News Highlights – November 14, 2012

  • Joshua Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P.  The Calgary reservist charged with manslaughter in the death of a soldier in Afghanistan entered not guilty pleas Tuesday morning on the first day of his court martial trial.  Maj. Darryl Watts is on trial and alleged to have been negligent in the friendly fire death of Edmonton-based Cpl. Joshua Baker in Afghanistan in 2010 at a training range outside of Kandahar City.  Watts, an 11-year Calgary firefighter and reservist with the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, is scheduled to be on trial for up to five weeks at the Mewata Armoury.  The prosecution alleges that Watts was in charge during a live fire training exercise with a weapon called the C19. It is a mix of plastic explosives and 700 ball bearings.  When detonated that day, Feb. 12, 2010, the weapon killed Baker and injured four others ….” – more here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  More medals being presented by the GG, including one to a soldier who rescued an Afghan man and his son under fire in April of last year.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Review of “Afghanistan:  Requiem for a Generation”  “It was a moving evening of tributes to the fallen, remembrance of sacrifice, and commemoration of the daily grief experienced for loved ones by those left behind.  The cornerstone work at the Calgary Philharmonic’s War and Peace Festival featured the world premiere of composer Jeffrey Ryan and librettist Suzanne Steele’s emotionally powerful Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation.  It is rare to have a commission of this magnitude, the largest in CPO history. Ryan was supported by the Canada Council and Steele, chosen as the first official War Artist in the Canadian Forces Artist Program, was embedded with the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan.  The Requiem intermixed the Latin text headers for each movement with Steele’s English poetry, and included some French and Pashto. Images taken from the Afghan missions were projected upon two large screens over the stage. Ryan offered a balanced score, with equal opportunity for all participants to shine, including four vocal soloists and orchestra members, with particularly outstanding contributions from the CPO Chorus and the Cantaré Children’s Choir. ….”
  • War Monument Vandalism in Toronto  On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Eve Adams, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Member of Parliament for Mississauga–Brampton South, (yesterday) inspected the recently vandalized Victory Peace War Memorial at Coronation Park.  “Our cenotaphs and war memorials are powerful symbols of our national remembrance and must be respected and maintained,” said Minister Blaney. “Disgraceful and disrespectful acts of vandalism like this need to be addressed. That is why our Government is proud to support Bill C-217, which will increase penalties for those convicted of these heinous crimes.”  “Seeing our local war memorials treated with such disrespect is incredibly troubling, especially on such an important day of national remembrance,” said Parliamentary Secretary Adams. “I am pleased to be here today to see that this memorial has been restored to its honoured state.” ….” – more here.
  • Remember the food complaints from vets living in a Halifax nursing home?  Here’s the latest from a column in the home-town newspaper, whose author has a copy of a review, but isn’t sharing it with the public yet:  “…. allow me to reveal a few recommendations from the report:  Switch from individual packets of condiments to table-size bottles.  Change servers’ uniforms from hospital garb to “hospitality” outfits.  Serve salads from a big bowl.  The report cost $13,500. Unfortunately, the main problem — reheating day-old food — is only something to “explore” in the “medium term,” which isn’t defined. And in the “longer term,” which also isn’t defined, the report muses about renovating the kitchen and hiring a chef for the vets ….”
  • This from an independent MP’s (harsh?) take on CBC’s handling of a Bin Laden satire video from a mess dinner:  “…. By engaging in yellow journalism and irresponsibly disseminating it for the world to see, the CBC hurt Canada’s image, our military’s image, and unnecessarily offended Arab’s around the world. By spinning this and putting it out for international consumption, the CBC is propagating racism. They took a video that was internal, personal, and limited to a very few, and turned it into an outward Canadian racial attitude for the rest of the world to believe.  By calling upon CBC comedian Shaun Majumder – a visible minority – to speak out on the supposed ‘cultural insensitivities’ of this video is the height of hypocrisy, as Shaun has portrayed bin Laden as an Arab himself. The CBC attempted to detonate a racist scandal where there simply was none to be found …. In the face of this incident, we have to thank the men and women of our Canadian military who were doing nothing more than relieving themselves of the endless stresses of their jobs with a little bit of black comedy that from time to time many people of all races of all countries enjoy, and ended up showing us where the evil truly exists in this country – the CBC headquarters ….”  I wouldn’t go as far as that last bit, but it is an interesting point about Majumder – here’s his take on Osama during H1N1 season, and here’s an Osama goodbye video Majumder headlines in.  You be the judge.
  • The Honourable Gail Shea, acting Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Central Nova, (yesterday) presented the second of the Canadian Coast Guard’s new Hero class vessels, the CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C.  The CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C. is the second of the Coast Guard’s new Hero class of mid-shore patrol vessels being built by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Kaeble was officially delivered to Coast Guard by Irving this November.  The new vessel is named after the late Corporal Joseph Kaeble, V.C. who was born in St. Moise, Quebec in 1893. He enlisted in 1916 and was a member of the famed Royal 22nd Regiment.  Corporal Kaeble died of wounds near Arras, France on June 9, 1918, after he single-handedly repelled a strong enemy attack on Canadian lines. Kaeble was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions, the first French-Canadian to receive this distinguished military decoration ….” – more on Cpl. Kaeble here and here, and on the story here and here.

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