Friday, July 29, 2005

Off to London....

Well, I'm off to London (U.K.) and assorted other places for vacation, so I'll be away from the blogosphere 'til the end of the month!

Everybody play nice while I'm gone!



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Thursday, July 28, 2005

No "bulky jacket", and he didn't jump the turnstile...

Hat tips all around to Mike from Rational Reasons (who made me aware of this Guardian story), to The Green Knight, from whom Mike learned about the story and to wonderdog, where I first read the story.

I don't have time I'm afraid to give this story the coverage it deserves (I'm off to London this weekend... no really... I'm very excited).

Anyway, the main points seem to be that (apparently) Mr. de Menezes, who was shot and killed by police in London last week was NOT wearing a "bulky" jacket that might have been thought to be hiding a bomb (he was apparently wearing a jean jacket... not a crazy thing for a day that was apparently 16 degrees celcius) and he did NOT "jump the turnstile" in running from police... he simply used his pass. These are admittedly reports from the family, following a meeting with police officials, but family members claim to have seen the CCTV video of the day in question, so presumably they are giving an accurate description of what they saw.

Sadly, every new item I hear about this story gives me less and less faith that the police acted AT ALL responsibly.

We shall see.

Please read the above blogs for more cogent analysis of the latest news, and some interesting commentary.

London, here I come!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Things about the de Menezes shooting I didn't know yesterday...

First, let me ask that everyone who is calling the police murderers or baby killers, and everyone who figures Mr. de Menezes "got what he deserved" for wearing a heavy coat and not obeying police, to take a deep breath. The number of things we know about this shooting is few, the list of unanswered questions is as long as my arm, and considering how relieved many people were just days ago that police had killed an attempted suicide bomber, should we not have learned not to jump to conclusions quite so quickly?

That being said, here are a few things I learned today that I didn't know yesterday:

1) Mr. de Menezes didn't just walk to the Tube station, he was followed onto a Number 2 bus by police (!) on his way to the station.

2) Apparently, Mr. de Menezes wasn't actually shot "in the torso" as so widely described in the blogosphere. The account that seems to have the most weight today is that he was shot 7 times in the head and once in the shoulder (presumably a missed attempt to hit his head as well). But the number of shots, and their placement has changed many times in media accounts, so it may be some time (post- autopsy) before we're sure. If true, all of these "head shots" at least lend credence to the idea that police genuinely believed that he was a potential bomber, no matter how faulty their reasoning leading up to that conclusion.

3) The story of Mr. de Menezes being an "illegal immigrant" seems to be as much innuendo as anything. The Home Office has refused to comment on his immigration status, but it at least seems clear that, at worst, he was a formerly legal immigrant whose Visa had expired (which would mean he was working illegally, not in the country illegally, but even this seems to be a supposition, based on little, if any evidence).

Now for what we still don't know (a HUGE amount, here are some highlights):

1) We don't know how the (undercover) police identified themselves, and even police statements don't make clear whether police addressed Mr. de Menezes face to face, or the nature of what they said. This is one of the most important things people seem to skip over. Some bloggers have even said that Mr. de Menezes was given "ample opportunity" to surrender (what reports they're reading I don't know) but personally, while I know that he was running from the police, I still have no idea whether he knew that, and I imagine it may be sometime before I do.

2)We don't know whether two reports, one that Mr. de Menezes had been mugged the week before, and another that he had been beaten up in a bar the week before are true. (if so, they would seem to give him reason to run away from armed men who weren't in uniform, and seemed determined to do him harm).

3) We have no idea when police determined he was a potential bomber, or more specifically a suicide bomber (surely his clothes and the building he lived in are not enough to justify deadly force, or shouldn't be) . That they followed him suggests they were at least suspicious the moment he left his apartment building, but when (and more importantly how) did they decide he was a threat? BEFORE he got on the bus? After? When he failed to stop for them? When he ran towards the Tube? When he jumped on the train? As someone in the blogosphere said (I can't remember who I'm afraid) Once you start chasing someone with the intent of stopping them from setting off a bomb, it's already over.

As for the blogosphere's handling of the story, right now I'm none too thrilled with the left wing or the right wing. Half the sphere seems to want the police drawn and quartered (as though police would never be justified in killing a suspected bomber, and these officers MUST have been irresponsible cowboys, not dutiful public servants who made a horrible mistake in a difficult circumstance), and the other half seems to feel almost giddy that the police are finally shooting first and asking questions never ('bout time we started being serious, they say, completely unphased by the innocence of the man shot, and not at all worried about more innocent people getting caught in the crossfire). So everyone. Breath. We don't know nearly enough about what actually happened to be making such bold pronouncements (hey, look at me trying to stop bold pronouncements in the blogosphere!).

Sometimes, police have to use deadly force to protect the public, and sometimes they will make honest mistakes. Sometimes, people run from the police for reasons entirely unrelated to the reason the police are chasing them (and sometimes, people don't hear instructions so well when confronted by men with guns, no matter what they're saying).

Sometimes, if you don't shoot, the consequences will be disastrous. And sometimes, a bulky coat is just a fashion statement.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Asian suicide bomber" turns out to be Brazilian "not connected" to bombings...

This story is now developing quickly, and things change so rapidly in cases like these, that we are probably best to be cautious about what we say.

The man shot dead by London police earlier in the week has now been identified as Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Now perhaps Mr. de Menezes was of Asian descent, but the fact that eye witnesses identified him a "Asian" does peak my curiosity (and my fear that eye witness testimony might not always be that accurate).

And I wouldn't want to turn this tragedy into a partisan issue, but I do feel the need to point out that I am somewhat dissappointed by some of the commentary out in Blogging Tory land on this, or more accurately the seeming refusal of some of the bloggers there to modify their previous posts. I won't name names, but at least one blogger was quite upset that papers refused to identify the suspect as a suicide bomber (a decision that now appears was quite correct), and called the press release from the Muslim Council of Britain asking why the man had been shot dead a "stupid question". No corrections or retraction there yet (although perhaps said blogger is waiting cautiously for more information before posting again, a thought that might have occured to him earlier...).

And while I whole-heartily support the perogative of bloggers to delete posts without comment or explanation, another conservative blogger quite upset me. This blogger had a post declaring that London police were taking care of "Homeland Security", and the post consisted simply of 5 pictures... the four suspect pictures from the CCTV cameras, and the outline of a man's head with a X through it, with the comment "1 down, 4 to go". I commented in the post that now that the man shot by police had been confirmed as being "not connected" to the bombings, and Scotland Yard had called the event a "tragedy" that said blogger might want to take down the "X" image, and the "1 down 4 to go" comment, and modify the post. Well, rather than print a retraction or correction, the post has simply disappeared, with no comment from the blogger. As I said, your blog is your blog, and I support your right to edit it as you choose, but this did turn my stomach a little.

As for myself, I'm determined to hold off on any calls for police to be "held accountable" for the shooting until I have more information. This must have been a very difficult situation for the police, who are under a great deal of stress and pressure, and while if mistakes have been made, someone will need to be held responsible, it seems clear that we must all wait for more details, before rushing head-long into judgement.

Update: One of our cousins at Blogging Tories does seem to be on the path to the high road. His latest comment to his own "stupid question" post was not as contrite as I might have liked, but at least he didn't just delete his post as though it never existed. I've suggested that he also modify his original post, now that the question "why was this man shot?" doesn't seem quite so "stupid", and I hope that he will avail himself of that opportunity.

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Man shot by London Police "not connected" to bombings...

Well this is pretty shocking.

The important quotes:

A man shot dead by police hunting the bombers behind Thursday's London attacks was unconnected to the incidents, police have confirmed.

The man was killed in Stockwell Tube station in an incident described by Scotland Yard as a "tragedy"...

A Scotland Yard statement read: "We believe we now know the identity of the man shot at Stockwell Underground station by police on Friday 22nd July 2005, although he is still subject to formal identification.

"We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005.
"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy
and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."...

John O'Connor, former commander of the Met Police, told the BBC the consequences of the shooting were likely to be "quite horrendous".

He said he expected officers to face criminal charges, and other officers could even refuse to carry weapons.

I suppose there's not much more one can say until we get more details, but it really is quite shocking.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scotty beams up...

Most will have already heard of the sad passing of Canadian-born actor James Doohan, famous for being Chief Engineer Scott (Scotty) of the Starship Enterprise. As a huge fan of Star Trek, and Scotty in particular, I wanted to add my own words of sorrow and condolences on this sad day.

What many may not know, and would surely find interesting, is that Doohan was in the Canadian army prior to his acting career, and was one of our brave soldiers on Juno beach on D-Day:

At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."
The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case. (from the CNN story linked to above)

What a great Canadian!

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Novak leaked to Rove!?!?!

So the newest twist in the Plame leak story is the claim that Karl Rove testified before the Grand Jury that he heard about Plame's role in the CIA from Robert Novak, and possibly from another reporter, but he couldn't remember who. So Novak leaked to Rove!?!?!

Now I'm HIGHLY DUBIOUS of anything Karl Rove says, and even more dubious about what an anonymous source says Karl Rove said, but let's just take a look at this new twist, assuming for the moment that it is true. This means that Novak really did have one or two "White House sources" and that Rove was not one of them. Let's not all start thinking that this means the administration is innocent in all of this. SOMEONE at the White House leaked Plame's identity (and who knows, it still could have been Rove), and as I've said before, even though she wasn't actually working covertly in the Middle East at the time that she was outed, that doesn't really lessen the damage much. Sure, it means her life wasn't probably DIRECTLY endangered by the leak. But what about people she knew when she was a NOC (a "no official cover agent", which is what she was, she had no diplomatic passport, so if she was caught working for the CIA, a lot of countries might have just executed her...). Even if she wasn't using these people as sources or "assets", now that she has been exposed, everyone she ever knew could come under suspision by the authorities in the countries where she worked, and those authorities may very well now think they are CIA moles (and maybe some of them are!). And what about the CIA front company she worked for? Hasn't everyone else who's ever worked for that company now been exposed?

I can't wait for the full story to come out, so that maybe, just maybe, I'll learn WHY ROBERT NOVAK ISN'T IN JAIL!!!!!

Also, as a side note, I wanted to mention something about Joseph Wilson (many of you may know this, but I didn't until recently). A lot of the conservative media tries to paint Wilson as some sort of anti-war peacenik, someone who never should have been sent to verify a connection between Hussein and nuclear materials in Africa. Well, I always knew that Wilson was Ambassador to Iraq just before the first Gulf War, and that he was the last American official to officially speak with Hussein. What I didn't know was that Hussein basically threatened to execute him. And Wilson's response was CLASSIC:

"As acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War, he was the last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein, in 1991.

He very publicly defied the Iraqi strongman by giving refuge to more than 100 US citizens at the embassy and in the homes of US diplomats - at a time when Saddam Hussein was threatening to execute anyone who harboured foreigners.

He then addressed journalists wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie.

He later told the Washington Post newspaper that the message to Saddam Hussein was: 'If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own [expletive] rope.
'" (From the BBC online bio of Wilson.)

Now does that sound like a man that would downplay (let alone attempt to cover up) an attempt by Hussein to procur WMDs? It's a ridiculous suggestion, and I'm shocked anyone would have the temerity to even suggest it. I mean c'mon, George H. W. Bush called Wilson "truly inspiring" and "courageous" for his actions in Iraq.

The longer George W. Bush is President, the more I admire (and pity) his father.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Laura Bush's husband is (apparently) an idiot...

Now, everyone make careful note that I have not, and would never, call President Bush an idiot.

Furthermore, according to the apparent logic in the White House these days I absolutely DID NOT call the President an idiot.

After all, now that Karl Rove's name has surfaced as one of the sources of the leak of CIA undercover officer Valerie Plame's identity, it now seems clear that, by Rove's logic, he did not leak Plame's identity, because he did not know her name. No, all Rove did was tell a reporter that Joseph Wilson's wife was apparently a CIA officer. Well, that's a tough code to break! I guess Rove actually received some sort of counter-espionage training from the CIA itself!!! How did anyone ever take that and figure out who Valerie Plame was??? Clearly Rove is an innocent in all of this! For the complete story up until now, check this CNN link.

Here's a excerpt:

In September and October 2003, (White House Press Secretary Scott)McClellan said he had spoken directly with Rove about the matter and that "he was not involved" in leaking Plame's identity to the news media. McClellan said at the time: "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved," "It was a ridiculous suggestion" and "It's not true."

Rove's own public denials at the time and since have been more narrowly worded: "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name," Rove said last year...

Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, said his client did not disclose Plame's name. Luskin declined to say how Rove found out that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and refused to say how Rove came across the information that it was Wilson's wife who authorized his trip to Africa.

So you see! He didn't know her name, and therefore he didn't (and couldn't) leak her name. How was he to know that someone would figure out who he was refering to when he mentioned "Joseph Wilson's wife"?!?!? Now, I'm a little less clear on how he managed to find out that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and personally authorized his trip to Africa, without actually finding out her name! (and the White House won't comment on that either) I suppose her name could have been "blacked out" on some secret documents he saw, but you'd think descriptive entries like "Ambassador Wilson's wife" would also have been expunged from the records. Maybe Rove really IS innocent, and it's just that the CIA is incompetent. That's comforting!

I suppose the next spin will be that it's OK to identify a CIA undercover officer to the media if you only say that the person is "apparently" a CIA officer, and rather than giving up a name, you simply tell the reporter the name of one of the officer's relatives, and how the officer is related to that person.

It must be tough when your defense is that your act wasn't criminal or treasonous, but merely stupid and incompetent (two words people love to hear when national security is involved!).

Well, I feel safe with these people leading the free world, don't you?


It's also ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS that Scott McClellan is suddenly unwilling to discuss Rove's involvement with this whole mess because "an investigation is ongoing"!!! The investigation was ongoing back in September and October 2003 when McClellan was quite willing to say: "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved... It was a ridiculous suggestion... and ...It's not true." The lesson? It's OK to discuss ongoing investigations when defending political allies, but if it turns out that your defense isn't so iron clad, then for Heaven's sake stop commenting and keep your mouth shut, there's an investigatiopn going on!!!!

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

A BRILLIANT response to today's bombings

For those who haven't seen it yet, drop by the blog of Andrew in London (Non-trivial Solutions) and send him a note of support (he was apparently on the train car behind one of the ones that got hit).

Andrew's response to the London Bombings is classic, and reminds us all of the unwavering strength and resolve of the British people:

"To the terrorist cunts who tried to kill me today: Fuck you. You missed me. Better luck next time."

Cheers Andrew!

As Paul Wells writes today:

"If you were a fanatic murderer who liked to flatter yourself on your knowledge of history and you wanted to terrorize a population, could you possibly choose a worse target than the people of London?"


I'll be going to London myself soon, and Andrew's response to today, and the response of everyone in the UK makes me even more excited to visit that great city.

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Bombings in London.

There's nothing anyone can really say about something as horrible as this.

Nonetheless one does feel obligated to post SOMETHING about it, if for no other purpose than to express condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims.

Other than that, words fail.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bob Geldof nominated for Nobel Peace Prize...

Now, please don't use this post to attack Geldof, who has done some wonderful charity work (much more than most of us) and deserves great praise for his work on LiveAid and the more recent Live8 (the later of which has apparently raised $100 million dollars for African aid).

Nevertheless, this is rather ridiculous, is it not? (and I have a feeling Bob Geldof would probably agree).

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"Daily Show" DVD!!!

There's a "Daily Show with John Stewart" DVD coming out and I'm quite excited about that. It is all about "Indecision 2004" and though it seem there are few "extras" I'm sure it will be hilarious!!!

Here's a snippet from the Entertainment Weekly Review:

The package claims that the three-disc set includes ''Our National Anthem sung in 4-correspondent harmony.''

As is often the case with this Emmy-winning purveyor of fake news, that statement is even funnier because it's true: That's how "The Daily Show" began eight tapings covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the main attractions on its first-ever DVD.

Read the whole (short) review here!

Happy viewing! (I think I'm actually "giddy"!)


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Canada's place in the G8...

Everyone should read Jeffrey Simpson's column in today's Globe and Mail on Canada's place (economically) in the G8. Here's an extensive quote:

"Canada has a balanced national budget. No other G8 country (Russia excluded) comes close. The U.S. budget deficit is horrible... The British, Italians, Germans and French all have deficits above 3 per cent of GNP.

Canada has a trade surplus, built exclusively, it should be said, on bilateral trade with the Americans. The Japanese and Germans have trade surpluses, too, but the others don't...

The U.S., in other words, is running a triple D, with deficits on budget, trade and current account; Canada is running a triple S, with surpluses in all three categories.

Canada's unemployment rate stands in the middle of the G8 pack. But its employment rate — the share of the population working — rose faster from 1976 to 2003 (9.1 per cent, to 73.3 per cent from 64.2 per cent) than in other G8 countries. Next best was the U.S., with a 6.9-per-cent increase.

From 1995 to 1999... a growth rate of 3.7 per cent put Canada second, and growth of 3.1 per cent from 2000 to 2004 placed Canada first.

So, Canada is first or second in economic growth, the only country with a balanced national budget, and the only one with budgetary, trade and current account surpluses."

Not too shabby eh?

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

"The World according to Bush..."

I've just been watching the documentary "The World According to Bush" on CBC Newsworld. I recommend it to anyone out there interested in American politics/foreign policy. Pretty scary stuff. It's like Fahrenheit 911 only with less sensaltionalism, and even more facts, and it's truly frightening.

He's an interesting bit from the film:

President Bush (from his "State of the Union"): "Already the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction related programme activites... (I love that... it's like Clinton's "It depends upon what your definition of 'is' is".)
Had we failed to act, the dictator's (i.e. Saddam Hussein's) weapons of mass destruction programmes would continue to this day..."

David Kay (the guy who wrote the report): "I resigned essentially one day after the State of the Union address. I thought the politicians (guess which one springs to mind!) should have been far more cautious about what they were saying... He should have said, in my view, 'We were wrong.' He didn't."

Later the narrator mentions that Colin Powell said in late January of that year: "If I had known what David Kay told the Senate, my advice to the President would not have been to engage hostilities."

And later still, David Kay makes this entirely sane statement: "The idea of pre-emptive military action every time you have a threat is a genuinely crazy idea. We went to war for the wrong reasons, on the basis of a serious deception and error (to be fair, I think he may be refering to Hussein's deception of the U.S., not Bush's deception of the American people, but it's pretty clear who the "error" was commited by...)".

It's great that Windows XP Media Centre edition lets me pause live T.V.!

I may write more later, if I can figure out how to quote from a film I didn't actually record!

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