Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Afghan air war grows in intensity

The NATO force is called ISAF the International Security Assistance Force. However their priority is security for their own forces not Afghans as the article puts it:
But U.S. and allied troops in trouble take precedence
Karzai has complained constantly about civilian casualties caused by these airstrikes. The response of the U.S. and NATO has been to increase the number of airstrikes rather than reduce them.
Last fall, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, responding to the rising civilian death toll from airstrikes, publicly demanded that the United States find an alternative. But airstrikes only increased.
The increasing civilian deaths will recruit more to the Taliban ranks. This will increase the number of attacks. In response the U.S. and others will increase troop levels and increase the level of casualties and violence. Welcome to the New American Century.,0,6638715.story
Afghan air war grows in intensity
Fears of civilian casualties rise as airstrikes increase
By David Wood
Sun reporter
July 28, 2008

Daily airstrikes by U.S. and allied fighter-bombers in Afghanistan have almost doubled since last summer, according to U.S. Air Force data, a trend that reflects increased insurgent attacks but also raises concerns about civilian casualties.The growing reliance on airstrikes by U.S. commanders in Afghanistan appears to mark a turn in the course of the war.Responding to requests from ground commanders, allied aircraft over the past week have pummeled enemy ground targets an average of 68 times a day across Afghanistan, dropping 500- and 2,000-pound guided bombs and strafing enemy forces with cannon fire, according to Air Force daily strike reports.A year ago, the Air Force was recording about 35 airstrikes per day in Afghanistan.Although the Air Force takes what it says are exhaustive measures to avoid accidental deaths, civilian casualties from airstrikes have spiked twice this year, from none in January to 23 in March to 60 so far this month, according to new, unpublished data from Human Rights Watch researcher Marc Garlasco, a former targeting chief for the Pentagon's Joint Staff.Taliban-led insurgents are attacking in significant numbers and staying to fight rather than engaging in traditional hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, according to U.S. commanders.In several recent incidents, U.S. and allied troops prevailed in pitched battles only after fighter-bombers showed up to blast the insurgents.The growing role of air power suggests that the war will require more than the additional troops recommended by President Bush and both presidential candidates. It might require more manned and unmanned aircraft from an already overstretched Air Force and Navy.And greater use of air power would likely result in more civilian casualties, in a conflict in which winning local loyalty is considered the key to success.Last fall, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, responding to the rising civilian death toll from airstrikes, publicly demanded that the United States find an alternative. But airstrikes only increased.Allied commanders are still investigating a July 6 airstrike that the Afghan government says killed 47 civilians on their way to a wedding."We deeply regret any incident where civilians are harmed," said Royal Navy Capt. Mike Finney, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan.
Enemy 'emboldened'But the Air Force says it is only responding to the intensity of fighting on the ground."Let's face it, the enemy is more emboldened," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Raaberg, deputy commander of air operations in the region. Raaberg is a B-1 bomber pilot who has flown strike missions over Afghanistan as recently as last week."The Taliban, when they have an opportunity to take a stand, they are doing that," he said in a telephone interview from the region.Coalition aircraft have doubled the number of hours they spend each day on airborne "armed overwatch" of U.S. and allied convoys and other operations, he said. He acknowledged that strike missions also have doubled as ground commanders increasingly request air support.To meet the demand, allied air crews are flying more sorties each day, and more U.S. aircraft are on station with the recent diversion of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln from Iraq operations to supporting operations in Afghanistan."We are shifting assets as needed to make sure we don't leave [ground forces] uncovered," Raaberg said.But the Air Force has to scramble to meet unexpected demand.A Taliban attack July 13, for example, nearly overran a remote U.S. and Afghan outpost near the Pakistani border. Insurgents held the upper hand in combat until an Air Force B-1 bomber flew in to drop 2,000-pound bombs, an unmanned Predator fired a Hellfire missile and other strike aircraft dropped bombs and strafed the enemy with cannon. The insurgents retreated, leaving nine American soldiers dead."The only reason they weren't completely overrun was air power, and that's the first time that has happened" in the Afghan war, said John McCreary, who retired in 2006 as a senior intelligence analyst for the Pentagon's Joint Staff."Coalition ground forces are not winning every battle, but they are winning every battle where they have air support," said McCreary, who follows Afghanistan closely and still assembles a daily open-source intelligence report.On July 20, Raaberg was piloting a B-1 bomber over Afghanistan when he was redirected to attack Taliban forces gathering for an assault on a U.S. forward operating base in Kunar province, in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan."They started attacking within half an hour of when I got there," Raaberg recalled. He said U.S. artillery fired at the enemy, followed by airstrikes, followed by more artillery and more airstrikes, "until we ran out of bombs."Defeating such Taliban attacks, he said, is "not so much air [power] saving the day, it's air combined with ground forces combined with our coalition partners. We're trying to use everything."Analysts who have studied casualty patterns in Afghanistan say that the vast majority are caused, deliberately or not, by the Taliban and other insurgents.According to Human Rights Watch, a nonpartisan international research organization, 929 Afghan civilians were killed in the fighting in 2006. Of those, 699 were killed by the Taliban and 230 by U.S. or coalition forces, including 116 by airstrikes.In 2007, 1,633 Afghan civilians died in the fighting, with 950 killed by the Taliban and 434 by U.S. and coalition forces, according to data provided by Garlasco. The rest died under unclear or unknown circumstances, he said.But while the number killed by U.S. or coalition ground forces stayed about the same, those killed by airstrikes more than doubled, to 321.A key reason for the increase is that the Taliban are "shielding" their fighters among Afghanistan's civilian population, Garlasco said."They actually go into peoples' homes, force them to stay there during a battle, force them to build defensive trenches for them - these are true Geneva Conventions violations," Garlasco said.Raaberg said the Air Force will not attack insurgents shielding themselves among civilians "and the enemy knows that."
Unplanned strikesBut Garlasco said the Air Force has not taken as much care with its quick-reaction airstrike missions as it has with those planned in detail and reviewed by intelligence analysts and lawyers at the U.S. regional air operations headquarters in Qatar."In their planned airstrikes, they have virtually eliminated the danger of civilian casualties," Garlasco said. "It is in the unplanned airstrikes that you're seeing almost all of the civilian casualties."Such unplanned missions often involve urgent calls to support U.S. and allied troops who unexpectedly engage in battle. Or an unmanned surveillance plane might find a group of people mistakenly identified by targeters as insurgents.Raaberg said that for unplanned missions - such as the one in which he participated July 20 - the air command dispatches not just strike aircraft but intelligence and command aircraft, all in close coordination with ground commanders and tactical air controllers."It's a painstaking effort," he said. If insurgents are mixed in with civilians, "we will wait them out if we can" or ask the ground commander to flush them out.But U.S. and allied troops in trouble take precedence."My hat's off to the ones on the ground," Raaberg said."There's nothing more uncomfortable than to hear on the radio mortars and grenades going off. You've got to go help them."
Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Clement: Massive dysfunctionality led to isotope crisis.

Dysfunctionality is actually a euphemism for incompetence. No mention of MDS Nordion or its suit against AECL for deciding not to go ahead with the Maple reactors. No mention of the contract between Nordion and the AECL either. AECL's incompetence and shutting down of reactors will cost the taxpayer millions. Instead of cleaning house and hiring competent people the government will probably try to privatise AECL but with the mess AECL is in and its existing contractual obligations no private company will probably buy it even at fire sale prices. The government will probably invest more money to make it saleable and then when it looks profitable will sell it off at firesale prices so that the private sector not the taxpayer will profit from the further investment.

'Massive dysfunctionality' led to isotope crisis: Clement
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 8:47 AM ET CBC News
A "massive dysfunctionality" of communication between parties contributed to the shortage of medical isotopes in the wake of last year's shutdown of the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. reactor in Chalk River, Ont., federal Health Minister Tony Clement said.
Clement said he’s not surprised by the findings of an independent consultant, who urged better communications between the government, the federal regulator and AECL, the Crown corporation in charge of the reactor that provides two-thirds of the world's radioisotopes.
"This crisis couldn’t reach this point unless there was a massive dysfunctionality going on somewhere along the line and clearly, what this report does is illustrate that all along the line there were missed opportunities and miscommunication," Clement told CBC News following the release of the report on Monday.
While it was shut down in November 2007 for required maintenance, the Chalk River reactor essentially stopped supplying the nuclear material essential for medical imaging and diagnostic scans for fractures, cancers and heart conditions. It was restarted on Dec. 16 after Parliament passed a bill ordering it to resume operations.
The report says that during the isotope shortage, there was no communication between AECL, which produces the raw materials of most tests performed in nuclear medicine imaging facilities, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal safety commission that oversees it and the federal government.
"The most disconcerting issue of all for all concerned was the fact that the nuclear medicine community could not properly plan an appropriate response to the crisis," reads the report.
Nuclear community 'teetering on the brink of disaster'
Clement said the government has already taken action to address some of the recommendations, including developing a new communication protocol to ensure information about future shutdowns of the reactor would be shared faster between the respective parties involved.
A separate, but related report into the crisis by an ad hoc group of health experts that was also released on Monday found that Canada's nuclear medicine community was "teetering on the brink of disaster" in the wake of the reactor's shutdown.
The panel also suggests a reserve of raw materials should be created to deal with any future shortage and calls for more reactors to be opened to create isotopes.With files from the Canadian Press

MacKay confirms 200 new troops for Afghanistan.

Nice touch that MacKay ties these further commitments to the Manley report thus linking the Liberals with the Conservatives and the Afghan mission. While our national infrastructure of bridges, roads, etc. crumbles we spend our money on adventures in tandem with the U.S. imperialists in overthrowing existing regimes and trying to build regimes more friendly to U.S. imperialism.

MacKay confirms 200 new troops for Afghanistan
Updated Mon. Jul. 28 2008 11:46 AM ET News Staff
An increase to Canada's troop commitment in Afghanistan to 2,700 would represent the additional boots on the ground needed to run aerial drones and six Chinook helicopters, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson was in Afghanistan on the weekend for his first visit since taking on the portfolio.
While there, he said Canada may boost its numbers in the south by 200 "as more equipment arrives," appearing to link the troops to a new squadron of helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) expected to be in place early next year.
MacKay, speaking to CTV's Canada AM on Monday, confirmed the link, saying the extra troops would be part of the increases needed to meet the recommendations of the Manley report on Afghanistan which was endorsed by Parliament.
"These additional troops would be required to keep the commitment that the parliamentary motion spoke of," MacKay said.
"And this will also importantly provide the ability to transport troops and equipment inside Afghanistan's Kandahar province, as well as giving that all important eye in the sky perspective for the UAVs."
John Manley's report on Afghanistan recommended that Canada extend its commitment to Afghanistan, but only if other NATO members boosted their troop commitments and provided more equipment.
MacKay noted that many of the 88 Canadian troops killed in Afghanistan were struck by improvised explosive devices while doing ground transportation of materials needed for development and reconstruction efforts.
The new equipment, he said, will save lives.
"UAVs give us that eye in the sky, the ability to see the Taliban when they're putting these type of devices in the road," MacKay said.
"And the transport helicopters, the heavy lift capability is critically important to the mission and its success."
MacKay also previewed a list of mission benchmarks the federal government plans to release in August to help Canadians measure the success of the mission.
In addition to military benchmarks, the list will include a major dam-building project, the construction of schools and efforts to eradicate polio with medical supplies and immunizations, MacKay said.
"So in addition to security and providing greater security on the ground we'll move ahead with this type of project. This is very much in keeping with Parliament's commitments. What we want to see as Canadians is a stable society that's able to do a lot more for itself," MacKay said.
Speaking in Kabul on Saturday, Emerson said the long-awaited benchmark list will be a valuable tool.
"We want numbers that tell us when we're doing things right. We want numbers and benchmarks that will tell us when we're doing things not so well," he said.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dion Coy about Fall election

This is from CTV.
Dion has to be coy. He won't call an election until the polls are good for the Liberals and bad for the Conservatives. If this ever happens he claims Canadians want an election. If the polls are bad for Liberals he will claim Canadians do not want an election now. In between times Liberals refuse to defeat the Conservatives and sit on their hands so often they may harm the blood circulation in their hands.

Dion remains coy about fall election call News Staff Updated: Sun. Jul. 27 2008 8:27 PM ET
After triggering speculation this past week that the Liberals may be ready for a fall election, party leader Stephane Dion remains coy about when or if his party would try to topple the Conservative government.
"An election will come between now and October 2009," he said on CTV's Question Period on Sunday.
"(Calling an election) is a decision that belongs to me, that's true ... I will choose a good moment."
Last week, Dion fueled talk of a possible fall vote, saying Canadians appear more ready this year to head to the polls than they did last fall.
On Sunday, Dion cited provincial elections in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan as reasons why he chose not to pull the plug last year on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government.
However, defeating the Tories would require all three opposition parties to agree on election timing and vote down the government.
Dion also defended his Green Shift carbon tax plan, which he said will resonate with voters who will head to the polls in three byelections slated for the fall.
"I will not decide for voters what will be the choices on which issues they want to vote," Dion said. "We have very good reasons to convince these three byelections' voters to vote for the Liberal priorities."
The Liberal "Green Shift" plan includes a $15.4-billion-per-year tax shift that would put a price on carbon emissions and reward green businesses and consumers. The Liberals have said their plan is "revenue neutral" and offsets new taxes with tax cuts, including measures to help lower-income earners.
Dion said Canadians want to make climate change a priority, but acknowledged his plan has its critics.
"We have climate change plans. These climate change plans must be improved ... but the core, to have something that will work, is to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. Most experts are telling us to do that. Other countries have done it. It did not destroy their economies," he said.
The Tories say Dion's plan will hurt Canadians and businesses and will do nothing to help the environment because it does not call for specific reductions in emissions.
"Mr. Dion is going across the country saying that he wants to raise taxes on just about everything to pay for new spending," Jason Kenney, the secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, told Question Period.
Kenney said if the Liberals force an election this fall, voters will consider a host of issues in addition to climate change. He said the Tories will focus on measures to deal with crime and consumer issues when Parliament resumes.
The NDP's Peggy Nash told Question Period her party is ready for an election now.
"Stephen Harper can't be trusted," she said, claiming that's what Canadians have told her about the Tory leader.
"We are really ready to put Stephen Harper's agenda to the public and let Canadians decide because he is taking this country in the wrong direction."
© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Feds deny Air Canada exemption from labour rules

If the existing contract already had rules that required the setting up of committees with workers to settle these matters why was Air Canada trying to get an exemption anyway! Air Canada seems bound and determined to alienate both it employees and its customers. No wonder Westjet is doing better than Air Canada these days.

Feds deny Air Canada exemption from labour rules
Last Updated: Friday, July 25, 2008 5:07 PM ET
CBC News
Ottawa has denied Air Canada's request for an exemption from federal labour law, a move which could make the implementation of planned 2,000 job cuts more difficult.
Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said no Friday to Air Canada's application to obtain a holiday from some labour rules concerning the creation of layoff committees.
"After carefully examining the application, I have decided that there are insufficient grounds to grant a waiver to Air Canada," Blackburn said in a statement.
That means the Montreal-based air carrier will be forced to set up a committee with its employees to discuss severance and other aspects of the coming job cuts.
Air Canada noted that its existing contracts already contain provisions to establish such groups.
Even with the ruling, the carrier said it can still meet its Nov. 1 target for eliminating positions, more than eight per cent of its employee base.
"This decision will not delay the plans to reduce our workforce," said Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick.
"It just adds an additional layer [of complexity]."Three-month Air Canada stock chart.
In June, Air Canada announced plans to chop the jobs, which included more than 600 flight attendants. The carrier is seeking to reduce its flights and workforce in order to deal with sharply higher fuel costs.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, however, has been fighting the cuts by measures such as holding rallies in Toronto, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver.
"These drastic measures don't make sense," said Lesley Swann, president of CUPE's Air Canada bargaining unit, which represents 7,200 flight attendants.
"There's no justification for the closures, and cutting attendants is only going to reduce the company's capacity to provide passengers with quality services."with files from Canadian Press

Emerson says 200 more Canadians may go to Afghanistan

This is from
"that troubled country"= that occupied country, occupied by us together with the other junior partners NATO and the UN all coming to the rescue of U.S. imperialism to advance the cause of the New American Century. Bush, Obama, Canadian Liberals and Conservatives all united in this noble cause of rescuing the so-called failed state. The Taliban failed state by the way was able to mostly solve the opium problem and was rewarded with a check for several million dollars by Colin Powell. Of course that was before the Taliban became the bad guys. It is difficult to keep these bad guys and good guys straight. The Taliban types were great guys when they were blowing up Soviet convoys and creating widows in the USSR but now they are creating widows in Canada, the UK, US, etc. they are terrorists. Sunday » July 27 » 2008
It sounds as if in return for the helicopters we agreed to send more cannon fodder as well. Don't expect the Liberals to say too much about this. Perhaps a few faint bleats.
How many reporters have linked the recent deficit with our increased military spending? There seems to be no consumer slowdown in demand for military equipment and spending.

Emerson says 200 more Canadians may go to Afghanistan

Graham Thomson
Canwest News Service
Saturday, July 26, 2008
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - About 200 additional Canadian troops could be headed for Afghanistan to accompany the helicopters that the Armed Forces plans to deploy to that troubled country, Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson said Saturday at the end of a whirlwind visit.
"Canada has had 2,500 troops here in Afghanistan; that number could expand to 2,700 as we put more equipment here in theatre," he said, alluding to helicopters due to arrive by February.
Emerson said the pressure is also on Canada's NATO allies to send more troops. There has been talk of the U.S. sending more troops as early as this fall.
"We've been talking with our NATO allies and, in fact, we do now have commitments to increase the number of troops, particularly in the Kandahar region," the minister said. "And we're feeling more comfortable now that the troop support is being increased in an appropriate way and we see more troops on the way over the next year."
In his first comprehensive examination of Canada's activities in Afghanistan since being named to his portfolio, Emerson acknowledged "some disappointing aspects to the security situation." But he also promised to unveil benchmarks within weeks to allow Canadians to decide for themselves whether progress is being made in the war-torn country.
Emerson arrived at Kandahar Airfield on a Canadian military aircraft at 2 a.m. Friday and flew to Kabul the following morning, before leaving the country Saturday afternoon.
Packed into his 40-hour agenda was a visit with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul and a helicopter trip to the dilapidated 60-year-old Dhala Dam near Kandahar City. As one of its "signature" projects, Canada has promised to refurbish the dam to improve irrigation for local farmers at a cost of $50 million over three years.
"That was a very, very important eye-opener for me because I was able to see a dam that is repairable," said Emerson who toured the dam casually wearing his body armour draped over one shoulder. "I was able to see the Arghandab River valley where the lush vegetation indicates to me there's just tremendous potential to drive agriculture and to create a real economic base that will be of great benefit to the people of this region."
After a major combat operation with the Afghan National Army, supported by Canadian troops, the region is now relatively quiet. However, the neighbouring districts of Zhari and Panjwaii continue to be the site of daily attacks by insurgents against civilians and the military. Two Canadian soldiers have died in the Panjwaii district this month alone.
"We've seen some disappointing aspects to the security situation," said Emerson. "On the other hand, all the briefings that I'm getting, both from our civilian people and our military people, are that we're not going backwards."
Progress forward, though, is slow in a country that is plagued by violence, corruption and grinding poverty where most people in rural areas have no electricity, potable water or access to health care.
"It's going to be a difficult situation for a long time to come," said Emerson who is chair of the federal cabinet committee on Afghanistan.
Due to the resilient nature of insurgents and a burgeoning opium trade, Canada recently lowered its expectations on what can be accomplished in the troubled country before the military mission ends in 2011. Instead of hoping to dramatically reduce the capabilities of the Taliban and cut the size of the drug trade, Canada is now focused on six moderate goals, including the delivery of humanitarian assistance, enhancing border security with Pakistan, and promoting law and order.
"What we hope is that we can ensure that Afghanistan becomes - or continues to be - a viable state," said Emerson, "(so) that developmental initiatives, that initiatives of a humanitarian nature, of an educational nature, can take root. And that the people of Afghanistan will be better off, will be healthier, and will have a more robust democracy over time."
To measure the effectiveness of Canadian efforts, the federal government will be unveiling its long-awaited mission benchmarks in August.
"We want numbers that tell us when we're doing things right. We want numbers and benchmarks that will tell us when we're doing things not so well," said Emerson. "We'll be rolling that out with some serious technical briefings over the next few weeks."
"The Taliban is not going to go away, in my opinion, not in the near term. And it will be something that will have to be managed with great care and vigour for a long time to come."
Edmonton Journal
© Canwest News Service 2008

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Winnipeg Sun's Joseph Quesnel claims no evidence Khadr will not face a fair trial.

Joseph Quesnel writing in the Winnipeg Sun has this to say about Khadr's trial in Guantanamo:

Khadr is going to trial before a military court in October and no one has presented credible evidence that he will not face a fair trial there.

But there is lots of credible evidence that he will not face a fair trial there but Quesnel chooses to ignore it. Some of the evidence is presented by people directly involved in the trials on the prosecution side.

They have been condemned by one of their own military defense lawyers (Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler) as rigged, ridiculous, unjust, farcical, a sham, and a lawless process. Another, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, explained to Vanity Fair last March, “The whole purpose of setting up Guantánamo Bay is for torture. Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question people coercively — what some people call torture. Guantánamo and the military commissions are implements for breaking the law.”

There is at least one well known book by Andy Worthington criticising the trials and Guantanamo at length. Perhaps Quesnel should read it. Here is most of an article by Worthington at this site. Many lawyers and even the American Bar Association have questioned the process at Guantanamo. Quesnel himself near the end of his article notes that there is a good case for Khadr being a child soldier and for granting people due process. Duh! So there are two bits of credible evidence that the Guantanamo process is unfair given by the same person who said that there is none. This is evidence that Joseph Quesnel doesn''t even know when he contradicts himself and evidence of lack of quality control at the Winnipeg Sun.

The reason that Guantánamo must be closed is the same as it has been since the prison opened over six years ago, on January 11, 2002. In a country founded on the rule of law, it is completely unjustifiable to declare prisoners “illegal enemy combatants” and to hold them without charge or trial.
If these prisoners were, or are terrorists, as the government has persistently averred, they should have been charged as such, and subjected to trials as criminals on the US mainland. If, on the other hand, they were soldiers — even soldiers of an irregular army — who were captured on the battlefield, as the government has also maintained, they should have been held as Enemy Prisoners of War, as defined by the Geneva Conventions, and protected “against acts of violence or intimidation.”
What happened instead, as we have discovered in the long years since Guantánamo opened, is that hundreds of innocent men — charity workers, economic migrants, religious students and teachers — were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US military’s local allies, and were handed over for bounty payments averaging $5,000 a head.
Hundreds of Taliban recruits were also detained, although the administration has struggled to connect them in any meaningful way to al-Qaeda or the events of 9/11. The majority of these men had traveled to Afghanistan before 9/11, at the urging of fatwas issued by radical sheikhs in their home countries in the Middle East, to help the Taliban fight the Northern Alliance in an inter-Muslim civil war that began after the fall of the last remnants of the Soviet-backed regime in 1992, and continued after the rise of the Taliban in 1994.
There will never be any excuse for holding so many innocent men. According to Article 5 of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, if there is any doubt about the status of prisoners captured during a war, they must be subjected to battlefield tribunals, designed to deal promptly with those captured by mistake. This has happened in all previous wars conducted by the United States since the Conventions were drafted. During the first Gulf War, for example, battlefield tribunals were held for 1,196 prisoners, and nearly three-quarters of them were subsequently released.
However, as Chris Mackey, a former interrogator at the US prisons in Afghanistan, has explained, no substantive screening process whatsoever took place at Kandahar and Bagram. On the orders of the high-level officials overseeing the transfer process at Camp Doha, Kuwait, all Arab prisoners were automatically sent to Guantánamo, and so too were the majority of the 220 Afghans who also ended up at Guantánamo, even though the majority had been betrayed by rivals or had been picked up in raids based on dubious intelligence.
Shamefully, when the prisoners failed to provide significant intelligence at Guantánamo, the authorities decided that it was because they had been trained by al-Qaeda to resist interrogation, and, with the blessing of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, introduced “enhanced interrogation techniques” — including prolonged isolation, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious abuse, the use of extreme heat and cold, and the use of excruciatingly painful stress positions — which, particularly in 2003 and 2004, transformed an offshore interrogation center holding prisoners without charge or trial (all illegal under the Geneva Conventions and international laws) into a prison where what was practiced was — under any definition other than the deliberately narrow one chosen by the administration — torture.
Legal attempts to redress these injustices have largely been ignored or overridden by the administration. When the Supreme Court ruled in June 2004 that Guantánamo — chosen as the location for the prison because it was presumed to beyond the reach of the US courts — was “territory over which the United States exercises exclusive jurisdiction and control,” and that the prisoners therefore had habeas corpus rights (the right to challenge the basis of their detention), the administration undermined the judgment by introducing military tribunals — the Combatant Status Review Tribunals — which were a cynical mockery of the Article 5 battlefield tribunals. These, of course, relied on a proximity to the place and time of capture, so that witnesses could be reasonably called, but in Guantánamo, although the authorities claimed that they had tried to call witnesses requested by the prisoners, no outside witness was ever called to back up the prisoners’ stories.
Moreover, the prisoners, though allowed access to lawyers after the Supreme Court ruling, were not allowed legal representation in the tribunals, and were also denied the opportunity either to hear or challenge the “classified evidence” against them. Last year, two military officers who had served on the tribunals submitted statements declaring that the tribunals relied on generalized and often generic evidence, adding, moreover, that most of the “evidence” consisted of “information obtained during interrogations of other detainees.”
So what of the truly dangerous prisoners at Guantánamo? According to dozens of high-level military and intelligence sources cited by the New York Times in June 2004, none of the prisoners “ranked as leaders or senior operatives of al-Qaeda,” and “only a relative handful — some put the number at about a dozen, others more than two dozen — were sworn Qaeda members or other militants able to elucidate the organization’s inner workings.” To these can be added some — or perhaps most — of the ten prisoners and 14 “high-value” prisoners, who were transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2004 and September 2006.
What will happen to these men is unclear. The Pentagon has, of course, just pressed charges against six of the “high-value” prisoners most closely associated with the 9/11 attacks (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed architect of 9/11), but the system chosen for their prosecution — trial by Military Commission — has yet to record a single significant success.
Dreamt up by Vice President Dick Cheney and his advisors in November 2001, as an alternative to both the criminal justice system and the military’s own judicial system, the Commissions, like the tribunals, are empowered to use hearsay evidence (and may use evidence obtained through coercion if approved by the government-appointed military judges). They have been condemned by one of their own military defense lawyers (Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler) as rigged, ridiculous, unjust, farcical, a sham, and a lawless process. Another, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, explained to Vanity Fair last March, “The whole purpose of setting up Guantánamo Bay is for torture. Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question people coercively — what some people call torture. Guantánamo and the military commissions are implements for breaking the law.”
Complicating matters, at least some, and perhaps the majority of these men have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including, in at least three cases, waterboarding, which is a form of controlled drowning. Despite the administration’s best semantic efforts, these techniques are torture, pure and simple. They remain illegal under domestic and international law, and evidence obtained through torture is legally inadmissible.
How the administration will deal with this inconvenient truth is, at present, unknown. If the Commissions collapse, these men will have to be moved to the US mainland to face prosecution in a recognizable court system, where their torture will cast a cloud over the integrity of their trials, even if juries can be secured who are prepared to ignore the fact that they were tortured.
What should have happened, and what should happen in future with any other alleged terrorists captured by the United States, is that they are handed over to skilled interrogators like the FBI’s Dan Coleman, who interrogated many of the terrorists captured before 9/11 (and convicted in the US courts) without resorting to “enhanced interrogation.” Fundamentally opposed to torture, because it is unreliable, and because it corrupts those who undertake it, Coleman, in 2005, delivered a brief condemnation of the methods employed by the government since 9/11, which should serve as an epitaph for the lawless aberrations of the last six years. Speaking to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, he said, “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. Besides, you lose your soul.”
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Forces promote chief of tarnished mission

This is from
So General Hillier intervened to get this chap promoted or at least considered again for promotion even though from the Somali inquiry it seems that he was not up to snuff. It seems that some of the intelligence officers who screwed up in the Arar case also were promoted. But Labbe has played a key role in Afghanistan so he should be rewarded on the basis of his contribution to our mission to help U.S. imperialism.

Friday » July 25 » 2008

Forces promote chief of tarnished mission
Quietly minted general commanded paratroopers who tortured Somali teen to death

David Pugliese
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, July 25, 2008
Canada's military leadership has quietly promoted to general the soldier who led the ill-fated Somalia mission and who was subsequently found by a government inquiry to have failed in his duty as a commander.
The military has not publicized the July 2 promotion of Col. Serge Labbé to the rank of brigadier general. But sources contacted the Citizen about the promotion and the Defence Department yesterday confirmed that the new rank for the officer will be retroactive to 2000.
Dan Dugas, the communications director for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, said the minister signed off on the promotion based on the recommendation of Gen. Rick Hillier, who recently retired as chief of the defence staff. "Mr. MacKay takes the advice of the Chief of the Defence Staff on staffing issues," Mr. Dugas said.
Gen. Hillier and Brig.-Gen. Labbé worked together in Kabul in 2004, and the former colonel has been a key player at NATO and in the Afghanistan mission.
Brig.-Gen Labbé was considered a rising star in the Forces when he was selected to lead the 1992-93 mission to Somalia. During that deployment, Canadian paratroopers tortured to death 16-year-old Somali Shidane Arone, documenting the beating in a series of photographs.
During the same mission, two Somalis were shot in the back after they entered a Canadian camp. It was later revealed that paratroopers put out food and water as "bait," and it was alleged by a military doctor that one of the Somalis was killed "execution-style" by a soldier.
The Somalia inquiry, set up to investigate problems with the mission, also heard allegations that Brig.-Gen. Labbé offered a case of champagne to the first soldier who killed a Somali. Another officer testified the then-colonel said he was "looking forward to my first dead Somali."
Brig.-Gen. Labbé, who was never charged in connection with any incidents in Somalia, has vehemently denied making the champagne statement and has said other comments attributed to him were misinterpreted.
In 1997, the Somalia inquiry concluded Brig.-Gen. Labbé exercised poor and inappropriate leadership by failing to ensure Canadian troops were adequately trained and tested on the Geneva Conventions and that he failed in his duty as a commander.
Brig.-Gen Labbé was denied his promotion twice before by military review boards. But earlier this year, Gen. Hillier ordered a review of the officer's file as "he believed that the situation merited a closer look because there may have been an oversight in the years following 1998," the Defence Department said in an e-mail.
"In Feb 2008, the CDS directed a review of promotion board reports that ascertained that (Brig.-Gen. Labbé's) file was not given due consideration for promotion during the period 2000-2003," the Defence Department e-mail said. "The rationale for the promotion was based on an overall assessment of performance of the individual in his rank, relative to that of his peers."
Brig.-Gen. Labbé declined through a Defence Department spokesman to be interviewed.
A colleague of Brig.-Gen. Labbé said the officer is currently in Kabul as head of the Strategic Advisory Team, which provides support to Afghan government ministries. He is expected back in Canada in August and is expected to retire after that, according to the general's colleague.
In 2005, then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson awarded both Gen. Hillier and Brig.-Gen. Labbé the meritorious service cross for their work in Afghanistan. Gen. Hillier was honoured for his contribution as commander of the international force in Kabul and Brig.-Gen. Labbé was cited for his work there as the deputy chief of staff during the same period in 2004.
In 2001, Brig.-Gen. Labbé was also credited with helping in the release of six Serb hostages held by an Albanian rebel commander in a buffer zone between Kosovo and Serbia.
But the former colonel's appointment as a key NATO negotiator in the Kosovo region drew criticism at the time. Then-Canadian Alliance MP Art Hanger said Brig.-Gen. Labbé should not be representing Canada overseas because of the findings of the Somalia inquiry.
Mr. Hanger, then the Alliance's defence critic, said the case of Brig.-Gen. Labbé, more than anything else, was a reflection of the then-Liberal government and a defence minister "unwilling to make hard decisions.'"
"I'd like to ask the Liberal government when it's going to make some hard decisions on leadership,'' Mr. Hanger said.
Details of serious disciplinary problems in the Canadian Airborne Regiment before and during its mission to Somalia, allegations of racism within the ranks and the release of disturbing video footage showing airborne soldiers undergoing a drunken initiation would eventually prompt the Chrétien government to disband the unit. The years after the Somalia mission are seen by many in the Canadian Forces as a low point for the military.
But contrary to those who have claimed the Somalia mission was a failure, Brig.-Gen. Labbé said the operation was "highly satisfactory" and said the actual deployment to the African country was a textbook operation.
Peter Desbarats, one of the Somalia inquiry commissioners, questions the mission's success, noting the African country continues to slide into chaos.
"I don't know which textbook they're referring to," Mr. Desbarats said yesterday. "They accomplished over the long term absolutely nothing."
The e-mail from the Defence Department said Brig.-Gen. Labbé's promotion will be noted in an upcoming release outlining new appointments.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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This is a snippet from the CBC.
Actually dandelions are not native to North America but were brought here as a food source. They actually taste good but in Japan they make coffee out of the dried roots. Dandelions also make a good wine. I can still remember tasting a very nice dandelion wine made by Hungarian immigrants when I lived in Toronto decades ago............Maybe an enterprising Manitoba farmer can sell dandelion roots to Japan as coming from the land of Margaret Laurence since she is also popular in Japan.

And this brings me back to dandelions, and a farmer named Raymond Loo.

Loo is selling the flower's roots on the back of Anne of Green Gables (CBC)
Loo has been making connections in Japan over the last few years, working to tie together two of P.E.I.'s most successful industries: agriculture and Anne of Green Gables. He believes he may have hit on a winner with dandelions.
Loo has a contract with a Japanese company to provide about 1,400 kg of dried dandelion root, which the company will roast and grind to make a coffee-like beverage that is popular in Japan. The sale is possible because the company will be able to market the drink as coming from the land of Anne, who is an extremely popular character in Japan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Steelworkers vote to strike if necessary against Potash Corp of Saskatchewan

This is from the Canadian Dimension blog.

The vote in favor of strike action was overwhelming. No doubt it is because the Corp. has been raking in the money lately and the workers want a share of the spoils. Given that the corporation intends to expand production they may be willing to strike a deal with the union.

Steelworkers vote to strike if necessary against Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
Canadian Dimension, July 22nd, 2008
SASKATOON, July 22 /CNW/ - Members of the United Steelworkers’ Locals 7458, 189 and 7689 have voted over 96 per cent in favour of taking strike action against Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) if no progress is made towards a new collective agreement.The Monday vote is a rejection of a company offer that does not address key issues, including control over contracting out, pensions, wages, vacation and bonus.The three locals, representing 500 workers at three mine sites, are working in coordination to achieve a fair settlement during a period of skyrocketing demand for potash. Record potash prices and continuing provincial giveaways allowed PCS to collect an after-tax profit of $566-million in the first three months of 2008. Although PCS is receiving far more profit per worker than most mining companies, it pays wages lower than many other major Canadian mining operations.The union has met with PCS about 40 times since April. “Our goal is to reach a good settlement that recognizes the value of our members’ efforts to make this company such an economic success story,” said USW negotiator Lee Edwards. “We look forward to getting back to the bargaining table to resolve this.” Workers have been without a contract since the end of April.
Canada’s most diverse union, the USW represents more than 280,000 men and women working in every sector of the economy.
For further information: Lee Edwards, (306) 382-2122

Dion sensing mood for an election!

So lets see Dion is applauding links between U.S. and Canadian policy. No doubt he will also go along with increased U.S. activity in Afghanistan. Maybe he will even suggest we should send more troops to finish up the job in time! I thought that it was Harper that was so enamoured of U.S. policies. No doubt Dion thinks that with Obama or even McCain there will be real change away from Bush policies. Perhaps there will be some minor change in environmental policy but most of the change will be in appearances rather than substance. The same will be the case if Dion manages to win an election rather than Harper. The difference might be that if Dion is in a minority Harper will probably not order his troops to sit on their hands and let legislation they oppose pass.
There is no poll evidence presented that Canadians are in the mood for an election. Perhaps it is polling that suggests Conservatives are going nowhere that induces a mood for an election this fall or perhaps he thinks that the economic slowdown will work against Harper. Dion says that Canadians do not like Conservatives'' style. Maybe not. But on the environment the Liberal style was to talk big and do little or nothing. From Dion''s rhetoric it sounds as if the Liberals intend to continue that policy.

Dion sensing mood for an election - Canada - Dion sensing mood for an election
Liberal leader says U.S. presidential contest may boost his party's `green shift' carbon-tax pitch
July 24, 2008 Susan DelacourtOttawa Bureau
OTTAWA–Canadians are increasingly in the mood for a federal election this fall, says Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion.
"More than before," Dion said yesterday when asked what he was hearing on the road about voters' desire to go to the polls. "We have seen over the winter and the spring, more and more interest for federal politics and more and more appetite for an election."
But it may be another election – the U.S. presidential contest – that will also help the Liberals in any electoral battle here, Dion says.
The Liberal leader, currently on a tour of eastern Ontario to sell his "green shift" tax proposal, said that both presumptive U.S. presidential candidates – Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama – are proposing a more aggressive stand on climate change.
Dion said that the Liberals, with their plan to move taxes away from income and more to environmentally unfriendly carbon, are more in tune with the changing U.S. mood than is Stephen Harper's government.
"Both of them, Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, have said that the United States needs to stop (being) passive ... and come with a price on carbon – carbon pricing," Dion told a morning gathering in Kanata, just west of Ottawa.
Dion said that everyone from U.S. mayors to Al Gore, the former vice-president and Nobel laureate, is encouraging Americans to demand stronger action against climate change. A number of powerful U.S. mayors have talked about limiting imports from the Canadian oil sands, for instance, and Gore recently said the U.S. should be getting all its electricity from renewable sources within 10 years.
"So there are a lot of interesting things that are happening in the United States. The last thing I would like to see is Canada behind the United States," Dion said.
"The world is looking more and more to include carbon pricing in their trade strategy and I want Canada to be ahead of the curve, instead of being behind and vulnerable."
The Liberals have held off on provoking an election for the past year, arguing Canadians aren't ready. But at the end of June, Dion launched his "green shift" plan, including tax-enhancement and poverty-reduction schemes, and has since been out selling it. The plan has been condemned by the Tories as "a tax on everything," ill-timed to coincide with rising gas prices.
The Liberal leader insisted yesterday that his plan was going over better with Canadians than the Tories' attack ads were. He told his audience in Kanata that oil prices are going to rise regardless, so all politicians will have to eventually say what they are going to do to help Canadians offset those increases.
Dion says people he's meeting say they appreciate the chance to have a debate about the environment – something beyond the name-calling and attacks that have dominated federal political discourse.
"An election will come. I cannot tell you when. I know that Canadians are telling me more and more: `You were right to wait. We know more about this government and we know more about what kind of government you Liberals may give to us,'" he said.
"Not only about what (Conservatives) are doing wrong for the economy, the environment and social justice, and no strategy at all to fight poverty. But also in their style. People don't like that."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mideast Sees more of the Same if Obama is Elected.

This is from the NY Times.
Although the media strives mightily for product differentiation of the McCain and Obama brands with respect to many policies there are only marginal if any differences between the Obama and McCain. Of course these are already framed as the only choices by the media although there may be a patronising hello once in a while to other candidates.
Both candidates in an attempt to get Jewish votes and the support of the Israel lobby declare their undying support for Israel. As many Palestinians point out there is no hope of the U.S. being an unbiased broker for peace, but then there never has been so what you have is more of the same as the article claims.

July 22, 2008
Mideast Sees More of the Same if Obama Is Elected
AMMAN, Jordan — For what feels like forever, Israelis and their Arab neighbors have been hopelessly deadlocked on how to resolve the Palestinian crisis. But there is one point they may now agree on: If elected president, Senator Barack Obama will not fundamentally recalibrate America’s relationship with Israel, or the Arab world.
From the religious center of Jerusalem to the rolling hills of Amman to the crowded streets of Cairo, dozens of interviews revealed a similar sentiment: the United States will ultimately support Israel over the Palestinians, no matter who the president is. That presumption promoted a degree of relief in Israel and resignation here in Jordan and in Israel’s other Arab neighbors.
“What we know is American presidents all support Israel,” said Muhammad Ibrahim, 23, a university student who works part time selling watermelons on the street in the southern part of this city. “It is hopeless. This one is like the other one. They are all the same. Nothing will change. Don’t expect change.”
Across the border, in Israel, Moshe Cohen could not have agreed more. “Jews there have influence,” Mr. Cohen said, as he sold lottery tickets along Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. “He’ll have to be good to Israel. If not, he won’t be re-elected to a second term.”
Mr. Obama, who will be here on Tuesday, has promised change. He has offered to begin dialogue where the current president has refused, in places like Syria and Iran. But when he stepped into the Middle East, he walked into a region where public expectations were long ago set. The Bush years have supercharged those sentiments, especially in the Arab world, where there is little faith that the United States can ever again serve as a fair broker between the sides.
In Israel, Mr. Bush was seen as the most supportive American president yet, and early opinion polls show a preference there for the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.
But Mr. Obama gained ground — or lost it, depending on which side was reacting — when he spoke in June to a pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He said that Jerusalem “will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
He later qualified his comments, saying he meant that the two sides of Jerusalem should not be separated by walls or barbed wire. But the message had already been sent.
“The Arabs need America to be straight and unbiased, but anyway we feel, that American policy will not be changed too much,” said a Palestinian who identified himself by his nickname, Abu Fadi, a salesman in an electrical appliance store in downtown Arab East Jerusalem.
Behind this general agreement, there is a fundamental difference. In the Arab streets, there is a hope, perhaps limited, that this candidate might be different. He is black, his father was Muslim and his middle name is Hussein, so there is hope that he will be more sympathetic, though that hope is not joined to any expectation.
“There is optimism wrapped in cynicism,” said Hussein al-Shobokshy, a columnist in the pan-Arab Saudi-owned daily newspaper, Asharq Alawsat.
In Israel, the reverse is true, the lingering suspicion that he is saying what he needs to say to be elected.
Uri Savir, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and now president of the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, said there were people who want peace, like himself, who “are quite excited about what Obama can bring.”
But, he acknowledged that his friends on the center-right were somewhat more ambivalent. “They ask, is he really a friend of Israel?” he said.
The answer here and in Cairo and elsewhere around the region is: Of course he will be a friend of Israel’s.
“He’s like a chameleon,” said Walid Ghalib, 50, as he bought meat from a butcher in the Jabal al Nasr neighborhood of east Amman. “One day he is with the Palestinian cause. One day he’s with Israel. We have a saying here: ‘What’s better, a black dog or a white dog?’ It’s all the same. For us, nothing will change.”
It was not always like this here, but the indifference is a lesson learned.
Eight years ago, many Arabs, leaders and citizens alike, rooted for Gov. George W. Bush over Vice President Al Gore in the race for the presidency. There was an assumption that Mr. Bush would be like his father, who was seen as relatively Arab-friendly.
Nearly four years ago, there was hope among Arabs that Americans would have soured on President Bush and elect Senator John Kerry. President Bush had disappointed. Then American voters did, too.
“The Arab street has been here before,” said Mustafa Hamarneh, the former director of the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies. “We rooted for this and that, and nothing happened. Its déjà vu.”
“Unless the Americans realize that they really have to change and become more evenhanded and apply justice in the region, things will be the same,” he said.
Jordan is a small country, just six million people, half of whom are of Palestinian descent. It is without oil and without much water, and has been battered by the crises in the West Bank and Iraq. Mr. Obama will visit a city tense with politics and economics, which are inevitably intertwined. It is also conservative, clean and quiet.
Mr. Obama “will be no different than Bush,” said Moatasem Hussein, 34, who sold nuts from a shop on a street corner in east Amman.
“What’s going to be different?” said Jasser Shehadi, 40, who sold shoes in the shop next door. “They are all the same.”
Across the street, Muhammad al-Banna, 41, said: “Obama is excellent. He is direct. He is like the successor to J.F.K.”
Instantly, Khaled Attiat, a carpenter working in an open storefront, jumped into the conversation. “Oh, come on,” he shouted. “They are all as bad as each other.”
Mr. Banna replied, “Yes they are all bad, but still, Obama might be a little less bad.”
The reaction was similar in Egypt which, like Jordan, is one of America’s closest allies in the region.
“For me it doesn’t matter that he’s black or his name is Hussein,” said Ahmed Amin, 34, as he drank a beer in a downtown Cairo bar. “He’s an American, and so I disagree with most of what he says about the Arab world. I mean, Condoleezza Rice was black and poor, and she still invaded Iraq.”
There is, however, at least one positive lesson drawn by some in this region over Mr. Obama’s success. It has served to restore a bit of their faith in American-style democracy, which has been tarnished in recent years by the invasion of Iraq and by an administration that talked about promoting democracy but then seemed to backtrack on its promises, many people here said.
The United States, many said, may be a biased supporter of Zionism hostile to Muslims, and still be, for its citizens, a place of opportunity unknown here.
“I think it’s very impressive that someone can start very poor and reach the top like this,” said Hazen Haidar, 23, a gym clerk in Cairo. “It doesn’t happen in Egypt.”
Michael Slackman reported from Amman, and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem. Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Amman, and Nadim Audi from Cairo.

Only the weak and discredited commit war crimes.

While certainly these trials will provide some solace to the Karadzic's victims the whole trial process occurs only because of the fact that the perpetrators are on the losing side of a conflict and no longer have sufficient power to resist being tried. As with all trials of war crimes the victors are never tried for their war crimes. Churchill was never tried for the fire-bombing of Nuremberg, Truman for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nor NATO for war crimes in the bombing of Serbia even though a number of charges were brought forth. See this article. At the time the British defence minister pointed out that it was NATO members who provided funds for the court that was trying Milosevic and others. Of course the U.S. does not support an International Court of Justice only courts that do not try any U.S. soldiers! NATO not only bombed many crucial parts of Serbia's infrastructure such as power plants and water treatment plants it also bombed media outlets killing journalists. Of course it also by mistake bombed the Chinese embassy.
Art 79. Measures or protection for journalists1. Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians within the meaning of Article 50, paragraph 1.
Article 85 - Repression of breaches of this Protocol3. In addition to the grave breaches defined in Article 11, the following acts shall be regarded as grave breaches of this Protocol, when committed wilfully, in violation of the relevant provisions of this Protocol, and causing death or serious injury to body or health:(a) making the civilian population or individual civilians the object of attack;(b) launching an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects in the knowledge that such attack will cause excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, as defined in Article 57, paragraph 2 (a)(iii);

War crimes trials have less to do with justice and everything to do with the rule of the strong over the relatively weak and the power of victors over those who are vanquished. The good results of these trials are simply an unintended byproduct of this. If there were true justice Bush and others would be on trial as well. This is from the Globe and Mail.

Good news for international criminal justice
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
July 23, 2008 at 7:37 AM EDT
Slowly, steadily, the conviction that crimes against humanity and war crimes must be addressed -- no matter how long it takes, no matter how important the perpetrator - is gaining credence in world councils. Thirteen years after the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) first indicted Radovan Karadzic for his starring role in the genocide of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and the medieval-style siege of Sarajevo, among other atrocities, the former Bosnian Serb leader has finally been detained.
His arrest - by Serb authorities, no less - sends a message that the historic expectation that leaders who commit crimes of this magnitude will remain immune from prosecution may be drawing to a close. International criminal justice is still a work in progress, but I believe we will look back on this stellar event as a significant signpost along the road to accountability.
The realization that Mr. Karadzic's impunity has dissolved will be especially important to Bosnian Muslims, many of whom barely managed to survive the former president's policies of murder, ethnic cleansing and rape camps as a means of achieving his political goals. There has been growing cynicism in this community about the failure of NATO and the U.S., in particular, to apprehend Mr. Karadzic and deliver him to the ICTY in The Hague. (The new international courts, including the ICTY, do not have their own police force and are dependent upon others to conduct arrests.) This capture, and the hint that his military commander Ratko Mladic's arrest will not lag far behind, will strengthen support for the tribunal among the victims, perhaps including backing for the idea that long-term peace and security may ultimately depend upon bringing war criminals to account under international law, thus breaking the cycles of revenge.
For years, the chances of bringing Mr. Karadzic to justice looked increasingly slim. He remained a hero to Bosnian Serb nationalists, which meant that he continued to have legions of supporters who identified with him and would protect him, if necessary. As a fugitive he was cocky in the extreme: He even published a book of poetry while allegedly on the run, and there were reports of regular sightings. In the end, only the government of Serbia was in a position to "find" him. But Serbia had been mostly unco-operative, to the frustration of a succession of ICTY prosecutors, including Canada's Louise Arbour, who understood better than anyone that the legacy of the court would depend, in large measure, on seeing this man in the dock.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Harper is not bound.

Certainly Harper is not bound by the former Liberal policy. That policy was obviously wrong and certainly did not comment a Conservative government to follow the same path. Indeed, the Liberals now have changed, having realised the error of their ways, and perhaps because they are now in opposition!
This article does not notice the strangeness of the charges given that the U.S. forces were attacking the compound where Khadr with other jihadists were located. Combatants in a war are not usually charged with murder for defending themselves when attacked! Murder charges are possible only because of the Orwellian concept of unlawful enemy combatant! Such combatants do not apparently have any rights that ordinary soldiers would have in this situation either to be protected by the Geneva conventions or to defend themselves.
The article also neglects to mention that recently evidence has come to light that the grenade involved was a U.S. grenade and hence the death of the U.S. soldier might have been the result of friendly fire.

Harper is not bound
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
July 22, 2008 at 8:02 AM EDT
Like most prime ministers, Stephen Harper has had few qualms about reversing his predecessors' policies. But when it comes to Omar Khadr, Mr. Harper acts as if he cannot deviate from the previous government's position.
The Conservatives have resorted to the always suspect they-did-it-first defence, in refusing to intervene on behalf of Mr. Khadr, the only citizen of a Western country still held at Guantanamo Bay. "This is the process the Liberals chose, and we're sticking with it," Mr. Harper's communications director, Kory Teneycke, told The Globe this past weekend. Having themselves accepted American assurances that Mr. Khadr was being treated fairly, Mr. Teneycke said, the Liberals are guilty of "revisionism and hypocrisy" in now calling for his return to Canada.
If so, why should that have any bearing on Mr. Khadr's current fate? However much the Liberals knew or should have known about his mistreatment at the time - including sleep deprivation before interrogation - the circumstances around his case have changed dramatically in the six years he has been in custody.
The world is no longer in the state of panic that followed Sept. 11, 2001. Other countries have recognized that the United States cannot indefinitely hold their citizens without proper representation or due process, which is why Britain, Australia and Germany have fought for their repatriation. And none of those cases involved a minor (and arguably a child soldier), as Mr. Khadr was at the time of his capture.
The courts, meanwhile, have been increasingly critical of the treatment of Mr. Khadr and other Guantanamo prisoners. Most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court last month weakened the military commission system by which Mr. Khadr is to be tried, ruling that terror suspects can fight for their rights in civilian courts. Two months earlier, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Mr. Khadr's protections under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated when CSIS agents passed on the results of their interviews with him at Guantanamo to U.S. authorities.
Finally, there are the actual charges against Mr. Khadr. Until recently, it was assumed he had killed a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. But a witness account released earlier this year, amid allegations that it had been covered up by American military officials, raised the possibility that it was another al-Qaeda fighter who committed the act. While Mr. Khadr has in no way been cleared, there is now a significant doubt about his guilt.
The Liberals should have done more for Mr. Khadr, as former prime minister Paul Martin admitted in a recent television interview. But since they can no longer rectify their mistake, that task now falls to the Conservatives

GM, utility companies study electric car impact.

Increased electricity use might be a problem. It would be nice if these articles would give one an idea what the cost per kilometre would be for electric cars versus conventional vehicles. If there is a mass switch to electric cars there could be problems caused by increase power usage in some places. By the way while GM is working on the volt they are also going in the opposite direction in announcing a new Camaro to be produced in Canada. How long before the Camaro plant will close? There is already a low speed fully electric car produced in Quebec the Zenn that is approved by Transport Canada finally. It had already been sold in most U.S. states.

GM, utility companies study electric car impact
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 10:46 AM ET Comments6Recommend2
The Associated Press
The Chevy Volt, when fully charged, will be able to travel 64 kilometres on battery power. (Bruce Reeve/CBC)
General Motors Corp. has joined with more than 30 utility companies across the U.S. to help work out electricity issues that will crop up when it rolls out new electric vehicles in a little more than two years.
The Detroit automaker said the partnership, which includes the Electric Vehicle Research Institute and large utilities such as Southern California Edison and Duke Energy Corp., will deal with issues from tax incentives for the vehicles to where and when they can be plugged in for recharging.
GM is working to bring the Chevrolet Volt rechargeable car to showrooms in late 2010. It's being designed to run on an electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. When fully charged, it will be able to go 64 kilometres on battery power. For longer trips, a small internal combustion engine will recharge the batteries to keep the Volt moving.
"This vehicle is real. It's coming into production," said Britta Gross, a GM engineer who is helping to build the infrastructure for cars of the future.
"We know that when the vehicle is in the showroom and ready for sale, it's got to work seamlessly with the infrastructure. It's the whole picture. We've got to make sure the infrastructure is ready."
GM and the utilities planned to announce the partnership Tuesday at a conference on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in San Jose.
The consortium will work on everything from policy issues including tax incentives for purchasing what is likely to be an expensive car to whether the electric generation system can handle the increased power demand.
The cars will have to be designed so recharging them can be timed to low-demand periods for electricity, Gross said. The speed of the recharging, voltage, amperage and other issues all have to be worked out, she said. The group also will address issues such as how apartment dwellers can charge their cars and where the vehicles will be charged at work or on trips — and who pays for the electricity, Gross said.
"We want this to sell in just huge volumes, so we want to get it right," she said.
A team of GM engineers and designers is working on the Volt, hoping to be the leader in plug-in electric vehicles. Other automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., also are working on similar vehicles.
GM testing new batteries
GM already is showing Volt prototypes to focus groups and is testing a new generation of batteries. It is being designed so it can be recharged from a conventional household electrical outlet.
But the car will be priced anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 US, far more expensive than most conventional cars.
The group, Gross said, likely will seek government tax incentives for buyers because of the benefits the car brings to society, such as lowered greenhouse gas emissions and reduced dependence on foreign oil.
Utilities, she said, can benefit from the cars because they will sell more electricity during off-peak hours when they have idle generating capacity. But automakers and utilities will have to work out ways to decide how to stagger recharging so local substations do not become overloaded, Gross said.
The Volt likely will need about eight kilowatt-hours of energy to recharge, Gross said. The average U.S. utility charges about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, so it would cost the consumer about 80 cents to go the 40 miles, she said.
© The Canadian Press, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Natynczyk says Afghanistan situation is worsening

At least Natynczyk is willing to modify his line somewhat in light of obvious facts. However he neglects to notice that there have also been security problems lately in the west of Afghanistan far from the Pakistan border. Natyncyzyk is toeing the U.S. line however that more troops are what is most necessary even though many experts claim that this will not help. One thing is sure and that is that there will be more casualties then. The attempts to reduce troop casualties by air support is probably counterproductive in that it results in bombing of innocent civilians which in a tribal society creates whole family groups eager to wreak revenge on the occupiers. The argument for more troops is presented well enough by Natycyzyk but it is doubtful that there will ever be enough troops to pacify the whole country. Before that happens Karzai or whoever is in power will probably broker a deal with insurgents or at least many of them with or without allied blessings. Or maybe the U.S. can put some Taliban groups on the payroll in exchange for nominal support of the Karzai government!

Natynczyk says Afghanistan situation is worsening
Updated Sun. Jul. 20 2008 4:42 PM ET News Staff
Despite the significant gains Canadian troops have achieved in Afghanistan, Gen. Walter Natynczyk admitted Sunday the country's overall situation is worsening.
Canada's top soldier told CTV's Question Period that insurgent attacks have increased year over year, specifically in some parts of the country.
"You have a worsening security situation, especially localized in three areas -- the Kabul area, in the Regional Command East, where the Americans are, and in the south where we are with the British forces and the Dutch," he said.
The statement appeared to backtrack from what Natynczyk said earlier this month after he completed his first visit to Afghanistan as the Chief of Defence Staff.
On a five-day visit to the region, Natynczyk put a positive spin on security issues in the war-torn country, which has seen a resurgence of Taliban activity. Natynczyk, who became the country's top soldier on July 2, had said the increased violence is negligible.
"We're generally along the same lines as we have been the past few years,'' Natynczyk said at a news conference on July 13 at Kandahar Airfield. "Looking at the statistics, we're just a slight notch -- indeed an insignificant notch -- above where we were last year.''
On Sunday, Natynczyk agreed with statistics presented on Question Period that suggested year-to-year violence was up 34 per cent.
"The statistics you cite are absolutely true," he said.
"On the other hand, when I was in Kandahar, from a soldiers' perspective, what they see are localized, fragile signs of success."
He noted the Taliban "is throwing everything against" NATO troops and Afghan security forces in an effort to undermine the government ahead of next year's elections. Natynczyk reiterated the need for more NATO troops to help quell insurgent violence.
"In a counterinsurgency, it is troop intensive. It's not enough just to clear the Taliban out ... you need to have that security blanket to ensure that there is time for police and the army to have that capacity to address their own security," he said.
Natynczyk said that NATO troops have helped the country make significant improvements. He said Canadians have helped train police officers who are respected by the local population, and Afghan battalions have increasingly taken on roles to protect major regions of the country.

Why Aghanistan is not the Good War

This is from Counterpunch. Although this is written for an American audience it is relevant to Canadians given our mission. Certainly the Taliban is the main opposition but as this article notes there are other groups involved in the insurgency. The article neglects to mention Al Qaeda foreign fighters. The mainstream media sometimes seems to identify the Taliban with Al Qaeda. They certainly are not the same even though the Taliban did have Bin Laden as a guest when they ruled Afghanistan. The article is particularly relevant now since Obama has made a point of saying that he will send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
I think the article is definitely wrong in claiming that the Taliban would not have much power if there were no foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban came to power in the first place not because of the presence of foreign troops but because of the wretched rule of warlords. The populace was willing to accept the harsh Taliban rule in return for a degree of security and stability that the warlords failed to offer. The situation is more or less similar in Somalia but again the U.S. is unwilling to accept the rule of the Islamists. The result is a failed state and unending misery.

The Adventures of the Parasite Army
Why Afghanistan is Not the Good WarBy Ron Jacobs 19/07/08
"Counterpunch" -- - It's the perennial thorn in the colonialist's side. It's the war that won't go away. It's a wasp sting that swells, slowly choking the life out of the sting's recipient. It is the nearly seven-year old occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and various NATO allies. Nearly forgotten by most Americans, the situation in that country has taken headlines away from the occupation of Iraq because of the resurgence of the anti-occupation forces. Nine US troops were killed in one day, easily topping any recent US fatality figures coming out of Iraq in recent months. The growing ferocity of the resistance was brought home to me when a young man whom I have been close to since he was three years old was removed from the battle zone with wounds serious enough to send him stateside for surgery and recovery. (He's scheduled to get out of the Marines in October--hopefully he won't get stop-lossed and sent back over there).Like that wasp mentioned above, the Afghani resistance is not necessarily anything a Westerner can support wholeheartedly. Almost all of its elements, Taliban and otherwise, have a history of misogyny and antagonism toward values we consider essential to freedom. However, also like that wasp, their resistance to those attacking their lives and their homes is seen by them as essential to the survival of both. To carry the analogy a step further, the imperial forces arrayed against the Afghani resistance are like a predator insect that sets up a parasitic home on the host and then attempts to take over the host. There are those wasps that fight the invading parasite and there are those who merely exist within their nest. The US and NATO occupiers are the parasites hoping to install their host--represented in the person of Unocal president Karzai--on the people of Afghanistan. At this point the parasites have failed to achieve their goal. Because of this failure, the parasite army is planning to intensify their assault.This is where we leave the analogy and ask why Washington thinks it can achieve what the British and the Soviets could not? The Afghanistan region has always been the piece of the puzzle known as the Great Game that refuses to fit into the proscribed plans of any colonial power. It is as if this particular puzzle piece was cut from another die. No matter how much firepower is brought upon the Afghani people, they have been able to resist any type of lasting fit into any of the pictures hoped for by the colonial power of the day. They have done so by manipulation of the invader’s desires and by playing the various invaders off each other; and they have done so through sheer determination and the unforgiving nature of the land. Most recently, they used the US secret services to fend off the domination of their capital by the Soviets, and now they are using their own devices to fend off the domination of their country desired by Washington.Despite what the majority of the western media tells its readers and viewers, there is more to the Afghani resistance than the Taliban. In fact, according to a recent report in the US News and World Report, U.S. forces are facing an increasingly complex enemy here composed of Taliban fighters and powerful warlords who were once on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency. As a military official stated in the aforementioned article "You could almost describe the insurgency as having two branches. It's the Taliban in the south and a 'rainbow coalition' in the east." Add to this the various armed drug traders and their backers and you have a mix at least as volatile as that in Iraq during its worst periods over the last five years. Despite the apparent failure of the armed approach taken by Washington in Afghanistan, both presidential candidates and the majority of Congress support not merely continuing this approach but intensifying it. McCain and Obama are not only in agreement that the Pentagon needs to send more troops into Afghanistan, they are also in agreement that it is the war that the US must win. Operating under the pretext that killing more Afghanis is somehow going to end the desire of Washington's Islamist enemies to attack it has not only created the current stalemate in Afghanistan, it has also spread the anti-American resistance into the tribal areas of Pakistan and threatens to engulf the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The recent killings of civilians by US and NATO forces only adds to the resistance, especially when the US denies the killings ever happened.As hinted at above, the Taliban and other resistance forces are difficult for most Westerners (and many others, as well) to support. Their stance against women and their distaste for certain values we consider essential to the human experience creates a quandary for some of us who understand the imperial nature of the US/NATO presence but find the fundamentalist society created by the Taliban in the wake of their defeat of the Soviets an undesirable alternative. Without going into the role the CIA and Pentagon played in the rise of the Taliban, suffice it to say they continue to exist primarily because they resist the imperial aggressor, not because the Afghani majority necessarily agrees with their understanding of Islam. Apparently less sophisticated than other religiously oriented anti-imperialist movements like Hamas and perhaps the Sadrist movement in Iraq that also feature a political wing more inclusive of those who don't share either organization's religious viewpoints, the Taliban would probably have no more political power than the polygamist Mormon sects in the US west if it weren't for the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. Back to US politics and Afghanistan. This is not the "good" war. It is just as wrong as the US adventure in Iraq. Likewise, it can not be won, no matter what the politicians and the generals say. The government put in Kabul by Washington is comparable to a new branch head of a multinational corporation. Its power is dependent on the whim of corporate headquarters and will never garner the support of those not on its payroll. There are clearly human rights being abused in Afghanistan, but those abuses are committed as much by the occupying forces as they are by the forces opposed to the occupier. The solution to Afghanistan begins, just like in Iraq, with the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the US military.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blackwater and Sharia law!

This is from killfile. There is more than a little irony in a firm headed by a devout fundamentalist Christian Eric Prinz defending itself by reference to Sharia law. This is the same Blackwater that got into trouble because its agents shot civilians in Iraq. They also have an air division that includes Presidential Airlines that has been involved in rendition flights.
To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

Air strike kills Afghan police, civilians.

This story is also covered in the Globe and Mail.
Air strikes that kill civilians are quite common. Karzai has been complaining for ages but the policy does not change. It does not change because it is NATO casualties that are important not Afghan casualties. Significant casualties suffered by NATO could very well turn public opinion even more against the Afghan war than it already is especially in places other than the U.S. Even in the U.S. a large increase in casualties could cause PR problems for those selling the Afghan war. Both Obama and McCain are for increased U.S. troops so both want to make sure this is not accompanied by too many casualties. Neither Afghan nor Iraqi casualties are even counted.
Note that the first case in which Afghan police are attacked arises from forces not even informing the Afghan side what they are doing! One main force is called ISAF the International Security Assistance Force. So they assist by not letting the Afghans know what they are doing and as a result killing the forces they are assisting!

Air strike kills Afghan police, civilians
Last Updated: Sunday, July 20, 2008 10:23 AM ET CBC News
At least four police officers and five civilians have been killed in an air strike in western Afghanistan after a gunfight with coalition forces in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
The foreign troops did not inform police they were coming into the area and both sides mistook the other for Taliban insurgents, said Younus Rasuli, deputy governor of Farah province.
He said the two groups fought each other for four hours overnight in a western area of the province.
In another incident, three civilians were accidentally killed by coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan late Saturday.
In a statement, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it was investigating the incident in the Barmal district of Paktika province, in which its troops fired two mortar rounds that landed nearly a half kilometre short of their target.
The statement did not identify the nationality of the foreign troops, but both NATO and U.S. coalition officials said they were looking into the report.
The reported civilian and police deaths could hurt popular support for the Afghan government as well as foreign forces operating in Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai has pleaded with the U.S. and other nations fighting resurgent militants to avoid civilian casualties.

Experts: Less Crime could hurt "law and order" Tories at the polls.

Has anyone made a study to see if there is any correlation between level of crime and fear of crime? It strikes me as quite possible that the level of crime could actually decline to a degree while the level of fear might actually increase. The media often concentrates for some time on any sensational grisly crimes and this may cause people to fear crime though the rates may be declining. Large cities like Toronto or Vancouver regularly report sensational violent crimes but Regina with a higher crime rate hardly ever makes the national news. I would expect that most people associate Toronto and Vancouver with violent crime rather than Regina! See this article.
Harper claims that emotion (created by media and Conservative fear mongers) is a more reliable barometer than statistics. Translated this means that what is more important is the poll statistics that show that fear mongering about crime gets votes and not the statistics about crime rates. When the statistics about crime rates such as those about increasing violent youth crime support the Conservative plans they will be used as evidence. When they don't they will be rejected and those who cite them as supporting criminals. This is from Canadian Press.

Less crime could hurt 'law-and-order' Tories at the polls, experts say
2 days ago
OTTAWA — Canada's national crime rate fell in 2007 for the third straight year, with declines in everything from homicides and gun crimes to minor property offences, says a new report.
And some say numbers released Thursday by Statistics Canada could strip some political ammunition away from the Conservative government, which has styled itself as the party that's toughest on crime.
"If crime rates continue to come down, then eventually the level of fear will not rise, but it might actually taper off or stabilize, in which case the usefulness of it as a ballot question for the Conservatives will weaken over time," said Bruce Anderson, president of polling firm Harris-Decima.
Statistics Canada says the seven per cent drop in the national crime rate was led by falling counterfeiting offences and theft under $5,000, including fewer break-ins and stolen cars.
Robbery committed with a firearm declined 12 per cent from the previous year, hitting its lowest point in three decades.
The numbers fly in the face of popular media and political messaging, which portrays crime across Canada as rising in both volume and ferocity.
Statistics Canada reports there were fewer serious violent offences such as homicides, attempted murders, sexual assaults and robberies last year. Police reported 594 murders, down slightly from 606 in 2006, following a long-term downward trend that began in the mid-1970s.
Serious assaults, including those with a weapon, basically stayed unchanged in 2007 after rising in each of the previous seven years.
The overall crime rate among youth aged 12 to 17 tapered off slightly in 2007 after rising the year before, as non-violent offences fell and violent crime remained stable.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has dismissed empirical evidence that crime rates are actually falling, suggesting that emotion is a more telling barometer. Harper has cast those who point to statistics to oppose elements of the Tory law-and-order agenda as apologists for criminals.
"(They) try to pacify Canadians with statistics," he told party supporters in January.
"Your personal experiences are impressions are wrong, they say; crime is really not a problem. These apologists remind me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wizard says, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."'
That assertion was echoed Thursday by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
"We are not governing by statistics. We are governing by what we promised Canadians in the last election and what Canadians have told us," he said in an interview.
A keystone of the Tories' fall agenda is expected to be tackling violent youth crime, one trouble spot in the Canadian record. It has been increasing steadily over the last two decades, said Statistics Canada, and the rate in 2007 was "more than double that reported in the mid-1980s."
Last week, Harper reiterated his party's pledge to deal with the "escalating problem of violent youth crime" when Parliament resumes in the fall.
"We must send a message - and we will - that we hold young lawbreakers responsible for their behaviour. That is what we intend to do this coming session," he told party faithful at the Calgary Stampede.
The Statistics Canada figures may not tell the whole story. Irvin Waller, director of the Institute for Prevention of Crime at the University of Ottawa, says fewer people are reporting crimes to police because they are disillusioned with the justice system.
Waller says that makes crime data based on police reports less reliable than Statistics Canada's periodic victimization surveys, which he claims give a more complete view of crime in Canada.
Crime rates were down in all provinces and territories, except Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Overall crime rates remained highest in the western provinces.
Saskatchewan's crime rate fell 3.5 per cent but still was the highest in the country, including the highest rate of violent crime. Manitoba's 62 homicides last year were up 23 from 2006, giving it the highest provincial homicide rate and Manitoba's highest murder rate since recording began in 1961.
"For the fourth year in a row, the lowest provincial (crime) rate occurred in Ontario and Quebec," said the agency.
Statistics Canada did not speculate on the causes of Canada's overall decline in crime rates but criminologists and demographers believe an aging population is a significant factor.
"The people who are the most afraid of crime fall into two categories: women, generally, and older people, both men and women," Waller said.
"So, as the population ages, it feels more vulnerable