Answers needed

The Hizbollah-Israeli conflict has so far killed a disproportionate number of Canadians compared to losses from other countries not involved in the conflict.

First, we heard of the tragic deaths of the Al-Akhrass family from Montreal, who were visiting Lebanon when chaos broke out and they got caught in a war-zone.

Then a Canadian-Israeli pilot named Thom Farkas was killed when his IDF helicopter crashed, possibly due to friendly fire.

And the latest Canadian death is Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, a Canadian military member of the UN observer mission in Southern Lebanon.

All deaths are tragic and as Canadians, we mourn them.

Since Canada has taken an unambiguous stance in moral support for Israel in this conflict in which Canadians lives have been lost, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should ask Israel for observer status in IDF operations.

Israel should be able to accomodate this request from its Canadian ally.

Observer status will help provide answers to questions from the Canadian government regarding the deaths of our fellow citizens and will help bridge any communications gap which may then help prevent future tragedies.

What the?

Those don’t look like peacekeepers or wounded people that pile into a UN ambulance for transport. The terrorists in the video also do not appear to have hijacked the ambulance. What’s going on here?

The video description claims that the video from Reuters and that the footage is from Israel.

UPDATE: After a bit of digging, I found an article from the Jewish World Review that might provide some insight. The video was shot on May 11 2004.

Last week, an Israeli television station aired footage of armed Arab terrorists in southern Gaza using an ambulance owned and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Palestinian gunmen used the UNRWA emergency vehicle as getaway transportation after murdering six Israeli soldiers in Gaza City on May 11. The footage shows two ambulances with flashing lights pull onto a street. Shots and shouts ring out during the nighttime raid. A gang of militants piles into one of the supposedly neutral ambulances, clearly marked “U.N.” with the agency’s blue flag flying from the roof, which then speeds away from the scene.

International relief officials are in stubborn denial about the abuse of their emergency vehicles and hospital credentials by terrorists. They claim the videotaped May 11 ambulance-assisted attack was an isolated incident and that the driver was forced to transport the gunmen. But this ambulances-for-terrorists program has been going on for years. And “humanitarian” workers have been willing collaborators.

According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (CSS), senior UNRWA employee Nahed Rashid Ahmed Attalah confessed to using his official U.N. vehicle to bypass security and smuggle arms, explosives, and terrorists to and from attacks. He was in charge of distributing food supplies to Palestinian refugees. Nidal ‘Abd al-Fataah ‘Abdallah Nizal, a Hamas activist, worked as an UNRWA ambulance driver and admitted he had used an emergency vehicle to transport munitions to terrorists.

Busy times

It’s been a while since my last post (4 days!) but it has felt longer since I’ve been busy doing a lot of blog stuff unrelated to this blog.

During the weekend and over this week, Craig Smith and I have been working extended hours (Craig tells me that he has a day job… a reality outside of this grad student’s life) moving Blogging Tories to its own server to give it some more space to roam.

We’ve also been upgrading the site’s software and its plugins. Due to a new caching program that we wrote, the aggregator no longer is the bottleneck for load times. Upon launching this new feature, we noticed an increase in hits. The small percentage of you who gave up on the page after 10 seconds of load time, welcome back!

Perhaps the most exciting change to Blogging Tories is the launch of our new group blog: The Brookstreet Group. The blog is named after the Ottawa-area hotel where some conservatives (fresh off of a federal election victory) got together this year and talked about [censored]. It has also been reported that the Bilderberg group met there soon after. Secret meetings and hidden agendas… what better name than “The Brookstreet Group” to generate some conspiracy theories among some of our nuttier left-leaning friends?

The Brookstreet Group Blog will be written by “conservative notables” (as Steve Janke puts it) and will hopefully generate a lot of discussion and perhaps some news.

The Blogging Tories Television plugin has also been upgraded to add the capability of hosting YouTube videos along with the Google Video standard that we used in the first version. The plugin is still being upgraded (as I find the time) and will soon feature a video archives feature, a full screen feature and video submission capability. For now though, if you have an interesting video that you’d like featured on BT-TV, send me the Google Video or YouTube link.

Blogging Tories Television will also be host to some exciting new BT-produced content soon, so what better reason do you need to install the plugin on your own blog! Please help us launch Blogging Tories version 4.0 and install the BT-TV plugin today. (what a pitch!)

We’ve also included more gimmicky features such as the Stephen Harper “days in office” mini-skyscraper graphic. This was mostly a diversion to figure out how to get PHP to dynamically generate an image, but it will inspire Conservative bloggers to help that number grow… or it will inspire Liberals to minimize its final total (NDPers don’t know where they want that number to go these days). Blogging Tories, show your pride by showing your visitors how long our friend “Steve” has been in office!

We’ll be launching a few more features that I haven’t mentioned yet (I may update this post as they become available), so keep watching the site. If you’re a long time conservative reader of this blog and/or of any Blogging Tories blog, why not join our ranks as a member?

CBC trying to pin evacuation faults on Harper

In an article on the CBC website yesterday, the state-run broadcaster tries to label the Conservative government’s evacuation of Lebanese-Canadians from Lebanon as slow.

The article even gives a subtitle to a section of the article which we anticipate will be critical of the evacuation effort. The subtitle reads “Criticize evacuation work“.

The CBC reports,

Protesters also criticized Harper’s support of the Israeli mission and the slowness of the Canadian evacuation from Lebanon.

and the supporting quote that it offers has nothing to do with Harper’s evacuation efforts at all:

“Mr. Harper doesn’t represent the opinions of the Canadian people by unconditionally supporting Israel,” said Jerome Charaoui. “Canada should not support Israel, a country that is perpetuating war crimes.”

The CBC asserts that there are protestors that decry the “slow” response by the government on the evacuation efforts. The CBC even writes up a paragraph leading into what one might assume to be evidence supporting the network’s claim. Instead we just get some twit ranting about war crimes. The rest of the subsection is also weak on evidence on protesters complaining about the “slow” response.

Granted, it’s likely that there was somebody at the protests that thought the government’s response was “slow” but the CBC does not provide a supporting quote. The leading paragraph and the quotation are disjoint. This represents wishful reporting by the CBC coupled with weak follow-through.

Katrina used as a disproportionate response by critics

Regarding the evacuation of foreign and resident nationals from Lebanon, the following has been said about the (what should have been) obvious difficulty in the wide-scale evacuation of citizens (50,000 Canada, 25,000 US) from Lebanon:

CNN (Jack Cafferty): Remember Katrina? France has gotten more than 700 of their people out!

MSNBC (Chris Jansing): Sort of brought back, you know, the whole Katrina thing.

Democrats (Nancy Pelosi): Just another manifestation of the Katrina mentality.

Democrats (Harry Reid): It is too bad that this is being treated as a mini Katrina.

CNN (Miles O’Brien): “You know, what we’re hearing from everybody, just about everybody, that comes off that ship, is not a very pretty picture. And one of the people we talked to earlier today equated it to a Katrina-type scenario. Is there some endemic problem in the U.S. government that it can’t handle a decent, a large-scale evacuation?”

CNN (letters picked by Jack Cafferty): >“Katrina, immigration, evacuating Americans, gasoline prices, prescription prices, health care, minimum wage, border security, almost anything that affects the average middle class American is the last priority for this administration and this Congress.” “Yes! It’s shades of Katrina again.” “Compared to other countries’ evacuations, the U.S. acts like it was unprepared to deal with the situation. Lack of planning seems to be a recurrent theme for the government in recent years, i.e. Iraq and Katrina.”

Democrats (Steny Hoyer): “This administration is not good on evacuations, as people in Katrina found out.”

CAIR (Dawud Walid): “The current administration’s minimal effort in rescuing Arab Americans and American Muslims leaves the impression to many that their lives are not as valued as other Americans. This slow response seems like a flashback to the miserable evacuation logistics of Hurricane Katrina where thousands of Americans, primarily African Americans, were left in perilous conditions.”

Toronto Star (Sean Gordon): “Searing editorials in the province’s major papers suggested the evacuation could end up being Harper’s equivalent of Hurricane Katrina”

Arab American News: “Until early Wednesday, the U.S. still had not begun evacuating its citizens. Evacuees were then supposed to come up with the money to cover their emergency-transportation costs. In the face of criticism that the plan smacked of a post-Katrina-like response, the administration backed down from its financial demand on Tuesday”

Now that you’ve got a sample of the hysterical media and political comparisons of the slower than desired exodus from Lebanon to the Katrina disaster, is the use of Katrina as a sensationalist reference point for failed government planning and execution even that valid in the real world? According to Popular Mechanics’ read of the recently released Congressional Report on the US government’s response to the hurricane of that name:

“In reality, despite organizational shortcomings, the rescue spearheaded by the National Guard and the Coast Guard turned out to be the largest and fastest in U.S. history, mobilizing nearly 100,000 responders within three days of the hurricaneÂ’s landfall. While each of the 1072 deaths in Louisiana was a tragedy, the worst-case scenario death toll would have been 60,000.”

Oh.

Stephen Harper cares about Lebanese-Canadian people

As has been noted around the blogosphere, the media seems to be climbing all over itself to frame the evacuation of Lebanese-Canadians from Lebanon as too “slow” and as a “disaster”.

Where was the flotilla of ships awaiting immediate rescue and extraction from Lebanon, critics asked. The same critics who rush to condemn Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper are the same brave critics that question why Canada would ever need to start spending on military equipment.

“Why does Canada need a military”, asks one babbler.

This question came in response to Stephen Harper’s desperately needed $15 billion infusion into the military, recently earmarking the funds for 3 new multifunction support ships, and helicopters among other vehicles.

Stephen Harper has recently taken over the reins of government from 13 years of Liberal mismanagement and neglect.

A 2003 Queen’s University study titled “Canada Without Armed Forces?” investigated the effect of Liberal neglect and under-funding of our military and relief efforts world-wide. The study postulated a complete Canadian disarmament by 2013.

Just about 6 short months ago to this day, Canadians selected to change the way things are done in Ottawa. Stephen Harper has a modest number of impressive accomplishments as Prime Minister so far. However, he has not undone those 13 years of Liberal neglect to Canada’s ability to react to disaster on the other side of the world.

Other reasons for delay in the rescue effort include logisitics. As other countries act to evacuate their citizens from Lebanon, a bottleneck of ships has been reported as another significant reason for delay.

Jack Layton, leader of the NDP, Canada’s left-wing party with an isolationist foreign policy, described his party’s recent efforts:

“With an estimated fifty-thousand Canadians in Lebanon, the NDP called for an evacuation plan on Friday and has been disappointed with the pace of the response.”

More funding for the military, Jack? What’s your plan? Canada needs a leader ready to do the right thing; a leader who concerns himself with more than canoe expeditions. Further, Canada needs a military to defend its sovereignty and to evacuate Canadians from hot-spots that develop around the world as a result of platitudes and appeasement.

Stephen Harper’s trip to Cyprus also represents much more than symbolism. How dire has our military/humanitarian relief network become when the Prime Minister’s plane in Paris considered a viable element of a humanitarian relief effort. While Stephen Harper can’t snap his fingers and equip our country overnight, his flying to Cyprus to personally help represents that he’ll do everything he can with what he’s got.

It seems that every time this guy goes overseas, his hero-factor goes up.


PM addresses Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce

This evening, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a speech to the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London, England.

Here’s some of the speech:

Much of what Canada is today we can trace to our origins as a colony of the British Empire. Now I know it’s unfashionable to refer to colonialism in anything other than negative terms. And certainly, no part of the world is unscarred by the excesses of empires. But in the Canadian context, the actions of the British Empire were largely benign and occasionally brilliant. The magnanimous provisions of the Quebec Act of 1774 ensured the survival of the French language and culture in Canada – to the everlasting benefit of our country. And the treaties negotiated with the Aboriginal inhabitants of our country, while far from perfect, were some of the fairest and most generous of the period. This genius for governance shown by the mother country at the time no doubt explains in part why Canada’s path to independence was so long, patient and peaceful. And it explains why your Queen is still our Queen, and why our “bond of comradeship” remains as sturdy today as it was in Mr. Churchill’s time.

That bond, ladies and gentlemen, was forged in bad times as well as good. Sometimes in the flames of war. When Britain has bled, Canada has bled. A generation of our young men share eternity with British Tommies in the fields of France. Another generation of Britons and Canadians fought side by side against Nazi fascism. Yet another helped our American cousins prevail over the menace of Soviet communism. And ever since that brief, illusory moment when we thought we were witness to “the end of history,” we have been allied in a new global conflict.

This is a conflict without borders. A conflict fought abroad and at home. A conflict in which the aggressor stands for nothing yet seeks to impose its will.

Through the destruction of terrorism. Through the slaughter of the innocent. And through the perversion of a faith.

So once more we face, as Churchill put it, “gangs of bandits who seek to darken the light of the world.” And once more we must appeal to our values, marshal our resources and steadfastly apply our will to defeat them.

Nicely put. This sure stirs pride in the good that our country stands for.

One of my friends traveling with the Prime Minister this week sent me a picture of Mr. Harper arriving at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel tonight to give the speech.

stephen-harper-london.JPG
Stephen Harper arrives in London to address the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce. Click to enlarge

News tip: Harper to meet with Thatcher

As reported by PoliticsWatch.com, the Prime Minister will be meeting with British PM Blair for a “tete-a-tete” at Number 10, and Mrs. Harper and the PM will have a private audience with the Queen.

However, what may have escaped the official itinerary and sits here for a tip for any enterprising reporter who may wish to use it: My sources tell me that the Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet with The Right Honourable The Baroness Margaret Thatcher today.

Oil at $76.70 USD a barrel

The price of oil just closed at $76.70 USD per barrel.

Why?

Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israeli resort town of Haifa
Israeli bombing (and rebombing) of Beirut airport runways
Hezbollah killing of 8 and kidnapping of 2 Israeli soldiers
Hamas kidnapping of Israeli soldier and subsquent Israeli offensive into Gaza
Bombing of Nigerian pipelines
North Korean missile tests
Mumbai terror bombings

Israel is “at war”