News Highlights – 28 Jul 11

  • Ooopsie…. (Wonder if we can see the briefing note now that the media has shared what it considers the important highlights?)  “The Department of National Defence plans to drop the use of a dedicated civilian cargo ship for hauling military supplies and equipment after discovering that Ottawa lost millions of dollars in the arrangement. The existing contract for the use of the container ship will be allowed to lapse in October, according to internal federal documents. The ship has been used 13 times since October 2007, most notably to move Canadian military equipment and humanitarian supplies to Haiti in January 2010 following the earthquake. The documents say that most of the time, the ship has either been waiting for orders or sailing empty, at a cost of $21.3 million to taxpayers “Of that, only $3.4 million is directly attributed to the movement of cargo with the remainder for empty transits, standby while awaiting tasking as well as support to two Naval exercises,” said a briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay and obtained by The Canadian Press ….”
  • A feature article on 412 Transport Squadron in Belleville’s hometown paper (although I think the headline means “they fly everything from patients all the way to the PM”)
  • The good news:  four alleged war criminals now nabbed, 27 more to go.  “A fourth fugitive whose face was posted online by border authorities has been nabbed. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says Henry Pantoja Carbonel was arrested in Toronto. He was one of 30 people whose names and faces were posted online by the Canadian Border Services Agency earlier this month. Carbonel is a 53-year-old Peruvian. Toews says the website has generated a lot of tips from the public, although he didn’t say if the latest arrest was the result of such a tip ….”  More from United Press International here.
  • The bad news:  will they face any kind of justice even if Canada kicks them out“There are no guarantees that any of the suspected war criminals recently nabbed with the help of an online “wanted” list will actually face justice in their home countries. Federal ministers said Wednesday Canada simply wants to get rid of the men because their alleged crimes make them inadmissible. Human rights advocates say the federal government is dodging its responsibilities by deporting — not prosecuting — the suspects. “Our concern here is that this is furthering a long-established practice in Canada to overwhelmingly make use of our immigration system rather than our criminal justice system in dealing with cases of this sort,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. “There doesn’t seem to be even any pretence of turning to the criminal justice system, or putting some measures in place to ensure that the people on this list, if the allegations are well-founded, will actually face justice.” ….”
  • Norway attack backlash worries among some Canadian Muslims?  “A national Muslim group is urging mosques across Canada to be extra vigilant during the upcoming religious month of Ramadan in the wake of Norway’s horrific massacre perpetrated by a right-wing extremist with anti-Islamic views. “We’ve noticed that these kind of incidents, high-profile international incidents, often are followed by hate crimes and discrimination targeted toward the Muslim community,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Ottawa-based organization with a cross-country board of directors and volunteers. However, Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said Wednesday he doesn’t see the need for such a warning, based on what happened in Norway. And a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said while he could not comment on specifics, he said there is no evidence that the Norway attacks — which included a bombing in the government section of Oslo and the shooting of dozens of people on nearby Utoya Island — present a widespread threat to Muslims in Canada ….”
  • Somali Bad Guys in Canada (1)  A U.S. Congressional committee on terrorist recruitment of American Muslims turned its attention north on Wednesday, as a prominent Somali-Canadian leader testified that Ottawa had failed to tackle the ideology of extremists. Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, told U.S. lawmakers that the Canadian government was concentrating on detecting and arresting terror suspects while leaving their rhetoric unchallenged. “The strategy of Canadian officials as they confront this phenomenon in my community has been to view this serious matter only through the prism of law enforcement,” he said. “There has not been a parallel attempt to counter the toxic anti-Western narrative that creates a culture of victimhood in the minds of members of our community.” Mr. Hussen was the lead witness at controversial Committee on Homeland Security hearings in Washington probing radicalization within the American Muslim community. Testimony Wednesday focused on the Somali militant group Al-Shabab ….”
  • Somali Bad Guys in Canada (2)  Terrorist recruiters are targeting young Canadian Somali women to take up arms, the head of the Canadian Somali Congress told U.S. politicians Wednesday. In testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Ahmed Hussen suggested the reason might be increased police and security service attention over the recruitment of “dozens” of young Canadian Somali men from Ottawa and Toronto in recent years. “Lately, the recruiters have turned their attention to the facilitation of young Canadian Somali women into joining al-Shabab,” the radical Somali youth militia now fully integrated with al-Qaeda, Hussen said in a prepared statement. Much of the youth recruiting is believed to be through the Internet and an online mix of religious tracts, rap music, videos and recruiting pitches delivered in English. Visiting extremist clerics are another propaganda source ….”
  • Somali Bad Guys in Canada (3)  Here’s a link to the statement (PDF) read by the Canadian Somali Congress, and more on the Committee’s work on Somali bad guys here, here and here.
  • More worries about “creeping Canadian militarism”“…. Militarism is always premised on the notion that “real” nations and “real” men are grounded in warrior values. Real nations don’t sit on the sidelines; they participate. And those who oppose warrior values are told to shut up because they are not supporting our boys. End of discussion. We ought not to proceed further down this turn in the road without a robust national debate. That would begin with an honest and full assessment of the Afghanistan intervention. That would include scrutiny of placing Canadian forces and armaments in seven foreign bases (renamed “supply depots”), another Harper initiative that has gone undiscussed. That would demand an honest analysis of the social payoff of deflecting $30 billion that could be used to enhance our quality of life to purchase stealth fighters instead. Yes we need a military; that is a sad fact about which we should be vigilant and skeptical, not gung-ho.”
  • Winnipeg Jets Logo Angst (1)  “…. Why do we never get scenes of Canadian aid workers or doctors watching hockey with sketchy antennas in a far-flung desert village where they are distributing medicine? Because that doesn’t serve the new national interest. Meanwhile, most Canadian hockey teams sponsor special military nights, ranging in intensity from spectacles of soldiers rappelling down from the rafters (war is really neat, kids!) to sombre moments of silence for the fallen, insisting that we take their deaths as sacrifices for our freedom. No space is allowed to ask, ‘How is torturing prisoners in Kandahar protecting me?’ or, ‘If I’m so free, why do I get arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations in Canadian cities?’ ….”
  • Winnipeg Jets Logo Angst (2)  “…. These anti-war zealots see no distinction between being pro-war and pro-military when, in reality, the two can be mutually exclusive. It is quite easy to respect the work done by the people who serve in the military and air force – even if you don’t personally agree with the war or skirmish our government has them fight ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Again with the “what a great jobs the drones did” storyline.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Two Canadian foreign affairs experts (followable at Twitter here and here) comment on the Taliban’s latest rash of assassinations in Kandahar province.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  A few more Taliban-friendly Twitter feeds out there.
  • Scores of veterans, dignitaries and members of the public turned out Wednesday for a parade and ceremony to remember the once “forgotten” Korean War. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was among those on hand at the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance for the 58th anniversary of the armistice that ended the bloody conflict. “For too many years, Korea was called the ‘forgotten’ war,” Harper said. “But times are finally changing.” In all, 516 Canadian soldiers were killed in the conflict. Another 1,100 others were wounded in five major battles. Many of the Canadian dead are buried in Korea, prompting Harper to borrow from British war poet Rupert Brooke. “We may truly say that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever Canada,” Harper said at the wreath-laying ceremony ….”  More from the Government of Canada Info-Machine here and here.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched an enhanced military program today offering special rates to members of the U.S. and Canada armed forces. The program features exclusive rates on select Freestyle Cruising vacations, including the line’s newest and most innovative ship Norwegian Epic, along with the only U.S. flagged cruise ship, Pride of America. Current featured destinations include seven-day cruises in the Western Mediterranean, Eastern Caribbean and Hawaii, along with Norwegian Epic’s 13-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Miami on October 23, 2011. Active or retired members of the military can chose from numerous sailings in 2011 or 2012. In addition, new sailings will be added on a regular basis ….”  The company tells an ID card is required when booking – more at the company’s site here.
  • Congrats to the latest batch of recipients of the Meritorious Service Decorations, including the founder of Soldier On, Warrant Officer Andrew McLean.

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