October 15, 2006
Moment of Respect: A video tribute to our troops...
Stop Ahrmageddajad before it's too late...
Why Is Ahmadinejad Smiling? The intellectual sources of his apocalyptic vision.
By: Waller R. Newell
10/16/2006, Volume 012, Issue 05
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is often smiling, as if he knows something we don't, or at least not yet. It is tempting to view him as a madman. That way, when he speaks of wiping Israel off the face of the earth, we might convince ourselves that he is no more than a fanatical front man for the Iranian Republic's desire to possess nuclear weapons so as to assert itself in the manner of China or any other aspiring great power.
Unfortunately, whether mad or not, Ahmadinejad has a coherent ideological vision in which the call to wipe out Israel is no ordinary manifestation of anti-Semitism. Instead, it is the beckoning of an apocalyptic event that will usher in a millennium of bliss for all believers, indeed all mankind. Nuclear weapons are the indispensable means to this end since they are the most reliable way of exterminating the Jewish state. They are therefore not to be negotiated away in exchange for other economic or security benefits. The revolution needs nuclear weapons to carry out its utopian mission.
How dangerous is Ahmadinejad? He has made his aims clear many times in public. At a "World Without Zionism" conference in Tehran in October 2005, at which his supporters chanted "Death to America," he said: "They [ask]: 'Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?' But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved." At the same conference, he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," adding that "very soon, this stain of disgrace will vanish from the center of the Islamic world. This is attainable." Iran's senior-most Islamic leaders gave their full support to this genocidal aim. Ahmadinejad has announced that he intends to return Iran to the purity of the revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979. The annihilation of Israel, he claimed, was a goal first announced by Khomeini himself, thus a project endowed with the highest possible revolutionary authority.
We would do well to take the Iranian president seriously, for he is proving himself a charismatic and clever leader. As he demonstrated recently at the United Nations, Ahmadinejad is adroit at putting aside Islamist themes when convenient and joining secular dictators like Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe in their Marxist cant protesting American imperialism and economic hege mony. Like many totalitarian rulers, including Hitler and Stalin, he professes a love for mankind and world peace. In these ways, Ahmadinejad reflects the Iranian revolution's assimilation of traditional Islamic categories of faith to a Marxist lexicon of violent revolution. It is therefore more important than ever to realize that the Iranian revolution's brand of jihadism has close structural similarities to - and is historically descended from - strains of European revolutionary nihilism, including that of the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks, and the Nazis, and extending to later third world offshoots like the Khmer Rouge.
All of these revolutionary movements have a common set of genocidal aims, now reemerging in Ahmadinejad's lethal rhetoric. They all envision a return to what the Jacobins called the Year One, a grimly repressive collectivist utopia in which individual freedom is obliterated in the name of the common good, and people are purged of their vices, including property, freedom of thought, and the satisfactions of family and private life. Returning to a past so pure and distant requires the destruction of all received tradition, including religious traditions, extending back centuries, and so is, paradoxically, at the same time a radical leap into the future. That is why neither the purportedly Sunni vision of the Taliban nor the purportedly Shiite vision of the Iranian revolution bears any close resemblance to the traditions and restraints imposed by those faiths, especially restraints on this-worldly political extremism, terrorism, and the slaughter of noncombatants.
The second aim that all these revolutionary movements share is the identification of one class or race enemy whose extermination is the crucial step necessary to bring about the utopian community where all alienation and vice will end forever. The class or race enemy becomes the embodiment of all human evil, whose destruction will cleanse the planet. In Ahmadinejad's flirtation with nuclear Armageddon, the destruction of Israel plays the same apocalyptic role that the Nazis assigned to the destruction of European Jewry. Stalin assigned the identical role to the destruction of the "kulaks," the so-called rich peasants - an utterly fictitious category bearing no closer resemblance to actual Russian peasants than the Nazis' demonized Jews bore to actual Jews. Now it is the Jews' turn again. When Ahmadinejad promises Muslims "a world without Zionism," he means it quite literally.
A number of writers including Bernard Lewis and Paul Berman have stressed connections between al Qaeda and European ideologies of revolutionary extremism. The Iranian revolution's connections with these ideologies are, if anything, even better documented. The key figure here is the acknowledged intellectual godfather of the Iranian revolution, Ali Shariati. To understand Ahmadinejad's campaign to return to the purity of the revolution and why it leads him to flirt with nuclear Armageddon, it is necessary to understand Ali Shariati.
Ali Shariati (1933-1977) was an Iranian intellectual who studied comparative literature in Paris in the early 1960s and was influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon. He translated Sartre's major philosophical work, Being and Nothingness, into Farsi, and coauthored a translation of Fanon's famous revolutionary tract The Wretched of the Earth. Sartre and Fanon together were responsible for revitalizing Marxism by borrowing from Martin Heidegger's philosophy of existentialism, which stressed man's need to struggle against a purposeless bourgeois world in order to endow life with meaning through passionate commitment. By lionizing revolutionary violence as a purifying catharsis that forces us to turn our backs on the bourgeois world, Sartre and Fanon hoped to rescue the downtrodden from the seduction of Western material prosperity. Fanon was even more important because he imported from Heidegger's philosophy a passionate commitment to the "destiny" of "the people," the longing for the lost purity of the premodern collective that had drawn Heidegger to National Socialism.
This potent brew of violent struggle and passionate commitment to a utopian vision of a collectivist past deeply influenced Ali Shariati, just as it had influenced another student in Paris a few years earlier, the Cambodian Pol Pot. Fanon in effect replaced the international proletariat of classical Marxism with the existentialist Volk of Heidegger's Nazi period, repudiating both liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninist politics as too materialistic. As applied in practice by the Khmer Rouge, this led to the bloodbath of 1975-1979 in which the cities of Cambodia were forcibly evacuated and the Cambodian people were purified of the taint of Western corruption by being reduced to a primitive collective of slave labor. Just as the the Jacobins had literally started the calendar over at the Year One, so Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, on assuming power, proclaimed the Year Zero.
Ali Shariati aimed to politicize the Shiite faith of his fellow Iranians with this same existentialist creed of revolutionary violence and purification. He sought to turn Shiism from pious hopes for a better world to come to the creation of a political utopia in the here and now. Although one cannot look into another man's heart and assess the sincerity of his religious beliefs, Ali Shariati's critics argue with some plausibility that Islam was in many ways no more than a religion of convenience for him. It was the most powerful social force in Iran, these critics contend, so Ali Shariati subverted its categories with a neo-Marxist agenda alien to true faith. Following Fanon, Ali Shariati believed that "the people" had to return to its most distant origins and so create what Fanon termed a "new man" and a "new history." Like Fanon as well, Ali Shariati defined a people as sharing "a common pain" inflicted on them by Western oppression.
Frequently citing Sartre, Ali Shariati proclaimed existentialism superior to all other philosophies because, in it, "human beings are free and the architects as well as masters of their own essence." This assertion of man's absolute control over his own destiny violates all three Abrahamic faiths, which stress that human beings are servants of God and powerless without Him. When Ali Shariati was criticized in 1972 by traditionalists among the Iranian clergy, he wrote to his father arguing that those who had fought French colonialism in Algeria like his teacher at the Sorbonne, Victor Gurvitch - also much influenced by Sartre and Fanon - were closer to the true revolutionary spirit of Shiism than traditionalists like the Ayatollah Milani, who avoided all involvement in politics.
Throughout Ali Shariati's discussions of Shiism, religion is harnessed to revolutionary politics. He tried to assimilate Shiites' hopes for a better world achieved through the return of the Hidden Imam, the Mahdi, to revolutionary agendas of mass struggle and historical progress. The return of the Mahdi, Ali Shariati proclaimed, will bring about "a classless society," a Marxist slogan. An unconventional Muslim at best, Ali Shariati was deeply interested in Sufi mysticism, including the poetry of Rumi, and he loved Balzac and other European writers. Like Sartre and later Michel Foucault, Ali Shariati had a passion for literature that seemed to go hand in hand with a passion for revolution. Political struggle becomes a beautifying myth of heroic valor and the triumph of the will, the delusion that "the people" can achieve through revolutionary violence the aesthetic wholeness and unity of a work of art.
Returning to Iran in 1964, during the rule of Shah Reza Pahlavi, Ali Shariati began to organize for the coming revolution. While he repudiated Marxism-Leninism because of its atheism and materialistic interpretation of history, he expressed admiration for the revolutionary fervor of Iranian Marxists and occasionally supported their protests against the regime. His lectures at the Hosseiniyeh Ershad Institute, in Tehran, which set forth his fusion of Shiism and revolutionary struggle, were wildly popular. He had several run-ins with the shah's secret police, SAVAK, who monitored his classes.
He also tried to forge links with the Iranian religious establishment. Many of its most reputable theologians continued to regard his attempt to blend Shiism with third world revolution as heretical. One important figure, however, refused to condemn Ali Shariati when called upon to do so in 1970 by his fellow clerics: the Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini and Ali Shariati were not direct allies. But Khomeini - who once said that "Islam is politics" - was no traditionalist either, and he wanted to harness the popular energy Ali Shariati had stimulated among Iranian students to help fuel his own political movement.
Ali Shariati died of a heart attack in 1977, two years before the Iranian Revolution, but largely thanks to his influence, the ideology brought to power by Khomeini's rule is an Islam distorted by European left-wing existentialism and the romanticization of violence. Unlike mainstream Sunni Islam, Shiism has a strong messianic strain. Shiites rejected the institution of an earthly caliphate intertwining secular and religious authority, such as the Ottoman sultans, in favor of the rule of the descendants of the Prophet. The last of these, the Hidden Imam, left the world in 874, and devout Shiites faithfully await his return. When he does return, he will lead the righteous in a war against the wicked and establish a kingdom of perfect justice on earth. In the meantime, since the prospects for true justice reside with the Hidden Imam, in his absence the world is a sad and empty place, providing less of an institutionalized link between believers and God than is the case in Sunni Islam, with its more direct involvement in earthly government.
Ali Shariati took the messianic strain that distinguishes Shiism from mainstream Islam and secularized it, making it the vehicle for Heideggerian existentialist commitment, resolve, and willpower on behalf of the oppressed people. Messianism became the impetus for collective political struggle. The eschatological Last Days, which traditional believers can only await in faith, hope, and pious devotion, could be brought about in the here and now by human action, creating a regime capable of achieving the purity of the collective, the return to the Year One.
In traditional Shiism, the blessings of the return of the Hidden Imam cannot be hastened by this-worldly political action. Because of the vast gap between the imperfect world of now and the perfect realm to come when the Hidden Imam returns, there can be no earthly government of mere men claiming to rule directly on behalf of the faith. That is why the very notion of a ruling mullocracy is a distortion of Shiism, which is even more skeptical about the idea of an earthly religious authority than is Sunni Islam with its tradition of the caliphate. The present Iranian theocracy, with its ceaseless drive for the centralization of power and regimentation of every aspect of life, is a departure from traditional Islam but bears a strong resemblance to the totalitarian party of the Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis, and Khmer Rouge.
Since Ali Shariati died before the revolution, we cannot know for certain what his reaction would have been to the Ayatollah Khomeini's reign of terror. Would he have been appalled, disillusioned, or willing to hang on and give the revolution a chance? Some argue that, with his third world socialist credo, Ali Shariati was not, strictly speaking, a Khomeinist or supporter of theocracy. But how much of a genuinely Islamic ruler was Khomeini himself? Before him, ayatollahs had never wielded the instruments of state power to execute thousands of ideologically defined enemies, force hundreds of thousands into exile, confiscate property, and launch wars. As Bernard Lewis has observed, "all this owes far more to the examples of Robespierre and Stalin than to those of Muhammad and Ali. These methods are deeply un-Islamic; they are, however, thoroughly revolutionary." Before Khomeini came to power, direct political authority had never been exercised by the men of religion. The Iranian mullahs did not restore an ancient order. Rather, following Ali Shariati and Fanon, they tried to create a "new man" and a "new history" through a dictatorship with no Islamic precedent.
In his murderous fantasy of destroying Israel, Ahmadinejad has drawn together all the strands of Ali Shariati's jihadist ideology and added his own contribution, which makes it far more dangerous. Although a utopian in his belief that a politicized Shiism might bring about a regime in which the dignity of the people could be rescued from the corrupting influences of the West, Ali Shariati did not contemplate, as far as one can tell, actually bringing about the Last Days, the apocalyptic struggle between the righteous and the wicked, through a worldwide military cataclysm. Ahmadinejad apparently does. "Our revolution's mission," he declared last year, "is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam." A rumor denied by the government but widely believed in Iran holds that Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a secret "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi. Ahmadinejad believes that the apocalypse is imminent and that he can accelerate the divine timetable. He is not content, as a traditional believer would be, to wait for the Hidden Imam to return. He plans to make the Last Days come on his own schedule, by using nuclear weapons to destroy the wicked as soon as possible.
And in this, the cost to Iranians themselves is of no consequence. When Iran's Islamic leadership - including supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani -hastened to support Ahmadinejad's call last October for Israel's annihilation, Rafsanjani, a former president of the Islamic Republic, added a mad detail: The Iranian leadership would be happy to see Iran devastated by an Israeli nuclear retaliatory strike if it meant they could wipe Israel off the map. "The application of an atomic bomb," Rafsanjani sanguinely remarked, "would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."
This willingness to see Iran absorb the "damages" of an Israeli nuclear response (surely millions of casualties) is only a variation of Hitler's willingness to divert resources needed to win the Second World War and expose Germany to catastrophically destructive bombing and invasion in order to speed up the Holocaust. Hitler was willing, even thrilled, to see Germany go down in the flames of his own Götterdämmerung in exchange for the chance to kill millions of Jews. Something of the same demented mirth sparkles in Ahmadinejad's eyes as he makes his cryptic little jokes about coming "surprises."
He does not represent all political forces in Iran, not even all radical forces. Doubtless, Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is, for many Iranians, a question of traditional national pride or a bid for great power status. But as long as he is president, Ahmadinejad represents an important dimension of the Iranian revolution we cannot afford to ignore. As long as Iranian policy is dominated by Ahmadinejad and his allies among the senior clerics of the Islamic Republic, Iran cannot be negotiated with. Their commitment to the destruction of the Jews is a matter of principle, just as the implementation of the Holocaust was for the Nazis and the liquidation of the kulaks was for the Bolsheviks. Genocide through nuclear weapons is designed to bring about the happiness of the Year One for all of us. I believe that is why Ahmadinejad is almost always smiling.
Waller R. Newell is a professor of political science at Carleton University in Ottawa. He is working on a book about political terror from Robespierre to al Qaeda.
Ignatieff: Having it both ways is a Liberal tradition...
Candidate Called Israeli Attack on Lebanese Town a 'War Crime'
By: Doug Struck - Washington Post Foreign Service
TORONTO, Oct. 12 -- Michael Ignatieff, a former Harvard professor running for the leadership of Canada's Liberal Party, is facing a political uproar over remarks in which he labeled as a "war crime" Israel's deadly bombing of the southern Lebanon town of Qana.
Ignatieff, a noted human rights scholar and the front-runner in the race to lead the party, said in a French-language radio interview Sunday that the July 30 Qana bombing, which killed 28 civilians, "was a war crime, and I should have said that."
The co-chairman of Ignatieff's Toronto campaign, Parliament member Susan Kadis, abruptly quit the campaign Wednesday, and Canadian Jewish groups sharply criticized the candidate. Israel's ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, said Thursday that Ignatieff's statement was "upsetting and disappointing."
Kadis said Ignatieff should "have a better handle on the Middle East."
The Lebanese civilians were killed when an Israeli warplane bombed a residential building in Qana. Israel said that it did not know civilians were in the apartment building and that Hezbollah fighters had fired rockets from nearby sites. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan rejected Israel's explanation. He noted after the bombing that an Israeli bombardment had killed more than 100 Lebanese civilians at Qana 10 years earlier and said Israel was "causing death and suffering on a wholly unacceptable scale."
The controversy is a blow to Ignatieff, who holds a narrow lead in the party race ahead of its convention at the end of next month. The party leader would become prime minister if the Liberal Party regains control of the government, which it lost to the Conservative Party in January. Ignatieff, who was born in Toronto, left his Harvard post last year to win a seat in Parliament.
To try to quell the uproar, he issued a statement Wednesday in which he said he has been "a lifelong friend of Israel." He described the Qana incident as "a terrible human tragedy where innocent civilians died in a conflict that saw unjustified tragedies on all sides." He later told reporters, "War crimes were visited on Israeli civilians; they were visited on Lebanese civilians."
Ignatieff's recent comments were made in an attempt to apologize for his remarks on Qana in August. Then, he said the bombing was made during a "dirty war" and noted he was "not losing sleep" over it.
"I showed a lack of compassion. It was a mistake," he said Sunday on the Quebec talk show.
Another Parliament member, Maria Mourani, was forced to resign from a Bloc Quebecois party post in August for saying Israel had committed war crimes in the Lebanon war.
Copyright 2006 - The Washington Post
Individual freedom includes personal responsibility...
McDonald's Didn't Make Them Fat
By: JOHN STOSSEL - JFS Productions Inc.
October 13, 2006
I have a question for federal Judge Robert Sweet: If your own children blamed McDonald's for making them fat, would you buy it?
I don't think so.
Yet the judge has given the green light to a lawsuit against McDonald's by two teenaged girls who claim the popular fast-food chain tricked them into eating food that made them fat and sick. At first it looked as if this lawsuit was going to be pushed down the garbage disposal, but now it's back. What's going on?
Three years ago, the girls accused McDonald's of deceptive advertising and selling unhealthy food. Judge Sweet dismissed the suit because the allegations were too vague. "Where should the line be drawn between an individual's own responsibility to take care of herself and society's responsibility to ensure others shield her?" he asked. "The complaint fails to allege the McDonald's products consumed by the plaintiffs were dangerous in any way other than that which was open and obvious to a reasonable consumer."
But he invited the plaintiffs to re-file it with more specific information. Sure enough, they did, and last month, the judge ruled that the girls had identified to his satisfaction "40 deceptive ads" and "sufficiently described" the harm McDonald's food allegedly caused them, "obesity, hypertension and elevated levels of LDL cholesterol."
Who knows what a jury will do when the lawyers play on its sympathy for the overweight girls. Whether McDonald's wins after a lengthy legal battle or loses and gets hit with a big damage award, you and I will pay through higher prices. Our choice of foods could even be limited if fast-food chains decide it's the only way to avoid future lawsuits. Au revoir, french fries?
Are we a nation of responsible adults or children? I don't want government to be my Daddy any more than I want it to be my Big Brother.
Whatever happened to self-responsibility? Sure, McDonald's commercials put the best spin on its products. All advertisers do that. Individuals should exercise caution, and parents should teach their kids a little skepticism. It's not as if information about nutrition is hard to come by. Today we're constantly harangued about cutting calories, reducing fat, and exercising more. McDonald's competitors, such as Subway, provide lots of counter-information. You'd have to live in a cave not to know about this stuff.
Fast food doesn't have to make you fat. Soso Whaley of New Hampshire once ate only at McDonald's for a month. The result? Unlike the guy who did the "Super Size Me" documentary, Soso lost 10 pounds, and her cholesterol dropped 40 points. How? She didn't pig out. Low-carb dieters have lost weight at McDonald's by eating the burgers without the buns and skipping the fries.
All this goes to show that anyone whose health was harmed by eating at McDonald's only has himself or herself to blame. To bloat himself up an individual has to choose to enter the restaurant on a regular basis, overeat an unbalanced diet, and fail to exercise. Should that person be able to pin his health problems on McDonald's?
If so, where does it stop? You can get fat eating Girl Scout cookies or dining at expensive restaurants. Should we sue someone whenever we don't like the results of what we do?
The consequence will be higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. If that's what our system of "justice" gives us, then something is badly wrong.
I want lower prices and more choices.
I'm not saying people shouldn't be able to sue a business when they have been harmed. But we should limit frivolous lawsuits the way the rest of the world does. The loser should have to pay the legal bills of the winner. It's only fair. It costs a lot of money to defend against a lawsuit, even a frivolous one.
Mr. Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News's "20/20" and the author of "Give Me a Break," just released in paperback.
Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun
Well, does he deserve it?
Conrad Black, Facing U.S. Trial, Embraces Canada He Once Vilified
By ELENA CHERNEY
October 13, 2006; Page B8
TORONTO -- When former newspaper baron Conrad Black renounced his Canadian citizenship five years ago, he derided the country of his birth as an underachieving, socialist land better suited to "someone just arrived from Haiti or Romania."
The chairman and chief executive of the trans-Atlantic newspaper publisher Hollinger International, Mr. Black also was a citizen of the United Kingdom, and he had just been named to the British House of Lords. The only catch: To become Lord Black of Crossharbour, the jet-setting Mr. Black had to give up his Canadian citizenship, because the Canadian government wouldn't agree to the peerage.
Now, Mr. Black appears to be having second thoughts as he prepares to stand trial next year in U.S. federal court in Chicago on fraud and racketeering charges. Charged along with three other former executives in connection with $84 million in company payments, Mr. Black has applied to have his Canadian citizenship restored. And he has embarked on a campaign to restore his tarnished image among Canadians, talking about Canada's international role -- and denouncing the case against him.
"He is re-establishing himself in the place where he's going to live," says Mr. Black's lawyer, Edward Greenspan. "This is where he was born, this is where he was raised, this is where he started his newspaper empire."
Since his indictment in the U.S. last year, Mr. Black has been living at his Toronto estate. He has been a regular on the Toronto social circuit. He declined through Mr. Greenspan to be interviewed.
Becoming a Canadian citizen wouldn't help Mr. Black avoid or delay the trial set for March, because he already has surrendered his right to fight extradition from Canada. But there is a potential benefit if Mr. Black is found guilty: Canada has nicer prisons. Canadians in the U.S. prison system can apply to transfer back to Canada. Mr. Black's former business partner, David Radler, who now is cooperating with prosecutors, indicated in his plea bargain he plans to apply to serve his sentence in Canada.
Mr. Greenspan dismisses the suggestion Mr. Black is seeking to regain citizenship so he can serve a sentence in Canada. "The only plan that we have is to be acquitted," he says.
In the meantime, Mr. Black is living under a cloud. "I want to get rid of any taint," he told an Ontario public-television interviewer last month in his first formal interview since his indictment.
Yesterday, Mr. Black got a warm welcome as the guest speaker at a luncheon of Toronto's Empire Club, which bills itself as North America's oldest speaking forum. After the traditional toast to "Her Majesty the Queen" and the lunch served by red-vested waitstaff, club president John Niles introduced Mr. Black as Lord Black of Crossharbour, to loud applause. "What is Canada after all without Lord Black, but diminished," said the Rev. Niles, who listed Mr. Black's accomplishments but made only a veiled reference to the charges against him, calling them "the difficulties."
Public attitudes toward Mr. Black appear to be softening. Some former associates he alienated say they now sympathize with him. "The Americans are being vicious with him," says Douglas Bassett, one of four independent directors who resigned from the board of parent company Hollinger Inc. three years ago, after the board at Hollinger International reported it had uncovered unauthorized payments to Mr. Black and other executives. (Hollinger International recently changed its name to Sun-Times Media Group Inc., after its flagship newspaper in Chicago.)
Mr. Bassett hasn't spoken to Mr. Black since resigning from the board. But he says his old friend "is innocent until proven guilty." The bail bond of more than $20 million that prosecutors demanded is overkill, Mr. Bassett adds.
Write to Elena Cherney at elena DOT cherney AT wsj DOT com
News from the battlefront in the war against Islamo-fascism...
From: Yahoo News
Canada troops battle 10-ft Afghan marijuana plants
Thu Oct 12, 4:14 PM ET
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy - almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three meter) high marijuana plants.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.
"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous - it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel - it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.
Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.
One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana.'"
Copyright 2006 - Reuters
An opinion from yours truly...
Sent: October 12, 2006 7:06:52 PM
Subject: RE: (cyf-talk) Alberta Alliance endorses Dr. Morton
No surprise here, Ted Morton would be a full-fledged Alberta Alliance member if only the Alliance had any hope of forming the government (or the official opposition) right now. Seriously, can anyone even name any of the other leadership candidates who ran against Paul Hinman? What Morton is essentially doing is running the Alberta Alliance platform under the Tory banner, because Morton understands that a decisive Tory victory is the only thing that will bring the Alliance to "power." I have to admit, I was a little disheartened when Morton chose to run as a Tory MLA instead of sitting in opposition for a term or two, having the guts to develop a true political challenge to the status quo rather than just aligning himself with the powers that be. But then again, conservatives fighting with Tories (the terms certainly don't have to be synonyms) often leaves us with Liberals... Liberals with power... in our legislatures... in Canada... We all know no one's making that one up.
Alberta Alliance leader backs Morton: Hinman urges party to follow
Oct 11, 2006 Page: A4
By: Jason Markusoff
Ted Morton's Conservative leadership bid has attracted the support of a high-profile MLA - an MLA not even in Morton's party.
Paul Hinman, leader of the right-leaning Alberta Alliance, confirmed Tuesday that he's urging his party's grassroots to buy Tory memberships and help elect Morton as leader and Alberta's next premier.
"I just told him that it's critical to get you in as premier and I'll see what I can do to help," Hinman said. Hinman and Morton praised their efforts as a unite-the-right fusion of like-minded conservatives, but they drew harsh words from not only some Progressive Conservatives, but also the Alliance's founding boss.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Randy Thorsteinson, who formed and led the party from 2002 until last year, when Hinman took over.
"If Ted Morton supported what the Alberta Alliance did, he'd be a member of the Alliance. Ted Morton's a Tory, and I'm not a Tory."
But to Hinman and party president John Murdoch, Morton has won their praise because his platform mirrors several of their own views, from strident opposition to same-sex marriage and support of private health care to creating an Alberta-only police force and pension plan.
Both men have committed themselves to supporting the rookie MLA's leadership campaign. On Tuesday, Murdoch drafted a letter he'll send to every Alliance member - if party council approves - saying Alliance members should become PC members and that Morton is their man.
"We're not campaigning for Ted Morton," Murdoch insisted. "We're campaigning for the Alliance party's platform."
Hinman and Murdoch refuse to say it decisively, but suggest they may join the Tories if Morton becomes leader.
"The realism is that the Alliance party is here to move the province towards more traditionally conservative values," Murdoch said. "However we do that, as long as it's legal, we'd be more than happy to do it."
Morton, a former University of Calgary political scientist, has stressed throughout the campaign that the PCs must stop bleeding support on its right flank. He notes that 210,000 fewer voters picked the Tories in the 2004 election than in 2001. Meanwhile, Thorsteinson's upstart Alliance picked up 77,500 votes and got Hinman as its first elected MLA in the southern Cardston-Taber-Warner.
It's time to "bring them home," Morton said.
Thorsteinson, who also once ran against Klein as Social Credit leader, said the party should not abandon its mission to replace the Tories altogether.
"It's bewildering to me. I think the Progressive Conservatives are incapable of change, and the only way you can change Alberta is for a whole new party to come in and take over. I think it's faulty logic on John and Paul's part."
Copyright 2006 - The Calgary Herald
OMG!!! The Liberals? Corrupt? No way...
Another Liberal Scandal Exposed
04 October 2006
Liberals still don't get it, after the sponsorship scandal, the Gomery Commission and a stinging electoral backlash against Liberal corruption, it looks like the Liberals still haven’t learned a thing. The Public Service Commission of Canada has revealed that Liberal ministerial aides were given phantom public service jobs in the dying hours of the Liberal regime after the election but before Canada’s New Government was sworn in.
Canadians voted for a government that would clean up Ottawa in the wake of the corruption of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. And yet, even after the Liberals were thrown out of office in January, they continued to use tax dollars to reward their political friends.
Now the Liberal dominated Senate is holding up the passage of tough new accountability laws. Canadians have a right to know, why?
Ordinary Canadians cannot be faulted this week for wondering what, exactly, it will take for the Liberal Party of Canada to recognize that families and taxpayers want accountability and good, clean government from Ottawa.
This week’s release of the Public Service Commission of Canada’s Annual Report highlighted yet another tale of Liberal treachery at the taxpayer trough. In this latest display of arrogance, newly-defeated ministers of the previous Liberal government used their clout to create phantom jobs in the public service for their trusted aides, allowing them to bypass a wait list.
In other words, the Liberals once again abused their power to give preferential treatment to their friends – at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer.
Thankfully, the Public Service Commission put an end to the practice and withdrew the two positions in question. Now if only someone could get the Liberal Senate to take similar action on accountability.
Elected on a promise to clean up Ottawa, Canada’s New Government moved quickly to pass the Federal Accountability Act, the toughest anti-corruption measure in Canadian history.
Unions and leftists only want to hurt oil companies...
Push for New Policy Puts Oil-Rich West At Odds With Big Automakers in East
By: Doug Struck - Washington Post Foreign Service
TORONTO, Oct. 4 -- Canada's conservative government, groping for a new policy on climate change, is facing a dilemma over how to deal with greenhouse gas emissions from the hugely profitable Alberta oil fields in western Canada.
At a meeting with auto industry executives Tuesday, government officials backed away from reports that they would impose California's tough emissions standards on the auto industry in eastern Canada. The curbs had drawn loud protests from auto industry supporters, who contend that the oil fields should bear the greater brunt in addressing climate change.
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The meeting exposed bitter differences between eastern and western Canada about who should shoulder the cost of curbing greenhouse gases.
Critics said the government's retreat -- officials told auto executives that new regulations would be negotiated with them over the next three years -- shows that Ottawa is floundering in its attempt to produce an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, elected in January as head of a Conservative Party government, has said that the 1997 international agreement to limit greenhouse gases is unworkable, but he has yet to produce the alternative strategy he promised.
"They are trying to convince Canadians they are doing something on the environment when they are not," said John Bennett, a senior policy adviser with the Sierra Club of Canada. "It's just spin."
The environment minister, Rona Ambrose, publicly summoned executives of the big automakers and the autoworkers union to Ottawa on Tuesday, after leaked reports that she would announce tougher standards as part of a new government climate change plan.
But the executives emerged from the meeting visibly relieved that the reports had proved baseless. "Nothing of substance was discussed," an official of Honda Canada, Jim Miller, told the Toronto Star. "It's the start of consultations."
Ambrose declined to comment after the meeting, but in Parliament on Wednesday she described the gathering as "very positive" and said the automakers "understand that Canadians want cleaner air."
Critics said the government backed off because tougher new policies could set off a fight between Ontario in eastern Canada, second only to Michigan in the production of cars for North America, and Alberta, Harper's oil-producing constituency in the west.
The oil extracted from Alberta's immense deposits of tarry sand has made Canada the leading supplier to the United States and fueled an economic boom. A report from the office of Canada's auditor general last week criticized the past and current governments for failing to curb the increase in greenhouse gases that has accompanied the boom.
The carbon dioxide released during oil production accounted for 28 percent of Canada's increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, the report noted. As the oil sands project grows, emissions may double between 2004 and 2015.
"There is no doubt the oil sands are the elephant in the room," said Matthew Bramley, director of climate change studies at the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit research group. "Canada cannot have a credible climate change policy until it confronts emissions from the oil sands."
Environmental groups say they believe the oil producers could greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions through such techniques as burying the carbon dioxide. They also argue that Canada could engage in transactions known as carbon trading to remain compliant with the Kyoto pact's quotas. Under this kind of trading, the country would swap the right to emit carbon dioxide gas in return for investing in carbon-absorbing projects.
But the government has said it opposes adopting such a program or taxing the oil producers to encourage such measures. Ambrose has "given a free ride to her friends in the oil industry," Nathan Cullen, a lawmaker with the opposition New Democratic Party, said Wednesday.
Ambrose's meeting with automakers sparked fierce criticism that Ontario's auto industry could face tougher greenhouse gas regulations than the western-based oil producers.
"The one thing we will not abide is any effort by the national government to unduly impose greenhouse gas emission reductions on Ontario at the expense of our auto sector," Ontario's premier, Dalton McGuinty, said Tuesday.
He was joined by Canadian Auto Workers Union President Buzz Hargrove, who said tougher restrictions on the ailing auto industry are untenable.
"We are faced with an industry losing billions and workers losing their jobs," Hargrove told reporters before the meeting. "The oil and gas industry is making billions of dollars. If someone's going to contribute something, surely there should be some balance."
Copyright 2006 - The Washington Post
Lefties hate debate that doesn't fit into their own worldviews...
Violence at Columbia
New York Sun Editorial
October 6, 2006
Thousands of New Yorkers spent their mornings yesterday clicking on a video on the Internet showing the astounding melee that was permitted to take place on Columbia University's campus Wednesday evening. The violence erupted when a crowd led by the student chapter of the International Socialist Organization rushed a stage where the founder of the Minutemen, Jim Gilchrist, tried to deliver a speech. They could see the university's own police failing to take action to defend the rights of the speaker, who was being hosted by the campus Republican club. And they had to be wondering, as we were, where is the adult supervision on Morningside Heights.
It's not that some Columbia students chose to disagree with Mr. Gilchrist — this newspaper does, too. It would have been entirely appropriate for school administrators to allow students to protest peaceably outside the lecture hall or to host a competing event. The university's willingness to allow this event to devolve into pandemonium, however, speaks volumes about its commitment to fostering open debate. The video of the event shows campus police officers — paid for by the Columbia College Republicans — standing by just feet away as students overturned tables and chairs onstage and proceeded to attack Mr. Gilchrist and his fellow Minuteman, Marvin Stewart.
The failure of Columbia's administration to make even the meekest effort to secure what it knew would be a heated environment in order to allow open debate is shocking. Its protestations after the violence were unconvincing. "We defend the right to peaceful protest and expression of opposing views," a spokesman for Columbia, Robert Hornsby, told us. "But it is never acceptable for anyone to physically take to a stage and interrupt a speaker." So why did campus police officers stand idly by as the physical intimidation of a speaker ensued?
It only gets worse. After letting the perpetrators escape, university administrators had the gall to berate the president of Columbia's College Republicans, Christopher Kulawik, for allowing his guests to infuriate the crowd, according to Mr. Kulawik. In other words, despite formally nodding to the value of free speech, Columbia is effectively blaming the victim for inciting the chaos. "It's a horrible feeling to know your peers are willing to resort to violence when they disagree with you," Mr. Kulawik told our Eliana Johnson. Yet Mr. Kulawik's peers could be forgiven for thinking they'd get away with it, given their school's troubled history on free speech.
Two years ago, we took issue with anti-Israel professors in the university's Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department. These professors, among them Joseph Massad, were accused by students of bullying those with opposing viewpoints. Mr. Massad mocked the Jewish students by arguing, as our Jacob Gershman reported at the time, that Zionists are the premier propagators of anti-Semitism. President Bollinger convened a committee to look into the students' allegations. Committee members included Lisa Anderson, now dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, who, while she sat on the committee, signed a letter to President Bollinger that decried the students' allegations as a "campaign of defamation." That committee came up dry, and Mr. Massad has since been promoted to associate professor.
After the melee against the Minutemen, the New York Police Department told our Bradley Hope that no complaints have been filed, nor arrests made, so far. Police outside the building at the time were not asked to intervene. But if criminal complaints are filed, it may be that, given the default of the administration of Columbia, Commissioner Kelly and his department are the city's — and students' — last best hope for adult supervision on the campus that was once thought of as the crown jewel of higher education in New York.
Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun