Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dudleigh Donut is Striking Again

The trial of the century - Canada-wise at least - has opened in British Columbia. It involves a fellow called Picton who is being held up as the murderer of enough prostitutes to make the Green River guy only seem like Jack the Ripper. Not only is he reputed to have murdered them, he also butchered them and fed the bodies to his hogs - we hope. He certainly marketted his pork to 'us'.

The RCMP has been involved in this one from the get go. Since he was 'busted' they've dug up and screened most of the soil on his 'farm'. Pre-trial information in the press is that they have DNA evidence linking some of the missing women to his farm site - blood, and other fluids, clothing, etc. It appears there might even be eyewitnesses to some of the events. Body parts have neen found on the site, and some have been tied to parts found in other areas of BC. The evidence that killings were done there seems to be fairly strong, but doesn't prove, so far, that Picton did them.

Now I don't know the guy from Adam, but if there had to be a poster boy for mass-murder this guy looks the part. If what the media says is correct, the case looks like a 'slam dunk'. But then the realization dawns that the Mounties are involved, and all of a sudden the niggling notion that there's a cluster-fuck in the offing bubbles nastily in the back of the mind.

Let's face it, aside from bagging drunken Natives, the boys (and girls) in red have a miserable track record. And they've cost the Canadian taxpayer millions because of their ineptitude. The bikers in Quebec, Mulroney's bribes, the Air India fiasco, Arar - all those 'open and shut' cases went south because either somebody was incompetent or dishonest, and the results were costly in time, resources, embarrassment and punitive lawsuits. A confession from Picton would have been a great assist. But, even given his limited intellectual capacities, Picton refused to do that. That's where the 'investigative skills' came into play, and, possibly, where normal procedure, and Picton's rights, went out the window.

Picton's lawyers are going to beat the police around the head and ears with that - they already have the lead investigator admitting he's a liar. (Qualification: He's not an ordinary liar, he's a professional liar - it only happens as part of his job... with bad guys. So help him Gawd!)

They're going to need all 'Gawd's' help they can get, and probably incontrovertable evidence that Picton did it.

If it depends on police testimony alone, they should be taking up a collection among themselves to cover his lawsuit.

Gawd help us all.

Big Bro IS Watchin'- Apparently

Just in from bowling tonight and a fellow in my league, who does some business with the US, called me over and told me that, somehow, his business contacts had gotten wind that I sent him an e-mail inviting him to check out this blog. They weren't happy, and, as it involves money for him, he was asking me not to refer to my blog in any future e-mails.

I can understand his concern about the money, but I don't get how he can accept some 'intelligence-gatherer' in the great land of liberty reading his e-mail. Not only reading what he writes, but what his contacts write. Talk about guilt by association. And what association? He never even read the stuff I write, but some 'intelligence-gatherer' in the great land of liberty obviously has.

I guess if packages in Boston, and truck cabs with extra east indians in Texas aren't around every day, you have to find 'intelligence' somewhere. How about on them neo-liberal commies' rastafarian jihadist blog sites. Gawd, just drifting the mouse across one might change the chemistry of yer vital bodily fluids! It certainly wouldn't change any true believer's mind, but it might make some of the others think. I doubt that too. This blog line has been going on since last spring and so far I've had two feedbacks posted - so it's not like I'm knotting underwear.

I correspond with a couple of military opinion sites and had one poster, on a US site, a retired cop from Nova Scotia, remark that I was a "notorious liberal blogger" - so maybe he read some of my diatribes, but he left no mark of his passing either.

As far as I'm concerned, this is just another indicator of the American 'mentality' that, if you don't want to play the game their way, they'll take the ball and all the other equipment and go home. It's too bad that we sleep so close to the elephant that we have to kiss its backside goodnight on a regular basis. It's almost a pity that we changed our focus of trade from Britain - at least we expected the aristos to screw us. The Yanks are a different sort - We're your bestest friends. Don't you like us? You do! OK, bend over.

Maybe if those 'intelligence gatherers' weren't so busy protecting our way of life, they could get one of their own and maybe become a little less self-centred and paranoid. It might just change the world.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

He Had an Honest Face

In the news the story of Travis Smith, former Regina football player charged with failing to disclose his AIDS positive status with two 'girlfriends'. The media posit this as a 'groundbreaker' in terms of the fact that the two silly bints involved maintained fairly long-term relationships with Smith, that he did, at least initially, wear condoms as a step toward safeness and that they didn't become infected, at least by him.

The AIDS lobby is out in full cry about "criminalizing a disease". And some of the rest of us can only wonder.

AIDS is a death sentence. Never mind the fact that one might live for a protracted period on some sort of medically-induced reprieve system, AIDS, or one of its oppportunistic off-shoots, is going to put you in your grave. AIDS is nothing as 'normal' as its sufferers, and their sympathisers, would have us believe. It is a killer, and it continues to spread at a consistent rate - entirely due to behaviours.

While society doesn't 'criminalize', or even legally restrict, diseases - if one can ignore restrictions imposed on some during the "SARS crisis"- society is not reticent about jailing people who suffer from diseases that impact their behaviour. Alcoholism is considered to be a disorder, but driving a car, twice, while in its throes will net you a jail term. A bank-robber with kleptomania is going to jail irregardless. Jails are full of schizophrenics. Someone with AIDS, who rapes a female child in the hope of 'being cured' will go to jail - nor for being an AIDS sufferer, but for the rape. And so the case before us. Travis Smith insisted on riding bareback, and even told a little white lie, or two, in order to do it. He should go to jail.

Of course the defence is pointing at the incredible stupidity of the two complainants as mitigating circumstances. Obviously not only men are afflicted with crotch-oriented mental processes, these 'ladies' depict themselves as some sorts of 'sperm banks'. Criminal stupidity comes to mind as well. We don't criminalize it, but we sure to punish criminal activity resulting from it. Tieing up the courts for a tort from a tart verges on this. If there are any people on earth who should realize that exposing oneself to repeated injections by a 'hopefully clean' member met in a bar is risky, it should be such as these. They testify that they were aware, asked, were lied to and allowed Cap'n Highliner to come on board anyway. That's freaking incredibly stupid. These two are future welfare cases, if they aren't already.

Thank goodness we're not all that bad. I wouldn't have wanted to be playing ball with this clown, and I note he's no longer doing that. I don't know if I'd want to be married to him, either. His wife must be a saint, or simply worse than these 'bimbae'. He screws around, and he has AIDS, and he drags it all into court. His attorney describes him as "30-year old married father of two, who has no previous criminal record", just an every-day Joe being 'picked-on'.

But then I shouldn't be 'dissin' his manhood, he does have an honest face.

Monday, January 29, 2007

HEEERE's Johnny!

In the words of the inestimable AH-nold, " I'm bach."

Back from the workers' paradise of the Caribbean and a lovely week of sun and odd-tasting omelets. The weather was superlative, the booze intoxicating and the week went by too fast.
Cuba is still easy-going Cuba, the people are still very pleasant and amicable. Where I was, they were obviously more expectant of the 'teep', but that's only because everybody seemed to think it was OK to be giving one for every door that got opened or drink slid along the bar.

Not that there's anything wrong with tipping - but at places like this one - huge - the staff was constantly being rotated from one job to another. Tipping a bartender for continued good service was no guarantee that you were going to get it from his replacement the next day. There were only two bars I noted with the same staff - the pool bar, and an evening only spot featuring a 'juggling' artist. There was also a cigar-room bar, but I didn't happen across it until the day before leaving. By the same token, not tipping someone you thought you could get it later raised the prospect you might not see that person again if they were shifted to restaurant or other duties. They should have a - 'tip station' at the main desk - divided among all the employees and you could do something special for those who really went out of their way for you.

The Cubans were being quite thorough in regard to security and immigration procedures. They were actually opening bags to check out stuff in luggage. They had sniffer dogs walking through the crowd, too. Canada, on the other hand was an exercise in 'show'. The security checks were perfunctory - or maybe it was because the dame 'doing' me had to take her break. Her replacement assumed she'd checked me, or thought I had an 'honest' face. Coming back was simply ludicrous.

Customs and immigration at our airports exists to check documentation for immigrants, foreign visitors and returning residents. Because there is no differentiation in this process, it can be a cock-up. There were hundreds of travelers who descended on the clearing hall, all at once, from a number of arriving flights. There weren't enough immigration officers on duty and lines for each were 60 plus in length. Timing indicated an average of 40 seconds per document check - ie a wait of 45 minutes to get through the passport check. Outside was a 'temporary' gantlet of 6 more armed immigration agents who were scrutinizing travelers and steering some off for more detailed examination, although how they were doing this was in no way apparent. No communications devices and no signal equipment from the scrutiny wickets - I think they were playing 'choosies'. The young guy ahead of me was sent 'down the hall' but he 'looked' like a potential suspect. Smugglers play hit and miss. Hand luggage isn't checked, if there was any sniffing going on, it was outside in the cold. They've got the inconvenience part of the heightened security pretty well in-hand. I'm just not sure the effectiveness matches it.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Cinco del Ienero, who'd a thunk it. The new year's five days along and I haven't noticed much different than the old year.

The weather certainly isn't. We had a green Christmas here, where I live. That's fairly remarkable, ours are traditionally at least 2 feet white. If you've ever experienced one of the brown Florida Christmases with the spray-on green stuff to make it look nicer you'll know how 'cheery' green can be. No matter how much green spray they use it still looks likle a bad 'colorization' job on a vintage b&w movie - the kind where the actors are 'colorized' but the background has been left alone. Or if you've seen a dismal, frozen, grey Toronto Christmas that seems like Steven King's 'Dead Zone', green can only be good. It was really 'green' here - north of T.O.! With the exception that the deciduous trees had all deciduated and were their winter shade, and the ground that russet-brown of fallen leaves. The grass was positively Irish.

And thus it has continued. Aside from a couple of heavy frosts - incuding a spectacular Christmas Eve event that gave a 'lustre of mid-day' and a semi-white Christmas morning - the temp has been balmy. Yesterday had to be a record high for January 4th. It's interesting to see all the chalky arms and 'ligs' sticking out of shorts and T-shirts. But the touques and winter caps are still de rigeur.

The daily rag to-day posits, under a snappy photo of somebody teeing-off, that '07 will the "warmest year ever". It also claims a link, citing some Brit scientists, to Al Gore's pet concern 'global warming'. Our dear chums to the south would pooh-pooh and naysay this malarkey, if it wasn't for the fact that there's some pretty weird stuff happening down there as well. Massive blizzards out west and Christmas tornadoes out east. Funny 'freezes' in some places and it just has to be hot down south, ain't it? Where does the Great White - or this warm part of the Great White - get all its warmth, if not from 'down south'? A snowy Christmas this year in Australia. The washed-out and tree-trashed west coast. It seems that falling lumber is becoming a more prevalent problem. I can never remember a lot of that when I was growing up in the ice age, but I'll bet there's a buck to be made investing in chain saws.

There is something different going on with the Guvmint. Late last fall our PM Harper, proposed a 40 year plan to tackle Canada's production of greenhouse gases. By 2050, he assured us, we'd have a plan to plan to bring this problem under control sometime in the future. Well I guess a lot of Canadians who been noticing the increasing odour of Acapulco in the Canadian atmosphere, the proliferation of wild pineapples, and having caught a dekko at Al Gore on TV, said "Whoa! What's that?", and made the PM reconsider. Anyhoo, he has replaced the only sitting member in parliament who could be described as a 'rare exotic beauty', with the poster boy for hair gel and bad dentures as Minister (Ministress) of the Environment. It's a good choice because the former minister realized how boneheaded the policy was and found herself unable to defend it. No prob with the new guy, he could defend buggery as a popular sport! Like many neo-cons, he's master of 'non-answer' positive statement creativity - whatever that is. Looks like we won't be getting the old California standards back on vehicles for another decade, at least.

I smell election in the air! The war chest is full. Afghanistan is in the middle of the papers. The economy hasn't hit any real bumps. The minimum wage is going up two-bits. Income tax changes to 'moolahfy' the geezers, capital gainers and thirty-somethings. The Libs are still trying to figure out what they can come up with that's innovative - without being totally ridiculous. And the new 'Greens' are having their planks pilfered. God's in His heaven and our resident jihadis are being still. The gay nation is pleased. The Quebec 'nation' is pleased. The 'first nations' can be safely ignored. It's not like winter weather would slow campaigning. Go for it - strike while the iron is hot, and receive a mandate to effect some serious change for your big business buddies. But there's nothing really new about that either.

Lotteries remain BIG with Canadians. A pre-Christmas rash of 'winners' and a couple of big pots over the holidays, has us out getting our 6-49's and Lucky 7's. Hope springs eternal, and most of us 'spring' for tickets anyway. A related story this week tells of group of retired Canadian high school teachers who hit the jackpot when their Florida trailer park was valued at 1/2 BILLION dollars by some condo developer. If they sell out, they could almost afford to buy one of the new condo units. I can't figure why a bunch of retired teachers would want to spend a lot of time together, anyway. Their staffroom must have been a 'barrel of fun' - most aren't. Or perhaps they're into reminiscing about great lesson plans of yesteryear. Or, more likely, they're 'swingers'. At any rate, if the deal goes through as planned, they will be rich. Happy New Year.

As one New Year's prognosticator put it, "Whatever happens in 2007, it probably could have been worse." I hope it's better than 2006.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Swinging Single

This ain't about 'the scene', it's about the hanging - Saddam Hussein's hanging.

There are a lot of people who think he got what he deserved, some of them with some justification insofar as he, or someone acting for him, did some actual damage to them, or their families. Most in this category, however, are justified only in their imagination. Saddam never affected them, but, on principle in their minds, they have every right to be as bloodthirsty as if he did.

There are also some, in probably much lesser numbers, who see the situation antithetically. There the folk who think that Saddam is to-day wallowing up to his bruised neck in nubile houris.

I think I fit in the middle, somewhere. He certainly did some things "for Iraq" by which Attila the Hun might have been impressed. Even removing the hyperbole factor, there are just too many stories of his outrages to be ignored. He certainly deserved to be punished. But did he deserve to be hanged?

There is a sentiment that he was 'shut up'. That Saddam was an embarrassment to the US, Britain and others who had been among his former supporters. Saddam seemed to be able to handle himself in the courtroom - he outlasted two judges during his first trial. What we got to see of his antics were severely condensed and edited. I wonder just how much the Iraqis were shown? Somehow I can't imagine him not telling that court about the good things America has done for him. Like I can't imagine any statements like that actually getting out of that courtroom.

His execution is what one might have expected in some third world outlaw state. The hangmen wore terrorist balaclavas and were dressed in street clothes. The sound track hinted at what some old style 'lynchings' might have resembled. It was a circus. That some people to-day are writing about the abruptness, or the notion that it was sectarian pay-back, or even that the US wanted him gagged, permanently - is due to the way his sentence was executed.

This item appeared to-day. It's source is Robert Fisk the english journalist.

Monday, January 01, 2007

We've shut him up.

The moment Saddam's hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad on Saturday morning, Washington's secrets were safe.

The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember.

And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead.

Gone is the man who personally received the CIA's help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union's influence in Iraq. Saddam's mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment - extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.

There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 - both he and the US administration believed the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border - and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq's military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad - at America's request.

"Mr Fisk... at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon," he said. "There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments - thousands of them - all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!"

I was with Saddam's forward commandos at the time, under Iranian shellfire, noting how the Iraqi forces aligned their artillery positions far back from the battle front with detailed maps of the Iranian lines. Their shelling against Iran outside Basra allowed the first Iraqi tanks to cross the Karun within a week. The commander of that tank unit cheerfully refused to tell me how he had managed to choose the one river crossing undefended by Iranian armour. Two years ago, we met again, in Amman and his junior officers called him "General" - the rank awarded him by Saddam after that tank attack east of Basra, courtesy of Washington's intelligence information.

Iran's official history of the eight-year war with Iraq states that Saddam first used chemical weapons against it on 13 January 1981. AP's correspondent in Baghdad, Mohamed Salaam, was taken to see the scene of an Iraqi military victory east of Basra. "We started counting - we walked miles and miles in this f***ing desert, just counting," he said. " We got to 700 and got muddled and had to start counting again... The Iraqis had used, for the first time, a combination - the nerve gas would paralyse their bodies... the mustard gas would drown them in their own lungs. That's why they spat blood."

At the time, the Iranians claimed this terrible cocktail had been given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians were right. The lengthy negotiations which led to America's complicity in this atrocity remain secret - Donald Rumsfeld was one of President Ronald Reagan's point-men during this period - although Saddam undoubtedly knew every detail. But a largely unreported document, "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War", stated that, prior to 1985 and afterwards, US companies had sent government-approved shipments of biological agents to Iraq. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax, and Escherichia coli (E. coli). The Senate report concluded that: "The United States provided the Government of Iraq with 'dual use' licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-systems programs, including... chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment."

Nor was the Pentagon unaware of the extent of Iraqi use of chemical weapons. In 1988, for example, Saddam gave his personal permission for Lt-Col Rick Francona, a US defence intelligence officer - one of 60 American officers who were secretly providing members of the Iraqi general staff with detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning and bomb damage assessments - to visit the Fao peninsula after Iraqi forces had recaptured the town from the Iranians. He reported back to Washington that the Iraqis had used chemical weapons to achieve their victory. The senior defence intelligence officer at the time, Col Walter Lang, later said the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis "was not a matter of deep strategic concern".

I saw the results, however. On a long, military hospital train ride back to Tehran from the battlefront, I found hundreds of Iranian soldiers coughing blood and mucus from their lungs - the very carriages stank so much of gas that I had to open the windows - and their arms and faces were covered with boils. Later, new bubbles of skin appeared on top of their original boils. Many were fearfully burnt. These same gases were later used on the Kurds of Halabja. No wonder Saddam was primarily tried in Baghdad for the slaughter of Shia villagers, not for his war crimes against Iran.

We still don't know - and with Saddam's execution we will probably never know - the extent of US credits to Iraq, which began in 1982. The initial tranche, the sum of which was spent on the purchase of American weapons from Jordan and Kuwait, came to $300m. By 1987, Saddam was being promised $1bn in credit. By 1990, just before Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, annual trade between Iraq and the US had grown to $3.5bn a year. Pressed by Saddam's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, to continue US credits, James Baker, then Secretary of State, but the same James Baker who has just produced a report intended to drag George Bush from the catastrophe of present- day Iraq - pushed for new guarantees worth $1bn from the US.

In 1989, Britain, which had been giving its own covert military assistance to Saddam guaranteed £250m to Iraq shortly after the arrest of Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft in Baghdad. Bazoft, who had been investigating an explosion at a factory at Hilla which was using the very chemical components sent by the US, was later hanged. Within a month of Bazoft's arrest, William Waldegrave, then a Foreign Office minister, said: "I doubt if there is any future market of such a scale anywhere where the UK is potentially so well-placed if we play our diplomatic hand correctly... A few more Bazofts or another bout of internal oppression would make it more difficult".

Even more repulsive were the remarks of the then Deputy Prime Minister, Geoffrey Howe, on relaxing controls on British arms sales to Iraq. He kept this secret, he wrote, because "it would look very cynical if, so soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds, we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales".

Saddam knew, too, the secrets of the attack on the USS Stark when, on 17 May 1987, an Iraqi jet launched a missile attack on the American frigate, killing more than a sixth of the crew and almost sinking the vessel. The US accepted Saddam's excuse that the ship was mistaken for an Iranian vessel and allowed Saddam to refuse their request to interview the Iraqi pilot.

The whole truth died with Saddam Hussein in the Baghdad execution chamber yesterday. Many in Washington and London must have sighed with relief that the old man had been silenced for ever."

From what I've read, Fisk appears to be a very involved type who is anathema to the right wingers out there. He's an Israel, and America, -basher and has raised the ire of many. Is he 100 percent in this screed? I don't think so. But there is a whole whack of history that will be written someday about Saddam Hussein and our dealings with him. We'll probably hear some of this again.