMP will be more circumspect the next time they see what might appear to be native people having a good time and breaking the traffic laws.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

This weekend Toronto's celebration of all that is 'bent' - the annual Gay Pride Parades- tied up Hogtown's main drag. The Saturday /Sunday flash dances were the culmination of a week's workout of Church Street's sapphic and mattachine proclivities. Gays of all colours, nationalities and orientations entertained the onlooking crowds with their antics. Visitors came from all around the world in a demonstration of metrosexual solidarity.

Saturday was Dyke Day - a wahoo about everything lesbian. Bimbos with babies, the divine society for the orgiastically obese, dykes on bikes - the motorcycle mommas from heck. All lady-lovers hit the streets with their whistles and the strap-on appliances for an 'in your face' celebration of misandry.

Sunday was queer day. Buffed and polished, primped and posturing bewigged and festooned in get-ups that would have made Loretta Young envious. The boys and their toys took to the streets to flaunt their finery and strut their 'stuff'.

If one was a student of the tit, the bum or other secondary sex characteristic, there they were, on display. If one was a student of human psychology, there was a walking demonstration that Ann landers was wrong when she decided homosexuality was all-right. There is definitely something the matter with some people. Gay, they ain't. Flaunting your gayness night be a laudable, and historically definitive activity for these, some of them anyway. But if displaying sexuality is a 'healthy' activity why hasn't it been more widely acceptable among the majority heterosexuals? It isn't because, basically, it isn't.

This same weekend the Canadian Anglican church wrestling over the issue of 'blessing' homosexual unions, decided that it was better to remain Anglican than to break some new social ground, even if it meant the possibility of disobedient pastors or offending some sodomitic church-goers. Some people just can't see where Jesus even hinted that the old testament was wrong about homosexuality. For all the talk of modernizing religion really comes down to the choice of following Christ, or going your own way. Just as so many alternate sex-style folks had back in His time. No matter how many happy marriages are ordained for loving couples, it doesn't make what they do to express their affection natural, or right.

The gay creed is getting out to young kids too. There almost seems to be some sort of cachet that having a same-sex friend, one you have a sexual relationship with, is an acceptable expression of who you are. I was in school last week when a kid I taught a few years back told me that her best friend was getting married and she was in the wedding party. Then she volunteered that she and her 'girlfriend' were really that. They had a sexual relationship and the fiance 'didn't mind'. I thought she was taking the mickey to see how I reacted, obviously the other kids in the class had heard this before. I realized later that she was being serious and honest in her own way. I went back the next day and talked to her about adultery. I assume that homosexuals, if they're serious about seeking a 'religious blessing' for their activity, might still adhere to that commandment. One of the teachers told me that the number of hand-holding girl pairs in the Catholic High School this spring was remarkable. Not only is the Church teaching not being heard, the gay 'thing' is becoming acceptable. I guess if Whitney and Madonna can give each other the tongue on TV, anything goes.

I notice in the news to-day that the Dutch are undergoing the start of a bit of counter-culture in terms of how Dutch society had changed through liberalization. A Christian reform party is actually gaining ground among Dutchmen who think things have gone too far. Canada likes to think of itself as 'liberated' like the Netherlands. But, like the Netherlands, the trouble with a free-style society will start with immigration and move on from there. 'Liberty' isn't freedom at all for most people, it just subjects the majority to the whims and actions of the few.

Pride Weekend is like that, it's the PR for something that remains, in actuality, a seedy and scurrilous lifestyle where people feed off each other and the lowest common denominator is the bottom line. What used to be a hidden lifestyle is now paraded as 'normal', but it's like putting theatrical make-up on a chancre. Pride weekend is nothing of which to be proud.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Support Our Troops

Those little "we support our troops" stick-ons caused a mini flap in Toronto last week. The Mayor - a socialist type from way back, wanted the city to emphasize that, whatever powers that be had authorized the application of said stickers to public vehicles in the big smoke, were to ensure that they would be removed after the permitted year was concluded.

That was until 4 soldiers were killed riding an ATV on a resupply mission. The motion was amended, in the light of patriot love, to be an indefinite affixation and a possible extension to other public vehicles - police cars, streetcars, garbage trucks and works vehicles, etc.

Jim Coyne, who I don't think is particularly pink in his outlook, wrote a piece about getting all 'knotted up' about this matter.

I think his position eminently sensible. He pointed out that plastering on a bumper sticker, on somebody else's vehicle, is not a particularly meaningful demonstration of support for anything. The involvement in the Afghanistan 'war' is not something that was wildly popular with Canadians. It is something that was foisted on us by Mr. Chretien's and Harper's governments and which the latter has tried to give he old American 'spin' about patriotism and a war to free somebody from themselves and educate little girls. Needless to say, the ordinary infantryman, or Canadian, had little or no input. The fightin' war was a political decision and will eventually be dealt with as such.

Meanwhile the military had an opportunity to do what they've been training to do and some jumped at the opportunity. From a time when they were definitely being short-changed by government, they've been restored to their darling position as 'defenders of the nation' and freedom fighters. Not to mention that new equipment will be rolling-in gangbusters. The CAF is being 'robustly' reinforced, and an expanding army is good for career soldiers. Afghanistan ties up about 2500 Canadian personnel every 6 months. At that rate it would take some 12 years for every Canadian serviceman to do a stint on the ramparts - as the C in C would like them to do. Meanwhile, there are enough who don't go, and who won't be going, to stay behind as a rah-rah section for those who do. In Afghanistan, while it is dangerous, it is significantly more dangerous to be on the sharp end - those outside the base area wire - roughly 20 percent of the force - especially, it seems, during the break-in, and draw-down periods, or in proximity to Americans, who have a ' wild west style ' bloody-mindedness in dealing with Afghanis. In short, the Canadian military is getting an opportunity to engage in some fairly low-cost and fairly safe bang-bang for the first time since Korea.

I think that most Canadians support their soldiers. There aren't as many support the 'war'. But we're in a vicious sort of circle now with young Canadians being killed in combat, not in accidents, or in peace-keeping work. Now the 'urge to victory' is abroad, otherwise the deaths will have been 'in vain'. Never mind that that 'urge' has at best a 60% chance of eventuating in the next decade and will, during that time, require further sacrifice of young Canadians' lives. There 's every bit as much evidence from history to indicate that the 40% chance of failure might come to pass. Although, by that time, the notion of the degree of 'vanity' will have to sit, until it's scrutinized by historians.

As far as the stick-on ribbons go, they're a sop to conscience. Most Canadians don't know a soldier and wouldn't go out of their way to get to know one. We've got lives to live, and, like our friends to the south, we're doing our darnedest to make sure nothing interferes with that. $5 for a sticker is a small price to pay to seem patriotic.

At the same time, Canada claims to be a multicultural country. The rhetoric going with the war does little to divert attention from Muslims here: it's a war against Muslims - never mind that many are on 'our side', they all get tarred. I passed a newly-building mosque in Toronto to-day, every window in the place was smashed. There's little love for Muslims, particularly if you're 'supporting our troops'.

Acting public servants need to remain apolitical on the job - for their own good. If they want to put stickers on their own cars, no problem. If they want to count me in, by plastering public vehicles, they should ask me, or my elected reps, first. My patriotism, or my politics, shouldn't be prejudged or second-guessed by those I help pay, and that might include the army, too.

How are the Mounties Fallen?

The Toronto Star published a cartoon that sums up what's happened and what's going to happen to the Royal Canadian 'Horse Marines'. It's going to get some after-disaster restoration. Nothing too fundamental mind you, a thorough cleaning patching and reassembly as it was before. With new 'leadership' of course.

The current head 'honcha' Bev Busson, a product of the old Guido 'Sarducchi' school of leadership, will be taking her pension after having tidied up the mess her predecessor made of the Mounties. She no doubt has policing skills that have allowed her to rise to top command - the First female Superintendant of the RCMP, but perhaps its more in the looks department. Ever notice a resemblance to a certain 'uber frau' of celluloid fame?

Justice Minister Stockwell Day, who has never been noted to have an intellect, has decided that the 'Farce in the Force' isn't anything that can't be solved with some cosmetic changes and a PR campaign. The force first needs to find a leader worthy of his nose bag. I would have suggested someone on the order of Constable Tom of the old National Lampoon Comics. Somebody who's so honest he can actually appear stupid, or vice versa, but who looks magnificent in his red serge. As an alternative there's the 'official' cartoon mountie being blatted by the post office for kiddie stamp collectors - 'MacLean of the Mounties' - a splendid-looking, public-friendly specimen a model for many waiting their chance around hindquarters - right down to his cute little soup-strainer. Bottom line, it won't be another female. Lending herself to shaking the cereal at the top, Busson has gained femininity a black eye with the Sargent Preston types. On the other hand it will be another 'riser' who, if like the others, learned not a wit from the Force's boners and peccadillos over the years. Another 'team' player, as opposed to one of those nasty 'whistleblowers'.

They say that justice delayed is justice denied. I think the same holds true of the RCMP. It needs a makeover - including some significant -'liposuctioning' and paring to make sure that the next leadership cadre is mindful of tradition only where it can best serve the people of Canada and not necessarily the RCMP. Julian Fantino would look lovely in red, but he shares some of Sarducchi's 'divine right' traits.

Watch out for future the future adventures of the Mounted - there'll be some, because it'll still be screwed-up.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lebanon - Working up to Summer '07

There's lots of unfinished business in the Levant. Just when oodles of Lebanese Canadians were getting geared up to go back over for cousin Saleem's birthday, the trouble starts up again. This time it's AlQaeda operatives vs the Lebanese Army. Fatah al Islam, a gang of thieves headed by a former Jihadi, is holding an entire Palestinian refugee camp to hostage as it fends off the 'onslaught' of the Lebanese military.

All this to the cheers of everybody - all Lebanese, the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Americans and apparently most of the civilized world.

How, you might ask, did a gang of AlQaedists - apparently from every reprobate state on earth infiltrate and manage to set up a training camp in the close quarters of an armed Palestinian refugee camp? That's easy, Syria sent them. Why? Because the Syrians can't stand the UN tribunal into the assassination of President Hariri two years ago, and need to derail the process. So the Syrians have been supporting Fatah Al Islam to disrupt Lebanon.

Well that's a switch, because last year they were supporting Hezbolleh to disrupt Lebanon by fomenting an attack by Israel. Eminently successfully too. So they leave that aside to find a pipsqueak organization of people who hate their Baathist guts in order to do some real damage by robbing a bank. And then shooting at the cops of course.

The leader of the group who apparently is wanted all over the Arab world and has served time in numerous prisons, is now free, he claims, to strike at America. Funny thought coming from a guy who also claims he fought in Nicaragua. You can bet it wasn't as a Sandinista or there would have been some PR points raised about that. There's been nothing raised about that. This chap leads some sort of charmed existence, or, methinks, the kind that's protected by powerful friends.

The last items are not part of the current spin that this is a simple problem devised by the evil Syrians. They're part of another 'hairball' take on things that Fatah al Islam is another American cock-up.

A number of commentators note that the Lebanese seemed very comfortable with Fatah until lately. It's opined that the Americans were thinking that AlFatah was a possible counter-force to Hezbolleh, one that might have the balls to take them on. It was armed, and paid and supplied, until it started making Jihadi noises. Then the money stopped, and the dissension started.

The media has it Fatah robbed a bank and was chased down in the Palestinian camp by Lebanese security, who apparently aren't able to enter those camps with out the permission of most of the Arab world. Security forces also raided a building associated with the group in Tripoli finding large arms caches. Since then, to all intents and purposes, a bloody stalemate, punishing mostly the Palestinians, has ensued. Other sources put it out that there was no bank robbery, there was a security operation, but only due the US getting cold feet. Why? Because word of their supporting a Jihadist group was going to get out and an extreme termination seemed the best way to deal with it.

Now why, in the name of the Lord Thunderin' Jehovah is the US funding terrorists with one pocket and killing them with the other hand, or something like that? It's called divide and conquer. The US, some claim, is trying to bring on the fabled war between Sunni and Shiite Moslems in order to destabilize the middle east and make Iraq a sideshow. If the swamis are fighting each other, life will be better for GI Joes and Janes and the oil consuming nations of the free world. Somebody actually seems to think this is a sensible way to proceed.

What evidence is there? The Saudi Arabian summit last winter called for a rapprochement with Iraqi Sunnis through the good offices of Saudi Arabia. This has apparently paid off with large numbers of Iraqi Sunnis now revolting against the AlQaeda insurgency among them (according to the media). The Surge was targeted at Al Sadr city, the formerly inviolable home of the Shiites. Shiite units of the Iraqi army and police were withdrawn and replaced with Kurdish units. Now things are heating up against the Shiites with clashes in a number of places, with the Iraqi army (Kurds) leading the way.

In Lebanon the resistance has spread to another Palestinian camp in the south. It's going to be another long, hot summer in Lebanon.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Read My Lips - I Never Said that Word

They say it's not over 'til the fat lady sings. Except there is no fat lady, just a goofy ex-premier. At last the Dudley George inquiry has reached its conclusions that the OPP acted erroneously and had much to do with bringing of a critical situation. It also found that Ontario's Premier - the 'common sense guy' Mike Harris' macho maunderings might have egged them on.

Mr. Harris had much to do with a new-look OPP, a bunch of macho guys in riot gear manning the barricades between the welfare bums and the guys who counted. He must have made it clear to them where their cheques got cut, for every time his bunch of creeps in Queen's park aggravated some segment of the population, the double-blues turned out in full-force to see that no evil would befall the purveyors of public policy. Under his watch Gwen Boniface rose through the ranks and a couple of colourful chaps as well, the great conservative - "We really like Jamaican immigrants" political ploy. They certainly 'beefed out' the Queen's Park Cohort.

Mike didn't have much use for a lot of people and Indians were right down there with the whiners and other leeches living off the common weal. So, early in his premiership, when he still thought that the light of divinity illuminated his night visits to the john, the residents of the Stony Point reserve made the mistakes of:
1. Trying to take back something they believed belonged to them (Ipperwash P.P.), and
2. Mocking the police while they were about it.

Mike, according to testimony, was having none of that. He made it clear that an empty park was a precondition to any dealings with those Indians. Reputedly he said "I want those F*cking Indians out of the park".

The next night Dudley George got himself shot at Ipperwash.

There followed a number of years of premierish bullshit, quasi-testimony, fall guys and the death of the cop that did it. Mike looked like he'd dodged a bullet too. All serious and quiet, rehearsed and 'leaderly' as he lied his ass off on the stand. He should be afraid that one of the other 'browners' who was at that meeting doesn't get an attack of conscience, or he might be Ontario's first preemie to go to jail (although I wouldn't bet on that).

The libs were quick off the mark to apologize for what the Tories did - pusillanimous twits that they are. They've allowed the new ' we-shot-an-Indian, so-now-we're-all-helpless' OPP to develop. The Natives are more restless - due to the fact that the basic complaints about land claims remain unresolved. Ipperwash Park - which admittedly was taken from the Indians for training purposes in World War Two - remains a provincial park. The Feds took it away, so how did the Province get it? Worse still, why do they persist in thinking it's theirs? It ain't. Give it back!

The Province needs to do what it can to redress the lands claims in a just and equitable manner, so far they haven't done so. They've taken the 'stupid' approach giving too much with no proof and nothing at all when it suits their fancy. They should leave the discussion to the courts (even purely objective courts). If the native people have a claim, they should be able to prove it in court. If they deserve a settlement, it should be fairly-struck.

The native people of Canada deserve the opportunity to become full citizens, tax-paying productive people who have their own resources. The governments should stop treating them as wards of the state and children, keeping their belongings 'in trust' using them and paying back a beggars' pittance that makes everyone think they're dependents. It's time to move ahead.

Dudley George is long in his grave, another Indian whose fate was described by the 'whiteys' . The inquiry has found no legal culpability - because stupidity isn't illegal, and there was a ton of that flying around - on both sides. What it has done is point a finger in a direction or two that need pointing at, and some change. And it's given a direction for policy, I think; but that's being ignored, again, for politics.