The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Monday, December 31, 2007

War in Afghanistan 2007 in a nutshell

The Sun newspaper in the U.K. carried a story today which just perfectly summed up the War in Afghanistan 2007.

It's too good to see passed by over New Year's. So we've decided to post it in lieu of the planned Afghanistan wrap, which we hope to have in a day or two.


The Sun (U.K.) December 31, 2007 JEROME STARKEY

Our Boys blitz Taliban bash
On patrol ... British soldier in Helmand province

with Our Boys in Helmand
Published: Today

BRITISH commandos launched a devastating blitz on the Taliban, as the evil terrorists held a party to celebrate Benazir Bhutto's murder.
The dawn raid was staged after messages were intercepted about the sick knees-up in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
Royal Marines crept into position as the fanatics partied the night away just hours after Ms Bhutto was killed in Pakistan.
The bash was being held in ruined compounds a few hundred yards from Our Boys' remote base in Kajaki.
Ragtag Taliban sentries tried to hit back with machine gun fire but stood no chance against the heroes of 40 Commando's Charlie Company.


The terrorists were pounded with mortars, rockets and heavy machine guns.
Two bloodthirsty revellers trying to creep towards Our Boys in a trench were spotted by thermal-imaging equipment and targeted with a Javelin heat-seeking missile.
The £65,000 rocket, designed to stop Soviet tanks, locked on to their body heat and tore more than a kilometer across the desert in seconds.
Troop Sergeant Dominic Conway, 32, who directed mortar rounds, grinned: "It must have had quite a detrimental effect on their morale."
Sgt Conway, from Whitley Bay, Tyneside, said of the Taliban lair: "It used to be their backyard and now we've made it ours."


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

CBC's News Strategy...if you can't beat 'em, BE 'em.

2007 has been a bizarre year for CBC News at Six, starting with the hiring of rival CTV news anchor Janet Stewart and ending with her predecessor on ice and cooling her heels while head office investigates a scandal that could undermine the very foundation of credibility at the Mother Corp.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at a CBC production meeting a year ago.

Producer A:

We've got to do something. More people watch Channel Nine's televised fireplace than our six o'clock news.

Producer B: I've got it. Let's blend what made us the No. 1 station twenty years ago with what makes CKY the No.1 station today. Pure dy-no-mite.

And so was born the Frankenstein's monster of television news. But we get ahead of ourselves.

The seduction of Janet Stewart would have made a winning reality show in itself. Building on a brief fliration by her, CBC honchos went into full Lothario mode. Nothing was too good when it came to wining and dining the Queen of Nice to replace Krista Erickson, whose professional on-air persona came with the warmth of a comforter made of dry-ice.

Lunch at the Paddlewheel at the Bay with CBC managing editor Cecil Rosner. Coffee at the Starbucks on Osborne with John Bertrand. How could a girl resist?

The only coal in the stocking was when The Black Rod revealed that Stewart was jumping ship, spoiling the carefully choreographed official announcement.

But she was only half the equation. The CBC reached deep, deep, deep into its Time Vault to resurrect the King of Nice, weatherman Murray Parker, to share the throne with Stewart. Nice meets nice. A sure-win scenario.

They wished.

Instead, we got the monster we've spoken of.

There was zero chemistry between Janet and Murray. Throw in sports guy Mike Beauregard and it was torture to watch. Three soloists, each wondering what the other two were on about.


Producer A:

We've got to do something. More people are watching flags flapping at Portage and Main than our six o'clock news.
Producer B:

By Jove, I've got it. If you can't beat 'em...Be 'em.

Exit Murray Parker. Enter CTV weather specialist John Sauder, their new hire.

Yes, the CBC has consciously decided to become a clone of CTV. If they would only give Waubgeshig Rice a haircut and put him on the police beat, they might fool some people into believing he was Kelly Dehn so they would stick around believing they were, indeed, watching CTV News.

Meanwhile, CBC is giving Janet Stewart the full-court press, pinning all their hopes on revitalization on her red-hair draped shoulders. She's got her very own column in the Free Press, and Rosner pulled a few strings with his friend Ritchie Gage, editor of Manitoba Business magazine, to give Stewart the cover-girl treatment.

Gage recounts a story meeting where Stewart comes across like a crusading Lou Grant chomping at the bit to run a human interest story that touches her heart.

Instead, says Gage, breaking news took precedence as CBC went live to a reporter at the virology lab where a suspicious package was found in the building. By contrast, CTV, he said, lead with the anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, followed by weather, more weather, then a sports brief.

Not so fast.

There's hype and then there's hype.

There's reality and CBC's pretend reality.

For the record, CTV actually lead with the virology package story, and, seeing as how their show starts almost 30 seconds before CBC News at Six, they technically had it first.

The Diana story ran 15 minutes into the line-up.

CBC News at Six has succeeded in carving out a unique niche for itself in the news timeslot. A virtual United Nations of newscasters, it boasts every ethnic group known to man. Except, maybe, the man. There's nary a male to be seen except for Waub, whose sing-song delivery leads the newscast most days; Alex Freeman, who covers the woman-friendly consumer beat, and Mychaylo Prystupa, whose great name speaks for itself.

Janet Stewart wixes her mirds so often CBC should promote her bloopers as a drinking game. And a highlight of every show is watching Donna Carreiro punctuate her every word with hand signals that appear to be a combination of semaphore, American sign language, and orchestra conducting. The man who guides planes to land on an aircraft carrier is a statue next to her.

CTV, though, better not laugh too hard. Whatever shortcomings CBC has, their gamble might pay off, particulary once Sauder joins the team.

CTV needs to find a way to energize their show to hold onto their crushing dominance in viewership.

CTV this year demonstrated it's capable of outclassing its competitors when it wants to.

On June 5th, CTV found itself the subject of breaking news when they were booted from their shiny new downtown studios after a bomb threat.

With a makeshift newscast wired at the last minute to utilize equipment at the MTS Centre next door, and with no scripts to follow, the team stood on the sidewalk and presented what may have been the best honest-to-gosh live newscast in the cities history.

Then this fall they slapped CBC silly with their hidden-camera expose of open-air crack dealing outside Portage Place and Air Canada Park.

It was a story unfolding right on Portage Avenue for years right under the noses of CBC, three blocks away. It forced police and Portage Place security to act, driving drug dealers away from the front doors of the shopping centre and clearing Air Canada Park of thuggish loiterers.

Now that's what good reporting can do for the community.

But it takes a lot to stimulate CTV into action. It's grown so comfortable in the pole position that the newscasts often lack ooomphh.

The interaction between Gord Leclerc and co-anchor Maralee Caruso seems wooden, which in itself is still an improvement over his excruciating happy-chat segues with Stewart. Behind Dehn, the daily cast hasn't much depth when covering stories, although Kevin Armstrong has been noticable for some aggressive city hall reporting. The issue of how to replace Sauder could lead to a change in the too-frequent weather segments, and it may be time to rethink how Sylvia Kuzyk fits into the overall show.

Stacey Ashley does a great job on weekend crime stories and Susan Tymofichuk has confidentally grown into the role of late-night anchor, but what the main newscast needs - genuine personality - was lost when Camilla Di Giuseppe and Leah Hextall weren't promoted to the first team and Camilla departed for Calgary.

And then there's Global.

Oh, what a disappointment.

Global News at 5:30 was a fast-paced breath of fresh air. But moving to six o'clock leached everything that was watchable out of the show.

Mike Brown, the jewel in Global's crown, would often lead the show at 5:30 with his unpredictable slant on news stories that everyone else was playing straight. But he's been relegated to also-ran at six, inserted here and there whenever to no good effect.

News anchor Derrick Oliver disappeared without a trace one day after an unfortunate experience hosting a volunteers awards dinner. His replacement, Peter Chura, brought all the pizazz of white noise in dark room while paint dried. It took months for him to loosen up, but at what cost to viewership?

The revolving co-anchors, Adrienne Pan and Eva Kovacs could have their experience better utilized in field reporting or special features, rather than some consultant's over-analyzed conclusion about what Winnipeggers insist on seeing ie- female anchor(s). The male reporters, by and large, lack presence and come off green as grass. And weekend anchor Nicolle Dube spouts malapropisms that would make Janet Stewart proud.

The departure of weathergirl Kate Stutsman for Hamilton has hurt Global a lot less than was first feared. Andrea Slobodian has left behind her undistuinguished reporting career, started to overcome her nerves, and now is a fresh new face with a beautiful smile and a girl-next-door-to-your-baba's-house appeal.

(Does anyone else yearn for the days of Lisa Saunders and Glen Kirby and A-Channel's phalanx of cameras on the streets. In fact Global should hire Lisa and Glen to give the show some personality. )

So, as 2007 gives way to 2008, television news in Winnipeg has become a soap opera.

Will CBC win back the hearts of viewers while wearing the mask of their arch-enemy?

Will CTV get over the heartbreak of rejection by its host and weatherman?

Will Global News find Derrick Oliver and tell him all is forgiven?

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Bloggers Out Krista Erickson as CBC-Liberal collusion suspect

The Blogosphere is abuzz with the name of the prime suspect in the CBC/Liberals collusion scandal---- none other than Krista Erickson, Winnipeg's very own Golden Girl.

The CBC is, officially, still investigating which of their Parliamentary reporters worked with the Liberal Party members of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee by providing them with questions to ask former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, questions designed to embarrass the current Conservative government. But, daily leaks from within the CBC indicate that they honed in on one suspect almost from the moment the CBC collusion was revealed last week.

And Krista Erickson is prominent in those leaks.

Sometimes it's by name:

Wudrick Blog
Monday, December 17, 2007
CBCGate: Name That Journo

Ottawa Watch said...
It's Krista Erikson. The questions regarded lobbying for wireless spectrum.
6:46 PM

Sometimes by description:

The Tea Makers (a blog by a self-described CBC manager)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Caution: Falling Ice and/or Snow
You may not be aware of it, but Canadian Conservative-leaning blogs are aflame with outrage over the fact that an unnamed CBC parliamentary reporter suggested questions to MP Pablo Rodriguez for Brian Mulroney. So instead of asking something about Airbus, he asked something about cell phones.

Anonymous said...
Ouimet and everyone else who works in the Mother Ship on Front Street has zero interest in this story. But it illustrates the divide between the CBC. Employees working outside Toronto often harbour an us vs. them view of the people in the Death Star. In Ottawa circles CBC still has a certain importance. And our reputation is paramount. Unlike Toronto, where you tell people you work for mother and they yawn and start listing all their friends who work at Much, City, TSN and Entertainment Tonight Canada. CBC Toronto types don't seem to care what happens outside the purple, green and blue elevators. P.S. If it turns out to be a certain bossomy young reporter who gave the Liberals a question, there will be a mutiny in Ottawa with universal demands for her beautiful and well coifed head. We may have to hit up Tyra Banks to find Canada's next top Parliamentary reporter. 'Girlfriend, you really pull off that Parliament thang.'
10:56 AM, December 19, 2007

Sometimes by reputation:

Small Dead Animals

I suspect Rodriguez will get a rough ride in the house for awhile any time he asks a question. And quite frankly the reporter at the CBC should essentially be frozen out, which means not recognizing her. Combined with her behaviour during the Hurricane she clearly has a tendency to sensationalize and make up stories while demanding perks and props.

Posted by: Stephen at December 20, 2007 10:17 AM

("during the Hurricane" refers to The Black Rod story about her vacation in Mexico: )

Did, as we postulated last week in The Black Rod, Krista's zeal get the better of her? We've since learned that two weeks before the ethics committee hearings, CBC National ran a piece by her regarding the very allegations made by the Liberals in the televised proceedings.

The CBC hasn't addressed the allegations against her, leaving her to twist in the wind.

The CBC is praying the scandal dies over the Christmas/New Year's period. They have already announced they will not release anyone's name because they're treating the exposure of their cosy relationship with the Liberals as "a personnel matter."

It's not. It's a scandal of Rathergate proportions.

Catching the publicly funded CBC collaborating with the Opposition Party to undermine the elected government of the country is NOT just another story.

But as you can see from the mocking attitude of the CBC manager's blog, that's not the view from inside the CBC. The culture of using public airwaves to attack the Conservatives is so ingrained that its become second nature to CBC employees. When they did it during the election and got caught, the management said each time, oops, it was a mistake, it was an individual's error and not deliberate. That excuse got stale after the first half dozen or so times.

At least one CBC defender understands the stakes, making this prescient comment on The Tea Makers:

Anonymous said...
I'm not really sure why anyone thinks this is funny. One silly girl with stars in her eyes has done more damage to the reputation of CBC's news service (tv, radio and on-line) than all the good reporters have done to elevate it. What's most concerning is that this has become a political football that most people just don't "get". Any political party worth their salt would run with this for their own agenda....and that's precisely what's happening. The fallout from this has not even begun and for the first time in recent history the CBC actually deserves the spanking it is getting. So, if you actually care about the CBC (and yes, I know it's hard to some days) and it's reputation in the news game, wake up, quit yawning and be outraged that one of your own has put a scarlet letter "U" for unethical on everyone.
8:44 PM, December 20, 2007

CTV's Mike Duffy was interviewed this week on CHUM radio station CFRA by Michael Harris, a sometimes guest on Duffy Live. Harris raised the CBC/Liberal collusion story which first broke on Duffy's show. Duffy drops some bombshells of his own (emphasis ours):


I happened to see the piece where you broke the story basically that the Corporation may have been feeding questions to the Liberals. The CBC in an uneasy relationship with government, especially this government and now the CBC itself will not give the name of the person--the journalist, that is--was mentioned obliquely. What do you make of the position the Corporation has taken in this that they are entitled to keep that secret and internal.


Well, It certainly says something about their on-air credibility, right? Don't you think that the people watching the news would like to know who's the one who works hand-in-glove with the Liberals or any other political party. I mean it's really astonishing to me that they're not more forthright.

The other thing is that Jean Polder (ph) the official spokesman for CBC, who used to with us out at CJOH in the old days, basically said that they were investigating whether a reporter had gone too far in the legitimate pursuit of a story. He didn't say "No, this is not true. It never happened." He said we're investigating a reporter went too far. So they're, in effect, conceding that it occurred and they're saying did, and it's a female, did she cross the line? So, uh, we'll see where that all ends up. But I think it puts the CBC in a difficult position not to say who the person is because then it puts all of their people under a cloud and Canadians have a right to expect more from their national broadcaster. And some of us who worked there--both you and me--know that in the past that kind of thing wasn't tolerated but times have changed dramatically at the Corp, and I think this goes to the heart of credibility.


Also I think this is a big test for the new the new head of hte CBC fresh from the Chicago Sun-Times. John's got a problem on his hands that's really gonna test him. John Cruikshank.


You worked with John Cruikshank at the Globe. I don't really know him, I know who he is. I'm not really certain that anybody who hasn't been part of that inside circle at the CBC has any appreciation of just how political and how difficult a place it is to manage. I mean there are factions within factions, uh, Politically correct is, uh, is the understatement of the.. The people who are in positions of power share a completely different value set than most of the rest of us in journalism."

Duffy also addressed why the scandal is not being covered in the print media. He said the CBC is the biggest employer of freelancers from the newspapers and a CBC cheque makes the difference to many print journalists (we think he means in Ottawa and the Centre of the Universe) between a good life and a very good life.

CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin has the knotty problem of how to spin this scandal to the public. His immediate response to complainants about the CBC collusion is an e-mail saying the complaint has been sent upstairs to Cruickshank, who holds the newly created position of Publisher, English News.

Cruickshank comes to the CBC from a stint as publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and chief operating officer of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Group. He knows the precedent set in the U.S. when CBS was caught using forged documents to attack George Bush during the 2004 presidential election campaign.

Knowing their credibility risked being destroyed forever, CBS set up an investigative panel of distinguished outsiders to examine how the story ever got to air in the first place. When the panel came out with its report, the network fired producer Mary Mapes and asked for the resignations of senior CBS vice-president Betsy West, "60 Minutes Wednesday" executive producer Josh Howard, and his top deputy Mary Murphy. Host Dan Rather was allowed to run out his contract counting paperclips.

CBS news and current affairs will carry the taint of Rathergate forever, but at least the house-cleaning cleared the individual reputations of the reporters and producers who remained.

Cruickshank has to bring in someone with fresh eyes to do the same at the CBC. The public corporation needs a wholesale cleansing of the people who, in Mike Duffy's words, "share a completely different value set than most of the rest of us in journalism."

The CBC manager-blogger writes in The Tea Makers:

"Personally I just don't see what the big deal is. And it's boring. I nearly fell asleep writing that opening paragraph, and I might have got that last part wrong. That's how I "cover a story."

That's exactly the attitude the public expects and exactly why The CBC cannot investigate itself and hide its conclusions behind close doors. The CBC cannot go into another federal election with the stench of bias and collusion that currently covers all of its radio and television news staff.

Memo to John Cruickshank: This story isn't going away.
Post Script:

The CBC isn't alone in ignoring the Liberal collusion scandal. Canadian Press did one whole story, when CBC announced it was investigating itself. But CP has its own biases.

Compare how that story ran in the French and English versions.

The CP story on the CBC investigation of itself hit the wires Friday night in both English and French versions.

Le réseau CBC ouvre une enquête
La Presse Canadienne

Le réseau CBC a ouvert une enquête interne afin de déterminer si un de ses reporters parlementaires a soumis ses questions à un député libéral qui participait à l'audience sur l'affaire Mulroney-Schreiber.

CBC reviewing claim reporter fed questions to Liberal MP

OTTAWA - The CBC has begun an internal investigation and possible disciplinary action after one of its parliamentary reporters apparently suggested questions to a Liberal MP taking part in the high-profile Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry.

While the stories were identical for the most part, there was one paragraph where the English version was significantly different from the French. Here's a word-for-word comparison of that paragraph:

La nouvelle a fait des ravages vendredi dans la blogosphère, sur Internet, où l'incident a été considéré comme un exemple du parti pris de la CBC pour les libéraux.

The story raged across the conservative blogosphere all day Friday, where the incident was viewed as an example of Liberal bias by the CBC.

La nouvelle = The story
a fait des ravages = raged across
vendredi = Friday
dans la blogosphère = across the conservative blogosphere
sur Internet = (on the Internet)
où l'incident a été considéré = where the incident was viewed
comme un exemple = as an example
du parti pris de la CBC pour les libéraux. = of Liberal bias by the CBC.

Can you spot the difference?

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ethics expert investigating CBC-Liberal collusion

CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin has just been handed the hot potato from Hell.

Carlin has to investigate a formal complaint from the Conservative Party of Canada that a CBC reporter provided questions to Liberal members of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to ask former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

If he confirms it, he will confirm, whether he admits it or not, the long-held belief that CBC reporters are biased against the Conservatives and allied with the federal Liberals. The fallout will be widespread and lasting.

If he says he can't confirm it, he risks being humiliated by TVA reporter (and former Liberal cabinet minister) Jean LaPierre, who first reported the CBC-Liberal collusion story. If LaPierre comes up with the name of the CBC reporter, then Carlin will be widely seen as part of a cover-up and he'll likely find himself looking for a job. The fallout from this scenario would be worse.

He could try to straddle the fence and say he can't find the evidence against any reporter but declare that, in general, collaborating with one party against another is bad and shouldn't be done by any CBC reporter. That would have about as much credibility as Mulroney's safety-deposit box story. The answer would satisfy nobody, except perhaps the Liberals, and the suspicion of the CBC would fester like flesh-eating disease.

And it doesn't help the CBC that, according to Carlin's bio on the CBC website, he "also became one of the leading commentators on journalism ethics in Canada and has appeared as an expert witness on journalistic practice and ethics in a number of legal cases involving most of the major media outlets in the country."

And if that isn't enough, Carlin's wife is an ethics teacher with Ryerson University's Philosophy Department.

Some clues as to where Carlin's investigation is going may lie in the Canadian Press story Saturday on the CBC probe:

CBC reviewing claim reporter fed questions to Liberal MP

OTTAWA - The CBC has begun an internal investigation and possible disciplinary action after one of its parliamentary reporters apparently suggested questions to a Liberal MP taking part in the high-profile Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry.

CP states flatly that CBC is investigating "one of its parliamentary reporters." Oh?

(Note, also, how CP frames the matter by gently describing collusion as 'suggesting questions.')

The CBC has many "parliamentary reporters". In Manitoba, the journalistic community wondered if CBC's Golden Girl, Krista Erickson, let her zeal get the better of her. But nobody in English Canada gives two hoots over the issue the Liberals raised with Mulroney-- Quebecor and cell phone licences--so you can likely cross off Krista from the list of suspects, along with the rest of the CBC's parliamentary cabal--Don Newman, Senior Parliamentary Editor; Susan Murray, Senior Parliamentary Reporter, CBC Radio; Keith Boag, Parliamentary bureau chief and whatever host of others carry the designation.

CBC reporter Rosemary Barton was covering the ethics committee hearings, but she's not a parliamentary reporter as such. However she was identified as "a political reporter for Montreal's CBC News at Six." during the February Quebec election, and that may point in the right direction.

It's likely that the reporter who phoned the Liberals, a call confirmed by one of their own researchers to LaPierre, was from Radio-Canada, the French arm of the CBC.

And, in fact, you can find this story on Radio-Canada's website

Mise à jour le samedi 1 décembre 2007 à 7 h 27
Téléphonie sans fil
Quebecor se défend
Quebecor affirme n'avoir rien à se reprocher dans le processus qui a amené Ottawa à ouvrir davantage le marché de la téléphonie sans fil.
Jeudi, CBC rapportait que l'ancien premier ministre Brian Mulroney, membre du conseil d'administration de Quebecor, aurait joué un rôle important de lobbying dans cette affaire, alors qu'il n'est pas un lobbyiste enregistré.

Which sort of translates (thank you Google) to:

Wireless Telephony: Quebec Defends Itself
The Quebec group claims to have abided by the rules in the process of lobbying on the opening of the market for wireless telephony. Selon CBC, Brian Mulroney aurait fait des représentations pour Quebecor, alors qu'il n'est pas un lobbyiste enregistré. According to CBC, Brian Mulroney had made representations to Quebecor, as he is not a registered lobbyist.

Lo and behold, Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez was asking Brian Mulroney about that very same issue at the ethics commitee on Thursday. Coincidence?

And a little further digging on the CBC-French website turns up a list of their
Parliamentary correspondents in Ottawa:
Geneviève Asselin, Daniel Lessard, Jean-Yves Michaud and Patrice Roy


Of course, the CBC has already informed the public that if the allegations of collusion turn out to be true, the identify of the CBC reporter will be protected.

The CP story stated:

The public broadcaster did not name the reporter, but said "the particulars of this matter are currently under investigation and will be considered under the disciplinary processes outlined in our collective agreement."

Got that? Collective agreement.

Cone of silence.
So back off.

But CBC has hundreds of employees, some of whom actually claim to be reporters.

Confronted with a great story tinged with a possible cover-up, the CBC journalists will have to live up to their alleged reputation and expose the name of the reporter to the public.

They are always the first to climb their high horse and declare the public has a right to know. And in this case we do have a right to know if the public broadcaster is in bed with the Liberal Party. The "journalists" at the CBC have no option but to go around their union contract and name names.

Oh, the irony.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Trust us, CBC - Liberal collaboration not news: MSM

It's exciting to watch history in the making.

The appearance of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney before the Parliamentary Ethics Committee on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 will be seen as another milestone in the march of citizen journalists who are inexorably undermining the practices of old-style reporting in the 21st Century.

Newshounds across the country saw, right before their eyes, how the mainstream media consciously ignored the most serious breach of ethics exposed by the committee hearing.

The breach of ethics had little to do with Brian Mulroney and everything to do with the taxpayer-funded CBC which was caught red-handed colluding with their former masters, the Liberal Party of Canada, to smear the current government.

And how the poisonous alliance came to be revealed to the public is a fascinating story of its own.

After Mulroney's session with the ethics committee, CTV's Mike Duffy was doing his post-mortem when he threw TVA reporter Jean LaPierre a soft-ball question about why the Liberals went after Mulroney over the auction of cell phone wavelengths.

Instead of the expected eye-glazing answer, LaPierre, who was formerly a minister in Paul Martin's cabinet, dropped a bombshell.

Lapierre said he knew on Wednesday night what questions the Liberals were going to ask, that the CBC had provided the questions to the Liberals and that his source was "an influential Member of Parliament."

Jean Lapierre:
Well, Mike, I will surprise you, but last night I knew all about those questions. They were written by the CBC and provided to the Liberal Members of Parliament and the questions that [Liberal MP and committee questioner] Pablo Rodriguez asked were written by the CBC and I can't believe that but last night, a very influential Member of Parliament came to me and told me those are the questions the CBC wants us to ask tomorrow.

Duffy almost passed out. Instead of asking for more details, he said the allegation was "libellous or defamatory" and he tried to get back to the sleep-inducing issue of spectrum auction.

It took two more twists before Duffy would even acknowledge it as a legitimate story.The Conservatives issued a news release demanding answers from the CBC over LaPierre's story, and LaPierre updated it, with a report that a Liberal Party researcher contacted him to say the CBC did call the Liberals but that the Liberals wrote the questions themselves.

The story hit the blogosphere like an Alberta Clipper. The mainstream media? Not so much.

'In fact, aside from a panel discussion on Duffy's afternoon TV show on Thursday, there hasn't been a word about Questiongate in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, CBC National News, CTV news, Global, or the local newspapers. A Google News search fails to turn up a single newspaper story about the CBC/Liberal alliance.

And yet this story is huge by any journalistic measure.

The CBC has allegedly breached every ethical principle by secretly conspiring with one political party against another, all the while pretending to be above politics.

The spectrum auction question was designed to link the Conservative government to Brian Mulroney, who is a senior officer of Quebecor World. The Liberals were alleging Mulroney used his political connections to get Quebecor a hearing with the minister in charge of the auction, and thereby was acting as an unregistered lobbyist.

LaPierre was a member of the Liberal Party caucus until recently. He is an excellent source for the machinations within the Liberal Party. And it appears he reported on his own party's transgressions because his own personal code of ethics was offended.

From the Transcript:
Jean Lapierre: ... but a Member of Parliament last night came to me and told me about those questions-I want you to know because I did not really appreciate that because you know I've been serving in this Parliament for what- 16 years-and never a network posed a question for me.

Duffy: Well, let's just say that's hearsay that's going around ...

Lapierre: Yes but I heard it. Here in this building.

Duffy: Yes I know you heard it but when the lawsuit arrives...

Readers of The Black Rod will not be surprised by LaPierre's bombshell. Way back in February The Black Rod revealed how the Parliamentary Press Gallery openly bragged about their anybody-but-Harper dalliance with the Opposition.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Revealed: the Parliamentary Press Gallery's Anybody-but-Harper Entente Cordial

The MSM are quick to bray about being professionals who don't pollute their reporting with their personal biases, unlike the pyjama-clad bloggers in their mothers' basements. They are the first to demand that politicians (those that they disapprove of, at least) be held accountable for conflicts of interest or a breaches of ethics.

But when one of their own is accused of the same offences, they lower the Cone of Silence.
Omerta: the Code of the Mainstream Media.

But the day of the gatekeepers is long past. The blogosphere will keep the pressure on the CBC until it answers to the charge of collusion. There's no way that the CBC can be allowed to cover any future federal election until this matter is thoroughly investigated and dealt with.

In the Rathergate debacle, CBS fired producer Mary Mapes because she arranged a phone call between an official of the Democratic Party and a source of hers who promised to provide her with (forged) documents she could use to attack President George Bush during the 2004 presidential election.

She crossed the line, CBS said.

By actively collaborating with the Liberal Party on writing questions to ask Brian Mulroney, the CBC erased the line.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Bloggers' Code Escapes The Winnipeg Free Press


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, maybe the Free Press newsroom will next have to don pyjamas and take their laptops into their mother's basements.

So let's just forget that it took the Winnipeg Free Press SIX WEEKS to duplicate The Black Rod's exclusive story linking Winnipeg murder victims to a thug sub-culture sweeping the province. (

Our readers know who had it first.

Hell, it took the FP almost ONE YEAR to acknowledge The Black Rod's exclusive reporting on the Matthew Dumas shooting.

( Sunday, April 24, 2005. EXCLUSIVE: "Daddy they're beating him up"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. The Free Press scalps The Black Rod for the true story about the Matthew Dumas shooting )

Far from objecting to seeing our stories cribbed, we welcome it because if we didn't think the stories were important we wouldn't have written them in the first place. We've helped mainstream media reporters develop stories when asked politely.

What's unforgiveable is the breach of the blogger's code.

Don't forget that Free Press publisher Box Cox (as he was identified by the professionally written, professionally edited newspaper) so gloriously announced a year ago, when he was still the newspaper's Editor, that he, too, was a blogger.

Sure his biggest blow was about the death of the period, or the comma, or the paragraph.

But, surely, he understood the code.

And the code says that you acknowledge by giving a H/T (hat tip) to a fellow blogger who gives you a tip or who is the source of a story you're referencing.

That's common courtesy, Box. Uh, Bob.

The author of the Free Press Gangs-on-the-Web story, Bruce Owen, is headed for the Legislature beat.

We're sure he'll find plenty to crib from The Black Rod to feed his new beat, starting with O'Learygate, and the Crocus Fund's secret back channel to the NDP caucus, and the province's new Auditor General who'll accept any story providing you have a receipt, or you swear you once spoke to someone who said he saw a receipt somewhere.

Bon Appetit, Bruce.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

War In Afghanistan 2007 Week 48 and 49

"The operation to retake Musa Qala has commenced," British ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Eaton told the press two days ago.

Even as we write this, the definitive battle of 2007 is underway. Coalition forces, including British, Danish and Estonian troops, were taken by helicopter to the edge of the town prior to the final assault.

Friday, one NATO soldier was killed by a mine, Afghan and coalition forces killed 12 Taliban, and two children being used as human shields died when the car they were in was caught in a firefight.

Just as the Canadian-led Operation Medusa crushed Taliban hopes in 2006, chasing the Taliban out of Musa Qala would extinguish any claim of success the insurgents could make for 2007.

Taliban forces swept into the town of Musa Qala at the beginning of February, sweeping aside the local tribal council and seizing control. They immediately imposed a reign of terror, executing anyone they suspected of spying.

"We do not punish people for their hair and beards right now," the Taleban district governor told an Afghan reporter last month . "But once we take over the country, we will treat people according to the orders of our supreme leader Mullah Omar."

This week Afghanistan's central government finally gave its okay: take back the town.

For the past month Afghan and coalition forces have been inching toward Musa Qala, waiting for the final go-ahead. Throughout the year three Taliban commanders associated with the takeover were killed by airstrikes and separate gun battles over the summer killed more than 300 Taliban fighters. Then in September the softening up process began in earnest through wide-scale assaults, ambushes, and airstrikes on Taliban trench lines and other defensive positions.

A probe by 50 British vehicles came within two miles of the town at the end of November and succeeded in its objective of keeping the Taliban in Musa Qala confused and on edge.

Coalition forces held back while discussions were held with Mullah Abdul Salaam, a tribal leader commanding a large Taliban force inside Musa Qala, who had indicated a desire to surrender to the government without a fight. There's been no word on the Mullah Salaam lately, indicating negotiations failed.

NATO officials say the looming battle may be the fiercest combat since Operation Anaconda in 2002.

On Thursday NATO planes dropped leaflets over Musa Qala. Some residents said the pamphlets warned of an imminent assault. Others that they urged tribal leaders to eject the Islamic hardliners themselves.

Royal Marines of 40 Commando, the 1st Battalion the Scots Guards, Household Cavalry light tanks, the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Artillery and the Green Howards have apparently encircled the town in preparation for the final assault.

Western military sources told The Daily Telegraph that Afghan forces will lead the assault - the first time that the national army has undertaken an operation on such a scale. Contacted by satellite telephone, Taliban commanders told reporters they had mined routes to the town, which is about the size of Cambridge.

"I have 300 Mujahideen with me," said Mullah Ahmad Muslim. "We have brought our best artillery. We have ZSU anti-aircraft guns in place to attack the helicopters."

But he wasn't ruling out retreat completely.

"The Mujahideen are ready to fight. It is hard to say whether we will make a tactical withdrawal. We will see." One town resident said that Mullah Tor Jan, the overall Taliban commander in the town, had told local leaders that they would "save the town from destruction" by withdrawing once a "screen" of his fighters to the south of the town was breached by British forces.

Last week Taliban commander Enqiadi told local reporters he was already making plans to seize all of Helmand province from his base in Musa Qala.

He told Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri: "We have achieved more this year compared to last year. We are so strong now, we are able to fight the Americans in Helmand … and on the front-line. We are better equipped and our enemies have tried to occupy our territory, but they can't."

"Last year we used guerrilla attacks," he said. "This year we will organize frontal assaults. Our lines are so strong that the foreigners will never break them. The foreigners say they are going to launch a major operation in Musa Qala. We are ready for that. In Musa Qala alone, we have 2,500 fully armed fighters. It will be very easy for us to resist the attack. We want to take the whole province this winter."

He may have had second thoughts Monday when a coalition airstrike near Musa Qala killed Mullah Sainy, the Taliban commander who kidnapped an Italian journalist last March. Sainy and four other Taliban were in a vehicle near the village of Nowzad when it was hit by a Hellfire missile fired from a U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator unmanned drone.

The skies over Helmand province, and especially Musa Qala (or Musa Qal'eh, as the Air Force calls it) are crowded with aircraft. The daily air summaries from the last few days alone are exciting reading:

*An Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dropped guided bomb unit-12s against a vehicle transporting enemy combatants near Musa Qal'eh.

*An Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II flew over Musa Qal-eh to deter enemy activities. The mission supported a coalition convoy moving through the area.

*Shows of force with flares were performed by F-15Es to deter enemy activities in Musa Qal'eh.

* In Nowzad, coalition troop engagements against enemy combatants were supported by Air Force aircraft. A B1-B Lancer, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-15Es dropped GBU-38s. A 500-pound bomb, cannon rounds and a GBU-12 were delivered by the A-10s.

*Additionally, an MQ-1B Predator fired a Hellfire missile while another GBU-12 was fired from an MQ-9A Reaper. These munitions were used against enemy combatants who were taking positions in buildings and rocket-propelled grenade sites.

*F-15Es successfully conducted shows of force with flares to deter enemy activities in areas around Musa Qal'eh, Kajaki Dam and Sangin. Additionally, GBU-38s were used against an enemy compound in Sangin.

*Multiple F-15E aircrafts supported coalition force engagements against enemy combatants in Sangin and Nowzad. The F-15Es dropped GBU-38s, GBU-12s, and cannon rounds against enemy compounds and fighting positions.

* a Royal Air Force Harrier GR-9 targeted an enemy position with an enhanced Paveway II munitions in Musa Qal'eh. Coalition forces were engaging enemy combatants in hostile action.
*A French Mirage 2000 and a Mirage F1-CR conducted shows of force to deter enemy activities in Musa Qal'eh.

*A RAF GR-9 showed continued presence over Coalition positions during a show of force demonstration in Musa Qal'eh. The JTAC declared the mission as a success.

(FYI we wondered what a GR-9 was, so we looked it up:
The Harrier GR9 is a heavily updated development of the existing GR7, incorporating the ability to use a wide range of advanced precision weaponry, new communications, and systems and airframe upgrades. Integration and clearance of these weapons will allow the RAF to hit a wider range of targets harder, at longer range and with less risk to aircrew.)

Even as the Taliban's stronghold in southern Afghanistan crumbles, their Pakistan safe haven is collapsing.

Until this year the Islamic fundamentalists had a peace agreement with the Pakistani government which allowed them almost unlimited freedom in the tribal regions so long as they stayed away from the urban centres. The Taliban leaders could hide out there, run unmolested training camps, and rebuild their forces over the winter when fighting in Afghanistan dies down.

But this year the pro-Al Qaeda tribes have been feuding with the Afghanistan-first tribes resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Taliban fighters. And when the fundamentalists tried to expand their control into Pakistan's so-called settled areas, the central government fought back. This week alone over 130 militants have been killed in Pakistan's Swat Valley where a radical cleric tried to set up a state-within-a-state.

Among the dead are many Taliban commanders who will not be returning to Afghanistan to fight coalition troops. The Islamic militants are on the run, but if they try to flee into Afghanistan, they will find coalition forces waiting for them.

The struggle in Afghanistan, meanwhile, is more of the same.

On Friday, three Taliban fighters blew themselves up when a roadside bomb they were planting exploded prematurely south of Kandahar city on a road frequently used by Nato and police forces.

Another IED in the Kandahar area hit a civilian bus, killing four civilians including two women. Their five children were among the injured.

Last week three Canadian soldiers were seriously injured when a roadside bomb destroyed their light armoured vehicle on a stretch of road west of Kandahar.

News accounts said the road "about 40 km west of Kandahar city, near Sperwan Ghar is a favourite spot of the Taliban and has been nicknamed IED alley because of the high number of explosives found there."

The Canadian military this week released video taken by unmanned drones of Taliban troops trying to hide from NATO forces, often by disguising themselves as women. The clarity was excellent.

So what. That's all the Canadian military can do, is watch.

Canada uses bargain basement UAV'S called Sperwers to spy on Taliban forces, drones which have no offensive missiles to kill what they see. In fact, according to troops on the ground, the Sperwers make so much noise Taliban troops know when they're being watched and just have to wait for the UAV's to leave before planting roadside bombs.

Someday someone will have to answer for this unacceptable situation where Canadian forces in battle use inadequate, outdated equipment that cannot be used to stop the enemy's main killing weapon-the roadside bomb.

The extemely clear pictures should however put to rest the media's kneejerk disbelief of the U.S. Air Force whenever Taliban spokesmen accuse them of killing civilians in air strikes. Last week they accused the U.S. of killing 14 contruction workers in Nuristan province. The U.S. insisted they attacked a group of Taliban fighters. Now that we can see for ourselves the clarity of video taken from the air there's no reason to disbelieve pilots who know what they're bombing.

Taliban insurgents continued to depend on terror tactics, which take a huge toll of innocent civilians caught in the line of fire.

- A suicide bomber smashed his car into a bus carrying Afghan Army personnel in the capital early Wednesday morning. 13 people were killed-seven army officers in the bus and six civilians on the street, including four children.

- Another bombing in Kabul, on Tuesday morning, saw a suicide car bomber crash into a two-car NATO convoy on the Kabul airport road. 22 Afghan civilians in a nearby bus and on the street were wounded.

- On Nov. 27 two civilians were killed by a suicide bomber who attacked a U.S. security convoy of three land cruisers. The Canadian embassy in Kabul was damaged in the blast.

- And three days earlier a suicide bomber killed nine civilians, six of them children, at the opening of new bridge on the outskirts of the capital. One Italian soldier was also killed in the blast.

A dozen bomb attacks in and around the capital since June have killed 90 people.

In Afghanistan's eastern Logar province, U.S. troops narrowly averted a great tragedy when they discovered two bombs at the Poorak Girls School where 400 students are enrolled.

One was a hand grenade rigged to explode at the school's entrance. The other was
a bomb placed under a footbridge in front of the school.
It was made of two Chinese-made 82 mm mortars, a two-foot-long recoilless rifle round and a pound of explosives material placed in a bag - all of it wired up to batteries.

Home-grown Taliban have shown a reluctance to use terror tactics that harm their own people, but Al Qaeda fighters from other countries relish the death and destruction they cause.
An ISAF spokesman, Portuguese Brigadier General Carlos Branco said the militants were "unable to take their insurgency to the next level" and so had resorted to "terrorism", the use of propaganda and outright lying about the results of their actions out of desperation.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Firebombing death forces mainstream media to finally notice Winnipeg has a gang war

The body count continues to rise --- and the mainstream press begins to suspect something.

A month and a half ago The Black Rod exposed the links between seven Winnipeg homicide victims and street gangs inspired by gangster rap, and modelled on the granddaddys of street gangs, the Crips and the Bloods.

Today, the death toll has grown to eight definite, with #9 pencilled in.

Nathan Starr, 14, joined the death list Tuesday when he died in a firebombing of a house on Mountain Avenue. He was a member of the M.O.B. street gang. Two suspects arrested for the firebombing are members of the Indian Posse.

The genteel Winnipeg Free Press reporter Gabrielle Giroday reported Wednesday the initials M.O.B. stood for Most Organized Brothers. Her colleague Bruce Owen offered an alternate name Thursday -- 'Money Over B____', a mystery name designed to spare the sensibilities of Free Press readers.

Let's quit playing games.

Starr was a member of Money Over Bitches, or Money Ovah Bitches in gang argot. Giroday was right when she said the gang is "named after a reference to a song by late rapper Tupac Shakur."

That song, appropriately enough, is named M.O.B. and here's a sampling of the lyrics and the chorus.


[Chorus 2X: 2Pac]
M.O.B., nigga 'cause we mob on you tricks
and you know we keep it money over bitches

Thugs known to bust on sight
God bless my crazy life la vida loca homie livin that thug life
Been raised in violence homicide's my lullaby
Came with the homies and learned to kick it until we die
Boss players you wonder why live the life of a ghetto kingpin, just let me ride
Bitches and niggaz in penitentary suits
I send 'em letters and money orders and make 'em my troops
As for you females, I got no time, I gotta get mine
You cannot blind me addicted to a life of crime
My time as shorty was full of car chases
While runnin with John Gotti's and Scarface's
Niggas knew, I'd be the Don in my own crew
A million niggaz with automatics who swarm through
You wonder who shot me here's a clue, stay alert
Cause we comin' for you, and keep it money over bitches

The Urban Dictionary defines M.O.B. this way:

" 1. M.O.B. Money over Bitches (2pac), but originally Member of bloods (from the gangs of Los Angeles)

2. M.O.B. Money Over Bitches/Member Of Bloods

The late Tupac Shakur defined the fraze M.O.B to mean 'money of bitches', although this definition had a meaning of its own, what tupac actually ment when he said it was that he was now MOB related, i.e, a Member Of Bloods. The Bloods are a west LA street gang.

Therefore the fraze is actually a clever double meaning.

Some rappers still use the fraze 'MOB' to mean Tupacs defined meaning 'Money Over Bitches' without knowing what he was truly implying. "

Sweet, eh.

And the Free Press, never one to miss a trick, headlined their firebombing story Thursday "Deadly Fire part of Gang War?"

Well, DUH.

The Black Rod has been reporting an on-going gang war in the North End for two years. It took a police news conference for the FP to notice.

They still haven't made the connection between the gangsta-life gangs and seven, now eight, murders/ killings/ deaths in the past year.

Oh well, give them time. There may be a news conference on that one day.

But since our exclusive story on the gang wars engulfing Winnipeg, we did more digging and believe we've uncovered a ninth for the list.

Kyle Boss, 21, was beaten to death Aug. 31 in what police called "a gang-related attack" .

The tattoos on his neck suggested some gang involvement on his part, but Kyle Boss's girlfriend and mother of his three children has gone on record saying "he was never active into gang activity."

Nevertheless, tributes to him have appeared on social networking sites popular with gang members and their friends. This one also references a well-known-to-police street gang.

JecKie westsydebrim
Rip Kyle Boss, 0 Replies. haha. lol. A, 0 Replies. WESTSIDE BLOODZ <3cass. memberid="4024720142">

Even if Boss, himself, was not in a gang, his attackers certainly were. The attack on him took place on Beverley Street. While police have not identified the gang that attacked Boss, it wasn't hard to discover which gang is "active" in the area...

May 23, 2007
Winnipeg attack-kidnap suspect held

Police have arrested a third suspect wanted in the brutal assault and kidnapping of a 40-year-old city woman last February...All three accused are members of the Mad Cowz street gang. The victim is believed to be the mother of a gang member involved in a drug dispute with the three accused. Police say the woman was walking near the corner of Sargent Avenue and Beverley Street about 10 p.m. when three men abducted her.

Counting Kyle Boss as another murder linked to gangs means that one in three homicides in the past year (9 of 26) can be traced to one root cause :

A gangsta rap subculture that's gone unreported anywhere but in The Black Rod.

Empire Cabaret Murder Update

The Winnipeg police have a suspect in the stabbing murder of Jeff Engen.

We're informed that a well-known motorcycle enthusiast may, as the saying goes, have information bearing on the case.

Stay tuned.