The Band: Canadian
“I Shall Be Released”; ‘Music From Big Pink’ (1968)
The First Three News Stories On 02/19/07
(7pm) PBS: The News Hour With Jim Lehrer:
1) American Base Attacked: Six American soldiers were killed in Iraq today, two of the soldiers were killed “in a rare direct attack” against an American base north of Baghdad. A suicide bomber attacked a fuel tanker truck outside the base, insurgents then attacked the base. Seventeen American soldiers were also wounded in the attack, while three more were killed over the weekend. More than forty civilians were killed in and around Baghdad in separate attacks, more than sixty Iraqi civilians were killed in attacks on Sunday. Another American soldier was killed in Eastern Afghanistan today. The American military has been warning, for a few weeks, that there’s a “spring offensive planned” by the Taliban. NATO Commander, Dutch Maj.-Gen. Ton Van Loon, has said in recent days that NATO will not be sitting around waiting for the Taliban to regroup, but will be sending troops — and they will mostly be Canadians — into the mountains to attack the Taliban before they can prepare. French and German soldiers will continue to make coffee and perform laundry duty from somewhere deep inside their Kabul bunker network… vive le Resistance. In an effort to stem some of the paramilitary movement across the Afghan-Pakistan border a security barrier is being built by Pakistan. Pakistani officials have been complaining lately about not having their “sacrifices” acknowledged.
2) Train Bombed In India: At least sixty-six people were killed in India when the “Friendship Express”, a heavily armoured train supplying service between India and Pakistan, was attacked with bombs and Molotov cocktails. Many of the deaths occurred because the train’s doors were locked and windows barred shut in an effort to protect the travelers from attacks. Most of the dead and injured are Pakistani. There have been no claims of responsibility, but both Indian and Pakistani governments condemned the attacks. Last July nearly 200 people died in a similar attack. A lack of communication between the two countries left relatives and emergency personnel waiting in Pakistan for five hours before the train arrived. No one had informed the Pakistani relatives that the wounded and dead had been left in India.
3) Mideast Talks Resume: American Secretary of State stopped by on the way back from Iraq to see how Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Authority’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, were doing. Apparently everything’s going great, cause Rice was there for aboot twenty minutes and left smiling. One weird thing, there’s always a handshake for the camera’s going into these events, and one for the camera’s coming out. But when it came time to gather in front of the camera’s afterwards Rice was on her own. Hamas were too busy helping Iran develop a cure for AIDS to attend the meeting.
(10pm) CBC: The National With Peter Mansbridge:
1) Canned Tuna Controversy: Apparently a specific type of tuna contains a higher level of mercury than is currently thought safe for eating. In a CBC study involving sixty cans from nine different stores, 13 per cent of Albacore tuna was found to have mercury levels higher than the .5ppm allowed by Health Canada. Another 10 per cent were just under the limit. Some random guy from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency agreed that compliance with regulations should improve, but could never be 100 per cent. Apparently some countries, including a few American states, have health warnings on packaging and Health websites regarding Albacore tuna and, dammit, why isn’t Canada doing the same? Well, we are now. Health agencies around the world write up guidelines concerning the amount of food that is safe to eat at any one time. These guidelines are then ignored by all of their citizens. So, according to Health Canada yesterday, it was safe to eat a whole lot of tuna (Omega-3 and all that health crap) everyday. And now, today, if you’re pregnant you’re allowed one can of tuna per week, and if you’re a child a quarter can per week is okay. According to the reporter, because Rhode Island has more stringent guidelines, the Government of Canada is therefore happy to see people poisoned by mercury. But, hey, apparently it’s still okay to allow mercury laden fish into the system.
2) Air India Inquiry Threatened: On June 22, 1985, Air India Flight 182 was blown up just off the coast of Ireland, killing 329 people, including 280 Canadians. Ever since it’s been one fuck up after another in trying to find out what went wrong and who knew what when. And now the Judge in charge of the “Air India Inquiry”, former Supreme Court Justice John Major, is threatening to shut the process down because the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Department of Foreign Affairs are withholding information critical to the proceedings. CSIS, who had the presumed-bombers under surveilance for months, and might have even known about the plot weeks in advance, burned and erased days worth of audio tapes after the bombing. The Canadian Government, for a decade, never really cared enough aboot the tragedy — most of the victims were born in India or of Indian descent — and didn’t even start a proper investigation for years. It wasn’t until 15 (Fifteen) years later that the first charges were laid. The only convictions have been for minor offences. No one has ever been held to account for what happened.
So last year, finally, the Conservative government launched a Public Inquiry into the events leading up to the explosions, what happened afterwards, and why government agencies have been Totally Fucking Up Any Chance For Truth In This Matter. Justice Major, in an effort to get a peek at more than 15,000 pages of blacked out pages from CSIC and the RCMP, has shut the inquiry down for two weeks. Prime Minister Harper has assigned his National Security Advisor to get the process back on track.
3) Political Ads Pulled: Only the CBC would consider this a story. The Conservative Party of Canada, the current governing party, has been running ads that — very mildly — attack the newly elected head of The Liberal Party of Canada (the Official Opposition). Some of these ads, the ones playing in Quebec, are being pulled because Quebec is heading into a provincial election next week, and the ads might be seen as supporting the current Quebec government. So, of course, the CBC reports the event as though the attack ads were being pulled because the Conservatives had done something wrong and were now admitting their bad behaviour.
(11pm) CTV National News With Lloyd Robertson:
1) New Political Poll: Newly elected Liberal Party of Canada leader, Stephane Dion, has lost any momentum from the leadership race and convention, and has dropped eight points in a new poll (just keep in mind there are four political parties in Parliament currently — the New Democrats (NDP), the Liberals, the Bloq Quebecois and the Conservatives).
53% of Canadians surveyed believe current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, “is a more decisive leader”
19% say Dion is decisive
33% say they “identify with Harper”
34% say they would vote for the Conservatives
29% say they’d vote for the Liberals (down 8% from just a month ago)
The strangest part of the Poll was the environment question. The Conservatives have been (unfairly) tagged as having wrecked Canada’s Kyoto agreements, even though the Liberals signed the agreement then did nothing for thirteen years. But after a year of Liberals attacking the Conservatives for not having a Kyoto strategy, Canadians apparently think all — or none — of the parties are capable of having a plan for fighting Climate Change:
According to the poll, which was conducted between Feb. 15-18 by The Strategic Counsel for CTV News and The Globe and Mail (the largest national daily in Canada), Dion might not have been the right pick for the Liberals. Many members of his own party have come out in front of cameras and said too much emphasis was being placed on environmental issues, and that the current strategy of promising to meet the Kyoto targets within two years are simply insane. Meanwhile, Dion seems to have disappeared and left the defence to others in his caucus.
2) Ontario Puts Deadbeat Dads Online: The Government of Ontario is putting ‘mug shots’ and information on a website intended to shame “deadbeat dads” into paying their court ordered spousal and child support. In Ontario alone there are 190,000 outstanding complaints. $500 million was collected last year in support payments, with $1.3 billion remaining to be collected. Alberta already has one of these websites, which are popular in the United States. Alberta’s site has resulted in a 56% success rate in collections. As the child of a Fuck who never paid one fucking cent to my mother — who had to save for two months to afford a $5 haircut — I’d really like to see this retroactive to aboot 1978. You can see the people the Goverment has decided should be shamed into paying their support payments here: www.goodparentspay.com.
3) Air India Inquiry: Pretty much the same report as CBC, so I’ll give some more of the background… until the early 1980’s Canada had one agency in charge of both federal (and some provincial) policing responsibility and national spying. If you know aboot the American federal security system, pre-Patriot Act, the RCMP were our equivalent of the ATF, FBI, Secret Service, DEA and US Marshal Service, with Anti-Terrorism Response tossed in. By the early 80’s it had become pretty clear that having one agency responsible for so much was inherently dangerous. By then the RCMP had active files on over a million Canadians, this in a population of less than 22 million. So the government broke the RCMP up into smaller parts. One of these parts was the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which had a mandate to keep track of “dangerous” people living in this country (Canada has no international spy force, we do have a monitoring service called the Canadian Security Exchange, which spies on American communications… seriously.). So. In 1985 Canada had a new spy agency called CSIS, which — instead of working with the RCMP, they saw themselves as in competition with the RCMP (“we don’t report to you fuckers”). So when CSIS found out aboot a plan to blow up a plane over Ireland, they didn’t tell anyone. They kept it a secret, which is what they thought they were supposed to do. Then, after the Big Bang, they suddenly decided it would be a really, really smart idea to clean out some of their tape collection.
(11pm) BBC: World News
1) US Plans For Bombing Iran: I’m not entirely sure why people are surprised that the Americans would have a few plans for pacifying an enemy lying around. Lets not forget, the animosity in this relationship goes back aboot thirty years. For crying out loud, the Americans were willing to overlook the insanities of Saddam Hussein for ten years because he was willing to toss a few hundred thousand members of his Unwilling-but-Volunteered Force at Iran. Iran has spent thirty years arming Hezbolla, taking care of Hamas, sending weapons into Iraq to arm Shiites against their Sunni oppressors. America treats Israel like a 51st State, Iran would like very much to use Israeli’s for the Iranian “Shoot A Jew Into The Sun” missile program. Of course there are plans. Fuck, there are plans for an American invasion of Canada… possibly as a result of our unleashing Celine onto their unsuspecting elderly. I’m sure there are even plans in the New Hampshire Legislature for an invasion of Vermont. This is what militaries do in their spare time. What, you thought they just ran in place until war was declared?
2) Train Bombing In India: Not much different from the other reports. The reporter did get into some dangerously unsourced areas by saying something like “underneath their friendly exterior some Indian authorities believe Pakistan may not be completely innocent in this incident.” If you’re going to say something like that, have a better source than “Maybe”, “Possibly” and “Some Guy”. I could make an outsourced unsourced joke here… but I’m too tired.
3) Militants Attack UN In Kosovo: Three United Nations cars were damaged in a fairly minor attack near Kosovo’s capital Pristina. Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999 when “NATO” (re: America, Canada and Great Britain) stopped an insane war of ethnic cleansing. There have been ongoing negotiations and votes regarding creating a new ethnically-Albanian country from breaking Kosovo away from Serbia. I’m sure, with the UN firmly in control, there will be no further problems.
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I’m Canadian, it’s what we do. Off the ice.