Sunday, September 30, 2007

Standing On Guard For Thee: Developments II

More on Alison Bodine, the American anti-war activist who was unlawfully and illegally arrested and detained by Canadian border agents and the RCMP. Since then, she has been in a virtual Limbo without her driver's license and U.S. passport, awaiting for her "admissibility" hearing which had been postponed to September 28, 2007.

Via Alison Bodine Speaks Out!:

Early Friday morning, September 28, 2007, Alison Bodine arrived at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) office in downtown Vancouver for her Admissibility Hearing. Alison is a well-known social justice activist in Vancouver and a central organizer and spokesperson with Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO). She was recently targeted as a political activist and arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency when trying to legally cross the border back into the United States where she is a citizen.


The fight on Sept 28th in the courtroom was brief, but it brought important advances for the Alison Bodine Defence Campaign. After a week of battling for access to more evidence, Alison's lawyer Gabriel Chand, was finally granted the right to get access to any existing initial notes written by the border guards that questioned Alison. In addition, he was finally given the full disclosure. This was an important step forward, as the CBSA prosecuting lawyer tried to argue with Chand's request, but ultimately failed to prevent the right to access this evidence. Due to the introduction of new evidence, the hearing was then adjourned until October 11, 2007.

So, finally Alison Bodine will know how exactly she "misrepresented" herself, thus warranting her initial arrest.

Unfortunately, she still remains in Limbo until her hearing resumes on October 11.

Nevertheless, this is progress - the next step will be to have all these bogus charges dropped once and for all.

Then it will be up to her to seek justice reparations for such abuse of power.

Who knows? Maybe this will awaken the Harper government to institute appropriate controls to prevent such abuse of power on the part of border agents from now on?

Ooops - I guess I was foolish to hope for reason and rationality in such matters, eh?

Oh, well ...

(Cross-posted at NION and at A Creative Revolution)

Welcome To Our Semi-Dark Ages

Near the end of the 1990s, many spoke of the "bridge to the 21st century" - the expression evoking images of greater enlightenment, of enhanced rationality, of increased wisdom, of greater maturity and responsibility, of widespread peace, prosperity and democracy ... of a brave, new and better world awaiting all of us just around the corner, if we would but take the first, resolute step to make its promises a reality.

Instead, we decided that it was too uncertain, too much effort or not quick enough in coming - consequently, we chose instead to retreat within our self-centered selves, rejecting knowledge and reason in favor of fear, ignorance, truthiness and superstition.

Welcome to our Semi-Dark Ages.

As much as we are fortunate to live in this modern era of ours, which is defined by the continuous technological and scientific advances that are meant to increase the chasm between us and our primitive, superstitious outlook of the world and the universe, the overwhelming prevalence of ignorance and irrationality in our supposedly civilized societies leaves us mired in tribalism, intellectual sloth and the constant search for instant gratification.

Indeed, and more than ever, too many among us prefer to wallow in superstition and the super-natural in order to sustain a so-called spiritual need for guidance in life – the sustained prevalence of seers, astrologers, mediums, and other quacks, illustrates well this tragic state of affairs. The same goes with regards to the belief in ghosts, haunts and spirits. Ditto for pseudo-sciences (e.g. homeopathy, crystals, pyramids, chelation, etc.) and the quacks who keep making a fortune in selling their placebo-remedies which are supposed to be miraculous. And let us not forget about everything related to "new age" religions and religious fundamentalism (whether Christian, Muslim, or any other).

More than ever, we would rather be serviced an opinion, like being served fast-food, instead of making the effort to forge an informed one for ourselves. We prefer to wallow body and mind into reality-tv shows, infotainments, games and leisure, instead of putting the effort in exercizing our duties as citizens in our democratically-based societies.

We must have our instant gratification with minimal effort.

This in turn is the root cause for our current tabloid news and politics - a society-wide dumbing down.

That is why the overwhelming majority of politicos are often either timid, "dumb and dumber", or "uber triangulators", all the while seeking to appear as the most toughest and decisive leader-like leader-to-be - no substance, but all appearance ... which is what matters in election years, because that is what we want.

Indeed - the politicos are only responding (or trying to respond) to We The People.

We have become so superficial ourselves that we make our democratic choices based largely on appearances, not on substance.

Why else would haircuts, voice qualities, laughter-sounding acceptability, cleavages, cod-pieces, earthy tones, sighs, and other such vapid and superfluous attibutes constitute important matters in elections?

And don't you dare blame the Media Corporations - considering that they have no qualms at yanking shows that have poor ratings, why do you think they keep serving tabloid infortainment, news, reality shows, game shows and other such tripe? Because. These. Have. High. Ratings.

And who provides such profit-making ratings? We The People.

In the meantime, we - meaning those of us who actually bother to get off their tv couch and go out to vote - keep electing demagogues that "make us feel good, make us feel secure, make us feel at ease, tell us what we want to hear" while rejecting with disdain and mistrust genuine candidates that are actually knowledgeable and better qualified as leaders.

Yes indeed - we can easily blame the politicians, the media, the corporations, the lobbying groups, or anyone else, all we want ... but the painful and ever so tragic truth remains this: we have only ourselves to blame.

We have embraced fear and loathing in the face of terrorists, instead of resolutely standing our ground. We have surrendered our rights and freedoms, instead of clinging to them fiercely.

Why? Because authoritarianism-like security is the quick-fix solution as demanded by our need for instant gratification.

The same goes with the economy, health care and the environment, among others. We act like ostriches in the face of complex issues because "it is too complicated", "too discouraging", or "too unsettling".

We would rather believe the lies because these lies not only reassure us, but they also whisper along the certainty that our need for instant gratification will not be hampered - in short: we want assurances and those quick-fix (non)solutions, which only serve to postpone inevitable consequences to unsolved problems, as opposed to those sobering realistic assessments and those difficult, uneasy, actual solutions which would solve the problems at hand.

Hence, we have embraced ignorance and fear, all the while rejecting reason and rationality.

This is what I previously described as the metastizing cancer on the body democratic.

The so-called Dark Ages are often seen as a period of history characterized by ignorance, superstition and irrational thought, and therefore inhospitable to any logical reasoning or rational activity. Although such a perception of these times constitutes a somewhat popular misconception, let us take a look at what we have accepted (at least via silence) so far, since we crossed that bridge leading us from the 20th century to the 21st one:

We've witnessed attempts to censor science, to control it, to falsify it or rewrite it, to quietly hide it, to brazenly deny funding for it, to change its mission/purpose, to actually lie about it, to use spin games to deny it, to go to great lenghts to confuse people about it, to dismiss it as a matter of differing beliefs or philosophies, or to go as far as to demonize it. This is still going on with regards to global warming - better to fib about it or still seek to deny it, instead of actually accepting the factual science once and for all, along with the real solutions that are needed to solve this dire problem. And what about evolution? Seems like we are back in the 19th century - along with Creation museums and the non-stopping trend to promote the "principle" that creationism and/or ID should be taught in science classes, while firing teachers who suggest that the Bible should not be taken literally.

We've witnessed the resurgence of the politics of fear, ignorance and lies, of the use of barbarous torture (sorry - "enhanced interrogation techniques"), of the waging of wars of choice, of the commission of utter injustices, of the view of the world in a simplistic "Good Vs. Evil" proposition.

We've witnessed (and still do) the repudiation of rational voices, preferring instead to listen to (and reward) the voices of fear-mongering and war-waging, who keep promising us victory, glory, security and peace.

And like those vassals of old, we accept to be fleeced time and again for the betterment of those who already have more than plenty - piously accepting the lie that if the rich get richer, everybody else will benefit somehow in such prosperity.

Al Gore rightly calls all of these things the "assault on reason". Others, yours truly included, call this our Semi-Dark Ages.

For instead of dealing with facts and reality, of using reason and rationality, we prefer to buy the fear-mongering, the spin and the truthiness - after all, the latter require less effort on our part, especially as long as we still get to have our little instant gratifications in the process.

I've said it before, and I say it again: living in a democratic society is a right and a responsibility.

And yes, this responsibility requires effort. But which is better: having your back bent by the effort required to keep on living in a democratic society, or letting leave for complacency and find yourself one day with a back bent under a totalitarian regime - however benevolent it may be?

Therefore, we must ever remain vigilant if we are to preserve our democratic values and institutions ... just like we will have to bear the shame of having forsaken them because of intellectual sloth, ignorance, fear, selfishness and the search for instant gratification.

Granted - distilled to its pure essence, the purpose of the non-partisan and progressive blogospheres is to maintain a continual conversation and exchange of ideas based on facts and reality, not on right-wing spin, religious fundamentalist regressive dogma or fantasy-based viewing of the world. Participation in the blogosphere thus represents a redemption of sort, acting as an environment which fuels a renewed and maintained participation in our democracy-based societies.

But out of the whole population eligible to vote, what fraction does the blogosphere represents?

Not enough by far, I'm afraid.

Consequently, and to paraphrase someone else, we must strive further for the acceptance of a reality that is based on the scientific method and the primacy of rational thought.

So, let us leave these Semi-Dark Ages that we have foolishly trusted upon ourselves and instead enter at last a New Age of Enlightenment - as promised by that "bridge to the 21st century".

It is, in the end, up to us.

It has always been up to us.

(Cross-posted at DKos, at Progressive Historians, at NION, at Revolt Today, at Diatribune, and at A Creative Revolution)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A "Phony" Soldier Speaks

(Updated below)

Rush Limbaugh thinks that all those vets who are against the Iraq war (and/or Afghanistan war) are phony soldiers.

This coming from a Vietnam-era deferment-seeker and overall draft-dodger.

Well, one Iraq vet speaks out - go read this here, it is well worth it.

Never have I seen so many "phony" soldiers ...

Which makes me wonder: if these men and women are "phony" soldiers, what does this make all those chickenhawks, 101st Fighting Keyboarders, Kanuckle Keyboard Kommados and other assorted cowardly false patriots?

(h/t to DKos and Newshoggers)

Update: 09/28/2007 - Via Crooks and Liars, have released a video add to put Limbaugh back in his place. In addition, The Carpetbagger Report exposes the Faux News attacks on U.S. generals who keep disagreeing with the wrong-headed policies of the incompetent Bush administration. C&L have also more on the continuing smackdown good old cowardly Rush is getting - and may this serve as a lesson to all those real phonies out there.

APOV's Saturday Weekly Revue (09/29/2007)

Since it's Friday Saturday, then it is time for another Friday Weekly Revue - Saturday Edition!

Here is this week's menu of thought-provoking and knowledge-filling Haute Blogging appetizers, entrées and main courses.

This week in God - proposed by Chef The Carpetbagger Report;

The blog factor - proposed by Chef The Fifth Estate.

Bad leaders wield the power of a war culture - proposed by Chef OpEdNews (Note: this dish is loosely derived from a classic one named The Eight Principles of Incompetence, composed by yours truly a while ago);

The coup of 2012, revisited - proposed by Chef DKos;

Only Jesusistan churches can talk politics - proposed by Chef Reconstitution;

Peace requires real strenght - proposed by Chef NION.

Main courses:
Arctic potpourri - proposed by Chef Dymaxion World;

Whaddaya know? - proposed by Chef Les Enragés;

The Blackwater debate - proposed by Chef Booman Tribune;

Blackwater: are you scared yet? - proposed by Chef Firedoglake;

Terrorism Awareness Project: the 21st century's "Red Scare" movement - proposed by Chef Diatribune;

Burma, Bush and oil - proposed by Chef Liberal Catnip;

PTSD and you - proposed by Chef Anything They Say;

When America went fascist - proposed by Chef OpEdNews;

America in crisis - proposed by Chef Thomas Paine's Corner.

As always, bottles of wine, desserts and coffee are on the house.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Ignorance

Tonight's triple-shot Ode goes to all those intellectual sloth-driven, ignorant incompetent human beings out there - you know, those who deny science, evolution, global warming, reality, and so on ... all those primitive minds who feel safe only in their obtuse and closed caves of shadows and ignorance.

To start things off, we first go to the Stone Temple Pilots - Vasoline:

(Lyrics below the video)

One time a thing occured to me
What's real, and what's for sale?
Blew a kiss and tried to take it home

It isn't you, isn't me
Search for things that you can't see
Going blind, out of reach
Somewhere in the vaseline

Two times and it has rendered me
Punch drunk and without bail
Think I'd be safer all alone
Flies in the vasoline we are
Sometimes it blows my mind
Keep getting stuck here all the time

You'll see the look and youll see the lies
You'll eat the lies, and you will.

It isn't you, isn't me
Search for things that you can't see
Going blind, out of reach
Somewhere in the vasoline.

Next, we have Nirvana - In Bloom:

(Lyrics below the video)

Sell the kids for food
Weather changes moods
Spring is here again
Pray for darker grounds

He's the one
He likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he dont know what it means
Dont know what it means
And I say
He's the one
He likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yea.

We can have some more
Nature is a whore
Bruises on the fruit
Tender age in bloom

He's the one
He likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yea.

And last, but not least ... Metallica - Master of Puppets:

(Lyrics below the video)

End of passion play, crumbling away
I'm your source of self-destruction
Veins that pump with fear, sucking darkest clear
Leading on your deaths construction
Taste me you will see
More is all you need
You're dedicated to
How I'm killing you

Come crawling faster
Obey your Master
Your life burns faster
Obey your Master
Master of Puppets I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
Blinded by me, you can't see a thing
Just call my name, `cause I'll hear you scream
Just call my name, `cause I'll hear you scream

Needlework the way, never you betray
Life of death becoming clearer
Pain monopoly, ritual misery
Chop your breakfast on a mirror
Taste me you will see
More is all you need
You're dedicated to
How I'm killing you

Come crawling faster
Obey your Master
Your life burns faster
Obey your Master
Master of Puppets I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
Blinded by me, you can't see a thing
Just call my name, `cause I'll hear you scream
Just call my name, `cause I'll hear you scream

Master, Master, Where's the dreams that I've been after?
Master, Master, You promised only lies
Laughter, Laughter, All I hear and see is laughter
Laughter, Laughter, laughing at my cries
Hell is worth all that, natural habitat
Just a rhyme without a reason
Neverending maze, drift on numbered days
Now your life is out of season

Come crawling faster
Obey your Master
Your life burns faster
Obey your Master
Master of Puppets I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
Blinded by me, you can't see a thing
Just call my name, `cause I'll hear you scream
Just call my name, `cause I'll hear you scream

And for the rest of you who are actually awaken to reality, with open and non-primitive minds, I sayeth to thee - keep on rockin'!

Iran Watch: Week Three (09/28/2007)

Time again to put in review and perspective what has happened this last week with regards to Operation Enduring Propaganda and a looming confrontation with Iran.

Hence, let us see what Iran Watch: Week Three has brought us.

Item 1: But first, a mandatory message from Operation Enduring Propaganda.

The Muslims are coming! The Muslims have nukes! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!

... and all because of Canada!!! Dixit Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado): "With the possible exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere else in the world". And dixit Senate Finance Comm. Chair Max Baucus (D-Montana): "Say I'm in Canada and I want to make a dirty bomb. How easily can I do so?"

(Do I really need to comment on these inane, fear-mongering and insulting statements? Blame Canada indeed ... now excuse me while I seek to ditch my dirty bomb, which I won't be using after all, considering that now the U.S. is fully aware of the threat posed by us scheming and nefarious Canadians and our dirty, dirty, nuke bombs. Damn it - foiled again, eh?)

Item 2: He came, he saw and he ridiculed himself. Iranian President Ahmadinejad came to the U.S. and, as expected, said many a "crazy" thing which overshadowed his more rational and stately comments and statements. Also as expected, his presence as well as his "craziness" only spurred on all those who seek to demonize him and his country as Public Enemy Number One - thanks once again to a complicit and all too eager-to-please MSM to ratchet up the fear and loathing.

What else can Iran do, but try as best as it can to warn and show that it would not be an easy prey should the U.S. attack, while seeking to join the increasingly expanding anti-U.S. club?

And thus the war rhetoric and tensions continue to escalate ...

Which brings me to -

Item 3: Keep on making that casus belli - any which way you can! Case in point: Iran is now supplying the Taliban? Not so, says the U.N.. Who cares, replies the U.S., since we say the Iranians are guilty! And to show that we have "proof" and that we are that much certain and convinced, adds the U.S., our very own Senate approved a non-binding amendment (co-sponsored by - who else? - Have-At-Iran-Joe-Lieberman) to the 2008 Defence Authorisation bill which calls for the Bush administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) "a foreign terrorist organisation". So, there!

Item 4: Deny, deny, deny - gotta keep those proper appearances while we're preparing war, no? Indeed. News came out that Unitary Regent Dick Cheney considered provoking an exchange of military strikes between Iran and Israel, in order to give the U.S. a pretext to attack Iran. The denials of this were not long in coming. But the real question is: are those denials of the same nature as those previously professed to the American public prior to the Iraq invasion? Hmmmm ...

Meanwhile, on a so not related item, the U.S. Air Force has set up what some have called a perfect plan for an Iran strike, complete with its elite fighting wing. Also totally unrelated, the U.S. military is building an Iraq base next to the border with Iran ... while U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates seeks $190 billion more for war funding (h/t Taylor Marsh).

Which reminds me of that silly article I wrote previously which asked and answered the question "why must the Iraq surge at least appear successful?". Interestingly, other folks are now arriving to the same conclusions as yours truly, i.e. that the "success" of the Iraq surge goes through Iran and that the Iraq war will be quickly forgotten once the Iran war begins - as it happened with Afghanistan. Also, others have come to the dreadful realization of what I've been saying for a while, now: instead of true diplomacy and patient engagement, it is all about confrontation and waging more war in order to bring about the neocons' wet dreams to reality.

I guess I was not so silly after all, eh?

And speaking of silliness ...

Item 5: Whereby voices of reason are being essentially ignored ... again. Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has likened U.S. officials' saber rattling about Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions to similar statements made before the start of the Iraq war. Likewise, CentCom Commander Admiral William Fallon warned that constant talk of bombing Iran is not helpful. Well, double-duh - then again, who is really listening outside of the progressive blogosphere (one more example here)?

That is why Bush can, and will, get away with an attack on Iran (h/t to Anything They Say).

And that, as they say, is that with Iran Watch: Week Three.

As always, I'm hoping that I will have nothing to report on next week's installment ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why Did Senator John Kerry Stand Idly By?


Naïve Americans who think they live in a free society should watch the video filmed by students at a John Kerry speech September 17, Constitution Day, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

At the conclusion of Kerry’s speech, Andrew Meyer, a 21-year old journalism student was selected by Senator Kerry to ask a question. Meyer held up a copy of BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast’s book, Armed Madhouse, and asked if Kerry was aware that Palast’s investigations determined that Kerry had actually won the election. Why, Meyer asked, had Kerry conceded the election so quickly when there were so many obvious examples of vote fraud? Why, Meyer, went on to ask, was Kerry refusing to consider Bush’s impeachment when Bush was about to initiate another act of military aggression, this time against Iran?

At this point the public’s protectors—the police—decided that Meyer had said too much. They grabbed Meyer and began dragging him off. Meyer said repeatedly, “I have done nothing wrong,” which under our laws he had not. He threatened no one and assaulted no one.

Full article...

punditman says: More on this most disturbing incident. Again, the video can be found here.
The rights of citizens in so-called democracies are being trampled upon. That means you Bubba! It is happening people, in the US, in Canada, the UK...are we just going to sit back and let it happen? If so, one day we will have only ourselves to blame.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gone Fishin' - Again!

That's right - gotta do the science thing again.

This time, I'm leaving the APOV HQ in order to leave for Kingston (ON), to attend (and give a talk at) the Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit (GIDRU) Inaugural Symposium.

Consequently, I'll be absent from Tuesday 09/25/2007 to Friday 09/28/2007 late afternoon.

Hence, the following regular APOV features will be postponed:
Iran Watch - Week 3 will be posted Friday 09/28/2007 evening;

APOV's Weekly Revue - will be posted Saturday 09/29/2007 afternoon;

Late Friday Night Ode to ... - will be posted Saturday 09/29/2007 evening.
But do not forget: Punditman and Ron West will still be around here at APOV HQ - who knows what they'll be cooking up and serving? (I sure don't!) ;-)

Regular blogging schedules on my part will be resuming thereafter (no foreseeable scientific symposia/meetings/conventions to attend for the next 3-4 months or so!).

Before I leave you, good folks, allow me to provide you with some food for thought in parting - care of Rush; Freewill:

(lyrics below the video)

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
With a host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars arent aligned -
Or the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

There are those who think that they've been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them -
They werent born in lotus-land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You cant pray for a place
In heavens unearthly estate

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
Thats far too fleet ...

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

See you folks again Friday - in the meantime, keep on rockin'!

When The MSM Finally Asks Hard Questions About Domestic Spying

(Granted - this article is about the Canadian MSM and warrantless domestic spying in Canada - but all questions, points and warnings herein apply as much to the U.S.A., the U.K. and Australia, among many other democratic societies of our world).

Before I begin, allow me to refresh your memories.

Back in July early 2007, I asked the following question with regards to the extent of undisclosed/illegal domestic spying in Canada:
Considering the propensity of (Prime Minister) Harper and his Harpies in mimicking and integrating with the Bushies, and considering how said Bushies have no qualms about illegal surveillance operations on their own citizens, I find myself asking this dreadful question: to what extent has the Harper government been allowing similar illegal electronic surveillance on Canadians (presumably by the RCMP and CSIS), and to what extent is such data shared with the U.S.A.?

This question later evolved around early-to-mid August into the following:
Considering A) the propensity of the current Canadian (neocon) government to not only follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration, but to actually emulate it; B) the clearly established propensity of the Bush administration to spy and monitor (illegally or not) and, as in many other things, lie and lie about it, then ask for more; C) the demonstrated stance of the Bush administration to demand full information-sharing from Canada and yet arrogantly refusing to disclose all its knowledge (if it really has any) concerning Maher Arar in support of its decision to keep him on the terrorist watch list; D) the demonstrated propensity of the RCMP and CSIS to unquestioningly share data with the FBI and the CIA; E) the still remaining lack of oversight of the RCMP and CSIS; F) the fact that the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE) — the functional equivalent of the NSA — may be authorized once again to perform the same kind of domestic spying in Canada as in the U.S.A., as it was authorized before; and G) the now-apparent primacy of the Third-Party Rule in Canada;

I) To which extent is the privacy of Canadian citizens being illegally invaded, through indiscriminate sharing of private information and data, for the benefit of the FBI and CIA - in clear violation of our privacy of information laws?

II) To which extent Canadian citizens are being illegally spied and monitored, either by the RCMP, CSIS, the CSE, the FBI, the CIA or the NSA, in clear violation of our constitutional rights?

And last, but not least, III) Why is there not a single Canadian MSM journalist currently asking these questions?
Then, back around mid-September, the news came out that the Harper government was conducting secret consultations on the means to lessen or abrogate the need for court-approved warrants by police (and/or Canadian security agencies) in order to acquire private information on citizens held my internet and telecommunications companies.

Caught with his pants down, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day back-tracked on many levels, including opening up the consultations and setting a new deadline at October 12 for sending memorandums/representations to the consultation panel.

However, many questions remained unanswered, including those put forth by yours truly.

Then 'lo and behold - Douglas Todd wrote a lengthy article this past Saturday in the Vancouver Sun, titled: "Who's making the decisions on privacy vs. security?

And after reading it, I ended up saying: Yes! Finally! Finally someone is asking the hard questions in an MSM outlet!

So - do go and read it as well!

What I applauded the most was the following passage (emphasis mine):
"In other words, it has not only been because of the Sept. 11 attacks that Canada's privacy commission Jennifer Stoddart said "a voracious appetite for personal information and surveillance has sprung up."

Electronic surveillance is now a $40-billion-a-year enterprise in North America, says Newsweek. In 2005, USA Today broke the story that U.S. spy agencies had collected data on billions of telephone calls made by ordinary Americans.
And this one (emphasis mine):
"Rather than being silent in the face of increased government surveillance, at the minimum citizens should demand transparent legislation and rigorous debate over every heightened security measure being considered.

Without such discourse, governments will fail to gather public support for trade-offs between security and privacy. They may also forget that, when in doubt, freedom, as the director says, should be the highest value.
Again: Yes, yes, yes! Thank you, Mr. Todd!

Although he fails to answer one question he himself put forth in the beginning of his piece, namely "Which should prevail: Protection from Osama Bin Laden or freedom from the prying eyes of various governments?", preferring instead to remain neutral on the question, he nevertheless brings forth two major points which should - and must - be repeated over and over again in any debate concerning the surrendering of our privacy and liberties in the sacrosanct name of Security:

A) 9/11 was only an opportunity to grab as much warrantless domestic spying power as possible, since security agencies have always been so bent (it is the nature of the beast - see below) and security firms have always lobbied actively to peddle their own electronic surveillance products (and still do even more since then). Consequently, the idea that we must surrender our privacy and liberties in order to be safe from terrorism is, plainly put, a fear-driven bill of goods being sold to us;

B) Governments, especially law and security enforcement agencies, will always seek to gather and keep any and all data on all citizens if they are not prevented to do this without probable cause and court-approved warrants. Hence, they will cast the "widest net" possible if they are allowed to, and any claims to the contrary on their part is pure B.S.. Therefore, we must stand our ground and refuse to surrender to the fear of terrorism.

As I said before: the security agencies of Canada and the U.S.A. have been exposed not as seekers of truth, but as seekers of guilt.

Now, take the latter into account along with Colin Powell's recent admission (emphasis mine):
"What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"
It has been said often by others and yours truly, but it bears repeating yet again:

We have met the enemy and it is ourselves.

We are the real problem with terrorism.

It is up to us to have the courage to stand up for our rights and our privacy.

It has always been up to us. Period.

(Cross-posted at A Creative Revolution and at DKos)

CNN Video - War With Iran Has Begun

punditman says: Discussion on CNN with Col. Sam Gardiner who clearly states that the war in Iran is already underway and that a second phase of overt military action will soon begin.

This old video bears repeating considering the increased saber rattling lately.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Limits Of Ignorance

Science - and the scientific method - constitute a process of fact-based and experimental demonstration-supported inquiry which allows Humanity to gain further understanding of the inner workings of the Universe, of Life and, ultimately, of ourselves - from all their complexities to the minutest of details. Such an inquiry has been taking place since the dawn of Humanity, who wondered about the growth and death of living things and of themselves, about weather phenomena (thunder, lightning, etc.), about those lights in the night skies, about sickness and health, about who they are and where they came from.

After centuries upon centuries of patient and dedicated refinement of the scientific method, allowing us to gain greater knowledge and understanding of Nature in so doing, science keeps finding itself increasingly under attack of late.

The culprits of such attacks? Primitive minds who fear to even catch a glimpse of reality which defines us, the world and the rest of the universe, and who's mysteries continue being revealed year after year of dedicated and patient scientific investigating, one tiny step at a time - all because such new and ever increasing understanding threatens their cozy, comfortable and intellectual sloth-driven ignorance and blind faith in a Creator God.

Case in point:

Today's column from one conservative Christian columnist David Warren, titled "The limits of science".

In said column, Mr. Warren endeavors to prove his conclusion that: "(...) none of the methods of empirical science are of any value at all, except by way of analogy and illustration, when we turn from the empirical realm to questions of "first causes," and the underlying conditions of human knowledge, faith and belief, that are dealt with in philosophy and, ultimately, theology."

You see, since the dawn of Humanity, the human imagination has constructed ideas to explain those mysteries which presented themselves every day and throughout every single human being's life experience. Hence, for quite a long time, paranormal "forces" explained all of what occured in the world and in the universe - spirits (mineral, vegetal, animal or human ones), phantoms (good or evil) and, of course, Gods, were behind it all. Because human beings reasoned, they automatically assumed that all things reasoned as well - but because they could not communicate with such forces or natural phenomena, it was the results and effects of the latter which defined said phenomena and their "attributed" spirits, phantoms or Gods.

We've had Wind Spirits, Sun Gods, Death Gods, Bad Luck Imps, Disease Demons, Guilty Conscience-Tormenting Ghosts, River Fairies, Sea Mermaids, Angry Thunder Gods, Good Humor (health) and Bad Humor (sickness) Sprites, Moon Goddesses, Bear Spirits, Wolf Spirits, Owl Spirits, Tree of Life, and so on and so forth.

Gradually, Gods became increasingly defined as paragons of human values, attibutes and/or dispositions, thus becoming more prevalent than spirits, ghosts and the like within the myths which were constructed to explain things like the birth of the World, the birth of Man, and other phenomena of Nature.

And when human beings began living in towns and cities, their Gods came to live with them - and thus Gods were viewed increasingly a Godly Humans who dwelled in specific, physical places.

Thus Humanity built houses (temples) to their Gods, thinking that those they worshiped as means to explain Life and the Universe would reside there - just like mortals lived in their own houses.

This was a significant evolutionary step for Gods.

Nevertheless - all those "explanations" of Life and the Universe through the actions of spirits or Gods were so far based on analogy and illustration.

Then came the "Greek Awakening", bringing us rational thinking, logic and philosophy.

This historic landmark of Humanity's road to increasing maturity was indeed most significant, because then the human imagination was not deemed enough anymore. Fantasy stories may be entertaining, especially told or written by talented and imaginative storytellers, but in the end they failed at fully explaining what was really going on all about Humanity, as well as within itself.

Hence, this was a significant step in creating the scientific method - a cornerstone event, yes ... but still not sufficient enough.

You see, logical thinking and reasoning does rely on knowledge - but when the knowledge used to base one's reasoning is wrong to begin with, then what we'll all too often get as a result is what we call today "garbage in, garbage out".

The classic example of this is the geocentric model of the Earth being at the center of the universe, whereas the Moon, the Sun and the stars revolve around our planet. This explanation was derived logically from simple visual observations and, consequently, became accepted as dogma. It was from this false knowledge that too many astronomers endeavored to logically construct models which would show how all heavenly bodies in the universe revolved around the Earth.

In other words, they would ask the question "How do the heavenly bodies move around the world?", thus assuming that they did to begin with ... because their own eyes would show this.

No one ever thought about the illusion of movement granted to one who stands on a bridge and looks down on the running waters below.

Furthermore, philosophy had similar - if not worse - inherent problems. That is why it has always been characterized by various "warring" schools of thinking who espoused specific views and concepts, all derived through reasoning and logical (but experimentally unproven) assertions, thus arguing without end and with nothing but hot air. And even when one such school would gain primacy, it did not mean at all that it held the "truth" - because of the simple reality of "garbage in, garbage out".

Hence, philosophy remained - and still does - as much a prisoner of analogy and illustration, just like theology (whether in its previous, simplistic myth-making incarnation or its current one).

That is when two other major historical landmarks occured.

One was the increasing need not just to observe and derive explanations (theories) for said observations, but for experimental demonstrations of said explanations. In other words, this gave the birth to the scientific theory, which must not only be based on observations but, if it is "right", it will predict experimental results and/or additional observations. If experimental results/observations differ from what the theory predicts, then the theory is either flawed (and needs to be reworked) or is plainly wrong (and another will take its place - only to be likewise relentlessly "tested" in turn).

The other was the subtle but quite significant change in the way questions in scientific investigations were asked: instead of asking "How", which assumes potentially false knowledge to be "true" (or as dogma - see above), investigators began asking "Why", which turns out not to assume anything to begin with. Furthermore, asking "Why" gave birth to the scientific hypothesis, which must be verified by observation and experimental results. Once a hypothesis is thus verified, it becomes an established observation or fact of reality.

Hence, a solid scientific theory will be comprised of one or numerous verified hypotheses, all backed by repeated experimental and verifiable demonstrations, in addition to offer an overall explanation of all these results underlying a phenomenon, as well as predicting the outcome of other experiments. Eventually, a scientific theory who has been proven time and time and time again to be right becomes accepted as a Law of Nature.

Therein you have the essence and purpose of the scientific method.

A classic example of these two breakthroughs in defining the scientific method begins first with Copernicus. He asked "Why do all heavenly bodies revolve around the Earth?", thus not assuming the above-mentioned geocentric model to be dogma. The result? He devised observational experiments, compiled the data and realized that only the Moon orbited around the Earth, but neither the Sun or the other heavenly bodies. And from that same data, he proposed his heliocentric hypothesis - i.e. the planets, including Earth, orbit around the Sun.

Of course, we all know the effect his discovery had on all the prevailing primitive minds of his time ... he was attacked while this newly emerging scientific method was condemned already as Godless and going against the Holy Scriptures.

Because, to paraphrase David Warren above, the only value of the scientific method is "by way of analogy and illustration" - like theology and philosophy.

Then came Galileo. Building on Copernicus' work, he not only further demonstrated the validity of the heliocentric hypothesis, he further refined it as a bona fides explanation (i.e. scientific theory), which not long after his passing became accepted as a Law of Nature - i.e. this is how our solar system is organized, and Earth is but the third planet among others which orbits around its primary star which we call the Sun.

And again, we all know what happened to Galileo, as the primitive minds reacted with renewed outrage at this "science" which dared to not only contradict the comfortable and reassuring ignorance-based Holy Dogmas, but also had the unmitigated gall to take it upon itself to demonstrate and prove its explanations - quite unlike theology and philosophy!

And therein lies the "threat" posed by science, which not only seeks to understand and explain reality, but furthermore strives to ensure the validity of its explanations.

Which means: question everything that is not supported by facts or which has not been demonstrated or proven as a fact.

Again, quite unlike theology and philosophy - who rely solely on imagination and logical argumentation or, in other words, solely on analogy and illustration.

Another shining example of the scientific method contributing in actually revealing and explaning our reality is Louis Pasteur - he not only explained the fermentation process and why we get sick - i.e. "it's the bacteria and other microorganisms, stupid!" - but he also shot down in flames once and for all, through experimental demonstration, another ignorance-based dogma called spontaneous generation - which was supported largely by the creationists of the time.

Then, of course, there is Darwin who proposed his scientific theory known as evolution.

A scientific theory which has been supported and proven and demonstrated over and over and over again - especially thanks to the modern fields of cellular biology, molecular biology and genetics.

Evolution is inching closer and closer to becoming a genuine Law of Nature - like the Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Electricity-Magnetism, the Law of Gravity, the Law of General and Restrained Relativity, the Laws of Genetic Inheritance, etc., etc., etc..

Let us return to Mr. Warren as he demonstrates his utter ignorance and non-understanding of the crucial distinctions between science and theology/philosophy. I have picked three choice excerpts from him; first excerpt:
"(...) I have discovered that this useful word, "scientism," appears in too few English dictionaries (...) The purveyor of scientism is not necessarily an incompetent, or irresponsible, or even a mediocre scientist, in his own narrow field of specialization; always supposing he has some genuine expertise in any field at all. While he is frequently all of these things, too, they are not what define his pronouncements as "scientistic." Rather, the label "scientism" applies to all who imagine that natural science, and the methods of natural science, take precedence before, and have authority over, every other field of human reasoning and perception. To a truly "scientistic" worldview, not only philosophy and theology, but psychology, art, culture, law, and general morality, are answerable not to their own terms of reference, but to some authority in a lab coat who has bred clouds of deformed fruitflies, and killed a lot of mice."
Like the primitive mind that he is, Mr. Warren seeks to mislabel all scientists who dare to outline the fundamental differences between science and theology/philosophy, and how such differences are critical in deciding whether one accepts scientific facts as opposed to believe in religious/philosophical dogmas.

And of course, his petty intellectual sloth-driven mind makes him contemptuous and dismissive of scientists by grossly mischaracterizing and stereotyping them as "lab coats who have bred clouds of deformed fruitflies, and killed a lot of mice" and thus without any validity whatsoever. After all, how dare scientists demonstrate and prove their explanations, when theology/philosophy are incapable of even attempting the same?

Hence, science is geeky, cold, no-social-skill, lab-enclosed sillyness while religious values and myths are serious and humanly fullfilling. Science is detached from reality, unlike theology and philosophy! And those who seek to show what science is truly about and demonstrate its validity in seeking to explain the universe are guilty of "ignorance" (talk about accusing others of what one actually is!).

Nevertheless, that is essentially what those like Mr. Warren said at the time to Copernicus, Mendel, Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Darwin and so many others. That is what Mr. Warren is saying to all current scientists - including yours truly.

Second excerpt:
"'Darwinists' - which is to say, those exponents of scientism who have elevated the general principles of Darwin's quaint Victorian evolutionary scheme to a form of religious orthodoxy, and defend it by traditional fanatical means, from heretic-hunting to the commission of pious frauds.


The philosophical position corresponding to scientism is called "Positivism," and was systematized by Auguste Comte (the man who coined the term "sociology") in the 19th century. He was building upon the revolutionary heritage of the French Enlightenment; but he was also expressing the God-like aspirations of parlour atheism in the Victorian age -- its "determinism," or faith that once everything is known, everything can be predicted. Lamarckianism, Darwinism, Marxism, Freudianism, and Phrenology were, to my mind, five other expressions of this naive determinism, that belong today in a Museum of Failed Victorian Ideas.
Here, Mr. Warren falls into the usual trap that his ignorance-based primitive mind ilk always fall into. Since they are either incapable of understanding, or refuse to understand, how the scientific method works (as I vulgarized above), they still think of science as they do of philosophy and theology - i.e. it is all about logical reasoning and what one believes it to be sound or not. Hence, those that have accepted the reality of evolution are in fact believers, in the primitive minds of Mr. Warren and his ilk, like any other kind of philosophical school of thought or any other religion.

Furthermore, ignorants like Mr. Warren always go back to the "Victorian" era, seeing science as still largely about philosophical reasoning and equating it with other "isms", all the while willfully refusing to acknowledge the actual reality of what science has become, how it works and what it does.

Hence, science is the same as philosophy and theology - again, an ignorance-based view in the little minds of Mr. Warren and his ilk.

This is, of course, the convenient way to attempt to dismiss evolution and the overwhelming and undeniable scientific support it has, as I mentioned above.

So in essence, what Mr. Warren is saying is that scientists run on faith, not on demonstration - like philosophy and theology.

Therein lies the limitations of ignorance that have always been displayed by the deniers of scientifc facts, as still displayed today by Mr. Warren and his ilk.

Science is not, and can not, by virtue of the scientific method, be a matter of faith.

Science is about acceptance of demonstrated facts which explain our reality. Period.

Having said this, let us amuse ourselves further at the expense of Mr. Warren's shameful ignorance with this third and last excerpt from his feuille de chou of a column:
"The word "science" means simply "knowledge," and in grasping that we can immediately see that the methods of science vary with the particular discipline. The kind of precision that is possible in physics and chemistry is simply not available to the student of biology and natural history. The kind of condescension that is possible in studying plants and animals, is simply not tenable in studying human beings. And so on. Those who, like the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, define "science" in a way to cross all fields, do a terrible disservice to the cause of science, by designing a straitjacket for it.

About the most that can be reasonably said is that science is "knowledge" of an especially technical kind, gleaned by empirical reasoning from testable material evidence (...)
This is what you get from someone who has absolutely no idea what one is attempting to talk about - including a further displayed ignorance of the scientific method.

First, Mr. Warren is plainly and flatly wrong about the lack of precision in biological sciences - to this effect, I give you again cellular biology, molecular biology and genetics ... as but three examples among so many.

Then he speaks of condescension in studying animals and plants. Aside from the fact that the only condescension observed here is throughout Mr. Warren's column, he willfully refuses of course to acknowledge that human beings are but a species on this planet, an animal like all others, evolved like all others.

In essence, he is calling for the end of any scientific inquiries with regards to the human being - whether biomedical, genetic, etc.. - in other words: let us remain ignorant so that we rely only on theology and philosophy ... like we did in those ancient times.

And to say that science is "knowledge of an especially technical kind" futher illustrates Mr. Warren's severe affliction of intellectual sloth and shameful ignorance.

Knowledge has always been used by human beings to devise new technological applications, ever since the dawn of Humanity. As we further understand Life, the structure of Matter, the Universe, and Ourselves, we devise new ways from such knowledge to improve our daily living conditions, our daily activities, our health, our means of transportation, and so on and so forth.

As we undertand more, we are able to create better tools and means to improve our lives.

And in turn, we devise improved and/or new means to continue our scientific inquiries into Life, the Universe, and Ourselves.

That is how we keep maturing not only as civilizations, but also as a self-aware, abstract-thinking species.

That is what we do, it is the very essence of who and what we are.

Unless, of course, one is a primitive mind like Mr. Warren and his Christianist ilk - who keep reminding us of the infantile stage of maturation we would still be stuck into, had we chosen to remain cloistered within the cave-like confines imposed by the limits of ignorance which have ever been promulgated and espoused by primitive minds like them.

(Cross-posted at DKos, at Revolt Today, at Suzie-Q, and at Progressive Historians)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Late Saturday Night Ode To ... Blackwater

Need I say more?

First, some background video information on what Blackwater is and what it has been doing:

And now for the ode to Blackwater, brought to you by Metallica - Fade To Black.

(Lyrics below the video)

Life it seems, will fade away;
Drifting further every day.
Getting lost within myself,
Nothing matters, no one else.
I have lost the will to live,
Simply nothing more to give.
There is nothing more for me,
Need the end to set me free.

Things are not what they used to be;
Missing one inside of me.
Deathly lost, this can't be real -
Cannot stand this hell I feel.
Emptiness is filing me
To the point of agony.
Growing darkness taking dawn;
I was me, but now He's gone.
No one but me can save myself, but it's too late.
Now I can't think, think why I should even try;
Yesterday seems as though it never existed.
Death greets me warm, now I will just say good-bye.

Now for a bonus ode to Blackwater, brought to you by Iron Maiden - The Mercenary.

(Lyrics below the video)

Pay to kill, die to lose, hunted, hunter which are you;
Diablo come again to make trophies out of men.
Lose your skin, lose your skull, one by one the sack is full;
In the heat dehydrate, know which breath will be your last.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,
You've got to kill to stay alive;
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,
You've got to kill to stay alive.

Show them no fear, show them no pain;
Show them no fear, show them no pain;
Show them no fear, show them no pain;
Show them no fear, show them no pain.

Human heart, human mind, intellect intertwined;
Focus sharp in the night, watch the jungle burning bright.
Toe to toe throw the line, everyone's caught hand tied;
Iron will, iron fist, how could it have come to this?

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,
You've got to kill to stay live;
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,
You've got to kill to stay alive.

Show them no fear, show them no pain;
Show them no fear, show them no pain;
Show them no fear, show them no pain;
Show them no fear, show them no pain.

As always - keep on rockin'!

APOV's Saturday Weekly Revue (09/22/2007)

Since it's Friday Saturday, then it is time for another Friday Weekly Revue - Saturday Edition!

Here is this week's menu of brain-nutritive and -filling Haute Blogging appetizers, entrées and main courses.

Blackwater's new publicity flyer - proposed by Chef Who Hijacked Our Country?;

What right-wing armchair warriors are really about - proposed by Chef Canadian Cynic.

Dear Afghanistan President Karzai: please STFU - proposed by Chef Impolitical;

Selling Canada down the river - proposed by Chef A Creative Revolution;

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza made worse ... again - proposed by Chef Liberal Catnip;

Is it too late for America? - proposed by Chef The Huffington Post.

Main courses:
We are not THAT country - proposed by Chef Daily Kos;

Meet the REAL moonbats - proposed by Chef Diatribune;

Who's looking out for you? - proposed by Chef Firedoglake;

The F-bomb - proposed by Chef Leftopia;

A requiem for Republicans - proposed by Chef Ideal Thoughts;

Let's break the law to fight crime, eh? - proposed by Chef The Natural Society;

The evitable and unthinkable catastrophe-to-be - proposed by Chef Total Information Awareness;

Don't give where it can't help - proposed by Chef Seiche;

The takeover of American democracy - proposed by Chef D-Day.

Bottle of wine, dessert and coffee are on the house.


Camouflage, Ribbons and Social Control

punditman says...

What’s up with all the camouflage folks? Everywhere I go, it is camouflage pants, skirts, caps, tops, backpacks, jackets, headbands, snow suits and dog leashes. Grandmas, school children, middle aged pot bellies--name a demographic--and you will see them sporting their earthy tones.

You know your country is at war when the most popular fashion statement around is combat apparel. Does this mean that everyone who wears camouflage supports Canada’s mission in Afghanistan? I doubt it. The latest polls certainly suggest otherwise. So as a fashion statement (or is that “fascist” statement?), you are, ah, trying to blend in with the plastic foliage in the shopping mall?

I don’t get it.

After all, the idea of camouflage is to make one’s self the same as the surrounding environment. Then again, at this rate, the growing sea of green, brown, tan, grey and black splotches may soon turn out to be weirdly analogous to the garb once worn by crowds at Grateful Dead concerts: everyone wore tie-dye and everyone blended in. But that didn't make everyone a hippie—especially so-called “Deadhead” Ann Coulter.

Wearing camouflage used to signify one of two things: the person was either in the armed forces or was setting out on a different sort of mission that involved drinking tons of beer and killing furry creatures in a forest somewhere. But nowadays, the whole idea of hunting (humans or animals, that is), has been demoted by those who dress like G.I. Joe just because they are out hunting for a latte or an Ipod.

Grow a brain, people. This is all about the militarization of our culture.

This past summer I considered buying a new Wilson tennis racquet to replace my old “Hyper Hammer 5.2” frame. But when I went shopping I was informed that the latest incarnation of my old racquet is now called the "Surge.” Is it just coincidence that this corporate branding coincided with the name of Bush’s plan to increase the number of American troops deployed to the Iraq War? I think not. I found a new version of my old racquet online. Somehow it sounds more benign.

Along with camouflage, Canada is now beset by an overabundance of “Support Our Troops” ribbons, t-shirts, bracelets and mugs. You can’t go anywhere without seeing the telltale yellow ribbon on cars. Come to think of it, some are camouflaged. It is high time that the elephant in the room is asked the obvious question that polite Canadians would rather avoid: What does “Support Our Troops” really mean?

Those who decorate their vehicles thusly would have us believe that the decals are politically neutral symbols of support for soldiers overseas. This is nonsense and they know it. The intended audience are those of us who forego yellow ribbons. If you think about it, the phrase “Support Our Troops” is sort of bossy, like a drill sargent’s snarl. This is known in grammatical circles as the “imperative mood.” Therefore the directive to “Support Our Troops” comes off like an order, but with a somewhat fuzzy meaning: What exactly am I supposed to do? Buy a ribbon, I guess.

Yet the context is obvious. This is all about the Afghan War and nothing else. The yellow ribbon campaign has succeeded in convincing at least eighteen Canadian municipal and local governments to affix the decals to police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, buses and other municipal vehicles. Since this is all public property, this is a divisive move, not an inclusive one. Why this cause, but no others? Why not “Support Our Cancer Patients” or “Support Our Single Moms”? Are they less worthy?

Pretending the yellow ribbon is neutral means pretending that everyone supports the troops. But if you stop to think about it, this is neither true nor possible. One can not “support the troops” but not their mission because that is a logical inconsistency. If you want to see the combat mission ended and Canada's soldiers brought home as soon as possible, then you really do not support them because a good part of their current mission is to kill or be killed.

For the record, I have no grand scheme, nor any simple answers to end the latest Afghan quagmire. In fact, nobody does, including those who obediently support military missions that have no exit strategy.

One can debate the need for security first as a means to development and stability, versus the need for development as a means to security, but what should be obvious is that occupation and counter-insurgency have terrible track records historically. As noted in the Toronto Star recently, according to Thomas Johnson, professor of national security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, “Since World War II, is there one successful counter-insurgency? The answer is none. This war will never be won militarily.”

For this reason, Canadian Pulitzer Prize-winning photo journalist Paul Watson wants to ask a few questions of his old high school friend, Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

"I would beg him, as a former friend and someone who has access to intelligence that I don't, to explain to me why we're putting soldiers' lives on the line and asking them to kill civilians to defend themselves when all the military people I've spoken to admit that there is no military solution in Afghanistan," said Watson.

Actually, efforts to negotiate by bringing in all sides— various Pashtun tribal leaders, Taliban and other insurgent groups, and the government in Kabul, as well as in Islamabad—are ongoing. In fact, according to The Nation, a major English-language newspaper in Pakistan, secret talks began there in August between U.S. officials and the Taliban.

Oddly enough, the two sides have at least one thing in common: both are split along fractious lines. The renewed Taliban is divided between moderates and extremists, while the Bush administration appears to be divided on whether or not to launch a preemptive strike against Iran.

One may well ask: where should Canada’s foreign policy priorities be right now? Tied down in Afghanistan, begging NATO allies for more help in what looks more and more like an intractable military stalemate? Or, working through diplomatic channels to try to prevent a global conflagration between the US and Iran that could even go nuclear?

It’s time to ditch the camouflage and put on your thinking caps.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gone Fishin' - But No Slack At APOV!

Well, it is that time again whereby I must leave APOV HQ to go out and do the science thing - specifically, I'll be attending the Club de recherches cliniques du Québec meeting at Mont Tremblant. Consequently, I'll be gone tomorrow and won't be back until Saturday afternoon.

Because of this, the regular features Friday Weekly Revue and Late Friday Night Ode will be postponed to Saturday.

But in the meantime ...

Two new cubicles have been added to the expanding APOV HQ!

Indeed, Punditman and Ron West have accepted to contribute to APOV.

With the three of us displaying different blogging styles, this will not only increase the frequency and regularity of blogging at APOV, but furthermore increase diversity!

So, sharpen those keyboard keys for your comments, eh?

See you good folks again Saturday - and please give a warm welcome to Punditman and Ron!

And keep on rockin'!

Iran Watch Week 2: 09/19/2007

Iran Watch, Week 2: time to check in on what has happened in the last week with regards to Operation Enduring Propaganda and a looming war with Iran.

Item 1: Let the dogs of confrontation and war bark and howl in numbers!

Via Blast Furnace Canada Blog - France warns Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program or it'll ask the EU to impose even tougher sanctions than those authorized by the UN Security Council. The French Foreign Minister warned that the world should prepare for war if Iran obtains nuclear weapons and said European leaders were considering their own economic sanctions against the Islamic country.

President Sarkosy is a conservative? Check. All (neo)conservatives support other (neo)conservatives (namely: G.W. Bush), you know, like incompetents do with their ilk? Check that too. No sure? Then look again at Canada's Mini Leader Stephen Harper and Australia's John Howard ...

Considering this, now for the big question: am I completely taken by surprised at France's (new and sudden) "tough stance" vis à vis Iran?

Are the X-Men mutants?

Item 2: Keep on making that case ... while we pass the sentence pre-emptively!

(Via Booman Tribune) - The Jerusalem Post reports that the U.S. date of preference for an attack against Iran is in 8 to 10 months - after the U.S. presidential candidates for both the Democrats and the Republicans have been chosen, but before the major presidential campaign kicks off.

Interestingly, such an anticipation for an Iran War by an Israel MSM outlet predated by mere days Israel's strike against Syria's purported "nuclear cache", while neocon barking dog John Bolton said that the US would support a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran and its nuclear facilities.

Hmmm ... am I the only one seeing connections here? Curiously, "moderate" foreign policy expert Steve Clemons said that Bush has apparently ruled out a first-strike on Iran - yet that same expert still worries about an 'accidental' conflict, i.e. that the US might seize on an accidental incident such as a collision between a US and Iranian ship, or a border skirmish between Iraq and Iran, as a casus belli.

Well, duh. Regardless, Bush is obviously setting up America on a path to war with Iran (more on Bush's Iran War plans and approaches can be read here, here and here).

Now, add to this Israel going at it by itself to begin with and ... (need I really go on here?)

On a so completely unrelated note: increased Iran-Iraq border troubles are reported (read more on the Iran-Iraq border powderkeg here and here), while a U.S. General points the finger at Iran (again) by claiming that Iraqi Shiite militiamen used an Iranian-supplied rocket for a fatal attack on a military base near Baghdad .... of course, no tangible and verifiable proof was offered. Oh, and guess what? The US Treasury is tightening the economic noose on Iran by persuading European and Japanese banks to join their American counterparts and stop conducting any transactions for Iranian clients.

Casus belli case being built indeed - all on allegations and "well, we say so!" elements, dutifully stenographed/repeated/parroted by the MSM ... as in the case of Iraq (remember?).

Which brings me to ...

Item 3: Operation Enduring Propaganda marches on unerringly ...

But first: The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!!!

(Now that the obligatory warning required by Operation Enduring Propaganda has been dispensed with, let us move along ...)

After the communist Iron Curtain, now behold the Islamic Green Curtain! Oh, and don't forget: Islamic Iran = old communist USSR, and Islamic Teheran = old communist Moscow. I sincerely wish I was kidding you, folks ...

To this effect, the top US diplomat in Iraq sat down with journalists to push the Bush administration's case that harsher actions need to be taken against Iran because of allegations that the country's leaders are funding and training militants in Iraq. Yeah - ri-ight. Meanwhile, President Bush met with a "select group" of Mil-Bloggers in order to discuss Iraq, Afghanistan and the overall War on terror (re: Iran) ... Expect yet another increased escalation in Operation Enduring Propaganda!

On a related note: Chris Matthews and Sen. John McCain laugh up the prospect of bombing Iran, seeking to renew the nice sing-along of six months ago.

In the interim, the head of the U.N.'s nuclear agency warned against any increase in "hype" about war with Iran, saying countries should heed the lessons of the build-up to the Iraq conflict. He is quite right. But then, of course, this is what you get for being wise and fore thinking in this day and age of incompetence: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned in turn the U.N.'s chief nuclear inspector not to complicate the international ultimatum to Iran to shutter its disputed atomic work, saying diplomacy is best left to diplomats.

Diplomacy?!? As in, what I outlined in Items 1 and 2 above, or perhaps something like this (Via Red Tory)? Or better yet, maybe she just meant her very own "Condi-Style diplomacy", you know, the kind with "teeth" to end Tehran's nuclear plans while repeating the U.S. stand that "all options" remain on the table?

Why, such Condi-Style diplomacy is working so well, Iran is indeed becoming increasingly amenable and open to dialogue! Yessiree! Really! No - reallyreallyreally!

Sorry folks, but looks like Webster's definition of diplomacy will have to be changed to something like "war saber-rattling, boastful and threatening posturing, belligerent and confrontational engagement" - or something to this effect.

Nevertheless - all in all, I keep having pre-Iraq War buildup flashbacks.

Item 4: Why, again, must the surge in Iraq at least appear to be successful?

If you haven't already, read these previous articles of mine here, here, here and here.

In direct relation to these and in answering the above question already answered by yours truly: A) Defense Secretary Robert Gates raises the possibility of deploying more National Guard and Reserve Forces to Iraq; and B) Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommends that the President veto the Web Amendment bill (to increase "rest" time for troops between deployments) should it pass.


And that is all for Iran Watch, Week 2.

I sincerely hope that I will have nothing to report in next week's installment ...