Monday, November 30, 2009

Bad day at the bookshop narrowly averted

As the profile picture shows, Walt rarely visits the barbershop. But in our little town that's where you go to get down a bet on a sporting event. Like the Grey Cup. For my American friends, that's the Canadian Football League championship, kind of the Canadian equivalent of the Superbowl. Yes, quiet, understated and often played in fog or snow.

The weather was bright and clear in Calgary yesterday afternoon, and the Montréal Alouettes were clear favourites to beat the defending Saskatchewan Roughriders [Rough Riders? I can never remember... ed.] Which made Saskatchewan Walt's bet. Always for the underdog!

Montréal trailed 14-3 at the half and 20-10 after three quarters. Loud huzzahs were heard across the broad prairies under the dome of the big sky [that's enough. ed.] But things looked bad for the bookies. Not only did Montréal not look like beating the spread, they appeared set to grab the umber end of a straight bet at long odds.

Suddenly it's the last 10 seconds of play. Montréal has closed the gap to 27-25. A TD try fails! But the Als have position for a field goal attempt. Damon Duval boots it...wide! The gun fires! Pandemonium erupts! [Does it ever do anything else? ed.]

But wait... ... ... There's a flag on the play. Whatever can be the matter? Saskatchewan has...gasp...too many men on the field! Count `em! 13!!! The unluckiest number...

Duval gets a second chance and kicks the ball 33 yards, high, straight and true, for the 3-pointed. Als win 28-27. Silence is heard [how? ed.] in Macmahon Stadium. And a sigh of relief is heard in bookie joints and betting parlours in Montréal, Woodbridge and, perhaps, Las Vegas.

Pardon me now. I have to go blow my nose. Something smells.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dead woman's husband cleared, murderous moose suspected

Walt can't resist passing on this story, which appeared on the Net this morning...

Inspector Knut Kneckr of the Swedish police arrested Ingemar Westlund, a sexagenarian, for killing his wife. Agneta Westlund, also a sexagenarian, was found dead in a forest near the matrimonial home, after failing to return from an evening stroll.

Now the unfortunate widower has been released, after police decided the culprit was most likely a moose. Well, not a moose as we know it, but a European elk, still a rather large animal. A police spokesman Ulf Ockme said "the improbable has become probable", but declined to go into details about what might have transpired.

Expressen, a Swedish tabloid, reported that hairs and saliva from a moose were found on the victim's clothes. Police would not immediately confirm that, and declined to speculate on rumours that the elk was horny. "Those are antlers," Ockme said, "not horns".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Helping the poor Africans: another view

The hopelessness of Africa and the futility of foreign aid are themes that I've taken up three times in the last two months. Click on the "foreign aid" tag to go to my posts of October 20th, and November 11th and 18th.

In these posts I've recommended and quoted from excellent books by people who have lived in Africa and have seen through all the hokum put out by the "agents of virtue", as Paul Theroux calls them. Today let me add to the bibliography Kalashnikovs and Zombie Cucumbers, by Nick Middleton. (1994, Sinclair Stevenson, London; paperback by Orion, 1995)

Middleton made two lengthy trips through Mozambique before and after the 1992 peace accord which ended the long and bitter civil war between the communistic Frelimo and the white-backed Renamo. ("White-backed" doesn't refer to the colour of the soldiers' skins. It means supported by Rhodesia and South Africa.)

He describes Mozambique, before and after, as a place where the West runs into the heart of black Africa -- a country where the Kalashnikov meets the zombie cucumber. Those interested in obscure but potent drugs will find details of what the zombie cucumber is and how it affects you. Middleton does not tell us how to import them.

The part of this "anti-travel" book which bear on the subject of foreign aid show the contradictions of the modern business of doing good. Let me offer just a snippet:

"There are all sorts of motivations for foreigners to give things to...developing countries. In many casees there is certainly altruism... But there is often a degree of self-interest in the generosity too.

"Some aid workers...were not convinced that what they were doing was ultimately necessary, although they would never say as much on the record. When I asked one top employee of an international agency how much longer he thought his aid programme should continue after the ewar ended, he shrugged and said, 'Sometimes I think there was never any need. It's the need of the international community.'"

Kalashnikovs and Zombie Cucumbers ought to be read by the do-gooders at CIDA (see previous posts) and all those labouring under the delusion that foreign aid and charity will magically save Africa from itself.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sign seeing on the freeway

Sitting amidst the fumes while six lanes of traffic crawl along at 20 mph, turning what should be a 90-minute trip into one of three hours, leaves one with little else to do but read advertising painted on trucks, bumper-stickers...anything. OK, so I'm a print junkie. So sue me.

Seen today...

Bumper sticker on a Chevy Yukon:
Lost your job yet? Keep buying foreign!

On the cab of a Volvo tractor, said cab being tilted forward to allow access by an obviously frustrated driver:
Volvo quality sucks! ... over a picture of a lemon.

There is a transport company called Fluke Transport. Sure enough, one of their trailers bears this legend:
If it's on time, it's a Fluke!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

If Hitler was a hockey fan

If you're not a hockey fan, you can check for a new post tomorrow.

If you are a Habs fan, check out Hitler finds out about Kovalev, and Hitler reacts to Koivu's departure. Want more? Hitler finds out about the Habs free agency.

If you're a member of the Leaf nation (are there any left?) have a look at Hitler loses hope in the Leafs.

Like the Sens? Hitler finds out he is now the Ottawa Senators mascot
and Hitler reacts to news that Dany Heatley turned down a trade.

And there's more: Hitler finds out the Canucks signed Sundin.

Thanks and a tip of Walt's chapeau to Agent 4 for recommending these great videos.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ben Stein talks about Christmas and God

Agent 6 kindly passed along the following screed, which someone had sent him. In fact this has been circulating around the internet, usually at this time of year, for 3 or 4 years, and I've seen it before. I'm happy to post it, but before doing should add a small caveat.

Maybe I'm becoming overly sceptical about stuff I read on the Net, especially e-mail FWDs, but I've been burned before and thought I'd check this one out on, a very useful "debunking site".

Ben Stein does commentaries occasionally on Sunday Morning, on CBS-TV. This one "Confessions for the Holidays", was delivered on 18 December 2005. However, the version circulating on the Net includes a coda (shown in blue) combining a TV appearance by Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of TV evangelist Billy Graham) made just after 9/11, and the false claim that the son of child care expert Dr. Spock committed suicide. So take the whole
cum grano salis, but keep in mind Mr. Stein's sensible thoughts about religious holidays.

My confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?'

Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc...I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.
Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass this on if you think it has merit. If not, then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard these thoughts, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

UPDATE for Christmas 2013: If you want to know what you can do to remind people of the real meaning of Christmas, check out the "'Keep Christ in CHRISTmas' challenge" submitted by Coralie Graham, editor of the Fatima Crusader, published in WWW on 12/12/13. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Freedom of information...well, SOME information...Ontario-style

Getting information out of Canadian governments and their agencies has never been an easy thing. The federal government of "Call Me Steve" Harper has rightly been called the most secretive and controlling in history. But the federal Tories have their counterpart in the Ontario Liberal government of Haltin' McGuinty.

Trying to find out what's going on in Ontario's ministries, departments and crown agencies is like trying to pry state secrets out of the Kremlin. (Come to think of it, doesn't Queen's Park look a bit like the Kremlin?)

Whatever the Ontario government is doing, especially where our tax dollars are involved, they don't want us to know about it. Here we see McGuinty, flanked by the Ministers of Tourism and Finance, in conference on allegations of wrongdoing at the Niagara Parks Commission. (See "Power to the people of Niagara" in Walt's blog of October 29th.)

Thanks to pressure exerted by Preserve Our Parks (of which Agent 3 is a member), Bob Gale (a former commissioner) and Bill Windsor (a would-be business partner), the three unwise monkeys were finally coerced, earlier this year, into appointing an "independent" firm of auditors -- KPMG -- to look into the allegations of mismanagement, nepotism, favouritism and corruption.

In July, KPMG submitted a draft report. On page 3 we find this disclaimer: This draft has been prepared and is intended solely for Ministry of Tourism's internal use...and may not be edited, distributed, published, made available or relied on by any other person without KPMG's express written permission.

Presumably "any other person" includes the taxpayers who have paid 1000s of dollars for the auditors' work. Certainly the Minister, Monique Smith, was adamant in refusing to provide copies of the report or any part of it to anyone. Yes, anyone...including the MPP for Niagara Falls, Kim Craitor, who asked for a copy only to be told it was confidential and he couldn't see it. And hey, Craitor sits on the same side of the house as Minister Smith!

So steamed was Kim that he threatened to make an official request under the FIPPA, Ontario's freedom of information law. While he fumed, investigative reporter Anthony Reinhart of the Globe and Mail actually made the request, and was rewarded with a heavily redacted [censored! ed.] version of the "draft" report.

Reinhart's story, "Probe uncovers ethical breaches at Niagara Parks Commission", includes links to the KPMG report as well as the Ontario government's internal auditors' report into the NPCs procurement procedures...or lack thereof.

The text of the KPMG report takes up 48 pages. Check it out and you'll see that no fewer than 14 pages have been crudely deleted, apparently with bits of white paper being stuck over the naughty bits. Two pages (34 and 48) are left entirely blank.

Whatever damning facts or recommendations could they contain? Hint: the censored parts often occur just before or after references to "the Chairman". That would be NPC Chairman Jim Williams, who had the gall to boast in an "interview" apparently dictated to the Niagara Falls Review's cub reporter that he had been exonerated by the KPMG audit.

Is that right, Jim? Then perhaps you could let us have a look at your copy of the KPMG report...the whole thing, that is, with the coverup post-it notes removed.

While we wait, we take a little comfort in being at least somewhat enlightened. Somewhat. Sort of. In a typical half-assed Ontario way. The public's right to know? In Ontario? LMAO.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Canada's top brass confirms Afghan torture

The story so far:

Canadian dip Richard Colvin says he reported to dozens of superiors in the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the Department of Defence that Afghan prisoners of Canadian troops were almost certainly being tortured, even executed, on being handed over to Afghan authorities. He says officials in the two departments didn't want to know, and that he was told by Prime Minister Harper's office (no less) to shut up about it.

Scene two. Harpoon clams up, refuses to take, let alone answer questions from the press on his return to Canada from a junket through Asia. (There was no time in Steve's busy schedule to look in on the grunts in the `Stan. Some of `em will be dead before the next election anyway.) Tory attack dogs John Boor and Peter MacHackey call Colvin's allegations unbelievable. They described Colvin's allegations as "hearsay", "unsubstantiated" and "simply not credible.

Retired General Rick Hillier, M.A. (Master of Arslikhan) supports the government, says Afghanistan is not like Somalia. But now we hear from the present Canadian Chief of Staff, General Walt Natynczyk. [Gezundheit! ed.] To MacLie's annoyance, Natynczyk confirmed our army stopped transferring prisoners to Afghan authorities on more than one occasion because of concerns about abuse. Until he dropped that little bombshell, the government position had been that the issue had come up only once.

Yesterday an Afghan rights agency, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, weighed in with its latest report. It says it has documented nearly 400 cases of torture from across the war-ravaged country.

On Saturday I wrote that torture of prisoners of war is forbidden under the Geneva Convention. It is also contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada, and violators can now face trial in Canada for war crimes committed outside of the country. Ah, but...some would say...our troops did not actually torture anyone. Walt's legal advisor (Agent 3) says that if Mr. Colvin's allegations are true, Canadian troops could be found guilty of aiding and abetting the torturers by handing the prisoners over. Even if they didn't intend for the prisoners to be tortured by their compatriots, they are at least guilty of criminal negligence in handing them over, knowing that they might well be tortured or worse.

Who knew what? Who did what? Who did nothing? Let's have a public enquiry, starting later today if possible! A parliamentary committee is already asking questions, but -- remember the Schreiber enquiry -- parliamentary committees are by definition more concerned with politics than human rights abuses. Let's get a judge, someone like Louise Arbour, on this.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Afghanistan, the new Somalia

This past Wednesday, November 18th, I recommended Michael Maren's book, The Road to Hell. A large part of the book details the author's experiences as an "agent of virtue" in Somalia, and the US military debacle there. The shameful Canadian intervention also gets a mention.

Fast forward 15 years or so to the NATO occupation of Afghanistan. Canadian soldiers have suffered many casualties, but inflicted many as well, and taken many prisoners besides.

What happened to the Afghans who were taken prisoner? According to Richard Colvin, Canada's top dip in Afghanistan until recently, the prisoners were routinely handed over to the Afghan authorities [an oxymoron? ed.]. Many, perhaps the majority, were tortured. Some were killed.

So what? Canada has lost 132 good young men and women to the barbarities of roadside bombs, ambushes, etc. Other NATO countries have lost hundreds more. So some Afghans were tortured or murdered? An eye for an eye!

Just one thing. Torturing and executing prisoners of war is against the rules. It's contrary to the Geneva Convention. So is handing prisoners over to others who you know will deal with them in such a way. If our troops did what Mr. Colvin says they did, they are guilty of or complicit in warm crimes.

Mr. Colvin says he reported this to his superiors, notably David Mulroney who is now the Canadian ambassador to China. Predictably, no-one wanted to know anything about any breach of the rules of engagement. They told him to be like the three wise monkeys -- see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. According to Mr. Colvin, orders to shut up came from the office of the Prime Minister...another Harpoon from Steve Harper.

James Travers, writing in today's Toronto Star, comments thus:
If the allegations are true, those accountable for the mission put self-interest ahead of national interest. In protecting themselves they exposed Canadian troops to war crimes risk and local retribution, smeared this country's human rights reputation and made nonsense of the argument that Canada's guiding Afghanistan purpose is to seed values, rights and justice.

Just so. Just as happened in Somalia. Mr. Travers sees the parallel between our missions in Somalia and Afghanistan, and lays the blame for any misdeeds not at the feet of our troops, but on the military and political leaders in Ottawa. Quite right he is.

Also on my recommended reading list today is "Advice for the PM", Norman Spector's blog in today's Globe and Mail. Mr. Spector castigates Defence Minister Peter Mackay and the Harper government's resident pit bull, John Baird, for their ad hominem attacks on Mr. Colvin. When you don't like the message, shoot the messenger, eh, boys?

Mr. Spector joins the Liberals and NDP in calling for a public enquiry, not into the conduct of our troops but into the sins of omission or commission of Conservative government. Mr. Travers agrees, and also has something to say about our commander-in-chief at the time, Gen. Rick Hillier.

When questioned about what happened in Afghanistan on his watch, Gen. Hillier responded (I'm paraphrasing here) that whatever we did, it wasn't as bad as what we did in Somalia, where Canadian troops exacted their own retribution on some Somali kids who were unlucky enough to get caught.

Gen. Hillier is proud that in Afghanistan our soldiers behaved in a more professional manner, by turning the prisoners over to their own people. But Travers argues that what should disturb us is the way the situation was handled -- or not handled -- by the military brass and mandarins in Ottawa.

"What's unfolding now is the same old story," Travers writes. "Distant events spiral out of control, secrecy silences truth and the messenger is humiliated, then shot." Shame!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Persecution of Christians part of "culture of Quran": Syrian archbishop

There are Christians, mainly Catholic or Orthodox, in the Middle East. They are a tiny and very much embattled minority amongst millions of Muslims and, in Israel, Jews.

The Jews generally don't kill the Christians, except occasionally as "collateral damage" in their attacks on the Muslims. But the militant Muslims persist in their jihad -- "holy war" -- against their Christian compatriots.

This is true all over the Middle East, including Iraq, the cradle of civilization. Iraqi Muslims make war on each other, but are united in their persecution of the Catholic community.

Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, Auxiliary Archbishop of Antioch (Syria), says this is not a matter of politics. The persecution of Christians was not peculiar to Saddam Hussein. Rather it is ultimately rooted in a culture inspired by the Quran.

Speaking at a press conference organized by the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Archbishop Al-Jamil said the Iraqi Christians are victims of a religious -- not political -- persecution caused by a social system that is inspired by a view of the Quran, according to which Islam and its followers must dominate and regard believers of other religions as citizens with fewer rights.

The archbishop, an expert in Arab culture and literature, explained that according to the Quran, Islam is a religion that is above all others. This attitude is found wherever Islam is the religion of the state. Indeed, in the Arab countries, Islam and the state are one.

That means that in places like Iraq, Libya and -- the worst offender -- Saudi Arabia, the Christian minority does not enjoy the rights and freedoms which we stupid westerners guarantee to the Muslim minority.

Visit Saudi Arabia and you will look in vain for a Christian church. You will not find a Bible in your hotel room night table. And you will not see anyone wearing or displaying any symbol of Christianity, such as a cross or crucifix.

But here in North America the Muslims are free to build mosques (has your neighbourhood got one yet?), wear the hejab or niqab, and preach against our wicked value system, all the while complaining about discrimination and persecution. You want to see persecution? See what they do to Christians in their own countries.

According to Archbishop Al-Jamil, in a democratic country, which Iraq says it is and wants to be [really?! ed.], Christians should enjoy the same rights as the rest of the citizens.

The prelate told ZENIT (a Catholic news agency) he is not in favor of a proposal to protect the rights of Christians by creating a Christian enclave in Nineveh, where there is a Christian majority. Christians are part of the social fabric of the whole country, he said, and should not withdraw into a ghetto.

Click here to read the complete ZENIT report.

Living off the fat of the land

Never let it be said that Walt pours out his vitriol on Africans and Asians to the exclusion of other members of the damned species. Bizarre and revolting behaviour is to be found everywhere, and you can count on me to pass on stories guaranteed to make you retch.

BBC News has such a story today. Click here to read how police in Peru have broken up a gang who allegedly murdered peasants to harvest their fat. Yes, you read that right. The fat was then used to make cosmetics.

Victims were lured to a house which locals called the "laboratory", where they were told they could find work. Once there, they were killed, their fat was boiled down and what remained of them was buried in shallow graves. Talk about extraordinary rendering...

According to the BBC story, the break in the case came when a pair of men was caught at a Lima bus station carrying a litre of human fat in a pop bottle. The report does not say how police knew the fat was human.

On the BBC website you'll find a video which, I warn you, contains disturbing images. The report on the Peru fat merchants comes after that.

Footnote: Don't accuse me of picking on Hispanics and ignoring the malfeasance of whites. The fat manufacturers to whom the fat was sold are said to be...wait for Italy. So where do your cosmetics come from?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No homos please. We're African!

Take it from someone who's lived there. Africans are very sexy people. They're at it here, there and everywhere. You can see their love of what Private Eye calls "Ugandan affairs" in the high birth rates and the high incidence of HIV/AIDS.

But gays and lesbians (etc etc) should be aware and beware. Africans are very uncivilized and still living in the dark ages as well as the dark continent. Most Africans are dead set against homosexuality. And most African countries retain the old colonial laws against buggery, bestiality and other crimes against nature.

This is particularly true in Uganda, where a phalanx of evangelical Protestant missionaries and militant Muslims are leading the charge against same-sex immorality. Homosexuals are often isolated, discriminated against at work and in AIDS treatment centres, sometimes even lynched -- this according to a report in this week's Economist.

Now the Ugandan parliament is considering a tough new law against homosexuality and homosexuals. If the law goes through unamended, "aggravated homosexuality" will be attract the death penalty. Those found guilty will truly be well hung.

The love that dare not speak its name will be just that. Even talking about homosexuality will be punishable by a term in the crowbar hotel. Deviant practices such as anal sex [annual sex? ed.] will be punished, as will failing to snitch on people, gay or straight, who indulge.

Once again we see that Africans are not yet ready to take their place amongst enlightened people. Protests are planned for San Francisco and Toronto. Get your rainbow flag out.

God's waiting room

Here, courtesy of Agent 6, is a music video dedicated to Agent 17 and all the other snowbirds. Over 800,000 hits and counting...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

UN pro-life petition now over 600,000 names: a MILLION needed

Walt is pleased to pass on this letter from Austin Ruse, President of C-FAM (the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute).

You may or may not have signed the UN Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family. I am being a pest and sending this to you again because if you haven’t helped this campaign, I am asking you to do so now. If you have helped this campaign by signing the petition, I am asking you to send an appeal to all your friends and family to help this campaign. If you have already done that, please do it again!

The only way these types of internet campaigns work is by millions of people working together and sending repeated calls for help!

We intend to deliver one million names to the UN in support of the unborn child. I run C-FAM. We have been doing UN pro-life work full time for 12 years. You can check us out at to see that we are legitimate. We are in a unique position to run this campaign and to deliver one million names to our friends at the UN and to the UN Secretary General. Click here to read the petition in one of 18 languages and then sign it, if you have not done so already. And then, I implore you to send a notice about this campaign to all of your friends and family, to your whole address book!

We have gathered 611,998 as of 1:32 pm November 15. We have gathered 126,404 new names in the last six weeks. We need to move faster than that!

Please go here. Read the petition, sign it if you have not already and send the petition with your note to all of your family and friends. Do it now. Do not wait!

Yours sincerely,

Austin Ruse


PS - When we reach one million names we will present all the names at a UN press conference and to the Secretary General. 

The worst country on Earth

That's what the Economist Intelligence Unit calls Somalia in The World in 2010, the Economist magazine's annual world survey and forecast for the coming year. Somalia takes the prize, they say, for "piracy, poverty and perdition".

Somalia is the world's most corrupt state, according to the World Bank. It has no effective government, no rule of law and virtually no infrastructure. Most of the country is controlled by one or the other of two radical Islamist factions, both of which demand the imposition of sharia law.

The Economist calls this "the Talibanisation of Somalia". Indeed the parallels with Afghanistan and Iraq are striking. You have radical and less-radical Muslims killing each other. You have the extreme xenophobia (and they don't like foreigners very much either). You have the corruption. You have the corrupt and incompetent "governments" whose writ does not run outside the capital city. And you have foreign armies of occupation trying to bring some order and "restore democracy".

But Somalia is different in that this "state" failed decades ago. The situation in Somalia today persists in spite of -- perhaps because of -- decades of foreign aid backed up by the armed intervention of the USA, Canada and other nations in the 80s and 90s.

Has the UN (really the US) debacle in Somalia been forgotten? Apparently so. As Patrick O'Bama [please check correct name, ed.] ponders the next move in Afghanistan, he would do well to read The Road to Hell, by Michael Maren (The Free Press, New York, 1997).

The book purports to be an examination of the ravaging effects of foreign aid and international charity. But the case study Maren uses is Somalia. He tells how CARE unwittingling assisted a Somali dictator in building a political and economic power base. He explains how the UN and Save the Children (and other NGOs) provided raw materials for the warring factions.

Above all, Maren exposes the political side of foreign aid and "humanitarian intervention". The money that you and I give to relieve the poverty and misery of Somalis, Sudanese, Senegalese or whatever is stolen by their own people and by the well-paid "administrators" of the charities themselves -- the "agents of virtue" (Paul Theroux's phrase) who do well out of doing good.

If you think your charitable giving is making the Third World a better place, think again! If you think our governments are trying to do good, think again!

If you think our interventions in Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan were for humanitarian reasons, think again! If you think those interventions are doing any good for the people of those countries, think again!

But if sticking our noses and the muzzles of our guns into the affairs of failed states like Afghanistan is not the answer, what is the answer? I'm still thinking about that. More later.

Annual checkup

Speaking of matters medical, Agent 3 asks if I heard the one about the senior who came into the doc for his annual checkup.

The doc was writing the requisition for the usual blood tests, and the senior asked if he could be tested for HIV/AIDS.

"Whatever for?" asked the doc. "You've been married for almost 50 years to the same woman. And I don't think you've been fooling around with anyone else have you?"

"No," said the senior, "but I heard on the TV that one of the most at-risk groups are those who have annual sex!"

Memo from the nursing department

Apologies for a three-day absence, which I believe is a record since I started this blog in July. I have been unwell and have been going to the local medical centre to be inspected, detected, injected and rejected.

Agent 59 has been similarly afflicted and sends along this notice, observed in her local clinic.

In case we run out of masks during the H1N1 flu season, here is a cheap and effective mask you can make yourself. It is even compatible with the wearing of glasses. One thing though ... MAKE SURE YOUR MASK IS CLEAN!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No surprise

There's been a rash of shootings and stabbings in the GTA (Godawful Toronto Area) over the last few days. I've refrained from any round-up-the-usual-suspects comments or other racist rantings. (Note to "anonymous" -- that kind of comment won't be published.)

Here's a story from Brampton, though, that contains its own comment. Peel police homicide detectives have arrested Isaac Kwakye, 18, of Brampton in connection with the murder of a Brampton man in a home invasion last week.

At a news conference on Thursday, Insp. Norm English said the killing "was not a random act," and labelled it a home invasion "gone very, very wrong." A 2005 black four-door Nissan Altima was stolen from the crime scene. It has now been recovered in the Jane-Finch area.

Police are still looking for two other suspects in the case. They are described as [Never mind, they can finish the rest of the sentence for themselves. ed]

Lady Luck smiles on Tererai

Walt has been down on Zimbabwe and NGO "agents of virtue" recently, so passes along with pleasure a story referred by Agent 17. It's from Nicholas Kristof, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

It's the story of Terera Trent, who, at age 23, was enduring the miserable existence of a Zimbabwean village girl. I should say woman, for she had already been married for six years to a man who beat her, as is quite common in rural Zimbabwe.

Just by chance, she met an American lady with the improbable name of Jo Luck, a worker with an NGO called Heifer International, which was trying to do some good in one of the most hopeless countries in the most hopeless of continents.

Tererai began working for HI, and with their help eventually came to America. Her dream was to get not just a university education, but a doctorate. And so it comes to pass. Next month, a one-time impoverished cattle-herd from Zimbabwe with less than a year of elementary school education will don academic robes and become Dr. Tererai Trent.

Click to here to read the full story.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Worst job EVER

I found this in the slush pile. When you think your job is rotten, remember this...

A seriously dangerous belief system

Human rights and anti-racism cops alert! Don't you want to bring charges under s. 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act against Madam Justice Lynn Ratushny of the Ontario Superior Court? She's calling Islam -- or at least the Muslim attitude towards women -- a "seriously dangerous belief system".

This according to a column by Margaret Wente in today's Globe and Mail. Ms Wente reports on the sentencing in Ottawa on Tuesday of Yusuf Al Mezel, a devout Muslim. Mr Al Mezel will now be Her Britannic Majesty's guest for a year. The charge? Threatening his daughter with violence.

The daughter's crime? Eman Al Mezel decided, at the age of 23, that she'd had enough of living under her father's thumb. She had lived at home, where her father wanted to keep her. So they fought bitterly when Eman started doing volunteer work at a local community centre.

Her father pushed her into a flight of stairs. He threatened to break her legs and kill her, and then smashed her computer. When she learned he had arranged for her to marry a Syrian man, she moved out. To the horror of her family, she abandoned the hijab and her Muslim beliefs, and moved in with a male friend and his family.

You can imagine the father's reaction. If you can't read the full account in Ms Wente's column. Suffice it to say the judge felt the father's harrassment and repeated threats were sufficiently threatening to warrant a conviction. Judge Ratushny called Al Mezel's behaviour "a crime of honour, committed in the name of a seriously dangerous belief system."

So you see, life in Muslim families is not always as portrayed in Little Mosque on the Prairie. Nor are crimes of honour confined to Pakistan and Afghanistan...or Toronto. The Muslims bring their "seriously dangerous belief system" with them when they immigrate.

In the name of multiculturalism and diversity, successive misguided Canadian governments have encouraged Muslims, Hindus and other aliens to hang onto their "cultural values", rather than adopt the values of the Canadian majority.

What is wrong with us?! Is it shameful, as the CBC liberal intelligentsia would have us think, to at least suggest that new Canadians adopt at least some of our values? Like allowing children to dress as they please and marry whom they choose, just to mention one.

In Walt's humble opinion "When in Rome, do as the Romans do; when in Canada, do as the Canadians do" should be stamped in 24-point type on every immigrant visa!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bring back minstrel shows!

Are any of you old enough to remember black-and-white minstrel shows? Walt does! For those younger than dirt, the minstrel shows of yesteryear (they went out of fashion, victims of political correctness, in the 50s) were variety shows consisting of comic skits, jokes, dancing and music, performed by white people in blackface.

I can remember being taken to one by my mother -- a high-school teacher and therefore a Person of Good Standing in the Community -- when I was about 10 or 11 years old. The show was put on by the Lions Club of my small hometown. The MC, "Mister Interlocutor", was my best bud's father, "Invincible Vince".

I had a wonderful time laughing at the jokes and antics of Mr. Bones, Mr. Tambo and all the others. And it never once occurred to me that black people were somehow being made fun of or denigrated. Wikipedia: On the one hand, it [minstrelsy] had strong racist aspects; on the other, it afforded white Americans a singular and broad awareness of significant aspects of black-American culture.

Sadly, minstrel shows have gone the way of Amos 'n' Andy, victims of political correctness. Yet we had shows like Fresh Prince of Belair and the Jeffersons. Go figure.

Yet the idea donning blackface to do a little comedy seems to be making a bit of a comeback. Not long ago some contestants on a TV talent show had to apologize for appearing in blackface. And this week the University of Toronto Black Students Association is demanding public apologies from organizers of a Halloween party after participants wearing dark makeup were given a costume prize.

These terrible racists painted their faces with shoe polish to portray the Jamaican bobsled team, from the movie Cool Runnings, a comedy based on the Jamaican national bobsled team's debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

In addition to the four white students who dressed up as blacks, a Trinidadian student wore white makeup to portray the team's coach. The White Students Association has so far not filed a complaint. [White Students Association? Are you sure? ed.]

For the full story and a great picture, see the article in today's Globe and Mail.

Foreign aid: hurts us, hurts them

Hold the phones! Stop the presses! The Auditor-General has discovered that the Canadian International Development Agency -- the organization that administers 80% of our aid to underdeveloped countries -- is "a demoralized, bureaucractic mess".

What a news flash that is! Agent 3 lived in Zimbabwe in the latter half of the 90s and had connections in diplomatic circles. In his words, he "dwelt amongst the dips". As Director of a school which relied almost entirely on funding from foreign governments, Agent 3 learned firsthand of the waste and inefficiency of the foreign aid programs not just of Canada but of all the rich northern nations.

The Toronto Star reports that CIDA has had five ministers since 2000, six different strategic plans since 1995, ever-shifting country priorities and objectives (including Harper's tilt toward the Americas and away from Africa) and an endless churn of top managers. That turmoil has taken its toll.

That's not a great vote of confidence in International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who has been in charge of CIDA for the past two years. After four years under the Conservatives, CIDA lacks "clear direction and action plans," the A-G found.

Projects take years to get approved. Performance targets are murky. Staff lack clear goals. Projects aren't properly monitored and assessed. And it's far from clear that Harper's promised narrower focus is being achieved.

Finally, CIDA does a poor job communicating not only with Canadians but also with our aid partners and recipients. It published its last statistical update in 2006-2007, so its spending is hard to assess.

As I said, all this is hardly news. It's only confirmation. Canadians in the know have suspected as much for decades. And the situation with CIDA's American counterpart, USAID, is scarcely better.

To learn something about how USAID and similar "agents of virtue" (Paul Theroux's phrase) work [don't work, surely. ed.] read The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity, by Michael Maren. (The Free Press, NYC, 1997). Follow that up with The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn't Working, (Palgrave Macmillan, NYC, 2006), by Robert Calderisi.

The Harper government has announced its intentions to fix CIDA and our foreign aid program. It blames the Liberals for creating the mess. It is indeed arguable that well-intentioned but misguided Liberal (and liberal) policies in the 60s and 70s have contributed greatly to Africa's reduction today to a continent of beggars.

But tinkering with CIDA and aid targets is not the way to fix things. Some say that our foreign aid programs should be scrapped altogether, and the money invested in alleviating poverty at home. The Toronto Star closed its comments on its editorial after only 11 posts to this same effect.

Others, like Mr. Maren (an American) and Mr. Calderisi (a Canadian with 30 years' experience in Africa, working with the World Bank among others) argue that what is needed is a radical rethink of the whole concept of foreign aid.

Chapter 12 of The Trouble with Africa is headed "Ten Ways of Changing Africa". In it, Calderisi proposes not increasing the amount we give, but cutting aid to individual countries in half! This he would combine with a strong and biting focus on responsibility and accountability, to combat the incompetence and corruption which are endemic in Africa.

Both books are well worth reading. And have a look at the Star's editorial. See if you can find the comment by Agent 3!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fort Hood: The killer is a Muslim!

Let's be clear about this. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the psychiatrist-turned-wacko who is accused of murdering over a dozen people (and counting) in the Fort Hood massacre is a Muslim. This is not an incidental fact. The man's religion clearly informed his actions. As he opened fire he yelled "Allahu akbar!"

We must not ignore this fact in coming to grips with what happened. Before he launched his attack on his comrades, Major Hasan visited radical Islamist websites and chatted approvingly of suicide bombers. Video of him roaming a convenience store in traditional Arab garb, days after having told the store clerk he didn't want to fight fellow Muslims, offers another reason to reflect on the role of religious affinity.

This is the opinion of Irshad Manji, a scholar with New York University and the European Foundation for Democracy and author of The Trouble with Islam Today. "While we should be careful not to reduce the story to Islam, let us be equally alert not to erase Islam altogether. Understanding is served by analyzing, not sanitizing."

You can read her thoughts, as published in today's Globe and Mail, by clicking here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

African airliner crashes; pig blamed!

What you see here is a bushpig, a smaller and better-looking cousin of a wart-hog. They are to be found in many parts of Africa, even in the airports of capital cities like Ha-ha-harare, capital of the "nation" of Zimbabwe.

The pilot of an Air Zimbabwe MA60 (a Chinese-built prop job) discovered this to his chagrin last week when he hit one on takeoff. Damage to the nose, a wingtip and a propeller forced a bumpier and quicker-than-usual landing.

The statement released by the Zimbabwe Transport Ministry led us to believe that the incident was minor. No-one was killed and only a couple of people were hurt during the evacuation of the plane.

However, what the mishap reveals is the extent to which the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) and the national airline have gone the way of its other frayed and failed institutions.
A letter which appeared briefly in the Zimbabwe Standard (now apparently removed) recounted details more serious than the ministry admitted.

The writer, quoted in The Times, said it was "by God’s grace" that he and the other 37 passengers and crew had not all perished. It was plain, he said, that the airline had "no disaster response strategy" and its personnel "did not have a clue" of what to do in a crisis. “The plane was just about to lift off when we heard a loud bang from underneath followed by violent shaking of the entire aircraft.

"The aircraft veered off the runway into the grass before it came to a halt. Smoke and dust engulfed the cabin as passengers screamed for dear life.” With a petrified hostess shrieking "Evacuate!", they discovered that one of the emergency exits was jammed. Passengers were able to jump out of the stricken plane only after the main doors were pried open by hand.

The Times reports that airport emergency rescue service took five minutes to reach the plane. Agent 3, who spent several years in Zimbabwe, suggests that possibly they had no fuel and had to syphon some from cars in the passenger parking lot. They were beaten by a contingent of secret police, whose first act was to arrest two passengers for taking photographs.

There was no medical care for the injured, the Times report continues, and it took an hour for an Air Zimbabwe manager to have water distributed. He tried to reassure them by saying that the airline’s chief executive was on his way to the airport. "The passengers retorted that they did not eat CEOs," said the Standard's informant.

Agent 3 comments that AirZim hostesses are known to be selected by means of "carpet interviews". The only emergency training they receive is how to get out from under a bulky cabinet minister or AirZim executive, should one collapse on top of them while they perform their duties.
Thanks to Agent 17 for passing on the story.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How to comment

Cordelia Weatherbee e-mailed a comment on my musings about the Fort Hood massacre. I've now posted it for her.

But I wonder...why don't readers post comments directly? Is it that difficult? Cordelia's not the first to send her comment by e-mail. You're welcome to do that -- is the address. But you're also welcome to use the comment feature on the blog.

Walt is always happy to hear from you. And don't forget to tell your friends, family, neighbours etc etc if you read something thought-provoking on my blog. Getting an alternative opinion "out there" is the whole point!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toronto wins something, at last

Last night the Maple Leafs managed to squeak by Carolina to win their second game of the NHL season. How about that...

Q. What did the Leafs fan do after the Leafs won the Stanley Cup?
A. He turned off the PlayStation.

In more important news, the City of Toronto -- a.k.a. the Wormy Apple, New York Wannabe, or Hogtown [that's soooo dated. ed] -- was awarded the 2015 Pan-American Games. After decades of trying, the little city that would be world-class finally attracted a major international sporting event.

Is this good news for the denizens of Boredom-on-the-Don? The cost of hosting the games is projected to run into billions of dollars, pretty expensive for a few days in the sun.

On the other hand, a lot of new "infrastructure" will be left behind, and that should be a good thing. Toronto needs more public housing, eh -- the tenements of tomorrow.

Also left behind may be some of the hundreds of athletes and hangers-on from the 42 "nations" who will be coming to Toronto to compete. There'll be plenty of visas for folks from Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia. It's just possible that some of them will choose to disappear into the ghettos of Regent Park and Jane-Finch, rather than return to their paradisaical homelands.

It is no secret that there are already 1000s of Latin Americans living in Toronto, including many bogus refugee claimants. The Auditor-General reported this week that 90% of Mexican "refugees" are having their claims denied. But how many of them are being deported?

Anyway, the Hispanics are here so Toronto had better get used to it. Mayor David Miller and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty actually bragged about it, making Toronto's "diversity" a big point in their sales pitch.

In his gracious acceptance speech, Mayor Millertime said "Let's see if your Latin Americans can beat our Latin Americans!" No kidding! He really did say that. I saw the clip on the TV news. But at least he didn't refer to them as "wetbacks"!

No matter. Walt wishes Toronto well. I look forward to seeing that great city all spic and span in 2015.

A seasonal thought

Thanks to Agent 71 for this thought about the coming holidays.

Twas the month before Christmas, when all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying, nor taking a stand.
The PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas, which no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th's only a "Holiday".
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X-box, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Walmarts were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word "Christmas" was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclu-sive, sens-i-tive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were=used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Daden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus from all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they removed our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The seasonal reason just never got started.
As you celebrate "Winter Break" 'neath your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, just listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say.
Shout "MERRY CHRISTMAS", not "Happy Holiday"!

Walt asks all Christians to join him in wishing everyone you meet during the holidays a MERRY CHRISTMAS! Christ is The Reason for Christmas!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A bridge to fear?

Meet Lai Jiansheng. Mr. Lai is about the same age as Walt, and evidently has the same temperament.

Back in May, he was taking his morning stroll near the Haizhu bridge, a landmark in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, when he found traffic snarled by motorists and pedestrians waiting for Chen Fuchao to jump off the bridge.

When Mr. Lai arrived on the scene, Mr. Chen had already been sitting atop the bridge for five hours. Chen wanted to kill himself because he was 2 million yuan in debt following a failed construction project. He chose the Haizhu bridge because it has long been the city's number one choice for committing suicide, according to government spokesman Shiu Liang.

Civic-minded humanitarian that he is, Lai volunteered to talk Chen down. In fact, he broke through a police cordon to climb up to Chen's perch. Lai first greeted Chen with a handshake, then pushed him off the bridge! Chen fell 8 meters onto a partially-inflated emergency air cushion, damaging his spine and elbow.

"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish," Mr. Lai said. "Their action violates a lot of public interest."

You can read the story and see pictures of the Kodak moment on the China View website. But wait, there's more. Agent 78, who I thank for this lead, says that following this incident, the Guangzhou authorities came up with a brilliant new strategy to deter would-be suicides.

Previously they tried employing guards at both ends of the bridge. They put up fences. They posted notices asking people not to commit suicide there. But nothing worked. they have coated the Hangzhu bridge with fat! Trying to climb up to a suitable jumping-off point is like trying to climb the greased pole at a county fair! Everyone who tries just falls back down, according to one of the bridge guards.

"Every time someone tried to get sympathy or media attention, we had several hours of tailbacks and scores of complaints," he explained. "But since we put up the butter, there have been no more problems."

So there you have it, dear readers. Things are definitely better with butter!

Fort Hood massacre

I'm at a loss for words. I feel I should say something about this, but I don't know what to say. I don't know what it all means. Maybe nothing.

It's not even possible to write a satirical piece because the story virtually satirizes itself. The killer was a Muslim, a psychiatrist and a soldier -- easy set-up for any number of cheap jokes. Yet it's not funny.

Is the massacre a commentary on the American love of guns? On psychiatry, which I believe to be a bogus "science"? On the futility of the Afghan war? On Islam? None of these? All of these? Are there any lessons to be learned? Will any lessons be learned?

I have all these questions, but not one answer. Not even a further comment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

UN starts Afghanistan bailout

By that I do not mean that the United Nations is bailing out Afghanistan and its corrupt do-nothing government, now duly elected in a triumph over no opposition. No, I mean that the UN is bailing out of Afghanistan.

Associated Press reports that the UN is relocating -- i.e. pulling out -- more than half its staff in Afghanistan following last week's deadly Taliban attack, which left five UN staffers again.

Gee, five! That's the same as the number of British troops who were killed earlier this week by a "rogue" Afghan policeman. No doubt the bad cop was demonstrating the great love that the Afghan people have for foreign invaders.

Five is also less than 1/26th of the number of Canadians who have died in a needless and unwinnable war.

The UN insists it remains committed to Afghanistan, just as it remains committed to helping neighbouring Pakistan, where its work was suspended indefinitely last week.

The reason for the UN retreat -- for that's what it is -- is clear. The security situation (read, war) is going badly and getting worse. It's leave now or be killed, and the UN, unlike the Canadians and Americans, have decided that cowardice trumps bloodshed.

Walt hands it to the UN for getting out while the getting is good, or at least not as bad as it's going to be, rather than waiting until it's too late.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three for three in Toronto the Good

So, farewell then, Theo Tiku. You were "known to the police", as the saying goes. And now you are no more, having received a severe case of lead poisoning near Danforth and Pape on Monday night.

Toronto police say the 27-year-old man had ties to street gangs and drug trafficking. Det. Mike Carbone said, "There is no doubt in our mind he was targeted." There seems to be some doubt in their mind though about who targeted Theo. No description of the assailants has been released.

About 27 hours after Theo got what was coming to him, a 24-year-old man was shot to death not far from a townhouse complex (you know what I mean) near Keele and Finch. "There's no doubt in our mind he was targeted," said Det. Mike Carboncopy. [Are you sure about this? ed.] No description of the victim or the assailants has yet been released. Police do, however, say that one of the murderers was carrying a silver handgun and wearing a black Blue Jays baseball cap. [Was it on backwards? ed.]

And this afternoon, a man "in his twenties" was shot in the head outside a home near Midland Ave. and Eglinton Ave. E. We don't know yet if it's a homicide but there's no doubt in the mind of the police that this was a targeted hit. [One more time and you're fired. ed.] Police say they are searching for several suspects who scattered in different directions after shots were fired. Police did not say whether the suspects were wearing baseball caps or hoodies.

So that's three (just making an assumption) gang-style executions in as many days in Toronto the good. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the other two victims were, like Theo, of the coloured persuasion.

But I will not be out on a limb at all when I predict that the race of the suspects will never be mentioned by the gutless but oh-so-politically-correct Toronto media until they go to trial or hell freezes over, whichever occurs first.

Victimized twice

Meet David Chen. He's a very typical Chinese shopkeeper. Walt occasionally patronizes his Lucky Moose grocery store in Toronto's old Chinatown. [Walt means he buys stuff there...the good kind of patronizing. ed] Any time you want live fish or chicken claws, that's the place to go.

Like most Cantonese immigrants, Mr. Chen works hard for his money, and he doesn't part with it gladly. Or his merchandise either. Which is a problem because Mr. Chen's store is a regular target of shoplifters. One in particular keeps coming back again and again. The thief is easy to recognize because he happens to be ... wait for it ... black.

This summer Mr. Chen saw the dusky miscreant ride off on his bicycle [his bicycle??? ed.] with a flat of flowers for which he had neglected to pay. When the thief came back an hour later for a second helping, Mr. Chen saw red. Well, OK, he saw black!

Mr. Chen and one of his assistants ran after the thief, tackled him, tied him up and threw him in a van until police arrived. All this was captured on video -- very enjoyable viewing. But when the police finally arrived, you'll never guess who was charged! Or maybe you will...

Yes, the "alleged shoplifter" was charged with theft under. But Mr. Chen, who was only trying to protect his property and his livelihood, had the book thrown at him! He was charged with assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, and carrying a concealed weapon (a box-cutter which is a tool of the trade that Mr. Chen normally carries in his pocket). The cops (wonder what colour they were) gave him a break and didn't charge him with race hate crime.

Fast forward to the court proceedings. The shoplifter (or his legal aid lawyer) cut a deal with the Crown and got off with 30 days, in spite of his lengthy previous record. Oh yes, he also agreed to testify against Mr. Chen.

The Crown announced its intention to proceed against Mr. Chen on all counts, but yesterday, in the face of public outrage, withdrew the kidnapping and weapons charge. Mr. Chen, seen here leaving the Old City Hall court, said he's disappointed because he had hoped the Crown would withdraw all the charges against him.

He will have to wait until June to have the remaining charges heard. Meanwhile, his business is suffering because he has been too busy with lawyers and court appearances to devote his full attention to it.

Moral of the story. There's a big difference between the law and justice. There is nothing even remotely just about this entire affair. If you agree, please write to the Hon. Chris Bentley, Attorney-General of Ontario, McMurtry-Scott Building, 720 Bay Street, 11th Floor, Toronto, ON, M5G 2K1. You can send an e-mail by going to where you'll find an online form.

As for the Toronto police "service", you can forget about "serve and protect". Was Mr. Chen served and protected? Ha! Hahaha!! All the police care about is getting convictions to show that they are doing something about crime, and so justify their fat salaries and donut allowances. In Mr. Chen's case, they had a gift -- a chance to score four convictions for major offences, rather than one for petty crime. Disgraceful!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Royal propaganda

Spotted arriving at St. John's airport yesterday were a horse-faced woman with a 30-year-old hairstyle and a big hat, and an even-more-horsefaced man with large bat-like ears.

In other news, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales and his consort the Duchess of Squidgy began their tour of Canada. This is, one hopes, the last of a long string of royal tours inflicted on the Canadian people in an effort to persuade us that the monarchy is worth keeping. According to a recent public opinion poll, we are not convinced.

The focus this time is supposed to be on Canadian history and the military. The Right Charlie is colonel-in-chief of six Canadian regiments. In his speech yesterday he praised Canada for responding "with speed, with magnanimity and with great courage" when called upon, evoking the Somme, Beaumont Hamel, Ypres and Vimy Ridge.

Need I add that he included the obligatory reference to our role in Afghanistan? As "Call me Steve" Harper beamed his approval, Charles said [surely "read", ed.] "I know full well that they are serving with the greatest possible distinction in Afghanistan. In all cases, Canadians are bringing the light of freedom and justice to the darker corners of the world."

Ah yes...freedom and justice. We see so much of that in Afghanistan these days. On the weekend, for instance, the alliteratively-named Abdullah Abdullah, exercised his freedom to withdraw from the Afghan presidential election, thus sparing his supporters possible execution.

So good of the little prince to recognize the value of what we're doing there.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Little Mosque on the Prairie: an apology

Some time ago I poked fun at CBC-TV's Little Mosque on the Prairie. I have suggested, and I stand by this, that it portrays a situation and characters so absurdly unreal that they are not only unfunny but just plain stupid.

I was wrong, however, to demand that it be removed from the airwaves. One can make a good argument that it's a horrible waste of taxpayers' money and a great example of the CBC's pandering to the vizmins. There's a lot of that going around.

But I will concede that Little Mosque is not a threat to Canadian culture or the Canadian way of life. It's not dangerous at all. Why? Because no-one's watching.

You doubt Walt? No-one...repeat, Little Mosque on the Prairie. Do your own survey. Ask your friends, relatives, workmates, bowling team, whatever. You'll see.

All Souls Day

Today, November 2nd, is All Souls Day. It is the day when Catholics remember and pray for the souls of all the faithful departed. Please note the emphasis on "for".

We do not pray to our ancestors, but for them. Some of them are already in heaven, and we venerate them on All Saints Day, November 1st. Prayers are not needed for them, and prayers cannot hlep those in hell. Some, however, are languishing in purgatory, paying the price for their transgressions on this earth. It is for them we pray.

"It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they might be loosed from their sins." (2 Macc. 12:46)