Sunday, March 30, 2014

Latest developments in the MH370 mystery

Let's be honest -- as Walt and the victims' families have been asking for weeks now -- about the search. Scores of planes and ships have been all over the southeastern part of the Indian Ocean, looking for "things" shown in several satellite images. So far they have found nothing -- rien, nada -- except garbage. Because it's our human nature to foul our own environment, the seas are full of trash, and that's what's going to turn up in the searchers' nets... especially if they're looking in the wrong place.

The lamestream media are reporting that dozens of Chinese relatives of passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 have descended on Kuala Lumpur early this morning. Why are they there? To demand proof from Malaysian authorities that the aircraft -- missing for more than three weeks -- crashed in the Indian Ocean. "Tell us the truth; show us the proof!" they cry, not unreasonably.

Walt believes the truth is out there. [Where did you get that line? Ed.] But not where the searchers are looking. The conspiracy theorists are coming out in full force now with explanations ranging from hijacking by Uighurs to abduction by aliens. Echoes of 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination are reverberating around the blogosphere.

Regular readers will know that Walt himself has thrown out some suggestions. See "MH370: Three guesses from Walt", "Where is MH370?" and "MH370: 1 + 3 = ??? Walt puts two possibilities together".

Lest you think I'm way out to lunch on the Diego Garcia connection -- "For the second time: Diego Garcia is a key piece of the MH370 puzzle" -- let me tell you that DG (as we'll call it) has been mentioned as a possibility in "Flight MH370 Found? Not Quite – Now the Real Whitewash Begins" and "Flight MH370 Is At Diego Garcia – Here’s The Proof". Google "Diego Garcia MH370" and you'll come up with at least half a dozen more pieces along the same lines. (I thought of it all by myself though!)

If the Chinese want the truth, they're asking the wrong people. The Malaysian authorities either don't know, or are saying what they're told to say by... wait for it... the US military. Information (or disinformation) has been coming from China, France, and Australia, as well as Malaysia, a staunch American ally.

But what have we heard from the country with the world's biggest network of satellites, military bases and other means to find out what really happened to MH370? Nothing -- rien, nada -- except garbage. I refer to the change of direction by the USS Kidd, which I queried on March 19th!

The Kidd had been searching to the north, more or less along the line between Malaysia and Diego Garcia, then suddenly did a 180 to the search area southwest of Perth. Was that done to throw others off the scent? Would the US Navy mislead us? Is the Pope Catholic? [There's some doubt about the last two questions. Ed.]

If the US military had nothing to do with the disappearance of MH370, why has nothing -- rien, nada -- been said by way of denial? Have the Prez and Mr. Skerry really been so preoccupied with the Ukraine that they haven't been able to comment? Walt has written to the White House requesting an explanation, but so far has received no reply.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elections coming up in Québec and Afghanistan -- who cares?

In the first week of April two "states" are holding elections of some interest to Walt, if not TROTW (The Rest of the World). I put "states" in quotes because we're talking about Québec -- actually a province of Canada, whether it* likes it or not -- and Afghanistan, an occupied territory of the Paranoid States of America.

The idea that there might be an election, no matter how flawed, in the Armpit of the Middle East is being hailed as a great triumph for the USA and its "coalition of the willing". The Afghan people will be free to vote for a replace for outgoing president Mohammad Krazai, we are told. That means there's at least a modicum of peace and stability in the almost-failed state. Yeah, sure. Walt is listening to a radio (!) report from the sandpit right now. Gunfire is clearly audible in the background.

The shooting is probably being done by the Taliban. Yes, they are still there, in spite the lost of 1000s of lives and billions of dollars over a dozen years, trying to run them out of Dodge. Latest realistic estimates put the numbers of Taliban higher than ever, and now they are threatening to kill anyone and everyone who dares to participate in the putative election. Their attack on the Serena Hotel a few days ago shows that they can do it, too... with impunity.

Meanwhile, there will be a free and fair provincial election in Québec. It will be as honest and democratic as such things ever get in la Belle Province, which is to say about as honest and democratic as an election in Chicago. The outcome is, however, of interest to the governments of Canada and (believe it or not) the UK, Russia and China, because of the spectre of separation.

That's right, messieurs/dames, the Québécois are having one of their periodic dithers about whether or not to remain a part of Canada. The real countries mentioned above are interested because they are all trying to figure out what to do about separatist movement in their own nations. The Scots want to separate from Britain. The Chechens and others want to separate from Russia. And Uighurs and Tibetans quite understandably want out of China.

The Québec election wasn't supposed to be about separation. The Parti Québécois, which has had a minority government for the last couple of years, decided to ride a wave of popular support following its introduction of a new Charter of Québec Values, so called a snap election. They looked set to win a majority because the people of Québec, outside of Montréal, really dislike the Islamization of their society.

Unfortunately for Québec Premier Pauline Marois, the prospect of a big win went to her head. She brought in a "star candidate", Pierre-Karl Péladeau, owner of the Québecor media conglomerate. M Péladeau's presence on the platform was meant to show the people that Québec is... or could be... an economic powerhouse on its own, and that's exactly what P-K said, with emphasis on the "I-word" -- Independence. Mme Marois had no choice but to say that, yes, her government would hold yet another referendum, when the time was right... whenever that might be.

The I-word and the R-word, combined in the same speeches, have scared the bejazus out of the naturally conservative Québécois, who are loath to give up things Canadian -- like Canadian passports, Canadian pensions and Canadian dollars. Look for the opposition Liberals to be returned to power and the debate over separatism to be ended... until next time.

As for Afghanistan, it doesn't matter who wins. The pitiful country, awash in opium, will continue to be plagued by corruption and violence. At some point it will officially be declared a "failed state". Perhaps some Western governments will at last admit that the mission to save the Afghans from themselves was a failure. But Walt wouldn't bet on it.

Lifetime pct .986.

* Interpret "it" either way, as you please.

Putin to Obama: "That's all... for now..."

Russian Tsar ["President", surely! Ed.] Vladimir Putin called US President ["Tsar", surely! Ed.] on the phone yesterday. What do you suppose he said?
a) "Can you hold off the sanctions for six weeks? I was going to take the kids to Disneyland."
b) "Your hockey team couldn't beat the Canadians either!"
c) "Just ignore the troops camping on the Ukrainian border. We're not going there... at the moment..."

The correct answer is "C". The Not-so-white-anymore House released a statement that said, "President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path... with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis. [He] made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

We were not told how Mr. Putin replied. Perhaps a snort of derision wasn't caught on the CIA's sensitive recording devices. In any case, the two leaders [one and a half? Ed.] agreed that their foreign ministers would meet soon to discuss the next steps.

For what it's worth, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country has no intention of sending troops into Ukraine. US Secretary of State John Skerry has said he hopes not, since any invasion would kind of... like... you know... oblige the US to do something to avoid losing the few shreds of credibility it has on the world stage.

The jaw that walks like a man is pushing a plan under which Russia would halt its military build-up on the border with Ukraine -- see (C) above" -- and withdraw its troops to its bases in Crimea.

Oh yeah, "international monitors" would be sent into the area too, "to protect the rights of Russian speakers". No mention was made of the rights of Ukrainians! The Kremlin version of yesterday's phone call says Mr. Putin drew Mr. Obama's attention to "the continued rampage of extremists" in Kiev and various regions of Ukraine. All is quiet in the Crimea, of course!

To sum up, Russia has occupied and annexed the Crimea -- a part of Ukraine for the last six decades -- with no casualties and barely a shot fired. And the Western "powers" have been unable to do a bloody (or unbloody) thing about it. Walt hopes that Mr. Putin will be satisfied that he's proven he's da man, and "The Leader of the Free World" isn't.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

For the second time: Diego Garcia is a key piece of the MH370 puzzle

There is a suggestion -- and it's only a suggestion, so far -- of the existence of a fairly large debris field in the southern Indian Ocean, a long way west of Perth, Australia. If the debris turns out to be the remains of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, the mystery of why it would have crashed into that remote part of the sea will only deepen. Even recovery of the black boxes won't likely tell us why the aircraft made the sharp turn to the west, and where it was headed before it (apparently) turned again to the south.

Speculation continues to mount. And finally the lamestream media have mentioned the "mysterious island" which Walt told you about ten (10) days ago. That would be Diego Garcia, the British possession which the USA uses as a forward base for naval and air power in southern Asia. See "Where is MH370?", in which I suggested that would be a good place to look.

Now check out "What really happened to Flight MH370?", from today's Globe and Mail. Is the Groan & Wail staffer who wrote the piece one of Walt's agents? And who is "Rick Cash", the source mentioned at the end of the piece? Here's what was said about Diego Garcia.

The shadowy island of Diego Garcia
The early news that Captain Shah had constructed a sophisticated flight simulator in his own home has prompted much speculation about his thinking, especially after authorities stated that some data had been deleted from the system. The unsourced reports claimed that the simulator held a program for practising a landing at Diego Garcia, the British possession which the United States has used as a forward base for naval and air power in southern Asia. Since the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., Diego Garcia has been regularly cited as home to one of the CIA’s “black sites” for secretly holding those captured in the global war against Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers. [The emphasis is mine. Walt]

Now take a look at the map. Finding one that shows Diego Garcia may be a bit of a trick. To help you locate the island, here are the co-ordinates for the naval air facility: 7°18′48″S 72°24′40″E. The atoll is about 967 nautical miles SSW of the southern tip of India and 2550 nautical miles WNW of the west coast of Australia.

Found it? Now take a highlighter and draw a line -- not too thin, please -- from there to the point where MH370 made the big turn to the west. If, as I speculated in "MH370: 1 + 3 = ??? Walt puts two possibilities together", the plane was hijacked, would Diego Garcia not seem to be a likely destination?

But (I hear you ask) who would divert a Beijing-bound plane to a "shadowy island"? And why? Good questions, but who to ask? Why not start with the US military...and its Commander-in-Chief?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

VIDEO: SWAT teams abuse your rights -- 1000s of times a year!

Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University's School of Justice Studies [sic] estimates that SWAT teams were deployed about 3000 times in 1980, but are now used about 50,000 times every year. The number of SWAT deployments soars even as violent crime falls

In the late 90s, the professor says, 89% of police departments in larger cities (population >50,000) had SWAT teams; 80% of cities with 25-50,000 people had them -- up from 20% in the mid-80s

The bully cops often rely on "no-knock" warrants, which let them force their way into a house -- maybe yours -- without announcing themselves. Obama's liberal-dominated Supreme Court says this is OK if they have a "reasonably suspicion" that announcing their presence would be dangerous or allow the suspect to destroy evidence, e.g. by flushing drugs down the toilet. Suspicion, reasonable or otherwise, is something American and Canadian cops have lots of. Some psychologists think "paranoia" is a better term.

Sometimes the cops make a mistake. Civil libertarian Radley Balko includes over 50 egregious abuses in Rise of the Warrior Cop: the Militarization of America's Police ForcesItem: In 2006, Kathryn Johnston, of Atlanta, aged 92, mistook the cops for robbers and fired a shot from an old pistol. The police shot her five times. RIP. After killing her, they planted marijuana in her home. It later emerged that they had falsified the information used to obtain their no-knock warrant

Item: In 2011, Eurie Stamps, stepfather of a suspected drug dealer but himself suspected of nothing, was killed while lying face down on the floor. Seems a SWAT cop tripped, causing his gun to discharge.

Item: In 2010, New Haven CT sent a SWAT team to a bar suspected of serving under-age drinkers.

Item: In the same year, heavily-armed police raided barber shops around Orlando FL, hunting (they said) for guns and drugs. They wound up arresting 34 people for, errr, "barbering without a licence".

Here's a short clip of Mr. Balko talking about his book.

Why do cops do these things? The same reason dogs lick their balls! Because they can! Cops are bullies by nature, and enjoy using unreasonable force. According to Prof. Kraska, most SWAT deployments are not in response to violent, life-threatening crimes (as was the point of creating the teams), but to serve drug-related warrants in private homes. Breaking down the door is easier than knocking.

Why do cops do these things? Because SWAT raids are profitable! Under laws allowing the forfeiture of "assets bought with the proceeds of crime", the cops get to keep the drugs, cars and cash they seize... especially the cash. They can even take your house. According to the Economist*, many police departments now depend on forfeiture for a fat chunk of their budgets.

Why do cops do these things? Because they like playing with military machinery and weapons -- things that go boom in the night.

Item: Keene NH, site of three (3) homicides between 1999 and 2012, spent nearly $286,000 on a BearCat armoured personnel carrier. Chief Wiggum said it would be used to patrol Keene's "Pumpkin Festival" and other dangerous situations.

Item: In Maricopa County AZ, a SWAT team broke into the living room of Jesus Llovera [possibly a vizmin? Ed.], who was suspected of organizing cockfights. The cops rolled a tank -- a tank! -- into Mr. Llovera's yard, killing more than 100 of his birds, as well as hig dog.

Dear gentle reader, if you live in a police state -- e.g. the Excited States of America or Her Majesty's Dominion of Canada -- this could happen to you! One of Walt's agents still carries a scar from a dawn raid on his country home nearly a quarter-century ago. If the cops don't like you, or just feel like having a little fun 'n' exercise, they'll pounce. Who's going to stop them?!

* Footnote: The examples used in this post were taken from "Cops or soldiers?", an excellent article in the March 22nd issue of The Economist. Run -- do not walk -- to your newsstand or library and get hold of it. Quick, before the cops confiscate it! Here is the conclusion of the magazine's editorial on the issue, "Armed and dangerous".

The militarisation of American law enforcement is alarming. The police are not soldiers. Armies are trained to kill the enemy; the police are supposed to uphold the law and protect citizens. They should use the minimum force necessary to accomplish those goals.

[The use of SWAT teams should be restricted] to situations where there are solid grounds to believe that the suspect involved is armed and dangerous. They should not be used to serve search warrants on non-violent offenders, or to make sure that strip joints are code-compliant, or in any circumstance where a knock on the door from a regular cop would suffice. The "war on drugs" is supposed to be me a metaphor, not a real war.

Further reading: "'Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book': The new warrior cop is out of control", by the same Radley Balko.

Friday, March 21, 2014

VIDEO: Wright on! America's chickens coming home to roost

Much earlier today, four young Afghan men walked unhindered into the most secure building in Kabul -- the Serena hotel, a favourite haunt of foreigners and the Afghan in-crowd who like to associate with them. The young men -- part of the Taliban -- shot four of the former and five of the latter, nine in all. Another "mission accomplished".

Walt thinks today is a good day to remember a sermon given by President Hussein Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

You might not have seen this before. Tapes of the speech (from which this video is clipped) were on sale at his Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, before and during the election of 2008. When it surfaced, and the import of it was understood, the lamestream media deep-sixed it. Only Rolling Stone gave much play to the Rev's utterances. And John McCain -- decent John McCain -- accepted Obama's "repudiation" of Mr. Wright at face value and told his people to stop making a big fuss about the preacher's rhetoric.

You know what, though? With every passing month, every passing day, Reverend Wright's denunciation or America's "war on terrorism" sounds... well... right on. Terrorism begets terrorism! The chickens are coming home to roost!

Don't cry me a river for Crimea

Russia has just about completed its annexation of Crimea, which for the last 60 years was a part of the Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers and sailors are leaving -- along with 1000s of civililans -- or taking the oath of fealty to Mother Russia and changing the badges on their uniforms. There are long lineups for Russian passports. And the azure and gold Ukrainian flag has been everywhere replaced by the Russian tricolour.

We should be neither surprised nor overly disappointed. As Walt explained three weeks ago, the Crimea's historical, political and ethnic ties to Russia are older and stronger than with Ukraine. In "Another Anschluss in Crimea", veteran Commie-watcher Eric Margolis says "Crimea was detached from the Russian Republic in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev after a drunken dinner and given as a grand (but then empty) gesture to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic."

Mr. Margolis goes on to call the annexation of Crimea "the first step in President Vladimir Putin’s slow, patient rebuilding of some of the former Soviet Union," about which no Western leaders should be surprised. Indeed. What worries Walt is: how much further will Putin go?

Will he, for instance, invade the eastern Ukraine? As my post of March 1st points out, the Ukraine in divided by the Dniepr River, not just geographically but by ethnicity, language and even religion. Thanks to decades of Soviet misrule and a long history before that, the eastern part of country is predominantly Russian. Will Putin claim a "responsibility to protect" the Russians of eastern Ukraine as he did with those of the Crimea and, only a few years earlier, Georgia?

And if he does, who will stand on the side of the Ukrainians? So far the "leaders of the free world" have embarrassed themselves with their idle threats of "serious consequences" which so far have amounted to no more than feeble sanctions against a few mid-level individuals, who will no longer be allowed to travel to the USA or western Europe. "Ooo. Ooo. That really hurts!" See "Putin: 'Are you talkin' to me?!'"

Eric Margolis says "the western allies have committed the same error over Ukraine that they did over Czechoslovakia in the mid-1930’s: extending security guarantees they could not possibly fulfill. As of now, it looks like Putin’s gambit over Crimea will work and there is nothing the West can do about it but huff, puff and impose mutually negative economic sanctions."

We are witnessing yet another example of the ineptitude and failure of American foreign policy. Margolis again: "Washington’s pot-calls-kettle black denunciations of the Crimea referendum ring hollow given the blatantly rigged votes coming up in US-dominated Egypt and Afghanistan." The Prez has again shown himself a master of dissembling, compromise and appeasement. "We'll hold your coat," he says to the Ukrainian prime minister, and "we're standing behind you." Sotto voce he adds, "...until your nose bleeds."

Mr. Margolis writes: "By moving twelve F-16 fighters to Poland and warships to the Black Sea, a Russian 'lake', Washington has provided enough military forces to spark a war but not to win it. Anyway, the very clever Putin knows it’s all bluff. He holds the high cards. Moreover, too few in Washington are asking what earthly interests the US has in Ukraine? About as much as Russia has in Nebraska.

"Yet the bankrupt US is to lend $1 billion to the anti-Russian Kiev leadership and risk war in a foolish challenge to Russia in a region where it has nothing to be gained. Except, of course, for the US neocons who have played a key role in engineering the coup in Kiev and this crisis. They want to see Russia punished for supporting Syria and the Palestinians."

Walt's guess -- and that's all it is -- is that there will be no further invasion of Ukraine. Putin will content himself with recapturing what really is a part of Russia, with a bit more sabre-rattling and demonstrations of military might to put the wind further up the feckless Westerners. If I'm wrong (lifetime pct .989), pray God help the Ukrainians, because no-one else is going to.

Note from Ed.: Thanks to Agent 6 for the link to the Margolis piece.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MH370: 1 + 3 = ??? Walt puts two possibilities together

The afternoon is pretty well over. Walt has been watching the idiot's lantern all day, hoping to see some encouraging news -- anything at all -- about the situation in Ukraine and the Western response -- anything at all -- to Russia's annexation of the Crimea.

I thought I might see a statement from the Jaw That Walks Like A Man -- the Secretary of State -- or perhaps "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," meaning the Prez. But noooo, I saw only the man who uttered those words*, Veep Joe Biden, who was apparently in Lithuania and not happy to be there. I've seen more animated fenceposts.

What all this has to do with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will now be explained.

In "MH370: Three guesses from Walt", I gave you three possible answers to the question of what happened to MH370.
1. It was hijacked -- by whom or for what reason unknown.
2. Nobody was flying the plane -- appears to be partly correct, in that it is now suspected that the big U-turn to the southwest was programmed into the plane's computer.
3. It was shot down -- by the Chinese or American military, by design or by accident.

I think now that the explanation may be a combination of Nos. 1 and 3. For the purposes of this theory, let's fold No. 2 into No. 1. Here's how it might have played out.

MH370 makes the big turn, as commanded by its computer, and flies across the Malay peninsula and the Strait of Malacca, where it is "seen" by Malaysian radar. Whether it's under the control of one or both pilots or someone else doesn't matter. The plane is headed WSW to a destination unknown. According to some experts, it may have been flying under the radar -- literally -- below 5000 feet to avoid detection.

Nevertheless, somewhere over the southern part of the Indian Ocean, MH370 is spotted by a ground or airborne radar system, perhaps the radar of a military aircraft on patrol over that fairly empty part of the sea. What nation keeps its eye on that part of the ocean? Well, the USA for one, from its base at Diego Garcia.

The American (just sayin') aircraft intercepts the unidentified aircraft -- its transponder and other communications systems were turned off, remember -- and fires a missile, either as a warning or intending to hit it. If the missile hits the airliner, there should be a big bang, with 1000s of pieces of debris plunging into or onto the sea. Yet no wreckage has been seen. Why?

I'll tell you. Consider this possibility... Whoever's flying MH370 sees the missile coming and tries to take evasive action. A B-777 isn't as easy to manoeuvre as, say, an F-18. If it were put into a too-tight turn or a too-steep dive, it could plummet into the water at such an angle that it wouldn't break up -- straight down, like the Titanic only nose-first.

Either way, whoever shot at MH370 would know what happened to it. And they would tell their commanders, wouldn't they? Probably even the Commander-in-Chief would be notified. But would the rest of the world be told? See Walt's scenario No. 3.

Not only would "mum" be the word, but the country whose air force did the deed might even deliberately put searchers off the scent. I note that the USS Kidd, which was searching to the west of Malaysia, was withdrawn from the operation yesterday, supposedly at the request of the Malaysian government. "Nothing to see here, folks!"

Walt's latest theory also gives a reason for the invisibility of Messrs Obama and Kerry. I wouldn't be surprised if they've been huddling all day trying to figure out how to put the best face on the truth, when it comes out, as it must.

* Quoted in The New York Observer on 31 January 2007, quoted in Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (Harper Collins 2010).

9/11: US version of the Reichstag Fire? What about MH370?

The Reichstag was the German parliament in the 1930s. The name also referred to the building which housed it. On 27 February 1933 the building was destroyed by an arson attack. Like subsequent events which changed history, it was initially blamed on "just one man, acting alone" -- Marinus van der Lubbe, a somewhat retarded Dutch bricklayer who was caught at the scene. He was also a card-carrying Communist. Thus the Nazis were able to claim that the Communists were plotting against the German government, which was true enough but hadn't been confirmed by any overt acts until then.

The burning of the Reichstag was a turning point in the rise of Nazi Germany. Hitler, who had become Chancellor of Germany just four weeks before the fire, talked President Paul von Hindenburg into passing an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties in order to counter the "ruthless confrontation of the Communist Party of Germany".

After passing the decree, the government instituted mass arrests of Communists, including all of the Communist parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival Communists gone and their seats empty, the Nazis went from being a plurality party to the majority. Subsequent elections confirmed this position and thus allowed Hitler to establish his Third Reich.

Some historians suggest that the Mr van der Lubbe, a mildly retarded and suggestible person, was put up to the arson by the Nazis themselves, as what is now called a "false flag" operation. It's a movie which the world would see again... and again...

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth is one of many groups of "truthers" who believe that the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on 11 September 2001 was caused by a controlled demolition. (The official investigation says falling debris from the nearby Twin Towers ignited fires in Building 7 and ultimately caused its collapse.)

One of AE911's members, architect Richard Gage, is on a speaking tour, "raising a red flag" (his phrase) not just in the USA but in Canada. "We're not trying to upset anybody," says the self-styled patriotic American, [but] "if there’s any question about what happened on 9/11, which created two wars and the loss of our civil liberties and massive economic hardship...then we’ve got to get to a real investigation and answer these questions."

Who would have been behind this controlled demolition and perhaps the whole 9/11 outrage? Fingers were naturally pointed at Muslim terrorists. But there were those -- including the creators of South Park-- who painted a different picture. Could it not have been the government of Bush the younger, seeking to create a "casus belli" as an excuse to start Desert Storm II and create a police state in America?

Consider what followed in the aftermath of 9/11:
- legislation like the Patriot Act in the USA (and similar "security" laws in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere)
- a de facto police state where the power of the military and "security forces" is unquestioned
- the drastic curtailment of the freedoms we used to take for granted: to bear arms, to criticize the government, to travel in our countries
- the invasion and brutal occupation of Afghanistan by NATO of Iraq and Afghanistan, and
- a resurgence of American imperialism in the guise of being the world's policeman.

Suggested reading: "Too Many Years Of Lies: From Mossadeq to 9/11" by Paul Craig Roberts, author of How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State (just released) and The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Which brings us to MH370, still unaccounted for as the guesses and theories multiply. The words "Muslims" and "terrorism" are on the tips of many tongues.

The pilot and co-pilot of the ill-fated plane were Muslims. (Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country.) MH370 might have been hijacked by Uighur (Muslim) terrorists as part of an attack on China. (Unlikely, but who knows.) Or the Taliban or al-Qaeda might have diverted the plane to a secret airstrip to turn it into a giant flying bomb!

Nothing can be ruled out! For Walt, "nothing" includes the possibility that the American military may have diverted MH370 to a location they control, like Diego Garcia, which should have been within range.

Why would they do this? To divert attention from the failure of Obama's foreign policy in the Crimea? Or -- far worse -- to set that stage for a catastrophe in Afghanistan -- not a long flight from Diego Garcia -- which would "require" the Americans to stay in the sandpit for another couple of years, even if the Afghans don't want them there. You read it here first.

See also: MH370: Three guesses from Walt

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mission accomplished? Taliban, al-Qaeda still blowing up Afghans

As Walt reported in "Afghans mourn departure of Canadian soldiers" -- the Canadian Armed Forces closed their Middle East orifice ["office", surely! Ed.] last week, having done their bit to leave Afghanistan a safer and more civilized place than they found it when they joined the American invasion 12 years ago.

No senior officials of the Canadian government were on hand for the flag-lowering and final playing of "O Canada" (closing with the customary shout of "Drop the puck!"), but the Canadian commanding officer, Lance-Corporal Justin Beaver, assured the Canuck media that Afghanistan had been pacified and developed and would be in good hands with the new Afghan Army. We're satisfied, he said, that everything will be just hotsy-totsy.

Today the BBC reports that a suicide bomb attack in northern Afghanistan has killed at least 15 people, including women and children. Another 27 were wounded in the attack in Maymana, the capital of Faryab province, provincial governor Mohammadullah Batash said. To be fair, this part of the sandpit wasn't in Canada's zone, so the Canucks can hardly be blamed. Must have been the Americans.

The bomber is believed to have detonated his explosives near the entrance to a busy market. No group has so far said it carried out the bombing. However, Taliban insurgents and the al-Qaeda affiliated group the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are active in the volatile region.

The attack comes as Afghans prepare to hold elections on April 5th, to freely and democratically choose a success to corrupt and useless President Krazai. Once the new president and his cronies are ensconced, the Americans will be able to leave, with hearty cries of "Mission accomplished!" and "Infidel go home!" ringing in their ears.

Updated at nigh noon - It has come to Walt's attention that some of you did not get the joke in the last sentence. It would be the TALIBAN who would be yelling "Mission accomplished!", because the foreign infidels had finally been chased out of their (alleged) country. Goddit now?!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Where is MH370?

On Friday, Walt posted three guesses as to what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight 370, which remains very much missing.

Wikipedia tells us [You can look it up. Ed.] - Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

The United States Navy operates Naval Support Facility (NSF) Diego Garcia, a large naval ship and submarine support base, military air base [with a very long runway! Walt], communications and space-tracking facility, and an anchorage for pre-positioned military supplies for regional operations aboard Military Sealift Command ships in the lagoon.

Playing the "Hitler card" in the debate over the Crimea

Everybody's doing it. Hellery Clinton did it. John McCain did it. Steve Harper did it. John "Nancy" Baird did it. Even Walt may have done it. [Ed., please check.] What's "it"? Comparing Putin's annexation of the Crimea -- to be confirmed by the illegal "referendum" in progress today -- with Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland in 1938.

Little did I know, when I wrote what I wrote [Ed., please check.] that "playing the Hitler card" has been done so much in the last half-century that an American lawyer by the name of Mike Godwin has formulated a law which defines it. I learned this reading "The Hitler analogy", by CBC Radio's Michael Enright. The article, which I assume was the script for today's Sunday Edition, is so good that I'm going to copy the whole thing below. I hope CBC won't mind.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been subjected in our media to a perfect unfolding of Godwin's Law. We have seen it illustrated by Hillary Clinton, Stephen Harper, Senator John McCain and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

Each of these worthies has compared Russian President Vladimir Putin's adventurism in Ukraine and Crimea to Adolph Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland in 1938.

Godwin's Law or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies states, roughly, that in any discussion of a controversial subject, sooner or later somebody will make the comparison to Hitler and Nazism. Right-wing commentators follow up the Hitler/Putin reference by describing the West's anemic response to appeasement. We are back in 1939.

In my conversation with Russian expert Charles King last week, Professor King said nowadays in any international crisis, "You don't have countries going to war, you have analogies going to war."

The American lawyer and writer Mike Godwin formulated his thesis in 1990 after listening to Hitler comparisons on internet newsgroups. It is also known by other names; playing the Hitler card, for instance, and "reductio ad Hitlerium".

Another name for the practice is association fallacy. Which means, if I understand it, to ascribe behaviour we don't like to Hitler. For example, Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore vegetarianism is a bad thing. He was in favour of euthanasia, therefore euthanasia is wrong.

One result of this so-called fallacious analogy is to effectively and immediately shut down debate. If you or your argument is compared to Hitler and Nazism, there is very little incentive to continue arguing your point. There is no place to go after dropping the Hitler bomb.

In addition, it demonizes your opponent in debate. Nobody likes any association with Hitler or being called a Nazi. That's the reason that not many baby boys are being christened Adolph these days.

Putin has no intention of trying to conquer Europe, as far as I know. Nor is it part of his geopolitics to contemplate wiping out millions of Ukrainians, as Hitler did with Jews.

The whole idea of reductio ad Hitlerium was coined by the conservative philosopher Leo Strauss in 1951. He called it a fallacy of irrelevance. Not only irrelevant, but in the arena of high diplomacy, downright useless.

Without question Putin's moves have heightened world tensions...and it seems to make some kind of sense for Western powers to respond; but playing the Hitler card gets us nowhere.

Friday, March 14, 2014

MH370: Three guesses from Walt

Walt has been waiting for Agent 17, a.k.a. Sky King, to provide a plausible explanation for the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 last weekend. It appears, though, that SK has no ready answer, making him no worse than the "experts" of half a dozen interested countries. Nobody knows. Everybody's guessing. So Walt will indulge in a little speculation. [He speculates every day! Filthy habit... Ed.] Here are three possibilities.

1. MH370 was hijacked. This has been one of the leading theories since the plane vanished. But hijacked by whom? And why? No-one has claimed responsibility or given a motive. It has been reported that the plane flew for hours after it was last heard from, and the US Navy is going to look around the Andabar Islands. For those who weren't paying attention in geography class, the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago belongs to India. There is a large penal colony there. Nothing else. Why hijack a plane and demand to be taken to jail?

How about a hijacking by pirates, looking for a rajah's ransom for wealthy Chinese passengers? Pirates abound in the South China and Sulu Seas, and the Malacca Straits. But the logistics of seafaring pirates attacking an airliner are daunting. Where would you land the aircraft? How do you prove you've got the hostages without giving away your location? And what happens after you make your ransom demand? But who knows. Maybe pirates did pull it off and now realize they scored a lot more trouble than they bargained for. What do they do? Call up the airline and say "Hey, sorry, it was just a piratical prank?" Noooo...

2. Nobody was flying the plane. Walt is not talking about pilot error, just pilot negligence. Remember Eastern Airlines flight 401? EA401 was a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar -- the best jumbo jet ever made, IMHO -- which crashed into the Florida Everglades on 29 December 1972. 99 people were killed; two more died soon afterward. 75 survived. Turned out the entire flight crew had been preoccupied with a burnt-out landing gear indicator light. While crawling around the cockpit trying to deal with it, someone bumped into the autopilot control, turning it off, and no-one noticed. As a result, the plane descended slowly into the inky darkness of the swamp, where pieces of it remain to this day.

MH370 had the usual two pilots. The captain was by all accounts a "pilot's pilot", very experienced and a real straight arrow. However, a report out of South Africa says the first officer was something of a showboat and womanizer, given to inviting comely ladies to inspect the, errr, cockpit and (perhaps) try out for the Mile-High Club. Suppose the pilots were not alone in the cockpit, and that the contortions required to accommodate a guest or two led to some accidental interference with the controls.

3. MH370 was shot down. This may seem the most far-fetched, but it's Walt's current favourite. Before you laugh loudly, cast your mind back to 1 September 1983. Korean Air Lines flight 007 was en route from New York to Seoul via Anchorage. As it neared the Sakhalin Islands, in the Sea of Japan, it was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor, killing all 269 pax and crew aboard. The Soviets claimed KE007 had flown through prohibited Soviet airspace on a reconnaissance mission for the USA. They said it was a deliberate provocation to test the Soviet Union's military preparedness, or even to provoke a war.

Now suppose you're a pilot of the Chinese Air Force, or the Vietnamese Air Force (they do have one) or even the USAF. (What?! You don't think the Americans have military planes cruising around up there?) You're looking for other planes which are somewhere they shouldn't be doing, errr, something, when suddenly you see a target -- a plane with no ID. (MH 307's transponder was not working or turned off, remember.) So you shoot at it -- a shot across the bow, so to speak. Only you kind of miss the bow and hit the target bang on, causing it to plummet into the drink.

If you were that pilot -- Chinese, American, whatever -- what would you do? Would you radio "Hey, I think I mighta done a bad thing!"? Well OK, maybe you're humanitarian enough to call 9-1-1 (so to speak). Your call is received and recorded at home base. You tell them the plane -- or whatever it was -- was blown into a billion bits and there are no signs of life, or even debris. What would your military bosses, and the government of your country, do? Would they say, "We know where it is...or what's left of it."? Not bloody likely! A war might ensue! And whether you're China or America, you don't want to start a war you might lose. Better to say nothing.

What to do then? Well, you could publish a satellite image -- possibly doctored -- showing some debris in a location far away from the scene of the crime, and say the plane must be down there somewhere. Or you could send a couple of ships off on a wild goose chase, to throw the others off the trail. You get the picture.

All three scenarios are plausible, in my humble opinion. If anyone wants to shoot them down -- pardon the pun -- that's what the "Comments" section is for.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Who's Canada's team? Eh?? EH!!

Ed. here. It's been a while since we did the mailbag bit, wherein I answer readers' questions about Walt or WWW or whatever. Today we have space for just one. Justine Truedough writes: I notice that Walt seems to be a fan of the Montréal Canadiens. Can you tell me why?

Bonne question, Justine! By way of answer, I've selected a passage from The Unfinished Canadian, by Andrew Cohen (McClelland & Stewart, 2007), a fine book mentioned by Walt in his second post today. He highlighted these paragraphs in the last chapter, "The Future Canadian". I've added an appropriate photo.

Hockey is Canada's high church. For this is the country of the Trail Smokeaters, the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs -- and the Olympic women's hockey team. Most famously, it is the country of the Montréal Canadiens. Even their name says something about us. Up the late 1800s, les Canadiens were the real Canadians, those who spoke French and lived in Québec. It is fitting that the name of the greatest team in hockey should marry Montréal, once the foremost city of Canada, and les Canadiens, the first Canadians. They have come to represent not just the city and Québec but something greater than that, the country itself.

For les Canadiens are what we were, what we are, and what we may be. For years, they were French and English in perfect balance, one of those few national institutions that brought us together. They were Harvey, Harris, Worsley, and Moore. They were Savard, Rousseau, Tremblay, and Plante. They were the country itself, winning and losing, but mostly winning. In the history of the sport, no team has won more professional championships. Twenty-four pennants hang from the rafters of the Bell Centre in Montreal.

And how they won! They were élan itself. The fire of Maurice Richard, the moxie of Doug Harvey, the tenacity of Henri Richard, the power of Bernie Geoffrion, the wings of Yvan Cournoyer, the tentacles of Ken Dryden. Most of all, there was Jean Béliveau, the quintessence of class itself, floating above the maelstrom, his stick a paintbrush sweeping across an incandescent white and blue canvas. Their retired numbers hang from the rafters, too. This is our national portrait gallery.

Their language was not so much English and French, but success. They were what we were. Today, the Canadiens are not just English and French; in fact, they are hardly either, any more. Today they are the world -- Swiss, Finns, Russians, Americans, French, Czechs and Kazakhstanis.

They have no identity crisis. They have no resentment or jealousy or ambiguity and show moderation in everything but the pursuit of excellence. They do not ask who they are and no one asks them. Their temple is cloaked in history -- the championships they have won, the torches they have passed. They know where they are from and who came before them. They do not agonize over divided loyalties or different nationalities. They know instinctively where they belong, in the Dominion of Success. These are les Canadiens....

Canada -- the greatest hotel on earth!

Walt has just finished reading The Unfinished Canadian, by Andrew Cohen (McClelland & Stewart, 2007), and can't resist passing along -- without editorial comment [Who? Me? Ed.] -- this passage from the chapter entitled "The Casual Canadian".

Canada is becoming "a community of communities" -- the vision of Canada expressed by former prime minister Joe Clark -- though surely not as he imagined it....

Yann Martel, the award-winning novelist, calls Canada "the greatest hotel on earth. It welcomes people from everywhere." A perceptive and apt description, it imagines a Canada in which everyone is a visitor, occupying a room, a floor, or even a wing, depending on the means. No one stays for very long because no one wants to make an extended commitment.

A hotel is impermanence, by its very nature the most tenuous of loyalties. People come and go. In point of fact, this is actually true of Canada; some 30 per cent of immigrants are thought to return home after getting citizenship....

This compartmentalization of Canada emerges in unsavoury ways: in the grim, urban corridors where Jamaican, Haitian and other street gangs fight each other; in the high-rise housing projects filled with Somalis and other struggling minorities; in the epidemic of violence against women in the Indo-Canadian community; in the desire of some Muslims in Ontario to use Sharia law; in the arrests of eighteen suspected terrorists, all of them Muslim, whom no authority would identify as such....

There are reasons for worry. Michael Valpy, the journalist and author, sees trouble among second-generation minorities who are not entering mainstream society and risk becoming part of the underclass.

Tarek Fatah, a broadcaster, warns of fundamentalist Islamists who use multiculturalism to present themselves as moderates to "hide their misogynist, homophobic and segregationist agenda." He warns that if Canadians don't redouble their efforts to integrate and promote a secular society, "we risk creating a fragmented nation, divided into twenty-first-century religious and racial tribes, suspicious of each other and longing for the home we left behind."

Walt agrees with and endorses every word, except for the second part of the quote from Tarek Fatah (last sentence in the preceding paragraph) which is hopelessly idealistic and downright naive. The damage has been done, and I can't think of any politically acceptable way to undo it. Can you?

Footnote: Americans and Britons needn't feel smug or safe. Citizenship of the UK and/or USA is harder to get than Canadian -- Canucks are just stupid about this -- but the description of the minority ghettos of Toronto could just as easily apply to New York, or London, or just about any "Western" city.

China tells Zimbabwe to curb corruption

Today's Newsday reports an egregious instance of a pot calling a kettle, errr, black.

The kleptocratic government of Zimbabwe has developed yet another "recovery programme" called "ZimAsset" -- the latest in a long line of economic restructuring plans which have been scuppered by ignorance, incompetence and endemic corruption. Zimbabwe's latest BFF, China, wants ZimAsset to succeed, so Zimbabwe will continue to subsist long enough for China to plunder it of diamonds and the few "ZimAssets" which have not already been sold or stolen by Comrade Bob and his cronies.

But, said Wang Wenbin (CEO of the state-owned Industrial Commercial Bank of China), the latest economic blueprint could only bear fruit if the Zimbabwean government deals effectively with the scourge of corruption.

Mr. Wang told Zimbo MPs at one of the inevitable eat-and-talkfests that China managed to become the world’s largest growing economy after it launched an effective anti-corruption campaign. "We had a nationwide anti-corruption movement targeting both the tigers and flies and ministers were investigated, and some of them are already in jail for corruption," said the banker. "You cannot make an economy grow to higher levels without tackling corruption."

Walt reminds Mr. Wang that there are no tigers in Africa. Plenty of flies though, as you might expect...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Afghans mourn departure of Canadian soldiers

158 lives, $1.5 billion and 12 years after joining the American invasion of Afghanistan, the last of Canada’s military personnel -- recently disguised as "trainers" -- hauled down the flag in Kabul this morning. This afternoon they hauled ass out of the sandpit.

One of the reasons advanced by the government of "Call me Steve" Harper for Canada's involvement in a hopeless conflict was the protection and enhancement of the rights of Afghan women. An Afghan woman -- we presume* -- is seen here bidding farewell to the departing Canadian troops.

"Hey Joe," she says, "You want buy fancy underwear take home to girlfriend? Buy 3 pairs I throw in my daughter!" [Translation has not been checked for accuracy. Ed.]

The Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan told the departing troops, "Your strength has protected the weak; your bravery has brought hope to hopeless; and the helping hand you have extended to the Afghan people has given them faith that a better future is within their grasp." Canuck soldiers stifled snickers, for they (and everyone at home except Don Cherry) know the truth of the matter.

Heavy combat, roadside bombings and other incidents took the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors. Many soldiers who returned home injured or profoundly changed by the experience are now struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, inadequate mental health care services, unemployment and other issues.

A number have committed suicide in recent months, including one whose grieving mother just received a cheque for one (1) cent -- 0.9 cents in real money -- severance pay from a grateful nation.

Security is deteriorating in many parts of the country, raising serious questions about Afghanistan’s future. Just this week, a European journalist was shot, execution-style, not far from the Canadian embassy. A Taliban group claimed responsibility for the killing. A spokesthingy said, "We didn't know he was a Swede. All these infidels look the same."

NATO combat forces -- chiefly American -- still in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave at the end of the year. However, member nations have promised $4.1 billion a year in funding for the country’s alleged security forces. The money will be spent on upgrading their uniforms, for instance by lining the pockets of their officers.

The departing Canadian commander was unable to turn out the lights, since the bulbs and copper wiring had been stolen.

* Hard to tell when someone's wearing a burqa! This just in... In "How the West made a hash of the Afghan war", CBCNews has a picture of this same woman (???) who is identified as a beggar. The article is worth reading!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bill O'Reilly's latest "book" disappoints

Let's get a couple of things straight. I like Bill O'Reilly. I watch The O'Reilly Factor and enjoy seeing him expose the hypocrisy and barrenness of the the "secular progressive" agenda. Watching him skewer the Prez before the Superbowl was a treat.

You may take from this that I agree with Mr. O'Reilly's point of view on matters political, social and religious. You would be right. (So is he. So am I.) What I wish, however, is that he would restrict his "bloviating" -- his word -- to the airwaves, and leave the polemical writing to someone else.

Why? Because, sadly, Bill O'Reilly is no writer. For him to tout his latest opus, Keep It Pithy (Crowne Archtype, 2013), as "a literary highlight reel" is just wrong. It could be called a book by virtue of being printed on paper and bound in a hard cover, but it is not literature. I'll give him "highlight reel" though, for the "book" is really a collection of snippets from his TV scripts and transcripts. He shares with "my pal Charles Flowers" credit (or blame) for the compilation of the print equivalent of a TV "clip show".

A better compiler or editor might have attempted to impose on the collection some order or coherence. As it is, Mr. O'Reilly covers all the ground from abortion to [Ed., please insert a noun that begins with "Z"], in the zigzag fashion of a drunk wending his way home from the pub. He goes from "a little manual for dealing with the opposite sex" (pp. 102-104) to an argument against the death penalty (pp. 105-106) and onward to how to create your own "No Spin Zone" (pp. 106-109). The transition from the the first topic to the second is handled in that one-liner beloved of stand-up comics, "But, more seriously..." The ellipsis is his.

The ideas are there, all right, but they are neither original nor well-expressed. One wonders if Mr. O'Reilly's thinking is any deeper than shown by such profundities as:
- "Bottom line: Terrorist killers and those who support them are evil. Period." (p. 54)
- "The more stuff I have, the more stuff I want. And so I looked around and saw that everyone else was the same way. It was not until I had a few things that I noticed how this works. The material stuff is addicting!" (p. 57)
- "Why is there so much drug and alcohol abuse in America today? Simple: Alcohol and drugs make huge profits for legal and illegal organizations." (p. 60)
- "Here's the takeaway: If you are after success in America, substance abuse can be your downfall." (ibid.)

How's that for in-depth analysis? I've seen deeper puddles on sidewalks after a summer shower in Arcadia FL! And Keep It Pithy is full of that kind of pith. There's a fair bit of vinegar too, but the whole effect is like listening to a junior high school valedictory speech.

I am a social conservative, a religious traditionalist, and a foe of secular humanism/progressivism and political correctness in all their forms and guises. But I do spend time reading and thinking about issues such as same-sex "marriage", the campaign against public expressions of Christian Faith and the failure of Western foreign policy.

Sometimes I write about these things. So do thinkers who can write much better than I...and much, much better than Bill O'Reilly. Keep It Pithy makes me long to read the deep and well-articulated thoughts of Enoch Powell, or, closer to home, William F. Buckley Jr. If it's a compilation you're after, I recommend Freedom and Reality (a collection of Enoch Powell's speeches: Arlington House, 1969) and/or Quotations from Chairman Bill (self-explanatory: Arlington House, 1970). Both volumes occupy places of honour in my working library here at my cabin in the woods. As for Keep It Pithy, I wouldn't give it shelf space.

Sad footnote: Whatever happened to Arlington House? From 1964 to 1988 it was a publisher of jazz discographies, as well as conservative and anti-communist books. It is now defunct, but you can probably find the titles recommended on Amazon.

Desperate Catholic Church now offering sainthood to anyone who attends Mass regularly

Earlier today (see preceding post) Walt mentioned the long and complex process involved in canonizing someone -- making them a saint of the One True Church. I was talking about Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who died in 1979 and has only now been credited with the first of two miracles necessary to canonization.

Too bad that Archbishop Sheen wasn't alive today, as the Church seems about to relax the rules a little. Agent 36 alerts us to this report from the Onion.

VATICAN CITY—Alerting faithful around the world to changes regarding its process of beatification and canonization, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi announced today that the Roman Catholic Church will now bestow sainthood on any man or woman who attends weekly mass on a regular basis.

"After careful deliberation and prayer, the Church has elected to enter any believer into the Canon of Saints so long as he or she is pure of heart and shows up to mass once a week, or even three out of four times a month," Lombardi wrote in a statement distributed to all dioceses worldwide, noting that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will promptly begin taking up the cases of any parishioner who arrives on time and stays for the whole thing.

"We are also waiving the requirement that individuals be dead before attaining sainthood. As long as you take Communion and stick around for a few minutes after the service, you're pretty much in. You can be patron saint of anything you want—good health, food, music, whatever—as long as you're sitting in that pew."

Lombardi said that in addition to revising canonization procedures, the Vatican would now allow anyone who attends mass to put on the priest's vestments at the end of the service and play the church's organ if they want.

It's satire, right?! But like all good satire, it's based on the truth. A new Pew Research Center survey has found that indeed, Holy Mother Church is having trouble putting posteriors in the pews -- this in spite of the rock star popularity of Francis the Party Pope.

According to the survey, 85% of American Catholics have a favourable view of the second of two living popes. That's up from 79% in September. The first of the two, Benedict XVI, was viewed favourably by 67% to 83% in the past. JPII got higher ratings than both of them, ranging from 91% to 93% in past surveys.

Dear Catholic readers, what lesson do we learn from this? Just about anyone who sits on the Throne of Peter is bound to be viewed in a positive light by the majority of Catholics, no matter who he is or what he does.

But will the same majority pay attention to his teachings? Errr, no. According to the same survey, 63% of Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly -- the candidates for sainthood mentioned above -- want the Church to change Her teaching on birth control. 72% want to allow priests to get married. 68% support women’s ordination to the priesthood. And 50% support same-sex "marriage".

The percentages are even higher among Catholics who attend Mass less than once a week. That whirring noise you hear underneath you would be the sound of real saints spinning in their graves.

Cause for beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen makes progress

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was the first Catholic TV star. (OK, there was Ed Sullivan, but we're talking about a Catholic clergyman!) His programme, Life Is Worth Living, began in 1951 and attracted millions of viewers in prime time. At one time the most popular programme on American TV, it can still be seen in reruns and on YouTube.

In October of 1979, two months before the prelate's death, Pope John Paul II visited St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and embraced him, saying, "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church." And so he was.

In due course a cause for Archbishop Sheen's canonization was opened. Yesterday the President of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, announced that a team of medical experts has verified the authenticity of a miracle attributed to Archbishop Sheen's intercession. This moves the beloved preacher a step closer to beatification.

The panel of experts, appointed by the Vatican, found no medical explanation for the case of a child who was restored to life after being stillborn. Medical personnel had tried for an hour to revive the child, without success, while the parents prayed for the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. The child, born in September 2010, is now a healthy 3-year-old.

The reported miracle will now be examined by a team of theologians. If they approve, it will then be submitted to the entire Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The final approval of the miracle would fulfill the last requirement for the beatification of Cardinal Sheen, who was proclaimed “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2012.

Click here to visit a website which includes links to 48 audio files (MP3) of Archbishop Sheen's teachings on Life is Worth Living. Younger Catholics raised on the wishy-washy catechism which followed Vatican II should hear these clear and powerful statements of the True Faith, the traditional Faith of Our Fathers.

Finally, Walt offers one -- just one -- of the many talks by Archbishop Sheen which you can find on YouTube. This is one of the later ones, not a recording of the TV show, although there are plenty of those too. Since we are just beginning Lent, it will do us good -- you and me -- to listen to this reflection on sin, guilt and the Sacrament of Confession. (There's no such sacrament in the modern Church. Now they call it "reconciliation" and nobody talks about it much because it makes us feel... well... you know... kind of guilty.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Muslim man wore burqa while killing wife who wanted divorce

If you're a Muslim and your wife demands a divorce, what do you do? Give her one, obviously! Or you could kill her, to preserve the family honour.

How would you disguise yourself if you chose the second option? Perhaps by donning a burqa and slipping into a pair of wedgies (shoes, that is) so you might pass for a woman? That's what Abdul Malik Rustam did on 22 July 2011. That's him in the picture. He was sentenced yesterday to life in prison (with no chance of parole for 17 years) for the second-degree murder of his 21-year-old wife, Shaher Bano Shahdady, after she asked for a divorce.

Then he left their son, not yet 2 years of age, with his mother’s body for 15 hours before she was discovered in her Toronto apartment. "The accused demonstrated an exceptionally callous disregard for that young child’s well-being," said the sentencing judge. "It’s hard to fathom what that child went through. The only glimmer of hope is that he’s so young it will fade into that child’s memory."

The deadly attack occurred shortly, but not immediately, after Rustam entered his estranged wife’s home. "This was not a case of a heated argument that escalated into physical violence," the judge said. "This courageous young woman fought for her life," leaving scratch marks on her husband's face and neck.

After the murder, the very righteous Rustam returned to his victim's parents' home and accompanied his father-in-law -- yes, the father of the girl he had just killed -- to the mosque for 4:30 a.m. prayers. Later that day he confessed to his brother that he had "finished her by the throat."

The brother alerted the victim’s family to go to her home. While they were knocking, Rustam showed up and opened her door. When he saw her corpse, he rushed away in grief [Really? Ed.] and confessed the killing to police, saying he had "certain justifications for his actions". The judge, however, said women "have an absolute right to end their relationships” without fear of violence.

Shahdady had lived apart from her older, jealous husband from an arranged marriage for almost two years — using a cellphone and the Internet and expanding her social network while raising their son who had heart problems from birth. The court was told that when Rustam joined his wife and child in Canada in March 2011, he objected to her having a cellphone and "an online friendship with another man" in Dubai. Within days, it was so unbearable that Rustam was asked to leave the family home.

In May of 2011, Rustam reunited with his wife in her parents’ home. But his wife refused to surrender her cellphone and the tensions flared again. She left the home in early July while Rustam stayed. Their marriage was over, said Shahdady, who repeatedly rejected his bids for reconciliation. The killing occurred only two weeks after the woman went on welfare and moved into a community housing apartment.

The presiding judge said that Rustam displayed "elements of planning and forethought" by donning a burqa, women’s footwear and gloves. He manipulated the surveillance camera in front of the victim’s doorway so that he couldn’t be seen when he went inside.

Defence counsel had argued this homicide was not an honour killing. "[Rustam is] a simple and unsophisticated man who snapped under great psychological torment," his lawyer said. The judge disagreed.

Further reading on WWW: "Honour killings in Canada now average nearly 1 per year".

Canuck porn channels must improve, sez federal regulator

Out of the Great Not-so-white North comes news of shocking Canadian depravity, and not-so-shocking government interference in freedom of speech.

Apparently there are porn channels on Canuck cable TV. Who knew??!! Like all emissions -- nocturnal and otherwise -- the programming on such channels is subject to regulation by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). [We'll skip the French version. Ed.] And the CRTC is concerned that "AOV XXX Action Clips" and "AOV Maleflixxx" may not be airing enough Canadian content. Even worse, they don't have closed captioning! The CRTC X-rated specialty channels are supposed to air 35% Canadian programming over the broadcast year, and 90% of the content should have captioning.

No closed captioning on the gentlemen's flickers. Makes you think, doesn't it. How would those captions read?
"Mmmmmmmmmmmmm... ooooooooooooooohhhhhhhh... aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.... more, more, more!"
[That's enough closed captioning. Ed.]

As for the CanCon, Walt wonders how the CRTC distinguishes between blue movies ["yellow movies" in China. Ed.] made in Canada and those made in, say, the Excited States of America. Would there be erotic rubbing of noses? Would the Canadian actors have little maple leaves tattooed on their naughty bits? Would [That's enough examples. Ed.]

As part of proposed licence renewals, the commission plans to hear evidence on the apparent non-compliance. Meetings will be held behind closed doors, in darkened rooms with sticky floors, and are expected to last an entire Arctic night.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book review: "Some of My Best Friends Are Black"

Some of My Best Friends Are Black, by Tanner Colby (Viking, 2012) is a book I didn't expect to like. Just skimming a few pages at random to get a feel for it, I recognized the author's white, liberal, anti-Republican stance. (He calls Richard Nixon an asshole, which may be true but he should've said the same of Bill Clinton!)

Obviously, I thought, "The Strange Story of Integration in America" -- that's the book's subtitle -- is going to be a defence of the noble ideal, the downtrodden "African-Americans" and a condemnation of the "white racism" that caused integration to fail. Not so.

True enough, the bias is there, but Mr. Colby sees and writes truthfully about the problems and fallacies of the greatest experiment in social engineering in the history of America. He finds that, 50 years after Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, true integration has made few inroads into the lives of most Americans. Some of My Best Friends Are Black tells four stories to make this point.

Part 1 is "Letter from a Birmingham Suburb", which recounts the fight of wealthy, white-flight Vestavia Hills AL to keep its schools white. When federal courts ordered desegregation by busing, Vestavia's high school got some black kids from neighbouring Oxmoor, and some other black kids from the inner city. A handful of the better-off black kids were accepted by their white peers. The rest segregated themselves, for instance by establishing their own section of the school cafeteria. Meanwhile, the Birmingham schools became blacker and blacker, and today are effectively as "separate but equal" as they were before Brown v. Board of Education.

In "Planning for Permanence" (Part 2) we learn the geography and history of Kansas City MO, where Troost Avenue marks the "Berlin Wall" between the blighted black part of town, to the east, and the prosperous white areas to the west. The further west you go, the nicer KC becomes, until finally you get to the very posh "Country Club District" which spills over into Kansas. This, Mr. Colby tells us, was all planned and deliberate, achieved by a technique called "block-busting", which he describes in detail for any realtors who don't know how to do it.

One small area on the east side of Troost held out. It's called "49/63", after the intersection of two streets at its centre. There, a couple of Jesuit priests and some white folks who were not horrified by the prospect of white neighbours organized a citizens' group to help newcomers get decent financing, and keep up the neighbourhood (and property values). They tried to build a community, and were moderately successful, albeit without much participation from the black newcomers, for reasons which Mr. Colby doesn't quite get a handle on. Today, "49/63" is the only quasi-integrated neighbourhood east of Troost.

Possibly the weakest of the book's four parts is No. 3, "Why Do Black People Drink Hawaiian Punch?" It's about Madison Avenue and the world of advertising, which Mr. Colby writes about from personal experience as a creative in more than one New York agency. He analyzes the hard choice faced by blacks entering the industry -- whether to try to join the "old (white) boys network" which pervades general advertising even today, or try to make it on their own, using black media to sell black stuff to black folks.

Because of the colour-blindness of the Internet, Colby argues, black-only advertising is no longer viable. Does that mean black practitioners are now working in general advertising in large numbers? Errr, no. Despite a spike in black employment in the industry in the 1970s, top black creatives in New York today number in the single digits, just as it was in the early `60s.

Finally, Mr. Colby looks at the world of religion in "Canaan", Part 4. He tells the story of the twin Roman Catholic parishes -- Sacred Heart and Christ the King -- of Grand Coteau LA, deep in the heart of Acadiana -- southern Lousiana's Cajun Country. In theory a Roman Catholic parish should correspond to a defined geographic area, and each parish should have one (1) church. But in LA -- unlike any other place on earth -- it had become the norm to have overlapping white and black parishes.

In the 1960s the Church decided that it should try to make "real" the principle of the equality of the races, by integrating its white and black parishes. The author describes in detail the struggle of two bishops and 11 parish priests -- 13 if you count the ones that came back twice -- to unite "The Church of the Sacred Heart of Christ the King". The white parishioners were willing, although not very happy about it. The real opposition came from a black faction, who wanted to stay in their own building, worshipping in their own way with people they were comfortable with. Human nature!

After 40 years of struggle, the two churches finally coalesced as St. Charles Borromeo. In the rest of Louisiana, dual parishes -- black and white -- are still the norm. And across the entire country, separate (but equal?) churches are stronger than ever. As Dr. King said, "11 a.m. on Sunday is the most segregated hour in America." Here's a quote from Some of My Best Friends Are Black:

"As the black middle class spread out in search of suburbia, black churches followed the migration. Once established, they became centers of gravity, accelerating the move and concentrating it...
"It would seem that just about everyone has settled quite contentedly on opposite sides of the spiritual tracks. By the most widely cited statistic, 93 percent of all churches in America are racially homogeneous. And if you every stop to suggest that maybe those churches should do something about it, people just look at you like you're crazy."

I know we're running a bit long here but I can't resist adding one more snippet, buried in the middle of Part 3, which sums up the dilemma of integration very nicely. The emphasis is mine.

"Starting in the late 1960s, America hurled its public schools headlong into a hugely disruptive, shot-in-the-dark experiment. We spent billions of dollars, all of it just to corral the Children of White Flight and the Children of the Dream and put them under the same roof. Given that historic opportunity, we call came together and...we sat on opposite sides of the cafeteria. Then we went and hung out at different clubs and fraternities at opposite ends of college campuses, or at completely separate colleges altogether.

"Ever since Brown v. Board, there's been a steady chorus of academics and politicians pronouncing all the wonderful things that integration is supposed to do for America. Integrated schools will produce better educational outcomes. Diversity programs will give us integrated workplaces that offer competitive advantages in a multicultural world. Etc. It's all a lot of crap.

"Integration doesn't do anything. It's something that is done, by people, and only by mutual choice.... Among those who were give the opportunity to integrate, most of us chose not to."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Has Russia been chosen by God to chastise us, and so bring us back to the Faith?

It is said that great minds think alike. Trouble is, they don't all think alike at the same time. As a result, there are 1000s of stories, ideas, thoughts, comments and pieces of junk whirling around on the Internet, like so many rocks in the Asteroid Belt. Every now and then one of them whizzes by the window of Walt's cabin -- the Internet window, I mean -- and is noticed. And sometimes I think, hang on, I've seen that one before.

That happened this very day, when Agent 9 sent up the text of "America as the Last Man Standing", a speech made by Geert Wilders, Chairman of the Netherlands Freedom Party, at an event sponsored by the Hudson Institute in New York on 25 September 2008. Turns out Walt ran this in May of last year as "Geert Wilders warns USA: Muslims taking over Europe -- you're next!"

Walt thinks it's worth another look -- even more relevant and urgent now than it was then. Here's Agent 9's comment.

I think Hilaire Belloc foresaw this many years ago. If we don't do something about abortion, gay marriage, and pornography, God will appoint someone to do it for us! So let's pray that we will make these things illegal without the help of the Muslims. And that can only happen if we see a revival of the Catholic Faith.

Maybe the Russia/Ukraine problem is the beginning of the isolation and alienation of Russia that will lead to her being a threat to the world that will finally persuade the Pope to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart. Then Russia will be converted and there will be a period of peace for the world.

Our Lady told Sister Lucy: "It will be late, but Russia will be consecrated...etc." Then Russia may turn out to be the moral leader of the world.

Putin: "Are you talkin' to me?!"

For US Secretary of State John Kerry, it must seem like Groundhog Day all over again. Throughout 2004, when he was campaigning against Bush the Younger, he kept talking and talking and talking, but no-one listened. Now, faced with the Russian invasion of its next-door neighbour, he's still talking -- he should be arriving in Kiev right about now -- and still no-one is listening.

No-one includes Russian President Vlad "the Impaler" Putin. He's not listening to Kerry's warnings of dire (but unspecified) consequences. Nor is he paying any attention to the organ-grinder. President Hussein Obama made a statement a couple of days ago warning of dire (but unspecified) consequences. Yesterday he called Putin on the phone. What reception did he get? "Talk to the hand!"

Putin says he's on a "humanitarian mission" to protect the ethnically Russian citizens of the Ukraine -- in particular the Crimea, which coincidentally is a major Russian military base -- from the predations of the Ukeys and Crimea's terrible Tatars. It's all about peacekeeping, you see, and he "reserves the right" to use military force to keep the peace. (Does any of this sound familiar?)

Alas, Obama (and Kerry and all the other "leaders" of the West) have decided to not employ military force to make the Russians withdraw to their side of the border. Obama specifically ruled that out. So what will the USA/UK/EU do? Weellll... there could be sanctions of course, which would have "economic consequences". And there will be "diplomatic action" -- an oxymoron, surely -- such as, errr, not going to the next G8 summit, scheduled for Sochi later this year. Yeah! That will teach those Russkis a thing or two!

What it's taught them, evidently, is that they can do as they damn well please, and no-one in the USA/UK/EU is going to lift a finger -- let alone put boots on the ground -- to stop them. They have already occupied pretty much all of the Crimea and recognize a puppet government which helpfully has asked Russian troops to stay in the "country" to (of course) keep the peace. Ukrainian troops have been given an ultimatum to surrender, and are effectively prisoners in their own bases. The Russians are in control.

Today, Crimea. Tomorrow? Walt guesses tomorrow's target is the rest of the Ukraine east of the Dniepr River. The Ukrainians will be lucky if the Russians stop there, because there is the cojones to stand up for an independent and democratic Ukraine. It's very, very sad.

Further reading: Russia enabled by West’s foreign policies of vacillation, uncertainty -- excellent commentary by Andrew Coyne in Canada's Notional Post.

Monday, March 3, 2014

SanFran Girl Scout sells cookies to potheads -- 117 boxes in under 2 hours

Meet Daneille Lei -- a Girl Scout and a typically enterprising ABC. Even though she's just 13, she's already learned a basic precept of successful marketing: go where your customers are!

Danielle has proved the wisdom of choosing the right location by selling 117 boxes of cookies in just under two hours from her stand outside The Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. According to clinic staff, she sold out of her first batch within 45 minutes.

Walt notes that the old bland cookies of his youth [He was a buyer, not a seller! Ed.] have been supplanted by things like Tagalongs and Thin Mints, which I guess are more nutritious. ??? Danielle is trying to move 1200 boxes of the junk [Oh c'mon! Ed.] in the next two weeks. Half of the proceeds will go to charitable organizations related to Alzheimer’s in some way which I've forgotten.

Her choice of location was approved by the Girl Scouts of Northern California, who said it was not up to them to decide where the cookies could be sold. Green Cross employee Holli Bert said she was not surprised by the volume of biscuits being sold. "It's no secret that cannabis is a powerful appetite stimulant, so we knew this would be a very beneficial endeavour for the girls," she said. "It's all about location, and what better place to sell Girl Scout cookies than outside a medical cannabis collective?"

The cookie stand proved so popular that Danielle and her fellow Girl Scouts [Isn't that an oxymoron? Ed.] were invited back for the Saturday just past. Perhaps this time they brought Twinkies!

Note from Ed.: What? You don't know what an "ABC" is? We're talking San Francisco here -- the birthplace of fortune cookies. Got it now? Thanks to Agent 34 for the [pot]heads up!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Urgent message from "Svetlana" in Kyiv

This message was posted on Svetlana's page on a social media site, earlier today. Please read and help in whatever way you can.

(I still can't believe it!)

Using the unstable situation in Ukraine, Russia sent troops to sovereign Ukrainian territory - the Crimean peninsula .

Since the collapse of the USSR, Russia wanted the Crimea .
And now, when all Ukrainian citizens are tired of fighting with the dictator Yanukovych, Russia cynically , without declaring a war, summed up its troops to the Ukrainian border. Seized all the admin building and blocked all the airports, road and rail fares.
The same time the Russian media says that their army helps Ukraine to restore the peace and order! That's not true! Russia occupies Ukrainian territory!

We need URGENT help! Please picket Russian embassy in your country!
We all ordinary citizens must unite now. We ask all our friends and relatives throughout the world to support us and participate in a peaceful march against the war in the main street/square of your city (or at the Russian Embassy) tomorrow at 14:00. Let's stop Putin and keep the peace!

If it is impossible for you, but you want help us, please share the information about situation in Ukraine with your friends and relatives! And pray for Ukraine! Thanx for your support!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Memo to Putin!

Ukraine for the Ukrainians!

Foreigners warned to leave Crimea before the shooting starts

At the risk of sounding alarmist -- something Walt usually leaves to preachers of doom (Hello Father!) -- it would appear that there's a very real risk of a shooting war in the Crimean "autonomous republic" of the Ukraine. The big question is who the parties will be. Will the conflict pit Ukrainians against Russians? Or will NATO forces come in on the side of the Ukrainians?

We've seen this movie before! We've just passed the 160th anniversary of "Crimea I", in which Russia was defeated by an alliance of France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire -- famous for its production of footstools -- and Sardinia [No more puns, please. Ed.] Although neutral, Austria also played a role in stopping the Russians.

The Crimean War... Think "Charge of the Light Brigade", Florence Nightingale, and Napoleon III. More colourful uniforms than we're going to see this time. More horses. Same sets and scenery though. And some of the same causes.

The proximate cause was the rights of Christians in the Holy Land, which was part of the Ottoman Empire which extended eastward along the shores of the Black Sea and included much of the Balkans as well. The French championed the rights of Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Orthodox. Today, the western part of the Ukraine is predominantly Byzantine Catholic, while the east is Orthodox.

Behind the religious and ethnic conflict was the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power as the Ottoman Empire fell apart. Russia destroyed the Ottoman fleet at the Black Sea port of Sinope. To stop Russia's advance, France and Britain entered the war in March 1854.

Most of the fighting took place for control of the Black Sea, with land battles on the Crimean peninsula, which was then part of Russia. The Russians held their great fortress at Sevastopol for over a year. After it fell, peace was arranged at Paris in March 1856. The main results were that the Black Sea was neutralized, with Russia agreeing not to station any warships there.

After the Russian revolution of 1917 and the prolonged civil war which followed, the Ukraine was forcibly annexed to "Mother Russia" as part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In 1954, the Communists transferred the Crimean Oblast was transferred from the Russian republic to the Ukrainian SSR. It thrived as a prime tourist destination; its infrastructure and manufacturing were also developed, particularly around its capital of Simferopol and the seaports at Kerch and...wait for it...Sevastopol.

When the Ukraine became independent following the break-up of the USSR, the Crimean Oblast was upgraded to that of an "Autonomous Republic". Russia received long-term leases of military bases in and around Sevastopol, which today is home to large units of Russia's army and air force, and...its also large Black Sea fleet -- as in "warships".

So here we are in 2014, "back to the future" -- 1856 to be exact. The eastern part of the Ukraine is oriented to Russia. The majority of Crimeans are ethnically and linguistically Russian. They are being offered Russian passports to prove their identity should Russia feel it necessary to "help" them against the "neo-Nazi thugs" who have "staged a coup" against Ukrainian president Yanukovich. That's what happened in Georgia in 2008.

Sure enough, BBC News reports this morning that the unofficial pro-Moscow leader of the "autonomous Crimea region" has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for "help to ensure peace". A Kremlin source said it would "not leave unnoticed" the request from Sergiy Aksyonov.

Western leaders are not leaving the situation unnoticed either. They are responding with the usual torrent of stern warnings and drawings of red lines. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said he is shocked, SHOCKED by reports of the "violation of Ukraine's sovereignty". President Hussein O'Bama warned Moscow against any military intervention.

Even as he spoke, unidentified soldiers, thought to be Russian, fanned out in the south of the peninsula, surrounding airports and communications centres. According to Mr Aksyonov, soldiers from Russia's Black Sea Fleet are merely standing on guard at strategic buildings. Against whom, he did not say.

The Ukraine's interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, accused Russia of seeking to provoke an escalation. "The presence of Russian soldiers is a provocation and we demand that Russian soldiers return to their permanent bases," he said. Will they do so? Will the Obama send in US troops if they don't? Will the sun rise in the west? Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Russian president Vlad "the Impaler" Putin has received permission from the upper house of that country's parliament to use military force in Crimea. Foreigners are being advised by their governments to get out while the getting out is good!