Monday, December 31, 2007

Final passage for 2007

I've had a very confused year. That's not out of the ordinary, but I had hoped it would begin to skew into the field of "organized".

As I come closer to permanently retiring I find that, instead of things lightening up, they just get busier. That was not how I expected things to go. Weren't things supposed to get easier?

In the middle of the year an old war wound decided to kick up. I wish it had been a football injury, but then, I never did play the game except for the occasional mock Grey Cup. It did however, cause me to reflect on the lifetime I spent in naval service as a marine and a sailor.

I loved it. And "it" had little to do with carrying a Bergen pack and a self-loading rifle across a mine infested island populated primarily by sheep and penguins, nor driving a destroyer through a filthy North Atlantic gale.

I loved it because of the people. They were unique. They were tough. And, they were and are my friends.

I always felt that service in the armed forces was a calling. I never felt lesser of anyone for not having joined me. In fact, I have, on occasion, talked people out of making the trip to the recruiting office. With no national emergency, there was no reason for anybody who wouldn't completely "fit in" to join.

If there are exceptions to that feeling, it is when I read or hear some individual thump a drum and cheer for our involvement in a war and then personally remain clear of the actual fighting. They think war is a video game and that is as close as they ever intend to get to it. Fighting, as far as that small crowd is concerned, is for those who took the Queen's shilling - but not for them.

What they do not comprehend is that a peacetime armed forces, in all its aspects, is not a body intended to fight a protracted conflict. It is a contingency force retained to hold the line for a limited period. Even during the Korean War, Canada, only five years removed from the end of the 2nd World War, had to recruit additional ground troops for that conflict: the Canadian Army Special Force.

We are not a warring nation. Yes, we'll fight our guts out when the situation warrants it, and this country has done so often enough. But the troops always came from the general population. Few of the people who fought wars for Canada were actually career members of the armed forces.

In the 1960s a new concept arose: peacekeeping.

There is a warped sense about peacekeeping in the collective Canadian mind. A media construct, there has never been any such thing as a "peacekeeping armed forces" in Canada. The armed forces are and always have been a combat force. Peacekeeping was simply one of the types of missions in which that combat force conducted operations. It was still a contingency force and over-commitment to peacekeeping missions did as much to wear down the armed forces as any protracted combat mission. It's just that the Canadian public never heard much about those operations. There were few casualties and not a lot of shots fired. They simply weren't sexy, and for some, they weren't violent enough to warrant the kind of cheer leading that a good old-fashioned gun fight would attract.

Back in August there was a comment left at Where'd That Bug Go which attracted my attention. Written by a member of the Canadian Forces, Ottlib was responding to another purported member of the CF who had quite openly stated that people who did not join the armed forces were cowards. In his second comment he said this:
Sorry pcs, I reject all arguments that it was the Liberals' fault for underfunding the military.

I voted for Brian Mulroney the first time partly because of his promises to spend more on the military. He broke all of them except for a plan to buy 6 nuclear attack subs. When the Canadian military needed to replace more basic equipment he wasted time and money trying to buy equipment that would give the appearance of keeping his promise.

Since then I have not believed any promise made by a politician regarding reinvesting in the military.

Even the money the current government is spending on the military is largely going to fill holes in the Afghan effort and there is not much of a plan to fill long term needs. So when Canada's Afghan mission inevitably ends the CF is going to have all of this equipment that they will not have much use for and Canadians will not be in any mood to actually allow the CF to acquire the equipment they will actually need.

As well, as a CF member you should know that Canadians have a very ambivelant attitude towards the military. After all you have probably experienced that first-hand. Since Canadians have rarely made the military a priority you cannot expect politians to do so. That is not how they win votes. Just look at Mr. Harper, he has made the military a priority and it is not doing his government any good. Indeed, I would argue that it is one of the factors holding him back.

Finally pcs, members of the CF are not automatically Conservative supporters so you should not be surprised that I am a Liberal supporter. In fact, most of the people I work with in my unit think Stephen Harper is an ass, they did not vote for him in the past and they will not be voting for him in the future.

I think it part of it was that whole "Alberta firewall" thing. For some reason the people I work with, who don the uniform to serve their country, have a hard time supporting a guy who once suggested that it be broken up.
It was written before the Conservatives started to grumble that they weren't getting enough political "sizzle" for their military equipment spending spree. And I leave it with you now as a final passage for 2007.

Now excuse me. There's a calendar to tear up.

Watch the video...

From British Channel 4 News, via Raw Story.

And now go read this.

And finally, read this.

The New York Times ends the year by issuing forth shame

This was on the editorial page of the NY Times this morning:
There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.


The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.


In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.

Now, pay attention to Jill.

Now if whoever wrote this excellent editorial would inform the Powers that Be in the executive suite that every atrocity mentioned therein was applauded by the very man they've just hired as a columnist.

Is the CBC really doing this?

I have to ask because I don't really watch much television.

Emailer Colin sent me this. Aside from the fact that I really like what the guy has to say, apparently the CBC is also running ads, (since forever), marketing this never-to-be-circulated one dollar coin commemorating the destruction of the World Trade Center.

A little digging, (very little I'm afraid), produces this bit from the National Collector's Mint.

Two things to note here. The National Collector's Mint is not affiliated in any way with the US government. It is a private corporation.

The other thing worth noting, (just in case you succumb to one of those ads telling you that the coins have 71 mg of .999 silver recovered from a vault at Ground Zero, New York), is that the coin is not US at all. It's a Cook Islands coin. And, it's not silver. It's only silver plated.

There's something else worth noting, and perhaps the CBC should look into it. Back in 2004 the State of New York went to court and recceived an injunction to temporarily have the sale of the coins stopped.

New York Attorney-General Eliot Spitzer said of the 2004 coins:
Spitzer said the sale of the silver dollars emblazoned with the World Trade Center towers on one side and the planned Freedom Tower on the flip side is a fraud and he's investigating the claim the silver came from the ruins of the twin towers.

"It is a shameless attempt to profit from a national tragedy," Spitzer said. "This product has been promoted with claims that are false, misleading or unsubstantiated."

Now, I have no idea where that injunction ended up, but the coins did undergo some changes. So did the advertising.

The thing is, how many of these things does the National Collector's Mint think they will sell in Canada? And, if the CBC is running ads for them, apparently ad nauseum, perhaps their advertising time is too cheap.

So, if you're aware of these ads, leave a comment. It would be good to know if others have noticed.

An unnecessary message from Gordon O'Connor

This morning, along with a corporate tax form, this little piece of information arrived in the mail. (Click to enlarge)

I don't mind information, but the propaganda nature of this little blue slip of paper is more than just factual information.

The Canada Revenue Agency, in its role of dealing with taxpayers, cannot assume a position of determining what does or does not benefit those taxpayers.

It implements policy; It does not judge its worth.

I would have had no problem with an information bulletin which announced the changes in a matter-of-fact manner.

This little blue slip however, is a policy statement accompanied by political propaganda.

If this is to become routine, O'Connor might want to include, above his signature, that most economists disagree with the reduction of the GST as sound tax policy.

It's a first. Brought to you by the perpetual election campaign of the Steve Harper Party of Canada.

Update from Cheryl: Being in the accounting business, I'm inundated with mail from CRA detailing changes in tax laws, updates, etc. This ridiculous insert was in a GST news bulletin I received today. When Dave saw my slack-jawed reaction, I told him that this was an absolute first in all my 25 years of receiving mail from CRA. Stevie baby does it again (maybe the most surprising thing was that they didn't blame the Liberals for something or another in the insert)

There once was a man...

There once was a man who, through creative, thoughtful and forceful writing, took the internet and blogging, gave them a solid squeeze and set a standard one day we can all only dream of achieving.

I never met him. I did, however, know his writing; sensed his energy; and, understood his passion.

He was prolific yet measured. He had the uncanny ability to read the personality of those in power and predict their actions. And he did it with surgical precision.

He was never anything less than a fighter. I'm told he was a quiet, studious man, and one helluva reliable friend. He believed he could right the wrongs of his country and he set out to do just that.

Whether he set out to become the example for others I do not know. But that is what happened. He made the powerful pay attention, not to him, but to themselves. And he showed us how intelligence, wit, research and focus could come together from the keyboard to create a force. He was, whether he wanted to be or not, a leader and a mentor.

On April 3rd, 2003, before Iraq had become the shambles it is today, he wrote this:
The US could easily win the war and lose the peace. It does no good to beat Saddam only to have to fight Shia guerrillas weeks or months later.
If you recognize that line then you know of whom I speak.

Steve Gilliard. Gilly to his friends.

The Gazetteer calls him The best he's ever seen. The blog was his instrument. It was through his postings that we were exposed to his mind and his unyielding determination to stand by his position.

James Wolcott aptly sums up the feelings of many, me included.
Of all the losses in 2007, Steve's death is the one that suspends lowest from the ceiling, pressing downward force. Other deaths were saddening--Norman Mailer's, Hilly Kristal's, Elizabeth Hardwick's--but they led full, productive lives and left complete inheritances of accomplishment. Steve was still a mind in motion, a power transmitter still extending his reach, and to be deprived of his voice is a neverending series of what ifs and what might have beens and what would Steve have said about this? A sense of incompletion will always nag, in part because no one has been able to fill the role he left behind and probably no one ever will--he left so much behind, but he took so much more with him.
Because Steve Gilliard, ever the fighter, always able to address issues with a clarity most cannot achieve, lost one fight. And the world lost, not just the best blogger, but one of the best minds of our generation.

His legacy was to create a challenge. For all of us. He lives on in our memories and those who knew him best continue to reach for the bar which he set so high. Even the obituary in the New York Times magazine needed to be addressed and the record set straight. It's too bad that even in death, it had to come down to this.

Steve Gilliard deserved so much better. He would never have been so careless. Those who knew him best know there is a much higher standard and it is achievable. Steve proved it.

Luckily, Steve wrote. That was what he was all about. Observing, thinking, analyzing, organizing it all and then writing it out in clear, concise terms which left the reader with no doubts about his point.

If you haven't had the pleasure of Steve's writing, those who are carrying on in his name have generously provided the primer. As Jesse says, consider it an education in real journalism.

We'll miss Steve Gilliard. We will always have what he wrote and we will always have a moment of reflection wondering what more would have come. He left a void.

The best leaders always do.

Update: Brilliant at Breakfast has even more including a link which underlines what the right-wing camp thought of Steve.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The best Peter Principle quote... evah!

John Cole nails it.
If the Peter Principle were true, George Bush and Bill Kristol would be the street-cleaner and dogcatcher in Crawford, Texas.

The Peter Principle

At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning...

With respect and condolences to the family and friends of Gunner Jonathan Dion, 5th Régiment d'Artillerie légère du Canada. Killed due to enemy action.


Quo fas et gloria ducunt

Random Rumours

A short roundup of some things out there in Blogtopia (Yes, a term coined by Skippy) you should really take the time to read or look at.

Giant Political Mouse finds a UN soldier lining up in an opportune moment for a photographer. It provides a good analysis of Canada's involvement in Africa.

There is more there for those who understand. Feel sorry for the poor sonofabitch who's expected to do a dangerous job with a piece of crap like an SA-80.


Saskboy does a fine deconstruction of Terence Corcoran's article in the Financial Post. Shorter Corcoran: Only corporations should be allowed to write law, and that means making the consumer pay more for everything.


Impolitical wonders if the Harper Conservatives are so insecure that they think they have to undermine the Premier of Newfoundland. Loyola Hearn claims to know what's going on in the Williams cabinet room. Why does Harper hate Canadians?


Osama is back. Bush is in Crawford. OJ still hunting his wife's killer.

As JJ points out, most of those with al-Qaeda I.D. cards are probably already on their way to the next event of the tournament.

Osama bin Laden's latest release of a tape concentrated on Iraq and Israel.

Now, before anyone goes off piddling themselves, there is no independent verification of the tape.
The authenticity of the tape could not be independently confirmed. But the voice resembled that of bin Laden. The tape was posted on an Islamic militant Web site where al-Qaeda's media arm, Al-Sahab, issues the group's messages.
Resembled? You'd think somebody could put a sound spectrograph to work and resolve that. An old colleague of mine has certainly managed to do that with Killer Whales.

In any case, the appearance of yet another tape which even remotely suggests that Osama bin Laden is alive should be the height of embarrassment for this moron.

I know. You didn't even have to look. This game is getting way too easy.

The New York Times goes outside the box...

And the publishers may well be right out of their minds.

Consider this:
Still, the simple truth is that a great democracy like ours deserves a first-rate newspaper of record. And the New York Times isn't it.
So, one would think that the New York Times would steer itself clear of the person who wrote that. Surely, if, for example, you were on record as having said that, publicly, there would be no reason for you to expect to be given the slightest consideration for employment at the New York Times.

Apparently, that isn't the case.
A day after the Huffington Post first reported it, The New York Times has announced that it has indeed hired conservative pundit, and Fox News analyst, Bill Kristol, as a new regular op-ed columnist.

Liberal bloggers had been up in arms over the move. Kristol said, in an interview with, it gave him some pleasure to see their "heads explode." Kristol was perhaps the most influential pundit of all in promoting the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has strongly defended the move ever since.

Times' editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal defended the move. Rosenthal told shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views....We have views on our op-ed page that are as hawkish or more so than Bill....

“The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual — and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?”
Well, for one thing, suggesting that Kristol is serious, respected or intellectual raises questions about Rosenthal's ability to reason. It has little to do with intolerance.

Kristol is a spoiled, self-praising frat-boy with a long record of being wrong on just about everything, and with a willingness to waste lives on foolish and dangerous endeavours providing he doesn't personally have to get his hands dirty. He treats the deaths of American service personnel as mere currency to finance a failed political ideology and he treats the hundreds of thousands of deaths of civilians world-wide as little more than fertilizer for a field of Republican dreams.

He is an elitist of the worst kind who views himself as infallible. When he is proved wrong, as has happened countless times, he simply shrugs it off and crawls back into his comfortable hole, safe and protected from the carnage he helped create. No apologies; no admission of failure.

Couple all that with the inherent dishonesty of the individual. After Bush's second inaugural address in 2005, Kristol lavished praise on Bush's speech and the direction it took. He spoke on FOX political programs and wrote in his Weekly Standard that Bush's speech was "sophisticated and nuanced". That speech has now been widely panned as nothing less than a signal to expand American hegemony and a PNAC pipe-dream which failed to address anything close to reality. The Bush Doctrine. What Kristol did not tell anyone, while he was heaping praise on the prose, is that he himself helped write it.
The planning of Bush's second inaugural address began a few days after the Nov. 2 election with the president telling advisers he wanted a speech about "freedom" and "liberty." That led to the broadly ambitious speech that has ignited a vigorous debate. The process included consultation with a number of outside experts, Kristol among them.

One meeting, arranged by Peter Wehner, director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, included military historian Victor Davis Hanson, columnist Charles Krauthammer and Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis, according to one Republican close to the White House. White House senior adviser Karl Rove attended, according to one source, but mostly listened to what became a lively exchange over U.S. policy and the fight for liberty.

Expanding on Kristol's elitism is his belief in an American aristocracy; a conservative American aristocracy. For all his rhetorical spouting of the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy, he is quite happy to see democratic rights diminish on his own soil. Further, he believes the conservative ruling class should be exempt from the consequences of their actions, even if members of that class have blatantly ignored the law.

He screamed loud and hard that Scooter Libby, found guilty of obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame "outing" investigation, should be pardoned and went so far as to state that Libby should not have been charged at all. What he was publicly demanding is that someone who held a position of public trust should be exempt from criminal prosecution and punishment because of his rank within the ruling class. He demanded that Libby be immediately pardoned - by the person who was Libby's boss - based on the premise that Libby had been prosecuted by someone who was not of the conservative ruling class and who's low rank should not have permitted him to investigate the matter in the first place.
And now is the time for it. If the president does intend to pardon Libby, there is no reason to wait. The president will learn nothing important about the case during the appeals process that he doesn't already know. He told an interviewer Wednesday, "I'm pretty much going to stay out of it" until the case has run its course. Why? There's no good reason now for him "to stay out of it." This whole prosecution happened only because of a desire by Bush's agents--the attorney general and the deputy attorney general--to "stay out of it" in late 2003, which led to the appointment of Fitzgerald as an unaccountable special prosecutor.
This is the kind of individual the New York Times editorial page editor, Andy Rosenthal, believes will provide a "conservative" viewpoint: A dishonest, self-admiring imperialist wrapped in an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

And the acceptance of the position by Kristol himself is a demonstration of his principles. Clearly, he has none. After saying this:
The Times is irredeemable. The question is whether a new newspaper of record will replace it.
Why would he even consider taking a position on that same newspaper?


The New York Times has just engaged the services of a whore.

The only question now is how much Kristol's blow-job is going to cost.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mrs. Mills does the spin cycle

As ever, the indefatigable Mrs. Mills takes on the toughest questions.
My upstairs neighbour uses her washing machine daily — not once, but two or three times. I am going mad. When she uses the maximum-speed spin cycle, my ceiling shakes. I cannot stand it any more. How many washes is it socially acceptable to do daily? I do only three or four weekly (blacks, whites, sheets, colours). She has a child, but surely she can’t have that many dirty clothes?
Proving that technology is no match, Mrs. Mills sweeps away the problem with one sentence.
Find her a nice boyfriend and her spin-cycle fixation will soon diminish.
Check out last week's Mrs. Mills at the TimesOnline and this week's edition here.

Cut them off at the knees.

Skdadl revisits a comment made by Alison back in August when the Harper jellybean statement became the focus of those watching the developments of the very clandestine Security and Prosperity Partnership meetings.

I don't usually pay all that much attention to year-end retrospectives but Skdadl takes the very incisive point made by Alison and drives it straight into what should be an explosive issue.

The media in the United States has been co-opted as propagandists and it is starting to happen in Canada.
Without question, the curious adventures of Judith Miller of the New York Times made life hardest for those of us who believe profoundly in the first article of every democrat's Bill and Charter and Declaration. Why would we offer members of the fourth estate special constitutional protection if they have decided to make careers out of laundering government propaganda? That wasn't, y'know, the point of enshrining freedom of expression. Almost every other journalist who took the stand at the Libby trial or was even mentioned came off looking like an absurd, grovelling courtier to a snivelly, smirking, grubby regime whose time, we have to hope, is fast coming to an end.
The problem is that the Harper regime is using the Republican playbook. That includes media relations and the release of information. The carbon-copy behaviour of the Harperites should be a continuing media story in itself.

Sandra Buckler has wreaked havoc on the national press gallery by basically stating that if a reporter wants access, he/she had better play the game - the Conservative Party game. While the body of reporters got up in arms for a short time, that quickly died and information from the Harper government lives in a hermetically sealed jar, released in small, controlled doses.

Media ownership and convergence may have helped the bottom line of the news industry but it has done nothing for the independence of reporters and editors. Take the example Bob Kreiger and Dan Murphy of the Vancouver Province. Both have been effectively gagged by the publisher by having their often scathing political cartoons removed from the editorial pages of one of the Asper publications.

It's happening.

Reporters and editors, if they expect to retain their privileged positions of trust with the public, had better get off their asses. It is their job to critically question those in power, no matter who they are. And when a Sandra Buckler comes along, it is their duty to completely neutralize her.

Read all of Skdadl's post.

Edison might not be the best example here

Timothy Carney attempts to make the point that the manufacturers of compact fluorescent light bulbs had a hand in writing the energy bill which will outlaw incandescent light bulbs by 2012. In doing so he commits a fatal error.
Had Thomas Edison employed the same business strategy as his 21st-Century heirs at General Electric, he would have lobbied Congress to outlaw the candle in 1879 when he perfected and patented the light bulb.

He surely could have masked his self-interested lobbying in some public interest claim, such as fire prevention or the need for wax conservation. Today, the mask is environmentalism.

Yeah, well, it's unfortunate that Carney didn't bother to look a little deeper because Edison's 21st Century heirs learned well from their founding father.

It was said that Edison, well aware of his system becoming obsolete, would not accept AC because it wasn't his idea. He then launched an anti-AC campaign, describing DC as "a river flowing peacefully to the sea, while alternating current was like a torrent rushing violently over a precipice." With the help of Harold Brown, Edison would continue the battle for sales, and recognition. Brown assisted Edison's propaganda by electrocuting dogs and horses to demonstrate the "dangers" of the AC system. These string of electrocutions actually led the the development of the electric chair.

Maybe try a different example next time, Tim.

For an even better wade through the denialist swamp, Bouphonia has The Week in Denialism.

Learn to fly in your living room.

For those looking to take their flight simulator software to the next level, this is for you. This little unit gives you "feel".

Made by FMS Flight Motion Simulators in Kelowna, British Columbia, the system can be purchased with all th goodies. You just hook it all up and you're flying... sort of.

The whole kit costs around $3000. You provide your own computer and monitors.

Benazir Bhutto

I took this photo in Sarajevo near the spot where Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, triggering the First World War. The assassin's footprints - markers imbedded in the pavement - were torn up when Yugolavia disintegrated into hatred.

I think we shall be very lucky if we don't end up repeating ourselves.

Suddenly, the Pentagon decides to preserve whatever is left after they destroyed it

Remember those? (Click to enlarge). That was the deck of playing cards issued to US troops invading Iraq as an aide de memoir detailing the Most-Wanted from the Saddam regime.

The US military, aware that nothing can hold the attention of the troops like a good game of Texas Hold 'Em, has issued 50,000 decks of new cards. This time however, they have pictures of archaeological sites and advice on how to preserve and respect ancient ruins, buildings.... well, you get the picture.
American soldiers in Iraq have been issued with thousands of packs of playing cards urging them to protect and respect the country’s archaeological sites, in an effort to curb the destruction and plunder of Iraq’s antiquities.

Each card in the deck is illustrated with an ancient artefact or site, with tips on how to preserve archaeological remains and prevent looting.

The seven of clubs, for example, is illustrated with a photograph of the great Ctesiphon arch in Iraq, with the words: “This site has survived for seventeen centuries. Will it survive you?” The seven of spades declares: “Taking pictures is good. Removing artefacts for souvenirs is not.” The jack of diamonds is even more blunt. Alongside a picture of the Statue of Liberty, it asks: “How would you feel if someone stole her torch?” The effort to induce greater cultural awareness among US troops comes amid dire warnings from international archaeologists that Iraq’s ancient heritage is in greater peril than ever.

The looting of the Iraqi National Museum in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion caused widespread outrage, but with the security situation deteriorating, the robbery of ancient sites has accelerated to feed a booming illegal trade in stolen artefacts.

So, there's nothing like a little cultural awareness to keep things on the straight and narrow. Looting by invading armies and occupation forces is as old as warfare itself, but the pillage of certain areas of Iraq means that the ancient record of civilization is at risk.

It might have helped if the US military command in Iraq had imbued its troops with a little more cultural awareness earlier on in the game.

The contrast between the two card packs indicates a shift of emphasis on the part of the US military, away from destroying the enemy and emphasising the battle for “hearts and minds”. But some experts say that the well-meaning effort to instill cultural sensitivity in the troops comes far too late.
Yes, well, one could be excused for believing that it was the bone-weary, under-paid, grunt on the ground creating the problem. After all, issuing playing cards is clearly intended to reach those who would be playing cards to kill time.

You might expect command level decision makers to possess an awareness with a far greater breadth of knowledge. It is, after all, the duty of a professional officer to be as fully informed of his/her surroundings as possible.

You'd be wrong. The record is atrocious.

In one of the most notorious incidents, US troops constructed a helicopter pad on the ruins of ancient Babylon, filling sandbags with remains from what was once the holy city of Mesopotamia. The US military base built five years ago on the site of the ancient city of Ur, believed to have been the home of the prophet Abraham, is also causing irreparable damage. Under the Hague Convention heritage sites should not be used as military bases. US officials said that the base at Babylon had been built to protect the site, a claim dismissed by most archaeologists.
In fact, John Curtis, keeper of the British Museum's Near East department, was invited by the government of Iraq to survey the sites and found widespread destruction. Even he admitted that the base, when initially established, provided protection for the ruins.

However, it was what went on as the base was developed which is indefensible. Not only was there a heli-pad built right on top of pricless ruins, there was also a parking lot constructed. The dragons of the Ishtar Gate, built by King Nebuchadnezzer II in around 575 BCE, have been picked at and looted, leaving holes and gaps.

It might have helped if the "playing card" technique had been employed early enough to emphasize that in Iraq, Ishtar was something far more significant than the title of one of the worst motion pictures ever made.

The accusation escalation

On Friday the government of Pakistan was holding out a transcript of an intercepted telephone conversation between Baitullah Mehsud, head of Tehrik-i-Taliban, an alleged ally of al-Qaeda, as evidence supporting the Musharraf government's claim that al-Qaeda was responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
“We have an intercept from this morning in which he congratulated his people for carrying out this act,” Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said in a briefing to reporters.

“We have irrefutable evidence that Al Qaeda and its networks are trying to destabilize the government,” he added. “They have been systematically attacking our government, and now a political icon.” Ms. Bhutto, he said, was on the hit list of Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

Which left anybody with even a minor grasp on reality unimpressed.

Then today, Mehsud comes partially out of the woodwork with a statement denying responsibility.

Alleged Al-Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud denied any involvement in Benazir Bhutto's death after the Pakistan government blamed him for the killing, his spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

"He had no involvement in this attack," spokesman Maulana Omar said in a telephone call. "This is a conspiracy of the government, army and intelligence agencies."

The spokesman said he was calling from Pakistan's Waziristan area, a lawless tribal region where Pakistani government forces have been battling Islamist militants. "It is against tribal tradition and custom to attack a woman," Omar said.

The twist here is that militant groups are normally quick to claim responsibility for acts like assassinations since it elevates them among others of their ilk. Mehsud is already wanted by the Musharraf government. He would have little to lose by taking responsibility for killing Bhutto.

The comment by Omar that it is against tribal tradition and custom to attack a woman doesn't hold much water. Such groups have deviated from that tribal custom in the past.

The actual cause of death is now in dispute. The version issued by the Pakistani government:

Saying he wanted to dispel erroneous reports that Ms. Bhutto had died from gunfire, Brigadier Cheema gave an exhaustive description of the episode and showed a video on which Ms. Bhutto could be seen waving at the crowd from the sunroof of her car as she left a political rally in Rawalpindi. But the camera lost focus in the pandemonium after it recorded the sound of three gunshots.

Ms. Bhutto tried to duck down into the car just as the suicide bomber detonated his explosives, and the force of the blast caused her to strike her head, he said. “One of the levers of the sunroof hit her on the right side, which caused a fracture, and that is what caused her death,” Brigadier Cheema said. He said shrapnel from the blast hit the left side of the car, but her injury was on the right side of her head. The lever on the car showed traces of blood, he said.

“There was no bullet that hit Mohtarma Bhutto, there was no splinter that hit Mohtarma Bhutto, and there was no pellet that hit her,” he said, referring to Ms. Bhutto with a term of respect. It remained unclear if the suicide bomber had fired the shots or if a second person had, he said.

I suppose there were several places in the car that showed traces of blood. As for the location of the injury, that is now in dispute.

Benazir Bhutto was shot in the head, a close aide who prepared her body for burial said on Saturday, dismissing as "ludicrous" a government theory that she died after hitting her head on a sunroof during the suicide attack.


"She has a bullet wound at the back of her head on the left side. It came out the other. That was a very large wound, and she bled profusely through that," said Ms. Rehman, who suffered a severe whiplash and leg injuries as the blast threw her out of her car.

"She was even bleeding while we were bathing her for the burial," she added. "The government is now trying to say she concussed herself, which is ludicrous. It is really dangerous nonsense."

The problem now is the investigation. Musharraf has initiated two investigations: one judicial and the other by the intelligence service. The hitch, of course, is that under Musharraf's military dictatorship judges had to swear loyalty to Musharraf or be removed from the bench. The intelligence service investigation is easily dismissed before it even starts. Pakistani intelligence, in the eyes of most of the world, is one of the suspects.

There is no chance for a credible investigation by the Pakistani government under Musharraf. Unless the international community offers to step in, and Pakistan allows it, Benzir Bhutto's assassination will be mired in mystery and endless accusations.

And one by one, they fall.

This is almost stunning.
Until now, Warner Music had resisted offering songs by its artists in the MP3 format, which can be copied to multiple computers and burned onto CDs without restriction and played on most PCs and digital media players, including Apple Inc.'s iPod and Microsoft Corp.'s Zune. The deal raises the total number of MP3s for sale through Amazon's music download store to more than 2.9 million. Warner Music's entire catalog, including work by artists Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin and Sean Paul, will be added to the site throughout the week. The Amazon store launched with nearly 2.3 million songs in September.

Major music labels Universal Music Group and EMI Music Group PLC had already signed to sell large portions of their catalogs on Amazon, as had thousands of independent labels. Most songs cost 89 cents to 99 cents each and most albums sell for $5.99 to $9.99.
So, driven by the bottom line, companies are falling, one at a time, and formulating their product in a format that allows you to make copies.

In short, the same companies that want copyright legislation like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, are willing to make it easier for download purchasers to actually make their own copies of music they legally purchased.

That's going to really make it difficult for the Harper government to table legislation which has the potential to make criminals out of people doing what the big music labels are clearly willing to allow - because their customers have forced them into it.

One of the last holdouts is almost a given. Rootkits 'R' Us still hasn't signed on. But then, they were willing to blow your computer to pieces just to protect their "revenue stream". Personally, I would get great pleasure watching them choke in the dust as their sales fall through the floor.

For the killer quote however, you'll have to visit Catelli.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Why I am an angry feminist

THIS is what makes my blood boil. This is what makes me search out a clandestine UZI submachine gun.

This is the news item that was the basis of a posting:

“It may have started over something as stupid as an argument over a set of keys. It ended in a bloodbath that left two young people dead, another suffering stab wounds and a fourth man hit with new murder accusations.

It's been a few days since a bleeding 16-year-old escaped from his alleged captivity and staggered into Toronto Police's 23 Division to report a murder. And while the man accused in the terrible crime has yet to make a court appearance, he's already facing more serious charges.

Police have upgraded the charges against 27-year-old Nana Yaw from second to first-degree murder. Authorities contend he killed his common-law wife, 22-year-old Iliada Zois, and her 14-year-old brother during a domestic dispute that spiraled out of control at 2737 Kipling Ave. on Christmas.

They also allege he stabbed another of her siblings and then locked him in a closet for 24 hours. They only learned of the crime when the teen finally escaped and wound up confronting startled officers in the lobby of their station the next day.

Veteran cops have called the gruesome scene in the apartment one of the worst they've ever witnessed and friends of the murdered teen are expressing their sorrow over his untimely demise.

Yaw will make a video appearance in a Finch Ave. West courtroom on January 11th to face the newly upgraded charges. The attempted murder and forcible confinement accusations against him remain in place. “

THIS piece of crap is a Blogging Tory take on it ( I shit you not!)

Well... she sure won't do that again, huh?

Move over Canadian Cynic. I think you got yourself a blogging soulmate here.

P.S. Here’s the comment I posted on the site. Wanna make a bet it never sees the light of day for more than 24 hours?

"Well... she sure won't do that again, huh?"

WTF???? What the hell does "she" have to do with it??? Are you such a stupid,insipid piece of shit that you can actually manage to blame the woman for this???? How fucking stupid are you>????????????

In which a virulent wingnut ....

Holds himself out as an example by proving this to be true while referring to this post.

Marginalized Action Dinosaur (MAD for short) seems to have a comprehension problem. In the post he refers to, the issue was whether the Harper minority government has the authority to change the operation of the Canadian Wheat Board by cabinet order. There was, as any intelligent reader can see, nothing indicating a position "for" or "against" the existence of the CWB. The point was that Harper and his minister of agriculture are required to conduct this democracy in a democratic fashion. Thus, if they wish to change a Canadian statute, in this case the Canadian Wheat Board Act, it requires legislation passed by Parliament.

Clearly, MAD doesn't get that. In his post under the category "commies" he wrote:
So you can create the wheat board by an order in council. But when all the farmers vote to get rid of their temporary war measure and another order in council is passed thats unlawful.
Umm... no. The Canadian Wheat Board was actually created in 1935 by an act of Parliament.

The temporary war measure MAD refers to was actually The Board of Grain Supervisors established by the Canadian government during The Great War for the 1917-18 and 1918-19 crop years. After the war, the government created the first Canadian Wheat Board to market the 1919-20 crop.

In 1920 the Canadian Wheat Board was disbanded by the government. Period. Except that western farmers actually liked the concept.
The CWB of 1919-20, like the BGS before it, was seen as an extraordinary measure by both the federal government and its political supporters in the Canadian grain trade, one that it was felt could not be justified as a permanent marketing arrangement under peacetime conditions, so it was disbanded in 1920 after one year's operation. However, in this one year the concept had gained widespread support among farmers and farm organizations throughout Western Canada. These organizations opposed the abandonment of the CWB in 1920 and began immediately to press the government to re-establish it. When the government refused to do this, farmers took action of their own and created "Wheat Pools" in each of the three Prairie provinces in 1923. The Pools also set up their own jointly owned Central Selling Agency for wheat and their system of payments for wheat deliveries was similar to that established under the 1919-20 Wheat Board.
Uh oh. Farmers doing their own "pool" marketing. And the government refused to participate.
The Pools operated well for several years, but the federal government was once again forced to intervene in grain marketing after the collapse of international wheat prices in 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. Wheat market prices fell to such low levels that the Wheat Pools could no longer hope to recover from the market what they had paid out in initial payments for the harvest of 1929, and were facing bankruptcy. From 1930 onward, the federal government had to step in and provide the bankers of the Wheat Pools with a federal guarantee on their loans to the Wheat Pools, and had to guarantee the Pools' initial payments to farmers. In this situation, it decided to put its own representative in place as the general manager of the Central Selling Agency.
In MAD's world, this simply would not happen. He's a Reformer. The farmers would have been allowed to go bankrupt... causing a ripple effect that would have left Canadians eating tree bark.

Still, the federal government wanted to avoid being involved.
In the early 1930s the federal government still hoped that its involvement in grain marketing would be temporary and that it would be able to extricate itself from this in time and return all grain marketing activities to the private sector.
But the Depression was still strong and the farmers actually wanted a single-desk marketing agency.
When it became clear by 1935, however, that its involvement was going to be longer-term than originally envisaged, it decided to formalize that involvement and enact the Canadian Wheat Board Act, which was signed into law on July 5, 1935. As with the 1919 Wheat Board, any losses incurred by the new CWB on its operations were to be absorbed by the federal government and any profits were to be returned to producers who delivered wheat to the CWB.
So, MAD's assertion that the CWB is a temporary wartime measure is a blatant falsehood. That or he's lazy and doesn't bother looking things up.

Take your pick.

And if you're wondering about the title of his blog, this should explain it.

I know. It puts self-pity on a whole new level.

Bush screws the troops. (Again)

If you're in the US military, you might have been expecting a pay raise. In fact, if you were in the US military, you might have been expecting an expansion of some benefits.

Certainly, the United States Congress passed a bill which would have seen the US military receive a raise in pay and allowances, improvements to military health benefits, expanded health care for those wounded in action, improvements in the care, management and transition of recovering veterans, improvements in family housing and on and on and on. And, the bill passed both houses of Congress with solid majorities.

But, if you're serving in the US military or are a veteran no longer on active service, you're going to be disappointed.

George W. Bush, in an unannounced move and with no warning or negotiation, said that he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.
At the behest of the Iraqi government, President Bush has vetoed the annual defense authorization bill, saying an obscure provision in the legislation could make Iraqi assets held in U.S. banks vulnerable to lawsuits.

The veto startled Democratic congressional leaders, who believe Bush is bowing to pressure from the Iraqi government over a provision meant to help victims of state-sponsored terrorism. The veto was unexpected because there was no veto threat and the legislation passed both chambers of Congress overwhelmingly.

At issue is section 1083 of the bill which amends Chapter 97 of title 28 of the US Code by removing the jurisdictional immunity of foreign states from US courts when that state is alleged to have sponsored terrorism.

The Iraqi government has a problem since the Bush administration has declared that Iraq, prior to the US invasion was designated as a state sponsoring terrorism. The same goes for Afghanistan. What that essentially does is open the door for law suits against the Iraqi government and the possible freezing of Iraqi assets held in US financial institutions.

The Iraqi's have threatened, if the bill passes, to withdraw all funds from US banks. That would be some big bucks - in the billions.

At issue is a provision deep in the defense authorization bill, which would essentially allow victims of state sponsored terrorism to sue those countries for damages. The Iraqi government believes the provision, if applied to the regime of Saddam Hussein, could target up to $25 billion in Iraqi assets held in U.S. banks. Iraq has threatened to pull all of its money out of the U.S. banking system if the provision remains in the bill.
All of this came as a surprize to both houses of Congress since Bush had made no indication that a veto was in the offing.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) was angered that the White House decided on a veto long after the bill passed both chambers of Congress.

"It is unfortunate that the administration failed to identify the concerns upon which this veto is based until after the bill had passed both houses on Congress and was sent to the President for signature," Levin said. "I am deeply disappointed that our troops and veterans may have to pay for their mistake and for the confusion and uncertainty caused by their snafu.

What is so unusual about this pending veto is that the White House almost always telegraphs a veto threat while a bill is under consideration so that changes can be made to the legislation to avoid a veto. This defense bill passed the House 370-49 and cleared the Senate on a 90-3 vote. According to Democratic leadership aides, the Bush administration did not raise any objections about the section in question until after the bill was transmitted to the White House.

Cool. He used SNAFU. An apt description of the Bush administration. Situation Normal. All Fucked Up.

Hey! Don't worry about it all that much. I'm sure the Commander Guy will make it all up to the troops by serving them a special Valentine's Day meal.

H/T Crooks and Liars

In answer to your question...

I'm afraid it's true.

This has been an edition of Easy Answers to Easy Questions.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus. She wears a stetson

I had meant to put this up yesterday but then things kind of went sideways.

Too often we spend time focusing on the narrow view and miss what's going in the periphery. On December 24th, Constable Christa Ballard, of the Langley RCMP detachment did one of those things in the periphery that deserves mention.
An angel appeared to Bobbie Henderson on Christmas Eve in the form of Langley RCMP Const. Christa Ballard.

Henderson, a single mom raising two children, awoke on the morning of Dec. 24 to an uncomfortable breeze from an open window in her Brookswood home.

She got up to investigate and to her shock found that the Christmas presents she had scrimped so much to buy for 11-year-old Liberty and Jason, 13, had been stolen.

Const. Ballard couldn't let a lowlife thief ruin the kids' Christmas.

So, when she got back to the detachment to write up her report, she decided to pull a Christmas miracle out of her Stetson.

With time ticking down to St. Nick's annual sleigh ride of joy, Ballard turned into the fundraiser from heaven, hitting up her kind-hearted co-workers on the detachment's C Watch to save Henderson's Christmas.

In the wink of an eye, Ballard had conjured up $360 in cash, two boxes of chocolates, a basket of bath products, candles and a $10 gift voucher.

So, off to the mall she sprang with a clatter.

Using her own meal break for a whirlwind Christmas-shopping spree, Ballard bought replacement presents and hurried back to the detachment.

About 30 officers and civilian RCMP members worked like tireless elves to wrap the presents in the few spare moments they had on the busy pre-yuletide shift.

Well done, Const. Ballard. Just simply, very well done. And that goes out to all of C-Watch, Langley RCMP, for restoring somebody's wrecked Christmas.

Read on...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So who exactly benefits from Bhutto's assassination. A lot of people from the look of it.

Newshoggers is keeping up with information surrounding the Bhutto assassination. It is worth a check back from time to time, including something of a friendly debate going on between Cernig and Shamanic as to the possible involvement of Pervez Musharraf.

Two points of interest here. Insiders close to Bhutto are suggesting that Musharraf was either directly or indirectly involved.
A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf.

After an October attack on Bhutto's life in Karachi, the ex-prime minister warned "certain individuals in the security establishment [about the threat] and nothing was done," says Husain Haqqani, a confidante of Bhutto's for decades. "There is only one possibility: the security establishment and Musharraf are complicit, either by negligence or design. That is the most important thing. She's not the first political leader killed, since Musharraf took power, by the security forces."

Haqqani notes that Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck. "It's like a hit, not a regular suicide bombing," he says. "It's quite clear that someone who considers himself Pakistan's Godfather has a very different attitude toward human life than you and I do."

The thing is, a lot of political opposition in Pakistan has been eliminated through either execution or "mysterious" deaths. Knocking off the opposition is not uncommon.

However, now we have al-Qaeda claiming responsibility.

While al Qaeda is considered by the U.S. to be a likely suspect in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Banazir Bhutto, U.S. intelligence officials say they cannot confirm an initial claim of responsibility for the attack, supposedly from an al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan.

An obscure Italian Web site said Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, told its reporter in a phone call, "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahedeen."

It said the decision to assassinate Bhutto was made by al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al Zawahri in October. Before joining Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, Zawahri was imprisoned in Egypt for his role in the assassination of then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

That will certainly get some quarters all riled and jumping in with pointing fingers, but there is something else.

U.S. officials monitoring Internet chat rooms known to be used by Islamic militants say several claims of responsibility have been posted, although such postings are notoriously unreliable.
Which makes the al-Qaeda claim a little less significant but not fully discountable.

One thing is slightly puzzling. Given the tenuous situation in Pakistan over the past few months, and given the October attempt on Bhutto's life, for which al Qaeda claimed credit, it would seem that US intelligence would be paying close attention to any activity involving extremist groups.

I'll go one further. It is not in the interest of the Bush administration not to have had al Qaeda carry this assassination off. Yet, US intelligence is issuing a very cautious "maybe" but "we can't confirm it".

There are two points that arise from that.

The US intelligence community is hoisting a middle finger to Cheney once again. As they did with the NIE on Iran, they are steadfastly maintaining their independence by not immediately giving Cheney the words he would like to hear. Cheney is a solid Musharraf supporter. By not immediately confirming al Qaeda's claim, Musharraf lives under a veil of suspicion.

The second point is that there is obvious skepticism among intelligence analysts. Even if al Qaeda's claim is genuine, there is also the possibility of conspiratorial involvement of other parties, particularly the ISI. Musharraf may or may not have had direct involvement, but given the renewed independence of US intelligence agencies and their recent working out from under the thumb of Dick Cheney, they're not going to be pressured into any easy answer. If they believed al Qaeda's claim they could easily have come out and confirmed it. This is only speculation but what's going on now suggests they have different information.

The move to watch is whether Musharraf cancels elections.

We'll always have Paris

But she won't be anywhere near as rich as she wanted to be.
Barron Hilton, son of the international hotel chain's founder, said Wednesday that he will donate nearly all of his fortune to his family's philanthropic foundation that supports housing for the homeless, safe water in developing countries and other causes worldwide.

Barron Hilton, 80, plans to donate to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation a total of nearly $2.3 billion at his death, including $1.2 billion in proceeds from two recent corporate deals and 97% of his other $1.1 billion in assets. Hilton said in a statement that his father, Conrad, left 97% of his wealth to the foundation, "and I am proud to follow my father's example."

Surely, he wouldn't leave Paris stranded without a bunch of cash.

He couldn't be reached for further comment. But his publicist, Patrick Barry, said Barron Hilton will distribute to his heirs the remaining 3% of his personal estate. Hilton has eight children and numerous grandchildren, including granddaughter Paris Hilton, 26, a tabloid celebrity known for provocative photos, a reality TV show and a jail stint this year stemming from driving violations.
That's $8.6 million per child, without including grandchildren, which is the place Paris holds.

And Mr. Barry left out the *AHEM* video of Paris doing... whoever it was.

Barron Hilton was apparently unimpressed with young Paris' celebrity status.

Jerry Oppenheimer, who profiled the Hilton family in his 2006 book “House of Hilton,” has said Barron Hilton is embarrassed by the behavior of his socialite granddaughter Paris and believes it has sullied the family name.
Hmmm... I guess, given the way Paris burns through money, she'll probably have to get, you know, a real job.

I wonder... does professional party girl have a place on a resume?

Jon Swift takes year end roundups to a new level

I don't know how he did it but this is without a doubt the results of a herculean effort on Jon's part. There isn't just a lot of good reading. There is a HUGE amount of good reading.


Conservatives break a record - In SUV purchases

Steve Harper can wax poetic about his environmental policy until he turns blue in the face. No one is going to buy it.

It would seem the conservative penchant for Teh Big trumps the setting of any kind of example for Canadians, particularly when it comes to their personal ground transportation.
Led by the new gas-guzzling black SUVs in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motorcade, the federal government nearly doubled the amount it spent on sport-utility vehicles during the first full year of Conservative-minority rule.

Even as the government offers rebates to encourage Canadians to drive more fuel-efficient cars, its own spending on SUVs rose 88 per cent over the previous year. The Public Works Department ordered 844 new SUVs last year, a large leap from the 500 purchased the year before and the 366 in 2004-05, the last full fiscal year under a Liberal government.

The government also paid for leases on another 85 SUVs.

Bravo! Keep them oil sands turnin', big wheels keep on turnin'.

David Jeanes, president of the public advocacy group Transport 2000, said: "It's not a good example for the rest of the country."
Mr. Jeanes is making an error here. Conservatives don't set out to set good examples.

More at Where'd That Bug Go.

Update: The Vancouver Province article I quoted seemed to have omitted a paragraph from the story above in both the online and print versions. The Ottawa Citizen article however, carried this additional information.
... more than one-third of the SUVs purchased had gas-electric hybrid engines, which cost more, but offer improved fuel efficiency over conventional SUVs. The department now purchases only "greener" passenger vehicles and mini-vans, except for law enforcement or security uses, Ms. Brosseau said.

Some domestic departments also made large SUV purchases, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of Canada's food supply. The CFIA spent more than $3 million on SUVs last year, compared to $32,236 the year before. The agency says it was replacing an aging fleet of vehicles. All but two of the SUVs purchased were hybrid engines.

Well that's a good thing. There is no information as to the make and model of the hybrid SUVs purchased as yet. Still, the sudden increase in the numbers of SUVs which have entered government service is quite stunning. What precisely did they replace?