Stuff Still Happens, week 12: Bombings, and bodies, keep piling up

Another week, another atrocity.

This time, it’s Brussels, Belgium (a city described in January by Donald Trump as a “hellhole”) that came under sophisticated and yet cowardly attack by ISIS on Tuesday. Bombs went off in three locations leaving at least 30 people dead. That an attack would happen in Brussels is hardly surprising. The city, and in particular a quarter called Molenbeek, is a hotbed of Islamic extremism. The last known suspect in the Paris bombings was captured in Molenbeek just days before, and the leader of the Paris attacks was from Belgium. In fact, Belgium has been the leading western supplier of Islamic State fighters; almost 500 Belgium citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq. Authorities believe about 100 have returned to Belgium. So, chances are that this won’t be the last terrorist attack on Belgium.

While Brussels has garnered the headlines, here are a few of the other terrorist attacks this year that haven’t, probably because they did not occur in western nations:

• February 20, 2016. A group of al-Qaeda backed militants attacked the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. At least 30 people were killed, and another 56 were wounded.

• Ankara bombing: February 17, 2016. Kurdish freedom fighters attacked a convoy of buses killing military personnel and civilians during evening rush hour. At least 29 people were killed and another 60 people were injured.

• Mogadishu hotel attack: February 26, 2016. A group of militants linked to al-Shabbab killed at least 15 people and left others wounded after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the gate of the SYL hotel in Mogadishu.

• Grand-Bassam resort shootings: March 13, 2016. Eighteen killed and another 33 were injured when an al-Qaeda-linked group attacked the Étoile du Sud hotel.

• Ankara bombing: March 13, 2016. Thirty-seven killed people and another 127 people injured. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed responsibility for the assault.

• Istanbul bombing: March 19, 2016. Four by a suicide bomber; another 36 people were wounded by the attack on Istanbul’s main shopping street.

Oh, and this just in: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a soccer stadium south of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Friday, killing 29 people. ISIS claims responsibility.

A federal budget that was a blockbuster

Justin Trudeau further distanced itself from that last guy who was prime minister with his first budget. While that Harper fellow was not big on spending, the Trudeau government believes spending will boost the economy, so spend they will. The fact that we don’t have the money to spend has proven to be no barrier. The deficit, which Trudeau promised would be $10 billion, is going to be $29 billion, and that’s just the beginning. There’s money for families, money for infrastructure, money for First Nations, money for everybody except, it appears, me. The government is even going to reduce the eligibility period to claim Employment Insurance in certain areas — but not Edmonton. While all of Alberta will have faster access to EI, Edmonton stays the same. Apparently, Edmonton is thriving compared to the rest of Alberta. Must be news to hundreds of newly-jobless Edmontonians.

Hey, ladies! Jian Ghomeshi is on the market!

Former CBC Radio star Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of all sexual assault charges at the conclusion of one of the most closely watched, luridly reported trials in Canadian history. It really came as no surprise that Ghomeshi was found not guilty; his accusers sent him love letters (and worse) after the alleged assaults. Worse yet, the women didn’t tell the Crown that they continued to communicate with Ghomeshi, a fact that wasn’t revealed until the trial. Basically, the women destroyed their credibility, and they had no one to blame but themselves for keeping vital information away from the police. To some, of course, they are victims of Ghomeshi and the system. They are, in fact, victims of their own stupidity. Ghomeshi is clearly a creep and probably did assault the women, but probably doesn’t count in court.

Can’t we go one week without something from Trump?

No, apparently not. This week, Trump reacted to an alleged slight on his trophy wife Melania. He Tweeted this comment: “Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” Cruz later called Trump a “snivelling coward”, and told Trump to “leave Heidi the hell alone”. Yep, now they’re dragging their wives into the muck. Oh, and the National Enquirer has weighed in with report that Ted Cruz has had affairs. I don’t believe this story for a moment. I mean, c’mon, have you seen this guy? As Conan O’Brien put it, he looks like a melted candle.

New Zealand voted on a new flag…and guess how it turned out?

I have a thing for New Zealand. Although I’ve never been, and probably never will visit, I’ve always thought it seems like a great place to live, the Canada of the southern hemisphere. Anyway, The Kiwis have been engaged in a debate, in a low-key sort of way, over their flag. The prime minister, John Key, was very enthusiastic about the idea, even if the country itself seemed indifferent. Still, the public submitted 10,000 designs, and after winnowing down the choices, a vote was held this week. The decision, after the $27 million vote? Keep the existing flag. I guess we can be thankful that we didn’t have a referendum on our flag back in 1965. My guess is that we would have stuck with the old Red Ensign.


Gary Shandling, 66, a comedian’s comedian, a great stand up comic and star of two groundbreaking TV shows, It’s Gary Shandling’s Show and The Gary Shandling Show. If you’ve never watched either show, do yourself a favour and watch at least one. Truly one of the best stand ups, a giant in the comedy community …  Rob Ford, 46, corpulent, bombastic former mayor of Toronto. When Ford became embroiled in a crack smoking scandal (one of many scandals), he became the most famous Canadian in the world, much to the chagrin and shame of most Canadians. … Johan Cruyff, 68, one of the Netherlands’ greatest ever soccer players … Jo Garagiola, 90, former baseball player who became better known as an announcer … Ken Howard, 71, familiar film and TV actor, best known for his lead role in the 1970s TV series The White Shadow.


By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

1 comment

  1. Good column Maurice. I didn’t realize just how many other terrorist incidents have occurred recently (outside the “western” world). That is a terrible body count.

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