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Showing posts from 2006

Newsmaker of the Year and more

With the curtain about to drop on 2006, it's time for the annual announcement of our Newsmaker of the Year. The title this year goes to Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz . Not only was he re-elected Mayor with a larger vote total than the first time, but he crossed the finish line with four councillors hanging onto his coat tails. And he did it in face of an unrelenting two-year campaign of smear and sneer by the Winnipeg Free Press. It got so bad that the newspaper's own editor, Bob Cox, had to write an apology disguised as a correction for the misquotes, erroneous headlines and editorial slants slipped into news stories during the election campaign. The gesture still didn't get Katz to buy a single election ad in the newspaper. His eventual victory underlined how irrelevant the FP has become. While his predecessor, the preening Glen Murray, threw out a thousand "visionary" ideas and never stuck around to accomplish even one (not counting street parties), Katz does his wo

Afghanistan Operation Falcon's Summit: The magic bullet? Or will we pay the price for being nice?

Taliban Driver: " Shhh. Did you hear that?" Passenger: "Is that.....?" BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!! As near as we can tell, that's an exact transcript of the last moment in the life of Taliban high mucky-muck Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani who was blown to itsy bitsy pieces by a NATO plane last week. It took forensic experts a week to positively (yes, we split the infinitive) identify the tiny bits of Osmani and the other three men in the car. Associated Press initially quoted their Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, as denying Osmani had been killed. But this week Reuters got confirmation from their (unnamed) Taliban source. "He has died. We got this information on the day of the strike but our leadership ordered us not to disclose it," the commander, speaking by telephone, told a Reuters reporter in the Pakistani border town of Chaman. "He was not only an experienced military commander but also good in making financial transactions for us. He h

Getting good news at Christmastime, the 21st Century way

This weekend The Black Rod got a terrific Christmas present. It was an e-mail telling us of the latest news about Mohammed Niaz, an interpreter with the Canadian forces in Afghanistan who we had written about six months ago. At that time, life looked grim for the young man. He had been horribly wounded in an ambush on Canadian troops. He was in the hospital at the Kandahar air base where both his legs had been amputed below the knee. He was depressed and feeling abandoned as he watched others who had been wounded in combat flown to Germany and Canada for treatment. He was begging Canada for help. Our e-mailer brought us up to date. Niaz is out of hospital and back working as an interpreter with Canadian forces. His home has been rebuilt by Canadian troops to make it wheelchair friendly. And he was standing on his new prosthetic legs when he received a medal from Commander CEFCOM, (Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command) Lieutenant-General J.C.M. Gauthier as his proud father looked on.

A year (almost) in Afghanistan: Tanks for the memories

The national news media had finally found something good to say about Canada's military mission in Afghanistan. If they squinted hard, they could see the soldiers in a role the Press could accept. Nay, a role they could embrace and endorse. That role? Victims. The sympathetic stories poured out. Canada was being abandoned by its NATO allies. Canada was doing all the fighting and dying and needed help. We were pleading. We were desperate. How sad. How beautiful. There was Canada on its knees at the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, begging for countries like France and Germany to lift the caveats that kept their troops out of the battle zones of Afghanistan. Oh woe is us. Canadian forces are doomed. Doomed. The reporters couldn't get worked up enough. And then the military just had to spoil it all. The new Leopard tanks had arrived in Afghanistan and Canadian troops were joyfully testing them out, playing with their new toys and looking for all the world like warriors. Not victims. I

Is this what the police are hiding?

It's been more than a week since three Winnipeg police officers were shot during a drug raid on Jubilee Avenue, and the dust has settled enough to give us a glimpse of what's behind the headlines. One thing is abundantly clear--- the raid went spectacularly bad. Only one month earlier we saw how a raid gone right was presented to the public. Drug / Weapon Arrest On November 7th, 2006 at 11:45 p.m., members of the Winnipeg Police Service Street Crime Unit executed a Controlled Drug and Substances Act warrant at a residence in the 500 block of Alverstone Street. As a result, the following was seized: --more than 32 ounces of powder Cocaine with a street value of nearly $37,000.00; --a quantity of marihuana --drug manufacturing paraphernalia --a gun and a quantity of ammunition During the execution of the warrant one of the residents' Cane Corso dogs lunged at officers resulting in an officer discharging his weapon. The dog was struck in the leg and sustained non-life threaten

A Free Press apology: Admit his column was made up, just don't say who wrote it

For a newspaper that claims to be wedded to the public's right to know, the Winnipeg Free Press is awfully coy about a little, ahem, scandal within its own pages. In what's becoming a regular feature, editor Bob Cox wrote an "editor's note" for the paper Tuesday telling readers that yet another story in the Free Press was phoney. Bogus, Made-up, Untrue. A cynic might say that Cox's little note, complete with apologies to all, was strategically tucked away on Page Two to attract as few readers as possible. Those who did spot the piece were rewarded with the barest details---- and no names. Note from the editor: Tue Dec 12 2006 A Dec. 9 column on the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission contained an inaccurate account of an incident at a liquor store. The column began with an anecdote about a writer being asked for identification at a liquor commission outlet. The commission has provided the Free Press with taped evidence and witness statements showing that an i

The Story behind the story: Gena Rowlands;Jesse James; a poker champ; and Ragtime, the Irish in America

It's almost enough to make a skeptic recant. And if he did, he might have to say that, maybe, the man-who-says-he-can-talk-to-the-dead has more clout than we've given him credit for. While the rest of us cursed the cold on Wednesday, the director of the made-for-TV movie What If God Were The Sun, currently shooting in Winnipeg, said it had been just perfect, more perfect than he could have ever hoped for. His movie is based on a book written by John Edwards, a psychic who says he can pass messages from beyond the grave. The director has always had a healthy skepticism to Edward's claims. But he may be softening a bit after Wednesday. The shoot is more than halfway through its 19-day schedule so time is of the essence. Wednesday they hoped to shoot two scenes, one calling for a gloomy, cloudy sky and the other---wouldn't you know it--- for bright sunshine. Scene one went off without a hitch with the sky over Winnipeg heavy with lowhanging clouds. As they moved to t