Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Down the rabbit hole and into an Arab jail

Babble on.

I guarantee you that every single drug dealer in the entire world who read this story laughed his ass off.

Bert Tatham, 35, who advised the Afghan government on eradicating opium poppy crops, was arrested in April during a layover at Dubai International Airport while en route to Canada from Afghanistan.

The Vancouver resident was caught with 0.6 grams of hashish and two poppy bulbs, and pleaded not guilty during an arraignment last week. His lawyer is expected to appeal the sentence handed down Tuesday.

The prison sentence is a "cruel reward" for the dangerous work his son did in Kandahar, his father said.

Bert Tatham worked as a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and as an adviser to the Afghan government's poppy elimination program.


The poppy bulbs his son was carrying could not be used for opium production, as they had been harvested several years ago, he said.

"He was bringing those home for show-and-tell, basically," Tatham added.

As for the hashish, Tatham says his son is "mystified" as to how such a tiny amount became lodged in the seam of his pants.

"It is ubiquitous in Kandahar area and he was involved occasionally in the burning of drugs, and it was passed around socially as far as we know," he said.

Most stories I read where someone says "it wasn't my stuff!" make the needle on my Cynic-O-Meter redline in an instant. How can you have drugs on you by accident?

Except in this guy's case, where it's completely plausible. He was involved with both the United Nations and the Afghan government in confiscating and burning poppies and hashish. I'll make you a bet that if you had tested Canadian soldiers for trace amounts of marijuana in their system after their adventures last fall, they might have run into problems with the Dubai judiciary as well.

If evidence surfaces next week that Tatham was masterminding an international drug-smuggling cartel and using his official position as cover, I'll revise my position, but given the information we see in the public domain right now, I'd say this is a terrible miscarriage of justice.

Time for Canadian diplomats, Afghan officials who were employing him, and the United Nations bureaucrats who contracted him to intervene on his behalf with the government in Dubai.

Babble off.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Reluctant lumberjack

Babble on.

That was a pretty freaky storm that went through the GTA yesterday. When I arrived home, I found I was short half a cherry tree.

It was leaning on the back fence, so I borrowed a chain-saw from my Dad and started cutting the downed half up into firewood. Looking at the trunk, I'm not sure the other half can even be saved. I guess there was rot in there to begin with, which is probably what weakened it enough to split like that.

Luckily none of the other trees on the property were damaged. We have another six large trees, one of which is a bit too close to the power lines for my comfort, but they were all OK.

But the cherry coming down is a real bummer. We've only been in this house a year now, and I was looking forward to another delicious crop this year. The blossoms this past spring were spectacular...I'm going to really miss that.

It could be worse, I know.

But what a damned shame.

Babble off.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cultivated fantasy

Babble on.

It sucks when the numbers get in the way of a "good idea."

Is it time we started calling this supposed solution an opiate for the opium problem?

(It should be noted that Bruce Rolston covered this argument even more comprehensively on his blog almost six months ago.)

Babble off.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gunning for the truth

Babble on.

Y'know, when the people paid to inform the public do anything but, it's no wonder we can't seem to have a reasoned debate about anything substantive anymore.

Babble off.