Wednesday, January 31, 2007

British Bravery

It's a great feeling when you beat the bad guys:

"Police in the British city of Birmingham have arrested nine people accused of planning a terrorist act. Media reports say they planned to kidnap and possibly kill a British Muslim soldier and post video of their actions on the Internet. The arrests were concentrated in an area of Birmingham that has a large Muslim population." More.

+ UK Police arrest nine terror suspects in security swoop
+ British police arrest 8 in anti-terror raids

+ From last year:

"The first Muslim British soldier to be killed in action since the 'war on terror' began was named last night as Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi.

The 24-year-old military intelligence specialist - one of only 300 Muslims in the UK armed forces - died in Afghanistan on Saturday along with 27-year-old Corporal Peter Thorpe, when their base in the volatile Helmand province was attacked with rocket propelled grenades by Taliban militants."

Brave Brit: Corporal Jabron Hashmi

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Residents of the village of Zangabad continue to return to their homes. This is a makeshift caravan that included many of the ubiquitous Toyota Corolla hatchbacks.

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers with Charles Company (C Coy) Combat Team, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group (1 RCR BG) roll out of Forward Operating Base Ma’Sum Ghar (FOB MSG) en route to Howz-e-Madad. C Coy Combat Team’s move to Howz-e-Madad is part of a larger operation called Op BAAZ TSUKA, the aim of which is to dislocate the Taliban from the population of the Panjwaii District of Kandahar Province.

Charles Company (C Coy) Combat Team is comprised of an infantry company in LAV III’s, two troops of Leopard C2 Tanks from B Squadron (B Sqn) , Engineering assets, elements of the Afghan National Army and artillery in support. C Coy Combat Team’s task is to secure the town of Howz-e-Madad in order to further disrupt Taliban influence in the Panjwaii District of Kandahar Province. C Coy Combat Team’s task is a part of 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group's (1 RCR BG) role in Op BAAZ TSUKA.

Lieutenant Colonel Omer H. Lavoie, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group (1 RCR BG) addresses the members of Charles Company (C Coy) at Forward Operating Base Zettlemeyer (FOB ZL). LCol Lavoie gave out several field promotions and then spoke to C Coy about their upcoming role in Op BAAZ TSUKA.

Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) is Canada’s contribution to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The focus of this mission is to help Afghans rebuild their lives, families, communities and nation. Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan are working to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a more secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict. The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,500 soldiers, most of who serve in Kandahar province with a smaller number of personnel assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.

Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team medical outreach patrol at the Ministry of Women's Affairs for burned and battered women in Kandahar City. The Kandahar PRT consists of Canadian Forces members, a civilian police contingent led by the RCMP, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency. The PRT conducts coordinated interdepartmental operations to promote good governance and assist the Government of Afghanistan to extend its authority in the province of Kandahar, to facilitate the development of a stable, secure and self-sustaining environment for the Afghan people.

There will be peace in the valley for me.
Dear Lord I pray...
-- Johnny Cash, "Peace In The Valley"

Somewhere in Iraq...

+ Najaf battle winding down, officials say
+ Palestinian infighting flares despite Saudi plea
+ Israel to buy US bomb kits for $100M
+ International Donors Pressure Sri Lanka to Resume Peace Talks
+ Unknown gunmen kill 5; in restive Somali capital
+ Knesset Cabinet approves first Arab minister
+ Hu to tell Sudan of Darfur concerns

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Maher Arar

We could have used the $11.5 million to hunt down REAL terrorists. But we fucked-over an innocent man's life (yes, that's how it works - people are innocent first, not guilty first).

We fucked up and we have to pay up.
And we're sorry...

OTTAWA (The Globe & Mail) -- Maher Arar asked for the impossible: "I wish I could buy my life back."

Yesterday he received an official apology from the Prime Minister and an $11.5-million compensation package from the federal government -- the largest legal settlement of its kind in Canadian history. But he says he'll never again know the life he led before 2002 -- as a successful young Canadian computer engineer with a bright future for himself and his family, free to travel to the United States on business, and free of the horrible memories of 10 months in a tiny, wet and rat-infested prison cell in Syria.

In dark moments, Mr. Arar sometimes Googles his own name to see how many hits he gets that also include the label "suspected terrorist." The anger returns. If a reference describes him as "computer engineer" he feels pangs of nostalgia for those days when his life really was so uncomplicated.

But he knows that that life ended more than four years ago when U.S. authorities shipped him off in the middle of the night to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Canadian government, formally apologized yesterday to Mr. Arar for the role the Mounties and other federal officials played in his ordeal" More.

+ Maher Arar +++ CBC News In Depth: Maher Arar
+ Maher Arar (Wikipedia) +++ The Arar Commission

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Saudi Arabia: Rape, Human-Trafficking + Slavery

"Roughly five and a half million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Priorities for government spending in the short term include additional funds for education and for the water and sewage systems. Economic reforms proceed cautiously because of deep-rooted political and social conservatism.

Saudi Arabia is a destination country for workers from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, an indeterminate number of whom are subjected to conditions that constitute involuntary servitude. There were reports that victims are subjected to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement, and withholding of passports as a restriction on their movement. Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because some are confined to the house in which they work, unable to seek help.

Saudi Arabia is also a destination country for Nigerian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Somali, Malian, and Sudanese children trafficked for forced begging and involuntary servitude as street vendors. There were also reports that some Nigerian women were trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation. "
- U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2006 [
full country report]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004
An Indonesian woman who was kept as a virtual slave and who was also a key witness against a Saudi Arabian couple, Homaidan Al-Turki and his wife, Sarah Khonaizan, is missing. A modern day slavery case where the victim was forced cook clean and was sexually abused.

Saudis Import Slaves to America +++ Saudi sheik: 'Slavery is a part of Islam'
Guest Worker May Lose Digits, Toes After Being Tied Up in Bathroom for a Month
Forced-Labor Charges For Saudi Prince's Wife

Slavery still exists in a host of majority-Muslim countries
100,000 black chattel slaves in Saudi Arabia
American women who have married Saudi nationals are held captive in Saudi Arabia
Is it marriage or is it rape in Saudi Arabia?

Giuliani rejects $10 million from Saudi prince
Saudi prince moved roughly two tons of cocaine from Colombia to an airport outside Paris, using his diplomatic status +++ Saudi Prince Accused of Drug Smuggling Avoids Prosecution

An A-10 Thunderbolt II, like this one, is among the various U.S. Central Command Air Forces air assets available for providing close-air support for International Security Assistance Force troops in contact with enemy forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The A-10 is specially designed for close air support of ground forces and can be used against all ground targets.

Iraq: A family comes out to greet Spc. David Shrauger, who is providing security for his platoon during a cordon and search operation

Monday, January 22, 2007

Top Somalian Islam leader turns himself in

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A leader of Somalia's ousted Islamic movement seen by the United States as a potential key to preventing widespread insurgency there has surrendered to U.S. and Kenyan authorities and is under protection in Nairobi, officials said Monday.

Sheik Sharif Ahmed, who has been described by a U.S. diplomat as a moderate who could play a role in reconciling Somali factions, crossed into Kenya and was flown immediately to Nairobi, a Kenyan security official said on condition of anonymity because the operation was supposed to be secret. Ahmed was under Kenyan protection at a top hotel, a Somali official said, also asking for anonymity for the same reason.

A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment. Ahmed apparently feared for his life in Somalia, where remnants of his Council of Islamic Courts were being hunted by Ethiopian troops and Somali government forces. More.

Other news:
+ Toronto man sent back to Somalia in chains
+ 78+ KILLED - bombs strike Shiite area in Baghdad

(I wanted to thank everyone who visits this blog and takes the time to leave comments. Much appreciated. Since I started this blog in Aug/06 this is post #101 and we're up to 9357 hits. Thanks again everyone)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Speak truth in Turkey brings death

(CBS/AP) A journalist who faced constant threats and protests as one of the most prominent voices of Turkey's shrinking Armenian community was shot to death Friday at the entrance to his newspaper's offices, police said.

Hrant Dink, a 53-year-old Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, had gone on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of Armenians by Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. He had also received threats from nationalists, who viewed him as a traitor.

In October 2005, he was convicted of trying to influence the judiciary after the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper he edited, Agos, ran stories criticizing a law making it a crime to insult Turkey, the Turkish government or the Turkish national character. He was given a six-month suspended sentence. The conviction was rare even in a country where trials of journalists, academics and writers have become common. Most of the cases, including that of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, were either dropped on a technicality or led to acquittals.

Dink cried during an interview with The Associated Press last year as he talked about some of his countrymen's hatred for him, saying he could not stay in a country where he was unwanted. "I'm living together with Turks in this country," Dink told the AP. "I don't think I could live with an identity of having insulted them in this country ... if I am unable to come up with a positive result, it will be honorable for me to leave this country." Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Dink's death as an attack against Turkey's unity and promised to catch those responsible. Erdogan said two suspects had been arrested, but offered no details. "Once again, dark hands have chosen our country and spilled blood in Istanbul to achieve their dark goals," Erdogan said at a news conference.

The prime minister said he had assigned top officials from the Justice Ministry to the case and that they were on their way to Istanbul from the capital, Ankara. Can Dundar, Dink's friend and fellow journalist, said he wished Dink had left the country as he once promised he would in the face of the threats, protests and legal proceedings against him. "Hrant's body is lying on the ground as if those bullets were fired at Turkey," Dundar told private NTV television. Turkey's relationship with its Armenian community is fraught with tension and painful memories of a brutal past. Much of Turkey's once-sizeable Armenian population was killed or driven out of the country from 1915-1923 in what an increasing number of countries are recognizing as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians died but vehemently denies it was genocide, saying the overall figure is inflated and the deaths occurred in the civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, and Armenia, which claims to be the first country to official adopt Christianity, share a border, but it is closed and the two countries have no formal diplomatic relations.

Dink's body was covered with a white sheet in front of the newspaper's entrance. NTV said four empty shell casings were found on the ground and that he was killed by two bullets to the head. Workers at the newspaper, including Dink's brother, who has also been put on trial in Turkey, wept and consoled each other near his body. Fehmi Koru, a columnist at the Yeni Safak newspaper, said Dink's slaying was aimed at destabilizing Turkey. "His loss is the loss of Turkey," Koru said. Dink had complained in a letter that he received no responses even after complaining to authorities about threats of violence made to him, NTV reported. A colleague at Dink's newspaper, Aydin Engin, said Dink had attributed the threats to elements in the "deep state," a Turkish term that implies shadowy, deeply nationalist and powerful elements in the government.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dumbing Down our Kids

I wanted to share with you all this excerpt from the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and is directed at high school and college grads. (There's an eRumour going around attributing this to Bill Gates but it is false. It's from Sykes' book.)
Life is not fair - get used to it.
The world won't care about your self-esteem.
The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school.
You won't be a vice president with car phone, until you earn both.
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
He doesn't have tenure.
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.
Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - they called it Opportunity.
If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now.
They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.
In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Life is not divided into semesters.
You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.
Do that on your own time.
Television is NOT real life.
In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Be nice to nerds.
Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Through a glass, darkly

The return of residents to the village of Zangabad.

Back on the road. This Afghan National Police pick-up truck was badly damaged but is back on the road again after being repaired at Camp Nathan Smith, where the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team operates a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul program for ANP vehicles. It is the only maintenance repair and overhaul program in the Province for ANP equipment.
The Kandahar PRT consists of Canadian Forces members, a civilian police contingent led by the RCMP, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency.

The Kandahar PRT consists of Canadian Forces members, a civilian police contingent led by the RCMP, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency. The PRT conducts coordinated interdepartmental operations to promote good governance and assist the Government of Afghanistan to extend its authority in the province of Kandahar, to facilitate the development of a stable, secure and self-sustaining environment for the Afghan people.

The return of residents to the village of Zangabad: Two young Afghan boys wait to return to their home in the village of Zangabad, that they haven't seen since summer.

The return of residents to the village of Zangabad: A LAV-III light armoured vehicle of Company Headquarters, C Company, 1st Battalion the Royal 22e Régiment, the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team's Force Protection Company, secures the village of Zangabad during the ceremonies marking the return of the residents to their homes.

Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team medical outreach patrol at the Ministry of Women's Affairs for burned and battered women in Kandahar City.

+ Gates to consider more troops for Afghanistan
+ Slaughter continues in Iraq +++ More bombs hit Iraq
+ Gates’ Afghan trip throws spotlight on Pakistan

+ Some Arab states are backing U.S. President George W. Bush's plan to send more than 20,000 troops to Iraq to try to stabilize the region. The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Co-operation Council — which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain —all met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Kuwait Tuesday.

"νυνι δε μενει πιστις ελπις αγαπη τα τρια ταυτα μειζων δε τουτων η αγαπη"
("And now abide faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.")

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day

+ Peace Be Still: A tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
+ Northrop Grumman to Sponsor Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr Collection
+ Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial to Receive $3 Million
+ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Events

"King's life still calls us to make our world a better place. His memory still challenges us with the inquiry, ''Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'''

"Your sphere of influence may not be as expansive. Your cause may not be as grandiose. And your sacrifice may not be as costly or noticeable. Nevertheless, your calling to serve others is as inherent in your design as it was in his.

"That's the one thing King couldn't do — as powerful as a figure as he was, he could not force anyone to follow suit in using their influence to help others. He could inspire others to dream, but he could not drive them to sacrifice for those dreams. No leader can. As King said, ''Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.''

"I spent too many years in destructive selfishness. How did I turn it around? The same way you can: by using your gifts, talents and influence for others' good, rather than your own. That's what King did. And that's what you can do, despite that your station in life might be totally different than his..." Read the entire article "What Martin Luther King couldn't do" by Chuck Norris.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Greek Leftists Attack US Embassy

ATHENS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Suspected leftist guerrillas fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. embassy in Athens on Friday, causing minor damage, in the boldest attack staged by left-wing militants in years. The blast shattered windows and woke up nearby residents in in the central Athens area at 5:58 AM (0358 GMT) but no one was hurt, police said.

The grenade was launched just across the street from the heavily guarded embassy building, which is surrounded by a 3-metre-high (9-feet-high) steel fence, and authorities were dealing with the attack as a serious act of violence. Apparently aimed at the U.S. seal on the building's facade, the attack was the worst assault on the mission, often the target of Greek protests and demonstrations, in a decade.

"There are one or two anonymous phone calls which claim that the Revolutionary Struggle was behind the attack," Public Order Minister Byron Polydoras told reporters outside the embassy. "Most likely, it is an act by local perpetrators." More.

+ The radical left in Greece +++ Greece hunts new generation of militants

Around the world:
+ Canadian Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor is putting his faith in the much-maligned Afghan national police
+ NATO-led forces Thursday killed up to 150 militants who were discovered infiltrating Afghanistan from Pakistan
+ Fallen Iraq Marine Awarded Medal Of Honor

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush on Iraq: More Troops Coming

Photo: The arabic in the letter loosely translates to "Christians of this home - leave in 24 hrs or die." These notes are always delivered with one or more (usually spent) bullet casings.

American troops in Iraq: This week marks a turning point in the war in Iraq. President Bush is expected to announce Wednesday that he is increasing the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq by as many as 20,000. More.

Iraq academia: Over 1,000 Iraqi teachers and professors have been murdered by radical Islamists. The ones who've survived led their departments in medicine, dentistry, computer sciences. But since they were targets for assassination they packed up and headed for a new life in Syria. More.

Iranian book censorship: For the most part, former president Mohammed Khatami left the publishing industry alone. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's censors are holding up the printing of thousands of books. More.

Even as Iraq targeted militias, British soldiers patrolled Basra -- with the help of an Iraqi security officer -- in the wake of the murder of two Iraqi interpreters who were kidnapped -- along with an American citizen -- in an area called Al-Haritha. More.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Radical Islam in 2006

12/31/06 Iraq Baghdad 4 12 Two children are among four people murdered by Jihadis in three attacks.
12/30/06 India Pampore 2 3 Lashkar-e-Taiba militants fire into a market, killing a civilian and a security guard.
12/30/06 Sudan Kutum 5 0 The Islamic Republic of Sudan stages an air force bombing run over a village, killing at least five civilians.
12/30/06 Thailand Yala 1 0 Islamists gun down a government official.
12/30/06 Iraq Mahmudiya 4 0 Four people are tortured and shot to death by Islamic terrorists.
12/30/06 Iraq Najaf 36 58 Another three dozen Shiites are blown up at a market by determined Sunni bombers.
12/30/06 Iraq Tal Afar 5 8 A suicide bomber straps explosives to his body and murders five people.
12/30/06 Iraq Baghdad 36 77 Sunni bombers slaughter three dozen Shia civilians in a triple bombing of a residential neighborhood.
12/30/06 Iraq Baghdad 12 0 A dozen victims of sectarian hatred within the Religion of Peace are found dead across the capital.
12/29/06 Thailand Narathiwat 1 0 A village defense volunteer is ambushed and murdered by Islamists.
12/29/06 Thailand Yala 2 0 Two Buddhist teachers are shot, brutally dragged from their truck and set on fire by militant Muslims.
12/29/06 India Srinagar 1 0 Islamic militants trigger an IED blast in the heart of the capital.
12/29/06 Iraq Khalis 13 17 A suicide bomber attacks a Shia mosque, killing thirteen people.
12/29/06 Thailand Pattani 1 0 Muslim radicals gun down a 50-year-old storeowner in his shop.
12/29/06 Yemen Saada 5 0 Shiite radicals open fire on a military checkpoint, killing five Yemeni soldiers.
12/29/06 Pakistan Damadola
13 6 Thirteen people are killed when al-Qaeda backed militants stage a rocket attack on a village.
12/28/06 India Nadihal 1 0 A civilian is shot to death by the Mujahideen.
12/28/06 Iraq Baghdad 41 0 Forty-one victims of sectarian hatred within the Religion of Peace are found over a 24 hour period.
12/28/06 Iraq Baghdad 17 60 Separate bombings leave at least seventeen innocents dead at the hands of Islamic terrorists.
12/28/06 Iraq Mosul 5 19 Two people are killed by a suicide bomber in a minibus, and three others are kidnapped and beheaded.

The list is incredibly long. Above is just 4 days worth.
Here's the full list (scroll down)

Tehran, 4 Jan. (AKI) - The Iranian Evangelical Church has denounced a crackdown by authorities on its members. Under a new government measure, pastors with the official churches will have to provide a list of names of all those who take part in functions to the intelligence ministry. Pastors will also need an authorisation from security forces to celebrate mass. Christians are less than 1 percent of Iran's population of over 68 million. However, unofficial data shows that the number of converts from Islam to the Evangelical Church is on the rise. Contrary to Catholics and Gregorian Orthodox Christians who discourage conversions for fear of reprisals on their members, Evangelical Christians are in fact extremely active in Iranian society and their number is believed to be growing.

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