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 adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Name:
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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, May 31, 2010

Winnipeg planners to taxpayers: Our Plan, You Pay.


If you wanted to stop mowing city boulevards so they could return to wild forest and grassland and Winnipeg could eventually boast of having the largest population of prairie dogs, you were welcomed by city planners.

Too many mosquitoes? Flood the city with bats to eat them. Brilliant, trilled the planners.

If you believed the future of Winnipeg lay in turning the clock back to the 19th century, before the internal combusion engine was invented and cars replaced horses, you were embraced and pushed to an exhalted position at the front of the line.

But if you felt that city taxpayers should have the final say about how the city should grow, develop and look 25 years from now, you were reviled, scorned, insulted and treated like a leper.

Welcome to OurWinnipeg, the sham consultation process conducted over the past week.

OurWinnipeg is the latest of the series of phony public non-consultation processes conducted by Mayor Sam Katz and his supporters. You know...

* There was the one, ahem, "consulting" people about a bike path through their North End neighbourhood, where residents got notice of the meeting one day, two days, three days, four days AFTER the meeting took place.

* And, of course, the, uh, "public consultation" over which of three designs for the Disraeli Bridge was most preferred. The public selected one, which was immediately scrapped while the city planners held secret meetings with a special interest group, which led to a decision to build two bridges at a cost higher than the most expensive bridge rejected by the public at the "public consultations."

This is just more of the same, only with more bells and whistles.

* The city planning department claims they heard from 42.000 people over the past year about how they want Winnipeg to evolve over the next 25 years. They say they synthesized those 42,000 opinions into four or five fancy booklets stuffed with what they claim is the direction those 42,000 voices want the city to take.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

* The short-lived Police Advisory Board asked citizens in the highest-crime areas of Winnipeg what they wanted to see from their police force. More police on the streets, said the people. Close the crack houses. Protect our children from gangs. Chase away the street prostitutes.

But the city planners heard "more social workers to address the root causes of crime." (Oh boy, you're going to hear a lot about root causes this week. Stay tuned.) Nowhere in the planning documents does it mention that the NDP government pledged 10 years ago to address the root causes of crime. How's that working,by the way?

* Every year Winnipeg motorists beg the city to fix the potholes that make driving a nightmare. The planning department heard them say "oh boy, potholes are great tools to drive cars off the road. People should ride bicycles."

* The city devoted one whole week to get feedback from the public about the 25-year plan. Yep, one entire week. Seven whole days. The clock stops June 1.

The only problem was that the city planners failed miserably when it came to a little thing called communication. The booklets they put out for the hoi polloi were....well....useless.

Let's see. They invited people to discuss “spatial articulation."
They said the city should "introduce special tools to...mitigate the liabilities associated with high-risk situations."

Oh, and of course, they want Winnipeg to "link persons with ongoing public safety issues to appropriate long-term support.'

Huh? Huh? And double-huh.

It was obvious in seconds that they didn't want anyone's opinion but their own.

The language was designed to baffle and turn away everyone except city planners, who could then claim to council that the public had been "consulted" and had no objections to anything in der plan.

And it gets worse.

* Shouldn't Winnipeg homeowners who pay the taxes that run the city have the major say in how the city grows, a planner was asked.

He turned various shades of purple.

Taxpayers? Making decisions? Preposterous. "Is that the city you want?" he bellowed.

Um.

Yes.

That's exactly the city we want.

Gopher Boy and the ban-all-cars contingent have made their pitch, but the final say belongs to the people who pay the shot. If they want to drive cars, then the city MUST work at providing the best environment for motorists in the world. If you don't like it, MOVE.

If we want our boulevards mowed regularly, then the city must buy enough grass-cutting equipment to keep up with the growth. If we want daily spraying of malathion to eliminate mosquitoes during our short summers, then buy in bulk or hit the road.

That's called democracy. If you want something else, run for office and let's see how many votes you get. We can all use a laugh.

The priorities of city taxpayers must be the priorities of the city.

Former mayor Glen Murray thought his "visionary" status allowed him to spend taxpayer's money on street parties and fancy overpriced bridges instead of policing and road repairs. When he quit and lost his bid for federal office, he couldn't find another job in Winnipeg and had to run away to Toronto. The city had spoken.

* And city taxpayers must have a veto.

Why are we spending $20 million on trendy bicycle paths to be used by a tiny handful of commuters, when, we're told, we need to spend billions on fixing streets, sidewalks, and backlanes.

When, exactly, was the public asked how they wanted their money spent?

Oh yeah....never.

Remember that in October when you vote for a new council.

For another view of the OurWinnipeg process read Progressive Winnipeg at http://progressivewinnipeg.blogspot.com/2010/05/our-winnipeg-draught-dripdripsomethings.html

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The connection between Justin Bieber and Winnipeg homicide #8

Was murder victim Kyle Earl thinking of punching out Justin Bieber when the teen pop star came to Winnipeg last September?

A friend of his says yes.

Meaningless empty talk? Punk bravado? Or a sign of how deluded gang members have become in Winnipeg, that they see attacking a pop star as their ticket to fame?

The day after 16-year-old Kyle Earl was shot to death while sitting with friends on the steps of West End house, this post appeared on AQ, a forum for World of Warcraft gamers:

Perrym69
this is a very sad day for me, i just wanted to talk a little bit about it to make people aware.
my bestfriend (Kyle Earl) was killed last night, by another gang member. this is very sad because he was my best bud since i was 5. i remember 2 days ago i told him to leave the gang he was in. and he told me he was going to. and he was supposed to sleep over this weekend.
it makes me very sad i lost my bestfriend/ my brother. this made me realize that their really is bad things going on out there and people should be more aware.
and the thing that makes this all worse. they wouldn't let me see him.
and the worst part of all they havent found his killer.

Intrigued, we dug deeper into Perrym69's posts and uncovered this on a different thread:

03-16-2010, 02:25 AM #1
Perrym69
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 544
im just curious, anyone singers actors or such come from your city?
im gonna name two singers that come from mine
Pat -From stereos
Justin Beiber
anyone from your city

When others began making fun of Justin Bieber, Perry69 responded with this:

Perrym69
Winnipeg lol
and yeah hes a fag, i whent to one of the malls in my city then all i see is all these screaming girls crowding him and he was with 2 big guys lol. me and my buddy were like lets go punch that faggot out, let him have a black eye for his next song.
also the gayer thing, he goes to my school

03-16-2010, 02:43 AM #7
FYI, Justin Bieber does NOT live or go to school in Winnipeg, to the best of our knowledge, (although his father lives here). So that part is bogus. But note this added bit of fancy.

Perrym69

yeah dude and my school is pretty ghetto, i mean yeah we have all those classes and shit but people get punched out, i mean he acts all G at my school. he walks around and everyone acts normal around him although he sounds like a total fag.
Yo dont worry my buddy kyle thinks hes all G to but he will fight so ima get him to start shit then ill youtube that shit lol

Friday, Winnipeg police announced an arrest in connection to the murder of Kyle Earl. Not the shooter, but a friend of Kyle's who was sitting with him on the stairs when the fatal shots were fired.

Police said charges had been laid against Marcus Abe PAYASH, 19 years, for "Attempted Murder while Using a Firearm" and Discharging a firearm "with Intent to Wound, Maim, Disfigure", X2.

The allegation is that Payash was the armed suspect who pursued the car carrying the shooter(s) of Kyle Earl and who fired shots that hit two, unrelated cars a couple of blocks away.

While reporting the arrest, local television stations made reference to the 2008 shooting death of 13-year-old Cody Shuya for which a 17-year-old boy with a very, very, very close relationship to Marcus Payash was jailed.

The story, as it was told at the time, was that the pair had broken into a garage on Home Street where they found a loaded pellet rifle. There was, the papers said, "a brief struggle for control of the gun" which ended when the rifle discharged and pellet went through Cody's eye into his brain. He died the next day. The older boy ran off, but surrendered to police almost a week later.

Hmmm. There's an old saying: dead men tell no tales.

So how did anyone know about the, ahem, "struggle" for the rifle? There was only one witness and he was angling for a plea bargain, which he got.

He pleaded guilty to careless use of a firearm---and the initial charge of criminal negligence causing death was stayed.

The teen was a repeat offender. He was a car thief, on probation at the time of the break-in (gee, where have you heard that before), facing assault charges as well. He had gone out to sell crack cocaine the night he stopped at the garage.

He was denied bail because Provincial Court Judge Patti Umperville found he had convictions and charges dating back to 2005 and an "absolute inability to abide by court orders"

Yet, thanks to the plea bargain, and his version of how Cody got shot, he was eventually sentenced to time served---six months.

Cody, at the time of his death,was being pressured to join a street gang, according to unidentified friends quoted by Winnipeg Free Press reporter James Turner.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Sam Katz, David Asper and....Sarah Palin?

Judy Wasylycia-Leis's first step into civic politics demonstrated that she was either woefully ignorant or an easy dupe. Either way, she showed she's not mayoral timber.

Judy Alphabet (as she's called in news circles) thought she could score some points by criticizing the approval by city council of a contract with the French company Veolia for the design, construction and operation of the South and North End sewage treatment plants.

She must of thought it was a safe position to take, given that the process taken by Veolia proponents (a rushed vote and few details of the contract including who's responsible for cost overruns and how profit is split) was attacked by the Left (the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) and the Right (the Canadian Taxpayers Federation).

What she didn't realize is how she was being played for a sucker by the real opponents of Veolia, and why.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis may be the NDP's stalking horse in the coming mayoral election, but she's been on the outs with the Far Left wing of the party because of her staunch support for Israel in matters of foreign policy.


What she obviously didn't know is that the campaign against Veolia had nothing to do with process and everything to do with the anti-Israel stance of the Far Left --
including the Communist Party, whose leader Darrel Rankin spoke against Veolia at city hall, and city union CUPE, whose Toronto branch has been in the forefront of the Israeli Apartheid propaganda campaign.

Veolia is Corporate Enemy #1 to Israel haters who have launched a global Derail Veolia Campaign.

The reason---Veolia Transport, a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement, is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium, contracted to build a light rail tramway system linking Israeli-held West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The campaign has tried to cripple Veolia's business in France and Ireland, and now Canada.

How the Far Left must have laughed up their sleeves to see their arch-enemy Judy W-L parrot their attack on Veolia without any understanding of the true reason for the opposition to the water treatment contract.


There's even a term for Judy Wasylycia-Leis's performance. Here's the Wikipedia definition:

Useful idiot
In political jargon, the term useful idiot was used to describe Soviet sympathizers in Western countries and the attitude of the Soviet government towards them. The implication was that though the person in question naïvely thought themselves an ally of the Soviets or other Communists, they were actually held in contempt by them, and were being cynically used.
The term is now used more broadly to describe someone who is perceived to be manipulated by a political movement, terrorist group, hostile government, or business, whether or not the group is Communist in nature.
In the United States, the term is used as a pejorative to describe a naive person manipulated to produce propaganda for a malign cause.
*************
Did someone say "light rail"?

Last month city council voted to spend $100,000 on yet another study of the costs of light rail transit. Mayor Sam Katz said he had learned recently that the cost of LRT has dropped significantly and is now competitive with bus rapid transit. Before proceeding with phase two of the BRT from downtown to the University of Manitoba, Katz wants to peg the cost of competing transportation systems, given that LRT is his preferred choice if the price is right.

Gee, do you think the fact that Veolia is in the light rail transit business had anything to do with the, ahem, new information Katz got about price?

****************
Were David Asper's ears burning last weekend?

Asper had a booth at The International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas, 2010 RECon, this past weekend to sell his project The Elms, which he hopes will finance his purchase of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The keynote speaker at the convention was none other than Sarah Palin. She gave a pretty standard stump speech, applauding the role of shopping centres in the life of a city and attacking big government for picking winners and losers in the private sector. (Ouch, that hurt, said David.)

"Right now, so many politicians are addicted to opium, that's spelled O-P-M, which stands for 'Other People's Money.' And with that addiction comes the thinking that the money will always be there, and that you can always take it from somewhere or someone else, and not actually have to produce before you receive." said Palin, pegging Asper's partners in the new stadium deal, the NDP, to a T.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The case to elect judges: Exhibit A

Somebody get the man a crying towel. Then show him the EXIT door.

One of Manitoba's biggest bleeding heart judges was all weepy this week at having to sentence a local idiot to prison.

“I unfortunately have my hands tied,” bleated Judge Brent Stewart before imposing a mandatory minimum four year prison sentence on Jordan Flett.

Boo hoo hoo.

Stewart, you see, is from the hug-a-thug side of the fence. He was the founder of a Christian street ministry in The Pas and he started the Restorative Justice Program at the Peguis and Fairfort Indian reserves; you know, that deal where victims are supposed to give criminals a big hug and forgive them because the criminals said they were sorry.

Stewart couldn't bear putting stupid Jordan Flett behind bars. And for what?

For simply shooting a man down because he was in the way of Flett's original targets, his ex-girlfriend and her new beau.

At the time Flett was 18 and had never been in trouble with the law, to quote Winnipeg Sun reporter Dean Pritchard. So he just decided to skip all the intermediate steps and go from zero to homicide in one easy step.

Flett had been knocking back the beers for hours at a house party when his ex showed up with her new boyfriend, Stewart was told. The big baby was "inconsolable at that point,” said Crown attorney Rustyn Ullrich.

So he did what all these geniuses do in the circumstances. (Stop us if you've heard this a dozen times or more in the past year.) He told everyone he was going to get a gun. The other Einsteins at the party didn't call the police. Flett got a rifle then returned to the party.

We're not told what he had planned for his replacement and his former girlfriend, but when two pals tried to calm him down, he took aim through the gun scope and shot one of them in the upper leg.

Hey Judgie. We have two words for you. Femoral artery.

Luckily the bullet missed this main artery and the victim didn't bleed to death. Instead, Flett got to plead guilty to discharging a firearm with intent to cause bodily harm. And Stewart got to impose the mandatory sentence, but not without first whimpering “In my opinion, this is a perfect example of why minimum sentences shouldn’t be forced on the court without some discretion.”

Stewart is a prime candidate for Remedial Judge School. He needs a refresher on the principle called deterrence.

That is what mandatory sentences are about. They are the voice of the people who are sick and tired of watching criminals play the system. They exist to send the message that judges refuse to send.

Not that Judge Stewart doesn't understand deterrence. Only he's selective about when to apply it.

Last year he accepted a joint recommendation of 18 months house arrest for a man who sexually abused his daughter on a Hutterite colony.

“The concern I have is the message that would be given to the general public and perhaps other colonies,” Stewart said at the time. “I don’t want the message to get out that this type of conduct, ever, is acceptable to our society or theirs.”

But when it comes to near murder at a drinking party...? Eh.

Why is it that judges are always whining about their loss of discretion when having to impose mandatory prison sentences on violent criminals and drug dealers but there's nary a peep over the mandatory sentencing provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act that keep even the worst of young criminals on the street?

Where did Flett get a rifle so easily? Who knows? Apparently Crown attorney Ullrich didn't think that was important enough to tell the court.

Was anyone charged with failure to secure the weapon and ammunition? Or did Flett refuse to "rat" on the gun owner?

Is that a sign of a rehabilitated criminal? Or will four years behind bars refresh his memory.

The gun control debate has flared up again in Parliament and across the country and yet, here, a Manitoba judge does what he can to attack the legislation intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. He also wants Flett out of prison as soon as possible and in the minimum security Rockwood Institution, to undermine further the deterrent effect of the mandatory sentence.

Another two words spring to mind---elected judges.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Greg Selinger's phony-baloney crony democracy

And you wonder why we call Greg Selinger the dirtiest politician in Manitoba?

It's getting so you can't turn over a rock in this province without finding Selinger scurrying away from under it.
The latest scandal is how Selinger's wife got a cushy government job. She was, ahem, "appointed" by Selinger's colleagues in cabinet to be the assistant deputy minister of community planning and development, the little-known but powerful branch of provincial government that controls land development in Winnipeg and other municipalities.

There's a word for hiring your family members --- nepotism.


What's the word that describes hiring your friend's family member?.... Cronyism.

It's not illegal, but it stinks. But by now the stench of scandal is so great around Selinger that nobody can notice the difference.

James B. is one person who wouldn't be the least surprised to find how Selinger's cronies decided to line his family pockets with a six-figure salary for his wife. A known author in Winnipeg, he provided us the details of his own swim in the NDP swamp of cronyism (but without his written permission to use his full name we've decided to stick with James.)

In 2007, James was locking horns with the NDP just about the same time that Selinger was stepping out of the cabinet room to, ahem, avoid any conflict of interest allegations. ("You guys go ahead and decide whether to hire my wife. I'll take a walk and you can tell me when I get back whether you've hired my wife or tossed her application in the trash. I don't want influence the vote on hiring my wife, so while you make the decision whether to hire my wife or not, I'll recuse myself.")

James filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against the NDP and Viewpoints Research Ltd., co-owned by NDP Premier Gary Doer's wife. But he wasn't happy with the way the complaint was handled under the direction of executive director Dianna Scarth whose son, David Todd Scarth, had, according to James, "close connections to the Manitoba New Democratic Party."

He said that because of her son's personal and financial relationship with the NDP, Dianna Scarth should have recused herself from his complaint. James has a highly developed sense of injustice, and he refused to let the matter go.

He complained formally about the Human Rights Commission and the Minister in charge, none other than Crazy Dave Chomiak, who hadn't yet spiralled into lunacy. (That would come two years later as he tried to defend himself from evidence of his involvement with -- guess who? -- Greg Selinger, in the 1999 NDP election fraud and subsequent coverup.)

James filed an access-to-infomation application for government documents, only to have his application land on the desk of Dave Chomiak's crony, deputy minister Jeffrey Schnoor. (Do you see a pattern, yet?)

By now it was December, 2008, and James filed yet another complaint against Chomiak, for political interference by assigning his boy to adjudicate the access-to-information request. He was told the Human Rights Commission would "arrange for my complaints to be investigated by an outside agency."

Who did that turn out to be? "...an individual who just happened to be a personal and professional acquiantance of a number of the respondents."

About that time, James wondered why the NDP was working so hard to sidestep his initial complaint against Viewpoints Research, so he started digging --- and hit paydirt.

While everyone knows by now that former premier Gary Doer's wife is a partner in Viewpoints, not everyone knows that he has a financial interest in the business --- an interest he failed to disclose during his entire term of office as premier when Viewpoints was raking in the contracts from government and government agencies.

James discovered that Virginia (Ginny) Devine used a mortgage on the house she owned with Gary Doer to finance the startup of Viewpoints.

"Gary Doer has never declared his status as a creditor, investor, or financial beneficiary of Viewpoints Research in any of his Declarations of Assets and Interests over the past twenty-three years...." wrote James to Ombudsman Irene Hamilton last October.

Hamilton's response? What? You expect me to do something? Gidatttahere.

What indeed do Manitoban's expect their watchdogs to do? Certainly not this:

* When the Seven Oaks School Division, lead by Supt. and NDP crony Brian O'Leary. engaged in an illegal land development and lost their shirts, the NDP's handpicked Auditor General invented a way to whitewash the deal. She blamed the Public Schools Finance Board for failing to catch the scam before the money was lost.

* When the NDP got caught cheating the public out of $74,000 in phony elections expense rebates, the Chief Electoral Officer helped the NDP cover up the attempted fraud.

* More than five years after the Crocus Investment Fund turned into a Ponzi scheme under the eye of Finance Minister Greg Selinger, and collapsed taking millions in pension savings with it, the Manitoba Securities Commission still hasn't held an investigation on charges laid in 2005.

* 17 months after receiving a complaint under the vaunted Whistleblower Protection Act about mismanagement at Manitoba Hydro, the Ombudsman has done exactly nothing to investigate the charges other than sit by complacently and watch Hydro do everything in their power to identify and vilify the complainant in breach of the provisions of the law protecting complainants from retaliation.

* The latest example of cronyism involves, who else, unelected Premier Greg Selinger.

On May 5, Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen asked Selinger

" In his drive to fast track the stadium project so that he's got a place to launch his campaign in the fall of 2011, why is it that he didn't follow the law, Madam Deputy Speaker, which in Manitoba says, and I quote: Whenever possible competitive offers are to be obtained through the use of public tenders or similar means? That's what the legislation says. Why is he sidestepping the law?"

Selinger ducked the question again, then again, then again each time it was repeated. He said the new football stadium is being built by Dominion Construction which will tender 98 percent of the work to subcontractors.

The legislation McFadyen referenced is the Government Purchases Act which states, clearly,
(b) whenever possible, competitive offers are to be obtained through the use of public tenders or similar means;. (c) every request for tenders must set out ...

It doesn't say the law can be sidestepped by the Premier at his discretion. It makes no mention of subcontractors fulfilling the need for tenders.

The stadium is being built by the province. After it is built, the province will try to recoup some of the cost from the University of Manitoba and David Asper. The province is bound by the law as written.

The law doesn't say it can be ignored by the Premier at his discretion. There is nothing about the construction of the stadium that makes it impossible to obtain tenders. In short, the law must be obeyed.
When Greg Selinger gave the contract without tender he broke the law.

He broke the law to benefit a crony.

He thinks its a joke.

He thinks he's untouchable just as Gary Doer was untouchable.
Is he right?

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

War in Afghanistan 2010, Week 18

After too many months on hiatus from The Black Rod's weekly War in Afghanistan feature, we were still playing catch-up last week, but already we were shocked and dismayed by what we found.

The only sign of a real war is the drone war in Pakistan.

Unmanned U.S. aircraft delivered a rain of missiles Tuesday on insurgents in North Waziristan, a section of Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The single attack saw 18 missiles launched on a car or truck and into tents containing armed men. At least 14 insurgents were killed. It was the second strike in 3 days.

More than 30 drone attacks have been recorded this year, almost all in North Waziristan, the stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The intense air attacks have killed many of the Taliban leadership and cast a pall of terror over the insugents.

They have stopped using cell phones, because they fear their location can be pinpointed, which has disrupted communication between members who have to use messengers to keep in touch. They travel only by night for fear of being blown up on the road. And they've been forced to move frequently, living in tents and gathering in small numbers to keep casulties down in the event of a drone attack.

The knowledge that informants are everywhere providing tips for the drone attacks has made the Taliban leadership paranoid, not to mention the almost constant sight and sound of airborne drones overhead. One witness to Tuesday's attack told reporters that six drones had been seen before the missile strikes, and at least four were still hovering over the area.

In Afghanistan, its the exact opposite picture. Generals have been turned into social workers and soldiers into recreation councillors. Allied commanders have kneecapped their own forces by choking off airstrikes, emboldening Taliban fighters who used to break off engagments when the jets arrived, but who now know the limits on Allied airpower has removed it from the combat equation.

Air traffic controllers have heard intercepted radio messages from enemy leaders ordering their fighters to “Keep fighting; they won’t shoot”. A-10 aircraft, built for close-air support with heavy armour and a nose-mounted 30mm, seven-barrel Gatling gun, are being used on surveillance and reconnaissance sorties instead.

The new aversion to violence is so great that NATO is contemplating a new medal for soldiers who DON'T kill on the battlefield. Honest....we're not making this up.

“The idea is being reviewed at Headquarters [International Security Force Afghanistan],” said Lt. Col. Edward Sholtis, the spokesman for NATO Commander General Stanley McChrystal. “The idea is consistent with our approach. Our young men and women display remarkable courage every day, including situations where they refrain from using lethal force, even at risk to themselves, in order to prevent possible harm to civilians. ... That restraint is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those seen in combat actions.”

And it keeps getting more stomach-turning.

Even if we don't want to kill the enemy, do we have to make it easier for them to kill our soldiers?

In boning up what we missed, we came across a story in the Globe and Mail from January 29, 2010, headlined "Canada's new battle plan; Push beyond the city to 'break the back' of the Taliban."
Reporter Sonia Verma wrote:

"Brigadier-General Daniel Menard, the country's top commander in Afghanistan, is poised to launch a new offensive ahead of this spring's fighting season that will see Canadian and American combat troops under his command push out from platoon houses around Kandahar city to "break the back" of the Taliban in the surrounding countryside."

"Brig-Gen. Menard warned the renewed fight in Kandahar province would be bloody, with the death toll of NATO forces likely to spuike as they seek to extend their reach before the situation improves."
...
"...this is where I'm going to fight the insurgency, Brig.-Gen. Menard said, tracing his battle plan on a map marked "May 10" during a wide-ranging interview in his office on Kandahar Airfield..."

What? The general was not only showing a reporter a map of a planned offensive, but revealing the exact date it will start?

Last weekend, the Taliban announced a new offensive against U.S.and NATO troops using IEDs, blockades, assassinations, abductions and suicide bombers. The start date: May 10. Coincidence?

Meanwhile, allied forces are thumping the war drums for what is being billed as the biggest military offensive of the war in Afghanistan----next to the last biggest, Operation Moshtarak, a couple of months ago in Helmand province. In that one about 15,000 troops stormed the insurgent-held town of Marjah and the district of Nad Ali, if you call giving the enemy a couple of months warning that you're coming "storming" the town.

The "kinder, gentler" war being waged in Afghanistan courtesy of Barack Obama hates even violent language. The mililtary doesn't even like to use words like "operation" or "military offensive" when describing the coming....uh....thing.

"We would like to call it a 'process' that is encompassing military and non-military instruments," Brigadier General Josef Blotz, the spokesman for NATO forces, told reporters this week. Take that you Taliban killers!

The "process" will essentially consist of about 23,000 ground troops, including 8,500 Americans and 12,000 Afghan soldiers and police. The emphasis will be on avoiding urban warfare. The soldiers will stay out of Kandahar city while the police and Afghan forces set up roadblocks and security checkpoints.

Hmmm. Do you think the advance warning will give the Taliban time to prepare exactly what the allies want to avoid?

"...the Taliban may try to undermine them by provoking the pitched battle that NATO wants to avoid in the city. Fighters are said to be storing weapons around Kandahar, including in market stalls, wrote one British correspondent this week. Ya think?
To quote one internet commenter:

Guy Guy wrote:
So along with the horiffic Rules of Engagement that our military is saddled with we give the enemy the battle plan. Unfrigginbelivable. Our military policy is brought to you by the same crowd that outlawed dodgeball on the playground because it hurt someone's feelings.

Hear. Hear.

It is to weep.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Judy Wasylycia-Leis and the vision thing

Yikes. Did you see that?

The kickoff to Judy Whatsername's mayoral campaign had more pratfalls than a convention of clowns.

- Councillor Bill Clement stole her thunder and knocked her off the front page by dying the night before her big day.

- She declared she wanted to bring transparency to City Hall. And to prove it she dyed her hair to disguise her age (58). Did you see the newspaper pictures? It looks like she's wearing a bad toupee.

At least she stood out in the crowd, which, like a Jets game, was a sea of white---hair, that is.

Judy said she wants to engage youth, but somebody needed to ask her to be more specific how she defined youth.

- She thought it was a good idea to be endorsed by a former mayor --- Bill Norrie, who is 81.

Yikes. He looked like an extra in a zombie movie, except that zombies have more vitality. Norrie was Yesterday's Man to Yesterday's Man.

He was mayor before cell phones, before computers, before plasma TV's.

He's from an era when the future of Winnipeg was a mall downtown.

Good plan getting his endorsement, Judy. It shows you're in touch with downtown redevelopment.

- To show she's not just an NDP hack but that she transcends political parties, Judy Whatever introduced her campaign co-chair, Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs. Yikes.

Carstairs was born during the war---World War Two.
She's old enough to be getting her old-age pension. Not that there's anything wrong with that; we need the wisdom that comes with age. But using a pensioner to entice youth to politics?

What's that? Reverse psychology?

Carstairs said that getting Judy Wasylycia-Leis elected mayor was her priority, right next to her first priority---the planet ... Does the word flaky mean anything to you?
And isn't there work to do in Ottawa? At least that's what the LIberals insisted when Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. Remember how they wailed that the country's work wasn't getting done? Apparently, they caught up and its all done now, giving Sharon Carstairs the time to save the planet and elect Judy Doubleyou-ell at the same time.

- Judy Alphabet has a campaign slogan that calls for a 'safer' Winnipeg. Bwahahahaha. Sooner or later, someone in the mainstream media is going to ask her about her years working against the safety interests of Winnipeggers while an NDP member in Ottawa.

She was a member of the NDP caucus which bragged that they kept deterrence and denunciation out of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, tying the hands of judges and keeping young car thiefs on the streets instead of locked up.

The mainstream reporters have been protecting Judy's colleague Bill Blaikie, who's now a Manitoba MLA, by pretending he had nothing to do with fuelling the car theft epidemic that's ravaged Winnipeg. Can they continue running interference for her during for the next five months until the civic election? Not if we have anything to do with it.

- The first day's stories have consistently pointed out that Judy W. did a lot of deflecting when asked about her "vision" for the city.

She "did express concern about increased fees for skating and swimming lessons and the addition of parking meters on Selkirk Avenue," wrote the Winnipeg Sun.

Why does that sound familiar?... Oh yeah. Because it sounds like something Natalie Pollock would say. Pollock, who ran for mayor twice, also thought a mayor's job was to micro-manage city services.

- We do know what Judy is against---business influence at City Hall.

Yes, the woman who has never had a real job in her life, never mind running a business that hires people for real jobs, thinks commerce is overrated.

City Hall, she said, doesn't listen enough to community groups, charities, social advocacy organizations, the disabled, and environmentalists.

Or, in other words, forget the people who pay taxes, and listen to the people who want to reach into your wallet and spend your money.

On her first day as a candidate, Wasylycia-Leis didn't want to discuss things that voters want to hear, like her proposals for property taxes.

How do you sugarcoat "I'm going to raise your taxes and give the money to my left-wing social worker, social engineer friends?"

Yikes, transparency be damned.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Race-based attempted murder of storekeeper by children was no mere robbery

Hello? Anyone there?

For the second time in a week, the self-proclaimed champions of human rights are conspicuous by their absence.

The fact that two depraved children tried to murder a storekeeper in cold blood is bad enough. The official silence to the charge that the attack was a hate crime is inexcusable.

Fifty-year-old Jesmen Syeda barely fought off two knife-wielding children in her convenience store on Keewatin Street Sunday night. One stabbed her in the neck with a steak knife, the younger slashed at her and stabbed her in the hand with a smaller-bladed weapon.

They had no motive other than to kill her; they were regular customers, they knew they would be caught, unless they intended to remove the only witness to their crime.

"They didn't come for robbery. They just wanted to kill her," said her husband Rick Alam.

"I think it's a hate crime," he told CBC reporter Gosia Sawicka.

To her credit, she checked with police--- who gave her the official brushoff. There's "no evidence", they told her. Given that Alam told the CBC he had been the target of repeated racist actions, that's hard to believe.

Harder still when you realize they made the claim within less than 24 hours of the attack, hardly enough time to investigate the attempted murder, nevermind the racial hate aspect.

What they must have meant, of course, is that there's no evidence against anybody white.

Alam and Syeda are not white. Their surnames suggest East Indian or Pakistani origin.

Syeda's attackers were identified only as 14 and 10 years of age. But a posting on the Internet identifies the pair as native Indians from Gilbert Park.

Is that why the usual suspects are, once again, missing in inaction?

A year ago on New Years Eve, when members of a community caught a car thief red-handed and delivered a well-deserved thumping, the salivating human rights mob, aided and abetted by the mainstream media, screamed "hate crime" and demanded police lay charges. The thief was aboriginal in appearance and the citizens were not.

But when the suspects are non-white, the mob and the media are silent.

Last week the victim of a car jacking told a television reporter that the aboriginal thieves warned him to 'stay out of the North End white boy.'

Nobody stood up to condemn the racial threat. Nobody demanded the police hate crimes unit pair up with the robbery unit. Dead silence was the theme of the race baiters.

Now that there's a second incident of allegations of racial hatred involving the aboriginal community, let's see who stands to be counted. Who will insist there be no double standard.

In fact, the so-called "native leaders" should be the first to demand an investigation of their own, to show they do not play politics with claims of hate crimes, that they are not damaging peoples' lives with spurious claims to further their political agendas, but that they are serious about protecting the rights of all races.

We'll hold our breaths.

Monday, May 03, 2010

War in Afghanistan 2010, Week 17

It's been quite a while since our last War in Afghanistan report so we've got a lot of catching up to do before we can get back into the rhythm of our weekly reviews of events.

So let's start with the broad strokes.

1. Victory in Iraq.

Even the most ardent defeatists now admit it. We won. We, as in the West, but particularly the United States and its allies in the Coalition.

Al Qaeda was sent packing. Their terror tactics failed. A new Iraq is climbing out of the rubble left behind by Saddam Hussein and the Islamic terrorists who saw in his defeat an opportunity to confront and humiliate the United States. Instead, it was they who were humiliated by being forced to run for their lives, run back to Afghanistan whence they came.

It's important to collect the names of those who wanted to quit in the darkest days, who wanted to surrender to the terrorists, who wanted to give up the fight for freedom and democracy once the fight got hard. We need to know whose judgement is bad, whose opinion not to respect because of their track record of failure.

We'll start with someone we flagged one year ago---
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2009/03/war-in-afghanistan-2009-week-13.html

War in Afghanistan 2009 Week 13
"This war is lost."
It was April, 2007, almost exactly two years ago. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking for the Democratic Party, declared the Muslim terrorists had won the war in Iraq.
"I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and - you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows - (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything...," said Reid.
2, There's been another successful election in Afghanistan.

The Taliban did their best to derail the election and the Americans did their best to defeat incumbent President Hamid Karzai (What do we know about Afghani politics? We're depending on the analysis of Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar, a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, writing in Asia Times Online http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KI01Df02.html)

You can tell this was a real contested election because one presidential candidate, Ashraf Ghani-- Afghanistan's finance minister and, according to pundit Bhadrakumar, America's favorite -- even hired U.S. political consultant James Carville to help his campaign.

Ghani came in third, there was going to be a run-off election until the second place contender dropped out and Karzai was declared winner, again. The election was followed by a barrage of complaints about fraud. (We did say Democrat adviser James Carville was involved in the election, didn't we.) But...so what? There was an election. If somebody thought it was important enough to fix some ballots, that's a sign of progress. It shows that the seed of democracy has been planted and has taken root.

Elections are now part of the Afghan landscape, replacing the guns of warlords. That part of our mission has been successful.

If legitimate elections were the bottom line for legitimacy in backward, third-world countries, then we would have to expel three-quarters of the U.N. Let's give Afghanistan points for trying.

3. The United States has taken over the major fighting, with the British as their right hand and Canadians right behind.
No more nonsense about a multi-national NATO mission. U.S. troops are flooding into Afghanistan and by August there will be 30,000 more than last year. They've taken over the mission in Kandahar, where the Canadians are stationed, and there's no hiding the fact that now the war is on in earnest.

With Al Qaeda retreating to their hideouts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they've brought their war home and the U.S.has stepped up to take them on again. The ferocity of a real war is showing in the death toll.

- In 2009, 318 U.S. service members died in Afghanistan, more than double the 155 in 2008.

- 2009 was the bloodiest year yet for international troops. 519 were killed, a 75 per cent increase over the previous year.

- Britain, with 264 dead, had the second highest death toll, while Canada had the highest in proportion to the size of its force; 29 Canadians died in combat-related incidents, one committed suicide and two died in an air accident.

We must have blinked and missed it because it's May already and nobody is talking about the "feared Taliban spring offensive." Remember how the mainsteam press would salivate every year at the latest prediction of Taliban victory over U.S. and NATO forces? This year---nothing.

4. And here's probably why. Pakistan has engaged the Taliban at last.

For the better part of the decade, Pakistan refused to fight Taliban insurgents who fled Afghanistan every winter to rest and rebuild their strength for the next spring offensive. Then along came Baitullah Mehsud, the fresh young leader of the Pakistani Taliban who decided that the government was weak enough to overthrow and replace with a fundamentalist Islamic regime. He launched a campaign of terror against the government including a wave of suicide bombings of cities that killed hundreds of Pakistanis. Finally, the government said "enough." They launched military excursions into the lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan last year, devastating the Pakistani Taliban strongholds.

And one day, a U.S.drone zeroed in on Baitullah Mehsud and blew him to pieces. His successor Hakimullah Mehsud tried to pick up the pieces (of the insurgency, not Baitullah) and was, himself, blown up by a drone earlier this year. He apparently survived, but the worse for wear.

5. The drone war has Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders stymied and scurrying about in constant fear of sudden death from the skies. The terrorists in terror. What irony.

Over the past five years, Predator and Reaper drones that are operated by the CIA have killed at least 15 senior Al Qaeda commanders, plus top Pakistani Taliban leaders and more than 500 fighters.

The Long War Journal, a website that uses news reports and security sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, estimates that more than 1,100 insurgents were killed last year in drone attacks while civilian deahts were 43.

Pakistani Taliban leaders have demanded an end to the drone overflights and Pakistani politicians complain the drones are unacceptable intrusions into national airspace.

But a survey of 550 tribal area residents last year conducted by an independent think tank based in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, found that while people would prefer their own government would drive the insurgents out, they accept the drone attacks, even when innocent people are killed accidentally.

The Los Angeles Times carried a report on drone attacks Sunday. (U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan get mixed response, May 2, 2010, Los Angeles Times.)
"Many of them told us they would like these bastards to be killed, but would like the Pakistani state to do it,'' said Khadim Hussain, coordinator at the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy. "They say they're unable to dance their traditional dances, or assemble without the permission of the local militant commander. These things trespass on their honor code, their lifestyle and their culture."
58% said drone attacks did not foster anti-American sentiment. Fifty-two percent said the strikes were accurate, and 60% said they damaged insurgent groups. Farhat Taj, an anthropologist who grew up in the area, said residents of some tribal areas aren't concerned about drones violating Pakistani sovereignty because Pakistan doesn't exercise control there, anyway.
In some tribal areas that have not been targeted, such as the Malakand district of the North-West Frontier Province, residents have requested drone attacks against local militants, said Samina Ahmed, project director for the International Crisis Group in Islamabad.
Some analysts say that not all civilians are equally mourned. The strike that killed Taliban leader Mahsud, for instance, also killed his wife and her parents. Family members perceived as helping militants are not much mourned, particularly if they are Arabs or other outsiders, some researchers say.
5. Canada has found the limit to its military commitment

We spent 30 years doing "peace-keeping" on Cyprus. But three years in a real war is long enough.

- We don't have enough soldiers. We can't keep rotating the same bunch in and out forever.

- The equipment is breaking down from constant use in a hellish environment. There's a limit to how long you can mistreat even mechanical objects.

- There's a limit to how much money this country can devote to a mission that seems to have no end, or an end so far down the pike it may as well be forever. And the public's support is getting tested and testy. It's one thing to win or lose in a battle or a series of battles, and another to see soldiers die in roadside bombings without any apparent goal to measure achievement by.

- Canada lived up to its reputation as the Cinderella army. Thrown into the cauldron, the very heart of Taliban country, the enemy saw Canada in 2006 as the weak link of the NATO mission. We were "peacekeepers" with no fighting experience for 50 years, ever since Korea (our Yugoslavia combat was kept secret by the Liberal government for reasons of their own). We had no helicopters, no tanks, no UAVs (again thanks to the Liberals Party). The Taliban saw Canada ripe for the plucking.

But Canada's soldiers refused to fail. They fought--- and won. They forced the Taliban to retreat, saving Kandahar City--- and the NATO mission.

But three years later, it was enough. We were tired, and happy to see the Americans come in last year and take a load off. We're still there, and will be for at least another year and a half, but at a speed we can handle.

Same, for us at The Black Rod. Boys and girls, we're back

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