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Showing posts from May, 2008

In the mind of a teenage killer

He's 16 and charged with murder. It's the best day of his life. To a normal person, being charged with murder would be devastating. For him, it's the pinnacle of his world . Especially since, as you'll see, he stands every chance of beating the rap. He'll be coming back to his 'hood with unparallelled street cred. He will be a prince of the city. That's the way it is in the thug life culture. Our sixteen-year-old, charged with killing a man by bashing his head with a baseball bat on Euclid Avenue just off Main Street, is just the latest to graduate from bluster to bloodshed. And you can bet he won't be the last. Like his contemporaries, he's got a page on Bebo, the internet social networking site. It's illustrated with a panoramic night photo of Winnipeg, (note to Destination Winnipeg - it highlights the new Provencher bridge). Floating over top are the words MURDA CAP , the street gang boast of Winnipeg as the murder capital o

War in Afghanistan 2008 Weeks 20 and 21

It's been a bloody two weeks in Afghanistan but its set the parameters for what to expect for the rest of the year. We've said that a good way to measure the effectiveness of what we're doing in Afghanistan is to listen to the enemy. In the past couple of weeks we've come across two interviews with Taliban commanders who revealed more than they intended. One appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel's online edition, and the other in Pakistan's Asia Times Online. Taken together and compared with the fighting on the ground they tell a story of defeat and despair: * The Taliban have abandoned all hope--and pretence--of a military victory against NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. They're concentrating their efforts on killing police. * Their only hope is for propaganda victories which they need to justify to their followers the deaths of almost 8000 fighters in the past two years. * They've been reduced to reliance on their best weapon---suicide bomber

Spring Cleaning 2008

On every street, in every yard, it's the same thing---spring cleaning. The Black Rod is no exception. It's time to clear our desks of some of the accumulated stories, tips, ideas and downright juicy rumours that we haven't had time to get around to. ************************ Best definition of Negativapeg. Journalists who don't regularly scan the various blogs and internet forums for story ideas are in the wrong business in the wrong century. You may have to pan a lot of sand to find a gold nugget, but it's well worth the effort for every good, aggressive reporter. Recently we came across this comment on's Winnipeg City Transit/Rapid Transit thread (Page 40 to be exact) which excellently summarizes the Winnipeg attitude: "furiousmcd Oppressive optimism Join Date: May 2007 Location: Winnipeg Posts: 41 Hey folks, I haven't commented on this board in a long while but I have definitely been thinking a lot about Winnipeg politics and transi

A museum for human rights that supports the denial of human rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights' publicity machine was humming along on all cyclinders this week. The newspaper reported that Gail Asper, head fundraiser, had collected another $1.5 million towards the museum. It failed to mention that, as revealed in The Black Rod , she needs to raise $1.5 million a month just to cover the rising cost of construction. It's great to be rich. Millionaire moocher Gail Asper shamelessly revealed she has a whole army of mini-moochers, dedicated to "following up on the asks and crystallizing (donations)." Translation: She's hit up everyone she can think of, and her volunteers have the job of begging them to cough up some moolah . The panhandlers on Graham should be so lucky; they have to do all the work themselves. The choreographed news reports also failed to mention that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be the only publicly funded facility

Pat Martin and Anita Neville, caught in their own webs of deceit

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once Michael Ignatieff was considered a "public intellectual" who gazed down from the heights of Harvard to share his erudite opinions on world affairs ranging from the war in Kosovo to post Cold War nationalism to the state of human rights in the wake of 911. Now he's just another greasy politician trolling for votes in Winnipeg by pontificating about what he's been told is the city issue of the day---car theft. But there's one thing we can thank him for---exposing how desparate NDP M.P. Pat Martin and Liberal M.P. Anita Neville are. We've caught both of them have recently telling tall tales about their service in the fight against auto theft. But we don't know who is more to blame, this pair of Pinocchios, or the CBC and the Winnipeg Free Press which allowed them to (almost) get away with it. The CBC reported this week that Liberal MP's. including deputy leader Ignatieff,came to Winnipeg to be seen doing something about

War in Afghanistan 2008 Week 19

The Taliban have suffered another "major defeat." And, as usual, you're not hearing a word of it in the mainstream media. Don't take out word for it. We're simply repeating what the Taliban's biggest cheerleaders in Pakistan are saying. Here's how Asia Times Online reported it ( May 3, 2008 , Taliban claim victory from a defeat , By Syed Saleem Shahzad ): KARACHI - The Taliban have suffered their first major loss in this year's offensive, but they are putting on a brave face, even spinning the setback as a triumph in their broader battle against foreign forces in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, several thousand US Marines captured the town of Garmsir in the southern Afghan province of Helmand in their first large operation since arriving to reinforce North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops last month. The Taliban-controlled Garmsir had served as a main supply route for their insurgency in the area. The Taliban, however, claim the loss of one base i

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights: Follow the money

The proponents of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights knew they were in trouble in 2004. - Projected construction costs had risen 47 percent in three years. - A cornerstone of the project, an endowment fund to bring tens of thousands of students to the museum in Winnipeg each year, had become prohibitively expensive. - And the amount of money the private sector would have to come up with had leaped from $60 million to $103 million. What a difference having friends in high places makes. Within three years the self-proclaimed Friends of the museum were breathing easy as their problems evaporated one by one, and instead it was Canadian taxpayers who were reaching for the oxygen. "Follow the money" a screenwriter once wrote, and so we did. The results were as surprising as our discovery that the human rights museum intends to inflate its annual visitor count by including cyber visits to its website. Five years ago, Izzy Asper issued this statement: "On April 17th, 2003, on

Gail Asper's Incredibly Shrinking Museum for Human Rights

The latest twist in museum boondogology arrived in Ottawa the last day of March, but only hit the newspapers this week. A report (the Winnipeg Free Press says 77 pages, our copy has 126 pages) from the Advisory Committee on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was delivered to Josee Verner, Canada's Heritage Minister. The FP summarized its main point Wednesday--- thanks for the dough, now screw off. The Asper family is grateful that the feds have committed $100 million to build the museum, their daddy's pet project, and that Ottawa has agreed to spend at least $22 million a year to cover operating costs. But that's as far as the love affair is going. The Aspers won't be giving up control of the museum to anybody. The federal government has been "advised" to keep their noses out of the operations of the museum, all in the interest of avoiding political interference by pressure groups, you understand. Arni Thorsteinson, described by the Free Press as "Winni

War in Afghanistan 2008 Week 18

Three wars are being fought concurrently in Afghanistan. The Taliban lost the Education War the minute they were driven from power in 2001. Afghan parents, like parents everywhere, want their children educated as best they can be. Despite the news medias' swooning over every attack on a school or murder of a teacher, the Taliban's attempts to stifle education has failed at every turn. The Fighting War limps along but it's clear the Taliban have lost. The Winnipeg Free Press may have been the first newspaper in Canada to admit the obvious in an editorial April 29, 2008, in which they wrote: "The war has already been won in the field...The war now is one of commitment as the Taliban attempt to sap the will of the West and the Afghan people to persevere." After two straight years of terrible defeats in the field of battle, the Taliban conceded this year they cannot win. They're reduced to a campaign of terror against civilians and civil servants which the media d