Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dion Out, Mr Unpronouncable In

If Canada's current political situation isn't confusing enough with peroggies and coalitioning of the losers now the Liberals have a new leader. How will this effect the coalition? Only time will tell...

Michael Ignatieff has seized his long-sought prize – the Liberal leadership – raising fresh questions about the future of the opposition coalition that has vowed to defeat the minority Conservatives next month.

The fate of the coalition will be among the pressing issues facing Ignatieff as he prepares to take over the leadership of a party battered by cash woes, two lost elections and dismal poll numbers.
Heading into the caucus meeting expected to officially name Ignatieff as leader Wednesday morning, Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla said she feels relieved the "bitter" leadership contest is finally over.

As with her new leader, she left room for backing down on the coalition if the Tories propose a budget they could accept.

"I think Mr. Ignatieff said it best: a coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition," she said.

Liberal MP Scott Brison delivered a similar message when he used the past tense in saying "the coalition was effective" at forcing Harper "back to the drawing table."

Brison said it is clear Canadians want an alternative to Harper, but that alternative could be something other than a coalition."It’s up to Canadians to tell us what they want," he said.

He said the alternative could be "a strong Liberal party with a permanent leader in place."

LeBlanc said the Liberals should accept Harper’s invitation to give their input on the budget but also said Harper would be difficult to trust.

Late yesterday, Ignatieff paid tribute to the two candidates who had pulled out of the race and hailed the party for responding "quickly to changing circumstances to offer stability and leadership to Canadians."

The 61-year-old Liberal MP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore was assured of the leadership yesterday after Bob Rae – the last rival candidate in the race – dropped out, conceding he didn't have enough support to win in the party's stripped-down contest that left little time to sign up new backers.

Ignatieff, a runner-up in the 2006 contest that saw Stéphane Dion elected party leader, could take over as interim leader as early as today. That's when Liberal MPs and senators meet behind closed doors and are expected to make their own recommendation that Ignatieff serve as interim leader.

At the same time, the party executive were planning to conduct a hurried "consultation" with riding association presidents and various ex-officio members to solicit their confirmation of Ignatieff. He won't be ratified as full-time leader until the party's convention in May in Vancouver.

Last night, the party announced that consultations would be completed by 1 p.m. today, clearing the way for the national executive to announce Ignatieff as the interim leader by 2 p.m.

The Liberals are in a rush to have a new leader in place by the end of January, when a key budget vote could see the minority Conservatives defeated, sparking a new election or paving the way for a Liberal-led coalition to take power.

Need We Say More?

Robo-Girl Does All The Maths

Okay. This I would expect from some one in Toyko not Brampton Ontario... Then again... Have you been to Brampton? Have you been to Ontario? Robot lover? Not a bad idea perhaps.

Fem-bot's my love machine

A BOFFIN too busy to find real love has INVENTED his idea of the perfect woman – a female ROBOT. Inventor Le Trung, 33, created Aiko, said to be “in her 20s” with a stunning 32, 23, 33 figure, shiny hair and delicate features.

She even remembers his favourite drink and does simple cleaning and household tasks.

"Fem-bot" Aiko, who has cost £14,000 to build so far, is a whizz at maths and even does Le’s accounts.

Le, a scientific genius from Brampton in Ontario, Canada, said he never had time to find a real partner so he designed one using the latest technology.

He said he did not build Aiko as a sexual partner, but said she could be tweaked to become one.

but Aiko never eats anything.

Le said: “So far she can understand and speak 13,000 different sentences in English and Japanese, so she’s already fairly intelligent.

“When I need to do my accounts, Aiko does all the maths. She is very patient and never complains.”

She does all the maths?

Yeah, but what good is that if she doesn't swallow?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Taliban Bobi Dead

Generally when Canadians are killed the international press uses the term "NATO Soldiers" to describe them. I hope that this also applies below in the use of the term "NATO".

KABUL, Afghanistan – NATO and Afghan forces killed a Taliban commander during a targeted operation just south of Kabul in a province militant fighters have poured into this year, the NATO-led force said Tuesday.

The commander, Mohammad Bobi, had facilitated suicide bombings and had a history of torturing and kidnapping Afghan civilians in the province of Logar, NATO said.

Bobi was given the option of surrendering, but he instead attacked the combined force and was killed during an overnight raid, NATO said. His death was confirmed Tuesday.

Logar province, which is directly south of Kabul province, has seen an influx of Taliban militants this year. Residents there say the government has little or no control in the province outside the provincial capital.

Between 3,000 and 3,500 additional U.S. troops scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan in January will be sent to Logar and Wardak provinces, two regions adjoining Kabul that have seen an influx of militant fighters over the last year.

U.S. commanders say the troops will aggressively attack militants in those regions and that they expect violence there to spike over the coming months as the number of clashes increases.

The main highways that run through Wardak and Logar are extremely dangerous. Convoys of supply trucks are regularly attacked and militants set up temporary checkpoints in search of government employees and foreigners to kidnap or kill.

Martin Regg Cohn makes a good point in The Toronto Star. Something the pea-brains in Parliament need to think about.

Anyone who doubts the importance of Canada's mission in Afghanistan should consider the eight schoolgirls who were sprayed with acid in Kandahar last month, a reminder of the old Taliban ban on female education. Their injuries put the lie to the fantasy that education and reconstruction are possible without security.

Afghans are looking to the West for a signal that we won't abandon them again. Staying the course in Afghanistan doesn't mean sticking to outdated tactics or a discredited strategy. There is every reason for Canada and its allies to reassess where we have gone wrong, where the Taliban have succeeded, and what the Afghans themselves must to do set things right.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hippy Report Says "Taliban Everywhere, Man"

I have my doubts about this "thinktank".

The Taliban have expanded their footprint in Afghanistan and now have a permanent presence in nearly three-quarters of the country, according to a new report.

The Paris-based International Council on Security and Development, a think tank that maintains full-time offices in Afghanistan, said the Taliban have spread across much of the country and are beginning to encircle the capital, Kabul.

The group said Taliban fighters have advanced out of southern Afghanistan, a region where they often hold de facto governing power, and carry out regular attacks in western and northwestern Afghanistan as well as in and around Kabul. Taliban forces can be found in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year earlier.

"While the international community's prospects in Afghanistan have never been bleaker, the Taliban has been experiencing a renaissance that has gained momentum since 2005," the report said. "The West is in genuine danger of losing Afghanistan."

Afghanistan has seen a sharp spike in violence this year, with U.S. fatalities and civilian casualties hitting records. Some American commanders fear the Taliban will start an offensive this winter. President-elect Barack Obama has said he will deploy tens of thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, shifting resources from Iraq.

There are currently about 34,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon has announced plans to send at least 20,000 reinforcements in 2009. Obama aides have said the new administration also will work to strengthen Afghanistan's central government, judiciary and national police force.

The think tank mapped recent attacks in Afghanistan and said provinces with at least one strike per month had a "permanent Taliban presence."

Norine MacDonald, the think tank's president and lead researcher, said the Taliban, following the strategy of earlier Afghan insurgents, are slowly encircling Kabul by establishing bases close to the city and regularly attacking three of the four major roads leading out of the capital.

Ms. MacDonald said the number of attacks inside the city, including assassinations and kidnappings of Westerners and Afghans, has also increased sharply.

The group recommends that U.S. and NATO commanders minimize their use of military power, recruit troops from Muslim nations into the current American- and European-dominated multinational force and expand economic assistance.

So the Taliban are expanding and NATO should not use military power? Huh? If you had any doubt this "Thinktank" was in Paris...

There is one central problem with this report. Even if the Taliban were every where and ready to pounce... They can't fight our troops beyond the road-side bomb method.
For every "attack" they try they lose 10 men to NATO's one. In some cases NATO hasn't lost any men while killing dozens of these idiots. So if the Taliban is indeed in 72 percent of the country all that really means they're just that much closer to being killed.

Three Canadians Killed Return Home

TORONTO — Canadians will salute and wage flags from overpasses above the "Highway of Heroes" again Monday in honour of three young soldiers.

Cpl. Mark McLaren, Pvt. Demetrios Diplaros, and Warrant Officer Robert Wilson died Friday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The military flight carrying their caskets home is scheduled to arrive CFB Trenton in eastern Ontario at about 2 p.m. ET.

The bodies will then be taken to the coroner's building in Toronto along a 172-kilometre stretch of Highway 401 called the "Highway of Heroes."

The public outpouring of respect and affection along the highway has become familiar, yet the poignancy of the ritual seems to grow each time.

The deaths of McLaren, Diplaros and Wilson brought the military toll on the Afghan mission to 100.

Tens of thousands are expected to line Canada's Highway of Heroes today to pay tribute to the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan, marking both their sacrifice and the grim milestone of 100 Canadian soldiers killed on active duty there.

The bodies of Warrant Officer Robert John Wilson, Pte. Demetrios Diplaros and Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren – victims Friday of an explosive device near Kandahar – will make the now-familiar journey from CFB Trenton to a coroner's morgue in downtown Toronto.

Expected at the repatriation ceremony at Trenton are Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. W.J. Natynczk.

The military plane carrying the bodies is to land at Trenton at 2 p.m. The motorcade is expected to leave the base at around 3 p.m. and depending on traffic variables, reach Oshawa at 4:15 p.m., Scarborough at about 4:45 p.m. and the coroner's building in Toronto at about 5:15 p.m.

A Toronto traffic officer cautioned that the motorcades from Trenton usually travel 30 minutes to an hour behind schedule.

The public tributes for Canada's fallen along the 172-kilometre route have caused commentators in other countries, including Britain, to take note and wonder why its own military victims aren't similarly honoured.

Greek Anarchists On A Rampage

How is it that Greece went from being the cradle of democracy and reason to being... well... Greece?

More rioting breaks out in Greek cities

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Riot police fired tear gas at youths smashing storefronts and throwing rocks at a police station in this Greek port city on Monday, one of scattered confrontations around the country on a third day of rioting sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager in Athens.

Gangs of youths overturned trash cans and set them on fire in Thessaloniki, one of several cities where rioting began Saturday.

Running battles between riot police firing tear gas and about 400 high school students throwing rocks also broke out Monday morning in Veria, a town about 40 miles (60 kilometers) west of Thessaloniki.

Violence was reported in the central city of Trikala, where one police officer was reportedly injured, while authorities braced for more possible riots during demonstrations planned across the country, including in Athens, in the central city of Larissa and on the island of Corfu.

In the capital, high school students blocked streets across the city to protest the 15-year-old's death, while dozens of youths were still barricaded at two university campuses in Athens. Under Greek law, the police are barred from entering university campuses.

Rioting, much of it by self-styled anarchists, broke out across the country within hours of the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Saturday night in the often volatile central Athens district of Exarchia.

The circumstances surrounding the death are still unclear. Two policemen claimed they had come under attack by a group of about 30 youths, and that three warning shots and a stun grenade were fired when they sought out the group a few minutes later.

But witnesses have disputed the officers' accounts, telling Greek media that the policeman intended to shoot the youths. The two policemen have been arrested and charged, one with murder and the other as an accomplice.

About 30 civilians were reported injured on Sunday. Authorities have said 37 policemen were hurt in Athens over the weekend by objects thrown at them by protesters.

"Under the circumstances, I think we achieved the best possible result. Human life was protected, both that of the demonstrators and the police, that's the most important thing," police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said.

In Berlin, 15 Greek youths occupied their country's consulate to protest the Athens shooting, the mission said without elaborating. Berlin police say there have been no violence or disturbances. The last time a teenager was killed in a police shooting — during a demonstration in 1985 — it triggered weeks of rioting.

Schools across Athens and the neighboring port city of Piraeus will remain closed in mourning for the dead teenager.

The Police Officers' Association has apologized to the boy's family, and President Karolos Papoulias sent a telegram to his parents expressing his condolences.

"This death was a blow to the country," Papoulias said. "I am certain that those responsible will be held to account."

Violence often breaks out between riot police and anarchists during demonstrations in Greece. Anarchist groups are also blamed for late-night firebombings of targets such as banks and diplomatic vehicles. The attacks rarely cause injuries.

The self-styled anarchist movement partly traces its roots in the resistance to Greece's 1967-74 military dictatorship. The youths tend to espouse general anti-capitalist and anti-Establishment principles, and have long-running animosity toward the police.

The country has experienced frequent and sometimes violent demonstrations recently against the increasingly unpopular conservative government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which has been rocked by a land swap scandal and has struggled to push through economic reforms. The opposition Socialists are now consistently ahead in opinion polls for the first time in eight years.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How Could Anyone Refuse?

Boy George cuffed escort

SHAMED pop legend Boy George has today been convicted of falsely imprisoning a male escort.

Norwegian Audun Carlsen, 29, said the baldy musician beat him with a metal chain as he tried to escape from his flat after a naked photo shoot.

A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court found the 46-year-old ex Culture Club star – tried under his real name George O’Dowd – guilty.

The star did not give evidence but the court heard he told cops he handcuffed Mr Carlsen to his bed at his flat in Shoreditch, east London.

It happened on April 28 last year while O'Dowd investigated alleged tampering with his computer.

The singer had accused Mr Carlsen of obtaining photos of himself from his laptop, taken by the singer when the pair met three months earlier.

He told cops he did not punch or assault Mr Carlsen or swung a chain at him as the escort fled the flat.

Instead he suggested the bruises Mr Carlsen got could have been because he was HIV positive.

The defence claimed the dispute was over whether Mr Carlsen had stolen photos and, in doing that, “messed up” O’Dowd’s computer.

The suggestion it was because Mr Carlsen refused to have sex with O’Dowd on the previous occasion was “entire fantasy or a lie”, the defence said.

Mr Carlsen told the court O’Dowd concocted the story about computer tampering so he could punish him for not having sex during the first meeting.

He said: “I think he couldn’t handle the refusal - me not having sex with him.”

A shamed pop star. Is there any other kind?

Dion's Speech Didn't Help His Cause

Stephane Dion as Mayor Tommy Shanks

Imagine... Canadians don't like the idea of the three losing parties taking over the Government. Colour me shocked. I think really the Canadian word for what the Libs, NDP and Bloc-heads are doing is pronouced "CHEATING" and the collective revulsion to it is akin to having someone score a goal while being offside and not getting called on it.

Prime Minister Harper has mounted a crushing polling lead as the result of a political crisis in which an opposition coalition sought to take power, a new survey showed on Friday.

If an election were held now, Harper's Conservatives would take a whopping 46 percent of the vote, more than enough to transform his minority in Parliament into a strong majority. In the October 14 election they received 37.6 percent of the vote.

The main opposition Liberals, the leftist New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, which wants to take Quebec out of Canada, signed a deal on Monday to try to replace Harper with a Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc.

They were upset with Harper's attempt, since withdrawn, to cut off direct subsidies of political parties and they also said he was not doing enough to boost the economy. During the election campaign, they had ruled out forming coalitions.

Harper mounted an attack on what he called a coalition driven by separatists and socialists, and public opinion swung his way.

Liberal support dropped to 23 percent from the 26.2 percent they won in the election and the New Democrats saw their backing fall to 13 percent from 18.2 percent.

An Ekos poll released the night before showed a lead of a similar magnitude, of 20 points, for the Conservatives.

Fifty-six percent of those polled by Ipsos Reid said they would rather go to another election, even though one was just held, rather than let the coalition govern.
Harper won seven weeks of breathing space on Thursday with the suspension of Parliament until late January, when he can present a budget with economic stimulus.
The coalition could try to bring him down then, though some Liberals are saying they should think hard before doing that.
Ipsos sampled 1,001 people, a sample which should carry a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Happy Birthday to His Majesty The King

Today marks His Majesty's 81st Birthday. With Thailand's many political troubles and challenges I really hope that his reign continues for many years to come. If you've ever lived in Thailand you'll understand that sentiment. He is without question the most stabilizing factor in the turbulent world of Thai politics.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harper Hangs In

The Press is spinning this as a bid to keep power. Imagine the nerve! After being elected an everything too.
What no one seems to be mentioning is that a large part of why the losers of the last Federal Election have ganged up is because the Conservatives were going to cut all public funding (about 28 million tax dollars) to political parties.

Harper hangs on as PM, shuts Parliament

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a stay of political execution - at least until January.
Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament on Thursday, delaying a non-confidence vote scheduled for Monday that would have brought down his beleaguered minority Conservative government.

The House of Commons has gone dark until Jan. 26, when Harper will return and present a federal budget the next day - followed by a confidence vote.

"Today's decision will give us an opportunity - I'm talking about all the parties - to focus on the economy and work together," the prime minister said outside the front door of Rideau Hall.

The decision also sets up the prospect of a fierce battle with the opposition coalition for public support over the coming weeks.

Jean agreed to Harper's unprecedented request after a face-to-face meeting at the vice-regal residence that lasted more than two hours.

Rather than parliamentary tradition, Harper pointed to public opinion polls as the source of government's ongoing legitimacy in the face of a stated absence of confidence in the House of Commons.

"This government was recently elected with a stronger mandate and, according to the polls that I've seen, the people of Canada believe that we should be able to work to fulfil our mandate," he said.

The decision pulls the teetering minority Conservative government back from the brink, at least for the moment.

"We must realize the enormity of what has happened here today," said Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, standing in the foyer of the Commons.

"For the first time in the history of Canada, the prime minister of Canada is running away from the Parliament of Canada."

All opposition leaders insisted they still intend to bring down the government. Dion said only a "monumental change" by Harper would have any hope of altering that.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the coalition will not be abandoning its accord over the next seven weeks while the Commons sits in silence.

"I do not see that changing," Layton said.

"I cannot have confidence in a prime minister who would throw the locks on the door of this place, knowing that he's about to lose a vote in the House of Commons. That's denying about as fundamental a right as one has in a democracy."

The Bloc's Gilles Duceppe had a similar reaction. "We don't believe him and we don't have confidence in him."

But buying time may well work in the prime minister's favour, with cracks in the unwieldy alternative governing alliance are already evident.

At least two Liberal MPs suggested it's time to step back and reconsider the coalition.
Dion said Harper is putting partisan politics ahead of the best interests of Canadians, and accused him of "paying lip service to co-operation and consensus."

After the Oct. 14 election, Harper spoke of the need for all parties to work together for the common good.

But he then precipitated the crisis with the provocative economic update Nov. 27 that contained no stimulus package, killed public financing for federal political parties, and banned public sector unions from striking for two years.

The opposition coalition had asked Jean to refuse to prorogue, arguing that Harper no longer enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons.

A petition signed by 161 MPs went to the Governor General on Thursday morning stating that "a majority of Members of Parliament . . . believe that a viable alternative government can be formed."

The Conservatives hold just 143 of the 308 seats in the Commons.

Harper and Dion TV

I managed to catch a bit of Dion's sales pitch on the Coalition of the Losers last night. I have to say that it was challenging to listen to. What exactly was he saying? The coalition is good... It works in other countries... Such as? Italy? Mexico? Togo? And on and on in broken English that was actually more annoying to try to listen to than old Jean Chretien was. At least Jean was amusing. Dion was just unintelligible. I missed Harper's speech altogether so I have no commentary on how he sounded.

Once again this comes back to the same old Canadian issue; East (the coalition - Liberal, NDP, The Bloc) verses West (The Conservatives).

Here are the transcripts of Harper and Dion's TV presentations.

Harper visits Governor General to ask for suspension of Parliament

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has arrived at Rideau Hall to ask the Governor General to suspend Parliament until January.

It's a bid to avoid Monday's non-confidence vote that would bring down his minority Conservative government.

Harper set up the meeting with Michaelle Jean by telling Canadians in a televised appeal that the opposition coalition represents a threat to the economy - and democracy.

But he admitted no errors in political judgment.

Nor did he offer any new measures - such as moving up the date of the budget to deal with the economic crisis - to placate the opposition.

About 40 chanting supporters, including Conservative staffers, greeted Harper as he arrived at Rideau Hall.

A single anti-Harper demonstrator stood waving a sign reading: "Harper Must Go."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prorogue This

With the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc all lined up to form a coalition the Tories may shut things down until the new year.

For many Canadians, it's a term they're not familiar with but have come to know all too well in the last week: proroguing Parliament.

It appears to be the option Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading towards, as he rushes to save his fragile minority government in the face of the coalition agreement with the Opposition.

But just what does it mean?

Proroguing Parliament is a lot like rebooting your computer after you've finished working. You're essentially starting with a clean slate uncomplicated by all the programs you may have been into before you hit that restart command.

It's the period between two sessions of a legislative body, although it rarely happens just weeks after an election has been held.

If the PM gets permission from the Governer General to prorogue the current session, it means all the MPs who were elected last October 14th will remain in place, but any unpassed bills or motions - like the controversial economic statement that started this mess - will be non-existent.

In effect, when the session starts again, in this case in early January, it would be as though the Conservatives never brought in the document and they get a second chance at presenting a new one.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to do just that, bringing down an early budget if the P.M takes the prorogue position and Michaelle Jean agrees to it.

She's cut short her mission to Europe to be here, and it's expected Harper will ask her to end the session. But Jean has to agree, and the fate of what happens next falls squarely on her shoulders.

She can deny the P.M's request, force a new election or approve the controversial coalition forged by the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc, depending on what she believes is best for the country.

Many Canadians are openly questioning the wisdom of letting a de facto bureaucrat no one voted for decide such a vital issue, but under our system, it inevitably falls to her. It's not yet clear when her ruling might be issued, but stay tuned. As Lewis Carroll noted in "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland," things are getting 'curioser and curioser' in Ottawa.

PAD Wins (For now)

The political crisis in Thailand is over for the time being. This doesn't mean things can't go pear shaped again in a few months. For now though the Thai Government has been dissolved and the protesting PADs have left the two main airports.

A Thai International Airways flight to Australia on Wednesday was the first international flight in a week to leave Bangkok's main airport after protesters ended their crippling siege to bring relief to tourists.

The end of the blockade came a day after the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) claimed victory against premier Somchai Wongsawat, when a court barred him from politics and disbanded the ruling party.

Officials said 388 passengers were on the Thai Airways flight to Sydney that departed from Suvarnabhumi Airport, most of them Australian tourists who were among the 350,000 travellers stranded in Thailand for the past eight days.

"It's really good to go back home," Australian Brad Wheeler told AFP as he waited for the Sydney flight, which left nearly 90 minutes late due to problems getting passengers from a makeshift check-in desk in central Bangkok.

A handful of domestic flights and a plane from Jordan also trickled in to the airport, while international departures to New Delhi, Narita, Frankfurt, Seoul and Copenhagen were due during the night.

Hundreds of yellow-clad demonstrators had earlier streamed out of Suvarnabhumi and the Don Mueang domestic airports in cars, taxis and buses after the PAD handed over control to authorities.

"We will come back when the nation needs us," warned Somkiat Pongpaibul, a key leader of the PAD.

Thai authorities concentrated Wednesday on getting the airport up and running following a week in which governments around the world have operated emergency flights to evacuate desperate tourists.

Until Wednesday they were being ferried slowly out of a naval base southeast of Bangkok and a handful of regional airports.

"We will try and get everything back to normal as soon as possible," said Airports of Thailand chief Vudhibhandhu Vichairatana.

Damage from the occupation had not yet been estimated, Vudhibhandhu said. But Thai Airways said it alone had lost about $560 million.

Acting Prime Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul said parliament would likely vote on a new prime minister on Monday or Tuesday.

"In the next two weeks I think we will come again," said protester Pas Apinantpreeda.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tories Face Coalition

The problem with Canada's electoral system is about to be clearly demonstrated. Even though the Tories won a "minority" their rule may end as of December 8th if the NDP (aka commies), Liberals (aka thieves) and Bloc (aka traitors) form a coalition to replace them.

Liberal MPs are expected to receive on Monday the outline of a Liberal-NDP coalition agreement that would see the two parties replace the minority Conservative government.
Details of the agreement were being fleshed out Sunday night.

Under the proposed deal, the NDP would hold 25 per cent of cabinet positions while the positions of finance minister, treasury board president and deputy prime minister would be held by Liberals.

The deal would reportedly last 30 months.

The Bloc Québécois would not officially be a part of the coalition, but the new government's survival would depend on its support.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion has shown the outline of an agreement between his party and the New Democratic Party to Liberal leadership candidates Michael Ignatieff, Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae.

The Liberal caucus is meeting Monday and will discuss the proposed agreement.
What remains unclear is who would lead the coalition.

"The real obstacle to this deal going through is still within the Liberal party," CBC's Keith Boag reported, adding the deal is being negotiated by Dion, who believes he has the right to be prime minister.

But it's unclear whether the party wants him to continue, and the leadership candidates met Sunday evening to discuss the matter, Boag said.

The National Post reported that a deal has been worked out that would make Ignatieff, who has the support of a majority of Liberal MPs, the prime minister in a Liberal-led coalition, with Rae being named to a senior post.

But in an interview with CTV's Canada AM, Rae said there was no discussion at the meeting among the leadership candidates that someone other than Dion would lead the coalition.
However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper could still block coalition efforts by proroguing Parliament, that is, suspending it without dissolving it. That would mean his government could not be defeated in the current session of the House of Commons.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hostages Killed

This is unfortunate but not unexpected. These murdering nutcases don't take "Hostages" in the traditional sense. Their singular aim is to kill.

Commandos who stormed the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group found the bodies of five hostages inside, an Israeli emergency medical crew said, as a fresh battle raged at the luxury Taj Mahal hotel and other Indian forces ended a siege at another five-star hotel.

More than 150 people have been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital starting Wednesday night, including 22 foreigners — two of them Americans, officials said.
Early Friday night, Indian commandos emerged from a besieged Jewish center with rifles raised in an apparent sign of victory after a daylong siege that saw a team rappel from helicopters and a series of explosions and fire rock the building and blow gaping holes in the wall.

Inside, though, were five dead hostages.
A delegation from Israel's ZAKA emergency medical services unit entered the building after the raid and reported through an Indian aide that five hostages and two gunmen were dead, a ZAKA spokesman in Israel said. The spokesman had no information on the hostages' identities or whether there were wounded inside.

Jewish law requires the burial of a dead person's entire body, and the mission of the ultra-Orthodox ZAKA volunteers is to rescue the living — and in the case of the dead, carry out the task of gathering up all collectable pieces of flesh and blood.

By Friday evening, at least nine gunmen had been killed, one had been arrested and as many as six were still in the Taj Mahal, said R. Patil, a top official in Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is the capital. He said more than 150 people had been killed and 370 injured.

Bangkok Airport Stand-Off

The Airports in Bangkok are still closed. This might get uglier. How unfortunate.

No surrender

The government indicated on Friday it would try to talk protesters out of the Bangkok airports without using force - but the demonstrators sneered at a request from a high-ranking official to leave and claimed they would "fight to the death" against any police attack.

The state of emergency declared by the embattled cabinet of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat sparked widespread fears that any attempt to use force to clear Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports could spark a bloody confrontation with the anti-government activists.

Airlines began flying stranded air travellers out from Utapao naval base on Friday. But there are tens of thousands of passengers who have missed flights from the four days of unrest that have badly hit Thailand's tourist industry and Utapao is a Vietnam war-era base with few tourist facilities.

Somsak Kosaisuk, a core leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, told a crowd of yellow-shirted supporters occupying Don Mueang airport: "We are not afraid. We will fight to the death, we will not surrender and we are ready."

Top PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang told reporters that "a senior person in the country" had telephoned to ask him to move his protest out of Suvarnabhumi airport because the closure has severely damaged the economy.

Maj-Gen Chamlong boasted he had told the senior person that he will halt all rallies - if the prime minister resigns.

Anti-government activists braced for an assault Friday night. They extended barbed-wire cordons to about three kilometres around Suvarnabhumi, and blocked the few access roads, witnesses said.

Police say around 4,000 protesters from the PAD are occupying Suvarnabhumi for a fourth day.
The international community openly criticised Thai officials on Friday. At a meeting called at the Foreign Ministry to "explain" the situation to ambassadors, the foreign envoys called on the government to clear the Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports as soon as possible.

Police began planning what they described as an open operation to reclaim the airports.
Bangkok police chief Pol Lt Gen Suchart Muankaew said after a video conference with the prime minister that he will begin with peaceful means, and try to talk the demonstrators into leaving, but with plans to escalate action.

Before any operation, he will invite representatives from the National Human Rights Commission, the Lawyers Council, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the media to a meeting to give advice. He would allow live television broadcasts of any police operation, to counter any possible charges of brutality.

No Vegans Allowed

This is where I want to 10-51 !

Just south of the Phoenix Metro area at 6185 W Chandler Blvd. in Chandler, Arizona. (South-West corner of Kyrene & Chandler) Our hours of operation are Monday - Saturday 11am - 9pm and Sunday 11am - 4pm.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


As much hand wringing as there as been (and I have done myself) about Obama and what he might do/not do regarding Terrorism (which far too many folk seem to think isn't "real") I would suspect the events in Mumbai and what ever super secret stuff the President Elect is now privy to will be a wake up call. Unless he's a complete moron like Jimmy Carter.

Chabad House in Mumbai Attacked

Eight Israelis held by terrorists in Mumbai Chabad House

Indian commandos and police were evacuating civilians and cordoning off the area apparently in preparation to storm the Chabad House in Mumbai, India, where a rabbi, his wife and several other Israelis were being held hostage, according to IBN, an Indian news agency.

Chabad spokesman in Israel, Moni Ender, said there were eight Israelis inside the house, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg.

Several other Israelis were reportedly being held at the Oberoi Hotel, Israel Radio reported.

Newscasters were calling it the "final assault" on the Nariman House, where Chabad headquarters are located, adjacent to the Leopold Cafe, a major tourist center in Mumbai's Colaba area, which was also attacked Wednesday night.

According to a report by Reuters, the terrorists have expressed their desire to negotiate with the Indian government for the release of the hostages. The government, however, has repeatedly stated that it will not negotiate.

Several senior Indian police and security officers have been killed in the joint attack, which has caused police to take more cautious measures before storming the Chabad House, said Indian reporters.

Earlier, Reuters reported that one terrorist had been killed by Indian special forces in the Chabad House, but four others still remained barricaded inside, where they were holding off efforts to reach those inside.

Sky News reported that a loud explosion had been heard at the Chabad House. There was no official word as to the cause of the explosion, which could indicate the onset of an attempt to storm the compound.

On Thursday morning, Moshe Holtzberg, the toddler son of the Chabad emissaries, was rushed from the house in the arms of one of the Chabad House's employees, Sandra Samuel.

"I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out," said Samuel, 44, who has worked as a cook for the center for the last five years.

She said that the rabbi and his wife, along with two other unidentified guests, were alive but unconscious.

"Pray that we should hear good news," urged a Chabad spokesman, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, in a telephone conversation with The Jerusalem Post from New York in the early hours of Thursday morning, Israel time.

Shmotkin also said that the gunmen had seized a police vehicle, which allowed them access to the area around the Chabad House.

Joshua Runyan, the news editor of the website, told the Post that there had been "several reports that shots were fired in the vicinity of the Chabad House, and unconfirmed reports on CNN of casualties in the Nariman House." Nariman House, Runyan said, was the original name of the Chabad House, which was purchased two years ago.

Runyan, who is in Jerusalem, said that a friend of the rabbi's had received an email from Holtzberg, unrelated to the attacks, at around the time of the attacks or shortly before they began, but that there had been no contact with Holtzberg since. "Since then, we've been trying all the numbers," he said.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem confirmed that hostages had been taken in the Chabad House area. The ministry had yet to make contact with some 20 Israelis in the Mumbai area.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke with the Israeli consul general in Mumbai, who briefed her on the attacks, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. According to the statement, the ministry and the consulate were making "maximum efforts to ascertain the situation of the Israelis in the city as quickly as possible."

Livni sharply condemned the attacks, saying, "This is further painful evidence that the terrorist threat is the greatest challenge which Israel and the international community have to face. Nothing justifies the unforgivable slaughter of innocents."

Indian news agencies reported that three people were killed in or close to the Chabad House. The dead were not hostages, the reports said.

Phone calls by the Post to the Chabad House and to the Holtzbergs went unanswered late Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Friends of the Holtzbergs placed messages on various Internet sites appealing for information about them.

Israel Radio reported that consulate staff were visiting local hospitals. Runyan said the Chabad House was a popular tourist destination and that "Israelis regularly come by and visit."

In an article on the Web site, Runyan wrote that "Chabad-Lubavitch representatives in New York and Israel are working alongside the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the US Consulate in Mumbai and a volunteer team of local residents to ascertain the well being of the Holtzbergs and other Jews in the area."

He added: "People are urged to say Psalms for Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma and Rivka bas Yehudis, and anyone affected by the tragedy."

Attackers "Foreign"?

Apparently the terrorists who attacked Mumbai weren't from India. What a shock that is. Especially since all the other attacks were done by non-Indians. Let's see... What country might they be from? I'd guess it starts with a P and ends with a stan.

Mumbai Attackers Based Outside Country

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the perpetrators of coordinated attacks on the financial capital Mumbai were likely based outside the country.

Mr. Singh addressed the nation Thursday a day after heavily armed men attacked 10 sites in the city, killing about 100 people and wounding about 300. Without specifying another nation, he said he will tell "neighbors" that the use of their territory for launching terrorist attacks will not be tolerated.

As Mr. Singh was speaking, Indian security forces were moving through two luxury hotels, The Taj Mahal Palace and the Oberoi-Trident, in an attempt to free hostages and find remaining gunmen. Gunfire and explosions were heard from the hotels, and another fire broke out at the Taj after an earlier blaze caused serious damage to the historic building.

Police were also trying to resolve a standoff at a building belonging to a Jewish group, Chabad house.

Wednesday night, groups of assailants with machine guns and grenades attacked several locations popular with foreigners and business people, including hotels and train stations.

Witnesses said gunmen were looking for U.S. and British citizens.

Local media report a previously unknown militant group, called the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility. The term Mujahideen is associated with Islamist extremists, while Deccan may be a reference to the Deccan Plateau - an area of southern India.

Islamic militants have been blamed for past bombing attacks.

Among those reported killed in the attacks were Mumbai's anti-terror chief, Hemant Karkare, and at least 11 policeman. Foreign nationals, including an Australian and a Japanese citizen were also killed.

Police say at least four gunmen have been killed and nine arrested, but it is not clear where these encounters occurred.

Please send in the S.A.S.


Thailand's political problems continue.


Authorities have officially declared Suvarnabhumi airport closed until Saturday at 6pm at the earliest.

Agriculture Minister Somsak Prisananantakul told reporters the special Cabinet meeting held in Chiang Mai declared emergency laws will apply in and around both the closed Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

Meanwhile, growing numbers of tourists, business executives and government officials are stranded by the severed transportation links between Thailand and the rest of the world. Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat was reported stranded in Germany where he was on a private visit on Thursday.

Some flights have continued through provincial airports but the main bulk of the 75 flights per hour through Suvarnabhumi have been cancelled.

The emergency decree orders the police to restore order and gives the military the right to help to "restore order, allow the suspension of civil liberties, ban public gatherings of more than five people and bar the media from reporting news that causes panic."

The military thus can clear out and reopen both airports, which were attacked, occupied and closed by the People's Alliance for Democracy on Tuesday night and Wednesday respectively.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Airport Closed

I believe (and I may be wrong) that the King has TOLD the Army not to Coup. I wonder at what point he'll have a talk with the Government and PAD. Hopefully soon.

Army helpless

The government on Wednesday rejected a "suggestion" by army chief Anupong Paojinda for the prime minister to resign, and the protesters who seized and closed Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday similarly declined the general's demand to leave the airport.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, meanwhile, returned to Thailand without incident through Chiang Mai airport. He spend the past week out of the country to attend the Apec summit in Peru, and the PAD was trying to block his return.

"The prime minister should dissolve parliament and call a snap election," Gen Anupong said. "The prime minister should think about the benefit of the country, and so should the PAD," he said.

But he tempered the demand, just as he did a month ago when he also told Prime Minister Somchai Wongbsawat to step down.

"We will not seize power from the government," said the army commander. "We are just making a suggestion and will let the government decide.

In that case, said spokesman Nattawut Saikuar, the government will stay on.

He spoke by telephone to Channel 3 news and said, "The prime minister has said many times that he will not quit or dissolve parliament because he has been democratically elected. That still stands,"

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) gave an equally dismissive shrug to Gen Anupong's demand that they call back their protesters and reopen Suvarnabhumi.

Mr Somchai must resign, PAD leader told cheering supporters inside the airport terminal.

The government "must quit first before we sit down and talk," he said.

PAD ideologue Suriyasai Katasila said flatly that the group would stay at the airport until it could discuss the matter among members, and rejected the general's demand.

Gen Anupong's strong stance against a coup gave him no leverage in trying to handle the situation, and he has time after time been reduced to little more than another helpless spectator.

Late last month, he attempted to intimidate Mr Somchai into quitting by appearing with other service commanders, the supreme commander and the national police chief on an evening TV news programme, but Mr Somchai simply ignored the demands to quit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bangkok's Airport Closed

Airport closed, shots fired

"For the safety for passengers, we have to stop flights out of the airport temporarily until the situation returns to normal."
Suvarnabhumi airport manager Serirat Prasutanon at 9pm Tuesday evening.

Protesters rushed into Suvarnabhumi airport and forced a halt to all flights on Tuesday, as rival forces clashed at outside, as well as on the road from Don Mueang airport where two people were wounded in the first exchange of gunfire between the PAD and UDD.

"I can confirm that there were gunshots," a police colonel on the scene said.

"There was a slight clash and two people were wounded."

In the eastern suburbs, protesters of the People's Alliance for Democracy - some masked, some armed with metal rods - rushed into the main terminal, startling thousands of passengers and staff. They forced airport officials to shut down operations and cancel all outbound flights indefinitely. Planes on their way to Suvaranabhumi were still landing late on Tuesday.

Some Russian Predicts End of USA (again)

You'd think Drudge would know better than to post up this rubbish but it is amusing.


A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Because when you think of "Political Analysis" Russia is the first country that springs to mind. Right after Togo.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

If this guy was right, and he's not, and everything "collapsed" I'd say the standard of living would still be HIGHER than Russia. So shut up, Ivan.

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events.

Yes. And Global Warming looks best in the summer too.

When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: "It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator."

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: "Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia."

Right. Of course. China. Because they don't have any bad debt at all. And Russia. Right.

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."

But what about the "HOPE"?

He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

The influence of Canada??? That statement proves this guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all." Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.

Sure, claim that too. You've already claimed most of the North Pole. By the way, how are those oil prices?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bangkok Protests

Major protests in Bangkok.

Parliament paralysed

Protests on Monday forced parliament to cancel its planned joint session, and left anarchy on the streets from Government House all the way to the old Don Mueang airport.

The People's Alliance for Democracy declared victory, but failed to gain its objective. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resolved to stay in office, and the military showed no sign it intended to seize power.

More than 5,000 protesters led by PAD leaders Sondhi Limthongkul, Piphob Thongchi and Somkiat Pongpaiboon were still gathered in front of the parliament building on Monday evening. Traffic lanes were closed around the venue, as more protesters were expected to join the mass rally.

The protesters also cut off electricity to the parliament building and the Chart Thai party headquarters.

Suriyasai Katasila, PAD coordinator, said the siege would continue until parliament goes into recess or government MPs abandon their attempt to amend the constitution.

"May victory be with the people," PAD leader Somkiat Pongpaiboon chanted.

But from the Apec summit in Peru, Mr Somchai said he no intention of resigning, because the government emerged from democratic elections.

If the government has to be forced out, it should be done by the parliamentary election or the general public in a ballot, he said.

He said the global economic crisis was more important than the protests.

"The situation in Thailand at the moment is small - only a single location in Bangkok, and it has not significantly destroyed the country's economic foundation," claimed the prime minister.

"We have to talk and try for reconciliation," he told a reporter from the Reuters news agency.

An estimated 18,000 flag-waving demonstrators split up throughout the capital. They hijacked buses, fanned out in running protests through the central part of the city, and even wound up outside the new government offices at Don Mueang.

Six armed men claiming to be PAD security guards hijacked a public bus at gunpoint in front of the army’s Survey Department in the Nang Lerng area not far from Government House.

Police confronted the hijackers, and shot out the tyres of the bus. When it ground to a halt, the six men were arrested and police seized knives, a shotgun and ammunition.

House speaker Chai Chidchob called for calm and announced the postponement of a joint parliamentary session which was supposed to consider legislation needed for the Asean summit to be held in Chiang Mai beginning in December.

"I ask for all sides to stop the movement now. If you love the king, please return home," he said on parliament radio.

He was forced to call off the scheduled parliament sitting because elected MPs and senators could not enter the building. Police did not confront the protesters as they did last Oct 7, when a tear-gas assault killed one person.

The yellow-clad PAD protesters marched through the Ratanakosin district, waving Thai flags and holding aloft portraits of His Majesty the King.

Monks joined the protest, which supposedly was aimed at toppling the government. Black-clad volunteer PAD security guards wielding homemade batons protected the crowd.

Market Tipsy

Here's a free market tip for all you would be investors out there. Only pay attention to the last half hour of the market day because everything before that looks like a good old fashion game of Pong.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mars Invades Alberta

"Across two hundred million miles of void, invisibly hurtling towards us, came the first of the missiles that were to bring so much calamity to Earth..."

They're here...

Reports of meteor streaking across Prairies

A bright light lit up the sky around 5:30 MT Thursday evening in Western Canada, with people reporting sightings in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

People telephoned the CBC newsrooms in Edmonton and Calgary to talk about what they saw.

"It was a really big flash, lit up the sky, and there was this huge, flaming fireball falling from the sky," said Rowyn Windsor, 12, who lives on the Canadian Forces base in Cold Lake, Alta., about 350 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

"This huge light in our kitchen window lit up our whole kitchen," said Sabrina Schneider, who lives just outside Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. "It kinda flashed a couple of times. It was really bright. It was a different light than lightning.

"We weren't really sure what happened ... got up to look out the window, and all of a sudden, we heard this rumbling."

Schneider said her sister saw the meteor while she was driving past North Battleford, Sask.

Torey Van Vam was driving north from Redcliff, Alta., outside Medicine Hat when he saw a bright white streak.

"As it got closer to the ground, it was more visible as a ball of white light with green around it. And as it got really close to the ground, it turned kind of orange, and I'm pretty sure it went straight to the ground," he said.

Bev Ully, who lives on a farm near Unity, Sask., was watching TV when she saw a light through her west-facing living room window.

"It was just like there were headlights right outside the window and that something was moving. It wasn't just one big, bright flash. It was several flashes," she said.

Ully said her daughter in Brooks, in central Alberta, had told her she had seen the light as well.

The fireball was also visible in Edmonton. Kim Wingrove was driving in the city's west end when he saw something in the sky.

"I saw this large orb shoot across in an east-southeast direction, on a very steady trajectory," he said. "It was very, very big. And I've seen a lot of shooting stars from all the world as I travelled, but I've never seen one so large. It was very bright yellow, with hints of green in it. It stayed in the air ... for about two to two and a half seconds."

Alister Ling, an Edmonton-area amateur astronomer who is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, recorded the fireball using equipment from Alan Hildebrand, a meteorite researcher at the University of Calgary.

"When it flares out on the tape, you can see there's several of these multiple flashes, and that's when it's probably partly blowing up, which is also a really good indicator ... that there's multiple stones that have come down," he said.

He said anyone who sees a fireball with their own eyes has a hard time judging where it came down, because fireballs stop glowing when they are 50 kilometres above the earth.

Ling said he will be consulting with other astronomers in Alberta, who will look at tapes from a local network of cameras and assess eyewitness reports to try and figure out where the fireball may have landed.

Although its early in the process, he thinks it may have fallen somewhere in central Alberta, and there could be search parties out looking for chunks as early as this weekend.

"Who knows," he said. "We might be really, really lucky."

Yah, wait until the lid of the Cylinder unscrews...

Thailand Not For Sale to "Middle Easterners"

I'd like to know which Middle Eastern countries they're worried about and which part of Thailand is being bought up.

Somsak: Middle East hunting for Thai land

The minister of agriculture is hoping to persuade the Cabinet to issue a law preventing excessive land grabbing by Middle Eastern groups.

Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Somsak Prissananantakul revealed his ministry has received reports of groups from Middle Eastern countries collaborating with large agriculture firms in Thailand to grab up farm land through mass-buying and renting of farmers' land. Mr. Somsak said this would lead farmers to their downfall.

The agriculture minister said his ministry is not idly sitting by and preventive measures against land grabbing are being sought.

According to Mr. Somsak, the issue would be brought up for discussion at a Cabinet meeting so appropriate laws on land rent or ownership could be laid down. One idea would be limiting holding of land to 50 rai per person.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bomb Attack in Bangkok

More violence directed against the Anti-Thaskin/Anti-Government group PAD. Wasn't the 2006 Coup supposed to prevent this sort of thing?

Bangkok bomb

At least one anti-government protester was killed and 24 were wounded in a pre-dawn bomb blast Thursday inside a demonstration site in Bangkok, emergency services said.

The bomb went off at 3:28am in front of a stage at Government House compound, which protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have occupied since late August.

Twenty-two demonstrators wounded by the explosion were taken to four nearby hospitals, emergency services said. One later died and 11 were still in a serious condition, they said.

"It's a powerful bomb, so far one has died. We are still waiting for forensic officials and for PAD permission to go into Government House," local police commander Colonel Somchai Chueyklin told AFP.

An emergency medical official speaking on condition of anonymity also confirmed that one man had died.

"Ten are in critical condition at (army-run) King Mongkut hospital, one serious at Ramathibodi hospital. The man died at Ramathibodi hospital," the official said.

The protesters have vowed not to leave Government House until the government, which they accuse of being corrupt and a proxy for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, steps down.

There was no immediate comment from the anti-government alliance.

The months-long stand-off erupted into bloodshed on October 7 when police fired tear gas at the demonstrators, sparking clashes that left two people dead and nearly 500 injured.

A number of small blasts have also rocked the protest camp at the complex, injuring several people.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Canucks Remember in Kandahar

Canadian veterans honoured in Kandahar

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The dark sunglasses worn by some family members of fallen soldiers yesterday to block out the unfailingly bright desert sun could not hide the flow of tears that streamed steadily throughout the bagpiper's mournful song.

For nearly half an hour, families of six slain soldiers had held back, looking pained but stoic during a Remembrance Day ceremony as Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, the commander of military troops in Kandahar province, outlined the specific gains that each soldier's death helped the military enable.

“They need to be reassured that everything that they put into this country, their blood, their family, is not a waste,” Gen. Thompson said.

The parents of Private Mark Graham, a former Olympic sprinter who was killed horrifically by friendly fire – an American fighter jet bombed a Canadian camp they mistook for insurgents – during the infamous Operation Medusa in September, 2006, were told that the place their son died has been rehabilitated into a wellspring of life.

“Mark lost his life in an area absolutely infested with insurgents who had forcibly evicted thousands of local villagers for the sake of their philosophy,” Gen. Thompson said. “Today, two years later, Mark would not recognize his battlefield. Schools are operating, local governance is prospering, and infrastructure is being built …A major coalition forward operating base has been constructed on the very spot that Mark lost his life.”

The family of Private Blake Williamson, killed in October, 2006 in the volatile Zhari district, was assured by the General their son died in what was then “without a doubt the most dangerous part of Afghanistan.” Today, the region is a “stability box”, he said.

The area of northern Kandahar province where Cpl. Randy Payne lost his life in April, 2006, is now secured and serves as a key access route linking Kandahar province to Uruzgan; nearly 1,000 troops were recently anchored in dangerous Maiwand district, the wild-west of Kandahar province where Private David Greenslate fell in April, 2007. They are disrupting the insurgent supply lines emanating from nearby Helmand province, the General said.

After he extended similar assurances to the families of Cpt. Matthew Dawe, killed in July of 2007, and Pte. Michel Levesque, who died in April, 2006, each family was invited to lay wreaths at the airfield's Canadian war memorial, a marble-tiled structure carved with the names and faces of all 97 soldiers our country has lost so far here.

With the bagpiper playing, they rose from their seats family by family, some clutching hands for support, most looking as if the act of placing their wreath deepened the ache of their loss rather than easing it. That is when tears began to flow.

Still, the families – flown to Afghanistan by the military as part of Remembrance Day tradition – said spending the day close to the spots where their sons breathed their last breaths was somewhat cathartic.

“Being here and just feeling the air … hearing from the Afghan people and hearing what has happened here since Mark has passed away has made a huge difference,” said Linda Learn, Pte. Graham's stepmother. “It really puts a different picture in my mind about Afghanistan. We had a picture of where he died. Now we know that there's roads and marketplaces and bazaars and schools,” she said. “It doesn't bring him back … but it does bring some comfort.”

Peter and Reine Dawe, parents of Capt. Matthew Dawe, took their visit one step further – the pair asked to see and sit in the actual vehicle their son was killed in. Mr. Dawe called the process “traumatic”, although his wife said it helped her feel closer to her son.

Thai Senate Finds Police in the Wrong

Hope for Thailand. The Government finds out it just can't shoot a people who disagree with them.

Senate finds police, govt guilty

Senate panels on Tuesday found the government and police guilty of violating human rights for the crackdown on the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on October 7.

The Senate committee on human rights, freedom and consumer protection chairman Somchai Sawaengkarn said violent crowd dispersal tactics - which left two people killed and more than 400 people injured - could have been avoided.

Mr Somchai also said government officials could have used alternative routes to enter parliament while meetings could have been postponed or relocated.

“The committee sees that the incidents reflected the guilty party’s lack of discretion and their inappropriateness of using weapons to disperse people,” the senator said.

He added the actions carried out by the police followed the cabinet’s resolution on October 6 to allow the government to announce its policy at the parliament as scheduled. Therefore, the government and the Royal Thai Police must be responsible for the damage done.

“Police officers did not negotiate with the protesters but instead used tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets against them, causing many injuries. Their acts infringed on the Declaration of Human Rights and were more than necessary,” Mr Somchai said.

Mr Somchai said a budget consideration of 56 million baht for victims was inadequate and unjust.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Burn in Hell

Who's smiling now, Jackass? Yes the Bali Bombers are dead. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Relief in Australia as Bali bombers executed

Australian victims of the Bali bombings and their families expressed relief Sunday after the execution of three Islamists for the attacks, but said they were still struggling to cope with their grief.

"It's just utter relief," survivor Peter Hughes told CNN on the news that bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra had been killed by an Indonesian firing squad shortly after midnight.

Hughes, who sustained horrific burns after a suicide bomber detonated himself within metres of him, said the executions took him back to the moment the first bomb went off and he found himself surrounded by burning bodies.

"We had to fight for life pretty hard back then and it's been a struggle every day since," he said.

"So from my perspective these guys set about mass murder and they've paid the highest penalty."

But he added: "It doesn't feel good."

Trent Thompson, whose brother Clint was among the 88 Australians killed, said he would have been happy if the bombers had lived long, miserable lives in jail but he was pleased they would no longer be able to spread their views.

"I guess the overwhelming feeling isn't joy because they're dead, but it's definitely relief that we don't have to continue with the circus," he told national news agency AAP.

"It hasn't bought anyone back. Everyone is still dead."

Yes and unfortunately there's someone they DIDN'T execute. Old Bashir the Nutter.

Become terrorists, cleric urges

AS the Bali bombers prepared for their executions, radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir urged Muslims in their home villages to follow them as terrorists.

After visiting the bombers' mother Tariyem in this tiny rural hamlet, Bashir emerged to praise Mukhlas and Amrozi and fellow bomber Imam Samudra as Islamic heroes who had brought honour to themselves and their families.

"Their fighting spirit in defending Islam should be followed,'' the ageing bearded preacher said.

"We will win the fight in this world or die as martyrs.''

Appearing before a large banner featuring photos of the condemned men at the hastily established "Heroes Who Fight For Islam Media Center'', Bashir said he was both sad and happy at the same time.

"Even if they are murdered, they will die as Islamic martyrs,'' he told the small but noisy crowd of mostly unemployed young men and curious locals.

In a rambling speech, the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group promised his impressionable audience that everything would be good for Mujahid (Islamic fighters).

Bashir also conceded that his brand of radical Islam, which is followed only by a tiny minority in Indonesia, faced an uphill battle.

Officials visited the family on Friday night to make final arrangements for the bombers' last journey.
Ali Fauzin, the younger brother of Amrozi and Mukhlas, travelled to the prison yesterday to deliver the shrouds that the bodies will be wrapped in before being flown back to their home village by helicopter.

The executions were expected to be carried out overnight

Friday, November 7, 2008

Raja Petra Kamaruddin Freed

This is good news out of the increasingly over-Islamic Malaysia.

Malaysia's top blogger released from detention

Malaysia's leading blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, was Friday released from detention under controversial internal security laws after a court ruled the government had no right to hold him.

Raja Petra, a vocal government critic who had been held at a notorious detention camp since September, wept and embraced his family after being freed by the Shah Alam High Court.

"I'm realy glad it's over. I'm really tired. The judge's decision proves that there was no justification for my detention," he said, calling for an end to the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial.

"We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished," he told reporters.

Looking haggard and dressed in a brown T-shirt and jeans, Raja Petra was garlanded by dozens of supporters outside the court before stepping into a maroon Rolls Royce provided by a supporter to ferry him home.

"It's a great day for human rights and fundamental liberties," said Malaysian human rights commissioner Denison Jayasooria.

"The executive must use the ISA only in situations where there is a real threat to national security," he told AFP.

Raja Petra, founder of the popular Malaysia Today website which has outraged top leaders with its stream of critical stories, was detained in September for writing articles that allegedly insulted Islam.

His lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said the High Court ruled earlier Friday that Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had acted outside his powers by ordering Raja Petra to serve two years in detention without trial.

"The judge ruled that the circumstances which existed at the time that Raja Petra was detained did not satisfy the threshold conditions under the ISA," he told AFP.

Malik said it was the first time a court has ordered the release of an ISA detainee since 1989, when courts were barred from interfering once a detention order has been signed by the home minister.

"It is certainly an historic ruling and a profound moment for civil liberties in this country," he said, while adding that the government can appeal the decision.

Opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang said the ruling "sustains hope that basic judicial decency, independence and integrity have not been completely destroyed, despite two decades of judicial darkness."

He called on the government to "fully respect" the verdict and "slap down any trickery or stratagem to frustrate the judicial decision, such as a re-arrest."

Raja Petra is best known for his articles on politics, and had already been charged with sedition and defamation for linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.

But he was also accused of threatening public security and causing racial tension by inciting hate in his articles on Islam -- a serious offence in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

There has been a rash of detentions in recent months under the ISA, which allows for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial.

Raja Petra was detained on the same day as opposition lawmaker Teresa Kok and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, both of whom have since been freed.

Tan's arrest in particular caused a furore as she had merely reported on racist comments from a ruling party member who was subsequently suspended by the United Malays National Organisation.