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Showing posts from July, 2007

Dying on the NDP's altar of political correctness

When 58-year-old James Duane was run down and killed by a car thief he became the latest blood sacrifice to the NDP's gods of Political Correctness. Do you think that's too extreme? Then keep reading. This week the Winnipeg Free Press broke the taboo on the governing principle of the NDP's social policy. They spoke the unspeakable: that native-run Child and Family services put children at risk because their chief policy is politically correct family reunification and NOT the safety of their wards. That overarching philosophy has meant that children seized from their parents are put in the care of often unqualified staff and into the homes of often unqualified fostering relatives. And the NDP has turned a blind eye. The Free Press and other mainstream media outlets in the city are still refusing to report that a similar race-based philosophy rules the NDP's auto theft policy. Everyone knows by now that the vast majority of car thefts are done by about 150 chronic rep

The War in Afghanistan 2007: The Defining Battles

The battle of Panjwai was the defining battle in Afghanistan in 2006. NATO was taking over security and reconstruction missions from the U.S. and the Taliban saw this as a heaven-sent opportunity. As luck would have it, the Canadians would be the lead country in Kandahar province, the virtual heart of Taliban country. The insurgents couldn't believe their luck. They expected to impose heavy casualties on the under-rated Canadians, breaking their will to fight and forcing them to abandon the NATO mission. This would cause a split in NATO and the eventual withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan. Instead, the Canadians stood their ground, took the fight to the insurgents and drove them out of the Panjwai district in a humiliating public retreat. The victory, which still hasn't been given the recognition it deserves in Canada, destroyed any illusions the Taliban might have had that they could defeat NATO in open battle for territory. The defining battle in 2007 is bein

The War in Afghanistan 2007: Assessing the first six months part 2

The sands are shifting so rapidly in Afghanistan we can hardly keep up. We've had to combine the latest developments into our six-month overview of 2007. Afghanistan is abuzz at a report on a private TV channel that rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has declared a ceasefire. A statement, purportedly signed by Hekmatyar, was read out on TV and circulated in Kabul. We've found versions of the statement quoted in news stories, but the most thorough was in a story from Agence France Press ""Hezb-e-Islami members have refrained from killing brothers (fellow Afghans) and the destruction of the country and have resumed political activities," the statement read. The group "has come to the conclusion that with fighting one can neither build a government nor a country. We have experienced this in the past 20 years of war," it said. However, it called on the "Americans and British" -- a reference to a 37-member NATO force and separate US-led coalition --

Lazy Free Press reporting delivers predictable "solutions" for Magnus morass

The Winnipeg Free Press discovered Magnus Avenue this week, and there wasn't even a millionaire to be found. After a relatively good story by James Turner on Saturday about the problems plaguing Magnus, the city beat heavyweights-- Bartley Kives and Mary Agnes Welch joined by Carol Sanders---combined to offer solutions. Here's one. You guessed it---the perennial favourite. "Tackle Poverty Head-on" Mary Agnes Welch went to the biggest enabler in the city, Wayne Helgason, director of the Social Planning Council for his opinion. More government intervention in everything, he said. The words 'personal responsibility' never crossed his lips. Those words are like garlic to vampires to people in the poverty industry. In New Zealand there are virtually no beggars and no homelessness, said Helgason. Uh, Wayne, the problem on Magnus Avenue isn't homeless people, it's the creepy people in the problem homes . " Don't Tolerate Derelict Houses " was a

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. What is it with usually rational people who refuse to see the obvious? Mayor Sam Katz had hardly finished announcing a beefed-up police presence in the William Whyte district when the usual knee-jerk pundits were elbowing each other out of the way in their rush to pronounce the initiative a foregone failure. "This is smoke and mirrors, folks," sniffed the leader of the pack, Lindor Reynolds, Winnipeg Free Press columnist. "a band-aid to a wounded North End neighbourhood", derided her colleague, Mike McIntyre. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Operation Clean Sweep, the precursor of Sam Katz's cut-rate North End Initiative aka Operation Light Dusting, was a huge success, the only successful crime-fighting program that anyone can name that did what citizens wanted done. Community and business spokesmen were unanimous in praising Clean Sweep for making their community visibly safer following its October, 2005 launch. The 2005 annual report of the Winnipeg P

Andy, we hardly knew ye

Even though he dominated every photo-op this side of Michaelle Jean, the mystery that was Free Press publisher Andy Ritchie will remain a mystery. That is because he no longer remains as publisher, which is no mystery. In a thunderclap of a memo from Chairman Ron Stern, WFP newsers were told late Tuesday that Andrew Ritchie had taken the high jump, er, would be "pursuing other interests". Editor Bob Cox, the broadsheet's Robin to Andy's Batman, will fill-in as publisher until the third publisher in three years is hired. FP staff was told that management "will also continue to implement improvements based on the employee surveys that you filled out earlier this year." Left unsaid was that the main improvement sought by the demoralized rank and file was the removal of Mr. Andrew Ritchie from the masthead. Even worse for Ritchie was his own standing with Free Press managers, whose survey skewered his leadership and vision and drove him to pledge allegiance to t

The NDP shellgame to get re-elected

With every passing week, another layer of the onion is peeled away and we see how the NDP conned its way into reelection. This week it was the revelation from the citizens of Magnus Avenue that the NDP's Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is next to useless for anything other than an election prop for Justice Minister Dave "Six Months" Chomiak. Before that, it was the concession by MPI that the NDP's auto theft laws have been a complete failure and the only solution MPI has left is to blame car owners for lettting thieves steal their cars. So they are making immobilizers mandatory. Premier Gary Doer said in a debate in May that he "would consider" the idea -- but the next time mandatory immobilizers was ever mentioned by anybody connected to the government, was on the last day of June when it was already fait accompli, weeks after the House had adjourned. Gary Doer never mentioned forcing immobilizers on the public either during the election campaign, o

Mayor Sam Katz gets the message

Winnipeg street gangs sent a message to Mayor Sam Katz last night. Message to the Mayor: "You're A Punk!" Police had barely left the scene on Magnus Avenue where a man was shot to death outside a known crack house, when another man was gunned down in a drive-by shooting--one short block away. It couldn't have been more brazen. Without the slightest concern for an increased police presence in the area, the gunmen shot the man in broad daylight within sight of the police tape at the earlier murder scene. It's funny what a public bitchslapping can do. This afternoon the Mayor shook off his torpor and announced a "no tolerance" policy on crime and disorder in the Magnus area. Qu'elle surprise. "Mini-Rudy" Sam Katz has been studiously ignoring the mayhem on Magnus Avenue. Three murders along a four-block stretch of one street weren't enough to catch his attention. Neither did the year-long wave of arsons and drive-by shootings and firebom

The War in Afghanistan 2007: Assessing the first six months

Our apologies. A bout of illness interrupted our weekly coverage of Afghanistan early in June. Before resuming our weekly coverage, we'll use this hiatus as an opportunity for a mid-year reality check on how the mission in Afghanistan has fared over the first six months of 2007. On Wednesday, July 4, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, said in Rome that the Taliban's "summer offensive" got underway in June after local fighters were given a couple of weeks off to harvest opium crops. We'll take that as official word that the Feared Taliban Spring Offensive is over. We can now take stock on how that well-advertised spring offensive worked out. We can start by looking at what the Taliban planned to achieve. Since September, 2006, the Pakistan-based leadership of the Taliban was saying that 2007 was going to be the decisive year in their plan to retake Afghanistan. "The spring of 2007 is predicted to become the turning point of the war," wr

Free Press love affair with Health Minister blinds newsroom to reality of two-tier medicine

Everyone knows the Manitoba health care system is in shambles, but like gawkers at a car crash, we can't turn away from the latest stories about doctors and hospitals and the most recent government band-aid solution. Not that it's easy going. Medical stories are written so obtusely that it's like deciphering hieroglyphics. And the tidbits of information we do manage to glean lead invariably to more disappointment. On Saturday, the Winnipeg Free Press managed, purely inadvertently, to reveal more about the health care system than the government and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority want you to know. The newspaper ran two stories which, together, tell one tale---a tale of two solitudes, a.k.a. -- the Manitoba health care system.Story number one, by reporter Jen Skerritt, was headlined " Project aims to allow better care for patients ". It was a rewrite of a government news release about a pilot project to spend $2 million on four private clinics--- in Winnipeg,