Archive for the Category » What Really Grinds My Gears «

Suaad Hagi Mohamud botched interviews

The Canadian woman who was stranded in Kenya for several months (previously talked about here and here) had problems identifying a local landmark, the full name of our local transit system, and the full name of her place of employment, despite living in this city for ten years.  Not to mention the birth date of her only son and the date of her first marriage.

That is rather profoundly incurious or scatterbrained.  My mother would die of embarassment if she found she couldn’t give my birth date and time, the name of the hospital, and other anecdotal details.  That level of stupidity or forgetfulness would be enormous, but in my experience wouldn’t necessarily exceed the average one can encounter in native-born Torontonians.

The point of interest—to me—is that no one in officialdom is claiming that the person in her photo ID documents (drive’s license, health card, passport) isn’t the person that showed up at the airport to board the plane.  That was the basis of her detainment by Kenyan security officials, after all.

So what we learn from these new details is that Suaad Hagi Mohamud is an ignoramus who can’t handle high-pressure situations.  And that once the High Commission started interviewing her, they didn’t focus on any sort of biometric discrepancies but rather her knowledge of local geography and day-to-day activities.

All of this suggests one thing to potential travellers:  If you can’t identify your only offspring’s date and circumstances of birth, the full name of the place you work, and the full name of your local transit system, leaving the country and going to places where members of your former nationality are routinely shaken down by airport workers seems to be a stupendously bad idea.

UPDATE: The Vancouver Sun has more details:

Paul Jamieson, the Canadian immigration officer who conducted the interviews, said despite having lived in Toronto for 10 years, Mohamud was unable to name any of the transit stops she would have used frequently, described the Toronto Transit Commission as the TTS and said it stood for Toronto Transportation.

She was unable to describe in any detail how she obtained her Ontario driver’s licence, could not name Lake Ontario or the current or previous prime ministers of Canada, the court documents allege.

Mohamud also provided the wrong birth date for her son and lacked details on the circumstances or place of his birth, Jamieson said. She also did not recognize a person listed as a reference on her passport application and had a different signature compared to her passport and immigration application.

She could not explain what she did for her employer, ATS, nor did she know the acronym stood for Andlauer Transportation Services, according to the affidavit.

The court documents also note a six- or seven-centimetre difference in height between the woman interviewed in Nairobi and the height indicated on the Ontario driver’s licence of Mohamud.

Toward the end of the second interview, the consular official said he “had begun to suspect” the woman he was speaking with was a slightly younger sister of Mohamud.

Jamieson said he reviewed the photo taken of Mohamud when she entered Kenya and was of the opinion her face was “considerably fuller” than the woman he interviewed.

While some previous media reports have suggested that questions about her passport photo was the main reason she was detained, the consular official said he could not reach a “conclusive assessment” on the photo alone.

“I was certainly not satisfied that the two women were the same, but I was also not satisfied that the differences could not be explained by factors such as aging or weight loss. In making my final assessment of identity, I therefore chose to afford the greatest weight to the results of the two interviews I had conducted with the person concerned,” Jamieson’s affidavit states. “In light of the subject’s numerous contradictions and admissions of ignorance, and her hesitant and evasive demeanour throughout the interview, I was satisfied the person in front of me was not the rightful holder of the passport.”

— Huber, Jordana.  “Stranded Canadian couldn’t name date, place of son’s birth, PM.” Canwest News Service, 29 September 2009.  [Emphasis mine]

Being generous and assuming that no sister switcheroo was being attempted, how do you not know how you got your driver’s licence?  Really?  And not knowing the details of your own job?  Having an interview with a skeptical consular official is no picnic, I am sure, but knowing that your right of return will be weighed against the answers you give, I think any reasonable person would try to give the most complete information that they could.

Travelling while being an idiot is not a crime, but based on what is known so far, it is hard to see how this incident could have had any different resolution than it did.

Do SciFi nerds dream of believable interaction?

seanyoung_bladerunnerDue to the sheer volume of amusing John Scalzi quotes put up by Nicholas Russon of Quotulatiousness, I have wondered whether there might be life in the genre after all, and warily tuned in to AMC TV’s SciFi Scanner blog.  This is probably a bad idea because, as a recovering scifi nerd, I have a puritanical zeal not unlike a recent ex-smoker exhorting his still-toking buddies to get with the program and ditch the nicotine.

When I was a young lad (of say 6 years old) I had just about every Star Wars action figure (and associated vehicle/playset) ever devised and marketed, Star Wars bed sheets, a pint-sized original series Star Trek uniform, and a host of other goodies.  When I was in elementary school I used to draw a cartoon series featuring characters from Clarke and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The film was awe-inspiring, what can I say.  As I grew older, that younger fascination with space opera and science fiction moved into the print realm, and I devoured everything I could—Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Robert Sawyer, even pulpy and ridiculous 1950s throwaway dime-store novels.  And who didn’t love Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and the Philip K. Dick story it was based on?

But eventually as I entered my 20s, the appeal of science fiction faded well into the background.  Obviously Mr. Lucas certainly didn’t do it any favours with his odious Star Wars prequels, but that wasn’t the whole story. Whether I moved away from it, or it moved away from me, scifi stopped resembling anything like a future I could halfway believe, let alone like and want to spend a lot of time exploring.

My sci-fi interest had a brief resurgence in my 30s when the rebooted Battlestar Galactica miniseries was aired, but that died out quickly as it became apparent that BSG-reboot would not be a battle-filled epic about a remnant of humanity fighting a last-ditch war for survival, but instead a tired old angst-filled entrail-reading wherein a remnant of humanity grapples with what it means to be human when both humans and machines share sentience and similar biology, but dissimilar belief systems.  Man, I’ve never heard that one before.  BSG really put the nail in the sci-fi coffin for me because the mini-series started off with characters who seemed to have a solid grounding in military thinking and discipline, but then they reverted to hand-waving caricatures with more talking than flying as soon as it transitioned to a regular TV show.  Based on the mini-series I was hoping for a space-oriented Band of Brothers, with a lot of attention paid to the minutiae of a wartime future fighter squadron; what I got instead was Alias with a heavy salting of Imitation Space-Flavoured Pixie Dust.

And I’ll be blunt.  I have enough drama in everyday life to not require any supplementation via broadcast media.  I could fill this blog with stories of iconic ancestors, scheming heirs, dastardly deeds, betrayal, buried secrets, trailblazing technologies, family fortunes, criminal enterprise, legal battles, last-ditch/last-minute deus ex machinae, love triangles, introspection, changed belief systems and character development, but I consider it bad form to air the details of Thanksgiving dinner to the general public.  So in my down-time, whether it be reading or partaking of audio-visual media, I don’t want to see fake people having fake drama.  I can phone a half-dozen relatives and hear real drama any day of the week.  What I want to see is professionals doing their jobs in a believable way, reacting to extraordinary situations in the way professionals do.  I don’t care that they have personal drama; I’ve had personal drama and had to work through it, going to the office every day, no temper tantrums, no punching anyone, no Oscar-worthy meltdowns, no lengthy arm-waving debates about whether the cyborgs that have deviated from their programming and improperly installed network appliances deserve the same rights and responsibilities as the rest of us flesh-and-blood humans.  (Short answer: they do, if they can learn to install the appliance properly, every time, with minimum supervision.)

Real people take these things in stride and get stuff done; arm-waving and meltdowns send a strong message to your team that you are not the man to work with in a crisis.  Too many unprovoked Shatneresque speeches about the human condition get you escorted to the door, sans building pass.  Suffice to say it bugs me when supposedly exceptional leading characters don’t have the basic constitution, fortitude and emotional intelligence of the average guy working in the office next door.  And if there is one thing that scifi tends to lack, it is not necessarily a specialist’s appreciation of physics, chemistry, biology, or any physical or applied science.  It is an ordinary human’s appreciation of how ordinary humans interact.  I suspect this is because scifi nerds do not place a premium on believable emotional interaction.  If they did, George Lucas’ and Hayden Christensen’s homes would have been burned to the ground after Attack of the Clones.  And Oliver Crawford and Gene Coon should never have worked in Hollywood again after penning the Star Trek episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield“.  You say it’s stupid to have murderous emotions based on obvious and superficial pigmentation differences?  You don’t say.  We never would have realised that without Star Trek.  It’s a miracle the different human phenotypes didn’t slaughter each other and completely denude Earth of human civilisation before the January 10, 1969 air date.  Didn’t Marco Polo burn and pillage all of China and Mongolia for not looking sufficiently European back in 1266?  That’s why Italian remains the lingua franca of Asia today, right?

Another thing that bugs me is when scifi authors construct a cosmology around “Wouldn’t life be better if we didn’t have to deal with Human Emotion/Condition A?”  Maybe it would, but here’s a news flash:  things like anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, jealousy, guilt and a whole panopoly of human irrationality are not going away any time soon.  They have been encoded in our psyche by millions of years of physiological and social conditioning; before we even emerged as the species Homo sapiens.  Hell, higher order animals have these emotions; they aren’t unique to us, and they obviously serve a physiological and social purpose in mammalian evolution.  If we ever lose them it’s going to be a million years down the road and things aren’t just going to be a little bit different.  They will be drastically different: we won’t even recognise future humans, in the way that a Neanderthal would have trouble recognising us for what we are.

Retire the lame old scifi tropes, the Pinocchio syndrome, the Butterfly Effect, the Theme Planet, the thinly disguised Allegory to a Current News Item.  But most of all, instead of focusing on the technical criticisms of why Macguffin X wouldn’t really work (or should be classified as Science Fantasy instead of Science Fiction), try focusing on Characters That Act Like Real Humans Would.  Then we can get back to the nerd theological discussions of why Macguffin Y is better than Macguffin Z.

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The value of Canadian citizenship

The tale of Suaad Hagi Mohamud is an astonishing one.  The 31-year-old Canadian, originally from Somalia, was arrested at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya as she attempted to board a flight home on May 21st.  Security officials at the airport, however, insisted that her lips did not match those of her 3-year-old passport photo.  Suprisingly the Canadian High Commission to Kenya agreed, declaring her an impostor.  The government voided her passport, and then sent it to Kenyan law enforcement officials so that they could prosecute her for her crime.

But as the results of last week’s DNA tests now indicate, she is who she claims to be.  And we must now ask ourselves how is it that an ordinary Canadian citizen can be defrauded of her citizenship on the word of a foreign official; disavowed by her government, who ought to have come to her aid; and left to rot in a foreign city.  There is nothing exceptional about Suaad Hagi Mohamud’s case that would preclude it from happening to you or I or any other Canadian citizen.  All it takes is a picky airport screener and an unmotivated Canadian consulate.

Kateland at The Last Exile has an excellent post on the subject, and summarises what ought to be the next steps admirably:

It is long past the time to bring her home and commence a through house cleaning of the Canadian High Commission in Kenya as well as at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An investigation must be immediately launched to determine whether Canadian consulate staff actively collaborated with the Kenyan authorities to shakedown and defraud a Canadian citizen of her citizenship.

Regardless of the outcome the investigation, the Canadian Kenyan ambassador should be immediately recalled and summarily fired for failing to adequately supervise the staff as well as carrying out what should be the first duty of any representative of the Canadian government – protecting the welfare of her citizens – all her citizens. Blame multiculturalism all you want, but from where I sit, the biggest devaluation of Canadian citizenship lies in the failure of the Canadian government to value and honour Canadian citizenship.

Exactly right.

UPDATE: Looks like Mohamud was caught in a shakedown racket.  This is why the High Commission needs to be aired out.

In a telephone interview from Nairobi yesterday, Mohamud gave further details of the event that started her ordeal when she tried to board a KLM flight home on May 21 after a three-week visit to Kenya.

A Kenyan KLM employee stopped her. “He told me he could make me miss my flight,” she said of the KLM worker, who suggested Mohamud didn’t look like her passport photo.

He seemed to be soliciting a bribe, she said, an experience Somali-born Torontonians say is commonplace for them at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

When she didn’t pay, a Kenyan immigration official arrested her. Canadian consular officials went along, returning Mohamud to the Kenyans, who threw her in jail on charges of entering Kenya illegally on a passport not her own.

— Marlow, Iain, Allan Woods and John Goddard.  “Harper says ‘first priority’ to get Mohamud home.Toronto Star, 13 August 2009.

Lazy or just Stupid, Part VII

OTTAWA — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is advising of a voluntary recall of two bacon products over concerns about Listeria contamination.

The recall affects Pillers “Taste Better than Bacon” Maple Flavoured Smoked Ham and Lean’n’ Tasty Smoked Ham Maple Flavour Bacon Style Slices in 375-gram packages.

The affected Pillers packages have best before dates of May 19 and May 26, while the Lean’n’ Tasty packages bear a May 26 best before date.

The products may have been distributed nationally by Piller Sausages and Delicatessens Ltd. of Waterloo, Ont.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with consumption of the products.

The agency says food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause listeriosis, leading to high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.

— “Bacon products face voluntary recall over Listeria concerns: CFIA“, Canadian Press, April 30th, 2009.

Bacon products?!  These are not bacon products, Canadian Press.  They are smoked ham products with “bacon style” flavoring.


Way to undermine the public’s confidence in delicious real bacon.

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Lazy or Just Stupid, Part VI

You have no doubt heard about the goofball that hopped a fence at Thunder Bay’s airport and made off with a Cessna 172.  He has been identified in various news reports as Yavuz Burke (formerly Adam Dylan Leon), 31, a naturalised Canadian citizen who was born in Turkey.

Interestingly most Canadian media outlets have scrubbed the Yavuz Burke ID and now refer to him as Adam Leon.  Canwest News Service carried the full identification (both names, Yavuz and Adam) but has since redacted it in favour of Adam Leon.

Here is a small comparison of major media outlets:

Identified as Yavuz Burke, formerly Adam Leon:

Identified solely as Adam Leon:

Identified as Adam Leon, formerly Yavuz Berke

So… which is it?

If the media can’t get the basics right—like the guy’s friggin’ name—how are we supposed to trust the accuracy of more complex stories and facts?

UPDATE:  Apparently the dingus was suffering from depression and wanted to get shot down.  To commit suicide by M61A1, as it were.  Well, next time, try stealing something a little heftier than a Cessna.  Something that an F-16 might be legitimately concerned about.  Something with swept wings and weapon hardpoints, for example.

Or get on the guard frequency (VHF 121.5 MHz) and start hollering “Allahu akhbar yiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi”.  That might get their attention.  Then state loudly and clearly that you plan to mash your bug-smasher into an Important Public Building, and there’s Nothing Anyone Can Do To Stop You—Muahahahahahaha.

It’s counter-intuitive, I know, but believe me when I say that most fighter jocks are not itching to be the first guy to paint a Cessna silhouette below his canopy.  The people who have a burning desire to do that are homeowners living within 5 miles of an airport.  Just show up to an airport development meeting and you’ll see.

Of course if he really wanted to check out early, the obvious thing to do would have been what is known in the biz as CFIT—controlled flight into terrain.  The ground is always going to be there, whereas the odds of encountering a twitchy F-16 pilot with a score to settle are much, much lower.

How to improve weddings

Spring is upon us, and with it, another bloom of marriage invitations (and all attendant tribulations).

I like marriage, but I hate weddings.

It is a truly lovely thing when two people’s values, goals, activities and affections align, and they are launched on a great joint enterprise.  It is also quite rare to find any sign of these critical alignments within the structure of contemporary wedding practice.

With that in mind, I propose the following improvements.  They are emphatically not a reproach to those whose weddings I have attended (or will attend), merely improvements I hope to make for my own.  Whatever you did at your own wedding, I hope you enjoyed.

1.  Ditch the princess-for-a-day mentality.  A good marriage is a team effort, and the wedding day is the commissioning of that team.  A team with unity of purpose and unity of command; holding the same values, striving toward the same objective, within a framework of enduring love and respect.  Putting the focus and glory on only one half of team on the launch date is not a good way to start.

2.  This ain’t a movie, Mr. deMille.  All that choreography plus matching outfits are fine if you’re titled royalty and the wedding is also your coronation.  Otherwise let your bridesmaids and groomsmen dress themselves.  They are adults with two brain cells to rub together, aren’t they?  Their job is to show up and be happy for you, not play mock liveried footman.

3.  Keep it short.  I don’t understand why there are all-day weddings.  A wedding is a public declaration of 1) a spiritual commitment to your God; 2) an intellectual, emotional and physical commitment to your spouse; and 3) a contractual commitment to the state.  Including a small celebratory meal with your guests, that should take an hour—two at most—to firm up.  Anything longer than that and you’re doing it wrong.

The only people that should be celebrating all day are the bride and groom.  (And possibly the parents of the nuptial couple, if it means one of the offspring moves out and their room finally becomes the cigar lounge.)  Everyone else has plenty of other things they need to get done; they don’t need to be tied up all day.

4.  No crying.  This is a solemn moment before God, your friends, and the state; not a very special episode of Oprah filmed just to capture your blubbering.  Keep it together, man.  Think of your dignity.  The only person with a reason to cry is the person who gets the cake with the smallest amount of icing.  If you’re not that person, stay frosty.

5.  Keep your filthy lucre.  If you’re giving money, it should go in a sealed envelope and not a soul should lay eyes on the actual bills until the thing is opened by the couple.  Some cultures have these odd barbarian traditions where they fling money around openly at the reception, jamming it in the bride’s dress or up the groom’s nose, or they roll coins along the floor to get closest to a prize.  My inner Presbyterian says oh hell no to all that.  Marriage is about the joint team, joint purpose, joint hearts, etc etc, not a ponzi scheme to buy new appliances.

Also, parents of the nuptial couple shouldn’t be coughing up coin for anything, nor should they be meddling in the plans of the couple.  If the parents feel that strongly about any aspect of the wedding they should go and re-stage their own, not screw up their kid’s day.

6. Dump the kabuki act of predictable parties, events and activities.  I am no Puritan, but there is something revolting about bridal showers and their little games.  If you are going to the trouble of gathering friends and family together, do something that your friends and family will genuinely enjoy.  Hint: counting beans or peas in a jar isn’t it.  Pheasant hunting is more like it.  Or polo.  No peas in jars.

Also, Jack and Jill showers are an abomination against nature.  Unless you are hunting pheasant, playing polo, or doing something non-boring.  If counting lentils is involved then it is the Devil’s work.

Likewise all the unnecessary fluff and padding in a typical reception agenda.  I think it’s great to be able to celebrate a meal with family and friends.  Wouldn’t miss it.  Celebrating several hours of meal, plus speeches, plus cutesy activities, plus conga line, plus first dance, plus dance with bride and dad, groom and mom, yadda yadda, that’s not fun.  That’s boring as hell.  My attention span will last from ceremony to pictures to dinner to dessert to zzzzzzzz and—provided this all occurs within a two-hour span—not one nanosecond more.

I am also unsure of where the jollity lies in chucking a bouquet or garter, except that it ostensibly lines up another victim.  Maybe if you laid down some suppressing fire with a paintball marker while they were trying to catch the bouquet/garter it would be entertaining for the other guests.  Otherwise I don’t see the point.  Marriage isn’t a disease you can catch by getting bouquet cooties.

The number of interminable speeches from friends/relatives/uncle’s gardener’s eleventh cousin’s roommate’s pet cat should be curtailed.  I don’t want to know how you saw the 2-year-old future bride give a mushy Oreo to the neighbour’s dog and how that demonstrates her sweetness and light and fitness to be a bride twenty-three years after the fact.  Give me the three-bullet, twenty-second PowerPoint version, not the two hour recitation that takes longer to recount than it did to occur in real time.  If you need to be giving these little childhood anecdote pep talks, the time for them is well in advance of the ceremony.  By the time of the reception the deal’s already done, you’re preaching to the choir.  A bored choir.

One tradition I would like to see enhanced is some kind of intra-table rivalry.  Usually this is when tables compete to ding their glasses and make the couple kiss.  I think an element of personal combat needs to be involved, like each table should have to fight a boarding action with cannon and cutlasses on neighbouring tables.  That way you could give each table the name of a warship instead of something boring like a number.

7.  Keep thy cheesy music to thyself.  There is no good reason for anyone to ever request “Love Me Tender” at a wedding reception unless Elvis personally gave them a scarf while singing that song.  The Chicken Dance should only be played after a minimum of three 16oz alcoholic drinks have been consumed by all guests. Also keep in mind that your music collection is a lot like your DVD or Blu-Ray collection.  It sucks, because no one else will have exactly the same taste as you, ergo a sizeable chunk of your guests will hate it.  That’s okay, though.  You will end up hating their reception music selection.  That is the natural order of the universe.

Well, there you have it.

If you can follow these simple steps, you will be as a shining city upon a hill; a beacon of sanity to couples present and future.

Lazy or just stupid, Part V

This morning CNN reported the loss of a C-17 Globemaster III in northern Texas.  According to their (now-retracted) report, eyewitnesses called 911 after seeing a large commercial aircraft go down in a field near Olney, Texas.  The local police and fire department were dispatched, and they contacted the FAA to see if any aircraft had filed flight plans passing through the area.  According to CNN, the FAA indicated that only a C-17 from Altus AFB, OK had filed for the area.  Also according to CNN, Sheppard AFB had been contacted and confirmed the loss of the aircraft.

Thus by the CNN account, we have a C-17 lost in Texas.  Except it wasn’t.

The aircraft returned to Altus AFB, Oklahoma after completing its training run along a low-level MTR (military training route).  There are a few different varieities of MTR; they have varying prefixes but always end with a three or four-digit numeric sequence:

  • Those flown under visual flight rules, at airspeeds that may exceed 250kts (these start with the prefix VR-, i.e. VR-331).
  • Those flown under instrument flight rules, at airspeed that may exceed 250kts (prefix IR-, i.e. IR-324)
  • Those flown under VFR or IFR rules, but at airspeeds slower than 250kts (prefix SR-, i.e. SR-488).

Not only did a C-17 not crash near Olney, Texas, but Sheppard AFB denies giving CNN the initial confirmation.  In other words CNN took half-assed eyewitness accounts and from there turned it into a major event that didn’t actually happen.  Nice.

I am going to reprint this article in full from Cherry Young of the Graham Leader.  It aptly summarises the events and illustrates the root of the problem.

“I guess they jumped the gun,” said Tony Fulton, Texas Department of Public Safety public information officer for the Wichita Falls area in reference to CNN’s reports of a plane crash north of Olney Monday.  Officials received a 9-1-1 call Monday shortly after 11 a.m. saying a commercial airliner had crashed north of Olney just inside Archer County.  Emergency personnel and news crews swarmed the area of Cottonwood Road off of Highway 79 searching for the downed craft and were unable to gain confirmation from the FAA.

The area was searched for well over an hour including an aerial search but came up short.  CNN orignially reported that a C-17 had crashed and that the information was confirmed by a spokesman at Sheppard Air Force Base.  After the search was called off, CNN later retracted the claim.  Debbie Smith, public affairs for Sheppard Air Force Base said there was no report from the base. “We fielded a ton of calls and had no idea what they were talking about … CNN just jumped on the story. It had nothing to do with Sheppard, so there is no story,” said Smith.

“It was not real, it was just news sources jumping the gun. I guess there’s a lot of competition in the news media to be the first to break a story, but they need to check their facts,” she said.  The original reports may have resulted from low-flying aircraft from Altus Air Force Base that were training in the area. But Chief of Public Affairs for Altus AFB Rich Guinan said nothing out of the ordinary occurred.  “We heard it on CNN and we made sure our aircraft were okay and everything was fine. For us it was just a normal day of training for Altus,” said Guinan.  As far as we know nothing happened. Everything was normal today. All our planes are accounted for and none were involved in anything unusual,” he said.

— Cherry Young.  “Reports of plane crash near Olney false“, Graham Leader, March 23rd, 2009.

[emphasis mine]

The Scorpion and the Frog


Useful idiot Khadija Abdul Qahaar (alias Bev Kennedy, alias Paul Morris-Read, née Beverly Giesbrecht) runs a website, Jihad Unspun, dedicated to promoting the exploits of jihadis, and exposing the alleged dastardly doings of our men and women in Afghanistan.

Last September, a Vancouver woman named Beverly Giesbrecht published her personal reflections on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Giesbrecht, 52, used the opportunity to celebrate militant Islam. She talked about the “good news” that the Taliban in Afghanistan were killing NATO soldiers and she praised the “Iraqi Resistance” for killing Americans. The real enemy, she said, was “Zionist-controlled America,” and she called upon the Muslim Ummah — the worldwide Islamic community — to form a united front.

Canadian security officials undoubtedly read Giesbrecht’s manifesto, because they would have been monitoring her Internet site, one of the few openly pro-Islamist sites operating out of Canada. Giesbrecht has exactly the biography that would draw the attention of intelligence authorities.

— Leonard Stern.  “Radical conversions“, Ottawa Citizen, March 2nd, 2009.

Last year she put on the proverbial rose-coloured glasses and wandered off to Pakistan as a documentarist, supposedly on behalf of Al-Jazeera.  She soon found out the true nature of her scorpion.

A Canadian woman being held hostage in northern Pakistan says her captors are planning to behead her at the end of the month if a $2-million ransom is not paid.

In a video provided to the Globe and Mail and posted on the newspaper’s website, a pale and haggard-looking Khadija Abdul Qahaar, 52, begins to cry as she says her “time is very short and my life is going to end.

“I’m going to be killed, as you can see,” Qahaar says on the video, pointing at a long knife hanging behind her.

“I’m going to be beheaded just like the Polish engineer, probably by the end of the month. The deadline is by the end of March.”

Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak was beheaded by a Pakistani Taliban group on Feb. 7, 2009.

In a shaky voice, Qahaar said she’s being held by the Taliban “someplace near the Afghan border in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. I’m not quite sure where I am.”

“A previous video has been made and distributed to my embassy, the Pakistan government, to various different NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and groups in order to try to get the demands that they’re making met.

“Unfortunately nothing has happened.”

— “Kidnapped Canadian says she’ll be beheaded by month’s end“, CanWest News Service, March 20th, 2009.

Nothing has happened because the Canadian government does not pay ransoms; an eminently sensible position.

Nor does it maintain a childlike faith in the willingness of unpredictable thugs living a superstitious, violent and pre-modern way of life to accept a naïve Westerner as a peer.  That sort of wishes-were-horses make-believe lives only in the minds of people like Ms. Giesbrecht, Jack Layton and Olivia Chow.  Although the fact that the Laytons are not presently being held for ransom in Pakistan gives a vital clue that perhaps they don’t really believe it, either.

It is tempting to write it all off as karmic payback, and to flippantly suggest (like the Council of Ex-Muslims bulletin board) that we should offer money to the Taliban to keep her, or conversely to demand a dowry payment for her; but that is not how things are done in Canada.  No Canadian deserves to have their head sawed off by Islamic zealots, not even the profoundly dense who were foolish enough to publicly support the Taliban’s cause.

If Ms. Giesbrecht is to receive poetic justice it should be in this country, under the rule of law she had so little affinity for.  She should be liberated from her captors, if possible, and then stand trial in this country for treason.  The idea that a Canadian should be able to waltz off to Taliban-dominated areas of Pakistan, and perform consequence-free PR work for them is ridiculous.  We may not saw her head off, but there is certainly a penalty for assisting an enemy at war with this nation.  There is also the possibility that this is merely a ruse to generate cash for the Taliban, and if so, that would certainly be evidence worthy of a high treason conviction.

Either way, she ought to stand trial.

Progressive is as progressive does

Russian President (now Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin,
fishing on the Khemchik River in the Republic of Tuva. August 15, 2007.

Action hero to a certain breed of recalcitrant leftist, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is now collecting worldwide accolades for convincing the Russian Cabinet to ban seal hunting.

The dewy-eyed innocence of baby seals has prompted a rare burst of environmental activism in Russia that has moved Vladimir Putin to end their slaughter. The annual spring cull in the northern White Sea region has been scrapped after Mr Putin condemned the clubbing of baby seals for their fur as a “bloody trade”.

The Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry said that it was responding to public concern, but the Prime Minister’s words appeared to have been decisive.

Yuri Trutnev, the Natural Resources Minister, reacted swiftly, outlawing the cull of harp seals younger than one year old after Mr Putin told a Cabinet meeting that “it’s clear that it should have been banned long ago”.

— Tony Halpin.  “Slaughter of the seals in Russia is stopped by Vladimir Putin“, London Times, March 20th, 2009.

Predictably, tyrant-loving Western celebrities, Canadian journalists and the soft-headed are tripping over each other in the rush to award Russia laurels for its belated discovery of an eco-conscience, while completely ignoring the nation’s long list of environmental catastrophes—including nuclear contamination of the Barents Sea and Sea of Japan, raw sewage pollution of the Baltic Sea, the almost complete dessication of the Aral Sea, chemical pollution of Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, not to mention numerous incidents of health-damaging air or water quality throughout the federation.  Putting radioactive waste water into the harp seals’ prime habitat is no biggie; all is now forgiven because Russians will no longer bash seals about the head once a year.

Harp seals are somewhat exotic creatures to us inland-dwellers in the Centre of the Universe; like earwigs, only with fewer nasty-looking pincers. I wouldn’t go out of my way to bash a seal in the head, but if I spot one crawling around a darkened kitchen, it’s a safe bet it’s going to die.  You let these things breed and eventually they’ll displace the city’s natural flora and fauna, like silverfish and raccoons.

To my mind it seems profoundly stupid to laud a guy for refraining from seal-bashing when, at the same time, he’s busy dumping thousands of litres of radioactive poison into the very place where the seals live.  But then I’m not a celebrity or a journalist.

How the Ummah Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Prostitution


Nikah Mut’ah (“pleasure marriage”) and Nikah Misyar (“travellers’ marriage”).

Yes, they are more or less exactly what they sound like.  A means of getting sexual stimulation in exchange for money, outside of the formal, lifelong civil and religious contracts of real marriage.

Mut’ah is the Shia variant, an association of mutual convenience with a specified end date.  Naturally the parties must agree on a duration, plus a payment, a.k.a. dowry.  Because of the mutually agreed expiry date, no divorce is necessary.  The couple do not inherit from each other.  The agreement can be solidified by verbal agreement; no paperwork.  The mut’ah “wives” are not counted as part of the Islamic maximum of four.  In fact, you can have up to four pleasure “wives” in addition to your four regular wives.  And, because this is good old misogynist Islam, the husband—not the “wife”—can void the contract early.

Misyar is the Sunni variant.  It requires mutual agreement, two witnesses, a payment, and no pre-conceived end date.  This provides it the valuable theological fig-leaf of possibly maybe being the beginning of a real lifelong marriage, as opposed to an entirely temporary association for banging.

Typically one of the preconditions for these so-called marriages is that the real wife (or wives) cannot know anything about them.  Hmmmm.

Again, because it is good old misogynist Islam, these things can be arranged with girls as young as nine.  Per the example of the Prophet, who consummated his relationship with Aisha when she reached the same age.

Interviewer: “How did you ever dare to sign a pleasure-marriage contract with a nine-year-old girl?”

Rami ‘Aleiq: “In our culture, in order to be able to touch a girl or a woman, there must be a contract of pleasure-marriage.”


Interviewer: “We are talking about a nine-year-old girl…”

Rami ‘Aleiq:
“Sure. In Islam, and this is what we were taught, a girl is mature from the age of nine. This is true with regard to Sunnis as well as Shiites. You are focusing on Shia Islam, because I am a Shiite, but according to religious jurisprudence, a girl is mature at the age of nine. This is where we got this idea. I was a child, and so was she, so I was not allowed to touch her, if I didn’t form with her the kind of relation that permitted this.”

—, “Former Hizbullah Member Rami ‘Aleiq: We Used to Have Sex with Syrian Prostitutes after Signing Temporary Marriage Contracts With Them“, March 3rd, 2009.


I’m not sure a nine-year-old girl can ever form proper legal intent by comprehending all of the possible ramifications of selling off her maidenhead at such a tender age.  I am sure in the proper Islamic context it is all wine, roses and Barry White, and not the horrific child-rape it appears to be.  Otherwise one might be tempted to infer that Islam is a not a religion which concerns itself overmuch with the thoughts and desires of its young women.  And that the example of the Prophet Mohammed is not one which any sane man should want to emulate.

So how do horny young Islamic lads hunt for wives-by-the-hour?  Surely it’s illegal for the women to stand on street corners in billowing burkas and show 7 inches of ankle to solicit?

Another way it’s being facilitated here in Saudi is through a clandestine marriage brokerage. Callers who dial any of five telephone numbers listed on a fax from such an office, get through to a taped message where a woman with an alluring voice tells them to punch in a secret code to learn more. “My dear brother,” says the fax. “May God help you find a wife (in passing) to compensate you for your troubled life. Know that the broker charges these prices. Five thousand Riyals for a virgin. Three thousand Riyals for a non-virgin.”

This is just the kind of offer that arouses intrigue in men, but unleashes fury among many women who say young Saudi males use the paperwork as a “license” to commit adultery or have sex outside of marriage (without bringing down the wrath of the religious establishment upon their heads). In fact, the service triggered a war of words in the newspapers as tales of marriage brokers luring thousands of Saudis spread in the Kingdom. “This is just like having a legalised mistress,” said one female columnist who has lambasted al-misyar pacts as an insult to the institution of marriage. “This is terrible. They are deceiving women. It’s like a man buying cows and sheep or watermelons,” she said.

— Laura of Arabia, “Pleasure Marriages“,

I think the entire edifice of Islam is deceiving to women, especially all that claptrap about protecting them beneath the niqab whilst the men are out getting religiously-sanctioned mistresses.  The more one reads about this kind of stuff, the more one gets the idea that Islam is less a religion than a particularly violent and demeaning cult whose focus is to funnel an unending supply of women into the 7th century’s version of Penthouse Forum.

Even the former Hezbollah man inadvertently lets the cat out of the bag.

Interviewer: “Are you for or against sex before marriage?”

Rami ‘Aleiq: “I’m for it.”

Interviewer: “But all religions forbid this.”

Rami ‘Aleiq: “I think that the way this issue is viewed is subject to social development, and religions need to be aware of social developments.”

Translation: I’d stay chaste but… I like the night life.  I like to boogie.

Interviewer: “[In your book,] you write: ‘When I went on trips, I used to go secretly with several young friends to the Al-Marja neighborhood in Damascus. We would go to a hotel in order to have sex with prostitutes for 500 Syrian liras per half hour.’ To justify this, you write: ‘None of us would make physical contact with the girl he chose before signing a formal pleasure-marriage contract with her.’ Isn’t marriage meant to be out of pure intentions? Weren’t you conning God this way?”

Rami ‘Aleiq: “You’re right. Pleasure-marriage means conning God, as well as ourselves. I am against this way of relating to sex and to women.

Conning God?  That’s rich. Galatians VI: 7-8 has your number.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

God’s not so dense that a little sleight-of-hand in the naming conventions is going to fool Him.  The Creator of the vast expanse of the universe is not going to get reeled into a two-bit con by a 7th century merchant-turned-pimp.  Sorry.

In the words of my prophet Dwayne Johnson, you can take your imam-blessed child prostitution, shine it up real nice, turn that sumbitch sideways, and shove it straight up your candy ass.

(Via Dust my Broom.)