News Highlights – 8 Jan 11

  • Reporter shares moment where soldiers get frustrated when locals don’t tell them about dangerous things that could go boom“The Canadian and Afghan army foot patrol gets less than 100 metres up the road from a typical Afghan village store where it had stopped Thursday when the bomb sniffer dog smells something funny.   A group of shopkeepers and other locals have just finished telling the soldiers they know nothing of the militants the soldiers suspect live among them and who are setting the roadside bombs that are killing and maiming coalition forces and civilians.  It is to this store that the soldiers now withdraw after the dog’s suspicions are confirmed. It’s a homemade bomb filled with shrapnel and planted below the surface on a busy path. The projectile-shaped improvised explosive device is angled to strike in the direction of the person who unwittingly sets it off — perfectly designed for a foot patrol like this.  “We’re not f–king dumb, you know, we know some of you people are helping these guys,” an angry Master Cpl. Stephane Tremblay Morin tells the group during the long wait as a team of explosives-disposal experts from a nearby military base tackles the bomb ….”
  • A bit of a hiccup at Postmedia News? Here’s their 11 Dec 10 story on a Canadian female company commander serving in Afghanistan.  Here’s their 5 Jan 11 story on a Canadian female company commander serving in Afghanistan, written by the same author as the first story, who I don’t believe is in theatre any longer (check byline of story above).  Like the old commercial says:  Can you tell the difference?  I can’t tell the difference.
  • Note to headline writer at QMI:  the “Blast Boxers” have ALWAYS been available to Canadian troops, as long as they ordered them from the U.K.
  • The New York Times picks up the “anti-war protesters pissed at Don Cherry” story.
  • Study: How well does EX Maple Guardian prepare non-CF participants for deploying to Afghanistan? (PDF)
  • Another study:  Yeah, you really DO need height restrictions for people wanting to do certain jobs in certain planes in the Canadian Forces (PDF).
  • What’s Canada Buying? Unmanned boats, and a simulator to train Hercules observers wearing night vision goggles.
  • Toronto 18 Update: “On the final day of a sentencing hearing for convicted Toronto 18 terrorist Shareef Abdelhaleem, the Crown painted him as both a detached delegator and “principal architect” of the group’s bomb plot, contradicting a key defence argument that minimized his level of involvement …. on Thursday, Crown attorney Iona Jaffe inverted that argument, noting higher-ranking terrorists “may take a distance from the front lines,” passing mundane tasks to their foot soldiers.  “Mr. Abdelhaleem was obviously imparting information. He was obviously delegating,” Ms. Jaffe said, citing his involvement in passing information to Toronto 18 member Saad Khalid, who made calls to investigate a possible chemical storehouse location.  “[Abdelhaleem] kept a distance,” Ms. Jaffe noted. “He didn’t want to get too close to the fire.”  …. The Crown has requested a life sentence, while the defence is asking for fewer than 20 years. Justice Fletcher Dawson is expected to rule in March ….”
  • Remember “Operation Samosa”, where police arrested some folks in Ottawa looking like they were preparing to make some bombs here in Canada?  La Presse says the investigation cost almost $3 milliion (French versionGoogle English version).
  • Are hacker/I.D. thieves sending stolen money to Canada? “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is cracking down on a international criminal ring, based in Vietnam, that is thought to have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from online merchants using hacking and identity theft. Last month, agents from the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigations unit raided the home of two Vietnamese exchange students at Minnesota’s Winona State University, seizing documents and computer equipment. According to an affidavit filed in support of the search warrant in this case, the students, Tram Vo and Khoi Van, made more than $1.2 million selling software, videogames and Apple gift cards on eBay, and then shipping buyers products that they’d purchased with stolen credit card numbers. The scam that Vo and Van are accused of has become a big problem for U.S. merchants, according to the affidavit, which was unsealed last week. Here’s how it works. Using stolen information the criminals set up eBay and PayPal accounts in other people’s names and start selling products — $400 Rosetta Stone software or iTunes gift cards, for example. When legitimate buyers purchase these products using PayPal, the scammers then order them direct from the manufacturer, using stolen credit card numbers. By the time the credit card user reports the fraud, the scammers have already moved their money from PayPal to another bank account. Then they move it offshore to accounts in Canada or Vietnam ….” Here’s the affadavit used to get the warrant (PDF).
  • Finally, what’s CSIS spokesperson Isabelle Scott got to say about CBC’s latest TV comedy show “InSecurity” which started this week? “The entertainment industry has had a long fascination with the intelligence business, and that’s perfectly legitimate. We, too, think our work is pretty interesting …. That said, screenwriters don’t always get it right. CSIS officers don’t routinely disarm missiles while wearing tuxedos. It’s not CSIS’ place to review this new CBC comedy, though we will say that we take our role seriously in keeping Canadians safe.” (Full disclosure: I have no cable TV access, so I can’t even watch the show, making me truly without prejudice, not to mention a bit geeky, right?).

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