Author: Kate

UN Oil For Palaces Program

Roger Simon has been on the UN Oil-For-Food scandal for weeks, and finally, the New York Times has broken the story in a big way.

Perhaps the best measure of the corruption comes from a review of the $8.7 billion in outstanding oil-for-food contracts by the provisional Iraqi government with United Nations help. It found that 70 percent of the suppliers had inflated their prices and agreed to pay a 10 percent kickback, in cash or by transfer to accounts in Jordanian, Lebanese and Syrian banks.
At that rate, Iraq would have collected as much as $2.3 billion of the $32.6 billion worth of contracts it signed since mid- 2000, when the kickback system began. And some companies were willing to pay even more than the standard 10 percent, according to Trade and Oil Ministry employees.
Iraq’s suppliers included Russian factories, Arab trade brokers, European manufacturers and state-owned companies from China and the Middle East. Iraq generally refused to buy directly from American companies, which in any case needed special licenses to trade legally with Iraq.

No war, For Oil.

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.
That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.
The vouchers had considerable value. With the major oil companies monopolizing most Persian Gulf oil, there was fierce competition among smaller traders for the chance to buy Iraqi oil. And as long as Iraq kept its oil prices low enough, traders could make a tidy profit, even after buying the voucher and paying the surcharge

Scott Ott called ’em as he saw em…

Other Iraqi officials said the ministries were forced to order goods from companies and countries according to political expediency instead of quality.
“There would be an order that out of $2 billion for the Trade Ministry and Health Ministry, $1 million would have be given to Russian companies and $500 million to Egyptians,” said Nidhal R. Mardood, a 30-year veteran employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, where he is now the director-general for finance.
“It depended on what was going on in New York at the U.N. and which country was on the Security Council,” he added. “They apportioned the amounts according to politics.”
One result, for Iraqis, was a mishmash of equipment: fire trucks from Russia, earth- moving machines from Jordan, station wagons from India, trucks from Belarus and garbage trucks from China.

The Chretien government’s steadfast support of the United Nations makes one wonder if the federal Liberals weren’t handing out advertising contracts in Iraq.
More links, including one to the NYT article, at Outsidethebeltway

From A Yeeeaarrh To A Whimper

Washington Post has a piece on the former Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean that is certain to deflate the idealism of the “grassroots” behind his campaign. It seems that when he urged his supporters to help him “take back your country”, he wasn’t quite sure he wanted it all that much.

The feuding and backbiting that plagued the Howard Dean campaign had turned utterly poisonous. Behind the facade of a successful political operation, senior officials plotted against each other, complained about the candidate and developed one searing doubt.
Dean, they concluded, did not really want to be president.
In different conversations and in different ways, according to several people who worked with him, Dean said at the peak of his popularity late last year that he never expected to rise so high, that he didn’t like the intense scrutiny, that he had just wanted to make a difference. “I don’t care about being president,” he said. Months earlier, as his candidacy was taking off, he told a colleague: “The problem is, I’m now afraid I might win.”

A lot of people were afraid you might win, Howard Dean. They had the right instincts, and to your credit, so did you.
The WaPo piece tells a story of a campaign of internal distrust. For example, The Al Gore endorsement was kept secret from Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi.

It was, instead, a dysfunctional political family, filled with tales of blocking access to the candidate, neutralizing internal rivals, trying to penalize reporters deemed unfriendly. And some of its members just plain despised each other.

I wonder what the chick who sold her bike to give the money to your campaign is thinking right now – and how many disillusioned young “Deaniacs” may turn their backs on politics altogether. That would be the greater shame.

Mutant Ninja Turtles No More

Somebody, pinch me.
Former conjoined tortoises go separate ways at home

The former conjoined tortoises — who drew worldwide media attention when they were separated in a delicate three-hour operation February 8 — returned home to Tucson, Arizona, this week showing signs of relishing their separate lives, owners Sharon and Bobby Ehasz said.

They didn’t. Tell me they didn’t do this.

Ehasz said his wife worries that bills will keep piling up to care for the 4-inch turtles, whose scars are covered in gauze hardened with epoxy. Already, the couple said they used part of their tax refund check to pay roughly $300 in anesthesia bills. That’s in addition to $700 they shelled out to buy the 3-year-old reptiles in December.
More hospital stays and surgeries also may be needed to correct a curvature in the turtles’ bottom shell, which keeps them from walking properly.

Let’s see if I’m following this so far. They took the world’s only known uber-mutant turtles, worth $700 US and invested a further $300 to turn them into 2 lumps of worthless algae growth medium, one of which could yet depart its mortal coil.

“It’s all worked out the way it should have so far,” Ehasz said, thanking a handful of donors who helped pay for medicines and a new plexiglass-enclosed home he’s building for the pets. “It’s our responsibility to keep taking care of them.”

No Ehasz, had it worked out the way it should have, there would be a flock of happy seagulls preening turtle guts off their feathers.
At this point, there are some commentators who might exclaim “Only in America!”
Uh, no.
Only in Some Whirling Alternate Universe of Rock Hard Stupid.

Wan Chop Dong

In a reversal of fortune…

Beijing – A Chinese transsexual has been barred from competing in the 2004 Miss Universe competition because she was born a man, organisers said on Friday.
Chen Lili, a 24-year-old fashion model from China’s south-western Sichuan province, would have been the first transgender woman to vie for the title.
“The sex of the candidates should be female at birth and cannot be artificially changed,” Miss Universe selection committee chairperson Zhang Ruiling told reporters.

So there. Find your own sandbox. You don’t get to play our games until you’ve had PMS, buddy.

A Strong Message

Japan cult leader sentencing

Shoko Asahara, leader of the Japanese cult that released sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway in 1995, was sentenced to hang for multiple charges of murder today.

It has taken 8 years to get to a verdict and sentencing, Asahara can count on another 16 years before his appointment with the rope.
That’ll teach these terrorist folks a few thing or two about the consequences of using WMD’s !

Oh, That Conservative Hating Media

Tonight’s top stories on CTV National News:

9. Rosie O’Donnell marriage
8. Howard Stern / Clear Channel story
7. Canadian boy scout leader caught with kiddie porn
6. Man arrested for killing air traffic controller in Europe
5. Blair spy story [ed – Claire Short’s allegations reported as fact]
4. Crisis In Haiti
3. ´┐ŻU.S. judge blocks Conrad Black’s newspaper sale
2. Fraud and illegal trading at CIBC, Canada’s second largest bank.
And… Canada’s number one news story for Feb.26, 2004?
A month old misdirected letter.
1. Stephen Harper, a candidate for the the bigotted, stupid, redneck, rightwing Reform Conservative Party leadership, issued an apology for an error in which a letter intended for the Canadian Indian community was sent to an (Aboriginal) Indian Friendship Center.

Read the item. They certainly don’t waste an opportunity to pile on, do they?

Sgt. Stryker

Maybe, we could get it right on this try, but if we did (and I say we did) it wasn’t with the help of people like Jane Fonda, and John Kerry. It wasn’t enough to slime people like Charlie and other veterans with accusations of wall to wall atrocities, it wasn’t enough to render further assistance to South Vietnam politically untouchable after 1972, when it came to taking responsibility for the people whom their actions drove into the refugee camps (or the re-education camps, or the killing fields), they were nowhere to be seen. They had moved on, leaving other people to sort out the wreckage and the misery. People, you can make bad decisions— god knows, I’ve made a few— but the people I respect take responsibility when the bad decision has bad consequences.

Go read it all.
via Instapundit

Of Menses And Moonbats

If the NDP ever form government, please, someone – take me hunting.
CBC news:

Removal of GST sought for hygiene products
A Manitoba MP says it’s a tax that discriminates against women, and she wants it scrapped. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the NDP MP for Winnipeg-North Centre, has introduced a private member’s bill, demanding that the GST not be added to the price of feminine hygiene products.

The battle has been raging for two decades.

“By what possible stretch of his mean, male-minded imagination could he impose a tax on tampons and sanitary napkins — which is a direct tax to the women of this province?” Copps, now the federal heritage minister, said in May 1982.

In 2002, the Ontario NDP urged a national campaign:

Charging GST on feminine hygiene products is a discriminatory gender tax that ought to be abolished, Ontario’s New Democrats said Friday ….
“It is an unfair tax and it is discriminatory,” said Marilyn Churley, women’s critic for Ontario’s NDP. “It taxes a bodily function that is central to womanhood and family life.”

Listen up, you stupid, stupid bitches. Our forebears did not fight for women’s suffrage so that you could stand up and embarrass us in the House Of Commons by yacking about tampons. Had they known you were going to do this, they would have returned to their kitchens and kicked off their shoes in shame.
Enough, already.

Just What The World Needs

Michael Moore with tits.
In addition to serving as chief role model for those aspiring to rise to the level of trailer trash, Rosie O’Donnell is a whining testimony to the willingness of the media to
give a soapbox to stupid rich people.

“I think the actions of the president yesterday, which are, you know, in my opinion, the most vile and hateful words ever spoken by a single president in my opinion. I am stunned, and I am horrified,” she said.

Most Hateful Words Spoken By A President List – Updated!

1. Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.” – President George W. Bush
2. “These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.” – President Dwight D Eisenhower

Wosie is vewy, vewy, vewy, vewy angwy at the Fiwst Wady, too.

In addition to being angry at the president, O’Donnell was also stung by remarks from First lady Laura Bush, who said that she found the fact that gays were standing in line to get married in San Francisco “very, very, very, very shocking.”

Hey, who is ABC news quoting? Someone’s added a couple of extra very‘s here…
Update – Robert Prather is punishing this insult as well.

Small Live Animals – Week 6

No pictures today.

The puppies
are the result of a test breeding for an inherited eye defect – retinal dysplasia. A recessive genetic defect, the dysplasia can be severe enough to cause blindness through retinal detachments and is present at birth.
I had the misfortune to discover this gene had been quietly introduced into a previously clear line I had been carefully building for nearly 20 years. Because it was recessive, there were no clues as to what was happening. None of my original dogs carried the gene, so the puppies continued to be born with normal eyes, though more and more were genetic carriers. By the time the first affected was born, the damage was done. Most of my top breeding dogs were carriers, or offspring of carriers, including two who have nearly 30 Best In Show wins between them.
The only silver lining is that RD is present at birth, and that makes it controllable. We can ensure that no buyer is ever sold an affected puppy through a routine opthalmologists examination.
I agreed to participate in a formal research program at the veterinary college at the University of Saskatchewan to research the defect (it was previously unrecognized as a breed related defect) and to establish the mode of inheritance. Representational differencial analysis is being used to try to locate the actual gene responsible and develop a screening test.
But that doesn’t solve the immediate problem. Which dogs to breed? Carriers are phenotypically identical to clears. Most animals carry an average of 5 defective alleles (humans included) , and purebred dogs generally carry even heavier genetic loads due to their small founder base and closed gene pools. Simply discarding high risk dogs and starting over wasn’t a rational solution. The line was very healthy in other respects, and clear of some nasty health problems that are common in other families.
The goal became to eliminate the gene itself, over the span of several generations, preserving the quality and general good health of the animals. Short form – dump the gene, save the line. Or, failing that, save the line and control the gene by planning breedings that prevent its expression.
The actual sifting process involves test matings of normal eyed dogs to mates who are homozygous affected. (The affected test dogs live normal lives as house pets, and most are sighted.) A simple, autosomal recessive trait, retinal dysplasia “takes two to tango” . The puppy must recieve two defective alleles, one from each parent, to have the defect.
If so much as a single puppy is affected, it proves the normal eyed dog is a carrier and any breeding must be carefully controlled, if he/she is bred at all.
If the puppies are all normal eyed, a mathematical probability is assigned to the dog tested. A dog with 3 normal puppies from an affected mate has a 87.5% probability of being clear of the gene – a dog with 6 puppies has a 98.5% probability clear. By using dogs with a “high probability clear”, in favour of unknowns and retiring carriers, we prevent the defect is being spread into the gene pool.
Recessive defects are particularly damaging in a closed gene pool where it is possible for one dog to sire hundreds of puppies in a relatively short time. One carrier sire can turn a rare defect into a very common one in only a few generations, especially if a few of his sons become similarly popular at stud. So, while crude, and unpleasant, a litter of affected puppies can prevent the birth of many, many more, in generations to come.
At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
The puppies were examined today, and of the seven, five were affected with retinal dysplasia. The laws of probabilities are not kind. A large litter can be a train wreck. With a guarded prognosis and little demand for test breeding males, I left two of the male puppies behind. Their retinas were harvested to provide additional RNA for dna studies. Small dead animals.
The two who are normal will go to pet homes, and will be sterilized. The affected male puppy is going to Maryland to be used to test breed several females in kennels in the US, one of the affected females is going to a loving pet home that has had previous experience with a blind dog. The third affected female’s fate is uncertain at the moment. She may have a future as a test breeding bitch, she may not.
Me? Me thinks I need a another drink.

GST Advice

Well, I’m nothing if not a woman of diverse talents….
Colby Cosh is lamenting the arrival of a book he is to review, and the accompanying GST and postal handling fee.

Good news: the postman finally arrived with the latest book I’m supposed to review for The American Spectator! The bad news: he held out his hand for $7.51 when he handed it over. Huh? Surely they don’t send packages postage-due anymore… No, the $7.51 was a smidgen of GST, plus, naturally, a $5 “handling fee”, because it requires rather a lot of work for Customs to do the math of figuring out 7% of the price of a book.
But I haven’t bought this book, I told the postman: it’s been sent to me free so I can review it. How can you charge me GST on an article when no sale has taken place?

From the firm of McMillan, McMillan and McMillan, I can offer readers this bit of advice: I think Mr. Cosh is screwed in this instance, unless he plans to alter the book and return it – a few strokes of yellow highlighter, perhaps ?
Under the EOPS Program (Exporter of Processing Services) goods imprted for repair or alteration:
Customs memorandum D8-I-I Temporary importation of goods into Canada.
Special tariff item 9993.00.00 – duty free
GST – special authority # 16-08921663
No postal handling fee is applicable.
Well, sometimes that works. Often, despite chapter and verse loudly displayed on the box, the bike helmets I recieve for custom painting still have an invoice attached. This is no small irritation – to get a helmet insured for several hundred bucks released by the post office, I have to pay their 7% ransom. That’s a pretty good chunk of my profit, you know? But if I send it back, I have a cranky customer and no profit at all.
But at least I can claim a 100% refund of the fees upon shipping it back to the owner. (The application form for the refund is on the Customs invoice itself). I always include a snarky letter though, informing them of the meaning of the word “exempt” and suggesting they check into an employee literacy program.
That also applies to the GST invoices you recieve from customs brokers (UPS is a master at this) after the fact. Don’t pay those fees if your package has been properly marked – tell them to shove it. Send them the memorandum info and inpugn their professional credentials. They have no right to collect, don’t have to remit, and it’s not up to you to solve their self inflicted accounting problems.

He Died, To Save Others

Fall kills student
[Who are they kidding? This was a cull. -ed]

A Carleton University engineering student participating in a spitting contest with friends plunged 11 floors off a downtown highrise to his death late Saturday night. Ameer “AJ” Jinah was celebrating his 20th birthday in his apartment with about a dozen friends when the accident happened about 11 p.m.
Police said it appears Jinah took a running start to try to spit farther than his two friends when he unintentionally vaulted himself over the balcony railing.
“It was purely accidental,” said Ottawa police Sgt. Joe Simpson. “Momentum carried him beyond.
Police said alcohol was being consumed at the party.

They don’t make Engineering Students the way they used to. But think of the bright side – how many lives were saved because of his absense from the construction industry?

“He was one of the smartest, most polite guys I ever met in my life,” he said. “I think he was one of the classiest guys. He had a maturity beyond his age.”

He was three? Maybe I’m being harsh.

The Slush Thickens

The CTV news:

According to a report in The Toronto Star, the environment minister’s staff helped a music festival secure the funding from the scandal-ridden federal sponsorship program singled out in the recent Auditor General’s report.
In the report from Ottawa, the newspaper said long-standing federal Liberal Party member Jamie Kelley approached Anderson’s constituency office in 2001 for help with the event.
The office was eager to help, he said.
“They told me of a secret slush fund where they could access money for constituency programs. There was no application form, no process other than to write a letter (to Public Works).”
After writing a four-page letter and following up with phone calls to the Minister’s office, he was assured Anderson had personally taken his file to then public works minister Alfonso Gagliano.

In the latest mea not culpa, Environment Minister David Anderson is denying that there was anything wrong with the transaction. Well, I guess he would, eh?
In other Adscam news, three Crown Corporation heads have been disciplined pending further review – Via Rail President Marc Lefrancois, Canada Post President Andre Ouellet and Michel Vennat, president of the Business Development Bank.
Andrew Coyne has lots of links, and this observation:

“Suspended? “Disciplined”? After the Beaudoin affair, why hasn’t Vennat been charged with something?”

New Listing

New Listing Prime location southwest of Kabul, within marching walking distance of downtown attractions. Beautiful mountain vistas.
Distinctive character home, ideal for the “fixer upper”. Outbuildings in good repair, suitable for moving, plenty of parking. Many upgrades, including an open air gymnasium and running track. Nightly fireworks. more

Subdivision potential.
Owner has over $90 million invested, open to offers.