Friday, September 30, 2005

Star Light Star Bright

On a coffee run yesterday I was musing with a non-religious colleague about religion and belief. He noted that in his view religious belief tends to wither once human needs are met and people obtain physical comforts.

I replied that this appeared largely true, but the actual reason was not because the meeting of our physical needs negated a psychological need to believe. Rather, our urban technologically advanced society has obscured the stars. I told him that the aquisition of belief in God becomes much more dificult if you can't see the stars.

He laughed a scoffing laugh.

But it's true.

Priest's Account of the New Orleans Flood

This is an interesting account of the aftermath of the New Orleans flood, by a Catholic Priest who lived through it and ministered to the victims .

Priest sees best, worst of humanity in evacuation from New Orleans
By Beth Donze
CatholicNews Service BATON ROUGE, La. (CNS) -

Like many of his fellow New Orleans priests, Father Dennis Hayes decided to stay put as Hurricane Katrina teased the Louisiana coast, praying that the storm would spare the neighborhood around St. Louise de Marillac Church in Arabi.Ensconced on the second floor of the concrete and steel parish school building with the Blessed Sacrament, his parish's sacramental registers and his 13-year-old dog, Badooki, Father Hayes thought the worst was over by Aug. 29 -- until Arabi began to fill up like a huge bathtub.

"Within one hour -- between about 8 and 9 a.m. -- I saw the water cover
all of the homes and the entire parish plant. In just that little bit of time
the water rose from the ground to the wires of the light poles. That night I
could hear cries and wailing of people for help," Father Hayes said.

Go read the rest here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Breaking News? - Not! News Staff

The budget for the Canadian Forces needs to be doubled to about $30 billion a year if Canada is to secure the country and its sovereignty, says a new report by the Senate Defence Committee.
"At some point, the elastic snaps. And we think we're at that point right now," Sen. Colin Kenny, the chair of the committee, told a news conference Thursday.

"We are seeing so many things degrading simultaneously that they may not recover."
The report, "Wounded: Canada's Military and the Legacy of Neglect", is the first of three reports that will be released by the committee this fall.

It says the defence budget should be doubled, and the military should enlist thousands more personnel. Equipment also needs to be updated.

The current defence budget earmarked for 2005-2006 is $14.3 billion. The report suggests upping that to between $25 billion to $35 billion.

As well, number of people in uniform should be bumped up to 90,000, from its current strength of 62,000, says the report.

Another challenge facing the Canadian Forces is the length of time it takes to replace aging equipment. Currently, it takes about 15 years. The report suggests reducing that time by buying used gear or purchasing equipment already in production.

Go read the restat the above link. The issue is pretty clear. Do you, my fellow Canadians, want to have a military or not? The choice is yours and time is short.

A Known Unknown

Behold the enemy.

I don't know about you but the main threat to my life is not Al Qaida or the approaching bird flu pandemic. No, my life is in the greatest peril because of folks riding the machines similar to the one depicted to the left. It may look benign to you, but to me it is the electric scooter of death.

The other morning I walked around a streetcorner in Toronto and was nearly sideswiped by a speeding maniac in a motorized wheelchair doing Mach 2 on the sidewalk.

Citizens lept to either side, and a good thing too, for the driver was intent on going as fast as possible and damn the collateral human damage. This has happened before. It is not an isolated incident.

I tell you we need to take action. Pedestrians of every political persuasion, religious of every denomination, bingo players of every brand of dabber, are all equally imperilled. I am a reasonable man. I am not seeking a total ban. I just think we need a law governing governors. We need devices attached to the motors of these infernal beasts which limit the speed and acceleration to something tolerable for a person on foot.

You laugh? Fine. Your time is coming. I hear the approaching whine of the electric engines as I write. Step carefully. Be aware of the Hum in the sun.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"She is the Becoming Canada"

Michaelle Jean has been sworn in as Canada's 27th Governor General. From what I can tell it appears that the main stream media is falling all over itself in giddy adulation over her installation. While the positive reaction in the immigrant Haitian community in Canada is understandable, I personally see little about her installation to celebrate.

Call me old fashioned if you will, but I have trouble with appointing to the office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of our military an educated, affluent, clever member of the Quebecois chattering classes who probably voted to dismember my country, is caught toasting the possibility on film, is employed by Radio-Canada, (the French arm of the CBC, known to be a hotbed of separatist sentiment) and who engages in what is called "terrorist chic" by socializing with, and employing, known terrorists who have committed murder trying to destabilize our constitutional order.

In the film, Jean is seen with several sovereigntist hardliners, including poet Gerald Godin -- a co-founder of Rassemblment pour l'independence nationale and Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, Yves Prefontaine, former FLQ member Pierre Vallieres, novelist Dany Laferriere, Andree Ferretti and poet Paul Chamberland, according to Le Quebecois.

At the beginning of one scene, the guests toast independence. Vallieres later says: "Not only should Martinique go to independence, but to revolution, as Quebec should."

To that, Jean replies: "Yes, one doesn't give independence, one
takes it."

Other than that, of course, she seems to be a nice enough person. And her husband is from France where it is accepted that there are nuances in such matters which lie beyond the analytical capacity of les Angalis. So perhaps I don't grasp the underlying philisophical essentials.

According to CBC News, columnist John Ibbitson, in the Globe & Mail and Andrew Coyne of the National Post were impressed to the point of addled hagiography by her performance during the installation. Said the former:

"Her promise is the promise of what we almost are, of what we want to be. She is the becoming Canada." [He really wrote that dreck.]

Ibbitson cast Jean as both the wave of the future and of the present, symbolic of a new and different Canada.

"We are an entirely different country from the one reflected in the words and faces of those who lead us - old faces, old men, who nurse ancient animosities and scratch at phantom wound."

And, "here is this beautiful young Canadian of Haitian birth, with a smile that makes you catch your breath, with a bemused older husband by her side, and a daughter who literally personifies our future, and you look at them and you think: Yes, this is our great achievement, this is the Canada that Canada wants to be."

And Andrew Coyne? No less besotted, it appears.

In the Post, front-page columnist Andrew Coyne was no less enthralled: "Madam, I surrender. Let us forget past criticisms. Let us put aside old quarrels. Your speech has collapsed my defences. You are my Commander-in-Chief."

She is the becoming Canada? Madam, I surrender? Gentlemen, get a grip. She is a married woman, for God's sake. Stand at ease. And stop drooling! It ill becomes your cynical ink-stained pose as senior main stream pundits. Has her babe factor looks completely addled your brains? Be men for crying out loud. Okay, silly comment. You are.

Pardon me while I pause for a moment to scratch a phantom wound. My wounds you see are indeed phantom in nature, if you mean by that that they are wounds of heated dialogue, of principled argument, blathering politics and personal pride rather than wounds of the blood and gore genre. It cannot be said, however, that the victims of Madam Jean's social circle were so lucky. On August 25th of this year, the blogger known as The Black Rod posted an email from Bruce Vallance to Winnipeg radio host Charles Vallance. I think I'll be forgiven for printing it in full.


I visited the site and watched the film clip [of the future vice-regal couple toasting the separatist cause.] To say that I'm offended is to understate the case. The people she is cavorting, laughing and toasting with are some of the same people who tried to kill me.

During the FLQ crisis I was stationed at Canadian Forces HQ in Ottawa. The bomb they placed outside of my office window was meant to kill those in the room and I suppose make a statement. They succeeded only too well. The lady they killed was not only a co-worker, but also a friend. After I picked myself up off the floor some thirty feet from where I was standing I saw my friend laying on the floor.

I remember kneeling in a pool of her blood trying desperately to staunch the flow. Her eyes seemed to be pleading for me to help her. This tiny middle aged French Canadian single mother of two who had been so happy. She had been talking for several days about her up coming vacation. The first in twenty years. Now she lay struggling to breath through her torn throat.

Desperately I tried to staunch the flow of blood. I watched as the light in her eyes slowly dimmed and then disappeared. Here was a grown man and soldier kneeling in the welter of her blood crying like a baby as I cradled her in my arms.

My next conscious memory was lying on an operating table as a young doctor probed my back and side for glass. He continuously apologized for the pain, but explained that he couldn't anaesthetize me because I had to be able to tell him when he pressed on a shard of glass. It took 43 stitched to close my wounds. I still occasionally have pieces of glass surface.

Am I offended? You bet I am offended. This appointment is an insult to me and to Pierre La Porte and most importantly to Jean D'Arc St Germaine.Paul Martin has insulted all of Canada including the people of Quebec.


I suppose it needs saying that I do not believe Madam Jean or M. Lafond complicit in the murders of inncocent Canadians, such as Jeane D?Arc St Germaine, or (go read The Black Rod for details) others such as night watchman Wilfred Vincent O'Neil, store manager Leslie MacWilliams, or secretary Therese Morin.

Nor is she and her husband involved in blowing off hands, as her friends did to Sgt. Major Walter Leja, who tried to disarm an FLQ bomb in a mailbox. No, these people were just the unfortunate detrious created by their terrorist friends in the FLQ. I wonder if the families grieve still?

I guess I'm one of those of whom John Ibbitson is writing when he pens, "...old men, who nurse ancient animosities." Not so old really. I'm of Irish/Scottish descent and we Celts know the difference between new and old grievances and this grievance is a toddler as grievances go. It sticks in my craw that they befriend FLQ terrorists and hired a man to build them a bookshelf who was involved in the 1971 murder of Pierre Laporte (Quebec's then Labour Minister).

What I find distasteful is the apparent frisson which Mme Jean/M. Lafond appear to get by associating with such "revolutionary" figures.

Paul Martin appointed her to our highest constitutional office. I'm afraid however, that it will take a great deal more than banal rhetoric to extinguish the two solitudes which haunts this northern polity. "The time of the 'two solitudes' that for too long described the character of this country is past." Is it? Do your FLQ friends believe that, your Excellency.

And while were at it, am I the only one disturbed by the fact that the Prime Minister's Office stepped in and vetoed her plans for an "intimate" dinner of 100 or so friends at Rideau Hall and substituted their own public relations gala instead? This does not auger well for her sense of independence from the current prime minister in a minority parliament situation where she may be called upon to exercise her residual constitutional authority to decide who gets to form a government. Will she be taking orders from the PMO then as well? Just wondering. It does not look promising.

Oh yes. She does have a nice smile. One can go far on a nice smile in an age of a lapdog liberal media. Although in fairness, I should note that even conservative pundits appear ready to lower the flag and surrender at the sight of that glistening perfect toothpaste smile.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hoist the Red Ensign Standard!

Katleland of The Last Amazon has posted edition XXVIII of the Red Ensign Standard. I expect I missed being placed into her "Red Ensign Great Canadian Slackers Gallery" by the skin of my teeth. (Must post more. Must post more. I know I can. I know I can. Puff Puff.)

Well done Kate. Given the size of the blogroll the Red Ensign Standard is a large undertaking.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Chuck Strahl MP

From Chad Sketon of the Vacouver Sun, via Neale News, more sad news about Conservative MP Chuck Strahl.

CHILLIWACK - Conservative MP Chuck Strahl says he plans to be back in Ottawa for the opening of Parliament next week, despite recently being told by his doctors that a life-threatening form of cancer discovered in the lining of one lung is also present in the second.

"I'm feeling good and I'm back at work and I hope to be at work for a long, long time," Strahl, who represents Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, said Sunday. "It's kind of business as usual for me."

In late August, Strahl, 48, announced that he had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer linked to the inhalation of asbestos
Strahl believes he may have inhaled asbestos while working as a
logger in his early 20s.

Doctors discovered the cancer in Strahl's other lung after investigating it with a scope two weeks ago. The discovery of the cancer in his second lung does not mean the cancer has spread, said Strahl, only that doctors have now found it. The average survival time for mesothelioma is about a year, but some people have lived with it for five years or more.

Lung cancer is a particularly nasty business and Mr. Strahl is a very able member of parliament with much still to contribute to the public good. I pray he gets well.

I admire his courage.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Two Canadian Soldiers Wounded in Kabul

(Trooper Nicholas James, a gunner with D Squadron of the Royal Canadian Dragoons loads his C-6 machine gun tray prior to departing on a Reconnaissance patrol. Tpr James is serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Athena Rotation 4.)

Remember what I said in my last post about Liberal words not matching Liberal deeds. Just after posting "What's That Smell and Why am I Not Surprised?", I come upon this story in the National Post.

OTTAWA -- Two Canadian soldiers suffered minor injuries when a roadside bomb exploded next to their armoured patrol late Thursday in Afghanistan's capital city Kabul, military officials said.

The blast hit one of two Canadian Coyote vehicles that are part of an armoured reconnaissance squadron. They were conducting a routine patrol before Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The (slightly, thank God) wounded soldiers are members of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, (part of the armoured corps) and are affectionately called zipperheads." The Coyote is a state of the art vehicle of much value to those poking around trying to find out what is going on. They're currently stationed in Camp Julien (the Canuck base camp) in Kabul.

It is this force of 700 soldiers (also comprising members of the Royal Canadian Regiment, or RCR) which are subject to the reservist troop reductions just instituted as a cost savings measure by the government. Their tour of duty is being truncated from six to four months leaving their regular force comrades behind to face peril with reduced numbers.

Defence Minister Bill Graham and the Prime Minister had this to say:

In a teleconference Wednesday, Graham repeated assertions that the nature of Canada's role in Afghanistan is changing and Canadians should expect casualties as operations shift toward combat from patrols and peacemaking.

The minister said he would be repeating those warnings in a series of speaking engagements through the fall.

Said Martin: "I think Canadians must understand that there are dangers and that there are greater dangers in Kandahar than there were in the previous Afghanistan missions by the Canadian troops."

Prime Minister, Canadian understand there are dangers. It is the reduction in current troop strength due a lack of proper funding of the reservists in the Forces that they don't understand.

Mr. Martin also had this to say.

At a UN meeting in New York, Prime Minister Paul Martin said he was aware of the incident. He said Canada's position in Afghanistan is becoming progressively more dangerous but it must stay the course.

"We have international responsibilities . . . to one, fight terrorism wherever it may be and wherever it may be nurtured," Martin said.

"We also have responsibilities to nurture a fledgling democracy and make sure that it can become strong. That is what we are doing in Afghanistan."

Of course, we do understand the Liberals have other more pressing expenditure matters which take precedence over actually paying our soldiers to fight terrorism and nurture democracy. For example, this matter from the Globe & Mail.

OTTAWA -- The Conservative Party said yesterday it will try to force Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain why his office spent $10,000 to take a chauffeur on two overseas trips in which there was no driving to be done.

At the same time, Liberal sources cast doubt on Mr. Pettigrew's explanation that he invited driver Bruno Labonté to Europe in 2001 and to Latin America in 2002 as a "personal security adviser," saying it was more likely an expression of gratitude for Mr. Labonté's work at home.

In a television interview, Mr. Pettigrew said he felt the $10,000 cost to taxpayers to take his chauffer along on the two trips was fully justified. "Oh, absolutely," Mr. Pettigrew said on CTV's Canada AM.

"I believe it is important that everyone in the staff has a complete understanding of my work, so this is the way. . . . Of course, this individual is a security expert."

Conservative MP John Williams said he does not buy the explanation.

"Why is he taking his chauffeur around the world if they didn't bring the car?" Mr. Williams asked. Federal officials said that the ministers of Trade and Foreign Affairs always travel with a protocol officer who handles all logistical matters.

... In addition, [government officials said] if ministers need security, it is provided by the host country or the RCMP. Ministers often travel abroad without any special security arrangements, unless the mandatory threat assessment recommends otherwise.

Perhaps Mr. Pettigrew will ask the RTU'd (returned to unit) soldiers along on his next visit to his pied a terre in Paris. He goes to Paris frequently we're told and the militia volunteers may have the time to spare since they made arrangements with their employers to be in Afghanistan for six, not four, months and may not have a job to go to for two months.

Besides, I understand the soldiers know a thing or two about providing security. They come highly recommended by high ranking Afghani Cabinet officials.

What's that Smell and Why am Not Surprised?

(Photo to the left is of a man whose words far outstrip his deeds. He is a Liberal Cabinet Minister who is not welcome at my table.)

From David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen via Neale News we learn of this scurrilous decision.

Under pressure from the federal government to save money, the Canadian military is poised to send troops now in Afghanistan home early, potentially hurting morale and causing other problems in the ranks.

The move has angered some reservists who have already told employers in Canada they were leaving their jobs for a full six-month tour of the war-torn country. Some soldiers expect to be sent home after only four months in Afghanistan.

The early pullout comes even as the Canadian military prepares to send an entirely new force to the Kandahar area next February. In a Sept. 10 e-mail sent to his soldiers, obtained by the Citizen, Col. Steve Noonan, commander of the current mission in Afghanistan, says some soldiers will be sent home well before their tour is scheduled to end. Canadian troops are in Kabul and Kandahar.

It is unclear how many of the soldiers will be sent home early and from where. But Col. Noonan noted that the troops will be divided into groups of "six-monthers" and "four-monthers."

"There are significant pressures on DND to reduce the size of the commitment in theatre from 1 Dec to 1 Feb," Col. Noonan told his soldiers.

"This issue obviously has the potential to create some significant cohesion and morale issues that will have to be managed on both an individual and group basis," he added.

Go read the rest of the article at the link above. After that, if you are flying a Canadian flag outside your home or cottage, now is the time to invert it and place it at half staff. Better yet, lower it and hide it under your bed until a time comes when you, as a Canadian, can stand proud once more. Now is a time for bitterness and shame.

The Liberal government of Paul Martin talks a good game when it comes to the Canadian Forces, and the obligation to pursue the war on Islamic terrorists, but that is all it is .... a fetid, stinking, steaming, cow paddy of verbal political BS.

Consider these rousing comments by the Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham, in Waterloo Ontario on May 13, 2005 .... a mere four months ago.

I would like to conclude, ladies and gentlemen, by saying that I am very proud of the instrumental role that Canada is, and will be, playing in the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan. Along with our international allies and partners, we are having a real and very positive impact on the lives of the Afghan people.

It is also central to the international campaign against terrorism and to the security of Canada and Canadians. I agree with the NATO Secretary General's assessment that "if we want to win the war on terrorism, we must win the peace in Afghanistan."

The Canadian Forces are prepared - and, in fact, quite anxious - for this increased commitment in Afghanistan. They are familiar with that country and the people. The Canadian Forces have some of the best leaders and non-commission members in the world who have just completed a period of much-needed rest and regeneration.
And they have the resources and equipment they need to do their job.

The Afghanistan mission is also the exact type of mission that we are preparing and transforming our military to undertake - and excel at - in our new defence policy statement. Afghanistan is an example of a failed and failing state where we can make a real difference. And we are committed to doing just that. [bolding is mine]

A month before that he was bragging to the Empire Club in Toronto about the Martin government's commitment to provide an additional $13 billion in new money for the cash strapped Canadian Forces, including the much ignored and neglected reserve force. He also said:
Everything is now in place for real and lasting change for our military. With the recent federal budget, we've got the resources we need to strengthen our presence and our capacity to defend Canada and Canadians as well as to play a more significant role in the world.
And this.

I know that many of our stellar citizens believe that there is no real threat to our security in Canada and do not see the need to invest extensively in Defence. I have to share with you that this is not what credible sources tell us and it is not being alarmist to prepare for quite realistic threats that we must take seriously and evaluate.

So in order to better protect the safety and security of Canadians, we will expand the presence of our regular, reserve and ranger forces throughout the country to respond more effectively to events across Canada including in our Arctic.

Our maritime and air forces will place greater emphasis on protecting our coasts, our territorial waters and our airspace. We will enhance our national counter-terrorism response force, JTF-2, to deal with emergencies in different parts of the country and we will increase the reserve forces' role in protecting Canada and Canadians by expanding their numbers and focusing their expertise on, among other things, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear responses to domestic emergencies that we could well have in our cities.

Well, that was then and this was now. Since then federal revenues have taken a precipitous plunge and the Government of Canada is teetering on the verge on bankruptcy.

What's that? You say the federal treasury remains bloated with unforcasted, obscenely huge surpluses, even after an unprecedented spending binge to buy the electorate with its own tax dollars and even after the NDP subsequently rewrote the budget to include billions of dollars in unforcasted pet socialist priorities as their price for keeping the Grits in power? Even now we have grotesque surpluses? Really?

Why then, given the promised new $13 billion for defence and the unexpected deluge of tax dollars on Ottawa, is the military reducing it's combat capable field strength on a very dangerous deployment, thereby destroying unit cohesion, breaking significant commitments to its reservists, placing the remaining troops under greater stress and increasing their vulnerability to hostile forces?

Because they've been told to cut back, that's why. And why, dear reader have they been told that, given all the political promises to rebuild our depleted, exhausted, rusted-out military?

David Pugliese of the Ottawa citizen does not say. He does note that:

The focus, noted Col. Noonan, is now on the deployment of a new group of Canadian troops to Kandahar starting Feb. 6.

Defence Minister Bill Graham said in a telephone conference call with journalists yesterday those troops will be involved in an operation closer to "a combat mission in nature."

He did not mention the early pullout of the soldiers already in Afghanistan.

Indeed Mr. Graham did not. I believe he did not because Bill Graham sits on the side of the House of Commons where noses are long and growing. Comparing words to deeds one has to conclude he is a hypocrite of the first order and a sly political hack who does not deserve his Privy Council appellation of "Honourable."

If I were in the reserve army (militia regiment) today, I'd not volunteer to serve with the Canadian Forces oversees unless, and until, there was a government in power in Ottawa prepared to deal honestly with the military. If I were in the regular force, I'd have to think long and hard about re-enlisting under a government led by poltroons. "Unit cohesion" starts at the very top of the decision pyramid in a place called the Cabinet.

Bah! This disgusts me. I can only imagine how the betrayed troops in Afghanistan must feel. I hope the members of the Canadian Forces militia who are sent home early from Afghanistan in order to save the bloated federal treasury some money sue the crap out of DND to obtain their full six months pay. They committed to put their lives on the line to serve Canada and deserve better than this treatment under Bill Graham and the Liberal government.

Of course, the Martin Liberals will declaim to anyone foolish enough to listen that they are serious about fighting the war on Islamist terrorists. And they are, as long as they can do it on the cheap.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering September 11, 2001

This day may not pass before we pause to remember the victims of September 11, 2001. The photo on the left is one of those iconic images which brings back the horror of a viscous attack by adherents of radical Islam on the United States of America which presaged a greater war on the US and its friends and allies throughout the world.

On that day four years ago a new world war began. It is not yet finished. I sense it has barely begun. The last assault on the West from Islam lasted several centuries. They nearly won then.

In contemporary times, there were attacks by Arab Muslims before 9/11, going back to the PLO attack on El Al passengers at the Munich airport in February 1970. In that attack Nobel Peace Prize winner Yassar Arafat managed to kill one and wound 11. Small stuff indeed, but by the Olympic Games in Munich two year later the targets were more prominent and the numbers greater (nine athletes killed). The IRA that year was more efficient, killing 17 and injuring 130.

Arab Muslims were soon upping the ante, however, by blowing up a Pan Am airliner with grenades at Rome in 1973 killing 30. Persian Muslims attacked the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979, holding 53 US diplomats hostage for 14 months. A few diplomats were rescued by the combined efforts of US intelligence and the Canadian Embassy staff led by Ambassador Ken Taylor. A great story, illustrative of friends coming to the aide of friends in need.

In a remarkable display of Islamicist fervour Islamicist terrorists attacked the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979. By the time that one was dealt with there were 250 dead and 600 wounded. And so on and so on. Here are but a few of the attacks.
  • 1983 (April) US Embassy in Beruit attacked by Islamic Jihad. The truck bomb left 63 dead and 120 injured
  • 1983 (November) US Marine Barracks and French military compounds attacked by Islamic Jihad. The truck bombers killed 282 Americans and 58 French military
  • 1986 Lybian terrorists murder two and wound 79 US servicemen in a Berlin Discotheque
  • 1988 Islamic terrorists blow up Pan Am flight over Lockerbie Scotland killing 259
  • 1993 Islamic terrorists bomb the World Trade Centre, killing 6 and injuring 1000
  • 1996 Khobar Towers attack kill 19 US military, wounding 515 other in Dhaharan
  • 1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa by Al Qaida kill 300 and wound 5,000
  • 2000 Al Qaida attacks USS Cole killing 17 sailors and injuring 79
  • 2001 (June) HAMAS bombs a Tel-Aviv nightclub with 140 casualties
  • 2001 (August) HAMAS bombs a Jerusalem pizzaria. 19 dead and 15 wounded
  • 2001 (September) Al Qaida attacks New York and Washington leaving 3025 dead
Since then we have seen attacks on London, Madrid, Bali, Jerusalem/Israel and many other places. The October 2002 bombing in Bali killed 202 (mostly Australian tourists) and wounded 300.

The point of all this is to drive home the point that we are all vulnerable to attack from Islamic radicals who are intent on destroying our culture, religions and institutions and replacing it with Sharia law and Islamic institutions. We can pretend that it is not so, but we do so at our peril.

We shall remember those killed on 9/11 because we must. Say a prayer when you have a minute. (Hey. It can't hurt and it might help.)

Canadian Rescue Team Work Applauded

Here's a story I missed in Yahoo News.
Hat tip to Angry in the Great White North. Republican state senator Walter Boasso is unhappy with the response of the US Army, but very pleased with these rescue workers from Vancouver.
Thu Sep 8, 1:36 AM ET

A Canadian search-and-rescue team reached a flooded New Orleans suburb to help save trapped residents five days before the U.S. military, a Louisiana state senator said on Wednesday.

The Canadians beat both the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. disaster response department, to St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans, where flood waters are still 8 feet deep in places, Sen. Walter Boasso said.

"Fabulous, fabulous guys," Boasso said. "They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people."

"We've got Canadian flags flying everywhere."

The stricken parish of 68,000 people was largely ignored by U.S. authorities who scrambled to get aid to New Orleans, a few miles (km) away. Boasso said residents of the outlying parishes had to mount their own rescue and relief efforts when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on August 29.

The U.S. government response to the disaster has been widely criticized. Politicians and editorial writers have called for the resignation of top Bush administration officials.

Boasso said U.S. authorities began airdropping relief supplies to St. Bernard last Wednesday, the same day the Canadian rescue team of about 50 members arrived from Vancouver, nearly 2,200 miles away.

"They chartered a plane and flew down," he said.

Two FEMA officials reached the parish on Sunday and the U.S. Army arrived on Monday, he said.

"Why does it take them seven days to get the Army in?" Boasso asked.

He speculated that the smaller parishes suffered because the focus was on New Orleans, the famous home of jazz and Mardi Gras.

As for the Canadians, Boasso gave thanks for their quick work.

"They were so glad to be here," he said. "They're still here. They are actually going door-to-door looking in the attics" for people to rescue, he said.

This particular team was last used in the tsunami relief operation. According to CTV News (on August 31st):
The 45- person team -- which was dispatched to Southeast Asia after the Boxing Day tsunami -- is equipped to provide emergency room doctors, building engineers and swift water rescue personnel.

Earlier Wednesday, Canadian officials said they're prepared to send whatever type of aid the U.S. needs.
Senator Boasso should be aware (but doesn't seem to be) that the team was dispatched after its assistance was requested by officials from the State of Louisiana and was sent to its area of operations by local authorities. Given that information, it is likely that FEMA and/or the US military knew where they were headed and went elsewhere where no one had yet been dispatched. .

Given the scope of the disaster there's plenty of work for everyone.

A few Comments on Katrina

The fact that I have not been giving my opinions on the disaster known as Hurricane Katrina should not be construed as me having nothing to say. The problem is that I cannot seem to organize my thoughts in order to discuss the matter in a coherent way. For the first week I was glued to my television set (I was on vacation) watching the disaster unfold. It was overwhelming in its scope and intensity.

Since then, I have been watching the left/right political battle regenerate and take on wind. Gusts of hot air from the "I Hate Bush" mob are said to have reached the political equivalent of a category four.

I've been posting articles related to Canada's official response, in lieu of being able to comment about what is going on. I was not oblivious to the breakdown in law and order in New Orleans or the slow response from the local, state and federal levels of government, or the sheer misery of those unwilling or unable to evacuate in time. Few things have shocked me recently as much as the sniper fire which was aimed at hospital workers trying to evacuate seriously ill patients or fired at search and rescue helicopter crews trying do perform their tasks of saving residents of a destroyed city.

Even now there are very disturbing reports about what happened in the first week. The Daily Mail in Britain is reporting (hat tip to Neale News) on one of the most egregious tales.
Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive. ...

One doctor is reported to have given grisly details .

The doctor said: "I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.

"I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul."

The doctor, who finally fled her hospital late last week in fear of being murdered by the armed looters, said: "This was not murder, this was compassion. They would have been dead within hours, if not days. We did not put people down. What we did was give comfort to the end.

"I had cancer patients who were in agony. In some cases the drugs may have speeded up the death process.

"We divided patients into three categories: those who were traumatised but medically fit enough to survive, those who needed urgent care, and the dying.

"People would find it impossible to understand the situation. I had to make life-or-death decisions in a split second.

"It came down to giving people the basic human right to die with dignity.

"There were patients with Do Not Resuscitate signs. Under normal circumstances, some could have lasted several days. But when the power went out, we had nothing.

"Some of the very sick became distressed. We tried to make them as comfortable as possible.

"The pharmacy was under lockdown because gangs of armed looters were roaming around looking for their fix. You have to understand these people were going to die anyway."

Mr McQueen, a utility manager for the town of Abita Springs, half an hour north of New Orleans, told relatives that patients had been 'put down', saying: "They injected them, but nurses stayed with them until they died."

I caution that the newspaper is keeping the names of the medical staff and the hospital confidential. They say that is being done in order to to protect the people involved, but it makes it very difficult to verify the story. I'd like to think (and suspect) this will be exposed as an urban myth at some point.

A few things are clear. A number of states in the US south are in a mess. Many people have died, although the death toll may not be as high as feared, and the damage to communities defies belief. Those who say the Bush administration's assistance was delayed, or too meager because the victims are poor and black, are beyond rational dialogue. Believe it if you must, but don't ask me to argue with you.

Oh yes, please donate to the Canadian Red Cross or other charities which are trying to help. The need is great and the money will go to help good neighbours in distress.

Note: The Canadian naval ships sent to assist were delayed as they diverted around hurricane Ophelia, but are due to arrive tomorrow with navy divers, food, medical supplies, and a supply ship filled with everything imaginable (e.g., diapers). More importantly, the men and women of the Canadian Forces are ready willing and eager to lend assistance however and whenever they can.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Canadian Navy Divers Assisting Katrina relief efforts

ESQUIMALT (BC)-- Divers and support staff from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) will depart tomorrow morning [today, as I post this] to join up with their US Navy counterparts in Pensacola, Florida. The 18 member diving team, under the supervision of Naval Lieutenant Todd Dupuis, will be deploying as part of Operation UNISON, the Canadian Forces? contribution to relief efforts in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

Media are invited to meet with members of the team between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. at 443 Squadron (Hangar 17), 1593 Kittyhawk Rd., Victoria International Airport, on Sunday, Sep 4 th. The team is scheduled to depart at 9:30 a.m.

Rear Admiral Roger Girouard, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, and Commodore Bruce Donaldson, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific will be
in attendance to send off the team and wish them well.


Canadian Air Force Assisting US Coast Guard

This is a news release from 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg.

WINNIPEG -- Canada?s Air Force is sending two CH-146 Griffon helicopters to assist the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in covering the Boston Search and Rescue (SAR) area of responsibility (AOR) over the long weekend.

The two Griffons are from 444 Combat Support (CS) Squadron, 5 Wing Goose Bay, NL. and from 439 (CS) Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville, Que. Five aircrew personnel from each Squadron and maintenance personnel from 444 (CS) Squadron are headed to Air Station Cape Cod, MA, where they will provide SAR support to USCG District one (Boston) who deployed five of their six H60 Jayhawk helicopters to the flood relief duties in the Southern USA.

?We are happy to help in any way that we can,? said Major-General Charlie Bouchard, Commander, 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region. ?This is just an extension of the positive relationship that already exists between the Canadian and U.S. SAR communities and we are prepared to support them beyond the long weekend if the need exists.?

This weekend is one of the busiest for boating-related SAR cases in the Boston AOR.

The Canadian Air Force has three CS Squadrons: 417, 439 and 444 located at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., 3 Wing Bagotville, Que. and 5 Wing Goose Bay, NL. respectively. These CS Squadrons use the Griffon for primary and secondary SAR in support of Wing operations.

The Air Force remains at a high state of readiness to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should any requests for assistance come from the United States. Today, a CC-150 Airbus from 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. transported Red Cross workers and Foreign Affairs Canada officers to Houston, TX.


Update on Canadian Assistance

From CTVNews

Canada is sending thousands of beds, blankets, surgical gloves and dressings and other medical supplies to the hurricane-ravaged U.S. Gulf Coast.

"This is the beginning of an integrated effort," Dr. Howard Njoo of the Public Health Agency of Canada said at a news conference on Sunday. "This is just a starting point of what we can give to our American friends."

The agency is sending the relief in response to an official request from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Njoo said within the next 24 hours, the supplies will be airlifted to a distribution centre in the southern U.S. and, from there, will be directed to the areas they're most needed. The supplies come from the stockpiles kept on hand by Canadian authorities to respond to disaster situations.

Other Canadian organizations are also sending help to the devastated region. Following a phone conversation with its American counterpart, the Canadian Red Cross has sent 37 volunteers to the region so far. Don Shropshire, the national director of disaster services of the Canadian Red Cross, said another several hundred volunteers are going to be sent down in the coming weeks and months.

"This is not an effort in which we need to sprint. It's going to be a long distance event," Shropshire said at the conference. "We have friends in trouble and we're doing what we can to help."

Shropshire said the American Red Cross has $25 million US in its emergency reserves but will likely need "more than $100 million" to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Shropshire said Canadians can help out with the relief effort by donating money.

Please visit the Canadian Red Cross website to give. They will funnel your donation through the American Red Cross.

Another way to give effectively is to donate to Catholic Charities USA.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Canadian Navy Deploys to Gulf

(HMCS Toronto as deployed in the Arabian Sea in 2000 during Operation Apollo, as part of Canada's contribution to the fight against international terrorism.)

Last Updated Fri, 02 Sep 2005 18:20:41 EDT
CBC News

Three Canadian warships, a coast guard vessel and three Sea King helicopters will be sent to Louisiana on Tuesday with relief supplies for the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander will sail along with the Canadian Navy vessels, HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Ville De Quebec and HMCS Toronto. Naval crews were busy loading gear on to the ships in Halifax Friday as 1,000 personnel prepared to head to waters off New Orleans.

Commodore Dean McFadden, who will command the deployment, said they were consulting with their American counterparts to determine what they will do during the expected month-long mission. He suggested duties would involve reconstruction, health care and humanitarian aid.

"We will have the capacity to move people. We'll have the capacity to bring medical supplies and fuel capabilities," McFadden said as he stood on the dock next to destroyer HMCS Athabaskan, the command and control ship for the mission. "The specific jobs we're going to do, I'll wait until the Americans tell us what help they need."

The vessels will work with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard and carry Canadian Forces personnel, some of them military engineers who might be able to help restore power and generate electricity.

About 40 navy divers from both coasts were also expected to deploy with the mission, which got clearance after American officials accepted a Canadian offer of help.

Rear Admiral Dan McNeil of the Joint Task Force Atlantic said organizers of the mission, dubbed Operation Union, were compiling a list of what's needed as U.S. officials continued to assess their requirements. The ships are expected to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico three to four days after they leave Halifax.

We'll Help Any Way We Can

From the website of the Canadian Department of National Defence these words from General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Canadian Defence Staff.

13h30 - September 1, 2005

Gen. Rick Hillier: Well, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and thank you for being here. We wanted to provide some opportunity to at least let you know from the Canadian Forces' perspective, for whom I speak, where we are in this tragedy.

Let me first say, ladies and gentlemen, that our closest allies and our friends and our neighbours are living in a tragedy beyond anything that we probably would have imagined would visit the shores of this continent. A minute by minute tragedy visited on tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of souls down there and, by an extension of course the nation and the continent. And we want to help and we believe that that's what being friends and allies is about, being ready to help in time of need.

As a personal note I'll say that as General Rick Hillier during my time living in the southern United States in 1998 to 2000 I spent a significant amount of time in Louisiana doing training exercises and events in preparation in Fort Polk just north of New Orleans itself and participated in New Orleans in June of 2000 in the opening of the D-Day Museum. So my family and I watched those pictures from video and see those things in print and the pictures in the newspapers and our thoughts and our prayers go out to all those involved. We want to help you. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you.

Yesterday I spoke with my American counterpart, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dick Myers, and the Commander of U.S. Northern Command, Admiral Tim Keating and I told them this: that whenever there is a need, wherever there is a need be it a niche capability or augmentation to an existing capability they had but to ask and we in the Canadian Forces would have it rolling or sailing or flying southward as quickly as possible to stand side by side with them to bring relief or respite to those who might need it and for however long it would take within our capacity to assist them.

Their message back to me was very clear. Firstly, it was a heartfelt thanks from their part that we had made the offer directly and that they believed this offer was completely sincere. They were appreciative of it completely. Secondly, they responded they are still trying to get full situational awareness of the extent of the tragedy and therefore what the full requirement will be to mitigate it. Secondly, of course -- thirdly they know that the magnitude and the duration of this capacity is immense -- absolutely immense. They know what we are capable of and when the need is determined and when the duration is determined if they have need of things that they cannot provide they will indeed call us.

I've asked our Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Marc Dumais, standing here on my left, to now develop the contingency plans and to put any CF units that may be called upon to deploy in support of a relief effort on standby. In short, we want to be ready to go as soon as any need is identified that we may be able to fill. And we are preparing assets from the air, land and sea in order to move to the area as I requested.

I just had lunch with the American ambassador, Ambassador David Wilkins, and I told him exactly the same thing. He knows we want to help. He knows that we can help and he knows that if there is a need, be it to fill a niche that is not filled or to augment some of the capacity already, we will be there for them. He will take that message, he told me, directly to Washington.

Ladies and gentlemen, I often tell young soldiers deploying to our missions overseas that very few people in their lifetime have the privilege of doing something positively to really affect the lives of thousands of people. And today I would tell them - soldiers, sailors, airmen and women - exactly the same thing. Helping our friends and neighbours is a privilege that we stand by to implement, that we stand by to grab, that we stand by to do.

I know as I speak for the Canadian Forces that I have the entire support of the Government of Canada behind me. I spoke last night with our prime minister and we walked through this issue in detail and I have his complete support to make the offers that I have made to the United States of America. I spoke to the Minister of National Defence this morning and, again, walked through him our preparations and our planning and the offers that we had made and, again, I have his complete support to have made that offer.

We stand ready to assist the Americans if there is any demand, any request to us and we stand ready to do that as soon as they ask. ...

Ladies and gentlemen, we know that the United States of America has enormous capacity flowing towards the southern part of their country from their armed forces and from the great industrial plant that their country has. We know that they probably have most or all of the things that they need. That?s obvious and common sense. But there may be opportunity that things that we have in the Canadian Forces, where it can be used to alleviate suffering, to speed the recovery or to just mitigate the continuing damage. If there is a need, if there is anything identified whatsoever, we are prepared to respond immediately. ...

Question: General Hillier, Roger Smith from CTV. There have been a lot of strong and angry words between Canada and the United States in recent weeks over softwood. The prime minister has been criticized for not speaking out more quickly publicly about the hurricane and offering Canada's condolences. Could Canadians be excused for thinking that this whole offer, public offer of help today is a little bit of PR to try to help improve relations between the two countries?

Gen. Rick Hillier: Roger, let me just tell you from my perspective as the Chief of Defence Staff in the Canadian Forces our offer of help representing I know what our government is supporting and what Canadians want also is absolutely genuine and from the heart.

These are our neighbours. They are our friends and they are our allies. And if they are in need and if we can fill a part of the requirement to mitigate and diminish that need then we're prepared to do so. That is not a public relations piece from us. It is genuine from the heart.

We know, we have confidence if conditions were reversed they would be the first to step up to help us if we needed it and I think that we as neighbours, as friends, as allies, as family on the continent, if you will, North Americans, we're ready to do exactly the same with them and I think that's not only our responsibility, that's probably our passion also.

[Emphasis is mine] Read the whole press conference here.