February 06, 2009
STOP THE MONOPOLY!!!
'Too Old' for Hip Surgery
As we inch towards nationalized health care, important lessons from north of the border.
By: NADEEM ESMAIL
FEBRUARY 9, 2009
President Obama and Congressional Democrats are inching the U.S. toward government-run health insurance. Last week's expansion of Schip - the State Children's Health Insurance Program - is a first step. Before proceeding further, here's a suggestion: Look at Canada's experience.
Health-care resources are not unlimited in any country, even rich ones like Canada and the U.S., and must be rationed either by price or time. When individuals bear no direct responsibility for paying for their care, as in Canada, that care is rationed by waiting.
Canadians often wait months or even years for necessary care. For some, the status quo has become so dire that they have turned to the courts for recourse. Several cases currently before provincial courts provide studies in what Americans could expect from government-run health insurance.
In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan in January of 2006. Deciding that the wait was untenable, Mr. McCreith did what a lot of Canadians do: He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor.
Ontario's government system still refused to provide timely treatment, offering instead a months-long wait for surgery. In the end, Mr. McCreith returned to Buffalo and paid for surgery that may have saved his life. He's challenging Ontario's government-run monopoly health-insurance system, claiming it violates the right to life and security of the person guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Shona Holmes, another Ontario court challenger, endured a similarly harrowing struggle. In March of 2005, Ms. Holmes began losing her vision and experienced headaches, anxiety attacks, extreme fatigue and weight gain. Despite an MRI scan showing a brain tumor, Ms. Holmes was told she would have to wait months to see a specialist. In June, her vision deteriorating rapidly, Ms. Holmes went to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where she found that immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent vision loss and potentially death. Again, the government system in Ontario required more appointments and more tests along with more wait times. Ms. Holmes returned to the Mayo Clinic and paid for her surgery.
On the other side of the country in Alberta, Bill Murray waited in pain for more than a year to see a specialist for his arthritic hip. The specialist recommended a "Birmingham" hip resurfacing surgery (a state-of-the-art procedure that gives better results than basic hip replacement) as the best medical option. But government bureaucrats determined that Mr. Murray, who was 57, was "too old" to enjoy the benefits of this procedure and said no. In the end, he was also denied the opportunity to pay for the procedure himself in Alberta. He's heading to court claiming a violation of Charter rights as well.
These constitutional challenges, along with one launched in British Columbia last month, share a common goal: to win Canadians the freedom to spend their own money to protect themselves from the inadequacies of the government health-insurance system.
The cases find their footing in a landmark ruling on Quebec health insurance in 2005. The Supreme Court of Canada found that Canadians suffer physically and psychologically while waiting for treatment in the public health-care system, and that the government monopoly on essential health services imposes a risk of death and irreparable harm. The Supreme Court ruled that Quebec's prohibition on private health insurance violates citizen rights as guaranteed by that province's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
The experiences of these Canadians - along with the untold stories of the 750,794 citizens waiting a median of 17.3 weeks from mandatory general-practitioner referrals to treatment in 2008 - show how miserable things can get when government is put in charge of managing health insurance.
In the wake of the 2005 ruling, Canada's federal and provincial governments have tried unsuccessfully to fix the long wait times by introducing selective benchmarks and guarantees along with large increases in funding. The benchmarks and the guarantees aren't ambitious: four to eight weeks for radiation therapy; 16 to 26 weeks for cataract surgery; 26 weeks for hip and knee replacements and lower-urgency cardiac bypass surgery.
Canada's system comes at the cost of pain and suffering for patients who find themselves stuck on waiting lists with nowhere to go. Americans can only hope that Barack Obama heeds the lessons that can be learned from Canadian hardships.
Mr. Esmail, based in Calgary, is the director of Health System Performance Studies at The Fraser Institute.
Copyright 2009 - The Wall Street Journal
Oh Barack, you go girl...
Obama mythology could use some stimulus:
Far from walking on water, president seems all at sea.
By: Mark Steyn
Friday, February 6, 2009
In The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne tried to break it gently to us:
"No occupant of the White House has ever been able to walk on water."
Yeah, sure, no previous occupant of the White House has been able to walk on water – your Eisenhowers and Roosevelts, your Chester Arthurs and Grover Clevelands and whatnot. But Barack didn't run as just another of those squaresville losers. He was gonna heal the planet and lower the oceans. So, even if he couldn't walk on water, he should at least be able to paddle in it. "He is a community organizer like Jesus was," said Susan Sarandon, "and now we're a community, and he can organize us."
So how's that going? Jesus took a handful of loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 people. Barack wants to take a trillion pieces of pork and feed it to a handful of Democratic Party interest groups. Jesus picked twelve disciples. Barack seems to have gone more for one of those "Dirty Dozen" caper-movie lineups, where the mission is so perilous and so audacious that only the scuzziest lowlifes recruited from every waterfront dive have any chance of pulling it off. The ends justify the mean SOBs: "Indispensable Tim" Geithner, wanted in 12 jurisdictions for claiming his kid's summer camp as a business expense, is the only guy with the savvy to crack the code of the U.S. economy. Tom "Home, James!" Daschle is the ruthless backseat driver who can figure out how to steer the rusting gurney of U.S. health care through the corridors of power. Charles Bronson is the hardbitten psycho ex-con who can't go straight but knows how to turn around the Department of the Interior.
And, of course, there's the lovable dough-faced shnook in the front office, Robert "Fall Guy" Gibbs. He didn't do nuthin' wrong, but, when seven nominees die in a grisly shootout with a Taxable Benefit Swat Team in the alley behind the Senate, he makes the mistake of looking sweaty and shifty answering routine questions.
A president doesn't have to be able to walk on water. But he does have to choose the right crew for the ship, especially if he's planning on spending most of his time at the captain's table, schmoozing the celebrity guests with a lot of deep thoughts about "hope" and "change." Far worse than his Cabinet picks was President Obama's decision to make the "stimulus" racket the all-but-sole-priority of his first month and then outsource the project to Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and Harry Reid.
Appearing on "The Rush Limbaugh Show" last week, I got a little muddled over two adjoining newspaper clippings – one on the stimulus, the other on those octuplets in California – and for a brief moment the two stories converged. Everyone's hammering that mom – she's divorced, unemployed, living in a small house with parents who have a million bucks' worth of debt, and she's already got six kids. So she has in vitro fertilization to have eight more. But isn't that exactly what the Feds have done? Last fall, they gave birth to $850 billion of bailout they couldn't afford and didn't have enough time to keep an eye on, and now, four months later, they're going to do it all over again, but this time they want trillionuplets. Barney and Nancy represent the in vitro fertilization of the federal budget. And it's the taxpayers who'll get stuck with the diapers.
Those supporters who were wary of touting Obama as the walk-on-water Messiah did their best to lower expectations by hailing him merely as the new FDR. You remember the old FDR – "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Ha! With the new New Deal, we have everything to fear. As President Obama warned Tuesday, "A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe." If you're of those moonstruck Obammysoxers still driving around with the "HOPE, NOT FEAR" bumper stickers, please note that, due to an unfortunate proofreading error at the printing plant, certain nouns in that phrase may have become accidentally transposed.
As it happens, the best way to ensure catastrophe is to "act now." It would be nice if the world could all prance along in regimented unison like the Radio City Changettes. But, alas, the foreigners made the mistake of actually reading the "stimulus" bill, and the protectionist measures buried on page 739 subsection XII(d) ended, instantly, the Obama honeymoon overseas. The European Union has threatened a trade war. Up in Canada, provincial premiers called it "a march to insanity." Wait a minute, I thought the Obama era was meant to be the retreat from insanity, a blessed return to multilateral transnational harmony.
As longtime readers will know, I'm all in favor of flipping the bird to the global community. But at least, when Rummy was doing his shtick about "Old Europe," he did it intentionally. To cheese off the foreigners entirely accidentally before you've even had your first black-tie banquet is quite an accomplishment. Protectionism is serious business to the Continentals. Oh, to be sure, if the swaggering unilateralist Yank cowboy invades some Third World basket-case they'll seize on it as an opportunity for some cheap moral posturing. But in the end they don't much care one way or the other. Plunging the planet into global depression, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.
The bloated nonstimulus and the undertaxed nominees are part of the same story. I'm with Tom Daschle: I understand why he had no desire to toss another six-figure sum into the great sucking maw of the federal Treasury. Who knows better than a senator who's voted for every tax increase to cross his desk that all this dough is entirely wasted? Tom and Tim Geithner and Charlie Rangel and all the rest are right: They can do more good with the money than the United States government can. I only wish they followed the logic of their behavior and recognized that what works for them would also work for every other citizen. Instead, they insist that the sole solution to our woes is a record-setting wasteful government spending spree.
Maybe it's time for President Obama to come out and give one of his big hopey-changey speeches. It's been a few weeks now, and I kinda miss them. You know – "We are the change we've been waiting for." "We have nothing to hope for but hope itself." "Ask not what your hope can change for you, ask what you can hope for your change." Etc.
But I wonder if the old songs from last month's hit parade would play as well today. On Wednesday, Salon headlined a story on Obama: "The New Great Communicator... Isn't." Oh, dear. It's early days yet, but the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality, between the audacity of hope and the reality of pork, yawns ever wider. Right now, it's the Obama mythology that urgently needs some stimulus. Some of us never expected him to walk on water. But we didn't think he'd be all at sea taking on quite so much of it after a mere two weeks.
© MARK STEYN
Waaaaait a minute...
Over the past several weeks, the Canadian press has reported that at least six detainees currently held at Guantanamo are interested in seeking refugee status north of America's border. But the Canadian government should be wary of accepting them. Canadian officials should carefully evaluate their cases, including the unclassified files the U.S. government has released for each of them. Three of the six detainees have especially troubling ties to al Qaeda. And there is no question that one of them is an exceptionally dangerous threat.
Consider the case of a Mauritanian named Mohamedou Slahi, who spent only a few months of his pre-Guantanamo life in Canada. During his hearings at Guantanamo, Slahi expressed an interest in returning to Canada. It would be surprising, however, if the Obama administration set him free. There is little doubt that Slahi was an important al Qaeda recruiter, who operated in the West for the better part of a decade.
Among Slahi's most notorious recruits were four of the September 11 conspirators, all of whom were members of the infamous Hamburg cell. According to the U.S. government's unclassified files and the 9-11 Commission's report, Slahi arranged for Ramzi Binalshibh, al Qaeda's point man for the September 11 operation, and three of his cohorts to travel from Germany to Afghanistan so that they could train in al Qaeda's camps and swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Binalshibh's three friends were Mohammed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah - the suicide pilots of American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, and United Airlines Flight 93, respectively.
Along with Binalshibh, Shehhi and Jarrah met with Slahi in late 1999. They followed Slahi's instructions on how to get to Afghanistan for training and who to meet with along the way. Atta followed Slahi's instructions as well, and all four the future hijackers left for Afghanistan in November of 1999.
The rest is, unfortunately, history.
After recruiting the Hamburg cell, Slahi left for Montreal the next month, in December of 1999. There, he began attending a local mosque where he was tasked with reciting the daily prayers and met an Algerian immigrant named Ahmed Ressam. Within weeks of Slahi's arrival, Ressam was arrested on the Canadian-U.S. border in a car packed with explosives. Ressam was en route to the LAX airport, where he hoped to take part in al Qaeda's planned millennium bombings.
The U.S. government has long suspected that Slahi activated Ressam's cell for the millennium plot. The government's unclassified files note that Slahi is "a suspected facilitator of the failed millennium bombing conspiracy." Shortly after Ressam was detained, Canadian and U.S. authorities began investigating Slahi, but they did not have enough evidence to arrest him. Feeling the heat of the investigation, Slahi left Montreal in January of 2000 - just a short time after arriving there. He was later questioned by various governments and eventually detained in Mauritania in November of 2001.
Slahi's detention at Guantanamo has been controversial because of the interrogation techniques used on him. Lt. Col. Stuart Crouch, the prosecutor who was charged with seeking Slahi's conviction by a military commission, decided he could not move forward with Slahi's prosecution because the evidence was tainted by these techniques. But this does not mean that Slahi is an innocent. Crouch himself told the Wall Street Journal in 2007, "Of the cases I had seen, [Slahi] was the one with the most blood on his hands."
And while Slahi denied many of the allegations against him during his hearings at Guantanamo, he made some important admissions as well. Slahi admitted that he swore bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Osama bin Laden, and was trained in al Qaeda's notorious al Farouq camp.
Slahi's denials at Guantanamo are also not credible. For example, Slahi admitted that he transferred a large sum of money that was linked to al Qaeda, but claimed he did not know it was for terrorist purposes. Slahi claimed he moved the money for a cousin who called him from a satellite phone linked to Osama bin Laden, but Slahi says he did not know bin Laden was involved. Slahi's cousin is Abu Hafs the Mauritanian - a senior al Qaeda theologian and long-time spiritual advisor to bin Laden.
Another current Guantanamo detainee who reportedly wants to relocate to Canada is an Algerian named Hassan (Ahcene) Zumiri. Like Slahi, Zumiri was involved with Ressam, the would-be millennium bomber. Zumiri and Ressam were, according to the U.S. government's unclassified files, personal friends.
Ressam told U.S. authorities that Zumiri gave him $3,500 (Canadian) and a video camera just before he left Montreal for Vancouver in late 1999. It was in a Vancouver motel room that Ressam built his car bomb. Obviously, the money and camera are suspicious gifts. The U.S. government has alleged that the money was for financing Ressam's plot and the camera was to be used for surveillance of the LAX airport.
Suspiciously, Ressam would later recant his allegations against Zumiri in a letter to a U.S. district court judge. Ressam claimed that Zumiri had borrowed the money and the camera from him, and neither was intended for use in the LAX plot. Ressam claimed that he initially made the allegations against Zumiri because he was in "shock" and suffered from a "severe psychological disorder."
It is not clear what Ressam's motivation was for sending the letter. He did not deny that he and Zumiri had exchanged cash and the camera. He only denied that the exchange had anything to do with the millennium plot. Ressam also tried to distance Zumiri from terrorism, in general.
But, the U.S. government does not believe that Zumiri is an innocent who just happened to assist an al Qaeda terrorist at the wrong time. The government's unclassified files include a host of allegations concerning both Zumiri and his wife. Zumiri spent several years living in Canada, during which time he and his wife were allegedly involved in a variety of illicit activities, including credit card fraud. But the U.S. government charges these criminal activities were part of Zumiri's terrorist career. Zumiri allegedly traveled on fraudulent passports, stayed in various al Qaeda guest houses en route from Canada to Afghanistan, had ties to al Qaeda's Algerian affiliate, and trained in an al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist camp in Afghanistan.
Zumiri was eventually captured by Northern Alliance forces in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in December of 2001. Tora Bora was, of course, a terrorist stronghold. Al Qaeda and Taliban members were ordered to retreat to there after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan began in late 2001.
Zumiri's wife was also detained at some point. According to the U.S. government's files, she had in her possession $13,000 and "a mini-computer containing [the] addresses/telephone information of al Qaeda figures." Zumiri denies knowing anything about his wife's curious pocket litter.
A third Guantanamo detainee who reportedly wants to live in Canada is Djamel Ameziane. Like Zemiri, Ameziane is a native Algerian who spent several years living in Canada in the 1990's and reportedly wants to return there should he be freed. The U.S. government's unclassified files for Ameziane do not include as many troubling allegations as the files on Slahi and Zemiri. However, the files on Ameziane do include some important allegations that Canadian officials should consider.
The U.S. government alleges that Ameziane met a Tunisian recruiter at a mosque in late 2000. This Tunisian gave Ameziane "1,200 to 1,500 Canadian Dollars and told him to go to a guest house in Kati Parwan, Afghanistan," the unclassified files note. The government's files note that Ameziane described "the majority of boarders in the house" as "Taliban fighters," who were waiting for "training or resting after returning from the front lines."
Not just anyone can gain admittance to a Taliban guesthouse. Usually, recruits need a certified Taliban or al Qaeda member to vouch for their commitment and to certify that they are, in fact, a jihadist. This is a standard security protocol that both the al Qaeda and the Taliban employ. It limits the ability of spies and enemies to infiltrate the terrorist network. And if one does make his way into the jihadists' safe houses, then the man who vouched for the spy must answer to his superiors for allowing an enemy into their ranks. This provides an additional level of security.
According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Tunisian recruiter Ameziane met in Montreal may be an experienced al Qaeda handler named Raouf Hannachi, who reportedly recruited Ahmed Ressam for al Qaeda as well. In the mid-1990's, Hannachi himself was recruited into al Qaeda by another senior al Qaeda terrorist named Abousofian Abdelrazik, who is a designated terrorist under Executive Order 13224. Abdelrzik was, in turn, closely associated with Abu Zubaydah, the senior al Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam fingered as the senior al Qaeda member in charge of the millennium plots.
Thus, it is entirely possible that Ameziane was recruited by the same Canadian-based network that served as al Qaeda's forward base of operations for the millennium plot. It is not clear what Ameziane was doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. government's unclassified files do not indicate that he is suspected of fighting or training in a terrorist camp. Instead, Ameziane allegedly "wanted to go to Afghanistan because he believed the Taliban had created the only country which was truly Islamic," and he "wanted to live somewhere with only Sharia Law." It is possible that he was a new recruit or serving some other function for the Taliban or al Qaeda. It is also possible that the U.S. government has more information on Ameziane's activities in its classified files.
After the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan began in late 2001, Ameziane allegedly retreated to Tora Bora. From there, he illegally entered Pakistan and was arrested. Ameziane escaped from Pakistani custody when the bus he was being transported in was hijacked and overturned by its riders. Ameziane was injured in the bus incident and captured a short time later. He was then turned over to the United States and detained at Guantanamo.
Canada's government would be wise to deny Slahi, Zumiri, and Ameziane the privilege of immigrating. In all probability, all three of these Guantanamo detainees pose a threat to both Canadian and American security.
Thomas Joscelyn is the senior editor of the website Long War Journal.
Copyright 2009 - The Weekly Standard
Very interesting point made...
Outreach, Yes. Apology, No.
We've Never Been Islam's Enemy
By: Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 30, 2009; Page A19
Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims by saying "to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.
Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."
Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years - the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world - America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved - and resulted in - the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The two Balkan interventions - as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) - were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?
And what of that happy U.S.-Muslim relationship that Obama imagines existed "as recently as 20 or 30 years ago" that he has now come to restore? Thirty years ago, 1979, saw the greatest U.S.-Muslim rupture in our 233-year history: Iran's radical Islamic revolution, the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, the 14 months of America held hostage.
Which came just a few years after the Arab oil embargo that sent the United States into a long and punishing recession. Which, in turn, was preceded by the kidnapping and cold-blooded execution by Arab terrorists of the U.S. ambassador in Sudan and his chargé d'affaires.
This is to say nothing of the Marine barracks massacre of 1983, and the innumerable attacks on U.S. embassies and installations around the world during what Obama now characterizes as the halcyon days of U.S.-Islamic relations.
Look. If Barack Obama wants to say, as he said to al-Arabiya, I have Muslim roots, Muslim family members, have lived in a Muslim country - implying a special affinity that uniquely positions him to establish good relations - that's fine. But it is both false and deeply injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized.
As in Obama's grand admonition: "We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name." Have "we" been doing that, smearing Islam because of a small minority? George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington six days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the fires of Ground Zero were still smoldering, to declare "Islam is peace," to extend fellowship and friendship to Muslims, to insist that Americans treat them with respect and generosity of spirit.
And America listened. In these seven years since Sept. 11 - seven years during which thousands of Muslims rioted all over the world (resulting in the death of more than 100) to avenge a bunch of cartoons - there's not been a single anti-Muslim riot in the United States to avenge the massacre of 3,000 innocents. On the contrary. In its aftermath, we elected our first Muslim member of Congress and our first president of Muslim parentage.
"My job," says Obama, "is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives." That's his job? Do the American people think otherwise? Does he think he is bravely breaking new ground? George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and countless other leaders offered myriad expressions of that same universalist sentiment.
Every president has the right to portray himself as ushering in a new era of this or that. Obama wants to pursue new ties with Muslim nations, drawing on his own identity and associations. Good. But when his self-inflation as redeemer of U.S.-Muslim relations leads him to suggest that pre-Obama America was disrespectful or insensitive or uncaring of Muslims, he is engaging not just in fiction but in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead.
Iran has already responded to the Obama overture. In perfect tune with Obama's defensiveness, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that better relations might be possible - after America apologized for 60 years of crimes against Iran. Note the 60 years. The mullahs are as mystified by Obama's pre-1979 (or 1989) good old days as I am.
Copyright 2009 - The Washington Post
As pertaining to the previous article...
January 26, 2009
Section 13 is the censorship provision that Islamic activists attempted to use against Maclean's magazine over an excerpt that they published of Mark Steyn's book "America Alone".
Even Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor, who was commissioned by the CHRC itself, made the repeal of Section 13 his top recommendation. Freedom fighter Ezra Levant has noted that this recommendation humiliated the CHRC head Jennifer Lynch (interesting surname for the top official at the CHRC), but what's done is done. (Jennifer Lynch has also become an international embarrassment and must be fired immediately by the Justice Minister.)
It is clear more than ever today that only the most extreme statists support Section 13. Nobody with even a moderate love of freedom supports that outrageous provision.
Ezra Levant has just reported that the Justice Department has launched an internal review of section 13. This is good news, but it means that concerned Canadians need to use this opportunity to drive the review to the appropriate conclusion. We need to urge the government to follow through and we need to publicly support such a move instead of leaving the politicians to do the work - and face the flack - on their own.
For too long, the Conservative government refused to act on this issue, despite the expressions of concern made individually by many of their MPs. Even the party's membership expressed near unanimous support for repealing this provision at their policy convention late last year, yet the party leadership was silent.
Many people will argue that the government needs to focus on the economy today, so reform of the CHRA should not be a priority. Nonsense. Most people understand that adults have to juggle more than one ball at any given time. Don't let the Prime Minister or your own politician get away with this excuse.
In October, lawyer Gerry Chipeur urged those who attended the ECP Centre's Ignite Our Culture conference to contact the Prime Minister and other politicians to urge them to repeal Section 13. (Click here to watch the interview.) Mr. Chipeur understands the devastation of "human rights" commissions to fundamental liberties because he is the lawyer representing Alberta Christian leader Stephen Boissoin in one of the most militantly anti-Christian campaigns ever launched in Canada.
It seems these politicians are too distracted or cowardly to act without pressure from the voters, so we are urging you again to contact the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Justice Minister, all the party leaders (Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe), and your own MP to urge them to make the repeal of Section 13 a priority in the early days of this new Session of Parliament.
Ezra Levant reports that a positive aspect of an internal review is that it avoids the kind of procedural antics that bogged down the Justice Committee, preventing it from reviewing the CHRA in the last Parliament.
But a real concern he raises about an internal review is that it would only draw upon opinions within the government - which makes the investigation "not much more independent than the CHRC's token review undertaken by their hand-picked consultant, the well-paid Professor Richard Moon." Furthermore, Levant comments, "Another concern - my biggest, actually - is that the CHRC will mislead any Justice Department review, an no-one will be there to catch them. The CHRC has shown themselves untroubled by withholding key information, by breaching their own legal requirements as set out under their statute, and by breaching other laws, such as national privacy laws and access to information laws. They don't even have an internal ethics code. How do they feel about honesty over there? Put it this way: they hired a corrupt ex-cop, drummed out of her police force as bad news. In other words, besides the inherent bias in an internal review towards keeping section 13 (a bias one might expect from bureaucrats and lawyers who work for the government) there is a worry that the CHRC will misrepresent key facts about its conduct, and those misrepresentations will happen in private, and won't be detected by the reviewers."
So, your job and the ECP Centre's job is not to let up until the Conservative government has fulfilled this most elementary expression of democratic civility - the REPEAL of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
For more information, please contact the ECP Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 613-482-1790.
Copyright 2009 - The ECP Centre
Kind of an important lesson over here too, huh?
Silencing Islam's Critics:
A Dutch court imports Saudi blasphemy norms to Europe.
JANUARY 22, 2009
The latest twist in the clash between Western values and the Muslim world took place yesterday in the Netherlands, where a court ordered the prosecution of lawmaker and provocateur Geert Wilders for inciting violence. The Dutch MP and leader of the Freedom Party, which opposes Muslim immigration into Holland, will stand trial soon for his harsh criticism of Islam.
Mr. Wilders made world news last year with the short film "Fitna." In the 15-minute video, he juxtaposes Koranic verses calling for jihad with clips of Islamic hate preachers and terror attacks. He has compared the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and urged Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" verses from their scripture. This is a frontal assault on Islam - but, as Mr. Wilders points out, he's targeting the religion, not its followers. "Fitna," in fact, sparked a refreshing debate between moderate Muslims and non-Muslims in the Netherlands, and beyond.
There are of course limits to free speech, such as calls for violence. But one doesn't need to agree with Mr. Wilders to acknowledge that he hasn't crossed that line. Some Muslims say they are outraged by his statements. But if freedom of speech means anything, it means the freedom of controversial speech. Consensus views need no protection.
This is exactly what Dutch prosecutors said in June when they rejected the complaints against Mr. Wilders. "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable," the prosecutors said in a statement. "Freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society. That means that offensive comments can be made in a political debate."
The court yesterday overruled this decision, arguing that the lawmaker should be prosecuted for "inciting hatred and discrimination" and also "for insulting Muslim worshippers because of comparisons between Islam and Nazism." This is no small victory for Islamic regimes seeking to export their censorship laws to wherever Muslims reside. But the successful integration of Muslims in Europe will require that immigrants adapt to Western norms, not vice versa. Limiting the Dutch debate of Islam to standards acceptable in, say, Saudi Arabia, will only shore up support for Mr. Wilders's argument that Muslim immigration is eroding traditional Dutch liberties.
Copyright 2009 - The Wall Street Journal
Freedom = progress and prosperity...
Freedom Is Still the Winning Formula:
It would be a shame if countries respond to the downturn with policies that further retard growth.
By: TERRY MILLER
JANUARY 13, 2009
As former Texas Longhorn coach Darrell Royal liked to say, when faced with a challenging bowl game, you need to "dance with the one who brung you" to the party. Mr. Royal meant that even when faced with daunting new challenges, one would be well advised not to abandon a winning formula that had already brought success. That is good advice as the United States and other economies face the daunting task of restoring economic growth.
The "party" in this case is the six decades of increasing prosperity that the world has enjoyed since the end of World War II. U.S. Gross Domestic Product was about $1.6 trillion in 1947 (valued in 2000 dollars), a little over $11,000 for every man, woman and child. In 2007, it was $11.5 trillion, or about $38,000 per capita. That's almost a doubling of average incomes each generation, made possible by the free market's efficiency in allocating capital and labor.
Capitalism, the U.S. dance partner during this period of unprecedented economic growth, is, by the accounts of political leftists, no longer the smartest looking companion on the dance floor. They like the looks of other systems like socialism much better. Yet despite recent setbacks, they would be hard pressed to deny that capitalism steps out more nimbly than its rivals, and keeps up with the music far more surely.
For 15 years, The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation have been measuring countries' commitment to free-market capitalism in the "Index of Economic Freedom." The 2009 Index, published this week, provides strong evidence that the countries that maintain the freest economies do the best job of promoting prosperity for all citizens.
The positive correlation between economic freedom and national income is confirmed yet again by this year's data. The freest countries enjoy per capita incomes over 10 times higher than those in countries ranked as "repressed." This year, for the first time, the Index also correlates economic freedom with important societal values like poverty reduction, human development, political freedom and environmental protection. The linkages are robust, with economically freer countries performing significantly better on every indicator of well-being.
Those tempted to abandon the free market and capitalism in the current crisis need to look carefully at the record of countries moving down that path. In 2009, it is Zimbabwe that has lost the most economic freedom, dropping 6.7 points on the Index's 0-100 scale and falling to next-to-last place. Deficit spending, the expropriation of land and resources, and government support of favored enterprises have destroyed the economy; hyperinflation and corruption have devastated the nation.
Venezuela recorded the second largest drop in the Index, losing 4.8 points as a result of price controls, currency devaluations, nationalizations and the corruption that characterize Hugo Chávez's brand of Bolivarian socialism.
Hong Kong and Singapore are once again the freest economies in the world, followed in the rankings by Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. The U.S. slipped one spot to sixth place this year because of increases in both tax revenue and government spending as a percentage of GDP.
The biggest success stories in the Index of Economic Freedom continue to be the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Lithuania and Romania have all gained at least 20 points of economic freedom over the life of the Index. Per capita GDP in these countries has grown at an average annual rate of 7.4% over the past decade.
In a special chapter in this year's Index, the Journal's Stephen Moore chronicles the critical role that tax cuts, particularly cuts in corporate taxes, have played in economic growth in Eastern European countries and others like Ireland. The citizens of those countries lived for decades with state-directed economic planning and regulation, which many now advocate for the U.S. and other advanced economies. They remember the clumsiness of socialism and the government missteps that fostered economic disaster. To switch dance partners now that they have adapted to the quick step of capitalism and are enjoying its many benefits would be a tragic mistake.
It would be ironic indeed if the world's advanced economies, in seeking to address current woes, abandoned the system that has brought them and others around the world the amazing levels of prosperity experienced over the last half century. The "Index of Economic Freedom" provides a record of that progress. It charts the path to economic advancement and proves that the best way forward is to hang onto our partner and step to the music of the market.
Mr. Miller is director of the Center for International Trade and Economics at The Heritage Foundation. He is co-editor, with Kim R. Holmes, of the "2009 Index of Economic Freedom" (455 pages, $24.95), available online at heritage.org/index.
Copyright 2009 - The Wall Street Journal
Why don't we ever hear about this evidence?
Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age
By: Gregory F. Fegel
January 11, 2009
The earth is now on the brink of entering another Ice Age, according to a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science. Many sources of data which provide our knowledge base of long-term climate change indicate that the warm, twelve thousand year-long Holocene period will rather soon be coming to an end, and then the earth will return to Ice Age conditions for the next 100,000 years.
Ice cores, ocean sediment cores, the geologic record, and studies of ancient plant and animal populations all demonstrate a regular cyclic pattern of Ice Age glacial maximums which each last about 100,000 years, separated by intervening warm interglacials, each lasting about 12,000 years.
Most of the long-term climate data collected from various sources also shows a strong correlation with the three astronomical cycles which are together known as the Milankovich cycles. The three Milankovich cycles include the tilt of the earth, which varies over a 41,000 year period; the shape of the earth’s orbit, which changes over a period of 100,000 years; and the Precession of the Equinoxes, also known as the earth’s "wobble," which gradually rotates the direction of the earth’s axis over a period of 26,000 years. According to the Milankovich theory of Ice Age causation, these three astronomical cycles, each of which effects the amount of solar radiation which reaches the earth, act together to produce the cycle of cold Ice Age maximums and warm interglacials.
Elements of the astronomical theory of Ice Age causation were first presented by the French mathematician Joseph Adhemar in 1842, it was developed further by the English prodigy Joseph Croll in 1875, and the theory was established in its present form by the Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovich in the 1920s and 30s. In 1976 the prestigious journal “Science” published a landmark paper by John Imbrie, James Hays, and Nicholas Shackleton entitled “Variations in the Earth's orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages,” which described the correlation which the trio of scientist/authors had found between the climate data obtained from ocean sediment cores and the patterns of the astronomical Milankovich cycles. Since the late 1970s, the Milankovich theory has remained the predominant theory to account for Ice Age causation among climate scientists, and hence the Milankovich theory is always described in textbooks of climatology and in encyclopaedia articles about the Ice Ages.
In their 1976 paper Imbrie, Hays, and Shackleton wrote that their own climate forecasts, which were based on sea-sediment cores and the Milankovich cycles, "...must be qualified in two ways. First, they apply only to the natural component of future climatic trends - and not to anthropogenic effects such as those due to the burning of fossil fuels. Second, they describe only the long-term trends, because they are linked to orbital variations with periods of 20,000 years and longer. Climatic oscillations at higher frequencies are not predicted... the results indicate that the long-term trend over the next 20,000 years is towards extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation and cooler climate."
During the 1970s the famous American astronomer Carl Sagan and other scientists began promoting the theory that "greenhouse gasses" such as carbon dioxide, or CO2, produced by human industries could lead to catastrophic global warming. Since the 1970s the theory of "anthropogenic global warming" (AGW) has gradually become accepted
as fact by most of the academic establishment, and their acceptance of AGW has inspired a global movement to encourage governments to make pivotal changes to prevent the worsening of AGW.
The central piece of evidence that is cited in support of the AGW theory is the famous "hockey stick" graph which was presented by Al Gore in his 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth.” The "hockey stick" graph shows an acute upward spike in global temperatures which began during the 1970s and continued through the winter of 2006/07. However, this warming trend was interrupted when the winter of 2007/08 delivered the deepest snow cover to the Northern Hemisphere since 1966 and the coldest temperatures since 2001. It now appears that the current Northern Hemisphere winter of 2008/09 will probably equal or surpass the winter of 2007/08 for both snow depth and cold temperatures.
The main flaw in the AGW theory is that its proponents focus on evidence from only the past one thousand years at most, while ignoring the evidence from the past million years - evidence which is essential for a true understanding of climatology. The data from paleoclimatology provides us with an alternative and more credible explanation for the recent global temperature spike, based on the natural cycle of Ice Age maximums and interglacials.
In 1999 the British journal “Nature” published the results of data derived from glacial ice cores collected at the Russia’s Vostok station in Antarctica during the 1990s. The Vostok ice core data includes a record of global atmospheric temperatures, atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and airborne particulates starting from 420,000 years ago and continuing through history up to our present time.
The graph of the Vostok ice core data shows that the Ice Age maximums and the warm interglacials occur within a regular cyclic pattern, the graph-line of which is similar to the rhythm of a heartbeat on an electrocardiogram tracing. The Vostok data graph also shows that changes in global CO2 levels lag behind global temperature changes by about eight hundred years. What that indicates is that global temperatures precede or cause global CO2 changes, and not the reverse. In other words, increasing atmospheric CO2 is not causing global temperature to rise; instead the natural cyclic increase in global temperature is causing global CO2 to rise.
The reason that global CO2 levels rise and fall in response to the global temperature is because cold water is capable of retaining more CO2 than warm water. That is why carbonated beverages lose their carbonation, or CO2, when stored in a warm environment. We store our carbonated soft drinks, wine, and beer in a cool place to prevent them from losing their "fizz," which is a feature of their carbonation, or CO2 content. The earth is currently warming as a result of the natural Ice Age cycle, and as the oceans get warmer, they release increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Because the release of CO2 by the warming oceans lags behind the changes in the earth’s temperature, we should expect to see global CO2 levels continue to rise for another eight hundred years after the end of the earth’s current Interglacial warm period. We should already be eight hundred years into the coming Ice Age before global CO2 levels begin to drop in response to the increased chilling of the world’s oceans.
The Vostok ice core data graph reveals that global CO2 levels regularly rose and fell in a direct response to the natural cycle of Ice Age minimums and maximums during the past four hundred and twenty thousand years. Within that natural cycle, about every 110,000 years global temperatures, followed by global CO2 levels, have peaked at approximately the same levels which they are at today.
Today we are again at the peak, and near to the end, of a warm interglacial, and the earth is now due to enter the next Ice Age. If we are lucky, we may have a few years to prepare for it. The Ice Age will return, as it always has, in its regular and natural cycle, with or without any influence from the effects of AGW.
The AGW theory is based on data that is drawn from a ridiculously narrow span of time and it demonstrates a wanton disregard for the "big picture" of long-term climate change. The data from paleoclimatology, including ice cores, sea sediments, geology, paleobotany, and zoology indicate that we are on the verge of entering another Ice Age, and the data also shows that severe and lasting climate change can occur within only a few years. While concern over the dubious threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming continues to distract the attention of people throughout the world, the very real threat of the approaching and inevitable Ice Age, which will render large parts of the Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable, is being foolishly ignored.
Copyright 2009 - Pravda.ru