Saturday, 02 August 2008 20:00 Maureen Heidtmann Editorial Dept - Americas

I was a tree-and-bunny hugger until God appeared in my room. Unlike the muscular, grey bearded Creator depicted on the ceiling of that famous chapel in Rome, God looks like Ronald Reagan. However, like that painting, He did reach out to me with His finger. Then he pointed it at me and said, “Build an Ark, for a Great Flood cometh,” He intoned. He sounds like Charlton Heston – who sounds like Moses.

“But, Lord, didn’t thou already do that one a long time ago? And wasn’t there a recent hokey movie about building a modern day Ark?”

“I have the whole world in my hands,” God replied, “except for Hollywood.”

Then God told me about Flood Again, His next Great Plan: As greenhouse gases build the planet becomes warmer and warmer, the ice caps melt and, well, you know the rest.

“But Lord,” I said, “I’m a working woman. I don’t have time to build an Ark.”

“Quit thy job, start a church, and get thy followers to support ye and pay for the project.”


Tuesday, 10 June 2008 11:19 Jennifer Daskal and Stacy Sullivan Editorial Dept - Americas

A new report reveals that a number of prisoners – even some long ago cleared to leave – are spiraling into hallucinations, despair and suicide.

"I feel like I'm being buried alive," said Ahmed Belbacha, a 39-year-old Algerian who has been in Guantánamo since March 2002. He has been cleared to leave the prison camp for over a year, but he can't.

Algeria isn't accepting detainees back home, but even it were, Belbacha is so fearful of being tortured there that he has asked the U.S. federal courts to block his return. But there is no other country willing to take him, and he remains stuck in Guantánamo – locked in his windowless cell 22 hours a day, with little more than a Koran and single other book to occupy his time.

In December, Belbacha reportedly tried to commit suicide and was moved to the mental health facility. He was stripped naked, dressed in a green plastic rip-proof suicide smock, and placed in an individual cell under constant monitoring – Guantánamo's suicide watch. He says he was given absolutely nothing else in his cell – no toothbrush, no soap, no books, nothing he could somehow use to injure himself.

Thursday, 22 May 2008 20:00 Khaled Mouammar Editorial Dept - Americas

The Canadian Arab Federation finds it very disturbing that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has resorted to the distasteful tactic, often used by right-wing elements in Israel, of alleging that criticism of Israel amounts to an attack against all Jews ("Criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, Harper says," Canwest News Service, May 9, 2008).

“As an organization that stands opposed to racism in all forms, CAF considers it anti-Semitic to paint all Jews with the same brush. To suggest that all Jews support Israel is to deny them the diversity of opinion that characterizes any free thinking community. Moreover, it is anti-Jewish to hold all Jews responsible for Israel's human rights abuses”, said Khaled Mouammar, CAF National President.

Harper’s flippant remarks reflect the simplistic and one-sided foreign policy direction of his government and its unconditional support for Israel. Harper remained silent while the lives of 50 thousand Canadians were threatened by the Israeli invasion and bombardment of Lebanon in July 2006. He also refused to criticize the tragic Israeli attack on UN Peace Keepers which killed a Canadian officer even though, according to UN and other investigations, the attack was a deliberate effort by Israel to cover up its own egregious war crimes.

Thursday, 01 May 2008 19:00 Maureen Heidtmann Editorial Dept - Americas

My grandfather was a soldier in the Italian army in WWI. My father served under General George Patton in WWII. My uncle was in the navy at the same time. A close friend was a Green Beret paratrooper in Korea. During the conflict in Vietnam, my fiancé, Kevin, was a forward observer and when in the field, Kevin’s life expectancy was fifteen minutes. My brother, Edward, was an officer in a medical unit.

Ed was stationed in a hospital in Germany, but he didn’t get off easy. He was assigned to a burn unit where he witnessed the horrible disfigurement and suffering of young men every day. Both Kevin and Ed accepted their fate when they were drafted, went without complaint, and served admirably even though they were anti-war. I, too, was against the war then, and now, and I also supported the troops then as I do now. But my definition of “support” is different from that of many of my fellow citizens. To support means to help, not destroy. To support the troops cannot mean that they be fed endlessly to an unjust, unprovoked, and un-winnable war; it should mean that they be provided with medical and financial assistance, if and when they return home.

Along with the wounds from artillery and shrapnel, many of the soldiers in the two World Wars were injured by mustard gas and other chemical weapons. Others suffered from “shell shock”, and were ridiculed by their superiors instead of helped. Many of the soldiers in Korea and Vietnam experienced the same harsh reality as their predecessors.

When the troops returned from Vietnam, the reception they received from some Americans was despicable, and so was the way they were treated by the government and military they served under. Hundreds of them presented with mysterious symptoms, ranging from chronic skin problems to severe headaches to trouble breathing to unusual forms of cancer.


Tuesday, 01 April 2008 19:00 Ben Shapiro Editorial Dept - Americas

According to Hillary Clinton, she has a lot in common with Rocky, the movie boxer played by Sylvester Stallone. Quitting now, she told a crowd in Philadelphia, would be tantamount to "Rocky Balboa (getting) halfway up those art museum steps and (saying), 'Well, I guess that's about far enough.'"

"Let me tell you something," Hillary continued. "When it comes to finishing a fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit. I never give up. And neither do the American people."

Hillary Clinton is going through the Stallone pantheon lately. First she was Rambo in Bosnia, now she's Rocky in Philadelphia. She's like Rocky, begging the Mick to cut him. Next, presumably, she'll be Judge Dredd, bringing her wrath down upon the Democratic Party if it fails to nominate her president.

Hillary's shot at the nomination is toast, no matter how many raw eggs she chugs. The simple math opposes her. Barack Obama has too many delegates, too many votes. He's gaining in Pennsylvania, her last electoral fortress. He's locking up the endorsements of party leaders. He's got her on the ropes, and even if she won't stay down for the count, she'll lose by split decision.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008 19:00 Aisling Reidy Editorial Dept - Americas

(Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, March 12, 2008) - We sat for almost four hours under the tents erected outside the Military Commissions building at Guantanamo Bay, waiting to hear whether the arraignment of Mohammad Jawad, a young Afghan man, would take place.

Jawad was 16 or 17 when he was picked up in Afghanistan in December 2002 for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at a US military vehicle in which two soldiers and an interpreter were injured.

He faces no charges of terrorism, material support, or any connection to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. He was just a young man in Afghanistan when the US invaded his country. We had heard various rumors that the hearing might not happen, that there was an issue with his lawyers, and that the "detainee was not cooperating," but the military authorities weren't prepared to confirm anything.

Our long wait outside was not unusual. Nor was the fact that we needed a military escort to leave the shade of the tent to walk to the "port-a-potties" 100 feet away (the rationale for which is still a complete mystery to all involved). What was unusual was that when we finally entered the courtroom, having passed three sets of security checks, Jawad was already in the room.


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