Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Today’s Arctic Crisis Headlines: And of course the National Post is on duty again today on this Arctic “Crisis”. The page one Headline has to be seen to be truly believed: “Petite, aggressive European nation dares fly its flag over Hans Island.”

Monday, March 29, 2004

Canadian Military Bulletin 1.3:

“The $5.8 million terminator helmet”The Canadian Press reports on plans to develop a new helmet for Canadian forces. (Check out more future gadget procurements from Defense Research and Development Canada)

While all this sci-fi stuff is all well and good, the news is not all good and certainly not all Terminator. Scott Taylor, writing in the Halifax Herald, reports that monies for procuring new weapons systems, and frankly just keeping the military status quo simply are not available. Not only does he shed new light on the $300 million earmarked for current missions – basically that this money includes everything already committed to in places such as Afghanistan.

Worse news is that “DND has run up annual $500-million deficits the last four years trying to keep its old inventory operating,” writes Taylor. “The last auditor general's report noted there was nearly a $6 billion shortfall in funding for DND's current equipment needs.”
Need more evidence of the state of affairs? Three words: Sea King saga.

”Operation Artic Smoke Screen?” Meanwhile Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington tries to get down to the bottom of this Canadian Arctic sovereignty test and exposes it as both ridiculous and embarrassing. Things we’ve learned since this National Post exclusive began?

1. “The Post warns that although Canadians outnumber Danes (32 million to 5.4 million) Denmark's navy is better equipped than ours. If the dispute gets ugly, "Canada would take a Danish pasting," warns the Post.”

2. “Denmark has four icebreakers to Canada's none, and five functioning submarines. Canada has four British reject subs that leak when under water.”

Thursday, March 25, 2004

cover More Canadian Imperialism: Part II The Arctic- - About ten days ago, splashed across newspapers, the web, and banal conversations across this country, was talk of Canada’s possible rapid imperialism. Apparently that talk of conquering the Turks and Caicos Islands just isn’t enough for Canada on the march.

Now, as Canada has made its presence known in the Caribbean, they are also now pushing to fully stake its claim to much of the Arctic. The National Post front page offered up this huge story claiming that, “Canada is launching an extensive five-year plan to march soldiers through all of its uninhabited Arctic territory in the largest bid yet to exert sovereignty over its northern domain, an area drawing increasing international attention and conflicting territorial claims.”

Apparently each of these sovereignty patrols will cost half a million dollars. The first one begins on April 1st – and don’t think I haven’t thought that this might be some grandiose Liberal “gotcha” Aprils Fool Joke (I suppose we might ask Myriam Bedard about it). See more on the Canadian Imperialism website.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tiresome issue, tiresome person - - I’m getting so tired of reading, hearing, or seeing “The Prince of Pot.” He’s out on the road, a speaking tour, and he’s arrested, again. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about drug law in the country, but this one passage from an eye witness struck me: “I was at Marc Emery's talk at the University of Saskatchewan tonight, then went to the Vimy Memorial on the riverbank (near his hotel) to wait for him to come smoke everybody up. We waited there like an hour and a half with no sign of cops, then Marc comes out around 11, and the cops show up and arrest him twenty minutes later.”

You should be arrested for just monkey-ing around the Vimy Memorial you rinky dink pot head. I’m sure the men who gave their lives in France would be pleased how you and Emery are squandering your freedom by getting high at a war memorial you dopes.

cover Budget 2004 Lowlights The buzz on the budget was “back-to-basics” as the Liberals promised responsibility and integrity. New Conservative Leader Stephen Harper wasn’t buying any of that, “If after 10 years, the best you can do is say we're going to better manage money - with all the scandals and mismanagement we have examples of - this is pretty thin gruel to run an election campaign on.”

The budget sounded a few broad themes – accountability, communities, the economy, health, and learning – but offered nothing spectacular or radical.

On the one hand, when the lefty CCPA says that the budget simply, “out its old tricks: low-balling surpluses, focussing on debt reduction at all costs and turning a blind eye as Canada crumbles” I say, what’s wrong with that? As Enter Stage Right editor Steve Martinovich suggests they didn’t, surprisingly, spend like a “poet on payday” But since 9/11 I’m pretty much a one issue guy, and while the Liberals may have attempted to get back into the responsible lane, they still just gave huge handouts to huge programs like education, where are the tax cuts, and worst of all, where is the military money?

Andrew Coyne sums it up nicely: “You know, they're not fools, these Liberals. If the Conservatives thought they could just ride into power on a wave of public revulsion at Adscam and related scandals, they should think again. There's a reason why the Grits have won all those elections.”

The section on “Canada’s place in the World” features a conspicuous absence of defense spending. So there is $250 million for operations in Afghanistan, $50 million for the operations in Haiti, and the other big ticket item, $248 million more on international assistance. But the actual defense spending doesn’t seem to add anything new – the figure seems to be a total of $245 million new money on defense spending in 2004-5 – and another whopping $55 million the next year. This tiny increase in defense spending, it is said, is only because the government is waiting for a crucial defense and foreign policy review. But they know they are going to need more money, no matter what that review tells them, so in effect shouldn’t they, oh I don’t know, put some cash in the kitty for that?


Monday, March 22, 2004

Late Sunday Reading list - -

1. James Lileks reviews the anti-war protests from the weekend. This is must read stuff just take a look at this: “The Movement to Reinstall Saddam commemorated the first anniversary of the Iraq campaign by expressing their outrage at the loss of an ally in the war against America. These people are the fringe of the left; yes. They are the Klan with out the sheets. Worse: they don’t have the inbred moonshine-addled mah-pappy-hated-nigras-an-I-hate-‘em-too dense-as-a-neutron-star stupidity of your average Kluxer. They didn’t come to this level of stupidity naturally. They had to work at it. I’m sure you’ll find in these pictures people who have cool jobs in San Francisco, people who get grants, write code, run the coffee-frother at a funky bookstore, and have no problem marching alongside someone who spells Israel with swastika instead of an S.”

2. Hamas leader dead. Hit by Israeli missiles.

3. Al Qaeda CEO claims they have suit-case nukes. Then again, he might be dead too.

4. As I’m watching “The Great Escape” on television I remembered the articles in the Saturday Globe and Mail on the subject. Here’s one on the differences between the real story and the movie version. And here’s another one on some who were actually there.

5. I just caught the repeat of today’s “Meet the Press” interview with Sen. Ted Kennedy. It was a rambling incoherent train wreck of John Kerry talking points. The Toronto Star has a op-ed from the esteemed Democrat too. This part in particular: “The prime minister of Spain paid a high price last Sunday for supporting us in the war, and for misleading the Spanish people. President Bush is likely to pay a similar high price in November.”

Sunday, March 21, 2004

cover My Couch March Madness: Shock and Awe - - At work I participated in two office bracket pools for the NCAA Championship. Day one was the highest of highs. I went 15-0. But it has been all down hill since then. By yesterday my two picks to face off in the Championship, Gonzaga and Stanford were out. I thought it couldn’t get worse, but then today happened. Kentucky, N.C. State, and Mississippi State all got booted from the tourney and of course my hapless bracket. You teams are dead to me now. Go Xavier. Now that I’ve said that, I’m sure they will be bounced next.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

cover Canadian Political Talking Points New Conservative Leader Vote: “Harper Wins! Harper Wins!”

To Gonzaga with love: And the Winner is…. How long does it take to count these ballots? My goodness. 275,000 possible votes, factor in a lower turnout, and we’re talking about counting maybe half that? And more importantly, who was the Conservative genius that thought it would be a good idea to hold this stupid vote during the second round of March Madness. More importantly as my pool hopes hang on Gonzaga making it to the final (Not as likely me thinks. Damn you Nevada.).

Useless thoughts : Are the “Liberals shaking in their boots?” Dr. Hill and Elsie Wayne ask? I don’t know about that yet. What I do know is that it’s a pretty good upgrade to go from Wayne to Belinda as the most high profile female member of the party. I already mentioned one celebrity look alike but is it just me or doe Senator John Lynch-Stanton look like Michael Caine? Just checking.

Sounds like turnout was lighter than expected. Wait a second; aren’t the people of this country motivated by the ongoing and growing Liberal Scandals? That could be the real key number of the day and I’m sure Paul Martin is watching that more than anything.

And seeing Stephen Harper get some post speech make-up was a nice touch by the CBC. Bravo. Now that’s compelling television people! Eat your heart out Mark Burnett.

The Results: Stephen Harper on the first ballot. Clement was a total disaster. Our muse Belinda did pretty good all considering, and I would say give a few years, she might be back someday. (Riding by Riding results) Harper’s acceptance speech was about as exciting as a John Kerry stump speech. That’s problematic.

Andrew Coyne concludes: “The best possible result for Conservatives: the right candidate won, he won decisively, and he showed well in all parts of the country. Harper's speech was workmanlike, at best, but it sounded the right notes: inclusiveness, combativeness, purposefulness. A democratic, market-oriented, moderate, socially just party that is ready to form a government. Might have been nice if he'd mentioned Preston Manning, though.”





cover Canadian Political Talking Points: Conservative Leadership Vote Pre-Game Edition

1. The Keynote speech. In short, this speech was the opposite of a barn burner. It’s pretty clear why Ralph Klein didn’t run for the leadership. That was supposed to pump up the new party?

2. What’s the deal with Belinda’s dad Frank looking eerily similar to actor Malcolm McDowell? As his A Clockwork Orange character might say, “Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?”

3. Predictions. Adam Daifallah predicts a first ballot victory for Stephen Harper. Brock Stephenson of MEP predicts a huge Harper victory. I think Harper probably will win too, and he’ll get straight to boring the Canadian public into submission.

Friday, March 19, 2004

cover 3 Things I learned today reading Vancouver’s Alt-Weekly, The Georgia Straight

1. That they are turning one of Vancouver’s most interesting buildings, into condos. (Qube Living) I’ve always like that building might be a very cool place to live.
2. Big day of “global action” tomorrow with Vancouver’s part brought to you by the happy crackpots at stopwar.ca promising a lively day of “action to say no to war and occupation, and yes to peace and justice.” Of course could this day be complete without, you guessed it, featured speaker Noam Chomsky. (Indeed. Sure wish that nice man Saddam Hussein was still raping and pillaging. Lay off the granola hippies. How does this sort of thing help peace exactly? Thanks to Steve at ESR for bringing this to our attention)
3. And if that wasn’t enough, Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader is charging $25 to hear him speak on April 4th at the Orpheum. What exactly does “An Evening with Ralph Nader” entail? Shouldn’t Nader be, oh I don’t know, campaigning?
4. And of course, this year’s Golden Plate Awards. (Check out the list here)

Quick Recap: Qube cool. Apparently Vancouver is, surprise, a vibrant hub of appeasing leftism. Plus useless food awards.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

March Madness Just another St. Patrick’s Day in the world. I know it can’t be the Guinness talking because, sadly, I didn’t have a single one. But lets just run down some developing events that seem to be marking this as the real “March Madness”.

*Bomb destroys Baghdad hotel, 27 killed. (AP)
*Terrorists have reached a “truce” with Spain (AP) In related news Spanish is new cool language for appeasement.
*China and France hanging around Taiwan like a creepy drunk uncle (CNN)
*Syria. Rioting continues for 5th day. (Telegraph and Free Arab Forum)
*Not that you’d know this (try a Google news search for fun) but there are demonstrations in Iran too. (Photos here and more from Mens News Daily)

Monday, March 15, 2004

cover
The birth of Canadian Imperialism? - - Is the sun finally beginning to rise on an expansionist Canadian Empire? News today that the long forgotten ambitious plan to create an 11th province of Canada in the fun and sun of the Caribbean. The plan to take over the scenic Turks and Caicos Islands located 575 miles off the coast of Miami with a population of 20,000 - 25,000 was originally pursued in the 1970s and 80s by the islands themselves. The question is why didn't we open our hearts to these little gems?

Conservative MP Peter Goldring is spearheading the renewed plan to expand Canada's influence into the Caribbean. "I'd like it to be the 11th province," Goldring told the Canadian Press. "It would be a Canadian province at the gateway to the Caribbean."

The real question is what has taken so long? And strategically, the islands are north of Haiti and could be a valuable base of operations for Canadian troops to quickly respond to hotspots in the region. With Canadian troops already in demand in Haiti for the foreseeable future, it would make tremendous sense.

And why not? Isn't it about time Canada took a little something back from that fat cat Queen? Isn't it about time Canada made its presence felt in this world? This could be the first step in a grand Canadian Empire. Or would this damage our blessed reputation in the brotherhood of the United Nations. What would France do?

Update: I asked at the end of this post, "what would France do?" Well, rather than try to expand our presence with a couple of islands, we could literally do what France is planning on doing to raise its world profile. Glenn Reynolds has the details on French plans for, well, obviously world domination. Hint, it involves doing jointexercisesercises off the shore of Taiwan to intimidate a democracy. Or as Don McArthur suggests, "Either the world is insane, the French are insane, or I've gone insane...the French are joining the Chinese Communists in an attempt to intimidate a Democracy?!?!..."

That's right kids, and while France yuks it up with China to intimidate a democracy, Canada moves to create an Empire. Topsy, Turvy.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

cover
The 2 Kerry’s: The Robot Malfunctions - - Mickey Kaus, who is ever vigilant in his John Kerry watch, catches today’s episode of Kerry’s political waffling. The Kerry robot botched it about as much as the “nobots” did during that race in the desert yesterday (It’s funny I didn’t think that the French were in the competition). Anyway back to John Kerry. Here’s Kerry and his alter ego droid’s clear position on Cuba from the Miami Herald:

Kerry: ”''I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world.”

Kerry-bot: “And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.”

The Problem: Kerry voted against it….

Kerry on Elian Gonzalez: “I didn't agree with that”

Kerry-bot on what he didn’t agree with: “''I didn't like the way they did it. I thought the process was butchered,

Will the real John Kerry ever stand up? Check out more on the “2 John Kerry’s” from Andrew Sullivan.

cover Canadian Political Talking Points: “Seabiscuit Edition” Now, I don’t want to throw out insane references, but these photos of Conservative leadership hopeful Belinda Stronach seems pulled from the exclusive Ronald Reagan/George W. Bush collection of political props. But, perhaps there was just small amount of horse race imagery and possibly “Seabiscuit” – or is that the exclusive territory of Dennis Kucinich and Tony Clement? (You be the judge!)

Belinda even got some strong support from former Reform Party leader Preston Manning who said she “is as experienced as anyone on international matters.” (See The Calgary Sun)

But seriously. Don Martin of The Calgary Herald is already writing the Belinda leadership obit: “Hers is a campaign with great forward momentum, as in accelerating toward a steep cliff. The glamour, novelty and media excitement of having an intelligent, charming, attractive heiress, backed by the Who's Who of Conservative backroom boys, as dream contender for Official Opposition Leader has now worn off.” (More on the Belinda Campaign from the Toronto Star)

And the numbers of the latest poll seem to confirm all of this: “According to a poll of 1,254 Conservative party members conducted for the National Post, Global TV and CanWest News Service released Friday, Stronach held 32 per cent support in the leadership race, compared to Harper's 59 per cent and Clement's nine per cent.” (Can West)

So what we know now, that it looks almost certain that Stephen Harper will be first leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. But who knows?

Let’s say Harper does win the leadership race. Will the government’s endless scandals carry the most boring politician on the right all the way to the big house at 24 Sussex Drive? Or will scandal fatigue set in just in time for voters to check out the real Stephen Harper? Does this mean Belinda will be riding off into the sunset?

Saturday, March 13, 2004

cover Two can play at this game: “Outsourcing Naomi Klein & Socialism” - - Every once and awhile I find myself at the mercy of a column by Naomi Klein – the high priestess of anti-globalization. This act usually precedes either uncontrollable laughter and/or some sort of nausea. The one I happened upon this morning is no different.

This time she takes on NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Her column originally from The Nation take issue with Friedman’s view on the outsourcing of jobs - The hot button issue of campaign 2004 in the US.

She thinks his position should lead to the outsourcing of, well, Thomas Friedman. How clever. Say what you will about Friedman – I like him personally – but at least he actually went to Bangalore, India to see what outsourcing is all about! (Here’s Friedman’s latest dispatch and here is the column in question) Klein’s critique of Friedman and the evils of outsourcing centers on Friedmans argument that free trade, globalization, and even outsourcing of jobs is a tool for fighting terrorism.

Klein: “In other words, economic development will not come to Palestine via call centres but through liberation. Friedman's argument is equally absurd when applied to the country where terrorism is rising most rapidly: Iraq. As in Palestine, Iraq is facing an unemployment crisis, one fueled by occupation. And no wonder: Paul Bremer's first move as chief U.S. envoy was to lay off 400,000 soldiers and other state workers. His second was to fling open Iraq's borders to cheap imports, predictably putting hundreds of local companies out of business. “

I love that old bait and switch. That outsourcing in India becomes occupation in Palestine and Iraq. You see its America’s fault.

Klein: “Friedman's bright idea of fighting terrorism with outsourced American jobs seems overly complicated. A better plan would be to end the occupation and stop sending American workers to steal Iraqi jobs.

Friedman: “I am saying that there is more to outsourcing than just economics. There's also geopolitics. It is inevitable in a networked world that our economy is going to shed certain low-wage, low-prestige jobs. To the extent that they go to places like India or Pakistan -- where they are viewed as high-wage, high-prestige jobs -- we make not only a more prosperous world, but a safer world for our own 20-year-olds.”

Klein: “He is wrong, of course, to argue that free-trade policies will alleviate that poverty: In fact, they are a highly efficient engine of dispossession, pushing small farmers off their land and laying off public-sector workers, making the need all the more desperate for those Victoria's Secret and Delta call centre jobs.”

Friedman:“The good timing starts with India's decision in 1991 to shuck off decades of socialism and move toward a free-market economy with a focus on foreign trade. This made it possible for Indians who wanted to succeed at innovation to stay at home, not go to the West. This, in turn, enabled India to harvest a lot of its natural assets for the age of globalization.”

Klein: “But even if Friedman genuinely believes that low-wage export jobs are the key to economic development, holding them up as the cure for hopelessness in Ramallah verges on obscene.”

From what I can tell, Klein would be perfectly happy had everyone in India stayed really really poor and Iraq stayed occupied by a ruthless dictator, just as long as jobs stayed put.

Friedman: “Which is why we must design the right public policies to keep America competitive in an increasingly networked world, where every company -- Indian or American -- will seek to assemble the best skills from around the globe. And we must cushion those Americans hurt by the outsourcing of their jobs. But let's not be stupid and just start throwing up protectionist walls, in reaction to what seems to be happening on the surface. Because beneath the surface, what's going around is also coming around. Even an Indian cartoon company isn't just taking American jobs, it's also making them.”

More…
*More on outsourcing by Friedman from the PBS NewsHour

*Bottom line on outsourcing from Virginia Postrel: “Sure, outsourcing is a political issue. So was Japanese auto competition. So are steel imports. But the fact that unemployed workers are understandably upset doesn't mean the policies they want--or the general anti-competitive attitudes they express--are in the public interest.”

*Wired cover story by Daniel H. Pink on how India became the capital of the computing revolution.

*Globe and Mail editorial defending outsourcing.


The Canadian Military Bulletin 1.2: “Sudan Next? Plus Broken Arrow Missiles?”

The first Canadian troops are on the ground in Haiti, preparing for the full contingent coming soon. There are still troops in Afghanistan, and now news that there will be pressure for Canada to join the peacekeeping force in Sudan. The Edmonton Journal reports that “Department of National Defence officials have told the federal government that international pressure will be on Canada to contribute soldiers to the mission, especially since it is expected to involve the UN's Multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade, a rapid deployment force Canada helped set up in the late 1990s.”

MP Libby Davies is spearheading asking some question of a missile mishap on a U.S. naval ship last November. (Seattle PI and more by The JAG Hunter) “The incident occurred when a missile being extracted from the USS Georgia's No. 16 tube smacked into an access ladder left in the tube, punching a 9-inch hole in the missile's nose cone.”

While there may be something to investigate here, I’m not comforted by Davies taking the lead role considering her often radical peacenik agenda.

UPDATE: I see Adam Daifallah noticed the same problem with this story. The problem is Libby Davies.

Friday, March 12, 2004

cover It was about time: Another Casualty of Canadian TV - - Paul Wells has been best lately when he’s giving slight kidney jabs to his former overlords at the National Post. And his 2+2=4 observation that the final fork in “The Mike Bullard Show,” which was new to the Post’s TV family, might mean three new reporters and a trip outside of Don Mills for the foreign-affairs columnist are hilarious.

Let’s be perfectly candid. The Mike Bullard show was terrible when it began 6-years ago. Guess what, it still is. I love this bit from the cached Bullard Global site: “Key to Bullard's new show? No sweat Mike Bullard, conversationalist? Stop laughing. The problem with the old place, says Canada's best known late-night talk-show host -- OK, only late-night talk-show host -- was that you couldn't hear anyone talk half the time. Certainly not anyone in the audience.”

Scratch that. It should now read “Canada’s best know former late-night talk-show-host.” I think this dude will be real happy about this breaking development.

Now how much did it cost to figure that out? And the figure that he was being killed by Jon Stewart 261,000 to 62,000 almost made me choke on my drink.

More on Canada in light of 3/11 - - If you read the papers this week in Canada, while there are so many major scandals on so many fronts with the federal government, a leadership race in the opposition party, and a possible election coming up, there was really one story. A hockey player’s cheap shot. I agree with Andrew Coyne. Not only are the events in Spain, and the wider war on terror, more important than anything happening in this country, we are completely unprepared – emotionally, militarily, organizationally – for something like this were it to happen here.

We’ve had 2 ½ years since 9/11 to cowboy up, and now 3/11 is another reminder to get into the game. And yet, here is evidence that our government’s priorities continue to be elsewhere. The pressing issue of the government today is spending more money on youth and learning. Oh, and payingfor the Gov. Gen. to fly to her summer cottage. That’s great, novel even, thinking, but we have a crisis in the military for starters, that needs money. We spent $41 million last year on her royal Gov. Generalness – which is more than our new military commitment to Haiti is expected to cost ($38 million).

The events of 3/11 may have pushed Europe over the edge. Andrew Sullivan has the Le Monde editorial denoting a rapid shift in European attitude: “If she did not know it yet, she knows it now: Europe is part of the battlefield of hyper-terrorism.”

The only question is whether or not Canada will ever get this memo? It seems inconceivable that after 9/11 anyone would have needed another wakeup call. But there have been attacks after attacks from New York to Bali to Madrid.

A Question Worth Asking - - Trudeaupia, an increasingly must-read Canadian weblog, is wondering today how Canada might deal with something like the Madrid bombings. For the most part the gut reaction of Canadians is that it could never happen here (This is Canada after all), but that is a naïve crazy talk.

“But how would Canadians deal with it emotionally? This is a nation that has a nervous breakdown in response to insults from a sock puppet. The CBC and its fellow travelers quake in fear over barely detectable trace contaminants in salmon or children’s’ playground structures made from pressure treated wood. They don’t let their little munchkins ride a tricycle without a helmet. And of course they rest assured in their smug complacency and moral superiority that somehow all these Israelis and Americans had it coming.” [Read the whole post]

cover Spain’s 9/11 Update So the ETA/Basque separatists today has denied having anything to do with yesterday’s terrible bombings. And more than eight million people took to the streets in Spain today to mourn and to protest this act of terrorism. Just check out this amazing photo from Power Line showing the amount of people in Madrid.

*Check out Glenn Reynolds for even more round-up news.

*The most striking thing I’ve read, politically speaking on the fallout from the Madrid bombings is this. Jonah Goldberg in NRO’s “The Corner” wonders: “Let's see. Kerry believes that Bush's coalition was fraudulent, that Bush is a unilateralist, America has lost its allies and the Iraq war was...was...I'm sorry I really have no idea whether Kerry thinks the Iraq war was worth it or not since he steadfastly refuses to answer the question with any finality.

But as for the rest, let's see. It seems more and more likely that the attack in Madrid was because of Spain's ‘fraudulent’ ‘paper tiger’ coalition. Seems like al Qaeda thought it was a real coalition.”

Thursday, March 11, 2004

”And the hits keep on coming!”: - - Not only are we not spending enough money on our military, but now word that when we do, we’re getting burned on that too. CTV News reports that “The government is going after computer giant Hewlett Packard, Public Works Minister Stephen Owen said Thursday, for its part in a ‘very sophisticated criminal scheme’ that scammed tens of millions of dollars in computer contracts over a 10-year period.”

In other Canadian Military News:
*Canadian Troops hit the ground in Haiti tomorrow. (Canadian Press) and in Afghanistan, the commitment to beef up the composition of troops with more firepower when Canada’s commitment drops from 2,100 to 500 in August (CP)
*A $174 million communications system remains in storage. (Canadian Press)

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Spain’s 9/11: Spain on the front lines now - - At least 192 dead, and more than 1,200 injured in a terrible attack this morning in Madrid. Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for this attack on 2 ½ years after September 11th and has also promised a large attack upon the United States which they claim is in development. The New York Times editorial tomorrow titled “Ground Zero, Madrid” sums up the feelings of many saying simply, “We are all Madrileños now.”

It is simply another gross example of what lengths the terrorists will go scare, intimidate, and kill. And the Telegraph noted that it looks as if The War on Terror has come to Western Europe. The early guess was that this was simply Spain’s separatist group. And some are dubious that it is Al Qaeda, since they don’t usually own up to something so quickly, but things change, especially in war when your side has been against the wall for 2 ½ years. They know they are losing in Iraq and Afghanistan and they needed to attack, but more than that, they needed some pr to show they are still vibrant. But no matter who did this, the result was the same, terror.

More Reax:
*Andrew Sullivan notes this “has all the hallmarks of al Qaeda” and “we can equally hope that the democratic nations of Europe will begin to realize what Tony Blair and George Bush have been warning about for so long. The enemy is clear. The question is not whether it will strike, but whether the West can strike back and decisively defang and defeat it. It's up to Europe now. Maybe now they'll get it.”

*Mark Steyn: “And now Spaniards. "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you." And by "you", they mean not just arrogant Texan cowboys, but any pluralist society - whether a relaxed tourist resort like Bali or a modern Muslim nation like Turkey or - come to that, one day down the road - a cynical swamp of appeasement like France.”

UPDATE:
*James Lileks: "I’m somewhat annoyed by the assertion that this act was 'sophisticated,' and hence the work of those brilliant stratgerists of Al Qaeda. My definition of sophistication is somewhat different: it’s an unmanned drone flying over Pakistan, piloted by a guy in Florida, dropping a laser-guided bomb into the passenger cab of a truck full of Taliban. That’s sophistication. Synchronizing watches on detenators is not exactly all that tough."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

coverThe Tim Robbins Conspiracy Show - - Damian Penny found this almost unbelievable review of Tim Robbins new play. Everyone thought Robbins was being so mature for not making a huge anti-war stink a la Michael Moore when he won his Academy Award last month. But the truth must have been that he was too busy working on his insane new play “Embedded” which is now open in New York.

TNR’s Fred Kaplan has a wonderful look at Robbins opus. According to Kaplan Embedded, “tells the story of the war in Iraq ("Gomorrah") from three vantage points. The first belongs to a character named Private Jen-Jen (clearly modeled on Jessica Lynch) and her fellow soldiers on the ground, whom Robbins beatifies as victims of the cabal. The second belongs to the journalists covering the war, whom Robbins depicts, with few exceptions, as a craven bunch deferring to military censors at nearly every turn. The third, and most interesting series of scenes, belongs to the cabal itself--the cynical architects of the war, who, from behind their Greek masks, plot the invasion of Gomorrah on their calendars. "Woof" (Paul Wolfowitz, presumably), "Pearly White" (Richard Perle, definitely), and the other cabalists reason that a war will distract the public from the crumbling economy. More important, it will prove once and for all the hypotheses of the late University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss, the cabal's hero and the production's villain, whose hapless visage is projected in the background.”

Lovley stuff and to think there are actually people who buy into this neoconservative cabal business. Penny simply and politely asks, “Does anyone believe Robbins could even tell you what "neoconservatism" is, if you asked him?”

Seriously, what kind of cabal could simply stand by and not only see Robbins win an academy award, but let Robbins write, direct, and show his play? Bill Kristol call your office. Honestly do I have to call John Ashcroft and Cheney to silence this insolence or what? I left a message with PNAC just to be safe. Come on Robbins give your head a shake. Oh what it would have been to be a fly on the wall on the set of Mystic River, when Sean and Tim were hanging out.

coverShameless Snow Walker Props - - Shameless Promotion: I did my part to support The Snow Walker by sending a shout out at the box office. It is in theatres here in Vancouver plus Alberta and Ontario. Check out its fancy new website here. And don’t forget to watch the behind the scenes documentary on Bravo, March 21st. I can’t wait to see that goofy kid crash the bus into the million year old rock. Bravo indeed. (You can also get the story in book form here.)

I won't give it a review, since I worked on the thing, but both Papa and Mama Murphy enjoyed it very much. I was a little concerned with the demographics when we sat down, since even my folks were basically the youngest people in the theatre. But eveyone in the joint seemed to enjoy it, although I've never seen so many bathroom breaks - it wasn't Lord of the Rings long, but I think we were in depends territory. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Update: And since someone just asked me, no, I'm not getting a cut of the profits like Mel Gibson is for "The Passion of the Christ." I'm just shameless promoting it to support the film. Oh, cruel Hollywood will I ever win?

Bagels from NY - - To start with, let me just say that I may have had the best bagel of my life this morning when our boss at work received a shipment of H & H Bagels from New York. It was great and really what’s the deal with getting bagels shipped in overnight from New York.

coverSnakes & Ladders I watched the first two minutes of CBC's "Snakes & Ladders" tonight before the hockey game went off (I wanted to watch the whole thing, but after seeing Bertuzzi's meltdown apology, I wanted to see what sort of stuff the Canucks were made of.) Just one thought. I know it's for style purposes, but put the camera down and get it off the camera mans shoulder. Or hey, if you want to follow the action like that, why not get a steadicam for god's sake! I thought I was going to have a seizure. The saving grace is that star Amy Price-Francis is still cute.

Update: Bad television isn't limited to drama in Canada. Is TSN's hockey coverage package the worst sprogrammingraming out there? Okay, I'll admidt it, the actual game coverage is fine. But the cheesy Bryan Adams theme song coupled with the content during the painful intermissions are almost unwatchable. Maybe it was the 24-7 Bertuzzi coverage, or the overtime (1-1 Final) but I think I've discovered why television ratings for hockey in the US are so low - the coverage sucks.

Cracking Up - - I’ve checked out the first two episodes of Fox’s “Cracking Up”. I thought I’d give it a few chances since Mike White (School of Rock) wrote it, and it stars Jason Schwartzman who was so excellent in Wes Andersons “Rushmore”. The pilot wasn’t that good, but the second episode actually generated a few good laughs. It’s not bad, and the show’s production blog is pretty funny.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Canadian Political Talking Points Tuesday Edition "Pop goes the Weasel!" - - While the Conservative Leadership race heads into the home stretch, interim leader Grant Hill took the high road of debate today in the House of Commons by calling the Prime Minister a "weasel today. (More from Politics Watch) The question is why, when there is a virtual library of things to attack the Liberals on, that the Conservatives choose to resort to name calling.

coverRunning the Numbers: Today's political polling numbers are good news for the Conservatives, and bad news for Paul Martin. "Such results could spell a minority government for Martin if he does as expected and calls an election after the federal budget is presented March 23."

The latest thoughts on when the election will be called, looks like June as the Liberals try to outrun Adscam. (Here's your editorial cartoon look at the fallout)

A Bold Canada? I love the new Jeffrey Simpson column this evening about how desperate Paul Martin and Liberal Government is. "It looks very much, therefore, as if this government is casting around with increasing desperation for concrete ideas. So on the occasion of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's visit to Canada, and his call for Canada to increase its commitment to world affairs, here's an idea. No, here's a new orientation for Canadian foreign policy consistent with the country's interests and values. It's a free offer, and if the Liberals don't grab it - and they've been dithering around on so much, maybe they won't - then the Conservatives or New Democrats should beat them to the punch.

The idea is simply stated: Canada should make the promotion of democratic development and civic society central to its foreign policy."

As I pointed out earlier in the Military Bulletin there simply isn't much money left in the surplus to do anything bold, and certainly nothing worth attempting, spending wise, that wouldn't raise three alarm flashing red-alert alarm bells. Plus the Liberals just don't have the credibility to sell a sweeping program that involves any real spending. But there is a demand out there for a revamped foreign policy and more military spending.

The Haiti intervention, as Simpson suggests, is a sweet pitch right down the middle of the plate. All this coming in a week where UN Secretary General Kofi Annan proclaims Canada a pillar of the United Nations.

cover Did somebody say "Banana Republic?" Yes! Finally the phrase was used in a column today. Tom Brodbeck outlines more of the endless stories of spending madness as outrage grows by the day.

Odds and ends Speaking of Banana Republics is it a coincidence that J. Kelly (Via Adam Daifallah) notices that Ed Broadbent's weblog artwork seems earily similar to pop-culture Che Guevera posters? What is it, like, turn back the clock year on the left?

Requiem for Sheila Copps: Shelia Copps lost her nomination battle and Canada has lost a legend in politics. Hooray! Now Sheila is claiming that there was dirty tricks involved in her nomination defeat this week and is asking police and election officials to investigate. NDP Leader Jack Layton urged Copps to run as an independent and stay in politics. Sometimes the most difficult thing in politics is knowing when to stop running. Clearly Sheila hasn't gotten the memo on this yet.



cover The Canadian Military Bulletin 1.1

Good News: The ‘G-Wagons’ in Kabul Finally last week the first of the new military jeeps began arriving in Afghanistan. ”Eighteen new Mercedes-Benz G Wagons were delivered to the Kabul airport, the first of 60 to arrive over the next week. Happy Canadian soldiers got to test out the four-wheel drive armoured jeep on the 20-kilometre drive through downtown Kabul back to Camp Julien.”

Ah, the Sea Kings, is there anything they can do? The chronicle of the 40-year old helicopters has become a consistent object of news fodder. The Halifax Herald offers a detailed look at the long and tedious regimen of maintenance of these aged beasts.

“It's frustrating, Master Cpl. Gallant says. In one case, a Sea King has been in the bay for four months but is still waiting for a replacement engine. Another chopper has had 25 parts robbed from it, including a receiver and transmitter and a headrest.”

“It’s Getting hot in here…”News that last year one of Canada’s submarines experienced temperatures of 65 C during a trip through the Panama Canal. So now the submarines obviously can’t operate in any warm climate. That means no Middle East duty. Did Britain sell us a $900 million lemon?

“Although the subs were originally built by Britain for cold water use during the Cold War, Maj. Tony White said the subs will eventually be able to perform well in warmer climates,” reported Bill Curry of the Can West News Service. “Although the subs were originally built by Britain for cold water use during the Cold War, White said the subs will eventually be able to perform well in warmer climates.”

Can we just admit that these old subs were a complete boondoogle? We bought them in 1998 and they have been plagued with technical problems, cracked valves, they are three years behind schedule, they don’t work safely in warm climates, and the fourth one still hasn’t been delivered.

Misc. Military News: The story of the military changing their minds on the per diem for soldiers meal allowances and the demand for soldiers to pay back $3,000 is simply outrageous. (The Calgary Herald) What is more shocking is that this incident has taken over 10-months to boil over, and really even got this far as an issue. (Globe and Mail) The Defense Minister David Pratt has committed to correcting this issue. But it never should have happened.

Meanwhile with the government set to unveil the federal budget in a few short weeks the issue of the Military Budget will become an increasingly hot button issue. But Minister Pratt doesn’t sound very optimistic about the possibility of much additional funding. And the numbers seem to suggest that very little cash will go the military’s way. (CTV News). There’s an expected $7 billion surplus, but $2 billion is earmarked for healthcare, another $4 billion is set to be set aside for emergencies (Hello! The military is an emergency guys), and there is another $580 million promised for GST rebate. The rest will probably be set for Liberal election handouts.

This dilemma is presented to Canada’s military at a time when the Prime Minister has seriously committed Canada to serving in Haiti in a lead role. (The Halifax Herald) The commitment to Haiti has many people comparing it to one of Canada’s most successful and long term commitments in history – the peacekeeping in Cyprus. That mission lasted 29 years.

If ever there was a time to blow the $4 billion emergency funds this could be it. A strong commitment to the military would be welcome, and at the same time would help ease the burden of the expanded, almost breaking, commitments the military has taken on in the last two years.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Mickey Kaus and “The Unified Kerry Theory” - - Slate’s Mickey Kaus is hunting like Indiana Jones looking for the Ark of the Covenant for a unified, all encompassing, John Kerry Theory. This one goes something like this. There is a battle of “two Kerry’s” (one indoor, one outdoor) that helps to explain these flaws: “Kerry's positioning is often so transparently and short-sightedly self-interested that it's actually not in his long term self-interest” and “with Kerry the charge isn't that he's inconstant. It's that in his inconstancy he flips wrong--the far more serious charge of bad judgment.” (Ouch.)

For a look at the “Unified Kerry Theory” in practice and in the wild check out what the gang at NRO’s “The Corner” think about Kerry’s latest Haiti position. Ramesh Ponnuru asks, “Does Kerry think that he can win support among national-security-minded voters by talking up his willingness to intervene in Haiti? To intervene in Haiti to prop up Aristide?”
Jay Ambrose adds, “It's puzzling, isn't it, that Kerry -- a man of righteous rhetoric on the subject of the president's Iraq involvement -- should simultaneously want to put American lives on the line for a cause as questionable as saving Aristide's political hide?”
Which is exactly the point of Kaus’s unified theory isn’t it.

cover What is the signing of the Iraqi Constitution for $1000 Alex?… - - Somehow in the anarchy of Iraq, the governing council managed to sign an actual living breathing interim constitution today.

“The people of Iraq, striving to reclaim their freedom, which was usurped by the previous tyrannical regime, rejecting violence and coercion in all their forms, and particularly when used as instruments of governance, have determined that they shall hereafter remain a free people governed under the rule of law.”
The Oxblog’s David Adesnik takes a deep look at the conventional wisdom just days ago by the press in Iraq and the reality of the signing of the constitution there today. At the same time Glenn Reynolds notes, basically, that with the signing of the constitution will allow the media to stop ignoring the good news and concentrate solely on big picture “bad” news full time. “Now that the good news is getting hard to deny or ignore, we'll start hearing that things are actually a lot worse than they look on the surface. Note, however, the lack of interest in looking beneath the surface back when the surface could be presented as bad.”

Good grief. They are, well, let just say, unhelpful. And tomorrow’s “analysis” is more of the same. No time to celebrate the small victory. Instead let’s use the signing of the constitution as an opportunity to move on and rejoice in the fact that some people are already seeking changes (Ed: Hey isn’t the president suggesting a constitutional change to the US one?). I don’t want to suggest that these voices of disagreement should be left out, but I think the simple signing of something, anything, is remarkable on its own considering how improbable it once looked.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

cover Canadian Political Talking Points: Conservative Debate II Edition - - Live from Montreal it’s the Canadian Conservative Leadership debate. This is the last time I’m going to ask. Is it too much to ask for CPAC to get a proper lighting package for these type events so it doesn’t look like a 1991 cable access all candidates’ debate for city councilman? I know what your thinking substance is what matters. Sure, but style is important too.

cover The Clothes make the man, or the women Here’s a question: Mr. Harper where did you get that wretched tie? Tell us it was a Christmas or Father’s Day gift. It looks like hell. Think classic red or perhaps blue. Clothes and style matter. Belinda went with some creamish looking business suit. She looked pretty good, but the cloths were sad; go back to the black suits please.

Tony Clement looks like he is dressed by Howard Dean – just minutes away from throwing jacket off and rolling up the shirtsleaves. I’m not a good judge of clothes, but it doesn’t look that great. They are running for a party leadership and quite possibly Prime Minister. Start dressing like it buddies.

The Introductions
Tony Clement: Please stop making bad jokes. Just stop. They are hideous and make you look like a fringe candidate. You really should not try the Al Sharpton/Dennis Kuccinich shtick.

cover Stephen Harper: Too safe. No vision. Boring. I can’t stop looking at that tie. Just take it off, please.

Belinda Stronach: She went all français for the first few minutes of her intro (and finished it in French too). I like how she linked Martin with Chrétien.

Some Memorable Highlights, or is that lowlights: Did Belinda Buy her support in Quebec.. Home run. Okay maybe a triple. But she knocked it deep with comments by saying that the Alliance wasn’t very good at including Quebec and that the people of Quebec are smarter than this.

Big Question: The controversial conservative TV commercials: The conservative party adswhich offended the Caribbean community was a question. I think Belinda did the best job, and most powerful, of distancing herself from the ads. Clement used the opportunity to dig into Stephen Harper.


Education: Tony Clement did a number on Belinda Stronach on this issue by exposing that she really wasn’t clear about what role the feds can or should take on this issue. But I think he did more damage to himself by constantly interrupting her.

“Bold and innovative”: Tony Clement proclaimed his ideas “bold and innovative.” Look, Mr. Clement, we’ll be the judge if your ideas are bold or innovative. Not you.

Props: Belinda pulled out the big package of paper from the CD Howe institute. What fun.

2nd tough one for Belinda Can she attack Paul Martin on the issue of his company getting the benefits from off shore tax shelters. Tony Clement had the audacity to suggest that Belinda’s involvement in Magna might prevent her from attack Martin too. We keep seeing this in the Conservative race. Where is the defense of business?

And Belinda took it to Tony. “What are you criticizing exactly?” Stephen Harper got the big point on this one. Business experience is a good thing, and Tony should keep his eyes on Mr. Martin. Clement exasperated his desperate style. I know it’s March Madness time, but Clement looks too desperate. Just because Prime Minister Martin owns a huge company that operates via Caribbean tax shelters doesn’t mean Conservatives should slam corporations.

Healthcare: Did Tony Clement really use the word: “Shimmy Shamming”? Ouch. Oh, and did Tony mention that he once was a Minister of Heath? Check! He also knows all five of the principles of the Canadian Heath Act. Check! Give the man a gold star. I think Belinda’s point that one day Mr. Clement would be a great Minister of Heath in this country was pretty funny.

In Closing : Tony Clement’s “I have a Canadian Dream” closing argument was a disgrace. He mentioned the word dream at least four times. Saying you have a dream isn’t the same thing as offering one. Oh, and going back and forth in English and French every other sentence does nobody any good either. Stay in French or stay in English. I’m tired of that.

*Debate recap from CTV.

Grades:
Stephen Harper: B+ (Still too cautious, trying to act Prime Ministerial)
Belinda Stronach: C+ (Much improved from even the last debate, feisty, still standing, barely)
Tony Clement: C (“Desperationville” population Tony Clement. Spelling Bee technique still not very cool)

Sunday Dilemma - - It’s just prior to the 11 AM PST kick off of the second debate in the Conservative Leadership battle in Canada. It should be a feisty one as Belinda and Tony try their best to rattle the cage of Stephen Harper. Either way, recap to follow. I see already that the sound system isn’t working, again. (There it goes! Hello small town council)

But the Red Sox are playing the Yankees (and ARod is playing third base) in the Grapefruit League this morning. What do you watch? Apparently tickets for this spring classic were going for $500 bones today. For a spring training game?

What are you supposed to do?

Friday, March 05, 2004

Canada goes to Haiti: So, now we’re sending 450 troops to Haiti. If you read this CTV News report there is no mention for how long the troops will stay. The actual news release from the MND claims the timeline is 90 days. Boy, let’s hope 200 years of instability can be cleaned up in the next month and a half. (See more from The Globe and Mail and CBC News)

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The Madness Begins Early Just happened to catch the final 2 minutes of audio from the Stanford-Washington State Game (63-61). Somehow they got the ball back when Washington State is caught with a 5 second violation. Then Matt Lottich hit an unbelievable three from 26 feet. As the broadcasters said, “they had no business winning this.” By the way Yahoo sports audio is pretty cool.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

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**New Feature: The Canadian Military Bulletin 1.0 This is going to be a new and regular feature starting this month. Sifting through the mess that is the news and situation our military finds itself in. The headlines lately have turned from a small drip into a major flood of information on this topic the last two weeks and here is the first Edition. I was going to do them monthly but the volume of stuff for this was so great, I figure I might have to do them weekly. I hope you enjoy. Stay tuned.

I. “The Haitian Scramble”
The crisis in Haiti this past week gave us this incredible and noteworthy buzzword surrounding the plans to send Canadian forces to the scene: “scramble,” (The National Post) Back when the Haitian Crisis began, the Minister of Defense said Canada couldn’t commit anything. But then everything changed, and then changed again. The dilemma is that the Canadian government wants to send troops it simply doesn’t have to more places than we can possibly afford.

According to the Canadian Press, the original commitment seemed to be fewer than 120 troops to help assist any evacuation of Canadian citizens if that was needed. (Here is the official word on the Haitian operations for Canadian Troops. With Photos Here)

The CP goes on to say that to start with the operation would include 5 military planners and 9 special forces soldiers, but by this past weekend it was nearing 100 soldiers and four transport aircrafts and 235 Canadians had been evacuated. Although it appeared that the demand for evacuation had dried up today ending that part of the mission.

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Now the Prime Minister says “we won't have the capacity that...we would like.” But didn’t he have to know that before hand? We were barely able to send troops to Afghanistan. That this country simply isn’t capable of running anymore operations, even if we have the political will to do so should be shocking. Instead Martin went ahead and committed our nation anyway.

The Minister of Defense back on February 26 seemed to think any commitment would be difficult. We struggled to even free up the 100 odd ready to deploy forces and would not be able to deploy them for very long. Yet as late as Monday, Prime Minister Martin was already conceding that any mission in Haiti would likely exceed three months. By Tuesday Martin was definitely backing the insertion of troops. All this even as Conservative Defense critic Jay Hill suggests that there aren’t the resources to field 100 troops in Haiti for more than a month.

In The National Post Gen. Lewis MacKenzie offers the most comprehensive comment on the situation. (Sadly not online.) Not only does he make the case that Canada has been intimately aware and involved in the affairs of Haiti off and on over the past 13 years (meaning we might have prepared for something like this) but he is weary of Canada finding another mission period. “We have found another for you, even before we had a chance to get out of Bosnia after 13 years, 25 dead and more than 100 seriously wounded.”

To say nothing of the $500 million military deficit this year. As MacKenzie concludes, these types of missions are happening more and more and if we want to participate we need to spend more money, increase the size of the military, and get better equipment.

And look no further than a letter MacKenzie wrote to the Toronto Star in response to this article, earlier this week stating that we, “cannot always execute what the folks in Foreign Affairs would like it to do. When you consider that there are 2,000 more police in the Toronto Police Service than there are infantrymen in the Canadian Army — from private to general — you get the picture.”

Which begs the question why the Prime Minister didn’t know any of this before hand or was he simply too busy since taking office treading water from the many fronts of the growing scandals plaguing the government to get a single briefing from the Defense Minister?

Fellow Canadian blogger Trudeaupia explains the dire situation and result of the Liberal -Defense Policy:” So whether you’re a warmongering lunatic who thinks Canadian forces should be capable of taking on Islamofascist terrorists, or if you think they should be doing social work by stabilizing countries like Haiti before they descend into chaos, it doesn’t matter. We can’t do either.”

II. An Opening for the Conservatives The situation in Haiti has opened up a new avenue for the Conservative opposition to take on the ruling Liberal Party. The scramble, the lack of ready forces, and the military deficit, all expose just how serious the cuts to defense spending have been under the current government and how much needs to be spent.

CandidateBelinda Stronach wants to spend an addition $1 billion per year until the total military spending stabilizes at 2 per cent of GDP. Basically an extra $10 billion in 10 years. But even that sounds pretty weak to start with. A huge investment to start with is the bare minimum. (More in this backgrounder)

Harper calls for $1.2 Billion more than the current budget asks for while Tony Clement wants military spending to grow at least three per cent faster than the pace of GDP. (Halifax Herald)

III. The Canadian Special Forces The one interesting thing about the actions in Haiti, and the scramble to get troops there, is that it has revealed the nature of Canada’s top secret Joint Task Force 2.

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The Ottawa Citizen has the details: “The Nike baseball cap. Canadian soldiers have strict rules about wearing green military-issue headgear.”
- The longer than usual tufts of hair.
- The grey T-shirt, instead of the usual green camouflaged buttoned top.
- Khaki pants, as opposed to regular green CadPad uniform bottoms.
- The light-coloured gloves, needed so the paratroopers can handle hot substances, such as smouldering automobiles or injured civilians that need rescuing.
- The C-8 automatic weapon, a smaller version of the standard issue C-7 rifle issued to regular troops.
- The seven magazines of ammunition for the weapon. One magazine is in the gun, three more are in pouches on the soldier's belt. But notice three more loose magazines are tucked inside the soldier's belt. It is unusual for regular troops to carry more than five magazines.
- The laser targeting device below the weapon's barrel.
- The handy carrying handle.

IV. Equipment News & Misc
The cost of Canada’s four new hand-me-down submarines stands at $900 million and they will cost 25 per cent more to run than the ones they replaced. (Canadian Press)

Did you follow the story of the Sea King helicopter that took longer to cross the country than a Greyhound bus, (it took 16 days in fact)? Well the whole fleet is cleared to fly again now.

Things aren’t all bad. The Defense Minister is ramping up to do a full Defense Ministry review. (Canadian Press)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Super Size RIP? - - McDonald?s is planning on downsizing it's super sized fries and drinks by 2005. Have we all gone mad?

Another Reax to the Kerry Speech - - Andrew Sullivan thought it was better than, well, I did. But his is no glowing review either:

“It struck me as a strong one on domestic issues. On energy independence, and protecting the Constitution, it was a winner. He looks like a potential president. But it was deeply worrying in one respect. The war on terror was barely mentioned. This on a day of appalling carnage in Iraq. I fear this man simply doesn't get it. No one should support him for the highest office in the land until he proves he understands our enemy; and demonstrates that he will get up every day in the Oval Office to see how he can take the fight to the Islamists.”

Plays of the night - - Chris Mathews savaging the MSNBC Sharpton Campaign Embed Tom Llamas. It was awesome. Oh and Kerry went 9 of 10.

cover Is John Kerry the real deal? - - He all but accepted the Democratic nomination tonight in his speech and he even got a phone call from President Bush telling him as much. Now what?

He did manage to squander his last 10-15 minutes of free all channel access to the voters with a lame rehash of the same stump speech he's used since winning Iowa. Now he and Teddy Kennedy have to start generating news without primaries. The exit polls on MSNBC seem to show that Edwards voters aren?t necessarily that comfortable with Kerry as the nominee. (In Ohio, the number seems to be among Edwards voters that a Kerry nominee would satisfy only 25 per cent. Cross check that on even Edwards voters from Massachusetts) Will they vote Kerry?

Speaking of Democrats Kerry needs to vote for him, what about Dean's supporters? The OxBlog found this awesome post by someone on the Dean Blog: "think there is a strong possiblity of dean jumping back into this thing for a delegate race. we should be encouraging dean to do so-- this is a political opening for him." Dean might have to lay the law down with these guys lest they jump ship to Nader or something. Ha Ha Ha.

Where was the real appeal to the country? Mickey Kaus has your all in one "The Trouble With Kerry" article. "I'm allergic to Kerry. Something in the vibration of that deep, pompous tone he adopts--the lugubrious, narcissistic fake gravity--grates on me. Others, bizarrely, say they don't have this problem. But few would argue that Kerry has formed a special bond with any large group of voters other than veterans. If he wins it's likely to be because voters see him as an acceptable alternative to an unacceptable incumbent, not because he's inspired them."

UPDATE: Kerry has now won Georgia too.

Another Big Night For Kerry; Edwards to Quit race tomorrow; Dean wins Republic of Vermont - - The Kerry Jugernaut keeps rolling on it tonight’s Super Tuesday battles. It looks like Kerry has already won Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. This will be more “fire in his belly” as it were. Gov. Howard Dean who dropped out of the race weeks ago, finally won his first primary battle in his home state of Vermont.

John Edwards finally got a chance to play out his full stump speech this evening for the whole nation and it looks like his race will end tomorrow as the results don’t show a strong enough showing for Edwards. (He’s already spoken at 8:00ish EST so you know he isn’t waiting for better results to come in) Edwards is leading in Georgia, but it’s a close race.