I grew up in Iowa and live in New York, so Canada has never seemed like a far away place, and Canadians never seemed particularly exotic. (That's perhaps with apologies to my Canadian friends: Ami who's returned to Winnipeg, John who's from Niagara, Mark from Quebec.) Canadian history is fasinating. Canada's premier history magazine is The Beaver, and Canadian History for Dummies is a good resource as well. It's by Will Ferguson who wrote about key varieties of iconic Canadian character-types in The New York Times recently. Also see the webpage for episode 32 of BBC Radio 4's This Sceptred Isle series.
From a great article by Sidney Blumenthal, Salon.com:
But how did it happen that al-Qaida in Iraq, sworn enemy of Saddam Hussein and his secularism, operating in isolation prior to 9/11, though almost certainly with the connivance and protection of Kurdish leader and current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, has come to thrive under the U.S. occupation? And since AQI represents perhaps 1 percent or less of the insurgent strength, how can it be depicted as the main foe, capable of seizing state power? The other Sunni insurgent groups increasingly view it as an impediment to their own ambitions and have marked it for elimination. Rather than address these problematic complexities, Bush points the finger of blame at U.S. senators who dare to question his policy. "Those who justify withdrawing our troops from Iraq by denying the threat of al-Qaida in Iraq and its ties to Osama bin Laden ignore the clear consequences of such a retreat."
MySwitzerland.com--the offical website of Switzerland Tourism--is now offering GLBT tourism content, including podcasts. Imagine if the US government launched such a program--active online outreach to gay and lesbians from abroad, welcoming them to US shores? Yeah, right. The United States actively seeks to keep foreign gays and lesbian from entering the country, particularly for work or immigration (learn more from immigrationequality.com).
According to the War Room (another day, another hat-tip to a Salon.com blog, currently with Digby at its helm while the author's away),
Zalmay Khalilzad, former ambassador to Iraq and now to the United Nations, has an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times today in which he basically makes the case to punt the entire thorny mess of Iraq's political impasse to the United Nations.
He says that with the "right envoy" and the "right mandate," "in the role of mediator, [the U.N.] has inherent legitimacy and the flexibility to talk to all parties, including elements outside the political process." He then basically says it should be put in charge of ending the civil war, solving all the problems in the region and bringing about peace in the Middle East -- all the things the U.S. has failed to do. It's quite a turnabout for an administration whose last U.N. ambassador once said that "if 10 floors of the 38-story U.N. headquarters building were eliminated, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
Remember the ridicule Rep. Dennis Kucinich used to get, during his 2004 presidential run, over his refrain about the Iraq mess-of-Bush's-creation: "US out; UN in." It wasn't a stupid idea then, and it still isn't. Just ask Khalilzad.
Joan Walsh of Salon said it well regarding Bush's press conference last week: "In an administration constantly reaching new milestones of dishonesty and incompetence, yesterday was a different level of scary."
This occurring as "Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff bewildered the nation with his 'gut feeling' that a new terror strike is coming this summer."
This occurring also in light of Salon's Glenn Greenwald's great piece (highlighted on Isebrand.com) taking to task The New York Times and Michael Gorden for helping the Bush administration's efforts to conflate Bin Laden's al-Qaida and elements now at work against US actions in Iraq).
study, by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, [that] argues that..."the Iraq conflict has greatly increased the spread of al-Qa'ida ideological virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea.
"Our study shows that the Iraq war has generated a stunning increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and civilian lives lost. Even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one third."